Knitting Feeds

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 01/15/2021 - 15:44

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My Favourite Articles and Links This Week Doomscrolling is exhausting, isn’t it? Let’s try joyscrolling. 20 Soothing short video clips to help you destress through the day. This was a fascinating read on how the attack on the Capitol building in the US will have long term and far reaching impact. I loved this little

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 01/08/2021 - 11:00

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My Favourite Articles and Links This Week How to talk to white friends or family about white privilege. I love this – listening to forests around the world. A nice way to enjoy the woods if you can’t get outside. The stories behind Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s most famous collars and jabots. I’m a big fan

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

A New Mod Monday: Vintage Habs Cardi

Knitted Bliss - Mon, 01/04/2021 - 15:19

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It’s been a while, but check out this amazing modification! Original Patterns: Gramps and Spice  Knitter Extraordinaire: Allison (Ravelry profile, Instagram) Mods: Alli combined the top-down Gramps cardigan from the cast on through the yoke, and then began integrating aspects of the Spice cardigan after putting the sleeve stitches on holders. Buttonband and garter stitch

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

As I mean to go on

Yarn Harlot - Thu, 12/31/2020 - 20:59

I don’t want to talk about Christmas – do you?  I mean, we did it, such as it was, but the whole thing was a little hollow for me. (If by “a little hollow” you understand that I mean it was horrible and a husk of a season, and left me miserable beyond measure.) Ontario is back in the kind of lockdown we were in the spring (and have been for a while now) with no family bubbles and no shops open and no haircuts again. (Already we are all looking scruffy.)  We did all the right things. I arranged our annual Gingerbread Party over Zoom – I baked cookies and made icing and dropped them off at the doors of all parties concerned.

   

We had Old Joe do the annual reading of Santa Mouse for all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – again, Zoom. We opened presents with each other on *&^$Cing Zoom, and while I am normally a very resilient and optimistic person, I admit that this season just knocked the snot out of me. I’m so tired of this stupid pandemic. I was overwhelmed this holiday by thoughts of how things were “supposed to be” and that included missing my mum, Tupp, Susan and my Uncle Tom (Mum and Tupps brother) died just two weeks before Christmas, and of course – little Charlotte, who was supposed to be fat and happy, crawling around and trying to eat paper. Ironically – it’s that sense of loss that’s made us so careful.  We can’t stand the thought that another family would lose someone because we blew it – so this is it, for now – and on the upside I did learn a ton about what Christmas means to us – and surprise surprise, a lot of the things I work at every year don’t mean anything without people. I’ve always suspected this of course, I mean, I have seen The Grinch Who Stole Christmas lots of times, and it’s not like I’ve been ignoring the messages out of whoville, but this really brought it home. I bet it was like that for a lot of you too.

Long story short, I should have cancelled the thing rather than giving it a go under these circumstances, and as a result I’ve bought 4 boxes of Christmas crackers, and Amanda has an artificial tree and the minute that the restrictions allow everyone we love to be together, we are having a *&^%$ing Christmas complete with wearing the hats and putting up a tree and I don’t care if that’s August. Screw you Covid.

So, I’m moving on. If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, then you know that we have lots of traditions around the New Year. Ahead of midnight on the 31st; I pay all my bills, I clean the house, I sweep one last time and throw the dust out the back door – all so that I don’t carry anything bad forward into the new year and I end as I mean to go on. I put coins out so that the light of the old year and the new year’s moon can shine on it and we’ll have enough money for the coming year. I make sure I have a first footer, a dark haired man who’s the first across my threshold after midnight, and on the first day of the New Year I do a little of everything that I’d like to carry into the rest of the year, and start a new project. I also don’t do laundry on the first, so that no-one is washed away in the year that follows.

Now, mostly, I do this because it’s fun. My mum always did it, and she wasn’t at all superstitious, but I love the way it gives our family a sense of tradition, ceremony and contributes to our family culture. It’s how we do things, and it feels good. Last year though, if you remember, Joe talked me into going away for New Years. I left the morning of the 27th and flew to Nova Scotia for my Uncle Tom and Aunt Helen’s 50th wedding anniversary party (boy am I glad I did that now) and after a few days there, went to Banff to meet Joe. I completed none of the traditions. The house was a mess, I wasn’t even there, I think Joe washed some ski socks in the sink, I didn’t sweep. (Duh, hotel room.) Now, I’m not superstitious either, but I cannot help but notice that the one year I skipped… well. I’m sure there’s no connection, but you can be assured that I have spent the last week cleaning this house within an inch of it’s life. Closets, cupboards, whole rooms cleaned and repainted, I even put down the shelf paper that I bought at the beginning of the pandemic. Every room is edited, tidied, and at its best and I am taking not one molecule of last year’s crap forward, and you can bet that tomorrow I won’t wash anything (except myself which my mum says is not only allowed but encouraged) and you can bet that I’m ending this year as I mean to go on.

