Here’s the thing.  While I believe it’s possible to lead a completely secluded and private live, away from all human contact, relying only on oneself – and even though there are days when I fantasize pretty wildly about giving that a shot, the truth is that I think we all do better when we’re around each other.  It keeps us accountable, and reliable, and sane. We behave better because other people are watching, and for those of us given to impulsive flights of fancy that begin with phrases like "You know what would be fun…" or "How hard could it be?" having other people around can be an important sanity check.  That’s why yesterday surprised the heck out of me.  Normally, I say something like "I think I’ll knit a sweater in ten days" and either you guys come out and say that you think it’s crazier than a bag of wet weasels,  or someone like Rams, Presbytera or ThatRachelH will say something subtler like "Hold on, let me just get the popcorn, this should be fun to watch" and I get tipped off that my plan is a little dodgy.  I’ve learned that anytime one of those three thinks my life is going to be fun for them, then I know that it’s going to be as much fun for me as a Brazilian wax.  (Not that I’ve had a Brazilian wax, you understand – but I’ve seen pictures and mentally placed it in the same category as going for a 10 hour car ride with a difficult relative and no yarn. Just not going to happen.) 

Now, yesterday when I announced my plan to knit a sweater in ten days, only a few people said it was crazy and my three weathervanes said nothing (which by the way, was total cheating, since I know with certainty that 2/3 are occupied at present.)  The rest of you? I don’t know how fast you knit, I don’t know what sweater experiences you’ve had, and you didn’t even know what sweater I’m planning – so I felt like I didn’t have to take your warnings all that seriously.  I did see one comment from someone that regularly knits Rhinebeck sweaters, and does know me, and could guess what sort of sweater I’m planning, and that was Glenna, and she said:

I added a 2nd Rhinebeck sweater to my knitting when Rhinebeck was 2 weeks out, even though my 1st one isn’t quite done yet, so heck yes. You can totally do a sweater in 10 days, I believe in you!

I’m taking that to the bank.  Glenna would know. She knits tons of stuff, and designs tons of stuff, so that means this is a totally doable plan – and with that decision, I took my yarn (The very fabulous and sadly discontinued Classic Elite "Waterlily") and my pattern: Miss BB – and I started. 

Now, a sweater in ten days is a bit of a stretch (especially when I’m teaching two of those days – but whatever, I find it easier not to cloud the issue with facts and logic) and so I’m going to do a few things differently so that I reduce the chance for defeating errors. 

1. I made a swatch.

I admit, this swatch is small, but I don’t find them super reliable anyway – but I did knit it, and wash it, and feel great about it.

2. I started with a sleeve.  I did this because a) sleeves make great swatches.  They’re bigger, and way more reliable indicators of actual working gauge. b) It always comes down to the sleeves and I hate that. c) Sleeves are comparatively small parts of sweaters, and if a sleeve isn’t working out you can almost always come back from that. 

3. I am not going to put it in the oven.  At all.

At the end of last night I had a sleeve done, and I washed it, blocked it – and this morning it’s dry, and my gauge is still good – and I really like it, and I think it’s going to fit, and –

This could work.  It doesn’t feel too crazy at all. I admit, I could be just running on the high that a sleeve in a day gives any knitter, but I’m going to go with Glenna on this, and not think too much about the URL in the address bar for her blog.   Only forward.

PS. Thanks for saying the food looked yummy in yesterday’s post. It was!   The delicious looking brussel sprouts are from Canadian living, and they were outstanding, and the tart thing is a Potato Tatin from the great vegetarian cookbook Plenty, which is so fabulous it’s getting ridiculous action in our kitchen. I can’t recommend it enough, even for carnivores. Everybody eats veggies.

Done Done Start

It was Thanksgiving here this past weekend, and that means that I spent the weekend doing two things I like a lot that scrambled my life so large that I didn’t stagger back to the blog until now. I hung with my family, I cooked, and cooked and cooked, and we got together three times in three different places and incarnations and I have these pictures to show for it.

Photo credits for a couple of these to Katie.  Thanks Kate!

First, Yes. Hank’s hair is pink – and we think it’s great. Crazy hair is a great temporary way to express yourself and be a rebel without accidentally setting anything on fire or getting to know the local piercing guy really well.  Also, yes, I know little Luis figures largely in those pictures, but it’s his first Thanksgiving and I think it’s clear the whole family is totally and completely in love with him to a ridiculous and competitive degree.  Kate and Carlos walk through the door and it starts. Erin has him, Amanda wants him, his Nana and Grampa seem to think he has some kind of stake… my mum claims experience, and sees to feel that gives her rights, Megan and Samantha cruise around waiting to play peekaboo or score points and Ken just lurks nearby.  He relies on stealth.  At the end of the day, we can all agree on two things.  Lou is the best kid ever, and Erin’s a serious baby hog.  (That’s right.  I said it. We were all thinking it, and now it’s out in the open.  Baby. Hog.)  We’re going to have to arrange extra babies for Christmas or this is going to get ugly.

