Things I won’t be knitting today

I won’t be knitting my Josephine Top today.


Well. Truth be told I wasn’t going to be knitting it anyway. I made a big mistake the other evening (I got suckered again by “at the same time” in the directions, so I tidily made all the neck increases (wrong actually, I had to do them twice) and then after making all of them (twice) I read “At the same time….” and it was too damned late and well. Third time’s the charm. Except that while all of this was going on I totally had to put a sweater on because it was only 13 degrees out, and I suddenly the whole fire for the soy silk tank top went right out of me.. ya know? (It’s supposed to be 30 degrees with the humidex today, and even warmer tomorrow, so I guess the jokes on me there. I suppose that if I pick the tank back up the temperature will plummet again. I’m not naive.)

I won’t be knitting on my Hey Teach today…


even though the passion for it burns in me yet brightly. It’s an impulse knit. I got the yarn for it just the other day, and although I don’t usually knit with cotton or bast fibres (the lack of elasticity doesn’t please me) I’m having a pretty good time, though I did only just start. This is Misti Cotton (83% cotton, 17 % silk) and though it’s still not my favourite fibre combo to knit… I think it’s going to be one of my favourites to wear, and a lovely little bridge garment for the fall. I’m going to see if I can finish it for my next trip, which is to London on Wednesday. (Is is already too cool to wear this in London? Note to self. Check weather in London. Also, buy one of those plug things for the laptop.) This isn’t usually the sort of thing I would rush out and start, but something about this one just got me. I labour under the delusion (though the orange one did totally work out) that this sweater will let me look both professional and knitterly at the same time, which I’ve noticed is not always the easiest look to pull off. (My mother would be so pleased that I’ve considered having “a look”. I hope she doesn’t hope this is going to lead to lipstick.)

I won’t be knitting on my new socks either.


I started these the other night after Curlerchik gave it to me. I’d seen them on her needles and admired them mightily, and totally by co-incidence I had right that second started not liking the sock that I had on my needles, so off that came and on these went. (I’m sure that how much I love this colourway had nothing to do with suddenly finding the other one – which I shan’t identify, since I’m sure it’s perfectly lovely and simply not to my taste – a steaming heap of wooldung.) This is Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock colour HS04 (I appear to be on a bit of a Misti Jag. Odd that.)

No, no… I won’t be knitting any of that – no matter how much I want to, because I am a grown up, and grown ups sit down and do their paperwork when push comes to shove. Sure, sure… they rent three movies, get good chocolate and decent bottle of wine before they do it… but they sit there and do it, and that’s what I’m going to do. No email. No internet. No knitting. No internet about knitting. Nothing but trashy movies and a stack of stupid paperwork that is threatening to take over not just my desk, but my entire office and swathes of other parts of our home. In fact, there’s so much that I am starting to fear that I’ll have to issue whistles and avalanche beacons to visitors who don’t know the danger areas. I know it’s going to feel like a million dollars to have it done, I really do. I know that it’s going to set a good example for my kids about doing your stuff and not getting behind digging yourself out gracefully when you get really far behind… and in tomorrow, (assuming that this mess can be dug out of in a single day, which I have to assume, since the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.) I can return to knitting while feeling guilty about the cleaning, shopping, laundry and writing. (Actually, I can return to knitting while feeling guilty that I don’t feel guilty for not cleaning, shopping, doing the laundry or writing.)

I’m going to do my paperwork.

That’s what I’m going to do. Totally. Almost totally.

For (mostly) sure.

An Actual Conversation

Yesterday afternoon I was knitting on the subway, headed toward Rachel H’s house so that we could go up to the Aurora Guild and drink beer and eat butter tarts speak to the guild. (Good times.) I sat there, going round and round on a sock with four DPNs, and a woman and her son, maybe 7 or eight years old, got on and sat opposite me. The boy watched me for a little bit, and then turned to his mum and said

“What’s she doing?” The mum looks and me, then turns to him and says, quite confidently

“She’s crocheting”. I smile at the pair of them, and then I say to the little boy

“Actually, it’s knitting!”

…and the mum looks at me, quirks her eyebrow up, and says, in a haughty and reproachful voice:

“Excuse me… I think I know the difference.”

