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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

Mr Excitement

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 22:26

It would seem that Elliot has taken to modelling knitwear as a duck takes to water. He’s absolutely a natural.

He remains sweet tempered and easygoing, thus making him more like his father than any McPhee alive.  He’s seen here wearing a simple little garter sweater I banged out for him, because it’s still very chilly here in Toronto, and I am helpless not to swath him in great bales of wool for fear that he’s ever even a little bit cool for even one moment.  You would think that I didn’t know about central heat, the way I’m acting.

Yarn: One yummy little skein of Meadowcroft Dyeworks Rockshelter worsted in a colour ironically named Skinny Dipping, which is the only thing that Elliot doesn’t like.  Knit up on 4mm needles (I faked the pattern) and embellished with three little porcelain buttons from Round Rabbit. They’re perfect.

When I finished that, I got out a Habu Jacket that I’ve been meaning to knit myself, but I’m not sure it’s going to take.  I think Elliot needs more bootees. Or a hat. Or maybe another sweater. He’s bigger every day, and I’m going to have trouble keeping up with him.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Dateline – Toronto

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 18:19

Reports are emerging from Toronto this afternoon regarding a prolific local knitter who used to really get sh*t done, but in recent weeks has finally come to realize that no matter what approach she takes, how many lists she writes, or how precisely her schedule is organized, there inexplicably remain only 24 hours in a day, and each of them only have the standard sixty minutes, no matter how many post-it notes she sticks to the wall above her desk.

Witnesses claim that the complete dissolution of a system that was barely working began two weeks ago when the knitter became a grandmother.  “I don’t know what she was thinking” said a source close to the knitter. “I mean, you can’t just add a whole other person to your life and not take a couple of the post-it notes down, you know what I mean? She just kept saying it she could fix it with organization, but I think that she’s in over her head. The baby, the Bike Rally, the Retreats, The Knitter’s Frolic thing… She’s going to lose it.”  The source went on to report that the knitter had snapped the evening prior while serving bagged salad and dry toast for dinner,  claiming tersely that it still counted as a meal and mumbling that the source was lucky to get anything, and to hang up his towel after he uses it because they are  (*&^%ing out of clean ones.

This trouble has spread to mostl areas of the knitter’s life. A “friend” of hers reports that yesterday she proudly turned up to an 11am appointment at 11:30, absolutely confident she was on time. “That’s just not like her.” He said. “Steph’s really not late often, she’s pretty together, you know? I know she put this in her calendar. I can’t figure out what’s going on. Plus she made me look at pictures of that baby again. The kid’s cute and all, but I think she’s already texted me all of them.”  He reports that when confronted with the reality that she was 30 minutes late for their appointment, she took out her phone, looked at that day’s date,  incredulously tapped on the calendar, then stared incomprehensibly at the booking for 11am. “That’s really not…. ” she stammered, and then was overcome by wave of apologies while simultaneously answering a text about a missing help number for a training ride this weekend and making a mental note to eat lunch at some point while writing a talk for The Frolic this weekend and composing a reply to Megan addressing her query about burping and if you should wake a baby up to do it. (For the record, no.)

As we have come to expect from previous encounters with this knitter under stress, housekeeping went first, and the knitting has been the last thing to go. While dust bison roam the knitters home, everyone is out of clean clothes and a smell that has gone past “weird” and into “disturbing” continues to emanate from the fridge, itty-bitty knitted things  pour forth unabated.

This tiny hat followed the realization that the new baby was indeed too tiny to fit the things knit for him during his gestation, but that the weather had not yet turned, and he would need something on his head.

(Yarn is Madeleine Tosh Tosh Sock in an old colour called “Happiness.” Pattern an old favourite from the Original “Homespun Handknit“)

A pair of bootees followed immediately thereafter, because his feet looked cold, and he didn’t match, and despite the absolutely impossible level of chaos in the knitter’s inbox and on her desk, that seemed like a priority.

Pattern is Baby Moc-a-soc (downsized slightly, and knit in the round.) Yarn’s the Mad Tosh from the hat,  along with a wee bit of the same yarn in “Antler”, and this reporter can attest that while we are all pretty damn sick of the baby pictures, these are only sweeter on his widdle feetsies.  (Ahem.)