2020, don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 12/18/2020 - 15:40

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My Favourite Articles and Links This Week Facts don’t change minds. But friendship and proximity does. This is a fascinating and important read. How to purge your closet without regrets. This museum of favourite and beloved smells is so fascinating. What would be in your museum? Remember how everyone went and ordered loads of antiracist

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

New Free Pattern – Taddle Creek Mitts

Knitted Bliss - Mon, 12/14/2020 - 19:53

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A quick, cozy gift idea that can also stashbust? Definitely. Pattern: Taddle Creek Mitts Yarn: Berroco Mercado (about a quarter skein of two colours) Needles: 4.5mm (US 7) These are a VERY fast knit and a quick gift idea that works well for stashbusting leftover bits of aran weight yarn, and are big enough to be

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 12/04/2020 - 11:00

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My Favourite Articles and Links This W​e​e​k The gifts of deep listening. Oh my gosh, this is breathtaking and wonderful. Let’s go for a walk in the woods, lie in a meadow, watch rain make rings on a lake. Mental health tools to help get through the long winter ahead. This woman’s pandemic project of making

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

What is a Needle Minder?!

Knitted Bliss - Thu, 12/03/2020 - 00:57

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A needle minder is a small magnet that is designed to attract and keep your sewing needle / tapestry needle / embroidery needle so that it doesn’t get lost. NO ONE likes a lost needle! It’s so stressful trying to find it, hoping no one gets pricked in the meantime…. no thank you! Wizard Pins

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

The felt is a funny colour too

Yarn Harlot - Tue, 12/01/2020 - 18:14

It is in keeping with the rather craptastic nature of 2020 that I begin the month of December by blowing a deadline.  In the past this month has been the scene of some of my most glorious triumphs – grand knitting plans pulled together at the last minute, supernatural amounts of work coming together, spreadsheets and lists galore culminating in glorious family gatherings and joyful holiday parties.

Instead, defeat. I blame the lockdown. (Today is day nine.) You would think that a lockdown would give you nothing to do but knit and organize, but that’s not my experience of it. Instead, whole mornings are lost to *figuring out how to get red embroidery floss through a website and curbside pickup only to pick-up said pickup and realize that it’s completely the wrong red, heading home dejectedly while realizing that you forgot green thread anyway so you might as well light this floss on fire and make another order, all while wondering how you got yourself in a situation where red floss is an “essential trip.” (Repeat from * when the green thread is wrong and doesn’t match the buttons you had to compromise on as well.) Everything takes that little bit longer, everything is just a little more complicated, and no matter how hard you try, everything is a little bit off.

Still, it’s an advent calendar year over here, another little one in our family has come of age – I imagine you all figured that from the wee things settling around me in drifts, and I did have it completely in my head that it would be finished and in the mail by the 27th November and arriving in time for… well. For today. Instead, it still sits in bits on my dining room table and I think that if I really, really try, I might be able to finish it today, and figure out how to get it in the mail tomorrow, and then the rest of the Covid-Christmas knitting can begin in earnest. I did get smart and order most of the yarn I needed a few months/weeks ago, so hopefully nothing is too much of a disaster there. (I can’t believe I said that.)

Today – I’m going to – well, first I’m finishing this blog post, then I’m finishing something for The Patreon (if you’re a patron, a new video headed your way today I think – can’t believe I said that either) and then – oh crap it’s Tuesday so I have to have a weekly meal plan and a grocery list together and text the neighbours to see if they need anything and it’s still snowing so I’ll have to shovel before I take the recycling out and … then.

Then I’m going to finish the last ornament, cut the felt backing, cut the tree shape, appliqué it to the backing, cut and sand the dowels, cut the pockets, embroider and sew the buttons on, sew ribbon onto all the ornaments… and then… how does one get a mailing tube in a lockdown? Maybe there’s one at the Post Office? Maybe that’s tomorrow’s problem.

Are you trying to finish something today? Tell me you’re past your deadline too. It will make me feel better.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Small

Yarn Harlot - Mon, 11/23/2020 - 22:37

It’s day one of “lockdown” here in Toronto.  Not quite as scary as the first time – I feel like we all know how to to it now. We’re not scrambling around trying to figure out how you’re supposed to get things or what you have to wipe down or trying to figure out masks. The shops are all set up for curbside pickup and delivery, we’ve got our PPE sorted, and other than widening our bubble to include our immediate family (and then shrinking it again a few months later, as instructed) Joe and I have pretty much kept ourselves in lockdown the whole time anyway.  Joe’s still grocery shopping for his parents and others as needed, and we’ve kept it to once a week since mid March, so we’re all sorted there. It’s not so hard to only leave the house once a week for shopping if you’ve been practicing for so long. I haven’t been in a grocery store in eight months, and our list of close contacts for a week can be counted on one hand, and that’s if you put the both of us together.  (And you’ll have fingers left over.)  This lockdown, being asked to make our world a little smaller, it isn’t really that different from what we were already able to do.

I’ve been knitting lots of tiny things of late, wee mice and minuscule hats (the experienced among you will guess why, of course) and mittens for Elliot and…

I’ve been finding it rather satisfying, and it’s only just occurred to me today why that might be.  There’s a certain resonance isn’t there? My world has been so very small for almost a year that knitting small things just seems like a good fit.

