Progress, of a sort

Progress thing the first: I have finished five more holes. I think the secret is to not try and do all the holes at once.  You have to make one, then wander off, do something else and then come back later when you’ve forgotten the holes are annoying. If I do too many at once, then it takes longer to forget.

Progress thing the second: Joe and I had a date night last night, and went out to celebrate an album he just finished producing, The Motherland. (It’s The Bidiniband, and “All Hail Canada” is a favourite around here – though it’s not what you think. If you click on that link you can listen.)

bidiniband 2014-05-30

We were out for a long time, and in the dark and I was ever so glad to have my boring sock with me so that I could appall hipsters with my dorkiness at the Dakota. I got a big chunk done.

Progress thing the third: I jumped on my bike this morning and went down to Arton Bead.  No time like the present, right? I’d been putting it off because, frankly, I thought it was going to be a ginormous pain in the arse.  Arton Bead is huge.

artonbead 2014-05-30

That’s a picture of on teeny tiny corner, and there are still millions of beads, and I imagined myself going in there with my wee bit of beads and trying to match them and it taking so long that I had to pack a snack.  Instead I was there about two minutes.  I walked in, someone asked if they could help me, I said yes, and showed them my little bag of beads.  “Right” the girl said, and she walked down one of the aisles with a hundred million beads in it, put her hand out, plucked the exact right ones out of the bin and asked me how many I wanted.  My mouth hung open.  I have no idea how she could possibly keep track of all those beads – it was like telling someone standing in a field that you needed a piece of grass that was exactly 4mm wide and 7cm tall and watching them say “ah yes. I just saw one like that” while they reached down to the ground and passed it to you.  It was miraculous. It took longer to pay.

Progress the fourth: Well. There’s not progress on Adrianna, but I did decide I would knit on it all weekend (except for the holes) and see what happened.  Thinking about knitting it surely counts for something. Right?

Unrelated: It is Amanda’s birthday today.  She’s 25, and the last time those numbers were in her age she was 2.5 and she looked like this.

amandabikebaby 2014-05-30

We like to start ’em on bikes young around here, and look how it’s ended up. My sweet girl is a quarter century old, and using the one week of vacation she has this summer to ride her bike to Montreal to help make the world a better place. (Again. She’s amazing.)  If you were so inclined to send her a birthday gift, she’d love a few dollars towards making it to her goal. You can pledge her here. Don’t forget to send your name in for Karmic Balancing if you do- and remember, if you donate twice, send your name in twice. It’s double Karma!

Happy Birthday Amanda!

(PS. I may or may not have stopped at a yarn store or two to get the yarn I needed for those Starry socks. Whatever.)

This rut is more of a crater

I have four projects on the go right now and to be completely honest, I’m not feeling any of them. (Also, when I say four, I mean four that I’m interested in even admitting to. There’s a few more, but they’ve begun to fall deep into the stash, down, down into the layers from which projects do not return.)  There’s a problem with each and every one of these projects, and they’re tiny little problems that I could set my mind to overcoming if only I were a stronger person, but together they add up into a great big steaming pile of ennui.  A knitting rut. Let me show you.

1. I’m knitting another pair of socks. Of course.  They’re just another plain vanilla pair, although the yarn’s pretty fun.

boringsocks 2014-05-29

It’s Fortissima Colori, Socka Color (The classic colourway so beautifully named 9072.)These possess, as all self patterning socks do – a certain charm, and it is a lot of fun to explain to all of the non-knitters who see it that they yarn does this all by itself, but I think I made a mistake when I chose another plain pair of socks.  I can tell, because pulling them out of my bag instantly makes me want to scream.

Why I should finish? Because it’s just a pair of socks, and I have a pair to churn out every 27 days, and if I toss these aside and start something fabulous then I won’t have time.

What’s stopping me? See aforementioned bit about the screaming. I don’t know how much longer I can keep that noise in my head.

2. I’m working on a shawl.

sweetdreamsstall 2014-05-29

The pattern is fun (it’s a heavily modified version of Sweet Dreams) and it’s actually fabulous yarn that’s a thrill to use (Buffalo Wool Co.’s Sexy, almost impossible not to love) but the problem is that I’m an idiot, twice over.   Once, for not realizing that if you upsize a beaded shawl you’re going to need more beads, and once for not realizing that this is extra true if you spill the beads and some go down a heating vent.  I’m not out of beads yet, but I have to trot downtown and try to get some more, and there’s no point in going forward at all until I know if I can go all the way – you know what I mean?

