A little imprecision.

When I regained my sight yesterday I plunged headlong into the impending disaster silk corset. Here (for the purposes of the “What the (*&^%$!!! was I thinking!!” blog post I will be writing at four in the morning one day next week when the corset is not working out exactly the way the Hindenberg didn’t) is exactlly what I was thinking.

1. I’m using a dk weight instead of a worsted weight. This is a smaller yarn. I am, therefore, following logic and using a 3.25mm needle instead of a 4mm needle. This should prevent knitting a “fishnet effect” corset for which I would need to purchase a much better bra or one of those “camisoles” my mother tells me so much about.

2. The smallest size in the corset is a 35 inch bust. I have a 35 inch bust. Oddly, this is a problem.

3. Since I am using smaller yarn and smaller needles, I believe (I am a simple person) that I will get a smaller corset, one smaller than my 35 inch bust.

4. Swatching could answer this question, but swatching leads to mathematics. Since I am unprepared to do the math that swatching gives me, there is no point in swatching. Besides, it’s not like it’s going to take a long time to figure out that I’m screwed. I like taking knitting chances.

5. I understand that this may mean that I am going to knit the top of this 4 times and that at least one of those times I will likely take to an excess of strong drink and say unkind things about the designer.

6. Let me apologize in advance to her, and admit fully that I understand that if I decide to screw up your pattern by using all the wrong stuff and refusing to engage in even a little swatching, and then it turns out to be a tent cozy or, conversely – a rippin’ new outfit for a beanie baby, that this is not your fault.

7. Having determined (while sober) that I have smaller yarn, smaller needles and should therefore be knitting a smaller corset, I decided to go up a size to the 38 inch chest. I believe that this makes a good bunch of sense but admit that it’s unscientific and imprecise.

Oh well.

What I did on my summer vacation: Part one

(Note: if you don’t give a crap about my summer vacation you can skip this and I’ll never know. Really.)

On my summer vacation, I rode my bike, together with my children and my buddy Ken…400 kilometres from Brockville Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. (Joe, while he is a big fan of the annual bike trip, is a bigger fan of not running a recording studio into bankruptcy, so he had to stay here and finish mixing the sound on a film.)

On my summer vacation, we started at Toronto’s Union Station, where we got on a trip to Brockville Ontario, our stopping place the last time that we rode eastward.


I learned that the girls, now that they are teenagers, sit down and discuss boys, lip gloss and cellphones every single time they are not moving.

I learned that you can really freak a trainload of people out if all of the adults in your party are simultaneously knitting.


Ken’s working on a Kid Silk Haze scarf. You’ll see it again, it was his only trip knitting. (We also learned that VIA coffee resembles coffee the way that apples resemble lemurs.)

Landing in Brockville, we learned a couple of things. A) The train station in Brockville is operated by two people on duty. B) If these two people have to unload 5 boxed up bikes from the train they will be bitter (even if you offer to help) and they will suggest that if you are ever going to do *this* to them again, you should phone first or something, because even though they are baggage handlers, and the bikes are the only baggage coming off of the whole train at that stop, and that it only took them about 8 minutes to manage, that they would really get more people on that shift to handle the five boxes.

We learned that the bathrooms at the city run “St. Laurence Park” campground are darned nice, pleasant to use and almost (almost being all you can ask for) arachnid free.

We also learned that the 72 km the next day from Brockville to Kemptville are beautiful….


but long. Even pastoral serenity can wear on a girl…you know what I mean?

We learned that llamas (there was a duck there too…) and sheep


are not as interested in a travelling sock as donkeys are.


I suppose it’s possible that something about me, maybe the way I was holding out a product of their shorn woolly comrades, may have made the llama and sheep feel threatened. Really though, they shouldn’t have worried. I didn’t have room on the bike to carry a fleece.)

The sock in question here is a new friend…meet knitting project A. This was selected for it’s ability to be knit without a pattern, chart or adequate light.

