This Old House

A while ago the City of Toronto came to our house to install a water meter.   The guy went down into the basement, took one look at what we thought was an old but serviceable water pipe and he said nothing.  Nothing. After a minute or so, this low whistle sort of escaped him, and a little wild eyed, he looked up at us and said  "YOU HAVE TO GET THIS REPLACED."  Joe and I kind of exchanged looks, because we’re used to this reaction.   Our house was built a hundred and thirty years ago by what we feel must have been a team of drunken monkeys.  They would have to be drunk monkeys, because we’re pretty sure that sober monkeys could have done a better job. Every time we have ever gone to do anything that other people do without incident, we discover some queer new oddity.  Wanna hang a picture?  Guess what – our studs are at random intervals. Wanna put in a new electrical outlet? Good luck – our house was  wired by Escher.  Replacing the porch? We discover there’s nothing supporting our front bay.  (As an aside, when we asked the carpenter what was holding up the bay if there was nothing supporting it, he shrugged and said "Force of habit?")  There’s a strange little room upstairs not big enough for anything – not even a twin bed, but it has a great window and a fancy plaster job. The concrete  floor in the basement doesn’t run all the way to the walls. Nobody knows why – and in the dining room we discovered that the cold air return vent – it’s not a vent.  It’s a hole.  A dirt hole.  I could dig to the outside right through it if I had a spoon and enough time. 

What I’m trying to say is that most of the time now, when tradespeople come into the house to try and fix whatever we’ve found wrong now, they whistle and shake their heads and try to tell us that they’ve never seen anything like it.  (That – by the way, is a lie. The team of drunken monkeys that built this house built a lot of other ones just like it here in Toronto. They were a roving band, and Joe and I are far from alone.)  Joe and I usually laugh it off, and then the carpenter/electrician/plumber/whomever comes up with a creative (and always expensive) solution and we all have a good laugh about old houses.  This awestruck concern is only their first reaction, so when the water guy said that we had a big problem, we just sort of stood there and waited for him to get over his shock.  He didn’t.  As a matter of fact, he refused to touch our water line, and suggested we not touch it either – and that maybe we didn’t want to let the cat down there either, lest she bump into it and rupture the thing. 

"Really?" we said, sort of surprised at his cowardice, and the dude then explains that we have original water pipes.  "Lead?" I asked (thinking that a lead pipe or ten would explain some of the things my children have done over the years) and he said it wasn’t lead, that "lead would have been the upgrade" to what’s in our basement. We have the galvanized pipe that the City of Toronto ran to our house when it was decided that running water was a good idea. The pipe (and what was passing for a shut off) were old and fragile in the extreme, and the guy said we had to get a new pipe before we could do anything as fancy as getting a meter. He left, saying "I’d have trouble sleeping at night if that was in my house. It could blow anytime."

Fast forward a   chunk of time, where Joe and I did indeed have trouble sleeping at night, worried the thing would blow and fill the basement with a lot of unstoppable water, and today we had a team of guys show up and dig a very large hole (in my garden. I’m trying not to be bitter) and take out the old pipe, and run a new one in through the old strange basement wall. 

(you can’t really tell in that picture, but that hole is  7′ deep.)
They used a torpedo thing that shot the new copper pipe into the basement, and now we have a fancy new water thingie – bringing us squarely into this century. 

(You can see the scary old pipe behind the new one. It’s a miracle it lasted this long.  Just a miracle.)

The most incredible thing though, was the pipe that they took out.  This  pipe was what was bringing us clean, amazing fresh water for the last 15 years that we’ve lived here. The water that I’ve been cooking with, drinking, bathing my kids in… making a thousand million pots of coffee with…

It’s disgusting.  The inside is all rusted out – since it’s just old galvanized pipe. That middle part is where all that water flowed through, and it’s nothing but rust. Suddenly, I feel like I know why nobody in this family has ever been anemic.  Clearly there’s no iron shortage in our diets. 

Now I have new, fancy copper pipes, and the water is flowing through something very tidy indeed – or it will be.  Eventually – maybe tomorrow.  Turns out that Escher and the team of drunken monkeys might have laid the city’s chunk of pipe too.   There’s a little problem out front involving nine emergency  city workers, heavy machinery and a lot of digging. Oddly, the city guys seem surprised.

