February 26, 2009

Can you even do it

Every once in a while I get into a thing with my knitting. I don't know what happens, but it's like I knit like an idiot and can't pull my head out of my arse, and I either make mistake after mistake or generate problem after problem and I can't seem to stop. I've started this pretty thing, which is Miralda's triangular shawl from Nancy Bush's new book, Knitted Lace of Estonia (which is very beautiful indeed) and after hours and hours and hours of knitting...

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I have FOUR ROWS. Four. (4) Now, this pattern isn't hard. It isn't even tricky. It's not even rough to get started on, it's just that it seems like any knitting mojo I might possess went straight out the window when I started it and dudes, I can't get it back. At all. I am knitting like an idiot. Stupid, stupid rookie mistakes that I know how to prevent, and aren't anyway. It's the most frustrating thing ever to be screwed by your knitting and not even have anyone to blame but yourself. Here's the timeline:

Monday: I cast on hundreds of stitches, then read the part where the pattern clearly states that the cast on should be accomplished with the yarn held double. I rip it out.
Monday night: I cast on hundreds of stitches, start the first chart, then realize that I should have stopped knitting with the doubled yarn, like the pattern clearly states. I rip it out.
Tuesday morning. I cast on hundreds of stitches with the yarn held double, drop the extra yarn and knit a row, and then realize I should have started the chart like the pattern clearly states. I rip it out.
Tuesday afternoon: I cast on hundreds of stitches with the yarn held double, drop the extra yarn and start the chart, then realize that I have not cast on the number of stitches clearly stated in the pattern, and have actually transposed the numbers. I have 313, not 331. I rip it out.
Tuesday night: I cast on hundreds of stitches with the yarn held double, drop the extra yarn and start the chart, then realize that although I have been aiming for 331 stitches, I have failed counting 101 and have a number that is not 331, or 313, or any number that makes sense at all. I rip it out.
Tuesday night still (after beer o'clock): I cast on hundreds of stitches with the yarn held double, drop the extra yarn and start the chart, then realize that I have ripped and reused this yarn so many times that it totally looks like the dogs breakfast and is crap. I rip it out and toss the mangled yarn.
Tuesday night still: I cast on hundreds of stitches, with the yarn held double, drop the extra yarn like I'm supposed to, smugly start the chart (which I have knit so many times now that it is likely burned into my memory for all time, likely replacing useful memory storage like where I put my keys) and knit several rows (also smugly - for I have finally got this thing licked) only to realize, when I have thousands of stitches knit that I am absolutely knitting on the wrong needles and have nothing even vaguely resembling gauge, which wouldn't matter because damn it, how does a shawl not fit, but understand that knitting yarn loosely takes more yarn and I don't have an unlimited amount of yarn and that's another good reason to get gauge and damn it.... I rip it out and go to bed.
Wednesday morning: I fetch up smaller needles, I cast on hundreds of stitches. I recount many times and feel sure that I have 331. I place markers every 50 stitches to ensure that I have 331. I count to 50 six times and 31 once. I confirm with a calculator that this is actually 331. I recount to ensure that I have not made a mistake.
Then I rip it all out because I FORGOT TO HOLD THE YARN DOUBLE.
Wednesday afternoon: Using the smaller needles, I cast on 331 stitches with the yarn held double, placing markers every 50 stitches six times and use the calculator and check a whole bunch of times, drop the extra yarn and cut it so that I can't forget that the next row is the yarn alone, and feel really, really good about the idea that I have actually managed not to knit like an idiot for maybe.... fifteen whole minutes in a row. I celebrate by declaring it beer o'clock, work for a while and then go to the corner store and photocopy the charts so that I can mark them up within an inch of their lives and maybe prevent further knit trauma, and leave for knit-night.
Wednesday evening: I knit the first row of the chart, and complain a little bit to the knit-night ladies that this row is really hard because the chart starts right away, right after the cast on and that makes double decreases sort of rough and is a little unusual. I persevere however, and do not complain (much) until I get to the end of the row and have the wrong number of stitches left over. I curse violently, and recount the stitches to make sure that I had the right number.

I do. That means I made a mistake with the chart, and I carefully scrutinize that chart, which is clearly marked "Right Side" for about 10 minutes before the sick realization comes over me that if there is a "right side" there is likely a "left side" and slowly, like in a horror movie, rifle my papers until I discover the thing. The world jiggles a little as I realize that I am going to have to rip it back out. The knit-night crowd asks me what's wrong and I say I don't want to talk about it... but then I do. At length.

I start trying to tink back the stitches to avoid another rip, which I fear might take the will to knit right with it. After dropping several stitches back into the cast on edge, generally screwing up and knitting like I am stunned as a bat, I cram the whole thing into my bag, fish out sock yarn and knit some nice quiet 2x2 rib, just to remember I'm okay at this.

Wednesday night (back at home). I rip the whole thing out, perhaps aggressively and with some language unbecoming to a knitter of my age and station. I toss the now mangled yarn and try again. I cast on 331 stitches (quadruple checking) with the yarn held double. I drop the extra yarn and start the "right side" of the chart. I curse and swear about having to start the chart right after the cast on without even a row of knit to make things nice and when I am halfway across, it occurs to me that this might be a good time to double check Nancy's instructions, and that's when I see it. "knit two rows" before you start the chart. Clear as day. Right there. Totally right there. Missed it because I was working from the photocopies and didn't look at the book. Rookie mistake. Bonehead mistake. Totally lame mistake. I rip it out, maybe weep a few hot tears of fury, try really hard to remember if I even like knitting and start over.

This time, all goes well. I cast on 331, yarn double. I knit two rows, yarn single. I start the "right side" of the chart, mark the centre stitch and knit the "left side" of the chart. I even get the right side on the right and the left side on the left. All goes well until I get to the end of the row and have stitches left over, but do have 331 stitches, which would be grand except there is decreases and it should be less, but I have no idea where it went wrong and I don't know if I even care and for a terrible moment there in the middle of the night I may have thought about the fact that I have Nancy Bush's phone number and maybe I might just hold her personally accountable for my pain even though it isn't her fault at all and that's not why she gave me her number and that if I have to rip this out again, which I TOTALLY DO, because the four rows (4) that I have knit are arse, and now I am going to hurt someone, and seriously HOW HARD CAN IT BE.

Then I tossed it in a basket, watched a rerun of Law and Order drank two glasses of wine, thought about chewing the yarn into little bits...and went the hell to bed.

I am now knitting a garter stitch scarf in an attempt to protect my sanity and the lives of those around me.
Fear me.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:08 PM

February 25, 2009

I knew that

Abby and I are friends, and we regularly discuss a number of knitterly/spinnerly things (sideways?) and since you yourself are likely a knitter and have a knitterly friend or two, it should not come as a surprise that Abby and I regularly discuss the following. (At great length.)

-Swatches
-Swatching
-That swatches lie.
-Why swatches lie.
-The complex reasons that swatches are, essentially liars and can be nothing but liars, most of the time.

-If you understand that swatches lie, why swatch?