Why I should finish? Two reasons.  One, deadline. Two, I’m not sure if my modifications are going to work, and I need to finish in enough time that I can have a do-over, if it turns out that my idea was as crazy as giving a toddler a drill and unlimited access to my fleshy parts.

What’s stopping me? The hours it will take to go downtown and scour a bead store for these beads and get back home again.  Technically I’ve already tried once, but it turns out that Arton Bead is closed on Sundays.  Who knew? (Kindly refrain from pointing out that the website I linked to just there clearly indicates the hours of operation. Thank you.)

3. This stinking Adrianna.

adreiannaforever 2014-05-29

Holy crap, am I tired of knitting this.  If there was one thing in this house that I could enslave a troupe of elves to finish, it would be that. It’s what happens if you re-knit a thing, the fortitude it takes the second time through is superhuman.

Why I should finish? I really, really love the finished product here, and desperately want to wear it this summer, and now it’s summer, and I don’t want to be that person who finally wraps this up just in time for the snow to fly.  Considering the length of the Canadian summer? Really. I should be knitting it now.  I kinda thought I would wear it at Squam. That’s next week.

What’s stopping me? I hate it’s filthy little linen guts.

4. The Emperor’s New Scarf.

stillwiththeholes2 2014-05-29

Why should I finish? Because I love it, and it’s almost done, and I love it.

What’s stopping me? Nothing. Just that I want a knitting project, and from here to the end this is more of a sewing/crochet project and it’s hard for me to do the same thing over and over, and there’s a lot of holes and that’s all that’s left now is the holes. Holes. Holes. Holes. All the time with the holes. The. Holes.

That’s the roundup. Four projects. Four problems, four clear solutions, and yet… From here, I don’t know what to do next.  Maybe I’ll just sit here while it all stares at me. Maybe I’ll put on some serious pants and pick one and power through? Maybe I’ll trash it all. Maybe…

Maybe I’ll knit these?

(PS. Yes. These projects are scattered all over my house on four different surfaces. Yes. This makes the house look untidy. This is no big deal because the house IS untidy, and the knitting is the least of it. I’m a knitter, not a housekeeper.)

At least I have something to show for it

The barrage of bounced messages has slowed to a trickle, much to my relief.  It turns out that when the guy said it would be three days, he didn’t mean that it would be 256 emails per minute for three days (do the math on that nightmare, why don’t ya) and I’ve managed to delete most of the onslaught.  Today though, I discovered a new problem.  Apparently if your email is hacked in the dead of night, and sends out a gagillion spam emails, and even if you discover that and put a stop to it before you’re even through your first damn cup of coffee when you wake up, it doesn’t stop  just about every spam blocking service in the freaking universe from deciding that your IP address is made of evil, and blocking you.   Yup. I’m a bad guy. Blacklisted.  Just about everything I send bounces right back.  After I write this I’m going to get back on the phone for the 14th time and try to sort it out.  My rage is pretty incandescent at this point, so let’s look at yarn.

tardissingles 2014-05-28

While I was waiting for my computer to surface from the deluge, I finished spinning singles and plied  the gorgeous Inglenook Fibers batt.  It’s one of those great “kitchen sink” type batts – with a little bit of everything in it.

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This one has BFL, Merino, bamboo, starbright, silk noil, silk, Tencel, Angelina, Firestar and the mysteriously named “Faux Cashmere” which I’m pretty sure is nylon – though it’s super soft nylon.

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The colourway is “Tardis” and on the long, long list of things I love about how this skein ended up is the way that the blues look like the night sky (or the colour of the Tardis, I guess) and the little bits of silk and sparkle end up reminding me of stars.  It’s very appropriately named – although I couldn’t stop humming “Starry, starry night” to myself while I spun. (Sorry. That’s probably going to be an earworm.)

tardistwoplyhearts 2014-05-28

It’s perfect.  I’m going to give it away as a karmic balancing gift – but it will have to wait until I have a better grip on email.  Wouldn’t it be terrible if I chose you, and couldn’t tell you about it? Back to the stashbox for the next fibre, and back to this:

stillwiththeholes 2014-05-28

Yup.  Holes.


A tiny problem

I had a good weekend, it was eventful and charming and a few things happened that will never happen again, and that’s always good. First, I “swept” my first training ride.

teamleads 2014-05-26

That’s me and Jen and the two other sweeps who were very gentle with the newbies. “Sweeping a ride” is when you agree that you’ll ride slower than the slowest rider to make sure that nobody get’s left behind.  On the long rides (this one was 83km) two sweeps ride bikes, and two sweeps travel in a car, driving the route over and over again, making sure that all the riders are ok. Jen and I had a first aid kit (we didn’t have to use it, thank goodness) and water and a pump, and all the riders did really great, except for one guy who hit a pothole and got two flats 30km from home.  (We drove him to the subway.) Jen and I have to sweep three more rides, but we’re ever so grateful that we got our first one done without anybody calling 911, which I think was absolutely our biggest fear.

