Blanket update number one

The blanket is still going well.

I have changed from a KnitPicks needle to an Addi Turbo just to keep it fresh. (We will reflect later on the fact that I am like… 1/8 of the way into this blanket, and have already decided to try and “keep it fresh.” Bad sign.)

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That’s all I’ve got – except for the news that this morning I spit a stitch on it, but I noticed right away and fixed it… so it was fine and not really interesting. Sorry about that.

(I told you this was going to be boring. I’m going to have to think of something.)

Let the Boring Begin

I have bad news. I’ve come to realize over the last few years, that there are two things about my knitting that make it interesting to others.

1. I knit sort of fast, and a lot – and when it comes to knitting projects, I have the attention span of an infant gerbil. This means that even if you don’t want to look at what I’m knitting, it will be over soon and I’ll be on to something else – alarmingly, whether I finish it or not. (Someday, someone is going to add up all the projects that came to nothing and present me with a really horrible list.)

2. I am not a really, really clever knitter, and I am compelled to be honest about it because I know that’s how it goes for (almost) everybody. (I say “almost” because I freely admit that there are some knit bloggers out there who never seem to screw up, and simply knit smartly through astonishingly accomplished knits without even once having to do the cast on edge 14 times. I don’t know how they do it. In my heart of hearts I like to believe that they are screwing up as often as I am, and just not admitting it – but I know that’s probably just what I like to tell myself while I’m fixing my 16th miscrossed cable.) I screw up, and don’t take myself seriously enough to miss the fact that my screw-ups are entertaining for others who have also been victims of their own intellects from time to time. Really, how much fun would this blog be if every entry read “I knit a hat. It went well.”

For these reasons, what I am about to tell you about my new project is very, very bad news.

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I am knitting the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket (Rav Link) from Mason Dixon Knitting, and I am knitting it on a deadline.

It is garter stitch. It is simple. It goes on forever, and I have to do it and not much else for some time. As it is garter stitch squares and rectangles, I regret to inform you that the chances that I am going to make an entertaining mistake are very slim. (Although, if I do screw it up, I suppose that will take me into a whole new and lower realm of mistake making that – while it will shake me to my very core, will likely be pretty fun to watch. Again, I repeat that I truly believe that the odds on this happening are just about zip. With this move, I have pretty much wiped out any chance that I will either move on to another project anytime soon, that this will finish anytime soon, or that I will entertain you in any way.

You have my regrets.

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In other, more interesting news, Claudia is at it again, in her usual indomitable style, riding to support MS research. Maybe go see if her efforts are your style? Good prizes, big fun.

Randomly on a Tuesday

1. I’m home.

2. I’m so glad I’m home. I’ve still got the tail end of whatever plague beset me three weeks ago, and I can’t seem to kick it, so the idea of sleeping in my own bed and having my own things around me makes me really happy.

3. I’m convinced that my cold/cough/plague would leave if summer would arrive. I can’t believe how crappy and cold it is outside. The Canadian summer is short enough that this last run of cool weather is a heartbreak.

4. I don’t even have my garden in.

5. I loved the people I met in Saskatchewan.

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6. Aviva said in the comments: “The Benedictines are so incredibly cool. Have fun with them. Extra points

if you get them to pose with the sock.”

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Done. (Thanks Father Dimitrius. You’re a good sport.)

7. My house is so messy and dirty that it’s bugging even me, and I have really, really ridiculously low standards.

8. There is a strange smell in the fridge and I have been trying to figure out what it is since Sunday. It’s driving me crazy. I’ve looked at everything. It’s like a ghost smell messing with me or something. I hate when that happens.

It’s like fridges only have one way to try and express humour. It doesn’t work.

9. I finished a pair of socks while I was on my way back.

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Plain vanilla sock pattern, yarn Creatively Dyed “Luxury” in Salsa. (80%merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon. Seems to be good stuff.)

