Randomly on a Thursday

1. This morning Joe and I got up at 6am and got our scene together, and went to the airport. We have a coffee maker where you pour the beans into it, and then it makes one cup of coffee at a time. This morning, I got the only cup of coffee in the house before it ran out.

2. Joe is pretending not to care but I think it is a strain on our relationship.

3. Not as much as a strain as it would be if he got the last cup, I think.

4. I knit at the meeting last night but I didn’t finish a sock.

5. That puts me a little behind but I am trying not to panic because today is a new day.

6. The Tool Box Cowl is bigger but still not done but I hope today is the day because I am sort of panicking about that one. I can handle a single day where I don’t meet a deadline, but two days in a row could start to be a trend.

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7. We’re in Quebec City and it is properly cold and snowy.

8. Gifts for knitters: Day 8.  (See what I did there?) No matter what your knitter is in to, knit wise, they need to block their knits.  How they block things is going to depend a lot on what they make, but there’s some stuff that’s useful to everyone.  For sure, your knitter would find a use for a blocking mat (they roll up and don’t take much space) or a set of these foam tiles that lock together.*  (They’re a little less chic, but it’s super cool that you can put them together into the shape you want. If your knitter makes everything from sweaters to scarves to shawls, that could be a plus.) Toss in some T-pins, and you’re good.  If your knitter makes lace, then they might love a kit with wires. This Inspinknity set is good (and there’s several types there.) This set is just fine, and I’ve owned this set forever. (I actually own those, and the Inspinknity ones, and use them together often.)  If you’re the handy type of non-knitter, you could totally make your knitter a set of blocking wires, and they’d love it.  They appreciate things you make yourself, it’s totally what they’re into. I promise

*Yes. If you think you saw some foam floor tiles like that at the Home Depot or Canadian Tire, you’re right. They’re the same. Can totally be cheaper if you find them on sale. Do it.

The sweaters are small

I know it seems really unlikely, but I think things are okay over here.  I think this even though my yarn hasn’t arrived (it’s okay, I have lots to knit) and even though there’s not a lot of finished anything kicking around. I think this even though I’ve spent a big chunk of the day getting ready for a meeting tonight, and even though I’ve got to go to that meeting. (It’s okay, I’ll knit on the subway on the way there, and at the meeting, and on the way home. Everybody at the meeting is used to me by now.) I think this despite the fact that I’m not (quite) packed for a little trip Joe and I are taking tomorrow – and I think this even though it’s a ski trip (apparently I ski now. I was wondering if that was a one off last year, but Joe’s really into it) and even though you can’t knit while you are skiing, or while you’re recovering from the broken arm I worry about getting while skiing. (I’m not very good.)

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I think this even though that cowl (it’s another Tool Box Cowl, this time knit from a Lorna’s Laces String Quintet called “Flute”) is sort of just started, not “almost finished”, which is what I just almost typed, and I do believe it’s all going to be just fine.  (Pardon me while I tidy the dining room, a wrapping paper bomb seems to have gone off in there.) I know all of this seems delusional, and there’s no way all of this is going to get done, but it doesn’t feel that way today.  Today, I’m a lady with hope, and that could just be because I finished up arranging the stockings with Santa yesterday, or it could be because it seems like there’s still a lot of time – but I absolutely feel like I’ve got this.  I’m sure I do.

Right?

Gifts for knitters: Day 6

Short and sweet, if your knitter wears tee shirts. This one is a total classic (and I’m wearing it right now – trust me, even if you don’t get it, your knitter will.) If your knitter’s a guy? How about this one?

Gifts for knitters: Day 7 (Look at that! All caught up.)

How about a little pottery?  Jennie the Potter is a fabulous thing, especially on the 15th of this month, which she has her next shop update. If that’s not your knitters thing, check out Creative with Clay.  There’s mugs, and bowls, all with knitting on them. Still not right? How about a sheep mug? Not that one? How about this one? Personally, I think I like this one.

