Yarn can’t walk

Before I tell you about how yarn can’t walk I’m telling you about Thursday in Ottawa (our nations fine capitol) and Kanata (home of the Ottawa Senators.) I spent the trip to Ottawa noting how remarkably easy it was to tell I was travelling in Canada. Several things.


Better cheap coffee. (By better I just mean stronger. This, to my way of thinking, makes it better, if still bad tasting no matter where in North America you buy coffee in a train station.)

Everything (including people) in English and French.

At 9:15 in the morning the TV in the waiting area the tv in the waiting area of the station was set to a hockey game and we were all watching. Furthermore, as I got on the train the guy ahead of me was carrying his full gear and stick.

I had a butter tart for breakfast.

Every person had a poppy on. (I kept knocking mine off with the strap of my bag and I was so worried about losing it that finally decided to move it to my right lapel for just two seconds while I boarded the train. I stood at the bottom of the steps, moved the poppy to the right side, walked up the five steps of the train and was very gently corrected by not one, but two people about my mis-placed poppy. Took less than a minute for someone to call me on it.)

I arrived at Yarn Forward in Ottawa were the knitters were all hanging out. I was just there to do a signing, but I had the best time. When Melinda asked me if I would put the travelling sock on her stuffed elephants nose (I didn’t ask) I realized that this might be a good gig.


Here you can see remnants of the flyaway nature of the lotion incidents. (Also…it would appear that whole chunks of my hair were freakishly straight…I’m wearing the finished Diarufran sweater. I forgot to tell you.)

Meet Judith.


Begin runway voiceover here: Judith (in Ottawa – which is how she signs her comments) is wearing a beautiful example of the Flower basket shawl, knit as a square instead of a triangle. Twice the work, twice the fun. For extra points, Judith knit this shawl out of her own handspun, edging it with a small portion of my own handspun I mailed to her for her birthday some time ago. Isn’t she lovely? Thank you Judith.

Here we have sweet wee Bailey…


Who, although she did not wake up to look at the knitting needles I placed in her hand, did grasp them tightly. She’ll be a fine knitter. I can tell.

From there I went to The Clocktower and had dinner with some nice knitters from the Museum of Nature (not nearly as geeky as you’d expect.) and rolled on to the Kanata Yarn Forward, where the hordes ravened knitters waited nicely.




The Ottawa knitters are partially blurry. (I have managed to blur the sock as well. Clearly things are getting worse.) I staggered through the talk (holy cow the Ottawa knitters are funny.) and got on to the serious business of taking pictures of strangers with socks.


This is Kit, and she’s holding her brand new book (well, not just hers, but in the delightful glow of the newly published we gloss over things like the word “anthology” or “collection” and all is reduced to high pitched squeals of “my book! my book!” ) It’s a good book too…and Kit’s parts are my favourite bit, even if they don’t have knitting in them.

Natalie brought me a gift.


Colour coded conditioner and shampoo with a light up magnifying glass to use in the shower. I laughed and laughed and laughed. (I admit it was the light up part. I laughed at first, the little light really tore me.)

Here’s Suzanne wearing a shawl knit out of (one of) my favourite sock yarns….


Meilenweit Mega boot stretch by Lana Grossa. I used it to make these socks (scroll down), but I think that Suzanne’s a genius. Beautiful shawl.


Susan and Lisa were crocheters. I promised not to blow their cover until they were safely out of the car. Not that we knitters dislike crocheters (in fact, some of us are crocheters) but I knew that if thie jazzed up crowd discovered them they wouldn’t be able to get out without a lesson. (or 30) Susan has since emailed me and said that she has dreamed of knitting socks for two days. (We got to her. Comrades, it is these small victories that make it all worth it .)


Lissa, who had a yellow Mariah the last time I met her and totally tricked me (I am a simple person) by wearing another colour.

There was Heather, Leanne, Justine (I signed her hand and felt like Mic Jagger) Betsey, Tara, Orris and my lovely friend Sarah, and I found out that Louise at Yarn Forward is making something really good…


and Holy Cow….

