I’m improvising as fast as I can

This morning I discovered two significant problems.

1. I was out of coffee. This is a shocking and horrific development and is a situation that I normally have several safeguards in place to protect against. I am not (and I really can’t stress this enough) a morning person. It is really only the sacred brown elixer of life that gets me through the first four or five hours of consciousness and the absence of said beverage left a yawning abyss in my morning so huge that it was all I could do to go on. I rummaged the cupboards and finally came up with an old tin of espresso, tossed it into the coffee maker and drank what I though was enough to get me to the grocery store to buy the coffee I usually have. It turns out though, as I sit here listening to my heart beat (straight off…you really shouldn’t be able to hear your own pulse) and typing at the speed of sound that I realize that I may have overshot my caffeine goals. I can feel my eyebrows.

2. My email is not working. Actually, it is more that my email is taunting me viciously. It is delivering some email (four yesterday… ) hoarding others for an random amount of time, then releasing them to me in a bizarre and perplexing order and sending a few of them to me five or six times, presumably in a bold attempt to appease me.

Hear me now. I am not appeased. I told the guy at the sympatico office that I was not appeased. He asked me if I was sure that people were sending me email, with a tone that implied that perhaps I had no friends. I’m not sure what I may have said to him then. I know that I called him “Dude”. (Several cups of espresso can really take the edge off of the details….it all went by so quickly).

If you are not hearing from me…I may not have heard from you.

Three reasons why the Stitch and Bitch at Lettuce Knit last night was a fiercely good time.

1. Free range books. Here in Toronto.


This exited me more than I can tell you. Megan has a stack of them, and as far as I know she’s the only shop in Toronto to have them so far. I’m thinking about visiting them again later.

2. I signed books. Three cheers to Kelly, who was the first person in the whole world to ask me to sign a book live and in person, and a huge shout out to Allison, who was so sweet that I felt like Elvis.

3. Megan made my evening by putting several of my favourite things in one room.


That’s champagne, chocolate, other knitters and yarn. (Yes, yes….oh yes)

And by letting me hold her beautiful new baby Penelope, who is perfect, sweet….and destined to be a knitter.


(Megan and Penelope are seen here in a really charming moment, mere seconds before I snatched the little bummie back into my arms).

Clearly I was overwhelmed with happiness, since moments later I hauled off and bought this (among other things, but we shall gloss over my weakness in the face of 22 day old babies belonging to yarn shop owners who have my book, champagne and chocolate…it’s not flattering.)


It’s Art yarns Super Merino, and Lettuce knit had the loveliest choices. Expect all my present projects to be dumped as quickly as a guy who has his mummy at the top of his cellphone speed-dial.

Finally today, I can make some announcements about the Bookbookbook, Tourtourtour. Where I’m going and where I’ll be doing it can now be found here, on the official At Knit’s End tour page. I’ll keep it updated as I go, and add more stuff as the publicity people tell me what’s up. (I’ll be adding a summer trip to the west coast in a few weeks) I’m thrilled and scared to death, though must admit that I might be feeling considerably less anxious later when I don’t have 7 litres of emergency espresso in me. I’ll let you know.

The official launch for the book is at The Museum of Textiles here in Toronto (Dundas and University, St. Patrick Subway) Wednesday April 13th, 6:30 – 8:00. Wine, books, me freaking out completely ….what more could you want? Please come and help me celebrate.

Just stay off your feet.

Once upon a time there was a knitter in Toronto. She had a friend who used a wheelchair who had an obsession with Tiger stuff. (The knitter, who has no such quirk , tries not to think this an odd thing for a grown woman with a really respectable education and intelligence to be concerned with). The friend loved Tiger prints, Tiger stories…tiger everything.

The knitter often thought of knitting something sort of “Tigerish” for her friend, but all she could ever find was sweaters with intarsia tigers on the front, and frankly, no matter how decent a tiger pattern that is (and it seems to be pretty good) and no matter how much her friend would just plotz if she opened up a box with that in it, there is, quite frankly, a much better chance that the knitter will take up the science of “Yak husbandry” before lunchtime than that she will haul off and knit that bit of business.

Now, because the friend uses a wheelchair the knitter makes her a lot of socks. (There is much gratification in knitting a beautiful pair of socks for someone who will not only handwash and love them deeply, but will never, ever take a single step in them. They last forever.) Considering the knitters obsession with sock yarn and the non-walking friends obsession with tigers, it was really only a matter of time until destiny revealed the existence of “Opal Tiger” sock yarn.

