Pittsburgh was a blast. I'm in Cleveland now, getting ready to go to the next talk/signing, and I can already feel myself getting overwhelmed with the reporter duties. I can report (before I loose it completely) that Pittsburgh remains filthy with knitters who represented with style....if blurry style. (The blurry thing may be me again. I tried. )
The late knitters ended up on the balcony. Sorry I missed you in the pictures guys.
Some of the suspects....
Diane, our faithful hat collector. (Hats, should you feel compelled to mail them from anywhere in the world, are still being collected by this fine lady who will get them to their new homes. Email me for her address and you can send them on to her.
I saw Sarah, who practically fell over backwards when I said I'd been to her blog. (Seriously people. It's a community. You read me, I read you. It's how it works. I can't read all of the blogs all of the time, but I try...) There was Jen...and it was Renee's (almost) birthday. (Birthday knitters hold the sock. I have my own rules for these things.
Vicki brought me SQUEAKY CHEESE CURDS!
(Stop that. It's delicious.) There was my very nice stalker Brooke
Brooke is on the left (the muggle she is attempting to corrupt is on the right, a very nice German knitter who's name escapes me because I am coming undone is in the middle.) Brooke and Stalker Angie should join forces to cover the whole of the US. Now my notes start to come undone a little. There were a lot of knitters and it's a little overwhelming. There was Isobel, and Amy brought me a very nice baby called Heather to hold. (I stopped the crying. Heather may be small, but she is very bright and we have reached an understanding, she and I.) Amanda was there, Bonnie was there, Rachel was there way more knitters were there that I took pictures too bad to show (shout out in the comments, will ya?)...and dudes...you gotta meet Meredith.
Meredith started knitting a year ago, and this is her first sock.
The force is strong with this one.
The best part of the evening? (Besides all the knitters, which totally goes without saying) Non-knitters who can get it. The events guy at Joseph-beth said that he had originally underestimated the nature and scope of the invasion, but that as they started to get phone calls and emails, the had realized that (and I quote) that they "needed to get their s**t together."
T minus 1.5 hours till Cleveland!
I know that the one of the best surprises I've ever had about a city, was the first time I arrived in Pittsburgh and discovered just about the opposite I was expecting. My whole life I'd heard the phrase "Steeltown" and had come up with a series of expectations about the place. I was so wrong. I've had a really interesting day in Pittsburgh, and I didn't even get to the part with all the knitters yet. Turns out, in Pittsburgh? Knitters are everywhere.
Knitters are in the TV studios...
Where the host did a few stitches just to be game...
and couldn't put it down. (He likes to learn new things. I expect he'll have a sweater Monday. The producer had to ask him to stop.)
Longtime visitors to this here blog will remember that all this rushing around in the name of knitter started with Sarah-the-wonder-publicist, who quit her job (nothing to do with me, I'm sure) and
Moved to Pittsburgh!
Sarah showed the sock a thing or two. Some stadium for baseball (I don't know the name, I'm sure that native Pittsburghers, Pittsburghonians, Pittsburghians - people from Pittsburgh will fill us in) where they hit fly balls into the river.
We went up Mount Washington (I think) and showed the sock the classic tourist shot. (Except mine has a sock in it.)
The sock was impressed. Steeltown indeed, the place is beautiful.
From there, I retreated, ditched Sarah-the-ex-wonder-publicist and found Julia!
Julia, seen here holding the sock on the streets of Pittsburgh, noted a thing or two. See what Julia is wearing? Flip-flops, regular cotton top...does she look cold? No. See me?
Ahem. Tee-shirt, wool sweater, wool coat, wool socks, leather boots. Do I look hot. YES. It is springtime in Pittsburgh, and Julia noted that I might as well as "slapped a Canadian flag on my back" so obvious was my attire. I felt like a knob. A hot one. (I am only glad that I forgot my scarf in the hotel.) Julia took me into the batcave where she makes Vesper Sock Yarn. Now, Julia says right on her website that she makes this stuff in small batches, but you see it everywhere, so I was excited to see her little factory.
Ahem. This is her set-up. Every skein sold in the world comes out of these three pots!...Well, to be completely honest...
She has six. (Does that impress anyone else but me? A whole commercial enterprise being run out of this woman's kitchen with six pots? Clever knitter.) When I got over my shock we ran over to Knit One. where I visited Stacey and Carla (wait until you see what Carla taught me. Fabulous.) and ran into this guy.
Steven is a knitting teacher at Knit One and he's also a clown (you cannot make this up) and he works with a healing clown troop (I am still not messing with you) and they are in the process of knitting a scarf more than a HUNDRED feet long. (I just find these people.) He's cranking out i-cord
then knitting the i-cord into the scarf. (Well. Him and a whole bunch of people.) There's a blog about the whole thing here. The scarf is named The Marley...
and I cranked on The Marley.
I swear. There's just no place like Pittsburgh. Assuming I survive the event tonight, it will remain one of my favourite cities. (If I die of anxiety I'm taking it off the list.)
So yesterday I was wondering what I was going to knit on this trip (Eight days, many airports, many cabs, much waiting.) and I was futzing through the stash with nothing and everything appealing at once, and the doorbell rang, and the inevitable happened.
Yarn arrived that I didn't remember buying.
Now, I don't get yarn online a lot, so It should stand out when I do it, but nope. No memory. I opened the box, knowing that it must have been something really good if it moved me that way...
That explains it. Two of Cookie A.'s patterns and the solid colour sock yarn to go with them. Totally reasonable. I wound one skein of each of the yarns I choose (Louet Gems) and tossed myself out the door onto a plane to Pittsburgh. (If I knit fast I will have to wind more by hand.)
I wish you could have all been on the plane with me. I clear security with my various knitting needles and yarn and sit myself down and get out my ipod and the German stocking pattern, and I settle in. I have only once, in all of the flights that I have taken all over Canada and the US been told I couldn't take my needles. (That was a tiny plane with no door between the cockpit and the passengers. I can see why they might be extra thoughtful about what the passengers have. ) Once I get them on many people comment on how they can't believe that they are allowed, but with the exception of the occasional rare arse, I've never had a problem.
So today I'm sitting there, knitting away and as the flight attendant walks by my seat she looks over, sees the knitting and advises me that I will have to put it away for take-off and landing and only knit when there is no turbulence and the seat belt sign is off because - get this....
Things could be bumpy and I could let go of a needle and it could go flying through the air and hurt someone.
I put the knitting away like she asked me to (of course, I'm not going to argue on a plane, Twitch a little maybe, but argue? Never)...but as I put them away I commented that this was the first time I'd been asked to do this, and she told me that technically, I should be asked every time. (That would mean that there are a lot of slacker flight attendants out there, but I digress.) I harumphed and looked out the window, hoping for a smooth flight so I could pick up my sock, but I couldn't help but notice that the guy next to me had a very pointy metal pen that he was using to fill in the airlines "sudoko" in the in-flight magazine, and that pen could totally have gone flying through the air too, and being about 100% heavier than my needle and since according to the laws of physics impact force equals mass times velocity...his pen was far, far more dangerous.
All I ask for is a little common sense and consistency. I hope I get that flight attendant again. I'll be the lady knitting with pens.
(Ps. it was bumpy the whole way.)
Tomorrow, Representing in Pittsburgh.
The night after the event, when Joe and his mother and I were crammed into one wee hotel room (this is the problem with spontaneous surprises. The details tend to be a little loose.) We talked about how fabulous New York was, and I remembered that Carol had never been, and it suddenly seemed a shame to not spend a little time. We decided (if the details could be less loose) to take an extra day and show Carol the city. In the morning I went to do my thing or two (the other problem with spontaneous surprises is that the surprise-ers often don't know the full plans of the surprise-ees) and Joe took his mum to see Grand Central Station. I took the sock to see - be still my beating heart, Vogue Knitting.
I'm a pretty big Vogue Knitting fan. It's got a really different feel than Interweave Knits (my other favourite) but I love looking at the relationship between actual fashion and knitting patterns (No, the irony of that is not lost on me, as I sit here bra-less and unaccessorized, wearing a yarnstore tee-shirt and yoga pants.) and how can you not love a knitting magazine with a "Made in Canada" column written by our own Lee Ann? Adina Klein, who was at the launch the night before, showed me around. The place is pretty fly.
This is Adina (who is dressed exactly like you thought all the Vogue people would be...right?) showing me the coolest thing ever. Those are all the pages with all the designs for the next issue. While I was there there were sweaters arriving and yarn arriving and it was seriously neat. Seriously. The coolest thing though, was the back rooms.
On the left are all these bins with all the sweaters from all the last bunch of issues, so you could see a sweater "in person" if you wanted. Those bins in the back and along the right are (steady on now...) All the new yarns from All the manufacturers. Or almost all of them, sure seemed like all of them to me. (There was this one that I lost my mind over. I'd seen it at Knitty City too... it was a Tilli Thomas silk yarn with beads on it? Knitty City had a red/pink one that was astonishing, and Adina had a white/blue one that looked like ice. It was so not what I would usually knit with, but mercy. It was beautiful. I don't remember the name - it was hard to read through the tears I shed for it's beauty, and I didn't look at the price, but I bet we can all guess that silk beaded yarn might run to the "luxury" end of things. Totally not an afghan yarn, if you catch my meaning.) That picture was just one of the places they were keeping their stuff. All over Vogue there are all these fabulously new and fancy yarns, products, books....bloggers. (We are everywhere.) Plus, as if all of that was not fabulous enough? Adina let me have some of the almonds on her desk. Great tour. Great almonds. Great editor.
