From a moving target

You’ll have to forgive me if this entry doesn’t quite have it together. Location: Los Angeles, time:


Yee Gods. It is a wonder I am not weeping.

I’m up early to catch a flight (Los Angeles to Denver, Denver to Wichita) and I’m just a little bleary. I did the LA thing last night (more about that later) and I went to bed at 8pm knowing that my wake up call would be 3am and ….it’s still awful. (There may be no way for me to get up at 3am and be chipper about it. I am aiming for “civil”.) I’m going to try, despite the early hour and it’s basic incompatibility with my base personality (and there was 8 hours between the end of an event and when I had to get up, so Jayme is still sock worthy) to get caught on how it’s been going. Simply put, it’s been great. Totally great. Seattle was my first stop and it was a blast and a half. I kitchenered the toe of the first travelling sock and began the second in the cab on the way to Third Place Books


and the last person to hold the old one as well as the first person I got to hold it was my very nice cabbie. (I loved him. He didn’t even ask me why he should hold a sock.)


Hold on, gotta get in the cab to the airport……..

Okay. Location, some car in Los Angeles…time 3:45am.

Man, was it fun. That many people is always scary, but I got up there and looked around and noticed that I’ve been there enough times that the place and the people are starting to look familiar. This is my third or forth time to Third Place, and it’s a powerful and moving thing to feel at home in a bookstore. I spoke, I lived, I went to sign at the desk and then the big fun started.



This is Susan. She’s holding a picture of herself dangling her sock in progress over a rock ledge in Peru…showing it to a llama. (See? I told you there was nothing wrong with me.)


First socks Holly,


Baby Sarah, 4 weeks old and holding her first knitting needles. (Killing two birds with one stone actually. She is both holding the sock and holding her first needles. It can only improve the future of both.)


This is Carol.


I tried several ways to get her whole project into the frame but it’s impossible. The thing was HUGE. This cracked me up. Not because the sweater was huge, that happens all the time….but because it was so much huger than. Carol had intended, and she knew that and kept knitting and even sewed it up. I love knitterly denial.

Karen is getting married next week, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer gal.


She came with Karen Jo and Ann and they brought a big (symbolic) cheque for KWB. Karen had accepted donations instead of gifts at her shower.

Lovely thought. (Karen holds an exteemed positon amoung designers. Her Rock and Weave socks are the only hting I have ever knit more than once without ever changing hte pattern. Only Nancy Bush can also claim that honour. )

Ryan finally finished her Olympic sweater. She came with TMK.


She’s the late arrival of the Knitting Olympics. (In 2010 when we do it again, she’s going to try and get it down to a year.) Not surprisingly, It is a squirrel sweater,


which likely explains everything. Ryan also did us the honour of being the hat lady.


Sorry….hold on again – just have to stagger through LAX for a while.

Right. I’m back. I think I’m going to flip out a little though. Time: 4:35am, location: my gate at LAX, Situation: NO COFFEE. If it doesn’t open at 5am I am going to have some sort of an episode. It’s got to open at 5…right? I’m going to try not to think about it.

Meet Jimmy.


Jimmy is modelling his 2nd project. A binary code scarf knit in the round out of Jumper weight wool. Jimmy is what we in the business call an overachiever. So is Molly, since this is her first sock.


(These people have just never heard of a learning curve.)

Joan and Heather brought me a washcloth:


Which, since the knitter in question is a woman after my own heart, was still damp, having been blocked in the bathroom at the bookstore.

This is Marti’s daughter Shannon. She is a young and lovely knitter, and I don’t know if it shows in this picture,


but she’s keeping her yarn under her HAT.

Marcia is my stalker…I’ve met her a bunch of times. (Once even in Alaska. I half expect to see her today.)


Dawn demonstrates a fine and noble level of geekdom in her Jayne hat.


and Jacob….


Jacob likes to take pictures. Let’s just leave it at that.

Excuse me for a moment. It’s 5:02. I’m going to go check and see if the coffee place is open.

I’m back. Location: sitting on the floor in LAX. Time: 5:18. Situation: NO COFFEE. The place is open but the queue is so long that there is zero chance that I will get one before they call my flight. I have decided to sit here until they call the flight in 15 minutes and then resume hope that something caffeinated will appear.

