October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

That title is a bit misleading, since this entry isn't really about Halloween, but about the vest thing still. I do wish you a Happy Halloween though. Since someone will ask though, I'll just do it now. Amanda (19) has not shared her costume plan with me this year. She might not be dressing up. Sam (14) is being a ballerina... a plan that was in serious jeopardy last night when we couldn't make the criss-crossy ribbons on her legs stay up. I was thinking about sewing them to the tights when my brilliant husband came up with the idea of replacing the ribbons with hockey tape. The tape looks like ribbon and really stays up. We don't know how we'll get it off... but it really stays up. Meg (17) is doing a pairs costume with her friend Madeleine. Maddy is being the Mad Hatter and Meg is the White Rabbit. There was some consideration last night of Meg's idea that she should stuff her shirt where her belly is to look pregnant, since the White Rabbit is "Late for a very important date" and she thought it would double the joke. (Get it? Late? The White Rabbit is "late"?) Meg thought this hysterical. I, being her mother, was torn between how actually funny that is (which is quite) and how not funny it would be (which is not at all.)

Moving along. Questions from yesterday.

Bethany H asks:

I'm probably not the first to suggest this, but perhaps did you read it to be 19.75 to the shoulders, and it might have been to the armholes?

Good guess, but no, and I even suggested it to myself, since that would be a reasonable explanation. There are two measurements given. One to the armholes and one to the shoulders. Would have been a pretty sweet catch if that was it though.

Melissa (and a whole bunch of you) inquire:

I hate to ask the stupid question, but I'm going to anyway. Is it possible that this is an American pattern and that the numbers are given in inches? That would make a bit more sense I think.

It is an American pattern, and it is in inches - but so is my knitting. I think it's pretty hard, especially when you get into several inches or centimetres to confuse them. Check this out.

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That's the vest front (reworked) and next to it is a tape measure at 19.75 inches, and a tape measure at 19.75 centimetres. I like to think (although I have surprised myself more than a few times) that the difference between those is so radical that if I were knitting in cm when it should be inches that I really shouldn't get too far.

Mel says:

Actually, it looks like it would work well as a cropped vest. Does the pattern not show it on a model to demonstrate the intended look?

Yup. Right here. I didn't see that as particularly cropped when I first looked at it, but as Andrea pointed out, those look like 3/4 length sleeves, and even they are longer than the vest. I should have looked more carefully. (Or, as I pointed out yesterday, maybe I could have read the pattern where the length was clearly stated. Dumbass.)

Deb says:

Maybe it is supposed to be one of those weird Only Covers To The Bottom Of The Boobs vests that you wear a button down shirt under? And then you have like 14 inches of the shirt hanging out from under it. Like those teeny tiny Jackets That Are Really Shrugs things.
Like this?

Totally possible. Myself, I have a middle aged middle and there is zero chance that I would be caught dead in something that accentuated or highlighted the exact size and location of either my breasts or my middle, but it's possible that the designer is hotter than me. (Likely - actually.)

Laurie wants to know:

WHERE IS THE PATTERN FOR MAIRI'S SWEATER?

and Diane seconds the motion with:

HOLY HELL WHAT IS THAT SWEATER THAT MAIRI IS WEARING IT'S GORGEOUS AND I MUST KNIT IT NOW.

You can tell from the ALL CAPS REQUEST that they are seriously smitten. Mairi is wearing 'Kilronan' from Alice Starmore's Celtic Collection, which is, as Mairi herself noted in the comments, one of the only Alice Starmore books still in print and available.

In the end, I've fixed the problem with the vest being to short for my taste by ripping back to the armholes, working another repeat of the diamonds, and I'm over it. I think it's going to be the right length now - and if it isn't it won't matter, since I shall simply snip it up and eat it out of fury. I don't mind making mistakes in knitting as long as they are worth something, you know? Like if you're learning something new and you screw up - or you took a chance trying to figure a way out of a knitting problem, or you're designing and the learning curve has a couple of bumps on the way to perfection. All of that is fine with me. As long as the error yields something, I can suck it up. It's the stupid bonehead stuff where you knew better, weren't paying attention and had to pull back and re-knit something you knew darn well was wrong and are now suffering the consequences of only your own stupidity that just makes me furious to the point of seething purple rage.

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Anyway. I started the back of the thing. I'm going to go knit. There's a bucket of Halloween chocolate here that's destined to take the edge right off of this.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:08 PM

October 30, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

Today's knitting lesson is brought to you by the letter

D

For Denial.

So, I'm knitting that vest. Knitting along, minding my own business, churning out the yardage, and when I get to the armholes, this little voice in the back of my head says "Don't you think it's a little short for your taste?" I've learned (sort of) not to ignore that voice, so I say "Well, maybe, yeah", and I break out the pattern and the tape measure. I'm knitting the medium. I'm sort of short, but I like things a little long and I have accessories out the front that knitted things need to accommodate, so medium usually suits me fine. The pattern says 10.75 inches is the length for the medium, and that's what I have, but my inner knitter (who knows lot more than my outer one) says "that's not going to cut it" and I listened. I decided to use the length for the XXL. Awesome. That's got to be plenty long enough... right?

I keep knitting. The next time I think "that looks a little short" is when I'm done the front. The finished piece is to be 18.75 inches for the medium, but I'm still using the XXL for length, so I keep trucking until I've got that length, 19.75. I measure, remeasure, measure it lying down and hanging up, and in the end I can't shut that voice up, so I add a couple more centimetres. I now have a vest that's the XXL length plus a bit, and that's just got to be good enough, so I ignore the voice ("that looks a little short") and cast off.

I start the back. I take blog pictures ("don't you think that's a little short?") and I fold it up ("I think that's too short") and take it to knit night. At knit night, I pull out my knitting and lay the finished front nearby. Several people look at it and admire it, squeeze the cushy cormo yarn and compliment the colour, but they are a polite crew, and nobody says much else - with the exception of one knitter who asked if it was a cropped vest, but said nothing more when I said No. (The inner voice wondered why she said that, but my outer self blocked it.) I looked it over again. I thought about it some more. Finally ("DON'T YOU THINK THAT'S A LITTLE SHORT?") I smoothed it over my leg, then held it up to my front, and turned to the knitters and said "Do you think this is a little short?"

Molly, sitting across from me, has this look flash across her face for an instant, and the look said "Holy cow am I ever glad she's ready to talk about this" and she answers so fast that I know that she really means it.

Yes. Yes. That's too short. Totally too short. That vest is not long enough, it is too short. Totally.

"Really?" I say, feeling the first knowledge that a big rip is in my future, and everyone agrees. Really. Too short. I'm still dwelling in the land of denial though, so I defend it - and I confide that it can't be too short, because I measured, I checked the pattern, and I knit the XXL for length. Several knitters stare at me. XXL? That's the XXL?
Thus began a campaign to bring me out from the land of denial and try to match the vest with reality.

Here it is on a knitter who's an XL - not even the XXL it's the length for.

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Here it is on a knitter who's a large. (Better.)

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Here it is on a knitter who's a medium (that's me.)

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Here it is on a knitter who's a small.

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The width is fine. Drea, the XL, might need a little more room, and Mairi, the large, is a pretty skinny large, so she needs less width, but the point here is that it isn't enough length for any of the sizes - unless it's meant to be a cropped vest, or a vest that comes to just above the waist, in which case a couple of us are going to be alright.

