On the Sixth Day

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, we rested. We’re fine here, and many thanks to those of you who dropped me a line to see if I was one of the 65 000 Ontarians with their power out from the storm. I’m not, and we’ve got no troubles beyond a few downed tree branches. (Just wee ones.) I’m sitting here recovering, since it still feels like there are mere minutes between social engagements, and I’m knitting a scarf (quickly) to give as a gift when we go out tonight. I’m almost done.

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That’s two funky yarns from Blue Moon, one row of each. 10mm needles. Whoosh.

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Thanks for worrying about me, and I won’t point out that emailing me to see if my power is out is a little bit funny.

(Hint. Computers plug in.)

Third Day

It’s the third day of Christmas and I had a really wonderful and witty entry written up until about 4 minutes ago when my software crashed. I don’t know what it’s problem is- It’s not like it’s been knitting like a demon.

In any case, I have a single sock and a ball of yarn that need to be a scarf and a pair of socks by tomorrow at noon, so I don’t have time to re-write it.

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You would have loved it though. It was all about how we had just the loveliest Christmas day, and how I made all of my knitting deadlines (except for the ones above, and a few more after that, but let’s not focus on what’s yet to go) especially the sweater which was indeed for Hank, and had the zipper sewn in on Christmas afternoon before I wrapped it up and took it to him which yes, is a bit of a close one, but victory was mine.

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Pattern mine – a top down raglan put together with help from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. (All the patterns in the book are bottom-up, by the way. I reversed it.) The body is in plain stockinette, the sleeves in 3X1 rib. Cardigan, zip front. Size 8 boys.

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The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted, in Pewter (3 skeins) Charcoal and China Blue (I think), knit up on 4mm needles.

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It fits Hank great, and he loves it, which is a pretty exceptional compliment to get from a little guy who’s other interests all plug in and have a screen.

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In the lost post I also told you that he loves the sweater enough to do a little shazam! for you.

The other entry also gushed a lot about how impressed I am with the donation tally for KWB – and how you guys never let me down and are the best sort of people. It explained too- that just as soon as I’m released from the endless parade of family fun (if you’re having half the fun that we are- then you’re supremely lucky) that I’ll give away more karmic balancing gifts and post an update on the total.

That post also talked a little bit about how yesterday everybody came to my house for a boxing day party, replacing our traditional day at Auntie Helen’s with a day at Auntie Steph’s…. and how I think it might work out, but it sort of cuts into the knitting time and throws the schedule off.

That post was great. Too bad you missed it.

More on the Fifth Day of Christmas. Tomorrow is for dancing.

An Unreasonable Goal

The solstice passed the other day, surrounded by days of darkness…the darkest days there will be all year. The night sky was marked, at least in this hemisphere, with nights where the trio of sister stars who make up Orion’s belt all align with the great Northern Star, and together, they remarkably point at the place on the horizon where the sun will rise in the morning – if you can see it though the snow, which I bet a lot of us can’t.

I learned to look for it in Girl Guides, and I remember Brown Owl shining a flashlight into the frigid winter sky, showing us the starmap. I went back home that night and lay in my bed and thought about what an incredible thing that must have been, back in the times when you didn’t know that the there is always a return of the light, that regardless of human effort or failures, the longest night always ends. I imagine hundreds of years of humans, camped coldly in the dark, watching the spot the starts showed them, hoping for sunrise and the return of the light.

This season has been like that for me. I feel like I have to “do something” to ensure the return of the light in my extended family. Some rite, some ritual, maybe a knitted hat or socks for everyone, maybe a sheet of cookies. I have even borrowed a technique from my friend Denny, who reaches out hardest and gives the most to those that she feels no love for- erasing hurt feelings and harm with generosity and kindness. Rising above. Being the Change. (I’m sure you all know that one. If you can’t get what you want, you can at least be the more noble being.) I feel somehow, that if I do all of this right, then happiness will be assured for all. It turns out, and I feel bad saying it out loud, but it’s just not true. You can do everything right, and even make the best meringues you ever had (which I did. They’re totally awesome) and things can still be unsure, scary or sad. This has bothered me. I’m a pretty effective go-getter of a person, and I do not care for things that are out of my control at all. I am also pretty alarmed by turns of events that can’t be repaired with excellent baked goods.

