A Day to Keep House


We got two more inches of snow on Tuesday, which doesn’t sound like much but we hadn’t completely recovered out here from the foot of snow the week before Christmas. I wasn’t very excited about going out, but I had a couple of things to do so I crept down my driveway in four wheel drive Tuesday afternoon. By the time I came back, it was dark and icy. Our dirt/rock road never sees a snow plow or a salt truck. It was completely covered in snow. There is one particularly bad spot on the hill and if anything stops us from getting out in winter other than high water, it’s that stretch of road. If you slide one way, you’ll end up stuck in a ditch up against the hill. If you slide the other way, you better have your will updated because you’ll go over a sheer drop and we are too macho (or something) to have guard rails out here.

I spent about twenty minutes going down about 100 feet on that hill. One inch at a time. There’s a hairpin turn at the bottom so if you go out of control there, you’ll slam into a hill rising up straight ahead at the bottom. Okay, have you got this now? If you start sliding….. Straight ahead–slam into a hill. To the left–drop off the side of the hill. To the right–stuck in the ditch. If you just decide to STOP and get out to walk, you get to walk through three icy creeks before you get home. You can’t go back–that way, it’s two miles to anyone. And really, you can’t stop because the road is so narrow, you’d block anyone else who might want to travel the road. (Which isn’t much of anyone, but they’d sure be annoyed with you.)

But! I made it down the hill to the bottomland where the rest of the road is (somewhat) flat and you just have to drive through the creeks. (Hey, driving through the creeks is THE EASY PART.)

There are always days–sometimes weeks–in the winter when I have to give up driving up and down the driveway and just park at the bottom for the duration. This is why ALL THE STOCKING UP. When you’re parking at the bottom, getting supplies up the hill to our house means carrying groceries up the steep, icy driveway in your hands. Feeling almost cocky about my success thus far, and not having yet had to park at the bottom of the driveway, I went for it on Tuesday night. I’m not ready for bottom parking yet.

Halfway up, I slid back down, in the dark, backwards, out of control, careening toward either a smashing stop into the gate or hey, maybe just over the side of the hill. I think that was the longest five seconds of my life. I almost couldn’t believe it when I came to a stop. I had actually managed to steer, in the dark, backwards, on ice, to where I had stayed on the driveway. I decided that was quite victorious enough and I left my Explorer right there.
For whatever reason (hmmm), yesterday I decided not to go anywhere. I think I was suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome from sliding down the driveway in the dark. I stayed home, and kept house. I like to keep house. I’m often so busy, I just rush through necessary daily chores without getting that real, slow, deliberate sense of housekeeping that comes from tending to small things. Keeping house makes me feel like a cat. Content. I made more homemade baking mix. I refilled my flour, sugar, and brown sugar canisters as well as all the salt shakers.
I organized and put away some of the Christmas things (not the tree just yet). I made bread. I simmered a pot of beans. I changed out the potpourri dish on the coffee table. (I just used dried orange slices and twig stars for now.)
Outside, I did all my usual farm chores, only I didn’t hurry. I refilled the chickens’ feeder and broke up their water. I hunted eggs and I coaxed most of the chickens out of the house.
I fed hay to the goats and Poky, and broke up their water, too.
Lugging fresh water and breaking up frozen water is a daily (sometimes multiple times daily) winter task.
I made more homemade fire starters and I kept the fire going. I carried six armfuls of wood plus another load of kindling up to the house. I fed cats and dogs, and chased Mr. Hyde off the porch.
On Monday, I had been to the big city where Morgan and I spent some Christmas money. (She bought books. She loves to read!) I felt so suburban. I mean, I actually SPENT MONEY. I was in a big crafts store, standing there in the aisle with the knitting needles–scary stuff like those circular needles and DOUBLE POINTED NEEDLES. I mean, what is that about? I can barely manage one point. Why is knitting so mean? And there they sat, so innocently, like shining angels, the crochet hooks. Not that I need to buy any crochet hooks because I have crochet hooks. I told myself I would not pick up a crochet hook until I could knit something successfully.

I haven’t knitted anything successfully. I started a hat project that was a gift–it’s really adorable and the yarn is gorgeous and soft and I WANT THAT HAT SO BAD. But the circular needles flipped me out so much, I ran away from it and didn’t knit for months. During the power outage, I picked up the regular knitting needles again and started knitting a dishcloth. I was really excited that I still remembered how to knit AND purl. But I am the slowest, most awkward knitter you’ve ever seen. Someone suggested I bring knitting to basketball games to keep from boredom, but I would never knit in front of a gym full of people! I look like a monkey trying to knit. In fact, I bet there are monkeys who can knit faster than me.

And so as I stood there in front of all those scary knitting needles, I thought if I didn’t crochet something, I might die. But, I bought a little book on knitted dishcloths. Each dishcloth is made in a different knit pattern so that you can get some satisfaction by completing a quick project and each project teaches you something new. I’m gonna try that….

Then I went home and, in a rebellious moment, dug out a crochet hook and opened up my book on how to crochet. After all, I haven’t crocheted in at least ten years. Surely I need my book. Two seconds later, I was throwing the crochet book over my shoulder and whipping out stitch after stitch as if crocheting was the same as breathing. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was a kid and I used to crochet all the time. I’m not sure why I stopped–I think I just got too busy with little kids and writing. After all this slow and awkward knitting, crocheting at the speed of light was an incredible relief. PEOPLE KNIT, WHY?
In my excitement, I started two projects at once–a pot holder and a little handbag. I should finish them today. Because I can crochet SO FAST. I think, tomorrow, I shall crochet a hat for the house! Okay, maybe tomorrow I will knit again….. I will not be defeated by knitting, I will not! I’m sure I will be a fabulous knitter by the time I’m 85. Which is how long it’s going to take me to knit ONE dishcloth.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to polish the silver and crochet little jackets for each piece. I’m keeping house, you know. It’s winter!


