Just do it

Lately, I have taken to working occasionally from the what’s become my “upstairs office” which is – well. It’s my bed. In the first autumn of the pandemic something in me snapped and for the life of me I suddenly couldn’t figure out why Joe and I were sleeping on a tiny crappy mattress that was more than twenty years old.  The thing was second hand when it was new to us, and it was way, way past its best before date. It was too small too – when Elliot was with us it just meant he kicked us all night, and I guess I’d really come to hate that bed a lot, but somehow back when we travelled a lot I got breaks from it and didn’t mind it so much.  Cue the lockdown(s) and suddenly it became the focus of everything that was wrong in the world. Everything. Covid? No, I can handle that. Living in the city with the longest lockdown in the world? No, I am not upset about that in the least. Being separated from my loved ones, friends and career and yarn stores? No, none of that is a problem, it was just the STUPID BED.

I finally ordered a new one, sight unseen. I had a conversation with a nice lady named Dory at a bed store and I just bought what she suggested, which was some hybrid blah blah, king size and I had her ship it here.  A friend asked if it wasn’t kind of strange to buy a bed without even lying in it first, but all the shops were closed on account of the lockdown, I’d snapped and – as I told the friend, the great thing about sleeping in a really, really terrible bed for a really, really long time is that truthfully, any bed that Dory sent over here was going to be such an upgrade it didn’t matter much. Before the bed came, I scrubbed every inch of the bedroom, repainted, got new curtains, new sheets, and a new duvet. I even bought a lamp. It was time and I love it. The bed, the room, the everything. Our bedroom is one of the brightest rooms in the whole house, and with Joe still working from home its often one of the quietest, and now that my entire life is lived in stretchy pants and wool slippers, it makes total sense to have a bed-office. (It also doesn’t help that I’ve filled my actual office with the setup for filming the Patreon. At least up here I don’t have to worry about knocking over the weird card-table-tripod setup I’ve got going on down there.)

So, here I sit, with an awesome cup of tea (recently have become addicted to Monarch Tea Company’s Cream Earl Grey) and I’ve brought up my knitting, and as soon as I’m done writing this I am definitely not working on this sock until I have finished Ken’s sweater.

Yarn is the precious and heartbreakingly discontinued Dream in Color Everlasting  in Victoria. (Dream in color still makes great yarn, just not this one.) and the pattern is Verbena Socks.  It’s great fun, and I’m even enjoying the colour, and you can write that down somewhere – that I was grooving on a purple yarn, because knitters it is most definitely not my favourite colour. I wonder if it’s partly because for some terrible reason, I have developed an aversion to knitting on Ken’s sweater, for no good reason, I might add.  I love the yarn, it’s a good pattern and I’m so close to finishing it should be all I want to work on. I think I’ve only got about 12 more rows of brioche to do on the back of the thing and then all it needs is a bath and a bit of assembly and a neckband.

This, I think we can all agree – is not much.  Yeah verily it is very little, and I can’t tell you why every single time I pick it up it just seems like a slog. I’ll knit two rows and then find myself thinking things like “Goodness me, I shouldn’t be knitting this! Look at that sock. It’s far more urgent” and then off I go to knit… well, anything else, really. It makes no sense, but has been good for getting other things done around here, because it turns out I’d rather do anything at all than finish this – even clean. Somehow, I’ve put it on the list of things I will do immediately once everything else is done and naturally everything else is never going to be done, especially if I keep starting things, which I am absolutely doing.

So, here it stops, today.  I’m not knitting anything else until this is in the bath. If nothing else, it’s started glaring at me, and I can feel it looking at me with judgement. Once inanimate objects start taking on a personality it’s past time to get them out the door.

This ends today, sweater.

At least that box is sorted

We had a very nice Thanksgiving here this year, a few more faces than last year, though still really tiny and covid-cautious. We still have gathering limits here- 25 people is as many as can gather indoors at home, and we’re still playing it cool until all of us are protected. Hopefully kids can be vaccinated in the new year, and then we’ll joyously return to having as many people for Thanksgiving as will fit in this house, but until that day, we’re doing the best we can to make things nice while we do our best to keep each other safe and keep driving the caseload down so schools can stay open.

