Random Tuesday

1. I infuriated my cat with a trip to the vet. She’s fine. I have 3rd degree scratches

and the vague feeling I should watch my back. That’s cat rage.

2. David created a podium page here. Once you submit your email address, Franklin’s gold medal icon will show up by your name on the Athletes page.  I did me.  It was very satisfying.

3. I have started and rejected a sweater. I’m not ready to talk about it.  It sucks.

4. I am making my sister legwarmers.  She said she wanted them, but she didn’t say she wanted these.

Sydney. by Stacyjoy Elkin. I like them.  I hope Erin does.  Speak now or forever wear legwarmers you hate, because I will expect you to wear them.

5. Prizes for Knitting Olympics tomorrow. Promise.

A Question and a Sweater

 In the comments yesterday, Dawn asked this question:

You’ve made several sweaters in the last couple of years, which ones do you find yourself reaching for the most? Which are your favorites?

In the last few years I’ve knit a several sweaters,  maybe 7 or 8, but only a handful of them have stayed with me.  A few were gifts,  a few went off to be worn by others when they suited them better (coughRachelHcough)  and a few have become good friends that I’ve worn to death.   I love the Must Have Cardi and it’s turned out to be one that I wear not quite everyday, but a few times a week. (I’ve learned that if I love them when I finish, that the glow usually lingers for a while.)  I wear my Guld Bohus,  I wear a bunch of them, but absolutely unequivocally, my all time ultimate favorite sweater is my Top Down Wrap Cardi from Knitting Pure and Simple.  I went looking through the blog to try and find it, and it turns out that for reasons that I can’t explain,   I only ever took one picture of it, and it was this one:

I took it in the Seattle airport in June of 2007, which is pretty craptastic for a sweater that I love as much as it turns out that I do.  This sweater has been my best buddy for two and a half years.  I knit it out of Dream in Color Classy  in Strange Harvest, and in the intervening time, not only have I jammed it in suitcases, sat on it in on planes, used it as a pillow on trains,  wrapped a cold baby in it (twice, and two different babies) I’ve also washed it by hand at least 20 times, and in the washing machine at least 10 times (gently) on purpose and had it land in the dryer 3 times (not at all on purpose) courtesy of my husband who generally displays good sense and intelligence, but seems to have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to laundry.

I’ve spilled coffee on it.  I’ve slept in it. I’ve yanked it around myself against a chill and worn it for days on end with the sleeves rolled up so that I can wash dishes or type.  I hang it over the back of chairs,  I leave it in a crumpled heap.
In short, I love it, and it has served me well.  This is my go-to, grab and run sweater.  If I’m leaving the house and need another layer, I put it on when I get up in the morning when the house is still cold. 

It was the sweater that was handy when I went out the door to the hospital in an emergency, I’ve dried innumerable tears on the sleeve, and it is the sweater that I put over a tee shirt and jeans if I want to "dress up an outfit".  (I know.  My sense of fashion is devastating.. isn’t it?)

I believe this sweater fits me fantastically (not that it really has a fit, but you know what I mean) and it’s all the best things about a sweater.  It’s cozy, it’s pretty, it’s durable, it matches everything in my wardrobe (though maybe not yours,  I do specialize in wearing clothing all the colours of 70′s appliances.) and when I wear it, no matter where or when I wear it, I feel taller and rather thin.

I think that probably hundreds of you have seen me wear it in person.  I wear it that much.

I’ve used it as an emergency rag when a cup of spilled juice was headed for my laptop, I’ve waved it for emphasis during some rant or other directed at a teenager.  I’ve even used it as a potholder once, carrying a hot casserole to the table.  (That was a snap decision, and probably disrespectful to the sweater.) As a matter of fact, the only thing I’ve never done with this sweater is tie it shut (not even once) and it still looks… for a sweater that’s been well used and loved for two and a half years.. like a million bucks, I think.

There you have it.  The sweater that is my favourite.  The sweater I’m wearing now.  The sweater that all of a sudden, I’m thinking about knitting again, maybe tomorrow. (Maybe in another colour.)

Thanks for asking Dawn.

Done Done Done

      
(Typing "done" three times made it look like it was spelled wrong. So wrong I had to check.  I hate that.)

