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They don’t really talk to me anymore

Thu, 07/20/2017 - 17:42

Joe left this morning for a business trip, leaving me all to my own devices for the weekend (so far I have really cut loose and vacuumed the bedroom) and as soon as he was gone, I remembered that I’d forgotten to get him to help me with sock pictures.

Undaunted, I decided to engage in another episode of a game I call “weird textile things I’ve done on my front steps that make my neighbours nervous.”  (Previous entries have included direct warping a little loom because the neighbours fence was the right distance away, hanging skeins of yarn from the cherry tree for photographic purposes, and nestling various works in progress amongst the greenery to document their progress.)*

Today I decided that I’m a reasonably flexible person and there’s a timer on my camera, so I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to do it myself. I have tried this before and taking pictures of your own feet that don’t look weird and show off all the parts of a sock is really hard.  This time though I thought that I had it figured out. I set the timer, ran over and stood in front of the camera and…

No good. (Don’t my coral bells look beautiful though? All that rain.) I looked at the picture, decided that I was standing in the wrong spot and just needed to move over, marked that spot with my mind, and then realized I’d screwed up by picking up the camera without noticing where it had been, and swore a little. I took a few other test shots, and finally worked out that what I had to do was stand in the right spot, then lean forward, sort of downward dog style, push the button for the timer, and then stand back up again without moving my feet.  This is quite difficult, and means you’ve got to stick your arse way up in the air, and from the time that I push the button, I’ve got ten seconds to execute the manoeuvre, quickly walking my hands back and standing upright.  My neighbour down the street walked by at this point, and said it looked like a good stretch. I think she thought it was the worlds most awkward attempt at yoga. On the stairs. In socks. Anyway, things improved then.

(Yarn: Gauge Dye Works, a club yarn I got a few months ago.  Pattern: my own Sock Recipe. Needles: 2.25mm.)

After that I got bold and attempted a bending-over-arm-extended-like-I-am-another-person shot.  Less good.

But I improved.

Sort of.

*I have been doing this kinda thing on the porch, warping looms, photographing yarn, projects, hanging hats on trees, arranging hats on posts, draping blankets over fences, taking pictures of various family members and myself wearing knitted stuff year round for about 15 years now. I live in the city, and those steps are about 1m from the sidewalk. Tons of people walk by every day, and never, not once, ever (and I mean it) has any human being ever asked me why the %$^&*$ I have mittens in a tree.

I think they’re afraid.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

It started with a boo boo

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 16:23

A few days ago, before I rode my bike 120km in the pouring rain (I am not even kidding. I’ve never had to ride in conditions like that. At one point I was going up a hill with Jen and Ken, and it was raining so hard that the water was coursing down it, and we all looked down and burst out laughing – none of us had ever ridden “upriver” before. It was nothing short of epic. My riding shoes are still wet, a whole day later.) I hurt my finger. I was making dinner, and moving fast, and a tiny mistake with a knife put a tiny cut in my thumb. I cursed, cleaned it, whacked a little band-aid on it and thought no more about it until I sat down to knit about and hour later.

Every stitch I made hurt the cut and stuck to the band-aid, and I sat there, trying and trying, but the cut was in exactly the wrong place. The smallest little thing, bugging the snot out of me.  I decided I could live with the annoyance and tried for a  little longer, but then I had a pretty good idea.  I went upstairs to the stash room, and came back down with this pretty bit of business.

It’s a 80/20 Merino/silk blend from Fiber Optic Yarns – an old colourway I think, called Cyprus. (That’s an old page I scrounged up on their site – might work!)  I split the roving in two lengthwise, and started to spin.  I’m aiming for a 2 ply lace/light fingering, and so far, so good.

A few days later, I’ve got the first half spun, and my finger is healed just fine (it really was a tiny cut) but I can’t seem to stop. It’s been a while since I was at my wheel, and I’d almost forgotten the peace of it.

Karmic Balancing Gifts? There’s a ton, so let’s bomb through a bunch! (If you’ve forgotten how this works, or you’re just tuning in now, this is a fundraiser for Team Knit – that’s Me, Cameron, Ken, Jen and Pato, and we’ll be riding our bikes to Montreal (that’s 660km) in just under two weeks – and we’re all working on fundraising goals.  We’re raising funds for PWA, it’s the People With Aids Foundation, and it provides practical, essential support for people living with HIV/AIDs. What we’re doing here is simple. You help – either by donating to one of us, or by helping to spread the word, and then send an email to me at stephanie@yarnharlot.ca with the subject line “I helped”.  (That bit’s important. It sends it straight to the right folder.) Tell me if you’re a knitter or a spinner (or even if you’re a non-knitter) and add your address. Then I draw names and other people who are awesome just like you send you presents. We’re balancing out the karma and making the world the kinda place we want to knit in.)

First, five lucky knitters are getting a free pattern from Emily Wood Designs. Teresa Y, Nicola R, Dana G, Carol S and Maggie S, good luck choosing. There’s some beauties.

Next up, Ann has found it in her heart to part with 8 ounces alpaca silk roving from Gale’s Art in the Scarab and Peacock colorways – and they’ll be making their way to newbie spinner Doreen S’ house.

Ann’s also letting go of 8 ounces Wensleydale wool top by Hello Yarn in Smells of the Sea colorway… and she’ll be sending that to Scharleen O.

Carrie went into her stash and found three gifts she’d like to say thank you with.

Sundara Yarn – Sundara Lace in Chocolate over Salmon, 100% Silk, 1000 yards/100g for Catherine M.

Creatively Dyed Yarn -Voodoo2, DK, in Aim.   350yards/150g for Amy F.

Brooks Farm Yarn – Solo Silk, Sport weight, Colorway: Corals & Oranges, 50% Wool, 50% Silk, 400 yards/112 grams per skein – two skeins for Donna E.

Next, a big one! Handwork Hardware (I love these guys) are donating TEN gift packs, each pack has:

– one of thier needle sorters, designed to provide an integrated knitting needle gauge and sorter contained within a secure storage container for multiple sets of double pointed knitting needles. (And the device that once made it possible for me to mislay ALL of my DPNs at once.)
– one of their chatelaines, a pouch suspended from a belt loop or knitting bag handle that holds knitting accessories and other items for a knitting project. They will be sending those out, with my thanks, to Jessie M, Nicole H, Karen K, Emily M, Lorraine M, Laura R, Mary Y, Lisa, Emily V and Mary G. Julie’s stash is a place of wonders, let me tell you that, and Julie’s pretty alright herself. She’s got three beautiful gifts to mail out. Four skeins of Berroco Seduce (I love this yarn) for Lisa W. Beautiful silk/merino top from Hedgehog fibers for Kimberly F. Three skeins of gorgeous Viola MCN sport for Kathlynn K. Here’s a fun one – I wish I had it for myself, so lovely. Ana (Air Illustration and Design)  is giving away two free six month memberships to her embroidery club. (No- you don’t need to know how to embroider, the instructions are really good.)   She’ll be working with Liz B and Sage G to get that set up, I hope they’re as enchanted as I am. (PS, take a look at Ana’s instagram while you’re poking around. I follow her, and it’s really nice.) Naomi’s got two pretty things,290g natural and 242g heather gray pencil roving that she’ll be sending off to Susan C.

And 151g lace weight dark wool (black, grey, purple). Apparently her 2.5 year old saw the yarn cake and called it a tire (he’s obsessed with vehicles). I hope Carol T likes tires too. Last, but certainly not least, Caitlin has a kit for her charming pattern Epaulet, that she’ll be sending off to Rita V. I’m pretty wild about that pattern, the little fabric touches are adorable! Rita, if you don’t know any littles who would look cute in that, let me know. I’ve got loads of them over here. Whew! That’s 28 gifts, and I don’t think I really made a dent. More tomorrow, when I’m pretty sure I’ll have finished socks.