This sock yarn is discontinued. This sock yarn is a legend. This sock yarn is just the ticket.

The knitter began a search.

She tried yarn shops. (This was sheer folly. I don’t know what I was thinking there, maybe that the whole world could want this yarn, hunt it like a band of demons but that somehow the moment I wanted it I would find a ball of it 50% off sitting right in Romni wool. Yeah. I crack me up.) She hunted the stash, thinking that perhaps she had bought it and forgotten about it. (I didn’t, but how funny would that be after I’d scoured North America?) She even tried dyeing some plain yarn to make her own Tiger yarn, but that was a disaster of such epic hideousness that it shall not be spoken of. She tried Ebay…but either none was for sale or the price was so incredibly ridiculous ($50 skein) that even if the knitter were absolutely made of money, even if money fell of her while she walked she could never bring her frugal little soul to spend that much on a single ball of sock yarn…even if it is rare and even if she does normally stash yarn in a manner that would at least suggest that she thought it “collectable”.

For years the knitter travelled Canada and the US and everywhere she went she looked for the tiger yarn. She saw some very nice yarns, (and she brought many of them home to live with her) and she even found the fabled “Opal” yarn, but it only made things worse. Now that she knew the joys of the beautiful Opal yarn, she only wanted the Tiger yarn more.

One day, when the knitter was (rather co-incidentally, actually) rooting through her stash of sock yarns looking for something to make her friend for Christmas (or shortly thereafter, since the friend understands about Christmas, knitting and the sort of conflicts that the Knitter endures that time of year) she heard the letter carrier come.

Thinking that it would be the gas bill for sure, the knitter reluctantly kicked a path to her front door (her house is a little untidy) to get the mail.

Imagine the joy the knitter felt when she found a package from Elizabeth! (Elizabeth had previously sent the knitter some knitting needles, proving that she knows our knitter very well indeed, since this knitter is the only knitter she knows who adores those shiny thin metal needles that come in colours). The knitter knew that what was inside would be very good.

When she opened the package her heart skipped a beat. Not only was there the yummy Opal yarn that the knitter covets…there was a ball of the Tiger yarn. Now this desire for the Tiger yarn to please her friend was a secret wish, and the knitter had never revealed it to anyone, so the arrival of Elizabeth’s Tiger Opal was happy kismet, and pretty much required that the knitter have a little lie down for the rest of the day.

When her joy had abated enough to let her stand, she immediately cast on the Tiger socks and knit them with great speed and happiness. (Until she got really bored midway through the second one, but that’s really quite normal and doesn’t make for a good story.)

Then she gave them to her friend who totally did plotz, (although I hope she isn’t pissy about not getting the sweater) and even took this picture when the knitter forgot to photograph them before sending them over.


Lene would like to thank Elizabeth for whatever sort of crazy-voodoo-hidden-camera-ESP thingie she has going on. Good call.

Late Breaking News:

(added at 3:30pm)

Megan from Lettuce Knit has just called to tell me that the book is in stock. This is an enormous relief, since it was starting to appear that the city in which the book was written was going to be the last place to get it, just to thwart my desire to spot one in the wild.

I will be going to the Stitch and Bitch tonight to visit the book in it’s natural habitat. Don’t mock me if I buy one.

The good news…

Today, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that my lovely daughter Amanda has returned from her European music adventure, safe, sound and seemingly unharmed. (I think I took a deep breath for the first time in two weeks on Saturday when I laid eyes on her. I don’t recommend sending your children far away if you are a nervous or imaginative mother. I have spent the last two weeks mentally writing scenarios in which Amanda met with international disaster involving everything from a handsome but evil young huster named “Michèl” to a kidnapping starring an enormous and vicious mutant albatross with a nest upon the cliffs.)

The bad news?


Amanda was apparently only glad to see me for about thirty seconds. Then she made this face at me. (It’s good to know I haven’t lost my touch and can still continue my life’s work of wreaking humiliation and embarrassment on my children no matter how far they travel, how long they are gone or how old they get. I’m not sure if she made this face because I was simply within her personal space, because I was documenting her arrival for the blog or because I had announced my intention to strip search her and check for tattoos. Anybody’s guess really.)

The good news is Norma has come over to the dark side and procured herself a spinning wheel. (Welcome Norma, and kiss your remaining closet space goodbye.)

