Jammie Day

 I got up this morning and staggered downstairs, making only a minor attempt to cough up my right lung as I did so – which is a considerable improvement in my health, so I put in a load of laundry and made coffee and surveyed the disaster that we’re calling a home. Joe and Sam were on their own for a week, and it shows. Sure, they do dishes, and cook and clean – Joe had fresh sheets on the bed for me when I arrived home, and I noted the freshly cleaned bathroom with as much glee as I could muster, but when I’m not here,  the house just sort of comes unglued.  That’s the only way I know how to put it. It’s like whatever fragile system that holds this house together needs me to work, and when I’m gone these tenuous bonds disappear and the whole house starts falling apart like something out of a science fiction movie.  For example, last Friday when I left, I owned five laundry baskets.  Today, I appear to have two and there’s no word on where the others might be. Everything in the fridge smells funny and there’s ice cream, but no bread, and it turns out it must be me who sorts the mail, because there’s a mountain of it on the dining room table along with Joe’s 25 year old Royal Canadian Sea Cadet uniform, which I really can’t explain, except to think that as the systems that run the house dissolved they ravelled the continuity of time while they went. 

We could use some groceries, I really should unpack and sort out all my teaching stuff, and I have a huge backlog of email and work to do – the scope of what I should be accomplishing today is amazing, and yet, I can’t do it.  I really can’t.  I don’t seem to even be able to get dressed, and while I managed to toss that single load of laundry in, that was apparently the sum total of all the housework I can bring myself to face.  It doesn’t make sense, because last week when I felt like death I kept on trucking, and here I am today, feeling a ton better and I’m sitting around in my jammies. There’s a discordance between what I should be doing and what I am doing, and I can’t even seem to work up the energy to care. Normally taking a day off like this, I mean really, really taking a day off, not doing hardly anything when things really need doing makes me feel sort of guilty, but not today. I’m tired.  I have the tail end of this wicked cold/flu/black death, and yesterday I fell off my bike (literally) and you know what?

I feel like I have a lot of knitting to do today, and that I might have a nap, and screw the laundry. Screw it.  There’s absolutely nothing in this house that’s so important that it can’t wait a day for a sane, healed, healthy woman who can think in straight lines to do it.  The kitchen floor doesn’t even care if it’s clean, it’s inanimate, and if that email waited three days, it can wait four. 
I’m taking a day, I’m kicking this colds arse, and I think I can finish the wingspan I started Saturday night, and that feels plenty productive to me.

Dashing

 I’m finding it really hard to blog this week, but I’m going to try and do better.  I’m travelling and teaching, driving my car around Lake Erie. So far it seems a lot like sleep, drive, teach, drive, sleep, drive, teach – you get the idea.  I’m also struggling with what I’ve been trying to convince myself is a bad cold, but is seeming more and more like the plague as it refuses to give up its hold on me. I stagger into the hotel room and collapse into the closest bed each night and think about blogging for about 20 seconds before falling asleep in a nest of tissues, tea and bottles of water.  I’m finally feeling a little better but last night as I arrived in Indiana my voice left me at the state line, and this morning, it wasn’t back.  On my way to Knitting Today (my friendly host here) I panicked and staggered into a drug store, walked up to the pharmacist and whispered "Help me."  He suggested sign language, and then a bunch of other stuff, all of which helped enough to let me croak, cough and whisper through a six hour class enough to communicate pretty well I think.  (I hope, anyway.)

Unbelievably, I’m enjoying teaching and meeting knitters anyway, which must mean that the knitters and shops I’ve been in are darned nice indeed- to be able to make up for the plague. The first night on the road (in Sarnia, where I had a lovely time at Feather Your Nest, just lovely) I finished my Color Affection/Infection/Addiction/Affliction and I washed it in the hotel sink, then blocked it on the bed and left a note for housekeeping explaining that it was a hand knit, and how I was drying it, and how it was okay not to worry about making my bed or anything. 

When I came back, the lady had written "Ok – this is nice" on the note.

It is nice too. 
(I took these pictures three metres from my hotel.  Indiana looks just the way you imagine it does. )

Yarn was BMFA lightweight in Winter Solstice, Sky Blue, and A Hazy Shade of Blue. I’ve already worn it a couple of times, and tossed it into my hotel room nest of a bed each night for a snuggle. It’s super cozy. 

I thought knitting one would get it out of my system…but on Friday night Sarah- The Plucky Knitter herself, gave me some yarn, and then I might have bought one to go with and now the only thing standing between me and another one is a swift, ball winder and the little sweater I’m trying to bash out for Lou.

