May 24, 2013
There is something about the way that I am put together. something hidden on my genome somewhere, some experience or virus or something, some little mysterious part that takes who I am, and everything I believe and how I want to be seen by others, and smashes it into a million pieces whenever I see baby booties.
Let's be clear. I am not a baby-talker. I don't use baby words or cutesie stuff, even with the tiniest of humans. Babies do not have "itty-bittie-nosies" or "bummie wummies". I'm not judging baby talk, and you can do if if you want to, but I've got me a whole boatload of witnesses who can verify that I speak to babies straight up, telling them the way things are. I have been known, frequently, to pick up a crying baby and simply ask them to stop. I rock, sway, bounce and comfort them all the while saying things like "Hey, hey. All this yelling is not nice. I'm right here, and I'm listening. There's no need to get rude." It works for me. (Actually, it doesn't just work for me. I have a great track record on the baby communication scale. They dig me.)
The point is that there's no explanation for what happens to me when I get around booties. They're like kryptonite to me. I see them and I literally have to bite my tongue not to say "teensie weensie widdle shoosies! To go on widdle ba ba feetsies!"
Sometimes I even have the urge to stick my fingers into them and walk them around. (Sometimes, I am not able to overcome this urge.)
It's not a good look man. Not a good look. It's like having an out of body experience. I hear myself doing it. I am disgusted by myself, and I am helpless to stop. These booties were particularly bad. First, they are very little. They are newborn sized, and to make matters worse, they are fuzzy. They are not as fuzzy as I wanted, which is probably the only thing that kept me from stroking out from the colossal level of cute they're packing. I used my Cutest Bootie pattern, modified for fewer stitches, on account of my thicker handspun. I love them to death, but I am going to try for a do-over. I want them fuzzier. I'm going to keep treating these bootees like swatches for the sweater I'm thinking of. When I get a pair that I'm happy with, I'll make more of that yarn and finish the set. I am going to do this mostly alone, so that there are no witnesses for the spasm of helpless baby-talking they seem to bring on.
I am sad to report however, that it would appear that this flaw is genetic. As Sam arrived home from school, she espied the booties on the table, grabbed them up with two hands, got an expression of delight on her face that I know oh, oh too well, and then proclaimed "Oh! They are so WIDDLE!" Then I saw the shock come over her as she realized what she had said. I looked away. The worst part is knowing that there's no way to help her. This appears to be a lifetime condition, with no hope for recovery.
PS: I wanted to tell everybody about this great event in Conifer, Colorado, at the Knit Knook. I'll be there June 22-23. First for a talk that has lots of room, and then for a silk class (my favourite one to teach, it's so much fun) and then for a sock class in the afternoon. I hope I see you there. I don't get out that way often, so I'm pretty excited.
PPS: I know that I said I was probably giving away Karmic Balancing gifts today, but I can also see from my inbox that some of you haven't responded to the email that explained how to enter. I don't want anyone left out, so go check your mail! I've rescheduled for Monday, just to give you a little more time. If you're still thinking about donating, you're a peach. I'll send the thank you/how to enter email tomorrow night, and Sunday night, to cover anyone who feels the urge to donate over the weekend. Thanks so much knitters. You're amazing.
May 23, 2013
The blasted elves still haven't shown up here. Not a single sign of them, but with my wool as my witness, progress was made here yesterday, and the humans in my immediate vicinity (the ones who count on me to knit and spin in order not to have to live with a vengeful lunatic who can't relax) are grateful for it. I did enough carding yesterday to have myself twelve pretty little rolags of angora/cvm (actually, that's technically wrong, it's more CVM than angora) and I made time last night to spin it up.
I washed the soft and pretty yarn last night and hung it up to dry, and this morning I put it out in the backyard to finish drying in the sunshine while Jen and I went for our training ride.
Arriving home, it was dry and pretty, but not nearly as fuzzy as I was hoping the angora would make it. I want it to look like a little cloud, like a fog settled on the yarn, with a beautiful halo standing out from it.
It's not there yet. It's a lovely yarn, and so soft you would mistake it for the soft brand new cheek of a baby, but it's not the cloud I imagined - not just yet. Still, it's a lovely, lovely thing, and sometimes yarns with angora "bloom" after you knit and wash them, especially if you're a little rough with the washing, so I decided to give into the urge and make them into a pair of Cutest Bootees.
Aren't they sweet? Aren't they going to be soft and lovely, and perfect for... oh, wait, something the size of a horse. THEY'RE HUGE. That pattern is written for fingering weight, and this yarn is a little thicker than that, and that makes these big enough for a walking baby, and walking plus angora bootees = DEATHTRAP. Anybody walking in these would be skating in no time, and so they are no more. I've ripped them back, started with bigger needles (they were a little dense, like me) and way fewer stitches.
