Good night, John Boy

It wasn’t going to work. She could see that now, as she looked at the shrinking ball of yarn beside her – and compared them to the number of stitches left to cast off.  Her hands almost shook as she squeezed it again, trying to estimate how much yarn was left.   The trouble had started two days before. The knitter was making a shawl out of handspun.  She’d found the pattern on Ravelry, sitting there, paging through the results of her search, getting up from time to time to pat the skein drying on the radiator by the back door.  There were lots of good options, I mean, there always are when you do a Ravelry search, you can lose a whole day to just choosing, but in the end it was the Moab Shawlette that she’d settled on.  It was simple, and had the comforting oatmeal look of garter stitch, and a simple geometric border on the edge that was charming.  Best of all, it was perfect for handspun – written for it, in fact.  All you had to do, the pattern said, was knit until you had half your yarn left, and then work the border. Easy enough, the knitter thought, and when the wool was dry, she’d waltzed over to the little drug dealer scale she kept in her office for just these moments.  A quick weigh in, and she was off.

A garter stitch shawl moves pretty quickly. Before too long she was just about at the halfway point, and after double checking her stitch count, she pulled the trigger on the border.  It felt like a million bucks – and when knitting feels good like that, it flies. Something wasn’t right though. The border was supposed to take half the yarn – so at the halfway point, she should have had half of the yarn left, but she had a funny feeling. “Knitter’s intuition” she thought, and wondered how many times she’d ignored that feeling. Probably a thousand times, maybe two thousand. That feeling you get when you’re knitting and you know something’s gone wonky, but you keep going, because why? Because the knitting faeries are going to come down in the night and fix what you know  is wrong? She looked at the yarn, she looked at the chart, and she decided that there was no freakin’ way that this ended with her sobbing into a coffee cup while thinking “Why did I keep knitting when I knew it wasn’t right?” She assessed the chart, and decided to cut a few rows out. “Better safe than sorry” she said to the yarn.

A few hours later, it was clear that things weren’t working out – that ball of yarn was shrinking really fast, too fast too work. There was no way the knitter was going to pull a dumbarse rookie move like running out of yarn – not when she could see it coming. The yarn shortage was like a truck bearing down on her. A big truck.  She pulled out an arms length of yarn, and tied a knot in the strand. Another length, another knot, until she had a bunch.  She started her next row, and every time she came to a knot, she untied it, and make a mark on a post-it. Seven.  At the end of the row she had untied seven knots, so it took seven arms lengths to knit a row.   She sat there, running the yarn through her hands, counting arms lengths.  Her instincts were right at the end of it. She had enough left for about eight more rows – that was it.

Looking over the chart, it was easy to see where to start. She’d work four more rows, then skip a few, then do the four rows of the edge. Simple – she started the row, then caught herself on the edge of a cliff.  The cast off row! She hadn’t counted the yarn for the cast off row – she started to tink back, one stitch at a time. That would have been bad. She would have run out for sure.  Almost smugly, she adjusted the pattern again. Two more rows of pattern, then the four for the edge – that would leave two rows worth for the cast off. “Plenty,” she thought, and with a nod to the yarn that said something like “What? Do I look new to you?” she embarked.

A while later, the smugness had faded. She’d finished the knitting and was about to start that cast off. The little remainder of the ball blinked at her, electric blue and tiny. “Uh, oh” she mumbled, and her husband looked up. “Yarn trouble?” he asked. “Maybe” she said, and thought about it. This is handspun. There is no more, nor any way to get any. If she’d misjudged this – man, would it suck.  There would be nothing for it but to go back – she re-checked her math. No – she hadn’t judged anything. This wasn’t a gut feel thing, this was a math thing. She’d measured the yarn. She’d measured how much it took to do a row – there was enough. Actually, there should be MORE than enough. She’d allotted two rows worth for the cast-off, even accounting for knitting more loosely as she finished, there should be lots. She looked at the yarn, and gave it fond little pat. “I’m keeping the faith” she said, and Joe looked over again, one eyebrow raised.

moablittlebit 2015-01-28

Many minutes later, the knitter paused, mid-cast off, and said something filthy, and then “Are you kidding me? ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME?” She’d glanced sideways at the yarn remaining, a huge mistake really.  If you’re going to keep the faith, then keep it, don’t peek and second guess yourself. It’s the opposite of faith, but still, that’s what she’d done, and it didn’t look good. She was afraid to stretch out the little bit of yarn that was left. “Wing of moth” she muttered, and imagined what came next. If she ran out, she was going to run out with just a few stitches unbound, maybe 20 – or fewer,  out of 300.  When that happened (“when”, she thought, “not if”) she was going to have to unpick the whole (*&*^%$$#ing cast off – then tink back a row, then cast off again and the whole edge would be wrong.  Should she stop now? Was it even worth trying? She spread the stitches out on the needle and tried to see how many were left. About half.  “Nerves of steel” she muttered, and kept going.