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10. I regret pretty deeply that I didn’t make these my size.

11. That makes me feel a little selfish.

12. I think I’m okay with being selfish about socks that I knit myself.

13. I finished something big.

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It’s the Miralda shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia, knit in the extremely delicious merino/angora blend from Toots LeBlanc. I used three full skeins, and a little bit of the fourth one.

14. Considering the rough start this project had, I’m surprised how much I loved knitting it. The nupps are an extremely entertaining bit of knitterly fun. Something like deciding to turn a cartwheel in the park for no reason other than it’s a beautiful day.

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15. I was really worried that the angora would shed all over the place. They said it wouldn’t, but I have been told yarn lies before – and when a yarn is expensive, it really annoys the hell out of me.

16. This wasn’t a lie. I love this yarn. It’s tightly spun, tightly plied… and it’s developing the loveliest angora halo without leaving angora anywhere, even after washing and abusing a little. The tight twist means this has stitch definition that shows of my work, while the halo makes it so soft it would break your heart. I absolutely got what I paid for here… and more.

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17. I am thinking about wearing this shawl with my track pants and tee shirt when I go to buy toilet paper from the corner store later.

18. I think that this is a good idea, because the tee shirt is black and will really show off the shawl, and I will look great.

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19. In reality, I know that I am actually going to look like a homeless lady who found a really great shawl.

20. Sigh.

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Where did you think it would be

Have you ever had a day where you realize that if you tried to explain where you are and what you do and how things are in your life that people might try to get you some help or something?

Today was one of those days. I’m here in Saskatchewan to teach knitting and give a knitting speech, so when I woke up this morning in my room in the guest dorms of the Monastery I’m staying in…

Oh… see that! SNAP! That was it. Turns out that the Saskatchewan Stitches Conference is held in a Monastery.

Yes. A Monastery.

No, not a building that used to be a Monastery and is now used for something else..

A fully functioning Monastery, full of friendly and kind Benedictine Monks who bake awesome bread.

They are all lovely, have a wonderful sense of humour and a delight to be around. The conference has a lot of classes. Quilting classes, silk painting, sewing… and my favourite (just because we’re in a Monastery…)

Bra making. For real. (Can you think of anything better for a monk to be good natured about that a lingerie class?)

I’m knitting pretty socks. I’m living with monks. More later.

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Pattern: Loksins, Yarn: Sleeping Dragon Hand painted merino in “Pool”

PS. The sky in Saskatchewan is the prettiest anywhere. Prairies really know sky. You can’t tell me different.

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Could you get that for me?

It would seem that I dropped a couple of days there, not quite sure what happened. My memories of the last few days really only seem to be a collection of vignettes of my computer screen, endless cups of coffee and database searches, and I see a lot of replies in my inbox, so I must be emailing people. Every day the number in there is lower, and hope is dawning on the horizon with a warm glow. In the meantime I’m knitting garter stitch (about a row a day, I’ll show it to you later – it’s a whole new project) wishing that my camera was fixed (I’ve done nothing to make that happen) and now… sitting in the airport again, on my way to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I’m thinking about Dallas (and about how I really, really wish I could teleport all these places because I am starting to be automatically cranky in airports) and how surprised I was there.

I don’t know what I was expecting Dallas to be, but I’d never been there and I watched TV in the eighties, so its PR was really all I had to go on. I expected it to be flashy or something. I expected cowboy hats – maybe big jewellery. Absolutely an unusual standard of lipstick and hair and perhaps the tiniest little proclivity towards shoulder pads and evening dresses at lunchtime.

Nope. It looked like this. (As always, you may click to embiggen small knitters)

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See that? Just the sort of knitters that you would expect. There they are, looking for all the world like I could be anywhere, and I found that really, really comforting. I know I say it all the time, but I can’t tell you how much I like it that knitters are about the same everywhere I go. Their accent’s change, what they’re wearing changes, what they’re knitting changes, but the basics stay just the same. Proof? There were lots of pre-knitters:

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That’s Erica/Tom/Nathanial, Michelle with wee Joseph (very serious guy) Emily and Isaac, Cindy and Connor, and Nancy and Evie – with Evie modelling a very nice February Baby sweater. (Rav Link.)