-The reasons that she and I both still swatch (mostly) even though we know about and have freely acknowledged the lying.
-The reasons that one of both of us might, understanding the limited, but important value of swatches, not swatch anyway. (Sometimes.)
-The consequences of both swatching and not swatching and how we feel about getting burned by a swatch when we do swatch, having carefully considered the pro's and con's of the swatching process.
- The way that the word swatch starts to look misspelled after a very short period of time, causing one to look it up in the Oxford Concise, even though you know that "swatching" and "swatched" aren't really even words except to knitters, therefore confirming nothing.

Yesterday, in fact, Abby and I had a conversation about swatching that covered all of this ground and more. We spent a lot of time agreeing. We believe that for the purposes of gauge, swatches are, at best "a hint" about what might happen in your knitting. Knitting is complex, and knitted items even more so, and it remains a grave truth that a 10cm bit of knitting will not reveal all there is to know about a sweater knit out of the same yarn on the same needles. A sweater will be heavier, for example, and the weight of the thing has to be considered. Will a whole sweater's worth of yarn be stretched by that weight and change your gauge? You bet. Will a seam up the side stabilize it and change your gauge? You bet. How about a front knit flat and a sleeve knit in the round? Whammo.

The truth is that swatches don't really lie. Swatches tell the truth about how that much knitting done on those needles will tell you about that much knitting on those needles, and that's where it begins and ends. Once you introduce other variables (size, weight, seams, blocking, stretch, fibre) and scale them to the item, that's a lot of variables. A great example, we agree, is that a baby sweater knit out of alpaca might be reasonably true to the swatch, because that's not a lot of weight. An adult sweater knit out of the same alpaca on the same needles is going to be a very different thing... in fact, it might even be a dress- rather than a sweater, because dudes... that's a lot of alpaca. In short, Abby and I feel that swatches have a time and a place, but that knitting a swatch really isn't going to tell you everything you need to know... and we also agree that the only reliable swatch is a full size swatch, knit and seamed like the sweater... which would make it an actual sweater, which sort of reduces the point of a swatch, if you see my point.

Now Abby and I also agree that despite this, we both still swatch (mostly.) Swatches are like a first date. They can't tell you everything you need to know about the person, and there are still things you're going to find out about each other when you're in a relationship, but it will at least tell you if he chews with his mouth open, spits tobacco or has a terrible allergy to hops that means he can't even be in the room with beer... or therefore, you.

Swatching can tell you if you are way off on gauge, that the stitch pattern doesn't show up very well in that colour, or that the yarn halos or fuzzes up so much that there's no point in even doing a stitch pattern at all because hell, who could see it? If you wash and block your swatch the way you should (and we agree, you really, really should) then you might even find out that the yarn pills more than an aging ex-film star with too much ego and money, or that it bleeds colour faster than my face did when one of my daughters announced that she'd like a tongue piercing.

Swatching gives you really basic details about what might happen in your knitting, but it is not the end all, be all and the fact that it's not the size and shape of your knitting means that it can be misleading, and that "getting gauge" in a swatch should be regarded as nothing more or than "a good sign", and that feeling personally betrayed by a swatch when it turns out that it lied is really a waste of time, because that's the nature of swatches. They're as honest as ex-husbands with new girlfriends and hair transplants who owe you child support.... on a good day.

Still... we swatch, because the information swatches can give you, if you understand it's purpose, is valuable and can really help keep you from making really, really big mistakes. Abby and I agreed on that. We agreed that not swatching, particularly for big projects, is begging for a big skein of whoop-ass to be opened up on your knitting, and that if you don't swatch, you deserve everything you get when you find yourself in a bad knitting relationship that's sucking up your time, energy, good sense, yarn and will to go on. We agreed on all of this, and we may even have been rather righteous in our statements of the same. I personally may have crossed the line to pompous... and that's why I feel like I have to tell the truth.

Even though I had this conversation within the last 24 hours, even though I stated all of the above and stand by it and I have practically yelled it from a mountain, written it in several knitting books, taught it in classes, lectured on it publicly and yay, verily, have been a knitter for more than 35 years...

I didn't swatch because I thought I was too smart for it, and just had to rip out thousands of stitches on a new shawl and got my arse kicked all the way back to the starting line with nothing to show for it.

Damn. Can you hear Abby laughing all the way from Ohio?

Posted by Stephanie at 2:08 PM

February 23, 2009

Very Clever Indeed

Thanks to all of you for the warm welcome for the Sock Summit teachers. Tina and I knew that y'all were going to flip the frak out, and you did. (Actually, we had a tiny crisis of faith the night before the list went up, and called each other and our right hand women and said "It is a good list right? I mean, we're not smoking our own dope here are we? It's a good list?" and then we read it again and realized it wasn't a good list. It's a great list, and we couldn't be prouder.) Glad you're thrilled. Class descriptions, costs, hotels and such are next, a few weeks out, and registration will follow a while after that so you have time to peruse. In the meantime, I finished the February Lady sweater, and I love it. Love.

It's not just that it's good looking either (although I really do think it's beautiful) it's that it's a handspun and handknit thing, and it just makes me feel so clever.

You know how when you're knitting - just knitting with regular store yarn - there's a certain pride and sense of your own intelligence? You keep spreading it out on your knees, patting and admiring it, and it's all because you're clever enough to be turning string into clothes all by yourself? Well I'm here to tell you that when the chain of events is so much yours from beginning to end, that feeling is incredible.

Endlessrovingpolwarth51108-1

I turned Roving's polwarth in Brick
Into this:

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My own singles, ready for plying

To this:

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3 ply Aran weight yarn, made on my own little Ashford Traditional

To this:

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Handmade buttons from Philosophers wool
To this:

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February Lady. 450g of sweater-ey goodness. (In the end, I had more than enough yarn. By a lot.)

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Fit's pretty good. No modifications to the pattern, except to make the "yo" increases "m1" increases because I didn't like the holes - as well as moving the last few increases to the shoulder sides instead of the armpits to try and avoid some of the extra fabric that seems to bunch up there. (I don't know if that was entirely successful, but I'd have to knit it again to be sure - so screw it. I'll find a way to live with wondering.)

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It is warm and cozy and light and the fabric is really stable and it goes with everything I own. (This is mostly because almost everything I own is orange or brown. I dress like a UPS guy or an appliance repair man.) The thrill of taking string and turning it into clothes is magnified by about a million percent if you made the string too, and all I can think when I admire this (and I am admiring it, an almost shameful amount) is this:

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Do you know how many things I had to do right to get this?

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Magic.

Question of the day: I have empty needles (well, except for a secret project I can't show you, and all those projects I'm ignoring) but I do have three skeins (750yards) of the Toots Le Blanc fingering weight 40/60 Angora/merino.

