Dear Amanda

On this day 18 years ago, I was feeling pretty cocky. You were born and I sincerely thought I was equipped. I really did. Even though you were my first, I knew my way around babies and I wasn’t afraid of them, and I was even pretty sure that I had fantastic baby tending skills. Moreover, this parenting thing seemed to me like it was going to be pretty straightforward.

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I mean, I knew it would have its challenging moments, but overall, I thought I was going to be really good at it, and that it would be something I excelled at. I was pretty sure that with all of the books I had read and how much research I had done that I would have a great grip on it. I thought that those parents who were losing it all over the place were just not working hard enough at it. I was going to be a relaxed mother.

I think, darling girl, that we can both agree that I have been the exact opposite of relaxed in every way that there is to be not relaxed, and I now I really don’t know whether to apologize or demand thanks for that. I don’t know what went wrong with my plan, my plan for how easy it was all going to be, but when you screamed your way through your first night on this earth, despite everything the midwife and I could do to comfort you, I started to wonder if I hadn’t received a standard issue baby.

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This was confirmed when you screamed your way through the first 4 months of your life (thanks for entirely skipping sleep too. That wasn’t at all challenging) and then spent the next several years trying to kill yourself in a new way every thirty five seconds. At nine months you walked. At ten months you climbed to the top of the fridge and sat up there eating bananas.

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At 11 months I thought about tying you to the family bed so you didn’t do all of it in the night while I was sleeping. At 18 months you had a full vocabulary with which to add insult to injury (your favourite words were “No” and “Not Mum” and “Me do it”) and had developed a proclivity for biting other children and taking off all of your clothes in public. (Really, no-one could help but be impressed with your stripping skills. 15 seconds with my back turned on you in the grocery store and you would be bare bummed by the apricots, chatting with some stranger. I can’t stress how glad I am that you outgrew that.) By two you had the temper tantrum down to an art form that helplessly defeated even your “I’ve had four children – just try me” Grandmother, and you had discovered that your powers had their most devastating effect when you alternated incredible happiness with tornados of poor mood so that I never knew what would hit me.

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At three we had to move from our apartment to a house, since you had developed an intense determination to leap from the balcony. (You felt that only stupid children were injured in falls. Smart girls landed on the grass and were just fine. Since you were sure you were a smart girl….we moved.) At four you could read and frequently defeated adults with your keen intellect, and at five my life with you was sort of like Survivor, since there was almost nobody, adult or child who could outwit, outlast or outplay you.

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By six you had discovered the full force of your endearing charm, and by seven we were in the teachers office at school while she explained that you were the loveliest, most darling child she had ever met….but that we were really going to have to help them bring you on board with the system. (What an idea. Why didn’t I think of that. Bring you on board with the system. Huh.)

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By ten you were off and running in a broad social circle, largely immune to maternal remonstration, and no matter what happened or caught fire or blew up or broke, you kept saying the same thing to me that you always have. “Mum. Relax. I can handle it.”

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By your teens I spent a lot of my mothering time wondering why you had to reinvent the wheel all the time. (I should perhaps have looked up the definition of adolescence and saved myself a little stinking time.) I had already learned everything you were experimenting with. Why wouldn’t you just do what I told you?

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I knew that boys aren’t always sincere and that if a girl is gossiping to you about everybody else, that you can bet she’s gossiping about you to them. I knew that other girl was a liar (and her shirt was totally skanky), I knew what that boy wanted. (Joe knew too.) I knew that if you procrastinated on an essay you would regret it and I knew that if you really invested in school your life would be so much easier later on. I knew you would get caught if you skipped science. Your teen years turned into me following you around trying to tell you all the things I had learned the hard way, desperately trying to save you any kind of pain at all… and you staring at me like I was an idiot who didn’t know anything and proceeding to learn them all the hard painful way anyway.

I have spent the last 18 years being awestruck by the wonder that is you, someone I made in my spare time, and trying desperately to deal best with your epic personality and qualities. Tenacity. Intelligence. Constructive discontent. Persistence. Sensitivity. A fantastic sense of humour. Independence. Mercy. Fearlessness. Kindness. Equity.

