I am doing that thing forever now

It is 5:30am as I type this, and it is my least favourite time of day to be writing anything.  I most certainly a night owl, and I think that (planes excepted) if I’ve been up at 5:30 in the morning it’s almost always been because I’m at it from the other side. (We pause here to remember the bleak years when I had toddler who loved to get up early and I’d stagger through those coffee laced early mornings wondering about the cruelty of landing someone who loved to get up before dawn on a mother who loved to stay up until then.) I have neither a toddler nor a plane today, and this early morning is brought to you courtesy of the nasty virus I’ve been down (or up) with for a few days. I’ve been sitting here typing for a while and just deleted absolutely everything because being sick always makes me so miserable that it was really just a whole page of whinging about it. It’s out of my system now, I think.

The last several days I have got absolutely nothing done, barring a whatever I could knit while lying on the chesterfield or in bed buried under a mountain of blankets and tissues. Today- except for the cough that’s got me awake, I think I’m recovering and I’m pretty sure I’ll feel loads better as the day goes on.  Knitters, my sweets, I have never, ever been more grateful for the Christmas Spreadsheet System™. (It is not actually trademarked but after this week I’m considering it.)

(Photo from Vancouver Island last week – the sun doesn’t get very high in Canada in the winter, I took that picture at about 2:30 in the afternoon.)

I started organizing the crap out of Christmas several years ago, and it’s made me so much happier and more relaxed through the holidays that I can’t even tell you. Every couple of years I make a spectacular error that makes me unhappy and not relaxed, and I make a change to the way I do this thing. For example, a few years ago I agreed to go on a family trip right before Christmas, and that trip was a crazy error. We got home on the 21st of December, which during the planning phase had seemed really reasonable but the lived experience of the thing was me crying on the 24th while trying to figure out where the (*&^% the wrapping paper was and making cookies at 2am. Uncool.

This year, when Joe (who has an odd love of taking trips right before Christmas, something I can’t relate to and suspect is related to our relative levels of Holiday Responsibility) suggested a trip that would take us out of town to see his west coast family from the 16th to the 20th (technically the 21st because he inexplicably booked us a flight that got in at 2am) I said… well.  I said no, but with a lot more words and emphasis. He convinced me though, and so I made a change to the spreadsheet. For this to work, everything had to be done by the 16th. All of it, except for the knitting. (Note to self: may adjust this next year.) Even Joe’s stuff had to be done, because one of the absolutely horrible things about the first year we went away was that I had a lot done, but Joe didn’t and he was driving around trying to finish his old list while I was trying to give him the emergent list. He was useless to me and the whole thing degraded into me bitterly shopping for groceries (which is totally his job) and trying to find 5×7 frames and fresh sage while rethinking the permanence of our union.

So, this year, if he wanted to go away, things had to be different, and it was. We busted a move and got it all done (except for the knitting) and a few stocking stuffers and all the wrapping was done (except for the knitting.) We had a lovely trip, and all was well until I got the plague.

(PS I got the cookies done too.)

Let me tell you this – if I didn’t have that spreadsheet, this  holiday would be a screaming dumpster fire right now. Instead, the worst thing that has happened is that I missed a family event and had to cancel our solstice party, and I am now officially behind on the knitting, since I slept through a bunch of my intended knitting time.  (I am not so worried about this. I have missed knitting deadlines before and despite how it felt, it wasn’t actually fatal to anyone.) I was horizontal for three days (and I am not so sure I am up now) and I didn’t have to compound how crappy I felt by feeling terrible about the things that weren’t getting done, and if it really needed doing and I couldn’t do it, it was easy to give other people jobs off the spreadsheet.

(Almost everything in that picture is done now. Sort of.)

Sure, the house isn’t as tidy as it was (and it is sort of sticky in spots) and I’ve scaled back a couple of missions that I thought would be fun, and now we’re celebrating the solstice in the new year, but this thing is still going to go off. Joe has his grocery list (from the spreadsheet) there are a few tasks left (I have to wrap knitting) and there’s tons of cooking yet to do, but my girls will all be here soon, and from there many hands will make for light work.

