Last night our local Harlot wandered down to the Air Canada Centre with her mate and 16 000 other people and knit her way through a game of Canada's National Sport...Lacrosse. (Toronto vs Philadelphia...we won)
Your local harlot is not sporty. The only sport that she does is knitting, she plays by her own rules and takes her own risks. All attempts by this harlot to play sports have ended in disaster. She cannot catch a ball (no baseball) cannot skate quickly, backwards or with enthusiasm (no hockey) and thinks football is silly (which pretty much puts football right out too). Last night we learned that lacrosse is also not going to be her forte, since she cannot be beaten to death by men with sticks.
Lacrosse precedes hockey, and if you have an idea of how hockey works you are going to be ok with lacrosse. They run instead of skate, and don't touch the ball with their hands, but instead use a stick with a net on the end to shoot and catch. The main difference is that lacrosse is so violent that it makes an NHL game look like preschool. If a guy has the ball, then it is absolutely ok, even expected (and certainly not against the rules) for all the other guys to bear down on him with their sticks and try to beat him with them until he gives it up. This is not a penalty unless they beat him in the head, or unless the ref feels that somewhere along the line they stopped trying to retrieve the ball and instead were just whupping him for fun.
I knit at the game and used my sharpest blood red DPNs to keep up team spirit.
After the game I taught our waitress how to knit and Joe asked me if now we were going to be yarn missionaries, spreading the word of yarn and converting the un-crafty. Start knocking on doors wearing suits with handknit scarves....skeins of yarn spilling out of my pockets. I've got two things to say to him (it took me a while to come up with a clever enough reply) 1. She asked me how to knit, it's not like I'm accosting people. I just responded to a genuine question about knitting. The woman was called to the fiber arts...you think I should ignore that? and 2. Shut up.
Today, bleary eyed and exhausted, my very nice morning looks like this.
I'd like your support in pretending that this actually is my morning, instead of about 15 minutes of it before I have to work. I stayed up really late last night reading Knitlit too. I love it. Yesterday I went to the bookstore to get it, and took my enthusiastic mother-in-law Carol with me. I handed her Knitlit, and showed her my story in it, and she lost her mind. Right there in the bookstore. She just about forced the sales clerk to read it. I'm getting used to seeing my name here and there, but as my cheerleader Carol said "THIS IS A REAL BOOK! (Sort of brings down the importance of magazine articles and grant writing doesn't it?) She honestly couldn't have been more impressed, and for about 5 minutes she made me feel like I'd won the Booker Prize. I'd encourage the publisher to watch sales of Knitlit Too on Canada's east coast, because I think she's gonna make everyone she ever met buy it. Which is a good thing because it's really, really a good read. (and I'd say that even if I wasn't in it...really) My favourite so far is "The Sweater" by "Charmian Christie.
Under Knitlit, is the latest IK. My bookstore doesn't reliably have knitting magazines. You have to stalk the place, leaping on copies when you see them. I have no idea why I don't just get a subscription, I think it's the thrill of the hunt. (That or I just like to do things the hard way....) So far this season, mighty huntress that I am, I have only bagged IK.
I want to make "Gypsy Mesh Pullover" (Norah Gaughan) from this issue, but have had a rare flash of insight and realize now that a woman who only manages to find her bra for "special occasions" might not really be all that suited to a "mesh" sweater. I'm thinking it over. (I've got some Italian cotton that would be perfect....)
Something is going to have to be done. I'm going to have to organize the stash.
I have no idea how this is even possible, since the only way I can make the stash fit in my little wee house is using my patented "nook and cranny" approach. This approach maximizes your yarn storage capabilities, allowing knitters with the tiniest of homes to store absolutely incredible amounts of yarn. I can hear you now, "Tell me more Stephanie, I want to store mind boggling quantities of yarn in and around my home too".
WARNING. If you are the kind of knitter who has a really organized stash, or if you are the kind of person who knows where your keys are without looking for them, you may find the following images difficult to understand. Just look away.
The secret to the "nook and cranny" approach is expanded thinking. There is no real reason why yarn cannot be stored in any space which is not otherwise occupied. When my stash overflowed the bins, baskets and boxes which were its home, I began putting it anywhere it would fit, but still be unknown to the casual observer.
Example 1. The liquor cabinet.
This is ideal. This space is underused, it has a cabinet door I can close to avoid yarn detection and even if the door is opened in the presence of others, the yarn shape mimics the shape of the surrounding objects enough that if you open and close the cabinet quickly enough...you might get away with it.
Example 2. Movie cupboard
The movie cupboard is less ideal, but still works well. This cupboard has a sliding door, and it's relative inaccessibility means that guests in your home will never know the yarn is there. This choice illustrates the advantage of choosing a low traffic location. If your kids watch tons of movies, you may wish to consider somewhere else. Somewhere near the washing machine tends to be pretty freakin low traffic around here. I could put 73 kilos of wool right on the washer and nobody but me would ever know it was there...but I digress.
