The other day, in the car on the way back from the Knitters Frolic (big fun – got a little bit of really nice stuff too) I said out loud something that I’d been thinking for a few days.

I think I have too many projects on the needles.

Now, this is an odd thought for me. It’s actually the first time I’ve ever thought it. I regularly have rampant cases of startitis, and I cast on pretty much what pleases me and chug through it all any way that I want to. Any way. I don’t feel pressured by it, I don’t have “rules” about how many things are too many things… I just do as I please. Knitting is my lifestyle my hobby, a pleasant pastime and I like it. I’m just not the sort who feels at all guilty about how I “should be” knitting, or how many things I should be finishing… or when. I know that there are other knitters for whom it’s the opposite. Knitters who feel way more comfortable with having only one or two things on the go at any one time, and feel pressured an overwhelmed if the numbers get too high. I can’t relate to them (or so I thought) but I can respect that we’re all different and that one of the great things about knitting is that it’s just so…. personal.

There’s no right number of things to have on the go at once. It doesn’t make you a paragon of restraint to be the sort who likes to keep the herd culled, and it doesn’t make you the knitting equivalent of a hussy with no self control if you approach it like I do. “Yarn Harlot” was the name I came up with originally to celebrate the fact that I’m not particularly yarn/project monogamous. I keep a lot going on, and I like it that way. Until really, really recently, that is.

Sunday, I felt like there’s so much. Tons in fact, and it was weighing on me. Here’s what’s currently on the needles.


Plain socks, carried around in my purse. (My basic sock pattern, and Creatively dyed yarns – I’ve misplaced the ball band, (but know that it’s got cashmere in it) so can’t tell you the colourway, but I think the dyer lurks around here… maybe she could shout out if she recognizes it? I’ll fix the link if she does.) And yes… because someone will ask, that sock is in one of the really excellent Tom Bihn yarn stuff sac with the really cool clear bottom, and yup, I do have one of their knitting bags and yup again… it’s absolutely awesome. Also, yes. I have read the tag.


Niagara Sock from The Eclectic Sole, cast on to replace it’s first version that was the sock that turned out a mystical 23″ around the ankle. (23 INCHES. Still can’t figure that out.) It’s in C*eye*ber Fiber Sock, colour a fetching spring green called “May-belle”.


The Miralda Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia. (Love that book.) Knitting it out of the profoundly scrumptious Toots le Blanc merino/angora blend.


Cabled cardigan (#19) from Vogue Fall 2006, knit out of Cascade Ecological wool.

There’s more too. Stuff that’s been out of the queue for so long that I’m not counting it (Gansey, anyone?) and that stuff I’m not really bothered by. Each of them has a reason for their “time out”. That stuff there, that’s just the stuff that’s currently competing for my time and attention, and the lot of them make me feel like I’m totally not getting things done. Like I never finish anything. Like I’m behind, or not accomplishing anything – which is totally not true. I mean, one-at-a-time knitters do seem to finish things faster, but they don’t really. Total knitting time is total knitting time… and we’re all going to finish whatever we’ve got time for and knitting 4 things in two months is knitting 4 things in two months whether you knit them all an once or in a row… right?

Then it hit me. I’m not overwhelmed by the number of projects. The number of projects is fine. Always has been. I feel like I’m getting nothing done because my knitting time has evaporated. Poof. Gone. The deeper I get in with the Sock Summit, the more the knitting time disappears. I used to knit while I was on the phone. Now I engage in a death match with a database while I’m on the phone. I used to knit while I read my emails, now my emails are a big whack of customer service questions in another inbox… and I’m typing while I read them. I used to sit down in the afternoon for a little bit of a knit, and now I can’t find any time in the afternoon because dudes, the afternoons suddenly seem a whole lot shorter. I used to cook dinner and knit my evening away, and now I’m dragging myself away from my desk at 10pm – knitting for an hour and then falling into bed.

I don’t have too many projects. That’s not what’s happening. I actually have LESS KNITTING TIME.

