Dear Everything

Dear Everything:

I believe that I have made my complete and total dedication to the schedule very clear. Please note that the schedule does not allow for unscheduled things… yeah verily, unscheduled things are the antithesis of the schedule.

Therefore, please consider this my formal request for the immediate cessation of all unscheduled entities. This includes, but is not limited to: dead batteries in the alarm clock leading to oversleeping (Me), doctor’s appointments for a sore toe (Sam), the necessity of 24 cupcakes to be produced by daybreak for the music council bake sale (Megan), editorial crisis (my editor), tax forms that are somewhere in the house but must be produced by 5:00 even though I am not the person who is in charge of tax forms (Joe), and indiscreet puddles of barf on carpet (mercifully – the Cat, although I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that one could have been much, much worse had it been produced by anyone else.)

Thank you,


(officially behind schedule)

Just don’t fight it

I knit holiday presents. Lots of them. I think they’re good presents and that my family likes it, in fact, many of them look forward to their yearly influx of woolly things. I know that there’s a growing movement out there to save sanity and time by not knitting presents, and I respect that. I really do. Knitting Christmas gifts is not a game for the faint of heart, and it’s not something that should be done willy nilly without consideration for some of the pitfalls. It is a lot of knitting and a real challenge, especially if, like me, you don’t do anything about this until mid-November. I have therefore prepared a collection of Things That Should Be Considered Before You Decide Knitting This Much Is Smart™.

1. Get yourself a list. I can’t stress the planning and neurotic oversight enough. There must be a list. The list must be carefully considered. The list must be constructed weeks in advance when there is no pressure or panic. The list must be revered. My list contained 15 items to be knit before Christmas. The list is now sealed. Nothing will be added to the list during the execution phase, for that way lies madness.

2. Do not put people on the list who do not like your knitting, use your knitting or have dissed your knitting in any way in the past. This includes people who have said that your stuff looks good enough that “you could have bought it”, People who have said that they “bought a scarf just like it” as well as people who say they love your knitting, but have never worn it even once. They are not knit appreciators, and the knits shall not be bestowed upon them.

3. Do not use your knits to try and convince people of the power of the knit. If they do not like knitting and have underappreciated knitting in the past, knitting them more and better things is not smart. I can’t stress that enough. I know it’s hard to believe, but some people just don’t like knitted stuff and giving them more won’t change that. Think of knits like brussels sprouts. Some people love them, some people don’t but inviting someone to dinner and serving up a whole meal of them after your guest said that they think they’re gross is insensitive at best. Buy those people something else. Let go. There are just some poor people in the world who don’t think knitted stuff is nice. (Admittedly, I still have to work on not thinking of them as damaged and confused people, but I do respect them.)

4. Be honest. If you have only ever managed to knit a third of a sock in a day and you’ve got nine pairs of socks on your list, you just have to grow a brain. You’re not going to make it, you’re going to feel bad and you’re going to end up in the mall freaking out trying to find something as good as a pair of handknit socks (and there is nothing as good as handknit socks) at the last minute while feeling crappy about yourself. Take a reality pill. Look at the list. Ask yourself what the odds are that you are suddenly, in a busy season full of many other responsibilities, going to miraculously triple or quadruple the amount of knitting that you do. Then take people off the list and put them at the top of next years list.

5. If you are not the sort of person who can’t function on less than 8 hours of sleep, this may be a game that makes you cry really hard sometime around the 22nd of December when it’s crunch time.

6. If you are the sort of person who gets a cramp when you hear the words “crunch time”, you should be at the mall.

7. If you are the sort of person who is going to be really, really , really hurt if your presents are not received with the complete amount of enthusiasm with which they were knit, you should probably not take the risk.. and you should definitely not knit for anyone under 16.

8. Have you ever insisted to someone that you were not at all competitive while they rolled around on the floor convulsed with helpless laughter? (Double points if you then insisted that you were the “least competitive person in the world” – since that’s sort of competing to be not-competitive which is really funny. ) If so, a race against time may be fun for your sort of temperament.

9. Do you drink? (I actually don’t know if that’s vital, I just can’t imagine doing it without a little nog to take the edge off.)

