September 29, 2005

46 hours

is how much time I have at home in between book gigs.

I offer this by way of explanation, for you're getting a late blog today, but I'm sure you understand that I'd like to spend as much of that 46 hours with Joe, the ladies and Mr. Washie as possible.
From the look of the house, Mr. Washie has missed me as much as I missed him. Poor guy. Luckily for him I own so few "book worthy" outfits that this pitstop has to involve him or I'm going to do book appearances in Chicago and South Bend with this tee-shirt on...


(If you're not from here, don't mind us Canadians. It's an inside joke.) I listen to the radio a lot and It has occurred to me wearing only this tee shirt for weeks until I hear Shelagh again might be appropriate. Sort of a "wear-in" to get my CBC back. As much as I love the BBC World Service...that and the bizarre re-run documentaries are just not working for me anymore.

When last I saw you, my knitwear was leaving Atlantic City and taking a plane to the beautiful Adirondacks...

It's lovely there. I'd been to Lake Placid once before on a climbing trip with Ken and my only memory of the place consisted of a moment when, while I was high on a ledge, clinging to a rock with my fingertips and my will power and I suddenly thought to ask Ken the name of the route we were on. Ken paused (surely pondering the value of honesty) then replied... "Pete's Farewell".
I'll never forget that moment, the trees and lake swirling below me, the rock feeling smaller suddenly under my gripping fingernails...possessed of an urge to check all the ropes attached to my harness and all I could think was
"Holy *&^%$#. What happened to Pete?"
I admit that facing this crowd at Adirondack Yarns was a better moment.
If you ever find yourself anywhere near this shop I'd make time for it. The owner is charming, half the place is a coffeeshop, they have Fleece Artist, and for the first time in a long time (I've been working on my resistance) I had a yarn accident. (It involved Dale of Norway. I'll tell you later when the shock wears off.
I was travelling with three other knitters and they were good company, completely enabling and between the four of us, the trunk was, well....

full of yarn. It's so good to be understood. Whenever I travel with non-knitters I always feel like I have to try and explain how one woman could need so much yarn at one time. (I think they sort of get why I would want so much of it....It's why I need all of it with me all the time that's hard to understand. Knitters totally get that you need one project for when you are talking and one for when you are watching tv and another one to knit on the plane and then a couple more for if you get bored with those first ones.)

This is for my Uncle Tupper. (I realize that this will hold little interest for the non-tuppers among you, but I thought he would like it. Humour me.) I took it in the town of "Tupper Lake". Who knew?

Onwards...laden with yarn and good intentions we arrived at the Brewer Bookstore at St. Lawrence University where much to my delight I spotted this book in the wild.

It's Knitlit the Third and I thought that the first time I would see it would be at Willow books on the 18th of October for the big party. (By the way? It totally cracks me up that the website advises us that it's "B.Y.O.Y.")

The friendly knitters....not at all a scary crowd. As a public service announcement I'd like to let you all know that Brewer Bookstore has a knitting book section to be impressed with. Usually big bookstores are sort of a downer in the knitting book section (I can't be the only knitter infuriated by discovering that in a huge chain bookstore, one with 34 books on worm composting or 52 books on how to organize lumber, that *I* have a better knitting section in my bedroom.) but this one is really good. (Note to bookstores: Quilting is not Knitting. Neither is Crochet or Beading or Plastic Canvas or anything that has "Mile-a-minute" in the title. While these are fine and decent crafts, you should not label a section "knitting" and get us all excited when we see how many books are in there. It angers the knitters when they run over and find this book sitting above the "knitting books" sign. This is also the precise reason that you keep finding this section of your store completely rearranged, but I digress.)

Back home (after a flight in which the lady in the seat behind me prayed loudly during take off and landing "Help me Jesus" and I wished that the heavens would open and shoot her a Xanax.) I discovered my lovely Joe, a cat who is pretending not to know me, a complete hairtie emergency and the cups (naturally) the wrong way up. (I am beginning to find this comforting.)
Most strikingly, upon my return home I discovered a little ray of sunshine in the kitchen. Something that erased all previous memories of stickiness and disaster...something so exquisite that my love for my husband was renewed and multiplied. Joe had bought a mop. A real mop. This impressed me so much that I almost wept in the kitchen. To discover that a spouse who until recently gave no indication that he was aware that floors needed washing has now not only acknowledged that this is a valid task but has also bought tools to enhance his floor washing experience? It's a fine and touching moment between lovers and one I will treasure forever.

I leave for Chicago in 19 hours where I will wear ironed clothing, embrace the Great Lakes Bookseller Association with the fullness of my being, drink beer with our loverly Rams, meet a Chicago blogger so famous I can't decide what sweater to wear, read and sign at Arcadia Knitting at 4:00 on the 1st, South Bend knitters on the 2nd at Sit 'n knit in IN, at a rare morning appearance...10:00am. (I shall be drinking plenty of coffee..glorious brown elixir of life.) The South Bend appearance is a last minute add on....details, as always, are on the tour page.

For now, I have time for my girls, my man....and considering that my stay at home is so brief...

A very small sweater.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:22 PM

September 26, 2005

Burt, it's been a slice

Atlantic City and Stitches East were fab beyond belief. I spent the weekend signing books, meeting knitters...greeting bloggers and falling at the feet of designers who inspire me.
(I have to tell you that when they pointed out Beth Brown-Reinsel to me I felt a pang of guilt. I hope she doesn't know about Joe's Gansey. I didn't introduce myself, partly because I was awed by her existence and partly as I was worried that if she *did* know about Joe's Gansey, things might go badly for me in public. Can you imagine? Being dressed down by a gansey expert in front of hundreds of knitters? Revealing you for the slacker you are? Horrors.)

I had the privilege of sharing a room with my friend Juno, and she made every minute more fun. Together we had a shocking shawl-to-human-ration in the hotel room.


That's eight. Eight shawls to equip two women for two days. (The shocking part is how long it took us to realize how odd that was. Considering how many hand knit shawls are in the average hotel room you have to figure that we were at least a statistical anomaly.)
Walking through the hotel was fun though, Knitters in the halls, knitters in the elevators, knitters only in the restaurants. (Not so many in the casinos. I suspect that many of them felt as Juno and I did, which was that a casino seemed a silly place to take one's yarn money...being as there is no yarn there...and that we had already gambled a fair bit by purchasing a new sock yarn.)

