Summer’s last gasp

Hello on this bright and shining last day of summer! I know, I know, it’s not technically the last day of summer, but it feels like it here.  Kids head back to school tomorrow, and September can’t be counted on for any warm weather, and the air show is screaming overhead for the last day of the CNE, and I’m about to head down to the boat for what will surely be one of our last sails, and all of this is a sure sign that summer is behind me, for the most part.

Yup, boat.  Joe has always dreamed of having a sailboat. He was a sailing instructor in his youth, and being a Newfoundlander, has extensive and fond ideas about boats. Me, I’m from Ontario, and my ideas about boats are vague and nervous, and largely informed by movies like “The Perfect Storm” and the occasional terrified viewing of “The Deadliest Catch.”  Canoes are more my style. I’m at home in them, and know how they work, and that’s the speed for me. This mismatch in our boating attitudes has never mattered. We didn’t have a sailboat, couldn’t afford a sailboat, and that wasn’t likely to change anytime soon, so when the topic of a boat came up I said things like “Wouldn’t that be nice” and waved a yarn wielding hand dismissively.  Well, destiny wasn’t with me, and earlier this year, Joe suddenly and magically got his wish.  A friend who had inherited a sailboat from another friend decided to part ways with the thing, and she called up Joe.  She’s gotten the boat for free, she said, so he should get the boat for free too.  The slip was paid up for a year, the boat was ours, if we wanted it, she said. There were only two catches. The first was that if we were ever done with the boat, we had to pass it on for free to someone else, to keep the good karma going, and second – the boat needed “some work.”

Joe’s eyes lit up, and he came to me asking (rather delightedly) if we could have a boat if it was a free boat?  Here, I had a flash of brilliance.  “There’s no such thing as a free boat.” I said, and I meant it.  The term being bandied about to describe the free boat was “derelict” and there wasn’t even a guarantee that the thing would float, and it looked to me (and to Joe) like there was going to be a lot of work, if not money involved in getting the thing into the water.  We had not a lot of time, and really not a lot of money, so the plan went onto the shelf, or so I thought.  Joe, and I shouldn’t have thought otherwise, didn’t let it go.  Ideas were swirling around in his head, and he was keen, and so a week later, he was back.  What if, he said, what if we shared the boat? It turned out his dad was keen, and Kate and Carlos were keen, and a boat shared three ways was more than reasonable – he presented me with a budget, and by wool, it was reasonable.

sailing 2014-09-01

That, my friends, was the last reasonable thing that has happened with the boat. I’ll tell you more about it tomorrow. Today, we sail.  (We think.)

handspun 2014-09-01

In the meantime, this pretty little skein of handspun became a pretty Fairy Snowcap, just about in the blink of an eye.

snowcap1 2014-09-01

Fast, fun pattern, and the perfect knit to say goodbye to summer.

snowcap2 2014-09-01

Someone will need it, soon enough.

Being Boring

This morning I found myself flipping though the “hot right now” patterns on Ravelry. This was, rather frankly, right after I perused my library, and reorganized part of the stash, and cruised a few yarn websites and …

stillwiththeminni 2014-08-28

Those, my friends, are signs, signs that maybe when I warned you that the blog was going to be boring, that what I was really saying that my knitting was boring me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this little sweater, and it’s a pleasure to knit, but those are 2.25mm needles, and that is a lot of knitting, and knitting the back had a challenging short row part, and adding the front had a crazy short row- provisional cast-on part and now…. now there are just several rows of stripes to knit for a while, and as pleasant as the whole thing is, it’s boring. Man, is it boring. It’s like peeling carrots as far as excitement goes, and even though I’ve been adding stuff to it, it’s getting to me.

I’ve always had a strategy for boring knitting.  I watch a movie, or listen to a book, or read a book, or go for a walk and knit while I’m on the move, but this suddenly has all the intrigue of mashed potatoes no matter what I did,  and surfing for something new is a sign that I need to move on for a bit before I start to resent the little thing so much that I get a bad attitude about it and put it into permanent hiatus.  I need something new.  Just a hat, or a quick pair of mittens or something to put a little zip back into the needles, and just as I was settling into the idea of waltzing off with a spectacular and zippy new project, it occurred to me that I was probably coming up on another sock deadline. I panicked, and cruised back though my archives, thinking that the last pair I made were the Starry Starry Night ones, and I finished those way more than 27 days ago, and a pair has to be knit every 27 days if I’m going to make the overall Christmas Stress Reduction plan work, and I sort of imagined the next 24 hours getting very exciting indeed, as I tried to plow out a pair of socks in no time at all.

