January 30, 2006

Drywall has no healthcare plan

Jim Rohn said, "Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.", and aside from the fact that dude sounds a little bit like he was very rich, happy and likely got slapped at the occasional cocktail party for excessive perkiness and a terminal good outlook by people who just wanted him to accept that not every day is sunshine on roses...I largely agree with him. That's why I'm taking a day off from the back room reno. My happiness is a choice, and I choose to not play nasty drill games for one day so I will be happy. Plus, we made a lot of progress.
Here's the Shari's lace koigu sock (Sockbug pattern) admiring the new paint job.


In the background lurks the Ikea cabinet that has officially (and quite literally) crushed Ian and I. On Friday when we were feeling sort of full of ourselves for laying the floor.. Wait? Did I show you the floor?


Nice eh? I'm really happy with the floor, and that's the body of the second tinks sweater enjoying the cool vinyl. I'm at the divide for the back and front neck, which means that I have to work back and forth instead of around and around for the last 12 rows. I know some knitters modify the rate of slope at the neck to let them steek it...but that's not going to work for me. Babies have fat necks. I'm going to have to suck it up for 12 rows.


Sorry, the Ikea thing. So Ian and I are putting this behemoth together, and first you assemble one side and the bottom, then the instruction shows these people lifting up the unit, then putting the top on (working over their heads) then the other side. It seems like a royal pain in the arse. I mean, why wouldn't you just assemble it on the floor, then lift it up? Maybe because it's heavy? In any case, Ian and I decide that we are smarter/stronger/more advanced than the Ikea instructions, and move on with assembly.

When we are done we have an enormous square. Top, sides and bottom, no back yet. (We're going to do that when it's standing up.) Ian and I actually congratulated ourselves on being smart enough to ignore the instructions, then lifted the unit and discovered why they want you to assemble it standing.

As we lifted it, Ian at one end, me at the other, we noticed that the square had some shift. Just a little. We lifted it a little higher and in the span of about one terrible, heartstopping nanosecond - the entire unit collapsed like a parallelogram. It completely folded, slamming shut, ripping every single fastener out of the wood as it went. (You may feel free to imagine the filthy language used at this point. Don't hold back.)

Please add extra obscenities for noble decisions made by Ian and I during the nanosecond of collapse. In that instant, as the supremely heavy unit chock full of sharp corners and (now protruding screws and fasteners) careened toward our hard won NEW BACK ROOM, without thinking or without consideration...my brother (a king among men) jammed his hands between the new vinyl floor and the heavy wood, as I (similarly inspired) leapt to protect the new drywall and paint job by installing my knees between it and the wall.
Injured bodies heal and we have socialized medicine
Floors and walls have to be repaired on a budget.
Easy choice.

Later (very soon after actually) when Ian and I were drinking coffee, nursing our wounds and reflecting on the nature and ultimate wisdom of Ikea instructions (and how it had taken both of us to agree to be that stupid). Ian took a long drink of coffee, thoughtfully rubbed his injured hand and looked me dead in the eye.

"Steph?" he said, sort of quietly, "You're just going to fill that ^#*&^ing room full of wool, aren't you."

No comment. Pass the bandaids.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:46 PM

January 27, 2006

We don't need a stinking contractor

I have a sub-floor. Actually, I have a sub-sub-floor (something called Dricore, which Ian and I would both like to do a testimonial for. "We were just stymied about how to cover the concrete in the back room, then we found Dricore and our problems were over!" Being fulfilled in any small measure by a flooring system makes me feel incalculably nerdy. Luckily, before I'm writing about it on my knitting blog, which most people think is already so nerdy that I can't possibly sink any lower.) and a plywood subfloor on top of that. The problem was (again, I'll alert you to the potential here that I am writing the most boring blog post of all time. If you feel dizzy, you may be too bored. Quickly click this link to see something interesting.) the problem was that we needed a plywood sub-floor to put the final vinyl floor down on, but we couldn't attach the plywood to the concrete, not in any sort of a practical way anyway. (There was a short lived plan involving a sort of screw called a "Tapcon" which were absolutely stupidly expensive and needed a predrilled hole and wouldn't be flush and couldn't countersink and.....the whole conversation made me want to knit something. Something fussy. Something with tiny little needle and six colours of yarn and 12 charts. It would be easier than attaching plywood to concrete, I assure you. Note: If you or someone you know is a contractor and you are just cracking yourself up at your computer because you know a great $2 way to attach plywood to concrete and it's fast and cheap and really, really fun, so much fun that there are people who do it for a hobby...do not tell me. Do. Not. I'm a woman renovating an old and crooked house. The only thing level in this place is the water in the toilet and I am on the edge. Do not tell me.

In the end we found this Dricore floor that just whacks together on top of the concrete and it's a "floating" floor. You aren't supposed to attach it to anything. Can you believe that? Nothing. It just sits there on the concrete and then you nail the plywood ontop and then you have a floor. Crazy.


My brother Ian shown here attaching plywood to Dricore. This takes 300 screws. We know this because we bought 200. (Again, I have included the knitting in attempt to keep all of you from shorting out.) Today we put the real floor on top of the plywood and the Dricore, and we paint and we weep a thousand tears for things that are going to go wrong that we don't even know about yet. Oh...and I will vacuum up sawdust. Last night I found a perfect little tidy pile of sawdust on the middle cushion of the chesterfield. I have no theory for how it got there. I do not care. I only vacuum, unthinking. Uncaring. Unmoved.

TSF stuff

Today's TSF gift is this beautiful lot of yarn

Doesn't it scream Valentines Day? It's all at Kris M.'s house, and she'll be mailing it to Anwen. Congratulations!

Olympics stuff

There are more than 1800 participants listed on the Athletes page.
This is not all of them. S.Kate and I continue our entering of names, and in a desperate bid to not be overrun by the incredible outpouring of Olympic spirit, Emma has joined the ranks as "backup in charge of entering names while I lay floors." (Good title eh?)

