It’s going to break somebody.

I may not have mentioned this (and I’m sure that the blogosphere is full of mothers and fathers who appreciated me keeping quiet so that they could continue to live in a gentle world of powerful denial about it.) but the March break starts today. In their infinite wisdom, the Toronto District School Board has arranged the one week March Break so that it begins today, with a Professional Development day, and ends March the 29th. That is, for anyone who cares about my sanity…11 days with no school, and known to the Toronto District School Board (who I think have proven that they are not on my side with this latest go-round, no matter what they say when I phone them) as “the one week March Break”.

I don’t really mind my kids being around, they live here, they are occasionally charming and really, picking up abandoned apple cores, screeching “that is completely unnatural“, fighting for the phone and computer while listening to The White Stripes at ear-rupturing volumes while preparing meal after meal after meal for the ravening hoard and contemplating carbon dating for the wet towels on the floor of their rooms is actually my life’s work and far, far more fulfilling than say…working for a living, knitting or forming complete thoughts without that twitch over my eye. Sign me up.

My big plan so far is to spend a fair bit of time sitting in the living room humming tunelessly and trying not to think about it while making further progress on the garter leaf cardigan.


I’m done one of the fronts and I’m halfway up the back, and I’m still just loving it. Loving. It. The yarn…the pattern. It’s all working for me. I’m enthralled. (My pattern, Peace Fleece dk)

My sister and I doing a little kid swapping over the holiday, and we kicked it off last night when she dropped off our favourite 4 year old, Hank. You will all remember from Christmas that with our little buddy Hank, it’s all Spiderman, all the time, and share my shock when he walked in the door last night and said:

“I bet you thought Spiderman was coming to your house!”

Now, I know Hank is not dressed as Spiderman. I can see that he does not have his Spiderman mittens on, and moreover, he is not wearing the creepy Spiderman hood that he has had plastered to his head for the last five months. I don’t think I’ve seen Hank wearing anything but a pair of Spiderman jammies for just as long…day and night…so I’m sort of thrilled. I don’t have anything against taking a little dude all over Toronto in a pair of jammies and a hood, but variety is good, you know what I mean?

So even though I can see that he is not dressed in Spiderman pyjamas, I play along.

“What? Holy cow! Where’s Spiderman? Dude, what’s going on?”

With an enormous smile on his face, my supermature Hank-man, too old for Spiderman jammies, getting bigger everyday and nearly-five not four years old unzips his coat and reveals…


Batman jammies.

Hank is seen here with his favourite item at my house. Even though I have a whole house-full of lego and books and games and cousins this is his favourite thing. The ball winder. I’m sympathetic, since I have a deep, deep emotional attachment to my ball winder as well. I give him one ball of wool and he winds it into a centrepull ball, then takes it off the winder, carefully pulls the centre free, inserts it into the ball winder and rapidly rewinds it. This can occupy Hank for hours during which he only speaks to other people in the house if something like this happens.


I feel his pain. (This happened because Hank was winding the ball winder so fast that the generated centrifugal force hurled the newly forming ball across the dining room like a speeding powder blue woolly fruit bat and scared the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of me. Let that be a lesson to you.)

Hank also got the mail for me (when he was cut off of ball winding activity)


That’s sweet little spring blossom post-it-notes from Beth, to help me hold on for my own spring, (have I ever spoken to you of my irrational love of post it notes?) and the most charming little measuring tape from Jenny. The measuring tape has these happy and contented women playing with laundry and looking fulfilled on it. Clearly Jenny has shipped me a measuring tape from the 12th dimension. Thanks ladies, for the presents, and for the 15 minutes that they occupied Hank Batman.

66 thoughts on “It’s going to break somebody.

  1. LOVE the garter leaf pattern and can only hope you’ll make that one available soon!
    Best of luck on surviving the break. My son’s break starts on the 25th and runs through April 4th. Thank goodness he’s old enough (15) and responsible enough that I can still escape to work (an oxymoron normally) during the days! Although he’s sure to be complaining about boredom by, oh, the 28th! If only I could get him to knit…

  2. Bloody hell, my first comment got eaten. I think. So if you get two, you’ll know what happened. But as I was sayin’…..those photos of Hank are PRECIOUS!

