Flow Goes

I adore this tank. I wore it all day yesterday and just can’t get enough of it.


This is the Flow tank, from Norah Gaughan’s book two with Berroco, knit out of a really interesting yarn called Seduce, (colour is 4451 “Passimenterie Green”) a core wrapped yarn made from 47% Rayon, 25% Linen, 17% Silk and 11% Nylon. It’s a remarkably weird yarn for me to choose to knit with, not at all what I usually buy, and I would have walked right by it in WEBS, if there hadn’t happened to be a shop model hanging above the yarn. (There’s a lesson in there for shops.)


I enjoyed knitting with this yarn about as much as I enjoy knitting with cotton or linen or rayon at the best of times – which is really not much at all. I love the bounce and springiness of wool, and inelastic fibres like this are hard on my hands as I knit them up. The shop model of this was so beautiful though, that I though that I would suck it up for one garment, and I did, and I’m so glad I did. Where the yarn was inelastic and unyielding, the fabric it created is stretchy, graceful and … it just flows.


I think it’s going to be a workhorse of a top, possessed of all of my favourite qualities in a tank. I like high necklines and high armscye… wide straps to cover my bra straps (I’ve never adjusted to the idea that it’s ok to show straps) and this is perfectly shaped in that department. I made only one modification (which seriously, is a pretty good ranking for any project I make) and lengthened the body by about 4cm (1.5 inches) after the shaping was completed. Even though I’m only 5’1″, it was too short for my taste as written, but I think it’s just perfect now. I can see this top going anywhere. With my standard brown linen skirt it went to yoga and the pub, looked great while I was riding my bike. (The advantages of that high neck again… when I lean forward on my bike I don’t blind oncoming traffic with the stellar view of my breasts.)


(This picture was a little blurry, on account of Rachel H was riding her bike at the same time too…and don’t say a word about the no hands. I can ride no hands if I want to. I’m 40 years old and wearing a helmet.)

As great as this looks casual, I think that with an elegant skirt or my wide linen pants this could easily go to a meeting or dinner somewhere fancy – which is great, because sometimes that comes up and I don’t have anything to wear.


Near as I can tell, the only thing wrong with this tank is that I only have one.

Thrilled to death with this knit. Thrilled.

In which I drink coffee alone

Every year my mum takes the girls up to the cottage for a while, and that leaves Joe and I here alone. As you can imagine, Joe and I are often terrifically lonely during this time and must turn to each other for comfort… why just last night we had to go out to dinner to celebrate cope with our grief. After all, what was the point of cooking just for the two of us? None. Similarly, A glass of wine did much to take the edge off of the emptiness in our home, and eventually (after watching a really good movie with subtitles that nobody complained about) we just went to bed early. There was no point in staying up without the children.

There are four more days of this kind of emptiness stretching out in front of me, and I can’t hardly think what I’m going to do with myself if the children are not here to trash the house, filthy all clothing, smear cosmetics all over the bathroom and then sweep through the kitchen with their friends laying waste to all produce in their paths like mighty unremitting locusts. Why, just 10 minutes ago I saw a telephone lying fallow. It’s battery wasn’t even dead.

We’re only one day into the five-day child free abyss, and already I have finished the reknit on Flow and tried it on to see if it fits (it does)


and now it’s blocking. (I’ll get Rachel to take some pictures later.) With that done, I am so lonely that I have been forced to cast on a new sweater just to feel better and less bereft.



I hope it helps… because I really feel like without my darling girls, I can’t hardly fill my idle hours. I have no purp…….

Oh, sorry. Gotta go. Meeting a friend for lunch. Then I’ve got yoga…then beer on a patio, then maybe I’ll talk on the house phone for a while without wrestling a teenager to the ground for it.

I miss them so much.

You get what you pay for

I had 1205g spun before the final push in the Tour de Fleece, and I had this monster batt to go.


The thing was way to big to get on my tiny scale, but I couldn’t imagine that it didn’t weigh at least 300g. No way. I embarked on it with dedication like you’ve never seen. I spun. I spun more. I spun without worrying about the colours or where they landed. When one bobbin was full I moved onto the next. It was a blur. The limp started to come back. I spun anyway. I spun though meals, I spun through sleep time… In fact, the only break I took was to go meet Megan’s baby, but I had spun so much that I was feeling pretty cocky. I had time to spare. By Saturday night I had three full bobbins.


