Nothing to see here

Well, that sorted itself out rather nicely, didn’t it? I’m not feeling at all doomed at present. (This should be said cheerfully, so that the foreshadowing of another crisis I don’t see coming is as entertaining as possible.) A lovely knitter who had the yarn (Hi Brenda!) has sold me her big fat skein, and it is en route from her house to mine. She got it in the mail straightaway, and I’m still knitting what I’ve got, so unless there’s a customs thing as the yarn tries to cross the border… I should be okay. (We will recall that last time, I believe it was customs that exploded my whole plan, so I think that’s a good sign. Usually it’s a new emergency each time, and I’ve already done that one, so either this will be smooth sailing, or the fates are going to have to start getting really creative.)

I’m charging along at a good pace over here too, I spent the weekend teaching this past weekend at The Stitchery in Rhode Island, and had just the loveliest time, with the bonus of lots of time on planes and in the airport, and now I’ve just about got the middle of the blanket done, which means it’s time to start planning the border.  Someone asked me the other day how much planning of these blankets I do before I start knitting, and the answer is “rather less than you would hope.”  I do knit a swatch, and I do choose the stitch patterns I’m pretty sure I’ll use, or improvise them, if I can’t find what I like, and I do make charts (I use Stitchmastery these days.) I don’t come up with the exact way that those elements are going to go together – that part’s more… let’s call it loose.  When it comes to picking up the stitches all the way around the centre part, I don’t fake it. It’s way too important to get right, so I use the standard formula for figuring out how many to pick up.

I take my (washed and blocked) swatch, and measure my stitch and row gauge.

In this case, I’ve got six stitches to the inch, and 9 rows. To figure out how many stitches I’m going to pick up along the side, I turn that into a fraction (stitches/rows) which is 6/9, and then reduce the fraction, the simplest I can make this one is 2/3. That means that I’ll pick up 2 stitches for every 3 rows. Got it? I know the regular advice is to pick up 3/4 or 4/5 or 2/3, but my stitch and row gauge are different with every blanket and stitch pattern, and so I do the math. I get a much tidier result and it only takes a minute.  Then I give it a go along the side of the swatch to see if it works, before I pick up hundreds of them.**

Lo and behold, it did work.  That’s the perfect ratio, that edge lies there as flat as my first catastrophic go at vegan pancakes.  I don’t need to do any stitches along the cast on and bound off edges, because I’ll pick up stitches at a 1:1 ratio there – like always. (That’s the rule. 1:1 for stitches on top of stitches, and stitches/rows for along the sides.) Sometime when it comes up we’ll talk about what I do with a diagonal, but in the meantime, voila.

This blanket is going just fine.*

**Stop it. Don’t be superstitious.

**Please note that this system, diligently measuring, trying it on the swatch… all of that, is a system that I’ve settled on after a few blankets where I picked up 47465 stitches around the edges of the thing, and then realized after a few heartrendingly long rounds that it wasn’t right, and had to rip the whole thing out amid a flood of tears and whiskey while missing a deadline.  I’m pretty proud that I’ve given up and started doing the swatch and math after only 45 years of knitting, disappointment and sloth.

Slow Learner

I think I was just excited.  That’s the only explanation for where I find myself – a few days after the cast came off, and in some knitting trouble. After struggling with knitting for weeks, and only being able to manage big needles and yarn, not only was I really looking forward to pounding out some fine gauge knits, I was behind on an important project. My niece Savannah’s baby will be here soon, and so of course there should be a blanket – although there has already been a sweater, and as I’ve mentioned, this baby’s Grammy will be my sister-in-law Kelly, who is a fine knitter herself. Care must be taken not to bury this wee one in wool, though we can scarcely contain our excitement.  Not just a new baby, but a fall/winter baby! While the cast was on, I was planning, choosing stitch patterns, and getting yarn together. I went into the stash and flung yarn around with one hand until I came up with this.