As we start this new phase, one that we’re being told is at least 28 days, I’m trying not to panic. Part of me is so sad. What about the gingerbread party? What about Solstice… What about Christmas? Then I remember that we couldn’t have our usual Thanksgiving either, and somehow we all survived that. I’m trying not too look to far ahead right now. A few days at the most, and worrying just about small things.

I’m going to try and be here a bit more right now (at least in the next few days) but I am being gentle with myself, and keeping expectations low. It is the covid-times. Who knows what’s going to happen next. Except that I am probably going to knit this.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 10/23/2020 - 11:00

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My Favourite Articles and Links This Week Some great tips here – How will you stay cheerful this winter? Did you know that your hobby can boost your self-confidence? I love finding more reasons to craft! I loved this story- how an English village came together to help hedgehogs. You all know how much I

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 10/16/2020 - 11:00

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It’s kind of a big week for me- I’ve just soft-launched my shop with four knitting-themed embroidery kits! You’ll notice a few changes pop up around the site in the coming months, but there will always still be knitting. If there are specific things you would like to see on the site, let me know.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

Knitted Bliss - Fri, 10/09/2020 - 11:00

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My Favourite Articles and Links This Week Think you can spot an online troll account (meaning, a spam account solely designed to push your buttons on politics and fear and patriotism?)? It’s much harder than you’d think- heres a great quiz on it, and I thought I’d be really good, but I only got 5

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

That goes double for you

Yarn Harlot - Sat, 10/03/2020 - 20:47

For months now I’ve been telling anyone who complains that they’re off their game that these are exceptional times, and you’re allowed to roll with it however you need to. I reassure them that trying to weather personal storms while in the midst of global loss and fear in frightening times is challenging, and that if it means you’re not as productive or tidy or cheerful or laissez faire as usual, that’s cool. It’s a time to be gentle with yourself I say. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

I go away then, having said just that, and do (for the most part) the opposite.  Instead of reassuring myself that I’m actually doing pretty well, what with this being the most craptastic half year of my life, I have been making little lists of the ways that I am screwing it up. You were going to blog every day during the pandemic, I tell myself. You were going to spin when it rains. What happened to brushing up on your Spanish, and weren’t you going to run a 5k? Be in the best shape of your life? Write two books? Bake bread for all your friends, and while we’re at it, isn’t the house supposed to be cleaner than ever now that you’re in it all the time? (This one is epic. Turns out that being constantly in your house and using it for every aspect of your life trashes the joint. Who knew?)

I go to bed thinking essentially that tomorrow is going to be the day that I “get it all together” which is an awesome set-up for the next day, because it’s a goal that’s lofty but vague and therefore largely impossible to follow through on, and then I can disappoint myself properly that day too. I’ve essentially been setting a self-esteem trap every day and it turns out I’m great at it.

I’ve been wondering how to come back here every day when I’ve failed yet again, and it stalls me right out. I’ll have to apologize (again) I tell myself.  I’ll just tell the blog I’m sorry and I’ll do better from here on, and THIS WILL BE THE DAY I GET IT TOGETHER.

Well, it turns out it’s probably not. This is a time of great transition, and I want to be clear that I’m not miserable over here – I’m not lying at the bottom of a pit of despair ignoring a ladder right next to me. There’s good things and great things and bad things and for the most part I feel okay about how this family is doing.  I feel good about inventing a new job and getting us out of trouble, and I feel good about being as available to Elliot as I have been – If the kid can only have a few people in his life, they should be dedicated. I feel terrific about the time we’ve been able to spend together as a family this summer. I feel bad about how sad we are some days, and I feel sad too when I think of how many families feel the way that we do right now, with so much loss all around us. I don’t know how things are where you live, but here we are still under restrictions, mostly increasing ones right now,  and our world is tiny, and having the world shrink to this family and this house sometimes makes it hard to see outside of it.  (I realized the other day that I have lost my wallet. I mean, I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but it’s been seven months since I was in a store so its location has sort of slipped by me.) It is a strange and terrible time, and there are days when I just can’t be cheerful about it, and then days when I am with my family and I think that we’re in great shape, for the shape we’re in.

I miss my friends (especially my American ones) and travelling and knitting classes and conferences and Port Ludlow, and I dread the coming winter when our ability to see people out-of-doors and distanced will go away, and I feel bad for Joe that there’s not likely to be skiing this year, and I am worried about his parents who’s world has been very, very small for so long now.  I really wish we had a fireplace, or that those backyard firepit thingies were legal here. I have anxiety about the holidays, worried about what size and shape they will be and what we will do, and I asked on instagram the other day what people were looking forward to this winter (since I was short of inspiration myself) and there were great answers. Candles and soup, twinkle lights in every room, walks in the snow, movie nights, warm jammies, knitting mittens, the knowledge that I don’t have to put on real clothes for another few months….there is a list of good things. A big list.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, except that you are the blog. I am okay over here, I think. I worry sometimes that something is broken in us after all this, that we will never be the same, and I think that’s true. I think too many hard things happened to us too fast, and after this we will be different, and I think that’s okay. Different doesn’t mean bad, just changed, and maybe if I concede that I’ll stop waiting to feel the way I used to and just try to get used to…. whatever is normal for right now? I’m trying to figure out what normal grief looks like if we’re enduring a pandemic and damned if I know, but I wanted to tell you that I’m trying officially, starting now- to let myself off the hook for all of the messiness I experience while I figure it out. (Both literally, and figuratively.)

