Runaway

Well before Christmas, Jen and I were on the phone, and we were talking about Jen’s latest placement. She’s in her third year midwifery, and one of her student placements is up north. (Not that far north, the Near North. That’s actually the name of the region, to tell it from the Far North or the Arctic, which of course would be the North North.  This is Canada. We’re almost entirely made up of North – we’ve got a lot of ways to describe it.) She asked if I would come visit during the month that she lived up there, and I said that I would, but I wasn’t sure if I would. I mean, I thought I would like to, but she hadn’t come up here yet and she didn’t know what it would be like yet or if she would be busy or if the little cabin she rented would have two coffee cups or… You know. It seemed to me like there needed to be details.

Well, fast forward to last week and Jen’s been two weeks living by herself in a little cabin in the woods with a hot plate and no bathtub,  studying at a midwifery practice and keeping weird hours, and she was starting to sound a little bit weird.  When the internet crapped out and she lost that lifeline to the outside world, I firmed up my plans.

viewfromcottage 2018-01-19

Yesterday I packed up heaps of knitting, pulled together a menu I think I can serve off of a hot plate, and headed out the door. I arrived yesterday, and while Jen’s on call and so we can’t stray far, we we’ve set ourselves an ambitious agenda of hiking, eating, knitting and tea drinking.

northlake2 2018-01-19

The weather is perfect, cold, but not too cold, wintry but not vicious, and we are made for adventure.

northlake1 2018-01-19

Also, it turns out that this midwifery clinic has a great yarn bowl.

yarn bowl 2018-01-19

A wolf in the hand

Just a quickie from me today – I’ve got a little free time here at the end of the day, and in this ocean of a busy week, tonight’s got knitting written all over it – I’m on a roll – there’s so much knitting going on.  Heaps of it, things falling off the needles – that magnificent cowl is finished (I’ll show ya later) and that sweet pair of Wild Wolves, knit for Meg.

meganshandswolves. 2018-01-16

The photos are courtesy of Meg, as you can tell by the photo assistant.  (Meg said he wanted them so badly – as soon as she put them on he was all over it.) I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but Meg’s married family name is “Wolf” and so technically our little Elliot is being raised by Wolves (though he’s one too, so one assumes he’s fine with it.)

elliotlikesthemtoo 2018-01-16

This was a super fun knit, and very quick, just an evening for each of the pair, if that, and I made only one change to the pattern.  There’s two rounds on the foreheads of the wolves that have three colours per round, and I gave that a resounding nope.  I used the two colours (background and light grey) for those rounds, and then began using background and dark grey when it was those two colours per round, leaving a long tail both when I started the dark grey, and when I ended it.  When I was all done I went back and used the tails to duplicate stitch on the few stitches in the rounds prior that needed to be that colour. Easier for sure.

wolves 2018-01-16

I really love them, but for one little thing, which is that the pattern has you go in and embroider the nose and eyes of the wolves after the fact, and the eyes are french knots. That was easy enough, but I can see from the pictures Meg took that the knots (one in particular, if you spot the squinty wolf on the right) aren’t all staying on the right side of the work. I forget what you’re supposed to do to make them stay put (a piece of felt on the rear? Splitting the plies of the fabric?) but the wolf with the missing eye looks a little dodgy to me.  I’ll see if I can fix it.  Do any of you know the magic trick for making them stay on the right side?*

delicious wolves 2018-01-16

*Really, I can look it up, but what’s the point of having the blog in my life if you aren’t one enormous brain trust.

PS. The mittens aren’t just good looking, they are Elliot Verified Delicious.

 

Keep the Rabbit out of this

When Luis was born, Joe’s mum Carol lost her mind in the most charming way, and showed pictures of that kid to every single person who lived on earth.  We called it the Nana-cam, and she whipped out snaps of her darling boy at every possible opportunity. On the bus, in restaurants, in the queue at the bank, attending an exercise class… no person and no situation was a grandson free zone. I remember thinking it was lovely that she was so proud and so delighted, but also heaving a sigh of relief that I would never be swept up like that.  I am not that sort of person, I thought, smiling as she whipped out her phone again.

Yeah. Well… wasn’t I cute, because this morning as I started getting this post together I reflected for a moment that maybe you guys wouldn’t want an Elliot post two in a row. I thought maybe I should write about something else, like maybe cables or how to count rows,  and that maybe I should get a grip on myself when it came to the grandson thing and then honest to goodness I swear to the lot of you, I realized that I could not imagine that even one of you did not want to see pictures of him in his new sweater, and as I thought that – I had another thought simultaneously, and it was “Oh no I am the Nana-cam”.