  3. It’s that crank. Fellas cannot resist cranking that crank until it is spinning like a turbine. I love that After picture. Aw.
    And the garter leaf sweater is gargeous, just gargeous.
    Good luck with Spring Break. We have a week of that looming ahead of us, and I mean looming, considering that the cruise director has Failed to Plan Interesting Activities. I’m going to quit this position and let the nine year old take over.

  4. I too have seen the auto-eject feature of the ball winder in action. It is quite alarming! I’ve just bought myself a ball winder and swift and am thrilled at the thought of entertaining my niece and nephews with this apparatus. It gives me hours of delight (the first night I brought it home I laughed with glee whenever I finished a ball). Wind, Batman, wind!
    Hank has clearly grown up. Everyone knows that Batman is the thinking man’s Spiderman.

  5. Now why is that Hank is not a fan of Wolverine, the only Canadian in the Marvel-verse, to my awareness? Oh well.
    My almost four year old is fascinated by any and all tape measures. But if I had a ball winder I think it would give him great joy.

  6. My 2 middleschoolers are just finishing their week of break, my high schooler and preschooler have theirs starting sometime next week, and my 2 college girls are going elsewhere. It never ends!! I also love the swift and ball winder. Perhaps a little bird can whisper into my loved ones’ ears that they would make a good mother’s day gift. I’m sure my 4yo would go for it (she loves Care Bears, Hello Kitty, and Strawberry Shortcake but her best friends -Tristan and Robert- both share the love of the Webslinger). My daughters (all 4 of them from 21 to 4) also love post-it notes. They have them in large and small sizes, die cut initials and shapes, pastels and neons…They also love the Sharpie markers (thick and thin, colors and metallics). The Easter bunny can find much basket boodle at the local craft or office supply store!!

  7. No, not a Batman cape… a knitted Batman Utility Belt. All the best Batmen have utility belts…
    Went looking for the book at 2 yarn stores this morning. Not yet. (I knew it was too early, but you can’t fault a girl for trying)

  8. I understand Hank’s obsession. When I was about 9 my mother got a knitting machine for Christmas. It came with assorted do-dads including a ball winder. I thought the knitting machine was boring compared to “real” knitting but was completely enraptured with the ball winder. When my older brother (20ish) knit me a sweater on the machine in about 2 hours on Christmas morning, my mother decided it was dumbass and got rid of it all within the year…I missed that ball winder.

  9. Hank is too adorable, and getting big. I don’t laugh out loud too often, but today I did. Several times. Thank you.

  10. Don’t assume that it’s Hank’s age that causes the attraction to the ball winder! I think it’s a gender issue, since my two big boys (14 and 17) can’t keep their hands off mine. That causes me to hide it when I’m not using it, and also causes arguments between them about who “gets” to wind yarn when I need it wound. (That last is a nice problem to have….)
    And I noticed, as well, how much older Hank looks even from when we first “met” him!
    MaryB in Richmond (not to be confused with MaryB in Seattle, or even Mary deB somewhere else! 🙂

  11. Hank is too cute. My daughter is not yet allowed to do anything other than watch wool winding but I have had to ban the Hubster from using the ball winder after An Incident. The tape measure is still enthralling to my not-quite-three-year-old. She likes to see “how big is long” and will check “how big is long” all over the house for close to an hour at a time.

  12. Ah, yes – the ball winder. Whenever I crank mine up, I suddenly have my three dogs sitting semi-circle around me, looking very intent, wondering what POSSIBLE magic might happen next.
    Never fails to crack me up. But then, I’m very easily amused.
    (Not) Speaking of… what ever happened to ol’ Clapotis? Frogged for the last and final time? 🙂
    P.S. We have hyacinths and daffodils blooming in St. Louis… but the bunnies ate all my crocuses. There’s hope yet for spring for northern towns.

