November 29, 2007

It is a good day

The weather sucks today, I have a ton of work to do, the house is trashed, I'm behind on the laundry, the kitchen floor is so bad that I think the cat is in danger of getting stuck down to it, and poppets...I'm in a great mood.

I finished rebuilding the Database!

That's right, thousands and thousands of emails later, yours truly has the Knitters Without Borders database back up and running (and backed up. You have no idea how many ways this is backed up. Never. Again.) and the KWB inbox on my desktop, the one that has been glaring at me and refusing to empty no matter how many names I entered....that one? It's EMPTY. This is such a relief to me that I sort of want to take the rest of the day off, or lie on the kitchen floor drinking scotch or something like that. According to the grand and funky spreadsheet of all knowing...Knitters have given

$434 439.41

to the good guys at Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders, who have used it to save lives and change the world. I'm so proud of all you knitters that I could just about bust. That's yarn money up there, and there's just nothing more touching that watching knitters give up yarn money. It's spectacular.

Wanna Celebrate? I thought so. Let's have a round of Karmic balancing gifts...shall we? Using a random number generator and the database list, I've let the fates choose some knitters. (If you think you see your name and you're wondering if you're the knitter I'm talking about? Never fear. I've emailed the lucky ones. Go check your inbox)

How about a Rockin' Sock Club membership from Blue Moon Fiber Arts? Harriet O, it's yours!

Barb has donated two things, a 1200 yard skein of Black Shetland Laceweight that now belongs to Margaret H.

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and a 400 yd skein of 10% silk/50% alpaca/30% mohair/10% merino sock yarn in dark steel grey,

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that destiny has decided should live with Sivia H.

Aubrey at Goodies Unlimited, has very generously offered FIVE $25 gift certificates, and those are going to Monika M, Cheryl C, Laura F, Lynne B. and MamaCate. (Aubrey also donates a portion of her profits, and I myself am a seriously big fan of her everything balm.)

Beth at Lorna's Laces has offered one of their "little cans of paint" .

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There's two skeins of yarn and a pattern in there (but maybe not that colour), and it's going to live with Linda S.

Caroline would like to give this away (although I cannot imagine why. She must be a very good person.)

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6 50g/163yd hanks of Art Yarns 100% handpainted silk in a beautiful orange colour with one matching
multi hank. , and Caroline and I hope that Holly M. likes it.

Cadi makes beautiful salves,

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and will be sending one to Colleen C.

Sharon has four skeins of Misti Alpaca lace,

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and two each are going to live with Constantina M. and Lois M.

Susan M, a woman possessing a kind and generous heart, has donated 13oz of moorit lamb and silk roving (she says it's mostly brown, with some reds and purples) from Autumn House Farm, that's going to Anji (who I really hope has some spinning aspirations.)

Merry Karma will be sending a pair of Lantern moon needles to Sbacon. (I know that's a weird name, but I only had an email address to work from on that one...)

and last, but not least for today, Lisa at White Birch Fiber Arts has beautiful sock yarn to give. She's a one-woman dyeing operation, and each skein is aprox. four ounces, about 440 yards of 100% machine washable wool.

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This skein of "Confetti" is for Cathy B.

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"In the weeds" is for Sarah B.

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"Sea beast" is for Michelle S.

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"Wild Woman" is going to live with Jane B.

Whew! There's more, much more, coming tomorrow and in the days to come, and all of this is just from the last round. I'm spending a little time thinking about what our new goal should be. What do you think?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:33 PM

November 28, 2007

In which I disappoint even myself

I am going to distract you today, because I woke up this morning and had the lucky and incredible insight that the thrilling thing that I was planning to write about today was not actually thrilling. Then I lay there in bed realizing that the fact that Joe and I were so entirely delighted by this thing was a bad, bad sign and that we really need to get out more or something.

We got a new toilet seat.

See? I have no idea what came over me. (I'm so ashamed. Gads we are boring.) The truth is that we have this freaky European toilet (you push a button to flush it) with a shaped seat (we didn't buy it. It was here when we bought the house) and the seat had a big crack in it and was threatening to break at any moment and so Joe and I very responsibly went to the plumbing place and tried to buy a new seat. (Joe and I would both like some credit for that. It is very unlike us to notice a problem is developing and deal with it. We are more the "Oh no, the only toilet in the house is broken - quick, somebody do something" types. We're proud of our maturity this time.)

Sadly, our maturity was not rewarded, and we were told that our toilet seat is discontinued. (See? This is the worst blog topic ever.) No standard seat would fit it, and we went from store to store for like...a month. We checked online, we called strange places that "salvage" old house stuff - (That right there....that should tell you how desperate we were. We thought a USED toiled seat was a good plan.) and there was absolutely none to be found. We even had a conversation in which we entertained the possibility of buying a wooden seat and carving it to fit. (Kill. Me.)

After talking with every toilet seat person in North America and discovering that there are practically support groups for people trying to find this toilet seat...we were forced to just about admit defeat and acknowledge that we were actually going to have to buy a whole new toilet because we couldn't buy a new seat. This infuriated us enough that we couldn't hardly bring ourselves to do it. Then the crack in the seat started getting really threatening.....and at the same time the sink in the bathroom was leaking, so Joe went to this extraordinarily fancy-pants plumbing place (because we have freaky European fixtures too) to buy stuff for that.

While there, he decided to take a shot and, gave them the dimensions of the toilet seat to see if they could think of anything that could be done...and this guy walks into the back, grabs a box, comes out and holds up the exact toilet seat we have been seeking.....and angels sing and the sun shines a glorious ray of pure light on it, and Joe falls on his knees and receives the toilet seat and brings it home to me and I am so happy that I actually feel a little weepy with joy.

Then Joe and I install it and it's so much fun! We're SO HAPPY about our new toilet seat...so happy that we make the kids and all of their friends come upstairs and see it and I actually take a picture of it with the sock I'm knitting so I can show it to The Blog..

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..and when I go to yoga I tell everyone all about it. Then I phone some friends and tell them. Then Joe and I stand in the bathroom together and we put our arms around each other and we look at it and sigh contentedly. We go to bed with this warm glow of happiness that we thought we would never feel again with this toilet.

Then I woke up this morning and thought ...OH. MY. GOD. WE HAVE GOT TO GET A LIFE.

So go listen to this podcast. I swear I don't mention toilet seats.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:13 PM

November 26, 2007

This might be a message

My darling Joe, a man of tremendous fortitude and almost impossibly optimistic nature, is having a bad week.

Joe has a terrible old sky blue pickup that he uses to move gear around. The thing can't be trusted to move people around since it fails frequently, and it is my belief that the whole truck is held together simply by force of habit. (Joe says that's not true, and duct tape and twist ties need the credit they deserve.) Every couple of months another piece falls off, or Joe discovers that it has an odd new quirk (like you have to keep the clutch in a little bit all the time that you are driving, or that second gear is suddenly not available unless you keep the window rolled down) and long ago it became the sort of car that only he can drive, since the list of work-arounds required to make it go is too complex for anyone else to learn.