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I'm thinking lace. Suggestions welcome.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:54 PM

February 20, 2009

The Who

Just under these words, you will see the list of teachers who have done us the honour of agreeing to teach at the Sock Summit. (Soon, my pretties, we will be posting what classes they are teaching and what it costs. Hang out at that website. Very soon.) I want to take a moment to thank not just the teachers who's names appear here, but the generous sponsors making it possible, and that includes Simply Sock Yarn, Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks, WEBS, Skacel, The Southwest Trading Company, The Fold and a multitude of others without whom we would have just about Zip going on. I'm grateful to all of them, but particularly to those on this list who thought I was nuts when they first heard the idea and took the time to listen - or the ones who thought Tina was nuts when she called them and took the time to listen. (Actually, further to that, I Tina and I would like to publicly thank each other for the number of times we called each other and said this was nuts and took the time to listen.) As you might imagine, surveying that list, we were beyond intimidated by a few of the knitters. Lots of times we thought "They will never say yes in a million years." or "Her? I can't call her. Calling her is right out. Sorry. I have a cramp." Once we got our respective nerves up and called despite the cramps there were even more phone calls back and forth between Tina and I where she would call me up and say "Darn it, I think I just gushed all over so-and-so" and I'd say "Yeah, well. I just flat out told so-and-so that I couldn't even believe I was talking to them." There were calls where we both had a lie down after, and there were calls where we both had a stiff drink after. There were whole days with the phone numbers of the sock knitterati sitting on my desk while I hyperventilated over them. All of the calls, all of them, every single one filled both of us with a tremendous glee and gratefulness and surprise and happiness and...we are stupid crazy lucky to get this fine a cadre of sock knitting teachers. I think you can see why we were delirious as the names added up. It's a pretty historic list. Exceptional, in fact. As I told Joe, to put it in Rock Star terms, it's like I just hauled off and phoned Mick Jagger, Joe Strummer, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Stipe and Lowell George and invited them over and they all said "Yeah man, Thursday's great for me." I'm so proud to have all of them. Every name on there is a sock knitting expert or an expert in a sock related technique. Everybody on there is someone I respect, and some of those names are people I just about worship. (I fully expect to need to be resuscitated the first time that I'm in a room with the sum total of them. Start your CPR training now.) We got exactly what we wanted, nobody said "no" and I could be wrong but I think everybody on that list either thinks this is a good idea or is faking well enough to convince me. I was typing that list last night and I thought wow.

If you build it, they will come.

Holy Crap. This could work.

-------------------------------------------------

Cookie A has designed socks for magazines and yarn companies as well as for her own pattern line which is internationally distributed. She has appeared on the television program Knitty Gritty and has taught workshops around the North America. Her book Sock Innovation is due out in April 2009.

Star Athena is a designer and writer living in Portland, OR. She has contributed both articles and patterns to a number of places in print and online, including Vogue Knitting, Knitscene, knitty.com, and through Ravelry. In 2007, Star was a guest on diy’s knitting TV show “Knitty Gritty” and in 2006, Star began her US version of an annual online spin-along, The Tour de Fleece. She is especially proud of the ribbons she won for homespun yarn at the LA County Fair in 2006 and 2007, and admits to loving the way a big fair can combine excellence in craft with deep fried Oreos on a stick. Star knits, designs and explores the Pacific Northwest, all while writing about it here.

Deb Barnhill received a life-changing gift in 2001: her first skein of sock yarn. Hundreds of pairs later, she still keeps at least one sock project on the needles at all times. She began designing in 2005, with sock patterns published in Knitty.com and the recent Interweave book Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarns (written by Carol Sulcoski). In 2007, she completed the first 52 Pair Plunge in 6 months and 12 days. Sock interests include toe-up, unique constructions and clean finishing techniques. Deb is a wife, mother and pharmacist in Nova Scotia, where friends and coworkers enjoy raiding the "sock box" annually on their birthdays.

Judy Becker is the inventor of "Judy's Magic Cast-On," which has taken the knitting world by storm. She believes that knitting is an adventure, and loves bringing her innovative techniques to knitters everywhere. Read more about Judy's fiberish journey on her website Persistent Illusion.

Lorilee Beltman is the owner of City Knitting, an urban neighborhood yarn shop known for it's eclectic collection of characters we call "Yarnies". Sometimes referred to as "Cheers" for knitters, the Grand Rapids, Michigan shop has annually received the local Townie Gold Award for best yarn shop since opening in 2005. In the shop, she most enjoys teaching and observing relationships develop between those drawn together there. Her continental knitting video on youtube.com has garnered considerable praise.
When not entangled in yarn, she enjoys the woods, coffee, napping, being on water in any non-motorized craft, and camping with her husband and three teenage boys.

Anne Berk is a TKGA certified Master Knitter who loves to collect knitting resources and learn new knitting techniques. She enjoys complex knitting, but is also drawn to simple knits, beautifully executed. She feels that her job as a teacher is to make students comfortable, while encouraging them to try new things and discover what they are drawn to. Anne aspires to grow happy knitters, who will get great value from the time and money they spend on their craft.

Cat Bordhi has been a full-time writer and knitting detective since 2002, and also teaches knitting workshops, gives talks at knitting retreats and to knitting guilds, and teaches writing workshops. She lives in a yarn-filled house tucked away in the woods on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, where she is working on the next book in her New Pathways for Sock Knitters series, jumping out of bed in the middle of the night with new ideas more often than is wise. She is the indefatigable author of Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, A Treasury of Magical Knitting, A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting, New Pathways for Socks Knitters, and the novel Treasure Forest, and is also the creator of more than a dozen entertaining and instructive Youtube knitting videos, like "Slim and Trim SSK's," guaranteed to cure your SSK's of wobbles and flabbiness.

JC Briar: A self-confessed “technique freak” and “skill junkie,” JC Briar dabbles in all kinds of knitting, but has a special fondness for textured knitting and novel construction techniques. If it involves lace, cables, or seamless construction, it’s sure to catch her eye. She shares her enthusiasm by teaching at events such as Stitches, online through NeedlecraftUniversity.com, and on the high seas through CraftCruises.com. Regardless of the topic, she aims to build confidence by expressing concepts clearly and concisely, and by presenting skills and ideas in a digestible progression. When not teaching, JC brings clarity to knitting patterns as a freelance technical editor.

Nancy Bush found her way to traditional knitting techniques and uses of ethnic patterns via a degree in Art History and post–graduate studies in color design and weaving in San Francisco and Sweden. She has published articles and designs in Knitter’s, Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, and Threads. She has been the knitting contributor to PieceWork Magazine and is currently a member of the editorial advisory panel. She teaches workshops in the United States and abroad. She owns The Wooly West, a mail order yarn business in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is the author of Folk Socks (1994), Folk Knitting in Estonia (1999), Knitting on the Road, Socks for the Traveling Knitter (2001), Knitting Vintage Socks (2005) and Knitted Lace of Estonia:Techniques, Patterns, and Traditions (2008), all published by Interweave Press.

Laurel Coombs is a passionate and experienced knitter who loves the variety of techniques available inside the sphere of sock knitting. She loves to spread the love of knitting, and wants everyone to enjoy making their socks, their way. She's been designing for three years, as Lobug of Lobug designs, including sock patterns for the Unique Sheep's Lord of the Rings Sock club. Laurel knits and designs at home in Portland with her husband and three children.