I was stunned. Stunned stupid. Stunned speechless (which actually happens more often to me than you would expect, considering how many speeches I give.) Who argues with the person actually doing a craft? Who does that?

I stared at her, trying really hard to figure out what to say… and I came up empty. I had nothing. Not a single word. (That’s a lie. I had a few things, but they were rude, or bordering on rude, or not particularly clever, like “Are you sure about that?” or “Nuh -uh” and I’m not the sort to be rude, or at least I’m the sort who tries to avoid it.) I sat there opening and closing my mouth like a goldfish.

Usually, when this sort of thing happens, I have a brilliant retort. Not then of course, I never have one then….but way later, maybe 3am, when I sit straight up in bed and think of a brilliant, but now entirely useless comeback. This time though, I’ve come up with nothing.

Any suggestions then, for a civil, clever comeback? What would you have said?

(Not that it’s ever going to come up again, I mean… Who says that?)


Marjorie asked in the comments yesterday if I’d finished Manon, and I heaved a huge sigh. I hadn’t. I finished all the pieces last week, and I sewed it up and blocked it… it looked fantastic really, and the only thing it needed was some form of closure. (I’m sure we can all sympathize with the sweater.) Norah’s pattern called for a hook and eye, and I raided my sewing notions box and couldn’t come up with one, so the whole process stalled out until I could get out and buy some. Some time in the last while, the Fabricland at Jane and Bloor closed (I discovered this when I rode over and couldn’t get a zipper) and I haven’t figured out a new place to go yet, so the whole thing seemed complex to me. (I am a simple creature.) I decided that it would help to bring it to Cape Cod, because I thought (?) that I might come across one in my travels. (How I thought that a family vacation might cause a hook and eye set to fall into my hands fully formed, I just can’t explain.) Sadly, there were no sewing notions on the Boston history walk, nor in the Graveyard where Paul Revere is buried, nor in Provincetown (lest I rip one from the evening gown of a guy way bigger than me, and since they were only barely covering their bits at best…) Nor was there a sewing supply store sprung up amongst the trees alongside the Cape Cod Rail Trail. In fact, I arrived back home without a single opportunity to buy a closure having presented itself. (I was a little surprised about that, which really just means that there’s something wrong with me. I didn’t even look for a store.) In any case, I was a little sad then, when Marjorie asked about it, because it was so close and yet so far… and, I reflected forlornly, ironic… since I don’t even like hook and eye closures.


That’s when it occurred to me. (I know.. I know.. but Norah Gaughan said I needed a hook and eye. She’s a goddess. I have a hard time discounting the things she says.) I could use a button. (I cannot believe that I’m writing a blog entry about the decision to switch from a hook and eye to a button. This is doing nothing to support my position that I’m a really interesting person.) I crocheted across the front edges on the inside to stabilize the edge – they flared out because of the ribbing…


I crocheted a little chain loop…

I fastened off…


and Tah Dah!


Love it. I think it fits just right, I think the colour is just perfect. One reader wrote to say that didn’t I think that orange seemed to her an impractical colour. Orange, she felt, wouldn’t match much in a wardrobe. Clearly she doesn’t own enough seventies appliance coloured clothing. This sweater matches almost everything that I own.

It’s an interesting pattern, entertaining to the knitter but still not ending up being some odd as fish freak sweater. Super wearable. Elegant details.


Manon, pattern from Norah Gaughan Vol 1. Knit from Valley Yarns Amherst. Colour “Cayenne”.

4.5mm needles.
(Also, my hair is not that colour in real life and I don’t think my shoulders are like that.)


I’m going to wear it tonight to speak to the Aurora Guild. (It’s a Guild member thing. You can read about it on CurlerChik’s blog if you’re interested.) I think this is one of the most fun sweaters I’ve knit in a while, and I feel very properly dressed when I’m wearing it… like maybe I have on an outfit, instead of just clothes.