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

And I might have another nap too

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 20:46

Sometimes when I write to you, I sit here tapping my fingers on the keyboard, thinking of what I could be doing that would be interesting for you to read about.  Paperwork? Laundry? Another pair of plain socks because this is Canada and winter is always coming? Then there’s weekends like this one, where I did so much that’s worth telling you about that I can’t decide what to tell you first. I think I’ve got it sorted out now – I’m going to show you knitting – I know, totally shocking.  I was going to tell you about the weekend, Jen and I did our “back-to-backs.”  It’s a training benchmark everyone doing the rally has to meet, and this was the deadline, and so on Saturday we rode about 115km, and on Sunday we rode another 105km and together that’s about 220km or about 136 miles, for my American friends, and after careful reflection, there’s only two positive things I can say about it. We lived, and it didn’t rain. (It is almost a shame it didn’t rain, because it would have taken the edge off of the oppressive heat.) I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t struggle. It was really, really difficult, and I’ve been having a hard time with back pain while I’m on my bike this year. It’s a new thing, and I can’t quite figure out what’s causing it, but I can tell you it’s sorta awful.  (That’s an understatement. It almost makes me cry on my bike, and if you know me, that’s really saying something. I’m not into public tears. I cry in the bathtub like a proper McPhee.) I’m also not into suffering (more than I have to) so before several of you cyclist knitters out there pile on in the comments, know that I’m getting a bike fit (another one) and have an appointment with a sports medicine doc, and I’m working with a trainer, and stretching AND today, I am resting and enjoying the miracle of ibuprofen.  (If I’m missing something there, you can tell me, but I think I’ve got the bases covered.)  I am always, always unbelievably grateful for the donations you guys make to the ride, but I want to specifically thank the knitters who donated on Sunday and made my phone ding. Some of those cheerful little noises came at exactly the right moments, and specifically, Hannah D – you are personally responsible for the fact that I didn’t get in a damned taxi and sob my little way home.  Whether you know it or not, you guys have good timing.  Thank you. I know that it seems like a big deal to train for and do this ride, and you’re right, but it means nothing to PWA without your help.

Now, a little knitting? Actually, a lot of knitting. Let’s be fair.  On Thursday night I stayed up late and put the last few rows into the latest baby blanket, and blocked it with Joe’s help.  It was 2:30am by the time we finished, and I have to tell you, there is no love like like that of a non-knitter blocking a blanket in the wee hours.  He’s a good sport, my Joe.  (Also, while he’s a pretty poor knitter, he’s pretty good at blocking.) I put fans on it, and the next morning it spent a little time in the sunshine to finish drying – and then it was done. Completely, entirely-nobody-else-is-pregnant-spare-me-from-blankets-for-a-while-done.

As soon as that bad boy hit the water, it was clear to me that once again, I had overshot in the blanket department.  It would seem that no matter what my intentions are, I cannot knit a small one. This is another ginormous beast.  As always with these epics, there is no pattern. I like the idea that like the babies that I make them for, they are one of a kind. This one is for my sweet new nephew Emmett (that’s Joe’s middle name, and quite a compliment, he thinks – though the word on the street is that his brother forgot that was Joe’s name when he picked it, but you’ll never convince Joe.)

Like all these blankets, there’s a theme – I chose the stitches to reflect the child, and the family that they’re in, so for Emmett’s blanket, there’s leaves and ripples of water, for their love of the out-of-doors, and canoeing, and trees…

and the border is triangles (for the family of three that they were) and squares – for the family of four that Emmett’s birth makes them.

The edging is the same one that I put on his sister Myrie’s blanket, waves and waves, for both Chris and Robyn come from islands.

Like with Myrie, I know that you’re dying to see Emmett, and he is indeed a beautiful boy – but like his sister, he’s a stealth baby. Chris and Robyn are keeping him close, and private…

and maybe someday he’ll choose to be on the blog, but he’s too little to say so today. You’ll have to content yourself with his darling wee feet, swaddled up in a ton of wool.

Well, not quite a ton- but remember when I said that I was ordering so much yarn that there was no way I could run out and have a yarn emergency? Remember when I said I’d learned my lesson, and I’d gone way, way, way overboard in the yarn buying department? Knitters, my darlings, I bought 20 balls of it, and my confidence was high.  I spent half of the blanket trying to figure out what I was going to do with all the leftovers.

Turns out it’s not that big a decision.  1.75 balls remain.

Whoops.  Stay warm, Emmett.  Welcome.

 

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Turnabout

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 19:20

I started out thinking that this Wednesday wasn’t going to be anything special. As a matter of fact, it started with the Dentist (not my best scene) so I didn’t have high hopes.  It turns out though, that at just about the moment last night that I put down the blanket and turned to Joe to say “I’m pretty sure I can finish this tomorrow” my sister-in-law Robyn went into labour, and today we’ve got a lovely new nephew.  Details to follow, but he’s healthy, and lovely, and his mum is just fine, and they’re tucked up in their bed at home. (That’s where he was born. Quite nice.) Since I have neither a nephew or a blanket to show you, can I distract you (with my thanks, for showing Cameron a little love yesterday) a few Karmic Balancing gifts? I don’t have time for many, I’ve got a Rally meeting to go to, and an comrade in Australia to work that out with (when he wakes up) but here’s a start!

(PS, a few of you have asked for the links for Team Knit again, so here they are.  It’s me, Ken, Pato, Jen and Cameron, and we’re all hoping to meet our goals this year. Jen and I have a ways to go yet.)

From Kate, who’s obviously generous and has great taste, two lovely gifts.  First, a skein of MadTosh DK Twist in Bottle Green, for Maggie K,

and a beautiful MicMar Gradient (they’re Guilty Treasures now) for Catherine H.

Mary, from Mary Rose Designs has a nice gift, any pattern from her store that Jennifer C so desires (except for the Hugs and Stardust hats and cowls, because Mary is so nice that those are already designated for another Fundraiser… check it out.)

Melissa from Prairie Dye Studio has such a charming gift for Monique G.

A Sock sized Craft Fox Wedge Project Bag, a skein of Elk Lake on Anna’s Sock (80/20 Merino Nylon), a Mookaite Snagless Stitch Marker Set, a couple Progress Keepers (1 hook, 1 Locking) and a couple Knitty Button Pins.  (I’ve added links to all that, you should see the Canadian themed bags. Go on. Click.)

Darlene has two skeins of Louet KidLin in the glowing lovely Allspice colourway. Each skein is 50 grams with 250 yards so that is 500 yards of lovely kid mohair (let’s call it what it is, knitter’s crack!?) and linen goodness. (Darlene wrote that, but she’s not wrong.)  We both hope that Karen M likes it as much as we both do. Marin has such a lovely gift for five lucky spinners in the crowd, Louise H, Leah R, Jenny R, Deike P and Lily N are all going to get a brick of Grade A1 White Mulberry Silk. (About 123g each.) So, so nice to spin.   That’s ten gifts, but there’s so much more in my inbox – we’re going to have to have a Karmic Balancing Party every day, I think. See you tomorrow everyone, and smile – there’s a new baby in the world, and my nephew collection is expanded!  (I gotta finish that blanket.)

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Long Distance Knitting Ninja

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 22:34

I’ve got two feelings about knitting that most of you will have guessed by now. (Well, I have lots and lots of feelings about knitting, but let’s just talk about two today. It’s best not to let all the crazy out of the box at once.) First, I think knitting is a good friend to have. I’m seldom lonely if I have my knitting with me – especially if it’s the right kind, and like all good friends, knitting (usually, let’s not go too deep here) makes me feel pretty good about myself. No matter what else I suck at, knitting can give me a deep feeling of accomplishment, a sense of order out of chaos, and the knowledge that I do a lot of things (just not all things) pretty well.

Second, I think it’s not that hard. Sure, I hear ya, there’s some knitting that’s really hard (and I like that kind too) but mostly I think that it doesn’t take a lot to be solidly mediocre at it. Excellence, that’s harder, I grant you, but I think that most everyone can pull of “pretty okay” at knitting if they give it a go.