Tomorrow, there will be smaller sweetness. Two steps forward, one back.
May 22, 2013
A Whole lot of Nothing and Something
I went to blog yesterday, and thought something along the lines of "Holy sheep, I have nothing knitty to show you" and then realized that this is life, and no - I'm not making enormous progress on the fibre front, and that if the emails and comments I've gotten from you guys over the years where you wonder how I pound out as much knitting as I do are any guide, you will be relieved to hear this:
I am sucking large in the yarn department.
You know how I was going to be done a sweater by now?
Nope. Front is done, back is done, a sleeve is decently started, but that's not a sweater, and the hotter it gets in Toronto the more ridiculous a warm sweater seems anyway. (This is a blessed and miraculous effect of the Canadian summer. They are so glorious and amazing (and short, but let's not discuss) that in the beginning of one you are so filled with the joy of it all that winter seems like it has been banished forever. Winter? What winter? Leap high, oh hearts- for I will NEVER BE COLD AGAIN.) I'm still plugging along though. The pattern (Afterlight) and the yarn (Ultra MCN Sock from indigodragonfly) is too nice to not keep near me, even if I only have a few minutes here and there.
My big plan for the angora/cvm blend is... well, it's still a big plan, even though there's very little done. The fleece is (mostly) washed, and a little experiment with the handcards has yielded a very pretty little puff of fibre.
I can see now that it's going to work - assuming that elves show up tonight and card it all together, and maybe make a bit of a dent in the spinning too. (Those elves are slackers. I've left the fibre and hand cards out four evenings in a row. Every morning is disappointing.)
I'd be crushed at my own lack of progress, but lots of other nice things are happening, not the least of which is that I'm coaching my Mother-in-law though a little sweater, I feel a bootie rampage coming on (the symptoms are unmistakable) my tiny garden is (mostly) in, and you guys totally blew my mind with your generosity to my Bike Rally ride. To try and deserve your support, most of my knitting time went to training this last weekend. Jen and I rode 40km on Friday, 72km on Saturday, and I rode 86km on Victoria Day. (That was Monday, for those of you outside Canada.) Tip of the hat to Jen, who rode to meet up with me, putting her total for that day over 100km. That's a lot of riding, and as yet, we can't knit while we ride. I think both of us might be feeling the pain of missing knitting time more than the pain in our arses. (This is not a minor statement. Without being undignified, lets just say there are unavoidable consequences to hours and hours in the saddle. Riders, don't say chamois butter. We are awash in it.)
This means that I have two goals for tonight. Knit, card and spin enough that I no longer feel like I'm five minutes away from being a danger to society, and start getting ready to give out Karmic Balancing gifts for those of you who were so moved as to give to anyone on our little team. (Me, Jen, Ken or Pato. We're in it together.) We'll be sending out little thank you emails (please watch for them) with directions on how to toss your name into our virtual (hand-knit) hat. Thanks too, for the amazing gifts being offered up by the community. (If you were wondering how to contribute, please send an email to me and we can talk about it. stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca.) I'm going to aim for the first group give-away on Friday - assuming that I'm not deep in a bootie knitting thing.
(I did mention I feel that sort of coming on, didn't I?)
Wish me luck. I'm going into the knitting cave, and I'm not coming out until there's progress.
May 17, 2013
Make it, don't fake it
I've been waiting all week to feel happier. To feel reconciled to recent events, to create a fragile peace and you know what? I suck at it. I'm as good at this as cacti are at cuddling and somewhere in the gentle "let's just wait and see, I am a rock in the river, events just flow over me" phase, I'm rabid.
I've spent a whole week of my little life waiting for things to get nicer and darn it, they're not, so I'm going to make them nicer. If some things have to be a crap heap, well... I've always said that the universe seeks balance, and by wool, I'm going to start balancing it. I don't expect that much can equal this dose of hurt, but I'm taking a swing at it. I can think, right now, of three things that can make me feel better.
1. Someone in my family is coming to the end of their life - but you know what? There's a new baby coming, and as much as I'll miss the one, I'll welcome the other, and it would not be right to let sadness sweep all my joy. Joe's brother Chris and his bride Robyn are expecting a baby, and in the name of all my knitting needles, it shall be clad. The wee grey sweater is already in the hope chest, and I think it's time to order wool for a blanket. Or a sweater. Or five sweaters.
And a hat.
2. There is a fleece in my kitchen. A beautiful little CVM that a friend gave me a while ago, and I have been washing it lock by lock. I do a load of dishes, wash a lock. Mop the counter, wash a lock. It's only been a few days, but I'm making my way though it, and it's a wonderful reminder of the incremental nature of all things, and how not all trouble needs to be made right in this minute. Anything that seems too big or hard? I can just do it a little at a time.
