May 30, 2007

Dear Amanda

On this day 18 years ago, I was feeling pretty cocky. You were born and I sincerely thought I was equipped. I really did. Even though you were my first, I knew my way around babies and I wasn't afraid of them, and I was even pretty sure that I had fantastic baby tending skills. Moreover, this parenting thing seemed to me like it was going to be pretty straightforward.

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I mean, I knew it would have its challenging moments, but overall, I thought I was going to be really good at it, and that it would be something I excelled at. I was pretty sure that with all of the books I had read and how much research I had done that I would have a great grip on it. I thought that those parents who were losing it all over the place were just not working hard enough at it. I was going to be a relaxed mother.

I think, darling girl, that we can both agree that I have been the exact opposite of relaxed in every way that there is to be not relaxed, and I now I really don't know whether to apologize or demand thanks for that. I don't know what went wrong with my plan, my plan for how easy it was all going to be, but when you screamed your way through your first night on this earth, despite everything the midwife and I could do to comfort you, I started to wonder if I hadn't received a standard issue baby.

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This was confirmed when you screamed your way through the first 4 months of your life (thanks for entirely skipping sleep too. That wasn't at all challenging) and then spent the next several years trying to kill yourself in a new way every thirty five seconds. At nine months you walked. At ten months you climbed to the top of the fridge and sat up there eating bananas.

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At 11 months I thought about tying you to the family bed so you didn't do all of it in the night while I was sleeping. At 18 months you had a full vocabulary with which to add insult to injury (your favourite words were "No" and "Not Mum" and "Me do it") and had developed a proclivity for biting other children and taking off all of your clothes in public. (Really, no-one could help but be impressed with your stripping skills. 15 seconds with my back turned on you in the grocery store and you would be bare bummed by the apricots, chatting with some stranger. I can't stress how glad I am that you outgrew that.) By two you had the temper tantrum down to an art form that helplessly defeated even your "I've had four children - just try me" Grandmother, and you had discovered that your powers had their most devastating effect when you alternated incredible happiness with tornados of poor mood so that I never knew what would hit me.

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At three we had to move from our apartment to a house, since you had developed an intense determination to leap from the balcony. (You felt that only stupid children were injured in falls. Smart girls landed on the grass and were just fine. Since you were sure you were a smart girl....we moved.) At four you could read and frequently defeated adults with your keen intellect, and at five my life with you was sort of like Survivor, since there was almost nobody, adult or child who could outwit, outlast or outplay you.

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By six you had discovered the full force of your endearing charm, and by seven we were in the teachers office at school while she explained that you were the loveliest, most darling child she had ever met....but that we were really going to have to help them bring you on board with the system. (What an idea. Why didn't I think of that. Bring you on board with the system. Huh.)

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By ten you were off and running in a broad social circle, largely immune to maternal remonstration, and no matter what happened or caught fire or blew up or broke, you kept saying the same thing to me that you always have. "Mum. Relax. I can handle it."

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By your teens I spent a lot of my mothering time wondering why you had to reinvent the wheel all the time. (I should perhaps have looked up the definition of adolescence and saved myself a little stinking time.) I had already learned everything you were experimenting with. Why wouldn't you just do what I told you?

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I knew that boys aren't always sincere and that if a girl is gossiping to you about everybody else, that you can bet she's gossiping about you to them. I knew that other girl was a liar (and her shirt was totally skanky), I knew what that boy wanted. (Joe knew too.) I knew that if you procrastinated on an essay you would regret it and I knew that if you really invested in school your life would be so much easier later on. I knew you would get caught if you skipped science. Your teen years turned into me following you around trying to tell you all the things I had learned the hard way, desperately trying to save you any kind of pain at all... and you staring at me like I was an idiot who didn't know anything and proceeding to learn them all the hard painful way anyway.

I have spent the last 18 years being awestruck by the wonder that is you, someone I made in my spare time, and trying desperately to deal best with your epic personality and qualities. Tenacity. Intelligence. Constructive discontent. Persistence. Sensitivity. A fantastic sense of humour. Independence. Mercy. Fearlessness. Kindness. Equity.

Now, these qualities are terrible qualities in a child. North America wants children (especially little girls) to be polite. Obedient. Pliable. Kids who fight back and say no and think for themselves are hard to raise and not thought well of at all. We all talk about how "good" an obedient child is, and It struck me at some point while I was raising you, that I couldn't have a child who did as they were told really well, and then suddenly expect you to turn into an adult who was assertive, independent and free thinking. I realized you couldn't tell a kid "do what I tell you" and then turn around when they became a grown-up and suddenly say "think for yourself". (Well. You can, but I don't think it makes the best adults.)

In short, I realized that people are adults for a lot longer than they are kids, and that it makes more sense to cultivate wonderful adult skills than those traits that make kids easy to take care of. (Mostly I realized this, my child, because you wouldn't do otherwise.)

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Over the last 18 years, in which I believe that you and I have tested each others patience at least once a day, often to the point of tears, I have often gotten through by telling myself "these are great qualities in an adult. She's going to be an adult longer than she is going to be 3 (or 6, or 9 or 13 or 15). Do not kill her now." (I don't know what strategy you used to keep from killing me.)

And now it's here. You're an adult. A beautiful legal adult who (at least on paper) doesn't need her mother. You can vote. You can move across the country. You can start a business or join the peace corps or ....You can do whatever wonderful thing you want, and you can do it all without my permission.
I am scared to death.

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Motherhood is the only occupation I can think of where your eventual goal is to put yourself out of business, and I have swung back and forth these last few years, hoping one moment that you will leave (I admit, we both probably know what days those were) and wishing the next moment that you will never leave and I will be allowed to try and keep you safe and with me forever. While I am not sure that I am entirely ok with this growing up thing...I know now that I have to at least start letting you go a little bit. I need to worry less about you and send you more out there, and I will. (Not all at once though. The world is freakin' huge.) Please try to be patient with me, it's hard for me to let go of my job. Try to remember that up until now if something happened to you they could put me in prison, and in my defence, you are my eldest and the kid I had to practice on.

I hope, dear Amanda, that all of this leaping without looking and enthusiastic going forward has taught you to at least scan the ground a little as you fly, and I'm going to try and trust that you know how to pick yourself up if you land hard....after all, all of the things that have made it a challenging, crazy ride to be your mother....

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These are terrific qualities in an adult.

I'm proud of you, and I love you. Happy 18th.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:52 AM

May 29, 2007

Crawl to the end

Several deep breaths will be needed to get through this day, I can feel it already. I have just under 19 hours before my flight to Massachusetts for the large and terrifying WEBS event. (at least if I arse this one up I can make arrangements to never return.) I know Kathy and Steve are all over this one, and aside from the odd little feeling I have that Kathy may be trying to compete with the entire city of New York to create a more fabulous knitting event (which is a very large task, the fabulousness of New York all considered) I'm just fine. From WEBS I'm off to BEA, always a test of a writers mettle. I'm signing in the autographing area from 9:30 to 10:30 on Saturday (Free signed books. That's why people go to BEA.) and speaking in a panel on Saturday afternoon. (Ann and Kay and Deb Stoller are too. I'm very excited, and worried. I prefer to be on panels with idiots so that I don't have to work at looking intelligent and witty.) In any case, before I have to get on a plane, I need to buy a new bra (don't ask) get some shoes that are not Birkenstocks (don't ask) and buy a shirt that my mother thinks is good enough for dinner in New York. I need to grocery shop so that I don't leave Joe in a mess, and I need to do something about the mess. I need to figure out what knitting to take with me and I seriously need to get the summer clothes out of storage before the School phones and asks why I'm trying to poach three teens in their own wardrobes. (Maybe I should do that first. Do you think maybe an acceptable bra and shirt are in there? I should really check my order of operations.)
In any case. Lightning blogging.

