An extra toothbrush doesn’t solve it

I got home from Calgary last night and I’m leaving for Maine tomorrow, and I had forgotten, in the few months I had off from work travel, how much I dislike these fast turnarounds.  It always makes me wish that I had a go-bag, like they do in that tv show where they’re always flying off at a moments notice to investigate a crime because they’re they only ones who can do it. They have a private plane, too, so it’s become a well developed fantasy of mine. The call comes – and off they go. They just say “I’ll get my go-bag”, and it’s pre-packed, and they all look so good all the time.   (What show is that? I only get to watch it in hotel rooms in the states where I can’t resist the allure of US Netflix.)

I like the idea so much that I’ve done what I can. I’ve got duplicates of all my toiletries, and they stay in my suitcase so that I don’t have to rustle them up, and there’s chargers and a few other things, and truthfully I’ve thought about having a few sets of clothes in there, but I go all over and the weather’s always different and sometimes I need nice clothes and sometimes it’s jeans and one year I sort of tried it, but I stopped when a really nice knitter came up to me in the airport and said she knew it was me because she recognized that shirt from lots of pictures.

The big problem is the knitting stuff. Speaking engagements – now I could totally have a go bag for that – but if there are any workshops or classes, now we’re talking handouts and tiny balls and we have not yet begun to touch on the problem of my personal knitting.

This last trip – the one to Pudding Yarn in Calgary (I had a wonderful time there by the way, thanks for asking. It was hard work but the shop owner is awesome, and the students were really clever and kind, and the weather was gorgeous and I got to visit the Bow River. What more could I want?) I took the sweater I’d just started, and some socks that I’d been working on for just a little bit (and two balls of sock yarn and some extra sweater stuff in case I knit faster than I ever have before.)  Calgary is pretty far away, so I got some great knitting time in as I travelled…

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and I had two evenings on my own…

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Pattern: Girl on Fire  Yarn: Two Grey Dogs

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Needles: 2.25mm. Model: Sam. Worlds greatest Knitwear Model.

More than that, the Rhinebeck sweater (Little Wave) saw lots of action.

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That’s about 20cm of the whole sweater – and that’s about half of the body done. Then there’s just the sleeves, and the yoke and I have 23 days until Rhinebeck. I hate to say it, but it’s all going so well that I feel like I should put tons of yarn in my suitcase for this weekend.  I can see now that it’s the knitting that’s going to stand between me and a real go-bag – but I can’t see how it’s workable if part of your scene keeps changing and getting used up? I feel like the police in that show just don’t knit.

 

 

Charmed

Here’s how much I’ve got of Little Wave…

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A very pretty cast on and seven long rows of the whole sweater, front, back and front,  and you should have a good look, because this evening when I sit down, it’s going to the frog pond for a lovely swim, and I’d feel bad about it, but I’m actually pretty happy.

When I went to cast on last night I did something a little dumb. I made the executive decision to cast on the second size, which has a finished bust measurement of 36.5″/ 93cm. I did this despite knowing that my bust is 37″/ 94cm, and despite getting gauge, and so knowing that the sweater was going to come out smaller than my bust, while hoping for at least some ease. I did it because I didn’t have enough yarn for the next size up, because inexplicably, I only bought six skeins of that yarn, and that’s not quite enough for a sweater.  To tell you the truth, I was pretty surprised that I would make the decision to only buy six skeins, and for a day or two I’ve been trying to figure out why I’d do it.  Were there only six skeins at the shop when I bought it?  Why would I buy it if there were only six? Could I only afford six, and when the yarn budget ran out I was so besotted with the yarn that I just bought what I could so that I’d have it it anyway? Was I thinking about a huge vest? Did I think I’d ever make this yarn into something for someone else?

I looked at the pattern, and saw that I didn’t have enough to make the size that I wanted -  and decided that the difference in sizing wasn’t that big a deal, berated myself again for only buying six,  and cast on something doomed. I can’t explain what I was thinking – except that I last night I had convinced myself it would “block out”* and had decided to rely on my short arms to take less yarn in the sleeves, which is ridiculous, never works and I know it.  The short arm thing is bull too. I’m just petite, not built like a T-rex with tiny vestigial arms.