  13. You mean I’m not the only one who winds her wool so far, the half-ball goes flying across the room?!? Woohoo, I thought I was the only freak. The fact that the other trigger-happy wool-winder is a four year-old sporting Batman pajamas is a bit disconcerting…

  14. I feel for you. We have less than a week to go for all five of mine to be home everyday from the 24th to the 4th. And only one of them is even mildly interested in knitting.
    Hank is a cutey-pie and those batman jammies look quite comfy. Who could blame him for not wanting to change? Will Aunt Steph be knitting a batman mask? A cape perhaps? or those really nifty gloves with the batwing scallop thingie running up the outside? He had boots like that too … ooh Batman socks with the scallop thingie up the back …

  15. HA! I live with Batman (or is it Spiderman today, or maybe Flash) so he can’t possibly be in Canada. Thank goodness for Superheroes.
    Spring Break began here today, too – I feel your pain (crying…with a houseful of loud boys!)

  16. Holy ball winder, Batman! Hank is a boy after my own heart-I just love Batman. And I just love those pictures of him-too precious. And I feel your pain about the whole break thing. I have a few more weeks of sanity until mine is home. Whee…

  17. Definitely a knitted utility belt. My son abruptly abandoned Spiderman for Batman, so I know. His best friend at school asked me the other day if I could get some string and “needle” him a spiderman blanket for naptime.

  18. All I can say about this extended break is I am very happy my children are in daycare and I cannot take holidays right now.
    Hope you survive!

  19. After listening to me laugh heartily, my husband wanted to know what was so funny. So I just sat him down and let him read the adventures of Hank for himself. He also had a good laugh.
    Do you realize what this means – you’re a cross-over blogger now! Knitting skills not required…

  20. My four year old and his best gal Alex were playing over here the day I borrowed a ball winder and swift from a friend – they were entranced for hours. Ball winders and preschoolers – a magical combination!

  21. My 8 year old daughter is very fond of my ball winder. I didn’t know there was an auto eject feature, she usually runs into to trouble when she starts winding backwards. I don’t think I will tell her about the auto eject possibility:)
    My kids are homeschooled but march break still affects schedules and activities and means having extra kids around. Here in Halifax, today was the last day of march break.
    p.s. i like post it notes too:)

  22. I had to laugh! My nearly five not four year old lived in his Spiderman jammies for months! At first I was relieved – until he decided he wanted tto be Mr. Incredible! (Who’s super power is Being In Charge, at least that’s what I was told!)
    Enjoy your time with Hank!

  23. Wow! Look what superhero fun I have to look forward to–my 15-month-old isn’t too interested in superheroes at the moment. However, I think this may be a good excuse to buy that ball winder (a toy for the baby and a toy for me all in one!).
    Of course, that means I need more yarn. To practice with, that’s all.

  24. And I was under the impression that the whole province had march break at the same time. Oh well. This is the last weekday of mine. she’s back at school on Monday. Watch out, after that 10 day business, they won’t be back for 5 minutes before the 4 day weekend called Easter is upon us.
    The garter leaf is looking beautiful.

  25. So far, Hank has chosen science geek superheros, and has transitioned from the angsty young man who combined a brilliant scientific mind and a chance biting to the angsty “mature” man who builds a whole lot more than a redwood deck over the weekend. Good on Hank! I can overlook his lack of interest in Wolverine, who is Canadian and has some personal habits Hank probably shouldn’t explore for a few more years. Unless you want to knit a cigar for him.

  26. Am I the only one who thinks it’s cruel that they’re making you endure Spring Break with the kiddies but withholding actual Spring? That’s positively perverse….

  27. My first March Break since 1988 without any of my posse. Too weird to even talk about. I sure could use Hank (and a hanky). Enjoy!

  28. Hank never fails to make me laugh. In the midst of my allergy-induced-brain-fog I am now immensely cheered up! Thanks Hank 🙂
    I am studiously ignoring the promised snow this coming Sunday and concentrating instead on the lovely little daffodil noses poking up in my garden. I’m especially happy to see them since many of them were moved last fall when some little shrubs were installed and this proves they survived my ministrations. 😉

  29. OMG, in that pic with the post-it’s Hank – I mean Batman looks just like Sam when she smiles! What do you think ladies? Am I imagining it or are they like identical cousins?! Heheheh.

