Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

Hi everybody, and welcome to the first of many days of Karmic Balancing Gifts! (Yes, I’m totally distracting you from the part where I don’t have a finished Colour Affection to show you –  Maybe tomorrow.)

The first gift comes from Maureen and her brother Micheal.  Micheal makes these beautiful wooden yarn caddies (his etsy shop is Cathedral Grove) and Rosane M will be picking her favourite from Eastern Maple, Red Oak or Cherry. They’re hand made in BC. Gorgeous.

yarncaddy 2014-05-08

Next up, the indomitable Bonita Story from Dyed in the Wool has two beautiful  sock kits to share. Trip up the Nile will be mailed off to Susan V.

tripupthenile 2014-05-08

and A Walk through China will go go live with Maggie G.  Each one has a story you follow as you knit through the kit.  Cool idea, right?

walkthroughchina 2014-05-08

Alison Hyde, as sweet as ever, has a signed copy of her book Wrapped in Comfort for Kristine R.

and not to be outdone, Jan B Smiley has beautiful, beautiful large project bags in her Etsy shop, and this gorgeous sweater sized project bag will be winging it’s way to Cecilia H.

jansweaterbag 2014-05-08

Isn’t it pretty?  Sarah K received a karmic balancing gift last year, and so this year she’s paying it forward, moving three skeins of beautiful Mirasol Kacha (DK weight, 60% merino, 25% suri alpaca and 15% silk – 90m per skein) from her house to the home of Jen G.

sarahmirasol 2014-05-08

Dana had a lovely thought, she’s got patterns she designed that she can pass on, and so a copy of her Family Tree Scarf and Family Tree Cowl will land in the inbox of Jessica L.

familytreecowl 2014-05-08

familytreescarf 2014-05-08

A very nice little surprise, and I think the idea of accessories where your family members are represented by their birthstone colours is pretty cool.

Finally, the very generous Melissa B has a skein of Plucky Knitter Peep Toes,

pluckyskein 2014-05-08

and she’ll be mailing it off to Elizabeth M and I hope they’re delighted with it.

There! There’s much more to come in a few days, and thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who’s donated anything at all.  You’re amazing and I’m inspired by you.

If you missed the post on how this all works, and you’d like to catch up, take a look here – and if you think you’re one of the nice knitters who got picked today, check your inbox. I’ve emailed you all.


I’m so Random Again

1. I went for a bike ride this morning. A quick 15km, just to get a hill or two in. (I struggle with hills. I have to practice.)  It’s still so cold out – but I’m trying not to complain, on account of how much better this is than the frozen wasteland we’ve been in until now. At least it’s not snowing.  Still, I don’t remember having to bundle up this way by this time last year.

2. The spinning (the other kind) is going pretty well.  This roving is cotswald from Nistock Farms, and it wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but I love it.  Cotswold is a rare breed, and delicious to spin, but it doesn’t make yarn that’s super soft and bouncy. Instead it’s strong, lustrous and… well. You don’t wear it next to your skin. That’s all.

spinninggreen 2014-05-07 (1)

3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generosity supporting us all for the bike ride. We’re blown away.  I know that by now I should know that this is just the kind of community that we have, and that this is the way knitters are, but it never stops surprising me. It’s just… unbelievable.

4. In the first of many draws, I pulled a name, and my very pretty Fiber Optic handspun merino/silk yarn will be flying off to live with Marcia K, and I hope that she loves it as much as I do.

pastelstripedyarn 2014-05-06

I can’t wait to see what she makes from it.  Thanks Marcia!

5. There’s so many wonderful Karmic Balancing Gifts coming in, I’ll totally have to give some away tomorrow.

6. Guess what?

samsin  2014-05-07

Yup! She’s got it all worked out, and Samantha is in! Her little pledge page is here, and she’s raring to go. (And yes, her hair has a fair bit of wild pink in it. To paraphrase Barbara Coloroso, it’s not life threatening, morally threatening or unhealthy. Vive la difference!  By the way, her book  Kids Are Worth It! : Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline(together with How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk) are pretty much responsible for the fact that I have never dropped even one of my kids off at the edge of a grizzly bear infested forest at -30 and said “good luck, you jerk.”)

