I rolled into Vancouver yesterday – a day early for Knit City, because a few months ago my niece Savannah moved here with her Fiancé Kosti, and I miss her. (Them.) Sav’s a midwife, and so when I decided to tack an extra day on to this trip to be with her, I kinda knew I might not be with her. There’s always a chance she’ll be called to a birth, and I knew she was on call, but the odds were great – and the worst thing that can happen is I end up hanging out with Kosti for the day, and I like Kosti, so it was totally worth the shot.

Yesterday, when my plane landed, there was a text from Sav – saying that she’d been called to a birth. I sighed, took the train to her house, Kosti let me in, and I knit, chatted, answered emails and we went to lunch and it was lovely, and against all odds, Savannah walked in the door just before suppertime.  We sat, and had a lovely talk, and we thought about where we’d go to dinner, and Sav started bringing out the knitting projects, things that haven’t worked out quite right, and asking me about them.


Now, this is part of our relationship, me and Sav. I “help” her with her knitting projects all the time – if by “help” you understand that Savannah will inquire about what could possibly be done to rescue a project in trouble, and I’ll start to tell her what needs doing, and then she’ll look at me and I’ll realize that she just wants me to fix it, and then I do, because I’m her auntie and I love her.  Yesterday she had an extra good one though. About a year ago, Sav dropped by my place and asked about gauge, and borrowed a needle, and I “helped” with another knitting project, and she was starting the Grace Cardigan. She had some great yarn, it was all wound and she was off to a good start.

Well, I guess something came off the rails at some point, and her mum Kelly was in town, and Kelly’s a very good knitter, and Sav got Kelly to “help” with the sweater, which means that Kelly took it home with her to Vietnam, and knit it. On her last trip back here, Savannah got the sweater, all done, with just one little glitch, which is that Kelly was too far away to exactly nail sleeve length, and they were a little long. “What can I do?” Sav asked, in exactly the way that means “What can you do?.”

What could I do indeed.  Well, it’s a top down cardi, so I unpicked the cast off on the sleeves, ripped it back, picked up the stitches, and re-knit the cuff. I got half of one done, and then it was time for dinner. The three of us (four- if you count the cardigan) headed out, and we were no sooner at the corner than Savannah’s phone rang, and she was gone. Kosti and I had a nice dinner, and came back to the apartment, and hung out and I worked on fixing the sweater, and then I went to bed. This morning – still no Savannah (birth can be slow) and Kosti was asleep and I got up, sorted myself out, and tried to finish fixing the sweater.


In walked Sav, we had a quick chat, and then – having been up for more than 24 hours, she fell into bed.  I sat there, by myself again, and decided to sew the buttons on the sweater, and I was thinking a little bit.


I was thinking that here my niece lives far away from me, and I don’t see her much, and then I’ve come to see her and the fates have decided that might not totally work out either, and I still feel good about it. I feel like I’m with Sav, doing something nice for her, contributing to her well being. When I leave here today to go do Knit City, Sav will have a sweater that fits, and is cozy, and as the fall advances and she’s chilly she’ll shrug it on, and that’s a connection between the two of us. I sewed those buttons on.

I was thinking about her mum Kelly too – Kelly’s really far away, and I don’t see much of her, and this – unpicking sleeves and re-doing them, sewing seams, finishing sweaters… Kelly and I have been doing this together for a long time too – it’s not the first time we’ve worked together to make a project happen, and that made me feel connected to Kelly too – Maybe it’s just jet lag, but even though I can’t be with Kelly and Sav, I felt like I was with them as I worked (and reworked) their stitches.   It was re-assuring – the more things change, the more things stay the same, and we may not be in the same city or country anymore… but we’re connected, as long as it keeps taking three women to make one sweater, like it always has.


PS: Savannah, while you were sleeping, I fixed the edge of that blanket you knit. You’re welcome. See you next time.


