March 29, 2009

Earth Hour

Earth hour, and isn't it pretty.


This is what the world looks like when you use a little less.
It's not about what the world saves in an hour.


It's not just about global climate change.


It is about resources being valuable, and using them wisely,
and thoughtfully.

Airport at 4:30am. (Offset purchased.) Still need a sweater pattern.


Posted by Stephanie at 12:09 AM

March 28, 2009


After a week that can only be described as "challenging" (if one is being tactful) I give you the new Sock Summit Website. That sucker took years off of Tina and I. On that website, you'll find a bunch of information you've been hoping for, and a list of Classes. (A long list of classes. I'm pretty flipped out about the classes.)

Tah Dah! Isn't it nice?

(PS. Should I start a new sweater for Sock Camp?)

(PPS. Don't forget Earth Hour is tonight.)

Posted by Stephanie at 4:02 PM

March 27, 2009

Who's got the remote

What a week. It's like I blinked and lost four days. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what happened, and I have gathered the best evidence possible that someone (possibly Dr. Evil) is screwing with the time/space continuum and my place in it. My evidence is as follows:

1. On Monday, I was beginning the second Viper Pilots sock.
Suddenly it's Friday, and all I have is this.


I knit have every day, yet that is not five days worth of knitting. That is not normal.

2. On Monday, I had four loads of laundry to do. Suddenly, it is Friday and (drumroll please) I still have ONLY FOUR LOADS OF LAUNDRY. As this family has not taken a vow of nudity since Monday, I can only presume that we skipped several days, or someone else did the laundry, and that's possible either.

3. I don't recall Thursday or Tuesday at all. Not even a little bit. I can't tell you one thing that I did on either of those days, and my recollection of Wednesday is patchy, and centres around the fact that I know I ate cookies that Denny baked at knit night, and knit night is Wednesday. That's all I've got.

4. In fact, almost all I remember from the last four days is working on the new Sock Summit website, but considering the hours I've put in on that bad boy, it should be there, and it's not. This supports my theory that the last four days blew by me like a fifteen year old girl asked to do the dishes. (I actually think it'll be up really soon. There are tech people involved and I think they work for Dr. Evil.)

5. There is no episode for Survivor on the the Tivo. Ergo, Thursday must not have happened.

6. I am not packed to go to Sock Camp, even though I leave at 0'dark hundred hours on Sunday morning. I am a pre-packer. There is no way that I wouldn't start packing at least 4 days before leaving. I haven't made a single decision about what I'll be knitting even though I am leaving for many days. I am not the sort of person who does that. I pack early. I pack often, I pack extensively. Admittedly, I do pack clothes last, but there is no yarn at all in my suitcase. None. I don't recall an internal debate about what to knit while I'm gone either - and this is an activity that I normally give my whole soul to, several days in advance. By now I should have already worked out exactly what's coming with me, found the yarn, photocopied the patterns, wound the yarn and put it all in the suitcase. That's what I do. I'm a travelling knitter. If I didn't pack on Tuesday, then there wasn't a Tuesday. That's final.

I believe this collection of evidence corroborates my theory that I have somehow been fast-forwarded through four days of my life. I feel that the knitting and laundry evidence is indisputable. All proper explanations for what in the name of all things woolly happened to my week are graciously accepted, and even encouraged.

I'm going to go pack.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:18 PM

March 25, 2009

Dear Knitting

Dear Knitting,

In every relationship, there is equal and separate culpability for how things are going. I believe that, and I don't want you to take this the wrong way, because heaven knows that we've had our share of problems in the 36 years that we've been together, and mostly, I've been proud of the way that we've worked things out. I accept my responsibility to keeping us together. Long-term committed relationships are hard, and they take work. That said, and knowing that my love for you is complete and whole and healthy... I would like to just give you one little tip on getting along with me so that we can spend more happy time together.


Thank you, and love always,


Posted by Stephanie at 1:02 PM

March 24, 2009

That one took a while

Last night I had a really unusual experience, at least for me... and that was insomnia. A complete and total inability to fall asleep. I lay there, bored and furious, doing all of the things I've told my kids to try. Listening to my own breathing, counting by three... meditating. Nothing. Nada. Zip. The sandman cometh not.. and in fact I have my suspicions that the slacker was on a beach in Mexico whooping it up with a minty fresh mojito and a bag of ketchup chips. I finally dropped off at about 3am, only to wake up at 4 and repeat the process... finally crashing back out at 5:30 - only to drag my finally soundly sleeping arse out of bed at 7:30. I've had a murderous gleam in my eye since then. Insomnia is very rare for me. I've been trained by two decades of motherhood to take sleep where I can get it, and I usually drop off as quickly as the grades of a teenaged girl with her first real boyfriend. Last night though, I just couldn't get there. I was too wound up to sleep, too tired to get up, and my fury built exponentially - especially since Joe was dead to the world, cozy and peaceful beside me. (I did not poke, disturb or wake him in any way, which I think is a testament to my maturity - especially considering how much I wanted to.)

