June 30, 2011



Yesterday morning I spent forever with Joe and Natalie trying to get our desktop computer to work for her for Sock Summit related stuff, but it wasn't interested. 

Yesterday I tried really hard to leave on time for Knit Night, but my printer wouldn't work and seventy-five things went wrong with work and so I had to leave late.

Yesterday, I finally managed to get enough stuff done that I could leave late, and then I went down to get a clean shirt out of the dryer and everything in it was still wet because I forgot to push the button, and I had to wear a dirty shirt out. I didn't tell anyone. I also found out that the new skirt I've been wearing for three weeks is actually a dress and I've been wearing it wrong, which may or may not explain the looks that young beautiful women keep giving me.

Yesterday, after I put on a dirty shirt and left for Knit Night, my bike had a flat and there was a really, really big spider on the pump and we had to battle for pump ownership. I won - but not by much, and it took a run at me twice.

Yesterday, when I got to Knit Night, I couldn't find my bank card, and I thought I left it at home, but it looks like I lost it.

Yesterday, I left Knit Night early so that I could come home and work without it being 2am when I was done, but on the way home my bike broke.  The seat clamp let go or something, and the front of the seat suddenly jacked up and the back rammed down and it really hurt in a way that gives new meaning to the word "bummer".

Yesterday, when my seat broke? I got tossed backwards and I broke the zipties holding my milk crate trunk on, and it fell off.

Yesterday, I tried riding home standing up while holding the milk crate on but it didn't go really well, especially on hills - and I think I scared a lady walking her dog when I said a bad word.  (Or ten.)

Yesterday, I gave up trying to ride standing up and holding my milk crate and I got off and walked the rest of the way - which was about 5k.

Yesterday, when I was pushing my bike up a hill and my milk crate kept falling off my back rack and I was just about done with the whole (&Y^%$#$%^!ing thing, I stepped in a mammoth pile of dog sh*t, and I was wearing Birkenstocks and some got on my foot.

Yesterday, when I got home late and put my bike in the back and hosed off my shoe and then washed my feet, I went into the kitchen and opened my laptop and it was a freakin' brick.  Total doorstop.  No longer a computer, just a taunting black screen of hopelessness. Sometime while I was out it just  died for no other reason that to test my will. 

Yesterday, when my computer left the land of the living? I really felt for about 3 minutes like there wasn't going to be a Sock Summit because there are really only a few weeks left and seriously, what if the backup thing wasn't working and it didn't back-up and holy crap how am I going to make all this work with no computer and I think the world went a little black around the edges and that was when I decided that I should cry.

Yesterday when that happened, I told Joe that he had to get the computer fixed today and he reminded me that tomorrow is Canada Day and Monday is a holiday in the US and that maybe I had better start wrapping my head around not having a computer until Wednesday, which is when I reminded him I'm flying to Portland on Monday, and he said "That's not good" and I'm too much of a lady to tell you what I said.

Yesterday we managed to get my profile off the backup and install it on the desktop, which was a pretty good solution except I sort of wiped Natalie's profile off there.

Yesterday (or today) I poured myself a glass of wine at 2:34am, because I still couldn't get stuff to work.

Today, I'm thinking about writing "approach with caution" on my forehead and I just had chocolate and a beer for lunch.  

Posted by Stephanie at 2:48 PM

June 29, 2011

My Sock

Me and my sock are hanging around together.  Its been with me constantly for the last little bit, and I have to tell you, it's not really working out.

Don't get me wrong.  I love that little whippersnapper of a sock.  I love the yarn, I love the pattern, I love everything about it, I'm not suggesting a breakup or anything - but I am noticing a problem. Usually all I have to do to finish a pair of socks that I love is drag them around with me for a few days, and boom.  Done.  I put them by my desk, I put them in my bag, and they just sort of grow while I'm on the phone, while I'm on the bus, while I'm in lines... This time, I'll be darned if I haven't had them with me all the time, but they don't get any bigger.
I was puzzled by it until I took this picture and it all came clear.

Yeah.  This is the only place I'm at with my sock right now.  Me and the sock. At the computer, and I may be all kinds of awesome when it comes to knitting, but even I haven't figured out how to type and knit at the same time.  Right now, I think it's possible that the sock has a closer relationship with my post-its than me. 