Despite all of these challenges, the knitter has so far, with the help of caffeine and crying alone in the bathtub, managed to meet all deadlines, spend lots of time cuddling the baby and continued to mostly do her job(s), as long as you take her at her word that she does not now, nor has she ever considered cleaning anything her “job”. She has appeared in public several times over the last few days and on the surface, appears to be holding up well. (There are sporadic reports that she texted a friend something like “oh man what was I thinking I’m not going to make it” but no actual proof.) The only outward crack in the facade has been a shocking tendency toward spelling errors in emails written in haste, the fact that she ate celery for breakfast twice because it was all that was in the house, and yesterday – left a freshly knit baby sweater outside to dry, immediately before a torrential downpour, where it stayed until it was completely sodden and in need of re-washing. Of this lapse, the knitter would only say “For (*$^%s sakes.”

(Photo procured after evidence was removed from the scene.)

When last heard from the knitter in question was typing frantically at her laptop, with her life in tatters all around her, softly mumbling “next week I’m going to get all this together” while her family stood nearby, shaking their heads gently.   We attempted to reach the knitter for comment, but all we received was a reply was an email that read “Isn’t he the most darling thing ever?” and the attached baby picture.

This would have been more annoying, did this news outlet not agree that he is freakin’ adorable. We will continue to follow this story closely.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Dear Elliot

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 18:41

I did not know, my sweetness, what it would feel like to be a grandmother. I tried to imagine it, and I wasn’t able to, not the whole time that you were on your way. I knew I would love you, that was certain – but the rest of it was a secret I’m only just now figuring out. My own mother has turned out to be such a wonderful grandmother, that I felt a lot of pressure, so I hope I do okay. It has started like this – you are so beautiful that I have shown your picture to every person I have encountered in the last 10 days. (The lady at the wine store agrees that you are perfect, and the guy who does our taxes (your Poppy Joe sent that one) agrees. Several taxi drivers have concurred, and I like to think that the lady at the grocery store can’t wait for an update.)  I have not been so besotted of a human since your Mum and Aunties were in my arms. I cannot get enough of you, your tiny fingernails are miraculous, your little mouth, so like your mother’s, I could look at it all day. In this way, my Elliot, becoming a grandmother was like becoming a mother. You are like sunshine, I can watch you for hours, and holding your small body in my arms almost hurts, it is so divine.

It’s different than being a mother though, because I am not afraid.  I don’t worry you’ll stop breathing, I am unconcerned by your snuffles and sneezes, I am not anxious about hypothermia if your hands feel cool, and I don’t fear for your future when you sleep through a feeding. I felt that fear for your mum, and it was all used up on her. I’ve seen how it goes now, and I know you’re not as tenuously here as it seems. When your mum asks me if you’re okay, it’s with an easy heart that I can reply that your are not just okay, you’re perfect. You changed that – promoting me from fretting, over-concerned mother, to confident, unworried grandmother, and it’s a change I’m enjoying. it is no longer my responsibility to make what feel like crushing, all important decisions about life and death matters, like whether or not you should have socks on. That is for your mum and dad, and the part of me that remembers the feeling enjoys watching them fuss over you. (The present debate centres around your fingernails. Do they need cutting? Are they too long? What if you scratch yourself? How should they cut them if they are too long? They are beautifully finding their feet as parents, and seeing them take on the role and the responsibility so well is almost as compelling and satisfying as your eyebrows.)

You’ve rippled through our whole little family, reminding me that babies are huge that way. Though you’re tiny, you’ve had an impact on all of our lives. Our whole dynamic has changed and we’re all looking forward, and dreaming, and imagining who you’re going to be, and what you’ll be like. So far, you’re easygoing, thoughtful, and worried – a lot like (me) and your Great Uncle Tupper, who’s name you bear. I’ve been thinking a lot about him this week, and I thought a lot about my own grandparents too,  as I did with your mother and aunties, wishing that they were here, wishing they could see you. I was blessed Elliot, with the most wonderful grandparents in the world, and though I only had them until I was in my teens, they remain two of the most powerful people of my life.  It was this that was in my mind when I started your blanket. The centre panel is Lily-of-the-Valley. It was an easy choice – for it reminds me of my own grandmother. It was a favourite of hers, and at her house a long bed of it bloomed every spring, and smelled like heaven. Your mother is named for my grandmother, and you’re the child who makes me a grandmother, and so Lilly-of-the-Valley it was.