Angela Davis is a CYCA Certified Knitting Instructor who manages licensing for rock bands by day and knits for fun. She has taught knitting at Abuelita's Knitting and Needlepoint, and at Blair I.B. Magnet School. She lives in Eugene, OR, and is positively wallowing in sheepy, fibery, happiness.

Carson Demers By day, Carson is a physical therapist who runs an ergonomic program for a San Francisco Bay Area medical center. Every other moment, he's knitting, spinning, designing, or otherwise up to some fiber fun with a watchful eye toward ergonomics. His passion and experience in fiber arts and physical therapy combine with his expertise in ergonomics to create a unique skill set which he eagerly shares with the fiber community to keep us all creating healthfully ever after.

Amy Detjen was the "List Mom" of the original Knit List for over 4 years, and started "Knit U" for XRX (Knitter's Magazine) while not organizing Stitches events for almost 2 years. For the last 12 years, she has been Meg Swansen's assistant at Knitting Camp, an esteemed position, indeed. She is passionate about teaching knitting and helping people learn about their knitting options. Amy has been teaching in the Madison, Wisconsin area for 7 years.

Laurie Drew is a knitter and an Instructional designer for Yahoo! She learned to knit because she needed something to counter the mechanics of technology and to relax and move her hands in different ways. An interest escalated to a need when she took a job at the University of Southern California where she worked on film shoots that specialized in "hurry up and wait". At her day job at Yahoo! Laurie teaches and writes instructions for a living, which means that her talents as a knitting teacher are very well honed. She loves teaching sock knitting because there are so many magic "a-ha!" moments in a sock to make her students feel talented and clever.

Abby Franquemont is a textile evangelist living in Lebanon, Ohio. She has been spinning since she learned how in the Andes of Peru at the age of 5, and can't resist teaching others. She blogs at Abbysyarns.com, and has written for Spin-Off, Knitty, Twist Collective, Spindlicity, and more. She is the author of Respect the Spindle, forthcoming this fall from Interweave Press.

Chrissy Gardiner designs knitting patterns for her Gardiner Yarn Works pattern line as well as various publications such as Interweave Knits, Knitty and Twist Collective, from her home in Portland, Oregon. While she designs all sorts of knitted items, she has a particular fondness for and obsession with socks.

Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (also known as PGR) has been called a living treasure of the textile world. Library Journal says Priscilla has "led the current revival of techniques used by traditional fiber artisans," and her sock-knitting has been featured in Vogue Knitting and Interweave Knits, among other places (check out the cover of Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Sock Book . . . those are Priscilla's socks). Among her books areSimple Socks, Plain and Fancy, which presents her favorite sock-knitting techniques and Ethnic Socks and Stockings.

Marjan Hammink founded Yarnissima in March 2007 and lives in the Netherlands with her husband and three young sons. Marjan has been knitting for as long as she can remember, and as a small child, her grandmother patiently taught her the art of knitting and crochet. She vividly remembers all the socks and beautiful pullovers that flew off her granny's long, steel needles. Her mother was herself a multi-talented crafter/quilter/designer - and taught her the fine points, as well as the lesson to work with the finest materials and tools you can find. Some years ago, an infatuation with the beautiful, hand dyed Rohrspatz & Wollmeise yarns from Claudia in Germany inspired her to design her own patterns, and socks walked off her needles. Yarnissima fine footwear designs are down-to-earth, but always with an unexpected little twist in them somewhere.

Anne Hanson is Knitspot’s owner and designer, a life-long knitter with a background in the fashion and graphic design fields, who began designing knitwear sometime in the 1970s. Anne also teaches and writes about knitting, spinning, and designing at her blog, knitspot.com, and lives in Ohio with David, who loves wool, too. Anne's background as a patternmaker/draper, technical designer, and costumer in New York City's garment district informs her work, providing a rich source of experience in garment construction and fit, as well as knowledge of a wide range of fibers and fabrics. Anne's design work has been included in Knitty, Interweave Knits, and Twist Collective, as well as several upcoming publications. In addition, her designs have been commissioned for several popular sock and lace clubs, including the Rockin' Sock Club, the Woolgirl Sock Club, the Yarn4Socks club, the Fearless Fibers Seven Deadly Sins sock club, and the Wooly Wonka Seasons of Lace Club.

Sivia Harding learned how to knit in 2000 and has being churning out patterns since 2003. Her work has appeared in magazines and books such as Knitty.com, Big Girl Knits and No Sheep for You, plus designs featured in the Rockin' Sock Club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and the Year of Lace 2008 subscription club from Make One Yarn Studio. This year will see several other designs in publication. Sivia is known for her work with exceptional beaded knits

Stephen Houghton: As an Eagle Boy Scout, Ironman triathlete and aspiring circus freak, Stephen has an intimate connection with socks. This knitter and designer can be heard on Y KNIT, a knitting podcast, genetically-speaking. His proudest accomplishment is teaching sock knitting long-distance over the phone to his mother, after her 35-year hiatus from the needles. Today, they make quite a pair.

Janel Laidman is the author of "The Eclectic Sole, socks for adventurous knitters" as well as the owner and editor of Spindlicity.com, an online magazine for handspinners. Janel is a recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest, where she is hard at work on her next book.

Judith MacKenzie McCuin is an internationally valued teacher, master weaver, spinner, and fiber artist now living in the State of Washington. We love her for thinking outside of the box, teaching only that which she has proven through experience and combining textile knowledge and skill with patience, creativity, stories, history and allegory that hold it all together. Judith is a regular Spin-Off Author and has written two books, Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning, and The Intentional Spinner.

Betsy McCarthy is a designer, instructor and author, and has been knitting and exploring fiber arts since she was a child. She loves sharing her knowledge and inspiring others. Over the past 11 years Betsy has taught widely at national, regional and local knitting events, including Stitches and the Black Sheep Gathering. She lives in Vancouver, WA, where she teaches and supports the local knitting and spinning communities. Her book Knit Socks! was published by Storey Press in 2004.

Denny McMillan ("Ohhhh, *that* Denny!") is a multifacted textile enabler who can be found working at Toronto's Lettuce Knit yarn shop. She has a lengthy history of turning even the unwilling into knitters, spinners and weavers -- and they like it when she does. It has been said that Denny could teach rocks to spin, and we don’t doubt it.

Melissa Morgan-Oakes was taught to crochet, tat, and sew by women who encouraged her to work without commercial patterns. Looking for new inroads in fiber art, Morgan-Oakes taught herself to spin and knit, designing patterns for her handspun yarns as she went. She brings the perspective of a self-taught knitter to her classes. Morgan-Oakes began teaching at Webs 4 years ago, and hasn't looked back. Her first book, 2-at-a-Time Socks, was published in December 2007. She writes, designs patterns, teaches and lives in beautiful Western Massachusetts.

Lucy Neatby is a passionate knitter, who designs and writes patterns to entertain the mind as well as the fingers. She shares her love and knowledge of the art of hand knitting by giving a myriad of entertaining workshops. Lucy has won many design competitions, including The Knitting Guild of America's International Design Challenge and her work has been exhibited widely. She is former Merchant Navy navigating officer and now the owner of Tradewind Knitwear Designs Inc. and author of "Cool Socks Warm Feet" and the Learn with Lucy DVD series.