Now, these qualities are terrible qualities in a child. North America wants children (especially little girls) to be polite. Obedient. Pliable. Kids who fight back and say no and think for themselves are hard to raise and not thought well of at all. We all talk about how “good” an obedient child is, and It struck me at some point while I was raising you, that I couldn’t have a child who did as they were told really well, and then suddenly expect you to turn into an adult who was assertive, independent and free thinking. I realized you couldn’t tell a kid “do what I tell you” and then turn around when they became a grown-up and suddenly say “think for yourself”. (Well. You can, but I don’t think it makes the best adults.)

In short, I realized that people are adults for a lot longer than they are kids, and that it makes more sense to cultivate wonderful adult skills than those traits that make kids easy to take care of. (Mostly I realized this, my child, because you wouldn’t do otherwise.)

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Over the last 18 years, in which I believe that you and I have tested each others patience at least once a day, often to the point of tears, I have often gotten through by telling myself “these are great qualities in an adult. She’s going to be an adult longer than she is going to be 3 (or 6, or 9 or 13 or 15). Do not kill her now.” (I don’t know what strategy you used to keep from killing me.)

And now it’s here. You’re an adult. A beautiful legal adult who (at least on paper) doesn’t need her mother. You can vote. You can move across the country. You can start a business or join the peace corps or ….You can do whatever wonderful thing you want, and you can do it all without my permission.

I am scared to death.

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Motherhood is the only occupation I can think of where your eventual goal is to put yourself out of business, and I have swung back and forth these last few years, hoping one moment that you will leave (I admit, we both probably know what days those were) and wishing the next moment that you will never leave and I will be allowed to try and keep you safe and with me forever. While I am not sure that I am entirely ok with this growing up thing…I know now that I have to at least start letting you go a little bit. I need to worry less about you and send you more out there, and I will. (Not all at once though. The world is freakin’ huge.) Please try to be patient with me, it’s hard for me to let go of my job. Try to remember that up until now if something happened to you they could put me in prison, and in my defence, you are my eldest and the kid I had to practice on.

I hope, dear Amanda, that all of this leaping without looking and enthusiastic going forward has taught you to at least scan the ground a little as you fly, and I’m going to try and trust that you know how to pick yourself up if you land hard….after all, all of the things that have made it a challenging, crazy ride to be your mother….

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These are terrific qualities in an adult.

I’m proud of you, and I love you. Happy 18th.

Crawl to the end

Several deep breaths will be needed to get through this day, I can feel it already. I have just under 19 hours before my flight to Massachusetts for the large and terrifying WEBS event. (at least if I arse this one up I can make arrangements to never return.) I know Kathy and Steve are all over this one, and aside from the odd little feeling I have that Kathy may be trying to compete with the entire city of New York to create a more fabulous knitting event (which is a very large task, the fabulousness of New York all considered) I’m just fine. From WEBS I’m off to BEA, always a test of a writers mettle. I’m signing in the autographing area from 9:30 to 10:30 on Saturday (Free signed books. That’s why people go to BEA.) and speaking in a panel on Saturday afternoon. (Ann and Kay and Deb Stoller are too. I’m very excited, and worried. I prefer to be on panels with idiots so that I don’t have to work at looking intelligent and witty.) In any case, before I have to get on a plane, I need to buy a new bra (don’t ask) get some shoes that are not Birkenstocks (don’t ask) and buy a shirt that my mother thinks is good enough for dinner in New York. I need to grocery shop so that I don’t leave Joe in a mess, and I need to do something about the mess. I need to figure out what knitting to take with me and I seriously need to get the summer clothes out of storage before the School phones and asks why I’m trying to poach three teens in their own wardrobes. (Maybe I should do that first. Do you think maybe an acceptable bra and shirt are in there? I should really check my order of operations.)

In any case. Lightning blogging.

Sunday morning I gathered myself up and set off in pursuit of adventure. It was not hard to find, since I had asked it to meet me at the Naked Sheep at 11:00.

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Behold. Intrepid yarn crawlers, ready for action. We shopped (with some restraint, because there were four yarn shops left on the agenda and pacing is everything.) and got on the streetcar to go across Queen to our next stop.