I got home, washed the dirt off of me, and headed over to Lou’s house, which is really Kate and Carlo’s house (on account of they are the adults, and they hold the mortgage, despite the way that the worlds most charming two year old runs the place.)

lousfirstselfie 2014-05-26

(That’s Lou’s first selfie. What kind of a person gives a two year old a smartphone so he can take a selfie? <raises hand slowly> I did. Clearly I value his fun more than my phone.)

Last week, after months of work and study, Carlos became a Canadian citizen.

katicecarlos 2014-05-26

We’re all so proud to have him, and so there were Canadian presents and Canadian food, Canadian drinks (that would be the magnificent cocktail known as the Ceasar. Virtually unknown outside of Canada, and the worlds a poorer place for it.)

ceasar 2014-05-26

There was everyone dressed in Canadian clothes, and flags and posters and good wishes and nobody could have been happier for him.  Carlos has spent the last few weeks asking Canadians questions from the citizenship test, and then demanding they turn over their passports if they don’t know the answers. It’s funnier than it sounds, and highlights how very hard it is to get that precious passport, if you weren’t lucky enough to be born in this safe, prosperous and beautiful country. (Sorry. Some national pride leaked out there.)

canadapresents 2014-05-26

It was a wonderful day.

Today of course, is another thing. This morning I woke up and discovered that I had about 10 000 bounced emails. (That number isn’t a joke.) I called Liquid Web right away (they’re awesome, if you’re ever wondering) and found out that while I slept my email had been compromised, and a really, really, really huge number of emails had been sent from my server. We changed my password, said some unbelievably unkind things about spammers,  the dude cleaned out the thousands and thousands of emails waiting to be sent from the server, and assured me that things would be okay now.   I went for a bike ride.

When I came back, I had about 20 000 notifications of bounced mail, and as I sat down in front of my computer wondering how I was ever, ever going to delete all that, I noticed something AMAZING if by amazing, you understand that I mean completely horrible.

I was getting 256 emails per minute.

You can bet your stash that I was back on the phone with Liquid Web in about two shakes of a lambs tail, and found out that while everything is going to be okay, it’s going to take a while to be okay.  Turns out my client can only download 256 per minute. That’s the cap. There’s so many waiting to be downloaded (ones that already belong to me as a result of the overnight incursion) that it’s going to take three days to stop. THREE DAYS – and during that time my computer is going to be so busy I might as well forget I have email.

I got 4000 emails while we were talking about it.

Dude gave me some information on how to deal with it, advised me that the best thing I could do was wait for it to stop, and then sort it, and said I was going to have a “super unproductive day.”  He sounded genuinely sympathetic.  He suggested I have a beer and try not to think about it.

That’s totally what I’m doing, and let me tell you this.

spinning productinve 2014-05-26

There’s no such thing as unproductive around here.  No email? That’s cool.  I have something else to do.


Karma, in spades

Popping in quickly, since today’s a bear. I’ve been up since 5:30  (training. It raining on me. Not my best morning, really) and I’ve got a ton to do, but didn’t want the day to sneak by without the blog, even if it was only to give away some Karmic Balancing Gifts!

As an aside, I’ve had a few questions about what’s going on here, and I realized that I sort of assumed everyone knew, and here I was leaving new readers in the dark.  Sorry guys!

Me and my little family team are training for the Friends for Life Bike Rally, which takes place in July. On that day, more than 300 cyclists (if you can call me that) will depart Toronto, and ride our way to Montreal – more than 600km away.  The trip takes days, and is really more than a little hard, and to make sure as much money as possible goes to the charity, we do a few things that make it harder… like camp, and help serve meals and clean up. (The camping can be a bit hard on the heart you’re tired, or hurting, or if it rains.

We do all this to raise money for People With Aids, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of people with, well. I guess that’s an obvious one. They exist to promote the health and well-being of all people living with HIV/AIDS by providing accessible, direct and practical support services.  Everyone’s involved for their own reasons, but for me its that more than half of the people in the world with HIV/AIDS are women, women are more biologically vulnerable to the virus than men, and women are a fast growing part of new infections.

Put that together with the reality that I’m a woman, most of my friends and community are women, I’m the mother of three daughters, and the knitting community that I adore and earn my living in is largely women, and you’ve got a dumpy 45 year old on a bike trying to raise as much money as I can. You donate, I ride.