My point isn't that the pattern is wrong. It may or may not be, depending on what the designer intended, I mean, for all we know, that's the length it's meant to be... and it's a pretty easy fix to get it to fit the way I want. I'll rip back to the divide for the front and do another repeat of the diamonds, which will make it long enough for me easily. The point is that the whole thing is my fault, because the length for this vest is clearly stated on the pattern... which I thought was too short, which then seemed too short in the knitting, which I then could see was too short when I held it up to myself, which I then KNIT ANYWAY, even though I know I like my stuff longer than that.

Sigh. Denial. Baby Elwood wants you to know...

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It ain't just a river in Egypt.


Posted by Stephanie at 12:41 PM

October 29, 2008

Drive by random

1. I wasn't going to blog today because Denny asked me for some yarn and I said "no problem" but it turns out that to find it, I totally have to "go deep" into one of the stash closets and I sort of made a big mess that I was going to clean up instead of blogging.

2. Screw that.

3. I'm knitting a vest out of the really, really beautiful Alice Field cormo (Foxhill) that I got at Rhinebeck and am helpless in the face of.

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It's the Diamond Rain Vest from Purlescence Yarns. I can't seem to find a link to it right now, but I bought mine off Ravelry.

4. The front is done.

5. I turned on the furnace. I know it's early, but it snowed for the second time last night and dudes, it was just too cold. (Also, since the game ends when the temperature drops below zero or it snows, and both of those things happened last week and I didn't cave in until it happened again this week? I won anyway.)

6. It was too cold to spin, on account of my feet kept getting numb.

7. Since I turned on the heat, I have a whole other bobbin of the polwarth spun.

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8. This appears to have made no perceptible difference in the amount of the polwarth in the bag.

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9. The colours are more accurate in the top picture.

10. Anybody want to clean up a big yarn mess?

Posted by Stephanie at 5:47 PM

October 28, 2008

Oatmeal On a Cold Morning

That's what this new scarf is like. Like a bowl of steaming hot-before it starts to cool down and turn into glue, perfectly right oatmeal with brown sugar and milk on top and maybe raisins. (Maybe not. I'm 40 years old and still not sure of my position on raisins.)

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I cast on for this scarf on Thursday night and it was done by Saturday and for one of the first times ever I was sad to be done with a project. Usually, by the time something is finished, especially something simple, I'm done. Way done. I'm either bored and ready to do something else, or sick of it because it's just gone on too long and I can hear the siren call of other yarns, or I'm just excited to have it finished and have moved entirely past loving it as a process and am ready to see it as a product...

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Not this time. I feel like I could have knit this forever and ever and ever, and I'd say that 80% of that was the yarn. The other 20% likely represents the brain cells I haven't grown back after the last tour, and the fact that I wasn't feeling well at all this weekend, and was therefore very, very easily amused, even by a simple 2X2 rib. I re-watched part of the Thorn Birds too, while I churned away on this, and do not even start to diss that miniseries. I love it. It's a work of art and an epic. Also it has a young Richard Chamberlain as Father Ralph De Bricassart and forbidden love and Meggie Cleary in the ashes of roses dress, and a rampaging wild boar, and thousands of sheep. What more could you ask for? What more could you want?
Seriously.

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Sorry. Back to the yarn. I got this yarn as an extremely good present years ago on a visit to Kalamazoo and it's been haunting me a little bit since then. It was love at first sight, and I've been waiting to knit it. It's Marr Haven Merino Rambouillet - Mule Spun yarn, and I think it's quite possibly one of the cushiest rides I've been on in a long while. It's lofty, it's bouncy, it's dense without being heavy and fluffy without seeming fragile. It's still got some of the lanolin in it so it really smells right, like it came from a sheep and it's rustic like whole grain bread is. I loved this yarn so much that I was asked by several people to kindly refrain from asking people to squeeze it. (I forgot that not all non-knitters think it's fun to play with balls of yarn, although we all agree that asking people if they would like to squeeze your balls is always funny, and is only compounded when they say things like "wow, those balls are softer than I thought they would be" or heaven forbid "bigger".)

I loved this yarn so much that I actually thought of ordering more as soon as I finished, which cracked me up a bit because the point of this scarf was stash busting, not test driving, and if knitting two skeins lands you ten more you're sort of defeating the purpose... you know?

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Marr Haven scarf. 1.5 skeins of Marr Haven Worsted Weight yarn in Medium Grey and Natural. 6mm needles. 28 stitches in 2x2 rib, slipping the first stitch of every row.

When that was done I cast on for a vest, but more about that tomorrow. Tuesdays are for spinning.
(See how everything falls into place when I'm home?)

PS. While I was in Jacksonville I met a knitter named Renee doing her thesis on knitting. (I bet some of you who were there remember her.) She needs volunteers to fill in her survey so that she can validate her theories. If you have a minute, can I ask you to help her out here? It's interesting work, and good for all of us.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:53 AM

October 24, 2008

A True Story

This was the scene last night, as all my nearest and dearest gathered together in an overwhelmed Indian restaurant last night. I had all my family, all Joe's family, some dear friends.

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I had wine.

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I had a corsage. (Thanks to Denny and Rachel H.)

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I had a wonderful time, and was feted and celebrated by all those who love me, and I tried not to be to uncomfortable with it. I have a hard time accepting praise, and I don't like people to make direct eye contact with my accomplishments. I don't know why this is, but I do know that it's something I need to work on. To that end, I have something to tell you. It happened on October 10th, and I haven't properly told the world. (I know. I told you I have a hard time.) I've told a few people. I even practised telling people at a book signing, but it didn't make me any more comfortable with it - and as a matter of fact, telling it only made me more embarrassed, which only made me more worried, which only made me more resolved to keep it (bizarrely) to myself. Then last night, I saw that my accomplishments mean something to more people than just me. That it pleases my mother, and my husband and all those who love me to acknowledge these things, and I decided to tell you - especially since I have all of you to thank for it.

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I know. Pretty stunning. Really pretty stunning. It was right there, right at the bottom of the list of the New York Times Bestsellers. It was #32 (which is not the absolute bottom but is very, very close.) and it's not on there anymore, but it almost doesn't matter. For one glorious, shining week my book was on the New York Times Bestsellers list. The best part? The best part is that it's a little like (I imagine) winning an Academy Award. For the rest of their life, that actor is introduced as "Academy Award winning actor insertnamehere". It's a title granted to them for their whole career... and being on the NYT Best Sellers list is the same. For the rest of my life, I will be introduced as "New York Times Best Selling Author Stephanie Pearl-McPhee", and that, my friends sounds like a whole lot of awesome.

Thanks to every single one of you who made this possible for me. It feels weird, but good, and I am grateful to you beyond words.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:47 PM

October 23, 2008

Frenzy of Intention

I have a wicked case of startitis. I want to knit or spin absolutely everything in this house. If I were not restraining myself, I would have cast on 549 things since I got back home. I get startitis like everybody else, but dudes, this is a wicked case. This case is so bad that it is paired with knitting delusion... you know the kind? Where not only do you want to knit all of these things, but you are actually willing to lie to yourself about how long knitting takes in order to rationalize your plans? I'm saying phrases like "whip up a vest" and "knock off a pair of slippers" (that's the cold talking. It snowed here day before last.) and my casually developing interest in scarves this season last night turned into a full on frenzy of intention as I realized I was planning to make three of the things by Saturday. This Saturday. This being Thursday, I've talked myself into something resembling sanity on that one. I never, ever, ever get startitis this badly, and I'm tempted to go back into my own archives and see if it's a normal by-product of knit related travel. I suspect it is.. since here is the rest of my theory on what's got me itching to knit.

