Sorry Rick.

Rick Mercer (of This hour has 22 minutes fame, host of Monday Report and Talking to Americans) has signed on as the spokesdude for The One Tonne Challenge. Every Canadian, in order to meet our Kyoto responsibilities and….well, be just a little bit smarter, is being asked to cut our Green House Gas emmisions (GHGs) by one tonne. The average Canadian produces 5 tonnes of GHGs every year. (The average American produces even more..about six tonnes). We are already a very low emitting family. ( I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking “Why Steph, if you guys already are meeting the goal, why would you cut back even more?” Good point, but I’m trying to make up for the weenies who have their air conditioning set so low that they need sweaters in the house, (though I am usually very pro sweater) and still can’t imagine anything they could give up). In fact, when I saw Rick on the TV asking me to do my bit, I hustled over to the website and looked at the suggestions for cutting back. We were already doing most of it…and the only thing that we could really do to cut further was to give up the air conditioning.

We have a little window air conditioner that we run to cool our whole wee house. It works great, but really, we pondered, was it necessary? Did we really, really need one? Considering how short the summer is, that we have many fans….did we really, really need to be wreaking the planet for the sake of a little bit of comfort?

No way. We nobly sucked it up and didn’t install it this year. Rick, we are onside with this whole plan let me tell you.

Then it got hot. Stupid hot. Record breaking hot. It’s been so hot here that you can’t breathe. (Or that may be the record breaking smog alerts…hard to tell really.) So far this summer we have had 16 heat alerts (10 extreme heat alerts). Temperatures are hovering around the 35 degree mark (that’s 95 for my American friends) and because the humidity has been relentless and hair enlarging, the humidex temperature has been reading in the 40’s. (105). We are sticky. We are miserable. We have been taking cold baths and trying to lie still with a fan blowing on us all day. I took a book on a Raw Food diet out of the library to avoid turning on the stove. Our long haired black cat hasn’t moved from the tile of the kitchen in days. We are getting nothing done, feeling ill, and Rick? We can’t do it.

Now, I cannot tell you how much guilt I feel about letting Rick and the planet down, (Rick? Is your air on?) and I am simply bitter about the irony that I am being forced by climate change to contribute to climate change, but this morning Joe and I installed the air conditioner and I have to tell you….it is good. If the overtaxed hydro system burns out later this afternoon, plunging all of Toronto into a powerless blackout that lasts for hours….

It will have been worth the sweet hours working on my laptop seated directly in front of the merciful air conditioner. Take me, I’m yours.

So I’m sorry Rick, but I had no choice…

It was too hot to knit.

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?

Standing up

This weekend, Team Harlot trouped off on a bike trip (It’s getting harder and harder to impress the sock), and my arse has a profound opinion about my activity on said bike, and I am standing up.

We rode the waterfront trail for about 75 km, from Toronto to Darlington Provincial Park (just past Oshawa) , camped for the night then (much to the chagrin of my arse) turned around and rode back. That’s a two day ride of 150km, and while It’s not a feat like Claudia accomplishes, my arse assures you that considering one of the members of my team is 11 years old (Go Sam!) it’s really something to be proud of.

I give you the socks weekend in photos.


This is a bumper sticker on my bike, courtesy Jennifer at Spirit Trail Fiberworks. It says “My other vehicle is a spinning wheel” and I think that (especially on a bike) this is hysterically funny. I see it all the time while I’m riding and it cracks me up.


This is Team Harlot (and the sock..) totally ready to go. (Note the expressions on their faces. Doesn’t that totally say “My mother is a lunatic, please help me”?


The sock on a flight of stairs, just this side of Pickering. The sock was absolutely no help pushing a fully loaded tour bike up a flight of stairs. (Do not tell me how they don’t look bad. Push the bike first) As a matter of fact, I believe that the socks may be smirking. (I am starting to think that there is a possibility that the sock is a freeloading jerk.)


The largest wind turbine in North America. (Does the sock look impressed? No. I’m telling you, this was about 40k in, and the sock just wasn’t playing ball.


An Inukshuk. I love finding these on the trail.


A snake.


The sock resting at the campsite. For reasons I don’t understand, the sock is not afraid of that seat the way I am. The first day’s riding is fine, but when you get up the next morning and put your arse back down on that seat…it is briefly breathtaking, then settles down into a throbbing dull pain. More training does not seem to prevent arse pain. I think arses are untrainable.


