April 28, 2005

Who am I?

I have given up trying to work out "where" I am, (my American geography is improving by the minute.) and after the last couple of days I'm really trying to work out "Who" I am.

The ideas I have about myself are not matching the experiences that I'm having. I am not...for instance the kind of person (I am absolutely sure of this) NOT the kind of person that this


happens to. (Notice that the five chairs directly in front of the podium are empty. Five people stood in the back rather that sit that close to me. There is a chance I'm starting to look like a woman on the edge.) My anxiety about speaking to these people was only compounded by the fact that right next to the podium was a grand piano. (Flashback. Serious flashback)

After the talk we retired to the charming shop, I took a picture of the display in the window. It was so cute I couldn't hardly stand it.


Many thanks to the resident yarn shop cat for arranging itself so beautifully amongst the books and yarn.
Brooke drove from Cincinnati (that's three hours. In the rain.) so that we could meet.


Check out the mitten. Brooke has some idea what she's doing. (Plus she brought me some of those little tiny sharp coloured metal needles I love so much.) Who does that? Who does that for me? I ask again...Who am I? She wasn't alone either, lots of lovely bloggers and readers and even (get this...) Complete strangers who didn't know I had a blog. Who knew? (A thousand apologies for not providing links. On-line time is scarce, and picking up the urls is time consuming.)


The sock saw Mount Vernon's tiny town hall and cavorted in front of the yarn shop.


It's hard to tell when a sock is cavorting, but I assure you, it was.
The sock was just about moved to tears when Patti, Deborah, Sarah and company announced that from now on 10% of the profits from my book sold in their store will go to Doctors without Borders, thus making Craftsman Hill Fibers a member of Knitters Without Borders of the highest standing and a collection of women of the utmost decency.
The sock was so happy about this, that I didn't show it...


This. (Sock yarn from Memphis. How did that happen? It's all so fuzzy...)

The next day I took a plane from Ohio to Virginia, where after an unsettling experience navigating the Capitol region public transit system (Note: The metro is NOTHING like the subway. Even if you have been on the subway a hundred thousand times and you think you will be able to just slide on into the metro system...you would be wrong. Not matter what the guy at the bus stop by the airport tells you, the Metro is as much like the subway as pizza is like jello. Not a transferable skill.) I eventually made my way to the hotel, (by the way...the Pentagon? I don't know if you've been there...it's HUGE. It's unspeakably massive. Immense. Take what you see on TV and multiply it by a billion and then puff it up a little. It's so big that you can't even tell it's a pentagon. It's just HUGE. Does Canada have a building that big anywhere in the country? Freaked me out. Huge. )

The lovely Kristine picked me up and took me over to her shop, Knit Happens. (Poor Kristine. I don't think she'd slept in days. Her online store went live the other day and she was pretty delirious from overwork. Many thanks for retrieving me.) I signed books, I met bloggers and normal people...


These are bloggers. Not normal people. Vibegrrl and Chelsea welcomed me, it was wonderful.

Kristine gave me a Knit Happens hat


Note the cake in the foreground. Lest ye think that it was ordinary cake, it was cake from Kristine's birthday the day before. (Who am I? Last week I was frowning on twinkies, this week I'm scarfing Kristine's day old birthday cake like it's tofu on sprouts.) If you haven't done so already, go give Kristine a big birthday gift by having a look at the online store. It's pretty slick.

I could show you what I bought at the store, but I'm waiting for the guilt and shame to be less sharp. Many thanks to the Knit Happens Crew for enabling the signing...and the buying. It was awesome.


The sock admired the vaguely phallic stately Masonic temple in Alexandria, and we were on our way.

The sock and I are currently on the train from Virginia to New York. (I don't know where exactly.


Do you?)
I love the train. It's quiet and slower and feels more civilized than hustling off planes at a thousand miles an hour. There's more room to spread out, and walking between the cars to the cafe car never gets old for me. I think the train and knitting might be a lot alike.
There are faster ways to travel....but (as Margene would say) with the train (and knitting) it's about the process.

I'll apologize again for the lack of links and names. There's too much to type. if you saw me...toss your link in the comments for everyone to see.
Tonight....New York, New York.

I miss my kids. Who am I?

Posted by Stephanie at 11:36 AM

April 26, 2005

Walking in Memphis

Memphis is going to be a hard act to follow. I loved it. Yesterday morning I ate grits (grits are pretty good) and biscuits. Forgive me southerners...I believed until yesterday morning that I had eaten a biscuit. I was completely wrong. All pretenders served to me in my life prior to my epiphany yesterday were nothing that even began to resemble the wondrous item served to me yesterday. Crazy good.
(Please do not tell me it's because they make them with lard. I don't want anything to come between me and a real biscuit.)


The socks enjoyed Memphis sights yesterday, rolling around in a bed of azaleas. (Note to Canadians: Azaleas are not a houseplant. They are a huge bush, some as tall as the houses.) I have never seen anything like them. These ones are in Pat's garden (Pat was my lovely guide) and she let me visit them when I was absolutely gob-smacked by the size, number and glory of them. I kept rolling down the car window and saying "look at that!" She finally stopped the car, poor thing.


This one is for my Mum. Roses...in APRIL.


The sock visited Elvis on Beale Street. I loved Beale Street, they have streetcars, and the smell of bbq was intoxicating. (Even vegetarians know a good thing when they smell it.)


This one is for Joe. I went to Sun studios just because Joe couldn't. (Joe? This place is the size of the main floor of our house. I have no idea why we are paying for that huge space.)


