Leavin’ on a jet plane

Your local Harlot leaves today for the land of milk and honey. I will spend two days in Massachusetts on business, then…be still my heart. I will be at Rhinebeck. I’m so excited I can scarcely breathe. It’s not just the festival either, this is the first time I’ve been away by myself…ever. I’ve never been on a plane alone, I’ve never stayed in a hotel alone…the possibilities boggle the mind. Half of the time I’m thrilled to death and the rest of the time I’m terrified. (Sorry, the math on that is wrong. There’s a couple of hours a day in there for beating myself up for being terrified because what kind of a grown woman is nervous about going away by herself?)
Questions that need answers.
10. Between them, Joe and the girls have 74 years of life experience. Will this be enough to see them through 4 days without me? When I arrive home Sunday night, will their quiet enthusiasm for all that I do for them and their grateful hearts welcome me warmly back into my home, or will they set upon me like a pack of wolves deprived of a fresh kill the minute that I walk through the door?
9. Assuming they survive, what is the estimated condition of my house upon my arrival Sunday night?
8. What are the chances, should I call home from Massachusetts or New York that they will not ask me if I am having a good time, or if the first time I am away from home by myself in 18 years is fun, but instead use up all of my long distance minutes saying things like:
-Where are my green tights?
-Tell Amanda that she has to lend me her hairclips.
-What was the phone number for the guy with the thing?
7. What is the rate of exchange? (I am obsessed with this. It’s like a disease. I keep trying to calculate the best moment to go to the bank.)
6. Would packing a swift and ballwinder be considered “overkill”?
5. What do I have in my house that I could sell on the sidewalk out front before 2:00 this afternoon to get more money for buying things?
4. What kind of knitting needles will I be allowed to take on the plane? I’ve flown all over Canada with any needles I wanted, but the rules are different flying into New York. The airline claims that this matter is at the discretion of the security agent I meet at the airport. This means that it will be a surprise. I have three kinds of needles, I am prepared for any answer accept “none”.
(I swear that while I would never, ever say this to a security person…If they want to take away my bamboo 2mm sock needles, deep down inside I will be strangling the urge to take all the other passengers pencils away. Wait… maybe I could knit with pencils?)
3. How will my friend “Mr. Washie” cope without me? We’ve never been apart this long. Perhaps I could ask someone to visit him…
2. What do all the people I know from the blogosphere really look like? Who will I meet? What will they say? Will I remember their names? (Wait..I know the answer to that one. No. I won’t. For the love of Wool don’t take it personally.) What will they be wearing? (Wait until you see what Laurie is wearing (yes, That Laurie). Stunning.
1. Finally…will I be wearing Rhinebeck? No way to know. It’s down to the wire on this one.
I’ll blog if I can, otherwise I’ll see you Monday with a full report. Wish me luck.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry, but the Yarn Harlot can’t come to the blog right now. She is frantically cleaning her house, knitting a sweater and peeling beets. As she does these things, she is also wondering “What the (*&^%!!! was I thinking?” and feeling a little desperate, since she doesn’t know which of her stupid decisions she should regret.
The sweater and the Yarn Harlot are not on speaking terms, since it had the audacity to refuse to let its saddle shoulder fit properly. The Harlot attempted to knit in the saddle, but the sweater was displeased. It apparently wants some other kind of treatment. It’s exact goal is unknown. The Harlot has found the time to take a picture, mostly because she feels that there must be some kind of stinking proof about the kind of crap that the Rhinebeck sweater is dishing out.
On this day of Thanksgiving, the Harlot remains grateful that the biggest problem in her life is this sweater. She is very, very lucky.
Please leave a message after the tone.

Not a good sign

I wasn’t going to blog today. I was going to catch up on the housework, do my real job and go shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, which in some insane moment fuelled by only by caffeine, I have decided to host at my home. Clearly the sleep deprivation caused by my demanding relationship with Rhinebeck is starting to effect me. I have decided to stay with the sweater, even though it continues to thwart me at every turn. I’ve made this decision, not because it’s such a great sweater, but because I am a stubborn, stubborn woman who cannot take the public humiliation of being beaten by skeins of wool.
I am beginning to dream of other projects. Just a little hat, or maybe just a row or two of a mitten….In a weak moment I wound the yarn for a pair of Fleece Artist socks.
I am ashamed that I made Rhinebeck watch, just to threaten it. I am more ashamed that I may have come to believe that this sweater has an actual personality, and that it may not like me.
Pass the coffee.

