And I might have another nap too

Sometimes when I write to you, I sit here tapping my fingers on the keyboard, thinking of what I could be doing that would be interesting for you to read about.  Paperwork? Laundry? Another pair of plain socks because this is Canada and winter is always coming? Then there’s weekends like this one, where I did so much that’s worth telling you about that I can’t decide what to tell you first. I think I’ve got it sorted out now – I’m going to show you knitting – I know, totally shocking.  I was going to tell you about the weekend, Jen and I did our “back-to-backs.”  It’s a training benchmark everyone doing the rally has to meet, and this was the deadline, and so on Saturday we rode about 115km, and on Sunday we rode another 105km and together that’s about 220km or about 136 miles, for my American friends, and after careful reflection, there’s only two positive things I can say about it. We lived, and it didn’t rain. (It is almost a shame it didn’t rain, because it would have taken the edge off of the oppressive heat.) I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t struggle. It was really, really difficult, and I’ve been having a hard time with back pain while I’m on my bike this year. It’s a new thing, and I can’t quite figure out what’s causing it, but I can tell you it’s sorta awful.  (That’s an understatement. It almost makes me cry on my bike, and if you know me, that’s really saying something. I’m not into public tears. I cry in the bathtub like a proper McPhee.) I’m also not into suffering (more than I have to) so before several of you cyclist knitters out there pile on in the comments, know that I’m getting a bike fit (another one) and have an appointment with a sports medicine doc, and I’m working with a trainer, and stretching AND today, I am resting and enjoying the miracle of ibuprofen.  (If I’m missing something there, you can tell me, but I think I’ve got the bases covered.)  I am always, always unbelievably grateful for the donations you guys make to the ride, but I want to specifically thank the knitters who donated on Sunday and made my phone ding. Some of those cheerful little noises came at exactly the right moments, and specifically, Hannah D – you are personally responsible for the fact that I didn’t get in a damned taxi and sob my little way home.  Whether you know it or not, you guys have good timing.  Thank you. I know that it seems like a big deal to train for and do this ride, and you’re right, but it means nothing to PWA without your help.

Now, a little knitting? Actually, a lot of knitting. Let’s be fair.  On Thursday night I stayed up late and put the last few rows into the latest baby blanket, and blocked it with Joe’s help.  It was 2:30am by the time we finished, and I have to tell you, there is no love like like that of a non-knitter blocking a blanket in the wee hours.  He’s a good sport, my Joe.  (Also, while he’s a pretty poor knitter, he’s pretty good at blocking.) I put fans on it, and the next morning it spent a little time in the sunshine to finish drying – and then it was done. Completely, entirely-nobody-else-is-pregnant-spare-me-from-blankets-for-a-while-done.

Chair 2017-07-10

As soon as that bad boy hit the water, it was clear to me that once again, I had overshot in the blanket department.  It would seem that no matter what my intentions are, I cannot knit a small one. This is another ginormous beast.  As always with these epics, there is no pattern. I like the idea that like the babies that I make them for, they are one of a kind. This one is for my sweet new nephew Emmett (that’s Joe’s middle name, and quite a compliment, he thinks – though the word on the street is that his brother forgot that was Joe’s name when he picked it, but you’ll never convince Joe.)

Like all these blankets, there’s a theme – I chose the stitches to reflect the child, and the family that they’re in, so for Emmett’s blanket, there’s leaves and ripples of water, for their love of the out-of-doors, and canoeing, and trees…

blanket theme 2017-07-10

and the border is triangles (for the family of three that they were) and squares – for the family of four that Emmett’s birth makes them.

blanket2 2017-07-10

The edging is the same one that I put on his sister Myrie’s blanket, waves and waves, for both Chris and Robyn come from islands.

Like with Myrie, I know that you’re dying to see Emmett, and he is indeed a beautiful boy – but like his sister, he’s a stealth baby. Chris and Robyn are keeping him close, and private…

footsie 2017-07-10

and maybe someday he’ll choose to be on the blog, but he’s too little to say so today. You’ll have to content yourself with his darling wee feet, swaddled up in a ton of wool.