We got through the holiday with a minimum of drama and a maximum of fun, and all the food was great, with the exception of whatever the hell my mum really did to that pot to fill the whole house with that weird smoke… but that’s a pretty good year for this family.  It was really, really good, and as though it totally got the memo, the weather turned and was a perfect fall weekend.  As it got colder (2 degrees, but we did not turn on the heat – I think Erin and I are the only two playing furnace wars this year.. )  I realized that it’s Rhinebeck time, and that means it’s Rhinebeck sweater time… and then I put it out of my head for being crazy.  "Rhinebeck is only twelve days away" I told myself, and I decided against it – because I’m a mature and reasonable knitter like that.  Last night when there were eleven days before Rhinebeck I thought it over again – and almost fell for it.  This morning, I think I might have given up and decided to knit a sweater for Rhinebeck.  I mean, Why not wait to make that decision until there are ten days left? 

It’s 10:30 am as I write this.  I’ve got some yarn out from the cupboard, and I might have narrowed this down…

A sweater in 10 days?  Maybe.


Suki’s finished – and I’m totally happy with it – although really, how couldn’t I be?

The pattern was easy to work from beginning to end.  even the lace follows a simple geometric pattern that follows logically so you’re not a slave to the chart…

although even if it doesn’t make sense to you, it would be over quickly.

The yarn was a dream.  It’s Verb for Keeping Warm’s Kush.  65% Cashmere/35% silk, and it just can’t suck if it tries.  The scarf is ridiculously soft, and is probably only going to get softer with wear.

I asked Sam to model it before she went to school this morning, and as I was taking the pictures I thought to myself how funny it is that every time I put up pictures of one of the ladies (They can all vote. I’ve got to stop calling them "the girls") I straightaway get some really, really nice emails from some of you guys saying (and I’ll paraphrase here)  "Wow, it’s amazing how co-operative and lovely your daughters are about the knitting, my kids just roll their eyes and make annoyed faces and it’s so great that your children aren’t anything like that, you must be a great mum."

Then I laugh so hard at my desk that the cat looks at me funny.  Sam and I have an unspoken rule that she will model knitting if it takes no more than five minutes***, and I respect that – so the whole shoot happened in less than that.  Here’s the other pictures.

This is a shot I like to call  "How has my life come to this,  I feel dead inside".

This is an expression we like to call "That guy from down the street just saw us taking pictures of me in a shawl. I’d kill you, but I need to ask for $5.  Never mind. I’ll just kill you and take your purse."

Or this one? I’m pretty sure what she’s thinking in this instant is that she loves and respects my work so much that she jshe’s struggling to resist the urge to hug me….or strangle the very breath out of me with her bare hands… but I think it’s the first one. 

This is clearly either "I think I look fabulous in this, I hope it is my Christmas present" or maybe "SPREAD THE LACE OUT SO IT SHOWS BETTER???  YOU ARE SO WEIRD I CAN’T STAND IT."

This is obviously "I have the bestest mummy in the whole wide world."

and this one?
You might think this is thinly veiled rage that her mother can’t do something normal for a living, like run a meth lab or pole dance for tourists…

but it’s really just a normal, healthy reaction to the dawning realization that  wearing a shawl for your mum’s knit blog is actually what you’re going to have to do for bus fare. 

** If by "unspoken agreement" you understand that she said "I swear if this takes more than 5 minutes I’m going to kill you." 
She said it with love though.  She loves shawls.

Two things

Natalie, sitting at her desk in my dining room (for the four hours a week she has to tolerate me) can tell you that I have not yet found the bad seed, and the house is still a mess, or what I would call a mess, or whatever. Today I’m throwing out half of the stuff on her desk, so that might help. Instead of fretting about the loss of control (and therefore knitting time) that’s going on around here, lets have a bit of a flashback… shall we?

Thing the first: Last week I taught and spoke at StevenBe.  This is a hard shop to describe – a lot of you are going to look at the pictures and think it was over the top – and yeah. It was… but it was over the top in a fun, campy way that reeked of kindness and knitters looking for a good time. 
This is the StevenBe shop:

Please note the boudoir-esqe teaching space. Totally over the top.