Considering that I’ve always said that knitting is what moderates a lot of my less desirable personality traits (impatience, short temper, work-a-holic tendencies, occasional thoughts of violence) I think that this development should scare the crap out of everyone… especially those who live with me. If this keeps up, I could become a danger to society that makes the swine flu look like a cupcake party.

I’m going to go and knit for 15 minutes right now. It’s a public safety issue. Maybe I’ll even work on one thing for a day or two. See if it helps.


We’re doing a random Wednesday on Tuesday, which is really random which totally is in keeping with the spirit of the thing, so there.

1. I took down the 2008 tour page and put up the 2009 tour page. I’ll be out and about a little bit in the next month or so. I’m looking forward to it.

2. That’s a little lie. I’m really looking forward to being all those extremely good places, and very excited about all of you guys, but deeply regret that I cannot teleport to them, since the travel fills me with an unholy dread I usually save for spiders.

3. Speaking of spiders, there was a very big one on the ceiling over my desk yesterday, so I avoided my desk. This morning when I woke up… it is gone. This is worse, because it could be anywhere. I hate that.

4. I hate that for the sake of growing strong and fearless daughters, I have to pretend not to be a neurotic mess about the spider that is lurking around here. I suck at it, and keep visibly flinching away from things like lint. I wish it would just show itself so we could come back to a stand-off.

5. I decided that I had too many things on the needles and that I totally had to finish some before I started something else. The multiple projects were weighing on me.

6. So I started some spinning. (I don’t understand me some days either.)


(Dicentra Designs, Hand painted Fibre. Blue Faced Leicester Top. Colour – Rohan. Way less neon in person.)

7. At least I was spinning on a Tuesday, which is totally not random and is somewhat reassuring.

8. The Class Schedule for the Sock Summit is up. I would be hugely relieved, but the to do list is MASSIVE on this one, and finishing a task only seems to emphasize the difficulties ahead. I hope I do a good job and that I am sane when I am done.

8. I am not worried about the swine flu. I feel very alone in this. That makes me wonder if I am missing something.

9. That makes me worry.

10. I really wish the sweater I’m knitting now was done. I’m a little cold. I don’t get why I always think that if I’m cold I should knit a sweater. It’s way to slow to help.

No, Really

There have been several comments and questions from people asking if truly, the sock that I frogged from the last post was really “that big”. Many of these comments came from people who, while they were not oversized transvestite sumo-wrestlers, did indeed have a body image that told them that if I was indeed knitting a very large sock, that I shouldn’t frog it, because it would fit them – or somebody.

Many people pointed out to me that yeah verily, humanity comes in many sizes, and that me, an admittedly small footed human, could perhaps not accurately imagine the largeness of others. While this may or may not be true, I offer the following photo of the enormous sock to prove that I am not misjudging “large” and am indeed saddled with a sock that possesses immensity that cannot properly be imagined without a visual aid.

Therefore, I present to you a picture of the sock off of a human foot:


(which I know doesn’t really look like I have knit a continent-cozy)

And a picture of the sock on the foot of a person with SIZE LARGE FEET, with AN ARM INSERTED ALONG WITH THIER LEG. Please note that the arm is not in contact with the leg or foot, and that indeed, some other things wider than a sheet of paper could likely also be inserted. I toyed with the idea of two arms, but felt that it would crush my spirit if it were truly possible.


If you know someone this would fit… let your soul fill with fear, and then RUN.

I rest my case. Big sock.


Four days ago, I stuck up my head from the mess that is my current sweater and thought, you know what I need? A nice pair of socks on the needles. I’ve always got a plain pair chugging along, I keep it in my bag and whip it out when I’m standing, walking or waiting, but I like to have a fancy pair going too, just for knitters interest.

With Viper Pilots done, there was space in the queue, so I snagged Janel’s book of the shelf, picked a sock and dove into the sock yarn stash.

I came up with the Niagara pattern and some very pretty sock yarn from Red Rocks Fiberworks (It’s Snowmass) and charged ahead. What follows is a transcript of what happened since then.

Day One

Damn. This is pretty sock yarn. Damn. This is a pretty pattern. I know! I’ll put them together and have a damn pretty sock.