Sunday morning I gathered myself up and set off in pursuit of adventure. It was not hard to find, since I had asked it to meet me at the Naked Sheep at 11:00.

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Behold. Intrepid yarn crawlers, ready for action. We shopped (with some restraint, because there were four yarn shops left on the agenda and pacing is everything.) and got on the streetcar to go across Queen to our next stop.

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Now, I have to tell you. This ride was definitely weird. When we got on, the streetcar was empty in the back and so we assembled there. 22 knitters, all knitting away in the back of the car. It's a long ride from Queen East to Queen West, and the streetcar filled up as we went. Even as the car became more and more crowded, not one regular person would cross the line into knitter territory. Not even when the driver instructed them to move back to make more room. It was like a force field divided us. They would look (in fact, they couldn't stop staring) but they wouldn't stand near us. One woman mumbled "I've never seen anything like it" and one kid stumbled over the line when the streetcar stopped suddenly and his mother yanked him back out of the knit zone like he was at risk of falling into lava.

We got off at Americo

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It's a shop I hadn't been at, but it was recommended by Amy, so we went. (Sorry Sarah. I only got half of you in that picture. It's because I had to take the picture so quickly, what with standing in the road to get it.) Americo is a beautiful but strange shop. No Patons or Rowan yarns here...every thing there seemed to be a handspun. Handspun silk, handspun camel, handspun weird bobble yarn...

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One yarn crawler commented, as we investigated all the beautiful and unique things, especially the knit and crocheted insertions and trims...

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that Americo was like the Banana Republic of yarn shops.

From Americo we walked to Romni wools.

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(We also stopped briefly at the windows of Miss Behaving, since every tourist to Toronto needs to. I'm sure the locals will agree that no walk down Queen is complete without it.)

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Romni did not fail to shock those who were new. Here, a knitter has a particularly emotional reaction to the Romni wall of sock yarn.

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Completely understandable, since only maybe 1/2 of the sock yarn is visible in this photo. It was at Romni that Rachel H and I decided that we needed to "sweep" each store at the end of the visit, making sure we hadn't lost anyone. We would come out the door of the shop and yell "CLEAR", just like in CSI. Good times.

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From Romni we walked to the Bathurst car and headed north to Kensington Market for lunch and Lettuce Knit for our next stop. I'm afraid that there are no pictures from this one, since we were all mixed in with the regular people on this very full streetcar. When we hit Nassau St. and our stop, Rachel and I just shouted "Knitters HO!" and hoped for the best. We did try to do a headcount and stuff.
No knitter left behind.

Lettuce knit was...

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Lettuce Knit. You know it's always a good time and an especially good place to stop for lunch, what with how much good food there is to be had in the Market. (I had a yam burrito.) After lunch we hauled our rapidly developing haul down to the streetcar again, and this time...we had to wait.

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Three streetcars. (That makes it sound tragic, but in Toronto, three streetcars on a Saturday is only about 20 min.) One out of service and two that were too full as a result of the out of service one. At that point, we may have gotten bored...and Joey posed the question,
How many knitters can you fit in a bus shelter?
Game on.

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The answer is 21 (more if they don't take their knitting and purchases in with them) but I will not even endeavour to tell you what sort of reaction this got from the general public.
We finally got a streetcar and made it to our final stop, Alterknit.

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Alterknit is a yarn store/cafe combination, and it was the perfect, perfect place to stop. I have to say that Alterknit wins both my undying thanks and the "most accommodating yarn store in the world" award. We showed up (thanks to the streetcar debacle) just as they were closing, and every body there went out of their way to make us feel welcome anyway- even though I'm certain they were ready to go home at the end of their workday. I kept saying "thanks so much for doing this", as they whipped out lattes and juice and cookies and cake and all they said was "We're glad you guys came." Customer service above and beyond the call of duty. By a lot. Gradually everyone rested up and set out for planes, trains and automobiles home...and Ken, Rachel H. and I did what Canadians do when their work is done and a long day is over.

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Cheers yo. Hope everyone enjoyed our city!

Posted by Stephanie at 1:57 PM

May 28, 2007

A hometown crowd

When I was flipping out on Friday, thinking about how it was that if I arsed it up in my hometown I wouldn't ever be able to live it down, I forgot to look at the flipside. If I didn't arse it up, speaking in front of friends and family was going to be awesome. At 7:00 on Friday, I found out what everyone else knew. There ain't nothing like a hometown crowd. The requisite sock pictures....

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Dudes. There were so many knitters.

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We all know that Toronto is a mecca for the kniterati, but wow. Seeing it is pretty wonderful thing.

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(Actually, I think whether or not a bookstore full of hundreds of knitters is a good thing depends on who you are. If you are the knitters, who keep warning bookstores how many of you there are, and what a significant portion of their business you represent and asking for chairs, you might find this sort of thing very, very satisfying. If you are the bookstore that just figured it out the hard way...perhaps you would think otherwise.)

Martha has a fantastic recounting ( love the labels on her pictures. There's a few I would add to if I could) and Meredith's husband played brilliant paparazzi for her story here. It was a blast, and once I realized I wasn't going to die, it was sort of fun looking out there and seeing my mum and Joe's mum and dad, my kids, Joe, my nieces and brother-in-law, my friends, my knitter buddies, Yarn shop owners....all people I knew, although there were really lots of new faces too. I didn't take a lot of pictures because it was all happening sort of fast (and the panic thing the Indigo people had going on was really contagious...I hear that they were really fun to watch over the course of the evening.) and if I told you everything we would be here all day...but here are some highlights.
This is Jamie's beautiful baby. (A beautiful baby wearing wool soakers.)

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Aven brought me one too.

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Adrienne,

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and Cathy

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both brought their first sock mojo. (Have you ever noticed that these first socks people bring always look way better than your first sock looked? I mean, are the people with the sucky fist socks just not showing me, or was my first sock especially horrendous)

A thousand thanks to Chris and Marsha, who still have me laughing by supplying not just this years bacopa basket, but all the proof I needed that I'm not the only one who thinks it's freakin hilarious. Bacopa Cabana. Snork.

This is Jasmine and Derek from Edmonton...

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Holidaying after renewing their vows and taking a little time out for knit-action.

Danny donated a wonderful hat to the hat collection...

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and the hat collection was incredible. Since I was the hat lady for Toronto I got to have a really good long look at them before I donated them to Streetknit, and I was really impressed.

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They are all really, really good hats. When we were done messing with Indigo, (Post in the comments if you have a story about Friday) I sallied down to The Spotted Dick (stop that giggling) and I have to tell you. Filling a whole pub up with knitters?

