Earth Hour

Earth hour, and isn’t it pretty.

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This is what the world looks like when you use a little less.

It’s not about what the world saves in an hour.

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It’s not just about global climate change.

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It is about resources being valuable, and using them wisely,

and thoughtfully.

Airport at 4:30am. (Offset purchased.) Still need a sweater pattern.

Goodnight.

Shiney

After a week that can only be described as “challenging” (if one is being tactful) I give you the new Sock Summit Website. That sucker took years off of Tina and I. On that website, you’ll find a bunch of information you’ve been hoping for, and a list of Classes. (A long list of classes. I’m pretty flipped out about the classes.)

Tah Dah! Isn’t it nice?

(PS. Should I start a new sweater for Sock Camp?)

(PPS. Don’t forget Earth Hour is tonight.)

Who’s got the remote

What a week. It’s like I blinked and lost four days. Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened, and I have gathered the best evidence possible that someone (possibly Dr. Evil) is screwing with the time/space continuum and my place in it. My evidence is as follows:

1. On Monday, I was beginning the second Viper Pilots sock.

Suddenly it’s Friday, and all I have is this.

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I knit have every day, yet that is not five days worth of knitting. That is not normal.

2. On Monday, I had four loads of laundry to do. Suddenly, it is Friday and (drumroll please) I still have ONLY FOUR LOADS OF LAUNDRY. As this family has not taken a vow of nudity since Monday, I can only presume that we skipped several days, or someone else did the laundry, and that’s possible either.

3. I don’t recall Thursday or Tuesday at all. Not even a little bit. I can’t tell you one thing that I did on either of those days, and my recollection of Wednesday is patchy, and centres around the fact that I know I ate cookies that Denny baked at knit night, and knit night is Wednesday. That’s all I’ve got.

4. In fact, almost all I remember from the last four days is working on the new Sock Summit website, but considering the hours I’ve put in on that bad boy, it should be there, and it’s not. This supports my theory that the last four days blew by me like a fifteen year old girl asked to do the dishes. (I actually think it’ll be up really soon. There are tech people involved and I think they work for Dr. Evil.)

5. There is no episode for Survivor on the the Tivo. Ergo, Thursday must not have happened.

6. I am not packed to go to Sock Camp, even though I leave at 0′dark hundred hours on Sunday morning. I am a pre-packer. There is no way that I wouldn’t start packing at least 4 days before leaving. I haven’t made a single decision about what I’ll be knitting even though I am leaving for many days. I am not the sort of person who does that. I pack early. I pack often, I pack extensively. Admittedly, I do pack clothes last, but there is no yarn at all in my suitcase. None. I don’t recall an internal debate about what to knit while I’m gone either – and this is an activity that I normally give my whole soul to, several days in advance. By now I should have already worked out exactly what’s coming with me, found the yarn, photocopied the patterns, wound the yarn and put it all in the suitcase. That’s what I do. I’m a travelling knitter. If I didn’t pack on Tuesday, then there wasn’t a Tuesday. That’s final.

I believe this collection of evidence corroborates my theory that I have somehow been fast-forwarded through four days of my life. I feel that the knitting and laundry evidence is indisputable. All proper explanations for what in the name of all things woolly happened to my week are graciously accepted, and even encouraged.

I’m going to go pack.

Dear Knitting

Dear Knitting,

In every relationship, there is equal and separate culpability for how things are going. I believe that, and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, because heaven knows that we’ve had our share of problems in the 36 years that we’ve been together, and mostly, I’ve been proud of the way that we’ve worked things out. I accept my responsibility to keeping us together. Long-term committed relationships are hard, and they take work. That said, and knowing that my love for you is complete and whole and healthy… I would like to just give you one little tip on getting along with me so that we can spend more happy time together.

TRY NOT TO BE SUCH A COLOSSAL PAIN IN THE ASS.