10. Make a schedule. This much knitting in the month of December is something I can’t manage without an over-controlling, all-powerful, omnipotent schedule. Left to my own devices, I flip out, panic and start thrashing around. For years now my schedule has been made by my friend Lene -who frankly really has a gift for being over-controlling, all-powerful and omnipotent, and would really be happiest if she were in charge of everything. (The scary thing is that if Lene were actually in charge of the world – it would all be sorted by tea-time. A little cluttered maybe.. but sorted.) I tell Lene what I have to knit and by when, and provide her with a list of all the other things I have to get done and because Lene used to knit, she can totally put it all together into a schedule that makes sense. A schedule where I’m knitting plain socks at a concert because Lene knows that I can knit plain socks in the dark. The beauty of the schedule (which includes baking, knitting, cleaning and other seasonal chores) is that if I do as I am told… if I follow Lene’s word as though it were law – If I get up every morning and look at the schedule and do what it says on the schedule and only do what it says on the schedule, then – get this.

I will finish everything on time.

It’s like a Christmas miracle every year. Following Lene’s schedule, here is the last couple of days here, as represented through knitwear.

This yarn, Corridale from Lyman’s Sleigh Bell Farm


became this hat. (Pattern mine. 2×2 rib over 100 stitches for a long time. Decrease. Stop knitting.)


The leftovers from the hat got combined with a little skein of handspun made from a Sanguine Gryphon batt.


and turned into the Star Tam from Homespun, Handknit.



This pretty ball of Madeleinetosh Hand Dyed Sock in Glacier


became this whole sock . (That’s the Earl Grey pattern, and the good thing about knitting it again is that it gives me a chance to proof it for a pdf. and that’s a good thing.)


Finally, the sailor’s rib socks (my plain vanilla pattern with sailors rib jammed on it) out of the Shibui Sock (in bark) are all done too.



See? No problems. I do what the schedule says and whammo. Christmas. All knit up. All I have to do is surrender all control for every moment of my entire existence and I won’t have any trouble. All control. All the time. Surrendered.

No problem.

(For crying out loud. Stop that laughing and get off the floor. I can do it.)

Much Better

The top ten reasons I am much happier.

10. I put the largest possible tree that would fit in my house.


9. That rather big glass of wine can’t hurt.

8. Christmas knitting, on the needles and off the needles, as per Lene’s schedule. Right on target. (Admittedly, it’s only day one, but I’ll take my successes where I can get them.)

7. Erin told me that my nephew Hank is definitely old enough to appreciate getting a knitted thing for Christmas. (This means that he passed through the “knitted presents are sort of lame in a world that contains a Wii” phase very, very quickly.)

6. I finished socks and a hat over the weekend. Pictures to come, but I love them.

5. I forgot about this Sockumentary, made back when we were doing the sock scavenger hunt all over Toronto. It’s genius, and it makes me happy all over.

4. Kim got David Suzuki to hold a sock. (I just donated to MSF again because — well, frankly I love David Suzuki so much that this picture turns every crank I’ve got.)


My mum has an actual real live crush on him, so I expect she’ll freak right out, and if you knew my mother, you’d know how hard that is to achieve. Kim – Excellent job.

3. I made really excellent bread.

2. I got a whole bunch of emails and comments from really decent people making really excellent points.

1. I hardly have time to blog because of the BIG PILE OF MONEY THAT KNITTERS DONATED to MSF. Seriously. Check out the sidebar, and know that I’m putting the total up again tomorrow, and that I’ll be giving karmic balancing gifts out this week too, and that once again I’m blown away by what I’m seeing all of you do.

It’s enough to make a knitter weep with Joy. Which I did. You guys are awesome. Changing the world. How about that.

In which I realize what to do

This Christmas is proving to be a difficult one for me. Joe told me this morning that I am both sensitive and resistant to change, and he’s right. I notice everything and then take it all way, way too hard, and then, once I’m upset, I start looking for corroborating evidence for my thesis (because not only am I sensitive and resistant to change, I also like to be right) so that I can prove, to anyone who might be trying to cheer me up, that all is lost and things are hopeless. I usually wind up this sort of thing with a rousing game of “and if you’re happy, you just don’t understand what’s happening and you’re all in on the plan to ruin Christmas.”

This is not my best trait.