The bad news is that in an enormous sweep of cosmic balancing, on the day that she got herself a lovely Ashford Traditional, mine broke.


The little thingie that holds the flyer to the maiden has snapped off. I’m not naming any names, ( cough<megan>cough) but someone was spinning and was wanton and completely reckless with no decent regard for the prized possession of the woman who gave her life something went wrong. I’d imagine that all I need to do is have the aforementioned “thingie” replaced (How do you order a piece that you don’t know the name of?). The horror of finding it snapped off with a dangling, disengaged flyer and a limp, lifeless drive band still has me shaken and frail, though the rage has passed with the child in question still in one piece and living with me. (Her room is really, really clean right now).

The good news is that without a spinning wheel I make really good time on my socks.


The bad news is that I have apparently suffered a substantial break with reality and human foot size.


What was I thinking? I mean seriously, I have freakishly small feet and these are way too small for me. The leg is fine, the width is fine and then I just hauled off and made a toe, like… mid foot. It’s like I live in an alternate universe where human foot size is variable and stumpy. I’m going to have to yank them back and add some length. Who wants to bet that after that they are too long?

The good news is that I still love the garter vine sweater, and have finished the vast expanse of the back and done a three needle bind off to attach the finished front.


The bad news is that I attached the front to the wrong side so that the freaking armhole runs smack down the front of the thing and I have placed the neck right over my shoulder. (Note: there is no way to just try and figure out a way to make a scoop neck out of the armhole. I thought of that already.)


The good news is that the March Break ends tomorrow and I am hoping that having a couple of consecutive hours where some person doesn’t clear out the fridge, bug their sister until they make that screaming noise, run the battery down on the phone or say “Mum?” every 47 seconds might allow me to knit something without screwing it up so profoundly that everyone landing on this blog today wonders if I’m smart enough to dress myself in the morning.

The bad news is that a return to my baseline level of attention, concentration and intelligence is probably not enough.

Forget it, just forget it.

As we were walking home from our day of Hank-based adventure yesterday Sam turned to Megan (behind my back, because I was obviously starting to look like a mother on the edge) and said, quite bitterly “This is a bust”. I was about to turn around and give her some sort of reflexive mother lecture about optimism, little children and the idea that everyday can’t be Christmas when it hit me.

The Five Reasons that Yesterday was a Bust.

(Disclaimer: Hank features largely in this story. I would like you to know that Hank is an absolutely charming four year old who was having a bad day. Today he’s actually quite ill, so chalk it up to being under the weather, not the fact that he is not a great kid, ’cause he really, really is. His charms are many, and his faults – few.)

1. Does this look like a really happy ball winder to you?


This was actually the question that I asked the little rogue four year old as he cut a path of destruction through my home that would only be equalled by a massive group of teenaged boys on a spring break bender without parents, who were invaded by a herd of rhinoceros with rabies who chased a clan of angry racoons through the living room.

When I walked into the room and crunched spilled cornflakes under my feet, stepped in spilled apple juice and noticed that Hank had written on the table with marker all I actually said was “Oh Dude! Not the ball winder!” We shall not speak of what this means about my housekeeping and priorities. (I think I can fix the ball winder.)

2. Here is Hank at the ROM.


The picture of him is fuzzy because he was running. I could have taken this exact picture the whole time that we were there. (I have never figured out how those little short legs can go so far, so fast…) Note to all four year olds: You need adults to stay alive. We have all of the food, money and shelter. Trying to ditch us in the ROM, or on University Avenue or in the Chapters or on the Subway is not smart and actually counterproductive to your goals.

3. I would like to personally apologize to everyone in the Starbucks in the lobby of the Chapters at University and Bloor yesterday at around 4:30. Hank runs really fast and doesn’t read yet clearly and the words “Fire Door: alarm will sound” mean nothing to him.

In his defence, I had refused to purchase him a novel. It was an adult novel. There was a dragon on the cover. No amount of discussion, or illustration, (here executed by me showing him every single page on the inside of the book) would convince him that it did not have pictures of dragons inside. I suppose that he saw through my shallow attempt to make it up to him with hot chocolate and was simply expressing his dissatisfaction with my attempt to resolve his emotional turmoil in such an immature and superficial way. Again, my apologies.