The other night, during the solstice, I went to this annual show that Joe and I always go to. It’s the Skydiggers Christmas concert and somehow if I didn’t spend that evening every year with my friend Andy, then it wouldn’t be Christmas. We took Rachel H. with us, and we went down there in the cold and the snow and stood at the sold out show with everybody else, and I found my Christmas. I found a little of it when they played “Hello Beautiful Life” (anybody at the Toronto Launch last year will remember that one – the rest of you can listen here. Right sidebar.) I found a lot of it when Andy played the trumpet, but most of it I found in a one liner that Andy tossed out into the audience. It was just a few words, but it changed everything. Everything I felt about the uncertainty of the next year, about money and jobs and family and lost souls and jobs all melted the minute he said it, and it has stayed with me for days and days – my new mantra for this season and the coming year.

Andy said “As we head off into a year of uncertainty, there is one thing I know is true. Things will be better if we all take care of each other than they will be if we don’t take care of each other.”

My house is warm. This morning, my lucky kids have presents. I have presents, and we’re having a great big breakfast. (To be followed later by more presents and a great big dinner.) No matter how bad things get here, we will not be competing with 98% of the world for misery. Having trouble finding the money for car or washing machine repairs is a luxury. Having loved ones to miss speaks to the great gift of loving and having been loved. My children did not miss a single meal this year. We didn’t flee from a war, we didn’t need medical help and not get it. We have a computer and an internet connection, for crying out loud. The fact that I bought any yarn at all, even if it had been a single ball (which it so wasn’t. I cop to that.) means I had extra money. I have people to take care of, and people who take care of me.

Tonight, when my knitting is done and my family is all together, I’ll look up at the winter sky… find the North Star and check our money again. I’m sure that as we celebrate with an abundance of food, shelter, love and gifts, that I can extend Andy’s thought to all the people on the earth, not just continue to give more to the ones who are already wealthy by comparison. This time next year I probably won’t even remember the pinch I feel as I give it now – which is pretty stunning, because even one dollar can save someone else’s child if I give it to MSF – and I bet that this time next year, they’ll remember that.

In the spirit of taking care of each other…on the day of a wonderful time for many of us – when we will celebrate with an excess of food and gifts that is unimaginable to much of the rest of our human family, I have decided to do something that people have been urging me to do for months. I’m setting a new goal for Knitters Without Borders.

I’m making it One Million Dollars… which seems not just impossible to me, but barking mad. Insane. Crazy talk from the crazy people. (I remember when knitters had raised ten thousand dollars, and everyone was beside themselves with joy. Us…. MSF… everyone. I can’t believe I’m even opening the door to this possibility. If we do it… well. I have no response for if we do it. I don’t even know what I would do to celebrate.)

I know that this is a lot of money. I’m not completely nuts naive… but to me Andy’s statement has become like the constellations pointing toward the place where the sun will rise after the longest night. Taking care of each other is simple. It’s easy. It’s sharing, and we all learned to do that as toddlers. I think we can do it if we all just take care of each other so things will be better. There are 50 million of us in North America alone. Surely that’s enough.

I really think we can do it.

Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Blessed be. Namaste. Happy Chanukkah. As-Salāmu `Alaykum.

Peace

Eve of Victory

Good: I have finished the sweater.

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Except: for the neckband, which really isn’t a big whoop, and the fact that yesterday I totally lost whatever brain cells hadn’t gone on strike yet and bought the wrong zipper for it. That means I have to walk back today, losing precious minutes to get the right zipper.

Good: It will very, very definitely be a white Christmas. This is my backyard before we got another 15cm.

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Except: It’s a little too white, and storm after storm has left the city really hard to get around. This will thwart some zipper efforts.

Good: We are all going to be together tonight for dinner.

Except: We have no groceries, and there is some debate about who is going to get them. There is reluctance all around (see above comment about whiteness) and the current consensus is that whomsoever leaves the house should do it, since they are “already out.” I have a feeling that needing the zipper is going to mess with me.