Well, not quite a ton- but remember when I said that I was ordering so much yarn that there was no way I could run out and have a yarn emergency? Remember when I said I’d learned my lesson, and I’d gone way, way, way overboard in the yarn buying department? Knitters, my darlings, I bought 20 balls of it, and my confidence was high.  I spent half of the blanket trying to figure out what I was going to do with all the leftovers.

blanketclueone 2017-07-10

Turns out it’s not that big a decision.  1.75 balls remain.

Whoops.  Stay warm, Emmett.  Welcome.


108 thoughts on “And I might have another nap too

  1. Sweet feet. Oh, yes, lovely blankie, too.

    If all else fails or you are up to trying new things, try acupuncture. My acupuncturist is a sports one (I work in an office and knit, but have old injuries so need someone who knows his stuff. He does herbs and Chinese massage, too. Keeps me working full time, and that’s a big deal.

    • I was also going to suggest yoga for back pain. National Public Radio did a piece a little while ago on a study comparing the efficacy of yoga and physical therapy for low back pain ( They found equivalent results, and the article included links to the yoga plan. So far it’s working for me!

  2. Beautiful blanket, beautiful baby feet, and beautiful Stephanie and Jen for the back to backs–well done all around!

  3. Beautiful blanket and baby feet. Obviously well loved.

    Wow and you rock biking all that far even without back problems. Yup I am getting these too with age. Or maybe I should say more often. There are lots of options out there and you will find what works best for you.

    You dazzle us in so many ways.

  4. That’s not a baby blanket — it’s somewhere between an afghan and a blanket for a king-sized bed! It is lovely, but now you need to make small things — booties, dishcloths, placemats. Things that don’t take 20 balls, skeins, or hanks of yarn. If it helps you to limit the scale of your projects, go stash diving for all those little bits of leftovers and use them.

    As for the back, Joe should brush up on his massage techniques. More fun for both of you.

  5. I especially love seeing your baby blankets! They are glorious works of art. I hope you attach permanent tags to them so future generations know you designed and knit them.

  6. Honestly, I much prefer seeing the feet more than the whole baby at this point in their lives. They need a bit of time to acclimate.

    I’m in love with that yarn. I bought a 10 pack at the Webs Tent Sale (and let’s not pretend it was the only thing I bought) and it has gone into two delicious little baby sweaters so far. I have enough left for one more that will be casting on soon.

  7. I guess you can make Emmett a nice matching hat and bootees?
    Congratulations on completing that back-to-back – wow!

  8. I love the wee feet peeking out from the big blanket. It needs to be big to hold all the love that went into the making of it. Your stories of the what and why that goes into each blanket are always a delight. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  9. The only remedy I see you mention was ice. (good for both back inflammation and hot, humid Canadian summers). Wonderful job on both the blanket and the back-to-back rides! You’re a marvel.

  10. Absolutely lovely blanket! You have inspired me from the start. (for your poor back, a “tens” unit to zap the pain without pills or medication will help great. Less than 25 us online for a nice one.

  11. That blankie is not too big. He can use it on his king size bed after he is married . . . 😀 It is GORGEOUS!
    As for the back, maybe you should set up a donation goal for us to pay for you NOT to ride? Just a thought . . .

  12. a) No suggestions for your back, just sympathy! Back pain is terrible.

    b) Such a beautiful blanket for Emmett. And so much love and thought that went into it!

    c) I love his name. Emet in Hebrew means “truth,” and those are truly lovely feet. Congratulations to you all!

  13. Ah back pain. I exploded a disc a few years ago. It was so bad they wouldn’t do surgery. So I have some wisdom, many socks, and a very large blanket to show for all that downtime.

    Core. Strength. Get thee to a pilates therapist! Sitting down for a long period of time, whether in the saddle, at the computer or whilst knitting, is the opposite of good for you. You HAVE TO keep your kegels and deep core stabilizing muscles strong. A trained pilates therapist is amazing. Next time you’re in Calgary, go see Kathleen at Calgary Sports Health and Performance. She’s magic.

    Find a chiropractor who is not a quack, and who can diagnose SI joint problems. You might need someone to whale on your hips if that is part of the issue. No woo, just ability to treat structural malfunctions.