I don’t know what will happen if that is not true.

After the signing, Ryan, The Mysterious K and I went out to dinner at — I’ve totally forgotten. Somewhere that brews their own beer. It’s awsome beer, and we were served by the charming CJ, who was extraordinarily good at his job. He knew good jokes, suggested wicked beer, could hold up his end of a coffee conversation, had excellent chocolate knowledge and


Had tried knitting in his past. All servers should have half the charm.

Oh, sorry. Calling my flight to Denver.

I’m back. Time: 9:17am. Location: Denver. Situation. I have had one cup of some brown water they called coffee on the flight, and just discovered that my fly has been open for who knows how long. Grand.

So, after taking leave of Seattle, I made my way to Los Angeles, where, within moments of arrival, I found out that I am very short. I have always suspected this, but Los Angeles confirmed it. I made my way to the……

Darn it….we’re boarding for the flight to Wichita…. more later, after I find some coffee.

Now I’m in Wichita…(with coffee). I’m leaving for the auditorium in two minutes. Forgive the lack of links…. I’m telling you. I’m a moving target. As soon as I find some wireless….I’ll post this.

Sneaky slowly

Here I am in Seattle, minding my own business and doing and interview, and I look down at the sock I’m working on because I can’t figure out what to do next, the sock seems to have stalled in my hands…


and that’s because it’s done. Finished.

I was so surprised that you could have knocked me over with a feather. This is the Travelling sock that I started when Casts Off came out, and it has been everywhere I’ve been since March. Somehow, even just observing the travelling sock rule, which is to just knit a few rounds after each time I take it’s picture, it’s done.

Huh. Guess you get socks no matter how slowly you knit, even if it’s only a few stitches per week.

I suppose I had better cast on its mate before I get to the event tonight. I’m a little lonely without it.

Speed kills

Thanks for helping me do my homework from yesterday guys. It’s a big help. For those of you who asked if I were going to sort out the average speed or something like that – I’m not. I’m not trying to figure out what average is.

I gave it a lot of thought and here’s my thinking. Lets say I do the math and establish a number. (First of all, I try to avoid math whenever possible, so we’re already in conflict, but lets assume I did it anyway.) Now this number, let’s call it “X” is average. Now that we have established X, all of you are going to be one of three things. Either you knit faster than X and you’ll receive accolades for no reason other than quick fingers, or you will knit about the same as X and that will make you “average” (I personally don’t find “average” much of an inspiring compliment) or a lot of us are going to come out below that number. Those of us will be “below average”and I don’t want to set anyone up (especially me) to be “below average”. (I’m already short with bad hair. There’s only so much one woman can take.)

That said, the numbers are there for anyone who wants to work ’em for their own gratification.

What I am trying to work out is the scope of normal. You are all getting socks at the end of your knitting so I know you are normal. (If you weren’t normal sock knitters when you tried get socks you would be getting hats or mittens or small knitted cows.) How far across the range of knitting speed does normal go? Here are some interesting things.

1. If we were making a curve, then one end would be at 12 stitches per minute and the other end would fall at 144 stitches a minute. (Before you go lie in the road, I think that might be an error. The worlds fastest knitter pulls in about 85 stitches to the either we need a recount on that one or we need to get his knitter to the contest immediately where the full scope and glory of that speed can be known to all humankind.) If we exclude that one, the far end of normal was more like 75 stitches per minute. For the curious, I just timed myself and came in around 55 spm “cruising speed”.

Jinxsa made me laugh when she said her speed was “Negative 40 as I did the wrong row and yanked back too far.” This, sadly…is also in the range of normal.

2. Many, many knitters felt that there was/ would be a difference between their “cold” speed and the speed they got up to with warm hands. This is true, but cracks me up anyway.

3. Many knitters gave qualifiers, “on wooden dpns”, “with Opal yarn”, “with big cables”, “on 2.5mm needles”, “throwing” or “over lace”. I thought this was fascinating, because it told me all the stuff you guys think affect your speed. (Props to Lynn S for remembering another influence on speed “37 spm, fingering weight, metal DPNs, two glasses of wine” )

Intriguing, all of it. Thanks for helping me. I’ve been knitting away on the jacket, but didn’t get much done, since last night was Knit Night at Lettuce Knit and there were things were more interesting than the jacket.