Now...the best part. The Memphis Knitting Guild. I loved these guys. They co-ordinated with Sarah to get me to Memphis (I understand that Lisa was invaluable. Thanks so much Lisa) and helped get the word out. The signing was packed....I was honoured and stunned, and after the signing...


Dinner with the guild. I'm so delighted to discover that no matter how different you might think a place is...the knitters are the same.
Memphis was a pleasure and a delight. I don't think I have ever met nicer, more welcoming people...it could not have charmed me more.

Today I've already flown from Memphis to Columbus Ohio. Then driven through the prettiest countryside to Mount Vernon. The yarn shop is cute as a button and I can hear the church bells from my hotel. I can't wait to meet everyone this evening. On an another note, yesterday I visited four yarn shops. I bought something in 2 of them. I'm starting to do the math on this tour. I'm going to need a way bigger suitcase.

Posted by Stephanie at 9:19 AM

April 25, 2005

The Village Idiot

I am in Memphis and I AM the village idiot. (Not to be confused with the famous "I am Canadian" rant.)
The top ten reasons I am probably going to be avoided by people who live here.
1. I actually said "What is that big river?"
(Note. It is the Mississippi. It is one of the biggest rivers in the world. Idiot.)
2. I brought a coat. (Double idiot. In my defense, I didn't know what 70 degrees was until I got off the plane. It's 21. It's nice.)
3. I was surprised that a guy in a van had a rifle. I am a Canadian from Toronto. I've never seen a rifle, live and in person.
4. I cannot understand a word people are saying. They understand me. They are bilingual. They have skills. Me? I got no idea what they are saying. They seem very nice though. Everyone is incredibly nice...and gracious and generous. At least I think they are. I'm only getting about half of the conversation.
5. Rhododendrons are a freakin TREE. (Compared to in Toronto where they are a cowering little shrubs that we wrap in layers of burlap in the faint hope that it may survive 10 minutes of the Toronto winter.)
6. When I checked into the hotel, I was surprised that they gave me a warm cookie. (This will only matter to you if you have been to Toronto, where you are lucky if they give you a room, never mind a very tasty warm cookie.)
7. I don't have a car. I am the only person in this city without a car. I was called "Kee-ute" for asking if I could walk to downtown.
8. Some guy ran his suitcase into me in the airport and I apologized to HIM. (I can't help it. I am a Canadian.) He stared at me for a while after.
9. I say "Mississippi". This is wrong. It is "Mis-ippi"
10. It took me 22 minutes to buy a phone card. Two minutes to ask for the card, and 20 minutes to desperately regret that I had asked an open ended question that I couldn't understand the answer to. I then tried to use my debit card thus incurring more confusion. (Note to Canadians...it is a "check" card. Not even a "cheque" card) It then took me five minutes to apologize to the girl for being the village idiot, and another five minutes to fulfill her request to repeat the words "out", "about" and "huge" for her entertainment.

I am Canadian. I am the village idiot in Memphis. Bear with me.
(Also please bear with the lack of pictures. My card reader are suddenly not on speaking terms.)

Posted by Stephanie at 12:51 AM

April 22, 2005

Let me give you some tips

Note to everyone who lives in this house. You are driving me insane. I don't know who you think is going to perform all the manual labour in this house when you finally put me over the edge. In order to prevent the men with the huggy coats picking me up for being a few grapes short of a fruit cocktail, it is important that you read the following.

1. You should clean up a hairball on the carpet if you see one. Do not lie to me and tell me that you did not see it, I know you are lying because you warned me not to step in it. We are not wild animals, we do not simply "work around" disgusting messes until Mum comes home from the guild meeting and cleans it up. I do not feel cherished when you save it for me.

2. Do not, I repeat, do not make the decision to re-lace both of your stupid sneakers while I stand there telling you that you are late for school. This is not a mature decision, and since it is possible to walk to school with your laces laced in a less than perfect manner and instead re-lace them later when no-one is waiting on you, I feel that I must also tell you that as far as attempts to drive me insane go....this one is pretty infuriatingly transparent.

3. Do not use up the last of the toilet paper and tell no-one. This should be obvious.

4. Do not be late and then insist to me that you are not only not late (which you SO ARE) but insist with belligerent indignation that you have never been late in your whole life. You are often late. Everyone knows this about you. We talk about it. We are thinking about starting a victims association. We will have tee-shirts. You are late.

5. Immediately cease and desist with fights so stupid that they would make a United Nations negotiator want to snatch you bald. I cannot possibly hear anything more about who is crowding who on the chesterfield, who is looking out who's window or who took who's lip gloss. I do not care that she was in your room. It matters nothing to me that she took your bookmark out of your book. Stop. It.
(NB. Your sister did not steal your lip gloss. You left it in your pocket where it exploded in the dryer and stained an entire load of laundry.)

6. Put the *&^%$#@@#$% MILK IN THE FRIDGE. Not "by" the fridge, not "near" the fridge. PUT. IT. IN. For the love of wool, I could train monkeys to do this.

7. Do you think, that I...as a woman, a mother and the person intelligent enough to keep a whole family alive and functioning for 16 consecutive years is really so easily tricked that you can lead me to believe that you have changed the hamster cage when I can smell it from the kitchen?

8. I don't want to talk about "the wrong kind of toothpaste" anymore. You're lucky I buy you toothpaste. I have bigger fish to fry than discussing (again) exactly how it is that I have completely ruined your life by getting the wrong toothpaste.

9. Despite having conceived, gestated, nursed and cared for you, I assure you that it is not my fault that your bangs won't curl under.

10. The recycling bins are on the porch. I can tell that up until now you didn't know that, since you have put nothing in them. I trust that sharing their location with you will resolve this issue.

I've finished my Dulaan hat, designed by Norma.