Example 3. Book shelf
I understand that you may not quite follow my thinking here. You are saying to yourselves "But Stephanie, I thought that the beauty of the nook and cranny plan was the concealment of stash from the casual observer...now I see yarn right out in the open. What part of the plan is this?"
I understand your confusion. Look closely. See? Those are knitting books. A whole wall of them. This is a good choice partly because the yarn fits the knitting theme of this wall, and partly because the viewer is already stunned into a fit of incomprehension by all the knitting books and patterns. The wool won't even register.
Finally today I offer you this picture of my charming husbands arse. As he was walking through the living room in his boxers this morning (yeah...we live pretty casual), I spotted something odd.
There is a bite out of his boxers. I'm trying not to think about it. Mice? Children? Another woman?
The blog is a month old (or it was yesterday, maybe the day before...I lose track of things) and in an incredible turn of events (which is likely to THRILL my mother) if you type "Harlot" into Google, I'm the 4th hit. Right under some latex fetish stuff. You don't even need "yarn" or "knitting" or "Stephanie". Just Harlot. In an even more incredible turn of events, Joe says that he likes that. Odd as fish.
What is it about sock yarn? I mean, really..what is it? I just love the stuff, in a really unbalanced "must have more" kind of way. Yesterday, when this arrived...
from a wildly successful yarn trade with e-friend Sam, I just about lost my mind. It's Lorna's Laces sock yarn "Aslan", and it's very, very good. I've been coveting this yarn for a long time, but I haven't seen it around here. When I got the yarn I realized that e-friends are probably the second coolest side effect of blogging...you know, right after being ranked the worlds 4th google harlot.
I was so excited when this yarn arrived that I made a classic error. I unwrapped the yarn, and looked around for someone to show it to. As usual, the cat ignored me (my old cat used to feign indifference...Millie actually is indifferent) so I ran upstairs, bounded into our bedroom and woke Joe to show him the yarn. I know. It sounds like such a mistake now while I'm telling you, but at the time it seemed really right. When he had managed to become awake enough to manage speech, all he did was stare at me in a fuzzy confused way and say... "Are you seriously waking me up to show me yarn again?" I may be a slow learner, but that's when I figured something out.
Joe doesn't want me to wake him up to see any yarn. Not even really great yarn. See, I keep thinking that the reason he didn't want me to wake him was because the yarn wasn't good enough to justify it. Therefore, if the yarn that I want to wake him up with is much better than the yarn I woke him up for last time, I think that he is not going to mind. Now I understand that there is no yarn that he thinks is worth waking up for. Weird eh?
Last night, I sat knitting on the couch, watching the first season of The West Wing (for a Canadian I'm really intrigued with American politics...the West Wing is accurate right? If you guys are going to elect actors, why not Martin Sheen instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger?) and turning out the Mamluke socks
I got to thinking that I didn't really have anything to blog about today. Nothing. The socks are boring, (Hint - the second one is going to look exactly like the first one) the spinning is boring (Hint - the second skein is going to look exactly like the first one) and that's about all I'm working on. Ask and ye shall receive. My lovely and charming Mother-in-law Carol dropped by, fresh from a trip home to Newfoundland. Now, I don't just say nice things about Carol because she brings me wool (Hint - I can be bought) she's a really nice lady, but she did bring me this... which is enough of a bribe that I would say I liked her even if I didn't.
My crappy picture aside, this wool is lovely, and Carol bought it for me at NONIA on Water Street in St. John's. Two of the above are completely sexy mohair, and the darkest one is beautiful navy/grey sock wool. The top mohair is beyond words, it looks grey in the picture but it's really a mix of every colour you can imagine. It is so beautiful, that it is all I can do to resist tossing aside the mamluke socks like joyless foot husks and casting on a hat in the mohair. Fortified with 4 cups of coffee and a deadline for the socks, I am ignoring the mohair.
NONIA isn't a wool shop, but stands for Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association. In 1920 there was a shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives in the outports of Newfoundland. The British government sent over some nurses to help the people (particularly women) in these really isolated communties. As is the way with governments (particularly ones who aren't likely to have to deliver a baby alone, in a blizzard, with nothing to eat and 7 other kids) the funding for this health service was touch and go. The nurses came up with the idea that if they were to knit and weave stuff to sell, they could fund the program by themselves. They recruited women from all over Newfoundland, gave them wool and taught them to knit (if they didn't know already). The women knit what pleased them, and NONIA picked the knitting up, paid the women, and then sold the knitting to pay for more health care. It was without a doubt, one of the cleverest woman-helping-woman schemes ever thought up. The nurses kept their jobs, the women earned a little income, and everybody in the outports got health care.
Even though Newfoundland and Labrador is now a province of Canada, and has health care through the government of Canada, NONIA still exists, pays knitters and funds nursing care. They sell knitted stuff in the shop and you can buy the leftover wool. That's what I got. Go to Newfoundland. You can have some too. Cool eh?