Usually my best trait is my enthusiasm and stick-to-it-iveness, and I’m proud of that. I can really get behind an idea and stay behind an idea, no matter what it is or how absolutely stark raving mad it is, and I think what I’m feeling this year is some sort of perversion of that, where I’ve managed to really get myself behind the idea that Christmas (and I know this is a rather vague sort of complaint) “isn’t working.” It’s true that this Christmas is going to have challenges. I’ve never really adjusted to the loss of Janine at this time of year, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do when the whole family doesn’t go to my Aunt Helen and Uncle Don’s for Boxing Day for the first time in my life. Amanda moved out (though I’m sure she’ll come home for Christmas… right?) We had to cancel our annual Gingerbread party due to scheduling problems, and my brother has (hopefully temporarily) separated from his wife…whom I adore and feel the absence of rather keenly. (There’s also the fact that this makes my brother a pretty miserable guy at present, which I respect – poor buddy, but it brings down the Christmas cheer level substantially.) To top it all off, this is the year that Joe’s parents are making a wonderful trip to Spain to visit Joe’s sister Kate (she lives in Spain) which you can hardly begrudge them for a second… but that means they’re gone for the holidays too.

All of this together has me moaning around, whinging about our crappy Christmas and how every thing’s changed and too many people are dead or gone, and all of my attempts to connect with the parts of Christmas that really do it for me, like family and friends and all of the traditions I adore are totally arsed, and being one big misery case until this morning, when I realized that I have got to get a hold of myself because I’m pretty much guaranteeing that I’ll suck what joy there is for me to find in this Christmas right out of the world of possibility and there won’t be anybody to blame for that except for me, a big whiny, ungrateful, overly sensitive crybaby, and frankly, I hate people like that. I really do.

I got to thinking this morning that there has got to be a way for me to find the joy in this season again. That I have got to put on my big-girl panties and pull myself together. I thought not just about the traditions that aren’t going to be possible this year, but about the chance to really enjoy the ones that remain, and to embrace and generate new ones to replace the ones… like Boxing Day with Aunt Helen, that really aren’t ever coming back. The world turns, I’m on it. I should try harder. Change is inevitable. I thought all of that in the dark – because frankly, in Canada right now it feels like it’s dark all the time, and that reminded me of this post- The Return of the Light, and I started thinking that other than the feeling I have when I am surrounded by my family during the holidays, the Knitters Without Borders work has filled me with a joy that is almost unsurpassed. The feeling I get as yet another knitter drops an email in my box that says “I’m really broke, but I’m grateful anyway. I found a few dollars and I gave.” lifts my heart up. Another knitter. Another, and another – I’ve never not been entirely awestruck by how much knitters will do, understanding as we do that a whole monumental effort is made up of one simple thing… repeated many, many, many times.

Knitters, in my experience, are not an easily defeated bunch. Tasks that would daunt other mortals look like child’s play to us, because we’ve learned from knitting that accomplishing big things isn’t really all that hard. You just have to stick to it. One stitch is small. One stitch is almost nothing. One stitch is hardly worth doing… unless you put it with hundreds, and then thousands and then tens of thousands of others.

Knitters know this without being told, and this is what makes Knitters Without Borders a force to be reckoned with.

Starting today I’m going to begin re-updating the total – and brace yourself. Dudes. We’re going to do it again. Bigger. Better. More karmic balancing gifts. More changing the world. The world needs us, MSF needs us, and we’re the best people to do it. One stitch at a time.

The instructions in the Return of the Light post still work. Let’s make a little more history.

PS: Still working on the beautiful brown socks, which are a cobbled together pattern of my own, created by ramming the traditional “sailors rib” onto my plain vanilla sock recipe (in this book, thanks for asking) and Shibui Sock yarn in the elegantly named colour ” 7533″.


I’m thinking of calling it something else in my head – like Mocha-Swirl or Bittersweet Chocolate. (This is likely why my job is not naming yarns.)


Oh. Wait. I just checked the Loopy Ewe page while I was adding the link, and apparently it’s called “Bark.” Fair enough. Much better.

PSS: I’m still working on a hat too, seen here in the light of the setting sun. At 4:00. I told you about the dark:


100 stitches on a 4.5mm needle, round and round in 2×2 rib. I’m knitting it with some beautiful Corridale from Lyman’s Sleigh Bell Farm, bought two Rhinebecks ago. It’s lovely stuff, and the knitting of it is remarkably restful and calming, which is probably safer for everyone.

PSSS: I’m starting to feel badly for mentioning it, but the final round of the Canadian Blog Awards is winding up tomorrow, and if, after you see my competition you think I deserve your vote, I’d love to have it. I’m nominated in two categories, Best blog here and Best Activities blog here … and while you’re there, Lene’s nominated for best Disability blog here, Knitnut’s up for best local blog here and best Local blog here (us knitters gotta stick together.) Happy voting, and thanks for even considering it.