It’s gorgeous, and I love it, and I thought to myself that it must be enough wool for a blanket. I mean, it’s a Ton of Wool.  I glanced at the yardage, saw that it had four digits, and felt great about it. (300g/1056 meters) I swatched,

I washed the swatch,

I loved it, I cast on…. I knit.  Now I’m about halfway through the body, the yarn is being eaten up at a shocking rate and it is rather completely clear to me that I don’t have nearly enough of this yarn to do what I want. Wait. Let me type that sentence again so that the problem is clearer.  I don’t have nearly enough of this discontinued yarn to do what I want.

I’m not really, really panic stricken (I mean, this happens with almost every blanket, I’m clearly not bright) because I’m knitting this blanket in the Shetland style, so the body is worked back and forth, the borders are picked up and knit around, and the edging is applied – that means that there’s a few points where I can change colour/yarn if I want to, so it I can see a way out. Still…

Anybody have some of this yarn kicking around?

Cast off

Happily, the title of this post is both a knitting situation, and the current situation of my left hand!

I was at the fracture clinic this afternoon, and the Doctor (who I now find far less annoying than I did a few weeks ago) said that I could do without the cast, and that my hand is now cleared for “light duty”.  I asked a few questions about what that meant, and while there are definitely still some limits, the big things I’ve been missing are back – typing, and KNITTING.

In fact, when I asked him if I could knit (rather “a lot”) he said “please do, as much as you can, it’s good for you.” Knitting is wondrously, finally, as I have always dreamed – doctor’s orders. (We will, for the moment, gloss over the difference between what he surely thinks is a lot of knitting, and what I think is a lot of knitting. I feel like if there were limits he would have said something.) I am going to knit, and type and holy cats I think I will eat something you need a knife and fork to manage, and right after that I’m going to wash my hair with two hands, and then I’m going to tie my shoes. Repeatedly.

This news couldn’t come at a better time, since this morning I got just about to the end of Love and Darkness, and was (really ironically) finding it really difficult to cast off with a cast on.

Cast off!

Let the wild knitting rumpus begin!

I’m going to make it

Sitting across from Jen in the restaurant, she admired the glorious colours of my arm.  The bruising is starting to fade, but still impressive. Then Jen looked at me, leaned back and she asked if I could knit. This is a full week after the accident -I think she was afraid to ask me before that, and I get it, I’m a little edgy. I pulled my knitting out of my bag  (I’m still dutifully carrying it around, though I can only manage a row or two before I get a weird cramp from holding it strangely) and spread it on the table in front of her.

She took it all in. Big needles, big yarn, it’s actually very pretty (pattern – Love and Darkness) and then a look of horror slowly dawned on her face, and she said “Is this it? In a week? Is this all you’ve knit in a week?” I nodded, and Jen slumped back in her chair. “Wow.” She looked at the knitting again. “Two more weeks?”

Two more weeks.  Back at the fracture clinic on Monday, I’d stomped in with an attitude that I’d hoped would be convincing. I’d tried to sit there looking exactly like someone who should have their cast off immediately, and during the x-ray I’d confidently said “I think it’s going to look great.”  When the doctor said that he wanted to leave the cast on two more weeks, I realized my bravado had been a failure.  Two. More. Weeks.

Sigh. On the upside, today I tied my shoes, and figured out I can drive a car.

Two. More. Weeks.

Four Lists

A list of things it is easy to do with only one hand:

  • Drink coffee.
  • Drink wine. (Assuming someone else has opened the bottle for you.)
  • Presumably, drink other beverages, although I have not confirmed this.
  • Eat things that are small.
  • Text – I got Gboard, and in the one-handed mode I can manage just fine.
  • Take pictures of socks you finished right before you went for a bike ride and cast your life into a dark place where you’re making lists about things because you can’t knit socks.

(Pattern, my basic usual from Knitting Rules, with a picot top.  Yarn: MustStash in Practically Perfect.)

A list of things that it is possible to do with one hand if you are willing to be really patient and accept compromises in speed, quality, satisfaction or most likely, a combination of all three.  (Pro-tip, I am bad at those things.)

  • Knit (Who knew? Only on big needles,  with lots of patience, and it’s giving me a tiny weird blister on the front of my left index finger and I’ve got and the speed of a snail, but it can be done and is possibly the only thing keeping me from going on a murderous rampage the likes of which the world has never seen, and instead limiting my frustration to exchanges with my loved ones that are largely just awful. Nobody is going to love me at the end of this, I can tell. Turns out that it takes a lot of knitting to modify what may be a disastrous personality.)