It works if you work it

You know what, I’m just going to say it.  I forgot to order yarn for Christmas presents.  There. It’s out, and I feel so much better. I’d toyed with telling you something else, just adding a few projects in a few days and pretending that it had been my plan all along, but we’re too close for that. The total and honest truth is that I forgot to write it on the spreadsheet, and it didn’t get done. I wrote down the things I was going to make by names on the sheet, and nodded to myself like it was all arranged, and wandered off to do something like knit a Santa Mouse. I didn’t really realize what had happened until yesterday when I went to knit the yarn I didn’t have and it all came together.  (Subtle sign, that one.) I’ve ordered it now (really, not just psychically)  and I’m sure it will be here as quickly as the border allows, and everything is going to be fine because it’s not like I don’t have things to do. The plan between now and Christmas is (don’t panic, I’m not panicking) Two sweaters, two cowls, a hat, some slippers, and four pairs of socks.

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I’m only waiting on the yarn for the sweaters, one cowl, the hat and slippers. Everything else (that’s a cowl and four pairs of socks, is already on the needles, or at least…. here. It’s going to be a little tight, but fine, and maybe I’ll get all that stuff out of the way while I’m waiting for the yarn to arrive.  It’s funny, but I really sort of think that getting everything cast on helps. I know it doesn’t, I know it can’t matter at all, but there’s something about having it all started that makes it seem like it’s going to get finished. Godspeed, little box of yarn.

Gifts for Knitters: Day 4

Now, not all knitters like trinkets and shiny things, but you’ll know if yours does, and if it sounds like him or her, then you can score major points by combining two things that they like, and get some knitting themed jewelry.  I hunted around for a bit, and I found this pin (complete with real knitted brass) a cable needle pendant, a ring that’s a knitting needle (bonus, you don’t need to know their ring size) one that looks like knitted fabric, another pendant that’s pretty funny, little sterling balls of yarn earrings, Schoolhouse press has some beautiful things. If you think your knitter would like making their own jewelry, Laura sells some pretty kits, and there’s a funky necklace kit here. There’s lots out there, good luck!

Gifts for Knitters: Day 5

This one will likely seem a little odd to those of you who don’t knit, and think that maybe a knitter would only need one of these – but the mighty needle gauge is a fleeting thing, most knitters struggle to put their hands on one, even though they own several. It’s a safe bet that your knitter would welcome another, even if they’ve got one or ten. There’s ones with birds, or a peacock. Shoes and sheep, ones that are necklaces, like this or this one in sterling silver. You can even get them one with their name on it, so that maybe they won’t lose it as fast, or a Doctor Who one (I threw that in just for Tall Allison. We’ll see if she’s paying attention.)

Any needle gauge is good, I promise, remember though, the most useful ones have both American and Metric sizes on them. Go forth and find one. Or ten. Really, we can’t have too many.

PS: See that? I’m almost caught up.

What about the early worm

This time of year fills me with a sort of general, vague panic.  Just the creeping feeling, omnipresent and pervasive, that I have forgotten something, fallen behind on something or am about to light the holidays on fire (metaphorically speaking.) I’ve got all kinds of strategies for staying on track, most of all the mighty Christmas Spreadsheet, but mostly I’ve learned that I feel this way because there’s always something that I actually am falling behind on, forgotten or have (occasionally literally) lit on fire. (Usually cookies.) I love having a large family that does Christmas big, but it means there’s a lot of moving parts. This year, I wasn’t doing too badly. I was working the spreadsheet, getting stuff in order, pulling it together, and Joe had his list, and he was working hard on it. It was looking pretty good, something getting done every day, until Joe came to me – handed me a glass of wine (never a good sign) and said “Thing is, I’ve got to go out of town.”  Turns out that as much as he’d like to avoid it, he’s got another work trip to make this year.

I took a sip of my drink and thought about that, and decided what I wouldn’t say, which was something about abandonment, and being a team player and how if this meant I had to go to the mall twice or something unreasonable like that, it was right the hell out. I also decided against reminding him that for years and years we’ve had a deal. I cook, clean, knit, organize, make lists, hand out lists, wrap, remind him what we need and when we need it by, and he goes to the store. I hate the store. The store is his. As much as Joe would rather wax his armpits than make cookies, that’s how much I don’t want to go Christmas shopping, and I am willing to do a million other things to avoid it. I thought about laying all that on him, thought about telling him that there is no bloody way that I am going to be here by myself pulling together this whole thing while he’s in a hotel room and not running out of tape at all, while I stand in a queue at The Bay with meringue in my hair, desperately knitting a sock while trying to buy the last stupid roll of wrapping paper in Toronto, even though it’s ugly.

