June 30, 2004

Hey sailor

Attention: This photograph was carefully staged. First I stood in this position, then the tank top was arranged (by Megan, who reminded me that this was absolutely not going to work if I couldn't concentrate and advised me that the tank top may not be the right size.) to cover my rack in an artful way, then I held my breath. If I breathe, move or attempt to live a life in any sort of way that is not desperately centred around keeping my rack covered, It is not covered.

harlot(Yes the picture is a little fuzzy, Megan's focussing ability leaves a little to be desired, although in this case I'm ok with you all being a little sketchy on the details, Well, honestly it isn't you. It's some sweaty guy named Buzzy in a trailer park somewhere with a high-speed hookup, a 12 pack of Miller and....well, let's just leave it at that)


Since I am exactly the kind of careless woman who is going to breathe, move or drink coffee, and since this is exactly the kind of tank top that is then going to then dump my breasts into public view, A Plan has been formulated. I'm going to frog back to the solid bit before the cups start, do a little more solid stuff so that the vee doesn't plunge quite to mid thigh and then stop decreasing sooner and make wider straps.
If that doesn't help enough, then as Jenifleur pointed out, at least I may have found a way to make more yarn money. (Actually, I find it sort of reassuring that I may have found something that I will not do to get yarn. Who knew?)

Tuesdays are for spinning was observed with the spinning of the third bobbin, and the plying of the first (be still my heart) 300 metres of yarn for the G4 project. All hail the mighty spinster, for she has made three ply and did not utter foul words , imbue the yarn with bitter invective or abandon said G4 project and claim that she was never going to spin for a stupid gansey anyway. I am in love with the finished yarn.

300g4
Total hours spent on G4: 23

farmsocks
The Dublin Bay Socks (DBS) are continuing their exciting tour of Toronto. Last night they enjoyed the pleasures of Riverdale Farm. The socks didn't say much about the farm, but I know they had a good time because this morning they were already bugging me about where we were going today. Like I don't get enough pressure.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:18 PM

June 29, 2004

Who's that hussy?

Well look at this. It's an almost finished Mango tank. Theoretically speaking, all it needs is ribbon, lucet cord or crocheted lace. I say "theoretically" because last night, when I was sort of putting it on to measure the strap length, I got a little bit of a surprise.

hussy

The surprise is that this tank top is er, a little revealing. So revealing in fact that I can't believe that I worried about whether or not the slit in the bottom would show my belly. My belly, my friends is the least of the problem, or problems (plural). The rather shocking development would be that this tank top shows so much of the rack that while I am wearing it, I look for all the world like the only hooker in Toronto wearing finely crafted, hand-knit tart clothes. (Am I really the only woman in the world to perpetually misjudge the size of her breasts? How, after so many years of living together can I still be shocked to find them there? How I ask you, How? I'm forever putting on clothes and looking in the mirror and thinking "Holy crap! Where did those come from!)

That's it....Stephanie, the knitting prostitute. Standing on a street corner, knitting socks with the rack spilling out of a bright orange mesh tank top. (With an always sophisticated quick release lace up front even). What was I thinking?

Joe thinks that perhaps I am being overly conservative. I think Joe may be trying to get me to dress like a Parkdale Crack Ho. We'll see. I'm going to put it on and wear it around the house. If I continue to be appalled when I see myself by accident in the mirror, or my 15 year old reminds me that we don't wear "slut clothes" in this house.....well. A trip to the frog pond may be in my future.

Ryan, the Dublin Bay socks saw "Amazing Caves" at the Cinesphere yesterday. They are having such a good summer so far.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:53 PM

June 28, 2004

Go VOTE

Today is a federal election in Canada, when we will be choosing out new Prime Minister (or choosing the one we already have all over again). Go Vote. Remember too, that there is a big change in how politics is funded in Canada this year. Up until now the political parties were funded according to the number of ridings they won. This means that smaller parties, (like the NDP) who might have had quite a bit of the popular vote that won few ridings received far less funding. This means that the big parties get the money and stay big, and the small parties get small money and stay small. For the first time this year, your vote is worth

1.75
$1.75

That's right my friend, when you vote, you hand $1.75 to the NDP (or you know...whichever one you vote for). This means that even if your party doesn't win, or doesn't win many ridings, they are now funded according to what you actually voted for. Get it?

This means, (for example) that if you happened to be a hippy, feminist, knitting, tree-hugging, pro-choice, pro-same sex marriage, recycling vegetarian.... They can't give your $1.75 vote money to help Steven Harper promote ideals, morals and approaches you don't agree with, just because he won in your riding.
This means that your vote would support Jack Layton, (or you know...whoever) even if he doesn't win. Vote your heart. Save the world.

PS. Here is a picture of the almost finished mango tank. Let's not talk about how close I am in case it spontaneously combusts. The Canadians among you will note that it is Orange. You will wonder if this is a hint. You will have to guess.

tankalmost

What do you guys think about just crocheting a tie for the tank out of the yarn? There doesn't appear to be a ribbon in Toronto that matches it.

PS # 2 Hey Ryan...Your Dublin Bay socks (in progress) got a trip to the Pride Parade yesterday. They had a good time. The socks would like to apologize to the guy who was standing underneath Sam and the Super-Soaker. Sam had a good time too.


Posted by Stephanie at 1:34 PM

June 25, 2004

Still life with citrus

This morning, in a desperate attempt to appease my children (it's really only a matter of time until they are completely feral you know) I gave Sam the digital camera and my knitting and nominated her photographer for the day. Sam's mission, to photograph the Mango tank top in a creative way.

The Rules.

It must be interesting. (Sam feels that this should be easy, considering that all I do is "stick it in a bush", the kid has a point.)

There can be no nudity. (I really just gave her that rule to make her say "eeewwww")

There can be no foul language or lewdness. (This is necessary since Sam is still young enough to think that anything involving the region of your body between your knees and your belly button is hysterically funny. Even just the word. As an example of just how far this goes, Science teachers for kids this age hate teaching the planets. There's going to be no way to get around saying "Uranus")

Without further ado....The Tank Top. A photographic essay by Sam.

tiedye
"Sunrise over Mango Lake"

face
"My friend Tanka"

Tanklemons
"Still life with citrus"

feet
''Feet''

A few technical notes, the tank top now measures 9.5 inches. This means that I probably only have to knit 436 more rows before it measures 10.5 and I can get to the interesting part. The bobbins in the picture are both full, which means that I have slipped even deeper into the hold of the G4 project, and now appear helpless in the face of the fleece. In order to regain control, I have *not* washed more fleece, so I should have to stop when I run out. I'm also thinking that when I finish the third bobbin and ply the stuff and find out that all of this work has only made 75 metres of yarn, that should pretty much shut me down.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:15 AM

June 24, 2004

Beaten on all fronts

Has it occurred to anybody but me that I could keep showing you the same picture of this tank and you would never know?

mangotank7

I need a total of 10.5 inches and I'm in the black hole. I knit and knit, and it's 7 inches. So I knit for a while and I measure and it's 7 inches. So then I count rows, it's about 7 rows to an inch, so I knit 7 rows, then measure.
7 inches. That firmed up my theory, you don't get that kind of consistency by accident. It's not a freak of nature or an aberration of some kind. It's a plot.
No way does a tank have fortitude like that, and the incidence of the number seven is very suspicious. It's getting some kind of supernatural help. All the signs are there.

I decided to try stepping out on the tank, jealousy can be a powerful motivator. I went and got this...

cablecotton

and waved it around near the tank. Yeah that's right. See that? It's a cute little cotton and it's got cables chick, so you might want to get your crap together or it's the high road for you. There are other projects, and they are trying way harder than you. Suck it up and get yourself over the 7 inch line tanky-poo, cause Momma's got a short attention span.