On Sunday morning, the last day of the Winter Olympics, I woke up with a tremendous sense of doom.  While I’d already come to grips with the idea that I might not make it, and that there’s no particular shame it biting off more than you can chew, I’d also come to understand that I wouldn’t like that at all. I like meeting my goals.  It feels good, and I was determined that if I wasn’t going to finish that sweater, that there was no chance… none at all, that I wasn’t going down fighting.  I got up and surveyed the sweater parts, and tried to figure out a plan of attack.  At 9:00 on Sunday morning, I had most sweater parts, but they were not a sweater.  I had to finish one sleeve, I had to steam them (no time for a proper watery bath),  measure, sew and cut the steeks, sew up the shoulders, set in the sleeves, sew down the facings, sew the hems on the sleeves, sew down the hem on the body, pick up and knit the neckband, and then sew down that same neckband.   Since this was barely possible, first I made a lot of coffee.

10:57am.  Finished the second sleeve.  Did smallish dance of victory, then remembered that I was still screwed.  Drank more coffee, and set about steeking.

10:58am. Looked at the stinking sweater parts and realized that I had neglected to sew in any ends anywhere on a fussy 4 colour sweater.  Turned the bits inside out to see how bad things were.  Decided it would only take 10 minutes. Drank more coffee. 

12:00: Finished weaving in ends. Felt wave of deep regret that after 36 years of knitting experience I am still so completely optimistic delusional about knitting that I thought that weaving in ends would only take 10 minutes when it took an hour. 

12:02: Decided to berate self for timing errors another day since there was no time for it now. 

12:03:  Began steeking process.  Measured sleeve to see how big to cut opening in sweater.

12:04: Measured again. Cutting a big gash in a sweater is a one-way move, and one should be very careful before fetching the scissors and doing something rash.

12:05: Measured other sleeve to see if they were the same for the same reason as at 12:04.

12:06: Marked opening after re-measuring.

12:07: Started again after deciding that maybe I measured wrong even though everything looked totally fine.

12:08: Re-measured.

12:09: Re-steamed the sleeve in case the first steaming wasn’t good enough and maybe I didn’t have the measurements right.

12:13: Re-measured. Got the same measurement as the other six times.  Wondered if maybe I was starting to get obsessive and weird.

12:14. Asked Joe to measure sleeves- just to be sure.

12:16: Endured marital spat with Joe when he refused (wisely) to get on the "crazy sweater train" and took his advice to maybe cut back on the coffee and get a grip.

12:24: Sat for a while.  Contemplated switch from coffee to beer.

12:26: Decided that both beer and coffee could influence accuracy.

12:27. Re-measured.

12:28: Sewed the steeks.

12:35 Wondered if the sleeve steeks were really the right size.

12:36: Re-measured before cutting. 

12:40: Took a deep breath and cut the sleeve openings. 

Here I always pause and marvel that you can actually do this, and it works.  Need an armhole?  JUST CUT ONE.   Crazyville.

12:45: Sewed up the shoulders.

1:00: Unpicked shoulders after realizing that I hadn’t done a very good job because I was rushing.  While I unpicked them I gave myself a really wicked talking to.  Title: This sweater was too much work to be a piece of crap.  There’s no point in finishing and still not getting a sweater you like.  Buck up buttercup. Focus.  Sewed shoulders up nicely.

1:10: Ripped up house like a lunatic because I have probably 193856 pins in this place and there is no way that I can’t find any of them.  Gave speech to Joe and cat about how people are always touching my stuff and that’s why I can’t find it and I don’t mess with their stuff so why are they always messing with mine and that’s what’s wrong with this family is that nobody cares about me or my pins I just do laundry and LOOK FOR MY PINS THAT YOU ALL TOUCH.

1:15. Located pins in sewing box where they were all the time.  Apologized to Joe and cat. Commenced sewing in sleeves.  Poured remainder of coffee down sink. 

2:11. Finished sewing in sleeves and started to sew facings over cut edges of steeks.  Made more coffee.

3:11,  Sucess is mine.  Began picking up stitches for the neckband and put on the hockey game. All seems well. I have until about 8:30 to finish.  I should be able to nail a neckband in that amount of time as long as I stay on my game.

3:15 until 6:00.  I’m not sure what I did in here.  I thought I was knitting, but all I can confirm in the end  is that I held my knitting the whole time, but when the hockey game was over and Canada had achieved total world hockey domination (both women’s and men’s gold, eh?) I had apparently only knit three rounds. 

