Shove that in your skein and knit it

I am a yarn and sock dork.  I know that I’m not alone, and so I know that there will be at least a few of you who understand the wonder and the glory of what I am about to show you.

These socks match precisely, right down to the last stitch.

Not close,  not good enough,  not one of those things that only the knitter notices,  not close enough for company work,  not close enough for jazz — nope.  Perfectly.  Totally perfectly.  That almost never happens with a self patterning yarn.  I mean, what are the odds that everything – every row, every stitch…

everything, right down to starting the second sock in exactly the right spot, then beginning the heel on precisely the same row and placing the toe in the same spot would all work out and make every thing so completely matchy?  There wasn’t a knot that threw it out of whack (Noro I am looking right at you), there wasn’t one skein printed a little differently…

Nothing.  They are perfect. Absolutely perfect, and in a knitters world, there are just too many variables for that to happen much…  and in my world, a world full of holes in my house and rain in the basement and mud (oh, the mud) and teenagers and bills and books and one really weird cat and a husband who’s odd as fish really…. I almost never plan something to perfection and then have it come off without a hitch.  Mostly, I have to let go of my quest for total control.

Not this time.  Sure, other projects will go on to screw me over,  absolutely the next pair of self-patterning yarn will have a knot that means the toes are two different colours, and when that happens, I’ll  accept it, just the same way we all suck up  the worlds imperfections.  You can’t have things your way all the time.  Got it – but today?

Today I am a knitter, and my socks match anyway. 

Quiet Time

 Some stress is going around here,  ripping through the house like  a flu bug and flattening everything in its wake, throwing off reaction times, and messing with peoples ability to shrug off difficulties without tears or frustrations.   (Difficulties like having a big hole in the house – though the contractor’s finally back today and Joe’s taken a day off work to do something mysterious about "getting the house jacked up", which I don’t understand and don’t want to, considering the aforementioned stress.  I do know that he is using it in a way that the Urban Dictionary does not, and that their page was less than helpful. I digress.) As always, I’m fixing stress the way I always do.  I’m thinking about making soup and banana bread, and I’m knitting more than most people do.  (Present company excepted.) Actually, while I’m knitting more than most people do, considering that most people don’t knit at all,  I’m probably knitting less than you, since coping with stress has me doing more thinking about knitting than actual knitting.  Fantasizing really.

This here’s the Swirl Scarf… mostly stalled out as I await delivery on a ball of yarn I need to finish. The pattern called for two, I needed three, likely because I ignored gauge every way that it was possible for a person to do so.  I don’t even know if my gauge on this one is okay, because I. Didn’t. Check.   Mostly, scarves fall into my "who cares" category of gauge.  How could a scarf not fit – therefore… who cares? Turns out I do.  Different gauge means different amount of yarn, which means me sitting around waiting for the postie to deliver what I need to finish which is bloody infuriating because I have no one to blame but myself, because I knew I only had two balls, I knew the pattern said that it took exactly all of two balls and then I ignored gauge.  Nothing worse than a problem you created for yourself that you can’t blame anyone else for.  I hate that.

Unsatisfied by that (considering the aforementioned yarn shortage) I’ve worked on the current socks in progress

Trudging along exactly the way that socks should,

and just to keep things interesting, I started the snowflake scarf I’ve imagined and charted –

-although it turns out that I’m not smart enough for my own plan- since I need a quiet uninterrupted environment to execute it, and that simply isn’t where I live right now.  (Says she, as the sound of a band saw drifts up from the basement…) Maybe these things together are the reason that I keep finding myself back in the stash, looking for something else… 

Or maybe that’s because my office is trashed, which puts the stash in the kitchen where I can see it. (The heart wants what the heart sees. Also, it temporarily looks like I have a hoarding problem.)

In other news,  I think I got Christmas figured out.  Everyone’s getting these.   

