Warning: The sentimental ramblings of a sleep deprived mother lie ahead. (I'm not joking, sleep deprivation is not pretty. I cried about eggs this morning) The knitting content follows. Scroll down if you hate this stuff.
Yesterday, my charming and accomplished daughter Amanda celebrated her 15th birthday. She had cake, and presents and the adoring throngs. Or I think she did, I was at a birth. I am beside myself about missing her birthday, but if it is any consolation to her...I thought about her all day.
As my client M. became a mother, I remembered becoming a mother myself. I remember being so tired, and so happy...and so completely freaking terrified that it's a wonder I was capable of being anything at all. My client had a baby boy, and I told her about nursing, diapers, crying (hers and his) and swaddling.
When M. had a little cry over it all, I almost told her this is only the beginning, she is going to cry about colic, and diaper rash and first smiles and big messes. That she will dissolve over laundry, and dinner and why toddlers only eat yellow beans and toast fingers for weeks at at time. She will weep for lost teeth, the first day of school, chicken pox and that kid who isn't nice. There will be rivers wept for walking alone to school, getting phone calls from boys, failing math and the first time this kid says "No thanks Mom, I don't need any help".
I told M. that now she was a mother. That now things would be different.
I didn't tell her:
That now...now everything she ever thought she cared about, her job, her garden, her knitting? All that is nothing.
That the whole world just shrunk down to the size of about seven pounds, fifteen ounces.
That this is going to be so hard.
That Motherhood is the end of quitting when it isn't fun.
That there are no words for how much you will love this person.
That someday...oh someday so soon, this tiny baby with the damp curls will be the most incredible almost grown up person...
Happy birthday Manda.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled knitting blog...
When last we saw our adventurous Harlot, she was boarding the subway to journey downtown and meet Laurie (of the comments) who was visiting from Maine.
I adore her. We had an awesome lunch and embarked on a yarn crawl. There was much shopping, and talking and the exchange of gifts. (I totally scored here...I'm not even going to show you everything that Laurie gave me. I'm afraid that the envy would corrupt you all if I don't pace it.) For today we will only admire the extremely cool sock yarn that Laurie dyes and spins.
Pretty yarn...yes? HA! You like it already and you don't even know what it does. Note: I am not at all ashamed to admit that I got home from meeting Laurie and within about..say, 9 seconds, had cast on this sock. Tank? Dublin Bay socks? What was that? Cast aside like rags, and you know what? Didn't even flinch. Not a second thought, not a moment of regret. I don't even hear their little woolly voices calling out to me.
(You can't see me...but I am dancing. I am wearing a ratty orange tee-shirt, plaid pants and that sock) I love it. Love, love, love. Laurie dyes the the roving, then spins it up, (Her spinning is perfection by the way. So perfect that if you hadn't had lunch with her and found out that she is so nice that you couldn't hate her for it, you probably would) then she navajo plies it so that she can have a three ply without disturbing the colours.
Laurie explained all of this to me, and as a spinner I understand what she's telling me, I mean, I speak English...I heard the words, I understand the concepts individually but somehow, doesn't this yarn seem like only a very cool magic trick could conjure it up?
There are so many variables that I just don't get. How much roving? When to change colours? I'd think that Laurie just got lucky but she was wearing a pair in another colourway, so she's pulled this off at least twice.
With my wool as my witness, I will learn how to make this.
It's cold and rainy here again, and I'm starting to feel like some kind of an idiot for knitting all these tank tops. Really, if you figure it from May 24th and count until school goes back at Labour day, we here in Toronto really only have about 16 weekends to sit on a patio having a pint with our knitting. (Ok, so I've only ever seen me or Ken sitting on a patio knitting in the sunshine with a pint, but we're trend setters) Things are not looking good. Given the forecast, there are only 14 chances left. Is Toronto being punished for something? Have we somehow angered the planet? What happened to Global Warming? (Am I the only one who has thought that they were going to have a hard time convincing Canadians that global warming is a bad thing?) I'm going to go buy something aerosol. I swear it. Global warming my arse.
The pointless tank knitting continues apace. The back of the Freudian slip tank being mere rows from completion.
and I finished the first bastardized Dublin Bay sock. What do you think Ryan?
Now I'm off, heading downtown to meet Laurie of the comments, who is visiting Toronto. We are going to lunch, then a little bit of a yarn shop crawl, going definitely to the wonder that is Romni wool, and possibly to the charm that is Lettuce Knit, in the market. I'm going to go now and get Laurie's present ready. See? Presents. A 6000 square foot yarn store, lunch and presents. Why wouldn't you come?
My mail is giving me whiplash. The letter carrier has been to my door several times in the last few days, and what he brings is swinging wildly from soul crushing and frightening work contracts, and fabulous presents from afar!
Yesterday morning this arrived, from the lovely (how could she not be?) and generous Cynthia. (Uh...Claudia? Look away...it's more blue)
Cynthia says that she sent the yarn to avoid having the yarn continue to look "accusingly" at her. As much as she claims that mailing the yarn was self-motivated, I know that anytime you mail off yarn it hurts. (That's not just me, right?) Even if you don't like the yarn, even if the yarn and you are through with each other, even if the yarn and you have reached an amicable divorce agreement, and you have forgiven it for not being all that it promised....It's still hard to let go. Very generous Cynthia. (Look to the postman)
This yarn is Meg's favourite in the world, (you will remember that a scarf knit of this generated the "wool-pig" comment) I wonder what cosmic effect a sweater would have? (Joe's request that less foul language is used when knitting the snowflake this time is duly noted)
Then, this morning a very scary work thing came and while I was sitting there, holding the papers, thinking "Here's another nice mess you've gotten us into", and wondering, really...how many hours do I think there are in a day? When the postman came and gave me THIS.
All hail the goddess Beth. Seriously, look at this stuff. I wish you could feel it, it is moments like this where the internet is woefully inadequate.
There is Honey Mohair (the honey coloured one), a wool/silk/angora blend (grey//blue bottom right) Something very soft and brown/camel coloured (Hey Beth? What is that?) and the pièce de résistance a very soft, very beautiful pale grey that comes (I think) from Beth's own sheep, fine white blended with grey and alpaca. The sheep have names like Autumn, Grace, Faith and Onyx, and they make me want to trash my stupid urban life and go...have sheep and do....well I don't know what Beth does with her time, but the way I see it, if you get wool like this at the end of it, I'm in.