I had a bunch of phone stuff to do yesterday, so while I made my calls I carded.

cardg42

Then I sort of spun it all.

2ndbobbin

The suspense is killing me. I'm anxious to get three bobbins full so that I can ply a bunch and see what kind of yardage I'm getting. If I did that, I could do some sort of mathematical trick and figure out how much of the fleece it's going to take. Yesterday I had this idea that if it turns out that there's tons, maybe I'd give Ken enough handspun for a sweater, if he wants it.

Total G4 hours: 12

So far I think you would have to say that school vacation is not going very well.
The two littler girls wanted pets. I had this idea that I would hold that out...you know, as incentive for allowing me to have a couple of hours at the computer each day to try and earn a living to buy them food and pets. I figured that I would say things like "You girls are being so quiet...you are getting close to that hamster" or " My goodness, now this is the kind of behaviour that gets a little girl a new fish". It was going to be maternal bribery at it's best. (If any of you are thinking that bribery isn't a valid parenting tool, I ask you this. Would you go to work if they didn't bribe you with money?)
The pet thing was going to work for me two ways, firstly, the aforementioned bribery system of good behaviour, and secondly, because once the pets were obtained (I was aiming for halfway through the summer) they would take hours of concern and care, further distracting the ladies from their mission to obstruct me and my plan to have gainful employment, and my sanity intact this summer.

By 5:30 yesterday Joe and I were in a pet shop with dazed and deflated looks on our faces buying a dwarf hamster and a fish and really having no idea how it all happened.
Score: The Ladies - 1, management - 0

sharkbaitmike

Meet "Sharkbait Oo-ha-ha" and well,
Megan has a thing for naming hamsters. She spends a lot of time thinking up exotic and creative names, names that are significant, names that are spiritually meaningful and create a real place in the world for the hamster. Megan feels a keen sense of responsibility for hamster naming. Her first hamster was named
"Pashmina-Oxnard". The second one "Kierie" this one? This one is named....wait for it....

Mike.

(ever get the feeling you have no idea what's going on?)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:40 AM

June 23, 2004

Nobody Panic.

I don't want to alarm anyone, please...continue sitting quietly at your computer. Panicking now is not going to help anyone. It is not going to be easier if we all lose our heads. I've been strategically ignoring it myself. You know when something is sneaking up on you, and you try not to think about it because whether you think about it or not, there's nothing you can do about it so you might as well not think about it and try to be happy until it happens anyway?
This is like that. This is a harrowing time, and only the wily are going to get out of it unscathed. If I let my fear show, I'm going down for sure. I need my wits about me, my inventiveness unleashed and my good humour fortified. I'm just going to stay calm, make extra coffee and plan to make the most of my morning...for tomorrow...tomorrow...everything changes. Tomorrow, I will be tested.

Today, my friends and comrades, is the last day of school.

Let's speak no more of this, but hold me and all the other mothers you know in your hearts tomorrow, and wish them patience. Especially wish strength for mothers like me, who work from home and are going to have annoying, demanding, whiney people who want more from you than you can give in their offices for the next few months....just like all you people who have to drive to work.

Tuesdays are for spinning, and day one of the Great Gargantuan Gansey Gambol (hereafter referred to as "G4") began with...well, a realization that even though I am acutely aware that this is a very big project, I had no idea that it was going to be this big. So far, I've washed some fleece, (2 hours, because lock washing is stupid slow...anybody got a better way that preserves lock structure and doesn't involve a crockpot? Or...anybody got a crockpot?) but not enough fleece that I've made a dent in the rubbermaid container the fleece is in. (It's bottomless. I take fleece out...nothing changes. It's some sort of perpetual bin of fleece). I dragged the fleece out to the backyard to dry, then brought my carding stuff out.

cardingg4

I had to sit with my laptop and work in the backyard because the fleece stealing grey squirrel is back. I was hoping that maybe he was dead. (Before you get all harsh on me, I'm not wishing the squirrel ill. I'm just saying that if he were very, very old, and had lived a happy, happy squirrel life of bird chasing and fleece stealing and had passed away...you know, out of old age, that I would be ok with that.) I sat in the back defending the fleece from said vicious squirrel, who has redoubled his efforts. I really think that the fact that he and the fleece are almost the same colour is driving him out of his mind. I maintain that he believes that he is not "stealing" the fleece, but "rescuing" a family member.

carderG4

I carded (1 hour, defending fleece 2 hours ), and used all that I carded spinning. This raises a point, I think I need a friend with a drum carder, or I need to work with the children on their carding skills. Yeah man, maybe that's what we do with the summer vacation, Mommies little sweat shop. (Hey Girls... who wants some M&Ms?)

sampleG4

I also spun a quick sample and navajo plied it, so that I could see what I thought.
What I thought was that I could spin a little thicker, or accept in my heart that I will be knitting this sweater until long after Joe is dead. The sample is fingering weight. There's just no way I can do that, that's beyond love. This sample figures out to about 8 stitches to the inch, so a gansey for Joe would come in with me casting at least 400 stitches around, not allowing for whatever pattern I settle on. That's ... well, let's just say that I think I'd be a few jalapenos short of a zippy salsa by the time I finished it. I need thicker yarn or a smaller husband. I'm going to aim for a DK weight. (spinning the sample, setting the twist and washing it, measuring the WPI, as well as contemplating the possibilities that this yarn offers: 1 hour)

From the sample I also decided that it's definitely going to be a 3 ply. I desperately wanted a two ply, since it's easier to make, but there's no point in doing this unless I'm going to do it right, and a three ply shows up patterned stitches better. Somewhere, everyone from my spinning class just fell of their chairs. Yes, I know I've said in the past that I'd rather quietly lick my kitchen floor clean than make 3 ply. I know. I'm trying to demonstrate some freakin' personal growth here.

Finally, I spun. (2 hours)

spinG4

This is almost one bobbin full, I'll spin three of these before I begin to ply. I have absolutely no idea how much this is, or how much I will need. (Might want to start figuring that out eh? Information gleaned from this site suggests that I am far from done. I am not actually going to write the number here, since demoralizing myself this early in the process helps no one.

Number of hours spent making G4: 8

Off I go. I'm going to go to the bathroom by myself and finish a whole cup of coffee without having to re-warm it, and I might even haul off and have an uninterrupted phone conversation. After all, there's 75 days until the first day of School.


Posted by Stephanie at 11:35 AM

June 22, 2004

On a roll

Yesterday turned out to be pretty darned good here in Harlotville. Our daughters brought home report cards that made me a satisfied and delighted mother, (although I haven't seen the teenagers yet...)We went for a bike ride to buy beautiful fresh fruits and veggies (and wine) in the Village, then returned home, moments before the rain. I love getting home minutes before the rain, I mean we were outside for over an hour. It could have rained on us, but the planet chose not to. I feel respected. Then it rained enough that for sure I'm getting out of dragging the hose around the yard to water the garden. Today I am cherished by the earth. (This is what you get for having a godless heathen union anniversary on the solstice, and knitting with glorious orange yarn, Co-operation)

While I was feeling pretty good about getting to skip the bi-weekly rousing game of "hose wrestling", my brother called (I swear he was giddy. Absolutely giddy) to tell me that he had sold his house. He and my darling and lucky sister in law sold the thing for an obscene amount of money and it was only on the market for three hours. Perfect. (This is especially good since the preparations for putting the house on the market and dealing with "open houses" and stuff was driving him so crazy that he was going to make us all nuts)

Joe called to tell me that due to a string of bizarre and unlikely events, he had gotten some crazy expensive piece of super cool recording equipment practically free, and then said he was coming home early because it was our anniversary. (Aw...he remembered. This is especially significant. Joe doesn't remember squat. Last year I found out what he was doing about my birthday. He knows that my birthday is "when it's warm" so as soon as it starts to get warm , he waits until one evening when I'm asleep and then checks my drivers license. Touching, isn't it?)