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I said none of that. I took a deep breath, and asked him when, and for how long. The answer was the worst possible.  A week. The week before Christmas. Okay then.  I took more deep breaths, and Joe asked if that was going to be okay, and said maybe he didn’t have to, and I thought about it, and thought about how hard he works to make things nice, and then I didn’t say what I was thinking, which was something about how it really wasn’t, and then I went to the spreadsheet, and had a  good look. Then I finished my wine, went back to Joe and told him that it was totally fine, if we made one change.

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We will be finished before he leaves. We’ll do it all before he gets on a plane. All the shopping, all the wrapping, all the stocking stuffers, the whole thing with the tree. Everything that’s going in jars, everything that needs printing, the stupid trip to IKEA -all of it. He can go, and I’ll smile and drive him to the airport and wish him well, and he can feel great about it and I will too – if we’re all done. “No problem” he said, and I know he meant it. I started changing things on the spreadsheet, and we made a plan to go get a tree, and started to get stuff out of boxes and pull it together – and then Joe stopped, frozen in his tracks, and said “Wait… All of it?” I nodded. “All of it. No exceptions.”

He looked at me stunned, and I couldn’t quite figure out what he was worried about. We have a list. We’ll work the list, and be ready a week early. Boom. No problem. It was kinda exciting, actually.  “Everything.” I said, and Joe said “But… not all of it? Not….. ” he paused, and I could tell that he was about to drop something huge. I looked at him questioningly, and finally he said it. “Not the knitting though… I mean….”

I almost laughed. “Of course not the knitting Joe. Get real.”

Gifts for Knitters: Days 1, 2 and 3. (See, I’m going to catch up.)

It’s tradition around these parts, for me to provide ideas for those who love knitters and are tasked with buying gifts for them this time of year. I know that if you love a knitter, and want to get them a present that they’ll love, that it can be confusing to know what you should get, or where to find it, or if it’s any good. To that end, I’ve got a list for you. Not everything is going to be right for every knitter, but if you keep an eye out, there should be something that works for yours.

Day 1: A swift. Does your knitter ever ask you to stand with your hands out, holding a skein of yarn for them? Do you see them with yarn draped over chair backs, or sitting with their legs out, yarn held by their feet while they wind it into a ball? If so, they need a swift. A swift is a yarn holder that replaces … well, you.  Buy one of these, and you never have to do it again. There’s all sorts of them. The basic entry level one looks like this, and that works for most knitters -but can be squeaky, and doesn’t last forever. Still, a good start. If your knitter has that kind and complains about it, you could upgrade them to a wooden one, and these are a little nicer.  If they have one of those, or you want to get a really great one, take a look at these.  They’re hand made, wooden, don’t clamp to anything (the clamping thing can be hard, depending on your furniture) and don’t squeak. They’re beautiful.

Day 2: A yarn bowl.  Now, these aren’t for every knitter. Knitters who knit everywhere, trucking their project from place to place, they might not need one of these. If your knitter is the stationary type though, a yarn bowl can be a nice thing. They plunk the ball of yarn in it, and then it doesn’t roll around or get covered with cat hair. There’s wooden ones, and ceramic ones, and Doctor Who ones, and … you get the idea. There’s got to be something on this page that suits.

Day 3: Knitting needle organizers.  Look around your house. Somewhere there might be a nest of knitting needles.  If they mostly are long and straight, then your knitter might like a knitting needle organizer for straight needles.  There’s lots of kinds, but these roll up ones are pretty good.  If you see mostly straight needles, but they’re short and fine, then think about grabbing one of these.  They’re from Handwork Hardware, and they sort the needles by size (trust me, that’s a great thing) and store them too.  I’ve got one, and it’s reduced needle related swearing incidents quite a bit.  If your knitter mostly has needles that have a cable connecting them, then they’re into circulars.  You can get a hanging one like this, or like this, or – if your knitter seems more the type, there are cloth folders like this, or this.  If your knitter has all kinds, or you’re looking for something a little fancier, look no further than Grace’s Cases.  (She’ll even do a custom one, and if your knitter is a guy, she’s got ones that are made from suit fabric.)