In a lot of ways I am glad I got sick this year. (That is an absolutely reeking lie but I am trying to look on the bright side.) It reaffirmed my love and purpose for my Christmas Spreadsheet System™, made dumping paint down the stairs not seem like a huge problem after all, and further clarified for me what’s important to me about the holidays.  I am not sad about the tasks that didn’t get done (or that the stairs didn’t get a second coat of paint) but I am sad about the time I missed with my family – and it’s going to make being with them over the next few days even nicer.

From us to you, a the happiest of holidays, and I hope you don’t get the flu, but if you do, I hope you have a spreadsheet. See you on the other side.

Drinking Coffee

Thank you, dear ones, for the sympathy on the last post, both here and on Instagram. I’m happily out the other side of disaster today, or at least out the other side of spectacular disaster and back to the regular Christmas kind, which suddenly seems like no big deal.

When last we saw our heroine, she was walking down over the stairs in her underpants, through what was practically a wading pool of paint, trying to figure out where you even start with something like that. As I tracked paint inevitably through the house, making things worse by the second, I came up with a plan. I am ridiculously proud of this. Considering how big that disaster was, I came back from the edge really, really quickly. There was four minutes of violent swearing, three minutes of crying, and then… then I got it together.  Step one, I scraped off as much of the paint as I could, and got the clothing, coats, etc that had been spattered into the wash. (This did not work, but it turns out that rubbing alcohol removes paint – sort of, so there were hours of scrubbing later, but I managed to rescue my ski jacket and Joe’s sweater. My jeans and the handknit socks I was wearing didn’t make it.) I used a piece of cardboard to get what I could off the stairs, and then wiped off anything else I could.  Then I left it to dry.

The next morning, things still looked pretty bad, but at least I knew where to go with it.  I painted one side of the stairs –

and then 24 hours later, the other, so that I could still go up and down them, while I tried to do all the other million things I do before the gingerbread party. (Like make Gingerbread.) In between I wrapped presents, cooked for 50, finished the cleaning and scrubbed clothing with rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush.  The day of the party, the stairs looked like this.

We still have to repaint – they’ve only got one coat on them and look terrible in real life, and while I repainted the trim and touched up the walls, that needs proper handling too. All I really managed to do was take it from shocking to bad, and that’s enough for this time of year, I think, especially since it’s only light for a few hours a day, and the rest of the time… well, everything looks better by candlelight.

In the meantime, the Christmas crafting rolled to a virtual stop. I got a little bit done each day, but the morning of the party the pile looked like this-

I’m farther on one of the socks, the sweater is the same,  I fixed the mittens but have two pairs to go… I’d show you what it looked like after the party, but I let this happen to the table.

I spent yesterday chipping all that icing off of every surface of the house (briefly astonished that there was even icing on the stairs, haven’t they been through enough?) and last night I packed up to go. Joe and I are on a plane as I write this, about to take off for BC. We’ll visit friends and family for a few days, and then head back home. The next few days are prime knitting days, and I have brought with me all of the stuff I need to finish two pairs of socks, begin and finish two pairs of mittens, and knit the sleeves and yoke of a small sweater. In my heart, I believe that in four days, I am coming home with all of this done, ready to apply myself to the few remaining Christmas tasks.*

This is, of course, not possible – not really. In reality, it’s going to be a miracle if I finish any of those things now that I’ve spent days mopping up paint, but hope springs eternal, and there is a long flight in my future, and that makes this amount of knitting a terrible and tantalizing thing. It makes it almost possible, and that… that I can’t give up on.

*Through the miracle of caffeine, the shopping and wrapping is all done. I have no idea how I managed it.

I think they spell it hubris

All week long I’ve been kicking arse and taking names in the Christmas department. Knitters, I am so on it that I’ve impressed even myself. I went the mall, I’ve got the house coming together, the shopping is almost done and I’ve been plowing through the knitting in a way that makes it all seem possible. Sure, the house is kinda trashed, but it’s that kind of trashed that’s like cleaning a closet, things are only this bad because they’re about to be much, much better – or at least that’s what I’m telling myself every time it threatens to overwhelm.  Yes, there’s wrapping paper everywhere, but that’s because so much is wrapped. Sure, there’s knitting on every surface, but that’s because I’m working on so much of it. Agreed, that bedroom looks like Santa’s workshop exploded into an elf rave that went on for days – but… well. I have to clean that up for sure, but really, things are coming together. They really, really are.  That’s what I was telling myself yesterday morning when I made my to-do list for the day and consulted the schedule that has a bow on this Christmas by the time Joe gets off a plane tonight.  (Mostly.) I’ve been motivated by how great it’s going to feel to be relaxed and prepared this holiday, and how effortlessly I’m going to slide from event to event, and how Joe’s to-do list is going to be so short that it’s a gift to him in itself.