sockaround 2014-08-28

I have the next pair on the needles. They’ve been going places with me, kicking around in my purse and I’ve been knitting them here and there – the subway, the boat (have I told you about the boat? Maybe tomorrow) and while they’re coming along, they’re nowhere near done, and then I remembered Jen’s socks!  I finished those last week, and that means that I’m at 8 pairs, and it’s August, and so I am not in any kind of a fix with the socks at all, and now I’m dashing responsibility on the rocks, and going back into the stash.  A nice little hat seems like just the thing to break up the monotony of the sweater, and you know.  Winter is coming.

Now. Which one?

 

Boring Blog

You know, I’ve thought this before, but I don’t know if I’ve said it.  I think this blog being interesting relies pretty heavily on my ability to screw knitting up in an unlimited number of ways.  I think most of you, while being kind, lovely people, would say that your entertainment value goes way up when I do something stupid or misinterpret a pattern. It’s not like you really want something bad to happen to my knitting, but isn’t it more fun when it does? Take this project.  it’s going perfectly.  My gauge swatch was bang on the first time, the yarn is the perfect choice, despite a slightly complex construction it’s coming together properly… Who wants to turn up and see this?

minnigoignfine 2014-08-26

This project is so boring for a watch-a-long that I can’t imagine how you’re going to stand it.  Last night I thought, for one tiny second that I’d made a mistake…. but I hadn’t. It’s fine. Totally fine, totally boring, and the only thing it’s got going for it is that it has so many provisional cast-ons that at some point I’m probably going to snap and complain about them, but I think that might be all you’ve got to look forward to.

stillniceminni 2014-08-26

Can I distract you from my (likely short lived) perfection with what has to be almost the last round of Karmic Balancing gifts?

Your fellow knitter Linda has four skeins of Noro Transitions that are ready to go to a happy home, I bet that Ceres will love them.

lindasnoro 2014-08-25

Grace Sheese is a potter, and keeps a lovely Etsy shop here, has two pretty, pretty cups inspired by North Ronaldsay sheep to give away.

cupssheepgrace 2014-08-25

They’re charming, to say the least, and will be winging their way (carefully wrapped, of course) to Jessica C!

Dana’s a designer, and she’s donating a pattern for her gorgeous Birthstone Cowl.

Birthstonecowl 2014-08-25

Isn’t it pretty? The whole series is a good idea, and I hope that Rachel C loves it. Why wouldn’t she?

You fellow knitter Terri (who is all kinds of amazing. You would love her) has gone into her stash and come up with some gifts that are ready to fly to new homes. What she’s wanting to pass along is amazing and generous.  Hold on, here we go:

Terri has five skeins of this scrumptious Alchemy Haiku going to Nancy A.

5alchemyhaiku 2014-08-26

Three skeins of this cashmere/silk laceweight is making its way to Carol W.

3cashmeresilk 2014-08-26

This skein of Zen Serenity lace now belongs to Jennifer W.

zenserenitylace 2014-08-26

A whole big lot of Olmue cotton/rayon (I love those colours) are going to Claudia W.

olmuecotton 2014-08-26

A bunch of Manos Silk Blend is going to Diyang T.

manossilk 2014-08-26

Terri’s party doesn’t stop there – this skein of J Knits Lace-a-licious will be in the post to Jan C.

jknitslacealicious 2014-08-26

Last, but certainly not the least – a lovely skein of Handmaiden Sea Sock  is on its way to Jamie G.

handmaidenseasock 2014-08-26

Do you all know Romi? Sure you do. (If you don’t, you can actually kiss an hour or two of your life goodbye flipping though her patterns. Addictive.)   Here she is with some treats to share.

First up, a beautiful kit – a PDF copy of the completed Y3 7 Small Shawls eBook (7 small shawls + 4 other projects) with a skein of Sock yarn from Iridaceae Colorworks in Irisberry to knit the Sierra Lupine Scarf will be heading off to Jennifer K.

romiscarf 2014-08-26 Iridaceaecolourworks 2014-08-26

Romi doesn’t stop there- Debbie G will be getting the book to make whatever she wants.

7smallshawls 2014-08-26

and finally, Pam G and Robynn W will be getting PDF copies of her new book in progress: The Great Oddments Knitdown.  (This is an amazing idea, by the way.  A collection of gift-worthy projects that use up your little bits. Exciting.)

oddmentsknitdown 2014-08-26

Next up, the folks over at Signature Needle Arts (you all know how I feel about Signature Needles) have three gifts to give away.

