Not a vacuum

March the 2nd.

That is my date of release from the evil workload. One way or another, it all ends then and I will finally be able to give in to the urge to lie on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor, weeping softly out of relief, knitting and eating cookies. It is the day that I will get more than 5 hours of sleep, take a bath for more than 30 seconds and the day that I will clean the living room. Actually? Screw that. I’ll clean the living room March the 3rd. I’m taking the 2nd off. I am so overwhelmed that last night I dreamed of not making the deadline and everyone yelling at me. It was awful. The house is trashed (no…really) the laundry is undone, my husband is lonely and the children are wild and strange. I used double sided tape to fix my hem yesterday before I went out, and that was only because I couldn’t find a stapler. The children and Joe are asking very gentle, tentative questions. “Is there going to be dinner?” “Are you ever getting off the computer?” “Have you slept today?” “Did you eat that entire box of chocolates?” “How is the twitch over your eye?”

I have stopped answering. They have started cooking.

Yesterday a friend called about dinnertime , and I set the timer for 15 minutes. (This limiting of social interaction is also painful, but necessary.) I was explaining to her about the mess, the dirt and the soul crushing, and while we were talking I was working around the kitchen ( just trying to keep the level of filth down enough to prevent a typhoid outbreak) and she heard a loud machine noise. “Hey” she said gleefully, “Is that the vacuum? You must be doing better”. This is someone who has seen the house in the last week. She sounded so relieved.

“No” I replied dejectedly, “It’s the coffee grinder”.

“Oh” she said quietly. Then she started to laugh. “That’s such a bad sign.”

Still, it’s not all bad. Everybody needs a little down time, and Tuesday was for spinning. Admittedly, Tuesday wasn’t for much spinning, but I got part of this bobbin done.


This photo is designed to distract you from the pathetically small amount of actual spinning that got done. It represents the sum total of the gansey effort thus far. I have some clean, carded roving, the singles on the bobbin, two skeins of finished, washed 3ply, and just to prove to you that I am serious about this rather unlikely collection of objects becoming an actual sweater…


See? I’m thinking about it, I haven’t read the book yet (March 4th) but I’m hoping it was a good choice. Anybody got an opinion? (You know, stuff like “Wow, I love that book, it turned me into a gansey knitting/designing maniac and the sweaters I knit now are so beautiful that people inhale sharply out of the shocking beauty of them”)

In other news, I am approaching the thumb placement of the MSF mittens.


(Why, I ask you. Why the hell did I go out into my backyard into the snow to pose this picture of this mitten that looks EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE LAST TWO. What kind of a twit doesn’t just save herself the trouble and recycle a previous photo. Who’s going to know?)

Rest assured I will be posting pictures of my intended thumb location tomorrow so that It may be checked by each and every one of you to prevent me from making a knitting mistake so big and so mind numbingly stupid that I would have to change my name and move to Belize to escape the pointing, whispering and public ridicule that I would be subjected to for the rest of my life. That’s the good news.

The bad news?


Sure wish I could find that ball band. I have one more place to look for more, and then (since I don’t have the *&^%$#!!! ball band, which I am sure is here and could be found if only there was someone in this house who was willing to give up some time to rip the house to shreds looking for it.) I’ll be shredding one of the first ones.

To distract you from my lost ball band, mismatched mittens and discouragingly low spinning output, I give you more thank you gifts.

Margaret has three beautiful skeins of Collinette “Firecracker”


That the random number generator says now belongs to Erin V.

Look what Carolyn is sending to Daniel B. (Who I happen to know has a knitting girlfriend…and may knit himself for all I know)


These scrabble stitch markers crack me up. I love them so much. I’ll admit that I harbour a secret fantasy about getting enough of them that you could spell out your sentiments on your knitting. You know, like L-O-V-E-L-Y or B-O-R-I-N-G or D-U-M-B-A-S-S (on a certain pair of mittens….)

Remember the lovely and charming Cate? She’s sent along some good things.