  1. Gen says:

    We knit because we CAN’T CROCHET! I learned to knit first and am incredibly intimidated by crocheting. Go with what you’re good at and know that others are envious. Why spend time torturing yourself? I’d love the name of the dishcloth book, by the way…

  2. Gen says:

    uh, just realized I was the first to comment. I’m in Oregon and your posts come earlier here…just felt the need to explain. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ruth - north CA says:

    I learned continental knitting from my grandmother at the age of 6, discovered the English form from a neighbor at 8, and taught myself crochet from a book at 10 when grandma couldn’t see the tip of the only hook she could find, a #4 steel. I’m a tad stubborn. Considering everything else you can do, Suzanne, I can’t imagine a knitting needle having the temerity to be intimidating for long. The only irritating thing in acquiring grace while knitting is that it requires practice. Lots of practice. Stubborn practice.

    And if it keeps snowing you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice between house keeping tasks. Boy, I’d sure pick home over challenging the elements. And that driveway and road of yours! Whew! stay safe!

  4. JOJO says:

    :snowman: :woof: :snowman:
    GOOD GRIEF!! That ride would have scared me to death! And we worry if the roads are not plowed and salted before venturing out–I shall never complain again–that is until I have to go to Walmart and the roads are not clear. We need to get you one of those military things that can travel over everthing like a big bug! After that drive, I am sure it felt good to keep house, just to be there and able.
    I took a knitting class once, I made a pot holder and a hat, I still have the hat–that was 45 years ago. I shall get it out today and wear it to Walmart today, I hope someone comments on it just so I can say “thank you, I made it”.
    Happy New Years Eve to everyone, and if you are going out, please be careful.


  5. Sara says:

    You ask “why Knit”.. to create something tangable that is usefull,as well as (hopefully )beautiful from ones spirit and being. I know, that you know that already, for you write and create in other mediums. I think you need to ask yourself, if you like to crochet why not crochet? it sounds like your time is limited and not a good tome to learn a new skill …..go crochet something it will make you feel great!

  6. carsek says:

    Knitting isn’t hard once you get the hang of it. But if you know how to crochet then why bother knitting. Moost people only do one well. I cross-stitch and more recently have started my family tree. I have over 2000 people which I think is a lot, but I met another person at the library last week who had over 10,000!!
    Be careful on that driveway!!

  7. Mim says:

    I tried knitting first and then tried crochet..It was easier for me to get the hang of crocheting.. Everyone have a Safe and Happy New Year. I think we are going to watch the movie “Hangover” tonight.. So unless I fall asleep and fall off the couch, I should be very safe. Gotta go and get ready for work, 1/2 day only..Oldest grandson stayed all night and going to work with me today.(will be 3 in March) :pawprint:

  8. Jayme aka The Coop Keeper says:

    Your driveway sounds treacherous! I have a goal for the winter to only leave the house once a week, and so far I’ve been doing pretty good. I too LOVE ‘making house’ and the routine of it all. Nothing makes me more content.

    I had to laugh about your knitting. When I first learned to knit a dishcloth, I jokingly said I was going to sell it on Etsy for $500. I felt it was so much work, that is how much I’d have to charge for it! I’m getting much much much faster now, and would actually sell one for $25. Interested!? LOL

  9. Tracey In Paradise ,Pa. says:

    :dancingmonster: UGH Knitting…I want to learn but oh…..I can crochet big granny squares..lol
    And your hills and hills to travel..I think I would stay in in the winter… Your drive is like a ride at a theme park..But scarier!! :dancingmonster:

  10. NorthCountryGirl says:

    Good morning! I can relate to the sliding backwards on a hill. I live atop a mountain and must travel up this stretch of road that is very steep. Years back, I noticed cars parked at the bottom of the hill but thought I could make it. NOT!! I made it almost to the top when the car came to a stop and just spun the tires. Then, I felt the car slipping backwards as I made a series of 360 degree spins down the hill. I hit the bank, spun around again and hit it with the back end. Came to rest against the bank. By that time, I was almost at the bottom of the hill. I backed the rest of the way. Talk about a sick, helpless feeling. Glad you made it safely. Times like this that I really look forward to Spring!

  11. Sheila Z says:

    I wish we were neighbors then I could teach you how to knit and you could teach me how to be a hooker. Either way we would both have a huge yarn stash.

  12. Susan at Charm of the Carolines says:

    Suzanne, ice is dangerous. And you must take it seriously. I can’t think of many things more scary than being behind the wheet of a moving car you don’t have control of. I thank God every day for my guardian angels.


  13. Barbara says:

    Hello and Happy New Year!

    I also have a hard time with knitting. I learned to crochet as a child and after 40 years picked up a crochet needle and without intructions started to crochet making a hat in one day. I gave the knitting a try recently, honestly I tried and decided it is not for me. Of course I have considered buying a loom and cheating……smile….They have all shapes and sizes now at the stores to make knitting easier.

    I can just see you now rolling backwards on that hill not realizing your holding your breath and when you came to a safe stop exhaling.

    Happy Housekeeping!

  14. Shelley (eastern Roane County) says:

    It sounds like we have the same fun going out in the winter. Very steep hairpin turns, sheer drop-offs and the like. We ventured out yesterday and except for a quick run to Spencer today I’m planning to stay home all next month! The pantry and freezer are overflowing and if my little goats were in milk (next winter maybe) I wouldn’t have to go to town at all. During this slow season (except during extended power outages)I do find more time for tending the goats and chickens even though it is cold. I don’t “do” housekeeping but instead play in our woodshop and make twig furniture. Tell Clover her nieces say HI!

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Shelley, stock up on dry milk! I keep dry milk onhand for the winter when I can’t get out. Tip: if you refrigerate dry milk after reconstituting, for drinking, it will taste better! For baking or other cooking uses, it doesn’t matter, just reconstitute and use. Dry milk is a wonderful thing in the winter! You don’t have to ever run out of milk!

  15. Leah says:

    We have’nt had a big snow or icy roads here yet and I’m not looking forward to it. Around here it’s the other guy you have to watch out for driving in that stuff! I love crocheting,never tried knitting. Crocheting is so much fun and it’s relaxing! Depending on what youre making,sometimes you can talk and watch TV while you crochet.Sometime you’ll have to show us what you made!

