Not Deleted

Well, hell.  So much for posting more regularly.  To be fair to myself, I did write far more regularly, I just didn’t hit “post” on all of them, I’ve developed a terrible habit of second guessing myself. I think it’s a pandemic byproduct and possibly the consequence of only wearing soft pants now.  So much of my time is still spent kicking around the house alone that it’s like I’m out of practice when it comes to communicating.  I honestly can’t wait for the vaccines to come along for kids Elliot’s age, though for sure it won’t be this year and another long quiet winter stretches out in front of me like some depressingly slow marathon I’ve got to get through. Honk if you never would have thought that a pandemic took this long.

That’s what a bunch of the posts were about, the ones I didn’t send you.  One particularly whiny one about all my American friends gathering without me (the border was still closed at the time so it was out of the question.  It’s open now, but you’ve got to do a really expensive molecular test to get back into Canada if you leave, and though I’m vaccinated and unlikely to get sick, the consequences of testing positive at the border coming home are disastrous.  While I can sort of romanticize a two week hotel quarantine in the US as a fantastic knitting opportunity, the reality would be considerably less cool.) There was another one about cancelling other trips, one about canning the gingerbread party or trying to figure out a way to move it outdoors.  (We still have a gathering limit here – and all the kids remain unvaccinated, of course.)  I wrote a whopper about Christmas. I don’t need to tell you what any of them said – you can assume they all ran along the lines of “I would like my previous life back please” though considerably less politely phrased.*

That said, all this time whinging around the house is good for knitting production, and in the month of October I just pounded out the knitwear. Ready for a roundup? Here’s everything I finished. First, it was Socktober after all, and I managed three pairs – all headed for the Long Range Planning box (which is really rather short range now, but let’s think about that another day, shall we?)

These are Verbena, in a vintage skein of Dream in Color Everlasting. One drawback of a well aged stash is that this skein of lovely stuff is discontinued now, which is a real shame because it was great sock yarn. Just terrific.  The colour (sadly, also now discontinued) is Victoria.

These beauties are Rumpelstiltskin,  and the yarn was Drops Fabel in Turquoise.

Photographed in the most perfect setting ever – though my arse just about froze to a rock while Meg took the pictures.

(This was a deleted post as well – we took off for a few days North as a consolation prize for Rhinebeck and Joe’s birthday. We had a bit of hiking and snow and Meg and I got to go to IndigoDragonfly and… I forget why I deleted that. These are strange times.)

The third pair was another vintage skein, and I always feel bad when I pull these out and use them because I know that it’s sort of unfair to show you pretty things and then have them turn out to be like unobtainium,  but it turns out that this is pretty frequently available.  The pattern is nothing fancy, just my plain regular sock pattern, but the yarn is from Must Stash, and is part of their Galactic battle series. This one’s Stardust, inspired by Rogue One’s Jyn Erso. (Right now they have their holiday collection up- but this this colourway will be back.)

(This was another deleted post – one about how much I miss shopping for American yarn.  I used to buy it when I visited and now it’s been so long. I’d order it online but I made that mistake at the beginning of the pandemic and the duties and import fees doubled the price of the whole shebang.  I deleted it because I in no way am running short on American yarn and deserve no pity. I have at least 15 skeins of Must Stash yarn and am absolutely in no crisis. I just… miss it, which is super dumb because I can visit it upstairs anytime I want. Also- there’s no shortage of fantastic Canadian dyers in the meantime and goodness knows I’ve shopped.)

Finally, last but certainly not least – Ken’s sweater is done and I’m pretty sure he’s wearing it every single day. (I deleted a post about this too – something about missing hugging and spending real time with my friends- but I realized this sweater is pretty close to a hug and it’s not like I haven’t had a few over the last year when some people are still totally separated from their families, so that’s gone too. I’ll take what I can get.)

I’m completely pleased with how this sweater turned out.  I used two strands of Holst Garn Supersoft Uld held together – the colour is “Ember”.  I love this yarn, and I think it’s really often overlooked – it’s called supersoft, but in the ball it is anything but. It’s scratchy and stiff and contains spinning oils and the name seems like a joke until you give it a wash and it blooms and turns into this gorgeous fabric.  I think Ken was concerned that I considered it a next-to-the-skin yarn when I bought it, but he’s convinced now.