So I did a three ply. It filled three bobbins again on Sunday morning as I plied, and I was thrilled not just with the yarn (dang it’s pretty) but that it was Sunday at about 2 in the afternoon when I was all done. 3 skeins of beautiful yarn. Totally done. Done the Tour de Fleece.


Here I thought I wouldn’t make it at all, and I was done with time to spare. As I skeined it and admired it, gave myself little congratulatory lectures on sticking to a thing and not giving up. Being a bit of a procrastinator, I’m not usually finished with time to spare – and it really felt good. Fantastic in fact. I was heading upstairs to set the twist in a bath when it occured to me to weigh the skeins. I wondered how far over 1500g I had gone! I came back downstairs, knotted them up small enough to go onto the scale and….


Whoa. I stared. I took it off and put it on again, making sure that the whole knot was on the scale. Then, feeling a little shocky and looking at the clock (1:22, for anyone who cares) I did the math. 221g. 1205 + 221 = 1426. 1426, my woolly friends, is less than 1500. I started to panic. No way. Just no way… that roving was huge – how could it be only 221g? Rat Bastards. I started to panic. Really panic. No way was I coming within 74 grams of victory. NO WAY.

I threw the skeins onto my desk and bolted for the spinning stash. I rifled through it (making a huge mess that I totally have to clean up today. I grabbed a roving of 50/50 wool/alpaca and started to spin. Spin fast. (This is the point that I probably should have made a decision to spin chunky singles yarn, but I promised myself at the outset of this that I would rather not finish than spin yarn that I didn’t like. This is probably also the point that I should have remembered that alpaca is lighter than wool, and that’s probably why that huge batt was so light, and likely why going and getting more alpaca blend yarn was a little dumbass at that point, but in the heat of battle, things are lost.)


There are no pictures of the singles, my friends, because they were finished at 10pm, and I couldn’t stop long enough to photograph them if I was going to make the deadline. The three bobbins (why I decided to do three ply is beyond me) were mounted on the kate (I refuse to call it a lazy kate) and I started plying. I whipped through two bobbins and with moments to spare, I had this.


168m of the alpaca/shetland three ply, and decent, though spun fast. I popped it on the scale:




Total weight spun : 1540 grams, and about 2500m of yarn I love.

I gathered the guys up today for a class photo (minus the green sparkly yarn, since I already gave it away.)

Mission accomplished.


Now if you don’t mind, I have a spinners limp to put ice on. Same time next year?

(PS. I know some of you will ask, so I’ll add it here. All of these skeins are gifts. It was a stash busting exercise, so as hard as it is to let go, they are all leaving for homes in other stashes. All but one. Any guesses which one I’m keeping? )

Snips and snails and puppy-dogs tails

Internets, please meet Megan’s son:



(Don’t you love it? You could grow up to be anything with a name like that.) Megan sent me a note confirming his name choice (and telling me that she and her husband James read every comment and had a ton of fun) and it read:

Obediah Ukulele and Penelope Pearl welcome their baby brother Elwood Ulian

(Ulian is in reference to ulian pipes, a musical instrument similar to the bag pipes).

Tracy is the lucky knitter who guessed boy (and wanted to name him Bart) and was chosen by the random number thingie, and Tina and I will be mailing her a kit for Baby Yours (the blue sweater above.) I hope she knows a little guy who will look as handsome in it as our boy Ely. If you guessed girl, you certainly weren’t alone, and I held that baby live and in person yesterday and still couldn’t tell till I peeked at his netherbits. (That’s a boy for sure.)

I like how he looks like he’s waving up there. Hi right back atcha Dude.


I saw Megan this morning, and she and her wee beloved (only 15 hours old) both look very, very, very well and happy. Her labour was fast and easy (in as much as it is possible to move another human through your body easily, which is not very easy at all even when it is.)


Megan wouldn’t tell me the gender, and I had to go investigating to find out… it was a thrill uncovering the truth for myself, and Megan and I have agreed that this mystery is a great deal of fun, so we’re passing it on.

Is it a girl baby?



or is it a boy baby?



Leave your guess, along with a potential name that goes with your gender (or, you know, get all smart and suggest something like “Pat”) in the comments, because although this baby really does have a gender, she/he actually doesn’t have a name. Megan loves unusual names, so fire away.

