Now we ride

Today was a wild thing. I thought yesterday was wild, with picking things up and dropping things off and trying to find other things, and I can’t tell you what a massive case of the screamin’ heebies it gives me to try and pack for an escapade like this. It’s not so hard, packing for 8 days away. I do it all the time, and I’m pretty good at it, but if you throw in cycling and camping, all of a sudden you need a bunch of things you don’t usually when you travel. (For example, I don’t usually pack everything for a week away into individual large ziplocks by day. For the Rally? Two words. “Rain” and “earwig”.)  This morning I got everything I needed for the week into one big hockey bag. My tent, my tarp, my sleeping bag, my clothes, my team stuff, my knitting (some of it) my flashlight… everything. I stuffed it all into the boot and I drove over to pick up Pato, and after I picked him up we came back here so I could get my camping chair. That’s not so bad, missing one thing, but it threw the whole system into question and I’ve been worried about what else I don’t have all day.  We scooted over and got Ken, and kept on going until we got to the wild and weird place that’s Packing Day.

On packing day, you get two Rubbermaid bins, and all your stuff goes into it, and then you put it on a truck and that’s it. (Well, that’s not quite it if you’re a Team Lead or a Steering Committee member, and Ken is one of those things and Cameron and I are two of those things, so we were committed to stay until the end.) Once your stuff is on the truck, you don’t see it again until the end of the first day of riding – so… you’ve packed your shoes, you’ve packed your purse (because you’ll need it in Montreal) and you spend the rest of the day in your second favourite shoes and you’re wearing clothes you don’t like because you packed everything else, and your wallet is gone, but you have a debit card… It’s a crazy scene.

I took some stuff over to Erin after that, and then dropped the car off to Amanda (still young enough to want it every time we’re out of town) and now I’m home, and I’m tired, and I’m headed for bed because tomorrow has a 5am wake up call, and…

And I know I said I’d do Karmic Balancing gifts, but poppets, I am so tired, and I don’t think I can start the rally this tired, so I’m going to bed, and I promise I’ll do them all when I get home. (There’s a lot. Like.. more than 50.)  In the morning I’m going to get up, and I’m going to fulfill my part of the bargain. Despite the heat, and my incredible middle-agedness, I am going to ride my bike to Montreal.

I’m nervous. I have a terrible cramp. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but let me tell you this. I haven’t forgotten I love you all. Riding my bike makes no difference at all to this charity. I could ride it forever and it wouldn’t matter at all. It’s your donations that make the change, it’s you that has an impact on the world. I’m just…. a knitter on a bike, and you are amazing.

I’ll do my part tomorrow. Thank you for yours.

(PS. If you’re looking to follow us as we travel, I might not be able to blog, but  instagram is a great bet.  I am @yarnharlot. Cameron is @thesilverboy, Ken remains @five12plus, Pato’s at @_patovr.  If you like what you see, you can make our phones ding by clicking on our profiles.)



Yeah, that’s done too

The theme for today is “finished” – or at least I’m trying really hard to make that be the theme.  I’m just now finished with today – my bags are packed and tomorrow I’ll take them to packing day – that’s when we put all our stuff on the trucks, and then go home and have a big sleep before departure the next morning.  I’m almost finished with the bit of work that’s still on my desk, I have to take a run by Erin’s house tomorrow to finish something there, and I have a skein of yarn finished, this weeks little bit of spinning effort.  I’m almost finished organizing my bit of knitting for the ride, I’m finished the laundry, I’m almost finished getting Sam set up for a solo stint in the house while I’m away. (Joe’s away too.) We’re finished emailing the teams, I’m finished the checklist that Cameron and I had set up to tidy all our ends… and also finished? Look at this.

camsweaterdone 2016-07-22

Yup, that’s Cameron’s second finished thing.  His first was a hat for his nephew, and this one is a very nearly almost perfect Baby Surprise Jacket for his brand new niece.

camniece 2016-07-22

I’ll pause here for the collective gasp of impressed knitter breath. That’s right-  his second (well, technically third – there’s an abandoned hat kicking around his house somewhere) project was a Baby Surprise – and he knit it all by himself. (There were a few do-overs I helped him with, but I never gave him bonus rows.) Cameron can now knit, purl  – and switch between them, almost at will. He can tink back to a mistake, and pick up a dropped stitch.  He can cast on, he can bind off. He can follow a pattern,  increase and decrease, he can count his rows and he can make a buttonhole. To finish it off, he learned how to bind-off purlwise, and how to weave in (many) ends – those stripes!