Now, keep those two things in mind, and let me tell you a story.  Most of you have met Cameron by way of this blog by now, and know that he’s a fairly recently converted knitter. He asked me to teach him after an incident last year when he rescued my knitting at a pub (I’d left it behind.) When he asked me, I asked him why he wanted to learn to knit, and he said that it seemed to him that I took a lot of pleasure in it, and he wanted to try. (I found that, as I find most reasons for knitting, pretty charming. Ken learned so that he could repay the favour of all the knitted stuff I’ve bestowed upon him, Pato learned so he’d be more valuable in a zombie apocalypse, and Joe asked me to teach him when we were first together, and though it didn’t stick, I’ve always thought it was probably part of why we ended up married. I’m pretty sure that was his reason for it, and it totally worked. I’ve never found any knitting more charming than his.) I taught Cameron, and he’s ended up being a very good, if somewhat come-and-go beginner. (Apparently he has other interests. Odd, but true.) The first thing he made out of the gate was a hat, and then a baby surprise sweater, and then he’s largely plowed through a pair of mittens. (He is reluctant to knit the thumbs. I feel like this is normal.)  By the end of all of that, Cameron could knit, purl, increase, decrease, pick up stitches (sort of) work in the round on circulars and DPNs, and (with some degree of complaining) follow a pattern. I feel like that makes him solidly beginner/intermediate – and no, I don’t think that I started him on stuff that was too hard, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t mention it either.)

Fast forward to this year, and Cameron and I are Co-Leads of Rider Team Leads (we know, dumb name) on the Bike Rally Steering Committee again, and it’s lots of meetings and lots of time but we don’t mind because we think it’s really, really important, and so we juggle things around, and make it work. We’re friends too, so the work is fun together, and totally worth the way that it sucks up knitting time. (I like to think that working for life-saving charities is a way of giving other people more eventual knitting time. It helps me stick to it in a crunch.) About seven weeks ago, Cameron found out that he was going to have to go to Australia for work, and that he was going to have to go for five weeks. Seven weeks before the Rally, he was going to have to put down his life here in Toronto, and go live on another continent. We worked out how we’d manage the workload with a 14 hour time zone difference (it’s a big deal, especially when things are pressing, or important) and that I’d be doing the meetings for a while.

It was more than that though. He’d miss Pride, Canada Day, most of the short Canadian summer, a few birthdays, and all the fundraising and training for the Rally, all of which was going to add up to me what seemed like a lot of loneliness and a Rally that hurt and didn’t raise as much money as usual in exchange for all that hurt – all while working really hard on his regular job.  (I did not say all this to Cameron. He’s a reasonably smart guy, and I didn’t want to demoralize him. He was being pretty good about it all.) I thought about all of that, and then I did the only thing that I thought would help, considering the two true things that I mentioned about knitting.

I gave him sock yarn, and 2.25mm DPNs.

Now, in retrospect, I see that alone on another continent wasn’t exactly an idea situation for learning to knit socks, but it felt like the sort of personal emergency that only knitting socks could fix, and he had said that he thought that knitting socks was pretty cool and he’d like to do it “someday”, and to a knitter, all that ended up feeling to me like the yarnish equivalent of chum in the water. I got him set up, and he left.

There were a few texts after that, but the socks seemed to be going pretty well, if slowly, but I can forgive a beginner that entirely, but then things sort of stalled out. He didn’t say much about the knitting, and I interpreted that as a signal that he wasn’t lonely, that everything must be just fine, and I didn’t bring it up for a while. I finally asked, in a casual sort of way how they were coming along (brave that, thinking of them as plural) and Cameron admitted that he’d had a “tiny” problem with the ribbing, and didn’t know how to fix it, and he was stuck. I wasn’t sure if we could fix knitting by text – but agreed to try. He sent me a picture of the “tiny” problem.

Yeah. I know. I’ve been over that in my  head a bunch of times too, and let me tell you this: I have been teaching knitting for a long time, and usually it only takes me a minute to work out how someone got into trouble, and to figure out how to get them out, but that? I still have no idea how he managed to to it. It’s one of the most creative ways to screw up that I’ve ever seen. Did he change direction? Did he drop a stitch and…. I don’t know. Maybe he gave it to a kangaroo for a bit, but that knitting was a mess. He sent a few more views, and they were pretty breathtaking. Here is where it gets suspenseful. Thanks to the time zones, and the fact that I sleep at night and he does too, there would be a huge delay. He’d send a picture, 8 hours later I’d send one back. Pictures with arrows and indicators and “Step one” written underneath, and telling him what to do with A and B and C.

He’d do what I said (8 hours later)  then send another picture. I’d look at that (8 hours later) and send back more instructions.  The first one I sent said “The way I see it, you’ve got three problems.”  I didn’t say anything about his chances.  See my second point above. I hoped that if I didn’t mention that this was black-ops level fixing, that he wouldn’t know and he’d just…. do it. I believe firmly that if you don’t tell someone something is hard, they might not notice. I didn’t praise him, nor act for even one little minute like it was remarkable, or amazing that a brand stinking new knitter on his fourth project would be making a repair like that without another knitter sitting alongside. I was afraid to shatter the illusion – like pointing out to a bumblebee that flight is actually impossible for them and then having them crash to the ground.

Back and forth we went over days – Cameron dropping stitches, rearranging them and following directions

(mostly – there was debate that was pretty fierce about tinking back half a row – or as fierce as debate can be, considering the lag) until finally, yesterday, he sent this.

It’s fixed. Cameron has a friend in Australia again. He did it, and now that it’s done, I feel like I can tell him this. That, buddy, was pretty impressive, and I still don’t know how you did it.  See you in a few weeks. Hang in there, and knit. It’s a good friend.  If it doesn’t feel like that, do it more.

(By the way, if you’re impressed too, you can show him with a little donation to the ride. He hasn’t made his goal yet. Doing that might make the riding hurt a little less.)

PS: Happy, Happy 4th of July to all my American friends. Enjoy!

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Oh, Canada

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 00:05

I bet you thought I wasn’t going to post for Canada Day this year, but here I am, what may seem like a few days late, but it’s not. Our family had ton’s of commitments this weekend, but luckily the grand occasion of Canada’s Sesquicentennial fell on a Saturday this year, and that means that today’s a Statutory holiday as well, and bingo – there was our Canada Day together.  We had a little party with a simple premise. Bring Canadian food.

Blog, we had the loveliest time. Poutine, ketchup chips, Hawaiian Pizza (that’s pizza with pineapple on. It’s a bizarrely delicious and Canadian idea) and Caesars and Nanaimo bars and butter tarts and oysters from PEI, and maple (and sprinkle) donuts from Tim Hortons.

The kids laughed and played (except Elliott, who wasn’t really into Canada Day, but his dad stuck a flag into his carseat to make it look like he was in the spirit) and we all had a great time in each other’s company, and unbelievably, it didn’t rain. It was perfect.

I always wax a little poetic on Canada Day – I’ve written so many posts where I listed wild and wonderful facts about this beautiful place, but this year, we found ourselves talking more than once about the wonderful advantages all the little people in our family have, by virtue of having the good luck to be born here.

They live in a safe country, one that prizes inclusion, diversity, fairness and being a refuge for people all over the world. They live in a country with health care for all – a system so good that only 3% of Canadians will ever get health care in another country in their lifetimes, and most of those times are when they’re on holiday. Canadian life expectancy is 6th in all the world. (We’re beaten out by just five countries, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Australia and Sweden.) My grandson will live well into his eighties, if he’s average. (I like to think he’s way better than that.)

He and Luis and Frankie have had the good luck to be born in the most educated country in the world, one where the literacy rate is over 99%, and the only country in the world where more than 51% of all citizens have a tertiary education –  and they will most likely be bilingual (or in Frankie and Luis’ case, trilingual.) Because they’re Canadian, they’ll probably be avid travellers, and welcome all over the world.

