One of the things I got in NY this fall was a Morehouse Merino Lace kit. The kit came with a huge 4 ounce skein of laceweight yarn and three patterns. The Contessa, La Scala and Stellina. It was a good deal and I can’t say enough nice things about the yarn. It’s so soft that it’s almost hypnotizing to hold. I find myself fondling the yarn and carrying it around like a pet, stroking it’s curved skein and smoothing the label. (I have stopped just short of naming it and giving it a bed to sleep in. Should I do so, you may feel free to cut me loose). When I was at Morehouse Merino I developed a new way of selecting yarn. I would look down, see what I was holding and then attempt to put it down. If, after several honest attempts to Put The Yarn On The Table, I was still incapable, then I took it as a sign. So it was that I came to own the lace kit. Not only that…but that is also why it looks like this.
That’s right. Variegated laceweight. I love these colours and was taken by the colourway name “saffron”. I was so helpless in the face of this yarn that I forgot several Things I Have Learned Before. It is both a shame and a pity that I can be so stunned by a snazzy colourway that I will forget these things and only remember them in crushing waves as I try to knit the stuff up.
-I cast on “La Scala” and knit a big chunk. The creeping dissatisfaction finally gave way to a repressed memory that I dislike variegated lace. There, I said it. I feel that the changing colours detract from the lacework, and that the lacework detracts from the shifting colours. (For the record, I feel exactly the same way about variegated Arans.) I know that I am in blogosphere minority with this. I can tell because of the immense and overwhelming popularity of Charlotte. I love the pattern, I love Koigu…but together it doesn’t suit me. I am convinced that the stunning colours of the variegates hide the clever and lovely lacework. I have tried hard to like it, be one of the crowd, to fit in with the other bloggers, but I can’t. This Charlotte secret has been burning in me for ages. I feel lighter now that I have told you.
(To redeem myself a little, I can point out that I quite like Amy’s version done in Fleece Artist Silken, but that was way more subtle. You know, like me.)
The chunk of shawl was unceremoniously frogged. The sad thing is that I held out hope for so long… look how much I knit before I accepted the truth.
– I decided that I should have gone with my rule about keeping variegates simple and I cast on Contessa. This was such a crushing disappointment that I didn’t even take a picture. The plain stockinette displayed the other challenge of variegates….I love how the colours look in the skein, but am chronically disappointed by the way that they look in the knitting. Pooling, flashing and puddling drive me wild and I end up with blotches of colour that change the whole colour balance of the variegation. The original yarn is subtle, shifting and beautiful. The knitting is not. Then I am sad. So sad that this shawl bit the big one too. (Again, a sizeable portion was knit before I was able to accept it’s destiny.)
– In desperation, (by the way? I would really rather not discuss why it was that I kept casting on the entire shawl, instead of a little swatch to see if I liked it. I blame Benylin All-in-one, a cold medication which in my case did not relieve my symptoms as much as it made me way too stoned to know if I had a cold. While this was an unexpected effect….who cares?) so in desperation, I decided to try Cell stitch.
Now, I can’t really explain what I was thinking here. I remember spending a lot of time making this choice, but it could be that I was just thinking really slowly. The problems with this shawl are myriad. For starters, I hate cell stitch. (I know. I’m telling you…Benylin all in one.) In addition, I think it’s too clunky for the delicate laceweight yarn, and it does nothing to prevent any of the puddling of the colours. I thought about knitting from two ends of the ball, alternating to avoid blotches, I thought about breaking the yarn from time to time and taking out a hunk to alter the rhythm of the dye job so it wouldn’t blotch. I thought about living with the blotchiness. In the end, this shawl was dumped faster than a boyfriend who wants nine children.
After much careful consideration (read: when the drugs wore off) I gave the dilemma some real thought. I considered choosing a stitch pattern that I liked and knitting the whole thing lengthways, hoping that casting on 300 stitches might displace the colours enough that it wouldn’t blotch. The problem with this idea is that the only way to test it was casting on 300 stitches and seeing what I thought. I thought about it, but decided that seemed, well…like maybe the drugs hadn’t worn off enough. I went looking for a little inspiration, and found it in this Shawls and Scarves
book. I chose the “Corner to Corner Shawl”.
It’s knit diagonally, which I have deluded myself into believing will help with the pooling and unsightly blotching (I’m still ill…let me believe), by providing longer rows and variable stitch counts. It has a simple lace insert that doesn’t lose anything to the variegation of the yarn, and the amount of lace on each row varies, which should mean that many of the rows use a different amount of yarn which in turn should also make a difference with the flashing colours.
Clearly the Benylin has worn off, since my ability to over-think, analyse and obsess about a simple knitted shawl has returned.