We rode over the Ottawa River to Kemptville


home of Rideau River Provincial Park where Ken and I discovered that we had selected, randomly and over the internet, the absolute best campsite in the joint.


That’s the view from tent-side. The Ottawa River at sunset.

Here, more knitting


though its starting to be plain that Ken doesn’t love Crack-silk Haze as much as I do. (I gave him the blue post-it note too….he still didn’t have a lot of fun with it.) It could be that he would like it better if he wasn’t sitting on a bike weary arse, but I didn’t think of asking him to stand at the time.

Shortly after that picture (about 2 cups of coffee later) we rode on to Manotick, and after a late lunch at the Swan on the Rideau


we rolled into my Uncle Tuppers yard. (The funny thing about stopping at the Swan was that I’ve always thought it was really fancy-schmancy. The restaurant sits there on the edge of the river, lit up at night, and I suppose I had always imagined it in this really romantic way. We were desperate, so we stopped and I thought we would be turned away for being scruffy, but it turns out it’s a pub. Just an ordinary pub. I was too hungry to be disappointed that we could get in, but it did sort of shatter an illusion to be sitting there. ) Tup and his lovely Susan live on Susan’s family farmhouse, and we all engaged in a two day break that looked like this


Oh, wait…Meet knitting project number two, a pair of koigu socks in a lacy pattern, selected to provide colour, relief from the incredible monotony of knitting project number one, and still fit in a bike pannier. Pretty pretty. Right after this shot was taken, one of my knitting needles fell down this crack on the pool deck, and Tupp (who’s feet are featured above) crawled under the pool deck, and retrieved the needle from next to a wasp nest. I’m pretty fond of him.

When the kids weren’t in the pool, they were here…


out in the back 40. Checking out frogs and other non-city critters and looking for snakes. By the way, meet knitting project number 3. It’s the Lotus Blossom shawl from yesterday’s ritual blinding (There were, by the way…massive, insane errors in every single row that I knit while blurry yesterday. I didn’t even purl across the backside without incident.) and now that I can read the label it’s Running Wild Yarn, two ply fingerling in the colour “brick“. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a yarn this much. It’s cormo, and is stretchy and bouncy and soft and wonderful and I really, really love it. If I get nothing else at Rhinebeck this year, I’ll be hunting this vendor.

Tomorrow…ever wondered what the Canadian Parliament looks like? The sock knows.

I think it’s a shawl

So this morning I got up and trucked myself down to Toronto Western Hospital for a 30 minute eye doctor appointment. (Actually, Joe trucked me, since I discovered that the front wheel of my bike is suddenly on backwards.) The 30 minute appointment turned into a 3 hour one, during which I was ritually blinded with the accursed drops of doom not just once (oh no…we wouldn’t want it to wear off…) but twice. Here I am, blind and pissed off (Note to any ophthalmologists reading the blog: I am aware that the drops are for the greater good. I understand that I have been blinded out of the doctors love and concern for my eyes and that it only seems that they are mean spirited and difficult) and hoping that I am writing coherently, but with no way to see the words I’m typing…I can’t be sure. (Please forgive any typos that exceed my normal level of typos).

Since it was three hours of waiting, I knit. I knit on my vacation knitting, The Lotus Blossom shawl. (Don’t ask what yarn. I can’t read the stinking label.) It looks like this:


The woman sitting next to me (also ritually blinded) said “That’s a pretty colour. ” Then, squinting at it…”What is it?”

“Well” I replied, “before the drops….it was a shawl”.

“Oh” the lady said (somewhat surprised) “How can you see what you’re doing?”

“I can’t.”

“But you’re knitting anyway?”


“So…If it *was* a shawl….what is it now?”

Good question lady. I guess I’ll find out later when my vision clears and I can divine the damage I’ve done in the last 6 rows where I couldn’t see the chart or the knitting at all. I’m not sure what it says about me that in order to not just sit there bored, I’m willing to knit something so badly that I’ll have to have a total frog and do-over this evening.