This morning though, something  amazing happened.  I woke up, stretched, put my feet on the floor, and realized not only that I did buy seven skeins, but also that I wound one of them into a ball for swatching years ago.  More than that, and even more fantastically,  I knew exactly where it was. I got up out of bed, went straight to a particular cubby, and pulled it out – big swatch still attached, and not even cast off. (Before you ask, I have no idea what I was swatching. Looks like I was trying to make a sweater front a swatch, but I have no idea what sweater.)

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So, back it goes, and I get the size I want, and the sweater will fit the way I want, and I’m starting to feel like this is charmed, which is not at all how I usually feel while pulling out a couple of hours of work, so isn’t that lovely.

* Knitting rule: If you’re hoping something will “block out”, it most likely will not. Corollary to that rule: The more important it is that the problem “blocks out” the less likely it becomes that blocking will do anything. Yeah, verily, if a project hinges on blocking to be big enough to fit, this will be the time that blocking makes your project smaller. So say we all.

Maybe this year will be easy

This morning before I went downtown to do seventy five things and ended up buying shoes and yarn (some days are perfect) I knitted a little swatch for my Rhinebeck sweater and set it out to dry. I wasn’t planning on getting gauge for any particular sweater, although I did have a short list of candidates for this years epic, I was just having a first date. A flirtation. A chance to hang out together a little bit and see if we were going to get on.  It was a pleasure, and the swatch looked like all was going to be well – and off I went.

Truth be told, when I left this morning the list of sweaters I was considering was really short. So short there was one on it.. Little Wave. I was pretty sure it was the one I wanted, but I knew the new Brooklyn Tweed collection was coming out today, so I didn’t want to commit until I saw that. You never know – and I usually love that stuff, so I left room to change my mind.  While I was out I perused the thing, and you know what, it’s lovely (I especially love the options for guy fit vs ladies fit… very neat) but there were none I loved so much as the Little Wave that was already alone on my list.

I trundled home to have a look at my swatch, see what my gauge was, and start experimenting to get gauge… except you know what?

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I have gauge. Perfectly. Both stitch, and row, and without fudging, fussing, or thinking about it. It’s like a magical unicorn with a comfy saddle just decided to live in my backyard so I don’t have to take the bus anymore.

Stitch, and row. Without trying, on the first go. Beat that.

PS. I do not have a tatoo.

Didn’t even hear a bear

We’re back, and sorry for the radio silence my pets, we arrived back home safe and sound, and I was going to post and tell you all about it, and then bright and early Monday morning, my laptop (perhaps sensing the big plans I had for it) completely bricked. (I use the term bricked here to mean that the thing did a brick imitation, with all the abilities a brick possesses.)  It’s taken several frustrating days, but I’m back up and running, and thanks to what I’ve learned from previous computer incidents, I lost nothing this time. Not so much as an email drifted off into the ether, and although some stuff I needed was trapped inside a dead laptop (I guess, since it’s okay now it was more like it fainted) I’m hooked back up again now, no harm, no foul. Just three days of trying to get things done on an ipad, and really, those things are made more for tracking a knitting chart and surfing Ravelry than they are actually doing work stuff.  Ever tried to do some real typing on an ipad? It’s about as effective as using spoons for knitting needles.  Still, I’m here now, and all that is behind us.

Attached please find several pictures of our wonderful trip, because I know you’re all just dying to see our vacation snaps.  (I have got to get someone working on that sarcasm font that I need so badly.)

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We drove up to Algonquin Park and went in through Achray access point, near Petawawa. (That won’t mean much to most of you, but Algonquin Park is huge, more than 7000 square kilometres, so saying that you “went to the park” could mean a lot of different things. It’s big enough that the west and east halves have different animals and climates. This is Canada. We have a lot of room to make parks.)

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We packed everything we needed into our canoe – and off we went.

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This is backcountry camping. That means you get around by canoe, and you bring in all that you need, including all your food and water. There are no facilities. Nada. This time of year you don’t even really see people.  We had a little stove to camp on – just one burner, and other than that, our cooking was over the fire, and you have to find and chop your own firewood.

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We have a great water filter, so we can drink lake water, so at least we don’t have to carry all that in – and we can’t run out, which is really great, and at night your food and garbage go into a bear barrel and a special cooler that doesn’t let any smells out, and you hoist the lot of it up a tree. It’s to keep the bears from finding you interesting – or finding you, really.