Question1. How many times do you need to wash your kitchen floor after a "waffle party" for 11 ten year old girls to get all the syrup off it? I keep washing and washing....and it is still sticky enough that I'm worried about the cat adhering to it.
In between pointless floor washings, I started the spinning for the Shetland socks.
Question 2. Why can't we all agree about some basic principles? I'm not talking the big ones, like politics or world peace...all I want sorted out is yardage on knitting patterns. (That's a lie. I would also really like a word with the screwdriver people, I mean get real - How many kinds of screwdriver does the world really need? Is it not possible that we could get our crap together and agree on one kind of screw? It isn't enough that I have to go looking for my screwdriver, but to need to find the small phillips type screwdriver? It's really unnecessary) I want designers to tell me how many yards/metres they actually used in the pattern.
The pattern for the Welsh Country socks is trying. It says that I need one 100g skein of light and one of dark Brown Sheep Nature Spun 3-ply sport . The pattern even tells me that's about 368 yards of each one. This means that if I sit down at my spinning wheel and spin until I am delirious, and come up with 368 yards each of light and dark I should be fine. No problem.
Question 3. If I spin 368 yards of each one, how much time will I have wasted spinning yarn that I don't need for this project? HA! We don't know do we? No we don't. What I actually need to know for this project is not how much yarn is in the skein, (Although don't get me wrong...that's a good start, I appreciate it) but how much of the skein the designer used. The light is only used for cuff, heel and toe. Is that really going to be 368 yards? I don't think so either. The dark is leg and foot, so it's probably going to take closer to 368. Now I have a choice. I can spin 368 yards of the dark, (that's about 150 yards in the picture) and know that I have enough, or I can spin as I need it, not waste any fleece but drive myself insane by always needing to spin "a little bit more" to finish the socks. (We don't have to discuss how obvious it is which option I'm likely to take.) All I'm saying is that if we knew exactly how many yards the project took, then it would be a lot easier to sub in handspun or leftovers. (I understand that yarn companies don't want to make it easy for me to use other yarn, I'm down with that, but if you are publishing a pattern that's not affiliated with a specific yarn then can't you just do it my way?) I say we revolt. Raise your needles if you are with me! That's right, we need some kind of a petition, an organized effort to force designers to measure yarn. A march and knit-ins. We could boycott yarn companies and then....well, ok. No boycotts, I don't think anybody wants to stop buying yarn and patterns. I'm sorry, I got a little carried away, but couldn't we mention this yardage thing to somebody?
Question 4. Has anybody knit these Welsh Country socks? Can you tell me, did it take all of the skein or was there lots left over?
Imagine this...it's a Saturday morning, the laundry is caught up, the house (unbelievably) is tidy, I don't have to see a client today and I went to the grocery store yesterday to beat the weekend crowds. Today I will knit and spin and make a vegetable barley soup and homemade bread. It is raining/snowing/sleeting outside but me and my girls will be cozy. I'll get all the dark grey for the socks spun up and it will be a great day.
Right. Welcome to my fantasy life. In reality, the house is trashed, I've got a 3:00 postpartum check, it will be a stretch to find something clean to wear, and 10 little girls are showing up here for Sam's birthday party in 40 minutes. Joe's skipping out of here to go to "work" for 15 hours. What kind of man is afraid of a pack of little girls?
White Buffalo yarn is being discontinued. If this means nothing to you, you probably aren't Canadian. White Buffalo is a yarn like nothing you have ever seen. I don't even know if it qualifies as a "yarn", technically speaking. It's unspun and drawn out for knitting, several strands come off the puck at once. It has some oils it in, and it is absolutely water resistant. Historically, it's been used in here in Canada for sweaters that are a knock off of the Cowichan sweaters knit by the Salish of Cowichan Valley (West Coast of Canada). Wearing a sweater knit from this yarn is like stepping into a furnace. These sweaters are iconographic for Canadians, Mary Maxim is famous for the acrylic version of the bulky-large-graphic Canadian sweater. Here we have a particularly umm...Canadian version.
White Buffalo yarn is cool and it is Canadian history.
So it's like this. I should have spent last night getting ready for a waffle party with 11 ten year old girls here Saturday morning, and instead I conducted a scientific experiment with my knitting.
Hypothesis - That knitting fair isle is indeed magical speed knitting in which the time/space continuum is warped and socks get done darned fast. Is it the pattern that just makes it "seem" faster, or is it actually faster?
Experiment - I cast on two socks, one fair isle, one single colour. They did not have the same number of stitches because there is only so much I was willing to sacrifice in the name of science and I want to have actual useful socks at the end of this. One (solid colour) had 84 stitches, and the fair isle had 70. I knit on each sock for 45 minutes, and was interrupted by life crap about the same number of times.
Results (as shown by our lovely studio model...Millie)
15 rounds of fair isle at 70 stitches per round is 1050 stitches.