Day One: moments later.

This sock yarn is a little fine for this pattern. Hmm. This might not work. I think that I shouldn’t start these socks because this is a really bad combo. I’ll think about that while I keep winding.


I think I really screwed up here. This pattern calls for larger than average gauge. This yarn is thinner than average. I think that making gauge is going to be a problem that I can’t solve. I think I should frog them. I’ll think about that while I cast on.


I was so right. This sock looks like the dogs breakfast. I think I should frog them. I think I’ll try going up a needle size and keep knitting.


Bloody wing of moth. This is terrible. The gauge is super loose. If these socks fit they are going to be worn through in less time than it takes a hummingbird to think about flowers. I think I should frog them. I’ll start the second repeat of the pattern while I think about that.


This is terrible. These aren’t going to fit. They’re huge. I think I should frog them. I think that while I keep knitting, I’ll try to pretend the person I’m making them for has huge feet.


Day Two

I think these socks got bigger and looser in the night, they aren’t going to work out and I should frog them. Some people have really huge calves though. I could find a person with legs like tree trunks. I think I’ll think about how huge calves can be while I keep knitting.


I bet Sumo wrestlers have big calves.


Do Sumo wrestlers wear turquoise lace socks?


I should frog these. I don’t know any really big cross-dressing Sumo wrestlers. I think I’ll keep knitting while I wonder what do do about this. After all.. I’m at the heel.

Day Three

I should frog these socks, but if I go down a needle size now that I’m at the heel, then these might fit an average size cross-dressing Sumo wrestler.


I should frog these. I don’t know any average size cross-dressing Sumo wrestlers.


These really need to be frogged, but it would be a shame now that I’m almost finished the heel – besides, I shouldn’t rip in the heat of the moment like that. I wouldn’t want to be hasty.


Now that I have the gusset stitches picked up these are really big. Also, there’s no denying that not only is my gauge off, but that you really shouldn’t be able to see the TV through two layers of knitting. I should really frog them. They look like fishnet stockings. Maybe they’ll get better if I keep going.


Really loose fishnet stockings. I should really frog these. These socks are not socks. Lacy ski- boot cozies maybe, but not socks. I’m almost done the gussets though. I wouldn’t want to waste all that work.

Day Four:

There is absolutely no chance that these socks are going to work. They are terrible. They don’t fit, I didn’t get gauge, I paid no attention to the yarn the pattern recommended and I have chosen the wrong yarn. These are wrong. These should not be knit. I can’t allow this to go on for a second longer. I can’t believe that I’m halfway down the foot and it’s just now that I’m noticing all this. What a waste of time. I wish it had occurred to me that I should frog these before now. I have just got to pay more attention to my knitting.


I had another blog post planned today, but just learned that Kay has lost her husband, and my sock rant doesn’t seem relevant anymore. My sincerest sympathies to Kay, her children and everyone who has to learn to live without him. What a shame.

Corrections to the Errata

I like to think of myself (and even though there is some persistent evidence to the contrary) as a pretty clever cupcake. That’s why finally, after 36 years of knitting, when my knitting doesn’t look like it should, and I’m pretty sure that I’m doing it right, I accept the possibility that it might not be me, and I go looking for errata (corrections) for the pattern.

This marks a big change from the way that I used to knit stuff, which was to rip it out and reknit it 47 times as a quivering heap of dejection, berating myself for not being able to get it right, absolutely convinced that I couldn’t knit my way out of a paper bag – until finally accepting that there really is only a couple of ways you could possibly interpret the instruction “Knit 37” and conceding that the mistake might belong to another human.

It’s refreshing. Also refreshing is the way that if you look up a pattern on Ravelry, there’s a little yellow triangle that warns you if there’s errata for a pattern so that you can even avoid that whole ego shattering first step in the first place. That means that when I decided that the next thing I would knit would be a cardigan from Vogue Fall 2006 (That’s a Rav link.) I noticed the Errata triangle thing and took note. Now, If you take a good look at how this sweater looks in the magazine (and if you don’t have it, Kirsi at Oddcherry has a great picture) you get a pretty good idea of how the cables and such should go on. Now, call me a traditionalist, but I think that the charts in the pattern should produce the cables in the picture, so when I saw that there errata symbol, I clicked on over to Vogue’s Errata section, printed the correction out and got on with the happy business of knitting this sweater properly. Alas, not so much.

