Little Things

The little things are starting to get me down.  I am beginning to dream of chunky yarn, big blankets, cozy cowls knit out of bulky… something that when I’m finished knitting it and say “it’s over there” people don’t strain their eyes in the direction of the project and say “Where?”

I long to hold needles that are bigger than 2mm. I almost snapped yesterday and knit another Encompass (they’re a pretty fast gift, and I thought it would take the edge off) but I pulled myself together at the last minute and knit another ridiculously tiny thing.  I’ve knit 18 of 24 tiny things (and yes, that does put me three days behind schedule but I had a snowflake incident this last weekend. I’ll tell you tomorrow.) The end is in sight, and every time I find myself sighing in the general direction of something else, I double down. Today there are flurries and it’s very windy and very dark, so no current pictures for you, we’ll have to make do with ones from last week.  While I was at the retreat I made pretty good time, even with working very long days and the time spent defending Santa Mouse from Judith.  That wee woolly rodent had her entirely in it’s thrall, and I feared she’d nick him if I weren’t vigilant.  We knit, we dyed things (and there was leftover indigo, so Judith had a go at Debbi’s hair) and ate,

debbihair-2016-11-21 debbiphone-2016-11-21 dinnerplate2-2016-11-21

and everyone was making amazing things, and they were all bigger than mine.


While I was there, I made (from left to right) A star, a sweater, a snowman, a gnome baby, an olive (inside joke, I know it’s not very festive) and a heart.  I used all the patterns linked there, with the exception of the snowman. Mine looks a lot like the original, but I upsized it significantly. I still bought the pattern because it was her idea and not mine, and that’s worth paying for.


While I was on the ferry, I was knitting some other tiny thing, and Debbi went off for a few minutes, and a very nice looking lady sat down opposite me – in Debbi’s spot. She pulled out her notebook, started writing, thinking, enjoying her quiet space.  I knit, and looked out the window, and when Debbi came back we talked about something – can’t remember what, but I think it was a normal conversation. Then the chime rang, telling us we should get ready, and I said to Deb “hold on, I want to take a picture of all my tiny things” and I lined them up, and took out my big camera, and worked hard to get them all just so, and took their pictures, and the whole time I did, there’s this lady, sitting right there, just out of the shot on the right, and this lady is so stunned that she can hardly breathe and I can tell that she’d really like some sort of explanation, and I offer none. She watches me do this, and I say something to Debbi like “should I get out the mouse or is it cool like this” and Debbi says it’s cool and checks her phone like it’s all no big, and Debbi says the mouse is overrated anyway, and then I pack up my tiny things and leave, and the woman just watches us go.

As sick as I am of the tiny things? I’m never going to get sick of freakin’ out the bystanders. That lady is going to wonder about the mouse for weeks.





102 thoughts on “Little Things

  1. You got this. You know you do. It’s 4 weeks until Christmas, it’s 10 sleeps until Dec 1. You *can* finish all the tiny things before then, and still knit something bigger and nicer, as long as it’s on the spreadsheet and is intended for a gift.

  2. She may not be a muggle. She may have been as (as you would say) gobsmacked at being in the presence of THE YARN HARLOT as I was the first time I met you and simply didn’t know what to do. Unless one keeps up with the blog, one wouldn’t expect to see you in a ferry in the middle of “nowhere” (which is how I would characterize my stomping grounds).

    So why didn’t you Kinnear her? (or maybe she Kinneared you!!!!!)

  3. It also freaks them out if you ask them to try on the mitten because you need to know if the thumb is long enough yet. But if they’re Canadian they’ll comply out of politeness 🙂

  4. The tiny things are wonderful, as you well know, but you have a mean streak – and you pull it on us, too. What’s this about ” …I had a snowflake incident this last weekend. I’ll tell you tomorrow.”? Snowflakes don’t last that long, at least they don’t where I live down South! Can’t wait to see the finished product.

    • If past blogs haven’t convinced you, snow can last a split second here, or weeks. 😉 We had a small dumping about 50k away from the lady Harlot and they may have gotten more.

  5. Snowflakes can be wily, just ask anyone who’s tried to drive in a bunch of them. As for the tiny things and the ferry lady, confoundment is what one can expect on public transportation and for many of us is one of the elements in the curry of life. Personally, I would love to see if Santa Mouse gets along with everyone else but I worry he may want to put on the sweater and nibble the olive, and then where would you be?

  6. OK, that’s it. I’ve been knitting nothing but chunky cowls and I must knit 20 tiny snowmen now (with pockets; also an inside joke). Those teeny, tiny branch arms!! I die.