How do you get in on helping the world be a better place? Easy. You donate whatever you are able to someone on our little family team (all knitters, every one of us.)







and then send an email to me at with “Enter me” as the subject line, and give me your address, and whether or not you’d like to be in it for spinning gifts, or just knitting. Then I’ll pull names every so often, and whammo. You might get something nice, just for being nice.  Spread the word.

Whats the first gift today? A beautiful skein of BFL High Twist sock yarn (the colourway is Woodland Fairy) from Prairie Knitting yarns, will be winging it’s way to Karen SH.

prairie knittingyarns 2014-05-23

Wanna have your mind blown a little? Erica knit this amazing shawl.  (It’s Anne Hanson’s Bee Fields – lovely pattern.)  Isn’t she clever? Yeah, well, that’s not the end of the wonder that is Erica, because she’s donated it as a gift.

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All that gorgeous work will be going to live with  Lisa L, and I know that it will give Erica a great deal of pleasure to know that it will be enjoyed by someone who knows exactly how much work it was.

More? You betcha. I love this one.  Staci Lockman draws house portraits from the photographs you send her.

houseportrait 2014-05-23

I know! Cool, right? I mean, I don’t have a house pretty enough to need it’s portrait done (although maybe she could draw the evestroughs so that they don’t look like they’re falling off, and sort of fix the siding) but there’s people on my Christmas list who would LOVE THIS, and I hope that’s true for Carolyn M, because Staci’s going to do one for her.  I hope she enjoys the idea as much as I do.

Meet Sharon – or at least meet the generous spirit of Sharon from New Zealand.  She’s donated two beautiful skeins of yarn from Bleating Art (a new indie dyer out of New Zealand) and aren’t they pretty?

anathyst bleatingart 2014-05-23

That gorgeous one is Amethyst, and will fly to Diane P.  This one is Aurora:

Aurora bleating art 2014-05-23

… and I bet Jenn R gives it a very good home.

Done? Me either.  Look at this.

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Neat, isn’t it? It’s a 10 skein mini-set from Three Fates Knitting, and Stephania will be mailing it to Sara P, and I bet she feels some striped socks coming on.  (I sort of do.)

JavaPurl Designs has five patterns to give away –  Five lucky knitters will each choose their favourites from amongst her designs.  Personally, I like these – Socks for Ten (Dr. Who inspired) but Doreen S, Deidre C, Alicia L, Karen H  and Jennifer C  shouldn’t let my dorkiness influence them.

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One more? I thought so too – and I’ve saved the one that charmed me the most for last. Rachel (of PorpoiseFur) wrote and said this:

Hi Stephanie,
I’m a long time blog reader, and when I saw you were starting to give away Karmic Balancing gifts for your bike ride fundraiser, I knew I had the perfect one.
Three years ago, I was riding my bike a lot training for my own bike fundraiser – the 2011 Deloitte Ride Across Britain. This ride started at the northern-most point of Great Britain, John O’Groats in Scotland, and finished 9 days later at Land’s End, right down at the very tippy end of southwestern Cornwall. The money raised went to benefit Paralympics GB.
So there I was, off in the hills of Surrey, riding my bike up and down lots and lots of hills. I came down a hill to a T intersection, and noticed there was oncoming traffic. I slowed down, unclipped my right foot, put my foot out and promptly fell over on to my left butt cheek. The incredibly spectacular bruise that developed over the course of the next few days covered an area about 10 cm by 30 cm down my left hip, and was the most perfect blue-purple shade of bruise that ever bruised.
Being a fiber dyer, as well as a knitter and spinner, I was immediately inspired to recreate my bruise coloration on wool, so I developed “Haematoma” (photo attached). I’d like to offer one 4 oz bundle of “Haematoma” on Corriedale as a Karmic Balancing Gift for your fundraiser.



For the record, I am here to assure you (from my very recent fall last week) that this is the exact, perfect colouration.

Haematoma 2014-05-23

I hope that Andra C appreciates what Rachel does for her art. (Ouch.)

That’s it for today! More gifts next week, and if you’ve emailed me about a gift, and I haven’t answered, know that I almost certainly got it, put it in a file, and am working my way down the rather astonishing list.  You guys really, really know how to balance Karma.

Day 27

I’m coming in under the wire on this one.  I promised myself I’d knit 12 pairs of socks before Christmas this year, and it worked out to churning out a pair every 27 days. (Or so, it was really more like every 27.84 days, but I’m dropping the fraction.) This morning I got up and did a few things, and worked for a bit, and then while I was at my computer it chimed, and an alert popped up in the corner. It said “Sock.”