Back at the hotel, I was released from Publisher control and left to my own devices. I found Joe and his mum and found out that they had managed to change flights, hotels and babysitters at home, and Whammo! We were seeing New York. We did it fast, and I hope the Real New Yorkers approve of what I showed them. If you have 24 hours to show someone the city....
1. We went to Curry in a hurry, in Murry Hill for lunch with Ms. TMW and That Laurie.
Carol and That Laurie are seen here examining yarn. Lots of yarn. That Laurie has some mad shopping skills.
2. MoMA (iloveitheresomuch) is FREE on Fridays between 4 and 8.
So we showed the sock a little culture.
The sock liked Monet.
The sock was stunned by Starry Night.
The sock worked toward understanding some pieces.
and Joe, absorbed a little Pollock. (It is very beautiful.)
4. We ate dinner at my favourite restaurant in NYC, HanGawi. Where we met some wonderful New Yorkers...
Nicole and Steve, there celebrating Steve's graduation from law school and very busy proving to us that New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people there are.
5. Walk from HanGawi up to the Park Central Hotel by way of the absolute insanity that is Times Square.
(Carol loved it. Just loved it.)
6. Eat breakfast at Lindy's
7. Walked to the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park and caught the 1 train to Wall Street. (Every Torontonian should see the NYC subway at least once. Just for comparison.)
8. Walked Wall Street to Battery Park and looked out at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
9. Visited the firefighters memorial.
11. Went to Central park for a walk.
12. Went to the Dakota.
Went to the airport and went home. I think. We did it fast, and furious and fun. I think Carol is a NYC fan now. What a great city.
When I got home there was some fabulous stuff about the hats that were collected in NYC. Many thanks to K. and Milissa and Knitty City. There were 250 of them. This one was knit by Kimberly (age 15) and it is her First ever complete knit object. (There is powerful mojo on the first knit thing.)
red hat handknit by Olivia - age 13, Green and red hat handknit by Laurie, Blue hat hand knit by Carrie - Age 10
and so much more.....Do you see yours? Click to make them bigger.
I have to go pack. I've got until 11am tomorrow to decide what knitting I'm taking for the next 7 days and I'm fighting a wicked case of startitis.
In which our reporting knitter is surprised and apologizes for the long post, it was a big day.
From the incredible scene in Central Park, I went for lunch with my handlers my editor and Jayme-the-wonder-publicist to figure out the schedule for the rest of the day. I could hardly eat. It's like I said to the knitters on Thursday night. I'm an idiot. I totally get into this whole big planning thing...all excited. There will be yarn crawls and tours and knitters and socks in Central Park and then we'll all go to the book launch and we'll have the best time....and then I remember the part where I have to stand up in front of everybody and the nausea starts. (It is a testament to both my short attention span and my stupidity that I fall for this over and over again.)
Back to the hotel after lunch to try to fix my hair, pick up my dress pants (decide to screw it and wear jeans), get batteries for the camera, post the imagine picture and whip back out the door again. Ms. TMW and my friend Linda came with me (though I suspect they were just shadowing me to try and keep me from executing my escape plan.) and while we were in the room, the phone rang. I answered, and my mother-in-laws voice said "Stephie! " (I only tolerate my immediate family calling me Stephie.) "I'm here! I'm in New York! I came to see you!"
The bottom fell out of the world. She was three blocks from the hotel and I could hardly believe it. My own mum had been planning on coming before she had a passport problem, and this was a lovely make-up. Carol often turns up all over the world (she worked for an airline) but she had never been to New York. I was delighted. Stunned, surprised...and delighted. We went trouping down to FIT then...
(Mother-in-law/knitter Carol on the left) It was the most enormous surprise ever. Or so I thought.
I arrived at FIT, signed as many books as I could and was sequestered in the back room where I made repeated trips to the bathroom and melted down. I could hear the space filling up. My terror that nobody would come was slowly replaced with the horror that you had all come! I panicked. I imagined all the ways I could screw up. I tried to mentally calculate how many bloggers were out there who would be able to tell the world about when my pants fell down or I said a bad word or threw up or fainted dead away or had something stuck in my teeth. I brushed my teeth. I decided to peek. I decided I would sneak to the stage, pull back a little bit of the curtain and have a look. Get the lay of the land. See the podium. See what the room looked like so it wouldn't be a shock. Look for knitters I know and see you all knitting and remember that you are all just like me and I don't have to be afraid of you.
I stood up and made for the stage, telling Jayme-the-wonder-publicist that I was going to look. Imagine my surprise when Jayme, normally a very gentle person, practically tackled me around the knees and took me out. "NO" she said.
NO? Nobody tells me no. Not about my own party.
"I'll just peek" I said. "One quick peek." I wrestled free of her deadly grip and bolted. I was blocked by someone else.
"No!" they said...their arms thrown up to block me like I had just announced my intention to set fire to my stash and quit knitting.
I stared at them. I tried to figure out where this sort of oddity was coming from. No? I told them nobody would see me (although I don't know what would be wrong with that. You all knew I was there, for the love of crap.) and eventually told them that I would just stick my arm out and take a picture, then look at the picture. I bolted.
Jayme grabbed my arm...Linda trailed behind looking worried. Jayme and I engaged in a brief tussle at stage right (during which I may have uttered the incredibly mature phrase "You're not the boss of me") and eventually (I may be little, but I am wiry) I broke free and ran for the stage. Laughing all the way - but secretly suspecting that the stress of this event had finally gotten to Jayme and she had snapped like a cheap cotton laceweight. I stuck my arm out from the edge of the curtain (did anyone see me?) and I took this.
I pulled my arm back in and looked at it on the little screen, where, actually, it looked like this.
I couldn't see anybody. It was a blur. There was a podium through, and the crowd didn't look mean. I went back to the backroom, squinting at the screen and trying to make out all of you. Jayme told me not to try that again. I told her I would if I wanted to. Jayme-the-wonder-publicist looked nervously at me...sort of like I was a container of nitro-glycerine.
The time came. I walked out. The knitters were all there. The bloggers let fly with a barrage of very scary flashes and it hit me like a ton of bricks. You were representing. There were hundreds of knitters. Knitters everywhere. Big knitters, young knitters, gramma knitters and male knitters...knitters with tatoos, knitters who are lawyers. Knitters...knitters, knitters. That auditorium holds 775 people. There were a few empty seats, but only a few. It was incredible. It was stupendous. It was more than I expected and what I have always suspected secretly...which is that we are not just a community or a club. We are a culture. I introduced myself (I think some people already knew me) and I took my sock pictures.
(I love that you can see the flashes of the cameras as we engage in reciprocal blogging, me taking pictures of them, them taking pictures of me. Very cool.) I moved to the microphone. I took a deep breath. I made a secret wish to walk away with a shred of my dignity intact, and I launched. I started to tell the story of how my mother-in-law had surprised me...and I waved my hand in her direction and looked at her, and I stopped breathing. There was someone familiar sitting beside her. Very familiar. Like, I'm married to him kind of familiar.
It was Joe. My lovely Joe. I have no idea what I said or did then. None. It was an out of body experience. I couldn't believe that he was there. He was there when I wanted to peek.....that's why Jayme tackled me. See the picture from above?
Front row. Sitting right next to my mother-in-law (who is totally sneaky for getting him there.) He's even in the sock pictures.
I walked right over, stood in front of him...held out the sock and moved on. Dude was right there. Right there, grinning like an idiot because I didn't notice him. (He told me later that it was payback for the bedroom.) It was an incredible addition to the evening and I was proud and pleased that he thought to come and surprise me. (He fixed the dishwasher too.) With Joe there, I couldn't imagine a bad ending.
I more or less read my speech, I represented... and it was over and I was back to the part I love. Knitters. I answered questions while Juno ran among the knitters, giving out pins and collecting cash for KWB... ( $1595.20 was handed to Charlie, staff representing from the MSF office across the street- how's that for cutting out shipping and handling!)
Young knitters to be:
Spouses who got sucked into the vortex of knitterly energy that filled the hall and knit for the very first time:
Knitters who knew each other virtually and walked away knowing each other literally:
and one very tired, pleased and proud me, who knew that we could blow peoples minds and couldn't be more thrilled that we did. You should have seen the looks on the organizing muggles faces. It was an evening of walking among my people, of knowing that we are all on a team, a big team. A team that blows all the rules and stereotypes out of the water. A team that ranks knitterhood above all else and accepts all comers. A team that whatever happens to you, there are enough knitters who love you just the way you are, and just for being a knitter that we would all try to catch you if you fell.
It was powerful, it was representing, it scared the hell out of my husband, and I can't wait to do it again.
and to answer Kellee's question in the comments yesterday, no. There was no mosh pit. (Silly knitter. Mosh pits are for people who aren't all carrying pointy sticks. Holy pincushion Batman.) Tomorrow... "When we rule the world, everybody will have a hat." and how to show your mother-in-law New York if she's never been and you love it there. Carry on knitters. Carry on.
