Party on.

I’m here. I feel like I barely escaped the weekend with my life, but I’m here. Team Harlot and it’s associated members attended a grand total of 5 (five) parties this weekend, survived a scary blow to the head that Sam took at party 3 (she’s just fine, but has a dramatic black eye), and successfully launched Joe on a wilderness camping/canoeing/portaging/ picture taking trip to Algonquin Provincial Park. It confuses me still that the man can look at me wrapping presents in the kitchen and somehow think that I have a package of waterproof matches, his dry bags or the camp stove on my person. Joe claims, of course, that he didn’t really think that I “had” the camping stuff on me, but he’s lying. Why else would someone follow you around the house asking for it?
The sweater didn’t get finished in time for party #2, but it was knit on at parties 3 and 4 and before attending party 5 on Sunday, it was delivered to the birthday boy.
I think Max likes his new sweater…
but he may be sort of neutral about the hood.
Last night I celebrated not being at a party by digging up the ribbon tank. (I did find more of the ribbon, same dye lot too. I stood in the store just stunned. That never happens to me. I’d be the lady with all the striped sweaters).
A couple of weeks ago when I realized that I was going to run out of yarn I put the stitches on to a piece of yarn so I could try it on and figure out if it was worth beginning a yarn search. I have concerns about making and wearing stuff at this gauge (16 stitches to 10cm) I have this feeling that chunky knits tend to make the wearer look, well…chunky. I was thinking that if I was knitting the world’s ugliest tank that I wouldn’t be able to bear the irony of spending hours searching Toronto and the world for more yarn just to knit something that made me look like a discus thrower. (Someday I’ll show you the sweater that taught me this lesson. I call it the “michelin man” sweater. It’s an abomination on the earth)
The tank seems ok, but when I went to put the knitting back on needles last night I couldn’t for the life of me remember what needles I was using. A clever knitter would have written what needles she was using on her pattern. A thoughtful knitter would have put the needle into the bag with the tank. A less tidy knitter (and I really thought I was one of those) would have still had the needle on the coffee table even though it has been 2 weeks. In a very un-harlotty move, the needle had been tidied into my drawer of circular needles with it’s tangled brothers and sisters. What’s a knitter to do? I may not be clever or thoughtful, but I am blogging…I went back to my previous entry about the tank, looked closely at the needles (reason #16 why coloured needles are just neat) and bob’s yer uncle. I’m discovering the advantages of blogging all the time.

So close.

The party that this is a gift for is in an hour. I dunno…
I’m starting to think that I might not make it. I need to finish the hood, sew up the seams and install a zipper.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a comment that Chris made. She said “I always love to read the trials and tribulations of the harlot knitting to a crazed, self-imposed deadline.” Now that’s not just funny, it’s thought provoking.
1. What do you think it is that makes it seem reasonable at the time? I mean if it’s clear to Chris that I’m about to send myself into a knitting spiral of disaster and insanity…how come I can’t see it? What about “I think I’ll knit a sweater in three days” doesn’t sound just a little whacked to me? I retrospect, I swear that I just thought it would be a little “intensive”. I just thought I would have to apply myself. Where did I think my children/job/husband were going? Who did I think would do the laundry? When did I decide that I was no longer a mere mortal but a knitting machine with no need for sleep or food?
2. One good thing about this yarn is that when I was knitting at 2 am, desperately trying to pick up the stitches for the hood (what stitches? I swear to all that is woollen that if anybody proves to me they can see “stitches” I’ll give them a dollar) and I suddenly realized that I had hit the wall, my vision was going and my eyes were blurry with exhaustion….I didn’t have to stop. That’s a plus.
3. Beer is not a help.
Thursday night I took the blurry sweater to Amanda’s music night. (Once again, I have circled the indistinct blob that is my child, I can’t help myself)
She got a featured part in “The Entrance of the Queen of Sheba” (scroll down to “Disk one, track one”) and as I sat in the audience listening to her play I was virtually speechless. Amanda’s musical ability floors me at the best of times, it’s like watching her do an incredible magic trick, but this was stunning. When she first started playing the violin she sucked. I love the kid but I feel a little queasy when I think of the first couple of years, they took parental fortitude. The third year she was “pretty good” and we’ve hovered between “actually good” and “darned good” for the last couple of years. Thursday she made some kind of huge leap to “beautiful.”
There is something about seeing your teenager play in an orchestra that is enormously reassuring. It’s just so stunning and civilized that it’s almost impossible to reconcile the young woman on the stage with the mouthy kid who broke curfew the day before. Even though she has blue stripes in her hair, as she draws the bow across the instrument all I can think is that it’s going to be all right. All the worry, angst and concern I have for this teenager slipped away, if only for 3 minutes.
If she can do this incredible thing, and do it so well… I can’t believe that she could grow up to be a bad person. I really think she’s going to work out.
It was so good that I put down my knitting to listen, which brings us right back to the sweater not being finished. If you only had an hour…what would you do?