Joe and I are not.  We’re thinking about showing them the wiring.

Edges and Turns

Upstairs in the stash room I had this roving.

It was a long piece of BFL-mix roving from Blue Moon (the colourway is ST-1) and because of how it was dyed, it had repeats. I pulled it apart into those repeats, and got four matching pieces of roving.   I marked the beginning of the repeat on each of them, and then spun them all onto their own bobbins, all in the same direction.

Then I plied them into two big hanks of two ply –

and now I have self striping, long repeat yarn that I am so wild about that this morning I made Joe hold it for a while.  (I can’t help but feel that he wasn’t as thrilled about it as I was, but we’ve been together long enough that he knows to feign yarn enthusiasm.)  This yarn is quite possibly the most exciting thing that’s happened in a while around here, and that’s saying something, because that scarf I made on Sunday is a little bit sparkly.

I thought about it all evening.  What would I make? What would be a good use of it? I love the colours, I love the long stripes it will make, and I love the idea of something scarfy or wrappy, or shawly. I only have about 350m of this stuff, and it’s worsted weight, so I’ll have to be thoughtful of the size – but I really, really, really wanted something that shows off how this yarn’s colours go, and I ended up searching for the perfect pattern the way a 17 year old girl looks for a missing cell phone.  I was a creature possessed. 
For a while I thought the answer was Lintilla.  It isn’t. It’s the wrong gauge, and even if it was the right gauge (because I know I can rig that) ruffles are yarn pigs, and I don’t have a huge amount. 

Then I thought maybe the answer was Hitchhiker, but it wasn’t.  It’s charming – but I started thinking maybe I could get my self striping yarn to do something really, really interesting.  Maybe I could play up the stripes? Find something that would vary the width of the thing? Maybe change direction a few times? Turn a few corners?  Knit on the bias? That got me thinking about Stephen West, since he’s got some funky shaped scarfy things.  I looked at Thendara. That wasn’t quite right.  Too pointy. Same problem with Flagstone, plus I think those play up colour, but not the kind of colour I wanted.  

I considered the classic multidirectional scarf, but I’ve been there and done that. I thought about Stacked Wedges, which is rather fetching but too… wiggly.  I looked at Heartbreak (too big, not enough corners.)  I found Windward, and thought that was it for a while – it was more organic than the others, had lots of edges and turns… it had that post-apocalyptic shabby chic that I think I like, but that wasn’t right either.  I think it’s too big, and really is suited to a lighter weight yarn than I have.  (I think you really need fabric to drape to capture the "I’m so cool my clothes are rags" look.  My yarn wasn’t going to do that.) 

The search wasn’t going well at all, nothing was quite right.  They were all too wiggly or too long or too wide or two stripy or not stripy enough – or they didn’t suit my yarn, or I didn’t have enough yarn, and I think that unless one of you knows the exact right thing, then I’m going to go rogue.  Cast on, start – and see what happens.  Maybe I can figure out something long, pointy, partly knit on the bias, with edges, curves, turns and corners that isn’t too big, wobbly, wiggly, or geometric.  Did I mention that the shape needs to be both geometric and organic? At the moment I have a whole page of a sketchbook filled with impossible to knit things that I’m going to try and knit anyway. I’ve snipped up a paper scarf into bits and put it back together, I’ve swatched a very crooked thing, and I have a feeling that this way lies madness, because my idea of the scarf I want to knit is more of a feeling than a plan…

but I’m casting on anyway.  What can go wrong?

Obsessed Briefly

I tell you, one thing about weaving that I love (there are many, but today this is at the top of the list) mercy me, it is fast.  Ridiculously fast.  You can get really obsessed with an idea for a weekend, and not have another half finished thing kicking around the house.  Check this out:
Thursday: I got a batt out of the stash, thought it was pretty, admired it and put it by the wheel.

Friday, I started to spin – and I finished the singles on Saturday.

Sunday, I plied.

I liked the yarn I got, and felt briefly confused, because I knew it wasn’t a yarn I wanted to knit, but also knew it wanted to be a scarf.  It was my second cup of coffee before I remembered how yarn can become a scarf without being knit. 

