That twitch is normal

Yesterday, I braced myself and did it. Some aspects of being a grown-up suck, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You have to bite the bullet, storm ahead and just get it done, no matter how repulsive, hideous or horrible the job is. (I’ve been trying to explain this theory to the other people who live here who seem to feel that the bathroom and litter box maintenance is just a little too yucky for them. The train of thought seems to go….” Wow, that’s gross. Mom should do that.” Yes. Absolutely. If there is a job involving faeces it should totally be mine. Can’t wait, sign me up. Yay me. Yay litter box. I do it ’cause I love it. I digress…) So yesterday one of those nasty jobs came up and I did it.

I went to the mall.

It had to be done. There was no choice. What is it about those places that leaves you incapable of doing anything but blinking when you get home? Sensory overload? To0 many other people? The stench of desperation? The weird thing they put in the air so that the whole time you are in there you feel a lot like you really need to buy things made from petroleum products? I tried Norma and Claudia‘s “just relax and enjoy the season/don’t get your knickers in a knot” approach…but it’s 10 days until Christmas and there’s just no sign of anybody dropping off any presents for the children and I have not yet succeeded in cooking my share of the family dinner with the power of my mind. (I tried not baking or buying the cookies the kids need for school parties…but no flirty little house-elf with a good attitude and a penchant for dusting dropped by with baked goods either.) In fact…the more relaxed I got, the less seemed to get done. I sat quietly on the couch happily knitting, absolutely stress free, but at no point in the process did the Christmas tree mystically appear fully decorated beside me. In fact, when a couple of the gifts got downgraded to gift certificates to make my life easier, nobody from the store hopped in their car to bring them over here either. I mean I sat here…I relaxed. I let go, and NOTHING HAPPENED. I thought over letting go of some of the stress by not going to the school concerts, but Sam’s learned to play “Silent night” on the french horn and I don’t know how to clone myself. Claudia? Norma? Are you sure I’m doing this right? I put the gifts that I had on the table and this morning they weren’t wrapped. Do I need to wait for a full moon? Should I be more patient? Should I just wait for Christmas eve and hope that slacker Santa comes through for me? What if he doesn’t? What will happen with the children if he lets me down?

I’m starting to think that this whole relaxing thing might not be the answer. Relaxing might be stressing me out.

I finished the Spidey mitts.


I love Lene’s schedule. There is time allotted for (and this is a direct quote) “Glory in accomplishment”.

The first of the Pablo Neruda socks are done. (Or is that “is done”? Damned plurals)


(We will overlook…for the sake of the “just relax” faction of knitbloggers, that human beings have two feet. It’s counterproductive.) For those of you who asked, the charts can be found in Socks, Socks, Socks. The second one, according to the High Holy Schedule of Power, should be finished tonight.


Clearly, I need to relax more if this is going to work.

Gifts for Knitters Days 15 and 16

Two gifts suggested by readers

Saralyn suggests an ear lamp. She claims that it lets her knit or read instructions in a dark car or room without disturbing others. I think it’s a pretty nifty idea, and certainly gets around the problem of regular head lamps eating your hair. (If you are the sort of person who’s hair gets eaten by head lamps.)

Tree suggests these really, really beautiful handmade wooden needles. There’s something about handmade things isn’t there?

52 thoughts on “That twitch is normal

  1. No, the “just relax” thing is evil. EVIL. If you relax it will not get done! I am trying to keep myself stressed enough to keep going going going for another nine days. You have to stay stressed too, for moral support.

  2. You are brave, to go to the malls…try it on a weekend though next time, to get the true experience…LOL.
    Love the sock. It is gorgeous.
    I’ve almost finished my Katherine Hepburn scarf and still have mittens to go.
    But I’m not panicking…yet.

  3. Steph-relaxing doesnt work for anything-except maybe hypertension.
    Now Denial, that is another story.

  4. Vomit, too, is a mom duty. I hear this occasionally:
    “Mom, the cat’s throwing up!”
    I think ever since the time they saw me cup my hands in front of the cat to keep the vomit off the rug they’ve thought I actually LIKE dealing with the stuff.
    Your goodies are gorgeous, and your attitude is contagious!

  5. I was introduced to your blog a month ago. The following 3 days involved going through the entire archives. DH just didn’t understand why I was laughing out loud at the computer.
    I just had to say that the completed gifts are disgusting. That’s right, disgusting. I have 1, count it – 1, sweater to complete for my DH for Christmas. I didn’t get it done for his birthday in October. I have no motivation to continue working on it. I guess panic just hasn’t set in yet.
    On the other hand, I have an urge to bake today. The tree was put up yesterday and decorated. If the 10 month old will allow me to bake is a completely different story.
    Thanks for the laughs and Merry Christmas

  6. ROTFLMAO. You see, you’ve relaxed me more already, just by giving me a good laugh. Plus, I’m just charmed by your spelling of faeces, all British-Canadian like that. See, you’ve already given me my present. You can cross one off the list. I heart your Christmas stress. But I don’t want any of it.