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Now, I have to tell you. This ride was definitely weird. When we got on, the streetcar was empty in the back and so we assembled there. 22 knitters, all knitting away in the back of the car. It’s a long ride from Queen East to Queen West, and the streetcar filled up as we went. Even as the car became more and more crowded, not one regular person would cross the line into knitter territory. Not even when the driver instructed them to move back to make more room. It was like a force field divided us. They would look (in fact, they couldn’t stop staring) but they wouldn’t stand near us. One woman mumbled “I’ve never seen anything like it” and one kid stumbled over the line when the streetcar stopped suddenly and his mother yanked him back out of the knit zone like he was at risk of falling into lava.

We got off at Americo

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It’s a shop I hadn’t been at, but it was recommended by Amy, so we went. (Sorry Sarah. I only got half of you in that picture. It’s because I had to take the picture so quickly, what with standing in the road to get it.) Americo is a beautiful but strange shop. No Patons or Rowan yarns here…every thing there seemed to be a handspun. Handspun silk, handspun camel, handspun weird bobble yarn…

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One yarn crawler commented, as we investigated all the beautiful and unique things, especially the knit and crocheted insertions and trims…

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that Americo was like the Banana Republic of yarn shops.

From Americo we walked to Romni wools.

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(We also stopped briefly at the windows of Miss Behaving, since every tourist to Toronto needs to. I’m sure the locals will agree that no walk down Queen is complete without it.)

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Romni did not fail to shock those who were new. Here, a knitter has a particularly emotional reaction to the Romni wall of sock yarn.

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Completely understandable, since only maybe 1/2 of the sock yarn is visible in this photo. It was at Romni that Rachel H and I decided that we needed to “sweep” each store at the end of the visit, making sure we hadn’t lost anyone. We would come out the door of the shop and yell “CLEAR”, just like in CSI. Good times.

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From Romni we walked to the Bathurst car and headed north to Kensington Market for lunch and Lettuce Knit for our next stop. I’m afraid that there are no pictures from this one, since we were all mixed in with the regular people on this very full streetcar. When we hit Nassau St. and our stop, Rachel and I just shouted “Knitters HO!” and hoped for the best. We did try to do a headcount and stuff.

No knitter left behind.

Lettuce knit was…

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Lettuce Knit. You know it’s always a good time and an especially good place to stop for lunch, what with how much good food there is to be had in the Market. (I had a yam burrito.) After lunch we hauled our rapidly developing haul down to the streetcar again, and this time…we had to wait.

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Three streetcars. (That makes it sound tragic, but in Toronto, three streetcars on a Saturday is only about 20 min.) One out of service and two that were too full as a result of the out of service one. At that point, we may have gotten bored…and Joey posed the question,

How many knitters can you fit in a bus shelter?

Game on.

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The answer is 21 (more if they don’t take their knitting and purchases in with them) but I will not even endeavour to tell you what sort of reaction this got from the general public.

We finally got a streetcar and made it to our final stop, Alterknit.

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Alterknit is a yarn store/cafe combination, and it was the perfect, perfect place to stop. I have to say that Alterknit wins both my undying thanks and the “most accommodating yarn store in the world” award. We showed up (thanks to the streetcar debacle) just as they were closing, and every body there went out of their way to make us feel welcome anyway- even though I’m certain they were ready to go home at the end of their workday. I kept saying “thanks so much for doing this”, as they whipped out lattes and juice and cookies and cake and all they said was “We’re glad you guys came.” Customer service above and beyond the call of duty. By a lot. Gradually everyone rested up and set out for planes, trains and automobiles home…and Ken, Rachel H. and I did what Canadians do when their work is done and a long day is over.

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Cheers yo. Hope everyone enjoyed our city!

A hometown crowd

When I was flipping out on Friday, thinking about how it was that if I arsed it up in my hometown I wouldn’t ever be able to live it down, I forgot to look at the flipside. If I didn’t arse it up, speaking in front of friends and family was going to be awesome. At 7:00 on Friday, I found out what everyone else knew. There ain’t nothing like a hometown crowd. The requisite sock pictures….

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Dudes. There were so many knitters.

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We all know that Toronto is a mecca for the kniterati, but wow. Seeing it is pretty wonderful thing.

