A sporty harlot

Last night our local Harlot wandered down to the Air Canada Centre with her mate and 16 000 other people and knit her way through a game of Canada’s National Sport…Lacrosse. (Toronto vs Philadelphia…we won)
Your local harlot is not sporty. The only sport that she does is knitting, she plays by her own rules and takes her own risks. All attempts by this harlot to play sports have ended in disaster. She cannot catch a ball (no baseball) cannot skate quickly, backwards or with enthusiasm (no hockey) and thinks football is silly (which pretty much puts football right out too). Last night we learned that lacrosse is also not going to be her forte, since she cannot be beaten to death by men with sticks.
torontorock
Lacrosse precedes hockey, and if you have an idea of how hockey works you are going to be ok with lacrosse. They run instead of skate, and don’t touch the ball with their hands, but instead use a stick with a net on the end to shoot and catch. The main difference is that lacrosse is so violent that it makes an NHL game look like preschool. If a guy has the ball, then it is absolutely ok, even expected (and certainly not against the rules) for all the other guys to bear down on him with their sticks and try to beat him with them until he gives it up. This is not a penalty unless they beat him in the head, or unless the ref feels that somewhere along the line they stopped trying to retrieve the ball and instead were just whupping him for fun.
I knit at the game and used my sharpest blood red DPNs to keep up team spirit.
purlplesock
After the game I taught our waitress how to knit and Joe asked me if now we were going to be yarn missionaries, spreading the word of yarn and converting the un-crafty. Start knocking on doors wearing suits with handknit scarves….skeins of yarn spilling out of my pockets. I’ve got two things to say to him (it took me a while to come up with a clever enough reply) 1. She asked me how to knit, it’s not like I’m accosting people. I just responded to a genuine question about knitting. The woman was called to the fiber arts…you think I should ignore that? and 2. Shut up.

Hair of the dog

Today, bleary eyed and exhausted, my very nice morning looks like this.
knitlit
I’d like your support in pretending that this actually is my morning, instead of about 15 minutes of it before I have to work. I stayed up really late last night reading Knitlit too. I love it. Yesterday I went to the bookstore to get it, and took my enthusiastic mother-in-law Carol with me. I handed her Knitlit, and showed her my story in it, and she lost her mind. Right there in the bookstore. She just about forced the sales clerk to read it. I’m getting used to seeing my name here and there, but as my cheerleader Carol said “THIS IS A REAL BOOK! (Sort of brings down the importance of magazine articles and grant writing doesn’t it?) She honestly couldn’t have been more impressed, and for about 5 minutes she made me feel like I’d won the Booker Prize. I’d encourage the publisher to watch sales of Knitlit Too on Canada’s east coast, because I think she’s gonna make everyone she ever met buy it. Which is a good thing because it’s really, really a good read. (and I’d say that even if I wasn’t in it…really) My favourite so far is “The Sweater” by “Charmian Christie.
Under Knitlit, is the latest IK. My bookstore doesn’t reliably have knitting magazines. You have to stalk the place, leaping on copies when you see them. I have no idea why I don’t just get a subscription, I think it’s the thrill of the hunt. (That or I just like to do things the hard way….) So far this season, mighty huntress that I am, I have only bagged IK.
I want to make “Gypsy Mesh Pullover” (Norah Gaughan) from this issue, but have had a rare flash of insight and realize now that a woman who only manages to find her bra for “special occasions” might not really be all that suited to a “mesh” sweater. I’m thinking it over. (I’ve got some Italian cotton that would be perfect….)

