Going, going…

Gone.

Going

Without a word of a lie, watching Amanda walk away was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s a strange phase of mothering I think, this part where you have to let them go, right when they are old enough to get up to the sort of no-good that makes you want to keep them close by.

I didn’t cry (loudly) and I didn’t make a scene, and for the record, neither did she. We arrived at the airport, checked her in, and waited until she was through security and out of reach and sight before leaving. I watched her go and tried not to yell stupid embarrassing things at her disappearing back. Things like “I’ll wait right here” and “Don’t go”. That was at 5, (flight at 6:30) and Joe and Kelly (who works at the airport) convinced me that hanging around the airport waiting for the flight to leave, even though we couldn’t be with her was silly. I came home where at least she could phone me. I hovered around the house, knitting, feeling odd and out of place and busying myself with stuffing the compulsion to run back to the airport and save her from the big world, way down. At 6:11 Kelly phoned to say that Amanda’s bum was in her seat. I went and took a bath. I lay there in, listening to the planes going overhead and wondering which one she was on. Was it that one? That one? That ones engine sounded funny. Maybe I should call someone? Tell them that my child, the one I have invested 16 years of my life in, is on a plane right now and that I think it flew over my house just this minute and that the engine sounds a little off and maybe they could just radio the plane and ask the pilot if everything is ok? Just get him to check.

I felt ok while she was in the air, her flight landed at 3am our time (9am her time…HER TIME. My child is in another time zone. I’m dizzy.) and I started waiting for her to call.

She didn’t. Not all day Sunday.

I don’t understand the cruel tearing of motherhood. I often say that mothering is a unique occupation, and the only one in which you are trying to put yourself out of business. The whole idea of it is to spend whole decades trying to create (in the most labour intensive way possible) a whole new human being who doesn’t need you. It’s ironic that in the beginning, being a good mother is about carrying them with you, staying nearby, rocking, walking…keeping close and never letting them out of your sight, and then suddenly you have this whole almost adult person and being a good mother is suddenly about standing back and letting them just walk away and worse than that…pushing them to do it and then hanging around the house afraid to go buy milk because they might phone… It’s horrible.

Tea

I keep looking at this picture of her. Every time I think about getting on a plane and going to Austria and just showing up at the hotel I look at this. (Imagine that? Amanda comes back from a concert and I’m just sitting on the edge of the bed. All I say is “You didn’t call”.) She’s drinking tea and somehow that means something, doesn’t it? It’s not a sippy cup, she’s not drinking apple juice. She’s a young woman, and there’s really no difference between allowing caffeine and allowing a trip to Europe. Right? I’m knitting like a fiend and engaging in my new hobby, which is clutching her itinerary and imagining where she is at this moment. It goes perfectly with Sam’s new hobby, which is telling everyone in the family what time it is in Austria. Still no call.

I snapped on Sunday afternoon and called her, I felt nauseous when the man who answered the phone at the hotel said “Guten tag” (What have I done?). She’s fine. She loves it. Austria is beautiful. I didn’t say any of the things in my head. None of them. I didn’t say “be careful” and “watch out” and “are you ok”. I have to believe that my instincts are such that I wouldn’t have sent her if I didn’t think she could do it. I said “Have fun” “see everything” and “take pictures”. I got a little loose at the end and said “I miss you” but she didn’t say it back, I’m taking that as a sign that I’m doing my job and making a person who doesn’t need me. Eyes on the prize. I’m knitting.

Singles, chocolate and spinners limp.

Tomorrow, Amanda leaves for Austria with her orchestra. I’m losing it. I have to tell you that every mothering instinct I have tells me that taking a 15 year old girl to the airport, kissing her goodbye and watching her get on a plane to another continent is insane. Completely batty. A few loops shy of a cast on edge…if ya catch my meaning. I’ve washed her clothes and taught her how to convert Euros to dollars, I’ve cautioned her about taking her money out in public and bought extra strings for her violin. I’ve told her everything to be careful about that I can think of and then I’ve told her (once I have her good and neurotic..) to not worry and to relax (carefully) and have fun. (I think Amanda feels that I may be a bit of a paradox at the moment.) We live in the city and I keep a close eye on my teenagers. I know where they are, what they are doing and who they are with. I know all. I see all. How then is it that this kind of completely fretting and bothersome mother suddenly hauls off and sends the kid to freaking Europe for two weeks? How I ask you? How?