Mairi. Look what Mairi is knitting.


Think it’s cool? Look closer.


Get it? It’s a scarf being knit out of I-cord tubes, braided as she goes (according to a mathematical formula that I really couldn’t follow….the minute she said “squared” my mind shut down) and she’s handling the gap in the i-cord by crocheting up the backs of them so the don’t have a right side and a wrong side and. …

Well. Mairi is clearly out of her mind in the best possible way. Maybe when I grow up I can be Mairi.

Ottawa is seriously fun. Montréal was fun too….I’ll get to that tomorrow.

I took the train home on Saturday night and yesterday I sort of cleared my head a little and looked at my work lists and in some sort of fit of anxiety and fear, I started doing the knitting I need to do for my visit to Knitty Gritty. I am very worried about my visit. I am worried because it is LA and I have bad clothes and questionable TV hair. I am worried because I’m pretty sure that I’m not the right sort of knitter. There is a difference between a designer and a knitter who has some good ideas and I am decidedly the latter. I also have some concerns about the shows “hipness” and my lack thereof. (I know that you are going to be tempted to say something reassuring about how hip I am….don’t bother. I’ve only just now got the lotion out of my hair.) In any case, I took a deep breath yesterday and decided that the only thing that could be worse than yours truly having a meltdown on TV was yours truly having a meltdown on TV without the proper knitting. Now, I may not be hip, but I can knit damnit…and I will have the right stuff if it kills me.

Off to a roaring start, I knit the first of a kid sized pair of socks. Well, I mostly knit it.


(Basic sock pattern, scaled down according to the rules) I did the cuff and heel in a contrasting grey and I ripped right along in a self congratulatory fashion. I used the grey for the heel, leaned forward, put it on the table, picked up the coloured one (Patons Kroy Socks…54573) knit the foot, leaned forward to get the grey for the toe and…..

To borrow a phrase from my Quebecois neighbours…”I look on the table and there it was….gone.” I began a search. I looked all over the table. (My house is slightly untidy.) I looked all over the living room. I looked under the chesterfield, I looked by the chesterfield, I got on the floor and crawled around, I stood on the chair to see high places…I ranted. I screamed “Yarn Can’t Walk” and “Things just don’t disappear” and I essentially lost my cool. After a fairly shameful display I poured a glass of wine and started thinking. I tried to think like me. I retraced my steps. I had gone into the kitchen…did I put the yarn in the fridge instead of the coffee cream? Did I put it in the cupboard or the crisper when I put away the dinner stuff? Was it on the shelves with the dishes from unloading the dishwasher? I checked on Mr. Washie. I looked in the bathroom. I ripped up the cushions of the chesterfield in case it had slipped down. In a weaker moment I went downstairs and interrogated Joe, and I accused the children of theft. I asked if they had taken it, I offered amnesty. I told them that I was just going to go into the kitchen for a few minutes and that if, when I got back the yarn was simply on the table…no questions would be asked. (This, in properly trained family members, usually works very well.) No luck.

Bereft and furious I went to bed, seriously ticked off that the day had been wasted. I have no more of that yarn, I really do need a pair (especially for tv.) and that means that I need to yank back the whole thing. Stomping ensued.

This morning (while I continued to shred our house while screaming “yarn can’t walk”) Sam was putting her coat on to leave for school and ever so innocently… the ball of grey yarn fell out of her sleeve.

I have no explanation for this. (The horrified look on Sam’s face as she realized that she was connected with this whole scene proved that she had not put it there.)

Maybe yarn can jump? I’m going to knit a toe now.

Whistle Stop Wireless

This entry brought to you courtesy of the wireless on board the train from Ottawa to Montréal. Seriously. Wireless on a train. I think it’s just about the slickest thing I’ve ever seen.

Note: This turned out to be a red herring. The wireless on the train is present, but apparently signing onto it was an intelligence test that I failed. I kept getting a very apologetic screen. This actually comest to you from my Montréal hotel, days later than I intended.