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He learned how to sew on buttons properly (this is a baby sweater, those things need to be on there really well – and he washed and blocked the little thing.

sweaterwash 2016-07-22

I’m not sure why I’m as chuffed with it as I am – I think we were tied in the pride  department when he finally finished. Both of us smoothing and patting it with our hands, and admiring how all those hours turned into an actual sweater.  A bunch of my knitter friends have been rather impressed at how quickly he’s come along, and it’s true. That sweater’s a steep learning curve, but I’ve got a theory about new knitters – I think hard things are good for them (as long as it’s doable in the end) and I think that making sure it’s interesting enough, and difficult enough only hooks them in deeper.  With that sweater, every time Cameron got bored with it, something else happened, he had to learn something more. We’d sit down after a meeting and he’d pull out the knitting, ask questions, see how it was done, and be off flying until the next roadblock.  There was the occasional worried text – usually accompanied by a picture of something perplexing happening on the needles, but mostly he just sent pictures of him happily knitting, everywhere he went.

The best part though, and I guess this is part of why I like him as a knitter so much, is that Cameron didn’t let it be a joke. People tried, I mean, there would be moments where he’d whip it out in a pub, at a game,

camgame  2016-07-22

or after a meeting, on a plane,

camplane 2016-07-22

and people would say “You knit now?” And there would be a moment, where it was clear that they were thinking about poking fun, or making a comment, or something that diminished him or the act, and Cameron would say “Yes. I do!”

There was something, something in the way he said it.  Something that revealed a distinct pleasure and pride in the act of transformation he was engaging in, that he was proud of it, something that would shut the whole thing down, and in that moment, he wasn’t just not letting them treat him like knitting was silly, he was – like all of us, saying something about handwork by not contributing to the idea that it was inane, or a waste of time, or a funny way for someone to spend their time.  He didn’t buy in to what they were selling.

It was, when he behaved that way, as though he was Properly a Knitter. This week, when he finished his sweater, we went to Romni Wool, and Cameron went up and down the aisle, and he picked yarn, and he picked needles, and he made yarn choices, and he left with his Rally knitting. It’s mittens.

He’s finished too. He’s one of us. He’s definitely not stopping. Like most of us, I’m not sure he can.

camonthego 2016-07-22

More tomorrow. There’ll be time for a post before I get on my bike, and we’ll do a big round of Karmic Balancing gifts. I want to thank all of you for all you’ve done to move us to (and past!) our goals this year. The Rally is smaller than usual this year, and there’s a real risk that we aren’t going to meet the fundraising goal for the organization, and that means that choices will have to be made about services next year. If that happens, it’s not going to be because of knitters. You’re amazing. Our links, should you be so moved, are below.






Knitters all.

I have no idea where the tent pegs went

Today is the day, I told myself, as I woke up to begin a wildly busy week. I realized last night as I lay there, planning, mentally organizing, writing internal post-it notes – that I have crammed a lot into this last week. Training is officially over, thank goodness, this weekend I rode 180km (111 miles, for my American friends) and tomorrow the bike goes into the shop for a tune-up, and I begin a taper.  It’s a period of rest before a big event. I’ll ride a little bit over the next week, maybe 40 or 50km, once or twice, but overall I’ll rest. Sort of, because I think I’ve done a lot of “I’ll have to do that before the Rally” and now here I am, about to walk away from it all for seven days, and the “before the Rally” list is a little ridiculous. There’s the Rally stuff (nobody could find the tent pegs so I got more and I’ll need more sunscreen and what happened to my cycling socks?) and the work stuff (I swear that in the name of merino I am trying to answer you all) and the Steering Committee stuff (I will be at that meeting tomorrow I promise) and the personal stuff (why the hell I did plan a dentist appointment for this week) and the stuff with family (of course I have time to see you before I go, no problem.) Joe’s got to go out of town on Wednesday, so there’s my best helper and organizer gone, and I’d be way more hysterical, except for it was exactly like this last year and I lived to tell the tale, and I am doing a fair bit of knitting and spinning to take the edge off. It makes me so much less crazy.