It's a pretty hat, warm and cozy, but I gotta tell ya Norms, there comes a point in this hat where you really need some self discipline. The hat is knit as a long tube, (really long) then you gather the ends up firmly, tuck one end inside the other and make a double thick, simple, warm hat. The willpower part comes in when you are exactly half-way done the tube, when you suddenly look down and realize that if you gave it all up, right that second....


You would have a perfectly good roll brim hat. I'm telling you...it takes a little bit of something to keep knitting after that.

The Dulaan hat is tucked into my box with a few others, and I started a Dulaan sock to be my computer knitting.


The shawl is a little bigger, but not worth photographing. I'm desperately behind on adding people to the KSF tally and pages, so no thank you gifts (including the mittens...which I totally am not trying to keep for myself) until I've got everyone who should be on the list, on it. (You all want a chance, don't you?)

See you Monday...in Memphis. (Holy cow.)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:52 AM

April 21, 2005

Coming to my senses (however briefly)

I have made a decision. I have opted to believe (after looking on the weather channel) everyone who says that It is going to be really, really warm everywhere that I am going on this tour, and it is just plain silly for me to be engaging in battles to the death with wool/mohair blends at this time of year. Why am I killing myself/it with this attempt? Why am I threatening it online and mishandling persuading it with vicious blocking? Why I ask you, why would I do this when, by Toronto standards...everywhere I am going is practically tropical. Why don't I just lighten up on myself, quit trying to knit this thing in a big rush and let myself off the hook for more of this insane deadline knitting that stresses me out and makes me crabby and combative. I'm letting go of the sweater. If it's done, it's done. If it's not...well,

what I actually need... is a shawl.


Doesn't look like much yet eh?
(It's the "Lotus Blossom Shawl" and I'm knitting it out of Alpaca laceweight from an Alpaca farm in the Ottawa region. I bought it years ago...can't remember the name.)
Shawls are (in my opinion) perfect travel knitting. Tiny in size, they provide hours of easily packed knitting. Unlike a sweater, the entire kit for a laceweight shawl will fit in the tiniest of luggage, thus leaving much more room for new yarn. The observant among you will note two harlot-departures..circular needles and wood. I'm determined to get this knitting on a plane. Determined.

A note about the tour...
The tour page has been updated, American West Coasters should be happy. Canadians need to keep holding their breath. I have no idea what plans there will be here at home. Our lady Rams of the comments, who happens to work at the Athena Bookshop in Kalamazoo would like to ask a favour of you. (Well..she wants a "favor", but I'm overlooking her spelling.) Rams left this message in the comments:

The Athena Book shop in Kalamazoo, MI, proud host to Stephanie's May 6 appearance, begs and pleads with you to call or e-mail to make a reservation so we know how many chairs to rent, how big a mezzanine to build, etc. People who reserve will get in before people who don't (who will eventually get in, too, but why make it hard on yourself?) E-mail athenabooks@athena-books.com or phone (269) 342-4508 or our toll free number which works out to 1-800- GAS-YAKS (an idle employee worked that one out once and I'm not near a phone to be able to translate it back to numbers.)

We are so stoked we can hardly breathe. What if the store explodes? Please -- let us know you're coming.

While I find it hard to believe that my presence could cause a bookshop to explode, I'm all for everyone being able to sit on a chair to knit...so humour her...will ya?

Finally, a rarity.
I'm about to briefly foray vaguely into Canadian news, something very scarcely done here on the blog, but I can't help myself. Forgive me, I promise it won't happen often. (Twice in 14 months isn't bad, I think.) You will note, in a very Canadian moment, that this news item on the CBC is followed immediately (or was at the time of this posting) by a tape of Sasquatch in Manitoba. (We can't help it. The tape is compelling.)

Frank McKenna, Canada's Ambassador to the US has procured from Newt Gingrich, an apology to the Canadian people. Monday, in an interview with Fox News, Mr. Gingrich (standing at the Mexican border) was asked by Mr Sean Hannity "I know, because of comments you have made recently, the Number 1 area of vulnerability we have, as it relates to national security, is this border right here behind me. Why isn't there this political will in Wahington to solve this problem?"

To which Mr. Gingrich replied " You know, I don't know, Sean. I'd also, frankly, include the Canadian border, because the fact is, far more of the 9/11 terrorists came across from Canada than from Mexico."

Yesterday, in his apology, Mr. Gingrich wrote :

"I have a responsibility to be accurate. therefore, I am retracting my statement without qualification. Please accept my apology to the Canadian people for perpetuating the error; one I am sure that has been very painful to them. Because facts are important...let me say that I will strenuously do what I can to help Canada set the public record straight and correct the myth."

Mr. Gingrich went on to also retract his statement that some of the terrorists had come from Mexico, and stated that in fact, the terrorists had all entered the US via legal immigration channels.

Thank you sir. I appreciate the clarity. We now return you to your regularly scheduled apolitical knitting blog.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:05 AM

April 20, 2005


Memo To: Garter Vine Sweater

Do not start with me. I understand that I made a serious tactical error when I mentioned out loud that I had every intention of wearing you to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I forgot that even the nicest yarn, masquerading as a gentle and decent mohair/wool blend cannot resist the freaking urge to jerk a knitter around given half a chance.

I find your deception and duplicity especially hurtful, since you have given me no hint of trouble up until now. Would it have been so bad for you to tell me that you were unhappy? I feel that there is a communication problem in this relationship and while I embrace and fully acknowledge the concept that "it takes two to tango", I have to tell you that I believe that this time it is completely and totally your fault that things are not working out for us right now.