This is because I am totally a big enough dork that I entered the deadline in my calendar for every 27 days, and set an alarm to remind me. (I know. I’m so hip it hurts.  Somewhere my children are flinching that sock deadlines are a real thing in my world.)

strandeddonefeet 2014-05-22

As it popped up, I realized the flaw in my plan.  I should have set the deadline, and then set a warning alarm for a few days before, because telling me that I have a sock due on the day that it’s due is really – well. It lit a fire under me this morning, and I was super lucky I only had a half foot to go, and I could finish this fetching pair.

strandeddonewhole 2014-05-22

These are Stranded Show-off Socks, and they were a party on the needles, and I mean that. Super fun to knit, and a great choice for this variegated yarn. The stitch pattern makes wee dashes of colour across the stitches, quite pretty, I think.  (Yarn: Skeined Alive 80/merino 10/cashmere, 10/nylon in “Vermiculture.” Great colourway. Great name.) The pattern’s got a short row variation that’s charming, and sends the stitch pattern all the way down the back of the heel and makes an oddly neat anatomical shape round the arch.  I like ’em.
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Changes to the pattern? Just one, and I’m not sure that it’s a change at all, because I didn’t check. When the time came for the toe, I just did my current favourite, without looking to see which toe the designer recommended. I like a nice round toe.  It’s a quirk.

stranded round toe 2014-05-22

The roundish variation I do on the standard toe fits the same way, but I like how it looks better off – Not that it matters – except it does.  (Because you’ll ask, I do a standard toe, but change the rate of decrease. 1 decrease round, 4 plain. 1 decrease round, then 3 plain. 1 decrease round, then 2 plain… see where I’m going? When there’s no rounds left to set between the decrease rounds, I just decrease all the time until it looks right. Like a toe.)

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So, voila.  On track to finish the year with at least 12 pairs, and you can bet that I added an alarm before the next deadline. I don’t want to get caught again. I might not be able to knit my way out of it.  I’m off to the sock yarn cupboard. Mama needs a flash new sock project.

Nothing Rhymes With It

When I was growing up, that whole thing with the colours and the seasons was really big. You were supposed to look at your complexion and your hair and the colour of your eyes, and then you’d know what colours you were allowed to wear, or what you’d look good in.  My mum did it. She always looks great too, so when she told me I was a spring, or a summer or whatever the hell season it was, I totally believed her. I still do believe her – it’s just that the results of that test were so disappointing. I remember all the colours being blue and pink and god help me…teal.  There’s nothing wrong with those colours of course, it’s not like one colour can really be better than another – it’s all a matter of perspective. One person’s pink is another’s pepto-bismol Barbie-esque nightmare, and I remember being a little devastated that I was doomed to a life of wearing colours that I didn’t really like.

Then something happened. I… grew up. Is that the right phrase? Is it what happened? I’m not sure, but I remember waking up one morning and looking at my fushia blouse and my teal jacket and my pink scarf and thinking “Holy wing of a moth, I hate you” and something snapped, and I started buying stuff I liked. Sienna. Olive. Yellow iron oxide, raw umber, sap green, ochre, rust, brown, and (much to my mother’s initial shock, although I think she’s over it now) ORANGE.

cawithcoat 2014-05-21

I love orange. also happen to think that it looks fabulous on me, but truth be told, I don’t know if that’s a real thing, or if it’s just that I love it so much that I feel good in it, and therefore believe that it looks fabulous, when really it makes me look like an anemic mole rat.

I don’t care.  Spring, summer, whatever it is that I’m supposed to be, in my heart I am an autumn, and systems be damned, I’m happiest dressed like a tree in fall.

orangedetail 2014-05-21

This last Color Affection (and I think it might be my last, it’s possibly out of my system) makes me so happy I can’t even tell you.  It goes with my orange coat, my brown coat, my green shirts… all of my favourite tree garb, and it’s deliciously soft and bouncy to boot. (Oh. It also goes with all my boots.)

cadonefence 2014-05-21

Pattern: Color Affection, Yarn: Plucky Knitter “Feet” in (I think – the tags are long gone) Aperitif, Ever After and Sock Monkey.  4mm needles.  Knit with a few modifications. First, I did a yarnover between each first and second stitch, dropping it on the return rows to give a little extra length. Then I also continued the second section (short rows) until I was out of stitches. made it a little longer, and wider, which was nice with a fine yarn.

moreoutspread 2014-05-21

I am going to wear this all the time. Me and orange. Dark orange. Vibrant orange. Orange that’s dirty or cozy or bright. Orange like fruit, or maple trees in the sun, or monarch butterflies, or tulips or crayons or pumpkins or piles of persimmons.   Orange, orange, orange. It might be almost my favourite. Maybe.

cadonefence2 2014-05-21

You can keep peach, and melon, and palest apricot. I love big orange, and I don’t care if it suits my complexion. It suits my nature.