Thank you, and love always,

Stephanie

That one took a while

Last night I had a really unusual experience, at least for me… and that was insomnia. A complete and total inability to fall asleep. I lay there, bored and furious, doing all of the things I’ve told my kids to try. Listening to my own breathing, counting by three… meditating. Nothing. Nada. Zip. The sandman cometh not.. and in fact I have my suspicions that the slacker was on a beach in Mexico whooping it up with a minty fresh mojito and a bag of ketchup chips. I finally dropped off at about 3am, only to wake up at 4 and repeat the process… finally crashing back out at 5:30 – only to drag my finally soundly sleeping arse out of bed at 7:30. I’ve had a murderous gleam in my eye since then. Insomnia is very rare for me. I’ve been trained by two decades of motherhood to take sleep where I can get it, and I usually drop off as quickly as the grades of a teenaged girl with her first real boyfriend. Last night though, I just couldn’t get there. I was too wound up to sleep, too tired to get up, and my fury built exponentially – especially since Joe was dead to the world, cozy and peaceful beside me. (I did not poke, disturb or wake him in any way, which I think is a testament to my maturity – especially considering how much I wanted to.)

I think it’s the number of balls I have in the air. I like all of them, and I’m not miserable by any stretch.. I’m excited and thrilled most of the time, but keeping my writing, the blog, a family, teaching, speaking and planning the Sock Summit all in the air at once isn’t exactly a state that’s conducive to sleepiness… and it finally caught up with me. It’s ironic too, because a smarter woman would totally have gotten up and worked on one of those things, or at least gotten up to knit, especially since knitting time has been in short supply. The Viper Pilot socks didn’t get finished for the finale of Battlestar Galactica (which I actually thought was a little disappointing, but I’m not sure how) but I do have one of them, and it’s darned nice. Very befitting a pilot of the Colonial Fleet… although I bet they have a pair.

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Saturday I set the socks aside, because Sunday we were gathering as a family to celebrate our spring birthdays.

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My nephew Hank is turning nine (and you can tell that his 3-D version of the Guinness Book of World Records was a big hit) and my sister… well. I think she’d appreciate it if I left her age out of it. Last year I started a sweater for her birthday but something happened and the sweater pissed me off, and not only was it not finished in time, but I set it aside for a whole year out of rage. A whole year. That year that it sat in knitterly purgatory (aka- the linen closet) really worked though, because as her birthday swung back around this year, I couldn’t remember what it had done to make me so frustrated that I couldn’t be bothered to finish it. I dug it out of the bag I’d had it jailed in, and took a look at what was left to be done.

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It was mostly complete. All the parts were there, though not sewn together, and the collar only needed a few rows, and I sat down and finished it. Sewed it up, admired my work, looked at my zipper sitting there and remembered what my issue was. The Zipper. I hate putting zippers in knitting. I love how it looks, and I think it’s the most practical way to finish a lot of things, especially things for kids, or things that, like this sweater, would have the pattern disrupted by a row of buttons. I do think it’s really hard to sew something as non-stretchy as a zipper into something as stretchy as a piece of knitting, and I’ve had a lot of unhappy endings with zippers in general. It’s a whole other skill set, unrelated, I feel… to being a good knitter. It’s sewing, not knitting. Since I put this away though, I’ve had some limited zipper success, so I dove in. I basted the sweater front shut with a needle and thread, taking care to make sure the cables, top and bottom were lined up, then turned it inside out and pinned the zipper in from behind, taking care to line up the centre line of the zip with the centre “seam” of the sweater. When it was all pinned in, I pulled the basting out, unzipped the zipper, and sat down at the sewing machine.

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After a false start in which I sewed one whole side in (removing pins as I went) and then realized that I wasn’t actually sewing because I hadn’t hooked up the machine right and had to do over the whole basting/pinning thing…(a thousand rat-eating curses) I think I got it. It’s not the most expert of zippers, and I wouldn’t want to enter it in a contest, but I think my sister liked it a lot.

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At least part of her glee was probably just the thrill of seeing it finished. She had received a couple of pieces of it and some yarn last year… and for a non-knitter, that bag of hope + a whole year of time probably had meant that she didn’t really believe in the sweater anymore.

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It fits her well, is just in time for the Toronto spring, where it’s too warm for a coat (not yet) and not warm enough for nothing. She showed up to yoga wearing it last night, so I don’t even think she was faking how much she liked it.

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13 months in the making, I give you the Urban Aran – cardiganized. (Ravelry Link) Brooklyn Tweed was the first place I saw this sweater, which was a pullover in the Patons booklet “Street Smart” smartly divided up the middle to make it a really snazzy jacket. I used Araucania Nature Wool Chunky (colour 105) from The Purple Purl, and I think it was a great choice. Sturdy but soft, warm but not itchy. (Erin worries about the itchiness of wool – though does concede that the only itchy thing I have ever given her was acrylic. Ha.)

