Maybe Not

I swear, on every scrap of yarn in this house, that I thought the baby sweater I’m working on would be finished today.  I really did. It was sheer delusion. I see that now.  I thought that I was going to knit the heck out of it yesterday.  I thought that the whole time that I was running errands and knitting on something else.

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I thought that when I accepted an invitation to dinner (though we did knit at dinner – the upside of teaching so many of my friends to knit is that they now figure it into the schedule) and I thought that even as I went to bed without it anywhere near finished.  I thought that when I had to work at my desk this morning instead of knitting. I thought that this afternoon, as I worked on my class prep for Madrona instead of knitting.  I thought that as I did Bike Rally work, I thought that as I cleaned the bathroom. I thought that as I sat down to write this to you.  The only time the reality of the situation hit me, was as I sauntered over to take a picture of what was in my head “an almost finished sweater.”

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That sweater’s nowhere near finished. The body is barely started, the sleeves?  There’s no sleeves. There’s just a yoke, and a few pathetic rows of the body, and in my head, it was “almost finished.” Now, it gets better, because as the reality of the situation washed over me, as the delusion I’d created cleared like a mist, I didn’t think “Oh man – that’s not going to be finished today. You’re a lunatic.” I thought “Oh man. I’m really going to have to hustle (after I make dinner, serve dinner, do laundry, and finish at least two hours of desk work that should really be nine hours of desk work if I could stand it) to finish this by tonight.”

I might need to revise my plan a bit.


What is the past tense of Fleeting?

Whatever knit-a-palooza I was off on has clearly ground to a halt.  Maybe I shouldn’t have blogged about it or been happy about it, but all the knitting in this house looks almost exactly the same as it did yesterday.

(Imagine a picture here. Actually, just scroll down and look at yesterdays again. It’s really about the same.)

I completed two rows of the new baby sweater when I got in last night, and managed maybe… eight rounds of a sock while I was out, because I was skating. While I feel pretty confident about walking and knitting, I don’t like the possible consequences of a (fairly likely) fall while skating, and the attendant possibilities for impalement with fine metal sock needles. If they were nice blunt plastic ones, then maybe you’d only have to worry about… actually. Never mind. Let’s just agree that knitting and skating probably don’t go together. Mostly.

Today I’m at my desk, and helping the World’s Top Knitwear Model move home. That’s right, the nest, she is empty no more, Sam’s back, and I couldn’t be happier about the chance to mother her just about to death.  I had always suspected that I was the sort of mum who would love having an empty nest, and looked forward to how it would be when they were grown, and we were all in another phase. Then the ladies all did grow up, and they all left, and it was just me and Joe and the cat,  and you know what?

I was right. It was freakin’ awesome.

It’s cool that Sam’s back though, Joe and I are both delighted to have her here. I’m planning on theme breakfasts, and smoothies, and movie nights, and Sam’s got a great sense of humour and can be very helpful around the house, and she is our baby, after all.

Welcome home, my little butterfly. (Don’t get too comfortable. Mummy was sort of planning to put a loom in your room.)


Everything has an upside

I was just sitting here (coughing) and reflecting on my weekend, which I spent mostly coughing.  I’m at that annoying phase of getting over chest things that involves feeling mostly better, but still coughing in a way that makes everyone around you flinch. My energy is back, I’m feeling like I can take on the world again – but that cough says “sit down Sister, you’re not as awesome as you think.” So, I sat down.  Except for a jaunt out on Friday night, and a few long walks to break up the monotony, I’ve been sitting, and for me, sitting means knitting.  (Usually walking means knitting too, but it’s too cold outside to have my mittens off. Stupid winter.) So, a few pictures of what all that knitting got accomplished.

I finished the big green Siren Song, and I knew blocking it was going to be dramatic, so I took a few “before” pictures to amuse myself.

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I loved how it looked pre-block. Sculptural, loads of texture… I was almost reluctant to block it.  It had a nice bath, then I ran blocking wires through the top edge, and pinned out the bottom.  The yarn’s a merino laceweight – I’d link to it, but there’s nowhere on-line to get it. It’s Judith MacKenzie’s hand dyed stuff, and I’ve only ever seen it places where she’s teaching. I scooped it at the last Port Ludlow Retreat Marketplace. The thing about merino is that it has tons of crimp, so it’s super stretchy and bouncy.  That means you can block the daylights out of it, it will go and go… but once it’s unpinned and a bit of humidity gets to it, it’s going to bounce back. It won’t hold the block very well, so there’s no point in trying. Better to let it have its way – yarn from sheep with super curly hair is like having curly hair. You can try to straighten it out if you want to, but it won’t last.

