Distraction

Imagine me, far away riding my bike with my three little ducklings trailing me as we pedal through pastoral Quebec (I think that’s where we’d be there by now. I wrote this ahead of time) with Ken and I making fools of ourselves en français. Imagine two people, each badly handicapped in their second national language. One has no accent, the other…no vocabulary. (If they work together they may almost order poutine without being mocked by the locals.) Now imagine that each of them actually labours under the delusion that they are speaking better french than the other and that both of them are stubborn to the point of ridiculousness. All parties concerned now (having been biking and camping for several days) smell sort of funny, are obsessed with the idea that there are bugs in the tents, and one of them is likely regretting that their camping knitting is crack kid silk haze, (That would not be me. I’m a thinker.) since the relentless heat, humidity and filth are making the cobwebby stuff stick to him. (I would be the one feeling guilty for not warning him better.) I suppose, since I am writing this ahead of time, that it’s also possible that we have spent several days sitting in tents waiting for the rain to let up, and are on the brink of shattering insanity from playing endless rounds of “eye spy”, ” A – my name is Annabelle” and “20 questions” with the girls to keep ourselves occupied, and we all wish we had enough crack kid silk haze to strangle each other with…but that’s just too cruel to consider.

Regardless of what I am doing, this entry is here to occupy you while I’m gone with a contest.

The prize? Glad you asked.

Mug

A tricoteuses sans frontières mug, hot off the presses at the KWB swag shop. (Which I covet deeply but am forcing myself to give away nonetheless.)

How do you make this yours? While I was in Hollywood for the bookbookbook, I took a stroll on the walk of fame. The sock and I looked for names we liked, but we were only moved by two. These two I liked well enough that I diced with hoards of ravening tourists and lay the sock down on the sidewalk for a shot.

What names were on the two stars that were my favourites?

Leave your two names in the comments, and in the unlikely event that more than one person guesses right, I’ll randomly select from all right answers. If nobody guesses (which, frankly…I think is more likely) I’ll draw from among all guesses. If you are a California knitter and I already told you who’s stars I loved, If you happened to be out for a walk on Hollywood blvd. and you saw me taking the pictures (and now that doesn’t seem as crazy as you thought), or if told you on the phone in a minute of weakness…you can’t play.

Have fun. See you on Thursday.

Led Astray

Rams here again. Can we talk cannibalism?

I know the Harlot’s a vegetarian, so maybe I’m out of line here. But although no one else seems to be blogging about it, I can’t believe I’m the only one with cannibalistic issues.

Let me explain.

Every year our Weaver’s Guild holds a wonderful sale. They take a percentage to fund their workshops and speakers; I make enough money to buy more fiber, kind of like Ma Otter in Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas trading socks for a pumpkin to make pies to buy yarn to knit socks to trade…

And I understand that mature spinners/knitters spin for a project, spin enough for the entire project before they cast on and then actually use that yarn for the project they intended. I, on the other hand, am Grommit. You will recall that in “The Wrong Trousers” the burglar penguin (trust me) is making his in-house getaway on Wallace’s model railroad and tries to thwart the pursing Grommit by throwing a switch to send Grommit’s engine onto a siding. As the end of the track appears, Grommit grabs a spare box of track, leans over the end of the engine and lays piece after piece of track just ahead of himself. That’s me every November, spinning what I hope is just enough to finish this Fair Isle Tam, that mitten, in time for the sale, running out, spinning a bit more. I’m this close to tethering a sheep in the living room.

And like every bad habit, this one’s colonial. I’d really like to blame my current sin on Brainylady That picture on Harlot’s July 18 post of her perfect spiral scarf (soooo much more appealing than the illustration in Scarf Style where a flat white yarn resulted in something that looked like chitlins to me and an umbilicus to Stephanie) jolted me. I remembered that I’d already cast one on in Blue Moon Targee as part of my ongoing quest for good uses for handpainted yarns, and Brainylady’s challenge resulted in a little domestic archaeology.

Spiralofmany

You’d think I’d be happy.