Good: The penultimate scarf is almost done and I really think that if I finish knitting it tonight – then I can wash, block, dry (I have a radiator reserved for this purpose) and wrap it before tomorrow.

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Except: It was supposed to be done yesterday which means I’m still seriously behind on the next scarf which has to be done the 28th. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

Good: We are done shopping.

Except: We have not wrapped anything.

Good: It is Christmas Eve.

Except: We have a lot to do.

Except: We are lucky to have the luxury of it.

Happy Christmas Eve to all of you. Don’t stay up knitting too late. You don’t want Santa to skip your house.

Instead of Knitting

Instead of knitting, I took my 8 year old nephew Hank for a day, and here is what we did. (Actually, if you are my mum, or Erin (Hank’s mum) please move along. You can read this another day. Like…. the 26th. Thank you.)

1. We had a conversation about whether or not it could rain frogs. The answer is a definitive Yes- and Hank feels that there is a 95% chance you would survive. (The 5% risk of death would apparently be a result of your complete shock that it was raining frogs. Not that you would die of fright or something, but that you would be “so shocked that you would forget to take cover, and even a small frog falling from a great height could kill you.” Excellent point.

2. We went on the subway.

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My sister has a car. The subway is very novel to Hank. We stood in the last car and watched the tracks go out fast behind us… and we came up with a strategy (as all young Torontonians have before him) for what we would do if he fell onto the tracks. We sped under the city, guessing at what we were under.

3. We had hot chocolate and croissant at Bread and Roses in the Village. (Also maybe one candy cane cookie, but it was small, so it’s not like it was really like junk food.)

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4. We bought a few things, things for Hank to give to his mum. (When you are eight – you really need help with strategy.) We think she will be very surprised and wonder where he got the money and how he got to the store. She will likely, Hank thinks, wonder about this “for the rest of her life”.

5. We almost didn’t buy a picture frame, because as Hank pointed out to me, they were all full of pictures of people we didn’t know. His mum wouldn’t like that. Also, Hank told me that he has asked Santa for an ipod, which he is going to fill ONLY with songs by Mika. (I had no response. Still don’t, although I admit that “Love today” is on my own ipod for running. Only for running. Well, running and the first day of school.)

6. On the way back home, Hank discovered an antique device, the purpose and use of which I explained carefully.

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We left a message on Erin’s phone telling her we were calling her from “a pay phone”. Crazy. When I told him that when I was young there were no cell phones, he looked at me and said “That must have been hard to manage.”

7. We made a Gingerbread house.

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Technically, Megan and Hank made a gingerbread house. Then Hank called my mum and told her that he was bringing dessert on Christmas day. (Quote from Hank “There has got to be a way to get more candy on this.”)

8. We made tee-shirts for Erin and Gramy.

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This is something my kids used to do when they were little. It was really, really fun doing it again. The results are as fashion forward as they were the last time I broke out the fabric paint. (Don’t tell me you’re surprised I had a bunch of fabric paint lying around. C’mon. I’m crafty. Click to embiggen.)

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9. We wrapped gifts.

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(That there is a Gordon Ramsay Cookbook. When Hank chose it, I asked him if his mum liked Gordon Ramsay and he said “Oh yes. She says the only thing she doesn’t like about him is his wife and kids.” I almost had a spasm in the bookstore.)

10. Hank left… and I looked at the sweater.

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One sleeve short… and I really don’t care. People before things, and today was totally worth it. I gotta go knit though. Maybe all night.

In which there are four days

I think I might be flipping out a bit. There’s four days left and I got up this morning and took an honest look at what needs doing, and dudes, the knitting might be the least of my problems. As a matter of fact, most of my problems may be the things in this house that are breathing. If someone experienced in these matters could stop by and offer a better answer to the teenaged statement “I can’t wait to move out so I can do what I want”, I would be eternally grateful, and possibly making better time on this Christmas thing. I offered SPS (Standard Parent Speech) #72a “I don’t know what makes you think that grownups can do what they want” followed by #76 v.2 “Do you think I wanted to go to work today?” with the add-on of “It sure would be nice to live the way that you do“, but I still got nowhere. I considered using “I wonder how old you’ll be when you care that your mother is doing everything with no help” but I usually try to save that one for really big game, and the little one did vacuum, while the big one shovelled. No point in over-guilting. Leads to immunity.