In the end, Juno and I crowned the current sock Miss America


(Where else would their be a cast bronze statue of Burt Parkes?)
Praised the charming Miss Knotology on her Koigu triumph


and fled into the night.

Two points of business.
1. Tonight I'm at Adirondack yarns in Lake Placid at 7:00. Should be a lovely way to spend a rainy evening. Cozy with my knitting at a really nice yarn shop. (The place is Filthy with Fleece Artist. Filthy.) Come out and play if you are close.
2. The surprise is ready. Call 877- SOS-KNIT (toll free in Canada and the US) and know me for the true and full dork that I am.

Posted by Stephanie at 9:11 AM

September 23, 2005


That's what time it is as I'm ricocheting out of Boston on my way to Atlantic City to go to Stitches. Since I am not a morning person (if we understand that to mean that if you speak to me before 9am and say anything other than "more coffee honey?" I am going to cry) I will be brief.

-Boston is very beautiful. Very.
-Boston is old. (Very)

-Paul Revere may have been a real guy.

-Boston has a knack for the gentle art of the reflecting pool.
-Some of the nicest knitters live in Massachusetts.
-Bethe is charming company and a fine driver.
-The Boston accent is absolutely impossible to mimic without sounding like Thurston Howell the Third. Don't try.
-Christina at the Sheep Shack knows how to throw a heck of a knitting party.
-She had 10 balls of trekking sock yarn in stock.


-Now she has none.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:03 AM

September 21, 2005

Madly off...

in all directions. I'm on a wild tear...(really Steph? That sounds so unlike you) for the last couple of days to get out the door for the next leg of the tour, going into the studio to make a surprise...and trying to co-ordinate the children and Joe to withstand a critical mother shortage for a week. (While they are getting much better at it, the thought of a musician/record producer getting up at 7:30 in the morning several days in a row to have the hair-tie/where's my green pants/she's taking too long in the bathroom morning scene is pretty much heart-stopping.) I'm packing...though I need a new sock in progress since these...


these are done. Enormo-socks knit on 2mm needles, in this yarn, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I like the random stripyness of them, and new owner will enjoy the colour (or lack thereof).

I finished them while Joe and I went into the studio to work on the recorded surprise. It was an interesting look at what Joe does all day.


The man himself, at the helm of his own personal recording empire. The sock noted that there are many, many buttons in the studio.


So many buttons in fact, that it boggles the mind that a man who can work all of this still thinks that knitting is tricky...but I digress.


I sat behind the microphone and did my thing (what my "thing" is will be revealed in the fullness of time.) and I felt like a supreme dork. Joe feels that I "breathe" too loudly (how do you not do that?) and commented once or twice that he would really appreciate it if I didn't swear quite so violently when I made a mistake because it's really hard to edit out all the cursing and the sighs. (I suppose there's also the little problem of the frequency of my mistakes, but my self-esteem suffered enough with the problem of my "breathing" so lets not dwell on it.)

I need to find my passport, deal with the end of the surprise, I need to do enough laundry to get me through Holden MA tomorrow, Stitches East on the weekend, New York State on Monday and Tuesday, (details on the tour page) as well as enough laundry that the children aren't reduced to wearing paper bags to school ten minutes after I leave. I need to buy enough food that nobody here runs out of milk or eggs, tidy up enough that nobody becomes lost in the living room and somehow depart here tomorrow morning with a big smile on my face. This will actually be easier than it sounds, considering that once I get on the plane all of that stuff isn't my problem anymore and I just get to play with knitters. Until the plane, it's making me a very cranky mother, indeed. Amanda went to a craft show and came home with this...


It reads "she was quite a sweet girl, until she started all that knitting." Makes me wonder if the kids have noticed the crankiness.

With that, I give you a sky for Sandy


and a wave.
I'll write from....wherever there is wireless.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:39 PM

September 19, 2005

Ahoy Me Hearties!

Look sharply me beauties, It be international "Talk like a pirate day" (With many 'tanks to Patti, first mate for t'day who made sure I heard about it. ) I be takin' it fer all that it be worth, for de purposes of me own amusement.

I knitted on the never endin' bilge-rat bobble bind-off on me desperate Lotus Blossom shawl until I thoughts me mind would wander off, and despite having just about gnawed off me own right arm due out of bordom, I thinks it looks pretty good. (According to the stolen clock in me galley, dis bind-off takes longer than pillaging a Spanish Galleon and stuffin' the treasure in me stash. Two hours and twenty-five dastardly minutes. Arrr.)


I call this one "Avast ye scurvy Lassie, Hold this piece of knitting in the window before you go to school, and hold a civil tongue in yer head about the oddness of the Captain." (This is the only picture with accurate colour. The captains camera is as old as her ship)


and this one "There's not a body here to take a picture of yer accomplishments... so we'll throw it on the spinning wheel Steering Wheel, while the neighbours calls ye "odder than fish"


This last one we calls "Emma showed up for coffee and took the picture, and even said Arrrrrr while she dids it."

Tomorrow, why second sock syndrome ain't a problem for pirates.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:31 PM

September 16, 2005

A little Q&A

I've got nothing today (Including a finished shawl, so let's just gloss right over that.) so I'm going to completely cop out of being brilliant or interesting and pillage yesterdays comments for material.

Trickytricot asks:

You do know that the last 9.5 percent are the longest rows, right?

Whatever happened to the highland triangle?

Tricky my pet, my buddy, my pal...I cannot resist. This reminds me of a dinner party where I deliberately choked myself with a large soft dinner bun so that I couldn't speak to someone who was explaining that they had to carry a 40lb bag of peatmoss...but it wasn't that bad, because you know...peatmoss is light. The last 9.5% is the last 9.5% whether the rows are longer or not. It's not like the last 9.5% is a longer 9.5% because the rows are longer. (Although last night I could have sworn that he was making a solid point. The last 9.5% may not be mathematically longer, but feels that way. )

As for the Highland Triangle, it's still loved and temporarily on hiatus as I need to finish spinning the yarn for it.