4. I would like to thank the anonymous woman with the lightning fast reflexes who snagged the hood of Hanks coat as he unexpectedly exited the Subway car by dodging between the legs of that guy on the way home. I appreciate your quick thinking and saving me from chasing him. I held his hood the rest of the way home.

5. When I got home and my sister picked up Hank I sat down to knit for a few minutes. I reached into my backpack to get my sock-in-progress and pulled out a wet sticky mess. I was trying to figure out what had happened when I noticed that I was missing a needle in the sock. (I hate that.)


I reached back into my backpack and discovered that everything is wet and sticky. My wallet, my book, my other sock-in-progress. I used some foul language and tried to find my needle (er…yeah, so my priority is knitting and not cleaning out my purse. Are you trying to tell me there’s something wrong with that? The purse is still going to be wet later. ) and I found the problem, and simultaneously , the needle.

My super-sharp blue metal dpn had impaled a juicebox in my bag.



Wow. Check this out. It’s a review of my book by Clara at Knitters Review, (who I suddenly adore, not that I didn’t like her before, just now I would do her laundry and wash her kitchen floor) and I can hardly believe the nice things she says. You have no idea how happy I am that she liked it. (I have a vivid imagination. I live in fear of reviews. The version I had written in my head in the middle of the night was very different. I will spare you the details but suffice it to say that the phrase “weasel faeces” figured in it.)

Yesterday I went to 3 bookstores in Toronto to look for the book. (No. I’m not proud of that, but I think it’s pretty normal.) I have no idea what I was going to do if I found it. Hopefully something a little bit quiet and without dancing. I knit on my Chai lace everywhere I went to calm my nerves.


It’s finished but unblocked, and another version of the Flower Basket Shawl from Interweave Fall/04. I used 5mm needles and two wee spools of Chai. I love it and the charm of this scarf is not diminished. I could knit it a hundred times at least once more. The yarn makers suggest ironing it to bring up the sheen, but I’m reluctant. Carefully trained for years to never, ever set an iron right on knitting I’m not sure if I can overcome my own instinct and do it. Has anyone done this?


Did it work? Did the silk immolate or flatten out or…I don’t know. I have concerns. (Assuming that by “concerns” you understand that I mean that I am unlikely to overcome my aching worry and fearsome disquiet and manage to set an iron to it no matter what you say to me. Am I wrong? Isn’t this a cardinal rule of knits and irons? Doesn’t “don’t put an iron right down on knits” border on being a knitting commandment? Years and years of trying to learn this stuff and now they want me to just forget everything anybody has said before this and haul off and iron the silk. Right. I bet it makes the scarf smell funny.)

The silk ironing is heightening my book anxiety. The book is not here. It is not in Toronto. I accept this now. Joe (who I love very much for this) spent the evening going to 4 other bookshops….but had no luck either. I had just about accepted that the book simply wasn’t out in the world yet when I got an email from Bev who wrote to say that she had a copy.

Bev is in Newfoundland. Newfoundland? I live in the largest Canadian city that there is and have NOTHING, but the bookshop near Bev in Newfoundland has a copy?

(Joe has a theory that it’s there first because they are shipping in the most economical way. That means the book is being driven here…but since Newfoundland is an island it got there by plane. That makes sense, but contradicts my theory that they are trying to keep the book as far away from me as possible to see how completely bonkers I’ll go in how many Greater Toronto Area bookshops trying to find it. I have pondered the possibility of hidden cameras trained on me.) Since Bev I have learned that pretty much all of the Maritimes has the book, and most of the States. Just not here. It’s a cruel joke. I’m clearly supposed to learn patience and acceptance from this.

I finished the mis-matched Fleece Artist socks…


and I’m going to wear them today as I search the downtown core for the book take the girls and Hank to the ROM. (I figure that if I cop out and buy them a hot chocolate and promise the little dude he can use the ballwinder when we get home I can get three bookstores in before Hank loses his cool. I will also be checking the ROM bookstore, which is completely stupid and pointless, and a compulsion none the less. (Pity me, for I am without grace. ) I have forgiven the socks everything. (More acceptance and patience. See the theme?) They are so comfortable and beautiful, each in their own unique “We are scarcely a pair” way that I believe I can overlook their fraternal nature. Probably.

What I did today.

(I’m a little short on time and enthusiasm…long on children. Pardon me.)

1. I finished this. (Please disregard the sullen teenager. March Break is hard on everyone. I assure you that she loves the “hat-scarf thing”, and simply hated my guts for that particular 30 seconds.)