Surrounding that centre is a wee border of ring lace. Tiny, perfect circles, meant as a symbol of the whole family that surrounds you. We are a small family, but we are tight, and we know how to operate as a team. it’s been said that we’re a hard family to break into – but you, little boy, are in, and the force of the wee and fierce McPhee army stands round you.

That motif gives way to a pattern of dog paws, meant to acknowledge your dog Penny. (She’s the border collie who keeps trying to lick your face, and comes over every time you fuss to make sure that someone is taking care of her people-puppy.)  I am not a dog person, but Penny is a very good dog, and I suspect she’s going to be your first and fiercest friend.

The largest border on your blanket is your heritage – where you come from, in the context of the great big world. Your mother is Canadian, so snowflakes for her – and your father is Nicaraguan, so the little flowers are Nicaragua’s national flower, the sacuanjoche. (It is hard to knit one, but I think it’s close. Maybe when I teach you to knit you’ll come up with something better.)

Finally, the edging I choose for you is an old one – unlike the dog paws, snowflakes or the flowers, I didn’t have to make it up. It’s a variation of Print O’ the Wave, and besides being beautiful, it’s a symbol of much. The water we all love to be near and in,  and the water you were born from and into, the wave of love that carried you here, and it isn’t lost on me that it looks a lot like the climbing plant in your living room that your parents both love.

All together, your blanket is just over 2 and a half kilometres of silk and wool, soft and strong, like I hope you and life will be. It is a great thing to be resilient, and gentle.  It took me months to make it, and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever made. I shudder to think how many stitches are in it, but know that I didn’t resent a one of them. They all hold my hope and joy, and there is so much of that – I couldn’t have knit a stitch less.

I know that right now, we don’t know each other very well. You’re young, and you’re perfect and you sleep a lot, and so much about you is yet to be revealed. Will you play the piano, like me? The guitar like Joe? Will you be tenderhearted, like Erin and your mum, or dangerously witted, like your Great Grandmother Bonnie or your Great Uncle Tupp? Will you be able to write like your Grammy or my Grampa, will you love crosswords and languages and travelling like Ian? Will you be fierce like your Aunt Amanda? Resilient like Samantha? Are you the child who is finally curly-haired, like me? Will you be tall? What will come from your father and his family? What will be all yours – the things that make you your own self, that we all come to think of as your gifts? We can’t wait to find out, and I am weepy and overwhelmed thinking of a lifetime of learning you.

You will go on to do a great many things, but know that even though you are so little, you have already changed the world. Though I will do my best to stand between you and sadness, you are going to have bad days. It is my fondest wish that on those days, you remember this.  You are a wanted, longed for, and deeply loved person, and you are everything we ever hoped would happen. You are my grandson.

Welcome, and I love you.

Grammy

Categories: Knitting Feeds

On the Outside

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 01:39

I have started and deleted this post about twenty times. Editing, deleting, re-writing, deleting, trying to say the right things about Elliot’s arrival, and what it was like. This time I’m just going to write straight through, and whatever happens, happens, because like all the times I try to write about big things, it never seems right, but now that I’ve realized I was writing about the wrong thing, maybe it just will be.

Elizabeth Stone wrote “Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” I’ve always felt this, as most mothers do, to be absolutely true, and wonderful, and horrible and risky in its truth.  Motherhood for me has been all of those things. Fabulous and heartbreaking and easy and hard and dangerous and frightening and glorious. Usually all at the same time, and while you are doing laundry.  I tell you this, because it perhaps explains what happened to me when Megan told me she was pregnant. I knew it was coming. I’d even suspected it for a while, and I thought that when they made the decision to get married a baby was what they were really after, but somehow – when Megan said that she was expecting, I did something horrible. I congratulated her and Alex, and then I excused myself, and I went to the bathroom and cried. Not happy tears either, not “I’m so happy for you” tears, but some sort of heartbreak that took me by surprise. Everyone knew I was crying, and it was days before I knew why, or could even start to explain myself. I think that people thought that I didn’t want to be a grandmother, or that I thought she was too young (she’s not) or that I’m bad with transitions (I am) or that I was too young (I’m not.) It wasn’t that at all – I was fine with me being a grandmother.  I was heartbroken that Meg was going to be a mother. That her fine, young, happy heart was going to start going round around outside her body, and that with that, she would get all the joy, and also all the pain and work and risk that motherhood brings.