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The transformation was pretty glorious anyway. You’d hardly believe it was the same piece.

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When that bad boy was done – I finished the leg/foot of a sock, and whacked an afterthought heel into it.  When the time came to do the heel originally, I didn’t have the contrast yarn with me, so I just kept on going. When I was all done, I pulled out a row of the knitting, picked up the exposed live stitches,

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and boom. (I know you’ll all ask – the yarn is MustStash perfect sock, and the colourway is Martian Rainbow.)

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When the heel was done, I even did something incredibly clever. I made notes about how I’d done it, wrote them on a post-it, and tucked it inside the finished sock.  I always think I’m going to remember how I did things, and I never do.

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I end up spending tons of time reading my knitting and trying to figure out what I did – but not this time.  This time, I actually did what I tell people to do all the time. Then I started the second sock, knit the toe so I was past the tricky bit and it could just be a simple thing that travels in my purse for the next while, and…

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Started a baby jacket and knit most of the yoke.

Lots of knitting! A mountain of knitting. Started things, finished things, organized things!   it almost made this stupid cough worth it. (Cough. Not really. I’m just trying to be positive.  Cough)

Well. That was lucky

Last night I was knitting merrily along on Siren Song, and I was thinking about what I’d write today about it.  I was having the hardest time thinking of anything even remotely interesting.  Projects like this aren’t exactly scintillating Blog Fodder. What am I supposed to say about it? Big knitting. Still green. Going well. Still at it. There’s nothing to say about the thing, and I’m thinking about that, and watching a movie and all of a sudden, I feel something funny in my hands. The rhythm of the knitting has gotten a little wonky. I look down, and sure enough, there’s a mistake and it’s a pretty big one. The first thing I think is “crap, I’ll have to fix that, it’s super noticeable” and the second thing I think is “Oh! Now I have something to blog.”  I went to bed then (because mistakes in lace are a good way to tell it’s bedtime) and this morning I set about fixing it.

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As obvious as I think the mistake is, I bet that it’s not really jumping out at you.  It’s in the middle of the shot, starting about 15 stitches from the right. Things get weird for about 30 stitches, and then sort themselves out again.  I poke around for a few minutes, diagnosing what’s happened, and I work out that three rows ago, I made a tiny but important mistake. The pattern’s a repeat of four stitches at this point, and apparently I failed to count that high correctly.  (Crushing, but true.) Somehow I didn’t notice, and there’s three long rows piled on top of the error. The rows, I’m sure I have mentioned, are really long – more than 350 stitches per row, and the mistake is just about three rows back. There’s no way I’m tinking back more than a thousand stitches. It’s just not going to happen.  Here’s what I do instead.

I knit over to the place where the incorrect section starts, and then – using a spare circular, I slip all of the stitches involved in the mistake onto the new needle.  Correct stitches stay on the original needle.  See what I mean?

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Then, working end to end on the new needle, I tink just those stitches -the ones involved in the mistake.  The good stitches wait on the original needle.

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When I’m done, I’ve got a big loop of yarn free…

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and because this is fine yarn and I’ll be pulling multiple rows out, I take a second to label that strand of yarn with its row number.  This one is/was row #4 on the chart, so I write that on it. The stitches on the needle are still wrong, so I tink another row out.

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I label that too. Things are still not right, so back I go, one more row.  When I’ve got three rows pulled back, I go get the chart, and figure out where I am. I’ve pulled out what was a row four, and a three, and a two… so I need to knit across these stitches with row two of the chart.  I know where I am in the repeat by checking the stitches still on the old needle above, so I just pick up the strand of yarn labeled “two” and knit row two of the chart, using the loop as my yarn source.

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It’s a little bit awkward, and it gets a tiny bit tricky as the loop gets shorter and shorter, but it beats the snot out of tinking back a thousand stitches, so I’m cool. When I’m done, I pull the circular through to the right, go back to the beginning of that section of stitches, and knit across row three of the chart with the yarn labelled “three”.

