With Gratitude

Every year when we’re done packing, and everything is on the trucks, and there’s nothing to do but have dinner, and a big sleep, and check my bike for a the hundredth time, I always get a little sappy.  I guess I’m tired, and a little worried about tomorrow (if by “worried” you understand I mean “terrified”) and I start thinking about everything that I’m about to do, and freaking out. This year, when that happens, I’ve been remembering something someone on the Steering Committee said to me a few days ago when we were all trying to get everything finished on time. They said that every time it all starts to be hard, they just imagine a client at PWA coming into the agency with a terrible problem – a problem that they don’t think is solvable by them, and heaving a huge sigh of relief as someone explains that they can help. Help them get meds, help them get food… just – help.  That’s what’s really happening here. People with AIDS getting help, when they need it, how they need it, from people who are going to treat them with dignity and respect. That’s why we’ve all done this, and that’s what your donations make possible.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. What we do – Team Knit, the training, the riding, the fundraising, the meetings… it doesn’t do anything to help without your part. You guys are our heros. So…

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This year, despite being one of the littlest teams on the Rally, our team is the top fundraising team for PWA.  (There’s another team chasing us, but for now we’re the Twisted Spinners, and we’re number one.) You guys are important. You guys are making big change.  You guys are touching all kinds of lives, and we know that you know that we love you, but I thought you might like to know that the staff at PWA loves you too.

Chris, Therapeutic Care Coordinator

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Roy, Food Programs Liaison

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Nick, Interim Holistic Engagement Coordinator and Kevin, Food Programs Coordinator

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Keith, Service Access Volunteer

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Stafford, Executive Assistant

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Richard, Director of Finance and Administration

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Suzanne, Director of Programs and Services

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Rajesh, Income and Community Liaison

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Heather, Food Program Coordinator

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Allan, who’s the Co-Chair for the ride, and actually took the time to make a sign with rhinestones on it, to show you how grateful he is…

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And, I’ve saved (what I think) is the best for last. Knitters, meet the people that make the Rally happen. Together with the Co-Chairs and the Steering Committee, these are the people who do the day to day work of getting this enormous fundraiser off the ground, and I’m pretty sure I have their phone numbers memorized.  Front: Trevor, PWA Special Events Coordinator; Riley, Bike Rally Assistant
Back: Hayden, Bike Rally Assistant; Mike, Director of Philanthropy & Communications

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It turns out that they like knitters a lot too – and one of them has a wicked set of photoshop skills.

That’s a lot of gratitude, my friends, and acknowledgement of something I’ve known for a while.  Knitters? They’re crazy, amazing and generous in a way that’s wonderfully hard to explain.  You’re makers. You make things, and this time, you’re making the world better, like you do every day.

We love you, and thank you.

(PS. Ken, Pato and I have all set our phones to ding – so feel free to cheer us on as you see fit. We leave at 9am tomorrow, and we’ll have the volume up. I’ll do my best to blog as I go, but if you don’t follow me on Instagram, and you’re interested in knowing what’s going on, now might be a good time to start. I’m sure I can manage pictures.)

PPS – Trish reminded me to add the links for our team, here you go!

Me

Ken

Pato

Ready, steady.

You know what? I think I have a grip on this.  I hate to say it, in case I remember something huge I’ve forgotten to do, but after a few days of dashing around, I think I’m almost ready – or at least packed, if that’s the same thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever really be ready for Sunday.  I get this huge nervous tummy thing going on every time I think about pushing off on my bike. You’d think that I’d be less nervous, what with having done it before and lived to tell the tale, but the experience almost makes it worse.  I know how hard it’s going to be.  Still, that experience pays off in other ways. This year (even though the forecast doesn’t call for rain) all my clothes are in ziplock bags, and they’re all labelled. If it does rain, this lady will have dry clothes to put on.  (I also will not be finding an earwig in my bathing suit, an experience I have yet to fully recover from.) I have my tent, and a tarp (even though it is not going to rain) and extra batteries for the flashlight, and camping dishes, and a sleeping bag, and biodegradable soap because I’ll be washing in the lake -  I think I’ve got this.

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Tonight I’ll have a bit of a knit, and then a really good sleep, and then tomorrow, bright and early, it’s “Packing Day”.  On packing day, we take all of our stuff to the staging spot, and make it all fit into two rubbermaid bins that will house all our worldly goods for the six days of the Rally.  They put the bins on the trucks, and there it all sits, until Sunday morning, when we’ll ride 105km to Port Hope, and the trucks will drive ahead with all our stuff. &^%#@#$ – Almost forgot my water shoes. Hold on….