The beach at Darlington, looking west toward Toronto. It’s sort of neat to look back where you came from, realizing that you have ridden so far in one day that you can barely pick your cities skyline out.


A frog. I can report that frogs seem to have less interest in knitting than snakes. Admittedly, this is a very small sample size (one frog and one snake, er…and one sock) but I will be watching for a trend.


The view from a bridge on the way home, looking out over Lake Ontario toward Rochester NY, though it’s far, far, far to far to see.

Today, I knit. (Standing up.)


Will our London friends please speak up so we know you and those you love are safe?

We are all thinking of you today.

“I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson is to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmitted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmitted into a power that can move the world.”

“Hatred can only be overcome by love.”

Mahatma Gandhi

-philosopher known for his belief in political change through non-violence.

Inspired, or profoundly stupid?

So I had this batt (Brushstrokes Batt from Indigo Moon Farm) and I set about spinning it up and was all pretty random about the whole thing. When I had two bobbins full (about half of the batt) I decided to let go, be random (that took a full glass of wine) and ply it against itself with absolutely no regard for what might happen. Blue against blue? Fine. Barberpole of blue and pink? Excellent. It was sort of freeing.


Turns out that I am very, very easy to entertain. Just like with variegated yarn, the excitement of seeing what colour is coming next charms and occupies me to no end. (This could explain much of my happiness in the world. I’m apparently simple.) It’s hard to publicly admit this, but it turns out that despite my experience and education, all the intrigue that I need to sit gripped at the spinning wheel for hours is waiting to see what two colours will ply together for the next 10 cm.

I’m very happy with the random, unconsidered yarn of my destiny. I started thinking about knitting the Highland Triangle shawl from Folk Shawls. (I’ve linked to Juno’s picture because I am smitten with hers. Smitten I tell you. There are others out there, but something about the “nutmeg” version has me covetous and planning. Please don’t point out that there is no hope, considering the plan that I have, that my shawl will be “nutmeg”. I am delusional, but happy.)

My plan was to knit the whole honking thing out of this yummy random yarn. Then I got to thinking. Why be random when you can be overly controlling, fussy and concerned? Why make it easy when you can make it hard? (Well. I didn’t quite think that last one, but you know how I like a challenge.) So I started coming up with a new plan.

I’ve taken what’s left of the batt (just about half) and separated it into it’s individual colours. Then I’ve started spinning and plying each of those colours. See?


The plan is to knit the centre triangle of the shawl out of the random stuff, then use the plain coordinates to knit the border in stripes.

What say you?

A) Wow. I don’t know how that’s going to look, but darn it, I sure do want to see you try.

B) Holy cow Steph. Bad plan. Put down the shawl pattern and back away from the spinning wheel.

C) Inspired. (Likely doomed, but inspired)

All suggestions will be, well..probably ignored since I might be obsessed anyway.

For the record, in case you were thinking about giving me a hard time about the gansey and, what was it Rams said? Joe freezing this winter while coughing weakly for want of a warm gansey?



No gifts today, since I’m still waiting for emails from all parties concerned from yesterday’s draw. Lemme sort that out, then I’ll add more. I will however draw your attention to the tally.

Knitters Without Borders has now officially raised more money than Willie Nelson. I’ll add something to the draw tomorrow, along with contemplating dancing in the street.

You guys are changing the world. Next stop…$100 000. 00

How to drive a mother crazy

Begin with location. Choose your family home, which is normally your mum’s office several hours a day. Remember, this works best on people who are trying to earn a living while you are home.

Location selected, make sure that you are right in plain view, then choose a topic so mind-numbingly inane that there is no way that any mother with an IQ higher than a bagel could possibly stand the stupidity of it.

After that, remember the keys are repetition, volume and persistence.

Example :

Sam is trying to walk between the coffee table and the chesterfield, but Amanda, sitting on the chesterfield, has her feet on the coffee table – thus blocking Samantha’s way. A fight begins that lasts for 10 minutes and consists of the following:

*Sam – “Move your legs”

Amanda – “No. Step over”

Sam – “No. Move your legs.”

Amanda – “No. Step over”

Sam – “Why should I step over when you can move your legs?”

Amanda – “Why should I move my legs when you can step over?”