PSSSS: Today’s gift for knitters? These knitting paintings (if you’ve got the coin.) Thanks for the link Lene.

53 Days

The Governor General (and I really am glad I’m not her) decided this morning after an unprecedented 2 hour meeting with the Prime Minister, to prorogue parliament, without any limits, for 53 days.

I was going to make a chipper return to knitblogging today, but instead I’m going to take a break until tomorrow and knit my nice little hat, and my really beautiful socks,


(See? Aren’t they nice? Don’t you feel better looking at the wool?) and I’m going to thank Meredith for my new favourite phrase that sums up how I feel about this whole thing really nicely. I think I have “rage fatigue”.

I don’t know if the Governor General did the right thing, I know she did a legal thing and that she was likely very well advised by persons of greater experience and education than myself. I don’t know what the Prime Minister will do with his 53 days, or what the opposition will do with theirs, but I do have some very strong feelings about the precedent set by allowing a public official to avoid our duly elected MPs for that time. I’m not a Conservative – or a Liberal for that matter… but I am a very strong believer in the concept of “responsible government”, which is the cornerstone of our system, and is the idea that the government is responsible to Parliament, and I’m not sure how I can translate what’s happening now… where Parliament has been prorogued and the doors locked so that a Prime Minister doesn’t have to be responsible for his decisions to the house. One would hope that the man was strong enough in his convictions that he wouldn’t play with the concept of responsible government, and who knows, he will have to face them in the end. He’s an educated and intelligent man (just because I don’t agree with him doesn’t mean I hate him) who does head a minority government that was legally elected, so he’s certainly within his rights to ask for it. Joe points out, and he is right, that taking a thoughtful break for intelligent reflection until cooler heads can prevail is certainly very Canadian.

I hope that they all return in 53 days with a plan that reflects a new spirit of compromise, concession and noble behaviour. I know that I am not the only Canadian who will be devastated if this 53 days is used for further hurtful, divisive, attacks and campaigns, particularly the ones we’ve seen directed at the province of Quebec and the citizens of Canada who live there.

Peace out. Knit on.

What is happening in Canada

From reading the comments yesterday and today, it’s pretty obvious that there is confusion over what’s happening in Canada’s government. This is a primer for non-Canadians (and some Canadians) about this mess. If you didn’t care about this yesterday and you still don’t care about it today, know that I am knitting a very beautiful brown sock and a great brown hat and this blog will maybe be interesting to you again tomorrow. (Or maybe not, since I don’t know if I can count on a brown sock and a brown hat to put the zip into it.)


The first thing you need to know is that Canada has a parliamentary democracy, and that we are a Constitutional Monarchy. This is a very, very different system than the US uses, and it allows for a lot of interesting political variation. The most significant to the majority of my readers will likely be that our head of Government (The Prime Minister) is not the same person as the head of state (The Governor General). The Governor General is the Queen’s representative in Canada, and plays an important role. (She’s also the Commander-in-Cheif of the Canadian Forces.) In addition, we vote for parties not individuals. (Edited to add: There’s been some debate about this in the comments, and as usual, the commentors are right and I was unclear. When I say this, I mean that we do NOT vote for a Prime Minister in an election. We vote for the person at our local level, they represent a party, and then the party’s leader becomes Prime Minister. Clearer?) We vote at the local level and elect a Member of Parliament, and the party that gets the most MPs wins, and the leader of that party becomes Prime Minister. (Yup, that means that if the party choses a new leader while they are in power, we get a new Prime Minister without an election. It happens.) Because we have several valid, effective parties, the vote is split into several pieces, usually five. The Conservatives (Canada’s “right” although not as far right as Republicans.) The Liberals (Canada’s centre/but left leaning party) The New Democratic Party or NDP (The left) The Bloc (a Quebec Party that only operates in Quebec. They’re allegedly “separatists” but it’s been a while since that had a lot of momentum. They’re left of centre.) And the Green Party (left of centre as well.)

Excellent. So an election is called (more about that later) and we all go vote (or most of us go vote. Shame on the rest of you, and I hope you aren’t bothering to bitch right now. You gave up that right when you couldn’t be arsed to go to the poll.) Now, one party will get more MPs elected than the others. That party will form the government and the Governor General will appoint it’s leader our Prime Minister. The runner up forms “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.” and everyone else forms the opposition and everyone goes to the house of Parliament and all the MPs sit in the house and vote on stuff, and for a motion to pass the majority of the MPs need to agree it’s a good idea.