Thanks to being born here – Their parents will enjoy a full year of paid parental leave (even if they were adopted) with the option of extending it to 18 months.  As they grow, they’ll enjoy the beauty of our country, no matter where they live in it, and clean air (the third cleanest in the world) and they’ll be treated with fairness, no matter who they choose to love, who they say they are, or what faith they profess, if any.  On top of all of that, they live in the same country as Santa Claus.

Hopefully they’ll learn to love the winters…

because that’s the only downside we could think of.

Happy Sesquicentennial Canada. We’re so grateful to live here. Bonne fête!

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Still in the kitchen

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 13:46

Thank you all so much for all the kind words about our little Millie. It took me forever to read all the comments*, because I could only get through so many before dissolving again, and I’m trying to move past this phase where I weep desperately about a cat 43 times a day. The world is full of big and important things, and here I sit, completely trashed over a tiny mammal. Her food and water bowls are still in the kitchen, neither of us seem to be able to get rid of them, and we haven’t had a conversation about her box, or her scratching post. These little artifacts – her brush, her comb, the jar of catnip… we’ll have to do something about them I suppose, but for now, we avoid looking at all of it, and don’t talk about it.  Even knitting has been a bit hard, since she always sat right beside me while I did it, and her absence triggers the aforementioned weeping. I’m not really a weepy person – so I don’t know how to knit and weep at the same time, and it turns out that just holding your knitting doesn’t get much done.

**

I’m trying to change that today though, because Robyn is still pregnant, and although she has plenty of sympathy for the loss of a pet, I can’t imagine she’ll have patience for it much longer, and despite a baby or two having broken my streak, the suspicion lingers that babies don’t come until their blanket is done. I don’t want her thinking that her continued condition is my fault.  I’ve not been carrying it with me because charts and huge blankets aren’t good around-the-town knitting, but today I’m packing it along. It’s starting to feel impossible to finish the thing, and that means I need a big chunk of knitting time to get ahead of its inertia. I swear I’ve poured an entire other ball of yarn into it and you can’t really tell.  This may mean that I’ve done that thing where the blanket is bigger than I thought again, but no way to know until it’s not so scrunched up on the needles. We’re going to war, this blanket and I. It ends here. It ends now.***

 

*Thanks too for the Rally donations in Millie’s memory. They are very touching, and make me laugh, which is a lovely antidote to all that weeping. That cat didn’t even know what a bike was.

**It is raining again, so that picture looks like I took it at night. I swear I don’t know how many more rain days I can take.

***Ok not now-  there’s a lot of the edging to go, but it was a satisfyingly dramatic thing to type.

 

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Millie BadCat

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 22:53

From the moment I saw her years and years ago, I knew Millie was the cat for me. She was very small, and the tag on her cage at the Humane Society said that she liked to chase moths, and I thought that made her a knitter’s cat for sure. Turns out she didn’t give a crap about moths, but she was a hell of a mouser, and regularly attempted to make short work of every animal in the neighbourhood.

It wasn’t at all unusual to have to unhook her from the front windowscreens where she hung, hurling invective at some enormous dog she felt sure she could end if she could just get through the damn window.  She slept on my head every night and went on hungerstrikes when I left town. She liked to put her tail in my bath. Her favourite food was pizza, she was tidier than we were, and she taught all the girls to hang up their coats through the magic of urine… and I didn’t know just how much I loved her until today. She drove me crazy.

Millie was an old lady by now – in human years she’d be in her nineties, and up until the last few days she’d been having a pretty good run. She still made her rounds every morning to make sure that there were no squirrels that needed threatening, and she continued to raid the compost bin if the lid was left open, fulfilling a deep passion for any food that was not intended for cats.  In the last little bit she’d become very skinny, and seemed to have less energy, and today a visit to the vet for what we thought was something minor became very major indeed, and we said by to our little cat just an hour after a diagnosis so devastating that there was nothing else to do. She was a very, very good cat, and we wouldn’t have wanted to see her suffer for a minute longer.

I’ll get back to knitting and fundraising tomorrow, goodness knows both need doing, but  tonight I think I’ll just have a really good cry for my 3.77lbs of wee beast.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Monday was a stinking slag heap of a

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 20:12

Monday was a stinking slag heap of a day. Monday’s scene was scrambled, it couldn’t get itself together, and despite noble, persistent and good-natured attempts by yours truly to bring it around and call it to its higher self, Monday didn’t even try to work things out with me. I tried with Monday, I really did. I tried going for a training ride – it’s been so hard to find the time and energy, only to get a stinking flat tire. (Which I changed, with no amount of struggling for good humour.)  I trudged through it, attempting to charm it into submission, but Monday proved too much for me, and after spending the evening’s knitting time trying to untangle a ball of yarn that had contorted itself into something that looked like it had been in a toddler’s toy chest for a week,  I fell into bed that night thinking the best thing an optimistic person can after a day that’s clearly out to get them, which was “well, at least it’s over.”

Tuesday? Tuesday wasn’t as bad as Monday, but let’s be clear, it lacked the joie de vivre and decent good sense that any day attempting to follow a train-wreck of a Monday should have had. Tuesday didn’t even try.  I gave up on Tuesday last night when it rained on me last night and the porch roof leaked.

Today? Today is, rather literally, sunshine and roses.  I went for a training ride by myself, and it was nothing short of lovely. Not too hot, not too cold, very sunny but I didn’t get a sunburn, my inbox is almost sorta kinda under control, and I am finally ready to start the edging on this baby blanket.

The chart I devised even works, and I have a clever idea for the corners that I think will work, though I’m not far enough off from Monday and Tuesday’s pale curse to go so far as to say I’m confident. My jeans fit just right, and tonight I’m having dinner (it’s Joe’s turn to arrange it) and a cuddle with Elliot Tupper, and he has learned to smile and has the beginnings of a clumsy laugh,  and does his best to pretend he likes me best. (Joe will argue and say it’s him that’s the favourite, and even that charms me.)

Happy Summer Solstice, my friends (except for Cameron and other knitters in the Southern hemisphere – for them it’s one of my favourite days, the Winter Solstice. Light a candle. As of today, the light is on it’s way back to you.) Tonight we’ll sit in the garden, ignore the weeds, and marvel at how long it stays light.

How’s your day?

Categories: Knitting Feeds

I think it’s in the living room

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 20:32

Random thing the first: I got on my bike this morning and took about sixteen deep breaths before pushing off and going to the gym.  (Did I tell you about this? I’ve started picking up heavy things and putting them back down again. I’m absolutely terrible at it, but that’s not the point. Avoiding osteoporosis and staying strong is the goal, so it doesn’t matter that I’m a pathetic weight lifter. I’ve got the bar low. Literally and figuratively.)  Four trips across the continent, a retreat and several birthdays in a row have finally managed to knock the organization off me and left everything a mess. (The fact that my unpacked suitcase is still in the middle of the living room is a terrible sign. Note to self, tidy that.) I’ve also given up trying to make a blog post with flow.

2. The retreat was great, as it always is, and the yarn bombings were beyond compare – as you can imagine from a group inspired by World Wide Knit in Public Day. (We tried to knit in public, but when you’re at a knitting retreat it’s hard because knitters are the public. We did our best.

3. We had some fantastic yarn bombings this time, but I think this was my absolute favourite, metres and metres of icord, knit from leftovers and wound through the railing on the landing of the Inn.

The best part of it was watching it grow. The first morning there was a few rows, then the next morning it was a little bigger, and by the last day it was as you see it, the whole thing filled in.

Nobody saw how it got to be there either, it was like a vine that only grew in the night. Non-knitters thought it was cool, but the knitters were bananas for it. (That’s a lot of i-cord.)