Of course, it’s possible that knitting an enormous grey blanket isn’t helping – never mind a grey blanket I screwed up.  It’s been a while since I made a spectacularly enormous knitting error, but here you go, this one’s a classic.  Years ago, I knit the MDK Moderne Log Cabin Blanket. It went fine. I loved how it turned out. Sure, that neutral garter stitch does sort of go on a bit (if you understand that “by go on a bit” I mean that you’ll weep near the end and beg for it to be over) but the result is so, so lovely.  So, I decided to make it again. (I gave away the last one.) I ordered the same yarn, I opened up the book, and I started. Joe and I were going away for three days, and it was the perfect time to get a big chunk of it done, and I did. I started as we began our long drive, with a very good feeling.

Now, here’s the thing. It seemed kinda big from the get go. Much larger than the last time, but I just thought to myself  that I didn’t recall correctly, and I kept going. Our getaway was a little yurt deep in the woods (the girls gave it to me for a birthday present. Neat, right?) No running water (except the river) no electricity, no civilization of any kind, and I thought that this would be perfect timing to really bash out a chunk of this blanket, and it was.

The setting was idylic, and I had hours knitting by the woodstove by candlelight listening to audiobooks, and grand fun knitting by the fire. It was super cold while we were there too (almost zero at night) and that by itself was pretty inspiring in the blanket department.

I can’t explain it,  but I did notice it was too big, but I kept thinking that it was going to work out. (Insane knitter theory #4: If I keep going, maybe this will stop looking too big. Essentially the idea that making something bigger will make it smaller. I can’t explain us sometimes.)  after three days, Joe and I came out of the woods, and as we drove back to the city, yay verily as the cityscape appeared on the horizon, I came to my senses. It was like being slapped in the face with reason and logic.  I opened the book to look at the instructions again and holy cats I am an idiot.

There are two blankets on that page of the book. An adult size, and a baby size. Now, obviously I wanted the adult size so that’s what I was knitting, but the original is knit out of DK weight yarn and I am using a bulky. The minute I looked at it I realized what I’d done last time, and what I should have done this time.  Knit the baby size out of bulky to get an adult size. I’d only completed three sections of the thing and it was already halfway to the size I was aiming for.

I came home and ripped it all out, and now I’m taking a second run at it – it’s coming out fine this time, thank you very much.

Though it’s rather possible I’m going to blow a deadline on account of the gaff.

I think I’ll forgive myself for that too.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Dear Charlotte

Yarn Harlot - Sat, 07/18/2020 - 03:55

It is tradition in our family for me to knit a blanket for every baby born into it. I’ve made a bunch of them now – starting with blankets for my own daughters, and then Hank. I’ve showered them on nieces and nephews, and a grand-niece and a grandson, and every one I have knit has been an epic. A blanket made just for them, never to be repeated again – with motifs and meaning that is unique to that one person on earth, as special as they are. I knit them for months as the awaited babe bakes away, and every stitch I knit in them is another little wish. Be happy, be healthy, be your own self. Be brave, be funny, be fierce, be all you, be mine.

When I give the blanket to them, there’s always a glorious photoshoot of the recipient nestled in all that love, and… I write them a letter. A missive explaining why I knit them what I did, what the motifs in their blankets mean, and what I hope for them, what I hope the future holds for them, and I tell them how very, very welcome and loved they are, and how happy we all are that they’re here. You’ll find some of those letters here on the blog. Dear Elliot, Dear Maeve, Dear Frankie, Dear Luis…

I love this tradition. In a family that values handmade things as part of our culture, the blankets feel like treasures to me, and they’ve always been treated that way by the parents of the babes, and by the children themselves, when they get big enough. They all call them “my blanket” and I have never doubted that they are the closest thing I can knit to an amulet of protection – my love between them and the world. Wrap yourself up in that, kiddo. You’ll always have me.

Of course, I knit Charlotte a blanket, and it was blocked and folded and waiting for her when she arrived, and there aren’t words to tell you how much I looked forward to wrapping her in it – the lace around her little face, her fingers curled like little blossoms against the wool and silk. We took Elliot’s blanket pictures when he was a week old and Meg and I had agreed that’s when we would take Charlotte’s. Those first few days are just too hard to scramble fancy photoshoots in matching clothes into the mix. We’d wait, we said. The blanket stayed folded, there was no need to rush.

Yesterday, Charlotte would have been four months old. Meg has been asking for almost all those months for Charlotte’s blanket to be photographed and for me to write about it, the way I did for Elliot, and I have been stalling, or maybe it’s unfair to say stalling and it’s really been more like… trying, because of all the items left behind in the wake of that babe’s life, it is the blanket that hurts me the most.

