Owen Sound is where?

Owen Sound is where I spend the weekend, signing books and celebrating knitters at “Knitterday” at The Ginger Press.

(I also spent much of the weekend obsessing about having said “arse” during the Knitcast Interview with Marie. I did. There’s just no controlling myself. You can hear it for yourself, on the off chance that you wonder what I sound like. There’s a spot or two on the podcast where I sound quite odd to myself, due mostly to a weird echo I could hear while Marie was recording. It turns out that the only thing that can shut me up is…well. Me.)


Beside me in the picture is Ted. Ted is worth mentioning because he is knitting a lace shawl from his own handspun. The handspun is so fine that I feel like a serious slacker just sitting near it. (Psst…Sally in California? I’m signing your book in that picture. Say thank you to Vicki.) If you’re still looking for a signed book and are convinced I’n not coming near you… The Ginger Press has a few and is happy to do mail order.


The sock enjoyed the view, Owen Sound sits (not surprisingly) in a Sound that looks onto Georgian Bay in Ontario, (Map here, for the curious.) and really couldn’t be a prettier spot.

Owen Sound has tons of Waterfalls and the sock felt that it would be remiss if it didn’t see local colour. There were warning signs, but luckily…


They said nothing about socks.


The sock was swung leapt to a brilliant vantage point to see Inglis Falls. (Really, the best part about this was that there were two guys walking the Bruce Trail behind me as Emma and I tried to get the sock to a photogenic spot. They were trying not to stare, but really….two women swinging a half knit sock around a cliff edge while photographing the entire thing with an air of seriousness? I would have liked to hear them try to explain what they had seen back at home.)


Once we had already established our insanity, there was no reason to hold anything back, so the sock went rock climbing.


From the perspective of a textile worker, one of the most interesting things about Owen Sound is this Black History Cairn.


Owen Sound was the last stop on the Underground Railroad, and the cairn symbolizes much about the trip from the States to Canada and freedom. The ground of the cairn is tiles made by a local artist, each representing part of the Quilt Code. Slaves could not read or write (it was illegal to teach them) so instructions and information about escape needed to be passed on in other ways. The quilts could be hung out to “air” thus providing a signpost for travellers.

A “Log cabin” square could indicate a safe house, or “Wagon Wheel” could indicate that a wagon with hidden compartments for slaves to hide in would be leaving soon. Extremely interesting.


The sock was gripped. Owen Sound also has a neat Mini-Mill…more about that (and, er…the yarn they sell) tomorrow.

Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago on this day, at 9:26 PM, Amanda was born, and I became a mother.


Today, Amanda is a worldly, lovely, decent human being that I like a great deal. (I think the fact that I really like my kid is worth noting.

I am honour bound by the international code of mothering to love her. No matter what she does, no matter who she turns out to be and no matter how much laundry there might be on the way, I have to love her, and honestly….I don’t know how I would stop…but liking your kids is optional, and I like her anyway).

Today I’d like to offer Amanda my personal congratulations for surviving 16 years of dodgy mothering. My baby, my funny child, my sweetest first is sixteen years old. She is no longer anything I can call a child, no matter how desperately delusional my hopes are. She is the beginnings of a young woman….and I am going to need to begin to let go a little bit.

Before I do, there are a few things I’d like to thank her for.

I’d like to thank Amanda for being my guinea pig. (I bet her sisters are grateful for that too.) I’m sorry about the 26 parenting books I ripped through in the first six months of her life before I learned to trust my gut. I’m sorry about the night that I let her to cry in her bed, I don’t know what came over me. I mistakenly thought for just one evening that some 48 year old manly-arse of a pediatrician knew more about my baby than I did, and I believed him (however briefly) when he went on about a 9lb person needing to learn to “self-soothe”. I understand now that people who cannot possibly meet thier own needs are completely excused from the attempt. I was sleep deprived and fell for his fancy lure of the promise of sleep. Amanda had the decency to screech at the top of her lungs for the entire time that I followed his instructions, thus making it perfectly freakin’ clear that he knew nothing about my particular baby.


I’d like to thank Amanda for eating all of the fancy-ass baby food that I made. I don’t know what I was thinking when I made all that zucchini-apple puree. I thought it was important at the time. I understand now that I should have spent that time playing peek-a-boo and simply mashed a steamed apple with a fork.


I’d like to thank Amanda for the patience that she has taught me so far. All the times that she pushed me, all the times that she did things her own way, all the times that she refused to be anything other than the person she was….I had to learn.

I’d like to thank her for all the flexibility that she’s taught me. (The year she was two was really a time of profound growth for me). She taught me that just because I had it figured didn’t mean that my approach was right for everybody. That just because I thought I was in charge didn’t mean I was in charge and that just because I was the mother didn’t mean that she wasn’t a whole person with a right to an opinion that needed considering.


I’d like to thank her for helping me to learn to laugh at myself, to lose gracefully and to be empathetic. She taught me that a lot of the time being a grown up means sucking it up.


I have to thank her for being a demanding kid, because it taught me how to be generous, how to share…and that sleep is a privilege, not a right. Amanda was the person who taught me that people go before things, that love comes before money, that laughter is better than laundry and that your kids really, really don’t care if you dust the house, but that they would like to have the time you would have spent doing it.


Finally, I’d like to thank her for growing up so well so far, for not being pregnant or on smack, and for making the last 16 years a pretty good trip.

Happy Birthday Amanda.

Are you sure we are friends?

That’s what I thought when Norma gave me this yarn.


It was a profoundly confusing moment. On the one hand, here we have someone I like giving me yarn. Yarn giving is (at least in my world) a special show of affection and an excellent hint about the sort of person you are dealing with. Someone cannot be a bad person and be giving you yarn. It’s not possible, it doesn’t make any sense. When it comes to yarn related behavior I am a predictable simpleton. If you are giving me yarn, then we are friends.

On the other hand, she was giving me Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. I love this yarn, but it drives me to distraction. Feeling the way that I do about flashing and pooling, yarn dyed in very regular intervals can drive me around the bend, leaving me a few jalapenos short of a zippy salsa, if you catch my meaning.


The trouble is that yarn dyed in regular intervals DOES things at regular intervals, and it’s a complete crap shoot about what that might be. Alison got Shazaam lightning bolts. Sheila got beautiful swoops. Me? Blotches.


I can forgive a yarn many things, but not blotches. The offending yarn was stolen out of my car stuffed in the back of the linen closet in a fit of frustration, though I have many times considered sacrificing it down by the old river under a willow tree and a full moon in an attempt to ward off future variegation insurgencies.

When Norma gave me more yarn that will not obey my will, I was perplexed. Here we have Norma doing something I love, giving me yarn in colours I adore, at the same time as she’s clearly trying to drive me berserk.

I could see what was going to happen laid out in front of me like a vision. I would have to knit the yarn, because Norma gave it to me, and she would be eager to see it knit up because it was such a generous gift and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Then, despite all my best efforts the yarn is going to blotch or flash or do something incredibly unattractive, because I am me and I covet Lorna’s Laces and so it must vex me, and then I’m going to do something horrible that will make Norma hate me, something like complain on the blog, or, in my desperation to get out of knitting blotchy socks without hurting her feelings….. be reduced to lies about a large bird.

That’s it…a really big bird. I was sitting in the back yard, knitting on the socks (which I really loved because suddenly I was all about the blotchiness) drinking coffee and really reflecting with fondness on Norma and all she does for me, when suddenly, a shadow fell across me. Startled, I looked up and horror swept over me as I saw an enormous bird (freakishly large really) careening out of the sky with wings as wide as a trailer, eyes as red as blood and a dark evil soul that read like murder.

I ducked, instinctively covering my head with my sock holding arm to protect my eyes when it hits me…..I must save the sock yarn Norma gave me. I twisted then, arcing my yarn holding hand away from my head toward the ground and safety. As I did, the mammoth raptor snatched the back of my sweater (which really gets me mad, since it’s an aran.) and suddenly lifted me from my feet. As I was rising through the air toward the clouds and certain death, I panicked and in a terribly moment I will regret for all of my life, I did something that I will always remember with shock.

I wound the yarn, Norma’s precious special gift to me, around the birds talonous leg and lowered myself to safety, defending myself with my DPNs and my upper body strength. Which totally explained why I still have my favourite super sharp sock needles, but sadly, the blotching sock yarn is lost to me…lamentably carried away …having saved my life.

Right after I tell Norma this, Norma is absolutely going to tell her blog about it. Someone is going to be a bird expert and they are going to be all “Hey Norma…I don’t want to stir up any trouble between you and Steph, but really, for the sake of accuracy, the biggest bird in Toronto is a stupid pigeon.” Norma is going to know then that I couldn’t take the Lorna’s Laces heat and she’ll know its a lie and that will be it.

We won’t be friends anymore.

I could see all that stretched out in front of me when Norma handed me the Lorna’s Laces, and I took it…sort of choked up because it was so beautiful and it looked so innocent and it was going to ruin everything and there was nothing I could do. I brought it home and then yesterday I got to thinking that I might as well get it over with. The only thing worse than these socks ruining our friendship is having Norma bug the hell out of me for 6 months beforehand, so I dejectedly cast them on, wondering to myself how many rows it would be before the blotching would be so bad that the bird would arrive. I knit around and around…each stitch bringing me one step closer to the moment that it was sealed…feeling weepier with every round. Why me? Why had Norma done this? Was it innocent? Why couldn’t my Lorna’s laces be as beautiful as everybody elses? Why does yarn taunt me with it’s regular intervals and unattainable patterns? Why couldn’t I get swoops or stripes or…or…


Oh. Ahem. How embarrassing. Never mind.

PS. Thanks for the sock yarn Norma.

With a vengeance

Oh yeah. I knew that weird feeling would go away. You know, that feeling where I briefly consider finishing things and only having a couple of works in progress. Turns out that not only was I completely validated by the blog, but that destiny is totally on my side. ( I was particularly moved by Sock Jedi Sandi’s comments.

“A Sock Harlot are you. Deny it you cannot. Your destiny it is. Knit you must.”

As a matter of fact, I had just about decided to cast on for a pair of socks in the Feather and Fan pattern from “Socks, Socks, Socks” that Cassie used, and I was only trying to decide between two different sock yarns (A or B?)


(Cherry Tree Hill/ tropical storm)


(Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock/ Seaside)

when the doorbell rang. Now, we have not spoken much about this, because I prefer my excesses to be inferred rather than graphic, but you can imagine that over the course of the last leg of the tour I may have bought some yarn. (Let’s let the *some* be vague.) Laurie (That Laurie) met up with me on my last day of said yarn extravaganza book tour, and did the best thing that a yarn buddy can do. She mailed what wouldn’t fit in my suitcase. The doorbell was the package arriving. Since I was tired and hopped up on merino when I packed the box in a dark parking lot, it was a pleasure discovering what was inside.


This made me forget about socks. Kid Silk Haze for Birch. Two balls. Yup. Two balls. At the Stitch ‘n Bitch it turns out that Birch takes three. I’m crushed, but notice that Megan has two balls in stock so I call home to get Amanda to read me the lot numbers.

They don’t match. (Of Course they don’t match. Why would they match? Would the fates be that kind? No. The fates don’t knit. The fates are toying with me through lot numbers and a viciously bad memory that won’t let me buy correct amounts of yarn. Dumbass.)

Plan B. Buy three balls of new Kid Silk Haze from Megan, trade her my two and pay for one.

No. Megan only has two balls.

Plan C. Knit a Birch that only takes two balls.

No. Birch is a top down shawl. If I miscalculated I would run out of yarn and want to kill myself or a nearby innocent bystander.

Plan D. Knit a Birch that only takes two balls but knit it from the bottom up so that I can quit when I run out. This plan involves writing a chart for Birch and then turning the chart upside down and knitting it that way. (Sounds too simple to work doesn’t it?)


It does work, but the idea is abandoned anyway because if I’m going to knit a Kid Silk shawl then I’m not going to skimp. (Feel free to note the date and the time. I don’t often resort to swatching.) I’m going whole hog. Why feel bad about having a smaller than average Birch for the rest of your life (and end up compensating with really big needles or something…) when you just had to hunt up another ball. I bet Jill at Kaleidoscope has more, and besides….even if I have a third ball I don’t want to knit this shawl in a way that means that the rows get longer and longer. That’s begging for crushing defeat.

Plan E. Knit it the regular way, get another ball of yarn and carry on. Yup sirree. I cast on for Birch (299 stitches…but I’m not bitter) and knit two rows before it occurs to me that I’m a moron. I should totally not knit even one more stitch of this until I know I can get more.

This morning I called Jill at Kaleidoscope Yarns and cheerfully asked her to nip another wee ball out to me. Jill, just as cheerfully, told me they have no more of that dye lot.

Plan F. I’m mailing Jill back my two balls and she’s mailing me three of a new, but matching dye lot. I’m pretty fond of Jill today. Despite the fact that this plan means that I have to wait to cast on…(you know me. Instant gratification takes too long.) I will be able to knit Birch the fun, full sized way….Soon.

I’m going back to the sock plan as soon as I decide which yarn to use.

For those of you who voted yesterday for Option C: knit whatever you want but put more eligible knit-friendly bachelors on the blog…I give you Tim’s profile. (The following profile was not approved by Tim, who is so charming that he would never say he was.)

Tim is a 37 year old guitar player who has recently returned to Toronto after escaping a really great record deal in LA which threatened to leave him a hollow broken man with no soul or will to live. Luckily, he fled his rock n’ roll lifestyle and the perils of incredibly thin women and very expensive accessories and is now a desperately charming Harbour Captain with a stunning gift for literary reference and bizarre music lyrics. We know that all this makes him sound like a good catch, but caution you to seriously think over the words “guitar player” and all that they infer before this goes even one tiny step further.

Get a hold of yourself.

So really, I try to keep my sock knitting down to a dull roar. I think they are an ideal project and always appreciated by the local rabble and a pretty dandy thing to do with just a ball or two of yarn.

Since sock knitting has so many charms to seduce me with, I try to stick to a two pair guideline so that I don’t get carried away. No more than two pairs on the go at once. That’s it. So what’s going on here?


(I’m sorry. It’s a disease. I’m trying to do better. You will note a fairly vicious case of second sock syndrome here.) In the interest of full disclosure (and because I was knitting them in public and may have been seen by someone who will now totally rat me out to the blog) I also have to tell you that I was forced by circumstance to start these.


We went to that Sith movie and I needed something that wasn’t at a stage of sock knitting that required light. I really tried not to start them. I discussed with my inner sock harlot that I already had a lot of socks on the go. That I had plain ones and ones with intarsia and ones with stripes. Opal ones, Koigu ones…who could need more socks? I even tried Julia’s Jedi Mind Trick. “This sock yarn is not your sock yarn. This is not the sock yarn you seek.” Next thing I know I’m watching Star Wars Episode 3 with a brand new sock and a dirty feeling. I’m weak. I finished these to try and make myself feel better, but I’m still spiraling.


Clearly I’m breaking my sock rule. Clearly I’m out of control. We won’t even discuss that Laurie (That Laurie) gave me some of the deadly super sock yarn


and all that’s keeping me from casting that on is …well. I won’t say self control because nobody would buy that.

Maybe the Jedi Mind Trick is starting to work. (Maybe it’s the dark side.) I had completely sworn that I wasn’t going to cast on any more at all, when Cassie gave me these.


Cassie knit me these pretty, pretty socks which I have worn just about every single day since she gave them to me when we were visiting. (Stop that. It’s not like I haven’t washed them. I have a patented sock washing method. I wear them into the bath and wash them on my feet, then toss them over the side onto a towel on the floor. When I get out, I cover the socks in the other end of the towel and then step all over them while I dry off. (I use a second towel for that). As I walk to the bedroom I toss them over the bannister, or in the winter…onto a heating grate. When I get up in the morning they are dry and good to go again. I wash all handknit socks this way. I have attempted to develop a less odd routine for handwashing socks, but anytime I get more than one pair in a pile they become “laundry” and I am honour bound to avoid them. The method of sock washing recounted above is really more like personal hygiene than laundry.)

Now I feel like I need to drop everything and be knitting lace socks.

Do I give into the dark side? Do I resist? Do I use the force?

Care to vote for a position?

Position A. Who does it hurt to have a hundred pairs of socks cast on. Knock yourself out. Knitting is supposed to be a fun hobby, not about finishing anything…and who cares if your sock knitting mood goes up and down as fast as a whore’s nightie, resulting in half finished socks littering the house like fallen leaves in autumn. Knit!

Position B. A little self control is a good thing. Knitters with self control have more pairs of finished socks. You will knit them all eventually…have patience. Hold out. Besides, it entertains the blog to see finished things.

I will obey the blog.

Blog Business

I have just about finished adding the donations to the Knitters Without Borders total. (Only about 50 to go. Whew!) Check out the total, and know that I’m going back to giving away prizes as soon as I have all the eligible knitters on the list. (Yeah…the mittens. Other better stuff too.)

Happy Birthday to my buddy Tim!


(Ok, that wasn’t really blog business, but I got him to hold the sock so it would count.)

Finally, have I mentioned that I’ll be in Owen Sound this weekend?

Check it out, Saturday is “Knitterday” at the Ginger Press and I’m looking forward to the afternoon of spinning, yarn, books and yummies. If hanging out with me and a whack of knitters just isn’t enough for you, there’s a brilliant farmers market in the morning (Established in 1845), and naturally..the fact that Owen Sound has a whole pile of waterfalls should figure into your decision. Let me know if you are coming. They want to know how many sheep shaped gingerbread cookies to make. (Awwww….)

Under the bed, my arse.

For several years now, Joe and I have had no bedframe. Our mattress and box spring sit on the floor. I know that there are those of you who would think this uncivilized, but it has several advantages.

1. The bed never squeaks. Ever.

2. You don’t have to worry about what’s under the bed.

3. You don’t have to sweep under the bed. (Not that I would sweep under the bed, but I would feel guilty about it.)

4. You don’t need a fancy-arse bedskirt that’s eventually going to need washing and won’t be washed and will just become another piece of housework that mocks you at the beginning and end of every day.

That said, this weekend, in some sort of sunlight induced organizational fervor, I bought a bedframe. (This organizational fit happens to me every spring/fall. I believe it to be the result of a complex chain of events involving a sale at Ikea and a change in the weather. I can’t explain it.) Despite the very good reasons outlined above, I got to thinking that the downside of not having an under-the-bed location was that I couldn’t have underbed storage. If you live in an old house, a house without closets…you will understand the seductive nature of the “underbed storage box“. It’s like offering someone another wing on the house. I get a little sweaty just thinking about it.

We spent an hour this morning putting the ridiculous metal bedframe together, complete with a tape measure injury to my thumb that resulted in bloodloss, as well as a moment of marital discord when there were *some* pieces left over. (This doesn’t bother me. It *does* bother Joe. Usually the idea of something falling apart because you didn’t use all the screws would bug me, but it’s a stinking bedframe. What’s the worse that can happen? You can fall 30cm onto the floor. Ohhh..Danger. If we were assembling a roller coaster I’d discuss it. For now, all I wanted was the stupid bedframe that I’m only having because I’m psyched about the under-bed storage put together with a bed on top of it.

Frame assembled, there are a few awkward moments where we stagger around trying to get the mattress atop the wheeled thing (made criminally more difficult by the fact that I had already re-organized the closet (read “took everything out and threw it on the floor”) in preparation for all of those things going into my fancy new under-bed storage bins. I know a more organized less excited woman would have done things in a different order, but screw it.) but eventually we prevail. Joe and I step back, I reach for the glory that is my storage salvation…the underbed storage box, and go to slide it under the bed.

Now. Click here. Read carefully. See where it says “easy to push….in under the bed”? See that? See what it says? Would that not mean in every sane and sensible way, that Ikea intends for this box to fit under the bed? Ya think?


It is a standard bedframe, it is an Ikea “under the bed” box and the under the bed box will not fit. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Well sure Steph, it’s all part of the Ikea scam. Ikea under the bed boxes only fit under Ikea beds. You shouldn’t have bought the frame at The Bay. You deserve everything you get from Ikea….and more. This frustration you are feeling is the natural consequence of stepping outside of the Ikea family of products.”

HA! Wrong! I give you exhibit A:


This is what we had to do to the girls IKEA bunk beds to get the IKEA under the bed boxes to fit under the bed in the girls room. We added little blocks of wood to the legs to lift the bed up enough to fit the boxed underneath. Unfortunately, this brilliant McGyver-esque solution is not going to work on the metal bedframe with wheels.

I warn you now, learn from my pain.

It is a false promise of underbed storage held out by Ikea to taunt me with the concept of a clear closet, a place to keep sweaters and room for the ever expanding stash the things that we need space for. I have been led on by Ikea and I am crushed.

I own a bedframe for no reason. I have wasted a morning of my life and my bedroom is trashed. My fury is crimson. I will be discussing this with Ikea at some length.

Take me, I’m yours

I am in love with my shawl.


There is nothing about this shawl that I do not like. In fact, I like this shawl so much that I am even finding the way that it sheds little white alpaca pieces all over my clothes to be the most charming thing a piece of knitwear has ever done. It weighs nothing…

It is only air with tiny threads wrapped round it.

It is beyond beautiful. It is after lace is blocked that I always feel most like I have waved a magic wand, or worked a trick.


Last night I showed the shawl to Ken.

“Isn’t it lovely?” I asked, floating the shawl through the air in an arc. “Look at it…” (this is the part where even though Ken is already admiring the shawl and not looking at anything else, I make him look closer. Ken loves this part.) “See the little yarn overs? Look at the yarn overs… It’s so beautiful.”

“Well” said Ken “It should be beautiful. You tied a really complicated knot in alpaca dental floss.”

Dude has a point.


There are many things I find remarkable about knitting, but nothing more than this.

This shawl, this whole huge and beautiful thing, this thing that took three weeks and a small chunk of my sanity (not that I had a lot to play with in the first place) is made from one continuous piece of thread. One long filament, wrapped and twisted around itself in a way that means that if you were to pull on one end of it….the whole thing would come unravelled in a heartbeat.

It’s magic.


Official details:

Pattern, The Lotus Blossom Shawl, from Fiddlesticks Knitting. I can’t recommend Fiddlesticks patterns enough. The charts are huge , there are written directions for tricky bits and they are creative, beautiful and simple.

Yarn, a brilliant find from a small farm just outside Ottawa. True laceweight alpaca (not the fingering weight the pattern called for). A good substitute would be the Cherry Tree Hill Laceweight Alpaca. I’m guessing that I used between 600 and 800m. (Please note, I am a notoriously bad guesser. Horrible.) I thought that changing the yarn might make the end product a lot smaller, but my shawl measures about 70″, and the pattern predicted 72″.

Needles were 3.75mm bamboo circulars, which I regret a little, since I would have knit it twice as fast on straights, but I wanted to be sure that I could get it on planes.

A wonderful weekend to all of you, especially to all of us Canadians who are celebrating May two-four weekend. Crack a cold one, open the cottage and plant something. It’s the start of warm.

Bobbles and smart friends

This morning I finished the alpaca dental floss shawl.


We shall not speak of the length of the cast off edge, except to say that it consists of many hundreds of stitches, each of them determined in their own alpaca dental floss way to *not* be cast off, and that they are cast off in an exceedingly clever way that creates a very stretchy and beautiful edge…but doubles the work.

Add to that the fact that the edge also has bobbles and you have a perfect set up for unladylike swearing of the highest order.

(The most profound moment was when I took a break and went to get more coffee…discovering that the stitches waiting to be bound off had somehow leapt free of the needle and were lying, chinese noodle style, tangled and unravelling on the table. I won’t repeat what I said then, but it was creative, loud and unladylike. Something about the alpaca’s mother may have been said. My apologies.)

I am not a bobble fan. Or, to be more precise, I sometimes like the way that bobbles look on a piece of knitting but always hate knitting them. Always. This shawl wouldn’t be complete without them, so I knit them, but grudgingly. The only redeeming thing about knitting these bobbles is that part of the execution involves wrapping the yarn round their bases, thus allowing me to believe that I am strangling them. Very fulfilling tradeoff, plus it makes them look more perky.


(Tanya wanted to know what the fleece was. It’s a Carol Trotter Corriedale. She has the most beautiful fleeces. Jenn asked if I worried about matching fleeces for Joe’s Gansey. I would, but the gansey yarn is being spun all from this one enormous, hulking fleece currently residing in the basement. I wash and spin it a little at a time because….well. It’s huge. The shawl is resting on the second of two batches washed in the last 24 hours.)

When I was done the very long but totally worth it cast off, I set about blocking it. We have discussed my approach before. I am a full immersion, hard stretch, many pin blocker. A lot of pins. Like, a hundred or so. When I do a triangular shawl, most of the pins go along the top edge in a vain attempt to keep it straight. Failure to use a hundred pins in the top edge results in the shawl “swooping” between the pins. I hate that. I’ve often contemplated blocking wires for this purpose, but I’ve never got around to buying them.

I was complaining to my very smart friend Denny this morning that my top edge was swooping and that this was making me unhappy. (Mostly because I just kept adding more pins. I’d been at it for a while when I realized that I was going to end up pinning each stitch of the edge. Not clever.)


Denny (did I mention she’s clever?) suggested the solution you can sort of see above. (Sorry about that. A better blogger would block a white shawl on a dark surface for the purpose of superior blog images.) I took out all of the pins, basted a length of cotton through all of the stitches of the top, then pinned down each end of the string very tautly. Bingo. The edge is very straight, only took about 5 pins and (though I’m not sure this counts as a time saver, since I had already pinned the top of the shawl) was way, way faster than the hundred pin approach.

Clever. Denny is my smartest friend today.

Another ordinary day.

Just grateful to be home yesterday, I had nothing planned. I’ve learned a thing or two about burning out on re-entry and I’m slowly phasing myself back into laundry and housework. (I’m lying. You all know I’m lying. My normal approach to housework is slow. Slowing up my normal approach means I am doing nothing at all, with the exception of emptying Mr. Washie’s lint filter, an intimacy that, despite his recent dallying with Joe and the girls…we still apparently share alone.) I’d contemplated upgrading “nothing” to something like dusting, but was thwarted by the fact that in order to dust a surface, you have to find a surface. I was considering moving some of the stuff (read “yarn”) from the top of the piano and giving it a wipe when the phone rang.

It was Joe, who wanted me to come to the studio with a camera.

“Dude”, I said. “I’m working.” This was sort of a lie. One of the good things about being a writer is that you can say you are working just about all the time, since a huge bit of writing is thinking. What I was actually doing was knitting, but since I write about knitting that’s really work. (Brilliant eh?)

(I have four rows and a cast off to go on the alpaca dental floss shawl. I have posed it here with my wee violets, just for Chelsea)


Joe says “I need the camera” and then in a hushed tone “Gordon Pinsent is here”.

It takes a minute to register. Remember, I’ve been out of town. Clearly I have missed a few really interesting developments.

“Okey dokey” I say, and instantly shove the camera into my backpack. I thought then for a moment, and then shoved the sock in there too. It’s not every day that the sock gets a chance to meet an icon of Canadian culture, or someone who has received The Order of Canada.

I troupe myself down to the studio and when I get there it is really Gordon Pinsent.


I can’t explain to you why I was surprised that it was really him, but I was. (I spent a few minutes while he was singing trying to get a hold of myself. Mostly, when these impressive things happen I give myself a little talk. “Don’t say arse too much” (Trying not to say arse completely is out of the question) “Don’t gush” (Even though as a Canadian of my age group Gordon Pinsent is eternal and godlike) “Don’t talk about knitting.” (That one is just hopeless. Do I even have another topic? What was I thinking?)

We talked then for a little bit, about knitting (he learned in school) about famous Canadians (he knows them all) about The Canadian Celebrity Rules of Engagement (very different than those of our American friends) and about winning every honour that Canada has to bestow on an artist.

(Let’s not even try to relate to that.)

I was really trying to be all impressed and awestruck (I mean, c’mon. It’s Gordon freakin Pinsent) but truth be told, he’s such a charming and lovely man that after a few minutes you forget that he’s impressive, er, I mean… not that he isn’t…but, well. You know. (Shut up Stephanie) I left then (having apparently finally learned that when the voice in the back of my head says “Shut up Stephanie” I am probably mere moments seconds away from humiliating myself in some way that will be mean that I need to spend the rest of my life dodging Gordon Pinsent.) leaving behind the sock (for the music mojo…I mean, Ron Sexsmith held the sock. What could it hurt for Gordon to finger the cuff a little?) and the camera. When Joe got home I had this picture.


Take me now, for the sock has done it all.

(Last night I told my mother-in-law that I had met Gordon Pinsent and that he was lovely. “Oh yes” she said “that he is.”

“You’ve met him?” I asked.

“No Dear” she replied, “but he’s a Newfoundlander.”

Enough said.)

For those of you who are thinking that yet another Tuesday for spinning has gone by without even a nod toward Joe’s Gansey and suspect that in my wild attempts to distract you from my slacker attitude I have actually begun to corral Canadian celebrities to aid me in my despicable avoidance of the Gansey in question, I give you this.


Fresh washed fleece, drying in the sunshine of a Toronto spring.

I am immune to your gansey guilt.

Three points of business.

1. Lene has a new blog. Go torment her.

2. I updated the Tricoteuses sans Frontiers total. I hope the sun shines on all of you today.

3. Claudia needs your help. She and her accomplice (I think she’s married to him) will be putting themselves on a bike and riding in a fundraiser for MS, a cause very near to my heart. If you can spare anything at all, go sponsor her. (She’s bribing you with a shot at some very pretty yarn, but I know you’ll all do it for the warm fuzzy feeling it gives you.)

The balance of power

This morning, as the entire family gathered together in the kitchen to get in each others way while eating breakfast and packing lunches, Joe chastised me for stacking dirty dishes on the cutting board.

I was stunned. Completely stunned. I put down the shawl (the alpaca dental floss shawl is almost done, 20 rows and a cast off. I know it looks like crap, I assure you blocking is magic.)


and stared at him. Think for a moment about what had just transpired. My husband, who has many, many charms – not one of them having anything at all to do with cleaning anything at all, had just spoken to *me* (aka – the only person in this house who has ever spoken to another family member about cleaning anything) about the appropriate use and cleanliness of the cutting board.

Seriously, what happened here while I was gone? Joe cares about the cutting board? I would have sworn to you on a stack of laceweight merino up until this morning that Joe thought our cutting board was self cleaning. While I was gone he trained the children (with admittedly limited success, but let’s not focus on that) to put their dishes in the dishwasher, not on it. I’ve been trying to do that for years. YEARS. Other sparkling successes include:

-each member of this family enjoyed the company of Mr. Washie, with clean laundry resulting.

-only half the house is sticky.

-there is toilet paper.

-Joe cleaned the laundry area. The stack of memorial lint that I’ve been tossing on the top of the dryer for months? Gone. (Also gone are the 12 empty containers of laundry soap that I couldn’t quite manage to get to the recycle bin.)

-Amanda did an awesome job at the violin solo.


Ken recorded it for me…I haven’t heard it yet, but look at how she looks. Just look at it. I’m sweating and worrying and scared out of my wits about talking to knitters, and my daughter laughs her way through a solo? There is no pleasure greater to a mother (at least this one) than watching her children surpass her, despite dodgy parenting.

I am beyond proud and all the way to awestruck by this girl.

I leave for 10 days and the whole thing comes together?

(We will overlook, for the purposes of this argument, that there was a fire. It was a small fire, it was contained in the oven area and was put out by Joe and Ken – Not the Toronto fire department. Really, as Joe puts it, it is worth noting that there was “only one fire”, since for guys like Joe fires are not all that out of the ordinary.)

Suddenly Joe and the girls have inside jokes. They have a system. They have a dimension to the parent child relationship that wasn’t here before I left. It is worth wondering (because I am the type that thinks everything is worth wondering about) if I shouldn’t have left more often? Perhaps there is something to be said about stepping back a little.