An extra toothbrush doesn’t solve it

I got home from Calgary last night and I’m leaving for Maine tomorrow, and I had forgotten, in the few months I had off from work travel, how much I dislike these fast turnarounds.  It always makes me wish that I had a go-bag, like they do in that tv show where they’re always flying off at a moments notice to investigate a crime because they’re they only ones who can do it. They have a private plane, too, so it’s become a well developed fantasy of mine. The call comes – and off they go. They just say “I’ll get my go-bag”, and it’s pre-packed, and they all look so good all the time.   (What show is that? I only get to watch it in hotel rooms in the states where I can’t resist the allure of US Netflix.)

I like the idea so much that I’ve done what I can. I’ve got duplicates of all my toiletries, and they stay in my suitcase so that I don’t have to rustle them up, and there’s chargers and a few other things, and truthfully I’ve thought about having a few sets of clothes in there, but I go all over and the weather’s always different and sometimes I need nice clothes and sometimes it’s jeans and one year I sort of tried it, but I stopped when a really nice knitter came up to me in the airport and said she knew it was me because she recognized that shirt from lots of pictures.

The big problem is the knitting stuff. Speaking engagements – now I could totally have a go bag for that – but if there are any workshops or classes, now we’re talking handouts and tiny balls and we have not yet begun to touch on the problem of my personal knitting.

This last trip – the one to Pudding Yarn in Calgary (I had a wonderful time there by the way, thanks for asking. It was hard work but the shop owner is awesome, and the students were really clever and kind, and the weather was gorgeous and I got to visit the Bow River. What more could I want?) I took the sweater I’d just started, and some socks that I’d been working on for just a little bit (and two balls of sock yarn and some extra sweater stuff in case I knit faster than I ever have before.)  Calgary is pretty far away, so I got some great knitting time in as I travelled…


and I had two evenings on my own…


Pattern: Girl on Fire  Yarn: Two Grey Dogs


Needles: 2.25mm. Model: Sam. Worlds greatest Knitwear Model.

More than that, the Rhinebeck sweater (Little Wave) saw lots of action.


That’s about 20cm of the whole sweater – and that’s about half of the body done. Then there’s just the sleeves, and the yoke and I have 23 days until Rhinebeck. I hate to say it, but it’s all going so well that I feel like I should put tons of yarn in my suitcase for this weekend.  I can see now that it’s the knitting that’s going to stand between me and a real go-bag – but I can’t see how it’s workable if part of your scene keeps changing and getting used up? I feel like the police in that show just don’t knit.




Here’s how much I’ve got of Little Wave…


A very pretty cast on and seven long rows of the whole sweater, front, back and front,  and you should have a good look, because this evening when I sit down, it’s going to the frog pond for a lovely swim, and I’d feel bad about it, but I’m actually pretty happy.

When I went to cast on last night I did something a little dumb. I made the executive decision to cast on the second size, which has a finished bust measurement of 36.5″/ 93cm. I did this despite knowing that my bust is 37″/ 94cm, and despite getting gauge, and so knowing that the sweater was going to come out smaller than my bust, while hoping for at least some ease. I did it because I didn’t have enough yarn for the next size up, because inexplicably, I only bought six skeins of that yarn, and that’s not quite enough for a sweater.  To tell you the truth, I was pretty surprised that I would make the decision to only buy six skeins, and for a day or two I’ve been trying to figure out why I’d do it.  Were there only six skeins at the shop when I bought it?  Why would I buy it if there were only six? Could I only afford six, and when the yarn budget ran out I was so besotted with the yarn that I just bought what I could so that I’d have it it anyway? Was I thinking about a huge vest? Did I think I’d ever make this yarn into something for someone else?

I looked at the pattern, and saw that I didn’t have enough to make the size that I wanted –  and decided that the difference in sizing wasn’t that big a deal, berated myself again for only buying six,  and cast on something doomed. I can’t explain what I was thinking – except that I last night I had convinced myself it would “block out”* and had decided to rely on my short arms to take less yarn in the sleeves, which is ridiculous, never works and I know it.  The short arm thing is bull too. I’m just petite, not built like a T-rex with tiny vestigial arms.

This morning though, something  amazing happened.  I woke up, stretched, put my feet on the floor, and realized not only that I did buy seven skeins, but also that I wound one of them into a ball for swatching years ago.  More than that, and even more fantastically,  I knew exactly where it was. I got up out of bed, went straight to a particular cubby, and pulled it out – big swatch still attached, and not even cast off. (Before you ask, I have no idea what I was swatching. Looks like I was trying to make a sweater front a swatch, but I have no idea what sweater.)