Meg and I speak often of the inner conflict we feel around remembrances of Charlotte. I know it is different for everyone -but for me and Meg, some things have begun to bring us comfort. The pictures and videos of her, or remembering the delicious anticipation of her birth, recalling the joy I felt holding her in my arms, these are things about my little granddaughter I don’t want to forget, and while it makes me sad to see or think of those things, they are balanced with a sweetness and happiness that makes it worth the agony. Other things have remained intolerable. My Ravelry queue, still full of everything I was going to make her is still exquisitely painful to me and I haven’t been able to open it – not after I opened it once without thinking and was confronted with it all. Similarly the tiny clothes I made for her that she never wore are unbearable. It’s funny, but I don’t feel that way about the wee things that we did dress her in. They don’t make me as sad at all, but the unused ones just break my heart.

For me, that is the difference. Remembrances of Charlotte don’t make me sad, but the things we didn’t use are gigantic reminders of the colossal rip off that is infant loss. So it is for Megan I think – we’re on mostly the same page with all of her pictures and belongings, with one difference. Charlotte’s blanket. Meg feels connected to it, often holding it and finding comfort in something that was so fiercely and individually Charlotte’s – a symbol of how desperately loved and wanted she was. Me? I’m the jerk who can’t quite look at it long enough to write the post my daughter wants.

Today – it’s been four months since Charlotte’s perfect day. The day in between the day she was born and the day she died – the day that we all just snuggled in and looked at her and passed her arm to arm and smelled her head and showed Elliot how he could tell that she loved him already, because she was holding his finger in her wee fist, and we let the feeling of tremendous luck and gratitude wash over us. Charlotte was safely arrived, healthy and beautiful, and carrying my mum’s name. It felt like a healing of a kind – one out, one in, the family seeking level like water. Meg and I whispered over her tiny body, marvelling at how she was a girl. It feels a little sexist, doesn’t it? To say we were happy she was a girl? Our family is an undeniable matriarchy – I think it started when my grandfather ceded all familial power by heading off to war, and my Grammy took charge and it’s been down to the women since. There is something special about being a woman in our family – to paraphrase Gloria Steinem, most of us became the men we wanted to marry, and we have a long history of wonderful mothers and powerhouse aunties and sisters and some (okay several) men who have opted out of doing anything amazing with their roles, and it’s left the whole family valuing women more than is strictly reasonable. I love Elliot more than I can possibly tell you and I don’t think having a girl is better than having a boy, but I had only daughters myself, and there was something about Meg having a daughter that lit us both up with a connection. Charlotte would be…. like us. A mother maybe, an auntie, a sister.

This is what I was thinking about while I knit her blanket. That she would join a long line of incredible women that Meg and I would tell her about as she grew. She would have me and Erin of course, but… we are the matriarchs now- it would be only stories that she’d hear about my remarkable Mum and spectacular Grammy that would inspire her. I resolved to start telling that story with her blanket – the story of the women she came from.

The centre of Charlotte’s blanket has little trees of life (I know, obvious – sorry. I get a little romantic about babies) and a border of diamonds because they have four sides – and Charlotte was the person who took Meg, Alex and Elliot from a trio- to a quartet. Meg and Alex will forever now have two children. The four little nupps in the centre of each diamond are for each of them.

Around that centre is ring lace. This is the only element that has appeared on most blankets that I knit – it’s a signature move, and is meant to symbolize the family that surrounds the child, whole and intact, as protectors and help.

Outside that, my favourite. It’s an old victorian lace pattern that’s roses on a trellis – it’s a theme of four again, but this time, it’s for my mum. Anyone who knew her couldn’t help but associate her with her garden, and her love of roses. Roses are like my mum too – and I imagined explaining to Charlotte that my mum was like a rosebush. Not like a rose, you understand, but like the bush. Beautiful soft blooms – and strong canes and thorns. Bonnie (the elder) was soft hearted, but it came with a wicked fierceness that I wished for my Charlotte Bonnie (the younger). There are four roses on each trellis, the same number of children my mum had. Me, James, Ian and Erin.

Beyond that – it’s my own Grammy. Kay McPhee, mercy she was a wild woman and she died when I was a teenager and I still sometimes think about her fingers in my hair as a I go to sleep. She was larger than life, and more beautiful than I can say, and if anyone ever tells me I am anything like her I feel so proud. She was like a willow. Strong, but flexible. Remind me to tell you all about the time she had me fake an illness so she didn’t have to go to a business dinner with my Grampa. Genius. (We got caught.) This panel of Lilly of the Valley is her favourite flower, and it grew all the way along the side of her house, and when I was a little girl she used to encourage me to lie on my tummy in the grass and stick my nose right in it. I recommend the practice. Lily of the Valley also appears on Elliot’s blanket – so a little nod to sibling solidarity there.

The border is the only bit left to tell my Meg about, and it’s the only thing that’s exactly the same as Elliot’s blanket – well, that’s not true. I used the same yarn too so that they’re in the same family – just like Elliot and Charlotte. It is Print ‘o the wave, and meant to signify the same thing it did for her brother. The water we all love to be in and near, the water she was born from, and into, and the wave of love that carried her here to us. It is the part that is Megan – the strong woman that Charlotte came from. There is much that I could say here about the strength I see in my daughter right now. I always knew it was there – but she’s shown more grace though the last four months than I could ever have hoped for. I am grateful that Charlotte had such a good, strong mum. I grieve that she didn’t get more.