(Pardon my bad pictures's raining and dark)
I've got three of the five colours spun and plied, but the other two are resisting me. (That's mostly because I'm trying to spin them with only the power of my mind and not actually sitting at the wheel. slow going, that.) Besides....a prettier yarn waggled it's label at me and I lost focus. (I just noticed in the picture that apparently I wandered off mid-row a couple of weeks ago. That's disappointing.) Cast your eyes upwards, read the name of the blog. Know that I still deserve the title.

Stephanie asks:

I hate to burst your bubble because I do so love Lotus Blossom (thanks for the tip on that by the way), but I must mention those most time-consuming bobbles. Did you consider them?

No. (This is directly related to there clearly being No Shawl Today.) The bobble-bindoff is clever, lovely and good looking. It is also a sucking void in the time space continuum. I am timing it.

Jodi asks:

What is Screech?

Screech is a coping tool used throughout Newfoundland. Used in moderation this coping technique makes boring people more interesting, provides backbone and strength, eases emotional pain and aids in recovering from trauma.


Used in excess, it does the exact opposite.

Micky asks:

What did you do with the corset?

Here's how it works around here. I pick up projects willy-nilly with no respect at all for continuity, reader interest or consideration for how they are working out. I dump socks for hats, corsets for shawls and ganseys for...well, it turns out that I dump ganseys for just about any reason that comes by. I drop perfectly good projects that I'm having fun with so that I can torture myself with bobble-bindoffs or sock heels that end up crooked. (I don't think I told you about that.) Above all, and this is really the guiding principle, I never cloud the issue with facts and logic.

Glirastes asks:

Your newest book "Knitting Rules" has the publication date of March 2006 on their computer. Is that correct?

Yes, although admitting it, no...even just typing that causes the world to swirl around the edges creating a vortex of blackness and horror that threatens to strip me from my sanity. (Not that I wasn't halfway there from the pressure of all the laundry and the fact that I've misplaced my keys again.) While it is true that the latest is going to be out in the spring, I'm convinced that putting it up on Amazon was a ploy by the publisher to make sure that I understand they are serious about me turning it in, since the book currently looks like this....


Note the leftover coffee of hours gone by, the largish glass of screech on the table and the obvious and menacing black cloud of Impending Deadline Doom lurking above it with it's distracting neon lightning, big teeth and bad breath? The way it lies on the papers with it's filthy, idea sucking, humourless gaping demon-maw - the barbed self-esteem deathrays it shoots at me, even as I type and comply? See how it follows me through my day with it's psychic mind-control powers invading my waking moment and every sleeping dream screaming "You'll never make it...Never...NEVER! Give up now! Change your name! Don't wear socks! Die-writer-Die!"

No? Er...I don't see that either. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:20 PM

September 15, 2005


That's it. I'm getting ahold of myself.
This is the Lotus Blossom Shawl that I'm completely in love with.


I have six rows left to go. According to the handy dandy shawl calculator found here (look in her sidebar) I have completed 90.5% of this shawl. (Juno was talking about how much she loves this. I concur. The thing is more fun than a 60% off sale on merino. Try it. You'll spend hours calculating how far you have come, how far you have to go...and if you are like me, timing your speed per inch and working out how much time that means you have left to go on it. Obsessive? I think not. Try it before you judge me.) That means, if my math is correct, (and let's hope that it is considering what it says about me if I can't subtract 90.5 from 100 correctly) that I only have 9.5% to go.

9.5%. That's it. Just under 1/10th. Is that right? I was helping Meg with "rational numbers" last night and the whole thing was making me irrational. When did they make grade nine math so hard? It's humiliating to be standing there with a little kid and not be able to answer their math questions. She's asking me all this stuff about "integers" and how positives and negatives work when you are multiplying and dividing them and it was all I could do to find this web page (thank you Lois Terms, whoever you are) and pour myself a little tiny glass of screech. (No ice please. Mummy doesn't need this diluted.) Screech does not, for the record, make me a better mathematician, but it does take the sting out of telling her that I know that "two wrongs don't make a right" so logically, two negatives shouldn't make a positive. (Note: They do. They totally do. Every time. There's no ethics involved at all.) This whole thing is shaping up like the year that I had to sneak into Amanda's grade 5 classroom at 4:00 when the kids were gone, quietly close the door behind me and ask the teacher if she could take a minute to teach me long division so I would stop getting my arse kicked by a ten year olds homework. Good times, but I digress...

Even a math whiz like me can knows that shoving a shawl that is 90.5% finished into the back of the knitting basket is...well. Let's just say that it's not what a knitter who wants to wear a new shawl to Chicago would do. So I'm going to finish it. I'm not going to do what I did this morning and spend any more of my knitting time for this project calculating how much more of my knitting project remains.

Tonight I will watch the premiere of Survivor ( not judge me.) and I will finish this. I come.

(Note: Yes. This was a diversion tactic to distract you from asking me about the corset. What corset? I don't see a corset around here.)

PS. Sarah-the-wonder-publicist has given me a time and place for the Chicago stop. I'll be at Arcadia Knitting, Saturday October 1st at 4pm. Save me a seat (and maybe a little sock yarn.)

Posted by Stephanie at 3:27 PM

September 14, 2005

Strike one and a half

Gravity: The force that attracts a body to the centre of the earth or other celestial body. (The Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary)

It is a cruel truth that the female form is an eventual victim of gravity. I have accepted this, and I don't really mind that being drawn ever southward. I still like them and I feel pretty good about the years of devoted service that they gave me and my babies during the milky years. I admit that every so often I look at myself and think fondly of their previous higher location on my body, but I'm ok with it, and besides...I don't think that they are That Low. I feel (despite gravity and the aforementioned years of service) that their location on my body is still totally within normal limits. Nobody points and stares, I don't catch people drifting their eyes down my front with an incredulous stare....I've never been taken aside an spoken to by a caring friend about the stunning and catastrophic lowness of my breasts.

This is why I was stunned to discover that they are in entirely the wrong place for the Silk Corset. I finished the lace, did the armholes (that's a provisional cast on sitting there. I had a failure to commit to an armhole/sleeve idea so I weenied out.) and read the next part of the pattern. The pattern instructed me to knit ribbing for a while, and then to do the "Bust Decrease" that's the part that makes the corset swoop in attractively under your normally located breasts. I knit for the required 2.75 cm and began the chart.