LK is having a baby boom.


That’s Jen, Joyce and Mel, all due (rather incoveniently, from a knitting perspective) all in a row. (Photo shamelessly ripped of from Laura, the only organized soul who didn’t suffer camnesia that night) The LK clan got together a few weeks ago and knit them each a blanket…


in exchange for producing us pretty babies to play with. It was a big honking baby shower. These three babies are going to be the warmest in Toronto. Sweaters, socks….hats…Joyce is the first to hold up her end of the deal, providing us with the beautiful Zoë, just 10 days old and already at Knit Night.


She was gripping to all of us. We huddled around, watching her blink, curl her fingers, touched her thick hair. I think it’s safe to say Joyce outdid herself. Sigh. Hard to believe that someday she’s going to break curfew, date and arse and refuse to do her chores, eh?

Off to pack my knitting. Flight to Seattle in a couple of hours.

Random Wednesday

1. The back of the Garter Stitch Jacket is done so fast that even I can’t believe it.


It’s knit on 6mm needles, so it practically knits itself. That kelly green you can see is not really there. It’s a trick of the camera. It’s more dirty-lime…but I can’t seem to talk the digital wonder into registering that right.


2. One very crazy part of me thinks that this means I can knit two fronts and two sleeves, sew it up and knit the collar and then wear it on the tour that starts Thursday. (That would be tomorrow.)

3. I know that’s nuts, but apparently my inner knitter is an unrealistic optimist.

4. I have been working hard to process all of the Knitters without borders emails you guys sent to rebuilt the database. There were a lot, so it’s taking a long time. I think if I can keep up my current pace I should be done around the time that I get back from tour, and then we can give out some karmic balancing gifts, including some beautiful Bohus stuff…or maybe you all forgot about that.

5. Working on the emails means there is a new total. $ 368 318.41. (I’ll update the sidebar later) That sort of money changes the world, and not in a little way, either. I have hopes of hitting a half a million dollars.

6. That is probably only a little nuts, considering what you guys have done in the past.

7. I’m getting organized for the tour, and I’m sure you all know by now that we use the events to collect hand knit hats of all sizes and sorts to give to folks in the local communities who need them. I’ve been over my tour spreadsheet (kill me) and I think I still need a volunteer to be the hat lady or gentleman in Atlanta and LA (That’s Los Angeles, not Louisiana, I have a hat lady for New Orleans.). (Do people need hats in Atlanta and LA? Is it too hot? ) This volunteer takes the beautiful donated hats all the knitters bring, from the event, to a charity that would like to distribute them. Would anybody like to do the honours? Never mind. You guys are awesome. Got me some great hat people. Knit on.

8. Can I ask a research favour for the new book of the sock knitters out there? I’m wondering how fast you knit on a sock. If you have time, could you pick up your sock in progress, check your computer time, knit for one minute, and see how many stitches you accomplished in that time? Don’t really pour on the burn, just knit. I’m not interested in knowing how fast you CAN knit (which is likely quite a bit faster, especially over such a short time) just how fast you knit at your usual, relaxed, non-deadline, just for fun speed. I’m trying to establish the range of normal. Any takers?

Good things come to those who wait

While I was at the fair on Saturday, (That’s the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters Fair, by the way, I forgot to link it yesterday) I was standing in front of the Camilla Valley Farm booth, and I was looking at all the kits for the Fleece Artist Garter Stitch Jacket. I’ve been wanting one of these for years. It strikes me as a super easy, totally wearable jacket. It would be a cinch to knit, closing as it does with a pin, or a single button or loop, and I imagine that it would be warm, fuzzy, light…the perfect thing to throw over jeans and a tee-shirt in the fall. I have given this sweater enough thought over the years that I know that I would wear it overlapped, like this. (I actually have a pretty sick obsession with that jacket too…but it’s probably best not to go into that right now.)