Pattern is Love and Darkness, yarn is Fleece Artist BFL Aran.

  • Clean up. (But you have to carry things one by one and it’s hardly worth it. I’m not doing it again.)
  • Laundry. (If you kick the basket down the stairs, which absolutely works, and is satisfyingly destructive and loud. Our laundry is in the basement, so I get to heave it down two flights.  It’s totally worth picking it all up again.
  • Typing. (As long as you do it in bursts. This post took all day.)
  • Washing your hair. (As long as you do it lying down in the bathtub, and avoid squirting the shampoo in your face. Twice. Don’t bother with conditioner, it’s not worth it.)
  • Hand wind a ball of yarn.

Things that are surprisingly difficult to do with just one hand:

  • Put on jeans or a bra. (Unsurprisingly, I am currently wearing neither, luckily, at least the bra part is not much of a departure.)
  • Pull up underpants. (See above for solution.)
  • Wash my hands.
  • Enter a password on a keyboard
  • Get ice cubes out of a tray.
  • Spin. (Who knew?)
  • Open the ibuprofen
  • Sleep.
  • Not take every single little problem or slight incredibly personally and use it to reach broad, sweeping conclusions about the people who (allegedly) love me.  (This one may possibly be related to the two before it.)

Things that are absolutely (&%$#$%&ing impossible:

  • Chop *&%#ing anything.
  • Open a damn jar.
  • Use a can opener.
  • Put deodorant on my right armpit. (I can’t wash it either. I expect this to present problems longer term.)
  • Use a pepper grinder or a salt mill.
  • Warp a loom. (I really tried.)
  • Open a zip lock bag.
  • Refrain from near constant foul language.
  • Do anything I want to.

That was unexpected

I’ve been dreading these 10 days for a year. I’ve been planning lots of distractions, lots of good things to keep my mind off of all that went on this time last August. I did what I’ve done all year when things were hard – I tried to make good healthy choices designed to generate feelings that would be the opposite of what I expected to feel. If I thought I would be especially lonely, I made plans to have company. If I expected to be sad, I deliberately set about doing things that make me happy. It was a real “fake it until you make it” approach to getting around the things I thought might swamp me with sadness. Distract, divert – deflect.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day that I took my Mum to the hospital and she never came home again. I got up that morning and feeling upset and out of sorts, I decided to go for a long bike ride to clear my mind. It turns out that I like riding my bike. I don’t just do it for the Rally, I do it to be fit, to feel strong, to feel fast. I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but it’s hard to be sad on a bike, so I left the house and set a route that I really love – one that ends with a gorgeous stretch along a trail by a river. I was 25km in, it was a beautiful day, and I was heading for home and cruising along the bike path – not going too fast because it was downhill, and I’m still kind of cautious cyclist. (That’s a lie. I’m a really cautious cyclist.)

That’s when it happened. After 660 km on the Raleigh without so much as a glitch, I was heading downhill and starting a little turn when I hit a small patch of sand. (I even slowed down for it, which in retrospect probably kept things from being much worse.) Suddenly, my bike wouldn’t went sideways under me, and unable to unclip my left foot in time (I did unclip the right, for what seems now to have been no other reason than reflex.)  I let go of my bike  (big mistake) and stretched my hands out to break my fall. (Second mistake.) My hands hit the ground hard, absorbed most of the force,  and then my chin came down and smacked off the asphalt. My phone skittered out of my bra (yes, I keep it there sometimes) and into the bushes, and I lay there for a second, absolutely stunned. There hadn’t even been time to swear – which trust me, I don’t need a lot of time to pull off.