Beautiful, Yes? It’s the “Magical Moebius” by Caroline Laudig. I fell deeply, deeply in love with it when Caroline donated several kit’s for TSF’ers. Caroline sent the pattern and I can report that it’s a lovely pattern and good TV knitting for experienced knitters or a simple run at lace for newer ones. Caroline’s got a huge heart and she’s turned this pattern into a wonderful opportunity for MSF. The pattern costs $5 (plus $1 for shipping) and the whole $5 is going to MSF. The pattern works with a long list of yarns (Caroline suggests Jaeger Superkid mohair (1 ball), or Douceur et soie (1 ball) , or Mountain Colours mountain goat, or Noro silk garden (2 skeins) or anything like ’em. Get yours by emailing the lovely Caroline at claudig12ATaolDOTcom.

(Change the bold stuff to the obvious. I’m trying to protect her from spam by not broadcasting her email addie.) and mention that TSF and/or Steph sent ya.

2. Trapped on a TTC ride with two 11 year old girls for what seemed like hours, I somehow endured a conversation that made me want to whack my head on the subway wall and began (and ended) with the sentence:

“You know what else is gross?”

3. Knit this in a movie theatre.


It’s another plain sock. (Although I like to believe that the yarn is charming and interesting enough to make up for the same damn sock over and over again.)

4. Ate so many tortilla chips at the movies that now I sorta don’t feel good.

5. Changed my links for Claudia, who has packed up and moved blogs.

Her new address is here….go say hi. (Her new blog has a spiffy new look too. Love it.)

6. Didn’t do any real work because there are small obnoxious PEOPLE IN MY OFFICE, which the small obnoxious people appear to believe is our family room, which they think is a space they have a right to be in. I did yesterdays work in my bedroom in the wee hours of the night.

I don’t know if I’m going to make it.


I am almost loathe to mention it, in case Gaia hears me and whumps me with another massive snowstorm for daring to be hopeful…but I think it’s spring. If you can overlook the fact that it was snowing this morning, there are signs. The one I like best is that the air is warm enough for Sam to make giant bubbles today.


We tried the other day but it was just too cold, the sight of a child outside, wearing only a down vest, sweater and bubbles is downright encouraging. (Since somebody is going to ask, the giant bubble book and frame is this one. Extremely cool, with the bonus of using up at least 13 minutes of the March Break. Only about 11520 more minutes to fill. ) The girls and I were in the village today, (Tulips and pussywillows for sale!) and walking there and back, I contemplated how it was that I didn’t feel like the planet was trying to kill me. On the sunny side of the street the snow is melting and I’m betting that someone in Toronto has snowdrops. My mood is spectacular, hopeful and cheery…which is good, since I’m getting my chain pulled by my knitting again.

I’ve been knitting on my bus socks, and it was only last night when I got out the two at the same time to see if they matched for length and as I held them together, I noticed this.


These socks do not match. There’s no reason for this, which I find infuriating. They were knit on the same needles, from the same yarn with the same number of stitches by the same knitter. It isn’t just that the variegation is working out differently either, if you see these socks in person you can see that the colours are actually different. The second one (on the left) has more blue, a lighter blue and less red and orange. They look like different dye lots, but were knit from a single skein of Fleece artist hand-dyed sock yarn. It must be that the dye job is subtly different moving through the skein, so subtle that you don’t notice while you’re knitting (or maybe you would if you were the type to pay more attention) but it shows up side by side. Since my feet are largely side by side, I have a feeling this is going to bug me.

I love this yarn though, and I love each of the socks in their own way…so I’m working to get past my anal retentive compulsive feelings about matching socks and learn to enjoy their fraternal rather than identical nature. Or maybe I just won’t take off my shoes much.

I’m also working on this…


a little wee coat/dress/sweater for a baby I know. In a move that’s quite rare for me, I decided to use a pattern right the way it was printed so that I could save time. Sadly, while I’m succeeding in knitting to gauge, I’m hating the fabric. Too stiff and closed and I dorked up the intarsia motifs. I have a feeling that this is on it’s way out.

I am comforting myself with this, which has likely ruined me.


