Birth of a glacier.

While we were in Newfoundland this summer, we vistited the Tablelands. This barren, rocky place was incredibly hot, yet up near the top of the mountain was a patch of snow. It was August, the mountain barely qualified as a mountain, so I didn’t think that the temperature could be different enough for there to be snow…so I asked the guide how there could still be snow up there.
He explained that so much snow falls and drifts in that area, that it can’t all melt during the summer. Parts of the tablelands are covered in more than 90m (295 feet, for my American friends) of snow and it just can’t get hot enough, for long enough to melt that amount of snow. Come the next winter, there’s a little patch that hasn’t melted, and the new snow falls on top of it. Each year, that little patch of snow gets a little bigger. The guide explains that this patch of snow makes Geologists nervous. What is happening with this little ever-growing patch of snow is the birth of a glacier. (If this makes you nervous too, you can relax. It’s going to take a really long time).
This week, I realized that the same thing was happening in my email inbox. Every day I am getting a little more email than I could ever answer. I am trying really, really hard to answer everyone, but everyday the inbox grows a little larger, and emails are getting buried and frozen in the pile. It is the birth of a glacier, and it isn’t taking a long time.
I read and love every single email and comment, and don’t want anyone to have hurt feelings if I can’t reply, I’m just giving everyone a heads up that I’m shovelling as fast as I can…but the snow keeps falling. If you sent me something that you really think I should have answered, send it again. I don’t want to discourage anyone from leaving a comment (or sending me an email) especially since the comments on this blog are often funnier and more interesting than the blog itself, just don’t take it personally if I don’t answer you….I’m probably just buried.
Tuesdays were for spinning, and I’m pretty darned happy with the results. The Merino/tencel is pretty freakin slick and slippery (Hey Kerstin? Can I be Slick Chick now? I always wanted a nickname.) but after 10 minutes of having it snatched out of my hands faster than a sequin at a Cher concert, I got it figured. The long draw (my preferred spinning technique) is hard with this fibre, so I used a supported long-ish draw, holding the twist out of the drafting triangle, then sliding my pinch along the fibre. At no time did I relinquish my grip on said fibres. (I would suggest that you hold the fibre with a force somewhere between “death grip” and “exceedingly firm”.)
When your hand cramps severely into a distorted spinning claw in….oh, 7-9 minutes you’ve probably got it right. I kept the tension on the wheel at a “whisper”. The singles looked pretty good.
I toyed with they idea of plying it with the white mohair laceweight. Imagine how sexy it would be? I gave the idea up after a few moments, when it turned out that the idea was far, far more elegant than the reality.
Disappointing, Yes? It looks like a designer nursery layette vomited.
I plied it back on itself, and I’m actually happy with the results. Shiny, slick, very nifty, and putting the colours next to each other made them a little more edgy I think. I far prefer it to the saccharine candy of the first plying attempt.
Bippy, Cassie and Erika have all asked about Joe’s gansey. I knew someone would. This day had to come. Harlots are notoriously unfaithful. Truth is, the spinning for Joe’s sweater is on hold until I turn on the heat. I need to wash more fleece and I just can’t face the piles of damp brown fleece rats lingering around the house for days. Once the heat is on I can pile fleece rats on the kitchen heating grate and dry them in a matter of hours. It’s so good that I have all of you to keep the pressure on, isn’t it?
I’ve cast on a wee hat to go with the sweater, using my patented roll brim hat approach. I give it to you here:
Roll Brim Hat Recipe.
1. Cast on 20 stitches with the yarn and needles you would like to use. Knit in stocking stitch until you have a piece at least 5 cm (2 inches) long, longer if you think that swatches are funny, pleasant or if you are collecting them. (Note for proper knitters: if you are the sort of person who has not yet accepted that most simple roll brim hats are lost way, way before they are ever washed, or if you are giving the hat to someone you know is so responsible that they will want to wash it, you may wash the swatch now. I never have.)
2. Measure how many stitches to the inch you are getting. I cannot stress enough the importance of being completely honest here. If is is 4 1/3 stitches, then that’s what it is. Do not give in to the urge to stretch, squash or lie about your stitches.
3. Measure the intended head. Subtract an inch. Multiply this number by the number of stiches your swatch has to the inch. For example: The head measures 20 inches, subtract an inch = 19. I’m getting 5 stitches to the inch.
19 X 5 = 95.
4. Cast on that number.
5. Knit until the hat measures (with it’s brim allowed to roll up) the length of the intended victims hand, from base of palm to tip of longest finger. (Note: this may not be long enough if your victim is a baby, on account of their freakishly large heads. Make it about 12cm (5 inches) for them.) If the victim is not available, I just make it the length of my hand, plus or minus an inch depending on the person’s size.
6. Begin to decrease for the top.
Knit 2, knit 2 together all the way around. Do not worry if this doesn’t work out evenly with your number of stitches. Fake it. I have never been struck by lightning for doing this.
Knit a round plain.
Knit 1, knit 2 together around.
Knit a round plain.
Knit 2 together around.
Knit a round plain.
Knit 2 together around, every row until you have less than 10.
7. Break yarn, draw through remaining stitches, tighten up (not too tight, for wool’s sake, pulling the yarn hard enough that you snap it is a serious bummer at this point).
8. Show it to everyone who is home, put it on the cat and make fun of her. Dogs and helpless children are also good. Spouses are generally resistant to this part of the process.