I’m a little worried that I may have some kind of involuntary spasm of over-controlling parenting at the airport and find myself unable to let her out of the car. Worse than that…I think Amanda would be strangely relieved. She’s nervous. I’m nervous. What are we doing? What kind of a mother won’t let a kid date but sends her to Vienna? What sort of mother tells the kid “No bloody way” to a 10 o’clock movie but says “Vienna? Cracow? Sure sweetie, let me help you pack.” I’m out of my mind, and I’m only getting weirder as the flight time approaches. I think that Joe’s starting to think about taking me down with a sedative blowdart like something out of wild kingdom.

In between running around yesterday to get everything my 15 year old daughter will need while she is in Europe and not at home with me where I know what’s going on…(sorry. It’s so hard to let go) I spun up the singles from Laurie’s roving.

Singles

I won’t tell you how to spin singles. There’s tons of information out there. (This site is amazingly helpful…they have film clips of how to do this stuff) I can tell you what I do differently for sock yarn, or what I do that I think might be unique or helpful.

Since I have the roving pre-drafted nicely before I start spinning, I get to go pretty quick through the pile of roving goodness. Socks get a lot of wear so I want the yarn to be durable. To this end, I try to put a little more twist in than I usually would. (Not so much that it’s going to lose it’s softness though…it’s a fine line and only experience can tell you where it is.)

Pinch

Also, because I want the yarn to be very smooth, I hold back the twist with my right hand (the hand pinching…) and pull back with my left to control the amount of fibres being allowed into the twist at once, then slide my right (pinching) hand along to smooth the fibres and bring the twist. If I don’t pinch, the twist travels into the drafting zone and my yarn is furrier.

Draftingzone

In this picture you can really see the drafting zone. It’s the fan of fibres in between my right hand (holding back the twist) and the left (pulling the roving back to thin the fibres.) My right hand is firm and my left is loose. If I don’t keep it loose the roving bunches in my hand. Loosey goosey, barely touching. Note that this doesn’t work if you weren’t completely obsessive and anal retentive to the point of madness, cautious with your pre-drafting.

At some point in the very beginning of the spinning I stop, pull a length of singles back toward me and wrap it around my fingers like this.

Estimate3Ply

Then I let go and let the three plies twist around each other. Doing this gives me a pretty good idea of how my navajo plied (which is three plies) yarn will look. I see if I’m putting too much (spinning “wire”) or not enough (spinning something that’s going to drift apart in the plying). I also give it a think in terms of thickness. Do I need to beef up the singles? Thin ’em out?

A smarter spinner than me would put this little sample nearby so that they could repeat this process a couple of times during the spinning so that they could have a little something called “consistency”. Me? My middle name is danger. I do no such thing.

If I like everything I see I carry on.

Draw

You can see in this picture that I have a white cloth on my lap. This is a modification that I use…I have two spinning cloths, one white and one black. I use the lap cloth that contrasts my fibre because I don’t see well. Someone suggested it to me early on and it’s helped enormously. (Really Steph? Seeing what you’re spinning has improved results?) The blue fibres I’m spinning here would be nearly impossible for me to see against my jeans.

Longdraw

Generally speaking I use the long draw method of spinning, moving my fibre supply hand (my left) back away from the wheel in a long smooth arc. You can’t see it, but a thread of yarn connects my hand to the wheel, because I’m spinning sock yarn you can see that pinching/smoothing right hand following. If the fibre was crap (or if you skipped the pre-drafting) I wouldn’t use the long draw. How far my hands are from the spinning wheel is a testament to Laurie’s skills. Also a testament is the fact that I was just going to sit down and spin for a little while, but the roving is so beautiful and easy to spin that I just kept going until I was done. Today I have the most wicked case of spinners limp. It’s not likely to improve either…since the urge to navajo ply it is overwhelming. (I’d rather not discuss the fact that I am apparently undeterred by physical pain and disability. Joe pointed out that even lab rats eventually learn that trying to get treats isn’t worth it if pain results from the attempt. I have nothing to say to him.)

Search for spring (Attempt 2)

There is absolutely no naturally occurring spring here. I’m not going to depress you with pictures. It was -27 with the windchill the other night. I was seriously thinking about Belize again when I trudged through the falling snow to Lettuce Knit the other night. When I arrived, there was a package for me! Lynne sent me some spring!