    Road bikes are brutal for back pain. That curved back position puts pressure on things that shouldn’t have pressure on them. And bike fitness is very isolated fitness. Do some hiking to work on dynamic balance, and if you can, do non-Ride related biking on a more upright geometry, or at least ride on the hoods as much as possible, get your back more upright. If you can get brakes that allow you to use them without having to reach to the drops, that’s a start.

    Good luck!

  14. Lovely blanket and precious feet. Kudos to Joe for helping with the blocking.
    And hugs to you and Jen for the misery of riding when you’d rather not.

  15. Biofreeze. I get it from my chiropractor and walmart now carries it. I have hyper sensitive skin (and back issues, spinal stenosis, arthritis and a herniated disk) and haven’t had any issues using it.

    Loving the baby toes, but the blanket more…. 1.75 balls…. bonnet and booties?

  16. Welcome Emmett!

    And for the back pain: in my experience, all back pain comes from the butt and hip flexors. The back is like the mom of the body—it will pick up the slack for everything else. Whatever stretches and strengthening the doctor or therapist tells you to do, do, even if it seems like the wrong body part. It always seemed a bit like hokum when they said my butt was lazy so it made my back hurt, but darn if they weren’t right.

  17. Hey Steph! I swore that I would never, ever see a chiropractor……..until I injured my hip. A good one can probably help your back. Hard core scientist here, and I am a firm believer that chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, and yoga are the secrets to back/hip pain if it is soft-tissue related.

  18. You knit quality, I knit quantity. For my granddaughter, there were several normal-sized baby blankets. Then a request for a crib-sized blanket (which I dyed with KoolAid). Then came a non-machine-washable finale that is big enough to go to college with the girl. All this before she was 4. Now I have switched to tube socks out of leftover sock yarn. Grandmas gotta knit.

  19. Dear Stealth Baby Emmett,
    I love your feet and love your new blanket.
    Your Tia Steph is wicked cool. You are one lucky baby.
    Stealth or not.

  20. That’s one heck of a lot of blanket! Let’s just cross our fingers that not knitting on 2 kilos of blanket helps your back. Dang!

  21. Oh, the wee feet are perfect. As is the blanket. Wow. Take care of yourself, and your back. It sounds like you are hitting all the bases though I see a few more good suggestions in the comments.

  22. Baby feet are two of my favorite baby parts…so very tiny and sweet. I always have to kiss them lol. Hey, random thought for you, Stephanie, if there are no babies in the near future, how about stealthily knitting Joe’s Gansey while his back is turned? Wouldn’t that be a crazy good surprise? After the Rally is done, of course.

    • Lol. The Gansey! is still not done? I ‘ve been away from this blog for awhile. its been…. 10 years? more?

  23. Re: the back pain. Don’t discount the weight training as a culprit, (though it can also be an aid.) Hope you are getting some expert personal training with how to use those weights! I’m a regular user of weights and also a cyclist and I am convinced that a mis-use of weights, no matter how minor, can affect your back and therefore your comfort when riding a bike.

  24. This year I did my first Century (I’m American, so 100 miles) and I’m training for my first Ironman (Canada on July 30th, if BC’s fires calm down 🙁 ). I never knew my behind, back, arms, hands, shoulders, feet…not to mention my legs…could hurt so much from cycling. Ouch. I don’t know how you do multiple days of this!! You’re a rockstar!!!

  25. You are such a dedicated and determined lady to bike so far when your back is killing you. Rest assured that none of us will think any less of you if you have to pull out of the bike rally to save your back. We’ll still donate to PWA and be proud of all of the hard work you’ve done on the organizing committee to make the rally happen, honest we will.

  26. I have been following your progress in your very busy life. Thank you for your reflections on knitting. It is a friend of the very best sort. It’s mano a mano, or womano a womano, a partnership. Some times it works and sometimes it does not. But I try not to ever bail on my knitting, because of the “relationship”. Silly but true, and your writing has reminded me of the many hours spent together. Sweet. Speaking of sweet, I love those baby feet! The blanket will always be there for a cuddle, and that can take place in high school. Bigger is better.

  27. That is a glorious blanket. I love the way you weave the family’s story into it – ever growing and yet bound together by your border. It’s perfect that it’s large – might still be around when Emmett starts having his own family in the future!