Thanks so much Beth!
Now, I'm off to the grocery store to buy coffee. For the first time in about 15 years I have somehow allowed myself to run out. ( I can't tell you what a bad sign this is. It either means that I am drinking way too much coffee, so much, in fact that it has thrown off a "shopping for coffee" pattern that has worked for me for over a decade, OR I have so much work to do that I have forgotten to buy coffee. Either way, it's a sign that the end is near for me.)
I am temporarily "making do" with espresso, but since it only took me 37 seconds to type this entry I may be hitting overload with that strategy.
Before I tell you about the cruel blow I took this morning at 5:13, remember the Fleece Artist kid mohair roving I got? Yesterday (what with Tuesdays being for spinning) I was diligent and spun the rest of it up. I plied it, and look at this...
I understand if you need a moment. It's a profound thing of beauty, and at the risk of incurring some sort of spinning based revenge from the planet, I have to say that the spinning is pretty darned good. Overall, I think this may be 180 metres of the nicest yarn I've ever made. (By "nicest" I mean that I expect that this yarn will, by simply existing in the universe, lead us all a little closer to wiping out crime and leading lives of quiet fulfillment and simple joy.) A closer look?
Moving, isn't it? The urge to drape the skein around my neck and go waltzing around the kitchen while blasting The Brandenburg Concertos and weeping for the beauty of it all is almost more than I can resist.
I when that was done, I grounded myself by knitting the amhole armseye armscye of the Freudian slip.
I know that this pales in comparison to the excitement of the very beautiful laceweight, but what can I say. The universe seeks balance.
Every stinking school day morning for the last 9 years has been the same. My alarm goes off and I stagger into the children's rooms to begin the process of convincing them to get up. I will confess that they come by their reluctance quite honestly, since every single morning that I get up in time for school is a triumph of the human spirit. At least once a week I fail to respond to my alarm and leap up at 8:15 to ricochet around the house putting together sandwiches and screeching things while finding lost library books and the form for the choir thing. I can get the girls up, the lunches made, the books and forms found and shoes found and everyone out the door with breakfast in them in 14 minutes. This is the record. (It is bad that I know this. Since we have to leave at 8:30, every morning at 7:30 when the alarm goes off I have this argument with myself about how if I *can* do it in 14 minutes...why don't I get up at 8:16?)
When my alarm goes off, I go and try to wake the girls. I start with nice mommy talk. "Good morning little dollies, rise and shine, mornings are nicer if you don't have to rush" and work my way though the full line of interventions until I'm yanking the blankets off of them and whipping their clothes for the day around like I've lost my mind. (Which, I suppose I have) For their part, they run the gamut of potential responses in a traditional order. Play dead - ignore - moan - cry - claim illness - claim exhaustion - refuse - get up -be foul tempered to the crazy lady whipping your clothes around.
This is every school day morning.
Yesterday morning I inexplicably woke at 6:30. It took me a moment to work out what I was hearing. All three of the ladies up, making breakfast, brushing teeth and speaking to each other in lovely voices. Stuff like "Samantha, I found your spelling book for you, shall I put it in your backpack?" and the unbelievable reply "Yes please...your waffles are ready". It was like waking up in a Surrealist painting. Was I dreaming? Was this real? Had I finally slipped away in my sleep, killed by housework and unmanageable deadlines? No, no...it was real, the mountain of laundry a sherpa would find daunting still stood by the door.
Turns out the girls have decided that it would be a nice change to start their days early so that there is no rushing. they plan to get up even earlier tomorrow.
I am speechless. It is a testimony to parenting. See that? All these years of saying that and it finally sunk in. I feel overwhelmed. You know, you dream and you dream...you hope that your children are going to learn what you are trying to teach them and then one day, it all comes together. I feel badly for all you mothers out there who haven't had it happen for them.
Then this morning at 5:13 I wake up because all three of their alarm clocks are blasting and they are all sleeping like the dead. I go round and shut them off, and return to bed. Joe (appropriately) quizzes me on "what the (*&^%$!!! " is going on.
Human frailty Joe. Human frailty.
This morning, as I staggered out of bed, some things occurred to me. This by itself was rather remarkable, since I am generally incapable of thought until I've had a fair bit of coffee. More things have occurred to me since getting my coffee...so let's get a little introspective, shall we?
1. Claudia threw down the gauntlet yesterday in the comments, surmising that her lime tank is better than my blue tank. As I prepared to go to war to defend my blueness and say vile and defiling things about Claudia's lime tank, and go make a comment on her blog about how sucky the lime is anyway, and why doesn't she....like...knit blue stuff when it hit me.
I like lime better than blue. (I am especially envious of Claudia's lime, which is much better than my blue) I like orange better than blue too. I also like green better than blue. This revelation begs the question "Why is everything I'm knitting for myself blue?" Pathetic Fallacy perhaps? Does this mean that I'm expressing something? Is the blue symbolic in some way? Do I own too many pairs of jeans? Am I wimping out? What would Freud say?
(Vell now, let us konsider vat you are sayink. You prefer zee ozer colourz but you deliberately deprive yourzelf of zees tings dat give you pleasure. You are angry wiz your fazer? You need punish yourself for somtink? What does your mozer tink of blue? Let us examine also why your laundry is undone.)
2. This tank is boring me to death. Ok, fine, near death. I can feel my life force slipping away as I work each monotonous ribby endless row...it is only my deep belief that I will win the ongoing war with the splitty yarn that keeps me hanging in there. (It is an interesting twist of fate that the needles appear pink in this photo, when they are, in fact...you guessed it, blue)
I can't wait to get to the front, at least then the cables will prop up my will to live. This brings us to the second question. Anybody else notice that I'm knitting pretty simple stuff these days? Is it just me? I feel like my knitting lacks...zip or something.
What I need is Daredevil knitting. Something wild and dangerous, something with real hazard, like huge gaping steeks, or reams of lace knit from the finest wool I can find...or maybe a sweater with an insane chart, screw that, how about like Four charts, yeah! Four charts with tiny little squares and parts where the instructions are vague and it's do or die baby. Some pattern that takes real gumption, something I can get behind. A pattern that takes guts.
