Say nothing, in three examples

1. Megan (15) announced that she is going to be “Tinkerbell” for Hallowe’en and produced a dress the size of….well. Tinkerbell. I reminded Megan of the purpose that clothing serves (to provide warmth and protection from the elements) pointed out that it is winter in Canada, and asked her, really rather sincerely whether or not she was planning on trick or treating in a red light district. Megan responded that if Tinkerbell could wear a strapless mini dress in a Disney movie rated for little kids, that surely I could have no complaints with this attire. I countered with the fact that Tinkerbell in the movie is ANIMATED and had no real breasts and bum under there and also she had wings to fly away if she got cornered in an alley wearing her hussy dress, and that Tinkerbells mother must have been an idiot to let her out of the house that way.

Meg said that she bet that Tinkerbell snuck out and changed her clothes at a party because her mother was totally out of touch with everything that mattered.

I took a deep breath and said nothing (a huge parenting skill.)

2. Joe had the phone with him while he took a bath today, since he couldn’t take the chance of missing an important call. (I actually believe that this was more because he was playing a game of phone keepaway so that I couldn’t call anyone and thusly shift the balance of phone possession, but I have no hard proof.) Halfway through his bath he decided that he could give up the phone for 10 minutes and called me to come get it. As I started up the stairs I heard him making another call and turned around and went back into the living room. A few minutes later he sang out to me again that I could have the phone, and I went upstairs and collected it.

Me: Thank you.

Joe: No problem. Why didn’t you come get it when I called you first?

Me: Because you were using the phone.

Joe: Not really.

Me: How do you “not really” use the phone?

Joe: I wasn’t.

Me: You were.

Joe: It was just a quick one.

Me: Is this phone wet? This phone is all wet!

Joe: Not really.

Me: Not really? It’s an electronic device and it’s all wet. Water and electronics don’t go.

Joe: It’s ok.

Me: How is it ok?

Joe: It’s low voltage.

I said nothing (an excellent marriage skill.) I just dried off my phone, and I knit.


3. Phone call with my sister this afternoon:

Me: How are you?

Erin: I’m exhausted. I’ve had quite a day.

Me: What were you doing?

Erin: Drawing chalk outlines of a friend in a hundred dead guy poses on sidewalks all over Toronto.

Me: Why?

Erin: Steph…it’s glow in the dark chalk.

Say nothing. Knit, knit, knit


Happy Hallowe’en.

Not for lunch.

For about six years now, Joe has owned a custom built recording studio here in Toronto. Designed perfectly, it was 2600 square feet of the stuff that music is made of, and every inch of it packed with things that make music geeks all excited. (I know there are music geeks out there and some of you are going to ask me now what these things are. I don’t know. I hear words like Studer, Neve, Drawmer and McCurdy. He speaks of Analog and tubes and resisters. He can’t explain the fleeces in the basement, I can’t explain the boxes at the studio. It’s an understanding.) This studio isn’t just a business for Joe, it’s also where he has his stuff. It’s where he talks on the phone, it’s where he can take things apart and leave disassembled stuff in a box on his desk. It’s where he can have paintings I don’t like and posters I think are stupid…it’s his space entirely, and it keeps me from having to have all of that stuff in our tiny house. It’s good. Really good. I work here where I have manuscripts and wool lying around, he works there where he has albums and wires everywhere…nobody gets in each others way. (Much. There is a small issue with my office also being his home and whether or not that means he has the right to sit in my office chair and touch my desk hang out here during any part of my workday, but I’m sure that by the time I’m 84 we’ll have hashed that out.)

This month, however, Joe’s landlord suddenly decided that he was not going to be in the landlord business anymore, and whammo, Joe doesn’t have a business any longer. (I really think this is harder to take than a bankruptcy. Closing a successful business bites.) Joe will start the business again when we find another location to build a studio in, or maybe Joe will begin a venture of another nature, but these things take months to sort out, and until that happens Joe has had to vacate the old space. There are three problems with this.