For the rest of today (since interpreting which of my vacation pictures to post represents a technical difficulty in my ritually blinded state) I was going to write about my new Artfibers Siam and how I was going to knit it into Annie Modesitt’s Silk Corset, despite the difficulties the change in gauge represents. I had the yarn, the pattern and a pretty clever post written when I looked at Claudia’s entry for the day. Turns out that Claudia and I are channelling each other in a way that would really scare the crap out if me if I didn’t like Claudia as much as I do, as well as seeing the immediate benefit of her being a little ahead of me…so she can take some of the heat on this little experiment. Therefore, go read her post, but substitute this colour.


(Just imagine mine sort of blurry….and Claudia? Send me those pattern notes…will ya?)

I ask for so little

Listen…hear that? Well, I mean, of course you don’t. You are, wherever you are and I am here and I don’t really expect that you can hear what I’m hearing but you know what I mean. If you were here, you could stand with me in the kitchen, cup of decent coffee in your hand, mail on the counter…knitting comfortingly nearby and you could tip your head to one side, stop moving or breathing for one minute and listen for it. You wouldn’t know what it was at first, if you were me and you lived here. You would feel sort of funny, like something was very, very different and then you would realize what the sound was.

It’s nothing.

There is no noise in the house. Not one person saying “She took my hair tie/ I can’t find a hair tie/ I left my hair tie right here, who took it” (I hate hair ties. I am convinced that second only to oil and fervent religion they cause more war and hate in the world…..) Nobody saying “She has had the phone for 17 minutes and you said we could all have the phone for 15 minutes and now she says that she was timing me and I had the phone for 25 minutes so that’s what she’s getting but I told her that you made the rule for a reason and that how much phone time I got isn’t the point and she said for me to “get out” of her room and that’s no way for a lady to talk so I unplugged the phone and now she’s freaking out for…like….NO REASON.” There’s nobody telling me that she can’t possibly live like this, here, with us and the intolerable way that we do….like, everything. The phone is not ringing. The fridge is not open. There is not an inexplicable hoard of teen boys hanging around the front porch calling me “Mrs. Pearl” (Which is not my name on so many levels) trying to get all Eddie Hascal with me while Joe thinks about locking our teenaged girls in a large ventilated box in the basement for their own good and our sanity. Instead my friends, there is silence. This is because it is a high holy day in the practice of parenting. It is, in the City of Toronto, in the province of Ontario, in this country we are proud to call Canada…..

The first day of school.

You may all take a moment to silently congratulate any mother and father that you know who made it through the summer with any semblance of her sanity intact. I love my children, I even enjoy their company, but man….that summer is long and loud.

To put the icing on the cake, Megan paid me and my knitting the highest possible compliment.


Look at that. It is the first day of high school and Meg is wearing a One Skein Wonder knit by her mother. ( Knit from malabrigo “Azul Profundo“, really only took one skein of this really, really soft yarn. Very fun pattern and, not that I would mention it to Meg, and I’m only mentioning it to you this one time, but this also matches my blue dress and I’m thinking it might be cute. I don’t want to discuss that a woman cruising 40 just professed any feelings to do with any clothing that may be “cute” and I don’t know that I really will wear it, I just thought that it was worth noting that I thought about it, and that’s got to mean something.)

That Meg is wearing this is remarkable, since as I’m sure you are all aware, what you wear on the first day of high school is so important that not only do you need to stay up until practically dawn the night before, bursting into tears at intervals out of the concern that you will select the wrong outfit, but you must also face up to the shattering reality that the rest of your life, every moment, your career, your potential, your ability to upgrade a computer and make good pie….all of it hangs on wearing the right outfit on the first day of school. It’s a lot of pressure….and she wore something her mother made, which must mean that it’s really cool, since your mum’s knitting has a high dork quotient to rise above.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What will I do with this silence. How will I spend my day? (Morning really….it’s a half day, but let’s not focus on that.) With this:


