Forever and ever

Just thought I’d pop by to tell you that I’m going to be knitting the Laminaria shawl for the rest of my life. You might as well never come to the blog again unless you think this shawl is just the thing, because this is all that’s ever going to be on it again. I’ve just knit on it for almost four hours, and it made scarcely a smidge of difference.  This might be like labour, where just when you think you can’t take another minute it’s over… but it could also be a bona fide black hole from which I will never emerge.  No way to tell, except to keep knitting.

I thought you might like to know that it’s probably going to be me, this shawl, the blog.. in perpetuity- forevermore.

And yes.  That’s snow.

This it is and nothing more

Two months left of the wildly successful self-imposed-sock-club and this month is a sock that (rather ironically) I’ve been meaning to knit for a while. 

Ages ago I designed Lenore for the Rockin’ Sock Club (out of the aptly named colourway "Lenore") and I knit them then to check my pattern and sort it out, but those were sent off with the pattern submission and I was left sadly Lenore-less. Months later, because I was a sock club member, I got the kit in the mail, but for reasons I’m trying to figure out, I put it away unknit.  (While my track record with the self-imposed-sock-club is awesome, to say that my performance with actual sock clubs is spotty at best would be too kind.)

Now, a good chunk of time later, I was putting together this year’s kits, and there it was.  I thought it was a bummer that I didn’t own a pair of socks that I’d designed and loved, and so the kit was resurrected and went into the queue.  I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder, because I love them entirely and can’t imagine what consigned them to the abyss in the first place. The pattern is quick and easy, but has awesome results, if I dare say so myself.  (The pattern also has a child’s size on it and as soon as I started knitting them again I remembered that the urge to knit petal pink Little Lenore’s for the closest wee gal had been overwhelming at the time. I think I’m over it.)

When I designed these socks, Tina’s Raven Clan colourways were brand new, and me being a great big Poe fan from way back, I couldn’t help but think instantly of the poem The Raven, and these socks were inspired by the lost  Lenore in it.  It’s what she would have worn, I feel sure of it.   Knitting them today I’m remembering how perfect they felt, and how much I love this pattern, and how much I thought I nailed it, and just how really great they are- and I’m getting to visit with all those good feelings that I had.  I think they’re just so pretty, and I’m so glad they’re back.  

Still begs the question of why I shoved it in the back of the linen closet when it arrived, but sometimes knitting’s just like that.  I’m forever trying to figure out why this got abandoned or why that sunk to the bottom of the queue. Sometimes it’s because it’s boring or I don’t really like it, but that’s not the case with these.  I just totally forgot that I loved them somehow.  My money’s on distraction. I bet some other yarn waggled its little label at me and I got all confused.

What sends something you like to the back of the closet?

With Apologies

Dear Knitting,

I’d like to apologize for the way I’ve been treating you these last few days.   You’re a beautiful Laminaria shawl, and you’re really the prettiest green silk thread, and I feel badly about ignoring you.

I could see the way you were lurking at me while I was looking at the Margaret Stove book this morning, and I could tell that you were angry that I was ogling  other laceweights, but it’s not what you think.   It’s just that the shawls in there are all shiny and new and sort of exciting and it’s not that you’re not pretty or exciting, because you really are, and I love you a lot,  it’s just that our relationship is,   well… you’re sort of  ummm… mature, and I mean that in a good way.  Who really wants one of those floozy fancypants wedding ring shawls anyway.  They’re not even green.  You’re real and experienced and we know each other and I’m happy with what I’ve got here at home with you.

In any case, I was absolutely not thinking about actually knitting with those other shawls in that book and I know it sort of looked like I was looking at their charts, but I wasn’t.   I was just… reading it for the articles.  


It all happened so fast.  That’s all I can say about the road trip that Rachel and I took to SOAR- what happened when we went, and how we got back.  It was like being hit by a fiber train.  When so much happens in a few days, I decided that photoessay was the only way to go.  I seem to have had a bit of a case of camnesia (forgetting to take pictures) but’s what’s on my camera(s).

We started the trip with a pit stop at Lorna’s Laces in Chicago, and not only did they let us have a good poke around the dye studio, Beth let us have a little fun watching how they dye, and even let RachelH have stab at dying her own yarn. 

Amanda (yarnmanager extraordinaire) took a picture of me while I took a picture of her.   (If you squint in the background you can see the pizza and beer that they had. (The leftovers are thoughtfully documented on their blog.)   Pizza, beer, fun folks and yarn?  Pretty perfect afternoon.)

That smile says "Best buffet ever!" 