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There. The shore is rocky at Port Hope – I’ll need those. (See, that’s experience paying off again – also, technically those are my sister’s water shoes, but I stole them years ago and she’s never asked for them back.)  The thing is that everything I put into my bins tomorrow morning, I won’t see again until Sunday night.  Many is the rider who’s put their housekeys in a bin, only to get home with a problem. Many is the rider who’s worn their shoes home, not putting them in a bin, only to have to ride 105km with sandals in their pockets.  It takes a fair bit of thought, and for me – part of the problem is the knitting.  I want to keep knitting what I’m knitting, and I don’t want to put it on the truck tomorrow, but I also don’t want to cycle to Port Hope with my knitting in my jersey pocket. Luckily, I have solved this problem.  Pato’s boyfriend Keanu is on road crew  again this year (another young man with his head on straight) and will be driving the route in a van keeping all of us safe, and I have pretty much decided he’ll be my mule.  I’ll only have to cycle to the departure point with my knitting, and then I can give it to Keanu, and he’ll give it back to me whenever I need it. (This, again, is the voice of experience. In years past I’ve kept my knitting in a little bag mounted to my top bar, but after stabbing myself in the stomach a few times when stopping suddenly, I’ve realized I need another system. The mule it is.)

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Now, I’m at the end of my day, and I’ve got a few things left to do, and I have a choice. I can do Karmic Balancing gifts – which will take a few hours, or I can make dinner, walk it down the street, and snuggle a new baby for a few hours before I go to bed.

I hope you all understand. The choice was a little easy.

What was that noise?

Yesterday went by in a big whoosh. I got up and poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat there drinking it while I pulled together all my to-do lists into one big master list. Camping stuff to pull together, get batteries for the flashlight, pick-up my bike, find an air mattress, hit the drugstore, get some groceries – finish a pair of socks… by 9:30 I was on a streetcar heading across the city, and I got home just in time to say yes to sailing with Joe. (I’ve missed a lot of sailing lately – and Joe loves it when I’m on the boat, so off I went.) It was a real rush of a day, the sort of day where you’re answering work and rally emails while standing in a queue at a co-op with a bottle of chain cleaner in your hand, and could likely only be called “resting” if you consider the absence of training rides “resting”, which at this point, I really do.  It was a dash, and today was no better, but at least just about every activity yesterday was something that combined well with knitting, and so, voila.

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Another pair of socks.  These ones are headed straight for the Christmas bin, which does little to fix the sense of panic about the contents of that box, but I’ve decided to panic about it after the rally.  I can only freak out about one thing at a time. These are knit from the leftovers of Myrie’s last sweater.  I loved the Mad Tosh Sock in Magnolia Leaf so much that I couldn’t stand to see it go to waste.

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The pattern is the much loved and oft-knit Monkey, and it’s as fast an easy a knit as it ever was. Check out the colours though, nifty, right? The yarn’s a hand dyed, and so I love when things like this happen.  The colour gradually shifted in the skein so that one sock is more green, the other more rosy.  So lovely.  Usually things that don’t match make me nuts, but there’s something so gradual about this that it makes me happy.

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Another pair of socks is on the needles, and I’ve spent most of my day running around again  (I forgot epsom salts and large ziplocks and duct tape, and I still have to set up the tent and make sure I can do it, and have all the parts) but I think I can take a few hours to do several more Karmic Balancing gifts. (There are a LOT more in my inbox, I’m doing as many as I can each day. Even if I have to do some when I get back, I’ll get to them all.  Thanks for all your donations, they make a really big difference in the lives of the people who will benefit from the money. You’re all heroic to me – and to them.)

First – yesterday I missed a link to the really clever Star Trek and Marvel Comic’s bags that Marissa sent – sorry Marissa! The link to her shop is here, if you were as besotted by them as I was.

From Randi, 6 x 50g (125 metre) skeins of Diamond Luxury Collection Mulberry Linen – 50% alpaca, 25% mulberry silk, 25% linen in a teal colour that she’ll be sending to Renee J.
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And then the same yarn and same amount in a gorgeous green for Kellie H. Thank you Randi!

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From Colleen, a few treasures from her stash. Dibadu Funnies Seda de Mar Fingering weight sock yarn 100 grams 70% silk 30% Lyocell that will be going to Emily M.

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And Miss Babs Mulberry Silk Lace weight yarn for Tracy HG.  Thanks Colleen!