    You’re knitting reminds me of the knitting in the book Casting Off – one of the best fiction books I’ve ever read that incorporates knitting into it. Peoples lives are woven into their sweaters. Love that you do the same with your blankets

  28. Two words… massage therapy

    And good work on those back-to-backs! I know how hard that is, especially in the heat. Here’s hoping the adrenaline rush keeps you going on the Rally.

  29. I like baby blankets like that. Ones that will be used forever, rather than being too small and having to wait till a whole new generation to be used again–and that one’s just so gorgeous. Such a well-loved baby.

    (I think I need to go order more of the yarn I bought for a baby blanket myself, now, looking at that.)

    And thank you for riding!

  30. Lovely blanket, and if the toes are anything to go by, lovely baby!
    I might as well chip in my two cents worth re your back. I have a marvellous chiropractor and when I developed an awful pain in one inner hip, he told me it was tendonitis. How on earth I got that, I’ll never know. And recommended six months taking it easy. Yikes. After our awful spring, I was desperate to get into the garden and couldn’t do anything. So went for laser treatments. Sort of Star Wars-ish but helped a lot. I still think it’s weird but whatever helps.

    • Lasering is the closest thing to magic! My very low key chiropractor uses lasers and it has helped me so many times. Bruises? Gone. Wicked damaged tendon that prevented my walking? Gone. Carpal Tunnel from knitting too much while my dad was in hospital? Ok, steroid shots first, then laser to give them a boost. But, no surgery! The research is out there. It’s great.

  31. My spine doctor prescribed high dose fish oil (see below) for my back, because I have 3 bulging discs – diagnosed via MRI, along with physical therapy to stretch and strength my core and deep back muscles. I am mostly pain free as a result and no surgery.

    I take two of these a day to reduce the swelling in the bones in my back (yes, bones swell!): Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil 1290 mg, 90 Mini Odorless Softgels

  32. Adorable feet.
    I am always impressed by your skill, but I am AWE struck by your design ability–the imagination, the symbolism, and the way it all works together to be absolutely amazing. And the size will be just right to keep the little sweetie cozy through the coming winter (if all our rain is any indication of the snow to come, ugh).
    Good luck with all the meds etc.

  33. Don’t usually comment but had to say this is a lovely blog post for all sorts of reasons. What really got to me was the blocking help in the wee small hours – that’s love.
    Wishing you well.

  34. Another stunning blanket — not that I should be surprised! I’m sure little Emmet is going to treasure it for many years to come.

    Also? Riding those back to backs? I’m thoroughly impressed! I’m glad you’re getting yourself and your bike seen to, and I hope that you’re able to resolve the pain issues.

  35. You are my heroine. The bike riding is amazing, the blanket is amazing. I don’t even have words for how precious is the sight of wee baby feet swaddled in lovely wool. The design is beautiful and it means so much. I hope you wrote up a little card explaining the symbolism, so he can share it one day with his own littles.

  36. Every time I look at that blanket I think wedding. Lace weight yarn. Weaving the bride and groom’s history into a veil . . .
    Yeah, I’m not gonna attempt it! Heck, I’m having trouble getting a scarf done right now. But, you! You could seriously do it!
    If not a veil, maybe a throw for their sofa . . .

  37. Beautiful blanket, cute feeties!

    Maybe you could find a no-dye-lot yarn for all your baby blankets, so there would never be a question of too much or too little yarn, and the leftovers would just roll into the next one?

    As to the size of the blanket, perhaps you could calculate a reasonable yardage and commit to staying within it?

  38. Gorgeous blanket
    Sweet baby feet
    Agree with Judith to consider your weight training in your back issues. Check with a trainer that your workouts are balanced and that your technique is spot on. Ask yourself with each exercise “what am I working?” And “do I feel it there?” Lots of other good advice already given on types of practicioners and methods to try.

  39. That is a beautiful blanket, and I for one am perfectly happy to see Emmett’s little feet and nothing more of him if that’s how his parents want it 🙂 I hope he’ll enjoy the blanket for many years to come.