The pattern is Oshima for him, though I really think that the only difference between it and Oshima (presumably for her?) is a cowl collar and a different size range. (Oshima goes from 34-54″ chests, and Oshima for him is 40-59″)

It’s got a lot of fiddly details, like tubular cast ons and bind offs, and tricksy brioche increases and decreases but I ask you – If a tubular cast on doesn’t say love, what the hell does, and it’s completely worth it for Ken. I love him to bits, but the way he loves hand knits makes him the perfect recipient every, single, time.

That’s it for now, but I promise not to delete the next post which has very much to do with the fact that I managed to put together that it’s only 39 days until Christmas.

Who knew?

*BTW, It’s worth noting here, before it erupts, there are vivid cultural/country differences in the approach to COVID, as well with personal and familial differences in risk tolerance, and all of these add up to a lot of ways that people can behave right now and still be doing the right thing for them or where they live.  It is remarkable to note for example- that while it’s estimated that more than 40% of Americans have had the virus, only 4% of Canadians have. Without wanting to debate our approaches, I bet we can agree that’s evidence of a big cultural gap.  Similarly, many families/people I know who have no contact with kids or high risk adults are living lives a lot more normal than those of us who have family responsibilities to those vulnerable others. It is remarkable to me that at the beginning of the pandemic you were a jerk if you weren’t restricting enough, and now some people are angry if you haven’t loosened up in a way that reflects their risk threshold rather than yours. If I see someone taking risks I wouldn’t,  I assume that risk doesn’t have the same consequences in their life or family that it would in mine.  

PS. There’s something up with the software I use to control spam comments, it’s making me manually approve everything. Please trust that you’re not being moderated (except to make sure you’re human) and I’m working on it! If your comment doesn’t show up right away, it’s not you, you’re just fine. You’re perfect.

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.

The last days

A few weeks ago the super nice people who we rent a cottage from in the summertime sent us an email. There was a cancellation, they said. Did we want it?  We did.  After a quick check in the coffers we decided we could afford one more little trip this year, so we lied to ourselves about being able to work remotely,  grabbed Meg and Elliot and hit the road.

It was wonderful. The weather was as changeable as it always is the last week of summer, as the sun set each afternoon the temperature would begin to plunge (3 or 4 degrees, that’s 37 degrees, for my American friends)  and by morning we’d be lighting a fire and getting our wool socks and sweaters on, only to have the temperature begin to soar, and by mid afternoon it would be gloriously warm (25 – 28 degrees, about 80 for you non-Celsius lot) and we’d be swimming in the lake and knitting in the sunshine.

(There’s a consequence to temperature swings like that, and it’s that the lake begins to cool off pretty fast.  The water was absolutely frigid, or as Elliot would say every day as he dipped his little toes in before leaping wildly off the dock, “pretty frosty.”)

We kayaked and canoed every day and everyone got on board for my favourite, a family paddle. (Meg’s husband Alex was able to come for a day and a half so we had enough arms for a bit of adventure.)

Meg and I knit and knit and kayaked together,  Elliot and I went for walks and gathered wildflowers and we made it through the 18 month mark since Charlotte was born and then died. We observed a year and a half of living  in the Covid-times.  I took deep breaths. I finished a pair of socks.

(Improvised pattern with afterthought heel, Yarn is “Purple Skein” from Must Stash Yarns.)

I made headway on Ken’s sweater.

(Oshima for Him, in Holst Garn SuperSoft  – Embers

On Sunday, when it was finally time to go, I went down to the lake and stood there, letting the sun shine hot on me, looking at the sparkles on the water and thinking about everything that’s happened in the last 18 months, and trying not to feel too sad about the end of summer or future-trip into what it will be like over the next few months as it becomes impractical to gather outside.

I’ve always loved summer so much, and it’s hard for me to let go of it in the best of years, never mind whatever hot mess this year is. I stood there, and I tried – for just a few minutes, to feel nothing but gratitude and happiness for what good luck I’ve had. Then I dove into the cold, cold water and swam far, far out, to say goodbye to the lake in the only way it understands.

