Exactly Yarned

On Wednesday, after I got out of bed at 4am to go to the airport for the of three planes (plus two cars and a ferry) to take me to Port Ludlow (I really need a new travel agent. At present it’s me, and it turns out that consistently the thrifty Stephanie who books the flights has an almost boundless amount of confidence in the Stephanie who has to execute those flights) I stood in my living room drinking a huge cup of coffee and looked at the pile of knitting I’d amassed for the week, and tried to decide what to take and where to pack it.

On the top of the pile was the Tool Box Cowl I’ve been working on – not much left on that I thought, so I moved it to my carry on. I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to be enough – it was more than half finished of course, so I added the Jilly Mittens, though I almost had one of those finished and they’re really fast and… I moved another cowl to my bag. I sipped coffee and surveyed that. Three flights, two short layovers… a car ride on the other end, that should be enough, I thought.  I added the yarn and needles for the November Socks to my checked bag – all that, I thought, had to hold me for a week (considering that I was planning on buying more yarn at the marketplace) and two cowls and a pair of mittens would definitely do for the travel day, for sure.  I zipped shut my suitcase, moved my carry-on to the door and perched my passport on top, and went to get a bit lot more coffee.  While I poured it, I checked the weather – it was fine.  It was fine in Toronto, fine in Calgary, fine in Vancouver and fine in Seattle.  As I checked for potential delays, I started to imagine more.  A cancelled flight? Lost luggage? What if Debbi’s car broke down on the other side, or what if the way we struggle with the Ferry schedule was suddenly insurmountable? What if I have to spend the night in the airport? For what reason I couldn’t imagine, but what if? You can see how this ends, and two minutes later I was frantically winding yarn for another project and stuffing that in my bag too so that if I ended up living in an Airport for days I’d be just fine.

I got on the plane with all this-

Which actually wasn’t enough to manage days in an airport but was about all I could fit in a carry on, and enough that my seat-mate definitely made up his mind about me when I took that picture, and I cemented it when I returned his stare and said, as boldly as I could manage, “I knit.”

I did not spend the night in an airport, and I didn’t finish all that on the way, and it was more than enough for another whole travel day home, which means it was exactly twice what I needed, which seems about right.  Details? Glad you asked.

Pattern: Tool Box Cowl. Yarn: Raveling Rose recycled cashmere – 6 mini skeins.

An invented cowl, cast on some and used up all the leftovers from this one. It’s about half the size of the first one, and just right as a cozy little tuck in.

Pattern, Jilly Mitts. Yarn: Jilly and Kiddles Aurora in Raven. (The yarn’s hard to photograph, it’s darker than it looks in those pictures.  All the snow outside kept throwing it off. Yeah.  Snow.  Sigh.)

Pattern: Silhouette and Sky.  Yarn: Gauge Dye Works club yarn.

That’s a considerable dent in the WIP pile to be sure, but don’t worry, I have lots more – and another set of flights coming up.  I’ll be in Edmonton next week- if you’d care to join me, I’ll be teaching at River City Yarns on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of November. (I love Cynthia and Barb and their podcast) and here’s a link to the workshops if you want to come.  I’d love to see you.

Same old, same old

Voila, finished Jaywalkers.  My October Self-Imposed-Sock-of-the-Month-Club, which brings me smartly up to date.

Yarn: Must Stash Yarn in a one-off colorway called “Bete” that’s almost like her Beauty and Beast skeins, but with one missing set of stripes, which I quite like.

Pattern is the much loved and oft-knit Jaywalkers, by the inestimable Grumperina, who is still around, thank you very much, despite this being a pattern from 2005.  I knit them as written, and they fit just fine – not me, mind you – they’re way too big for my petit pieds, but they’re for the (not so) long-range-planning-box, so all is well, even if they do look a little sloppy on me. They won’t when they’re on the feet they were knit for.

I don’t have much else to say about them, except that it remains, as ever, almost damn impossible to take pictures of your own feet –

even with a timer.