Her gifts are not those beautiful tykes, (although I’m sure Cate has moments when packing them off as “prizes” seems pretty attractive….) but a copy of Spin-off Magazine, and two skeins of her very own handspun, both going out to Wendy O. who I am quite sure regrets not receiving the children.

Debbie is somehow parting with this roving,


which would be brilliant for thrums (should the recipient not spin -or be inspired to pick up spinning the absolute minute she gets this) How ’bout it Kristie F-D? You spin?

Look at this:


It’s handspun from the very generous (and funny) Denise. The random number generator says that it’s going to Kerrie who I know will love and enjoy it.

Finally, I have to thank Teresa. She sent me the sweetest little present

that I adored. I was tickled beyond all reason, but it was this part of it that got me through yesterday….


A wool pig stitch marker. Take me now. My life is complete.

55 thoughts on “Not a vacuum

  1. The gansey book literally changed my knitting life. I swear it. I knit my first sweater out of it. I learned how to read charts from it. I will personally vouch for it.

  2. Once again I am randomly left out of the loop. So what is March 2nd? And I think that coffee grinders make the best sounds.

  3. Super busy and you still manage to whip out all these great posts. I don’t know how you do it. At least your family started cooking!!

  4. Stephanie-
    We love you! The evil workload will be over and we will all rush rush rush to buy your book book book!
    The scrabble and wool pig stitch markers? Genius! It is so much fun to see all of the wonderful things people have donated!

  5. I’m sure that March 2nd is some really obviously special day that I just can’t think of right now. So fess up, why March 2nd? I’m sure you’ll make it. I find it amusing that you’ve already planned the first week of your “freedom” lol

  6. Isn’t it funny how we treat every deadline like a hump that has to be gotten over before we can start living our “real” life? Like, as soon as I get this paper written, this pattern written up, this slide presentation over with, this application in. . . THEN I can do what I want! Until the next deadline.
    It took me a long time to realize that the series of neverending deadlines IS my real life.

  7. It’s a great book for learning how to knit and design a gansey. And doesn’t someone, somewhere have more of that yarn to send you?!!

  8. Snow! So that’s what it is! I always liked the background of your pictures and had come to the conclusion that you have marble countertops somewhere in your house. Silly me. Anyway, once again you have been the highlight of a boring day at work. I really look forward to your posts – thanks for keeping up your blog along with everything else you have to do!

  9. Well, what I’m noticing (through tears of emotion that you should have managed to spin some on Tuesday) is the dazzling snip of carpet behind the gansey wool. At least four square inches of your house are clean — we’ve got proof.
    A Thomas Beer story has the line “Mrs. Patch was a perfectly incapable housekeeper, and things in her how was generally dusty where they wasn’t sticky.” I leave it to you to figure out why this line, um, stuck.

  10. Wow, I love that book, it turned me into a gansey knitting/designing maniac and the sweaters I knit now are so beautiful that people inhale sharply out of the shocking beauty of them.

  11. I’m having this flashback to the joy I always felt as a kid when helping to clean someone else’s house/room/mess I was partially responsible for making. While my house is a disaster around me, I’d like nothing more than to twitch my nose, arrive on your doorstep, and clean until the ballband was found. Someone must have something similar! Does anyone really care if the dye lot is the same? I hope you do not have to rip, I hope the universe is listening and responds with an acceptable gift.
    As for gansies, I knit one for my husband, still classic and beautiful after many years, it will be a joy for you!
    BTW, glad family is cooking, next: laundry!

  12. Oh PUHleeeeese don’t rip one of the mittens! Saving it from a cruel death was the only reason I voted for knitting a third. Whatever reason would you have for knitting the third (rather than ripping back the second) if you end up ripping anyway?
    SOMEone please send her their matching remnant before she has a chance to attack that not-so-innocent mitten!

  13. Scrabble stitch markers! Hmmm… next year’s holiday present?
    (Don’t hit me — I go through this delusion every year, I’m still working on the presents for 2004!)
    Well, back to work on the boring, boring dishcloths. At least they are easy to knit while watching tv.
    Stay sane, Steph!