Seriously Snarky.

1. In the span of less that 12 hours I have gone from somebody who had a little bit of a scratchy throat, to someone who has a cold that is actually going to be memorable. After this cold I am going to say things like “Remember that cold I had in the winter of ’04? That was a bad one.” This cold will have epic poems written about it, disgusting ballads, perhaps.
2. These guys.
How did they know I wasn’t feeling well? Is there some sort of hotline I can call? “Hello? Yes, this is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. You mustn’t know this, because if you did I’m sure you wouldn’t have come today. I have a smashing headache and a cold that will be written about in the books that record such things. Now that you know this, I’m sure that you will GET YOUR *&^%$#!!! LOUD ROAD DIGGING THINGIE AWAY FROM THE FRONT OF MY HOUSE.”
The vibration the digger is making is rattling my teeth in my head. This normally would only be annoying, but since there is already so much wrong with my head, the urge to wander into the street and lay myself in front of the digger so that the end comes swiftly is just about overwhelming.
3. This is the back room.
That’s enough to piss anybody off isn’t it? The room has no walls, no floor and no ceiling. The room also has nobody who seems inclined to put these things back, but I’m sure that the contractor guy will return my calls soon…..
(Now would not be when it should be pointed out that *I* ripped the back of my house up.)
The back of the house being ripped up is becoming the focal point of my life. It’s all I can do or think about. I’m starting to say things like “Laundry? Have you SEEN the back of the house?” Substitute, “Dinner” “Shopping” “Bill Paying” or “Marital relations” and you have the sum total of my conversational ability. Well, that and “I need a tissue” and “get me tea”.
4. The walls, ceiling and floor from this room are in the backyard. I need to take them to the dump. I didn’t do this yesterday because I didn’t quite feel like myself. I thought I might be getting sick. I decided to put it off until today (get this, classic bonehead move) when I would be feeling better.
I hate myself.
5. I knit a pathetic 4 cm on the Rainbow Peerie socks last night (Who asked me about the yarn and pattern? It’s Lanett superwash merino in black and “stained glass”, the pattern is another Harlot back-of-an-envelope special).
I tried to knit more, but all I seemed to be capable of was holding the knitting. Substantial movement of the hands and fingers made my hair hurt. You know how it is.
6. I have cast on a new baby blanket 4 times. The first time I counted wrong. The second time I changed my mind about the pattern, the third time I decided that I wanted a provisional cast on instead, and the fourth time I got frustrated with the crochet hook, jammed it down the side of my couch and pretended it was lost. (Have you SEEN the back of my house?)
7. I left the lights on in the pick-up truck yesterday. I am thinking about claiming that I don’t know why it won’t start this morning, except that I’m the only one who has somewhere to go.
8. I was going to make Amanda this hat. I like this hat. I knit one for myself and I think that it looks great. Imagine my surprise in discovering that this is a “dork” hat. Imagine my further surprise when I discovered that it is nothing about the pattern that grants it the title of “dork hat”. the shape is good, she likes everything about it. The only thing standing between her and a love affair with this hat is (if you are a mother of a young girl…like, less than 11 years old, sit down and take a deep breath now. The following 15 year old bullcrap is to be expected. It will happen to you, and it will not be any less shocking or painful because I have warned you. The realization that you are a dork is a painful and inevitable force.) Amanda’s problem with the hat is, and I quote “I’m not wearing a hat you like”.
Suggestions for a hat I would *not* like are being accepted.
Non snarky answers to polite questions.
How did you do the baby poncho?
The baby poncho was knit out of 2 skeins of Bernat Miami (I wanted something that could be chewed). I cast on 52 stitches but used a 5.5mm needle so that it wouldn’t be so “holey” as the regular Harlot Poncho. The gauge worked out to about 16 sts/10cm and the length was about 26cm (measured along the increase/yo line).
How about Emma’s poncho?
Emma’s poncho was knit using a chunky wool, and following the Harlot pattern casting on 52 stitches (but using the regular 9mm needle. It was knit to a length of 50cm, measured down the YO line on the front or back.
Are you sick of poncho’s?
Yes. I believe I may be. (That took longer than expected, didn’t it?)
Bookbookbookbook ?
Soon. All will be revealed in the fullness of time. Hold your horses.

