I am not exactly a morning person

Last night, I set my alarm for 4:15am, and then went back and changed it to 4:30 because the extra 15 minutes gave me a sliver of a will to live, and I thought that rushing a little in the morning would be better. I have no way to explain to you why I did this, because I recognize that I’m not a morning person and while I am capable of rushing in the morning, I’m not really capable of doing it without weeping softly as I do it, and that’s exactly what I did this morning. The car came for me at 5:15, and I was on my way to the airport in the beginnings of a massive storm, peering into the darkness, and wondering how long it would hold off, if my flight would be delayed, if I would meet Clara on time in Denver to join up for the flight to Austin, and if I have any of the right clothes for Austin (I don’t. You can take a gal out of the winter, but you can’t take the winter out of the gal.)

Now I’m at the airport, wondering sort of absently why there are so many people here (storm) drinking (another) cup of coffee, wondering why I keep booking flights that in my soul I feel are a human rights violation, and casting on for a hat. Sam’s lost hers again, and while I feel like there should be consequences for this many lost hats, I don’t feel like those consequences should include frostbite, so… another hat it is. (She’s not getting another Wurm though. Too much knitting for a hat-loser.  I suggested she whip out the needles herself if she was getting particular, and all of a sudden she was a paragon of flexibility. She’ll get what I knit, and she’ll like it.)

So I was sitting here, feeling exactly zero positive things – this is how much I am not a morning person, and I was glumly pulling out the hat stuff, and casting on, and then I had to rip it out because apparently I can’t to a lick of math before at least 8am, and this lady walks by, and she says “Are you KNITTING?!” (You could actually hear the interrobang,  if you’re wondering.)  I look up, sort of prepared to cheerfully make my way through another conversation about the archaic and bizarre nature of my occupation, and how she didn’t think anyone did that anymore, and how she heard knitting was making a comeback, or how I must have a lot of patience, or any of the other stereotypical and untrue stuff that people say to me in airports… and I sigh a little, gird myself and say “Yup.”

This lady’s face lights up like a Christmas tree, and she says “It looks so fun! All I’m going to do on my flight is watch a stupid movie.”

“I’m going to watch a stupid movie and make a hat.” I tell her, suddenly feeling much better. Productive, even. Like my day has a purpose, even though I’m in a stinking airport at dawn.

“Lucky duck” she says, and off she goes.

I bet she’s a morning person. (Thanks, lady.)

This too, is not enough

I, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, knitter, yarn buyer, writer and generally hopeful person, do solemnly swear that I am going to do something (vague, and probably ultimately unhelpful) about my relationship with Habu.

Over the weekend I knit the snot out of that Sea Tangles thing, and it’s coming along nicely. (Please understand that I am here using the word “nicely” to mean that it is not done, which I wasn’t expecting it to be, but am still sort of surprised about, despite more than 4 decades of experience.)  At the booth when I bought the yarn, I looked at the pattern, looked at the yarn, asked how many cones it took, and bought that many. Three.

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Now I am 2/3rds of the way done the front (or maybe it is the back, they are the same. I’ll give it a designation later) and there’s a little problem with the yarn. Yeah. See that? One full cone is gone. That means I won’t have enough. Not by any kind of a long shot, and so I started trying to figure out where I could have gone wrong.  Turns out (after about 36 seconds of investigation which I should have done at the booth, hold your comments please) the pattern does take three cones.  It clearly states it takes three 1oz cones.  I have three cones.  I did something clever though, now that I am not in the booth,  and read the labels on those cones, and what I have are three half ounce cones.  I have exactly half as much yarn as I should, and you can blame this metric knitters tenuous relationship with ounces if you like, but it was an idiot move.  I’ve ordered more, and I was hoping that it would arrive before I needed it, but it turns out that’s a joke too, since I leave for Texas on Wednesday, and there’s no chance it will come by then.

Of course, this probably isn’t the big deal I think it is, since there’s zero chance I’ll finish all of this before I get back from Texas, and undoubtedly the yarn will be waiting for me then, but I really wish I could understand what it is about my dysfunctional relationship with Habu that means I can’t ever, ever get it right? Is it because the yarn is weird? Is it because I’m in some sort of fugue state in the booth? Is it the cones? Is it because no reasonable person in the whole world (who didn’t read the label) could possibly tell how many metres of )(*&^%ing stainless steel thread are on a )(*&^%$ing cone?

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The upshot of it all is that this afternoon finds me in the stash room, choosing what I’ll knit in Texas because the Habu sweater and I are going to enjoy a little time away from each other. One of us is a jerk, and we both need to think over our relationship.