I think it's the number of balls I have in the air. I like all of them, and I'm not miserable by any stretch.. I'm excited and thrilled most of the time, but keeping my writing, the blog, a family, teaching, speaking and planning the Sock Summit all in the air at once isn't exactly a state that's conducive to sleepiness... and it finally caught up with me. It's ironic too, because a smarter woman would totally have gotten up and worked on one of those things, or at least gotten up to knit, especially since knitting time has been in short supply. The Viper Pilot socks didn't get finished for the finale of Battlestar Galactica (which I actually thought was a little disappointing, but I'm not sure how) but I do have one of them, and it's darned nice. Very befitting a pilot of the Colonial Fleet... although I bet they have a pair.


Saturday I set the socks aside, because Sunday we were gathering as a family to celebrate our spring birthdays.


My nephew Hank is turning nine (and you can tell that his 3-D version of the Guinness Book of World Records was a big hit) and my sister... well. I think she'd appreciate it if I left her age out of it. Last year I started a sweater for her birthday but something happened and the sweater pissed me off, and not only was it not finished in time, but I set it aside for a whole year out of rage. A whole year. That year that it sat in knitterly purgatory (aka- the linen closet) really worked though, because as her birthday swung back around this year, I couldn't remember what it had done to make me so frustrated that I couldn't be bothered to finish it. I dug it out of the bag I'd had it jailed in, and took a look at what was left to be done.


It was mostly complete. All the parts were there, though not sewn together, and the collar only needed a few rows, and I sat down and finished it. Sewed it up, admired my work, looked at my zipper sitting there and remembered what my issue was. The Zipper. I hate putting zippers in knitting. I love how it looks, and I think it's the most practical way to finish a lot of things, especially things for kids, or things that, like this sweater, would have the pattern disrupted by a row of buttons. I do think it's really hard to sew something as non-stretchy as a zipper into something as stretchy as a piece of knitting, and I've had a lot of unhappy endings with zippers in general. It's a whole other skill set, unrelated, I feel... to being a good knitter. It's sewing, not knitting. Since I put this away though, I've had some limited zipper success, so I dove in. I basted the sweater front shut with a needle and thread, taking care to make sure the cables, top and bottom were lined up, then turned it inside out and pinned the zipper in from behind, taking care to line up the centre line of the zip with the centre "seam" of the sweater. When it was all pinned in, I pulled the basting out, unzipped the zipper, and sat down at the sewing machine.


After a false start in which I sewed one whole side in (removing pins as I went) and then realized that I wasn't actually sewing because I hadn't hooked up the machine right and had to do over the whole basting/pinning thing...(a thousand rat-eating curses) I think I got it. It's not the most expert of zippers, and I wouldn't want to enter it in a contest, but I think my sister liked it a lot.


At least part of her glee was probably just the thrill of seeing it finished. She had received a couple of pieces of it and some yarn last year... and for a non-knitter, that bag of hope + a whole year of time probably had meant that she didn't really believe in the sweater anymore.


It fits her well, is just in time for the Toronto spring, where it's too warm for a coat (not yet) and not warm enough for nothing. She showed up to yoga wearing it last night, so I don't even think she was faking how much she liked it.


13 months in the making, I give you the Urban Aran - cardiganized. (Ravelry Link) Brooklyn Tweed was the first place I saw this sweater, which was a pullover in the Patons booklet "Street Smart" smartly divided up the middle to make it a really snazzy jacket. I used Araucania Nature Wool Chunky (colour 105) from The Purple Purl, and I think it was a great choice. Sturdy but soft, warm but not itchy. (Erin worries about the itchiness of wool - though does concede that the only itchy thing I have ever given her was acrylic. Ha.)