The house is still trashed, though I reclaimed the kitchen today, (Poor first choice though, considering that we’re probably going to eat sometime in the next four days and trash it again) and Joe claims he’s going to do he bathroom today, so maybe we’ll get ahead there. I’ve got the living room covered in yarn, which should be turned into stuff by Christmas, wrapped up and given away, and the dining room must be there somewhere. Joe has assured me that it’s under all the paperwork he has all over the place. The baking is almost all done, and I’ve wrapped five things, which is a lot better than wrapping no things, and I’ve got two foray’s into the world left to make, and if I do it right, I’ll make one today and one tomorrow. While that’s on, The Schedule maintains that the little sweater I’ve been working on should be done by midnight today.

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Right. Not a problem. All it needs is TWO SLEEVES that I accomplish while shopping, cleaning and making dinner for family night. Excellent. I can do it. (That’s a pattern of my own devising, and Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted -which I like.)

I finished the next pair of socks in the queue though…

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and I’m pretty happy about that.

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These are charming Hedgerow socks (I love the way the pattern continues onto the heel) in Fiber Optic Foot Notes – in “Black Coffee“.

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(That’s another gift I’m going to be sorry to see go.) and I started the last pair of socks in this years list.

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(Man. Did typing that ever feel good. The last pair.) Those are a version of an old Patons pattern, being worked in Dream in Colour Smooshy (Cocoa Kiss) I’ll look up the details later. (You know. When my head’s not exploding.)

I’ve got the penultimate scarf on the list underway:

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Noro Silk Garden, #’s 284 and 47, and yes, it’s the two row stripe thing again. People like them.

That only leaves one more scarf, but that doesn’t need to be done until the 28th, so I might be ok. I really might.

Sleeves, socks, scarf, shop. Yeah- is it any wonder that Joe asked me yesterday “Why do you think we’re going through coffee at twice the usual rate?” (He’s as much to blame as I am.) Starting tomorrow we have got to get a grip.

To distract you from how distracted I am from the blog, I’ve got a big set of gifts to give away. Blue Moon Fiber Arts has generously donated THREE memberships to next years Rockin Sock Club world domination tour.

The lucky knitters are Ellen K., Adriana H and Lynda M. (I’ve emailed all of you.)

Sleeves, socks, scarf, shop. Gotta go.

Fallen and Can’t Get Up

About 12:30 last night, as I sat trying to make knitting headway on that little sweater (which is crawling along) and contemplating Sir Washie’s future, the phone rang. I answered, since a phone call at 12:30am usually means something very interesting is happening, and lo – it surely was.

Me: Hello?

Joe: You’re not going to believe this.

Now, it’s a week before Christmas, the washer’s broken, we’re under the gun to get Christmas ready, I’m on a “knitting schedule”, the news is calling the snowstorms headed our way “Snow-maggedon”, and we just found out that neither of us is getting paid before the end of the year. There’s not much that I wouldn’t believe at this point, and Joe knows that – so “You’re not going to believe this” is a pretty bold statement.

Me: Ok. Go.

Joe: I’ve got the pickup stuck at my Mum and Dad’s and I can’t get it out.

Me: Really?

Now – see that? He’s right. Joe’s from Newfoundland. He can drive in any amount of snow. Joe never gets stuck. Ever. Dude knows how to drive in any amount of stuff, and he’s experienced enough to not drive if it’s really not possible. If Joe’s actually stuck, then I am stunned. I’m also knitting, and it’s after midnight and it’s cold, so I’m also really not buying that he needs me to get him out. If Joe can’t handle a driving problem, I really can’t.

Me: Seriously?

Joe: Seriously. Baby, I’m stuck.

Me: Why don’t you try a little longer, and if it turns out you’re really stuck, then I’ll walk over.