1. Restraint. I believe that I am now suffering the whiplash effect of only having a couple of knitting projects with me for weeks and weeks. Limited to one or two projects at a time (even though that didn't bother me much as I lived it) I now want millions as compensation.

2. Size. For weeks now I have had only little bitty projects with me because if you are bugging out of a hotel room like a MASH unit every morning and carrying everything you have with you every where you go, you would start taking your "small underwear" on trips too. Every gram counts, so it's been little, light projects for me.
I knit some mittens.

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Basic mittens (pattern is just the "here is how you make mittens" lecture from my Nana that I've had in my head since I was seven.) Yarn is a "rare gem" (one of a kind) from Blue Moon in STR Heavyweight. Took about a half a skein. Size 3.5mm needles.

The mittens were given to Tina instantly on their finishing. (She thinks I'm generous, but really, it was all about the suitcase. No way was I going to truck around Heavyweight mittens.) I then turned my attention to these:

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A quick and plain pair of plain vanilla socks (made with a short row heel, because I was really grooving on the stripes.) Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock with the romantic colour name of "HS04 -Taos".

These were pressed into service (that's hotel room carpet I'm standing on) and a crappy pair of commercial socks went into the hotel garbage. Then I started another sock...

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STR lightweight in Basan. See? Little projects, and all those little projects together seem to have come together in an overwhelming urge to cast on sweaters.

3. Temptation. There is no need to go into the sordid details, but suffice it to say that I came home from both SOAR and Rhinebeck with some new best friends of the yarn variety. Everything I got was very, very nice, and I want very, very much to knit with it. I am showing a little self control, but in an impulsive move, I have already started spinning this beautiful Polwarth (I think this is a great breed.) from Francine at Rovings.

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I swear, the next time I see her I think I'm going to yell "Get thee behind me Satan!" since I had no sooner finished explaining to Rachel H. that I was absolutely not going to make any big purchases when I saw this and rather helplessly forked over my card. I'd try to lie to you and say that I don't know what happened, but I do. I saw Cheryl's beautiful (Ok. She only has the yarn there, but trust me, the sweater is a winner) handspun February Lady, and then I saw this beautiful roving and the sky opened and a bolt of lightning hit me, I saw how 2 + 2 could in this case make 46, and whammo, I was buying a huge bag of fluff before I even had my coat off.

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That happened a lot. I'm sort of not sorry either, because it brings me to Startitis cause #4.

4. Inspiration. I've just spent weeks in the company of other knitters and spinners and damn. Are you all clever. Really clever. Hugely clever. So clever that there's just no way that I can possibly not want to be all of you. Every time that I saw a brilliant sweater or a cozy scarf or a gossamer shawl or funky socks or a wicked hat or your one of a kind handspun or your colourwork mittens or your felted bag or tiny socks or Sanquhar gloves..... every single time, it was all I could do not to want to rush home right that minute and try to make what you all did, and I think that's the biggest thing going on here. Every single day for the last several weeks, I've seen a couple of hundred of real life knitting accomplishments walking around, and it just makes everything seem so possible.

I have been influenced and inspired by the company of knitters, and when I grow up, I want to be all of you.

Apparently, all at once.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:37 PM

October 21, 2008

Whew and then some

Dudes. That was a bit much. There really isn't ever going to be enough time to talk about everything that has happened since Thursday, and I'm officially giving up. I've been sitting here thinking (in as much as I am capable of thought, so entirely tired am I) of how to weave the last several days into a reasonable story, and it just won't come together - so I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to toss it out there and let it be out there.

Thursday:

Somewhat caffeinated (but not enough, by now there could never be enough) I arrive in Jacksonville and am stunned to discover that this is where the warm went. I check into my room at the hotel and lie face down on the bed until it's time to get up and go see the Jacksonville knitters. (Note to self. Interesting that this is where the warm is and that there are still this many knitters here. Proof of knitting's appeal. These people do not need to be warm and are knitting anyway.)

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I see cute babies and young knitters, this is Samina (from the comments) and Pete, and Kathy and Sam and Sydney and Channing (who is so totally an Annabelle - if you've read the new book. I'm surprised the picture of her isn't totally blurry - this is a fast moving kid.)

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There were first sock knitters aplenty, like Mary, Sara, Chris, and Lori. (You will note that there appears to be a Jacksonville outbreak of tiny sock disease.)

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Kimber made signs, and lots of knitters signed one of them and I got to take it home! ( That's Tricia helping her hold them.)

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Corrina felt badly that her friends Kathy and Chris couldn't come. So she brought them (sort of.)

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Carol brought me a washcloth, and Nikki brought Erin's washcloth. (Gotta love that team playing.)

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and Patti brought me a picture of the baptism gown that she knit in only two weeks. TWO Weeks. Boggles the mind when knitters pull of this crazy stuff.

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I did not ask her what those two weeks were like. We all know.

It was a great stop, and Kathe and her crew did a great job.

Friday.

I make my way to Philadelphia, where Juno picks me up at the airport, and then we had salad (bought danskos, which makes me very happy because I have been wanting some) and began the 2.5 hour drive to Rhinebeck.
Six hours later, after several navigational mishaps, traffic that we shall never speak of again and an entirely bizarre experience or ten - during which it became really, really clear that we were on a voyage of the damned....
We arrived at Rhinebeck.

Saturday/ Sunday:

I revel in the glory that is Rhinebeck, and bring you back pictures. They are bad pictures mostly, but I was very tired and the wool fumes are dangerous and influence my skills. They are also very bad pictures, because although I deeply regret being forced to admit that I am this sort of person, I have lost the piece of paper on which I wrote the names of some of these people, and had I not met hundreds of knitters in the last little while I might stand a chance at remembering their names, but I have met hundreds of knitters and it was Rhinebeck and I am that sort of person and I am very, very sorry. Kindly identify yourself if you see yourself... will you? I beg a thousand pardons.

Click to embiggen the smaller ones.

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Baa, baa, Jess, Maryse.

This is Karen (man.. I think it was Karen. If you're not Karen I feel really bad.) Karen (or she I'm calling Karen) is showing me her first, second, third and fifth pairs of socks. Her family is wearing them.

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I think that picture is so charming that I want to bake that whole family banana bread or something.

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Socks. Washcloths. Knitter fun.

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Lettuce Knit Megan and my boy Elwood. (I love that baby. )

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Kellee yucks it up, Ms Toomuchwool puts it away...

Finally:

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With that, I journeyed back to Juno's... lay face down on the bed until I had a flight home, and made my family squash like a good mum.
Back on track.

I think I'll knit something.

Posted by Stephanie at 7:54 PM

October 17, 2008

A coffee story

Dateline: Thursday October 16th.
Location: an airport. I think it was Boston, but it's not like it matters.
Time: Early. More early than I can properly be held accountable for.

Scene one: I get to the Airport. I default to base type and after passing though security (where I am smart enough not to buy a coffee before security that they will only take away from me at security because liquids are bad) I begin a search for coffee.