This is my new favourite yarn. I am completely on a yarn high. It’s Artfibers “Golden Chai” (colour #10) 100% tussah silk. When I got it in the mail today from Tonia, who clearly has impeccable taste, I dumped every other project I had on the go like it was common crap and cast on something slick. I am simply twitterpated with this yarn. It’s soft, the colours are beautiful and the thick-thin action enchants me. This yarn is so beautiful that it has ruined me. Ruined any chance that I was going to do laundry today, ruined any chance that I will clean house, ruined the odds for anything other than the simplest of dinners. I can only be grateful that it arrived after I’d taken the girls for a walk and bought food, or I wouldn’t be doing that either. The rest of my day will be dedicated to knitting with this little slice of heaven and watching everyone run out of clean underpants while I do nothing to prevent it. I will distract you from these lower impulses of mine and point you to Jan…who finished her version of my Snowdrop shawl pattern out of her “first handspun yarn”.

If this is her first handspun…I’m just going to nip off and drown myself.

It’s going to break somebody.

I may not have mentioned this (and I’m sure that the blogosphere is full of mothers and fathers who appreciated me keeping quiet so that they could continue to live in a gentle world of powerful denial about it.) but the March break starts today. In their infinite wisdom, the Toronto District School Board has arranged the one week March Break so that it begins today, with a Professional Development day, and ends March the 29th. That is, for anyone who cares about my sanity…11 days with no school, and known to the Toronto District School Board (who I think have proven that they are not on my side with this latest go-round, no matter what they say when I phone them) as “the one week March Break”.

I don’t really mind my kids being around, they live here, they are occasionally charming and really, picking up abandoned apple cores, screeching “that is completely unnatural“, fighting for the phone and computer while listening to The White Stripes at ear-rupturing volumes while preparing meal after meal after meal for the ravening hoard and contemplating carbon dating for the wet towels on the floor of their rooms is actually my life’s work and far, far more fulfilling than say…working for a living, knitting or forming complete thoughts without that twitch over my eye. Sign me up.

My big plan so far is to spend a fair bit of time sitting in the living room humming tunelessly and trying not to think about it while making further progress on the garter leaf cardigan.


I’m done one of the fronts and I’m halfway up the back, and I’m still just loving it. Loving. It. The yarn…the pattern. It’s all working for me. I’m enthralled. (My pattern, Peace Fleece dk)

My sister and I doing a little kid swapping over the holiday, and we kicked it off last night when she dropped off our favourite 4 year old, Hank. You will all remember from Christmas that with our little buddy Hank, it’s all Spiderman, all the time, and share my shock when he walked in the door last night and said:

“I bet you thought Spiderman was coming to your house!”

Now, I know Hank is not dressed as Spiderman. I can see that he does not have his Spiderman mittens on, and moreover, he is not wearing the creepy Spiderman hood that he has had plastered to his head for the last five months. I don’t think I’ve seen Hank wearing anything but a pair of Spiderman jammies for just as long…day and night…so I’m sort of thrilled. I don’t have anything against taking a little dude all over Toronto in a pair of jammies and a hood, but variety is good, you know what I mean?

So even though I can see that he is not dressed in Spiderman pyjamas, I play along.

“What? Holy cow! Where’s Spiderman? Dude, what’s going on?”

With an enormous smile on his face, my supermature Hank-man, too old for Spiderman jammies, getting bigger everyday and nearly-five not four years old unzips his coat and reveals…


Batman jammies.

Hank is seen here with his favourite item at my house. Even though I have a whole house-full of lego and books and games and cousins this is his favourite thing. The ball winder. I’m sympathetic, since I have a deep, deep emotional attachment to my ball winder as well. I give him one ball of wool and he winds it into a centrepull ball, then takes it off the winder, carefully pulls the centre free, inserts it into the ball winder and rapidly rewinds it. This can occupy Hank for hours during which he only speaks to other people in the house if something like this happens.


I feel his pain. (This happened because Hank was winding the ball winder so fast that the generated centrifugal force hurled the newly forming ball across the dining room like a speeding powder blue woolly fruit bat and scared the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of me. Let that be a lesson to you.)

Hank also got the mail for me (when he was cut off of ball winding activity)


That’s sweet little spring blossom post-it-notes from Beth, to help me hold on for my own spring, (have I ever spoken to you of my irrational love of post it notes?) and the most charming little measuring tape from Jenny. The measuring tape has these happy and contented women playing with laundry and looking fulfilled on it. Clearly Jenny has shipped me a measuring tape from the 12th dimension. Thanks ladies, for the presents, and for the 15 minutes that they occupied Hank Batman.