- because frankly… I just can’t believe he is. I believe that what Joe’s actually saying to me can be translated more like “Honey, I’m frustrated so I wanted to share, but I’ll work it out like I always do because – well, I’m Joe.” I mumble something sort of sympathetic, like “I’m sure you’ll get it” and hang up the phone and finish my row. It’s about 20 minutes later when the phone rings again, and I’m pretty sure it’s Joe calling to tell me that he’s out, and I should never mind and he’ll be home in a minute.

Me: Hello?

Joe: Baby, you gotta come help me. I’m really stuck. I’m so stuck. This is Bad.

Bad? Joe doesn’t get into bad trouble backing out of a parking spot at his Mum’s. It’s not like she lives in rural Ontario and he could be in a ditch. It’s not like there could be a 10 foot snowdrift he’s stuck in or he’s got the car hanging off a cliff over the sea. He’s 3 minutes from home in a back alley drive. Bad?

Me: Bad?

Joe: You gotta come.

Me: Joe, what’s going on?

Joe: Well, I was trying to back out, but there was a BMW, so I didn’t want to hit it, you know? So I pulled up between the garage and the light pole, but the truck slipped on the snow and ice.

Me: Slipped? Why don’t you get out and dig yourself out? Why don’t you give up and we’ll deal with it in the morning?

Joe: I told you Steph. It’s really bad.



We keep talking, and here’s what I come to understand. I have drawn you a small map.

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Joe had the pickup truck (which is a completely eccentric piece of junk which starts every day because there has been a small miracle) parked at the bottom of his parents garage. There was a BMW (which we can’t afford to breathe on, never mind hit) parked behind him, so he pulled forward slightly, between the light pole and the garage, and was then going to reverse out. Unfortunately for Joe, as he drove forward, a most unexpected thing happened. The light rear end of the truck suddenly fishtailed out, the front end swung in (what with them being attached like they are) and whammo…

The truck was suddenly and entirely wedged in between the garage and the lightpole – which are – in a remarkable co-incidence, spaced exactly as far apart as the truck is wide. Joe pulled forward, spun on the ice, tried to rock back, spun on the ice and somehow, in a trick that reminds me of that crazy Chinese Finger Trap, only succeeded with every miniscule move he was able to make, in wedging the truck more deeply between the garage and pole.

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Every move he made smashed the sides of the truck in more, and by the time he called me, he was entirely and hopelessly stuck and further to that, had reconciled himself to the fact that any solution at all was going to involve ripping the mirrors off and further demolishing the sides of the thing. (Which, it turns out, he preferred to wreaking the side of his parents garage, because even at 40, wreaking your Dad’s stuff is A Big Deal.)

He couldn’t leave the truck because his parents couldn’t get their car out, and they’re flying out of town today (and also, it would be best if they didn’t see this, just for the sake of the parental/child relationship) and just to make sure that this event had reached catastrophic proportions, he was blocking the alley so that nobody in the whole neighbourhood could get their cars out. He was right. I didn’t believe it, and it Was Bad.

Me: Holy %^&*(!

Joe: Exactly. You gotta come over here.

Me: Okay. Walk over and get me and I’ll try to rock it and you can push it.

Joe: ……

The silence is deafening. Joe isn’t he sort of man who shirks for a second at walking over to get me at 1am.

Is he too frustrated? Is he too upset? I don’t want to walk over alone.

Me: Honey?

Joe: ……

Me: Honey?

Joe: Steph. You don’t understand.

Me: Sure I do. Truck stuck. Very Bad. What aren’t you telling me?

Joe: Steph. Think about it.

Me:……….

Joe: Steph. The truck is wedged between the pole and the garage.

Me: Got it.

Joe: Honey…. I can’t open the doors.

This finishes me. Entirely. I’d managed to hold it together until then, but that does it. The man has somehow gotten his truck wedged in an impossible situation, and not only have things gone from bad to worse, minute by minute, but this whole time, for the hour that he’s been trying to find a way out of it….

he has been trapped in the truck and avoiding telling me.