4. On Wednesday, which just so happened to be my birthday, I left Port Ludlow at 8:30am, and staggered through the door (after a car ride, a ferry ride, another car ride, two planes (one cancelled and re-booked) and a taxi) at 2:30 am and it was not the best way to spend your birthday ever devised.  I admit, it had a lot of knitting in it, which should have been decent groundwork for a birthday, but failed to deliver.  I tried to be chipper about it, because I was travelling with Jen, but the truth is that I miscalculated how I’d feel about it, and it wasn’t awesome.

5. I felt bad about this until (while I was just thinking about whinging about our cancelled flight) a friend I was texting with said I should call a do-over. This is apparently a completely legal birthday manoeuvre that I have somehow gotten to be 49 years old without knowing.  It turns out that if a birthday looks like it’s about to go sideways, you can call a do-over, as long as you do it before you’ve had the whole birthday. (This is, I suppose, a way of making sure that you don’t cheat and get out of hand, trying to get more birthday than you properly deserve.) I get the feeling that you need to call it before there’s a cake with candles in or something else that’s irrevocable, but luckily for me, all I’d had was a frisking at security. (Hardly seems like it would count.)

6. I have decided to have my do-over on Sunday, when I can see my family and have dinner with them instead of getting that Happy Birthday text message with the balloons over and over again, which while thoughtful, is not even a little bit the same.

7. I have not seen Elliot in 10 days, which is a record. Joe got to see him day before yesterday and I am so jealous I could die, but that’s unbecoming, so I’m trying to get over it. Not only have I called do-over for Sunday, but also dibs on the baby.

8. The blanket is not done but I am getting close.

That’s a lie. If I’m lucky I’ll finish the border today, and then I still have the edging to do.

9. Thank you to everyone who sent donations for the ride for my birthday – trying to get everyone on Team Knit (that’s me, Jen, Ken, Cameron and Pato) to their goals is an amazing Birthday gift, and all I really need. I was especially charmed by the donations of $49.

10. This is because I am now 49.  I think what I love best is that PWA is going to be absolutely flummoxed trying to figure out why on earth someone would donate $49.  (For the record, our Lady Jen was 43 on June 12th.)

11. Tomorrow, rain or shine (because we’re running out of training time, we have to ride even if it rains) Team Knit will ride their bikes 92km. (That’s 57miles, for my American friends.) We’ve all set our phones so that they ding when we get a donation for PWA. The ride tomorrow has a lot of hills, and I can’t tell you what that ding does when you’re halfway up one. Puts the whole thing in perspective.  The only member of Team Knit that won’t be on his bike tomorrow is Cameron, who’s still working in Australia, and spending a lot of time worrying that I am going to ride my bike faster than him because he’s not able to train.

12. To be fair, this is pretty much my goal.

Karmic Balancing Gifts? Game on. I just have time for a few. (PS, if you missed how this works and have no idea what we’re on about, then see here.)

First up, from the rather amazing Lucy Neatby, we have a gift of 10 of her amazing DVDs. I’ve got all of these and they’re amazingly helpful, even if you’re not into the topic. (By the way, if you’re not the DVD type, you should try her craftsy classes. Lucy’s a really, really great teacher.) Lucy will be sending Knitting Essentials 1&2 to Erin F.

Sock Techniques 1&2 to Clair S.

Knitting Gems 1&2 to Amanda H

Knitting Gems 3&4 to Janet A

and Intarsia Untangled 1& 2 to Evelyn U. I hope you love them as much as I do. (PS, don’t try to watch while you’re knitting something unrelated. It’s disastrous.)

Next  up, three great gifts from Sarah at Sea Turtle Fibre arts in Calgary. First, she’s got this gorgeous set of gradients that she’s sending to Meg W. (She’s including a co-ordinating skein of Charcoal, you lucky duck)

a Kit to make this Goldfinch Shawl by Drea Renee, including the pattern and 3 skeins of their Riptide MCN Sport for Emma F.

and last, but certainly not least, a set of our three of their most popular Rainbow colours on Ridley Sock: Dark Side of the Moon, Rainbow Brite and Rainbows and Unicorns will be going to Patricia J.

So perfect for Pride month Sarah, thank you!

More Monday, assuming tomorrow’s ride doesn’t kill me. (Oh, the hills.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

I am like the wind

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 19:17

Randomly on a Wednesday: Subtitle – things I have done since last we were together.

1.  I applied all your suggestions in the last post, and the baby blanket is way, way bigger. This picture isn’t even accurate – because since I took it, I’ve picked up stitches all around the sides, and I’m working the border pattern in the round. Hope is on the horizon with this one, because tomorrow I leave for the June retreat, and I’ll have a whole bunch of travel time. I’m sort of excited. (About the retreat too, although I’m super psyched for the knitting time.)

2. Jen and I went out and did a training ride together. I’m behind on my rides (you would not believe how completely crappy our weather has been) and Jen is even behinder- since she had to wait for school to end and her job to be over to be able to get out there, but get out there we did. A rather good showing of 50km, with no whining, which you should all be really impressed with, considering our ages and the way you can’t knit while you ride a bike.

Jen’s the same as me that way –  her behaviour is mostly yarn led, and we’re both better people when our knitting is in our hands. It’s a wonder we can cycle at all, now that I think of it.

3. I made Elliot a sweet little sun hat (that I assume he’ll wear if summer ever arrives here.)

It’s the Baby Sunbonnet from Purl Soho (they have stuff besides knitting stuff – who knew?) and it wasn’t too hard. It worked out really nicely, actually. There was only one problem.

It was a little big.  I’ll make him another one.

4. By the way, I think it’s way more embarrassing to have a sewn thing come out the wrong size than a knitted thing. It’s not like it changes with blocking or it’s all scrunched up on a needle, and there’s no gauge to shaft you. It’s just… a mistake. Failure to measure.

5. Meg and I spent an afternoon making her a wrap skirt, perfectly adjustable for the post-baby changing figure. She can just keep cinching it in. Elliot was super helpful.

6. That one came out the right size.

7. I flew to Portland on Sunday to meet up with Stephen, so that we could surprise Debbi for her birthday. (There was a party organized, we didn’t just show up.)

I got on a plane first thing in the morning, and so did Stephen, and we met there and went for a walk in the Rose Garden (Fine. We ran. It was ambitious and we ran out of time.) and then we grabbed a hotel, put on pretty clothes and showed up at the party. I’m pretty sure we took a couple years off of Debbi’s life.

8. I flew back the next day. I’m still not sure it was all smart. (I am kinda tired.)

9. I drove Cameron to the airport, because he has to go to Australia for work for five weeks, and I’m not really sure that’s how either of us imagined getting ready for the Rally  – working together as Co-Leads on different continents, but work is work, and we have to pay the bills, and it’s going to be harder on him than me, so I’m trying not to whine. He’s going to do his best from away – and I’m going to pick up the slack here. He packed himself off on the plane with his brand spanking new socks in progress in his carry on (and his almost finished thumbless mittens in his suitcase. It’s like he’s a totally real knitter now- he’s 99.5% of the way there. I’m withholding the .5% because he didn’t worry about being underyarned for the voyage.)

10. I am packing, because tomorrow I head back to the West Coast (I know. I was just there. I know, you’ll say I should have stayed, but I really wanted to have a few days with Joe, and to see Elliot and there was a fundraising meeting last night that I thought was really important because fundraising is behind for the Rally this year) and did I tell you that Jen is going with me? It’s her birthday this weekend (and almost mine) and so we’re celebrating – knitter style. We’re going to party like animals. (By party we mean go to a knitting retreat. It’s the same. Six days away where you only talk about knitting, do work that’s about knitting, hang out around around knitting and only are with knitters? That’s like the non-knitters birthday equivalent of hookers and blow. We’re meeting at the airport at dawn and we’re gonna let the good times roll. )

11. We did a lot of baby holding. It’s super competitive around here. Stay strong Pato. Don’t let the Grampas get him from you. They’re circling like buzzards.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

At least it’s on time

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 21:34

I’ve hit that point in the blanket project, I’m sure you know which one I mean. It’s that thing where you look at an innocent looking project, and all you can see is a gaping abyss of knitting ahead of you, and no possible way you could ever be finished.