Lynne

Among other things…Lynne tucked in these lovely springtime rovings. She’s right too…I do feel better. I could suggest of course, that the reason that I feel better is because me and my stitch and bitch buddies hoovered the entire package of Aussie cookies that she sent before they even hit the table.

Timtams

Tim Tams (not to be confused with the Newfie “jim jams”) are darned good. There was some talk of “Slammin a Tim tam” (cell phone calls were made, details were gathered…Canadian common sense prevailed and we just ate them rather than risking some sort of Australian cookie daring-do that could endanger the cookies.

Thanks Lynne, for restoring my faith in spring.

Tune in Monday when we discover if I made a scene in the Airport, if Amanda made a scene in the airport, if I have managed to lay off the spinning enough to regain full use of my right leg and to see navajo plied yarn.

You spin me right round…

Posting late today. Have any of you bloggers figured out how to do away with those pesky real life annoyances that interfere with regular blogging? You know the ones…jobs? Kids? Spouses? Anybody hit on a way to explain (tactfully…always tactfully) that you would really rather be blogging than earning a living?

I started up yesterday with Laurie’s roving, but first (and I hear the Gansey brigade getting ready. Look at them, fingers poised over the keyboard, ready to leave me comments about poor wee ganseyless Joe…abandoned, cotton clad and unloved with another Tuesday spun away) first I spun and plied another 150m skein of Joe’s gansey wool. (Joe does all right around here, I assure you.)

Gansey4

Take that Gansey Brigade! Ha ha! You thought you had me, but I’m to shifty for you. Just when you think you have me pegged as fickle and unreliable, bingo. Gansey yarn. This brings the total to about 650m, and impressed Joe enough to lull him into my blog web, taking pictures of Laurie’s roving.

I had this great spinning teacher and she was always going on about “prep”. When I was a new and excited spinner, this ticked me right off. I didn’t want to “prep”, I wanted to spin! Spinning was fun, prepping was not. I can say with reasonable authority that I think most spinners would agree…since I have never heard “prepping” presented as a standalone hobby. You never hear anybody say…”oh yeah. “prepping”? I love it. I don’t give a rat’s arse about spinning, but drafting and combing are just the bomb. Why, I don’t even own a spinning wheel but I’ve filled my whole house to the rafters with drafted rovings.” As a new spinner, I didn’t prep a whole lot. My spinning showed it. The teacher was always saying that the more time I put into getting fibre ready, the nicer the end spinning would be. This concept (planning ahead, investing for the long run, thinking things through…) was not me. Finally, I was forced to “prep” in front of her and was shamed into doing a good job. The spinning was so easy and pretty, so consistent and lovely, that I was immediately won over. I am now all about the prep. I’m telling you this because you don’t have to be. This is my way of doing it, it gets the results that I like, and I think it’s best for me.

Find your own way, there are no right answers. Spinning is like knitting, if you are ending up with something you like, then you aren’t doing it wrong.

Rovingonsnow-1

Step one: Step one is making a decision about what I want. I’m hooked on the continous change through one skein that I get with Laurie’s roving if I draft it in one piece. If I wanted striping yarn, at this point I could (though I choose not too..) strip the roving lengthwise into pieces. Stripping it in half would give me two repeats of the colour change. Stripping those again would give me four, and so on. Since I want one long change, I’m just starting the drafting. Even though Laurie’s roving is beautifully made the dyeing process compresses the fibres a little and makes them stick together. The first pass of pulling opens the fibres, unsticks them from each other and begins to draw the fat roving out into a thinner one.

Drafting1

All I’m doing is starting at one end of the roving and working toward the other, pulling the roving gently between my two hands. My hands are fairly far apart, and I’m moving pretty quickly. I’m not aiming for a whole lot of accuracy, just general looseness and lengthening.

Draft3

Next, I’m back to the start with my hands closer together. I try to get them about a staple length apart. Wool is deeply variable stuff, and the staple length is the length of the hair. If we were talking about people, we would say that people with short hair had a short “staple” and people with long hair had a long staple. For pre-drafting, I start with my hands a few inches apart and pull gently. If I feel no movement, I move my hands apart a little at a time until I find the spot that the roving “gives” or starts to slide when I pull. This is about the right distance for my hands to be. I move along the roving, maintaining this distance and further lengthening and slimming the wool. This time I’m trying to even it out. I pull it apart more in thick spots and less in thin ones. I’m looking for evenness.