Six days.

Dear Rhinebeck Sweater,
Frankly, I’m so disappointed in your behaviour that I didn’t even feel like capitalizing your name. I did though, because being disrespectful to you isn’t going to help us get through this. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.
I know that we haven’t been together very long, and that this relationship has been really intense. I’ve given you some of the best seven days of my life and my devoted and singular attention…except for that thing with the mitten, but you knew about that when we met. I’ve done everything I can to make you happy. I’ve given you so many chances. I even forgave you when you lied to me about your gauge. I understand. You were afraid. Commitment is hard for me too.
I really think though, that it’s time for you to try and move forward with me. We leave for Rhinebeck in six days and I don’t want to have to explain about us to all those people. I need you to co-operate with me. I know you think it’s not your fault…but I don’t know what else to try. I gave you the shiny blue needles…I’m not seeing the mitten anymore…I charted the cables when you felt unsure. I feel like I give and give and give…and you do nothing.
Take last night, I knit on you for hours…and you are hardly any longer at all. It’s like I’m in some kind of relationship vortex, I’m putting in all of this effort and what do I get back! Nothing. You just lie there. Did you think that I would just keep trying? Did you think that I forgot how it was when we were working on the sleeve? When we would work together and at the end of the evening there was real progress? That’s what I need from you. I can’t keep holding this relationship together by myself. I need to feel less alone. I need to feel like when I swatched you, that meant something. That the evening with the ball winder wasn’t just the wine talking. If I knit seven rows, you should be an inch longer. This is a law of physics. Why are you holding back?
I still love you, your firm ribbing and symmetrical cables still call my name. I still feel moved when I see your sleeve shaping and think about your saddle shoulders. I don’t understand why you don’t want to be with me. I’m young, I yarn-over quickly, I’ve never dropped a stitch on you and I respected you enough to write part of your pattern down. What more can I do to make this work?
I’m willing to give it another day with you, but if you aren’t going to even try…well. A knitter has needs. Rhinebeck is in six days. I have lots of other yarn. You do the math.

Five Degrees.

I’ve done it. I’ve realized a personal dream. Twinkies are going. (Thanks to Norma for the heads up). It seems that the company is going bankrupt, and if it is true, and the next few months go the way that they should, I will have done something that many other people may find incredible and stunning.
I will have raised three humans who have never eaten a Twinkie.
The Rhinebeck sweater proceeds apace.
Those of you who appreciated the obsessive ribbing will also enjoy that the cables on the right cable to the right, those on the left cable to the left, and the one in the middle just moves in and out. Nothing like a little symmetry.
I am starting to have some serious concerns about finishing. I’ve decided to completely neglect housework to make more time…(that should give me another 15 minutes a day). I brought up the winter clothes from the basement, so now everybody has more they could wear, thus prolonging the amount of time I can go without visiting my friend “Mr. Washie”. The only real barrier to finishing this sweater is now my real job. I’ll work on that.
In other news, it’s cold in my house. Really cold. It’s been getting down into the single digits here at night ( that’s Celsius people…don’t freak out. It was 5 degrees here last night, that’s like…about 40F) and the house gets really nippy. The temperatures are coming up during the day, but not for long enough to make it ever really comfortable in the house. (To add insult to injury, there has been a period of time during the day when it is warmer outside than inside.) My hands are so cold that I am actually typing slower. I’m thinking about baking bread to warm the kitchen. We’re letting our bathwater stand in the tub until it’s cold so that the room is passively heated. The poor little children went and found their flannel jammies last night, and I’m wearing layers. In the house.
“Why Stephanie”, you ask… “why don’t you turn on the heat?”. I have several answers.
1. Heat is expensive. I am saving money. Put on a sweater.
2. I am a knitter. This period before I turn on the heat mark the weeks when my art is most appreciated. These are the weeks that I look like a genius for making everybody thick wool socks. They are all wearing slippers. They are thinking about full-time hat use. Shawls and throws are over laps and around shoulders. Turning on the heat ends these days of glory. Central heat is my natural enemy.
3. I am Canadian. There is an unspoken and holy contest among Canadians. This time of year Canadians are gripped in a desperate war against nature. As intrinsically peace loving people, this is really the only serious war we wage. Canadians obsessively watch the weather channel and check the thermostat. We say things like “How cold is your house?” . “Did you turn your furnace on yet?”, ” Last year I made it until Hallowe’en.”. The longer you can go…the colder the house gets, the less heat you use….the more noble the fight.
As the winter approaches, you can’t even give up all at once. I heard a mother in the school yard say “I put the furnace on…but only for an hour. I just took the edge off, you know, for the kids. Bob and I can take it.”
Nobody wants to be first.
I’m not turning it on until somebody has to break the ice in the toilet. Put on a sweater.
PS. The Toronto sky…for Sandy, who is planning beautiful mittens…and wants to see your sky too.


