It turns out that I didn’t run out of yarn on that last trip.  It was close though. Darned close.  I finished my March socks on my flight…

Pattern: Giotto, Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Spring Tickle.

and turned my attention to a little sweater I’d started while you weren’t looking.  On a trip into Lettuce Knit last Wednesday Megan had all the yarn to make Tulip baby sweaters kits up, and I felt something in me start to give way.  After the last time I went on a wicked jag with those sweaters I thought that I was alright. I thought that I’d knit the urge make a million of them right out of me – but there I was, standing in the shop and there they were, and I barely escaped with my bank account balance intact.  By Sunday, the feelings were overwhelming, and I found myself back in the shop, and before I could even stop it from happening, I’d bought a few of the kits – and to be completely honest, the only reason I only bought a few was because that’s all that was left in the store. I cleaned them out. If there had been ten kits I can’t say what I might have done. I really can’t.

I started one almost the minute I got home, and the very second my socks were done, all I could think of was the baby sweater. The stripes. The colour changes. The little seed stitch borders and the tiny attached i-cord edges and… it’s the same as before. I was charmed again. Entirely, and sitting on the plane watching it grow on my needles, I remembered that half of their charm – at least half, is how fast they go.  Worsted weight yarn on 4.5mm needles, all for someone who’s chest size is only about 40cm? (16") Shazam.  By the time I’d landed here I was almost done a sweater, except for the attached i-cord, which I think we can all agree is a bit of a pain in the arse.  That got done in the evening, and by yesterday, the thing had gone for a bath and was blocking by the fire here at Port Ludlow, and then sitting amongst the grass and flowers, finished and lovely.

I felt a little better then, but apparently – not quite all the way better, because now there’s another one on the needles, and I thought this morning about phoning Megan at Lettuce Knit and seeing how much it would jack up the price for her to overnight me a few more. 

I can’t believe I’m here again. These sweaters are like my kryptonite. I’ve never met a pattern/yarn combo that was so disarming to me. Sure, I’ve been on knitting jags before – there’s nothing weird about that, but twice, with the same sweater? Multiple incarnations of the same sweater? I’m a little worried, especially since I’m already making plans for stopping knitting them not because I’m through with them and it’s run its course, but because I’m not sure it’s healthy to continue.

Anyone else? Not with this sweater (although I would like to hear about that too) but an enduring knit obsession with one pattern – something more than a simple jag? Anyone?


I knew it this morning.  I got up (at 4am.  I can’t tell you how much I hate the lunatic who books my flights.  Hint: it is me.) and I looked at all the knitting on the chesterfield and I began to make executive decisions.  I knew what knitting I was taking, I sorted that out before I even thought about what clothes to take… I just had to decide what projects were going carry on, and which I would put in my suitcase and check.

I tossed the March socks in my bag – I’d just finished the gusset decreases, and had the better part of a foot to go, and I thought that was likely enough.  Giotto’s a very pretty pattern, but I’m not finding it quick, so the socks would carry me.
I straightened up, put the rest of the knitting in my suitcase, and had a cup of coffee.  With a little caffeine in me, I thought a little better of my plan, and added a baby sweater.  Insurance, I thought, and then I was sure.  A baby sweater and the socks?  Lots.  The baby sweater was barely started too, so that would be it for sure.  I zipped everything else into the suitcase, went to the airport, checked my bag and regretted it instantly. 

I’m underyarned.  I could tell as soon as I was parted from my other bag. I’m not sure if I couldn’t feel it because technically the bag and I were still together, and maybe that meant I was within its sphere of influence – so maybe I had the physical feeling of having enough yarn, and only when it was removed did my instincts kick in.. I don’t know.  All I know is that I finished the sock pretty promptly on the flight to Vancouver, and now I’m making short work of the baby sweater and I think I’m still about 2 hours away from being reunited with my other yarn and I’m a little worried about it. 

I might run out, and I’m surprised that after years and years and years of knitting, and years of flying a lot, that I have now, with all this experience, failed to combine the two well.  Not only do I usually have enough yarn with me, I usually have enough for unexpected delays, layovers and any other emergency.  I’m simply not into yarn risk.

This wasn’t just a mistake.  This was like taking a tired, hungry two year old to the grocery store at 5pm and walking them by the candy counter.  Like not buying wrapping tape on Christmas Eve even because you think you have lots at home. Like holding a baby while wearing a silk blouse right before you take your family portraits and not bothering to toss a receiving blanket over your shoulder.