Nook and Cranny

Something is going to have to be done. I’m going to have to organize the stash.
I have no idea how this is even possible, since the only way I can make the stash fit in my little wee house is using my patented “nook and cranny” approach. This approach maximizes your yarn storage capabilities, allowing knitters with the tiniest of homes to store absolutely incredible amounts of yarn. I can hear you now, “Tell me more Stephanie, I want to store mind boggling quantities of yarn in and around my home too”.
WARNING. If you are the kind of knitter who has a really organized stash, or if you are the kind of person who knows where your keys are without looking for them, you may find the following images difficult to understand. Just look away.
The secret to the “nook and cranny” approach is expanded thinking. There is no real reason why yarn cannot be stored in any space which is not otherwise occupied. When my stash overflowed the bins, baskets and boxes which were its home, I began putting it anywhere it would fit, but still be unknown to the casual observer.
Example 1. The liquor cabinet.
liquorwool
This is ideal. This space is underused, it has a cabinet door I can close to avoid yarn detection and even if the door is opened in the presence of others, the yarn shape mimics the shape of the surrounding objects enough that if you open and close the cabinet quickly enough…you might get away with it.
Example 2. Movie cupboard
movieyarn
The movie cupboard is less ideal, but still works well. This cupboard has a sliding door, and it’s relative inaccessibility means that guests in your home will never know the yarn is there. This choice illustrates the advantage of choosing a low traffic location. If your kids watch tons of movies, you may wish to consider somewhere else. Somewhere near the washing machine tends to be pretty freakin low traffic around here. I could put 73 kilos of wool right on the washer and nobody but me would ever know it was there…but I digress.
Example 3. Book shelf
bookshelf
I understand that you may not quite follow my thinking here. You are saying to yourselves “But Stephanie, I thought that the beauty of the nook and cranny plan was the concealment of stash from the casual observer…now I see yarn right out in the open. What part of the plan is this?”
I understand your confusion. Look closely. See? Those are knitting books. A whole wall of them. This is a good choice partly because the yarn fits the knitting theme of this wall, and partly because the viewer is already stunned into a fit of incomprehension by all the knitting books and patterns. The wool won’t even register.
Finally today I offer you this picture of my charming husbands arse. As he was walking through the living room in his boxers this morning (yeah…we live pretty casual), I spotted something odd.
boxerhole
There is a bite out of his boxers. I’m trying not to think about it. Mice? Children? Another woman?

Monthiversary

The blog is a month old (or it was yesterday, maybe the day before…I lose track of things) and in an incredible turn of events (which is likely to THRILL my mother) if you type “Harlot” into Google, I’m the 4th hit. Right under some latex fetish stuff. You don’t even need “yarn” or “knitting” or “Stephanie”. Just Harlot. In an even more incredible turn of events, Joe says that he likes that. Odd as fish.
What is it about sock yarn? I mean, really..what is it? I just love the stuff, in a really unbalanced “must have more” kind of way. Yesterday, when this arrived…
llyarnfromsam
from a wildly successful yarn trade with e-friend Sam, I just about lost my mind. It’s Lorna’s Laces sock yarn “Aslan”, and it’s very, very good. I’ve been coveting this yarn for a long time, but I haven’t seen it around here. When I got the yarn I realized that e-friends are probably the second coolest side effect of blogging…you know, right after being ranked the worlds 4th google harlot.
I was so excited when this yarn arrived that I made a classic error. I unwrapped the yarn, and looked around for someone to show it to. As usual, the cat ignored me (my old cat used to feign indifference…Millie actually is indifferent) so I ran upstairs, bounded into our bedroom and woke Joe to show him the yarn. I know. It sounds like such a mistake now while I’m telling you, but at the time it seemed really right. When he had managed to become awake enough to manage speech, all he did was stare at me in a fuzzy confused way and say… “Are you seriously waking me up to show me yarn again?” I may be a slow learner, but that’s when I figured something out.
Joe doesn’t want me to wake him up to see any yarn. Not even really great yarn. See, I keep thinking that the reason he didn’t want me to wake him was because the yarn wasn’t good enough to justify it. Therefore, if the yarn that I want to wake him up with is much better than the yarn I woke him up for last time, I think that he is not going to mind. Now I understand that there is no yarn that he thinks is worth waking up for. Weird eh?