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I think she loves it. Next year she gets a book.

Where do you want to go

Joe and I – as some of you may have surmised, are a little anti-car. We ride our bikes, we take the subway and the bus… we walk, and we’ve been lucky enough to live in a part of the world where you don’t have to own a car. Sure, car things come up sometimes, but we’ve always borrowed one or rented one. The time has come however, for Joe and I to both acknowledge that we need a car, mostly because when Joe moves gear, he does it in the antiquated pickup, which is now so old as to be alarmingly unreliable and scary (even before a few of the incidents) but it is also so completely environmentally unfair that when you turn the ignition, polar bears scream in horror at the audacity of us daring to drive it. We knew we needed something, especially with the girls getting bigger and talking about moving to go to school, but we’re tree-hugging hippies – heck, we’re vegetarians out of concern for the environment. If we needed to drive a car, it had to be something seriously friendly – but there was no way that we could afford the options. We bided our time, we kept saving our money and Joe kept researching cars.

Today, we finally took the plunge. Meet Jon and Jason from Pfaff Volkswagen. I normally wouldn’t mention who or where sold us a car, but these guys went so far beyond the call of duty in the service of my nervous nature (along with Joe’s over thinking one) that they really deserve a shout out.

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Plus, they held a sock, and that’s our new car. It’s a shiny red (really red) VW Jetta TDI Clean Diesel (with bike racks.) Now, if you’re like me, you just about fell off your chair right then because a hippy bought a diesel, but it turns out that just about everything I thought about this car was wrong. It’s classed as an Ultra Low Emission vehicle (I asked Jason, and it turns out that it’s impossible to suffocate yourself in the garage with this car. What comes out of the tailpipe is pretty much oxygen and nitrogen.) It won the Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles show, and won Most Environmentally-Friendly car at the international Car of the Year Awards in Detroit, it set a world record for lowest fuel consumption, and according to it’s paperwork, it meets strict Tier II Bin 5 emissions standards. (I don’t know what that means, just that it’s good.) Plus (just to explode the last thing I thought wasn’t true…) Ultra low sulphur Diesel costs the same as premium gas – when I need to buy it, which won’t be very often because it gets about 1100km (683 miles) to a tank.

I’m not telling you all this because I’m trying to write an ad for VW (although maybe I just sort of did.) I’m telling you this because frankly, I’m totally stunned that after doing all of the homework and checking out all of our options and the way we drive and what we need (and seriously, Joe really got a little weird with it) … I can’t believe I’m not driving a hybrid.

Aside from the shock, Joe and I feel very grown up. (I told him I thought this was the most grown up thing we had ever done and Joe agreed… except for the kids, and jobs, and the house and stuff – which actually makes it seem pretty minor, in the grand scheme of things, but dudes… it’s a CAR.) This is the first proper car either of us have ever owned, and we’re sort of flipped out. Joe’s out getting it waxed now (Yes. It did come already waxed. Why do you ask?) and we’re trying hard to think of somewhere we need to go. I love it – and I didn’t think I would. I thought I would resent it. Joe says maybe I love it because…

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It has a nice big yarn holder. You could work fair isle out of that sucker.

She can be taught

Dudes, I’m really pleased with myself, because I just caught little old me serving up a huge deep dish crazy pie and I actually stopped myself before I sat down and had a big piece.

See, on Monday, I was surfing around and saw this. My buddy Glenna has dreamed up a pair of Battlestar Galactica themed socks called Viper Pilots, and I was totally smitten with them. Completely and totally smitten. (I actually can’t believe she didn’t email me herself, but I’m letting go.) I can’t be the only one impressed by them either, because pretty darned quickly I’d been notified by a bunch of other knitters about them, including Abbie. I tripped over myself all the way to the stash, and ripped out a skein of yarn I’ve been saving for a special occasion, wound it up and cackled about having perfect Colonial Fleet socks to anyone who would listen. (Joe renewed his belief that I am supremely nerdy, which really isn’t bothering me, since I suppose it’s obvious at this point.)