It’s clear to me now that I watched way too much of the Tour de France, because my first thought was getting my bike off the path before someone else came along and ran me or the bike over, and I scrambled up, hauling the bike off me, retrieving my phone (phone’s don’t heal, so I was worried about that before myself) and then I started to take stock. My hand was really banged up and it hurt, but it wasn’t bleeding too badly, so I got out my water bottle and started washing it off – I had time to curse now – and did.  In that moment, I thought I was okay.  It didn’t last. A lady who’d just come around the corner came rushing up to me, asking if I was okay and rubbing me on the back. I said I thought I was, and then she said “oh my God your face.”  I noticed then that some of the blood I was trying to wash off my hand and arm wasn’t coming from the bad scrape on my hand – I’d cut my chin when it banged off the pavement, and it was bleeding badly. “Do you have ice?” she asked me, and I remember thinking “Geez Lady, where would I be keeping that?”

I got my cycling gloves out of my jersey pocket (hadn’t been wearing them, mistake number 3) and used that to put pressure on my chin.  It didn’t really stop bleeding, and the lady was making me feel embarrassed and self-conscious, so I sent her away with assurances that I was just fine. Long story short, I tried to ride my bike home, and with every minute that passed I realized that I needed help. Even if i could make it back to the road, I wasn’t going to feel much like cycling back up the hill to my house. (This, by the way was the first sign that I wasn’t okay, that I thought I could get home by way of bike.) I texted Joe, no answer, then another person or two – also no answer, and then managed to walk my bike back to the road (about 30 minutes) bleeding and feeling more upset and hurt by the moment.

By the time I got to the road, I’d managed to reach Joe and he understood that he had to come get me – by the time he had, I’d realized that I needed the hospital. Joe dropped me off, I went inside and presented myself, still wearing cycling gear (“Cycling accident?” the nurse queried, receiving the stupid question of the day award.) I staggered away from the desk to sit down and wait my turn, and realized a second later, clutching gauze to my chin, with my non-smashed hand, that I was sitting in the exact same seat I had exactly a year before, at just about the same time of day.  The only difference was that my mother wasn’t with me. Distraught, divert, deflect …indeed.

Even longer story short – they glued my chin (it’s a tiny cut, it turns out, just bleeding for the drama of it) and x-rayed my hand, and it looks like a possible scaphoid fracture. Totally common for what they called a FOOSH.  (Fall On Out Stretched Hand.) I’ll be wearing it for at least a week, until a bone scan can reveal if there’s a fracture or not. (Oddly, they have to wait – they’re looking for signs of healing to see if the break is there.) In the meantime, I’m navigating one handed – knitting, but very slowly and awkwardly, with little satisfaction, and typing this pathetically slowly.  (I tried dictation, but it’s like my laptop doesn’t think I speak English.)

I’m okay, but can’t help but wonder what the lesson I’m supposed to be getting is.  Is this the universe’s way of saying you can’t run from your feelings? Am I supposed to be learning to deal with things, rather than trying to distract myself from them? Am I being told to settle down, to let the grief wash over me, to acknowledge that I’m supposed to feel bad, and just … live it? Is this just another phase of the year in which I’m doing a wicked imitation of being a cat toy for some divine joker?

Or maybe, maybe  I simply fell off my bike, and I should have been wearing my gloves.

Peace out. I’ll try and type more tomorrow.

PS. No pictures today. I’ve hit my limit for the number of things I can do with one  *&^%$ing hand.

PPS: I forgot to mention that I’ll be at The Stitchery in Rhode Island on the 14th and 15th of September. With two functioning hands. I’m sure of it.

Postcards

A few weeks ago, friends of ours (we’re having them sainted later this week) offered us use of their cottage up North. We’re not idiots, so we jumped at the chance, and started organizing the family.  It took a lot of doing, but on Friday we caravaned up here in two cars, with Amanda, Sam, Meg (and her sidekick Elliot) and stuffed Penny the dog in for good measure.

We proceeded to have three glorious days with all three of our girls, and we had the best time. Swimming, sunning on the deck, canoeing, playing hours and hours of boardgames and stargazing at night.  (Sam and I saw a meteor that she called “life changing.”) They did each others hair like they were wee again, and took turns setting the table and serving.

It was nothing short of delicious and completely charming.  On Monday afternoon, Sam and Amanda had to go, but we’ve stayed on with Meg and Elliot, revelling in the luxury of being full time grandparents, and (hopefully) giving Meg a vacation of her own.

