Copping out.

Your local Yarn Harlot is a busy bee today, so I’ll be copping out of the blogging a little bit, just enough to give me most of the day to work. Here’s the Mitten status…



Janet says:

My heart is beating wildly just looking at those beautiful mittens! Are they 10d, graph 107? Pleeeeease disclose the yarn you’re using, or recommend. I’m just about to order from “The Wooly West”. I have all the books but have been frozen with fear that I’ll never be able to knit such beautiful mittens, so haven’t yet attempted any!

As a result of my apparent inability to knit anything exactly the way that I’m told, the mittens are actually a mix of a couple of graphs from “Latvian Mittens”. I cast on and used the scallops from the beginning of the mittens in chapter five from the village of Kurzeme. Then I used graph 107/ 10d (good eye there Janet), then I did a yarnover braid in black from “Folk Knitting in Estonia” then launched into the top part of graph 71. See that? Mixed my Baltic states and charts and was not pelted with hailstones or struck by lighting. Be not afraid.

I’m using 2mm needles, part Patons Kroy yarn and part Sisu yarn.

Beth says:

Do not stop with the mittens! I am finally getting inspired to try something like that, and your photos keep encouraging me….so what do you suggest for a simple-ish first-timer type colorwork project?

I like mittens (no kidding Steph…) for first timers. They are small, work up relatively quickly and are beautiful and useful. How about one of the larger gauge two colour mittens in Folk Mittens? The Selbu Mittens (oh…go look here…Caroline knit them) look like they wouldn’t cost you your sanity on the way. Can’t promise you that you won’t curse, drink heavily or invoke my name with foul epithets attached….but they look safe. Just promise me you’ll use wool. It makes colourwork much easier.

Finally, I leave you with this.


The first computer sock is almost finished. This is proof that I still knit other things (though it would appear that I’ve decided to limit my repertoire to things for extremities. Somebody come over here and give me a serious whupping if I even look like I’m thinking about a Latvian willie warmer, will ya?) and that I’m spending an alarming amount of time in front of the computer.

I tried to post my 100 things about me list, but got freaked out. Do we love or hate those lists?

Grab her DPNs

Before we get on with any knitting business I have a little message. If you live here with me, in this house, could you please put your dishes IN the dishwasher instead of ON the dishwasher? You know how you all do that? Putting the dirty dishes on the counter directly above the dishwasher so that even though everyone took the dishes from the table there is still a little job for Mummy? I realize that if you all put your dishes IN instead of ON said dishwasher, I will be left out of the process of getting dishes into the dishwasher. I am ok with that. It is the same distance from the table to IN the dishwasher as it is from the table to ON the dishwasher. No reasonable person would do this (never mind a whole family) without some sort of plan. This tells me that you don’t want to hurt my feelings or damage family unity by taking me completely out of dirty dish management. I thank you all deeply for your concern for my happiness and sense of belonging, but I want you all to know that you can put your dishes in the stinking dishwasher without crushing my fragile spirit. Okey Dokey?

I finished the Estonian mittens


and thought to myself: Well there. Those are done. I should knit something else. I should break up the Estonian Mitten Monotony with something different. The people who read the blog will appreciate that. Shake things up a bit. So I put on my thinking cap, (well, metaphorically speaking. We’ve already discussed the appallingly phallic impression that my head gives when hats are placed on it. The thinking cap here is implied.) I dragged yarn out of the stash. I took out 20 books and a whack of leaflets and a whole bunch of graph paper and all sorts of knitterly junk. Then I spent a really long time making little swatches and stuff, and rushing about the house explaining things to the people that live here (they love this part. I can tell) saying things like “What do you think? See the double moss stich? How about the stitch definition. No, no, you’re right. Don’t even answer. The red was better. Just give me a minute.” While all of them looked at me like I was an annoyance, except I’m the annoyance paying the bills and buying them food so they can’t mouth off or maybe I won’t make dinner. (The burn here is that because I was so preoccupied with the yarn games I declared it “Find your own Food Friday” and didn’t cook anyway. Suckers.)

Then, when I had finally come to a conclusion, having trashed all wool containment zones, swatched some really lovely things, selected several excellent patterns, filled all tables and stayed up too late….


I cast on Latvian Mittens.