When last seen, I was taking my lotion head down to the Kingston Chapters where I was going to actually let people see me. It turns out that lotion hair is the exact opposite of what you think it’s going to be. It’s massive. Each hair curls and frizzes independently of every other hair and it’s just….well. Unforgettably huge. Dolly Parton dreams of this kind of volume. Behold the knitters of Kingston!


Well, not all of the knitters of Kingston, but it’s not a huge city and I didn’t give them a lot of notice, but I think that I got most of them in this picture. (You will note that Kingston is not a blurry city at all.)

This is Joan H. from the comments.


She is wearing her first lace ever (the Branching Out scarf) pretty, non? Meeting Joan was a lovely surprise, since I know her from the comments here but I had no idea…NONE, that she lived in Kingston. That’s the miracle of the internet. Anybody can be anywhere. (I imagine that I picture you all living far more exciting and exotic places than you actually do.)


Here’s Molly Wolf, Writer, Editor, co-mother of the Knitlit series of books…I did know Molly lived in Kingston, but I’m surprised she could leave the house, since she’s gone over to the dark side and is still in the honeymoon phase with a new loom. (I didn’t ask her the details. I know how these weavers work. You ask them a couple of questions, you let them tell you stuff, next thing you know there’s a warping board in your kitchen, you use the word “weft” in normal conversation and you don’t think there’s anything wrong with sleeping on a fold out couch because you gave up your bed space for a floor loom. Not this girl. I’m wise to it.)


Faye and Sheila, dream team.




and Randi. See what they’ve got? Entrelac. There was more too…there was a lady with an entrelac scarf who got away from me, (She was really quick actually.) and another lady who I think was doing a bag. Since Entrelac (especially well executed entrelac) is quite rare, spotting four incidences in a group this size represents a substantial outbreak. Maybe something in the water? I have notified the CDC of this, and I have hope for Randi as well as the bag and scarf ladies…but Deb….Deb is too far gone. That’s a whole sweater she’s got there, and interestingly, she seems very normal. All we can do for Deb is send her to NASA where her gift/illness may serve her and humanity best.

Overall, Kingston was a treat. It’s really, really nice to do this in my own country and to talk to Canadian knitters. Special thanks to that little boy (I bet he’s a friend of Hanks) who turned the squeaky bookrack to my left while I was talking. It wasn’t distracting at all.

Thursday I did Ottawa and Kanata, (I’ll tell you about that soon. It was seriously fun.) and last night was here in Montréal. Serious knitter infestation. I’ll get it all posted….

I took a moment to remember today. Did you?

While on the train

While on the train from Toronto to Kingston I…

1. Wondered what the lady one seat up and over was knitting. It was fine white yarn being knit on pretty little needles. I was too shy to plunk myself down near her and ask, especially since I have recently endured chatty seatmates while travelling and wouldn’t want to be the person who put her through that horrible thing where you wish the person would go away but are to polite to do anything effective enough to get them to leave or shut up. (Since I am sort of overly curious about knitting I don’t trust myself to take a “go away” hint.) I tried to see what she was knitting anyway, but couldn’t get close enough to tell without being close enough to freak her out.

2. Picked up my stitches for the lace cuff and unzipped the provisional cast on with absolutely no difficulty whatsoever. None.


I pulled the tail of the waste yarn and zippo…the new stitches were sitting there on my needle perfectly acting for all the world like provisional cast-on’s always unzip without incident.


It was so good it was almost creepy. (Probably shouldn’t have said that before I did the other one of the pair, but what the hell.)

3. I dug up the pictures from when I was in Granby Connecticut a couple of days ago so I could show them to you. This chapter of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer foundation is pretty knitty…and they charged $25 per knitter to hear me speak (in exchange I tried not to suck) and had fabulous knitty door prizes and a gallery of funky knitted stuff and a reception and it was really neat. Really.

Here are some very blurry pictures of the knitters.