 

Timeline

Recently, I was reading something about why it is that time seems to speed up as you get older. I remember reading one explanation a few years ago (here it is) that essentially said that this is a real phenomenon, and that (to sum up) it is because we’re not laying down a lot of new stuff.  Apparently while your brain is encoding novel memories, time appears to slow down – imagine your mental CPU is overtaxed, and so moves less quickly while that gets done. As we age we (apparently) experience less novelty, the CPU is less challenged and whoosh, past she goes. This does not sound correct to me, but I checked around and perhaps it is my own sense that my life is plenty novel enough (thank you very much) that makes me want to argue with the worlds greatest minds in the neurology department, but I do.  I read another argument that said that at least part of the sense that time’s picked up the pace comes from the comparative size of the units of time that are passing. When you’re five, a year passing is a fifth of your life, a chunk of time with far more gravity than what a year is to me now, apparently a whole year careens past – barely registering as a 1/50th of my total experience.

None of that entirely explains how it is that I blinked and found myself thinking “must get to the beach one day this summer” as snow started to fall. Pro-tip, apparently it’s November. Pretty soon we’ll have to have an awkward conversation about how many knitting days are left until Christmas (that would be 51) but for now let’s talk about what happened while that time passed, shall we?

Since we spoke last (I know we don’t really speak, but doesn’t it feel like it?) I have been in three countries – Canada, the US and Mexico, and I have knit lots. Enough actually that I am just a few hours from finishing another Toolbox Cowl knit from Raveling Rose‘s little mini-skeins or recycled cashmere. (To be sure, I’m mostly knitting this so that I can buy more this coming weekend without guilt* though this little pattern is always fun and the perfect thing to do with those mini-skeins that seem to breed like tribbles around here.)

I am up to date on my Self-Imposed-Sock-of-the-Month-Club. After an absolutely dismal showing in August (I finished the August Socks right at the end of September) I was determined to recover, and things looked sketchy for the September socks for a while there too, but last week I pulled it all together and finished those,  and then the October socks came together really quickly -as we speak they’re drying upstairs – I’ll show you tomorrow. The August socks are from my much loved Gauge Dye Works club, the Sun and Moon socks from Andrea Rangel.

The  yarn came as one skein that had a fade from light blue to dark, then a yellow chunk, then a fade from dark blue to light – I think. I can’t remember exactly the order of things from back when I was winding it, the important thing is that it was one skein that you had to wind off and cut into it’s separate elements.  This is fun – though I can’t explain why.

I chose the almost-largest size for these, because I wanted to use as much of the delicious yarn as possible.  That patterned top to the sock looks narrow when it’s off a leg, but is deliciously stretchy when on.

(Thanks to my mother-in-law Carol for being sock model. I appreciate it, especially since I ripped them off her feet for someone else after she did me the favour.)

I’m back into the stash today – the November socks are going on the needles on November 4th, and I don’t feel like that’s too terrible at all, assuming I don’t wake up tomorrow and discover that it’s December 15th.

*You too can buy Raveling Rose recycled cashemere this weekend, along with a few other lovely things, at our Strung Along marketplace at the resort at Port Ludlow. It’s tiny but fun and the space is free for locals and students to vend.  Saturday from 7:30- 8:30. (Trust us, that’s enough time – though nobody is going home if you’re still buying.)

Also – on the off chance that anyone here is in the right part of the world – we’ve got a few spaces left in our workshops this coming Friday. We have just two spots for Judith MacKenzie’s class for people who would like to learn to spin – or would like to go back to basics to refine their technique. (We can loan you a wheel if you don’t have one, and can you imagine learning from someone better than Judith?)  Together with Debbi I’ll be teaching a “What the heck do I do with this” rigid heddle loom class. You bring the loom, and we’ll teach you to warp, weave and finish a scarf- in a day. (Weaving is fast and eats 2 balls of yarn a day. Just think about what that does to your stash and holiday list.)

Both classes are at the Resort at Port Ludlow from 9-4, and both cost $240, and both include a yummy lunch.  It’s a nice way to start your weekend and get a taste of what our retreats are like. If you’d like to join us, email us at info@strungalong.ca, and we’ll get you set up.

