April 29, 2011

Weird Tired Random

1. I'm so tired.

2. Yesterday/today/all week I've had to make decisions about sleep and how much I would get that were not really reasonable.

3. This all came to a head when Tina and I worked on Sock Summit until the wee hours last night and then I decided that even though the Royal Wedding came on in the wee hours that I would forever regret it if I didn't watch it live.

4. So I did. I got two hours of sleep and I'm practically delirious. I can't tell if the crazy state I'm in is due to exhaustion or caffeine overload to compensate for exhaustion - but I'm so nuts that I can barely tell time.

5. It was worth it.  That wedding was completely fabulous.

6. All of this was so that this next sentence could be true.

If you're on the Sock Summit mailing list, you've gotten (or are getting soon) an email that says this:

Dear Knitters,

The Sock Summit Team would like to announce that registration for Sock Summit 2011 will take place Wednesday, the 4th of May at 12:00 pm PDT.  

A very great many changes have been made to the registration process this go round, and all of them have been designed to make registration faster, easier, smoother and not melt down any servers anywhere no matter how many knitters try to do so at the same time. As a response to the number of knitters who didn't get spots last time, this year, we've added more classes and more teachers. We find all of this terrifically reassuring, and hope that you do too.   

While you get ready for registration, please spend some time perusing our amazing selection of Teachers, Classes and Events, and have a good look at the schedule.  Monday, instructions and a walk through for registration will be posted on the registration page of our site, and we hope you'll  have a good look at that too, so that you're ready when we go live.

As always, it's an honour and a privilege to work for all of you. Running a sock conference is an unlikely and wonderful job, and we're grateful that we get the chance.

With many thanks,

Tina Newton, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and our exhausted head-geek and ST-2 Stephen

7. Shazam! 

8. I'm going to bed.  I think I have time for a quick nap.

9. I sure do wish I could knit when I got up.

10. Maybe I will.

11. A little bit.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:05 PM

April 26, 2011


A very happy holiday was had here by all, one of the nicest in recent memory, to be truthful - as a matter of fact, the most difficult thing I had to endure was being partnered with Megan for euchre, and having her repeatedly trump my aces.  (Meg's a brilliant girl, and there seems to be no end to the wonders that she can learn and do, but trying to get her up to speed on Euchre is like trying to teach a horse to play cards. Let's start with the fact that she says things like "I might remember that spades were trump if we called them shovels. Can we all just call them shovels?")  We got through it, and she's way better at Signal, which is the game that we eventually switched to when Sam (who plays Euchre better than anybody) was finally moved to hysteria when we were calling spades shovels and clubs clovers and Meg still couldn't keep track of trump or even why it mattered.

We played cards, watched movies, played 20 Questions with Hank - a wonderful time,  and one of the best parts was that I had a ton of carding/spinning time, and managed to get a massive chunk of the Jacob shawl  project spun.  I washed all the locks, separated them by colour, and then got out the drum carder to card them all up - and encountered my first and only trouble.  My drum carder wasn't working.  No matter what I did or how I tried, all of the fibre was going on to the "licker-in" which is the smaller of the two drums, and that's not helpful, or productive. I swore, cursed and then did the only clever thing I could think of.  I called Judith MacKenzie and asked her what to do. 
"Take it apart" she said - and so I did.  I felt crazy doing it, I mean - that drum carder is probably the most expensive fibre equipment I own, and I sort of love it.  I worried that if I took it apart I wouldn't get it back together - but when I said that to Judith, she just told me that everything that comes apart goes back together - which frankly, isn't my experience, but who am I to argue with Judith?  She told me to disassemble it, then call her back, which is just what I did, except for a small break to take this picture and freak out.

I called her back, she talked me through checking the thing, a single screw was tightened, and bingo, the thing works like a treat again. There was a few tense minutes when I couldn't get the side back on because the gears wouldn't engage right, but I got it.  Judith and I were both really impressed with the gears inside, and how clean they were after years of use. (Judith expected there to be a belt inside, and was delighted it was longer wearing gears.  I didn't expect to find anything inside so I was just glad she was happy. That thing could have been run by tiny monkeys for all I know.)   I expected to find all sorts of dirt/fibre/VM in it, but nope. Louet makes a pretty spiffy carder.   Judith thinks that tightening the screw fixed it, but I think it was scared straight by the disemboweling at the hands of an amateur.

Once that was up and running, I got all the colours carded, then sat down to spin.

Aren't they pretty? Each little skein is only about 50m. (Some a little more, some a little less.  It depended on how much of that colour the sheep had.) After a crazy amount of consideration (and extremely helpful suggestions from the lot of you) I've chosen Damask as the pattern, so now I'll cast on with the darkest colour, and start working towards the white. 

