January 31, 2005

Don't get used to it.

Fine. I got tagged for one of these stupid meme things. Now, I know that I have never expressed my hostility about these before, mostly because I don't mind 'em on other peoples blogs, but you would think that the fact that I've been blogging for a year and haven't even done ONE would mean something. Still, I have never been entirely clear about memes and dental work being about equal on my "big fun in the big city scale" so when Aubergine (our gentleman of the comments) tagged me on his new blog, I thought to myself "Fine. You know what? I'll do one."
This is the first, and the last time and I'm only doing it because I was looking for a reason to mention Aubergines
new blog anyway. So there.

1. The last movie you went to see in a theater:

A series of unfortunate events" which was really, really good, though Sam is still a little bit bitter that they left out some of the stuff in the books. Joe is still chuckling because when Jim Carey needs to be a salty sea captain...he plays it as a Newfie. Makes me want to call up Jim and say "Psstt...your Canadian is showing".

2. The last movie you watched at home:

Festival Express"

3. How many movies do you own?

31 (I counted. No reason to be innacurate). Though *technically* they are only mine because they are in my house. Nothing about the collection reflects my taste. With the exception of a couple for the kids, the rest of the movies belong to Joe and are pretty exclusively James Bondesque in nature. All of them have stuff blowing up, and a really surprising number of them have Harrison Ford in them. If I didn't have fairly reliable evidence to support the idea that Joe is straight, I'd say he had a thing for Harrison Ford.

What was the last movie you bought?

Er...does the Crunch Pilates Workout dvd count?

4. Got Netflix (or a similar service)?

No. We have a Blockbuster at the corner... so it seems silly. (But I want it anyway...mostly because I love anything that is delivered. Anything.) Before we used the Blockbuster we went to the little independent guy down the street. We quit when Joe went to China, and I went into the shop alone. I tried to rent something..."Monster" I think, and the guy told me that I couldn't rent that without my husbands permission because I was a "Nice Girl". I went pretty ballistic. Then I went home (with no movie) and waited nine days for Joe to get home from China. Then I told him to fix it.
Joe came back from the movie place and said, "It's Okay honey. I told him that you have my permission to rent anything you want."
I was so angry, at both of them, really....that I put on my coat, walked to the shop, went straight to the back where they have the "XXX" movies in the little closet. I stuck my arm in, grabbed one and slammed it on the counter.
It was only when I got home that the irony of renting degrading pornography to make a feminist point sort of dawned on me. I didn't watch it.

What are the next three movies in your queue?

Well, I don't have that there "netflix" thingie...but I want to see
"Sky Captain and the world of tomorrow"
"Sideways" and

5. List five movies you adore/mean a lot to you:

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". ("Who are those guys?")
The Guns of Navarone" (I can't explain this one. I'm an enigma.)
Fargo". (I love Marge and I have a real thing for William H. Macy and well...the Coen brothers. Anything by them.)
This is Spinal Tap"
Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"

6. Name your guilty pleasure movie (or genre):

Musicals. Let's never speak of this again.

7. What's your favourite quote from a movie?

Dr. Evil: "You're not quite evil enough. You're semi-evil. You're quasi-evil. You're the margarine of evil. You're the Diet Coke of evil, just one calorie, not evil enough."


Anything from
Zoolander. Especially that part where the girl spills her guts about how the pressure from the fashion industry has really hurt her self image and how for a while she was "Bulemic", then Zoolander looks at her, and he's totally stunned and he says "You can read minds?"

8. Name 3 people to whom you're going to pass these questions on, and why:

The madness stops here. I'm not passing it on.

Your regularly scheduled mitten disasters and meltdowns, along with prizes and merriment will return tomorrow, when your local Yarn Harlot doesn't have to do a dumb meme, and has retrieved the digital camera from the studio where she left it because she had two beers at the party.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:33 AM

January 28, 2005


Every once in a while the universe seeks to sort me out and make me humble. It's that balance thing again.
Yesterday I ran an entire day of errands, did my real job and finished up the day by picking up the Hank-man for a sleep-over. (My sister has gone skiing in Whistler for a few days. While she sits in hot-tubs, glides elegantly down the slopes and drinks hot toddies, I am explaining to Hank why I have "funny shampoo", how come my apple juice is wrong, why I don't know the whole "Dora song" and how I really do think that despite these complex and serious problems, he can stay here for one night anyway. Mr. Washie and I are trying not to be bitter.) Things were going pretty darned well.

Last night I finished the MSF mittens and blocked them and gloried in my accomplishment. I got a good nights sleep and I got up this morning and somehow managed to get four children going and get them out the door to four different schools. It was "pyjama day" at Hank's kindergarten, and therefore I did not have to convince him to get dressed, a big bonus, since my morning had already been thrown into confusion by the presence of someone to short to get themselves a bowl of freakin' Cheerios while I drink coffee and stare into space. I am not a morning person.

Somehow, despite not getting any coffee this morning, Hank and I were able to get out the door and off to his school on time, leaving Joe to wrangle the other three off to their schools. I arrived back at the house, eager for coffee, a chat with Joe, and to take pictures of the MSF mittens that I'm so proud of. I stagger up to the door, reach for the doorknob and...It's locked.

It is twenty degrees below zero. I have no keys and my husband has gone to work. (An aside here? This is a man that never goes to work at 9:00. Never. Ever. I can only conclude that the many years prior to this morning where he could not possibly be convinced to leave before 10, no matter how crazy he was making me, was all a ruse designed to lull me in to a state where I wouldn't take my keys with me this morning.) I'm locked out. Without coffee, without my bank card, without anything. I stomp around for a while, bug my neighbour to let me use her phone to try and track down Joe....then give up, head for Megan's school, have the office pull her out of class (mother of the year award again) get her keys and come back home. (I believe that due to the lack of coffee, the early hour and the temperature, I deserve to be forgiven for anything I may have said about Joe during this period of time.)

Once in the house, I made coffee, drank a few cups in rapid succession and fetched the MSF mittens to show you. I'm so happy with how they came out.
I took this picture of the beautiful matching fronts....


Then flipped them over and took this picture of the beautiful matching backs.


See it? It hit me like a tonne of bricks. (I would rather not discuss how it is that I could have blocked these without seeing it, but instead remind you that I am mostly blind in one eye and not very smart).

After sitting in stunned silence for the required amount of time, I have, after careful consideration accepted these three choices. You may choose.

1. Unravel the thumb on one of the mittens, graft the thumbhole closed in some sort of insane fair-isle grafting feat that will certainly involve hard liquor and curse words, then snip the threads where the thumb *should* be, unravel that part of the row, pick up the stitches and re-knit the thumb in it's new and exciting location.

2. Knit a third mitten...one for the left hand.


3. Go into the backyard and begin heaping up snow until I have a pile at least 4 feet tall. Compact this snow into a firm heap and begin the tedious process of digging out a wee channel that will lead to a small interior room in the snow mountain. Then I will retrieve the mittens from the living room and take them out to the snow house, where I will remain until spring, lighting a small fire to warm myself while I drink myself stupid on screech, eat chocolate and use my very sharpest black handled scissors to snip the mittens into a thousand tiny little pieces that I will feed to the fire while aggressively and incoherently cursing my stupidity , sucking on icicles and trying to think of a reason to go on.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:18 PM

January 26, 2005

That noise.