A convertible circular, in the size of Julia C’s choosing,

convertiblesigs 2014-08-26

A set of single points (my favourites) in the size that’s Kyle P’s favourite.

straightsigs 2014-08-26

And, a set of DPN’s just the way that Leah W likes them.

dpnsigs 2014-08-26

Nice, right?  Next (oh yes, there’s more) Robynn Weldon has a pattern to give to Chris S and that’s not all – she’s throwing in the yarn to make it! It’s the Elfbaby hat, and a skein of Bonny by The Yarn Yard.

elfbaby 2014-08-26

bonny 2014-08-26

Last today (oh yeah, at least one more round after this one!) Lisa at Fairmount Fibers (they’re the nice people who distribute Manos yarns in the US) have a good one.

fairmountmanos 2014-08-26

That’s a picture of one bundle (That’s ten skeins!) of Manos Silk Blend in Forget-me-not, but Gayle K can choose whatever colour her heart desires.  I hope she’s thrilled.

Whew! See you tomorrow.  Maybe by then I’ll have screwed up my knitting.

Some days you’re the windshield

1. My sister called.  After careful consultation with her fashion team (that’s my mum) and a trial run of dress and shawl in daylight, with other shawl colours tried, and all the deep thinking that a wedding outfit should have, the shawl has been declared PERFECT.

erinsdetailperfect 2014-08-22

2. Even though I was totally and completely prepared to knit her another one (with consultation with her, I like surprises, but I don’t know if I could take the hit twice) I am totally freakin’ thrilled to bits that the one that I thought was perfect is perfect and that I don’t have to hustle another spectacular shawl off the needles on deadline.

3. Oddly, I am still thinking about knitting it anyway. Over the last few days I had to give it a lot of thought, and I got a little excited about it.

4. I haven’t started though, because I have a new project that I am just  wild about. Earlier this year I started buying yarn a little differently.  (Sometimes.)  Instead of buying yarn because I liked it, putting it into the stash and then raiding the stash when I found a pattern I liked, I started doing it the other way.  Finding a project I liked, then buying yarn for it – Even if I had no intention of starting the project anytime soon.

5. This seems to be working.  Even if I change my mind about the project – it’s at least getting me buying yarn in the right quantities.  A shawl’s worth, a sweaters worth, etc.

6. If I keep doing this, I’m going to start bagging the yarn up with the pattern though- or at least the name of the pattern.  I was in the stash the other day and there’s two of three lots of yarn that I bought that I know I had a great plan for, and for the life of me I can’t remember what it was.

7. That’s not the case with this though:

minnistart 2014-08-22

It’s Minni, by Lene Alve (do you read her blog Dances with Wool? You should. She hasn’t posted for a while, but even her archives are beautiful and inspiring.) When I first saw this pattern, I fell really hard for it, and I’ve been waiting for just the right little person to put it on. Now that there’s little person who was practically made for it, I’m in business.

It’s not a fast knit – I’m using 2.25mm needles to get gauge, and that’s not exactly a high speed size, but the yarn is delicious, and that makes it delightful to go slowly.  It’s Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, in Antler (the cream) and Magnolia Leaf (the gorgeous reddish orange.) So far it’s nothing but a party of short rows,  and a fascinating construction, and I’m having the loveliest time.

yarntoshsock 2014-08-22

I’ve got a pair of plain socks running in the background, but I’m totally in love with the sweater, and the only way the socks are seeing action is if I don’t pack the sweater along when I’m out.  I love this feeling, when a project comes together, and you love everything about it, and it’s all going right and …

I’m so glad Erin loved the shawl.

 

And that’s a wrap

Despite all my dread, the mending of the shawl went really, really well.

mending 2014-08-19

Like I planned, I threaded a needle with the yarn, and then wove it in along the bath of the previous thread, starting a little ways back. When I got to the break, I looked back at the path the yarn had taken in the sections before and after, and tried to duplicate it – imagining that the knitting existed (where it didn’t) and wove the yarn in and around.  When I got to the place where the yarn existed again, I kept going with the replacement, following alongside the existing yarn.  It wasn’t perfect – not by a long shot, but I think that nobody but me would be able to find it, and frankly, sometimes I need to lighten up on knitting perfection when it’s like that. This shawl has thousands upon thousands of stitches that were executed perfectly, and three that were replaced imperfectly, and that’s a test score of about 99.99%, and any way you slice that grade, it’s pretty awesome. I’m not going to harsh on myself about it.