Lettuce Knit gets these kits in with their Fleece Artist order all the time, and every time they do I stand over the bin, root through all the colourways and then wander off. I love this kit, but I have a specific colourway in mind, and since The Fleece Artist just dyes according to her whim and ships them off…I’ve been waiting. Everywhere I go, everywhere I shop, I root through the jacket kits and bide my time. My colourway has to come up eventually, and although I can’t tell you exactly what I’m waiting for…I’ve always known that I’ll know it when I see it.

Oh…there have been ones that were close, ones with a green too green, or a brown that was too red, or ones with blue, which was right out. There was even one autumnal one that had the right green and brown and even a little rust that made it all the way to the cash register before I flipped it over and saw a spot of please-don’t-shoot-me orange. Each time I put the big hanks of yarn back without even a whimper, because I know how The Fleece Artist works. She’s over there in Nova Scotia, just dyeing her little heart out, and these kits turn out as she fancies, and one day, oh, one glorious day, the same way that a I knew that just by playing the odds game, she was eventually going to dye my perfect colourway, and one magical day at a store somewhere I would look up and suddenly, after literally years and years of looking… It would be mine.

So on Saturday I’m standing at the Camilla Valley farm booth, and I’m riffling the kits that she has and they are all very beautiful, and I’m explaining to Sandra, or maybe Emma (because I know I wasn’t explaining it to Rachel H, since she has witnessed the existential search for my garter stitch jacket kit on a near weekly basis for quite some time now) and I’m telling them about how I always check, because someday I’ll find it, and I’m telling them that even though I’ve been looking for years I’m not bummed….and I’m totally not, because I know that when the stars align and the wind blows from the west and the fullness of time is accomplished….it will appear.

I was going on about this, when Emma (I’m pretty sure it was Emma, though it all happened so fast) pointed at the bottom row of kits hanging there and said “Your perfect colourway? You mean….like that one?” and she stretched out her finger and pointed…and I followed her hand and there it was.


I snatched it up. I clutched it to my breast. I may have uttered an oath. I’m sure my pulse quickened. The green is not too cheerful. The lime is not to bright. There is not too much brown, and there’s the perfect amount of dark brown to set off the green without being muddy. It is a perfect seventies appliance colour kit, and there it was, waiting for me just like I always knew it would be.


I am living the dream.

Except for the part where then I used a non-working credit card to pay for it, but I didn’t know that then so it didn’t spoil the moment between me and the mohair.


It’s the perfect finishing-my-book-and-can’t-waste-a-brain-cell knitting. It’s like a fairy tale. The poetry. What a moment.


Ray needs a ride to the Atlanta (whoops!) HOUSTON event. Can anybody help him out?

It was stress

On Saturday I went to the Knitters fair with Rachel H. (Those of you who know us will be very impressed to know that we drove STRAIGHT there and STRAIGHT back. We didn’t get lost at all. Incredible, especially in that neck of the woods where we have previously had a very great deal of trouble.) Many of you will also know that I have been on a big yarn diet for some months now, to pay for the new stove. Realistically, I should still be on that diet, but apparently the Knitters Fair, lots of fun knitters, 50 vendors in one place and the rigours of working to finish a book are far more than I can bear and there was a serious falling down (or three) in the yarn department. Sigh.

Now, what you don’t know is that about a week ago I lost my debit card. I reported it gone, but hadn’t yet turned up at the bank to pick up a new one. Round about Thursday I ran out of cash and started waving around my seldom used credit card. I used it for a couple of bizarre international purchases as well as some Canadian stuff in rapid succession, then tucked it back into my wallet.

Then I got to the Knitters Fair (where I was not going to buy anything I swear) and had the aforementioned falling downs in the yarn department. Not having cash, I used the credit card.

Afterwards (and it really didn’t take long to get to afterwards – Rachel H. and I are nothing if not efficient) we went out for lunch where I once again produced the almighty credit card….which was DECLINED. I whipped out another one, but while I was signing I had a horrible feeling. A terrible feeling.

The vendors at the fair were just doing manual transactions. There was no way to know if the card was working at that point, it should have been working…it had been working…. I was pretty damned sure that I wasn’t over limit since I don’t carry a balance on those things, but if it wasn’t working now (which it very clearly wasn’t) then when had it stopped, and when would it start again and what was I going to do in the meantime?