1. Joe is unemployed freelancing now.

2. Joe’s stuff is EVERYWHERE. All the big stuff, consoles, tape machines, that kind of thing went to storage, but if Joe’s going to freelance, a lot of his equipment needs to be set up and accessible, and that means this is in the kitchen.


This is in the basement. (Formerly known as the house of Washie)


Worst of all (and a clear violation of home sharing rules) this stuff is in my office. My sweet little office, my room of my own…


My space. (There is yarn and needles in that cupboard…now totally blocked by sound equipment.) There’s even more in the backyard waiting to come in.


Joe is working hard to move stuff in and out, but right now it’s a lot of traffic, all through the tiny office I’m clearly not going to be working in for a few days.

We have a 1300 square foot house with a family of five in it, and even just bringing part of a 2600 square foot studio into this place is way, way too much. (Truthfully, if you have a family of five in a house this size, a bar of soap can be a difficult addition to negotiate.) If one more thing with a resistor or a transistor comes into this house we’re going to have to start going outside to change our minds…and that’s not even the worst of it.

3. Joe is home. All day. With me. In this house, which, during the day is not in fact our home, but my office. He is drinking coffee. (That means I keep going into the kitchen and finding no coffee. That is a problem.) He is talking on the phone. (It is daytime. Nobody should be talking here.) He is turning on the tv (Dude? No tv in the office.) He is organizing his stuff….well. I can’t really complain about that. Not if I want the kitchen, office and backyard cleaned up, but you know what I mean. I love this man, I really do, but this is My Space. I work here. I write here and there should be no other people drinking coffee while talking on the phone in my space. I feel sure of this. So sure, in fact that I am hostile and edgy, annoyed and bothered – as well as locked in the bedroom.

This is not part of my system, and I really do like, love, need my system. The system is the only thing that helps me get anything done at all. I know this is temporary, I know this is necessary and I am certainly ever so sympathetic to how hard this is for my darling man. I have taken deep breaths and unkinked my shoulders and I am working hard to remember that this sort of thing is part of being a team…but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m on a deadline and there’s a hairy coffee drinking dude surrounded by wires and tubes talking on a phone in my our office.

I’m reminded of my Great Aunt Helen. My Uncle Don had finally retired and after 50 years of marriage and spending her days alone I wondered how Helen would like having Don home with her all the time. I called and asked her how it was going. “I don’t know dear” she sighed “I have to tell you, this might not be working out. I really married Don for better or for worse… not for lunch.”

I get that now. Reach over that amplifier and pass me a coffee.

In no particular order.

I’ve tried, but cannot make the things I wanted to talk today go together about in any sort of a charming and cohesive way. This established, I shall no longer attempt it. Be prepared for galloping segueways and hopeless lack of reason.

1. KnittyOtter writes:

Do you have an itemized inventory list of your yarns/roving/kits or anything? With so much it can be a bit of a hassile to dig through when you want to find something.

Sorry. I thought I could answer this but I’m laughing too hard.

(The short answer would be “no”. My Stash is of the Free Range variety.)

2. Juno and I took the sock to Princeton. She’s been bugging me to post pictures, so to appease the woman (plus I am sucking up so she will leave me her new wheel when she departs this earth) here they are.





As an aside, I noted while I was there that Princeton is exactly the sort of school that reveals all my biases. I see all that ivy and architecture and (Independently of their educational reputation) I think “Wow. You could really learn something good here.” I’ve probably seen one to many movies.

3. I finished the Harlotty socks.


Pattern: Feather and fan sock from Socks, Socks, Socks. Yarn “Harlotty” colourway in Socks That Rock from Blue Moon (if you email them I hear tell that you can get your own skein.) A note about this pattern: I don’t know what mystic thing warps the time space continuum when you start…but these are the fastest socks in the world to pull off. I can’t explain it. Totally trippy.