I’m so sorry. Do you all hate it when I get like this? I mean, mitten after mitten after mitten..obsessively turning out handwear like some sort of crisis is coming and all that will save our mortal souls will be the mittens that I have knit? Some sort of weird hand freezing disease that can only be helped by the immediate application of hand knit culturally expressive mittens. (Imagine that? “Doctor…she’s not going to make it, her hands are like ice and the Walmart mittens aren’t helping. It seems like the elastic thread and sparkles are making it worse… I think we need to get Latvian Mittens, or …at least something Baltic. Watch the acrylic content and hurry!”) I mean, I’ve knit the Latvian mittens, the Thrummed mittens, the Estonian mittens, the Fleece Artist Mittens…oh wait…then I really broke out of the box and started thinking about Spiderman mittens. (Check me. Living on the edge. Don’t mess with me. I know how to mix it up).

Don’t you ever click on the blog and look at all the mittens and wonder? Do you all meet up for coffee and have conversations about when I used to knit other things and how fun that was and perhaps discuss some kind of intervention to get hold of the whole Mitten Thing. Then everyone puts their coffee down and you all make a big plan. Rams and Laurie will wait for me when I’m coming out of the yarn shop. I’ll be happy and relaxed and easy to take down. Then Claudia and Silvia will take me to a small room with no DPNs in it and Bonne Marie will be there and she’ll have her patterns with her and she’ll talk to me for hours about fashion and trends and while stylish knitters weep quietly in the corner. Sandy will be there, frightened and desperately clutching her mittens while Ryan tries to get them away from her and Norma says “Look at Stephanie, look at her! Is that how you want to end up? Is it? The mittens aren’t worth it, PUT DOWN THE MITTENS.” After hours and hours I finally agree to forget about gussets and thumb closures and knit Rogue or Butterfly or something that everyone agrees is Ok and I limp off shaky and weak and….you can all imagine it so clearly. The whole plan is worked out and then somebody brings chocolate biscotti and you all decide to let it go for another day, since nobody really wants to go to Toronto this time of year anyhow. Do you all say to yourselves, “Well, it has to stop soon. I mean, how many mittens can she knit? Nobody can be that obsessive. I’m sure she’s almost done. ”

Doesn’t anyone ever feel like sending me an email that says something like “Dear Stephanie; For the love of God. KNIT A HAT. ”

Just asking.


My four year old nephew Hank is four and a half, and he’s starting to show an interest in knitting. Not just having knitted stuff, but actual knitting. Hank has realized that knitting is transformative. You take yarn, wave sticks about, make motions with your hands and presto-chango (ok. That makes it sound fast. Sorry) you have something else. To his four-year old mind that makes knitting pretty interesting. Naturally, some of the details of this transformative process are lost on him. A perfect example is the following:


Hank: Auntie Steppie (I love that he says Steppie. I really, really hate when people call me Stephie, but Steppie get’s me.) before I come back to your house, could you take this Knittening and make me a pink hat?

The knittening in question, (Gotta say….the use of “knittening” for yarn? Darned cute. I understand that little children are constructed by mother nature for maximum cuteness, and that it is a manipulative thing, designed to keep us feeding them and sheltering them instead of leaving the sleep-depriving sticky little parasites in the forest somewhere, but “knittening”? Even the most cynical of mothers has to fall for that. It’s like the smell of a new babies head. I know it’s pheromones designed to entice me to hold a baby close for warmth….but it’s all I can do not to sniff other peoples infants.)

the knittening for the pink hat, is this.


Get it? Transformative indeed. Not only will the magic act of knittening turn the yarn into a hat, but it can change it into a PINK hat. Clearly the more subtle nuances of knittening are lost on my little dude. Nevertheless, he is enchanted, and he is almost ready to knit.

My paternal grandmother was not what would traditionally be considered “kind”. Fine. She wasn’t what would really be untraditionally considered “kind” either. It’s not that she was mean or a bad person or anything like that, it’s just that she was very, very joyless and conservative and….pretty much the opposite of everything that I have ever been for even one moment of my life. She and I wouldn’t agree on vegetables or little kids or what grass was for or anything. Not one single atom of family similarity between us. I don’t look like her, I don’t think like her and I still believe that she held it against me that I wasn’t one of those nifty “grandsons” that you hear so much about. The fact that we shared some sort of DNA was boggling to both of us. Neither she nor I would have been shocked if a mobile genetics testing lab had swooped down into her Willowdale backyard, separated us with electric cattle prods and explained that they couldn’t let the charade go on for one second longer.