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Bigtime fun. Bigtime.

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Megan stayed long enough to get called home...

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Rachel H, Joe and Ken (aka: The Dream Team who make all things possible.)

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Partied it desperately hard.
Joe thanked Ken for his perpetual support.

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(I said I wouldn't post that, but it's too damn cute.)

And me? I had a wonderful time. I'll say it again. Ain't nothing like a hometown crowd....

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and a finished baby sweater.

Tomorrow we answer that burning question:
How many knitters can you fit in a bus shelter?

(PS. I should have known you would ask. Justin and Colin had an estimated 30 attendees. I think that counts as a trouncing.)

Posted by Stephanie at 1:28 PM

May 25, 2007

Hometown jitter

I am always, always afraid before I get up to give a talk. Always.
For a while there, I thought that there was something wrong with me. I would be nervous and people say "Still?" or "Really?" or "But you do this all the time!" and I sure do...and I've never found a way over it. I am as terrorized today as the first day...perhaps more. As the time to stand up in front of all of those people (even if they are mostly on my side) comes, I start to panic. I organize. I pace. I get out my speech. I print multiple copies. I number the pages and sort of crumple them individually so that two pages can't stick together while I am up there. I don't eat. I drink coffee (this may not help) and I reflect deeply on the pain developing in my stomach and try to work out if I actually have appendicitis or if my body is just trying to convince me that I have appendicitis so that I will go to the hospital or die but definitely not get up on that stage. I knit and knit and knit, because it's really pretty calming (it's pretty hard to make a career or relationship ending move with a bit of knitting) oh...by the way... here's the baby sweater from yesterday. Nothing like a little anxiety to light a fire under your knitting....

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though this would move fast, even for a relaxed knitter. I've got a little bit of sleeve and applied i-cord around the neck left to go, and all the ends to weave in. (That's why there are some big holes.)

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I think maybe I wasn't clear yesterday. To buy the yarn for this sweater individually would be $160, since you need eight colours and you can only buy whole skeins. I will not (I think, though there have been bigger surprises) pay $160 for a baby sweater that someone is going to barf on, even if there will be many leftovers and it is superwash wool. (Which it is, but that is not the point.) What I was trying to say yesterday, is that Megan (at Lettuce Knit) made up kits for it. She wound off little balls of all the colours that you need so that it doesn't cost $160. It costs $40 - which is still a little dear for a baby thing, but I count yarn in my entertainment budget. I knit for fun, like some people golf, so if I get a baby gift out of it, that's a bonus. Now that I've cleared that up....

So before I give these talks I'm pacing around and I'm imagining what can go wrong. I could throw up. That would be bad. I could faint, or lose all verbal control and say something terrible...I could have to go to the bathroom right in the middle of the speech or someone could stand up and say "You know, I just drove six hours because I hate you so much that it was worth it to me to burn the gas to tell you in person". I could have my skirt tucked into my panties, I could sit in something gross right before I go out there. Nobody could come. Hundreds of people could come. On top of the thousands of ways I could screw it up, then I get anxious about the ways the bookstore can screw it up. (Although, when it's a bookstore that has been laissez faire about the event because they don't believe in knitters, I sort of enjoy watching them get screwed. Don't tell anyone.) The whole thing breeds hysteria in me, and the way I see it, there's no way to relax about it or get used to it, because frankly, the same risks are there every time. I've developed some coping strategies though. I have a couple of things that I say to myself before I go out there.

I say:
"This is not important. Not really. There are wars and diseases and big problems and this is not one of them. Try to keep perspective. No matter what goes wrong tonight, your screw up will NOT cost lives."

I say…
"It is ok to screw up. You are only human, human beings screw up, and most other people find it really comforting to see someone else screw up because they screw up too. Pretending to be perfect is unfair to other people. "

But the last thing I say? The big one? The thing that bucks me up enough that I stagger out to the podium at all is not going to work tonight. The one thing I always hold in the back of my mind as the jaunty mental liferaft of hope doesn't work in your hometown as you sit surrounded by your nearest and dearest.

I say:
"Don't forget, if you humiliate yourself....you don't ever have to see these people again."

I'm going to go have a little lie down now. Go wish Lee Ann a happy 40th birthday. See you (If I show up) at 7:00 and I can't tell you how happy I am going to be when I'm hoisting a pint at the pub after. (PS. for all the Americans who wrote with some serious concerns about what sort of pub I had chosen for the afterparty... Spotted Dick is a dessert. It has currants. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:13 AM

May 24, 2007

We will not be dicussing

That tomorrow is the Canadian Launch. We will be avoiding that topic very seriously (unless you really need to know something I haven't told you, in which case just let me know) and showing you very interesting and exciting things instead so that we don't talk about the very nerve wracking Launch.
Thing the first:

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Megan's new haircut. It's all "my mother approves" from the front...

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and "I'm a rebel who can still sort of get a summer job as long as I don't put my hair in a pony-tail" in the back.

Thing the second.

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Keyboard Biologist graces our Knit Night all the way from Chicago. She is very nice. She held the sock. She went with me to The Big Fat Burrito. (Only Torontonians will know how good that is.) She has a very beautiful baby bump.

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There is definitely someone very good in there. (The bump made her fit right in, since practically our whole Knit Night has had the nerve to get knocked up all at once.)

Exciting thing the third.

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Swatchy was at the Knit Night. Noricum brought her/him/it, and I have to admit, I find her a better conversationalist than Swatchy, who's approach is...minimalist. I think it is so charming that Noricum is modelling a hat with all her dpns still in the top.

Exciting thing the fourth:

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This tulip baby sweater from Dream in Color. I love it. I wouldn't ever have made it, since it calls for eight colours of the yarn and even I cannot justify $160 for a baby sweater, no matter how I try, but Megan kitted it with little wee balls,

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and last night I fell down hard and swiped my credit card on the way to the ground. Enchanting, enchanting...enchanting. I'm going to see how much of it I can knit while I am not discussing the launch. Very busy.

(PS. If anybody who was not obsessing about a little rainbow sweater and not the launch wanted to go down to the Indigo tonight and see, very sort of secret spy like, how many people come for Justin and Colin...we could not discuss that too.)

Posted by Stephanie at 4:49 PM

May 23, 2007

Trusty Steed

Dear Bike

I love you. I know I'm a little off my game this spring and that usually I've taken you out of the bike Cabana a long time before now. (Note to self: Don't forget to buy a hanging basket of Bacopa to hang on the bike Cabana so you can call it "The Bacopa Cabana" all summer long. No matter what Joe says, that never stops being funny.)

This morning, as I washed your shiny red frame, I reflected on what a good summer we are going to have. I love driving you around the city, and I harbour a special fondness for riding you to the village, buying bread, wine and flowers and then riding home through the tree lined streets. It makes me feel fit, healthy, environmentally clever and to be completely honest....pretty good looking.

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I'll put my knitting in the basket and we'll ride to the market and spend summer evenings knitting on the stoop at Lettuce Knit. We'll go to the bookstore and through the park and I'll blow right by all of those people stuck in traffic, the wind in my hair, and sunshine glinting off your (slightly bent from the time that I sort of rode into that really deep ditch in PEI) spokes.