Thirty stitches later, then forty – she wasn’t out of yarn yet, but the length of what was left was shrinking at an alarming rate.  Sixty, then seventy – by now she had only about forty to go, and that length of yarn was so short that she was already planning the epic temper tantrum that she was absolutely going to have if she ran out. The farther the yarn went the closer the finish was going to be, and she couldn’t even imagine the size of the fit she’d pitch if she ran out with five stitches unbound.   Her phone dinged and she looked at the text without putting down her knitting. A friend was offering advice. “Knit really fast, that will help.”

Intellectually, that advice is crap. You can’t outrun yarn. Emotionally, however… she picked up the pace. There was no reason not to try. Fifteen stitches to go – her hand stroked out the remaining centimetres of yarn. She thought about the whiskey bottle in the kitchen. She thought about stopping there, because it would almost be better not to know. You know what they say about not going to bed angry. Losing a crazy game of yarn chicken wasn’t exactly going to be calming.  On the other hand, who can sleep with a game afoot?

She knit one stitch. Predictably, this used up some yarn. Another – then another, until there were only a few left, and all of a sudden it hit her. It was going to work. She wasn’t going to run out – she was going to make it. “Holy %^@&!!” She said aloud, startling the cat.

She knit the last few, pulled the tail through the last stitch, and laid the knitting on her lap. “Holy )*&*%$!!” she said again, and put her hands on it, holding it down like it might fly away.  “What just happened here?” Joe said, looking at her a little funny.  “I won!” She exclaimed.  “I didn’t run out!”

“Did you really think you would?” he asked, and the knitter just looked at him.

“OH YEAH.” she said. “OH YEAH.”

moablefteover 2015-01-28

“That, was a close one.”

moablefteover2 2015-01-28

moabdonewhole 2015-01-28

holdmoabup 2015-01-28

moabdonechair 2015-01-28

Mic drop. KNITTER OUT.



Process- time lapse

Have I mentioned to you (maybe not, because I still can’t quite believe it myself) that this year I’ve expanded my commitment to the Bike Rally? Maybe because I have trouble saying no, or maybe because I really, truly think that they’re changing the world a little bit, I agreed to be on the Steering Committee for the thing. It’s been a pleasure so far (if you like hard work, which apparently I do) but this last few days it’s taking more time than I thought. (This has a lot to do with my almost criminal inability to work a complex spreadsheet, and I’d rather not think about it. There’s a reason I keep my pastimes analog. Knitting? I can freakin’ ALWAYS work that.)   In lieu of a proper post, as I head downtown for another meeting (at least I can take a sock) I give you the last few days, in fibre pursuits. Enjoy.

coffeebookspin 2015-01-27

singles 2015-01-27

pliedonnoddy 2015-01-27

pliedonfence 2015-01-27

skein 2015-01-27

skeinwound 2015-01-27

almostdone 2015-01-27

See you tomorrow, and by the way? Thank you for the wonderful comments on Friday’s post.  I read them all. (Really. Always have.)


Dear Blog,

For Christmas last year, Ken gave me a very nice bottle of whiskey, appropriately called “Writer’s Tears”. I’ve been waiting for what seemed like an appropriate time to open it, and I just did. I’ve poured myself a tiny celebratory dram, and am sitting down to write to you.  I have done this (sitting down to write to you, not the whiskey part) thousands of times over the last eleven years. The very first time was January 23rd, 2004. Ken, in a move I still think was self-defence, gave me this blog as a present.  (I suspected then, and still do now, that as much as he likes knitting, he desperately wanted me to have someone else to discuss it with.)  That first day, I sat down at the computer, in the dining room – that was where we kept it then. We didn’t have laptops, just a big honking family computer in the dining room, where we could see what everyone was doing online – and I had a cup of coffee, and this crazy laminated sheet of paper beside me that had all these HTML codes on it.