In other news, there are still spots available for the April Strung Along Retreat. The November one is full and running a wait list, and the June one has very few spots left. If you were hoping to attend a retreat with spinning in it – this one is likely your only chance for the year.  (To answer a question that keeps getting asked in our inbox: NO. You don’t have to be an expert spinner. This class is appropriate for people who have only met a wheel once or twice, Judith is very – very good with beginners, and we can lend you a wheel and give you a chance to practice. People don’t come to classes because they know what they’re doing. They come to learn. If you knew it all, you wouldn’t be there.) Answers to most other questions can be found on the Retreat page, or you can send an email along to strungalongATyarnharlotDOTca.  (Note the .ca  – it’s hard for us to answer your email when it goes to .com)

Now, if anyone needs me, I’ll be in the stash, getting cozy with some some nice, predictable sock yarn that isn’t on a cone.

Keanu Reeves probably has narrow feet

I have this idea of myself – the way I would look, if my outsides reflected my insides.  I’d be taller and my hair would be straight (or at least predictable) and my feet would be big enough to wear more shoes without so much of a hunt, and while I’m at it, they would be less wide and peasantish. There’s a scar or two I’d do away with, and I’d be more… lithe, more graceful. I’d never, ever fall going UP stairs.  That’s what I would look like.

Now, I’m neither silly, nor young, so I don’t believe for a minute that any of this is going to change.  I’m undoubtedly going to spend the rest of my life dancing at nipple level to my friends, hemming every pair of pants I’ll ever buy, hoping for the best with my hair, and sighing as I try on yet another pair of dress boots that are both too big, and too narrow for my dumpy wee feet.  I absolutely understand all of this – and it can’t explain what happens to me when I walk by the Habu Booth at Madrona.

They have all these samples hanging up. They look like this, and like this and like this. They are interesting, elegant shapes, and knit from paper, and silk and stainless steel, and they are so beautiful to me that no matter what my intentions were – no matter how firm my resolve to stomp straight past that booth this time, I end up drawn in there, standing below the samples, running silk through my hands, pulling the stainless steel thread into wild shapes, and imagining myself sweeping along, wearing all those lovely things paired with elegant wide pants that don’t make me look squat, or a long sophisticated skirt that I don’t own, together with wonderful shoes that would never fit my feet. It takes what’s really a surprisingly long time for me to remember than that I’m actually the woman from the first paragraph, realize I’m thinking that these sweaters will make me someone I have no hope of ever being (namely tall) and eventually I buy more stainless (or paper, or silk) for yet another scarf, and sadly moon off to the button booth where I buy enough pewter clasps for imaginary sweaters to make myself feel better.  (I have lots now.)

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This time though, one of the samples was Sea Tangles.  Do you see how it looks? It’s… elegantly ratty. It fits right in with that way that I think I’d like to be – that New York artsy, post-apolcalyptic, I was almost cast in the Matrix, kind of look. Better than that, it’s sheer – I’d wear it over other clothes, clothes I own already, and I wouldn’t need to be tall – or even tall-ish, I don’t think.  If I made that, I thought…

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I’d never fall up the stairs.  I’ve started. I can’t wait to find out if you can wear a stainless steel and wool sweater through security at the airport.

(PS. I also got the paper and silk/steel for some scarves. I am weak.)

A small sweater, a big trip

Home again, home again.  Sorry for the radio silence knitters, but I always forget how completely full Madrona is, as an event.  I knit my way across North America, trying hard to finish that little sweater – it had a hard deadline of Thursday morning, when I’d meet the little miss it was destined to grace. My connection was delayed, I missed three shuttles in Seattle, and finally called Debbi and asked for a rescue. She ever-so charmingly not only picked me up from the airport, but drove to the hotel with a light on so that I could cast off the sweater. I walked into the hotel, tossed the sweater in a sink full of water to wash it, gave it a quick block on an end table near a vent in my room, and went out to dinner, wishing it dry thoughts. Rather predictably, it wasn’t dry when I got back, and rather disappointingly wasn’t dry in the morning either. I stood there, my hand on the still damp sweater, and tried to figure out how I’d get it dry by 10:30, considering that I had a mountain of work to do, and couldn’t stand over it with a hair dryer or something. A series of failed experiments later (one involving a chair, my belt and a binder clip) I hit on the solution.

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Bingo. So simple it was magic, and about an hour later (with breaks to let the dryer cool off) I had a dry sweater. (Well. Dry enough.) With 10 minutes to spare I sewed the buttons on, wrapped it in tissue paper I brought from home, and brought it down to meet its owner.

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Her excitement was palpable.

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Pattern: Rutelilje – it’s from an older Dale of Norway baby book, one I’ve had in the library for years, now sadly hard to put your hands on. (I buy all the Dale baby books I see. They’re always lovely, and transient.) Yarn is part Dale of Norway Baby Ull (for the colours) and Loopy Ewe solid series for the body – both delightfully from my stash.