It occurred to me that this did seem sort of high to begin to be "under" the breasts, but Claudia and I have both noted that this top doesn't have tons of coverage, but still....
I thought about my breasts then, with the corset held up to them and tried to figure out how they could be so far off of where they were supposed to be. Then I got my bra. (Always thinking...that's me.) I put on my bra, held the corset up to my chest where a corset should go and discovered that even with the help of underwire, elastic and positive thinking, the under the breast shaping of the top, the place where it got smaller was falling right where I got bigger. I can't put the corset lower because I can't move the location of my arms...and therefore, the armholes. There was only one possible reason that this corset could not be working.

My breasts are in the wrong spot and I have never noticed.

I gave this a good think. The only way this will work is if my breasts are way higher. Did the corset squeeze your breasts higher? Much higher? Like....UNDER YOUR CHIN?

I looked in the mirror. They seem normal. I turned sideways. Yup. That's pretty much where I expect them to be. (Pretty much, because I have accepted the gravity issue from above.) I think about the times I've gone out in public bra-less. Since I think the restraining force of the brassiere is for special occasions, this isn't as seldom as you would all hope. (If this upsets you, phone my Mum. She would love to talk over my bra-lessness and lack of lipstick.) I didn't trip over my breasts on these occasions, or have to lift them up to zip up my pants. When I bend over to pull weeds I don't hold them back with one hand to see the dandelions and except for one occasion (when I asked for it) I don't receive mountains of bra's as gifts in what could be considered an avalanche of suggestion.

Then it hits me. The letters after my name are IBCLC. I have seen more breasts than Hugh Hefner. The chances that I passed this exam but failed to notice that my breasts are freakishly placed on my own body are about the same as the chances that Pierce Brosnan is dropping by this afternoon to do my laundry nude.
(Although Dude? If you're reading this, we're almost out of detergent. We use unscented and the store is a block west.)

Sure enough, I rechecked the pattern. 2.75 INCHES, not centimetres. Another tragic error caused by the senseless lack of continutity between the designers country and my own.
The location of my breasts is normal. Thought you'd want to know.

I ripped back the half corset I had knit, added the appropriate amount of ribbing and voila.


What I did on my summer Vacation, part 2
(again...feel free to skip this is you don't care about the minute details of this week of my life. )

The day we left Tupper and Susans we began biking again from our Nations Capitol, Ottawa.


There's Ken and the sock with the East Block behind them. The East block is historic on the hill in that its appearance really hasn't changed much since confederation. The offices of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald are inside and citizens are welcome to wander around. Sir John A. is the father of Confederation and famous for two other things:

Macdonald was well known for his wit and also for his alcoholism. He is known to have been drunk for many of his debates in parliament. One famous story is that during an election debate Macdonald was so drunk he began vomiting violently on stage while his opponent was speaking. Picking himself up Macdonald told the crowd, "see how my opponent's ideas disgust me."


(The West block has offices of politicians and such. You can't go in there - even if you really want to talk to Stephen Harper. ) Doen't both Ken and the sock look moved? You betcha. Doesn't Sam look like she thinks Ken might have a few loose stitches? Oh yes.

A picture of the five of us (that's me in the apparently day-glo orange tank. I had no idea it was so bright.) standing atop Parliament Hill with our trusty steeds. You can get a pretty good idea of how much gear we carry from this shot. Each person has two panniers (those saddlebags hanging over the rear wheels.) One is loaded with their personal stuff and the other holds their contribution to the family load. Sam carries the camping pots, Meg everything to do with light (flashlights, lanterns, candles) etc. Atop each persons panniers are perched their sleeping bag and thermarest. (A thermarest is an extraordinary contribution to civilization. It's a very small self inflating air mattress. If you are camping on hard rocky ground everywhere you go it is very easy to develop an emotional relationship with it.) All the big stuff, like tents (and beer) are in the trailer behind Ken's bike.

The teenaged girls sitting again, this time with the Peace Tower in the background.

This is the Governor General's Residence, a short ride down Sussex drive. In Canada, the Governor General is also the Commander in Chief and the Queen's representative. Hence the very Buckingham-esque guard.

We couldn't resist. The dude is (just like in England) instructed to ignore anything that goes on that isn't a threat. I'm still wondering what he thought though. Don't you think it was killing him not to know what was up with the sock?
For the record, in the interest of public safety and in keeping with Canadian laws and general philosophy, that's a plastic rifle he's got there.

The number on that post reads "24". Canadians know where the sock is.

From there, we go along the Ottawa/Outaouais River (depending on what side of it you are on.) for ages. The Ottawa River bike path system is awesome.

Still on the bike path, a rare picture of the teenaged girls in motion.

At lunch time (ok. A little later than lunchtime) we took the ferry across the river to Quebec to eat and gawk at the very famous and fabulously cool "Le Chateau Montebello". (The link has better pictures and info) Even though we were way too sweaty and dirty and poor to be in the joint.


The sock was impressed. The Chateau Montebello is the worlds second largest log structure. (No, I don't know what the biggest is) and it's gorgeous. Even though it broke the bank I'm glad we did it.

We waited for the ferry back across the river....

and the sock rested. I know it looks rainy here but fear not for the trusty sock. It only rained once on the whole bike trip, and it was at night and we were safe and warm in the tents. Not one drop of rain fell on us on any tour day, and the only victims of the rain that is wandering off in this early morning picture was my right and Ken's left Birkenstock, somehow left out it the rain. Both of us went "step, squish, step, squish, step, squish" for an entire day. You wouldn't believe what that does for your mood.

On the road again:
Finally today, news on the tour front. Sarah-the-wonder-publicist has advised me that the fun continues and there are some people out there who are going to be happy. Read 'em and weep you persistent knitters....and never let it be said that Sarah isn't a good listener.

Thursday September 22nd 7:00 The Sheep Shack in Holden, MA.
(They are asking people to RSVP. You can do so to this email: )

Friday September 23rd: Stitches East in Atlantic City: Signings at 12:30 at The Yarn Barn of Kansas booth, and at 2:00 at Rosie's Yarn Cellar Booth

Saturday September 24th: Still at Stitches: a signing at The Mannings booth at 12:30 and a terrifying speech at dinner. (Note to self. Check hair carefully to make sure you rinsed it. Wear pants.)

