December 31, 2004

Out with the old

I'm alone in the house. I haven't been alone in the house for about 2 weeks now, and I'm grateful beyond all measure for a few moments of peace. The last few days I've had a house-full...which is good for happiness and family unity...but poor for blogging. The tail end of the year upon me, I'm ready for a rest. The last couple of days have run along this theme.

Dance2

Big parties, big fun, all the time. Wayne and Garth would be proud. The Harlot family and it's associates are a dancing kind of family. Really, unless you are a dancing kind of family, what this does to festive gatherings is difficult to explain. The expression of joy and togetherness through movement and rock classics is a McPhee family tradition, and it wouldn't be Christmas without it. It turns out that there are two kinds of visitors to the McPhee clan... those who immediately understand this

Dance4

and those who think that maybe we're a little off. One guest was heard to remark this year, as a member of the Clan sailed past them, that they wondered if the family didn't suffer from "a pathologic level of happiness".

Dance3

Personally, I think they are happy because of the knitted presents. See what my Mum got?

Mumspurse

A Sophie bag, with beautiful glass bead handles made to match by the talented Kim.
Erin got this one...

Erinspursefull

The handles Kim made for me are so beautiful that I had trouble giving them away. She chose the loveliest beads to match the yarn. I'm thinking about making a thousand more purses just so I can see what beads Kim sends.

Erinspurse

and Tupp? Tupper was this years knitting victim, receiving only a single mitten.

Tupperone

He took it well, even working out a solution in short order.

Tuppersolution

I'm working on the second one.

Onemitt-1

The very idea that when this mitten is done I'll be able to embark on some sort of new knitting adventure that has no festive deadline is so exciting. I believe (however delusionally) that Monday I'll be done Tupper's mitten. What should I knit next? The world of possibility overwhelms me. (Seriously, if you have an idea, toss it in the comments. More mittens? Lace? Lace mittens?)

Happy New Year all. I'm going tobogganing by moonlight...

Posted by Stephanie at 1:06 PM

December 28, 2004

Uncle Tupper

(As an aside...I can hear you all thinking "Tupper"? The Canadians might have a hint where the name comes from, for the rest of you here's a hint, his full name is Charles Tupper McPhee.)

So my Uncle Tupper is my Mum's brother and absolutely one of my favourite relatives. He's a restoration/carpenter cool building guy now, but when I was a teenager he was an artist and a runabout. Back then, there were times when I didn't know his address, only what province he was in. This sort of bad-boy "I'm so cool I don't have to even tell you where I'm at" thing captivated me. Family Legend has it that he came to live in BC because he got loaded and his buddies tossed him on a plane. Woke up in BC with no cash to get home, so he lived there. One time he came to take me to his farmhouse (he wasn't a farmer) and we stopped and rented a tv on the way there. He let me watch the Miss Universe Pagent, something that would have appalled my feminist/activist mother. See that? Flying in the face of authority. Can you believe it? My mother was the highest force in the universe and he didn't care. I watched tv late at night AND it was degrading to women. We ate crap too. He did it and he lived to tell about it. At the time I thought that this was so brave that I can scarcely tell you of it. I thought my Mother would cut him out of our lives, maim him, write his name in the black book of doom...something horrible. Now that I'm a mother I know that she was just grateful that he took me away for the weekend. The morning after the TV we went walking in the fields. There was a thick fog over the farm and we were walking through it hearing cowbells - but seeing no cows, it was impossibly mystic and weird and I still remember it vividly.

If it weren't for Tupp I wouldn't have bothered to be a painter for as long as I was and I certainly wouldn't have such a profound (and yet useless) education in Fine Arts. (What? I can't be the only one who thought that Art History was going to pay off.)

Why is this all relevant? Why should any of you care who Tupper is? Today, The McPhee Clan celebrates Christmas (Again. We have real stamina.) There will be drink, there will be dancing...there will be a rare and awesome visit with Tupper....

And he will get one mitten.

Tupper

I realized last night at 2:30 that I wasn't going to make it. (No kidding? Really Steph? Seriously? You had one stinking mitten at 2:30 and that's when you figured that even though the first one took you 10 hours, 2:30 was when you realized that you couldn't knit another one before dawn?) Every year somebody gets the shaft. I knit and knit and warp the time space continuum and (last night marks the 15th night in a row that I have had no more that 5 hours of sleep) and totally lose my cool and pull what Tupper would call "A Kathleen". Kathleen was my grandmother, famous for her berserk Christmas enthusiasm. She liked things to be "right" and despite never being particularly enamoured with housework or cooking was often found baking and polishing silver in the dead of night in the days preceding Christmas. (It is only because she did not knit that this was the focus of this energy) Tupp and Mum feel that I channel Kathleen every Christmas, and it does not endear me to them, but rather makes them sort of shudder a little as they flashback to 2am festive insanity from the Christmases of their childhoods. (Apparently the part where I scream "Are you trying to ruin Christmas!" when someone suggests that perhaps the happiness of the entire family does not hinge on my ability to flawlessly iron a tablecloth in the dead of night is particularly reminiscent of the Christmases of their salad days)

Despite my hysteria, sleep deprivation and screech (both of the alcoholic and vocal variety) Tupper is this years unfinished knitting victim. I tried to keep it from him, but now he knows. Not only did I pull a Kathleen....I didn't even get it right.

On the upside...this last minute defeat means that I haven't slipped at all. Tupp's the only one getting a gift on the needles.
Party on.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:24 PM

December 27, 2004

Eye of the Storm

It is very quiet in the house. Too quiet. If you were here, it would totally flip you out.
I know better than to think that this is the relaxing end to the holidays. No, no...we are in the exact centre. The quiet lull in the eye of the storm. The one where everyone thinks that the hurricane has gone over their house so they come out of the basement and WHAMMO. The other half of the storm whacks them. Except me, I'm staying in the basement, I'm not getting tricked this year. Besides, I'm still knitting.
I need this...

Tupp1

To be a pair of mittens by tomorrow when the second wave of Holiday merriment will sweep over us in a bewildering daze of relatives, presents and rich food. Two more gatherings to go. Then a dinner party, then new years. All that and a mitten by tomorrow. Yeah. I know. It'll be a miracle. All this deadline knitting has me a little defeated. I'm completely fixated on the fact that when I finish these mittens I am released. I can knit whatever I want. I wonder how I'll feel when I discover that what I really want to do is cast on a pair of mittens?

Since I really can't come out of the basement, I'll give you highlights.

Spiderman

Hank thought his mittens were exactly spiderman mittens. (You will note that his is also wearing spiderman slippers. He is smiling, which was not the case when he discovered that you cannot wear your spiderman slippers when you want to put on your spiderman roller skates.)

Speaking of slippers...

Ianali

Superbrother Ian and his charming wife Ali have warm feet. (And a new spraying watering can. Yes, Ian is going to squirt Ali with it.)

The girls gave me fleece artist roving and a brilliant little Elegant Knitter gauge.

Girlsp

This one goes to 1.25mm, and none of my others do. (Remember Spinal Tap? "This one goes to eleven....")

I gave Ken his Pablo Neruda Poem socks...

Pnfinished

These are based on the poem "An Ode to my Socks"
and the writing on the socks reads, (In spanish)

beauty is beauty
twice over
and good things are doubly
good
when you're talking about a pair of wool
socks
in the dead of winter.

The top of the feet indicate the right and left feet (in spanish) so that Ken will always put the poem on in order.
I know...I know. What could a friend do to deserve these socks? My present from Ken was this.

Rc-1

Ken really, really deserves the socks.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:12 PM

December 24, 2004

Happy Christmas

This is it. This is the big Harlot coup de grace. I know you want to hear crazed stories of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth at 2 am. (True). Stories of demented midnight yarn hunts, managing to finish felted clogs by the light of the moon hopped up on egg nog with only a metre of yarn to spare. (True) Stories of the Harlot children, sadly abandoned while their babbling and exhausted mother refuses to cook, screeching about how many hours are left and how screeching slows her down and they had better all get it together around here because it is coming down to the wire people and how if they don't pick up that wet towel on the floor she's going to throw all of the presents into the snow and who will be happy then...EH? (True as well. I get festive I tell ya.)