We had mountains of food (turns out I’m terrible at figuring out how to do Thanksgiving dinner for just 8 of us) and I made an extra effort setting the table, and we used my Mum’s good china and my Grammy’s silver, and it really was very beautiful. (Elliot and I made turkey cookies and we felt like that was pretty epic too.)

Also Meg finished her very first grown-up size sweater (she knit a wee plain one for Ellie to practice.) For her birthday this year she wanted a sweater – but the some assembly required kind.  Happy to enable, I bought the yarn and needles and we chose the pattern together. The yarn’s Holst Garn Supersoft in Truffle (From Wet Coast Wools, I miss getting to that shop) and the pattern’s Jakers.

I couldn’t be more proud – she’s become such a good knitter. Meg’s work’s so tidy, and she takes real care. I’d like to believe that this comes from her having such a good teacher as a wee one, but mostly it’s that she rips her mistakes back quite cheerfully – the yoke of that sweater was very good knitting value. I think she got to use the yarn at least three times.

It was all pretty perfect – or Covid-perfect and so what I did shouldn’t be a surprise, as I’m the resident klutz. As Amanda turned to take the carrots to the table – the very last dish to be taken, after two solid days of cooking flawlessly, I looked at those carrots and thought to myself that they could be a little more perfect if they had a little parsley on them, and so I turned to the cutting board, laid a little parsley there, and then proceeded to take a run at lopping the end of my finger off and once again establishing the purpose of fingernails and the dangers of the garnish station.

Thanks to that fingernail, I just gave myself a decent nick in exactly a spot that is vital for comfortable knitting and typing and thus seriously upset my lifestyle applecart. This tragic injury has meant that knitting’s been largely impossible but that hasn’t stopped me from trying. When I’m not picking yarn out of my bandaid I’ve been starting the autumn version of the Tossing of the Stash. The whole thing’s getting turned out of every box, bin, bag and cupboard in the house, examined, given a shake, all the shelves and bins and boxes vacuumed and then everything put back in a tidy and orderly fashion. I do this twice a year, since prevention is the best medicine and yarn loving pests are most active in the spring and fall. It’s also a great idea for me to visit the stash right before I start the holiday yarn buying spree – it usually turns out that need less than I think.

My finger’s already feeling lots better, and I think I’ll be able to take the bandaid off and knit more in the next few days – but while I’m on hiatus and Thanksgiving’s still on my mind, I figured a round of Karmic Balancing Gifts was in order! (Apologies for it taking so long for me to get to it. I can’t explain the passage of time right now but it’s really not working properly.)  Here’s round one, with more to come.  (By the way, in case you were wondering, Cameron, Ken and Stephanie (me) are registered for next year’s Rally.  Pato has to see about the time off.) I’ve sent emails to all the lucky recipients, so if you see your name here, check your inbox!

Kicking things off – Michele at Three Bags Full Studio has this lovely bag that will be making its way to Catriona. (Michele has fantastic bags and will be at Rhinebeck this year – pop in a buy one on my behalf, if you’re going, won’t you?)

Mika has just the loveliest gift – she makes custom dolls at Stitches and Thyme– from 100% OEKO-TEX certified cotton and stuffed with OEKO-TEX certified wool.  The dolls are approximately 11 inches tall from the tips of their toes to the top of their heads.

The best part – she’ll be working with Susan R to design the perfect doll for them. (Her dolls are suitable for gentle play for children 3+. The clothes are removable and may include small parts.)

Nadine is very generous and has beautiful gifts, right from her very own stash, donating four 100g skeins of Merino Lace by Skacel.  Each skein is 1375yds.  Also, one 100g skein of FA RE Baruffa, 1460yds, each one is big enough for a shawl and will find new homes with Amy Y, Jennifer K, Kathleen P, Leslie C and Grentchen F. (We’ll let them figure out who gets what by email, but they’re all pretty lucky.

Linda found these two lovely gifts. This set of six mini-skeins by The Yarns of Richard deVrieze will be headed to the very lucky Penelope P.

And these two vintage skeins of STR in Rosebud will be heading to Lynn T. Thank you Linda!