I have not found a way to write to Charlotte. Maybe that is for her mother to do, or maybe I am just too much of a realist to write to someone that I know will never read it, and besides, I wrestle with some demons yet. When I wrote to Elliot, I wrote about how content I was as a grandmother- how the fear and terrible worry of being a mum gives way to experience, and that in that there is so much joy. I worried about what might happen to my girls, I wrote- but after they grew up, largely without incident, I thought there was nothing to fear, I could enjoy my grandchildren with a joyful unafraid love that leapt like little fish in the sunshine and made my heart feel like it was made of sparkles. How many times did I reassure Meg, how many times have I told her not to worry, not to be afraid? I was so wrong.

I think it is natural when someone dies, when there is a tragedy like this, that you search for the meaning, purpose and value of it. I think that too because Charlotte was so little, and because forty-eight hours is a pretty short lifespan, that the urge to look for the gift or transformation that her life offered is powerful, and there is an attempt to give weight and motive to a life that couldn’t generate it with time, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what that is.
I do not believe that Charlotte was here so briefly for a reason. I don’t think (and cannot tolerate) any idea that Megan and Alex have had to suffer like this as part of a grand design. They are good parents and made no mistakes and so I can only think it was an accident of nature that took her – like a terrible flood or a disaster that no-one could see coming, and no-one could stop, and I don’t feel like we are supposed to figure it out, but I can see that it’s going to change all of us.

Megan wrote the other day that she feels that this has taken her innocence, and this – this is Charlotte’s legacy, in a very good way. I have spent my entire adult life trying to learn how to be brave, and in particular how to raise brave daughters – and I do not think that was a waste of time at all, but this whole thing, not getting a chance to write Charlotte a letter, to wrap her in her blanket, it has reminded me that maybe when it comes to love, it is perhaps a good thing to be a little bit afraid.

I know now that anyone I love, any person, any moment can be struck by lightning, and since Charlotte came and went, I have tried to love the people I do a little more fiercely. I say I love you more often. I try to bite my tongue a little harder, to pay more compliments, to show more patience, to say yes a little more often, and I see Megan do the same. Can someone who lived only forty-eight hours change this many people? I think, as I look at my tiny granddaughters big blanket amongst the bleeding hearts, that oh, my Dear Charlotte, maybe so.

I’m so glad you were here. I miss you.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

An Illustration

Yarn Harlot - Tue, 07/07/2020 - 18:05

Things have been much the same here – working from home, hanging out at home, I can’t tell you how much I miss travel, and my knitting does too, it turns out.  For years I’ve known that knitting socks was my travel solution, I always had a pair in my purse, and I knit while I’m on the bus, on the subway, in cars, on planes – at the queues at shops, waiting for appointments, now that that’s all gone the sock production around here has dropped off sharply, which is to say that it turns out that without really thinking about sock knitting, I don’t do much.   So far this year I have only finished two pairs of socks, and knitters, it’s July.  Something needs to change, and it starts today.

We’re in the car, thanks to the miracles of technology I’m hitting post as we stream along northward with Elliot in the back seat, headed for an almost local Provincial Park and four days of camping.  Cases of Covid-19 continue to decline in Ontario and Canada, only 200 or so in the whole country today, so while many of the rules are still in place (no gatherings of more than 10 people, you have to stay 2m away from anyone not in your bubble, etc.) other things are becoming possible, like camping! The minute we heard we booked this trip, and you’ll happily find us in the woods as much as we can be there now. (What the heck. If you’re working from home, why not work from a tent?)

Since this is a return to travel of a sort, it’s a return to much needed sock knitting, definitely.  I’ve brought three pairs with me, and I intend to turn all of them into finished pairs before i get home, as much madness as that seems like. First this pair that’s missing just a gusset foot and toe – Ancient Arts “Lichen in my Crevices.

Then there’s this pair – missing just about the same thing – One done, one huge foot needed. (Yarn’s Must Stash in Vespa)

This pair isn’t yet a pair – I’m headed for the toe on the first one – knit in Regia Pairfect Rainbow – yeah, I was rocking a Pride theme for Pride month.

It is lunacy of course,  to think that I can possibly finish those up in just four days while chasing an active three year old (Meg is coming, but I suspect that she has some knitting goals of her own) which totally explains why I also have this:

(Neighbourhood Fiber Co – Pride.) I know. It’s all so crazy, but it feels like travel, and I’m so excited, and it might be possible.. right? We’ll see.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Alternate Ending

Yarn Harlot - Wed, 06/17/2020 - 01:31

Leading up to my birthday this year, I was a little bummed. While I don’t usually work on my birthday, this year I was supposed to be at the Strung Along Retreat with my dear friends Debbi and Judith, and a hoard of knitters I adore. I’d thought I would be sipping a spectacular glass of wine, toasting Debbi (her birthday was last week) while I showing everyone at Port Ludlow the latest pictures of my beautiful grandchildren, and did a job that I really enjoy. I imagined that when I got home I’d have a big party with all my beloveds around me. Obviously the stupid pandemic (and a few other knots in my metaphoric skein) meant that things were going to be very different and it was really getting me a bit down.