If the winning party has enough MPs that they can pass stuff without help from any opposition MPs, then they have “a majority government”. These governments tend to be very stable. If the winning party has enough MPs elected that they need the co-operation of an opposing party to get things passed… they are said to have a minority government, and those tend to be unstable, and the Prime Minister of a minority government needs to operate in a more co-operatie spirit, or he/she won’t be able to get much done. In either case, the Prime Minister remains Prime Minister until one of 5 things happen.

– Five years are up.

– Their party decides they shouldn’t be leader anymore.

– They die.

-They go to the Governor General and ask her to call an election.

-They lose the confidence of the house.

We are largely concerned with the last thing on that list. This is an important part.

If the government (majority or minority, though you can see how it’s more likely to happen with a minority) tries to pass something that is a sort of a motion that has “a confidence motion” attached to it, and they lose that motion, then they are said to have “lost the confidence of the house”, which means “the majority of MPs, and therefore Canadians, think that you’re not doing a good job, and we have no faith that you’ll improve. We want someone else.” At this point, the Prime Minister goes to the Governor General, tells her that he’s lost the confidence of the house and asks her (usually) to prorogue (suspend) parliament and call an election, which must happen within 8 weeks. Some important things, like how the government spends money, or how they use the Canadian Forces, are automatically “confidence motions”, but (and this is so important to the rest of this) a confidence motion can be attached to any other motion.

Our current Prime Minister is Stephen Harper. He’s a conservative, and he’s been Prime Minister since his party won a minority government in February of 2006. The Honourable Prime Minister has taken an unusual approach to running said minority. Instead of operating in a co-operative spirit, the Prime Minister has been rather aggressive, and instead of moderating his motions to the point where the opposition might vote for them anyway, he has instead taken to attaching a confidence motion to just about everything. This means that every time the house votes, they can either vote with him, or force an election. All last year, this strategy worked beautifully. The opposing parties (particularly the Liberals, who were having leadership troubles) didn’t want an election. Forcing the opposition to choose between forcing an election and agreeing with him rammed through a lot of legislation, but bred a lot of contempt. (Depending on whether you are a conservative or not, this strategy has alternately been called “being an aggressive parliamentarian who makes the most of the system” or “being a big fat bully”.)

On September 7, 2008 the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to call a federal election, saying that there was no spirit of co-operation in the house (which is true, although debate rages about who’s fault that is.) He won a second minority in October (vs his hoped for majority) but spoke of a renewed sprit of co-operation and productivity. Last week, immediately following the resumption of parliament, he reverted to his same strategy, and put forth an “economic strategy” which included, among other things, the removal of federal election subsidies to all parties. This would have effectively hobbled the oppositions ability to campaign, and guaranteed that they would be unable to oppose him in parliament, since they wouldn’t have the money to launch campaigns.

There’s a lot of debate over whether or not this was ethical. The Prime Minister made this a confidence motion, essentially saying (to put it mildly) to the opposition “either do it my way, or we’ll have another election, which you will lose, will piss Canadians off, and will cost the country another $300 million dollars.” ($300 million is the cost to the government of an election.)

The opposition cried foul. Not just because they were unhappy with the funding cuts, but because they claimed that the Government was not responding properly to the economic crisis by failing to provide (among other things) an economic stimulus package, and because they realized that Mr. Harper clearly intended to continue to govern by hanging the threat of an election over their heads every time he wanted a motion to pass. They said they had had enough and would vote against his motion, therefore causing him to lose the confidence of the house.

Mr. Harper responded to this by removing the funding cut, but the opposition did not back down, saying that their other problem had been the lack of response to the economic crisis, and that it still was. At this time, it is supposed that Harper, knowing that the Liberals (who lost badly in the last election and have leadership problems) were not only unwilling, but likely unable to manage an election, rolled the dice, believing that he had the other parties on the ropes, and stuck to his guns.

Meanwhile, the other parties formed a coalition… a combination party consisting of the Liberal party and the NDP (supported by unofficial members – the Bloc and the Green Party). Together, this constitutes every MP in the house who is not a conservative, and represents two thirds of Canadians. This coalition went to the Prime Minister and told him that he had “lost the confidence of the house” and that they were willing and ready to form an alternative government.