(Sorry mum.)


Five days in pictures

Well.  I don’t know what happened to the last five days, but if you see them wandering around, send them this way, will you?  The thing I remember was packing my bags on Wednesday to head down to the Buffalo Guild, and then whammo. I’m here. The time went by so fast that I can’t even totally remember it all.  I remember driving for the border… and then next thing I knew I was standing in my trashed kitchen last night trying to figure out what train hit me.  I had to check my camera for clues.  There was this one, evidence that the lesson I got in how to take panoramic pictures has set, and when I look at this snap I have a warm fuzzy feeling, so I can tell you that the guild was lovely, and everyone there was charming, and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

buffaloguild 2014-05-20

There’s this one, and I sort of remember taking it. Blossoms outside the hotel I stayed in and clearly the only other time I thought about owning a camera until I got back home, which sort of makes sense because I taught 4 classes in two days to at least 80 extremely nice knitters – which was super awesome. (I didn’t take their pictures, except for above.)

blossomshotel 2014-05-20

Somewhere along the line I took a picture of my wheel, with my current spinning on it. (I must have felt accomplished.) The astute among you will note that this is not the promised “Tardis in Flight” but instead just “Tardis” since when Samantha saw the blog she claimed the previous roving before I could spin it. (She’s seldom taken with the urge. A mother has to support these things.)

tardissingle 2014-05-20

There’s a picture of a sock and a half – proof that at some point over the last five days I did knit, quite a bit, actually.  (I also have a recollection of watching a documentary, so I think they must have been concurrent.)

sockstranded 2014-05-20

The astute among you will note that the sock you see before you is not the sock that I started. The yarn is Skeined Alive 80/merino 10/cashmere, 10/nylon in “Vermiculture”  and originally I’d picked Anne Hanson’s Sign of Four as the pattern.  Turns out they were a bad combo, and you couldn’t see the subtle and beautiful stitch pattern at all in that yarn, so out it came to be replaced with Show-off Stranded Socks, and that’s working beautifully.

There’s a picture of Color Affection blocking… so that must be done.

affectionblocking 2014-05-20

And then there’s this one of Sam and Lou, this was right before he drooled in her eye. (I remember that – along with the chorus of “eeeewwww Looouuuuu!” that went up round our Victoria Day dinner gathering. (Oh! Right, it was Victoria Day yesterday!)

samlou 2014-05-19

From this morning, there’s this, when Jen and I peeled out of our respective beds, and hauled arse 46km through the city in what looks like a decidedly unromantic chunk of town.

crazedprotective 2014-05-20

The sign is requiring protective gear. We have helmets and padded shorts. That’s probably enough. I know we look a little crazed, but if you had to ride through that construction zone at dawn you’d be lucky if you only looked that berserk.

Five days, gone like they were nothing, when I know they were so full. I really hope I got enough done. I’m a little tired.

(PS. We’ve finished juggling hotel rooms at the Resort, and if you’re into this sort of thing, we’ve got ONE spot left for a lucky knitter who likes to/would like to cook at the Strung Along June “Knit, Play, Cook” Retreat.  (That’s the link. The email is I’m going to take a nap. Or spin. It’s almost the same. I sure hope someone cleans up the kitchen.)

Some days you’re the bug

Jen and I got up early this morning again, and although the ground was wet the rain had stopped and so off we went. These early morning rides, I don’t know quite what to say about them.  We love them some days,  we hate them some days, but if two slightly dumpy middle-aged mothers are going to ride with the big boys, we need them.  We’d been up late last night (if you call 10:15 late, which you should, if you’re riding 40km before work) taking care of team business and trying to find two consecutive days to do our back-to-backs.  The rally has all these deadlines designed to make sure that you’re hitting benchmarks for training. You need to do a 50k by May 18th (done!) a 90+ by June 21st (yikes) but the hardest one is the back-to-backs.  By July 6th you have to have ridden two 90+ rides in two days.

Jen and I both travel for work, both have families, both have jobs, and we knew that when we agreed not just to do the rally again, but to be team leads, that this would be tricky, but last night was ridiculous. We finally had to book actual days off of work to make it happen, because neither of us could find TWO DAYS in a row where we were both in town and not committed to something else.  We were both a little daunted, and I don’t know about Jen, but I had a largely sleepless night, turning over things in my head, trying to make it all work. 5:30 came really early, but after a long night, if you know what I mean.