10 rounds of solid at 84 stitches per round is 840 stitches.
1. Fair isle is faster. (I told you so)
2. I am out of my mind for actually thinking this much about this.
3. If there are about a thousand stitches in about an inch of sock knitting...am I the only one being shocked at how many stitches I'm knitting for a whole sock?
Tonights Experiment - do I knit faster with a Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon?
I hope everyone in the Maritimes is warm and cozy today. Canada's Atlantic Provinces were blasted by the biggest Nor'easter in one hundred years yesterday. High winds and a full meter of snow. That's 100 centimeters. For a frame of reference, I'm 152 centimeters tall. That's a lot of snow. To my cousin Michael in Halifax: happy shovelling dude. To My Sister-in-law, buried in Sydney, Nova Scotia: I told you to get two movies at the rental place.
Finally, just for Kathy. When I asked my Father in law in St. Johns, Newfoundland yesterday if the storm was bad, he replied in a classic maritimes understatement. "Well, there's some snow".
Hear ye, hear ye. After due process was served yesterday in this blog the Farmyard Jacket was convicted of all charges and sentenced to death by kitchen garbage can. A stay of execution was suggested by a number of jurors who attempted to convert the jacket to a pillow, and one member even offered clemency and a new home to the accused. Unfortunately it was a miserable piece of ugly knitting and this court took immense pleasure in heaving it into the garbage can and watching a little coffee grounds get on it. For the record, I would like to note that the Farmyard Jacket was a toddler size and I never had any intention of wearing it myself.
Moving on. One of the Mamluke socks is finished. Be still my heart.
I love it. See the band of "m" shaped fancies at the ankle and toe? It is "Allah" written in cufic/ arabic letters. Sincerely...how cool is that?
At the same time, I am knitting these. "Welsh Country Stockings" also from "Folk socks"
Only, mine look like this
In a daring move, I am spinning the wool myself. I've spun enough for the cuff, heel and toe of both socks (I think) and I'm ready to begin knitting in the darker grey pattern and leg. The yarn for that looks like this.
Catch that? It was subtle. Yeah, small problem. I'll get it looking more like grey yarn later today. I keep trying to figure out how much fleece becomes how much yarn....does that look like enough to anybody? Can you imagine anything that would make you want to run in front of a public bus more than spinning your own sock wool and only being able to knit 9/10ths of the second one? If anyone knows some voodoo figuring out thing, would you drop me a comment?
In an attempt to work my way through my abandoned WIPs (Works In Progress) I'm hauling them out, one by one and dealing with my "issues" with each one. I mean there has to be a reason for why an otherwise perfectly normal woman would begin project after project only to take about half of them and stuff them into the back of her linen closet. Right? Today's therapy item is 3/4 of what should be the back of Debbie Bliss' "Farmyard Jacket" from "Farmyard Knits", in Cantata Cotton Crepe dk.
I took it out and began the delicate process of self examination. Looking within myself for the subtle barriers to completion. What are the obscure and enigmatic reasons that I've turned my back on this project? The answer came to me in a dazzling moment of clarity.
I freakin hate it.
I hate intarsia with cotton yarn. I hate knitting yarn with no stretch, I hate trying to weave the ends in on cotton intarsia and I hate how many stupid little ends there are. I hate how uneven cotton intarsia looks and I think that Debbie Bliss is a masochist. (Brilliant, but a masochist)
I may also have a problem with cows. I learned all of this (except for the cow thing) when I knit "The Bird Jacket". I must be a slow learner. How is it that I continue to allow myself to be seduced by the finished product when I would rather wash a live emu with my very own toothbrush than endure the process?
Now the question becomes this...I've knit 3/4 of the back, do I rip it out? Do I force myself to continue? Will it make me a better person to make good on my intention to knit this? If I did rip it out, what else would I use the yarn for? Slow learner I tell you. Painfully slow.
Maybe we shouldn't discuss what else is in the linen closet.
Breaking news - This reporter is happy to write that dutiful rocking, nursing, walking, pat-a-cake, story reading, time outs, knitting lessons, bike riding, talking and laughing has successfully turned this
When contacted for comment this morning the child's mother was heard to say "I'm thrilled that Sam is 10, she really seems to be working out for us...how old are they when they can do their own laundry?"
Samantha is a delightful child, and has been since she was born. Sources tell us that Sam cried so little and slept so well that her mother questioned the midwife about the possibility of brain damage. Reassured that Samantha was normal, her mother simply adopted the view that this baby was her reward for not having killed the first two. Samantha has gone on to excel at everything she tries and much to her mothers delight, is an adept knitter and spinner. When we reached Samantha for comment this morning, we asked her if it felt different to be 10.