The problem is that I’m a word person. And in the text describing this scarf there’s the casual comment that since it’s actually two sides spiraling around each other (it’s a very ingenious pattern) it could be made in two different colors. Just that. No picture. And I’m afraid that’s where the cannibalism comes in. I’d been spinning white merino-angora and black alpaca for Norwegian mittens, and I was going to be virtuous, going to have enough for BOTH mittens before casting on. That’s a fair amount of yarn.

Blackandwhite

Oh, well. It’s a long time till November.

Happy Birthday Nana Carol!

This is Joe’s Mum.

Cbd

She’s just about the nicest mother-in-law anyone could ever hope to have, not only did she create my very nice Joe, but she saw to it that he could cook, clean (I said he can…not that he does) and made sure he knew enough about the way the world works to bring me coffee in the morning and that he knows how to iron a little girls pink party dress.

In addition:

- She knits. (See? you like her already don’t you?)

- She had four kids and lived to tell about it.

- She used to, (because she lived near the ocean and Joe tends to wander) TIE Joe to the house with a length of rope when he was little. I love that. (I’ve had similar urges.)

- Carol has never once said squat about the way that I neglect housework. In fact, she claims that her house was like that when her kids were younger. I know that she’s lying, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

-Her generosity is only matched by her patience.

- Her good attitude is only outshone by her willingness to try new things and go new places.

- Her hair is perfectly, beautifully white. (I hope my hair goes like that. It won’t, but I can dream.)

- The carrot casserole. (If you had eaten it, you would understand.)

- Carol’s wonderful sense of humour, ability to roll with the punches and unlimited grace under pressure. The woman can have an entire house full of lunatics at Christmas, more arriving for dinner, some coming for lunch, neighbours dropping in to the porch, various plane schedules colliding, guitars playing in the living room, Brittany Spears blasting from the basement, granddaughters and neighbourhood rabble playing dress-up and trouping through the living room wearing negligees and cardboard wings and in the middle of all of that, when any normal woman would be sobbing on the bathroom floor, dressed only in pantyhose, begging for sweet release, Carol will be making a wild rice pilaf, opening a decent merlot and getting you a deal on new sheets.

Happy Birthday Carol. We love you.

(PS. Sam says you smell nice too.)

Walk around the block

Yesterday Mairi asked about blocking. How I do it, where I do it, what pins I have…how I manage the big stuff. There’s lots of opinions on this, and many clever people have written about it.

There’s a knitty article here, and if you want to see it done by someone who really, really is not screwing around, check out Judy Gibson’s pages. (Note: Judy’s knitting often inspires waves of jealous nausea in the unprepared. Sit quietly and let the wonder of her sweep over you until you feel a sense of respectful awe instead. This may take some time if you have recently had your arse kicked by some lace knitting.)

I am a really big fan of full-immersion multi pin blocking. I have no interest in laying damp cloths over things or lightly steaming them into shape. I want the big swish. It is the act of bending knitting to my will that I love, and I have the most control when the piece is properly wet. Usually, the blocking bath is also the first wash and since I knit all over the place, the item can usually use it. After the wash I use a simple system of strings and pins to get the shape I want and leave it to dry. This takes very little time and effort with sweater pieces or stuff like that…but can be involved with lace.

Here’s the Harlot Lace blocking method…such as it is.

1. I assess the piece and come up with a plan. Any straight edges?

Edge

I take a darning needle and smooth yarn (a piece much longer than I think the knitting will block out to) and thread it through the edge I would like to keep straight. The example here is the top edge of a triangular shawl. I hear tell of knitters who use blocking wires for this part, but I don’t have any.

2. I soak the piece in a room temperature bath with wool wash for about 10-20 minutes. Shorter for alpaca and silk….longer for stretchy wool (like merino) that is difficult to persuade.

3. Gather the knitting into a ball while it is still in the water, you don’t want to lift it out so that it gets stretched or pulled out of shape while you are moving it. Lift it up, plop it onto a clean towel and wrap it in the towel. Step on it a couple of times to squish out the worst of the dripping sodden-ness. You want the thing somewhere between damp and wet.