Also the server didn’t work

I  know someone who used to say that in their family, if you did something twice, it was a tradition.  This used to be a sort of a joke, where you’d do something that the family or your friends enjoyed, and you’d think to yourself “note to self, so-and-so really liked that” and I’d write it on the Christmas spreadsheet to make sure it happened again, and everyone would laugh, and say “watch out! You’ll have to do it forever!”

Little did I know, that my family is so sensitive to tradition and ritual, and the little things we always do that make our family special, that for us, it doesn’t take twice.  If the thing you did was really good, and it resonated, and everyone loved it, then whammo. It was an instant tradition, this time of year not the same without it.   Such was the case with the Advent Calendar I made for Lou’s family two years ago.  I thought I was making a calendar, but it turned out I’d made an instant tradition, so much so, that this year everyone asked. “Myrie is three,” they said. “Isn’t this the year for her calendar?”

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I sighed, and started with the knitting of the tiny things again.  All last month, tiny thing after tiny thing came off my needles and it was sort of a secret. I didn’t say out loud that it was Myrie’s calendar, but everyone knew. The whole thing culminated last weekend in a flurry of sewing and applique and a general sort of hysteria. I always remember too late that the sewing machine and nine oceans worth of felt is a bit of a production.  I cut the whole thing out, and I embroidered all of the numbers on the pockets – I’d forgotten you can embroider over tissue paper then rip it away. Way easier.

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I sewed those parts on, and then sat down to sew the buttons on, and in that moment, realized I didn’t have any.  A trip to downtown and the button store later, I had all I needed, and sewed every single one of those twenty-four buttons on. (I tried to do it with the machine first, but after I broke two needles and the ones I’d done fell off anyway, I decided to rock it old school. I sort of had to, once I’d broken all my needles.) When it was done, I hung all the tiny things from the buttons, and then moved half of the buttons to the right places.  (Little problem with the order of operations there.)

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Then, I loaded it into the car, and did something I almost never do.  I drove somewhere.  Myrie doesn’t live very close to me, but she had to have it for the 1st of December, so off I went, wending my way along the highway, over the big hill to Myrie’s house.  When I got there, Myrie’s mum Robyn opened the door and said “I think I know why you’re here!” and I went to the car and got the thing.

There is a danger in giving a gift to a three year old, unless you have your head on straight. The three year old could not like it. They could be afraid of it. They could cry and refuse to look at it, or they could promptly flush three tiny things down the toilet because they’ve just learned how the lever works.  You cannot care. Gifts to three year old’s need to be freely given, in the spirit of the thing, and without ego.  I marched in, hung it on the wall, and waited for NOTHING to happen.

It was my lucky day, as an auntie.  Something did happen.  All the ornaments were taken off, exclaimed over, cuddled, taken out of pockets, put back in pockets, and though I have no doubt that the kid has no clue what it’s for or how it works, she was delighted, and so was her mum, and that was enough for me.  Robyn’s reported back since then, and apparently the star was hung on the first with much enthusiasm, and today the candy cane went up. (Unlike her cousin Luis, Myrie seems to be keen on doing them in order, and the candy cane was in the day two pocket, after all the shuffling.)

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I didn’t know when I was making the first one that there would be a second, but I’m clear now that there will be a third. When my grandson is three. I’ve got three years to get it together.  (That’s right, a grandson. We’re completely shocked and thrilled, Megan is expecting a boy.) I can’t wait to find out what tiny things he’ll like.

Santa Mouse for sure.

(PS. I know too that Gifts for Knitters is a tradition, and I’ll get right on it. Give me a minute, I’ll catch up.)

Get thee behind me, tiny things

I am finished knitting the tiny things. I feel like there should be a parade, or some sort of party, or a telegram from a dignitary tasked with congratulating people who undertake this sort of business. The last two tiny things were a little intense, especially when day before yesterday, I thought I had knit the last of them, displayed them all proudly, stood there looking over all I had wrought feeling chuffed and relieved, and then realized that there were only ^%$%^&ing 23 of them.

