Second Verse, Same as the First

Today I’m packing. I’m delighted to say that I won’t be typing that sentence for a little while after this weekend – this last month has left me thinking that as a species, we need to be focusing on teleportation as a solution to airports. (I have a pretty big hate on for airports right now. I’m going to try and improve my relationship with the Toronto one tomorrow by doing nothing but drinking coffee and knitting in it.)  The last little bit hasn’t had much time in it for blogging, and I can’t wait until I’m home next week and that can change. This weekends trip is for a “sweater” retreat, and I will have a new sweater to wear at it, if one’s needed, which it probably won’t be, because, well…  California.  I looked at the weather for Pacific Grove this weekend, and it looks like it might be cool enough to pull it off for about 10 minutes.  Really, the sweater I just finished isn’t meant for California type weather, where I feel like a cardigan is properly the answer – something you can wear open or closed, and whip on and off in a minute.

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This sweater – this is a big, bad, cold weather sweater.  A pullover –inspired by this one here, although I didn’t use that pattern, I didn’t use any pattern at all, actually. I just knit and knit, trying it on every so often to work out when to do what, and it fits me just the way I like it.  The wool is Greenwood Hill Farm 2ply worsted, and it is so soft, and so delicious and so lovely, that I felt like all it needed was to be a plain, good sweater. A cozy sweater, a sweater that can stand up to any amount of snow, soft and warm against the winter.  It is, of course, particularly ironic that I’ve finished it now, as spring comes properly here.

It’s everything I’d hoped, this sweater, and that means that without a blizzard bearing down on me at -40, I can’t quite remember when I was going to wear it.  No matter though, this is Canada, and winter will be back.  If I can put it on this weekend without having heat stroke I’ll try and get someone to snap a few pictures.  It’s a great sweater.

The shawl remains about 4 rows and a cast off from done, and I don’t feel any more confident about having enough yarn. I’m almost afraid to knit on it – though I do have another skein of the yarn that I could pillage for the right colour stripe if I had to, so it won’t be a terrible horrible emergency if I run out. (Just an epic pain in the arse that spoils that self-striping skein.) That alone probably means that there will be enough. The knitting fates usually only run this crap on you when you’ve got no way out. They’ve got a particularly vicious sense of humour.

I’m packing that, unless I finish tonight, but there’s something about heading out to a sweater retreat that makes me feel like I should have a sweater on the needles…

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Maybe just a little one?  This wee thing should be knocked out pretty quick, and that’s good, because I feel a baby blanket coming on.  Time to choose a theme, and figure the math, and order LOTS of the yarn. I’ve got a baby to outrun – and there’s lots of time right now, and for once, I’d like to keep it that way. *

*That’s probably foreshadowing.

Don’t get too comfortable

I’m almost at the end of this mad sprint, this thing where I’m teaching/travelling for so many days, almost in a row, and the end is in sight.  I’m stopped in here at home just long enough to wash my clothes – I literally take them out of the suitcase, run them through the washer and put them back again. The only thing that changes in the suitcase is the knitting. This last go round, I got on a plane and trotted off to Minneapolis for Yarnover, and to teach at StevenBe as a little cherry on the Minnesota cake, and my project was Cladonia. I didn’t have all the time to knit it that I thought I would (see previous post/cautionary tale) but it’s almost done now, after only a few days, and I think that if all goes well, it will be all done before I get on another plane on Friday for the Make Wear Love Retreat in California.  (I know I keep mentioning this, but I love that my job is to travel from knitting island to knitting island.  I had complete camnesia this weekend (didn’t take a single picture) but Yarnover and StevenBe were so great, and despite the travel fatigue that’s slowly killing me (just a few more days man) I love it all. Every retreat and event has it’s own personality, and I love them all. They are knitterific.)

Once I got the right needle, this shawl has proceed at lightning pace. It’s got nothing but stockinette and a little shaping through the body, then just a few rows of lace at the bottom.