Loom!

I wove for a little, went for a bike ride, wove a little, did some work, wove a little, and by dinner time I was taking a scarf off the loom, knotting the fringe and giving it a wash in the bathroom sink.

The yarn relaxed and bloomed in the bath, filling in the surface and leaving me with a beautiful fabric, that looks like it was born all together. 

From carded batt to handspun yarn, to finished scarf – three days – and it used every inch of that beautiful stuff. 

I love weaving.  It’s a simple yarn trick. If you love yarn, you might like this too.

Reality

Yesterday I had to pretend I was spinning, but today has a little more time in it, so there’s a start on my wheel. 

Pretty, pretty stuff, this batt.  It’s from Hanks in the Hood, and it’s a barely mixed combo of Merino, bamboo and sparkles.  It’s my favourite sort of batt to look at, and my least favourite to spin – when several different elements are barely mixed like that, it means that you hit a chunk of merino, then a chunk of bamboo, then merino, then sparkle, and the resulting yarn is very, very pretty indeed, but very tricky to spin – at least for me.  I get my groove on with the merino, and then wham. I’ll hit a different chunk of stuff and need a whole other set of techniques. It’s not the sort of thing where you check out and just zoom.  It takes attention, and I think the experience makes me a better spinner.  It’s a healthy degree of challenge. 

Mostly I spin my "default" yarn.  All spinners have one, I think.  There’s just the yarn your hands like making.  You treadle at a certain speed, draft the way you like, and the next thing you know, you’re making the same yarn. Every. Time. Even if I think I’m going to make a different yarn, if I zone out for a second, I’m making that default yarn, but this batt won’t let me do that. If I do the same thing for the merino pieces that I was for the bamboo, the yarn’s think and thin, clumpy and bumpy.  To get something I want,  I can’t default. The two materials are too different.  It’s a brilliant way to train, if a little trying.

Also challenging? Knowing I need to let go of perfection if I’m ever going to get better at this.  To my way of thinking, being a good spinner isn’t just being able to make all fluff into my default yarn.  It’s being able to make fluff of all kinds into all kinds of yarn – and in a perfect yarn, I would be able to decide what that yarn was ahead of time – rather than getting a surprise. 

This is all a way of saying that I’m not sure this yarn is going to be good – but I think the next batch will better.  I think I’m learning – and I think this batt is a good teacher. I’m learning more about my hands and wheel from these rapid fire changes than I have from any book.

What’s the thing that taught you the most about spinning?

(PS.  Stash toss not complete, but has not yet revealed any damage or the stuff of nightmares. Vigilance has paid off again.  I think.)

In Which I am Pretending

Today I am not spinning this, which is what would be next on my wheel, were I not otherwise occupied.

Merino/bamboo/sparkle batt from Hanks in the Hood.

Today I am cleaning and working, and cleaning. It’s time for the bi-annual tossing of the stash.  Last year when I said that I was "tossing" the stash, a bunch of knitters wrote and said that they would like it if I tossed it their way, and I realized that the term might have multiple meanings.  I don’t mean that I’m tossing things as in throwing them away – I mean that I’m tossing the stash, like you would a salad.  I go through the whole thing, in all its bags, boxes and shelves, and I have a look.  I vacuum out the shelves, put things back in a (more or less) orderly fashion, and check carefully for vermin.  I look for evidence of mice moving into a cozy skein of merino,  carpet beetles looking for a skein that’s up against a baseboard or wall, and yeah.  I look for moths.

At this point in my knitting experience, I believe that Toronto is Moth Central.   I also believe that if a Toronto knitter tells you they’ve never seen a moth in their stash, they might need to add the word "yet" to the end of it – and part of me wonders if they’re lying.  I think moths are like the knitterly version of herpes.  Lots of people have it, but nobody talks about it, and we all pretend that we’re don’t have them if we do – but we do, and I have.