It’s possible that you may have gathered from this little blog that I can get a little obsessive about stuff. I realized last night, as I cast on the back to sweater that is trying to kill me…by the way, see that? I started the sweater, I cast it on, I invented the stupid pattern, I made the outrageous deadline, I am out of my mind…but the minute that things aren’t going my way, it’s not that I am doing this to myself…oh no. The sweater is trying to kill me. Not my fault. Externalization is a very important part of my process. Sorry, I digress. Last night, as I cast on the back of the sweater (that is trying to kill me) for the seventh time, I had a thought.
I may be stupid. I cast on the 118 stitches for the back. I knit across the row cackling to myself and generally feeling good about my cleverness. (An aside again? Never feel good about your cleverness. Self esteem is an offence to the knitting goddess. She will slap you down until your yarn is frayed and you are a grovelling shadow of your former self. I have learned this and I am humbled.) What cleverness? This:
This is one of the ways in which I torture myself. I have a smallish fixation on ribbing. I like it to be integrated into the pattern. I like sweaters to have wholeness. A flow…the cables and such must seamlessly issue from the ribbing. This means that the ribbing is seldom Knit 2, Purl 2. That would be easy. That would be an offence to my tender knitting sensibilities. That would be a way in which I could just freaking knit a sweater from a book without needing to invent one so that my sweater wouldn’t have forsaken, ridiculous ribbing that nobody could ever get right. That would be ribbing that you could just knit instead of having to write it all down on a big piece of paper and doing all this math so that if even one person/phone/cat interrupts you, even just by looking at you for one stinking second the whole thing doesn’t go completely in the crapper so you have to start all over. Oh no…I wouldn’t want regular ribbing. So I’m knitting across the cast on edge, fixating on getting the bizarre ribbing exactly right and I get to the other side and there are 8 stitches left over.
I rip it back and redo. Same result.
Now, a smarter lesser knitter would have rechecked her math. Another knitter would have gone back and recounted the front of the sweater (which is the template for the back) to see if the instructions that she had written out were accurate. A knitter who could learn from experience would have thought about how she failed grade 10 math several times and that it is likely the counting and math that is wrong. Am I this knitter? No.
I rip back and redo, using the same numbers. (We shall not discuss that I was interrupted during this process several times by people who want things. Like a whisk. I’m sitting at the dining room table with yarn, pencil, paper and needles, intently staring at my knitting with a papable air of concentration. Do I look l like I have a whisk?) Same result. I try again. (Yes. I do. I know. Freud said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I know.) Same result, except for the fact that I am thinking about using foul language. (That’s a lie. I used it. Ken was here and reprimanded me for my potty mouth in front of the children. I refused to apologize. The situation demanded a choice expletive and I am not sorry. There is a time and a place for everything and if you can’t curse at a sweater that is obviously trying to wreck your trip to Rhinebeck…well. I just don’t know when the appropriate time is.)
Please note…by now, I have cast the despicable sweater back on several times. Several. I go get a beer and I sit down and look at the stupid sweater. What is my problem? I decide, very grudgingly to accept the vague possibility that I have not counted the stitches properly. I try again. Count with me…
That’s right. Shoot me. I was only counting the knit stitches of the rib on the edges. Completely blocking the purls. I have it right now. The back will proceed. I have been punished for externalizing and using colourful language directed at the sweater. The universe has exacted a full days knitting time as revenge. I will try to learn. I am sorry now.
I gave up completely and took a bath. It made me feel hugely better to take this with me.
Two Random Acts of Kindness, right when I needed them. Anne sent the mitten book, and the lovely Jennifer sent wine glass charms and bath salts. Many thanks ladies! I took a glass of wine into the bath and read about my beloved mittens.
I feel better.
Stupid sweater.

Hope springs eternal.

