It’s on again

We had a thunderstorm last week, and our internet went down – Our box was struck by lightning. (Just ours. It was a pretty personal move by mother nature.)  I’ve been reduced to working in coffeeshops and pubs with wifi, and today (six days without internet) it finally got fixed but let me tell you – you wouldn’t believe how much knitting time you have if your internet goes down.

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The big white shawl proceeds apace. I’m through the 14 repeats of the first chart, and I’ve done the transition chart now – I’m making Aeolian.  (Megan, don’t click.) There’s several more charts to go – and I’ve used most of one skein of yarn (I have three) and 2.5 vials of beads. (I have 6.)

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So far, so good, though it’s slow going, putting down the knitting every few stitches to affix another bead with a tiny crochet hook. The last row of the transition chart also introduces nupps, and no matter how loosely I try to create them, purling seven stitches together on the  following row is a little …tricky – if you understand that I am using the word tricky here to stand in for language less becoming to a knitter of my age and station. Moving on.

Let me tell you about this last weekend. I was scheduled to show up for a training ride – 54 kilometres, and the weather looked bad. Terrible, actually. It was cold, it was rainy – they were calling for snow, and I lay there in bed thinking about how I could get out of it. There had to be a way, I thought. Something.  I could text and say that I was sick. (I wasn’t.) I could say that I was just too tired. (I sort of was.) I could say that I was frankly, too clever to show up and ride my bike really far in the SNOW when the alternative was tea, knitting, and an audiobook.  I even thought about trying to explain about the nupps, and how I didn’t really think that it was in the shawl’s best interest for me to turn up.  Then I got up, put on as many layers of spandex as I could, and went and did the thing – and I knew it was going to be bad, and I had a tummy ache I was so nervous.

I wish this was one of those stories where I tell you that I was a lunatic, and it was fine, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  It’s not. It did snow.  It also hailed, and rained, and there was a headwind. (I always say it, the one good thing about riding in the rain is that nobody can see you cry.) I compensated for as much of the misery as I could with a positive attitude. I was deliberately kind with the (few) other riders who were insensible enough to show up, and they were kind with me. We smiled. We rode. We got it done, and we joked afterwards about how it was (probably) going to be the last time that we had to do it in the snow. It triggered a lot of feelings for a bunch of us. A lot of the group that gathered for a pint afterwards have been doing The Rally for years, most of us have taken on leadership roles, and donate no small amount of our time and energy to the cause.
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Later that day, a friend asked why I’d bothered to go in the snow.  Actually, they sort of wondered why I take the whole thing so seriously. I’m on the Steering Committee again this year, I’m a Team Leader again… it’s not just riding in the snow. It’s a lot of time over the course of a year – then you start training, and all so that you can ride your bike more than 600 km (It’s about 400 miles). Surely, she posited, surely you can miss a single snowy ride, and she’s right, I could have, but the thing is and I didn’t say this to her – It felt hokey and sentimental and I was afraid she’d think I was silly… but that feeling’s since worn off… The people that PWA serves, they don’t get to opt out of bad days. No matter how hard a day might be, no matter how hard facing the thing they have to do is, people with HIV/AIDS don’t get to opt out and knit a shawl while listening to an audiobook.  There’s no days off if you’re sick or struggling, and the commitment I’ve made to try and make that a little bit better for those people doesn’t seem like it counts for much if I only do it when it’s easy.  You know what I mean? It’s hard to explain.  That’s why I do it, that’s why it’s not optional when it sucks. That’s not how AIDS works – so that’s not how fundraising works. If I’m in, I’m all in, and this year I’m going to ask for your help again.

This summer (in nine weeks and three days) I will ride my bike more than 600 kilometres from Toronto to Montreal, in The Friends for Life Bike Rally.  This year, we have a little family team of knitters,  as always.  Ken, long-time rider, blog starter, and my darling friend who roped me into this in the first place, has volunteered to be a Team Lead this year, and in the interest of the Rally, we split up to manage two teams. There’s Pato, the worlds nicest 24 year old, and Cameron – our friend and my Co-Lead on the Steering Committee. Knitters all.


This year we’re also giving honourable mention to two other knitters on the rally – Heather’s part of this blog, and was so compelled by the cause that she’s giving it a go this year, and Val – she’s a local Toronto knitter, and this will be her second time on the rally. Maybe think about giving them a little nudge towards their goals, eh? They’re good eggs.
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(That’s Val and I there. She’s one of the few riders who turned up for the hard ride on Sunday. We’re smiling because it’s the before part.  So few riders turned up that for a while there we were saying it was going to be 50% knitter.)

Once again, I’m asking for your help. The decision to ride your bike to Montreal helps nobody, not without you.  Once again, I’m going to try and raise a ton of money, and like last year, I have a private and deeply personal crazy-pants goal. To this end, I’m going to do things the same way as last year, because knitters, you were amazing.  We’re going to do Karmic Balancing gifts again. Once a week (or so- maybe a little more or less) between now and the Rally, I’ll choose from amongst the people who’ve helped and redirect a knitterly (or spinnerly) gift from someone else who wants to help.*  Also staying the same, who sends their name along to me.

It’s going to be all about the Karma – just like last year. We’re trying to change lives here, make things better for some people, and there’s so much more to that than money, so, here’s the thing. If you donate to anyone on our little family team (or Val, or Heather) then please send me an email letting me know you’ve done so. Make the subject line “I helped” and send it to stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca. (Note the .ca it’s a Canada thing.) Include your name, address, and whether or not you spin.  (For the love of all things woolly, please use the subject line. It makes your email go to a specific folder and you have no idea what a difference that makes to my sanity.) You don’t need to say what you gave, or include proof. I know you’ll do your best, whatever that is, and I know you wouldn’t lie.

Now, we know not everyone has money to help with – so we’re taking all kinds of help.  If you can figure out some other way to do that, that counts.  Maybe you can tell a friend. Maybe you can post about it to social media. Maybe you can contribute a gift – maybe you can forward the email to people in your family who might give…  There’s lots and lots of ways to help, and if you can figure out a way? Send that email, letting me know you did. No money needed. (Of course, money is always good too.)

Knitters, lets go big. Let’s fill up the world with amazing, and when everyone at PWA asks who these people are, like they always do?  Ken, Pato, Cameron and I will smile and say what we always do. “They’re knitters. We keep telling you that they’re awesome.”

*If you want to contribute a gift, I’m trying to make it easy -It’s a ton of work, and I don’t mind doing it, but I have a better shot at getting it all done if you do this: Take a picture of your gift. Email me with the subject line “Karmic Balancing” with the details, picture and a link, if you want me to use one. When one of the helpers is chosen for a gift, I’ll email you the address, and you can ship it right to them. (It’s not a bad idea to let me know if you have shipping restrictions –  I’ll keep track.) I’ll try to get through them all, though it can be overwhelming. Thank you!