Since things really got wild over here a few months ago, I’ve made the decision to put my friends and family first, to cling to them and try to be nice to them and try to make this hard time a little easier, and doing that has brought me a lot of happiness during the lockdown, or as much happiness as you can have in a lockdown. It turns out that this is a family trait. There have been a thousand little kindnesses we’ve extended to each other during this time and I’ve been so grateful for all of them. My favourite part of all of it is watching the people in our family who neither need nor particularly want these kindnesses bestowed upon them accept them with a tremendous amount of grace, understanding that sometimes it helps the helper more than the helpee. There have been occasional mismatches, but mostly I am proud to tell you that this family has freakin’ nailed it as we navigate the hardship of a pandemic/loss/separation triple whammy. (Can you have a triple whammy? I know it’s a sports reference but I’m not sporty enough to have the nuance of it.)

I didn’t know what this birthday was going to look like, but I am an adult and I was prepared to make the most of it, but this family – oh, they are divine, and in the end I received such amazing gifts. First, my girls and Ken and Joe came up with an amazing plan, and it was so funny and charming that I laughed my way through the entire afternoon.

They got in touch with everyone that I’ve been missing and sad for, and came up with a scene of fantastical proportions.

 

Every hour, another few darlings of mine turned up in my back garden, and I had a physically distanced visit with all of them.

Every hour Amanda and Joe cleaned the furniture, put out fresh bowls of snacks (separate for every person) and and trotted out drinks in disposable cups and glasses of champagne, and every hour all day we sang Happy Birthday and had cupcakes.

 

Every 60 minutes. (I was careful to pace myself on both the cupcakes and champagne, realizing early that this could end in disaster.)

Through they came, a parade of all my favourites, and by dinner time I was overwhelmed with happiness, but it didn’t stop there, oh no, it did not.

The greatest gift I received this year (oddly, from the province of Ontario) was that Ontarians were allowed to expand their social bubbles. It’s not perfect, you can only have 10 people in your bubble, and no person in Ontario can be in more than one bubble – there’s a massive element of trust and monogamy, but that day, for the first time in months, our family was together.

It wasn’t perfect. Ken and Pato remain outside our bubble (their living arrangements mean they’re automatically in other bubbles) but I was with Elliot and he was with his Aunties, and the whole thing was as much a celebration of the family as it was my birthday. We lingered together long in to the evening, Elliot asleep in Grammy’s big bed upstairs, talking and eating and sitting in the garden under the twiklelights, all wondering how we’d ever managed without each other for so long.

I thought watching Elliot fling himself into the waiting arms of his aunties would be my favourite part, or even holding him in mine… but it wasn’t. Do you know, as the girls grew up and starting from when they were very little, I made a decision. it was a tricky one and one that has taken years to reinforce, years to implement – and years of quietly working things out so that they sort of had no other options, but I wanted my daughters to be each other’s best friends. I know that being sisters isn’t perfect, and they all have relationships outside the sisterhood, of course, but I wanted them to be close, to depend on each other. To be a team, if nothing else. This worked. I don’t know if they are each other’s besties, exactly, but they are a united force, and they depend on each other to a very great degree.

Watching them be able to embrace for the first time in 87 days was the best gift I have ever, ever received. I know we had to be apart to protect each other and our communities, and for the sake of vulnerable people and none of us could imagine doing something that would endanger someone else’s mum, not after we know what it was like to lose mine, but watching them console each other after so long… I can’t believe now that we did it.

We all pine for having our family all together, and for a time when we don’t have to sit so far from those we love, but that Sunday? It was perfect, and I mean it when I say it was the perfect gift, even though Elliot made me a pipe cleaner bracelet that is clearly going to fit right into my wardrobe.

 

It all came right as I thought I couldn’t take a minute more. For those of you who still can’t be with the people you love, hang in there. It’s worth it, and maybe it will be sorted by your birthday.

Finally – so many of you have asked about the Bike Rally – it being sort of traditional to donate to the ride if you were feeling the urge to give me a present on my birthday – so here is where we are at.

It’s not happening. I mean – of course it’s not happening. How could it happen? A group of 450 cyclists and crew (a bunch of whom are immunocompromised) travelling together from one province to another? The province currently isn’t allowing groups of more than ten people to gather, the campgrounds set up are only at 50% capacity, and the city of Montreal isn’t issuing permits. Of course it’s not possible. We’d kill people and spread the virus. The Rally is supposed to help, not hurt so this year we are trying to take the Rally virtual.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not consoled by virtual events. I am too clever and I suspect you are as well, to think that they are even remotely the same, that they scratch the same itch. That said, it is a heartbreaking truth for PWA that as our event goes virtual, their needs remain not virtual at all – in fact, the pandemic has meant that they are seeing an increase in the number of people with HIV/AIDS who need support now, and a reduced ability to fundraise, thanks to the cancellation of Pride Festivals and with many donors being under financial strain. To boot, it is far more complex to provide those services with the restrictions we have in place. Clients who had jobs that were helping might not now, clients with support may be missing that now, and clients with children are now under additional strain, with no school, childcare or camps. The needs rise, and the fundraising goes down, and so here is where Team Knit is at.

