Yesterday was one of those days that just evaporates into a haze of comings and goings. The girls are wrapping up school and their schedules are madness. Exams, plays, musicals –


(This was the grade 7/8 production of Aladdin. Use your imagination in a big way. I knit my way through. One woman walking by me at intermission saw me knitting and said “Wow. I bet that takes the edge off.” She is correct.)


This time of year is notoriously unsettled for us. The kids are transitioning into summer, starting jobs, finishing school, starting summer jobs and I’m trying to learn how to cope with three (or four – since Joe remains “unsettled” for the time being) people drifting in and out of my office while I try to earn us all a living. This morning I had to negotiate for 30 minutes of familial silence so I could do an interview thing where the background noise wasn’t two teenaged girls having a meltdown over who took who’s straight leg jeans with the red line on the pocket and whether or not that breaks down the chain of possession enough that now Megan’s coveted blue shirt is now open season for Samantha. (I bet anyone with a sister just had a flashback.) I am doing what I always do with things are unsettled.

I am knitting.


I finished the body of the Kauni sweater (Turns out that Brenda is hosting a knit-a-long for this sweater here) and the thing looked pretty weird.


That’s the neck steeks (back and front) pulling in at the top and making it look odd.

I cast off for the bottom of the neck, then cast back on stitches to “fill” in that spot so I could keep knitting in the round. (This is all in the patten.) That’s the whole purpose of a steek. It’s a span of knitting that joins two parts of knitting that wouldn’t normally be joined. Steeks let you knit in the round when you ordinarily wouldn’t be able to, then you cut the steek open later to give you back the gap. This sweater has five steeks. One that joins the two fronts so the body can be knit in the round even though it’s a cardigan. (You can see that in the first picture. It’s the dashed lines that are out of pattern in the front.)

Two for each armhole, so that you can just cut holes for the arms later.


Then there’s the one each at the front and back neck, so that you don’t have to work back and forth while you do the neck shaping.

Steeks are cool, if terrifying in the beginning. The first one I cut had me pretty worried. (That is an understatement) Sure, the instructions say to…sure it’s how fair isle sweaters have been done forever, but taking a pair of sharp scissors to something you knit just isn’t natural at first. You know how this thing went together. You know how easy it is for it to come apart. Seems risky to just start hacking up the knitwear. What if you cut the wrong place? What if the sweater doesn’t fit right? There’s no coming back from a cut….Until you actually do it it’s pretty hard to believe that this is a good idea.


Here’s the neck steek, before the snip. (You can see that I have run a little hand stitching along the edge of the steek. This is because I am not a very trusting person. This yarn is sticky and shouldn’t need to be sewn to keep from unravelling along the steek after it’s cut, but I’ve been on the losing end of a sweater game enough times to trust yarn the same way I trust 16 year old boys near my daughters.) The orange line is where the eventual neckline will be (where I’ll pick up stitches), and the yellow is where I’m going to cut.


One smallish belt of Glenlivet later (I no longer require the scotch for bravery, I just like it as a ritual) the steek(s) – I did the back too.. are cut open. Make sense now? The curve of the neckline is accomplished by working decreases along the edge of the neck.


While I was hacking things up, cut open the sleeve steeks, you can see that I needn’t have worried about it unravelling…


It’s going nowhere, and after a little washing and handling it will felt slightly to itself and be even more steadfast. (Still I hand stitch. Trust issues, clearly.) I picked up stitches, and I’m carrying on for the first sleeve.


I want to thank you all for the wonderful comments on the post from the other day. Especially from those of you who understood that I wasn’t advocating being nice all the time, nor avoiding difficult topics or honest criticism. Nor, actually was I saying that you shouldn’t say nasty things on your blog or in the comments. I really loved that so many of you got that I was visiting the point that if you makes statements you wouldn’t your target (or boss, or mum) to know you said, you better fear the google-fu, ’cause you might be asked to own what you say.

Housekeeping: So many people have emailed me about a bunch of stuff that I’m going to whack it up here for everyone.

1. Yes. The audiobooks of Casts-off and Meditations are out. Yes, I think I sound like a hampster on meth, but I have been advised by people who hear my voice all the time that it’s really just fine. (Apparently I sound like that all the time and I just didn’t know.) You can get a hard copy (actual cds) from a bookstore. (I’m just linking to Amazon as an example, please consider using your local independent.) or as a download from Audible. (While you’re there? Get this. (Or anything else in that series, though that’s the first one.) FANTASTIC. Only book I ever liked better on audio than in my head, and that includes mine.)

Sorry guys, some of you are telling me that link to Audible doesn’t work for all of you. It’s pointing to “Crocodile on the Sandbank” , first in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, as read by Barbara Rosenblat.

2. Yes. Knitty Gritty is replaying my episode June 29th at 2pm.

3. Yes. I know I’m nominated for a Bloggers Choice award (or three) I’m very, very proud, but I feel sort of weird talking about it. At the urging of several private emails and my mother, I’m only telling you about it because there are other fine blogs there (Including Wendy and Crazy Aunt Purl) and because you can vote for whomever you like. I’m nominated for best craft blog, best blog design (which is totally pushing it) and best blog ever, which, while it is an honour of devastating proportions, is an award that even my mother and I wouldn’t advocate for me in. (Just don’t let Neil Gaiman beat me. I like him, but It’s an author thing.)