Oh, Canada

I bet you thought I wasn’t going to post for Canada Day this year, but here I am, what may seem like a few days late, but it’s not. Our family had ton’s of commitments this weekend, but luckily the grand occasion of Canada’s Sesquicentennial fell on a Saturday this year, and that means that today’s a Statutory holiday as well, and bingo – there was our Canada Day together.  We had a little party with a simple premise. Bring Canadian food.

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Blog, we had the loveliest time. Poutine, ketchup chips, Hawaiian Pizza (that’s pizza with pineapple on. It’s a bizarrely delicious and Canadian idea) and Caesars and Nanaimo bars and butter tarts and oysters from PEI, and maple (and sprinkle) donuts from Tim Hortons.

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The kids laughed and played (except Elliot, who wasn’t really into Canada Day, but his dad stuck a flag into his carseat to make it look like he was in the spirit) and we all had a great time in each other’s company, and unbelievably, it didn’t rain. It was perfect.

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I always wax a little poetic on Canada Day – I’ve written so many posts where I listed wild and wonderful facts about this beautiful place, but this year, we found ourselves talking more than once about the wonderful advantages all the little people in our family have, by virtue of having the good luck to be born here.

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They live in a safe country, one that prizes inclusion, diversity, fairness and being a refuge for people all over the world. They live in a country with health care for all – a system so good that only 3% of Canadians will ever get health care in another country in their lifetimes, and most of those times are when they’re on holiday. Canadian life expectancy is 6th in all the world. (We’re beaten out by just five countries, Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Australia and Sweden.) My grandson will live well into his eighties, if he’s average. (I like to think he’s way better than that.)

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He and Luis and Frankie have had the good luck to be born in the most educated country in the world, one where the literacy rate is over 99%, and the only country in the world where more than 51% of all citizens have a tertiary education –  and they will most likely be bilingual (or in Frankie and Luis’ case, trilingual.) Because they’re Canadian, they’ll probably be avid travellers, and welcome all over the world.

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Thanks to being born here – Their parents will enjoy a full year of paid parental leave (even if they were adopted) with the option of extending it to 18 months.  As they grow, they’ll enjoy the beauty of our country, no matter where they live in it, and clean air (the third cleanest in the world) and they’ll be treated with fairness, no matter who they choose to love, who they say they are, or what faith they profess, if any.  On top of all of that, they live in the same country as Santa Claus.

Hopefully they’ll learn to love the winters…

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because that’s the only downside we could think of.

Happy Sesquicentennial Canada. We’re so grateful to live here. Bonne fête!

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Still in the kitchen

Thank you all so much for all the kind words about our little Millie. It took me forever to read all the comments*, because I could only get through so many before dissolving again, and I’m trying to move past this phase where I weep desperately about a cat 43 times a day. The world is full of big and important things, and here I sit, completely trashed over a tiny mammal. Her food and water bowls are still in the kitchen, neither of us seem to be able to get rid of them, and we haven’t had a conversation about her box, or her scratching post. These little artifacts – her brush, her comb, the jar of catnip… we’ll have to do something about them I suppose, but for now, we avoid looking at all of it, and don’t talk about it.  Even knitting has been a bit hard, since she always sat right beside me while I did it, and her absence triggers the aforementioned weeping. I’m not really a weepy person – so I don’t know how to knit and weep at the same time, and it turns out that just holding your knitting doesn’t get much done.

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**

I’m trying to change that today though, because Robyn is still pregnant, and although she has plenty of sympathy for the loss of a pet, I can’t imagine she’ll have patience for it much longer, and despite a baby or two having broken my streak, the suspicion lingers that babies don’t come until their blanket is done. I don’t want her thinking that her continued condition is my fault.  I’ve not been carrying it with me because charts and huge blankets aren’t good around-the-town knitting, but today I’m packing it along. It’s starting to feel impossible to finish the thing, and that means I need a big chunk of knitting time to get ahead of its inertia. I swear I’ve poured an entire other ball of yarn into it and you can’t really tell.  This may mean that I’ve done that thing where the blanket is bigger than I thought again, but no way to know until it’s not so scrunched up on the needles. We’re going to war, this blanket and I. It ends here. It ends now.***

 

*Thanks too for the Rally donations in Millie’s memory. They are very touching, and make me laugh, which is a lovely antidote to all that weeping. That cat didn’t even know what a bike was.