Sometimes we'll come back at night time from the other side of the city, and I'll take College Street through Little Italy, with all the trendy people drinking on the patio at The Dip, and all the twinkle lights in the trees lit up over my head. I'll never run out of gas (as long as we don't count that wicked hill over by Casa Loma) and all my travel will be free for the next three months, and not paying any bus fare really frees up the yarn money. Riding is going to be so much fun that I won't even really miss the TTC bus/subway knitting time.

What I like best, my sweet little ride, is that you grant me freedom to avoid engaging in the crush of humanity on the subway - like last night, when I was knitting my new sock

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New sock. Plain vanilla pattern, Frobe Fibers sock yarn, colour "Random Tuesday"

...and this guy, who was as malodorous as he was insane, leant over my left shoulder and told me, loudly and with great ferocity, that I should stop knitting now while I was young, or else my intellect would be "used up and worthless" before I was 50. He advised me that there are limits, and I was going to exceed them.

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(At least he thought I was a) young, and b) doing something that required intellect.) In response, I told him not to worry. That I had intellect to spare on knitting.

His response? He told me that there are birds trying to lay eggs in peoples hair in the Bathurst subway station.

Good tip. I'll be on my bike.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:45 PM

May 22, 2007

A clever diversion

This entry is really going to be about the fun surrounding the Canadian Launch on Friday night. Since that is of limited interest to the rest of you, I am mingling in pictures of the socks I finished this long weekend while Canada was closed for the May two-four and I had lots of time to knit. (Yup. I got the garden done. You get the cottage open?) The plan for Friday and Saturday is as follows. Again, those of you with limited interest in these happenings...Look! Socks!

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Yarn: Online Sierra, colour 890 (I think), needles: 2.25mm (US 1)
Pattern: my basic recipe.


Friday 10-6: The Textile Museum is having it's 12th annual More Than Just a Yardage Sale, at (you guessed it) The Textile Museum of Canada here in Toronto. If you click on the link on their page (pdf) you get details. Admission is free and it's a neat way to spend the afternoon.

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Friday 7:00- Book launch/freaking out people who don't understand/giving the staff at Indigo a serious upset. Is it very wrong that I want there to be more knitters there on Friday than there will be regular people on Thursday for Justin and Colin? (I love Justin and Colin.) Indigo told us how many knitters were there for Tracey Ullman last year and I was not instantly consumed with an urge to have more people than Tracy (Stop that laughing. I am not that competetive. Besides, I didn't say I didn't want us to get more than her. I said I wasn't instantly consumed. She's a fellow knitter. There's only so much you can want to whup her.) but two BBC nancy-boys with a passion for tile? Totally fair game.

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Jaywalkers (Free pattern), in Vesper Yarn's Tartan.

Afterparty - The Spotted Dick, 81 Bloor Street East (That's totally walking distance from the Indigo) will be expecting an influx of knitters from 9:00pm onwards until we call it a night. They have hosted the Drunken Knitters Night, so they know what to expect, and they will look for us all to filter in as we finish at the Indigo. (They are actually very fond of knitters over at the Dick, which, while true....is a very unlikely sentence to type.)

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Saturday: Yarn Crawl - meet at 11:00 at the Naked Sheep with a TTC Day Pass in your hand. (They cost $8.50 and you can get them at any station. If you don't get a pass, you will need cash or tickets for each leg of our journey - That's at least 5 legs X $2.75.) We'll hit a whack of yarn shops by way of the subway and streetcars (out of towners will get to see a bunch of the city) have lunch in Kensington Market (lots of choices) and wind up done in the West End at about 5:00. Native Torontonians and folks who get to the city easily should note that there is another chance to do this....Better probably, on International Knit in Pubic Public (Well now. That's the worst typo ever.) Day at the famous TTC Knit-a-long. Rachel H and I have already resigned ourselves to hosting a very pale substitute, but we will do what we can for those of you who can't come for the real deal.

One last diversion for those who don't care about Toronto stuff...

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Today is Tuesday, and this is my spinning. Anyone recognize the fibre?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:10 PM

May 18, 2007

Response to Hysteria

This is my new green sweater in progress and I would like to say a few things about it.

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1. Yes. I do think it's green. It's Dream In Colour yarn "strange harvest" and I believe it has a lime green "root" colour, though I do agree that the green has rusted quite a bit...still, I maintain that this is a green sweater, no matter how many times someone looks at me funny when I say it. Green. A very rusty, orangey, mustard green. That's what it is. Try squinting. Maybe it's your monitor.

2. Yes. I just started.

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3. Yes. I have lots done. This is only possible because I am channelling all the household hysteria into this sweater as two of my three girls manage (or don't manage) the pressures of end of year high school. Amanda is graduating, Meg is finishing grade 10. Every time I want to say "You have known for a month this essay worth 40% of your mark was due this week", I knit.
Every time I wonder if having an SAT system is harder or easier than this....I knit.
Every time I want to phone the school and ask them if it's really necessary to imply to a 15 year old that any academic error she makes this year could RUIN HER WHOLE LIFE, I knit.
Every time a graduating teenager flips out because, she's right, unlike her sister, the next four years of her life will be decided by something she does (or doesn't do) in the next 10 minutes, I knit.
Every time I wonder why Ontario has a requirement that all kids must complete 40 hours of "community service" to graduate high school....I knit. The pressure on them is incredible, especially so since my kids (especially Amanda) are part of a "contracted curriculum". The province increased the requirements to graduate from high school at the same time as they changed the curriculum and shortened the number of years for High School (four instead of five, for University bound kids) which is going to be fine for kids like my youngest, who have had time to be prepared for the new system, but really hellish for kids like Amanda who are living through it. Every time I wonder if giving this much pressure to people this young is really smart... Knit, knit, knit.

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(See? Green sweater. Totally green.)

The more hysterical everybody gets, the more I sit beside them while they write essays and study and the more sweater I get done. (If the hysteria doesn't end soon I am going to need to start a garter stitch blanket.) I usually have mixed feelings about the summer (and all those teenagers in my home office while I'm working) but this year I think it's going to be such a relief for all of us.
Knit, knit, knit.

In other news:

Rachel H and I are still getting it together for the Canadian Launch of the book next Friday at Indigo here in Toronto, (The event is up on their web page, so I guess they are really going to go through with it) and we're planning like mad. We were wondering if there would be any interest in a Toronto Yarn Crawl the next day (Saturday), how many of you would be interested in the afterparty (after the event on Friday night, heaven knows Rachel H and I will be needing a pint or two) and lastly...how many of you are planning on coming to Indigo? (We're still trying to shock them with our sheer numbers...but not so much that any store managers have strokes.)
Can you give us a shout out in the comments so we can plan chairs, beers and yarn shops if you're planning on needing any of those?

Knit, knit, knit.

Posted by Stephanie at 8:36 AM

May 16, 2007

Easy to Entertain

I have made a stunning discovery. If I actually sit at the wheel and spin, spinning gets finished. I know this must seem obvious to those of you brighter than yours truly, but considering how much time I've spent just looking at the wheel, sighing deeply and just thinking about spinning up some of the stash, wishing that bunches of spinning would get finished.... it is clear to me that I must have thought that inaction would get me somewhere.