This morning I drank my body weight in coffee, and left. Jen lives on one side of the city, and me on the other, so usually she rides over to my house, we do a little hill training, and then I ride her home, then come back. That way we both cross the city and back. She gets a little alone time, and so do I, but we also get to hang out a bit – if you can call cursing your way up a hill “hanging out” and I guess we do now. We were cruising along this morning and decided to take some rather dorky selfies.  (Somewhere Samantha is screaming “Mum! Quit with the selfies. You’re a dork”, and to her I say “Yes.” We are dorks, and we embrace it. We’ll do as we like.) We stopped by the big inukshuk, and we stopped in the park on Lakeshore with the dinosaurs in it.

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This turned out to be a tactical error.  Those dinosaurs are fun to take a selfie with, but they’re on sand. We thought nothing of it, and traipsed across the sand, took our ridiculous selfie, and then got back on our bikes.  Sort of.  The sand had filled in our clips, the little cleats on the bottom of your riding shoes that attach you to the pedals. (Yeah, I know. It’s an incredibly stupid idea to attach yourself to a bike.  I have a few scars that prove it. It is super efficient though, except for the part where you’re occasionally crying in the dirt.) Jen and I both had trouble getting “clipped in” but we managed.  The trouble started later. The next time we wanted to “unclip” they wouldn’t come out. “I’m stuck!” cried Jen, and I would have been afraid for her, but I was too busy realizing that I was stuck too, and that we were both totally going to die.

A little panic and force and out they came, and we didn’t die after all, but we had to be really, really careful for the remainder of the ride.  We rode to Jen’s where we talked about cleaning out the clips, but in a future sort of way – and I drank (more) coffee and then rode home.  I had a couple of near misses, but every time I was able to get my foot out in time (I started doing it way before I needed my foot out) and I rode home thinking that if this had been a year ago, by now I would have been a bloodied mess of a cyclist, and I felt pretty proud of myself.

I rode to my house, and as I got close to the lane that runs to my back garden, I swung my heel out to unclip my right foot.  It didn’t come.  Now, rule number one with clips is that you only get hurt if you stop. That’s when you fall over, attached to the bike, and one of the things you learn if you ride in clips is that if you can’t unclip, you don’t stop. So, I didn’t.  I turned in the street, and rode down a ways, yanking on the clip the whole time. It eventually came free, and I circled back – rode to the bottom of the lane, stopped and put my right foot on the ground. Safe!  What a relief.  Still straddling the bike, I tried to swing my left heel out to unclip. Uh oh.  Never mind, I’m stopped already, so other than it taking a while, what’s the worst thing that can happen?   I waved at the old lady down the street who supervises everything, and then said hi to the letter carrier as she headed towards me. Then I swung my heel again, and again, and finally put a little oomph into it, if you know what I mean.

This sadly, didn’t free me, but did have the completely surprising side effect of unbalancing me entirely, and there wasn’t even time to counter,  and as I fell over left-ways – still attached to the bike, I realized that I’d discovered a whole other way to fall down. I’d literally swept myself off my own damn feet.

This was not lost on the letter carrier. Nor the lady down the street, who toddled her sweet 80+ year old self straight over to me, lying there (because I was still $%%$!ing attached to the bike) and said, in her thick Jamaican accent “I never saw nothing like that in my whole life! You were just standing there, and then you jus KNOCK YOUR OWN SELF DOWN.”

Thanks lady.  Got it.  So, there we have it. My 300+ days without a fall are over. I never even made it a year, and my mum’s idea of sponsoring my by the bruise? I have a super elegant one on my arse, just to add to the dignity of it all.  My name is Stephanie, and it’s been 0 days since my last accident.  Sigh.

Karmic Balancing gifts? Yeah. I think that would make me feel better too.   Remember – to get in on the action, you just donate to someone on our little family team –







and then send an email to me at with “Enter me” as the subject line, and give me your address, and whether or not you’d like to be in it for spinning gifts, or just knitting.  Cool?  Ok. Present time!

Dani, from KSC Designs has two beautiful gifts.  First, a circular needle case in the fabric of her choice will go to Carol D.

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and a set of gorgeous box bags (again, the lucky recipient chooses the fabric) will go to Pattye B. Thanks Dani!

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Liz R got super lucky – mostly because Maggie S is a little bit nuts, in a great way.  She saw this skein of 1350 yards of laceweight silk noil in the “miss-wound and hoplessly tangled” bin at her LYS, and turned it into this beautiful ball, only to realize that she’d spent enough time with it already, and had no urge to knit it.  Liz R – we hope you love it. Make something great.