  7. The mall! My, you are brave.
    I’ve noticed this year that the less I do about Hanukkah/Christmas, the more the rest of the family picks up the slack. Granted, they don’t do as good a job as I would, but I’m getting better at ignoring the many flaws. A few more years of weaning and I can sit on my arse knitting the entire month of December.

  8. Missed you yesterday, but I guess you had a good excuse 🙂 “Relaxing” doesn’t really help unless you can let go a little and I know I can’t let go. “Relaxing” to me just means putting it off a little while longer while stressing even more cause now I know 1) that I don’t have as much time as I did before and 2) that I should have started earlier instead of #$&%ing “relaxing”! My bf is a “just relax” kind of person; he just doesn’t get me…

  9. No fair! I already told my daughters that I wanted the Nancy Bush sock book. Now I’m going to have to tell them (and one’s a Spanish teacher and has taught the Neruda poem in class) that I need the Socks, Socks, Socks book as well. I love that poem and I love those socks!

  10. OK, many people can write a schedule, sure. But just how many folks in the world will include planned revelling time??? Utterly stupendous.
    I haven’t managed to break the 1300 sts/hr mark yet, so instead I chose to get only two hours sleep this morning. Take *that*, old 24-hour day! I am using this blog-reading time for good, working out the kinks in my arms, so I can go back for the last hour’s worth of stitches. Yee haw. Spritz blocking instead of wet blocking, with a fan blowing on it overnight, and I just *might* be able to wrap it for tomorrow’s deadline.
    Oh crap. Did I say that out loud? (ducks and covers so as to avoid the lash from the spiteful knitting sprites)

  11. Am I the only one who looked at the ear lamp thing? The “beam of light” screen is black. Hmm. Black. I’m thinking that’s not enough light to knit by…
    Gotta run. I have to clean the litterboxes…

  12. My dear, relaxing means doing nothing and letting other people deal. So what if the presents aren’t wrapped-saves them the effort of opening them, right? 😉
    I can’t believe you braved the malls. I only go to malls under duress, but I have a complete mall ban in effect starting the week of (the US) Thanksgiving! I would have required serious sedatives to make it through the mall right now!

  13. I read the stuff about relaxing and I thought it sounded devine. Unfortunately, it’s like Communism, it may work in theory, but not in reality. It’s not for people with children, husbands or in-laws. Other things Mom gets to take care of…bug and spider-dispatching, plunging the over-flowing toilets, digging the graves of deceased pets, oh I could go on, some aren’t really yucky, just dreary. Of course, if I complain, my husband reminds me that I haven’t had to balance a checkbook in over 8 years. I’ll shut up now.
    Love the sock!

  14. I too missed you yesterday but completely understood when I saw the word “mall.” I’ve managed to sucessfully avoid the place myself so far and (fingers crossed) will not have to step in once even for the DH. I’m going to have to add the NB book to my Christmas list now. Hubby’s going to brave the LYS for my gifts, but perhaps it’s not such a hardship since I told him they had a coffee shop inside!

  15. The first IS finished. Ignore that “of the socks” bit, which would simply dangle off of your sentence diagram while your subject and predicate march merrily on. I suck at grammar, but I learned this out of dd’s 3rd grade English book.
    Homeschooling means no school-party-cookie baking. It also allows Mom to assign icky household duties under the designation “life skills”. Extra bonus: getting a Christmas present for your kids’ teacher involves shopping for Noro Cash Iroha. I love this time of year.

  16. Yesterday my husband asked when I was going to wrap the presents, get the kids picture taken, mail the Christmas cards, and bake. I said I was not getting stressed out this year and was going to be tolerable to live with this holiday season, therefore I was not worrying about those things. He says, “what, so they just don’t get done?” I replied that they would, but I have to become that angry, bitter, scowling woman who lets stress get the better of her-what did he want?
    Last night he was addressing Christmas cards, AFTER he wrapped presents. Now if I can just get him to change the cat litter and clean the toilet.
    The mittens look great, and that sock is making me *green* with envy. And I think that they should give medals to those who are brave (um, foolish?) enough to go to the mall this close to Christmas. Brava to you!

