Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I’d planned this lovely goodbye, something so funny and clever that it would amuse you to no end while I am gone. Maybe a quiz or a game or something.
Alas, I underestimated the depth and breadth of the packing nightmare, and lost a fair amount of sleep finishing the work thing, (Hear that? Finished. Hallelujah.) had to repair a therm-a-rest after wrestling it in a bathtub to find the damn leak…and all the joy has gone out of me for today – leaving me only with this for you. A Poncho Pattern. Use it in good health
A very Harlot Poncho.
5 balls Mission Falls 1824 wool (I am short. If you are tall, you might want to add a ball)
9mm, 60cm circular.
Cast on 64 stitches.
Knit one round
Purl one round.
Round 1: YO, K1(mark this stitch), YO, K31, YO, K1(mark this stitch), YO, K31.
Round 2. knit plain
Round 3. knit, doing a YO before and after your marked stitch.
Repeat the last two rounds, alternating a plain round with a round where you increase either side of your marked centre stitch, and either side of your marked centre back stitch. After a couple of rounds you won’t even need the markers, it will be pretty obvious.
Continue until you have used four balls of your yarn (or five, if you are tall) then cast off. I used the crochet cast off, but the world is your oyster. Do as pleases you.
Cut the remaining ball of yarn into 15″ lengths. Not co-incidentally, this is the exact length you will get if you wrap the yarn the long way around the DVD case from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and then cut at the bottom, though I suppose you could use any DVD.
Fringe at will. I put two strands in every other cast off stitch.
Everybody (except those who hate ponchos) should knit one while I am gone.
I’ll look forward to seeing them, and I’ll post from the road. I think I’ve got the technology together. (This is not strictly true. Ken thinks I have the technology together. I’m grateful that he has faith in me.) I have packed the fleece artist poncho, the Dublin Bay sock, and yarn for two more pairs in a pinch. (I have also packed Megan’s poncho, which is so close that it hurts. I’ll knit it while she’s sleeping.) I have left lots of room for souvenir yarn in our bags, and have a plan to mail it back home if my wooly love is too big for my suitcase.
Next update, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(PS. Look at the time on this post. Now know that the cab to the airport comes at 6:30 am. Pity me.)


There really is no time to blog today, but I feel that I must take a moment to thank my brother in law Ben for saving my life. When I staggered over to his house on an errand, Ben gave me a beer, listened to me come unglued about the insane work deadline, sympathized about getting ready for the trip and most of all enlightened me about the lifeline that is MMC. (Modified Macaroni and Cheese)
While away from his wife and children and eating like a bachelor, Ben combines these two elements, white cheddar mac and cheese and Pataks Mango Pickle in oil, elevating a simple dinner for the desperate into a heretofore unknown glory of boxed food. Trust me. Ben is a genius. Eat it and know what real inspiration is. (I understand that you think that Ben and I are both off our nut. That we have been driven by a childless state into believing that this is good food, when really it is a poison that I am now trying to fob off onto you so that we may all descend together into the abyss of overwork and weirdness that is my life. Eat it anyway.)
While I sit glued to the computer, frantically and (probably) hopelessly trying to meet a writing deadline, water for this inspired instant dinner is coming to a boil in the kitchen. I have eaten it for dinner, and am repeating it for lunch and see no reason not to solve my supper crisis tonight with it as well.
Despite trying to drink way less coffee, the poncho-a-thon continues, (as does my complete inability to take a picture that accurately depicts its colour).
My unfettered pointy poncho love shows no sign of abatement, though I did somehow avoid buying a Mango Moon recycled silk poncho kit at the Stitch and Bitch last night. It was incredible, I walked away. You should have seen me.

Can’t talk, must drink coffee.

