All that I survey

This morning, before I packed my bags and got ready to head for the airport, I spread out my knitting and had a little sigh about it. I brought three projects with me on this trip – and I didn’t meet my goals on any of them.  I forgot how completely exhausted I am after skiing, and what it’s like to try and juggle my other responsibilities with that.  Joe always says that the great thing about being self employed is the flexibility.  You can work any 14 hours a day you want, and both of us were feeling that.  If we were in the hotel room we were on our laptops, trying to get stuff accomplished and pretend to the people we had commitments to that we weren’t playing on the slopes, and I only managed to carve out about an hour of serious knitting each evening.  I did manage to get a few hours of non-serious knitting in each day as we travelled back and forth to the ski hill.  We like taking the bus once we’re there, and it gives you some pretty good knitting time, although I couldn’t bring myself to bring the blanket on the bus and then stuff it in my ski bag.  I’m too far along for it to get dirty or what if someone stole my ski bag? There would be no coming back from it.  I kept it in the hotel room – resisting the urge to put it in the safe.

I had three knitting goals this trip.  I wanted to finish the romper.

This did not happen.  It might happen today as I make my way home – my flight’s been delayed twice thanks to a snowstorm in Toronto, and it’s farther along than it is in that picture since I knit on it on the way to the airport, but mostly I’m behind.

I brought this little white sweater (pictured in the corner above) It’s a plain white cardigan knit on 2.25mm needles which is, rather predictably, taking forever.  I aimed to finish the body and start the sleeves. Even brought needles for the sleeves, but it was a total bust. While I thought about it a lot, it’s had the audacity to stay about the same, only a few centimetres longer than it was when I left Toronto. I suppose that I would have made better progress if I’d knit it instead of thinking about it, but I was so demoralized this failure that I didn’t even pack it in my carry on. It can think about what it’s done while it’s squashed in my suitcase.

The blanket…. that was the big fail.  My goal was to finish the border I’m on now, accomplish the little garter band before the next border, and be finished the next border, which is smaller than the first.  Sadly, not only did I not get this done, I fell way short.  I’m on the last round of the first border.  I think I forgot to take into account that this blanket is growing rapidly. Right now there are about 712 stitches in a round – but that grows by 8 stitches every other round.  Predictably, those rounds are taking longer and longer.  Still, I’m on to 8 rounds of garter now, and then 20 of a lace pattern much simpler than the last, so maybe there is some hope.  I’m going to work on it all the way home today, and it’s a 4.5 hour flight, so maybe?  It’s making me anxious, I’d like to make some real progress, but I’m going to avoid setting a crazy goal that just generates more knitting deadline anxiety.

Whew! almost done, which is good because I’m off to stand in the Standby line and see if I can get myself anywhere close to Toronto, but one last thing.  Debbi and Judith and I have had lots of questions about the retreat, and if there’s one thing we know, it’s that if a couple of people write to ask us, then a lot of people are wondering about it, so we thought that we’d take a few minutes a few days in a row to answer questions. (We’re speaking here of the Strung Along Spring Retreat. It’s March 20-23rd, and there are details on this page.  There’s also details about the June and November retreats there, but please note that those two are full, with a wait list. We can put you on that wait list, but for November in particular, those odds are not good.  If you were hoping for a retreat this year, March is your baby.)

I’m answering today- because this is a question we get that could be sung from my own little heart.

I would love to come and I wish I was the sort of person who could, but I feel really anxious about going alone and not knowing anyone and I’m not sure I can do it without a wingknitter.  Does anyone come alone? What’s it like if they do?

Knitter, my little cowardly, introverted, nervous self hears you.  There was a birthday party for someone really like last week and I had trouble going because I wasn’t sure I was going to know anyone there. It turned out absolutely fine, but I hear you. I actually AM you.  I can tell you a few things about the retreat that might make you feel better.  First, yup.  About half of the retreat is brand spanking new to the experience, and coming alone.  You wouldn’t be the only one, for sure.  Second, almost everyone else who’s coming is a repeat retreat who came alone the first time that they did, so they understand how you feel.

Next, this retreat was set up by someone who’s as nervous as you are (that would be me) and someone who’s pretty normal socially.  (That would be Debbi.) We’ve got it arranged so that it’s pretty cozy.  On the first evening you meet everyone in a big room, but you don’t have to talk to them or do anything, Debbi and I take the heat.  From then on, you’re in a small group with 10-14 other knitters, and they’re the same ones every day.  The whole retreat gathers for meals and evening activities, but you’ve always got that little group that you’re with every day, and almost everybody makes buddies in that group.

Last, I can tell you two things- there is lots of time to go to your room, regroup, knit quietly and gather yourself before you return to the fray. On the other hand, if you’ve made a friend or twelve, there’s lots of cozy living room style space to hang out and knit together.  We’ve got a little lounge that we hang out in.

The other thing of those two? We have knitters who have been coming for years, because it is the one time of the year that they see the friends that they make at Strung Along –  it is a point of pride for Debbi and Judith and I that the retreat is a ship that has launched a thousand friendships.  It is a beautiful thing.

If all else fails, you know me. I’ll be there.

If you want to come, email and we can talk about it.

31 thoughts on “All that I survey

  1. “I’m going to set a crazy goal that just generates more knitting deadline anxiety and entertains Presbytera.”