I think she loves it. Next year she gets a book.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:16 PM

March 20, 2009

Where do you want to go

Joe and I - as some of you may have surmised, are a little anti-car. We ride our bikes, we take the subway and the bus... we walk, and we've been lucky enough to live in a part of the world where you don't have to own a car. Sure, car things come up sometimes, but we've always borrowed one or rented one. The time has come however, for Joe and I to both acknowledge that we need a car, mostly because when Joe moves gear, he does it in the antiquated pickup, which is now so old as to be alarmingly unreliable and scary (even before a few of the incidents) but it is also so completely environmentally unfair that when you turn the ignition, polar bears scream in horror at the audacity of us daring to drive it. We knew we needed something, especially with the girls getting bigger and talking about moving to go to school, but we're tree-hugging hippies - heck, we're vegetarians out of concern for the environment. If we needed to drive a car, it had to be something seriously friendly - but there was no way that we could afford the options. We bided our time, we kept saving our money and Joe kept researching cars.

Today, we finally took the plunge. Meet Jon and Jason from Pfaff Volkswagen. I normally wouldn't mention who or where sold us a car, but these guys went so far beyond the call of duty in the service of my nervous nature (along with Joe's over thinking one) that they really deserve a shout out.


Plus, they held a sock, and that's our new car. It's a shiny red (really red) VW Jetta TDI Clean Diesel (with bike racks.) Now, if you're like me, you just about fell off your chair right then because a hippy bought a diesel, but it turns out that just about everything I thought about this car was wrong. It's classed as an Ultra Low Emission vehicle (I asked Jason, and it turns out that it's impossible to suffocate yourself in the garage with this car. What comes out of the tailpipe is pretty much oxygen and nitrogen.) It won the Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles show, and won Most Environmentally-Friendly car at the international Car of the Year Awards in Detroit, it set a world record for lowest fuel consumption, and according to it's paperwork, it meets strict Tier II Bin 5 emissions standards. (I don't know what that means, just that it's good.) Plus (just to explode the last thing I thought wasn't true...) Ultra low sulphur Diesel costs the same as premium gas - when I need to buy it, which won't be very often because it gets about 1100km (683 miles) to a tank.

I'm not telling you all this because I'm trying to write an ad for VW (although maybe I just sort of did.) I'm telling you this because frankly, I'm totally stunned that after doing all of the homework and checking out all of our options and the way we drive and what we need (and seriously, Joe really got a little weird with it) ... I can't believe I'm not driving a hybrid.

Aside from the shock, Joe and I feel very grown up. (I told him I thought this was the most grown up thing we had ever done and Joe agreed... except for the kids, and jobs, and the house and stuff - which actually makes it seem pretty minor, in the grand scheme of things, but dudes... it's a CAR.) This is the first proper car either of us have ever owned, and we're sort of flipped out. Joe's out getting it waxed now (Yes. It did come already waxed. Why do you ask?) and we're trying hard to think of somewhere we need to go. I love it - and I didn't think I would. I thought I would resent it. Joe says maybe I love it because...


It has a nice big yarn holder. You could work fair isle out of that sucker.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:04 PM

March 19, 2009

She can be taught

Dudes, I'm really pleased with myself, because I just caught little old me serving up a huge deep dish crazy pie and I actually stopped myself before I sat down and had a big piece.

See, on Monday, I was surfing around and saw this. My buddy Glenna has dreamed up a pair of Battlestar Galactica themed socks called Viper Pilots, and I was totally smitten with them. Completely and totally smitten. (I actually can't believe she didn't email me herself, but I'm letting go.) I can't be the only one impressed by them either, because pretty darned quickly I'd been notified by a bunch of other knitters about them, including Abbie. I tripped over myself all the way to the stash, and ripped out a skein of yarn I've been saving for a special occasion, wound it up and cackled about having perfect Colonial Fleet socks to anyone who would listen. (Joe renewed his belief that I am supremely nerdy, which really isn't bothering me, since I suppose it's obvious at this point.)

I had a skein of... wait, where the hell is the ball band? Oh, right. Crash into Ewe hand dyed sock yarn with real silver in it, in the colourway called "Diamonds at night". (The dyer appears to be currently off line for a show. Lurk about.)


I thought the colourway couldn't be better for space themed socks. See the little strands of silver? Like a starry sky, that's what this yarn is, so I bought Glenna's pattern and Tuesday I cast on, and gleefully phoned Rachel H. (who also said I was a big dork) and told her that I was --- and here's where the crazy pie comes in... I was going to finish them to wear them on Friday night for the Battlestar Galactica 2 hour series finale.

"Steph" Rachel H said (and she used that voice she uses whenever I have a plan that can't possibly work, which is rather often, now that I think of it.) "It's TUESDAY."

Now, I'm not really, really dim, just sort of moderately excitable, and I think that a lot of the time people underestimate me... so I'm used to explaining myself, so I did.