I started this braid, it’s from The Artful Ewe, and the bill (stuffed in the bag) just says Polworth, but it’s clear to me that it’s Polworth and silk. I can see it.

polworthbraid 2016-07-18

I’ve got almost half of it spun, and I love how it looks. I did a simple division on the roving. The first half of the roving on one bobbing, I’ll spin the second half onto another, and we’ll just see what sort of 2-ply I end up with. It’s an adventure.

polworthbraidbobbin 2016-07-18

While I’m on the go, to appointments and meetings and the subway and anytime I’m not riding a bike, I’m working on a pair of socks that are (surprise) Rally Themed.  The Cozy Knitter (have I told you about her yet? I’m a tiny bit obsessed) has a Friends 4 Life colourway, and I’m knitting it. (You know, I’d knit it even if it wasn’t the colours of the PWA logo, but it does feel really right as I rush through this week.) I am helpless in the face of a self-striping yarn.

PWAsocks 2016-07-18

In the midst of this busy week, I’m also rockin’ the backyard office as hard as I can. No reason it all can’t be nice, and speaking of nice, let’s tidy up a few Karmic Balancing gifts, shall we?

Brad went into his stash and rattled around for a bit (actually, he seems very tidy and organized, I bet he knew where all this was) and came up with five gifts,  all lovely, because Brad is pretty awesome. First, 2 skeins of Scrumptious Aran silk/merino in Midnight for Jaimee A.

scrumptionsaranbrad 2016-07-18

then 5 skeins of Thirteen Mile Yarns (organic wool) in Light Grey and Blueberry for Marilyn V.
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2 skeins of Madelinetosh 100% super wash Merino in “Tart” for Tracy C.

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Then Jaeger Matchmaker, 4 skeins Dark purple and 3 skeins light purple for Rose T.

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And last of his gifts but certainly not least Cascade 220 Superwash Aran in red, 14 skeins for the very lucky Olivia W.

redcascadebrad 2016-07-18

Beth has one 2oz skein of mystery handspun, maybe light fingering weight, about 250 yards, consisting of cashmere and tussah silk. She says the only thing she’s sure about is that the colourway is called “Scarab.”  The only things I’m sure about is that cashmere and tussah are delicious, and this skein is going to live with Kathleen R.

bethscarab 2016-07-18

From the good folks at Akerworks, three beautiful gifts for the spinners. First one modular drop spindle (the winner’s chosen combination of shaft + whorl) for Erin F.

akermanspindle 2016-07-18

One Flat pack spinning wheel bobbin for Claudia M,

akerworksbobbin 2016-07-18

Finally, one Flat pack Lazy Kate for Omni M.  Lucky ducks, all.

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Yarn Crush is a Canadian yarn subscription box—they send their subscribers a skein of hand-dyed yarn, knit and crochet patterns to use it, and bonus gifts. There’s a couple of pictures here of what they do – but Caroline DK, Liz P and Stephanie D are going to get a chance to really see, they’ll each pick one box from what Yarn Crush has in stock.

yarncrush 2016-07-18 yarncrush2 2016-07-18

I’ve sent everyone an email.

Finally, out of everyone who emailed (Kate and Elizabeth should be flattered, the response was huge) the spot at Fall Squam goes to Robin T (Robin, you’re so lucky, you’ll have a wonderful time.) And the miraculous gift of Kate’s time goes to Eric L (who is totally the guy who does this podcast.) He’s very nice.

Thanks guys, you’re fantastic. There’s more, tons more, but I’m out of time for today if I’m going to do anything else on my list, and man, do I need to do something on my list.





All gifts, all the time

Thanks so very much for your warm words and thoughts for Erin, and especially for the donations – It’s cheered all of us a lot to see the “For Erin” messages pop up on my fundraising page. We both feel like as craptastic as this whole thing is, at least some good is coming from it. This weekend I’ll be out on my bike, it’s the last big training weekend, my last chance to try and grow a few muscles to use on the Rally.  Also, big news. Jen will be joining us for the first day of the ride! Team knit just grew by one member. I’m so delighted she’ll be joining us for even a single day. Show a knitter a little love, if you could, it’s really going to be a challenge for her – and her last minute goal is modest. In the meantime, the Karmic Balancing gifts have piled up, so here goes another big chunk.. way more to come over the next week.