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I finished all of the singles, and was so completely taken with them that I couldn't wait to see what would happen when I plied them up. I am a simple soul, and when I sat down to ply I was so entertained by waiting to see what two colours would end up beside each other next,

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that I plied the whole thing in one go. It was enchanting. Completely enchanting. I was spinning this to be a heavy sock weight, and I couldn't stop looking at it as a pair of socks as it came together. I was absolutely charmed by whatever two colours were barberpole-ing around each other and practically hysterical with glee when the the two plies matched up colour-wise.

I actually sang out to Joe at one point "There are two blues! The two blues are next to each other! This part is just blue!" Joe looked at me like I was some sort of alien, then pulled it together and sort of mumbled "Good honey...that's ....great." I realized he didn't get it. "Joe..." I said (rather emphatically) "This is sock yarn. That means that part of the sock will have a BLUE STRIPE."

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He nodded sort of enthusiastically at me, but he was totally faking.
It's good that I have you people to show this too. It's so hard to get any sort of knitterly satisfaction out of regular people.
The best part (although the whole thing was seriously, seriously fun) was the end. You know how when you are spinning a two ply (or however many) that at the end there's always more left on one bobbin? One always runs out before the other and you have this chunk of singles that you can't really do anything with? It doesn't matter how carefully you try to balance the bobbins out...it never comes out even? This time...

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This was all that was left on one bobbin. As close to perfect as it can be. Dudes. It was a totally entertaining spinning experience, and I'm so excited about the idea of it being socks, but I'll have to wait. It's 250m of heavy sock weight, and it can be yours to make socks if you donate to Claudia's Knitters Against MS Drive. It's a prize. Claudia's big bike ride effort (two days, 150 miles) is near and dear to my heart, and I'd consider it a personal favour if you gave her some money. Give early. Give often. Win prizes.
Onward.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:43 PM

May 15, 2007

Tuesdays are for...

That's right, SPINNING!
That vague thump you just heard were the collective bodies of commenters Rams, Presbytera and Rachel H. all hitting the floor simultaneously because I have managed to not only make it to the wheel (I admit, I have been rather seduced by the siren call of my mistress knit lately) but have made it to my wheel on an actual real life Tuesday, that high and holy day in my house that is indeed supposed to be for spinning.

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Today's Fibre: Happy Fuzzy Yarns 100% blue faced leicester wool roving in the colourway "Quilt". I love it. Once it's drafted it pretty much spins itself.

I started doing "Tuesdays are for spinning" because without some sort of reminder, I just sort of let the wheel get away from me. To be a good spinner (which I am not... I dally around the edges of "okay") you need practice, and practice only comes at the wheel or spindle. Therefore I had this big idea that if I made a habit of spinning every Tuesday, three things would happen. I thought that spinning at least one day a week would do something to keep the fibre stash upstairs from multiplying like tribbles, I thought I would probably finish spinning the gansey wool, and I was pretty sure I would become a better spinner.

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While a weekly culling of the herd was happening in the fibre stash for a while, (and I did finish the gansey wool) I've obviously fallen off that horse, and I aim to get back on it. It worked for a while. One day a week to spin...six days to knit it up. No problem. Then I skipped a Tuesday (ironically, I skipped it to work on the gansey, that most beloved of all fibre albatross.) and then I was travelling so much and I sort of said "Well, spinning on Tuesdays is not really a code...it's more of a guideline" and that Tuesday turned into another, and then the next thing you knew I had lost it entirely and was hauling off and spinning for an hour on Sunday or maybe even a little shot on a Wednesday around noon, or maybe not spinning at all. All of a sudden the spinning wheel was getting the same amount of attention as the vaccuum cleaner but I was still buying, collecting and receiving fibre and....

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The code needs to come back. Spinning. Tuesdays. In search of a better spinning self and any hope of seeing the floor of that room upstairs. I'm on it. I will spin Tuesdays, and if I am not home, I will use a spindle. No excuses. (I am sure that Rams, Presbytera and Rachel, imbued with the spirits the Moirae, will see that I regret that vow, but that will be another day.

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Tuesdays are for spinning bonus: I just found "Spindle and Wheel", a brand spanking new quarterly online magazine for spinners. I am entirely obsessed with the article about spinning beaded yarn and were it not for the little promise I made myself about using some of beads I bought before I bought more.....
Note to self: Starting up with a whole other kind of stash will not help.

Posted by Stephanie at 9:42 AM

May 14, 2007

Lessons from the Hankster.

My nephew Hank is seven now and spent the weekend here, and there is no end to the things he taught me during that time.

1. I had been under the impression that the most painful thing a mother can step on (after careful research and years of experience) was a four-hole square lego piece. I was wrong.

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The smallest of these "Star Wars Fighting Guys" hurts so much to step on that you don't even feel the emotional pain of your nephew screaming "don't hurt my guys!" while you slowly extract an extremely small lightsaber from the fleshy part of your instep.

2. All finished sweater photo shoots should be managed, art directed and photographed by seven year old boys. When I finished Juno this weekend Hank offered to take pictures of it for me.
Here's a close up of the button band.

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Hank said I chose good buttons. I am more pleased with the fabulous picking up of stitches. I've never had it go better.
Then we did some modelled shots. It took the Hankster a couple to work out how to get me all in....

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Then Hank decided that the shoot needed to be more dynamic.
He suggested I be "LOWER"

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He suggested I be "RUNNING"

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He suggested I be "SCARY"

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and this one, in which I was directed to "TRY AND BE PRETTY"

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(Photo shoots with seven year olds are not for those with low self esteem.)

Details: Juno, from Rowan #40. Yarn: Rowan Scottish Tweed Aran in "storm grey 004" from Magpie Yarns in Lexington Kentucky, held single, 5 balls to make the third size. (I have a 37 inch chest, but wanted only a very little negative ease.) I modified the sweater to make it a little higher in the front, a la Vanessa.

3. When I was taking this picture, to demonstrate exactly how much yarn I had left over when I was done the sweater (such a close finish. I was beside myself.) Hank asked me what I was doing.

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"Taking a picture to show that I only have a little yarn left".
Hank looked at me like I had three heads, glanced around the living room (where there may be some other sorts of yarn lying around) and then said....
"So....you're lying to these people?"

Clarity is everything. In the interest of honesty, Hank insists that I tell you that while there is only a little bit of THAT yarn left, there is some other yarn in the house, and even some other grey yarn.

4. Seven year olds learn how to do Dance Dance Revolution much, much faster than 38 year olds.

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I was unprepared for two things here. Firstly, the absolutely crushing defeat I was dealt by those two wee feet and secondly, the very real pain I felt when Hank didn't know who David Bowie was and said that he looked sort of "Stupid".
(Am I the only one having a hard time trying to explain the 80's to the next generation?)

5. There is no charm greater than a seven year old buying flowers for his mum.

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Which would totally explain how he got the money out of me.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:46 AM

May 11, 2007

At the wheel with mixed veggies

A little while ago, a friend was perusing Abby's hand painted stuff over on ebay and had a little falling down in the silk department. Since I'm a vegetarian, she thought (and was truly correct) that I would get a kick out of a colourway Abby had called "Mixed Veggies". When it arrived however, it was quite a bit brighter than she had expected. Beautiful, but bright. She popped it in the mail anyway, and this is what I saw when I opened the box.