It may be (gak) time for another Starmore, or something like THIS. (I got woozy when I looked at that. I've wanted it for so long).
Suggestions for breaking out of my knitting blue funk are graciously accepted.
Samina asks which mag my new cabled tank is in, why it's Vogue Knitting spring/summer '02, (you know, the one with the blue sweater on the front.) but do me a favour, knit it out of something orange, will ya?
This weekend marks the traditional beginning of the Canadian summer. Victoria Day is the traditional open your cottage, bbq in the backyard and drink beer in the garden weekend. It is also Toronto's safe planting date, the risk of frost is past. (This celebratory weekend was of course the planets opportunity to have a good laugh by besetting us with rain of biblical proportions and coming as close as possible to frost without actually having a frost.) Despite the nasty weather today is a National Holiday, and we are celebrating with a new tank top.
What you can see in this picture is that it's just about exactly what I wanted. The armholes armseye armscye armholes are perfection, and the decolletage is good. My bra straps don't show (as an aside, I want you all to know that I went on a special hunt for it, just for this picture) and it fits really nicely. The only thing that I wish I had done differently was to put a little more shaping in the waist. I don't know why I persist in thinking I'm shaped like a tree trunk. Admittedly, my 30-something, post-3-baby body isn't what it used to be, but I could take a waist measurement instead of somehow assuming that I go straight from hip to bust.
What you can't see in this picture is that I am wearing an uncomfortably clammy, damp tank top, (in the cold) since I couldn't wait for it to dry to get a blog picture. (Must feed the blog...must not come empty to the blog) This could have something to do with why I look so miserable despite my sincere and enduring love for the tank top. Oh..and for those of you who asked why my stitches are so lovely and even despite knitting with a foul ribbon yarn, I give you these choices, you can pick which you think it is:
1. Miami is not the flattest of ribbons. This slight roundishness may improve stitch evenness.
2. I am knitting at a slightly tighter gauge than suggested. This firm fabric leaves stitches less room to screw around.
3. These are pretty crappy pictures. The stitches are just as twisty and annoying as any other ribbon.
4. I am a knitting goddess. I have magic powers of non-twistyness over ribbon yarn and never suffer as other knitters do.
Despite having a bizarre amount of work to do (really...like 50 hour weeks) plus the kids and the house (and my blog mistress) as well as having promised two sweaters for gifts, I somehow decided that what I should really do with my evening last night was start a new tank.
This yarn (cotton twist) is driving me nuts. It's a pretty thing, but it's beauty may not be enough to convince me to look the other way about it's evil splitting ways.
This yarn and I may be splitsville.
I love having a blog. Up until yesterday when I got Vicki's comment I was just an ordinary knitter having trouble with a lowly armhole. Now, I am engineering an "Armseye"
This was motivating. How hard are you going to work to make a mundane, pedestrian armhole? Now an armseye, that's an accomplishment. How sophisticated, how chic, how clever is a woman who knits an armseye?
I followed the smart and funny directions given to me by Vicki (go read 'em if you didn't, the woman knows her way around an armhole armseye), combined it with Rana and Anne's suggestions to use a garment that I like already and came up with this.
There is no way of knowing if this is right, but it looks like an armhole armseye to me, and that's half the battle. (Bonus points to Rams for reminding me that "attitude is everything") It's only knitting right? I mean, if it doesn't cover my..er.."foreground", I'll just do it over. (I'll still be bitter about it though)
..and Jon? The Harlot does not use lifelines. Ever. I take my knitting destiny in my hands. I live on the edge. I frog, tink and pick up stitches with wild abandon and no concern for the consequences. Lifelines are for the meek. (For the record, I've also given up cable needles and stitch markers. What's life without a little danger?)
Finally, Kathy mentions that the dairy Queen here in Ontario sells Poutine. Diana asks "What's Poutine?" Poutine (peau-tin) is a Quebecois heart-stopping culinary masterpiece.
French fries topped with fresh cheddar cheese curds and gravy. If is a little known fact that if you pay very close attention while you are eating it, you can actually feel your heart slow down.
Poutine has spread far from Quebec and can now be purchased not just in Dairy Queen but McDonalds, Burger King, and Harveys and can be found from Vancouver to Nunavut to St. Johns. Poutine has (on average) 60 g of fat and 700 calories.
It is a National Identity food for Canadians.
(Note for my fellow Canadians: Remember when Rick Mercer convinced George W. Bush to accept the endorsement of our Prime Minister "Jean Poutine"?)
(Note to Americans: Our Prime Ministers name was "Jean Chrétien")
(Note to Everybody: What made it so funny was that George accepted the endorsement)
This is a classic Stephaniesque moment. I've reached the armhole of the tank, and as I was about to begin it, I realized that I have no idea what I'm doing. None.
I thought that I would simply cast off the right number of stitches in the correct place then decrease in an appropriate curve until the armhole was deep enough and wide enough. Good plan eh? What was I thinking? The "right" number? The "correct" place? What did I think? That this mystic information would come to me in a dream? That upon reaching the armhole I would be suddenly filled with the cosmic armhole knowledge that I lack? I have sat very quietly with the tank in my hands for some time, but the answer hasn't come to me. This can't be how design works. I bet this never happens to Bonne Marie, I bet she was born knowing. I bet that when she gets to an armhole it all just feels right.
The options as I see them are as follows.
1. Just try it. (I don't know what "it" is, but maybe the vague armhole voodoo will spring fully formed into my mind as I knit.) This plan also involves me reaching deeply within myself for the acceptance that this will include a lot of frogging.
2. Scrounge around the house for a pattern that has an armhole like the one that exists in the recesses of my mind and try to somehow extrapolate that into something that would work on my tank. (To make this one work I have to forget the fact that there was no tank pattern with the right thing going on or I would have knit that and avoided this whole thing.)
3. Go drive around in Ken's zippy new car that he loaned me while he's away. (This might not help, but it would be fun)
4. Appeal to the knitters who read this blog to impart the principles of armhole enlightenment.
5. Shove the tank into the bottom of the knitting basket and spin this. (More fleece artist. You didn't think I just got what I showed you yesterday, did you?)