Drafting2-1

Finally, a third pass. This time I’m repeating the step above, again with my hands about a staple length apart, but this time I’m thinning it down to the fineness I want to spin from. I find that the thinner I make this go…the faster and more even the spinning. If Laurie’s prep were not as anal retentive lovely as it is, then I would be on the lookout for neps (little knots of fibre than will make lumps in the spinning) or vegetable matter (straw, hay, grass etc) and pull them out at this point. Lucky for me, Laurie’s roving is as perfect as it is lovely.

I do this last pulling in shifts, immediately prior to spinning, since once it’s drawn out this fine it’s pretty fragile. I take the stage two roving and put it in a pile by my spinning chair and break off arms lengths as I need them. With Laurie’s roving I’m very careful to keep the colours in the right order.

Today, I spin it …right after I try to reclaim it from Millie, who obviously thinks it’s the best seat in the house.

Millie

It only seems fitting, as we discuss lovely wooly things and making them by hand, that I give away the knitting journal that Emma made.

Msf-Fullcover-Sm

The cover is felted wool (dyed by our esteemed Emma) and combined with the fur of her very own bunny, Gir. The spine is wood, there are blank pages, graph paper pages and project pages to fill in the details of your work. Each and every bit of it was made by Emma, and clicking on this link will let you read all about it and see more details. This of course, is so that you can all be profoundly jealous of Julie S., who owns it now. Congratulations Julie. Wish I was you.

Damn it. Now I’m coveting prizes and trying to kick Willie Nelsons arse. I’m showing so little personal growth.

Women’s day

I mentioned that they were done, but I couldn’t stand posting crappy pictures of them, so waited for sunshine. I’m glad I did. Here, (in several pictures, because I can’t hardly contain the happiness on one blog), are the finished Mitaines Sans Frontières tricotez pour Tricoteuses Sans Frontières, comme collecteur de fonds pour Médecins Sans Frontières. (If I am very lucky…someone will now correct my crappy French).

If you prefer English, these are The Mittens Without Borders knit for Knitters without Borders, as a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders.

Msfdoned

Msfbraids

Msfdone

I’m working up the gumption to give them away. Soon.

Today is International Women’s day, and it is worth noting that the Knitters Without Borders are almost completely women. (In the interest of accuracy, I can tell you that to the best of my knowledge, of the 627 members, 5 are men.) I updated the total for you. Knitters without borders has raised more than $60 000. For scale, I can tell you that Willie Nelson’s concert fundraiser brought in $75 000. Think about that for a minute. A hoard of knitters raised almost as much as Willie Freakin Nelson. Then dance. Feel powerful. Celebrate Women’s Day. (Try, if you are like me, to give up the urge to raise *more* than Willie Nelson. Competition is not good for your soul).

Finally, if you can stand it, remember that not all women are as powerful and rich as you. Some of the money we sent to MSF will go Women in Darfur, where it will change lives in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. I am forever grateful, both for your incredible generosity, and for the knowlege that no matter how sympathetic I may be, no matter how much I read, I will never fully understand their plight. I am very lucky.

In honour of you powerful women….Gifts!

Pam R. is continuing the karma wave by donating Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns. originally published in 1943, this book is a classic resource.

Marythomas

Shannon S. will be having a good time with this.

Mary H. sent this.

Quiviut

Take a deep breath my friends. Deep breath. It’s handspun qiviut. (Qiviut is finer than cashmere and warmer than wool. It’s the downy undercoat of the artic musk oxen. It doesn’t felt and It. Does. Not. Itch.)

Annie J. , please take good care of it.

Jenny has this beautiful Koigu. Enough for a pair of socks.

Jenny'skoigu

I’m hoping that Jennifer D. is a Koigu Virgin, since I love watching people discover it.

Christie H is another one who can’t something without giving something back (do you see how this is going to go on forever?)

Christiescarf

She’s donated this beautiful scarf to the cause and it’s going to warm the neck of Jill T.

Betty B. has a copy of Alice Starmore’s Fishermen’s Sweaters that will be going to Katherine L. Merci Betty!

Ann Budd wrote: ” I’ll donate a copy of my book The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (autographed, if whoever wins would like), along with The Knitter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements. ” Isn’t she nice? Ann will be sending (and autographing) her books to Megan R.