Except for one thing. She was a professional knitter. Nana taught me to knit when I was four, right after I learned to read. It was her belief that (and I quote) “If you can do something as hard as read, you can do something as simple as knit.”

(Just so you know? The irony that 30 years later virtually every moment of my life is focussed on the one thing this most unlike-able of women actually loved doing is not lost on me. )

She was right. I mean, think about it. Being able to code and encode 26 letters into a myriad of ever-developing complex word structures that have a variety of pronunciations and meanings ..VS.. learning two stitches, knit and purl. C’mon. The old bat My grandmother was right.

My girls leaned to knit when they could read and now that Hank is thinking about reading, I’m coming up with a plan. The key is going to be keeping his interest high. I must keep him thinking that knitting is so cool that I’m virtually certain that Spiderman knits. (Hello…where do you think the webs come from?) So far, my approach has been to knit him really, really cool things therefore leaving him with the desire to produce said cool objects himself. It’s not a bad plan, though the four-year old threshold for coolness is elusive and mysterious. Four year olds are fickle, conniving, vacillating and as mercurial as the wind. Emotional investments in knitted objects for the very young is an enormous mistake (I once had a pair of Mouse mittens briefly rejected because one of the mice – not both, ONE of the mice looked angry) and one must only take the sure things, and take them lightly. One false move with a Blues Clues sweater and the whole thing could be in the crapper.

Therefore, in the interest of creating a knitter…I ask you to help me find the “sure thing”, the wave of certainty, the vagrant, elusive, never-say-die, cool factor for a four year old boy and tell me…..


How would you make this Knittening into Spiderman mittens?

Raising the roof

Ok. It’s cold. There was even snow yesterday and today, but yesterday the snow only met the conditions for “level one snow”. Level one snow flies about, looks like snow but does not accumulate. Level one snow makes children happy and makes you feel a little festive, but it is not, I repeat, it is not REAL SNOW.

Today we had level two snow. Level two snow is characterized by the following criteria.

– it is accompanied by cold severe enough to make you look for a hat, if you had not already done so, having been spooked by dumb level one snow. Note: If I’m telling you to look for a hat then I’m pretty cold. Hats, all hats, make me look phallic. Do not tell me that I have not yet met/knit/tried the right hat. It is all hats. I have witnesses who can attest to the incredible unflattering effect that hats have on me. If I’m looking for a hat it is because I think that loosing my ears to frostbite would only make me look more phallic. It’s about the lesser of evils.

-it causes a little fleeting depression as you realize that winter really is going to happen again this year and that it’s really only a matter of days until you are freezing yourself stupid everywhere you go and wiping up melted snow all over the house while you try to get around in level 4-5 or 6 snow for the next five months.

-the defining difference between level one and two snow is that level two snow stays on the ground. Should you encounter level two snow you will hear Canadians say this. “Yup, look at that. It’s staying on the ground.” So defining is this characteristic, that Canadians will ask each other this question to determine snow seriousness. “Is it staying on the ground?”.

-finally, level two snow is accompanied by general panic for me, as I must say….



Sorry. I’m a little worried. Jean is back on my roof, freezing his arse off and trying to…well, make SOME KIND OF A ROOF. ( I know that it looks like I might have a roof in this picture. That would be an illusion. That roof is just some boards laid across the thing. That thing is to a real roof what Martha Stewart is to Erma Bombeck. Not real). Sorry. I’ll take a deep breath. It’s just that it’s so cold and yesterday it rained and all I can see are the BIG OPEN PARTS TO MY HOUSE.

It’s ok. There’s a door between the back room and the kitchen. That should stop the level two snow from piling up on the DINNER PLATES and leave only the bitter arctic wind and aching vicious cold. I know that Jean is working as fast as he can, and this is really a part time thing for him. He’s a full time carpenter, but he’s a friend of the family and is doing us a favour, so it’s not like I can STAPLE GUN HIM TO THE BACK OF MY HOUSE. Sorry. It’s the stress. Jean helped Joe and my brother install my entire new kitchen a few years ago and I paid him with three pairs of hand knit socks. Seriously.


I showed him the Estonian Mittens. Maybe we can cut some kind of a deal.

(Please don’t tell him that the deal I’m thinking is that he makes the back of my house back into THE BACK OF A HOUSE and I will knit him anything he wants for the rest of his life without question or regret. I’m too vulnerable.)

The computer sock (I highly recommend this method of Christmas knitting. The sock sits there and whenever I’m reading email or waiting for things to load or …well, thinking, I pick it up and do a few stitches. A sock a week, for sure. ) is bigger.