mended 2014-08-19

See? Pretty good, if I say so myself. When it was done, I thought about lashing the overlap with thread and sewing it in place, but it really didn’t seem to need it. I did some tugging- the sort of pressure that I thought it would take while being worn, and it looked absolutely secure.  I trimmed the ends carefully, and then I blocked it again. This time, since it had already been washed prior to the first attempt, I just pinned things the way I wanted, and then steamed it a bit. I just used my iron, hovering over the knitting with the steam on high.

steamblock 2014-08-19

When it was absolutely dry, I unpinned, moved to the next section, and repeated until I had the whole thing done.  That’s no small feat, since in the end, this shawl measured over 2.5 metres (that’s almost 9 feet, for my American friends.)

finished3 2014-08-19

I took about a million pictures of it then – although I’m not going to show you anything but a few little pieces, because I can come clean now about what it’s for.  My sister is getting married. Pretty soon actually, just about five weeks from now, and this shawl is for her to wear over her gown.

finished4 2014-08-19

Now, generally speaking, I love surprising people with knitted gifts – and my sister’s no exception – but this gift is a little different.  It’s for her wedding day, and brides have really clear ideas of what they want to look like that day, and my sister and I have tastes that have about as much in common as avocados and porcupines, and I didn’t want her to feel like she had to wear it, just because I made it and she felt obligated. I knew the whole time I was knitting it that this was a risk.

So last night, I wrapped the whole thing up, and took it to her house.

wrapping 2014-08-19

Yeah, it’s five weeks before the wedding, but here’s the rub. If she didn’t like it – if it wasn’t what she imagined herself wearing- if it wasn’t absolutely perfect, then, I told her…

wrapped 2014-08-19

I am prepared to make another one. One that’s perfect. Sure, this one is bison, and silk and over 1000 glass beads, but I still want it to be just what she dreamed.  I knew the whole time that I was making it that there was a good chance that this wouldn’t be what she imagined, and I set myself a deadline so that if it wasn’t right I wouldn’t be angry, or put out, or really challenged to make another.

finished5 2014-08-19

That didn’t stop me from hoping that this was the one though.  Erin opened it, and she loved it. She thought it was beautiful (and it is) and elegant (and it is) and the right size (and it is) and that the beads were just perfect for the yarn (and they are) and….

 

She’s not sure it’s the right colour. It contrasts her dress, and while I think that’s perfect (and it is, no matter what she says – how else can you see the lace pattern?) that might not be what her fantasy wrap does.  We were looking at it in the evening, in a darkened bedroom – and I think she might feel differently when she sees the combination in daylight, like it will be for the wedding.  I am committed, however – to staying neutral on the decision. It’s her dress, it’s her wrap, it’s her day. (It is perfect though, and I hope she thinks so in the end.)

I’ve given her 48 hours to consult with my mother (who always knows what’s perfect) and then let me know. I’m standing by with different yarn, another 1500 beads and a good attitude. Cross your fingers. If she’s going to wear it, I’ll show you the whole banana after the wedding, and if it’s not right, I’ll show it to you sooner.

finished2 2014-08-19

It is perfect -  although maybe just for me.

 

The Moment

Saturday I finished the shawl. I cast off all day, and I’m not kidding about that. I cast off for a few hours the evening before, and then I cast off for about five straight hours on Saturday, and when I finished I was filled with a glee that I could barely contain. Maybe this contributed to what happened next. Who knows.

curlingup 2014-08-18

I trotted it outside to take a few pre-blocking pictures, and really, I was pretty happy with the thing. The whole time I was knitting it I was worried it wouldn’t be long enough, and as I cast off it became obvious that this wouldn’t be its flaw. The thing is huge. A little surprisingly huge – although I don’t know how surprised I should be – it happens to me every once in a while when something is bunched up on a circular needle.  It looks too short, and so I over-react to that by making it too long, As I cast off, this was revealed in increments.  I had to remind myself as it kept coming off the needles that I’d wanted it to be long. Super long. Super long is the goal. Don’t panic because it’s long.