  16. Connie Trippett says:

    I have never had the desire to knit but I did try crocheting a baby blanket when I was pregnant with my daughter. Sorry to say that she never got to use it. Those 2 rows I did get done looking ok are still attached to the hook and yarn in a box. That was 10 yrs ago. Just dont think I can do that type of thing.

    Everyone have a great new year and be careful in ohio and wv. Bad weather coming in again.

  17. sewhorsey says:

    Good morning Suzanne!
    Knitting cna be discouraging. It does seem that equipment has a bigger influence on knitting success than on crochet. You may have a yucky set of circs which would make knitting on them no fun. The cords can be unwieldy and bend the wrong way. In some brands, soaking the uncooperative cord in hot water can soften it up. A bumpy join between the cord and the needle tips can also drive you nuts, especially if you are knitting tightly. The stitches will all catch as they go by.

    You may want to try double pointed needles for your hat. They look like a porcupine of needles, but you are only ever knitting on two at a time. Before circulars emerged, knitting in the round was done on dpns.

    If try for the hat again, cast on onto a pair of straights and work a row before moving onto the circs. That might make it easier to get going. To transition to the circs, just start your third row by knitting onto the circs instead of the second straight needle. After the tranfer row all stitches will be on the circs, but the knitting will still be flat. On your first all circ rows smoosh the stitches all the way around the circs and knit into the tail end of your row…be careful that you have all the stitch butts in a row. Twisting the join will give you a mobius, very cool, but not so hatlike.

    Good luck!!

    Hop over to Ravelry.com for full time knitting/crochet tech support.

    xoxo Amy

  18. Lisa says:

    Has anyone mentioned using the ashes from your wood stove to sprinkle on the drive and help melt the ice/snow? We always did that, and we also kept a milk-jug full of ash in our vehicles when we would get stuck on ice.

  19. Becky says:

    Boy do I remember those days, growing up in WV. And I don’t miss them at all! Before they put I-79 in, I can remember sitting at the bottom of Mink Shoal Hill while cars took turns, directed by State Troopers. One up the hill, one down the hill. Mom called someone in a 4×4 to pick us up and left the car sitting at the bottom of the hill.
    I have mastered knitting washclothes. And am done with knitting. I’ll stick with crochet. It goes much faster. And I don’t look like a monkey with knitting needles. tee hee

  20. carol says:

    Your drive gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it with snow and ice on it and in the DARK!!! One thing you don’t want to do is step outside your car, on a hill, in the dark, with packed ice and snow on the road….trust me on this one.
    My Mama was an avid needlewoman…she could crochet like a banshee and make the most beautiful things. She could sew clothes that looked like they came from Macy’s. She could oil paint and she baked like a professional. She could NOT KNIT. Or tat. Her sister could knit…make lovely warm socks and even gloves. But Mama just couldn’t get the hang of it. And her few attempts to tat ended with her throwing the tatting shuttle across the room. Enjoy the crocheting…not everyone can do that, Suzanne.
    I totally understand the ‘housekeeping’ part. I work full time and having a whole day to keep my house is wonderful.
    Stay safe, have a wonderful New Years and hug your family tight.

  21. Cindy says:

    Suzanne, it sounds like a lovely day spent keeping house. Sometimes, and I emphasize sometimes, I enjoy keeping house. I spent some time in my local craft store yesterday looking over yarn, and decided that I would dig out my crochet hooks and start another afghan. I only know a few basic stitches, but I enjoy what I do. Be careful going up (or down) that driveway of yours. Happy 2010 to all!

  22. Christopher says:

    I would heartily endorse getting yourself a set of chains for your wheels.would solve all your problems on that treacherous mountain road ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  23. FarmgirlCyn (Cindy) says:

    Suzanne…I feel your knitting pain. However, that being said, I found the easiest peasiest knitted hat pattern EVER. It is just your basic knit 2, purl 2 for the entire hat!!! No circular needles, no double pointed anything. Just basic, simple knitting! I made one for my son for Christmas. Just make sure you use the right size needles and buy the “chunky” yarn they recommend. You can find the pattern here:

    Trust me, if I can do it, YOU can do it.

  24. B. Ruth says:

    Suzanne, I had a hard time learning to knit..I think it was the counting thing not sure…..
    I was taught to crochet by my Grandmother and like riding a bicycle it comes back quick..Bless the people in our lives that take the time to teach children to do things…it will stay with you when you are younger….I am teaching my grand daughter now to crochet and sew and another one to draw and paint…It’s so fun to watch them get excited about making something…

    Soooo, when cold weather started…I started crocheting…scrubbies, dishcloths and towels…I made those old timy (lol) towel toppers for gifts this year…I had forgotten how much fun and how quick they are to crochet…and people like them to button on the fridge, cabinet or oven door handles…(they won’t slide off)..useful items…
    Go to one after Christmas kitchen towel sale…usually pay .50 cents to a 1.00 for nice Christmas designed towel, I buy several….cut in half…I use the cotton yarn…1.47..one button out of the button box or splurge .77 cents and buy x-mas buttons and it makes two towel toppers…with yarn left over for a round dishcloth…My favorite button this year was the ones shaped liked hands…sew on for hand towel…
    These are cheap and quick presents..Shhhh..don’t tell…After all it’s the homemade thought that counts…and people love them!

  25. Debnfla3 says:

    That backward slide would have sent me over the edge! Talk about scary!!!

    Mama taught me to crochet when I was 5 years old so I have crocheted for 46 years. It is my first love and I will always crochet. I love crocheting with that tiny little thread and make doilies, bedspreads and tablecloths. It is the most soothing craft I know of and I crochet every single night for a while. Usually during a bit of TV watching…I can not sit without something to keep my hands busy.

    I quilt during the day and crochet at night! So…when are you going to start a quilt??? LOL


  26. Sarah says:

    Glad you are staying safe this Winter!

