February 28, 2006

The Podium

I think I've mentioned before that some of the most remarkable things that have ever happened to me have been proceeded by the phrase "You know what would be fun?" (This is how I got children, wrote books, started a blog and learned that I am not someone who is intended to ever, ever have liquor that comes in tiny glasses.) and the Knitting Olympics is no different. (Does anyone but me remember that I was going to list the names of the participants in the sidebar? My bad.)

Never in my wildest imagination (and for the record, my imagination is pretty wild) did I imagine thousands upon thousands of knitters sending me an email, thousands leaving comments, thousands latched on to the simple idea of striving to meet a personal challenge. I never imagined that the media would catch on to it, that knitters all over the world would be interviewed, that there would be spots on virtually all major networks, that it would be mentioned on the news, that there would be articles in so many magazines and newspapers, or that Denny would go on the National. (Ok. Denny on the National was probably predictable. She's a remarkable woman.)

In short, I didn't see it coming, and I'd like to thank my backup team who totally bailed me out of a situation in which I was seriously overwhelmed.

I'd like to thank Kat, for being the official librarian of the Knitting Olympics. If you haven't been to Kat's page and read all of the teams and seen all of the links, you are seriously missing out. Go now and get a sense of scale about it. We'll wait. Kat's a clever, clever woman, and I'm not just saying that because it's in alphabetical order.

I'd like to thank S.Kate (sadly...blogless) for rescuing me when there were more than 4000 emails in my inbox and I was coding all of the html by hand. I still don't know how that excel spreadsheet works, but man...do I like it. S.Kate's hours of work are appreciated.

Emma goes on the list too....she spent hours and hours and hours handling all of the emails that were too much for Kate and I, and she entered so many of the names that I will never be able to make it up to her. (Yes Emma. I know a pair of socks would be a start.)

Ken. Dude. Ken totally rocked the technology, completely preventing my brain from running out of my ears when moveable type freaked out because I was trying to post the equivalent of a hundred page blog post of names and links. I still don't know what a FTP thingie is, but I'm so grateful that Ken does. Thanks for keeping the whole thing online.

Please show your the Knitting Olympics IOC a little love. They made my crazy idea work. This would never have worked without them.

Without further ado...

I know why you're all here. Ladies and gentleman, the gold medal of the 2006 Knitting Olympics.



Gold medal finishers may step up and take their medal.
The beautiful medal was provided for us by Franklin, genius, nice man and good knitter. (Thanks buddy. It's awesome.)

(I hate that I have to say this, but there are thousands of you. Please don't hotlink, save the medals to your own server.)

The big one is for printing and stapling all over the kitchen walls, or you can glue it to cardboard, add a ribbon and wear it to the grocery store. The smaller version is for your blog. Go nuts.

Prizes and a list

To get your name entered on a list for prizes (and this is for everyone who took part. Even if you didn't finish, even if you never had your name entered on the list - everyone's a winner in Harlotville) and to get a certificate of participation you can print out..
(Laurie J. made it. It has very cool i-cord rings. Thank you!) send an email to


this is an address set to auto-respond, so no live human will read your email. (Sorry) but every olympian (finisher or not) who sends an email will be placed in the draw for the donated prizes. If you are part of a team, please send an individual email for each member of your team. I'll be drawing the prizes on Friday, so get your name in before then.

There were so many incredible moments in this olympiad.

Linda had arranged to borrow a sewing machine on Saturday to do her first steeks. When the friend cancelled, Linda did the only thing she could do. She bought one.

Monica wrote "This is my first time spinning cashmere, the 5th thing I've spun on the wheel, my first intention dyeing (where I'm trying to get particular results), first time dyeing handspun, and second time knitting with it." Her work is incredible.

Visa Lisa knit the biggest birch I've ever seen. (Seriously. Look at that. It's like a beautiful, enormous sail.)

Lene finished, and learned something.

Erin suffered olympic tragedy, the deeply feared equipment failure of running out of yarn. (That hurts. It really hurts.)

For those of you who finished, congratulations. You are the olympic elite. The brave, the few...the stark raving mad. I'm proud of you. There is strengthening magic in personal victories.

For those of you who finished very quickly...let this be a lesson to you. You are more remarkable than you think you are. Aim high.

Finally, for my chosen knitters, those who did not finish...
My deepest thanks and greatest satisfaction in the knitting olympics comes from you. Without trying there is no improvement or learning, without difficulty there is no striving. It was the sheer volume of knitters that gave this the incredible momentum, velocity and significance it has had for all knitters (and quite a few non-knitters who really were stunned.) More than anything else this ended up being about an international community of knitters...and there are no losers at the Olympics. Even if you dropped the pattern in a puddle the first day...even if you grossly overestimated your available time, or if you got to rock a baby instead of knit...you still made the Olympics memorable. It takes a village to freak out non-knitters...and there is strength in numbers.

Thanks for everything, you guys really know how to throw a party.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:02 AM

February 27, 2006

The glory and the pain

In the grand spirit of "it ain't over 'til it's over"....I came as close to not making it as is truly possible. (This will be a short post, since I feel like those speed skaters who collapse on the ice right after the skate. I'm spending today doing the knitters version of lying on the ice sucking air. Admittedly, this looks more like drinking coffee and slowly knitting a sock, but you know what I mean.)