Dinner was lovely, the children polite. The wine good and the knitting? Well let me tell you. That Amy is a smart girl.

mangomaking

Amy said that I should try a blunter needle with the splitty yarn.

I've used Microspun, and can testify that I had better results with it by trying out different needles. Blunter needles seem to handle splitty yarns better by sliding past each individual strand instead of gouging right into the middle like pointy needles do.

This was the exact opposite of my plan. I had this theory that a really sharp needle would...well I don't know. Frighten the stitches? Scoop them up? I've got a preference for sharp needles and I always think that if something isn't going well it's because my needles aren't sharp enough. I went and got a blunter circular and lo and behold, what Amy says is completely true. All hail the mighty Amy....blog saviour for the day.
(psst...Amy...got any ideas about speeding up the laundry?)

And Rams? The blasphemy of circulars, (though I agree with all the points made by Rana (including irrational predjudice) is because I knit like this:

stephMy right needle is tucked under my arm and my right hand pivots, throwing the yarn without holding the needle. It's a really, really fast way to knit.
This can't work with a circular.
Rams also asks why, since I wanted more modesty with the tank, I'm not knitting it in the round. Executive decision. It turns out that the tank isn't sewn up at all in the front, the ribbon is just threaded through the lace pattern. Seemed to me that I could just thread it through a little lower, depending the modesty of the moment. This was of course before it dawned on me that this means that all that stands between me and public nudity is one ribbon. Normally, this wouldn't be that high risk, but I live with Joe. There's no way he's not going to spend the whole summer pulling that ribbon. It's going to be beyond his ability to control himself, so I may just add a stitch or two. In any case i thought that knitting it back and forth would give me choices.

All in all, it was a very good day. So good in fact, that Joe and I bought a lottery ticket. Hey, we're on a roll.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:52 AM

June 21, 2004

Excuses, excuses.

Here's all I've got done on the Mango tank.

mangotank

Dissapointed? Yeah...me too. I think I knit pretty fast and yet, well, this one is slow. Without further ado I give you the list of excuses reasons why I have not made much progress on the tank.

1. The pattern has you cast on the fronts and back all together. This means that while the progress may seem slow, there are no other pieces to knit when this is done. This is mystically both encouraging and crushing at the same time.

2. I am knitting it back and forth on a circular. It is not an especially good circular, because I don't like working on circulars and therefore, do not invest heavily in them. Yes, it has been pointed out to me that if I were to invest in better circulars I might like them more. Yes, I feel the burning sting of irony.

3. This amount of tank has been knit two and a half times, due to my own stupidity. The lace instruction got the better of me (You know...the pattern calls this "crochet stitch" and that should have been a tip off, crochet and I have an unstable relationship) and the first attempt looked like this...

mangomistake

At this point, two things occurred to me more or less simultaneously. First, I noticed that my lace looked nothing like the lace in the pattern, and I decided that although I was open to the possibility that this was to be a happy accident, I hated it. Secondly, I realized that although I had knit a swatch for the "rack" part, I had not swatched the lace and was undoubtedly being punished for not sacrificing to the muse of knitting, so in an attempt to release myself from her wrath I went back and did that. I screwed around with it until I had grasped the meaning of the instruction, and got something that looked like the picture.

mangoswatch

If you look closely at the swatch you can see that I tried different stuff every inch or so until I had it worked out. We will not be discussing the instruction that gave me trouble, as now that I've come to my senses it's obscenely simple.
I ripped back the tank, refraining from unladylike language the whole time.

4. What is it about my personality that says "Hey! I know...this yarn has a reputation for splitting up like J-lo, but I think that I'll choose a project that requires tons of stitch manipulation. You know, lots of K2tog, and psso....yeah, that's a good idea. Even thought this yarn has lots of fine qualities, let's pick its one failing and capitalize on it. Sign me up."


5. Since this yarn (used in this stitch pattern) is irresponsible and needs to be watched every minute to see if I am knitting all the plies of every stitch, I can't work on it while reading e-mail. This cuts down on the amount of time that it's getting.


6. I was zooming along when I discovered a mistake. The attempt to fix my mistake by dropping down the offending section and reknitting it back up with dpns was by all accounts, a miserable failure. Due to some kind of wandering K2tog action, this strategy was doomed from the start, yet I tried anyway. Here we see me with 4 needles, being used more or less at once with 3 strands of yarn. There are no words. (Did I mention that this did not work?)

fixingmango

This time when I frogged the work back halfway I may have dipped my foot briefly into the pool of self-pity. Three days and I've got one days work done. Today isn't looking good for the poor tank either, as I'm celebrating the anniversary of my godless heathen union with this man...

joe

This man is the funniest, gentlest, smartest man who ever lived with this much wool. He's entertaining, patient and kind, has never, even once suggested that I should have less yarn, maintains that living with a crazy woman and three daughters is a privilege and I'm still having a blast with him every day.
By the way Joe? Nice *rack*, baby.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:49 AM

June 18, 2004

Attention Gloria Steinem

I'm sort of ticked off.

Remember the tank I just knit? The blue one ( yeah sorry, that doesn't help much) the ribbed one with the cable up the front? The one where I spent several hours of my life fixing the ribbing with a stinking crochet hook because I had screwed it up? You know, how I was (despite my education, ability and experience) apparently unable to correctly execute a ribbing pattern? I had to drop down 17 stitches correct their orientation and ladder them back up again. All because I wasn't paying attention to the pattern. Thought I was, but I guess I just sort of faded to black there for a minute and knit something that bore no relationship to the pattern. Oh well, there's nine hours of my life I'll never get back, but I have only myself to blame.

Well get a load of this. Sitting here this morning, again with the trusty cup(s) of coffee and reading my e-mail. There is one there from Fibertraditions, from a lovely knitter named Linda. Now it just so happens that Linda is knitting the same tank top, and when she got to the armhole armscye her ribbing was all screwed up. Clearly Linda has better self-esteem than I do, because instead of beginning a shame spiral of self doubt and degradation....Linda checked the Vogue Knitting Corrections webpage, and lo and behold...

The pattern is wrong.

It's not me...it's them! Them, them, them! For the rest of this post I will be attempting to ignore the fact that this error cost me nine hours of my life. I will have you know though, that I have not forgotten this, and that I am merely putting aside my bitterness and resentment for another day.

Here's where I'd like you to pay attention. Here is a page of errata for knitting books. Here is errata from another magazine, here is another, and another. I have put this many to make it clear that I'm not picking on anybody. There is obviously a lot of error in knitting patterns.
(We will also spent the rest of this post ignoring that despite the fact that there is tons of errors in knitting patterns, and despite my belief that I am a decent knitter, when there is something wrong with my knitting I instinctively blame myself ...)

This is what makes me mad, a search of Fine Woodworking, revealed that there is apparently ONE ERROR they would like you to know about, not in that issue, in the history of the magazine. This magazine has no error corrections on their site, and this one has one correction for the last year.