4. I take it to my bed, which I have stripped of duvet and pillows, just leaving the clean bedsheet. I use my bed because it is big, because you can jam a million pins into it without it mattering, and because lace dries really fast. If you block in the morning it will be dry by bedtime. (If you are worried about ending up sleeping on the couch, use a fan. It speeds it up a lot.) I’m sure I don’t have to warn you that if you have a waterbed or a bed covered in an electric cover that it’s a really bad idea to stick pins into it, no matter how careful you intend to be.

5. I spread the wet thing out and give it a little shove into shape to make sure it’s going to fit on the bed the way it is. Then I stab a collection of pins into the bed and stretch the string for the top edge tightly between them.

Stretch

The string is a brilliant thing. If you don’t use it, you will spend hours and hours trying to eliminate little scallops along the edge…

Scallops

You don’t want that. It’s crazy making. If you have any sort of perfectionist tendencies at all, save yourself the anguish trying to get a straight edge with pins. It leads to this….

Toomany

Speaking of pins, I use the dressmakers rustproof pins (that rustproof is important. You want that.) and I get the ones with the little coloured balls on the ends to reduce the odds that I will miss a pin in our bed and end up giving Joe a surprise that will also give him an opinion about blocking on the bed. (Also, whenever possible, in the interests of marital politeness, I block on my side. That way, if I miss a pin or the bed is a wee bit damp at bedtime…I’m not annoying someone who really doesn’t think that properly blocked lace is worth sleeping in a wet bed.)

6. Using your trusty tape measure, measure out from the centre of the piece and pin the two points (or edges or whatever your thing has).

7. Follow down a centre line and pin the point (or bottom edge, or whatever your thing has.)

Bottompoint

Don’t worry about how lame it looks right now. Give it some room.

8. Pin out any points…..

Sides

Working back and forth, side to side. Pinning the centre of one side then the other, then a point between those, then the matching one on the other side. Pull the knitting firmly, but not alarmingly, since it is possible to break a thread if your knitting is fine, and you really will have to go lie in the road if that happens.

Morepoints

(Note: any spots you see on the sheets are water from the shawl, not anything on my bed that you don’t want to know about. I can’t believe I typed that, but Rams would never let it go if I didn’t cut her off at the pass.)

9. When the whole thing is pinned out, take a look. Do the sides look even? Are your slopes straight? Is there any pins or strings you can move? If it is very stretchy (like merino) you may find that once the lace has been pinned out and “rested” for a few minutes, that it can be further pinned out, moving the pins further outward, stretching the lace more.

Allpinned

(That picture is totally crooked because I was too short to get the whole thing in the frame. I was also too lazy to go get a chair to stand on, so I just held the camera over my head. Sorry. I’ll try to be a better blogger from now on.)

10. Wait. Ken finds it helpful to admire the knitting every so often, but I stay away. I’m a little on the obsessive side and I find a pin to move every time, so it’s better for me to go out.

Pinorama

When the lace is thoroughly dry (and not one second before.) you may unpin and dance around with the it held aloft. Show the cat. Show your neighbours.

Party hard on the thrill of blocking.

Not The Harlot

Pssst. Over here.

No, here. In the corner. That’s right. Hi.

I’m Rams. And I’m going to (no, Stephanie isn’t here right now) to ask you to cast your minds back (Soon. She’ll be back real soon.) to your babysitting days. (She went for a little bike ride, okay? And she’s going to bring back lots of nice…)

Now see here. Get a grip.

No, wait, my fault. The baby on Jim Henson’s “Dinosaurs” used to react to alternate caregivers (like his father) by shrilling “NOT the mama! NOT the mama! NOT the mama!” and anyone filling in for Stephanie’s got to anticipate a similar response.

As I see it, I have two choices, Imitation and Distraction (Uglification and Derision will be along in a minute.) On the one hand I could start adding “u” to any word ending in “or” in a valourous attempt to add local colour. I could allude to Rick Mercer’s blog, complain that the kids dripped poutine on the chesterfield, show no surprise that a “combo” at Tim Horton’s means “with coffee” and say “arse.” (Okay, that last wouldn’t be much of a strain.)