38 thoughts on “Birth of a glacier.

  1. Oh Harlot, you and your knitting/spinning “adventures” always make me smile. But boy…the cat really does not look like he appreciates your efforts. Oh well, that’s a cat for ya.

  2. Oh, for crying out loud, I have so many little piles of designer nursery layette vomit lying around my house, in various designer colors, the dog licks them as part of his “kissing the family hello” circuit. I’m considering making a pair of faux thrums using the layette vomit. Or restuffing the sofa. And the mattress. And passing them out to pre-teen girls in school hallways for their own self-esteem-enhancement.
    It’s part of the spinning experience.

  3. Dearest Harlot, thanks for the heads-up, but I think we all get that you’re busier than superwoman. I for one, feel like I’ve won the lottery (I’m referring to the happiness factor, not the irrational randomness factor of it all) when I get a note from you. I then just never know if I should reply to it, ’cause I don’t want to add to the glacier, but don’t want to be impolite either. You don’t have to reply to this! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Harlot, you are a wonder! I happen to think it didn’t look like vomit at all (I know about these things as I’ve just returned from being with the Gran who’s in the hospital) – I actually kind of liked the white mohair ply added to it. Yet, I’m strange like that…
    Also, thanks so much for being one of three persons that are such an inspiration to me. I know no better, yet I manage to muddle about creating my own patterns and designs. At times frustrating, more often, very fulfilling. (Yes, I’m still working away on the altered poncho pattern, it’s turning out really well, but then it’s your alteration!)
    BTW – couldn’t you “bake” the fleece rats like you did your dyed fiber the other day instead of waiting to turn on the heat? I’m just sayin’…

  5. If you would like to read about a really scary blog/email experience, go to Wendy Johnson’s site – and read the postings for the past two days.
    For myself – I don’t expect you to respond to my comments. I just enjoy reading your blog.

  6. Harlot
    As usual you are right where I need you when I need you. No wonder you’re a legend in your own time.
    I am off to an afer-school program where I teach middle schoolers to knit. Your hat pattern is going from my compter to their hands. They’ll love it.
    Thanks, thanks, thanks.

  7. Your hat recipe is fabulous! There are many confusing ones out there. It is very Elizabeth Zimmerman-esque, love it!

  8. I hearby dub you “Slick Chick.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Though after pulling off that Rhinebeck sweater, you should be known as Trick Chick. And if you start blogging about movies, you could be called Flick Chick. Given where you live, I’m tempted to call you Hick Chick. I best stop now. The rhyming is all downhill from here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Now I understand. You’re not turning on the heat to have an excuse to avoid working on Joe’s gansey. He’s going to figure it out eventually.

  10. Hi Steph. I love reading your blog and hearing about your oh-so-exciting life. The occasional reply you send to my comments are just icing on the cake. I suspect your viewing public really understands about the glacier thing. It’s just that most of us won’t admit to it!
    The spinning is wonderful. As is the hat. As for the cat? Well, if I were you I’d be keeping my shoes in the closet with the doors closed securely.

  11. Help! I’m trapped in a glacier!
    Well, not really, but let’s all close our eyes and think what that’s really like…

  12. Could you show a picture of the top of the hat? I want to see how it looks, as compared to the kind of decreases that make a cute little spiral on top. This entry is very timely, as I have just knitted a hat twice because I lied to myself about the gauge. I have several more to knit before Christmas, and I’m trying to avoid similar trauma.

  13. There she is, once again, making work for me!!
    First it was making me do thrummed mittens (which are finished by the way!)
    Then my daughter wanted leg warmers – but I bought a pair instead.
    Now it’s the roll brim hat. I just HAVE to make one for my daughter. To do it I’m going to take apart a couple of hats that I made and don’t really care for.
    Gee… I need an easy boy pattern next, please ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Dear Yarn Harlot-
    You are a knitting celebrity. I, for one, am thankful that you notice my comments (If you crack before new years I’ll tell you what I decided on…it’s insane. canadian money is cheap, I could get more than I thought I could.) and any e-mail I get is gravy.
    We’re in the information age. Celebrity is more diffused than it used to be. Think about it- you’re world famous. Small fame, but fame nonetheless. You treat your fans admirably, though. Much better than Billy Corgan, that’s for dammed sure.
    The Mad Pirate Bippy

  15. I always wondered if you actually managed to respond to everyone. What a monumental task if you did! I get, on a good day, maybe 3 comments to one of my posts and I can’t always reply so I can’t even imagine what you go through.
    The cat looks really hot ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Cripes Harlot….You’re a celebrity…they don’t answer their mail personally! Hire it out…you have children…let them answer your mail….hmm. Maybe not. Joe? MMmmmmmm. How ’bout a nice Harlot-ish automated response??
    Lisa in Oregon

  17. I’ve never mastered the long draw myself. I do the pinch and slide thing you describe. I’m thinking I could probably spin loftier/softer yarn if I could learn the long draw though. Or if I’d stop being so anal and worrying that my yarn will somehow fall apart in the plying process if it doesn’t twist back on itself into a knot as a single.
    Your merino/tencel is lovely. I tried spinning some once and it was incredibly slick. You Slick Chick, you. ;o)

  18. I love your blog and don’t give a damn if you never respond to any of my comments, no matter how witty. There are only so many hours in the day, right? If you get a chance, though, come visit me, since I have been writing about you recently!