"Rachel" I said (using the voice I use when I think Rachel isn't understanding a crazy plan, which is rather often... now that I think about that too..) "The show is FRIDAY. It's just a pair of socks. I'll totally finish." Rachel sighed then, which can usually be interpreted loosely as "Ok wingnut, do what you want but I'm still right" (I wonder what it means that that comes up rather a lot too..) and reminded me what order the days of the week come in, then wished me luck. I have knit my brains out since then.


I knit them on the bus. I knit them at the DKC last night, I knit them when I got home, I've been knitting. I've been knitting and admiring the little Viper ships starting to line up, and imagining wearing these starry socks as I bid a final farewell to Starbuck and Odama and all my favourite Cylons. Only this morning when I saw really, where I was in these socks did it start to resonate that maybe Rachel was on to something with this "days of the week" thing. This is Thursday. Friday comes after Thursday.


Yeah. Crazy pie. Not eating it. Maybe I can wear one...

Posted by Stephanie at 3:57 PM

March 18, 2009

One weekend with some socks

Standing in the airport on Friday, I tried to hard to laugh at my own timing. The airport was packed with Canadians fleeing the cold for their March Break, all lined up, laughing and headed for the warm sunshine of Cuba, Bahamas, St. Lucia... and there I was. Going to Wisconsin. It took me a while to get over that, especially when the lady in front of me, repacking her overweight bag, dropped her bikini bottoms and left them behind. I did pick them up and give them back to her, but I won't deny the urge to pitch them in a bin as she wandered off to her warm beach holiday.

As I struggled through the crowds headed for parts south, I reassured myself with the knowledge that on none of my vacations to Cuba have I ever seen a yarn shop, and though all those other people were going to be enjoying a sunny beach... I would be amongst my people, yarn and iconic knitters, and if you throw in a beer... they're pretty much going to come up on par for me. Here then, is a photographic essay on the last couple days.

Friday AM. I begin a sock, travelling from Toronto to Milwaukee.


(Duet sock yarn de-kay. Pattern from my head, colourway, sadly forgotten. Pretty though.)

The sock and I then changed planes


and went from Milwaukee to Madison, where a nice knitter named Connie gave me lunch and a beer and was very kind to me, and then took me on a whirlwind look at a few of Madison's awesome yarn shops. We went to Lakeside Fibers and The Sow's Ear, both of which have coffee and food as well as yarn, and I can imagine myself actually living in them. (Lakeside also has a couch and a bar next to the coffee part. I may have promised that if they let me live there I would keep my things very tidy. I think they thought I was kidding. I wasn't.)

The sock and I then journeyed to the hotel, where the first people we met were Amy Detjen and Meg Swansen, who both turn out to be very nice actual real live people who are very funny, drink beer and think I'm short. (I am, so I didn't mind them noticing.) It is at this point that I took all leave of my senses, and didn't ask either of them to hold my sock... though I did knit on it in their presence, and hope that counts for something.

The next morning, the sock and I hung out with Joyce Williams a little bit, and admired her beautifully complex sweaters and rapier wit.


And encouraged by Joyce (who's really a bit of a troublemaker, in the best ways I can think of) I took the pictures I showed you yesterday, as well as this one, which is really just my humble sock basking in the glow of things knit by Meg Swansen and Elizabeth Zimmermann, which were lying around on a table without a guard or anything.


The sock met a room full of knitters in the morning.


The sock had a lovely time shopping with Dale-Harriet at lunch.


The sock met a whole other roomful of knitters in the afternoon. (The sock was quite tuckered out by this.)


The sock met Margo's first sock, Kara's first sock, wished Caitlin a happy 21st Birthday, collected washcloths from Susan and Joyce, and cheered Barbara's first knitted object. (You can click to embiggen these knitters)


Then the sock retired to an Indian restaurant and laughed at all of Joyce Williams' jokes, because she really is that funny, but I didn't take pictures, because ... I forgot.

The next morning, the sock became plural, and then was ripped out on the way to the Chazen Museum of Art with Kate (who rocks pretty hard too) and I spent a happy hour wandering through an incredible textile exhibit of traditional Chinese clothing called "Writing with thread: Traditional textiles of Southwestern Chinese minorities" If you live near there, the sock and I urge you to go. No pictures here, because we were chastised for picture taking - and don't like to break rules very much.

Off to the airport we went then, and waited for our flight back to Milwaukee,


and then enjoyed a 3 hour layover there, which we enjoyed in grand style.


Then the flight from Milwaukee to Toronto...


And bang. We were home again, and I had two things. A healthy respect for all that is the Madison Guild (You should join. They're awesome) and a new pair of socks.




Great weekend.