There were lots of first sock knitters, brutally honest about the perils that lurk in the depths of a first pair of socks.

It went reasonably well for Cynthia, Diana, Randi,Joanna, and our resident overachiever, Sabina. (Perfect, patterned knee socks that fit – right out of the gate. Don’t hate her because her socks are beautiful.)

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Then there were these 1st sock knitters, sent here by the fates to make all of us feel better about our own mistakes.

Christy knit a beautiful pair of first socks…

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but the bind off is too tight, and they cannot be placed on human feet.

This is Sharon, who knit two beautiful first socks…

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that came out two entirely unrelated sizes.

and this is Trisha, who’s first socks are absolutely perfect…

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if you live in the Arctic, which Dallas is not, even if you do jack up the AC.

Finally, this is Stacia, who is not displaying her first socks, as they had fallen prey to another really common problem knitters have.

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Her husband stole them and won’t give them back.

People brought me things ( I never thought people would bring me things, and I know that I should probably love it less for the sake of being humble and less consumerist and all that, but I really, really love it. It’s charming and thoughtful and makes me feel less lonely and far from home, and I just love it. I’m thrilled and surprised everytime someone does it. I never expect it, and I think it’s unbelievably kind. I’m also really, really glad that not everyone does it, because I would be buried in really great stuff really fast, so I’m glad it’s just the occasional things here and there.) Mary Kay brought me a Boa, in case there was some sort of Texas accessory emergency, for which I am, by nature… woefully unprepared.

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Enid brought me a totally great Hawaii washcloth to add to my collection.

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Lara brought me a seriously funky little fertility doll that her mum Ruth dyed the fibre for, and she spun,knit and wrote the pattern for. (It’s my fault she’s making that face. Sorry.)

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Lissa and Magnolia brought me DINNER, which was really grand, since vegetarian feed can be in short supply in Texas…

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I totally got a “private” beer. (This was in response to a twitter I wrote earlier in the day about a very kind person who wrote to me to let me know that I was in grave spiritual danger (I believe that means I’m going to hell, not sure) because I am a role model for people and therefore shouldn’t speak of drinking alcohol in public. Apparently this person believes that my influence is far greater than anyone had ever imagined.)

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She need not worry. I drank this one in private. It was very good.

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This here, now this is a good one. Its a Texas Knitters’ 6-pack from Ron and his lovely wife Theresa at Buffalo Gold (That, all by itself is almost enough of a reason to want to live there) it’s a little bit of their lovely yarn, and … um….

“Coffee”. Yeah. That’s what was in that cup. Absolutely.

I got to meet Melanie from Pink Lemon Twist , creator of the mystery stole series and wearing a shawl of her own devising – I think it’s Flamenco. (I wonder if she realizes how many people she influenced?)

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I met Harrison (11) and Stuart (7) both competent knitters,

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and that’s Kimberlyn in the picture with Stuart, holding open Knitting Rules to the page where I explain how to measure gauge, which I signed for her, because she claims that page changed a very great deal about how well gauge was working for her. Kimberlyn apparently was shocked to see gauge being measured horizontally across the stitches in that picture. Up until that exact moment, she had been measuring it VERTICALLY – like row gauge, which would totally make it hard to “get gauge” … well. Ever. Things are better now. I think I love her for copping to it.

Finally, there was Laura with a good old fashioned knitting tatoo. (I love that sentence.)

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See? Totally normal – at least for knitters.

In fact, the only thing that I was shocked by in Dallas, television didn’t help me prepare for, and if you’re Canadian you might want to sturdy up, or take a deep breath or something before you look at this. It’s a little hard to imagine, and certainly not something you expect to see.