    I feel the same about crocheting and knitting! I have tried knitting and I am SO SLOW. But Crocheting, my grandmother also showed me how to do, and I can whip out things like no one’s business! I love that you are going to make a hat for your house with your mad crocheting skills… ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think I will crochet mine a scarf so mine won’t get too jealous. :yes:

  27. anna says:

    I have a friend who refers to crocheting as the ‘C’ word – she’s definitely a knitter. The one thing she says that cracks me up though is the difference between knitting and crochet is that with knitting if it’s a really bad idea you usually don’t finish it before sanity sits in – with crochet you actually can finish that really bad idea (house hat) before you realize that it maybe wasn’t the smartest/best idea. but I love crochet too..so off I go – i think I see some chartreuse colored yarn waiting to be made into a cowl for that friend of mine who HATES green.

    Merry New Year..hehe.

  28. Dawn says:

    I just taught myself to knit this year. i am slow and I am not great at it, but the feeling of success and the pride of completion I get with the knitting projects is wonderful. But I am very slow, so to feel more successful, I also crocheted again this year. I made 2 afghans in 3 months. Much faster than the knitting, but honestly, even though I enjoyed making them, they turned out lovely, but I just dont feel the same sense of completion as I did with my first knit hat. But I also think that if you love to crochet, go for it. Enjoy it. Its your free time to do as you enjoy.

  29. Julie Harward says:


  30. Mary Kiczenski says:

    I learned knitting at a very young age and taught each of my four girls at age four. However, I’ve always preferred the results of crochet. My mother-in-law crocheted constantly and made such beautiful sweaters, vests, baby clothes, etc. Everything seemed to be so much prettier with crochet. I guess I just didn’t start young enough. I think you should just stick with crochet…other than a dish cloth here and there.

  31. Liz in Wis says:

    You crack me up Suzanne; “…crochet a hat for the house.” Today I will keep house, but if I get half as much work done as you did, I would be happy.

  32. Harbor Hon says:

    So glad you’re ok. What would we do without our daily dose of sunshine? I’m talking about you! An old German lady taught me to crochet when I was young and I’ve been at it for about 40+ years. I just love the way a pattern comes together to create something beautiful and long lasting. Made many an afghan in my time. I adore those yarn colors; so vibrant. I’ve tried using the sticks, as I call them, but I’d rather be a ‘hooker.’ ๐Ÿ™‚ xxoo

  33. Betty says:

    Suzanne, just the thought of you sliding out of control makes me have butterflies in my stomach. Glad you made it safely. We have a scary driveway and have to park at the “top of the hill” and walk to the house when it’s bad (like for the last snow-2 weeks ago.) I’m a teacher so I’ve loved staying at home. But my men folk get cabin fever and must roam (and go to work.) I was glad when my husband and younger son called safely from work this AM. We had a hike planned for tonight. Hiking Buffalo Mt. in Floyd VA under a Blue moon on New Year’s Eve sounded like fun…I think we’ll have to postpone. Thank you so much for your blog…I love seeing what’s happening at your farm each day…you have inspired me to make Grandmother bread…God bless you and your family for 2010.

  34. Heidi533 says:

    I crochet and I love it. I can make anything I put my mind to and make it quickly (when the kids give me time). I’ve tried to knit. I hate it. I’ve made a grand total of two scarves that my kids use to play dress up. I love hand knitted things, especially socks. I just don’t have the patience for it. I need the instant gratification of crochet.

  35. Tammy says:

    My grandmother taught me to crochet too. I do take my crochet anywhere I am required to sit for more than 15 minutes. I don’t mind sitting, but I need something to do with my hands. Can’t wait to see your newest projects!

  36. Chic says:

    I feel your fear Suzanne…that driveway would scare me too now! For years I drove on logging roads in a 1 tonne diesel 4×4 crew cab truck in British Columbia…that was my main vehicle for 12 years! I could drive anywhere in the mountains…nothing stopped me. Then I moved to Kansas…now I don’t drive unless I have to (especially when we go to the city) ..people drive too fast around here and I’m no city girl so I leave it to my husband. I’ve turned into a woos! So I completely understand your fear of that road in the winter Suzanne. Maybe after you get a few winters under your belt you’ll get the hang of it. Good luck! :hungry2:

  37. cgReno says:

    Word about knitting…….stick to small instant gratification projects. I am still a “baby” knitter in my group, knitting for a mere 7 years. The amazing women that I knit with produce incredible works of wearable art quickly. We meet on Saturday mornings and knit for two hours discussing new projects. By the following Saturday they are wearing the beautiful shawls, sweaters and jackets we have discussed. I swear they can make socks out of thread with toothpicks, and I am still knitting my dishcloth. And although its taken a couple of large projects, 1 sweater (took 2 winters), 1 pair of socks (I hated every moment of the 2nd sock), I finally understand that, dishcloths, scarves, baby hats and sweaters, “small projects” completely satisfy my need to knit. Dishcloths are the perfect project. Small, many different patterns, and everyone can use one. I have convinced myself that knitting is about the process, not the end result, very zen! So,
    knit on, and on, and yes you will get faster, and yes, double pointed kneedles are scarey, but not sooooo difficult, and above all just enjoy what you are doing.If making a million crocheted grannie square is your thing, go for it! Happy New Year Suzanne!

  38. JeannieB says:

    I tried knitting, but just couldn’t do it. I can crochet a little but can not understand the patterns. Mama taught me the shell pattern and I can do little more that that.

  39. carol bellamy says:

    Hi Suzanne!

    I have had the same problem learning how to knit. I can crochet but wanted to learn also how to knit. I am all thumbs and
    I quess I am intimidated, too. Do not feel alone.


  40. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    Well, I can neither knit nor crochet so your way ahead of me. My grandmother tried to teach me when I was little but I couldn’t sit still long enough. I wanted to be in the hen house or the garden or the barn! Can’t wait to see what you crochet!

    I froze a lot of goat’s milk while we were milking our Nellie so we have several gallons to use if we can’t get to town plus I have stocked up on dry milk too.

    Hope you have a great New Year!