  17. just think, next year you could do an even crazier schedule and run a marathon less than two weeks before christmas.
    or maybe i shouldn’t give you any ideas… ok forget i said that!
    caffeine my friend, caffeine. (have you discovered the magic of chocolate covered espresso beans yet? sure, your mouth is left with coffee grinds stuck in your teeth, but they are yummy magic pills. ;o)

  18. Steph…panick is essential. I think it makes us knit faster. To date, I have finished 5 scarves, 1 hat, 1 pair of socks, and half of another scarf. Still left: the second sock for that poor pair of socks, the rest of scarf #6, and something as yet undecided for my aunt. For a newbie, I think I’m doin’ okay. Still, my stuff won’t come anywhere NEAR that Neruda sock. Breathtaking. Simply breathtaking. As for the spidey mittens…perfect. Lucky, lucky Hank! Keep your chin up and make sure to factor gingerbread breaks into that schedule!

  19. I just wanted to let you know that you and your blog were a topic of conversation last night at the Ottawa Knitting Meetup. It appears that a large number of us follow you and love it!

  20. Teresa sure has the right idea. Unfortunately this doesn’t work in my house. Instead of presents being wrapped and cards mailed, all I get is “Oh, well”. I wonder is her hubby had to be brainwashed or hypnotised first….

  21. No relaxing is definitely not good, you have to keep the stress level up.
    I just scored an extra 4 hours tomorrow, my french teacher is sick, so I have no class, yeah!!
    ( I do feel sorry she is sick, honest)
    Your spidey mitts look great, I am sure they will be appreciated.

  22. I would have dropped everything else, just for the opportunity to hear Samantha play Silent Night. Could this be the same Samantha who only began to play the french horn in the last couple of months?
    Well done, Samantha :~)
    I have been attempting to teach myself to play the recorder for about three months. The only result thus far, are some strange, “toot-toot” sounds. My DH’s forbearance is wearing thin.
    Stay with the schedule, Stephanie. You are an inspiration, as always.

  23. What Lene say. Some people are naturally serene, but for some of us (especially from/in cold climates) this is counter-evolutionary. We survive by getting excited, tearing around like rabid gerbils, freaking out and generally getting ourselves carbonated. The beauty of the Lene Plan (as opposed to Lethe, which is what my subconscious typed) is that it keeps you from tipping over into toxicity while maintaining a nice, rolling boil. It’s Joyeux, not placid. Wheee!

  24. Screw relaxation. A couple of lines of coke will get you through Christmass, no problem. It will remove that pesky need for sleep, and make you move faster.
    You’ll also drop about 10 pounds.
    (This is a joke. I’m not REALLY encouraging you to do coke. In case you start to get worried if I really AM trying to kill you.)

  25. Part of the mall thing is that they have no clocks. You are not allowed to know how long you’ve been there, and time stretches out as if you’re in space.
    I meant to mention yesterday that there’s at least one independent bookseller that you can link to that ships worldwide. It’s here in my little town 🙂

  26. I’m kind of in the “relax” mode this year. I keep telling myself I have another whole week. I didn’t even knit last night (spent all of my time writing today’s blog post).
    That works for this week, we’ll see what happens this Sunday!

  27. Thank you. Norma & Claudia are wrong, Stephanie is right.
    Now if we could just get those who are wrong to do all the work too. sigh.

  28. The mall. Ugh. I went to the mall last Saturday, and all I can say is that it reminded me of why I do all my shopping online. The writhing masses of humanity were just too much for reclusive self. That, and I don’t like to window shop, so everyone was moving far too slow for my taste. Cholesterol in the aretery of life.
    You are a brave woman. Go ahead and panic. Then you can do some hardcore relaxing for the week between X-mas and New Year’s.

  29. Stephanie – kudos to you for attempting the mall yesterday and finishing those adorable knitting projects. You go girl…join with me anytime as I take yoga inspired deep breaths. I too braved the mall to return something that will not be a gift. Two long walks back and forth to the North Pole parking space later (since I indeed forgot the mighty “Sales Receipt”) – I found and thus triumphantly returned with the mighty “Sales Receipt”. As I gingerly re-traced my steps to THE LINE I saw much to my dismay..yes, the 3 cashiers mysteriously disappeared faster than Santa’s reindeer and morphed into 1 lonely cashier with a very long snakey pokey line. I did more deep breathing and said to myself I will relax and not stress. I will not be returning to the mall again anytime soon….instead I will destress knitting the Early-November birthday sweater that has become the Christmas sweater. I leave you with my deep breathing technique…and morphing yarn that becomes lovely presents! Joyeux Noel

  30. I love how all of the knitting is displayed artfully on the christmas tree. I’m going to copy and post pictures on my blog just like that. 😀
    Although mine will probably have the dog in the background trying to come and steal the knitting off the tree…..