To pull this off, you understand, things need to be pretty seamless. There’s not a lot of room for error in this scene, and I need to stay right on track. That’s why it was more than a little gutting yesterday when I realized that yes, I was almost finished a pair of mittens, right on schedule, but that they were both right mittens.

I bounced back. ripping the work back, mentally revising the plan and trying to laugh at myself for such a rookie move. I got the work back on the needles, gave up knitting for the moment, and got the day’s shopping done. Then I went upstairs to clean the bathroom. That went super well, it didn’t need much, and I decided that since I’ll have a whole houseful of guests on Saturday and I had an extra 5 minutes, I’d touch up a place where the paint in the bathroom needs it.  I popped to the basement, got the can of paint I’d bought for just this purpose, fetched a paintbrush, opened the paint and trudged back up the stairs to do a two minute paint job. I believe that as I went up the stairs, I even congratulated myself on finding the time to do an extra credit project, and smiled, thinking about how impressed Joe was going to be. We’ve been talking about fixing that paint for months.

At the top of the stairs… I, I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it. I put my foot on the top step, I remember that. I turned to go into the bathroom, that much is clear… and then…. I let go of the can of paint. It slipped right out of my hand, and the whole world suddenly slowed down, like I was in a movie.  The can hit the floor at the top of the stairs and for a moment I thought it might be okay, I thought it might just land on its bottom, but as I watched it tipped over – not onto the floor, but towards the stairs. I grabbed for it, desperate to prevent disaster, but it was too late. As I watched, the can bounced off the edge and downward into history.

I do not have time to use all the words to explain to you how I felt when it was over. First there was shock, then I became…let’s call it “understandably upset”.  I couldn’t even figure out what to do next. The paint was everywhere.  It was not just on the steps, it was on the floor, the wall, the wall opposite the stairs (?) the newel post, the ballusters, the carpet at the bottom of the stairs, my bike – Elliot’s ball (I guess I should put that away) it spattered the coats hanging on the newel post – my ski jacket, Joe’s favourite old man sweater, it’s all over my knitting bag.  It’s like a crime scene.   I stripped off my pants (paint spattered) and socks (handknit, now ruined) and realized that everything I could possibly use to clean this up (what the hell was I going to use to clean this up?) was downstairs, on the other side of that disaster.  I took that picture (once a blogger always a blogger) and then started to cry as I walked down the stairs through the paint, in my underpants.

Today I’m going to try and bounce back, but boy, was I right. Joe is going to be SO impressed.

Checking it Twice

Joe is still away – and that means I am still whipping through the Christmas preparations, unencumbered by the burden of consultation, regular meals or conversation. The yarn pile looks quite a bit better – Here’s where I was on Friday-

and here’s where I am today.

I know it’s not super impressive, but some of the weaving is done, and more than that, I managed to figure the warp math so that might need a lot less than I thought originally, which might mean I’m halfway there on that, I’ll see later.  I still have to cut and sew the cloth, but I’ll wait until it’s all woven.  The stocking is no longer in the pile, it’s finished and wrapped. The second sock of the first pair is started, and I’ve started the first sock of the second pair too.  3/4 pom-poms are made (one not pictured) and I have to solve a yarn problem before I go any farther than that. I’ve got 1/6 mittens almost done, and all the rest of that yarn is wound – not that it helps much, but at least it makes me look more ready. No progress on the small sweaters or the ornament, but I thought about them a lot.

Since my goal is to get everything (except the knitting) finished by Saturday, I’ve been prioritizing other stuff – I can keep knitting after that.  I’m only a day away from having the house “Christmas Clean” though I’m sure it will get absolutely trashed on Saturday – and I’ve started the wrapping, and set a menu for Saturday, and plotted a path to success.  It’s starting to involve warping the time-space continuum a little bit, but only a little.

