August 31, 2007

Quickie

On a whim, Joe and I have decided to go to Algonquin for the the long weekend. Should be a very lovely (teenage daughter-free) trip full of canoeing, portaging and camping. I'm super busy pulling out the camp stuff, but did manage to finish clue 4 of the Mystery stole before putting it aside again. (Charts, lace and beads are not camping knitting. At all.)

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None of these photos show the stole it's actual colour by the way. It's actually a sort of dirty lime green, which my camera seems to feel is unphotographable. I think it's closer to this colour. I'm going to knit it as the designer intended, not doing the alteration to make it symmetrical. I started this because I wanted a surprise and a mystery, and I'm rolling with that. Besides, I accidentally saw a finished one in Aurora, even though I've been avoiding stole spoilers with the same vigour that I am eluding information about the end of the last Harry Potter..(I'm only halfway. Don't tell me anything)... and it was beautiful. I'm sticking to the plan.

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The plan though, will definitely have to wait until we are back on Monday, since I have to find the rest of our stuff. We're doing real Canadian backcountry camping, with lots of bears, moose and no amenities at all. (No bathrooms, no water supply other than the lakes and rivers, no power or light we don't bring with us.) I also need to pick some knitting to take with me that meets three qualifications. It has to be light (every gram of weight matters if you can only hike or canoe in) it has to be simple enough to be able to work by firelight, and it has to be something that will survive a dunking.

Clearly, the gansey is right out.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:27 PM

August 30, 2007

Earl Grey

Joe is very, very picky about his socks. He likes them tall, but not too tall. Short, but not too short. He likes them in "manly colours" and to be "not wild". He loves cables. These socks out of plain sock yarn with cables (and no yarn overs, those are "girly") are perfect. Plain enough that he likes them, but with a little cable down the side to keep the knitter awake. I'm happy enough with them that I'm passing the pattern (such as it is) along.

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It's only here in one size, but if you were even a tiny bit clever you could easily see that by taking out some of the plain stitches in between the cable panels you could make it smaller.

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My apologies for the cable pattern only appearing as text rather than a chart and text. I had (and lost) a colossal argument with excel this morning and the car wreck of a a thing disappeared entirely. Also, this thing hasn't been test knit yet, so if you spot a boo boo...do tell. (NOTE: There have been a few mistakes caught. Apparently I wrote this pattern out like I was on smack. If you printed it out when you first saw it and you're having trouble, print again. I think it's correct now. A thousand thanks to the instinctive tech editors out there. )

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Earl Grey Socks.

Men’s size large.
I used two balls of KnitPicks
Essential sock yarn (this colour is "ash") and only had a little left. If you think you're going to knit these bigger than Joe's feet (mens 12) then you might want a third one.
I used 2.25mm needles.
Gauge: 36 stitches to 10cm

Cast on 70 stitches.
Begin: k1, p1,k2,p2,k2,p1, (k1, p1) 13 times. k1, p1,k2,p2,k2,p1, (k1, p1) 13 times.
Repeat that row for 12 rounds, or longer, if you are more fond of rib than I.

With the next row, you’re going to start the cable pattern. Every stitch is knit except for the 8 stitch panel on either side of the sock.

To place the pattern : k1, Work the pattern, knit 14, M1, knit 13, work the pattern, knit 13, M1, knit 13. (72 stitches total)
Next round: Knit 1, work pattern, knit 27, work pattern, knit 26.

Repeat this last round, working each consecutive row of the pattern until you have repeated the pattern three times. (Or for however long you want, keeping in mind that if you stop somewhere other than at the end of a repeat, it should be at a point in the pattern where there is no centre cable.)

Cable pattern:

TR= knit the second stitch on the left needle, then the first one, then slide them off together.
CL=purl the second stitch on the left needle, then knit the first one, then slide them off together. (I know this is a little fiddly. You’ll get it, and you only have to do it a couple of times for each sock.)
CR= knit the second stitch, purl the first and slide them off together.

Row 1: p1, k2,p2,k2,p1
Row 2: p1, TR, p2, TR, p1.
Rows 3,4,5: p1, k2,p2,k2,p1
Row 6: p1, TR, p2, TR, p1.
Rows,7,8,9: p1, k2,p2,k2,p1
Row 10; p1, TR, p2, TR, p1.
Row 11: p1, k2,p2,k2,p1
Row 12: p1, k1, CL, CR, k1,p1
Row 13: p1,k1,p1,k2.p1.k1,p1
Row 14: p1.k1,p1.TR,p1,k1,p1
Row 15,16,17: p1,k1,p1,k2.p1.k1,p1
Row 18: p1.k1.p1,TR,p1,k1,p1
Row 19,20,21: p1,k1,p1,k2.p1.k1,p1
Row 22: p1.k1.p1,TR,p1,k1,p1
Row 23: p1,k1,p1,k2.p1.k1,p1
Row 24:p1,k1,CR,CL,k1,p1

Chart: I created this chart
here, using Sweater project David's very useful gizmo "visiknit". It's not a perfect chart, since the CR and CL don't show up with the purl stitches, but between the written text and this chart, you should be in pretty good shape.

Chart


Heel: Take a moment and rearrange your stitches.
At the beginning of a round, k1, p1,k2,p1 (you will be in the centre of those 8 pattern stitches) and add them to the end of your round. (The needle you just finished.)
The next 36 stitches (they stretch from the centre of one cable panel to the centre of the other) are your heel stitches. They go on one needle. The others are instep stitches and they are going to wait for you.

Working back and forth on your 36 heel stitches:
Row 1 (right side) *Slip 1, k1 repeat from * all the way across.
Row 2 (wrong side) Slip 1, then purl all the rest of the way across.

Repeat those two rows 17 times more (a total of 36 rows) or until the heel flap is a square. Turn the heel:

Row 1: sl1, k20, SSK, k1, turn. [SSK= slip 2 sts knitwise, knit both together]
Row 2: Sl1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 3: Sl1, k10, SSK, k1, turn.
Row 4: Sl1, p12, p2tog, p1, turn.

Continue in this fashion, slipping the first stitch, working to one stitch before the gap, working 2 sts together over the gap, then k1 [or p1] and turn, until you finish all the heel sts.

End having worked a knit row. Working up the side of the heel flap, pick up and knit stitches from the long “chain” of slipped stitches. There should be 18 or so. Use your good sense and pick up a few more or less as suits you. (If you are getting holes, knit them through the back loop.)

Put your instep stitches onto one needle and knit them as follows:
P1, k2,p1, knit to the last four stitches, p1, k2,p1.

NOTE: At this point, you can keep the instep stitches as they are, knitting and purling as they appear, if however, you would like to keep some of the pattern going down the foot:
Work 12 rounds knitting knits and purling purls : p1, k2,p1, knit to the last 4, p1,k2,p1
Then work a twist round
every 4th round three times : p1, TR, p1, knit to the last 4, p1, TR, p1.
Then 12 rounds as set…then then twist round every 4th round three times….carrying on until the foot is the right length.


Pick up and knit stitches down the left side of the flap (it would be good if you picked up the same number you did on the right, but I’m not judging) and then knit HALF of the heel stitches onto the end of that needle. This is the new beginning of the round.

Your stitches should be divided like this:
Needle 1: half the heel stitches, new gusset stitches
Needle 2: instep stitches (36)
Needle 3: new gusset stitches, half the heel.

Resume working in the round, keeping the instep in its pattern and decreasing for the gussets as follows:

1st round:
1st needle:: K to 3 sts before the end of needle, k2tog, k1.
2nd needle: pattern
3rd needle:: K1, SSK, k to end.
2nd round:
1st needle:: knit
2nd needle: pattern
3rd needle:: knit


Continue repeating these two rounds until you have 72 stitches again. (18, 36, 18)
Then repeat the second round until the sock fits to the base of the big toe, or is 5cm shorter than the total length of the foot.

