This morning, at 8:20 am – official knitter time, I’m pretty sure I snapped.  It didn’t look too bad.  I’m a woman of considerable reserve, so even under tremendous pressure I am not the sort of person who cries or screams in an airport if they take leave of every bit of sense they ever had.   No, no – I’m pretty sure that this morning’s complete breakdown in an airport looked a lot like a woman drinking coffee in the Air Canada Lounge.  Only the perceptive would have seen that I was paralyzed for about 10 minutes.

8:20 this morning would have been the time exactly that I looked in my bag and realized that I am headed into about nine hours of travel, and I have left my sock in progress on the coffee table at my house,  where I carefully put it right in my path, in a clever little knitting bag so it would be all safe and toasty, just like always.  I’ve left the house times over the years, and I’ve forgotten my keys, my purse, my jacket, my credit card… hell… one amazing time I even left the house one kid short of a full load, but never, ever, ever have I  FORGOTTEN MY SOCK KNITTING.  Who am I? How does that happen?  I know I’m tired and I know that this month and this week in particular has been taxing, but forgetting your sock in progress is like forgetting to chew food or breathe.  I never forget my sock.  Never, ever, ever, ever.  Never – like the way I never kill people, or never scream in airports, or never cry in public, or never slap anyone – and for the record, I think the way I never do those other things is directly related to how I never forget my sock, and that should scare the snot out of everyone in a 20m radius of me today.

There’s some comfort – and let’s hope it’s enough to keep me out of prison.  I may be a woman on the edge, but I am still me – so there happens to be a random bag of cascade 220 scraps I was swatching stitch patterns with stuffed in the bottom of my bag-  totally by accident.  I’m packing a pair of cranky old knitting needles, one of which has a broken end – I have no idea why they’re in my bag, but at least it’s something.  It’s not enough to take me nine hours, but I can knit, rip back and re-knit those scraps all the way to Seattle.

It won’t be perfect, but at least it will keep my from biting people.  I think.
Seriously.  Who forgets their sock?

Photo essay

I decided to take today and cozy up with Sam on the couch, knitting, resting, preparing for this weekends retreat in Port Ludlow, watching the US election and eating Mu Shu vegetables. (Since someone will ask for the recipe, it’s in this cookbook. We’re vegetarians, not vegans (although we eat that way about 90% of the time now) but Sam talked me into buying this book.  Turns out that even though I instinctively mistrust the cooking instincts of very skinny young women who don’t eat cheese, it’s really awesome.) I only have today and tomorrow before I fly again, and a day with my kid was at the top of my to-do list. (For the record, absence really does make the heart grow fonder – even for teenagers. She likes me as much as I like her right now. That or she’s faking, and I don’t care if she is. I’ll take it.) To free up time for her, you’re getting a photo essay of some of the best things I saw in England.  Thanks for hanging in there with me while I’m short time this month, and for my American friends, happy election day. Good luck.  In the meantime:  Across the Pond in pictures.


I’m back, arriving last night and now drinking coffee through the worst of my jet lag, but I’m a moron who forgot her computer power cord in England (Joe stayed behind, he’ll bring it home in a few days.) I’m scrambling to get things settled here and borrow a cord. In the meantime, blogging from my phone is tricky – so more pictures and words will need to wait until tomorrow.

I hope you are all well – and that those of you on the Eastern seaboard are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. For those who asked, we fared well through Sandy. Joe and I were worried about leaving the house alone, flying out as we did just as Sandy arrived, but we have only very minor damage. Our neighbourhood was the hardest hit in Toronto – many old trees down, squashed cars and homes, power outages, fires, and tragically, a life lost.
Compared to the huge damage in the US and the even greater consequences through the Caribbean, Toronto was lucky.

More tomorrow, and thanks for worrying.

The way back

In your house, I bet – is your stash.  Not just your yarn, but your books, your tools,  your half finished projects, some of the things you’ve made… we all have a legacy that we keep around us when we’re textile artists.  Deeply personal collections of tools, fibres and items that we use to do what we do, the way we do it.  Now imagine that you’re not simply a textile artist… but that in addition to that, you’ve been a textile artist, full-time, your whole life.  Imagine you teach the textile arts. Write books about them. Give classes, make videos – imagine that you are fully immersed, and it is literally your life. How you spend your time, what you do for a living… Imagine that you are the artist in residence at an arts centre, and you teach there too.  Now imagine what you would have there. What you would keep in that space to show people, to help pass along what you do, and create a whole new generation of textile artists.

Now imagine that building burns to the ground. Ashes.  Nothing left. The whole building, and all the stuff you had in it- gone in a single night.
Imagine what you would have lost, and how you would feel… and then know this. 

On Monday, October 29th, the Rainforest Arts Center, where Judith MacKenzie is the artist in residence, burned like that. Absolutely everything is gone. Several looms. Fourteen spinning wheels – yarns, spinning fibre, a library of textile books… things Judith needed to teach both at the arts centre and at events like SOAR, Sock Summit and Fibre Festivals.

As you will be imagining now, this is a tremendous loss, both to the community, and to Judith personally.  Judith is a dear friend of mine, and someone I look up to, and am inspired by, and I know that she’s a mentor and guiding light to almost everyone she’s ever taught, and I know that there are thousands and thousands of us.  Her other friends know this too, and so in response to the fire, there’s a website here:

Rebuild Judith’s Studio

and, as I’m hoping you’re hoping… a nice donation button you can use to help.  There’s other stuff there too, like the start of a wish list of things Judith needs in order to teach.  That list, the site, all of this is just the beginning of figuring out how to put her textile life back together, and if you have a little money, or some tools, or anything that you think could help re-equip her, I know that her friends and I would be very grateful, and that Judith would be… well.  I don’t even have words for what Judith would feel.  She would never, ever ask for this kind of help. Judith is remarkable and resourceful and independent and proud and I know too, that although she would never show it,  this has to be one of the most devastating losses of her life.  I know that, because I know how it would hurt me, and you know how it would hurt you. 

It will take a long time for her to rebuild what she’s lost – and some of the things really are irreplaceable – but this community takes care of its own, and Judith MacKenzie?  She’s definitely ours. 

Thanks in advance. Peace out from Oxford.  Pictures tomorrow.