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(Actually, I think whether or not a bookstore full of hundreds of knitters is a good thing depends on who you are. If you are the knitters, who keep warning bookstores how many of you there are, and what a significant portion of their business you represent and asking for chairs, you might find this sort of thing very, very satisfying. If you are the bookstore that just figured it out the hard way…perhaps you would think otherwise.)

Martha has a fantastic recounting ( love the labels on her pictures. There’s a few I would add to if I could) and Meredith’s husband played brilliant paparazzi for her story here. It was a blast, and once I realized I wasn’t going to die, it was sort of fun looking out there and seeing my mum and Joe’s mum and dad, my kids, Joe, my nieces and brother-in-law, my friends, my knitter buddies, Yarn shop owners….all people I knew, although there were really lots of new faces too. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because it was all happening sort of fast (and the panic thing the Indigo people had going on was really contagious…I hear that they were really fun to watch over the course of the evening.) and if I told you everything we would be here all day…but here are some highlights.

This is Jamie’s beautiful baby. (A beautiful baby wearing wool soakers.)

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Aven brought me one too.

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Adrienne,

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and Cathy

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both brought their first sock mojo. (Have you ever noticed that these first socks people bring always look way better than your first sock looked? I mean, are the people with the sucky fist socks just not showing me, or was my first sock especially horrendous)

A thousand thanks to Chris and Marsha, who still have me laughing by supplying not just this years bacopa basket, but all the proof I needed that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s freakin hilarious. Bacopa Cabana. Snork.

This is Jasmine and Derek from Edmonton…

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Holidaying after renewing their vows and taking a little time out for knit-action.

Danny donated a wonderful hat to the hat collection…

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and the hat collection was incredible. Since I was the hat lady for Toronto I got to have a really good long look at them before I donated them to Streetknit, and I was really impressed.

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They are all really, really good hats. When we were done messing with Indigo, (Post in the comments if you have a story about Friday) I sallied down to The Spotted Dick (stop that giggling) and I have to tell you. Filling a whole pub up with knitters?

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Bigtime fun. Bigtime.

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Megan stayed long enough to get called home…

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Rachel H, Joe and Ken (aka: The Dream Team who make all things possible.)

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Partied it desperately hard.

Joe thanked Ken for his perpetual support.

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(I said I wouldn’t post that, but it’s too damn cute.)

And me? I had a wonderful time. I’ll say it again. Ain’t nothing like a hometown crowd….

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and a finished baby sweater.

Tomorrow we answer that burning question:

How many knitters can you fit in a bus shelter?

(PS. I should have known you would ask. Justin and Colin had an estimated 30 attendees. I think that counts as a trouncing.)

Hometown jitter

I am always, always afraid before I get up to give a talk. Always.

For a while there, I thought that there was something wrong with me. I would be nervous and people say “Still?” or “Really?” or “But you do this all the time!” and I sure do…and I’ve never found a way over it. I am as terrorized today as the first day…perhaps more. As the time to stand up in front of all of those people (even if they are mostly on my side) comes, I start to panic. I organize. I pace. I get out my speech. I print multiple copies. I number the pages and sort of crumple them individually so that two pages can’t stick together while I am up there. I don’t eat. I drink coffee (this may not help) and I reflect deeply on the pain developing in my stomach and try to work out if I actually have appendicitis or if my body is just trying to convince me that I have appendicitis so that I will go to the hospital or die but definitely not get up on that stage. I knit and knit and knit, because it’s really pretty calming (it’s pretty hard to make a career or relationship ending move with a bit of knitting) oh…by the way… here’s the baby sweater from yesterday. Nothing like a little anxiety to light a fire under your knitting….

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though this would move fast, even for a relaxed knitter. I’ve got a little bit of sleeve and applied i-cord around the neck left to go, and all the ends to weave in. (That’s why there are some big holes.)

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I think maybe I wasn’t clear yesterday. To buy the yarn for this sweater individually would be $160, since you need eight colours and you can only buy whole skeins. I will not (I think, though there have been bigger surprises) pay $160 for a baby sweater that someone is going to barf on, even if there will be many leftovers and it is superwash wool. (Which it is, but that is not the point.) What I was trying to say yesterday, is that Megan (at Lettuce Knit) made up kits for it. She wound off little balls of all the colours that you need so that it doesn’t cost $160. It costs $40 – which is still a little dear for a baby thing, but I count yarn in my entertainment budget. I knit for fun, like some people golf, so if I get a baby gift out of it, that’s a bonus. Now that I’ve cleared that up….