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I can’t tell you how much I’m sure I’m going to run out of yarn though.  I was knitting along, starting the lace bit, when it seemed to me like I had buckets of yarn. Heaps, even – so I ripped back, did a little bit more knitting, and then started the lace again, farther along. Now I can’t shake the feeling that I should have soldiered on, because what’s leftover now seems pathetically wee.  There’s nothing for it though, because I’m committed to the risk. I’m going to try to squeak it out. I’ll knit fast. That will help.*


*No. It won’t. 

Maybe I evened out

Point: Last night I got my knitting together for this trip. I’m starting a new shawl with the Catterpillargreen yarn (or rather, some of it) that I got on my last trip.  It’s the shawl striping in “Olive Branch” (the XL hank) and I’m going to make Cladonia.  (I saw a sample and it was so pretty I couldn’t stand it. I snapped like a little twig. I think it made a noise.)

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Point: I got the yarn out, and then the needle the pattern suggested, then heard the voice of experience in my head and saw that the combination of that needle, that yarn and me was going to make a fabric I didn’t care for, and went back and got a more appropriately sized needle.

Demerit: The voice of experience turns out to be a lying weaselface, because ten minutes after lift-off on my plane to Minneapolis this morning, I realized that I had misjudged the size of the needle I needed.

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Demerit: I only brought the one needle. Like a rookie.

Point: I actually realized it was wrong, and stopped knitting, instead of wasting my time beavering away on a doomed project thinking things are going to get better any minute. They’re not. They never do.

Point: I took out my back-up knitting, which I actually had with me, exactly like NOT A ROOKIE.

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Demerit: Upon landing in Minneapolis I had to go directly to StevenBe and what I needed so that I can work on this- even though I have a million knitting needles at home.

Point: I actually got two, in case I’m still wrong about the needle sizes. That way I don’t have to go back again later today, on account of people saw me there and I would start to look dim.

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Demerit: I had to buy two that are totally and completely in my stash right now, and I could have brought with me if I hadn’t believed the voice of experience.

Point: I won’t believe the voice of experience again. It’s cocky.

No, I won’t make you a pair for $10

I’ve taken the clothes out of my suitcase, washed them, and put them back in, and I’m almost ready to go back out the door tomorrow. I’m starting to feel wildly spoiled, like I’ve pulled off the most amazing trick, and now I get to live in a world that contains knitters alone, punctuated by these weird intervals where regular people exist and don’t have yarn in their purse.  I always start to wonder about that world when I travel this much for knitting I’m about halfway through a sprint where out of 28 days, 22 of them will be spent knitting while I travel to be with knitters, or hanging out with knitters, talking about knitting. Right now, my world consists almost entirely of people who think knitting is incredibly important, and the people who don’t think about it at all are a weak and tiny minority.

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Usually, when I take my knitting from my bag, strangers say “Do you knit?” (to which I have always wanted to reply “No, I just find it nice to have around.”) but this month, all the strangers around me take theirs out too, and nobody tries to turn the lights down, or asks me if I’m going to do that “the whole time.”  It’s like living in a magic, magic land where knitters are the norm, and people who don’t know how to make any of their own clothes are the lunatics.

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In this land, nobody, when I show them my fabulous finished socks, ask me why I bother, when they’re just $1 a pair at Walmart – and should I choose to reveal what a pair of socks costs the way I make them (yarn expense, plus minimum wage for the hours it takes to make them) will goggle at me like I’ve taken all leave of my senses.

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Nope, that’s not where I’m living. I’m living in a place where I can show you my finished socks, and every person around me smiles, asks me what form of short rows I used for the heel (classic) and wistfully considers making some just the same -because it totally makes sense to them – and they would, but they’re making a sweater right now.

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Re-entry in twelve days is going to be hard.