6:02, Try to set priorities.  I have to leave for the pub at 7. Knit or bathe?

6:05. Bathe.  Poor hygiene never helped anyone.  While I’m in the tub I try to remind myself that I’m probably not going to finish anyway, and that while failing might be inevitable, I can at least control how I smell and look while I fail.

6:30.  Take precious knitting time to find "Canada" shirt to wear to pub.  (Still feel good about this choice.)

7:00 Joe drives me to the pub, and I knit like a demon the whole way, regretting deeply that I’ve let the whole thing come down to black ribbing in a darkened car.  Poor planning.  If it was white ribbing I might have stood a chance.

7:05.  Search knitting bag for white yarn in case I actually could make the ribbing white.  Fail.

7:25.  Arrive at pub and find some happy knitters celebrating their gold. Denny finished Dale of Norway’s "Vancouver" (And Amy is wearing the right gear)

Megan is finished (even though it’s a terrible picture, the shawl is beautiful)

Team Canada shirts are everywhere…

and just so that I don’t feel alone.. Natalie is still trying to sprint to the finish. 

You will note that Natalie (who did totally finish in time) has had the presence of mind to bring a headlamp to the pub so she can see what she’s doing. Brilliant.  When it comes down to the wire like that it’s all about the equipment.

I started knitting like a
fool at that point, as the Closing ceremonies started.  Natalie finished with the headlamp and Amy and Denny took turns shining it on my work so I could see to cast off, and with only moments to spare –

I finished.  It was really, really close.  Really.  A lot.  If a couple of the speeches had gone a little short, or if I’d chosen to eat dinner instead of apply that time to knitting, there’s no way I would have made it.  (I actually blame the overtime in the hockey game, but it’s hard to not love everything about that game so I’m letting it go.)  In the end though, I have a sweater.  I love it.  I got gold, and I’m thrilled. Joe and I took the sweater for a walk yesterday, out into the great Canadian outdoors, where it belongs.

Pattern: Whistler, from Dale of Norway.
Modifications: only two.  I took out the placket and zip on the front, because I like a straight up pullover, and I changed the yellow that was in the pattern to bronze. 

Yarn: Heilo.  Also Dale of Norway. 

Needles, sizes 2.5mm, 3mm and 3.5mm.

I love it.  I really do, and I’m also so glad it’s finished. Big project. Feels good.

Business:

1. If you were a participant listed on the Athletes page, you are eligible to be entered in the draw for a prize, even if you didn’t finish.  Trying is the only thing you need to have done.  

2. To enter, send an email to goldATyarnharlotDOTca (changing the AT and DOT to the appropriate symbols, of course.) 

3. You’ll get back an auto-respond that lets you know you’re entered, and has a link to a cool pdf for knitters who took gold.  (You can thank Franklin for the certificate.)

4. The auto-respond thingie only works when my mail is open here at home, so if you don’t get one right away – don’t panic and send another one.  Wait a day. Then check your spam filter (the email will come from the same address) before you try again, okay?

5.  I’ll keep that up and running until Monday, then draw for a prize.

6. No.  I’m not telling what the prize is.  It’s not a car or a million dollars though, so don’t get weird on me.

7. I keep forgetting to tell you that I’ll be in Detroit at the Public Library on Saturday March 13th at 1:00.  They’re having a little yarn marketplace first and everything.  See if you can come, it’s going to be fun.

8. I also wanted to answer Elyse from the comments. She asks:

Did any one watch the mens curling – final game Norway – Canada – and see
the lady with the double points and what looked like a childs sweater -
seated right in front of Steven Harper?

See it?  I got so excited that I took a picture of the TV. 

The ladies in red are the Womens Silver medal curling team, the man to the left is Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, and right there in front?  KNITTER! 
It’s something on double points, but maybe we’ll never know what, or who she is.. does anyone know this Knitter?   Whoever she is, way to represent lady.  Knitters.  We’re everywhere.