Toe:
1st round:
1st needle: K to last 3, k2tog, k1.
2nd needle: K1, ssk, k to last 3, k2tog, k1
3rd needle, K1, ssk, knit to end

2nd round: knit plain.
Repeat these 2 rounds until 18 sts remain, ending with a “round 1”

Graft together the two sets of 9. Make a second sock to match. Or not. Go nuts.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:03 PM

August 28, 2007

This is the way we wash our fleece

A tutorial today. I was getting ready to wash more fleece for Joe's gansey (today is Tuesday, so I'm trying to do at least one spinning related activity) and since I always get lots of questions about how I do it, I thought I would grab the camera. I know you are all very worried about the squirrel. I am prepared.

Some notes:
1. I learned everything I know about washing fleece from other people. This method is cobbled together from the likes of spinners more clever than I, like Judith MacKenzie McCuin, That Laurie and a multitude of blog posts and conversations.
2. This is a version of lock washing, not whole fleece washing. There are spinners who toss the thing in the washing machine, but I am really hung up on preserving lock structure in a way that most people aren't. This is not the fastest or even the most sensible way to wash fleece, but it's the way I do it.
3. This way doesn't work as great for huge fleeces (unless you are unconcerned about how long it takes) or for fleeces with a lot of VM (Vegetable Matter. That's stuff like grass or feed.)
4. Fleece is disgustingly dirty. Truly. During fleece washing, you and your equipment are going to come in contact with a lot of stuff that is, besides being disgusting, is not at all good for you. Stuff like sheep urine and feces as well as many chemicals that are used to keep sheep. (Read this. Not all sheep are dipped, but there are still a lot of chemicals involved a lot of the time. Even well kept "pet" sheep raised for fleece can have a surprising amount of medicines and chemicals. Since I am not in the habit of asking everyone I buy fleece from what they use, I am just careful.) A smart person would wear gloves while handling the stuff, or at an absolute minimum, develop a reflex for very good handwashing (with hot water and soap) while doing this.
5. As related to the point above, the stuff you use to process fleece (pots, bowls, pails etc.) should probably be used only for that purpose.
6. I am, like almost everybody, still learning. This works for me. That doesn't mean that it's the best, only or even correct way to do it. Discussion and commentary are welcome.

Materials: An old pillowcase, cut open. A roasting pan, fleece and dish soap. (I use Presidents choice lavender scented. I have had equal luck with other brands. The choice of cleanser for fleece is hotly debated, and debated often.)

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First I lay the pillowcase over the roasting pan.

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Then I start to pull locks off, and lay them into the pan, tips to centre. (A lock of fleece has a "butt", the cut end that was near the sheep, and a "tip" end. That's the end away from the sheep.) I put a whole lot in. Enough to fill the pan, just layering them on top of each other.

Locksinpan2808-1

When I think I have put as much as is reasonable, I fold the fabric over the fleece to make a tidy little package which pleases me to no end. The packaging for the fleece keeps the locks intact and keeps things from floating around and getting tangled up. It is likely overkill, but again...it works for me.

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Then I fill the pan with room temperature water, remembering not to pour water right onto the fleece. It hates that and can retaliate by felting. I put it aside and walk away for at least an hour.

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When I come back the water is gross. I carefully roll up my little fleece burrito (maybe giving it a very gentle squeeze to get more of the water out) and pour the water off.

Next, I fill the pan with room temperature water again, and add a very generous squirt of dish soap and the fleece package. Then, I put it on the stove and turn the heat on. (A whole bunch of spinners just gasped and fell off their chairs. )

Onthestoveflw2808

I put the heat on very low, and I start to babysit the pan, checking it very often to make sure that it gets very hot and steaming, but DOES NOT BOIL. Boiling angers the fleece, and again, it can retaliate by felting. (Agitation - moving the fleece around, can also anger the fleece. I try not to move my little fleece pack much at all.)

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When it's been steaming away for an hour or so, I turn off the heat and pour off that water, which will be almost as revolting as the first go..but likely cloudy dirty. The heat takes the lanolin (grease) off the fleece, as well as the dirt that's bonded to it. There's other stuff too, like the sheeps sweat and other body oils, and let's just be glad it's going.

Next, I let the whole thing cool for a bit (again, rapid temperature changes can anger fleece) then add the hottest possible, and repeat the "cooking".

Addingwat2808-1

Drain, and repeat the filling, only this time with plain water. Cook, then drain and repeat with clear water again. (This is the rinsing. Sometimes this needs be done more than twice. Use your judgement. You want clear, non-soapy water when you are done.)

When you have finished all of the rinsing, and given it a bit of a squeeze, open your little fleece burrito, and admire the elegant way that everything is still perfectly in locks, and perfectly clean.

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Set it outside to dry, being sure to hook up the squirrel deterrent system provided by Rams and Presbytera on their visit to Toronto.

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It's a metal picnic food dome, held down with bungee cords hooked firmly to the metal table.

After it is set up. Lie in wait with your camera. This may take some time, but patience is rewarded.

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Who's winning now, you filthy little fleece stealing excuse for a mammal!

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HA! YOU CAN'T GET IT CAN YOU!!

Approachsf2808

That's right ya little bum wipe. You're screwed. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TEHNOLOGY! HA HA!!
I HAVE FRIENDS WITH BRAINS BIGGER THAN A DAMNED LENTIL AND YOU DON'T !!!!

Sorry. I got carried away. It it just feels really good to win one....you know?

Posted by Stephanie at 4:24 PM

August 27, 2007

Almost empty

The writing deadline (which is another book, should I survive) is starting to figure largely in my life. There is a phase near the end of a manuscript in which all reality is suspended and there is nothing but work and sleeplessness and crying...and I am not there yet. I am in the phase before that, in which one still believes that if one applies themselves diligently and methodically, that they can neatly avoid that nasty bit. This has never worked for me (nor for any other writer I have ever met) but every time I try harder to achieve it. Part of that trying this time is setting goals for each day, not taking days off and never allowing myself to fall behind. Part of this phase is also screaming this at the family, trying to get them to commit to the same structure and goals. They don't. In fact, although they maintain it is entirely coincidental or even just my perception, I feel that this is the time that they step up their demands and presence. I keep working.

In order to manage this structure and working, I have done a few new things. Firstly, Friday I made this my office:

Parkoffice2108

(Can you see how much we still need rain? That brown grass...)

I am not, as I have come to call them a "coffeeshop writer". Coffeeshop writers are those of the breed who, when they cannot find writing space in their homes, go to a coffeeshop. I don't know how they do it. The distraction of my fellow humans is too much for me. I watch people get their drinks, I listen to their conversations (I don't mean to do it....I can't help it.) I wonder where they are going, wonder what they are doing. I stop doing my work and start people watching. I am distractible and despite all efforts, I need quiet and a minimum of distractions - which is too bad...because I really like coffee. An empty house is good. A park is good. (A park is really good. There is no internet in the park. That reduces the temptations and distractions even further.) I got a fair bit done.

Secondly, since that empty house thing is good too (and I am less likely to be bitten by mosquitos in the house) Megan and Sam have gone to visit a friend in Kingston (Ontario, not Jamaica) for three days. Three glorious days where all I have to do is find a way to get Joe and Amanda out of my way, and I'm golden. (Joe is really my biggest offender. For reasons that I will never understand, the days that I have no kids and am going to really get a lot of work done are the days that it is essential to his work and veritable existence that he not leave the house or, even more infuriatingly must return to the house at random intervals to piss me off accomplish his day. Today, for example, he is home for lunch and to "review some stuff" before a meeting. If my book deadline were months away and I had nothing to do today but have lunch with my husband I wouldn't be able to pay him to come home for five minutes, I assure you. The man has radar. I have no idea how he does it.) To make the most of the empty house (should I achieve it) and the park, the knitting was simple over the weekend, and will continue to be boring for a few days.