I had a skein of… wait, where the hell is the ball band? Oh, right. Crash into Ewe hand dyed sock yarn with real silver in it, in the colourway called “Diamonds at night“. (The dyer appears to be currently off line for a show. Lurk about.)

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I thought the colourway couldn’t be better for space themed socks. See the little strands of silver? Like a starry sky, that’s what this yarn is, so I bought Glenna’s pattern and Tuesday I cast on, and gleefully phoned Rachel H. (who also said I was a big dork) and told her that I was — and here’s where the crazy pie comes in… I was going to finish them to wear them on Friday night for the Battlestar Galactica 2 hour series finale.

“Steph” Rachel H said (and she used that voice she uses whenever I have a plan that can’t possibly work, which is rather often, now that I think of it.) “It’s TUESDAY.”

Now, I’m not really, really dim, just sort of moderately excitable, and I think that a lot of the time people underestimate me… so I’m used to explaining myself, so I did.

“Rachel” I said (using the voice I use when I think Rachel isn’t understanding a crazy plan, which is rather often… now that I think about that too..) “The show is FRIDAY. It’s just a pair of socks. I’ll totally finish.” Rachel sighed then, which can usually be interpreted loosely as “Ok wingnut, do what you want but I’m still right” (I wonder what it means that that comes up rather a lot too..) and reminded me what order the days of the week come in, then wished me luck. I have knit my brains out since then.

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I knit them on the bus. I knit them at the DKC last night, I knit them when I got home, I’ve been knitting. I’ve been knitting and admiring the little Viper ships starting to line up, and imagining wearing these starry socks as I bid a final farewell to Starbuck and Odama and all my favourite Cylons. Only this morning when I saw really, where I was in these socks did it start to resonate that maybe Rachel was on to something with this “days of the week” thing. This is Thursday. Friday comes after Thursday.

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Yeah. Crazy pie. Not eating it. Maybe I can wear one…

One weekend with some socks

Standing in the airport on Friday, I tried to hard to laugh at my own timing. The airport was packed with Canadians fleeing the cold for their March Break, all lined up, laughing and headed for the warm sunshine of Cuba, Bahamas, St. Lucia… and there I was. Going to Wisconsin. It took me a while to get over that, especially when the lady in front of me, repacking her overweight bag, dropped her bikini bottoms and left them behind. I did pick them up and give them back to her, but I won’t deny the urge to pitch them in a bin as she wandered off to her warm beach holiday.

As I struggled through the crowds headed for parts south, I reassured myself with the knowledge that on none of my vacations to Cuba have I ever seen a yarn shop, and though all those other people were going to be enjoying a sunny beach… I would be amongst my people, yarn and iconic knitters, and if you throw in a beer… they’re pretty much going to come up on par for me. Here then, is a photographic essay on the last couple days.

Friday AM. I begin a sock, travelling from Toronto to Milwaukee.

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(Duet sock yarn de-kay. Pattern from my head, colourway, sadly forgotten. Pretty though.)

The sock and I then changed planes

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and went from Milwaukee to Madison, where a nice knitter named Connie gave me lunch and a beer and was very kind to me, and then took me on a whirlwind look at a few of Madison’s awesome yarn shops. We went to Lakeside Fibers and The Sow’s Ear, both of which have coffee and food as well as yarn, and I can imagine myself actually living in them. (Lakeside also has a couch and a bar next to the coffee part. I may have promised that if they let me live there I would keep my things very tidy. I think they thought I was kidding. I wasn’t.)

The sock and I then journeyed to the hotel, where the first people we met were Amy Detjen and Meg Swansen, who both turn out to be very nice actual real live people who are very funny, drink beer and think I’m short. (I am, so I didn’t mind them noticing.) It is at this point that I took all leave of my senses, and didn’t ask either of them to hold my sock… though I did knit on it in their presence, and hope that counts for something.

The next morning, the sock and I hung out with Joyce Williams a little bit, and admired her beautifully complex sweaters and rapier wit.

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And encouraged by Joyce (who’s really a bit of a troublemaker, in the best ways I can think of) I took the pictures I showed you yesterday, as well as this one, which is really just my humble sock basking in the glow of things knit by Meg Swansen and Elizabeth Zimmermann, which were lying around on a table without a guard or anything.