I stayed up knitting until 4am Saturday, sewing steeks in the dead of night hopped up on so much coffee that I could hear dust falling. I made an executive decision that nobody is qualified to hack up a Norwegian sweater in the dead of night and went to bed for a bit. (I iced my left hand first.)


I got up at 8am Sunday and knit the plackets while I drank my coffee. (I was badly hampered by my hand at this point. It's not a repetitive strain injury or a return of the claw that I suffered from 2 years ago, just the burn of serious overuse...like feeling sore the day after the gym. I deliberately slowed down to avoid injuring it.)


Fortified by placket success (there's two words you don't think you'll write together) I took the scissors to the steeks.
(Approximate time 10:45am. Very little time left. Still...never rush a steek.)


I had a little lie down (just 4 or 5 minutes face down on the hardwood floor) because seeing a cut up sweater always makes the blood rush out of my head...


From there it was a driving sprint....I put in the sleeves (11:30) and began weaving in the ends, sewing down the facings, steam blocking the joins, and was sewing up the hems of the sweater in a cab on the way to the closing ceremonies.


I was still sewing and weaving in ends when I got to the bar... and even I didn't know if I was getting it done before the torch was going to go out. (I really wish they would publish the exact time that thing is going to be extinguished instead of just the time the closing ceremonies start. There's a huge window of aching uncertainty in there.) In the end, at the last possible moment, as my left hand began to seize into a knitterly deathgrip...

I finished.

This picture taken as I triumphantly leapt to my feet at the Team Canada celebrations and rammed the sweater on. (Ignore the beer. It was a difficult few days.) It's really hard to take a picture of yourself.


I can't hardly believe it. I feel really, really good.


Tune in tomorrow, when we will have the medal ceremonies, tell your stories of defeat and glory and learn what to do to qualify for the draw for prizes. (The prizes are really, really good.)

Congratulations to everyone who finished, everyone who tried, and thanks to the fans who cheered us on. I'm so proud of everyone who dared to be a better knitter. Cheers!

Posted by Stephanie at 3:58 PM

February 25, 2006

Down to the wire.

I have no idea if I'm going to finish. None.

In a moment of glory (spoiled only by the almost immediate realization that it doesn't help much) I have finished the body.


There was some general weepiness last night (not really over the top sobbing though, since it was the wee hours and I couldn't spare the energy to sob, since it was already taking remarkable physical control to remain upright and give a crap) when I noticed that I had misread the instructions and the end of the chart was followed by 15 rows of ribbing at the shoulder. (I know, how weird is that? My brain apparently is so disconcerted by the idea of ribbing at the shoulder that the instructions didn't even register on the first read through.)

The second sleeve is, um....


Well. I'm working on it. This much progress was made possible by the genius of my friend/ blog commenter extraordinaire, Rachel H., who dropped off a cassarole, chocolate and a bottle of wine....and freed me up to continue to knit my evening away while never changing out of my ratty grey yoga pants. (It's really all about the support team at the Olympic level.) There remains sewing the steeks, cutting the steeks, sewing in the sleeves, cutting and sewing the front steek opening - (whoops, I mean Sewing and cutting, not cutting and sewing. There's a steek mistake that you don't want to make.) Knitting the placket and neckband (oh...this is starting to sound bad.) and sewing in the zipper.

I would be more bummed out that it's still dicey at this point (less than 24 hours to go, and I plan on sleeping for at least 3 of them.) but I'm feeling really proud of myself for doing this well, and besides...


my team-mate Ken's not done either. We're sprinting as fast as we can.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:30 PM

February 24, 2006


This time I've done it. I was feeling pretty good about my progress. Pretty good indeed. I knit while I watched Canada win gold in Curling... (and yes. Canadian men embrace. You wanna make something of it?)


(I'm in love with Newfoundlander Brad Gushue, youngest man to skip a Canadian rink at the Olympics. I think that's really normal.)

I knit while Joe drove me around on errands...


I knit while I waited in the bank...


I knit while I picked out a zipper for this beast...


I knit while I popped into the LCBO for reinforcements...


Then I got home and lay the new sleeve on top of the old sleeve so I could feel good about my progress and noticed that they looked sort of different. "That's odd", I thought, sort of innocently...and then it hit me.

I never changed needles after the sleeve cuff. I was supposed to go down from a 3.5mm to a 3mm. (Aw...CRAP.) "Hold up" I thought (see that? Not freaking out until there's a reason to freak out? That's a small measure of personal growth.) "Maybe they aren't all that different. It's only a half millimetre out on the needle size, maybe all this needle changing is just a Norwegian joke and it's fine. Yeah...maybe it's fine."


Not fine. Say it with me...

Aw....CRAP. (Yes. That's nail polish stuck to the coffee table. I'll clean it up Monday.) This could be it. This could have been the mistake that finishes it all. CRAP.

To further add insult to injury, I had the following conversation in the bank today.