It took me hours to write that first one. If I had known what I was starting, it would have been even more angst filled.  I wrote the words, then painstakingly figured out the HTML, and then hit post. In that moment, gentle readers, I swung open the doors to my virtual living room, and it was a decision I’ve never regretted for a moment.

In this house, we think of you as The Blog. I know I’ve told you that before, that even though I know that you are real people, and real individuals, and even though who comprises the blog shifts and changes from year to year – to us you are The Blog. To us, you are like a flock of birds, wheeling and existing together, swirling round and making a big community that we think of as a unit.  “What does the blog say?” “What will the blog think?” “I can’t wait to tell The Blog.”   I know that technically, the blog is the thing that I write, the posts that I put up. The collection of all the digital moments and ideas that I collect here, but that’s not really how we think of it.  I know I write a blog, but to us, our whole family, there is the blog – what I write, and The Blog, and that’s the people who read it.

In the eleven years that I’ve been doing this, my family has changed. My kids were little when I started, and now they’re grown women. Hank was three the day I wrote the first blog, and now he’s taller than me. (Some of you may have missed it, but Hank comments on the blog now. I don’t even know how that happened.)  Some people who were part of it are gone, like Tupper, and Janine – and some others have joined us – like Lou, and Myrie, and I cannot think of those losses and gains without their stories being all mixed up in The Blog. There’s pictures of them here. The moments that they left, or the moments that they arrived are documented, with all of the pain and the joy,  and all of you were here when it happened. You are, somehow, even though most of you are strangers to me, part of our family’s story.

Other than the actual family that surrounds me every day, The Blog has been the most important force that I’ve ever reckoned with. There have been people in my life who don’t understand this. They’ve called The Blog my imaginary friends, or internet friends, and if there was any chance that they would ever understand, I would try to explain.  You’re real. Your impact on my life is real. The changes you create, the good you do, the support for the things that I try and do and feel, is real.  The Blog is a thing. A real thing.

This morning, I reminded Joe that it was my Blogiversary. “Eleven years!” I said.  “Wow.” He replied.  “How do you want to celebrate? Would you like to go out to dinner?”   I thought about that for a moment, and then I said “No, that’s silly. It’s a silly thing to celebrate. It’s okay.”

Joe looked at me, and he said “I’d argue that The Blog changed our lives Steph. That’s not even a little silly.” He smiled, and he left, and he’s right- except about one thing. He shouldn’t take me to dinner. We should take you – and if we could, I’d pour you a little of this (very, very nice) whiskey, and I’d say this.

Thank you.

For being there for me when bad things happened, and for being there when it all went right. For watching my kids grow up, and for the way that your kindness and criticism have shaped our family.  Thank you especially for occasionally recognizing my children in public, and giving them the general impression that The Blog was watching them.  I think they made better choices because so many people cared. Thank you for celebrating births, and comforting me through deaths, and thank you for meeting me in random cities all over North America, when I was on book tours, and bringing me sandwiches and bottles of beer, and making me feel like I was tethered to real people, and real things as I navigated a surreal experience (or eight.) Thank you for coming to the real events we can share together, like classes and retreats. Thank you for always answering the question “Is anybody there?” with a resounding YES, and caring about the things that other people in the world sometimes think are silly. Like bind-offs, and buttonbands, and making things with your own two hands instead of buying them at Walmart, and thank you, thank you always, for your generosity to us.  We love you.

A toast then, as I lift my glass. Ladies and Gentlemen, please be upstanding, and know that you are remarkable, you are valuable, and you are a force. You are The Blog. My Blog, and your hand in my life is not now, nor has it ever been, inconsequential.

Cheers, and thank you for for eleven years. To Ken for starting it, to you for making it a thing.



Spinning, two kinds, not three

Earlier this week, I bought myself something I’ve wanted for a little while. A cycle trainer. It’s not what you think, by “trainer” I don’t mean someone who yells at you about how fast you’re going and tells you to do another 5km, but a frame that holds the back wheel of my bike and turns it into a stationary cycle. I set it up in the kitchen and it sits there, with my bike stuck in it,  and I mean this in every way possible, it is a huge pain in the arse.  (Do you like the way I made it sound like setting it up was no big deal? In reality it was hours, and several phone calls, and advice from Ken and Pato, and about four websites. It has never been clearer that I have no idea what I’m doing.)