Re-enter the Governor General. The role of the Governor General is to appoint a Prime Minister, dismiss a Prime Minister, to prorogue (suspend) parliament, to call the house to the hill, or to dissolve parliament. She has the constitutional right to override the Prime Minister (although traditionally, she doesn’t) and within the confines of the Constitution, she acts in the best interests of Canada as she sees them. For example, if a Prime Minister wanted to prorogue parliament, she could say “No. I don’t think that’s right.” or if a Prime Minister asked her to call an election, technically she could refuse, or (and this is the important bit) she can ask a party from the opposition if they will form another government, should she believe this is a better choice.

What’s relevant here, is that The Prime Minister essentially has two choices at this point. One way or another, he cannot continue to be Prime Minister, at least not without another election. He does not have the confidence of the house, and the rules of parliamentary democracy say that he’s cooked without it. His choices are to either go to the Governor General – Madame Jean, and tell her he quits and ask her for the next step, or he can wait until there’s a vote on something – anything, at which point the opposition will attach a vote of confidence to it, and his government will fall, thus automatically turning the next step over to the Governor General.

When a party does not have the confidence of the house, the Governor General has two choices. She can call an election and we’ll all vote again… or she can, under the constitution, ask the opposition if they are ready, willing and able to form government. Obviously, if the opposition held few seats or was ineffectual, she wouldn’t bother, since Canada would soon land in the same boat, when the new house couldn’t agree on squat. It is not her job to do the bidding of the Prime Minister, it is her mandate to protect Parliamentary Democracy. Triggering another election mere months after the last one isn’t good for democracy (because nothing can get done) and selecting a powerless alternative government also sucks (because nothing can get done.)

As the opposition (all of it. Every MP) has agreed to work together if they form the alternative, she can be reasonably sure that they will form an effective government, one that (at least theoretically) represents more Canadians than the current Conservative government, it is possible (we don’t know if we can go so far as to say “likely” that this is what she will do.) The new coalition party will rule, and the Conservatives would become the opposition. Deep breath.

Obviously, the Prime Minister thinks that this is a pretty bad idea, and he is wigging out, mostly because of three things.

1. He doesn’t want to lose his job. (Totally understandable.)

2. He says it is undemocratic. Many conservatives have called this a “coup” or “overthrowing the government” and have implied or claimed outright that it is illegal.

3. He claims that it is especially wrong because it includes the Bloc, a Quebec only party, claiming that it is a “betrayal of the best interests of our country.”

There are several things wrong with that.

1. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t want to lose my job either. Fair enough. You can’t pick on the guy for that.

2. It isn’t undemocratic. It is perfectly legal, has precedent in this country, has worked well in other countries with a Parliamentary Democracy and is a proper application of the principles and laws of that system. In fact, the current Prime Minister himself suggested the exact same thing to the Governor General in 2004, when he was the opposition. (There’s a copy of his letter here.) He obviously didn’t feel that it was an “undemocratic seizure of power” then, or a “betrayal” then… and it isn’t now. He just doesn’t like it and … well. See #1.

3. The Bloc is NOT part of the coalition. They support it, they like it, but they are not a signatory. They will have power under the coalition, but, as many Canadians like to forget when we talk about the Bloc, they do represent an entire, enormous province of Canadians who’s participation in parliament is appropriate and daily. Also, if you read that letter above, where Mr. Harper himself suggests forming an alternative government, you will note that he said himself that he would form it with The Bloc. If he was willing to align the Conservative party with The Bloc, then the Liberals aligning themselves with The Bloc can hardly be the mark of Satan upon them. He’s just upset. See #1.

Where we are now, is that The Governor General is flying home (she was on a State visit to Europe) to deal with all this, and nobody knows what she will do. She must act within the confines of the constitution, and in the best interests of Canada as she sees them. Apparently, Mr. Harper, looking to avoid the official vote of confidence on Monday, is going to ask her to prorogue (suspend without dissolving) parliament until January, so that he can have more time to fix this up, or come up with an economic strategy that won’t get voted down. This suggestion enrages a lot of Canadians, who are trying to figure out how the Prime Minister can believe that the best thing to do in the middle of an economic crisis is to not only fail to come out with a plan for it, but to then compound the trouble by having no parliament in session during said crisis. On the other hand, this suggestion thrills other Canadians who don’t want to see this Government defeated. The Prime Minister will go to Madame Jean, the Governor General, and ask her to do…. well. We think it will be the prorogue thing, but he’s a hard man to predict, and Madame Jean will pull the plug on parliament or not, call an election or not, appoint an alternative government or not. Usually a Governor General grant the wishes of the Prime Minister, but the question she faces, is “Is that reasonable if a Prime Ministers motivation is to avoid a legal vote?”