Scene two: I congratulate myself for not being even a little rude of violent before now, even though coffee is the link to life, and I haven't had one. (The lines are long at security and I did them coffeeless. This makes me double proud- especially when someone in airport line sees the Canadian flag on my suitcase and takes the time out of their own busy line waiting to tell me that I live in a socialist hell that is doomed to failure. I somehow managed, yay verily though I was COFFEELESS, to thank them for taking the time to share.

Scene three: I buy a coffee at the wee coffee wicket, beaming broadly at the girl.

Scene four: Juggling my stuff, I attempt to throw away some garbage. Due to extreme book tour induced exhaustion, I let loose wrong hand over garbage bin, and throw away coffee purchased mere moments ago. (I also let go passport and ticket, but only retrieve same from bin, deciding that coffee can be repurchased from wicket. Endure stares of random strangers who see me digging in the bin. Smile at them.

Scene five: return to wicket. Purchase more coffee. Decide to visit the loo, because I am still afraid of airplane bathrooms (having heard bizarre urban myths about awful outcomes) and place coffee on toilet paper dispenser while doing what one might do in the loo.

Scene six: Leave loo after washing hands, and return to boarding area of airport. Realize coffee was left in loo. Decide that picking up coffee from dispenser after committing ones own ablutions is not so gross, but retrieving coffee after stranger may have committed same is revolting beyond all reason. Do not return to loo to get coffee, but acknowledge loss and go back to coffee wicket.

Scene seven: purchase another coffee from astonished clerk who clearly wonders what the hell I am doing with all the coffee. Explain vaguely about coffee in garbage and loo. Fail to make sense. Return to boarding area with coffee.

Scene eight: Hear flight called. Realize coffee is barrier to effective boarding, considering knitting that is taking up hand space. Pitch coffee in bin and report to gate.

Scene nine: Misheard, apparently. Flight not boarding. Coffee wasted. Return to seat - coffeeless and in despair.

Scene ten: spend 20 minutes trying to figure out if I can return to coffee clerk to buy fourth coffee in 25 minutes without looking like raving whackjob.

Scene eleven: Decide damage to reputation worth coffee. Return to wicket, buy fourth cup. Avoid direct eye contact with clerk who clearly thinks I have taken all leave of my senses and am coffee guzzling maniac. Resolve not to submit expense report for clearly reckless coffee purchases. Pay cash. Leave no paper trail.

Scene twelve: return to seat with fourth coffee. Sit down. Pick up knitting. Embrace coffee. Hold tenderly in hands while waiting for black coffee to cool enough for actual drinking.

Scene thirteen: Celebrate moment of perfect temperature and then, mere seconds later, feel pang of horrendous bad timing when flight is actually called.

Scene fourteen: Weep, as fourth undrunk coffee is pitched in bin. Board flight. Decide humanity is almost beyond redemption and that I have picked wrong career. Writing not as romantic as previously imagined. Spend time in queue imagining jobs that have coffee maker installed at location.

Scene fifteen: Resolve, somewhere over Washington, while attempting to drink bizarre brown water that United calls coffee... that human focus on caffeine is not yet even remotely civilized.

Scene sixteen: Alternately knit, weep and sleep on plane - all involuntarily.

Posted by Stephanie at 7:50 AM

October 16, 2008

Boston Briefly

For the first time on this tour, I can tell you that I am well and properly tired. Wiped. Out. Almost incoherent. I would have blogged sooner today but I decided to have a little lie down when I got to Jacksonville (Today's flights, Boston- Washington, Washington Jacksonville) in order to stand a chance at doing anything other than drooling at tonight's event. I've not got much knitting to show you either, since a huge symptom of my fatigue is that I'm no longer knitting on flights, but just holding my knitting while I drift in and out of sleep and drink endless cups of coffee, and when I came in from the Boston gig last night, all I did was pack my things, gaze wistfully at a beer, and my knitting, and fall asleep without touching either. That means that all I've got to show you is the only thing I've done without falling asleep in the last 24 hours, and that was meet Boston knitters. Behold.

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I'm afraid you're going to get the short version (though it was a hugely entertaining evening) because I've only got a few minutes before I have to go to the Jacksonville event. (It's all running together now. I can feel that I'm going to screw something up soon. Maybe this blog post. We'll see.) Boston was all about celebrating firsts.
First socks (Emily, Martha, Jess, Amanda, Courtney)

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First knitter I've ever met who knit herself a David Tennant. (That would be Alexis.)

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First handspun colourwork hat for Rena

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First baby (I think) for Jessica (that's pretty little Cordelia)

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First cables for Lily,

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First finished Christmas present for Amber

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First time I've ever seen anybody figure out how to represent a bell changeringing chart into a cables

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(That's Asher and Mira - changeringers themselves - they call the pattern Cambridge Major.)

First project in the round for Tabitha, at the tender age of 9

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Finally, this is Heather.

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She dyes the Eye of Jupiter yarn, and she thinks that knitting a single sock to protest the lack of new episodes for BSG is the best idea ever. So we're doing it. Jumping on Rebecca's train and knitting protest socks. More later. I've got 4 minutes to get to the lobby.

PS. Last night Kimberly brought me a pizza, knowing that room service would be over by the time I got back there, and that it would be all meated up anyway.

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I almost kissed her full on the mouth. Best Stalker ever.

2 minutes. Gak.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:37 PM

October 15, 2008

A Brooklyn Sidewalk

Last night I arrived in NYC at about 4:45, and boogied over to Brooklyn, ( That took an hour. There are a lot of cars in Brooklyn) checked into my hotel, googled where the bookstore was and was thrilled to discover that I was only 5 blocks away from where I needed to be. Partly I was thrilled because it was close and I didn't have a lot of time to get there, but mostly I was happy because it meant that I got to walk in Brooklyn, which is something I love. I love walking anywhere, but walking in cities is something that I love best of all. I went out and walked up 5th street, past all the walkups and row houses, all with the window boxes and granite... the sidewalks are old and cracked, and I love every inch of them. I walked past a school, with kids playing in a playground outside, I walked past restaurants and little coffee places. I admired fire escapes, which I think are hopelessly romantic. I walked past the hundreds of different kinds of things and people in Brooklyn, and by the time I got to the bookstore I was in a great mood, and this is what I found.

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If you look closely at the second one, you'll see my buddy Danny from Toronto, who surprised me by turning up here, which is double weird, because I just saw him at SOAR in a whole other place. That boy gets around. The group was my favourite sort, small, eclectic and funny. Here's a couple of highlights.

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Here's Kerry, with a great big wall hanging/ pillow project. I'm only showing you a small part of it, but it was huge and gorgeous. When she's done, she'll have FIVE OF HER CHRISTMAS PRESENTS DONE. (I told her we don't need her kind hanging around these parts. Overachiever. It's October for crying out loud. What's she trying to do? Take all the sport out of it with her planning ahead thing?)

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This is Amanda, showing off her first sleeves. (snork.)

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Meet Joelle, charming as all get out, and beaming away with her 2nd pair of socks. (Yeah, I know. Not first socks. She was that charming.)

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Jennifer wants to say hi to her mom Anita.

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Eileen made a washcloth....
Carissa made a......

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Guy monster thingie. Very cute.

This here though... this is Rebecca and she is holding an Eye of Jupiter sock.