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A guy in a zamboni, WEARING SHORTS.

I may never recover from the juxtaposition.

The way things are in Texas

Some cities, it turns out, have nicknames for no reason. Like… Chicago being the windy city. Chicago really isn’t that windy. It’s average. (Boston is the windiest US city, and It turns out that calling Chicago the “Windy City” might be a marketing ploy from around 1880.) Also, I’ve heard people call Cleveland “The Mistake by the Lake” which, after visiting, I can say it clearly isn’t, unless you are a Washington Wizards fan (or so I’m told) and that hardly seems like a fair concensus. All of this is to say that when you hear a slogan like “Keep Austin Weird” you think.. yeah, well. How weird can it be? I mean, people are the same all over… right? I was only in Austin from 4:30pm to 9:00AM (and the booksigning stuff started at 6pm and I was in the airport from 7:30am) but I still gathered the following.

Austin is weird. Good weird, but definitely weird.

Evidence 1.(As always, click to embiggen.)

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(That last one is still more of a good shot of my sock than the knitters, which I’m sorry about, but the screen on my camera is still broken, so I’ll take what I can get.) They totally overwhelmed and surprised the bookstore, who ran out of books and were lovely and welcoming, but pretty shocked. (I know that Hill Country Weavers and The Knitting Nest tried to tell them, but dudes, nobody believes it till they see it.) I actually take my hat off to everyone concerned. Awesome job. Book People is a really awesome indie with pleasantly weird staff. Loved them, and they stuffed knitters into every available spot.

Evidence 2.

David, in all his kilt-clad glory, showed up to exact revenge. A few years ago at Rhinebeck I councelled him to buy a cone of wool for kilt hose. I can be pretty compelling, and David walked away with that yarn. Now immediately thereafter, the poor little dear declared it “scratchy” and began plotting his retaliation.

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It was this. A thong out of the allegedly scratchy wool, which I assure you, I will never, ever put on. Not because that wool is scratchy (because it is not, David just doesn’t like it rough, which is all I would expect from a man in a skirt) but because I’ll die before I concede the point.

Evidence 3:

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Not one, but TWO independent knitters decided, for no other reason than that it would be funny, to knit enormous socks to demonstrate that “everything is bigger in Texas.” I’d agree. (And it is funny. That’s Elizabeth with the first one, and Carol with the second. Elizabeth worked toe up, Carol… top down.)

Evidence 4.

This is Lauren, Gardiner and Patrick.

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They are unrelated to each other, but Lauren somehow converted Gardiner into a knitter anyway, and then Gardiner spread it to Patrick. Clearly, Lauren emits a knitter vibe that is deeply, deeply contagious.

Evidence 5: (Which is not really evidence that Austin is weird, but that knitters are the same all over, no matter where you find them, which I find reassuring)

Sue and Kristi with their first socks,

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Jelayne, who, although she couldn’t bring me her young knitter Andy, did bring me a picture of him. 7 years old, and totally competent.

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And finally… a message:

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Always happy to help a knitter out.

From there, I slept briefly, and got on a plane to Dallas where the good times kept on rolling. (Seriously. I think I love Texas.) Part 2 is tomorrow, since this post is long enough.

A quick note about The Sock Summit. Tina, me and the whole team are reassured, touched and bolstered by the outpouring of love and support we’ve received in the last few days. We can’t tell you how much we hate our server, and how much we love all of you back. We’re still working through the emails we’ve gotten at our Contact us forms, and if you haven’t heard from us soon, you will. We can’t thank you enough for your support and patience. You made up for the bad stuff in a big way. (The donations to KWB were an outstanding touch. You’re all made of kindness. I’ll be adding those to the tally and thanking you individually when the SS09 inbox isn’t such a pressing concern, but know that we see and love every one of them.)

Until tomorrow.