The Point of Balance

The point of balance is exactly what I’ve been seeking the last three weeks, trying to balance out all the time that I’ve been away from the family by having tons of time with them, and trying to seek that point of balance before (rather frankly) I leave them again. Between the cabin in the woods and the tours and the wool events and a thousand other things, I have found that being a writer- and the huge amounts of privacy needed to be a writer (combined with the public stuff) is not exactly conducive to family life, being that families thrive on the opposite.

Finding that balance has been challenging for all parties. Joe had been asking me to make the family a priority for a couple of weeks for a while – to not share me for a while, and though it was hard for me to see through the neverending haze of the work that is supporting this family, I started to understand that no matter how much everybody needed me to work, they also needed me, and it was never going to balance itself out if we didn’t take the time to balance it on purpose, and this last little while, that’s exactly what we did.

As I’m sure you noticed, towards the end there I didn’t even blog – although the last couple of days were due to the fact that I got a humdinger of a cold as soon as we got back. (All that vacation can wear you out. Joe’s got it too now. The girls don’t. There’s a lesson in that.) We had a blast. Whole days without either Joe or I worrying about work or doing work, whole days without conversations being interrupted by anything other than the kids… whole conversations and days with the kids…. and the knitting? True vacations are wicked good for the knitting. Socks got knit in the car on the way to Massachusetts, socks got knit in Boston while we saw the sights and visited with Joe’s Aunt, Uncle and cousins (they were wonderful hosts) and socks got knit on a very fun day in Provincetown.


I may even have found some sock friendly Carnival Revellers to hold a sock.


(The beard and moustache with the sparkly gown is hysterical to me, as is the willingness of just about everyone to hold a sock without any sort of an explanation. ) We went for a fabulous ride on the Cape Cod Rail Trail.


We stopped and played at the beach a little.



(The truth is out now. I have Fred Flintstones feet. Short and wide.) We rode and rode, the whole lot of us.



And we ended the day the way we know how. Joe’s Stella, Ken’s Bass Ale and sweater in progress.. my sock and Sam Adams Summer ale. (When in Rome…) I finished that sock in the car…


But here’s a better picture.


It’s a pattern of my own devising, and I’m going to knit the other one after I write down what I did so I can do it again. (Yarn is Sanguine Gryphon’s little traveller, which seemed really appropriate.)


The blue trekking ones were finished too…


Trekking 108, my plain vanilla sock pattern.


and I even started a new project, even though I promised myself that I would absolutely finish the other socks first.


I am worthless and weak. That’s the Josephine Top from Interweave Knits Summer 2007, done in a yarn I’ve been wanting to use for a while. It’s the SWTC Pure 100% soysilk, and as someone who eats a lot of soy, I was really curious about knitting with it. It’s soft and reminiscent of cotton, in the way that it’s a limp fibre, almost flaccid. It’s a tiny bit splitty on the needles, but I think that I could get around that if I used a slightly sharper needle, which I totally can’t be bothered to do, so how splitty can it be, really. It’s got gorgeous stitch definition and I think the lack of body is going to work for this project.

It’s going really fast, which means that I’m not really cheating on the socks. I’m just… on a break. Yeah. That’s it. Besides, I can’t really knit the other socks until I finish the pattern, which I didn’t so I can’t. Besides it was a vacation and you can knit what you want on a vacation… and besides, now that I’ve started I should finish or now it’ll just be another UFO (Un Finished Object) lying around the house and trying to avoid that was the whole idea anyway, so If I put this down then I’m just being hypocritical. For sure. I have to knit this. It’s morally important.

(Ps. A whole bunch of you asked, so in the interest of not replying to you all individually, which I’m sorry for, but a couple of weeks off makes the inbox a place crazier than a kindergarten yard growing candy trees… No, the Baby Yours and Baby Mine patterns are not going to be made available in the future… they are available now. Here, and Here. Sorry. Forgot to mention. Also, Yes. Really. The first and second sizes of each of them can be made with one skein of STR medium weight, should it reside in your stash… and Sorry, No, those are vintage buttons from my bin and I can’t tell you where to get them. In addition, Yes, Baby Mine does have the same lace as my Lenore sock pattern, and yes, that sock pattern will be available from Blue Moon soon, it was a sock club pattern so it has to do its time as an exclusive before it can be released to the general public. Yes, that will be in October, which is soon. Did I miss anything?)

