Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The rain stays mainly on the plain.

...or at least it does in Saskatoon, where I'm here for this. The city is rather full of all of us. My paper's this afternoon. I was almost paper-less before I realized I still had a copy on Gmail. (Note to self: never, ever, ever feel silly for emailing documents to me in fits of paranoia.) Am good to go. Or at least once I get some tea that didn't come from the hotel coffee machine.

Thank you for all the cool comments on the Yarn Harlot signing recap! It was a fun night and I'm glad everyone else enjoyed it too. I was a little regretful at not having a finished Icarus shawl to wear for the conference but in this weather, oh it'd be wilting. I'm carting around a skein's worth of Lorna's Laces and starting a Smart Capitals sock from Sensational Knitted Socks. My first toe up and first lace sock all at once. It has the pesky quality of not being easy to memorize. But it looks cozy.

More pics to come later. (Too bad I didn't bring the camera cable with me to plug in.) Happy knitting everyone.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"So how many people tried to explain to non-knitters where they were going tonight?"

...So the Yarn Harlot asked the crowd at her book launch last night. It was a super fun event and I'm so glad she finally got to do one in Toronto. The theme of her talk was all about representing the culture of knitters and all the embarrassments and terminal stereotypes that still haunt it. I don't know if I can do a just & accurate recap of the night. It was exciting and entertaining and enlightening and relaxing and... funny. Just so much laughter and good times in the crowd. By the end of it even the staff were enjoying it. (Once they got past that crushing bewilderment.)

Mom and dad drove in to meet Glenna and I and we had dinner on Yonge. Then we got to Indigo around 6pm and met Kate, to join the line for seats.

And that was a long line, yup. And it seemed like everyone, and I mean everyone had a sock just for the occasion. It was so neat. When I think about Knitting Rules!, that was the book that made me learn about socks. It changed my knitting life because it taught me how to make a sock and not follow a pattern, because you could just do it in you head. Because anyone can just knit a sock, just like that, and she tells you how. What a super testimonial to Stephanie.

As seats filled up (about 100), more people (for certain, at least 300 in total) filed through.

I wore the Brennan cardi (it was a little warm), and had a few compliments on it, which was totally nice. I think I forget sometimes that, um, other people sometimes notice what you knit? Like, it's not just that thing you're really glad isn't haunting your WIP list anymore? (I mean, it's possible someone somewhere someday will like my thesis for what it is too. I'll be happy enough when it's done, yanno?)

Now, with about a half hour to go, the place was seriously starting to crowd in. And it's important to remember that this is also a store that handles Harry Potter midnight book launches. All the staff I talked to were polite and accommodating and very diligent about making sure as many people got a seat as they could. The girl at the desk where I bought the book from cheerfully said her aunt was coming too, and since Stephanie hadn't done signing in Toronto yet, so wasn't this nice? That said, I'm not sure they knew what to do when the empty spaces filled in. Behind the desk, behind shelves, behind stairs...

Even on the stairs above, where you could just barely get a sightline. Hard core, yo.

Then she showed up and all 300+ of us went berserk.

See the store guy trying to subdue the crowd? "Settle down, girls, settle down..." Psh. But he did then admit he knitted once in school because there was a cute girl on his floor who did it. Heh.

Stephanie gives a great talk. She's clear and confident but humourously self-deprecating and comes off just so comfortable with herself and her craft and her culture, you would never know she had posted just hours before about how stressed she was speaking in her home town.

She told the story of the Blue Moon Fiber arts bank troubles, her experiences talking to people who don't "get" knitting, about one store in the USA that put out only 10 chairs for her signing because it was "just a knitting book", and the wild and unexplained paranoia of a worldwide blight that will render all sheep suddenly and permanently hairless.

The crowd was wonderful, had a great time, and knit like pros. I saw so many socks and shawls and scarves in progress, and gorgeous sweaters that I wondered what they were knit out of. And a few little ones that were so well-behaved. This little girl had a knitted skirt and bloomers on. Oh, squee.

When I got to the desk Stephanie was cool enough to hold one of R's socks for me. I mentioned we were hoping to teach him to knit while he recovers from surgery. So she gave it a little mojo from the tour sock. There's a lot of knitters who've touched that sock, she said, so that's some good juju right there. We had to bail on the afterparty, but had a small one on our own with a movie and goodies and some drinks. Finished the socks too!

In conclusion, Stephanie rocks. She's smart and talented and funny and confident, knows her craft and has a remarkable ability to pinpoint the identifiers of knitting culture. And the thing is, she's one of us. She represents us so well because she reflects the culture so many people contribute to. Three cheers!

Friday, May 25, 2007

So Much Better Than Sushi

(Signage at Honest Ed's Discount Warehouse. "Edward's of Bloor", don'cha know.)

Heeding the adage of the blogosphere that if your knitting isn't working for you, you should take it out on the town, I did my best to travel with my ongoing socks the last few weeks. The good thing about shawls and socks is not only do they travel well, but they travel well together, because you can cram them in your (moderately-sized and shaped) purse along with the printout of the chapter you're revising, the tupperware you brought for lunch, and that library book you have to return. Like your two little portable, yarny friends.

(Ivy decorates Robarts Library.)

The socks and I have spent enough time in the common room in the last few weeks, listening to talks and chatting with other students, to get just a few inches away from done on the second pair. Part of this involved about a half hour of sitting in the theatre waiting for Pirates of the Carribean 3 to start. Which is definitely the best second sequel based on a theme park ride I've ever seen! Yanno, it was entertaining. Not profound. But a nice little spectacle all the same. And the audience was having a great time.