So before I give these talks I’m pacing around and I’m imagining what can go wrong. I could throw up. That would be bad. I could faint, or lose all verbal control and say something terrible…I could have to go to the bathroom right in the middle of the speech or someone could stand up and say “You know, I just drove six hours because I hate you so much that it was worth it to me to burn the gas to tell you in person”. I could have my skirt tucked into my panties, I could sit in something gross right before I go out there. Nobody could come. Hundreds of people could come. On top of the thousands of ways I could screw it up, then I get anxious about the ways the bookstore can screw it up. (Although, when it’s a bookstore that has been laissez faire about the event because they don’t believe in knitters, I sort of enjoy watching them get screwed. Don’t tell anyone.) The whole thing breeds hysteria in me, and the way I see it, there’s no way to relax about it or get used to it, because frankly, the same risks are there every time. I’ve developed some coping strategies though. I have a couple of things that I say to myself before I go out there.

I say:

“This is not important. Not really. There are wars and diseases and big problems and this is not one of them. Try to keep perspective. No matter what goes wrong tonight, your screw up will NOT cost lives.”

I say…

“It is ok to screw up. You are only human, human beings screw up, and most other people find it really comforting to see someone else screw up because they screw up too. Pretending to be perfect is unfair to other people. ”

But the last thing I say? The big one? The thing that bucks me up enough that I stagger out to the podium at all is not going to work tonight. The one thing I always hold in the back of my mind as the jaunty mental liferaft of hope doesn’t work in your hometown as you sit surrounded by your nearest and dearest.

I say:

“Don’t forget, if you humiliate yourself….you don’t ever have to see these people again.”

I’m going to go have a little lie down now. Go wish Lee Ann a happy 40th birthday. See you (If I show up) at 7:00 and I can’t tell you how happy I am going to be when I’m hoisting a pint at the pub after. (PS. for all the Americans who wrote with some serious concerns about what sort of pub I had chosen for the afterparty… Spotted Dick is a dessert. It has currants. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

We will not be dicussing

That tomorrow is the Canadian Launch. We will be avoiding that topic very seriously (unless you really need to know something I haven’t told you, in which case just let me know) and showing you very interesting and exciting things instead so that we don’t talk about the very nerve wracking Launch.

Thing the first:

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Megan’s new haircut. It’s all “my mother approves” from the front…

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and “I’m a rebel who can still sort of get a summer job as long as I don’t put my hair in a pony-tail” in the back.

Thing the second.

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Keyboard Biologist graces our Knit Night all the way from Chicago. She is very nice. She held the sock. She went with me to The Big Fat Burrito. (Only Torontonians will know how good that is.) She has a very beautiful baby bump.

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There is definitely someone very good in there. (The bump made her fit right in, since practically our whole Knit Night has had the nerve to get knocked up all at once.)

Exciting thing the third.

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Swatchy was at the Knit Night. Noricum brought her/him/it, and I have to admit, I find her a better conversationalist than Swatchy, who’s approach is…minimalist. I think it is so charming that Noricum is modelling a hat with all her dpns still in the top.

Exciting thing the fourth:

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This tulip baby sweater from Dream in Color. I love it. I wouldn’t ever have made it, since it calls for eight colours of the yarn and even I cannot justify $160 for a baby sweater, no matter how I try, but Megan kitted it with little wee balls,

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and last night I fell down hard and swiped my credit card on the way to the ground. Enchanting, enchanting…enchanting. I’m going to see how much of it I can knit while I am not discussing the launch. Very busy.

(PS. If anybody who was not obsessing about a little rainbow sweater and not the launch wanted to go down to the Indigo tonight and see, very sort of secret spy like, how many people come for Justin and Colin…we could not discuss that too.)