So, back it goes, and I get the size I want, and the sweater will fit the way I want, and I’m starting to feel like this is charmed, which is not at all how I usually feel while pulling out a couple of hours of work, so isn’t that lovely.

* Knitting rule: If you’re hoping something will “block out”, it most likely will not. Corollary to that rule: The more important it is that the problem “blocks out” the less likely it becomes that blocking will do anything. Yeah, verily, if a project hinges on blocking to be big enough to fit, this will be the time that blocking makes your project smaller. So say we all.

Maybe this year will be easy

This morning before I went downtown to do seventy five things and ended up buying shoes and yarn (some days are perfect) I knitted a little swatch for my Rhinebeck sweater and set it out to dry. I wasn’t planning on getting gauge for any particular sweater, although I did have a short list of candidates for this years epic, I was just having a first date. A flirtation. A chance to hang out together a little bit and see if we were going to get on.  It was a pleasure, and the swatch looked like all was going to be well – and off I went.

Truth be told, when I left this morning the list of sweaters I was considering was really short. So short there was one on it.. Little Wave. I was pretty sure it was the one I wanted, but I knew the new Brooklyn Tweed collection was coming out today, so I didn’t want to commit until I saw that. You never know – and I usually love that stuff, so I left room to change my mind.  While I was out I perused the thing, and you know what, it’s lovely (I especially love the options for guy fit vs ladies fit… very neat) but there were none I loved so much as the Little Wave that was already alone on my list.

I trundled home to have a look at my swatch, see what my gauge was, and start experimenting to get gauge… except you know what?


I have gauge. Perfectly. Both stitch, and row, and without fudging, fussing, or thinking about it. It’s like a magical unicorn with a comfy saddle just decided to live in my backyard so I don’t have to take the bus anymore.

Stitch, and row. Without trying, on the first go. Beat that.

PS. I do not have a tatoo.

Didn’t even hear a bear

We’re back, and sorry for the radio silence my pets, we arrived back home safe and sound, and I was going to post and tell you all about it, and then bright and early Monday morning, my laptop (perhaps sensing the big plans I had for it) completely bricked. (I use the term bricked here to mean that the thing did a brick imitation, with all the abilities a brick possesses.)  It’s taken several frustrating days, but I’m back up and running, and thanks to what I’ve learned from previous computer incidents, I lost nothing this time. Not so much as an email drifted off into the ether, and although some stuff I needed was trapped inside a dead laptop (I guess, since it’s okay now it was more like it fainted) I’m hooked back up again now, no harm, no foul. Just three days of trying to get things done on an ipad, and really, those things are made more for tracking a knitting chart and surfing Ravelry than they are actually doing work stuff.  Ever tried to do some real typing on an ipad? It’s about as effective as using spoons for knitting needles.  Still, I’m here now, and all that is behind us.

Attached please find several pictures of our wonderful trip, because I know you’re all just dying to see our vacation snaps.  (I have got to get someone working on that sarcasm font that I need so badly.)


We drove up to Algonquin Park and went in through Achray access point, near Petawawa. (That won’t mean much to most of you, but Algonquin Park is huge, more than 7000 square kilometres, so saying that you “went to the park” could mean a lot of different things. It’s big enough that the west and east halves have different animals and climates. This is Canada. We have a lot of room to make parks.)


We packed everything we needed into our canoe – and off we went.


This is backcountry camping. That means you get around by canoe, and you bring in all that you need, including all your food and water. There are no facilities. Nada. This time of year you don’t even really see people.  We had a little stove to camp on – just one burner, and other than that, our cooking was over the fire, and you have to find and chop your own firewood.


We have a great water filter, so we can drink lake water, so at least we don’t have to carry all that in – and we can’t run out, which is really great, and at night your food and garbage go into a bear barrel and a special cooler that doesn’t let any smells out, and you hoist the lot of it up a tree. It’s to keep the bears from finding you interesting – or finding you, really.

waterfalls-2016-09-13 joeandi-2016-09-13 campcanoemap-2016-09-13

We had a map, and a compass, and we travelled all around the lakes, portaging between them as we went. (Portage is a fancy word that means “carry your stuff and your canoe”.)