**It is raining again, so that picture looks like I took it at night. I swear I don’t know how many more rain days I can take.

***Ok not now-  there’s a lot of the edging to go, but it was a satisfyingly dramatic thing to type.

 

Millie BadCat

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From the moment I saw her years and years ago, I knew Millie was the cat for me. She was very small, and the tag on her cage at the Humane Society said that she liked to chase moths, and I thought that made her a knitter’s cat for sure. Turns out she didn’t give a crap about moths, but she was a hell of a mouser, and regularly attempted to make short work of every animal in the neighbourhood.

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It wasn’t at all unusual to have to unhook her from the front windowscreens where she hung, hurling invective at some enormous dog she felt sure she could end if she could just get through the damn window.  She slept on my head every night and went on hungerstrikes when I left town. She liked to put her tail in my bath. Her favourite food was pizza, she was tidier than we were, and she taught all the girls to hang up their coats through the magic of urine… and I didn’t know just how much I loved her until today. She drove me crazy.

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Millie was an old lady by now – in human years she’d be in her nineties, and up until the last few days she’d been having a pretty good run. She still made her rounds every morning to make sure that there were no squirrels that needed threatening, and she continued to raid the compost bin if the lid was left open, fulfilling a deep passion for any food that was not intended for cats.  In the last little bit she’d become very skinny, and seemed to have less energy, and today a visit to the vet for what we thought was something minor became very major indeed, and we said by to our little cat just an hour after a diagnosis so devastating that there was nothing else to do. She was a very, very good cat, and we wouldn’t have wanted to see her suffer for a minute longer.

I’ll get back to knitting and fundraising tomorrow, goodness knows both need doing, but  tonight I think I’ll just have a really good cry for my 3.77lbs of wee beast.

Monday was a stinking slag heap of a day. Monday’s scene was scrambled, it couldn’t get itself together, and despite noble, persistent and good-natured attempts by yours truly to bring it around and call it to its higher self, Monday didn’t even try to work things out with me. I tried with Monday, I really did. I tried going for a training ride – it’s been so hard to find the time and energy, only to get a stinking flat tire. (Which I changed, with no amount of struggling for good humour.)  I trudged through it, attempting to charm it into submission, but Monday proved too much for me, and after spending the evening’s knitting time trying to untangle a ball of yarn that had contorted itself into something that looked like it had been in a toddler’s toy chest for a week,  I fell into bed that night thinking the best thing an optimistic person can after a day that’s clearly out to get them, which was “well, at least it’s over.”

Tuesday? Tuesday wasn’t as bad as Monday, but let’s be clear, it lacked the joie de vivre and decent good sense that any day attempting to follow a train-wreck of a Monday should have had. Tuesday didn’t even try.  I gave up on Tuesday last night when it rained on me last night and the porch roof leaked.

Today? Today is, rather literally, sunshine and roses.  I went for a training ride by myself, and it was nothing short of lovely. Not too hot, not too cold, very sunny but I didn’t get a sunburn, my inbox is almost sorta kinda under control, and I am finally ready to start the edging on this baby blanket.

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The chart I devised even works, and I have a clever idea for the corners that I think will work, though I’m not far enough off from Monday and Tuesday’s pale curse to go so far as to say I’m confident. My jeans fit just right, and tonight I’m having dinner (it’s Joe’s turn to arrange it) and a cuddle with Elliot Tupper, and he has learned to smile and has the beginnings of a clumsy laugh,  and does his best to pretend he likes me best. (Joe will argue and say it’s him that’s the favourite, and even that charms me.)