We’ve had friends to dinner, I accidentally dropped a ball of yarn in the lake (it dried, it was fine) and a huge thunderstorm missed us by an inch. We’ve eaten corn on the cob and we all saw a fox, and Amanda actually spontaneously uttered those epic Canadian words “hold my beer, and watch this.”

I couldn’t ask for anything more, except for longer days, and some extra of them before we need to go home. (Also, if Elliot wasn’t so obsessed with eating books, that would be cool too.)

PS. Happy Birthday, sweet Meggie.  We’ll do it all together when we’re home again.

Getting Lucky

I’m home again, and for the first time since I got here – it’s a day without a deluge. It’s been raining. Not just raining, but pouring – almost since I arrived back, it’s been tipping great gouts of water from the sky. Lashes of rain, flooding, spectacular curtains of water heaping down on the city, and all I’ve been able to think of is how different the Rally would have been if it were this week and not last. It really gives me the willies.

What a different sort of Rally we had this year.  Every year I feel like there’s a theme that develops over the course of the ride. It has been bravery, it has been endurance, it has been loneliness or difficulty, it has been friendship, and even love. It’s become so predictable, this idea that a theme will emerge, that I’ve started to look for it. This year, with my job on the Rally being what it was, I expected that the theme might be responsibility, or care-taking. I thought maybe it would be sacrifice – our time and work for someone else’s need, or good time – sort of like being the host of a really big week long party, metaphorically filling the bowls of chips and worrying about running out of ice.

There was some of that too. Every time I saw an ambulance I worried it was a rider, every time the weather threatened to be too hot or too cold or too wet, I worried it would be crappy for the riders and crew. I was very, very, very worried that something terrible would happen on my watch. There were meetings morning and night, and lots of extra work to be sure, but in the end, I didn’t see the theme coming, and it emerged just the same. It was luck.

I have spent so much of this last year feeling unlucky.  Unlucky that my Mum died the way she did, unlucky that Susan followed her so quickly. Unlucky about the stupid shingles and the way my hair always does that thing. Fill in the blank, and I’ve been feeling unlucky about it.

I have spent great gobs of time reflecting over the last year on the ways that I’ve been lucky too, trying not to sink under the sadness or feelings of poor fortune.  I’ve reminded myself that I have a wonderful family left, that Elliot came at exactly the right time for me to have something joyful to hold on to, that I am beyond blessed to have such good friends, and people around me who care, and that I’ve got friends who might let me sit at the edge of the self-pity pool and dabble my feet for a bit, but won’t let me jump in and swim. I know we are not supposed to talk about this sort of thing, but I have truly struggled for my happiness this last year. Genuine joy, however small, has been fleeting, and difficult to grasp – but this last week I found it again. Every time it didn’t rain. Every time someone wept from happy pride that they were accomplishing all this. Every time we met another fundraising goal, every time someone spoke about the work that PWA does and will do with the money and time we all gave them, every time we reflected on the privilege we have that gives us the time and energy to do something like this… every time we weren’t lost, or poor, or hungry, or sick, I thought “There it is. We are so lucky.”

It was there the very first day, when as we cycled across beautiful Ontario, in the bright sunshine, and I turned to my friends and said “look how lucky we are.” When that night, even though it called for thunderstorms, it just sprinkled, and then there was a rainbow – actually, scratch that. There was a double rainbow.

It rained a little in the night I think, but the tents weren’t even wet in the morning.  One of the days – who knows which one, they’re all a blur – we arrived in camp, Cameron showed me the weather forecast – and it was dire.  Rain, rain, rain – with little respite all night, and even more dumping on us the next day as we rode.  At the time I told him that I was opting out of believing it, that maybe it wouldn’t rain, and he cocked an eyebrow, continued putting a tarp over his stuff, and shook his head a little at my delusion. I knew it was crazy, but I’d long taken things I couldn’t control off my worry list, and the weather was right up there. Ten minutes later it sprinkled again, not even enough to bug anybody, and then cleared right up beautifully.

