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Mon, 11/23/2020 - 22:37

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Knitting Feeds

That goes double for you

Sat, 10/03/2020 - 20:47

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I’ll forgive myself for that too.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

I did tidy a closet

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 19:32

There is a lot I don’t understand about this pandemic, but what is wrong with how time passes right now is clear up at the top of my list. I have no idea how so much time can be whipping by me when the days seem so long, or how I can be at home so much and still not get anything done.  Admittedly, I’ve been working very hard on the Patreon and on a few other work things – and that takes up loads of time. I’m determined to make the Patreon a ridiculously good value, and so far I think I’m succeeding. It’s still a little harder than it should be, meaning that because I’m learning everything takes ten times longer than I hope it will once I’m a pro. (This week, due to an error that was incredibly instructive, I managed to lose an entire video during editing and had to start over. It takes real time and commitment to make that kind of high quality error.) It’s a lot of time at my desk, but I’m so grateful to be able to keep the wolves from the door that I’m cool with it, and I’m sure I’ll get better.

I’ve been a very busy grandmother – Elliot is here a lot, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what a busy three year old does to your available time.  When he is we spend our time doing very important things like visiting our ducks (they do not know that they are our ducks)

and wandering through the “deep deep woods” or digging holes at the beach – and this marks the second week that Elliot has been confident enough to leap from the back of the anchored boat to swim in Lake Ontario. It’s already starting to cool off here and I know things will really change when the winter comes, so who am I to deny him (or me) any of the moments of summer? It’s such a brief time that I am trying to cheerfully abandon anything at all if anyone wants to go outside.

Still, there is no explanation for why I haven’t found my way here more often, though I think of you every day, and then… well. Something happens to my day, though I can’t quite say what it is.  (Secretly, I blame Joe. There is something about a big guy in his underpants hanging out in the house this much that just cramps the hell out of my style, as much as I love him.) I am perpetually staring at the clock in disbelief (it just happened again now. Four? It’s almost four? I swear it was 10am when I went for a ride, and then all I did was make lunch for me and Joe and… four?)

I’ll write again soon (I mean that) but today my laptop is going in for repair. (Finally getting the keyboard fixed, hallelujah – we found someone who can do it without us having to go into a shop, so it’s perfect, except for the part where I have to part with it for a few days.) Meanwhile, I’m just here to show you some socks.  I meant it when I said that the lack of travel has really screwed up my sock production… but a concerted effort on my part has meant that three pairs (actually five but I am waiting to show you two others) have come off the needles in the last bit. First, I finished the Regia Pairfect Rainbow pair –

Off they go into the (currently sparsely populated) long-range-planning-box. (Pattern is the plain vanilla top down sock that I taught on the Patreon.) It is worth noting that I did a spiral toe on these, but they spiral in opposite directions, because I can’t imagine anyone could easily walk straight if their toes were unbalanced.

Another pair- I put these in the long range planning box too, but who am I kidding. They are for me.

Yarn is Ancient Arts “Lichen in my Crevices” I am so fetched with this colourway and yarn combo that I have three more skeins of this one in my stash, all purchased separately. Helpless to resist that one, it turns out.  That same pattern that lives in my head again – with an eye of partridge heel this time.

Finally, a pair for Cameron. That one is (again, my basic pattern) and the yarn’s Must Stash in Vespa.

I am glad that Cam is a knitter so he knows exactly how much work his big feet are and can extrapolate exactly how much I love him.

I know that non-knitters sometimes think it’s funny that I like knitting for other knitters so much. They often think that knitters won’t appreciate them as much because they could just make a pair of socks themselves, but it’s never how it goes.  I give a non-knitter socks and (unless they’ve been to school on the topic) they usually say something like “oh wow, thanks so much, these are beautiful hand knit socks”.  This is adequate, of course, and the best they can do- considering that for all intents and purposes they’re pretty sure they’re holding beautiful hand knit socks.

A knitter though? When I give them a pair of beautiful hand knit socks? They usually say something like “these are beautiful” but then they look at you in a way that says what they’re really thinking, which is “thank you for thinking that I am worth this much of your time it makes me feel loved” which is really what we’re trying to say with knitting, isn’t it?