We talked it over and we decided we would ride the Rally anyway. Not together, and not all at once because the restrictions won’t allow it, but we decided to cycle 600km between now and the end of August. Then we looked at that goal, and we decided it wasn’t lofty enough It wasn’t… hard enough. The Bike Rally exists as a fundraiser as sort of a contract. We commit to doing something difficult, and you commit to supporting us, and tootling along riding a paltry 600km (I cannot believe I just typed that) doesn’t seem… inspiring, does it? It didn’t to us.

We talked it over again, and now Team Knit has decided to (oh I can’t believe I’m typing this publicly)…. cycle the equivalent of the rally each month for three months. June, July and August, and let me tell you that seemed crazy, and then we started trying to do it. All four of us still have jobs (thanks for the Patreon you lot!) and then Ken fell off his bike and hurt his knee (he’s going to be okay don’t panic) and there are no organized rides and we can’t ride too far from home because there’s no infrastructure for it (like bathrooms or food) and we can’t really be together, and… it turns out it’s really hard. Super hard, but we’re going to try, darn it – because no matter how hard it is, it’s easier than having AIDS during a pandemic, and PWA needs a way through the next year.

This year, Team Knit is the old faithfuls. (Photo taken last year when we were still allowed to touch each other.)

Me
Ken
Cameron
Pato

I know that things are tough all over, and I know that it’s possible all you can send us this year is luck and love, and we appreciate that a great deal. I know too that usually now I would fire up the Karmic Balancing machine, and I might yet – but I wanted to get a feel for what you all thought first? I know I’m tired of quarantining or wiping down packages, and I know that it would be an extra trip out to the post office for me to send something to someone now and while things are starting to be less scary in Canada (and I have been to the post office once) we’re still supposed to keep our public contact to a minimum.  I know so many of you are in the US- the epicenter of the world’s pandemic, and that with hundreds of people dying every day still – you might not feel comfortable going to the the post office, or getting a package. I am wiling to consider it if it seems or becomes reasonable, but don’t want to facilitate a system that gets anyone hurt – that’s so totally not what the Rally is meant to do (despite Ken’s banged up knee.)

Let’s think on it, and I’m open to feedback in the comments – thanks for being there. Let’s try to find a way to be nice to as many people as we can, with the minimum amount of risk.

You know, someday we’ll all read about this year in books.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Seasonally Appropriate-ish

Yarn Harlot - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 15:39

Now that I hang this finished thing in the back garden to show it to you, I can see that I was wrong about it. (I am physically distanced from all the World’s Top Knitwear models at the moment. I guess I could ask Joe to do it, but I know exactly how it ends and choose not to go there. For two people who’ve been locked down together for eleven weeks we’re getting along just fine, and part of that is that we try really hard to care about the things the other person is interested in and in return, don’t ask the other person to have to pretend too often.)

Shawl: True Colors Yarn: Fiber Optic Kashmir 6-pack in Spice, along with a skein in the natural grey.  (Edited to add: Thanks to everyone in the comments who tipped me off that I’d forgotten to link to the pattern – there you go!)

While I was knitting the last little bit of this one, it seemed to me rather hopelessly autumnal and it didn’t scratch the itch of spring fever that I had.  I was looking to embrace summer with my knitting, bright colours, hope and joy – it didn’t speak to me of flowers and warmth and water. (To be fair, not much in my stash does.) Now that it’s done though?

Doesn’t it just.  I love it.  I think it’s just so pretty, and I believe I’ve got that little jolt of bright acid springtime yellow to thank for it.  It’s exactly the colour of new leaves, and that ruby red is like the red of ranunculus or sweet peas.  I’m entirely smitten.  I admit, it hurts just a little to finish something so cozy as it gets truly hot around here, and I am rather short of places to wear it,  but I have hopefully hung it near the back door, ready in case there is a cool evening.

Still hungry for summer colours, a rampage through the stash turned up this kit, and I started to feel like I had the hang of this season. Summery – right? I’m getting the hang of this.  I’m out of my box.

Yarn: some antique (and sadly discontinued) Schaefer Heather (in bluebell) Pattern: Undulating Waves.

Don’t those little beads remind you of water trickling through a stream on a day with bright blue skies? Of forget-me-nots and rhododendrons…

It is a shame then that I dropped it like a hot rock when yarn came from Lichen and Lace (the used-to-was owner of the famed Lettuce Knit here in Toronto, now turned dyer extraordinaire in New Brunswick.)

They’re beautiful to be sure – but I opened the package and was disappointed for a second, wondering if I was retreating to my typical fall colours. (That’s 1-ply merino in “woods” and Marsh Mohair in “Shrub”)  I wondered if I was really any good this spring and summer knitting thing, and then I laid the little beginnings of my sweater in the heuchera by the door for a photo, and look.

It’s a summer Love Note after all. (Literally.  Now that the whole rest of the world is finished knitting that sweater I might as well make one. Nothing says Toronto heat wave like mohair!)

Categories: Knitting Feeds
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