Give me your answer do

I knit the thumb of those mittens last night. Actually- so deep was my shame at abandoning them so close to the end that I knit it pretty much the minute I was finished posting yesterday. Then I washed them, and laid them in the back garden to dry. This morning I went to collect them from where they were laying in the sunshine, and the cicadas were singing and it was hot out, and I briefly thought to myself that it had been rather dumb to rush to finish up mittens in this heat. I mean, who needs summer mittens.  (I am Canadian, but even we only have spring, summer and fall mittens.) Planning ahead is one thing, but it is a bit (just a bit) early to have real enthusiasm for mittens, isn’t it?

Then I looked at them – there in the garden, and I had an idea.

I am rather ridiculously fond of these now. It took only a little while to embroider them and I think now that they are rather sublime mittens to have knit in the summer.

I bet I’ll love them even more in February when there is snow all around, and I’m dreaming of daisies, and tansy and wee wild aster.


I think there’s still room

I got up this morning and started hunting up WIPs, and do you know, it wasn’t even that hard? I forgot that I had a major culling of the herd at the beginning of the pandemic, when Charlotte had just died and we were locked down and I was possessed of a sudden urge to fling a great many of my things in the bin. (While a terrible time overall, it was a great time for de-cluttering and streamlining. Not many objects or projects seemed particularly important at the time. I have no regrets.)  I looked in my cupboards and baskets and bins and I know there are probably a few more lurking in the stash room, but the semi-annual tossing of the stash is next month, and I’ll worry about stragglers then.  I found plenty for now. Here’s what I’ve got on the needles.  (Please note, I have not listed Ken’s sweater because I am legit working on that and you just saw it – it has two new sleeves now and other than being a little wider they are the same. I’ve also not included the purplish striped sock that’s currently my purse sock. I’ll finish it soon. It’s a purse sock.) This is everything else.

Project: Northern Sky socks.  Reason it stalled: I have no idea, these are totally fabulous and I love them.  They deserve better.   General sense of its destiny: I’m putting them at the top of the queue – they can go into rotation with Ken’s sweater and the purse sock. I honestly can’t imagine what skein waggled its little label at me to make me put these down.

Project: Sea Tangles, knit in Habu stainless wire.  Reason it stalled: Oh, so many.  I love the idea of this project and the way it fits into the “post-apocalyptic matrix my-clothes-are-all-rags but I look fabulous anyway” look I aspire to, but a few things went wrong on my way to greatness. First, this is not a lot of fun to knit. The wire has no give and it’s really tiny and you have to pay attention all the time. Also I think my gauge isn’t right (although how ever could you tell)  and I suspect that while it’s not exactly a fitted garment,  it’s going to be shorter than I like.  I’ve got the back knit, and I’m a few inches into the front and have a had a lingering feeling that I should go up a needles size and make it longer for YEARS. General sense of its destiny: Screw it. I’m going to rip it and start again. I still love it.

Project: Tulips MittensReason it stalled:  I have no idea except maybe it got warm and mittens seemed stupid?  General sense of its destiny: Considering how far along I am I’ll just keep going. They’re pretty, aren’t they?

Project: Some rando pair of mittens.   Reason it stalled:  This is just embarrassing. Do you see that I am 10 rounds of a thumb away from finishing these? What sort of a person gives up then? While I cannot possibly explain why I stopped right then and didn’t finish, I suspect that the fact that there are only three needles present may have played a role. General sense of its destiny? Yeah, I’ve got to find that needle. Winter is coming. I’ll finish them today.

Project: I cannot remember the name and the pattern isn’t with it. Reason it stalled: I think I got really sick of stringing beads onto the yarn. General sense of its destiny: None. I might still be sick of stringing beads and I still don’t know the name. This one isn’t really calling to me this minute – though it is a third done, so I hate to walk away. Maybe it needs a longer time out, and for me to remember the name.

Project: Graphic baby blanket.  Reason it stalled: It’s a little too heartbreaking. General sense of its destiny: I love it, but it’s getting tucked away for now.

Project: Some plain pair of socks for someone big. Reason it stalled: I likely turned on it during midwinter bleakness. Look at that. I ripped the needles right the hell out of it so I could knit something else. Harsh.  General sense of its destiny: I think the world is still a little too bleak for those. They’re getting a ziplock and a shelf.

Project: Rainbow socks! Reason it stalled: It’s not totally stalled, I had them with me at the cottage and my Mother-in-law worked on them a bit.  I’m just really not feeling the toe up thing. General sense of their destiny: Oh, I’ll knit them. Just not…. now.