First, Jess has two gifts from her stash, a skein of Malabrigo Lace in Dusty and a skein of Kraemer Saucon Sock in Black. She’ll be sending both of those to Jen C.

blackkraemer 2016-07-15 pinkmalabrigo 2016-07-15

Michelle of Greenwoman Studio has a copy of her Pixie Scarflette pattern as a sweet little gift for Janet D. (I’m thinking i might need that one. it looks like a perfect stashbuster, and a good quick Christmas present.)

pixiescarf 2016-07-15

Next up, one for the spinners.  Sabrina has a beautiful braid of 100 % Falkland from Greenwood Fiberworks, colorway ‘Bountiful’. She’ll be popping that in the mail to Kate M. I hope she enjoys it.

sabrinafalkland 2016-07-15

Now, a really nifty one. Vermont Natural Sheepskins has a $175 gift certificate (and free shipping) for Susan A.  I hope she loves it.

sheepskins 2016-07-15

Emily Wood Designs (thanks Emily!) has a the free pattern of their choice for Jackie W, Carolyn H,  Marina M and Keya K.  There’s tons of beautiful things to choose from.

Emilywooddesigns 2016-07-15

Jean is the lovely lady who runs Foxtrot Fibres 

foxtrot 2016-07-15

She’s offering up a skein of naturally dyed laceweight or sock yarn of Katherine T’s choice from her gorgeous shop. She’s also offering a nice present for anyone else who helped. You can all get 10% off with the code “FRIENDS4LIFE” – good until July 30th.  (Nice, right?)

Alicia went into her stash and came up with an assortment of Kauni that she’d like to pass on

kauni 2016-07-15

Donna V will be very busy trying to figure out what to make.

Jessie McKitrick, designer and all round good person, has a really nice gift. An electronic copy of her Floral Heart Mittens pattern:

floral hearts 2016-07-15
And 3 balls of Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage (2 in MC, 1 in CC, pictured sample used Flugga and Berry Wine), the colours to be chosen by Kathryn T.

Lilac is a nice person, and she’d like to pass on an obsession she has with The Knitters Book of Yarn. She’s not giving you her copy, she loves it too much, but she’ll be mailing one to Sue. (It really is a great book.)

knittersbookof yarn 2016-07-15

Anneh Fletcher (oh just click on that link I already added three of them to my queue)

anneh 2016-07-15

has a gift for four knitters – the pattern of their choice from her shop.  Kim B, Sharon, Louise D, and Louise W are going to have a hard time picking. (I did. That’s why I’ve added three.)

Sarah House – potter and friend of the show, has two of her beautiful mugs that need new homes.

sarah mug 2016-07-15

Sue D and Kelly Y, I hope you love them.

Finally, two awesome gifts that we’re going to do a little differently, because they are amazing, but maybe not doable for everyone.

First, the spectacularly clever Kate Atherley is offering up a really nice present. She’s offering up TWO HOURS of her professional tech editing services, and a hardcopy of her book “Beginner’s Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns”. Kate’s my tech editor, and frankly, you wouldn’t believe what she can do in two hours.  If you’re a designer, fledgling or otherwise and you’d like to take Kate up on this offer? Send an email to stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca with the subject line “Kate’s time” and I’ll draw from amongst you. Thank you Kate!

kate patterns 2016-07-15

Last, Elizabeth – the fine force that runs Squam, has one free registration for Fall Squam – for someone who thinks they can get there.  Squam’s a special and spectacular thing, and If that’s you, send me an email (stephanieATyarnharlotDOTca) with the subject line “Squam Please” and I’ll draw a name at random and be in touch with the lucky knitter.  Thanks for the generosity Elizabeth. Someone is going to have the loveliest time.

That’s it for today, but I’ll have more on Monday. (There is rather a long list.) Thanks for all your help, knitters.