You can sneak knitting into everything. The key is for me to avoid Christmas knitting panic. Slow and steady wins the race. No need for things to get ugly. Right?

I finished the second skein of grey laceweight. It came out to be 130m. Together with the other skein it’s a grand total of 320m.


I’m really pleased. I was especially proud last night when I asked Megan to pass Ken the handspun and she said “This one? The soft one?”

Hear that? SOFT. I’m thrilled. My clutching, overcontrolled spinning style often leads to very fine yarn that is like wire, but this is soft. Really soft.

Happy thanksgiving to all my American friends. (Note to Canadians: why don’t we have any holidays on a Thursday? All of ours are on Mondays. Do you realize that this means that they are getting 4 days off? We need some changes.) Before you give thanks today for the incredible over-abundance we enjoy, why don’t you click on by Deb’s or Wendy’s and contribute to their Knitbloggers drive for Heifer International. It will make your dinner taste better. (If you are Canadian click there too, the warm fuzzy glow it gives you will take the edge off the snow and arse numbing cold. If you are from somewhere warmer…well, just do it. It’s good for you.)

A knitter has needs.

I may not survive my daughters adolescence.

Despite my girls being really very good, self-respecting girls with high self-esteem, from time to time it feels becomes necessary to give lectures on the fickleness of teenaged boys and explain that you can’t really worry about not being what boys say they want, and just because *someone* doesn’t like you the way you are does not mean that you should try to change everything about yourself before tomorrow because tomorrow the fickle arse will say that he wants something else and that the best thing to do is to just be yourself because all that they really want is….well, trust me. I attempted to convey that teenage boys have an, er….narrow focus. Boys have *needs* and they are driven to act on them. I’m trying to block out the part where, in a fit of motherly malcontentment, desperate to a) be cool b) convey my deep feelings about female solutions to male problems at this age and c) in my rush to explain the deep, complex, innermost workings of the male adolescent mind I accidentally blurted taught my teenaged daughters the phrase “choking the chicken”. (Big mother points there. Big points. Just kill me. Never mind. I’ll knit a noose.) During this first horrific phase of the conversation, I discovered that if I have these kinds of stressful conversations with my daughters I spin very quickly.


That there is 190 metres of Laurie’s Moorit spun and plied into 24 wpi yarn. I’ve spun about half of what she sent, so there will probably be about double this when I’m done.

As I attempted to recover my equilibrium and discuss rationally the issue that boys have *needs* and there is nothing really wrong with that but it certainly has nothing to do with you….I felt the need for a good stiff drink the second Estonian mitten.


Nothing like an Estonian braid festival to take the edge off.

I further pressed my point that having *needs* is normal and healthy and that nobody, even girls should worry about feeling that they may have some *needs*, but that when you are very young and you cannot possibly deal with the consequences of acting on *needs* in any way…no matter how much the young couple in question really, really love each other and even if they know in her their hearts that they will be together forever…none of these young children people should act on these *needs* in any way but the most ….er, private of ways, and that that is what I really meant with the whole chicken thing and I didn’t mean to be crass but that it’s really All. So. Clear.

Desperate to avoid any further conversation about being your own best friend normal human behaviour I explained further about the consequences of *needs* while knitting this sock


and feeling some *needs* to knit a wire chastity belt, I settled for beginning another sock (and contemplating how if we could just teach everyone to channel frustration into hobbies we wouldn’t need to have days like this)


which will be kept by the computer as the world swirls darkly and I surf “How to talk to your teen” sites. Somebody shut me up next time.


Lene can’t get enough lists, so today there is another.

These are true confessions, bits of business and pieces of flotsam.

1. My house is so messy right now that I am starting to think that when the doorbell rings I should lie down on the floor under my desk and be very still and quiet and pretend not to be here. The combination of the renovation, work, the flu and, well….my natural talent for really not giving a crap about housework has reached critical mass. Something must be done. There is a compound mitre saw in the dining room.

2. I absolutely must reign in the mess on the dining room table. There is a mountain of yarn. A mountain. There are pattern books, leaflets, excel spreadsheets (You didn’t think I could pull off this much Christmas knitting without a spreadsheet…did you?) needles, notes and boxes. A little bit ago Judith (the original) asked Is that your dining room table, underneath your nouveau stash? How come it’s NOT O.K. to pile it with electronic thingummies, but yarn is allowed? Don’t bother – I have enjoyed your blog long enough to have worked out the answer. “

I hope so. The answer is that we have a complete double standard. I may trash my home in any way that I want to, with any objects I would like to, and may leave aforesaid mess there with absolute impunity. Joe may not.