I have a new theory about the blurriness. I think it may be related to my personal level of terror. Maybe when I’m really nervous I’m shaking? From now on I’m going to try and brace myself and see if that helps. I was very, very nervous when I took these, and they are very, very blurry. It’s obviously not a focus thing because nothing in that bottom one is in focus. Not even me.

This is Morgan. (Sadly, blogless)


She brought not a gift for me, but a gift for my beloved Sir Washie.

(The magnets are fantastic by the way. It is an exquisite treat to go down to the washer after a cycle and see where they have gravitated to. Very keen.)

This is Lisa.


See the socks she’s holding? She knit them and then she gave them to me. Designed them herself too. Very charming and clever knitter. Very clever. They fit freakishly well, even though, as far as I know Lisa has not had access to either my feet nor my sock drawer for research. I’m pretty impressed. (My picture does not adequately display the super good sweater she’s wearing either.)

Behold Olivia,


The youngest knitter of the day, putting a little of her mojo on my sock.

Finally, Christine


I’m putting this picture up for everyone who signed the cards for her while we were all at Rhinebeck. Christine has been having sort of a crappy time, since a bad string of headaches turned out to be (suddenly, out of the blue) a huge freaking tumour in her brain. They took it out and she’s well now, with the exception of the loss of her ability to knit. (I know. I gasped too. Don’t try to stand up.)

She’s destashing to buy a spinning wheel. Maybe see if she’s got something you want so she can get a great one and rejoin the fibre obsessed?

There were other knitters of course, Tamara comes to mind (she was wearing a really, really great sweater I’m a little obsessed with.) and a group of very nice women who claim not to be stalkers that I’m not going to encourage by naming names.

4. I ate two bags of sunchips.

5. I beaded. I love it.


I can’t stop. I can’t wait for the train to Ottawa tomorrow so I can do more.

Who’s coming for a visit at the Kingston Chapters tonight?

PS (Added later)

I just took a bath and washed my hair and I used the shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom here at the hotel. I washed my hair and then I put in the conditioner, then rinsed. Just now, as my hair is drying I noticed that it’s ….well. Weird. I little oily and slippery and strange. I let it dry a bit more and decided things were very bad, hair wise, and went into the bathroom to take note of the sort of conditioner it was so that I could endeavor to never, ever use it again.

It’s lotion.

Firstly: I am an idiot. I have covered my head in lotion.

Secondly, what sort of a hotel puts shampoo and lotion together like that? Where’s the conditioner? Don’t they know I have my glasses off when I’m washing my hair?

Thirdly, there is no time to rewash before I have to go. Do you think anyone is going to notice?

PSS: It does smell very nice.

Make it count.

So I got home yesterday, and I’m leaving tomorrow. Just long enough to wash my pants (and everyone else’s) to pick up my train tickets, recharge the yarn supply in my suitcase, talk to the girls in person, wash the kitchen floor and keep on trucking. I’m trying to squeeze so much into this time at home that it’s ridiculous.

The schedule for the next three days is a sort of last minute spontaneous swing train ride east, with stops along the way. It’s so spontaneous that I’m going to need some help spreading the word. If you’re a knitter and you know a knitter who might be interested (or a knitter who is totally going to send me some aggressive email later for not giving them enough warning that I was coming and therefore ruining their chances at having a chance to come to a knitting roadshow.) could you please let them know? I know I don’t read all the blogs I read everyday, so I’m sure thats the way it is for everyone else.

Wednesday November 8th (that’s tomorrow.) I’ll be in historic Kingston, Ontario from 7-9pm at the Chapters at 2376 Princess Street. (You can just show up for that one. No RSVP necessary, I think they are likely expecting just a couple of knitters and I sort of like the idea of surprising them.)

Thursday, November 9th I’m doing not one, but two events in and around our Nations Capitol. I’ll be at the Yarn Forward on Bank Street in Ottawa at 2pm for a signing (not a talk) and then at the other Yarn Forward in Kanata (474 Hazeldean Road) for a talk/signing at 7:00…Please RSVP to them if you are coming by calling 613-831-8027.