Have we ever spoken of my love for babies? I know that there are many people who find them tiresome and complex, but I love them. Generally speaking, if you are under three months old...I'm your lady. I know what they want, I know how they want it, and my patience for them is just about infinite. I will, very, very happily walk a baby for hours to put them to sleep. (Although this is seldom necessary, since human beings that small seem to find me boring on a cellular level. You put them in my arms and they check out.) The only exception to this rule, naturally, was my own children. Amanda (who I credit with teaching me many of my skills) screamed herself purple-faced for just about every moment of the first three months of her life. This experience has left in me a profound aversion to what we call "that noise". I will run around the block, I will swing, dance, sing and jump, anything to keep babies from making "that noise". Such is my dedication to preventing *that noise*, along my profound belief that babies cry because they have problems, (even if we don't know what they are) that me and my team of dedicated baby-wranglers will perform any feat of human endurance regardless of it's ridiculousness.

Once, when Hank (who is still using the downstairs bathroom...to update yesterday's trauma) was a tiny baby, my sister had to leave him for a few hours. She left the wee bundle here and he began to make "that noise". I worked my baby voodoo. I danced, swayed, thumped, jumped, patted....I put him in the baby sling and wandered the night, all to no avail. Hank and I were both beside ourselves with my failure. As we approached critical meltdown levels of "that noise", one of the girls needed me upstairs so I tucked the tiny Hankster under my arm football style and jogged up the stairs. Silence. Complete blessed silence.
I walked to the bedroom..."that noise" returned. I jogged back down the stairs...Silence.

The next two and a half hours were spent with Joe, Ken and I running up and down the stairs with my nephew tucked under our arms in shifts. When one persons legs began to burn out, they would stagger to the living room, breath ragged, arms outstretched, wee babe extended and desperately pass off the tiny dude to the next waiting adult. We were crippled for days, we still talk about it, it has become an epic family story spoken about in hushed tones and with great reverence. It was insane, it was maniacal...it could likely be used to lock me up, but the important thing was that while we did it...the baby did not make "that noise".

Consider then, how I must have felt when I got this picture in my inbox with the subject line "Quinn loves her new sweater".


That, is Quinn, the baby next door. She is wearing a Morehouse Merino sweater and hat made by me. As much as you and I know that it should be impossible, the sweater and hat are apparently making her cry. (I have enough experience with babies that I understand that explaining to her that this is very good merino is not going to do me any good) She is making that noise, and it is my knitting that is doing it. This disturbs me to no end, but somehow, the only way I could think of responding to that picture was like this.


Maybe she's crying 'cause her feet are cold. Yeah, that's it. Please don't judge me for never even considering for a moment that the answer to Quinn's troubles might be less merino...and not MORE.
(psst...Greg and Kat, go look in your mailbox, but for the love of your neighbours sanity, warm them up before you put them on her.)

The parade of thank you gifts continues!

The charming and kind Nina has 7 skeins (one bag) of Dyed in the Wool, Wool/Silk, 60% fine merino, 40% cultivated silk, 3.5 oz hanks, 234 yards each that looks like this


and will be travelling the mail service to Pamela R.

Nanette Blanchard has graciously donated a copy of her book "Stranded Colour Knitting" (which would be a big help if you were to say...give up your life to knit Latvian Mittens?) and the lucky recipient is Kimberly Q.

Remember "I never win anything" Caroline L. from yesterday? She donated three kits to make her beautiful Mobius Scarf


and one each will be making their way to the needles of Seanna, Erin L. and Lori G.

Yesterday Jayme sent me the most beautiful stitch markers, gold, hematite, rose quartz...


and in her remarkable generosity has a set each to give to Lori in Ohio and Tara T.
and a beaded handle for a felted bag for Cate (you get to choose a colour if you email before friday. run Cate run!)

My most sincere thanks to the donors and congratulations to the recipients! (whom I have emailed)

Live near me?
My darling man is holding a concert/party fundraiser for MSF at his studio, MonuMental Sound and Music on Saturday night. Joe and I will be partying with the likes of The Skydiggers, The Cash Brothers, Jessy Bell-Smith, Peter Elkas with local genius and all round good guy DJ Sky fillin' it in.

There's no way to go wrong with this much talent in one place, and it's destined to be an exceptionally good time. To get on the list, all you need to do is make a donation of $25 or more to MSF and email the receipt to Joe at party@monumentalsound.com
or email me and I'll send you more info. Party with the Harlot. Do good works, hear good music.
You heard it here first.

Llama, llama, DUCK.
(see yesterday's comments)

Posted by Stephanie at 12:09 PM

January 25, 2005

A moment of silence.

It is with enormous regret that I pass on the following email from my sister Erin (mother of my 4 year old nephew Hank.)

It is with great sadness we regret to inform you that Bruce the Fish passed away peacefully today at home, in his bowl. He will be sadly missed by Erin, who never cleaned his tank, and Hank, who regularly over-fed him. Bruce had a short life, and not a very happy one since Baby the Cat joined the family. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that cash donations be dropped off at the above mentioned address.

PS. I do not recommend the fish flushing funeral technique (recommended to me by Jack) as Hank will no longer sit on the toilet.

PSS. The fish has actually been dead for 2 days , but I let Hank believe that Bruce was sleeping due to a busy work schedule. (I have no time for death)

I know that you will all join me in a moment of silence for Bruce The Fish and also send Erin our very best wishes as she attempts to quickly undo the damage done to Hanks fragile toiletting routine. I know that I speak for every mother out there when I say, from the bottom of my heart..."Thanks Jack".

The mittens are coming along.


My boredom with them has passed and I am once again enamoured of their smart little star motifs and exciting pointy tops. Assuming that I don't get distracted again, that the grief I feel over the tragic loss of Bruce doesn't prevent me from finishing, we can assume that the end is in sight, though I wouldn't go getting married to the idea that they will be finished tomorrow or anything drastic like that. I laugh in the face of predictability. I mock deadlines. I am...well, apparently not very reliable. Sorry about that.

Today we shower the generous with more gifts. The super folks at Lion Brand have donated gifts for members of TSF. (Isn't it nice when yarn people share? Does a woman good to see yarn freely given like that. When I run the world, much of the yarn will be free.)

3 balls Moonlight Mohair in "Tundra" (enough for a scarf) is going out to Rabbitch! (I suppose there will be no confusion about *which* Rabbitch that might be.)


4 balls Landscapes in "Country sunset" to Siri! (again...probably not going to be a whole whack of Siri's beating down my door)


3 balls of Magic stripes sock yarn (1 ball makes 1 Pair of socks)


One each going to: Joanna S., Caroline L (who assured me that entering her in the draw was completely pointless. Snork. The fates disagree), and Tara S.

Risa has generously donated a copy of Jacqueline Fee's Sweater Workshop and it will be winging it's way to Katherine C. (ps. Look at Risa's babies in the top left of her blog. Dangerously cute.)