As always, I have emailed the lucky ladies. Tune in tomorrow when I give away Emma’s book and begin the Laurie’s sock yarn spinning tutorial. Promise. Happy Women’s Day.

Choices, choices choices…

In a profoundly Harlot moment, I decided not to spin the roving over the weekend. I promise that the moment the sun comes out and lets me take decent pictures of what I’m doing…you will be party to the whole shebang. Instead, all knitting time was devoted to the persuit of the perfect pattern for the green peace fleece dk.

What I want: I want a cardigan with a zipper, not buttons. I am short and not very big, so I know I want a smaller sweater so that I don’t look like I have borrowed my dad’s clothes. Further to that, I know that I want set in sleeves, since drop shoulders are unflattering to me. (The drop part inevitably lands below my elbows, meaning that either I get arms that are way too long, or if I have the presence of mind to shorten them in the knitting…that I am knitting freakish 6 inch sleeves.) I also know that I want something sort of easy…since I want this finished before the weather turns too much for it to be useful this season.

The hunt begins. I got every magazine, book, leaflet and pattern note I have ever written myself and put them all in a huge and untidy pile in the living room. I always start this way, but don’t actually recommend it. It’s overwhelming. I made a pot of coffee and flipped through everything, making two piles. One with potential sweaters in it and one of abject rejects. At this point, I don’t worry too much. If I like a sweater but it’s a pullover instead of a cardigan, I keep it anyway. If it’s a drop shoulder, I keep it anyway, If it’s the wrong gauge…I keep it anyway. I am only selecting things that I like in the broadest possible sense. I figure (in my misguided little mind) that these are all things I can fix.

When I have a loose pile, I start weeding through. In this case, I had seven left. Since I don’t swatch (Look…I said it. No lightning hit me…no plague of locusts…Nothing) I just start knitting sweaters. In this case, the first thing I tried was Alice Starmore’s “Fern”. Why I chose this (and I refer you back to the “What I want” section above) is beyond me, considering that it is A) Huge. B) has drop shoulders. C) is a pullover and finally D) is complex. To my credit, I was going to modify it fix all those things (except for the complexity, which, naturally…I was increasing exponentially.)

I cast on the back (Dumbass. Note to self: if you are going to resist swatching, and insist on starting things that are likely not going to work, why don’t you start with one of the fronts, or a sleeve..or something smaller than the back? Why?)

Pffern

See the pretty texture? No? Me either. (I swear there are cables) Fern met a timely demise.

Next, having been thwarted by the texture, I decided maybe the yarn wanted to be lace. I cast on (The back…double dumbass) of a simple cardigan with fishtail lace.

This was abandoned when the cast on edge proved to be to “swoopy”. (This would have been predictable if only I were not a dumbass.)

Pffrill

Clearly, lace was not the thing. (Dumbass again. A more reasonable knitter would have thought that swoopy lace was out, not all lace.) I cast on a plain jane garter rib cardi with no bells or whistles.

Garterrib

This one was abandoned because…well. I don’t know. I can’t tell you. Didn’t have it going on. Little to rustic? Little to masculine? Besides, the gauge was off. Too floppy. I missed an opportunity here to waste way more time by reknitting it on smaller needles to discover that it was now rustic, masculine and not floppy. It did occur to me to give this piece a wash though…which was clever, since the gauge changed a great deal.

Screwed by texture, lace and ribbing…I decided that maybe I was overthinking (I do that) and cast on another sweater. Points for finally getting my head together and casting on a front instead of a back. (You will kindly ignore that I cast on three backs before getting my head out of my arse.)

Pfplain

This lasted a while. I liked it, was happy with the gauge, but in the end it was frogged for two reasons. One…I didn’t like the way the seed stitch border stuck out where it was horizontal and receded where it was vertical. (Completely unexpected …I mean, who would think that just because seed stitch has always done that in every single incarnation it has had on the planet that it would do it this time? Who would think that? A Dumbass. That’s who.) Two, I decided that I liked the yarn too much to knit it plain. I wanted something special.

Back to the magazines I went, and found a beautiful sweater by Sally Melville in Interweave Knits Winter 00/01 called “Ballet Cashmere”. While the sweater itself is lovely, it was all wrong. Wrong gauge, wrong style, pullover…..but the stitch pattern itself was lovely. I re-figured my basic plain cardigan above to fit the stitch pattern (I’ll worry about the set in sleeves when I get there. How hard can it be?) and started a front. (Ladies and gentlemen….She can be taught!)

