Last night in knitting

I tried to count to 130.

I was casting on for the second piece of Norah Gaughan’s “Flow” tank top, because it seemed like I should finish that before the snow flies. I always feel stupid when I start a tank top at the beginning of the summer, imagining it a useful thing, and then finish it in just enough time for it to be a ridiculous garment. Not this time. I’ve got the front done (or maybe it’s the back, they are both the same) and that means it should be a really quick dash to the finish. I sat down to cast on 130 stitches, and 10 hours later I had what I believe is the right number.


Ten hours. That’s about 9 hours and 59 minutes longer than it should have taken, and I have no explanation beyond the fact that as much as I love summer, my brain may actually have been poached last night. Toronto continues to be a scorching place to be, and last night it didn’t even help that the burning day star had gone away. It was sultry and hot and steamy, and as romantic as the unrelenting heat is (and it does hold its charms, especially to a city that has as much winter as we do- don’t let my complaining steer you wrong.) It does influence ones intelligence. There is nothing to do in this heat but lie about drinking things like ice water with fresh mint leaves in it… and here I hauled off and tried to count to 130.

I cast on as I counted, got 130. Recounted to be sure, got 118. Added enough to come up to 130, got 140. Took away 10, got 123. Counted again. Got 125. Counted again and got 126, and at that point I went upstairs and sat in cold water in the bathtub (that’s why it’s sitting there) until I could remember my middle name, then came downstairs and counted again. 125. Excellent. Added five, got back in the bath and then went to bed. This morning I counted and I had 129, added one and got 130 twice in a row – which was good enough. 10 hours. Seriously. I can’t believe it.

This morning, after yet another cool bath and a little sleep, I can think of at least 3 good ways that I could have done that. I could have slipped a marker onto the needle every 10 stitches… could have marked of sections with the tail of the yarn, could have… Ok. I can only think of two, but my point is that 10 hours for a grade 3 counting job? Should I really be in charge of this family? (Wait.. yeah, that’s it. I’m incompetent and should be immediately relieved of duty. Lets start with dinner. I’m probably not bright enough to be trusted with the stove. Should order in. Also, that washing machine looks complex…)

In any event, Now that I’ve done the hard part, the back of this should whip along. I’ve got something to do today that isn’t spinning wheel compatible, should make good time on it. The heat hasn’t effected my ability to spin much… except for at the height of the days heat, and I actually think that my inability to think might have helped me on this last skein. I started with 120g of combed top from Mind’s Eye Yarns, though I don’t remember the name or brand. (Better notes, must take better notes. Hey Lucy? Do you remember what this is?)


I fall for top like this all the time, mostly because I forget that it drives me mental to spin it. I always end up with something muddy with all the colours mixed too much, when really what I want is yarn that resembles the roving. Usually what I do is spin the top exactly as it comes. Actually, I spin the top exactly as it comes while cursing profusely because I am essentially a woollen style spinner, with a preference for long draw. This style of spinning is (I think… although I’m only going on my experience here) a really bad match for top. Top is combed rather than carded like roving, and that means that it’s very straight and slippery. My personal spinning style (which I appear helpless to change despite all efforts) just leaves the wheel grabbing this sort of fibre out of my hands no matter how lightly I set my tension. This time though, I broke all the rules because I was just too hot to care.

I steamed the top first – using moisture to restore the crimp to the wool and give it a little more of the resistance of roving. Then I pulled it into strips and started spinning. I didn’t worry about the colours, I just ripped off pieces lengthwise so I could spin “down” the colours instead of spinning across them. The bobbin didn’t look as promising as I had hoped it would be,


Though there was definitely more colour separation than I usually get in this sort of top. When I had it all spun up.. no thinking, no worrying, no trying to arrange things… I Navajo plied the lot, and wow. Did I get a surprise.



I couldn’t have planned it better. After years of trying to make this sort of top turn into the sort of yarn that I wanted, it took a heat wave that robbed me of the ability to overthink to give me results I love.


150m of worsted weight 3ply, 120g, wool.

I adore this yarn to the point of distraction. Distraction. It’s beautiful and fluffy and squishy and If I spin nothing else during the Tour de Fleece, this will make it worth it. It’s on my desk and I just keep squeezing it and touching it and marvelling at how interesting each little strand is. See?


Sigh. My precious.

PS. I keep forgetting to mention that I’ll be at the Bathurst Clark library (900 Clark Ave West) in Vaughan on Tuesday July 22nd at 7pm. It’s free, but you do need to register (so they can get you a chair) by phoning the library at (905) 653-READ. It’s going to be a smaller event than I’ve been doing, and I’m thrilled by that. I’m going to read a little from the latest book, and then I’m hoping the rest of the time will be filled with a really fun Q&A. Please think up a question for me, and come on down. (It’s air-conditioned.)

PPS. No baby yet.