I’m a little under the weather today, and oddly,  two of my symptoms (besides a sore throat and foul temper) appears to be that I have become organizationally challenged (not much of a stretch there really- but I walk so close to the edge that I hope this is temporary) and suddenly pen repellant. The organizational thing seems to be largely fixated around not being able to find things I have, or thinking I have things that I don’t, or discovering that I can’t find things I have because I don’t have them because Joe does, but usually not until I’ve looked for them for a while. Being pen repellant is interesting too… I can’t find them, if I do I lose them, if I find them and don’t lose them they don’t work… even my beloved light-up pen collection has gone all dark today.  (What? I like to write stuff down when I think it up at night.  You would need light up pens if you liked that too, and as a matter of fact I bet at least one of you just found out right this second that there is such a thing as a light up pen and now you need them too. Eh? It’s not as weird as all that.)  All of these difficulties have meant that today’s been a bit of a struggle, and now that I’ve made it through the better part of it, I’m going to give up and let the rest of the day wash over me.  It’s going to be me, a cuppa tea, some really bad tv and a whole lot of knitting… if I could decide, which I can’t- which means I might do a bit of everything. Or not.

I’ve got Septembers sock in the self-imposed sock of the month club on the go already.  It was started a few days late because… well, to be completely honest I didn’t know what the date was and gapped the beginning of September by about 48hrs.  I have no explanation.  (This unsettled thing might have been the theme of my week.)

Luck of the draw this month got me a combo I’m still deciding about.  The fabulous Red Rocks Fiberworks Aspen Sock in "Betty Boop Blue" and Cirque, and I think they’re both great, but maybe not together, but I’m not sure so… still knitting.

The Joie du Printemps mittens continue apace, trudging along slowly at a better gauge and looking very, very lovely (though in desperate need of a blocking)

but truthfully, still sort of big for my short hands,

although now the problem would be that my hands are abnormally wee, not that the mitten is freakishly large – in fact,

They’re going to fit my normal sized friend Natalie just fine. (Sigh.)

The last thing in the weekend rotation is the result of a bizarre yarn incident at Lettuce Knit on Wednesday.  The shop’s in a new location (just a few doors west of where it was) and we all went down to celebrate with Megan and it’s bigger and brighter and there’s a nook to sit in and a table to knit around and I guess we were all overexcited about that, and then Andrea was talking about this yarn and this sweater and then she was showing me yarn and a sweater and waving the pattern around, and then Jen brought me another glass of wine and said the sweater was cute, then Dr. Steph said something like "that’s a nice green" and then we were all measuring our busts and talking about yarn requirements and I said it was a nice green too and …

Then apparently I’m knitting Jolie from Vintage Knits out of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran. I even swatched. I’d feel worse about it but Andrea fell for it too. It was like a yarn bus hit me and I didn’t even know it until I was packing it onto my bike.

I told you.  I’m a little unsettled. Odd that always ends with a yarn purchase though.  Damned weird.

Creatures of the Knit

I’ve got somewhere to be today, so to be completely honest there wasn’t going to be a blog post at all today until what follows landed in my inbox last night.

You all know that I’ve got a thing for getting folks to hold my sock in progress.  I think the humble genre of photography known to me as "the sock picture" is a noble pursuit, and I’ve scored some celebrities over the years, and a bunch of you nailed some yourself.  (Tip of the hat here to Tracy, who got then not-yet-President Obama.) It was all cool until last night, when it got super-cool.

Behold, the coolness that is Amanda and her friend Lindsay, who turned a couple of knitters with concert tickets,  backstage passes and a sock picture plan into THIS.

Yup. It’s KISS.  Really KISS.  Not a cover band, not a dress up party, but really, actually KISS, posing with a couple of knitters, groovin’ on the sock action- complete with Gene Simmons pointing at the sock itself, just like sock pictures are the most normal thing in the world and there’s nothing dorky about it, which of course there is, and that’s the beauty of it.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.  Knitters. We’re everywhere. Rock on! 

Happy New Year

It’s always seemed to me that this day, the first day of school, is a more natural beginning to the year than January 1st is.  The real new year comes at a low point for me.  The winter is still deep and dark, nothing in nature changes at that time, the kids go back after winter break to the same schedule they had before and so do I.  September though, the summer has ended, there’s a big change in the weather, in expectations, in the routine… everything changes in September. The first day of school marks the end of the lazy, relaxed summer routine, where everyone can stay up late if they want, get up late if they want, where.. if you’re a mum with a home office, there’s little difference between a Saturday and a Wednesday.  Come September, there’s the rebirth of the weekend, the rebirth of setting alarms to get up on time, and of getting the laundry done since suddenly nobody can wear the same pants four days in a row without social stigma. (Except me.  I’m a writer.  I’m exempt from a lot of social conventions. You wouldn’t believe how unkempt we can be before people think we’re falling off the curve.)  September is, for anyone with school aged kids, the month of obvious movement, advancement and comforting structure. Homework, meals at a specific time.. curfews and lessons.

I love the first day of school, and not just because I’m alone in my office. It makes me want to start everything new, tidy the house up, make everything organized, buy a new raft of post-its and make schedules and lists. 
It’s a fresh start.   Happy New Year.

A Whole Other Way to Be Wrong

 Sometimes I feel like knitting has a sense of humour, and it’s not necessarily a good one -or maybe it is a good one, it’s just sort of mean. 