It all rests in the hands of one woman. Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

Dudes. I love this country.

Gifts for Knitters: The First

Dear Non-Knitters who need to buy a present for a knitter sometime soon:

I am a knitter. I’ve been a knitter for a long time. I’ve gotten a lot of gifts, knitterly and no, from non-knitters at the holidays, and I thought that I might take a couple of posts this year to help you choose a gift for your knitter that they might really love. I know that misconceptions about knitters abound, and that the ways peculiar to our breed might seem odd to the uninitiated, and that this confusion can lead sensible and loving people to do desperate things when it comes to gift giving. (Desperate things like novelty waffle irons. Just saying.) I’m hoping to providing a little guidance by giving you some ideas for things that your knitter might love to receive this year, and grant you superhuman status, scoring you some knitting street cred (and maybe another pair of socks). A knitters undying love and gratitude is a wonderful thing to have. Remember that although I’m going to make some suggestions about what your knitter might like to have as a gift, one of the things that makes us hard to shop for is that we all have different likes and dislikes. There’s very little I can suggest to you that will be a guaranteed score, although I urge you to remember that a fourth bathrobe is probably not a great solution to that either. To guide you in your shopping, I want you to know that if you find this (or a future post) printed out and left lying about the kitchen (and the living room, and the bathroom, and the bedroom), that this would be a pretty good indicator that your knitter might be trying to tell you something.

Knitting is a craft, and your knitter is a craftsperson. Buying them really, really beautiful tools is like buying a woodworker a really, really excellent saw. Beautiful swifts, ball winders, needles and such are always good. To that end, boy, do I have one for you.


Signature needles. These needles are, for knitters, like a car person getting a Ferrari, or a cook investing in a set of Henckels knives. A pair made the rounds at Knit-night a while ago and we all boggled. They are so well made that frankly, I’m surprised that they don’t keep knitting by themselves for a while after I put them down. These needles are expensive compared to other needles, but they are extraordinarily well made, hand-crafted, hand polished tools. (They’re made at a machine shop where the president is a knitter.) These needles come custom made, the length your knitter likes, with a cap your knitter likes, and (be still my heart) a tip your knitter likes. (I have a pair with the stiletto point, which is supremely pointy. It’s also likely dangerous, so if you have a knitter who likes to leave socks-in-progress on the couch, you might want to think about your personal safety on that one, and think about getting the “middy” or the “blunt”.)

The dpn’s (double pointed needles) have a microscopically ribbed shaft (get your mind out of the gutter) and while the yarn slides smoothly across them, this provides a tiny bit of traction, keeping the needles from slipping free of the work the way that they do on ordinary metal needles. The straight needles – the ones that I adore more than I can tell you, are slick like an expert car salesman. I won’t kid you. These needles are a luxury item, straight up. They cost a lot more than regular needles, but they act like it. If your knitter is serious about knitting, if they spend a lot of time at it, and if they love metal needles, these are going to thrill them the way that an unlimited text message package flips out a 15 year old girl. There’s just nothing like working with a beautiful tool like this for the serious knitter. The beauty of these needles is that they’re made to reflect the knitter intimately, so if I were going to buy them as a gift, I’d leave the computer open to this page, and let my knitter work out a wishlist. I think they’re too personal (and expensive) to just take a shot. When I’m knitting with these, I feel like I’m taking what I do seriously, and I can’t say enough about the vibe. (I’m sort of hoping Joe reads this, since I’d really love another pair or two of these, and the price tag makes it hard for me to justify buying them for myself, no matter how seriously I take knitting. I think that’s one of the reasons that these would make such a great gift. It’s decadent.)