Yesterday, after publicly humiliating myself on this blog, I walked the green (doesn't "green" seem like to mild a word?) sweater to the donation box, got myself on the bus and went downtown to meet Kathy (of the comments) and her friend Nadine while they were in town for a visit to Koigu.
I didn't tell you all ahead of time because I figured that if we hated each other, we could just forget that it had ever happened and nobody would ever have to know. Turns out, Kathy and Nadine are a whole lot of fun. Clever, nice, funny...these ladies had it going on. We lunched downtown, then jumped in a cab and went to Romni. Romni is a huge wool store and they have tons of stuff. (Really, tons. I mean if you aren't prepared for it you can be a little overwhelmed. Me, I have a high resistance to wool, so I do ok...but some new knitters might get a little woozy. Just put your head between your knees and don't look at the cashmere and you'll be ok) We made a beeline for the Fleece Artist stuff, and in the interest of leaving you with the impression that Kathy and Nadine are women of restraint and decorum, we shall not discuss any further details of that trip. Suffice it to say that they have excellent taste, lovely manners, wickedly sharp senses of humour and I'd spend time with them any way I could get it. (They went to Koigu today and they said I could go with them but I have a stupid *job*. I cannot tell you of the deep and bitter pain that I feel when I think of them being there without me.
I may have bought a little fibre at Romni, but stuck exclusively to the Canadian wools theme that Kathy had going on and just got me a little fleece artist.
This is their sock yarn. Hand dyed merino. I have no idea why my camera is refusing to recognize the actual colours present in this yarn, but for starters, the actual orange in the yarn is a lovely burnt orange sort of colour, with olive undertones. Not Day-glo/tang/preventing hunting accidents in the woods/ orange.
This is kid mohair roving. Be still my heart.
I tried really, really hard to demonstrate some sort of fidelity to the socks, or the tank, or the cardie (oh...yeah. I started another cardie. It's boring, you don't care) but I sort of accidentally spun up some of the roving.
I think it's sort of interesting that I bought such colourful stuff, I'm usually a little more restrained. (Green sweater from yesterday duly noted, but you can't hold that against me. I was young, I was foolish, I was clearly not getting enough of some kind of vitamin.) I think it's the by-product of shopping with Kathy, who has great taste in colour and isn't afraid to go nuts with it. Who knew that I was this suggestible? (Shut up Ken.)
I love every single inch of it all.
Do you know that for weeks now, I've been traipsing out to my front garden each morning with an armload of knitting, fibre and yarn, then carefully positioning it all in amongst my plants, crawling around in the garden for good vantage points, and taking pictures of it, and not one of my neighbours (I'm in the garden right against the sidewalk. People are literally passing within inches of me and my sweaters in the bushes...inches. I live in a busy urban neighbourhood too, lots of people passing by.) not one person has asked me what the hell I'm doing? Just thought I'd mention that.
Before I show you anything today, I feel like I should direct a personal note of explanation to Ryan.
Ryan, I want you to know that I'm very much enjoying your Dublin Bay sock pattern. I really love it. It is perfection in and of itself. I have no idea then, why I was compelled to bastardize, modify, personalize the design a little. I have a disease. I am incapable of knitting a pattern all the way through without changing something. Even if, and I stress this, even if there is absolutely nothing lacking in the pattern. I have modified the likes of Alice Starmore (who's sweaters tend to be a little wide...no offence intended) and The Dale of Norway Team (who had me confused with some knitter who does duplicate stitch). I am an equal opportunity despoiler and I am sorry. I would tell you that I'll try to stop, but I'd be lying. Let's not have that between us.
Now, on to todays picture of the corrupted sock.
As you can (probably not) see, I have decided that the pattern should continue down either side of the foot from the leg pattern. Since I've accepted that I was out of my mind when I planned these for my brother and have consequently adapted my recipient plan, I see no reason to minimize what I can now freely refer to as "lace" rather than the more masculine "openwork". I like the continuity of keeping the pattern going down the foot, not that (and again I stress this) not that the pattern was not indefectible, masterful and sublime before I ruined it.
Speaking of my remarkable ability to ruin a piece of knitting. Beth asked yesterday for a picture of the Michelin Man sweater. I have decided to go along with this, but only because Claudia did. (Here, April 7th)
Without further ado I give you the Michelin sweater. Is this not the most attractive sweater in the world?
You will note that while my actual bust is 36", I have inexplicably chosen a 52" bust for this sweater (oversize was in...what can I tell you). Similarly, the hips far exceed my own. The colour is..well, it was on sale. The sweater is so heavy that I am shorter when I wear it. I have no excuse. What was I thinking? In my defence I can only tell you that my children were very little and I was badly sleep deprived. The real mystery would be why it is still in my closet when it possess no redeeming qualities. (Well, it's warm actually. If there is ever a blizzard and the heat goes out I could gather my entire family under it's bulletproof, huge, green wardship.)
Finally, I have not been cowardly and cut off my head in the photo, but I do want you to know that this picture was taken early, and by a child, and I had not done any er..."improvements". (Like, say...brushing my hair, drinking coffee or putting on a smidge of lipstick). I am, in reality far more attractive than I appear here, and way taller and thinner than I look. Also, in my real life I am not wearing that sweater. That should help.
I'm here. I feel like I barely escaped the weekend with my life, but I'm here. Team Harlot and it's associated members attended a grand total of 5 (five) parties this weekend, survived a scary blow to the head that Sam took at party 3 (she's just fine, but has a dramatic black eye), and successfully launched Joe on a wilderness camping/canoeing/portaging/ picture taking trip to Algonquin Provincial Park. It confuses me still that the man can look at me wrapping presents in the kitchen and somehow think that I have a package of waterproof matches, his dry bags or the camp stove on my person. Joe claims, of course, that he didn't really think that I "had" the camping stuff on me, but he's lying. Why else would someone follow you around the house asking for it?
The sweater didn't get finished in time for party #2, but it was knit on at parties 3 and 4 and before attending party 5 on Sunday, it was delivered to the birthday boy.
I think Max likes his new sweater...
but he may be sort of neutral about the hood.