7. I think if all goes well, I’ll finish my latest Colour Affection tonight.

almostfinishedobsession 2014-05-07

I think that will probably change the weather – it seems to enjoy nothing more than making you look silly in an accessory. I knit this to match my coat, so really, finishing it should make the coat obsolete, right?

8. Thanks again for the donations. You guys are the best – and I tell it to anyone who will listen. You make the ten years I’ve been writing this blog all worth it, everyday.

I’m not even looking at it

I’m pretty sure that I burned out on the crochet.  I was feeling pretty good about it – Lucy left a comment saying that it takes her about 4 minutes to do a hole (I like to think that she’s not weaving in the ends) and instead of that being demoralizing, I was galvanized. I know it’s taking me 10 minutes longer per hole, but do you see what it means? It means there’s room for improvement, so II sat down, turned on my timer, went as fast as I could (turning things into a sport is sometimes distractingly fun) and when I was done I looked at the timer. 13 minutes. STILL 13 minutes.  Before I could think something foul about Lucy (which is totally not fair, she’s lovely – it’s not her fault she’s annoyingly skilled) I decided to put it down. Walk away. I’ll look at it later or tomorrow or maybe I’m totally not thinking through how unique and beautiful this scarf could be with one only one end done.  Eh? Think of that?

In the meantime, it’s Tuesday, and I made a vow to spin this Tuesday, and most of them between now and the rally, because I’d like to come up with prizes for Karmic Balancing Gifts this year, and I think they could be my handspun, if I can keep up the pace.

In case you weren’t around last year (or lots of years before that) when I fundraise, I give out Karmic Balancing Gifts. If you contribute, your name goes in for a draw (if you want it to)  and you might get something nice. I know some people would call these prizes, but I know for a fact that you guys donate because you’re awesome, not because you might get a prize and that means that these little presents are just that. Gifts – you do something nice, and then something nice happens to you, you get a warm and lovely glow, knowing that because you’re you the world is a better place, and then whammo – maybe a little yarn shows up.

The year before last I knit a few things and spun a few things, and I auctioned them off. This raised a ton of money for the Bike Rally. I did hear back from a few of you that you wished that this stuff hadn’t gone to the highest bidder, that you wished that you had a chance to get my handspun, or some beautiful knitted thing even if you could only afford to donate $5, and you know what, those people were right. A $5 donation is just as worthy as any other, karma-wise, and the only thing that should matter is that you gave as much as you were able, so this year I’m going to (mostly) level the playing field, and I’m going to start by drawing the first name tomorrow. I spun this gorgeous Fiber Optic braid last year,

fiberopticbraid 2013-03-15

and I turned it into this beautiful gradient yarn.

pastelstripes 2013-03-22

I can’t guarantee the yardage, but it’s about 200 metres of very pretty fingering/dk yarn. It’s not perfect, because it was spun by me, but it is a thing to behold, and you can behold it in your very own house if I pick your name out of the hat.

pastelstripedyarn 2014-05-06

How do you get your name in the hat? You donate to someone on our little team, and then after you do, you send an email to me (stephanie@yarnharlot.ca) with “enter me” in the subject line, and YOUR ADDRESS and NAME in the body.  (It’s a good idea to let me know in the email if you want to be considered for spinning gifts. It comes up.)

If you’re feeling the mojo, and you’d like to give a gift, send me an email with “good karma” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you.  This year (to try and avoid how overwhelming this task was last year – you all are so generous I could barely manage, a delightful problem I’d like not to repeat) I’m going to have you mail your gift straight to the person who it’s intended for – so you’ll email me a picture and a description, and where you’re willing to mail to, and when I pull a name I’ll email you the particulars. That way we save on postage by the gift only making one trip, and things don’t get complicated at my house and post office, as I pick things up only to mail them off again. I don’t mind the work to do this, but I want to do it well.