Note to knitters: I know this reads a bit like an advertisement, and I guess it sort of accidentally is – although if it were a real ad I suppose I would be paid to write it. I was just totally surprised by the love that sprang up unbidden for these needles. I hate finding out that expensive things sometimes really are much better than their cheaper mates. Generally speaking, there’s no point in developing champagne taste if you have a beer pocket, and test driving a Rolls Royce only makes you feel worse about your old clunker, so I usually avoid high end products on the theory that you can’t miss what you don’t know. These broke me. I’m going to keep right on loving my ordinary everyday needles, they’ve served me well and make things just as well as the Signature needles do, just the same way that you can cook a really awesome dinner that tastes great, no matter what your cookware is like… but just like having other beautiful things to work with, these needles are a real pleasure – and I suppose that compared to the price of yarn (and considering that they don’t get used up like yarn) maybe I’ll start a gradual replacement plan.

Not all knitters will like these needles. (It was hard for me to write that.) If your knitter prefers circular needles (the ones that look like two little needles joined by a cable) exclusively, these might not be for them. I think they could make converts out of anyone else though.

Darned nice.

(PS. I gave up and asked Lene to make me a knitting schedule for the holidays. There’s confidence, and then there’s failing to understand the daunting nature of a task.)

(PPS. Thanks to all of you, this blog made it through the first round of voting for Canada’s best blog, and Canada’s best activities blog. Round two has commenced. Thanks so very much for not letting me get my arse kicked. It’s lovely.)

(PPPS: If you’re Canadian, WOW. Can you even believe what’s going on? I’m flipping.)


I’m trying something new this year. Every year I worry about the Christmas stuff, and I try not to invite the planet to smack me for having confidence. I say “I hope I make it” and “Gee, it’s going to be tough but I’m giving it a shot.” and every year I get smacked anyway. The planet apparently hates a woosie-pants who doesn’t have confidence. This year, my approach is going to be something else. This year, I’m putting it out there. I HAVE Christmas under control. I AM going to finish. It IS going to be something I get licked. The Christmas knitting IS NOT going to get the better of me this year. I repeat, I have it licked. I know that some of you think that this is inviting an arse-kicking, but considering that I get my arse kicked every year anyway, I figure that I might as well dwell in the happy place of delusion for as long as I can. To that end, I am still whipping out the knits in a knit-fate defying way.

See this?


A full pair of socks. Done. Off the list. A full pair of socks in only a couple of days. Hear that Knit-fates? See that? A whole pair of socks for Christmas and they are done and I put them on the pile with all those scarves and there is nothing you can do to undo them.


Yarn is “Muddy Autumn Rainbow” an exclusive STR sock club colour, Pattern “Holidazed” from Anne Hanson, also a STR sock club pattern. (It’ll be available to the rest of the world next year. For now, it’s sock club only.)


They’re a little big for me, which is perfect since they aren’t for me, although I love these enough that I’m bummed about that. One gift down – but wait! There’s more! (Anybody else hear “it slices, it dices….” in the back of their head?)

I bought Laura’s Just Enough Ruffles Scarf, and whammo! In the span of just a weekend…


(Quote from the photoshoot “Sam, try to smile like you don’t resent your mother”. Sam’s answer?

“But I do resent my mother.” Ahh, the joys of parenting teens. At least she’s honest.)


Pattern: Just enough Ruffles, yarn, Beroco “Cuzco” 2 skeins in “Quenko Sky”, though I didn’t buy enough (simple math failure on my part, not a problem with the pattern) and needed to add another yarn for the INDETERMINABLE last few rows and cast off. I used Lorna’s laces Shepherd Sock, in “Quadra Island” held double. It’s a perfect match.


I’m supremely happy with it, and even happier that something else is off the list. See that knitting fates? ANOTHER ONE off the list and there’s nothing you can do about it. Nothing. No matter what happens after this, you can’t take the glory of this moment away. I’ve tried “not tempting fate” by cow-towing to your vindictive nature, I’ve tried not inviting your festive abuse in the past because you can’t resist the smackdown, you immature and small minded holiday-achievement-haters. I’ve tried putting my expectations in the dumper and saying that I’ll just do the best I can to avoid you seeking acrimonious revenge on me for my haughtiness – but this year? This year I’m not buying it. I know that I made a whole bunch of people nervous in my last post when I said “I have this Christmas thing SO licked” but what they don’t understand is that I’ve tried to please you, I’ve tried to fly under the radar and not one year have you allowed me to finish my gifts on time – even though I’ve totally played it your way.

This year? This year I am going to drown you in my confidence. This year-you can bite me.

(Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to go make sure that my box of ornaments didn’t just implode in the basement. I’m cocky, not stupid.)