 

There were no ambulances. Nobody got badly hurt. We met a fundraising goal and didn’t raise it, feeling bad about moving the goalposts, and then were staggered when we surpassed it, and then surpassed what we’d secretly hoped for, and then surpassed that again. The fancy message from the Prime Minister we didn’t think would arrive in time did.  I felt great on my bike, strong and fast. The generator broke one night, but it was fixed really quickly. People got along- they made friends, I didn’t have to work so hard that I didn’t have time for some fun, and on the last night in spider camp, there was only two spiders on my tent and that is a freakin’ miracle.  It was warm, but just a little overcast so that nobody got too hot, and three days there was a wind at our backs, speeding us along. I have never been more grateful. Almost everything worked, even the things that I didn’t think were going to.  One night, as we slept, the worst part of one of the bike paths we had to ride was freshly paved – we didn’t even have to deal with the construction crew.

I am not going to pretend that there weren’t challenges. The whole thing is a challenge, that’s the point. I’m not going to say I didn’t cry on my bike a few times (the hills, holy wing of moth) or that there wasn’t a morning when we all ate ibuprofen like they were tictacs. I won’t tell you it wasn’t hard, or that there weren’t things that went wrong – and I’m also not going to fail to mention that a lot of what seemed like “good luck” was the result of a lot of people who worked really, really hard in the year leading up to the Rally to make it a great place for good luck to land – but overall, the fates smiled. (I still slept for about three days straight when it was over – and I’m not the only one. Ken was still sitting gingerly at dinner last night.) I am not going to tell you that this fixes everything- that joy and unfettered happiness are back in my life without restraint, but oh, it felt so good to have a success – to see everyone succeed, to see them so moved by it all.

When we arrived in Montreal, I stood up in front of all the riders and I told them the truth. In your life, if you are very lucky, you will get one hundred summers, and I cannot believe that they chose to spend one of them on this. I am so proud of them, of the riders, of the crew, of the committees who worked so hard. I am so proud of every single one of you too – Team Knit collectively raised $105,326.49 this year, and the Rally itself a record $1.73 million.  I have said it a thousand times, riding my bike to Montreal does nothing without you.  It wouldn’t make a single bit of difference without the donations and momentum you all put behind us.  The ride is just a metaphor – a symbol of our commitment, and without your actual commitment, we’re just some really sweaty people on bikes. You, my petals, are the thing that made it matter, and I am so lucky to have you.

When I asked for your help, you said yes, and helped as best you could, and now,  each one of those yeses, is going to turn into something amazing over the next year. They’re going to turn into times when someone enduring real bad luck walks into PWA and asks for help, and whoever is sitting at the front desk can say Yes, this is your lucky day.

Thank you.

(I’m going to knit something now.)

It’s Probably in a Bin

It is very early in the morning, and I’m sitting here, drinking coffee, watching the day start – with the sun coming up, and Team Knit stirring as we get up and get going in four separate spots all over the city.  Funny to think that after this, we’ll travel together every day for a week.

(Yes. I am drinking coffee in the bath to save time. It’s efficient.)

I’m nervous.  I know I say that every year, and I know that people shrug it off – you’ve done it before, they say. You’ll be OK, they say.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it, it just isn’t easy to ride your bike 660km.  (For my American Friends, that’s 410miles.) This year I compounded the difficulty by not training much.  There were so many times when I could do a job that would benefit the whole Rally, or just me (the training) and I opted for the former. I’ve spoken with lots of the former Co-Chairs, and they all say the same thing. They years that they embraced leadership were the years that they trained the least.  There just isn’t time, and opting for the Rally in general has absolutely seemed more responsible, right up until this minute when I’m thinking about putting my untrained arse on a bike and riding out of here.

There will be many times over the course of the next week when everyone on Team Knit steps up to a Leadership role, and each of us has our own reasons for doing so.  I won’t speak to the rest of Team Knit, but I can tell you that the things my mother taught me have been figuring largely in my reasons for riding my bike this year. My mum believed, wholeheartedly, that the world was  a different place for women than it is for men.  When I was a younger woman I thought that she was a tad extreme in these beliefs, but the older I get, the more that I see that it’s true. I feel now the way my mum did, that there is absolutely no reason to be bitter about this, but she was rather firm that you couldn’t just… ignore it.