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A quick consultation with friends (can there be two mice? Are two mice allowed?) and this little thing joined the ranks.  I am not going to pretend I was cheerful about it, nor will I contend for a moment that I had any positive feelings about knitting the wings and star out of wire. I’m pretty sure I pouted actually, and even though I was alone, the last little bit of making up and sewing together was punctuated by loud exclamations of “OH COME ON”  and “(*&%& THIS”. It is a very, very good thing that I don’t believe that knitted things carry the feelings that you have while you knit them, or that little fairy mouse would be an itty-bitty avenger and a toxic plague upon the earth.

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I felt great about finishing for 10 minutes, and then got out the felt, sewing machine, rotary cutter and tissue paper, and set about phase II.

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I’ve got most parts cut out, and the next step is embroidering all the numbers on the pockets. I can admit, I dallied briefly with the idea of cutting the numbers out and hot glue gunning the thing together, but in the end I took a long view. I’m trudging through the last of this with one idea in mind… I’m not making this for a child, I’m making it for the adult they will become, standing in front of it when they’re grown, and maybe a knitter, and looking at all the work in it, while they think to themselves “Wow. That Steph is a lunatic who has always really loved me.”

Gauge is still a thing

I bet, if I told you that I was going to knit a tiny snowflake, that you’d think that was no big deal. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? I mean, I can knit, and I’m getting pretty good at the tiny things. The main barrier to knitting a snowflake would be (you would think) that it might be a little fiddly… and you would be right. It would take a little time, you might suppose, to muck about with wee needles and wee yarn and what proved to be a teeny little chart, and all those things are true, and I saw them coming, and so on the weekend, when I was alone, and I’d already knit a few tiny things and was working up a good head of steam, wait… here’s the tiny things I knit to get warmed up.

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That’s a tiny sock, and a tiny mitten (I faked it, using these and the sock charts)  and a tiny bluebird.  (The bird still needs eyes. Overlook it for the moment, will you?) I tossed a quarter in there for scale.  So I was feeling pretty good, and I found patterns for snowflakes – and I got to it. I got my tiny needles (2mm) and some white laceweight and with very little fanfare, I knit a snowflake, and blocked it. Now, while I was knitting it, I thought it wasn’t all that tiny. In fact, it seemed sort of big, but by the time I was blocking I’d committed to the thing (and I guess there was a part of me that thought something might change, though blocking lace never makes it smaller.) When I was done it was perfect….

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and too big. A lot too big.  “Gauge, you bastard” I thought to myself, and looked around for what I could do to make it smaller. Smaller needles, naturally – and I went into my needle bin and came out with a set of 0000 DPNs (1.25mm) that I’ve been saving for a day I was feeling particularly lunatic.  An hour later, I’d thought of wonderful new ways to combine filthy words, had wept some, had loudly and bitterly complained to the cat about the difficulty of a central double decrease on needles that size, and had a much smaller snowflake, but I had a feeling it still wasn’t tiny enough.

As I walked to the kitchen to block it, I made a decision. I decided that this had gone far enough. I can get a little weird about the knitting, sure, but there’s a line and I was perilously close to it.  If it was small enough to fit in the pocket of the advent calendar I was stopping, I told myself.  I had a little chat with myself about perfectionism and how the pursuit of same isn’t always totally healthy, and as I took out the pins I congratulated myself on letting go. It isn’t totally characteristic of my nature. I may have even thought something about how glad I was that the snowflake interval was over… and then I started to block it.

The first few pins went fine, and then as I stretched one of the points out,

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I found a dropped stitch in the worst possible way – as it sprung loose, and ran.  Now, you would have thought that I had invented all the way to put swearwords together while I knit that, but you would be wrong. Very wrong. I thought about getting a tiny crochet hook and trying to fix it, and then I got the bourbon out of the cupboard.  At the last possible moment I remembered that attempting to fix knitting problems with hard liquor doesn’t work.  (It’s not a moral problem, just one related to accuracy.)

I went back into the living room, swore one last time, admitted that I probably didn’t get gauge that time either, and since I was already using the smallest needles I had… I got smaller yarn.  This time, success was mine.  I won’t pretend that there wasn’t bourbon after though.

