Sunday, May 31, 2009

Penance Rewarded

I was good this week - despite temptation and continued Raging Startitis, I finished these: Very loosely based on Toddler Socks from Vogue Knitting Ultimate Sock Book, in Sandnes Garn Lannett. These are socks for Ryan, my friends Darcy & Lyle's new arrival. The scroll pattern around the top is a detail from the flag of Kazahkstan, the country where Ryan was born. I also am well on the way with sock #2 of Rick from Cookie A.'s Sock Innovation and have even done a few more rows on Catriona. The Knitting Gods have rewarded my penance, though they did remind me (through Canada Customs being JERKS and holding up the packages of we Canadian Rockin' Sock Club members for daaaays.... it's FREAKING YARN, people!!!!) that their power is absolute and that my leash is short.

But look what I got on Thursday (eep eep eep): Joy. Joy. Joy. I haven't even taken the label off yet. Don't wanna push my luck.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stitches in Time

"Wow. You missed your era." 

My 2nd year theatre professor said this to me in 1992, at our first rehearsal in costume for Little Shop of Horrors. I was in full early 60s regalia: capri pants, belted bright yellow sweater, beehive hairdo and leather jacket. With the very voluptuous figure I had at the time (a good 60 pounds heavier than I am now), I looked the part. "Yes," I thought, "that's it! I missed my era. Born at another time, I would have been what the magazines said I should be. I would have been 'That Girl'." Instead of the exact opposite of "That Girl" that I was, in the era of big blond hair, blue eye-shadow, and tall, bony frame that was the aesthetic ideal of the time.

I have often thought that I missed my era, in many other ways, too.

Way the first: Music. For as long as I can remember, the music that has moved me the most has been that of a long bygone era - that of Vienna in the the late 18th century, of Beethoven, of Mozart, and later of Rachmaninoff and Liszt and Mahler. I pressed my ear against the console stereo and listened to Tchaikovsky ballet music as a toddler, making up the story of Swan Lake in my head, and decided then and there that all I ever wanted to do was make this music. While my friends listened to Duran Duran and had pictures of Nick Rhodes torn from Teen Beat on their bedroom walls, I practiced piano five hours a day and had a life-sized Beethoven poster on mine. Not exactly a ticket to Coolsville for a teenager in the 1980s.

Way the second: Knitting. I've had a lot of "hobbies" in my life, but none so enduring and as satisfying and endlessly entertaining as this. Every time I turn a heel, I feel connected to history in a small way, knowing that my accomplishing this little feat of architecture (no pun intended) is essentially the same as has been done for hundreds of years, all over the world. That there are still no machines that can shear a sheep, that much of the yarn I use was spun or painted or dyed by a person, not a machine, that the act of creating things to warm those I love out of string is somehow so ... human. The first time I brought a sock to knit during Grey Cup (an annual tradition that involves me and my dad watching football, eating really fabulous schmancy food and swearing at the refs), I looked up to see him frozen in space, holding a baked brie, tea towel thrown over his shoulder, wearing a huge smile while tears streamed down his face. "What?" I said. "Nana used to knit socks while she watched football, too." (My Nana, his mom, gone since 1997, loved needlework and football in almost equal measure.) So when I knit, I feel connected to my personal history, too. To her.

And Way the Third: Bread. I bake bread. Every week. The Love of My Life and I have eaten my homemade bread pretty much exclusively for going on two years now. I love the simplicity of it, the 5 ingredients, the - again - human involvement, that it's not enough to follow a recipe and throw things into a bowl and then the oven: the dough needs kneading. It needs me. And the recipe is same as it has always been, simple, universal, honest. Ancient. Another era.

But Love of My Life said something last night as I was knitting by the lake and mentioned this "missing my era" idea that changed my thinking about this whole classical music, knitting, bread-baking thing of mine. He said, "Ya, but you wouldn't have had the choice then."


He's right. Two hundred years ago, I probably wouldn't have been permitted to have the incredible musical experiences that I have had as a solo pianist, accompanist and chorister, and certainly not those I enjoy today as a member of a Celtic-rock band. Knitting and bread-baking would have been required, mundane, daily "women's work" that would have been something I would have had to do whether I was in a mood to or not, made out of whatever I could get my hands on. And anything above my station in life as a woman - like a university education, and a job, and a bicycle, and the freedom to play accordion on stage while wearing a mini-skirt and drinking beer if I feel so inclined - wouldn't have been any kind of option for me. And that, my friends, would have been a terrible thing indeed.

The Love of My Life is right. I didn't miss my era. I was born at just the right time. Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Knitting God Smack Down

Bless me, fellow knitter, for I have sinned. It has been 6 months since my last confession.

I have brought the wrath of the knitting gods upon me, and it is for the sin of Getting Too Big For My Britches. I committed this sin six times in the last month.  

First, I had the arrogance to assume that no more snow and the appearance of the sun for 10 days in a row meant that spring was here, and started to knit accordingly. I put my Cascade 220 cabled sweater aside and indulged my carnal urges towards lace and little socks. I sinned in my mind, too, adding little cotton short sleeved cardigans and shrugs to my Ravelry queue. I lusted after laceweight handpainted yarns on Etsy.  

Second, I thought I could knit a baby sweater for my friend's new arrival in something like a weekend. Not just a sweater, but a cabled cardigan of my own design, without swatching, in a sport-weight yarn I have never used. When that didn't work, I started designing and swatching in fair isle, in yarn that I don't have enough of and no pattern in mind.
Third, I have cast on 3 new first socks, none of whom have their mates in progress. I didn't seem to think this was a problem at the time.  