Me: (Waiting in line and knitting on the now piece of CRAP sleeve)
Teller: Hey! You're knitting.
Me: Yup. (Note that I made absolutely no smart-assed remark about the obvious.)
Teller: You must be pretty obsessive about that eh?
Me: Yup. (Again..decent understatement of events.)
Teller: You know what? I saw this thing on the news about "The Knitting Olympics"
Me: (About to confess everything. Tell her that I'm in the Olympics, that I'm knitting my Olympic sweater right now. To puff out my chest and tell her that it was all my idea and isn't it freakin' cool?)
Teller: (Voice low and stunned) Isn't that crazy? Aren't those people nuts? Can you imagine?

Me: (Suddenly realizing that this isn't the moment of glory recognizing my genius that I thought I was headed for)

"Oh....ummm.....Yeah. Crazy. Those knitters are whacked. I gotta go. "

If anyone needs me I'll be over there with the ripped up piece of CRAP sleeve, a mangled chart, half a bottle of cheap red wine and what's left of my dignity. I'll post tomorrow. I know the suspense is killing you. Hell...It's killing me.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:17 PM

February 23, 2006

Dust Buffalo

The house is falling apart, the laundry is standing in mountains, and we have surpassed dust bunnies so long ago that "Dust Buffalo" now roam the floors. I may not have totally thought this Olympic knitting thing through. (Ha! There's a candidate for the understatement of the year award) I keep thinking that I'm going to catch up, that things are going to improve...that today will be my day, and then real life happens and I'm sunk.

Last night my real life happened, as I gave a wee talk at The Flying Dragon Bookshop here in Toronto.



Nice knitters and so much fun that for the 3 hours that I was there I almost totally forgot that I was not knitting for the Olympics. Absolutely fabulous bookstore (I can't stress that enough. If you live in Toronto and need to buy a book, especially a kids book, you should go there and give them your money. Nice women running a beautiful business.) Unfortunately my total knitting amounted to....


30 rounds on the second sleeve (this makes it really just an elaborate cuff.)


and only 8 rounds on the body, executed before I realized I was knitting mostly while I was asleep on the chesterfield with my eyes closed and was no longer knitting the chart, but just plain green stitches. (I quit then.)

This means that there are 105 ever-increasing rounds left to go on the sleeve, and (it makes me woozy to write this) 31 (big) rounds left to go on the body. Then I need to block it, cut the steeks, knit in the placket, sew in the sleeves and the zipper (holy crap the zipper, I forgot about the stupid zipper, I need to go BUY the zipper.) sew up the hems, weave in the ends and go lie down in the road and I'm done. All before the Closing ceremonies party being held by Team Canada at my sisters restaurant on Sunday. (The fact that the party is at my sisters place only makes me more anxious. She's my little sister. There is nothing she enjoys more than my humiliation. It's natural, but unfortunate.)

I decided to write it down so that I would have a full grip on the gravity of the situation and could no longer dwell in my own private land of denial and sunshine. For the first time, I am ready to almost but not quite because it could still work out admit that I might not make it.

I am going to go marshall all the forces of the universe known to me, take the phone off the hook, make a huge pot of coffee (but not too big, 'cause, you know, a caffeine tremor can really slow you down) warp the time space continuum (that's such a pain in the arse) and knit now. Hope springs eternal. Today is my day.
What was I thinking?

Posted by Stephanie at 2:26 PM

February 22, 2006

Don't just stand there. Make coffee.

Tips for Olympian knitters near the end...or edge. Your choice.

1. Choose a pattern that does not have you knitting for invisible progress. See this?


Oh, wretched little hems of injustice, how I loathe and admire thee...
I adore the way that Dale of Norway has these wonderful details. Hems that fold up, facings to cover bare edges, it's all so brilliant and beautiful. Sadly, this means that a chunk of knitting (12 rounds on each of the sleeves and the body) are knit, then turned up to the inside so that you have gained no length.


This is a tactical error, and at the olympic level, small choices matter. Look for ribbing. Not hems. (Note: whatever you do, do not do a sweater with hems AND ribbing. This way lies madness.)

2. Food that can be delivered is a good thing. Pizza is our favourite, and I would steer you off of Chinese. It comes with chopsticks which resemble knitting needles and offers no psychic relief.

3. Do not accept offers of "massages" or "rubdowns" from your mate, no matter how well intentioned. This is not a time saver, but an attempt to get you to do something other than knit. Something you don't have time for. Mumble "see you Monday" at them and keep on going.

4. Cast on all remaining parts of your project right now. It won't help you get done any faster, but it makes it look like it.


5. Be smart. If say, you had to take a bus and give a talk tonight, and you are a pretty good knitter but not so good that you can juggle a talk, the public transportation system and a freakin' chart... Cast on the sleeve and stay up half the night getting to the part where it is knit plain so that you don't have to give up Olympic knitting time to earn a living.

6. About earning a living...two words. Sick days.
Use 'em. (Note: this works less well if your work is knitting related and your office is in your living room.)

7. Rent a series from the video store and lock yourself in the house. I recommend Drama. Lots of talking, no reason to look up.
(Note: arrange childcare first.)