Trusty Steed

Dear Bike

I love you. I know I’m a little off my game this spring and that usually I’ve taken you out of the bike Cabana a long time before now. (Note to self: Don’t forget to buy a hanging basket of Bacopa to hang on the bike Cabana so you can call it “The Bacopa Cabana” all summer long. No matter what Joe says, that never stops being funny.)

This morning, as I washed your shiny red frame, I reflected on what a good summer we are going to have. I love driving you around the city, and I harbour a special fondness for riding you to the village, buying bread, wine and flowers and then riding home through the tree lined streets. It makes me feel fit, healthy, environmentally clever and to be completely honest….pretty good looking.

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I’ll put my knitting in the basket and we’ll ride to the market and spend summer evenings knitting on the stoop at Lettuce Knit. We’ll go to the bookstore and through the park and I’ll blow right by all of those people stuck in traffic, the wind in my hair, and sunshine glinting off your (slightly bent from the time that I sort of rode into that really deep ditch in PEI) spokes.

Sometimes we’ll come back at night time from the other side of the city, and I’ll take College Street through Little Italy, with all the trendy people drinking on the patio at The Dip, and all the twinkle lights in the trees lit up over my head. I’ll never run out of gas (as long as we don’t count that wicked hill over by Casa Loma) and all my travel will be free for the next three months, and not paying any bus fare really frees up the yarn money. Riding is going to be so much fun that I won’t even really miss the TTC bus/subway knitting time.

What I like best, my sweet little ride, is that you grant me freedom to avoid engaging in the crush of humanity on the subway – like last night, when I was knitting my new sock

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New sock. Plain vanilla pattern, Frobe Fibers sock yarn, colour “Random Tuesday”

…and this guy, who was as malodorous as he was insane, leant over my left shoulder and told me, loudly and with great ferocity, that I should stop knitting now while I was young, or else my intellect would be “used up and worthless” before I was 50. He advised me that there are limits, and I was going to exceed them.

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(At least he thought I was a) young, and b) doing something that required intellect.) In response, I told him not to worry. That I had intellect to spare on knitting.

His response? He told me that there are birds trying to lay eggs in peoples hair in the Bathurst subway station.

Good tip. I’ll be on my bike.

A clever diversion

This entry is really going to be about the fun surrounding the Canadian Launch on Friday night. Since that is of limited interest to the rest of you, I am mingling in pictures of the socks I finished this long weekend while Canada was closed for the May two-four and I had lots of time to knit. (Yup. I got the garden done. You get the cottage open?) The plan for Friday and Saturday is as follows. Again, those of you with limited interest in these happenings…Look! Socks!

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Yarn: Online Sierra, colour 890 (I think), needles: 2.25mm (US 1)

Pattern: my basic recipe.




Friday 10-6: The Textile Museum is having it’s 12th annual More Than Just a Yardage Sale, at (you guessed it) The Textile Museum of Canada here in Toronto. If you click on the link on their page (pdf) you get details. Admission is free and it’s a neat way to spend the afternoon.

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Friday 7:00- Book launch/freaking out people who don’t understand/giving the staff at Indigo a serious upset. Is it very wrong that I want there to be more knitters there on Friday than there will be regular people on Thursday for Justin and Colin? (I love Justin and Colin.) Indigo told us how many knitters were there for Tracey Ullman last year and I was not instantly consumed with an urge to have more people than Tracy (Stop that laughing. I am not that competetive. Besides, I didn’t say I didn’t want us to get more than her. I said I wasn’t instantly consumed. She’s a fellow knitter. There’s only so much you can want to whup her.) but two BBC nancy-boys with a passion for tile? Totally fair game.

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Jaywalkers (Free pattern), in Vesper Yarn’s Tartan.

AfterpartyThe Spotted Dick, 81 Bloor Street East (That’s totally walking distance from the Indigo) will be expecting an influx of knitters from 9:00pm onwards until we call it a night. They have hosted the Drunken Knitters Night, so they know what to expect, and they will look for us all to filter in as we finish at the Indigo. (They are actually very fond of knitters over at the Dick, which, while true….is a very unlikely sentence to type.)