After the beep

Sorry, Stephanie can’t come to the blog right now, she is continuing to make amends to her family for all the time that she was away this last year by spending virtually every waking (and sleeping) moment of her life with them right now. (This has not begun to wear yet, but the trip is young.)

She is working on two pairs of socks at present, pictured here in the current location of Stephanie’s family.



That’s the plain Trekking ones (#108) for knitting in the dark while we drive.

These are a very nice sock out of Little Traveller sock yarn from the Sanguine Gryphon. (Stephanie regrets that she no longer knows the colour, and the colour is greener than this, but does think it very fetching.)


(We were just checking it out with Meg. No big news.)


This leafy little sock is a pattern of my own devising, but I like it a lot. Today, Stephanie is having a family adventure of the cycling kind – and will return to the blog as soon as the aforementioned family permits.

PS. There are several really good comments yesterday on the library issue, as well as more information here, and here. Keep in mind, as you debate – that we were not presented with all of the facts (and as suggested by the director – see the comment from Maureen August 19 at 8:25am- perhaps the ones we got were not even wholly accurate.

In addition, remember that this is a very, very, very tiny library – open only part- time hours in a very small community. Unlike a city library, or even a town library, there aren’t whole days to fit in programs, nor are there multiple activity rooms – or even multiple librarians. Think singular. There aren’t as many choices as there would be in a larger space, and that matters. Finally, the library has said that the video games (which would be an occasional evening, not a bi-weekly programme, like the knitting) would be part of a larger themed literacy evening with other components, not just a whack of teenagers sitting around wailing on guitar hero. This article was written by a member of the knitting group (which it turns out, is not just a group of little girls) and has – as you might expect, contains a bias towards their situation designed to make you sympathetic to the cause. ) Nowhere, in any of the articles has it said that knitting or arts and crafts is being replaced by weekly video games. Nowhere.

Finally, please, please, please, remember than nobody has ‘BANNED” knitting. It sounds like you are welcome to knit in this library, and the group is even welcome to continue the group in the library if – like the other programmes there… they make it obviously about literacy, which to me (someone who has managed to combine books and knitting somehow) makes it sound even more lovely.

Carry on.

Discuss. I give you a topic

I’ve gotten email and notes on Ravelry, and private messages and noise in the forums.. all, over this.

Children’s knitting group turfed from library under new craft ban.

You can click on that to read the article, and I hope you will before we go any further, and I hope you do, because it’s easier to discuss things with people who know what you’re talking about. In short, (but do go read it) a library in Eastern Ontario has decided to shift more of it’s activities towards literacy, and this means that they will not be using their resources to run a knitting club any more. Actually, they are not going to do any arts and crafts at all.

Now, I’ve been hearing a tremendous amount of noise about this. Tremendous, and I wasn’t going to write about it at all (on account of I don’t run the library) and because most of the mail I was getting was along the lines of “Stephanie, please organize a march with flaming torches in which we all go down to the library and right all wrongs in the name of knitting.” which… I’m sure it will shock you… I’m not really inclined to do.

Let’s lay down the arguments, and have a proper debate, shall we?


Points made against the Library by lots of people who have emailed me.

Knitting is good for the human brain, therefore, discouraging children from doing it is wrong, no matter what the setting.

The library is a community space, and the community should define its use.

The children were being very good, so who does it hurt?

Anything that gets kids into libraries is good – even if it’s not about reading.

Many education systems, (notably Waldorf schools) believe (as I do) that reading and knitting are linked activities for the human brain, and that engaging in one, supports the other. Besides, knitting has pattern reading, which is sort of about reading.

Knitting good. Lady stopping knitting bad.


Points made for the library by… well… me. Though I’m sure there’re others.

All activities run in the library take up space and staff. Since the library is not a community centre, but a municipal service to promote literacy, they don’t have a responsibility to do arts and crafts with the kids.

A library deciding to focus on literacy is not really all that shocking or wrong.

Even if knitting and literacy are connected (and frankly, as much as I wish it were not true, there’s little proof), the knitting club was only appealing to a few girls, and the library needs to shift its programme to something with broader appeal.