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Joe's new socks, my own pattern, Knitpicks essential sock yarn in "Ash".

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Now, when self discipline is everything, it is not the time to begin a thrilling love affair with a brand new project,
although truth be told, it is all I want to do, almost all I can think about, and the temptation is overwhelming.

A few notes about upcoming stuff:

1. September 17th, the free day on the tour schedule for September has been filled with New Orleans. (!!!)
2. I screwed up, the time for the event in Wichita is at 3pm, not 2pm. (Sorry. I almost made you all early.)
3. The time for the Los Angeles event is 2pm.

Details, as always, are on the "Harlot on tour" page which is always available for your clicking pleasure in the sidebar on the right.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:58 PM

August 24, 2007

Predictable

About 10 years ago, when I first moved into this house, there was an issue with the garbage pickup. If I put the garbage out the night before, then the truck rounded the corner of my street about noon, without fail. If, however, I didn't remember to put it out until after I was tucked up in bed and thought "Screw it. The truck comes at noon. The truck always comes at noon. I'll do it in the morning." The truck would be outside my house at 7:15am - 15 minutes before my alarm went off. Every single time. I don't know who exactly the City of Toronto had assigned to watch my house...but he was a vigilant employee. It got so that I could predict what time the garbage truck would come according to when I put it out. If I staggered to the curb at 2am, having startled awake with the realization that I had forgotten to put it out, then the truck would come late in the afternoon. This timing ensured that I would spend a whole day staring at the garbage...furious that I had traipsed out under a frozen sky in the wee hours because I just knew that if I didn't get up, my informant would be on the phone to his superiors in 10 seconds. "She went back to sleep Sir. Yes sir. I've ordered the truck for 6:30am. Yes Sir...she does seem to be a slow learner."

This system was so reliable, so predictable, that I understandably came to believe that I controlled garbage pickup on my street (Laugh if you want. I have witnesses) and learned why they call it Murphy's Law, not "Murphy's General Rule" or "Murphy's Vague Guideline".

I was thinking about that yesterday as I worked on the Gansey. When I picked it up for it's 48 hour turn in the queue, taking advantage of the chilly weather...it was 15 degrees (59F) outside. Today..it's turn complete, it is 30 degrees outside (86F) with 86% humidity, which makes it feel like 38 (100F). I must say, as the heat crept up with every moment I spent on the gansey, I felt the spectre of Murphy looming over me. It is way too hot to work on a gansey now. During the 2 days I worked on the gansey, I fixed the front/back error, joined the first shoulder, knit the shoulder straps and picked up the stitches for the sleeve.

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I decided what pattern to put on the sleeve, and I got about 8cm (3") done on that sleeve.

Ganseysleeve12408

I even got so far as to finish the sleeve part of the underarm gusset.

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I feel good about it, that's a pretty fine amount to get done on a great big sweater in just 48 hours...especially since I also kept kept the girls alive, made dinner (admittedly, only once...and I didn't even clean up after) and met my writing goals for both days. ( I'm getting very close to another big writing deadline. You can expect it to begin effecting my mood and sanity soon. The only symptom so far is a strange tremor thing in my left eyelid.) The biggest thing I did in the last 48 hours though, the thing that was the hardest, is that I accepted that there is no way at all that the remaining gansey handspun is going to knit the remaining gansey.

It's definitely back to the wheel to make more. Definitely. It's been hard to accept...but there's just no way I'm going to make it. Sigh. I'll bring some up and start washing it later, after the writing goal for today.
Right now though, since generating a beautiful summer day worked so well...right now I think I'll take my laptop to the park and work there. Summer is almost over, and I don't want to miss any of it.


Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.

~John Lubbock

Posted by Stephanie at 1:00 PM

August 23, 2007

Grey with improvements

It is grey in Toronto. Cold, rainy...Toronto this time of year should not be sweater weather. It should be "wearing the smallest clothes you can without being arrested" weather. This is the time of year that Toronto begs for mercy. It's usually hot, almost unbearably hot, with humidity added to make sure that lots of people cry in public. It is an odd truth about Toronto that the heat (even though it doesn't last very long) kills more people than the long winter. I think that the vicious unyielding heat of August in Toronto is designed to try and make us grateful when it ends and the dark winter falls on us again.

I, however, am never, ever glad when the summer ends, and this very cold, grey weather here is both disturbing (seriously. I mean - a high of 15C in AUGUST?) and sort of discouraging. I love the summer. The long days, the evenings with family and friends outside, riding my bike, never being cold, eating fresh tomatoes that don't resemble pink styrofoam in any way at all.... It's my favourite time, and I'm really quite bitter about having some of those precious days taken from me by a cold wave. Summer is short enough. The irony of how cold it was was most intense when I was in Aurora, which traditionally, is a day when the Aurora knitters guild and I try to poach as many knitters as possible. Not this time. To avoid the heat, we took to a church basement, so naturally, it was freezing. (Sandra is apparently in charge of everything but the weather.)

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I got to see Boop again, who had made herself a very nice certificate proving that she survived the heat wave during my last visit (where we are so not kidding about the heat. It was 40C/104F outside the shop, and we had 50 knitters in the unconditioned upstairs of a yarn shop. I have no idea how hot it was in that room. We should all have certificates.)

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Jo-Anne came to confirm my choice of stylin' footwear.

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Sara brought me a baby. (I didn't get to keep it.)

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Rochelle was showing her Campanulas a good time.

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Knitters came from BC, knitters brought beer, knitters brought seriously funky roving and yarn, and Angela brought a tiny little dpn needle roll up, which is sheer genius.

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I have lots of big ones, but the tall roll-ups don't work well for short dpns, and as a result, my dpns live (most inefficiently) in a bin. This is going to be much better. Angela is clever.

Fiona came and showed off her advance copy of her new book.

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It's very good, but I think that you probably would have guessed that any Fiona Ellis book would be.
The whole evening was warm and lovely, despite the chill, and I had just the most fantastic time. When yesterday was grey and dismal, I had homemade buttertarts and Creemore beer to take the edge right off.

I have decided to make hay while the sun shines, and look upon this weather as possibly the only time in my life that I will ever think that it is a good idea to pile a gansey on my lap in August. I'm giving Joe's gansey 48 hours to see what can be made of it, then I'm switching to another UFO (Un-Finished Object). I have a suspicion that pulling out that much heavy wool with improve the weather instantly.

First, I pulled back the last 10cm of the back which was actually the front and added the neck which should have been there. (A gansey has a front and a back established early on. There are initials knit into the lower front.). This corrected, I started the saddle shoulders. (I am leaving out several episodes yesterday where I got the rate of decrease wrong on the neck and had to pull it back (twice) and then got the rate of decrease right and promptly mis-crossed a cable. This sweater doth vex me.)

Saddle shoulders (or shoulder "straps", as Beth Brown Reinsel calls them in her most excellent and useful book Knitting Ganseys) are a sleeve type where part of the sleeve extends across the top of the shoulder, joining the front and back. In a gansey, because the sleeves are knit onto the body, the strap is what you knit first, starting at the neck, and working towards the armscye. (That's fancy talk for armhole.)

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I decided what pattern I wanted on the strap, cast on that many stitches and am now happily engaged in the matter of knitting back and forth, integrating the strap with the front and back. Every time I come to the edge that faces the front, I knit a stitch from the front together with the last saddle stitch, and turn. I work to the other edge, then knit the last stitch of the other side of the saddle together with a stitch from the back.