I have emailed all parties concerned.
There is much, much more...but there's only so much merriment and happiness we should be engaging in during the period of mourning that Bruce The Fish so richly deserves. Note: Bruce was only a fish, so I intend to mourn pretty briefly. Probably just until Hank will sit on the toilet again. Peace out.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:35 PM

January 24, 2005


So, I knit and knit all weekend and I didn't finish the mitten. I knit other stuff. Well, that and I engaged in my new hobby..shovelling out the front walk. (What? Don't look at me like that. What's wrong with you people. Did you really think I was absolutely going to finish like I said? You come here every day, you read the whole thing at the top that says "Yarn Harlot", you email me and say "Hey Harlot" but all of a sudden I don't remain faithful to a knitting project and wander off with some other tantalizing little fibre hussy and all of you are shocked? C'mon. Get it together people. HARLOT. What did you expect? Wipe the surprise off your face and get it together. I'm still giving away stuff today. I only fell down on the mittens. )

Ok. So now you are all wondering what could have tempted me away from my loving, faithful little MSF mittens and I have to tell you...it didn't take much. It snowed and snowed and my feet stayed frozen enough to give me focus, and I finished the fuzzy feet.


I've put my foot beside them for scale, but really, the best indication that they are freakishly huge pre-felting is that they can be worn as a hat. (No, I'd rather not discuss what prompted me to put it on my head. )


I felted them in three trips through the washer. because they are small, and because I was really behind on the laundry I felted them by just tossing them in Mr. Washie with the dark wash. Yup. Every time I did a load I tossed them in with it. When they were the right size...I put them in the dryer with the other laundry. How's that for a felting technique?


I love them a lot, and they are really warm and cozy. I made the ladies medium, which was a pretty classic mistake, since like every other thing I have ever knit for myself in my whole life...they are a little big. I labour under the delusion, despite being a pretty small person, that I am a medium. All three of my daughters, including the 10 year old, have bigger feet than me and I think I am a medium. Classic.

Thank you

Sit down, take a deep breath, and look at the total raised for MSF. You guys are incredible. Simply incredible. The generosity you have shown is absolutely boggling. The first deserving recipients of thank you gifts are below, (I've emailed the winners, to prevent confusion among people with the same first name, if you didn't get an email...it isn't you. If you think see your name here, check your email before you get excited.) and the party goes on all week. I refuse to say which day the mittens will be done.
(For anybody who wonders about these things....I used a random number generator to pick)

Laurie's beautiful handspun sock kit goes to Leslie B.


Susan's beautiful stitch markers go to Beth S.

2 skeins of Collinete One Zero in Cezanne from Shannon go to Kate W.

A copy of Knitlit, also from the very generous Shannon goes to Lizabeth C.

550 yards of a wool/silk blend handspun by Sandi goes to Sandy!


I know that goodness is it's own reward, but these gifts are a nice bonus...don't ya think? My most sincere thanks to Laurie, Shannon, Susan and Sandi for giving such wonderful presents. Feel the love everybody. Honk if you can't wait for tomorrow.

Finally, Laurie from Michigan made the adorable "Wool house" button that is new on my sidebar. Gives a whole new meaning to "cute as a button" doesn't it? Steal at will, but remember to save it to your own computer.

I'm going to go work on the mittens. Probably.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:38 PM

January 21, 2005


I'm a little under the weather these last few days and it turns out that I can't come up with an entry that hangs together. (Good one eh? See me? Pretending that they USUALLY DO?) Instead, rambling. (Again..hardee har har. I'm cracking myself up today.)
Things That Do Not Hang Together That I Am Thinking About.

1. I'm trying to use bloglines. So far I'm not sure that I have subscribed to any blogs, (but I may have...I clicked some things while I was panicking) I sometimes get asked to choose between two feeds. "index.rdf" or "atom.xml".
Since I have absolutely no idea (I cannot stress this enough. I have no working concepts here. I understand what an index is, and I'm familiar with an "atom" but my understanding of these two things seems to give me absolutely no help in this context.) Can someone explain to me in very, very quiet, non threatening language which of these two feeds I want and why I'm being asked to choose?

2. Actually? Screw that. Don't explain anything. Just tell me which feed I want.

3. It is very cold again. The fuzzy feet have returned.


Luckily, it is the same pair. I was saved from casting on another pair by two factors. A) it only warmed up for a couple of days. B) I don't put anything away until it's been hanging around for a couple of weeks, not days. When my feet got cold again last night and I thought "Wow. I wish I could do something about my cold feet" the fuzzy feet from the other day were still sitting on the end table by my cup of tea.

4. I've started the second of the fuzzy feet before finishing the first. I have done this because I am worried about running out of the navy colour.

5. I am striping them so that they do not match, on purpose.

6. I am doing this as a personal development challenge. I don't know if any of you have noticed this...but I can be just the tiniest little bit whacked out of my freaking mind, anal-retentive, focused on my knitting. I'm trying to loosen up by deliberately not matching these slippers.

7. It is making me crazy.

8. I don't know if I can do it.

9. If I can actually KNIT unmatched slippers, the question that then presents itself is, Will I be able to WEAR unmatched slippers.

10. This is hysterically funny to me because nothing about what I am wearing today (or any other day) could be called "matching". It is both a shame and a relief to me that every single bit of meticulousness, tidiness or ability to match that I have in my life is directed toward knitting.

11. You can pre-order my book on Amazon. Something about this makes it feel so much like "a real book" that I am a little woozy when I think of it.

12. The MSF mittens are going to be done by Monday.


For those of you who asked, I'm using pattens found in "Latvian Mittens: Traditional Designs & Techniques" (Lizbeth Upitis) you won't find the pattern in there exactly as I'm knitting them, since I've combined charts 67 and 68 and added the diamond back..but if you wanted to knit the same ones, you could do that too.
I'm using Patons Kroy on 2mm (size 0) needles.

13. I am using the old "Kroy" not the new "Kroy socks". They are different in a subtle but critical way. This notice is not intended to be taken as a huge honking slag toward "Kroy socks", simply a warning that the two yarns are different and I am not using "Kroy socks" right now, but may in the future, especially as the worlds supply of plain old "Kroy" runs out. I will take a moment to point that anyone who believed that I might have looked a little bit silly when I bought what may have been referred to as "a surprising amount of Kroy" for the stash is not giggling so hard now that they can't get it. Suckers.

14. I am happy that the Mittens will be done on Monday because Monday is the day that we begin the giving of thank you gifts to the generous and kind souls who contributed some of their wealth to MSF. You are making an enormous difference in the live of people in places like Burundi, where 85-90% of the population somehow survives on $1 a week. This is only one of the places Médecins Sans Frontières will spend your money, bringing healthcare to the most impoverished and desparate people in the most dangerous places. Tricoteuses Sans Frontiéres/ Knitters Without Borders (LOOK at our total) is making huge change. To celebrate, all next week we give out the many phenomenal and generous thank you gifts. Can't wait? Go get yourself a present. (All profits to MSF, and many thanks to Abby for all her work making her original button bigger.)

15. My blogiversary is Sunday. One year. I'm so glad I met all of you.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:55 AM

January 19, 2005

Tuesdays are for spinning

So for a little while now, the blog readers have been largely split on one issue. There is Camp A, who believe that I should be able to knit and spin what I want regardless of promises I may have made to a certain lovely Man who lives here with me in the wool house, and Camp B, who have been wondering (and asking) where Joe's gansey project may have gone to and when exactly do I plan on making good on it.