On his way home from somewhere a while ago, the brake light came on...and it turned out, as Joe discovered in a fairly traumatic incident that shouldn't be discussed, that this was because the truck had opted out of having brakes. (Though largely, Joe learns a way to live with the trucks failings....even he agreed that brakes were sort of important.) Joe somehow got it to the garage, convinced a guy there that it could be rehabilitated, and asked them if they would fix the rust (so that pieces stop falling off) and repaint the back of the beast while they were at it.

A few days later, Joe needed to be in Welland (a couple of hours away) and borrowed his dad's car to make the trip. On the way there, as Joe drove responsibly and legally through a green light, an 18 year old girl in her dads car (bad day for the dads) turned left directly into him at a good clip, and while Joe was fine, his dad's car was trashed. Now, we don't have to get into the embarrassment of getting your dad's car trashed when you are almost 40...but you can assume it's substantial. Rough day, but Joe laughed it off.

Luckily, the truck was fixed, so Joe went to the bank to withdraw the cash to pay for it. Imagine his shock when he tried to withdraw cash, and was told he didn't have any. Apparently, sometime while he was driving around with no brakes or being smashed in a car accident, he was the victim of identity theft. (Joe would like to take a moment to point out the irony of having his identity stolen the week that nobody in their right mind would want to be him) and felons unknown had emptied every single dime out of his bank account. Joe, possessing the optimism and good nature mentioned above, called the bank and sorted it out, (the money is back) and spent the rest of the day changing passwords, reopening accounts and generally rewiring his life.

Done this (and rather done himself) he got a buddy to drive him to the garage, where he discovered that for reasons that are as mysterious as the movement of the stars, the rear of the truck, while now rust free...had been painted a different colour than the front. The garage has offered to fix it, so Joe sighed, made a date to get that done, (a day after his dad's car has been fixed) pulled out of the garage....

and was soundly and firmly rear ended at a stop sign, thus rendering the colour (and existence) of the new paint job completely moot.

He's fine...but it did finally break him, as he slammed his hands into the steering wheel, cast his eyes heavenward and finally, after failed brakes, two car accidents, identity theft, having all of his money stolen and his truck painted funny, not to mention the indignity of having to tell his dad that his new car's trashed...he lost it. He finally snapped and freaked the frak out. On the Joe scale- he hit a 10. What did he say? What filth was he moved to? What was the only response possible after this series of troubles and indignities? Imagine how you would behave, and then prepare yourself, because after all of that, after being tested in every possible way and being pushed to his very limit....Joe sat in the smashed truck and said:

"Oh, COME ON."

I love that guy.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:18 PM

November 23, 2007

It's time

There's no denying it anymore. Now that I've finished that big sweater, there's absolutely no getting away from the Christmas knitting. I'm proud of myself for stepping away from the crazy place twice this year (I was going to start a sweater for my uncle and begin to spin and knit a vest for my brother) when I realized that it just wasn't possible. There's challenging, which I enjoy, and then there's a set up that's doomed to failure....which I hate.
In years past I would have wildly leapt to the crazy place, and then wondered why it didn't go well for me, but this year, this year I've got it together. This year all I have planned is the following:

One small shawl.
One smallish sweater
One pair adult mittens
Two pairs of children's mittens
Two hats
Four (or maybe five) pairs of socks

And 32 whole days to do it in.

I am noticing now that I might not be as far away from the crazy place as I had hoped, but I since I do think that list is possible... I'm calling in the reserves. Every year when it degenerates into a terrible mess of knitting and rushing and frantic behaviour, I lose my cool and need a schedule to pull it back together. I call the supreme task-master, the mistress of all things scheduled, Our Lady of Being in Charge.... Lene, and I tell her what I need to do, when it needs to be done by, how long it will take. Lene compares that to things like my need to sleep, eat, work, shop, wrap and clean and prepares a somewhat reality based schedule. Then, all I have to do is follow Lene's schedule and everything will be ok. Everything will get done. This system has only failed twice. Once when I failed to do as I was told, and once when I refused to accept that there was way, way more on the list than was humanly possible to accomplish. (I should have known that Lene was seriously trying to tell me something when I looked at the schedule and at 5pm on Christmas eve it said "Warp the time space continuum".)

This year I'm trying a new experiment. I'm going to get Lene to make the schedule BEFORE I start falling apart, and see if the falling apart can be avoided entirely. (This will please Lene a great deal, since MORE CONTROL over the universe is something she enjoys more than is proper for me to say. )

You hear that Lene? I'm putting you in charge of a whole month. Try to control yourself.

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I'm starting this though. (Swallowtail Shawl, Interweave Knits, Fall 2006. Yarn is Misti Alpaca Lace 2ply in "CD43" and the beads were a find in a bead shop on Queen West.) I'm excited. I feel like the unmatching-yet-matching beads are a bold move.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:45 AM

November 22, 2007

Mummy's Little Sweat Shop

I have a rather smashing idea. I've got this very nice handspun I made a couple of weeks ago, and from the minute it was bought I've known who it was for. Three days ago, with the end of the sweater in sight, I got out all of my stitch dictionaries and started perusing them for possibilities. (It is one of my most favourite things in the world to look at stitch dictionaries in the bath. We have no shower, but we do make up for it by having a large and glorious claw foot tub, and I spend a lot of time in there. Looking at stitch dictionaries. Ok. That's starting to sound odd, isn't it? Never mind. Forget I said it. Let's pretend I read knitting books on the couch like everybody else. Nothing to see here.) I didn't end up using any of the stitches, but I did have a nice big idea.

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I've knit an "end" of a scarf. The rest will be in garter stitch. (Plain, beautiful garter stitch) and we are all going to knit it together. (I have not exactly told them this yet.) Everyone in the house knows how to knit, so there's no reason why we can't do a family project. I'll leave it on the coffee table, and ask everybody to work on it whenever they think of it. Every time I think of it, I'll add a pattern row or something. When it gets close to the end, I'll pick it up and knit the other "end" and cast off. Presto Chango.... A scarf knit by all of us, and a really great gift for someone. Good thinking? I thought so.

I know that some of you (coughRAMScough) are going to say that this is not just the good clean fun I'm proposing. Some of you are going to think that instead of a warm fuzzy family project, what I have actually engineered is a way for me to turn my previously useless teenagers into skilled workers churning out Christmas presents. To these accusers I say.....HA! You're just sorry you didn't teach your kids to knit so that they could work for you so that you could get more done join in a warm new family tradition like us.

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The more I think about it, the more I think this is brilliant. I've been feeding, clothing and housing these people for years and years now, and I don't even want to discuss the fact that they were all breastfed, and cloth diapered and that I made them homemade playdough for crying out loud. I taught them all sorts of useful good things, and now that they are teenagers and getting ready to move on with their own lives, I'm thinking things over. I've invested in these people. I was thinking that I was teaching them skills for adulthood, but now that I think about it, perhaps they could use some practice to make sure they are really good at all of it. Besides... all that effort I've put in and they think they are just going to grow up and leave without any sort of redress at all? I don't think so. This, my friends, is an idea who's time is come, and it turns out that I didn't teach them to knit for nothing. It's payback time. Now don't get suckered in by their pretty faces, and don't pay any mind to their whinging about sore hands.