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It's pretty nifty, and gives a miraculous little cable (or whatever) that runs along the top of the shoulder then down the arm, which I think is tremendously flattering. Next up, I've got to read about how to figure a gansey sleeve, then pick up my stitches and sally forth.

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Guess what? It's warmer out already.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:59 PM

August 21, 2007

Divide and conquer

I was sorting through the knitting basket this morning - which, I should point out, is a metaphorical basket, not a literal, actual basket. Firstly, it wouldn't all fit in one basket (at least no basket that wouldn't take up too much indoor real estate) and secondly, I don't like it all staring at me from one place. I find it overwhelming. All that unfinished knitting glaring at me from a basket, me dreadfully outnumbered....no siree. Divide and conquer. I face 'em down one at a time, and that means I stash them all over.

The other advantage to this disseminated stashing is that it is rather easy to pretend that you don't have that much on the go....so you can start something else, which is what I was trying to do this morning when I thought maybe a reality check was in order. Therefore, I give you the current big contenders. (Naturally, this list does not include all works in progress. Just the stuff sort of on the radar. )

The Mystery Stole:

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Status: Desperately behind. After learning the hard way that the beads make this a very un-portable project (I got sick of spilling beads on planes, in cars, at my mothers, in my purse) I finally realized that this should be my "sit down and concentrate" work. Since I have not sat down and concentrated since...well. I've got to get back to this.
General feeling: I still love it, and I'm really enjoying the Baruffa Cashwool, and I'm still thrilled to death with the concept of a mystery project. I'm not sure how much I like having "deadlines" and feeling "behind". The clues keep coming out and I keep falling further off the curve. I know it's self imposed anxiety, but it's there nonetheless. I just have to find a well- lit, quiet place to work on this where I don't keep throwing hundreds of beads onto the floor. (I realize that considering that most of my knitting time is on the subway, or while teen wrangling, my odds are not good.)

Socks for Joe:

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Status: Mid-first sock, I'm sort of stalled. I was chugging along and then lost focus for a minute and knit the Solstice Slip ones and now this pair is just lying there.
General feeling: The yarn, while perfectly good- is not thrilling, and despite having whacked a little cable in there to keep me awake, I'm pretty bored. Grey socks. Big grey socks. I was knitting them now because Joe really, really needs me to make an investment in his dress sock collection (he's walking big holes in his others) and because he will only wear these dull colours, and because Denny keeps reminding me that you can't knit these dull colours in March or you won't have any will to live at all... I should finish them. Seriously.

Socks for me:

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Status: One down, one to go. This sock has been my "shove a plain sock in your purse" knitting for the last week or so. It's my plain sock recipe from here, with no bells and no whistles. It's perfect no-brain knitting.
General feeling: I LOVE it. I love it so much that I want to marry it. The yarn is Wollmeise, though mine came from here. (There's none there now. You'll have to lurk around. Wollmeise is another of the Artisanal handpaints on the market, and as with anything made by one person, it is very hard for that one person to supply ALL of us, especially since many of us are wool-pigs. This can be frustrating, especially when you discover, like me, that this yarn is your new best friend and you just want to hug it and kiss it and call it George.)

Adamas

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Status: About half done. I started up with this shawl ages ago and can't remember what distracted me. (I just checked my own archives. Apparently what distracted me from this fabulous Miriam Felton pattern was another fabulous Miriam Felton pattern. Makes sense now.)
General feeling: I'm charmed by it again. The pattern is sensible and intuitive, and it doesn't take long at all to memorize. Between the wooden circular needles and such, it makes it good travel knitting.

The Kauni Cardigan

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Status: All finished, but for button and neck bands. It needs the front steek sewn and cut, but my sewing machine is currently unresponsive. I need to ask Ken to toss a couple of rows of zig-zag in there for me. He's been on holiday, but I got him from the airport last night so I should be able to ask him to do my bidding now. I'd hand sew the thing, but I'm too lazy.
General feeling: What's not to love? (Well. The fact that it's so close but so far.....)

Joe's Gansey.

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Status: Needs sleeves and a good attitude.
General feeling: Overwhelmed. This project has taken so long (though I must say, it does move more quickly when I actually knit on it) and I still think that I'm probably going to fall short on handspun. There's more fleece in the cellar, but it's unwashed and I just shudder when I think of starting that whole mess up again. In addition to that, it's got to be too big to be really portable, so it can only get home time, and I'm not home that much. Still, my love is eternal, so I suppose that considering that it was to be a wedding present and we're cruising up to our first anniversary, I should really, really just suck it up and finish. (On the other hand, we've been together so long that Joe can't really expect me to be on time with a sweater....right?)

There. These are the projects staring me down at present. (Except for the ones I'm ignoring or neglecting. I'm sure one of you is going to point out something lovely I have stuck somewhere and completely forgotten.) I need to pick priorities, start moving through the queue and at all costs, avoid starting Anne's bee shawl or a new cardigan or a new pair of socks something new if I ever hope to see the end of anything, because I do want to finish at least these things. Soon.
Suggestions?

PS. I updated the tour page with some details about some of the events in September, and the details for the Aurora event tonight is there too.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:53 PM

August 20, 2007

Balance is a big concept

When last seen, our intrepid duo were playing with the teenagers, seeing Toronto, knitting everywhere they went and possibly drinking a completely indulgent amount of wine (and beer. No shooters though. We have some self respect.) We had lunch in Yorkville.

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We sat on the granite chesterfield opposite the Four Seasons. We walked through Hazelton Lanes. We went to Yorkville Park. (We didn't see anybody famous.)

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We went to Tim Hortons and Juno combined tea with some ice to make an iced tea that was acceptable to her.

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(Apparently Canadians don't know their way around iced tea making very well...which is fair enough. Admittedly, I haven't been everywhere in Canada and I don't know everyone, but I believe that everywhere in Canada if you just say "Tea" you will get tea, hot tea, as in "a cuppa tea". You can definitely get iced tea, but I think it would usually come from a mix or a premade...like snapple.)
We saw the new ROM addition

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Like all good architecture, you either love it or hate it. I love it. I think the contrast of new and old is spectacular.
We went to see the Dream in the Park:

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(There is no photography of the actors allowed, so you will have to make do with this kinneared shot of the stage as we were leaving.)
This is one of my favourite Toronto summer activities, and this year they are doing my favourite play to see under the stars and trees, "A Midsummer Nights Dream". This years production is hysterically funny, which is closer to how Shakespeare was intended to be seen...low-brow, pop entertainment for the masses. Fantastic. (Runs every night but Monday until Labour Day. Pay-what-you-can, suggested minimum $20...kids under 14 are free.)

We went to the Music Garden...

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If you don't love the Music Garden you are just not alive. There's something for everyone.
We walked through Harbourfront....

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We took the ferry to the Island. We walked to Centreville and

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We rode the choo-choo (Even through the very scary tunnel.)

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and we rode the carousel.

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In between these things we knit in the backyard, we played with my family, we played in the stash. My family taught Juno about tofu with tarragon, garlic and mushrooms (she asked for seconds), good Canadian beers (we made sure she got an assortment). Got her Indian style carrot pickle, introduced her to her first cherries...(I know. It's like she's been living under a rock.) We tried to leave her with a love of Toronto and an ongoing fondness for our family. I hope it worked. Juno's flight left, and took a deep breath looked around and remembered that the universe seeks balance.... Ying always has its yang. That much fun was going to have to be balanced...right?

Sure enough. Today is cold, raining and all the bills came in the mail. I have a ton of work to do, the house is trashed from a week of neglect, the laundry is a mountain of linty punishment, we are out of food, I've bent a favourite knitting needles quite badly, there is something really smelly in the fridge that I just can not find and I just got back from a nasty dentist appointment.