How to donate? That’s the easy part. You think about what you can afford to give, and then you donate it to someone on our little team of friends and family willing to get on their bikes and ride 600+ kilometres, Toronto to Montreal. The team’s in flux right now, not everyone is ready to start their fundraising (you wouldn’t believe how hard it is for a young person to make this commitment. This is a commitment that’s expensive every way you can think of it. Time. Money. Energy. The spirit is willing, but the realities suck)  so for today I’m going to link you to the part of the family team that’s ready.

Stephanie (that’s me. I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be.)

Jen (she was born ready)

Ken (he’s the reason that we have to be ready at all. Instigator.)

Amanda (My eldest daughter, who’s not sure she’s ready but is going anyway)

Pato (our “adopted” son –  so ready he’s cheerful about it.)

Knitters, all of us.  (Although really, Amanda and Pato would tell you they only knit in emergencies.)  Make a donation if you’re able, send an email (you don’t have to forward the receipt or tell us how much it was for. That’s your business) and know that our gratitude is wide and tall and gives us almost as much joy as the look on the organizers faces as they try to reconcile knitters with what’s happening to the totals – it freaks them out every time.

Now, I’m off to cuddle up with my wheel and get another handspun gift ready.

spinningspot 2014-05-06

Anybody like seaglass green?

greenbatt 2014-05-06

Apparently not the cat.

millieface 2014-05-06

She’ll make sure I pull a name tomorrow. She’s very stern.

PS. It’s been about 300 days since I fell off my bike. You have no idea how happy that makes me, even though it does wreck my mum’s brilliant but slightly cruel idea of having me solicit donations per bruise.

The Hook and I

This weekend I went on a crochet bender. (I also went on the first of many, many training rides, and it was so cold, windy and difficult that today my arse would like to write a blog post all its own about the indignities I put it through, but I have denied it the privilege.) This scarf I’m working on has you knit in waste yarn into several openings (by several, let’s be clear. It’s freaking 58)  and then when the knitting is done, you take out the waste yarn, revealing an opening, with stitches above and below, which you then crochet around with a contrast yarn to secure the live stitches and decorate the edges. I worked on it forever.

neeldesopneing 2014-05-05

I had one big problem. I don’t like crocheting.*  It makes me crazy.** I have trouble remembering which terms from which country apply, despite practice I’m simply clumsy with the hook, and I experience wild and varied problems with tension.  For me, crocheting*** is like making artichokes. It’s a ton of fiddly, tricky work**** and usually when I’m done I get something I’m not crazy about anyway.***** Maybe I was indoctrinated in knitting at too young an age, maybe I’m doomed, but I can say this: every once in a while, something comes along that makes crochet worth it for me, and this scarf is one of those things, and here I am.

crochetingor not 2014-05-05

Each one of these openings takes me about 13.5 minutes, if I want it to look nice – and that’s only now that I’m up to speed.******* (This does not include time taken to get another coffee or change into my flannel jammies just in case either of those things helped.) Crochet and I are so at odds with each other****** that to make it come out right, there’s swearing, and fiddling, and I’ve done at least five of those completely over again, and I had to use Lucy’s super clear chart of where the hell the holes are that you put the hook in the whole time, if I had any hopes of all the openings looking the same. (That’s a thing about crochet that I find really hard. Knitting? You put your needle in the next stitch. Crochet? THAT HOOK CAN GO IN ANYWHERE. Choose wisely, young Jedi.)

prettyopen3 2014-05-05

I’ve got one end of the scarf done, and that’s 29 openings, and it looks fantastic, and that my friends, represents just about seven hours of work. Last night I snapped and knit a little garter stitch just to remind myself that there are parts of the textile arts that I don’t suck at. It’s breaking me a little, this crochet, and knowing I’m only half done…  but still…

prettyopen2 2014-05-05

Doesn’t it look pretty?