It's paying off though.  All sorts of things are organized and sorted and pulled together.  Like this, and this and oh wow.  Like this! (I'm crazy about all of those ideas, but the last one really flips me.) There's only a few days till the Summit.  (Please don't tell me exactly how many.  I'm fragile.) I swear to you, I'm going to knit the complete snot out of August. I'm going to read and sleep too.  It's going to be fantastic.
Hang on little socks.  I love you.  Don't let the fact that you're June socks get you down in July.

(PS.  Amanda, Megan, Ken and Erin (previous post) are still hoping to raise enough to take part in this years ride.  They need $2200 each - before June 30th to participate, and none have yet met that goals.  I know things are tough all over, but if you're so inclined, they would all appreciate it.)

Posted by Stephanie at 1:01 PM

June 24, 2011

The Thing About My Family

I'm spending today moving at light speed, getting ready, together with the rest of my family to host an "unemployment party" for my Mum tomorrow.
(We have been summarily banned from calling it a "retirement party", which makes total sense if you know her.)

Among my tasks for tomorrow is to write a speech about her, and I just want to say publicly that I frankly cannot believe that I have been blessed with the incredible good fortune of the difficulty of it.  My problem is not that I can't think of what to say, it's that I can't think of what NOT to say. She's amazing. 

You know what else is amazing? Our family.   See this picture?

It's my sister Erin, my daughters Amanda and Megan and our dearest friend Ken.  They are (drumroll please) your "Team Knit"(they all know how to knit, the whole lot of them)  for this year's Friends for Life Bike Rally.  Ken and Megan have done it before (and you've all really generously supported them) and this year, our family's dedication to the People With AIDS Foundation is doubled. 

On the 24th of July (when sadly, I'll be doing that little Sock Summit thing. I'll have no excuse next summer) these four people that I love will get on their bikes, and begin a six day epic ride to Montreal from Toronto.  It's not easy.  Megan and Ken will ride a tandem again, and my sister (who is, as she works the training program, beginning to wonder if she's a little old for this) and Amanda will ride solo.

As we get ready for the party for my Mum tomorrow, and ponder all that she's made and done in her life, it occurred to us that this is something that she should be particularly proud of.  That her work ethic, dedication, commitment and miraculous spirit has generated this legacy - daughters, grand-daughters and friends who all care deeply about the fairness and kindness of the world around them. I promise that it was her who taught it to them - and if there is any goodness in me, that's where it comes from too.

We'll be passing the hat tomorrow for our riders, in honour of my mum, who really wouldn't want any other present as she ends one half century of employment.   If any of you are so moved to pledge to them, the donation pages for our family's riders are here.


A thousand thanks in advance, and know that we'll be dancing up a grateful  storm tomorrow night.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:06 PM

June 23, 2011

Thursday Rather Randomly

1. I made my way back home again yesterday, walking out the door of Sock Summit World Headquarters (Tina's house) at 7:30am, and walking in the door here at 9:30pm.  I cannot stress enough how much teleportation would be helpful to me.

2. I've always had a rule that plane time is down time. I knit. I think. I read. I don't work.  Yesterday I broke that rule.

3. I still got a fair bit of knitting done - making slow progress on the June socks, which are lovely, but slow.

Pattern: Revival, by Glenna C.  Yarn: DiC Everlasting, in Black and White. (Or at least that's what I think it is. I have suffered a ballband loss.)

4. When I came home last night, I noticed that someone has stolen our green bin.
5. This is a really odd thing to steal. It's not like they're expensive, rare or have a high resale value.

6. Joe believes (and I think he is serious) that the local raccoon gang has absconded with it, partly for the stuff that was in it, and partly because he thinks that raccoons would hope that without a green bin, we would just start putting our food waste out buffet style for them.

7. I think that Joe has a lot of  faith in the clementine sized brains of raccoons.

8. On the other hand, they do seem to be remarkably well organized and efficient. I also have a suspicion that they are telepathic, but that's a story for another day.

9. The baby blanket is bigger too, but it's still the same field of little flowers, just more of it, so I can't imagine that you'd be interested in the picture.  Think same as last time, just more.