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We had a map, and a compass, and we travelled all around the lakes, portaging between them as we went. (Portage is a fancy word that means “carry your stuff and your canoe”.)

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It all went very well, with the exception of one extremely rainy night and day, when Joe and I asked ourselves the question that everyone in the backcountry of Algonquin asks themselves at some point, which is “Is the closest Fairmont in Ottawa, or Kingston?”  We almost paddled out that day, but at the last minute, right when we were about to abandon the whole thing, the rain stopped, and we were able to get a fire going, and after that, everything seemed possible again. The backcountry is sort of like an episode of survivor. Fire is life. (Or, at least happiness. I can do almost anything as long as I’m getting whiskey and a fire at the end of it. Almost.)

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It was lovely, and everything we own is almost clean again, including us. (I found a pine needle floating in my bath the second day we were home. I wouldn’t have been too bothered about it, except that it was my third bath. I’m hoping it was in my hair.) We’re both back to work – and it’s time to settle into the productive time that is September.

I’ll be in Calgary this weekend (at Pudding Yarn, great shop, and I think there’s a spot or two free in one of the classes yet) and I’ve chosen the yarn for my Rhinebeck sweater.

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Blackwater Abbey 2-ply worsted, in Pippin. I thought I’d chosen a pattern, but I’m waffling. Tomorrow. I’ll decide tomorrow.

It’s September. The unofficial start of the year if you’re a wool person, and I’m ready. Let’s go.

I’m sure they are accessories

The Worlds Top Knitwear Model was kicking around the house on Friday, and I asked her if she’d try on the cowl that I finished a little while ago, since it didn’t have an official picture yet. It’s the Ghazal Cowl, and it started like this:

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and I spun it into this:

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and then I knit it into this.

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That’s about how long it took, too. It was a fast knit, and worked end to end with a provisional cast on, and a graft, so perfect for handspun. I used just about every inch of the stuff.

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Then (because she still looked game, you gotta strike while the iron is hot with youth, they can turn on you in a minute) and I asked her if she wanted to model some mittens. Oh, yeah, remember the other day when I thought I was coming down with a bad case of washcloths? Turns out it was mittens. You couldn’t have surprised me more. I sat down with some cotton and straight needles, and then had a bunch of walking to do, and subbed out work on dpns so that it would be smaller (I can walk knitting on straights, but I live in the city. Dpns reduce the risk that I’ll be imprisoned at the end of the day for whatever charge is related to accidentally impaling someone. Assault? Negligence? Reckless endangerment? Fourteen inch straights seem like the fastest way to find out.) By the end of the day, this pretty pair fell off my needles.

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Yarn: Very lovely Red Barn Yarn worsted weight in what I think is “Amethyst Two” Pattern: mostly Waiting for Winter. (I may have fudged a few details. Like Gauge. Or increases. That sort of thing.)

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It is not easy to get a person to put on wool and mohair mittens in this kind of heat, I tell you, so I was pleased as punch when she was willing to give the next pair a go.

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That second pair really caught me by surprise – one minute I was thinking about another washcloth and the next thing I knew, that was there. That picture was taken on Friday, so that pair is all done now, and it’s been 48 hours since I cast on a pair of mittens. (I did get a pattern out, but I just looked at it.) You might want to back up from your screen. This mitten thing might be contagious.

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(Pattern: Waiting for Winter again, but modified for my gauge, yarn -  my handspun from 2008. Never let anyone tell you that stashes aren’t smart.)

I’m hoping to get a post up this week, but Joe and I are leaving on an adventure, and I can’t predict if I’ll have any service.  After the car camping with Jen and the girls last week, I’m up for a little “real” camping.  We’re leaving today and driving North to Algonquin Park, and there we’ll put in with a canoe, a bear barrel,  a map and compass, and paddle our way into the backcountry. Just us, my knitting, and the wilds of Canada.

I’ll say hi to a moose for you.

Randomly on a Wednesday

1. I finished a washcloth while I was thinking about what to start next. I did what I always do with washcloths, 30-ish stitches (this one is 32) with worsted weight cotton (the cheap stuff) and garter stitch borders. I whacked Bee Stitch into the centre of this one – because I think it’s nicest, but I suppose the world is your oyster if you’re not as obsessed with Bee Stitch as I am.