Pfgartervine

I was basically happy with this one, but thought that that the garter didn’t show up very well, so yanked it back (an aside here? This hank of Peace Fleece two ply dk has now been ripped and re-knit FIVE times and still looks great. This is nice yarn.) I cast back on with a 3.75mm (US size 5) needle and started again.

Pffinalf

Is it a keeper?

Fresh

Look what arrived in the mail:

Rovingonsnow

It’s the beautiful roving that Laurie was dying in the tutorial from last week! Stunning, heartbreaking and spectacular. It’s beautiful enough to improve the snow I sat it in.

Judith in Ottawa wrote:this beginning spinner would also appreciate those spinning tips. Like how does a fat roving become singles yarn without either disturbing these gorgeous colour gradations or snarling into a bunch in my hands…

No problem. I’m going to document the process here and continue the learning curve, such as it is. Look for first steps on Monday, in which your local Harlot tries to do right by Laurie’s roving, gives herself a wicked case of spinners limp, and tries desperately not to shame the wool of wonder with her spinning.

Also Monday, a return to TSF gift giving, (I updated the total. Look. Be stunned.) mostly to serve as a distraction from the substandard spinning of the honoured roving. (A little note to everybody who asked, The Knitters Without Borders swag shop is here, gotta post a link to that on the page I think…).

I got a very nice present from some friends (you know who you are, and that I love you) and I’m itching to knit it.

Peacefleece

I have enough of this beautiful yarn to make just about anything (except a car cozy or something) and I’m desperately searching for an idea. I thought about Alice Starmore’s Fern, but it’s a pullover and I have a profound preference for cardigans. I thought (naturally, because I am me and apparently I like things to be hard) that I could modify the pattern, but I’m thinking now that there has to be something like it out there that would do already. Ideas? It’s DK weight Peace Fleece (Kamchatka Seamoss) . Swatching (fine. Not swatching. There’s no point in even pretending I’m going to swatch. Swatching is here used to mean “casting on project after project and ripping them out when they fail to amuse me) is scheduled to begin this evening and will undoubtedly continue for several days. Does the presence of a new project mean that the MSF mittens are done? Brace yourself. Oh. Yes. They need a wee blocking before they are ready for their appearance but they are done. Done. Done.

Finally, I have decided to be hopeful. It is inevitable, since I have it on good authority that the planet has not stopped turning) that spring will come. Margene has it. Laura has it (look at the green leaves behind her pretty green shrug) and I want it. I went looking. I’m going to keep looking until I find it.

Signs of spring: Day 1.

Highpark

Toronto’s High Park, this morning 9:30am. Er…the only sign of spring there was a psychotic knitter trying to find spring. Clearly must keep looking.

While I am looking, I will give this apology to Norma, who’s blog entry I completely, totally and accidentally ripped off yesterday. I have decided to take steps to prevent this from happening again. Firstly, I have decided to stop speaking with Norma. Clearly she is getting into my head and I have begun to channel her. I’m sure she will appreciate this, since if she’s getting to me…God only knows what I am doing to her. Secondly, since Norma is apparently innovative and I, derivative (she posted first) …I will write my blog entry each day before reading hers, but post it only after visiting her blog to check for duplicated material. Should I find duplicated material, I will delete my entire post promptly and flagellate myself with a hank of rough hemp yarn until I don’t feel like Norma anymore. (It is disturbing that we both spent the evening before coming up with, knitting and writing the pattern for Dulaan hats.) Finally, as penance I will knit one of Norma’s charming Dulaan hats and send it to Mongolia along with my hat, trying to bring good back into the world.

Lastly today, my publisher/publicist has a request. She would like to know where you guys are, and if you have a favourite yarn/bookshop. I have no idea why she would like to know…but I dare to dream. Can you faithful knitters leave your location in the comments today?

Ken’s Dulaan hat.

Today is, my little pets, a very special day. Today is the day that we celebrate Ken‘s birthday. Ken’s my best friend and an extraordinary person. I love him a great deal and today I will cook pork chops for his birthday dinner to prove my love. If you are not aware, your local Harlot is a vegetarian. Cooking pork chops is a sincere and loving expression of my dedication to him. (We will not discuss that neither the children nor Joe got meat on their birthdays…this is my game and I make the rules.)