It’s coming along really, really slowly, since the only knitting time I’m really getting is at red lights in the car (which is where it’s posed in that picture) and I’ve had to split that time between knitting and blowing my nose.  (It’s a super elegant scene in my car these days, let me tell you.)  Still, I am feeling (if not sounding) better today, and maybe I’ll cut loose and stay up past 8:30 tonight and make some real progress.

Dear Kelly

I know it’s hard for you, to be Auntie Kelly and to be so far away from little Lou, so that’s part of the reason I wasn’t really totally pissed when you dropped off a basket of baby sweater chunks (with no pattern, I’m just saying) and high-tailed it home to Madagascar, leaving behind only the admonishment  to make sure  Lou didn’t outgrow the sweater before I sewed it up and dropped it off.

Also, the Auntie’s have to stick together, so I told you I would sew it up, but then I sort of didn’t. 

I saw Lou on Saturday, and then I was going to see  him again last night for a little celebration, and I realized I’m leaving today to go away for a week and that meant another week would go by without me doing this sweater, and so I busted a move.  I worked on it before dinner, on the way to dinner (we picked up your mum) and at dinner, and somewhere around the cheesecake and champagne, a sweater was born.

I think it looks pretty good.

I put it on Lou, and we started going over the basics of sweater modelling.  We tried a serious face…

and then I told him that babies should really smile in pictures, because you want to leverage the cute while you’ve got it.

Lou got it right away.

Anyway Kelly, I bet you miss him, and I just want to tell you that last night on a cold, rainy night in Toronto, your nephew and mine was snuggled in the sweater that two aunties built (mostly you) – and I think he was pretty cozy.
That sweater is going to fit him for a long time. I rolled the sleeves up.

We miss you.

Love,

Steph

(PS.  Joe is getting a little better with him, but not really.)

(PPS. Next time dropping off the pattern with the sweater chunks would be great.)

(PPPS. Katie says this is now the only sweater Lou has that fits him.  That sounds like a mission to me.)

A New Retreat

As we were weaving in all the loose ends from our colour retreat last November, we started throwing around ideas for future retreats, what would be different, what would be fun. We were looking at some of the feedback we got, and noticed that many knitters had pointed out that our current class structure (a dye class, a knitting class, a spinning class) was fun, but left out those knitters who don’t (yet) spin. We sat down with the fabulous staff at Port Ludlow, and started to talk about what we could do instead of spinning, and the very first suggestion was brilliant, and we’re doing it. From June 22nd until June 26th at the Resort at Port Ludlow, we’ll try our first ever Gourmet retreat. The idea is for you to spend a little time with the nicest possible ingredients… both food, and fibre. Three days jammed packed with luxury fibers and yarns, beautiful foods and cooking, and anything we can think of to do with them. One day dyeing, one day knitting, and one day (be still your beating heart)- one day of gourmet cooking classes.

The Executive Chef at the Inn is Dan Ratigan, who’s not just a wonderful chef, but a skilled teacher and he’s got an amazing day planned. Your adventure will start at the farm, learning how to select the best ingredients. From there you’ll go with Dan into the classroom and start cooking dinner for the rest of your retreat knitters. Chef Dan will lead you though everything you need to create a nutritious, delectable and stunning dinner, teaching you skills that will improve every meal you ever make. From planning, prepping, cooking and plating, all the way through the steps of service, and how to choose the wines to go with your creation. (We both want to take this class from Dan so badly that we can hardly stand it.) The class ends in the dining room – when you serve the meal you created, and we all eat!

In the dye room, Tina Newton will help you work with all the amazing yarns, and how they can best meet their chromatic counterparts. We’ll learn about dyeing coloured yarns -how do you dye brown bison? You’ll create your personal recipes – not just any blue but your very own blue. We’ll delve into sophisticated palettes to go with our sublime yarns. Bring an apron it’s sure to get messy!

In the pretty room overlooking the water, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee will host an all day exploration of knitting with luxurious yarns and the tools that go with them, and how to make the most of these precious ingredients. What are the challenges of cashmere, bison, silk and angora? How do you use them to their best advantage… and how do you take care these valuable projects when they’re finished? If you’re afraid of spending the money on these yarns because you don’t know how to handle them? This is perfect.

The weekend begins when you check in on Friday night, when we’ll gather and welcome you in the Sunroom. Over the next three days, you’ll attend classes during the day (punctuated by gourmet meals) and spend the evenings relaxing and learning more about the fibers we’ll be learning to love in really fun ways. (Reeling silk, anyone?) On the last night we’ll have a Q&A and a show and tell, and part from each other sadly.

The price includes all three full-day classes, evening fun, all materials, and breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The food is fabulous, and we promise that there will be very good vegetarian options, and the same flexibility for those of you with food allergies that you’ve come to expect from Port Ludlow. Chef Dan is very excited about being part of our teaching team and we’re expecting even more beautiful food from him than usual – and that’s saying something.

