Just a little game I play

I am starting to think that I write these to-do lists because I am deliberately attempting to lower my own self-esteem by coming up short every day. I mean, what in wool’s name provokes me to make them so unreasonable. Tomorrow I’m going to make one that has things on it like:

1. Drink coffee

2. Go to the bathroom at least once.

3. Eat.

4. Feel like I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to parenting teenagers.

5. Ignore ring in bathtub, claiming that I have no idea what could cause such a thing, and claiming ignorance of solution.

6. Knit.

7. Ignore ringing phone because I am dealing with whatever the last ringing phone set me on.

8. Convince self that I am wearing same tee-shirt three days in a row not because I am trying to save laundry time, but because it is my “look”.

9. Order pizza.

10. Look at some yarn.

That list wouldn’t get me any closer to a finished Sock Summit, a finished book or putting my arse out the door for a little book tour, but at least I would get the satisfaction of actually crossing things off. Can you imagine. Eat. DONE. Look at yarn. DONE. Ignore phone. DONE. By the end of the day I would be rocking it out. Feeling like a million bucks. I could get that list done, my friends, and that night when I lay in bed thinking about it, I would be a winner.

I wouldn’t have to think about the fact that I can’t show you my new sweater because I couldn’t find a bra this morning before all the photographers left. I wouldn’t have to show you this shawl that I was sure would be finished…


Miralda, from Knitted Lace of Estonia, going well but still not DONE.


and I wouldn’t have to be two days away from walking out the door with a list that never changes from day to day. Doesn’t matter what I do, same number of things on it. No sir. Tomorrow I’m putting “chastise the cat” and “think about having some juice” on the list…because I’m a winner, darn it, and some things just need to be done.

Efficient Intent

I mean for many things to go well this week. (Stop that laughing. I have things go well all the time. Especially if they are not knitting.) I’m starting another busy time, and I’m making a little list of things to be done before I start my sprints again. (Man. I just got a little nauseous there.)

1. Finish the sweater so that I have something new and knitty to wear in Florida and Alabama this weekend.


(This is actually done, but the sweater is damp and finishing blocking and until it’s blocked it doesn’t count as finished because I can’t wear it. Still, the odds that it will dry before Friday are fairly good, assuming that Toronto gives it up with it’s impression of a city with a monsoon season. )

2. Work hard on ignoring the fact that while it is still really sweater weather here, I’m pretty sure that Florida and Alabama are past wool at this stage. I am wearing the new sweater. It is my plan. I have even imagined a little thing in my head where I think “shall I bring my coat to Florida and Alabama?” and the voice in my head answers and says “No, I’m sure it’s spring there. Just bring the sweater.”

3. Post details of tour on this page because people are saying that they can’t see the new schedule on the tour page. (It’s really there. Try clearing your cache and looking again. I promise that it’s not possible for me to post it for some people and not for others. It is there.) In the meantime, while (like me) you have to find out what a cache is and how to clear it, here it is:

May 16 – Vero Beach, FLA. 11-1, Vero Beach Books, “Coffee with Stephanie”, Vero Beach Books Center, 2145 Indian River Blvd, Vero Beach, FL 32960

May 17 – Atlanta 1:00 p.m. FoxTale Books. Event location: Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency (CRPA) 7545 Main Street, Bldg. 200, Woodstock, GA 30188. (A $15 ticket includes admission to the event as well as $10 in coupons redeemable at FoxTale Book Shoppe and The Whole Nine Yards, a yarn store next to the bookstore.)

May 19 – Fairhope, AL. 6:00- 8:00pm, Page & Palette 32 South Section Street. Fairhope, AL 36532

May 28 – Austin, TX. 7 pm, BookPeople, 603 North Lamar Blvd. Austin, Texas 78703

May 29 – Dallas, TX. 7:30 pm, Legacy Books, 7300 Dallas Parkway, Suite A120. Plano, TX 75024

June 4-6 – Saskatchewan, Canada, 2008 Saskatchewan Stitches Conference. May 30 to June 7, 2009

St. Peter’s Abbey , Muenster, For information, call 1-800-344-6024.