Or. There’s Choice B – Distraction. This is where the babysitter puts in the Thomas the Tank Engine tape, pulls out all the pots and pans to bang on and even starts sharing her Mint Milanos. Of course this is too transparent a technique to use with sophisticated adults. (LOOK! A baby panda!) Greater subtlety is required. For example:

Manysocks

Well, one incomplete sock isn’t going to do it, right? To simultaneously distract, suck up and impress/horrify you, I need to come up with spectacle. Now, granted I just finished teaching a sock knitting class and felt it was My Duty to have a sock at every possible stage of completion, just in case, um, you know, someone needed a demonstration of what came next. Still, that may not quite explain my compulsion to cast on every ball of sock yarn in the house and order

Sockpatt

three new colorways (oops, colourways) of Blue Moon Socks That Rock.

(Actually, this feels more like the knitting equivalent of the Locking Yourself Out story, where everyone competes to prove they were even dumber than you were. I once had to burgle my own house because I had a pot of water boiling on the gas stove, but my friend Lynn left her locked car running in the teacher’s lot all day long and even returning to it after school just wondered why every car was covered with snow but hers. My boss, however, holds the current title, having stopped to check his country-road mailbox and locked himself out of his car which was running, in the road and nearly out of gas. Not enough? He also locked himself INTO our store’s former “air lock,” between the shop’s back door, which automatically locked, and the outer door, which at that point had a deadbolt. Keys on his desk. Gotta love that man.)

No, no, wait. Don’t wobble that collective lower lip at me. No lemur eyes! (What would Stephanie do, what would Stephanie do….)

I know! A vote! (I’ve always suspected her polls are a way to get us to play quietly while she gets some work done.) All right, how about this — No, really, I need your help….

A lot of us love handpainted yarns, the variety, the colors, the plot, the way the project just sings along while you wait to see what color comes next. Yet when all’s said and done, too often you step back and look and that schmatte might just as well have been knit of Red Heart Mexicalli. Okay, so Gretchen Huggett, the head of textiles at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and I have been experimenting with dying intervals, spinning techniques and patterns in which handpainted yarns would be indispensable, not an afterthought. We tried producing self-patterning sock yarns, some successful

Sockspinkheel

(Why yes, there are two of them – thanks for noticing,) and some less so, like those blue and yellow ones in the group shot (Shut up. They were supposed to be Pansy Socks, purple and blue with a touch of gold, but that chrome yellow makes everyone in Michigan start humming “Hail to the Victors”) Then we moved on to bigger things.

We dyed parallel lots of merino/tussah/alpaca roving in identical colors,

Roving

then took them home to spin

Bluepinkpurple

and knit into completely different stoles. We’re working on an article (well, two articles of clothing, but you know what I mean,) so I can’t reveal too much, and nothing at all about what Gretchen’s up to, but I’m stalled. I’d never liked modular knitting until I saw Barbara Venishnick‘s ingenious top in the summer 2004 Vogue Knitting. Adapting its diagonally-migrating diamonds for my purposes, I envisioned a rectangular stole with tapering ends, each end deeply fringed (so the fringe would taper, too) and knotted.

As I spun, though, and calculated (and recalculated – I’m an English major, so shoot me,) I began to get nervous about having enough yarn (this despite the reality that spinning it was taking decades of my life.) And we all know two things about fringe: a) it eats up a lot of yarn and b) there’s no going back once you cut it. So I chickened (didn’t hurt that one skein, spun while watching A Night at the Opera, came out way too thin) and decided to do my favorite lace trim.

Shawlr

I forgot about that point.

Pinkedge

Now, even the best of us sometimes have to make a couple of running starts at points before we round them. But see how adorably (read: accidentally) the lace-so-far mirrored the sequence of colors of the shawl? Until it all began to go horribly, horribly wrong (pink began too early, didn’t go on long enough, one point should really be three centered ones but then there REALLY wouldn’t be enough pink…) To further complicate matters, this stole builds diagonally, so that mirroring won’t happen on the right side.

So, possums – what should I do? (I mean, “rip out and get that point right” is a given, as is “block that lace SEVERELY – how can we tell anything from this picture?”) – suck it up, rip it back, spin more pink, round the point symmetrically and finish the lace? Or go for glamour and fringe it? How about lace on one end, fringe on the other? Help me – I’m flailing.

And she’s off….