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She is holding just one because she refuses to knit the other until the second half of the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica is released from whatever holding tank the sci-fi channel has it in. While I support the cause (Geeks unite! Deliver my BSG to me! I will wait no longer for tales of Starbuck and the delay in knowing the final cylon model is frankly.... inhumane. Just saying.) I have to wonder at how effective her plan might be. I'm not sure how much the sci-fi channel cares that Rebecca will not knit the second sock until they comply... but it's good that she's taking a stand. I salute her.. and may poke around in my stash for my Eye of Jupiter yarn too. Maybe they won't be able to ignore the clear cry for help that is two unfinished socks that still aren't a pair.

Stand taken, books signed, knitters adored, I slipped of back into the night, had dinner with a friend, and tripped back down the Brooklyn sidewalk, on a beautiful early autumn night, fallen leaves between me and the sidewalk, with the big full moon shining down on me. It was awesome.
Today I'm in Boston - and I'll see some of you here, tonight. (Tomorrow is Jacksonville, Florida, and Saturday SUNDAY (I think I'm a little tired) is 10:45 at Rhinebeck (just a signing, with all of the other authors there - not a talk.) See you there?

PS. Today is the last day of voting for the Bloggers Choice awards, and it's possible that I'm currently being beaten by a guy who writes a blog about radio controlled things, and while I'm sure it's a really good blog and I really wouldn't mind being beaten by another knitter.... well. Never mind. All I'm trying to say is that it's the last day, and if you think I deserve it, I'd love your vote. (I'm sure the radio guy would love it too.... you know. If you roll that way.)

Posted by Stephanie at 11:03 AM

October 14, 2008

From the Kansas City Airport

(Where I simply cannot recommend Cinnabon's coffee.) My plane - the third in 24 hours, to be immediately followed by the fourth, is leaving really soon, but there's free wifi here, so I thought I'd take a run at reporting on last night. I'm going straight from the airport in NYC to the Brooklyn Barnes and Noble where I'm speaking tonight, unless there's time to pop in at the hotel - so I feel like I should make hay while the sun shines. I have 26 minutes.

This tour doesn't have a lot of time for absorbing and reflecting all of the places I'm going. Some times people say that they think it might be fun to be on a book tour and see all these places, and for sure, some parts are totally fun, but the thing that it is least of all, is a visit with the city I'm going to. I see the airport. A cab. A hotel and a book/yarn store - and then I'm onto the next one. I can tell you that there is a river in Kansas City. I can tell you it's beautiful. There are indeed, cows near the airport, as promised - and no tornados, as Sam feared. (I was a little nervous too, but it turns out that the tornadoes are mostly in the spring. It was a little windy. I asked. ) Beyond that - all I saw was the bookstore owners (Roger and Vivien - who are lovely, well organized souls) and the knitters.

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(Note here. Now I'm on a plane, (where I also can't recommend United's coffee) I totally ran out of time, so I'm now writing from very high up - somewhere between Kansas City and Chicago. Does Chicago have free wifi?)

There were charming young knitters, like Amy (6) and Kathryn (seen here with her mum Carissa and her little brother Ryan, exhausted from his good behaviour) and there was Liz, celebrating her 13th Birthday.

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Cheryl brought a fantastic washcloth. (Wait until you see what I do with all of these.)

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There were first sock knitters... like Karen and Hattie Lynn, who actually showed up with one first sock and photographic proof that at one time there was a second first sock, except that she showed the gory evidence that her dog had eaten its mate. Horrific thing to see. Shivers down my spine. The total reason I have a cat. Next is Melissa, Shari, Nicole and finally Emily - all forming a fine first sock brigade indeed.

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( 12: 40 - Now I'm in Chicago, but there isn't free wifi, and I'm not buying it for the 10 minutes I have here. I'm boarding for NYC in a couple of minutes. Maybe I'll make it to the hotel before the event to post. No time for coffee.)

(2:04 - or maybe 3:04. When does a time change start if you're flying? Back up in the air, eating chex mix (which I think is one of the best things about the USA) and an apple, which is what is serving as lunch today, and were the only two things I had time to buy in Chicago. Breakfast was the aforementioned Cinnabon coffee and half of what was pretending to be a cinnamon bun, but in reality was a diabetic coma in baked form. It was the only vegetarian thing to eat on the security side of the Kansas City Airport. Nutrition is a pretty big problem on the road. )

I want you to meet three other knitters. This one is knitting his own kilt hose, which is the only responsible thing to do, since he's a big enough knitter that he shouldn't ask it of another...


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This knitter brought pictures of her very own hand knit (by her) wedding dress - so beautiful you could cry over it. The skirt was so full that I bet the cast off took DAYS. Mind bending, traumatic, I can't believe I'm doing this sort of days. Looks totally worth it.

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This knitter brought me a wee wool pig (currently in the belly of the airplane - I have been hoping all day that my bag got searched and someone wondered what he was doing perched on the top of my belongings. )

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Some knitters brought me babies, though I didn't get to keep them... There's Emily and Evelyn, and Rebekah and Samantha

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Then the last knitters trickled off into the night....

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I signed more books for mail order and other mysterious bookstore reasons, and I drifted off, back to the hotel and into my bed for the night. I managed to knit about 3 rows on my new project before I was entirely unconscious, and it occurred to me as I wrote that I haven't shown you what I started for this round of plane knitting. I know I said it would be lace, and it sort of is..

It's a skirt that I've been enchanted with for a while. It's designed by Ruth Sørensen, and I bought the yarn at Madrona last year after seeing an example of it in Ruth's class. (If you click this link, I've got a picture of it in a couple of samples in that entry.) Her example was knit of Evilla, a yarn with even longer repeats than Kauni, which is what I'm using, so I'm messing with things a little bit to make sure that I get only one repeat of the run all the way through the skirt. If things go well, it will be black near the waist, graduations of grey through the skirt, fading to palest grey at the hem.

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I want equal proportions of each - more or less, but the skirt gets wider as it gets longer. Therefore, I've gutted and gored several balls of Kauni, dividing them each into one run of the repeat. At the beginning I used three balls, knitting one round from each of them in turn to extend the repeat. Now I'm at the grey, and I'm using four balls.

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I imagine that as I get down towards the palest part things shall become very complex indeed, but I'm trying not to worry about it just yet. I'm just knitting and drinking bad airline coffee until I get to Brooklyn.

(PS. Happy election day to Canadians - I know we're all thrilled that today concludes the six weeks of campaigning and releases us from any more conversations about bad sweaters, earnest moustaches and which national language you're telling the truth in. Don't forget to go vote. I did the advance poll thing - I've been counted. Remember that all you need to vote, even if you didn't get your voter card (or you lost it - or you just decided today that you really do care who runs this country) is to turn up at your local polling station with something that proves your address (like a bill) and your identification. Takes two minutes and gives you the right to complain about politicians until the next go 'round - and considering our current crop... you wouldn't want to be left out of that... would you?)

(PPS, if anybody at tonight's talk is the sort who would know, I would love an election update from home.)

(PPPS - posted from the hotel - where I just have time to make this go before I do.)