I'd tell you those stories too, and maybe I will.... later. For now, I'm on track, on schedule, and will probably finish. (Well. I need to knit an entire man sized pair of Estonian Mittens before the 28th....Maybe I'll just do a photo blog for the next few days. Row by row updates. You guys have nothing better to do...right?) I'm still considering Julia's absolutely brilliant plan for anything I don't finish.

For now...I'm reeling it in. This afternoon at 5:00 the Harlot family will roll out the door for the beginning of the holiday season, and I'll stop. I won't stop knitting, I won't stop trying...but I will stop making myself nuts about it. I'll remember that the reason that I attempt death by knitting every year is to make these people happy and to show them my love..albeit in an unusually wooly, looped way...but it is about love and I'd rather be with them than knit for them, and I think they want that too. (This lovely and calm Christmas message is only possible because I believe that I will finish. If I were further from done I assure you that I would be a berzerker, espousing victory at all costs. Let's overlook that.)

Gifts for knitters #24

(Yeah, I missed 23. Sue me. I've been busy.)
I know, I know. It's Christmas eve and you're freaking out. You worry that you have not got the right gift for your knitter. You worry that there is going to be a snowflakes chance in Hades that you are going to be able to go out and get today's gift for your knitter. Relax. I've saved the best for last. The absolute perfect gift for every single knitter. Give your knitter

Time

Time to knit. Go walk the dog, take the kids skating, scrub the bathroom, make dinner or acquaint yourself with your very own Mr. Washie. (Added bonus, If your knitter sees you doing housework there may be a gift in it for you. After a certain number years of living together housework is foreplay). If you cannot bring yourself to do any of those things then simply give your knitter time during which you expect that they will do nothing but knit. After all, it's what your knitter gives you. The hats, mittens and sweaters they shower you with aren't just made of soft, lovely wool, each knitted item is magic. It is made from hours and hours of your knitters life. Time spent sitting and working with you in mind...time that they chose to give to you above all others, carefully hidden in a hat.

This Christmas, make your knitter a cup of tea, give them a kiss and GO AWAY.

Happy Christmas all. From the Harlot house to yours,
Peace.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:02 PM

December 23, 2004

48 hours

Finished:

Dragonmitts2

Dragon mittens (or what we hope will be interpreted as dragon mittens by a five year old buddy of Lene's) The knitted eyes are cracking me up.

Finished:

Clatviandone

Latvian mittens
Sigh. These are so pretty that the only think keeping me from stuffing them into my own coat pockets and giving the intended recipient something impersonal and sucky from the drugstore is the fact that they are too big for me.
An extra shot for the Latvian mitten junkies:

Lmdetails

Finished:

Clogsi

Clogs
One pair down, one pair to go. In case you haven't played this game before, my foot is included for scale. The magic trick of felting just never gets old. (Rest assured that these will be felted inside a tied up pillowcase to protect Mr. Washie's innards. I only have to replace a $300 pump once to learn my lesson.)

Sam is shovelling up that white Christmas I ordered.

Samshovel

(You know what? I can't be the only one who worries when it all starts coming together, right? I start thinking that maybe I do run the world....)
Joe is at the store buying underpants for the girls. (I ignored his pleas for release from this task. I care nothing for his discomfort in the underpants department. He is a parent. He will buy teenager underpants and he will survive. I have no pity, for I am a knittter at Christmas and my only hope is delegation.

Answers to questions.
- Four (How many hours of sleep I got last night)
-Two and Six. (The number of glasses of wine I drank last night and how much coffee so far today. It's entirely possible that all the tofu I eat the rest of the year is only in preparation for this week.)
-One (How many crappy movies I watched last night. It was "Anacondas". It was truly crappy.)
-Three. (The number of times I noticed that Joe was not working on Christmas.)
-Two. (The number of times that I managed to let that go because he was asleep)
-One. (The number of times that I woke him up to discuss my failure to let it go)
-Five. (The number of times that I've thought "There is no possible way to finish all this. In the name of all things holy would somebody please lock me in a closet with a bottle of scotch and a fruitcake until Christmas morning so that I can stop trying." )
-Four (The number of times the previous thought has been immediately followed by "Oh, c'mon. Keep trying. You can do it. You've been in rough spots before, look to the schedule and fear not the coming of the morning. Rise above. Wrap something, eat a cookie and knit."
-One. (The number of times that I needed a little scotch to believe that).

Posted by Stephanie at 1:33 PM

December 22, 2004

Quitting is for...quitters.

Realistically, there are three days left. Three days...and I still need to finish two pairs of mittens, with a third pair needed on the 28th that I haven't started yet. This is pair #1.

Ammittens

I'm feeling pretty good about them, despite having knit most of them in between wet basement psychotic breaks. (We are not speaking of the basement. The important thing is that I am not down there now and I am not planning on going down there for at least a day. I'm not going to think about it until the vein in my forehead stops beating out an SOS message that is visible to others.)
Sometime in the next 24 hours I need to figure out how these would be "Dragon mittens". I also need two pairs of clogs and a pair of socks. This is a lot. Even I can see that. The pair of socks are getting close, but I haven't even looked at the clogs yet. This is worrisome.

There comes a time in every holiday season when even the most insane determined of knitters has to admit that maybe she isn't going to make it. That maybe it's too much. That maybe it can't be done. That maybe, it's all about peace and love and spending time relaxing by the tree and just letting go of all the material crap that weighs us all down and remembering that it's the thought that counts and that your family would rather get a gift still on the needles than have you an exhausted gibbering mess.

Now is not that time.

Do not give up. I can understand how you might be thinking those mushy things, but I can assure you that there is lots of time. Tons. I don't need my knitted stuff until the afternoon of the 25th. That means that I have 72 hours left. What could you knit in 72 hours? Seriously, think about how long it takes to knit stuff. There is 72 hours available. What could you do with 72 hours? Hat? Mittens? Scarf? Do not be deluded by the number of days left. Let go of the idea of "days", it's only discouraging and once you are knitting around the clock it's largely irrelevant anyway. Press on.

Three tips.
1. Coffee. Do not worry that you are drinking too much unless your family says "What is that thumping noise?" and you realize it is your heartbeat.

2. Sleep is for cowards. Besides, the tree looks prettiest at 4am and if you really luck out you can get to see "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians". I assure you they don't show these gems in prime time.

3. There is no place in the next three days for negativity. If anyone tries to talk to you about the knitting pace do not allow them to cloud the issue with facts and logic. If they persist, ask them if they are trying to ruin Christmas.

Gifts for Knitters Day 22.

Ok. Do this. Go to the store and get 2 plastic boxes with lids. Make sure that one of your boxes is at least 9 inches long. Label the top "DPNS"

Bin

Go to the yarn shop and get the things in this picture.

Notions

Tape measure, wool needles and holder, crochet hook for picking up stitches, row counter, needle gauge, stitch markers, scissors, stitch holders a notebook for writing in and a pack of post-it notes. (The post-it notes are handy for putting notes on a pattern without marking it up, keeping track of where you are in a chart...etc.)
Put them in the other box. Wrap both boxes and feel like a genius.