Happy Summer Solstice, my friends (except for Cameron and other knitters in the Southern hemisphere – for them it’s one of my favourite days, the Winter Solstice. Light a candle. As of today, the light is on it’s way back to you.) Tonight we’ll sit in the garden, ignore the weeds, and marvel at how long it stays light.

How’s your day?

I think it’s in the living room

Random thing the first: I got on my bike this morning and took about sixteen deep breaths before pushing off and going to the gym.  (Did I tell you about this? I’ve started picking up heavy things and putting them back down again. I’m absolutely terrible at it, but that’s not the point. Avoiding osteoporosis and staying strong is the goal, so it doesn’t matter that I’m a pathetic weight lifter. I’ve got the bar low. Literally and figuratively.)  Four trips across the continent, a retreat and several birthdays in a row have finally managed to knock the organization off me and left everything a mess. (The fact that my unpacked suitcase is still in the middle of the living room is a terrible sign. Note to self, tidy that.) I’ve also given up trying to make a blog post with flow.

2. The retreat was great, as it always is, and the yarn bombings were beyond compare – as you can imagine from a group inspired by World Wide Knit in Public Day. (We tried to knit in public, but when you’re at a knitting retreat it’s hard because knitters are the public. We did our best.

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3. We had some fantastic yarn bombings this time, but I think this was my absolute favourite, metres and metres of icord, knit from leftovers and wound through the railing on the landing of the Inn.

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The best part of it was watching it grow. The first morning there was a few rows, then the next morning it was a little bigger, and by the last day it was as you see it, the whole thing filled in.

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Nobody saw how it got to be there either, it was like a vine that only grew in the night. Non-knitters thought it was cool, but the knitters were bananas for it. (That’s a lot of i-cord.)

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4. On Wednesday, which just so happened to be my birthday, I left Port Ludlow at 8:30am, and staggered through the door (after a car ride, a ferry ride, another car ride, two planes (one cancelled and re-booked) and a taxi) at 2:30 am and it was not the best way to spend your birthday ever devised.  I admit, it had a lot of knitting in it, which should have been decent groundwork for a birthday, but failed to deliver.  I tried to be chipper about it, because I was travelling with Jen, but the truth is that I miscalculated how I’d feel about it, and it wasn’t awesome.

5. I felt bad about this until (while I was just thinking about whinging about our cancelled flight) a friend I was texting with said I should call a do-over. This is apparently a completely legal birthday manoeuvre that I have somehow gotten to be 49 years old without knowing.  It turns out that if a birthday looks like it’s about to go sideways, you can call a do-over, as long as you do it before you’ve had the whole birthday. (This is, I suppose, a way of making sure that you don’t cheat and get out of hand, trying to get more birthday than you properly deserve.) I get the feeling that you need to call it before there’s a cake with candles in or something else that’s irrevocable, but luckily for me, all I’d had was a frisking at security. (Hardly seems like it would count.)

6. I have decided to have my do-over on Sunday, when I can see my family and have dinner with them instead of getting that Happy Birthday text message with the balloons over and over again, which while thoughtful, is not even a little bit the same.

7. I have not seen Elliot in 10 days, which is a record. Joe got to see him day before yesterday and I am so jealous I could die, but that’s unbecoming, so I’m trying to get over it. Not only have I called do-over for Sunday, but also dibs on the baby.

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8. The blanket is not done but I am getting close.

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That’s a lie. If I’m lucky I’ll finish the border today, and then I still have the edging to do.

9. Thank you to everyone who sent donations for the ride for my birthday – trying to get everyone on Team Knit (that’s me, Jen, Ken, Cameron and Pato) to their goals is an amazing Birthday gift, and all I really need. I was especially charmed by the donations of $49.

10. This is because I am now 49.  I think what I love best is that PWA is going to be absolutely flummoxed trying to figure out why on earth someone would donate $49.  (For the record, our Lady Jen was 43 on June 12th.)