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It’s a charming little thing, and should fit the lady in question about the time she learns to sit up, stops puking on all her outfits, and can show it off to its best advantage. (A few of you with good memories have noted that this is the second time I’ve knit this, and I bet it isn’t the last. It’s a favourite of mine.)

The rest of Thursday passed in a blur leading up to the Teacher Talent Show for Charity (I’d tell you about it, but there’s a media blackout. Be assured you missed something remarkable) teaching 9-5, events in the evening, and culminated in Amy Herzog and I making the time for a rather remarkable (and expensive) 20 minute sprint through the marketplace on Sunday, just before they shut the whole thing down.  I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow, but suffice it to say that three things remain true.

1. I make wild decisions about yarn when rushed.

2. I still have a fairly serious thing for stainless steel yarn.

3. My love of knits that fall into the fashion category of post-apocolyptic-my-clothes-are-all-rags-but-I-still-look-so-good-I-should-be-in-the-matrix is intact.

(PS. If that leads you to believe that I fell down and swiped my credit card on the way to the floor at Habu, you might be onto something.)

Randomly on a Tuesday

1. I am leaving for Madrona tomorrow.  After a wicked sprint this last weekend, everything for the workshops and classes and (almost) the Teacher Talent Show for Charity (You’re coming, right?) I am pretty much packed and ready.

2. That’s a lie. Everything for work is packed and ready, but I haven’t packed clothes or anything personal, like knitting or… anything.

3. I am sitting here at my desk, surrounded by piles of paper and post-it notes and the little baby sweater I was so sure would be done on Friday is sitting here too, and still isn’t anywhere near done.

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Progress has, in fact, slowed to a crawl – which is what happens when you don’t really knit on something – or in this case, don’t knit on it for hours a day. I keep picking it up to do a row here and there, but the gauge is 32 stitches to 10cm, and that’s not a quick knit anyway you slice it, and I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought it was.  I am a lunatic. (Note to self. Pack buttons.)

4. I’m doing a book signing at Madrona – Saturday between 5-6.  Swing by and say hello if you’re around. I’d love to see you, and you can even bring a book if you like. (I don’t think there are any for sale in the Marketplace, so maybe plan ahead if you’ve got your heart set.)

5. Debbi and I busted a move, and the Strung Along April Retreat is open! We don’t have tons of spots, but there’s quite a few, and we’d love it if you came.  If you want, there’s more information on the retreat page.  The theme is Colour and Texture, and Judith MacKenzie will be there to teach spinning, and it should be really amazing. We’re excited, and can’t wait to share everything we’ve got planned.

6. Earlier today I was booking my shuttle to and from Madrona, and I was giving the very nice lady my flight information, and I told her I was arriving on Wednesday the 10th, and leaving on Monday the 14th. There was a pause, and then she said “You mean, Monday the 15th?” I scanned the flight information, found the date and read it out loud to her.  “Nope, it’s definitely the 15th. I’m looking right at it.”  I paused here to read it aloud to her (although I’m super unclear on how that would be proof, since she can’t see it)  “Flight XXXX, leaving Monday, the 15th of March. It’s the 15th for sure.”

There was this long silence, and she said “March?” and I said “That’s right.” Another pause… “Your textile conference is a month long?”  I boggled at the thought of that, and was just about to say something about how great a month long textile retreat would be, when It hit me like a ton of bricks.  My flight was wrong. I got off the phone just about hysterical, and called the airline and it’s all fine and I’m not staying in Seattle for a month, and there were absolutely flights free on Monday (this Monday) and the change was fine, and after I had it all sorted, I wondered what happened.  “Man, I can’t believe I did that” I said to the airline lady. “Wishful thinking?” She said.  “Maybe… ” I said, and then I imagined a month just for knitting and was momentarily disappointed.

7. I am super glad I discovered this today, instead of at the crack of dawn on Monday morning at the airport.

8. I am not a morning person.

Maybe Not

I swear, on every scrap of yarn in this house, that I thought the baby sweater I’m working on would be finished today.  I really did. It was sheer delusion. I see that now.  I thought that I was going to knit the heck out of it yesterday.  I thought that the whole time that I was running errands and knitting on something else.

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I thought that when I accepted an invitation to dinner (though we did knit at dinner – the upside of teaching so many of my friends to knit is that they now figure it into the schedule) and I thought that even as I went to bed without it anywhere near finished.  I thought that when I had to work at my desk this morning instead of knitting. I thought that this afternoon, as I worked on my class prep for Madrona instead of knitting.  I thought that as I did Bike Rally work, I thought that as I cleaned the bathroom. I thought that as I sat down to write this to you.  The only time the reality of the situation hit me, was as I sauntered over to take a picture of what was in my head “an almost finished sweater.”