Tina Newton is the owner of Blue Moon Fiber Arts and the braniac behind Socks That Rock, Sock Camp and the Sock Summit. She knits, spins, has forgotten more about dyeing than a lot of other people will ever know, has a thing for chickens and answers to the name of “depraved dyer” most days. There’s not much she likes more than socks, and that’s good news for everyone. She lives in Oregon with her lovely husband and three charming children, all of whom tolerate the wool as best they can.

Heather Ordover is a contributor to Spin Off magazine, Weavezine.com, Cast-On.com, and is the host of the long-running podcast Craftlit: A Podcast for Crafters Who Love Books. She lives, teaches, knits, spins, and writes in Tucson with her extremely supportive husband, two goofy sons, a couple of loving dogs, and a single melancholy skink.

Clara Parkes spends her days playing with yarn and writing about it every week in Knitter's Review, which she founded in 2000. She is also also author of The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitters Book of Wool, and a frequent contributor to Interweave Knits and Twist Collective.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a writer, mother, blogger, knitting humourist and philosopher and the author of six funny but mostly useless books about knitting, one of which spent a glorious week at the very bottom of the New York Times Bestsellers list. She lives in Toronto, Canada with assorted teenaged daughters and a long suffering husband, all of whom have her outsmarted. Stephanie avoids housework, loves to teach knitting and works very hard at both. She keeps the blog Yarnharlot.ca in her inestimable spare time.

Deborah Robson is a fiber generalist, with specialized knowledge about spinning, knitting, and weaving. She served as an editor at Interweave Press for fourteen years, including twelve years as editor-in-chief of Spin-Off: The Magazine for Handspinners. She also edited Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot and has worked for a number of other presses. Her sock-specific background includes collaborating with Rita Buchanan on Spin-Off's "The Joy of Socks" issue (Winter 1992) and Socks: A Spin-Off Special Publication for Knitters and Spinners. She contributed an essay called "Traveling Socks" to The Knitter's Gift and never tires of knitting, or wearing, handmade socks.

Merike Saarniit has been teaching workshops in knitting, spinning, weaving and dyeing for almost 20 years, and at most Stitches events since 2000. The combination of her traditional Estonian heritage and her contemporary degree in Studio Art contribute to her unique designs and workshop presentations.

Joan Schrouder loves teaching knitters to reason out solutions. Intriguing construction details, seamless knitting and ethnic styles fascinate her. She teaches classes at national knitting conventions such as Stitches and TKGA, plus travels the country teaching for guilds and yarn shops. She also answers technique questions on various internet knitting lists and Ravelry, and has designed for knitting magazines and yarn companies.

Charlene Schurch - Charlene is a process knitter who also likes to wear great knits. She learned to knit on the couch from Mom before she could read. She is also a spinner and dyer and fascinated with all the intricacy and beautiful simplicity available to the knitter with only two sticks and a ball of yarn. She is the author of Mostly Mittens, Hats On!, Knits for Girls and Dolls, Sensational Knitted Socks, More Sensational Knitted Socks and The Little Box of Socks. Charlene has also contributed to; Knitters, Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Piecework and Belle Amoire. The reason socks fascinate her is that they are sculpture.

Amy R Singer is the editor of the online knitting magazine Knitty.com which has had more than 65 million site visits since its launch in 2002. Most people who learn she's a knitter and knitting magazine editor who is allergic to wool think it's hysterical. Ha. She's perfectly happy knitting with cotton and silk, and wrote a book on the subject (No Sheep for You; Interweave Press, 2007). Amy lives in Toronto with her husband and their two rabbits, Boeing and Squeeze.

When Meg Swansen was 5, her mother, Elizabeth Zimmermann, taught her to knit.
At present Meg runs Schoolhouse Press, publishes books, produces instructional knitting DVDs, teaches at Knitting Camp, has written four knitting books, designs for Wool Gathering, has a regular column in Vogue Knitting and continues to be obsessed by knitting. She lives with her cats in central Wisconsin.

Barbara Walker (Note from Steph: Yes. That Barbara Walker.) is the author of the four Treasuries of Knitting Patterns, plus "Knitting from the Top," "Mosaic Knitting," "Barbara Walker's Learn-To-Knit Afghan Book," twelve other books on various subjects, and numerous magazine articles. Her paintings are featured in "The Barbara Walker Tarot Deck" and the card deck she designed for "The I Ching of the Goddess." Her "Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" was named Book of the Year by the London Times. She has received the Humanist Heroine of the Year Award from the American Humanist Association, the Women Making Herstory Award from New Jersey NOW, and the Olympia Brown Award from the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is also listed in that prestigious publication, "Who's Who in Hell."
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Barbara has worked as a journalist, dance teacher, professional knitwear designer, artist, and women's group leader. She currently lives in Florida and serves as secretary to the local mineral club (she is an enthusiastic collector) and is an active member of the Gulf Coast Humanists and the Unitarian congregation, for whom she has presented more than thirty sermons. She is at work on a new collection of essays.

Karen Whooley learned to crochet from her Italian grandmother at age 7 in 1974. In two hours she was literally “hooked”. Never quite happy with the way a pattern was designed; she would always adjust something to suit her needs, or create her own. In 1998, Karen started designing and selling patterns at the urging of another well known crochet designer she met through an online crochet list. Since then she has had patterns published by a variety of magazines and books. Her latest books are Savvy Single Crochet and Shower of Cables. Karen is also a nationally recognized Crochet Instructor, and her classes include a wide range from basic crochet to advanced techniques which include several different types of media in crochet. A California native, Karen resides in the Seattle, Washington area with her husband and two children. She is inspired by the lush environment and the creative art of her home state. She is a Professional Member of CGOA.

Anna Zilboorg is a reknowned knitter and designer. She was educated at Harvard, taught at MIT and then fled academia and set out on a pilgrimage that finally left her a hermit on a mountain, in love with wool. She is a teacher of note and experience, and the author of Magnificent Mittens, Knitting for Anarchists, 45 Fine & Fanciful Hats to Knit, Socks for Sandals and Clogs and Fancy Feet: Traditional Knitting Patterns of Turkey.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:16 PM

February 19, 2009

Broken and Fixed

Broken: Idea to get teacher list for Sock Summit up yesterday.
Fixed: teacher list (mostly) now planning for tomorrow.
Broken: Sock Summit website.
Fixed: by Sock Summit website people who are killing themselves to make tomorrow happen.
Broken: Tina's sanity. (Mine snapped last week.)
Fixed: Mail server. (Everything goes at once. Makes me want to rip all my own hair out and eat it.)
Broken: idea that things can be done on my schedule regardless of how many other people are involved.
Fixed: concept that organizing this might have moments that are like trying to nail jello to a tree.
Broken: Dishwasher.
Fixed: Dishwasher! (I used vinegar and anger. Remarkably effective.)
Broken: Dishwasher. Damn.
Fixed: Budget. Damn.
Broken: Promise not to order pizza for a week.
Fixed: point at which my stress level triggers pizza order, apparently.
Broken: Idea to finish February Lady sweater last week.