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Saturday: Yarn Crawl – meet at 11:00 at the Naked Sheep with a TTC Day Pass in your hand. (They cost $8.50 and you can get them at any station. If you don’t get a pass, you will need cash or tickets for each leg of our journey – That’s at least 5 legs X $2.75.) We’ll hit a whack of yarn shops by way of the subway and streetcars (out of towners will get to see a bunch of the city) have lunch in Kensington Market (lots of choices) and wind up done in the West End at about 5:00. Native Torontonians and folks who get to the city easily should note that there is another chance to do this….Better probably, on International Knit in Pubic Public (Well now. That’s the worst typo ever.) Day at the famous TTC Knit-a-long. Rachel H and I have already resigned ourselves to hosting a very pale substitute, but we will do what we can for those of you who can’t come for the real deal.

One last diversion for those who don’t care about Toronto stuff…

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Today is Tuesday, and this is my spinning. Anyone recognize the fibre?

Response to Hysteria

This is my new green sweater in progress and I would like to say a few things about it.

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1. Yes. I do think it’s green. It’s Dream In Colour yarn “strange harvest” and I believe it has a lime green “root” colour, though I do agree that the green has rusted quite a bit…still, I maintain that this is a green sweater, no matter how many times someone looks at me funny when I say it. Green. A very rusty, orangey, mustard green. That’s what it is. Try squinting. Maybe it’s your monitor.

2. Yes. I just started.

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3. Yes. I have lots done. This is only possible because I am channelling all the household hysteria into this sweater as two of my three girls manage (or don’t manage) the pressures of end of year high school. Amanda is graduating, Meg is finishing grade 10. Every time I want to say “You have known for a month this essay worth 40% of your mark was due this week”, I knit.

Every time I wonder if having an SAT system is harder or easier than this….I knit.

Every time I want to phone the school and ask them if it’s really necessary to imply to a 15 year old that any academic error she makes this year could RUIN HER WHOLE LIFE, I knit.

Every time a graduating teenager flips out because, she’s right, unlike her sister, the next four years of her life will be decided by something she does (or doesn’t do) in the next 10 minutes, I knit.

Every time I wonder why Ontario has a requirement that all kids must complete 40 hours of “community service” to graduate high school….I knit. The pressure on them is incredible, especially so since my kids (especially Amanda) are part of a “contracted curriculum”. The province increased the requirements to graduate from high school at the same time as they changed the curriculum and shortened the number of years for High School (four instead of five, for University bound kids) which is going to be fine for kids like my youngest, who have had time to be prepared for the new system, but really hellish for kids like Amanda who are living through it. Every time I wonder if giving this much pressure to people this young is really smart… Knit, knit, knit.

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(See? Green sweater. Totally green.)

The more hysterical everybody gets, the more I sit beside them while they write essays and study and the more sweater I get done. (If the hysteria doesn’t end soon I am going to need to start a garter stitch blanket.) I usually have mixed feelings about the summer (and all those teenagers in my home office while I’m working) but this year I think it’s going to be such a relief for all of us.

Knit, knit, knit.

In other news:

Rachel H and I are still getting it together for the Canadian Launch of the book next Friday at Indigo here in Toronto, (The event is up on their web page, so I guess they are really going to go through with it) and we’re planning like mad. We were wondering if there would be any interest in a Toronto Yarn Crawl the next day (Saturday), how many of you would be interested in the afterparty (after the event on Friday night, heaven knows Rachel H and I will be needing a pint or two) and lastly…how many of you are planning on coming to Indigo? (We’re still trying to shock them with our sheer numbers…but not so much that any store managers have strokes.)

Can you give us a shout out in the comments so we can plan chairs, beers and yarn shops if you’re planning on needing any of those?

Knit, knit, knit.

Easy to Entertain

I have made a stunning discovery. If I actually sit at the wheel and spin, spinning gets finished. I know this must seem obvious to those of you brighter than yours truly, but considering how much time I’ve spent just looking at the wheel, sighing deeply and just thinking about spinning up some of the stash, wishing that bunches of spinning would get finished…. it is clear to me that I must have thought that inaction would get me somewhere.