Sunday September 25th: Still at Stitches, regardless of how humiliating the talk was the night before. Signing at The Mannings booth again at 12:30.

Monday September 26th: Lake Placid NY, 7:00 at Adirondack Yarns.

Tuesday September 27th: Canton NY 6-8:00 pm at Brewer Bookstore, St. Lawrence University.

Saturday October 1st : CHICAGO! (See? I told you Sarah was a good listener) Details of the location and hours to be announced as soon as Sarah gets them to me.

Thursday October 13th: Toronto Ontario. The Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival. I'll be reporting at 1:00 for a talk and a signing.

Saturday October 15th: Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival
Signing (and buying fiber) at Spirit Trail Fiberworks at 3:00.

Sunday October 16th: Still at Rhinebeck, drunk on yarn and knitting buddies and signing at Spirit Trail again at 11:00

Monday October 17th: Skeneateles (Can someone tell me how to say that?) NY at Creekside Books & Coffee, 7:00pm

Teusday October 18th: Acton, MA: Launch party and multi-author reading for Knitlit The Third: We Spin More Yarns at Willow Books. This promises to be the best knitting party all year. I've been promised cake. If you come, you could get some too.

Wednesday October 19th: Toronto, Ontario I'll be the speaker at the Downtown Knit Collective at the Metro-Central YMCA at 7:30.
Visitors to the DKC are welcome to come.

Yours truly will take to the stage and....well. We'll just see what happens. This event actually gives me the willies pretty badly. I LIVE in Toronto, so I can't chant the mantra that gets me through all of my other events. Usually I stand up there, look out at all your smiling faces and know that if I arse it up, faint or swear...the odds are pretty good I'll never see 90% of you again. That just doesn't cut it if you are only a few blocks from home.

Phew. I'll toss all that on the tour page when I've adjusted to the idea.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:15 AM

September 12, 2005

Local Colour

Saturday, the intrepid Knitty-Amy and I carpooled it up to Kitchener for the Kitchener-Waterloo Guild's Knitters Fair. I'd never been before, so I don't know what I was expecting, but no matter what I thought I'd find I was unprepared for what I found.

(Our intrepid Amy is seen here triumphant and yarn laden..demonstrating the glorious knitterly glow that you get when you score discontinued favourite cotton - on sale. It was either that or the coffee. )

The show isn't the biggest around, if you're thinking Rhinebeck or Maryland you're going to be right put out (first of all...there are no sheep wandering around the Bingeman's ballroom) and if you're a spinner...well. I urge you to remember the name "Knitter's Fair". There's precious little in the way of roving and I didn't see any wheels for sale...but it's not like they said there would be. Instead, there was yarn. Oodles of yarn. Aisles and aisles of interesting, local awesome stuff. There's a list of vendors here....and some of them I'd never seen before. My favourite was Rosa Wang (sorry, no website) where I scored some mystery laceweight. This one changes colour over long repeats.

although this is the least accurate picture of the yarn possible. In reality is is much less... Well, much less every colour except green and the green isn't that crazy lime green that's there, more like a loden green. The yellow is more like yellow ochre, a muddy dirty colour ...and the red isn't red, it's rust. It has no sky blue at all, that's just some camera trick. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't know why I showed you this picture at all. Imagine that this yarn is actually all the good colours of indian food.


This yarn is the prize. It changes from navy blue to purply blue, is almost iridescent and reminds me of the necks of mallard ducks. (Not that I spend that much time thinking about duck necks, and I know that duck necks are more green than blue...but you know what I mean. The colour thing is not going well today) and my is cashmere. A huge, honking ball of 100% cashmere laceweight. I feel happy when I hold it. Very happy. (I won't tell you what I paid because A) discussing how much you paid for stuff is a little bit in poor taste and B) it was so cheap that any of you who know where I live would come here and roll me for it. It would be worth the gas money.)

The cashmere score is almost enough to take the sting out of Saturday's ritual humiliation. ( You knew there had to be one, didn't you? When is there not?) I met Cara, Carol, Monica, Renee and hundreds of other people. I talked with the owners of Koigu, and the very nice lady who runs the Canadian Guild of know. Everyone. The whole time that I met everyone I could scarcely think, obsessing and wondering if they had noticed my hair. You see, in my excitement and nervousness about all the people and the books and the driving and the Amy and all of it.....

I forgot to rinse the shampoo out of my hair.

I spent the entire day with most of my hair stuck down to my head in the most stiff and sticky way possible. I say "most" because in places the shampoo must have wiped off on my towel and those parts weren't stiff, but merely resembled the oiliness of a seals coat. I noticed my head was heavy on the way there, but it wasn't until I got to the ladies room at the Fair that I realized what was going on in all of it's horrifying detail. In between meeting and greeting lovely knitters I tried to fluff it up and only succeeded in practically getting my hand stuck in the cemented slick mass while tangling it beyond all recognition. By then end of the attempted fix it was like I had fallen into a vat of bryl cream and then tried to sort it out with a blender. Amy comforted me by saying that at least it wasn't frizzy. Good point. POINTY OIL CHUNKS aren't frizzy. If you met me for the first time on Saturday I beg you to forget my appearance and seeming obsession with touching the top of my head. Please give me a second chance. I'm not usually that odd and I swear I'm smart enough to execute both steps of hair washing most days.

Sigh. At least I was wearing pants.

Posted by Stephanie at 7:08 PM

September 9, 2005

Strike One.

Last night I was reading my email and there were people saying that the corset runs small so "size up", and people saying that my theory is good, and people saying that the corset was big, so "size down"....this variety of opinions doesn't shake me up at all. I figure that different experiences with a pattern are normal, since we all knit differently and goodness knows that it doesn't matter to me what or how people knit, so when two different knitters have two conflicting opinions on a's par for the course. I'll probably have my own experience and have to live with that too. I kept knitting.

Then I got some emails from a couple of knitters saying that they were right on gauge, that the corset looked fabulous and then it hit water and it was game over. They begged me to wash a swatch before I ended up with an extremely elegant lace and cable elephant corset. (Really, no matter how pro-elephant you are, you don't want that. Elephants don't hand wash. No hands.)
This scared me. I knit me a little swatch. (Shown here with the tape measure it only took me 22 minutes to find and photographed here, rather badly and at 1am.)