Do not worry if you think your knitter already has this stuff. This stuff is transient. As an example, I personally have bought at least 94 tape measures in my life. I don't know where they go. Ditto for stitch markers. There is a doorway to the seventh dimension that sucks knitting notions into an invisible swirling vortex of doom. There are 98765345623467 pairs of scissors in there. The entrance may be the crack in the side of the couch. Be careful.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:16 PM

December 21, 2004

Too busy to blog

Hello this is Megan, Yarn Harlot’s lovely middle child. My Mum is to busy to blog. I know what all of you knitters are thinking, TOO BUSY TO BLOG! Yes well it is true, my mother can’t blog today so it’s up to me to save the day. It is five days until Christmas and every one is busy. I am knitting a scarf but I have a long way to go, I wish I was working on my blue shawl instead. Sammy is knitting a facecloth. Amanda is not knitting this year, she says she may have a temporary wool allergy. I think she is not making a big effort. Mummy is mopping the basement, cleaning like a frantic lunatic, knitting and baking. I have to do todays Gifts For Knitters. My mother tells me I have to do four gifts for knitters because she is behind, I think she is a slacker. I must talk about the basement first, its been flooded, a pipe broke or something I don’t know what happened so I am guessing. Mr.Washie is ok (Mum said you would all be very worried about him.) he lived through this experience. The basement, however, I don’t know if it's going to survive. It's very, very wet, along with our neighbours basement. Joe spent the morning vacuuming up all the water and I spent the morning with my sisters trying to find food. We asked mom for some food while she was mopping and she said, get this, "Do I look like I have food down here?" I think Mum might be a little pissed.

Now for gifts for knitters, since I am a
kid young adult I think that all the presents for knitters should not just be for adults so here I have four presents for kids or young adult knitters so here it is.

Day 18: We have a knitting needle making kit. (Denny made these ones, but we have made lots)

Needles

All you need is some doweling and some beads and some wood glue and then you have a kit. It's easy to make and its really fun. You cut the dowelling, glue the bead on the end, sharpen the point in a pencil sharpener, sand it smooth and rub it with wax paper to make it slidey. I think that they are cool, but this isn't all about me. Most young knitters would love this.

Day 19. I think that the best thing you can get a young adult from ages 13 to what ever is a cell phone.

Cell

I know it has nothing to do with knitting but I got a phone and it is so totally awesome, I love it so much. Mum hates them. Don't buy her a cell phone, she would trade it for wool.

Day 20: Well my little sister Samantha has come to help with the blog she says that the best gift for some one of any age is a Gameboy Advance SP.

Gameboy

Yes, yes... I know. Once again, nothing to do with knitting but the thing is so totally rad!

Day 21: Well I have gone back to stuff for knitting. What I have chosen for today is a little knitting ornament. They are fun to make and they are really really cute and I love them. All you need to make them is just tooth picks and some cute beads and just a little bit of wool. A knitter would like to get them I think.

Ornament

Well that’s all I will talk about today, tomorrow my mom will go on and on and not me. I hope you liked my blog I thought it was great and well, that’s all.

Merry Holidays.

Megan

Posted by Stephanie at 1:55 PM

December 20, 2004

Reversal of fortunes

My attempt to regain control of the weekend was, well... Let's recap.

Friday: Friday night was spectacular. Beyond all expectation. Friday night I sent Lene these two pictures and the following note.

The sock at 8pm

2Pnsock-1

The sock at 10pm

Cantoo

Do not tell me that I cannot warp the time-space continuum. Do. Not.

The children were away. Joe was at work. I was alone. I danced, I knit, I celebrated the joy that only a knitter making good time in the week before Christmas can feel. I had rum. I had eggnog. I watched CSI and "The Best of What Not to Wear". I watered the tree.
I knit until 2am and it was good.

Saturday:
I got up early and drank coffee and did the crossword while knitting. (I also ate Christmas cookies for breakfast. It was not nutritious. I don't care) Not one single soul spoke to me during this time. I knit. I had a bath. I celebrated my aloneness with an uninterrupted phone conversation and a long soaky bath. I spoke to no-one during the bath. This is remarkable. Completely remarkable.

I finished the socks. (Details to follow post-gifting)

Pnsocks

Saturday night Joe and I left the house together. Alone together, at the same time.
We went to Chinatown and had noodles. We saw a guy in a cape on Spadina Street (and I think it was his regular clothes. Very festive. ) Then we went to the Horseshoe Tavern for The Skydiggers annual Christmas Concert. (It's that Record Producer thing again. Joe is so cool.) Gord Downie sang a Gordon Lightfoot song with them. The Skydiggers at the Horseshoe singing a Lightfoot song with Gord Downie while it snows. That's such an incredibly Canadian moment that I think you might have to be Canadian to get it.

(Here's something funny. I went to the bathroom after the first set and this chick (I cannot even dignify her with the term "lady") asked me if I was the girl knitting. I thought about that for a minute. "What are the odds that there are two of us" I thought? "Yes" I said, pretty sure that she was going to ask me to make her a scarf or something. "Don't you think that's pretty offensive to the band? Don't you think they would mind?" she asked.
I was stunned. I'm here to tell you that I was knitting in the most Hip and Musical way possible. I was watching the stage, I was dancing a little, I was on my feet clapping and cheering at the end of each song. Offensive? I resisted the urge to tell her that what is actually offensive is a 35 year old woman in a pair of jeans six sizes too small for her drunkenly attempting to hit on a 20 year old hottie while wearing a shade of lipstick that should be banned. Instead of saying that, I just told her that when I was backstage after the show I'd ask the band if they minded.)

We did go backstage after the show and Gord Downie was just leaving. He said goodbye and I said "Bye". I didn't say "Bye Gord", since I thought that would be too familiar. (It's so hard for me to be cool.) He looked at me and said "Have a Merry Christmas" which is so nice because he has no idea who I am. Then I said "You too".
TO GORD DOWNIE.
(and Andy said that the band was honoured that I was knitting at their concert. Honoured.)

Sunday: Again, making excellent time with the knitting.

3Sophies

(This is three finished Sophie bags. This is all of them. There are two knit since the last time you saw me. I am a force in the universe.)
I decide that I am ahead enough to go to a staff party. My sister owns The Old York Bar and Grill (Niagara and Wellington. Good food), I bartend sometimes, and she throws an "it's so bad it's good" Christmas Karaoke party. I truck down there in the -20 weather. (Yes. -20. It's so cold that the minute you go outside you have an involuntary gasp. Then all the hairs in your nose freeze and you wonder why you live here. This wonderment gives way to absolute fundamental shock as you step away from the protection of the house and realize that it's actually -30 with the windchill. It takes a lot of gumption to leave the house when it's like this.) I once again affirmed my position as reigning Queen of Karaoke Avoidance and timed my escape just as several drunken bartenders took to the stage and microphone proving that the problem with drunken Karaoke singing men is the same as with drunken men in general. It's easy to get them up - and really hard to get them back down again.

I came home, I knitted some more,

Cm2

Joe and I watched Dodgeball and I fell into bed thinking that I was really, really lucky to have so much knitting done, and two parties, and such nice friends and that I couldn't believe that I was having such a good time...even though the whole Christmas knitting thing is looming so big that I can scarcely breathe....and that maybe, just maybe....it wasn't going to be like that this year. Maybe.

Monday: I wake up an notice we have no water pressure upstairs. Odd.
I go downstairs and as soon as I am in the kitchen I can here a funny noise in the basement. Odd. It sounds like water.

It is water. It is a lot of water. It is a basement full of a lot of water. I live in a very old home. This means that we have no drain in the basement, that a couple of the walls in the basement are dirt, and that when a pipe freezes and breaks because it is an unholy and vicious sort of cold outside....the resulting scene in the basement will be some sort of incredible Arctic mud slurry thriving in the basement. (I would like to assure you that wading to the shut-off valve was an experience that cannot be described without suffering a flashback so horrible that I could not endure it. Let us simply say that it will be a long time before my feet are ever warm again.) We can be grateful for waking up in time to catch it before the water rose high enough to flood the furnace and water heater and be additionally grateful that the basement is considerably lower at one end, thus giving us one almost dry corner. We can also be grateful that there is a separate shut off for that pipe, so we don't have to go without water in the rest of the house until we can hunt the elusive urban plumber.
(We can only hope that Mr. Washie will survive. It's too soon to tell.)

I am behind schedule, again.

Gifts for knitters returns tomorrow...when my house is drier.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:16 PM

December 17, 2004

Missing time.

