Motivating oneself to get out and about on those misty, damp winter days can be hard yakka at the best of times. Throw in a steep hill, two cabin feverish kids and twenty minutes of Wellie-wearing cycling, and all of a sudden that previously yearned for trip to our offsite, community food garden becomes a feat comparable to one of the twelve labours of Hercules!
Until our stint in Western Canada, I never really understood what it meant to feel cold. A month after the birth of K1, Scott and I decided to take advantage of the warmer, Chinook-wind-induced change in the ambient air temperature and take our beautiful new baby on a maiden excursion to a nearby lake.
Sometime after we had donned our outdoor kit – four layers of winter jumpers; insulated snow pants (snow-suit-onesie for K1); double-knitted, woolen socks; sheep-skin lined beanies; and K1’s custom-made, winter car-seat/stroller capsule liner – we were ready to drive our snow tyred sedan five minutes down the road to our destination.
Following our arrival at the mostly abandoned car park, we were greeted by some chipper emergency service workers enjoying a morning-tea break from their rather industrious rescue maneuvers: cutting through the solid surface of the lake to extract manikin-esque objects floating beneath the 12” thick ice sheet. After an animated exchange of weather-centered banter, we began our invigorating, -17oC waterside stroll.
The atmosphere about the lake was one of idyllic calm. The skeletal frames of the littoral oak trees were dressed in delicate layers of soft, cloud-like snow. The water edge reeds, struggling to surface through mounding, white hillocks, stood erect: their icy white fronds glistening in the dappled, winter sunlight. And the once green field – picturesquely dotted with local wild flowers during the warmer months – was now covered in a carpet of thick snow, the occasional track, made by a raccoon or prairie dog, zippering its way over the natural, snow drift formed undulations. Relishing in the clean air and the freedom of the outdoors, Scott and I had become ignorant of the rapidly changing weather conditions.
Upon exiting a woodland stretch of our five kilometre journey, we were met with a horizontal, blizzard-like storm. Being an equidistant, fifteen minute walk from the car in either direction, our previous state of blissful tranquility was replaced with one of sheer panic. My heart began pounding as if set to an allegro paced metronome and images of our fossilised corpses, buried under six feet of snow, billowed from the limbic center of my brain. Frozen in body and spirit, I shot Scott a desperate, solution-inducing look…
From across the opposite side of the lake, piercing its way though the now thick haze of fusillading snow, we heard the rapid battering of the emergency workers’ jackhammer, chipping its way through the cement-like ice.
Pupils locked, I read his mind completely. Eyebrows furrowed and arms resolutely folded across my chest, I launch two steadfastly articulated words at Scotts’ impish mien…
Living in prairie-land Canada was an insightful time in our parenting life. Not just for it’s lessons in risk assessment but also in how to dress appropriately for outings in cooler weather climates. This year, when Wellies (or Gumboots…as we call them in the Land Downunder) were added to the essential, Undercovid-Community-Garden uniform list, I tapped into my layering learnings of Wester-Canada-year and conjured an easy-knit accessory to shield those little scotch eggs against the force of the midwinter air.
For anyone keen to add a pragmatically pretty touch to those rubber-tight daisy roots, I present to you my pattern for…
Knitted Boot Cuffs
Ever since my young, dairy-farming-girl days – when, on the weekend of our towns’ annual agricultural show, I would sit for hours at a time in the craft pavilion watching the local CWA (Country Women’s Association) women spinning wool from a freshly shorn fleece – I had always wanted to learn to spin my own knitting yarn. A few years back, when I was between babies, I finally enrolled in a course at our local weavers and spinners association. Let’s just say, I’ve been a dyed-in-the-wool fan of creating my own yarn, ever since!
I naturally spin a 10 – 12 WPI, heavy weight yarn. This pattern, however, is very forgiving and, using the same size knitting needles, you can achieve an equivalent product using a mid-weight yarn instead. Happy knitting.
5 x double point, 6 mm needles
2 x 100g skeins (or balls) of heavy weight yarn
Stitch marker (optional)
Terminology: R = round; P = pearl; K = knit; P2tog = pearl 2 together;
R1: cast on 52 stitches. Divide the stitches evenly (I place an even number of stitches on each needle) about four needles, being careful not to twist the knitted yarn. Insert a stitch marker (I use the tail of the starting yarn as a counting guide instead).
R2: knit into the back of the stitches to form a neat edge. Ensure the yarn is pulled tightly when knitting around a corner so that the finished product has a neat and consistent appearance.
R3-8 : (K2, P2) repeat to end (double ribbing)
If using a different colour for the patterned section then switch yarns now.
R9-10 : (P2, K2), repeat to end
R11-12 : (K2, P2), repeat to end
R13-14 : (P2, K2), repeat to end
R15-16 : (K2, P2), repeat to end
R17-18 : (P2, K2), repeat to end
R19-20 : (K2, P2), repeat to end
R21-22 : (P2, K2), repeat to end
R23-24 : (K2, P2), repeat to end
R25 : (K1, P2) x 5, K1, P2tog, (K1, P2) x 5, K1, P2tog, (K1, P2) x 5, K1, P2tog, (K1, P2) x 5, K1, P2tog
Switch back to original, ribbing yarn, if using two different colours
R26-40 : (K1, P1), repeat to end (single ribbing)
R41 : cast off. Darn in any loose threads.
If you are feeling particularly adventurous or your impatient, boot-cuff wanting kids happen to find you a nice looking eucalypt branch, you can always try your hand at fashioning yourself some button sized adornments.
To wear, first pull the boot cuffs onto your leg, button side facing your outer leg and single ribbing end closest to your foot. Put on your boots, gently guiding the cuffs into the inside of the boot. Fold the top half of the cuff (I usually fold it to the start of the patterned section) over the outside of the boot.
Now you’re ready to get boot scootin’ into that garden. Yeehaa!!!