If my latin is right (and there is no special reason why it should be, now that I think about it) that title means "It is Completed" and boy, oh boy, oh boy....is it ever. The whole thing was such a shebang that I've been trying to figure out what to say about it...it was so big and cool and overwhelming that dudes, I don't even know if I can do it justice. It ran the gamut from overwhelming to thrilling to terrifying to surprising to satisfying to vindicating to... there's so much to tell you and exhaustion is still running high. I'm trying not to babble. I'm going to do it in order.
AM. Run around like an idiot trying to find all my stuff. Fail.
Noonish. Arrive in NYC and go on an impromptu yarn crawl when my hotel room isn't ready, but Ms. TMW is. We even visited the growing hat collection at Knitty City.
Evening: I ate fantastic Tibetan food for dinner then stayed up becoming increasingly hysterical about the events to come. When Joe calls at 1AM, I cried and told him that I thought maybe I made a big mistake becoming a writer. I worry, and fall asleep with yarn in my hands. (Really nice yarn, actually...)
6:00AM - I wake up and spring to action, fuelled entirely by fear alternated pleasantly with abject terror. I need to be in Manhattans financial district for a radio interview and having been burned by NYC traffic before, this time- I am prepared. I shower and dress and obsess about my hair before remembering that nobody can see me on the radio, then sit on the edge of the bed watching the Today Show and looking for knitters. I arrive 50 minutes early for the interview. (I swear. You cannot win with this traffic thing.) I drink coffee, look at New York .. and wait. I continue to worry.
As the time to do the interview approaches I flip out further as I realize that the thing is going to be live.
I get out of the interview without saying anything too stupid and only say "arse" once. I do not use any other four letter words of ill repute, which is a considerable achievement, considering my hysteria and the early hour.
9:400AM. Back in the hotel room, I drink coffee and look at my speech again. I call Jayme on her cell phone and tell her I've decided not to do it. She laughs - but she knows I sort of mean it. Just for laughs, while I am waiting for the feeling of impending doom to lift, I check for flights to Toronto. There are none.
11:00 AM I leave for Strawberry Fields in Central Park with Ms. TMW in tow. (The woman is unstoppable. I got everywhere because of her.) When we arrive...there are knitters everywhere.
Everywhere. We didn't count, but there were more than 100. (Enough to freak the muggles pretty bad, and enough to attract the attention of a park police officer who sat in his little car at the edge of Strawberry Fields with an extraordinarily worried expression.)
I visited with and enjoyed the knitters for a little bit....recorded a quick podcast thing with Guido, did a video thing for Cat and waited for it to be time. While I was waiting, Kimberly (a force for good on this earth, let me tell you) had, rather incredibly, pulled together these wild and fantastic laptop bags full of yarny presents. (And coffee syrup. But I listened to the podcast and now I know what to do with that.) There was one for me, and one for Jayme-the-wonder-publicist, who I know was very touched to receive a gift. It was so kind.
12:00. I walked to the centre of the Imagine mosaic and put down the sock. As I did so, all the knitters followed suit - and something happened.
Something moving. I don't know if it was just the power of the word "imagine" - if it was the tremendous sense of camaraderie or teamwork, I don't know if it was just the madness of it all...but there was something gloriously gleeful and spectacular about watching all of those knitters and all of those socks coming together. I got a little choked up. It was miraculous. We all laughed and nobody was a crazy person. As a matter of fact, the muggles were the crazy people...we outnumbered them. It was fascinating to watch them come around the corner and try and figure out what the hell was going on.
All of these socks (and one dishcloth) and all of these knitters from all over the place. It was insane. It was magic. It was perfect.
The whole time the cop kept looking over (we were breaking the "no more than 20 people gathering without permission" rule) and trying to figure out what it was, or if he should stop it or if.. it was, as someone said...the most civil disobedience in the world.
I don't know about the other knitters who were there, but I'm taking that afternoon to my grave as one of my happiest and most remarkable moments. It's a feeling I only get when I'm around that many kindred spirits, and really, if you are the sort of person who takes pictures of your sock in places, you are going to usually find it pretty hard to find kindred sprits among your fellow humans.
The sock pictures are something I usually do alone, because there's nobody quite as crazy as me. I've grown accustomed to the staring. Suddenly, one beautiful afternoon in Central Park...everybody was as crazy as me, and in one hysterical perfect moment, we were all among our people.
I started to walked away reluctantly at the end of it...headed for about 14 big surprises, and someone called me back and showed me the plaque on the back of one of the benches. The benches all have dedications on them.. honouring different people for different reasons. One of them stands out. One reads:
I wonder who Sandy Sue was...and I wonder if she ever knit a sock right there...in Central Park. Imagine.
Tomorrow, part two, in which I am surprised. Over, and over and over again. (It was a series of pretty big flipouts, actually.)
Ok. I'm sprinting. I've got the pins and my speech and some money and my black pants and my jeans and lots of knitting and I'm just bringing socks to knit...I think that's the thing, and I've got my plane ticket and my itinerary and crap...where was that list of phone numbers? Maybe I should bring my knitpicks needle thing so that I can cast on anything I want? Okay. The dishwasher broke and I'm going to New York and Joe's going to Montreal for a gig and Ken's coming to stay with the girls but he won't be here when a repair guy can come, so I guess I'm leaving it until Monday. (Better put a note on the dishwasher so someone else doesn't find out the way I did and end up having to watch buckets of white froth spew from the bottom of the door. You hear that Ken? Dishwasher. Do. NOT turn on. Also the coffeemaker has not survived Joe's latest backwash of grinds into its inner workings, but there's a bodum. You know.)
What am I forgetting? Who knows. I've got to leave in 10 minutes and Sam forgot her backpack and I'm not quite packed and I need my keys and to find my thumbdrive and do you think the hotel will have a printer? Never mind. Don't look at me...I'm a mess.
The represent page has been updated again.
Johanna has a very special bonus for knitters. She has arranged with FIT and Ann Denton (a Knitting Proffessor at FIT - a knitting professor! These people have their priorities straight) to take any interested knitters on a tour of the FIT machine knitting labs, look in on a class...that sort of thing. Details are under "tour guide" on the represent page. Do take advantage of this. Very cool.
Amy tells you what to do with your car at the various events and fun stuff this weekend. (This is a great idea.)
Katy added a tour that she'll run on the weekend if you like.
Good luck intrepid knitters. I'll be on the street in NYC looking for you this afternoon. (If I can find my shoes....how the hell did I lose my shoes?)
Remember yesterday when I showed you the gansey and told you that I was done the back and was working on the front?
No. I screwed up. I was holding the thing up yesterday to show my mother-in-law how clever I was for putting Joe's initials on it (in case he is ever lost at sea) and how I had put them in the traditional spot on the front when I noticed that I had put the initials on the back.
Well, no. Technically I put the initials on what I intended to be the front but then I knit it into the back and now.... Now I need to knit the front to be the back and yank back the back and make it into the front. (I checked with Joe about how he feels about having his initials over his right bum cheek, but he was somewhat negative about having any sort of writing on or near his arse.)
This turn of events ticked me off enough that the gansey was smartly abandoned for a new sweater.
Handpainted merino boucle with wee slubs from School Products - NYC.
But I felt so guilty about starting a new sweater for me while the gansey was glaring at me that I ditched it for socks.
I may respond poorly to emotion in knitting.
A lot of you emailed me to tell me that Amazon had told you that there was a delay in shipping the book until May 23. This is an big Amazon lie based on some weird order vs shipping thingie. (They explained it to me but I don't quite understand.) The upshot is that the book will be there very soon and will ship soon. In the meantime for you low patience types, there will definitely be books available...the first in the world I think, at FIT on Thursday. I'm going to spend some time in the afternoon pre-signing them.
New yarn crawls, including a baby friendly one, clearer directions to the bluestocking free pattern, a guide to knitter friendly restaurants...and more are over on the represent page.
Am I missing anything? Man. Are we going to freak out the muggles. I fly to NYC tomorrow morning...I'll try to post before I go yarn shopping. Almost time. How exciting.
I can't even tell you how hard I am working at avoidance today. The Represent Event (I'm a poet and I didn't even know it) is four days away and I am having second thoughts. I am freaking out. I am deeply worried. I phoned Jayme-the-wonder-publicist this morning and told her that I wasn't coming. That I'd thought it over and it looked like just bags of fun...but that I was afraid I was going to have to stay here. Good luck though.
I was only half kidding. I'm still writing a speech for that evening (giving a speech to this many people makes me so nervous that I can't hardly type. What the hell were we thinking...750 knitters?) I totally have no pants. How does this always come down to pants? I would love to have a significant day in my life not marked by the search for pants and a necessary hard look at my arse. I swear. One of these times I am just going to wear a pair of jeans. I am. Maybe this time. Jeans and a tee shirt and a sweater and the whole New York scene can bite me. (May we please have a moment to fully embrace the irony that it may be an appearance at the FASHION Institute that finally pushes me to revert to my usual unkempt appearance?) My hair is....well. It's my hair. The unco-operativeness and inability to control it is implied. I have to go shopping for a belt so my pants (if I do wear jeans) don't fall down as I walk to the stage...my bra is no longer lifting, never mind separating and I am just waiting now to get a huge and obvious pimple on my forehead to round out my dread.