We are getting there, please continue to be patient if you don't see your name. It's a big job. Who knew it would be like this?
Today's Olympic link: Team Wales, since according to their rules, I could be on the team.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:29 AM

January 26, 2006


My brother and I laid a new concrete floor yesterday. Ian and I work well together since we both possess the McPhee family work ethic, which I admit is a hard one. It's a peculiar mix of realistic, obsessive and determined, although I admit that to the casual passerby (or your spouse) that it might look like it was "Happily work until you can't work anymore and then drink coffee until you can work again and then feel frustrated with the other people involved for wanting to quit." (This is also the exact way that McPhees party. Just insert "party" for "work" in the sentence above and you'll have a pretty accurate picture of our families celebrations.) There are people in the world who have sworn off working with McPhees. (We call them lazy.) There are people who call us workaholics (they don't know that we take time off as passionately as we work) and there are people that understand us, do their best to keep up and stay out of the way and laugh at the whole thing. (Those ones we either hire or marry.)

Though there are many who work well with us, it remains true that the best person to work with a McPhee IS a McPhee, and Ian and I make a wicked team that really gets things done.


What we got done yesterday was a pretty rippin' concrete floor. I am going to beg your forgiveness here. I understand that looking at my new concrete floor is probably the most boring thing you have ever been asked to do on the internet. I have tried to make it more interesting than it is by putting the second tinks sweater atop it for dramatic interest. I know that it isn't working, but I'm so enchanted with the concrete floor (that's not a good sign is it?) that I have to show it to you. Isn't it great? Isn't it a nice grey? Doesn't it just fill you with joy and happiness and make you think that there is hope that the world someday will be a fully renovated place and nobody will need a hammer drill for anything unless it really, really makes them happy...and doesn't it make you feel like maybe one day when the sun is shining and it isn't a million degrees below zero, that that day there will be a sudden end to dust and insulation and what kind of hinges open in what direction and that you'll just look at your home and think "Wow. I think we're finished" and then that sort of tight feeling will start in your chest and you'll realize what it means to you that you don't have to buy primer anymore and...
No? Just me? Sorry.


This is the subfloor we'll put down today. It makes me pretty happy too. (Knitting once again provided for dramatic interest.)

Other stuff I don't know how to fit in.

1. I'm still adding names to the athletes list.

2. I forgot the specs on the green sweater from yesterday, so for those of you who asked: Pattern "Lace Leaf Sweater" from Loop d' loop, Yarn: Cascade Pastaza, colour 042.

3. I have a great new button:


I found it here. (There is "Team Merlot" and "Team Chocolate" too, but I have decided to focus on one vice right now.)

4. Gifts for TSFers!
(As always, I have emailed the winners.)


These two balls of the Opal Tiger I get all obsessive about were donated by Marie S. One is going to live with Kerrie and the other with Martha H.


Five balls of a beautiful purple boucle (From Sally G.) are going to live with Rana.

Barb B. is donating a hard copy of Stranded, plus the materials to make the "Blue Willow" socks and mitts she designed for the issue.
The random number generator says she'll be mailing it too Judith O.

Amie spun some beautiful suri


I am (really, regretfully) sending it to live with Wendy P. (I wanted to keep that one.)

5. The Amie who sent this suri is doing a really cool thing on her blog where she's looking for 2000 socks. She doesn't want you to send them, just tell her when you knit them during 2006. It's a fun idea, but I think she's really underestimating you guys. 2000 socks in a year? I laugh at 2000 socks. (Well, not me personally, you know.) Show her what you're made of.

6. I am not normally the type to mention this sort of things, but I have been advised, notified and counseled through my inbox, that this sort of thing is "a big deal" and that I should mention it here.
I still wasn't going to, and then yesterday in the comments Rams started threatening people with stash weasels, and I got sort of nervous. (You don't want to mess with a woman with that sort of imagination...you know what I mean? Stash weasels? Who thinks of Stash weasels?)

I am very flattered to be a nominee for the 2006 Bloggies in the "Best craft weblog" category.

You can vote on this page if you like (scroll down)...but remember. I will never know if you vote or not, so vote your conscience, and take a look at the other blogs in the category before you do. They are very cool and some stiff competition indeed.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:06 AM

January 25, 2006

Loose ends

Once again I'm stealing from Mamacate and her idea for Random Wednesdays (if indeed it's Wednesday. Things are a little scattered here. The best evidence would suggest that it is Wednesday, but if I'm wrong, then I'm only boosting Mamacate's idea to be random, which I sort of manage on my own most of the time...but she's the one who wrote down the idea.)

1. I finished the Leaf Lace Pullover.


This is the first sweater in a really long time that had a re-knit.
(I'm not as cranky about that as I look, I'm just freezing.) Readers will recall that the first time it was finished, it had arms too tight and shoulders...well. It didn't have shoulders. Now me, I have shoulders. I have (for a smallish woman) sort of unexpectedly square and broad shoulders, so I'm not ruling out my troubles as "problem with the wearer" rather than "problem with the pattern" or (I hate this one) "problem with the knitter".


The lack of shoulders caused the front to stretch most unattractively across the upper chest of this knitter, causing her ordinarily somewhat middle-aged but acceptably placed curves to be forced downwards, suddenly resembling half-swaddled blouse bunnies struggling to be free.


The issue of said tightness was relieved by re-knitting the sleeves using the size large instructions, changing the rate of decrease for the raglan so that it matched up, but purposefully winding up with extra stitches at the grafted shoulder. This dealt with the weird seaming issue that Alison had, and gave me another 4cm of space.

2. Tuesdays are for spinning, and the brigade responsible for keeping me working on the yarn for Joe's gansey will be happy to know that I did spin, one full bobbin and this much


of another. I'm still in love with this Corridale, and the investment I'm making in the fiber prep has a huge payoff. The more time I spend on washing and carding, the happier I am with the spinning. It's a lesson my spontaneous nature has to learn over and over and over.