Erin isn’t riding a bike

Often, when I meet people, they ask me what it’s like to have a life that’s so public. They’ll ask me if it’s weird to have you know so much about it. Usually I smile and say the same thing. It’s not so weird, you only know what I tell you. There have been things, over the years, that are too private, or things that concern people i know who aren’t bloggers and don’t want to be bloggers, and don’t want me to tell you things about them – things that are their stories, not mine. The last two months have been like that. My sister Erin has been going through something, and the family has been playing it cool, helping her to keep it private until she was ready to be public.

quebec 2016-07-14

Erin’s done the rally a bunch of times. She did it before me, actually – she wrote a great blog post about it here. She’s been a Team Leader, and she was great at it. Erin, like almost everyone who experiences it, loves the Rally.  It’s been a few years since she’s ridden it, she’s got a business and she was newly married and Hank’s a teenager. (I won’t say anything more about that, but if you’ve ever raised one, you know that some summers, you just don’t leave a teenager in your house while you ride your bike to Montreal.) This year was going to be her year, but it’s not.

coburg 2016-07-14

Two months ago, Erin was diagnosed with breast cancer – or, as she so eloquently put it, her left breast is a homicidal maniac trying to kill her. She’s had surgery, with really great results (if you only care about cancer, and not really breasts) and there’s more treatment ahead of her. What, we’re just not sure yet, but the upshot is that my wild and crazy sister is spending this summer lying around (not her thing) not able to do much (not her thing) and wearing comfortable, but not very sexy bras. (Also, not her thing.) We’re pretty sure she’s going to be okay. She’s been very brave, and very fierce and I’m unbelievably proud of her.

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I also feel terrible. I feel bad about any fun I have, knowing she’s not having much. I feel guilty out on my bike, riding along without her. Erin wouldn’t ever want me to feel that way (except maybe a little. She’s told me that if she becomes bald I have to shave my head in support, and it has been more than suggested that I get matching radiation tattoos. I guess I don’t feel bad enough about it all though – because I’m not gonna. She’s not that sick.)  Mostly what I feel bad about is what being sick is taking from her. For starters, she doesn’t get to keep all her body parts, and that’s a big deal, but also it’s taking a lot of her choices right now. Things she can’t do because she’s not well enough yet, places she can’t go because she has to be here for treatment and appointments. She didn’t get to dance at Megan’s wedding, and she isn’t going be able to raise money for a cause she adores on a year when the Rally really needs it, and I’ll ride into Montreal without her by my side.

Erin’s been graceful about all of that. She’s been graceful about the whole thing, actually. Stuff keeps happening that would have me raving, and I’ll look at her and think, that’s it. She’s absolutely going to snap. This is it – but then she doesn’t. She cries, she’s sad, and then she quite simply does what she has to do. She’s accepted that things are going to be crap for a while, and then they’re going to be good again. Different but good. This lousy scene is probably only getting a chunk of breast and one summer from her – and she’ll get her choices back, and we can ride together again.

I’m going to miss her, but I guess I’m going to have to do it for the both of us. So I will.

erinandiriding 2016-07-14

Without tattoos.



You know, Alpacas live in the mountains

I finished my Zuzu’s Petals. Actually, I finished it twice. Despite being really sure that I wasn’t going to have enough yarn, I had more than enough, and ended up embiggenning the pattern pretty substantially. When I realized that there was a ton of yarn left, I did an extra repeat of the lace, and then several more rows of the last section – increasing a little near the bottom edge so that it would keep flaring and lie flat. Worked a treat too – and when the time came to cast off, I took the suggestion in the pattern, and did a really stretchy bind-off, and while I was doing it, it was coming out sort of … ruffly. “That bind-off is too stretchy” I told myself, and then I said that thing that every knitter always says while they’re doing something that clearly isn’t working.  “It will block out” I muttered, and I kept right on going. The whole thing had taken less than 24 hours. I wasn’t going to let a little something like common sense slow me down. Even though that sort of thing never blocks out, I proceeded to finish, soak it, then stand around with pins and high hopes, trying to block out the ruffly edge.

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It didn’t block out. When I was done, all I had was a wet cowl with a ruffly edge.