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Sakthi went into her stash and came up with 2 skeins of Bonny by The Yarn Yard. It is a good sock / shawl yarn.Fingering weight. 75% Wool, 25% Nylon, 420 metres / 100 grams each for Judith F.

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1 skein of Oasis Grande by Skein Queen.  Fingering weight, 50% Silk, 50% Camel,400 metres / 100 grams for Rosanne T.

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Fiona went on a happy excursion into the stash, and she came up with five amazing presents. 5 skeins in various colours of Zealana Kiwi for Rose F.

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4 skeins of John Q Earthware in denim (4-ply/light sport) for Jess P.

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1 skein of Old Maiden Aunt sport (alpaca/silk) in Red, red rose for Leanne C.

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2 skeins of 4-ply Touch yarn for Bridgitte T.

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1 skein of 4-ply Touch yarn for Rosie G.

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2 skeins and a ball of Yarn Traders Annapurna recycled silk yarn for Jill S.

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From Cynthia, a big juicy 400 yard skein of Jacob, in the winner’s choice of natural colour.  These were sourced as fiber from Never Winter Farm, and found their way to a local/home grown mill where she lives in Georgia and transformed into this beautiful yarn that she hopes that Elyse G will love.

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From Joanna: two skeins of Brooks Farm Solo Silk. (Mercy, what a colour.)  She’ll be sending it off to Cristin D.

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From Cathy, a skein of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Esopus in the colourway Last Harvest (love this one too.)  She’ll be sending that to Jawon B.

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Jeanne, who sews for fun and not for profit, has a darling bag, and two skeins of String Theory Colorworks sock yarn, (one skein of Entanglement in the color Ion Propulsion, and one skein of Resonance in the color X-Ray) that she’ll be sending to Briana R, because they’re both good people.

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Christina, who apologizes because she’s a knitter, not a photographer, has three gifts. First is a lot of 4 balls of Crystal Palace Yarns Kid Merino in the colorway Code Pink for Michaela C.

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Next, a lot of 3 skeins of sock yarn- 1 ball of Lang JaWoll Aktion in variegated purples (with a spindle of matching reinforcement thread hidden inside) and 2 skeins of ZwergerGarn Opal- one blue green and one red-blue for Karen K.

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Finally, a lot of 3 cones of Habu stainless steel yarn. 1 cone of A-148 in dark grey and 2 cones of A-20 in white for Maureen L.

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Whew – I’ve emailed all the lucky knitters, so if you think this is you, check your inbox. It’s evening now, so I’m going to stop sitting at the computer, and go and start packing. See you tomorrow pets.

Resting with (Big) Plans

Thanks so much for the well wishes guys, and for the understanding about the challenging weekend. Things are looking up today. I feel cheerful, and sort of confident – at least when I remember that being a few days from departure always makes me sort of crampy. This morning I started packing my camping gear, and making a list of the bits and pieces that i need still, and I dropped my bike off for one more little tune-up to make sure it gets me to Montréal. The last thing I need is my bike working against me.  I’m making sure that thing runs like a bomb.

It’s great timing for my bike to go into the shop, because this week I’m doing something delightful called  a “taper”. Tapering is when you (I’m going to oversimplify here, to make things easy) essentially say “this is as strong as I’m going to get, now I need to be well rested” and you dramatically scale back training.  I’ll go for a few rides this week, a couple of hills, a little sprinting, but just enough to keep me loose (that makes me laugh – I am never “loose”) but not tired.  I’ll rest, stretch, I’ll go to yoga and walk, and eat good food and man, scaling back training is a happy time for me, because it means I scale UP the knitting, and boy, am I so ready.  Less knitting is one of the biggest sacrifices I make for the Rally, and I can promise you two things.

1. Despite the fact that everything I need for the Rally – my clothes for a week, my riding gear and all my camping gear needs to fit into two Rubbermaid bins – I have made room for ample yarn, because the MINUTE I land in Montreal, it’s going to be a knit -fest. Just as soon as I can move my hands. (Even with gloves, tape, and good positioning, 6hrs a day of road vibration coming through the bike tends to make my hands numb. It’s a cycling thing. It goes away.)

2. August is going to be KNIT-O-RAMA.  I am going to knit the daylights out of August. Do you know what my plans are for August? I’m going to sleep, knit, and try to get invited to cottages. That’s my whole thing. I’ve held on so long. I can stand it no longer.