It all hinges on today though – today must be executed to perfection or all hope dies here. Today I’m going to drive our car (be impressed, I only do it about 5 times a year) and I am going to go to the mall. I hate the mall, everything about it makes me wild, but once a year I have to concede that it’s the best way to get a lot done in a single day, and off I go.  I have planned what I think is the best day to go – I feel like Tuesday should be the quietest day, and I’m going in the daytime- I’ll avoid everyone who’s eager enough to go on a Monday and stay right away from everyone desperate to do it before a weekend, and that should leave me jockeying for space with only those also smart enough to show up on a Tuesday who can also go during the daytime, and I feel like I can deal with that.  I have a plan (a really good one) and it is written down with a list of all the things that I need, and what stores they should come from, and I have looked at the mall map, and know what my route through the place will be. I know where I will park, and I have a timeline.  If all goes well today – if it all falls into place according to plan, with my wool as my witness, I will not shop again this year.*

Wish me well, my friends, and if I don’t come back, know that I loved you all, and ask Jen to divide the stash as fairly as she can.

 

*Except for yarn which is fine. 

Making a list

I think it’s time to settle into the reality of what’s happening here.  The tree has been up for a week and we’ve transitioned into full-on Christmas breakfasts around here which you would think should have installed a full-on sense of panic in me about getting ready, but it has not.

(Elliot is seen here eating Santa Strawberries and Snowman Pancakes and wearing Santa jammies after his first sleepover here last night, and It went great, thanks for asking. He slept between us in a deep cuddle, and we were prepared to run him home at the first sign of trouble- I think Joe slept with his car key on the bedside table. Ellie did really, really well. Meg and Alex thought he was ready and I’m glad we trusted their judgment – we all had a great time.)

I’ve been plugging away, getting organized and getting ready and consulting the spreadsheet, but in a really relaxed way.  I went to River City Yarns to work for a few days (what a great shop and such a fabulous team) and felt like (despite full days) that I’d have tons of time to knit.  I felt so good about it actually, that when Joe suggested that if I was going to be in Alberta anyway, maybe we should grab a quick ski- that seemed totally reasonable too, after all, I’d have lots of time to knit. I did find time to knit in both places and I came home inexplicably feeling like there was heaps of time to get Christmas together, and then something about the day before yesterday got to me.

Joe came home from work on Wednesday and told me that he needed to go to Calgary for work on Friday (that’s Alberta again) and asked if I wanted to come along for a ski. I flipped open my calendar and super casually said “let me just check…” and suddenly, I got it. I looked at the date, I looked at the date on Friday, I looked at the date we’d be back and I… I got it.  There, in the shadow of the Christmas tree, with four days of my yarn-ish advent calendar open, with the smell of balsam fir wafting through the air, having already attended two parties and noted that my evening walks are snowy and lit by pretty lights all around me… I GOT IT.

“Dude, I can’t go anywhere” I told him, and what I meant was that I can’t go anywhere that isn’t going to help me make a Christmas, and skiing is not that thing. (I saw him open his mouth to say something about how much knitting I can get done on a flight, but we are so far past that – I think he saw something in my eyes and stowed it. If you were a witness to this marriage, I promise that you would be stunned at how often Joe saves his own life based on a glance I give him without really any sense of what’s going on. It’s an instinct.) I thought about it for a few minutes and then came up with a plan.  “You go.” I told him, and opened the spreadsheet. *

Joe is leaving in an hour and he’ll be gone for five days. Our annual Gingerbread Party is in 13 days. I get back on a plane in 15 days, and I won’t be home until the 20th (although there will be lots of time to knit on the flight.) The way I see it,  I need to have this whole thing wrapped up (literally) except for a little bit of knitting (for the flights) before I hit the road on the 16th or my whole world will be regret and I will guarantee myself no damned fun this Christmas at all. I can tell you (or the family can) that if I’m not having fun, ain’t nobody going to have fun, so today has been all about the spreadsheet of Christmas power, a series of lists, a plan divided by zone, stores and tasks, and a huge pile of yarn.

Yeah. That’s my yarn plan. That there is roughly three pairs of mittens, two pairs of socks (one started.) A small sweater (half done.) A stocking (half done.) One ornament (not started.) Four towels (that’s weaving, it’s fast don’t panic.) Not pictured, one optional sweater which is my last priority because it’s very small and the recipient isn’t even born yet and couldn’t care less, and four pom-poms, for which I do not have yarn. (Don’t ask.)