  31. Just get sick, Stephanie. Then you can take all kinds of chemicals and antibiotics. You’ll sleep 16 hours a day, and drive around to pick up your kids while wearing your pajamas. Complete strangers will tell you to cut back, even though you’ve never smoked in your life. I wouldn’t call it relaxed, but you just don’t give a damn!
    The only bad part is that you can’t even stay awake to watch the extended version of LOTR. I mean, it was Viggo, and I fell asleep. (OK, I think Orlando Bloom is pretty fine as well, but don’t tell my daughter). Of course, the drugs can make you dream about Viggo, but all I was doing was knitting him a pair of Latvian mittens……

  32. (hands Stephanie a steaming cup of hot chocolate with a shot of something strong in it as comfort after surviving her mall experience)
    I have so far avoided the mall. I have the best intentions of never setting foot in that evil place, but we’ll see how much gets done in the next week. Forget relaxing – stress away, which will increase both your productivity and later glory when it all gets done. Again, choice swear words along the way are simply entertainment for those of us following along.

  33. well, i thought i’d chime in with my take on the “relaxation” techniques.
    it isn’t so much relaxation as it is a sort of zen thing. one of the sayings of zen buddhism is to “do by not doing.” many think this means sitting on your arse and not doing something until it does itself, which is plain ridiculous. what it really means is to become so involved in the task at hand that doing and not doing cease to exist, that you become “one” with the task. kind of similar to the “be the ball” from Caddyshack tact (it’s funny – i have this theory that everything in zen is the same thing, just stated a different way).
    that’s how i do things. when i have to drive somewhere, i stop thinking about where i’m going, what time it is, am i late, am i early, do i have everything i need, etc. those things don’t matter, what matters is that i’m driving. become engrossed in the task of driving to the exclusion of all else, and driving will take care of itself. it’s the same way with other things. you have to bake? become a baker, think of nothing but the baking, exclude all other things from your mind. don’t worry about what time the baking will be done, just think about what ingredients need to be where at what temperature. be relaxed and calm in the task at hand, complete the task at hand by not completing it … by not worrying about its completion, but simply by doing it, and it will complete itself.
    it’s not easy to do, it takes some practice. and it admittedly isn’t for everyone. like someone mentioned earlier, some people thrive on the chaos and stress and get things done better that way. i’m not here to tell you how to do things, just to try to clear up the “relax” thing.
    sorry for the long comment. i “commented by not commenting” and lost track of time ^_^

  34. My son was amused, he may use the website for his newspaper column.

  35. I went to the mall yesterday for a couple of hours. I still have the throbbing headache – can one be allergic to malls? And keep in mind that this was an open-air mall, since I live in a warm climate. I can’t even imagine how I would do in an enclosed mall…

  36. Do you rent Lene out? It’s 10 days before the Day Of Reckoning, and I haven’t even STARTED some of my gifts yet, because I’m still SPINNING THE YARN.
    I swear, before all of you and the Goddess of Knitting, that next year, I’m starting my gifties in JUNE.
    (nevermind that I say this every year. Nevermind that I start them on December 12th. Every year.)

  37. Wow… the mall… So far this year I have not had to go to the mall for presents… thank goodness for eBay and Amazon. 🙂
    For me the stress is waiting… it’s going to leap upon me starting the day after Christmas. My sister’s future in-laws will be arriving and there a big Boxing Day dinner being planned by my mother and mu husband. Then, my sister’s wedding is on Tuesday complete with problem-causing friends and lots of family. Compared to all that Christmas should be a breeze. 🙂

  38. My eyes always begin to feel like raisins after an hour or so in the mall. And I find myself feeling sort of shove-y and sighing loudly at people on the escalator. This is not typically my style. I’m glad you made it through. And the spider mitts are effing adorable.

  39. Great minds think alike; fools seldom differ. I, too, went to the mall yesterday. However, shopping for Xmas with my daughter who is home from college is a wonderful and restful experience. She has JUST the same level of tolerance. And when some portion of the pursuit became too much for me, I went outside the store to sit and knit. It was actually very soothing watching everyone else run around. However, it DOES occur to me that we were inspired to buy lots of “relaxing” type things for my husband. Subliminal stress???

  40. What’s more insane that heading to the mall with only 8 more shopping days until christmas? Voluntarily agreeing to work the last shopping weekend before christmas. Examine my head…now!
    As for wrapping: Get thee to a dollar store, buy tissue paper and a gazillion of those festive shopping bags in various sizes. Insert tissue paper. Insert gift. Insert more tissue paper. Viola!