11. Tomorrow, rain or shine (because we’re running out of training time, we have to ride even if it rains) Team Knit will ride their bikes 92km. (That’s 57miles, for my American friends.) We’ve all set our phones so that they ding when we get a donation for PWA. The ride tomorrow has a lot of hills, and I can’t tell you what that ding does when you’re halfway up one. Puts the whole thing in perspective.  The only member of Team Knit that won’t be on his bike tomorrow is Cameron, who’s still working in Australia, and spending a lot of time worrying that I am going to ride my bike faster than him because he’s not able to train.

12. To be fair, this is pretty much my goal.

Karmic Balancing Gifts? Game on. I just have time for a few. (PS, if you missed how this works and have no idea what we’re on about, then see here.)

First up, from the rather amazing Lucy Neatby, we have a gift of 10 of her amazing DVDs. I’ve got all of these and they’re amazingly helpful, even if you’re not into the topic. (By the way, if you’re not the DVD type, you should try her craftsy classes. Lucy’s a really, really great teacher.) Lucy will be sending Knitting Essentials 1&2 to Erin F.

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Sock Techniques 1&2 to Clair S.

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Knitting Gems 1&2 to Amanda H

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Knitting Gems 3&4 to Janet A

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and Intarsia Untangled 1& 2 to Evelyn U. I hope you love them as much as I do. (PS, don’t try to watch while you’re knitting something unrelated. It’s disastrous.)

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Next  up, three great gifts from Sarah at Sea Turtle Fibre arts in Calgary. First, she’s got this gorgeous set of gradients that she’s sending to Meg W. (She’s including a co-ordinating skein of Charcoal, you lucky duck)

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a Kit to make this Goldfinch Shawl by Drea Renee, including the pattern and 3 skeins of their Riptide MCN Sport for Emma F.

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and last, but certainly not least, a set of our three of their most popular Rainbow colours on Ridley Sock: Dark Side of the Moon, Rainbow Brite and Rainbows and Unicorns will be going to Patricia J.

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So perfect for Pride month Sarah, thank you!

More Monday, assuming tomorrow’s ride doesn’t kill me. (Oh, the hills.)

I am like the wind

Randomly on a Wednesday: Subtitle – things I have done since last we were together.

1.  I applied all your suggestions in the last post, and the baby blanket is way, way bigger. This picture isn’t even accurate – because since I took it, I’ve picked up stitches all around the sides, and I’m working the border pattern in the round. Hope is on the horizon with this one, because tomorrow I leave for the June retreat, and I’ll have a whole bunch of travel time. I’m sort of excited. (About the retreat too, although I’m super psyched for the knitting time.)

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2. Jen and I went out and did a training ride together. I’m behind on my rides (you would not believe how completely crappy our weather has been) and Jen is even behinder- since she had to wait for school to end and her job to be over to be able to get out there, but get out there we did. A rather good showing of 50km, with no whining, which you should all be really impressed with, considering our ages and the way you can’t knit while you ride a bike.

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Jen’s the same as me that way –  her behaviour is mostly yarn led, and we’re both better people when our knitting is in our hands. It’s a wonder we can cycle at all, now that I think of it.

3. I made Elliot a sweet little sun hat (that I assume he’ll wear if summer ever arrives here.)

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It’s the Baby Sunbonnet from Purl Soho (they have stuff besides knitting stuff – who knew?) and it wasn’t too hard. It worked out really nicely, actually. There was only one problem.

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It was a little big.  I’ll make him another one.

4. By the way, I think it’s way more embarrassing to have a sewn thing come out the wrong size than a knitted thing. It’s not like it changes with blocking or it’s all scrunched up on a needle, and there’s no gauge to shaft you. It’s just… a mistake. Failure to measure.

5. Meg and I spent an afternoon making her a wrap skirt, perfectly adjustable for the post-baby changing figure. She can just keep cinching it in. Elliot was super helpful.

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6. That one came out the right size.

7. I flew to Portland on Sunday to meet up with Stephen, so that we could surprise Debbi for her birthday. (There was a party organized, we didn’t just show up.)