I’ve decided to own up to the fact that I may be a little stressed this week. I’m packing 5 people for a very complicated trip involving planes, boats, cars and bicycles, I have a huge work thing due on Friday, organizing Joe is like going to a submarine race (they tell you that it’s all happening, but you really can’t see anything moving), I’m trying to get the house clean enough that a friend can stay here without having stories to tell our other friends (you know, stories that start with phrases like “and when I opened the fridge…”) I’ve got several clients to wrap up with, and to top it all off, I can’t find the pattern (read: lame little notes scratched on a variety of receipts, pieces of graph paper and the back of a paper bag) for the stupid baby sweater.
The Top 10 ways you can tell that I have a little stress.
10. I have started another poncho.
This one is knit from the Fleece Artist mohair boucle that I got for my birthday. Yeah…the stuff that I was turning into a shawl. I care nothing for shawls now, I care only for pointy magical ponchos. This affinity for ponchos is purely unnatural, and the only reason that I am not checking myself into the Queen Street Mental Health Centre for having three ponchos on the needles (and yarn purchased for a fourth) in the last week is that I have somehow managed to convince myself that it’s ok as long as only two of them are for me. Pity me, for I am headed down a dangerous fringed path.
9. I am so worried about not having Megan’s poncho done on time that last night I stayed up until 2:45 working on it, as I have estimated the number of hours that I have left to knit it in Megan’s absence, compared it with the number of hours that it should take to finish, and decided that these two numbers are not compatible without substituting coffee for a fair bit of sleep.
This yarn defies being accurately photographed. It is impossibly red.
8. While abusing the glorious brown elixir of life known as coffee is not new to the Harlot, she has (since her children left) discovered that if you have no children…you really don’t need to cook meals or go to the grocery store as long as you have *enough* coffee. We will not discuss the side effects of this, but say only that I have discovered that if you drink *enough* coffee, you can feel the hair on your legs grow.
7. When I discovered that I had lost the pattern for the baby sweater…I cried.
6. I believe, even given the points discussed in item #9 above that it is reasonable that I should have cast on the Fleece Artist poncho, since I am still trying to get to Fleece Artist on the Maritime vacation (even though it is located a three hour drive from where I will be in Nova Scotia, and I will have no car) purely because knitting it helps me keep my “eyes on the prize”. I freely accept that this is obsessive and weird.
5. Here in Ontario, if you don’t make a reservation for a campsite at a provincial park you can’t get one. When I called the campsites in P.E.I. yesterday, every very, very nice person that I spoke to told me that they don’t take reservations. They acknowledge that they may be full, and that there may be no sites, but assure me that they will work it out when we arrive. No worries.
This worries me.
4. After a careful assessment of minimum needs for the trip I have determined that each person absolutely needs to take more than I can possibly fit in our bike saddlebags. As an indicator of my stress, it would seem that the only response to this problem I can muster is to cast on a poncho.
3. I had to put the Dublin Bay Socks in a drawer because I couldn’t stand the way they were looking at me.
2. Instead of dealing with the problems outlined above, I am instead using this time that the children are away to compile a detailed list of things that are definitely their fault. For example, now that they have been gone for two days, I have written on the list that it is definitely not Joe who sometimes doesn’t flush the toilet. Even though this is not solving any of my issues, I feel productive and useful. Since this activity is unproductive and useless, yet taking time that could be spent knitting a poncho it must be a procrastination stress response.
1. Even though I am obviously losing my mind, and am dangerously hopped up on caffeine and ponchos, even though I have a work deadline that would kill a lesser woman, a twitch over my left eye, and I couldn’t find the camp stove while trying to pack 76 pounds of crap in a bag that holds 23 pounds, and even though I have a bizarre obsession with not buying groceries even though we have none, just because I don’t want anything to go bad while we are away…even though I really, really need to get it together over here,
I am going to Lettuce Knit for a Stitch and Bitch tonight. Fear me.

There and here (or “Link-o-rama”)

It’s done. Today I’ve been knitting on the little baby sweater,
(and the poncho, but that looks pretty much the same) and making tons and tons of phone calls to the Maritimes. Arrangements have been made, itineraries set, campgrounds booked and I have finally set the dates and plans for the Harlot Family Holiday. I really couldn’t be more excited. I’ll be blogging as usual this week, but then then we run out of Toronto at a thousand miles an hour on Saturday morning. Our itinerary looks like this:
Saturday: a flight from Toronto to St. Johns. Newfoundland. We spend three very cool days in the capitol, visiting Joe’s family and friends, whale watching, touring, and desperately trying to avoid getting “screeched in“. This is something of which I have a mortal fear, though I can’t say why. While I don’t eat fish, I’m not scared of them or anything, I think it’s the screech. Knitting stops (what? You didn’t think I’m just going for the family thing…did ya?) in St. Johns include Nonia, and Harpur’s Knitting Centre.
Tuesday (10th August) we move into the rest of Newfoundland, especially the West Coast, where we’ll visit the towns that Joe grew up in, like Pasadena and Corner Brook. I’m very excited about Gros Morne National Park, and Strawberry Hill. I don’t know about knitting shops in the area, but it’s enough to imagine sitting on a cliff overlooking the sea, knitting with the wind in my hair.
Saturday: A ferry ride from Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The crossing takes hours. Prime knitting hours. About six. This will be, by far and away the biggest boat I have ever been on, and it’s crossing the biggest water I’ve ever been on. I’m completely flipped out about being on the ocean. Completely flipped out. When we get off the ferry, Joe’s sister Kelly (who is a fine knitter) will meet us and bring our sea-sick little selves to her home in Cape Breton. We’ll arrive just in time to celebrate Megan’s birthday with the cousins, and I’ll knit with my feet in the ocean. Late Sunday night Ken arrives with the bikes.
Monday (16th August) – another ferry, this time from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Wood Islands P.E.I. This one is shorter, only 75 minutes, but crosses The Northumberland Straight, a sometimes “Whale highway”. Darned pretty. We park the Ken’s car in Charlottetown and camp there.
Tuesday we ride our bikes to Borden.
Wednesday it’s on to Cabot Beach.
Thursday, because we have three daughters, we’ll ride on to Cavendish, home of Anne of Green Gables. This part of the trip is really for me. I’m pretending that I’m going for the girls, but really the Anne books were such an enormous part of my childhood that I can’t wait to see it all.
Friday we ride back to Charlottetown, coming across the Confederation Trail.
Saturday Ken and Joe begin the drive back to Toronto, while the children and I get back on the ferry to return to Kelly’s house in Cape Breton. This trip is really only so I can get to Baadeck yarns. Otherwise known as “The Whole Reason Our Trip Is To The Maritimes This Year”. Don’t tell Joe.
Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll be back, and normal blogging should return. I’m still trying to figure out how to blog from the road, and I have yet to figure out how I’m going to get to Fleece Artist. Don’t tell Joe that either.