Yesterday did not go as planned. You know that "missing time" thing? It's supposed to be one of the signs of Alien Abduction. (Can I just tell you how much that list freaks me out? I find it sort of alarming how many of the "signs" of Alien Abduction are also "signs" of fairly serious mental illness. Except vegetarianism. Who knew?) So yesterday, not only was I a vegetarian, but I experienced profound episodes of missing time. Pretty much the whole day. I have vague memories of being abducted and taken to a place full of small beings with high voices and being left with a ringing in my ears. The room was full of other victims and there was screaming and running. There was no "probing" of any kind though...so I think it might have been Sam's school concert.

Sconcer

(Motherly note: Sam is in the front because she is singing a duet. She was very, very good, and there is no doubt in my mind that she was the best one there.)

I am six hours behind on the schedule. (There will be no pictures of this failure because of my shame. Also, my batteries crapped out). This is the problem with having so much emotionally invested in the schedule. If the schedule is the end all, be all, and all I must do to make Christmas work is sink deeply into the schedule and let it surround me with it's regimented goodness and the miracle of effective time management...then when the schedule goes to Hades in a handbasket I HAVE NOTHING. Nothing I tell you, nothing. Without the schedule I am in an abyss. Hopeless, dark, swirling terror. It's bad. I must return to the schedule. I must not abandon the only link to hope and sanity left to me. In order to make up for lost time I have taken the following steps.

1. I have had a conversation with my completely charming and endearing mate who agreed completely (even though I am out of my mind and he isn't really all that normal either) that since he cannot knit chooses not to knit Christmas presents that there is nothing stopping him from doing everything else. Last night he made apricot bread for the teachers. There was some minor upsets, (like when I came into the kitchen at some point in the process and said something really supportive like "Holy crap Joe! What the hell are you doing?" and he said "Give me a break Steph, I've never baked anything in my life". Minor issues). This commitment from my good natured spouse means the world to me. He's shopping and making meringues this evening. He knows how to do neither. It is important to note, in case you were thinking about doing this yourself, that delegating chores to the untrained only works if you are the sort of person who can absolutely let go of the fact that the Apricot bread (while it tastes really good) sort of looks innovative and unique this year.

2. The children are going away for the weekend and I am entering Christmas boot camp. I don't expect it to be pretty.

3. I have rented the entire first season of CSI on dvd.

4. I have purchased rum and egg nog.

5. I have acknowledged that sleep is over-rated and that warping the time-space continuum is inexplicably easier at 3am. I do not know why this is true, but it is.

6. I have somehow managed to trick myself into believing that finding six extra hours for knitting over the course of two days is not only possible, but reasonable, necessary and normal. I have managed to convince myself of this even though my original schedule called for 8.5 hours of knitting on these two days.

7. I am working on convincing myself that not only is knitting approximately 11.5 hours a day without running into the street screaming and looking for reindeer the solution to my problem, but that this is also possible, reasonable, necessary and normal....and (here's where it gets a little tricky) that it will also be "fun".

Gifts for knitters Day 17

Maybe, just maybe... your knitter has enough. Consider helping a far away knitter less blessed with the wealth your knitter has. A donation in your knitters name to Heifer International to help purchase wool bearing animals for a less fortunate family might warm the hearts of all concerned. Knitters Review forums is doing some fundraising here, and Wendy and Deb have a project running as well. Think about donating the price of a ball of yarn. It might be the best present your knitter gets this year.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:13 PM

December 16, 2004

That twitch is normal

Yesterday, I braced myself and did it. Some aspects of being a grown-up suck, and there's nothing you can do about it. You have to bite the bullet, storm ahead and just get it done, no matter how repulsive, hideous or horrible the job is. (I've been trying to explain this theory to the other people who live here who seem to feel that the bathroom and litter box maintenance is just a little too yucky for them. The train of thought seems to go...." Wow, that's gross. Mom should do that." Yes. Absolutely. If there is a job involving faeces it should totally be mine. Can't wait, sign me up. Yay me. Yay litter box. I do it 'cause I love it. I digress...) So yesterday one of those nasty jobs came up and I did it.

I went to the mall.

It had to be done. There was no choice. What is it about those places that leaves you incapable of doing anything but blinking when you get home? Sensory overload? To0 many other people? The stench of desperation? The weird thing they put in the air so that the whole time you are in there you feel a lot like you really need to buy things made from petroleum products? I tried Norma and Claudia's "just relax and enjoy the season/don't get your knickers in a knot" approach...but it's 10 days until Christmas and there's just no sign of anybody dropping off any presents for the children and I have not yet succeeded in cooking my share of the family dinner with the power of my mind. (I tried not baking or buying the cookies the kids need for school parties...but no flirty little house-elf with a good attitude and a penchant for dusting dropped by with baked goods either.) In fact...the more relaxed I got, the less seemed to get done. I sat quietly on the couch happily knitting, absolutely stress free, but at no point in the process did the Christmas tree mystically appear fully decorated beside me. In fact, when a couple of the gifts got downgraded to gift certificates to make my life easier, nobody from the store hopped in their car to bring them over here either. I mean I sat here...I relaxed. I let go, and NOTHING HAPPENED. I thought over letting go of some of the stress by not going to the school concerts, but Sam's learned to play "Silent night" on the french horn and I don't know how to clone myself. Claudia? Norma? Are you sure I'm doing this right? I put the gifts that I had on the table and this morning they weren't wrapped. Do I need to wait for a full moon? Should I be more patient? Should I just wait for Christmas eve and hope that slacker Santa comes through for me? What if he doesn't? What will happen with the children if he lets me down?
I'm starting to think that this whole relaxing thing might not be the answer. Relaxing might be stressing me out.

I finished the Spidey mitts.

Spidermandone

I love Lene's schedule. There is time allotted for (and this is a direct quote) "Glory in accomplishment".

The first of the Pablo Neruda socks are done. (Or is that "is done"? Damned plurals)

1Pnsockdone

(We will overlook...for the sake of the "just relax" faction of knitbloggers, that human beings have two feet. It's counterproductive.) For those of you who asked, the charts can be found in Socks, Socks, Socks. The second one, according to the High Holy Schedule of Power, should be finished tonight.

2Pnsock

Clearly, I need to relax more if this is going to work.

Gifts for Knitters Days 15 and 16

Two gifts suggested by readers

Saralyn suggests an ear lamp. She claims that it lets her knit or read instructions in a dark car or room without disturbing others. I think it's a pretty nifty idea, and certainly gets around the problem of regular head lamps eating your hair. (If you are the sort of person who's hair gets eaten by head lamps.)

Tree suggests these really, really beautiful handmade wooden needles. There's something about handmade things isn't there?

Posted by Stephanie at 12:03 PM

December 14, 2004

A whole pan of shortbread

So, I'm knitting along, keeping to the schedule, trying not to think and ignoring the gloating tree. (There is gloating shortbread now as well. Sugary arse of a snack.)

Shortbread

Could someone convince me that I will not feel better about Christmas stress if I eat that entire pan of shortbread with a good cup of coffee? Could someone else convince me that it is not pathetic that my main concern with eating an entire pan of shortbread is not that I would have single handedly and swiftly consumed an entire pound of butter, but that I shouldn't eat it because there is no time allotted in the schedule to bake another pan? Anyone?

The scheduled knitting proceeds apace.
Morning:

Sophie1

This is a super charming Sophie bag, almost finished. (That puts me about 35 minutes ahead of schedule. If I can keep scoring time I might be able to eat the shortbread. Then again, if I'm ahead of schedule, I might not have an emotional need to eat the shortbread. We'll see.)

Afternoon:

Spiderman2

Hank's spiderman mittens. Here, for your perusal, is the ridiculously easy chart that I worked up. Choose a mitten pattern that uses a multiple of 6. Fudge the rest.