This is what I am talking about. See this? This is your two fronts, attached to the back with a loving and caring three needle bind off. (I cannot believe that means nothing to you. I ought to graft your sorry arse.) What exactly is up with your nasty little failure to match?
I have counted your rows, my conniving green friend and there are exactly the same number in both of the fronts. Exactly. I have checked the blog pictures (perhaps you thought I would let my guard down and not keep accurate records?) and I know that the two fronts were knit on the same needles. You are fresh out of excuses and I'm done playing around.

Do not even try to have a conversation with me about my attitude and gauge....I have your number. (Literally) I have firmly tugged on your length and I am sure of your lies. I am hoping that going public with your crap will shame you into decency. I am going to block the living daylights out of your duplicitous, shifty, guileful fibres tonight, and tomorrow we will see who is sorry that they started this up.

Remember, there are plenty of skeins of yarn around here who would love to see Maryland in the spring.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:48 AM

April 18, 2005

You keep using that word...

Upgrade v - 1. raise in rank etc. 2. improve (equipment, machinery, etc.) esp. by replacing components.

I have been concerned about the upcoming update to iphoto for some time. We all know that upgrades cause upheaval in my blogging life and that I fight an uphill battle to get Joe/Ken to uphold my believe that upgrades (as defined above) are a big fat honking lie told by software companies.

As defined above, an upgrade to iphoto should surely mean that I would not only continue to produce blog pictures, but to do so with some measure of improvement.
Nowhere in the definition of upgrade does it mention that the alleged improvement to said blogging system will actually mean that you will have no photos at all, and that this component of your computer will instead seize into a denying filth pit of reluctance and vile taunting refusal.

Since Joe/Ken/iphoto seem determined to drive me insane with upgrades that downgrade my ability to blog, my previously upbeat attitude is in the dumper.

Until my upgrade is downgraded to a level at which I may post pictures, I will be found face down on the chesterfield upholstery. Surrounded by un-upgradeable knitting.

(ps. This would be no time to remind me of the upcoming upgrade to OS X. A thousand curses. )

Posted by Stephanie at 2:34 PM

April 15, 2005

Little box of wonder.

Lookie lookie.


It's the brand spankin' new Yarn Harlot Remote Blogging System™. I didn't quite win the lottery, but darned close. My father-in-law (also named Joe...for the sake of keeping our Joes straight around here, the girls call him "Old Joe", which I suspect he hates, since he's not old at all...) is a poet who needed a laptop. Sympathetic to the cause, he noted that the old Yarn Harlot Remote Blogging System™ was unreliable at it's best, so this beast has been purchased ahead of his schedule and come to live with me for a time. I love it. Truly, madly, deeply. The Yarn Harlot team is deeply committed to Macs, and this little ibook G4 is a seriously neat piece of work.
Look at the screen, I was reading Sandy's blog in the living room (in the living room!!) while working on the first sleeve of the garter vine cardie. (My intention is to wear the cardie on the US leg of the tour, so I better get a move on.)
Many thanks to Old Joe for making remote blogging possible again.

In book news, for those of you who asked, the rumour is completely true...the bookbookbook did go for a third printing on Wednesday morning. I'm completely overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that I actually didn't feel like I could mention it on the blog. (I just told 100 or so of my close personal friends at the launch. I also told a guy on the bus...but let's not discuss the idiosyncrasies of my excitement.) I'm so happy about the books little successes that from time to time I start thinking up seriously grand plans to spread the word of wool around the world. (Does that sound to much like a cult?) Imagine the world run the way we would have it. Imagine writing off a portion of your yarn as a "health care cost" on your taxes. Imagine the words "yarn subsidy" really meaning something. Imagine it being legal to keep sheep in your backyard. Imagine electing knitters to positions of power. Who would we make Prime Minister? Who would want to give up the knitting time to do the job?

I'll be at the Knitter's Frolic here in Toronto tomorrow, a raving good time put on by my home guild. I'm going anyway, (no kidding Steph? Really? A major knitting event right in your city and you're going?) but will stop shopping long enough to sign books at the Needle Arts Bookshop booth at 1:00, if you happen to be in the market for one.

Can we give a cheer for Amanda? The sock and our family went to see her perform at Massey Hall last night.


She was lovely.


I know you can't tell from this picture, and I know that you can't trust the opinion of a mother, but she was really impressive. You gotta hand it to a kid who can play the violin in front of all of those people and not think once about upchucking.

PS. My seriously nice publicist person asked me to put this on the blog today. The New York event at Lord & Taylor (yes. Lord & Taylor) is taking reservations. The sweetie pie publicist wanted to give any of you guys first dibs before they advertise it to the world at large. Here's the note she sent. Kindly ignore how completely freaky it is to take reservations to see me knit.

Lord & Taylor invites you to a special evening with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (a.k.a The Yarn Harlot), author of At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

Thursday, April 28th @ 6pm
424 5th Ave @ 39th St.

Eleventh Floor Theater
We invite knitters of all levels to bring their knitting and join us to share in laughing at the unusual situations that can result from any compulsive behavior.

The evening is co-sponsored by The Craft Yarn Council, and will feature complimentary copies of the book. Reservations are limited, so please email
lisa_comegna@lordandtaylor.com to reserve a space.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:17 PM

April 14, 2005

Forget Kiwanis

When I was a little girl I played the piano. (Well, I still play the piano but the errors that were charming when I was younger are now just...well, sucky piano playing.) I had this Russian piano teacher with one bad leg and she used to strike her cane on the ground like a metronome while you were playing. I was scared to death of her. Back then...maybe now, though I like to think that we are less barbaric as a culture, when you completed certain levels of The Royal Conservatory you had to go perform and be judged at the Kiwanis festival. My piece was "Fur Elise" I practised and practised and practised. Determined to not screw up. Determined. The day of the exam came and my Mum and the Russian piano teacher took me to the thing and all the way there I had this bad pain in my stomach. We got there, and there was this huge crowd in the auditorium (or maybe it was three people...it felt like a huge crowd) and I listened to the other kids play...and then it was my turn.