Comedy hour

This snowflake yarn is cracking me up. It’s a complete hoot. Who ever wrote the pattern is hysterical too…I mean I’m *this* close to calling Sirdar and finding out who writes the snowflake patterns just so I can have them over for a beer. I bet they’re more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. (By the way…has anybody ever checked to see if a barrel full of monkeys is actually fun?)
Look at this.
One of those is the front, the other…the reverse, how many rows, or at what gauge is part of the hilarity of snowflake. Now here’s the funny part (I know, you’re laughing already). The instructions actually say things like “with right side facing” …get it? The rapier wit? Who would know what the right side is? How could you tell? My face hurts from smiling. Check this one “Keeping continuity of pattern” There’s a pattern! See what I mean? It’s irony, the highest form of comedy, balanced yet unreconciled opposites. The writer asks you to keep the continuity of the pattern to achieve success, yet there the pattern is obscured from us . I would never expect a knitting pattern to be such a fountain of literary example. How about “pick up and knit 12 sts evenly along side of neck”! Classic! irony, incongruity, absurdity, surrealism…. all classic forms of humour. What a gas!
I just sat here last night laughing out loud as I knit.
That’s the back and most of a sleeve. I knit them out of order because I find sleeves depressing. I know I’m not alone. If I don’t do this I knit vests. That probably wouldn’t be the case with this sweater though, I mean, really…I just want the laughter to never die.
I’m leaving now, despite the very big fun that is to be had in my very own knitting chair, I’m going on a hunt for more of the tank yarn. I doubt that’s going to be as funny, but what the heck. When I get back, I’m going to rip my entire house apart, inch by inch because it’s been a week and I still can’t find Sam’s glasses. I’ve looked in all the normal places, I’ve looked in all the abnormal places. I’ve moved furniture, looked down the cracks in the couch, in the laundry basket beside Sam’s bed. I’ve just about lost my mind trying to find them. I’m delirious. I’m starting to be obsessed. No matter where I go or what I do in the house I’m looking for the glasses. They have to be here somewhere. Any ideas?

A little off.

From time to time, say…every day, someone tells me that I’m “crazy”. Now, for the most part I figure that they don’t actually mean “crazy” like “gosh I hope she gets some help”, but more like..”oh that crazy Steph”. People still let me babysit and everything. I am unaffected by their words. I know I’m sane.
Today though, Joe points out that I may be a little “off”.
Proof the first.
This picture very accurately captures the colours of the Dublin Bay sock. I took this picture and said to Joe “look how pretty the purple and mauve is… I’m so glad I’m getting Ian’s present done”. Joe just looked at me. I looked back. What? Joe stared me down. When I simply started back quizzically, Joe’s face moved from blank to incredulous.
“Are you serious?” he asked. (I thought about that for a minute. That question is usually a tip off that the asker thinks the answer should be “no”. )
“Yeah” I replied. Why on earth wouldn’t I be happy about getting ahead on Christmas? For crying out loud I get lectures on this very topic. He says “Why don’t you start earlier” “Why do you do this to yourself” “Why are you crying again” Here I am trying to pull it together so that we can all be spared the parade of woes and dude’s on my case?
“Steph” he says gently, ” you’re out of your mind honey, you’re crazy. You’ve been working too much or something”
“What?” (I’m really confused)
“Let’s just string these few words together ok?” (I must be missing something because he’s talking sort of slowly to me)
” Ian…hockey…beer…power tools…pretty mauve socks
Proof the second
I’m going to knit this by Saturday. I really believe that. Off I tell you. I’m a little off.