Camp B is led by Rams who is a guilt-mistress of the highest order. Rams has left comments on the blog over the last several weeks pressuring me on Joe's behalf. Rams wonders if I will ever return to spinning for Joe. Rams says she can hardly face another Wednesday where "Tuesdays are for spinning" comes and goes again without even a moments thought given to poor gansey-less Joe. Rams pressure has gotten so intense, that yesterday I decided that while I could totally live without dedicating another spinning day to Joe, I couldn't live with facing the enormous disappointment that Rams would ooze today if I blew it off again.

Besides, I have a new drumcarder.


Here are some things I learned about drumcarding.

-drumcarding is way fast. While your average non-spinning person would probably still observe the process and think you were out of your mind for deciding to make yarn like this, it's like greased lightning compared to hand carding.

-the tines on a drumcarder are extremely sharp.

-my last tetanus shot was in August of 2003.

-fleece that is still a little wee bit greasy (naturally, this is the way I like them, since I appear to have some sort of aversion to cleaning anything really thoroughly) are harder to card. This may mean that I need to do a better job of washing fleeces but I'm still open to alternatives, should you know of one.

-The small wheel on the carder is called the "licker-in", and the process of removing the roving from the carder is called "Doffing".

-This makes people (read: Joe) really interested in your after dinner converstation until they find out that you aren't just talking dirty or making lewd suggestions.

-Drumcarders are so much fun that you will not stop until you have carded all available fleece in the house and forced the children to watch.

-Three batts off of the carder make this much spinning. (Please, lest you knock the wind right out of my sails, do not point out to me that I am so far away from a gansey for Joe that it almost seems silly to continue).


Despite my devotion to Rams and the fact that I begin and end each day with her happiness and satisfaction held foremost in my thoughts....I worked a tiny bit on the MSF.


I have placed them side by side so that you may note that I have reversed the direction of the braids for the right mitten. I have a thing about symmetry.

Finally, check this out


It's a copy of a really cool Zine put out by Toronto local Jae Steele called "take back the knit" and I love it. It's edgy, funky...and despite it's non-glossy whole wheat appearance...just as much a decent read as the big fancy mags. (Maybe more...and I'm not just saying that because my thrum faq is inside). It's representative of a whole grass roots "you can do it" approach to knitting that I love. There are 12 simple patterns inside...along with articles with names like "knitting for cheap" and "we don't need no stinking patterns". If it sounds like your cuppa herbal tea, tell Jae.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:32 PM

January 18, 2005


I got up this morning discovered that the house was a little nippy. We have our heat on a timer thing, so we save energy by having the heat down while we are in our cozy beds and then it comes on again before we get up. We had to spend the money for the one that turns the heat up on its own. If it is left to me to be the one who has to get up in the freezing cold house to turn up the heat...I will not get out of bed. I will want to...I will try to....but I will not. I will lie there feeling terrible about how it is that the children will be late for school again, but I will not be able to bring myself to put my feet outside of the bed. Do not suggest that Joe could get up. Joe is a Musician/record producer. I can count the number of times in our entire marriage that he has been up before me on one hand. The computer thermostat thing has saved my children from a less than punctual fate by pre-warming the house to a temperature I can emerge into.

So this morning the house seems a little nippy. I figured that I was just up before the heat, and tossed on an extra sweater. I put the coffee maker on, grabbed my coat and opened the door to go to the bakery down the street. (Forgot to buy bread for the school lunches last night. I know. Mother of the year award again). I opened the door, stepped outside and gasped. The air was so cold that it immediately froze all the hairs in my nose, I slammed the door shut and re-organized my thoughts.

Holy insert challenging expletive here How cold is it? I check the weather station. -33 (That's like -27F) Next thought....how badly do I need bread? Is there something else I could use in the place of bread? How bad a mother are you if you send your kids to school with a half a cracker and some pickles because it was cold out? (Kindly ignore the hypocrisy of me sending my children out into the bitter cold with a crappy lunch because I didn't want to go into the bitter cold.)

After searching the kitchen I decide there's absolutely nothing for it. I'm going to have to go out there. I get my coat, my hat, my scarf, my mittens and I put it all on, chug my coffee and bolt out the door. I run to the corner, dash and weave through traffic, and throw myself through the door of the bakery where I buy bread and a half a dozen bagels. I bought the bagels because they were still hot and I thought that if I clutched them to my chest and face all the way home I might stand a chance.

I dressed the kids for school like this.


You will note that the sun is shining brightly. This is a cruel joke that Canadian weather runs all the time. It's the only sun that we've seen in weeks, but it is so cold out that you would have to be a freaking moron to go for a walk. Instead the sunshine taunts us while we scurry from building to building...waiting for the the exact moment that the temperature rises enough that you could go out, then the sun will leave and it will probably rain until it's -33 again.

It turns out, now that it is mid-morning and the house is still nippy, that it is not that the furnace isn't fully on yet. The furnace is more than on. The furnace has not even been off for a moment. It is simply that we live in an old house with lots of drafts, have an old furnace, and are stupid enough to live in a god forsaken country that is -33. The furnace can't keep up.
(As an aside? So when the first people to come to Canada landed, I understand why they stayed. It was fall. The autumn is beautiful here, but after the first winter? Why would they stay? Why would you settle this place? Why wouldn't you get back on your boat the minute the ice broke and get the hell out of here! Why! I have a theory myself...I think they tried to leave. That they thought "holy crap. We have made a serious mistake. We should get right back on the boat to Ireland and forget we ever saw this place." and then they went to leave and discovered that some arse had burned the boats to keep warm. That's what I think. It's the only reasonable theory.)

I worked on the MSF mittens last night


but this morning I've cast them aside and begun a pair of fuzzy feet knit from leftovers.


I understand that this is ridiculous. I have full comprehension of the nature of the mistake that I'm making. This is a classic Harlot error. I'm knitting something because my feet are cold. As long as it's -33 I will feel that I have a footwear emergency and continue knititng. Then, tomorrow or the next day it's going to warm up, and I'm going to forget what my feet felt like today and I'll put the fuzzy feet aside and knit some pretty mittens or a new sweater. (Did I tell you I'm thinking about a sweater?) The fuzzy feet will become yet another abandoned harlot project, until the next time it's -33.

The next time it's -33 I will do one of two things.

1. I will remember about these fuzzy feet and reclaim them from the knitting bin and keep working on them until it's not -33 again, repeating this process until I have a pair of fuzzy feet...sometime in 2006, right about the same time that I buy an new furnace.


2. In true Harlot form I will knit these fuzzy feet at the speed of light. I will be almost finished when Toronto experiences a freakish warm snap and I will lose my focus and the fuzzy feet end up stuffed into the knitting basket. Then, it will get appallingly cold again and I will think "Wow, I sure wish I had some fuzzy feet to keep me warm" and I will dig up some leftovers and cast on ANOTHER entirely different pair, having completely forgotten about the almost finished pair in the basket.
The pair in the basket will naturally be discovered when the weather warms again and I go to stuff the second pair into it. It's so predictable. The only question about this whole thing is, if I can see it coming, Why is it going to happen anyway?

Posted by Stephanie at 12:07 PM

January 17, 2005

A wool house.