As written, the pattern has you produce a cable for the left front that looks like this.


As written, the pattern for the right front has you produce a cable that looks like this.


Oh dear. One of those two is wrong, since on the pattern, the right and left fronts match. Well, Vogue knows that, and on the errata page, they smartly indicate that there is an error in the pattern on the left front. The cable on row 13, they say, should go to the left, not to the right. Awesome. Errata saves the day and I am relieved of the trouble of sorting this business out. Now the reknit looks like this:


Which is eight kinds of great, because now that the left is corrected- both sides match and are a mirror of each other, which is a very nice touch. Love it… except… in the pattern photo, the cables look like this:


That means that (get this, this is where it gets good)

1. The pattern for the left front is correct as written.

2. The pattern for the right front is wrong, as written.

3. The errata corrects the left front so that it isn’t correct anymore, which makes it now- wrong.

4. Fortunately, since the right front is already wrong, making the left front wrong now makes both of them match, which means that in a manner of speaking, they are both now correct, as long as you don’t to make the sweater in the picture, in which case both the left and the right are now wrong and things are twice as bad after the correction.

5. The errata is wrong, and corrects a right thing (on the left) to make it now wrong.

6. The right side is wrong, and the left side is right, so the errata to the left now needs to be right, both technically and figuratively.

Get it?

Good and Bad


The screw on my wooden swift is cracked.



Absolutely nobody in this house is responsible for that happening, which makes me crazy because it means that at random intervals a complete stranger seamlessly jimmies the lock on our house, breaks in under cover of darkness glides soundlessly through the unlit living room – overlooking the possessions of every other member of the family, until he finds something that belongs to me. Then, he messes with my stuff and gets out again. He is heinous and does not only break my things, but eats food that is clearly known to be a treat for me, drinks all of my favourite juice, spills things and leaves them to congeal in sticky masses. While I was in Port Ludlow this last time, he actually entered the house, went to the fridge and knocked over both a jar of apricot jam and a jar of curry paste, ensuring that both combined and created a slurry of amazing disgustingness that greeted me on my first examination of said appliance. (Actually, the smell tipped me off.) Unfortunately, not only was the family not aware that he had done this, they had not noticed (or smelled – which is hard to believe – but true none the less) that this had occurred until I returned. This time the skulking rat-bastard deliberately sought out one of my most valued tools, and bumped or leaned against the swift knowing full well that this would crack the screw piece. I know this seems unlikely, and that it is more probably the consequence of family life, but as every single member of my family denies any involvement OR even proximity…. it is the only possibility that remains.


Joe went so far as to say that it wasn’t even possible that he broke it. That everyone else in the family might have broken it, but he couldn’t have. He could not have accidentally bumped it, knocked it, leaned against it… those follies are for other people. He is simply not that sort of person.

Me: “So any person who has entered this house could be responsible for innocently and accidentally breaking the swift… but not you?”

Joe: “That would be an accurate statement”.


I would be madder at him, but I think that he is only trying to save his own life with this ludicrous statement, which almost amuses me.


I could fix the swift if I could find the wood glue, which unfortunately was stolen by the intruder who broke the swift in the first place… which makes it not just a cunning plan, but a sadistic one.


I finished two projects and I love both of them.


This is Shawl That Jazz, knit with Twisted in “Puck’s Mischief” (Two skeins, with a little left over.)


I made the ruffle a little more ruffled, as well as knitting it longer than the pattern called for. That’s a 17 year old girl happily wearing it in public, which means that it must be both chic and look good with jeans.


If a 17 year old girl looks happy wearing something in public it does not bode well for my possession of said object.



I finished the viper socks.