  41. Carmen Smith says:

    I can’t knit either, tried to learn many times and just can’t do it! Crocheting is good, I can do that:)

  42. Ashley says:

    One word for me and knitting= LOOM!!! My friends mother introduced me to loom knitting. In the last month I’ve made 5 hats, 5 scarves, and am working on a baby blanket. A regular adult hat takes me maybe 2 hours if you count distractions. The most difficult for me is taking scarves off the loom…I tend to pull to tight….the rest…a breeze!! I don’t even glance at the needles…the fear is to great!! Have a wonderful day!!! :sun:

  43. M says:

    Just keep practising with the knitting … it’s like milking a goat … with enough practise you will get it.

    Last year I decided to learn how to knit on DPNs. It takes a bit of practise, but this year I completed Tube Sock #1 and have cast on and knit the cuff of Tube Sock #2 (using size 4 needles and worsted weight WoolEase). It’s a simple pattern, no heel turns in a rib knit. It looks like the sleeve for a sweater until you finish the toe.

    Perhaps one of your buddies can lend you some needles to play with. Most of the sets come with 4 needles, but sometimes 5 needles are in the set. Just like experimenting with a recipe … just cast on some stitches … say 20 or so in a bulky yarn with larger needles and practise knitting a tube. Once you get the rhythm going, it’s kind of neat.

    You can also use two sets of circular needles to get the same effect as the 4 DPNs … search for Cat Borhdi on YouTube … and some of her books. Knitting a tube/sock on two circs might be an easier way to introduce yourself to this style of knitting. (borrow some equipment to figure out what you like).

    And do continue with the crochet … its fun too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Myrna Mackenzie says:

    The knitting versus crochet thing? Yes. I’ve crocheted afghans and I like crocheting, but it kills me that I haven’t mastered knitting. I can manage the basics…sort of, but it’s soooo slow. I need fast. I need something I can finish in a weekend. Plus, after years of trying to knit–albeit sporadically, as in many years between project attempts–I was on the Internet one day and realized that I was knitting…um…backwards. It’s called combination knitting and people who do that can purl faster, but they also have to make adjustments so that the end results matches the pattern. The very thought made me so crazy that I haven’t gone back.

    Plus, have I mentioned how long it takes to knit something? Decades. Centuries. Eons. The only reason I keep trying is that a finished knitted project feels…I don’t know…softer? Plus, there’s the thought that I’ve allowed knitting to defeat me. I don’t like that at all.

  45. Gini says:

    “It looks like a monkey trying to knit…” HAHAHA!! That’s a hilarious picture!

    Hey, what’s the name of the dishcloth book? That sounds like something that would be handy to me, because the “beginner” books I have all give me little projects that involve knitting in the round and that is SUPER SCARY. My seester just gave me a little crochet kit for Christmas….maybe I will be better at that! I want so badly to make beautiful things with my hands.

  46. Janessa says:

    I have wanted to knit forever but everyone that has ever tried to teach me is right handed and I’m a lefty… I found a place that teaches lefties like me to knit so I’m going to take a class this spring! I’m so excited!! I’ve been knitting scarves on this little loom thing called a Knifty Knitter and it works pretty well for me.

    We got 2 more inches of snow also here in Missouri. I kept house yesterday too. I avoid getting out in this stuff at all costs. Besides chasing kiddos, I’m working on a scarf for a friend and I’m starting my 2010 book list.

    I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve. I have enjoyed finding your blog this year.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      The “book” is really more like one of those big pamphlets. (Just 17 pages.) I found it in a rack in the yarn aisle at Michael’s. It’s called Knit Dishcloth Sampler (Twelve Nifty Pattern Stitches). There are 12 dishcloth patterns, each one teaching a different stitch/technique.

  47. Becky says:

    It’s whatever suits! There are somethings in my life that I simply must learn, and then there are others that I have decided I don’t have to be good at. I knit, having learned from my mother at a very young age. And I enjoy it immensely. I can crochet a rather long string. And an edge on my knitting. If it doesn’t have to be very neat.

    I do some other things, like sew and quilt, but I don’t embroidery. It’s about figuring out what suits me.

  48. Amy says:

    Scary road! I’d stock up, too, and never want to leave between the first and last storm. Especially in the dark on an icy road. Nothing like sliding backwards on a dangerous road to redefine “Home sweet home”.

  49. Molly says:

    Knitting is like tap dancing. It’s all about muscle memory. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Really. One day you’re going to pick up the needles and be all “OOOOHHH. That’s how this works.” And you will be OFF AND RUNNING! :sheep:

  50. Susan Wright says:

    Forget all the knitting. I’m still thinking of the simmering pot of beans. Talk about home and contentment. Wish I could get my sweet onions or bread and butter pickles and come over to enjoy with you after we make cornbread in the iron skillet.

  51. Chantal says:

    I too have found that I’m awkward with knitting needles. Crocheting is much easier and I was able to make two delicate scarves for Christmas. One each for my mother and mother-in-law. I feel bad. Because I said I wanted to learn to knit my husband, being supportive, gave me rosewood knitting needles with mother of pearl inlay last Motherโ€™s day. They sit pretty in a vase with the other knitting needles I picked up in my earnest efforts.

  52. CindyP says:

    It would be wonderful to live out in the middle of nowhere with no traffic, but that hill would not be wonderful!! So glad you maneuvered it nicely…….and are keeping house!

    You don’t have to master everything you try, at least you tried! Whether it’s knitting or crocheting, it makes you feel happy when you do it……..why torture yourself? Crochet!

    Milk can be frozen! Take 10% out of the jug (for expansion), then freeze. There is no difference in taste!

  53. Kim W says:

    Thanks for the book title. I’ll have to look that up. Have you checked out my new blog, yet? I’m still keeping the Homesteadblogger blog, but this new one will be my ‘main’ blog.