New and Improved

The joy that surrounds me today is palpable. I’m surprised that people walking down the street don’t stop dead in their tracks, stunned by the obvious halo of happiness around my head…then again, it’s a little humid, maybe they just are confused by my enormo-hair. (My hair responds famously to moisture. What are usually unruly long curls become country singer hair the minute the planet damps a little. I have been experimenting with various de-frizzing products for for the last 2 decades with no luck and have finally accepted that my hair is a creature of it’s own destiny…clearly on a path separate from my own).
There are several reasons to be absolutely happy enough to dance in public today. ( I have just corrected the typo…until mere moments ago that read “dance in pubic”. Wonder how many people saw that….clearly I need “stupid check” not “spell check”)
1. There is a new section in the sidebar called “free patterns” Yup. Free. The Snowdrop Shawl pattern is yours for the having, though it comes with fair warning. It has not, I repeat NOT been test knit. If you find trouble I’ll help bail you out, (my email address is on the pdf). You should probably know that there is absolutely no guarantee that I won’t laugh about your knitterly suffering, even if it is completely my fault. (Sorry…I’ll try to keep it to a minimum) I feel like a heroine for making the pattern. I’ve been engaged in a vicious battle of wills with Excel for weeks to make the charts. I was actually reduced to tears by it, and your local harlot is not a tearful woman. It was only the words of the Curmudgeon that kept me going. She wrote that she draws in the little Excel squares to chart knitting all the time. I admit that I enjoy a good conspiracy theory as much as the next girl, but even I found it hard to believe that she would say that for the laughs she would get knowing that I was sitting here trying. (I feel compelled to admit that it was only because there was no way she would know what I was trying to do that I was able to let go of the idea that it was some kind of a plot) Today, victory is mine.
2. The sun is shining. These are my shoes today.
This is truly reason to believe that winter is over. I know…nothing is for sure. I can hear all the other Ontarians saying “I can’t believe she said that” and trudging back to the basement for their boots. Forgive me, but today I believe. (Err….while you’re in the basement you might want to get your shovel, I’m taking my shorts out of storage today)
3. Even though Sheila is a much better spinner than I am, I tried to spin laceweight as fine as hers. While normally, this would have been an opportunity for the planet to mock me and remind me of my place in the world, inexplicably I was allowed to spin without incident. The resulting mohair/ merino singles do not suck. Again, victory is mine.
4. Ken loaned me his laptop for the duration of the Really Big Job that I got, (All hail the RBJ, well, and hail Ken too) and then he made it all “wireless”. This means that me, my shoes and the nice weather can be as one without having to abandon the job and incur self-esteem damaging guilt for sitting in the sun when I should be working. (I would too. I would absolutely leave the work and go outside. I would feel terrible about it, but I would go.)
I can’t think of a darned thing that could take the glow of this day. (I know. I’m just begging for the planet to give me an illustrative experience. “Here Steph, take this. This is what could take the glow off your day”, but the sun is still shining, my shoes are still good, and somewhere in the world the person responsible for this sort of thing put my name on the list of people who have beaten Excel.
Finally, for the person who found this site by searching google for “How to be a Harlot”, how surprised are you?