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(PS. These finished socks, besides being the cutest things ever, are not for me. They’re for one of you. They’re the Dark Side of the Moon socks that Commander Hadfield held, and for a while, I thought about giving them to him – but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted them to end up somewhere they were really wanted, not as a random weird gift for someone they may or may not fit, or who may or may not really, really love them.  (While I have no doubt that Chris Hadfield is s great guy, that inexplicably doesn’t assure us all that he wants a pair of hand knit socks.)  So, I decided to use them to kick off my fundraising for the Bike Rally this year. I’m hoping to raise more than we ever have (which is a lofty goal- considering that you guys blow me away every time) and while I’ll start doing Karmic Balancing Gifts soon, I’m starting with this. These socks go to whomsoever offers the biggest donation to the Rally, and will love them to death. If you’re someone who’d like to make an exchange like that – a donation for a pair of hand knit socks, then shoot me an email.  ( I’ll check those emails, figure out what the best one for the rally is, and I’ll let you know if you’re the one. If you are, you’ll make the donation, and I’ll pop them in the mail.)

PPS. They fit a friend with ladies size 9 feet really well, if you’re wondering about size.



The Number is Ten

It was Sunday night when I remembered.  That was my 11th night away from home, and I was sitting in a hotel room feeling unloved and lost for absolutely no good reason when it came over me in a wave.  The number is ten. That’s the number of days I can be away from home for work before it messes me up. Some switch inside me flips, and I start to be melancholic and dejected, and then I remember. Ten. After ten days I need my people, my home, my tea and my bathtub, and it doesn’t matter where I am, or what I’m doing, or what my reason for being there is.  It’s amazingly predictable, and still takes me by surprise every time.  This time, if it were possible to avoid the tenth day snap, I would have. As a matter of fact, I think how amazingly fantastic my previous days were are the only reason that it was the 11th night (and the night before I flew home, which was lucky and lovely) before I met the void of homesickness, because pets, that last trip was epic.

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(That was the appetizer on our last night there. Big love to Splityarn and WEBS for the treats.)

We had a fabulous Strung Along retreat at Port Ludlow (and the next one is coming up fast– have I mentioned that we’re accepting registrations as of a few days ago?)  I keep thinking that these retreats can’t get any better, but this time Clara Parkes and Kate Atherley hit it out of the park, and the weather was fabulous, and the retreaters were the grooviest bunch yet – and I’m not just saying that to be nice. They were a remarkable group, right down to the one that made off with one of the yarnbombings, and promptly got it an instagram account.  We don’t know who it was, but Debbi and I can take some responsibility for the two sibling accounts that cropped up shortly thereafter.  It was a wonderful immersion in all things knitterly, and I can’t believe my luck, because my next gig was just as terrific.

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I  trucked out of Port Ludlow and headed for Vancouver, and from there to a retreat with Knit Social on Galiano Island.

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It was very different, and very wonderful, and delightful to tramp around the Island, enjoying beautiful views and great food, only stopping long enough to teach about knitting, talk about knitting, and when we weren’t in class, hang out with knitters and knit.


The retreat was small, and intimate, and Fiona and Amanda do a wonderful job of making it a perfect universe for a few days. I wish they were in charge of more. It was brilliant.

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Now I’m home, if only for three days, before I head out to Yarnover, and FiberFest. (Yarnover and one of the FiberFest classes are all sold out, but there’s still room in my lecture style class on Colour Theory for Textile Artists. I love teaching this kind of class. Without putting too fine a point on it, knitters are artists, and I think we need the vocabulary and training that other artists get to be really good at it.)  Last night the kids all came home for dinner, and tonight we’re seeing friends, and tomorrow I’ll get a fix of Luis, and then it’s back on a plane.

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I’ve finished a shawl, a sweater, a pair of socks and made a good size dent in a few other things, but lets talk about that tomorrow, shall we?  I’ve got to wash my clothes and put them back in my suitcase, while reflecting that the ten day limit aside? This is pretty much the best job ever.