Rookie move man.  Rookie move. 


What I wish I was doing:


What I am doing:

Packing, cleaning, emailing, sorting, organizing and cutting thrift store sweaters into small squares.  Yup. Sock Camp week. I leave tomorrow, and once again, I’m cramming 29 hours of work into about 14. I’m actually getting good at it.

We might need a new system

Every work morning, Joe gets up a little before me, puts his bath on, and then goes downstairs to make coffee.  I get up when the coffee is ready.  Getting up and having a cup of coffee in my hand thirty seconds after rising is really one of the things that moderates my normally horrific morning personality. If I have to make the coffee then that whole first 20 minutes of the day need to be really gentle, quiet and settled.  There can be no challenges of any sort until I’ve got glorious caffeine flowing into me – and I think the fact that Joe makes that happen is one of the most loving and sensible things he does for me. That’s why it’s particularly heartbreaking that the system might have to go.

Joe’s always been sort of challenged by coffee making, and recently we got a new coffee maker that just seems to be beyond his talents.  As a matter of fact, right here might be a good time to mention that we got a new coffee maker because Joe destroyed the last one in a really incredible scene. Let’s mark down the things Joe has done to coffee makers.

1. Washed the pot,  dumped the old grounds, ground new coffee, added the grounds, added water and turned the coffee maker on — and neglected then to replace the pot under the drip thingie, so that when the water started dripping onto the grounds in the filter basket, it filled up, overflowed and backed up grounds into the water resevoir – so that the intake hose thing got full of grounds, and a coffee flood ensued. 
Result: dead coffee maker. No coffee.

2. Joe got a new coffee maker to try and manage my anger.  This one grinds the beans and then makes coffee.  Joe thought it might be better if it did more things so he had to do less.  This isn’t exactly a crime against coffee, but it was such a faulty premise that I feel justified in listing it.

3. Added beans, added water, replaced carafe… but sadly forgot to take out the grounds from the day before so that the whole system was overloaded.
Result: No coffee, and substantial coffee flood.

4. Added beans, added water, replaced carafe, didn’t turn maker on.
Result: No coffee, but at least we bounced back from that one with just some frowning and desperation.
*note: this led to several attempts to manage the timer.  Not worth it.

5. Added beans, added water, turned maker on, but didn’t empty the previous days leftovers out of the pot, thus resulting in coffee overload.
Result: No coffee. Coffee flood.  Discouraging attempt by husband to drink horrible yesterday/today coffee combo.

6. Added beans, added water, turned maker on, emptied carafe, replaced carafe, but didn’t check to see if there were enough beans.
Result: Whole potful of demoralizing coffee scented water.

7. Added beans, ground beans, added water.. emptied carafe, replaced carafe, but sadly, got distracted by email and didn’t add full measure of water.
Result: Coffee syrup. Interesting invention, possible application on ice cream, but not drinkable at 7am.

8. Added beans, cleaned filter, ground beans, washed carafe, replaced carafe, added water, turned maker on.  Sadly, left filter on the counter, so half of the grounds washed into carafe, and the other half then plugged the drippy hole thing.
Result: Undrinkable coffee… AND a coffee flood, complete with grounds.

9. Added beans, cleaned filter, replaced the filter, ground HALF THE BEANS added all the water. Turned coffee maker on.
Result. Water that was almost coffee in an awful way that gave you hope by looking like coffee, smelling like coffee and yet NOT BEING COFFEE.
Predictable additional result: Wife holding cup, weeping softly, wondering how there can always be a new way for him to do this.

10. (Today.) Added beans- enough beans,  cleaned filter, replaced filter, washed carafe, replaced carafe, added the right amount of water – turned maker on, only to discover that the chute that the ground beans travel was clogged with other grounds, suffered coffee scented water again, used crochet hook to clean said chute, repeated process including crochet hook maneover, before finally, on the third attempt – making a pot of coffee.
Result: Coffee – but out of beans. Dry grounds spread for miles. Several kitchen cloths dirtied in the attempt, slightly odd vision of cat eating small mountain of dry ground coffee off floor and…

Wife saying to husband something like "How can you be so really, really smart and still not be able to do this?" and husband replying with the immortal words:

"I dunno honey.  I think maybe I need to drink coffee before I can make coffee."