Happy belated Mothers day to all who survived it. It went pretty well over here, Joe gave me a beautiful handmade necklace and a gift certificate for the yarn shop, and the children gave me my favourite present…services. This is a gift that’s given often in our house, these little coupons for things that the recipient would want. Joe has many that I’ve given him…I’m not sure what he’s saving them for, but it’s going to be a hell of a weekend sometime.
Some of the ones that I got are lovely for me personally, but not blog worthy. (“Blog Worthy” is a new expression around here. We’ve started saying things like, “yeah it’s interesting, but is it Blog Worthy?”) and then there were these:
This one from Amanada, my almost 15 year old. (It would have to come from a teen wouldn’t it?)
I think this gift tells you a little something about what our mornings are usually like. I have no idea when to use it, it seems like such a powerful wild-card that I can scarcely bring myself to hold it. Amanda also gave me one promising to knit a washcloth. Given the loathing that my eldest currently holds for knitting, and all it stands for (I think that would be me) this is a real expression of love. I’m not going to cash it in. I’m just going to keep it, so that every time we have one of those mother-teenager meltdowns (about necklines, curfews or lipstick) I’ll have it to clutch quietly in my fist as private proof that she loves me and that we will both survive her adolescence.
Megan gave me these. (among others)
I have some reservations about the “blog story” one. I’m torn between just giving it to her and seeing what happens, or having a little motherly sit down with her and finding out what she plans to do to give me a “blog story”. The brainchild behind the voodoo dolls, Megan possesses an unusually quirky and dangerous brand of imagination. Don’t get me wrong….all of my kids are creative, (and dangerous, actually) but Meg is a little, er….”darker” about it, and if the life we’ve been living over here has been “blog worthy” without her even trying? Well I shudder to think what a special effort would look like.
Sam’s are forthcoming. (I’ve often said that the trouble with mothers day is that it’s planned by men and children. You have to accept that it doesn’t always have the co-ordination of fathers day. It’s part of its charm.)
Yesterday marked the return of the Dublin Bay socks. These didn’t work out in the Yarn That Shall Not Be Named, but are looking really dandy in the Confetti sock yarn. I’m trying to get a jump on Christmas. Every year I swear things are going to be different, that I’m going to plan ahead. Well look at me, it’s May and there’s a Christmas sock on the needles. That’s right. Score: Harlot .20 (that’s how much of the pair of socks is done) Christmas: 0
I grant you, that’s not much of a lead, but it’s a lead.
I’m still working on the blog surprise, but I’m unfortunately engaged in a battle with technology that I’m not winning at the moment. I’ve called in reinforcements, and I expect that things will start to improve as soon as Ken has time to bail me out of my latest mess.
Like, tomorrow maybe. Don’t be too excited either, it’s not like, cake or anything.
Finally I share with you my conversation with Meg last night.
Mom: Meg, time to put down the knitting and go to sleep.
Meg: Mummy, this shawl isn’t going very fast. I wish there was some way to make it faster. Maybe you could help me? Just a few courtesy rows?
I laughed out loud. Courtesy rows?

The turn of the tank.

Well the tank turned on me. It had to happen, there’s no way that I could curse this much at it and not have it begin to think up a plan to exact it’s revenge. Yarn can be bitter like that. I fear that I have offended the tank by using colourful language to describe the tendency of the ribbon yarn to twist up into a tangled mess kinkier than the Marquis De Sade’s birthday party.
I’ve tried several strategies. Taking the yarn from the inside, from the outside, tensioning my yarn differently, putting the yarn on my lazy kate….nothing works. It’s got to be something in the action my knitting that’s doing it. I’ve resorted to waiting until I can’t stand it anymore, then dangling the knitting so the twist can spin out. Joe and the children find this entertaining. I do not. To enliven it a little, I’ve been saying foul things to the yarn, and it’s becoming pretty clear that the tank is taking this personally. How you ask? How? Well, it’s like this. I love the tank. It looks pretty cool, it seems like it will fit really well, I put the decreases in exactly the right spots and aside from the twisting ribbon thing I like how the yarn looks and feels made up.
The revenge part? I’ve used more than half of the yarn, and I am not yet halfway done. Yup. The perfect retaliation. I love the tank, yet it will never be mine. Classic.
I’m going to go on a hunt for more over the weekend, but I’m not hopeful. The only thing to do at this point is let go and move on. I’m picking up the edging stitches for the Eeyore blanket, I’m not even counting, let’s just say that there are a fair number. I’m overwhelmed with the excitement.
I’m thinking about devising a mother’s day blog surprise. Speaking of mother’s day, as a public service I’ve decided to share a few tips that I’ve worked out over the years, just a few little things I wish they taught in the public school system.
#1. If your mother has to scrub the kitchen for 3 hours after you make her “present”, that’s not a very good present.
#2. Don’t ask your mom for the money to buy her a gift. Not even (and I stress this, because I understand that for the adolescent this can be a difficult concept) Not even, if it is only going to be a “loan”.
#3. Not everyone enjoys breakfast in bed. Even if they do enjoy breakfast in bed, most mothers would like it if most children didn’t think that getting up to pee “ruins the whole thing”. I promise that if you let us go to the bathroom we will go right back to bed and continue to feign sleep even if we smell smoke or if we overhear your sister say “I’m so telling mom that fell in her food”.