If you ever doubted

When I headed out the door for Rhinebeck last Thursday, things were tense with the sweaters though I felt pretty hopeful. I was pretty sure I could finish, but I’d also made a commitment to myself to remember that knitting is fun, and Rhinebeck is fun and not to let anything get too crazy in the knitting department.  Turns out that there’s a wide range of what’s considered crazy though, and while I think that trying on an unfinished sweater in an airport lounge bathroom is pretty normal, I could tell that this wasn’t the prevailing attitude in that facility, though as a rule I’m pretty poorly understood as an artist, so that didn’t bother me much.

Neither did asking Kellee to put all our luggage in the backseat so we could block the Must Have Cardi as we drove…

as a matter of fact, I think it was her idea.

I rolled into Rhinebeck eve with two finished (but wet) sweaters, and they both dried by morning and do you know? That made two sweaters in eighteen days not as nearly dramatic and insane as I thought it would be. I did have to set aside other knitting and display a kind of knitterly monogamy that’s not really me, but still – look at this.

Sweater: The Must Have Cardigan.  I love this pattern, and knit it as written, with only two changes. I made it a little longer (because despite being rather on the short side, I still don’t really like a cropped sweater) and even though the pattern says to just hold the stitches for the back neck button band, I tried that last time and it was too stretchy.  This time I cast off and then picked the stitches back up again, and I am much happier with that.  Yarn: the very sadly discontinued Blackwater Abbey.

Sweater: Remi – oh do I love this, and I’m not alone. Two of my Rhinebeck friends said that this was their favourite, of all of the Rhinebeck sweaters I’ve ever knit, and I don’t know if I’d go that far, but mercy do I think it looks sharp. Yarn: Wingenhooven DK in Revival.

Good looking sweater, am I right? I’ve never thought that circular yoke sweaters suit me (in fact I’ve always thought that since I have shoulders like a quarterback, it isn’t really a good look for me) but I think maybe I was wrong.  It looks just fine, and I am going to wear the heck out of it.

I won’t be wearing the heck out of it over the next several days, because 36 hours after landing from Rhinebeck I got on a plane with Joe and headed out to visit his parents in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, and the weather here-  while well suited to my nature, is not exactly the sort of place you’d wear a wool/silk/yak sweater.  In fact, it might be dangerous.

More tomorrow – though my office couldn’t be nicer today, I’m going for a walk. Extreme sweater knitter, out.

Technically not sweaters

Ok, I can admit it. There is a tiny, little, itsy-bitsy chance that I overshot a little on this plan.  I can say that because I’m supposed to get on a plane for Rhinebeck in the morning, and I am not finished two sweaters. I’m actually not even finished one sweater, though it’s a near thing.  Here’s where I am.

That’s the Must Have.  It is very nearly a sweater, if by almost a sweater you understand that I can’t wear it like a sweater although it very nearly almost has all the parts that you need for something to be a sweater, if they were joined together, which they are not. I am super close to finishing the button band (I cannot be the only person who perpetually underestimates the amount of knitting in a button band) in fact – it’s half cast off. (Almost.) I’ve got to sew the whole thing together, maybe tonight, and then sew on the buttons and then it just needs a quick blocking. I’ve blocked the pieces already, so it’s really just a quick bit of tidy up after it’s sewn together.  I think steaming will work, just this once.

This is a different problem – Remi is still mostly armless. The sleeves are only 3/4 length, and I have knit about 10cm of one, and I do have to fly tomorrow and then there’s tomorrow evening and then, well, yes, it needs to be completely blocked but doesn’t it seem doable? Doesn’t it? (She says, in a slightly shrill manner, with a hint of hysteria sneaking in around the edges.)

I’d actually think that this was all completely doable if I’d done anything else today, like pack, or wash the clothes I’d like to pack, or gone to the store to get the things I need to pack, or if I’d cleaned up the kitchen, or if roughly 3394 emails weren’t in my inbox waiting for me to finish answering them, or if I didn’t have a meeting this evening that I don’t think I can sew up sweaters at. (I think I can knit sleeves at it, so maybe all isn’t lost.)

Essentially I’ve worked out that I’m absolutely going to make it as long as someone else comes over here and does the laundry, goes to my meeting for me, and I hire someone else to pack while I sew together a sweater.

The important thing is not to panic early.