I’m out of my mind. I know that this is not news to any of you…but I live in a special and delightful world of denial. I wake up every day, having learned nothing at all from the previous 24 hours and proceed to make all the same mistakes again. Here are some things that I can’t seem to get through my head.
-Every single morning when I wake up, I do so believing that this is the day that I am going to catch up on the laundry. I believe this fully and with satisfaction. The fact that I have never…every been caught up on the laundry, not once in my whole adult life does not deter me from thinking that this is the day that it all comes together. Every night when I have once again failed completely, I am shocked. (Note to self: Give up. Please. Before you hurt yourself.)
– I persist in thinking that a birthday party with seven 13 year old girls is going to be “just fine”, and “not much work”. (Megan’s birthday is in August, but we always have her party later when school is back in) I even thought that I would sit and knit while they did their thing. Astonishing. Instead the shrieking, giggling, gaggle of pubescent girls ate, danced, and screamed their way through my sanity and a whole whack of food.
-I am a dork. I left the party full of whacked out teenyboppers Megan’s friends to go to the Knit Wit launch party at Lettuce Knit. (Sorry Joe). When I told one of Megan’s buddies that I was going to a party for a book about knitting, she laughed out loud. I am a dork. I don’t know why I forget this. Any attempts to convince your average 13 year old urban girl that knitting is cool will be met with open mocking, pointing and laughing. It is also possible that they sneered. I can’t prove it.
Hey Amy? When I came back with the book, one of the girls looked it over and said “I guess some of this knitting is ok”. I know this sounds like dull praise. It is not. Remember the mocking. These girls are merciless and quick. They tolerate Megan’s knitting because she is so cool that the occasional uncool action can be forgiven. I however, am a mother in my 30s. Everything about me is uncool. You should see my pants, it’s a wonder I’m allowed to leave the house. The very fact that a 13 year old girl could look at superdork-mother-me, standing there, holding a knitting book… and somehow find a way to agree with me on any level, about anything, for any period of time? Well. The knitting in this book must be cool enough to transcend the 13 year old girl-geek filter. Congratulations and yes, the silken is not scritchy. You are right.)
-I think I knit much faster than I do. I have finished one sleeve and a front.
I am currently casting on the back for the fourth time, due to a string of moronic counting mistakes. Yes. Counting. The fates are not with me.

One of a kind

Yesterday I was picking up in Megan and Sam’s room (well, not really “picking up” picking up would imply that I was sort of tidying. In reality, I was kicking a path to the dressers to put away their clean clothes and tossing anything recognizable as dirty clothes into laundry bins) when I noticed that there are all these little post-it-notes all over the room. On the dresser, on the wall, stuck to the end of the bunkbed and to the back of the door. There are even a couple stuck to the floor ,where you can see floor. They read:
One of a kind
I asked Meg and Sam about them, and they told me that these notes are part of “The Plan”. (As an aside, I’ve always thought the children had a plan. They act in concert too convincingly for all of it to be a coincidence. I mean, think about it. Only serious planning accounts for their ability to tag-team me into insanity each day. Do you really believe for a minute that when all three of your children come downstairs after bedtime, one every five minutes for a solid hour and thirty-five minutes, while maintaining a strict rotation…that it wasn’t preplanned? Drink of water my arse. It’s a plan. I knew it.)
“The Plan?” I ask…trying to play it cool, if I act too eager they will know that I’ve known about the plan all along and they won’t reveal their cunning goal. (Joe claims they are trying to get the house. I feel that it is something much darker).
“Yeah, our Plan to become something” Meg says. “Every time we come into our room we remember what we want to end up as”.
I’m stunned. Simply stunned. I’ll pause here while we all appreciate the rewards of motherhood, actually…wait, I’ll throw in another load of laundry and pick the underwear up off the kitchen floor while you all appreciate the rewards of motherhood. There are days (admittedly, most of them are while you are picking underwear up of the kitchen floor while realizing that you no longer wonder how it was that underwear got to be on the kitchen floor) that you wonder why you are in this racket after all. Last night wasn’t like that.
This morning Meg went off to school wearing a shawl. Not a poncho, like every other kid in her school, but a shawl.
One of a kind. (The kid and the shawl)
Just to prove that I’m making good time…
the second mitten is half done, and…
The almost finished left front of the Rhinebeck Sweater (which SO needs a better name). Not even breaking a sweat yet, and I dropped a line to Aunt Maggie in Newfoundland, and she’s sending two more skeins. Furthermore, she’s sending them quickly. (I may love Aunt Maggie.)