    Happy New Year & blessings from Ohio…Kim W<

  54. Townie Farm Girl says:

    I am more of a hooker than a knitter as well. My mother taught me when I was a girl but I never completed anything. Then, years later and married, I decided to crochet afghans for my two young children and I was off and running! Now I enjoy crocheting with thread as well as yarn and even designed a couple of vintage-style potholders. I will keep trying to knit…I can do it but I find it excruciatingly boring for some reason….(I am probably doing something wrong.)
    Also, (and I haven’t figured out the best place to post this thought), in regards to goats and cookies and your posts on biscuits….I used to feed our goat, Little Ann, my leftover buttermilk biscuits. I used to make them practically every morning and there were always the odd biscuit or two leftover, or the “ugly” biscuit made of leftover dough, and I would give them to her. She liked all kinds of leftovers but those biscuits were her favourites!

  55. Marty says:

    I love to crochet. I just learned last year but it was like crocheting was in my genes. I used to watch my mother crochet and my grandmother could knit and crochet. I would love to learn to knit but I just haven’t put the time in. I have so many unfinished crochet projects laying around.

  56. Lola-Dawn says:

    I don’t envy you :no: for that scary driveway! I’m a knitter, not a crocheter. Well, I CAN crochet, I just don’t get the same pleasure out of it as I do knitting. Perhaps memories of Gramma smacking me when I didn’t do it right or fast enough or to her satisfaction when she taught me how to crochet! I find when knitting that my hands just know what to do and I can read, watch a movie, or a sports event or carry on a conversation while knitting, but when crocheting, I have to keep my eyes firmly on the hook. Of course, 50-some years of practise helps …

    Happy healthy safe 2010 to you and yours!

  57. kerri says:

    I feel for you having those scary hills and bends to maneuver. Driving in snow is scary but driving in icy conditions is horrible! I’d be staying home as much as possible too.
    Keeping that water supply open is quite a chore when the weather is cold enough to freeze it. Never a dull moment!
    It’s a satisfying feeling to get all those little household chores accomplished. It doesn’t happen to me often ๐Ÿ™‚
    Knitting will come if you just practice. Try a swatch, like a dishcloth, of plain knit and purl (one row of each repeated)….something very simple. It’s just getting the feel of the yarn sliding over your fingers and the needles sliding back and forth through the stitches. The rhythm perhaps? It’s like learning to drive a standard shift. It just all comes together after you’ve done it for a while. Don’t give up! If you can crochet, you can knit, and knitting is worth the effort to learn. It’s very relaxing once you have the hang of it. :hug:

  58. Christy O says:

    I gave up on knitting for the same reason. I’m much quicker at crochet. And what can you knit that you can’t crochet? Once you learn the fancy stitches you can do anything with crochet.

  59. catslady says:

    I taught myself to do both early on in my marriage because I couldn’t stand to just watch TV (now I have my computer lol). In fact I use to do a lot of things before this computer (sigh). I much preferred crochet over knitting.

  60. Dianna McBride says:

    Thank you, Suzanne, for making your baking seem SO “doable”. I recently spent some time (a couple of hours to be exact)just “browsing” the different postings (especially the baking ones) that you’ve shared with your readers. I HAD to write to you today to let you know because you present your baking projects with such ease that I was able to successfully serve my hubby fresh from the oven Overnight Cinnamon Rolls for New Year’s Eve breakfast this morning! I actually did a post on it this morning to my blog because it was SO satisfying!

  61. Lili says:

    You have inspired me with your idea of keeping a home made baking mix along with your flour and sugars. Love these little time savers! They look great in your clear jars on the counter too. Oh, and I was able to learn how to knit with those DPNs by waching a video I found on-line. Trying to learn from illustrated instructions hurts my brain.

  62. Runningtrails says:

    I’m with you, Suzanne!! I can crochet in my sleep, but knitting?? No way! I’ve tried off and on for years and just never could get comfortable with it. I don’t know why people knit, either. Crochet is so much faster!

    I am surprised you don’t have heated water dishes for your animals. They work very well, unless your power is out, of course. Do you have power to the chicken coop or goat house? We exztend the day on either side with a lightbulb on a timer in the chicken house so we still get lots of large eggs in winter. We need a heat lamp out there, anyway, so we have a heated waterer. Actually, its a plain zinc waterer with an electric heating pad under it on a timer and covered in plastic. I have a friend who uses electric roof heating cables on a waterer in his chicken house.

    That ride in the dark would have scared me from driving for a week! We have a really long and trecherous driveway too, but there’s just a ditch on either side, not a cliff!! We keep old, but intact, roofing shingles in the car and piled under the deck just for that purpose. They are fabulous when stuck in the snow! I got a truckload from “Free-cycle” when someone replaced their roof. I got a lot of roofing nails too, that I have, of course, reused.

  63. ScreamingSardine says:

    Ee gads! I’d stay off the roads, too! Whenever you want to venture out on the roads, just crochet!!

    I’ve wanted to learn to knit, but don’t have anyone to show me. My son learned to knit when he was a young child in school. He was a great knitter, but it’s been years since he’s knitted, and he’s forgotten it. I do have some friends nearby who crochet. Perhaps I can get them to teach me.

    Stay safe!

  64. Tobey says:

    I am a life-time crocheter and learned to knit last year. Knitting is still so exciting to me and I have neglected crochet horribly.

    I promise, knitting DOES get easier with just working at it. Have you tried holding your yarn in the Continental method? It is more comfortable and familiar to crocheters and I recommend giving it a try. go to http://www.knittinghelp.com and check out the videos – very helpful. This is the url for the page in the learning to knit section: https://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/learn-to-knit

    is a you tube video I recommend to a lot of people – she shows both English and Continental styles.

    The most important thing is to have fun!

  65. Laura says:

    It seems that every lady in my family takes up something different. I knit, my mom cross-stitches, my grandma crochets and her mother tatted. If you are not feeling the knit, then crochet and find knitting friends who will trade homemade items with you. Win-win! Since you are on Ravelry, dig out a nifty pattern and get crackin’! This is the perfect time of year to do it!!! I’m starting my first cardigan tomorrow with my knitting guru and I can’t wait!

  66. Kay says:

    The only times I have tried driving in ice or snow (twice) I wrecked both times. SO, I don’t! Good luck to you, but my advice is to stock up before and just stay the heck in!