We scurried home (STRAIGHT home) and I called the company. Turns out that if someone who hardly ever uses their card uses it several times in what seems to be several cities or countries all in the run of a day, it triggers their fraud buttons and the card starts being declined until they can confirm if you are really using it, or if it’s been boosted by some horror who’s trying to party on hard via your credit. It takes 1-2 working days to fix it.

I tried to explain to the guy that they had to fix it now. That those yarn people were going to go back to their shops and they were going to run the card and then it was going to be that The Yarn Harlot had stolen yarn all over the fair. I tried to explain that I am, while pretty damned fixated on yarn, not yet so far gone that I would steal the stuff….

I tried to explain about the yarn and the fair and the kits that I got and the price of mohair and that he really had to fix it…but it turns out that Greg at the card company has little or no actual power, and that poor Greg may have been a little flustered by how upset I was about yarn and the whole Yarn Harlot thing might not have gone over very big either.

It will be fixed tomorrow. I have sent emails to all the people I stole yarn from, and for reasons I can’t explain they are very understanding about the fact that I am sitting in a house full of their yarn that I didn’t pay for.

I have promised not to knit it ’til I own it, sometime tomorrow. (This is ample punishment, I assure you.)

I feel better just for admitting it. That’s me. Yarn thief.

I suppose it was inevitable.

Hope is the thing with socks on



Not the book, just the socks, though the evidence of one finished thing is providing hope for the other.


Yarn is STR “Flower Power”, pattern is “Summer of Love Lace” by JC Briar. This was the August shipment of the Sock Club, and while it’s exclusive to the club right now, it’ll be available to anybody who loves it as much as I do sometime next year.


These socks are a little big for me, for a very good reason. They are a bribe. Jayme-the-wonder-publicist, who is in charge of where I go and what I do for 8 days starting next week…loves them. Adores them, covets them deeply. When she said this, I realized that I suddenly have some leverage. After some complex negotiation, Jayme and I have agreed that if she can arrange my travel and life for those 8 days in a way that does not leave me weeping, starving or sleep deprived….

I will give them to her.

They have been knit in her size, and I am providing these pictures and this public declaration of my intentions as proof of our deal. Jayme suggested that she could have the socks if she could find a workaround for these common tour occurrences.

1. Lying on a hotel floor crying out of sheer exhaustion.

2. Having a nervous breakdown in an airport.

3. Starving (technically speaking, not eating anything except airplane pretzels for over 24 hours).

4. Going to sleep at 1am from an event and waking up at 3am for a flight.

Understandably, my standards are a little bit higher. I would like the following:

1. Eight hours between when an event ends and when I have to get on a plane.

2. No starving, with starving defined (for our purposes) as the absence of food (or the time to eat it) for a period of greater than 12 hours.

3. Absolutely no hotel rooms without phones, room service or internet access. (Also, there are worse things in store for Jayme than a little sock deprivation if I ever have drunken karaoke on the patio under my hotel room window during the three hours I have been allotted for sleep again. I know that she could never have known about that, or hardly prevented it, but someone should pay.)

4. The absence of all armed drivers or media escorts.

5. Not getting up before 5am more than 3 days in a row.

6. If there must be connecting flights, more than 4 minutes must be allotted to traverse a huge freakin’ airport.

7. If I do run into trouble not related to Jayme, like say, locking myself out of my hotel room in my underpants or dropping my shoes out of high windows, Jayme will, when I tell her about it, not laugh until I am home. (I understand that this one will be difficult, given my track record, but these are nice socks.)

8. No bookstores with only 10 chairs available for knitters.

9. No 3 hour flights with guys who want to know if I am lonely without my husband. (I know this one is mostly luck, but it’s so gross I want to try and avoid it anyway.)

10. An understanding that if coffee is not available to me within 15 minutes of my awakening I can hardly be blamed for ANYTHING.

I am willing to let her off the hook for the nervous breakdowns in an airport because they are not always her fault, and she can hardly be blamed for my continuing difficulties with O’Hare or that thing in Detroit.