Looks exactly like I was right. The gauge on the pattern is 22 stitches to 10cm/4" and these are 22 sitches on a smaller needle, with a smaller yarn I am totally getting a smaller piece of knitting. Good thing too, since I choose the larger size to compensate.

Then I gave the swatch the tiniest little bit of a swish in the kitchen sink, (no soap, no violence) and very gently laid it out on the counter to dry. I did not stretch it or manhandle it in any way.


Danger Will Robinson, DANGER. The swatch, expanding faster than my stash in a far flung yarn shop with a sale on laceweight, now measures a staggering and catastrophic 19 stitches to 4 inches. Now there are people who would be better at the math than me (perhaps even enjoy it...though I suspect that Kristen is lying about how much darned fun mathematics is) and that means I'm getting 4.75 stitches to the inch, instead of 5.5 stitches to the inch and that means that the 38.5 inch chest that I thought was going to come out small is actually going to be...wait, ok. so 4.75 X 38.5 = No. Wait, that would give me the number of stitches to cast on...that's not right. Ok, 38.5 divided that won't do it either. Hold on. If 38.5 divided by 5.5 is equal to "X" and in the new equation "X" is 4.75 then the new size of the corset is going to be.... for the love of wool. Screw it. It's BIGGER. It's going to be BIGGER. Kerstin or someone else who doesn't think that all the air on the planet starts to go away whenever X = SOMETHING can figure out by how much. Me? I know it's going to be BIGGER, and that's not good. I wanted it SMALLER.

In the interest of getting it smaller, I've frogged attempt #1 and cast on the smallest size, on a smaller needle and we'll see what happens now.


All of this math and frogging would have me upset except I have a new best friend.


This wee cabled bunny made it's trip here from Lee Ann's house. She's made of roving I gave Lee Ann, and she's charming beyond all belief. (Yes. She is wearing underwear. What else? The poor little dear is far from home. Why wouldn't she be wearing only underwear?) I love her, and she's sitting by my laptop being admired.

I'm co-opting part two of the bike trip (I know, it's breaking your heart that you don't see the Canadian Parliament through the eyes of a manic knitter and her assorted sock projects today) with breaking news. Tomorrow I'll be signing copies of Bookbookbook 1 at 1:00 at the Gemini Fibres booth at the Knitters Fair in Kitchener Ontario (which is really just a chance to go yarn crawling with Amy). This by itself is exciting, but the news is that Gemini Fibers, with the help of The Canadian Manda Group has managed (through a string of complex cross-Ontario phone calls and with the efforts of a really awesome dude there named "Anthony", who is a distribution and shipping genius) to procure 32 copies of Bookbookbook 2, hot off the presses and before anybody else has them, which (when I am done staring at them and feeling faint) I'll sign too.

Last time, Americans had the book a long time before a Canadian (namely my mother, the only Canadian it probably really pissed off...) set their eyes on it. This is often the case with North American book distribution, but for a Canadian author, it's a little heartbreaking. This time?
Well. To quote Ryan.... "neener neener".

Who's coming to gloat say hi?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:39 PM

September 8, 2005

A little imprecision.

When I regained my sight yesterday I plunged headlong into the impending disaster silk corset. Here (for the purposes of the "What the (*&^%$!!! was I thinking!!" blog post I will be writing at four in the morning one day next week when the corset is not working out exactly the way the Hindenberg didn't) is exactlly what I was thinking.

1. I'm using a dk weight instead of a worsted weight. This is a smaller yarn. I am, therefore, following logic and using a 3.25mm needle instead of a 4mm needle. This should prevent knitting a "fishnet effect" corset for which I would need to purchase a much better bra or one of those "camisoles" my mother tells me so much about.

2. The smallest size in the corset is a 35 inch bust. I have a 35 inch bust. Oddly, this is a problem.

3. Since I am using smaller yarn and smaller needles, I believe (I am a simple person) that I will get a smaller corset, one smaller than my 35 inch bust.

4. Swatching could answer this question, but swatching leads to mathematics. Since I am unprepared to do the math that swatching gives me, there is no point in swatching. Besides, it's not like it's going to take a long time to figure out that I'm screwed. I like taking knitting chances.

5. I understand that this may mean that I am going to knit the top of this 4 times and that at least one of those times I will likely take to an excess of strong drink and say unkind things about the designer.

6. Let me apologize in advance to her, and admit fully that I understand that if I decide to screw up your pattern by using all the wrong stuff and refusing to engage in even a little swatching, and then it turns out to be a tent cozy or, conversely - a rippin' new outfit for a beanie baby, that this is not your fault.

7. Having determined (while sober) that I have smaller yarn, smaller needles and should therefore be knitting a smaller corset, I decided to go up a size to the 38 inch chest. I believe that this makes a good bunch of sense but admit that it's unscientific and imprecise.
Oh well.

What I did on my summer vacation: Part one
(Note: if you don't give a crap about my summer vacation you can skip this and I'll never know. Really.)

On my summer vacation, I rode my bike, together with my children and my buddy Ken...400 kilometres from Brockville Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. (Joe, while he is a big fan of the annual bike trip, is a bigger fan of not running a recording studio into bankruptcy, so he had to stay here and finish mixing the sound on a film.)

On my summer vacation, we started at Toronto's Union Station, where we got on a trip to Brockville Ontario, our stopping place the last time that we rode eastward.


I learned that the girls, now that they are teenagers, sit down and discuss boys, lip gloss and cellphones every single time they are not moving.

I learned that you can really freak a trainload of people out if all of the adults in your party are simultaneously knitting.


Ken's working on a Kid Silk Haze scarf. You'll see it again, it was his only trip knitting. (We also learned that VIA coffee resembles coffee the way that apples resemble lemurs.)

Landing in Brockville, we learned a couple of things. A) The train station in Brockville is operated by two people on duty. B) If these two people have to unload 5 boxed up bikes from the train they will be bitter (even if you offer to help) and they will suggest that if you are ever going to do *this* to them again, you should phone first or something, because even though they are baggage handlers, and the bikes are the only baggage coming off of the whole train at that stop, and that it only took them about 8 minutes to manage, that they would really get more people on that shift to handle the five boxes.