Friday, I get a chance to freak out a whole other province and I’ll be in Montréal, 5:30 pm at the McGill University Bookstore, 3420 McTavish. Note: this talk will not be an opportunity for me to display my completely humiliating french, and will be me in all my anglophone glory. I do promise, as a nod to our other national language that should I feel the need to use strong language, I will indeed swear in french, assuming that there are not too many bagels in my mouth at the time.


While I’m on the train (I love riding the train. It’s such a humane and comfortable way to travel.) I’m going to try and sort out the beaded cuff for the Kitri socks.


I’ve knit both socks (just about, there are only a few rows on a toe to go, and you’ll notice that the toe isn’t grafted. That’s because the needles


those very pointy 18cm/ 7inch ones, as well as my safety pins, were deemed perfectly safe to take on my flight, but I was asked to “surrender” the blunt darning needle stuck in my purse. I swear I am never going to get the hang of thinking like the TSA.) and then I pick up stitches from the provisional cast on and start the cuff, which…as near as I understand it, is knit perpendicular to the knitting for the sock. I’m feeling a little nervous. I have my reasons.


1. I’ve never beaded knitting before and I’m feeling uptight about it.

2. Provisional cast ons give me hives. (I cannot be the only person who always manages to knit into the wrong part or miss a loop or do something that totally guarantees that they won’t un-zip when they are supposed to.)

3. The beads are prestrung on the yarn for this cuff, but I have become possessed of an incredible fear that I will do something that will make the beads come off. In the world of my imagination they spring free on the train, scattering throughout the car and I never find them all, or I find them all but don’t know what order to put them back on in, or I don’t know how to put them back on or…I don’t know. I’m very worried.

Perhaps I shouldn’t do this on the train. Perhaps I should do this in a hermetically sealed room with a white unseamed floor and walls to prevent bead loss while I am enveloped in a cone of silence to protect me from mishap? Perhaps I should read about beaded knitting before I just leap in and do it? Maybe I should study it, or think about it or find some blogs where people are knitting beaded stuff and bad things aren’t happening? Is it really that hard? Who’s done this? Is it fussy? Should I do it on a train?

SOAR report

Sorry for the absence dear ones, but the while there was heaps of wireless at SOAR, it all stopped working on my computer for reasons that are totally mysterious to me. Then there was no internet in Connecticut, so this is (probably?) coming to you from Bradley airport where I’m perched with a coffee ready to fly home.


(There seems to be wireless here. We shall see. I’ve been disappointed so many days in a row that my faith is shattered.) I’m hoping that it just all starts working again sometime soon. Since I didn’t do anything to screw it up, I labour under the delusion that doing nothing will fix it. (What got you in will get you out…right?)I started to write this in the airport in Reno…(There are slot machines at the gate…


Just out of sight on the right in this picture is a lady yelling “Just one more dollar” at a guy I assume is her travelling partner. Rough crowd. )

Lucky for me I’ve been so busy that I didn’t have time to need the internet anyway. The days and evenings at SOAR are busy, busy, busy, and when I’m not busy, I’m asleep. I’m learning that my sea-level living self doesn’t agree with these heights and I was sleeping huge amounts of time. Toronto sits at 347 feet above sea level and Lake Tahoe at at what my lungs clearly consider an astonishing 6225 feet. This altitude really leaves me breathless and gasping, and perhaps a smidge queasy. I actually considered putting my head between my knees when the world got a little dark around the edges after carrying my suitcase, purse, laptop and wheel up three flights of stairs while I was there. While I can’t show you what oxygen deprivation looks like, here’s some stuff from SOAR I can show you.