Naturally, since I need to write a speech, get a haircut, buy pants, a belt and a bra, pack and organize the daylights out of the family and the house so they can keep it together while I'm gone all before Wednesday...
I'm knitting. (I finished the Bohus Guld. It's blocked and beautiful and I love it. It fits like I had dreamed and it's the best thing I own right now. I'd show you pictures but it's snowing today and too wet to go out and too dark to take pictures inside. Tomorrow, if the weather is better.) The gansey was pulled from its resting place and I worked on it until I came to the place where I have to begin the neckhole.
I need to stop here and hold it up to Joe and measure the width and depth of his neck. This gansey will have saddle shoulders, so I need now to decide what the centre motif of the sleeves will be, since that's what will run across the top of the shoulder. However wide that is, I subtract it from the front and back and that messes with my neckhole. Plus, Joe told me last night that he doesn't want the neck too big - or too small. That he really wants the neck exactly right. That odd necks really bug him. He wondered what he should do if he didn't like the neck. Should he tell me? Could I take it out and knit it again if it was too big or too small or too wide or too deep?
Seriously. I stared some more. I've lock washed this fleece. Then I carded it all. Then I spun it all into singles, then I plied it into dk weight three ply (THREE PLY) then skeined it, I washed it to set the twist, I wound it into balls and I started knitting, designing and researching a traditional gansey on the freakin' fly. It is taking forever. It is a bucket of work. It is an homage to my stinking love for him.
What should he do if he doesn't like the neck when I'm done?
I chose my words very carefully, to be sure that I was understood.
"What you should do Joe, if the neck is not right when I am finished knitting this gansey...is Pretend. Fake it. Wear it every day for the rest of your life with pride and humility and never speak, for one second of any moment you have left on this earth, of any dissatisfaction you might have, in any way, with your HAND SPUN, HAND KNIT GANSEY."
PS: New stuff has been added to the Represent page. New tour guides, a sit and knit in a restaurant to kill time between events...a free sock pattern, a party in Australia (without me. Bummer.) and an address to mail hats to for the Pittsburgh event and the Victoria event.)
In addition to all of that? Jayme-the-wonder-publicist has arranged with the craft yarn council for everyone who comes to the event in NYC to get a bag with yarn and needles to knit squares for Warm Up America. I hear it's wool. This just keeps getting better. Free yarn. Nice one Jayme.
I was going to write about this on Monday, but today is suddenly the right day. As most of you know, I choose a fine Canadian sock yarn to see the world with each book. (The first time it was Koigu, the second time it was Fleece Artist.) That yarn becomes the travelling sock, the sock that meets knitters, soaks up their knitting mojo, cheers on other socks and poses with everything local and interesting for the duration of a whole book tour, which in my universe, usually spans until the next book comes out. I knit a round or two on the socks every time I do something interesting or go somewhere neat and I stretch out the pair. I've been thinking for the last little while about what yarn I would choose...it needed to be Canadian and it needed to be very beautiful, since both you (if you're planning on still reading the blog) and I are going to be seeing a lot of it over then next while. I rooted through the stash, I pondered the possibilities...and then it came to me. I have two skeins of Painted Yarns merino two ply that are unbearably beautiful, and they have been weighing on me heavily, since I knew the dye-mistress, Virginia van Santen was not at all well...and not dyeing anymore.
As a matter of fact, I knew that Virginia was terminally ill with cancer. I loved this yarn, but I didn't know how to use it. How do you use yarn that was handpainted by a woman who won't ever make more? What do you have to knit out of it to honour that sort of legacy? My angst was compounded by knowing she was one of us. I didn't know Virginia, other than virtually, but she was a blogger, a commenter, a knitter and a member of our community. What can you knit to do that justice?
A pair of travelling socks. That's what. I wrote away to make sure that Virginia would like that...that she would think it was charming rather than dorky, that she would be pleased, rather than freaked out by the nomination. I got the go from a friend in touch with Virginia and I put my two skeins out on the counter to choose. There was Spring Greens and June Gardens.
I was torn. Both are beautiful. I pondered and pondered, planning on making a decision Monday morning when I posted about deciding to use the yarn, making a big plan to take the yarn places that Virginia couldn't go. Taking the yarn to knitters she couldn't have time to meet...to adventures every yarn should have. Tough call. I wanted it to be a lot of fun for Virginia to watch the yarn travel around, slowly becoming socks.
Sadly, I opened my mail this morning to learn that Virginia had passed away today, gently, with love and before I could take any of her yarn anywhere.
Somehow, it doesn't feel too late. I picked the spring greens, for spring is rebirth, fresh starts and something new from the cold of a long winter...
... and I cast on.
I hope the legacy Virginia left, her words on her blog, every beautiful thing she made with her two hands, and all of us knitters slipping her beautiful yarns between the fingers of our hands does something to comfort those who will miss her most.
Safe Journey Virginia. Thanks for the yarn.
1. The Bohus is finished, except for sewing up the hem, which I will get done today. My love for it is as yet undimmed, and even having to sew up a hem enchants me.
2. I didn't finish it because Joe surprised me by taking me here last night (out to dinner too. I think that the bedroom gratefulness train is going to keep on rolling for a while.) If you are in Toronto and you have nowhere to go tonight? You should totally go. Totally.
A traditional trio (piano, violin, cello) plays the Shubert, then several pop musicians riff off of it. Brilliant.
3. My brother Ian went winter camping in Killarny Provincial Park this last week (I know. Just that idea is crazy talk) and sent me this picture this morning of his sock.
I think I may have completely converted my family so that they provide me with sock photos as blog fodder without even thinking about it. Ian said the socks kept his feet very warm, but would like to share the tip that snowshoeing with a marathon runner is an exceptionally stupid thing to do unless you are also a marathoner. Good tip.
4. I put the plan for the NYC launch on its own page so it's easier for me to update and you to find.
5. I started the STR sock club sock. It looks great on...
It's not just me...right?
A writers life does not pass in calendar months or years... instead, one marks ones place by where you are in a project. Beginning a book, near deadline, submitted, on tour...These are phases, and they matter more than something as trivial as the actual date. (Further to this, the actual date in publishing is seldom relevant. Things happen later and earlier than the dates all the time. The dates mean nothing. Let go of the dates.) There are three times in a publishing cycle when a writers life is particularly difficult. (At least for me. There may be writers out there with higher self esteem who don't suffer as much.)
1. The last weeks "on deadline". This is a bad time for obvious reasons. You are overworked, delirious, sleep-deprived and weird. Worse than that, you do not deserve the sympathy of others because it is nobody's fault but your own that you procrastinated and are suffering.
2. The week in between handing in a manuscript and waiting to hear from your editor. I personally think that there should be a law that they have to read it as soon as they get it and then phone you right away, even if it's the middle of the night. (You'll be awake anyway.) Hanging around the house waiting to find out if your book sucks (which you secretly believe anyway) is a terrible time and really tarnishes the shine on the "manuscript submitted" glow, and, in this writers opinion, is inhumane. I'm thinking about dropping the next manuscript off personally so I can stand over the editors desk and say "No, you'll read it now. I'll wait."
3. The week(s) in between when you get your finished copy of the book, but it hasn't arrived in stores yet. There is no feeling like this one. On the one hand, dudes...it's a book! There is no feeling like holding a book you wrote. None. It still leaves me breathless and unbelieving, sort of like blocking lace.
On the other hand...you have a week alone with it to consider its flaws. You read it over and over...was that funny? Am I right about that? Was I too hard on swatches? (I'm pretty sure that you can't be too hard on swatches. They are filthy little liars.)
You admire how absolutely fantastic the illustrations are. You wonder if your words can possibly live up to how beautiful the book is. You reel with astonishment that combining the elements of yarn, chocolate, coffee and tears could turn out anything like this...
And you wait. You wait for other people to see it. People who aren't your mother or your husband and won't lie to you. You wait to find out that Amazon shipped, or you wait for your launch, when a whole bunch of people will see it for the first time right in front of you. You wait to find out if it's ok, or if this is the book that means that you have to leave town and change your name to Magna O'Toole... living in Fiji and never knitting again so you don't blow your cover.
It's a rough, insecure week to live, especially if you have a vivid imagination.
You feel lucky and hopeful and really, really proud and scared and worried and blessed and ....well. You wonder what sort of an idiot writes a travel guide to the land of knitting. You wonder if this is the one that gets you mocked publicly. That muggles just thought the knitting thing was "cute" until now...but now they are going to think it's stupid. Totally stupid. This is the one that's really going to sound lame at parties. Then you recover a little bit and think, screw this. I'll throw my own parties. Yeah. That's it, my own damn parties and there will be nothing but knitters and we'll show the muggles that this isn't stupid (or at least if it is stupid it doesn't matter because there are so damn many of us that they had better play nice, buddy.... and get us some chairs and don't talk to me like I'm cute.) Knitting is a perfectly valid topic and pretty interesting so get out of my damn way because the knitters are having some big parties. Then you cheer up a big and that cramped up feeling goes away because Dudes! You have a party to plan and it's totally distracting.