8. Don't laugh when your husband tells you that the kids are getting really "Fair Isle". It's your fault that he's using knitting lingo instead of real words like "Feral". You're the one who made his life all about the wool and stopped contributing to the parenting team. Besides, angry men do less housework.

9. Take a break if your hands hurt. You don't want a knitting career ending injury. Spend some time surfing the sites of some of the other Olympians and live to fight another day.

10. Don't take it too seriously. No one will die and you will not lose your home, funding or job if you don't finish. It's about learning something about knitting and rising to a challenge. Not all olympians win gold. They are still Olympians.


The correct answer is that Cassie Campbell and I both come from the same hometown...Brampton Ontario. (There are going to be some people from Brampton who protest this. They are going to claim that I come from "Bramalea". (Which is true.) This is a bone of huge contention, tricky because technically speaking Bramalea does not exist, having been absorbed by the city of Brampton in 1974. Old habits die hard however, and most of the folks who live in that part of town still say they live in Bramalea (Even though it doesn't exist.) and write it on their return address.

The winner of the Fleece Artist sock yarn, chosen randomly from among all of the correct answers is Imbrium. Send your snail mail to me cookie, and I'll get it in the mail. (Monday.)

Posted by Stephanie at 1:20 PM

February 21, 2006

Commitment, focus and...and what was that last one?

Thursday, before I put my behind on a plane to Boston to catch up with the carpool crowd to SPA I had a little talk with myself. I reminded myself that I had written of commitment, of focus, of 16 days of a knitting epic and that if I was going to win gold, I was going to have to pull it together a little bit. Stop talking with Joe about our lives screwing around, stop eating and sleeping wasting time, and start living and breathing this *&^%$#!!!ing sweater directing my energy toward my goal in an Olympic way.

So I did. (Sort of.)
I drank wine and laughed myself silly into the wee hours got quite a bit done Thursday night.

I knit all the way from Boston to Portland Maine, and so did Julia (right on target with her olympic knitting)


I knit while Wendy made her very first yarn. (Show our girl some love. The fist yarn you ever make is sacred. Crap....but sacred. Note the look of glee and contentment? She has no idea that she's just fallen down and won't be able to get up.)


I knit while Wendy (Yes. Same Wendy. Wendy charmed the daylights out of me, Can you tell?) showed me her unbelievably cool Knitting Olympics spreadsheet. It calculates how many stitches she needs to do per day, how many she has done, percent of total stitches knit....it's enough to make me delirious with joy. I may actually have fallen hard for Wendy when she showed me this.

It's exactly the kind of anxious anal-retentive obsessive compulsive twitch organization that I can really get behind.

I think Juno liked it too. Hard to tell for sure, it's so hard to tell what she's thinking. The woman is expressionless.


I knit while everybody spun late at night...


I knit while I spun late at night.
(Ok. That's a lie.)

(Anybody else notice that my camera gets fuzzy when I drink wine? Odd, that.)

I knit while Cate put together her brand new Alden (gasp) Amos (gasp) wheel.


Look how captivating a new wheel is. This is how you can tell that your new wheel is really good. When everyone in the room stops what they are doing (even though they are spinning too) and stares, transfixed at your new wheel with a vaguely turned on happy expression? Good wheel.

I knit all the way home on the plane. At the end of it all...I was here.

Some of you may not recognise this exact part of the process. It's the black hole. I knit and knit and knit and nothing happens. Nothing. Yarn goes in but no sweater comes out. This exact spot is also referred to occasionally as "SCREWED".
5 days left. Yup. Screwed. I have today to knit, and then tomorrow night is a little tight. (If "by a little tight" you understand that I mean "What the hell was I thinking?")

I'll be speaking tomorrow evening at the Flying Dragon Bookshop (1721 Bayview Avenue...here in Toronto) at 7:00. Come one, come all, but do them a favour and let them know you are coming (tel: 416-481-7721) so they can save you a seat. I'll be talking about the knitting olympics. (And knitting. Bring yours.) If you don't think you'll recognize me, I'll be the lady knitting and clutching a whack of green wool wet with my tears.

Olympic Quiz:

To celebrate the Canadian Women's Hockey team bringing home gold yesterday, I'm going to run a tiny contest. (By the way? I love Women's Olympic hockey. It seems so much more real than the mens. They are ordinary women, not NHL superstars with 8 million dollar paychecks. Way more moving to see them do well. What every happened to the Olympics excluding professionals?) I'll draw a name from among those who correctly answer the question below and send them this:

A fine upstanding Canadian sock yarn. (Fleece Artist, colourway "I lost the label")

What do I and Cassie Campbell, the Captain of the Canadian Women's Hockey team have in common?

Leave your answer in the comments.
(PS. This is a hard one, and Ken can't answer.)

Posted by Stephanie at 1:41 PM

February 20, 2006

Well Bob...

Jim, Welcome to Coverage of the Knitting Olympics. This weekend our spotlight athlete travelled...

Whoa there Bob! Did you say "travelled"? This athlete has been on the road a lot for someone trying to knit a ridiculously busy sweater in 16 days.

That's true Jim, she has been. It certainly adds an element of difficulty that we're sure she hadn't anticipated.

Are you sure she didn't anticipate it?