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It's just about fluorescent. Screaming orange, bright green, livid red....Totally carrots, peas and red peppers on acid. I was stunned. Intrigued though. Rovings often do very, very strange things when they are spun up. Things that are bright and jarring are often very different when they have been processed. Things snuggle up, bleed into each other... I was sceptical, but after having read Abby's tutorial on how to blend fibres to make tweed yarns, and seeing what unlikely colours she put together, and what a beautiful result she got with a little thought, I decided to think about it and trust her obviously intelligent colour sense.

There are a couple of things I know about spinning color. (I admit, almost all of the things I know came from the book Color in Spinning, by the very clever Deb Menz.) The first thing that I know is that spinning tends to intensify the colors in a roving. This was bad news, since if the colours in this roving got any more intense they were likely to blind an nearby innocent. I knew I was going to have to take as many measures as I could to tone down the intensity using spinning techniques so I would get something that I could enjoy, and not just as a safety product during walks in the woods during hunting season with Dick Cheney. Another thing I know is that colors are more likely to be subtle if I spin thin, rather than thick. Ok.

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I spun it sort of thin. (I'm apparently not really, totally on my silk game, since this is only "thinnish" and not entirely predictably so.)
As I began to spin, I discovered that while the colours were very bright, there was way more white in there than I thought. That made a huge difference, washing out a lot of the intensity as I spun. The singles were looking pretty good, green bled into orange, orange was tempered by white.... Should I ply? Back to Deb...

"The colors in singles multicolored yarns are clearer and brighter than in plied yarns."

Well. If singles are brighter, then I was plying. The more plies the better, but the more plies, obviously the less yardage I would have. (I saw little point in owning 18 metres of a spectacularly blended five ply.) I decided (since I want sanity, as well as good yarn) to go with just two. (I know. A bit of a cop out.) If I had reviewed more of Deb's book before starting I would have spun even thinner so that I could at least do a three ply and still get decent yardage, but this is a learning curve, and I'm bound to fall off it now and again.

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Two ply. Shoddy, underspun silk two ply, but kindly refer to the above statement about me, silk and the apparently sweaty and steep learning curve. The point is, I think we can agree (besides that I have spun this badly) that this:

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Is an electric mixed veggie that looks like the garden got hit with a radiation gun.... and this:

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Thanks to the spinning genius of Deb Menz and the dying genius of Abby (who turns out to dye brilliantly and not at all like she's on acid) is very, very nice yarn that is entirely approachable and reasonable. The moral? Just what I had hoped. That rovings and the yarns you make from them are often as related as how Martha Stewart and I prioritize doing a good job of the laundry.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:11 PM

May 9, 2007

No Pressure

As some of you know (mostly the Canadians, admittedly) it is hard for yours truly to do the tour thing in Canada. I want to do it, I love to do it, it's easier to do it...BUT.... It's a very big place, and for reasons that are pretty complex (my publisher is American, I am Canadian, there is a complicated bit of border business in between) the US publisher shouldn't be the ones booking stuff in Canada. The Canadian distributor is responsible for events here, and for reasons that are similarly complex (bigger country, more kilometres to cover, 1/10th the population, fewer cities to stop in and the fact that they only make a small portion of the profit - a hint is the difference between the Canadian and American prices on the back of all books) it doesn't make a lot of sense (no matter how much I want them to...) for them to behave and spend money the way the US publisher does.

Understanding all this (or not understanding it, but coming to realize that "cost -efficiency" is everything in business, and while I think of this as knitting, they think of it as business) there have been only as many Canadian dates as they can manage. I did Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston...and more Canadian stuff is coming up, as fast as everyone can sort out all the complicated stuff. I decided though, that while everyone was doing the math, that there had to be an event here, at home in Toronto (considering that I live here- it's not like travel was an issue) and started trying to figure out how to give local Canadians knitters the same chance to gather in an alarming herd of knitterliness that our friends to the south get.

Enter the esteemed Rachel H. the fountain from which all goodness springs. (Ok. Not all goodness, but a whole darned lot of it.) Rachel decided, since she had to go to Ann Arbor for a big knitting party - and since she would really, really like to go to another one, that it was in her own best interest to help me get it together. Since it is pretty much impossible to book anything with a bookstore without a publicist, Rachel decided she would marshal her considerable professional abilities and intellect, and become my personal publicist for the purposes of said event. I was grateful, but worried.

Rachel H. has some mad skills, but she knows not what it is like to try and convince a bookstore that you need chairs. Marketing an - well, marketing anything is easier than selling a bookstore on a "knitting event" but I gave her my blessing and she set off.

After a string of phone calls, emails and persuasion of various sorts, Rachel H. has managed to convince an events guy that if he builds it...we will come. I won't tell you what she had to say to him about the sub-culture of knitting that runs fiercely through Canada, (nothing dirty) but I assure you, there is nothing I would enjoy more than shocking the daylights out of this store that is worried that a Knitting Event can't pull enough people for it to be worth their time. (I forgive them everything, even the suggestion - when we asked for a downtown location with space, easy TTC and parking, that we might be happier in a "suburban" location. They just don't know. We will show them. The scope and diversity of the knitting bookshelf at Indigo should be forever improved by this representation of knitting might.)

Your mission, my fellow Canadians (and any American Comrades who would like to aid in the revolution), should you choose to accept it:

Indigo at Bay & Bloor
(That's the Manulife Centre)
Friday May 25th
7:00pm

It's free, as always. Suggestions for a big honking afterparty location gratefully accepted. (It is Canada on a Friday night after all...there must be beer, or our National reputation will be shattered and the Drunken Knitters Club will be devastated.) The Hat lady for Toronto will be, well...me, and I'll be laying your knitty love on StreetKnit.
Hope you can come, and I hope they have enough chairs.
All hail the mighty Rachel and the Indigo guy who decided to take a shot.

PS. If you were thinking about going to the Webs event (you've got to know people are doing it right when there is both associated charity events AND a cash bar) but were worried about space, never fear. The Webs people have your back and have moved the event to The Calvin Theatre. I think the is space for hundreds more knitters, (This threatens to be a very scary event - to say the least. Hundreds of knitters with a cash bar? Be afraid.) but they would still like you to register. I am trying hard not to interpret this move to a larger space as pressure, while being simultaneously giddy about that many knitters in one place.)

PPS. Amy is launching her book tonight at Lettuce Knit. Always a good party. If I can stop hacking up a lung long enough to be there...I will be. I do feel a little better. Though I did have to switch to a nice simple sock for knitting.

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Cold meds and cables DO NOT mix.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:18 PM

May 8, 2007

Please pass the tissues

Firstly, thank you for the outpouring of well wishes for my friend. Whether it was the strength of all of us lent to her or the miracles of modern medicine, she came through the surgery and this part of her journey very well. Your support was much, much appreciated.