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Christmas is coming, and Mummy wants another 10 rows before daybreak.

(Ps. Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. Teach your kids how to cook today. Remember, today's children learning at your knee are tomorrow's free labour. Pony up. )

(PPS...Yes. That's real snow. I took the pictures with my ordinary little digital camera (Ironically, the one that keeps blurring the snot out of sock pictures) set on "macro" and zoomed in. I agree though...it is spectacularly perfect snow. )

Posted by Stephanie at 1:21 PM

November 19, 2007

This blog writes itself

I don't mind seaming things up. I think there are tons of knitted items that benefit from the structural integrity of seams, and some things just aren't possible to knit without doing some sewing. The Sunrise Circle Jacket is like that, on both counts. The yarn is firm and a little heavy and the seams will keep it from drooping at the sides, although it's not like you could really opt out of them considering the construction. By necessity, there are two raglan seams to sew up, two sleeve seams and two side seams. Then (unless you are the sort who knit up all your hems - which I am not) then you have to sew down the hems at the cuffs and around the entire perimeter of the sweater.

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This sweater has a lot of sewing... and baby that's saying something because I knit sweaters in that time of fashion emptiness, the eighties. Give just a moments thought to dolman sleeves and oversize sweaters that came down to your knees (over your stirrup pants) and try to recall some of the long, gathered shapes of those enormous sweater coats Kaffe Fassett thought were a good idea back then and I'm telling you, there has to be a lot of sewing before I'm going to think it's a lot of sewing. Last night I finished the twelve puny rows standing between me and being finished, and then I started the finishing.

I sewed the sleeve and side seams first so that I could try it on. This took a good long time. A whole glass of Shiraz sort of a long time. Babies have been born in the length of time that it took to sew these seams. Treaties have been settled between warring nations in less time. Hell...Politicians have made up their minds in less time than I spent sewing. The sun set. The moon rose. Time passed indeterminably while I plied my needle up those seams. I finished those seams and that glass of wine about the same time, and it was a good thing too, because I discovered that I remain absolutely freakin' whacked a little bit off base about the real length of my arms and that due to my continuing belief that I am much, much taller than I am, the sleeves were two inches too long, and if I'd have figured that out before I had the glass of wine I would have needed one anyway. (Let this be a lesson to you. Drink early, drink often. Just for the efficiency of it.)

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I took a deep breath, I unpicked my seams, chopped off the excess, picked up the stitches and knit new hems back down. Then I resewed the seams. Then I sewed the cuff hems. Then I tried it on to make sure that I was having a reality based knitting experience (I was.) and decided to forgo the second glass of wine. (One glass fortifies. The second can really begin to effect sewing accuracy.) Then I put on all the taped episodes of The Bionic Woman and started the hems.

( A word about the new Bionic Woman? There is no bigger fan of the original Bionic Woman out there than me. I loved that show. Loved. It. I used to play Bionic Woman all the time and if I hadn't had a brother named Jamie I would have demanded a name change. I equally loved The Six Million Dollar man, though that was just a respect thing. I didn't think he was hot. That said, and accepting that whoever this new chick is might be doomed in my heart anyway...since I don't see how anyone could really be Jaime Summers except Lindsay Wagner...that's bloody clear... I'm having trouble getting into the new series. I mean, have you seen it? We could talk about the plot and the characters and stuff but I'd rather gloss that over and go right to the big issues. Have you seen how they show her going really fast? They make her go REALLY FAST. That's dumbass. Totally dumbass. I mean, everybody knows that you can tell the bionics are working and they are going really, really fast when they go REALLY REALLY SLOW. This new fast bionic woman just looks like a hamster. I mean seriously. It's an insult to Bionics. I have to avert my eyes it pains me so. )

Dudes. This is a fair bit of sewing. Quilts have less sewing...No, that's an understatement.
...CHER has fewer seams on her than this sweater. It is a fantastical amount of fiddly sewing. It goes on and on and on until you beg for mercy. Beg. It went on for so long that when I was finally finished (at 2AM and after a second glass of wine after all because holy cow I practically had to bribe myself to stick to it ) when I finally fell into my bed the sewing had so invaded my brain that there were immediate consequences.

I had a dream that I got a message to go to a coffee shop and sew up a sweater. (I have no idea why I would go to some odd shop to sew up the seams of a strangers sweater, but you know how dreams are. These aren't things that seem like choices. ) In the dream, when I got to the coffee shop there was this big chesterfield there, and the shop owner was some evil sweater- knitting blogger and she chained me up with these crazy iron i-cords and told me that I had to sew up all of her stuff before I could go. ( As scary as that was, she also gave me coffee...so it wasn't all bad.)

It was a really traumatic dream, except for that the evil sweater-knitting-blogger type had really good taste, so the sweaters I had to sew up were fantastic... That and she forgot to take away my cell phone, so I could call for help, and somehow, out of all of the people in the world I could call to rescue me, I picked up the phone and called my good buddy Rick Mercer (whom I have never met, in my waking life ) to come to my aid. Rick did come and unchain me, but not before we had brownies and he told me I was stunned as an arse for getting myself locked up to sew sweaters in the first place. Then we blogged it and we left... In a red pick-up. (I have no idea why my inner psyche thinks Rick Mercer drives a red-pickup. Some residual scarring from the Liberal convention perhaps. No way to know. ) Anyway, Rick was really great about it, but he didn't knit in the dream.

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The seaming might have got to me a little.

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It still needs buttons, and blocking, but it was worth it.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:10 PM

At the speed of mud

I'm posting late because I had this big idea that if I did, then I would have the Sunrise Circle Jacket finished.

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I'm unclear about what I thought was going to change between when I looked at it this morning and when I looked at it now, considering that I haven't had time to knit on it. Maybe it's just that I'm so close to done (12 little rows and a few seams) that I thought it might just take that leap itself... who knows. In any event those 12 rows apparently aren't going to knit themselves.

In an attempt not to be perfectly boring....I give you the following non-boring things.

1. Anny has this grand idea. Go. Read. Love.

2. Remember Jeremy? He had trouble with the sock at his last attempt, but clearly the knitter within him is speaking more clearly, since at his show opening on Saturday night he was a lot less dorky with the sock action.

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See? Much better.

3. I'm almost done with the Knitters without Borders total. See it creeping up in the sidebar? I've still got about 280 emails to acknowledge, but I'm getting there. A few more days at most (Maybe Monday?) and I'll start giving out the latest round of Karmic balancing gifts.

4.I finished one sock.

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It's not much, but it's all I've got for you. 12 rows and a date with a darning needle await me.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:15 PM

November 16, 2007

Inevitable

When I got up this morning, it was snowing. I like snow. I dislike winter quite sincerely, mostly because I hate to be cold, but the way I see it, if it's got to be cold, it might as well be pretty, and snow is pretty.