I’ll be giving a lecture Saturday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. Cost: $15.00 (no charge for conference participants)

and teaching classes.

4. Since I am going to Florida and Alabama (and then Texas) which all seem to me to be the sorts of places where it will be warm, I need to find the time to bring my summer clothes up from the basement. I may need them. (And the sweater.)

5. I need to go get my hair cut. I am not particularly vain about how I look (or I suppose I would own a lipstick) but when I see pictures of myself after events like this I am always crushed that I couldn’t be bothered to even get a hair cut. I am going to try harder this time. (I am still not wearing lipstick though. I have to draw the line somewhere. I have a suspicion that this may make me the only woman in Dallas not wearing lipstick, but I can live with the shame – and I may be wrong about that anyway. All I know about Dallas I learned from the show.)

6. I have to figure out what to knit on the plane.

Yesterday I finished the first plain sock in Luxury,


and today the ribbing is done on the second one and obviously I need to be prepared for a new project on the plane. Maybe the shawl….

7. Oh, wait. I turned my attention to the shawl when I finished the sweater, so it might be done by Friday too.

Crap. Okay. I’ll think on this.

8. Clean this place up so that Joe stands a chance while I’m gone. There should at least be a nod to spring cleaning. At this point I believe that the nod may be emptying the trash in the bathroom. C’est la vie.

9. Get my bike fixed because my left brake grabs if I use it, and since I do not for a second, believe that I am the sort of person who can remember not to use her left brake, I smell disaster looming.

10. Clear up the garden, since in-between jaunts I’ll have just a little time to slam the beast into the ground.

I think that’s it. Is that it? I don’t know if that’s it. The week feels overwhelming and suddenly I feel badly for having allowed the family to take me to the movies yesterday, even though I had a nice time…. Wanna guess what we saw?


Now. To quote EZ…


That Magic Moment

I know that this is going to be another one of those times that a non-knitter reads the blog and shakes their head sadly that I could even be capable of this sort of incomprehensible thought, but I’m just going to let fly with it.

I am just at the most exciting moment with this sweater.


Cabled cardigan (#19) – that’s a Ravelry link, from Vogue Fall 2006, knit out of Cascade Ecological wool.

Some people like the beginning, of a sweater. They like choosing their yarns, checking the pattern, the cool feeling of having the whole thing stretch before them… the sparkly new beginning when a whole project is filled with possibility. It makes them feel full of hope.

Some people like the middle, doing the real work. They are process knitters, and they love the meat and potatoes of churning out the body of the knitting. It makes them feel accomplished and competent to watch it all happen.

Some people, they like having the finished thing. They don’t like the other parts as much, for them the fun body of the work also has worry and indecision. Their knitting is about making something, and the majority of their happiness and fulfillment happens when they have made it.

Me, I like this part, I’ve knit the two fronts, the back, the two sleeves and I’ve picked up all the stitches around the fronts and back for the great big collar. I am almost done, and almost done is my favourite way to be. Right now, I’ve had the pleasure of choosing the possibilities, the satisfaction of watching the work grow, and the fulfillment of having the end in sight…

but I haven’t actually finished, tried it on, and found out what the *&^%$# is wrong with it.

See? Right now, that sweater is perfect. I love this part.

Appliance Wars V.29

Sometime in the last week the dishwasher, which had been limping along with intermittent doses of “percussive maintenance” ( which here may be defined as Joe alternately shaking and kicking the thing) entirely gave up and quit with even the pretence of draining. Joe and I cursed, swore, brandished a screwdriver at it, looked at 87 websites on dishwasher repair (again) and finally declared that we were going to have to hire a repair guy. Then we looked at our bank account and washed dishes by hand until the reek coming from the appliance in question at least brought home that we were going to have to have it looked at – and before it spawned a new life form.

This morning I picked an appliance guy out of the book based on the fact that he was in my neighbourhood, and awaited his arrival with bated breath. Joe and I had several conversations about “how far we would go”, which, as anyone who owns an appliance knows, is sort of the mechanical version of a DNR order. Plan in force, we waited.