It was a maternal reaction, I see that now. Some wild urge to protect my daughter from… well. Let’s be frank. I wanted to protect her from everything she’d ever done to me, and it took me a few months to settle down, but I did. (As an aside, this trait must run in the family, because I think my mum went through the same thing.) As the months went on I started looking forward to it, and as a retired birth worker, I was over the moon when Meg asked me if I’d come to her birth. She was planning a home birth with midwives – a practice I wholeheartedly support, and the way I had my girls, and she set about preparing herself, and her husband Alex did the same. (A little note here, let’s not debate home birth in the comments. I know it is not the case in much of North America, but here in Ontario we have educated, licensed midwives who are registered primary care attendants, and they are covered in our provincial health care plan. The research where we live is clear. Low-risk healthy women and babies are more likely to stay that way if they give birth at home.) I (eventually) became beyond excited.

Let’s fast forward to last Thursday, when I was about to get on a plane and leave my daughter to work at the DFW Fiber Fest. I’d booked the work before Meg was even pregnant, and although it was a tiny bit of a risk, I felt sure that it would be okay. First babies are seldom early, and almost never that early, and so with Meg’s blessing, I got on that plane and left. Friday morning I texted her and said something like “Whew! We got through the first night without you having a baby!” and two minutes later the text came back… “About that…”

Meg was (maybe) in labour. She’d started having contractions about every ten minutes that morning. I swore, and then I went to breakfast.  Sometimes labours start and stop. Contractions didn’t mean a baby was coming – so I went to work. I taught the morning, and then at lunch, Meg texted that they hadn’t stopped, and I spent the next 15 minutes having a complete nervous breakdown. I tried to find the part of me that could stay at work and miss the birth. I tried to imagine the part of me that did that, the part of me that has been to so many births for clients, but misses my own daughters, – and then I called my friend Jen (student midwife) and she told me what I already knew. “Go home.” She said. “I’m supposed to work two more days” I said. “Imagine that it’s twenty years from now” she said. “Where will you wish you had been?”

Right around then, a representative of the DFW Guild walked into the room, and I told her everything. I might even have almost cried. I told her I was trying to be the sort of person who stayed and taught while her grandchild was being born, but that I was failing. Then I stood there, and looked at her, and… Blog, I will be eternally grateful for this…She said “Family first. What do you need to get home?”  (Here I must note: my eternal thanks go out to the executive of the DFW Guild, and the knitters who were booked to have a class with me and missed out. Your generosity and kindness was a tremendous gift, One that I will never be able to repay, though this time next year, I’ll try.) A quick call to Joe, and I was tentatively booked on the 7:30pm flight to Toronto. (It was the soonest one.) I taught the rest of the day, then checked in with Meg to see if things were still underway (they were) then Joni (the spectacular teacher liaison for the guild) drove me to my hotel, I bugged out faster than a MASH unit, and she drove me to the airport like James Bond. I was at the airport about 45 minutes after class ended.

The whole flight home, I was wild. What if the baby is born before I get there? What if I go home and the baby is born in three weeks and I left for nothing? How mad will the knitters be? I was my dear blog, a mess.  (Photo below of the guy who sat next to me on the plane, and upon learning that I was flying home for the birth of a grandchild, showed me 837364557 pictures of his granddaughter, born just months before. He was reassuring.)

Joe picked me up from the airport at 1am, the baby not born yet, and he was so excited that when he got out of the car to put my case in the trunk, he forgot to put the car in park and had to chase it. The family text group was on fire. No baby yet, contractions continuing… Meg was going to try and rest. By 5am her contractions were at 5 minutes apart, and we all knew it was showtime. I spent the day knitting on the blanket, checking my phone to make sure the volume was on, and trying to deal with Joe, who was (still) so excited, that when he got on the phone with Air Canada to cancel his flight to Calgary that day, as he explained to the agent that his daughter was having a baby, cried from joy enough that she didn’t charge him a change fee. By late afternoon, I was crazy. I’d been texting with Alex, who kept assuring me that Meg was doing beautifully, but knowing Meg, and knowing how my labours had been, I had the feeling that she was farther along that she was letting on. I had a sneaking suspicion that her ability to cope so beautifully was making it look like her labour wasn’t intense, when really, she was about to bomb drop a baby on us. (I know this, because it’s pretty much what I did with her and her sisters. McPhee women specialize in having a grip, often to our own detriment. We are stealth. You never know when we need help.) Alex, who was doing a spectacularly wonderful job and knows this about his wife, snapped and called me and the midwife around suppertime.