The pattern says I'll need about 440m, and that's only about 350m of yarn - so I'll definitely need to spin more white - but not today.
Today - I knit. I'm really excited.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:49 PM

April 22, 2011

Time and not change

I love it when my children want to do the things they have always done.
Like dye eggs, and let the Easter Bunny hide them.

My heart leaps when they ask me when the egg hunt will be,
just like they are not all almost women.

I think that I love it, because I have a secret.

I am really quite torn, about whether or not my girls,

Should ever grow up at all.

Happy Easter.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:07 PM

April 20, 2011

Although I have been busy

It is not going to look like I've been busy when I show you this.  I can tell.  I know I checked in last with you Monday, and I had big plans, but fibre-wise, it seems like I don't have a lot to show for myself.  I solved the pooling problem with my April socks by changing the pattern, but I don't have a picture or the details handy and I'm sort of too tired to look for them, and I'm making pathetic progress anyway.  They're nice though.   What I did get done was to drag the drum carder out of the fibre closet and set it up, and I managed to get the darkest grey of the fleece carded.

Then I sat down to spin and um - I sort of didn't have a lot of time, so this is all I have.

I think it's going well, if rather slowly.  What did happen, what's taken all my time and has cost Tina and I more sleep for the last several days than we would like to talk about, is that we finished a big chunk of the Sock Summit website update.

If you go there now, you can see what Sponsors we are thrilled to have working with us, what Vendors are going to be with us in our even-more-fabulous-than-last-time-if-it's-even-possible Marketplace, and... brace yourselves... The Teacher list and the classes that are going to be in the offing.

Yup. You saw it right. That's 60 teachers.  Six - oh, not a typo.  Last time knitters said they wanted more, and we've busted ourselves and there they are. Sixty teachers with more than 130 classes, and the whole thing is big. Really big. Huge, in fact. Four days of sock study, so huge that when Tina and I were done compiling the list and looked at it, we both had the same thought, which I won't repeat here because I try to keep the language clean. 

We're completely honoured by that Teacher list, and humbled, and more than a little scared.  There's more sock knitting knowledge there than I think has ever assembled in one spot - and did you see the classes?  If you can think of a way to make socks.. it's on that list, and, as I pointed out to someone the other day (when they asked how anyone could possibly give this much of a crap about socks)  all this knowledge is useful for knitting other things too. 

We're very proud, and we hope you're excited. We've worked really, really hard on creating something that should be fabulous.  News about registration to come along (very) shortly.

I'm going to lie down.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:34 PM

April 18, 2011

Calling the perfect shawl

I'm crazy with anticipation. Since I last wrote about my Jacob fleece, I've been regularly spreading it out on the kitchen floor, and then picking and choosing the locks and colours that I'll wash.  

(This, by the way, seems to drive my regularly odd cat to new heights of weirdom.  She can't handle it. She lies down, grabs chunks of raw fleece and rubs them all over her face. I've taken to locking her in my bedroom because I can't stand to watch it.)  I have enough now that I've  I've promised myself that tomorrow I take this bag of washed jacob locks, and start carding and spinning it into yarn for... Well. That's the question, isn't it? 

I'm looking for a shawl that isn't too big - but not too small.  Definitely not a triangular scarf pretending to be a shawl, because that's just annoying. (I mean, if you're a scarf, say so. Have a little pride.) Not too big, because that's more spinning than I want to do, and really, this jacob fleece is little. I haven't started spinning yet, so really, the yarn can be any weight, though I'd like to do something like a light fingering.  (By the way, you shouldn't ever google "light fingering."  It's as entirely shocking as pondering fleece washing techniques and deciding to google "dirty sheep." I shall perhaps never get over that one. Some people are just not right.)

I'm going to spin the colours of the Jacob all separately, so when I'm done I should have a black, several shades of grey and a white.  There's very little true black on the fleece, so that yield the smallest amount of yarn - if I run out of grey I can spin more, if I run out of white I can spin more.. but that black is finite, so I'd like to start with black on the long edge of the shawl, and decrease up to the nape of the neck. All that in mind - any suggestions for a small triangular shawl constructed that way that would look great in a graduated colour scheme?

Posted by Stephanie at 2:05 PM

April 15, 2011

Guilt in the Drivers Seat

When Tina and I go to Port Ludlow to work, we always rent the same house. We do it through the Resort there, and they know that's where we like to stay. We come a lot, we always get it, and it works really, really well.  There's enough room to spread out all the Sock Summit stuff, there's space to set up office equipment like a printer and such and there's a little kitchen so we can make coffee and food round the clock like lunatics without people knowing that we're lunatics. The little house is a perfect solution.  So a little while ago Tina and I called up The Resort at Port Ludlow and told them that we were coming, and we would need the wee house. They said the house was booked, that a guy was staying there, and offered us a room in the hotel instead. We said we'd think about it.  Then we thought about the type of work we were going to be doing, imagined laying out our complex bristol board/post-it system in a hotel room, decided that there wasn't room, and we called them back.