We left reluctantly and drove on to Wisconsin, and the resort was on a pretty, pretty lake that put on a fine sunrise complete with mist drifting across the water and ducks that thoughtfully arranged themselves for the shot.

The first morning I had a class with Margaret Stove.  I’m entirely in love with her, and she specializes in spinning fine, fine yarns.  We worked on spinning, she passed around some of here incredible work…

and I spun… by Margaret Stove standards…

A bulky weight yarn.  That’s a penny for scale. Compared to how Margaret spins I’m a total hack. She has you check your singles under a MICROSCOPE to see how you’re doing. I was pretty impressed with myself until that moment, but it’s still the best I’ve ever managed.  It’s under-plied, but considering that I could hardly see it while I was working I like it anyway. 

In the afternoon I took a class on spinning fine fibres with a takli spindle.  (It’s a supported spindle, hence the spoon. That’s what we were using for support, and it was brilliant.)  Takli’s are traditionally used for cotton, and that’s what the white on the spindle is.  (The blue is wool. Ignore it.) I’ve never managed anything that didn’t look like a hot mess with a supported spindle before -so I was totally thrilled.  I credit the success to the teacher, Stephenie Gaustad, who’s just about as cool as they come.  

That’s Stephenie, who’d crawled under the table chasing some students.  I love her – but don’t tell her.  It will only go to her head.

This here is just a random photo from hanging out in the evenings.  One of the loveliest parts of SOAR is the time spent with great spinning friends I only see once a year, and watching the informal spinner-to-spinner teaching that goes on.  This is Phreadde, who has a crazy way with wheels, seen here working her diagnostic magic.  This snap sums up Phreadde for me.

Oh, how I wish I’d gotten this knitters name- she was a brilliant test knitter for Margaret Stove, and that’s the test knit of a shawl from Margaret’s book. (I bought her book Wrapped in Lace: Knitted Heirloom Designs from Around the World while I was there. It’s absolutely fabulous and beyond inspiring, though  the thought of handspinning enough gossamer two ply to make this makes me feel awfully dizzy – that sample is knit from Margaret’s commercial yarn, but in the class she suggested with a straight face that it would be an absolutely normal undertaking to spin your own.  (I swear the world got black around the edges when she said it. There was a collective and involuntary gasp.)

Saturday I took a class from the rather incredible Deb Menz, whom I have long worshipped. (I can’t stress enough how much I tried to keep that a secret in the class so that we could have a shot at a somewhat normal relationship.)   The class was about using wool combs and a hackle for blending colour, and there was a lot of colour.  We chose a base colour we loved, then added six (out of more than a hundred choices) to cool it, intensify it, change it’s hue.. saturation…  Her book Color in Spinning has long been a favourite of mine- and it was pretty glorious to put all that I’d read (and so much more) into practice. 

Hackles and combs are the scariest fibre tools there are- to my way of thinking, so much so that when Deb asked "any questions?" All I asked was what how badly students had been injured in the past.   (Nothing more than a bandaid and a tetanus update, happily.  I was thrilled not to break her run.)

We blended on the combs, then the hackle, then used a diz to pull the fibre off of the hackle into top that’s so lovely it takes my breath away. It’s exactly me, and the incredible thing was that I was profoundly skeptical the whole time.  The colours she had me combine were so crazy pants that I only went along because she’s sort of firm, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. 
When we’d pulled what we could off the combs/hackles, Deb had us toss our "waste" (what was left in the combs) into a drum carder and make a batt… 

and I’m pretty much in love whith that too – which (may I re-iterate) is also crazypants. There’s any number of unlikely colours in there- red, purple, a revolting neon gree
n.. Deb’s brain is an odd, brilliant and brightly coloured place to spend and afternoon, and I loved it.

I wish I had more pictures.  Pictures that would show you the feelings that there are at SOAR, that wonderful feeling you get when everyone thinks that these things are normal and interesting. The feeling you get when everyone wants desperately to have a conversation about the crimp in your fleece – when everyone is toting a wheel or has roving stuck to their arse – but I don’t, and I’m not sure you can take a picture of that anyway.  I can’t wait until next year.

Denny, RachelH and I made our way home yesterday in a rather epic drive from Wisconsin to Toronto – and I was home just before midnight, and just in time to wish Joe a Happy Birthday.

Today my charming husband is 42 years young, and I love him more with every day he’s here.  Our family has had a difficult and challenging year,  and while I’ve always seen his many charms, watching him rise to every occasion with kindness, humour, grace and patience has only driven my opinion of him to the highest possible place.  Also…

He’s pretty cute.  Happy Birthday Joe. You’re a wonderful husband, friend and father.  I love you.