Given that these magazines also supply patterns, charts and complex materials lists, am I the only one who thinks it's odd that they have such a lower number of errors? Without giving in to my natural tendency toward conspiracy theories, do you think that it's possible that it has anything at all to do with the fact that most of the knitting magazines are bought by women and most of the woodworking magazines are bought by men? Note again that I am not picking on knitting suppliers...the issue is widespread and besides, I don't think it is their fault. I think...(deep breath) I think it's our fault.
If one of Joe's electronics magazines cost him hours in a frustrating error, he would never buy it again. I confirmed this with him. No way..."my time is worth something" he said. I would appear that the magazines that he reads know this, since this quote was found in their writers guidelines.

"Double and triple check your facts...Publishing corrections in subsequent issues will not recover missed opportunities, hurt feelings, or damaged reputations."

You betcha. Joe's time is worth something. There is no way that magazine expects that he would continue to buy their schematics and patterns if they are error riddled. He simply wouldn't stand for it.

Now me....I've been buying error riddled knitting magazines and books for years. Something which is really, really my fault, since I've never even complained. Nine hours of my life....gone, and not only do I not say a word, I blame myself for not checking to see if the pattern was wrong before I started, and I have every intention of buying it again, and again and I still love them. I've also bought lots of excellent books and magazines, with no errors at all. There's lots of great vendors out there, and this rant is in no way directed at them.

Since Gloria Steinem is unlikely to address this knitting pattern issue any time soon (what with women still owning less property, making less money and holding less political world power than men) I think I'll settle for dropping the magazine a polite note, (before I buy my next copy - 'cause you know I will) just to let them know that I care, and my time is worth something.

(PS. the mango tank is fine ...no mistakes)
(PS again...I just finished reading Carol Shields "Unless". That could explain a lot about this post, It could get anyone going)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:33 AM

June 17, 2004

I hear, and I obey.

This morning I got my trusty cup(s) of coffee and sat down to tally the votes. At first I was surprised by the results, but then it made perfect sense.

projectsurvey

I got more votes for a "write in" than I did for any of my own ideas. (This proves what I have suspected for some time, that the people who read this blog are considerably smarter than I am. I will remember this, and be very careful about mocking you in any way).

If I am to do as the blog directs, then your plan for me is for some kind of "Combo deal". My plan (in as much as I am ever able to execute any plan, it's not really my strong suit) is as follows:

-I will begin the mango tank, for the gratification of the blog, the glorification of Claudia's yarn and the celebration of the short Toronto summer.
(For those of you who were asking, it's in Vogue Knitting Spring/summer '04)

-I will begin Joe's sweater, washing, carding and spinning on Tuesdays, with the goal of having the yarn ready for cooler weather knitting, at which point I will begin the gansey. For the record, I am not knitting the gansey in the link from yesterday, it was just sort of an educational linky kind of thing. The gansey I will knit will be invented as I go. While I spin the yarn I will prepare myself emotionally for knitting a sweater of that size.

-I will begin the shawl after the tank, accepting that it may move slowly on account of the rather deranged "spin-as-I-go" issues.

-I will continue to ignore works in progress at my usual rate.

Overall, the only shocker of the whole polling process (results accurate + or - 5%, 19 times out of 20) is that little 1% that voted for entrelac socks.
I know, I know, the first impulse is to find Aubergine and beat him to within an inch of his life. But that would be wrong.
Besides, we all know that I didn't choose to give up on the entrelac socks (Do I look like a quitter to you?) I told you, they were stolen, lost in a fire, eaten by a large bird, misplaced. It was painful for me.

Terrilee was concerned that the poor little boring cardie was not even mentioned once. Not once in almost 80 comments did anyone care for it's fate. I share Terrilees concern that the meek, the mild, the incredibly soul-joy sucking cardie was blindly trampled in the rush to choose something better. It's a sad commentary on our society when an ordinary little cardie, whose only crime is not being a rack enhancing mango tank can slip through the cracks. I pitied it, I felt shame and I knit.

boringc2

Forgive me.
(and pass the mango!)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:38 AM

June 16, 2004

Destiny...

Dear Readers,

Since your happiness is my only concern, and I begin and end each moment of my day with thoughts of how the blog may please you and as, frankly,
I live to serve... I am once again allowing the blog to set my destiny.

This willingness to put my life in your hands is not one I take lightly, and it is only because I know that those who read this blog are people of exceptional taste and wisdom that I can lay my needles at your feet and humbly await my instructions. Despite the fact that I have been somewhat indecisive in my checkered past, it is important for you all to understand that I am really not doing this because I cannot decide myself, or because I agonized over it for a long time already and am really sick of the freaking decision and I feel weighed down by the pressure of potential projects, or that last night I had out, maybe ..20 magazines and books out and everything I start seems wrong...

No, no...It is simply that I care more for your gratification and contentment than my own.

Here, my friends, are your choices. Don't hold back.

A. Who do we love? Why Claudia of course, especially since she sent the mango microspun to release her me from blue. How about I make her happy and knit myself this tank top?

orangetankpatt

Pro: Well, it's darned nice, and who doesn't need another tank top? It would use the orange yarn that I am just about desperate to get on needles and break up the proliferation of the blue on the blog, and it seems pretty fun and easy. In addition, Claudia is on vacation right now and not reading the blogs. I could complain bitterly about the yarn if it proves annoying and not worry about injuring her tender feelings.
Con: Clearly I would need to find some way to change the front. I'm thinking no ribbon and closing up that revealing bit. I believe, though this theory is untested, that I would rather let a troupe of roving 4 year old girls cut my hair than leave that tank that open, so a minor modification would be in order. Also in the "con" section...how many tanks can you knit for yourself before the word "selfish" starts to be bandied about?

B. Joe's a good guy. Considering the depth of my love I don't knit enough for him. Socks aside, his last big score was this sweater, and that was a while ago. I like this corridale fleece almost as much as I like Joe, and I was thinking that I could wash it, card it, spin it and knit it into a gansey.

joe's-corrie

Pro: Who is more deserving of that amount of work than Joe, the long suffering husband of harlot? It goes without saying that Joe respects knitting and he would cherish a sweater with that much work in it. Plus, of all the yarn, wool, fleece and jetsam I have brought into this house over the years this fleece is the first time that Joe has ever expressed a desire to have any of it for his own. When I think about my big wooly husband standing in Gros Morne with the wind whipping in his hair, fortified by my love and my wool... c'mon, that's heady stuff.

Con: Note the use of the word "big". Joe is a big guy. We're talking about a 50" chest. Just thinking about that amount of spinning and knitting makes the world start to go a little black around the edges. Just to be perfectly clear, choosing this option means months (maybe years) of delirious ranting from me about how this washing/carding/spinning/knitting will never end. I would expect that this amount of work may lead to hysteria and possibly some sort of altered state.
This sweater would be Commitment. This sweater would take staying power. Then again, that's what it takes to stay living with him...

C. Last year Ken gave me some organic 80% kid mohair, 20% merino roving. Touching it induces a rosy attitude that lasts for hours. I was messing around with it yesterday (Tuesdays are for spinning) and I made 150 m. of the prettiest laceweight (about 40 wpi). I was thinking that I might start another shawl, and spin as I need it. Maybe a butterfly shawl....

mohair

Pro: Well...shawls are darned nice, and not too heavy for your lap in the summer. When I was done there would be another pattern on this site...and designing the last one, while frustrating, appears to have done me no permanent damage.

Con: Is anyone bored with shawls? The whole Charlotte thing is all over the blogs and I don't want to beat a dead horse. While I like knitting shawls, knitting them with fine yarn that you are spinning as you need it does threaten sanity. Also, I don't believe that I would be capable of giving this shawl away, so it does nothing to release me from the impending crush of Christmas or birthdays. (What does it mean that I still think that anything would help release me?)