Pattern: Viper Pilots (I love this pattern with an unholy passion and may knit it again directly.) Crash into Ewe: Diamonds at Night.



What a great sock. What great yarn. What a seriously geeky homage to BSG and all that was noble and good about the desire to be a Colonial Viper Pilot.



This yarn is 2% real silver, which I think twinkles on the blue background like stars in the sky. I think this is appropriate for Battlestar Galactica socks. (Naturally.)


Some people (coughTINAcough) think that this yarn is more than a little “disco” and have referred to the demure, elegant and star-like twinkle of the silver in a midnight sky as TINSEL, which it is clearly not. Maybe if those were not vipers that would be TINSEL. Maybe if you had no imagination that would be FLASHY.



I know those are vipers. I have an imagination. I am content. Those are silver stars blinking deep in the cosmos for navigation in the fathomless depth of space. Without the stars there would be no way for anybody in the Colonial fleet to have any idea where they had jumped to when fleeing the Cylons. Seriously. Not TINSEL. It’s like some people can’t imagine recognize real elegance when they see it.


I have never been very good at transitions, which is a trait that I’m not proud of. I’m working on it, but for now I don’t like moving from one place to another. I love new places, I can be happy almost anywhere I find myself once myself is in a new place… but the actual physical and emotional process of extricating myself from one system to another? I suck at it. I can never find my stuff, I forget things… my stuff never fits in my bags and is always exploding… usually in a yarn like fashion – right out of my purse(s) and to make the whole thing as graceful as possible, the addition of luggage takes my always bumbling, toe stubbing, item dropping self into a whole other level of lurching through airports and cabs with all the agility of a three legged drunken donkey with a balance problem. (Really. My ability to locate a solid object and run into it with either an item in my care or a part of my body is legendary.) That’s just the physical. The emotional part of transitioning is something I’m not good at either. Take now. I’m sitting in the Vancouver airport, having come off a plane from Seattle, and heading for Toronto, and all I can think of is that I really, really miss Tina and can’t believe I won’t be at the beach working with her for a long time again and deeply regretting that this time has come to an end – and then in the exact same breath really, really looking forward to seeing Joe and the girls because I miss them, and I miss my own bed and all my stuff, and hell. I even missed my little cat the other day and she’s a huge pain in the arse. When I am home I will be missing the heron every day, and there’s really something to be said for working a 14 hour day without interruption, and I didn’t have to do laundry while I was there… but I sort of miss my washing machine. It’s a nice one. Also, I like the way food tastes at home ….. and I love all the alone time when I’m away, but I’m a little lonely for my family.

All of this together is a rather long way of saying that for about sixteen reasons, I am not someone who slides through a journey to or from somewhere with ease. I’m discombobulated the whole way, in every way. As a consequence, I’ve learned to handle layovers really really delicately. I think of them as a bridge from one state of being to the other. I let go of one place, look forward to the next, say my goodbyes to one set and be happy about the next. To make that happen in a spiritual, beautiful, engaging way, I have finally compiled three items that can make it all come together.


No problem. 10 minutes till boarding. See you on the other side.

All things to all people

I’ve been thinking about garter stitch, and a quirky little relationship that it and I have going on. One of the beauties of knitting is that it can be many things to many people. Just as an example, last week someone told me that I was essentially wrong about knitting. I was being challenged by knitting, and this person said, essentially “Dude. Knitting is supposed to be easy, not hard. If it is stressing you out than you are way, way out of the knitting loop. Go knit something easier.” and that got me thinking.

She’s right. It didn’t bother me at all that she said that, because knitting is an amorphous, messed up chameleon. It’s why you don’t just find one personality type knitting. Knitting can be, for people like the lady who wrote me, a relaxing, deeply meditative thing. A calm, repetitive action that churns away stress and upset and sends us straight to the deep end of a metaphoric hot tub of happiness. On the other hand.. knitting can also be a way to challenge yourself, learn new things, engage your mind… and sometimes.. just like other things you might use to improve yourself, knitting can… well. Hurt. Be frustrating. Drive you nuts. Knot your skein. Make you cry. It’s like rock-climbing or running a marathon or taking a night school class… it’s hard to learn new things, and everybody likes to learn new things… we just all do it in a different way, and I’ve always been enchanted with knitting as a tool.