Last night I celebrated not being at a party by digging up the ribbon tank. (I did find more of the ribbon, same dye lot too. I stood in the store just stunned. That never happens to me. I'd be the lady with all the striped sweaters).
A couple of weeks ago when I realized that I was going to run out of yarn I put the stitches on to a piece of yarn so I could try it on and figure out if it was worth beginning a yarn search. I have concerns about making and wearing stuff at this gauge (16 stitches to 10cm) I have this feeling that chunky knits tend to make the wearer look, well...chunky. I was thinking that if I was knitting the world's ugliest tank that I wouldn't be able to bear the irony of spending hours searching Toronto and the world for more yarn just to knit something that made me look like a discus thrower. (Someday I'll show you the sweater that taught me this lesson. I call it the "michelin man" sweater. It's an abomination on the earth)
The tank seems ok, but when I went to put the knitting back on needles last night I couldn't for the life of me remember what needles I was using. A clever knitter would have written what needles she was using on her pattern. A thoughtful knitter would have put the needle into the bag with the tank. A less tidy knitter (and I really thought I was one of those) would have still had the needle on the coffee table even though it has been 2 weeks. In a very un-harlotty move, the needle had been tidied into my drawer of circular needles with it's tangled brothers and sisters. What's a knitter to do? I may not be clever or thoughtful, but I am blogging...I went back to my previous entry about the tank, looked closely at the needles (reason #16 why coloured needles are just neat) and bob's yer uncle. I'm discovering the advantages of blogging all the time.
The party that this is a gift for is in an hour. I dunno...
I'm starting to think that I might not make it. I need to finish the hood, sew up the seams and install a zipper.
I've been thinking a lot about a comment that Chris made. She said "I always love to read the trials and tribulations of the harlot knitting to a crazed, self-imposed deadline." Now that's not just funny, it's thought provoking.
1. What do you think it is that makes it seem reasonable at the time? I mean if it's clear to Chris that I'm about to send myself into a knitting spiral of disaster and insanity...how come I can't see it? What about "I think I'll knit a sweater in three days" doesn't sound just a little whacked to me? I retrospect, I swear that I just thought it would be a little "intensive". I just thought I would have to apply myself. Where did I think my children/job/husband were going? Who did I think would do the laundry? When did I decide that I was no longer a mere mortal but a knitting machine with no need for sleep or food?
2. One good thing about this yarn is that when I was knitting at 2 am, desperately trying to pick up the stitches for the hood (what stitches? I swear to all that is woollen that if anybody proves to me they can see "stitches" I'll give them a dollar) and I suddenly realized that I had hit the wall, my vision was going and my eyes were blurry with exhaustion....I didn't have to stop. That's a plus.
3. Beer is not a help.
Thursday night I took the blurry sweater to Amanda's music night. (Once again, I have circled the indistinct blob that is my child, I can't help myself)
She got a featured part in "The Entrance of the Queen of Sheba" (scroll down to "Disk one, track one") and as I sat in the audience listening to her play I was virtually speechless. Amanda's musical ability floors me at the best of times, it's like watching her do an incredible magic trick, but this was stunning. When she first started playing the violin she sucked. I love the kid but I feel a little queasy when I think of the first couple of years, they took parental fortitude. The third year she was "pretty good" and we've hovered between "actually good" and "darned good" for the last couple of years. Thursday she made some kind of huge leap to "beautiful."
There is something about seeing your teenager play in an orchestra that is enormously reassuring. It's just so stunning and civilized that it's almost impossible to reconcile the young woman on the stage with the mouthy kid who broke curfew the day before. Even though she has blue stripes in her hair, as she draws the bow across the instrument all I can think is that it's going to be all right. All the worry, angst and concern I have for this teenager slipped away, if only for 3 minutes.
If she can do this incredible thing, and do it so well... I can't believe that she could grow up to be a bad person. I really think she's going to work out.
It was so good that I put down my knitting to listen, which brings us right back to the sweater not being finished. If you only had an hour...what would you do?
This snowflake yarn is cracking me up. It's a complete hoot. Who ever wrote the pattern is hysterical too...I mean I'm *this* close to calling Sirdar and finding out who writes the snowflake patterns just so I can have them over for a beer. I bet they're more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. (By the way...has anybody ever checked to see if a barrel full of monkeys is actually fun?)
Look at this.
One of those is the front, the other...the reverse, how many rows, or at what gauge is part of the hilarity of snowflake. Now here's the funny part (I know, you're laughing already). The instructions actually say things like "with right side facing" ...get it? The rapier wit? Who would know what the right side is? How could you tell? My face hurts from smiling. Check this one "Keeping continuity of pattern" There's a pattern! See what I mean? It's irony, the highest form of comedy, balanced yet unreconciled opposites. The writer asks you to keep the continuity of the pattern to achieve success, yet there the pattern is obscured from us . I would never expect a knitting pattern to be such a fountain of literary example. How about "pick up and knit 12 sts evenly along side of neck"! Classic! irony, incongruity, absurdity, surrealism.... all classic forms of humour. What a gas!
I just sat here last night laughing out loud as I knit.
That's the back and most of a sleeve. I knit them out of order because I find sleeves depressing. I know I'm not alone. If I don't do this I knit vests. That probably wouldn't be the case with this sweater though, I mean, really...I just want the laughter to never die.
I'm leaving now, despite the very big fun that is to be had in my very own knitting chair, I'm going on a hunt for more of the tank yarn. I doubt that's going to be as funny, but what the heck. When I get back, I'm going to rip my entire house apart, inch by inch because it's been a week and I still can't find Sam's glasses. I've looked in all the normal places, I've looked in all the abnormal places. I've moved furniture, looked down the cracks in the couch, in the laundry basket beside Sam's bed. I've just about lost my mind trying to find them. I'm delirious. I'm starting to be obsessed. No matter where I go or what I do in the house I'm looking for the glasses. They have to be here somewhere. Any ideas?
From time to time, say...every day, someone tells me that I'm "crazy". Now, for the most part I figure that they don't actually mean "crazy" like "gosh I hope she gets some help", but more like.."oh that crazy Steph". People still let me babysit and everything. I am unaffected by their words. I know I'm sane.
Today though, Joe points out that I may be a little "off".
Proof the first.