I collapse on the floor, practically laughing myself sick. I keep laughing as I pull on my boots, coat and mittens. I keep laughing as I jog the 5 minutes over to his parents. I’ve almost got ahold of myself as a round the corner to the alley, but dissolve helplessly again when I see him. Truck wedged, sides deeply lacerated, mirrors askew, deep holes dug into the dirt and snow beneath it – with my husband sitting patiently – trapped in the dark.

(For some reason- he isn’t really laughing much.)

I shove the truck hard while he rocks it, and somehow we manage to get it out of the rut its dug and he can finally back up. (We do not hit the BMW.) I come around and join him in the truck, and we begin to drive silently home. As we round the corner and he slows the pickup, it shudders a little and makes a new noise, another variation on an automotive death rattle, sort of a “urrrrhhhhgggg” and it lurches around a bit. I look at Joe. He looks ahead. We drive. At the stop sign we slow again, and the truck repeats it’s mechanical-sea-cow-with-indigestion noise, and this time I asked Joe when that started. “At the 30 minutes stuck mark.” he replies, and we drive on.

We get home and park, walk together quietly towards the house, and I’m thinking about his ordeal. Any other person, I think, would have expressed some sort of hostility or loud frustration by now, but Joe’s a good natured rock. If it had been me, trapped like that, trashing a truck in the dead of night, obstructing traffic and listening to the transmission try to vomit itself out of the hood, you would have found me crazed in the thing. Thrashing around screaming in a way that would have shamed the snot out of my mother… and she can compete at the Olympic level of obscenity herself, should the occasion demand it. I think about that, and the bruises both the pickup and I would bear from my fists smashing off the interior in rage had it happened to me.. .and I look at Joe. “You ok?” I ask him, trying to broach the idea that if he had a little anger to share I would listen, and he looks at me. He pulls off his boots. He smiles a bit, and he says:

“Honey. That was a little demoralizing.”

I love this guy.

Sodden

I had a post all good to go today. A post about how when I told you I was knitting a sweater, I should have clarified a little. I wasn’t clear enough. I made it sound like I had just abandoned my very reasonable Christmas knitting plan and hauled off and added a sweater to the plot – which would be in clear violation of the rule about not putting anything onto the Christmas knitting list… and for the record, this sweater was on the schedule, and Lene, the almighty keeper of the schedule didn’t even flinch when I put it there. I figure that means that she thinks it’s reasonable. (Or, I’ve finally gotten to her. One of the two for sure.) I estimate this sweater will take about 20 knitting hours (not including putting in the zipper, which I am going to get Ken to do. I haven’t told him that yet exactly.) I had this whole thing ready about how I was going to tell you that it’s not a big deal, that this sweater is possible and easy and no big whoop, and then the planet saw the cocky on me, and the planet decided that obviously I wasn’t having things be complicated enough… and the planet looked for a place to give me a come-uppance, and dudes, it hit me where it hurts.

See, I’m not just behind on the knitting. I’m behind on the everything. The shopping, the housekeeping – I’m perpetually behind on the laundry, and this morning, just after I started writing about how it was all going to be all right, that it was really just a matter of applying myself – keeping to the schedule (and maybe finding a few more hours in the day or night to get caught up) I realized that we’re at that place where soon people are going to have to stay home because they don’t have clean underwear, and so I tossed a load into Sir Washie, my faithful 30 year old washing machine. Now, Sir Washie is my dearest friend in the world. He’s done more to help me with this family than anybody else ever has, and we’ve shared many a fond moment together- doing what it takes to keep everybody clad. We’ve been together through my kids childhood puke-fests, where it was just me and him, cleaning up at 3am and hoping that we could get a load of clean sheets and towels together before the next tsunami of misery headed our way. He’s pulled his weight, and he’s a fine appliance I’m deeply committed to. (I admit, I’m mostly committed to him because there’s no way to replace him. We remodelled the kitchen many years ago and foolishly installed built-in’s in a way that means that we can’t get him up and out through the doorway to the basement anymore.) Still, even if I didn’t have to love him I would. (I also admit I’ve had some pretty warm feelings about a few sexy front loaders I’ve seen – but that’s like still loving your husband even though you think Pierce Brosnan is hot. Totally normal.) In any case, I tossed a load in and came upstairs and got on with my day, and just now I went down to switch things over to the dryer (for which I hold no affection at all) reached into his innards and discovered, with the sinking heart and feeling of impending doom that any laundry slacking mother can identify with… that the clothes are all sopping wet. Soaked. It would appear that the aged Sir Washie has suffered some sort of episode which has left him able to agitate and drain, but stripped him of his critical ability to spin. (I think that means it’s a belt. Can you knit a drive belt?)