I started La Joie du Printemps mittens a few days ago.  I didn’t swatch.  I admit it. I think mittens are wee, and that means that I don’t mind ripping back if it turns out I don’t like what I’m getting,  and that means that I was very graceful when indeed I didn’t like what I was getting. No cursing, no bad behaviour, just me and the mitten going back to the start.  I measured the gauge and instead of the 10sts to the inch I was supposed to be getting, it was 8, and I can see how that would give me a mitten bigger than I wanted, so back we went. 

I ripped it into nothingness, hunted up a set of 2mm needles and began again. Going down a needle size usually smartens things right up – and at such tiny tolerances, .25 of a millimetre is usually enough to get a 2 stitch per inch change with fine fingering weight… at least in Stephanieland, which is where I’m knitting, so it’s all that matters.

I began again, and charged along, ignoring entirely that the mitten was still coming out too big.  I told myself that it had to be smaller, that there’s a big difference between 2.25 and 2mm, and every time my brain tried to tell me that for whatever reason, this mitten was still big,  I slapped that intelligent part of my brain down and kept on knitting.

At Knit Night, my friends said the mitten was too big. There were varying opinions on how big was too big, or what I should do about the bigness, but not one of them said that it was totally fine. (Actually, Megan said it was fine, but Megan is notoriously anti-rip.  She’ll do almost anything to avoid ripping- and apparently this means she can forgive mittens excessive bigness.)   Dr. Steph said that when a mitten comes out too big, sometimes she knits a liner mitten, and the too big mitten becomes a shell.  (I know that if you’re in a more temperate part of the world you might not see the advantages of double wool mittens, but this is Canada, and the sense of it is inarguable.) Someone else said that they would look for a big handed friend, or look for a male family member who wouldn’t be emasculated by the rather feminine combination of these colours and this pattern. I participated in the conversation, but I didn’t buy in.  I ignored how big it looked when my friends slipped the mitten on, and told them they had really small hands.

At home, the voice in my head wondered out loud if maybe the mittens were really too big, but I gave my common sense a smack upside the head and told it that if I was getting 8 stitches to the inch at 2.25mm, then I was absolutely getting less at 2mm, and that meant the mittens were definitely smaller even if the didn’t look smaller, and by the way, shut up. 

I could have definitively won the conversation by getting out a measuring tape at that point, but I suppose part of me was protecting another part of me from shattering my delusions. 

Last night I was knitting on the mitten, and I put it down beside me and examined it for the 47th time, wondering if perhaps it wasn’t a little on the large side, when Joe happened to mention that it was sort of a girly mitten for a man.  I assured him that it wasn’t his Christmas present and that they were for me, and he gave me the weirdest look, like "how big do you think you are honey?" and even then I didn’t take it to heart.  I was tired, I was crabby and seriously there are rules in knitting.  If you go down a needle size then the knitting will be smaller.  This is the way it works.  I’ve been knitting for a long time and it’s absolute. Bigger needles makes the work bigger, smaller needles make the work smaller and I really don’t care if this mitten doesn’t look smaller because I KNOW THE RULE.  I went down a needle size and these mittens are smaller.  I went to bed early.

I got up this morning and ignored the mitten for a while, but it lurked at me. Just now I decided to sit down and knit for a minute, and somehow I was suddenly able to face it.  The mitten is too big.  Really too big. I measured the gauge, and unbelievably, its gauge is 8 stitches to the inch, the same as before I went down a needle size.  I drank a coffee and glowered at it with sheer rage, infuriated by the audacity of its largeness. 

How can that happen? How can you go down a needle size and still have the same gauge?  It occurred to me that maybe I didn’t go down a needle size.  Maybe I accidentally used another set of 2.25mm needles.  I whipped out a needle gauge and measured.  Nope. 2mm.

I poured another coffee and stared at the mitten.  This is something about knitting I’ve never understood, and it always puts me over the edge. The way it can mock at the rules and always be a surprise and just when you think you’ve got an rule figured out, it turns out that knitting doesn’t give a crap what you think you know – its got an exception to your crappy little rule because really, there are days when knitting just likes to smack you around and keep you humble, because we all just think that knitting’s inanimate, but that’s not possible because it can’t be that this is all just random, and really you’d think that we could find out a way to dominate this bloody thing because we’re bigger and smarter and faster than yarn and …

Something occurred to me. I went over to the table and picked up the 2.25 mm needles I used the first time.  I slipped one into the gauge. 


I’ve deleted my concluding paragraph 4 times because it keeps coming out with unladylike language.   Feel free to imagine how I ended this.


The Village Idiot


I’m sure a lot of you are where we are, so I bet you’ll understand when I say that as cool as it is that it’s back to school time, it’s a lot of work. It’s really cutting into the blogging/knitting time, but I’ve still got a pair of socks to show you, and thought I’d take a minute to tell you that Diane is (according to the random number generator) the new owner of the copy of the Commemorative Edition of the Knitter’s Almanac . I’ve emailed her, and I hope she’s thrilled.

As I trucked from Portland to Toronto last week, these socks turned up.

Rogue Roses (my pattern, and one I love, as is so often the case with things you dream up yourself) knit in STR Mediumweight… a rare gem that I snagged from Tina’s desk while she wasn’t looking. 

She saw I had it later, so I don’t really consider it stealing.  She could have reclaimed it if she really cared… that’s the way I see it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to convince a 16 year old that it is not possible that one’s social standing can actually be ruined by having the wrong colour sneakers.

(It can’t… right? Considering the state of my shoe closet, I’d like to think that character can overcome dodgy footwear.)