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I got on a plane first thing in the morning, and so did Stephen, and we met there and went for a walk in the Rose Garden (Fine. We ran. It was ambitious and we ran out of time.) and then we grabbed a hotel, put on pretty clothes and showed up at the party. I’m pretty sure we took a couple years off of Debbi’s life.

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8. I flew back the next day. I’m still not sure it was all smart. (I am kinda tired.)

9. I drove Cameron to the airport, because he has to go to Australia for work for five weeks, and I’m not really sure that’s how either of us imagined getting ready for the Rally  – working together as Co-Leads on different continents, but work is work, and we have to pay the bills, and it’s going to be harder on him than me, so I’m trying not to whine. He’s going to do his best from away – and I’m going to pick up the slack here. He packed himself off on the plane with his brand spanking new socks in progress in his carry on (and his almost finished thumbless mittens in his suitcase. It’s like he’s a totally real knitter now- he’s 99.5% of the way there. I’m withholding the .5% because he didn’t worry about being underyarned for the voyage.)

10. I am packing, because tomorrow I head back to the West Coast (I know. I was just there. I know, you’ll say I should have stayed, but I really wanted to have a few days with Joe, and to see Elliot and there was a fundraising meeting last night that I thought was really important because fundraising is behind for the Rally this year) and did I tell you that Jen is going with me? It’s her birthday this weekend (and almost mine) and so we’re celebrating – knitter style. We’re going to party like animals. (By party we mean go to a knitting retreat. It’s the same. Six days away where you only talk about knitting, do work that’s about knitting, hang out around around knitting and only are with knitters? That’s like the non-knitters birthday equivalent of hookers and blow. We’re meeting at the airport at dawn and we’re gonna let the good times roll. )

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11. We did a lot of baby holding. It’s super competitive around here. Stay strong Pato. Don’t let the Grampas get him from you. They’re circling like buzzards.

At least it’s on time

I’ve hit that point in the blanket project, I’m sure you know which one I mean. It’s that thing where you look at an innocent looking project, and all you can see is a gaping abyss of knitting ahead of you, and no possible way you could ever be finished.

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I know it looks like an ordinary blanket, but it’s my yarn eating nemesis. I’m just beginning the third ball, and the yarn keeps going in, and no knitting comes out. I’m not sure how that’s possible, this knitterly version of constipation, but here I am, and I’m a little worried about this blanket, because it’s got a long way to go, and it’s a bit early to be feeling so wildly desperate when I look at it.  I pick it up, and all I can think of is eighty-seven other things I’d rather be knitting, and twenty two projects I could be working on, and all of them seem better than this white wasteland of woolen despair. (Yesterday I actually cleaned the kitchen to avoid it. Bad sign.)

Usually, when knitting gets like this (and I don’t blame the blanket – every project tries this crap with me at some point) I add distraction.  A good book to listen to, a movie on the TV… I don’t watch a lot of TV, but there’s a lot to be said for a good binge watch of a show at this point, and I can’t believe I wasted the new season of Grace and Frankie on bootees and a sweater that I wasn’t sick of at all. It was remarkably short sighted, because the only way out of this is a whole whack of knitting time to break the back of it. I need to be on the winning side of this blanket. I need hope.

What do you do when you’re sick to death of a project, long before it’s done?

(PS. Don’t say that you knit something else. I’m on a deadline.)

(PPS. I don’t think I’ll do another blanket for a while after this one.)

(PPPS. I probably just got someone pregnant typing that.)

Making

Making – The baby blanket. I’m two repeats in, and I think optimistically it’s going to take 15 repeats for the body, and then I can pick up stitches round my square, and get on with the border.

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Making– it clear that I know that the blanket and the swatch aren’t the same and I there is no reason to panic, that stitch pattern comes later. There is no need to send me 2445 emails telling me that you are very worried that I am making an extremely large mistake that I have not noticed.  (Although I admit that I am completely and totally charmed by them – I can guarantee that one would say “Stephanie, I didn’t want to leave a comment that might embarrass you but I think that you are using the wrong instructions for your blanket – the stitch pattern looks nothing like the swatch. Thought you would want to know before you knit the whole thing.”)