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Now, the humidity is about 120% in Toronto right now, and this is alpaca, and so drying took a long time, but when it was finally dry,  it truly hadn’t blocked out. (I really had hoped that drying might fix it, but it never does, and it didn’t.) I sat myself down, undid the entire bind off, picked all the stitches back up, and did my regular bind-off all the way around.

edgebetter 2016-07-13

Victory, my pets, was mine. This time it lay perfectly flat, the edge all I’d hoped for, and more.  I decided that I would try it on and take a few pictures to show you. There are none. I went out in the backyard, and tried to pull it over my sweaty self – it’s about 40 degrees here today (That’s 104, for my American friends) and I almost had instant heatstroke. It was on me for about 13 seconds, the alpaca clinging to me, the fuzz dampening, me getting warmer and warmer, and in the end, I couldn’t do it. I had to get it off me before I died from the attempt.

edgebetterdone 2016-07-13

Pattern: Zuzu’s Petals. Yarn: My own handspun, from Upstream Alpacas hand painted combed top, 100% baby alpaca, in “Cappuccino”.

It’s going to look great on me in January. That’s when I’m putting it on again.


Last night, Joe and I were watching some dumb thing on TV, and I was so irritated and he was bugging me (not his fault, though I was sure it was at the time) and my knitting was annoying me, and my email was all terrible, and the weather was impossible and the dinner I made wasn’t very good and the cat was off the hook with the way she was being a cat (I am not snuggling something furry in this freakin’ heat, stay off my damn lap) and I suddenly realized that I was magnificently tired.  Then I coughed – if by coughed you understand that I mean I hacked until I just about wept, then I sneezed. Then I coughed again, and then I said something really filthy, and I went the H E double-hockey sticks to bed.  I slept for just about nine hours – except for the coughing, and when I got up I could see the way forward, and it was a day of rest and solitude, and that is what I have had.

Well, not totally. It didn’t absolutely work out. Joe worked from home for the morning, and Sam was home shortly after he left, and I had work to do, and stuff like that, but I could decide when and how to do it, and I could stay off my road bike for a day – and I did. I plunked myself down in the backyard, where it was pretty and nice to work, and I did the stuff that was vital, and then, a thought occurred to me. I had been planning a 3 hour bike ride today. I somehow found the time to give for that, so if I wasn’t going to get on my bike, didn’t I still have that time? To do something else? LIKE KNIT MAYBE?

ballalpaca 2016-07-07

Heck yeah.  I wound that little gradient skein of baby alpaca into a ball because I’ve sort of been obsessed with it,  and then I picked a pattern already in my Rav library, and I plunked my little self down in the back garden (until it rained) and then I went inside and kept on knitting until I felt like I’d done a long bike ride’s worth.


The pattern I picked is Zuzu’s Petals (because I was totally happy with the last time I used handspun for it) and I’m churning along, happy as a little duck.  I’m telling you, I’m pretty sure that I don’t have enough yarn to finish, and I don’t care. Not even a little bit. I’ll figure it out when I get there, I’m sure there will be something that I can do. I mean, I’m an inventive person, and… sometimes what you’re making isn’t the point, and sometimes it doesn’t need to work out, it doesn’t need to make something, it just needs to …  make. Be transformed. Move from one state to another even though I can’t.

zuzumore 2016-07-07

I’m just sitting in the backyard knitting right now, and sniffling into a tissue a little bit, and writing things as I think of them (and possibly having a beer) and slowly and delicately crossing things off a to-do list that is made up of all sitting down jobs, and I’ve let go of the idea of making dinner (screw it, we’ll have popcorn) and I expect tomorrow to have a lot more joie de vivre in it, and probably, a cowl, which has got to be good news for the cat, because last night her future wasn’t looking good.

Peace out, Knitters.

Spinning, all sorts

Ah, long weekends, and this one was longer than most. I started in on Friday, Canada Day here, and got in the first half of my back-to-backs. Back-to-backs are a training benchmark on the Rally, at some point before (technically last weekend but I am running a little late) all riders have to ride 90km (that’s 56 miles) two days in a row. The fact that I hadn’t done them was weighing heavily on me, I’m usually pretty much a rule follower, and if there’s anything the few years I’ve been doing this has taught me, it’s that the benchmarks are there for a really great reason. I also have some strong feelings about leading by example, and I thought it would be pretty hard to start sending out “Hey, why haven’t you met this benchmark” emails to my team if I myself hadn’t done it. (Cameron did his two weeks ago while I was hacking up a lung and pulling off a wedding, so there was pressure there too.) Only problem was that there wasn’t a training ride scheduled for that day, so I invented my own. Blog, it was terrible. It was so windy, and I got a late start because I didn’t have the emotional fortitude to ride in the rain, but in the end I got it done, in a weak and limping sort of way. (Full disclosure, I didn’t do the full 90km, but wait for the rationale.)