  7. Leave them wondering! My sister and I made an interesting conversation in Hawaii years ago only for the sake of the woman who gave her a weird look as she scooted, naked or nearly so, from the shower area to the toilet area of the public restroom at the beach park. We might have tried to give the impression that we were getting ready to go to “work” rather than board an airplane!

  8. But but but…the olive is linked to the heart pattern and I NEED THAT OLIVE!! I suppose I could figure it out on my own, but time’s, like, passing, eh, and that day is coming, and…somebody help me find the olive, pretty pretty pleeeeeeease.

  9. I think a Christmas Olive makes perfect sense but maybe that’s just me. I do get called “a little geeky” disconcertingly often!

  10. I’m really hoping the Olive has to do with reindeer.

    You all know the song… Olive the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names….

  11. Steph, you were “freaking the mundanes,” as a friend with whom I attended sci-fi cons said of nonparticipants’ rections to folk in Star Wars gear or SCA garb would say,
    Good on ya — the mundanes NEED a lot of freaking.
    I may just have to knit little things for the Grandboyz’ next Christmas.

  12. They all look so great!!! I’d love to do this someday – knit a December calendar for a little one!
    I am currently down to the last 1 3/4 Christmas / Yule gifts that I have left to knit: 3/4 of a loooooong scarf for my very tall husband, and a Chicago Cubs hat for my dad, who has waited over 60 years to see them win the World Series.
    I also have 3 big seminar papers to write in the next 3 weeks, so unfortunately those are my number 1 priority (ies).

  13. Keep on keeping on! Encouraged by your calendar for Luis I made a similar one for my grandson, The Sweetest Baby in the World. It took me weeks, but is worth every moment. Keep meaning to post it to Rav. Hope to do that this weekend. Thank you for your fantastic posts and projects. Look forward to every new one. My son always says when he hears me laughing at the computer….Hey Mom, something new from The Harlot? Indeed.

  14. Olives are definitely festive. They go in martinis and on party trays and I’m pretty sure the words festive and fiesta are related. The colors, too, suggest Christmas – green and red!

  15. They all look great Steph would you post when finished I’d love to see the finished article. Not many left to go now keep at it then you can reward yourself with chunky.

  16. You do know I am going to make up a story about the olive. How all the other ornaments were all about Love and Christmas and Snow, and here it was, just an olive. Yes, it deserves to have a story.

  17. Snort! Some friends of mine are probation officers and they have to take hands-on drug training classes every so often. So they are all eating lunch in a restaurant during a class break and Joanne turns to Sue and says “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I just can’t get my heroin to cook!”
    Doncha some restaurant patrons within earshot are still wondering about that……

    • My daughter and I were once in a play, and she was a convict. One of my friends was played a cop. Later that year, we attended another play as audience and my daughter brought along a friend from school. The friend who played the cop was also there. “This is my probation officer!” My daughter chirped brightly to her friend, who knew all about the play.

      The lady behind us in the intermission snack line, who clearly had not seen our previous production, moved her kids away so fast they were almost a blur.

      It was hysterical.

  18. I totally understand the urge to want to knit something with fat yarn. It is gratifying fast. But we know you’ll get these done.

    The gnome baby is adorable. Had to buy the pattern.

  19. Reading about a finished project…reminded me. I once started an Aran sweater in a boys 8-10 and finally finished it the night before his senior pictures ( in a men’s medium). I felt like birth announcements should have accompanied the senior pictures.

  20. I just want to say that this post made me incredibly and warmly happy. Happy to be a knitter, happy to be in such great company (even virtually) and it kinda went a ways to helping me regain my happy place after lots of travel and not so happy happenings.
    Thank you all !

  21. The tiny things are adorable and made of love. But the tiny struggle is real. It’s the fine gauge yarn that gets me. I’ve been working on a honey cowl in sock yarn for-ev-er. Sometimes knitting on it makes my teeth itch. The next one will be in heavy worsted. Last night I cast on a baby bib in dishcloth cotton to take the edge off. Now I’m remembering that the honey cowl stitch pattern makes an excellent cotton washcloth.

  22. I love the fact you included the coffee cup in the picture for scale, so we can see just how tiny the tiny things are. In awe of the detail!

  23. I can’t wait to start my advent teeny knits after the Holidays…I just finished 40 widdle teeny leaves for the border of a shawlette and I think I’m teenied out for now….