I’ll choose randomly from among the people who get the gender right and mail them a kit for either the Baby Mine sweater, or the Baby Yours sweater… depending on what the right answer is. Have at it!

(Correct answer tomorrow at this time.)

All safe and one more

Megan’s baby has safely arrived as of this evening. 9lbs, 14oz of some kind of human gorgeousness.

She tells me I’ll have to come over tomorrow and change a diaper to find out more.

Suddenly…. I don’t care what sort of baby it is. It’s just so wonderful.

Breathe. Tonight we are one more.

Theory of Relativity

Major action yesterday. Just when I had admitted defeat, things got all efficient and whammo, I may (possibly, maybe, don’t count on it) be back in the game. I finished spinning and then plied all the singles from the latest Spinderella batt and no sooner than you can say “put ice on a spinners limp” (thanks for the tip, by the way, it actually really, really helped, along with elevation) I had turned this:


Into this…


Into 120g of wool/stuff “thrums” from Spinderella, about 150m, chain plied 3 ply.



Not only that, but because I had a good chunk of that spun up before the limp hit, the day was still young. Inspired (and watching Stargate Atlantis) I decided to at least make a start on the next day’s spinning, and I pulled out my last Spinderella batt, one called “Midnight Light”. These are very fast and fun to spin, since all the little bits in it make it impossible to spin an even single. Since perfection is off the table, I don’t fuss and they happen pretty quickly, especially compared to the wool/silk I was spinning before this.


Into this.


115 of the “Midnight Light” Spinderella thrums, again, chain plied to about 150m.

Now, 115 + 120 = 235, which is way, way more than the 132g minimum I needed yesterday. Yesterday’s spinning brings the Tour tally to 1205 so far, with 295g left to go…. and three days to do it.

That – my friends, means that I need only 98g a day to nail this thing and I’m totally overwhelmed by hope. I think I might make it. I really do. Only 98g – and every gram more than that I spin today means I have even less to spin tomorrow, which is really good because I do have a life and responsibilities and things I should be doing, but I really feel like the stars are aligning. Take today for instance. Today was a day that I was supposed to be doing mountains of laundry to get caught up and ready for next weeks activities, and lo and behold, 10 minutes after I made a pot of coffee…. the guys working on the road at the corner turned off my water for the day.

That’s a sign. There’s little to no housework I can do without water, so I may as well spin. It’s destiny. I would be doing laundry, if only the water was on, which it’s not, so there’s no shame in spending the afternoon at the wheel. I’m going to start with this:


A Brushstrokes batt from Indigo Moon Farm. (Are they closed or gone? I couldn’t dig up their website.) This is A Lot of 50% alpaca, 25% merino and 25% silk, and I have no idea how I’m going to handle it.


By the way? It just occurred to me that once again, setting myself a crazy goal has changed my idea of what I’m capable of. At the beginning of the Tour I thought that 65g a day was going to be a very seriously big deal, and now here I am totally and completely thrilled about a goal of 98g per day and the only thing that changed was that I spent all day yesterday knowing that I had to do 132. Crazy.

Not my best colour

It turns out that earlier, when I was quipping about all this spinning for the Tour de Fleece giving me a limp, I wasn’t really fooling. What was a vague ache turned into a bona fide inability to lift my toes without a pain screeching up the front of my shin. It was a curious muscle pain in a place where frankly, I didn’t even know I had a muscle.

I really want to win the Maillot Jaune (Yellow Jersey) but I’m not quite masochistic enough to hurt myself to do it, and that means that I had to take a spinning break for a few days until it didn’t hurt anymore. (I figured that trying to explain to the my family that I was crippled up and unable to do stuff with them on account of a “hobby” was going to be another one of those moments where they looked at me like someone had better find a really gentle way of telling me it’s all gone too far again.) Luckily for me, this break coincided with the need to re-knit the Flow tank, so I was distracted. Yesterday afternoon my leg didn’t hurt at all, and I went back at it with a fury. (Well. A fury who doesn’t want to limp.)

I plied all the singles kicking around and spun some more and here’s what I’ve done.