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It didn't stick, this first little snow, but it was around long enough to pose with the two finished parts of the Sunrise Circle Jacket. I came back to knitting this last night when I heard the forecast for snow, because as I mentioned, I hate to be cold and you can kid yourself all you want about the impending winter...but once there's snow, you know it's inevitable.

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I only have the back left to do on this sweater, and I am loving it fiercely. If it doesn't fit, I think I shall be bitterly disappointed. I'd love to know what dastardly magic lurks in sweaters that lets you knit a swatch, wash a swatch, measure yourself, knit the pieces, measure the pieces, triumphantly note that you are getting both row and stitch gauge, finish knitting the pieces, measure yourself, note that you are still the size you are knitting, block the pieces, compare them to the schematic, dance with glee because all is well, sew up the pieces, put the buttons on and then.......

have it not fit.

It should be that doing that many careful and accurate things guarantees success, but it doesn't. I've done everything right, and my experience tells me that my odds are no better than if I had just knocked off without so much as a single nod in the direction of gauge. It's like a random joke the iniquitous knitting muses like to play on us, and after many years as a knitter, one that I know is occasionally inevitable. I'd still like to understand it though, because I really love this sweater, and it to look great on me. I'd like to think I was engaging in something a little more predictable than a yarn based roll of the dice, but I know I'm not. I want this sweater to fit, I've done everything I can to make sure it fits, and I still have to face up to that possibility that my straw will be drawn and it's going to fit as well as that Ramones shirt I've had since I was 16. (Which is to say, not at all well....but who gives up on fitting into a Ramones shirt?)

Luckily, the yarn was cheap, and the knitting is fast, and I think that increases my chances. The muses are buddies with Murphy, and the more time and money you spent, the more you attract their decidedly cruel sense of humour. Maybe if I knit faster...they won't see me go by?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:23 PM

November 15, 2007

Triumvirate

I'm a homebody, and the busier I get, the more I like to just stay in my house. When I'm writing (which is what I'm doing all the time anyway) I am even more intrigued with the idea of staying home, and if I'm on a deadline (which I am all the time now) the closer I get to the deadline the harder it is to convince me that the outside world is a compelling place to be. If I'm feeling swamped (which I am all the time now) I want my home, my knitting, my laptop and my time, and it has got to be something really compelling to get me to leave. Last night I got two offers I couldn't refuse.

Jen brought her new baby to Knitnight. This darling little sweetpea completes the triumvirate of babies who will now rule Knitnight with their superpowers of cuteness.

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Jen knows what she's doing too..since she dressed little lady Fenner in a Debbie Bliss knitted bear suit, and this combination of baby and bearsuit was such an incredible superpower that it was like kryptonite to me and all I could do, me... who is never, ever at a loss for words and even makes my living bandying them about...all I could do was snuggle the wee darling and exclaim "Oh Jen! She's dressed like widdle BEAR!" I am always helpless in the grip people who weigh less than 10 pounds, but this was embarrassing.

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I had to tear myself away from the dominion of the wee ones, to go meet Joe and continue my mission to confuse as many celebrities as possible by asking them to publicly hold a sock without properly explaining why.
(Explaining ruins at least part of the fun. If they ask "But...why?" too many times I just think it spoils it.)

Over at Hugh's Room, another Triumvirate had congregated, and since Joe produced their first record, we were on the door. (That album is out of stock there...and everywhere really. It's that good. You can listen to clips of the tracks here. My favourite is "Precious love" (despite the rather twee name) and I highly recommend this album too. (For Joe's fans, he also produced an album of Lester's - listen to clips here. I think that "Broken Heart" is my favourite there, because the production convinced me Joe is a genius, and that's a good feeling to get now and again when you're doing a lot of a man's laundry.)

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The sock and I give you Madagascar Slim, Bill Bourne (who appears to be aging in reverse) and Lester Quitzau, who together are the Juno Award winning trio Tri-Continental. I think they did fine holding the sock. (Lester is wearing a merino hat made by his wife, May Moore, so I think he might have had an advantage. Their album together -which, at the risk of appearing overly smitten, I also recommend, has yarn on the cover. Good sign.) They appear mildly confused, muddled and pleased, which I think speaks well of them. (You know my theory. You can tell a lot about a person by how they react to a handknit sock in progress.)

To round out my evening, I got a piece of very good chocolate cake, on account of it was Linda's birthday.

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Linda reads the blog, and it was her day, so she's holding the sock. (There are rules for this.)
The astute among you will not that they are not holding the travelling sock (due to a tactical error on my part, the travelling sock was in my other knitting bag) but my current sock in progress.

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(Feather and Fan sock from Socks,socks,socks, knit in the yarn you were all guessing the other day, which is STR Rocktober) Loving it.

Today, I'm back in the house, and considering that yesterday was about as tempting as you can make a day....babies, good live music and cake...
I think I'm staying in.

PS. I agreed to do a podcast thingie for YarnCraft, and to make it a little more interesting they've come up with the idea of you all asking questions that I'll answer. Details are here...but be warned. I'm ignoring anybody who asks about a gansey.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:29 PM

November 14, 2007

An actual conversation in my house

Every so often, I look at my knitting and think "Well now. I understand all of this. This is proceeding in a really straightforward way. What a relief to know all I need to know about this." and that usually means that it's time to knit something that Cat Bordhi designed and give my boring brain a shake.

Cat's the opposite of straightforward. Cat thinks around corners and in crazy spirals and Cat doesn't give a crap about how it's always been done. Cat's like....my opposite.

I think "There has got to be a simpler way" and Cat thinks "Screw simpler - get curious. There has got to be ANOTHER way." and then all of these door swing wide open and it turns out that there really are whole new ways to knit stuff that you I thought were pretty firmly established. What I think is most interesting about it, is that it turns out that some of them really are simpler...though I think that Cat would be the first to admit that true beauty and organic knitterly authenticity aren't always about simple. Doing something in a beguiling or particularly graceful way matters too.

I heard someone say something about Cat that made me laugh....and Cat's my friend, so I know that she'll laugh too. They said "It's like Cat Bordhi looks at knitting and says There has just got to be a harder way to to this." It made me lie on the floor convulsed with laughter, because they are sort of right. Learning new things is hard for humans. A lot of us hate it. We like knowing what's going on and having things predictable and although in the end most of us love learning, cracking that door open to a new way of doing something, even if it's a better or more beautiful way of doing something is sometimes hard for us. We confuse "that's new" with "that's harder" because our wee human brains like it better that way. It's a shame, because what our brains want (same thing all the time no changing anything ever) is actually not what our brains need to stay young, healthy and forming new synapses. Our brains need new ways of thinking about things....and dudes, that's what this book is for...

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and it's harshing on my mellow in the biggest and most wonderful way. The whole time I'm reading New Pathways for Sock Knitters I have to keep picking myself up of the virtual knitting room floor because Cat's thought of some other way to screw with the way I thought everybody knit socks. Cat's done some squirrel-assed crazy stuff in this book. Crazy. These socks? The Milkmaids Stockings?