(By the way, I’ve had not just one, but two events cancel for September, so if anybody is looking for a knitting teacher that month, I’m open to ideas. Shoot me an email.)

In the meantime, I am knitting.  I have made a hat. It started as Merino Twist Worsted, from Sweet Fiber:

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and ended up, really quickly, as the Bridgeway hat.  (Really fast. Like, lightning.) The world’s top knitwear model didn’t come home for dinner tonight, so the hat is here modelled on a fence post:

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and then amongst the astilbe.  From here it’s straight to the Christmas box, which is looking very, very lean for July.  (Note to self, fix that in August.)

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After that, I applied myself to a pair of socks, and these ones are for me. I’ve been working on them at every steering committee meeting for the last several months, and they’re Miss Babs sock yarn, in the completely appropriate colourway “biker chick“.  I’m packing them. If things get cold on the rally, these bad boys are on my feet, keeping me warm, and reminding me of all the days I’ve put into getting here.

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While I turn my attention to another pair of socks (and the Christmas box) shall we do more Karmic Balancing gifts? I think so.

Darlene has a beautiful and unique gift. She’s knit this incredible scarf (The Lily of the Valley scarf from Knitted Lace of Estonia) out of Zephyr laceweight (50/50 silk and merino) and embellished it with Swarovski crystals. Darlene says “I knit one border and put it aside, then cast on again to knit another border and knit the scarf. Then, I kitchenered that single border (hundreds of stitches!) to the knitted scarf so that each border would point the correct direction on its end of the scarf…. I am so darned proud of the finished garment and delighted to share it.”
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Darlene would love to send this beautiful shawl to a Canadian Hospice Volunteer.  If that’s you, drop me a line or a comment, and I’ll write to you and Darlene to make it happen.

Julie Rosvall (Shipston Designs) has five sets of her beautiful knitting cards to give away. She knits a swatch, then etches that to copper plates, inks it, and prints it. Beautiful, aren’t they?  Susan D, Catherine S, EM, Mary M, and Anita F should enjoy them so much.

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Meg is feeling generous, she’s got a skein of Wollmeise 100% Pure Merino Sock yarn, in “Meilenstein” for Diana K.

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A Wollmeise 100% Merino Lace, in “Vamp – We’re Different” for Janis M.

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And from her very own shop –  Ladybug Fiber Company, 80% Superwash merino/20% nylon sock yarn, 400 yards, self striping in “Ladybug” for Sarah G.

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Michele at Three Bags Full has the most darling little Emma Clutch going out to Leigh D.  The bike theme is perfect.

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Melissa went for a stash dive and came up with a gift.  Two beautiful skeins of  Dragonfly Traveller in “Stone Circle”  that she’ll be sending to Sheila P.

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Maria found two presents in her stash, Three Irish Girls, cotton rayon sport. 4oz, 330 yds
Colorway: Charmed I’m Sure, for Paula B.,

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and not one, but two skeins  of Mendocino  89% superwash merino wool/20% nylon
97 yds, 50 g for Meaghan W. Thank you Maria!
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Marissa has two super-charming bags from her Etsy shop to give away. The first is a Marvel Comics bag for Linda S,

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and the second is a Star Trek themed bag for Clairone D. I know that if they’re not dorky enough to love those bags, they won’t have to look far to find a friend. Dorky knitters are everywhere. (Raises hand.)

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Here’s three for the spinners in the crowd, courtesy of the very generous Susan H. She’s sending along some beautiful things.  First, Falkland top from the Spirit Trail Fiberworks club for Jessie M,

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Second, another Spirit Trail club fiber. 4 ounces of 60%superwash merino, 20% Yak, 20% bombyx silk for JoAnna S,
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Third (oh wow) a 4 ounce bag of light brown Yak down that will be winging it’s way to live with Cindy W.

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Karen Robinson has a lovely gift, not only her beautiful pattern, Blanchefleur, but the yarn to make it.  Two skeins of Round Table Yarns Camelot, in Glastonbury and Excalibur that she’ll be sending to Jane V.