Yesterday I was trouping across town on the streetcar with my knitting. There was a little blonde moppet sitting on her dad's lap a couple of seats over and she was maybe...4? 5 years old? She turned around on his lap and looked at my knitting, then pulled on his coat and pointing at me said "Daddy! Daddy! That lady is knitting a sock!" Ahh, this must be the child of a knitter, to be able to correctly identify a sock in progress from 3 metres away? A hallmark of a wooly education. Now I know that the knitter is not the daddy, since he didn't even turn his head to see what sort of sock I was knitting, and there's no way that a knitter could have managed that. The knitter must be the mummy. I smiled at the little waif, and was wondering if I knew her mum, when she turned back to her dad and said...

"I wonder if that lady lives in a wool house too".

I almost fell off the chair laughing. Who's kid is this? Surely we know her...since she knits enough that her kid can adeptly pick out a work in progress, that her husband has seen so much wool that he doesn't even turn his head anymore...and that they live in A WOOL HOUSE. Fess up. Which one of you is it?

I started the second of the MSF mittens this weekend.


Since this one looks exactly like the one before it I have included my cat for interest. Sadly, the cat isn't doing anything interesting, but I have to believe that it's better than me just showing you boring mundane pictures of the same damn mitten over and over again. I'm boring myself, so it's got to be horrible for you.

I was pulled out of the depths of second mitten monotony by a beautiful RAOK from


These little stitch markers are very beautiful, and I laughed when I saw that they are PINK. This settles it. I'm jumping on the pink train. Thanks Colette!

Tonight I'll continue working on the MSF mittens, though I've suddenly contracted a horrible tendency to fall asleep while knitting them. (I have an incredible urge to knit a bright purple stripe into them) Last night Sam came into the room where I was knitting. This room (like all the others, since I live in "a wool house" ) is full of yarn. Full. Completely overrun. There is yarn on the table, on my lap, on the bookcase, in the drawers....everywhere. Sam stepped over a pile of yarn, looked me dead in the eye, and said (with all seriousness)

"Mum, I'm trying to tie something up. Do we have anything in this house like string?"

Posted by Stephanie at 2:10 PM

January 14, 2005

A taste of summer

So yesterday, in an attempt to not only have a virtual life but a real one, your local harlot packed herself off to Bloor West village. I walked. I walked because it was 19 degrees. That's 66 F. 66, in Toronto in January. It's an all time high for not only that date in January...but any date in January. Creeped out yet? Yesterday you couldn't skate in Moscow. It was too warm. The warmest ever. I have one thing to say.
Get out of your car. Go get your bike, or get on the bus. Take the one tonne challenge and put down the aerosol can. Thank you. Just to freak everybody a little more and make it just like The Day After Tomorrow where the vortex of cold comes down out of the sky all of a sudden and turns those people into ice sculptures?... Today is -14 with the windchill. I repeat. Get out of your car.

So I walked to the village, and went to a local coffee shop and I took out my knitting and waited for my lunch date. When she walked in, I knew that we were going to have a wonderful time. We matched. We were both wearing the Toronto birth attendant uniform of Blundstones, handknit socks, random no-logo tee shirt and black cardie, with a coat from MEC. We had the same hair going on, and both carried backpacks. Having recognized each other, we assumed the position.


It's Alison of the comments! (Psst, Norma? Jealous?) We spent way too long drinking coffee, way too long talking about knitting, and Alison has accepted the blame for depriving you of a blog yesterday. (It's not really her fault...but she's nice enough to suck it up.) She's also nice enough to contribute this to the draw.


Somebody can kiss their life goodbye when they get that. Don't even try to care about anything else when the Latvian Mittens come into your life. You will care nothing for your other knitting. You may dabble in other things...but you will always come back to the mittens. Proof?


The MSF mittens and I found it impossible to go on without each other. I relented and gave it a thumb.
In other news, this roving


became these singles,


which became this yarn


which became this "taste of summer" hat for this girl who is definitely pretty in pink.


I'm working toward letting go of my pink bias. I planted the snapdragons in the garden that match this hat, and I didn't think they were too girlie did I? No, I did not. Therefore, in an attempt to trick myself into not experiencing any sort of negative reaction to the girlie pinkness of the hat, we shall refer to it as "the snapdragon hat".
(note: No pattern, just a head measurement, my gauge and my basic hat rules)

Finally, a thank you for my buddy Sinead. You don't know her...but you should. I'm up against a deadline that is giving me the willies, and last night when I complained about the difficulty of the deadline, Sinead brought this;


Red wine, free trade coffee and chocolate truffles. I don't know what it says about me that I think any project that would take more comfort and fortitude than this trio provides is a crisis simply too horrible to think about.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:08 PM

January 12, 2005

Avoidance therapy

I beg your pardon for going AWOB (Absent Without Blog) yesterday. It was a long and dodgy day and there was syrup in my hair for much of it. (I do not want to discuss how the syrup came to be in my hair, how long it was there, or what happens if you have syrup in your hair and then talk on the phone and get the phone stuck in the syrup. It was bad enough to live it.)

It took until about 6:30 last night for me to figure out that I had been specially selected to be the universes cat toy, and that the syrup in the hair was going to be the most positive thing that happened to me. Every once in a while the planet sets out to test me and sets into motion a law of physics. Yesterday's choice was "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" You know how that works, don't you? Here's a good example. I washed a load of laundry (action) then brought the clean towels upstairs and set them on the floor. I was so pleased with myself that I attempted to celebrate with a cup of coffee. I reached for the pot, fumbled somehow and the entire pot of coffee was poured onto the clean towels. (Opposite reaction) More? Wash the bathroom floor - discover a science project (Dear God, let it be a science project) in your teenagers room. Write 800 words - the printer commits suicide and the file evaporates. (Do not tell me that computers are not sentient. The evidence just doesn't support it.) I'm pleased to report that today appears to be much better...though I did eat chocolate for breakfast and am planning on making few "actions" in case the "reaction" theme is still on the menu.

Considering my role in the world yesterday, I decided that the MSF mittens and I should go on "break". I will not be revealing the status or location of the mittens until I am certain that the world is done with exacting it's revenge with sticky or staining liquids. Instead, I worked on a new sweater.

This is a kit from "Sweater kits" and I really like it. You will note that the variegated yarn, despite there being no attempts made by me to avoid it, is not pooling, flashing or screwing around with any sort of annoying wool shenanigans. You can guess how this makes me feel, but we will not speak of anything positive happening to ensure that I'm not going to be punished. You may also note that the sweater has a clever little hem, which I would have sewn up, had part of yesterday not involved the planet removing every single stinking wool needle from the entire house.


As an additional tactic to avoid bringing the MSF mittens into the spiral of disaster, I'm knitting a pink hat.
This is my own handspun, and I'm experiencing mixed feelings. I'm very drawn to this pink, but am dealing with emotional issues around it. Am I the only one who sometimes feels inexplicably anti-feminist when using pink? Discuss.


Thank you gifts continue to flood toward all of you, and no wonder. Seen the total? The draw for gifts of appreciation is going to be huge. I've given up logging the gifts ahead of time, there are too many, and Mr. Washie and I are feeling the strain of separation on our relationship. I'll show they to you as they go to their new homes. Donations will continue to be entered into the draw for gifts until I have finished the mittens- of- which- we- shall- not- speak.
You guys make me think that there is hope for humanity. If the kindness, decency and compassion exhibited by this group of knitters was shown by the rest of the world...the possibilities boggle the mind.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:52 PM

January 10, 2005

For my next trick..