Background Noise

My stash is like an archeological dig.  Although I do toss it at regular intervals to keep an eye out for trouble, mostly the oldest stuff is in the deepest, and the newer stuff is up in the canopy of the stash – and that’s particularly true when I’m not tossing it as often as I should.  (I aim for a ritual tossing of the stash spring and fall.  It’s the time of greatest activity for insects and rodents- so I figure that I’m most likely to spot any interlopers then.) Still, it’s like the old stuff sinks to the bottom, and every once in a while when I’m tossing it (think salad) I come across something I’d totally forgotten I had.  Such was the case with these two little balls of a old friend of mine, Fortissima Colori Socka Color #9069.  (I love it when they have romantic names.)  I think the yarn is probably at least a few years old, since I couldn’t find it on the Schoeller + Stahl website, but there’s no way to know.  (Donna knit them in 2005.. so I think maybe that’s the year.)

I cast them on the other day when I realized that a had a couple of things going on that I wouldn’t be able to knit the Spiral Scarf at.  I sure love that thing, but  although the pattern is as easy to memorize as the locker number of that dude in 10th grade that you liked so much (476, right by the history room) it does require counting and looking at, so a new pair of socks were born and have been zooming along in the background. 

I love these self-patterning yarns.  I’ve said it before, I’ve said it again, they make me feel clever, and I love the way that they make the muggles think that I must be a genius to manage such a complex colour pattern.   I’m not telling them otherwise either, not unless they look like they could be converted into knitters with the knowledge.  In any case, I get big results without doing much, which pleases me to no end, even though I know its just all mouth and no trousers.  As a reward for being so entertaining,  I am taking these socks out tonight.  I hope they aren’t too worried about the rain/hole/mudslide potential to have a good time, poor tykes. It’s been raining all day, the contractor hasn’t been back in three days (I believe something must have happened to him. It’s so unlike contractors to do this sort of thing.  Dreadfully worried.)  and I’ve taken the advice of several friends to avoid seeing  the hole and the basement at all costs.  There’s no point in knowing what’s going on, since there’s nothing I can do and it’s only going to upset me.  I’ve agreed, since there’s really not a lot of liquor in the house.

I just hope that contractor’s okay.

Round Round Right Round

I am obsessed. 

I know, that’s nothing like me and it’s totally shocking to find that I’m here again, but once I got the hang of these little spirals, and especially once I had the first row done and was picking up half of each motif from the sides of it’s birth parents… it started to be like potato chips.  I’d knit one, then another, then think "perhaps just one more" and the next thing you know it’s the wee hours and there’s nobody in the house who wants to hear or see anything more about it.

Each one is like a little project.  Each time you finish one I  have the total satisfaction of a complete little perfect knitted thing, and it makes me feel like I am really getting things done.  Really, really getting things done.  Really accomplishing just so much, and that’s a good feeling, since the rest of the house is chaos.  Total, unmitigated, unrestrained, absolutely unfettered Chaos. 

Joe had hoped, I know, to have most of the work done before I got back, but the contractors didn’t really work out the way he had hoped they would, and so while the drywalling and trim around the new ducts did get built, there was collateral damage.  For instance, for very, very complex reasons that I haven’t quite worked out yet, my office was unpacked into the kitchen, and the building materials moved into my office (feel free to imagine what either of those looks like), and oddly, since we weren’t doing any electrical,  one of two outlets in the living room is no longer  there.  There’s a hole where the outlet used to be, but no outlet, and I don’t even understand where or why it has left us. I’m afraid to ask, considering that dude got us in pretty deep in a whole lot of other ways… and I mean that in a literal sense. 

That is exactly what it looks like, which is my charming and affable husband standing in a seven foot deep hole at the side of our house. (By the way? There is absolutely nothing sexier than a man doing some brutish manual labour to save money.)   I’m sending anti-rain vibes into the world until the basement is no longer open to the outside world.  The foundation should be fixed this week (for the record, the problem with it turned out to be that at least in that one place IT DID NOT EXIST ANYMORE – which is a really horrible thought when you consider that it’s right under the bathtub – and it’s really incredible to me that it’s fixable, but it totally is, with the right contractor and for the right price)  and then there won’t be a big hole (I think) but until then, rain would stand in the way of progress – or mudslides, or a hundred other poor outcomes.  Joe keeps saying not to worry, that while the hole is bigger, the opening to the basement is smaller, and  I keep telling him that he is suffering from a failure of imagination if he thinks that a  hole in the house- running from the basement to the outside is not absolutely going to end with one of the most bloggable stories of our lives.** 

In the face of that,  I can’t tell you how comforting it is to be able to connect to a sense of finishing things while that’s going on.  Or at least that’s what I told myself while I am knitting that scarf – or pulling buckets of dirt out of a hole.  Things are getting finished, things are getting finished, things are getting finished.