3. I am going to The Madrona Fiber Arts retreat. A bunch of you asked, so there you go. I am very, very excited about this (despite the fact that it goes on during the first days of The Olympics recklessly making me an ex-pat for the opening ceremonies and sucking up sweater knitting time). I'm going to get to meet some knitters I openly worship (please, please give me the strength to keep my cool with Sally Melville and Cat Bordhi and...be still my beating heart, let me not gush stupidly over Nancy Bush.) and I'll be speaking at the Teachers Gallery (free), and hosting "Rescue Roundtables" on Saturday outside the Marketplace. (Yes. Before you ask, it is totally funny to think of me solving other peoples knitting problems. Totally. I am sure that you can guess that if you have a really sincere problem you might want to find Sally Melville or another really useful Teacher.)

4. The yarn for Hardangervidda came. I know that I didn't share with you my deep and twitchy anxiety that I wouldn't get it in time...but I am relieved.

5. I am still updating the Athletes list. Your continued patience is appreciated, if you aren't on the list yet, please don't re-send your stuff, I end up entering you twice and then make S. Kate berzerk trying to take out duplicates and figure out if we are supposed to have 22 or 23 Lisas. If S. Kate cracks there will be no-one who knows how to work the scary excel sheet and this whole thing will tank. I'll let you know when I think everybody is up there...and then you can tell me if you are missing.

6. There is lots of very, very cool stuff going on on other blogs to do with the Olympics. I started writing it all down and putting up all the buttons and....It is too much. If you have something cool, like Team Boston or buttons for teams or such, leave it in todays comments and people can come hunt you up. There's a button for just about everything now....so if you had a hankering, check back with the comments to see what you can get.

7. I'm posting one button, because I can't believe that The Mysterious K. (from Ryan's blog) made a button (she's like a mythic creature to me) and she has no blog of her own.

Also, TMK is a new spinner, and I have a soft spot for new spinners.

8. I am finishing the renovation in the back room (Have you seen the back of my house?) and this afternoon my brother and I are pouring concrete. As much as I think that having a floor in that room could be sort of cool, mixing and pouring concrete makes me cranky.

9. This is probably because it cuts into knitting time.

10. I think that's normal.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:23 PM

January 23, 2006

Two years of Yarn Harlot

Yes indeed, it's my blogiversary and I couldn't be prouder.

I started this blog 2 years ago today, and had no idea what kind of ride I was in for. I got to thinking today about the nature of blogging, of hanging even some small part of yourself out there and taking people into your life, even on the edges...about the risk of asking people to join you in your world. Whenever you post, whenever you write something, attach some pictures and hit "send" on the software, it's a risk. You're inviting comment. You're asking for opinion...and you get it. It's a decision to involve a community in your daily life (or at least the aspects you choose to share) and the risk is, that for better or worse, this is the internet and it is a public space. Anyone who wants to can tell you what they think of your life and the way that you live it. Some people say that they write their blogs for themselves, that they would write anyway, even if nobody read it.

Not me. I do it because two years ago I felt a little bit on the outside. I was the only person I knew who knit for their soul, the only person I knew who took bottomless joy out of wool and yarn and needles and making something out of it. I was the only person I knew who found that knitting simply made them happy, more patient, more engaged, more interested, and that for better or worse (for crazy or sane) knitting was not just a hobby, but an element of my personality. Now, 2 years later...I really, really don't feel alone.

I do this so I can know you guys. So I can be part of a community that doesn't have countries or borders or ...all of the stuff that holds us back from just getting to know other knitters. I read and love every comment ever left here, I've been privileged and lucky to meet many of you, and not a day goes by that I don't give the fact that blogging changed my life for the better a little think and a grateful nod.

Tricoteuses Sans Frontiers/Knitters Without Borders is, without a doubt the best thing to ever come of this blog. Ever. Check the total in the sidebar. See it? More than $100 000 to provide medical care to people living with challenges and assaults to human decency that most of us can't imagine. MSF serves those no one else will, and this year it was easier for them because of knitters. (I'm telling you, people seriously underestimate knitters. We are a force to be reckoned with.)

I spent the weekend not just entering olympic knitters, (I'm getting there. Your continued patience is appreciated) but entering the remaining TSF/KWB donations and every person who made a donation is now on the list.

Therefore, without further ado, (and with a great deal of separation anxiety)...I'm giving away the mittens to one of the 903 knitters on that list.


These beauties, knit by me (and not without difficulty, let me tell you) are going to live with....
(drumroll here........name selected by random number generator)


Congratulations Stacey. Wear them in good health and with my best wishes.

For the rest of the week I'll be giving out more gifts, celebrating all knitters and good things wrought by the blogosphere, and because Knitters Without Borders continues to be the best idea I ever had (and because I clearly enjoy the ticket to crazytown)


I'm knitting more mittens to give away.
Thanks for every moment of the last year. I am grateful to you all.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:15 AM

January 20, 2006


Adding new knitters continues apace, your continued patience is appreciated. (Which is really a polite was of saying HOLY CRAP there are a lot of you!) My inbox is full to bursting, and each event in my life is now punctuated by entering another hundred Knitters to the list. Make coffee, add knitters. Drink coffee, add knitters. Make lunches, add knitters. Do real job, add knitters.
I'd be finished if I didn't have a real life, or if I didn't insist on sharing the entering time with knitting.

To that end, I have downgraded the level of difficulty of my current knitting to free up brain cells for adding knitters. The Tinks sweaters are sitting a day or two out, since I think rule # 2 of steeking should be that you give hacking up your knitting your full attention.
(Rule #1 is : measure several times before you cut) So I've whipped out two pairs of socks. I keep socks on the go all the time, and I don't even consider them current projects (unless there is a deadline or they are very fancy) since I don't work on them in any kind of dedicated way. I keep one by my computer:


a plain pair (this one is Regia Brasil Colour #5478) that I work a row on while I'm waiting for a page to load, a disk to write...or even while I'm thinking or on the phone. Whole socks get done this way, a few stitches or rows at a time.