Six Days

Well, six days to go, and the state of the sweaters is… well, it’s not terrible, but it’s not great. I try not to panic because I can’t see how it helps speed anyone up,  but the urge to lose my scene entirely is starting to be a little bit tempting. I’ve got the fronts and the back of the Must Have done –

and just about the body of Remi. I’ve got a few centimetres of ribbing left on the bottom, though it seems a hair short to me. I’m quite short myself so this could work out just fine, tonight before I go any farther on the ribbing I’m going to slide all those stitches onto a longer needle and try it on. It measures what the pattern suggested, but perhaps the designer and I have different ideas about what length a sweater should be.  Personally, I like them not to show my belly button if I get something off a high shelf, and she may be unfettered by such desires, or perhaps has a far more elegant navel.

Tomorrow, if all goes well this evening, I shall find myself squarely on Sleeve Island, with four sleeves to knit in six days, which frankly seems like a bit much, but would be entirely doable if I hadn’t made a critical error in my planning, which is that I forgot that this weekend is Thanksgiving.  That sounds bad, I know, like maybe I’ve just remembered a major holiday with serious time commitments attached to it, and it’s not like that at all. I’ve been cleaning, organizing and shopping for days – It’s more like when I started this a few weeks ago I forgot to factor in time spent chopping mountains of onions and celery and souring the city for chestnuts and what the impact of that is on my knitting time.

I’m not going to panic though – I’m just going to knit. A sleeve a day will get this done, with a day left for buttonbands, sewing and making up. I’ll worry about packing… well. Later.

Sleep is overrated anyway.

Ten (oh no how is it ten)

I write to you now from the airport in Saint John, New Brunswick, as I try to make my way home from Knit East, which was very lovely, as always.  Great students, the venue is so pretty – the sea and Passamaquoddy Bay beckoning to me through the windows. I had a very good time, indeed,  but I really did miss everyone at Knit City more than I can say. I really wanted to be cloned this past weekend – three versions of me would have been wonderful, one for Knit East, one for Knit City, one for a wedding that I was very sorry to miss.  Wait, actually – four.  Four Stephanies would have been the magic number, because one could have just knit and maybe my Rhinebeck dreams would be all coming true.

I have ten days to go, and here’s where I’m at. I’ve finished the back of the Must Have Cardi – and I’m about halfway done the left front.  (Sweater parts pictured here elegantly spread out on an airport cafe table.)  I don’t know how hopeful I feel about this right now. The back took a lot longer than I was hoping, but it is the biggest part so I am trying not to freak out. (I am sort of freaking out.)

Remi doesn’t feel like it’s faring much better – but I am making some progress.  Lucy Neatby forgot her knitting when we were together the other evening and I gave her Remi, so for 30 minutes she made progress for me while I worked on the Must Have. It was glorious.

Sweater in-progress here elegantly pictured on my lap in the aforementioned airport cafe. (Someone will ask, so that fabulous project bag is from Wool Needle Thread, and yes, I do match my project bag to my project because I AM NOT AN ANIMAL. Matching the shirt was an accident.)

Just as I arrived at the airport today my original flight home cancelled and my travel plans are now sort of unclear, which is something that would usually make me a crazy person, but today I really don’t care.  This zen attitude about a cancelled flight is likely brought to you by the pressing need to work on these sweaters, and the fact that this morning as I was packing, I put the extra yarn and needles for them in my checked bag, sure I wouldn’t need that much for today – and then in a moment of absolutely unusual clarity,  I took it out of my checked bag and put it in my carry on “just in case.”

For once, I am in a travel crisis and I am not underyarned on a deadline.  I feel like my whole life has just been practice for this moment.

Sixteen Days

While I cannot state unequivocally at this moment that my two-sweaters-for-Rhinebeck plan is a good one, I can tell you that today is a good day to continue entertaining the concept of this particularly bit of knitterly daring-do. I pressed on and finished the yoke of Remi, and now I’m into the plain bit for the body – It feels all but done, truthfully.  I’ve got it rammed into my bag as my “on the go” knitting now that it doesn’t need anything from me but time. (Sweater is seen here on two needles because I was far enough along for a quick try on. I did knit a swatch, and washed it, but I definitely don’t have time to be jerked around by the gauge god’s version of a joke. Good news, it’s fine.) I even ordered back-up yarn from IndigoDragonfly, and it’s arrived.  For your sake, rather than mine, I regret to announce that this one looks drama free. (Sorry Presbytera.)