We learned that the bathrooms at the city run "St. Laurence Park" campground are darned nice, pleasant to use and almost (almost being all you can ask for) arachnid free.

We also learned that the 72 km the next day from Brockville to Kemptville are beautiful....


but long. Even pastoral serenity can wear on a know what I mean?

We learned that llamas (there was a duck there too...) and sheep


are not as interested in a travelling sock as donkeys are.


I suppose it's possible that something about me, maybe the way I was holding out a product of their shorn woolly comrades, may have made the llama and sheep feel threatened. Really though, they shouldn't have worried. I didn't have room on the bike to carry a fleece.)
The sock in question here is a new knitting project A. This was selected for it's ability to be knit without a pattern, chart or adequate light.

We rode over the Ottawa River to Kemptville


home of Rideau River Provincial Park where Ken and I discovered that we had selected, randomly and over the internet, the absolute best campsite in the joint.


That's the view from tent-side. The Ottawa River at sunset.
Here, more knitting


though its starting to be plain that Ken doesn't love Crack-silk Haze as much as I do. (I gave him the blue post-it note too....he still didn't have a lot of fun with it.) It could be that he would like it better if he wasn't sitting on a bike weary arse, but I didn't think of asking him to stand at the time.

Shortly after that picture (about 2 cups of coffee later) we rode on to Manotick, and after a late lunch at the Swan on the Rideau


we rolled into my Uncle Tuppers yard. (The funny thing about stopping at the Swan was that I've always thought it was really fancy-schmancy. The restaurant sits there on the edge of the river, lit up at night, and I suppose I had always imagined it in this really romantic way. We were desperate, so we stopped and I thought we would be turned away for being scruffy, but it turns out it's a pub. Just an ordinary pub. I was too hungry to be disappointed that we could get in, but it did sort of shatter an illusion to be sitting there. ) Tup and his lovely Susan live on Susan's family farmhouse, and we all engaged in a two day break that looked like this


Oh, wait...Meet knitting project number two, a pair of koigu socks in a lacy pattern, selected to provide colour, relief from the incredible monotony of knitting project number one, and still fit in a bike pannier. Pretty pretty. Right after this shot was taken, one of my knitting needles fell down this crack on the pool deck, and Tupp (who's feet are featured above) crawled under the pool deck, and retrieved the needle from next to a wasp nest. I'm pretty fond of him.

When the kids weren't in the pool, they were here...


out in the back 40. Checking out frogs and other non-city critters and looking for snakes. By the way, meet knitting project number 3. It's the Lotus Blossom shawl from yesterday's ritual blinding (There were, by the way...massive, insane errors in every single row that I knit while blurry yesterday. I didn't even purl across the backside without incident.) and now that I can read the label it's Running Wild Yarn, two ply fingerling in the colour "brick". I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a yarn this much. It's cormo, and is stretchy and bouncy and soft and wonderful and I really, really love it. If I get nothing else at Rhinebeck this year, I'll be hunting this vendor.

Tomorrow...ever wondered what the Canadian Parliament looks like? The sock knows.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:45 PM

September 7, 2005

I think it's a shawl

So this morning I got up and trucked myself down to Toronto Western Hospital for a 30 minute eye doctor appointment. (Actually, Joe trucked me, since I discovered that the front wheel of my bike is suddenly on backwards.) The 30 minute appointment turned into a 3 hour one, during which I was ritually blinded with the accursed drops of doom not just once (oh no...we wouldn't want it to wear off...) but twice. Here I am, blind and pissed off (Note to any ophthalmologists reading the blog: I am aware that the drops are for the greater good. I understand that I have been blinded out of the doctors love and concern for my eyes and that it only seems that they are mean spirited and difficult) and hoping that I am writing coherently, but with no way to see the words I'm typing...I can't be sure. (Please forgive any typos that exceed my normal level of typos).

Since it was three hours of waiting, I knit. I knit on my vacation knitting, The Lotus Blossom shawl. (Don't ask what yarn. I can't read the stinking label.) It looks like this:


The woman sitting next to me (also ritually blinded) said "That's a pretty colour. " Then, squinting at it..."What is it?"
"Well" I replied, "before the was a shawl".
"Oh" the lady said (somewhat surprised) "How can you see what you're doing?"
"I can't."
"But you're knitting anyway?"
"So...If it *was* a shawl....what is it now?"

Good question lady. I guess I'll find out later when my vision clears and I can divine the damage I've done in the last 6 rows where I couldn't see the chart or the knitting at all. I'm not sure what it says about me that in order to not just sit there bored, I'm willing to knit something so badly that I'll have to have a total frog and do-over this evening.

For the rest of today (since interpreting which of my vacation pictures to post represents a technical difficulty in my ritually blinded state) I was going to write about my new Artfibers Siam and how I was going to knit it into Annie Modesitt's Silk Corset, despite the difficulties the change in gauge represents. I had the yarn, the pattern and a pretty clever post written when I looked at Claudia's entry for the day. Turns out that Claudia and I are channelling each other in a way that would really scare the crap out if me if I didn't like Claudia as much as I do, as well as seeing the immediate benefit of her being a little ahead of she can take some of the heat on this little experiment. Therefore, go read her post, but substitute this colour.


(Just imagine mine sort of blurry....and Claudia? Send me those pattern notes...will ya?)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:45 PM

September 6, 2005

I ask for so little

Listen...hear that? Well, I mean, of course you don't. You are, wherever you are and I am here and I don't really expect that you can hear what I'm hearing but you know what I mean. If you were here, you could stand with me in the kitchen, cup of decent coffee in your hand, mail on the counter...knitting comfortingly nearby and you could tip your head to one side, stop moving or breathing for one minute and listen for it. You wouldn't know what it was at first, if you were me and you lived here. You would feel sort of funny, like something was very, very different and then you would realize what the sound was.

It's nothing.