This is because I clean up my messes and Joe does not.

(Besides, yarn is artistic and environment enhancing while electronics are stupid).

3. After an extremely careful and scientific process of randomization, (Sam pulled names of a hat)


Denny has won the scarf from Afghanistan. Cool eh? (I know you can’t read the name on that paper. I have a 10 year old witness who will say it says “Denny”. We must try not to think about how much Sam loves Denny and trust that my 10 year old can run a decent law-abiding scarf draw.)

4. The mitten is finished,


AND I actually wove in the ends instead of just carefully placing them inside the knitted object so everyone who reads the blog would think that I wove them in when really I didn’t. I do that. It’s blog pressure. I can’t take it.

5. Norma is pulling a Sandy and wants us to show her our favourite cookery book:



6. Tuesdays are for spinning but I cut loose and spun on Monday. See that? I care nothing for the rules. This is some awesome Moorit that Laurie (yes, that Laurie) sent me.


It was so beautiful that I couldn’t wait until Tuesday.

She said that I should be able to spin it as thinly as I wanted, and she was right. It will be about a million metres of laceweight when I’m done.

I love spinning yarn so fine that it makes me squinty. I’ll show you the squinty wee yarn tomorrow because the picture I took sucks so badly that I can’t put it on the blog.

7. When Norma got a postcard from Nathania in Italy I was totally jealous. I wouldn’t have said anything, but I did sort of think about how I wished that I got a postcard too. I also wouldn’t ever say that I sort of thought to myself “Well. We can see the way things really are, can’t we”. Then I spent a good long time convincing myself that I didn’t really care if I got a postcard from a woman I have never really met, and wishing Norma well and hoping that Nathania was having a really good time (It certainly sounded like it on Norma’s postcard) and letting go of petty small feelings and wishing for peace and happiness in the world.

Today I got this,


and feel compelled to confess that I am FREAKING THRILLED. (I also feel compelled to phone Norma and dance a little bit, but that would be wrong. Satisfying….but wrong).

9. Margene is comitting herself to a Yarn Non-Buying Agreement. YNBA.

Monica has even provided a song. I want to join. I need some control. I little yarn-non-buying might take the edge off the stash. I like the idea of making a little room, saving some money and actually using all the really great yarns that are in the stash. I mean, it’s not like the stash is junk yarn. The stash is made up of yarns that I own for a reason. (Well, except for the Dump Yarn. You know about Dump Yarn…right?) There was a time when each and every ball of yarn in the stash was cherished, wanted and procured with a purpose. I want to recapture that feeling. I thought about signing up, putting the YNBA button on the blog….then it hit me. I can’t join.

What if I need to buy yarn?

Clearly, I need to spend a little time with the concept.

All Hail Nancy

Nancy Bush is a goddess walking the earth as woman. She is my hero. Well, she is my knitting hero. I mean, it’s not like she saved me from a burning building or pulled my baby from an exploding car. She did however, save me from limping, soporific knitting ennui.

The Top Ten Reasons Why Nancy Bush Is So Cool That I Can Hardly Stand It.

10. She wrote Folk Socks. I’ve been knitting my buddy Ken a pair of socks from this book every Christmas for a while. If you read this book then you will come to love and appreciate the humble sock in a way that you can only imagine now. Socks will take on a meaning so profound that sometimes, when you get dressed in the morning and you go to pull your socks on, you will pause for a moment and think…Thanks Nancy. I swear that after this book you will want to discuss gussets with me. I know that in your wildest dreams you cannot picture yourself finding gussets so interesting that you would want to phone someone long distance and talk only about them, but you will. (We will have to discuss the many and beautiful heel treatments in another call. There will only be time for gussets in the first call).

9. Nancy wrote the pattern for the single most beautiful pair of socks I have ever knitted.


Be still my heart. (The pattern is in Folk Socks, I tell you this so that you may know the joy that I have had.)

8. Nancy wrote the pattern for the only sock pattern I have ever happily knit twice. (It is, not coincidentally, the sock above.) Please note that this is not the only sock pattern I have ever knit twice, just the only one that I have knit twice without getting that feeling that comes over you when you turn on the tv and see that “Dirty Dancing” is on for the 900 thousandth time.