I know, that’s a big pile of yarn, but somehow it seems manageable to me – and actually like the least of my problems- Christmas wise.  I’m going to spend the next five days shopping, wrapping, cleaning, knitting and weaving and I think… I think I might have woken up just in time. Maybe.

Knitters. it’s go time.

*This is like the Hunger Games.  I volunteer as tribute.

(Also, like in many good rescue missions, I think I’ll be faster if I go alone.)

(Also I will have a list for him to do when he comes back, don’t you worry.)

Exactly Yarned

On Wednesday, after I got out of bed at 4am to go to the airport for the of three planes (plus two cars and a ferry) to take me to Port Ludlow (I really need a new travel agent. At present it’s me, and it turns out that consistently the thrifty Stephanie who books the flights has an almost boundless amount of confidence in the Stephanie who has to execute those flights) I stood in my living room drinking a huge cup of coffee and looked at the pile of knitting I’d amassed for the week, and tried to decide what to take and where to pack it.

On the top of the pile was the Tool Box Cowl I’ve been working on – not much left on that I thought, so I moved it to my carry on. I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to be enough – it was more than half finished of course, so I added the Jilly Mittens, though I almost had one of those finished and they’re really fast and… I moved another cowl to my bag. I sipped coffee and surveyed that. Three flights, two short layovers… a car ride on the other end, that should be enough, I thought.  I added the yarn and needles for the November Socks to my checked bag – all that, I thought, had to hold me for a week (considering that I was planning on buying more yarn at the marketplace) and two cowls and a pair of mittens would definitely do for the travel day, for sure.  I zipped shut my suitcase, moved my carry-on to the door and perched my passport on top, and went to get a bit lot more coffee.  While I poured it, I checked the weather – it was fine.  It was fine in Toronto, fine in Calgary, fine in Vancouver and fine in Seattle.  As I checked for potential delays, I started to imagine more.  A cancelled flight? Lost luggage? What if Debbi’s car broke down on the other side, or what if the way we struggle with the Ferry schedule was suddenly insurmountable? What if I have to spend the night in the airport? For what reason I couldn’t imagine, but what if? You can see how this ends, and two minutes later I was frantically winding yarn for another project and stuffing that in my bag too so that if I ended up living in an Airport for days I’d be just fine.

I got on the plane with all this-

Which actually wasn’t enough to manage days in an airport but was about all I could fit in a carry on, and enough that my seat-mate definitely made up his mind about me when I took that picture, and I cemented it when I returned his stare and said, as boldly as I could manage, “I knit.”

I did not spend the night in an airport, and I didn’t finish all that on the way, and it was more than enough for another whole travel day home, which means it was exactly twice what I needed, which seems about right.  Details? Glad you asked.

Pattern: Tool Box Cowl. Yarn: Raveling Rose recycled cashmere – 6 mini skeins.

An invented cowl, cast on some and used up all the leftovers from this one. It’s about half the size of the first one, and just right as a cozy little tuck in.

Pattern, Jilly Mitts. Yarn: Jilly and Kiddles Aurora in Raven. (The yarn’s hard to photograph, it’s darker than it looks in those pictures.  All the snow outside kept throwing it off. Yeah.  Snow.  Sigh.)

Pattern: Silhouette and Sky.  Yarn: Gauge Dye Works club yarn.

That’s a considerable dent in the WIP pile to be sure, but don’t worry, I have lots more – and another set of flights coming up.  I’ll be in Edmonton next week- if you’d care to join me, I’ll be teaching at River City Yarns on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of November. (I love Cynthia and Barb and their podcast) and here’s a link to the workshops if you want to come.  I’d love to see you.

Same old, same old

Voila, finished Jaywalkers.  My October Self-Imposed-Sock-of-the-Month-Club, which brings me smartly up to date.

Yarn: Must Stash Yarn in a one-off colorway called “Bete” that’s almost like her Beauty and Beast skeins, but with one missing set of stripes, which I quite like.

Pattern is the much loved and oft-knit Jaywalkers, by the inestimable Grumperina, who is still around, thank you very much, despite this being a pattern from 2005.  I knit them as written, and they fit just fine – not me, mind you – they’re way too big for my petit pieds, but they’re for the (not so) long-range-planning-box, so all is well, even if they do look a little sloppy on me. They won’t when they’re on the feet they were knit for.