There is no noise in the house. Not one person saying "She took my hair tie/ I can't find a hair tie/ I left my hair tie right here, who took it" (I hate hair ties. I am convinced that second only to oil and fervent religion they cause more war and hate in the world.....) Nobody saying "She has had the phone for 17 minutes and you said we could all have the phone for 15 minutes and now she says that she was timing me and I had the phone for 25 minutes so that's what she's getting but I told her that you made the rule for a reason and that how much phone time I got isn't the point and she said for me to "get out" of her room and that's no way for a lady to talk so I unplugged the phone and now she's freaking out REASON." There's nobody telling me that she can't possibly live like this, here, with us and the intolerable way that we, everything. The phone is not ringing. The fridge is not open. There is not an inexplicable hoard of teen boys hanging around the front porch calling me "Mrs. Pearl" (Which is not my name on so many levels) trying to get all Eddie Hascal with me while Joe thinks about locking our teenaged girls in a large ventilated box in the basement for their own good and our sanity. Instead my friends, there is silence. This is because it is a high holy day in the practice of parenting. It is, in the City of Toronto, in the province of Ontario, in this country we are proud to call Canada.....

The first day of school.

You may all take a moment to silently congratulate any mother and father that you know who made it through the summer with any semblance of her sanity intact. I love my children, I even enjoy their company, but man....that summer is long and loud.

To put the icing on the cake, Megan paid me and my knitting the highest possible compliment.


Look at that. It is the first day of high school and Meg is wearing a One Skein Wonder knit by her mother. ( Knit from malabrigo "Azul Profundo", really only took one skein of this really, really soft yarn. Very fun pattern and, not that I would mention it to Meg, and I'm only mentioning it to you this one time, but this also matches my blue dress and I'm thinking it might be cute. I don't want to discuss that a woman cruising 40 just professed any feelings to do with any clothing that may be "cute" and I don't know that I really will wear it, I just thought that it was worth noting that I thought about it, and that's got to mean something.)

That Meg is wearing this is remarkable, since as I'm sure you are all aware, what you wear on the first day of high school is so important that not only do you need to stay up until practically dawn the night before, bursting into tears at intervals out of the concern that you will select the wrong outfit, but you must also face up to the shattering reality that the rest of your life, every moment, your career, your potential, your ability to upgrade a computer and make good pie....all of it hangs on wearing the right outfit on the first day of school. It's a lot of pressure....and she wore something her mother made, which must mean that it's really cool, since your mum's knitting has a high dork quotient to rise above.

Now I know what you're thinking. What will I do with this silence. How will I spend my day? (Morning's a half day, but let's not focus on that.) With this:


Yup. It came. It's my author copy of my new book. (Sorry, I still laugh when I write that. "my new book". How does this happen? Really, I mean....How? It's like I went to sleep as me and I woke up some fantastically lucky person that they mail books to. It's a freaky, freaky feeling to see my words in there and I feel as though I won the lottery.) It's publication date was the 1st of September, and theoretically, it's shipping to stores as we speak. Now begins the waiting for the fantastically bizarre moment where I spot it in the wild. I've tried to get on the bandwagon with this copy that they have sent me, but it's just not possible. It's too easy to fake one copy. We'll just wait and see if it's a real book when they follow through and mail it to a bookstore. There's no going back then.
(Then I can start worrying that everybody will think it sucks, but let's deal with one neurosis at a time.)
Note to Toronto readers: I have checked the Chapters and BookCity in Bloor West village and the big Indigo downtown. It's not there. Don't waste precious knitting time looking for me, besides, my mother has a plan.

Tomorrow, the bike trip, where we went, what I leaned and what I knit while I was there. For now, I'm off to do three things I've been dreaming of. Have a phone conversation without wrestling a teenaged girl to the ground for the privilege, drink a cup of coffee without having a conversation about lipgloss, it's colours and what exactly constitutes "prostitute lips" and take a bath where nobody talks to me through the crack in the door and asks me if I can see a hair tie.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:19 AM

September 1, 2005

Home Sweet Home

I'm home again, my lovely knitty friends...and what an adventure we've had. 400km total on our bikes (thats about 250 miles, for my American friends), two provinces, four knitting projects and a good time had by all. This is of course, assuming that you loosely define "a good time". I know a lot of people think that this is an odd family vacation to subject children to...but it is this bloggers opinion that strong women do not happen by accident, and that biking hundreds of kilometres will leave my daughters with the belief that they can do anything and that the world of possibility stretches out far in front of them. They are some of the only people in Canada (or the world) who can now say that they have ridden the whole distance (over a couple of years) from Niagara Falls to Montreal, as children. That's something. That's tough. I really believe that while they might not know it, these bike trips leave my daughters believing that they are capable of difficult, incredible things. That the next time a hard thing turns up in their lives they will turn to face it and say "Wow. That looks hard, but I'm good at hard things." I suppose it's also possible that I'm just torturing them, but when I'm out in the middle of nowhere on a bike, I really need to believe that I'm right on this one.

I'll post more about the whole thing over then next few days, but for now, a little blog business.

Many thanks to our Auntie Rams, who did a great job of Blog-sitting while I was away. I will, following this spectacular performance on her part, resume the intense pressure I have been putting on her to get her own blog. The world needs more Rams.

Unplugged from the world for the last while, I was totally unaware of the tragedy in the Gulf. My thoughts are with those effected, and I'd urge all of you to give to the organization of your choice to help these folks get through what is a terrible, terrible time for them. Though there is very little to be grateful for in a time like this, we can at least be thankful that this has happened in the richest country in the world, as well prepared to help each other as any country could be, and peopled with generous, resourceful humans who look out for each other. Susan and Margene have jointly set up an effort on their blogs to raise funds for the Red Cross, and should that not be your cup of tea, Angela has a list of charities who know how to help on her blog.

In more trivial news, nobody guessed my two "stars" right, though I did like the ideas. Those of you who thought that I would pick Canadians, those of you who thought I would pick knitters, those clever ones among you who thought I would choose knitterly named stars, like "The Spinners" or "Norma Shearer"...all clever. But all wrong. (Though I do feel sort of silly for not being more clever about it myself.)
My two stars were...



..and chosen randomly from among all the participants, is Carole! Send me your address Carole, and I'll mail the mug pronto.

I'm off to wait for the letter carrier. Today is (other than trying to wash the smell of campfires, the sweat of 400k and the grime of 2 provinces out of our clothes, which is really enough excitement all in itself.) a very big day for me. Do you think sitting on the front steps is too obvious?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:17 PM