D: Maybe I should just finish stuff? There's Ken's "Claw Inducing" shetland socks, and the Dublin bay ones, (though really I'm still working on those, they are my bus knitting) The shawl I started yesterday, the boring cardie and ...well about 40 other things.

Pro: Well, I would be finishing stuff. I would get the thrill of the finished object and the delight of reclaimed closet space. I would get to say that I "did something" about the stash.

Con: Boring. Poke your eyes out with a dpn kind of boring. Leave the blog and never come back kind of boring, and I feel bad for all of you having to watch me knit boring things and still try to be polite about it. It's nice of you and all but really, don't we all want to move on?

E. Something else....none of this is any good.

Vote early, vote often. I'll tally the votes tomorrow, maybe get Ken to help me make another neato pie chart and accept my destiny. Don't just be lurking around either. My fate is in your hands, and a large sample size seems wise.
Also...even though I realize that my suffering can be entertaining, try not to base your decisions on what you think has the potential to cause me the most pain.


Posted by Stephanie at 11:15 AM

June 15, 2004

Older and er...wiser

Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes, I had an extremely nifty day.

Ways is which my birthday was very good (an abbreviated list)

1. I had a really great lunch with Lene downtown, on a patio, in the sun, wearing a tank top and drinking Stella Artois. That alone was great, but then the very young and hot waiter hit on me. While ten years ago I would have thought he was a pig, there's something about getting older that makes it less harassment and more absolutely charming and thanks so much. (It's like how getting carded when you are very young is horrible, but now I think I would weep tears of joy.)

2. Joe bought me a new battery for the phone. My old phone held a battery charge for approximately 3.5 minutes, (assuming of course that I had the presence of mind to charge it for 8 hours prior to wishing to use this 3.5 minutes) I'm sure that anyone who has tried to have a 4 minutes conversation with my and been consigned to the abyss will appreciate this am much as I do.
Joe and the girls picked the most beautiful handmade glassware for me, and it was my lovely and charming husband who co-ordinated my day so that I knew only joy.

3. Ken wrote the best guest blog ever, and I feel extremely grateful that he's put up with my insanity for 20 years. Grateful enough that I'm contemplating his next pair of socks. How could I not, after he knit me this?

onesock

We are ignoring (graciously) that there is only one. (We are openly mocking the pointy toe, mostly because it's fixable and Ken mocked it first.)

4. Dinner was prepared by people other than me, and I did no dishes. It speaks volumes about my life that this filled me with a simple joy that I will not even attempt to convey. You have to live it.

5. Kelly, my very tidy sister-in-law who happens to live in Nova Scotia, gave me this (this is as good a close-up as I could manage, check out the perfect, regular curls of mohair.)

boucleupclose

Fleece Artist "Curly Locks". Kelly and her husband Ben would like to personally apologize for the blueness, but acknowledge that while the blog may tire of blue, for me...blue will never die.

boucle

Yes, that is the beginning of a shawl, and yes I did cast it on while Kelly was still here. No I did not consider the feelings of the boring cardie. I have donated four days of my life to the cardie,

boringclose

(yeah...ok, fine. It was four days sort of on and off, and I was rather impolite to it yesterday) and it's it's own fault that it's getting dumped, because it is boring. It reeks of monotony and no reasonable knitter could be expected not to dump it the minute a better yarn came along.
(Obviously I missed my calling as a marriage counsellor?)

6. Ken gave me this.

kenwool

It's Lion Brand "Van Gogh". A bulky single, 100% wool. There's about 240 yards. Any ideas?

7. I watched the french language debates. (Canada is about to have a federal election, and since we have two national languages, there are two debates, one english and one french. ) Is it just me or did Paul Martin say something crude about taxes? The moderate and lovely Canadians around me I'm sure will maintain that The Prime Minister said that he would "abaissez les impôts" (Lower taxes), but with my wool as my witness I will go to my grave believing that I heard him say that he would...well, let's just say that the verb "baisser" in Quebecois french can be idiomatically used to mean...well "baisser" and "abaisser" are very different. If you must know, ask in the comments.

The very thought that the Prime Minister may have uttered this phrase in a National Debate is a birthday gift all by itself.

All in all, I am a lucky, grateful harlot. Today I'm going to enjoy the spoils of the day, knit a little on the new shawl, and cast filthy looks at the sulking boring cardie, and watch the english language debates. Tomorrow, (hoping that elves have finished knitting the cardie in the night) tomorrow I start something new and exciting.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:12 PM

June 14, 2004

Happy Birthday to Stephanie

With apologies to those needing a fix of "the harlot".

Stephanie asked me to write a "guest entry" for her blog today, with the excuse that she doesn't work on her birthday. My initial response was a most emphatic (and cowardly) NO! While I have no problem whatsoever posting random thoughts on my own blog, there are standards here. An established audience. People Who Care. She called me yesterday evening, asking, "Have you thought about the guest blog?" "Yeah, some," I replied, quite calmly I thought, "though I'm a bit nervous." "It'll be fine," she reassured me. "You have to be funny, though. REALLY funny. What time will it be posted?" When I'm done throwing up, was all I could think.

Funny. No, REALLY funny. Okay, go! Be funny! ... ... ... ... Okay, how's this: That Stephanie, she's a real purl!

Clearly, the only thing worse than not being funny is trying too hard to be funny.

Okay, so no more funny.

When Stephanie does a thing, she does it completely and wholeheartedly. blasting on ahead and leaving the rest of us somewhat dazed in her wake, still trying to figure out how things work. While I'm still trying to figure out how to find time to get things done, Stephanie simply gets them done, and in a way and to a degree that I couldn't have previously imagined.

I've knit her some socks (sadly, this is currently an odd number, as she received only one (1) completed Latvian sock for her birthday), and she's knit me these:

Ken's sock collection

This isn't even complete. Some are at my boyfriend's place, and some have worn out or been, well, shrunk somehow (certainly not through improper care, I assure you). Does anyone, who shares neither genes nor a bed with the knitter, have this many hand-knit socks? Many of these even predate any reciprocation on my part, as does this:

Sandtracks sweater

The image isn't the best, but there's a lovely subtle random ripple throughout. It all started when I asked for a sweater that looked like sand dunes, and no, I didn't really know what I meant by that, but could it be kind of, well, random? I had no idea at the time what knitting was like, how "randomness" could be complicated. I just asked, and received.

We had a relatively brief yet intense period of obsession with origami. We both became fairly competent. Then we had the "who can fold the smallest crane" contest. You can guess who won that one. Then I received 999 paper cranes. We had heard a Japanese legend that giving someone 1000 cranes (senzaburu) you had folded meant that they would marry you, and Stephanie wanted to show me how close we were. I'd just like to say for the record that a box containing 999 paper cranes is an excellent, if slightly insane, demonstration tool.

I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that Stephanie is more. More of everything. More fun, more ethical, more talented, more committed, more empathic, more nice, and ye gods can the woman ever talk your ear off! It's all right, though; I now have a cordless phone with a headset so I can go on with my life. Just one more thing I have because Stephanie is in my life.

Just so y'all know? All good things in life come from Stephanie. She's the best friend anyone could ever ask for, and I'm supremely glad she's mine.

Happy birthday, Stephanie.

Posted by Ken Allen at 10:32 AM

June 11, 2004

Less is more

Well, it's done. Or mostly done. Kelly and I purged the living room (which I thought was fine) the dining room (which I thought was fine) and the girls room (which I had no illusions about). Many, many bags went to Goodwill and plenty to the garbage and recycling. (No yarn or patterns were harmed in the purging of this house.)

