Gift

Hello Petals, and greetings from the other side of yesterday’s long, dark teatime of the soul. I don’t know if it’s the rest, ice, baths, massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy, drugs, whiskey, homeopathy or donations that helped, but today I feel hopeful and optimistic, and my arse and I have resumed speaking terms. It still doesn’t feel great, but it feels better, that much is sure, and last night I slept the whole night through. It took a lot of pillows, but when I woke up I felt like maybe things are improving for sure. (I will not be getting on my bike until Sunday to be sure, and I’m going to keep doing all the things I’m doing. One of them is working.) I also had a rather fantastic snuggle with Elliot this morning, and the healing impact of his glorious cheeks cannot possibly be understated.  He is the most delicious chunk. Fat and happy, and slept the whole hour his mother was in the dentist, while I walked him up to the drugstore and back, and then, wonder of wonders,  resisted the urge to scream in the car. (This is his favourite trick. He resents the carseat and all that it is, and generally acts like he’s experiencing death by a thousand cuts all the way wherever he’s going, then brightens right up the minute he’s free of it – though a minute before you would have sworn he was starving or had mere minutes to live. It’s really not hard to tell he comes from a cycling family.)

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Also, a minor fibre miracle.  The other day, tidying a basket I keep spinning things in, one tucked way back in the cupboard, I found two bobbins of camel/silk singles.

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I pulled them out and for a minute, couldn’t even remember spinning them, but then it came back to me. They’re spindle spun, wound onto the bobbins to empty the spindle each time it filled, and I spun them at least ten years ago. Ten years! (Let us gloss over entirely what it means to my housekeeping skills that I can lose things for ten years in a tiny house.) My wheel was still right there, oiled and clean, and so I popped them onto my Kate (I refuse to call it a lazy kate. I has a sexist ring to it. Why is it always a lazy woman? Lazy Susan, Lazy Kate… how come nothing is called a Lazy Gary?) A little while later I had the most delicious tiny skein of laceweight camel/silk. Just a weensie 210m, but still, it’s delicious, and when I told Joe what I’d found and done, I realized that his conversion to Fiber-support-spouse is complete. “Wow honey” he said, “That’s like finding $50 in your winter coat pocket when you put it on in the Fall.”

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That’s it exactly.

Karmic Balancing gifts? Let’s do them until I run out of time. Tonight is our last Steering Committee meeting for the Rally, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to say that. It turns out that my dedication does know bounds, and it’s meetings. Only because I can knit at them is this all  possible.

First up, Gauge Dye Works has two beautiful skeins for Virgina Y. One skein of classic sock, one shawl. (Man, Catherine who runs that place is so clever. That’s the yarn my most recent pair of socks were knit from.)

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Tia has three skeins of Shibui Knits sock weight yarn in 50’s Kitchen (I love that, it’s the colours of my kitchen!) that she’ll be sending to Susan G.

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The lovely Suzanne Visch is donating the pattern of their choice to five lucky knitters. (Lucky is right, what gorgeous things!)  Congratulations to Nichole B, Heather K, Mary Jo M, Anisa S, Jennifer W, and Susan D.

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By the way, yesterday’s yarn went happily to the highest bidder, who asked only two things. That I not mention their name, and that the yarn not go to her, but to someone new to knitting who would adore it, and be inspired by it. I love that idea, and I know just the knitter. Thanks to everyone who bid, it was charming, flattering and made the world a better place for people who need help. You guys are amazing.

More tomorrow – It’s a desk day.  Thank you all for everything, you’re my favourite.

 

Pollyanna

I have been accused, more than a few times in my life, of being overly optimistic. You wouldn’t think that such a thing could be a negative, but it works against me from time to time, as I persist (usually in the face of terrible odds) in thinking that most things will work out just fine if I apply myself to the problem.  If something is properly doomed, this can occasionally spell heartbreak, and that’s what I’m thinking about as I sit here writing to you with an icepack on my left arse, chock full of pain meds, and pondering my week.  The Rally begins on Sunday morning,  and while I’m sure I’ll be able to ride, I’m not sure I won’t be able to do it without some suffering, and I’m reaching for my optimism a bit.

I’ve done everything I can think of for the last few weeks to try and clear this up. Apparently it’s my SI joint (didn’t even know I had one, but there you go) and I’ve had a bike fit, seen a sports medicine doctor (I know! I laughed all the way there. Me! At a sports clinic. I kept thinking they’d look at me like a sloth that had wandered into the gazelle pen at the zoo, but it turns out that when I told them how much I was riding, they wrote down that I was a “serious cyclist.” I almost had to bite myself to keep from laughing out loud.)  The doctor prescribed physiotherapy, and I’ve been doing that, and all my exercises, and I felt like maybe things were getting better, but Sundays’ ride has left me whinging and limping around – and it’s hard for even me to be optimistic under these circumstances. Today after the gym I thought about having a bit of a weep.