10. It's not as big as I'd hoped, and neither is the sock.  Frankly, I sort of thought that the socks would be done.  I'm not sure how I thought that would happen with only a little knitting time, but I'm still burning with the irony of how much planning a knitting event reduces knitting time. 

11. I am hoping a lot of coffee helps with that.

Posted by Stephanie at 3:36 PM

June 20, 2011

Easier than we thought

A wild and wonderful weekend of work, here at Sock Summit World Headquarters, and in between the work with the waitlist and students and teachers and vendors and spreadsheets and maps - Tina and I finished up really the best part of an event that's brand new to Sock Summit, and one we hope you're going to love. (We're hoping that even if you can't come to the Summit, this one is going to be cool from a distance.)
We trucked our little selves out to Jan McMahon's little farm, and we had a visit with some sheep.

They were good sheep, and we got a tour, and visited with Ginger the sheep dog (and Sean the sheep dog - a retired border collie who figured out we were there about an hour after we arrived) and had a chat with Jan.

Then we took a good look at her sheep, and had a lovely pat on some beautiful coated lambs, and then we met two sheep that are going to be good friends to us in the future.

Meet Heel Flap and Gusset. Two beautiful CMV/Merino crossbreeds, who will be serving a noble purpose in the service of the Sock Summit.
On Sunday, the 31st of July, Jan is going to put those two pretty little lambs into a trailer, and she's going to drive them to the Oregon Convention Center -

and once they're there, they will meet their shearer (It's Amy Wolf. I know. It's all very exciting) and then they'll get ready for their event.

Their event? We've devised the first ever Fleece To Foot Challenge. (You're going to love this.) The sheep will be sheared, right there in the convention center - and everyone can watch - and then the fleeces will be divided up and distributed to the teams. What teams?

Teams made up of five spinners and knitters - and those teams will prep, spin, ply and knit A PAIR OF SOCKS in the least amount of time possible. It's like a race. To make it fair, they'll all knit the same pair of socks, and to make it possible, that pair of socks will be modular. Each knitter will make parts of a sock, and it will be assembled at the last. (There's a design contest for the pattern too.) All proceeds, including the prizes go to charity, and Tina and I are footing the bill for the space, sheep, fleeces, shearer and the donations to the charities of the participants choice. The rules are on the Fleece to Foot page of our website, and man.. do we ever hope you all love this idea, because if nobody forms teams and takes part we're going to look pretty stupid hanging out with two sheep and a shearer. (Although really, we both spin - so we could find a way out of it.)

We're thinking costumes, themes, general mayhem, and we'd love it if you helped us spread the word. We have the sheep, and the sheep are ready.

Remarkably, we just went to a big planning meeting at the Oregon Convention Center, where we showed them pictures of the sheep, explained how we were going to do this, and how it was going to be fine, and it worked.

Don't tell them, but I sort of feel like we just pulled a Jedi mind trick on them. I sat there, casually projecting all sorts of relaxed ideas onto them, even though Tina (who simply cannot be managed in any sort of way, I tell you) had thwarted my efforts by writing on the schedule "3:30 - Fleece to Foot ends. Shorn sheep are released into the Convention Center"

(They didn't notice that. The force is strong within me.) I just kept sitting there, waving my hands in a calming way and acting for all the world like live sheep shorn anywhere we want them are just fine.

"You will allow us to do this in the Convention Center. Live sheep are fine in the Convention Center. These live sheep are absolutely fine. They are not the live sheep you are seeking."

Posted by Stephanie at 6:40 PM

June 16, 2011

Long Roads

Back when my kids were born, and when Hank was born too,  our friend Janine gave both Erin and I a card and I'll always remember what it said inside.

Sleep is for pussies.

I'm thinking that today, as Joe and I hurtle along Hwy 400, headed in the general direction of North Bay and our youngest.  We're used to this trip now, and though it's about 10 hours on the road, we've almost grown accustomed to leaving in the morning- driving, having a visit and then heading back home. We share the driving, so there's usually a little knitting time in it for me, and that makes it easy to take.