This will be my last post for a little bit, since Team Harlot is heading off for our 2005 bike adventure. It’s 360km of family bike riding, camping and visiting across Ontario and parts of La Belle Province and I’m hard pressed to think of a time when I could need unplugging from the world anymore than I do. After yesterday’s meltdown I have a chapter and a half (instead of two) written, 6 loads of laundry (instead of 9) but I did find the camp stove. (I had covered it with a camp towel. Apparently simply putting a cloth over something is enough to make it un-findable. All I had to do to get those three hours of my life back yesterday was to move that cloth. Ever wish you were smart enough not to be able to outwit yourself?)

You know you’re ready for a vacation when all you’re knitting is little tiny shoes and you think there’s nothing wrong with that.

Yellowshoes

Nothing at all. These are the “Chunky Ankle-strap Shoes” from (which you would think was the only book that I owned) 50 Baby Bootees to Knit, using Knit Picks “wool of the andes” in “daffodil” which I quite like. It’s not the softest yarn on the block, but has a nice firmness, and has a little bit of a crunchy thing going on that really turns my crank. I think it would be quite good for cables. (Cabled bootees? I have got to get a hold of myself. This bootee thing is a disease.)

For those who asked, yesterday’s bootees were from the same book, the “Slip-ons” knit out of Knit Picks “Elegance” alpaca/silk. (I like that one too…I’m playing around with the new Knit picks stuff. This yarn is quite soft…probably not the best choice for bootees, since the resulting wee shoesies (for the love of wool. Stop me.) are sort of “limp”.) The little leaf on it is not from the book, I took it from “Knitted Embellishments“.

Even though I will be blog absent until the 31st, I’m not leaving you entirely at loose ends. The very funny (and sadly, blogless) Lady Rams will be entertaining you in a couple of entries, assuming that the technology doesn’t defeat us, and I’m leaving behind a time delay entry or two. There’s also the chance that I’ll hook up with a computer on the way…so I’ll blog if I can. I’m not going to worry about it though, since I hear tell of people having rich full lives without ever knowing what I’m up to. (Hint: Bootees)

The real question, of course, is what sort of knitting does one take on a bike trip? The knitting must be:

1. Small. If you are carrying everything you need to conduct your life, from shelter to pots, underpants to coffeemaker, on the back of your bike, you really have to pay attention to size. A sweater is not going to cut it.

2. Light. See reason above.

3. Washable. This will be knit by daylight and firelight, dragged in and out of a tent and crammed in a pannier. It’s totally going to need a good wash. Now is not the time to think of the white merino laceweight (despite it fitting reasons 1 and 2. )

4. Chartless. Charts suck by firelight. Words (a few) are ok.

5. Interesting. It’s the only knitting I shall have for 10 days. Just thinking that gives me the heebie jeebies. Who only knits one thing for 10 days?

6. Lots of work. It needs to be not finishable in 10 days, or I’ll have NOTHING.

Ideas? (I’ll check tomorrow before I pack.)

Please leave a message

We’re sorry, the Yarn Harlot can’t come to the blog right now.

She has procrastinated on a deadline, is beset by completely feral children and is no doubt engaged in a conversation that began with the words “She’s looking at me” with one of those children right now. She can’t find all of the camping stuff for the family bike trip (which is 350k and begins on Sunday) and wonders how the hell a camping stove she knows that she put on a shelf in the basement has left the building. She and Mr. Washie are not enjoying each other, and she’s contemplating replacing his sorry arse with a machine that will, you know…WASH CLOTHES without lurching across the basement screeching metallic filth at her while refusing to spin unless she coddles him. The Yarn Harlot, while usually pretty good natured, is starting to look at people with hostile intentions, and is wondering what it would cost to install a totally soundproof bathroom where she could sit in a corner and engage in a little bootee knitting to take the edge off.

Greentoes

(oh…wait, she did that.)

Your local harlot hopes to return tomorrow with a good attitude, a freaking camp stove, two chapters of a new book and 9 loads of freshly washed laundry to appease the infidels with which she is trapped.

For the record, there are 19 days until the first day of school, a return to a regular workday and the end of a kitchen inexplicably covered in sand.