Total balance. Nice to know that things still work the way I think they do.

On the upside, I get to play with knitters again tomorrow when Rachel H and I will journey to Aurora for the annual yarny fun there. Details are here....Don't forget to RSVP. Helps them do the chair thing. It's likely to be a smaller event, which is grand because it means I can really actually talk to knitters. (Sandra says that the yarn shop is going to be open after the talk too. That's wicked. It's one of my favourite shops.) Come. Bring a friend. We'll chill .

Posted by Stephanie at 2:53 PM

August 16, 2007

Way more fun than camp

I think I may die of fun any minute now...or at least keel over a little from it. Our schedule around here is going to need to be pared back a little, or we are never going to be able to survive this much fun.
Here are some things we did. (Note: due to the extreme fun and the time that takes, todays entry is brought to you alternately by me and Juno. It's an efficiency measure. Blog camp.)

1. We played with wool in our dressing gowns and home pants until later in the day than it is reasonable for grown-ups to lie around. (Juno's note: This depends on your definition of reasonable. I am working on getting This One to loosen up a bit. Vacation baby. Albeit vacation in your own home.)

2. We went out as a family and ate our own body weights in wicked good Japanese food.

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3. We took the subway to the baseball game. (This is a very good thing to do with tourists.) (Juno's note: Because I have NEVER seen a train before, uh huh. OK, maybe I got a little confused at the ticket gate. I'm used to swipey cards in NY. Steph's Note: You can't tell me you don't think there's a difference between the two subway systems. First of all...our rats spell with all those extra "u"s.)

4. Megan (Lettuce Knit Megan, not my daughter Megan, who is not old enough to suggest this) spoke of the benefits of drinking baseball beer with a straw.

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Juno speaking now....Steph has gone to the bath, but we're going downtown, so we need joint blogging or the afternoon will go away.

5. This made Steph unreasonably happy. Brother Ian with his...knitting bag. He asked her to hold it for a minute while he tracked down a missing member of the party. She was charmed. Steph speaking....I was more than charmed. I was stunned. Dude just stood there holding it. "Here...Hold my knitting bag." I couldn't believe it. It was like a miracle.

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6. Juno Speaking: She's making me blog. Dude, I left my laptop home for a REASON. (Which is that it is broken, but that's beside the point.) Steph speaking: I am not making you blog. I handed you the computer and your instincts kicked in.

7. Birthday PIE! (Yes the six is backwards.)

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7. Sometimes if you wave to the California Angels in the Bullpen, they wave back. But not at the sock.

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8. Rachel H and Megan found the game surprisingly absorbing. Not at all dull. (Me, I wouldn't know, I spent most of the evening untangling my boucle. That ball winding incident from yesterday continues to have repercussions.

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9. Joe. He bought me beer. He is a Good Man.

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10. The sock enjoys the view from the outfield. It wishes you were here.

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11. All kinds of knitters having Big Giant Knitting Fun (I think the Stitch n Pitch was the only sold out section of the stadium. The drink vendor looked around at one point and asked the air "Why all these people were sewing?." As Rachel H said "We're going to keep doing it until you know this isn't sewing, dude."

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12. Toronto is fun. You should come and visit here. Juno out.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:25 PM

August 15, 2007

Sweet day, sweet sixteen

Juno and I had a lovely day yesterday, yarn,

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knitting, Chinatown,

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the beadstores on Queen West (I rocked her world pretty hard with the supply at the seed bead side of Arton Beads).

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We wound yarn in the backyard at Lettuce knit.

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(It took three women. It was a naughty skein of tangles.) We walked the city and took streetcars and knit, and drank beer and ate cherries with Denny....

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I finished a pair of socks,

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"Solstice Slip" in str "firebird", a recent sock club exclusive, which totally made me feel better, since I was starting to feel deprived of finished knitting.

We met Joe at a fantastic Indian place and had a wonderful dinner, and I managed to extract from Juno (a non-beer drinker) the phrase "that was fantastic beer". (A very proud moment for any Canadian...it was this beer, in the Natural Blonde variety, for anyone who cares.) It was a grand and knitterly day.

Today though, today is my middle daughter Megan's 16th birthday, and she has celebrated thus far by finishing a hat:

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(Yes. Her hair is several colours. Since, as Barbara Coloroso would say, this is not permanent, life threatening or morally threatening...I don't care.)

It's knit in Curious Creek fibers (I forget which yarn.....I bet Kristine or Phil could tell us) that she boosted from the stash a while ago. Pattern is based on "Le Slouch", but it sort of came off the rails at some point. Meg and I clearly share dna.) Meg had her traditional birthday breakfast of homemade waffles and fruit:

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Meg would like you to look at last years waffle picture. She thinks she has matured significantly, as do I , actually...especially since she started out like this.

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She's turning out rather well, my little knitter. She's hip to get her drivers licence, she's not been arrested for anything so far, and she is 16 and I am not a grandmother, which has been a primary goal of mine in parenting her and her sisters. Tonight we head to the ball game, family and friends in tow, where we will celebrate by letting her uncle Ian teach her stuff to yell at the pitcher.

She's a good, funny, smart, girl and we rather like her.
Happy Birthday my little Megaroo. (Sorry. Forgot I wasn't supposed to call her that anymore.) You are a very sweet sixteen.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:13 PM

August 14, 2007

One of us

Once I was free of the airport yesterday (I did not find Scarlett Road. The evil paved and looping paths of confusion at Pearson decided that I was going to take the 427. I swear that they are changing the roads in and out of there in between my visits.) I brought my guest back to my house (we may have stopped at the liquor store and the beer store on the way home) and we set ourselves up in the backyard where we played yarn and fibre games for a good long time, upsetting the neighbours and making the table look just the way it should.

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I love it when Juno visits.

Today we yarn crawl, bead crawl and see Toronto.
Where should I take her? (Forget the CN tower. Apparently she's a big chicken. We have also ruled out Hanlan's point because I am a big chicken.) We'll see Skydome tomorrow for Stitch 'n Pitch (The whole McPhee clan is attending en masse...) and I think I have to show her the island. Assuming all fibre destinations are covered... Where to go?

If you're a local, offer up your best. If not local, but you've always wondered about something, we can go see it for you if you want...

Don't forget good beer stops. Tally ho!

Posted by Stephanie at 12:16 PM

August 13, 2007

If it's August, it must be Aurora

Yessiree Bob, it's that time of year again. The time of year when yours truly exchanges a whack of emails with Sandra and we pick the hottest possible day of the year to put as many knitters as we can in the upstairs of Tove's shop (Needles and Knits) in Aurora, Ontario, then complain about the heat like we didn't know it was coming. We wind up the evening with a discussion about how next year we will not make the same mistakes and this year, my friends, this year we have learned our lesson. This year I will go here:

Tuesday August 21 at 7pm
Aurora United Church, Basement Social Hall. 15186 Yonge Street, Aurora.

It will be cool, it will seat more people and we can have a proper yarn party without melting. We will still be able to go to the shop (because it's one of the best shops ever) but we won't poach in the upstairs, because you know what?

Sandra and I can be taught. (Slowly...apparently.)

That's all for today, since really, I should be picking up a knitting friend from the airport, and I have to allow time to get lost and still be there when her flight comes. (Pearson International and I have issues. Does anyone remember how to get back onto Scarlett Road from Terminal 1?)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:39 PM

August 10, 2007

I have had haircuts like this

So all the way too Halifax and all the way back I knit on the STR sock club socks from a while ago. (Both the yarn colour and the pattern are exclusive to the club for a little bit...they will eventually be available over at Blue Moon.) I made this shocking decision, to entertain the concept of project monogamy for 24 whole hours, because I actually finished the other sleeve of the Kauni. (And it does match. Obsessive compulsives of the world UNITE!)