  30. Hank is the cutest kid ever.
    I am sending you California springtime vibes! It’s only fair, since you’re dealing with break…

  31. Hank and my three year old daughter should get together. As long as there were TWO yarn winders they would have a blast. She also likes to wear strange costumes all day so I forsee a future for this relationship! Or do you think a girl in a firemans hat, goggles, superhero cape (dishtowel), halter top, shorts and rainboots would be a little much for him?

  32. Okay, I’m feeling inspired to have some offspring. Hank is too cute! Remind me of the screeching and apple cores and endless meals again? Amazing how those pics wiped the “let my example serve as a warning to you” impression I was getting from the beginning of your post…

  33. Funny, I have a husband who does that same ball-winder trick. And heaven help us if the swift is set up… In additional to going nuts in a childish and uniquely masculine way, he has a running commentary of the motion from a fluid-dynamics point of view (ah the 24-going-on-4 year old engineer)
    I just love your pattern! It’s so unique and pretty.

  34. Ball winders are equally attractive to girls! DD’s friends love to come over and wind.
    A trick for winding a bigger ball of yarn. If you wind a pretty full ball, then pull it off just a bit, you can wind more, pull a bit, wind more, etc., until it’s touching the wire guide. Carefully push the guide out a bit and hold it that way, and you can wind a bit more on the ball. You know you’ve maxed out when the yarn on the ball keeps hooking into the wire guide.

  35. My frighteningly bright two-year-old is dying for me to teach her how to knit. She is entranced when I sit with her and knit while she holds a tea party for all her “friends” (bears, bunnies, ducks, frogs, lizards, etc.), and insists that she is “knitting like Mama does” with a string and her index fingers… I’ll have to pull out my swift and see what she does!

  36. Wow- Hank’s face couldn’t possibly be any cuter. Your garter leaf cardigan is lovely- I really like that stitch pattern. You’ll be ready for pretty spring leaves- hope they are just around the corner!

  37. I must be like Hank on some level… I had Batman Underoos when I was little, and I love my ball winder, too… And you know, we have the same kind of ball winder!

  38. ROTFL, I want a ball winder…. only a week’s break? We’ve got Easter holiday starting 3pm Thursday, kids will be off for two weeks. Have stocked up on new craft ideas etc.

  39. Awwww, {{{Hank}}}.
    By the way, DON’T ever drop your blue ball winder on the floor, aiming just so, in order to break off one of those pin-type things that hold it to the edge of the table, because …. well, I’ll just say that you don’t know the meaning of the word “frustration”, until you do that. I’ve put up with it for three months, and today I’m getting a new one.
    A black and gold Batman label would be very dignified:

  40. All across North America knitters are moaning … oh no, Spring Break! It’ll be me cranking White Stripes to drown out the calls of “Mommmmmmy, she just ________” followed by wails of indignation.
    Our school board sometimes inflicts that extra day upon us. Of course the last time I keep my daughter home on that extra day (bitterly complaining all the while) I got a call from school inquiring about her absence.
    Sweater pattern is very pretty and that will be a great color on you.
    Tell Hank we’ve all sent one airborne. Ems and I laughed hysterically (but we saw it coming).

  41. Hank is awesome! He can come to my house and wind yarn anytime. I will wear my Wonder Woman outfit and we can go around Chicago fighting for truth, justice, and Canadian style health care for all!
    I love your blog!

  42. If I ever find a yarn winder at a yard sale/flea market, I am going to send it to Hank. If I were “flush” I’d send him one now so he’d have his very own when he visits you. He is the cutest little boy I have seen since my step-son was that age. I’m totally in love. 😉

  43. The look on Hank’s face after the ballwinder exploded is priceless! His pain is real. I’ve never had mine fly across the room like that, but then, I’ve never wound yarn in Batman PJs!