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The sock met a room full of knitters in the morning.

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The sock had a lovely time shopping with Dale-Harriet at lunch.

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The sock met a whole other roomful of knitters in the afternoon. (The sock was quite tuckered out by this.)

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The sock met Margo’s first sock, Kara’s first sock, wished Caitlin a happy 21st Birthday, collected washcloths from Susan and Joyce, and cheered Barbara’s first knitted object. (You can click to embiggen these knitters)

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Then the sock retired to an Indian restaurant and laughed at all of Joyce Williams’ jokes, because she really is that funny, but I didn’t take pictures, because … I forgot.

The next morning, the sock became plural, and then was ripped out on the way to the Chazen Museum of Art with Kate (who rocks pretty hard too) and I spent a happy hour wandering through an incredible textile exhibit of traditional Chinese clothing called “Writing with thread: Traditional textiles of Southwestern Chinese minorities” If you live near there, the sock and I urge you to go. No pictures here, because we were chastised for picture taking – and don’t like to break rules very much.

Off to the airport we went then, and waited for our flight back to Milwaukee,

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and then enjoyed a 3 hour layover there, which we enjoyed in grand style.

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Then the flight from Milwaukee to Toronto…

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And bang. We were home again, and I had two things. A healthy respect for all that is the Madison Guild (You should join. They’re awesome) and a new pair of socks.

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Great weekend.

Full details to follow

I got up and entertained these grand delusions of telling you all about my trip to Madison, and even tried to write one for a while, until the reality of my situation sunk in. It’s family night, my darling sister and mother-in-law are coming to dinner for St. Patrick’s day, the house is trashed, I have no food and no beer… and I have to get Sam downtown and onto a bus for her March Break trip before all of that happens. Clearly, If I think I’ve got time to blog, I’m delusional in a really, really big way. So I’m giving you just a little something. Something I think is unreasonably cool.

As most of you know, the charming February Lady Sweater is based on the even more charming February Baby sweater from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s classic book, The Knitter’s Almanac. I happened to be wearing mine when I happened upon a table full of knits brought by Meg Swansen (EZ’s daughter, and a fine fibre artist in her own right) at the Madison Knit in. Egged on by Joyce Williams, I whipped off my version and photographed it with the original, knit by Elizabeth Zimmermann herself.

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I know that I probably reveal myself as eight kinds of fangirl and three more kinds of dork, by telling you how cool I think that is, and I don’t even care.

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I touched something Elizabeth Zimmermann knit… and it touched my knitting back. Dork heaven.

This can’t be right

I’m leaving for Madison Wisconsin today. I’m flying in today, doing the knit out with the Guild, flying back out on Sunday. Myself and I, we had a little chat with me and decided that since this is a very short trip, we would streamline the bags. Only take what I need, try to leave the suitcase behind….

I’ve got it down to one tiny little bag, but all I can think is that this can’t be enough to go away with. There’s an extra pair of pants, three shirts, three pairs of socks, a pair of yoga pants, the little toiletry bag… two brand new sock projects. (Realistically, I only need one, but only taking one put me right out of my comfort zone.)

This is enough. I feel sure that I have enough. This is how much I need for three days. I know that, but I just can’t stop going though the bag thinking “Really? This is all I have? Really?” I know it’s enough for what I have to do, but it just doesn’t feel like enough to fend off an emergency with – especially since I don’t know the nature of the emergency. I travel so much that if I take my big bag, I’m a streamlined travel machine. I’ve stunned people with my ability to cope using only what’s in that bag. Tea? What sort? It’s in there. Tylenol? Why… yes. Would you rather have Advil? Lost a button? Need a snack? Spare tee shirt? Wanna do a yoga Dvd? Glass of wine? Yup, yup, yup. I have it all, and it all fits in one bag that I’m used to carrying and it’s my system, and it works really well. It works so well that I can bug out of a hotel room faster than a MASH unit on a good day.

This, though… I keep looking at this and being uncomfortable. Last night I was puttering around with it and saying “I must be forgetting something. What else do I need?” and Sam looked at me and said, “I know what you’re forgetting.”

“You do?” I asked. “Yup.” said Sam. “You’re forgetting that you’ll be back on Sunday.”

Right. Small bag. See you later.