You know what? Most days when I wake up I feel pretty good about my intelligence. I mean, I dress myself, I keep other people alive, I manage to hold down a job and answer random questions about the universe from my children. (Who did think of the idea of legwarmers? Why? Why don't they only have one kind of screwdriver? If we know that men and women are equal, why do men make more money and own more things than women? Why do mice come in colours?) Yup, I feel pretty good about myself. I'm regularly exhibiting all of the signs of an average intelligence.
Then, there are these moments.


See the pretty mitten? See the elegant white rows that run through the centre three rows of the motif? I cruised past the place where I am supposed to change to white every single time I got there. Not just by one row, but by one and a half picky rounds every single time.


It is not until I knit that centre stitch that something in my head says, *Oh, hold on. Weren't we making this row (and the row before it ) White? Then I curse in Latvian (many thanks to Mary-Heather for making this moment culturally appropriate) , then I unpick an entire round and a half of the teeny weeny little stitches, then re-knit them using white. Then I make a mental note. Note to self: Remember. We are knitting the centre three rows with white. Do not make this dumbass mistake again.

Then I merrily come along until I get to the centre stitch. A row an a half too late for the change again. I repeat from the * until I get that strange vibrating twitch over my right eye or until I have finished the mittens. What is this? Some sort of block? Can I not learn this? Small children have conquered ideas like this! All I have to do is change my background to white the row before the centre. Where the centre is remains constant...I don't even have to go looking for it! You could teach a chicken to do this, but me? I am defeated.

Further evidence that I am not as smart as we had hoped is that in my quest to successfully change colours every nine rows, I did not even glimpse success. I didn't "almost" do it, I didn't do it not quite so completely, I didn't remember and then forget again... I screwed it up to exactly the same point each and every time, and I never caught it until I got to the centre stitch. I cannot be taught.

You will note in this image of the palm of the mitten,


that this band of white is missing in the repeat closest to the top. I discovered this right after I had woven in all the ends for the top and I was so angry with myself that I almost ate the mitten in an apoplectic fit of frustration . I just didn't have it in me to rip it back.
I have pointed this out so that not only can this bug me forever...it can annoy the lucky recipient too. (Apparently having my intelligence taunted by wool makes me a little crabby.)

Are you still all watching the total in the sidebar? Know that it is still not quite current, but that I'm working as fast as my apparently low intelligence will allow. Thank you gifts continue to flow in...(and my thank you notes continue to flow out. I have learned that I am a compulsive thanker. I can't not thank you. Don't try to stop me.)

The things that are being donated are really lovely.... Besides Sandy's beautiful mittens, Jean's handspun and the MSF (that are beginning to pale by comparison), we have an MSF tee shirt that Ben's offered, a $20 gift certificate for Elann, generously offered by Heather, The incredible hand made knitting journal that Emma made (if you click on nothing else today, click on that and read about what went into making this book. It's stunning.) and so much more.


Do you know what that is? It's Sock yarn from Laurie (yes...That Laurie, and yes....That yarn.) Somebody's getting some.

Melissa donated the pattern and yarn for a Black Sheep bags pattern...it looks awesome (handpainted yarn. How could you go wrong?) and Caroline....this is gonna kill ya...Caroline went into the unruly wool room and has donated her very own pattern, and the fixings (click the yarn to make them bigger, Caroline has good taste)




for this.


Oh yeah, feel the love. There's more too...but I'll post them tommorrow, If would appear that I'm not the only one who would like to show you all how thankful we are.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:03 PM

January 7, 2005


Toronto- Reports are beginning to emerge that may indicate that local knitblogger "Yarn Harlot" (we believe that may be an assumed name) has finally snapped.

The recent overwhelming realization that the vast majority of knitbloggers are incredibly decent, generous and kind (combined with the tragic loss of her daughter's infant Tamagotchi) had her in an emotionally fragile state to begin with, but this mornings wrangling with HTML in order to provide a new page for the blog appears to have put her right over the freaking edge. (We also have suggestions that Rams suggestion yesterday in the comments that the Harlot stop writing thank you notes may have caused some sort of Canadian politeness short circuit. Rumour would have it that the Harlot was writing thank you notes when she got the directive from Rams to stop thanking people (or risk,...what was that threat? BITING?), which made the Harlot very grateful to Rams for such sensitivity, and that made her want to thank Rams, which was forbidden. The inability to thank someone for trying to relieve her of thank you notes and its resultant unfulfilled thankfulness may have sent the Harlot into some sort of feedback loop and resultant meltdown.)

When asked for a comment her blog-god buddy Ken said "I don't know what happened. She phoned me and sounded sort of, well...crazy. I couldn't even tell if she was laughing or crying. Something about how she only tried to add a tiny little button and now the "whole blog was !@#$%^&!! broken". I did what I could to calm her, but it was all I could do to get her to stop gibbering and clicking on "refresh". I fixed what I could...but I can't even begin to imagine what she was thinking. I mean...she was pointing images to a local drive. I can't talk about this anymore. She's already chewed up half my day."

Ken indicated that despite the profound damage the Harlot had done to her own blog code while apparently trying to "upload" something...he had managed to reconstruct the brand new Knitters Without Borders Homepage for the KWB button to link to. He concluded by saying that he wonders if the Harlot was simply suffering some sort of seizure. "The tally in the sidebar is all she talks about. All the donations? I think she just got too happy".

This reporter began to suspect a plot when she confirmed that Jean may have played a role in bringing on these dangerous levels of happiness by donating an incredible hank of handspun yarn to the Knitters Without Borders reward pot. Jean has details of this on her blog, where The Harlot may have shamelessly lifted this picture from.


Not just any handspun...but the flagship handspun from her own blog....where, not coincidentally, this reporter discovered completely intact HTML code. Suspicious?

Only one sighting of the Harlot herself has been made since several witnesses confirmed her extremely odd behaviour at the stitch and bitch at Lettuce Knit on Wednesday evening. "You wouldn't have believed it," said one incredulous knitter.." she was here for hours and she didn't buy anything. Nothing. Not even a magazine. We couldn't believe it. She just kept muttering about needs and wants. Then she left. She didn't even have any knitted stuff on...In January? It was really weird. Do you think she's ok?"

While this non-yarn buying behaviour is highly suspicious, we continue to hold out hope that the Harlot is merely experiencing an uncharacteristic period of focus and self control. Since the Harlot has never before exhibited either of these characteristics, it is too soon to tell if it is a sign that she has become crazier than Cher claiming that she doesn't like sparkles. This reporter gained access to the harlot home last evening and after digging through the rubble found the following mitten part on the table.


This mitten appears normal enough...but among the things overheard in the wool strewn house was a concern that the Harlot believes that the pattern on the hand is "too low contrast" and may need to be re-knit. Somewhat reassuring is that the Harlot may have been able to let go of her obsession with stripy palms and knit some sort of little diamond action on this one.


This reporter also overheard a discussion between the Harlot and a man she called "Joe" (though he may also use an alias) and some smaller people, who were all trying to figure out a way to deal with the decrepit Christmas tree in the living room. There was significant resistance to the Harlots suggestion that perhaps one of them could carry it outside for compost pickup. There may be some hope for the Harlot....as she did reject Joe's alternate idea that perhaps they could just keep vacuuming up fallen needles from under the tree all year. According to "Joe" the tree would eventually simply disappear.