it is supremely, horrifically, in the way. I have to step round it to go from my little office behind the kitchen to the rest of the house. I have to squeeze past it every time I want a coffee. It glowers at me as I make meals, or listen to the CBC on the radio, and I can see it from the front door.  I got  it because I’m trying to get a jump on the spring training for the rally.  I’d like to be a little fitter and more ready this year when the outdoor training starts, and starting earlier seemed like the only way to do that – barring heading down to a spinning class or something, which (in the absence of real spinning wheels) seems like exactly my idea of a personal nightmare.  I like to suffer alone.  I put it in the kitchen, because – frankly, the only other room that could hold it was an unused bedroom, and I know myself too well to play that game. I’d be able to ignore it in there.  Here in the kitchen, there’s nothing I can do to make it stop staring at me that way, except ride it, and I’ve made a personal pledge to do so for at least 30 minutes every day that I am home – until it’s warm enough to ride outside.  I’m telling you this so that I’m a little publicly accountable.  Today’s day three, and my my arse is sore, and my legs are sore, and I’ve learned that riding on a trainer is way, way harder than riding outside – which I’m telling myself is good, because it’s more of a workout, but I’m having trouble with my own reasoning there. Here the the thing sits, and today, before I do the kind of spinning I like, I’ll have to do the kind that I don’t. I hope it all pays off in the spring. I have visions of the first training ride, where instead of panting along at the rear of the pack, I sail through – faster and stronger than ever. This is, of course, complete delusion. I’m still going to be a slightly dumpy middle-aged woman who is only ripped in the sense of owning old bike shorts that need mending, but it’s got to help. Right?

battopen 2015-01-22

Speaking of spinning I do like, I’m just over halfway on the wee project from yesterday.  I’ve split the batt right down the middle, and I’ll spin two singles that each have the same colour progression. (If you’re the sort that’s interested, I’m spinning these long draw. It’s what it wanted, and this is all about process.)

battspin 2015-01-22

When I ply them together, hopefully I’ll have a two ply yarn where the colours (mostly) match up, and a cool gradient yarn.  If I can finish the singles today, tonight they can rest, and tomorrow – I ply.

battspin2 2015-01-22

I have no idea how many metres I’ll have, or what I’ll cast on after that.  It’s about 100g, and that should give me at least 300m – ideas?

battspin3 2015-01-22

Strung Along April Retreat – Start to Finish

A quick note to let you all know that sign-ups for the Spring Retreat are open. This time we’re doing something a bit different – and we’re so, so excited (and a little nervous) about it. We’ve gotten lots of emails from people wishing that the retreats weren’t all for textile artists who knit AND spin. Apparently many of you don’t spin (yet) but would still like to come to the April Retreat. Well, okay then! Another knitter-only retreat (although there’s a ton that will be valuable for spinners) just because we really are listening. If you’d like to know more about it, click here.  (Also, because I always forget, and it makes Debbi crazy, Strung Along has a Facebook page here. You can “like” it if you want. Debbi LOVES that.)


Product VS Process

Yesterday, as I was finishing Sam’s hat (after reclaiming mine) I was thinking that I hadn’t enjoyed knitting it all that much. I didn’t dislike it (how could you not like knitting?) but it wasn’t the ten buckets of fun that knitting usually is – especially when you’re making something someone will love and wants badly.

samhaton 2015-01-21

Sam does, indeed love her new hat, and wore it out this morning, cozy against the windy cold.  (Pattern: Wurm, Yarn: Eco+ in Dark Purple – I think. Needle 3.5 and 4.5mm. Knit as written, except for only doing 8 repeats. We like our Wurms a little less wormy round here.)

samhatpeek 2015-01-21

After she left, I sat down to have a coffee and a bit of a knit, and pulled out the sweater I’ve had cruising along in the background. (This one.)  It’s going fine, though it’s now just rounds and rounds of stockinette, and I felt that same… something.  I love that yarn, and heaven knows I want the sweater – now, actually, it’s so dismally cold, and usually that’s enough to inspire, but this time, I’m not feeling it. As I was churning along, my thoughts turned to the idea of knitting for product (to get the knitted stuff) and knitting for process – because I love knitting alone.  Usually I’m someone who fails to land firmly in either camp. I knit for both. To get good stuff, and for the pure pleasure of it. I don’t know if I would be arsed to knit if there wasn’t the thrill of a finished thing at the end, and I don’t know that the things alone would be enough to make knitting worth it. (I have a secret theory that liking and needing knitting to be both for product and process spawns the most dedicated knitters – those of us who couldn’t stop if we wanted to, but it’s just an idea.)