Hysteria and navajo plying

I hardly feel like I can blog today, after the start this week has had. No kids have left the nest, I have no major life events to report…nothing. I’ve finally managed to put the book down and have stopped carrying it around the house like the holy grail, since I only have one copy, I’m still protective (read: neurotically obsessed) about it. Many thanks for all the congratulations and well wishes for its success. I’m excited about the moment that one of you gets a copy or someone sees it in a bookstore. (I have decided that going to the bookstore to wait is not appropriate). Do me a favour and e-mail instantly will you? (Someone other than me getting a book is the final proof that this is real and happening.)

Q & A from the comments:

How do I get a signed copy? Well freak me right out. Seriously? Me? Of my book?

Tell you what, let’s wait for a bit and see if the urge passes. If you still want it signed I’d wait until the list of places I’ll be trucking to is revealed and see if I’ll be in your neighbourhood. If that’s not going to work, send me an email and I’ll give you my address. You can mail the book along with a self addressed stamped envelope (or an “International reply coupon” if you don’t live in Canada) and I’ll sign the thing and ship it back. No bribes of chocolate, coffee or yarn are necessary…since the honour is all mine.

Where are you going on the book tour? Book tour? Those words make me nauseous and a little dizzy. As of this moment I can tell you that I’ll be in Memphis (!!!) on the 25th of April, and New York City (!!!) on the 28th. Details of where, what time and so on are to follow along with other places..assuming of course that my brain doesn’t explode and leak out of my right ear.

How on earth will Joe, the girls and Mr. Washie carry on? I don’t know. These are things that are not being discussed. We are nervously avoiding the issue (along with the idea the Joe would need to get up at 7:30 in the morning for several days running, a feat that has no precedent for record producer/musicians). I think it’s going to get all Lord of the Flies pretty quickly.

Nervous? Petrified. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m masquerading as an author and any minute now they are going to figure out who I really am and what my hair really looks like and that I’m really five foot nuthin and stark raving mad and rethink the whole thing. I don’t know what would be worse, cancelling, or going through with it. The only thing I’m holding on to is that you aren’t complete strangers (in that virtual buddy internet kind of way) and that hopefully at least one of you will smile at me, thus allowing me to get my arse into a chair, hold a pen and stop quaking long enough to smile back. No promises. At this moment I can promise high entertainment value at each and every one of these things, since there is an equal possibility that I will be talkative and emotionally present or that I will snap and run screaming into the street babbling about sock heels, my cat and looking for my mummy. You have to figure that’s going to be entertaining either way.

Naturally, all this angst has led to maniacal knitting and spinning and a failure to reply to email and clean the house. Big surprise.

I sat down to navajo ply the singles I spun from Laurie’s roving.


Since navajo plying isn’t as easy as a regular ply, (for me, anyway) I really need a good reason to engage in it. Basically speaking, navajo plying is a long chain stitch with twist added to it. You tie a loop onto the bobbin leader, and then pull the next loop through it, over and over, letting the twist follow along. There’s several clips and photos available where you can watch someone do this. Look here, and here for starters.

Disadvantages: (reasons why I don’t navajo ply everything)

-it’s not that easy, and takes a little more co-ordination than a regular ply

-the spun yarn is not as strong as a regular ply

-it’s easy to “overply” if you have poor wheel control.

– it is less forgiving of uneven spinning than ordinary three ply.

-the “knots” (where you pull a new loop through) are visible, especially in a bulkier single. I don’t really notice them in sock weight yarn, but they might bug somebody else.


-no leftovers, since you are plying from one bobbin of singles.

-none of the crazy making insanity where you end up making yourself squirrly trying to get your singles divided evenly onto three bobbins.

-It keeps your colours separate. Because it’s a long chain, the colour changes in the single will be preserved, just 1/3 as long.

-it makes a three ply, and theoretically speaking, a three ply is sturdier.

-Done right, (which would mean “done by someone else”) It’s sort of impressive to watch.

As with all plying the wheel (or spindle) is spun in the direction opposite to the one you spun the singles with. I cannot stress enough the importance of remembering this, since screwing it up leads to an unspun tangled disaster from which there is little recovery. (Experienced spinners are cracking themselves up over this one…but I swear that no-one told me, and I’d never seen it done…and I recognize that it is not a credit to my intelligence that I didn’t figure it out for a little while. Let’s just leave how long “a little while” was to the imagination. I thought my wheel was broken. Dumbass.)