Sue owns the Log Cabin Fiber Co here in Ontario and she’s got a sock set in her new colourway Qyrgesdot – Hoarder of Gold.

That will be heading to Kathleen C – and thankfully I ordered my own before showing you this webpage. Gorgeous. (Look at the pumpkin sets, so stinking cute.)

Susan went into her stash and somehow figured out how to part with this  – a gradient set by Yoth Yarns, fingering weight, “Little Brother”.

Susan must be one of the nicest people alive, because she’s sending that beauty to Eileen M.

Once upon a time Tasha had a plan to knit a Stephen West shawl with this set of 2 skeins of Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga. The colours are Blue Morpho and Bess Beetle, and she did knit that shawl, but in other colours, so these are on their way to Jo-Anne D.

Tasha said in her email that she feels like a helpful little elf, and that’s because she is!

Look at this beauty!

Liz at Crystal Cat Stitchery has this gorgeous bag for Emma L. It’s a large sized oval shaped tote bag that will hold 600g of yarn, with lovely leather handles and two zip pockets for notions. (And I think I want one. It looks like a perfect beach knitting bag.)

Elizabeth has bunnies. Bunnies like this – little English Angoras.

Related to that, she has four generous and beautiful gifts – all from her own two hands.

GrayYarn — squishy handspun yarn headed to Bri B – mixed breed gray wool with a bit of English angora rabbit fiber.   Approximately 100 yds/90 m, 99 grams/ 3.5 oz.  A little bit of thick-and-thin, maybe the average weight is a bit more than DK but not quite worsted.
Blue-ishYarn — thick and fuzzy handspun yarn for Kate D a mix of Wensleydale, blue-faced Leicester, and little bit of mohair.  The roving was from Maggie’s Farmin Brookfield, NY.  Handwash only (or felt).  Approximately 90 yds/85 m, 110 grams/ 3.9 oz.  A little bit of thick-and-thin, maybe average weight is worsted.
For Patricia E.  1 oz of angora rabbit fiber from “blue” (gray-bluish) English angora rabbits raised by Elizabeth in upstate NY.  Almost no vegetable matter.  The fiber strands are not solid blue, but have bands of blue and creamy white and some fibers are dark (some of the rabbits are “ticked” with black fibers).  Buns in service: Penelope, Frederick Remington Wentworth W. The First and Last, and Ferdie.
BlueHarlequinAngora for Jocelyn A 1 oz of angora rabbit fiber from two “blue harlequin” (tan/gray) English angora rabbits raised by Elizabeth in upstate NY.  Small amounts of hay. These rabbits have patches of tan and patches of blue (gray) fur on their bodies, the fiber seems mostly cream-colored when loose and spun up.  Buns in service: Marienne, MadgeLynne.

Stephanie at Dirty Water Dyeworks (longtime friend of the show – hello Steph!) has a lovely gift for Ruth T  who will be choosing her colour combo of this lovely Mini Multi Bundle.  (Those bundles are perfect for a Tool Box Cowl, which is what I made with mine.)

Lenny’s a designer and is kind enough to offer gifts of two of her patterns, and they’re lovely ones. Tammy and Karen L will be getting Finial:

and Claudia W  and Linda L I bet you know someone who loves cats, because you’re getting the Kitten Cat Mittens (and they would make a great Christmas present.)  Thank you Lenny!

Whew! That’s the first lot. Stand by for more. (Actually, sit by. Easier to knit that way.)

Well, that didn’t last

As predicted, the cleaning and organizing bug didn’t last and worse, ran out midway on a project or two which are now a slog, and a slog I need resolved fast, since this weekend is Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming, and…  our gathering will be still be very tiny, but there will indeed be a few people in the house and I’m aiming to have things as lovely as they can be. (You wait and see what kind of hum-dinger of a holiday we’re throwing when this thing finally rolls over.)

It makes total sense then, that as the pressure comes on and I should be making a grocery list and planning how the parsnips will be and deciding about cranberry sauce, that I completely abandoned all that and finished a shawl.