I'm totally going to have it washed by Monday. Maybe it will be a sweater. See #1.
3. I know I haven't mentioned it much, mostly because Sam broke her arm and I was so bummed not to have my buddy with me, but it's almost Bike Rally time. It was super hard to decide to do it again. You'd think that after managing something like that once, it would be easy to decide to take it on again. I did it once - I can do it again... right?
Instead I find myself properly afraid, in the way that only someone who has done it once before can be. Last year I approached the 660 km that is the Bike Rally with ignorance. I trained, I was afraid. I fell down TWELVE times, but I made it happen, and the whole thing was only possible through the magic of having no bloody idea what I was in for. Now that I know, sometimes I'm a little weepy. There's knowing what it is, and that I'm up against that, and I know too that while Ken and Pato will be on the ride this year, the girls can't be there, and that would make me even more concerned except for this:
My friend Jen. Jen is doing the rally with me. We are knitters. There's a few other knitters on the ride (Hi Ken. Hi Pato.) but really, Jen and I are exceptional on the ride for a reason that I'm just going to come out straight out and own.
We are dumpy, middle-aged straight mums. You have no idea how not cool this makes us. This makes us so not cool that sometimes, when we realize that 90% of the Rally is male and Jen and I are still the ones who have the most body hair? We need about 8 more cups of coffee to get through it.
To be frank, this is why we need you. We've looked around. We've seen the writing on the wall. The rest of the rally (mostly) they're FABULOUS. They're immaculately groomed, they haven't had a fight with any teenager who can't see the future, and hardly anyone ever pukes on them on a regular Tuesday. They have beautiful, amazing, ultra-light carbon fiber bikes and (I really can't stress the impact of this enough) THEY LOOK GREAT IN SPANDEX.
Jen and I? Well. Between us we have five kids, we have the best bikes you can afford if you're also trying to save up for a new dishwasher, and we have had more than one conversation about how to get cloth diapers really white. (Sunshine and vinegar.) We think other riders shouldn't go so fast down the hills because they could really get hurt, and we are concerned that they might be hungry. When we see ourselves in spandex, we have to make up comforting lies. We, and I think this is totally safe to guarantee, we are the only ones bringing knitting on the Rally, just for comfort. We are your dork team, and we have been practicing.
For a few weeks now, Jen and I have been going on training rides. Jen lives in the East end, and me in the West, so she rides to my house and has a coffee, and then I ride to her house (and we have coffee) and then I ride home. It's 40K each time for both of us, which has been enough up until now, but tomorrow marks the first time that we'll seriously bust a move, at our first 70k training ride. We're both giving up a day of our long weekend and a big chunk of a summer to try and make a little more awesome in the world, and here's the thing.
If you were out riding with me and Jen, you would see that awesome is only the way you can describe our riding if you are speaking in a spiritual sense. We're slow. We're really trying, but we're two mums who are not taller than 10' if you add us together, and those stumpy legs? Let's just say it makes you want to knock anyone taller than 5'10" off a bike out of sheer venom. Especially when they pass us and say encouraging things. We're limited in our resources - we don't own fast bikes, there's only so much coffee we can drink, and we can't train hours and hours a week or we won't be earning a living or be in families that are not resentful and dirty. Willpower is going to have to substitute for skill when it comes to us. In fact, I think we've both realized there's only one way that we could be awesome, and that's in the fundraising department.
Last year, when - thanks to you, our little family did so well in the fundraising area, someone said that it was wonderful that I cared so much about HIV/AIDS and the gay community. I just about fell over. I know that most of this work is spearheaded by that community, and heaven knows I love them as much as I do any part of humanity, but really, that's not why I'm there.
And this is why Jen is:
Five perfect daughters between us, and globally, women comprise 50% of the people living with HIV. Worldwide, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in women in their reproductive years.
As mums, we just can't truck with that, so Jen and I are going to put our dorky, dumpy, knitting, middle-aged, haven't-been-dancing-in-years-but- are-pretty-good-at-stains and-earning-a-living selves on two pretty cheap bikes and fling ourselves from Toronto to Montreal. We will not be fast. We might fall down. (So far this year I'm fine, but Jen took a tumble that cost her a helmet.) We will hopefully not be last, but the odds aren't good.
We hope you will help us be awesome. If you want. No pressure. (Karmic balancing gifts and giveaways start next week, not that you would do it for that reason, but it's still nice. Right?)
If you would like to donate to me.
If you would like to donate to Jen.
If you would like to donate to Ken (who is less dorky, but still awesome.)
If you would like to donate to Pato (who is not at all dorky, but is young and smart.)
Thanks. Now I feel better. Things might be hard, but there's still lots of ways for things to be okay. I'm going to go knit something.