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You won't believe where the gusset increases are. You won't believe it. (Or maybe you're a lot more openminded than me and you won't sit there waiting for plagues and locusts and a lighting strike.) Cat totally thinks outside of the sock, and I am so interested in this that I picked one of the patterns "Ocean Toes" (Sorry Cat. I'm totally ripping another picture out of the book here.)

Oceantoespiccb1311

and went hunting through the stash for appropriate yarn. This pattern calls for Socks That Rock Mediumweight , and I thought to myself "HA! I have like..a million skeins of STR (Well, not a million, but a lot.) and for once I can use the yarn the pattern calls for and won't that be good?" Whereupon I proceeded to begin tossing the stash in order to locate my choices. A transcript of what followed is below. (Amanda, Megan and Sam are my daughters. 18, 16 and 13)

Me: (*&^%$#!!!!
Amanda: What's your trouble?
Me: I can't find the yarn that I need.
Amanda: Did you check the Back Room stash?
Me: First place I looked. (I'm ripping up the living room stash as we are talking, making a big mess.)
Megan: Did you check the Upstairs Stash?
Me: Of course. Why can't I find it?
Sam: Did you look in the Bin Stash? Maybe it's there?
Me: I totally looked in the Bin Stash.
Amanda: What are you looking for? When was the last time you saw it?
Megan: Is it old stash? Maybe it's at the bottom?
Sam: Is it blue? I saw some blue yarn in Megan's stash that I think she stole from you.
Me: Megan - are you stealing my yarn again? What have we said about Mummy's stash, I'm happy to share with you to a point, but you just can't go off and......
Megan: You're loosing focus.
Amanda: You were looking for some yarn?
Me: Right. I'm not looking for any specific yarn....I'm looking for my supply of STR medium weight. I found one skein, but I was going to round it all up and see what my choices were.
Samantha: That's how you should organize it.
Me: Thanks Sam. I'll keep that in mind. WHY (ripping up kitchen stash) CAN I ONLY FIND ONE SKEIN OF THIS?

Then I stopped. I'd gone through all the stash in the house. The house was trashed, yarn everywhere, I'd made a huge mess and the truth was before me.

Me: Wow. Do you know what this means?
Girls: ??????

Me: I've only got one skein of this kind of yarn.

Then we all just sat there, staring around at all that yarn and thinking about ripping it all up again, because, really?

That was totally unbelievable.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:09 PM

November 13, 2007

Little Things

I've got a little parade of finished things. I know that two things doesn't really seem like a parade, but I've finished things that come in pairs, and considering how hard it is to beat SSS (Second Sock Syndrome) or SMS (Second Mitten Syndrome) I feel like I should be celebrating four finished things. (Also, these are Christmas things and considering that there are 42 Knitting Days until Christmas left -that's if you count today and not Christmas Day, I feel especially pleased.)
First up, the mittens from Selbuvotter are done.

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These are the romantically named "NHM #7" mittens, knit from Shelridge Farms hand-dyed sock yarn (the pink/red) and Sisu in white. It's a fantastic pattern, and has only whet my whistle for more mittens. I love mittens. Way faster than socks.

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Speaking of socks, these are Rotating Rib socks, finished.

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These were knit from my standard issue sock pattern, but I subbed in a short row heel instead of my usual flap heel because the recipient likes tall socks, and short row heels take less yarn than flap heels. Using less yarn in the heel lets me make the leg a little longer.

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I made the ribbing "rotate" by doing regular 2x2 ribbing, then moving the ribbing over one stitch every 6 rounds. Works like a charm, and is sort of cool looking without being difficult at all. (Except for the part where you have to wake up every 6 rounds and shift the thing. Turns out that counting to six is harder than it sounds.)

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When I got to the foot, I put 1/2 of the stitches on one needle for the top of the foot, and the other half on two needles. I kept the rotating rib working all the way down the top of the foot, and changed the bottom to plain stockinette. Love them. The yarn is STR lightweight in "Downpour". A big success.

I love these socks. I may knit them another few times before it's out of my system entirely. Not today though, because today is Tuesday, and I've got a date with my spinning wheel. I'm aiming to finish up the carded wool I have for Joe's gansey, and then make an assessment about how close I am to done. (I have a feeling it won't be good news. This project is never-freakin-ending. If it is ever done I shall likely collapse in a fit of shock and emptiness.)

PS. Sorry about mentioning the 42 Knitting Days until Christmas thing, but it's sneaking up on us and someone had to say it. I won't mention Hanukkah. (Hint: it's way sooner.)

Posted by Stephanie at 12:41 PM

November 12, 2007

The Royal

Here in Toronto, we have a great big agricultural fair each November called The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, though I've never heard anyone call it anything but The Royal. I've always loved The Royal, and the older I get the more I love this big country thing happening right in the middle of the largest city in Canada, because The Royal happens at the Exhibition grounds, and that's just about downtown. You can take the streetcar there. My daughter Sam and I went yesterday, met up with a knit-posse, and took lots of pictures for you folks who aren't fortunate enough to live close by.

Here I give you "Reasons why you should go to The Royal...or be really sorry you can't"

1. Canadians aren't stupid, so we aren't about to hold a "Winter fair" outside. This is the main building for the fair,

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and this is The Horse Palace. (I think the fact that there exists in the world such a place as "The Horse Palace" redeems humanity a little.)

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2. You will see lots of animals. This is pretty fun. There are cows from the rear,

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Cows from the front.

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and cows arranged in rows. (We only stopped with the cows because it seemed appropriate, not because we ran out of cows.)

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3. If you don't like Cows, you had a lot of other choices. Do you want chickens?

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or Pigs?

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Maybe you want piglets?

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How about this pig?

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(Sam and I were unable to definitely state that this pig had eyes. We couldn't find them. )

4. They have a totally awesome petting zoo. (Sam told me that she thinks the petting zoo at The Royal was "intense" and "hardcore", and she's 13 and pretty hard to please.) It must be good though, because I had a lot of trouble dragging not just Sam, but Rachel H. out of there.

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5. Perhaps you like dogs more than other animals? We saw this.

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6. I hear you. You don't like animals. You like vegetables. Well yee haw cupcake because The Royal has that too.

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7. You further discriminate and are only interested in Giant vegetables? Ok.

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8. I hear the rest of you. You're saying that you're a fibre person and you're only interested in fibre things. Gotcha. Well, that's why I went to The Royal. There are fibre animals everywhere. (Click to make big)

Llamaroyal1111Alpacayronl1111Sheepryonal1111Alpacaryonal11111

Even Angora bunnies so furry that they look like they are cubed in their cages.

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9. You can see a sheep to shawl contest where the teams start with a raw fleece, and pick, card, spin, ply and weave a shawl in less than 4 hours.

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10. You can eat an apple dumpling with caramel and ice cream.

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(Sorry, that one wasn't fibre related, but we had to keep our strength up.)

11. Best of all though, you can go to the fleece auction. The best fleeces I have ever had came from The Royal, and this year there were some very nice ones. I gathered with my peeps:

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and we came up with a gang sign for spinners.