Making: Our own clothes. The sewing thing went pretty well, I made a pair of pants that are exactly what I wanted – after I ripped the seams out 4 times because of a really weird mistake around Imperial measurements (I didn’t convert them, I just guessed what 65″ was (and apparently I have NO IDEA) and compounded by some strange body image thing that didn’t warn me before I put the pants on that they were way too big.

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They are way smaller now. When I get a picture I’ll show you.  We finished shorts for Sam –

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and she’s living in them. It turns out that until she owned Power Ranger shorts, she didn’t know there was a void in her life.

I made a skirt too! (I used this semi-pattern, though I don’t take direction particularly well)

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It’s reversible – the inside is plain green.

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I’m quite happy with it, though it’s a bit big as well. I’ll be moving the buttonhole so I can cinch it a little smaller.

Making: Up my mind that this weekend I need to ride my bike at least 80km. (That’s 50 miles, if you have as much trouble with metric as I do imperial.) I’ve been delaying getting out there as much as I should because I’ve been waiting for better weather (Toronto remains cold and rainy, and a lot of my bike routes are flooded) but while I’ve been waiting the training rides have been getting longer, and now I’m behind and pretty nervous. I rode 65km last weekend, and I’ve been out twice this week on shorter ones, but it’s time to get serious and take my lumps.

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That’s what the weather here looks like for the next week. Hold Team Knit in your heart a little this weekend. We’re going to be wet.

Making – up a list because it’s time for the first round of Karmic Balancing gifts!

First up, the kind folks at Rib Magazine (That’s Eric, Devon and Jennie) will be sending copies of their second issue to five knitters Brenda G, Mary H, Karen F, Melora B, and Kathleen C .

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I’m in love with this magazine, by the way – if their second issue is as good as the first? You’ll love it too. They say “Rib Magazine‘s exciting second issue NAVIGATE is now available. With four garment designs from Irina Anikeeva, Fiona Ellis, Catrina Frost and Annie Lupton, as well as four accessory designs by Benjamin Krudwig, Maria Muscarella, Anca Mustea, and Louise Tilbrook, you’re sure to find something to knit for yourself or the men in your life.”

Helena, Alexa, and Julie; AKA Oink Pigments have this beautiful skein of their brand new Targhee Sock – 100% USA grown, processed, mill spun, & hand dyed blend of 90% Superwash Targhee and 10% Nylon in “Goldfish Bowl” that will be making it’s merry way to  Joanie S.

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Julia at Semi-cool Ceramics (Pop over to that shop, she has some very charming things)  has made a beautiful handmade yarn bowl,

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and I bet she didn’t know it when she made it, but it’s for Emma C.

Lisa T just got lucky – she’ll be choosing a gradient bundle like this one,

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from all the beautiful choices over at Dirty Water DyeWorks.  Thanks for donating that Stephanie, I have no idea how Lisa will choose.

Finally..

Making: Myself late. I gotta get downtown. I’ve emailed everyone who lucked out in the Karma department – and there will be (way) more to come. Thanks to everyone for the amazing donations and the wonderful gifts and you’re all my favourites.

Good News

I know that nobody out there could possibly be as worried about this as I was, but the yarn is here.

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Let the great blanket sprint begin – and yes, I know that swatch is tiny but I say it counts. Casting on in 3-2…. oh, wait. I have to get dinner together first. Oh, and answer that email. I’ll do it right after, crap. I’m due at Meg’s place.

Today. It begins sometime today.

(PS, Thanks for everything on the post before this one, you guys are amazing, and Team Knit is creeping towards its goals. We love you!)