Yarn, and how we love it

A drive by from me – getting ready to go from Port Ludlow to Galiano Island for the Knit Social Retreat. (Then it’s home for a few days, then onto Minneapolis for Yarnover, and to teach at Fiber Fest. There’s room in those classes by the way – Yarnover is full, but the crew at StevenBe has room in the Knitting for Speed and Efficiency class, and in the Colour Theory class – they’re both fun.) In the meantime, allow me to entertain you with the amazing yarnbombings at the Resort this go around. The retreaters went above and beyond – and they’re totally charming.  Enjoy.

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All the kinds of done

The April Retreat is done, and it was beautiful, and fabulous, and we so enjoyed having Clara and Kate with us, and I think I do no wrong when I say that this might have been one of the best ever.  (I will show you more pictures tomorrow. The yarnbombings this time were of a spectacular quality.)

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There was so much information, and so much fun, and some really, really intense learning, and even though all those things were more than amazing, let me tell you the best part.

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I finished my socks,

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and I am almost finished my sweater,

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which is awesome, because when I got here I unpacked my suitcase, I was staggered to discover that while I was sure I had a sweater with me, there wasn’t one in my bag.   It turns out I was counting the unfinished beast in my bag.  That, my friends, is a really, really knitterly mindset.

All Good Things

Well, here I am, at the end of my little vacation by myself, and it’s been lovely. Busier than I imagined it would be, but all the little things on my list are checked off, and the house is (almost) tidy, and ready for me to leave it tomorrow.  First thing in the morning I’ll head for the airport, and thus beginneth a wickedly busy month of travel.  I’ve almost got my bags packed, and my classes ready, and the only thing left to really organize is what knitting I’ll take with me when I go.  I’ve got a nice chunk of time designated for puttering around the stash this afternoon figuring it out.  I’ll need something fussy for the plane(s) and something simple for when I’m talking and walking, and something in the middle for when the going is easy.  No ideas yet – for sure the Dark Side of the Moon socks will be going with me.

Speaking of knitting, I finally managed to get some pictures of Lou wearing his birthday sweater – although it wasn’t easy.  The gentleman in question isn’t very interested in having his picture taken these days, as you can plainly see from the attempt his father made.

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I didn’t have awesome luck either, most of my pictures ended up a lot like this one – and were accompanied by loud admonishments of “NO PICTURES.”

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The best snaps I got where when he was busy hunting for eggs – with chocolate smeared on his face, distracted by the work at hand.

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Pattern: Wyatt.  Yarn: Galway Worsted in Indigo.

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I loved this pattern, although as written, the arms seem a little long.  If I were to do it again, I’d shorten them up a little.  The whole sweater is big on him, I intentionally knit him a size 4, even though he’s decidedly the size of a three year old. (Which he is.)  I’m hoping it will fit him this spring with the sleeves rolled up, and then in the fall with them uncuffed.

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He seems quite comfy in it, despite the lack of co-operation in modelling. He’s so wonderfully three right now, and my agenda and his are absolutely not one and the same. (I’d hazard a guess that Katie and Carlos would say the same thing.) Perhaps I’ll send Sam over to speak a little with him about the emotional rewards of knitwear modelling.

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Now, I’m off to make a cup of tea, and set off to rootle through the stash, and see what I can come up with. Wickedly exciting times my friends, wickedly exciting. (All suggestions for what to knit next will be read and considered. Go nuts.)


After the Bunny

Oh, what a weekend my pets, what a weekend.  I’ve been on a flat out tear for a few days, and almost all of it was great fun.  I say almost all of it was fun, because on Saturday I did the first official training ride for the Bike Rally, and I can honestly tell you that it wasn’t really super fun.  I had good company, and I don’t usually mind riding, even far (it was 40km) and fast (which I wasn’t) but holy cats, was it cold.  I think that’s the coldest I’ve ever been on my bike, and that’s saying something. How cold was it? Ice crunched under my feet as I walked to my bike. That’s how cold it was. It snowed later. That’s how cold it was.