(**Really, I think this story begins with a skunk falling into the seven foot deep hole, finding no way out except into the house- and then ends with  Joe standing on our bed screaming like a girl, us having to throw out all our possessions, me purchasing  twenty seven cans of tomato juice and us accruing a bill for therapy for our teenaged girls that makes a new foundation look cheap.  Mark my words.)

Problem Solving

Yesterday, I cast off those pretty socks, smirked for a bit and then realized that for the first time in a long time… I didn’t have another pair of socks on the go – or not here anyway.   (If I was home I would have had another few choices, as I have the basket of abandoned sock projects that I can rifle.)  Luckily for me I’m travelling with Tina – who usually has a fair bit of sock yarn on her, but before I decided to break into her car and look for a little skein of something pretty,  we noticed that the fridges level of beer was getting perilously low, and we decided to go to town.  Town here is Port Hadlock, or at least that’s the closest town with a grocery store, so we struck out in the wind and rain in search of replacement beer.   We found the store with no trouble, and on our way back to the car we saw it.  A yarn store. Dinah’s Yarn Shop, to be precise, and like moths to a flame, we were in.

One cozy hour later, after seeing many charming things, and getting a special demo of the very cool Hansen Crafts MiniSpinner (They’re local) we staggered out of there, with rather more wool than we came in with, and a plan. Both Tina and I cast on for a swirl scarf with Jojoland Melody yarn, and spent the evening exploring all of the ways that it is possible to screw up the pattern. At one point I actually went to Ravelry to make sure that someone else had ever finished one, since it seemed impossible for either of us to make it correctly through one swirl.  (This trip to Rav was devastating.  Not only have lots of people finished this, most of them did the shawl rather than the scarf. Obviously it’s me.  I’m trying not to take it too hard.)

This is, after several hours of knitting, all I’ve got (please pardon the photo.  I had to take it in poor light because it’s still raining) – and I’m light years ahead of Tina, who had to start over an extra time because she accidentally took my yarn out of the bag and started with that, and I made her give it back, even though she was underway. (What can I say.  It was my yarn.) I’m getting the better of if tonight.  I can feel it. 
In other news:

Another Port Ludlow employee knitting. (This is Dana, and I’ve just showed her how to purl.)  It’s really all over but the crying for them.

Weekend Report

The little retreat is over here at Port Ludlow, and it was simply wonderful.  The only thing I could have wished for was better weather, since it has been rainy and windy, enough so that the wind kept some knitters up at night, so fierce was the noise. It’s also fierce enough that Tina and I have waged a constant war with the wind to keep it from throwing our deck chairs into the sea, and they’re heavy metal chairs, not the plastic ones that are just toys to the wind. It’s windy enough that it stopped some ferries and closed or badly slowed bridges (adding an element of excitement to travel plans for many knitters.) and stormy enough that almost the entire community had no power day before yesterday. (That passed pretty quickly.) On the upside,  the grey windy rain also created a cozy atmosphere, hard to beat for a lot of fibre people, as we all gathered together in the warm hotel, knitting, spinning and dyeing.

This whole hotel was booked out by knitters, and I think we were a source of non-stop entertainment to the staff, who have responded in a way I’d never dreamed of. Since the last time we filled the place full, most of the staff has taken up knitting. (In fact, of the four desk clerks, one showed us her scarf in progress when we arrived, another bought a spinning wheel from Morgaine on Saturday, the third already knew how to knit, and Tina and I have a date with the fourth tonight – already a crocheter, to complete the set. If you’re checking into Port Ludlow, there’s a knitter there to greet you.)

(Morgaine holds court.)
Tina taught a little dyeing and a lot of colour, I taught a lot of history, tools, books and lever knitting, and further to our belief that all knitters should have at least a working knowledge of spinning to help them really understand yarn – we (with a lot of help from Morgaine) taught spinning all over the place. 