2. Do any of you remember way back when knitting online was all about The Knit List (this was so long ago that it was an actual listserv) and knitting washcloths was a big deal. Huge. Whole webpages devoted to it, massive lists… I swear it was an actual fad, and this was before Ravelry or Pinterest so it was seriously hard to get a good knitting fad going.  I don’t know what came over any of us, but it was a bright and noble time for the humble washcloth.

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3. These pictures make my bathroom look clean. It’s not.

4. I’m still working on that pair of socks I mentioned yesterday, but I feel like I might be coming down with another few washcloths.

5. You know, I was just looking at the patterns for a bunch of washcloths, and it would appear that most people call them dishcloths. That doesn’t seem right. I’m not washing dishes with them, and I don’t think I ever would. Do you? Would you? Doesn’t it seem like if you’re going to handknit something to rub on things, that you should rub it on animate things?

5.b That just autocorrected to “intimate things”.  No comment.

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6. I guess maybe the person washing the dishes is animate enough, but it still seems like I wouldn’t be making the most of its knitting mojo. When you use them in the bath, the thing doing the washing and the thing being washed both get to enjoy it. (Although it’s usually going to be the same person who’s using it and being washed, so I guess that’s still just one person pleased by the cloth no matter what you use it for, but I’m standing by my position. I’d rather be pleased two ways.)

7. Although now that I think about it, I suppose that an argument could be made that the act of washing dishes could be elevated by having a really nice cloth to do it with, handmade tools making everything you do a little more lovely, connecting all the work you do with your hands together in circle.

8. Screw it. I think they’re for the bath.

 

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Lunatic

You know, it occurred to me over the course of the last week, as Jen and I packed the car and left for a week of camping with two little kids, that it was a bit of a lunatic move. We were going pretty far North (Canada has lots of North to choose from, but we picked Lake Superior) and the kids are pretty little (four and almost nine), and the weather can be crazy, and we would be so far away for so long… there were a lot of ways that it could have gone wrong. Unbelievably, everything went right, or when it went wrong, Jen and I reached down into our parenting experience and figured it out.  Sure, a week long camping trip into the wilds with little kids is ambitious, but they’re Canadian kids, well acquainted with the woods and the wilds and the women going with them were (or at least we like to think of ourselves this way) strong campers, with great skills. (I mean that. You should see either one of us light a fire.) I can cook anywhere, neither one of us minds being dirty, we’ve got good gear… the wild cards were going to be the kids. Before we left, I imagined that sort of episode where someone’s socks fit funny and that ends in an episode of helpless sobbing, or the fruit gets cut wrong  – you know the one, that thing where a kid asks for sliced peaches, receives sliced peaches and then loses their mind because you should have understood that sliced is code for “don’t slice it” and there’s no going back.

Grownups can eat peaches both ways, but kids? I imagined fits in the car, breakdowns in the tent, dirt that couldn’t be managed, pillows that smelled funny and couldn’t be slept on… and Jen and I with only our camping gear to mitigate it all with. While a few of those things happened (I admit it, I am the MORON who cut a pancake into pieces that were way to small to be tolerated.) The week was perfect, and a big part of it was planning. There were activities for the kids every day, and I brought a sketchbook to be our journal, and every time things threatened to get wild, another magic thing surfaced out of Auntie Stephie’s Super Secret Fun Bag.  We had scavenger hunts, and drew pictures, and painted…

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We collected rocks, and found the best ones on every beach. We looked for the best swimming spots (holy crap Lake Superior is cold) and made giant bubbles. We hiked, and tested the muddy places in the road to see if we could get through, and we made sunprints, and cooked things on sticks, and talked about the safest way to light a fire.

 

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We read stories (all of Little House in the Big Woods in a week) and put flowers and leaves in the journal to press, and the one day it rained like there was no tomorrow, Jen and I remembered that we had good sense, a car and credit cards, and got those kids to a hotel to dry off.

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We saw a beach that was all rocks, big as your head and shaped like dinosaur eggs (Montreal River) and another one where the rocks were round and amazing (Gargantua Bay.) We swam in Old Woman Bay, we walked the sand bridge to Bathtub Island.

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We talked about peeing outside (totally permissible, under specific circumstances) and ate raspberries off the bushes. We went to Flowerpot Island, and rode a fast boat, and Jen and I tried to stay up by the fire at night, but we were terrible at it.

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We made a whole week of magic for those kids, and they were awesome.