Elizabeth and Gina both blogged about this massive purging of stuff from the house. I'm telling you, I don't know how they did it without Kelly.
The woman is a machine. Things just fall into place when she does it. When I go through my stuff and toss useless things and organize the rest, somehow at the end you can't really tell. When Kelly does it, pounds and pounds of crap are gone...and she manages to be so charming about it that you don't really mind that she's throwing out all your stuff.
A few times I balked a little, and said "but Kelly, what if I need that, what will I do?" Kelly's reply?

"What would you do if you were a Rwandan refugee?"

Oh. Nevermind. I am so not worthy. That one statement made more of an impact on me than anything else. (More of an impact than discovering that I own five gravy boats. I'm a vegetarian for crying out loud. More impact than discovering that if I send three wagon loads of the kids toys and books to Goodwill, they will not be able to tell you what is missing..that's how much they have. ) I suddenly felt so excessive. I felt enormous guilt, here I was, trying to keep my stuff, and feeling so broke all the time, and I have way, way more than most people in the world. That Kelly, she knows how to motivate.

Even without the guilt, I highly recommend purging tons of crap out of your life. Trust me, it's holding you back. Kelly kept telling me how peaceful it is to have less, and now I see where she was going with that. It's very, very restful and clean. My life feels way more manageable.
The boring cardie proceeds apace, one sleeve done, the next started.

bc2

I'm knitting as fast as I can, to try and entertain everybody, but the big clean sweep mission took a lot of time yesterday, and when I was done I couldn't do much but collapse. Today should be better, assuming that I can ignore the fact that by comparison, the kitchen (which I swear I thought was my best room, very tidy and clean) is now a pit of filth and garbage.
I leave you now with this thought. Go sweep under your upstairs hall rug. Trust me, you want to get to it before Kelly does.


Posted by Stephanie at 12:20 PM

June 10, 2004

Well, this is a let down.

I feel bad for all of you this morning. You get your coffee/tea/hard liquor and head over to the computer and log onto Yarn Harlot thinking, "I wonder what that woman is up to? Has Joe done something? Have the children endangered her life? Has she screwed up her knitting beyond all reasonable hope and is yet going to bravely launch herself into another pit of knitting disaster and tragedy? The tank is finished, maybe she's starting an exciting new project, maybe there's a swatch...."

Sorry, but the Harlot is boring today. If you are close to dying of ennui, keep on going, there's no help here. Absolutely nothing of note has happened in my life since we spoke last (oh... except we went for a bike ride yesterday and got lost, and we ended up in this really rich neighbourhood and the girls kept calling it "Stepford" except all the women they saw had small breasts, so they decided it wasn't Stepford after all...but that might have just been funny to me) and to make matters worse, I have begun another Boring Cardie, and to add insult to injury, it is (poor Claudia...) it is blue.

boringc1

I will try to add interest by knitting it really, really fast. I'll pretend it's a knitting race.

A few notes from yesterday.
Thanks for saying nice things about my rack. I appreciate it. Considering that for years of mothering these were "working girls" it makes me feel good to know that they haven't lost their aesthetic appeal. (Even if I have to knit them special outfits to make them look good)

A big shout out to Kaare who defended the spouses of the knit-obsessed everywhere, and tipped us off to the fact that we aren't getting away with as much as we hoped. (Maybe go back and read his comment...he's a funny guy)

Now me, I don't get away with squat, but I don't try to. I have my own money and I'm fiscally responsible. (Fine...I'm cheap. Horribly, terribly cheap, though I prefer the term "frugal") and the way I see it, Joe shouldn't mind what I do so long as I don't mind what he does and so long as we can all pay the bills at the end of the day. So here are the questions of the day. (See what I'm doing? I've got nothing, so I'm getting you to entertain each other. Smart eh? )

Do you sneak yarn purchases?
If so, Why? Avoiding disapproval? Concealing your habit? Creating an aura of mystery? To see if you can?
If not, can you imagine circumstances under which you would?

Clean Sweep.
In mere moments my super organized insanely tidy Sister-in-law Kelly will arrive. Kelly will be helping me find the house I know is somewhere under this mess. Kelly has a way of taking 89 pounds of crap and making it all seem like 2 pounds of crap. (This is probably because she throws away 87 pounds).
I have discovered that it's pretty much a crock to expect me to be able to work a 50 hour week, take the girls on bike rides, read stories, help with homework, make there be food and be the sort of happy knitter that I want to be if I have to clean the house too. It's too much.
Therefore, I am accepting that if I want to be able to keep this house under control, there needs to be less to control. The kids and Joe can, (and do) do their share, but we are all being overrun with "stuff". This stuff needs to be tidied, dusted and managed...and it's sucking the life out of me. This stuff is out of here.

Note: For anyone feeling nervous, Kelly is a knitter.
Kelly surely understands that stash, needles, patterns, newsletters, books, roving, spinning stuff, drop spindles, fleeces and works in progress are not "stuff" and that we will not be throwing away so much as a ball of crappy acrylic or a pattern for a chunky sweater with a moose on it. That in fact, when I say "this stuff is out of here" I am referring to the crazy amount of stuff that everyone else in the family has, not my stuff. My stuff is essential.
Right Kell? Kelly? Ok?


Posted by Stephanie at 10:53 AM

June 9, 2004

Song sung blue

I love it.

bluetank

I labour under the delusion that it makes me look thin and clever, and with my snazzy linen pants, sort of elegant. Me looking "elegant" is significant, since really, the best that I can manage its usually "dressed" and on a good day "clean". There is a special day coming however...and the harlot will be well dressed. Assuming of course that I can keep the tank from getting some kind of stain on it over the next few days. (Oh wait, I'm wearing white pants, clearly they will be the target). Just the same I'm intending to eat only dry, non-staining foods today while wearing this get up, things like plain rice chips and er....water, I guess.

As much as I have trained Joe in the ways of the needle, (this means speaking to him about knitting directly and constantly for years) he has apparently learned very little. Witness the conversation this morning.

Me: Do you like this? I wonder if I should have made it a little longer... Joe?
Joe: Hrmnf.

Joe is reading the newspaper. Joe is making affirmative grunting noises. I am asking him about knitting, and he is doing his best to make the grunts seem well placed and thoughtful. This is what we do. The minute he hears the word "knitting" he goes into some kind of automatic mode. I do not get angry about this (mostly because when Joe talks to me about...say...the amount of compression the studio console is getting, all I can hear is the noise that the teacher used to make in Charlie Brown television shows. Wah-wah, wah-wha-wah, Wah.) I attempt a second time. Besides, we have discussed this before, and Joe assures me that even though it would appear that what he is doing is giving me monosyllabic grunts of appeasement, he is actually expressing his belief that our relationship is so deep and connected that there does not always need to be all these "words".

Me: Joe, Joe? Do you like the cables on the front? I'm not sure about the mattress stitch I used on the sides....Joe?
Joe: Hmmump.

cable

Clearly I'm not making an impact. At all. Two things are obvious. I really, really need some knitting friends and I was right when I decided that Joe was infinitely more willing to discuss knittting if I am at least semi-naked. Since I want to show him the tank top, taking it off would be counter productive. I try one more time.

Me: Joe? Lovie, look, I'm wearing the new tank top.
Joe: (no answer)

Ahh...phase two. His brain has chosen "flight" over "fight" and he is no longer present in the conversation. Now I've been married long enough to know what works. I'm not some silly girl who can't engage a man in the art of conversation. I pull out the big guns.

Me: Joe? Do you think that this tank is too low in the front?