*Note what I said. “Crocheting” as in “the act of accomplishing crochet.”  Now note that I didn’t say “crocheters” or “things that are made of crochet.” I know we’ve been down this road before, but there’s a big difference there.

** Note: IT. Not you, if you like crochet.

***See *

****For me. I understand that lots of people, particularly actual crocheters, instead of occasional wannabees with strong knitterly tendencies do just fine and think that it’s knitting that’s fiddly and tricky. Both positions are permissible, depending on perspective and skill. Right?

***** This is like the way that some people don’t like carrots or wool,  you’re totally allowed to dislike things without having a moral judgment made about you. It’s not like you can tell someone walks in the heart of darkness because they think spinach is gross.

****** Me and crochet, not me and crocheters. Some of my best friends are hook adept.

*******I want to know how long it takes Lucy to do one. Or any competently bi-craftual person, actually.

That was a close one

I swear that I thought this one was going to go south on me. I swear it.  I was knitting and knitting and going faster and faster, and I kept thinking about how embarrassing it would be for both Lucy and I if this didn’t work.  Two knitters, with at least 80 knitting years of experience between them, fairly clever minds (at least Lucy’s is stellar) and despite all that, and doing a bit of math, and the purchase of an insurance skein, and the fact that one of them is the designer of the project, and we screw up yardage? It would have been entertaining for you, but a dismal performance for us.

six metres 2014-05-02

I should have had more faith. I had 3 skeins, 83 metres each, and that’s a total of 249 metres. Resting there, upon the scarf, see that little butterfly? It contains SIX METRES.  I measured. I got away with only six to spare, and I can tell you that that wee bit there is a smidge sweaty. The last few rows were squeakers.   Holy cats.

All that remains now is my nemesis – crochet. We have an uneasy relationship, the hook and I.  At least I have lots of yarn for that part.*

*I would not say that if I were not totally sure. I know a booby trap when I see one.




These things

I was going to have a lovely post today about how I knit and knit and I know how things are with the scarf because it’s totally finished, but these things happened

1. Joe, completely and totally out of the blue, decided we should have company to dinner tonight, which is a wonderful idea and one I can fully support (especially since he’s committed to at least half of the cooking) despite the fact that you can’t cook and knit at the same time, which is a real bummer and probably the reason takeaway exists at all.

2. The sun came out – briefly.  I’ve been trying to get out for a ride for days and days now, but it’s been rainy and gross and cold and I don’t know if I’m cowardly or smart, but I don’t ride when it’s lousy like that.

3. The problem starts to be when it’s lousy all the time. Did I tell you that Jen and I decided, after we didn’t die on the Bike Rally, that we would increase our commitment? Have I mentioned (I don’t think I have, because I can barely believe it myself) that we decided to be Team Leaders? We have our very own team of 22 riders this year, and all the responsibilities that go with it.

4. I don’t know about you, but I think that Team “Leads” shouldn’t be trailing behind, and Jen and I are still middle-aged-slightly-dumpy-mothers, and there’s no way that we can just get out there and do this thing without some really, really significant training. and the weather has been so bad that I’m starting to hyperventilate when I look at the date.

5. Which means that when the sun came out today, I ran to my bedroom and stuffed myself into my (incredibly discouraging) spandex, and hit the road.  I got a quickie done, and that’s probably going to keep the panic at bay for another 24 hours.

6. I can’t believe that as a species, we’re thinking about a trip to Mars, but there’s no way to knit while you drive a bike.

7. In case you’re wondering, I sure am hoping to do Karmic Balancing gifts on the blog this year. I’m riding, Jen’s riding, Ken’s riding, Pato’s riding and (be still my little heart) Amanda, Megan and Sam are all riding.  That’s a super high number of knitters on a team. A record.  We’re so proud of making this a family affair this year.  Details next week.