We asked if maybe we could call in a favour, was there anything else we could do? Another house, another weekend... anything? The staff said they would check and get back to us. They called back later that day and said that "the guy" in the house was totally willing to move out for a few days and take a hotel room himself. "Are you sure?" we asked. "No problem" they replied.

I booked plane tickets, Tina packed the Sock Summit World Headquarters into her car, and soon we were pulling into the driveway of our little house. We installed ourselves, and were in the process of laying the immense number of planning boards out on the floor, when (while we were moving a couch to make room for the boards) I found a tiny toy car. 

I held it up to Tina. "Oh" she said.  "I know" I said. 
We'd both realized something at the same time. "A guy" wouldn't have a toy car. Children have toy cars. Did we make "a guy" with a kid move? That seemed bad.  Down at the hotel proper for dinner later, we asked, and that's when we found out the truth.  It wasn't a guy in the house.
It was a mum.
It was a mum with a two year old.

We felt terrible, and we said so. "It's okay" said the lady on the desk. 
"Her baby isn't due for two weeks."

...And with that,  Tina and I both heard a crashing noise that was the sound of our Karma hitting the bottom of the bin.  The idea that "a guy" had moved to make room for us was one thing, but the idea that a mum 38 weeks pregnant  had moved was another.  We felt awful, but not as awful as we did when we found out a few other things.
Things like that she was living there with her parents.
Living there with her parents and not her husband because he was in a soldier stationed far away.
Not living in their house because a chunk of their house had BURNED DOWN.

In that instant, we decided we were awful. Awful, horrible people.  It didn't matter that we didn't know, it didn't matter that apparently they were the nicest family in the world who didn't mind giving up the house at all because they understood when they rented it that they would occasionally have to vacate it for other clients... as a matter of fact, the fact that they were lovely and accommodating only made it worse. Tina and I decided we were going to try to make it up to them. 

A few weeks ago, we got word that the baby had been born, and that it was a girl, and we started trying to figure out how to get out of our guilt, and being knitters, we decided to say "We're sorry" with yarn. 
First I knit a sweater for the baby.

Then Tina got busy dyeing yarn, and we got busy planning. Sock Camp was the next week, and we got the campers to help us knit our way out of trouble.  First, each tribe got a little project.  A hat, a set of booties, a bonnet and a pair of baby socks.  Each tribe split the work, a few rounds each, and at the end of camp we had the cutest little pile of knitwear for that baby.  That was a good start... but it wasn't quite enough... so we planned something else. 

A group blanket.  Tina dyed four colours of yarn (It's Geisha, for those of you who will ask)  Debbi knit a rectangle in garter stitch, then we picked up stitches all around the rectangle using four circular needles, and joined four balls of yarn, one each of the four colours. Anna Zilboorg, Stephen, Debbi and I started it, and then it was set.

Now four knitters could sit, knee to knee, and each working with their own colour and their own round.  With four knitters working at once, four rounds were accomplished - at the same time, with one turn of the blanket.

If you don't quite get what we mean, Anne Hanson (Thanks Anne!) took a cool video of the system at work.  (I tried to embed it, I don't think it worked. If not, there's a link to it here. ) Go watch. It's supremely cool.

The blanket got passed around for the whole camp, little knots of four campers at a time each tossing in a round or two.  By the time the camp was over we had the centre square and the striped part of the blankie done, and I started my work.
Using one colour at a time, I started putting a feather and fan edge on the blankie.

It took a few several days, but this is what we ended up with. 

One blanket,

45 knitters.

One apology.

It's going in the mail tomorrow. 

(PS.  A special thank you to all the campers for helping Tina and I knit our Karma out of the dumper. We appreciate it.)

Posted by Stephanie at 2:39 PM

April 11, 2011

Cranky is as Cranky does

 The following is a brief list of stupid stuff that pissed me off this weekend. I'm listing it here, then putting it all down (spiritually speaking) and going for a walk. Tomorrow I'm going to be chipper, damn it.

1. Salad. I had 15 minutes to grab something to eat in the airport on Friday. Does someone want to explain to me why all of a sudden, it's impossible to get a vegetarian salad? They've all got chicken or ham or some other thing whacked on the top of them, and in airports they're all pre-made so you can't have one without it. I totally get that I can't expect there to be veggie options for everything - but salad? Not being able to get a SALAD? I'm going out on a limb here and saying that there should be vegetarian salads. All the time. Everywhere. Seriously.