Posted by Stephanie at 5:58 PM

October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Radio silence again, sorry about that. I actually did mean to be blogging at SOAR, but I couldn't connect to the internet there. Everyone (almost) around me could, and my laptop rudely refused to make an effort, and there's no arguing with technology. There were times that it seemed like it was a blessing, since the class schedule (and social schedule) of the retreat moves at breakneck speed. I leaned all sorts of new things, I bought a very few lovely items, I enjoyed the company of seldom seen friends, and when it was all over, Rachel H, Denny and I drove back to Canada in time for my Thanksgiving dinner with my family, one load of laundry, five hours of sleep, one cup of coffee (that I'm drinking now) and I'm off again. Cab to the airport in 10 minutes. You can click here for my schedule for the rest of the week, and I'll blog later from somewhere else.
Whew.

(PS. Have you seen my brown shoes?..... I could have sworn I put them by the door...)

Posted by Stephanie at 5:46 AM

October 8, 2008

Dropping in

That's all I'm doing here at home. Dropping in. I came home from Seattle yesterday and I'm leaving for SOAR tomorrow (morning, unspeakably early) and I rushed in, washed my clothes, visited with the family, voted (I'm going to be away for the election) baked them some banana bread (which was really more of a defensive move - the bananas were going to be a whole other organism tomorrow if I didn't do something) and dropped in at knit night.

I'm not even really sure where I lost a couple of days there, but it's Wednesday night, sure enough, and the last thing I really remember clearly was getting up at 4:45AM on Tuesday and heading for the airport. I remember there was a pretty good bagel, and a flight delay, and a whole lot of coffee... and I remember that I got home at dinnertime (time changes are rough) and then everything since then seems like a weird dream on fast forward - until I sat down now to tell you about Seattle, and about how much fun it was. I've been to Third Place Books a few times now, enough that I can start feeling a little bit comfortable. I know where the bathroom is, I know that their coffee is pretty good.. I know tons about it - but I never know who's going to turn up.. and it's always crazy fun to meet the Seattle knitters...First en mass:

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And then one (or two) by each. We had our knitters with sidecar humans, like Denise and tiny Isabelle (we didn't wake her), Jennifer and Sarah, Stephanie and Eviebelle, and Sarah and Jack. (I love Jacks serious little face, and see that? He's wearing a sweater I knit! I made if for his brother a few years ago, and there it is again. Lovely. )

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I saw the most charming little knitters. Hold your breath knitters, and then give me a collective "Awwwww"

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for Haileigh and her sharebear. That's Haileigh's knitting too, since she is a most competent and quick knitter - especially for a girl of only 5. Haileigh can hope, when she is a bigger knitter, to turn out as well as Sabrina (or was it Tracy? I think that was your mum) who's 7, Katrina who's 10 and Rita - who's 12.

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If those knitters play it right, they can hope to be as clever as McKenna, our lady of the stash weasels - accompanied by her sister Madison for the first time.

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As always, there was the first sock brigade, this time just Laurie and Lauren, which makes me wonder if all the knitters in Seattle know socks now.

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Lauren has, you will note, presented her first socks in 2-D form... since she was unable to get them off the feet of the recipient, which is a pretty awesome testimonial for a pair of first socks.

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Finally, there was my good buddy Paul, who turns up, as perennial as the grass, and always a pleasure. There were a ton of other folks, like Syne especially, who gave me one of her Sci-Fi books, thus preserving Seattle's place in my heart as geeky knitter central.

Seattle... it's always awesome.

I've got to go to bed. Tomorrow... I spin.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:50 PM

October 6, 2008

Green in winter

So I never did find my copy of my book before I had to leave, and in the end I panicked and went to my local bookstore - fingers crossed that it would be there. My mother in law and I went straight to the knitting section and I held my breath, because I really had no plan for what I would do if it wasn't there.

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But it was. (For the record, should you ever write a book, I thoroughly recommend going to the bookstore to see it with someone who loves you. Carol made me feel like this book was the most incredible achievement in the world. You would think it was winning the Nobel Prize.) It's funny seeing it there, looking all proper and book like. I bought one (which is a really bizarre experience), Carol bought one (which is also very weird) and I left for the San Francisco airport and then a drive to the pretty place of Santa Rosa... although things there are totally weird.
The nice lady who drove me around, when I commented that everything was sort of "brown" - said "Oh, yeah, everything gets brown in the summer. It'll be much greener in the winter."

I spent 10 minutes trying to wrap my little Canadian head around the idea of things getting green in the winter. What a statement. Behold. The thing that is the same everywhere. Knitters.

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Then there was Kelly and Roko and Justin and Susan. (I love the babies. Look at those smiles.)
(As always, click to embiggen.)

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There were young knitters, meet Melody, Amelia (she's only 7) and her brother Andrew (who is only three and would knit if he could). Melody's mum also gave me some info about The Fleecy Fun Fiber Foray (Sunday, October 11th, 10-3 at the Sonoma Community Center. (When you go, ask them about the Redwood Empire Handweavers and Spinners Guild too.)

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There were washcloths from Kat and Darcy, Christina and Lorraine....

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and the first sock brigade... Ashley (who thought that was the real size of baby feet. Can all the mothers give me a big "I WISH"), Carol, Kendra and Petala, representing for the men. (Was that your first sock Petala? Can't recall.) Karen with her daughter Andreas socks...

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There was Kara, with socks that knocked me out of mine.

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Just about quit knitting when I saw those. Very clever knitter. Another clever knitter - and friend to many, far and wide....

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It's Alison, author of Wrapped in Comfort and giving knitter extraordinaire.

Speaking of clever... if you don't know her already, this is Romi (aka Rosemary Hill.)

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She has a pretty pattern in Knitty right now, the Waves of Grain scarf, (which would be an excellent project to learn beading on) and a book coming, and she showed up covered in the coolest stuff. She always is. Check out her necklace up close...

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and how about her earrings!

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You know.. I think it's the diversity of knitterly brilliance that stuns me the most. Every time you think you've seen the coolest thing that knitting has to offer... somebody shows up with those socks or that book or that jewellery. Knitters are the smartest people I know, and I know some smart people.
Looking forward to more brilliance (or maybe just some sci-fi geek knitters, the place is filthy with them) in Seattle tonight at Third Place Books. (Free event, no tickets.)

PS. I forgot to mention it before, but if you're coming to one of these events, (or one of Ann and Kay's - or anybody else) I would love it if you considered buying your book there. It's a nice payback for the store, and it keeps the knitting events coming and reinforces that knitters are a market share that's worth investing in. It's a win/win.

Posted by Stephanie at 6:36 PM

October 4, 2008

Hey Hugo hold a sock

So - You know what would be fun?

(That's Stephanie for "take cover") I have been just obsessed with the picture that Tracy got, the one of Barack Obama holding a sock in progress - and yesterday, the look on Greg Kinnears face when Carol handed him her sock for a picture, reminded me that I've been planning this post for a while.

Take a minute and go look at Tracy's picture. I'm not sure why this moved me so much, but I just can't stop thinking about it. Perhaps its because I think that politics sometimes does more harm that good in the world,or perhaps it is that the image of a person out to promote their own purposes being asked to momentarily have to serve ours - frankly, just charming. Perhaps it is simply the juxtaposition of a candidate for Head of State holding a sock is just so wholesome, that I am amused to no end. Perhaps it is simply that there is a part of me that really enjoys seeing powerful people befuddled and confused by a handknit ....Whatever it is, In the spirit of what all of that means to me, I have a challenge that I hope you guys will take me up on.