  2. Awwww….Stephanie…That is so “the glass half empty with a hole in the bottom and a crack on the side” kind of thinking.
    Think, instead, of the fun you and Joe had!!!!!
    My new granddaughter is going to get her very small baby blanket soon after her first birthday……last week. (Best laid plans) I’m HAPPY because I’m not mailing it to her at whatever college she decides to attend! You’re grandchild won’t notice…..I promise. Maybe spend some time loving these beautiful things rather than seeing them as failures at any point. Good Karma to knit in.
    BTW….I had to Google what FTFY meant Presbyteria! Gotta love acronyms (and Google!)

  3. I was going to say just finish the shawl but now think better of it (See Presbytera above )

    To the anxious knitter who would like to attend the conference : go for it. You are not going to be judged to be anyone else other than a knitter wanting to be with your kind. Within 15 minutes you will have a room of wing knitters . Your will automatically have subjects to talk about: knitting and the fact that Stephanie should really just concentrate on the shawl. I hope you have fun.

    • Seconding this comment. I am an extroverted introvert and I’ve gone with a wing knitter and without. Both were excellent, but I – just barely – prefer without. I relish the time in group and I relish the time in my room with the fire and the soaking tub! I’m still trying to figure out if I can make it in March, and I’ll be very, very jealous of those of you who go if I don’t make it.

  4. I can attest that what she says about the retreat is 100% true! I’m an introverted, shy, empath but these retreats are awesome. I’ve always had to come alone because I’ve scared all my friends with the amount of yarn in my house and they think that’s just how all knitters roll and they can’t take that on. If you’ve got the resources to go, I highly encourage it. Plus….if you like taking baths, those bathtubs are the best. 🙂

  5. You own stock in a popcorn company, don’t you? (No, Meg, get off that trampoline and let your mother keep what little sanity she has left!)

  6. I’ve thought about going to many knitting retreats, weekends, etc. but every time, I fink out because I truly am allergic to wool. Not only does it make my hands itch; the lanolin makes me sneeze and, after a few minutes, have trouble breathing (probably because I either inhale fibers or forget and touch my eyes or nose). I imagine myself unable to use the recommended yarn for the classes or sitting around, surrounded by knitters working with all the yarns I admire in the shops but cannot purchase. If reincarnation is a thing, I very much hope not to be allergic to wool in my next life!

  7. First, I hope your trip home is safe — there’s quite a storm out there!

    Second, remember to breathe. Everything will get done. Will it get done exactly when you want it to? Maybe not, but it will get done and no major tragedy will befall you if it gets done a little late.

  8. To the shy knitter — GO, GO, GO.

    It’s a long story, but my late husband left $1,000 in Canada. I always planned to pick it up on my way to some Canadian knitters retreat. Never found the time, and won’t do it now, because if I even uttered such a plan, my children would jump all over me. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

  9. To a shy knitter coming alone:
    I have been many many times (known as a repeat offender) and am longing to go to this particular retreat… if you are unsure about being alone, I will go if I can get a roommate, and I would be delighted to share with you. I am friendly, quiet, play well with others, and would do all I can to help make it a fabulous experience for you… not that you need me for that– it is always a fabulous experience for more reasons than I could list here. Not only will you enjoy yourself and learn a lot, you will start diverting money from your child’s college savings account so you can go back, again and again and again.

    • Oh, Allison, I always think of you at retreat time and wish I could go to I could meet you in person! (well, and all those other reasons!). I absolutely can’t go this year (my husband has been ill, which at least has given us lots of Dr. Who viewing time) but I am SO hoping for next year!
      Hope you go and have a wonderful time!

  10. I was going to ask about the blanket when I saw you in the coffee shop, but I ran out of coherent words. I’m glad there’s some progress happening….maybe the babe will be late?

  11. About the retreat – Go! You already have something in common with the others going there. Knitting. You will have plenty to talk about – yarns, tools, projects that were surprisingly well done or hilariously (at least now) off the rails. It’s not at all like getting dragged to something like a spouse’s high school reunion and your spouse is the only thing in common.

    Now, as a non-knitter (yes, still) if *I* were to go, I’d be sorely out of pl… wait, we’re talking knitters at a retreat that Stephanie has a hand in organizing – they’d probably shove needles and yarn in my hands and have me knitting in short order!

  12. Alright, I know that this isn’t helping now, but I think about your knitting speed every year. As someone who has to start their Christmas knitting in MAY to get it done (I have downscaled the number of folks who will get handknit presents over the past few years for various reasons), I am always in awe at what you are able to crank out in December alone.
    GOOD LUCK with the blanket!! I hope you will make good progress, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!

  13. I attended last year’s Spring Retreat, by myself, and it was a wonderful experience. Everything fell into place where I was able to attend this seemingly once in a lifetime experience. No regrets! This year, I am fighting a rare cancer that will likely not end well. My Oncologist has been educated on the concept of S.A.B.L.E.
    Keep on knitting!

  14. Note to All Blog Readers: If, like me, you are in it for the pictures, head on over to Stephanie’s DELIGHTFUL Instagram account for a sight of the darling romper and gorgeous pictures from Meg’s baby shower!!! (I admit this makes me sound slightly stalkery. Sorry.)

  15. Big gold star to the knitter who sent you the question. It takes courage to admit what makes us anxious.

    A big gold star to you too Stephanie. Your response glows with empathy, so much so that I teared up reading it.

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