7. I have never had to pour myself an alcoholic beverage as a result of an unfortuanate *misunderstanding* with one of her patterns, despite the fact that they are, at times, er… complex. Likewise, I have never emailed her my opinion of an instruction at 3am after trying the alcoholic beverage to resolve the pattern issue first.

6. I have never found an error in Folk Socks, and I’ve knit most of the patterns in the book. This is stunning. This alone is enough to make me think about baking Nancy a cake and writing her name on it.

5. Margene sent me Folk Knitting in Estonia . I had no idea about the Estonians. How did I go this long without knowing how Estonians knit? It’s gripping I tell you, gripping. You know that lovely idea that every knitter gets from time to time? You know, about how all over the world knitters are engaged in the same activity, bonded by our common love, all casting on something…united by our common act of knitting? Wrong. The Estonians are not knitting like me. I have nothing in common with them. They are doing a whole other thing. (Well, they were. I’m doing it now too…) Check it out.


I learned a new decrease, a new cast on, a new braid and a whole new stitch. I swear it. After 30 years of pretty darned adventurous knitting, I learned 4 things that I had never even entertained the concept of. Oh Nancy, you have given me so much. (I’m sure that Joe would also like to thank you for the portion of his evening spent with me showing him mittens and following him around the house explaining a “half-wick increase”. I was excited).

4. I leaned the Kihnu Troi double cast on. Just say that to yourself for a while. Now look at it.


I understand if you need a few moments.

3. Bud stitch.


I’m telling you, Nancy Bush has been trekking around Estonia, learning knitting stuff and writing it down in a way that makes it accessible and interesting to a knitter in Toronto who thought she knew it all. Nancy Bush is a blow to the ego and I like it.

2. Nancy Bush does thumbs like me. Here we have the thumb stitches “held” on waste yarn and I’ve picked up the stitches above and below before ever so delicately pulling out the waste stitches. I pick them up first because I have never gotten over my fear that when I pull out the waste yarn, something bad will happen. Something really bad. Worse than unravelling.


The fact that someone as clever as Nancy Bush does thumbs like me validates my entire thumb approach. I was thinking about other thumb-ways. Not anymore. Anything thumb that’s good enough for Nancy is good enough for me. C’mon, think about it. She’s been to Estonia and still does it this way? That means something.

1. Nancy has been afforded The Yarn Harlot’s highest accolade several times. Not once, not twice…but three times I have knit one of her patterns exactly as written. I have not changed the cast on, I have not mocked her choice of toe. I have not mumbled about the lame decreases and bitterly inserted the superior decrease of my own choosing while adding another centimetre to the ribbing because she has no sense for it.

I have knit them exactly as she suggested, and I have not thought there could be any improvement at all.

When I grow up I want to be Nancy Bush.

I am also experiencing deep and lovely feelings for Jéan, I think Joe loves him too. Why, you ask?


Oh yeah. I get a little weak in the knees just seeing him up there.

A Change…

is as good as a rest. Isn’t that the saying? I woke up yesterday morning, made coffee and realized (with that first sip of coffee kind of clarity) that I hated everything that I was knitting with an unholy stinking passion. I loathed it. The new stripy socks? Lame. The blue socks that disappointed me with their variegated randomness? (I still think that yarn looks like it would stripe.) The Morehouse Merino that disappointed me with it’s lack of variegated randomness? Gone, gone, gone.

(By the way? I know. I said that I was pissy with the Morehouse for not being random then I trashed the blue socks for being random. I’m a complex knitter. It is best not to think about these things too much. Personally, I try not to cloud the issues with facts and logic).

I can’t even tell you what went wrong. I can tell you that I have knitting needs and my project load wasn’t cutting it. I’ve had some stress this last week. I’ve been ill, work would have reduced a lesser woman to gibbering idiot status and just for good measure: Have you SEEN the back of my house?

For those of you still wondering, hope was renewed in my heart last night, when some supplies were procured for the room. Encouraging, isn’t it?


(Please do not dash this hope. Supplies are a good sign and my heart is full. I am fragile and my happiness is dependent on carefully constructed delusions.)

So yesterday I took all of this anxiety, stress and knitterly dissatisfaction and I did the only thing that a reasonable knitter would do. I shoved all my current projects into the back of the linen closet and I went to the yarn shop.


Good thinking. Yes? This pile of yarn is destined to become Christmas things and is part of a larger plan. The larger plan looks like this.