If the library makes an exception for the knitting club, they have to make exceptions for all the other crafts programmes at all the other branches, because who says those other kids don’t love and enjoy the value in their crafts too? I don’t think there’s any way to put back what one group loves without putting back what all kids love, and then .. well. They haven’t managed to change anything, which they must be doing for a reason.

Finally, the manager of library services has said, “If they want to knit in the library, why not formulate a book club and knit as you discuss a book?” This seems to me to be some sort of evidence that the woman is not on a personal mission to obliterate knitting or make little girls suffer, but instead seems sort of hung up on this whole “the library should be about books and reading” thing, which isn’t really that terrible, is it?


I’m the same sort of knitter as most of you. I think that knitting is really valuable, and really important, and has far more significance than most mortals know. I also think that there is almost no place and no time when knitting isn’t appropriate…. but this isn’t what we’re talking about here – is it? What we’re talking about is asking a library to run a programme that isn’t about books or literacy, and use their time, space and staff to do it.

The library hasn’t, in the end, “banned” knitting, as I’ve heard… they’ve moved their programme, for which they have a municipal budget, closer to their mandate. They aren’t a community centre. They haven’t asked people not to knit in the library, they’ve said they won’t pay for it… and more than that, they’ve said that if the little girls will give their knitting club a bookish bent, then they are welcome to carry on. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that asking the little knitting club to discuss a book each week while they knit, should they like to use the library (rather than a community centre or a home) isn’t exactly an offence that qualifies as child abuse or a crime against our grand and venerable art.

When I’ve thought about all of that (and worked through the little bit of anger I had because I do think knitting is just that valuable) I have to wonder…

Just because I don’t like their policy… does that really make it terribly wrong?

The Hurrier I Go

Sweater? Oh yeah.


The pieces are all done, but there’s been no time in the last few days to sew it together and find out if it fits or anything. I’m in the studio this week recording this book, and it’s crazy trying to pull anything else out of a day. I was seriously behind on all of my work when we got back from vacation on Monday, and now being in the studio full-time hours is totally messing with me. The fact that Joe’s here too is fun and it’s sort of neat working together again, but it means that there’s nobody even pretending to be taking care of the kids or the house.


( I know, I know. My kids are teenagers and I shouldn’t worry so much, but I really think that teens need more supervision than 11 year olds who can’t think of anything really awful to do.) The place is trashed, there’s still suitcases with laundry in them in the living room, and yesterday when we called the house and asked Sam what she was doing and how she was getting on, she said she was really busy smoking crack, drinking beer and watching Law and Order. Smartarse.

At least there’s only her to worry about, since our little Megan turns 17 today, and that’s way too mature to get into any trouble at all. Right?


Happy Birthday Meg.. see you later. Dinner’s going to be awesome.

Mostly Armless

I hate to say it, because I know that it invites the wrath of whatever weight in the universe dictates the path of knitting, but I’m still knitting Manon, and it’s going really well. Fantastically well. Not a glitch, not a missed stitch, haven’t ripped anything back, haven’t even tinked a stitch.

I finished the peplum of the thing while I was in Newfoundland, while waiting for the other ball of pink yarn to turn up, and it worked out perfectly.


I even had the presence of mind to check for errata before I started, printed it off and put it in the pattern book. It’s so unlike me. I knit a swatch, I washed the swatch, I almost got gauge, knit another swatch on a smaller needle and even washed that swatch to be sure. I’ve knit the fronts and back now, and they look great, and like the picture, and I think there’s really no problem.


There’s just sleeves to go and then I’ll have a sweater. A trauma-less sweater. A sweater that just sort of arrived. I know that by talking about how fun and easy this sweater has been that I’m inviting the knitting muses to smack me hard – something like – I finish the whole sweater in record time with no problems and it doesn’t fit, or it fits, but it looks like crap on me anyway. Or I finish and it fits and it looks fantastic, and it’s stolen out of my knitting bag by a strange and mentally ill one eyed ex-hunter, now homeless and wandering the streets of Toronto, driven to collect garments this colour by the once valuable knowledge that wearing orange could make them safer. (The sweater, by the way, is not quite this orange. The WEBS picture of this yarn is closer. I have no idea what’s up with my camera.) In any case, the straightforward nature of this sweater has left my mind free to wander, and I’ve come up with an idea.