I took a few moments and begged the Russian piano teacher to let me skip it. I begged my Mum. I told them I couldn't remember the music (A lie. The music is burned into my memory banks for all time. I will be a thousand years old, I will have forgotten my name and I will still remember how to play Fur Elise. Trauma is like that.) I told them I couldn't breathe (That was true), I told them that I was going to die. (Possibly not true.) My Mum told me it would be Ok and the Russian piano teacher told me that I "must lern to performe diz musik to be feedink my soul". (That was a lie too. My soul is fine.)

Me and the horrible clenching pain in my stomach took to the stage, I played the first two bars...and then I screwed up. My colon attempted to exit my body...and despite this I ignored all the warning signs, smiled at the judges, felt all the colour drain out of my face and I started again. I played the first two bars...and then in a moment of hideous vibrancy... I threw up all over the piano.

You can understand then, that last night as I made my way toward the Museum of Textiles for the book launch where I would give the looming 20 minute speech...that when I felt that same pain in my stomach I panicked a little. I imagined myself walking down the stairs with my knitting and my speech, placing them on the podium, looking out at my friends, family and all the knitters, and then upchucking suddenly and completely in a way that people would be talking about on blogs for time immemorial.

I was so sure that this would be what happened that when I did actually stand in front of the podium, I moved my sock in progress to the side.
This is what I saw.


Crazy eh? (They are holding up their knitting for you to see.) It's like I woke up in a Salvador Dali painting. I talked (despite the persistently surreal feeling) and talked (despite the horror of realizing that time had completely ceased to pass and I was going to be there forever in some agonizing loop of trying not to throw up or say arse.) and then it was over. Then it got fun.

I signed books...I saw babies (Hi Lara!), I talked with knitters by the dozen. I forced asked Canadian Rock Stars to pose with knitting.


That's Andy Maize, Ron Sexsmith, me (wine in hand. Clearly having a much better time) and Fab knitter/guitar player extraordinaire, Colleen Hixenbaugh who's claim to fame in knitterly terms is that she helped my Joe find me yarn when By Divine Right toured China. (Please also excuse the rather perplexed look on Ron's face. "Hold a sock?" We're just trying to show the sock a good time Ron. Let it go.)


Not confused by the sock holding at all (longtime readers will recall that they have held a sock before) are Lily Frost and Jose Contreras
Finally, my favourite part? The Wednesday night stitch and bitch at Lettuce Knit changed venues.


Thanks to everybody who showed me such a good time (and each and every one of you who didn't think I would throw up) , especially the Museum of Textiles, who were completely brilliant. Must go have a lie down now.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:33 PM

April 13, 2005

Uh oh.

I have to give a speech at the launch tonight. 20 minutes. That's a lot. That's so much, actually...that if you read everything on this whole blog page out loud you wouldn't have 20 minutes. Feel woozy? I think that's normal. So last night I pretty much had it's arse kicked. I sat knitting the second front of my beautiful garter vine cardie (that I still totally adore...thanks for asking)


and I had another thought about the speech, so I went up to bed and wrote for a while with the Yarn Harlot Remote Blogging System. (Fine. It's Ken's laptop). About 1:10, just as I was finishing, the laptop quit. It issued no warning what so ever...the screen went blank, the green lights all stopped being green and the laptop stopped being a useful tool and suddenly became a brick. A brick with my speech in it. I was immediately paralyzed with consternation and a building sense of horror. I can't get the speech out. I can't remember what it says and, oh AND...there is the stress of having killed Ken's laptop.

I feel sick. I want you to know, should you decide to come to the launch tonight, that I will likely be babbling, possibly be hysterical and that there is even a remote possibility that I'll be drunk. (I will however...be knitting.) I have tried everything that i can think of to get the speech out of the cold lifeless laptop. (Wrong, that's a lie. I have not tried a hammer. I'm not actually delusional enough to believe that I could get anything out of the laptop with a hammer...I just think that it might make me feel better.)

In a (probably futile) attempt to restore my equilibrium I have taken my sock (It's koigu, for anyone who was asking. It's about eight years old, so I'm not sure if the colour number would help you...but I went on a serious tag hunt and I think it's p121.) out to the garden where I am letting the sun shine on my face, looking at my very first flowers and trying to remember that this is not the most important thing in the world. Babies are being born, wars are being fought, history is being decided and no matter how it feels, losing this speech to a dumbass brick of a laptop sent here to vex me is not the end of this world.


I am being tested.

While I was typing this and accepting my fate...Joe was doing this. (Ken, you may want to avert your eyes buddy.)


I know. It looks scary, but we had nothing to lose. I worried briefly while Joe took wee screws out of the laptop (and was heard to say "Wow, this one sure comes apart easier than the ibook" which tells you something of my lovely man's penchant for destruction taking things apart) but remembered that he couldn't break the laptop, it was already broken. He fiddled, he connected and....

He got my speech. Dude is totally going to get lucky.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:59 AM

April 12, 2005

Where was I?

So on Friday I had the surreal experience of being on tv, which actually doesn't feel like you are on tv but would instead feel more like being chased by wild dogs with red eyes and rabies. Or something like that.

I haven't blogged about it (well...until now) because, to tell you the honest truth, I don't remember it very well. At all. I remember going into the studio. I remember the charming and ridiculously good looking hosts talking to me about knitting. I remember knitting....but I don't remember what I said.