(That’s my class – right before they inexplicably all went to the bar and brought back drinks. Wonder what that means?)

(Steve shows off his socks at show and tell)
I’m always surprised at these things how much knitting there is around without there being much knitting being done by me.  There’s very little knitting while teaching – or rather, there’s a lot but it’s all swatches and such… and in the evenings we’re talking and organizing, and then there’s nothing left of a day except to fall over and sleep.  Still, even puttering away a little at a time I finished these pretty socks. 

STR mediumweight  in Blue Lagoon (a colour that’s not up yet but will be soon, or so Tina tells me.  I’m not the boss of her yarn, just the thief who steals yarn from her desk before its time.)

Pattern is Holidazed, by Anne Hanson, a pattern I really love.  It’s easy to memorize, unisex, and since it’s knit with mediumweight (seems to me like a light dk weight) on 2.5mm needles the socks in size small are only 48 stitches around.  They fly.

It was a grand time, I have new socks,  and I can’t wait to do it again.  The students were a blast, the staff was a blast, and even the fact that another impending storm (a big one) is going to pin me down and delay my travel home until Saturday can’t take the happy off me.  I’m going to cozy up by the fire in a new pair of socks, watch the big storm come over the sea (maybe lash the chairs down with some yarn) and hunker down with a good porter (rather fond of the local Deschutes) until it lets up.  

I think I’ll knit.


1. I am at Port Ludlow, and the knitters arrive today.  I’m pretty excited about that.

2. I admit that at least part of the fun comes from the staff at the resort trying to act like a whole hotel full of knitters is absolutely normal and they aren’t flipped by it at all.  It’s charming.

3. There is not a single room in this hotel rented to anyone but a knitter.

4. It’s like the world of my dreams.

5. I can’t wait until the store is open to the public on Saturday afternoon and even more knitters come.

6. It is not often that we outnumber them this way.

7. I can’t wait to see how they feel about the spinners.

8. I was so excited on the plane that I prematurely ended a sock. Now it’s too short and I have to rip it back.

(Yarn, STR mediumweight, colour is a trial run of "blue Lagoon", which isn’t for sale yet but will be Nov. 28th.)  pattern "Holidazed" by Anne Hanson.)

9.  I hear that’s a common problem that happens to all knitters sooner or later and I shouldn’t feel badly about it.

Telegram from an Airport

Finished Nutkins last night so I could wear them on the plane going to Port Ludlow. Stop.

They are as sparkly as I hoped. Starry yarn very much so. Stop.
2% silver does not bother metal detectors at Airport.  They didn’t make me stop. Stop.

Mirrored cables, and changed toes.  Otherwise, knit as instructed. Have more sparkly yarn in suitcase, as I’m worried that I can’t stop. Stop.

Was knitting socks on plane when seatmate remarked that I seem to knit all the time.  He said "you look like you never stop".

I said nothing.

All Sparkles All The Time

I don’t  really know what came over me when it came to this sparkle yarn, but I’m a smidge obsessed. (I know.  It’s so unlike me.) It came into our local shop a few weeks ago, just one skein in each colour, and the competition was immediately stiff.  (If by "stiff" you understand that a group of people who love and care for each other a great deal were inexplicably reduced to hoarding and hiding skeins within minutes.) That day I only scored one skein (I could have done better, but refused to lower myself to do what it would have taken) and I’ve been very busy knitting it up into a pair of sparkly Chinatown Apple Nutkins,

although it doesn’t really look a lot like Nutkins because I mirrored each alternate cable, but in my heart it’s a Nutkin none the less.  

The sparkles, as much as you wouldn’t expect them to move the heart of this hippy-crunchy-natural fibre, vegetarian pacifist’s hear… do indeed move me, and I can’t get enough,

which might explain why when Megan got in more of the sparkly yarn, I immediately scooped up a skein of the white with silver.  (I would have scooped two, but you should ask Rachel H how low she’s willing to go to protect her own sparkle yarn interests.) Another skein was found at another shop, and now I have two, which is totally enough for a scarf.  (I do have dibs on Denny’s leftovers for mittens too, should this obsession not run itself out in two skeins worth.) 