I feel better. I have decided that stress demands a return to the most under-realized anti-anxiety project known to knit-kind.

The Latvian Mitten. That’s right. I know that its complex patterning and evil little braids would make it seem as though it cannot help, that it would only promote further anxiety cursing and deterioration, but it does not. You see, the Latvian mitten is all consuming. One cannot think while knitting the mitten. You cannot worry while knitting the mitten. You must be one with the mitten, see only the mitten and sink deeply into the mitten or you cannot knit it. It demands focus. It demands single mindedness. The mitten is a respite from the world. I will knit the mittens, and I will know peace.

Having realized this, I took all of my mitten yarn, all of my patterns and my new-found Zen mitten realization and I cast on…..


Something else. A thousand curses.

It’s a disease.


Surprises abound here at Chez Harlot today.

1. Check out the beautiful scarves that Tish mailed as a special thank you for the Afghan sewing up business.


They were sent from Afghanistan by Tish’s sister Jenny, who is serving in the armed forces there. Beautiful, yes? I have a real love for things from far away places, and these are exotic and cool. There are also two of them, so as per Tish’s suggestion, I’ll be putting all the names of the sewer-up-ers into a hat (or bowl or something…don’t fence me in) and selecting a happy recipient. (She sent them to Ann and Kay too…generous, isn’t she?).

2. I have developed a huge case of Startitis. (That, I assure you, is not the surprise.) The surprise came when I discovered that I don’t have the right yarn in the stash for a pair of mittens. Who knew that was even possible? I mean, knowing what you do of my stash, would you think that there was even the scrawniest possibility that I wouldn’t have a wee little bit of the right kind of yarn? It’s not like it’s a sweater or an afghan or something really big where it would be presumed that the stash *might* offer limited choices. It’s mittens. Stunning.

3. There have been some surprising comments on the blog in it’s lifespan. Like when Meg Swansen left a comment, or even yesterday when the guy who wrote my favourite little blogging interface App. Ecto (he called it an App., so I am too. I want to be cool) left a comment. Still, nothing prepared me for late yesterday when I checked my email and discovered that The Mysterious K had left a comment. You read that right. The Mysterious K read my blog. (If you don’t know who TMK is, get right over to Ryan’s place and read up.) She doesn’t even knit. What an honour.

4. This yarn,


Knit up like this.



5. This yarn:


Knit up like this.


I know! Shocking, isn’t it? I mean, who was ready for that? Didn’t you think it would stripe? Didn’t ya? This is why I love knitting. 30 years at it and it’s still just a bag of surprises. You think you know a thing or two about yarn and then Whammo..right out of left field you get that kind of stupefying result.

Every once in a while it’s like finding a stack of magazines under your kids bed, bracing yourself, pulling them out and discovering that it’s a huge stack of “Angler Alive” or something. Weird.

Flashing, pooling and puddling

Yesterday in the comments, Dana asked…

Is there a difference between these: Pooling, flashing and puddling? In knitting, I mean?

Yup. I think so anyway, but I tend to over analyse. Pooling and puddling are simliar, with your overly picky Harlot differentiating them by shape.


Remember the Lorna’s Laces sock I had trouble with? It’s showing symptoms of both Flashing (The part that looks like it’s shaped like lightning) and pooling, which is when the colours stack up on top of each other for a good long time. (Look at Barbara’s Interweave Knits “Pooling colors scarf”) Puddling is when you end up with isolated areas of colour. If you could call it a blotch, I’d probably call it a puddle.

Keep in mind that just because I don’t like these effects, they aren’t all bad. Some knitters love ’em, and there’s tons of information out there on getting yarn to do this (I can’t hardly believe it) on purpose.

Kim has an excellent example of “flashing” here, along with all of the infomation you could ever want about it. Elaine pointed this awesome site out to me, and I highly recommend it for anyone seeking a higher understanding of variegated yarns.

Me? I might be developing an avoidance pattern.


I know nothing of the mystic ways of computers. I tried to take a quiz last week to see how much of a geek I was. It turns out that I am so ungeeky that I couldn’t even understand the questions. (Terminals? What do I look like, an airport?) All I know how to do is work my simple little bloggy software. If it gets any more complicated than that then either Ken handles it, or there is a struggle of epic proportions between the computer and I while I writhe slowly up the learning curve. It’s never pretty – or successful, for that matter.