Game on Jayme. Lets rumble, and remember, I know other people with size 7.5 feet.

Maybe I’ll just go for a minute

I suck at self discipline. Just suck. Last night I missed Knit Night because I’m trying to use the carrot and stick approach on my own psyche. This is tricky, since my own psyche usually sees me coming. In a desperate attempt to finish some writing work I told myself that if I made my word count goal, and only if I met my word count goal, could I go with my friends and play at knitting. I didn’t make the goal. I forced myself to sit in my office the whole time, and all I did was get totally pissy about it. Angry with myself for making rules for myself that myself apparently feels are unfair.


(Part of myself is obviously about 13 years old.) In any case, the rule is that I sit at my desk each day until the word count for that day is done. When it is done, then I can go to knit night, or yoga or watch tv and knit… but until that work is done I am to sit. I allow myself to earn “time off for good behavior”, by getting ahead of schedule, writing extra so that I can take a day off without falling behind (that’s how I got to go canoeing.) The only other things I am allowed to do at the desk are drink and eat (because my psyche is neither cruel nor hopeless) parent the children (because neglect is still illegal, even if you have a book deadline) and knit. Knitting helps me think. I choose something plain and let my fingers zouk along while I sit there. Right now, this means that I knit a lot through the day. (I think way more than I write, apparently)

I was feeling pretty proud of this level of self discipline, right until it turns out that it might be backfiring, since the more fun I miss because I am holding myself to these rules, the more angry I get, and the more time I spend sitting there fuming instead of writing. I’m starting to feel like I have myself in prison for writers. (At least there is yarn here.) Apparently I need a little more balance (or chocolate) before I get this self discipline thing down.


I am making very good time on the socks though. I am apparently never too annoyed to knit.

STR sock club socks “Summer of Love”, str lightweight, 2.25mm needles.

Hand of fury

When I got the latest STR sock club package I was heading out for camping. I made a snap decision, wound the yarn and boogied out the door. It wasn’t until I was actually knitting it in the car that I noticed that the pattern called for some things I didn’t have with me (I improvised) and wanted me to do something.

I pondered this something for a little bit in the car, and at the campsite. First you knit the cuff of the sock, then you did this “something” then you carried on and finished the sock. What was this something I was supposed to do to the cuff and why do I think it’s so funny now? (Now that I have skeined and dried and rewound the yarn?)


Wet block it.

Seriously. Do you suppose an overturned canoe and full immersion in the French River for 30 minutes counts?

I guess that’s what I get for sitting around a campsite reading the instruction and saying “I really don’t want to get this sock wet…” and scoffing. “Can’t be that important. I’ll keep knitting and I’ll block it when I get home.”


In retrospect, I imagine the knitting goddess somewhere tossing her hair with fury that I am ignoring a pattern again, and then waving her hand to overturn my canoe while screeching “I SAID WET BLOCK THE CUFF”.


Sock on the water

This weekend was a grand success. We left Toronto and drove north, headed for backcountry at French River instead of Algonquin, having been tipped off that there weren’t many sites to be had there. (I have a nightmare where we paddle and paddle looking for a good site and can’t find one.) French River is a little harder to get into, and therefore quieter. Our odds were way better. We went with Joe’s brother Chris and his lady Robyn…all the better to share the workload and paddle for help when you are gored by a bear.


Saturday was spent paddling far out, looking for a good place to stop. Just before sunset (dudes, you do not want to canoe in the dark) when we were getting pretty far out in the middle of nowhere and had seen and rejected a whole bunch of places…


and we were starting to worry, we saw an inukshuk pointing round a bend…we followed it and found, I kid you not, the Hilton of all stopping places. It was a small island and obviously someone has loved and cared for this place for many years. There was a long smooth rock point to pull canoes onto,


There was benches built by a beautiful fire pit (which someone had thoughtfully stocked with firewood)


There was a table built from a split log and rocks…


and, in some sort of backcountry miracle…


There was a seriously high end latrine. (It had an actual toilet seat. It was fantastic. I was stunned to discover that after only one or two trips into the woods without one, finding a box in the woods is like finding a spa. I never thought I would think that sort of thing constituted luxury…but there you go.) We had a lovely evening and woke up the next morning ready to take on the world. We headed down the part of the river that had either some rapids, or a very long portage. We thought we would have a look at the rapids and make a decision about whether or not it was safe. We paddled (upriver and into the wind, very rough going) and came to the spot. We pulled in the canoes and walked the rapids, trying to assess if it was doable, or…at least, if it was doable by us.