I don’t have much else to say about them, except that it remains, as ever, almost damn impossible to take pictures of your own feet –

even with a timer.

 

Timeline

Recently, I was reading something about why it is that time seems to speed up as you get older. I remember reading one explanation a few years ago (here it is) that essentially said that this is a real phenomenon, and that (to sum up) it is because we’re not laying down a lot of new stuff.  Apparently while your brain is encoding novel memories, time appears to slow down – imagine your mental CPU is overtaxed, and so moves less quickly while that gets done. As we age we (apparently) experience less novelty, the CPU is less challenged and whoosh, past she goes. This does not sound correct to me, but I checked around and perhaps it is my own sense that my life is plenty novel enough (thank you very much) that makes me want to argue with the worlds greatest minds in the neurology department, but I do.  I read another argument that said that at least part of the sense that time’s picked up the pace comes from the comparative size of the units of time that are passing. When you’re five, a year passing is a fifth of your life, a chunk of time with far more gravity than what a year is to me now, apparently a whole year careens past – barely registering as a 1/50th of my total experience.

None of that entirely explains how it is that I blinked and found myself thinking “must get to the beach one day this summer” as snow started to fall. Pro-tip, apparently it’s November. Pretty soon we’ll have to have an awkward conversation about how many knitting days are left until Christmas (that would be 51) but for now let’s talk about what happened while that time passed, shall we?

Since we spoke last (I know we don’t really speak, but doesn’t it feel like it?) I have been in three countries – Canada, the US and Mexico, and I have knit lots. Enough actually that I am just a few hours from finishing another Toolbox Cowl knit from Raveling Rose‘s little mini-skeins or recycled cashmere. (To be sure, I’m mostly knitting this so that I can buy more this coming weekend without guilt* though this little pattern is always fun and the perfect thing to do with those mini-skeins that seem to breed like tribbles around here.)

I am up to date on my Self-Imposed-Sock-of-the-Month-Club. After an absolutely dismal showing in August (I finished the August Socks right at the end of September) I was determined to recover, and things looked sketchy for the September socks for a while there too, but last week I pulled it all together and finished those,  and then the October socks came together really quickly -as we speak they’re drying upstairs – I’ll show you tomorrow. The August socks are from my much loved Gauge Dye Works club, the Sun and Moon socks from Andrea Rangel.

The  yarn came as one skein that had a fade from light blue to dark, then a yellow chunk, then a fade from dark blue to light – I think. I can’t remember exactly the order of things from back when I was winding it, the important thing is that it was one skein that you had to wind off and cut into it’s separate elements.  This is fun – though I can’t explain why.

I chose the almost-largest size for these, because I wanted to use as much of the delicious yarn as possible.  That patterned top to the sock looks narrow when it’s off a leg, but is deliciously stretchy when on.

(Thanks to my mother-in-law Carol for being sock model. I appreciate it, especially since I ripped them off her feet for someone else after she did me the favour.)

I’m back into the stash today – the November socks are going on the needles on November 4th, and I don’t feel like that’s too terrible at all, assuming I don’t wake up tomorrow and discover that it’s December 15th.

*You too can buy Raveling Rose recycled cashemere this weekend, along with a few other lovely things, at our Strung Along marketplace at the resort at Port Ludlow. It’s tiny but fun and the space is free for locals and students to vend.  Saturday from 7:30- 8:30. (Trust us, that’s enough time – though nobody is going home if you’re still buying.)

Also – on the off chance that anyone here is in the right part of the world – we’ve got a few spaces left in our workshops this coming Friday. We have just two spots for Judith MacKenzie’s class for people who would like to learn to spin – or would like to go back to basics to refine their technique. (We can loan you a wheel if you don’t have one, and can you imagine learning from someone better than Judith?)  Together with Debbi I’ll be teaching a “What the heck do I do with this” rigid heddle loom class. You bring the loom, and we’ll teach you to warp, weave and finish a scarf- in a day. (Weaving is fast and eats 2 balls of yarn a day. Just think about what that does to your stash and holiday list.)

Both classes are at the Resort at Port Ludlow from 9-4, and both cost $240, and both include a yummy lunch.  It’s a nice way to start your weekend and get a taste of what our retreats are like. If you’d like to join us, email us at info@strungalong.ca, and we’ll get you set up.