Sure am Jim. I think that was clear to all of the spectators who watched her lose her s**t in Pearson International Airport ripping up her luggage and throwing underpants and balls of green yarn around in front of the check-in at Peason International airport looking for a 3.5mm neeedle that she didn't think she would need until the next day.

That's true Bob, she clearly wasn't anticipating the ice storm that delayed her flight and gave her extra knitting time. Good thing that she realized that she was about to have an equipment failure before she checked that bag! Real Olympic success relies on careful attention to detail. The smallest error can ruin an Athletes chances.

Right you are Bob. It's pretty clear that the strain is starting to wear on her. She may have had all of the knitting stuff with her at SPA, but it really means something that she didn't pack a hairbrush, a single pair of socks...and that while she was crouching on the floor de-packing and scattering everything she owned while disentangling the circular needle in question from her underpants in the middle of the Airport....that when that spectator in line behind her at the airport was staring at her she looked him dead in the eye and said "What? WHAT?"

Very true Jim. She's pretty edgy. She's gone into seclusion in her Toronto home, following the rigours of the SPA weekend in Maine, and we'll have a full report on her performance tomorrow. Let's hope she gets it together.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:52 PM

February 17, 2006

Samantha is 12!

Dear Sam,

I'm very far away, over on the left side of the continent in a city called Portland in the state of Maine at the SPA knit and spin. (It's under Quebec I think.)

I'm very sorry to be away for your birthday. I love you, I miss you and I'm going to bake you a really cool cake when I come home.
Juno, Julia and Laurie say Happy Birthday!

Anyone else want to wish Sam a happy 12th Birthday?

Posted by Stephanie at 6:37 PM

February 15, 2006

How about that.

Last night I learned something interesting about my knitting. (Well, I learned that I really suck and that I can't count to seven reliably, but that's for another day.)

I always thought that I had a lot of knitting projects on the go because I was weak, flighty, not particularly monogamous in this particular area.
I thought that I just lacked focus. (Joe just spit coffee. Having endured marital debate with me I am sure he would like you to know that I have endless focus for other things. Like, say...the lesson that if I go away for five (5) days, NOTHING that I cooked before I left should still be in the fridge when I come back, or that cucumbers have truly lost all of their nutritional usefulness once they are a vague brown liquid in the bottom of the crisper and that if you have to POUR a vegetable out of the fridge you probably should have gotten to it a little sooner. (Sorry. Turns out that I'm not quite over yesterdays talking points. I'll try to lose focus on that.)

Turns out that I have several projects on the go at once for reasons that actually make sense and aren't just a sign of my lack of knitterly integrity.

1. If you have several projects on the go then you don't have to tell your family that you can't go to the movies during the Olympics because you are at a chart part. You just go get your sock.

2. If you had (hypothetically speaking of course) a manuscript that you needed to finish looking over


you wouldn't need to choose between doing that and doing your olympic knitting. You could just choose something that would go around and around nicely while you read and nobody would have to resent anything.

3. If you had lots to choose from then at the exact moment that you thought "Double pointed needles are dumbass" when you (for the third time in 24 hours) pulled a needle free of your work while taking the thing in and out of your purse, that exact moment you could go and get a project on straights and glare viciously at the dpns until you felt better.

4. Finally, if for reasons that you cannot explain, having successfully knit stuff exactly like this before, and despite having used an entire collection of post-it-notes to mark your spots on the chart and counted and counted and tinked and swore and pulled the work out a grand total of six (6) times before you got the establishing row right on the top of the sleeve, you could pretend to your blog readers that you had abandoned it out of boredom instead of having to admit that a row of 119 stitches had kicked your arse.


I'm starting to get a little twitchy, and it isn't just the knitting monogamy that's getting to me. Astute readers will have noticed the presence of a new ticker on the sidebar, a gift from the clever husband of Anny (I think you can get the code from her - assuming that she can look up from her Olympic knitting long enough - remember to keep the demands on Olympians low right now. They need their focus.) and I LOVE it, but I'm torn. I think I might have to start only looking at it once a day, instead of knitting in front of it, watching it tick nauseatingly ever closer to the finish line.
Dudes. I have so got to finish this sleeve.
(PS. What do you think the odds are that I'll laugh if someone tells me they see a mistake in that?)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:26 AM

February 14, 2006

Good thing apologies are free.

There are several people I need to apologize to.

1. Judith MacKenzie McCuin, for not only telling some people that I thought she was a goddess, but to confessing to her face that I would be perfectly happy to spend the rest of my life following around her lovely self, standing behind and to the left of her...never speaking, just trying to be worthy. There is nothing this woman could not make interesting. Nothing. Better than that, she taught me to spin laceweight...


That's a penny for scale. It's exceedingly fine, though I concede to it's problems (painful lack of ply-twist, just for starters) but I love it anyway. I'm thinking about getting it its very own velvet box. Anybody could spin that if they talked to Judith. She's remarkable, but I probably shouldn't have told her that and followed her around quite so many times. Sorry Judith.