    I taught myself to knit last Sept. through library books and YouTube. Now, after only over a year, I am totally and completely addicted. I have cranked out 4 large sweaters and countless hats, scarves and fingerless mitts. I started out with a simple scarf, and ripped (called frogging) and ripped, and it took forever to make. After I knitted the scarf, I crocheted a scarf. I found I love knitting way more then crocheting, although at first, I could crochet faster. Now I definitely knit faster. I too, was determined I was going to learn how, and now, I can’t imagine NOT doing it. Knitting is so portable, and it surely takes up so much wasted time in a car, in a dr’s office, waiting anywhere… Hang in there, there isn’t a site totally dedicated for knitters (and a few crocheters) if it wasn’t so obsessing. (Ravelry~as mentioned before) As someone said, it really helps keep one’s lid on.

  67. Myrna Mackenzie says:

    Well, you’ve inspired me to try to learn Tunisian crochet (which I had never heard of before today). It’s Afghan stitch, but there are variations. Look at this. It looks almost like knitting (and there’s a great video tutorial):

  68. mirela says:

    Happy New Year, Suzanne! To you and your wonderful family!

  69. Sandra says:

    I appreciate the definite distinction between housecleaning and housekeeping. I enjoy the housekeeping part, not so much the house cleaning! I find crochet more relaxing because I think errors are more easily corrected than in knitting. Either way, enjoy these winter activities.

  70. Estella says:

    I knit because I am not a very good crocheter.

    Happy New Year!

  71. Karen Anne says:

    Ref the newsletter, I don’t think wooden spoons wear out, I’ve used mine for decades, so imho you should use your Grandmoms, etc. I think they would like that, no?

  72. Barbee' says:

    Janessa, and anyone else who is interested, I am right-handed and I taught my left-handed daughter how to knit by sitting facing her. We faced each other and I went slowly as I made a stitch; then she would do the same thing she saw me do. It worked. Before long she was able to knit left-handed. Suzanne, it is good that you had a scare; getting on that road like that is just not worth it. I don’t know what the answer is, but you are too important to too many people to take those risks. Sorry, I’ll put my mother voice back in my pocket now.

  73. Cindy says:

    I can barely sew on a button, but am impressed with those who can knit and/or crochet. Some of you might have already seen this, but I just found through one of my frugal mom’s groups, that Lion Brand Yarn has made all of its crocheting and knitting patterns available for free. It looks like they have a nice selection of things that seem like they’d be really pretty, if someone other than me were making them! Here’s the link, for those who might want to check it out.


  74. AmyW says:

    My grandmother taught me to crochet. Sweet, sweet memories.

    I took a knitting class a few years ago. After the first night, I came home and almost gave it up. Knitting is not as forgiving as crochet. I stuck with it and eventually got the hang of it. Don’t give up on the knitting. You’ll get the hang of it.

    Baked 2 loaves of Grandmother Bread today. This is my 3rd attempt and this time I think I nailed it!

  75. Dianne says:

    I am a knitter now. When I turned 50, 3 years ago, I was determined to learn. Now it is one of my favorite things to do! My grandmother also taught me to crochet, but I can’t hold the thread and it becomes a big huge knot!!!! I will try again. I did love the Granny squares! Love your website. I love living on my farm! From one farmgirl to another!

  76. Nezzy says:

    I just relived my worse nightmare reading your trip down the hill backwards.This Ozarks farm chick has been there, done that and don’t want to do it again. Nope, not in this lifetime. I am so glad you are safe and sound.

    Have a wonderful New Year and may God bless ya’ll!!!

  77. Julia says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    When you park your car at the bottom of the driveway, and you have groceries and stuff to take to the house, could you use a sled? Maybe attach a box somehow, and tie a rope on the front. You could drag the stuff up behind you. And if you needed to make two trips, well, you could have fun going back down.

    I love to knit, and I love the results. It’s really hard to learn to knit by yourself, though. I think if you have an experienced knitter you could sit with once a week, who could coach you trough your problems, you would learn really fast. If you did take your knitting to a sports event, you might find such a person. In a situation like that, knitters will tend to sit next to other knitters and strike up a conversation.

    But you know, if you prefer to crochet, go for it. If knitting is more frustrating than fun, why bother?

  78. SuzieQ says:

    I’m tired out just reading about your day. Wish I had your energy but as they say “Old age ain’t no place for sissies!!” I learned to knit and my first project was a Christmas stocking for my son that had his name, 2 Santa faces (complete with eyes, nose and ANGORA beard (makes me sneeze just remembering it), crossed candy canes and about 6000, not really, color changes and bobbins hanging from it. A woman I worked with taught me.. It took me years before I learned to crochet..just couldn’t seem to see the stitches as easily. Now I do both, just depends on my mood but with knitting I can improvise while I NEED a pattern for crochet. HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! :dancingmonster:

  79. Mokihana says:

    Oh man, I totally understand about sliding backwards in the dark! We have a very long steep driveway and when it snows, sometimes even with studded tires we can’t make it past our really steep curve. Fear of sliding backwards is ever on my mind; it terrifies me! I’m glad you got home safe!

  80. sheila says:

    Oh, I don’t want to even think about my knitting experience. I took lessons, made a couple dishcloths, I just didn’t get it. It was a bad horror movie. Too slow I was all thumbs and I’m pretty good with my hands. I learned crochet from a friend when I was a teenager, we made lots of granny squares. I’ll stick to crochet, I can only think about 1 hook.

  81. Linda says:

    I learned to knit when I was a kid. I am left handed so it was a little tricky but haven’t kitted in yesrs. When I read your post about learning to knit it made me dig my needles out and I knitted a stack of dishcloths. So I wanted to thank you for renewing my interest in knitting. I have decided to teach myself how to use DPNS now thanks to Mo olelo on the forum and have 1 handwarmer mitt done and am starting on the 2nd. I’m so excited with it. So thank you,thank you Suzanne

  82. paul young says:

    you need to get that new chicken water that holds 2 gal. of water.
    The whole thing is made out of plastic an is heated. This is the first year for them. Sure dose bet trying to get the ice out….
    Just plug in to a 110 cord.