castoff 2014-08-18

It’s long. Not too long, I didn’t think, but really long. Maybe this also contributed to what happened next.  I was anxious about the length, and wondering how much length would turn up in blocking, and so I rushed off to block it that minute.  I gave it a wee soak in the sink, then got out the wires and pins.  The first problem was that it was too big to fit on my bed. (Hint #1 that it is big.) Even diagonally, it wouldn’t fit, so I thought for a minute about other places to block it, but they all involved vacuuming,  so I decided to block it in parts.  I’d block the left half, letting the right lie fallow, then unpin the left, shift the shawl on the bed, and pin and spray the right half.   I wasn’t going to block it hard anyway – I wasn’t looking for much stretch at all.  Partly, I wanted a soft block because it was already big, but mostly because the yarn Sexy, is part bison (a short fibre and so not super strong) and part silk, which is a strong fibre, but not when wet.  This seemed to me like a reasonable plan.

readyforblock 2014-08-18

In its original incarnation, this shawl was crescent shaped.  I changed that for most of it, and after I’d modified the pattern the shawl had a straight section in the centre, then a gentle crescent shaped section on each end.  If I could have figured out how to make that section less crescent-ish I would have done that too. Maybe that had something to do with what happened next too.) I threaded dressing wires through the left half of the top section, and then set about pinning the curved part of the top edge.  It curved. It curved a little more than I wished it would, and so I was gently easing it into something less curvy, when I came to a part that was quite curvy, and at this exact moment, I took full leave of all my senses.  In a decision that can only be described as complete stupidity, I took hold of the top edge between my two hands, and ever so gently, pulled it a little.

Just as I’d hoped, the edge stretched the tiniest bit, reducing the curve and giving me an edge way closer to what I wanted.  I think more than anything else, that success contributed to what happened next – which was that I decided to pin that edge quite firmly. I put in one pin, then took hold of the next spot and moved it to where I wanted, gently pulling it a little farther.

Suddenly, the edge was straight! For one wonderful second I smiled, congratulating myself on my blocking prowess, and then, with a sinking feeling of nausea, realized that there was no way that the threads in the top part had suddenly stretched more than I needed – there was no way that they could suddenly be that compliant, and I realized, in a horrible and complete moment of understanding what had happened.

edgebroke 2014-08-18

I’d broken the yarn.  Yup, the worst nightmare that blocking has to offer, right there, and even though I 100% knew better, I did it.The second I realized what had happened, I walked away. I couldn’t think of anything that would help right that second, especially since it was still wet, so I left it until it was dry, and then unpinned it carefully, and then moved it to a safe spot like it was a case of nitroglycerine.  Right that minute the only plans I could think of were either sobbing helplessly, or getting rather drunk, and neither are a look I embrace. I did take an hour long bath with a large glass of wine while I contemplated how it could be that a knitter with my level of experience and knowledge could pull such a completely idiotic move, but after that I tried to wade over to the side of the pity pool rather than keep on swimming.

A few days later, with a bit of perspective and contemplation, I think it’s going to be okay. It looks to me like just one thread snapped, so today I’m attempting a little surgery. I know it doesn’t look that bad, but we all know how knitting goes – one broken spot and the whole piece is at risk.  I’m not quite sure how I’ll tackle it yet. So far everything I think of shortens the yarn a little, and that’s not going to help with the top edge problem in general.  Right now, I’m leaning towards threading in a replacement chunk of yarn, one that overlaps with the existing yarn, then takes the correct path along the edge.  I’ve got lots of other edge to use as an example, and I think I can figure it. Then I just have to figure out how to secure that piece. I think I’ll look for a matching thread in my sewing box, and see if I can’t lash them together with a few well placed stitches.

Once that’s done? Sigh.  I guess I take another stab at blocking. This time though, I think I’ll be a lot more careful.

Forever and ever

Finally. I had two projects that I wanted to finish before I went all the way to crazy-town with brand new exciting stuff, and I’ve been such a virtuous and dedicated knitter. Jen’s socks are finished, and that meant the only thing left on the needles was the “priority shawl”. This shawl is Sweet Dreams, except I changed a few things.