Re-entry

As usual, I sort of flamed out on re-entry. The girls were away while I was, cottaging with my mum up north. We all arrived home, exhausted, dirty, sunbrowned (them) and yarn-laden (me) and descended upon poor Joe (who had spent 11 days putting cups the wrong way, cackling about big reels of wire in the living room and sleeping sideways on the bed. He won’t admit it, but I know that this was what he did..especially since when I arrived, the family computer had been moved from it’s post on the computer desk and had been thoughtfully arranged on the coffee table. The coffee table, naturally, so that a feral man can surf the web, drink beer and watch James Bond movies all at the same time. ) It took us a few days to get sorted, get the laundry done, take toolboxes, wire and computers out of living spaces and buy groceries. I slept, knit, worked and pulled myself together. We celebrated Meg’s birthday and I watered the garden. Somewhere in that, I finished this.

Shawl1

(Can somebody tell me why my arse looks like that? I’m not even sure that’s me.)

It’s the Diamond Fantasy Scarf by Sivia Harding, knit with…get this…

ONE SKEIN of Fleece Artist Sock yarn. (320m/350 yards) ONE. I’m delirious with joy. I love stuff to make with small amounts of yarn, and this makes a decent sized shawl (she calls it a scarf, but on me it’s totally big enough to be a shawl.)

Shawl2

I had some trouble with the pattern until I worked out that there is no problem with the pattern. There comes a time, on rows 36 and 46 when the travelling stitches appear briefly to be travelling in an unexpected way. I yanked back this row about 20 times trying to figure out how I was screwing up. Turns out that If you don’t try to outthink Sivia and do exactly as you are told (especially on rows 36 and 46) …suspend your disbelief, don’t try to “fix” the brilliant design and blindly follow her directions, all will become clear within the fullness of time. If you can do as you are told and follow a pattern without sabotaging yourself, this is actually an easy knit.

Shawl3

My favourite parts? The edge is knit on as you go, so when you are done you are done.. and the last instruction is to “Block Severely”.

I love it when you need to block severely.

I give this pattern a 10 out of 10. Gorgeous result, clever construction, brilliant use of a skein of sock yarn, charts and written instructions and a chance to pin 8000 pins into a piece of knitwear.

Nice.

Megan is ….14!

I have to tell you that I thought 14 was going to look different than this.

Megis14

Younger maybe. I think that’s it. I thought that 14 would still look like a little girl and it really doesn’t. It looks grown up, responsible and suddenly much bigger than I thought. Fourteen on this girl is perplexing, wild, changeable and tall.

Fourteen on this girl is….

Loud. We will remember this (I hope, unless it get’s worse) as Megan’s loudest year. From her raucous laugh to her “wild moose” (making this the only household in the world where the phrase “don’t you moose at me” is uttered) impressions, you can’t beat Meg for volume. (Or continuity). She was a quieter two year old.

Clever. This is the year that she told us to get off your back about homework and school, that she would handle it all…and she did. Her grades were pretty darned good too. Meg is clever enough to be in charge of some of her own destiny.

Tall. Taller than me. I don’t even begin to understand how something I made can be bigger than me, but there you have it. (I know that Joe will be unable to resist pointing out that I’m not hard to beat…but I’d like to point out that I made Meg myself from a couple of cells that were lying around. She used to be a zygote. I wouldn’t care if I were two and a half feet tall. I’m impressed with her.)

Funny. Meg’s sense of humour is sharp, quick and keen. If there’s an opportunity for a moment, my girl is there. She’s the best kind of smart ass….since she is kind. She’s also funny by accident and good natured about it when it happens. Riding our bikes by the ocean last year, our girl Meg pipes up “MOM! I saw a herring!”

I look at Joe, since he’s the ocean guy. Herring? Joe shakes his head. No herring here. “Meg? A Herring? Are you sure?”

“Mom! It was totally a herring. Totally! It was right over there with it’s tall legs and long beak!”

Oh. Right. A herring. We all laughed, including Meg, and laughing at herself was a milestone.

Amanda (Meg’s 16 year old sister who resents that I already got “Loud” and “Funny”.) says Meg at 14 has

Bad taste in music. When I said “Amanda…hey!” Amanda pointed out that she listens to The Back Street Boys and Ashlee Simpson.