Spidermanchart

I thought about doing something more complex, but remembered (right before I spent more than the allotted amount of schedule time, that it is just as likely to be rejected for not meeting a four year olds complex set of criteria if I spend 50 hours or 10. Simple decision really. Rule #9. Keep knitting for fickle four year olds simple so that your heart isn't broken when they throw it at you on Christmas day for being the wrong shade of red). Hank spent yesterday afternoon here..interrupting knitting (though he's so cute that I could almost forget that he cost me a chance at shortbread) and playing gingerbread person tic-tac-toe, and singing his favourite Christmas Carol:
Helize and your dad.

Gingerh

Who wouldn't knit mittens for that face?

Evening:

Pnpie

Socks. Super cool socks with Pablo Neruda's "Ode to my socks" written on them (in the original Spanish.) Adapted from Socks, Socks, Socks. (Note: I have linked to Amazon for convenience only....check your local Independent if ya can). Seriously adapted. Like, "don't even try to figure out what I did to the pattern" kind of adapted, or "holy cow I hope I can repeat this trick on the second sock" kind of adapted. These are behind schedule. (By about 2 pans of shortbread, for anyone who, like me has learned to think about knitting in those terms.)

You should all be aware that I am considering dumping it all. Every bit of it, and dedicating what is left of my days on this earth to eating whole pans of shortbread and knitting THE LITTLE TINY LATVIAN MITTENS (scroll down to December 7th) on Susan's site. Be still my beating heart.

Gifts for Knitters Day 14

Anything of the really beautiful kits from Fiddlesticks Knitting. Darn this stuff is purdy. You can't go wrong either. Dorothy's patterns are extremely clear and concise. For Canadians, there's the added bonus of buying (and shipping) Canadian, and for Americans...the bonus of the exchange rate. I love her stuff, check out the brand new "loopy scarf" kits. (The real reason it's today's pick, though what knitter wouldn't want the blocking wires at the bottom of this page? ).

Posted by Stephanie at 1:26 PM

December 13, 2004

Can't ignore that.

Attention: There is very little time left. This is in the living room.

Tree

This is not a good sign. An 8 foot tree glittering menacingly in the spot usually occupied by my spinning wheel is not something you should ignore. The presence of the tree is an extremely serious indication that a largish holiday will arrive shortly. The tree is mocking me. Then there are these.

Reindeer

These really, really look like Christmas cookies to me. I baked them, the girls decorated them and they look pretty freakin festive to me. There is no way that anyone would be putting perishable cookies in the house if there was bags of time left. No way. See the cookies, be afraid.

I know I should be reassuring. I know that a kinder person than me would be saying the things that my family says to me. Relax. Enjoy the season. Don't freak out. Try to stay cool. Well I'm here to tell you....DON'T RELAX. FREAK OUT. THE TIME FOR THE FREAKING OUT IS NOW. DO NOT LET YOUR GUARD DOWN. There is a tree in my house. There are perishables. This means that there is not time. Not nearly enough time. Go. Go now. Shop. Take your knitting with you because there is not enough time for that either. PANIC NOW. Get someone to drive you to the shop so you can knit in the car. Stay up late. Get up early. Call in the reserves.

When I feel this looming sense of panic I know that there is only one thing left to do. I push my panic button. My personal panic button consists of making a list of all that I must accomplish during the next few weeks. Knitting, baking, cleaning, shopping...I write it all in an email along with the number of hours I estimate it will take to execute each festive nightmare. Then I flip out. Then I email it to Lene, organizer extraordinaire. Lene missed her calling in the world. She's a writer and a social worker, but really? She should be queen of the world. Lene excels at telling people what to do time management. Lene can boss anybody around organize any situation. Lene saves my Christmas. I email Lene my To do/to knit list, and she takes a good long look at everything that I've got to do. She takes a look at my life, works out where I have to be when and then emails me back a schedule.

"A schedule" you ask? Yes, that's right. A schedule. All I must do to make Christmas work is EXACTLY what Lene tells me to do and it will all work out. I must empty my mind of concerns. I must stop thinking. I must do as the schedule directs me and all my knitting will be done. I don't need to freak out, as long as I keep to the schedule.
I know it sounds anal retentive and controlling, but it's actually liberating. No planning. No worrying. Only complete and total compliance. My day is divided into three blocks. Morning, afternoon and evening. My time is my own after I have completed the activities that Lene sets out for me. Take yesterday for example.

Morning:

Sophiea1

Afternoon:

Pn1

Evening.

Spiderman1-1

See? Because Lene is a knitter, she knows that I need a variety of projects, knit in different gauges to provide interest, and allows for compatible activities. Plain projects for when I am on the bus. Fancier work for when I can concentrate. No two projects that take the same set of needles at the same time. I'm telling you, it's a relief. Every time absolute wrenching panic seizes me....I just look at the schedule.
Want one?

Gifts for knitters Days 11, 12 and 13

A sweater stone. Takes the annoying little pills off of sweaters and stuff.

Stash bags. I have tons of these. Keeps all the yarn from falling on you when you open a closet. You still run the risk of thirty balls and the stash bag hitting you, but at least it's only one large object and you have a better chance of deeking it.

Very cool Adopt a rare sheep program. For the knitter who wants one but doesn't have enough yard space. They even send your knitter the fleece (or spun yarn, for an extra bit of money) from the sheep. Love it.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:45 PM

December 10, 2004

26 Concerts total

As near as I can figure, I've been to 16 school Holiday concerts. We are in the killer years for Holiday concerts. For two years, our three daughters are in 3 different schools. This means that each year we must attend three concerts. This means that I have 10 to go. 10 more and then I don't have to go to any ever again. I figured this out last night at Megan's school concert, prompted by the lady next to us who was at her very first school concert. You could tell. She was accessorized and excited. She had her whole extended family with her and she had a digital camera, a film camera and her husband had the camcorder. Her family was similarly equipped. (When her kid finally came out there was so many flashing lights near us it was like hearing sweet five year old voices sing "What a wonderful world" in a Disco. Joe said he thought he was having a stroke.) The other give away that she was new to the school holiday concert circuit was that she thought she would be out of there in under an hour.
Joe scanned the program and called it. 90 minutes. He was wrong. It was 105, I knit almost half a sock. (Note: due to a bit of a yarn shortage, these two socks will be fraternal, rather than identical socks. I'm having a little emotional trouble with that, but trying to lighten up.)

Bfts

School concerts can be brutal or they can be wonderful. Usually, there about 95 minutes of brutal, interspersed with the 5 minutes that your kid performs and about 5 minutes where magic happens. (Sometimes these two things happen at the same time, sometimes not. It's a crap shoot.) You know that thing where you are in a crowd, and something happens to sweep up everyone into a collective expression of joy? It's rare and spectacular.
Like, maybe you are at your kids holiday concert, and the Celtic club comes out (The Celtic club at Meg's school cracks me up. It's about 15 kids, all playing Celtic folk tunes on tin whistles, accompanied by fiddles. Out of the 15 kids I'd say that 3 of them have any sort of Celtic background. The rest of them are from really Celtic places like Sri Lanka, Jamaica, and Pakistan. It's Toronto's brilliant multiculturalism at it's finest, it does my heart good.) So the Celtic Club might come out, and they play "The Lilting Banshee" and pretty soon someone is tapping their feet. The tapping becomes a stomping, and the room begins to fill with the noise of the rhythm of The Lilting Banshee, and people are clapping and stomping and everyone's faces glow while we are all pulled together as a community, however briefly....and everyone forgets that they live in a big anonymous city and it feels more like a kitchen party with the fiddlers and just for a few moments you know that you all feel the same thing and that it's all going to be ok, because really, humanity has the same goals.
You know that feeling?

Last night? Last night was the EXACT OPPOSITE of that feeling.

Don't get me wrong. It had its moments. The 10 year old who was dressed as a tree with garlands of leaves strung around him? When he got to the part where he was supposed to drop his leaves (it was autumn) and he just about strangled himself with the leaves in an attempt to not miss his cue? I loved that kid.

When Meg's choir sang "Imagine" and "Happy Together"? Pretty good too. I'm just saying.... 10 more to go. (Note: if you were there last night? Your kid was good as well. )

When I got home I returned to my beloved latvian mitten....