Project: One of the Colour Stacking Cowls from the Patreon make-along. Reason it stalled: All it needs is an i-cord bindoff on one edge and it will be finished and gorgeous.  You know how sometimes when something only needs a little bit of work you keep putting it off because that doesn’t seem like much and you could do it anytime so you don’t do it at all? General sense of its destiny: Excellent outcome predicted. I’ll just do it. Right after the thumb thing from those mittens.

Project: Autumn Lace. Reason it stalled: I hate it. It was supposed to be fantastic and the pattern and knitting is, but I chose the wrong contrast colour for that green at the outset and have hated it since. I knew it was wrong in the yarn shop and I can’t believe I let it get this far.  It’s 2/3 done and I hate it. General sense of its destiny: I am going to rip it back as soon as I figure out how to rip back brioche lace mohair. Both of those yarns deserve a better future. (Assuming I can rip it.)

Project: I have no idea. No pattern, no nothing.  is it a sleeve? A sock? When did I start it? What was I thinking? Reason it stalled: See above. It’s nice though.  General sense of its destiny: If I don’t know where I’m going I don’t think I’ll get there.  Nice knowing you….whatever you are.

Project: Okay fine I don’t know what this is either. A shawl. That much I’m sure of. Reason it stalled: Again, I have no idea. I remember starting it, and I remember buying the wool, but then the whole thing sort of dries up in my memory. General sense of its destiny: Poor outcome predicted. Unless I can figure out what the hell I was making I’m going to rip it and make something else. Maybe a shawl would be nice.

Project: Some paper and silk jacket thing from Habu. Reason it stalled: Like so many Habu projects I want the garment but knitting the stuff is weird and tricky.  Also it’s a Japanese style pattern so I’ve really got to think about the instructions. General sense of its destiny: I can’t tell.  I thought about ripping it back but honestly it’s half done and I know I’ll like it when it’s finished, won’t I? It’s paper – that’s so cool.  Sigh. I think I’ll knit it and while I do I’ll examine my relationship with Habu stuff since that’s two projects in this roundup that are stalled out in a multi-year way.

There. That’s it. That list (together with Ken’s sweater and my purse sock) means I have 15 projects on the go, which frankly is quite a few less than I was expecting to have to own up to and seems completely civilized and reasonable as long as you start with my world view, which of course, I did.  I’m going to leave all these out on the table for the rest of the day and see if having it all in front of me helps with the startitis. Surely it should scratch some of the itch.

And I’m going to knit that thumb.

Also that one by the coffee maker

At first, it just felt like I was getting organized, and that made a lot of sense. September is a “get it together” time of year for me, maybe some weird holdover from when I had to get all my ducks in a row for the kids to go to school, or maybe it’s just a response to the end of the more relaxed systems of summer, but planning and getting thing orderly in the fall has always been my modus operandi, and like I said, at first it felt to me like just the start of that.

It was little things in the beginning.  I started paying a little more attention to what people were knitting on instagram.  I followed a few new yarn makers. I scanned the “hot right now” pattern list. I watched some knitting podcasts and thought about joining some knit-alongs.  Just planning my knitting, you know what I mean? That makes sense. It’s about to be fall. Then I started taking yarn out. I didn’t really cast anything on, I just thought “oh I should knit a short sleeved summer sweater, and then I went into the stash and pulled out the yarn for that, and then put it on the table downstairs. Then some yarn arrived in the mail and I didn’t put it away.  I put it on the kitchen counter by the stove – just… so it could be around or something? I can’t explain it.  Then a yarn club came and I put that on my desk so it would be handy, and also I brought down a sweater quantity of another yarn to consider and positioned that on the dining room table. The next week I thought that it would be a good idea to think a bit about socks, and so I put a skein of self-striping next to my laptop and also one extra one in my bag so that if I went somewhere I would have it.  Then we went away with the family and I inexplicably brought a yarn store with me, along with most of my needles, and when we came home I didn’t put any of it away.