Yup. It came. It’s my author copy of my new book. (Sorry, I still laugh when I write that. “my new book”. How does this happen? Really, I mean….How? It’s like I went to sleep as me and I woke up some fantastically lucky person that they mail books to. It’s a freaky, freaky feeling to see my words in there and I feel as though I won the lottery.) It’s publication date was the 1st of September, and theoretically, it’s shipping to stores as we speak. Now begins the waiting for the fantastically bizarre moment where I spot it in the wild. I’ve tried to get on the bandwagon with this copy that they have sent me, but it’s just not possible. It’s too easy to fake one copy. We’ll just wait and see if it’s a real book when they follow through and mail it to a bookstore. There’s no going back then.

(Then I can start worrying that everybody will think it sucks, but let’s deal with one neurosis at a time.)

Note to Toronto readers: I have checked the Chapters and BookCity in Bloor West village and the big Indigo downtown. It’s not there. Don’t waste precious knitting time looking for me, besides, my mother has a plan.

Tomorrow, the bike trip, where we went, what I leaned and what I knit while I was there. For now, I’m off to do three things I’ve been dreaming of. Have a phone conversation without wrestling a teenaged girl to the ground for the privilege, drink a cup of coffee without having a conversation about lipgloss, it’s colours and what exactly constitutes “prostitute lips” and take a bath where nobody talks to me through the crack in the door and asks me if I can see a hair tie.

Home Sweet Home

I’m home again, my lovely knitty friends…and what an adventure we’ve had. 400km total on our bikes (thats about 250 miles, for my American friends), two provinces, four knitting projects and a good time had by all. This is of course, assuming that you loosely define “a good time”. I know a lot of people think that this is an odd family vacation to subject children to…but it is this bloggers opinion that strong women do not happen by accident, and that biking hundreds of kilometres will leave my daughters with the belief that they can do anything and that the world of possibility stretches out far in front of them. They are some of the only people in Canada (or the world) who can now say that they have ridden the whole distance (over a couple of years) from Niagara Falls to Montreal, as children. That’s something. That’s tough. I really believe that while they might not know it, these bike trips leave my daughters believing that they are capable of difficult, incredible things. That the next time a hard thing turns up in their lives they will turn to face it and say “Wow. That looks hard, but I’m good at hard things.” I suppose it’s also possible that I’m just torturing them, but when I’m out in the middle of nowhere on a bike, I really need to believe that I’m right on this one.

I’ll post more about the whole thing over then next few days, but for now, a little blog business.

Many thanks to our Auntie Rams, who did a great job of Blog-sitting while I was away. I will, following this spectacular performance on her part, resume the intense pressure I have been putting on her to get her own blog. The world needs more Rams.

Unplugged from the world for the last while, I was totally unaware of the tragedy in the Gulf. My thoughts are with those effected, and I’d urge all of you to give to the organization of your choice to help these folks get through what is a terrible, terrible time for them. Though there is very little to be grateful for in a time like this, we can at least be thankful that this has happened in the richest country in the world, as well prepared to help each other as any country could be, and peopled with generous, resourceful humans who look out for each other. Susan and Margene have jointly set up an effort on their blogs to raise funds for the Red Cross, and should that not be your cup of tea, Angela has a list of charities who know how to help on her blog.

In more trivial news, nobody guessed my two “stars” right, though I did like the ideas. Those of you who thought that I would pick Canadians, those of you who thought I would pick knitters, those clever ones among you who thought I would choose knitterly named stars, like “The Spinners” or “Norma Shearer”…all clever. But all wrong. (Though I do feel sort of silly for not being more clever about it myself.)

My two stars were…




..and chosen randomly from among all the participants, is Carole! Send me your address Carole, and I’ll mail the mug pronto.

I’m off to wait for the letter carrier. Today is (other than trying to wash the smell of campfires, the sweat of 400k and the grime of 2 provinces out of our clothes, which is really enough excitement all in itself.) a very big day for me. Do you think sitting on the front steps is too obvious?