  41. You went to the mall? You are so brave. I think that x-mas shopping is what internet was invented for, but I still need to go to the toy store tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll pay a gazillion in express shipping and it will be worthed every penny!

  42. Delegation. Yesterday I spent a few hours frantically looking for a last-minute ipod where the price wasn’t MSRP. (Office depot with the $30 off $150 coupon, btw). Who assigned the task? My Dad. Who was it for? Not me.
    So the key is delegating so you can relax while the others do the work. Self-help management books probably put the word entirely in caps. Of course, my dad would also tell you that you must know when/what to ride and what to delgate and who to trust to execute the delgated task correctly with the least amount of input from you. So that involves cultivating the delegatee (aka sucker).
    Evidently your children are pretty good at delegating. 🙂 Make a general announcement that you’re relaxing and leave everything until the last minute. Psych-out the family until they do your work. Emphatically give out orders to Joe and offspring to decorate the bleepin tree. Give children instructions on how to do the laundry for xmas. Better yet, say you want a laundry-free, excrement-free, puke-free week as your xmas present.
    I get stuck with the xmas shopping each year. Both family, friends, and corporate. Luckily I’m a supreme master of shopping. Many years of training at my mother’s knee. The student has now exceeded the master. My family has invites from my parents to “borrow me” for shopping. Like I were a car or blender… But that’s all good. This may be the only thing I’m good at while stressed.
    Shopping Master tips- look for online stores with free express shipping. If it isn’t expressed, don’t even think it will get here in a week with the xmas package rush.
    If you must go to the mall, go on a weeknight during off hours like really late at night if you work, or during the early morning. Avoid lunch and post-work/dinner time. Late nights on weekends.
    If you know what you are getting, call the store and have them put it on hold for you. (Good for toys, books, games, and DVDs) Call again to make sure they’re holding your order before you set out for the store. You can probably do this with clothing, too. Just shop the online catalog and call your local store during a non-busy hour with your model #, sizes and color requirements.

  43. I went to the Salvation Army thrift store today and bought two large all-wool sweaters. Tomorrow I will cut them into a bunch of mitten-shaped pieces and sew them into mittens for the college-student nephews in frigid climes. I expect (HA!) they will take 1/2 hour per pair, max.
    While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains repeat the sounding joy!

  44. Now, now. Did *I* say that chillin’ was going to work for you?
    Because it won’t. See, you actually CARE about a decorated tree/homebaked cookies for your kids/wrapped perfect hand-knit and/or mall-purchased presents. Unlike, say. Me-and-Norma.
    Besides, it’s funnier this way…for us.
    /insert evil cackling/

  45. I think it’s “is done” in that case. But who cares, “DONE” being the operative word!!!
    Oh, the mall. Poor you. That’s the saddest thing. I wish for you to have some elf-type being to magically clean cat litter and go the mall for you. And one for me, too!

  46. ~snort~ tree: suggesting wooden needles! Irony at it’s best. I can’t help it, it’s cracking me up. Must be all the pressure surrounding me.
    I, too went to the MALL last night, for the first time this holiday season. I go in with all the good intentions of…well….a good person. In short time, I’m wandering like a blatering idiot. I can’t make a decision to save my soul and I bought NOTHING.
    Oh, that was productive!
    Love your knits. All of them. Do you sleep? Just wondering…

  47. Audio book. That’s my answer to pre Xmas Angst. It doesn’t take it all away, but it’s soothing. A music CD might help, but all the jinglebellsdrivinghomeforchristmasbluechristmaswithoutyou nagging of the radio sure doesn’t do it for me. Today Toni Morrison’s warm, almost singing voice is reading “Sula” to me in my own living room, while I’m tying in loose ends, tidying up a xillion stray toys and basically doing my most dull chores. It works!

  48. Is done. “the first” is singular. “of the Pablo Neruda socks” is a dependent adjective clause modifying “first”.
    I actually enjoyed diagraming sentences.
    I went to the mal twice this week, but atfter throwing a birthday party in cluding ten three- and four-year olds, it wasn’t that bad. Of course, I was there at ten in the morning when all sensible people are either at work or still in their slippers.

  49. Okay, since wrapping is a stress-thing for you, I thought I’d pass on what my Grandma did, that I think is brilliant.
    She went to a fabric store after Christmass, and bought a whole bunch of christmas-themed fabric, and then made drawstring bags out of it. Environmentally sound, re-useable every year, and she never had to wrap another gift for all of her seven children, ever again. Mad recycling, yo.
    You’ve mentioned hating sewing, but I bet someone at your stitch and bitches would do it for a scarf, much less a mitten (or a pair!)

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