This picture very accurately captures the colours of the Dublin Bay sock. I took this picture and said to Joe "look how pretty the purple and mauve is... I'm so glad I'm getting Ian's present done". Joe just looked at me. I looked back. What? Joe stared me down. When I simply started back quizzically, Joe's face moved from blank to incredulous.
"Are you serious?" he asked. (I thought about that for a minute. That question is usually a tip off that the asker thinks the answer should be "no". )
"Yeah" I replied. Why on earth wouldn't I be happy about getting ahead on Christmas? For crying out loud I get lectures on this very topic. He says "Why don't you start earlier" "Why do you do this to yourself" "Why are you crying again" Here I am trying to pull it together so that we can all be spared the parade of woes and dude's on my case?
"Steph" he says gently, " you're out of your mind honey, you're crazy. You've been working too much or something"
"What?" (I'm really confused)
"Let's just string these few words together ok?" (I must be missing something because he's talking sort of slowly to me)
" Ian...hockey...beer...power tools...pretty mauve socks"
Proof the second
I'm going to knit this by Saturday. I really believe that. Off I tell you. I'm a little off.
The joy that surrounds me today is palpable. I'm surprised that people walking down the street don't stop dead in their tracks, stunned by the obvious halo of happiness around my head...then again, it's a little humid, maybe they just are confused by my enormo-hair. (My hair responds famously to moisture. What are usually unruly long curls become country singer hair the minute the planet damps a little. I have been experimenting with various de-frizzing products for for the last 2 decades with no luck and have finally accepted that my hair is a creature of it's own destiny...clearly on a path separate from my own).
There are several reasons to be absolutely happy enough to dance in public today. ( I have just corrected the typo...until mere moments ago that read "dance in pubic". Wonder how many people saw that....clearly I need "stupid check" not "spell check")
1. There is a new section in the sidebar called "free patterns" Yup. Free. The Snowdrop Shawl pattern is yours for the having, though it comes with fair warning. It has not, I repeat NOT been test knit. If you find trouble I'll help bail you out, (my email address is on the pdf). You should probably know that there is absolutely no guarantee that I won't laugh about your knitterly suffering, even if it is completely my fault. (Sorry...I'll try to keep it to a minimum) I feel like a heroine for making the pattern. I've been engaged in a vicious battle of wills with Excel for weeks to make the charts. I was actually reduced to tears by it, and your local harlot is not a tearful woman. It was only the words of the Curmudgeon that kept me going. She wrote that she draws in the little Excel squares to chart knitting all the time. I admit that I enjoy a good conspiracy theory as much as the next girl, but even I found it hard to believe that she would say that for the laughs she would get knowing that I was sitting here trying. (I feel compelled to admit that it was only because there was no way she would know what I was trying to do that I was able to let go of the idea that it was some kind of a plot) Today, victory is mine.
2. The sun is shining. These are my shoes today.
This is truly reason to believe that winter is over. I know...nothing is for sure. I can hear all the other Ontarians saying "I can't believe she said that" and trudging back to the basement for their boots. Forgive me, but today I believe. (Err....while you're in the basement you might want to get your shovel, I'm taking my shorts out of storage today)
3. Even though Sheila is a much better spinner than I am, I tried to spin laceweight as fine as hers. While normally, this would have been an opportunity for the planet to mock me and remind me of my place in the world, inexplicably I was allowed to spin without incident. The resulting mohair/ merino singles do not suck. Again, victory is mine.
4. Ken loaned me his laptop for the duration of the Really Big Job that I got, (All hail the RBJ, well, and hail Ken too) and then he made it all "wireless". This means that me, my shoes and the nice weather can be as one without having to abandon the job and incur self-esteem damaging guilt for sitting in the sun when I should be working. (I would too. I would absolutely leave the work and go outside. I would feel terrible about it, but I would go.)
I can't think of a darned thing that could take the glow of this day. (I know. I'm just begging for the planet to give me an illustrative experience. "Here Steph, take this. This is what could take the glow off your day", but the sun is still shining, my shoes are still good, and somewhere in the world the person responsible for this sort of thing put my name on the list of people who have beaten Excel.
Finally, for the person who found this site by searching google for "How to be a Harlot", how surprised are you?
Happy belated Mothers day to all who survived it. It went pretty well over here, Joe gave me a beautiful handmade necklace and a gift certificate for the yarn shop, and the children gave me my favourite present...services. This is a gift that's given often in our house, these little coupons for things that the recipient would want. Joe has many that I've given him...I'm not sure what he's saving them for, but it's going to be a hell of a weekend sometime.
Some of the ones that I got are lovely for me personally, but not blog worthy. ("Blog Worthy" is a new expression around here. We've started saying things like, "yeah it's interesting, but is it Blog Worthy?") and then there were these:
This one from Amanada, my almost 15 year old. (It would have to come from a teen wouldn't it?)
I think this gift tells you a little something about what our mornings are usually like. I have no idea when to use it, it seems like such a powerful wild-card that I can scarcely bring myself to hold it. Amanda also gave me one promising to knit a washcloth. Given the loathing that my eldest currently holds for knitting, and all it stands for (I think that would be me) this is a real expression of love. I'm not going to cash it in. I'm just going to keep it, so that every time we have one of those mother-teenager meltdowns (about necklines, curfews or lipstick) I'll have it to clutch quietly in my fist as private proof that she loves me and that we will both survive her adolescence.
Megan gave me these. (among others)
I have some reservations about the "blog story" one. I'm torn between just giving it to her and seeing what happens, or having a little motherly sit down with her and finding out what she plans to do to give me a "blog story". The brainchild behind the voodoo dolls, Megan possesses an unusually quirky and dangerous brand of imagination. Don't get me wrong....all of my kids are creative, (and dangerous, actually) but Meg is a little, er...."darker" about it, and if the life we've been living over here has been "blog worthy" without her even trying? Well I shudder to think what a special effort would look like.
Sam's are forthcoming. (I've often said that the trouble with mothers day is that it's planned by men and children. You have to accept that it doesn't always have the co-ordination of fathers day. It's part of its charm.)