2. People who can't figure out personal space issues.  I had had an argument without words with the guy in the seat next to me all the way home from Vancouver.  He had issues with using only his allotted seat range of space. He was spread eagled into my ribcage with his elbows, and rested one foot on my knitting bag under the seat in front of me.  Totally unacceptable, but I couldn't find the words to say anything so instead I just quietly hated his guts all the way. It was as effective as it usually is.

3. Me. Why didn't I say something? Why am I so timid when someone's jerking me around?  I could have politely asked him to move. 

4. My sock. I started the April socks on the plane ride home.  It's Show-off Stranded socks and STR lightweight in Valenscummy.

Ironically, I thought this pattern would help prevent pooling. It's not. Turns out that this pattern/yarn combo is an expert pooler. It has been ripped back into non-existence and I'm supremely pissed off that I knit that much of it when I knew I was not liking it. Stupid knitting indecision. Hate. It.

4. Someone vandalized our car in a classic smash and grab. (They did ten cars in a row.)  For those of you who know me, you'll be sad to hear that other than the damage to the car, the only thing the person took was Daniel - my beloved GPS.  He was old, but faithful and I'll miss him badly. 

5. Whoever it was that smashed the car - thanks for the bonus damage to the car that you inflicted just for giggles. You know, I get that people steal stuff like that because they're trying to solve a personal problem, and I while I don't like it, I bet running out of crack money if you're hooked on the stuff is really awful. I understand why you stole from us.  Don't like it, but get it. I'm having a hard time understanding why they had to do more damage than necessary. It makes me think maybe they're just a jerk - and not a person struggling, which is where I was willing to go with it until they were that crappy. 

6. Cookies. For not being here.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:39 PM

April 7, 2011


When it comes time to tell you about Sock Camp, I'm always sorry that we have a media ban there.  What happens at Sock Camp stays at Sock Camp, and that cone of silence is in place because Tina and I love the idea of a place where you can entirely be yourself without worrying about what's going to end up on YouTube. (I assure you, that Marcy showed us all something this weekend that would make the world a better place were it on YouTube, and that JC Briar owns something and used it in a way you wouldn't believe without me showing you the banned photos. Use your imagination, know that it is failing you,  and if I outlive her, someday I'll post them.)

I could tell you about the hats. I could tell you about the tea party, I could tell you about the scavenger hunt or Anna Zilboorg's workshop (I tell you, her brain is a big, broad, trippy, place to hang out) I could tell you how very, very funny Anne Hanson is (I bet you suspected) or I could tell you about the circumstances that led her to I knit a tiny swatch out of 100% acrylic.

I could tell you about my class, which was about sock repair, I could tell you about the food (oh my, the food) I could tell you about Stephen doing a killer job, and Debbi's endless good humour, flexibility and grace under fire, or I could tell you about finding these bizarre tiny chickens everywhere I go, even now, after the camp's done - I could tell you that I've had a sore throat from laughing so much, and that I can't believe the way the Inn staff got into it this year.  (Think costumes.)

It is four days where knitters run the world, and I like the way it looks like that - and I think the Resort at Port Ludlow has finally come to like it that way too. This camp (like other events here) campers yarnbombed the inn.  Little knitted decorations sprang up and were attached to the most wonderful spots.  Knitting from lampshades, around door handles, not just placed there either.  Sewn on.

There was a great moment at camp, when Tina and I are waiting to begin antics and we couldn't find a few campers. When we asked where they were,  someone lifted the tablecloth, and underneath it, was a little clutch of knitters  huddled under the table, using their phones for light while they sewed a big chunk of knitting to the table support.

I almost cried I loved it so much.

It always breaks my heart that we just get things the way we like them here, and they we leave and it all just goes back to being the way that regular people think hotels should look, and I've never understood why they feel the need to take the yarn bombings down.  I feel like the knitters have improved the inn, created art, beautified the place... that's why I just about fell off my chair when yesterday Debbie, the wonderful new General Manager here, breezed by the table where Tina and I were having breakfast, and dropped a copy of an email the staff was discussing right in front of us.

In it, they talk about how fantastic the yarnbombings are. How they think they should leave them up for a month after we leave, every time... and how maybe there should be special events around ordinary people looking for and enjoying the art that the knitters create and leave behind - and that maybe they should think about it like geocaching

Unbelievable, and the best possible end to Camp. 

Posted by Stephanie at 6:51 PM

April 6, 2011

Not Dead

It occurred to me that if I didn't post something today, the emails inquiring about my well being would start coming.  I am well.  Sock camp was so much fun that I can't believe it doesn't have a mortality rate, but has left me pretty much bagged. Pictures and a report tomorrow. After I sleep. A lot.

Posted by Stephanie at 5:10 PM