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Alexis sent a letter, and let me tell you, I like her style.  Not only did she include a charming picture of herself and her kids so that the email would be less anonymous, she’s sent along offers of what she calls “Extravaganzas!” One is a “sock extravaganza” and I hope that Lissy F knits lots of socks, and has lots of sock knitting friends to pay it forward to.  In this lot is: Essential (the line now called Stroll): Peacock Multi (2 50-g balls) and Princess Multi (2 50-g balls) Stroll: Blue Violet Multi (2 50-g balls), Pansy Multi (2 50-g balls), and Make Believe Hand-Painted (1 100-g skein) Felici: Martinique (2 50-g balls) Gloss: Winter Night (2 50-g skeins)

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Alexis has also included a “Lace Knitting extravaganza” and I think that Barbara P will be thrilled! This lot includes: Baby Loop in red (light sport mohair boucle with nylon binder, 970 yd, 8 oz) Ariel in Foxy Lady (65% cotton, 35% rayon novelty blend, 475 yd, 8 oz)
Cascade Fingering in Spring Frost (100% silk, 666 yd, 150 g)
Glitter Alpaca in Java (99% fingering weight alpaca, 1% glitter), 4 50-g (214-yd) skeins
KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud in Papaya, 2 50-g (440 yd) skeins
Unidentified yellow with shades of peach, looks mohair-y, healthy-sized skein from Joslyn’s Fiber Farm, Unidentified pale turquoise, looks wooly, 2-ply, 2 decent-sized skeins from Joslyn’s Fiber Farm

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Enjoy! See you tomorrow with more gifts. The list is almost bottomless. I’m knitting socks.

Challenged

This last weekend was a challenge.  I’m trying to call it that – instead of a crapfest, because I think a good attitude is important and really, it was more challenging than anything and I really think it helps to frame it that way – and darn it, that’s what I’ll be doing. There were two rides this weekend, both in a kind of heat that makes everybody smart nervous about long exertion in the sun. (Now before anybody goes off and says that us Canadians don’t know from heat, with the humidity it was about 40 degrees, which is 104 in Fahrenheit. I think even the Texans will say that’s pretty hot.)  The training ride was 100km long, and it was hard.  It was mostly hard because of the heat and the distance, but it was also hard because I was riding with Ken and Pato.

Now, they’re both lovely men.  Wonderful men, in fact, as you can probably tell by the fact that they’re out in searing heat training for a ride for Charity… but they are probably not people I should be out riding with – although they are very kind to stay with me.  Ken is in the best shape he’s ever been, having recently trained the snot out of himself for the ALC ride, and Pato… Pato is a 24 year old man in the prime of his life. A semi-dumpy 47 year old woman shouldn’t be riding anywhere near them – which is what I did, and it only took a few hours before the horrific realization that I’m a terrible cyclist came over me like a wave.

Now, this idea, that I’m a terrible cyclist, is completely and totally inaccurate. As long as you compare apples to apples, then I’m actually a pretty good cyclist, and if you compare me to me… I’m getting better all the time. I’m a lot stronger and faster than I was when I started this a few years ago, and I haven’t fallen off my bike in a good long time.  When I ride with Jen, I feel like the wind. When I ride with Jen, and we head up a hill, at the top we practically leap off our bikes and high five each other for how amazing we are – or we would, if we were not gasping for the very air we need to live.  We high five in our hearts.

When I ride with the guys though, Ken is so patient, and so kind, and at the top of the hills I ride along, pouring sweat and waiting for my thighs to stop burning and my heart to stop pounding and I’ll look at Ken, and he won’t even be sweating. Not so much as a glisten. On Saturday he said something like “After the ALC ride I don’t really even register these as hills” and of course he’s earned feeling like that. He trained so hard, and he totally and completely deserves the shape he’s in, and I still wanted, for just one tiny second, to push him off his bike. Just give him a little nudge, and watch him land on the grass by the side of the road.

Pato? He’s 24. He’s so strong that it isn’t fair – he’s faster than me without even trying.  (I’ve been experimenting with the hashtag #downwithyouth) He ghosts up the hills like nothing, and sometimes is so far ahead of me that he’ll pull over and while he waits for me to catch up, he’ll text people, because, you know. He has time.

Riding with them is hard. Like I said, they are the very nicest men on the earth, and would never say or do anything to make me feel lessor, or like I’m not awesome, but it all happens in my head, where I have so little control.  I make myself feel bad with how amazing they are, and how I don’t measure up. This is always made worse by the heat, or the cold, or not feeling well, or something hurting, the little things that put a little layer of suffering on top, and weaken your resistance to the voices in your head that aren’t always on your side.  This is where I was this weekend, and it was made worse by knowing something before you knew it.