Lest we forget

This is my grandfather, Lieutenant – Colonel James Alexander McPhee. He was a smart, funny man who enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the beginning of World War II. When Canada got it’s own Air Force he joined that. He flew missions through the war, and it was only after he died that we found his log book and learned how much he had flown.
My Grampa had only spoken of the war once during my lifetime, and other than that, the only time his war experience was acknowledged was on this day, Remembrance Day. Every Remembrance day he would take me to the monument in his town and he would hold my hand while we listened to the service. He would stand there with the other Veterans, and my strong, handsome grandfather would cry.
I was young, and it was years before I worked up the nerve to ask him anything about it. When I did, he refused to tell me anything about the war, and would only say “All my friends my darling, all my friends”. After he had died we learned that he had flown times when he was the only one who came back.
The only time he ever spoke of his experiences was on the Remembrance day before his death. In fact, it was that day that we noticed that he was thin and ill looking. He was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly thereafter, and didn’t even live a year. He was asked to speak at my sisters school. He stood in front of an entire school of hundreds of kids, parents and teachers, and for the first time he told what it was really like. He told them about who didn’t come home. He told them how scary it was and he wept openly. He spoke of peace and of never forgetting. That day, at that moment I became a pacifist. My grandfather taught me what the word meant. Grampa told me that there had to be another way, because the way that we had done to so far was a waste and a crime. I believed what he told me. He died shortly thereafter, and he died believing he had seen the last war.
Today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, I… like many other Canadians will observe a moment of silence. I will think of peace, I will honour the men and women who died to teach me the value of living gently on the earth, and I will take a moment for Lt. Col. James Alexander McPhee…and all his friends.

Easily Amused.