4. I am knitting new socks. These socks. These incredible socks.


These are the Kitri Socks from The Tsock Tsarina, where I had a wee accident at Rhinebeck. I am in love. The sock is knit in a fan pattern that’s a trip and a half, but the real excitement is the lace cuff. The beaded lace cuff. The beaded lace cuff with the beads PRE-STRUNG on the yarn. (Sorry. That last thing was the clincher for me.) I am delirious with the joy of it.

5. Note to whomever ate the last Jamaican veggie patty from that freaky good shop in the downstairs of Bathurst Station that I had in the fridge for my lunch: It should be that the wife, mother, organizer and Commander in Chief of this family that can put a savory pastry in the fridge for later without fear that the plague of teenagers who come in and out of this house at a thousand miles and hour will scarf it down while I knit a sock, sleep, bathe or earn a living with which to purchase the groceries, housing and pants that you so desire. I do not know which member of this family ate it…and judging from the wave of denial I encountered during the first stage of my investigation this morning, I suspect that I shall never know, but let each of you understand this.

I’m watching you, and I am not above laying a trap.

That will be all.

The Plan and How it worked.

I left Toronto for Rhinebeck with a pretty good plan for wool shopping avoidance. I recognized in myself my susceptibility to become overly excited in the presence of wool (I blame fumes) and my special vulnerability to the ways of other knitters. I’ve got stash issues lately, and I’m trying to reel it in. I’m not stash dieting, because we all know that works with wool about as well as it does with food. (Lose two pounds of merino, gain four of mohair because you felt deprived.) Nope, the only answer to getting a hold of the stash is long term sensible change. These last few months the stash has outgrown it’s space and although I do not feel that it is a problem to use wool decoratively, I have issues with using it structurally, and that’s where we’re headed. (I have considered doing whatever it takes to contain the stash until one of the girls goes off to University and the stash can have its own room, but I think that when Amanda goes she won’t go far, and worse than that I’m starting to realize that explaining to Meg and Sam that they still have to share a room because “Mama’s a little loose with the wool money” isn’t going to get me that Mother of The Year Award that burn for.) Storage issues aside, there’s some really great stuff in the stash and I want to use it. Everything in there is something I adore and deserves to come into the sun a little. Burying it under further acquisition is not doing it justice. Furthermore, (the use of the term “furthermore” signifies that I have given this a great deal of thought) I have come to be convinced that the secret to living a calm, organized, spiritually centred life is possessing less stuff, and purchasing things makes there be more stuff. Therefore (another word indication thoughtfulness) I came up with a Rhinebeck plan and attempted to follow it.

Point: I would not purchase anything that I could get at a local yarn store. I would seek only the excellent and rare, the unique and spectacular. I would only buy things that I loved. Really loved.

Score: Excellent. This rule allowed for a small Morehouse Merino purchase (ONE skein…a personal best) and for a small baggie of naturally coloured baby Camel/silk roving from Fiber Kingdom that literally makes me weak in the knees. There are no camels in Toronto.

Point: I would not purchase anymore of anything that was already in the stash, regardless of other points.

Score. Whoops.


A Grafton Fiber batt. Mea Culpa. (In my defense, that was inevitable, and there is only one.)

Point: I would not purchase anything on the first day. Saturday would be for consideration, contemplation and assessment. I would simply not remove my wallet from my purse on this day, but instead admire the goods and sleep on the possibilities.

Score: Not good, but who really nails a new technique straight out of the gate. The Grafton batt was obtained on the first day, and…err…this.


This is a sock kit from Tongue River Farms. It has a book with the patterns for six really, really beautiful pairs of socks and three skeins of naturally coloured icelandic sock yarn with which one can make all six pairs. Six pairs of socks, six patterns and nearly endless entertainment for $60? I’m only human, and I’m pretty smart. It would have been irresponsible and foolish not to buy it and it looked like they were going fast. This was in my hands within about two seconds of sighting.