Yesterday marked the return of the Dublin Bay socks. These didn't work out in the Yarn That Shall Not Be Named, but are looking really dandy in the Confetti sock yarn. I'm trying to get a jump on Christmas. Every year I swear things are going to be different, that I'm going to plan ahead. Well look at me, it's May and there's a Christmas sock on the needles. That's right. Score: Harlot .20 (that's how much of the pair of socks is done) Christmas: 0
I grant you, that's not much of a lead, but it's a lead.
I'm still working on the blog surprise, but I'm unfortunately engaged in a battle with technology that I'm not winning at the moment. I've called in reinforcements, and I expect that things will start to improve as soon as Ken has time to bail me out of my latest mess.
Like, tomorrow maybe. Don't be too excited either, it's not like, cake or anything.
Finally I share with you my conversation with Meg last night.
Mom: Meg, time to put down the knitting and go to sleep.
Meg: Mummy, this shawl isn't going very fast. I wish there was some way to make it faster. Maybe you could help me? Just a few courtesy rows?
I laughed out loud. Courtesy rows?
Well the tank turned on me. It had to happen, there's no way that I could curse this much at it and not have it begin to think up a plan to exact it's revenge. Yarn can be bitter like that. I fear that I have offended the tank by using colourful language to describe the tendency of the ribbon yarn to twist up into a tangled mess kinkier than the Marquis De Sade's birthday party.
I've tried several strategies. Taking the yarn from the inside, from the outside, tensioning my yarn differently, putting the yarn on my lazy kate....nothing works. It's got to be something in the action my knitting that's doing it. I've resorted to waiting until I can't stand it anymore, then dangling the knitting so the twist can spin out. Joe and the children find this entertaining. I do not. To enliven it a little, I've been saying foul things to the yarn, and it's becoming pretty clear that the tank is taking this personally. How you ask? How? Well, it's like this. I love the tank. It looks pretty cool, it seems like it will fit really well, I put the decreases in exactly the right spots and aside from the twisting ribbon thing I like how the yarn looks and feels made up.
The revenge part? I've used more than half of the yarn, and I am not yet halfway done. Yup. The perfect retaliation. I love the tank, yet it will never be mine. Classic.
I'm going to go on a hunt for more over the weekend, but I'm not hopeful. The only thing to do at this point is let go and move on. I'm picking up the edging stitches for the Eeyore blanket, I'm not even counting, let's just say that there are a fair number. I'm overwhelmed with the excitement.
I'm thinking about devising a mother's day blog surprise. Speaking of mother's day, as a public service I've decided to share a few tips that I've worked out over the years, just a few little things I wish they taught in the public school system.
#1. If your mother has to scrub the kitchen for 3 hours after you make her "present", that's not a very good present.
#2. Don't ask your mom for the money to buy her a gift. Not even (and I stress this, because I understand that for the adolescent this can be a difficult concept) Not even, if it is only going to be a "loan".
#3. Not everyone enjoys breakfast in bed. Even if they do enjoy breakfast in bed, most mothers would like it if most children didn't think that getting up to pee "ruins the whole thing". I promise that if you let us go to the bathroom we will go right back to bed and continue to feign sleep even if we smell smoke or if we overhear your sister say "I'm so telling mom that fell in her food".
It's turning out to be a really good week to be a mother. I mean, there's still a lot of laundry, I'd really like to know what made the coffee table so sticky overnight and if anybody has any idea where Sam's glasses might be I'd be thrilled, but overall...this week it's a nifty gig. (Yeah, I know. These moments in motherhood are really just filling me up with warm emotions and good memories of my daughters, so that I'll actually go post bail when the police call a couple of years from now. I understand what's going on, I'm just choosing the happy path of denial.)
I put a little circle around Sam. I realize that not even one of you gives a whit about which one of those fuzzy blobs is my child, but I'm still pretty happy about my kids doing nice, wholesome things...like knitting, singing in the choir and going to baseball games. The whole of Team Harlot (man...we should get tee-shirts) went to the game. Ken knit
and my super-fun brother Ian and his lovely wife Ali drank beer in a supportive fashion. (Hey...everybody has a skill.) This brings us to today's topic. What do you believe that people think about you when you knit in public? What assumptions do they make about your personality, values or politics? How do you think this is related to your gender?
I think that when I knit in public I'm usually viewed as someone who's clean living, conservative and generally a "good girl". Little old men who don't speak English are drawn to me and smile at my knitting and pat my arm and try to introduce me to their sons. Other women sometimes want to talk to me about being "counter-feminist". (Here's a funny thing, both of those generalizations about me make me want to knit pasties and a thong, just to shake everybody up.)
Now when Ken knits in public, I think people think several things about him (it is worth noting that Ken thinks differently, I'm sure he'll pipe up). I think they assume he is gay. Men think they could take him in a fight, and women, well, here is where Ken and I part ways, I think that women find it an attractive quality. (Not sexually attractive, since they think he's gay for knitting too) but attractive in a friendly sort of way, like "Oh what a sensitive, lovely, artistic man."
Let's sum up. For the record, Ken and I are in the same age bracket, and possess a similar "hipness" factor. (Give it up Ken, I'm at least as cool as you)
Stephanie knitting in public = conservative, good marriage material, traditional, anti-feminist, probably boring.
Ken knitting in public = liberal, terrible marriage material (except in Canada and a couple of states), absolutely non-traditional, open-minded and artistic.
Clearly, I'm generalizing, the world is filled with people who assume nothing based on your gender, sexuality or hobby...and by far and away, those are the people I meet. All I'm saying is that when I do run into somebody whose interested in stereotyping us knitters by gender...this has been my experience. Your milage may vary, especially according to where you live and what you have pierced.
All right, now that I'm not being outshone by my own offspring, let's talk tank tops. Nathania, the current Queen of the Tank Top wants details about my tank. Ask, and ye shall receive. (Also, I have absolutely nothing else to talk about. Wait, that's not completely true. I washed the kitchen floor. Trust me, that's noteworthy)
Some time ago (like in the last couple of years) I saw a tank pattern that I really liked, because I am me, and the universe is like it is, this tank pattern is now gone. Completely gone. I have looked online everywhere I ever think I've been, searched google, stayed up half the night looking in my books and searching magazines. It is not here. I have been through all of these and swatched half of them. If I added up all the swatches I bet I would have already knit four tanks.