Every time someone gets a World Leader, a Head of State, Royalty or a Candidate for any of those positions to hold a sock in progress....I will make a donation to MSF, and record it with KWB (I won't send myself an email though, because I will know.) I am hoping that other knitters/people will want to make donations too... and that they will send me an email so I can keep the tally. I'd love to see a million dollars in the sidebar, but I think that might be an idea that's made of crazy-dust.

Rules? You betcha.

1. No minor politicians. No Governors, no Mayors, no City Councillors. (The occasional exception will be made for other really cool people or celebrities. For example, I made a donation yesterday because Carol got the Greg Kinnear thing, and she (and Greg) are made of awesome in sixteen ways. Did you see Greg on Conan talking about how now he kinnears people? Crazy.)
2. The politicians and royalty of any country in the world are eligible.
3. No lawbreaking. There is no bail fund to get a knitter who snuck into Buckingham Palace out of the clink. Be careful and do not frighten, startle or alarm the powerful. Do not rush at them with pointy sticks, do not attempt to breach security in any way. Be aware that there are people in the world who would like to hurt these people, and that it is very important that you are not confused with those people...even for a moment.
4. Photographic proof must be provided.
5. The sock must be on the needles.
6. The sock must be offered to the powerful person in question by a knitter. (This means that if your cousin is an aid to Raul Castro, he can't take the sock for you - unless he is a knitter, in which case I'm really looking forward to the photo.)
7. You can't explain. All the knitter can say is something like "Excuse me...would you please hold this sock for a picture?" Do not reveal to the politician that it might have anything to do with charity. Some of these people are campaigning, and we are attempting to reveal their true sock feelings, not their feelings about winning. Besides, it's funnier my way.
8. By "Candidates" I mean anyone officially in the running for the position of President, Prime Minister, Head of a National Party, Queen, King, Crown Prince or Princess, Emir, Emperor or Empress, Sultan, Pharaoh.... or stands to inherit such a title through a line of succession (like Prince Charles) is eligible for the sock stalking.
9. Multiple sock encounters are permissible, and yay, even desirable. If someone else (or 20 other people) all get Barack Obama to hold a sock, game on.

10. This rollicking game of "hold a sock" shall be played without political agenda. Should a knitter succeed in getting a powerful person to hold a sock, this action shall not be considered a political endorsement of the powerful persons candidacy....or a statement of the knitters position on the issues. This means that if I were to manage to get a sock to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I should not be considered a conservative....just really good at this game.

Double points if:

1. A politician publicly says "Is it just me....or am I seeing a lot of socks?"
2. A politician actually knits on the sock.
3. A politician makes mention of the sock action in an interview.

This game is only intended to, for very brief moments in time, warp the purpose of the politicians actions for our own means. For the 5 seconds that they hold the sock...their actions serve our purposes, and that just can't be bad. I can't force all of the powerful people in the world to care about the things that I do...but if, while they are out in the world, convincing people of their positions and raising funds for their own purposes, they hold a sock for a minute, maybe all of the good, quiet, thoughtful intention present in knitting will transfer to them...just for a second, and maybe they will think about that, and while they do, we will have turned that 5 seconds into a tiny little fundraiser that suits our purposes. It's almost poetic.

Anybody in?

As always, if any member of our team is caught or killed, The Blog will disavow all knowledge of their actions. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:56 AM

October 3, 2008

it is too a real word

Many, many moons ago (like, last August - which I know isn't really that long ago, but this is the internet, so it's practically forever) I was knitting my way around North America and I was in the Toronto Airport, headed to Boston, and I saw Greg Kinnear. You can read about it here, but essentially, I didn't have the nerve to ask him to hold a sock - or I sort of did, because I am not ashamed of the sock, but it seemed to me that he had the air about him of a guy who was just trying to get on a plane without holding a sock that day, so I took a picture without him knowing.

I wrote that blog post calling secret pictures Kinnearing, because I thought it was pretty funny, and pretty soon there were other people who thought it was funny too, and I could believe the whole thing when it was just knitters and friends of the knit who were doing it, but when it turned up in the Urban Dictionary I started to think it had probably left my control. I knew it had when The New York Times made it official. (Two things about that? 1. Inventing a word is not what I thought I would be in the New York Times for. I don't know what I thought I would be in there for, but I was pretty sure that the article would include words I didn't coin, like "allegedly" and "unbelievably" and "repeatedly". 2. Did you know that if your name is ever in an article in the New York Times, then when you die they publish your obituary? Who knew.)

I've always wondered what Greg Kinnear thought of that. I mean, did one of his friends phone him after the NYT thing and say "Dude! Yer a VERB", or did someone he know knit, so he found out right away? I mean, if there's only 6 degrees of separation between any two people, then it didn't really seem so crazy that he might have known... and I wondered. (Essentially I wondered if I needed to avoid Greg Kinnear for the rest of my life because it turned out that he was born without a sense of humour or something, which didn't seem like it was going to be very hard, since we don't exactly travel in the same circles and I wasn't exactly going to have to start skipping parties to avoid Greg Kinnear.) I wondered and wondered (but I didn't get a restraining order or anything) and I was wondering... until today.

Enter Carol, a knitter strategically embedded with the media. Earlier today, Carol saw an incredible opportunity, and she went for it.

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Oh yeah. Guess who. Need another one?

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Whammo. Look at that. Supreme Kinnearing, but then our intreipid knitter totally went nuts and hauled off piled a sock picture on top of the kinnearing.

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Yup. She handed her socks in progress to Greg Kinnear and Harry Smith. (I love that they both look a little concerned and confused.) Harry recovered first...

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Then Greg.

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How much do you love that expression? It's mostly "wow some days is it ever weird to be me" with a little "I think I sort of like this sock" on the side. I think he's game. Carol said he was actually a brilliant sport about it - very funny and charming, which I'm delighted to hear, since I think you can tell a whole lot about a person from their reaction to a half knit sock. (A refusal to hold a sock is to me, a very poor sign.) This last picture though, this last picture is all this circle needed to complete itself. This last picture is proof that occasionally the wheel of life turns just the way you would have it do...

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because my friends.. that picture? That picture is GREG KINNEAR TRYING (and sort of sucking at it, which only makes it even better) TO KINNEAR HIMSELF.

Man. That's beautiful.
Carol? Ya done good.

PS. I am in California. I'll see you tomorrow (if you're in California too) for sock pictures at Copperfields in Santa Rosa at 3:00pm.

Posted by Stephanie at 7:29 PM

October 2, 2008

Hey, you in the sweater

I shouldn't even be writing this.
I should be doing laundry so that I have clean clothes to take to Santa Rosa and Seattle. I should be folding those clothes and putting them in my suitcase. I should be organizing my knitting so that I have enough with me to keep me occupied on the long flights (Ok. I may have spent a while today stash diving on that cause's behalf.) I should be telling you about a new idea I have for a fundraiser for MSF. I should be doing more of the work for The Sock Summit. I should be answering email. (Seriously. It's tragic in there.) I should write a little bit of a speech for when I get to Santa Rosa and Seattle (although thank heaven, I've finally written a book that can be read at a book reading, which should help a lot.) I should totally go to the grocery store and try and put some food in the fridge so that Joe doesn't have to solo parent and come up with groceries. (It is a feather in his cap that the last time I went away, they didn't order pizza even once.) I should make dinner. (Or maybe I can order pizza if he's over it.) I should clear up the kitchen, so I can expect a clean kitchen when I come back. I should really, really find my one copy of the new book (I know it is here somewhere how do you misplace a thing like that) so that I can read from it at the readings, although wouldn't it be funny if I can't find it and have to buy one? Hilarious.