I finished the poncho for Theresa’s baby, (She’s the snowdrop…remember her?) and it’s cracking me up.
Wait, maybe it’s only funny if you see it like this.
I think it’s hysterical. It’s hitting some kind of knitter joke spot for me. Look at it. Look at the wee dandy fringe! (I know. I hear you. While I am apparently experiencing a second wave of poncho-itis I understand the inherently stupidity of knitting a poncho for a seven month old baby. She is going to chew on the point and gnaw on the fringe. It’s ok. She’s going to outgrow it long before it’s out of style. It’s dumbass and I feel it….did you see the tiny little point though? C’mon. ) The poncho also amused me by using up all but this…
That means this yarn is gone. I love that. I suffer from 1/2 ball yarn anxiety. I am compelled to save them, yet somehow am repulsed by using them. When all the yarn gets used up I don’t have to live with the guilt of saving half balls of yarn and I don’t have to be plagued by the wastefulness of throwing it away. I don’t need to think about it at all. I can let go of big plans for scrap afghans and striped hats that I’m never going to make, I can stop thinking that someday I’m going to take all of these 17 metre balls and make a really stunning Fassett. When all the yarn gets used up I am spared having to come up with some sort of ethical yarn scrap position. I can just Let. Go.
I am unclear about the exact length of yarn that is let go-able, and that which I must keep. I should like, make a chart or something and try to find out.
Where is your cut-off?
In other news, I have indeed begun to rip the back off my house.
This is a weird little unheated 100 year old mud porch off the back of the house. We use it as a racoon proof place to keep the garbage and as an extra large walk in freezer in the winter. We keep skates and bike helmets there…and well, pretty much anything else that doesn’t fit in the rest of the house. I’m ripping the old walls down, then it will be rebuilt (not by me….I’m a demolition sort of renovator) into a ….well. A slightly less weird unheated mud porch off the back of the house.
(As I type that it seems like a less worthy goal than it did before I started ripping the walls down….)
The Rainbow Peerie socks are back on the radar…though my cat seems offended. Look at the “get these crap socks off my chair” face.
Luckily, I don’t care what the cat thinks. (Millie is likely upset about the changes in the house. Yesterday she hissed at a sheet of drywall. I can respect that.)
PS. sing with me.
Emma Emma bo-bemma bananna fanna fo-femma me-mi-mo memma….EMMA!
(Sorry. No more singing. No more ponchos. I’m better now)

Filthy mouth.

It’s that time of year again. I hate it. I am totally losing my cool. The streets and shops are suddenly full of people who want to rub your face in it…and this year, my own children are part of it. Go ahead, ask them. They can tell you. There are 46 days to Christmas. I know that was painful, if you need to go have a little lie down I completely understand. I think that nausea, dizziness and an urge to throw yourself in front of a Streetcar is normal. Every-time somebody tells me, I think a wild conglomeration of equally frantic and hysterical thoughts.
46 days until Christmas?
1. Seriously?
2. What is Wrong with me? Christmas comes on the same stinking day every year. How is it possible to truly have it sneak up on you each and every year with a pain that is fresh and vulnerable?
3. How, I ask you, does a reasonably intelligent, educated woman, responsible for the Christmas of others, including innocent little children, somehow fail to count out the 365 day interval between Christmases? It’s not like in October they phone you with the random appointed Christmas date for this year and scream “Surprise! 46 days! Try to knit your way out of that one, Ya twit!”
4. How the hell am I going to knit -insert insane gift list here- in -insert inversely related number of days here-?
5. How much egg nog with screech in it is a reasonable response to that?
6. Screw Santa. He never helps me with anything. Maybe he’s dropping by your house with a whack of farty little elves, but there’s nothing I need to thank him for.
7. 46 days til Christmas? Maybe you should shut your filthy little mouth.
Poncho poncho poncho
I gave away my fleece artist poncho. I know. I can’t hardly believe it either, but it made me look short (shut up. I know I’m 5 feet tall but I labour under the delusion that I actually seem much, much taller, like maybe…5’3 or even 5’4″) and I felt like I was drowning in it. Plus, the mohair shed so much that it left autumn coloured dust buffalos (like bunnies…but bigger) roaming the plains of the house. If you wore it, when you took it off you had an elegant autumnal halo of mohair clinging to every surface of you. Lint is nothing in the face of true love though, and when Teresa walked into my house, she saw it, and lost her mind. She put it on and she looked like a million bucks. (Teresa is doing the “Sears Catalogue” pose. Is that universal?) I warned her about the buffalos, I told her about the halo. She didn’t care.
It’s hers now. I’m glad it’s going to be with someone who will love it. I know it was the right thing to do when Teresa called me this morning to tell me about all the compliments she was getting. Women were swarming her begging for a Fleece Artist Poncho dealer. She looked “fabulous” “wonderful” and “chic”. When I wore it, all anyone ever said was “wow….that’s fuzzy”. You can’t fight poncho destiny.
(There are two things that surprised me about giving away the poncho. First, can you believe I gave away Fleece artist? Second, can you believe that I didn’t wait 46 stinking days and give it to her as a Christmas present? Moron. This is why Christmas whups my arse every year. )
I delivered Emma’s poncho.
I laid it atop the original Harlot poncho so you could see the difference in size. All I did to get a ten year old size was cast on fewer stitches (52) and knit it shorter. Taking the concept even further….I started a baby one for Teresa’s little girl. (Also starring in this photo…the super cool mug that Elizabeth threw and painted. She calls it a Dale of Norway mug. I love it. I think it makes my coffee taste really good).
Wait….This baby poncho could be a present, right?
Tomorrow….Further adventures in renovation land OR “There’s only 46 days until Christmas…wanna rip the back off the house?”