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At the end, I repeat it with the yarn for row four, and bingo. Everything is fixed and tidy, and correct, and it only took about 15 minutes, and wasn’t scary at all, and is so much better than going back three rows would have been.

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Ta dah! You’d never know it had surgery, and I got a not-too-shabby post out of it while I was at it.


Get thee behind me

I took a picture of Siren Song today, and I had the post all planned out. I was going to tell you how I feel about the fact that no matter how much I knit on this thing, nothing changes. That the ball of yarn is getting smaller, time is passing, but that the knitting isn’t any further along. I was totally going to say that I was in the black hole of knitting. Then I looked at the picture.

sirensong3 2016-01-28

It’s bigger! It’s most definitely bigger, and you know what? I’m on the last section of the three charts, and even though it was feeling a little hopeless, I think I’m actually almost done. I looked at that picture and realized that it’s possible that I might even knit something else some day. I started to get excited about that idea. I thought about maybe a sweater, a cowl.. oh, there’s a few little baby things that need making and I could totally bang out a pair of socks on the subway and I was halfway into the stash, pulling things of of shelves, looking at books, contemplating Ravelry… and then I stopped. Stopped dead with a sweet little ball of merino in my hand, and I put it back on the shelf.

Those feelings, I know what they are. They are the unclean sprout of knitterly infidelity poking a tendril of temptation in front of me, and I  know what I have to do. I squashed them. No way. No way am I knitting anything else until this thing is done.

No way.


(PS. I found the kitchen. It was sort of buried, but still there.)

Randomly on a Wednesday

1. Thank you, thank you, for your lovely response to our blogiversary. We’ve been together such a long time now, but Blog, you made the day chock full of magic. I loved the idea of charities being inundated with $12 donations. Count on you lot to always figure out the right thing. Thank you.

2. I thought things weren’t so bad over here, but I was wrong. When I got sick during the week I was supposed to use to catch up from being on holidays something went really, really sideways over here.  There’s not a single room I can go into that doesn’t make me flinch with undone work. This place is a mess. My inbox is a mess. My desk is a mess.

3. You know that thing where someone tells you their place is a mess- maybe you’re knocking on the door, and they say “Ok do come in, but I apologize, the place is a disaster” and then you walk in, and immediately realize that the two of you don’t share a meaning for the word “disaster”? Like, you wish your place was as tidy as their disaster? This is not what I’m talking about here. This place is trashed. I’m at the pretend-not-to-be-home-when-the-doorbell-rings phase.

4. All attempts to get my life and the place I live in back under control have resulted in either knitting or naps. My to-do list now spans three large post-it pads, and I’ve started writing things on it like “get control of life” or “fix everything”.

5. This is as effective as you imagine.

6. I’m still plugging along on Siren Song – I’m just over halfway done, which surprises me because I feel like I’m knitting on it a lot, and being super faithful to it. It’s a lot of knitting though – long rows, and the only way I can actually tell that I’m making progress is that I’m onto the second ball of yarn.

7. I didn’t take a picture because it looks exactly. the. same.


This morning I got up, grabbed a coffee, and sat myself down at my desk to write this post. Well, it wasn’t this post, I was going to write a different one, but I took a minute to check my inbox before I started, and I had blog mail.

Have I mentioned blog mail? It’s an umbrella term that we use around here for any emails that are about the blog, for the blog or from the blog. A fair bit of it comes every day, and there’s several different kinds. Some I like, some I love, some annoys me, and some is so bad I delete it right away and go for a walk.  Here, paraphrased dramatically, are the usual blog emails I get.

1. Dear Stephanie, I am a freelance writer who’s having trouble getting started, can I write a guest post on your blog to help me get things going? I have no audience, so it would be super awesome if I could borrow yours.

(This is both sweet and ballsy, but it can’t happen. There’s too many of you.)

2. Dear Blogger, we’re a company that provides advertising to amazing bloggers exactly like you, and after looking carefully at your blog we can tell that we are exactly the right company to provide ads for you.

(If you looked at my blog for four seconds, you’d see I have no ads. Have a great day.)