NONIA

Last night, I sat knitting on the couch, watching the first season of The West Wing (for a Canadian I’m really intrigued with American politics…the West Wing is accurate right? If you guys are going to elect actors, why not Martin Sheen instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger?) and turning out the Mamluke socks
mamluke123
I got to thinking that I didn’t really have anything to blog about today. Nothing. The socks are boring, (Hint – the second one is going to look exactly like the first one) the spinning is boring (Hint – the second skein is going to look exactly like the first one) and that’s about all I’m working on. Ask and ye shall receive. My lovely and charming Mother-in-law Carol dropped by, fresh from a trip home to Newfoundland. Now, I don’t just say nice things about Carol because she brings me wool (Hint – I can be bought) she’s a really nice lady, but she did bring me this… which is enough of a bribe that I would say I liked her even if I didn’t.
noniawool
My crappy picture aside, this wool is lovely, and Carol bought it for me at NONIA on Water Street in St. John’s. Two of the above are completely sexy mohair, and the darkest one is beautiful navy/grey sock wool. The top mohair is beyond words, it looks grey in the picture but it’s really a mix of every colour you can imagine. It is so beautiful, that it is all I can do to resist tossing aside the mamluke socks like joyless foot husks and casting on a hat in the mohair. Fortified with 4 cups of coffee and a deadline for the socks, I am ignoring the mohair.
NONIA isn’t a wool shop, but stands for Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association. In 1920 there was a shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives in the outports of Newfoundland. The British government sent over some nurses to help the people (particularly women) in these really isolated communties. As is the way with governments (particularly ones who aren’t likely to have to deliver a baby alone, in a blizzard, with nothing to eat and 7 other kids) the funding for this health service was touch and go. The nurses came up with the idea that if they were to knit and weave stuff to sell, they could fund the program by themselves. They recruited women from all over Newfoundland, gave them wool and taught them to knit (if they didn’t know already). The women knit what pleased them, and NONIA picked the knitting up, paid the women, and then sold the knitting to pay for more health care. It was without a doubt, one of the cleverest woman-helping-woman schemes ever thought up. The nurses kept their jobs, the women earned a little income, and everybody in the outports got health care.
Even though Newfoundland and Labrador is now a province of Canada, and has health care through the government of Canada, NONIA still exists, pays knitters and funds nursing care. They sell knitted stuff in the shop and you can buy the leftover wool. That’s what I got. Go to Newfoundland. You can have some too. Cool eh?

Can’t we do it my way?

Question1. How many times do you need to wash your kitchen floor after a “waffle party” for 11 ten year old girls to get all the syrup off it? I keep washing and washing….and it is still sticky enough that I’m worried about the cat adhering to it.
In between pointless floor washings, I started the spinning for the Shetland socks.
welshsockspun
Question 2. Why can’t we all agree about some basic principles? I’m not talking the big ones, like politics or world peace…all I want sorted out is yardage on knitting patterns. (That’s a lie. I would also really like a word with the screwdriver people, I mean get real – How many kinds of screwdriver does the world really need? Is it not possible that we could get our crap together and agree on one kind of screw? It isn’t enough that I have to go looking for my screwdriver, but to need to find the small phillips type screwdriver? It’s really unnecessary) I want designers to tell me how many yards/metres they actually used in the pattern.
The pattern for the Welsh Country socks is trying. It says that I need one 100g skein of light and one of dark Brown Sheep Nature Spun 3-ply sport . The pattern even tells me that’s about 368 yards of each one. This means that if I sit down at my spinning wheel and spin until I am delirious, and come up with 368 yards each of light and dark I should be fine. No problem.
Question 3. If I spin 368 yards of each one, how much time will I have wasted spinning yarn that I don’t need for this project? HA! We don’t know do we? No we don’t. What I actually need to know for this project is not how much yarn is in the skein, (Although don’t get me wrong…that’s a good start, I appreciate it) but how much of the skein the designer used. The light is only used for cuff, heel and toe. Is that really going to be 368 yards? I don’t think so either. The dark is leg and foot, so it’s probably going to take closer to 368. Now I have a choice. I can spin 368 yards of the dark, (that’s about 150 yards in the picture) and know that I have enough, or I can spin as I need it, not waste any fleece but drive myself insane by always needing to spin “a little bit more” to finish the socks. (We don’t have to discuss how obvious it is which option I’m likely to take.) All I’m saying is that if we knew exactly how many yards the project took, then it would be a lot easier to sub in handspun or leftovers. (I understand that yarn companies don’t want to make it easy for me to use other yarn, I’m down with that, but if you are publishing a pattern that’s not affiliated with a specific yarn then can’t you just do it my way?) I say we revolt. Raise your needles if you are with me! That’s right, we need some kind of a petition, an organized effort to force designers to measure yarn. A march and knit-ins. We could boycott yarn companies and then….well, ok. No boycotts, I don’t think anybody wants to stop buying yarn and patterns. I’m sorry, I got a little carried away, but couldn’t we mention this yardage thing to somebody?
Question 4. Has anybody knit these Welsh Country socks? Can you tell me, did it take all of the skein or was there lots left over?