By this morning, everyone who sponsored Jen has gotten a letter from her explaining what all of Team Knit had sort of figured out, but didn’t want to face. Jen isn’t going to be able to do the Rally.   Jen’s gutted,  we all are. The loss of a riding and camping partner in crime has me feeling lonely and lost, and a little worried, but I’m proud of her too. I’m so proud. It takes a lot of guts to stand up, when you’re this committed to a cause, and in this deep,  and say that you’re sorry, but you’ve misjudged what your family needs and there’s something more important right now – and that’s what Jen’s done.  She’ll be spending the week of the rally with her children, and I know that’s where she really needs to be, or she’d be on her bike for sure. I trust her.

Me? All my thoughts this weekend were selfish. How would I manage? How would I cope? Who would I ride with? Who was going to help me set up the tent? I felt per-emptively lonely, before I had even been left.  For the most part, I kept it inside, watching Ken fly up hills while I trudged up after him, following Pato on the flats, and watching him make it look easy while my legs begged me for mercy and I tried to keep up.  I went to bed early both nights, wallowing in a little self-pity.  Today, I’m better.

Today I remembered what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and who it matters to that I get it done.  I’m pulling the tent out of the basement, and making sure I can set it up without Jen. I’m checking to make sure that all my stuff will fit in just my bins, and I am going to actively start seeking ways to be happy on my bike without Jen, which is going to be very, very hard, because frankly, she’s so awesome that over the years she’s become the number one thing that gets me through the ride.  I know she knows this, and I owe it to her not to let this get me down.  I told her I could cope, and I will. I’m going to figure it out, and make my own sunshine for this thing, along with Ken and Pato. Game on Bike Rally.  We’re rolling out of here on Sunday, and I can do this.

To that end, you know what really makes me feel better? Fundraising. It’s the whole reason that I’m in this thing, and I’m so grateful to the way that you make it amazing. (That’s idea number one, for starters- every time I get a little down about it, I’m going to think of the good that you guys are doing. Real people are going to have really better lives because of you, and all I have to do is ride my bike? Dudes. Okay.)  I’m going to do a lot of Karmic Balancing gifts this week, just to keep things moving, and to try and get them all done by Friday. (There is still, um… a lot. If you’re still in the queue, trust me, I see you there, and I’ll get to you.)

If you’re super late to the party, here’s how it works. Team Knit is going to ride their bikes from Toronto to Montreal  -more than 600kms, and anybody who helps make that worthwhile for the People with Aids Foundation is cool with us. There’s lots of ways to help. You can donate to one of the people on the team:

Me

Ken

Pato

or you can tweet, instagram, tell a friend, send an email, talk to someone in the grocery store, anything you can think of to spread the word, that all counts as help.  Once you’ve helped, in your own way, you can send an email to me at StephanieATyarnharlotDOTca (note the .ca, not .com. It’s Canada, yo) with the subject line “I helped” and include your name and address, and if you’re a spinner, and that’s it. You’re in the pile for Karmic Balancing gifts.  I’ll pull names randomly until they’re all gone, which, I think I mentioned is going to take a while because knitters are ridiculously generous, which is something that should make us all feel like a million dollars.

First, Joyce would like to give away 5 copies of her beautiful shawl pattern, Fleur de Mariage.  It’s a really gorgeous thing that can be worked as either a half or full circle, which is frankly, pretty darned neat. I hope that Jess S,  Nicole H, Lynn J, Sierra B and Sherry R all enjoy it.

fleurdemariage 2015-07-20

Anne Blayney has been good enough to contribute five copies of her pattern Brightness and Contrast.  

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(Love this one as a way to tame wilder yarns – and she’ll be sending those along to Maria V, Jennifer C, Samantha N, Barbara S and Michelle S.

Finally, last, but never least, good friend of the show, Teddy, is doing a little stash tidying to make sure her karma stays high (I don’t know how it could ever be low) and fourteen of you are going to be the lucky recipients of that.

1. Cat Bordhi New Pathways for Sock Knitters, 100 gm/448 m King Cole sock yarn from UK, color blue/purple variegated – for Jaclyn A.

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2. Ann Budd Getting Started Knitting Socks, 100 gm/420 m Serenity Sock Yarn, color chili for Jane N.

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3. Melissa Matthay Little Box of Scarves II, 100 gm/500 m Alize Angora Gold yarn from Turkey, color gold/orange/cream for Leslie C.

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4. Lizbeth Upitis Latvian Mittens, 100 gm/220 m Fortissima Sock yarn from Germany, color plum, 100 gm/260 yds Knit Picks Essential, color green/purple variegated for Christine R.

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5. Maggie Righetti Sweater Design in Plain English, 200 gm/500 m Magic Garden children’s yarn from NZ, color black with rainbow flecks for Cheryl B.