At 4:00 sharp, the repair guy turned up. (The fact that he arrived exactly when he said he would was incredible) and he came into the kitchen and started to look at the dishwasher, and I was suddenly so overcome with anxiety about the whole thing that I had to go sit in my office, which is off of the kitchen so wasn’t really as far away as would have helped, but at least meant that I wasn’t hovering over this poor guy. I sat at my desk and pretended to work and thought things like “Oh man. Oh seriously. Oh let this come in under our DNR price because there is no way another new appliance is coming in here for quite a while. Please, fates that govern appliance well being. I’m sorry for what I said about the fridge. I still miss Sir Washie. The trim around the basement door has never been re-installed and the chunk of drywall that we removed is still in the hall. Please, don’t do this. There is no way to know what will happen to my sanity, my doorframes and my marriage if I need another appliance. Spare me the indignity of crying in front of this man….” and because I was a little worn down by the neck thing… I really did worry about crying in front of him. (I’m a McPhee. We don’t cry in front of appliance people. We cry in the bathtub where no-one can see us.) I sat there, knitting a little and hoping a lot, and then I heard it.

He sighed, and I went nuts. Sighing, sighing was bad. Sighing was terrible. Then he left for More Tools, and I thought – that’s it. That’s the appliance equivalent of the crashcart careening down the hall of the hospital and the way you can tell that your dishwasher is about to go the way of the guy in the red shirt standing near Captain Kirk – and I got a little dizzy and to make myself feel better I started imagining the worst thing. Dude is going to call me in there, and he’s going to tell me that the repair is more than our DNR price. A lot more. Enough more that we can’t kid ourselves, and then just like Joe and I agreed, I’m going to ask him to drain it so that it stops being a reeking fetid pool of dishslag, pay him his $45 service fee, and wish him well. Then, and only then, I will lie down under the dining room table and weep softly until it’s time to use the really nice lavender dish soap I bought, at which point I will meditate on the loveliness of doing dishes by hand and being connected to the real work of things, and feel grateful that I am even lucky enough to have dishes to wash and running water to wash them in. Yes. That is The Plan, and just as I am feeling recovered, and I have properly imagined myself taking the whole thing really well, he calls me into the kitchen, and I smooth my hair, and take a deep breath… and I go.

When I get there, he shows me this:


(Pen for scale) This is the small collection of articles that were together, completely immobilizing the “hose valve” and not allowing the dishwasher to drain. Collectively, they are: a small piece of string (maybe yarn, I deny everything) a small chunk of a cabletie (Joe denies everything) a hunk of pistachio shell and and a chip out of a coffee cup. (Nice little window into our lives, isn’t it?) He disassembled the dishwasher, freed up the valve and handed me a bill. Now, I was worried, on account of a repair guy just called me into the kitchen and told me that my dishwasher was fixed without giving me an estimate first, and that could mean that I’m going to be selling a lot of stash to get out of this one, and the world goes a little dark around the edges, and I say “What do I owe you?” and he looks at me and he says (Get this. This is the incredible part.)

“Well, let’s see. The service call is $45 – so what do you say we call it $65?”

I stared at him. An appliance repair guy who’s speaking to me in numbers with two digits? Sixty Five? I look at him and try and figure out if he means 65 thousand, or 65 hundred, and then it hits me.

He’s fixed my dishwasher for $65. That doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t. I’ve been a grown-up for a while, and I know it’s never happened to me, and I tell you what, I don’t think it happened to my friends either, because the minute that guy left I phoned up Rachel H and I said “DUDE IT WAS $65” and Rachel said “What? To take it away? To talk about it? To take off his shoes? What?” and I had to tell her about eight times that it was $65 to fix the dishwasher… as in, he came to the house. He fixed the dishwasher, and I gave him $65, total, as in Not A Downpayment. and Rachel H couldn’t get over it either. I mean really. It’s like… crazy talk. It’s like… a contractor who shows up every day, then comes in ahead of budget and on time.. or… a woman who goes to the doctor and gets told that she’s actually not 37 weeks pregnant, she’s 40 weeks pregnant and it’s over. We dream of these things, we imagine them, but they don’t really happen to people.