Back soon – you know. When the laptop is fixed and I’ve seen to the ducks. I have a mini-rally to tell you about.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Make your own fun

Sat, 08/08/2020 - 03:08

When I was a kid my mum used to do this thing called Find Your Own Food Fridays. From the time that we were old enough to scrounge leftovers or make a peanut butter sandwich, on Fridays – we were completely on our own.  This was coupled with other parenting gems like pointing out that there were four of us and only one of her, and so it was our job to know where she was, not the other way around. When I became a mum that one started to make a lot of sense, and I also I kept Find Your Own Food Fridays, but one upped my mum by inventing Make Your Own Fun Mondays, in which I didn’t come up with any activities or plans for the girls, and they had to come up with their own fun that didn’t require parental support of any kind.  You want a drive? Sorry kiddo, it’s Monday. Want me to make playdough? I’m happy to direct you to the recipe.  Find your dollie? Set up a fort? Read my lips. MONDAY. My mum loved it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that over the last few weeks, as the time when we would normally be leaving for the Bike Rally loomed, and Team Knit prepared to have a proper pout about it.  One that was rather serious in nature, because we’re not just bummed that we don’t get to have a Rally, we’re really rather more upset that The Rally (not really being a Rally this year) hasn’t been able to fund the agency the way that they usually do – which makes total sense but is still upsetting. It’s been very difficult to get a sense of momentum for an event that can’t happen, and it’s sad  that things can’t happen and…. Stupid virus. Here we are trying to deal with the fallout of the last great pandemic (that would be HIV/AIDS) and the current pandemic is preventing that.

More than that – as someone who’s been on the inside for the last several years, I know how this is working.  The Bike Rally (thanks to awesome people like you) has been very successful the last few years, and that means that there is cash around, and that’s enabled PWA to do some amazing things during this crisis – like that they’re the only ASO (Aids Service Organization) who’s been able to stay open to provide food hampers and financial supports to clients (many of whom are women, mothers, and newcomers to Canada.) To be clear, that money is going to run out – the crisis is not over, and the Rally isn’t raising as much this year as last. Increasingly PWA is going to be asked to do more with less, and that’s hard to see coming.

Team Knit has been trying to figure out how to fix it – or what we can do, or how it is even remotely possible to make some lemonade here, but absolutely everything has proved impossible, and Ken put it best a few weeks ago after a meeting when he said “I feel like all we do is talk about what we can’t do.” That stuck with us. What could we do? What if we flipped it, and asked not what’s restricted or impossible or hopeless…but what’s possible?

We asked ourselves what was possible- what challenges we had and what we could do about them, and what could we do to drive donations and give PWA the biggest rescue we could. We can’t go to Montreal, there aren’t really places to stay on the way and without the rustlers we can’t really move our stuff, and even if we could figure that out the camping was a problem, and without food crew we can’t feed ourselves – and restaurants are still out. (Some are open, but Team Knit is sadly not in a bubble together – so we must remain 2m from each other at all times and that means we can’t sit at a restaurant table together – if we were going to, which we are not.)  There still aren’t any bathrooms open to the public really, and as the only member of Team Knit who can’t pee standing up (or at least really shouldn’t) that’s a strain too. Also, Covid-19 ate Pato’s vacation days so he can only go away for a weekend, and me and Ken and Cam have work too and… well, we got creative. We problem solved. We put on our cheerfulpants and asked ourselves what we could do, and now … we have a plan.

Gentle knitters, Team Knit leaves in the morning for a mighty and triumphant MINI RALLY.

Today we called it “packing day” and I drove around and collected everyone’s stuff, and drove it out to our overnight location. That’s Sam’s house – she lives about 80km away.  While I share a bubble with Sam and her husband Mike (and Mike’s awesome mum Marilyn) the rest of Team Knit does not – so while Sam and Mike have graciously agreed to let Team Knit use the bathroom there – we’ve got tents to put up in their backyard.  (Four – one each.) I solved the lunch problem creatively, you’ll see how tomorrow – I don’t want to spoil it for the rest of Team Knit, and we’ll be able to BBQ once we’re there, and we’ll ride home the next day.

It’s imperfect. Like everything during this lockdown and pandemic, it isn’t what we want. (For starters, even though it’s only 80km (50 miles) away – it is uphill the whole way.) It’s not the Rally, it’s not easy, and there have been moments during the planning that we’ve wondered how much fun it’s going to be, but that’s never been the point anyway.  What’s been the point is all of us pulling together for one goal, for celebrating friendship and taking care of people, and trying to be the change we want to see in the world, and putting our time and efforts where our mouths are.

So, we’re leaving.  I’ll try to post to instagram as we go along over the next two days, and show you what we managed to make work. We’re all turning on the “dings” on our phones, and considering the temperatures tomorrow (scorching) and the distance (far) and the grade (uphill the whole way, into the goddamn wind) and the fact that there haven’t been any training rides this year and we’ve all been on our own… we’d love it if you used it. I will let you know, but anticipate needing a serious boost at around 11am.)

There will only be four of us, instead of a few hundred, and we have to stay 2 metres away from each other the whole time – but we’ll be together. Sort of. Mostly. Making a big push for PWA, and trying to inspire you to inspire us so we can help them, and trying to make our own fun – or fundraiser, as the case may be. It’s not perfect, and it’s not the Rally, but it’s the best we can do. It’s what we can have.

Team Knit remains:

Me

Ken

Cameron

Pato

We love you. (And we all packed our knitting.)

(PS I have been knitting a lot of socks I will show you soon.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds