Being a grown up.

One time, about 2 years ago, Ken and Joe and I planned a bike trip with the girls. Joe had to work for the first two days, so we planned to ride on with the ladies to our first night, camp, then ride on with Joe catching up with us later.

We miscalculated. Hugely. We miscalculated in a way that was so big that if somebody was keeping a list of “miscalculations on bike trips with children” this day (and night) would be right at the top of the list with a star beside it that meant that we were a special kind of stupid.

We left in the morning, with the goal of ending up at Darlington (75k away). We left too late. We thought a nine year old could ride faster. We thought we could stop more often, we thought that we could (even though it was our first trip that combined camping and riding) set up camp swiftly and easily.

All of this was wrong. Big wrong.

What happened was that it took us a very long time to get to Darlington. We arrived in the dark, through the park’s back door, with exhausted, wild children who hated our guts. We got lost inside the park, the whole place was (even though this defies logic) uphill, and the whole time that we were riding these crabby, crying, exhausted kids through the park (in the dark) we were riding through masses of webs that fell all over you, leaving all of us with the absolutely hysteria creating belief that we were being blanketed with spiders. (I have since, being an arachnophobe of the highest order, managed to convince myself that it was not *actually* that we had arrived on the particular magic night in Darlington that every single spider nest hatches, releasing billions of tiny webby spider babies floating on guy-lines into the night air….but that they must have been some sort of caterpillar. For the sake of my sanity I need to entertain this delusion to this day)

We eventually found a park ranger who directed us to our campsite, where we somehow managed to do the bare minimum to erect two tents and collapsed, miserable, dirty and exhausted into sleeping bags.

Then it rained.

Ken and I listened to the thunder for a moment and then it hit us. We had to get up. We hadn’t staked the tents to keep from being flooded, we hadn’t covered our stuff with a tarp, we hadn’t covered the bikes. We took a deep breath, staggered from the tents and spent the next twenty minutes miserably limping around the campsite in the smashing rain and mud wearing nothing but underpants and a bereft visage. During the whole episode, while Ken and I were in the seventh circle of hades and the children lay warmly sleeping in their tent, we said nothing…until Ken exploded with “I hate being a grown up!”

That’s how I feel today. The kids are in camp, the house is blissfully quiet, it’s much, much too hot to really work and I want to do this.


Sit in the shade of the backyard with an icy cranberry and soda and the start of the Highland Triangle, enjoying the heat and the summer and the quiet and the knitting.


Or if I can’t do that, I would like to play with this…


a really yummy lincoln fleece from Carma, who assures me that it comes from a very happy ewe in Northeast Iowa. It looks happy, doesn’t it? I washed a lock yesterday and it came up snowy and white and soft and….

I am a grown up, with responsibilities and a job and an ability to understand that I have to suck it up, so I am doing this.


Having a home office makes it so tempting to be a slacker.

I hate being a grown up.

Luckily, I have the weekend to look forward to. I’ll be speaking and signing books at Needles and Pins in London, Ontario on Saturday at 1:00, I should be there ’til 4, knitting, signing and having a wonderful time. (If you don’t come for me, come because Ellen just got a big honking shipment of Fleece Artist.) I hope I see you there. I’m really excited at finally having some Canadian stuff planned. Have you seen the tour page? It does my patriotic little heart good I tell you. A world of good. If you are planning on coming, would you be so kind as to email Ellen at Needles and pins (That’s her email,, just replace the AT with @) and let her know you are coming? The more she knows, the better your chances at a chair to knit in.

As a bonus, Ellen is making the signing a drive for her local food bank, which could use a little help right now, so please bring something non-perishable to donate, will ya?

69 thoughts on “Being a grown up.

  1. You and me both.. you and me both!!heheh
    Make you a deal! You write two pages this afternoon and I will too! Then this evening on to the cool drinks and the fun knitting!!(while my hubby cleans cause he’s the one who made the cable guy appointment for tommorrow and as you so noted it is toooo hot to do a dang thing today!!
    Now turn the fan on and write!!

  2. “I hate being a grown up.” Funny, I said that to my mother not 24 hours ago.
    And she concurred.

  3. you know…family trips always seem to involve rain…uphill everything (defying logic as needed) and a crying nine year old, yours or otherwise. only..yours didnt have mickey mouse..which always seems to make the nightmare worse….hmmm….anyway. I love the shawl, my poncho is jealous.

  4. Ditto on the grown up thing! All I want to do is knit, but I have a very cranky soon-to-be-one-year-old who seems to hate the heat as much as I do, and I’d also need to prepare a 2-hour presentation for a roleplaying convention in less than 2 weeks. *sigh*

  5. Everytime I went camping as a kid I woke up in a puddle, my parents wonder why I don’t remember these rain filled trips fondly!
    How about a tour stop near Chicago!

  6. Hi Steph! I just checked out your tour page, and Third Place Books is right up the road from me, like 10 minutes. If I see you there and then happen to be at Weaving Works too, will you be scared? :-).
    I’m being a grown up today. It sucks, but it isn’t much fun ignoring adulthood in a house you can barely walk through, with no clean clothes and nothing to eat. Hopefully, I can revert to irresponsibility tomorrow!

  7. Okay, Highland Triangle will have to join my list. I even have the book. Hmmmm.
    At least since you’re working at home you can knit while you write, right? I got good at that in college and now write better if I also have knitting in my lap. Unfortunately, I don’t think my boss would like the idea much.

  8. I’ve just started being a grown up and I already hate it! I had hoped that with time it would get better, you’re not very encouraging!
    Wow, that’s a huge tour! Will you visit Qu�bec too? mainly Montr�al 😉

  9. Thank you for the tour dates! I see you are coming to our lovely Portland, OR!!! Yeah! I cannot miss it! (and if you’ve never been to Powell’s, its Book Heaven – with an enormous used-book inventory) I’m inspired by your pushing past wanting to “play” and working instead. It’s a constant struggle for me too. Nice knitting – beautiful!

  10. I’m reading this while on an endless marketing call (blah? blah,blah! blah, blah,blah and blah). Thanks for the wonderful story and great pictures. Somedays I hate being a grown up, too!

  11. I tell my kids all the time that they should enjoy being kids as long as they can because being a kid is sooooooooo much better than being a grown-up. Of course, like all children, they can’t wait to be grown-ups. In fact, my daughter turned four (!) yesterday and after blowing out her candles, she whispered her wish to me, which was to be a grown-up. Sigh. I have to confess that I have never liked camping, much to the consternation of my ex, who loved it. I hate bugs, I hate sleeping on the hard ground, I hate no showers (or even worse, cold showers). That said, I love being outdoors, I love biking and hiking and outdoor cookery. Go figure. The start of the shawl is lovely. Have a better day today.

  12. Yup, on the grown up thing? Absolutely. Hate it. I don’t want to work. I don’t want to clean. I don’t want to cook dinner. I have a ton of yarn in the living room begging for me to play with it (I’m a new knitter and loving it), and I have a messy house and two cranky children upstairs arguing. Sometimes I wish *I* could throw a tantrum when I don’t get things my way 😉 But alas, I’m a grown up.

  13. Grown up? Who’s a grown up around here? I must be in denial because I’m sitting at my desk at work trying to convince myself that I should get to work. I’d so rather be knitting!

  14. I hate being a grown up, too, right now. For me, though, it’s all about dinners and taking care of ungrateful people who won’t eat the dinners.

  15. Yeah.
    Tour Page.
    You are *such* a freakin’ tease, Harlot.
    I go racing over there, nearly spraining my writing index finger on the mouse and what do I see?
    Still. No. Chicago.
    However, knowing my luck, if the knitting goddess allowed you to be scheduled for Chicago, it’d be for when I’m in Edmonton on business in October this fall.
    I’m just going to get a cold drink and knit on my lacey Peruvian scarf for a while…

  16. I hate being a grown up too! And I’m impressed by your display of willpower. The current heat/air quality in Toronto makes my daily public transit commute asthma and crankiness inducing, but I know myself well enough to know that if I work from home, I’ll spend more time working on the “simple for experienced and clever knitters but not for someone who’s probably JUST reached ‘intermediate'(that would be ME)and hugely time consuming for either category” baby blanket I’m hoping to make in time for my nephew’s Christening in 2 months but only cast on today (gulp) than I would doing my actual job. And since that job pays for the family home, food, clothing, and my yarn habit, I need to keep the nice people who sign my paycheck happy… Sigh… (think happy, successful thoughts on the blanket for me, would ya? I need all the help I can get…)

  17. Love camping. Hate the black flies and mosquitoes. Highland Triangle looks fabulous. What kind of yarn are you using (or did I miss the memo)?

  18. Ditto Caren. We hangers-on need yarn info please.
    Home offices aren’t all they are cracked up to be. Since you actually never get to leave the office that way.

  19. Generally at least once a day I think, I hate being a grownup too. I miss those days in summer of having nothing to do. Why oh why, didn’t I think that one day I would love to have nothing to do? I remember my great-grandmother saying, appreciate having nothing to do because someday you’ll have a lot to do. I figured she meant school days, now I know what she means.
    You could always work for an hour then reward yourself with a break of knitting. 🙂

  20. I so wish I could go back to childhood, except I’d like to go back with my knitting needles. Oh and being a child from NORTHEAST IOWA I can guarantee to you that the ewe who gave their fleece for you is indeed happy, because Northeast Iowa is the perfect place to be. (Can you tell I miss home.)
    It is also a good thing I do actually work in an office, an behind a glass door so I can’t hide, because if I worked at home, I’d soon be fired, I’d never get any work done with all my knitting tempting me.

  21. I took the day off work today so that I COULD work at catching up on my office stuff at home. So far I’m reading blogs ….. hmmmm
    On a happy note I see that you are going to be in my hometown of Vancouver in August. Any idea where you might be?

  22. Well,…yeah, OK, being a grown up does have moments of epic suckiness but it sure as heck beats the alternative. Nobody to tell you (and enforce) an arbitrary bedtime. You don’t have to eat anything you don’t like. Sure, you get ordered around but you get *paid* for it. And so on. So glad to be an adult. No desire to go back.

  23. Caterpillars are preferable to spiders? Aieee.
    In her essay “Still Just Writing,” Anne Tyler talks about always having wanted to be a grown-up. Considering whether it lived up to expectations she says it did — “I like everything about being a grownup but the paperwork.”
    ‘Course, Peter de Vries said “I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.”

  24. Eastern canada is still missing from the book tour, grumble, grumble. However, maybe it is just as well you aren’t trying to fly in or out of Halifax this summer. The weather has been grey, cold and rainy or foggy way too often and each time it messes up all air travel because of work at the airport. My kid has to fly to winnipeg on sunday for an interview, I hope the weather is good this weekend.
    I hate being a grownup too. I have a pin on my backpack that says cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

  25. Gaaah…is that Lincoln as soft and shiny in roving as it is in fleece? It’s obscenely gorgeous.
    I, too, write at home in my failed bomb shelter…uh…home office…and today, it just is not happening. The spinning, however….
    Is not what I get paid for 🙁
    I’m almost done with my super-duper-practice-kit roving…yours is next, and I hope I can get it to be a bit thinner than a Crayola Biggie.

  26. Of course, sometimes it really does suck to be a grown up. I just remind myself that it can be fun to decide what to make for dinner, even if it’s just homemade sangria! That will take away some of the pain!

  27. The main benefit of being an adult is that you *can* knit a lovely shawl and spin. Sure, there is work to be done as well, but the rewards are pretty huge all around, aren’t they?

  28. Shawl pretty!
    I hate being a grown up too, commuting to work every weekday, having to sit an an office to ensure me and mine aren’t thrown out of our rental place and NOT SPIN OR KNIT all day long (except I take knitting for the train trip), having to do grown up things….
    Did you really just wear your undies? LOL.

  29. Oh, honey, being a grown-up bites the big one. Repeatedly. And even though my job is one of the least demanding in the world (I’m sitting here in air-conditioned comfort, reading knitting blogs and eating animal crackers), the fact remains that I had to leave home, my cat, my knitting, put pants on (an unnatural state in the summer. I should have shorts on until the first freeze, for cryin’ outside), drive to my office, and do stuff for money. Something is terribly wrong with this.

  30. Oh, yes. Not to be a grown-up sometimes. I am sitting at the reference desk not working.
    bookbookbook – I see the tour page lists that you are coming to San Francisco on August 2d. You are actually coming to Berkeley to a very nice new store called Stash. About 5 minutes from my house and then about 15 minutes to find a place to park. But I’ll be there – having taken off early from work.

  31. Stephanie, did I miss something or what? I went to look at the Powell’s website to see if they were as excited at your coming as I am and when I did a search by your name I find I can pre-order your next book. The next one already? I have scarf projects that are taking longer than your two books have seemed to take.
    There is something wrong with that.
    Are we all bringing socks to your signing in Portland? So they can have a big sock convention?

  32. The Highland Triangle is GORGEOUS! Being a grownup certainly has it’s sucky days 😉

  33. I hate being a grownup too. And it is too hot to have the computer on. Aren’t book signings work?

  34. Being a grownup absolutely SMELLS. Quite probably of wee. On the other hand, though, if I wasn’t a grown up I wouldn’t have the skillz to knit…
    WHERE is the pretty triangle thingy from?? And oh the yarn is SOOOOO lovely.

  35. You make me laugh – I feel the same way…the knitting and mineral water are calling and I must work on a soccer portfolio for daughter.s team. I just need to know who volunteered me for this….

  36. The Highland shawl is going to be lovely! Already the triangle looks completely wonderful. Also enmired in writing and NOT liking it, but the Maine finally has Maine-like weather — warm but not humid.
    Being grown-up is okay; having deadlines at work is NOT.

  37. My idea of roughing it is slow room service, so I’m not surprised at the horrendous camping stories. Why this is supposed to be fun is beyond me…
    C’mon… knit the shawl. You know you want to… (a friend’s most sacred duty is to lead you into temptation)

  38. I checked out the tour page at your prompting and am quite happy to see that a time has been posted for your appearance at Stash on Aug 2nd. I’m even more happy that it’s at 5 pm, so that I don’t have to miss too much work in order to get up there. 🙂
    But, I thought you should know Stash is in Berkeley, not San Francisco…. although listing it as SF would certainly give me the advantage of getting a great seat while everyone else is wandering around on the other side of the bay. *grin*

  39. I wake up almost everyday thinking “I hate being an adult”. I love your highland triangle. Why is that I like everyone else’s highland triangle more than I like mine?

  40. Uhm, Stephanie? What does the red button do? Super Powers? Ejection seat from fighting children? Instant transportation to the nearest knitting shop?

  41. I don’t camp. I am, to say the least, afraid of the dark. Terrified of spiders, and quite certain that if a bear does not devour me first, then a crazed maniac with a hook for a hand will certainly get me. I panic when it storms, and only put a brave front on for the kids when it thunders, even though on the inside I am just as scared as they are. I would say that I hate being a grown up, but I am not sure that I am really one of them :/.

  42. Yeah, I am not a camper…I cannot relate…and I am glad that I can’t relate!
    I’ll be there saturday…draging my sister (a knitter…but not a KNITTER!)

  43. … touring @ stash in august means that you will be in berkeley bezerkely … can say it from the bottom of my heart … san francisco is across the bay … enjoy …

  44. Every once in a while, especially if I’m with DH and 13 y.o. son and our housemate and we’re getting more than a little punchy, we have to decide who will be the “responsible adult” and be the “voice of sanity”. Personally, I think this “grown-up” thing is waaaay overrated!
    Love how the Highland Triangle is striping with your varigated yarn!

  45. I hate being a grown-up, too, sometimes. Especially when it involves paying bills. Of course, there are some advantage of being grown-up. Like not being forced to go on miscalculated bike rides. 🙂

  46. (hooh! aah!)
    (Well, don’t you know)
    That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang
    That’s the sound of the men working on the chain gang
    All day long they’re singing (hooh! aah!)
    Deadlines suck. A little Sam Cooke and a beer might help.

  47. Appropos of nothing (though I hate being a grown-up, too), I must send this link that proves once and for all that you do not have big hair: _That_ is some big hair.
    I must also add the sadness that is having only 9 months of Harlot archives to left read. Yes, I am a recent, grateful admirer. Thanks for all the laughs!
    (Sorry for the poor pic quality. I couldn’t find a live link or bigger pic. This one was mailed to me in an invitation to join Rowan International.)

  48. I bought the bookbookbook while in Seattle in May and have only been allowing little bits at a time to be read so as to make it last. Then I see “updated tour info” and spot some Western Canada dates. Excitement! Wee! And then the sadness. Seattle August 4th, Vancouver August 6th. No Victoria. It’s a lovely island…and we knit, honest!

  49. 75 km? In a day? Oh, I just checked the conversion to miles:
    1 kilometers = 0.621371192 miles
    Have you been “in training”? You know, doing 10 km sprints? 30km trips every Friday and Saturday since the snow melted? I am glad you are alive, let alone sitting down.
    I had a similar camping trip, but without the bicycle drama. There was a flash flood. The camp ranger had to carry our children across what had become a 50 foot wide raging torrent while we schlepped our gear back to the higher ground where the car was parked.
    Oh, and my (then) husband had asked for a divorce the previous night… by the light of a beautiful moon.
    Turned me off camping, that’s for sure.

  50. The highland triangle is beauty personified. Great choice of yarn!
    And lace.
    I bow.
    To you.
    And nod at the same time.
    Which is not easy, really.
    Biking that far with kids, really!:)

  51. Hmm..can we be a grownup for just half a day? And personally, I love you being a grownup, because your books make me laugh and bring joy to me (especially during class).
    I tried to do my sophomore analysis essay on your book “At Knit’s End”…I almost got away with it by saying the author was “McPhee”…it was a go, until the professor noticed it was Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and not John McPhee! Rats! Oh well, it was worth a try,right? LOL

  52. I made some similar comments about not wanting to be the Mommy any more while having to give my child the first dose of 2 months of nasty tasting aily medication. Then my husband invented a milkshake to hide it in. Good, he can be the grown-up for a while.
    I’m drooling over the Fleece Artist.

  53. Ugh, Dana, that totally sucks major wind!
    That Lincoln fleece reminds me I will have not one, but TWO Corriedale-X fleeces with which to botch my first attempt at a sheep-to-shawl something or other. Nilly and Wafer are in their new pasture, chomping grass and bleating at me to come BE with them every time I step foot out of the house. Silly things. I’ve not Clue #1 about how to process a fleece, so I’m scouring websites for recommendations. PLEASE, lovely people, DO email me with tips, advice, things to avoid, etc. If that happens, it may not be such a travesty. 😉
    I’m “afraid” to knit lace. Isn’t that DUMB!? Sometime, when I feel really good about myself, I’ll try it. ‘Cause you know as well as I do, nothing can bring you down like a tangled pile o’crap in your lap!
    (who would rather be playing with her beet-dyed cotton yarn this very moment.)

  54. AND (because I’m a blowhard today) on the Grown-up thing:
    We were visiting our camp in the Adirondacks, a family camp which is shared by several of my cousins’ families. When it came time to leave, the packing up took ALL morning long! We had to pull all the boats out, put away the lawn furniture, clean the refrigerator, unplug everything, clean the bathroom, shut the windows…etc. YIKES! I want my Mommy back at times such as those!
    Ken, such a wise man. But we knew that, by the friends he keeps, eh?

  55. The good news is that those may quite possibly have been caterpillar webs you walked/rode through, not spider webs! There is an invasive little green inchworm, called the winter moth worm, that travels on the wind on silks it sends down from treetops. So just tell yourself that those were cute little inchworm silks and hopefully you’ll sleep easier! Now get back to work. 😉

  56. I usually hate being a grown-up too – especially when so many of my friends and collegues act like children. But then again, as a grown up, I can totally walk down to the Circle K and get a squishy at 2am and no one can tell me not to!
    Glad you succumbed to the Highland Shawl – I sort of love that stitch pattern, it was just so fun and easy to work on. Though I think Birch is in my future, I really like the Garden Leaves scarf from Scarf Style and think it’s a good X-Mas giftie for someone…. anyway, I digress.

  57. As the only one at my house that does all the grown up things except punching a time clock and getting a check every two weeks, I totally sympathize.
    I keep telling myself that I’m not really a grown up, though, because I still have my education to finish, a real house to build, world traveling to accomplish, and a substantial retirement account to build.
    Since most days I still feel 17-ish instead of 35, I’ve almost got myself believing it.
    Excellent work on the Highland Shawl. I’ve got Russian laceweight I keep petting, but haven’t decided what it wants to be. Soon, maybe, after Sockfest.

  58. My latest “I hate being a grownup” moment: cleaning up cat puke at 3 am. DH and I don’t have kids, so I don’t have as many such moments as parents do, but still…
    And I have two very clear memories of clearing out of campgrounds during a storm. One, I was ten(?) and my parents sent me to the car. The other, I was about 30, and *I* had to do the racing around and packing, getting soaking wet! I much prefer the first one.

  59. Another Chicagoan here chiming in…please come see us! We have some nice yarn shops for you to appear in…or if you prefer, a darn fine feminist book store. And I will bake you some reasonably good cookies.

  60. I was so impressed by the girls making the first trip mentioned and thought what hell it would be with my 3 boys (ages 7,9&11), we can’t go that far in a car without being asked “are we there yet?” You give me hope we’ll be able to do more as the years go by and appreciation that I have a more highly developed sense of insanity prevention than you! See you in London.

  61. That looks so pretty, hope you can knit on it more.
    Good luck with the book signing, I know you won’t need any, but it couldn’t hurt.

  62. I’m new to your blog but really enjoy it. Read “Adventures in Camping” and laughed. I camped just like that on the second vacation my husband I ever took (we thought that camping would be so much cheaper). There was the hurricane that followed us up the East coast and caught us in New Jersey…picture a lake full of lumps of nylon and canvas…we were still standing because we come from New Orleans and knew to tie our tent to the car but that didn’t help with the lake under the canvas (it was like being on a water bed)! Then of course there was the Daddy-Long-Leg convention in Virginia and the 1 am camp set up in New York on a rock field (we wondered about all the platforms in the campground but we’re from Louisiana…we don’t have rocks). Being grown-up is a state of mind and should be firmly controlled lest it consume you.

  63. Can’t wait to see more details of your Vancouver visit. That’s my neck of the woods.

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