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Gauge. It’s a thing. Same pattern, the first on  2mm needles, the second on 1.25mm, with cobweb instead of  laceweight.

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The pattern is here, if you’d like to fall down your own little rabbit hole of neurosis. (Buy bourbon.)  After that, catching up was easy.

A flower – the recipient loves flowers. (This one is from Knitted Embellishments)

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A little Christmas tree, complete with beads for ornaments. (Cast on 28 stitches, work garter in the round, decreasing  two stitches at each side every sixth row for the tree, then cast on 8 stitches for the trunk, and work garter for six rows. Cast off, sew up in the important places, and sew on beads. Voila.)

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A little Christmas light

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and finally, a wee bell. (Because someone will ask, yes, it’s hanging off the spindle of my walking wheel.)

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For the bell, by the way, you may ask yourself “Can I buy a little bell to go in this at the dollar store?” The answer is:

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No.  You can only buy a hundred.  I’m set for life.

Two more tiny things to go.

 

 

Little Things

The little things are starting to get me down.  I am beginning to dream of chunky yarn, big blankets, cozy cowls knit out of bulky… something that when I’m finished knitting it and say “it’s over there” people don’t strain their eyes in the direction of the project and say “Where?”

I long to hold needles that are bigger than 2mm. I almost snapped yesterday and knit another Encompass (they’re a pretty fast gift, and I thought it would take the edge off) but I pulled myself together at the last minute and knit another ridiculously tiny thing.  I’ve knit 18 of 24 tiny things (and yes, that does put me three days behind schedule but I had a snowflake incident this last weekend. I’ll tell you tomorrow.) The end is in sight, and every time I find myself sighing in the general direction of something else, I double down. Today there are flurries and it’s very windy and very dark, so no current pictures for you, we’ll have to make do with ones from last week.  While I was at the retreat I made pretty good time, even with working very long days and the time spent defending Santa Mouse from Judith.  That wee woolly rodent had her entirely in it’s thrall, and I feared she’d nick him if I weren’t vigilant.  We knit, we dyed things (and there was leftover indigo, so Judith had a go at Debbi’s hair) and ate,

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and everyone was making amazing things, and they were all bigger than mine.

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While I was there, I made (from left to right) A star, a sweater, a snowman, a gnome baby, an olive (inside joke, I know it’s not very festive) and a heart.  I used all the patterns linked there, with the exception of the snowman. Mine looks a lot like the original, but I upsized it significantly. I still bought the pattern because it was her idea and not mine, and that’s worth paying for.

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While I was on the ferry, I was knitting some other tiny thing, and Debbi went off for a few minutes, and a very nice looking lady sat down opposite me – in Debbi’s spot. She pulled out her notebook, started writing, thinking, enjoying her quiet space.  I knit, and looked out the window, and when Debbi came back we talked about something – can’t remember what, but I think it was a normal conversation. Then the chime rang, telling us we should get ready, and I said to Deb “hold on, I want to take a picture of all my tiny things” and I lined them up, and took out my big camera, and worked hard to get them all just so, and took their pictures, and the whole time I did, there’s this lady, sitting right there, just out of the shot on the right, and this lady is so stunned that she can hardly breathe and I can tell that she’d really like some sort of explanation, and I offer none. She watches me do this, and I say something to Debbi like “should I get out the mouse or is it cool like this” and Debbi says it’s cool and checks her phone like it’s all no big, and Debbi says the mouse is overrated anyway, and then I pack up my tiny things and leave, and the woman just watches us go.

As sick as I am of the tiny things? I’m never going to get sick of freakin’ out the bystanders. That lady is going to wonder about the mouse for weeks.

 

 

 

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The Best Policy

Knitters, thank you for the time and space to think about what to say here, and thank you too for the absolutely polite, kind and respectful conversation in the comments on the last post. It was a stunning display of civility in the face of some pretty uncivil approaches elsewhere. I’ve always thought of this space like my virtual living room, and I am very grateful when that’s how you all think of it too, like a gigantic knitting party where we don’t say anything in the comments that we wouldn’t say in person, while looking the other human in the eyes with the whole group looking on.