That’s why, when Joe announced last night that he was “Upgrading” our operating system, I knew what he meant. I’m not a dummy. I’ve been around the block. I know what “Upgrade” means. “Upgrade” means Joe is going to do something to the computer which will result in there being a period of time during which the computer will choose random functions that it will no longer do. The computer will be completely crippled by the Upgrade, and Joe will deny this. Joe will maintain that things are better. Joe will think this because Joe is blinded by the actual meaning of the word “Upgrade”.

I beg Joe not to do the Upgrade. I tell him I can’t cope with the seizures that the computer has when you Upgrade it. I tell him that I really think that things are good the way they are. We’re happy, aren’t we? Do we really need bigger, better things all the time? Can’t we ever be satisfied? I ask him to walk away. He doesn’t. He has a mitt full for the CDs that have something horrible on them called “Panther”, and he looks pretty excited.

This morning, the computer has been Upgraded. Things are….a little bit different. My mail is different. There are new buttons. I don’t know what they do…but I tell you this. I don’t like them. I don’t like the look of them. When I click on an email from Norma, the screen shows me all of Norma’s emails. Did I ask for that? Did I say, Hey, you know what would be good? If every single time I asked for you to show me an email, if you would like, do this STROBE thing reshufffling all of my emails to show me what else I have, even though I don’t care, at all, and in fact even resent it in a hostile fuming way and if you would make sure that you don’t call this function anything that has a name that makes sense so I could SHUT IT OFF. Yeah. That would be good. Upgrade my ARSE you piece of plastic microchipped glowing crap.

The font on everything, even though it claims to be exactly the same, is a little bit different. (Upgrading makes the computer tell filthy smarmy lies). This gives me the rather odd feeling that I am not seeing properly, and leaves me wondering (in an abstract but very disturbing way) if I am having a stroke. Buttons and Icons are in the wrong spots, and I am clicking on the wrong things. In a 20 minute argument with my email program this morning (during which I foamed at the mouth and screamed obscene plans for those responsible for this Upgrade to be sorry for everything they had wrought on this earth) I finally discovered that the reason my email was insisting that every single word I typed was not only spelled wrong but grammatically incorrect was because my Upgraded spell-check was set to “New” Portuguese. New?

The worst, was that I was actually allowed to do some of my work this morning. I checked mail, I wrote a few, I surfed, I wrote….in short, I was lulled into a false sense of security by the Upgrade. It seemed that with the exception of everything being sort of shifted a little, I was going to be spared.

Then I clicked on Ecto. Ecto is the really cool little simple interface that I use to post to the blog. It’s blogging for dummies. I understand it’s few functions very well. Ecto brings us together. The computer tells me this:

Ecto cannot be opened because Ecto is in the trash.

What? The nausea starts. I don’t even want to know. I bellow for Joe, I get more coffee and I pace around mumbling things like, never mind what it was like. You should remember me the way I was before it all fell apart.

Joe comes downstairs. I, admittedly rather rudely, inform him that HIS UPGRADE has eaten MY BLOG THING. I advise him, again..perhaps with less tact than could be hoped for, that I want him to….find the blog thing and make it go. I tell him HIS UPGRADE had no right to touch MY BLOG THING which was working perfectly before he started fixing things, and that (further to that) I don’t think he knows what “fixing” means, and I have always thought that he did too much damn clicking on things when he is at the computer and that probably has a lot to do with the mess I’m in too.

Then I get more coffee.

When I come back, there is good news and bad news. I like bad news first, so that the good news cheers me up…don’t you?

The bad news is….Everything is different. There are whole new Ecto buttons that don’t even have names that I know and some of them (steady now) some of them TOGGLE. I can’t even think about toggling. What’s a toggle? How could that be better? It can’t. I know it. You don’t even put in images anymore. They are some kind of attachment. It’s talking about “Rich Text” and there is a button that appears to be related to something that I heard Emma (who is a professor of geekness) talk about one time called XHTML. It wants to know if I want it. I don’t. I don’t want any of it. I want my old buttons back. I don’t want change, I don’t want an upgrade. Mostly, I want to have my wee little blog file where things were good and simple and it never asked me if I wanted to do something better, like “cache” thingies or align them. I thought my alignment was pretty good.

At present. I cannot upload a picture, I’m not sure how this will look (though I am assured by a whole new toggle button that my text is rich) and I don’t really know if I saved any of it or if it was consigned to an abyss when I clicked on the new button for posting.

The good news?

I can make text look like this.