I should be getting all of this done, plus egging the girls onto their homework, plus putting my itinerary and my passport and all of my stuff in my carry on. I should be making a sandwich to take on the plane too... wait. Curses. I'll have to do that after the groceries. I should wash a load of towels because I've been putting off taking a bath because we're out of towels and getting into the bath without a plan for getting out seems like poor planning. I should put away all of the stitch dictionaries I took out today while I was obsessed with scarf ideas. (Yeah. I would have fewer "I should" items if I could have said no to myself earlier.) In short... I shouldn't be writing this. I especially shouldn't be taking the time to edit these photos and put them up, but after Joe and I did the photoshoot I was just so pleased that I can't wait to show you.

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It's Hey Teach! (Finally.) I decided to knit this because I've been wanting for a while to have some knitted stuff that could also be professional stuff. Knitted stuff that I could wear to work without compromising professionalism, but still be really knitterly. (I have found that this is a fine line to walk with shawls, some pullovers and definitely mittens.) I want to wear my knitting to work events (especially since my work stuff often has something to do with knitting) but my work stuff also usually has some non-knitters around (bookstore owners, publishers) and I try (and usually fail) not to look too much like "that strange writer who always wears too much knitted stuff".

I think this works. I think it looks professional (if a little casual, but it's not like I'm a CEO or anything) and sort of chic, which is cool, because if I ever look professional or chic its usually by accident, and owning this up's my odds. (My mum says that this could be helped by lipstick, but darn... that seems like an extreme step.)

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I think I could wear it just about anywhere - anytime. I have already worn it to the kitchen and the bathroom, to rave reviews. (Ok. The cat looked impressed.) The buttons are indeed souvenirs of my trip to London, a charming gift from a knitter there (thank you!) and I love them too.

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Perfect.
Pattern: Hey Teach, written by Hélène Rush. Yarn, Misti Cotton (83% Pima Cotton/17% Silk) Colour 7032 "Olive Khaki". 4mm needles. (I often need to go down a size or two (or three) when I work with non-elastic fibres. They make me loose.) Needle gauge necklace that I adore (someone will ask) from Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks. (I love that necklace for the same reason I love this sweater. Knitterly, but not overtly so. Like a little inside knit joke or a secret password.)

Modifications? Yup. I lengthened the distance between the ribbing and the underarm and added a little more length to the distance between the neck scoop and the shoulder. After knitting the pattern as written I found that I needed a little more room to accommodate my front assets. (I have no idea how I could have had them for so long, and still underestimate their precise size and location this frequently.) In addition, I made the sleeves a smidge longer, and shortened the body to reflect my height. (I'm short.) Finally, I only put in three buttonholes in the top section. I knew that I would never, ever do up the ones on the bottom, so I didn't knit 'em. Even with the rip and redo, this was still an astonishingly quick knit... if you don't count the weeks and weeks it took me to sew on three buttons. (Sigh.) I'm thinking about knitting a second one with long sleeves, since I'm pretty sure that this one is going to look seriously dorky with a long sleeve shirt under, and the Canadian winter is bearing down on me.

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It would look dorky... wouldn't it? Can I get a ruling here? (I'd ask one of my teenagers, but they think I'm dorky no matter what I wear.)

PS. Yeah. I'm wearing pretty much what the model for the pattern is wearing. I know it shows a lack of imagination, but she looks so good.

PSS. MommyknitsJen (Thanks Jen!) pointed out yesterday in the comments that I've been nominated for the Bloggers Choice Awards - in the categories of Best blog design, Best blog of all time and the only category I think I have a shot in (thinking I should win those first two is crazier than shaving hamsters for circus work) Best Hobby Blog. I'd love to have your vote, should you feel I deserve it. If you think I don't, there's still time (I think) to nominate your actual favourite. Party on dudes.

PPPS. I know. I've knit two things I adore and publicly said I think they are both perfect. I'm due for a smiting.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:15 PM

October 1, 2008

Proud as a Peacock

(It had to be said.) Yesterday Peacock Feathers got a tepid soak, and then the festival of pins started. The shawl fit, if I put the long top edge diagonally, onto our queen-sized bed. (I did start early in the day so as to not have a damp bed on the evening of my anniversary. I thought that just wouldn't say "I love you" quite the way I wanted to.)

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Big shawl. Blocking wires (I use and like Handworks Dressing Wires) went along the top to get a nice straight edge, and I had to use four of them to manage. I pinned out each scallop and crochet chain loop individually. I did try just putting more wires through the loops to avoid the pinning, but it didn't give me the beautiful deep scallops I was looking for, and besides, once you're in this deep with a project it just didn't seem right to skimp on the finishing. (That lesson, not to cop out at the end, is one that improved my knitting a lot once I learned it, which was embarrassingly late into my knitting career, but there you go.) I didn't block it severely, just as little as I could to show off the pattern.

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Pin-o-rama. Pinfest. Pinoptic. Passels of Pins. Profuse Piles of Pins. Pins-o-Plenty.
The shawl reposed there, pinned to our duvet until it was dry - or more properly that it lay there until we went upstairs at bedtime after drinking a bottle of anniversary champagne and I was all "Oh, hold on. Let me just entirely kill the mood by removing 200 pins from our marital bed. One moment." (To his credit, Joe laughed.)

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I loved knitting this shawl. To be sure, it's a big one, coming in at just about the size that the pattern predicted. (Good call on my part with the gentle blocking.)

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Pretty, pretty, pretty.

On the Fiddlesticks website, Dorothy says that this shawl is recommended for "experienced intermediate knitters" and I'd agree with her. The Fiddlesticks charts remain the best in the business, and her instructions are very clear and concise, and if you're looking to move up to a big piece of lace after working some simple things, this would be a good place to start. Challenging, but good.

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That said, if you're just starting with lace, unless your the sort who doesn't mind a challenge and learns quickly, you're probably going to find a couple of things difficult. Firstly, there's a lot of charts. They're good charts, and easy to read, but you're going to need to read them. This pattern doesn't have an easily memorized pattern (mostly because you're knitting a picture), and even if you do get the hang, once you do, you're off to a new chart.

A secondary challenge is presented by the charts themselves. Only the chart to the centre point is given. When you reach the centre, after reading the chart row right to left, you then work the charts reading left to right, reversing the decreases. I don't find this difficult at all, not even a little, but everybody has a different sort of brain. (I think you could get around that really easily by scanning and reversing the charts, and taping the two sides together, if you had a brain that resisted the effort.)

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Besides that, the only challenge is that this is a big and fiddly project, which only makes me adore it more, since it only gives you a better lace high when you're done.

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Absolutely worth every single moment. (Even the cast off - since, wow. It's perfect.)

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Pattern: The Peacock Feathers Shawl, from Fiddlesticks Knitting. Yarn: 50/50 wool/silk from Perchance to knit, in the Midnight Rainbow/Harlot's Peacock colourway. It took 108g of yarn - or just less than 4oz. Knit on a 3.5mm needle, showed off in my Mother-in-law's beautiful back garden.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:09 PM