I respect all of you. I think that’s clear, and I’ll always be interested in your points of view, and appreciate that you are not the same as me – not even those of you who voted the way I would have, were I American, and entrusted with the privilege. I think honesty is the best policy, and you’d see though me after this many years anyway, so I won’t pretend that I am not disappointed in the outcome, much the way I’m sure some of you who are interested in our politics were disappointed when Canada chose the opposite direction.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada.  I think of my Grandfather all day long, and I held his memory especially close to me during the minutes of silence. It’s also Veteran’s day, and since I’m here in the US for the Strung Along retreat, I’m really noticing how different the two days are. All day I’ve heard “Happy Veteran’s Day!” and I have to tell you, I was initially horrified. In Canada, we don’t put the word “Happy” in front of Remembrance Day. It’s a day of mourning, and the day we express the sadness we feel that war or fighting was necessary. That’s how my grandfather felt, he wasn’t at all proud of what he had to do. He thought the war he fought was terrible, and horrible, and…. necessary.  There is no celebrating in Canada today, just sad somber faces at the Cenotaph, poppies, gratitude for the sacrifices, and two minutes of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

You can imagine then, with this being our vision of the day, how I felt when people here told me that Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day were the same thing, and then saw sales, banners, parties and cupcakes, I thought (since I am being honest) that it was… wrong. Fine. There’s no other way to say it. I thought it was flip, and too lighthearted and I couldn’t understand it at all, and I tell you what, I didn’t like it either. Then I figured out that it’s not the same thing at all. Other than the fact that the two events both have to do with Veterans (sort of) that the point of them isn’t the same at all. They’re totally different, and that makes it not jerky at all to say Happy Veteran’s Day.

Then I started thinking about the election, and I decided that the same way that making a batch of Veteran’s Day cupcakes looks like move only someone dead inside would make, that’s only true if you think it’s the same as Remembrance Day (when, for the record, there are no sales or cupcakes or parties… at all. “Remembrance Day Party” doesn’t get a single result on Google. Not one.) I was gutted about the election of someone I think is neither respectful nor kind, and I wondered if maybe I just don’t get it. I’m certainly in no position to fully grasp the thing.  I do know that my ethics being what they are, it is not possible for me to think that President-Elect Donald Trump is a good person, and that is still true if I disregard the media entirely, and only listen to the actual words that came out of his actual mouth.  We simply are not in agreement on a human level, all politics aside.

Most of my disappointment around the election happened when I assumed that most people who voted for Donald Trump agreed with him. I was sad, because I thought that a person who voted for him voted for all the things he said, and agreed with them. I know that I’ll probably have a hard time explaining this, I’ve been looking for the right words all day, but over the last few days, as I listen to and talk with Americans, I’ve come to understand that many people who voted for Donald Trump see it differently. Some of them were single issue voters, and the way the feel about one issue defines where their vote goes, regardless of the candidates other positions. Some of them are heartbroken that all his views came in one package, because they know that he shouldn’t have spoken that way about women, or people who have faiths different from their own,  but they did what they thought was right because that one issue was so important to their heart. Others were concerned about something else – things I understand less well, but they are well aware of the things he said and did, but feel the way about him that my grandfather felt about war. That voting for him was terrible, and horrible, but necessary, and I’m doing my level best to understand them. I don’t now, but they talk like good people, so I’m listening respectfully.

The last group is the one that I thought was the largest, and actually seems like it might be the smallest. People who chose him not despite the many hateful things he said, but because of them. People who are racist. People who are bigots. People who are mysogynistic and sexist, and liked the things he said.  I can neither listen to them, nor respect them, and thankfully, it looks like there aren’t very many of them either.

I’m going to end this now, and tell you that I really waffled about whether to write about this or not. I decided to do it because in the end, I think a big part of the solution to the way everyone feels about each other is kindness, tolerance and understanding (except for that last group, nobody needs to tolerate that sort.) I also was impressed with the way that you’ve all been talking to each other, and I trust you to continue that. Silence just didn’t seem right, and I wonder if deciding not to try and talk, listen and understand is part of what got everyone so mad in the first place.

Peace out, I love you all. Go do something nice for someone. It will help no matter who you are.