Fantasy life

Imagine this…it’s a Saturday morning, the laundry is caught up, the house (unbelievably) is tidy, I don’t have to see a client today and I went to the grocery store yesterday to beat the weekend crowds. Today I will knit and spin and make a vegetable barley soup and homemade bread. It is raining/snowing/sleeting outside but me and my girls will be cozy. I’ll get all the dark grey for the socks spun up and it will be a great day.
Right. Welcome to my fantasy life. In reality, the house is trashed, I’ve got a 3:00 postpartum check, it will be a stretch to find something clean to wear, and 10 little girls are showing up here for Sam’s birthday party in 40 minutes. Joe’s skipping out of here to go to “work” for 15 hours. What kind of man is afraid of a pack of little girls?
wbuffalo
White Buffalo yarn is being discontinued. If this means nothing to you, you probably aren’t Canadian. White Buffalo is a yarn like nothing you have ever seen. I don’t even know if it qualifies as a “yarn”, technically speaking. It’s unspun and drawn out for knitting, several strands come off the puck at once. It has some oils it in, and it is absolutely water resistant. Historically, it’s been used in here in Canada for sweaters that are a knock off of the Cowichan sweaters knit by the Salish of Cowichan Valley (West Coast of Canada). Wearing a sweater knit from this yarn is like stepping into a furnace. These sweaters are iconographic for Canadians, Mary Maxim is famous for the acrylic version of the bulky-large-graphic Canadian sweater. Here we have a particularly umm…Canadian version.
marymaxim
White Buffalo yarn is cool and it is Canadian history.

Scientific Experiment

So it’s like this. I should have spent last night getting ready for a waffle party with 11 ten year old girls here Saturday morning, and instead I conducted a scientific experiment with my knitting.
Hypothesis – That knitting fair isle is indeed magical speed knitting in which the time/space continuum is warped and socks get done darned fast. Is it the pattern that just makes it “seem” faster, or is it actually faster?
Experiment – I cast on two socks, one fair isle, one single colour. They did not have the same number of stitches because there is only so much I was willing to sacrifice in the name of science and I want to have actual useful socks at the end of this. One (solid colour) had 84 stitches, and the fair isle had 70. I knit on each sock for 45 minutes, and was interrupted by life crap about the same number of times.
Results (as shown by our lovely studio model…Millie)
milliewool
15 rounds of fair isle at 70 stitches per round is 1050 stitches.
10 rounds of solid at 84 stitches per round is 840 stitches.
Conclusions
1. Fair isle is faster. (I told you so)
2. I am out of my mind for actually thinking this much about this.
3. If there are about a thousand stitches in about an inch of sock knitting…am I the only one being shocked at how many stitches I’m knitting for a whole sock?
Tonights Experiment – do I knit faster with a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon?
I hope everyone in the Maritimes is warm and cozy today. Canada’s Atlantic Provinces were blasted by the biggest Nor’easter in one hundred years yesterday. High winds and a full meter of snow. That’s 100 centimeters. For a frame of reference, I’m 152 centimeters tall. That’s a lot of snow. To my cousin Michael in Halifax: happy shovelling dude. To My Sister-in-law, buried in Sydney, Nova Scotia: I told you to get two movies at the rental place.
Finally, just for Kathy. When I asked my Father in law in St. Johns, Newfoundland yesterday if the storm was bad, he replied in a classic maritimes understatement. “Well, there’s some snow”.