Fourth, I did the above knowing full well that the arrival of my Rockin' Sock Club May shipment is imminent. I then ordered new needles from KnitPicks because I am sure that all of the needles that this shipment might need already have socks-in-progress on them, but (oh, forgive me) plan to start them anyway.  

Fifth, proclaiming myself somewhat bored with all of these socks, I cast on a new lace project over the weekend just to take the edge off.  

Sixth, and this is the doozy...the one that led me to throw myself on your mercy: I thought myself capable of knitting a very involved, very complicated (but oohhhhhh so pretty oh...sorry, I'm lusting, and coveting my neighbor's finished object, that's probably bad too...) project for a very important gift-deadline that is very soon. So extreme was my arrogance that I immediately bought the pattern on Ravelry, joined the knit-along and ordered the (fabulously-expensive but totally worth it) yarn. I even dropped hints to the project's intended recipient. Said yarn arrived today, now 10 days closer to said deadline, and ... it's the wrong colour. I don't trust myself to dye it, the company that sent it to me was lovely and supportive about taking it back and doesn't make a true black, which is the colour I need, no compromise possible, and my LYS has nothing in the right gauge.

I respectfully submit that I have done some penance already, in the form of an imminent deadline, no dpns available to me, a frost warning for tonight, crippling guilt over no gift yet for my friend's baby and a credit card that creaks every time I move my wallet and $18.90 in shipping back and forth of yarn I did not use. I would like to respectfully suggest that I go away and do ten rows on the sweater and finish second socks as further penance. I beg your forgiveness, Knitting Gods. I am but a humble, weak, yarn-loving knitter (apparently with some A.D.D.), and I will never doubt your Power of Smack Down again.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Dear Home Town,

I'm a prairie girl. I was born here, I've lived here for the vast majority of my life, I know what it means to live on a big, flat, semi-northern piece of the planet. I love the prairie; mountains, as beautiful as they are, make me miss the big, big sky. I love you, and I proudly sing your praises when I am away from you.
I know you, and I choose to live here. Which is why it drives me to distraction when people who also made this choice bitch and complain about you when you do what you do, when you are what you are, namely, a place that gets dangerously cold and snowy for a significant part of the year. It's the trade off, and I accept that.

But now this... it's ENOUGH.

I've had it. I really have. It was a LONG, COLD, SNOWY, FREAKING MISERABLE WINTER. I believed it would end, I believed in you. I knit scarves and fair isle hats and double-knit mittens and wrapped everyone I love in pure wool and thought about the smell of spring and smiled a frozen smile. I DEFENDED you. You owe me an explanation. And I'm staying in my apartment and not coming out until I get one. Take that. (P.S. Knitting Gods, in case this is some sort of smack-down for my audacity to knit little socks because it was "spring", I promise to go back to Catriona if you'll please just make it stop.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


It might be the fact that it was a long winter and spring finally seems to be here on the Canadian prairie. It might be my recently acquired KnitPicks Harmony Needle sets (interchangeable circs and 4" dpns). It might be my membership in the Rockin' Sock Club (my first such adventure), or the new Cookie A. book, or just a wee phase, or the evil evil influence of Lime & Violet, back episodes of which I have been consuming ravenously for the past month as I commute back and forth to the Day Job. But holy moly, am I addicted to socks these days. On my needles right now are Bex and Rick (both from Sock Innovation). 
  I also have this skein of lovely from Tanis Fiber Arts, which is destined for a Cookie pattern, probably Sam since it's variegated) And I finished these two pairs recently (like, really recently), one for mom (March Rockin' Sock Club, Rogue Roses in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Medium Weight), one for my sister (my own pattern, stash). New Rockin' Sock Club here within weeks. And all I want to do is, well, knit more socks.

I'm sorry Catriona, we'll be together again. I love your cables, I love your colour, I love that you come in a size that's going to fit me, I love that you're almost done. It's just that, well, you don't go on feet, and these days, I'm just not that into you. It's not you, it's me, and I just need a little time. Please be patient with me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I have been pondering starting a blog for years, and never did because, even though I love to write, and even though I love to read other people's blogs, I never really could see a "point" to hosting my own.

Yesterday, it was brought to my attention that I have a habit of repeating Stories (not just stories, but Stories, those carefully crafted biographical anecdotes that get told the same way every time, usually to illustrate a point or recall a time or event that taught me something significant). We had a long talk about this, and, while I'm still trying to figure out all of the reasons why I might have this potentially very irritating habit, I think one of them is that, well, I LIKE telling stories. I like re-creating an event with words, I like colourful adjectives and attempts at clever metaphors, I like making people laugh, I like to be the entertainer, the court jester. Some of the reasons for this are good and some are not so good, but I figured it might be better to share my stories and random thoughts here than telling the few people in my life the same things again.

So here we are - I think I'll probably be blogging mostly about knitting (because thoughts about knitting are only interesting for so long to non-knitters, even the really wonderful ones in my life who will cheerfully wear hand-knit socks) but other things might come up.

I like lists. Here's one.  

Contributing Factors
1. I knit. Obsessively.
2. I am a musician. I made my living as a classical pianist for several years. I now play accordion in a Celtic Rock band.
3. I am madly in love with an incredible man who loves me back. He's also a musician.
4. I am technically in my 30s, but have no intention of ever "growing up".
5. I am a recovering anorexic.
6. I have three younger siblings, all of whom are artists of one variety or another.

Nice to meet you.