Successful delays include this Foxhill Farm Cormo that I “visited” four times before buying. (Four times! You hear that? I’m a tower of strength. If you could feel how soft and cushy this is you would be so impressed. Four times.) I also got this kit from Shelridge Farms, which I have wanted for three years. (Sorry guys, I don’t know what’s wrong with that link. It’s supposed to go to the Border Collie Shirt tail.) I’ve had a long running deal with myself that if it was ever there at the end of a show I would get it…and lo. This time it is mine.

Point: I would not purchase anything that I already own just so that I could use the stuff that I bought before I got home. This point was designed to stop me from buying needles and spindles so that I could cast on/spin stuff just purchased. I’m an “instant gratification takes too long” sort of girl, and have been guilty in the past of buying sock needles to start socks on the way home from the yarn store…even though I have 25 sets of decent sock needles at home.

Score: Nobody’s perfect,


and in my defense, that little spindle is exceptionally good, totally appropriate for the fibre (that’s the camel/silk) very beautiful and was made by my friend and yours, S. Kate. I started spinning that stuff before left the festival. Some things are too good to walk away from.

Point: I would not claim that yarn “doesn’t count” because it was on sale, very beautiful or present in small amounts. (Sock yarn included.)

Score: I did pretty well, with one tiny exception, but we may have to do an intervention with Cassie, since she tried this game with an enormous bag of unprocessed fleece, claiming that it “didn’t count” because it was going to the processors instead of to her home. Right. Is that a receipt in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Point: I would only use cash and I would not use the cash machine at the fair.

Score: Also well done, and to further impress you, I came home with leftover money and didn’t steal any money out of Juno’s purse while she was sleeping.

Point: I would resist peer pressure and not buy something just because everybody else was getting it.



Let’s just let that big bag from Spinners hill speak for itself. Shall we?

That’s it. That’s all I got, well. Except for this.


We’ll talk about that later. It broke a couple of rules, but it’s a sock kit, so it doesn’t count.

In the woods

Use what talents you possess–for the woods would be silent if no birds sang but the best.

-Henry Jackson van Dyke.


I think that we, as knitters (and often as women, but that’s a long and more complex thing) often diminish our skills. You make something beautiful, you sweat, you curse, you use a calculator and maim reams of graph paper, you rip, you redo, you cultivate a skill…you hang tough and you churn out something remarkable. Something that is the end result of hours and hours of your life and effort, and you feel pretty darned proud of yourself. Then someone walks up to you and says “Wow! Did you make that? That’s fantastic/complex/clever” or “You are very talented” and then we as knitters turn to them, look them dead in the eye and say “No, no…it was easy” or “I just followed a pattern” or “It’s not that hard…you could do it.”


This is an interesting thing to do, considering that we so often complain that we aren’t taken seriously as artists or skilled people, and that knitting remains largely undervalued. (We’re back to the excellent larger question about women in general again, but I’m resisting.) This desire to make everything we do seem easy, our uncomfortableness with the recognition of our talents, it’s a unique approach. Do you think this is something other people do with their skills? Do lawyers say “It was nothing”? Nope. They say “That’s $250 an hour. It took me a long time to learn how to do this.” How about National League Hockey players? No way. They cop to working out and practicing hours and hours a day. Artists don’t say “It was easy.” they tell you how they got there, and then because they have respect for their efforts…so do we.


Screw it. Knitting is a skill and some of the stuff we make is a huge reflection of the time we put into developing our skills and from now on I’m going to try and hold myself to a higher standard. I’m going to cop to it being hard when it is. I’m not going to pretend a fancy lace shawl of my own reckoning just fell off my needles the way that sweat falls off wrestlers and just blush myself off demurely into a corner.


The next time someone comes up to me and tells me they think my knitting is awesome, I’m going to do my level best to look them in the eye and say tell them the truth. I’m going to say “Thank you. It was a challenge, but I did it.”


My wedding shawl (a little late for the wedding) photographed in Washington State Park on my way home to Toronto yesterday.

Approx. 2000m Habu Textiles Shropshire laceweight on 3mm needles. Top portion inspired by a Tablecloth pattern I adapted, found in The First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, The border adapted from Mediterranean Lace found in A Gathering of Lace, and the two patterns were joined together by me in a wave of hard work, sheer luck and wizardry involving some manner of increasing and integration I shall surely never be able to repeat….