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That sweater’s nowhere near finished. The body is barely started, the sleeves?  There’s no sleeves. There’s just a yoke, and a few pathetic rows of the body, and in my head, it was “almost finished.” Now, it gets better, because as the reality of the situation washed over me, as the delusion I’d created cleared like a mist, I didn’t think “Oh man – that’s not going to be finished today. You’re a lunatic.” I thought “Oh man. I’m really going to have to hustle (after I make dinner, serve dinner, do laundry, and finish at least two hours of desk work that should really be nine hours of desk work if I could stand it) to finish this by tonight.”

I might need to revise my plan a bit.


What is the past tense of Fleeting?

Whatever knit-a-palooza I was off on has clearly ground to a halt.  Maybe I shouldn’t have blogged about it or been happy about it, but all the knitting in this house looks almost exactly the same as it did yesterday.

(Imagine a picture here. Actually, just scroll down and look at yesterdays again. It’s really about the same.)

I completed two rows of the new baby sweater when I got in last night, and managed maybe… eight rounds of a sock while I was out, because I was skating. While I feel pretty confident about walking and knitting, I don’t like the possible consequences of a (fairly likely) fall while skating, and the attendant possibilities for impalement with fine metal sock needles. If they were nice blunt plastic ones, then maybe you’d only have to worry about… actually. Never mind. Let’s just agree that knitting and skating probably don’t go together. Mostly.

Today I’m at my desk, and helping the World’s Top Knitwear Model move home. That’s right, the nest, she is empty no more, Sam’s back, and I couldn’t be happier about the chance to mother her just about to death.  I had always suspected that I was the sort of mum who would love having an empty nest, and looked forward to how it would be when they were grown, and we were all in another phase. Then the ladies all did grow up, and they all left, and it was just me and Joe and the cat,  and you know what?

I was right. It was freakin’ awesome.

It’s cool that Sam’s back though, Joe and I are both delighted to have her here. I’m planning on theme breakfasts, and smoothies, and movie nights, and Sam’s got a great sense of humour and can be very helpful around the house, and she is our baby, after all.

Welcome home, my little butterfly. (Don’t get too comfortable. Mummy was sort of planning to put a loom in your room.)


Everything has an upside

I was just sitting here (coughing) and reflecting on my weekend, which I spent mostly coughing.  I’m at that annoying phase of getting over chest things that involves feeling mostly better, but still coughing in a way that makes everyone around you flinch. My energy is back, I’m feeling like I can take on the world again – but that cough says “sit down Sister, you’re not as awesome as you think.” So, I sat down.  Except for a jaunt out on Friday night, and a few long walks to break up the monotony, I’ve been sitting, and for me, sitting means knitting.  (Usually walking means knitting too, but it’s too cold outside to have my mittens off. Stupid winter.) So, a few pictures of what all that knitting got accomplished.

I finished the big green Siren Song, and I knew blocking it was going to be dramatic, so I took a few “before” pictures to amuse myself.

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I loved how it looked pre-block. Sculptural, loads of texture… I was almost reluctant to block it.  It had a nice bath, then I ran blocking wires through the top edge, and pinned out the bottom.  The yarn’s a merino laceweight – I’d link to it, but there’s nowhere on-line to get it. It’s Judith MacKenzie’s hand dyed stuff, and I’ve only ever seen it places where she’s teaching. I scooped it at the last Port Ludlow Retreat Marketplace. The thing about merino is that it has tons of crimp, so it’s super stretchy and bouncy.  That means you can block the daylights out of it, it will go and go… but once it’s unpinned and a bit of humidity gets to it, it’s going to bounce back. It won’t hold the block very well, so there’s no point in trying. Better to let it have its way – yarn from sheep with super curly hair is like having curly hair. You can try to straighten it out if you want to, but it won’t last.

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The transformation was pretty glorious anyway. You’d hardly believe it was the same piece.

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When that bad boy was done – I finished the leg/foot of a sock, and whacked an afterthought heel into it.  When the time came to do the heel originally, I didn’t have the contrast yarn with me, so I just kept on going. When I was all done, I pulled out a row of the knitting, picked up the exposed live stitches,

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and boom. (I know you’ll all ask – the yarn is MustStash perfect sock, and the colourway is Martian Rainbow.)

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When the heel was done, I even did something incredibly clever. I made notes about how I’d done it, wrote them on a post-it, and tucked it inside the finished sock.  I always think I’m going to remember how I did things, and I never do.

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I end up spending tons of time reading my knitting and trying to figure out what I did – but not this time.  This time, I actually did what I tell people to do all the time. Then I started the second sock, knit the toe so I was past the tricky bit and it could just be a simple thing that travels in my purse for the next while, and…

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Started a baby jacket and knit most of the yoke.

Lots of knitting! A mountain of knitting. Started things, finished things, organized things!   it almost made this stupid cough worth it. (Cough. Not really. I’m just trying to be positive.  Cough)