    • Oh and good luck with getting your back sorted 🙂 sounds like you’re seeing all the right people about it though! When I had a bad back attack a friend of mine advocated a glass of wine as being more helpful than painkillers, as it works as a muscle relaxant, I can’t drink wine without a meal, but rum worked too 🙂

  40. Just want to echo the thoughts here- gorgeous feet, amazing blanket.
    Your work for the rally is incredible too.
    My chiropractor has saved me. I just realized that I haven’t had to use ice on my back for the last 9 months, and that used to be a daily thing for me. I think chiropractic care, when you get a really good one, can be life changing in terms of pain reduction.
    That said, I hope all the other things you’re doing will be sufficient- as a busy woman, you don’t have time for it not to work!
    Here’s to healing fast.

  41. Now that VV is four, we are getting a lot of use out of our ‘baby’ blankets. We got some enormous white lace ones as well, you see. When she was itty bitty, they came out for special occasions, like photos and Christmas. But they were too special to risk on regular use, between all the various bodily fluids and the hassle of laundry.

    Now it’s summer, she’s growing up and it’s hot as hell – perfect weather for lace! So she sleeps with them on her bed as her only cover, just warm enough to cut the AC chill but cool enough to not over heat. If we could just teach her not to stick her fingers through the holes…

  42. Such a gorgeous blanket! They will become heirlooms and future generations will talk about Aunt Steph/Grandma and what an amazingly generous and talented knitter she was.
    I’m so sorry about your back. Make sure you don’t have a herniated disc before the rally.
    I’m going to give you a ding right now as a hug! Feel better!

  43. Sending great love to all! I’m so happy that Elliot will have so many playmates of similar age in his circle. Welcome Emmett. xo

  44. My 2nd physio appointment was today. For the first time in 5 months I am pain free…5 days out of 7 last week…and today. She did some stuff..and hit the nail/nerve/muscle on the head.

    So, see a professional. Don’t wait 5 months. Keep moving..but see someone. You are too young to take a chance on something becoming chronic.
    Congratulations on the blanket and your new nephew.

  45. Oh Em Gee. The feets. So cute!! Beautiful blankie, and such a lovely symbology. Can you make me a blanket? I’m not pregnant… j/k.

  46. I find the stick-on patches from the dollar store really do help with the pain, although they have to be peeled off slowly since you have tiny tiny hairs on your lower back that you didn’t know were there! It’s worth a try, as are aspercreme and tiger balm.
    I’m entranced by the triangles and squares – is that a charted pattern?

  47. I’m thrilled that my donations to you and Jen came at just the right time! You are my heroes for your dedication. Rock on!

  48. I love the “baby feet” pictures! Just enough for me to get all “ahh a baby” without intruding too much on other peoples private lives…but…ooooh baby feet! And, it wouldn’t be an Auntie Steph baby blanket if it wasn’t epic, would it?

    Along with seeing the right people, which you are for your back……have a second margarita to help the pain and stiff/sore. (A third if you are walking home,with a friend to support you! I would not suggest biking after more than one! Or even one, come to think of it in my case!)

  49. As a survivor of a herniated disc in my lower back, I can (and do) recommend a soft blue ice pack (made especially for backs I think). I keep 2 in my freezer at all times. 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. The cold reduces inflammation…

  50. For a quick, cheap ice pack, mix equal parts of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and the cheapest hair gel you can find. Put it in one or two appropriate-size freezer bags. Close bags securely (tape over the zipper if worried) and put in the freezer until needed. The mixture sounds crazy but the ice packs my daughter the nurse made got me through recovery from bunion surgery.

  51. I think you forgot beer in the recovery scheme.
    Those are the cutest feet.
    Beautiful blanket! Each one is just amazing.
    As is your bike riding.

  52. So sorry about your back. I have been there too and it’s no fun. I agree with the other comments about adding acupuncture and working on core strength. Acupuncture is a great immediate solution and has been a lifesaver for when I had back pain. My mom also had tremendous success with acupuncture and debilitating pain. Best wishes on the road to recovery for your back!