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The lunatic part turned out to be that Jen and I both brought our laptops so we could work remotely, and so much knitting that we could have set up a yarn shop in the woods. In the span of a week, I knit a single sock. That’s it. It turns out that the only thing I had time to make was a pretty great week for two little girls.

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In the end, that’s not so bad.

 

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Away with me

Ah, Friday, where the heck did you come from? This week sped by, as I tried to get caught up, and was thwarted at a few turns. Most notably, I smashed the everloving daylights out of my phone on Wednesday evening. (A stumble in the dark, and I prevented a fall with an outstretched phone, which in retrospect was pretty stupid. I heal and have health care. My phone, not so much.) The day dissolved into a journey to the Apple Store, which turned into a wait at the Apple Store while they repaired the phone, and a period of three hours in which I had no phone, which was odder than I’d imagined. It reminded me of my mother in a power outage. She’s the smartest person I know, but outages are her kryptonite. She goes from activity to activity – “Balls, the power is out and I can’t put the TV on. Never mind, I’ll listen to the radio. Dammit, the power is out, the radio doesn’t work. I’ll do a little ironing. Son of a gun, that won’t work either. Never mind pets, let’s plug in the kettle and have tea….” You see how it goes, and that was me with no phone. I decided I’d listen to podcasts while I waited, remembered I had no phone, decided to listen to an audiobook, remembered I had no phone, decided to check my email instead…. I was the living embodiment of my mother in the dark. At one point I realized that without a phone I didn’t even have a clock, and approached a stranger. “Excuse me, do you have the time?” She was holding her phone, and looked at me like I’d just asked her if she could help me shear an alpaca, right there in the Eaton’s Centre. “The time?” She goggled, and I had to tell her that Apple was holding my phone hostage, and I don’t wear a watch because, you know. I use my phone for that. She checked her phone, told me the time, and then asked me when I was getting my phone back. Her response was a bizarre mix of incredulity and sympathy, and I could tell, as she clutched her phone a little more tightly, that she was imagining what it would be like. “Wow” she said, when I told her it would be a few more hours. “I know” I sighed. “It’s a difficult time.”

A cleverer knitter would have seen the phone thing coming, and perhaps taken a sock or  printed out a nice reliable paper pattern to take with her, but as it stood, I’d handed the PDF version of my pattern over to the Apple people, and couldn’t even knit. I did try for a while, using previous repeats as a guide, but it was slow and silly. In the end I bought a dress with birds on it, and then a book – since I’d given my current book to the Apple people in the form of my phone.  It all ended well (except that I sat in something yucky on the subway, then I stepped in gum, and a bird crapped on me and some dude with a questionable grasp on reality yelled at me on the sidewalk) and I got home, and decided to essentially end it all nicely with a glass of wine (2) and a nice long knit. That knit (now that I had my pattern/phone) back again, finished the Ghazal Cowl -

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Well, it’s almost finished, I’ve pulled out the provisional cast-on I did at the beginning, and I just have to graft the two halves together, but I yesterday must have been some sort of sacrifice to whatever force of destiny decides how my days go, because when I’d done all the repeats I could, and ended on the right row, this is how much yarn I had left.

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That there is a winning game of Yarn Chicken, and a perfect ending to a knit using handspun. When I’m done the graft I bet there will be less than 10cm of remaining, and that was worth stepping in gum for. (I am less sure about the phone.)  Tonight I’ll graft, and then block, and then I guess I have to make another decision. I’m off on Sunday with the indomitable Jen and her two girls, to whom I am an honourary Auntie, and we’re headed far, far up north for some Canadian fun and games. Tents, canoes, camping and hunting for fireflies. A Thelma and Louise roadtrip – if you add in two little kids. There should be tons of knitting time (the drive is 8 hours, for starters) and I’ll be packing along lots of wool. We are going far enough North that summer is already gasping her last there, so it will be all fires, and sweaters, and hunts for fairy houses through the woods.

Now, a few Karmic Balancing gifts, just to make sure my luck holds? You bet.

(PS. I’ve added a teaching gig in Calgary at Pudding Yarn the weekend of September 18th to the roster. There’s spots, if you’d like to join us.)

First up, Terri Major (friend of the show, lovely lady) has free patterns for three of you. Any three patterns for three knitters, your choice from her shop. Pictured is the lovely Rose Arbour Baby Blanket, and I’d get that for sure, but Krystal L, Kristin and Lee T will somehow choose.