If I could buy a Wednesday

This Wednesday finds me chained to my desk, totally owning the giant hot mess of emails that are bearing down on me like a wildebeast.  It’s only a few days until I leave for Sock Camp, only a few months until Sock Summit, and were I to tell you of the number of emails and the amount of spreadsheets those events land on my desk, you would need reviving with a delicate skein of pale blue laceweight – but that problem is mine and not yours and you really come here for the wool, so let me tell you that if I could buy a Wednesday the way you can buy a vowel on Wheel of Fortune, then I would spend it being way farther along on my fleece washing than I am.

I started yesterday, filling the sink with hot water and dish soap (my fleece scour of choice – I’m horribly low tech) and lock washing a few bits of fleece here and there, mostly while I was on the phone doing businessey things.  (I labour under the delusion that while I was standing in front of the sink, carefully washing sheep shite out of fleece and discussing contracts, that it probably sounded like I was cleaning my house, which I wasn’t, and haven’t, but maybe a few people think I was, and that’s sort of good.)  I wash a few locks, rinse a few locks, and then pop them inside a folded tea towel and set them on a heat register to dry.

This is the first time I’ve tried drying fleece on the registers of a forced air furnace – until now I had a gravity furnace (which has no fan) and so I had to figure the tea towel trick pretty fast.  Until I did, I had wee puffs of wool flying through the air and off the register every time the heat came on- which is pretty frequent, since we’re having a big snow storm. (I don’t want to talk about that.)   This works better, results in fewer bits of sheep flotsam littering the house at random intervals – but is considerably less entertaining than locks of wool  pretending to be birds.

It is also, in case you were wondering, an innovative way to fill the house with a smell that makes it clear you’re into sheep.


One Wee Sheepie

I had a wonderful weekend in Michigan at the Spinning Loft. Beth’s a wonderful hostess, the students were bright and fun to be with, and I hope everyone had as good a time as I did.  That’s not what I want to talk about though.

There’s a certain risk in hanging around with Beth. She sources, collects and sells a lot of breeds of fleece. In her shop, there are (be still my heart) thirty-five different breeds to be had, and that’s just in the wool department. (Denny walked away with some beautiful cotton to spin- and I almost got some too, until I remembered that I suck at spinning cotton, and that I was going to work on getting better at it with what I have before I added more to the stash.) I was tempted by some beautiful cormo- but I was on a bit of a mission.  I’d had a poke around the shop and didn’t see what I wanted, and casually, over a cup of tea, I told Beth what I was after. A little Jacob, I said.  Not too big, with lots of colour variation. Jacobs are a rare breed of sheep, only about 5000 in the world, with spots and horns. I love them for a lot of reasons – a good Jacob can be very soft and even and pretty, with a fine, even crimp through the fleece- but what really turns my crank is that they aren’t just one colour. They might be brown and cream, brown, cream and white, black and white or cream, or be all sorts of grey.  They’re a fascinating heirloom breed. The next morning when I saw Beth, she had a couple of big bags.  Turns out that what she’s got in the shop might just be the tip of the iceberg, because she’d gone out to her garage and come back in with two beautiful Jacobs.  The first one was mostly black and white, and a very nice fleece, but it wasn’t what I wanted.  Then Beth opened the second bag, and it turned out to be a little lilac Jacob.  Now, I know lilac usually means pale purple, but in a Jacob, it means greyish brown.  This one was perfect. Beautiful soft, several shades of grey on a creamy base.

I liked it, but I didn’t love it, not until Beth took a lock of the wool to the sink and gave it a little wash.  We both just about fell over.  That yellowy/creamy wool washed out to the most beautiful snow white.

I grabbed two more locks from other parts of the fleece and washed those too.

All the colours washed up more beautiful than I’d imagined.  More grey than I expected…

and with that, I bought the fleece, because I imagined a shawl – a shawl sort of like this one from Three-cornered and Long Shawls (Love that book) with stripes that reflect the original colouring of the Jacob who made it.  I don’t think I’ll do any blending – just divide the fleece into the colours that are present (I see four or five distinctive shades) and then wash and spin it into a simple two ply, somewhere in between a lace and fingering weight.  Jacobs are pretty little, so it’s only about 1300 grams (or 3lbs, depending on your figuring.) and that’s way, way more than I’ll need.

I think I’m a little in love with this little sheepie, and I’m ever so glad that Beth has a fleece fetish.  I’m pretty excited about seeing if I can make the shawl I’m imagining a reality.