That’s one of the beautiful Grafton Batts that I got at Rhinebeck a couple of years ago. I love these. The prep on them is outstanding. As my buddy Denny would say, you put one of these in front of the wheel and say “spin” and it just does it all by itself. Free flowing, delicious, soft and lovely. One of the things I love best about these colourways is that they are graduated, and if you spin to preserve that…


You get a singles that does that same thing. Now, I adore that (you can see the last time I tangled with one of these here) so I chain (or Navajo) plied these to preserve that same graduation.


This yarn is lovely. Exactly what I wanted, and I’m totally impressed with how much better a spinner I’ve become since the last time. 100g (I didn’t measure the yardage) of 3 ply gorgeousness.

Next up, a merino/tussah silk roving from The Fiber Factory in Arizona. (I think the colourway is “rose”)


This was dreamy too. The singles was pretty..


but the finished yarn is a beautifully subtle thing.


This ended up being spun very thin.. this 110g came out at 260m of beautiful two ply – and far less underspun than my last shot at two-ply.


This brings my grand total for the Tour de Fleece to 970g of fibre spun.. which is still (heavens help me) 530g short of my 1500g goal. Since the Tour ends on Sunday, that leaves me only four days to finish, and that means I would need to spin a rather whopping 132g a day to be done. That’s a lot. If I hadn’t lost the time to the wicked case of spinners limp I might be a contender, but now? Now I’m reminded of more of Denny’s immortal words.

“Never mind. You look like s**t in yellow anyway.”

Classic Plotline

I chugged away on that “flow” top yesterday determined to finish it before tonight. This is partly because I think that if you’re only going to make one summery knitted thing then you should wear it to a knitter thing and tonight is that gig at the Vaughan Library but my secondary motivation is that it would be a clean article of clothing and now that I’m this deep into the Tour de Fleece, it might be my only one.

This is a very simple knit. Very. The front and back are identical, it’s seamed at the shoulder and sides and there’s a reverse stockinette band round the neck and sleeves. Very simple. I I had the front (back?) done Wednesday night at knit night, and I cast on for the back (front?) and zoomed through. Last night I had only the armscye shaping and the neck to do, and considering how much yarn I had left and how I like my tops a little long, I opted to make the top longer than the pattern calls for by about 3cm (in the neighbourhood of an inch). I’d been leery to do that until I saw that there was tons of yarn to make that change, but there is. (The yarn is Berroco Seduce, and I bought all that there was in this dye lot when I was at WEBS. Usually I would buy an insurance skein, but there was only exactly six skeins there, so I was allocating carefully.)

As I sat there last night, I knew that this meant that I would need to rip back the finished front (back?) to the armscye and make it longer to match, but that didn’t bother me. I don’t mind a little of the old frog and tickle now and again, and I had time for a quick bit of a reknit. While I was knitting the armscye, I noticed that the decreases seemed to be taking a long time, and while I was puzzling over that I found an error in the pattern for the size 38. (At the armscye the pattern says you have 78 stitches, then you’re to decrease two stitches nine times and then have 58 stitches. Since I’m pretty sure that 9X2 is still 18 – not 20, that should read ten times, if you’re going to get 58 and have your ducks in a row for the neck shaping) and it occurred to me then, as I found and noted that error, that it was odd that I hadn’t noticed it when I knit the front. (back?)

This should have been a big moment. This should have tipped me off that something was not right. This should have been the moment in this story where, metaphorically speaking, the operator tells me that the calls I’ve been getting from this tank top all night are coming from inside the house- or the moment where the guy who’s been convinced that there’s a serial killer at the party finally loosens up and admits he was wrong, right when the rest of the partygoers see the serial killer over his shoulder? It should have been like that, but I was knitting and it’s a simple tank, and I told myself that the reason I didn’t notice the error when I knit the other part was because I just decreased however many times it took to get 58 and didn’t count, and since I am the queen of Didn’t-count-it-land, that made sense.


I finished the back (front?), set it aside, and then turned my attention to the front (back) so I could rip it back to the armscye, add the same amount of length so it matched the back and reknit the shapings. Easy and quick. While I ripped back I thought about how now I only had to do the seams (not so many) and the tiny bands (not so big) and I would be wearing this badboy tonight. I may have cackled – perhaps even gloated for a second. I wound the yarn back up, put the stitches back on the needle and gave them a quick count to make sure that I hadn’t ripped back too far. I got the wrong number of stitches. I counted again. It’s not my best skill, so troubles often disappear with a do-over.