I knit a swatch for the Must Have Cardi too (that link works, by the way – I’m knitting it from the booklet that was in my actual knitting library – sorry for Rav link yesterday that didn’t direct you to the pattern. Use that one. It’s free!) and washed that, and got the results I was hoping for on the second try, and noticed that knitting with the previously knit yarn wasn’t much fun.

I’m in the process of winding it into hanks and steaming it to make it nice again. (I just do it over a teakettle, if you’re wondering.) Worked a treat, and now I’m about 8cm up the back. It’s not going as quickly as I’d hoped but I’m ignoring that, at least for today. we’ll see if the problem persists.

Finally – I’m happy to report finished Self-imposed-sock-of-the-month-club socks, though rather less pleased to say that they’re the ones from August. I finished them a few weeks ago- though I can’t lie, it wasn’t in August for sure, I was about a week late, which considering the August I had isn’t really that bad at all.

I’d know what yarn I wanted to use for the August socks ever since Kim gave it to me. The yarn is Platypus Sock, and the colourway’s the one she made for the Rally last year, named Bonnie for my Mum, and meant to invoke her love of rocks.

It seemed appropriate to use it for the month I’d miss her most – especially since that’s also the month of the Rally.  It felt lovely. Sticking with the rock theme, I chose a pattern called Pebbles – not just for the name, but was a great match for a variegated yarn. I made them for myself, rather than the long range planning box, because I really love the yarn, the idea, and Kim.

To be fair, I messed with the pattern quite a bit – the original has a short row heel, but I prefer a flap construction, so I subbed that in, and used eye-of-partridge to keep the pebbly look going.  (Eye-of-partridge is a really just a regular slip stitch heel, but with the slips alternating on right side rows instead of stacked.)

I changed the toe a bit too, but that doesn’t matter much and is really just because I’m a little weird about sock toes. I care (inexplicably) about how they look both on and off feet, and do the rate of decrease a little differently to amuse myself.

Now, I know it’s October 1st, and that means that I should have a whole other pair of September socks to show you, but – well, I’m obviously  coming in late on that one too.

I have one and half.  Almost. (Pattern: Sun and Moon, Yarn’s the Club Yarn from Gauge Dyeworks earlier this year – the club’s over now, but I really dug it.)  I’m hoping to finish these soon, but truthfully, I’m a little into my sweaters.

Seventeen Days

There is a moment in every set of grand plans when it all seem so possible, isn’t there? Some spectacular moment where there is just enough time that it seems reasonable to hope for it, and you’re far enough along in your thinking or your knitting or your writing or whatever, that you can see it all finished on time, and it’s going to be glorious.

See, for about a week, I’ve had a pretty good Rhinebeck sweater plan. While I was at Make Wear Love, I bought this yarn from IndigoDragonfly. (I am always amused when I buy their yarn in another country despite living in the same province, but there you have it.) It’s Wingenhooven DK (merino/yak/silk) and after not a lot of reflection at all, because they just seemed made for each other, I’m knitting Remi.

I haven’t really been applying myself to it (though I’m almost done the yoke) because in my head, I’ve had buckets of time. Loads, actually – great heaps of time. I’m pretty sure that this a lingering Bike Rally effect, where I feel like I’ve got all this flexibility now that it’s over and really I’m just back to being as busy as I was before, which was pretty crazy busy but not dangerously busy.

This effect is so pronounced part of my very good Rhinebeck plan is is that not only will I finish Remi, but that I’m going to knit a second sweater as well.  Do you all remember when I knit Little Wave? Gorgeous pattern, and very well written, but it was too big when I knit it, and it’s way too big now.  (See that? Let us pause for a moment and recognize knitterly delusion.  The sweater was not “too big when I knit it.”  I knit the wrong size.  It wasn’t like rain, something that you can’t predict, I blew it.  Me. Not the sweater.)