Quickly and Randomly

1. I’m leaving in about a half an hour to drive to Michigan with Denny.

2. God I hate driving.  It’s all too life threatening.  One mistake – mine, someone else’s and there could be a fiery crash. It makes me extremely nervous.

3. Isn’t it bizarre that when fire becomes fiery, the i and the e swap places? Wouldn’t you think that fiery would really be firey? 

4. Denny and I take a lot of roadtrips.  We’re good at it, but usually That Rachel H comes too.  Rachel and I split the driving, and Denny sits in the back seat and establishes a "craft zone".  

5. That Rachel H can’t come this time because she has a stupid job. (I mean, the job’s not stupid – but not being able to come is.)

6. Denny doesn’t drive.

7. I have a sneaking suspicion that Denny is still planning on sitting in the back seat in her craft zone while I sit up front alone. 

8. I’d be willing to bet you that at some point, she’s going to call this "Driving Miss Denny."

While Shopping

I was out shopping today with one of the girls and my Sister-in-Law Kelly, in what Sam calls "VV Boutique" (Value Village – it’s a chain of  secondhand thrift shops) and not only did I get a brown skirt for about $5, but as Kelly was cruising the book aisles, she saw this.

That’s right.  It’s the big time. One of my books in a thrift shop. That’s a first for me. 

Also interesting? Shelved next to a book called "A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers."  Think on that for a while. I wasn’t bothered (at least, not by the book going to the VV, the dictionary for lovers thing still has me a little bothered) my book was discarded along with Barbara Kingsolver , Margaret Atwood , Alice Walker , Mary Lawson and a copy of The Thorn Birds , and I love all those books.  Probably, as Kelly cheerfully pointed out, someone with great taste in books died and all their stuff went to the VV. Yeah.  That’s it.)

Besides, I didn’t think about it much, because something more shocking was happening on another shelf. 

Three seasons of Stargate SG-1

and the whole first season of MacGyver .

Obviously, someone has a way bigger problem with Richard Dean Anderson.

I know what girls like

This week is the March Break, and so I have a teen around, in as much as teens are around – and if you have one, you’ll know just what I mean.

Since I don’t have a lot of time with mine, I decided that this week we would do things that she liked, and I would like them too, just so that we could spend time together.  Trouble is, what do teenaged girls like?  After a great deal of research (not only was I a teen girl myself – I have had three) I can tell you that this is the stuff that goes over really well.

1. Expensive things. The more money it costs, the better they like it.  I use this to my advantage by making sure I complain bitterly about the expense.  Makes them feel special when I fold and buy whatever it is, even though I was always going to buy whatever it was. and even though it isn’t very expensive.

2. They like stuff that has to do with their physical selves.  Manicures. Waxing things.  Stuff you paint on yourself.  Cream that allegedly does things to your skin.  (Hint: The more "action" a product has, the more they like it. Aim for products that have verbs in their marketing. Lengthening, lifting, correcting, shining, enhancing, bronzing, boosting… anything like that.)

3. They will love it if you hate it.  This goes for everything, especially boys and skirt lengths.

4. If you love it, they will hate it. See above.

5. They will love it if you look really stupid in it, near it, by it, around it or can’t do it.  (This, I believe, is the primary draw of skateboards.)

That’s all I’ve got.  Good luck, and stay strong.

Alpaca Has That Kind of Power

The weather here has continued to be the nastiest sort. Not unbelievably cold (I’ll be sorry I said that) but wet.  Every possible sort of wet. Snow, ice-pellets rain- and then all day yesterday it didn’t rain or snow, it just sort of slushed. Literally, slush fell from the sky, and it was just demoralizing.  It had all the worst qualities of every kind of precipitation, and none of the plusses. It wasn’t really rain, so you couldn’t take heart that it wasn’t that cold, but it wasn’t really snow, so you got soaking wet- it was, without a doubt, craptastic, and over poutine last night we discussed how completely hard on the system the days and days of grey and wet and melting and freezing and raining and snowing are on the system in March.  We’re all just so tired of it. (Really- this is the weather, we also noted, that poutine was invented for.)

This is also, I believe, what the planet had in mind for alpaca, especially chunky, bright cozy orange alpaca, and that’s what I’m knitting.  I’m tired of being cold, so it’s another Encompass on the needles, and this one’s for me.

It’s giving me hope that I’ll be warm, even though there’s no end in sight – but of course, even alpacas are covered by Murphy’s Law, so naturally- the weather should improve so that I don’t need it, just the minute I finish.

Either way, I figure I should knit as fast as I can.