March 22nd - NYC - Represent at The Fashion Institute of Technology in the Haft Auditorium, which is in the C building on 27th street just off of 7th avenue. 6:00pm
The sock picture:
Bring your travelling sock (every sock is a travelling sock this day) to Central Park, Strawberry Fields (Where the "Imagine" mosaic is) at 12 noon on the 22nd. I thought about doing it at "Sheep Meadow" but it's not open yet. I think Strawberry Fields is our best bet. We shall be very quiet and well behaved, since it is a "quiet zone". If there are too many of us to be reasonably quiet (or if we have trouble being well behaved), then we'll shuffle off nearby, maybe the fountain at Cherry Hill?
For: Ladies and Gentlemen who need cashmere. Ladies and Gentlemen who will enjoy the thrill of strolling by the windows of high fashion at skyscraper prices on the Upper East Side. Ladies and Gentlemen who want to end up at the Metropolitan Museum. Ladies Who Lunch.
The Driving Tour, aka The-Manhattanites-Have-No-Idea-What-They’re-Missing
For: Those who are in Queens or Long Island, looking for the slow road into town. Alternatively, someone with a yarn-loving, car-driving friend in town and you want to hit the places with the Mega-Inventory. In New York, the further you are from Times Square/Wall Street, the cheaper the real estate, the bigger the yarn stores. And the bigger stores can afford to carry more yarn and less-expensive yarn.
The Intrepid Brooklynite Tour
For: Those of us who know our way around a bus. And everybody else who’s been curious about what’s so cool about Brooklyn. Seriously, I can’t believe you don’t know yet.
Should you wish to join up with a yarny tour guide, the volunteers are getting back to me about where and when to meet them. Watch this space.
I'll list them here:
and you can contact them. If you would like to be a tour guide, send me an email or a comment.
The hats are a way of turning our numbers into something awesomely helpful. If you are coming to an event (I updated the tour page, Cleveland, Lexington and Northampton have been added, and Jayme-the-wonder-publicist gave me some details about times and places and that sort of thing.) you can bring the hat, or mail it to an event closer to you. If you are not going to have an event closer to you then you can mail the hat to be your little do-gooding representative in NYC.
Two places to mail it (Many fine and wonderful people volunteered for this. I love them, but am only listing these few because they were willing to publish their addresses, which, frankly is way, way easier for me. My apologies, and know that I love you.)
Mail your hats to:
New York, New York
(She says not to forget the "10th floor")
or you can mail or drop off the hats at Knitty City
208 W. 79th St.
New York, NY
I'll likely need a volunteer to help K and Pearl move the hats from those locations to the event at FIT, and then to give them to NY Cares the next day. Anyone?
Afterparties (Or before parties, or next day parties, or....)
I'm going to leave these casual. If you are having a get together at a restaurant or bar afterwards (This especially freaks the muggles. Knitters gathering in large public groups with alcohol? Very upsetting.) and you want to hang out with other knitters, send me an email or comment with the details and I'll post it here. Then the knitters can contact you and you can warn the bar/restaurant appropriately. ( I wouldn't tell them knittters were coming. I would just make reservations for a "group". Let the element of surprise work for you.)
Other ways to fill NYC up with knitters and freak the muggles out?
If you have an idea or an event, let me know and I'll list it here. (Assuming it isn't morally or socially reprehensible, like "smoke crack nude and knit in public" or something like that. )
Good enough? Anybody got anything else? Did you remember to pre-board by emailing Jayme if you're coming a long way or can't wait in line? (email to : publicityATstoreyDOTcom replacing the AT with @ and the DOT with a ".")
Now, I await your directions, enthusiasm and proposed adventures. I've got some very exciting knitting to do. See this?
It's a purl ridge on the Bohus, a turning ridge. That means that now I'm knitting the hem. (I'm substituting that for ribbing.) That's the last thing I do before there's a sweater. I can't believe I've almost finished. What a pleasure it's been. I'm thrilled that it's almost finished and disappointed to see it coming to an end. Sort of like the book. Party on dudes.
Done...and for the record? You people are an impatient bunch. (As Colleen pointed out in the comments, I do need to live a life to have one to write about.) Get a hold of yourselves.
I spent all day yesterday taking care of details and cleaning up. I rather thought that the surprise for Joe would be totally blown if he walked up to the house and saw a burned bag of sawdust on the front garden, a ladder inside the front door, painting stuff piled in the kitchen and a fine layer of pine floor dust over every surface in the house. He had said that he would be home around dinnertime, which in our home is round about seven. I struggled with the cleaning and laundry all day...trying to make the whole house welcoming and not smelling like charred sawdust and melted garbage bag. (You would be surprised how much that smell lingers.) As I worked I wondered how to spring it on him.
A. Drag him upstairs as soon as he arrived and make him admire the whole thing. (Not bad, but smacks of impatience, reduces the element of surprise and does pressure the man a little more than necessary.)
B. Install myself in the bedroom (in the bed) to round out the perfection of the room. (This was rejected because once I thought about it, I realized that this was going to be too distracting for Joe. Very little chance that he would notice and praise the new outlets if I didn't have my clothes on, and besides, I didn't want to wrinkle the new duvet cover.)
C. Go into the kitchen and make dinner, allowing him to wander freely through the house and discover the renovation for himself.
I decided that was perfect and I cleaned and fussed and smoothed sheets and watched the clock all day. You wanna see the room while we wait?
See that big blank spot over the bed? Joe and I are going to go together to the AGO gift shop and buy a wonderful poster for there. I thought that Joe might like a little input in the room. Notice also, if you please, the "decorator pillows" on the bed. After careful consultation with decorating magazines, books and websites, as well as observing the rooms of others, I have come to realize that it is the presence of extra pillows on the bed that really makes a room. Extraneous throw pillows are the definitive divider between a decorated room and a regular room. (This fits right in with my idea that the difference between "getting dressed" in the morning and putting on an "ensemble" is accessories. Take a look at the next room or woman that you see and think are really put together. Accessories. The room will have pillows, the woman - a belt. )
A new bookcase replaces the big white thing (repurposed for yarn storage in the tiny room next door to the bedroom) curtains cover the closet opening, the now white door has hooks for our robes and towels hung on it...and though you can't see it I stripped the metal latchbox for the door of its 100 years of paint and made it pretty again. (I also hung that funky light from ikea. My auntie Yvonne gave it to me for Christmas and I derive an unreasonable amount of pleasure from it. I can't explain why.)
Even the cheap tv and old dresser look great if you whack a new shelf above it and put your crap in an oval faux leather box.
(I learn so much watching an obsessive amount of HGTV.)
When I was done, I tested the bed and waited for Joe.
(I got back up...see point B above about the futility of a woman on a bed being able to point out any details to her husband.)
Joe came in a little early and I was practically shaking with nervous excitement. Would he notice the floor?
Would he notice anything at all? I mean, I was sure he would notice, but would he gush? Would he be impressed? What would he think? He came in and dumped his luggage, then went into the kitchen. We talked for a minute and I resisted the urge to say "Don't you think you want to go to the bedroom?" (Partly because I didn't want to blow the surprise and partly because I didn't want to lead him on.) Then he went to the computer and sat down. Then he checked email. Then I thought about hitting him with my roasting pan. GO UPSTAIRS DUDE. I stood in the kitchen sending psychic waves. GoUpstairsGoUpstairsGoUpstairs. Nothing. I asked him if he had to go to the bathroom, since you can spot the bedroom from the bathroom. He didn't. I asked him if he wanted to put his suitcase away. He didn't. I asked him if he would get me something from upstairs....He said he would in a while. I almost screamed. GOUPSTAIRSNOWFORTHELOVEOFWOOLICANTSTANDITANOTHERSECOND
He didn't go.
I finally snapped. I asked him to go upstairs. I told him to take the suitcase up. I said please. I said to go to the bedroom. He looked at me funny, realization dawning slowly over his face. Joe gave me one of those looks that says "I don't know what's so important to you about the upstairs but I can see that the very survival of our marriage hinges on me taking the suitcase to the bedroom so I'll go.", and he went. He stopped to admire the fact that I had hung a picture in the hall (What the hell. I had the drill out.) and I thought that bode extremely well for the renovation. He walked down the hall, paused for a second when he saw that the light coming from our bedroom was a different colour, then walked all the way in. He stopped. Looked around. He opened and closed his mouth once...then looked at me and said (and this is a direct quote for which I cannot be held accountable)
"Holy Shit Steph."
Then he looked at everything. The outlets, the floor, the trim, the curtains the frames, the everything. He admired the bamboo in the square vase. He noticed that we laid 1/4 round and acknowledged that must have been very difficult. He loved the bookcase. He was impressed that I played with electricity and noticed that the ceiling was much better. He loved it. He gently mocked the decorator pillows (which I totally deserve...) then he read all of the blog entries about what I had been up to, sympathized about the sawdust fire and said it was the perfect white and what the hell is decorator white anyway, and then...at the risk of being indelicate, for while I am willing to share most everything with you my gentle readers, and I think that the business of happy adults is nothing to be ashamed of, I still believe that there are those things which are best imagined and implied...I can tell you that he closed the door (noticing that I had refurbished the metal latchbox and knob) and enthusiastically thanked me in a manner becoming my effort and station. I accepted the accolades. I asked him later, when Ken was here and we were making dinner and talking about the renovation, what his favourite thing was. (Ken, Captain-freakin-smartass asked if it was "answering a thousand questions about what his favourite thing was?" I ignored him beautifully.)