Ok. There’s that. Amanda also admits that Meg is Good at sharing, and she’s right. When Meg is in high form, you can’t hold a candle to her generosity. (Amanda did say this sashaying out the door with Megs satchel and tee shirt.)

Sam (11 year old younger sister, sworn to follow Megan for every day of her life and torment her in all ways possible) finds Meg…

Picky. Food, clothes, friends, books, socks, apples…..it takes Meg hours, but she makes pretty good decisions. Meg is also good with those younger than her. She has lots of patience for Hank. (And Sam.)

Joe says Megan is Persistent, Tenacious and Hard Working.

Joe often takes a kid to work with him, and Megan seriously rocks. She doesn’t complain about grunt work and can be trusted to take the time to learn to do a job right. Meg’s going to be a good worker. Doesn’t matter what at.

Ken says she’s got

Commitment and follow-through, which are insanely useful and exceptionally rare at her – or any – age. She’s a planner, with goals of her own that she intends to accomplish, and she’s not just making idle chatter. She’s worked out how she’s going t do it, and (most remarkably), she’s actually going to do all of those things she’s worked out.

Finally, and I’m sure you noticed from the photo above, our Meg is

Beautiful. You couldn’t find a lovelier teen, though really, with everything else she has going for her…it’s icing on the cake.

Happy Birthday Meg!

Winnipeg sunrise

Actually, pre-sunrise in Winnipeg…as I’m up at a shocking hour (5:00AM) to get ready for an early flight home, and I don’t even care. Sitting here, pouring coffee into my tour-done self, I would usually be thinking “Kill me”, but because this is what I have to do to see the lovely curly-haired man waiting on the other end, I’m totally fine with it.

Winnipeg is beautiful, and flat, being in a prairie province. “Prairie” comes from the french “pré” for meadow (I think, it’s really early) and much of Manitoba is just that. The flatness is so awesome and complete that it is impressive in exactly the same way that mountains are. The earth stretches away from you, and the sky is huge overhead. I wish I had been here longer.

I was convinced that because the rest of this yarn crawl book tour has gone so well, that Winnipeg would be where I got my lumps. They had me booked into a really big bookstore and I thought that the universe wouldn’t be able to resist. One woman can’t be this lucky, no, no…Winnipeg would be it. I would stand alone, talking to two people and an ocean of empty chairs and that would be the equality the planet is surely itching to deal me. The universe would be balanced. I was ready.

I got of the plane and into a cab, to go here:

Radio

Be still my beating heart fellow Canucks, it’s the CBC! (Ah! I thought. Of course it’s the CBC. It needs to be a well publicized crushing.) I met this dude:

Ron

Ron Robinson (holding the sock and tolerating my oddness) before an interview in which I believe I did make sense, and didn’t say arse, enter an expletive spiral, faint or die. From there I cabbed it to the hotel, flung myself through a bath and left for Robinson McNally, possibly breaking a land speed record for harlot-hair management.

On the way there I showed the sock the provincial legislature.

Provleg

When I got to the bookstore there were many, many chairs, the scary microphone and TWO knitters. “I knew it” I thought, and I went to get coffee. The bookstore scurried around me as I perused the knitting magazines (Hey, Karlie…I met your mum and dad. They’re very nice.) and I cracked myself up because they were bringing MORE CHAIRS. At 7:00 I walked over to the reading area to warmly greet the two knitters (and possibly invite them out for a beer, since the microphone seemed silly) and here is what I saw.

Ocean

An ocean of knitters. An ocean. A huge turnout, and every single one of them a nice person. (Near as I could tell. It got weird after that.) Here’s Penny

Plastic

Who, unbelievably was sitting in the front row, with her little swatch of knitting from plastic bags (How did she know?)

and Carol

Carol

The official Knitting Teacher for the city of Winnipeg. (How can you not love a city that hires an official knitting teacher?)

The sock was blown away by the hospitality, stunned by the kindness and exhausted by the happiness. The sock and I would like to thank Winnipeg for saving the public flogging for another day.

Now, I’m off into the Winnipeg dawn, out over the prairie and flying toward home, home…home, my Joe and the ladies.

(I can’t believe I survived. Thank you all.)