If you ever doubted

When I headed out the door for Rhinebeck last Thursday, things were tense with the sweaters though I felt pretty hopeful. I was pretty sure I could finish, but I’d also made a commitment to myself to remember that knitting is fun, and Rhinebeck is fun and not to let anything get too crazy in the knitting department.  Turns out that there’s a wide range of what’s considered crazy though, and while I think that trying on an unfinished sweater in an airport lounge bathroom is pretty normal, I could tell that this wasn’t the prevailing attitude in that facility, though as a rule I’m pretty poorly understood as an artist, so that didn’t bother me much.

Neither did asking Kellee to put all our luggage in the backseat so we could block the Must Have Cardi as we drove…

as a matter of fact, I think it was her idea.

I rolled into Rhinebeck eve with two finished (but wet) sweaters, and they both dried by morning and do you know? That made two sweaters in eighteen days not as nearly dramatic and insane as I thought it would be. I did have to set aside other knitting and display a kind of knitterly monogamy that’s not really me, but still – look at this.

Sweater: The Must Have Cardigan.  I love this pattern, and knit it as written, with only two changes. I made it a little longer (because despite being rather on the short side, I still don’t really like a cropped sweater) and even though the pattern says to just hold the stitches for the back neck button band, I tried that last time and it was too stretchy.  This time I cast off and then picked the stitches back up again, and I am much happier with that.  Yarn: the very sadly discontinued Blackwater Abbey.

Sweater: Remi – oh do I love this, and I’m not alone. Two of my Rhinebeck friends said that this was their favourite, of all of the Rhinebeck sweaters I’ve ever knit, and I don’t know if I’d go that far, but mercy do I think it looks sharp. Yarn: Wingenhooven DK in Revival.

Good looking sweater, am I right? I’ve never thought that circular yoke sweaters suit me (in fact I’ve always thought that since I have shoulders like a quarterback, it isn’t really a good look for me) but I think maybe I was wrong.  It looks just fine, and I am going to wear the heck out of it.

I won’t be wearing the heck out of it over the next several days, because 36 hours after landing from Rhinebeck I got on a plane with Joe and headed out to visit his parents in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico, and the weather here-  while well suited to my nature, is not exactly the sort of place you’d wear a wool/silk/yak sweater.  In fact, it might be dangerous.

More tomorrow – though my office couldn’t be nicer today, I’m going for a walk. Extreme sweater knitter, out.

Technically not sweaters

Ok, I can admit it. There is a tiny, little, itsy-bitsy chance that I overshot a little on this plan.  I can say that because I’m supposed to get on a plane for Rhinebeck in the morning, and I am not finished two sweaters. I’m actually not even finished one sweater, though it’s a near thing.  Here’s where I am.

That’s the Must Have.  It is very nearly a sweater, if by almost a sweater you understand that I can’t wear it like a sweater although it very nearly almost has all the parts that you need for something to be a sweater, if they were joined together, which they are not. I am super close to finishing the button band (I cannot be the only person who perpetually underestimates the amount of knitting in a button band) in fact – it’s half cast off. (Almost.) I’ve got to sew the whole thing together, maybe tonight, and then sew on the buttons and then it just needs a quick blocking. I’ve blocked the pieces already, so it’s really just a quick bit of tidy up after it’s sewn together.  I think steaming will work, just this once.

This is a different problem – Remi is still mostly armless. The sleeves are only 3/4 length, and I have knit about 10cm of one, and I do have to fly tomorrow and then there’s tomorrow evening and then, well, yes, it needs to be completely blocked but doesn’t it seem doable? Doesn’t it? (She says, in a slightly shrill manner, with a hint of hysteria sneaking in around the edges.)

I’d actually think that this was all completely doable if I’d done anything else today, like pack, or wash the clothes I’d like to pack, or gone to the store to get the things I need to pack, or if I’d cleaned up the kitchen, or if roughly 3394 emails weren’t in my inbox waiting for me to finish answering them, or if I didn’t have a meeting this evening that I don’t think I can sew up sweaters at. (I think I can knit sleeves at it, so maybe all isn’t lost.)

Essentially I’ve worked out that I’m absolutely going to make it as long as someone else comes over here and does the laundry, goes to my meeting for me, and I hire someone else to pack while I sew together a sweater.

The important thing is not to panic early.