All sewn up

Dear Ann and Kay,
If you had been in my house at 1:30 (30 minutes before guests were to arrive) you wouldn’t have thought it was going to work. Joe was coming in the door with new furniture (the bookcase by the door that smelled like paint…if you’re wondering) and groceries, me soaking wet out of the bath screeching at the girls to take everything I hadn’t managed to clean up and throw it on my bed (and for the love of sheep…close the door)..and the pinnacle moment, when Amanda suggested that the family thought I might be a little “too wound up” and I (ever so calmly) told her that it was my feeling that the family was not -insert the filthy expletive of your choice here- wound up enough. I was rethinking the whole thing as I desperately tried to find a clean shirt and searched for a box of stinking crackers. At 1:52 I found my bra and replaced the electronics magazines in the bathroom with the latest Interweave Knits….and thought there might be a chance that it was all coming together.
You would have loved it. We had a good time, though the concept is rather hard to explain to the uninitiated. (So…you’ve invited a whack of strangers to your house to sew up squares knit by other strangers that were mailed to other strangers in Tennessee and New York…that they mailed to you? But you don’t know them? When you’re done you’re mailing it to other strangers to keep them warm? Okey dokey.)
We ate, we drank, we sewed up squares. I’ve decided to give awards. (There are no prizes. Just my undying gratitude for every single warm body that turned up.)
To Elizabeth, who takes the award for neatest sweater concept, as well as the award for “Best red instincts”. She used her fine colour sense and put together the Red Afghan. (She sews really well too…and brought me the most beautiful mug she’d made.)
To Aven, for inventing the “Afghan Photo Verification Assembly System”, whereby she had the cunning good sense to take a digital picture of Elizabeth’s plan so we would have a reference for how it all was meant to go together. Bonus points for emailing me the picture late last night when I was assembling the rest of the afghan and didn’t want to screw up Elizabeth’s plan.
To Kelli Ann, for coming from Montreal, bringing her charming Tante Louise, seeing what a madhouse it all was, then not immediately revoking her decision to hold her own sewing up party on the 28th. (Also, she had a killer hat on.)
To Sarah..who wins the award for craziest idea longest distance travelled. Sarah drove from Ottawa, sewed her little heart out, then turned around and drove back home. That’s a mind boggling 10 hours of driving, just to sew up squares. (I’m wondering if she was thinking about strangling someone when she found out that Kelli Ann’s sew up party will be much, much closer…)
To Jane, who hates the cold…knows that I engage in the furnace wars, and came anyway. Atta girl. (It ended up being too hot. We opened windows.)
To Aara, for bringing her lovely daughter (you should see the sketch the kid did of the sewing up party. Unreal.) wearing a fabulous sweater, and for knowing how to crochet. (Thanks for that. I hate crocheting.) Aara also had the coolest experience. When we dumped the box of squares from New York on the table, Aara picked up a very pretty Noro one and said “Hey! I knit that one”.
For Emma, the award for bringing the most charming mother. (Ok, she was the only one who brought their mother…but her Mum was darned nice…and a really good sew-er up-er) Emma also sews a decent seam, and brought me fur from her new bunny. Fibre gifts, a fine quality in a guest.
An award to Denny, who came early to help and stayed late to put a really pretty crochet picot edge on the pink afghan. She also taught Meg the ways of the looped path of crochet…which I’ll admit I was never going to teach her.
To Huxley…for being the youngest (and possibly best behaved) of the guests. An honourable mention to his Mum Monika for bringing him, and for all the squares she brought and sewed up. Huxley is pictured here with Amanda, who looks to have forgiven him for having the audacity to be born on her birthday.
To Barbara, for her awesome ability to pull the a pinkish jumble of squares together into something that looked like we had a plan. Brilliant.
For Alison, for channelling Norma on her cell phone (Norma gets the award for “Best Virtual Guest”) and for sewing tons, befriending my children, and for not laughing her arse off when she found knitting in my freezer.
Ken and my mother-in-law Carol take the award for “People who knew best what kind of insane plans Stephanie can cook up and came anyway”. Ken gets bonus points for being the only man….
Did I miss anyone?
An award for honesty to Joe, who when asked (right before he tore out the door to the studio and didn’t come back for 11 hours) if he was staying, smiled sweetly at all the devoted sew-er up-ers and said “Actually, I’m burning to get out of here”.
I stayed up last night and finished the edge on the red one….
and the pink one is beyond compare.
It’s the best time I’ve had with yarn in a while, and that’s saying something. Thanks for the privilege.