The Harlot's response? "You know dude, thank goodness I work here, or you people would be exhausted."

Posted by Stephanie at 12:53 PM

January 6, 2005

Horribly wonderful

I only have one thing to say about the total.


I really wish there had been other suggestions on the mode of celebration.
(By the way? I know this photo is of poor quality. You can't make me go back out there.)

I'm overwhelmed with the generosity and decency of each and everyone of you.
In fact, I am so overwhelmed that I'm starting to fall apart. I'm writing a thank you note to each and every person who sent me an email, but there are THOUSANDS of you. I'm going as fast as I can. If you have not got a thank you note...then you haven't been added to the tally yet. I am writing emails at the speed of sound, I am doing laundry, and my job, and the phones at MSF and cooking and cleaning (Ok. Fine. I'm not cleaning.) and still writing emails to express my profound gratitude. I want you to know, that if you haven't got yours yet... I am writing them with such incredible devotion that I have accidentally killed Sam's Tamagotchi.
The last thing the child said to me this morning was "Mommy...don't let my Tamagotchi die while I am at school", and now look. It's dead. Belly up. Finito.
I was not completely negligent. I did feed it virtual pizza around 10:30...but then there was a beep that I thought meant that it needed something. I went to look and lo and behold...it did need something. The last rites. The poor kid. She must have thought that since I have kept actual live human beings alive for 15 years that I could be trusted to push a button occasionally. The guilt is crippling. I can only hope that the child understands that the Tamagotchi was sacrificed for a greater good.

When I saw the little icon had gone to a better place, I panicked. I pressed all the buttons. I pressed them repeatedly, but nothing worked. Not the food button, not the status button. .. I phoned Kelly in a state of panic. Being the mother of a child with a Tamagotchi, Kelly was sympathetic. "Something had to give." she said. "Given your choice of dead things.....". Kelly has a point. Still, anyone want to be me at 3:30 when I have to break it to Sam?

There is resistance at the border of the MSF. I took it to Lettuce knit last night and had a deep planning meeting with Aven, Dani, and Jane. They hemmed, they hawed and they decided that I was on the right track. We decided that the palm should be the light grey and the darker grey, with shots of the white run through for "sparkle". They liked the band of white near the border, they didn't think it was too bright. After all this planning....


I ripped it out. I didn't believe them. I think they could see how close to the edge I was (though they didn't know yet that I was capable of negligent Tamagotchi homicide) and were trying to humour me. I like the new effort better.
I understand that this means I have to reknit the braid. I am considering strong drink.

In other news...

Emma is making a wooly journal to donate to our cause. Look how beautiful her start is.

Katie is running a very cool little Tsunami knitswap here for those of you that would be interested.

Anybody know how to resurrect a virtual pet?

Posted by Stephanie at 2:02 PM

January 5, 2005

Turn left at the sign

Welcome to Harlotville, where the sun shines all the time and everyone is noble and generous. (C'mon in. The knitters are fine)

Reasons to never leave Harlotville.

-LOOK AT THE TOTAL. Now go dance in the street. (I don't know how we celebrate 20 000. Maybe dancing naked in the street? Other suggestions graciously accepted. It's cold outside.)

Ben's a pretty happy guy too...

Dear Stephanie and all the Harloteers,

Over 15 grand!?! This is amazing! Like somebody said above, knitters rock! I wonder if it isn't time to set up TSF - Tricoteuses Sans Frontières or Knitters Without Borders? That's what this international blog increasingly represents.

On behalf of MSF in Canada, the US, Germany and Sweden - among the various chapters that have benefitted from your generosity - I thank you.

And thanks also to Steph for volunteering to come in to help out on the phones yesterday and for telling the old man who gave $500: "Atta boy!" .
Sorry you had no time to knit, though...


That's me in the back and Joe's sister Kelly in the front. We are taking donations at a thousand miles an hour... If you are not Lene you may click

for a very harlot photo. Me, my knitting, the phone and a coffee. As is always the case in Harlotville...please excuse my hair. (Note: No descriptive discussion of the item in the photo will be allowed in today's comments. The item in question is a present for Lene. You may say things like "very nice" but you should make every attempt to not blow the surprise. You may feel free to torture Lene with hints that do everything but blow the surprise.)

- Taking Ben's suggestion to heart...the lovely and ever so clever Abby has made us a new button. Giddy up.


Steal the "Yarn Diet For Charity" one she has going on at her house if you are so inclined. It's beautiful. As the mayor of Harlotville, I declare button making Abby's superpower. In honour of Abby's superpower, we will all save the buttons to our own servers, right?

- My Your Mittaines Sans Frontiers have borders!


Good looking borders if I dare say so myself. The time has come to decide on a palm pattern. Here in Harlotville we have choices. A) Pinstrips. Never gets old. B) Something else, maybe dots. The stripes are totally getting old. C) Anything but the stripes. You always knit the stripes. Let the stripes go and move on with your life.

-Harlotville has the nicest neighbours. Have you seen Sandy's mittens? Go look. I'll wait here and think about stripes. Beautiful, yes? Despite the trouble that Sandy is having with these mittens and their roaming thumbs, she will finish them and when she does? They will be yours. Sandy has graciously donated the mittens to a random donor. Lucky people.

-Harlotville, with it's fine neighbours also has an awesome postal service.
Look what Mia sent me


Lovely Mia! Very beautiful hats, and well knit! Mia tucked some chocolate into the hats...but, er....I can't show you that right now ever. Mia...the pink one doesn't even look very phallic on me. Well done!

-Harlotville continues to have accurate media. While news agencies continue to report that MSF "doesn't need more money" MSF (like the Red Cross) continues accepting donations to their general emergency fund, sends relief to Aceh, Sumatra, aboard Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior, and begs you not to forget about the places that aren't in the spotlight where suffering meets....and exceeds the losses to the tsunami.
Read about Northern Uganda, where there are more than 1.6 million displaced persons, the deaths rate is surreal, and 20 000 children have been abducted. Ben writes:

We think of the psychological impact of losing family members to a natural disaster but imagine the impact of being forced to execute some of your family members and then being abducted and made part of a crazy child army. Think about the people who wait nightly for a possible attack from this "Lord's Resistance Army" and leave their villages to hide in towns where they hope to be protected.

This is ongoing. This is every day...and no-one knows.

Harlotville cares. Call MSF. Maybe I'll answer the phone.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:31 PM

January 4, 2005


I am simply without words. (You may all take a moment now to ponder the magnitude of that statement.)
Look at the total donations to MSF. I can scarcely breathe I am so overwhelmed with the kindness and decency of all of you. The total can only grow too...since this does not even begin to cover the donations made by those of you who are taking the Harlot MSF Challenge for the week. I'm going to have to have a lie down when you break $10 000. I applaud each and every single one of you.

The MSF (Mitaines Sans Frontiers) are apparently taking their name a little too seriously.