Harlot happy day

Today marks the beginning of the Harlots vacation. Not the vacation where I get on a plane with children and a husband and go explore the world, test my patience and hope for the best, but the real vacation. Last night, my Mother (I love my Mother) picked up all three of the children and took them away for five action-packed days at a rental cottage far away from here. They will swim, eat, play, look for snakes, whittle whistles (Megan’s cottage obsession), and talk about how sad it is that I couldn’t come. (My Mother finds this hysterical. She can’t believe that the ladies are apparently not old enough to have figured out that even if I didn’t have to work, you couldn’t pay me to come). I started this week right by getting up late, having a complete cup of coffee before it got cold, and speaking to my husband in long sentences. Did I mention that I love my Mother?
Only adding to my happiness is the sexy new poncho, which – considering that I just knit the thing on the fly, is pretty freakin’ cute.
I cannot tell you how fulfilling this poncho is. I understand that it is wrong to be this excited about a stupid fashion trend. I understand that tradition never dies, and that poncho knitting is a flash in the pan and I understand that this is going to look absolutely dumbass in the spring. I don’t care. I love it. (I am smiling in the picture, not only because I am happy that I have a poncho, but because Joe is trying to convince me to model it wearing nothing else. Joe is very quick to adapt to the week without the children. Joe is also out of his mind, do you see how well it matches the pants?)
Check out the detail on the fringe.
Mine, mine all mine.
To redeem myself as a knitter who respects the traditions and value of the more perennial forms of knitting I give you the almost finished Cherry Aran. I fixed the problems with the button band, (20 extra stitches is what it took. The pattern was wrong by 20 stitches. I’d be bitter, but nothing can ruin the vacation week).
Now I have a new problem. Before I washed it, the Cherry Aran was the precise dimensions given in the pattern. Then it hit water and…well, it’s not that size anymore.
It’s sort of, well…huge. (Can we pause here so that I can answer a question that somebody is going to ask me? The answer is No. No, I did not wash my swatch. Yes, I sometimes wash my swatches, but only when I really, really care what size something turns out. With a toddler sweater I’m not going to do it. The swatch can only get bigger when I wash it, and coincidentally, so will the toddler. Yes, this means that I have no right to complain. Yes, I deserve everything that I get. I have angered the gods of knitting by being cavalier about the size of the Cherry Aran and I am being punished. No, I’m probably not going to start washing swatches for toddler sweaters. No, that doesn’t mean that I’m done complaining.) The only time I’ve ever had this happen before was with a superwash yarn, and the experience was so negative that I’ve flinched in the yarn shop upon sighting it ever since. Still, I might have made a tactical error here. The yarn is Hayfield Natural Wool DK, and it says “Machine Washable” on it. (I just noticed that machine washable part last night, you know, after the sweater expanded). Here’s the question. Does “natural” mean not superwash (which is what I thought) or does “machine washable” mean superwash ? (what I suspect). In either case, if it’s superwash I’ll try tossing it in the dryer, and if it’s just a cruel twist of fate then I’ll wait for the toddler to grow.
To even out the big needle poncho knitting I started another baby sweater, this time using baby yarn, 100% wool, with a tension that will erase the effects of 8mm circulars forever. Get this…
32 stitches and 40 rows to 10cm. Love it.
I really find that I start missing tiny little needles and yarn when I work with bulkier stuff. There’s something about the delicate meticulousness that I love.
The bigger the investment of time and attention, the more worthy the project seems to me. We’ll see if this is careful enough work to take care of the yearning. Usually when it gets like this, I need a lace fix.
Megans birthday is in two weeks, and the kid was trying to rip off my new poncho yesterday, so I’ve started a really wild one for her.
I briefly wondered what it meant that my almost 13 year old and I love the same poncho. I stopped thinking about it on purpose.