Pattern and yarn are from the Gauge Dye Works Summer club. I don’t belong to many anymore, but that one always turns my crank. No matter what they send I always adore it. The colours are pretty indeed, and the yarn’s mostly merino with a little cashmere, just to ice the cake. It was a pleasure, and fun and easy too. I mostly knit it while being interrupted by Ellie every few minutes, so that was much appreciated.  It’s a small-ish shawl.

I find the really tiny ones hard to find a use for – but this is just big enough to be useful without being unwieldy. The larger ones I might use for a layer, draped over my shoulders in a fairly classic fashion, but that was in the before-times when I went knitterly places. (Or, um… places.)  Shawls this size I wear like a scarf, piling and winding it round my neck as caulking against the cold. Or, that’s how I would wear it if it were for me, which it isn’t.  This one will go in the post a little closer to Christmas, which makes me feel a little bit like I’m planning for a future instead of just knitting.

With the rest of today I’m finishing a video for the Patreon, and then tomorrow I am going to alter the time space continuum, and finish another video, clean the whole house, sort the groceries, and I’m thinking I’ll finish a pair of socks that currently look like this.

I’m sure it will be a snap, and I won’t regret the shawl at all.

I might dust that

As much as I hate to let go of summer, I am trying to embrace the Autumn.  It’s always felt like the genuine start of a new year to me – all the relaxed ease of the summer goes out of our lives, and for our family there’s a general sense that it is time to settle down and get to work.  Maybe it’s a holdover from the school years, but September and October feel like you should buy office supplies and generally get some sort of grip on… everything.  In Joe, this looks like mumbling around the house muttering words like “plans” and “next” and making piles of paper, that and he’s far more likely to say “good idea” to my suggestion that we call the guy about the porch ceiling than “let’s get to that soon.” (That is Joe for “Hell no we’re not doing a renovation.” Also, happening this week, I hope. The thing leaked last year and while the roof is fixed, the ceiling of it drops peeling paint in our hair while we come and go now. Winter is definitely not going to improve it.)

For me, it’s a time of the great and mighty list and spreadsheet, and for scrawling grand statements of intent on the tops of notepads. Bold statements that say things like “Organize Main Floor”  or “Deal With Closets” or my favourite (just wrote this one down this morning) “Christmas?”  (The astute among you will note that these are particularly crappy plans, lacking form or detail, and being too large for anyone to accomplish in one go, no matter how tidy the block letters are that you wrote it in.)

(This is Ken’s sweater, so close to the end that it’s silly that I spent the morning sorting the bathroom out. It needs just a few hours of my time. )

This year I am particularly interested in “getting the house together” (similarly vague and difficult to accomplish, I know.) One of two things is going to happen this winter. Either the pandemic situation is going to improve significantly and people are going to start coming in my house again, in which case I had better tidy up,  or things are not going to get better, and a long-lonely winter stretches ahead of me and I don’t think that I can get through it if the junk drawer in the kitchen is still like this. (Actually, and more to the point, I don’t think Joe can get through my winter if they drawer is still like that.)   Things are going to have to get better in this house no matter what, and the great time of deferral, of lying in the sunshine and thinking that I’ll clean up on a day when it’s not so nice out…it’s over, and it’s time to clean something.

It is time to feather this nest, to dust, to organize, to take things to the thrift shop, to finally fix that stupid shelf and get the right kind of lightbulb for that lamp that’s all wrong. It is time to toss the stash (more on that another day) and start to make a list of what yarn I need to buy for the winter. (I find it’s best to do this right after the stash toss, when I’ve just had a good visit with it and can’t possibly convince myself I’m low on sock yarn.) It’s time to wash the fronts of cupboards and prune plants in the backyard and this year, be the kind of person who rakes up all the leaves before the snow lands on them and you have to clean them up all slimy in the spring.

(A little shawl from the Gauge Dye Works August club – it would be done if the kitchen pantry wasn’t so sorted now. Also, bastard slugs do you see those leaves.)

This feeling, the urge to clean … well, anything to be clear, is a rare one for me. I like being organized but I really hate cleaning, and usually I have to bribe myself with knitting and audio books to get it done at all, so if the mood is with me… I’m going to go dust.