I keep another pair on the go at the same time,


a pair a little fancier than the plain ones. These are "Shari's lace" (a free pattern from Sockbug, who has several really, really nice ones, as well as some really helpful stuff about sock knitting in general.)

The yarn in the above is Koigu (colour long forgotton- tags lost) which, while I am as big a fan of as anybody....is actually completely wasted for this pretty pattern. The colours compete with the pattern so that the lace is as completely obscured as white sheep in a snowstorm.

You can see it a little bit better here:


but when (not if) I do this pattern again, I'll use a plain yarn. I've got no interest in knitting lace that you can only see when I am in complex yoga poses displaying them at their best angle. I keep these socks in my bag and work on them when I have time to knit...but not enough time to drag out a big project or a chart. On the subway, waiting in line...coffee with a friend. A simple pattern with enough pizzazz to hold my (really fragile) attention span is perfect.

Olympic updates:

1. All hail Jen and La, who have a collection of super funky buttons for US knitters to use. I've included one for your perusal, but they have a whole bunch...lace team, cable team. I'm cracking up over here.


2. All hail Kelly..distributor of the Team Canada button.


3. All continue to hail S. kate, who continues to make the list of athletes possible without me weeping all day long. She's figured out some kind of mojo with an excel spreadsheet and bandies about terms like "export word file" and does things like search for duplicates, make corrections simple and alphabetize the athletes, which is a totally cool way to make it easier on me and more fun for you. I am completely in love with her right now.

It surprises me actually. S.Kate is sitting over there using the same sort of computer I am, making movements with her hands and managing information, just like I am...and yet her computer seems to do so much more than mine. Have you even noticed that with some people? Joe and Ken are like that. Their computers are performing very complex and helpful things, and aside from a handy conversion program I have (we call it "talking to Americans" and it lets me know what the temperature is in Boston or how much 11 inches is...) My computer seems to largely be a glorified and expensive word processor which torments me with it's reluctance to DO things...while other computers seem to be genuinely useful tools. Exporting spreadsheets? Who knew?

Posted by Stephanie at 2:54 PM

January 19, 2006

Knitter Down!

Wow. As I typed that I had the oddest feeling that I'll be writing it lot over the Olympic period.

This is overwhelming. Completely overwhelming. Half of the knitters are now on the Athletes page, and the remaining ones will be added...as fast as I can. When I have it all up (with the help of the remarkable S.Kate, comment princess and database genius) I'll have you guys look it over and tell me about errors. Until then, hold your water...I'm working on it.

I was doing OK too. Tuesday I felt hopeful. I was coding the emails and comments as they were coming (well...I was behind, but I felt good about my chances...) even though every time I clicked "get mail" I realized that I had really, really seriously underestimated the knitterly urge to be an Olympic Athlete. About 4:00 I quit for a little bit for a visit to the doctor about a sore spot on my leg, and after a thirty second visit with him...


I was in the ER. (Doesn't the knitting look sort of nervous?)

Turns out they felt I was experiencing a DVT (a very scary way of saying a blood clot) and I was appropriately frightened. Seven hours later (non HTML coding hours, I swear I could feel my inbox filling) I was given a shot (in my stomach...how inhumane) of "low-molecular weight heparin", and sent home, with strict instructions to lie low (I suck at that) keep my leg up (you can't spin with your leg up. I tried.) and return the next day for an ultrasound.
I laughed when the Dr. said that because they thought I had a DVT I should return to the hospital if I had "shortness of breath or the symptoms of a stroke". Dude. With or without a DVT wouldn't you go anyway?

I did go back the next day and the bizarre hour long ultrasound revealed that while I am far from perfect, my leg veins (at least the ones on the right) are the picture of perfection. (It's good to know that part of you is perfect.) Best part? Maybe it was the Heparin, maybe it was the rest, but my leg feels great. (My stomach, where I got the shot, feels like I was hit by a car...but you can't be picky.)

For the record. This:


is exactly how much of a Dale of Norway baby sweater you can knit during that time in the hospital. We're all set if it's ever a question on Jeopardy. The upshot is that all the time at the hospital was time that I didn't handle adding names to the Athletes list...so bear with me. If you're not on the list, I'll get there. Losing 24 hours was easy, making it up? My first Olympic challenge. I can do it. (I've already given up cleaning the bathroom. See that? The sacrifices I make?)

Word on the street is that some knitters are calling into question the sanity of the Olympic knitters.

It's 16 days of dedication to a sport hobby we all love.
Knitting Olympians (unlike real Olympians, who don't get to decide how high the ski jump should be) set their own goals. It's only as crazy as you make it, and a little self-directed inspiration can change your idea of what you are capable of.

I've been really proud to see people interpreting the challenge within the context of their own lives and searching for their own personal best. Knitters deciding to learn lace, knitters trying to finish something, knitters attempting one sock because they know that they have other obligations. Lene, a very good friend of mine who had to give up knitting because of the challenges of Rheumatoid Arthritis is taking part in the Knitters Olympics. She's going to knit one stitch a day. One stitch. It's her personal best, it's her best effort...and she's an Olympian. At the risk of encouraging more people to sign up (thus leading to more HTML...) I find this inspiring.

You other Olympians? Do your best. Aim high. Push yourself within your limits. Set an attainable (but challenging) goal and be all that you can be. (Wait, that's the US army isn't it?)
For people who aren't interested knitting as a sport, get your cheer on. The Olympics are nothing without the roar of the crowd. We're going to need you sometime around day 12. Bring chocolate and encouragement.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:13 AM

January 17, 2006

Isn't it a little warm in here?

I'm feeling some heat. It has occurred to me, as I sit here a staring at the finished body and sleeves of the first Tinks sweater, that steeks make me nervous. I know that they won't unravel. I do. I have tons of faith in the whole process (although steeking in superwash makes me extra nervous. Regular yarn has that "stickiness" that helps the whole thing hold together. Superwash does not.)