These are a few of my favourite things…

I woke up yesterday morning and could feel the dull weight of impending disaster weighing me down. The squares for the sewing-up party had not arrived. My house was half-painted. I had an article due. I had a client to see. I have a shift to work on Saturday night and my babysitter cancelled. I had mountains of laundry and my bra (yes, I only own one) had been missing for three days despite an exhaustive search. (The bra thing is not that unusual. I have a lack of commitment to breast restraint. I save it for special occasions and public appearances that demand breast confinement. This shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve been reading for a while). I got up, drank coffee and contemplated the possibility that I was going to host a sewing up party with no squares to sew up in a messy house while rushing around bra-less screeching “Don’t touch the walls!” and answering phone calls about dilation. I also contemplated the possibility that it would be better if I wasn’t here when that all started to go down.
(Wondering if there is enough money on ones Visa card for a ticket to Belize is a normal healthy reaction to impending disaster. Don’t let anyone tell you different.) While drinking my 4th cup of coffee and feeling pretty good about my discovery that while I couldn’t afford to run away to Belize, I was pretty sure about my chances of concealing myself in a mammoth pile of laundry….the doorbell rang.
Favourite thing #1
Kay and Canada Post.
One of the two boxes of squares has arrived, along with a lovely postcard and some chocolate to take the edge off. I am overlooking the fact that Kay sent three chocolate treats and that I have three children. I’m sure that she meant for me to have it. The second box has not yet arrived…but there are enough squares that I’ve managed to kick the impulse to try and knit 50 more before Sunday. (I knit four before I got a grip. Nobody’s perfect.)
Favourite thing #2
My brother Ian. Painting, in my house.
Ian and I painted for hours and the broke the back of it. The living room and dining room may not get finished started, but at least there’s nothing half painted. I have managed to convince myself that no-one will care. Ian also figured out how to paint very scary up high things and very kindly gave me tips on what direction I should leap off the ladder should it attempt to throw me down the stairs. (Hint: it is the direction opposite to that which my intuition suggests) He ate leftovers for lunch, he said nothing about the nature of the lime green that we were spreading around and we came to an agreement about the heat. (We have decided, knowing full well that we both carry the McPhee gene for non-compliance, as well as a Stewart gene for stubbornness and an unreasonable inability to lose anything, anytime, anywhere, that if we didn’t agree to give up at the same time someone was going to get frostbitten. When we saw the forecast for snow last night we agreed to simultaneously turn on our heat. My heat is on. I am trying to let go of the suspicious part of my nature that wonders if he only agreed to a truce to lull me into a false sense of security so he could sneak home and wait one more day…thus winning heat-war 2004. ) When Ian was finished rescuing me from myself, he went to the beer store. My affection for him is unfettered.
Favourite thing #3
How short children are.
Emma’s little poncho is almost done. This is only because she is little.
On the flip side, It would appear that I have painted the hall a colour that clashes so badly with the old runner going up the stairs that I cannot eat and think about it at the same time.
I am attempting to not fall victim to “home renovation insanity syndrome” in which one is trapped in an ever circling spiral of home-shame. The new walls make the runner look bad, the new runner makes the throw rug look bad, the rug makes the curtains look shabby……
The only advantage I can think of is that when I have finished deliriously gutting and replacing every item in my home I may have found my bra.
Here’s hoping.