Saturday morning I’d made a commitment to sweep a ride with Ken, since his team lead wasn’t able to be there.  I got up and went to meet him and the 20+ riders who showed up for a Pride weekend ride, and we set out. Saturday rides start early. 7:30, to be clear, and our job for the day is to ride behind the slowest rider, making sure that nobody is left behind.  We “sweep” up after the ride. (There’s also a “car sweep” and they drive up and down the cohort of riders, helping, re-directing people who get lost, handing out water to anyone who runs out, and giving a lift to anyone who’s unable to complete.) We had, it turns out, no trouble staying behind the last rider.  While we were cruising along, our friend Amanda (not my daughter) noticed that my rear tire looked a little soft. “I know, I know” I told her, and said I’d pump it up at the lunch break.  Unfortunately, right before the lunch break, I rode over a set of train tracks, and boom. That tire went flat. Instantly and completely… likely a pinch flat.  We changed the tire, Ken and I there by the side of the road in the blazing heat, and I reflected (while I changed the flat- with Ken’s help) that this ride was sort of crappy.  It was so hot, and the wind! Riding into it was like riding through pudding. Way more work that it should have been, by a lot.  We made it into lunch a half kilometre later (maybe less) scarfed down and unreasonable amount of food, refilled our empty water bottles, and waited for the last rider to leave so we could be after them. No point in rushing.

mekne 2016-07-06

That turns out to have been misguided, because a few metres after the lunch break, I had ANOTHER FLAT. (My rage was complete, but I directed it towards the effective use of tire levers – which felt sort of good, because a few years ago I didn’t even know what a tire lever was. There was a bike shop nearby so I ran over and bought two more tubes in case it happened AGAIN, and then we were underway again, but by now, we were sweeping ourselves.  Any chance that we would have caught up with the riders was blown a few kilometres later when we were held up by the world’s longest and slowest moving train. We rode the second half after that, hustling at a great speed, and still came in 40 minutes after the last rider.  On the subway on the way home, Ken said his legs were tired and it was all I could do not to kiss him on the mouth. There had been so many hills, and it was into the wind, and he’s such a good egg you’d never know he was suffering at all, and so I thought I was the only one having a hard time. When he said his thighs were sore I exclaimed “REALLY I’M SO GLAD” which in retrospect wasn’t the most empathetic thing to say, but I was just so happy that I wasn’t in such rough shape and he’d breezed through it while I suffered.  118km (73 miles) in the bag, done and dusted.  (That’s why It was okay that I came in short the day before. My total for the two days was still 180km, and in my books, that’s a damn back-to-back.)

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Sunday, Jen and I marched in the Pride Parade, holding the banner for the Bike Rally, as all the cyclists walked and rode behind us, and the Prime Minister walked somewhere in front of us, and then after that…there was some dancing and a very late bedtime after we all celebrated the fantastic diversity and acceptance that is Toronto.  It was fabulous. Throw in a little sailing – a little more bike riding, and and then, somehow, magically, I found the time to spin* this roving,

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Into these singles,

singles 2016-07-06

which were then chain-plied** into this pretty fabulous yarn.

plied 2016-07-06

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All the kinds of spinning.  Bikes, wheels… the lot.  How was your weekend? American friends, did you have a Happy 4th?

* a few of you have asked if I’m doing the Tour de Fleece this year, and the answer is an official NO, and perhaps an unofficial yes. It’s a lower case yes because frankly, I’m struggling a little bit to keep up with all that I’ve got going on, but I do like this time of year when we think a bit more about spinning, and that’s what I’m going to do. Think a little more about it.

** Because one of you will ask what chain plying is, I put a video on Instagram.

Randomly, on Canada Day

Ah, another fine Canada Day, and who would I be if I didn’t take a minute to write something about the fine country I’m so proud to live in. This is tradition, of course – I’ve done it almost every year I’ve been blogging. There are Canada Day posts from  20042005, 2006, 2007, 20082009, 2010, 2011,  2013 and 2015 for your reading pleasure.