So, when my mum died, I thought about giving up the Co-Chair gig. (Don’t tell that to Ted – the other half of Co-Chair equation) I thought that it wasn’t going to be my best self, and that someone else would be better at it, and I thought a lot about quitting, and then something started to happen.  I started going down to PWA. I started doing the work. I started looking around and listening and realizing that there was something going on, and that thing was that when I went to PWA? The place is full of women and children.

 HIV/AIDS is now regarded mostly as a chronic disease that largely has to do with gay men, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  While it’s true that we’ve got treatment now for a great many people who have HIV/AIDS, the regime is expensive, difficult to comply with, and hard to access for many people who are living complicated lives – the primary risk factors for HIV/AIDS are now poverty and lack of power.  (Here’s a great example, in Saskatchewan (that’s a province in the middle-ish of Canada) 79% of the new cases of HIV are in indigenous people.)
We see this in the shifting client base at PWA. These days almost 30% of PWA’s clients are women and their children.
The truth is that if one of the main risk factors for HIV/AIDS is poverty and a lack of power, than it is only going to continue to disproportionately affect poor and dis-empowered women since we haven’t solved that whole equality problem yet. I could (and have) go on forever about this topic, about how robust the solution to this problem needs to be – how diverse we have to think, and when I think that? I hear my mum. I hear her problem solving, her ideas, her knowledge that communities fix things, and investing in communities is always helpful, and her belief that if you have some money or power (or both) you have a responsibility to get firmly on the side of people who do not. My Mum wouldn’t have wanted me to quit being Co-Chair because she got sick and died.
So, this morning will be the first time that my Mum hasn’t been with me for departure. Last night was the first time she didn’t call to see if I was ready, or text this morning to ask (for the 387time what time departure is. (Geez Mum it’s 9am the same every year.)  I’m going to go invest in this community, and I’m going to trust that investment to carry me.  I’m going to put my love and care in Team Knit, in Ken, and Cameron and Pato, and believe that they’re going to do the same thing, that we’ll get through it together, if we stick together. I love those guys, and they love me.
Team Knit wants to thank you too for all of this.  Each of us is at our (public) goal, though each of us has hopes and dreams and a private goal we haven’t disclosed, and we’re still hoping to reach.  We have you to thank for it. We put our energy, time and money towards this problem, ad you did too – and we can’t thank you enough.
You are the only reason Team Knit makes a difference, and we’re so, so grateful.
We love you. Thank you.
If you find an extra fiver hanging around this week, or you decide that something in your life can be rearranged a little bit to redistribute some power and luck in the world, Team Knit remains:
Me                         Ken
Cameron                Pato
(PS. Kim at Indigodragonfly summed all of this up so well, when her fundraising colourways for the Bike Rally this year were to honour her mother, and mine.  Kim knows a ton about redistributing luck and power. She’s awesome.)
(PPS. I don’t think I can blog over the next week, but follow me on instagram and I’ll try to show you everything. I’m @yarnharlot.)

Almost the End/Beginning

I’ve lost all perspective on the world.  The world is the Rally.  The Rally is the world, or something like that.  This week, hours and hours and hours went to keeping the Rally on the rails, and trying to make it be all it can be. I hope I’ve done okay – it’s all just anxiety right now.  Today’s the last day before we leave. We all went to packing day, and… wait, have I told you how this works?  The riders are supported on this odyssey by the crew. Food crew, Wellness crew, Road Support and (most important for this story) The Rustlers.