Today I looked around and realized that I really do need to get organized. The whole house is in a tip (and slightly sticky, thanks Elliot) and if the winter is coming I suppose I should get this all sorted, and as I started to clean up, I realized that a lot of what I needed to clean up was yarn. For the record, I stand by every previous statement I have ever made about my believe that yarn is beautiful and ornamental and that having a bunch of it around isn’t really problematic, but I also think that you should be able to do things in your house without having to move yarn every single time, and that some degree of tidiness is good for the soul. Now thing is,  when I put my hand on the first skein of yarn to put it away, a part of me said “Oh it’s cool leave that there, I’m going to knit it in a minute.”

I pulled my hand back and reached for another, and that same knitter in me said “No, leave that too, thanks.” I looked around and slowly it dawned on me.  Without a shadow of a doubt I have the early symptoms of an absolutely raging case of startitis and that would be okay if I hadn’t just spent a year and a half locked in my house using yarn to mitigate the emotional effects of personal and global tragedy.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it was smart and I highly recommend it, knitting is enormously helpful when things are difficult, and knowing this, I haven’t limited my access or made any rules about it at all for the last while.  If I get a hankering to knit a pair of socks I have simply cast on and gone with that urge, even if there are other socks on the needles. If I want to buy yarn and I can afford it, boom. It’s in the post to me. These are extraordinary times and I have been as kind to myself as I need to be in order to maintain something that remotely resembles my own nature. (Related: my current relationship with cleaning and pants that aren’t elastic in the waist. Whatever gets you through the night, baby.)

Still, at some point I feel like it stops being therapeutic and starts being… well. A mess really, and I realized the other day that as I rifled the hanger for a missing circular that I am not “low on needles.” They are just all… in things… and that means that I need to get a few things done before I add more, so before I start anything else I’m going to go through all my little hidey holes and figure out what exactly is lurking around here.

Buckle up.  I’m going in.

(PS it is the one by the stove that really gets me. It’s been there for 3 weeks. What emergency do I think I am preparing for there?)


Sometimes it takes two

I am home again, and we really did have the loveliest time. The only thing that wasn’t quite right was that we couldn’t have Pato and the Worlds Top Knitwear Model with us for this trip, but if there’s anything that I’ve learned in the last 18 months it’s that things are seldom perfect, so I embraced what good it had to give me regardless.

Speaking of learning, I just had a really epic knitting fail. The biggest one in a long time. Behold: Two sleeves that I knit for Ken’s sweater.

(I know they look a bit rugged, but the yarn is Holst Garn Supersoft (held double)  and it’s a bit stiff and raggedy looking before it’s washed and blooms into something lovely, haloed, soft and even.)  Those sleeves also don’t exist anymore, because they were too narrow for Ken’s arms.  I’m knitting “Oshima for Him” and despite the absolutely admirable act of knitting a swatch and washing it, and then knitting another swatch and washing that before I settled on needles and was rather sure I had gauge, the things came out completely inappropriate for his arms. Ken is not a big guy, but his arms are more than twigs sprouting from his chest, and those just weren’t wide enough.

The amazing thing is that I knew this. I knew it from the moment I cast on.  I looked at the little cuff and said “That’s not big enough” but I had done my math and wanted so badly to trust it that I kept on going.  It nagged at me so badly through the whole first sleeve that before I knit the sleeve cap I actually took the sleeve off the needles, washed it, let it dry and then jammed it on Ken’s arm before I went any further, and then smooshed it around on his arm so that I could say it fit and keep lying to myself.  Then I knit the whole other sleeve, and the whole time my inner knitter was screaming at me.

Now, I often say that your inner knitter? They’re the voice of reason. They’re the one that’s not super invested in progress, and doesn’t hope for things or give any sort of a snot about your deadlines.  That voice, the one that says “something is definitely not right here” is the voice of your knitterly experience and it’s exactly like waking up in the night and wondering if you should get up to pee. If you just went to the damn bathroom the first time you thought “I wonder…” you’d be back in bed in no time with less time lost to considering it.  It’s like that and I know perfectly well that if I’d have listened to that voice the very first time I wouldn’t have two sleeves to pull back, I’d have merely yanked a cuff and have two correct sleeves right now. I have no explanation for why I let it go on so long, except that sometimes hope springs eternal, and sometimes you really just want to knit, and sometimes lying to yourself on a sunny day while you lie on a dock is exactly what you need and it takes the shock of two whole wrong sleeves to snap you out of it, which is exactly what happened.

I’ve reknit the first one the next size up.  My inner knitter is now smugly silent.