Despite the massive wave of relief I'm feeling, I'm somehow suffering a nasty relapse of whatever cold/flu took me down two weeks ago. I've been trying to knit, but whatever congestion is in my lungs and nose seems to have spread to my brain, and I found myself totally unable to follow the written instructions for the cables for the collar of Juno. After two knitting sessions in which I knit, instead of the delicately interwoven cables that Rowan planned for me, some knitterly version of spaghetti, I finally ripped back the whole thing and made myself a cheat sheet.

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It's been a long time since I tried to knit cables from words instead of a chart and it seems like I've totally forgotten how. I kept loosing my place in a line, messing up C4B and C4R and dudes....why can't the whole world just do it the way I like it and give me charts?

I like to be able to see what I'm knitting, and the beauty of charts is that I can take one look at the chart and one look at my knitting and see that I'm not making anything like the picture and know I've arsed it up again. With words I find it hard to see how they stack up. It's possible of course, with my head less full of the products of a head cold, to read written instructions and "see" what it's supposed to look like, but wouldn't the addition of a chart make it way, way easier? Am I in the minority? Do the largest segment of knitters like the words?

Now, I'm not a pattern writer or a designer, just a lowly knitter with a nasty head cold and a slightly negative attitude right this minute (those two things are probably related) and I know that there are die hard "word" knitters who hate charts, but I wonder why the writers, publishers and designers don't give us both? Is it cultural? Is it more expensive? Prohibitively so? What say you, anybody out there with an answer? Why not provide both words and charts on patterns?

Posted by Stephanie at 3:15 PM

May 7, 2007

Wings

My friend is not well. She is the worst kind of not well, the sort where she feels fine, but is being told that there is a terrible invader. Her illness was discovered by accident as she was having a test for a pretty normal, benign reason. We had one of those talks. The one where your friend phones you and tells you that "they found something" and then there is much reassuring talk about how it will turn out to be nothing and we will all laugh about this big scare and giggle madly about how it's just like this friend to have the audacity to worry you. She phoned a few weeks later. It was not nothing. It was something. A bad something.

The irony of having your health at the gravest risk it has ever been, while you feel absolutely terrific is hard to absorb. The idea that she will need surgery to remove something that she cannot feel and isn't seemingly being injured by....well. She is scheduled for major surgery on this afternoon and I am a knitter. The only thing I could think of was to knit something. I looked up (because I am holistic medecine hippy type) what might help her and discovered that rose quartz (the stone) is good for the kidneys. It stimulates kidney regeneration- that seemed especially good for someone having kidney surgery and it balances anger and tension...which I thought would be fantastic, since if I had kidney cancer, I would be seriously pissed. Rose quartz grounds you, aids in communication and increases creativity. Rose quartz sounded perfect, but I am a knitter....and you can't knit crystals. Oh...
Wait.

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Sure enough...Blue Moon has a colourway...Rose Quartz. Three skeins of the heavyweight were procured, and knitting commenced...or ..almost commenced. What to knit?

I knew I wanted something big and snuggly. Something she could take to the hospital and wrap herself in. Something she could leave lying around to look at. Something sturdy. Something safe.
A shawl.

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I didn't want to make her anything fragile. I wanted something that would make her feel tougher.... a really tough bit off knitting that could take whatever heat is headed my friends way. Something to be a barrier between her and some of the hard things she will be doing.

As for pattern, that was easy. Each time my friend has left a doctors appointment of some import, as she makes her way home an eagle has crossed her path. Remarkably, the day she was diagnosed one landed right in front of her, other days they cross her path...wide wings sweeping her way. She felt, as did I, that the eagles were a message. A powerful portent of well being, an omen of good. As she told me of another encounter with an eagle and how strong and safe it made her feel, it came to me.
I would knit wings. Feathers.

I scoured stitch dictionaries. I swatched, I knit, I ripped back. The Rose Quartz dripped off the needles as I worked it out. I chose "alternating lace" (page 58, volume 2 of the Harmony Guides) and knit that for a while. I started at the back neck, increasing four stitches each right side row. One at each end and two either side of a centre stitch. As I had more stitches, I took them into the pattern.

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When I had enough of that pattern I went back to the stitch dictionaries and found "Trellis-Framed Leaf Pattern" - from Barbara Walker 1 (which claims to be leaves but really looks like feathers to me.) I sorted out how best to begin it so the patterns would flow (sort of) from one to the other,

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and I kept knitting.

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The Big Pink Thing got bigger. I knit an edging, one that looked feathery to me. (Adapted from Heirloom Knitting.) I kept knitting.

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I blocked it, and it got bigger. In the end, The Feathers Shawl was about 2.5 metres from tip to tip.

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That's about 8 feet. (For the record, that's just three skeins of STR Heavyweight)

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A Rose Quartz heavy weight shawl, with the feathers of her totem eagle knit in, warm and sturdy to wrap around her. I know that really, when your friend is sick and far away, that knitting can really do very little to actually care for them, but since all I can do is knit a big pink thing and mail it, then I sincerely hope it helps. I truly feel she will be fine, but it wouldn't hurt if she was held for a moment in your thoughts today.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:24 PM

May 6, 2007

The old switcheroo

Véronik Avery rescued me. I was all torn up, trying to decide between ripping the back of the sweater for a do over and trying to learn to live with imperfection in my knitting. (I accept it in humans, it's in yarn that I am inflexible.) I was reading the comments from people like Karen (who wrote a brilliant Shakespearean "To rip or not to rip" and Dez (who corrected a pretty significant error in the universe by re-writing the Devo song "Whip it" into "Rip it") who urged me to not fight the person I am... and I knew it too. I knew that as much as I didn't want to rip it back, I would have to. I knew that having shoulder seams like this

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would make me nuts. I knew it would be all I could see in the sweater and I knew that considering that my time and yarn is worth something, that I shouldn't let myself down that way. I knew it needed to be ripped, but I was still trying to find a way out. I kept looking at the cast on edge, wishing that there was something I could do about it, so I could just flip the damn piece over...but my fountain of inspiration was empty. (There is also the fact that all I did was sit and stare at it, drinking coffee morosely instead of hitting a couple of reference books or trying some stuff out on a swatch, but I was pouting, and that's quite time consuming.) That's when I get an email from Véronik, with the appealing subject line of "Don't Rip!" or something equally attention grabbing. Véronik, who understands things like why cast-on edges and seams need to match or madness will ensue, suggested the following.

1. Unpick the cast on edge. This is fiddly and annoying, especially with a sticky yarn like this one. I amused myself with I picked away at it. (Psst. KT? The scotch you gave me finally came in handy.)

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2. Flip the piece over, making the front the back and all the knits - purls.

3. Use Montse Stanley's "stem stitch bind-off" with my new right side facing,

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and create a new edge that looks just exactly like the long-tail cast on edge I had before.

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Problem solved - No ripping. Véronik, quand je viens à Montréal, Je vous dois une bière!

The sock gets around

My efforts to show Virginia's sock yarn the best possible time continue apace. This weekend I got dancer/choreographer Mojo on it....