Rachel H, Molly and I take part in a private yoga class at one of the nicest yoga studio’s in town. I like the place because it’s not too fancy or weird or anything. Just a good space with nice teachers. After months of this, we noticed that as knitters, there were certain exercises that we were good at, certain ones we could feel we needed, and we realized that there might be an interesting idea here. We talked with Rosanne (our very nice yoga teacher) and she’s agreed that we should try something.

Yoga for knitters. These will be regular yoga classes that have a special focus on loosening and strengthening arms, wrists and shoulders and helping to prevent repetitive strain injuries, as well as some general yoga that is a good idea for anyone who takes part in a sedentary hobby… like knitting. You don’t have to be a knitter to come (we think this would be a good idea for anyone who spends a lot of time sitting at a computer too) and the classes will be suitable for raw beginners who don’t know a thing about yoga and have never done it, while offering modifications to kick it up a notch for those who have experience or take to it really well.

Since I’m the one who talked Rosanne into this (she loves the idea, but has no idea how fast a knitter train can come into the station) I’m going to organize it for her until she decides if it should keep going or not. It’s a pretty unique idea, and one I’m willing to sign up for (I’m not in business with Rosanne, so you know I’m being honest here- ) since I think it could be really, really neat. Rosanne has a really relaxed style of teaching, not too hippy crunchy, but still very true to the principles of yoga – and she’s used to knitters. In any event, we’ll decide how many classes or how often to run them when I hear who’s interested. Classes will be limited to 12 people – knitters of both genders are welcome and the first one would be Friday the 22nd at 7:00. (There will be ones after that or on other days to fit everyone who’s interested in… assuming there are more than 12 of us who think it’s fun or want to keep going.)

Email me for more information, or if you want me to sign you up.


Home again, home again

While that was one of the nicest trips we’ve had we’re home today, and properly sad to have left and thrilled to be back. I’d been aiming to finish the Hibiscus for Hope socks on the trip, and totally would have done it too, except for the days that the yarn spent travelling from Toronto to St. John’s. My fault. I knew I would forget something, I always do. These socks are knitted toe up, so I divided the yarn into two balls, put both in my suitcase – then decided I would start them on the plane and took one ball out and put it in my purse, then started to think about how the plane could get delayed, or since we were flying standby, we could maybe not get on that flight and have to wait for the next flight with open seats… or maybe I would suddenly knit way faster than I usually do, and I would finish the first sock in the first two hours of the flight and be unprepared for the last hour, so at the very last second I took the other ball of yarn out of my suitcase and put it on the chesterfield beside my purse, and apparently then, walked out the door. I knew before we were even halfway to the airport that I’d forgotten it. I emailed Ken when I got to St. John’s and asked him to send it, but it was a couple of days before he could do it. Apparently he has one of those lives to live, and he doesn’t just sit around waiting to mail me yarn.

In any case, there was a bit of a lag while I waited for the yarn to turn up, and that put me behind schedule and the socks didn’t get finished in St. John’s, but on the flight from St. John’s to Montreal. I did the bind off while we waited for the flight to Toronto, and got Sam to model them in the terminal.


She was thrilled to comply, since modelling knitwear in public places while your Mum takes close up pictures of your feet is every teenagers dream.


In fact, she was so thrilled that shortly before I took this picture, asking her to please extend her feet a little more into the meagre light in the departure gate, she said “Mum, you’re ruining my teenaged years” which I know is a joke because aren’t those pretty socks?


I’m sure she meant to say something along the lines of “Darn I’m proud of you mum. You’re just the cleverest” because I happen to know that there are way more embarrassing things that this. Things like your mum standing outside the change-room at The Bay and yelling in, so every person shopping in the whole store can hear her “How are those pants in the crotch? Are they too tight in the CROTCH?” Ask my how I know. Modelling socks is small potatoes.

I’m thrilled with these socks.


That’s a shot from when the first one was done, but the colour’s way more accurate.