This time though, this time it's going to be a total pig.  We got up this morning, I considered by to-do list, and then tossed back three cups of coffee just to make it feel like any of it was even approachable.  I did my email, worked on Sock Summit email, did a few more Sock Summit things, Joe and I installed a hose, bought toilet paper... and then I packed and put my suitcase by the door, and then we got in the car and started driving. I did the first leg so he could do enough work that he doesn't have to fire himself, and now we've switched so I can do the same.

(Note: For all Torontonians who make the drive to the Muskokas regularly, you will  be delighted to know that some time ago Joe and I passed "Dock in a Box" and yes.  We made the joke and sang the song. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm not going to spell it out for you.  Do yoursef a favour and google "box and Justin Timberlake" and then passing this joint will crack you up too.)

We'll see our girl, we'll have dinner, and then we'll turn around and come back, arriving home at about 1:00am - and then I will... and I can't even tell you how worried I am about this as a plan... I will, at least theoretically, get up at 4:30 to be at the airport by 5:30 so that I can catch a flight to Portland that seemed like it was at a totally reasonable time until Air Canada went on strike and sent me an email saying I should go to the Airport early because there might be "delays."
(Also, I'm flying carry-on, because of a shortage of people to tag my bag.)

Why, you may ask, would I still drive up north today if I knew I had to get up pre-dawn?  Well - because a mother has needs, and I can deal with my kids growing up and being away from me some of the time, but not without a minimum amount of contact.  It turns out that if I go too long without seeing my girls I become pretty much a Destroyer of Worlds, and if I don't see Sam now I won't see her for at least a week and it's already been a while and.  Well.  We are in the car, and tonight I'll get just enough sleep to make it possible to stand up at 4:30 and power through, and it's a good thing that I've always sort of thought that Janine was right and that sleep is for pussies.  I can handle it.  Me and my best friend Mr. Coffee are going to nail it.

In the meantime, I managed to get myself feeling a little guilty about my June socks, so I'm going to give them two days of my time and see what happens.  The car ride today, the flight tomorrow, we'll see what becomes of them.
Assuming I survive, I might even have a finished sock tomorrow.  

Posted by Stephanie at 2:20 PM

June 15, 2011


Well knock me down and take my sock, thanks so much for the wonderful Birthday wishes yesterday and for the beautiful surprise of so many donations to MSF.  Great gift, you're all lovely, gracious and undoubtedly good looking.

I spent the day working a little more than I wanted to, and then trying to convince myself (with coffee and a little knitting)  to go out into the garden and cut it down to size. In the end I took a glass of wine to the backyard and tried to garden with my mind while I knit.

The garden remains enormously overgrown today, and the baby blanket is a little bit bigger.

For how big a project it is, and how little time I have, it's growing so fast. I'm loving working on it.  I've chosen a simple little cluster of yarn overs, and they're alternated across the whole field - this panel will be the centre of the blanket, and I'm planning a big honking border all around it. I was right I think... the scope of the blanket is definitely better suited to my work right now, it's way more enchanting to work on this than my poor little June socks.

(You will note that it would appear that not a single stitch has been knit on those socks since you saw them last, and you would be right. I'm starting to think the June socks might be November socks.)

Posted by Stephanie at 12:08 PM

June 14, 2011

More Than The Answer

Today is my Birthday.  I thought about not posting, even thought I wanted to, because my rule has always been that I don't work on my Birthday.  This year (because I sort of have to work on my Birthday) I decided the rule was really more "I don't do anything I don't want to on my Birthday" and that opened the world of possibility before me.. so you're getting a Birthday Random Post.

1. I'm 43 today. Oddly, even thought I thought this was really old when I was in my twenties, it seems pretty freaking reasonable now that I'm here.

2. I think I look pretty good for 43. I have decided not to make much of this, since it will all likely catch up with me soon.

3. On my 43rd birthday, I can do 16 pushups and run 5k -- if I have to, which I don't, so I'm not... but I could if I wanted to, and that's more than I can say about my 40th Birthday, so I think I'm just improving all the time.

4. I had a glass of wine in the afternoon and planted a new hosta.  I feel celebratory.

5. All three of my daughters wished me Happy Birthday before noon and my husband remembered.  I'm counting that as a win too.