"Well, I feel almost the same" she replied, "I might be taller...but I think it's my shoes"
We questioned Sam about the hand knit blanket she is wrapped in on her birth day, but she claims that she doesn't remember that day "really well". (This reporter wonders if that means she remembers it at all...I thought about asking but it creeped me out)
Her mother remembers it very well. "The blanket was finished at midnight, after my labour had begun, and 7 hours before Sam was wrapped in it. Sam was born at home, and I remember blocking and pinning out the border while I waited for the midwife. I knit a white lace blanket for all of my daughters, and they were all born the day I finished their blanket. One 10 days late, one 10 days early, Sam right on her due date...but always as soon as I cast off."
Happy Birthday Sam.
I swear to all that is sheepy and sacred that I am in clog hell. I knit some clogs for my friend and her husband and turned them over to her for felting. Later that day she calls, sounding a little worried. She's felting the clogs, and apparently the clogs look...strange. I tell her to drop them off and I'll fix them. This happened with Ken's clogs at Christmas. The wool didn't felt evenly and it just took some hand-felting in the bathtub to convince them to be nice clogs. No problem. Whatever the problem with these clogs I can fix them. I am super knitter. Yeah, well. Pride goeth before a fall. I opened the bag and the world whirled darkly around me. I actually felt woozy.
See anything wrong with this?
This is really more of a disk with a foot opening than a clog. Clearly it has crossed over to the other side. Way over. There is nothing for it. I am going to have to knit 2 more pairs. I'm going to use different yarn (the red didn't felt) and I'm going to try not to look back.
Instead of getting drunk and sobbing into the bag of wet misshapen clogs (that really was my plan for about 10 minutes) I comforted myself with new yarn and cast on this
The socks? Yeah baby.
I need the foot size before I can go any further. That's three days of evening knitting. Magic. I swear it's magic.
I cast on the Mamluke socks last night and gleefully knit my little heart out.
When I knit fair isle I carry one colour in my left and one in my right. This is way slower than the way I knit flat stuff, which is as much as possible. Yeah, yeah, tell me again how great circulars are. I know they work for you. I however am the last great holdout for straight needles. Long straight needles. Love them.
As much as I love long straight needles (is it just me or is that starting to sound dirty?) I see the wisdom of knitting fair isles circularly, but for me, knitting circularly with one colour in each hand is slower. I know this to be an absolute fact.
Can somebody tell me then, how it is possible that it takes me longer to make each individual stitch, but have the rows go faster? I mean, if that was a plain grey sock, I could have knit around and around at lightning speed and have 2 inches at bedtime. Give me fair isle and I knit each stitch more slowly but each intriguing little row piles up on top of each other at an astonishing rate. That's 5 inches of sock! Who can knit 5 inches of sock during one moderately interesting Denzel Washington movie? Not me man, it's just the miracle of fair isle. It's how Wendy does it. Knitting Voodoo.
Is what the girls did with their day yesterday. Note the mohawk. Be afraid.
Is what I did with part of my day yesterday while I tried not to think about the barbie. It's the shetland from tuesday. This is the lightest batch, and I'm spinning sock weight 2ply for the cuffs of some socks. Looks pretty good eh? I realized today that to finish all of the projects that I have to finish before March ends I am going to need to warp the time-space continuum. That's such a pain in the arse.
Today is a PD day. This means, for anyone who lives in a place in the world where they call it something else, that the children have a day off school. All of them. Even though it is not a holiday, or a day of any special significance, and even though it is a regular work day for grownups...they are home. I hate PD days. I work from home mostly so a PD day means that there are three children in my office. My usual strategy (when there are three children in my office) is to give up, fork over the day to them and not try to get anything done at all. It's sort of like going limp and playing dead when the bear corners you. I just keep giving them food, playing board games and hoping for the best. I thought that very little could turn a PD day into a good day. I was wrong.
The mailman brought me this
Not excited? It's to knit these..
See? I knew you would be excited. I'm thrilled. Ken's fathers birthday is soon, and these are the Mamluke socks from "Folk Socks" by Nancy Bush. I would knit them out of love, I really would. Ken clearly doubts that, since in the box from Yarn Forward there was also this.
Scheepjes Invicta Coloris in "Rainbow" and "Crayons". This is clearly a bribe, and it's a good one. I love sock wool. I'm absolutely stunned by what I will do for sock wool. It's embarrassing. I'm going to reward myself with this yarn when I am done the Mamluke socks. I need these little motivators. Why can I add more socks to the WIP file? I finished these!
Megans "Kroy stripes" socks. She loves them. She apparently loves them with bright pink stockings, which is somewhat of a surprise, but who am I to decide what matches socks like that. Knitting these socks sucked and I'm glad to see the back of them. The Kroy stripes seems a little thicker than the regular Kroy, so I knit one of them twice. (Bitterly, really bitterly. The label claims that the all the Kroys have the same gauge...LIES I tell you, damn lies) I didn't think the yarn was as soft as the other Kroy (which is a great sock yarn) and I wasn't nuts about the striping, mostly because it didn't freaking stripe. Stripes are sort of the minimum I expect from a sock yarn called "Kroy Stripes", but maybe I'm being fussy. Meg picked the yarn and Meg loves them so lets just focus on that. Next time...Meg can knit them.