2. Nancy Bush. What can I say. The woman is as inspired in person as in her books. I knit Estonian lace, I fell in love with Nupps....she's great. Really great. (I eventually did speak to her several times. She's very nice and not at all scary.) The apology? Oh yeah. Rose-Kim/Jessica and I sort of ended up sitting next to each other in Nancy's class, and, well. We both felt sort of bad about it but at 2:00 it was Knitting Olympics time and while Nancy did this:


We did this.


(Oh, hold on. I owe Jessica an apology too.)

3. Jessica. When Nancy came over to our table to see our Estonian lace, I put down my olympic stuff real quick but Jessica got busted. Sorry pet. Better luck next time. I felt bad, but not bad enough not to take a picture.)

(Note that while she looks sad and regretful, she has not put down the olympic knitting.)

I'd like to apologize to the crowd I spoke to that evening, for putting their pictures on the internet with a sleeve. (Cause you know....it's so much less crazy with a sock.)



4. I'd like to apologize to all of Knitting Team Canada, for bitterly muttering under my breath being regretful that I could not attend the opening ceremonies party. Their party looked like this.
Mine looked like this.


I'm over it, sure they had no fun without me, planning better for the closing ceremonies.

5. Sally Melville deserves an apology for how hard I laughed when she temporarily lost... and consequently searched for a misplaced double pointed needle, which was then located IN HER KNITTING.


(Apparently being a fountain of knitting books and information and travelling around the world teaching people to knit will still not save you from dumbass knitter mistakes. I don't know about you...but I love that. )

For the rest of today I'll be still be working on the first sleeve of Hardangervidda.


(Let's not discuss my slow progress and how very, very humiliating darned funny it's going to be if I'm the only knitter who doesn't get a medal.) Onward ho!

Posted by Stephanie at 12:10 PM

February 10, 2006

Needles Raised

So here we are, poised on the edge of greatness. Thanks to the monumental efforts of S.Kate, Emma, Kat and Ken (Really, I swear that I didn't think this would take 5 people to manage) the list is pretty up to date. We currently sit at almost 4000 knitters with more coming.

I think we have added everyone who got their names in before the cutoff, and because we are nice (and crazy about knitters) we have kept adding as we can manage and I'll continue to do that, as knitting and working allows. (Speaking of that, if you'd like a chance to hear a speech I haven't written yet and get me to sign a book, I'll be talking, signing and knitting (Hardangervidda) at the Tacoma Sheraton at 7:30 tonight. C'mon down. Show me your Olympic stuff.

Kat has brilliantly created an Olympic frappr map for all of us to use. If you like, take a minute and we'll paint a picture of knitting olympians all over the globe. (That aughta scare a few non-knitters.)

Today, thousands of knitters stand sit poised to knit their way to greatness. For most of us, this is a close as we are going to come to they Olympics...Welcome to knitting as a personal sport.

A sport is defined as a physically and mentally challenging activity carried out wit a recreational purpose for competition, for self-enjoyment, to attain excellence, for the development of a skill or for some combination of these traits.

Today at 2pm, (your local time, wherever you may be) or while you watch the Olympic flame being lit in Torino these thousands of sporting knitters will all lift their needles and begin a personal epic, an odyssey of excellence, and a phenomenal period of sixteen whole days in which they will strive to improve themselves as knitters, however they personally define it. These knitters, having created their own challenges, pay tribute to the real athletes who (inexplicably) find their greatness in ways other than those of wool.

It is my greatest pleasure to imagine a wave of energy released at that time, streaming through the world, rushing poignantly from the needles of women and men of excellence paying homage to the old and mighty idea of challenge elevating the human spirit.

It is not whether you fail or knit. It is not whether you get a sweater or you simply learn what wonder you can achieve when you think about knitting for sixteen days. It is the magic of the combined effort of thousands of knitters all making the smallest of movements with their hands, adding up to the greatest epic of craftspeople all knitting for one goal, at one time, ever known.
(Cue the music...)

The Knitting Olympics Athletes Pledge

I, a knitter of able hands and quick wits, to hereby swear that over the course of these Olympics I will uphold the highest standard of knitterly excellence.

I will be deft of hand and sure of pattern, I will overcome troubles of yarn overs and misplaced decreases. I will use the gifts of intelligence and persistence (as well as caffeine and chocolate) and I will execute my art to the highest form, carrying with me the hope for excellence known to every knitter.

I strive to win. To do my best, and to approach the needles with my own best effort in mind, without comparing myself to my fellow knitters, for they have challenges unique to them.

While I engage in this pursuit of excellence and my own personal, individual best, I also swear that I will continue to engage with my family in conversation, care for my pets, speak kindly with those who would ask me to do something other than knit, and above all, above every stitch thrown or picked, above every cable, every heel stitch, every change of colour, I swear this:

That I will remember that this is not the real Olympics, that I'm supposed to be having fun and that my happiness and self-worth ride not on my success....

but on my trying.

Let the games begin!

Posted by Stephanie at 11:35 AM

February 9, 2006

15 minutes from Tacoma

I have 15 minutes before classes start, I'm sitting in a hotel room ready to roll, and I'm nervous.