Accommodations are separate and you will arrange those on your own. We have negotiated special prices with Port Ludlow, and there are some shared accommodations (condos and town-homes) if you’d like to come with your friends. We’ll give you the promo code when you sign up, and you can always day-trip if you live close by.

Price for the three day/three class intensive with meals:
$795. (Credit card or paypal are fine) All Materials (except tools) included.
Gift bags, presents and surprises forthcoming.

(If you’re a vendor and you’d like to talk to us about putting a little something gourmet (food, or yarn or anything) in the gift bags, just drop us a line. We’d love it.)

To register, simply send an email to registration@knothysteria.com with “Gourmet Retreat” in the subject line, and include your name, address and phone number and a good time to call you,  and we’ll ring you to arrange it. We’ll leave registration open as long as there’s room, but it’s an intimate retreat. Don’t wait too long.

Things I learned this week

1. If you teach your kids to knit, someday when they are 20 years old and they move you will experience the irony of having to carry their stash.

2. Megan labels boxes in a really great way. 


3. I’m giving my "This is Your Brain on Knitting Talk" on Friday night in Sarnia:  7pm, Quality Inn, Christina St N,  in “Winterbrooke Hall” put on by Feather Your Nest. Calling them will get you all the details you need I think – if you wanted to come, that is.  

4. If you get up and eat your regular breakfast, and then do something highly irregular (like right your bike 20k as fast as you can) then when you are done you will feel absolutely craptastic, until you eat something, feel instantly better, and remember that humans use food as fuel.  Duh.

5. If one time when you’re talking to your knitter sister-in-law, and tell her that you don’t mind doing the making up on knitting, it’s really only a matter of time until she drops a baby sweater off at your house in chunks, and then leaves for Madagascar.

I’ve got to sew this up for Luis before he outgrows her efforts.

6. It is really a lot easier to sew up a sweater if you have the pattern.

7. The border rows on the Color Affection/Infliction/Infection/Addiction are really long. 

8. Those long border rows do nothing to make me like it less though.  Already thinking about another one. 

9. I still enjoy pizza as much as I ever have.

10. If you start arranging your June Retreat at Port Ludlow right after coming back from your April Retreat at Port Ludlow then some people who work at Port Ludlow will think you’re trying to move there. Which you might be. Just in a really sneaky way. (More on that tomorrow, I think.)

11. I am never going to like my new washing machine as much as I loved Sir Washie. 

Looking Down

I’m about to tell  you that I’ve had a stressful few days – and anyone out there panics and worries, let me assure you that this is stress that is well within the range of normal for human beings, and totally the result of normal life stuff, and that I have already dealt with most of it by scrubbing the baseboards, which always affords me a great deal of satisfaction.  (I know some of you are just now thinking "I’m supposed to scrub baseboards? Who notices baseboards?" and I have two answers for you.  Yes, and me.  It’s a personal quirk.  I don’t know what to tell you -except that part of the reason I love cleaning them is that I do it so seldom that they’re really transformed by the process – so clearly my baseboard standards aren’t that high.) 

I spent the weekend doing Bike Rally stuff. (I told you I’m doing the rally this year – didn’t I?)  Saturday I got on my bike and did my second training ride, and a few things happened.  First, I finished. I don’t know how, considering that the ride was mystically uphill both ways and that it was so cold I couldn’t feel my hands on the handlebars.  The second thing that happened was that I got properly afraid.  That ride was a challenge, and it’s small potatoes compared to what the rally itself is – 600km over 6 days – Toronto to Montreal.  My sister and I comforted ourselves by saying that if we stick to the training schedule we’ll be fine, but I’m starting to think that we might have been using "fine" in a non-traditional way.  I’m just going to keep getting on my bike and riding far and hope that it all comes together.  It’s very scary. 

Sunday I went to the bike expo and did my required workshops.  I’m pleased to announce that I can now fix a flat on my bike – although not without swearing violently and creatively.  The instructor reassured me that the rally only requires that I can do it – not that I do it with any sort of grace – so I guess I’m okay.  (Even Sam changed her inner tube faster than I did. It was a bit demoralizing.)

Somewhere in all of that we did a bunch of family stuff, I unpacked from Sock Camp and started re-packing to go out the door on Friday  (See here, I’m on the road for a week.) and then magically managed to finish Ken’s Birthday Socks, which fall entirely into the category of Better Late Than Never.

I love knitting socks for Ken.  He always seems so pleased to have them, and since he’s a knitter himself, he knows how much work they are. 

Pattern: Francie, yarn Everlasting – in Congo.

The sharp eyed will note that I changed the toes.  I just whacked my standard favourite on there – I like it better.

More tomorrow, when I’ve got a grip on things here.  There’s more baseboards.