I find it downright interesting that it can be as simple as you might want it to be… and as hard as I might want it to be, while still being the same craft entirely.

More than that, it’s a mind boggling thing to me that I can pick and choose my knitting to reflect what I might need it to be. That if I’m sitting around and need to be entertained or distracted, I might pick up a clever little bit of knitting that engages my mind and helps me focus. An hour later, I might be bored to tears and looking for something that will light my brain up like a Christmas tree…, and bingo. I just need another knitting project. Maybe lace or a Latvian Braid or… well, it’s bottomless, isn’t it? I’ve been knitting for 36 years and I can still think of stuff that I don’t know how to do yet, or stuff that I don’t know that I don’t know because I never heard of it. On the other hand, at the end of a demanding week, when my brain is full of other things, I’m working like a dog and I miss my family…


There’s still garter stitch. Reliable, soothing, repetitive, calming garter stitch, always a place to go when I don’t want more stress, and am being challenged enough by other things.

Great blue heron fishing outside our place a bonus.


Pattern: Shawl that Jazz (Rav link), Yarn: Twisted in Puck’s Mischief. 2 skeins.

(PS. If you’re a confirmed Sock Summit Vendor, you should be getting an email today that invites you to go to the vendor info page and log in with your shiny new username and password and get a contract with us. Dudes. It totally works. If you’re an unconfirmed vendor… just keep waiting. I swear we’re trudging along neatly.)

A Variation on the real world

So, we’re holed up here working away on the Sock Summit, and although we spend hours a day doing this over the phone, frankly there’s no substitute for our efficiency when we’re together. It’s like when we’re on the phone, 1+1=2, and when we’re in the same room it’s 1+1=14. (It likely helps that we’re sequestered away from society and our families. We miss them, but man… can you ever get a lot done if you’re not doing laundry and being interrupted – although I know both of us feel really guilty about it.

My guilt is partly relieved by the knowledge that applying myself now means that I don’t have to spend as much time “away” from my family when I’m home, but still, what’s with the guilt in general? I’d have to talk it over with Joe, but I don’t think that he fights back guilt for hours a day and talks himself down of the parental ledge when he goes to work, but here I am, feeling really awful about simply earning a living for my family, which is absolutely part of being a good parent.

There’s another thing there too. When we’re away together, work for Tina and I looks like this.


Yeah. Bummer eh? We had a really interesting talk last night about two elements of our guilt. First – Saturday after all the campers left we both collapsed and took 6 hours off. We talked, walked, napped, watched a little Stargate and bathed. It was probably necessary to restore us so we could keep working… but I can’t tell you how much my boss spoke up about that. (Hint. I’m self-employed.) She chastised me for not working all the time that I was away, tried to get me to work more so that I “deserved” to be away, and generally made me feel like a bad mother for being away even if I was working 14 hours a day. (I suppose she thinks I should be working 24 hours a day. My boss has really unreasonable standards for me.) Secondly, my boss (and sort of me) doesn’t like it that my job isn’t horrible all the time.

She doesn’t care that for years it was, or that it’s really hard work and focus that’s got me to a place where my job isn’t horrible, she just keeps dumping the crap on me for having the audacity to have a nice job… like if it’s nice it isn’t a job. (I have shown her the schedules, writing, spreadsheets and databases I struggle with. She isn’t into it.) It’s an interesting thing, maternal guilt… and I wonder why there isn’t paternal guilt? Men get weekends off without flagellating themselves into a pit about not working all the time… what’s my boss got against me getting 6 hours?

In any case, my boss also doesn’t really approve of knitting when you’re away from your kids, so I’ve had to sneak it in on the side.


A little garter stitch shawl. She’ll never notice… right?

Ps. Abby (who is also self employed) once said the best thing to me. “You know, my boss is such a hard person to work for, that I’d quit…. but I don’t think anyone else would hire me.”

Amen sister.