…and I am proud.

Rhinebeck Hangover

In place of words (or a very great many of them…) I give you the weekend in pictures.


Three bloggers finish their sweaters on a long car ride.


This sheep likes me.


I like these wheels.


Sheep again.


More sheep. (There are a lot of kinds.)


Stitchy signs books. (Gads I laughed. See the cookies? They are $15.95, but they come with a free book. Stitchy tells you this after you take a bite.)


Some girl playing some instrument. (Actually Hannah Mason, playing the nyckelharpa, thanks to the folks who told me.)


Bloggers fill the hotel lobby and freak out the staff.


Cate teaching a complete stranger how to spin. (Another one bites the dust.)


Bloggers as far as they eye can see at the meet-up, a good time had by all. I’m going to go lie in my new wool until my plane home.

It was grand.

Be The Pin

One rainy New Jersey evening, two knitters blocked a wedding shawl.

They started with a soak a little Eucalan and warm water.


The shawl did not disintegrate in water. (I always fear this.)

We put down Juno’s interlocking foam floor tiles (they are freaking brilliant) and ran blocking wires through the top edge. This was a reasonable expenditure of human time. Then we began to pin.


This was an unreasonable expenditure of human time. It took two quick pinners one and a half hours of total pinning immersion.


We pinned out the centre line, we pinned out the large points, and then, oh then my gentle knitters, then…

After a while, time suspended. Pins were placed. Pins were replaced. Pins were adjusted. Arses cramped. Thighs seized, Spasms set in places where we didn’t know we had places. It became almost meditative, like entering a trance to walk on coals.


Each loop of the crochet cast off was pinned out. Every. Single. One. By the end we were blurry and folded, more or less permanently into this position. (If you see us at Rhinebeck, know that it is a blocking injury that has reduced us to our crone-like posture. Waving some yarn above head level may help to unkink us.)


Each pin in place…we spritzed it with water. (It has dried a little bit much while we pinned.)


Imagine the pins. Boggle.


Pain for Beauty. The shawl, in all it’s glory is being has been transported to Rhinebeck (we draped it over our luggage in the back of the Jeep so it didn’t lose it’s block)


…where I shall take it’s portrait and wear it the whole day. I’ve very proud. It might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made.

A little free time.

I’m feeling better and I’m in New Jersey. I’m not sure if those two things are related, but I’d be hazarding a guess that you could expect that if you take a slightly flagging mum/wife/knitter/writer and absolve her of maternal responsibility, toss her on a plane, install her in a good friends house, hand her a glass of wine and promise her a fabulous sheep and wool festival that she’ll perk right up.

In fact, while I do miss wiping orange juice off the kitchen floor and arguing with teenagers because it is my life’s work to deny them all the things that would make them happy, this time away from home (I know. It’s only been a few hours, but that’s enough if you’re the one who cleans the toilet.) has already paid off.


That’s all the pieces of the Diarufran sweater, knit, but unblocked. Looks okay to me. (That’s an understatement. I love it. I love it deeply and passionately and if it does not fit me in real life the way it does in my imagination I shall be sorely ticked.) It needs a swish, a sew up and a neckband. (I am contemplating more picot edging.)


And this….


This is the wedding shawl, finally finished.


There’s a 6.5 hour crochet cast-off on that bad boy, and I love everything about it. Now, I know what you’re thinking…you thought it would look better, but do not forget the magic of blocking lace. This shawl will be a very different thing after the ritual blocking. That brief dunk into miracle waters, the adrenalized application of wires and guy-lines, the assiduous and thorough pinning of points and edges…the enraptured reveal of detail and lightness…


Oh yeah baby. Oh yeah. Blocking lace just never gets old. I can’t wait.