I don’t have a lot – certainly nothing you would call an infestation, but I live in a house built in 1880, and at least part of my home is insulated with horsehair and old newspapers.  Whatever people had kicking around that they could fill the chinks with to defend themselves against a Canadian winter is stuffed in my walls.  (I don’t know if it’s true of my house, but some of my neighbours have found wool (clean fleeces) as insulation during renovations too.)  Our houses are literally built of moth food, and then if you’re a knitter, and you go and stuff more wool into the place, you’re literally laying out a buffet, and it’s only natural that moths would come where the food is. All a house built in 1880 needs to have a nagging little moth problem is one owner over the last hundred and thirty years who didn’t beat them into submission, which is pretty hard to expect, considering wool rugs, wool curtains, wool clothes and wool blankets.  At least once a year I used to see one of the foul winged beasts flutter through the living room and it would send me into a terrible panic.  Where are they? What are the eating? DO THEY HAVE THE CASHMERE?

Now I accept them as a natural part of my ecosystem – like mosquitoes, or mice. They live here, so do I , and I do what I can to minimize them, but really, I accept that they’re pretty inevitable. Even if this house were totally moth free, I can’t believe it would stay that way. I engage in a lot of high risk behaviour.  I bring yarn, fleece and roving in all year round, and all I would need to do to touch off something bad was bring in something from a shop that had moths. (This is another secret we don’t talk about. Some shops have moths.  All they have in them is moth food. How can they not? It’s not dirty or bad, it just makes sense.)  The age of my home, the climate of where I live and the fact that I consort with lots of other knitters means that I need to be very, very, very careful not to let a single moth get the upper hand around here.

Thus, I am vigilant, bordering on neurotic. I keep everything in ziplocks. (Moths can eat through plastic, but it’s harder for them, and I’m all for anything that could slow them down.)  Twice a year, spring and fall (when moths, carpet beetles and mice are most active) I toss the stash.  I put my eyes on every skein of yarn.  They all get an inspection and a shake out.  Maybe an afternoon in the sun, if there is any.  Every container is vacuumed and washed – if it’s washable, and the yarn is rotated top to bottom and back to front. I don’t keep things in baskets.  (If you’ve ever lived the dream, then you know that basket + wool + moth + time = your worst nightmare.)  Our boxes of woollies (because moths like nothing better than dirty sweaters, socks and hats) are washed regularly, and go for a lay out in the sun. 

This system has served me well. On the rare occasion that I’ve found evidence of an incursion, it’s been small, and I was able to totally eradicate it. If I suspect vermin (moth or carpet beetle) that skein leaves.  I don’t try to wash it, keep it, or make it better.  I kick it to the curb instantly, without regret or a second look, and if I’m tempted to feel bad about losing the skein, I remember that this is the price of doing business.  If you’re going to have this much moth food in one place – if you’re going to essentially invite them, hire a bartender, put up twinkle lights, lay out a smashing spread, and then walk away – then you can neither be surprised or upset when they come.  (I sometimes have to remind myself of that to feel better.)

My fear, that I would have a foothold situation where the moths ever got the best of me and somehow managed to invade the bulk of the stash, that idea is more than enough to keep me vacuuming, tidying- organizing, inspecting and washing on a pretty spring day when I would rather be spinning.  So I’m pretending I’m spinning, and admitting that I worry about moths, and that I’ve seen the interlopers before, and they are ugly, and they want my yarn and yours, and they will stop at nothing to get it,  and I wish knitters talked more about this, so that we could band together and form a mighty wave of prevention and treatment. 

Honk if you’ve seen a moth in your stash.  They are nothing to be ashamed of.
Now go vacuum.  You’ll feel better.

Catching up

This past weekend, I flew to Shreveport, Louisiana to hang out at a great yarn shop, celebrate that shop’s anniversary, and give a talk. I had flight delays and troubles on the way home from there Sunday, and somehow staggered through the door just after midnight, collapsed in a heap, and didn’t really get up until yesterday morning. (I took Monday off. Nothing bad happened – and as a matter of fact, the cold I had when I woke up Monday morning is mostly gone. Who knew that resting when you don’t feel good works for mums too.  Shocking.) Yesterday I tried hard to get my life together, but everything was ridiculously jumbled.  I spent the whole day wondering why the house was so trashed, why there was no food, why the mail was spread out all over the dining room table, why my inbox was full – why there were no clean clothes… It took me until this morning to figure it out.  Partly it’s that I left Joe unsupervised for a few days, but mostly it’s that I use the weekends to get organized and if I skip doing that by going away, then the house is trashed, there’s no food, and Joe has started an empty coffee cup collection on his dresser that is spreading faster than a disease.   (Not that I clean up his cups, but I do spend the weekends pointing out that empty coffee cup art installations on top of dressers isn’t really the way that most people decorate.  I point this out until he moves them.)  Yesterday I did all the things that I would usually do on a Saturday/Sunday which means I didn’t blog.  Now I find that I have the events of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to tell you about.  I think a day by day is the best way to catch up.