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Next, a trio of beautiful cases from Grace at the aptly named “Grace’s Cases“.  I love her stuff, and these cases are so pretty – of the first, Grace says “This new Basic “Anything Goes” Spillproof Needle Case has just two pages and is perfect as an expansion case or a starter case.  It is Multi-purpose in that you can store a wide variety of items.  Page 1 has 7 snap pockets that can hold either fixed circulars or lots and lots of cables
Page 2 has 13 graduated slots that can hold dpns sizes 0-9, regular or interchangeable hooks up to 6″ in length, or interchangeable tips sizes 2-15. Generous notions pocket included in cover.”  Better than that, it’s bike themed.  I hope that Kelly M loves it.

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Second “The Petite Lovely Tote. A great size to use as a project bag / bucket, or perfect for shopping at your local yarn store.  We kept it simple and clean on the inside and out. No pockets, no padding, nothing to catch on things – the space is all yours!  Measures 10” tall, 10” wide, 5” deep at base – Perfect for knit night projects!!” and also bike themed! I bet Ruth D has somewhere to take it.
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Last, but certainly not least “Cupcake Bags are divided project bags specifically designed for color work or TAAT projects. The lower portion of the bag is divided into two sections to keep your cakes from tangling and the upper portion has room for project storage.  Roll the top down to form a divided yarn bowl! Or attach a carabiner or clip to the included loop to hang it anywhere. Dual drawstring top closure.” and that’s going to Sarah E.
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If you’d like your own, Grace’s shop is here.

 From The Mountain would like to donate 1 skein of worsted weight yarn in a natural colour, and several one-skein pattern options.  Their yarn is 100% cashmere and is hand spun in Afghanistan by women who are earning a fair wage for their work.  After over a decade of conflict, many women in Afghanistan have been left as heads of household, but with very few safe income opportunities.  Spinning for From the Mountain offers them a way to earn income and be home with their families at the same time.  I hope that Chris A loves it, and where it comes from.

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Amy has a pretty gift, bless her generous heart, a kit for Mrs. Beaton’s Wrist Warmers. She’ll happily mail that sweet little package off to Emily W.

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Brenda, another pretty awesome knitter, went into her stash and came up with two skeins of IndigoDragonfly merino-silk 4-ply sock in “Partying is Hafla Fun.” She’ll be mailing that off to Julie B, and I know they’ll love it.

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Jan has an adorable bag that she’ll be sending off to Muriel T.  It’s a “Tour de Forest” bag (how appropriate!) If you can’t live without one of your own, her shop is here. (I might not be able to live without one.)

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Phew! I’ve emailed all the lucky knitters concerned, and I’ll try to get another batch up tomorrow. While I decide what knitting comes camping. Maybe something brown. That’s always a good camping colour.

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Right out of a Hat

I’m not good with choices. Have we ever talked about this? A few choices are just fine, but as the field grows, so does my anxiety about choosing. It’s one of the great things about being a vegetarian in a restaurant, most of the time there’s very little choice. There might be one or two things without an animal in it, and usually the other thing has eggplant, and there you go. Choice made. (I have a fragile relationship with eggplant. Something about the difference between the firm, shiny skin and the mushy insides gives me the heebie-geebies.)

Vital, important decisions I can manage, because I am a grown-up and that’s part of the rules, but small decisions like what to have for dinner? What wine should we order with our meal? Which skirt should I wear today? May the goddess of wool preserve me, I hate it. I hate it enough that most of the time I’d rather opt out entirely. Many’s the time that I’ve let someone else order my dinner or drink for me, or asked my kids what I should wear and then put it on. “You pick” is what I say most often. The element of surprise is just fine with me, and I enjoy it more than trying to figure it out for myself. (This only works if you’re with someone who has decent taste and understands about eggplant, that Kahlua is pretty dodgy, and that I don’t like turtlenecks.)  Generally, my zeal for decisions and choices is directly related to how many of them I’ve made lately. If I’m burdened by larger life choices, small things like what sock yarn to cast on next seem impossible, and I’ll let you choose my cocktail. I’m used up, I can’t decide.