This means that the next thing to do is to sew and cut the front steek and pick up button bands, and I just couldn't see any of that as a good plane, taxi, hotel or beer-drinking-with-your-buddies project. (It is my firm belief that while a single drink can steady a body up for steeking, more than one effects accuracy and should be avoided.) Instead I worked on a single sock, which means a single sock was finished. (I admit, although it is not my preference, this "one at a time thing" really gets stuff done.) Now, I am not a toe-up sock person. In fact, for reasons that are too complex and stupid to go into here, I sort of hate them. That said, I really like knitting and want to have good skills and from time to time, that means taking on something that you don't care for. (It also means accepting that the reason you don't care for it is because you suck at it, and that with a little practice you might be more openminded....but I'm getting there.)

So I decide I'll follow the directions and knit these socks toe up. I knit and knit, trying to figure out where to start the heel. I suppose I misjudged at some point, because while I was on the plane knitting away and watching Firefly on my laptop, I noticed the foot was freakishly long. I ripped back two repeats, thought it looked better and started the heel. I then entered some sort of fugue state where my inner knitter knew it was too darned long, but forced me to keep knitting anyway. It's the downside of being a basically hopeful person. When the sock was finished I got Meg to put it on, because she has very long and skinny feet, and if they were going to fit anyone, it would be her. It was not her.

Finally faced with the truth, last night I unpicked the figure eight cast on I had started with at the toe, then remembered that you can't unravel knitting in the wrong direction if there is anything going on other than stockinette (though I tried for a while) and decided to snip a thread back at a reasonable foot length.

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Then I unpicked along the row, picking up the freed stitches as I went....

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And knit me a new toe,

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Now it is too short. Mission accomplished. Score, sock 1, Stephanie.....Nothing.

In other news:

I'm deciding what makes good knitting for a ball game, since the Stitch n' Pitch program that's run in other cities and looks like so much fun is finally coming to Toronto, and the game is Wednesday, August 15th, Megan's 16th Birthday! The whole Harlot clan will be attending, eating (veggie) hot dogs and freaking out the non-knitting public in as big a way as possible. Get tickets here. It's going to be big, big fun.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:41 PM

August 9, 2007

Back from The Fax

Wow. I meant to get this up sooner but what can I say...some re-entries are harder than others. My plane got me in yesterday, but a flurry of appointments and Mum-type responsibilities kept me from the keyboard. (You would be surprised how little leeway "but I've got to blog" gets you on these things. There is much work left to be done in the world, let me tell you.)

Halifax was, without a doubt, a burning whack of big fun. It's a great city, and even though I only had an hour free there, I made the most of it. Some of you may remember when our stalwart friend Tim flew the big city and a Harbour Captain job to pursue the shining waves of Halifax harbour and become The Master and Commander of The Tall Ship Silva...(still, I insist, the hottest job title EVER) and since I hadn't seen him since Joe and I were married last September, the first person I wanted to put my eyes on was he.

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Ship and harbour behind him, he looks for all the world like Halifax agrees with him. Tim took the time to point out a wonderful bit of trivia, which will likely only be poignant for Canadian caffeine types. This is The Tall Ship Silva.

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This .....this is the "taller than the tall ship" ship belonging to the guy who owns Tim Hortons.

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I'm not sure what that says, but hold on while I get myself another cup of coffee. (I wonder how much of that ship I bought?)

After wandering the docks for an hour it was back to The Lord Nelson where the knitters were beginning to mill about. I abandoned Tim to the bar and went up to my room to change, wash my face and have a complete nervous breakdown. That accomplished (I am nothing if not efficient) I went back downstairs and faced up to this:

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Halifax's finest knitters my friends, all organized to flip out the staff of The Lord Nelson, who in the long and fancy history of the hotel had (and I quote) "never seen anything like it." (I think there are many knitters there who can attest that while the staff was absolutely generous and helpful, they were pretty freaked. Alison has some great pictures, of the whole thing, including one of some of the Halifax Knitting Out Loud group (who are decidedly unruly - you know, in that wonderful Canadian way that still doesn't piss anyone off.) using a sign at the Lord Nelson as a battering ram to get into the ballroom. I'm thrilled that her pictures are so grand, since my camera has apparently "corrupted" some of the ones I took.

One of the pictures that did work was of Joe's Aunty Madeleine...

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who's claim to fame is not just that she lives in Halifax, but that she sang a rap at our wedding. (I could try to describe it, but it will never come off as well as it did in person.) There are Halifax McPhee's too....but they were MIA for this event. (The McPhee's of everywhere are notoriously hard to pin down. It's a family trait.)
Steph brought the esteemed Mr. Happy.

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As long as Mr. Happy exists my travelling sock is not so silly....
Lesley brought her baby....

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I love me a little baby action, and a baby in a Metallica tee-shirt is beyond cute. Beyond.

There were washcloths, one from New Brunswick, courtesy of May, and one from Janey, who gave it representing the blogless knitters of Nova Scotia. (This is where the politically active Rachel H. steps up and yells "BLOG-FREE! Not blog-less!) and although their pictures are corrupt...they are lovely.

There were designers, like the incomparable Ilga Leja

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and Deb Barnhill, (also corrupt, apparently) designer of the most Canadian knitted thing EVER.

This is just for Lene, who has wondered what Barbara in Nova Scotia looks like...

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she looks mostly like that, except I seem to have captured a manic look I assure you was not there in real life.
The camera decided to eat a picture of Sophie, and of Heddy (sorry guys.) but decided to let me keep this picture,

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The Halifax Knitters in their matching tee-shirts. (They may have been a little excited - as well as being enabled by Rhonda, who is the brainchild behind those fashion statements.) They made me one, and I love it. (Mine's green. You know how I love green.)

I was also allowed to keep this picture:

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of Hope the hat lady with her haul, which included, rather unbelievably, many pairs of warm socks...

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which shall certainly warm needy feet in the middle of a maritime winter. Brilliant. The whole thing was freaking fantastic (especially drinking the pride of Nova Scotia afterwards) and I just want to say a quick word about Mimi from the Loop in Halifax. If Mimi from the Loop was my local yarn store lady? I would never leave. (You can check that little detail with Megan, who is my local yarn shop lady and is a lot like Mimi and...well. I don't hardly leave.) I adored her.

The next morning I had an hour to see a little Halifax before I caught my plane, but it was not to be....
The gardens,

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The Citadel,

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and the whole Harbour were gone

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...swallowed by the infamous Halifax fog.
It was hard to leave anyway.

Posted by Stephanie at 9:44 AM

August 7, 2007

Good company

Last night Ken and I sorted out that he was leaving this morning at 10:30 and me at 10:45, he to Canada's west coast, me to the east.
Joe drove us both to the airport where we spent a happy hour knitting and drinking an electrifying amount of coffee. (We both ate too...but we are trying to forget the airport food and will not recount it here.)

I started a sock (STR in the sock club colour "Firebird", available for purchase in a couple of months- the colours are exclusive to the sock club in the beginning.) and Ken worked away on his latest project. I decided he needed to learn colourwork and my will was wrought upon him at Lettuce Knit a couple of weeks ago when I chose a Dale of Norway Cardigan for his niece, (I'll look up the pattern number when I'm back home.) grabbed the Baby Ull off the shelf and presented him with the whole shebang. (I had him provide the Mastercard. I am no fool and my enabling goes only so far. )

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He's doing really, really well. So well that I guess I was wrong and he doesn't need to learn how to do colourwork. He knit. I knit.