Posted by Stephanie at 4:55 PM

March 17, 2009

Full details to follow

I got up and entertained these grand delusions of telling you all about my trip to Madison, and even tried to write one for a while, until the reality of my situation sunk in. It's family night, my darling sister and mother-in-law are coming to dinner for St. Patrick's day, the house is trashed, I have no food and no beer... and I have to get Sam downtown and onto a bus for her March Break trip before all of that happens. Clearly, If I think I've got time to blog, I'm delusional in a really, really big way. So I'm giving you just a little something. Something I think is unreasonably cool.

As most of you know, the charming February Lady Sweater is based on the even more charming February Baby sweater from Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic book, The Knitter's Almanac. I happened to be wearing mine when I happened upon a table full of knits brought by Meg Swansen (EZ's daughter, and a fine fibre artist in her own right) at the Madison Knit in. Egged on by Joyce Williams, I whipped off my version and photographed it with the original, knit by Elizabeth Zimmermann herself.


I know that I probably reveal myself as eight kinds of fangirl and three more kinds of dork, by telling you how cool I think that is, and I don't even care.


I touched something Elizabeth Zimmermann knit... and it touched my knitting back. Dork heaven.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:35 PM

March 13, 2009

This can't be right

I'm leaving for Madison Wisconsin today. I'm flying in today, doing the knit out with the Guild, flying back out on Sunday. Myself and I, we had a little chat with me and decided that since this is a very short trip, we would streamline the bags. Only take what I need, try to leave the suitcase behind....

I've got it down to one tiny little bag, but all I can think is that this can't be enough to go away with. There's an extra pair of pants, three shirts, three pairs of socks, a pair of yoga pants, the little toiletry bag... two brand new sock projects. (Realistically, I only need one, but only taking one put me right out of my comfort zone.)

This is enough. I feel sure that I have enough. This is how much I need for three days. I know that, but I just can't stop going though the bag thinking "Really? This is all I have? Really?" I know it's enough for what I have to do, but it just doesn't feel like enough to fend off an emergency with - especially since I don't know the nature of the emergency. I travel so much that if I take my big bag, I'm a streamlined travel machine. I've stunned people with my ability to cope using only what's in that bag. Tea? What sort? It's in there. Tylenol? Why... yes. Would you rather have Advil? Lost a button? Need a snack? Spare tee shirt? Wanna do a yoga Dvd? Glass of wine? Yup, yup, yup. I have it all, and it all fits in one bag that I'm used to carrying and it's my system, and it works really well. It works so well that I can bug out of a hotel room faster than a MASH unit on a good day.

This, though... I keep looking at this and being uncomfortable. Last night I was puttering around with it and saying "I must be forgetting something. What else do I need?" and Sam looked at me and said, "I know what you're forgetting."
"You do?" I asked. "Yup." said Sam. "You're forgetting that you'll be back on Sunday."

Right. Small bag. See you later.

Posted by Stephanie at 7:37 AM

March 11, 2009

There's not a lot of money in Revenge

Graham Norton's my new best friend. (Sort of. We haven't met. I mean, he just emailed me a picture, and we've only spoken on the phone for a moment, so we're not that close yet. He sort of lives far away as well. We'll work it out.)


This, however, is Greg Kinnear, kinneared in London on the set of The Graham Norton Show by Greg Kinnear himself. (I was on the phone. He got three tries.) I worried actually, that if Greg Kinnear kinneared himself and it was sent to the woman who invented kinnearing by kinnearing Greg Kinnear that it might cause some sort of rift in the fabric of time and space... but I've looked out the window, and things seem all right. Dudes. Kinnearings gone officially international, and in a really weird way.

Let me back up.

This morning I got a crazy email. I staggered to my desk and found a little email from a guy named Ben at The Graham Norton Show in the UK. (We get that show here on BBC Canada. I'm a fan.) Odd, I think (I think that a lot. I mean, I don't know if you've noticed, but things are odd far more of the time than they're just chugging along) and I read what he's got to say, which is essentially "Greg Kinnear is popping by to talk to Graham, and we'd like permission to show maybe your blog while he talks about being a verb if it comes up... is that ok?"

Well. I think. Why not. What could it hurt? I mean, Conan used the pictures from the blog without phoning or emailing at all, so I suppose that the least I can do to reward this considerable politeness is to say yes. Which I do, and he telephones and says that's lovely, and we talk a little bit about what's going on, and he says "Maybe we can kinnear Greg Kinnear and send you a picture" and we both thought that would be good. Funny even. Unlikely, I think. and I fire off the permission email, and I drink coffee. The last time someone told me they were going to be with Greg Kinnear, it was Carol, and I believed her, because... I've met Carol, and she's a knitter, and if I can't trust a knitter, then by the wrath of moth, who can I trust? I got on with the rest of my day... until a little while ago when Graham Norton called my house and we chatted with Greg Kinnear (I know), and now, when suddenly I've got a Greg Kinnear picture, and I like how it feels.