(This is Tacoma from my hotel window. I knew you were dying to see it.)
Those who read this blog have likely already worked out that I tend towards the "high strung" end of normal human behaviour, and this sort of thing flips me right out. (My natural response to this is to drink a great deal of coffee, which totally doesn't help, but that's another post.)

1. Atla, says to tell Nancy Bush that she loves her. Nancy was the first person I met when I got off the bus last night. I have a class with her today and I will tell her you love her. (Last night I told her I love her, and I may have accidentally gushed a bit, so there's chance she won't be speaking to the crazy little Canadian today, but I'll try. ) She seems very, very smart and nice, but surprisingly, there is no bright golden glow emanating from her, which I was really expecting, considering that she is a knitting goddess. My plan is to say nothing in her presence lest I screw up.

2. Suzanne Pederson, the co-ordinating genius who makes this retreat work is our new Olympic heroine. Last night when I realized that I had left the powercord for the laptop on the dining room table and that I had 22 minutes of battery time left (along with hundreds of un-entered olympians), Suzanne performed a spectacular magic trick and made one appear. I am so unbelievably grateful. All hail Suzanne, Official saviour of the knitting olympics.

3. I have borrowed this wheel from Suzanne for my class on spinning and knitting Estonian Lace.


I have no idea if I have put it together right. I hope I don't look stupid in front of Nancy Bush. She seems nice enough not to point and laugh at me.

4. There is no snow in Tacoma, and the parka I brought is ridiculous overkill. I saw a live, green fern. (I really can't get over that.)

5. I love this.


A knitting olympics button in ancient greek, made by Sara.
Sara is clearly insane, and totally my kind of person.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:33 AM

February 8, 2006

I'm packing it in

This is how your suitcase would look too...right?


It turns out that I may have been lying when I said that regular blogging would continue today. To avoid having to knit underpants when I run out, I'm busy packing some other stuff to go in that suitcase. The flight to Madrona fiber Arts Retreat leaves soon and (other than having all of my yarn ready) I've got a lot to do. The list of knitting Athletes is over 3300, and Emma, S.Kate and I are still working on it. If you don't see your name by tomorrows post, or there is a glaring error you want us to try to correct, let us know tomorrow and we'll do our best to get it up there before the flame is lit.

Until then, stop looking at me like that. Everybody packs yarn first.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:23 PM

February 7, 2006

I knew there were perks

I'm rather unexpectedly in MA visiting my publisher for a photo shoot, and I have learned three things.

1. It takes a lot of makeup to make it look like you are wearing no make-up at all. This is extremely disconcerting if you are the sort of person who normally wears no makeup and achieves the same thing.


2. I have no idea what is going on here.


This is a life size concrete elephant. This has nothing to do with my photo shoot, but it was strange as all get out.

3. If you are an knitting book author long enough, apparently the perks start to be things you couldn't imagine.


This is my Yarn Boy. Charlie was the handsome gentleman assigned to position my yarn and pull lengths of it free from the ball for me. (I swear it. A yarn boy. Can you imagine? "Oh Yarn boy....") He may have done some other stuff too, but I was laughing to hard to tell .

I'm home tomorrow (briefly) and we'll catch up then.

Olympic Notes:

The deadline for new entries is tonight at midnight. This is necessary to keep S. Kate, Emma and I from sobbing helplessly as we try to keep up. There are nearly 3000 entrants, if you are not on the list yet, keep holding one. There will be a change to make corrections to the list tomorrow.

Finally, from Beadlizard...some very, very good advice.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:05 AM

February 3, 2006

We are many

My darling knitters...I am astonished.

The Knitterly homage to the Olympics will now have more participants than the actual Olympics in Torino, There's 2400 of them, and we're already at more than 2500 (if the update isn't there yet it will be soon) and you have no idea what kind of mess my inbox is. If it wasn't for Emma and S. Kate - both of whom I completely owe my sanity to, I would be a gibbering idiot, instead of someone who actually thinks all of these knitters will eventually be entered on the list.) We can all thank Kat as well, as she's the Official Librarian of the Knitting Olympics, and is doing a great job of keeping track of all the teams and groups. Leave her a note if she missed one. (Librarians love accuracy.)

What's rocking my world is that each and every one of the knitters on the list are striving for their personal best. I'm impressed with each and every name on the list because every name, every one of them is a celebration of two things.

1. Excellence in knitting. Every knitter on the list is trying to stretch their skills. Not everyone is cut out for self improvement, and I'm sure even if you are not part of the olympics you are busy striving for excellence in another element of your life...but all of these names are knitters trying to do it better. That elevates the craft. That makes it personal art. I'm proud of you all.

2. Challenge. Nobody tries to do better without challenge. It is the elevating force of humanity, and at the risk of sounding like a motivational speaker...challenge is good for you. A chinese proverb reads:

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.

I'm a long way from perfect, but I'm closer for trying, and so are you.
Knit on.


All tinks sweaters, all the time around here. (Can you tell that my enthusiasm is weak at the moment? )


This here is the first of two sleeves. When it is done I need another the same (Bored? Me? No way. I'm just ummm....waiting for the olympics.) then I cut six steeks (two fronts, four sleeves) knit button bands and neck bands and I, my friends, I am outa tinkville.
This needs to happen pretty quick, since I'm out of town all of this weekend and next week, and I wanted to finish the Tinks before I started Hardangervidda. Did I show you the yarn?