That’s a lie. I changed a whole bunch of things. I had more yarn than was called for, and the yarn was the superlatively delicious Sexy, from the Buffalo Wool Co. This yarn is so nice that once I decided that Sweet Dreams was my pattern, I couldn’t stand to waste an inch… so I altered the pattern to make things work for me.  I change the width, I changed the way I cast on… I did a crazy voodoo short row thing to make the whole shawl less crescent shaped, and frankly, at this point there’s no way to know if this shawl is going to work, or if I’ve just spent tons of knitting time, brain energy, beads and beautiful yarn making a shawl, or an extremely oddly shaped table runner. (Truth be told, if this thing is a train wreck, I won’t even use it as a table runner. I’d rip it out and start over. The ingredients are too delicious to waste on an inanimate object with no nerve endings.)

bindingdet 2014-08-15

This shawl is on a deadline.  I don’t need a shawl to be finished for awhile, but if this insane amount of modification doesn’t work, I need time to reknit it all, and so this thing should really have been done a few weeks ago.  I knew this, and was feeling a little hysterical about it, so I really applied myself over the last few days, and this morning, wrapped in glory and delighted with my progress, I finished the very last beautiful row, placing a rather bonkers number of beads as I went.

binding 2014-08-15

Now all that’s left is the bind-off, which frankly, I hadn’t given a ton of thought to. Bind-off, I thought.  No biggie. Wrong again.  There are currently 600+ stitches on my needle.

I have no explanation for why I thought that this bind off wouldn’t take a million years, but when I counted it up, I stroked out a little. That would have been enough, but then I took a look at the instructions for the bind-off, and the bottom fell out.

It’s a picot bind off.  Cast on three, bind off five – and that, my knitterly compadres, is a bridge too far. I see now that this is going to take forever – or at least until Sunday. This bind-off is going to take so long that the world will have a different population when I finish. People will die, babies will be born… I am going to be casting off forever. I see that now.

moredet 2014-08-15

I’m off to start. Today is my daughter Meg’s 23rd birthday (I KNOW. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN) and the family converges here in just a few short hours. I’ll make a dinner, light candles, make it beautiful, and start. Binding off. Forever.

What’s the harshest bind-off you ever did?

 

Remains of the day

When I was finished Jen’s socks, I had two little balls of “beige” leftover.  (I’d weighed the yarn and divided it in two, to make sure I had enough, which was ridiculous, since Jen’s feet are petite.) Now, when it comes to yarn leftovers, I am without virtue. For years and years I dutifully stored and hung onto all of the scraps and partial balls that were the remains of whatever projects generated them, and I thought good thoughts about what I was going to do with them.

I dreamed of a BeeKeepers Quilt,  or a Sock Yarn Blanket, or a Scrappy Scarf… I had bags and bags, and I just knew that I was going to use them and turn them into all sorts of awesome, or at least have them to hand for darning and repairs, and I really, really didn’t think of myself as the sort of person who would throw away yarn, you know what I mean? I love yarn.

The absolute truth is that I never did any of those things, and so quite some time ago, I took to abandoning the leftovers.  If it was sweater yarn, I handed it over to someone who cared, and If it was socks, I left the remainders where I finished. (I’ve left at least 20 partial balls of sock yarn on planes, tucked into the seat pocket. In my mind I think the person who finds them has to spend a minute thinking about knitting, and that can’t hurt the world.) This time though, when I finished Jen’s socks, I couldn’t bear to part with the leftovers, and with news that there may be a baby on the horizon in my circle, I knew just what to do.

bootiesedge 2014-08-13

A little pair of Cutest Booties. Yarn: Indigodragonfly Cariboubaa in Beige. Needles: 2.25mm. Finished in a single evening, except for the fun of trimming pom-poms. I actually had to make five pom-poms instead of just four, since in an effort to to get one of them perfect, I trimmed it into oblivion.

bootiesstraight 2014-08-13

They’re still the cutest booties I know how to make, and now? No leftovers. At least this once.

Hey Jack, the good people are here

Every year on the bike rally, I take knitting- and I don’t just mean that I pack knitting along for the evening or when I’m off my bike, I mean I pack knitting.

knitting on bike 2014-08-11

Never, ever at a break or pause in the cycling have I reached down into that little case and pulled out a sock so I can do a couple lines and take the edge off, but there’s something about being able to look down and see it that reminds me that I’m still me, and makes me feel more comfortable with the riding. (Also, I’m pretty sure that one day I’ll need something to knit while I wait for the ambulance to come, or once I’m waiting for my x-rays.)  I put my little bit of knitting onto the bike every morning, and I took it off every night, and then I would have a bit of a knit after we got the tents up and the bikes sorted and before dinner and after/during whatever team things we had to do.  It wasn’t a lot of knitting time, really – but even though I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot done, I wanted to be knitting on the right thing.

sockattalentnight 2014-08-11

Knitting is like that for me. It’s hard to explain what I mean, it’s like knitting isn’t just knitting. It matters when and where and what I knit – like the knitting soaks up a bit of the places and people and things that were present while I was knitting it.  Years later I can look at a pair of socks or a scarf and say “Ah, yes.  The summer of 2014, I knit on that sock in Montreal when I was with Jen and Ken.”