That sweater fits me so poorly that I haven’t worn it since that Rhinebeck and I feel terrible about that, because I the yarn is the rather spectacular (and tragically discontinued)  Blackwater Abbey, and it was expensive and I have not been able to stop feeling like I wasted it, and my time.  This feeling finally got the better of me and I did something I’ve never done before.  I unknitted a sweater.

The whole thing.  I snipped the buttons off, I found the ends (wing of moth, I am so good at weaving in ends, it took forever to find them) and I pulled the whole thing out.  (Almost.  I am struggling with a bit around the pockets, but I’ll get there.)

I’m going to reknit it (before Rhinebeck) into my another edition of my most worn sweater ever. In 2008 I knit the Must Have Cardigan, and do you know, I have worn that thing just about every day of every autumn, winter and spring since then. It’s tossed on the back of my office chair most days, and it’s been on a fair few camping trips. It is a tribute to the yarn (Northampton) that this sweater was completely inexpensive to knit and only just now, eleven years later does it look a little shabby.  I figure this yarn and that pattern are a match made in heaven and I seem to remember that it knit up really quickly and…. Rhinebeck is in seventeen days and I think it’s all going to be fine.  I am at that exactly perfect, spectacular moment where hope, time and possibility have all come together, and I believe.  Two sweaters for Rhinebeck.  It’s going to work.

I think I better go start the second one.

Nobody throws away buttons

After the debacle of knitting the wrong size on that baby sweater, I ripped it back and re-did it.  I know that probably seems a little like madness, I was so close to done, but I had really wanted to use that ridiculously soft merino for a newborn sweater, and what the heck, I like knitting.  I didn’t take too long, really.

Yarn: Stash Merino – label long gone, which is a shame, since it’s wondrous stuff. Pattern: Norwegian Fir. (Newborn size.  Sigh.) Quite a good little pattern, but watch out for that size thing.  Needles: 3.5mm.

Now that it’s done and blocked, it just needed a button. As written, the pattern needs just a single one, up at the neck and this seemed fine to me. This baby will be a second baby, and one button is likely all Meg and Alex will have time to do up anyway.  Only needing one button, I headed straight for my button collection, and opened up one of two old cookie tins. Ages ago, when my Grammy died, I got her button box.  I’ve dipped into it for years, when I need a special touch for something, It’s full of a million (okay, hundreds) of fairly mundane buttons, mostly snipped off of clothing headed for the bin – a depression era practice of my Grams. When my mum died, I got her button bin as well – and hers is a little different.  My mum didn’t knit. I stress here “didn’t” rather than “couldn’t” because her not knitting was an active choice.  As insane as it may sound to us, she didn’t like it. She tried it, it didn’t work out, and she was good at other things. She was, for example, a wonderful seamstress. (As I type that I wonder if there’s a gender neutral term… sewer? Sewist?)

When I was young she sewed most of our clothes, and taught me too. I remember with great fondness a green top with cream coloured yoke and angel-wing sleeves, sprinkled with softer green stalks of wheat. She made it for me to wear on a trip out west with my grandparents, and at the time that I wore it I was maybe… seven years old, and quite sure it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever owned. It probably was.  Since mum sewed, her button box is a little different. It’s in a cookie tin like my Grammy’s (some strange family quirk, I suppose, since mine is too) and contains more leftovers than rescues.  It’s easy to find seven matching buttons in my Gram’s box, and near impossible in Mum’s. I only needed one, so in I went.

In five minutes of poking around, pulling out this one and that, I settled on this completely plain and ordinary button. I know it’s silly, since it’s not special in any way – not wooden or hand carved, or especially pretty, but perfect for this. This child, whoever they are, will be the first person born after the Era of Bonnie.  They will be the first child to never meet her or know her at all, except through our telling and pictures, and I thought that a button from her stash would be the perfect beginning for them. A connection, something to start them off right, the perfect prologue to a million stories that start with “One time, your Great Grammy….”

I think it is a sign of healing, or maybe just time passing that this idea makes me smile a little, rather than cry, and the minute I’m done writing this, I’m going to sew it on, fold the sweater into a wee pile, and it can be the first woollie my new grandbaby wears.  My mum wasn’t a sentimental or soft person, but I think she’d like that a lot. She’d sure hate it if I wasted a button.