This year I give you: Ten Random things about Canada.

1. There is no cultural taboo about discussing religion or politics in Canada. As a matter of fact, most of us discuss politics everywhere we go. Coffee shops, dinners, parties, the bank… political debate is a sport here. It’s not considered rude to bring up either of those topics. Note: Though religion and politics are fine to talk about, as a a culture, we don’t care for them combined.

2. In Canada, we have no major politicians or parties opposed to equal marriage, which we’ve had uneventfully in place since 2005.  It is a political non-starter in this country, and this weekend, the Prime Minister will walk in the Pride parade here in Toronto. (Me too.)

3. It is free for me to send a letter to the Governor General, The Prime Minister,  the Speaker or Clerk of the House of Commons, the Parliamentary Librarian, all Members of the Senate, all Members of the House of Commons, or the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. Any of those people can send me a letter for free too, as long as we’re both in Canada. Note: Not a package. Just a letter, and if an MP wants to send a letter to all their constituents, they can do that for free too, just only four times a year. We’re Canadian. We like restraint.

4. Santa Claus lives in Canada, and his address is: Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0.  If you send him a letter from anywhere in the world, you’ll get a letter back, almost always in the language you wrote to him in.  This is because he is a magic elf, and also, Canadians are really nice.

5. In 2013, we got rid of the penny.  Our only coins now are the $2, $1, quarters, dimes and nickles. Everything still has prices on it like we have pennies though.  If something costs $1.99, and you pay with a card, it costs $1.99.  If you’re using cash the shopkeeper will round it up or down.  Like a lot of things in Canada, this sounds like it would never work, but everybody is doing it and it’s totally fine.

6. While Canadians have free speech (except for hate speech) and freedom of the press, it’s illegal to lie in broadcast news. There’s a law that says they “shall not broadcast any false or misleading news.” This can make the news sort of boring, especially when it comes to politics, but also means that Canadians can pretty much trust what we hear. This makes #1 less volatile.

7. There is a law against “pretending to practice witchcraft.” Actual witchcraft isn’t illegal, it’s find to be Wiccan, for example, but if you say you can perform magic for money, and then you don’t? That’s a crime.

8. The Canadian Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II, not the Prime Minister.  What’s that you say? The Queen of England is Canada’s head of state? Nope. The Queen of Canada is Canada’s head of state, she just happens to have that other job too.  She’s not around much though, so we have a Governor General to be her viceregal representative. The Governor General is also the Commander in Chief of the Canadian Military, except if the Queen is here. Then it’s her.

9. Newfoundland and Labrador didn’t join Confederation until 1949. My husband’s parents weren’t born in Canada, their birth certificates read “Newfoundland” as their country of birth. That means that although their families have been here for a long time, and my husband was born the same place they were, he’s a first generation Canadian.

10. In Canada, when a family has a baby (by birth, or through adoption) the new mother can take a paid maternity leave of up to 15 weeks. After that, “parental leave” applies – either parent can take another 35 weeks of paid leave after that, and the parents can share the leave however they like. They can both claim it, and stay home together for half the time, or the mother can take the whole thing. That’s 50 weeks total, and your boss can’t give away your job. There’s some problems with this, like that we haven’t figured out how to extend it to all self employed parents, and there’s a cap on how much you’re paid while you’re off (it depends on your income level, 55% for wealthy Canadians, and up to 80% for lower income ones) but for most Canadians, it’s a more or less paid year off when you have a baby, and that’s a pretty sweet ride.

11. I know. I said there would be ten, but I can’t resist this one. When our Prime Minister was asked why he’d selected a cabinet that for the first time in Canadian history, had an equal number of men and women, he repliedBecause it’s 2015″.

There you have it, a little slice of Canada for you, on it’s 148th 149th Birthday. (Whoops! Typo!) How about you, my fellow Canadians? Anything you want to add? Any wild or wonderful tidbits about our quirky and kind country?  Have at it in the comments, and keep your stick on the ice.

Happy Canada Day!

(PS. If you want to immigrate here, you can check here to see if you’re eligible. We have lots of room.)