I've actually started to believe that in my search for the perfect tank top I may have hallucinated it...all because I don't want to believe that the perfect tank can't be out there.
I'm a little tank picky. The perfect tank has the following characteristics.
- It has no fancy flouncy dumbass girly stuff. (What falls into this category varies with my mood)
-I don't know where my bra is right now. This is common. A tank must be opaque enough to cope with this. (This rules lace over the bust right out)
-If I find my bra, I don't want anyone to see it. Not even the straps. I know that there are those who feel that it is ok, or even desirable to display ones bra straps, but I am unmoved. (I suspect that if I had a collection of sexy co-ordinating bras I might feel differently, but I spent my bra money on wool. Screw it)
-My breasts, unfettered or not, are simply not comfortable with public office. Therefore, no plunging necklines.
In the end I gave up and made one up. Or ...I'm making it up as I go.
The tank and pattern (if you could call it that, ignore the placket thingie on the neck, I abandoned it) are resting on the new Ram Wools catalogue. It does not have the perfect tank in it either, just so you know.
This tank is a tunic sort of thing, with a split at the sides, a shaped waist (I don't have one, but I like knitting them into my clothes, it makes me feel better) and a square neck, edged by the same seed stitch that I started with. I think it's going to make the cut.
In other news, today I will continue my insane search for a plain white t-shirt for Sam to wear to a choir thing tonight. I am surprised that out of the 5 people living in this home not one of us has a stinking plain white t-shirt, (Joe says we have dark souls) and further shocked that I apparently can't get one within a 5km radius of my home. I'm going to have to actually go downtown to get a plain white t-shirt. I've had some glimmers of hope , where I spot one on a rack and get all excited only to discover that I'm looking at the back and the front has "My face is up here" written on it.
The vicious irony of the whole epic search for this *&^%$@ t-shirt is that I have it on reasonably good authority that the choir director picked it because everybody has one.
A while ago my charming and ever so polite, soft-spoken and average in every way daughter Meg came up to me while I was knitting.
Meg: Mom, I was thinking about knitting some kind of, like, rocker chick like grunge wrist thingie?
(Holy Crap, I love it when my kids knit, and now Meg is suggesting that she design her own stuff! At 12! This is like discovering that in her spare time your 10 year old has been studying university level literature. There are full grown knitters who don't do that. I'm just so full of motherly pride that it's all I can do to not leap up and hug her. It's good that I can resist, because Meg is way too cool to be hugged. I restrain myself and try to look like I don't care. Parenting rule #14 says that you can't let your teenaged daughter see that you like her plan or she will change it. I feign indifference, I remain seated.)
(Like that? Smooth eh? Cool as a freakin' cucumber that's what)
Meg: Yeah, like gloves but with no fingerholes, just a thumb hole or something. You know, like, cool.
Me: Sure...I know what you mean. First you are going to need a tape measure. Then you need to knit a little swatch, then measure your gauge and your wrist and see how many stitches you need to cast on for your wrist. Come see mummy if that's too hard. Once you have that figured out come back and I'll show you how to work double pointed needles. Don't be worried, they are very easy. I'll help you figure out how to make a gusset for your thumb....do you remember how to increase? Maybe I should find you that book, never mind the book...mum will help you. Come sit by me.
(Not bad...not bad. A little too much enthusiasm, I did screw up and say "mummy", I've got to remember to stick to "Mum", otherwise they think I'm talking to them like a baby. Overall, I think it was ok. Inviting, not overwhelming...instructive but respectful. Yeah...I think I'm good)
Meg: Actually Mum....if you could just give me the wool...
The child took the wool, disappeared and came back with... Meg-rock-chic-grunge-wrist-thingies.
We are not worthy.
My child executed the following knitting manoeuvres, with no assistance from anyone, she just figured it out. She cast on, worked in rounds with double pointed needles, (having determined that a circular would not work, and why) worked paired increases to make a gusset, cast off for the thumb hole, picked up stitches around the hole for the palm and cast off. For bonus round points, she backstitched the words "Rock On" on it.
I can barely speak. It turns out that if you immerse a child in wool for 12 years they pick up a thing or two. Who knew?
I on the other hand, have started a tank top. After Megs' masterpiece, who cares.
I was here this weekend. "Where else would you be Mom?" asked Sam. You know you gotta get out a little more when your kids really can't imagine that you have anything better to do than fulfill their lives, do their laundry and knit them socks.
Where else would I be? "Maryland, Sam...I should be in Maryland." I had me the most serious case of festival envy this weekend, and feel that in the interest of honesty I must confess that I spent much of the weekend planning my escape. It turns out that there were several things coming between me and skipping town to Maryland.
1. I have no money. I usually don't let this stop me, as it has been my experience that a minor cash shortage can often be overcome with creativity. This weekend, the only quick cash plan I could come up with was to sell Sam's socks. Unfortunately I didn't come up with that plan until I'd already given them to Sam, and I remain above ripping the socks off small children to make some quick cash. I may not have been above ripping the socks off Sam if I thought I could find some other 10 year old who would pay $500 for a pair of striped socks.
2. The consequences under Canadian law for Child Abandonment are quite stiff. I'm not sure that there is anything at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival that is worth doing time for. (For the love of my children...don't tell me if that's not true)
3. I'm sure that there was no wool that I would have liked. I have lots anyway. It's not like I would have bought anything even if I was there.
(What's wrong with a little good old-fashioned repression?)
4. I realized that I don't know where Maryland is. South, right?
5. Joe says (after we look at the map) that it is about 550 km (350 miles) to Maryland. Since we don't have a car, it would take me about 7 days to ride my bike there. (Possibly longer, since there seem to be some largish mountains on the way) I don't mind that... but I'm going to need to start planning my escape way sooner next year.
Claudia says I should go to Rhinebeck in the fall. I wonder where Rhinebeck is?
In the end, I decided that I would stay here, but finish the intarsia panel of the Eeyore blanket as an appropriate statement.
Infer what you will.
My blog neighbour Kate's husband made a Maryland Sheep and Wool bingo game. Go play. If like me, you didn't go, I suggest making up enough stuff that you can at least win the damn bingo game. It's small comfort, but comfort none the less.