As I walked toward the hosts the first time I remember thinking three things.
1. This is live. Do not use "colourful language", do not say "arse" too much and in the name of humanity....do not let me do something horrible, like spit when I talk or laugh that way I do when I'm nervous. Do not let me lose my everlovin' mind and talk about mohair while I giggle oddly, it makes people think I am whacked.
2. Why are all these people so thin?
3. Please, oh please oh please in the name of all things wooly....strike me with lightning. Quickly, right now...before I get to that chair and the terrifying green light goes on the top of the camera and I open my fool mouth and babble about yarn in a way that makes me sound like a crazy woman. Make the lightning swift and sure before I tell one more person that I think knitting is "fun" in that chirpy voice I can't seem to stop. Immolate me right down to the freakin shoes. Please, oh please.

Then the green light went on, and I knit on my sock and I don't remember a thing. Not a single moment. Some sort of hysteria induced blackout. I remember that everyone was very nice, I vaguely remember feeling like they asked good questions, I remember that at no point in either of the interviews did any of them suddenly go white or appear uncomfortable, which would probably mean that I didn't say something horrible that could be interpreted as a wildly disturbing sheep fetish.
We'll see. Apparently they send you a tape. (I have mixed feelings about the tape. On the one hand, I desperately want to watch it so that I can see everything that I did, on the other hand...What is the point of watching now that it's over? I mean, if the worst did happen and I looked the way that I felt...(which was sort of like if I was a hyena with an essay due on Friday who happened to be trapped against a cliff wall by a group of tick and herpes infested starving Siberian Tigers) then why would I want to know? Why?)

I can tell you that if I had not had my knitting in my lap to keep my hands busy then I don't know what would have happened. No idea. Without my knitting I likely would have wigged out in a very Harlot, but grossly ineffective way. As long as I had that knitting in my lap....I had one thing that I knew was going right, one thing I knew how to do. I hadn't realized until right that moment, that knitting really takes the edge off of nervy stuff. Flicking the yarn over the stitches while I talked, it was almost like having a sort of weird meditative thing. ("I'm in my happy place" ).


If I did not rave, say arse or throw up on tv (and it has not been confirmed that I did not do these things) then I have this sock to thank. (This sock is for someone special and has been having a pretty good time. Not many socks get to go on tv.)
I will now resume neurotically obsessing over the little speech I have to give tomorrow night at the launch. (I'm so excited to meet everyone and so frightened to stand up in front of them that I can scarcely work a decrease.) Any minute now the people booking all this stuff are going to come to their senses and I'll go back to the laundry.

I leave you with this....Hare-lot. Holy crap....is that screech? Pass it over.
(Thanks Katy...I love her hair.)

(PS. It would appear that much email was lost in my servers hissy fit over the last few weeks. If you think you should have heard from me, but haven't...try again.)

Posted by Stephanie at 5:54 PM

April 11, 2005

My one and only



is exactly how long the train ride from Ottawa to Toronto is. One half sock. It struck me, as I rode the train the 400km through the Ontario countryside, that as a knitter, I measure distance and time in knitting. The subway station is four rounds on a sock away. "As it Happens" is two inches on a sweater long, my doctor is a fast one, and usually only makes me wait three rows on a cardie front. I wonder sometimes, as I think about measuring this way...if I keep knitting this much, will I eventually give directions like this?

"Knit four, purl 2 cable 3 left, turn right. Drive for 3 inches on a sock then turn right and work a short row."

The ride back was (despite pondering the mysteries of knitting and trying to figure out how I could standardize this system to allow for the varying speeds and gauges of knitters and yarn) a lovely quiet thing. This was the first train ride of my life (I am a woman of little experience) and I am in love with the train. The whistle, the rocking...the knitting time. It's a romantic way to travel and beats the pants off a plane.
Have you been on a train?

Safely home, I wondered what awaited me in the house. There had only been one panicked phone call to an Ottawa hotel (concerning whether or not a certain teen daughter should be allowed to attend a certain party and how to deal with the fact that Joe's (appropriate) refusal to allow the aforementioned teen daughter to do this had exacted a rather inappropriate noise level and heated statements about Joe's commitment to "her life" and his attempts to ruin same). Overall, one phone call for 54 hours of absence seemed like a pretty good record, so I wondered if there was something I wasn't being told.

Joe and the ladies met me at the train station and all of them were wearing clothes. (So far, so good). We drove home and I opened the door with trepidation. I was shocked. Shocked off my feet. I sat in stunned silence in the living room and surveyed it with alarm and horror.

It was great. It was tidy. When I could stand, I ran to the kitchen. More of the same. Clean counters, food in the fridge, leftovers that spoke to a minimum level of nutrition being met. The girls told me stories of going for walks in the park, there was no sign of a housefire that had been extinguished by the fire department moments before our home was consumed. No-one had sold all my yarn to bail anyone out of jail, the cat, hamster and new fish (Wanda) were all alive and there were no notices from the sheriff on the front door. I went upstairs and the girls had (be still my beating heart) cleaned their rooms. In short....

they do not need me.

As I sat quietly pondering this, and other matters of astonishment, and feeling decidedly romantic feelings about my charming husband (who seems to have finally taken the old adage "No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes" to heart...) Joe approached me with a cold beer extended.
"How did I do?" he asked, beaming with pride.
"Joe...good job dude. Seriously good job. I'm impressed." I took a swig of the icy beer (Joe knows I like 'em real cold) and said nothing about this trip being two days and the next one being the real test of his fortitude. I picked up my sock and worked a round while Joe puffed out his chest and surveyed his mighty domain before he sat down beside me.
"Yeah Joe?"
"You're going to tell the blog about this right? That I did ok?"