It hit me, as I was beavering away that it’s been a little while since something was on my needles for nothing but pleasure. That the last few months have been – what with Christmas and all that, all about the product.  A string of needed, wanted, important things, but still the goal was to end up with the things… not to just be along for the ride. I thought about that some more, as I completed another round, and then I looked around me, saw my spinning wheel, and something gave way.

I’ve been hearing the siren song of my spinning stash for a while – if you can call the smothered gasps of way too much fibre a song. I put down the sweater, went up to the spinning stash, and grabbed the first thing that appealed.

intowhirledbatt 2015-01-21

I’m going to spin for a bit. I don’t even know what I’m making, but i know that the minute that whatever sort of yarn this batt becomes, it’s going on my needles moments later. I’m going to think about process, the process of spinning, the process of knitting, and I’ll just see what product I get at the end.

Doesn’t that sound delicious?

(PS. The Batt is from Into the Whirled – though I don’t see any on their website right now.)

Maybe some mittens to go with

Last week it was revealed to me that Sam’s old Wurm hat had departed for greener pastures, and for reasons related to motherhood and that warm feeling* that comes over me when one of my children requests a knitted item, I decided to make her another one. I had the yarn, and it seemed like such a small request.  Just a hat – how long can that take?  Right. I fell for it again.

knittingwurmtea 2015-01-19

I have been knitting for 42 years, and I am still trying to figure out what makes a craftsperson of that experience level immune to the truths about a pattern. Wurm is a good pattern. I’ve made a lot of them. It’s a good, non-phallic, warm hat that’s excellent for people with lots of hair, and for the last few years I’ve pounded out at least one every winter. One for me, one for Sam, and one for…  I can’t remember who – maybe my mother… doesn’t matter. The important thing is that not only do I knit a lot and know heaps about how much time it takes, I have knit this specific hat before and am intimately acquainted with the fact that this is a “big” hat. Now, I don’t mean big as in “will fit a large head” I mean that it’s a bit of a trick hat. It’s got more knitting in it than it looks like. The brim is a turned hem, so that’s two layers, and then the alternating strips of purl and knit accordion down and make lots of knitting squish up into a smaller space.

I know this. This will be at least the fourth time that I’ve knit this thing, and recently (in knitter years) at that, and still, on Friday, when I wound the yarn and grabbed my needles, I didn’t think “Wow, this hat is a lot of knitting. I hope I can finish this weekend.”  I swear I thought something along the lines of “Hold on a minute sweetie, give mummy a sec and I’ll have that hat for you.”

Optimism? Delusion?  No way to know, but man, this hat is a lot of knitting and I sure hope I can finish tonight.

* This warm feeling was in direct opposition to my actual feeling, which was that I was freezing, because when she didn’t have a hat, she stole mine.  Sometimes there’s an element of self defence in knitting. 

Woolly Days

As much as the winter and I are not soul mates, I have to admit that it has its charms. As a fellow Canadian and I agreed on a plane the other day, winging our way back to the frozen north, away from the charms of a warm place, at the very least, freezing your arse off does feel rather patriotic, whether you can feel your arse or not. (I have not yet technically frozen my arse, although the other day I did notice that I couldn’t quite feel my thighs, which is a little alarming, when you think of it. Those are big body parts.)  There’s other bits too – it can be pretty, when the sky is blue and everything all sparkling, and I can freely admit that there’s no better time and place to be a knitter.  All of our goods are pressed into service, and inquiries are made regularly about the availability of mittens and hats, cowls and scarves.

spectral4 2015-01-16

I’ve been wearing all of them, and none so much the last week as my finished Spectral.  I knit it on the little trip that Joe and I took, and it was the perfect company. Simple enough to work on while I chatted and visited, but still interesting, thanks to the colour changes.

spectral2 2015-01-16

I knit this one (it’s the second I’ve made)  out of Wonderland Yarns in “Mad Hatter” and changed the pattern ever so slightly.  This yarn is a little heavier than what the pattern called for, and had a little less yardage, so I cast on a few less (after a cleverly executed swatch told me what number) and I didn’t divide the yarns as the pattern suggested. It ended up a little narrower than the original, but the same length, which pleased me to no end.