It's the scissors. It's hacking up a handknit. Despite the simple genius of it, (Don't knit armholes, just cut them in later!) it always takes me a little bit to work up the nerve to put the scissors to the sweater. When I first heard about steeking, I thought it was a really nasty practical joke. An incredibly complex international prank involving millions of Norwegians, Europeans and their associates all dedicated to tricking people into cutting up sweaters so that they could laugh and laugh and laugh while we all sobbed helplessly into our lacerated and ragged masterpieces. Since then I have steeked, I do like it, and it does work. There's just always that period of pause where I can't quite raise the scissors....as my imagination runs horrible "what if" scenarios. (These are vivid and gory. It's another reason why I choose Hardangervidda for the Olympics. I'll have to steek without angsting.)
In the meantime...

Tuesdays are for spinning, and with Christmas over, the tree gone and the wheel back in it's place, I've got no excuse but to return to my opus ...Joe's Gansey.


I have spun about half of the three ply I'll need for this, and the beautiful pile of bumps above, washed and drum carded will likely yield another skein...a drop in the bucket, but progress I suppose. This project is moving slowly. (I'll save Rams the time of commenting on that...Yes Rams. I know it would go more quickly if I worked on it.) I like to see movement, and this one seems never-ending. I'm so anxious to be done with the spinning and get on to the knitting that I keep trying to figure out how to make the sweater smaller so that I need less yarn. (Joe has thus far resisted the idea of 3/4 length sleeves.)

Olympic Regulations.

Elizabeth D. asks "But -- aren't we supposed to have four years of training before we enter these events?"

No. Next question?

Carol asks "How dare you challenge me to a feat of this magnitude? Do you know what you are doing to me?

I have a pretty good idea what I'm doing to you, but you're the lady who picked entrelac. Truthfully Carol, I thought less of you guys were going to go for it. It turns out that when the men with the huggy coats cart me off, I'll have lots and lots of friends to play with.

B. Asks "Will there be drug testing?"

No. Although you should be careful to make sure you are consuming enough drugs. (Namely chocolate, red wine and coffee and toward the end...hard liquor.) As for the stronger stuff, I figure that if you can knit a challenge while using any other drugs, good luck to you. It's like that Canadian Snowboarder who won gold while he was high as a kite. Most peoples major feat after going the way of the BC Skunkweed is to successfully locate a bag of cookies. The way I see it, if you can do that while you are stoned, you should get two gold medals. I wouldn't be able to find the snow.

Kat with a K asks "if I remember correctly, the flame is not actually lit until partway through the opening ceremonies (?). Does this mean that we need to knit something else while watching the beginning part of the TV coverage and then switch when they lit the flame? Or can we cast on when the opening ceremonies start?

Here's the executive decision. The Opening Ceremonies start at 8pm Torino time. Torino is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, which would mean starting at 2pm in the afternoon.
How about we agree on 2pm February 10th, no matter where you are? (Does that help those of you without a tv?)

From Katie, who's going to do a shawl "Does it have to be blocked by the time the flame goes out?"

Yes. Does a marathon runner need to cross the finish line? I suggest steam. Less drying time than full immersion.

Many of you asked if Wendy was banned from the games.

Of course not. I went to her site and did some math though. Looks like she knit one of those fabulous bohus sweaters in 3 weeks. I thought two things.
1. Has anyone screened her for steroids?
2. It gives me the heebie jeebies to wonder what she would need to do to challenge herself. Really.

Several of you asked if you had to do a sweater, or if you could do more than one thing.

You can do anything that is a knitting project as long as it represents a personal challenge for you. If that's 20 hats...go ahead. The idea is to set a difficult and inspiring goal.

Finally, The list of Knitting Olympic Athletes can be found here:

The Knitting Olympics Page.

I know I said that I would list you all in the sidebar, but when you see how many there are of you, I think you will understand why it's got it's own page now. (Not everybody is up there yet, and not all of the code on the bottom of the page works. Html vexes me. I'm working on it. Give me a day or two before you register complaints. It's a lot of work.) That's probably the page you should link to if you took a button too.
There is now a link to the whole Knitting Olympic shebang on the sidebar, should you wish to (and I hope you will) check in on the athletes.

I'm off now. I've got a full day of work, a whole lot of spinning and a sweater to hack up.

(PS - for those of you who wanted to know about the wee blue gansey sweater from the other day It's Design "E" from Sirdar Book 241)

Posted by Stephanie at 10:02 AM

January 14, 2006

Citius, Altius, Fortius

That's the latin motto for the Olympics and translates to "Faster, Higher, Stronger". I am very interested in the Olympics, and being a Canadian, obsessed with the Winter Olympics. I can't really explain why, since I'm not the sporty type. I am was a really fast runner, and when I was in school I held the record for the 400m sprint (until my own sister broke it 5 years later), but that's really my entire experience with competitive sport. I don't ski (I have a high self preservation instinct that won't let me strap sticks on my feet and throw myself down a hill). I toboggan, but draw the line at speeds exceeding 120km/hr. (Do you have any idea what kind of nasty bonk you could get?) I can skate, but not backwards, and maybe...maybe all of my own incompetence is the reason that I find the Winter Olympics so gripping. Men and women, rising above, meeting a challenge, striving to be the best they can be. It's inspiring.

Then I got to thinking that knitting is really my sport. I got to thinking that maybe I would knit Torino. (The Dale of Norway Olympic sweater for these games. For anybody new to these sweaters, the Dale of Norway team designs a sweater for the ski team for each of the Winter Olympics.) Then I thought maybe I would just knit a Dale Olympic sweater...Then I got an idea. (I know, I know. Everybody gets scared when I get ideas.) It came to me.

The 2006 Knitting Olympics

Eligibility: Any knitter who, embracing the "Citius, Alitius Fortius" ideal, would like to challenge themselves while embracing the Olympic spirit, and is just whacked enough to play along with me.

Concept: You must cast on a project during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics (Feb 10)- and finish before the Olympic flame goes out (Feb 26). That's 16 days.