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We examined all the fleeces and made choices about what we were going to bid on.

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Denny and I really liked this one. A beautiful white corriedale.

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Then the auction starts.

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Denny successfully outbid - well. Everyone to get us the one we liked (at like...$6 a pound. That's a great deal.) and I got into a bidding war with Lorne from Wellington Fibres over a seriously good looking coloured fleece that Rachel and I are going to split. (We got that one too. It's a beauty.) Mel got a bunch, Laura got some too. We cleaned up, actually.

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The fleece auction is a lot of fun. A. Lot.

12. I've saved the best thing for last though. The best thing?

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The butter sculptures.

Don't you wish you could have come? Me too.

PS. Apparently some of you are getting a spyware "dangerous site" warning when you visit here? If you are, could you drop me a line at stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca (change the words to the symbols) and let me know what warning software you're using? My liquidweb tech person (Stephanie, she just learned to knit) is saying it's a database thing that she can fix.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:42 PM

November 9, 2007

One for the geeks

I have just suggested to Karen, the very nice tech goddess at Liquidweb who is trying to figure out why the server has spontaneously decided that today is not a day that I am allowed to have email, that she make something for me.

I would like a wee virtual button for my desktop that says SMACK MY SERVER.

It doesn't even have to have a script attached to it that actually does anything to the server....it would just be like the buttons at crosswalks. We all know they don't do anything except for give you something to push while you wait for the light to change anyway. I could call tech support, they could work on the problem and I could sit here and push the button (perhaps it could make a nice firm "thwack" noise) and I would feel like I was doing SOMETHING VENGEANCE BASED AND HOSTILE TO MY *&^%%$!!!!&&ING SERVER instead of just sitting here waiting for it to release me from its digital hades.

Never mind. Look at wool.

Woolgood711

Wool never break down. Wool never need upgrade. Wool have no port settings. Wool have no hostname or DNS.

Wool Good.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:30 PM

November 8, 2007

Three things

Even if I am boring...it turns out that Knit Night is always going to bring me blog fodder.

1. Remember how we had all those pregnant knitters? Here's the latest delivery. (Well, there's one more, but she was too young. Maybe next week.) Mel (the Mama on the right) brought us Liam, and it's pretty easy to tell that this is a baby cherished by knitters.

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The wee dude is just covered in knitwear. (He appears rather bored right there, but he'll get used to it.)

2. Hey...Cari? I know you were worried about your friend Anneliese and her moving to Toronto from far away and not knowing anybody. Frankly, we were worried about her too...I mean, you were sending us a non-knitter to play with. How would we relate to her? What would we do with her? What would we talk about?

Anneknits0711

We figured it out. She's fine now. No worries.

3. Also at Knit Night last night, we met Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, in town and visiting Village Yarns. She's lovely, but gave all of us a little bit of a brain melt. She didn't have any knitting with her (shocking thing the first) and so she picked some nice yarn and some nice needles and cast on for a sock. Well I'll be darned if we didn't all turn around and see this:

Chankonlap0711

Just look at the expression on Amy's face.

She's got the whole skein just draped over her knees. It's HOW SHE KNITS. Several knitters just reeling in shock offered, nay, practically insisted that the skein be taken to the ball winder, but Cornelia declined. She doesn't wind the yarn into a ball because Cornelia thinks that the cakes of yarn that come off a ball winder are ugly. She prefers the aesthetic of a nice hank just draped on her lap. She gracefully unwinds as she goes. We were stunned.

I stared at her like an antelope had just walked into the shop.
I don't know about you, but in the life I lead, that set up there is a one way ticket to the land of crazyville. It would last about 14 seconds before I had the whole thing canked up into a big whack of maddening tangle. What happens if you take that on the bus? What happens to it in your purse? Cornelia shrugged all of this off. It works for her. Totally works. I mean, she knits, she designs, she owns a freakin' yarn shop, so obviously it's not just like she hasn't hung out with yarn enough to see the peril that she's in. I thought Denny was going to knock her down and take the skein to the ball winder by force. Rachel H. was practically sweaty on Cornelia's behalf, and the whole time she was sitting there I think I had a vein standing out on my head as I looked at that skein, just lying there. It was like waiting for a time bomb to go off.

One time, she had to go to the loo, and she just picked up the skein, re-twisted it into a hank, went away, returned and unfurled it on her lap again. Just like that. I asked her if she would do that if it were a thousand metre skein of laceweight, and that time Cornelia looked at me like I was an antelope. "Sure" she said. Just like it was the most normal thing in the world. I asked her what she would do if she was doing colourwork. What if there was two skeins?

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In that case, she puts one over each shoulder.
I asked about cats, I asked about children....she had an answer for everything. It made me twitchy as all get out. She seems pretty smart, and she' s certainly charming, but I'm a little disturbed by this.
I've been working all day on acquiring some perspective and an emotional version of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" but I can't quite shake the persistent urge to fly to Sweden, break into her house and wind all her yarn.

I'm not saying that's right, or legal. Just a persistent urge.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:47 PM

November 7, 2007

I got nothin

I've been sitting here for a while trying to write something gripping, but it's time to admit...
I got nothin. I'm not even vaguely interesting today. I'm even boring myself. There's me and some work and the laundry...the same stuff I've been knitting for a while. In an incredibly bad move in the blog fodder department, I even knit the same thing last night that I knit the night before.

Smunoringinalhat05111

Another unoriginal hat, this one out of Liberty Fibers hand-dyed merino, held double. This colour is "Summer Mountain" . Judy, the dye artist who made it says you can get it here.

Libertysummermountain0611

It's really beautiful, soft and a treat to work with. This hat was the perfect thing to do with it, even if a set of mittens would have broken up the monotony for you guys.

In the fine tradition of knit blogging, having nothing to write about leaves the blogger with only two possible solutions. The cat wouldn't stay still for a picture, so that leaves me with the other.

Q & A

Stephanie M asks:

Umm... do you get anything for winning the furnace wars?

Of course. What sort of idiots would do it for no reason? We get GLORY and the priviledge of hanging something over your siblings head for a whole year. (We also get a lower energy bill, and the good feeling you get from doing the planet a favour.... but did I mention the GLORY?)

Saranlap (and she wasn't the only one) has a question about the charts and "no stitch" for the Unoriginal Hat:

Help! Love the hat but I'm confused by this 'no stitch' stitch...what do you do when you get to this placeholder? Just slip the stitch without doing anything to it??

Nope, you ignore it. If you ever see a "no stitch" or greyed out spot on a chart, you just pretend it isn't there. It's usually a result of a decrease on a previous row that sort of disappeared the stitch that would be there. If you have 14 stitches on a chart and on a row you decrease four of them, then there has to be a way to handle the missing stitches on the next row of the chart. That's what the "no stitch" does. It says "There used to be a stitch here, but there isn't any more. Move along. Nothing to see here."

If you come to a "no stitch" stitch on a chart, just go to the next square that isn't greyed out and carry on. Pretend it wasn't even there.

Karen asks about my new charting software:

That is an amazing piece of software. And does that fact that you are using it mean it is Mac-compatible?