Stereotype much?

It’s turning out to be a really good week to be a mother. I mean, there’s still a lot of laundry, I’d really like to know what made the coffee table so sticky overnight and if anybody has any idea where Sam’s glasses might be I’d be thrilled, but overall…this week it’s a nifty gig. (Yeah, I know. These moments in motherhood are really just filling me up with warm emotions and good memories of my daughters, so that I’ll actually go post bail when the police call a couple of years from now. I understand what’s going on, I’m just choosing the happy path of denial.)
Sam’s choir sang the anthems at the Skydome last night. (Blue Jays vs Kansas City Royals. We thumped them 10 – 3, nothing personal). Seeing your kid on the jumbo-tron is pretty freakin cool.
I put a little circle around Sam. I realize that not even one of you gives a whit about which one of those fuzzy blobs is my child, but I’m still pretty happy about my kids doing nice, wholesome things…like knitting, singing in the choir and going to baseball games. The whole of Team Harlot (man…we should get tee-shirts) went to the game. Ken knit
and my super-fun brother Ian and his lovely wife Ali drank beer in a supportive fashion. (Hey…everybody has a skill.) This brings us to today’s topic. What do you believe that people think about you when you knit in public? What assumptions do they make about your personality, values or politics? How do you think this is related to your gender?
I think that when I knit in public I’m usually viewed as someone who’s clean living, conservative and generally a “good girl”. Little old men who don’t speak English are drawn to me and smile at my knitting and pat my arm and try to introduce me to their sons. Other women sometimes want to talk to me about being “counter-feminist”. (Here’s a funny thing, both of those generalizations about me make me want to knit pasties and a thong, just to shake everybody up.)
Now when Ken knits in public, I think people think several things about him (it is worth noting that Ken thinks differently, I’m sure he’ll pipe up). I think they assume he is gay. Men think they could take him in a fight, and women, well, here is where Ken and I part ways, I think that women find it an attractive quality. (Not sexually attractive, since they think he’s gay for knitting too) but attractive in a friendly sort of way, like “Oh what a sensitive, lovely, artistic man.”
Let’s sum up. For the record, Ken and I are in the same age bracket, and possess a similar “hipness” factor. (Give it up Ken, I’m at least as cool as you)
Stephanie knitting in public = conservative, good marriage material, traditional, anti-feminist, probably boring.
Ken knitting in public = liberal, terrible marriage material (except in Canada and a couple of states), absolutely non-traditional, open-minded and artistic.
Clearly, I’m generalizing, the world is filled with people who assume nothing based on your gender, sexuality or hobby…and by far and away, those are the people I meet. All I’m saying is that when I do run into somebody whose interested in stereotyping us knitters by gender…this has been my experience. Your milage may vary, especially according to where you live and what you have pierced.