This brings me to the revenge part. Near as I can tell, what Greg's got out of this deal is pretty good. He's got a funny story to talk about on national TV shows with huge stars and he's been turned into a verb and immortalized as a new word in the New York Times and the Urban Dictionary. That's pretty good.

I, to be fair, have gotten almost the same thing. I got a funny story to talk about on national TV shows with huge stars... the fact that I don't go on National TV shows and talk to huge stars as often (or ever, really) as Greg does is irrelevant... It could happen, and if it does, I'll be as prepared as Greg is. When the NYT listed Kinnearing as a word, they listed me as its inventor... that's pretty seriously neat too. Me and Greg. Evensies. Absolutely on par.... except for one thing.

Ever since I invented Kinnearing, I have been kinneared within an inch of my life. I have been kinneared at the grocery store, at the airport, at yarn shops, on the bus, at my book signings, at speaking engagements, in bookstores, at festivals.... Everywhere, and all of this has resulted in a plethora of horrendous images of myself plastered all over the internets. Images that, once seen, I have to carry in my heart forever. Now, I don't blame people. I really don't. It was my idea. I thought it was funny to do it to Greg, and it's both funny and flattering when it's done to me. Turnabout's fair play. I've accepted that if you invent kinnearing, then it's only fair to have an odd slanted photo of my arse at the post office in a pair of baggy yoga pants emailed to me. I'm the one who went to the post office in my baggy yoga pants. I won't do it again, and I accept all blame. Lesson learned. That said... don't you think that if Greg Kinnear is reaping some of the benefits, that Greg Kinnear should have to bear some of the burden? I think that today is a special day. I think today is the day that I tell you that I'm putting Greg Kinnear on my most wanted list, and that I'll donate to MSF every time somebody mails me a photo of Greg Kinnear, kinneared. (Do try to remember the fine line between stalking and kinnearing.. yes? There's no bail fund.)

(Ps. Try to get his arse... and try to make it unflattering... will ya?)

Posted by Stephanie at 4:04 PM

The timing is perfect

I was getting seriously wound up yesterday (I know. It's so not like me) I'm going to be speaking in Madison this weekend and that's like... in three days. I immediately had a complete meltdown, and then realized that the timing on this one is perfect. Totally perfect.

The top ten reasons why it is a good idea to leave town.

1. The dirty bit on the shawl came out, but it vexes me anyway. I think that it and I should have a time out, and it's not a good travel project anyway. Too white, too fragile, too many charts. It's a chesterfield project, and that's where I'm keeping it. I hope it misses me.

2. I will not have to wage war with an appliance of any kind for 48 hours. This is good because I'm really starting to believe that the dishwasher is toying with me. One day it drains, the next it refuses. This seems to be related to how many dishes are in it, and how much I don't want to wash them. I feel that this is personal, and yesterday when it refused to void its steamy dish slag, the urge to mangle its racks was overwhelming. Time to go.

3. I'll be able to get some knitting time on the plane. (Hold up there! Wait! You... the one in the back.. I see you. You're about to send me an email or type a comment asking me if I can really knit on the plane, or am I sure I will be able to knit on the plane, or maybe I should check and see if I can knit on the plane, or ask me if I am really, really going to knit on the plane, or maybe even ask me how it is that I can knit on the plane, or enquire about how I arrange being able to knit on the plane, or ask me what sort of needles I fly with because you are flying and you want to knit on the plane but you don't think that you'll be allowed and am I really allowed to fly on the plane?

- I am going to knit on the plane.
-I am going to take whatever needles I want.
-Nobody has ever, ever said anything to me at security, even when my bag is being hand searched and I say "Whoops there, mind the bag full of a multitude of metal needles, don't want to poke yourself". The only thing that has ever been said to me by security is " Are those socks?" "That's pretty" or "My sister knits too".
-I have never phoned ahead to see if I will be allowed. (I admit, this is because I think that if you ask them to think about it, they get worried that maybe you're asking because you think they might say no (which is true) and that then they say no, because they figure that if someone thinks they might say no then they should, just to be sure.
- For the record, I fly more than a carrier pigeon.

4. No internet connection while I'm on the plane. That means that for at least a few hours on Friday and Sunday, I have an excellent excuse for why I can't deal with my inbox.