Who knew. Reporting to you is a behavioural tool. Who knew?
I, Stephanie, do solumnly swear that Joe is to be congratulated, and that I have nothing about his homemaking performance to complain about. He is a god, walking the earth disguised as man and I am lucky, even honoured to be knitting him socks.

Although... checked the laundry pile...and Mr. Washie and I do still have a completely monogamous relationship.
You can't have it all.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:39 PM

April 8, 2005

I may have miscalculated

After a rather harrowing journey here...Ottawa is good. Better than good actually, freakishly good. I'm completely delerious and exhausted and I'm telling you, if you really want to get a freak on, write a book. It's like one day your life is laundry and kids and a dirty kitchen floor, and then today it's road signs and signing books and travelling the country. It makes me nervous and grateful and ...well. I'm waiting to wake up.

I made it through yesterday's signings at both Yarn Forwards, (despite having made the bonehead decision to wear a white tee-shirt on a rainy day) despite being freaked out. Roger, Carol and Louise are wonderful hosts and I once I remembered that any yarn shop in the world counts as home turf, I was ok. In fact, at several points I realized that I was having a lovely time. Meeting people in person was wonderful and really quite reasurring. (I have had moments where I wondered if all of you were really just my imaginary friends.) Everyone I met was real and charming, funny and gracious.

I have photographic evidence that I met Aven's parents...

I recognized them by the sweaters that Aven knit. Does it say something about blogging that I can pick the parents of a fellow blogger out of a crowd in a different city by noting that I've seen those projects before? Aven, they are both sweet as pie.

Finally, as I sit here in my hotel room getting ready to go to do today's stuff,(Anyone coming to Leishman's Bookstore at Hazeldean Mall today?) wondering how Joe and the girls are making out...and drinking what I hope is enough coffee to get me through the petrifying tv things.... I offer you this.

This is Marilyn, the lovely sales rep. assigned to take me from place to place and keep the coffee coming. At 12:30 yesterday when I met her, she was a non-knitter.

Our plan to take over the world continues apace.

Posted by Stephanie at 7:53 AM

April 6, 2005


This is a test of the Yarn Harlot Remote Blogging System.

If this is here, this means that I have (against all odds) figured this out and can now blog unfettered by the laws of time, space and things that plug in. (almost).

Posted by Stephanie at 8:24 PM

What's wrong with my arse?

Yesterday, instead of blogging (my apologies) I got a lot done.

1. I finished this very, very beautiful little baby sweater from the supermerino.


Then I did a little dance in the bedroom while it was blocking because for once in my knitting life something happened almost exactly the way that I thought it would with absolutely no difficulty, upset or panic. I just knit a little sweater. The yarn even puddled pink in two matching spots on the front. Brilliant. The pattern was charming (The "Baby Surprise" in EZ's Knitting Workshop). It took three skeins of yarn, with this much left over.


(I'm thinking about sitting with my feet in a bucket of water so that I can't be forced to spontaneously combust as punishment for enjoying this so much. The sweater has no buttons because I can only imagine that the full complement of disaster that should have plagued the sweater will be exacted upon five little pink buttons.)

2. I went to the Eaton Centre in a desperate attempt to procure a pair of pants that I can wear when I leave for the Ottawa part of the tour tomorrow. (Oh...wait, the Ottawa details are updated on the Book Tour page, link also now conveniently located on the sidebar. Also currently cracking myself up that Harlot On Tour spells out HOT. Man that's funny if you are wearing old yoga pants and a tee shirt with a rip in it.)
I went, with my tenacious friend Sinead, to every single womens wear clothing store in the entire Mall (and it's a big mall) desperately tried on every pair of pants that there was in every store (well, almost) only to discover a few things. Firstly, I am still quite short, and secondly....my arse is wrong.

My arse being somehow an enigma of surprising tenacity comes as a bit of a shock to me, considering that it appears of normal size and shape, at least as viewed by me twisting round to look at it. Sinead assures me (though I was sort of undone by then, and she might not have wanted to be completely honest, lest I go right batty in a "Sears") that my arse also seems well within the scope of normal. It is perplexing then, that I would not be able to get it either into a pair of pants, or (on the other side of the coin) have it appear completely absent. I am ashamed to admit that driven to desperation and panic by the fact that I am leaving for Ottawa tomorrow morning and will be (hopefully....) be meeting any of you in the area, plus going on TV (this looms in front of me like a black, swirling wall of petrifying panic) and have only one crappy pair of jeans and the aforementioned ratty yoga pants, I did something that was most unlike me.

I walked into the Gap and told the salesgirl that I wanted (and I quote) "Those pants that Sarah Jessica Parker is wearing in the commercials." Sarah didn't let me down, and while I do not labour under the delusion that my arse comes anywhere close to her well sculpted and professionally trained one, (which was unceremoniously dumped by The Gap, despite the campaign having worked on me) the pants are pretty much OK. I still have to hem about six inches off the bottom (thus defeating the elegant "flared leg") but I will be wearing real pants in Ottawa, a fact that should reassure the publicity people to no end.

3. I tried to absorb the "remote blogging technology" that Ken has installed on the laptop he's loaned me. Should I be able to execute it successfully, the blog will march on unfettered (except by my incompetence) no matter where I am in the world.
I'm going to a coffeeshop down the street that has some magic called "wireless access" this afternoon (after I hem my pants) to test it. My hopes are high.

Without further ado, more presents!

