This is an oldie, but I’m only now getting around to publishing it..

I wore this neck warmer all through the northern Canadian summer. sigh.

I wore this neck warmer all through the northern Canadian summer. sigh.

Last Spring, with a pair of bachelor’s degrees under our belts, my boyfriend and I packed up the pick-up truck and headed for the Yukon. The days were still cool and the nights in the tent could be downright cold. In fact, it was the worst summer weather the Yukon saw in some 30 years. I wanted to knit something to keep me warm and also wanted to display some beautiful soft handspun I picked up in Nelson. Nelson is a beautiful town in interior British Columbia full of draft dodgers and ski bums. I came up with this simple and versatile neck warmer that can also double as a toque. This design is also great for snowboard and ski enthusiasts who worry about getting tangled in their scarf.



[MC] Mountain Yarns Crafts [100% wool one-ply; 65g skein]; color: Green; 1 skein

[CC] Mountain Yarns Crafts [100% wool one-ply; 65g skein]; color: Orange; 1 skein

2 sets of US #7/4.5 mm double-point needles (or a toque-sizes circular needles)

Safety pin: GAUGE: 23 stitches and 28 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch

PATTERN NOTES: Stripe pattern: MC x17; CC x 2; MC x 2; CC x 10; MC x 2; CC x 14; MC x 1; CC x 2, MC x 3; CC x 4; MC x 5; CC x 1; MC x 10

PATTERN: 1. TUBE: Cast on 90 sts. and divide between 3 or 4 dpns. Work 15 rows of stockinette stitch in the round.

You’re now about to create the casing for a drawstring: Count six rows back in the work and pick up 90 sts back onto the second set of dpns. (Note: to make it easier you can put the stitches from the main needles onto holders while you work this second layer)

Work this “second layer” for 2 more rows.

On the 3rd row: Needle 1: K1, Yarn over, k2tog, k until 3 stitches from end of N1, k2tog, YO, K1 (The YOs form holes for the drawstring). 

Work 2 more rows, until the front and back flaps of the casing are the same length.

Join the flaps together by knitting through one stitch from the front and back together.

pull the drawstrings and it becomes a toque.

pull the drawstrings and it becomes a toque.


Now the hard part is now over. Continue knitting in the round until the tube measures 10 inches. Bind off (hint: if you use a larger needle to bind off the stitches will stay stretchy)

2. I-CORD: Using two dpns, CO three stitches. Knit across row, then slide the stitches to the other end of the needle and knit across again.. and again… and again… until the cord measures 2 ft long

FINISHING: Weave in any loose ends. Push the i-cord through the casing using a safety pin.

in march winter still has a hold on the yukon.

in march winter still has a hold on the yukon.

The most spectacular part of the drive down from the Yukon was the dramatic transformation from deep winter to spring. Over three days we saw the days grow longer, the snowbanks melt away and the land become green and lush. The baby lettuces are already edible on BC’s Gulf Islands. Emerging from the long hibernation I’m feeling lighter, happier and more energetic.

The scariest part of the drive was through the mountains around Muncho Lake. It was dark, steep and the roads are twisty, snow-covered. Bison were rooting for food on the edge of the road.

Exhausted after the day’s drive, I pulled the truck over in Fort Nelson and we slept in our seats. You know you’ve been in the Yukon too long when -24 seems a reasonable temperature for car camping. I slept poorly and woke up cold and sore and had to scrape the inside of the windshield.

many gas stations along the alaska highway close down for the winter.

many gas stations along the alaska highway close down for the winter.

my truck really didnt want to fight a bison.

my truck really didn't want to fight a bison.

our lovely little cabin in the woods.

our lovely little cabin in the woods.

Beep-be-be-beep. Beep-be-be-beep… The alarm clock drags me out of the depths of some weird dream. It’s still dark and I’m convinced I’m still asleep. Hours later I wake again as the thin winter sun creeps in the window. It’s almost noon. The fire in the stove has gone out. My nose is cold. I don’t have any particular place to be. I need to pee. I stay in bed another half-hour, but finally biology wins.

Emerging from my cozy nest the floor is cold, my clothes a are cold. I can’t find my socks. Outside the cold takes my breath away. I run the dozen steps to the outhouse, kicking up snow, which inevitably finds its way to the bare toes inside my Sorels. On the way back I grab an arm full of kindling. The whole operation has taken less than a minute, but I’m chilled to the bone.

Start the kettle. Open the stove. Familiar sounds: metal strikes flint.. lighter ignites old newsprint with a low whump.. hiss and crackle of flame evaporating water.. Soon the fire takes. I leave the door wide open and stick my hands inside to soak up the warmth.

Headlines melt. Byines char. The car crash burns again. Sometimes I pause to read an article I’ve missed, to look at a photo, before crumpling the paper. My fire fueled by my trade. I drink my tea close to the stove and feel guilty for sleeping late again. Guilty for being a wimp (it’s only -35). Guilty for not being more self-disciplined as a writer. Cabin fever is really setting in. I haven’t felt the sun in days. Finally warm, I head out for a ski down the old train tracks. It does some good and clears my head. Back at the cabin I squeeze in a few hours of productive work before it’s dark again, then spend the evening watching movies and knitting.

That was December. Now the days are getting longer I’m feeling surprisingly refreshed and hungry to take on the world again.

electronics are equally female.

electronics are equally female.

There are some basic fix-it things that every woman should know. Fixing an electrical cord is one of them.

I found this out the hard way when the temperature dropped to 33 below and my truck wouldn’t start. The culprit: the three-prong head of the cord of the block heater had snapped off. The truck is an ’89. I should start expecting these things. Fortunately I have a partner who knows a thing or two about such things and is willing to share his knowledge (so next time it won’t be him freezing his fingers off).

Turns out it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. Here’s my first electronics crash course:

Basically we spliced the broken wires with the corresponding wires of a newer (working) cable.

Step 1: peel back the plastic housing of the cords you want to splice together. We used the knife on a leatherman, being careful not to cut the wires themselves. We peeled back the end of the snapped off cord to about an inch and a segment about a foot from the “female end” of the extension cord in order to preserve the useful plugs that can accomodate things like a trickle charger and engine blanket.

Beneath you should find three smaller coloured plastic cords. Green, White and Black. Assuming the cord has been assembled properly Green = the ground (green like grass growing on the ground) and represents that round prong in the middle, White = neutral, Black = “hot” (I just watched the Malcolm X movie last night, so I’ll avoid furthering the White/Black stereotypes, though in this case they apply).

In my case, one cord followed the colour conventions, the other one had green, black and black housing. Taking a closer look at the wires themselves, we saw black coloured wires in with the copper… we guessed correctly that this was the hot wire.

Step 1.5: Go inside to warm up for 10 mins. When you can feel your fingers and toes again, go back outside.

Step 2: Wrap the corresponding wires together, twisting clockwise with pliers (righty-tighty). Double check that you’ve put the right wires together. Pop one of those electrical wire connectors (you know, the plastic end-caps thingies that twist on) on each set of twisted wires. This keeps them isolated from each other and helps ensure a connection.

Step 3: Ensure there are no exposed wires and make it look nice with electrical tape.

Step 4: Zip tie or otherwise affix this new section of cord to the grill of the truck to make sure it’s not going to get abused to much. Coil and secure the long end of cord, that is essentially a permanently attached extension cord (ya don’t want that dragging on the road).

Step 5: Plug it in, cross your fingers nothing explodes and listen for the sweet clickin sounds of the block heater coming to life.

You can also buy new plug ends to attach to avoid the complicated splicing. But when it’s 30 below and you can’t drive to the hardware store, you make do with what you’ve got.