Joe replied that his favourite thing was that he had a beautiful new bedroom, a stunning floor and a restful and tranquil room to retire to when the rigours of the day and parenting teens got to be too much, and that he had gotten it all without picking up a drill, vacuuming anything or discussing which shade of paint to get until he hated the whole thing.
I think he loves it.
Tomorrow, the Representing Plan. We're going to get this bad boy rolling, just so long as I don't have to sand anything.
(PS. I have to tell you that after this whole glorious triumph, the universe sought a little balance, as it always does. Last night I tossed my crowning glory, the decorator pillows, from the bed onto the floor. This morning, Millie-bad cat had expressed her opinion of them....on them. Duly noted, cats hate change. Gotcha.)
1. I went to Ikea with Joe's mum (who is totally in on the whole deception. Everyone is. Joe's going to flip out tomorrow when he gets home.)
We got a new bookcase, new pillows, curtains and a white cabinet door that was $5 from the scratch and dent section. Then we put it all in her tiny little car somehow and drove it home.
2. Ken and Rachel helped me turn the cabinet door into something useful.
We mounted 2X4's on the wall and attached 1/2 of a flush mounting bracket to it. (I had no idea that there was such a thing until Rachel and I scoured a hardware store looking for "some kind of bracket that would mount flush to the wall. Hey....look! A flush mounting bracket.!" It's a wonder we weren't beaten with our own lumber.)
Big props to Ken here, he stopped Rachel and I from trying to pound those plastic plug things into wood. (The learning curve is a little steep sometimes.)
3. We drilled holes in the back of the door.
4. We mounted the thing on the wall.
See that ? It's almost a headboard. (It's also the definitive proof you've all been waiting for that I should have my access to all of Debbie Travis' shows banned, but you've probably been suspecting that all week. ) It's level and sturdy and everything.
5. I sewed the hems of the Bohus sleeves...now both finished, since I've been knitting in the evening after the painting and stuff is all done.
I was thinking that this was the perfect point in the sweater to have something else to blog about, since without sawdust fires, paint colours and drills, all I would have is another picture of another days worth of more grey stockinette. (Timing is everything.)
6. I assembled some foam, padding and fabric..
and I stapled it to the door.
Now it's a headboard I think, and not just a whack kitchen cupboard crudely nailed to a wall.
7. I hemmed some curtains.
A thousand million thanks to Patience who gave me this Stitch Witchery stuff a while ago when I complained that I always have to hem my pants....It saved me dragging the sewing machine up.
8. My new sock club stuff came.
9. I painted frames to match the trim.
(They used to be purple.)
10. Tonight is the last night I sleep on the chesterfield. Even just knowing this should make me less random tomorrow. Almost finished!
I feel like superwoman. (Rachel H. rocks it pretty hard too.)
Rachel H. and I have installed new outlets in the walls, since the old ones were gross. Neither of us have done it before, so before we turn the power back on and electrocute ourselves or burn the house down...Could some electricity savvy knitter tell me if we have it right? (I have an idea that electricity is not like knitting and there is no room for "close enough")
This is the right side. I attached two black wires to two gold screws.
This is the left side. I attached two white wires to two silver screws, and attached a bare copper wire (that I am pretty sure is the ground) to a green screw at the bottom.
Everything is nice and tight. There was one outlet where there were only three wires...but I just attached them like the others, only...you know. Less.
So? What say you? Power back on? Change some wires? Get Rachel to stand behind me with a wooden broom handle?
Ps. How do you get the whole thing back in the box? Do you have to be careful about what touches what?
So I slog myself over to the paint store (and slog really is the right word) conveniently located just a block from my house and I stagger up to the counter, broken and beaten by the fresh hell that is home renovation and I say to the chipper and fresh faced young man behind the desk:
"I would like some trim paint please."
The dude regards me with a keen and excited eye. Helping people get paint is obviously very important to him. Having trim paint has become pretty important to me, so we're simpatico.
"A litre or a bucket?"
"Latex or oil?"
"Semi-gloss or gloss?"
" White please."
While we had been ticking along at a good clip, the paint guy and I, this is a stopper. He stares at me for a second, like he can hardly believe my choice, and then he says "Which white?"
"White" I say firmly. "Just ordinary white." I try to make my face an expression that represents the possibility that this will be fast and easy.
The paint guy gives me a look that says he clearly thinks I have no idea about the importance of the decision I am about to make, and asserts loudly "There is no ordinary white. You can't just have white. You have to choose your white. The whites are all different."
He begins then, to pull quarts of white paint off of the shelf and line them up in front of me. Presumably they are all different. As he pulls them and puts them down... he names them:
The vague headache I have had all day begins to pound. I rub my head and try some yoga breathing. "Dude....I just want white."
He ignores me and three more cans hit the table.
I want to scream. Plain white! Why are none of these named Plain White? What has happened to the world when a woman can't just say she wants a freakin' can of white paint! I take a deep breath and say "Look. I just want white. Simple, straightforward white. White with nothing going on. White with no name. Just white dude. Just put a can of white paint in the bag and ring it up. I'm a woman on the edge. White paint. In the bag. Please. You pick."
He looks at me like I am refusing to make a life and death decision about a truckload of babies and kittens. He looks at me like I don't understand anything at all. He looks at me like I don't get paint and its influence on our happiness as humans. Then he takes a deep breath and says "I can't pick. How could I pick your white? I mean, I don't even know your main colour? Is it cool? Warm? Do you have a lot of trim, a little? What's your colour theme in the house? Which white is your other trim? I can't possibly just randomly pick a white!"
He resists the urge to tack on what he really wants to say, which is clearly something about how I shouldn't even be allowed in a paint store because I do not respect paint the way that I should. When he is done, his face is a little red and he looks slightly breathless.
A second sales clerk stands behind him, ready to put down anything that looks like it might come to fisticuffs.
I breath. I think about the last few days. My head throbs. My shoulders ache. The twitch over my eye goes off again. I inhale pink...exhale blue and say:
"Dude. Please put a can of plain, ordinary, no-frills, non-decorator, not antique white paint in the bag and ring it up. Please."
The guys face gets even redder. He opens his mouth and then closes it again. He inhales. He surveys the spread of Angel White, Berkshire White, Snow White, Antique White, Decorator White, Ultra-White and Vanilla White spread out before him, and there is a terrible pause...a pause where I realize that he can't do it. These whites matter too much to him. In that same moment he looks at me and he realizes that I've got that "I'm so crazy from renovating that I can't possibly give a flying crap about the whites and if you make me pick I will cry in your store" face on...and it hits us both that we are hopelessly, completely deadlocked....And that's when it happens.
The clerk standing behind him reaches over, elbows Captain paint shade out of the way, picks up a can of white paint, puts it in the bag, steps bravely forward to stand in front of me, shoulders back, exuding confidence, smiles a disarming smile and says
"That will be $17. 85 please."
My relief was complete. I took it home, I put it on the trim and I have no idea at all what white it is.
I swear it just looks white to me.
I am flagging. The enthusiasm with which I approached the renovation of the bedroom has been knocked off of me by the reality of my situation and I have a new life goal. I would like to earn enough money in my life that I never, ever have to paint another ceiling. Ever. It was suggested to me last night that buying less yarn in my life would make this possible sooner, and so horrific was the painting of the ceiling that I am considering it as an option, which says a lot about the despair it caused me.
We have high ceilings, and in the bedroom a previous owner of the house chose to whack acoustic tile up there to cover damaged plaster. (I briefly toyed with the idea of taking it off and slapping 1/4 " drywall up, which is really the right thing to do there, but came fortunately to my senses before I found myself seriously in the weeds, standing in an even more trashed bedroom with a spackle knife, 4 sheets of drywall and a drill, trying to put the shards of my broken life back together. Narrow miss.) I wasn't even sure that the bedroom ceiling technically needed painting, but my friend Linda pointed out that it's probably the one ceiling you actually look at, and my brother Ian asked how I would feel if I finished this whole room and lay in bed staring up at it thinking "Damn. I can't believe I wimped out on the ceiling." Dude brought me over his big tub of paint, I carefully covered the new floor (one coat of polyurathane on it) and just did the thing. No half measures...right?
As soon as I hoisted the roller over my head I regretted it. I'm only 5 foot tall, and I am not tremendously strong. My shoulders immediately lodged a complaint. My biceps (such as they are) began to burn. My neck ached from looking up...paint fell in my hair. I would have stopped, I really would, but it turns out that the ceiling really needed painting.
Do you see that? I swear to you, up until the moment that roller touched the surface I would have sworn on a stack of whatever you hold holy that that ceiling was white. Totally. As grossed out as I am that my once white ceiling had, at some point in the last 20 years become "taupe" I was at least relieved that I was killing myself to make a real difference. (I would have stopped if it wouldn't have been so obvious. ) I did two coats, and I may have shed a few desperate tears through the last one.
Ceiling done (praise wool and never again) I cleaned up the dropcloths and the paint and the roller and the brush and the pan, (is is just me or is the *&^%ing cleanup on these things that's the real pig? I could stand the work, but scrubbing this crap over and over is soul-sucking) and got on the floor to sand the first coat of polyurathane. (To answer a question from yesterday, it's the water based one and dries in 3 hours. Much less toxic and smelly than it's old fashioned relative.)