Clm

It's getting there. It is here displayed against the very stripey goodness of the other mittens palm.
I'm delaying putting the tree up because the odds that I'm going to be able to continue to ignore the fact that Christmas is in 15 days will be nearly impossible with a 10 foot tree taking up most of the living room. I might be starting to freak out a little.

Gifts for knitters: Days 7,8,9 and 10 (I fell a little behind there)

Extremely cool personalized woven labels.

Note cards with pictures of yarn on it. If your knitter has to be writing instead of knitting at least put a picture of yarn on it.

Beautiful baskets from Peacecraft. Give your knitter a place to put yarn and projects while you do good in the world.

Rings with knitting on them, miraculously accomplished without it being lame or dorky. I'd totally wear the cable one. A good gift for the male knitter. (I think. Can't be too sure. I'm not promising.)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:48 AM

December 9, 2004

Desperate times...

We're sorry, The Yarn Harlot can't come to the blog right now.

Drill

She and super-brother have taken measures into their own hands and hope to report walls in short order. Despite the brutish manual labour, she thinks her hair looks pretty good.
Please leave a message after the tone.

Beep.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:03 PM

December 8, 2004

Plague of locusts.

I'm sure you all understood that the plague of locusts in the basement would be metaphoric. No actual locusts, just a string of irksome and annoying little things, that, much like locusts, are no big deal individually, but together are a paralysing disaster.

For starters, I have a splinter under the fingernail of my right index finger. (The finger otherwise known as "The finger that it turns out I use for everything in my whole life all day long") The splinter is not serious, the splinter will not harm me in any way...its only impact on my life is to provide a little stab of pain every 2-7 seconds all day long. (I can't find the stinking tweezers)
This wouldn't bother me too much if it wasn't for the drilling in the back of the house. Now, I'd be the last person to complain about the back of the house. The back of the house is even starting to look like the back of everyone else's house. I'm thrilled and happy that the back of the house is coming along, I just wish that the drilling noises didn't coincide with the stabbing finger thing.

Bomh2

Once I'd accepted the stabbing and the drilling and the phone...(did I mention that everyone in the whole world called yesterday during the three hours I was trying to sit and work?) I really didn't have many problems. Oh...except the hat I was knitting.
What hat? EXACTLY. I knit the better part of a hat yesterday until I discovered that the stabbing, drilling and ringing had apparently thrown me off my game a little and I was knitting a hat with a 31 inch circumference. (A little note to help you understand the freak show locust hat size: Joe has an enormous head. It is so large that when I tell people how big it is they suspect that I don't know how to use a tape measure. Joe's head is 25 inches around.) See the pretty hat? Feel the rising blood pressure?

Ahat

Never mind. I'm sure I can comfort myself with a little mitten knitting. I knit the red flowers, and made my way merrily about 5cm up the green and white hand. Where is it ?

2Lm

Don't ask. Apparently the whole enormo-hat thing caused some sort of brain damage and I didn't centre the pattern on the mitt. Ok. I didn't even try to centre the pattern. Actually, I screwed up the red flower border too and forgot to do the black braid at the top. This photo represents only what I was able to redo after the locust invasion.

Now normally, I'm a pretty relaxed person. That's a lie. I'm never a relaxed person, but normally I have a pretty good grip on real life anyway. I understand that these things happen. Some days just have real teeth to 'em, and you just have to accept that there will be days when there is stabbing, ringing, drilling, enormo-hats, whacked mittens and poor outlooks. I'm ok with that. I don't like it, but it happens. I am as a rock in the river. I should just let this flow over me.

And I would...except for that it is 17 days until Christmas. There is no room for error. There is no time for mistakes. This is the Precision-Operations of knitting. I must rise above the locusts set in my path. I must not be thrown off by the stabbing, ringing, drilling, enormo-hats and mitten retribution. I know how this goes. Today I restore order. Today...
Today I find the tweezers and take it one step at a time.

A little note to whoever is responsible for deciding to drown my blog comments in spam over the last two days:
In the interest of you not wasting your time and me not wasting my time, lets clear a few things up. I don't play roulette and I don't know what "Texas-hold-em" is, but I assure you that I don't want it. I don't need to diet, and I wouldn't buy drugs from you if you were paying *me*, furthermore, if I did want to make a health decision, I assure you I wouldn't think to myself, "Hey, didn't my blog comment spam offer me medical advice the other day? How convenient". While God and I are not on speaking terms, I understand that he probably wouldn't like you sending me bible verses with imbedded ads for what we shall politely refer to as adult toys and extra curricular activities. I hope he smites you. I'm not balding, I don't do that with my pets (and I think we can all agree that there is something very, very wrong with you and your suggestions.) I'm no prude, but I can tell you that I think better of women than you do and would prefer that if you must demean them (though this is probably why you were alone last night) with filth and poor taste that you do it somewhere where a feminist ain't paying the bills, baby. Finally, nobody here feels inadequate about their penis size (though sometimes we wonder what you are trying to prove) and can rise to the occasion without any guidance, concern or email from you. Please stop offering, it's offensive.
In conclusion, I'm going to offer you one more piece of advice. I will never, ever, no matter how desperate I become, or how convenient it may be, or how many times I see the word "busty" purchase anything from someone who is really, really PISSING ME OFF.

I bet your mother cries when she thinks about what you do for a living. Get your arse of my blog and better yourself.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:07 PM

December 7, 2004

100 things

1. I live with my love, Joe.

2. We have three daughters.

3. I never wanted a son.

4. We are not married.

5. In the last 17 years there has only been 10 days that I did not knit.

6. I am a vegetarian. I don’t mind being at the top of the food chain but I think eating meat is hard on the planet.

7. I eat one slice of turkey at Christmas. This always gives me a stomach ache.

8. I hate having dirty feet, but love bare feet.

9. I wash my feet before bed every night

10. I am very shy.

11. I am the oldest of four children. Two boys and two girls.

12. One of my brothers is an aboriginal Canadian.

13. I talk to my mother and siblings almost every day.

14. I love Joe’s family.

15. I was a La Leche League Canada Leader for 10 years.

16. I am an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and have been for 8 years.

17. I am not religious.

18. I love to play the SIMS and will take the game from my own children.

19. Ken is my best friend. We have been friends since I was 15.

20. I am a writer.

21. I am a birth doula and a childbirth educator.

22. I think it is a profoundly cool thing to be the first human to touch another person. I keep a private list of the names of people I touched first.

23. If there were only one food I could eat forever it would be wasabi rice crackers.

24. I am not a very organized person.

25. I try very hard not to ask a question until I am ready to hear both answers.

26. I talk a lot. If I am nervous, the amount is alarming.

27. I get a lot done, even though I am not a very organized person.

28. I work well under pressure. I will often procrastinate to create this pressure. This
occasionally backfires.

29. I was either pregnant or nursing for a continuous decade.

30. I like socks better than shoes. I only own 4 pairs of shoes. ( I am presuming that we are not counting skates.) Snow boots for the winter, Blundstones for the fall, Birkenstocks for the summer and a pair of black dress shoes in case some event comes up. This is a personal record number of shoes.

31. Joe is not the biological father of our children.

32. I am only 5’1”. Most people think this is a lie. They think I’m taller. This flips me out pretty seriously.

33. If I could change one thing about myself, I would be taller.

34. I am afraid of the dentist.

35. I am very proudly Canadian.

36. I can play the piano, but I suck pretty fiercely.

37. I use Canadian spellings and can get a little hostile if corrected.

38. I do a lot of yoga, but am often too self conscious to go to class.

39. I think I am a very fast knitter.

40. I hate doing the laundry.

41. I hate cleaning.

42. I like my house very clean. I understand that given #24, #40 and #41 I am doomed. This is a
constant source of irritation to me.

43. If unsupervised, I would spin and knit all day.

44. I am afraid of spiders though I pretend I am not so my kids won’t inherit it.

45. I try very, very hard to put people before things.

46. The younger a human being is, the better I like them.

47. I am often told that I am an empath. This worries me.

48. I like canning.

49. I don’t like cooking.

50. I like baking bread, but cannot make a decent pie crust. I don’t mind, since I hate pie,
especially apple. If you are an American, just let it go.