1. The project must be a challenge for you to complete in 16 days.
2. There are no rules about what a challenge would be. Like the real Olympics, there are many areas to compete in. If you are a new knitter, then a garter stitch baby sweater might do...If you are experienced, well. I've already considered Torino. Use your own conscience.
3. While this is intended to be somewhat difficult (like the Olympics) it is not intended to ruin your life. Don't set yourself up for failure. (Olympic athletes may cry, but they do not whine pitifully, sob and threaten members of their family with pointed sticks because they haven't slept in five days. ) This is intended to (like the Olympics) require some measure of sacrifice, and be difficult, but it should be possible to attain.
4. No casting on before the flame is lit.
5. Finish before the flame goes out.
6. You may swatch before the games. (I consider this "training.")

The Knitting Olympics has only a gold medal. (There is only do- or do not.) Finishers get a gold medal button for their blog, their name entered into a draw for a chance at a prize from me, and the joy of knowing that they are an Olympic level knitter, no matter how experienced they are. You are only competing against yourself. (Well. And the Olympic schedule.)

Who's in?
If you're just crazy enough itching to be part of the Knitting Winter Olympics, leave a comment (or send an email) telling me who you are, what you're knitting and a link, if you have one. I'll list you in the sidebar. Consider carefully. Done right, this will suck up 16 days of your life and be an epic work.


(Crappy button made by yours truly. Really good button for finishers will be made by Franklin. Feel free to swipe and save to your own server.)

What am I knitting?
Hardangervidda. (I fully admit to choosing this because "Danger" is in the name.) How's that for a challenge? I figure that if I'm going to propose that you all take this on, that I set a fine example of being so completely out of my mind it's almost scary embracing the ideal.

16 days, many knitters, one dream. The Knitting Olympics.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:56 PM

January 13, 2006

Raving incompetent

So I survived, and I woke up this morning (largely cat free sleep, due to the many helpful suggestions, thank you!) and was surprised at the change that a nice sleep, sympathetic friends and a walk in the park can make. I was so happy with my day that when I got an email from Lisa A. ever so gently and kindly pointing out that she had noticed a wee little error in my photo of the Tinks sweater from yesterday....


that I actually felt genuine gratefulness to her for pointing it out. (Good reason to blog #45) Sharp eye on that girl. I was taking a picture of the mistake to show to you all, when I noticed something that Lisa had not...


Damn. (Should I be concerned that I apparently can't spot knitting errors with my own eyes, but only when they are photographed for the blog?) Crap. I thought, I'll have to fix that. I was doubly grateful to Lisa. I spread the work out to photograph it again, took the image into photoshop to resize it and....oh dear.


This made me a little woozy, but darn it, I'm pretty good at fixing mistakes (what with making so many), so while I was practically ready to run away to Belize I was prepared to fix them. I turned the work over to photograph the steek....


H. E. Double hockey sticks. I am a twit.
Nevermind, nevermind. Just fix it and move on.


I laddered the stitches on the offending row down...


corrected the error, and laddered it back up. Good for me. I repeated this process until I was error free (an entire evening with no perceptible progress.) Then, now that I was out of my mind happy with my work, I poured myself a celebratory glass of wine...and retired. (I'm not completely stupid. Wine AFTER repairs.)

I congratulated myself again this morning, fondled the sweater and felt really good about being the sort of knitter who would really invest in a project like that, spread it out for a picture, imported the picture to photoshop....


and saw this.


There are no words. Pass the crochet hook...and the wine.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:08 PM

January 12, 2006

A stomp in the park

I am a little angry. I came to this realization this morning as I shut the front door behind me (very firmly) and stomped (or maybe trudged viciously...it can be hard to tell the difference) down the street on a self imposed walk to High Park to burn off some fury.
I didn't stop muttering (things like "furthermore" and "another thing" under my breath until I had speed walked 20 minutes. )
I was too angry to knit, and that's saying something, especially since I'm back at the Tinks sweaters...and if itty bitty fair isle can't get your mind off your whimsical temper, what can?


When I calmed myself down a bit, I made a list. I am a big fan of lists and find them clarifying and emotionally gratifying. There's something about the numbering and naming of your problems that both makes them real enough to deal with, and simultaneously reassures you that they don't number in the thousands.

(We can discuss another time the absolutely tragic fact that I'm making all the same complaints my mother did, which speaks to a poignant lack of progress.)

List of reasons I was mad enough to spit. (but didn't. That's gross.)

Laundry, my relationship to it, and the absolutely unending, perennial nature of same. (Also, the way no matter what you have washed, you have not washed the right things. Eg: I have washed every single pair of pants, but there are inexplicably, no towels.)

Housework. See above complaint and factor in the apparent learning disability everyone in the house seems to have when I use the phrase "We all mess it up, we all clean it up." You should see their eyes glaze over. They might do what I ask then, but their teenaged brains seem to be completely unable to take that message to the next level and do it again the next time they see some dirt without the application of speech 3b. ("This is not a hotel and I do not work here. I live here. Like you do, only with less help.")

The injustice of the world at large. I realize there is precious little people can do about this in the immediate future (like the next 14 seconds) but I am pissed none the less.

Cats. Specifically mine, and the way that she has taken to sleeping on my head. Sadly, I have not taken to her sleeping on my head, and each and every night has turned into a repeated and monotonous cycle of me taking her off my head, me falling asleep, her getting on my head, me waking up and taking her off my head.
Repeat until you threaten to smack your insensitive lout of a husband for daring to find a shred of humour in your sleepless plight and ability to string together filthy expletives related to aforementioned *&^%$!!!! cat.


Cat seen here looking innocent. She is not. (Suggestions for ending this problem before I die from sleep deprivation gleefully accepted. I love my cat, but I am not interested in taking her crap as long as I pay for her kibble.)