I know it looks like an ordinary blanket, but it’s my yarn eating nemesis. I’m just beginning the third ball, and the yarn keeps going in, and no knitting comes out. I’m not sure how that’s possible, this knitterly version of constipation, but here I am, and I’m a little worried about this blanket, because it’s got a long way to go, and it’s a bit early to be feeling so wildly desperate when I look at it.  I pick it up, and all I can think of is eighty-seven other things I’d rather be knitting, and twenty two projects I could be working on, and all of them seem better than this white wasteland of woolen despair. (Yesterday I actually cleaned the kitchen to avoid it. Bad sign.)

Usually, when knitting gets like this (and I don’t blame the blanket – every project tries this crap with me at some point) I add distraction.  A good book to listen to, a movie on the TV… I don’t watch a lot of TV, but there’s a lot to be said for a good binge watch of a show at this point, and I can’t believe I wasted the new season of Grace and Frankie on bootees and a sweater that I wasn’t sick of at all. It was remarkably short sighted, because the only way out of this is a whole whack of knitting time to break the back of it. I need to be on the winning side of this blanket. I need hope.

What do you do when you’re sick to death of a project, long before it’s done?

(PS. Don’t say that you knit something else. I’m on a deadline.)

(PPS. I don’t think I’ll do another blanket for a while after this one.)

(PPPS. I probably just got someone pregnant typing that.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Making

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 19:04

Making – The baby blanket. I’m two repeats in, and I think optimistically it’s going to take 15 repeats for the body, and then I can pick up stitches round my square, and get on with the border.

Making– it clear that I know that the blanket and the swatch aren’t the same and I there is no reason to panic, that stitch pattern comes later. There is no need to send me 2445 emails telling me that you are very worried that I am making an extremely large mistake that I have not noticed.  (Although I admit that I am completely and totally charmed by them – I can guarantee that one would say “Stephanie, I didn’t want to leave a comment that might embarrass you but I think that you are using the wrong instructions for your blanket – the stitch pattern looks nothing like the swatch. Thought you would want to know before you knit the whole thing.”)

Making: Our own clothes. The sewing thing went pretty well, I made a pair of pants that are exactly what I wanted – after I ripped the seams out 4 times because of a really weird mistake around Imperial measurements (I didn’t convert them, I just guessed what 65″ was (and apparently I have NO IDEA) and compounded by some strange body image thing that didn’t warn me before I put the pants on that they were way too big.

They are way smaller now. When I get a picture I’ll show you.  We finished shorts for Sam –

and she’s living in them. It turns out that until she owned Power Ranger shorts, she didn’t know there was a void in her life.

I made a skirt too! (I used this semi-pattern, though I don’t take direction particularly well)

It’s reversible – the inside is plain green.

I’m quite happy with it, though it’s a bit big as well. I’ll be moving the buttonhole so I can cinch it a little smaller.

Making: Up my mind that this weekend I need to ride my bike at least 80km. (That’s 50 miles, if you have as much trouble with metric as I do imperial.) I’ve been delaying getting out there as much as I should because I’ve been waiting for better weather (Toronto remains cold and rainy, and a lot of my bike routes are flooded) but while I’ve been waiting the training rides have been getting longer, and now I’m behind and pretty nervous. I rode 65km last weekend, and I’ve been out twice this week on shorter ones, but it’s time to get serious and take my lumps.

That’s what the weather here looks like for the next week. Hold Team Knit in your heart a little this weekend. We’re going to be wet.

Making – up a list because it’s time for the first round of Karmic Balancing gifts!

First up, the kind folks at Rib Magazine (That’s Eric, Devon and Jennie) will be sending copies of their second issue to five knitters Brenda G, Mary H, Karen F, Melora B, and Kathleen C .

I’m in love with this magazine, by the way – if their second issue is as good as the first? You’ll love it too. They say “Rib Magazine‘s exciting second issue NAVIGATE is now available. With four garment designs from Irina Anikeeva, Fiona Ellis, Catrina Frost and Annie Lupton, as well as four accessory designs by Benjamin Krudwig, Maria Muscarella, Anca Mustea, and Louise Tilbrook, you’re sure to find something to knit for yourself or the men in your life.”

Helena, Alexa, and Julie; AKA Oink Pigments have this beautiful skein of their brand new Targhee Sock – 100% USA grown, processed, mill spun, & hand dyed blend of 90% Superwash Targhee and 10% Nylon in “Goldfish Bowl” that will be making it’s merry way to  Joanie S.

Julia at Semi-cool Ceramics (Pop over to that shop, she has some very charming things)  has made a beautiful handmade yarn bowl,

and I bet she didn’t know it when she made it, but it’s for Emma C.

Lisa T just got lucky – she’ll be choosing a gradient bundle like this one,

from all the beautiful choices over at Dirty Water DyeWorks.  Thanks for donating that Stephanie, I have no idea how Lisa will choose.

Finally..

Making: Myself late. I gotta get downtown. I’ve emailed everyone who lucked out in the Karma department – and there will be (way) more to come. Thanks to everyone for the amazing donations and the wonderful gifts and you’re all my favourites.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Good News

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 20:08

I know that nobody out there could possibly be as worried about this as I was, but the yarn is here.

Let the great blanket sprint begin – and yes, I know that swatch is tiny but I say it counts. Casting on in 3-2…. oh, wait. I have to get dinner together first. Oh, and answer that email. I’ll do it right after, crap. I’m due at Meg’s place.

Today. It begins sometime today.

(PS, Thanks for everything on the post before this one, you guys are amazing, and Team Knit is creeping towards its goals. We love you!)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

It’s still a thing

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 19:39

A few weeks ago, it was PWA‘s 30th anniversary. This is charity I hold near and dear to my heart, as you’ve probably gathered.  I sit on the steering committee, and I’ve ridden my bike from Toronto to Montreal several years in a row to support them. The Bike Rally (It’s actually The Friends for Life Bike Rally, but we shorten it) is the sustaining fundraiser for this charity – the money we raise provides just about half of their funding each year, which is a rather amazing thing to consider, when you think about the fact that it’s a bunch of regular people getting it done, just because they care.  To celebrate the charity, the Bike Rally organized something we called 30 for 30, and we went and rode on stationary bikes (in shifts) for thirty hours straight, down at City Hall.  It wasn’t meant as a fundraiser – just an opportunity to raise awareness for what we do, and what the charity does – which is provide real, tangible, practical help for people living with HIV/AIDS.  (This help varies – from helping people with money, to providing an essentials market (that’s their dignity based food bank) to helping access medication and services, to haircuts and help with their children when they’re sick, or need to go to the doctor. They also help train medical students, and reduce stigma in the community. It’s important stuff.)

So we all went down, a bunch of us – and we each did a few hours on bikes, talking to people as they passed by, and suggesting that they consider riding with us – or finding out more about PWA.  Now, Toronto’s a big, busy diverse city – and if you’re going to hang out in front of City Hall for 30 straight hours, you’re going to meet all sorts of people – and we did. There were people interested in riding, people to cheer us on, City Councillors looking to know more. and even a few people who will end up accessing services through PWA. I want to talk about one particular moment though – one person I met.

I was spinning on the bike (well, and knitting, let’s be honest here) when a gentleman approached me, and asked what we were doing. I told him, giving him a pretty standard set of lines, and at some point he stopped me and he looked at me, and he said “Wait – People with AIDS?”

Now, there is still a lot of stigma out there. People still have all sorts of crazy ideas about HIV/AIDS, and some of them are pretty negative. A lot of people still think it’s a virus that only gay men get, or that you’ve got to be pretty stupid to get it, or that it’s a punishment, or… well. You get the idea. I braced myself, ready to counter whatever he came up with, or, I thought I was ready, but what he said just about knocked me off my bike.