Five reasons Ken is pork chop worthy:

1. He is charming. I have it on good authority that Ken gets his hair cut with his eyes closed so that he gets a surprise at the end.

2. He is brave. Ken will try anything once, including things that other people would never consider, like bungee jumping, ice climbing or skydiving.

3. He is dedicated and determined. Ken will stick with something even when it is clearly not working because he believes (and he is mostly right) that his intelligence will sort it in the end.

4. He is loyal. Ken has never said an unkind thing about someone he loves. (An add on to this one is that if he doesn’t like someone the conversation is going to be very entertaining.)

5. He is generous. Ken buys exorbitant gifts like a drumcarder for me or an I-pod for Hoi-en, a snowboard for Sam, or voice recognition software for Lene.

(My frugal mother would call this “more money than sense”, but he’s getting pork chops so it’s clearly working for him.)

There will be much more about Ken’s birthday tomorrow….but for today you get Ken’s Dulaan hat. This hat is not for Ken to wear, I’ve probably made him 20. This hat is for Ken to give to the totally brilliant Dulaan project, spearheaded by the lovely and entertaining Ryan. (Hop over and see what she’s up to.) Ken knits, but he’s been too busy lately to make much headway (pun intended) so I’ve knit this and will send it in his name. (present #1) As present #2, I’m writing the pattern down here, so that anybody who wants to can make a Ken’s Dulaan hat, thus ensuring his name lives in knitting infamy. This took an hour to make, and that included figuring the pattern. Think about sending one along to the Dulaan people in Ken’s honour.

Ken’s Dulaan Hat:

Kenhat

Materials: About 40 metres of Lion Brand 100% wool “Van Gogh” , sadly discontinued. Three strands of Worsted weight held together, or two strands of chunky will do.

one pair 12mm straight needles (or whatever you need to get gauge…)

Gauge: 7 stitches to 10cm. (I find this hysterical. This makes your gauge 1.75 stitches per inch. I think it’s normal for this to hit your funny bone. You might not want to try and explain to normal people why it’s so darned funny though)

Cast on 30 stitches. Pause and laugh for a minute, since you are knitting a whole darned hat for a real sized human and it has 30 stitches in the cast on.

Knit 1 row. (this takes seconds. Mere seconds)

K1, P1 across the next two rows.

Right side: Knit one row, increasing two stitches equally spaced. (32 stitches, yup, still funny)

wrong side: K1, purl to last stitch K1.

Right side: Knit.

Repeat these two rows until you have worked 11 rows and have the right side facing for the next one. (It is good to pause for a little giggle here, as you have, in fewer than 15 rows, knit the main bit of the hat.)

Begin decreases

First row: K3, *K2tog, K2, repeat from * until 5 stitches remain, K2tog, K3

Second row (wrong side) K1, P2, *P2tog, P1, repeat from * until 4 stitches remain, P2tog, P2.

Third row: K1, K2tog across row, K1.

4th row: K1, purl across, K1

5th row: K1, K2tog four times, K1

6th row: P2tog 3 times (3 stitches remain)

Work I-cord for 10cm and fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing up. Thread the tail down through the I-cord and sew up the back of the hat. Weave in the tail you started with, tie the I-cord top into a cute overhand knot, do a little dance and invoke the name of Ken.

One superwarm stashbusting hat in way less time that you ever dreamed possible.

Finally today, I have to thank Stitchy McYarnpants. She had emailed me some time ago telling me that in her travels on this earth she had found something that “was meant to be” mine. Now, it concerns me a little when people say this. I worry about weird blog insights and strange connections and….well. Weirdness. I also worry, when people say “this is PERFECT for you” and then give me something that really isn’t, that I will have to lie or something. (I hate lying. Probably because I suck at it). So when dear little Stitchy said that she had something that was “meant to be mine”. I felt a little nervous. The sweetie was excited so I went along. What could it be?

Today I got the little notice that they had a package for me so I trotted to the post office, hoping against hope that it was her box, because she sent it a long time ago and we’ve been worried. Indeed it was from her and I opened it up….filled with fear and excitement all at the same time. I would never, ever have guessed in a million years what Stitchy had found and mailed.

Woolpigs

Wool Pig salt and Pepper shakers.

I’m speechless.

Joyce is not screwing around

So it’s snowing. Still, more, again with the snow forever. We are trying to make the most of it. (Yes. that is a tomato cage on the snowmans head.) This photo was taken last night before we got another 15cm.