It’s still a thing

A few weeks ago, it was PWA‘s 30th anniversary. This is charity I hold near and dear to my heart, as you’ve probably gathered.  I sit on the steering committee, and I’ve ridden my bike from Toronto to Montreal several years in a row to support them. The Bike Rally (It’s actually The Friends for Life Bike Rally, but we shorten it) is the sustaining fundraiser for this charity – the money we raise provides just about half of their funding each year, which is a rather amazing thing to consider, when you think about the fact that it’s a bunch of regular people getting it done, just because they care.  To celebrate the charity, the Bike Rally organized something we called 30 for 30, and we went and rode on stationary bikes (in shifts) for thirty hours straight, down at City Hall.  It wasn’t meant as a fundraiser – just an opportunity to raise awareness for what we do, and what the charity does – which is provide real, tangible, practical help for people living with HIV/AIDS.  (This help varies – from helping people with money, to providing an essentials market (that’s their dignity based food bank) to helping access medication and services, to haircuts and help with their children when they’re sick, or need to go to the doctor. They also help train medical students, and reduce stigma in the community. It’s important stuff.)

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So we all went down, a bunch of us – and we each did a few hours on bikes, talking to people as they passed by, and suggesting that they consider riding with us – or finding out more about PWA.  Now, Toronto’s a big, busy diverse city – and if you’re going to hang out in front of City Hall for 30 straight hours, you’re going to meet all sorts of people – and we did. There were people interested in riding, people to cheer us on, City Councillors looking to know more. and even a few people who will end up accessing services through PWA. I want to talk about one particular moment though – one person I met.

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I was spinning on the bike (well, and knitting, let’s be honest here) when a gentleman approached me, and asked what we were doing. I told him, giving him a pretty standard set of lines, and at some point he stopped me and he looked at me, and he said “Wait – People with AIDS?”

Now, there is still a lot of stigma out there. People still have all sorts of crazy ideas about HIV/AIDS, and some of them are pretty negative. A lot of people still think it’s a virus that only gay men get, or that you’ve got to be pretty stupid to get it, or that it’s a punishment, or… well. You get the idea. I braced myself, ready to counter whatever he came up with, or, I thought I was ready, but what he said just about knocked me off my bike.

“Hold on,” he said, and paused, looking sort of shocked… “Are there still people with AIDS around? I mean… ” and here he paused again, and looked around like he expected them to be descending upon him… “Is that still a thing?”

I got a hold of myself quickly, and I explained nicely that it was indeed,  still a thing, and that there were still people with AIDS around, and gave him a couple of facts, and off he went, as surprised as he could be. I rode my bike for another few hours, thinking about that, and wondering how any right minded person could feel the way that this guy did, and then I came home and I had a conversation with a friend about how wild and crazy that was. How could he feel that way? How was that possible?  My friend is a thoughtful person, and very clever and good with people and they were far, far more forgiving and understanding than I am, and they made some really good points in the guys defence.

My friend noted (correctly) that this is a cause that’s been downgraded. There are excellent drugs now, and people with HIV/AIDS are no longer receiving a death sentence with their diagnosis – provided they have access to that care.  It still claims lives, probably more than most people think, but for the most part, with good management, people live a long time. That makes this all seem less important, my friend stressed. It no longer seems like a crisis, and nobody understands how we got here, what’s still going on, and what it takes to make it this way.

They were right. Years ago, this was an easy cause to get attention for. The situation demanded attention – the depth of the crisis couldn’t be ignored, it was everywhere. The response was terrific. Drugs were developed, systems of support put in place, education programs begun, a lot of people worked hard to reduce ignorance and stigma around it, and organizations like PWA were at the forefront. In many ways, this all worked, and did a lot of good. That’s how we got where we are now – which is a place where an ordinary person could think “AIDS? Is that still a thing?”

rideintherain 2017-05-22

(Ken and me yesterday, completing about 60km. In the everlasting rain.)

The problem is this – now it doesn’t seem important, it all seems like maybe it’s coming together and it’s going go be okay (as long as we don’t look at Africa or other places where people don’t have access to this stuff, because things definitely aren’t okay there) and now the natural response is to cut funding, quit supporting these programs and charities, and dust off our hands and say “Thank goodness we got that under control” without stopping to think that these programs we’re all backing away from? They’re the things keeping this okay. They’re the things saving lives. They’re the thin barrier standing between the way things are now and the way things used to be. The virus has not changed. It is as dangerous as ever – only the forces allied against it hold our gains.