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6. Cat Bordhi Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters, autographed, 100 gm/425 m Opal sock yarn Herbstmelodie, color Roy G. Biv for Peg L.

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7. Lynn Vogel Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, 4 oz/420 yds Cherry Tree Hill superwash merino, color Monet for Kate D.

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8. 140 gm/300 m Lion Brand Wool-Ease from Turkey, color variegated rust and brown, 100 gm/300 m Patons Kroy Jacquards from Canada, color lavender and gray for Julia C.

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9. Melanie Falick Weekend Knitting, 100 gm/250 m 100% linen Flax, color Turquoise for Amie P.

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10. Kris Percival Knitting Pretty 30 Fabulous Projects, 4 oz 450 yds Dream in color Smooshy, color Ruby River for Judy H.

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11. Laura Irwin Boutique Knits Must Have Accessories, Yarn from our wonderful Northwest local dyer, Myra Hanson: 4 oz/250 yds Fancy Image Hand Dyed Merino, color orange/cream painted, 4 oz/250 yds Fancy Image Hand Dyed Merino color tan/brown/cream painted for Hester S.

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12. Handmade small note book, 100 gm/350 yds Claudia hand painted yarn from Italy, color purple/green for Diana C.

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13. 50 gm/114 m Patons classic wool DK superwash from Turkey, color seagreen heather, 50 gm/114 m Patons classic wool DK superwash from Turkey, color claret, 141 gm/233 m Red heart worsted acrylic, color artist print for Ann M.

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14. 200 gm/240 m Lana 100% wool from Greece, color teal, Yarn from our wonderful Northwest local dyer, Myra Hanson: 4 oz/250 yds Fancy Image Hand Dyed Merino, color Seahawks for Lorraine M.

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Whew! See you tomorrow with more.  Also, I knit a hat, and some socks. I’ll show you that tomorrow too.

Dear Frankie

Dear Frankie,

As I mentioned to you when we met, I am your Tia Effie. I’m the one who keeps taking your clothes off.  (That lady who keeps putting them back on is your Auntie Kelly.)  I don’t know if you’ve figured this out yet, but you are a second child. Your brother is that small, loud thing that moves fast and keeps kissing you on the head.

frankieblankie 2015-07-16

This thing, being a second child, means that by now, even though you are only a few days old, everyone has already compared you to your brother a thousand times.  We’ve talked about how you look like him, how your lips are like his, how you’re quiet like he was, and like to sleep like he did…  You’re going to hear a lot of that.  From now on, the comparisons to him will be pervasive, and perpetual.  You won’t just learn to walk the day that you do – you will learn to walk sooner, or later than Luis. You won’t just learn to talk, you’ll talk sooner or better or later or with more ferocity that your brother (as hard as that is to imagine) and we will all make those comparisons between the two of you pretty much every day for the rest of your life.

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Your brother Luis, he has the magic of the first child. He is your trendsetter, the guy setting the standard against which we’ll all helplessly juxtapose you. I’m a first child myself, so I can tell you that as much as this is probably going to bug you, you can keep in mind that being the first child has its downside. He’s had to break your parents in, going first, training them up. Trust me, they’re way better at this parenting stuff now thanks to him.  You aren’t going to have to deal with rookies.  He is the first child, your big brother, the guy who turned your parents into a family,  and he’s going to have that over you from now on.

blankie2 2015-07-16

If you ever get to wondering if you are less remarkable than him, my sweet wee man, let me tell you now what magic you hold.  It is important, special love-magic, and nobody else in this family could have worked this spell but you.  You are a second child, that means that when we learned you were coming, we all worried about the same thing. (This is something nobody talks about, quite wisely, but you will soon learn that your Tia Effie talks about all kinds of things that I’m not supposed to. It’s part of my charm, along with a good ability to talk your parents into letting you do stuff. You’ll love it later.)  We all looked at your brother, we all felt the enormous love we have for him, and then we thought about you, and we wondered, sweet magic boy, if there was room for you. Our love for him was so remarkable… could we love you as much we love him?

blankie3 2015-07-16

Here is your magic. Last week, when you arrived earthside, with your own special face, your own unique self, each of us took you in our arms and one by one, each and every one of us knew a thing instantly. Those of us who have more than one child remembered it  in one second,  but your parents, new to the alchemy and special magic of a second child, learned it in one overwhelming, incredible, spectacular moment.