It all went very well, with the exception of one extremely rainy night and day, when Joe and I asked ourselves the question that everyone in the backcountry of Algonquin asks themselves at some point, which is “Is the closest Fairmont in Ottawa, or Kingston?”  We almost paddled out that day, but at the last minute, right when we were about to abandon the whole thing, the rain stopped, and we were able to get a fire going, and after that, everything seemed possible again. The backcountry is sort of like an episode of survivor. Fire is life. (Or, at least happiness. I can do almost anything as long as I’m getting whiskey and a fire at the end of it. Almost.)


It was lovely, and everything we own is almost clean again, including us. (I found a pine needle floating in my bath the second day we were home. I wouldn’t have been too bothered about it, except that it was my third bath. I’m hoping it was in my hair.) We’re both back to work – and it’s time to settle into the productive time that is September.

I’ll be in Calgary this weekend (at Pudding Yarn, great shop, and I think there’s a spot or two free in one of the classes yet) and I’ve chosen the yarn for my Rhinebeck sweater.


Blackwater Abbey 2-ply worsted, in Pippin. I thought I’d chosen a pattern, but I’m waffling. Tomorrow. I’ll decide tomorrow.

It’s September. The unofficial start of the year if you’re a wool person, and I’m ready. Let’s go.

I’m sure they are accessories

The Worlds Top Knitwear Model was kicking around the house on Friday, and I asked her if she’d try on the cowl that I finished a little while ago, since it didn’t have an official picture yet. It’s the Ghazal Cowl, and it started like this:

ghazalroving 2016-09-05

and I spun it into this:

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and then I knit it into this.

ghazalon 2016-09-02

That’s about how long it took, too. It was a fast knit, and worked end to end with a provisional cast on, and a graft, so perfect for handspun. I used just about every inch of the stuff.

ghazalhold 2016-09-02

Then (because she still looked game, you gotta strike while the iron is hot with youth, they can turn on you in a minute) and I asked her if she wanted to model some mittens. Oh, yeah, remember the other day when I thought I was coming down with a bad case of washcloths? Turns out it was mittens. You couldn’t have surprised me more. I sat down with some cotton and straight needles, and then had a bunch of walking to do, and subbed out work on dpns so that it would be smaller (I can walk knitting on straights, but I live in the city. Dpns reduce the risk that I’ll be imprisoned at the end of the day for whatever charge is related to accidentally impaling someone. Assault? Negligence? Reckless endangerment? Fourteen inch straights seem like the fastest way to find out.) By the end of the day, this pretty pair fell off my needles.

purplemittens 2016-09-02 purplemittensup 2016-09-02

Yarn: Very lovely Red Barn Yarn worsted weight in what I think is “Amethyst Two” Pattern: mostly Waiting for Winter. (I may have fudged a few details. Like Gauge. Or increases. That sort of thing.)

purplemittenspeek 2016-09-02

It is not easy to get a person to put on wool and mohair mittens in this kind of heat, I tell you, so I was pleased as punch when she was willing to give the next pair a go.

skienonmittens 2016-09-02 newmittencoming 2016-09-02

That second pair really caught me by surprise – one minute I was thinking about another washcloth and the next thing I knew, that was there. That picture was taken on Friday, so that pair is all done now, and it’s been 48 hours since I cast on a pair of mittens. (I did get a pattern out, but I just looked at it.) You might want to back up from your screen. This mitten thing might be contagious.

undertree 2016-09-05

(Pattern: Waiting for Winter again, but modified for my gauge, yarn –  my handspun from 2008. Never let anyone tell you that stashes aren’t smart.)

I’m hoping to get a post up this week, but Joe and I are leaving on an adventure, and I can’t predict if I’ll have any service.  After the car camping with Jen and the girls last week, I’m up for a little “real” camping.  We’re leaving today and driving North to Algonquin Park, and there we’ll put in with a canoe, a bear barrel,  a map and compass, and paddle our way into the backcountry. Just us, my knitting, and the wilds of Canada.

I’ll say hi to a moose for you.