And another thing.

Today’s entry, a collection of thoughts presented in no particular order.
1. I am thinking about taking Joe’s stumpy birthday mittens apart and making them more pointy. I have concerns about how normal it might be to lose sleep thinking about mitten pointiness, but I really have strong feelings about it. These fit him perfectly, but the lack of geometric tapering is offending me.
2. In preparation for the Sewing up Party for Mason-Dixon Knitting on Sunday at my house (You are coming, right? Drop me a line asking for directions.) I have decided to repaint the house. It was only after I’d bought the paint and started slapping it on the walls that I considered that this might not be the most reasonable response to a party in five days.
3. I have painted the inside of my front door a really dark navy blue. This may have been a tactical error. It is too soon to tell. It is not too soon to tell that every single time I see it I feel a little bit woozy.
4. I stayed up late watching US election coverage. I don’t know why I did this. Some insane idea that someone would be elected on election day. Crazy.
(I will spare you all any rant about world politics that I may be feeling. You all know where I land on the scale. I will instead sit here with my fellow Canadians …only 22% of whom would vote for Bush, chanting “Not my election…Not my country.” Given our proximity and trade relationship, it can be difficult. NB: You should ask me how many of us would elect Martin Sheen. Embarrassing. )
5. I am knitting another Harlot Poncho for Sam’s friend Emma. (Pattern in “free patterns” sidebar). I have told her, even though she is 10 and it’s really wrong to disappoint little children, even though I am painting my house, even though I have to go to work in between now and then and even though there is so much laundry that I’m afraid I’m going to lose the cat…I have told her she can have it by Saturday. What am I? Hit with a stupid stick?
6. I am very close to turning on the heat. My sister caved. My mother caved. There’s just me and my brother and both of us are starting to look a little blue. The high today is 7C, the low….-1C. (That’s 44F and 30F). At what point to I start to consider the children “collateral damage”?
7. Paint on the walls doesn’t dry in temperatures of less than 10C. I know because I asked the paint store guy. I understand what a grave sign it is that I felt that it might be cold enough in my home that I should consider its role in a chemical reaction.
8. I am painting over a colour that we have been calling “Barbie flesh pink” for 8 years. (This is not the real colour name. The real name was something funky like “Wheat circle”. I bought it, and left it with my brother, who painted while I took the kids to the park. When I came back he was done and my walls were infuriatingly “Barbie flesh pink”. I tell you this because it’s important that no one think that I chose that colour. It was a horrible paint/artificial light accident.) The new colour (despite inexplicably being more of a green/taupe colour) is called “Winter’s Silence”. Who names these? Wouldn’t you think that “Winter’s Silence would be…I dunno. White? Off-White? The colour of nothing living? C’mon. Green? In winter? Where do these people live?
9. I am thinking that we should do a “Toronto” afghan on Sunday. Good idea? Everybody bring a square of whatever you like. (If you can. No pressure) 20cm or 8 inches. Follow the guidelines here. Don’t worry about colour. Bring a square that makes you feel good. Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, the blanket can reflect that. If you don’t have time, that’s ok. I’ve got a head start.
10. I can’t stop eating leftover Halloween candy. I eat it until I feel ill. Then I drink coffee. Then I paint. Then I watch the news. I appear unable to stop repeating this unhealthy cycle until the house is painted, politics make sense, caffeine poisoning is incurred or the candy is gone. Don’t mock me.