“Hold on,” he said, and paused, looking sort of shocked… “Are there still people with AIDS around? I mean… ” and here he paused again, and looked around like he expected them to be descending upon him… “Is that still a thing?”

I got a hold of myself quickly, and I explained nicely that it was indeed,  still a thing, and that there were still people with AIDS around, and gave him a couple of facts, and off he went, as surprised as he could be. I rode my bike for another few hours, thinking about that, and wondering how any right minded person could feel the way that this guy did, and then I came home and I had a conversation with a friend about how wild and crazy that was. How could he feel that way? How was that possible?  My friend is a thoughtful person, and very clever and good with people and they were far, far more forgiving and understanding than I am, and they made some really good points in the guys defence.

My friend noted (correctly) that this is a cause that’s been downgraded. There are excellent drugs now, and people with HIV/AIDS are no longer receiving a death sentence with their diagnosis – provided they have access to that care.  It still claims lives, probably more than most people think, but for the most part, with good management, people live a long time. That makes this all seem less important, my friend stressed. It no longer seems like a crisis, and nobody understands how we got here, what’s still going on, and what it takes to make it this way.

They were right. Years ago, this was an easy cause to get attention for. The situation demanded attention – the depth of the crisis couldn’t be ignored, it was everywhere. The response was terrific. Drugs were developed, systems of support put in place, education programs begun, a lot of people worked hard to reduce ignorance and stigma around it, and organizations like PWA were at the forefront. In many ways, this all worked, and did a lot of good. That’s how we got where we are now – which is a place where an ordinary person could think “AIDS? Is that still a thing?”

(Ken and me yesterday, completing about 60km. In the everlasting rain.)

The problem is this – now it doesn’t seem important, it all seems like maybe it’s coming together and it’s going go be okay (as long as we don’t look at Africa or other places where people don’t have access to this stuff, because things definitely aren’t okay there) and now the natural response is to cut funding, quit supporting these programs and charities, and dust off our hands and say “Thank goodness we got that under control” without stopping to think that these programs we’re all backing away from? They’re the things keeping this okay. They’re the things saving lives. They’re the thin barrier standing between the way things are now and the way things used to be. The virus has not changed. It is as dangerous as ever – only the forces allied against it hold our gains.

We see this everywhere. Funding cuts, cuts to education, drops in fundraising… even the Bike Rally was smaller and raised less money last year – and yeah – that resulted in cuts in personnel and programs at the agency. There’s less help now. Less access to the things that save lives now, and fewer people trying to make things better. That would mean we’re going to go backwards, and the crisis is still there – it just has a very good bandaid on it, and that bandaid is threatened.

This is heartbreaking for me.  I know several people who are HIV+, and I bet you do too, whether you know it or not. (For lots of reasons, we still live in a world where there’s so much stigma around this that a very many people choose not to disclose their status.) I don’t like it- I don’t like what this trend means for their health and lifetime of well-being, and I don’t like what it says about our culture, and so.. this is all a long way around saying that Team Knit (despite 4/5 of us being rather desperately middle-aged) is getting on their bikes again this year, fundraising again this year, and that we would really, really like your help making the magic happen again, if it’s possible for you to do it.

Team Knit is:

Me

Ken

Cameron

Pato

Jen

That means that in 9 weeks and 5 days (yikes) we’ll get on our bikes, and ride about 660km from Toronto to Montreal. (For my American friends, that’s about 410 miles.) We’ll give up our weekends and some of our weekdays between now and then to train, we’ll dedicate hours to fundraising, and that’s how a week of holidays will be spent. We’re trying to make the world a place we like better, and sturdy up that bandaid.

Our decision to ride our bikes to Montreal helps nobody, and makes no difference, not without you – as a matter of fact, you’re the important part.  Once again, I’m going to try and raise a ton of money, and like last year, I have a private and deeply personal crazy-pants goal. To this end, I’m going to do things the same way as last year, because knitters, you were amazing.  We’re going to do Karmic Balancing gifts again. Once a week (or so- maybe a little more or less) between now and the Rally, I’ll choose from amongst the people who’ve helped and redirect a knitterly (or spinnerly) gift from someone else who wants to help.*

It’s going to be all about the Karma – just like we try to make it every year. We’re trying to change lives here, make things better for some people, and there’s so much more to that than money, so, here’s the thing. If you donate to anyone on our little family team then please send me an email letting me know you’ve done so. Make the subject line “I helped” and send it to stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca. (Note the .ca it’s a Canada thing.) Include your name, address, and whether or not you spin.  (For the love of all things woolly, please use the subject line. It makes your email go to a specific folder and you have no idea what a difference that makes to my sanity.) You don’t need to say what you gave, or include proof. I know you’ll do your best, whatever that is, and I know you wouldn’t lie.

Now, we know not everyone has money to help with – so we’re taking all kinds of help.  If you can figure out some other way to do that, that counts.  Maybe you can tell a friend. Maybe you can post about it to social media. Maybe you can forward the email to people in your family who will give…  There’s lots and lots of ways to help, and if you can figure out a way? Send that email, letting me know you did. No money needed. (Of course, money is always good too, and even small gifts make a big difference.)

Knitters, lets go big. Let’s fill up the world with amazing, and when everyone at PWA asks who these people are, like they always do?  Ken, Pato, Cameron, Jen and I will smile and say what we always do. “They’re knitters. We keep telling you that they’re awesome.”

*If you want to contribute a gift, I’m trying to make it easy -It’s a ton of work, and I don’t mind doing it, but I have a better shot at getting it all done if you do this: Take a picture of your gift. Email me with the subject line “Karmic Balancing” with the details, picture and a link, if you want me to use one. When one of the helpers is chosen for a gift, I’ll email you the address, and you can ship it right to them. (It’s not a bad idea to let me know if you have shipping restrictions –  I’ll keep track.) I’ll try to get through them all, though it can be overwhelming. Thank you!

Now, please find attached a completely gratuitous baby picture, because sometimes when I’m riding my bike it helps to think of someone I’m trying to change the world for, and it can’t hurt you either.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Mummy’s Little Sweatshop

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 20:13

The paper and silk jacket continues to trudge along, though I’m feeling better and as my energy and will to go on returns, I’m trying to get a bunch of stuff done. I cleaned up around here,  zipped out to get a new bank card (I lost mine over a week ago and somehow decided I didn’t need or want money until now) and then Samantha and I went to the fabric store, because the other yarn still isn’t here, and we decided that the two of us could probably churn out two skirts, a pair of pants and some shorts in…

(Obviously, the Power Rangers fabric is not for me. I think.)

Well, fine. We think we can do it in about 24 hours. This is likely a bit of a dream, and we’re making all summer clothes and it’s freaking freezing so it wouldn’t matter too much if we didn’t finish, but it would be nice to have them done before the next blanket yarn arrives and I go in deep.  (The baby is due very, very soon.)  Both Sam and I know how to sew, so with the two of us cutting, pinning, ironing and using the machine, we should make good time. The first batch of fabric is in the washer, and as soon as it’s clean and dry, we’re off.

(PS. Sam is clearly my kid. Today in the fabric store she pretty much shrugged off the fact that we don’t really have a pattern for the skirts. Or the shorts. “How hard can it be?” she said.  I smiled to myself, because really, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that right before all hell broke loose.)

(PPS. Being an infrequent sewer, I don’t really know what’s out there. Anybody bi-craftual want to point me to some of your favourite sewing blogs? I can’t see myself sewing any more than I do, but I’d still like to see what’s going on out there.)

(PPPS. My heart lies with yarn.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Turns out those two words are a thing

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 20:14

The quickest trip to my computer today (actually, if I tell the truth I wrote most of this on my phone and then texted it to myself) as I’ve been felled by that most ignoble of all ailments, the dastardly UTI. I’m clearly going to make it, although there was a patch in there where I didn’t really care to, but now that the antibiotics are starting to work, there’s a chance I’ll decide to carry on. I haven’t even been knitting much, so great was the horrors bestowed upon my by this fierce foe, but when I have, it’s been the little Habu Jacket that I’m trying to finish before the next round of blanket yarn arrives in the mail. (Yes, on Monday when there was no sign of it I did indeed freak out and order it from somewhere else. A knitter can only live with the unknown for so long. A fresh batch is now wending its way here from WEBS – and their shipping is so great that only the border will slow it down.)