51. I feel like a good mother when I make soup, even though neither me nor my kids cares for
soup.

52. I am not graceful, and I have fallen “up” stairs.

53. I am mostly blind in my right eye, and am often startled by things happening on that side.

54. If I have writer’s block I take a bath. It always works.

55. I take a lot of baths.

56. My house has no shower.

57. I have a plan to take up a pack a day (maybe more) smoking habit when I am 80.

58. I love thunderstorms and extreme weather of all kinds. This has lead to a completely obsessive relationship with disaster movies.

59. I only recently learned to type well. In high school I once told my typing teacher that she had to pick. She could have it fast, or she could have it right. Not both.

60. If I am busy, I can forget to eat.

61. Due to a fixation on Joe’s part, I have seen every James Bond movie ever made many, many times.

62. I sort of like James Bond.

63. Good manners are very important to me.

64. I would never bungee jump.

65. I don’t usually wear makeup.

66. I don’t like to sleep and consider it wasted time. I seldom “sleep in”, never nap and always go to bed too late.

67. I drink a lot of coffee. I don’t ever drink decaf.

68. If there is no cream for my coffee, I won’t settle for milk, but will instead take it black.

69. I think sugar in coffee is gross.

70. Despite being an impulsive person, I really like schedules.

71. I grew up in Bramalea, a suburb of Toronto that is famous for having the entire city in alphabetical order. My house was in the “E” section.

72. I will not eat a peach unless it is peeled. The fuzz on the skin creeps me out.

73. I love crosswords and I’m pretty good at them.

74. If I have more than 2 drinks, I’m loaded.

75. I get lost all the time, and if I tell Joe I think we should go North, he turns South. Despite all this evidence that I do not, I believe I have a good sense of direction.

76. I have had most of my friends since high school.

77. I would rather drive a standard than an automatic. It feels safer.

78. I love airplanes and am thrilled if I get to take a plane somewhere.

79. I get very passionate about politics. I am very left wing.

80. My middle name is Anne.

81. I am a good public speaker, even though if frightens me.

82. I recycle and speak harshly to people who do not.

83. I have never, ever returned a ball of yarn to the store and furthermore, I can’t imagine doing so.

84. I hate the winter, but I don’t care how hot it gets.

85. Even though I hate the winter, I don’t think I would live somewhere that didn’t have one.

86. I love lists.

87. I have never had much money, I would rather have time.

88. I think cell phones are a nightmare, and don’t have one, or want one. When Joe lost his I was thrilled.

89. I can stay awake for more than 24 hours without really minding.

90. I love to travel. I would go anywhere.

91. If I could be a movie star I would be Jennifer Aniston. I know this is wrong.

92. I am a pacifist.

93. I have a very quick temper, but am never angry for long.

94. I dance in public. Sometimes on the sidewalk. This embarrasses my children.

95. I can’t sing, but wish desperately that I could.

96. When I am older I am going to learn to play the cello.

97. I worry a lot about big things like war, racism, poverty and human rights.

98. Except for parties, I don’t carry a purse. I don’t know why I carry a purse at parties.

99. I keep ALL my yarn in ziplock baggies of varies sizes, due to an almost pathologic fear of moths

100. I try very hard to be a good person.

(PS Elise in Brooklyn won the thrum kit. Congratulations!)

Posted by Stephanie at 12:28 PM

December 6, 2004

Got a superpower?

I am seriously excited. I'm just having the best time these last few days. (You know how that ends, don't you? I've said it out loud and now there will be a plague of locusts in the basement by 3:30 this afternoon. ) Reasons why?

In my wildest dreams I had never imagined that you would all be so nice about the bookbookbook. The whole time I was writing it I kept imagining that there would be mocking and laughter and important people would tell me to go back to knitting and blogging and making muffins. I can't tell you how happy I am that you are all either really genuinely pleased about the book or possess the kindness to lie to me. Either way, you're all sweet as pie. If I was the type to blow air kisses, I would.

It is snowing. It is level three snow, though it may be level 4 by the end of the day. Level three snow not only stays on the ground, but requires the use of tools to manage it. I am looking for the shovel. (How do you misplace a snow shovel? Seriously, I mean how many places could it be? Shovels are huge, it's not like it could be stashed in the back of a drawer somewhere.) Level three snow also makes you feel less stupid about hauling a tree into your house, which is something I'm thinking about doing later. (Thus beginnith "The Tree Thing" between Joe and I. It's already started. Yesterday when we were at Rona Joe suggested that we look at the trees. I glanced at them and knew all I need to know. They only had like....40 trees. That's really not enough of a tree pool to choose from. Joe rolled his eyes. It starts with eye rolling. )

I finished the first Latvian Mitten.

Gwl

You know, the one that I innocently posted a picture of without realizing that there was a HUGE HONKING MISTAKE in the pattern? Yeah. That one. I had even yanked back the "are you smokin reefer while you're knitting" style decreases and corrected them when the first of the comments gingerly pointing out the HUGE HONKING MISTAKE started to roll in. Once I got over having my soul crushed, I decided to fix it. Since I had already hit my daily quota for how many little tiny Latvian stitches I can frog without feeling nausea and rage, I decided to take a different approach. I would ladder down each stitch to the error, correct each one with a crochet hook and....well. That was the whole plan.
This is what I looked like while executing the plan.

Focus

Nobody said it didn't take a little "focus". How I look brings me to...

I labour under the delusion that I have Sarah Jessica Parkers hair, and that I just need to find the right hairdresser to release it. (I also need to accept that Sarah Jessica Parker probably spends more than $20 on a haircut and $1.29 on shampoo as well as having a personal stylist hanging around..but it's my delusion and I'll do it my way.) The last time I went to get a haircut I went to the little old Greek lady around the corner. I said " I want Sarah Jessica Parker hair". The lady said "Who?"
"Sarah Jessica Parker" I insist..."she's from Sex in the City."
"WHAT!" the little old lady says....The sex thing might have put her over the edge. I sputter for a while and try to explain that I'm really not watching porn or anything and that it's a good show, and really not as morally corrupt as it sounds and besides that I'm really just talking about the hair and....She interrupts me, waving my words away.

"You sit down" she says. "I make it nice."

Needless to say, while my hair was "nice" (see above) it wasn't Sarah Jessica Parker hair.
Saturday I went to an actual Salon. I noticed several things.
-the stylist didn't try to give me bridesmaid hair.
-she pretended to think that I was in my 20's (bless her little heart)
-she washed my hair with some shampoo that didn't smell like watermelon (ours does)
-when I said I wanted SJP hair...she said, "Oh yeah."
I love it. I bought mousse. When a hairstyle drives me to purchase product you know it's good. I'd show you...but I didn't put the mousse in yet. (Do you think it matters that the mousse was $1.29?)

I knit a pair of clogs as Latvian mitten antidote. It took me 4 hours. Seriously, 4 hours. Who can do that? I mean, admittedly it's big needles and doubled yarn and I've knit the pattern a hundred times and I didn't sew them up yet, but 4 hours? That shocked even me.

Clogs

It may be that my superpower is clog knitting. I was really hoping for something like flying, creating peace or growing massive foodcrops to relieve world hunger (oh wait! invisibility would be good too) ...but no. Clogs. This is almost as surprising as discovering that the most useful thing I learned in University was how to make a really killer Caesar.

Contest
Ken is in the process of using some sort of technical computer thing to randomly generate a name. The winner of the thrum kit will be notified by email later today, and I'll post the winner tomorrow, when I will also try to work up the nerve to put up the 100 things list.

Gifts for knitters: Day 6

Get your favourite knitter some cool Knitty stuff. Loving this hoodie.
Wanting you to think very seriously about your knitter before buying this. Be careful.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:31 PM

December 3, 2004

Denial

I've decided that with all the bookbookbookbook going on in the comments that I would finally have to deal with the rumour that I'm writing a book.