Friday:
I fly to Houston, where I spend an unreasonable amount of time waiting to change planes to fly to Shreveport.  The flight was delayed because they were waiting for the pilot.  The pilot showed up after about an hour, and when I asked the airline why he had been late, they laughed.  I wasn’t kidding.  Was he lost? Disorganized? Forgot he had to fly a plane?  I think I care about all that.  I think that’s relevant pilot information.  I don’t know if I want to fly to Shreveport with  a guy who forgot he had to fly a plane. The best thing about the flights is that I finish a pair of socks that have been trucking around in my purse since at least January.

A little detective work, and I can tell you this is Trekking XXL colour 107. They’re snazzy, especially with Natalie’s little red shoes.

The cat even likes them.

Saturday: 
1. The ladies of Knitting Under the Influence of Nancy turn out to be very nice and very welcoming and hospitable.  Ridiculously nice in fact.  Nice like it’s a superpower or something. If I had been  thinking about it,  I would have expected it to be only logical result of combining Southern with Knitter. 

2. They are funny too.

3. It takes me very little time to work out that there is a weird team tee-shirt thing going on in the South.  Not only are the core group of Nancy’s friends all wearing matching red tee shirts, but this group showed up in some –


and this group showed up in some –

and thank goodness they brought me one at that point, because I was starting to feel like I had no idea what the dress code was, but that I was pretty sure I was left out of whatever it was.  (I remained poorly accessorized.  Especially by Southern standards.)

4. I got to see Mary and Meg.  They’ve been following me around (in a mostly non-creepy way) for a few years as a mother/daughter act.

I love them.  See Meg’s sweater?  Handspun, handknit, by her – in two weeks, and she’s 15. 
Fear her.

5. Two of the amazing ladies at the shop had made sheepy cake pops. 

I ate a lot of them.

Sunday:

1. I am at brunch with the ladies before going to the airport when it occurs to me that I have been offered more things (food/drink/food/pen/food/chair/food/help/food/coffee/food) more times in the last 36 hours of my life, than if you added up the last 43 years.  Southern hospitality is real, and it is stunning to behold.

2. When I get to the airport and my flight is delayed by 2 hours, I miss my connection in Houston, and therefore they tell me I will not be able to go home that night – so I pulled a Canadian Special at the Houston airport to get them to find me a seat on the plane.  I apologized to them until they gave up.  It took twenty minutes of apologizing to go all the way from "there’s nothing we can do" to "your seat is 5C".  "I’m so sorry you think you have no seats. I feel terrible about this.  Oh my goodness, I just feel so bad that you have to find one. I’m sorry I have to go to Toronto,  I apologize for needing to really go tonight.  Thanks so much for the help, I know you’ll find me something, I apologize for being such a pain. No, no – I’m so sorry I can’t go sit down. Please, accept my apology for this difficulty.  I feel terrible that you have to do this for me."   Please note, this technique does not work if you are not A) completely sincere B) not leaving the customer service desk,  at all.

Monday:
I lie around completely slothful, knitting and spinning until I am done being tired, and this mean’s that I finish the Manx Loaghton, which turns out to be everything I had dreamed it might be and more.

It’s springy, bouncy, a little fuzzy and soft. Not merino soft, but durable soft.  I like it a lot.  A whole lot.
(PS.  Yes! Crocuses in my garden.) 

Monday I also grabbed a big chunk of dyed polwarth from the stash and spun it into singles, which I didn’t take a picture of.