  14. Ya know Stephanie, the Gansey book has a cute little learning pattern for a mini Gansey. I made it and gave it to my mother one year…to put on her Teddy Bear.(the teddy bear says Grrrr.)
    DD2 later stole the sweater to put on her Am. Girl Doll. No I didn’t buy it for her.
    My friend Annie, who was at her wits end, just hired a crew to come clean and sort out her house so she could list it. She offered to come “clean sweep” my house for my birthday. I’m tempted, but I’d never be able to find anything again!
    Do you really need the ball band?

  15. Geez. You make it sound like it’s *abnormal* to use double-sided tape and staplers to hem garments. I mean, really, what is a person (who’s sewing ability equals the damage done by an earthquake registering 9 on the Richter scale) suppose to use? Duct tape? Don’t be facetious, that’s for shoe repairs. Everyone knows that…

  16. Stephanie — I took a gansey class with Beth Brown-Reinsel. She is a fabulous teacher, and explains everything with brilliant clarity. You won’t regret owning her book. I know you’ll change the patterns, of course, but do learn that cast on.
    What, exactly, is it that you do with such ferocious deadlines? I’m suspecting you may be one of us — I’m a freelance [medical] editor. And hey, isn’t anyone having babies in Toronto this year?

  17. – Sorry. I’m still in shock of actually winning something.
    Wait you have three girls, and a hubby. Time to delegate some chores.
    I hope things calm down for you.

  18. Got 1 little question: Dont your children know how to use a vacuum cleaner and a washing mashine? Can it really be true that the mother has to do it all..

  19. DO NOT RIP UP THAT MITTEN! In doing so I fear there will be a collective disturbance in the knitting universe, one in which we will all feel that mitten’s (and your) pain. Please, please, I beg you. Take the yarn that has been so kindly offered to you, ball band or not. We don’t care about dye lots and such. And March does belong to the Irish-celebrate everyday of that month like it is St. Paddy’s Day-green beer optional. You deserve it (I can’t wait-bookbookbookbook).
    Glad you liked your pig ;o)!

  20. Feb 2nd was groundhog day, so Mar 2nd must be wool-pig day. Can you borrow a second vacuum? You could convince Joe and the girls to have vacuum relays across the carpets and the winning team gets forbidden treats as a prize (perhaps something like what you dug out of the recycle bin after Rhinebeck?)

  21. Forbidden treats! That’s the ticket! Works for ME every time. I don’t like the idea of ripping that mitten, either. LOVE the wool pig!!! And those thank you gifts just keep on giving, don’t they? Wonderful!

  22. Ooh… If you do end up ripping the mittens (which hopefully you won’t need to) check the braid direction before you rip. It’d be a shame for you to have gone to the trouble of making mirror-image braids, then lose that to the third mitten…

  23. Oh, dear Steph, writing is not all it’s cracked up to be, I guess. I am now scratching Author off my list of wannabewhenigrowups.
    Stay strong. If I lived near you, I’d come and cook for you. I’d even vacuum.
    Really. I would
    Luckily, I don’t live near you!
    so, I’m up for the unlucky thumb club. you?

  24. ok, i read the gansey book to my 3 year old at bedtimes and now she is 3 and a half and knitting ganseys left and right up and down. it is that good!

  25. Rip the mitten! Frog, unknit, whatever, but don’t try to fudge the new one with some unknown yarn! I have tried many times to make something look good, arty, quirky, but it always looks like “And this is where she ran out of yarn and had to fudge it.” Don’t give in! Looking forward to seeing the end result, but I won’t be celebrating on March 2nd with you, as I have to host my kid’s 8th birthday that weekend! It never ends.

  26. I picked up that book several years ago..I love’re so much better at knitting than I’ll love it, too! I have no doubts…oh miss aransweaterin14days!