We see this everywhere. Funding cuts, cuts to education, drops in fundraising… even the Bike Rally was smaller and raised less money last year – and yeah – that resulted in cuts in personnel and programs at the agency. There’s less help now. Less access to the things that save lives now, and fewer people trying to make things better. That would mean we’re going to go backwards, and the crisis is still there – it just has a very good bandaid on it, and that bandaid is threatened.

This is heartbreaking for me.  I know several people who are HIV+, and I bet you do too, whether you know it or not. (For lots of reasons, we still live in a world where there’s so much stigma around this that a very many people choose not to disclose their status.) I don’t like it- I don’t like what this trend means for their health and lifetime of well-being, and I don’t like what it says about our culture, and so.. this is all a long way around saying that Team Knit (despite 4/5 of us being rather desperately middle-aged) is getting on their bikes again this year, fundraising again this year, and that we would really, really like your help making the magic happen again, if it’s possible for you to do it.

Team Knit is:

Me

Ken

Cameron

Pato

Jen

That means that in 9 weeks and 5 days (yikes) we’ll get on our bikes, and ride about 660km from Toronto to Montreal. (For my American friends, that’s about 410 miles.) We’ll give up our weekends and some of our weekdays between now and then to train, we’ll dedicate hours to fundraising, and that’s how a week of holidays will be spent. We’re trying to make the world a place we like better, and sturdy up that bandaid.

Our decision to ride our bikes to Montreal helps nobody, and makes no difference, not without you – as a matter of fact, you’re the important part.  Once again, I’m going to try and raise a ton of money, and like last year, I have a private and deeply personal crazy-pants goal. To this end, I’m going to do things the same way as last year, because knitters, you were amazing.  We’re going to do Karmic Balancing gifts again. Once a week (or so- maybe a little more or less) between now and the Rally, I’ll choose from amongst the people who’ve helped and redirect a knitterly (or spinnerly) gift from someone else who wants to help.*

It’s going to be all about the Karma – just like we try to make it every year. We’re trying to change lives here, make things better for some people, and there’s so much more to that than money, so, here’s the thing. If you donate to anyone on our little family team then please send me an email letting me know you’ve done so. Make the subject line “I helped” and send it to stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca. (Note the .ca it’s a Canada thing.) Include your name, address, and whether or not you spin.  (For the love of all things woolly, please use the subject line. It makes your email go to a specific folder and you have no idea what a difference that makes to my sanity.) You don’t need to say what you gave, or include proof. I know you’ll do your best, whatever that is, and I know you wouldn’t lie.

Now, we know not everyone has money to help with – so we’re taking all kinds of help.  If you can figure out some other way to do that, that counts.  Maybe you can tell a friend. Maybe you can post about it to social media. Maybe you can forward the email to people in your family who will give…  There’s lots and lots of ways to help, and if you can figure out a way? Send that email, letting me know you did. No money needed. (Of course, money is always good too, and even small gifts make a big difference.)

Knitters, lets go big. Let’s fill up the world with amazing, and when everyone at PWA asks who these people are, like they always do?  Ken, Pato, Cameron, Jen and I will smile and say what we always do. “They’re knitters. We keep telling you that they’re awesome.”

*If you want to contribute a gift, I’m trying to make it easy -It’s a ton of work, and I don’t mind doing it, but I have a better shot at getting it all done if you do this: Take a picture of your gift. Email me with the subject line “Karmic Balancing” with the details, picture and a link, if you want me to use one. When one of the helpers is chosen for a gift, I’ll email you the address, and you can ship it right to them. (It’s not a bad idea to let me know if you have shipping restrictions –  I’ll keep track.) I’ll try to get through them all, though it can be overwhelming. Thank you!

Now, please find attached a completely gratuitous baby picture, because sometimes when I’m riding my bike it helps to think of someone I’m trying to change the world for, and it can’t hurt you either.

Joeandelliot 2017-05-22