Joe's head snapped up to admire the knitting so fast that I worry about whiplash. Ahh, I think, now he will see my handiwork, comment on the cables, we can discuss the making up and he will say nice things about the grafting on the shoulders. Now that I have his attention, now we will really talk.

Joe: Nice Rack Baby.

Really. What did I expect.

Finally today, I got an email today telling me that "Yarn Harlot" (the blog, not me) is a

Very cool. I'd like to thank the academy, and my posse of commenters who make it all worth it.


Posted by Stephanie at 12:48 PM

June 8, 2004

Resisting my charms

The tank is not onside. I don't know what to tell you, but it is not finished. It is, in fact...close to finished, but close don't put a tank on momma's back now, does it. (Aside: I told Sam I was almost done the tank and she looked at and said "I hope that is *really* stretchy)

tankfront

Fixing the wrong stitches proved to be a little more involved than I thought it would be. Like maddeningly, insanely more involved. When I was laddering stitches back up last night at 10 pm, sighing loudly, Ken confessed that he would have frogged. Oh, c'mon. Where's your sense of adventure? As Laura said yesterday in the comments

"There is something so satisfying about stitch surgery. Everyone makes mistakes, but performing some insane feat of skill to correct the mistake is an art, all its own"

Bingo.

So today I will finish the tank, except because fixed the ribbing the hard way I won't just finish the tank. I'll defeat the tank. I'll get the better of the tank, I'll put the tank in it's place and make it cry like a girl, Score: Harlot 1, tank NOTHING, that's right, squat. Suck it up tank-baby because you are going down and there's nothing you can do about it.
(Probably should have done that little bit of tank-tempting-trash-talk when I was done with it eh? The chance that I'll fall down while carrying the tank and it will manage to impale me on one of the needles is now so close to a certainty that the best thing for me to do today is go lie in a darkened room)

I won't though, because Tuesdays are for spinning, and the mohair/merino laceweight project continues. I'm going to be an old woman when I get this together.

tspin

Finally, yesterday Nathania lost her cool a little bit when her morning was disrupted by Wendy's server trouble. While I understand freaking out when you can't stick to a perfectly good system (just try getting between my and my email at 8:00am) the best thing to come out of it was that Nathania listed her "must reads". (She included me, nice of her eh?) One of them I had never been to before (and I get around), so here's your chance to tell me, what other awesome blogs don't I know about ? What are your "must reads"? The ones you check every day single day and feel "off" if you can't read them. Lay it on me.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:27 AM

June 7, 2004

Moron alert

I am a moron. I have no idea what possesses me sometimes, but I manage to make startling and innovative knitting errors without even trying. I've been happily knitting the blue cabled tank, (especially enjoying the cabled part) and gleefully I reached the arm and neck shaping last night. I was thrilled (because I would have something finished to show you this morning) and began to do the decreases.

They didn't work. the decreases are supposed to fall in a particular place in the ribbed pattern, and on one side it was all...well, perplexing. Careful examination revealed that I had made a mistake in setting up the ribbing, and had faithfully knitted the entire tank with a ribbing pattern completely generated by my imagination. It's whacked. You know how sometimes you can see where you went wrong? Like you transposed two numbers? Or you misread one of instructions...you can look at your work and say "Ah, yes, there's my mistake . That's the moment."

Not this time. The ribbing pattern that I knit bears no relationship to the pattern. None. As near as I can tell it is completely random. Funny thing is, I remember setting up the pattern and really paying attention. At this point it's going to have to be fixed or the straps won't look the same. Here's the plan. The way I see it, only 2/3 of the blue tank front is on crack, so frogging the whole thing seems like the true path to misery, equalled only by repeated floggings inefficient. I have therefore decided to fix the ribbing one wrong stitch at a time.

drop1

I dropped the first of the wrong stitches (naturally, since there are only two options, knit and purl - some of the stitches are correct, not because I didn't screw them up, but because there is a 50% chance that some will be right, even if the knitter abandons all conventions and picks a random ribbing pattern) and encouraged it to unravel all the way to the cast on.

drop2

Here's something interesting. Ever noticed that if you drop a stitch by accident it will run all the way to the cast on edge in a heartbeat, but if you want it to run down you will have to spend time encouraging the lame little arse to run down, unpicking it each and every row? Don't tell me that knitting is inanimate. I have too much proof that it holds a grudge.

drop3

Once I had dropped it all the way down, I whipped out my trusty crochet hook (there's a phrase you thought you would never hear on this blog) and chained the stitch back up correctly.
Now, I only have to do that with 15 more stitches. (See that? See the way I managed to type that sentence with no hint of the bitterness that I'm feeling? The tank was supposed to be done today and instead I'm playing stupid little crochet hook games and there isn't anybody I can even blame but myself. I hate that. Still, I managed to type that sentence without revealing any of the dark, loathsome feelings that I'm having for the blue tank, and instead only showed it my concern for it's well being. I am hoping that this will encourage the blue tank to abstain from punishing me further. I suspect that this trouble with the tank stems from it's resentment of the photoshopped images where I debase it's blueness. I may have to either refrain from altering it's images, or not knit near the computer.)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:42 AM

June 4, 2004

Cable this

Oh cables, how I love thee. I have reached the cables on the blue tank, and the magic happened.

notbluetank

What is it about cables that speeds knitting up? You would think that all that screwing around, moving stitches from needle to needle would slow you down, but nope. Cables up the fun factor and the whole thing just whizzes along.
I personally cable without a cable needle.

This is a decision that I made seven years ago on a Wednesday morning riding the 504 King Streetcar.

Some knitters learn techniques out of a sense of ambition. They want to be the best knitter possible and challenge themselves constantly. These knitters hear of a technique, or even more impressively, invent a technique, try it, then adopt or abandon it according to how it fits their personal knitting style. These knitters are on a constant mission to elevate their knitting to the highest possible form. These knitters know 7 heels for a sock, 3 ways to make a steek and 4 different buttonholes. I salute them.

Some knitters are content knitters. They have their own way of doing things and not much moves them to adopt new technique. What they are doing works for them and why change? These are happy knitters who are probably not going to try techniques for fun, but may try them to solve a knitting frustration or because a pattern they adore demands it.
Then there is me.
Riding the streetcar that morning, as I lovingly inserted my cable needle into the soft wool stitches, the streetcar shuddered it's way over the track divisions at Dufferin. (If you live in Toronto you know what I mean. That 20 feet of track will shake the teeth out of your head. I realized recently that I quietly clench every muscle in my body as I pass over it, just to minimize the wobble) As we passed over the last of the track, the cable needle (well, it wasn't actually a cable needle, it was a dpn, I lost the cable needle quite some time before this) slipped from the back of my work, hit the floor and rolled into the crack that runs down the side of the street car. It all happened so fast. I stared with horror at the crack, and examined my options.

1. Try to remove the needle from the crack with the power of my mind. (Although I always *try* this option, it is yet to work. I think it's important to keep it at the top of the list, despite it's miserable track record as an actual solution.)

2. Let it go. (Yeah...good one. I have that kind of personality don't I? Raise your needles if you think that I have ever, ever in my whole life just "let it go". )

3. Casually attempt to retrieve the needle by using the other needles that I still have. (Love it. "Casually", yup, my name is Stephanie and denial is a powerful force in my life. )

I opt for #3, because in my special kind of world, I actually believe that it is possible for me to dig a dpn out of a crack under my seat in a streetcar with my knitting while possessing dignity and grace. I began by "casually" leaning forward in my seat, extending my arm beneath me and attempting to raise one end of the lost dpn so that I could grab it with my other hand.