So I guess I am, and look! Elliot has a new sweater!

elliotsweater 2018-01-12

This is Flax Light, knit in the fabulous new sweater striping yarn from Gauge Dye Works. It’s a thing now.  They made some, it sold out, but they’re making more, because it’s pretty much the coolest ever.

bunnysneer 2018-01-12

It is definitely cooler than Elliot’s rabbit, which is not living up to expectations. (I am unclear on how the rabbit is disappointing him, but I think we can all agree that his position is clear.)

flaxlightsmile 2018-01-12

I’m loving this little sweater, and Megan and Alex are too – it’s soft, thin, wearable as clothes rather than a layer, and looks great on him.  If I can get that yarn in another colourway, I’ll make him another one. Something’s got to make up for the rabbit.

Team

I’m ready to talk about the hats.

A few weeks before Christmas, I noticed that the Tiny Lumberjack hat that I’d knit for Elliot was too small. (He’s really a rather petit little fellow, but growing like a weed.) Meg had it on him with the brim folded down and well… it triggered some grandmother knitting.

eillothat 2018-01-09

I decided he should have a new, bigger one for Christmas.  Easy enough.  I mucked around with the pattern, changed it to worsted weight, and made it big enough to last him a good long time. One evening while I was knitting it, Joe looked over and complimented the hat and said he’d really like one just like it. Then Pato said the same thing, and then I started thinking about how much Sam loves it when people have matching clothes, and an idea was born.  It was a crazy idea – I see that now. I decided I would pound out eight of those hats, one for everyone* knit in time for Christmas.  This idea, as mad as it was, had a lot going for it.

a) this is a very cute hat.

b) who doesn’t need a hat, also they are faster to knit than socks.

c) Sam loves matching things so much that I imagined that when she figured out we all had matching hats, she would probably go bananas.

I started. I bought the yarn (then I bought more yarn, seeing immediately that I didn’t have enough**) and then I just kept knitting them.  At every occasion I pulled out a grey cabled hat with a red and white striped brim, and nobody said anything.

hatmass 2018-01-09 ahtonatplane 2018-01-09

Nobody in the family caught on that there were multiples of this hat…

hatmassif 2018-01-09 hatandbag 2018-01-09

and as the hats waxed and waned across my instagram feed,  progress gained, lost, then gained again… not a single person left a comment that said anything like “Wing of moth, how long is it going to take you to knit that hat”

hatandfire 2018-01-09 hatandboots 2018-01-09

or “Did you have to rip back? Were you not almost done that beast?”

or “Is this all you knit now?” (Which would have at least been accurate. It was all I knit. Me. That hat.  Morning. Night. By the fire. By the tree. On buses. On airplanes. Everywhere. That hat. All the time.

hat lounge 2018-01-09

By Christmas morning I had (almost) all the hats knit. I wrapped them all up, with a label that read “For Joe (and Sam)” “For Meg (and Sam)” “For Alex (and Sam)” and I handed them all out at once. Sam was enchanted and excited….

familyhats 2018-01-09 hatsandgrampas 2018-01-09 amanda hat 2018-01-09

joeandelliotandhats 2018-01-09 mumanddadhats 2018-01-09 patohat 2018-01-09 megalexpato 2018-01-09

samcloudy 2018-01-09 samhathair 2018-01-09

pennyhat 2018-01-09

It was as awesome as I thought it might be, and everyone was so happy, so delighted to be like each other – it got me thinking about teams and uniforms and that maybe Sam is onto something with the matching stuff – maybe it’s comforting to know who’s on your side at a glance.

This was confirmed for me the other night, at our regular dinner with Elliot (and it’s nice to see Meg and Alex too) when Joe wore his hat, and then Ken arrived wearing his, and Elliot looked up at the two of them and you could just see his little mind processing the fact that they had the same hat on, his eyes flicking from pom pom to pom pom.   Ken noticed him looking and leaned in. “That’s right” he said. “It’s the same hat….”

joeandkenhatelliot 2018-01-09

“It’s how you can spot your people.”

elliot up 2018-01-09

*I look pretty phallic in most hats, and this one is no exception. I skipped the one for me.

**Wrong again. I have heaps of leftovers. Yarn insecurity is a terrible thing.

Not a hat

In the last weeks before Christmas (and before New Years, I was running late) I knit eight hats, and the hats were all I knit. Morning, noon, night, hats, hats, hats. I’ll show you pictures another day when I can stand to look at them, but the important thing to know about that little streak is that now I am so tired of hats that I’m feeling the occasional urge to slap them off the heads of strangers.