Stepping onto the Podium

The Olympics ended last night, both Knitting and real, and I for one was sad to see them go.  It’s been a hell of a party, especially, I think – if you had the privilege of being Canadian.  Everyone I know here at home has had the best time seeing the world come to Canada and see our fine country the way that we do. We are very proud of this wonderful country, if usually a little quiet about that, and watching the wave of happiness that swept the nation as Canadians threw the biggest house party ever has left even the most staid of us slapping on the maple leaf and cheering in a way that suddenly felt very Canadian, even if it usually isn’t.  We were rewarded too, with houseguests that seemed to love the fine city of Vancouver and all the people in it, and partied on in a way that was so sportsmanlike and kind. Every country wins some and loses some- but as a citizen here, it was spectacular to watch Canada show off what being the true north can mean.. that the upside of freezing your arse off most of the year also can mean that you garner more gold medals than ever before… more even than any country before,  and the icing on the cake was the spectacular hockey game last night when we took on our neighbours to the south and barely beat them… because a gold medal means more when you’ve got a really talented opponent who’s really hard to beat.  It was a great Olympics to be Canadian… and it was a really great Knitting Olympics to be Canadian. Yesterday I had to haul flat out to finish, but finish I did, and I’m really rather proud of myself.   (I’ll tell the story tomorrow.) 

I was worried, at several points in this Olympiad, that I wasn’t going to finish, and I really dealt with my feelings about that.  I wasn’t going to like it, but the idea was for the Knitting Olympics to be a personal challenge, and if there wasn’t a chance that I couldn’t do it, then it wouldn’t be a challenge, and win or lose, I was going to be proud of myself for taking it on. 

It’s not really important, finishing a sweater in 17 days.  Not really.  Nobody lives or dies because I met a personal challenge, and if you didn’t finish, you should rest assured that it’s unlikely to hold you back in your life in any meaningful way… Trying and failing really isn’t a setback. Not any more than going to the Olympics and coming in 5th place – or 23rd.   If you tried and failed, well good for you.  I think you’re awesome and that trying is way better than finishing a sweater in 17 days (which isn’t exactly a life skill.)  If was easy, then it wasn’t a challenge, and if you truly set a challenge and didn’t meet it- then I bet you know why, and knowing something more about yourself (even if it’s that you have a completely unreasonable knitting ego) is pretty great and can only serve you.  I really think that. I’m proud of everyone who gave it a shot and fell short,  whether you finished or not you are now the sort of person who tries a challenge. I think (and I’m not just saying this because I’m that sort of person) that people who sign up for life have a way better ride.  

If you took on the challenge and you succeeded, congratulations, I bet some of you didn’t know if you could do it or not, and I bet you surprised yourself in the best way possible. The esteemed Mr. Franklin Habit has once again made us a beautiful gold medal, and once again,  it has a vaguely naked man on it which was frankly, more than I had hoped for.   He’s even made two sizes.. so you can use it for all your purposes.

Take it, use it (please, please, please save it to your own server and don’t hotlink) and put it on anything (or anyone) you want.  The image is Franklin’s property and he says the following "I made this medal at your invitation for everyone to enjoy, to celebrate their accomplishments. They should feel free to use the downloadable versions to their hearts’ content. I only ask that the image not be used to prepare items for sale."  Should you feel the need, Franklin’s also whacked the image on a bunch of stuff in his Cafepress shop.

Tomorrow I’ll be giving you an email address that you can send your name to so that you can be entered for a prize and a certificate, I’m just wrestling an auto-respond thingie to the ground first.  (That’s something I learned from the last Knitting Olympics challenge.  4000 knitters is a lot of email.) Stand by. In the meantime,  maybe get a cup of tea and sit yourself down, and click through to the athlete’s page.  This list of Athletes shows everyone who took part in the Knitting Olympics, and if they have a blog, you can click on their name and go have a look.  There’s some great stories there.  While you’re there, if you’d like to thank David for hosting that page and help him cover his bandwidth costs (again, 4055 knitters is a lot of knitters) he’s got a little tip jar at the bottom of the page that he didn’t even tell anybody about, that’s how classy he is. (Sorry David, had to point it out. Thanks for your help buddy.)

Thanks to all of you, even the knitters who just watched and participated that way.  A personal knitting challenge is both noble and dorky, and it’s easier not to go it alone.  I’m grateful for the sense of community, and not just because I didn’t want to be the only dork doing it.  It was a great Olympics, both knitterly and not.  I had a wonderful time.  Thanks for playing.