montrealpoutine 2014-08-11

Once I realized that everything that I knit came to have this association for me, I started to be thoughtful about what I knit when. I came to believe that there was resonance – that I could use yarn that was special because of some reason, and knit it in a place or time that was related to that yarn (at least in my head, if not in reality) and make things extra special and meaningful. Like… taking yarn a friend dyed on a trip somewhere that I wish they were with me, or knitting something for someone during a time that they had trouble, to try and be with them figuratively, if not literally.  You know what I mean (or maybe you don’t, and I’ve just revealed the entire depth and breadth of my crazy, and now you’re just sitting there shaking your head and cut and pasting this entry into an email with the heading “I told you she took knitting way too seriously.”

Knitting isn’t always like that – it’s not like I sit around trying to figure out what yarn would be the most spiritually significant thing I could take to IKEA, but when something seems like it might be important? Yeah. I think it over.  This year when the rally came around, it was so easy to figure out what to knit, and what to knit it out of.

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I made socks – and I know they look like plain socks, but let me tell you what they really are. They’re freakin’ symbols of the way people can be awesome. That yarn is Indigodragonfly Cariboubaa, and it’s in a colour they dreamed up, called “Beige.”  Kim and Ron (They’re Indigodragonfly) invented the colourway not too long ago, and sent a skein to both me and Jen- because they’d decided to support the Rally and the people who need it by donating a portion of the sales of every skein in that colourway.  They didn’t even advertise it – just quietly made a commitment. Then, as if that wasn’t enough (and it really, really was) they sponsored our team tee-shirts.

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Knitters, you haven’t lived until you explain to the non-knitting portion of the bike rally (pro-tip: that’s most of it) that you’re sponsored by a yarn company. This look comes over them for a minute like it had never occurred to them that it was even remotely possible that yarn people existed in that sort of very real way.  They all said “Yarn?” and then stared at the logo on the shirt, because Hell yes, our team was the first bike rally team to be sponsored by a yarn company, and you betcha their logo was on our shirts.  I just loved it.

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Once all of that happened, it was easy to decide what yarn to take. What else? Kim and Ron did so much for the rally, and for so little glory, and they’re such very, very good people, and they quietly make such a lovely difference in the world and I wanted that with me the whole way. It’s like that yarn was what the rally was all about. You know what I mean? I knit that yarn and wore that shirt and looked at all the non-knitters wearing the shirt and I was just so freakin’ proud of our community, and the way knitters change things for non-knitters, whether they know it or not… and by the way,  Kim and Ron? If you read this?  Jen and I  have shirts for you. You’re officially on the team. I’ll pop them in the mail.

Once I had the yarn chosen, the rest was easy. Socks, because they’re so portable and I wouldn’t need to keep track of a pattern, and I would make them for Jen.

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She was the most amazing co-lead I could have gotten. Let me tell you this: If you need something run, and you need it run well, with a minimum of drama, a maximum of efficiency and a large magnitude of fun… Call Jen. Actually, I think you can call most parents 40 and older, but I called Jen – and it was brilliant. One night in the tent – it was after the rather crippling ride in the rain (the one where we didn’t take the bus)  Jen got up at 3am for a brief crawl and whimper to the facilities. When she got back, we tried to get back to sleep, and I sighed, or maybe it was a moan, my legs were killing me. “What?” Jen said.  “I’m just trying to figure out what this feeling in my legs is.” I replied.

Jen thought about it for a minute, and I think I heard her rubbing her own sore legs. Finally, she answered.  “Is it regret?” she asked? “Is it the actual physical manifestation of REGRET?”

We dissolved then into helpless smothered laughter, trying not to wake anyone in the nearby tents, and that’s what it’s like with Jen.  I’m lying there trying to figure out whether the pain in my legs is the feeling of damaged muscle, growing muscle, or the absence of enough muscle, and Jen’s nailed it.  She was like that every time, and she’s a big part of how something so hard ended up so awesome.

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So she gets socks. Socks inspired by Kim and Ron, and good people, and hard work, and the days that we spent on the rally. It’s all in there.

I know they look like regular socks, but they’re really not.