Last night I cast on the first braid. (Yes. Multiple braids. Look at the total. It's the least I can do.) I worked the yarn-twisting lunacy of the first row, then began the row that slants in the opposite direction. Halfway around the second row, I glanced down and noticed that I was no longer making braid, but instead some sort of very clever multiple row latvian twisty looking thing. I looked back at the beginning...fine. Checked my second row...the trouble started about halfway around the second row.
The first row of the braid goes like this ///// ,
the second...like this \\\\\\\
when you stack them, you get this >>>>> .
Get it?

Unfortunately it turns out that I am a stark raving moron with no right to be knitting, and a shame to decent latvians everywhere. (They will hear my name and spit in the dust.) What I did, was this:
For the fist half of the first row I did this ///////////
For the middle, .I did this \\\\\\\\\\\\
Then, having suffered what I can only surmise must have been some sort of knitting seizure...I reverted to this //////////
This means that when I went on to knit the second round...the charming little Latvian Braids came out like this. >>>>>>>////////////>>>>>>

Thusly, the Borders of the MSF were screwed beyond all recognition and I ripped it out with an appropriate use of expletives. I think is time to learn to swear in Latvian.

Questions from the comments yesterday...

Question: Nanette lives in Atlanta, and she asks...."How about knitting a Latvian bikini?"

Answer: Nanette...with all due respect and the utmost of love and concern for you and all you love....NO. (I don't know what is says about me that I actually spent some time last night thinking about how I would do the crotch. Don't let me start.)

Question: Natasha says "If they're to be Mitaines Sans Frontiers shouldn't they be more than just Latvian?"
Answer: See above - and are you people trying to kill me? Is it not clear to you that my sanity is a fragile little thing to be tenderly protected from this sort of dare?

Question: Kelly asks "When is the deadline for this?"
Answer: I'll keep the tally going in the sidebar until the Mittens are done. Clearly, you have some time.

Question: Debs asks " Are you looking into any organizations that would take donations of knit items?? ie, socks, blankets, etc??"
Answer: Not right now...but thanks for reminding me to tell you that the current deadline for getting items to Afghans for Afghans is Jan 16th. (Thanks Sue...for the heads up)

Question: What's up with MSF not taking Pfizers money?
Answer: It's not just Pfizer. It's an issue of MSF remaining independent and free of a conflict of interest. They do not accept money from any company that manufactures drugs, alcohol or tobacco. It's a question of medical ethics, and one that I think is honourable.

Question: How come MSF is saying they don't want any more money?
Answer: HOLY CRAP. Where did you get that? While MSF has indicated that Donations designated strictly for Tsunami relief are no longer appropriate, the thought that they don't want your money is....well, desperately wrong. The problem with donations made for a specific cause is that they MUST be used for that cause. If the time comes when the money is not needed or cannot be absorbed by the community or relief agency it cannot be diverted to other causes.

Ben writes (thanks Ben)

The generosity of people worldwide has been amazing. As of this
morning, MSF had raised close to $67 million (Canadian) worldwide during
the past week and the number will continue to rise. As pointed out by
some of your readers, MSF is now asking people to donate to our
emergency fund so that we can direct surplus funds to forgotten
emergencies ...where the humanitarian situation is horrific but CNN, CBC and ITN
are never seen with their cameras. Two weeks ago I was in Ivory Coast
and saw that some NGOs had left due to lack of funding. Back in April,
I saw the same in Sierra Leone. There is nothing like being in a
feeding centre (belonging to Action Against Hunger) with sixty kids
under five and in various states of malnutrition receiving supplementary
feeding and knowing that the project was to close down the next month
due to lack of funding - just as the post rainy season "hunger gap" was
about to start. Western governments did not want to fund the project,
believing that Sierra Leone was at peace. Never mind that it was a
recent, fragile kind of peace. Also, there were no TV cameras to create
public pressure for them to act.

So believe me when I say that surplus money coming to MSF will go to
worthy projects. In fact, I have a real problem with organizations
still voraciously fundraising when - like in Rwanda in 1994 - it may
take them years or decades to spend it. People's generosity must not be
abused and this is why MSF is taking such a seemingly strange position
on tsunami donations.

Remember, this is a fundraiser for MSF. We don't want to limit their ability to help people. MSF is an experienced relief organization. They won the Nobel Peace Prize, for crying out loud. I trust them to make good with the money. Would it really be so bad if they spent some of your money on the next Tsunami? Or earthquake? Or famine? Or in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Ben writes again:

One estimate is that 31,000 people die per month in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to man-made, not natural reasons. That means that every 5 months, DRC has the same death toll as the tsunami.

Read more here.

I've assured Ben that I can't imagine people only being interested in reducing one kind of suffering. Dig deep. I'm going to try and get some borders on these mittens.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:36 PM

January 3, 2005

Needs and wants

Things are a little different here at Chez Harlot today. With the recent nightmare of events in South-East Asia I thought it was time for me to try and make a small difference.
Meet Ben Chapman.


Ben is the Director of Human Resources for MSF Canada. He's also a pretty decent brother-in-law with the good sense to have feet a little on the smallish side. Ben's wearing his Christmas present socks here, known to all of you as December's computer socks.


Ben's life freaks me out. Ben has saved lives before he finishes his coffee in the morning. While I knit in my cozy home all December, Ben woke each morning in the Ivory Coast. He missed his wife and daughters, and they missed him. Ben and MSF (Doctors without borders) attempt to bring medical attention, human rights and a voice to parts of the world that know suffering beyond what you can imagine. They are without religious affiliation and remain completely impartial. MSF is the Harlot family charity of choice and in the wake of the tsunami I can think of no better way to start the new year than with compassion and simple human concern extended to those that need it most.

By any North American standard, I am not a wealthy woman. Still, there has never been a day that I went hungry or wondered where I would put my kids to bed. I choose between my clothing in the morning and at least once a week I throw away food that went bad before we could eat it, buying fresh without even feeling a pang of decadence. I have never wanted for anything more than "more" of what I already have. I am...to most of the people that the tsunami effected, obscenely wealthy...
As are you.

Here then is My MSF Challenge. For one week do this:

1. Each and every time you think about buying something...ask yourself if it is a need (food, water, shelter, medicine or safety) or a want. Be honest. Yarn is not (sob) necessary. Latte's are not necessary. A seventh pair of shoes? Fabulous pair of new jeans? Eating out? Could you skip a haircut? Search yourself and ask, do I need this, or would the money be better spent on someone whose home, or village...or children, were just completely swept away.

2. At the end of the week (or sooner...if you don't need that much time to think about it) Donate the amount of money that you didn't need to MSF. There should be no reason why every single person who reads this blog can't find at least a dollar.

MSF Canada (The government is matching donations)
MSF United States
MSF International

3. After you donate, email me the amount of your donation (my address is in sidebar on the right), your name and email. I don't care how much your donation is and I don't need any proof that you made the donation. (I believe that that planet would smite you for lying about this sort of thing) I'd like to know the amount that you gave only so I can keep a running tally in the sidebar. I'll know that whatever you give is your best effort, given your unique circumstances.

4. I'll keep a list of the contributors while I knit my next project...MSF


Mittens Sans Frontiers. (Mittens Without Borders)
When they are finished (they will be Latvian and they will have braids) I'll draw a name from the generous souls who gave to MSF and helped Ben save lives, and I'll mail them the mittens.

Who's in?

Posted by Stephanie at 12:01 PM