Birdsong (wouldn't you love to be called Birdsong? Can you imagine what a lovely baby she must have been to be called "Birdsong"?) has beautiful needles and a fab mousepad


that Maggi T. will be using.

Abigail (who is generous to a fault) will be shipping this beautiful lot of Peace fleece


to Jane - the one I emailed. (Lucky knitter. Peace fleece is nice stuff)

More later....assuming I can blog from a coffee shop. See you in Ottawa! (Bring your knitting, we'll have a lovely time.)

Posted by Stephanie at 1:05 PM

April 4, 2005

A little balance

So, in a fit of bravery, inspired by tales of ironed Chai silk that glowed like they were lit from within, I ironed my Flower Basket Shawl.


As I ironed it, I agonized and worried and tormented myself about whether or not ironing my silk was the right thing to do. (It totally was, but I'm letting go of that for the moment.) Let's examine that sentence shall we? Iron my silk?

When it occurs to you that the troubles in your life that are occupying your thoughts most intensely are things like "How will I ever write all the notes to people thanking them for the nice things they say to me?" and "Should I iron my silk?" it might be time to make a return to a focus on those who actually know what problems are.

Thus we return to updating the Knitters without Borders page and giving away thank you gifts and working to quietly remind ourselves that while I ironed my silk, the United Nations estimated that more than 300 000 people have died in Darfur.
That's equivalent to the tsunami toll, for which more than 6 billion dollars were raised, leaving workers scrambling to spend it all. In the face of the magnificent, generous and simply decent giving to that disaster, those who gave to MSF to support workers saving lives in all tragedies happening quietly in other parts of the world deserve a special thank you.

Barbara (B. to her friends) knit this beautiful hat,


destined to sit elegantly on the head of a small friend of Kate B.s

Claudia made this shawl


Which has the most beautiful backstory ever. Lisa F. I've sent you an email explaining all about it.

Suzie has 6 balls of a handsome Bando ribbon yarn


which will (sadly, without the equally handsome spokes-model) be winging it's way toward Larry D.

Finally for today (more tomorrow...I promise, we're working our way toward the mittens.) Debbi has a copy of Folk Mittens that she will be mailing to Stephannie T.
(Lucky knitter. That's a beautiful book for the mitten obsessed.)
and a copy of Vogue Knitting Accessorize that will be going to the soon-to-be accessorized to die for Sarah H.

Happy Monday to my generous Knitters Without Borders!

Posted by Stephanie at 1:48 PM

April 1, 2005

Don't take your eyes off them.

While I sit here serenely knitting my snazzy new merino


and you go peacefully through your day in whichever way suits you, I beg you to take a moment to hold my sister in your thoughts or prayers... Today is a day she will be tested and only the strength of her soul and the power of planning will help her.
Today, Erin travels deep into the worst that motherhood has to offer. Her task today is risky, dangerous and not for the faint of heart.

She's having a birthday party for Hank and his friends.

Yes, Mr. Hankie Pankie is celebrating his 5th birthday (Hank is seen below being grateful to his grandmother for his birthday cake at our family celebration. Note the infamous Hankie-manic face.) Hank is very excited, and this doesn't bode well for my sister.


Erin has a poor track record with these events and while she is a very good mother, she is absolutely not a natural one. Where I never had to be told that a playgroup meeting doesn't need an open bar....Erin was forced to learn it the hard way. (You have not lived until you've seen the look on the playgroup mums faces when Erin offered Gin and Tonics all 'round.) My sister is so hip it hurts. My sister owns a restaurant. My sister's purse matches her shoes, my sister knows what Prada is can spot and assess designer wear at a thousand paces. My sister longs for Blahnik shoes. Erin's hair always looks good, hats flatter her and she owns panties that match her bra. More than that (and if you are a mother of a small child this will really bring it home...) Erin has a white coat.
Erin is, I assure you, ready for a thousand things....but she is not ready for this party.
I have reason to be suspicious. Previous mothering faux pas include:

1. When Hank was three he was in a community playgroup. The Mums took turns bringing snack in each week. You know the drill, cubes of cheese, grapes, slices of apples and goldfish crackers. When it was Erin's turn to bring snack....
She had it catered.

2. At a Parent Council Meeting at Hank's school to discuss fundraisers, the parents were offering their suggestions. Erin listened to the ideas (selling fudge, raffling movie passes, bake sale....) and then, clearly not understanding the "family" nature of the activities and perplexed by why they would not want to make some really serious coin, Erin made her pitch.
Hire a band and have a Kegger.

3. Finally, for this year's Chinese New Year celebration at the school all the children were asked to bring some food to have a feast. Erin, rushing to get to a meeting but really wanting to contribute, ordered, paid for and had delivered a large, elaborate and beautiful tray of Sushi.
(Yes, she was aware that Sushi was Japanese, not Chinese, but felt that it still had a sufficiently "Asian feel", and no...she was not aware that most 5 year olds would rather eat an entire tray of sandbox sand than sushi. Hank eats it.)

Erin can't understand why you would bake cookies if you can afford to buy them, why you would cook if you can cater or (God forbid) why you wouldn't take the time to moisturize every morning. Somehow, despite this deep lack of understanding of, well...mothers like me, Erin understands that sometimes you have to play along to get along and is desperately aware that she needs to figure out something about the life of an average mother before she's lynched by the other women out back of the neighbourhood swingset one night after soccer practice, so she's throwing Hank's party herself. She's got a cake and activities and a sugar-hopped horde of ravening four and five year olds descending on her and her white coat and her accessorized playroom. (I have sent Megan over so that this afternoon cannot end with a 911 call). Hold her in your thoughts will you? She's setting out the cold canapés and olive tray right about now.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:30 PM