  83. The Retired One says:

    Your blogpost cracked me up….I too, have knitted and crocheted in the past but haven’t now, for years..I also did needlepoint and embroidery too…I have a trunk of these supplies to prove it.

  84. Darlene in North Georgia says:

    When I was a child, my mom tried to teach me how to knit. My tension was so tight, I hurt my fingers trying to make the one needle go inside the other to pick up the stitches. So I gave up knitting. I learned to crochet when I was in my late teens and for years I crocheted. Then life happened and I quit. A few years ago, I started crocheting a “leper bandage” to send with a group of friends bandages to a colony of lepers. I found that crocheting now hurts my hands. So I again tried to learn to knit. This time, someone suggested that I use circular needles to learn to knit. See, you don’t have to “circular” knit to use those needles. You can knit flat on them. Just use them like you would a regular set of needles. The only difference, at least for me, is that I don’t feel like my arms are all akimbo (I call it chicken wings). Since the circular needles are shorter, I can work closer to my body.

    Then last year, I decided I’d learn to knit socks. I did go onto the web and find videos and a set of instructions for knitting toe up socks. It worked very well, but I kept loosing one of my dpns each time I got to the last 2 or 3 stitches on that needle. So I went online and learned how to do “Magic Loop”. WAY EASIER way to knit in the round and you only need 1 set of needles per size to do any kind of knitting you want to do! I bought a set of “Addi Clicks” and LOVE them. I no longer need to have all the different size/length needles.

    So if you REALLY want to learn to knit, stick with it, go online and find videos of HOW to do what you want – or email some of us and we’ll work with you. And like any thing, the more you do it the faster and easier it is to do.

    Glad you and the hill struck a bargain and declared a truce.
    I’m STILL waiting on the SNOW! It still keeps being forecast and it still comes down as RAIN! Like Georgia needs MORE rain!!! NOT!
    (Anybody know where I can get some gopherwood? I’mma thinkin’ I’mma gonna need it! If I remember correctly, a cubit is about 21 inches.)

  85. Kelly says:

    I pulled out my knitting yesterday, amongst many other things I SHOULD be doing! But some knitted wool socks are calling me so other things will have to wait. Good luck! http://www.whatupduck.com

  86. debbie says:

    I do both knitting and crochet, neither one well. Jack of all trades, master of none, as they say. Luckily, my daughter is so sweet, she will wear all the silly little things I make without complaining. I don’t know why, she complains about everything else. (She’s 13, that’s my excuse for now).

    Suzanne, do be careful on that road. We sometimes stay at a cabin in Canada with roads very like yours, only up-graded because in the summer it gets oiled to keep down the dust. In the winter the owner’s have to backpack in from town, across the ice on the lake, so nobody goes down it when it is icy. Don’t think they’d be brave enough to try.

  87. Natalie O. says:

    If you want to learn to knit, just keep going. Start a garter stitch scarf and just keep going. It will look so much better at the end than it did at the beginning.

    Also, if you want to do a hat, look into other methods besides DPNs. A long circular needle, etc. Someone can show you how to do it.

  88. Knitmom68 says:

    I also learned to crochet young, from my Grandmother, let it go, and took it up later, in college during a snowstorm, actually. After making lots and lots of squares, I wanted to make some other stuff. I learned to knit later, for my kids, and made a few objects – a blanket, some hats, before finding out I was doing it wrong all along, and had to relearn. Well, reteaching my fingers was harder than learning for the first time, I think. It was like learning to write with your feet might be. Overlapping the unlearning the wrong way with figuring out the right way. Well, if I could do it, and I have, then you can, too. No question. Set your sights very, very, small. Put a movie on, and don’t expect to get it right the first time. There are fantastic YouTube videos out there that helped me. The best ones were Knittinghelp.com, and then I found a German lady using a cable needle in an infinitely easier way than I’d ever seen anywhere, even though she was speaking German, which I don’t know, except the few words that sound like some Yiddish my Bubbe might have used often enough for me to learn them, and I got some great tips from an Estonian Knitter after learning that Estonian Lace was probably the source for the designs for the earliest Fair Isle knitters. We learn to knit because there are some times when the fabric is what you want, and we crochet because sometimes that’s the result you want. Just like sometimes you want to steam your veggies, and other times you want ’em sauteed in a pan with some olive oil or butter. Knitting patterns can be smoother and have more flow to them. It’s certainly more of a time commitment than crochet is, because in knitting you really need to get to the end of the row before you put it down and walk away for a minute or a month. But in some ways that’s good. “I’m not going anywhere till I finish this row” is sort of a meditative state where you feel safe from emergencies. Practically, Continental Method is worth learning first, because it is more ergonomic in the end, though it uses muscles in your hands you didn’t know you had, and they’ll ache a little at first. By all means, crochet what you like, and take your knitting lessons in small doses. It’s like homework, so you break up the long term projects into smaller jobs, and reward yourself with something fun and easy when you’re done. Then, eventually, if you find yourself wanting to know the hyponteneuse, it will be in your arsenal to know how. My last suggestion for making learning to knit fun and easy. Lower the expectations so far that you don’t plan to use up any yarn knitting for a year. No investment. Choose a yarn that you enjoy working with, in a color you can see separate stitches in well, and practice, then rip out every one of those dishcloths. Do one ten times if you like, and then rip it out. No need to produce anything. That way, it can be wrong as often as it needs to be, like when a child is practicing a new song. Until you get it right, nothing counts. You’re just practicing. Last last piece of advice: circular needles really are great. But you need to untwist them before you work, so that the curlicue of the cord is only one or two full circles. You can do this by putting them in hot water to ‘relax’, though my rosewood needles have never been quite the same since I did that. Or you can bend the cord backwards, pushing your fingernail against the convex side along it’s length every cm or so until you can stand it. And point protectors help hang on to your work when you’re in the middle of something and you have to walk away. That really was the last. Did I mention the movie? Eunny Jeng has videos that are fantastic. Good Luck!

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