The original has you split up the colours of your gradient, so that it goes dark to light and back again, but I decided just to cast on with one, and move my way through them, light to dark.   I love the result. It’s long enough to go round my neck twice with a double twist in front, and it matches both my coats, and most of my clothes.  I’ve had it on non-stop since I finished.

spectral3 2015-01-16

It’s soft, warm and cozy, and almost makes up for the fact that yesterday Sam stole my best hat, and I haven’t seen it since. The Miss had the audacity to steal it, then text me a picture of her wearing it – which normally would have annoyed me, but now, in the depths of winter? I’m just glad she’s into my knitting.  I’ll make another – and see if I can swap her for it.

(PS. Should I be a little worried that you can’t tell the difference between my hair and the fur on my parka in these shots? I hope it doesn’t mean anything.)


I’m not sure my mother is sincere

Hello poppets! A quick one from me before another day passes without posting… I’m writing to you from San Francisco. (Well. That’s a lie.  I’m writing to you from the airport in San Francisco where my flight is delayed, and that’s not really like being in San Francisco. Being in San Francisco would be cool, and this, is not.) I’m here changing planes to make my way on home, after a whirlwind trip to teach and speak for two days at the Knitting Guild of the Desert, in Palm Springs.  (What? I was in Palm Springs and I didn’t tell you? Yeah, that’s right. It was a gig for the guild, and if you weren’t a member, well, that was it for you. If that’s not a lesson about joining your local guild, I don’t know what is.)

desert 2015-01-14

oasisbetter 2015-01-14

It was one of the neatest trips I’ve taken in a while, and it proved something that Jen and I have been trying to put into words. We’ve been saying that we think that business trips (she travels a lot too) don’t have to be the way they so usually are.  That it doesn’t have to be that you go to (insert name of cool place here) and do your thing, and then come home and everyone says “Wow! You’re so lucky to have been (insert cool place here)” and we smile and nod and agree, but really, we didn’t go to (insert cool place here) we went to the airport in (insert cool place here) and we go to the hotel in (insert cool place here) and we go to the meeting rooms in (insert cool place here) and when we leave, we know nothing about (insert cool place here) and you all think we’ve been there, and really we’ve just been to another Marriott.

palm 2015-01-14 mountainswindmills 2015-01-14

Jen and I have both been trying to fix this for a while, but it’s really hard.  The only reason we’re getting to go (insert cool place here) is because it’s our job, and well, you still have to do your job when you get there, and that’s sort of a pain in the arse if you’re really into sightseeing. This time though, I’ve got it.  The secret? Get up at 4:45am. You can do all sorts of crazy things in the morning, and still do your job.

weebirdie 2015-01-14

barrelcactus 2015-01-14

Palm Springs is one of the most interesting places I’ve been for this weird job in a while.  There were lovely knitters, clever students, the guild president wasn’t just fun, she was an accomplice, and I got to swim in hot springs, visit an oasis, see cactus, find a tiny lizard, stand on the San Andreas Fault and swim OUTSIDE in JANUARY.  (Most of this happened very much before work – and yeah, I was in bed by 8:30 or 9 each night, but who cares.) It was truly a good two days to be in this industry, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. (That could have been because it was 25, not -25, but you know what? If that coloured my impression of how wonderful those knitters were, that’s fine with me.)

wherework 2015-01-14 (1)

I sent my mum a picture of me swimming OUTSIDE, and maybe a few pictures of a cactus, and a picture (or three) of flowers blooming, and me in a tee shirt, and then she sent me this:

canadianespericne 2015-01-14

I’m not sure shes actually going to be waiting at the airport.

There were more boxes

I did say that I’d have a finished thing for you today, I know that, and it is finished, it truly is. All blocked and the ends woven in, and I’m very happy with it, but it’s too damn dark in the house to take pictures in here, and I can assure you that it’s too damn cold outside to take them there. (With the wind chill, it’s about -30. I’d say we were in the middle of a “polar vortex” but here in Canada we just call it winter.)  I have to go out this evening, and I’ve been trying to come up with a way to avoid it all day.  I keep hoping someone who hates the winter as much as I do will cancel the meeting I’m headed to, but so far it would appear that the heads of the committee are made of sturdier stuff. I’m going to swathe myself in wool and cashmere, and just go.  Speaking of wool, since I don’t have pictures of my latest, can I show you another gift from Christmas?