Tank talk

All right, now that I’m not being outshone by my own offspring, let’s talk tank tops. Nathania, the current Queen of the Tank Top wants details about my tank. Ask, and ye shall receive. (Also, I have absolutely nothing else to talk about. Wait, that’s not completely true. I washed the kitchen floor. Trust me, that’s noteworthy)
Some time ago (like in the last couple of years) I saw a tank pattern that I really liked, because I am me, and the universe is like it is, this tank pattern is now gone. Completely gone. I have looked online everywhere I ever think I’ve been, searched google, stayed up half the night looking in my books and searching magazines. It is not here. I have been through all of these and swatched half of them. If I added up all the swatches I bet I would have already knit four tanks.
I’ve actually started to believe that in my search for the perfect tank top I may have hallucinated it…all because I don’t want to believe that the perfect tank can’t be out there.
I’m a little tank picky. The perfect tank has the following characteristics.
– It has no fancy flouncy dumbass girly stuff. (What falls into this category varies with my mood)
-I don’t know where my bra is right now. This is common. A tank must be opaque enough to cope with this. (This rules lace over the bust right out)
-If I find my bra, I don’t want anyone to see it. Not even the straps. I know that there are those who feel that it is ok, or even desirable to display ones bra straps, but I am unmoved. (I suspect that if I had a collection of sexy co-ordinating bras I might feel differently, but I spent my bra money on wool. Screw it)
-My breasts, unfettered or not, are simply not comfortable with public office. Therefore, no plunging necklines.
In the end I gave up and made one up. Or …I’m making it up as I go.
The tank and pattern (if you could call it that, ignore the placket thingie on the neck, I abandoned it) are resting on the new Ram Wools catalogue. It does not have the perfect tank in it either, just so you know.
This tank is a tunic sort of thing, with a split at the sides, a shaped waist (I don’t have one, but I like knitting them into my clothes, it makes me feel better) and a square neck, edged by the same seed stitch that I started with. I think it’s going to make the cut.
In other news, today I will continue my insane search for a plain white t-shirt for Sam to wear to a choir thing tonight. I am surprised that out of the 5 people living in this home not one of us has a stinking plain white t-shirt, (Joe says we have dark souls) and further shocked that I apparently can’t get one within a 5km radius of my home. I’m going to have to actually go downtown to get a plain white t-shirt. I’ve had some glimmers of hope , where I spot one on a rack and get all excited only to discover that I’m looking at the back and the front has “My face is up here” written on it.
The vicious irony of the whole epic search for this *&^%$@ t-shirt is that I have it on reasonably good authority that the choir director picked it because everybody has one.

Rock on, Dude.

A while ago my charming and ever so polite, soft-spoken and average in every way daughter Meg came up to me while I was knitting.
Meg: Mom, I was thinking about knitting some kind of, like, rocker chick like grunge wrist thingie?
(Holy Crap, I love it when my kids knit, and now Meg is suggesting that she design her own stuff! At 12! This is like discovering that in her spare time your 10 year old has been studying university level literature. There are full grown knitters who don’t do that. I’m just so full of motherly pride that it’s all I can do to not leap up and hug her. It’s good that I can resist, because Meg is way too cool to be hugged. I restrain myself and try to look like I don’t care. Parenting rule #14 says that you can’t let your teenaged daughter see that you like her plan or she will change it. I feign indifference, I remain seated.)
Me: Yeah?
(Like that? Smooth eh? Cool as a freakin’ cucumber that’s what)

Meg: Yeah, like gloves but with no fingerholes, just a thumb hole or something. You know, like, cool.
Me: Sure…I know what you mean. First you are going to need a tape measure. Then you need to knit a little swatch, then measure your gauge and your wrist and see how many stitches you need to cast on for your wrist. Come see mummy if that’s too hard. Once you have that figured out come back and I’ll show you how to work double pointed needles. Don’t be worried, they are very easy. I’ll help you figure out how to make a gusset for your thumb….do you remember how to increase? Maybe I should find you that book, never mind the book…mum will help you. Come sit by me.
(Not bad…not bad. A little too much enthusiasm, I did screw up and say “mummy”, I’ve got to remember to stick to “Mum”, otherwise they think I’m talking to them like a baby. Overall, I think it was ok. Inviting, not overwhelming…instructive but respectful. Yeah…I think I’m good)
Meg: Actually Mum….if you could just give me the wool…
Me: Oh…
The child took the wool, disappeared and came back with… Meg-rock-chic-grunge-wrist-thingies.
We are not worthy.
My child executed the following knitting manoeuvres, with no assistance from anyone, she just figured it out. She cast on, worked in rounds with double pointed needles, (having determined that a circular would not work, and why) worked paired increases to make a gusset, cast off for the thumb hole, picked up stitches around the hole for the palm and cast off. For bonus round points, she backstitched the words “Rock On” on it.
I can barely speak. It turns out that if you immerse a child in wool for 12 years they pick up a thing or two. Who knew?
I on the other hand, have started a tank top. After Megs’ masterpiece, who cares.