  19. I love merino and tencel.. Love how the tencel gives the combo some sparkle and depth.
    Hope you don’t mind but posted your link to the Yarn Harlot Poncho on the Canspin list (as well as your blog addy. Someone was looking for a poncho pattern for, get this, merino and tencel. Then wondered if you were a member already, being Canadian and all.. You might want to check it out on Yahoo, if you are not already a member we could use your expertise!
    amy in Chilliwack, BC

  20. The long draw –a supported long-ish draw– the twist — the drafting triangle– sliding my pinch ?!!! hand cramps — distorted spinning claw –the tension on the wheel at a “whisper”. –
    Your language center seems to have been taken over by Alien Alpacas. or Klingons. or Rabid Civil Engineers. Omigod, here is yet another language I do not speak. (not ALL Amer’c’ns are monolingual. )
    Kitty is the least happy feline I have seen in a week. I’m wondering if he/she might not prefer a Faux Fur or eyelash? with glitter?
    And I’m thrilled that somewhere a glacier is growing. All I’ve heard about is glaciers MELTING due to global warming. I didn’t want California or NYC to go glub glub glub.

  21. Millie looks just SOOOO impressed with that hat being on her head. LOL! I had been wondering if she was still around….
    expecting replies? I don’t, to be honest. Cos I figure if 70 people make comments on your blog then at least 100 people could be emailing you each day. I certainly couldn’t cope with that!

  22. that poor cat … i tend to steer very clear of my cat when she has that look on her face.
    i hope you’re hired as a writer somewhere. it would seem a waste of an incredibly talented individual if you’re not.

  23. The glacier. Yes. That’s exactly it. I just cleared my inbox for the first time all week. And I left only the really important notes that I simply must do something with. I still have forty-one. Sigh. I’m such a freakin’ slacker. Back to it….

  24. I know that you do prenatal care but I was under the impression that the sweater was for a person still in utero. Unless you know something we don’t, not impossible as you are THE yarn harlot, I am betting that you are guessing on the head size and not measuring as according to instructions?
    Thanks for the instructions, I love knitting hats but they have started resisting me. i will try this on my next hat.
    it’s cold here in Halifax, I am a wimp about cold, we even had the heat on once in september.

  25. Harlot-
    I just read that pattern this morning, and I would just like to say, I’m so proud that you included a gauge swatch in the pattern…. Not that you wouldn’t swatch first… but you’re awesome!

  26. I’m wondering if The Harlot CAN’T turn on the furnace because it, like the freezer, is stuffed with yarn?

  27. I force my cat to model all knitted items. She is generally not amused, except when it is a long, fluffy scarf that is good to sit on and cuddle with. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who does this!

  28. Ditto Valentina’s comment. (Queer Joe’s blog has made me nervous about leaving comments.)
    Where are you getting these gorgeous flowers for your photos?! You have flowers for every yarn shade! We in the land of “brown and dead winter” stuff are envious. Don’t Answer This! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Luv Kathen

  29. Wow – now I feel even more honored that you responded to one of my comments! ๐Ÿ™‚ Everyone’s right about you being a celebrity, though. I started reading your blog even before I actually started knitting!
    Your cat definitely does not look amused. I can’t imagine that my cats would feel any differently in that situation, either. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. I’m with the majority here, I think. Responses to comments are nice, but not necessary or even expected. ( unless I/we ‘ve issued a threat, bribe, challenge or ultimatum!)

  31. here is a question should you have the time cause with all that global warming we need glaciers ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am ad libbing a hat in seed stitch. All seems to be going well, I followed much of what you said so far (still working up to that hand measurement bit-
    So do I need to do anything different or do I just play along with what you listed for the decreases- I dont like the stripy lines up the head decreases.
    Oh and dont feel the need to respond either; I understand that time thing

  32. Thank you! You just answered an question that’s been driving me nuts for (literally) years!
    I always seem to suffer from premature casting off on hats because they *look* like they’re long enough. They never are and the hats end up looking like wonky beanies. The ‘tip of the finger to palm” trick is brilliant! I am in the library and just slapped my head with my own head to check (it’s right)! Thank you! I am starting a new hat tonight!

  33. I knitted a hat and love it, but the problem is the brim keeps rolling and rolling. Do you have a solution for this. I need to do another one and would like to know about this before I start.

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