Birthday Boy Man

My Darling Joe celebrates an undisclosed number of years today. He will be getting a knitted present (that I can’t show you a picture of, because he will read the blog before dinner, and dinner is present time) and he will be getting the love and adoration of his family over a birthday dinner.
There are any number of reasons why my love deserves this, and much more…but we’ll start with these.
-for never raising his voice to me in anger. Not once, in all these years…even though I am…well. Me.
– for consistently referring to my handspun as “real” yarn. (Compared to, you know…Rowan or Koigu).
– for the stunning discovery I made the other night; that he is spending a few minutes each day actually trying to become friends with a hamster.
-for laughing himself stupid every single night that he succeeds in getting the aforementioned hamster to hang by one paw for a sunflower seed. Never gets old.
-for totally being the field trip guy. Even though I run into trees trying to get away from the Parent Council, Joe is the go-to guy for field trips. Science Centre? Yup. The Zoo with 30 fifteen year olds? Yup. You gotta field trip, tons of unruly urchins of any size or number? Joe will go, and he will like it.
-for deciding that the best way to keep track of Amanda and her life was to become friends with her friends, and for actually being cool enough for teenagers to fall for it. (I am forced to admit that this is much better than the chastity belt idea, or the brief consideration given to a cage.)
-for being afraid of racoons. (Seriously. His defence is that there are no racoons in Newfoundland, so it’s a “fear of the unknown thing”. My arse, he’s a chicken. When we were camping last summer and were set upon by a plague of racoons in the night, Joe refused to get out of the tent and shoo them off of our food, thus beginning an argument that ended with the classic line: “Get out of this tent and fight like a man”. )
-for (oddly) not being afraid of bears.
-for (even though he doesn’t buy movies) purchasing every single James Bond movie ever made and watching them over and over.
-for buying me the new Cake CD.
-for yelling “I love you very much” like I left him a great gift each time he finds clean underwear in his drawer.
-for his complete silence about “the wool situation” and for the way he makes out to his friends like I’m cool.
-for never buying anything I’m boycotting, for being political, and for only becoming more left leaning as he gets older.
-for being a completely empirical learner. I am forever smelling smoke as Joe walks around with burned up electronics saying “Wow, I should never cross those two wires.”
-for never making the same mistake twice (or actually burning the house down).
-for staying with me in the hospital when I was afraid, even though he was really afraid.
-for being a good sport. Joe will cycle 400 km, hold a sheep, drop spindle, try to make cheese, get up early, help you move, go to yarn shops, snorkel, ski, hike, pick carrots, or scour the city for a copy of the violin solo in Moulin Rouge if you ask him to. More than this…he will not complain while he does so.
-for insisting, even though he has never once been on time for anything, ever…and even though there isn’t a single person he has ever met that did not realize this about him instantly, for absolutely insisting that he is not the sort of person who is late.
-for, when I asked him if he was a “Townie or a Bay Boy” saying “Bay Man, Steph. A Bay Man”.
-for never saying anything about my absolutely horrible sense of direction, just quietly turning in the direction opposite to my suggestion.
-for still loving me every day, despite the fairly good evidence that I am out of my mind and a little hard to keep up with.
-for being a wonderful parent, who hasn’t stopped learning as fast as his kids.
-for being completely loveable, charming and good tempered.
-for not letting me unravel the sock (singular) that he is knitting me, even though it has been years and years since he knit on it, just because he promised to finish.
I wish you many more birthdays my Joe. Love you.