yarnready 2016-08-16

Such was the place I found myself in today. I’d finished a pair of socks over the weekend, and I’d grabbed another ball of yarn at random and cast on, just to have something in my bag, but today (after I sat at my desk all day writing which is nothing but making big choices) when the time came to pick my next proper project, I couldn’t do it. Completely stuck. Here’s a whole house full of yarn and patterns and after a few hours of research (that’s what you call hopelessly pulling skeins out of the stash, waiting for them to speak their destiny and then putting them back which they refuse to tell you) I gave up. I decided I’d go into my office and the open the yarn bin by my desk (judge not lest ye be judged) and the first yarn that I saw, that would be the yarn I used.

ghazalestart 2016-08-16

Theoretically, I like everything in my stash, so I couldn’t see any way for it to fail.  The first thing was the handspun that I finished right before The Rally.  Long, uneven stripes of colour, in silk and polworth. Fine, I thought that’s fine – it even helps a bit, actually.  Mittens are out, because they won’t match in a horrible way that will make me wild, socks can’t be undertaken for the same reason (also, it’s worsted weight-ish, and socks that don’t fit in shoes are awkward.)  A scarf would be too short (I only have about 200m) A hat wouldn’t work because it’s handspun and I’d want to use all of it up, so… that sort of left cowl, didn’t it? I put out a plea on Twitter, and then I took the first reasonable suggestion.

yarnknitting 2016-08-16

It was Ghazal.  Comes in a bunch of gauges, easy to change for however my yardage works out, has a little slip-stich thing that should look great with my yarn. I cast on (provisionally, which was fantastically ironic to me) and began. I feel good about it. I think it’s going to work – which is great, because I’m not sure I could face the trying to choose if I was going to rip it out.

Now. Will someone tell me what to make for dinner?

Exactly what you need right now

I was sitting here, fingers poised over the keyboard, wondering what I was going to say to you, and let me tell you, let’s talk about what all of Toronto is talking about. The heat. Dudes, it is so hot. It is record breaking hot, and despite being really muggy, it’s the driest summer we’ve had in 75 years. The only really significant rain was the stuff that pelted us during the rally. (Go figure.) Everything, people, plants, trees, dogs… everything is wilting, and it’s all we can talk about. This morning it was hotter in Toronto than in Mumbai – and it’s not like they’re having a cold snap. As I type this, at the end of the day with the worst behind us, it is 43 here, with the humidex. (For my American friends, that’s 109 Fahrenheit.) Today on the un-airconditioned subway (it was at least 40 degrees in there) the guy next to me softly swore under his breath, and then apologized.  “I’m just… so hot.” he said, and I nodded sympathetically. It’s so hot that it’s impossible to get anywhere looking good. Opening the door to go out is like walking into a wall of heat, and by the time you get to where you’re going, you’re soaked.

As we approach each other, to shake hands or embrace, it’s preceded by a pause, then a statement – “Sorry, I’m pretty sweaty” and then nine times out of ten the mission is aborted, or you do hug, and both of you feel bad about the outcome. Today I was walking up the hill to the house (Amanda said “Oh, Mum, what were you thinking?”) and I stopped at a red light, and stood there with the sun beating down on me, and I felt a river of sweat run from the nape of my neck all the way down my body and into my sandal, and I realized that if I stood there for a few more minutes, I’d be standing in a puddle. (Yes, I realize as I type, that the astute among you will have worked out that if sweat can make it from my neck to my toes in a straight shot, then I wasn’t wearing underclothes. Knitters, my pets. If you can give me one decent reason based on proper good sense why a woman wearing a dress shouldn’t abandon underthings in these kinds of temperatures, I’ll grudgingly put them back on, but until that time, I’ll be embracing one of the advantages of the humble skirt.)

It is so hot, that my mother, out for a walk, found herself by the lake, and overcome by all of it, walked straight in, clothes and all. She has, she said, zero regrets.

All of this makes it especially awesome that I have fixed and finished a pair of mittens.* Warm, comforting mittens, that despite their beauty, make me hotter to even look at them, and I cannot conceive the emotional state I’d be in if I tried them on.

mittensfixed 2016-08-12

mittensthumbs 2016-08-12

Unknown yarn stashed at least a decade ago, pattern loosely based on chart #68 from Latvian Mittens, 2.25mm needles, 72 stitches around.

mittenstall 2016-08-12

Into the Christmas box they go. Someone pass me a cold drink.

*Winter is coming.