Tuesday:
Tuesday I plied the polwarth singles from Monday into yarn, yarn that should be for a friend, but I’m sort of having trouble imagining the part where I put it into her hands and leave it there.

Also Tuesday, I wove the ends in on my thrummed mittens.

They’re officially finished

just in time for spring. 

Now today, today I’m having a sock problem, but let’s talk about that tomorrow.
We’re
almost caught up.  What did you do this weekend?

I’ll give you a topic

I’m in the airport, with only a few minutes to write to you.  Since I’m travelling to Shreveport this today, and since that will take hours and hours, and it’s hard to spin on a plane (somewhere Denny’s hand just shot up and she said "No, no it’s not!" because Denny uses her drop spindle on planes all the time, which I don’t, so just let it go Denny.  Just let it go.)  Because of all of that, I’m leaving my wheel sadly behind, and have picked up Ken’s Francie socks, and another pair of socks – and I really think I can come home with at least one finished pair, which would be a nice change from all this spinning.  Not that I’m tired of the spinning, because I’m really, really not. 

I’m leaving behind two full bobbins of this lovely stuff, which is Manx Loaghtan.

It’s a  rare breed that was a real treat to spin.  I bought mine from Spirit Trail from whence so many wonderful woolly and unusual things come.  it’s an interesting primitive, and crimpy, a little dual coated, and delicious to say the least. 

So, a little question.  Rare breeds. As a spinner or a knitter, do you try to use them? Do you think that helps sustain the breed? Is that something that interests you, or that you think about why you buy wool?

A Yarn Story

It’s a little late in the day to post, but my very pretty yarn is finally dry, and I love it too much not to share.  A while back, I made these batts on my friend Judith’s electric drum carders.

I made a darkish-brick one, and after I’d made it I stood there a little stunned, thinking "what next?"  My friend Lisa suggested making a lighter one, to ply with the darker one, so I did. 

I spun those, over the last few days – and got beautiful singles.

Then, as Lisa suggested, I plied them together.

I love it.

I adore it.

I want to hug it and squeeze it and kiss it and call it George.  (I bet that’s not funny unless you remember Loony Toons.)

The odd thing is, that as much as I adore this yarn – I’m pretty darn sure it belongs to Lisa.  Weird, eh?

Once more

I’m still the boring spinning factory over here, so once again I’m pillaging the comments for interesting questions to which I can give vaguely interesting answers.  Before I do that though, I have to show you my plan. 
I’m going to ply this these two of the Judith batts together…


and I think it will be amazing.  We’ll find out tomorrow.

How’s the post Christmas vest you were making for your daughter coming
along? 

-Millie

See? This is a very well known down side of having a blog.  Nobody lets you give anything up for a moment.  There’s something interesting going on with that vest.  First up, I absolutely didn’t have enough yarn. I thought I would, but I didn’t.  I knit the back, and thought (quite cleverly) that since there were two fronts left, each of them would take 1/2 the yarn.  When I was only part way through the first front I could see that I was in trouble – so I asked for more yarn, but when it came it was the wrong colour, and now I think I need to show Tina the colour so that I can get the right one. Until then, it’s stalled and driving me CRAZY. It was working out beautifully, and it’s the exact right time of year for Sam to be wearing it. It’s going to be done as soon as I get the yarn.

How’s the weaving going? (Or what’s really going through my head: How can you be resisting this utterly addicting playing-with-yarn activity?)
-Lynn

I’m not resisting very well. You’ll see. There is a game afoot.

What about the Catkin?
-Judy in Indiana

You people have long memories.  My beautiful Catkin is upstairs, awaiting buttons, until it gets them I don’t really consider it done.  Unfortunately, I seem incapable of remembering it needs buttons while I’m somewhere that I could do something about that.  I’ll re-apply myself.  It’s very pretty, and it should be finished.

Yes, my (perpetual) question is, where is the picture of you modelling Gwendolyn?
-Elizabeth

Arrgggh.  That’s only not done because  I have to persuade someone to take pictures, and persuade myself to be in them.  I love that sweater and wear it all the time.  I’ll get it done.  I promise.  (Natalie is here this morning, maybe she’d help me.) 