During the last of the hats, I comforted myself by lining up two projects I was going to start the minute it was all over, and when I say that I lined them up, I don’t mean that I sort of thought about what it was going to be and kept them in my mind.  I mean that I took the yarns out of the cupboard, got the needles, organized the patterns and put it all right next to me so that it was literally lined up. I’d knit a hat for a bit, then reach over and pat the reward yarns, quietly mumbling eloquent things like “^%$#%ing hats.”

I started too look forward to the reward knits so much that I worried that maybe I was making too much of it. I wasn’t.  I started both of them, and I love them – Wild Wolves –  I had a kit that I bought at Knit East. It’s entirely charming, knitting up quickly and delightfully not hatlike at all.

wild wolves 2018-01-03

Also not a hat?  Bonfire.  I’ve been dreaming of this one for a while – I ordered the yarn ahead so that I’d have it, and I’m so smitten.  It’s Freia Fine Handpaints in Flare, and a solid to go with.

flare ombre 2018-01-03

It’s not often that I use the yarn a pattern calls for – I’ve got a big stash and I like to use it, but this yarn is so perfect for this pattern that I couldn’t imagine anything else. My hat free life is so perfect.

bonfirestart 2018-01-03

I am never knitting another hat.

 

As you mean to go on

As I was getting ready for the new year yesterday, I was writing a blog post in my head.  I started to write it down too, and then realized that I was totally on the wrong track and deleted the whole thing.  I was writing about how sad it was, caught up in the idea that this would be the first year of my life that I didn’t speak with my mother at midnight, that 2018 would be the first year that she wasn’t alive at all.  I was writing about how this year had been our “annus horribilis” – the worst year of my life,  and as I typed the words, they began to lose traction. That wasn’t all this year was. For sure, this is the first year I won’t talk to my mother – but this year will be the first of many years that I have my grandson. I went back and looked at the pictures I took this year for a little perspective.

(January)

January2017 2018-01-01

(February)

february2017 2018-01-01

(March)

march2017 2018-01-01

When I was growing up, my mum had tons of traditions – for everything. Things you had to do or say or wear at certain times of year, on special days. When I was younger I thought they were dumb, but when I became a mother, when I started to be responsible for creating a sense of family, a team that was going to pull together, I saw the cleverness of it. These little things, these small structures – they give a family its backbone, its character, the ways that they are special to each other, and an enduring feeling of connection. “This is the way we do it… this is who we are… ” It’s strengthening. I’ve clung to those things over the last few weeks, trusting that our traditions would help me feel less lost, and it’s mostly worked. Yesterday was no different, and neither is today.

(April)

April2017 2018-01-01

(May)

may2017 2018-01-01

(June)

june2017 2018-01-01

Yesterday I cleaned the house, did laundry, emptied a drawer, straightened a closet, urged us all to be in good shape as we began a new year.  “End as you mean to go on.” I could hear my mum saying it to me – reminding me that the place I was in as the New Year struck would set the tone for the year to follow.  I swept the floor, taking care to throw the contents of the dustpan out the back door – mum says that makes sure you sweep the old years troubles out the door too. We paid our bills, put coins in the backyard for the light of the old moon and the new moon to shine on so we’ll have enough money this year – mum was always very clear on that one.  I shared a beautiful dinner with people I love, and I made sure that the first person across my threshold after midnight was a dark haired man. (As usual, Joe was sent out, only to be admitted back in – though he is getting so grey haired that I wasn’t sure that it would take, so later Sam’s boyfriend Mike came in ahead of her, just to be sure. The concept of a First Footer is vague on the details, as was my mother.)

(July)

july2017 2018-01-01

(August)

August2017 2018-01-01

(September)

september2017 2018-01-01

(October)

October2017 2018-01-01

(November)

november2017 2018-01-01

Today I’m doing all the things my mum said were important.  I’m hosting a levee, I won’t wash anything today, to make sure no one in the family is washed away this year. I’ll do a bit of work, to make sure that my work is successful for the next year, I’ll take a moment to tell the people that I love that they’re important to me, keeping them bound to me for the next year. I’ll put the coins from the new moon in my purse, and I’ll drink a toast to the people I wish were here. My grandparents, Janine, Tupper, Mum… I’ll look back, and then I’ll look ahead.

(December)

December2017 2018-01-01 December2 2018-01-01

I’ll begin as I mean to go on.

newyearsday 2018-01-01

Happy New Year, blog.

(*PS I totally just cast on something new too.)