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I don't know how Ken is doing as we wing almost as far away from each other as possible in this country...

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but this is how much sock you can knit going from Toronto to Halifax...and this -

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is a piper standing on the corner. This is Halifax. They are a free range species here.

Posted by Stephanie at 10:07 AM

August 6, 2007

The good, the bad and the ugly

Good:
There are hidden blessings to having no idea about US geography - I get some wonderful surprises. (Before you read this next sentence and are stunned stupid at the depth of my ignorance, remember that they teach Canadians about as much US geography as they teach Americans about Canadian geography.) In the absence of a dead giveaway (like "Long Beach" which sort of has a tip off in it) I was absolutely delighted to arrive in Madison

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Connecticut and discover that I was at the sea! (Technically, Long Island Sound, but it sure looked like the ocean to me.)

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The sock and I hung out for a bit, it was a scorcher of a day and I waded happily in the ocean for a little, communing with the birds and admiring the seashells they leave on the boardwalks and piers. It's a lovely spot, West Wharf Beach. I tried to Kinnear myself with the self-timer on the camera.

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But it turns out it's sort of hard to secretly take pictures of yourself.

Bad:
I don't shower. I may have mentioned this before... my home growing up had just a bathtub, and our home now is similarly showerless, and I may have been somewhat formed by a viewing of the shower murder scene in Psycho at a vulnerable age. A combination of that cinematic trauma and my lack of exposure to this method of human cleansing has resulted in a collosal discomfort with showering in general. I bathe. You can read, no water falls on your head, you can hear any knife wielding murderer coming in....you know if your kids have started a fire or the phone is ringing. Baths are better....so imagine my regret when my hotel room just had this:

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Sadly, I had got to the beach and gotten myself somewhat grubby before I had internalize the lack of a bath, so I couldn't just opt out.
I briefly considered just washing the serious bits with a washcloth, but decided that personal growth is an admirable goal and that I should just put on my big girl pants and suck it up. Showering. Millions of people do it. I can too. I double locked the door, checked the closet and under the bed and i got myself in there, washing up as efficiently as I was able.

The Ugly:
Have I ever mentioned that I am sort of "cautious" about spiders? I don't care for them. I respect their right to be here, wholeheartedly support their bug eating role in the universe and have read and enjoyed Charlotte's web many times. I still don't like them. I especially don't like them close to me.... so you can imagine my horror when I spotted one of the eight legged interlopers in the shower with me.

There is no arguing with ones psyche, so to put it in simple terms, when confronted with a spider IN A SHOWER (think on the stress level of combining two fears at once) I...to put it mildly...
I lost my s**t.

I wigged out. It was between me and the shower exit. It was huge. I couldn't see it properly because I didn't have my glasses on (I hate that about showers) so I could not even be clear if it was advancing on me. It loomed and lurked viciously at me from the shower floor and I FLIPPED. I threw my soapy self past the shower curtain, fleeing soaking wet and very nearly hysterical as the voice in the back of my mind screamed helpful things like "YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. THIS IS WHAT COMES OF SHOWERING" and I beat it, soggy and dripping out of harms way.

After a brief period of recovery (during which I watched the shower edge vigilantly...the only thing worse than a spider in the shower is a spider SOMEWHERE in a hotel room, there was no way I was going to lose track of it) I got my glasses to improve my odds and advanced upon her with murderous intent. (I know. I'm a pacifist, but I have just got to be able to use the bathroom.) As I stealthily peered over the edge to locate the enemy, I collapsed in relief.

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It was hair. To add insult to injury, it was MY hair.
I was terrorized and humiliated by my own hair and stupidity. I swear. It's a wonder I function at all.

The Good:
Meeting knitters at RJ Julia.

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More Good:
Young knitters (note the even gender split again.)

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Even more good:
Kate with a Rhode Island washcloth. (It's got a lighthouse on it.)
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Karen's 1st sock.

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So Bad it's good:
Lisa outing Mandy's 1st socks, which are, for once...about what you would expect in a first pair of socks, (they aren't even the same size) and restoring my faith in normal 1st sock knitters.

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More so Bad it's Good:

Kimberly was caught with the proof that she was behind the great Boston Panty Incident.

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Better than Good:

When Mary had to go to the hospital, as she was loaded into the ambulance, her husband yelled " Which knitting bad do you want?"

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(She's really a woman after my heart.)

Also better than Good
Rebecca's shawl.

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'nuff said.

The Tremendously Good:
Barbara the Hat lady with her haul

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The bad:
Arriving home and having one of my molars break, (I think it's the shower/spider/hair incident that did it in) and incurring a fantastical dental bill that will mean that there is no yarn buying for quite some time to come. (There's a temporary thingie on it to let me go to Halifax tomorrow)

The Ugly:

Unpacking, washing my clothes and packing them again.

The Good:
Unpacking, washing my clothes and packing again FOR HALIFAX. Dudes. I am stupid excited. ( And sort of stoned on the tooth drugs. Should make for a really fun time at the event tomorrow. If I can arse up my life this much straight, heaven only knows what will come of the drugged up version.) All you East Coasters...I'll see you tomorrow!

PS. The bad.
Friends don't let stoned friends knit a Kauni.

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I arsed it up again. Orange where there should be green. There has got to be something simple in this house I can knit for a while.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:23 PM

August 3, 2007

Knitters

This is another one of those posts from the road, the kind that I know some of you find boring, where I blather on about where I went and what I did and who I met, and what sort of transportation I took to get there. (Though the Kinnear thing was cool.) I know it's a little boring...
Well, actually, I don't. I know how it can be a little boring to you, it's not at all boring to me. It turns out that something I've learned as I travel around doing all of this I've learning that there's something in the world just about as interesting to me as knitting...and that's Knitters, and I don't think I should apologize at all for not finding them boring. Knitters come in such a wild assortment of humanity that I can't help it. Besides, every time you think that you have a grip on what they are up to.....

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These are the knitters I met in Boston. Don't they look like every other sock/knitter picture I have ever taken? Doesn't it look like it's going to be ordinary and that nothing remarkable is going to happen at all?
Yeah. I know...but then? THEN THEY THREW PANTIES AT ME.

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If I didn't have photographic proof I wouldn't believe it myself. I would have woken up this morning and thought...you know, what a totally strange dream. Totally. It turns out that the clever and perverse sense of humour among knitters has whacked me once again (much like the pair of gitch I took upside the head last night at the podium.) Apparently, I said in an Interview in Vogue this month, when asked how I coped with notoriety, that I didn't feel at all famous. That it's not like people were THROWING PANTIES AT ME.

Clearly I not only opened the door, but whacked a big 'ole "hit me with underpants" sign on my head and I don't think I have ever been more shocked, enchanted or amused. I am not sure who the instigators were, but considering that two of the panties that smacked me were signed by Danielle, and the The Feminist Mafia....and that Kimberly looked very, very amused indeed....I have my suspects. (I would also like to tell you how incredibly funny I think it is that the panties in question were size large and (mostly) white cotton. I think it is probably the first time in history that the pairs of panties whipped at someone haven't been sexy little thongs. I love knitters.)
From there it got ordinary. If, you know..any of this is ordinary.
There were babies- little wee sleepy ones,

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and funny laughing ones.

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There were first sock knitters. (Yeah. I know. I said I was going to get a grip on the first sock thing. I lied. It's first socks. I can't help it.)
this is Curran and her first socks, not just a sock, but a whole pair, finished while I spoke.

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Karen, Pam,Rebecca and Gina...(click to see them in all their glory)

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and Downtown, who is not only showing off his first pair of socks,

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but they are self-designed toe socks. Dude.

It was Meghann's birthday!