Not this time. This time, I had ten stitches too few. I scratched my head, I puzzled over the pattern book, I looked for other errors. None. I examined my knitting for the place where I had made too many decreases – but I was bang on. I simply couldn’t figure out where I’d lost ten whole stitches… and then it came to me. Wednesday night I’d been puzzling over what size I had been knitting, and while laughing and drinking beer with my friends I’d worked out that I was making the third size and cast on. I remember that now because at least four of the people there chastised me for not circling my size on the pattern, or at least adding a post-it note or something. I realized, as I sat there with a finished back (front?) and a very nearly finished front (back?) that something may have been amiss there – that maybe I screwed up. Maybe the reason I didn’t notice the error for that size when I knit the first piece was that I didn’t knit that size. Maybe…. and I looked at it, and I knew it.

The two identical pieces of this sweater are not identical. A quick stitch count of the cast on edge of the first piece confirmed it. This sweater has only two pieces. The entire pattern consists only of knitting the same thing twice. Knit one, repeat. That’s it. It’s the whole thing. This pattern is – very correctly, I might add… rated “Easy” in the pattern book – and I have found the only real way to create an problem that can’t be fixed quickly. I’m furious. Furious that I saw all the signs and kept on knitting, furious that I didn’t count stitches back when it could have helped me. Furious that I wrote a blog post detailing my difficulty in casting on THE WRONG NUMBER OF STITCHES and didn’t notice… Furious that I only have one skein of yarn left – so that means that I can’t even reknit the piece that I have pulled back and make it as big as the finished piece, no no. I don’t have enough yarn for that. I have to finish the unfinished piece, then rip back the finished piece and reknit that. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. I am thinking about eating the remaining skein of yarn, calling it roughage and turning the back (front?) of this thing into a potscrubber and taking endless delight in watching bits of cheese and zucchini from last nights casserole get stuck in it before I go out to tonight’s gig braless and wearing a tank top out of Sam’s laundry basket that says “I dress this way because it bothers youl” on it. Screw it.

A half bag of stale salted almonds could knit better than me. I’m having chocolate for breakfast.

And now I have a limp

This was the weekend for catching up. Last week I took a serious look at where I was in the Tour de Fleece and I realized… It’s not good. I’m behind. Not a little behind, not slightly behind. Seriously behind. I’m the Wim Vansevenant of the Tour de Fleece. Wim is contending this year to be the first ever guy to be the Lanterne Rouge three times in the Tour de France – if he can maintain his position, that is. In the Tour, apparently it’s better to be dead last than second last. The last guy gets a title. He is the Lanterne Rouge. (I admit, part of the charm of this maybe that I quite like the idea of being the “Red Lantern”, perhaps because of some youthful association with “The Green Lantern- who has great jewellery and superpowers.) The second last guy? Nobody cares.

I love this idea. If you’re going to fail, darn it all, why not be the best failure you can be. Why be in the middle when you could be the very last guy in the peloton. Everybody remembers the extremes, and there’s really something to be said for hauling it up in last place without quitting. There’s a certain dignity in it – failure or not… but I figured (while realizing that I’m definttly in the running for the Lanterne Rouge) that there’s no dignity in failure without effort. It has to be an honest last place, not a deliberate one, and to that end, this weekend I spun my little heart out, though all I have to show for it is singles.

It is my understanding that it’s a good practice to let singles “rest” on the bobbin, at least overnight, before plying them, and I don’t mind that. Usually I spin the singles the day before, the ply in the morning and then start that day’s crop of singles. This time something happened, not sure what, but I just never got around to plying. There’s two bobbins of this,


a bobbin of that,


and a bobbin of something else.


Clearly I need to have a plying party, before I run out of bobbins. If I sit down and ply my little heart out I’ll be soundly rewarded with another huge leap forward in the game. Does anybody know why you should let singles rest? Does it make it easier to ply? What happens if you don’t? Is it too hard? Could I just be plying as I go with no rest phase? Who decides how long is long enough? Does everybody do this? A thousand questions…

All of which may have to wait to be answered, because I sure would like to wear that Flow tank top to the thing at the Vaughan Library tomorrow.. and I’ve got a bunch of it left to knit.

PS. As far as I know, there’s no baby for Megan yet.