As soon as I saw the glittery white, all I could think of was snow. The way that fresh extra cold snow glitters like adamantine crystals, and a little idea that has consumed my weekend was born.  There have been swatches knit, charts made and wild imaginings of swathes of glittering snowflakes wrapped ’round necks.

I’m trying, with varying degrees of success to convince myself to end one sparkly affair before taking up with another and finish the Nutkin socks, but I ask you.  Who could resist the promise of a sparkly snowflake scarf?

PS: Megan did kit up the Pretty Thing pattern and half skeins of Mooi and she has them at Lettuce Knit in several colours.  Rumour has it that they’re $30 CDN.  She ships.

PPS: For anyone in the neighbourhood, the tiny little market (Blue Moon Fiber Arts and Carolina Homespun) that’s present at our retreat in Port Ludlow will be open to the public from 1:30 till 6:30 this coming Saturday.  Maybe we’ll see ya.

Underprepared, again

I believe that I may have made my position on the brassiere public before in a subtle manner. I’m pretty sure too that copping publicly to the fact that I only own one of the regular sort of them means that they’re pretty low on my list of priorities.  I’ve got about 16 rants that I could give you on bras.  

Rant 1: Why aren’t womens bodies good enough without modification or alteration?  [Note: Rant 1 leads directly to Rant 1a:  How come women have to shave stuff and wear lipstick to be acceptable, but men are fine the way they are? and as such it is best to avoid triggering Rant 1 unless you have time for a two-fer.]
Rant 2: Doesn’t pretending that breasts look or are located differently than they actually are just set us all up to think our breasts are crappy? 
Rant 3: For something that everyone seems to agree all women should wear, they are pretty expensive.  Seems like a trick. 
Rant 4:  I was an IBCLC for 10 years. Breasts come in more variety than bras do.  Also seems like a trick.
Rant 5: How come bras are all designed to give you the breasts of a pre-pregnancy 21 year old? My breasts are working class, thank you very much, and have seen tons of action.  Stack that up against your inexperienced breasts. 
Rant 6: I think that insisting that I pretend my breasts are 21 forever implies that there’s something wrong with women aging. Is that what you’re trying to say? Is it?  Eh??

I’ll stop there.  I’m sure you have your own, and that a bunch of you will finish the list in the comments. The point is, that I don’t like them and I don’t wear them much.  I don’t have an issue with other women wearing them, and I even have moments when I wear them myself.  I wear them when I’m doing something fancy,  when all my body parts are trying to look their best.  I wear one when I’m running, because I can agree that their mobility is not an advantage in that activity, and I’ve been known to wear one when I put on a tailored shirt and discover that the fashion industry has an inflexible notion about where my breasts should be located, and that without a bra, I am may be challenged to have my "empire" above an empire waist.   It’s just that the rest of the time – nobody has ever been able to give me a reason beyond "Don’t you want to be pretty?" (and yes, I do… but I’d rather do it in a way that isn’t an illusion that would shatter bystanders if they saw me naked)  why I personally should wear a bra.

All of this said, today I have a meeting with the school, and I have discovered over the years that for some insane reason (Rant 7b) people seem to think that you are smarter and more reasonable if you have controlled breasts.  I have tried to explain that I don’t think with my breasts, and that whether or not they are controlled has nothing to do with whether or not I have sound judgment or good ideas, but really, all that does is make me the crazy braless mother instead of just the braless one. For today, I should like very much to be taken seriously, and so I decided to put on a bra so that everyone can see that I am a proper mother.  (Rant 8b  A whole lot of mothering- especially the early part,  is easier to do if you’re not wearing a bra.   Why do we make even more complex bras to deal with that?)  Thing is? I can’t find it.  I have ripped up this whole house and I can’t find it.  I am now confronted with a choice between being going without and trying to hide that with a complex scarf/sweater plan I’m working out (which will likely make me "that sweaty mum" instead of "that braless mum" and actually has the potential to make me "that sweaty braless mum" which really could be worse…)  or I can give up, go there like I am, and sit there braless and knitting while my daughter rolls her eyes,  and just acknowledge that I’ve gotten this far in parenting without a bra, and say "I’m up here" if anyone stares.

I hate this. I do have most of a nice sock though.  Do you think it will help?