I arrived, walked in the door, and Meg fell into my arms. It was very, very clear to me that there would be a baby soon, and she settled into the birth pool, and then… oh Blog. She proceeded to break my heart into a million pieces, over and over, and over again. She was graceful. She was gorgeous. She was strong and she was gentle and she was… she was perfect. Her labour with her babe was just like my labour with her, and I was carried on waves of remembrance and of pride and while on the outside, I helped her and Alex and the midwife set up. While she breathed her baby out and let it carry her, on the outside of me, I held a cool cloth to her brow and held her hand, and laid out towels and birth supplies, and on the inside, there were no words. Never, in my life has my heart walked round more outside my body, never have I felt more keenly the cord that connects me forever to a person I gave birth to.  There are no words for her strength. She was absolutely perfect. Absolutely beautiful, and absolutely something I had always hoped she would be.

At 8:17pm, her baby slid from her, and the midwife gave him a little push, forward between Meg’s legs, and he rose up, right in front of her in the water. She sat back on her knees, looked at him swimming there, and then reached down, and lifted him up to her, up out of the water, and into the world of air, and wild things, and love.

I had expected, Blog, that in that moment, I would be possessed with my grandchild. That his small self would be the star of the moment. That I would see him, and he would be my moon and my stars and the focus of all of my heart. I thought he would sweep me entirely… and he was lovely. He was perfect and tiny and early and his ears are like little shells, and his small hands are everything I have ever needed or loved or found beautiful, to be sure, but Blog… I was all eyes for my sweet Meg.

My grandson is beautiful, for sure, but he was not my star.  Friends,  have you seen the glory that is my girl?

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

He’s new here

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 13:52

Blog, please meet my grandson.

We’d like to introduce Elliot Tupper, and he was born yesterday in the evening, two weeks ahead of schedule. He is 7lbs 3oz, and just about the most perfect human being I have ever seen, with the exception of his amazing mother.  We are all beside ourselves with utter joy. I’ll tell the story his trip, but right now I have to go smell his head again.

(PS He is only an hour old in that picture can’t you tell how smart he is already.)

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Categories: Knitting Feeds

Bomb

Thu, 04/06/2017 - 15:51

I’m back in the airport after almost exactly 34 hours at home, and they weren’t totally all at home, because I had a Bike Rally Steering Committee meeting last night – and I felt pretty noble for turning up for it, let me tell you.  I arrived home at midnight Tuesday, slept, woke up, did laundry, checked in with my husband, did a bunch of work, wiped off the kitchen (I still can’t explain what happens to it while I’m gone) went to the meeting, repacked, slept, and now I’m an hour from boarding my plane to Texas and I’m such a knot of anxiety I can hardly cope. The blanket isn’t done, but I wasn’t planning to be done by now – just in case the superstition is real, just in case babies don’t arrive until after I’ve finished their blankets, I have made the decision not to finish until I’m safely home, and can be with Meg. The thought of missing my grandchild’s birth is a little heartbreaking, and so I’ll stack the deck in my favour any way I can.  I was planning to be a little farther along though – I was thinking that I’d get it wrapped up over this weekend but for the blocking and ends, and I’ve made myself a little visual aid so that I can see how it’s going, and it doesn’t feel hopeless.

See that? 54 repeats around is done, and I colour in a square when I finish a repeat. Dots and stars mark progress off in quarters. I know it’s dorky, but it’s making me either feel better (when I get a lot done) or very worried (when I don’t.) I got a lot done on the flight to the retreat, and a lot done on the way home, and almost nothing while I was there. I’ll have the flight today, and then spare time while I’m teaching at DFW Fiber Fest (not counting on a lot there) and then the flight home. That’s Monday. This wee soul just needs to wait until Monday evening, which might be a lot to ask. Technically, it would make him a smidge early, and wish Meg could have given me more than 9 months of notice so that I could have booked time off,

because look at that.  I’ll be back as soon as I can. Stay put, you two. Don’t do anything without me.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Whoosh

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 22:08

That’s the sound that the last week made. If you were anywhere near me you would have heard it, along with my desperate scribbling on to-do lists, as well as the gentle rustling of crumpled post-it notes scurrying in my wake. I had one of those weeks where every morning you get up and think “All Right. This might be possible if you just stay focussed.” and then by lunch you’re thinking “Holy cats I think I smoke” and by dinner you’ve resigned yourself to the whole plan being ON FIRE and by bedtime you’re swearing tomorrow will be better, full of hope and promise.  In the last week I have:

-Helped Hank make a garment for a fashion project he was doing to get ahead on his University credits.