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Fixed: The problem of buttons for February Lady. Found some stunning ones at the Philosophers Wool booth at Madrona. Had them in my pocket ever since. They aren't just pretty... they feel good.
Broken: Card for my camera which was holding pictures (very limited in number) from Madrona hostage.
Fixed: apparently (again) only by my anger when I rammed into the card reader for the fourteenth time and called it a truly filthy name. It likes it rough, apparently. It then released the picture I wanted, which was this one.

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James. He works at the desk at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, he's a handsome devil, made only more attractive by his charm, his ability to get Tina into the hotel room she very adeptly locked herself out of in the wee hours, his willingness to discuss the politics of nuclear energy with Eugene, and his knitting. He's got friends in Toronto, and this one's for them. (He knit on my sweater a bit.)

Broken: Belief that I will ever finish that sweater.
Broken: Resolve to not eat chocolate as "appetizer" to ordered pizza.
Fixed: Despite my best efforts, the time- space relationship and the number of hours in a day. Would somebody do something about that?

Posted by Stephanie at 3:52 PM

February 17, 2009

Samantha's moving up

Urgh. Exhaustion is the word of the day here, and I'm spending all my energy working at bucking the urge to tuck up on the chesterfield with my knitting (and maybe go card some things sideways) with tea and the tv. I should probably just give in, since all I'm really managing is to gather my self up and go sit at my desk, not work at my desk, and if I'm not working anyway, maybe knitting and drinking tea while I'm not working would be more pleasant than sitting at my desk not working while feeling badly about not working. (Clearly working is right out.)

I'll gather myself up in a bit and bake a cake for my wee Sam, who celebrates her 15th birthday today.

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Sam is my youngest child, and that picture above was taken just about this time of day February 17th, 15 years ago (Sam was born at home) and I think it's funny how much her being my third has influenced the whole way I parent her. I never counted her wet diapers, nor made pureed baby foods for her... as a matter of fact, I don't even remember giving her solid food. I think she took it off a table.

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This more relaxed attitude to parenting, her last-ness... makes everything she does so bittersweet to me, since it's the last time a child of mine will do any of it - and that's both sad and thrilling. Yesterday was the last day I would have a 14 year old- and it makes so much of it charming.

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The last time a child of mine will go to grade nine, the last time a 14 year old will fight with me about privileges, the last time I'll see a 14 year old daughter off to bed or tell her for the 1678765th time that no, she can't go on facebook and I don't think the mall is a valid cultural experience. It's the last time a 14 year old (of mine) will blow off their homework ... Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I think that the fact that she's my youngest might be the only thing keeping me from flipping out (more) a lot of the time. There's a lot to be said about knowing that you're having your last argument with a 14 year old, and that there isn't another teenager headed your way that can give a mother fortitude.

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Sam's a pretty lovely girl, with a great big brain and a wonderful sense of humour (and deeply witty sarcasm) and I think we're well suited to each other at this point, although there's no end to the irony of parenting her. For example, I'm convinced that the only reason she tries some of the stuff she does is because she had older sisters to inspire and instruct her (I had a great moment as a mother a while ago when I heard Meg tell Sam that she aught to just back off on something, because Meg could tell her that this one was a "no win" when it came to this issue and their mother.) conversely, I think that the only reason that I can handle the stuff she tries is because I had her same sisters to instruct and inspire me.

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As she's grown, Samantha's been the only one of my kids that's given me whiplash. I go from not worrying at all because I know what I'm doing, since I've had other people to practice on, and then being terrified as I realize that every kid is so unique that nothing can ever really prepare you for them. I sometimes wonder what it's like to be a youngest child, and get a mother who swings back and forth from "I've got your number" to "what the hell is going on", sometimes in a single hour.

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Sam is bright to the point of brilliance, witty to the point of sparkling, persuasive in a way that's almost dangerous, difficult in a way that makes you want to rip your own lips off, and she simply won't be told what to do by anyone (which is a plus, I think... depending on which end of it you may be on.) I've met people like that before (and I occasionally spot a few of those traits in the mirror) and so I find her antics and adventures engaging, entertaining, terrifying and worrisome (partly because I know she's capable of so much more in every possible way - better and worse) and some days - I can't believe that this sort of incredible creature could have been made by me and some materials I found lying around the house.

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Samantha is, and has been, since the day she was born - a surprise. She was the only baby I've ever held where I thought that it was going to be a cake-walk to raise her. I felt sure, on this day 15 years ago, that having been taught about parenting by her sisters, that she would always be easy. Having done it twice before, I was sure that now I'd know everything about what I was doing, and that being her mother would simply be a matter of applying everything I'd learned the hard way from her sisters. Samantha had a lot in store for me. She's taught me a lot I didn't know about individuality, humility, learning and the fact that no parent ever really knows what they're doing - and that every teenager thinks they know it all. I love her to bits, and I'm grateful that she hasn't been easy, because it would have been a lot less fun, a lot less loud and a lot less interesting to get to know her. Thanks Sam, I love you, and I can't wait to see who you are next year. I know it's going to be someone even more wonderful than you are now, because you've been someone better with every passing moment of your life. It's a privilege to be your mum, and I hope the stuff we've both screwed up doesn't matter in the long run... I don't think it does, since Mum's and 15 year olds have been working it out since the dawn of time. (Maybe we could both tell ourselves that on the hard days.) Happy Birthday. There's no finer 15 year old alive, and I'm not just saying that because you're my last one.


(By the way Sam? Just because I said I'm grateful you haven't been easy does not mean you may infer that I want to have the talk about the mall again. Case closed.)

PS: To the anonymous woman sitting near me on the plane from Seattle to Toronto yesterday - nice socks. I have the same kit. Sorry I was too shy to talk to you, but I wanted you to know that I think it was cool that you were doing bead knitting on a plane, and you've inspired me to think about starting mine. They're beautiful.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:10 PM

February 13, 2009

Sideways

I have always laboured under the delusion that I'm not very good with my drum carder. We have an uneasy relationship, and I've never quite gotten it to give me what I want. I put the fibre in, the way I was taught to put it in, and I turn the handle and what I get is pretty good, but it's never been the fluffy, incredible batts that I want. I had, therefore, checked about eighty nine resources for hand spinners to try and learn more about it, and had seen the same advice and technique just about everywhere. Everybody I know and have ever been taught by has done the same thing. They open up the tips of the fibre- if need be, perhaps tease a lock open a little, then feed it into the carder. There is eccentric and rampant debate about whether or not this should be done tip first, or butt first, but if you want to start a nice healthy debate in a spinning circle, you can bring that up. (It's like stating your position on circulars or straights. People have opinions and fierce convictions.) This is the way things are. I encourage you to go check all your resources (as I have) to confirm that you think you know how to card. Imagine my shock yesterday then, when I was in Judith MacKenzie McCuin's class and she's chatting away, and is tossing bits of leftover roving and such into a drum carder while she's talking, and I'm watching her, because she's throwing them in SIDEWAYS. That's right, SIDEWAYS. Not tip first, not butt first, not even an end first, SIDEWAYS. I'm watching that, and I'm thinking something like "poor dear must be exhausted" or even "maybe things going into a carder straight isn't as important as I thought" when Judith just tosses the following statement into the air, and the world as I know it shattered into a million little pieces.