A-yup. It's a miracle. You need a minimum of Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run it. I'm still boggling about the price. With the Canadian economy booming so fast and the US economy....well, being less so, the Canadian dollar is worth $1.09 US today. That means that not only did I get good software for the Mac, I feel like I got it on sale.
(I'm starting to understand the line-up at the border.)

Kassia is looking for the yarn:

Where did you get the yarn, though? I looked on Blue Moon's website and they don't have a yarn available called "Leticia."

It's true. I have it on good authority that they have a boatload of the stuff, but it's just not up on the website right now. It'll go up there really soon, in a lot of colourways. I got some the last time it went by.
UPDATE: Apparently I just don't pay attention. It's up now, and the page is here.

Finally, a whole bunch of you asked for the gauge on that yarn. The label on Leticia says that it's 2 stitches per inch on size 10 needles (which I presume is US sizing.) There's 80 yards (73 m) to 3.5 oz (100 g).
Happy Hunting!

Posted by Stephanie at 1:13 PM

November 6, 2007

An Unoriginal Hat

Yesterday morning, when Sam's buddy Emily turned up to walk to school, she was wearing a cute, bulky knit cap. When I asked her who had made it for her, she looked at me like I was crazy like a bag of wet weasels and said "The store?"

Well. I grabbed my camera and took a picture of it, then went stash diving until I found a skein of yarn that would work.

Leticiayarn0611

then sketched out what I wanted,

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then I knit a swatch and knit the beast up.

Unoriginalhatrs0611

After that, because I was so pleased and because I have a brand spankin' new copy of Knit Visualizer (which I love with a deep and burning affection.) I charted my graph paper scribbles into something that you can use too, and now we can all make Unoriginal Hats.

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(For anybody worried about copyright, I assure you that my "copy" is merely inspired by and eventually rather different from the original hat...and that there are no worries.)
Please note that this is my first charting escapade, and that it has not been test knit. I think it works though.

An Unoriginal Hat.

Materials: I skein Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Leticia" (Mine is in the colourway "Rooster Rock")
5 double pointed needles, size 7mm.

Gauge: about 12 stitches to 10cm, measured over cable pattern.
Size: It fits me (ladies small) and Meg (ladies medium) If you wanted a bigger one, you could go up a needle size.

Hat: Cast on 56 stitches, and distribute evenly (14 stitches on each needle) over 4 needles. This hat is worked in the round.

Set up row: *K4, P3, K4, P3 repeat from * around. (The set up and cable pattern runs over 14 stitches, so if you divide it onto 4 needles you will work the set up sequence and the chart once on each needle. Simple)

Work rows 1-16 of the chart twice, then the rest of the chart.
Break yarn, thread through remaining stitches, pull tight and fasten off. (Note: Until I can figure out how to fix it on the chart, please note that on row 20 , stitch 9 should be "no stitch". You'll end up with 4 stitches across the row.)

Unoriginalhat2T

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Enjoy!

(PS. I turned my heat on yesterday morning. It was very cold, very windy, raining and appallingly damp. Still, November 5th is a new family best... and we won the furnace wars.)

Posted by Stephanie at 12:37 PM

November 5, 2007

That's got to be why

So my seven year old nephew Hank came over yesterday, and we did some stuff.
We did a little of this.

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Then a little of this...

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and then, because Hank had been so very, very good, demonstrating good listening and good manners, real helpfulness and even some small measure of caution around danger...Hank was allowed to do a little of his most favourite thing at my house...

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Using the ball winder. We determined, Hank and I, that his ball winding skills (you can see the focus there) are almost such that we may introduce the use of the swift soon. This would allow Hank to wind hanks into balls, instead of just winding balls into balls, and Hank winding hanks? That's something which little dude thinks is pretty funny, and you would too, if your name were Hank and you were seven.
He wound that ball into a ball about seventeen times, and was finally coerced away from the ball winder by Sam, who offered to bake cookies with him. Hank thought that baking cookies was a pretty pale substitute for playing with yarn (which is something I agree with entirely) but conceded to help Sam, mostly out of politeness.

They went into the kitchen and chose a cookbook off the shelf. Now, if I had not been playing with wool myself right then I might have steered them in another direction, because they plucked a Martha Stewart off the shelf. Now, I've got nothing against Martha, and if I want to make a watercress soup, she's the first lady I'm looking up, but I've noticed over the years that her baked goods don't always work out. They require a certain finesse or something, and it seems to me that any recipe that requires that you have your eggs at a certain temperature or that you blend things with any sort of precision can end ever so badly for anyone who isn't Martha, and combined with the talents of a seven and thirteen year old simply reeks of vanilla extract and impending doom.

I was playing with wool though, so I didn't come on the scene until the two of them already had butter in the mixmaster. I supervised enough to know that they had put everything in, and followed the directions with a remarkable amount of responsibility...but even with my suspicions about Martha's cookies being what they are...
Even I was surprised by what happened next.

Sam and Hank measured out the very ordinary looking dough into the two tablespoon lumps that Martha proposed. (Precision is everything.) They placed them as far apart as directed, and they put the cookie sheet into the (pre-heated) oven and set the timer. Then they hung out round the oven door and watched in horror as the cookies spread like a lava flow that ran right off the sheet in places.

1Stbatchba0411\

They cooked it for as long as they could, but even at it's most cooked, the whole thing was beyond inedible.
Poor Sam tried to cut it into cookies and rescue it....

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but it was hopeless. She scraped the whole thing bitterly into the compost bin while Hank watched with sadness.
I stepped in at this point and suggested that maybe it needed a little more flour? Sam stirred in another half cup and a second batch went into the oven.

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This batch only fared a little better, and were dubbed "cookie chips" by Hank, who agreed that these had to hit the bin too. This time Sam was more than disappointed. This time she was mad. She'd spent all this time, not to mention all of those ingredients and she felt ripped off. She blamed Martha, and thought there was no way that Martha didn't know that her recipe was either impossible or wrong. I suggested that perhaps there was a typo in the book (it happens to the best of us) and that we add more flour again.

We added another cup and a half of flour (thus bringing the amount we used to 5 1/2 cups, a big difference from Martha's suggested 3 1/2 cups) stirred it in and tried again.

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This time...

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they got cookies.

As Sam surveyed the disaster of amorphous, blobby cookies that had wound up in the bin, and calculated how far off the recipe had been and boggled that half of them had wound up in the garbage...I could see her getting really mad. Sam carries McPhee genes after all, and if we are as a clan, nothing if not frugal. It was infuriating to her to have money, time and food wasted. Her mouth was set in a firm line of seething resentment as she tried to scrape various disgusting warmish butter-goo-cookie-dough slurries off of pans. I could literally see her thinking.

"You know what?" she said to me, as she morosely chipped off bits of cemented cookie-lava

"I bet this is why Martha went to prison."

Posted by Stephanie at 2:12 PM

November 3, 2007

Unconfirmed

At approximately 6:22pm last night, Ian allegedly called his competitors home and when asked how he was (he has an unfortunate cold) by the young person who answered the phone, apparently replied "Warm. I turned on my heat".