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That's the lovely Andrea Nann, seen looking not at all exhausted after opening night of "The Whole Shebang" . (That's Josh Finlayson being all quick in the back there. ) I had a very lovely time and everything was beautiful and I managed to hang out with all of the people Joe knows without making a fool of myself, though I did eat an improper number of potstickers at the reception. (I am unclear about what the proper number may be, but I know that I exceeded it.) In case the sock was not impressed enough, Suzie Ungerleider (Oh Susanna)

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took a quick turn. She has a new album just out. (Joe did some of the recording for it.) Impressed? I was, but the sock is getting harder to impress. (The best part of the evening was watching Joe try to explain the sock. Me, I don't. I just ask them to hold it.)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:14 AM

May 4, 2007

Matchy -matchy

Safely in the mail, the Big Pink Thing is out of my life and making it's way to my friend. (I sort of miss it.) I'm tracking the package online, having paid a rather exorbitant amount of money for speed to make up for how long it took to dry. They are promising it will arrive today by five, but I know Canada Post is a big fat liar and don't expect much until Monday morning. I took many pictures before it left. When she gets it...you'll see it.

When I got back from the post office I sat back down with Juno. It's very simple knitting so far, and after the knitting on Big Pink, pleasantly straightforward and lovely. It's a pretty big gauge too, so it zooms along.

I've got both sleeves done, the back done, the left front done and I'm motoring through the right. I'm knitting quickly since I've started to fear I won't have enough yarn, and there is part of my brain that - even though I know it can't be true, believes that knitting things quickly uses less yarn. (Oh c'mon. You know you think that sometimes too.)

Junopieces0405

The only thing that slowed me down was that after I knit the back, I couldn't make the fronts work right. I cast on and ripped it out four times before it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, since I am a pretty solid knitter and this is a pretty simple pattern, that the fault did not lie with me. I checked the Rowan website and sure enough...there's a mistake in the pattern. Several. Might want to print those out and stick them in your magazine if you think you might have even the vaguest notion of ever knitting this one.

Thing is, while I'm sorting out the fronts, I notice that there are corrections listed for the back as well, except I've already knit the back and it knit up just fine, near as I could tell. Fine that is, until I knit the fronts the right way and discovered that the error is that the ribs aren't going to line up at the shoulder. The correction establishes a completely different order to the back ribbing. Left as it is, the ribbing is going to be entirely offset, rows of knits butting up against rows of purls - there will be no lovely and orderly matching of ribbing at the seam. The side seams will also be not quite right, but there are increases and decreases along them, so I'm not convinced the blunder will be obvious.

Junorfront0405

I'm making up my mind now. Considering that the shoulder seams are hidden under the big collar and the sides are perhaps not a glaring botch-up...does it matter that it won't match? Do I let it go? Do I rip it back and reknit the whole piece on principle? Is it going to bug me forever if I don't? I could simply flip over the back, making the right side the wrong side, the knits all purls, but then my cast on edge wouldn't match all the way around the sweater and that would show, and I think that would drive me nuts. Perhaps I could reknit the left front and the half of the right front and make them deliberately wrong to have it match the back? It would be less work than redoing the whole back, since I do have a half a front to go. I keep looking at the whole thing and feeling pissed that the pattern was wrong trying to figure it out. One part of me keeps saying "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right" and the other keeps saying "Perhaps you are a smidge overwrought about this thing."

How much does perfection and matching matter?
Sigh. To rip, or not to rip. That is the question.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:03 PM

May 3, 2007

Some knitters.

The oven worked. Low heat, big pan, door open, frequent turning.
Good thinking. Where would I be without you guys? (Besides sleeping in a damp wool-smelling bed....which I think is sort of sexy, but I do not sleep alone.)

Go look at this. I thought my project was big.
I was wrong.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:02 PM

Willing evaporation

The Big Pink Thing is done.

It was actually done yesterday at about 5pm, right before I went to knit-night. I put it in the washer with a little woolwash, soaked it for 10 minutes (I would ususally go longer, but time is not on my side here.) then put it on the spin cycle to get it as dry as possible, spread it on my bed (it did not fit. We have a queen size bed. This should tell you something of the bigness.) and left. I was hoping, for reasons that are too optimistic and stupid to believe now, that it would be dry when I got home. Not so much. Today, after sleeping in a damp, wool smelling bed, I have been drying it with a hair dryer while a fan blows over it. I am very, very open to other ideas - as is Joe...who also slept in a big damp bed.

Send evaporation thoughts. Big Pink Thing needs to make the evening courier run to be in it's new home on time and I am opposed to mailing damp knitwear.

As for what Big Pink Thing is, or why it has been knit...all will be revealed in the fullness of time. (That's Monday.)

Posted by Stephanie at 4:21 PM

May 2, 2007

Showin' the knitwear a good time

Big Pink Thing and I were not having so much fun last night. Big Pink Thing refused to make progress, and I began to knit with contempt.
It seemed to me that though I had knitted all day, Big Pink Thing was not any bigger. I knit and nothing happened. The ball of yarn was no smaller, the end of it was not even dawning on the horizon. Big Pink Thing was resisting my charms. We needed a change of venue.
I rammed Big Pink Thing into a bag and headed to the pub for a pint.

Pintandpink0205

In the background is our friend Jeremy Down and his accompanists for the evening, Don Kerr and Jim Bish. (There are too many links for Jim. I can't pick one.) I sat. I knit. I drank beer. I knit. I listened to music. I saw some other knitters (they shall not reveal the true nature of The Big Pink Thing, although they can tell you it is big.) I knit and knit and I stopped worrying about whether or not I would make the deadline. I ordered another pint. (There's a fine line here. I'm aiming for just enough beer to take the edge off of The Big Pinkness, but not so much that I make mistakes and incur more Big Pinkness. Skill and Practice my friends, that's how you do it.) I listened to more music. I knit. I got Jeremy to hold the sock...

Jersock10205

It cracks me up that he did it. Jer doesn't follow the blog and I know for a fact that he was just holding the sock because he's a bit of a scenester and totally didn't want to look like he didn't know about the sock in case the sock thing was cool and huge.

Jersock40205

He didn't ask me anything about it. Check him out trying to figure out how to manage the sock and hold onto his cool.

Jersock30205-1

I didn't even try to explain that what's cool about the sock is that the sock isn't cool. It's just an ordinary sock out in the world having a good time. You can try all you want and the sock just isn't going to let you be a scenester.

Jersock60205

The only way to be cool with the sock is to give up. Be one with the sock. Think not of your coolness but only of the presence of the wool.

Jersock20205-1

Jer's a great guy, a longtime friend, a fine human and a talented musician, but he might be reaching for the sock scene....you know?

Jersock50205-2

Little does he know that in his search for ultimate scenester cool, that I have just released his inner dork and whapped it up all over the internet. (That'll learn him not to pay attention to the sock. If dude is going to have a couple of pints and fall for a sock trick, there's just nothing I can do to help him. It's just too easy...ya know?)

In any event, Big Pink and I spent a whole lot of time sitting in the pub together while Jer and Don and Jim made music and Joe ran around doing sound guy things and at the end of the whole night....

Bptmore0205

Well. Okay. It looks about the same - but trust me. It's bigger.
24 hours to go.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:40 AM

May 1, 2007

Big Pink Thing

Still knitting.

Bpthing1105

And knitting...

Bpthing20105

And knitting.

Bpthing33005

Deadline in 48 hours. Can't blog.
Knitting.
Big.
Pink.
Thing.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:49 PM