The attempt ended when I was crouched on the floor, arms twisted beneath the seat, dodging gum and assorted streetcar flotsam jamming my aran sweater (on the needles) into the crack...ignoring the stares of nearby passengers.
When the driver turned in his seat at a red light and asked me if I was "ok", with a look on his face that indicated his concern for my sanity, I kissed the dpn goodbye, reclaimed my seat, tried to look normal, and learned to cable without a cable needle. Never looked back.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but embarrassment isn't bad either.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:41 PM

June 3, 2004

Ban the Blue

It would seem that Claudia is taking matters into her own hands. Overwhelmed by the omnipresence of blue on my blog she has sent me the antithesis. Thanks lady!

Orangeclaudia

The note reads "Ban the Blue", and the yarn is Lion Brand Microspun, in "mango". This is cool, not only because it is not blue, but because I've not seen this yarn in Toronto shops. It's pretty neat. Amanda decided to take a stand and back Claudia's blue ban. (except for the sweatshirt)

amandahair

Personally, I think it's a bold thing to do just to make a point about your mother's blog...but what do I know.


Claudia enclosed a snip of the lime that she's been knitting, and damn. That's lime. You know how sometimes you can think of other words to describe colours? You say "it's sort of a dirty lime" or "green apple-lime" or "well it's lime, but lime in the shade...ya know?" Not this. There is only one word my friends, and that is LIME. Claudia's going to look simply smashing in her tank.

I worked away on my blue tank (now that the socks are done I have returned to my former loves...though now that the mango goodness has arrived things are not looking good for them again). (Note: Photoshop may have been used to alter the colour of the tank.)

notblue

I'm only five cm up the front, but I'm the cables are coming up soon and I'm pretty hopped up about it. (Am I the only one who really worries about being excited by this kind of thing? Really, I'm probably going to get to the cables today and I can't wait. Is that sad? Should I get out more?)

Now. A discussion question. This morning I read this. Surprise, surprise, I do virtually none of the things that Jenna advocates. (Well, that's not true. I swatch. I read through the pattern to avoid getting bitten hard on the hind parts by something like "at the same time", I check to make sure there's no hidden crochet...) but other than that...I don't do squat. I've never enlarged a schematic or marked decreases/increases and more than that, it had never occurred to me.

Don't get me wrong, Jenna Wilson is clearly a genius and a very good knitter. She's got an extremely good grip on how knitting works and her advice is sound. Very sound. There probably isn't any of us who wouldn't be a better knitter after taking her advice. We should all do this. Definitely.

This brings us to the question of the day. Having read the article, having a firm understanding that this would improve your knitting, fully knowing that this is an absolutely practical, reasonable, intelligent and thoughtful way to advance your skills and be a better knitter, please choose one of the following.

A) Yes. I will definitely be using this approach. I understand now what has been going wrong with much of my knitting and I want to knit smarter. The time spent preparing for a project will pay off in the knitting and the final product and it's worth it. What most knitters don't understand is that really getting into the technical side of knitting is fulfilling beyond words.

B) Well, I'm going to do some of that stuff. There's some darned good ideas there, but I'm drawing the line at schematics.

C) No way. I'll agree that it's smart, but words like "calculation" "zone" and "geometric logic" sound like about as much fun as waxing your armpits. When I think about doing it this way I get an itch that starts right under my left foot and careens all the way to my brain, sucking all the joy, hope and relaxation out of my knitting along with it. With all due respect I'd rather throw myself into a bin of two mm dpns and hope that I take one in the heart than do this. I'm not afraid to live right on the edge, and I'm willing to pay for it with screwed up knitting and whole projects frogged into oblivion. It feels good to decrease without calculation, fail to highlight relevant pattern text and design as I go with out any regard for the laws of mathematics and the confining walls of logic and structure. I am a Knitter, and my business is with sheep and wool...I will turn my back on structure and planning and I.... WILL.....KNIT!

Naturally, I am not revealing my preference until after you have all commented.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:48 AM

June 2, 2004

Feet Treat

Hello Darlings, and sorry for the day off yesterday. I was burned out from the birth, had a post-partum visit to make, and all my regular work sort of caught up with me and beat me half to death. Megan's hamster passed away, requiring a funeral and backyard burial. I'm back on top now. (Well, not really. My house is so messy that If my mother came to the door right now I'd flatten myself on the living room floor and play dead till she wandered off.) Naturally, instead of cleaning, I did this.

laurie's-socks


I am so in love with these socks that I can scarcely breathe. For the first time in a while I'm glad that it's cold and rainy in Toronto, just so I can wear them. (By the way...if you live in the Toronto area and are interested in helping me to build an ark...I'm looking for someone with a big enough backyard.) These were my first short row heel socks, and I'm still sort of neutral about them. This could be because there is a very real possibility that I do not fully understand the short row heel. I've never really looked at pattern for one, and my research for this heel consisted of admiring the socks that Laurie was wearing on Friday. I should have at least asked her to take them off...admiring a moving target from a metre away leaves some detail to the imagination but I thought that the pattern for a short row heel would be in " Folk Socks", but I was mistaken. (The fact that the pattern wasn't in Folk Socks is remarkable. I swear I thought every heel was in there.)

Now. Let's recap. I have decided to make a short row heel. I don't know how to make a short row heel, and in fact, have only a vague concept of what it should look like. Yet...this is the heel I want, and this (whatever it is) is the heel I should have. Any knitter coming to this fork in the road has options. They are usually as follows.
1. Email Laurie and ask her for more details about the heel.
2. Consult the thousands of sock patterns available on the web and in my very own home until I find an example of the short row heel so that I may "grok" the very essence of it and make it my own.
3. Abandon all logic and sit down and knit what I believe is a short row heel based on the vague look I had at Laurie's socks, the talk I have heard about short row heels and my understanding of human anatomy. Note that if I were to choose this option, I would do so with the full understanding that it is probably the most difficult of the three options, the one most likely to frustrate me, and the option that has the highest probability of not making a short row heel.

Once again, let's stay away from any kind of psychological analysis about what it means that we all know which option I chose.

When all was said and done, here is what I did:
-knit across 50% of the stitches, wrap and turn.
-purl back to the last of the 50%, wrap and turn.
-knit across to the stitch before the wrap I already did, wrap and turn.
-purl back to the stitch before the wrap I already did, wrap and turn.

Repeat the last two rows until I had used all the stitches. Realize that human heels are not freaking pointy, and yank back until there are some unworked stitches in the middle. Pour a glass of wine, hold the half heel up to my foot, realize that it is in the wrong spot, yank back the whole heel, knit a few more rounds, and knit the first part of the heel again (refraining from foul language so as not to despoil Laurie's beautiful yarn). Yank this back as I realize that while I have knit the heel on 50% of the stitches, it is not the 50% on the bottom (or the top...which could have been worked out) but instead the heel is on the SIDE of the foot. Pour more wine, to drink while ripping back the heel (still keeping the language as clean as possible to protect the beautiful yarns virtue) and start again (wondering vaguely if the wine is helping).

Get the heel in the right spot, and proceed,
-knit to the first wrapped stitch, pick up the wrap and knit it with the stitch. Turn
-purl to the first wrapped stitch, pick up the wrap and purl it with the stitch, turn.

I repeated this until I had worked all the stitches and it sort of looked like a heel.
I stress "sort of". It also looked "sort of" like a toe. This may or may not be normal, I reiterate that I have no idea what I'm doing. You can see how it looks in the top photo, and kinda folded here...

shortrowheel

You tell me... Is this a short row heel?

Posted by Stephanie at 11:43 AM