5. The last time I went to Wisconsin, I spoke at an event at Yellow Dog Knitting, and I had a really good time. Really good, actually. This time I'm with the Madison Guild, and I'm expecting a fair bit of overlap. I know I'll see Joyce Williams again, and I'll get to meet Meg Swansen, which is really neat because we've only ever spoken on the phone. (I am nervous about that a bit.) The best part last time was the knitters though, some I think it's really fun to see every few years, and I can't wait. (I'm hoping for Dale-Harriet, Shelly, Vicki (when my blog pictures grow up, they want to be Vicki's blog pictures) Beadslut, Chris, Cursing mama... I know some of them have lives that don't include me... but I'm still pretty excited.

5a. Holy cow. I missed a trip to Madison. I was there last April. (How could I not remember that? I plead book tour. There's no way you can expect a writer to know where they are and what they're doing under those circumstances. To be fair, I remember that day beautifully. I just didn't know I was in Madison.

6. The weather in Wisconsin will not be a shock to my system. Unlike many Canadians who are going to go to Mexico, or Cuba or the Bahamas for March Break (we do not call it "spring break", because it's just not accurate) I am not going to put myself through the emotional rollercoaster of actually seeing the sun and feeling it's warmth on my skin, only to have all of that hope dashed into a million dark shards on my return. Wisconsin is a much healthier choice, emotionally speaking.

7. It has been a long time since people have held my socks. I miss it. (I'm not worried that's weird either.)

8. Chris Farley is from there. (I'm not sure why that's relevant.)

9. I forget what 9 was. I'm out of coffee.

10. The Madison Knitting guild is wicked, and I'm pretty sure that none of the teenagers there are my problem.

See you there. Saturday. We'll have squeaky cheese.

Posted by Stephanie at 12:18 PM

March 9, 2009


I wasn't going to blog today (don't you find that the whole "spring ahead" daylight savings thing puts you way more behind than an hour?) but I'm just so annoyed I have to share.

Look at this.


I was admiring my knitting and noticed that somehow, a stretch of my snowy merino/angora has gotten soiled, and I didn't notice, and I knit it in. (I suppose that this is the eventual price for knitting instead of cleaning... some sort of cosmic come-uppance. Noted.) I don't know if that's dirt that will wash out, or a stain, or what, but there's really no point in continuing until I try and wash it out, since if it won't wash out, I'll have to rip back, take out that bit and reknit.
Is there some sort of a hit out on this project?

Seriously. You can tell me. I'm figuring it out anyway.

(Also, I got the dishwasher back together but it doesn't care that the penny is out. Score: Major appliance 1, Stephanie 0.)

Posted by Stephanie at 5:56 PM

March 6, 2009

Cash Positive

You know, I am starting to think that I might be one of the very rare people on the earth who are not necessarily saving time by owning appliances.

Last night, the dishwasher suffered a relapse. A few weeks ago it had stopped draining, and was filled with water that ... well. Some of you might be eating. Let's just say it was gross. (Use your imagination and know that you are probably falling short of the mark. ) Joe and I disconnected the hose from the pipe under the sink, cleaned it out and drained the thing into a bucket for about 9 loads, all of which were pretty much boiling water, baking soda and vinegar. Whatever was blocking the hose seemed to clear, and we were back in business, seemingly having fixed the thing with a minimum of money and upset, which was excellent, since we are usually so short on the former and long on the latter. (I'm glossing over the episode contained in that interval in which I emptied the bucket full of odious and fetid crap into the sink without thinking... and had the whole thing pour out of the hole in the pipe and into my cabinets. I don't want to think of it, and besides, I'm not proud of how I behaved.)

That seemed to do enough penance for the thing, and life carried on with our dishwasher draining, which I really didn't realize I was this emotionally attached to, but there you have it. (I'm a reasonably recent initiate to dishwashers. This is the first one I've ever had, and I constantly think of it as "the gift that keeps on giving". Life changing piece of equipment.) It kept on working until last night, when Joe opened it and discovered it still full of steaming dish-slag, and we realized that it might take more than baking soda to lick this one. I got the screwdriver, thinking that maybe threatening it with tools might possibly get it to shape up, and then realized that really, I don't know what I'm doing and I'd likely do more harm then good, and besides, Joe was going to fetch some sort of "enzyme stuff" that would likely fix it, and so I put down the screwdriver and backed away from the appliance.

This morning though, this morning I don't know what came over me. I sat at my desk and I was so far away from fixing anything there, and the kids are so far away from being done either, and I looked at my inbox and my knitting and my writing and everything that needed doing and I snapped. I snapped and I thought "SOMETHING is going to come of today, damn it all" and I took up the screwdriver, and...