Every rider gets two rubbermaid bins – not super big ones. You put everything in them that you’ll need for the week – your clothes, tent, chair, spare inner tubes, purse, yarn… and they move it from city to city.  Every morning we load our two bins up and take them to the trucks, and the rustlers drive them to the next city, and decant all the bins onto the campground. We pick up our bins, go set up our tents, do whatever, and then in the morning we pack it all back into the bins, trot (drag, limp) the bins back over to the trucks – repeat. The thing is that we can’t do this the morning of departure.  It’s way too complicated to check everyone in, assign them bins… we’d have to get there before dawn. (Remember, there’s 300 cyclists.) So the day before departure is packing day. You show up, check in, get your jerseys for the day or the week, depending on how long you’re riding, and you get bins and put all your stuff in, and put it on a truck and then…

Then the Rustlers have your stuff, and you don’t. I find it really stressful.  I can’t give them my knitting because then I can’t knit, but I can’t keep my knitting unless I can carry it on my bike the next day, because I won’t have access to those bins until I arrive in Port Hope tomorrow night. (Apparently that I am Co-Chair means very little in terms of bin access. The Rustlers are fierce. Some of them are even knitters and I still couldn’t budge anyone, though I didn’t try that hard. They’ve got a system.) Essentially, you can only keep the things that you can fit in your jersey pockets. (I kept more knitting than I should have. I’m stressed. Yarn makes me feel better. I’ll figure it out tomorrow.)

I came home and finished a pair of socks –

Pattern forthcoming, when I have time to do it… yarn is Ridley Sock Yarn from Sea Turtle Fiber Arts (I think the colourway was called “Imagine”) I said it when I started knitting with this yarn, and I’ll say it again, I love this sock yarn.  Durable, soft, super cozy.  I’m a fan.  I started a new pair of socks this week too – these ones to accompany me on my trip, since I knew the other ones would be finished soon. (No point in knitting taking up room if it won’t last the trip.)

This one is Electron Sock (80% merino/ 20% nylon) from Elemental Fiberworks in “Ring Nebula” (I think it looks rainbowish.)  I also freaked out and put an extra skein in my packing, because I got nervous that I’d (like always) suddenly churn out much more knitting than usual, and be underyarned in a campground somewhere.  The truth is that it’s not really likely, considering that it’s hours and hours a day on my bike (and I feel like if I instagrammed a yarn emergency one of you would help me) but you can’t be too careful.

I’m off to bed soon, because how much sleep you need to do this can’t be understated, but I thought I’d do as many Karmic Balancing gifts as I could before running out of time.  I won’t get through them all, some will have to wait until we’re back, but here goes!

Caitlin wrote the sweetest note about finally being in a position to give, and give she did, three lovely offerings from her stash and hands. Handspun SweetGeorgia Yarns BFL/silk (January 2014 club colorway ‘Night Owl’). Semi-woolen spun, 4 oz/about 200 yards, that will be going to live with Jess D.

Three skeins of Imperial Yarn Erin, one each of the Natural, Pearl Grey, and Quail colorways, Caitlin will send that to Heather B.

And last, but certainly not least two skeins of handspun natural fiber; lighter grey is Jacob, and darker is Corriedale. 4 oz/about 200 yards each for Diana Z, who is not a spinner, and I’m glad, because this one of the only ways she’ll get to enjoy how lovely it is to knit with handspun.

Robin Hunter, charmer that she is, has donated a free pattern for TEN knitters.

I have no idea how on earth they are going to choose from the lovelies in her shop, but good luck to Margaret G, Sarah M, Marcie R, Camb F, Miriam F, Beth D. Harriet B, Cheryl R, Kate D, Angela D and Beth D.

Gina has three beautiful things to share, and writes about her luck, and how she’d like to pass the love on. Isager Strik Spinni (Wool 1): 2 skeins, lace weight, 100% wool, colorway Gray 2S that she’ll be sending to Sarah J.

Twisted Fiber Art Opulent Striping: 2 skeins, DK weight, 50/50 silk/merino, colorway Mirage (caked up, no longer in skein) for Kathleen W.

Twisted Fiber Art Catnip Evolution: 1 skein, Aran weight, 50/50 silk/merino, colorway Boreal that’s going to live with Andrea L.
Finally, and there’s so much more, but I have got to go to bed… Signature Needle Arts got in on the game again this year – and they’ve got not one, but two gift certificates for $50, one each for Lenny B, and Sarah S.  Lucky Ducks.  (I mean that, I do love a Signature Needle.  Like driving a Ferrari.)
Good night petals, and I’ll try to touch in in the morning before I ride out of here, and try to catch up with my bins.