katiecarlosfrankieblankie 2015-07-16

You are a multiplier. You are amazing.  Our love isn’t divided when the second child arrives. There is no finite, counted measure of love. We don’t take the love we have and divide it amongst our darlings, with each added human getting a smaller chunk. Your magic is to remind us that love is expansive and infinite. We couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much as Luis, and then there you were, and you took a breath, and reached out a wee hand, and the family collectively gasped as every part of us capable of love was made bigger, and stronger, and loved you as much as anything, ever.  You are that remarkable magic, and you are that special, and that is every bit as amazing as being first.

katiefrankieblankie 2015-07-16

Like for your brother, and for your cousins, and for Hank, and for all the new people I love,  I knit you a blanket. Just like theirs and now yours, this blanket is as unique as you are.  The middle part is an old Spanish lace pattern, to honour the Spanish part you get from your Father.  In the border is snowflakes, for the Canadian half that is your mum. (You’ll learn about winter later, my summer boy.  It’s coming.  I’ll make you a sweater.)  I also chose trinity stitch, and then diamonds, for the incredible thing that you’ve done, turning a little knotted family of three into a sparkling, whole, four sided structure.

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You are like your brother Luis, and you are like your mum, and your dad, and so many people who come before you, and you are also fantastically, wonderfully, yourself. Do not doubt it.

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We love you, and welcome, and don’t worry. It’s a big family. There are more than enough people to hold you and Luis both.  You are second child magic, and we are all so grateful you are here.

Love,

Tia Effie

(PS. That’s what Lou calls me, but you can choose what you want. Stephanie is a hard name to say.)

Blankie Status: 7

Blanket: FINISHED.

Katie: Not pregnant any longer, but I think we can agree that having your baby 3 weeks early is a curve ball no knitter could have managed to hit.

Number of stitches on the needle: NONE

Number of skeins remaining: A big fat Zero.

Number of skeins used: All ten.  The eight I thought I would use, the two insurance skeins, and yes.  I ran out.  I fell short just two metres from the end, and broke down and used  two metres from the skeins that weren’t the same dye lot.  It ended up being just a few rows, and in the grand scheme of the enormity of this blankie, it doesn’t matter a whit.  I’d dare anyone to find those few stitches that aren’t absolutely perfect – I can find them, of course, but I have insider information about where they are, and there’s no way I’ll be pointing them out to anyone, never mind a six day old baby.  He’ll figure out soon enough that his Auntie is imperfect, and this will all make sense.  Life is imperfect, and so this is an appropriate beginning.

blanketbed 2015-07-15

Last night when I finally finished the knitting, I pulled out the provisional cast on I began the edging with, and grafted the two live sets together. The blanket is now seamless, which is highly unrepresentative of life in general, but, well – not everything is a metaphor.  I gave it a wash, and laid it out to dry, patting everything into place, making the lines straight, and generally admiring the thing.  This blankie has been on the needles since the end of May, and I admit that with it done, I felt a little empty.  I wasn’t sure what I’m supposed to knit now. I’ve got a pair of socks on the needles (like always) and I picked up those out of reflex, but there is no “big” project happening, and I didn’t quite know what to do about that.   I worked on the socks to take the edge off.

Today I’m still feeling “vague” in the knitting department, like I have an epic project hangover, so I’m going to knit a hat. It should be just the thing – a project that can be completed in hours instead of months? Yes please.

Tomorrow, a certain small gentleman will be swathed in (more) wool.

Life, properly interrupted

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blankie update to bring you an update of a much less boring sort. Katie and Carlos’ second son arrived last week, just about three weeks early, but perfect, tiny and delightful.  I did the only appropriate thing, and dropped everything – including the blog.

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He is itty- bitty and healthy, and all you could ask for in a nephew, and he and his family are in the process of being properly, wonderfully and delightedly adored, on all fronts. There is not a person in this family that can wipe the smile off their faces.

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More about him later, so very much more, but in the meantime, a few pictures of the wonderfulness that is this wee lad. (I know you’ll ask, and yes, Luis adores him, although he did tell me the other evening that a big fire truck is coming, and when it gets here, it will take the baby to his home.)

loufranke 2015-07-13

I hope you can excuse me while I spend any spare moments I have celebrating this arrival.  He’ll only be little for a little while – and as much as I think you’re all nifty,

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you can’t hold a candle to this.

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*PS.  I took a few minutes to finish the sweater I knit for him a little while ago.  It only needed the monogram, and I added that the other evening, and took it over today.

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F.  F is for Frank – or Frankie, as he’s very rapidly become.

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It will be a while before it fits.