Sock-o-rama

Hear ye, hear ye. After due process was served yesterday in this blog the Farmyard Jacket was convicted of all charges and sentenced to death by kitchen garbage can. A stay of execution was suggested by a number of jurors who attempted to convert the jacket to a pillow, and one member even offered clemency and a new home to the accused. Unfortunately it was a miserable piece of ugly knitting and this court took immense pleasure in heaving it into the garbage can and watching a little coffee grounds get on it. For the record, I would like to note that the Farmyard Jacket was a toddler size and I never had any intention of wearing it myself.
Moving on. One of the Mamluke socks is finished. Be still my heart.
mamlukeonefinished
I love it. See the band of “m” shaped fancies at the ankle and toe? It is “Allah” written in cufic/ arabic letters. Sincerely…how cool is that?
At the same time, I am knitting these. “Welsh Country Stockings” also from “Folk socks”
welshstockings
Only, mine look like this
sheltandsocklight
In a daring move, I am spinning the wool myself. I’ve spun enough for the cuff, heel and toe of both socks (I think) and I’m ready to begin knitting in the darker grey pattern and leg. The yarn for that looks like this.
shetlandfleece
Catch that? It was subtle. Yeah, small problem. I’ll get it looking more like grey yarn later today. I keep trying to figure out how much fleece becomes how much yarn….does that look like enough to anybody? Can you imagine anything that would make you want to run in front of a public bus more than spinning your own sock wool and only being able to knit 9/10ths of the second one? If anyone knows some voodoo figuring out thing, would you drop me a comment?

Slow learner

In an attempt to work my way through my abandoned WIPs (Works In Progress) I’m hauling them out, one by one and dealing with my “issues” with each one. I mean there has to be a reason for why an otherwise perfectly normal woman would begin project after project only to take about half of them and stuff them into the back of her linen closet. Right? Today’s therapy item is 3/4 of what should be the back of Debbie Bliss’ “Farmyard Jacket” from “Farmyard Knits”, in Cantata Cotton Crepe dk.
farmyardjacket
I took it out and began the delicate process of self examination. Looking within myself for the subtle barriers to completion. What are the obscure and enigmatic reasons that I’ve turned my back on this project? The answer came to me in a dazzling moment of clarity.
I freakin hate it.
I hate intarsia with cotton yarn. I hate knitting yarn with no stretch, I hate trying to weave the ends in on cotton intarsia and I hate how many stupid little ends there are. I hate how uneven cotton intarsia looks and I think that Debbie Bliss is a masochist. (Brilliant, but a masochist)
I may also have a problem with cows. I learned all of this (except for the cow thing) when I knit “The Bird Jacket”. I must be a slow learner. How is it that I continue to allow myself to be seduced by the finished product when I would rather wash a live emu with my very own toothbrush than endure the process?
Now the question becomes this…I’ve knit 3/4 of the back, do I rip it out? Do I force myself to continue? Will it make me a better person to make good on my intention to knit this? If I did rip it out, what else would I use the yarn for? Slow learner I tell you. Painfully slow.
Maybe we shouldn’t discuss what else is in the linen closet.