I’m sure that I don’t have to tell you that this is a full blown crisis, and one for which I accept all responsibility. I had noticed that Sir Washie was making an odd noise, but truthfully I didn’t look into it because I thought it was just age – I mean, Joe makes all sorts of noises he didn’t used to when he was a younger guy and there’s nothing wrong with him. I should have known, after all of these years of appliance ownership, that washing machines don’t make odd noises. Washing machines make expensive noises, and I should have gotten him help right away. Instead, I looked the other way and now, because I am not just the sort of woman who ignores an appliance in need, but am also the sort of woman who doesn’t wash anything until people have no pants or towels, I am screwed. I personally am screwed while wearing yesterday’s tee shirt and pants with coffee spilled on one leg. (Admittedly, I work from home, where it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing strange clothes, but this is going to be harder to break to Joe and the kids -who have to leave the house each day wearing something other than last years elf jammies.) I looked at the budget and what with Christmas and the fact that things are slow on all fronts, I realized that unless this sucker is fixable for about $1.46, somebody’s Christmas present is going to have to be the gift of this family not smelling funny. That bummed me out for about six seconds, and then I thought about it, and considering how I feel about Sir Washie and his contribution to the family….

I’ll take it. Wrap it up a fixed washer and stick a bow on it. I’ll be thrilled. Anybody in Toronto know a reliable repair company?

(PS. Do you think wanting a repair guy who would like to be paid in sock yarn is too much to hope for?)

Behinder

I had this brilliant plan this weekend, that I was going to get all caught up and today I would be all gleeful and cocky again. That just wasn’t how it went. I’m not sure what happened, but somehow the girls doing a bunch of baking took up tons of my time, and there was an incident that involved a lot of gingerbread dough stuck entirely to the countertop. (Flour. You need to put flour on the counter before you roll it out. I can’t stress it enough, and it’s really not an optional step. Flour.) I went to Zellers to buy underpants for Christmas (as gifts, not an outfit) and the nightmare that is a big store twelve days before Christmas has me pretty badly scarred and might have slowed down the knitting a little. I saw two women argue over the last tube of blue wrapping paper. I don’t care what you’re wrapping – or if that’s your “theme” this year. There’s absolutely no reason on this earth to treat each other that way over paper. See? Scarred. This is why I don’t go shopping at Christmas. That moment.

I had to knit practically a whole pair of socks to get over it.

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I don’t know if you know, but knitting a gift is the spiritual opposite of ripping a stranger a new one over blue wrapping paper. Snowmobile socks. Misty Alpaca Chunky 2 ply. Half (almost exactly) a skein of black, one full skein of periwinkle. Worked according to my sock recipe over 32 stitches on 5mm needles.

Those done, I boogied along and wrapped up the next pair of gift socks.

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Earl Grey socks, 2.25mm needles. Men’s size 10. (Really big on me there.) Madeleinetosh Sock in Glacier.

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Then I worked on this bad boy,

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which is an entirely crappy picture of a pair of Hedgerow socks in a new to me but really yummy yarn called Fiber Optic Foot Notes” – in an entirely charming (and appropriate) colourway called “Black Coffee.” Reader Sarah sent it to me and it’s knitting up into socks I want to keep. (I won’t though.)

As if that weren’t enough, I cast for a sweater.