  44. Amy, you don’t want to fight for Canadian style health care…in Montr�al we’re not allowed to get sick on weekends because the docs don’t work. Unless you want to sit for eight hours in the emergency room…which is what I have been doing with my kid right after her “week” break. She finally goes back to school and catches some foul bug…greeeeaaaaat. Hang in there, Steph, at least you get it all at once and when it’s over, it’s over…we are “looking forward” to the four-day Easter weekend. Sigh. My eye is twitching so much I’ll never be able to properly hide the kinder eggs.

  45. We love Batman around here, too. You could knit long, black, Batman gloves, with those fin things on the side to keep up your “Super-cool Aunt” image.

  46. Hank is a doll and a peach. I just saw these and wonder if you have them where you are. Made me wish that kids in the US were prohibited from Barbies and GI Joe. Good luck with the ravening hordes. And think of us empty nesters who’d gladly borrow a kid or two to have a bit of extra excitemenr.

  47. You’re a braver woman than I – I won’t let the little fingers near my beloved Mr. Windie (hehe). But they love when I use it – they all stand around in fascination. Perhaps Fischer Price should take notes on this LOL

  48. I feel Hank’s pain! And if only he was a little (substantially) older I think we would make the perfect couple. As long as I found my superhero pj’s…they’re here somewhere!

  49. Spring is coming. Yesterday up by Lake Superior I saw the willow tree buds had turned a bright rust color. It stood out vividly against the new snow, and was made even more visible by the 40mph winds whipping every thing around.

  50. I hate to admit it, but actually prepping the roving before I spin it makes a difference. Like I can almost spin as fine as the housemate. Thank you for the moving words and pictures.
    And the giggles. I am a female and I just love the ball winder.
    We got little green sprouts when the glaciers recede. Hope is in the air.
    Laura J, waiting for bloody Amazon to send the bookbookbook.

  51. My husband just loves my wool winder! I’ve got it set up next to my computer so I can wind wool whilst I read email. As soon as I start to wind something he takes over. :o)

  52. You’re Hank is JUST like my Luke! He used to fluctuate between Spiderman, Batman and the Hulk, but now it’s pretty much Spiderman all the time, with an occassional appearance from Batman. Luke is 3, almost 4… I never thought about occupying him with the ballwinder. GREAT idea!!! Thanks!

  53. Steph, I adore you, and your commenters, but I’ve got to say: THANK GOODNESS FOR MARCH BREAK.
    You see, my dear Harlot, while you have 2, or 4, or even 8 extra kids for a few days, I no longer have NINETY. An entire week of ninety fewer essays to mark, ninety fewer melodramas to catch before they turn ugly, ninety fewer potential skippers to catch, and ninety fewer ear-splitting demands to deal with.
    For many weeks of the year, I adore your children. (Well, not YOUR children, but children LIKE your children) They become like my own. I love them and care for them and teach them to knit. However, every once in a while, teachers need a week to do four things: first, to mark that backlog before report cards. Help with the math: home at 5 pm – 90 assignments, 5 minutes minimum per assignment is 7.5 hours. Bedtime is 10 pm. That’s 2.5 hours that don’t exist. Even if we stagger assignments, something anyways slips through. So usefulness of Break #1- we’ll have marks for your children. Usefulness #2 – I can clean my house. Usefulness #3- spending time with their own kids. Usefulness #4 – getting enough sleep, food, and relaxation that we don’t have a permanent twitch over our left eyebrows, and we don’t begin to ponder how well ball winders work on intestines.
    I love ya to bits, Harlot, but please, for the sake of the health of the students out there, enjoy March break, and pray for us the first day back.

  54. The precious look on Hank’s face at the winding mishap is so genuine it stopped me in my tracks. When does he hit the sticks?

  55. The White Stripes aren’t that bad. At least they aren’t cranking out Korn or Metallica.
    Jack White did a really nice album with Loretta Lynn. Go figure.

  56. Very nice cardigan!!. Over here in the US we call it Spring Break lol I feel for you, I am getting dragged to California to visit inlaws, there will be children there from age 1 to 13 and i am dreading it. Good luck with your sanity and knitting

  57. Congrats on the great review in the Knitter’s review Newsletter – everyone needs a copy of your book indeed!

Comments are closed.