Distractions

It took everything I had to turn off the election news just now and come sit at my desk.  I thought it would help to watch, but there’s no information, and I don’t know why I thought there would be, and once it started cycling through the same stuff over and over, it was time to bail.  (Cue the American’s wondering why a Canadian is gripped by the US election? The answer of course is that what you choose has a huge impact on us. We share the world’s largest trade relationship, more than $670 BILLION dollars passed between our two countries last year, and we share the worlds largest border. The people and policies you choose are super important to us. Add in that politics is practically our national sport (our politics, yours, anybody’s) and that your system is so fascinatingly different than ours and it’s safe to say you have our attention.  Case in point, tonight the CBC will be covering your election. You wouldn’t believe how interested we are.)  As gripped as I am, I bet some of you have feelings that are way more intense, so how about I show you some knitting and for just a few minutes you can pretend like today is no big deal?

Three more tiny things since we saw each other last, and if I knit one today, I’ll be right on track. First up, on Saturday I made a tiny candy cane.

candy-cane-2016-11-08

I used this pattern, and like I remembered last year, it was incredibly fiddly, which I don’t think is the fault of the pattern… I think it would be way less maddening at the gauge it’s written for (worsted weight) rather than the gauge I knit it at, which was fingering weight wool on 2mm needles.  Still, I got through, and the real trouble didn’t start until I tried to put a pipe cleaner into it so that I could make it bendy. The problem was that the end of the wire was too sharp, and kept getting hung up on the floats inside. I tried taping it, I tried folding the end over, I tried putting two through to make it stiffer… I tried everything until Joe reminded me of how they fish cables through small spaces at the studio. I threaded yarn onto the end of a big, blunt darning needle, pulled the needle through, then tied the end of the yarn onto the folded over end of the pipe cleaner, and whoosh. Through it went.  Engineering for the win again, although really, it would have just been easier to knit the tube around the thing – something I didn’t think of at all.

The next day Joe and I went for a hike up Rattlesnake point, and inspired by the woods and how much the recipient of this gift likes being outside, I knit a little acorn. Pattern here, and I knit it as written, except for you know. Tiny. (Back to the 2mm needles again.)

acorn-2016-11-08

It went fine, and needed nothing shoved up it at all.  Next up, a little gingerbread person.

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This little dude is the same as the one I made last go round, once again resurrecting an old Canadian Living pattern I like.  (Except, tiny again – and 22 stitches instead of 32 – height of person adjusted to match. Wouldn’t want them not to be proportional.)

You’ll notice too, that I ripped off a clever little idea from the tiny bear, and am doing it with all the ornaments I can. That pattern has you make the ribbon hanger, tying the ribbon ends in a knot, and then slipping it inside the ornament before pulling the stitches into a cinch at the top. It beats the pants off of sewing them all on afterwards, I tell you that.

Today I should be knitting another tiny thing, and I guess I am – though of another sort. I know that you’ve all be expecting me to go all crazy-knitting-grandma for Meg’s baby, and I’ve been resisting. Meg will know the sex in a few weeks, and I’ve been trying to hold off – but I finally snapped.  I don’t really truck with the idea that you can’t dress a baby any way you want to anyway, so I’m just starting.

tinysweater1-2016-11-08

One itty-bitty, teeny-tiny sweater headed this tiny person’s way. The softest merino I know (Greenwood Hill Farms DK) in a lovely silvery colour, warm and cozy.  I found it hard to start knitting for this little one. I am not a reluctant grandmother, nor am I a surprised one – but I have been worried about making a beginning of it. Truth be told, I was a little anxious about opening the floodgates, and that turns out to be exactly right. As I run my hands over this while I work, and measure tiny sleeves and figure proper lengths, I can feel it coming over me. Next a bonnet, then some booties, and a hat, and a soft, fine shirt – and a blanket, maybe two. One for good and one for every day, and another sweater for sure, and maybe a pair of pants and soakers… wait, will she need soakers? Are those too old-fashioned? (Note to self. Ask Meg if those are too old-fashioned. Don’t want to burden her with pairs of wee things she doesn’t need.) Maybe a pram cover, and …

I think we can all see where this is headed.  Totally crazy-knitting-grandma, unleashed.

Sigh.