While I was at the yarn shop this morning (...er, yeah the yarn shop, didn't I mention I went there? I was only there for a minute. Didn't buy much. Stop looking at me. Nothing to see here). I spoke with Margret Haas, nice lady, yarn store owner extraordinaire and most importantly for our purposes, the designer of the shawls you all are coveting. She has some kits left, though the yarn is discontinued, and the pattern comes with the kit. Margret's willing to ship some to you poor desperate souls.
The Yarn Boutique, Toronto, Canada. (416) 760-9129. It's also available through the Knitnet store. (Never used them myself....let me know how it goes). I don't know how many they have. It's called the "Festival Shawl"
Order, enjoy...but be warned. The shawls are a little on the addictive side.
Just after I wrote about spinning the shetland on Tuesday (and right after I covered the house in fleece rats) my pager went off and I rushed off to a birth.
Number of hours without sleeping: 41
Number of meals missed: 3
Total Cups of coffee drunk to avoid falling asleep standing up: 11
Number of times I fell asleep standing up anyway: 1 (but I didn't fall down)
Baby born: one baby boy, 3200g (7lbs 2oz) pretty darned cute.
Knitting done: one sock (ok, it's a small sock, but I was busy) I always knit, or at least cast on, something for the baby during its birth. I'll knit the mate and take it to them at a postnatal visit.
Funniest moment: When a nurse clearing away garbage picked up the sock I had just finished (she was watching me knit it two minutes before) and asked me quite earnestly "did you want to keep this?". "Er...yeah, I knit that" I said (sort of wondering where she was going with this). "Oh" she said, replacing it on the table, "I thought you were just knitting for fun". I was too tired to come up with a snappy response, so I just sort of stared at her. I mean, even if I did knit just for fun, which I suppose is mostly true, why would you throw away what you knit? I imagined knitting a whole sweater, then carefully sewing all the seams, then picking it up, showing it to your family, admiring it, then crossing the room and unceremoniously dumping it in the garbage. Maybe that thought isn't cracking you up now, but last night, sleep deprived and hopped up on lousy hospital coffee, it was hysterical.
Number of nurses who think I'm nuts for laughing hysterically to myself: just 1 (I hope)
Today will be dedicated to restoring the house and family to working order, since whenever I disappear for a day or two it all gets pretty "Lord of the Flies" pretty quickly. Joe keeps the family alive, but by the time I get back home the house is trashed and nobody can find a hairbrush or that permission form for the astronomy thing. (Mom? Mom....Mom? I know you are sleeping but if you could just tell me where my blue hairtie is...Mom?) I try to appreciate the fact that I can just walk away from my family with no notice and with no idea when I will be back, and nobody complains. Joe calls friends, family and babysitters to make it work and I try to overlook that there is a chance that there may be cheese on the living room floor, or ketchup in the bathroom when I come home. It does make me feel vital that it takes a team of adults to do half of what I do when I'm gone.
Number of adults it took to replace me in a 30 hour absence: 4 (and not one of them did the laundry)
Or in this case probably carding. This here
is the most gorgeous shetland wool ever, destined to become yarn for socks. I've washed about 4 times this much and there is still a huge fleece to go. I drag the fleece out, spread it on the kitchen floor (that's Joe's favourite part) and take handfuls to wash in the kitchen sink (Joe's second favourite part) and wash it lock by lock, matching different parts of the fleece for staple length, quality and colour. When the locks are clean I roll them in a towel and walk on it to remove most of the water, then I spread them on the largish heating vent in the kitchen to dry. This is Ken's favourite part,
because it looks like I've taken a liking to breeding rats in the kitchen.
If it's summer, sometimes I put them in the sunshine in the back garden, but that means engaging in a bitter war with the %^&*!! fleece stealing grey squirrel who lives in the backyard. It wouldn't be so bad if the little crapper just stole fleece (yeah...ok, that would still be pretty bad) but the worst part is that this squirrel will fight for the yarn. I've taken to covering the drying fleece with a screen so he can't get it, but when I go out to bring my fleece back in, he threatens me. Think I'm wimping out? The squirrel doesn't just yell at me from a tree. When he sees me advance on "his" fleece, he springs from the tree, screaming some nightmarish squirrel expletives at me and makes for my face.
I've got to find another way to dry fleece in the summer. What's the lifespan of a grey squirrel?
I love this shawl.
and er...this one.
I love them so much that I have knit this shawl, in this yarn, in three colourways (the red is really nice too..) more than once. I have, in my obsessive and compulsive manner, knit this shawl upwards of six times. There is something about it that just gets me. I knit the shawls, I give away some of them, but mostly I hoard them, unworn, in a box in my bedroom. From time to time I take them out, stroke them softly and think about going down to the yarn shop and, since I heard a rumour that this yarn is discontinued, buying all that she has and keeping it to myself. Forever.