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Next up, three lots of patterns from  Theresa at Woolly Wits.

Group 1: Plaid mitts, Bonnie Garter Tam, Gait’s Haire Cowl & Wrap will be sent off to Mary Beth M.

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Group 2: Double Dealing Scarf, Farwen, Fiber Fest Hat will be off to Anne G

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Group 3. All Squared Up, Panier Purse, Mag Mile Hat. Last, but not least, will go to Ann M.

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Next up, Alicia at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe has a lovely gift.  Two bars of her handmade lotion bars will wing their way all the way to the UK, and go live with Bobbie S.  Bobbie will get to choose which two, and they look delicious.

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Finally, a beautiful skein of Alley Cat yarn from Wandering Cat Yarns, in a beautiful colour called Delphinium.  (Don’t you think that delphinium coloured socks would just be the bomb?)

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I hope that Jill S does, because this skein will be all hers.

Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to go take a hot bath with epsom salts in, and see what can be done about this arse. Thanks so much to everyone who’s contributing to its cause.

If it’s your job to eat a frog

My day started at 5:30am.  I know there’s lots of people who get up that early, but I am so opposed to this practice that the whole idea of anyone who lives this way regularly fills me with pity.  Anytime after 7:30 seems reasonable to me, but Jen and I are starting our training rides now that it’s finally warm, and we have to get a 40 or 50km ride in before work, and that? That means getting up at 5:30am and I can’t tell you how noble it made me feel to set my alarm.  You know that feeling? That “A am such a good person” feeling? I was awash with it.

Now though, now I’m just tired, because at 5:30am my alarm went off, and at 5:32 I realized it was raining, and I spent the next minute lying there hoping Jen could hear the rain too, and hoping that she was lying in bed thinking “hell no.” Her text came at 5:33, and it essentially said “tomorrow?”   If she was here I would have kissed her on the mouth. So – there I was, awake at 5:30, and I decided to embrace it. (I also decided to overlook that the rain means I’m getting up two days in a row at 5:30, I’m happier when I don’t focus on details like that.)

As much as I hate getting up early, let me tell you something about it. It’s super productive. It’s early afternoon here, and my to-do list isn’t just finished, it’s obliterated. By the time Joe was out of bed at 8:30 I had half of it done and I’d done a load of laundry, and I’d packed (mostly) for my trip to the Buffalo Guild this weekend, and it was all I could do not to look at him as he came down over the stairs and not think about what a slacker he is. (He is not a slacker. He works very hard, but when you’ve been working for three hours while someone sleeps, it’s very easy to enjoy that feeling for a moment.  I didn’t say anything to him – just let the feeling live gloriously in my heart for a minute.) I’ve got so many things done that this afternoon, well – I can do as I like, and here’s what I like.

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Pretty, yes? It’s a nun-batt from Inglenook Fibers and it’s the thing going onto the wheel today. Wait, let me open that up for you.

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It’s a great colourway called “Tardis in flight”. (Check me! Spinning two Tuesdays in a row, by wool, I will have this done.) I’m going to spin it up into the next pretty skein for a Karmic Balancing gift, as the one from last week, that pretty seaglass green cotswald from Nistock Farms is now a finished skein.

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It’s about 200m of a very pretty fingering weight, and I hope that Beth R loves it, because I’m mailing it to her house.  It’s not soft, but it is gorgeous, and strong and will make something hearty. (I really hope Beth likes it. Cotswald is a rare breed, and there’s fewer than 5000 purebred sheep in the world that claim that name, and that makes it a real treat to run into.)

Also today, I’m so close to finishing that freakin’ Color Affection that I can smell it. Every day I think I’m going to finish, but today might actually be that day, and I can’t wait.  I upsized it a little – sort of by accident, because I did that knitter thing where you just sort of glance at the pattern, and decide you know what it wants, and don’t check back in again until things seem a little wild? Yeah. That one.

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It’s going to be big, I’m sure, already there are more than 400 stitches on the needles, and I think I’ll end up adding about 24 more before I cast off, and we’ll see what I end up with. The bind off is going to be a haul. One of those real endurance games that are best tackled with a glass of wine and something good on the telly so that you can’t really feel what’s happening.  It should be a productive day for sure… a very pleasant side effect of the early start, and I just have to remember there’s an early bedtime on the other end of it, because tomorrow, we ride at dawn. (I love saying that. It makes me feel like I’m in a cowboy movie.)

How about you? Did you get up early? Do you like it?