6. For the record, my husband has admitted that the way he remembers my birthday is that he knows it happens when it's warm - so one night when it's warm, he waits for me to go to sleep, then checks my drivers licence.

7. Is that charming? I think so.

8. I am knitting- and there is nothing anyone can do to stop me.

9. For now.

10. Thanks for being here on my Birthday. Whether all of you know it or not, I feel involved with the lot of you.  The tweets and emails have been absolutely awesome, and I'm grateful. This is a pretty good place to be on your birthday.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:18 PM

June 10, 2011


The other afternoon, shortly after I posted last, I was knitting a little bit, and really not feeling the magic.  I was having a good time, I mean - it's knitting and I'm not dead, so how can it not be great - but I just wasn't feeling super excited about my sock. 

I got to thinking about it, and I realized what I need.  In the face of the organizational monstrosity that is the Sock Summit - I can't possibly expect a wee sock to hold its own.  It's like babies - there has to be matching. 

Do you know this about babies? If not, I'm about to give you a piece of information about how they work that will change everything between you and the little beasts. Here's the thing: If you want a baby to be happy with you - if you're seeking to calm, comfort or content them, you have to match their intensity.  If they whimper, you rock.  If they cry, you stand and rock. If they cry harder, you stand, rock, bob and hold them harder - upright against your chest.   Sing too.  If they're absolutely out of their minds (and you've fed them, there's nothing anyone can do with a hungry baby) then you have to ramp your response up all the way.
Blast the radio, clutch them tight, and sing, bob, weave, walk, dance and thump their little bummies firmly in the rhythm of their own heartbeats.  (Not yours. That won't work. The wailing will continue.)  It's all about meeting them where they are, and if they're enraged, screaming and purple, and you're holding them tenderly and stroking their backs, you're going down - and they're not.

I got to thinking, as I held my little sock, that maybe that's what was wrong with it. Maybe it just didn't have the intensity that it needed to match my workload - I know it sounds crazy, to want something to be bigger and harder when things are already big and hard, but there you have the theory, and I think it's accurate.

I present to you then, the next big and crazy to match the big and crazy everywhere else in my life.  It might look small now, it's just a swatch...

but it will be big later.

It's a baby blanket of my own reckoning, and it's going to be epic.

Posted by Stephanie at 2:15 PM

June 8, 2011

Time and my Lack Thereof

Over the years, I've gotten pretty good at finding knitting time.  Most of the stuff I've figured out has a lot to do with housework, and how I don't do a lot of it. I'm used to being super busy and still getting knitting time in, and so this phase I'm in now is crazy.  Last night, once I finished work, but before I lost consciousness,  I sat down to knit - and this is all I got done.

That's it, and I'm a pretty quick knitter.  (The irony that one of the classes I teach is "Knitting for Speed and Efficiency" and I'm not finding either around here is not lost on me, I assure you.)  Right now there's just so much work that I'm finding little knitting time, and it's making me a crazy lunatic person.  Knitting is so central to my ability to be nice, that soon I will either have to find more time to do it, or stop leaving the house or answering the phone.  It will become a public safety issue.

As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to take 10 minutes right now. Not because it would be slacking on work and that's a lousy thing to do, but because I am a kind and generous person who cares about the lives and happiness of others.

Knitting right now is probably generous... right?

Posted by Stephanie at 1:32 PM

June 6, 2011

Post Squam Random

1. Back from SAW. As always, hard work that it's hard to complain about. The setting is so beautiful, the people so kind and the vibe so awesome that it feels like a privilege to be able to work there.  How can I not feel so, when this was  my classroom.

2. Yes. If you were at squam, the series of mad leaps into the lake you heard at 10:30pm one night were the Canadians. We were briefly overwhelmed by the sight of unfrozen water and couldn't restrain ourselves. 

3.  No.  It wasn't really that cold. Pretty cold, but not terrible. Maybe that was by our own standards, because we did notice that we were alone.

4. Yes. Dead sober.

5. I have pretty pictures.

6.  For the first time ever, a student tried to learn the hand position for lever knitting in a whole new way.

She tied up her own pinky to get it to behave.  Clever knitter.

8. We were not underyarned.

Posted by Stephanie at 1:38 PM