I disassembled the dishwasher. I didn't take it all the way apart, thwarted by needing something a friend told me is called a "socket wrench", and I can't quite find the thingie that the repair website says has to come apart to be "cleared" but I did take a lot of screws out of that bastard, and I'm not taking no for an answer. I have a feeling I'm in over my head, and that I might not be fixing anything, and that a smarter woman would just look for another place to take repair money out of the budget, but I'm not a smarter woman. I'm me, and that's all I've got.

There is a little good news though. While I've had it apart (and I'm not sure it will go properly back together) I did discover, down under that flying saucer part that won't come out without the "socket wrench" a single, disgusting, bashed up PENNY, that may have been part of the problem, and certainly can't have been doing the beast any favours. It was under the grate that is supposed to keep that sort of thing out, and I extracted it with a 4mm aluminum double pointed needle, and the aforementioned screwdriver.

I don't know if that fixed it. I'd have to figure out how to properly reassemble the thing to know, and I was feeling a little down about it. Then I talked with Rachel H on the phone and I felt a lot better, 'cause as Rachel pointed out, so far today, I've turned a profit. I might not have solved my problem, but dudes I did make a penny!
I'm no appliance repair guy, but I'm totally in the black.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:48 PM

March 5, 2009


The strangest thing going on around here. Entirely bizarre. I wake up in the morning, address my to do list, and then glance out the window and see that the bright burning day star is gone and it is night again and I missed almost everything. Yesterday the trouble was compounded by a raging UTI, (got meds. feeling a little better today) and the fact that Meg is trying to finish all of her university stuff, even though she really, really, really doesn't want anything to change and would love it if High School went on forever. (I'm with her, actually.)

Then suddenly it's dinner time and I'll be darned if that doesn't just appear on the table without some sort of effort, then there's homework and more essays and such for all the girls... and then I am overcome with exhaustion, knit three rows on this shawl and collapse into my bed. When I wake up, the bright burning day star is back, and I hit the reset button. I'm not unhappy or overwhelmed, (except maybe with the UTI, which seems totally and completely fair) I'm just super, stupid, crazy busy with being a mum - and that seems fair too.

I am thinking that tomorrow will be much better, and I will write a blog then. What are you doing?

Posted by Stephanie at 5:36 PM

March 3, 2009

Auspicious Days

1. It has been four days in a row without screwing up the shawl. I am doing nupps now (rhymes with "soups") and I love them very much and they aren't even a pain in the arse, but Nancy is not kidding when she says to do them "loosely".


She means it. She really does. Fear not the sloppiness, for it shall reward you on the next row when you have to "p5 tog".

2. I am working on updating the tour page, because right now it's all of last years stuff. For now I can tell you this:

Saturday March 14th, Madison, Wisconsin. I'll be speaking at the Knit in that the Madison Knitters Guild (truly, one of the really great guilds out there) have planned. Information on how to get in is here. (There's a PDF to click on there, it takes you to the registration form. Click on the "Classes Descriptions, Schedule, & Registration Form" line.) I think most of the classes are full, but I'm pretty sure you can still get in to hear me speak. I'm doing a lot less this year, and it's been a long while since I was in this neck of the woods, so I'm thrilled. Totally thrilled. Hope I see you there.

March 30 - April 4th. Camp Knitty-ha-ha. (AKA - sock camp) at the Port Ludlow Resort. This is for Sock Club members only, (I think. It's possible Tina can be bribed.) but I'm teaching there and who only knows what we'll get up to. Buckets of fun, undoubtedly.

May 30th - June 7th Saskatchewan Stitches Conference (Haus of Stitches.) I'll be speaking and teaching in beautiful Muenster, Sask. and I'm really excited to be doing such a great Canadian event. It's nice to get on a plane and not need my passport, and this event promises to be really interesting. Info on what, specifically, I'm doing there, is here., but do poke around. There's a lot of really great stuff.

3. Today is Ken's Birthday. Ken is my best friend and the dude who makes this blog go. Without Ken, this blog would crash and burn on a regular basis because I have no idea what I'm doing. Ken is the guy who holds my hand though upgrades, and baby steps changes in the way I have to do things so I don't freak out because I have to learn another piece of html. I love him for a whole lot of other reasons too, but if you enjoy this blog, then maybe you want to join me in wishing him the happiest of days. Happy Birthday Ken! (I'm going to start your birthday dinner soon. Promise.)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:46 PM

March 2, 2009

One Thing To Say



Posted by Stephanie at 3:22 PM