3. Dear Stefanie, I make a great product, and I would like to pay you to feature it on your blog.

(I don’t really “feature” products on my blog, I just sort of… use stuff I like? If you want to try with another blogger you should spell their name right though.)

4. Dear Stephanie, I didn’t want to say this in the comments, but what you’re knitting right now is stupid, ugly, unflattering and you have absolutely no taste.

(Thanks for sharing?)

5. Dear Stephanie, I didn’t want to say this in the comments, but you’ve gained some weight and it doesn’t look good on you/ you would look so much better if you wore a little makeup / I saw your armpit hair in a photo and even though I live a thousand kilometres from you it really upset me / Keep colouring your hair the grey makes you look old/ Please take care of yourself.

(I don’t answer those.)

6. Dear Stephanie, I just finished reading the blog from the beginning to now, and I’d like to thank you for the trip. It was great.

(It was my pleasure.)

7. Dear Stephanie, something you wrote meant something to me, and what I have to say about it is too intimate for the comments.

(You are the whole reason I write.)

8. Dear Stephanie, I have been reading your blog for a while and I really enjoy it. You should write a book! 

(I have never, ever figured out how to answer that one.)

That’s pretty much what blog mail looks like. 6, 7 and 8 are the ones I like best out of all of them, or the were untll this morning, when I got a new favourite kind to put on my list. It was the first thing I read this morning, and it blew me away.  Dramatically paraphrased, it said:

Dear Stephanie,

This morning I made a donation to your Bike Rally fundraising as a way of saying thank you. I know today is your blogiversary, and I’ve been reading your blog for all twelve of those years, and I wanted to find a way to show you that I’m grateful for the time and energy you put into the blog. I don’t have a lot of money, but I did manage $12. That’s one dollar for every year, and I wish it could be more, but it’s at least symbolic, and I think you’d like that.  Love,

The Blog.

I was gobsmacked. I did know today was my blogiversary. That’s what I was going to write about, of course. Like in years gone by, I was going to try once again to explain the magic and transforming effect The Blog (that’s you) has had on my life, and once again I wasn’t going to be able to say anything more than that it’s been an amazing ride, and I love you all. Then I read that, and I wiped any ideas I had from my head, and knew I wanted to say this: Thank you, not for the effect that you have had on my life, but for the effect you have had on the lives of others.

I am a lucky person. I have an education and a great family and I was born in a safe and prosperous place, and have a great deal of good fortune on my side. Without you, my life wouldn’t be anywhere near as amazing as it is, but I wouldn’t be sick, or dead, or hungry.

That isn’t true for the people who use the charities we’ve supported over the years. That $12? That’s just changed someone’s life, maybe saved it. Because all of you have chosen to be The Blog, the world is a better place, with more safe and healthy people in it. Because you have chosen to be The Blog, there are charities who talk about how to thank you, how to show you their gratitude.

I am proud of a lot of things over the last twelve years of blogging. I am proud of the community I’ve tried to build, I’m proud of the attitudes I’ve tried to promote, I’m proud of the body of work that I’ve produced, and I’m really proud that I’ve been doing it for twelve years. Mostly though, I’m proud of you.

Thank you for the last twelve years, and to the person who sent twelve dollars to PWA this morning? Thanks for everything.

B is for better

And Boring. Boring, boring, boring.  This week has had few charms, my pets, and worst of it is the horrible monotony of being sick. I do feel better today (much, actually) and tomorrow there’s things I have to do, but in the interest of being as well as possible for that, I decided to take another indeterminately long day of rest.

That’s another day of tea. Another day of audiobooks. Another day of this insanely boring green thing that I swear I am about to bite into a thousand bits and swallow.

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See that? See how it looks completely the same? I’m onto a whole other chart, my friends, and you cannot stinking tell. It looks just the same. Another row of 300+ tiny little stitches that just sit there smugly getting no bigger, while the ball of yarn gets no smaller, and I am just about ready to snap.  Now, to be clear, this is not the fault of the pattern (which I suppose I still love) or the yarn (which I can’t really tell about right now) and more to do with what was a grievous error on my part. You cannot mix a boring work in progress (no matter how lovely the result will be) with days of tedium and monotony.  I started this shawl on the way to Costa Rica. I knit it by volcanoes (!) by rivers (!) while nice people brought me champagne by a pool (!) It was brilliant then, didn’t seem at all boring, but now? Now, on day four on the chesterfield, this is just…

Look. I don’t want to use foul language here. It’s unbecoming a knitter, but I did want to explain why there’s every possibility that when you come back here again – that shawl may no longer be with us.