This is how urban legends get started. I mean, a dishwasher repair for $65 DOLLARS. Please. I almost checked myself on Snopes before I called Joe. Think of it. This is the sort of thing your friends tell you when you’re worried about your appliances. Things like “No, no… It doesn’t have to be that bad. I knew a guy who knew this lady, I think she was a knitter or something, I dunno, but she totally called a repair guy and it was $65 bucks” and then everybody feels better, even though we all know it’s a lie, just like the lady who really actually did get money from Bill Gates for sending around a chain letter, or the thing about gum staying in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it.

Except this one is true. $65. Dudes.

(PS. My neck is a little better. Thanks for all the advice. Cold, massage, ibuprofen, and resting helped a lot.)


Yesterday I had a wee pain in my neck. Just an odd little thing that felt like I should stretch it out or rub it a little, and I spent the whole of yesterday doing just that. This morning, I woke up and discovered that not only can I not turn my head to the left (which is not really a big deal, I mean, I can get around that) but that the ache in my neck is now searing pain that goes from behind my right ear all the way down to under my right shoulder blade. This I could live with (I have teenagers, there is no physical pain that can defeat me) but for interest and excitement, this pain is ornamented with random and bizarre spasms in which some of the muscles in my neck attempt to insert the bottom of my right shoulder blade into the canal of my right ear, which, as you can well imagine, is functionally impossible, and painful to attempt.

I tried working. I tried typing. I tried housework. (I tried working and typing with the phone clamped between my left shoulder and ear and when I regained consciousness I realized that I had likely discovered the potential cause of the injury.) The only thing that doesn’t seem to anger that set of muscles into spasms that make a macrame plant hanger looks like a straight line… is…


Knitting. All of a sudden, I have decided that as much as this hurts? The neck thing may have an upside.

It meant nothing to me

Dear Knitting;

I have a terrible confession to make, or, I guess what I mean is that I think you’re going to think it was terrible, but it really wasn’t. I figure I should tell you because you’re probably going to find out anyway. The truth is, I’ve had an affair. No – nix that. Not an affair. I had… an experience. An… interval. An episode. Maybe I was drinking. I don’t remember – and no matter what anyone says, I didn’t plan it. I was minding my own business at knit night (and see? That’s the first sign that it wasn’t my fault. KNIT night. You don’t expect to be blindsided there) when Denny gave me a loom. (See that too? It’s not like I went looking for it. I was sitting there, minding my own business and whammo. This Schacht Cricket loom jumps on my lap and … wait! It’s Beth’s fault ! She’s the one who sent the loom with Denny to give to me and the two of them planned it and I… I was just sitting there.

Now, I might have stood a chance, but the thing was just so… ready. It was already assembled, its bobbins were full – for crying out loud… it was warped already. It sat there, just so simple, so straightforward, and I fell down. I thought it was going to be innocent. I thought we were just going to hang out, you know? I thought that it was really ok. You know, I thought that it didn’t matter if I just talked to some other yarncraft. I’m in the yarn industry, you know? I was just going to hang out a bit, see what this weaving thing was all about. I threw the shuttle a few times, and…

The next thing I knew, we were at home together, and I was weaving and weaving. The shuttle went back and forth and I beat every row with the heddle and, heaven help me, when I ran out of yarn I went and got more and….


and I ripped back that huge sock and wound the yarn on the bobbin and…


I made a scarf.


It was the loom’s fault. It’s just so easy, and … fast.. and it uses up a lot of yarn quickly… really quickly – I mean, I used up that whole ball of sock yarn in a couple of hours and Knitting, you have to admit it, you and I have never been able to get it together for a “quickie”.

I’m not saying that’s wrong, I mean, there are other things that we have, things that are more important than speed. We have intimacy, and history and … well, I’m not going to pretend that there haven’t been problems. It was hard for me to get over that time that you thought it would be funny to mess up the hat the night before Christmas, but hell. Every craft makes mistakes and I don’t hold it against you. I mean, I love you Knitting, and we’ve been though a lot together. I just want you to know that the thing with the loom didn’t mean anything to me baby… nothing.



(Ps, even though I said I was over it, I was really upset about the gauge thing on the sock. I thought you should know. )