Yes. I just typed that sentence. Yes, he is as tall as he looks. Yes, he is turning out to be pretty good at this sewing thing.  Yes, he made this, and he got an excellent grade.

(He even went to the fabric store by himself – and he worked in stretch fabrics and faux fur, and if you sew, you know that’s not easy. I only ripped one seam for him.)

-Worked on the baby blanket everywhere I went, and I went all over.

-Worked hard on getting some Bike Rally stuff ready for the first training ride of the year, which I missed (but will make up for later) and thanked Cameron for showing up for both of us.

–  Hosted and taught at a fantastic retreat in Port Ludlow together with Debbi and Judith.

-Discovered that they’d put a pair of flamingo statues in our hotel room, and did the only reasonable thing – which was to knit them a pair of leg warmers each, and then graft them onto their legs.

-Imagined the resort staff trying to figure out how to get them off.

-Laughed all the way home, where I’ll be for one day before heading to Texas. (While hoping impending grandson continues to stay put until I’m home (Monday) and his blanket is done. (Hopefully that’s Monday too.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

I would like a typo better

Thu, 03/23/2017 - 20:02

In my post the other day, I wrote that there would be 1600 rows in the edging, and Katie (who is surely a hopeful person, full of optimism) wrote and said “Surely that’s a typo.”  Vickiebee even said “Maybe it’s 1600 stitches?”

No, my petals, not a typo, and not stitches – though maybe not as bad as you’re thinking. I am cleverly drawing pictures here, so as not to take detailed pictures of the blankie that would give it all away to Alex and Meg. (Plus it’s really scrunched up on a circular.)  This is a pretty classic way of approaching this,  if you’re thinking of Shetland Island shawls, which, like most normal people, I always am.

First, I cast on provisionally, and I knit the centre.  (That’s a lie. First I knit a swatch, wash it, and block it. That tells me how many stitches to cast on, and how long to carry on for if I want it to be roughly square.)

When the centre is finished, I pick up stitches all the way around, and unpick the provisional cast-on, pick those up too, and now I’m equipped to work in the round. (Here, you will note, I make that sound like cake. It’s totally not – in the classic sense, this picking up business is pretty easy. The Shetland Shawls are garter base lace, and so the ratio for picking up is 1 stitch for each ridge. I threw that simplicity and ease on the fire and tossed on a litre of gasoline, by knitting the centre in stockinette based lace. To pick up all the way around I took my gauge, and did the math. The number of stitches widthwise (let’s say it’s 20 to 10cm.) divided by the number of rows per 10cm. (Let’s call that 25.) Then it’s just a matter of representing that as a fraction (stay with me, I know that’s a math word) putting stitches over rows. 20/25. Then I reduce that fraction (cast your mind back to middle school, you’ll be fine) and it’s 4/5. (See that?) That means I have to pick up 4 stitches for every 5 rows. In practice, that’s pick up 4, skip one, pick up 4, skip one…. You dig? Usually I practice this on the swatch, then do it on the blankie, marking the corners as I go.

Then I choose my stitch patterns (or invent them, in many cases) write them up as charts, centre them along the sides, and start knitting. I increase one stitch either side of the marked corner stitches ever other row – so I’m increasing by 8 stitches every other round.

This makes fetching mitred corners, and means the blankie gets bigger all the way around, every round. When it’s big enough (who really knows when that is) I choose or invent an edging (in this particular case, it’s a bit of both) and begin to apply the edging.  I cast on (provisionally, again) however many stitches are in the edge (in this case, it will be about 20) and then start working back and forth making a long skinny edging. Every time I work a right side row, I knit the last stitch of the edge together with a stitch from the body of the blanket.

That means that every two rows, one stitch gets consumed. When I’m all done, the final row of the edging is grafted to the provisional cast on of the edging, and I’m done.

So, back to the point up at the top? 1600 rows? I was wrong. I’ve currently got  898    stitches on the needle (or will, when I’m done with this little garter band) and with 2 rows to consume each one? (Plus extras to get round the corners, but let’s not quibble.)

1796 rows to go, with an average of 20 stitches in each row, that’s 35 920 stitches left to knit.

And that, my brave friends, is not a typo. I counted. May the force be with me. The edging begins in 4 and a half rounds.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

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