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I finished all of the singles, and was so completely taken with them that I couldn’t wait to see what would happen when I plied them up. I am a simple soul, and when I sat down to ply I was so entertained by waiting to see what two colours would end up beside each other next,

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that I plied the whole thing in one go. It was enchanting. Completely enchanting. I was spinning this to be a heavy sock weight, and I couldn’t stop looking at it as a pair of socks as it came together. I was absolutely charmed by whatever two colours were barberpole-ing around each other and practically hysterical with glee when the the two plies matched up colour-wise.

I actually sang out to Joe at one point “There are two blues! The two blues are next to each other! This part is just blue!” Joe looked at me like I was some sort of alien, then pulled it together and sort of mumbled “Good honey…that’s ….great.” I realized he didn’t get it. “Joe…” I said (rather emphatically) “This is sock yarn. That means that part of the sock will have a BLUE STRIPE.”

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He nodded sort of enthusiastically at me, but he was totally faking.

It’s good that I have you people to show this too. It’s so hard to get any sort of knitterly satisfaction out of regular people.

The best part (although the whole thing was seriously, seriously fun) was the end. You know how when you are spinning a two ply (or however many) that at the end there’s always more left on one bobbin? One always runs out before the other and you have this chunk of singles that you can’t really do anything with? It doesn’t matter how carefully you try to balance the bobbins out…it never comes out even? This time…

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This was all that was left on one bobbin. As close to perfect as it can be. Dudes. It was a totally entertaining spinning experience, and I’m so excited about the idea of it being socks, but I’ll have to wait. It’s 250m of heavy sock weight, and it can be yours to make socks if you donate to Claudia’s Knitters Against MS Drive. It’s a prize. Claudia’s big bike ride effort (two days, 150 miles) is near and dear to my heart, and I’d consider it a personal favour if you gave her some money. Give early. Give often. Win prizes.

Onward.

Tuesdays are for…

That’s right, SPINNING!

That vague thump you just heard were the collective bodies of commenters Rams, Presbytera and Rachel H. all hitting the floor simultaneously because I have managed to not only make it to the wheel (I admit, I have been rather seduced by the siren call of my mistress knit lately) but have made it to my wheel on an actual real life Tuesday, that high and holy day in my house that is indeed supposed to be for spinning.

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Today’s Fibre: Happy Fuzzy Yarns 100% blue faced leicester wool roving in the colourway “Quilt”. I love it. Once it’s drafted it pretty much spins itself.



I started doing “Tuesdays are for spinning” because without some sort of reminder, I just sort of let the wheel get away from me. To be a good spinner (which I am not… I dally around the edges of “okay”) you need practice, and practice only comes at the wheel or spindle. Therefore I had this big idea that if I made a habit of spinning every Tuesday, three things would happen. I thought that spinning at least one day a week would do something to keep the fibre stash upstairs from multiplying like tribbles, I thought I would probably finish spinning the gansey wool, and I was pretty sure I would become a better spinner.

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While a weekly culling of the herd was happening in the fibre stash for a while, (and I did finish the gansey wool) I’ve obviously fallen off that horse, and I aim to get back on it. It worked for a while. One day a week to spin…six days to knit it up. No problem. Then I skipped a Tuesday (ironically, I skipped it to work on the gansey, that most beloved of all fibre albatross.) and then I was travelling so much and I sort of said “Well, spinning on Tuesdays is not really a code…it’s more of a guideline” and that Tuesday turned into another, and then the next thing you knew I had lost it entirely and was hauling off and spinning for an hour on Sunday or maybe even a little shot on a Wednesday around noon, or maybe not spinning at all. All of a sudden the spinning wheel was getting the same amount of attention as the vaccuum cleaner but I was still buying, collecting and receiving fibre and….

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The code needs to come back. Spinning. Tuesdays. In search of a better spinning self and any hope of seeing the floor of that room upstairs. I’m on it. I will spin Tuesdays, and if I am not home, I will use a spindle. No excuses. (I am sure that Rams, Presbytera and Rachel, imbued with the spirits the Moirae, will see that I regret that vow, but that will be another day.

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Tuesdays are for spinning bonus: I just found “Spindle and Wheel“, a brand spanking new quarterly online magazine for spinners. I am entirely obsessed with the article about spinning beaded yarn and were it not for the little promise I made myself about using some of beads I bought before I bought more…..

Note to self: Starting up with a whole other kind of stash will not help.