Snowdude-1

but I have to tell you that even if the kids think they can go on…(Psst…Elizabeth D. Check out the hat on Sam’s head!) I’m about ready to bury myself in a snowdrift and wait for the thaw to reveal me.

Snow

Here is an abbreviated list of things that I am sick of:

1. The bottom 10 cm of everyone’s pants being wet all the time. I hate this. I keep forgetting that the bottom 10cm of my pants are wet and then tucking a leg under me when I sit on the couch and wetting the couch and my arse. I have been doing this for 4 months. I am clearly not going to learn, so the snow must go.

2. Stepping in puddles of shmutz everywere I go. These slushy puddles of road filth, slush, snow, ice, salt and the spit of demons are at every single intersection and there is no defence.

3. Drying a perpetual and unceasing number of boots, mittens, scarves and hats on every single heating register in the house the whole day long. (This smells as good as you think it does.)

4. I would like to just go for a walk. I would not like to spend five minutes considering what paraphernalia I may need to do so, (Shoes? No, too cold for shoes, Boots? Yeah, boots, hat with earflaps? Scarf? Mittens or gloves? Thrums or not?) and then searching all of the heating vents to find my chosen garb, and then going outside and discovering that I’m cold anyway.

5. I would like a decent tomato. I do not know what winter tomatoes are made of, but it is not tomato. They are pink and strange and tasteless. The weak pink winter tomato is a metaphor for all that is wrong with late winter.

6. I am tired of dealing with the potential for “Snow Days”. Every-time there is a storm we get up and listen to the CBC in the morning with mixed emotions. I am praying that the schools are open, the children are praying that they are closed. There is no happy ending. No matter what the CBC says, someone will be heartbroken. (It is better if it is me. I only cry in the bathtub).

There are other issues, but let’s simply leave it at: There is no Spring here.

There is no reason at all to go outside, but plenty to stay in.

Carolyn sent me these

Stephaniep

which entertained me to no end. I also enjoyed that Carolyn pointed out that my name is an anagram for

Antisheep

which is really not true, but very funny. (We will not discuss how much time I spent trying to make my name spell other words.)

I started a little bit of mohair fun…It’s a scarf, but you’ll have to wait and see what kind.

Mohairs

I would have taken a better picture of it, but my backdoor will only open about 6 inches, due to the amount of snow blown up against it. Oh, wait…

7. I am sick of the weird vortex effect that deposits all snow in the neighbour hood on my property. There is a woman down the street that I believe has not shovelled (maybe swept…I saw her with a broom) this entire winter. Her share of the vortex is the wind whipping every single snowflake off her property and depositing it on my steps and against my back door. I toy with asking her to do a little snow removal at my house (it is her snow after all) and in some particularly bitter shovelling moments…I think about returning it.

Finally, Evelyn (fully understanding my obsessive nature and interests, mailed me this book…

Latviandreams

It’s Latvian Dreams: Knitting from weaving patterns By Joyce Williams. (Note: I have provided an Amazon link for illustrative purposes only…I remind you to support your local independent bookseller as you see fit, though this book is a little hard to find). I am obsessed with this book. Obsessed. The book begins with an extremely useful and interesting section on technique, and not a single paragraph made me feel confused or nervous. Very, clear thinking there, and well explained for even those of us who bore quickly and have a low threshold for this sort of thing. (Most tech articles and books leave me cold. It takes about three minutes before everything I’m reading stops making sense. I try and read it, but it all sounds like the teacher in Charlie Brown…”Whah wah, wah wah wah…”) This book would be worth it for the technique section alone. The sweaters are very, very cool, though not quite to my taste…but the charts? The charts are an opus. There are several that are just begging to be mittens (but really…what isn’t?) and there are some that are so stunning that I feel a thrill of Joyce’s brilliance when I see them. These are, no matter what your mind tells you…two colour charts. The shading effect is from the way that Joyce has charted the two colours.

Joycec2

Joycec1

See that? See how it’s…, well, the best word is “interesting”. Really, really fascinating. Doesn’t it boggle your mind? Don’t you wonder what the risk of stroke is, should you decide to knit this? It’s the whole big world if knitting, and people are up to the damnedest things. Behind these charts are page after page after page of beautiful, useful, completely do-able charts, should you think you’re not up to the above. Joyce is a goddess.

Joyce is not screwing around.