This is the man himself – he also, is over the top.

This is his amazing staff (great staff.)

and this is how his staff looks at him half the time. (I love the look on her face, like "Sure Steven, sure.  You lunatic.)

This is how the crowd looked the night of the talk.  There are some amazing knitters in Minneapolis.  (I am not even kidding about that.)

Thanks for coming out to play guys.  It was a blast and a half.

Thing the second:

I finished some great socks.  I love this yarn – Gypsy Girl Creations, Transitions, in Mountain Home.  It wasn’t exactly my colours but I was so charmed by the idea that I bought it anyway. 

I started toe-up, because I wanted to use every inch, and then ended up being pretty long socks.  I had to do a little shaping in the back, actually – to allow for how high up they got.

It was at that point that I thought maybe they were too high, or maybe I should have made them for bigger feet, so they wouldn’t go so high – but I was still helpless to stop.

I like them now. They’re long socks, but they’ll be warm in the winter –

and winter is coming. 

Maybe it is the Tupperware

Something is happening. 
This thing is happening all over the house.  I’ve cleaned the kitchen.  Twice, in fact, since I got back from my trip- but you wouldn’t know it.  I clean the daylights out of it, and within hours, heck, it might ever be  minutes – it slides back into it’s pre-cleaned state. I don’t know how this is occurring, since I’m not in the room when it happens… oh no.  I’m in the living room cleaning that like a sucker, because that scene won’t stay sorted either.  It’s the same all over.  I simply can’t get any traction on it.  I wash the dishes – there are more.  Right away.  The same number, along with a coffee cup that I found under the couch that probably has permanent coffee in it now.  (As an aside? Why Joe? Why put the coffee cup under the couch? I beg you, I just need a reason.  Was it secret coffee? Did someone arrive while you were drinking the secret coffee, and you had no choice but to ram it under the couch, concealing your caffeine? Were you reorganizing the furniture? Was there a table there when you put the cup down – but then you decided the couch should go back there after all, and so the couch sort of went over the coffee by accident?  Did someone come over, and you offered them a coffee, and then they put the cup under there to get you in trouble, because really Jody has always been like that? There has to be an explanation Joe, because really, it can’t be that a 43 year old man hauled off and started putting his coffee cups crazy places because his wife was in Texas and there was no-one to stop him.  It can’t be that. )

It wasn’t a surprise that the house was trashed when I came back.  The only person in the house who knows that the kitchen floor isn’t self cleaning can’t leave a teenager and a man who was born without the ability to see dirt alone in a house and expect any different.  They do their best, but I know that Joe made a special commitment to cooking this time around, and I know there’s no way he could cook and clean.  Something was going to blow, and it did.  (There was a pretty good quinoa salad in the fridge when I got here though.)  Like I said, the surprise isn’t that I need to clean and organize.  The surprise is that it won’t stay that way.  I can’t get any traction on the cleaning.  I do laundry, there’s no less laundry. I buy groceries, that afternoon we’re still out of apples and toilet paper.  I clear the accumulated junk off the dining room table, and the clutter is like dust.  It re-settles like I all I did was throw it into the air and leave the room. I clean, and the house un-cleans itself.  I can’t get it to really take hold and stay clean.  The whole thing is so hysterically funny that I can’t strop laughing – if by that you understand that I’m thinking about moving out and living in a tree in the park, it’s that funny. 

Anyway, here’s the thing.  As my friend Debbi would say, this isn’t my first rodeo, and I know what is going on here.  There’s a bad seed. 
Somewhere in this house, there’s an item of junk mail, or an old tee shirt, or a coffee cup that’s in the wrong place, and it’s contaminating the rest of the field of play.  The house is going to keep on resisting the clean and I won’t be able to get any traction at all, until I find this thing – correct it, and carry on. 

Sadly, there is no way to know what this object is.  The bad seed lurks, but it does not reveal itself.  Could it be one of the 23 sweaters hung by the front door? Won’t know until I put them all away.  Perhaps it is the old hydro bill jammed into Joe’s winter bin on the shelves? Gotta clean out the whole bin to find out. It might not be that at all.  It could be one of the nineteen half used shampoos in the bathroom that are there because Sam really believes that they do what they say they do and some days you want extra shine, and some days it’s all about volume.  No way to know.  I’m going to have to find a way to manage the nineteen shampoos before I know. 

Anyway, that’s a long way around saying that I’ll post tomorrow about the trip and the knitting and all that, but if you need me today, I’ll be ranting about bad seeds in my kitchen while disposing of all the expired vitamins.
Victory will be mine.