Repeat from * until your mother is provoked into screeching horrible things about the children in her office. Do not be satisfied with mere anger, watch for the throbbing vein in her forehead that signals that she is absolutely deranged. While she is screaming, look at her like only a crazy person would be bothered by bickering like this and frown at her like you are vaguely concerned about her well being. If she looks like she’s getting a grip, roll your eyes. When she finally collapses, clutching her laptop to her chest, whimpering about something to do with a deadline that she needs to meet to pay for “your sorry arse”…

….ask what’s for dinner.

Gifts for knitters? Why not.

Amy took a class with the goddess Lizbeth Upitis a while back, and she’s got an autographed copy of Latvian mittens that she’ll be sending to the generous tricoteuse Christina T.

Alice has a copy of “The Knitters handy guide to yarn requirements” that she’ll be mailing out to Becca U.

Dean has these beautiful handmade knitting needles


They are lovely. I really like the wee ones, I think they would make good hair pins as well as knitting needles. Indigo S. and Alia O. , tell us how you like them, will you?

Finally today, Ellen (who works in a bookstore, which I think could be the only job that might be as good as working in a yarn shop) donated two copies of the bookbookbook, which I’ll be happy to sign and mail on to Stephanie H. and Elizabeth B. and match with two more books, to go to Leanne C. and Wendy C.


Tomorrow, more presents, more fighting and…er. I don’t know what.

Maybe a little lie down.

Do better

I’m watching Live 8…and frankly I’m having just the hardest time. I’m overwhelmed with the feelings that I have while watching this. Mostly guilt. Overwhelming, crushing guilt that I live in a country where everyone I know struggles to keep their weight down and you are more likely to die from too much than too little.

I don’t quite know what to do with the images from the worlds poorest countries, but as I sit here making my grocery list, about to head to an entire building full of food…. I tell you that I think we can do better. Can’t we?

What Live 8 wants from me is simple. My name on a petition to tell the G8 leaders that I, as a citizen of one of the worlds richest countries want them to do better by the worlds poorest countries. That I want them to forgive debt that can never be paid back, that I want them to increase aid, and that I want them to change the trade laws so that 10 years from now, things will be different.

I can sign that. If you think you can…..

Live 8 Live petition

In the meantime, please take a moment to remember that in the face of a slow moving governmental solution, MSF maintains feeding centres and provides health care to the worlds poorest people, and Knitters Without Borders helps them do it.

It’s Canada Day!

You know you are a Canadian knitter when:

1. Your yarn comes in metres and grams, your needles in millimeters and you measure tension over 10cm. It’s too hot to knit at 30 degrees, you better whip up a sweater at 11 degrees and you drive to the yarn store going “60k”.

2. You have been, at some point in your life dressed in a “Mary Maxim” bulky knit, zip up the front, picture on the back sweater (hockey player for boys or ballerina for girls), and despite having been scarred by this, for reasons that you cannot fully explain, you still get the Mary Maxim catalogue delivered to your door.

3. You have had a conversation about Patons Kroy sock yarn, and debated whether the “old Kroy” was better than the “new Kroy”, and further to that, you can identify Kroy sock yarn and it’s various incarnations by the colour of the label.


4. You know that Koigu, Mission Falls, Briggs and Little, Fleece Artist, Patons, Treenway Silks (If you don’t know about them, take a deep breath before you click.) and Philosophers Wool are all Canadian, and are in on the secret plan to take over the world through the magic of yarn.

5. When your knitting drives you to drink the beer is 5% alcohol, and you can start at 19 years of age.

6. It is a considerable point of pride for you that Sally Melville, Debbie New, Fiona Ellis, Veronik Avery, Dorothy Siemens and Lucy Neatby are all Canadian.

7. You have knit a toque. Probably in the colours for a hockey team.

8. You know that if you mail thick knitted socks to anyone living anywhere in any province of Canada, they will come in handy.

9. If I tell you I’m sitting on my chesterfield watching Elvis on tv while I’m knitting you know it’s figure skating eh?

10. The oldest chartered trading company in the world, a Canadian department store called The Hudson Bay Company, used to have a yarn counter, and sold so much of Canada’s yarn supply that most Canadian knitters have yarn from “The Bay” in their stash and the other half have their pattern books. The only thing that would be better than The Bay starting to sell yarn again would be if Canadian Tire did, since that would give you a real reason to keep track of your Canadian Tire Money.