Did I miss the part where that wool/stainless steel Habu jacket got finished?
-Megan

No.  Neither did you miss the part where it got started.

Go Spring

I’ve been afraid to mention it, perhaps worried that the incredibly mild winter we’ve had this year is really just a red herring waiting to whack us around – but it would appear that this really was the winter that wasn’t, and that what’s happening outside might really, truly be spring.  There’s birds, snowdrops… and more than that, my urge to tidy the stash over the last few days this morning blossomed into an overwhelming urge to wash the windows and walk in the park.  (Those two things are obviously can’t be done at the same time.  You can guess which one won out.)

The urge to tidy things here is overwhelming too, so lets to a quick Q&A from blog comments and mail over the last bit, shall we? (By the way, if I post a question from my mailbox instead of the comments, I never use the persons name,  because they didn’t ask it publicly, unless I asked their permission.  If the question is asked by a few people then I paraphrase, and tell you so.)


What are your thoughts on getting rid of "excess" children’s toys to make room for stash? I’m asking for a friend (me).

- Annika

You know, there’s a lot of evidence to support the idea that children do a little better with a little less.     For the purposes of you getting more room for stash, I have decided not to extend this argument logically to adults and their toys.
You’re welcome.

What about Joe’s Gansey?
- paraphrased, but mostly perpetually by Presbytera

Joe knows why I am not working on his Gansey, and someday I’ll finish it, when the time is right and all cosmic conditions have been fulfilled.  It’s all up to Joe, although the constant pressure means that at least the minute it’s time, I’ll get it done. (PS to Joe: this has only a little to do with the knob on the stove.)

Has anyone really thought about this all jibber jabber about tidiness? Why do people feel they must limit their stuff if it is stuff they enjoy? Why are we conditioned to feel guilty when we have a lot of stuff? Is the Tidy Bully standing over our heads with a whip? So many rules! So many shoulds! As long as it is neatly kept, why can’t we just keep stuff until we need to use it and let it go when we don’t need it anymore?
- Bonnie

I couldn’t agree more with Bonnie.  This is my stuff, I’ll have exactly as much as I want to (provided that’s been reasonably negotiated with the other people who live here…) and I don’t feel very guilty about it at all, and I don’t think anyone else should either, as long as you’re not running out on making the mortgage payment because the alpaca habit reared its ugly head.  I do feel compelled to point out that Bonnie makes another excellent point though.  "As long as it is neatly kept…" and we’ve all got a different definition of neat.  My stash needs to stay under my threshold.  Yours too, I bet.

Did you see one of the recent Hoarders where the woman refused to let them take her 10 Large moving boxes of packed yarn? I was dying to know what kid of yarn she had in those boxes.

-Cindy H

I didn’t see that one, though my heart might have bled a little for her, depending on what else was going on in her home.  Like anything, there is such a thing as too much yarn (I can’t believe I just typed that) and I guess it’s possible for it to hit pathological levels.  If you’ve filled the bathroom with merino and are now showering with the garden hose year round, you might be there… or like I said above, if your stash is now taking up unreasonable space that belongs to someone else… well.  That might be fair too.  Mostly though, I think that while yarn collections are poorly understood by …. frankly, everyone, if you’re on Hoarders, you might have too much – but yeah.  I still want to know what was in those boxes. 

What the heck is Sock Camp, and why should I care?
-paraphrased

Well, whether or not you care is totally up to you, and it’s really hard to describe what Sock Camp is.  Mostly, it’s a dyeing/ knitting retreat. Mostly knitting.  Technically it’s four days at the Resort at Port Ludlow, with two classes of knitting instruction (one with me and one with Lucy Neatby, who’s practically a legend) and one class of dyeing with Tina, where we turn a whole sunlit room on the water into a dye studio, and you splash dye around (with some help) and make deeply personal yarn – and this year the fourth class is one I love.  It’s with Carson Demers, and he’s a knitter and a physical therapist, and he has a special interest and focus on how knitters can knit in a way that will keep them knitting, injury free – for a lifetime.  He’s bloody brilliant.  You take a focused class in the morning, then in the afternoon there’s either a bonus thing (this year we’re going out whale watching)  or a workshop.  (This year one of the workshops is a clinic with Carson, where he’ll critique and work with each knitter to help them in a personal way – in addition to the general class.) There’s also amazing food, every room has a whirlpool bath and a fireplace, and in the evenings we do some pretty amazing stuff.  There’s the talent show, and homework presentation, and you should ask around about the slide show.  It’s amazing. 