  24. I seriously want to be knitting small things now. But my feet are cold (thanks snow), so I am pressing on to finish the second sock of two different pairs. I have 5 mismatched handknit socks at the moment, the others being beyond the darning stage.

  25. So. Freakin’. Adorable. The little collection sitting there in the window is just fabulous. I know you are tired of the tiny things but they will be well-loved coming from you. You are nearly there and then on to the chunky knits!

  26. *I’m* wondering about the Santa mouse, too! I like to knit littles. Your little ‘uns are adorable. But do be kind and give us the Santa Mouse link.

    Happy holidays to all.

  27. The tiny things are all adorable!! And the sweater matches the hat. Thanks again for another heart expanding retreat – there was no better place to be than with our tribe. Best wishes for the holidays – good luck with the rest of the tiny things!

  28. I adore these. I want to knit a whole bunch and make a mobile with them for the baby boy due Mother’s Day to my daughter who never thought she’d be able to have children. She and her husband and we are over the moon already in love with the little guy and we can’t wait to meet him.

    This cast on my hand is a nuisance.

  29. I think you should just have business cards, that only say “” on them, to hand to people as you depart in mystery………. then they could check you out if they really wanted to!

  30. My secret is that I knit tiny things all the time. Am practically phobic about knitting garments. I CAN do it, and I have done it, but I simply don’t get parcels of time large enough to do it now. Whereas the small things, those I can finish, then get excited about choosing the next one. 2mm needles I love you.

  31. I suspect that this is exactly how my neighbours feel, when they spot me in the garden in my bathrobe, camera in hand, arranging a shawl on the hedge.

  32. Olive, check. Mouse, check. Really adorable picture of Judith and Debbi, check! Thanks for a post full of fun and mischief. It was much needed.

  33. Oh, all the tiny things! Love them! I find the olive to be quite festive. It’s red, green, and reminds me of eating olives during the holidays. Green olives were my grandpa’s favorite and each time I enjoy one, now that I have a mature pallet (sp?) I remember him fondly.

  34. I promise you, if I had been the one to snatch the seat next to you, I would have been flabbergasted that I had only just realized I had sat down next to the one and only Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I was kind of keeping an eye out for you at Rhinebeck because I would love to meet you (I did not make it to the hill for the meet up), but also kind of dreading the embarrassing fan girl I would become if I actually did spot you.

    However, I too love shaking up the realities of common bystanders with the fantastic wonder of knitting. It’s one of my favorite things.

    I also agree with so many others that olives are perfectly festive. My mom always puts a plate out on Christmas day, no matter what it may be that we’re eating with it, simply for the sake of tradition. “[Her] grandmother and [her] grandmother’s grandmother all put olives out at Christmas, (darn) it. And a anyways, they’re green and red.”

  35. Thank you thank you thank you for all the links to the patterns! As the aunt of a newborn niece and the soon to be aunt of a great niece (youngest in adopted family, oldest in natural family makes for a wide age spread amongst the niece population) I have been adding patterns to my rav library and favorites, with an eye toward next Christmas.

  36. 1) My oldest is called Martin, and we call him Martini all the time, so he has a pimiento-stuffed olive hat he has worn since he was a baby. I craved them while pregnant with him . . . now he needs the tiny knitted olive – will be doing this immediately.
    2) I use indigo on my hair too! Henna first, then indigo, and it is a lush deep brown.

  37. I kind of love offering no explanation for slightly weird things. I was recently in a show, and one of my roles was as a mermaid, for which I was very very sparkly. On the bus on my way home, some guy asked, with a certain amount of incredulousness (I am, after all, in my 30s, and am well past the point where I can pass for anything remotely resembling a teenager), “Are those sparkles on you?” I could have explained why I was a grown woman covered in sparkles, but I just smiled enigmatically and said “Yes.” He looked confused.

  38. I too love to take my knitting everywhere. I usually get some interesting conversations. I always get some unusual looks as if people never saw anyone knitting before. I love it.

    • No kidding. I was knitting on a park bench last week and some guy walked by and said, “Whoa! Now THERE’s a lost art!” as though I was sitting there knapping flint tools or something, not engaging in a popular hobby to which entire boutiques are devoted.

  39. Olives are very festive in my home. Hubby only gets them when there is a holiday. His mom only bought them for holidays. My mom only bought them for holidays. I can’t stand them. But there you go.

  40. My great grandfather was a German-trained dyer. He was German, moved to USA. Became “boss dyer” in a number of mills. His daughter-in-law, my Grandma, said, “I would never get on the bus with blue hands”.

    Ellen in Connecticut

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