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I got it done though, and after a hot bath I almost forgave myself. Then there were the family gatherings, and the Easter and Birthday celebrations. (Hank is 15. Just putting that out there.  Fifteen.)

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Mostly, the delicious solitude I was looking to savour was shot all weekend. (Not totally true, because I was alone on my bike, but are you really alone if you have your rage with you?)

The best part of the weekend for me though, was finishing Easter slippers for Lou and Myrie.  Last year they got bunnies, and this year?

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Pattern: Lamb Shoes. Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool. Modifications: I didn’t do the sole inserts.

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Lou seemed to mostly think they were puppets, which is just fine with me, because really, knitting stuff like this is for grownups, and we all loved them.

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Lamb shoes.  Shut the front door. So cute it hurts. See you tomorrow. The house is empty, and I’ve got a book to read.

Also I will miss him

Joe left this morning, out early for a holiday with his mum.  (That’s right, I holiday with my mother, and he holidays with his. That’s because we’re adorable.) I love it when he’s gone.  I know that sounds wrong, but I do. It’s like a little vacation here too.  Joe gets lots of time when he’s home and I’m not, but it hardly ever goes the other way, and it’s hard for me to even articulate what I love about it without making it sound like I don’t like it when he’s here – which I totally do, but being entirely alone in my own home is so novel that I can’t help but gleefully embrace it. I suppose it’s possible that it’s a holdover from the years the girls were little, when I was never, ever alone, or maybe my mum is right, and it’s one of the consequences of being the eldest child, but I can’t tell you of the simple joy of waking up in a house alone, of eating what I want when I want without considering what anyone else would like, of not negotiating for the bathroom, and not having to talk to anyone for a whole day if that’s what I choose.

It’s not like I have big plans for this time – I have lots of work to do, and lots of commitments with the family over Easter, but there’s a few things I’ve been thinking up to do while I was alone.

1. Hang up all the pictures that we took down when the house got painted a while ago.  I’m going to hang them anywhere I want to. It’s not like Joe would stop me, or probably even care where I hang the pictures, but it feels delicious to not even ask.

2. Reorganize Joe’s dresser. Every time he opens one of the drawers and I see that he’s got tee-shirts, shorts, pants, socks and underpants all mixed in together it gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.  He swears that this system is fine, but I think he’s just willing to live with it so he doesn’t have to organize it. With him gone, I can touch all his things and put them proper order.  Joe has no idea how much he’s going to love it.  (Also, by the time he reads this, it will be too late.)

3. Eat things that Joe doesn’t like.  I can’t think right now of what that would be, but as soon as I think of it, I am going to do it.

4. Knit. Okay – I do that anyway, but I am going to do it alone.  Hey, did I mention that I finished that cowl/infinity scarf?

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Pattern: Diamonds Go Around. Yarn: A Bevy of Swans DK in Pompey (that’s the brownish one) and Parted.

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It ended up just long enough to go twice around my neck, which I think makes it a scarf, not a cowl, according to what you all said in the comments.

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I love it a lot, which is a little sad, because it’s a gift for a friend. I am consoled by knowing that I have another two skeins of this yarn to make another one for me. Someday.  First I’m finishing the Phi For You shawl, which is only about 5 long rows from done.

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Can’t wait to show you the whole thing, because it’s totally charming, and also – not for me – and that’s okay, because that particular shade of purple and I have an uneasy relationship.  I’m also pounding out a tiny surprise, but you’ll have to wait to see that.

5. I am going to sleep in the middle of the bed. Or maybe diagonally.

6. With all the covers.

I’m so looking forward to the next several days.*  What do you like to do when you’re alone? Do you like it? What tiny pleasures do you find in solitude?

*with one exception, but I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.