The first coat apparently raises the grain (which is some sort of woodworking term for "this is going to be awful") and you have to sand it back smooth again before you put on the other coats.
Again, this process was something that sucked so hard that I would have been furious if it hadn't turned out to make such a big and noble difference. Ian convinced me to do it properly, down on my hands and knees so that I could sand with one hand and use the other hand to feel the floor for any spot that was still rough. (That McPhee tendency toward perfectionism through back breaking manual labour is a little apparent here.) Finished, I vacuumed the room (again) and applied the second coat of polyurathane. (I may have cried a few brave tears here too.) When I was done, I staggered downstairs, ate the dinner the girls had made and then lay on the chesterfield, practically blind with exhaustion. If I could figure a way out of this at this point, I would totally take it. I was so tired that all I managed was a few centimetres of the Bohus before I fell asleep sitting up with my needles still in my hands.
This morning my arms are still burned out and my back has pain in places where I didn't even know I had places. I'm so wiped I can't even tell if I'm hungry or not, and I'm starting to wonder if this was really such a good idea. Lucky for me, yesterday should have been the worst of it, and today my goal is to prime all the trim (there is a rather Victorian amount) and get the last coats of urathane on the floor. I am certain that being done with this floor will restore much of the joy to my life. It does look awesome.
The last job for today?
Pick a colour.
First of all. HOLY *&^%$#@!!!!
The noise! The mess! The dust! The smell!
The guys showed up two and a half hours late and I was already beside myself. This reno is on a short leash, organizationally speaking, and there is no room for people to mess with my plan. These guys show up and they drag in all of this absolutely huge noisy equipment and start hunting around for somewhere to plug it in.
"Hey lady? Where's your stove?" Stove? Turns out that the huge noisy machine needs a special kind of plug. I've got a gas stove, so no luck there. Next try?
"Hey lady? Where's your dryer?" Oh dear. I have a gas dryer. Next try? They lop the plug off the sander and hook this brobdingnagian beast of a thing directly (as in with bare wires) into the electric box in the basement, WITHOUT SHUTTING THE POWER OFF. Now, I am married to a man who talks blithely about how many volts he can take, but Joe would never, ever, ever put a screwdriver into the Main Electric Box without shutting off the power. Ever. I was agog, and completely beside myself. I stood near to the guy (wooden broom in my hand so that I could knock his seizing body from the box when the ten million volts of pure power coursed through him) and tried vainly to dissuade him from this action.
"Dude, isn't that a little bit dangerous? Sticking that there screwdriver into the electric box without shutting it off? Isn't that the main power? Isn't that a lot of volts? I can turn it off. Why don't I do that. I'll get a flashlight for you and we'll shut it off before you stick any more screwdrivers into it and then I won't have to call 911 when you totally electrocute yourself right here where it's going to be trouble to get your carcass up the stairs. Yes. Hold one. I'll just get that flashlight. Oh my. Was that sparks? Just give me a minute. Look! Here's my flashlight. Why don't you take that screwdriver out... "
I just kept babbling and he kept wiring and the thing was hooked up. I immediately turned my attention toward being concerned about the disconnection process, but was distracted by the noise. I was unprepared for the noise. The noise was like a bee the size of an elephant was in therapy for anger management in my bedroom. Periodically, the machine shuddering the whole house would shut off and random cursing would drift down along with clouds and clouds of dust. The dust... I cannot even speak of the dust.
Just when I had adjusted to the dust and the noise and the swearing, one of the three guys went sprinting down my stairs and out the front door with what seemed to be something on fire. When I responded (quickly and with a great deal of anxiety, to the smoke pouring through the dust) and enquired about the possibility of a fire, I was told not to worry, since the fire was "Just a small size one and only for a little while." The three guys regarded me with an eye that indicated that they felt that I worry (about things like fires and electrocution) way, way too much. I would have had a lie down at that point, except of course, I have no bed.
At this point, this blog entry should have ended with little more than this. It should be that all I can say now is that they packed up and left me with what was left of my nerves, which they did...right after depositing two big garbage bags of sawdust squarely on the front garden.
I regarded those two bags with some sadness, since it's a week until garbage day and those bags will sit there being an eyesore until then, but unbeknownst to me, the bags had more drama than that. Inside one of those bags was a small fire, left over from when the sander bag had been on fire earlier in the day.
I realized that the bag was full of smouldering sawdust when I came back from buying urathane and noticed that the smell of burning sawdust was stronger outside the front door than inside it. (That was saying something, since the smell in the house is a powerful thing.) I lifted the bag and the bottom fell out, and there was a heap of smoking, reeking sawdust. I poured some water on it and went inside, disaster averted. About an hour later, a neighbour knocked on the door to ask me if I meant to be burning a garbage bag full of sawdust in my garden? I doused it again. Considerably more pissed off this time, and (as you can well imagine) I had a great deal of trouble finding my mental happy place.
An hour later, Joe's sister Kelly came by, coming into the house, discussing urathane for a while, helping me with a thing or two, then casually asking (I must have looked a little edgy) if I was aware that the bags on the garden were on fire? I went back out, and sure enough, there it was. Burning away...smoke issuing into the stupid cold night air. This time I was determined, as well as using language unbecoming a knitter. I broke open the bag, poured water on it, and then Rachel (who had turned up to bring me beer, she's a woman who knows what you really need at the end of a long day of floor trauma) helped me shovel it from one bag to the other, looking for any bit that was on fire and pouring water on the lot of it. We stood out there, freezing and stomping and pouring (and noticing that once it's 40 below even cold water from the tap steams outside) and I was not amused. I was furious...I was ranting inside my head (and perhaps a little outside my head) about incompetence and fires and houses that have newspaper stuffed in the walls and how that was a huge risk and how I Was. Not. Pleased and how this was a very difficult day and how there was nothing, not even the beer that could fix my attitude at this point ....when suddenly it hit me. I practically skipped into the house leaving Rachel standing in the cold, bewildered...
I grabbed my camera and ran back out beaming from ear to ear to grab this snap of Rachel H. She was freezing and really not at all amused (I am certain that in this picture she cannot feel her hands) that I was lengthening the time we would be in the elements, but I was completely gleeful. Didn't she get it?
MY LAWN IS A SAWDUST FIRE.
You can't make that up. It's a blog gimmee....it's freaking perfect. Who has a sawdust lawn fire? Seriously - how could you not blog it? It's an entry all by itself. Man. Couldn't be better. Practically writes itself. My joy is restored.
All said, the floor is much, much more beautiful than I thought it would be (totally worth the fire) and once it's got 4 (FOUR) layers of urathane on it it should only be more so...but dudes. The house is trashed. There is dust in the bathroom. Dust in the living room. Dust on the dishes in the cupboards in the kitchen. Dust, dust...dust. You will be relieved to know that there is not dust on the Bohus, since I was possessed of a swift intelligence when I saw the first of the dust coming and sealed it in a protective Ziplock. It may be the only non-dusty thing in the house.
Considering my track record on dusting...this much dust is an unfortunate (and likely permanent) turn of events.
Today: Get ceiling paint. Paint the ceiling. Sand the first coat of urathane on the floor. Put a second coat on. Buy more beer.
May the force be with me, and if you're walking by my house today, do me a favour and toss a shovel full of snow on those bags, will ya? You can't be too careful. Sawdust is apparently very hard to put out.
Reminder to Joe: You are banned from the blog this week. Move along buddy. Lots of other sites to look at.
Our house is sort of crappy. When we moved in The house was total crap. It had been empty for some time, partly because it was crap, partly because it was next door to a building that had burned down (or mostly down, it was a danger and an eyesore, inhabited entirely by several large and bold families of skunks and racoons) and partly because the longer it was empty, the crappier it got. When we moved in, there was a hole in the kitchen wall that went clear to the outside. It was big enough for animals to come and go through...which they did. Only one room had been refinished, and the rest of this 120 year old heap was falling down. I did not buy it then because I saw the potential ( though it has turned out to have a little) but because a house with a racoon door in the kitchen, crumbling plaster and lathe and a view of a burned out hulk turned out to be the only house in my price range.
Over the years, much of the house has been fixed up. The wood printed linoleum in the living room was replaced by real wood, the crumbling walls were knocked down and drywalled - we got fancy pants upgrades, like electricity in every room and some insulation. (When we tore down our first wall we were stunned to discover that the only insulation in the walls was old newspapers. Great reading, but a poor force against the cold.) Something (even if it was just a good paint job and a new floor) has been done in every room, and it's not like now it's anything out of House Beautiful, but it isn't awful. I'm not ashamed of the house (much) anymore, and all the rooms are more or less ok. (When I clean them, which is a whole other issue.) Every room except ours. Once the racoon door was fixed, the master bedroom won the prize for the most craptastic room in the house.
I'm not sure when I stopped caring if that room was ok, but it might have been after the first time that I cleaned and organized it really well and realized that it was still crap. That nothing short of a major overhaul was going to fix it. Once I realized that it was a crap room, I started putting our crap there. It was a good match. Nobody saw the room except for Joe and I, so it didn't matter that it was crap.
Until now. Now, while Joe is gone over the next 5 days...I am going to de-crap our room. Refinish the floor (I have had the good sense to hire someone to do this -if he ever shows up. He's more than an hour late) repaint (that would be me) put up new drapes and fix things up (still me) so that we have a really nice room and it isn't the door you rush to close when people show up at your house.