birdiessweaterdonebetter 2015-01-07

A wee sweater for my niece Myrie. I’ve made her a lot of gorgeous things since she joined us, but the word on the street before Christmas was that she could use a warm, practical everyday sweater – one to pull on over clothes each day, or wear under her coat, or while she was playing. One that wasn’t so precious it couldn’t get filthy or worn – a sweater for using up.  A while ago I made one for Lou like this, although it fit him for 46 seconds, and that largely defeated the purpose.  I liked the look of it though, and so for Myrie’s sweater I started with the same idea.  (There’s details on how I figured the sweater in this post.) With help from a reader with a baby about the same size (thanks Deborah and Alice!) I started with some Cascade 220 superwash, and some Liberty Wool Worsted, and took off. For the weeks leading up to Christmas, this was my go-to on the go sweater. Simple, and easy, and it went with me to every function.

birdiesweatertree 2015-01-07

When I made Lou’s it was all out of the stripy yarn, and I got a little obsessive and weird about it. (Who me? Yeah, nobody saw that coming) With Myrie’s I didn’t even try the striping, because since I’d end up alternating the solid and the stripy, it would be a one way ticket to crazy town, and frankly, in the weeks before Christmas I’m already a few elves short of an effective workshop, if you catch my meaning.  I decided to do the top to the armpits in the stripey, and the body and arms in the solid.

birdiessweater 2015-01-07

I also decided that there was no way in freakin’ hades that this was going to be too small, or not last her through the long dark tea-time of the soul that is the winter in these parts, so the measurements were generously padded.

birdie sweateron 2015-01-07

Victory was mine.  It was big, but not so big that it didn’t fit with the sleeves turned up, and with the addition of the wee birdie buttons from the stash it was very stylish indeed. (I told her mother that I wasn’t sure it was hip enough so I put a bird on it. She got the joke. Birds make everything hipper. Apparently.)  I’ve had those birds in the stash for years, waiting to fulfill their destiny.  I think they’re very happy on a sweater for our own busy little birdie.


One trip, two hats

After a whirlwind tour of western Canada, we’re back.  From Edmonton to Vancouver to Winnipeg to home, we’ve had just the best trip.  We got home on Sunday night, but yesterday I was um… really tired from my vacation (how can that be?) and didn’t do much but catch up on work, work on a sweater (I’m permanently cold) eat the last of the gingerbread, and consider changing out of my moose jammies. (I did not.)

lastofthegingerbread2 2015-01-06

Today I’m back up and running, although I just experienced one of those “short days”. Have you ever had one? You get up, make a big to-do list, the whole day of possibility stretches out in front of you, and then you do one thing (I went to the dentist) and whammo. It’s 4:30, getting dark, and the whole day is shot. I swear I had big plans for today, but you’ll have to make do with two more little knitted things that fell off my needles over the past little bit.  (One bigger one too, but it’s blocking.) The trip we just made was to visit our friend Johnny and it didn’t seem at all right to show up empty handed so I did the only logical thing. Johnny lives in Edmonton, it’s winter, and there’s no way that a hat wouldn’t be the right thing. I started knitting him as soon as the Christmas knitting was over, and by the time we arrived in Edmonton, I was ready to affix it to him as he sat in the pub.

johnshat 2015-01-06

Cascade 220 sport, 1.5 skeins of Navy.  Pattern: Lorne’s Hat.

The funny thing is that even though Johhny knows I knit (I’m scarcely seen without needles) when he opened it, it was about 20 minutes before he figured out I’d made it for him.  Dude actually thought I’d bought him a hat. Think about that. Bought a hat. Enough to boggle the mind.  Meanwhile, I had a husband just about ready to buy a hat, if I didn’t figure one out, so onto the needles went the leftovers from his mittens, and decent, plain hat was made – just in time for Winnipeg. (This was great timing. If you’re not familiar with Canadian Geography, I urge you to take a look at the weather page for that fine city, and know that they aren’t experiencing anything out of the ordinary.)  Joe rammed it on his head instantly, so great was the need.

nopom 2015-01-06

Once safely home though, where a gentleman could (though he would be very cold) go without a hat for a few minutes, Joe confided that he would think it a better hat, a hat that was more “properly a hat” if it had a pompom on top.

pompommade 2015-01-06

I stifled the urge to say anything at all, and made one.  Hat improved, it had a washup- and Joe plunked it on his head this morning before he left.  He was right pleased with that pompom, I tell you, and I could tell by the selfie he texted me this morning, that the sir in question feels the pompom adds a certain Je ne sais quoi, and who am I to argue.

joeshat 2015-01-06

I think he looks great.