This here is an intriguing SOAR phenomenon known as “pine-henge”


Apparently SOAR participants artfully arrange the cones under cover of darkness. It is ever-evolving, and everytime I walked by it it was different. There was apparently a pyramid at one point, but it had complex structural difficulties. (These pinecones fall from tall trees above and Amy Clarke Moore and I were almost bonked severely on the head while obtaining the first picture. )

The Keynote went fine, though it was very scary. (I wasn’t sure about talking about spinning instead of knitting. It was a leap.) Lo….

the spinners of SOAR.



(Half of them are blurry. I don’t know why.)

That was Thursday. Friday I took two classes. The first one was with Alden Amos called “As The Wheel Turns” which was an overview of the technical workings of a spinning wheel. He had this HUGE flyer and bobbin that he had built just for SOAR to explain the relationships between all of the parts of a wheel.


Big eh? It was so big it was sort of shocking. (What was shocking actually, was that it was a working wheel. Not an elegant working wheel, but a functioning wheel none the less.


Rachel sure thought it was shocking. I had a fantastic time following her around. We made a beer and ATM run that was exactly what I needed. The woman is a fountain of joy to be around. I got her to hold the sock…


and Alden too. (He was….bemused, I think. At the very least he resisted the urge to tell me what he was thinking when I asked him to “hold my sock”, for which I am grateful. If you have met Alden then you must know how difficult that would be for him.)


We had lunch, I regrouped and spent the afternooon in a class with Judith MacKenzie McCuin


intriguingly called “Three Wild Downs”. The class was an introduction to spinning the down fibres of bison, yak and cashmere. I was a little worried, mostly because the last time I tried to spin cashmere I managed to turn the little cloud of fibre into my hand into a mass of twisted $30/oz craptastica… but Judith is a wonderful teacher, and once she tells you a few magic things (“relax” is a big help) it’s really wonderful.


We spun about 16 different samples of varieties and blends. Yak/silk? Yum. (After the class I went to the market and found the booth from The Fold and made an embarassment of myself to Toni feeling up little wee bits of very good things. We shall not speak of it.)

This was the spinner next to me in Judith’s class.


Nancy Bush. I Love SOAR. There is simply the finest collection of fibre arts teachers in one place that you’re ever going to find. Jeannine Bakriges, Stephenie Gaustad, Andrea Mielke...


Deb Menz and Sara “freakin” Lamb…the list went on and on. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was really wonderful, you wouldn’t believe the things I learned. Getting to go in exchange for giving a terrifying speech to some of the people you respect most in the world was totally worth it. Totally. The icing on the cake was the view from my room…


and the promise of seeing a bear…


which I did.

I’ve got way more to tell you, like about the breast cancer fundraiser I just did in Granby, or the way that the altitude in Lake Tahoe makes all of your pens explode on your knitting, or the gigs I’m doing later this week. Heads up Ontario, it’s Kingston November the 8th, Ottawa the 9th and Montreal the 10th. Details tomorrow. …but that


….is my plane. It’s not very big….is it? Someday we will discuss my irrational belief that big planes stay up better. I have no idea where I got my idea that something heavier was more likely to fly…but there you have it.

I don’t even unpack anymore.

I am throwing wool into a suitcase to catch a 12:15 flight to Lake Tahoe for SOAR where I am giving the keynote address. I’m very nervous. To help ease my anxiety (and because I leave at 10:00am and arrive at my hotel at 9:00pm tonight…that’s some time on my hands) I have packed a mitten kit, three socks in progress, three things to spin, a backup skein of sock yarn and my knitpicks options so that if I run out of yarn I can still go get more and have needles. I am still wondering if I should take more. (Maybe a shawl….)

Today is my darling Joe’s birthday. We’re not celebrating properly today (what with the plane) but I couldn’t let the day go without marking it. I’ve said nice things about him on his birthday before (here and here, for those of you so compelled) and I only care for him more today than ever.

There is nothing more that I can say about this sweetness of a man this year, except that I love him, he’s a good learner, he is more ethically decent than I could ever convey in words and he’s handled an extraordinarily difficult few months with grace, good humour, and less whining that you would ever believe possible. I’m truly proud to be his wife and I’m glad I’m with him every day.