Fibre always goes into a drum carder sideways.

I swear it. That's what she said. She said fibre, and always and SIDEWAYS. I was gobsmacked. Messed up. I fixated on it for hours. I kept dragging her back to the topic. She'd move on and I'd say something like "I'm sorry, I just have to try and understand this. Are you saying that FIBRE GOES INTO A DRUM CARDER SIDEWAYS?" and then she would say something like "Yes" and I would say something like "Is this a secret? I mean, how can I card without knowing this for 10 years? I had carding lessons. I've looked at books. I know spinners. Why didn't somebody tell me?" and Judith would very patiently explain about the knowledge gap between the industrial wool sector, which ALWAYS FEEDS FIBRE INTO THE DRUM CARDER SIDEWAYS and the home spinner, where it's like we took the scaled down version of the equipment but not how to use it, and that makes sense. If you look at how fibre comes out of carder, it would make sense to think that's how it goes into a carder. I get it, and it's not until you think about how you might tease open a lock by pulling it apart sideways before you put it into a carder that you get the concept of what a carder is really supposed to do. (The irony that I have been pulling locks apart sideways and then putting them in straight for 10 years is not lost on me.) I heard her. I understood her, I watched her, and I saw the batts and she's right. It is not a load of hooey. It totally works, it works better, and still it was all I could do all class long to contain myself. It's still almost all I can think. I keep wanting to go up to Judith and say "just to clarify, you're saying that FIBRE GOES INTO A DRUM CARDER SIDEWAYS?" which I have actually done a few times and yes. That's just what she means.

Now, this is one of the most shocking fibre revelations I've ever heard. Seriously. There are people I have to phone about this. I mean, c'mon. Honk if you were taught the exact opposite of this. Honk if your drum carder instructions say the opposite of this. Then go try it, and get back to me. It's messed up dudes. Messed up... but there is one good thing... it turns out that I don't know if I suck at drum carding yet.

Posted by Stephanie at 11:30 AM

February 11, 2009

The Way We Roll

Still incommunicado, Tina and I, as we keep bashing out as much Sock Summit as we can before heading to Madrona to embrace the wonder of that weekend. Madrona is one of my favourite things of the year, and I can't wait to get there, although it's going to be hard to leave here. We're in Port Ludlow, where Tina will be doing her Sock Camp in March, and it's very beautiful here. Wanna see the view from my window this morning?

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Yup. Beautiful. It's almost distracting, and the urge to sit by the fire (did I mention the fireplace?) and knit instead of work is just about overwhelming.

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(That's Tina making her "there just has to be an easier way" face.)
We're getting a lot done though, which is about eight kinds of awesome, since one of the hardest things about planning the Summit is that we're trying to do it with a whole continent between us. Tina and I both have busy businesses and big families, and the luxury of a couple of days to shed all of those other responsibilities to get mammoth amounts of Summit work done is delicious indeed. Our goal was to see the conference center that Tina had arranged (check) assign teachers according to how many classes they're teaching (check) figure out what rooms to put them in (check) and start getting their biographies together so that we can announce the absolutely stunning list of them on the 18th. (Er... not quite check, but I hope effort counts for something. I'll keep working.) The vast majority of that last part needs to be done by email, and this place is very pretty, but the internet access has been dodgy, so our hours of work keep being punctuated by either Tina or I pounding on a laptop and screeching "OH COME ON!" The post-it note/bristol board system worked beautifully, although both of us now have now developed a positively Pavlovian response to the sight of adhesive office supplies of any sort. (Considering my love for post-its I expect that not to last.)

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Those six sheets of bristol board each contain a post-it for each class, colour coded by class length, room size, AV needs and such. We eventually needed a sub-post-it system to manage the post-it system, at which point both of us declared it "beer-o-clock" and had a little lie down, only to get back up and further complicate it by adding a hi-lighter marker to the mix, ostensibly to help straighten it out. (It didn't help, but I think the beer did.)

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There has been a little knitting, although really, the handspun February Lady I was hoping to have done for Madrona is now something I hope to have done by the end of Madrona, though I love how it's coming out.

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(Tina took that one. You can see I have my Pacific Northwest hair.) In any case, only forward to Madrona. I think it's going to be really fun, even if I don't have a new sweater.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:53 PM

February 9, 2009

You Keep Using That Word

Saturday, just about all day Saturday, I made my way from Toronto to Portland, then up into the hills to Tina's house. (Sock Summit World Headquarters.) Tina and I are spending a few days together to work on the Summit and look at the convention centre, and do all sorts of bits and bobs. When I got to Portland, I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you. First of all, I stepped off of the plane outside and I did not have a coat on, and, get this. I WAS FINE.

Seriously. No coat. In February, and I didn't feel at all imperilled - and there's more! There were GREEN THINGS.

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IN FEBRUARY, OUTSIDE. I can't stress enough how in my part of the world, the only green you're seeing in February is whatever mould might grow on cheese in the fridge, and frankly, we're so glad to see a living organism that we just about call people into the kitchen to admire it. Now, if you're in Eastern Canada right now, I need for you to brace yourself for this next one.

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THAT'S A FLOWER. A FLOWER IN FEBRUARY. A FLOWER GROWING IN THE GROUND IN FEBRUARY.
Its not fake either, and I know because I went up and touched it and looked at it. It's a real flower. They were everywhere in Portland, which means that their presence isn't just an isolated incident of lunacy planted by some psychotic optimist. Indeed, there was other evidence that the optimism is not just the triumph of the human spirit, but is actually warranted by nature. Witness.

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That's a rose bush. It's awake, and it IS GROWING LEAVES.

The whole time we were in Portland, I just kept stopping and taking pictures and screaming things like HOLY CRAP TINA THAT'S GRASS, and Tina kept saying that it wasn't like this up at her house (about 40 minutes from Portland.) She kept saying there was way more "winter" up at her house, that at her house, there was even snow. I believed her too, and as we drove up the hill to her house, I was looking for the winter and the snow. I had already decided that we might have a difference of definition when it came to the word "winter" when I was having trouble locating the snow... and then Tina shouted "There it is! There's the snow!" and pointed at a pile of snowy leftovers over by the side of the road, and I realized that something had just happened that never happened at home.

Snow was being spoken of in the singular sense.

This part of the world has a lot to recommend it.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:57 PM

February 6, 2009

The Button Thing

Turns out that if you point out to me that the buttons are on the wrong side of my sweater, you get feminist rant #27 Subgroup D - "Institutionalized and traditional impairment of the ease with which women move on the earth"
Alternate title - "Why your life is harder than his all the time."

I put my buttonholes (usually - unless it means doing something stupid to a pattern, and sometimes I just follow a pattern) anywhere I want to, but mostly on the left. I am aware that this is the men's side, and that women's clothing traditionally has the buttonholes on the right. As far as I know, this is a guideline, not a rule or a law - and I laugh in the face of tradition in this case.