The ginger didn’t really help

Well, I should have known. There were a bunch of little signs, like that on Monday I couldn’t get warm, no matter how hard I tried, or that in the morning I didn’t want coffee, and that in the evening I turned down a glass of wine. That night when I went to bed I had a fever and a bit of a cough, and on Tuesday morning when I woke up, I had a whole bunch of a cough. That evening it was all I could do to play “let’s pretend to be sleeping” games with Lou, and by the time I got home after dinner, the whole scene couldn’t be denied any longer. I was sick. Hugely, magnificently sick, and I did what I usually do, which is tuck up into bed with a bit of knitting (more for holding, than for knitting) and tried to sleep, and drank four thousand cups of tea, took some herbal stuff that usually feels great,  and hoped for the best.

I held on like that until this morning, when after yet another sleepless night, and ribs sore from coughing and a fever and chills still raging, I did something that I almost never, ever do.  I went to the doctor. She walked in, saw me there and said “Well, I never see you!” and I did something I’m really not too proud of. First, I cried (that’s the lack of sleep talking, I’m sure of it, I’m normally a lot stronger) and then (through hacks, wheezing and tears) I said “Listen, there comes a time when even a hippy has to say F- you, slippery elm bark tea” and asked for help.

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(That’s what I’m knitting, by the way. It’s the Siren Song wrap – though I’m doing it out of laceweight, so it won’t be as big as all that, and it’s going reasonably well, considering that the last few days I’ve had problems with counting.)

Help she did. I’m home again, with a few modern drugs that have already helped a whole lot. I can (mostly) breath again, I’m just about to lie down for a nap and think I might actually sleep, rather than just lying there on a raft of self-pity that was sinking fast. I’m having (another) cup of slippery elm tea, because – well, I’m still me… and a bit of a knit. More tomorrow when I’m assuming the modern medicine I so frequently mock will have healed me entirely.

One Down

It’s cozy here today, a day for the computer and catching up.  I was out yesterday for a bike rally function, came home late, and it was -20 out,  and I’ve spent most of today drinking tea, snuggling under a blanket on the couch, and trying to get warm while doing laundry with the power of my mind.  (No luck yet, will keep you posted.)  Though winter was late arriving in Toronto, it’s here for sure now, settling into real cold and flurries, and an inside day was just perfect.  It is a very good day to think about wool. I’ve got a laceweight shawl on the needles, and all day I’ve been looking at it and thinking it’s not right. Not defence enough for what’s out there, and I’m thinking that (even though I have a date to finish it in mind) that I should have big wool on the needles. Something bulky and fierce to knit along with my hot tea. I’ll make up my mind a little later when I sit down to knit, but for now, wanna see a hat?

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It’s the Peacock Tam, available as a kit from Mrs Knitter, though I’m pretty sure I bought it at a shop somewhere in my travels. The kit was the perfect thing for a project like this, one that takes only a little bit of lots of colours of yarn – a lot cheaper than buying full skeins of the Jaggerspun Maine Line 2/8 that it calls for.  I had a lot leftover after knitting it too – maybe even enough to knit another, though it feels a bit risky to try.

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I knit it while we were on holiday, mostly when I was sitting still, rather than bumping along on crazy roads while trying to juggle a chart and multiple wee balls of yarn. It was the perfect project to have with me – the blue was like the ocean, the green like the trees – it’s a silly thing to enjoy matching a project to your surroundings, but it amused me to no end.

I finished it up when I got home (those ends! I felt like I was weaving ends in forever) and blocked it over a dinner plate, plunked down near a heating vent in the living room. (It is a constant source of joy to me that Joe no longer inquires about scenes like that. A plate with a hat on it in the living room, and he doesn’t say a word.)  I’m really happy with it, and the best part, is that it’s January 18th, and I’ve just finished the first Christmas present for this year. Shazam.  One down, so many to go, but at least it’s a proper start. I told you, this year is going to be different.