Sigh. I am not well, again. This is definitely starting to wear a little thin on me, although in an attempt to be optimistic, I’ve decided to note that a little illness for a knitter can be a good thing. It is an excellent excuse to sit and knit the better part of a day, and absolute permission to drink tea quietly on a cold and rainy day while making pretty snappy time on a really big shawl. (I can’t be the only knitter who has ever fantasized about a vague ankle sprain that would keep me seated and choreless for a week or so…can I?)

In the meantime, to distract you from the fact that this is a total blog cop out, I present a game. Last night Ken and Sam played Scrabble.


Here’s the board:


Here are Ken’s letters.


(Really. Bummer, eh?)

Needless to say, Sam won that game, but I’ll send some snazzy sock yarn to the person who can come up with what would have been his best option…as judged by Ken. Ken’s a pretty interesting guy. There’s no way to predict what criteria he may use. It is equally possibly that he is looking for total points scored or charm. No way to know and I’m certainly not going to fence him in.

Do your best.

(Answering Lene’s question before she asks in the comments. Yes.

Your try has to be in english. Danish is totally cheating.)

Missing time located

So all weekend long I worked on the wedding shawl.

I’m determined that even if I didn’t finish it in time for my wedding, (a disappointment that still burns a little bitter) that at least the thing should go to Rhinebeck. It would too, except it is taking forever. Absolutely forever. I knit and knit and knit, and after a good long session I’ve got nothing. Last night the kids and I rented a movie and I sat down and knit my way through the whole movie. 107 minutes. Non-Stop knitting.



Now, this surprises me because as a general rule, I’m a fast knitter.

I’m reaping the benefits of 33 years of practice, and I’m pretty darned quick. I’m not Wannietta (who is officially the fastest knitter in North America) or Eunny or Wendy or anybody like that… but I’ve got me a little street cred, and I usually don’t embarrass myself, but TWO ROWS on a shawl in 107 minutes? That’s a humiliation.


There are, admittedly, a lot of stitches in a row, but still, something is wrong with the time space continuum on this one. I would begin a row and time would practically stop. It would suspend, the stitches seemingly endless, a half a row creeping by, each second dripping as molasses. In the time that I knit a row, whole babies could be born. Kings dethroned, economies ruined. This shawl is so slow to knit on that I took to giving myself a “whoo hoo” and a cuppa tea each time I hit the halfway mark on a single row.

This shawl is going so slowly that the other day when I realized that I had miscounted the chart and instead or 8 rows remaining, I had 10, it just about broke my spirit. What is it about this shawl that’s making it so slow? It isn’t me…. See this?


Yo. A whole sock. Cast it on Friday, cast it off Sunday. That’s good time for a sock. Darned good time. (That’s the Harlotty colourway from Socks That Rock. I’m so proud of it…I think it’s really me. All seventies appliance colours. Beauty.)


More proof. The new Diarufran sweater, booting along. There’s a sleeve, a back, most of a front. See? I can too get things done. I understand that there’s a pretty big difference between a wee sock or a stockinette sweater on 4.5mm needes, but doesn’t it seem odd to you that I could do most of a whole sleeve in an evening…or TWO ROWS?

I was trying to explain to Ken that I was seriously bummed about my speed on the shawl when he pointed out that they were long rows. I thought it was nice of him to try and make me feel better, but frankly , that can’t be it either. No way. I’ve done tons of shawls, some with 400 or 500 stitches on the needles near the end. It is not a big deal, and certainly not a cosmic time-deal breaker. I reiterated that to him and stressed the TWO ROW issue. I’ll admit that I was thinking that Ken was being to nice to me, as well as ignoring the clear mystery I was trying to convey to him. In a wave of frustration, I tried to prove to him that the rows aren’t that long, and it isn’t that hard and that truth be told, I thought we needed to look a little deeper at this. Maybe call a paranormal research group that investigates missing time or something. At the very least I thought he should stop looking at me like that while I tried to explain it.

I counted the number of stitches in a repeat and counted my repeats.

Then I sat down.

Then I recounted.

Then I checked my math.

880 stitches in a row.

Never mind.