I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to prepare for this for months and months, and then get a small but miserable injury right at the end. The whole reason I train is to prevent suffering. This week I’ve been prescribed rest, ice, baths, sleep, massage, anti-inflammatory stuff and… no bike. We’re going for maximum healing before Sunday, when everyone agrees that the worst thing that can happen is pain. I won’t do any permanent harm, and the great thing about going to a sports medicine clinic is that nobody has suggested I don’t do my sport, which is pretty reassuring.  (I believe them too, the dude who has the appointment before mine is an Olympian. They must know what they’re doing if he’s there.) I’m going to pack, eat well, do as I’m told, reach for that optimism, and hope for the very best. I’m also going to keep my eyes on the prize, and that’s fundraising. Me on my bike doesn’t help PWA- it’s the donations that give it power, and they’re behind in the money department this year. I’ll heal, but a lot of the people that look to the agency for important help won’t have a the same chance, so – I’m going to focus on why I do this, and not let the circumstances get me down.  I want to thank you all for your support and donations over the last while. It makes a huge difference, and I’m so grateful.

Enough of that, want to see some spinning? Sure you do. It’s way more interesting than my arse.  Remember this?

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It’s that gorgeous braid of Fiber Optic Yarns merino/silk.  I sat down at the wheel with it when I had that devastatingly tiny cut on my finger, and worked at it a few hours a day.  I wanted to preserve the gradient, and I tossed around the idea of spinning it all into one long single, and then chain plying it, but I was really hoping to get decent yardage, and a laceweight.  I decided I’d split the whole braid down the middle, lengthwise, and then spin each half as it was, and ply them together afterwards.  This sometimes works, and sometimes not so much, but I was (see above) optimistic. I launched.

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When I was done, I had two bobbins full that I hoped were more of less equal, and then started to ply.

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This is where the whole thing can go sideways.  If I hadn’t split the roving equally, I’d have more of one of the other, and it wouldn’t match up as I went along. That happened a little bit, but as I plied, if it started to not match up, I’d break the single from the offending bobbin, pull out a metre or two until they matched again, and then rejoin and keep plying.  (I had to do that three times, which is pretty good, considering that I’m human. One bobbin was about 10 metres longer than the other.) When I was done, voila.

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It’s about 450 metres (492 yards) of a really lovely laceweight. Well, it’s a little heavy for laceweight, but it’s quite light for fingering, so I’m going with the former.  It’s the tiniest bit wonky, like all handspun, but I’m totally in love with it. It is soft, and strong and pretty, and it’s going to make a beautiful… something.

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I don’t know what it will be though – because I’m not going to knit it.  You can, if you want. If it calls to your heart, let me know, and let me know what it would be worth to you. The knitter who makes the best offer of a donation gets it. Email me at stephanie@yarnharlot.ca (subject line “that yarn” please) and tell me what you’d be willing to donate to my fundraising, and the highest bid gets it mailed to their house.  (I’ll choose tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got to babysit in the morning.)

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Happy Tuesday everyone. See you tomorrow, and I’m sure everything is going to be just fine.

They don’t really talk to me anymore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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But I improved.

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Sort of.

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

I think they’re afraid.

It started with a boo boo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Next, a big one! Handwork Hardware (I love these guys) are donating TEN gift packs, each pack has:
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– one of thier needle sorters, designed to provide an integrated knitting needle gauge and sorter contained within a secure storage container for multiple sets of double pointed knitting needles. (And the device that once made it possible for me to mislay ALL of my DPNs at once.)
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– one of their chatelaines, a pouch suspended from a belt loop or knitting bag handle that holds knitting accessories and other items for a knitting project.
They will be sending those out, with my thanks, to Jessie M, Nicole H, Karen K, Emily M, Lorraine M, Laura R, Mary Y, Lisa, Emily V and Mary G.
Julie’s stash is a place of wonders, let me tell you that, and Julie’s pretty alright herself. She’s got three beautiful gifts to mail out.
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Four skeins of Berroco Seduce (I love this yarn) for Lisa W.
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Beautiful silk/merino top from Hedgehog fibers for Kimberly F.
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Three skeins of gorgeous Viola MCN sport for Kathlynn K.
Here’s a fun one – I wish I had it for myself, so lovely. Ana (Air Illustration and Design)  is giving away two free six month memberships to her embroidery club. (No- you don’t need to know how to embroider, the instructions are really good.)
 embroideryclub2 2017-07-18 embroideryclub1 2017-07-18
She’ll be working with Liz B and Sage G to get that set up, I hope they’re as enchanted as I am. (PS, take a look at Ana’s instagram while you’re poking around. I follow her, and it’s really nice.)
Naomi’s got two pretty things,290g natural and 242g heather gray pencil roving that she’ll be sending off to Susan C.

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

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And I might have another nap too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whoops.  Stay warm, Emmett.  Welcome.

 

Turnabout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Long Distance Knitting Ninja

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

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

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

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

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

I gave him sock yarn, and 2.25mm DPNs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oh, Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully they’ll learn to love the winters…

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

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

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Still in the kitchen

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

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**

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

 

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

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

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

 

Millie BadCat

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

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

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

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