Although his reasons for surrendering in the Furnace Wars are unclear at this time (and the rules do state that a phone call must be placed to your fellow competitors as soon as you touch that thermostat) the gentleman did make mention of some insulation being removed from a wall as part of a renovation on the neighbour half of his semi-detached home. When his sister was asked how she felt about winning this way, she happily replied "Oh, I don't mind at all. I know he's making a big deal out of the neighbours renovation making his house chilly, but I bet his neighbours turned on their heat to compensate. These are the Furnace Wars, not the furnace amusements. Things happen."

This corespondent then inquired if she had turned on her heat as soon as she heard, Ms Pearl-McPhee laughed. "No freakin' way" she snorked. "We're sending someone over to check and see if his heat is really on. All's fair in love and war, and Ian is absolutely capable of calling and telling us it's on.....just so we turn ours on and he wins. I'm going to need some kind of confirmation before I so much as look in the general direction of my furnace. We're sending over one of the kids to pretend we're out of coffee."

When asked if maybe she was taking the Furnace Wars a little to far this year, Pearl-McPhee replied "Oh, no. I think we haven't taken it nearly far enough."

(Secretly though, she is just glad that dude caved before it snowed. )

Posted by Stephanie at 10:44 AM

November 2, 2007

Make Hay

As a direct result of the dinner party last night, the dining room table was uncharacteristically clear of Joe's crap today. It turns out that he's not an idiot and even he couldn't get around the fact that the whole family for dinner + no dining room table = an absolutely indefensible position. He cleaned it up.

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I know an opportunity when I see one, and who knows how quickly Joe will have it filled back up again, so when I saw the table was still clear this morning.....

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I got all of the clean gansey wool carded, even though it was not Tuesday and nobody had bugged me.

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Turns out the weight of my own guilt is enough motivation some days. It remains to be seen if this will be enough carded wool to finish the gansey though, but I'm feeling optimistic. I may do one more batch, since I think having too much yarn would be preferable to coming back to this phase again. It's taken two (three?) years, but I'm starting to be more than ready to see the back end of this project.

Q&A from the comments?

Frances inquires...

"That mitten almost makes me want to wear mittens. How do you knit colorwork so quickly? Seriously? "

I knit colourwork with two hands, which I think is way faster than any other system I've seen, once you get the hang. I carry the main colour in my left and knit continental (picking), and I carry my contrast in my right and knit in my usual odd style (a variation on throwing). Works great, and quickly....and it also helps me to remember what hand I had what colour in. (Colourwork can get wonky looking if you keep swapping out which colour is in which hand.)

Anne asks....

"HOW do you knit so much so quickly? Is it just that you don't work full time outside your home? I wish I could knit at work ..."

It's partly that I can knit at work, though you would be surprised at how little it helps, considering that I'm a writer and am yet to learn how to knit and type at the same time. It's a pretty rare day when I can afford myself the luxury of knitting much during work hours... Mostly this job (even though it is at home) is a lot like other jobs. If I don't put in the hours, I don't get it done and I'm in trouble. Today I carded when I should have been working, and I'll have to make it up this evening by writing instead of knitting. Knit and read I can manage...and I probably get a half hour of simple knitting in that way each day. I knit in the evenings...or if I leave the house I often knit while I walk (but not ride my bike, obviously) or on the bus. I knit in queues, I knit on the phone.... I think I get the bulk done in two or three minute increments here and there while I'm waiting for something else to happen. There's also the fact that I've been knitting for 35 years. I've got some practice.
Mostly though, I'm the queen of multitasking. All those 5 minute intervals of knitting really add up. In addition, I feel compelled to point out that I neglect the housework. Profoundly. Frees up buckets of time.

Now, I shall excuse myself. I've really got to get my carder and crap off the dining room table before Joe comes home and points out that me leaving my crap on the table after sever weeks of complaining about his crap on the table leaves me in a pretty indefensible position.
(If I want the upper hand in these disputes, I have to be careful not to damage the high ground.)

PS. Furnace War update: Ian and I are both still in the running. (Samantha got up this morning and told me that she dreamed I had turned on the heat and the whole family was mad at me.) Last night it dipped down to 1 degree, and the high today is only supposed to be 9 (48F). Tonight may not help either, as the temperature is forecasted to be a repeat of the rather nippy 1 (33F) from last night. Snow is predicted for Tuesday, and nobody has ever taken the Furnace Wars through to the snow time. In my favour... Ian has a cold. That may weaken him enough. I should have never knit him woollen clogs and an afghan. It's like arming the enemy.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:34 PM

November 1, 2007

What The Blog wants

Usually when I sit down to write this, I know that no matter what I write, some element of the amorphous mass that I think of as "The Blog" will be disappointed with my performance, knit wise. (Did you know that's how we think of you all? If I have a knitting dilemma I'll say to Joe "Do you think this fits right?" and Joe will reply "I don't know...What does The Blog think? Does The Blog like it?" and I'll maybe reply "I haven't asked The Blog yet. I'll talk to The Blog about it in the morning." That's you. The Blog.) If I knit the mittens, part of The Blog will say "hey! What happened to the Sunrise Circle Jacket?" or if I knit on the Jacket then the other side of The Blog says "Show me more of those ribbed socks" and if I knit the ribbed socks some faction will surely ask me where my Tuesday spinning is. Today though, I have something for everyone.

1. I have attended to the Sunrise Circle Jacket until I ..er....ran out of clean yarn again.

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Apparently, I cannot be taught.

2. I finished a mitten

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(NHM #7 from Selbuvotter)

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and started the next one.

3. I worked on the Rotating Rib sock.

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Pattern mine, yarn is STR lightweight in "downpour"

4. I did indeed spin on Tuesday.

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Rachel H., Denny and Laura came over for a drink wine/eat soup/ spin evening on Saturday, and I started spinning this beautiful roving called "copper penny" I got from Steam Valley Fiber Farm at Rhinebeck. (All purchases will be revealed in the fullness of time.)

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So smitten was I with this roving, that I didn't ask what its content was. I would suspect mohair/wool, but whatever it is, it has a wee bit of glitzy stuff thrown in that is going to make it the best present ever for someone on my list. (I am not so much with the sparkles, but I know someone who will LOVE it.)

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I finished spinning and plying this Tuesday and now I have three skeins (which should be enough for a Christmas scarf) all good to go.

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5. I continued to participate in the Furnace Wars. I'd like to thank global climate change, factories and SUVs everywhere for making it possible for Ian and I to compete into November for the first time in McPhee history. We aren't even really suffering, and that's stunning. (Todays temperature is a little colder, but still it's a balmy 12 degrees (56 Fahrenheit) and that's not very hard to take.)

6. I did not work on the Gansey, but that's only because Joe still has an office set up where I would put the drumcarder. I have clean wool ready to go....so It's not my fault this time.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got dinner for 16 (just the immediate family) to pull together.
It's my darling Joe's birthday, and I've got to figure out if I even own 16 plates.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:16 PM