Icarus has managed to grow almost to the end of the 5th repeat of chart 1, meanwhile, and I was going to put a picture up but it's so scrunched on the needles it doesn't look like much except a big purple splotch. I'm having a bit of indecision though: With 7 rows to go before I'm supposed to start the feathers, I haven't even started the second ball of yarn. Should I try to squeeze in a 6th chart repeat? It seems small. Is it the yarn fumes? Will it doom me to run out of yarn one row before casting off? I should consult the Icarus KAL.

One gal is going to try to do a provisional cast on with just the feathers, and see if she can graft it on. This seems like an awesome idea except (a) I don't know how to do a provisional cast on, (b) my grafting is so very very unpretty and the shawl would hate me, (c) that's a lot of tiny, tiny, so very tiny stitches to count and match. So I dunno. We'll let it keep marinating for a while.

In the meantime I'm so ridiculously excited to go to the Yarn Harlot's signing tonight. Y'all, I hope we mob that Indigo like... well, like the knitters we are. A few friends and family are tagging along too. My friend B proposed sushi dinner a few days ago but when I informed her of the alternate arrangments she immediately got on board with, "that is SO much better than sushi!!" Don't ya think? Represent.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


It's been a surprisingly full week so far. And it's only Thursday!

On Monday G and I caught up with friends S and C who are visiting from the UK after moving there about 2 years ago from Toronto. We joined them for dinner at Phil's BBQ, which was yummy, very yummy. I had the pulled pork sandwich with potato salad and plenty of sauce on. Why hadn't I tried real barbeque before? I really don't know.

After, we sat and had tea and a round of Careers. If you haven't played it, you need to, just because of the throwback value. It's like Monopoly except you collect hearts (happiness), stars (fame) and cash according to a career success formula you set for yourself. It's remarkably progressive too, you know. Because when the business world lands you "Cute secretary. 2 hearts.", or "Wife goes on shopping spree. Pay half your salary.", it doesn't know whether you're a female player or not, see? Farming was okay. But at Sea I got sick on the first square and landed in hospital. Not cut out for success, I am.

Last night I joined G and her friend R who was visiting from NYC for the knitting night at Lettuce Knit (my first time there, don'cha know, omigosh). It was also the launch party for No Sheep For You. We were told to bring booze. They served cupcakes. All parties should have knitting and booze and cupcakes, shouldn't they?

I made the Very Bad Decision of knitting on the steps, which gave me a nice view but in the end cramped my hips and also led to me dropping a dpn down through a crack, never to return. (I also managed to lose my (autographed! wow!) copy of No Sheep For You, but we saved that with a long stick and some creative pulling and pushing from a hole in the side of the steps. Whew. (So in the end I came away with one more new set of dpns than I expected I'd come away with. On the other hand... I now have a set of 4 spares.)

Isn't that the happiest cat you ever saw? She was a real flirt. Nudged everyone's legs once but committed to noone, and watched all the excitement with big yellow eyes.

The Big Fun of the night was getting tickets to draw for door prizes - one by one everyone got to choose from a grab box of yarn, books, and doo-dads Amy Singer was giving away. Once it got to me I thought I would look for a ball of something I could reasonably get a one-skein project out of (because my stash is tiny and so is my experience in the world of Cool and Fancy yarns). So there was a ball of laceweight I grabbed. (A-ha, I thought: even one ball of laceweight can get you a scarf or a shawl. I know enough to know this) It turns out it was one skein of Handmaiden silk. Jaysis. (I think my exact and erudite words, when Amy said "oh, you got the Handmaiden!" were, "oh, is that what this is? Cool.")

Before we left I thanked Amy twice for it - I'm new to laceweight, I said, but I was excited to make something with it. She said she was happy someone would make something with it now, and pointed to her own shawl. (I didn't say that I was too much of a n00b to recognize the pattern for it.) Such a tiny ball of yarn. But so precious.

For now I'll get back to socks for my friend R, who has to have major surgery today. If you have any good vibes to spare, it'd be awesome if you could send them his way.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Finally a FO

(Blossoms next to Robarts Library.)

Lookit! I finally moved something to the "Finished Object" column. Here's a (slightly dark) photo of the finished Brennan cardi. It's comfy and fits much better than I'd thought when I was worrying over how thin the front panels were. I wore it out to a BBQ party last night (where the overnight low was 5 C) and it worked out great. The pockets are actually pretty well functional and I kept shoving my hands in them in the cold. My only nitpicks are wishing the sleeves were more snug - the shoulders tend to slip down a little - and the buttons pop undone if you don't have more than one closed. But I'm happy with it. It'll be a good wear this fall and winter.
G's got a whole bigger post with more pics, and about making the pattern here.

Cast on: June 2006
Cast off: April 29, 2007
Blocked & finished: May 6, 2007

And do you know what the best part is? I never have to knit it again. I can move on to a new project. Freedom!

The other night a couple pals came over for "knitting under the influence" as we say, and enjoyed some dessert, movies and chatter too. My friend B revealed this awesomest of needle storage strategies: she's using a plastic toothbrush holder to carry her dpns. Is it not genius? (She has a background in cognitive science. Don't say those degrees never did nuthin' for ya.)

And for the rest, I'm about halfway through the re-knit of 1930. I've cast on for a new pair of socks. A few more discloths to finish up after that and I might be able to crack into another sweater. Maybe. Possibly.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

At last.

Time to cue up the Gershwin. Look who's blocking:

...and blocking. And blocking. Sheesh. Won't you dry, wool? But anyhow. Another day to sit, two wee pockets and some buttons and that sucker's finally a FO..

I'll now channel my euphoria at using up that stash by going on an imaginary shopping spree. And get back to 1930, now that it's had time to think about its crimes.