 

Minibreak

Whew. Thanks so much for forgiving my absence on Thursday and Friday knitters. Joe and I took a mini break, and headed up to hang out with his family at a cottage for just a little bit (20 hours, really) and we had a blast.  We went swimming with Lou – and blew bubbles and played cards and hung out with Kelly and Ben (home from Madagascar, just for a little bit) and watched Carlos try to sail a little sailboat (Carlos wants you to know that in that picture he’s deliberately capsized the boat, so that he could learn how to handle that situation. He did not, I repeat, did not take a dunking that wasn’t of his own choosing.)

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We knit (ok just me and my niece Savannah) and had a great meal and stayed up late and in the morning, before we came home, I convinced my very charming Mother-in-Law Carol to be a sock model.

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It turns out that she was pretty keen on it (that’s what happens the first time. They’re thrilled. The charm wears off after you ask them a bunch more times) and she was a natural.

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To boot, the socks fit her perfectly, which is a bit of a shame, since they were intended for me, but such is the lot of a knitter.  It was just one of those times that the sock chooses someone else.

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Pattern: Starry, Starry Night Socks. Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Blue label in Natural for the light colour, and the blue is Indigodragonfly’s Merino Nylon Sock in “People Are Particularly Stupid Today, I Cannot Speak To Any More Of Them”.
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What happened with this sock is the curse of the small footed.  Usually, a small footed sock knitter has nothing but advantages.  It doesn’t take me long to make a pair of socks for myself, and I never need extra yarn.  It’s awesome. The only drawback is illustrated perfectly by this pattern.  It comes in one size, that size fits most, and I am not like most. I could make them fit lengthwise, but not widthwise, not without changing the gauge, and I like the gauge they’re at, and well. Into the Christmas box they go.  (I bet you can guess who they’re probably going to end up for.)

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Still, a gorgeous, fun knit.  I love ‘em. I might just knit them all over again.

Presents? Yup, I’m still working through the pile:

For Dawn W a beautiful kit for a knit your own bracelet from The Sitting Tree.  Charming, am I right?

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Thane, a very generous reader, will be sending this duo to Sherilyn F.

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It’s one 4oz braid of Raven Ridge roving in a wool/alpaca/mohair blend, along with 4oz of coordinating Corriedale (Thane thinks you should try to say that five times fast).

Diane over at The Knotted Bag has a gorgeous sock sized project bag to give.

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Dana Z will be enjoying that.   Diane also (because she’s just that nice) has a Market bag to give away, and isn’t it nice too?

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Diane says “It has open handles that knot together -the longer handles to create an adjustable bag, the shorter handles knot together to close the bag. It has pockets inside as well.”  I think it’s really neat, and so will Barbara B.
Susanne Visch is a designer, and she’s got some patterns to give away.  First up, The Sweet as Pi cardigan will go out to Carolyn S (I hope she knows someone who would love a baby cardi this delightfully geeky.)

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Lee Anna E gets a copy of Handspun Delight. (Great for stash busting)

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and Susan B’s going to look forward to The Easy Going Shawl. (Charming pattern for any gauge.)

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Each of those three charming knitters will also receive a copy of Zomer Zilt:

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Thanks Suzanne!

Behold, amazing gifts from Trish at Forest Mill Farm!  This is a gorgeous 200 yd, 11.2 oz skein of Aran weight alpaca yarn from Trish’s beloved alpaca “Mugsy” and I think that Joy H is going to adore it.

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Now, Trish isn’t the sort of person who’s going to see a spinner left out while she can help it, so look at this!

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That’s a 7.3 oz. batt of alpaca roving from her big boy “Noah”. (I love knowing the names of animals that the fibre comes from. Don’t you?) Laura M should have a blast spinning it. It looks delicious.

Priscilla at Madsen Originals is going to make Liz W very happy.  She’s donated a skein of her sock yarn, and isn’t it pretty?

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Barbara B is going to have a nice day.  She’s the lucky recipient of a collection of patterns from Jennifer at Will Run 4 Yarn.

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It includes A Tremulous Light, Brisen, Low Tide Explorer, and Seaflower. Pretty, so pretty.

Finally, last (for today) but certainly not least, Jill has gone into the stash and come up with two beautiful gifts.  First, a skein of Gales Art super wash sock yarn 90/10 wool/nylon 450 yards in “notes”, that she’ll be sending to Debbi M.

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Second, she has this great trio of yarns.

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Jill had planned a really great Color Affection for it, but ran out of steam, and thinks it should go onto a good home.  It’s 3 skeins of cascade heritage silk, and Denise W, we hope it’s right up your alley.

There’s still more gifts to come, but that’s it for today. Thanks, as always to everyone. I think you’re great.