I use the setup in the picture above, with my lazy kate between my legs so that I can draw the singles straight up. Trial and error has led me to tension the kate with a complex series of wool washers and elastic bands. If I don’t put a little resistance on the kate, when I pull the singles up through the loop the kate continues to spew singles at me and the twist kinks them up into little knots that are an enormous pain in the arse to pull cleanly through the loop. I also set the tension on the wheel pretty high, so that the wheel is pulling in one direction, the kate in another and nothing can get away from me. I can tell you from experience that if your singles are softly spun and/or very fine, you might want to forget everything I’ve just said about tension. These more fragile singles can’t take the heat. They break repeatedly causing uncontrollable bursts of foul language and yarn that sucks.


Here you can see what I do with my hands (more or less…I’m not the most co-ordinated of souls, and the picture does not describe for you the parts where I’m clutching, grabbing and tangled.) I hold the loop open with one hand, pull the new loop through with the other, and use my pointer finger on my left hand to keep the whole thing from collapsing. (Usually. I refer you to the above statement where this well designed system breaks down)

During navajo plying I find it helpful to treadle very, very slowly. Especially while you are getting the hang. For reasons that I cannot explain (possibly a doorway to the ninth dimension is involved) less twist seems necessary to properly ply this way. It could be that it’s taking the same number of treadles, but that I don’t notice because my hands are so busy. Either way, slower treadling seems to be key.

(I have now typed the word “treadle” so many times that no matter how I type it, it looks completely wrong. It probably is.) When you are finished, the twist is set the same way as with any other yarn.


Beauty, eh?

I’m thinking now about what I’ll knit with it. Socks for sure, but maybe not plain ones. Maybe fair isle with black, the colour shifting against it up the leg? I can’t forget how lovely Laurie’s were. Suggestions welcome. It would be a pity not to do it justice at this point.

I’m going to my guild meeting tonight. If you are there and you care (or would like to pretend you care), I’ll have the book in my bag. If you promise to be careful I might let you hold it and look at some of the pages. Maybe.

I believe

The whole time this book thing has been going down I’ve been waiting for the punch-line. I’m a person who deals pretty well with disappointment (knitting has it’s purposes) and even though the whole thing with writing a book seemed real, I reserved judgement. Sure, taking the manuscript and paying me and flying me to Massachusetts seemed real, and certainly if it were a joke it was an extremely elaborate one…but who knows what motivates people. Writing a book was such a dream job that I was careful not to get to invested. You never know. When they sent the contract I thought it was a good sign. When they read the manuscript I thought it was another positive move. When they had little mock-ups of the pages sent to my house I thought that if this was a farce designed to make me the butt of a very complex ruse that they were taking it a little far. Similarly, taking orders on Amazon should have meant that they intended to go through with it, but since I possess the traits of pessimism, low-self esteem and acceptance, I thought there was still a way for it to go wrong. I didn’t get my hopes up. Editors get fired, publishers go bankrupt, warehouses burn and booksellers could decide they don’t like my hair. Things happen and I was not going to be disappointed. Just because writing a book is one of the most fulfilling things that could ever happen to me and lends purpose to my existence and fills me with an exuberant joy that makes my whole self ache with happiness and excitement….

I was not going to believe. Not until I saw it.


Yee haw.

It’s a real book. My name is on the front, my picture is on the back and the words that I scribbled on envelope backs and typed into this computer are printed inside. I believe, I believe, I believe. The publisher tells me that truckloads (that’s the word she used ~truckloads~) are enroute right this very minute to the shops. I can scarcely breathe. I’m going to give one shameless plug for the book, ( I can’t help myself. I really can’t. I wasn’t going to do it and then I did it anyway.) and then I’m going to go have a lie down. With the book.

If you are in Canada, you can get the book from Amazon.ca here, or find a local independent to support here. If you are a Canadian bookseller, you can contact Thomas Allen (the Canadian distributor) to get in touch with the rep. for your area.

If you are in The States the Amazon link is here, your local independent can be found here, and if you want to sell it in your shop you can contact Storey Publishing.

Now, I’m going to go knit and read my book. I know. Even though I wrote it, somehow each and every word is freakin gripping. (I recognize that I should be ashamed a little about that, but I can’t help it. I’ll be ashamed tomorrow.)

My book. Holy crap.