I love these shawls so much, that I gave posting the pictures of them on this blog serious thought. One of you is going to want one. And then there will be less of this yarn in the world for me. Even though I can't afford more, have more, own several of the shawls, have given one of the shawls to everyone in my life would could possibly deserve one and some who don't....I still don't want anyone else to buy the yarn and reduce my chances of finding it again. That's healthy....right?
PS. Hank wore the mittens.
Hank's uber-macho stringless manly mittens are done. This is a good thing because I don't believe he was going to be happy to wait for them. Last night when he saw that the balls of yarn were still balls of yarn he sort of lost his cool. Whipped one of the balls across the room and said "This is not a mitten!". He's normally a very nice guy, the strain of the loss of the mousie mitten has really worn on us all. Everyone copes with tragedy in their own way.
I think the mitts look pretty good, although the one looking away from you has wonky eyes. We won't know for sure if they are ok until Hank sees them. If you've knit for a three year old then you understand. Just because he wanted pink dragon mittens, and I believe I have knit pink dragon mittens, is no reason to believe that he will believe that these are indeed pink dragon mittens. It's a total crap shoot. Don't knit for three year olds unless you are going to be pretty relaxed about rejection. Stick to the small stuff. Hank has rejected tons of stuff, hats are particularly dodgy. I spend a month knitting him the coolest hat, only to have Hank dedicate his life to stuffing it behind his car seat. Then I knit him this hoodie-acrylic-sweatshirt thing. I hated everything about it. The yarn, the pattern, the making up. With each moment and each stitch I cursed it. I swore on all I that I hold dear and all that I believe to be true that I would never, ever knit it's monotonous miles of stocking stitch and its stupid, stupid pocket and hood again. Screw I-cord hood ties, just screw them.
He loves it. All I can hope is that he doesn't ask me for another one. Three year olds are so charming that their cute little faces and tiny little voices should be considered some kind of hypnosis. I'd knit that kid anything if he asked. Maybe he won't ask till he's four.
My almost four year old nephew Hank could teach all you men a thing or two about colour. This unholy living nightmare striking combination
is his choice for "Dragon Mittens". He is not even a little concerned about the pink. In fact, it is his favourite colour. He grieves that I don't have enough of the pink to do the mittens entirely in this manliest of colours. These mittens will replace his mouse mittens, one of which met an untimely demise somewhere in between the park and his house. We are concerned about the weather, and the fact that the mouse is lonely and likely, cold. We take some comfort in knowing that the wee mousie is wool...and a mitten, and may therefore be better prepared for his unexpected adventure than a real mouse. (That one was keeping me awake at night, let me tell you). The mouse mittens were knit to replace the dinosaur mittens, which were never worn as they are "very scary mittens". The mouse mittens were very cool (and Larry..they were grey), and I feel bad that they are gone, but the remaining mousie (aren't we glad they don't mate for life) has been reborn as a puppet. I suggested that perhaps I could put a string on the new dragon mittens but this plan was soundly rejected. Not because he is a big boy, not because strings are demeaning and not because the presence of a string speaks to a certain lack of faith in his ability to keep a dragon from meeting the same horrendous fate as the poor mouse, but instead...get this, it is because mitten strings (even on a pair of pink dragon mittens) are not manly. Any other rules you people want to tell me about?
I swear that I'm never going to figure this out. Apparently this colour combination...
is not manly.
I asked Joe, the manliest of men, his opinion this morning. He said that "he wouldn't wear it", and also that is was "a funny green". Joe is not a good barometer for manly colour though, he is so firmly imbedded at the straight-newfoundlander-man end of the colour sense scale that you can't rely on him for any sort of realistic vision of what other men might find acceptable. Joe's personal rules for colour combining are as follows.
1. He will wear any colour as long as it is grey, black, dark blue or brown. Deep murky green may also be acceptable as long as it is so dark as to be indistinguishable as a colour.
2. He will not wear a garment that combines two colours, even if those colours appear on the acceptable colour list. Exceptions may be made for subtleties, like black stitching on a grey shirt, but this is pretty dodgy.
3. Although it should be obvious from point #2, Joe will not wear stripes. In fact if Joe sees another man wearing stripes he will often giggle to himself and mumble things like "whoa..what's HE thinking".
4. Joe will not wear garments that are too tight (you know, what most people would call "tailored") and he will not wear garments that are too loose. These are not manly.
Inexplicably, Joe owns and wears a bright yellow raincoat with a silver stripe on it. It's just a little curve ball that he throws in there to attempt to keep me a little confused for the duration of our entire marriage. Clearly I'm not taking his opinion on the sage green. I call my friend Ken. Ken sits firmly on the other end of the what-men-might-wear scale. Ken actually wears colour, and in combinations. He has even been known to be a little avant-garde with the colour thing...there were these yellow ochre pants. Very styling. In any event, I phoned Ken. I told him the colours, and he asked what they were for. "Clogs", I reply. I know that I'm going to be vindicated. Any man who would wear an orange shirt and a Utilikilt isn't going to shut me down. See, the key to getting support is knowing who to call.