The history of buttonholes (I swear, there is a buttonhole history) has the buttonholes placed on the left for men, because that means that they will be manipulating the button with their right hand, making it easier to get dressed. For women, the buttonholes are on the right, meaning that they would be manipulating the button with their left hand... except that it was assumed that while a man would dress himself, a woman would be dressed by her ladies, maids or servants - and so the buttons were placed so that the maid - not the woman, would have an easier time.

(Never mind, of course, that this meant that the maid was arsed when she dressed herself, because that's a lead in to a rant about social ranking, and I'm already in deep enough.)

Since I do dress myself, and it seems to me that since that happens in the morning, when I'm already challenged, I'm inclined to indulge in the spirit of the thing, rather than the interpretation of it - so buttons go where it's easiest for people who don't have servants do dress themselves, and I put the right handed buttonholes on clothing for babies, since they don't dress themselves, and as every parent knows, is well appointed with service personnel.

Nothing bad has happened to me as a result of this policy. I have not been taken for a man. I have not been publicly ridiculed, spoken to, or issued any sort of citation or warning. I have not even been chastised by someone who got a little boy's sweater with the buttons on the girl side. Near as I can tell - the only repercussion at all has been that I feel like the world makes a little more sense some of the time, and I can use as much of that as I can get.

How do you feel about buttonhole placement?

(PS. It's really ok to have no strong feelings about them.)

(PS again, the sweater has had a minor setback when I joined a new ball of yarn and knit for about 5cm before deciding that the colour leap was too drastic. Frogging has occurred. Sweater looks the same as yesterday. I have a long flight tomorrow. Things should pick up - assuming I don't make another mistake that I think about for two inches before finally accepting the truth.)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:10 PM

February 5, 2009

Holding

I have no idea what non-knitters do when they are on hold.

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I do this, and for several hours today it was the only thing standing between me and purple, vicious rage.
(By the way? I think there's several "customer service" reps who could really use a little wool time.)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:21 PM

February 3, 2009

Don't even bother to deny it

Dear - well. I don't know who's done it, but it's clear someone has. I started the very nice February Lady sweater on straights, as is my preference, and now that I'm a ways along, it's obvious to me that I'm going to have to switch to a circular. I'm running out of room, which is a very good reason to use a circular and temporarily suspend my belief that straights are better all the time.

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I any case, I went to the circular needle storage thingie (I have this one) and was surprised to see only one totally crappy, dented, scratched and short needle in 4.5mm. "Huh" think I, because that's totally weird. 4.5mm is an oft used size here. I stood there staring at the spot where they should all be until it occurred to me that it must be that I use them so much that they didn't get put away. Yup. For sure. I close the closet and go over to the stash bin that sits by my desk, where recently used circulars are hung on the handle, waiting for the urge to put them away to come over me. (It has been a while.) There's a gauge on my desk, and I start sizing them, looking for one of the multitude of 4.5mm circulars I own.

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Not a single one. None of the needles hanging there are 4.5mm. There are several 4mm, a couple of 5mm, but not a single 4.5, which is way gone to crazyville. Totally insane. I've been knitting for 36 years and I admit, I don't care for circs, but it's not like I shun them when it's right to use them. I'm stubborn and set in my ways... not STUPID. This place should be filthy with them. Where in the name of merino wool could they be? I start rifling through all of my project bags, suddenly and entirely convinced that the many, many 4.5mm circular needles must be in stuff I'm already knitting. I mean, I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. I shred the upstairs room, maul through the living room baskets, dump out the closet in my office and all the bins nearby. I find a lot of interesting things (really. I have a lot on the go. I should get back to some of these bad boys) and I do not find a SINGLE 4.5mm circ. (I do, however, find many projects on 4.5mm straights. It's like being taunted.)

I am about to throw an entirely juvenile temper tantrum when I remember something. I keep one of those Knit Picks interchangeable sets (with both wood and metal) in my suitcase for knitting emergencies. I bolt up the stairs, open my suitcase, and start flipping though the sleeves, which I have intelligently labelled for just these occasions... That's when I see it. To quote my Quebecois friend Jéan, "I look in the package and there it was... Gone." That sleeve is empty. There is no 4.5mm tips in either wood or metal, which absolutely clinches it.

4.5Mmgone3209

Clearly, someone has broken into my house and stolen all of the 4.5mm circular needles in an attempt to drive me wild with frustration (congratulations, by the way) and provoke exactly this sort of response. There's probably some hidden camera somewhere, and the perpetrators are sitting in an unmarked van with a whole bunch of wool, a tangled mound of my 4.5mm circulars and are, even as I type, laughing themselves sick, falling about gasping for air and pointing helplessly as I rip up the house. I'm sure that they're knitters who just love circulars. Adore them even, and this wee jaunt is some sort of retribution for the things I've said in the past about their needle of choice. "We'll show her" they thought. "She'll see the glory and the light of the one true needle" and they plotted this day, lo many moons ago, knowing that eventually, something wouldn't fit on a straight and I'd go crying to the needle case. How they must have clapped their hands and bounced in their seats, seeing that I was going to knit February Lady, calculating my gauge and reading the pattern. "An XS in Aran weight yarn!" they cackled, "That will never fit on a straight!" and they imagined their vindication as I was forced to admit that this time, this time, only a circular would do.

Yeah, it was a masterful plan, an adept strategy, a most satisfying tactic. Oh, the hours they must have waited. Oh, the hours, knitting in their dumpy old van (it would be dumpy, because no mastermind of a knitter would spend yarn money on a new van. That's not the sort of thing that evil knitting geniuses do) waiting, knitting. Hoping against hope... because, and this is the thing... they could only steal one needle size. If they took all of my circulars, surely I would have discovered the diabolical nature of their intent. I would have seen. It would have been obvious. No, no... they're better than that. They took only one size... but all of that size. Every single 4.5mm needle of use. They left only the short, dented one, knowing that only a big project would drive me to it - and then they waited. They rolled the dice. If I needed a 6mm, nothing would come of their plot. If I hadn't gone down a needle size to get gauge, it all would have been in vain. Yay verily - they took a chance, and today, today, in a dingy unmarked van, parked somewhere close to my house, there are pro-circ knitters, all in a heap, so happy that they can scarcely breathe.

I just know it.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:19 PM

February 2, 2009

Hey Beautiful, that is your name isn't it

Hey baby, do you come here often?

Pwyarn22209

Did you set your twist in Windex? Because baby, I can see myself in you.

Pwyarn2209

Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I ply by you again?

Pwyarn42209

Is that part of your skein felt? Would it like to be?

You know what'd look good on you? Me.

Pwyarn52209

Listen, I'm going to knit with you tonight no matter what, so you might as well be there.

If I said you had a beautiful strand, would you hold it against me?

Pwyarn62209

Is it hot in here, or is it just your wool content?

Let's go to my ball winder and do all the things I'm going to tell knitters we do anyway.

Pwyarn120209

566g, about 890 m, 100% polwarth from Rovings, in "brick". Now a 3 ply that is the most beautiful yarn in the world. (Today.)

Posted by Stephanie at 9:35 AM