  27. Beth B-R is a gem of a person.
    Please, I’m begging you, do not destroy one mitten to make another! Poor mitten!

  28. Don’t rip the mitten!!!
    If you truly (the word I wanted to use was rejected by the questionable content checker b/c it contained the name of a brand of vodka!) can NOT find any more of that gray real KROY (all my real KROY is dark colors or I’d send some tomorrow am), use the purple! _I’LL_ love it even if it doesn’t match the other mitten.
    If you don’t match dye lots, no one will mind. I promise. And if the incredibly lucky, triply blessed, person who wins the mittens does mind a slight change in shade due to dye lot slippage — well, that person clearly doesn’t deserve the mittens and should send them straight to me.
    As for the Gansey book: you SO made the right choice. Even if you decide not to knit any of the specific patterns in the book, it guides you through making it your very own so well that doing so the first sweater is a perfectly reasonable approach. I took Beth’s class, which is always a delight even if you already know everything she’s going to teach, and still have the adorable mini gansey. I went right out and bought the book (it’s like having her in your house with you!), and yarn from Cherry Tree Hill to make a gansey with. I must confess, I’ve still not knit it, but I HAVE managed to get that Garnormous hank wound into ONE huge ball so I know I”ll have no seams, no joins no nothing… The yarn hadn’t aged enough yet…..
    Helen, who will not pout about not winning yet.

  29. i took a class w/ BBR at stitches midwest where we made the minigansey she discusses in the book. i thought it was great, i have plans in my head to make one someday using the book to help design but not making one of the ones actually in the book. it was a great class, she’s got an incredible amount of knowledge on the subject. :)

  30. Oh my goodness, could you please share either where you buy or how you make those Scrabble stitch markers? (That is if I don’t procrastinate my seaming and figure out how to make them myself, tonight.) They are the bestest stitch markers, EVER! (Can you tell that I love Scrabble. I must make sure to look for incomplete sets at garage sales this summer, so I can use the tiles for markers…)

  31. Darn, Helen said my idea first. If you cant get any more of the grey, use purple like you wanted to!

  32. March 2nd is two weeks before my birthday so obviously cause for celebration. It’s like the twelve days of christmas, only better. March really needs some federal holidays, doesn’t it? It’s a big expanse of nothing and schoolchildren everywhere weep in the face of it.
    Here’s hoping you find the lost ball band! There’s a saint you can invoke for that, isn’t there?

  33. I hope someone out there has yarn for you! it would be a real shame to rip that mitten.
    I live for deadlines. (Oh, how ironic.) I don’t know what I will do when I finish school and have no deadlines to make my life exciting and worthwhile!
    Some deadlines are less important, though, for example, Tupper’s mitts and my dad’s christmas sweater. which I finished last night and wove all the horrendous little ends in and blocked it… and then he tried it on today. Beautiful. Except… why is it a belly shirt in front and past his bum in back? (no, it’s not on backwards) When I knit it in the round? When I STEAM blocked it? When I have spent four months working on this EVIL EVIL monster? I hate dad’s christmas sweater. Never ever buy or try patterns out of Easy Knitting. Because they’re not. Easy.
    I need to watch Zoolander and have him eugooglize the sweater.

  34. I hope someone out there has yarn for you! it would be a real shame to rip that mitten.
    I live for deadlines. (Oh, how ironic.) I don’t know what I will do when I finish school and have no deadlines to make my life exciting and worthwhile!
    Some deadlines are less important, though, for example, Tupper’s mitts and my dad’s christmas sweater. which I finished last night and wove all the horrendous little ends in and blocked it… and then he tried it on today. Beautiful. Except… why is it a belly shirt in front and past his bum in back? (no, it’s not on backwards) When I knit it in the round? When I STEAM blocked it? When I have spent four months working on this EVIL EVIL monster? I hate dad’s christmas sweater. Never ever buy or try patterns out of Easy Knitting. Because they’re not. Easy.
    I need to watch Zoolander and have him eugooglize the sweater.