Work. This is really the big one. For various reasons, Children, holidays, husbands, houseguests, family, school boards and so forth....I have not had a single day of uninterrupted work in 21 days.
What would happen if you didn't go to work for 21 days? Can you imagine? My inbox is overwhelmed, things unwritten, phone calls unreturned....a plethora of problems screech into my lap every day and I am helpless to correct them because there are PEOPLE IN MY OFFICE. People with goals that are different from mine. People who want their blue pants, to have help with a problem of their own, want a meal, want a conversation, want to sleep on my head or talk while I write. People who will actually stack orange peels on the living room coffee table and then stand there and have a screeching argument about who it was who left them there and who should pick them up. (Hint: If, even while you are screaming about the injustice of the world, even if you claim that your sisters are treated better than you, if you swear that you have never, ever even touched a single orange in this house....Even if you have made all of those points? I am still going to think you should pick up the orange peels if your breath of fury reeks of guilty Citrus.)

21 days. That's why, when one of the girls told me this morning that they were too ill to go to school (again) I went for a long walk...and realized this:

I would like to formally and publicly apologize to my mother for not fully grasping the injustice of her life during my growing up years, and take back all of the stuff I muttered about her sanity all those times she was out for a walk. Sorry Mum.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:25 PM

January 10, 2006

Pass the confetti

I'm almost afraid to say it, lest I be punished for being encouraged,
but things are looking up.


Buttons are found.


I'm completely charmed by this wee sweater. I'm also pretty impressed with how much good buttons can make a piece. (The stars also have the advantage of being a little "grippy" to keep the buttons from sliding back through my slightly shoddy buttonholes.) With ordinary buttons this sweater would be cute, but with the little stars it impresses me.

The Whisper scarf is done. The magic of blocking is never going to get old. I can tell.





After..oh, after.




I love this. There were some questions in the comments yesterday about the Cherry Tree Hill Suri Lace. Some knitters had found that the colour was somewhat fugitive, bleeding into the blocking water and onto needles and such. I had my suspicions about it, since when I was winding the yarn I noticed a blue dye stain on my fingers, but there was no dye transfer during the knitting, and the water was completely clear during blocking. (I even used warm water to encourage any unfixed dye to bleed.) Nothing. This yarn seems completely fast to me and I'd use it again. I don't know that I'd use it for a really big project, since it costs the earth and it's still against the law to sell one of your kids for yarn money, but for small projects...you can sign me up. I did one extra repeat on the scarf and still had tons left over, easily enough to make it even longer than it is. (It's 49 X 14 inches.) I even got over my issues with variegated lace, since I think that this yarn is so subtle it doesn't obscure the lace work. Overall, I'm thrilled, and floating it around the house like fragile wings is a darned good time.
Can I have the parade now?

Posted by Stephanie at 12:07 PM

January 9, 2006

What kind of parade is that?

I was figuring that today I would impress you with any number of finished things. It was going to be a virtual parade of wonderful item after item...lovely thing upon thing, beautiful finished knitting flowing freely through the blog. Clearly, I forgot who I am.

I was going to show you a finished baby sweater:


but I lost the buttons I was supposed to sew on.

I was going to show you a finished scarf:


but there's a mistake and I have to rip it back. See it? No, of course you don't. That's what happened to me. You can't spot the misplaced stitches while lace is shriveled like that. It's infuriating.
(Before you all ask again, it's whisper scarf #1, in Cherry tree hill Suri lace, in colourway "Green mountain madness". ) This pattern is not difficult, though there is no going nighty-night while you do it. Each row needs your attention. I made the mistake of attempting to watch "The Cave" while I was knitting it. (The first mistake was picking that movie. Not so much with the intrigue, that one.) Looking up to see who was getting eaten by what (in a predictable way, naturally) has left me with a misplaced series of yarn overs and a desire to gnaw this Orenburg style lacework into little ramen bits with my pointy teeth. On the upside... you can see in that picture that the spinning wheel is back in it's spot. Tree out, wheel in. Peace restored.

The worst though, the biggest hit was finishing this:

Teva Durhams leaf lace sweater. A good, easy, quick knit.
No problem, as long as you have a pretty good idea about the size you are.


Which I do not. Apparently I have shoulders where this sweater does not.
Let's try the parade again tomorrow, Shall we?

Finally, a nice thing. Apparently (I have got to get around the blogs a little more when the kids are home.) I have won in "The Knibbies" hosted by Queerjoe.
Many thanks to those who nominated and voted for me. Very flattering. Best New blog went to See Eunny Knit (which is a very good new blog), and best tech blog (how disturbing, considering the above entry, would it have been if I won that one?) went to the incomparable Jaywalking Queen Grumperina. She deserves it just for that. I'm probably the only blogger who hasn't Jaywalked. I'm starting to feel it.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:33 PM

January 6, 2006

This is your brain on Cat Bordhi

A while back, my Mother-in-law ran into Cat Bordhi while she was at Mecca Baadeck Yarns. Cat was very, very charming to Carol, took time off from the retreat she was teaching and gave Carol a signed book to bring home to me and all in all seemed like a very nice, normal person. Carol's experience isn't the only one either. I've met a whole bunch of people that have met or spoken to Cat Bordhi, and not one of them was lead to believe that the woman was a danger to herself or others, and no one has suggested that she is the adult child of an alien experiment, no one used the phrase "one skein short of a sweater" and nobody even vaguely suggested that we should form a petition to take her pointy sticks from her.

That's why, having started Cat's thrummed mobius Wednesday night, I am surprised to discover that Cat is absolutely out of her ever-loving mind. Brilliant, clever, genius likely....but make no mistake. That woman does not think like an ordinary person. I think she melted a small part of my brain with her pattern. Check this.


This is how you cast on...(well, this is sort of how you cast on, I mean, I'm not going to show you the whole thing because that would be really mean to Cat. Buy her books or the pattern if you want details.) you aren't getting the full effect here without the sound of me whining about "not getting it", the stunned look on my face as I tried to figure it out, and the garrulous cackle of glee when I finally got it and danced about the yarn shop.