There was some fun rapids, then some swift water, then this 1 metre drop, which, while I know it doesn’t look big here, is really, really, really huge if you’re the one talking about taking a canoe over it. Joe and Chris puzzled over it for a while.


What they finally settled on was this:


We would come round the S bend after the fun rapids (class 1, for anybody in the know), and swing hard left to do the slowest part of the swift water. This would mean we weren’t going so fast when we came to the drop. We would avoid the ledge with the white water, coming down to the right of a huge honking rock, then down the fastest but simplest part and then navigate the white and swift water and the rocks after the drop. We were especially going to avoid the rocks marked with Xs. As we went back to the canoes and tied everything down and pushed off from shore, I asked Joe what he thought what the odds were that we were going for a swim.

“50-50” he said, “Just avoid the rocks my Honey.”

Well. The sock and I probably wouldn’t have pushed off if we had asked the question before getting onto the swift water.

As we came round that first bend we were perfect. We came exactly as the diagram indicates. We swung round perfect and were feeling pretty good as we came to the right of The Rock. That would be This Rock.


This picture is deceptive. The drop to the left of the rock is actually about 1m ( that’s about 3feet), that’s HUGE. The Rock is massive, extending far under the water. The part sticking above the water is about a metre as well. Big Rock. Big Bad Rock. As we came up to it, following our plan brilliantly, the wind suddenly gusted from our right and drove us over to The Rock. We hit it with the left side of the canoe and because of the shape of the canoe, that effectively rolled us over. Thus began just about the scariest 3 minutes of my life. As the canoe tipped right, I remembered everything that I ever learned. I pushed off hard from the canoe with my feet so that it couldn’t roll on me, drew up my legs, pulled in my arms, pointed my bum to the rocks (rule one: protect the head) and began a path through the rapids…sans canoe. I did very brilliantly well, yet, hit (I believe, it all happened very, very, very fast) the rocks indicated below.


When I regained control, I swam hard across the current of the river and clambered up onto the rock I took this picture from. I was stunned, as I dragged myself up, to discover that incredibly, I still had my glasses, still had my paddle (good girl) and most amazingly, due to some thoughtful toe curling on my part…. had not lost my birkenstocks. Joe was fine (better than fine, he thinks this sort of thing is big fun) as well, though he did lose his paddle and sunglasses.


We have some spectacular bruises. Chris and Robyn followed a few minutes later, having pulled harder to the right when they saw our sorry arses bobbing in the river. Our canoe (and Joe’s paddle) were retrieved


and I looked to assess the damage. My sock and camera ride here when I canoe.


The camera rides in my sock bag inside of a dry sack (a bag that is meant to keep stuff dry) but it’s not meant to be entirely submerged, certainly not for the 30 minutes that this stuff was underwater before we got to it. I was prepared for disaster.


The camera was fine, just fine. Spotlessly dry, and the only damage, other than an extraordinarily wet sock in progress and a huge bruise on my arse and arm, is that there is now a Knitpicks 2.25mm dpn at the bottom of the French River. Never fear though….


I had another sock in my backpack.

The rest of the weekend passed without incident, if a little damply. (Takes a long time to dry out from a dunking like that.) We had a fire and some whiskey,


and by the next day,my shoes were dry and all was forgotten.


We took pains to leave the Hilton campsite a little better than we found it by building an end table/ beer stand out of some found objects. and we took the time to mark the point of the island with an inukshuk to mark it as a good shelter for the next passers by. (People sometimes build these just to be art, but used right, they are pretty handy directional markers.)


We paddled for home.


It was fantastic. It was rugged. It was empowering (and bruising) as all get out.

I am Canadian Knitter. Hear me roar.

(Ps. My yarn is almost dry.)