  35. sorry about the double post. apparently the sweater is not the only inanimate object conspiring against me this week… dang computer

  36. Okay, I have to agree with all these fine people. It is time for the young adults in your household to learn what house keeping is all about. Drudgery, plain and simple, but hey, someone has to do it. It doesn’t need to be you! If they learn to cook and do laundry it’s just another life skill that they are going to use all their lives….well, duh. I won’t tell you how successful I was with my daughter, but the Marine Corp taught her alot and she didn’t have a choice!
    I don’t know why March 2nd is so important, what sort of deadlines you are making. I hope you can hold in there. If I were only getting five hours of sleep, I would be killing members of my family and then stuffing the bodies in one of three manure pits that are on the property.
    By the way, the Tupper mittens are beautiful. Truly. You have inspired me so much that I ordered Folk Mittens and another one that hasn’t arrived yet, I can’t remember the title though, but it has some really cool mittens on the cover! Content looked pretty good too.

  37. The woolpig is to die for, you’re right! Was that one “special made” or can they be ordered! I love your bolg! I wanna woolpig too!!!!!!!

  38. Believe it or not your blog is helping me hold on to the fraying treads of sanity. Keep up the good work. :-) I am attempting to make my first pair of norwegen mittens and will probably not get past the first a third is beyond my scope

  39. I too am in an insane up against the wall kind of time, where trully– to clean the kitty litter box is a wonderful break. Your house, that’s my squalid house. I’m writing my dissertation, what are you doing?

  40. For the love of all things wool, won’t someone send their yarn? Something has to match. I wish there were a kind of light meter that would tell you exactly what color your yarn was, so that you could look for the same dye lot or a similar appearing dye lot.
    I also think that yarn shops should sell little scales so that you can tell when your yarn is half-way gone.
    You’re in my prayers.

  41. I wish I could review the Garnsey book. I’ve bought it.
    My mother stole it, and won’t give it back. Bother.

  42. I understand the harried feeling. I have the notion that we are no longer walking on carpet but that we are actually walking on layers of dog hair and dust and somewhere under there is the carpet. Luckily my cutoff date is Feb18 followed by a pseudo vacation (I’m working, I just don’t have to be here at home all weekend). As for the book, I wish I could tell you. I was hoping you’d have some knowledge to share. I’m going to go back and read your comments. I hope you get a day of rest before your deadline :)

  43. Take heart: the penultimate gansey book. Think knit in gussets avec monogram. A pit-gram under one arm and a secret coded message under the other.

  44. You know. The extra left mitten really should be one of the prizes, you know mounted in a nice frame with a plaque!!heheh.. Or the peices of the mitten.. if that is the case!
    some day to be sold at Christy’s auction house for a large sum to a knitting museum!

  45. Amanda? Samantha? Megan? Joe?
    I would like the record to show that some of us are not urging Stephanie to make you do the housework. I’m sure you’re smart enough to, and that she’s smart enough to have thought of it. (I can’t, at least imagine her whacking her forehead and crying out “Why didn’t I think of that!”) My guess is that she has her own deep reasons for not doing so and that you know what they are and are duly grateful. In any case, when The Day of Payback comes, I want you to remember that I never tried to sell you into bondage. We’ll discuss repayment later.

  46. Darling Harlot, rest assured you’re not the only one who’s used staples and tape on a hem. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s renewed staples and tape more than once because I can’t find a needle and thread and it’s the only skirt that’s clean . . . right?
    I was doing laundry for our household of 4 when I was in my early teens. Encourage the girls to do their own unless they want their poor mother to experience a psychotic break. Mr. Washie will understand.
    I fully intend to explain to my son (when he’s old enough for such things; at six months he still gets a free pass) that while the cats may have staff, those with opposable thumbs must contribute to household upkeep. Cuteness alone just doesn’t cut it.

  47. May I ask where you got those wonderful scrabble stichmarkers? I have been looking everywhere for some. Thanks for any information.

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