"I dunno" ponders Ken. "On your feet? Men don't really wear colour on their feet. There's a line there with green...how dusty is the green?"
For crying out loud. I strangle back the urge to say things like "big talk from the man in the skirt" or "shut up...you're probably wearing stripes...I can't believe I called you".
If somebody could just tell me what the rules are so I could nip down to the knitting shop and pick up a ball of something that doesn't endanger the flow of testosterone around here I'd really appreciate it.
I am knitting clogs. Endlessly, in perpetuum, clogs.
Even though clogs are sort of freaky cool (look at the size of that!) I've knit a dozen pair this winter. I'm sick to death of them. I'm starting to have fantasies about tiny little needles and tiny little yarn and very tricky lace and cable stitches and ....oh yeah.
I try so hard to be good, really I do. All I have to do is knit the three pairs of clogs and then I can knit something else. I told my friend they would be done this week and I swear it they will be. I'm not a quitter. Still, the stash is calling me. This morning when I passed the closet that holds the worst of it, I gave it a little kick to shut it up. I had to move the Fleece Artist sock yarn out of my field of vision, and the white laceweight somehow didn't get put away the other day. Oddly, there is a pair of needles beside it and a little scrap of paper with the scrawled directions for a the beginnings of a "snowdrop shawl" has materialized. I have no idea how that happened. Somebody dragged "Folk Socks" off the shelf, and made a real mess of the sock yarn pile. Not me, no way..I wasn't playing in the stash, I was ...er, tidying up, yeah, that's it. Cleaning up after all these other people who live here. When I wasn't cleaning I was knitting clogs, because I'm a good person and I'm really focussed and I would never, never abandon the clogs. I also didn't take this out of the interim stash box.
That would have been the mice. Tall mice. Scary really. The little turds likely printed off this pattern and put it by the wool too...The ball winder? I was dusting that, just put it down by the swift. Back off. I'm knitting clogs.
That's what I'm doing today. Stripping wallpaper. I thought that for interest I would throw in knitting clogs (one pair down, two to go), spinning the last of my mysterious rainbow fibre plan, drinking too much coffee, bitching about the snow and trying to convince Joe to do the grocery shopping. I'm staying close to home since I'm on call for a birth. I was hoping the mama in question would have the babe yesterday, since I thought it would be hysterical to get a chance to make all these great "If he comes out and sees his shadow..." jokes.
The mysterious rainbow fibre plan is something I've come up with over the last week or two. I'm pretty sure that it's going to be mittens, but I'm open to suggestions. There is very little of each colour, so it needs to be a little project. I leave you now with a photo of the mysterious rainbow fibre plan, and the realization that my cat bears a strong resemblance to a pound of black alpaca roving. (Millie the cat is the black blob of fibre on the left)
It would appear that I'm not really in touch with the realities of my life. I offer you the final proof.
This is an extremely elegant wrap knit of Eros. It is the exact opposite of what I usually knit. It is everything that this tree-hugging, ultra-liberal vegetarian knitter abhors, and yet I am inexplicably drawn to it. It is 100% unnatural fibres, it sparkles, it was a serious pain in the arse to knit and it was expensive. It is the anti-steph. Despite all of this, I have knit it and I love it.
I have knit it because I have a mental image of me in the wrap. I'm wearing it with a clingy little black dress, and a pair of tiny little strappy heels. I look inexplicably tall. My hair is doing a fabulous Sarah Jessica Parker thing and I am at a cocktail party, delicately holding a martini in one hand and a black beaded handbag in the other. I'm discussing politics without getting angry, and I make several good points and my lipstick is exactly the right colour, and all the other women want to be me and I know that it is all because of the wrap.
Yeah. The reality is that if I were to put this wrap on...I would be wearing it to the grocery store over my jeans with a pair of birkenstocks. I don't own a little black dress, and the last party I went to had 7 nine year olds an a cake in the shape of barbie. I beat my hair back with 4 kinds of product to suppress its will to ever spring forth into "country singer hair" and I need at least 30 minutes notice to come up with any lipstick, never mind one the right colour. When other women see me they generally thank their lucky stars that they have escaped my fashion destiny and incredible ability to overlook the fact that my cardigan is mis-buttoned.
Still...as soon as I figure out how you deal with weaving in the ends on this yarn, I will have it draped over a hanger in my closet. This means something doesn't it? It could mean that I'm a lunatic who is so out of touch with reality that I've got a sparkly wrap for no reason. I choose to believe that it means that I'm one step closer to being able to say "One moment, I'll be right with you" when Pierce Brosnan comes to the door to take me to a James Bond-esque cocktail party.