No sooner did I have that figured out than I was stumped again trying to figure out how to knit the first round. Denny helped me
(she's knit two of these)


Note the triumphant "I'm smarter than you today" look on Denny's face. I persevered (my apologies to all at Lettuce Knit for the unladylike language that was necessary to accomplish that first round) and got this.


Dude. That's messed up. That's like that time in University when the guy didn't tell me what was in the orange juice. That's like some kind of psychedelic sixties freak out knitting. That's....that's...
I'm getting a grip. I followed the pattern for a while (up to the point where I need to start increasing and decreasing and I got that feeling that part of my brain was liquifying again) and I got this.


This is so wild and crazy that I can scarcely breathe. If looking at this doesn't give you a little hiccough of knitterly butterflies and a sense of the expanding wild universe, then maybe you need me to diagram it. (If you already feel dizzy, then you totally get it and should skip this next part.)

The red line traces the path of the needle and the yellow dot marks the tail...the place where I began.

I tell you this. I don't know a thing about Cat Bordhi's personal life. Not one thing, but I promise you this. She has time to think. She probably gets to take baths without interruption and in all likelyhood, lives in seclusion with nothing but mountains of wool and nests of circular needles around her. Cat Bordhi should be working for the UN, securing world peace and figuring out renewable energy sources and why we have three kinds of screwdrivers.
Cat Bordhi is a smart cookie.

Should you decide to knit this, (and I think you should, if only for the utter delight and breathtaking depth of personal triumph when you figure it out.) I offer the following tips.

1. Go to your happy place. I recommend a yarn shop where you can be surrounded by other knitters who will support you and share your crushing defeats and eventual thrilling success. If you have no such yarn shop, then my second choice would be for you to lock yourself in the bathroom with a couple of candles and a towel stuffed under the door to reduce distractions.

2. Don't think too much. It doesn't help. Become one with the knitting and simply do as you are told. Don't try to understand what's going on, just let it flow over you. Become one with the knitting.

3. Get a drink. Maybe three. Anything that will let you let go and stop trying to grasp the process. Vague drunkenness will help you trust that all will become clear with the fullness of time.

It's been a long time since something kicked my arse and challenged the part of my knitting brain that thinks it knows it all.
All hail Cat Bordhi, genius knitter and alien queen. Pass the screech. I'm going to go knit Orenburg lace to give my brain a rest.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:10 PM

January 4, 2006

Pine fresh

All Christmas long I've been trying to figure out why it is that I can't seem to keep our tree stand full of water. Last night, as I sat knitting lace by the tree


(I know it looks bad. It's lace. It will look better later.)
I heard a funny noise. A lapping noise. I peered under the tree and the mystery was solved.

The cat is drinking the tree water.

She has fresher, nicer water in her bowl and yet, she is drinking the tree water. It's really time to take this thing down. I'll be checking the cat's breath later.

I'm so finished over here. The ladies are having endless fights over the bathroom and the phone. Who needs it, who's got it, who had it last, who's life is being ruined because they haven't got it, who has to have it before something happens that will make them friendless and outcast. These arguments are interspersed with Joe walking around talking about how "something needs to be done" and how he should be able to use the phone/bathroom sometime soon and how maybe we should move. (I don't know if he's thinking that just he and I should move, or if he means we should all move together. I'm afraid to ask.

I'm going to sit under the dining room table with a bottle of wine for comfort and a tablecloth for camouflage and finish a sweater. (Don't tell me you haven't thought of that.) Five sleeps until school starts again.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:16 PM

January 3, 2006

Service disruption

I'm completely at the end of it. There was an explosion on our social calendar this year (I assure you, that would be Joe, not me. If these were my parties there would be more knitters.) I've eaten so much cheese (you can't have a party without a cheese tray.) that it makes me a little queasy if you say "brie" within my hearing range.
I'm done. I'm ready to sit in my house with Mr. Washie (how I've missed him) get the gingerbread icing off the underside of the kitchen cupboards (young person with a piping bag and too much enthusiasm.) drink the coffee Lu sent me (thanks Lu!) and throw myself onto the chesterfield with some knitting and pretend I am alone in the universe so that I stop answering questions with tears. So far, since the girls are off school until the 10th (sorry...did anybody else feel dizzy there?) I'm having a hard time getting that restorative alone time. I'm thinking about putting this sign on my forehead:

Your mother needs a break. We estimate that this service disruption will take only 2-3 hours. Before you interrupt your mothers attempt to restore her sanity and will to interact, please ask yourself the questions below.

1. Are you about to make a request that your mother has said No to nine hundred times before? If so, you may assume that the answer is still no and be on your way.

2. Have you asked another parent and been told no? If so, please assume this parents answer will be the same.

3. Are you bleeding or on fire? Is your sister? If you cannot produce a flaming/bleeding self or sibling, please go play Cranium until Mummy speaks to you.

4. Are you here not to ask a question, but to report an offense by another child, parent or pet? This is not urgent. I am absolutely certain that your sister will still be bugging you, Joe will be misunderstanding you, and that your lip gloss will still be the wrong shade of pink in two hours. Please wait.

Thank you for your concern. This service disruption should be brief.

I have bribed the girls by finishing their Christmas stuff (which means that it is all fininished a record nine days after the date)
Meg's mitts and hat....


Done. (Fleece Artist Favourite mittens kit, my own pattern.)

Sam's hat and scarf


Random stuff from the stash, including Colinette skye that Margaret R. gave to me ages ago, Patons classic merino and Galway. The scarf was 240 stitches knit side to side, leaving ends hanging for fringe. (I'll have to get a picture on Sam)

The shawl is finished too...


but you'll have to wait for a picture of the whole thing. I don't want to spoil the surprise for the recipient. I'll post the pattern then too. (I cannot wait to get that huge tree out of my living room. It's in my wheel's spot. I can't wait to get to the wheel. Wait until you see what That Laurie sent me. I love her.)

For now, I've dug this out of the stash,


and I'm getting a pattern, a cup of coffee, printing the sign out and embarking on the first project of 2006. Service should resume shortly. Keep your expectations low.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:45 PM