(What? You didn't think I was going to knit it the way it is in the picture, did ya?) The choice of colours likely also tells you that I'm not knitting it for Joe. This ones for me. (The Olympic advantage of that is getting to do a 36" chest instead of a 48" one. I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid.)

Finally, go fill up Sandy's inbox. It's her bloggiversary.
Sandy is a consistent force for love and good in the blogosphere. I have the privilege of calling her friend in my private life, and I tell you this: If there is a gentle kindness leaking out around anyone, it is Sandy.
Sandy loves skies, so this ones for her.


(Sorry about the weather Sandy.)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:34 AM

February 2, 2006

A bloggers (silent) poetry reading

This charming mid-winter celebration comes from Grace's Poppies (but I found it through Creating Text(iles) )

None of you know my father-in-law, and he's a difficult guy to describe. Hard-working, decent, loyal...wonderful really. The thing that always struck me most about him though, was the silence. The gentleman is a man of few words, the sort of man where you sit down and ask him a twenty minute open-ended question full of detail and encouragement and he answers with "Could be so." Coming from the sort of family that I do (we all talk all the time) I found this restraint perplexing, and took it as an absolute sign that he didn't have much to say.

Then, out of the blue a couple of years ago I was absolutely stunned and agape to discover that he had been writing poetry. (It was a little like discovering that your local motorcycle gang is teaching pink tutu-esque ballet on Saturday afternoons. Not impossible, but unexpected in a way that smashes biases you didn't know you had.) Not only was he (this man who didn't talk) writing poetry, he was writing good poetry (which is excellent really, since you can only imagine how awkward family dinners would be if I had to spend the whole time reading craptastic poetry and searching for good things to say about it.) He's been published a few times now, so I know that it's not just my fondness for the man that makes me think it's ok. Enjoy.

An excerpt from "Another Time (a pastoral)"

A walking wheel was stored in the dry room
under the stairs behind the kitchen stove,
the drive wheel had spokes and a bronze bushing

That rotated smoothly on a steel shaft,
a multiplying wheel turned the spindle
at high speed as grandmother pushed the spokes

She stood by the chaise, back to the window,
twisting and spinning the heavy coarse wool
into finely wrought yarn for mitts and socks

Over her shoulder green water glittered
but I was held by the whir of spindle
and eyes that glowed behind the spinning wheel

Red ochre was replaced with rich teak oil
Yet, the old wheel yearns for soft hands to toil.

Joseph Dunphy

Posted by Stephanie at 11:47 AM

February 1, 2006

Cease and Desist

To: The Stash
From: Stephanie
Re: Your Behaviour Of Late.

I know that you and I have an important, loving, fluid relationship, and mostly I treasure you and the way that you respond to new yarns and changes in how often I visit. (I really still appreciate how you were about that whole mohair thing, I'm still so sorry about that.) That's why, after this time together, I feel badly having to lay down the law like this, but here goes.

You seem to be under the impression that we are in a marriage of equals. That I will love, honour and cherish you, and that you will take part in our relationship as a team-mate, an equal partner who makes suggestions and decisions about the life we lead together and what gets knit around here. That would be Wrong.

You are actually like my high-priced concubine. I love and cherish you, feed, house and spend money on you... and in exchange, you are to give me what I pay for. Entertainment, pleasure and silent nodding assent. I am a knitter with plans right now, and you exist to please me. Please cease and desist with the following behaviours:

1. Stop throwing sock yarn at me just because I finished a pair of socks.


(Shari's lace - sockbug pattern, koigu yarn)
This behaviour will not be tolerated. You can quit wagging your fancypants yarns at me and throwing skeins off of the shelf. I am not doing it. I am going to finish the socks I have in progress before I want to hear anything about "hand-painted" anything.


While you are at it, you can quit tossing the Jaywalker pattern on the floor, printing extra copies and arranging for other bloggers to be knitting it all the time. You are a mighty stash, and I admire the way you stick to what you want, but No means not right now No.

2. Please leave the door to the closet closed the way I left it. I know it is you forcing it open sixteen times a day because I have made the decision to finish the tinks sweaters before I knit anything else.


Having made that decision, I am not the sort of person who would be opening the closet to fondle look at the grey merino all the time, so back off. I know it's you.

3. Immediately stop with the whispering about the merino-tencel that Laurie (yes, That Laurie) dyed and sent me.


I take a lot of flack on the blog about how I keep sort of forgetting to spin the corridale for Joe's gansey and I'm tired of people thinking it's me that can't follow through when you are the shameless hussy wagging fibre around. I spun two more skeins of 3-ply for him yesterday, and you can just suck it up. (You - the mouthy laceweight in the back, shut it.)


I want you to know that I believe in your basic goodness and that I think you are a reliable and decent stash. I would have never brought you that nice silk if that wasn't true. I hope that this review helps us to continue our long and fruitful relationship together. Play nice and I'll get you more of those extra big ziplocks you like so much.



Posted by Stephanie at 1:52 PM