  53. Re the back pain: My daughter has been there and it can be incapacitating. We found that lidocaine pain patches bring tremendous temporary relief. They could make the difference between finishing the race and not. Rest, and sometimes a cortisone shot are long term solutions, but these patches will keep you from crying (other than in the tub, of course)! There are several brands out there but these stay put (most don’t with a lot of physical activity). They are expensive, but I keep them on hand all the time now. LidoPatch with 4% lidocaine solution. You can also get a doc to prescribe them here in the US. Here’s the Amazon link, Sorry, it’s a long one. Good luck with the Rally!

  54. Oh my goodness that blanket is a thing of beauty! Those tiny baby feet are just the sweetest thing ever!
    Way to go on the back to back rides; makes me tired just to think of it, but you and Jen are an inspiration! (*waving hello to Jen*) Hope you find a way to resolve the back issues before the big ride.

  55. Great work on the back to backs.

    Pilates helped to cure my back pain. It is really amazing what you can do with a good instructor. In PEI, Stephanie Knickle’s imotion fitness team helped me. So sorry to hear you are in pain. Sending healing vibes.

  56. Your specialized blankets for each baby is really making me feel inferior! I’d love to design something different for each baby I make a blanket for but alas, I’m a pattern follower through and through.

  57. Stephanie,
    Get yourself a recumbent bicycle. Your back will thank you for it. Honestly!
    Great jib on the blanket, it is a work of art!
    Peg L

  58. I love that your baby blankets are big enough to last those babies into adulthood, even if it is a seemingly endless sea of white yarn to knit for you.

    My back suggestion is probably covered under the sports doctor, but the Alexander Technique is great for readdressing any postural habits you might have acquired. I know it helped me be more mindful of how I sit to knit.

  59. Congrats on both the rides and the blanket.

    Someone suggested a baby blanket book – And I second that. Not full of set patterns to follow, but instructions on how to figure out how many stitches around the central square has to be to proceed with how many repeats of the next pattern you have chosen (or how to fudge it) and how o miter those corners and again how to calculate if the next border you want is doable. Please…I am a good knitter but still screw up every time I have to pick up and knit a armhole finishing on a vest or sleeveless sweater. Thanks (and come back and visit MN soon).

  60. Lovely blanket and of course the appreciative feet. Looking forward to seeing the whole package.
    Kudos to you Stephanie.

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  63. That blanket is just lovely! You often astound me with all that you accomplish, especially this upcoming ride. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for your back to straighten up and behave quickly! Your post today was a good reminder to make a donation.

  64. Panaway – essential oil blend from Young Living. Only thing that kept me upright at DFW Fiber Fest this year after I tried to break both kneecaps setting up that Thursday morning. Miracle stuff for most aches and pains.

  65. Every single time you write an explanation of the thought process behind your patterns, it makes me tear up. Your knitting is incredible. So beautiful. I hope their parents put your pattern explanation away for safekeeping so their children can read it when they are old enough to appreciate it. My grandma taught me that love is in the stitches. I think of that with every gift I make as it’s so very true and you further inspire me with your writings. Thank you!

  66. I admit, I skipped right to the bottom on this one. Didn’t read through the comments to see if someone had suggested acupuncture for your back pain. Epsom salt baths, on top of everything else you’re doing wouldn’t hurt either. But acupuncture would be fabulously helpful
    (I’m an acupuncturist, I’m slightly biased, but, you know, it’s a needle-thing) 😉

  67. Those feeeet!!! Also, that blanket is incredible! I can’t believe you designed it yourself! Good job on the biking!

  68. Once again, an exquisite work of art. The blanket, I mean. Please get Dr. John Sarno’s book, healing back pain. You’ll be glad you did.

  69. You are an amazing person. Wonderful knitter. I love how you created the blanket with the whole family in mind. What a treasure they will have in the coming years. (With the baby of course, but I was talking about the blanket too) More people should strive to be like you. So giving. I hope to meet you some day!

  70. Baby feet and a blanket- that’s a “frame-able” moment….as for the extra? obviously a baby hat or booties!!

    Congratulations on your back-to-backs- you inspire me!!

  71. Beautiful blanket, adorable feet-sies!

    Try a recumbent trike or bike if it’s allowed in the rally. They really are wonderful for the remedy of all kinds of bodily pain bike riders experience. You’ll be able to get rid of your bike shorts too!

  72. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this blog.

    I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own,
    personal blog now 😉

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