Hibiscus for Hope socks, a pattern for the fight against breast cancer (follow that link and pledge Ramona in the Toronto weekend to end breast cancer if you want it.) knit on 2.25mm needles from STR Rosebud lightweight.

Why the rush? Why ship yarn all over Canada and knit like the wind? Meet Elsie.


Elsie is a dear family friend, staying with Joe’s mum and dad in St. John’s while she has radiation treatment for breast cancer, since where she lives in Newfoundland doesn’t have a machine. (Small town.) She’s going to be fine, but it still totally sucks, and I thought that deserves some special socks to wear while she’s there. Old Joe flew with us to Toronto, and right back to St. John’s last night, so by this morning, Elsie should have her socks.

It’s a real pity that I can think of more people to knit these for.

Walk on the beach

Mere moments outside St. John’s is the Memorial University Ocean Studies centre – right here on the edge of Logy Bay. Imagine for a moment that this –


is where you go to school to learn about the sea. Pretty good deal, eh? (We may have been presenting this as an idea, but because we are very cagey parents we were very subtle about it and simply ran about the lab shrieking “Wouldn’t this be GREAT!!) Outside the lab (where you can’t go unless you’re a student, but doesn’t it look INTERESTING!!) there’s a big water table full of stuff from the ocean. A third year student in Marine Biology comes outside when you turn up and teaches you all about everything. It sounds a little silly, but it was one of the neatest things we did. You can touch everything (mind the crabs- they touch back) and hold everything and we loved every minute of it. Even the almost 17 year old was hugely amused.


See this?


It’s a sea cucumber. Sea cucumbers fill themselves with sea water – this one is emptying himself (herself? I suspect it’s hard to tell) of all the water because he’s nervous. (I know humans with the same problem.) When he was done he was considerably deflated, which is sort of the goal, he’s trying to look less delicious. The girl told us that if he was really panicked, he would take very drastic measures, which include expelling much of his internal organs in the same way. The idea is that the predator after him would then be distracted and eat those, and the cucumber would use that time to escape, hide somewhere and re-grow his innards. Hell of a plan really.


This is a little sea peach (I’m holding it. It was not firm.)


This is a scallop. See the black dots around the edge? Those are its EYES. (I’m serious. I wouldn’t lie to you. Plus, I asked the girl “seriously?” and she was all “why would I make something like that up?” The whole thing just seems so implausible, doesn’t it? I mean… eyes?


Sea Urchin. Very stiff, very spiky.


Sea star. (What a great colour. They were all brilliant.) The girl stroked the mouth of the thing and this is what happened.


That’s how it eats. If it finds something good, it ejects its stomach, surrounds the yumminess, digests it, then brings the stomach back in. I know that seems like a risky manoeuvre, but the oceans full of these things, so it must be ok. After learning all about this stuff, we went walking down on the beach at Outer Cove. (In capelin season, the fish “roll” on the beach. So many of them come in that people scoop them with buckets. Millions of fish. Millions.) We walked along and we all did what we liked best.


Old Joe threw rocks.


My Joe tried to remember why he left home.



Sam thought that maybe becoming a Marine Biologist would be a good job.


I took pictures with a sock. (No starfish were harmed in the making of this blog entry.) I am indeed coming along on the second sock of the Hibiscus for Hope pair, despite my yarn getting stuck in the mail. It was to be delivered on Friday, but that ended up being Regatta day, and that meant that it wouldn’t have arrived until the next mail day, which was today (Monday.) Being a city girl, I thought that there was nothing that could be done about that, but I forgot where I was in the world. Joe called down to the National Purolator office on Friday, got the number for the St. John’s office, explained how much I really wanted that package, and they went into the back and fetched it for him, and he picked it up from the depot on Saturday. No issues.

I couldn’t believe it. “Welcome to Newfoundland” Joe said.

PS. For all of you who noticed my eldest daughter Amanda missing from that family photo yesterday… Yup. She’s not with us. She’s 19 now, in between her first and second year of college and working this summer. No time to lolly-gag around with all of us. I miss her a lot. I keep thinking “Amanda would love that” or turning to tell her something. Funny, I thought my kids would go on vacation with me forever.