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Yes, I know. It’s just a few days before Christmas and I’m casting on a sweater. I’m going to tell you what I told everyone else who flipped out. It’s a small sweater. It’s going to be fine – I think, though when I cast that on I was only three knitting hours behind (which you can really come back from) and then I spent the morning working on the billions of emails you’ve all sent for Knitters Without Borders. I’ve added all the names and amounts up to the 10th of December and that, my friends is hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails. I was going to wait until I was caught up to give away karmic balancing gifts, but dudes. I don’t think that’s possible. As fast as I enter them, you send them, and I see the folly of it now. I’ve decided then to just keep entering as fast as I can, and just keep giving away gifts as fast as I can because if I wait to be caught up I’m just going to be chasing my inbox forever. The fact that the tally is up to (brace yourself )

$ 560 379.00

is more than enough of a reason to celebrate with some presents. As always, the knitters were chosen by way of random number generator, and as always, donating anything at all puts you on the list. Donating more doesn’t get you more chances, and donating less is no less worthy. We all give to the best of our abilities. No judging.

The exceedingly generous and talented Eloise did these beautiful illustrations for the Twist Collective, of lovely beasties of all sorts wearing knitted things, and she’s had the good sense to turn them into a set of 12 notecards. (You can see a set here) and she’s very kindly donated five sets to knitters without borders, and a set each will be going to: Evie M.. Ellen S., Sarah H., Harriet O. and Tammy W.

(If you think that’s you, check your inbox. I’ve emailed the five of you.)

Not to be outdone, the lovely Mary (from Lady A’s Crafts) has offered up either of the two kits (Learn To Knit Socks or Jackie’s Baby Sweater) in the winner’s choice of yarn, and she’ll be shipping that to Rebecca H. (I emailed you too.)

Happy Monday everyone, and thanks!

(More karmic balancing gifts tomorrow.)

That thing is springing eternal

I’m still behind, and thanks to the schedule, I know exactly by how much – and that’s about 3 knitting hours. Three knitting hours ago I should have finished the Madeleinetosh Earl Greys, and I haven’t.

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Three hours is about what I lost with assorted disaster, upset and distractions, and I find it sort of encouraging that there’s really no more than three hours of knitting left to do on that pair, which means that I’m behind in a realistic way that can be accounted for, instead of that horrible way that that has to do with having crazed expectations that can’t be met at all – schedule or not. (By the way, Lene’s posted about what it’s like to make my schedule on her blog here) I did finish the hat that was supposed to be done yesterday, and I even finished it yesterday, bang on time.

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Unoriginal Hat, Blue Moon Fiber Arts “Leticia” in Farmhouse. (I think maybe that’s a discontinued yarn, being modelled here by a 17 year old who doesn’t want to show her face today. )

I’ve decided that it’s appropriate to have hope that I can get back on the train, especially since a reprieve of sorts has come from an unexpected place. About 12 years ago, I knit someone I love a pair of very warm socks for snowmobiling out of a yarn called Patons Diva. It’s discontinued now (though I bet it lives in many stashes – immortalized for all time) and it was a chunky weight acrylic/mohair sort of thing. Super soft. Most of you know that I am not the biggest fan of acrylic that there is, but at the time I was so broke that a yarn that retailed for $1.99 was a pretty superior thing as far as I was concerned, and I remember being thrilled, thrilled I tell you, that a whole pair of socks (and therefore a Christmas present) could be had for $4.50, tax included. I knit them up, gave them away, and little did I know that these socks have apparently gone on to lead very cherished lives. So cherished, that this year when they have finally worn out (Twelve. Years.) a replacement pair has been requested.

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I don’t have anymore Patons Diva (and if you told me last week that I would be absolutely disappointed that a stash dive didn’t turn up chunky mauve acrylic I would have laughed) so I bought the best replacement I could come up with. Misti Alpaca Chunky two ply, and I’m going to knock off a quick pair of socks to thrill her to death. (I hope.) The best part? What I was making her took up 16 knitting hours, and these will only take 4. Crazy.

I might make it yet.

(PS. Even though the old thing was 16 knitting hours, and the new thing is 4 knitting hours and the sock only needs 3 knitting hours – and my math is good enough that I notice that I now had an extra 9 knitting hours, I’m resisting the urge to add something to the list or declare myself ahead. I think I’m getting smarter.)