With this goal in mind, I give you: The before pictures. This is the bedroom in it's natural resting state, except- you know. I cleaned up before I took the pictures. There's usually some knitting and abandoned coffee cups in there, not to mention the laundry.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Gee Steph, don't be to hard on the room. It's not that crappy." You're wrong. See the floor?
It's the original pine, but it's been painted (many times, in many different colours, not one of which matches the purple baseboards) and you can't hardly keep it clean it's so rough. That's one of the good spots. Notice that there is no outlet cover on the outlet? We got electricity in this room, but no cover.
Here's more of the craptastic floor (accented by the orange-yellow walls and the purple trim ) and demonstrating the extraordinarily gross foam insulation that we used to try and keep the wind from blowing in from the outside through that crack. (Turns out that old newspaper just wasn't doing its job.) The room was crap, so we never trimmed it. (This is getting embarrassing.)
Here's a view of how things are now.
I've pulled out all the furniture I can move and cleaned up the floor as best I can. (I have left the mismatched shades in place for now, but they will be on their way out as soon as the floor is done.)
This is the view from the opposite side, showing the closet (which has no door...it wasn't there when we moved in and it's a non-standard door size, so replacing it has always been too expensive) the crappy Ikea bookcase (which I'm going to try and replace with something less crappy, we'll see how the money holds up) and the purple door with it's cracked and peeling paint. (Please ignore the large green birth ball in the closet. Those things are hell to store.)
Step one? Floor, although really, absolutely anything I do in this room would be a huge improvement.
(In which our intrepid knitter is anything but.)
I am certain, if you have been reading this blog for a little while, (or...if you have just dropped by for 35 seconds) that you may have begun to form an opinion that I move fast and may not be the most organized soul on the planet. (I may actually be in competition for "least organized woman alive" but you may have guessed that as well.) Today I'm going to try to pull together some loose ends.
1. The TSF/KWB total remains a work in progress. The total in the sidebar is current only through the 26th of December, as we I await the potential for data recovery on the hard drive that has all the rest of the emails on it. If that data can't be recovered we I will have to execute a plan I've been formulating to fix things up...but for this moment in time, we are waiting. I haven't forgotten, there is still much work to be done there....but for now we are waiting for the muses that rule technology to smile on me. Cross your needles.
2. I am going to try and go forward with the hats for the homeless part of the Represent tour. (I'm also going to try and do this whole thing in a way that doesn't explode into complete chaos.) After a great deal of personal reflection, I think the best thing to do is for me to find volunteers in NYC willing to accept the hats, to bring them to the event at FIT and to then drop them at a shelter afterwards. (I tried to figure out how I could handle it myself and it's just not possible. What was I thinking?) What I need to make that work is a couple of NYC knitters who would be willing to receive them. If you live in NYC, and you have an address that people could mail hats to (I would email your address to interested knitters, not put it on the blog, unless you wanted that...like if you were a yarn store or something...) could you email me or leave a comment to that effect?
(I also need "tour guides" for yarn shop crawls? Any social and welcoming knitters out there willing to take out-of-towner knitters under their wing?)
3. If you are going to be seeing me in your city, don't mail your hat(s). Save it for your local event, and we'll find a shelter in each city so that we can spread the love around.
4. I finished the ribwarmer
and love it to death. (That's snowflakes on it, not some novelty yarn thing.) It is not the apex of fashion, but neither am I, so I couldn't be happier that it is simply warm and useful and a very good shade of green.
(Elizabeth Zimmermann's Ribwamer, from Knitting Workshop, knit from 1.5 skeins of Fleece Artist "Country Wool" 100% wool - 175m to 100g, knit on 4.5mm needles, in a colour that has no name or number (like a lot of the Fleece Artist stuff) that I liberated from a sale bin in the basement of Romni Wools at a stupid cheap price and knew was destined for greatness.)
5. The Bohus is done to the waist and has one completed sleeve.
I chose not to knit the ribbing, but instead to knit to the length that I wanted, then purled a round to make a turning ridge, then knit about 3cm on a smaller size needle to make a hem that I'll turn under and sew down inside. I am pleased.
6. June 7th in Petaluma CA has been added to the list of stops I'll be making. Jayme-the-wonder-publicist continues to be on her game.
7. Joe is away for 5 days, (Joe, if you are reading this, stop now.) and because I have apparently been watching way too much While You Were Out, I have a plan. Since I do not have a tv crew, a carpenter and a designer to help me with this plan, the outcome should be rather unpredictable.
8. I am pretty upset about Starbuck, let me tell you.
Did I miss anything?
Well, it was a storm of decent size. Respectable snow and snow and snow followed by miserable freezing rain (which brought down a chunk of the tree in our backyard, though tree limbs are down all over the city) followed by rain and rain and rain. We didn't lose our power, though many did. Most of the city (including our neighbourhood) has buried electrical wires, and that helps a lot. This is the worst combination for a pedestrian city. The snow covers the sewers and creates dams, then it warms up a little and it starts to be freezing rain instead of snow, so then the city puts down salt to melt the ice, plus the snow starts to melt (helped by the salt) and then it changes to rain and then...
Slushflood. Not terrible, horrible flooding, but urban flooding that covers every single sidewalk in the city with inches of an icy slurry of slush and water, making getting around really rough. (If there is anyone in the city who has found a way to keep their feet both warm AND dry in this (insert expletive of your choice here), I would be interested in hearing it. All of my winter boots can't cope with the water, and all of my spring boots (that can handle the water) aren't warm enough for the slurry of ice.
My neighbour is seen here going up and down the street trying hard (as are many Torontonians) to find the street sewer under the snow and ice and open it so the water can drain before it freezes.
We tried for a good long time. We failed. I shovelled water for long enough to figure out that it was a losing game unless my neighbour could open the sewer, and he couldn't even find the sewer. All the neighbours out on their porches giving advice, some walking up and down, all with different techniques. Some were listening, some had long sticks for testing the road at intervals and some were convinced that they could remember where it was. (They were wrong.) Someone in this neighbourhood has got to put a damned flag on it in July or something. This happens every winter. I'd call the city and ask them, but in the wake of a storm like that they have bigger fish to fry than our wet sidewalk. Thwarted, I knit on the Bohus instead.
It was considerably uplifting. Sort of like my own little sunshine farm. I think I'm almost done the first sleeve. ( I thought I was before, but when I tried it on I was totally deluded. By a lot. Hope is an incredible thing. )
The kids are home today, two of them had a scheduled day off and Sam stayed put because, well....she's a pedestrian. We're supposed to get more snow later this afternoon and evening as the temperature drops....and that should be even less entertaining for all parties who failed to find their sewer as that 8 cm /3 inches of water freezes into a spectacular city wide skating rink. (Sam admits that she thinks this will be very, very fun. I have a terrible sense of balance and am less sure.)
In the interest of producing cheerfulness in the face of the two outside things I hate the most (cold and wet) I am going to bake cookies and eat as much of the batch as it takes to replace lunch and possibly dinner and consider how very, very happy I am that the basement is not currently leaking. Optimism is everything.
(How much longer 'til spring?)
Added later: Apologies for if your comment from earlier is missing. The server (which I loathe with the white hot fury of a thousand suns) is having some sort of seizure - again.
We hates it.
They say (the "they" in this case being the weather forecasters) that a big storm is headed my way. (Indeed, while I was writing this the snow has started, and it's a pretty respectable display. Thundersnow too.) They are always predicting this horrific weather, which I suppose is fair, what with this being March in Toronto, but the whole "get prepared, go buy milk, rush around being worried" thing is lost on me. It's a snowstorm, not a tidal wave or a massive hurricane. I imagine that when my laissez faire attitude bites me on the arse by leaving me with no milk for cereal when the big one finally hits I will be properly repentant, but that's not today. So far, about twelve people (one of whom was carrying enough toilet paper to service a bunker for the duration of the apocalypse) have asked me if I am ready for the storm.
I'm not sure what "ready" means. Emotionally ready? Physically ready? I live in the city. Though I would undoubtedly prepare differently if I lived further out, here there are three grocery stores, five corner stores, a beer store, a liquor store, a police station, a fire station, two hospitals and about ten thousand of my fellow humans (eleven of whom I am related to) within walking distance (no matter how poor the weather) of my house. Frankly, any weather that would mean my family was in danger that I couldn't solve with those considerable resources is not going to be fixed with 4L of fresh milk. (The queue at the grocery store would indicate that most of my neighbours somehow believe that they are either about to be struck by a storm that will shut down Canada's largest city for six weeks, or that they do not live in Canada's largest city.) Thusly, beyond the few things that every household should have in the event of an emergency (like candles, canned goods and water) I have prepared more personally. My personal storm emergency kit includes the following.
Freshly washed wool socks for every member of the family.
A decent bottle of red wine.
Two rented movies.
A pot of coffee
A pot of soup
Cheese and crackers
A small bottle of Glenlivet (if things were very bad)
An extensive stash of wool (both for insulation and entertainment)
My children (both for insulation and entertainment)
Frankly, any weather (or personal) emergency that cannot be handled with one of the above is too horrible to even contemplate.
Let it snow.