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And there were a plethora of young knitters. Behold, the next generation, Sophie, Louis, Taylor and Teddy. (Click to make the small knitters bigger.) Note that the next generation has an even gender split.

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Finally, here's Amanda, who brought me an Arizona washcloth...

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Amanda, I made sure your hat got on it's way to the hat lady, Kat, who I would like to thank for stepping up and getting it handled. Excellent job.

Now I've made my way to Madison Connecticut, where I'll speak at RJ Julia tonight...and I got here this way...

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He was not a knitter. I Kinneared him.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:16 PM

August 2, 2007

I was Kinnearing

I left for the airport on time, I arrived on time and although it ended up with me pretty snarky on the other side, safely in Boston, I was not late. However:
- Every human being in the world was at the airport. Maybe not you. Maybe you were knitting. Everyone else was there, in line, and hostile.
-For some reason, all of the humans in the airport had taken leave of their senses and were flying like they had never heard of any of of the airline rules, ever. There were people in line without boarding passes, people without passports in customs, people who couldn't use automated machines, people dropping breakfast burritos.....it was one of those mornings that is clearly coming off the rails - for everyone, not just me. One guy had metal in his pockets, then change, then a belt with a big buckle, then....THEN, he had a Nalgene full of water he tried to take through security. (Do not tell me that maybe he didn't know. There are a million signs saying no liquids. A million.) When they told him he couldn't take it though, he asked where he could empty it out. Told there was no such facility in security, he proceeded to make the rest of us in the queue wait while he DRANK A LITRE OF WATER. (He barely escaped with his life. I kept wanting to seize his whole relaxed backpacker self and shake him wildly while screaming "GET SMARTER. For the love of all of your fellow humans GET SMARTER." Natural selection my arse. If we were still doing survival of the fittest on this planet he wouldn't have made it onto the plane before he was killed and eaten by the rest of us.)

In any case, everyone was all over the place and there were enormous waits and all this time ticks by and there's this guy and there's everyone all trying to do impossible against the rules things and time is ticking by and I'm sort of panicking because I'm going to totally miss my plane if things don't improve right pronto...

and Whammo....

I look over in the line near me and I recognize someone. Holy cow. It's Greg Kinnear! At first all I can think is "I know you.. " which it turns out, I totally don't, so I'm glad I didn't go with "Hey Greg...."
Once I had it figured, (I saw his boarding pass in his hand and couldn't help but notice that it said "G. Kinnear") I thought maybe I'd take a picture of him. Maybe I'd ask him to hold the sock? No...that's too forward. Dude's just trying to fly to Boston. Maybe I'll take his picture from far away? Yeah......No. That's creepy. I know, I'll take my camera out of my purse and just sort of hang my hand down and look all casual and not even look at him and take his picture in SECRET.

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...'cause yeah. That's not creepy at all. It didn't really work out, so I tried another one.

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Sigh. I decided to stay with the technique though, and so I Kinneared Julia in her car. Better, this one has part of the intended subject in it....

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Then I Kinneared her husband.

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(Get your minds out of the gutter.)

Kinneared Julia thinking about lunch.

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Kinneared Julia showing me her sock machine.

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By this time I had begun to think that this Kinnearing was rather an art form, and that I was getting quite good at taking pictures without looking .... It's fun. But I'm stopping now.

I wouldn't want to take it too far.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:13 PM

August 1, 2007

Kauni Questions

Okay, this time I'm not doing questions and answers as a cop out, but because there are so many.

Kellee writes
I totally do not understand the color patterning for this sweater. Are you using two balls at once, as you would for other multi-color stranding?

Yes. The chart for the sweater is a simple chart coloured in light and dark. You nominate one ball of yarn "light" and one "dark" and then follow the chart, knitting the stripes and squares.

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In this example, if you start at the bottom you can see that the blue is used first for the background, with the yellow/green used to knit the squares. Then it stripes for a bit, then the yellow/green (which has progressed to be yellow) is the background and the blue is squares....etc. The yellow becomes orange, then red, the blue becomes green, then yellow. Get it?

(I'm not sure if it's obvious, but you just start in different places on the balls so that you don't have similar colours lining up. As you are starting in different spots, the colours "chase" each other and never line up.) When it comes time to knit the squares you are carrying both yarns all the way around, knitting with whatever the chart tells you too...just like any stranded colourwork. The stripes are just one colour. It's one of the things that makes this sweater a relatively easy knit, there are seven rows plain work, then four colourwork, then seven plain.....

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Other than the squares and stripes, the changing colours of the yarn makes all the magic happen.

Kim asks:
Okay, this might be silly, especially coming from someone who has yet to try fair isle anything, but would it be feasible to knit both sleeves at the same time, flat, with a steek, in order to match the colors? Or would a seam in the sleeves be just too bulky? Or would the colors not match anyway because of the length of the color change?

Not silly at all. You totally could, if you had the stomach for it. It would even mean that the colours changed at a rate closer to that of the body, since the diameter around two sleeves would be closer to the diameter of the body. For me though, one of the beautiful things about this sweater is that it's easy. You knit the body, then cut armholes, then pick up and knit the sleeves down. No seams. It's a beautiful thing. If, however, there is nothing more that you enjoy than the sewing of seams, if sewing seams fills you with a joy like the laughter of angels, you could do as pleases you. I do think that due to the steeks the sleeve seams would be a smidge bulky, but it's not like it's a chunky yarn.

Renae is perplexed:
Just out of curiousity and because i want to make sure i am reading the Kauni pattern correctly (and interpreting it correctly, to US needle sizes).... What size needles have you been using?

I've been using the needles called for in the pattern, which, being European, are in metric, and since I'm in Canada, I'm in metric, which means that I didn't convert to US sizes at all....I just went and got a 3mm and 3.5mm needle like the pattern says. I can see the difficulty though, since there is no US equivalent to a 3mm. You'll need to pick between a US size 2 (2.75mm) or a US size 3 (3.25mm). I'd use gauge to solve the dilemma.

Susan T wonders what we are talking about:
Can someone please tell me when and where Rhinebeck is? I've heard so much about it (from your blog and others)over the past two years.

Right here. It's a Sheep and wool festival in NY, and it's technically not called Rhinebeck, which is where it's held. It's sort of like mecca for a lot of knitters. I'll be there.

Kate has been thinking:
re strategy for matching sleeves - yes, but won't that mean that you'll want to have matching button bands as well????

There's just no way to know. I'll have to wait and see how much I care at the time. (My obsessions are variable.)

Linda M. has been charmed by yesterdays needles:
Ohhhh, must have pretty colored needles... must have.... now... how?????

Ok. I have to confess. I sweet talked my Darn Pretty dpns right out of the wood-turners hands...I am nothing if not charming in the face of knitting materials. I am ashamed, but I now own the needles. Judge me as you see fit. Now, if you don't have easy access to the very charming Grafton Fibers people (Tom and Linda) and can't boost yourself advance stock before they even know what hit them, then I suggest one of the following.
1. Wait. Apparently they will be available more widely (at the shops listed on their website) by the end of the month (or so - he's just one guy and they are hand turned.)
2. Angel Yarns in the UK has them.
3. Linda, who owns this ebay store, says she will have them very soon. Probably today.

Annalea asks about my proposed haircut:
I have to ask: Are you going to see the little Greek hairdresser who says: "You sit down. I make nice.", or the one that came very close to giving you Sarah Jessica Parker hair?

You have to ask? Hands down, Sarah all the way. (I actually got it cut already and it is potentially Sarah Jessica Parker hair. Now all I need is a personal stylist to meet me in the bathroom each morning and spend 3 hours wrangling it and I'm home free.)

I ask myself:
What are you doing writing the blog when you should be packing to go to Massachusetts and Connecticut?

Right. Sorry.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:28 PM