That one took a while

Last night I had a really unusual experience, at least for me… and that was insomnia. A complete and total inability to fall asleep. I lay there, bored and furious, doing all of the things I’ve told my kids to try. Listening to my own breathing, counting by three… meditating. Nothing. Nada. Zip. The sandman cometh not.. and in fact I have my suspicions that the slacker was on a beach in Mexico whooping it up with a minty fresh mojito and a bag of ketchup chips. I finally dropped off at about 3am, only to wake up at 4 and repeat the process… finally crashing back out at 5:30 – only to drag my finally soundly sleeping arse out of bed at 7:30. I’ve had a murderous gleam in my eye since then. Insomnia is very rare for me. I’ve been trained by two decades of motherhood to take sleep where I can get it, and I usually drop off as quickly as the grades of a teenaged girl with her first real boyfriend. Last night though, I just couldn’t get there. I was too wound up to sleep, too tired to get up, and my fury built exponentially – especially since Joe was dead to the world, cozy and peaceful beside me. (I did not poke, disturb or wake him in any way, which I think is a testament to my maturity – especially considering how much I wanted to.)

I think it’s the number of balls I have in the air. I like all of them, and I’m not miserable by any stretch.. I’m excited and thrilled most of the time, but keeping my writing, the blog, a family, teaching, speaking and planning the Sock Summit all in the air at once isn’t exactly a state that’s conducive to sleepiness… and it finally caught up with me. It’s ironic too, because a smarter woman would totally have gotten up and worked on one of those things, or at least gotten up to knit, especially since knitting time has been in short supply. The Viper Pilot socks didn’t get finished for the finale of Battlestar Galactica (which I actually thought was a little disappointing, but I’m not sure how) but I do have one of them, and it’s darned nice. Very befitting a pilot of the Colonial Fleet… although I bet they have a pair.


Saturday I set the socks aside, because Sunday we were gathering as a family to celebrate our spring birthdays.


My nephew Hank is turning nine (and you can tell that his 3-D version of the Guinness Book of World Records was a big hit) and my sister… well. I think she’d appreciate it if I left her age out of it. Last year I started a sweater for her birthday but something happened and the sweater pissed me off, and not only was it not finished in time, but I set it aside for a whole year out of rage. A whole year. That year that it sat in knitterly purgatory (aka- the linen closet) really worked though, because as her birthday swung back around this year, I couldn’t remember what it had done to make me so frustrated that I couldn’t be bothered to finish it. I dug it out of the bag I’d had it jailed in, and took a look at what was left to be done.


It was mostly complete. All the parts were there, though not sewn together, and the collar only needed a few rows, and I sat down and finished it. Sewed it up, admired my work, looked at my zipper sitting there and remembered what my issue was. The Zipper. I hate putting zippers in knitting. I love how it looks, and I think it’s the most practical way to finish a lot of things, especially things for kids, or things that, like this sweater, would have the pattern disrupted by a row of buttons. I do think it’s really hard to sew something as non-stretchy as a zipper into something as stretchy as a piece of knitting, and I’ve had a lot of unhappy endings with zippers in general. It’s a whole other skill set, unrelated, I feel… to being a good knitter. It’s sewing, not knitting. Since I put this away though, I’ve had some limited zipper success, so I dove in. I basted the sweater front shut with a needle and thread, taking care to make sure the cables, top and bottom were lined up, then turned it inside out and pinned the zipper in from behind, taking care to line up the centre line of the zip with the centre “seam” of the sweater. When it was all pinned in, I pulled the basting out, unzipped the zipper, and sat down at the sewing machine.


After a false start in which I sewed one whole side in (removing pins as I went) and then realized that I wasn’t actually sewing because I hadn’t hooked up the machine right and had to do over the whole basting/pinning thing…(a thousand rat-eating curses) I think I got it. It’s not the most expert of zippers, and I wouldn’t want to enter it in a contest, but I think my sister liked it a lot.


At least part of her glee was probably just the thrill of seeing it finished. She had received a couple of pieces of it and some yarn last year… and for a non-knitter, that bag of hope + a whole year of time probably had meant that she didn’t really believe in the sweater anymore.


It fits her well, is just in time for the Toronto spring, where it’s too warm for a coat (not yet) and not warm enough for nothing. She showed up to yoga wearing it last night, so I don’t even think she was faking how much she liked it.


13 months in the making, I give you the Urban Aran – cardiganized. (Ravelry Link) Brooklyn Tweed was the first place I saw this sweater, which was a pullover in the Patons booklet “Street Smart” smartly divided up the middle to make it a really snazzy jacket. I used Araucania Nature Wool Chunky (colour 105) from The Purple Purl, and I think it was a great choice. Sturdy but soft, warm but not itchy. (Erin worries about the itchiness of wool – though does concede that the only itchy thing I have ever given her was acrylic. Ha.)


I think she loves it. Next year she gets a book.