Mostly though, it’s hard to explain.  It’s four days in an intimate setting with other like minded people, in a luxury resort, talking about knitting with other people who really, really care about it the way you do. People make friends there they keep for years, and Tina and I love meeting them in an small setting like that.  There’s the sea, and otters doing disgusting things (I can’t hardly talk about that) and knitting on the veranda with a glass of wine, if that’s your thing.  I love Sock Camp.

What’s with the theme? Do I have to dress like a pirate or wear a hat? I hate hats.
- paraphrased.

Yeah, me too.  I won’t be dressing up either, though I can’t speak for the other tutors. It’s a deeply personal choice. I suppose the theme is mostly for  "guidelines" (to quote  Captain Jack Sparrow) and it does add a layer of fun.  (Like the pirate theme was the spark for going whale watching.) Really though, it’s just a knitting retreat.  Nobody wants you to talk like a pirate or dress funny – unless that really makes you happy.  Then go ahead.  Remember that when Tina wears her hat. I don’t think I can stop her.

What’s the difference between Sock Camp and the Knot Hysteria Retreats? Which one should I come to?  I think I’d rather come to a retreat because I don’t care about socks that much.
- Jenny, by way of email. (Permission granted to share.)

What’s the difference? Minimal really.  The Knot Hysteria Retreats usually have spinning, this doesn’t, and the Knot Hysteria retreats are free-standing and just the way Tina and I want them to be.  Sock Camp is run by Knot Hysteria (The company Tina and I own that runs Retreats and Sock Summit) but technically, that company is hired by Blue Moon Fiber Arts (Tina’s company) to run it.  That means that it’s way more Tina flavoured than usual.  (If you love her as I do, that’s a good, but wacky thing. Definitely wacky.)  All the other stuff is the same. As for not caring about socks, I get that, though two points.  First, like we said about Sock Summit, socks aren’t really socks – they’re tiny canvasses to practice general knitting skills on – so we think they’re really interesting. Second, for this Sock Camp, there’s only one truly sock specific class. (That would be mine, but you know how I feel about socks.
) Lucy, Tina and Carson’s classes translate really, really well to general knitting. They are simply presented by way of sock.

I don’t know anyone.
- anonymous (and my subconscious)

I can honestly say that I’ve never known anyone to be lonely at camp – unless they wanted to be.  You’d be surprised how fast you’ll make friends.  Even if it’s only me.

Finally (and I got this one A LOT.)

Sock Camp is too expensive.
- paraphrased.

I know it’s expensive. for a lot of us, it’s too expensive. (The irony is that if Tina and I didn’t run the things, we wouldn’t be able to go either.  We get it.)  It’s a knitting retreat/vacation at a resort.  There’s a chef, and lovely staff, and knitting teachers that we’re committed to paying a fair wage to.  That makes it expensive.
I think there’s no point in denying that it costs a lot, so I think about it like diamonds, or cashmere, or owning a really posh car.  It’s a treat – and not everyone can afford to treat themselves like that.  I wish it was less expensive, but just like cashmere, it isn’t.  If I could make it less expensive, I would, but it’s just not how luxury retreats work.  There’s other retreats, ones where you stay in a cabin, or whatever, and some of those will be closer to the reach of more people, but the truth is that it’s like going anywhere really, really special. If you can afford it, and you love it, and it’s important to you (and it really needs to be all three) then you do it. Or (like me and Paris…) you think about it all the time and save, and hope someday it could change, or that I win the lottery and invite you all for free, which I totally would. 

Is there still room at Camp?
-You, know that I’ve told you all this.

A little, not a lot.  Go here. Hit Register.

How’s the spinning going?
-me, pretending you asked. 

Really well.  The reddish batt from yesterday is beautiful yarn now…

and I’m onto the batts I made with Judith, which I can only hope I do justice to.

Any more questions?