A funny story about that little jacket – the astute among you will notice, if you clicked the link for the pattern and then glanced at my photo, that they don’t exactly look the same. When I tried this on at that Habu booth at Madrona, it was a perfect, fetching post-apocolyptic-my-clothes-are-all-rags-but-like-the-matrix jacket, knit in garter stitch, out of paper and silk.  I have a thing for all of those things, so I bought the kit, and brought it home to hang out with all other other Habu stuff I buy and then don’t knit. (I love it all, I really do, but without exception the projects are all simple, gorgeous, and as annoying to knit as a three year old who tells you they have to pee right after you get them in their snowsuit – but I digress.  This time, I actually decided to knit it, and I got out the stuff, and sat down to interpret the pattern, and that’s when I realized that the thing is written for stockinette. I called Debbi (’cause she was with me when I tried it on) and asked her if it was definitely garter stitch, and she confirmed that it was, and said she remembered specifically because that was one of the things we liked about it.

I think I know what happened though, the pattern is written in the Japanese style, which is to say that it’s charted like this:

That’s about all the instruction you get, which is cool, because once you know how those patterns work, that’s all the instruction you need, but like all Japanese patterns, the only instructions you get about knit or purl, or right side vs wrong side is one line at the very beginning of the pattern, which reads “Stitch: Stockinette.” Then all the other instructions (when there are some) read “knit this many rows” or “knit direction”. You’re supposed to interpret the instructions in the light of that first note – Stitch: Stockinette.

I think that the sample knitter missed that one line, and nobody noticed and it turns out I like it better that way so… It’s going to be a variation. If I ever finish.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Knit Faster

Fri, 05/12/2017 - 22:00

Our little man Elliot is bigger by the moment.  I see him every few days, and every time I pick up his little body it has a greater heft. He’s gaining so well, absolutely thriving on his mother’s milk.  I suppose you would expect nothing less from a babe who’s grandmother was an IBCLC, and from a mum who went to La Leche League meetings in my arms. I was a Leader back then, and it all seems to have come together nicely. They got off to a grand start, and with very little trouble or fanfare, have stepped neatly around the pitfalls that make it so hard for so many mums and wee ones. (As an aside, it helps that parental/maternity leave in Canada is one year – paid. It’s so hard to nurse a little sweetie if you’re gearing up to be parted out of financial necessity.) He is fat, and glorious and his cheeks are a thing to behold.

Here, I assure you he is smiling – you just can’t tell because his cheeks are a bit much to heft.  He was born just about five weeks ago at 7lbs 3oz,  and now tops the scales at a spectacular 9lbs 10oz.  He is brilliant, and his mum is too. He is probably smiling in that picture because he is about to spit up on his brand new sweater.

Nice – right? He looks right fetching – and we haven’t even begun with his wee feet.  I made him a pair of booties before he was born, but they’re too big (unbelievably) so I whipped out another pair – but those were seeing hard duty. It’s still very cool here in Toronto and a little guy needs his woolies. So…

Voila.  Pirate booties.  Knit from bits and pieces of fingering weight hanging around the house – which downsized them nicely from the 3-6 month size they’re written for.  I did them on 2.25mm needles, and they suit just fine.

For the moment. though the little fatty will likely have outgrown them by Monday.

It’s all a grandmother can do to keep up, I tell you. I’ve called a brief hiatus to the baby knitting while I wait for some yarn to come in the mail – we’ve another family baby due here shortly, I’ll be an auntie again, as Joe’s brother Chris and his wife Robyn get ready to welcome their second. The blanket yarn is back-ordered though, so I’m back to knitting for me – until Monday. Then if it still hasn’t shipped, I’m going to freak out. If needed. I don’t want to waste any energy.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Surprise!

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 20:02

That’s what a friend said when I texted them this picture:

It’s a sweet little BSJ, knit out of my handspun, seen here doing the manta ray impression this sweater always does, right before it’s folded like origami, and presto-chango, you have a sweater.

It’s a trick I’ve always rather liked, and beyond being a fancy party trick for a knitter, they fit pretty well too.  My copy of the pattern is from The Opinionated Knitter (there’s a title that’s always resonated rather well – and there’s so much to love in that one) but there’s a new book out  – The Complete Surprise, that gives me mixed feelings.

I’ve always been completely been entirely satisfied by this pattern in its original incarnation (I love working from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s handwriting. It makes me feel proper as a knitter) and I’ve never felt the need to alter a single stitch from the way she wrote it (except that’s a lie, I only do the buttonholes on one side, no matter what flavour baby presents – on account of my feelings about buttonholes) but this new book?

An urge to knit a baby surprise suit is suddenly born within me.

After I finish these booties. (I swear they are booties. There’s just a lot of sewing to be done. Then he’ll be a perfect wee pirate.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Something had to give

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 23:05

This morning I got up and went downstairs to make the coffee, and I stood there looking around at the complete chaos, and decided that today is the day I am getting it together. Now, this isn’t an unfamiliar thing to say to myself. My trigger threshold for cleaning the house isn’t super high – I like a tidy house, and I like to be organized, but I’m still me, and that means that mostly I wish it was tidy, and knit while I think about that and things slip farther out of control,  but today I realized that I’ve got to get a grip.  This happens all the time. I go to bed pretty regularly having decided that when the sun shines again in the morning I’ll be a completely different person. One who manages her time well, and cleans up messes as soon as they happen and throws in loads of laundry a long time before they’re wearing weird outfits because they didn’t, and is miraculously able to answer all her email and never runs out of tea, and I’m used to the disappointment of still being me at the end of the next day, but this time I really meant it.

Then I went and knit for a while.  Then I went to snuggle the baby and (rather ironically) wash Meg’s dishes and fold her laundry.

I know what’s happened here. I’m spending about 15 hours a week “grandmothering” (as my own mother so lovingly calls it.) it involves buying nursing pads and dropping off dinners and holding the baby and answering texts about his tiny fingernails and the way he likes to suck in his bottom lip when he nurses, and going to and fro from our house to his, and there is absolutely zero chance I am not doing even one of those things. He’s only going to be tiny for a little while, and I can see no universe in which me wearing a shirt that doesn’t have baby puke on it is worth missing any of that.

Also, I have a job, and I like to knit, and I’m pretty committed to the Bike Rally Steering Committee and Joe’s working long hours and should be able to snuggle a baby if he has a minute and … so something had to give and it was cleaning up, or doing laundry, or organizing anything at all, and now we live in a pit. There is not a single room that is acceptable. My entire nod to cleanliness has been to hang up towels after we use them so that we can go a week without laundry, I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher yesterday – and I think Joe gave the toilet a swipe and took out the compost. He must have, because it’s gone.  (I suppose it’s possible the cat ate it as a signal of neglect.) You would struggle to find a clear spot on the coffee table to put down a coffee, there’s yarn everywhere, and the house is littered with post-it notes that say things like “BUY SOAP” or “10 MINUTES LAUNDRY.” (They have had little effect.)

I thought about all of that while I worked on another sweater for Elliot.  Not that one pictured above, that one didn’t work out. I wanted to knit him a little Baby Surprise Jacket out of the leftovers from my cowl because it’s super soft and cozy, but the gauge was wrong and I don’t have enough and I was lying to myself for about 12 rows before I had to accept the truth.  I swished through the stash and found some stripey handspun I’ve been waiting to use, and now that’s on the needles.

Working out fine, I still might not have enough, but I’m going to worry about that later. Much later, because something’s got to give, and it’s me. I’m going to start with the kitchen. Maybe after one more row.

 

Categories: Knitting Feeds

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