I can absolutely 100% DENY that I am writing a book. The truth is,

I already wrote it! (Kindly insert maniacal, hysterical laughter here)

Kkecover

By the way? No matter how hysterical you imagined that laughter, I assure you that you didn't even come close. This is the cover of my very own book, being published by Storey Publishing and being distributed by Workman in the US and Thomas Allen in Canada. Every time I look at it I get a little woozy.
The book is so real that it has it's own page in the sales Catalogue. This truly freaks me out. Truly.

Catalogue

(I made this a thumbnail in case you didn't want your whole page eaten up by the dumb catalogue page that I love but you don't care about. Click if you care. Cruise on by if you don't). The book "officially" comes out in March, but you should be able to see in on Amazon in a few weeks. (I can't believe I just typed that. It's like a dream, except I don't think it would have been so much work in my dream...)

I am proud like you wouldn't believe....and I really need to have a little lie down now.

Gifts for knitters Day 3,4 and 5 (it's the weekend, I'm stickin' extra in.)

Very funky jewellery for knitters.

The Sheep Thrills mug from here. (Which is very cool and on my table right now)

These. 24K gold knitting needles. Only $2,585. (Thanks Kat...I'll run right out and get them. Maybe 2 pair. Hell, I'm a writer now.)

Posted by Stephanie at 12:00 PM

December 2, 2004

Really? Walls?

Well, it would seem that I was right about the universe seeking balance again. Why would I be surprised about that? I had such a honking good time reading all your comments yesterday (though, seriously...Who would have thought that there were so many of you that want a lowly little thrummed mitten kit? Stunning) that late last night the universe decided to exact a little "balance". See the mitten?

Fulm

Looks good eh? LIES. This photo is, as Hank would say, a "Lying, liar, bad guy". I could pretend that it was fine. The picture would let me get away with it, but the guilt of misleading a bunch of fine knitters who think me an honest and honourable knitter would eat me alive. I have started the decreases for the pointy mitten top, placing them with great enthusiasm, commitment and finesse. It would appear that there are two decreases, separated by a stripe of elegant green running up each side of the mitten. That would be the lie.
I have somehow placed all of the decreases in the wrong spot.(s) All four of the slinky little devils are on the BACK of the mitten. The worst part is how long I continued to knit them up the wrong spots, knowing deep in my heart that they were in the wrong spots. I just kept going. I couldn't help myself. My desire to avoid frogging this mitten top was so strong that I couldn't let myself see the truth. Today? Buh-bye.

Almost making up for the crushing mitten defeat balance?

Ianr

I have a roof and a door. I also have my brother Ian and his buddy Rich who are here with tools, attitude and promises of something mystic they call "walls". The current effort appears to consist of standing around looking macho and using phrases like "hammer drill" "2X4 framing" and some sort of incredible thing called a "vapour barrier". This "vapour barrier" is being afforded the highest possible regard, since I hear tell of it stopping the back room from having it's own weather forecast. My attractive, clean, handy brother Ian is posing here with the alleged location of the "walls" and

Ianm

His wedding ring. Sorry ladies.

Gifts for Knitters: Day 2

Yarn. I know, my friendly little non-knitter. I hear you. You are telling me that your esteemed knitter already has yarn. You are thinking about getting them an appliance instead. There are a few myths you need to let go of.

1. My Knitter already has a lot of yarn. Untrue. I don't know how much yarn your knitter has. I don't need to know. They can use more.
2. My Knitter wouldn't want more yarn because they have "too much". I don't know who told you this...perhaps your knitter has said that they had "too much" yarn. They were lying. Sometimes we knitters say things like that to make you think that we are aware and sympathetic to your perception that there is "too much" yarn. Your knitters does not really believe that they have "too much" yarn. They may not have enough time to knit....but they do not have "too much" yarn. There is no such thing as too much yarn.
3. I'm afraid that I will get my knitter bad yarn.

I can't even respond to that.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:20 PM

December 1, 2004

The Harlottiest Month

Ten Ways that December is going to be really fun in Harlotville.

1. The month kicks off with Claudia's birthday. Go now. I'll wait. Fill the comments of our favourite anti-blue, orange loving, funny, generous, sweetie-pie blogger with well wishes. It's her 40th birthday. Imagine if every single person who reads this blog just went over and dropped a quick "Happy Birthday" in her comments? Overwhelm her. She deserves it.

2. 24 days until Christmas. I love Christmas. I am not religious but our family has embraced this season as a wonderful time to celebrate the people that we love and remind ourselves of our commitment to peace, kindness and the generosity that we should have every day. Plus there are cookies.
I love cookies. I word hard to make Christmas memorable. Unfortunately, this means that I swing back and forth between frantic and thrilled or thrilled and peaceful, or paniked and relaxed, or crazed and grateful for much of the month, knitting like a demon the whole time. That is very Harlotesque...is it not?

3. It is cold enough for mittens. I was going to knit them anyway...but now I look less crazy. (I know that "less" is all I can really shoot for.)

Insinel

I'm showing the mitten inside out for those of you who asked. I completely understand the desire to see the inside. I love it when people show the inside. Look...here's another one.

Linside

4. You have my annual holiday nervous breakdown to look forward to. It's pretty much guaranteed that I'll be "a few elves short of an effective workshop" by mid December. That's not good for me, but should prove entertaining for those of you who are a safe distance away.

5. Bookbookbookbook.

6. I have decided to provide an important public service. From now until December 24th I will be helping the friends and relatives of knitters to choose appropriate gifts for knitters. There will be one suggestion each day. Print them out. Leave them around. If we all work together, it should be possible to prevent any really horrendous "blender incidents" this year.

7. The girls are home from school for weeks at a time when I am sleep deprived, attempting to maintain my job and keep the house clean while simultaneously shopping, baking and putting festive clean clothes on the whole lot of ingrates while playing The Chieftans really loud. That should be fun.

8. Once again I will be warping the time-space continuum in order to knit...well, a lot. While even I cannot figure out how I do it, I can tell you that this year it will involve The Official Drink of The Harlottyiest Month - Screech and fat-free Egg Nog, as well as enough gingerbread to cause gastrointestinal effects. This combination is almost enough to take the edge off of the completely irrational fear I have of Mummers. (Mummers have never come to my house, but from the first moment that I learned about them I've been worried. I live with a Newfoundlander and so must never, ever lift my guard). See that? This is also the Harlottiest month because it is full of Canadian Christmas culture, and apparently alliteration.

9. December is the month in which Joe's completely insane different approach to the holidays only makes me more me. I am bracing myself for such seasonal greats as "The tree thing" in which Joe tries to get a small tree and I mock him. "The party thing" in which we attempt to go to the same holiday party, together, at the same time...and "The Shopping thing" in which I loose my mind in progressively hysterical increments trying to get the man to BUY ANYTHING before the 24th.

10 Yesterday, when I was gripped in the 100 things list debate, Gail said:

I think it would be more fun if we, your readers, listed 100 things we know about you...your relationship with Prince, places the Dublin Bay sock has gone, how many bras you own, the name of the guy working on the back of your house, etc.

I laughed and laughed..then I thought....I think that would be more fun too.
I'll make you a deal. You put your lists in the comments (it doesn't have to be 100 things...one is fine, maybe even better) , and I'll enter you in the first annual Harlottiest Month Mitten Contest. (There may never be another...)
I'll enter all the names in a draw for a thrummed mitten kit. Not just any kit either...the yarn is the very same yarn purchased in Newfoundland and used to knit the Rhinebeck sweater, and the white roving to make the thrums was washed and carded by me. (The Harlotttiest Month Mitten Contest is a low-budget affair). I'll post the winner on Monday...you can enter until Saturday at Midnight. Also on Monday...I'll post the real list. (If I feel like it).

I love December.

Gifts for knitters: Day 1

The Blue Ridge Soap Shed

Extremely cool soaps, balms and salves designed for knitters.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:01 PM