Yarn Revolt

Here is my current progress on the Serenity Shawl:


Yup. I frogged it.

Sometimes yarn can be very vocal as to what it wants to be and what it does not want to be. The yarn will express its thoughts through common signals, such as tangling, splitting, or having the ball fling itself off your lap and fly right on into the recently used fireplace, for example. When odd and slightly passive-aggressive events begin to happen in the vicinity of your work-in-progress, you know that your precious yarn is clamouring for emancipation.

In the case of my not-so-serene shawl, I discovered I was ripping back all the time. I have been knitting since my age was a single digit. I have been teaching knitting, and lace, and shawls, and sweaters, and fixing mistakes, for about a decade now. And yet here I was, with an admittedly easy shawl pattern, and for the life of me, I couldn’t seem to do anything right. I made little mistakes, counting mistakes, big mistakes, dropped yarnover mistakes, using the wrong slanted decrease mistakes, all of it. I valiantly kept trying, because I was enchanted by the idea of a shawl named Serenity being knit in a yarn hand-dyed by a sick friend. Also, I kept telling myself that this rip-out session would be the last time I ripped out, because all would, of course, go smoothly the next time.

Because, after all: This was me we were talking about. Sandi the Knitter. Able-to-knit-a-sock-in-a-dark-movie-theatre Sandi. Designer-of-a-rather-fancy-arse-circular-shawl-pattern Sandi. Sandi- who-has-never-met-a-lace-stitch-she-didn’t-like Sandi.

No WAY that Sandi would make that many mistakes in an 8-stitch lace repeat pattern. (Oh. Wait. It’s only a 6-stitch pattern. Even more embarrassing.) And so The Great Knitter Me would rip back, carefully put all 200 or so stitches back on the needle, and begin again. I knew what I had done wrong, so no more problems, right?

No such luck. I just kept flailing, not only in the lace parts, but in the stockinette parts as well. (I can’t bear to tell you that I messed up the garter sections. I purled. Yes, really. Oh, the shame…)

At some point, I held up the in-progress shawl, and realized with chagrin (and perhaps an extra-spicy word or three) that my shawl-in-progress had earrings.

mistake with stitch marker.png

See the charming wee shawl earring? Silver ring, with a shiny blue bead, just left of center at about ten o’clock. Lovely.

Such lovely shawl jewelry!

Except, of course, they weren’t earrings, they were two of my favourite stitch markers, knitted right into the work, securely strung onto the yarn. I love my little sparkly markers, so no way I was cutting those suckers apart to get them out. That’s when I admitted that I could hear the yarn screaming, and decided to put all that lovely yarn back into the ball. The yarn clearly wanted OUT, so I released it back into the wilds of my stash.

IMG_2160 (1)

A handy reference photo, which ought to help me avoid permanently adorning future lacework.

Ripping it out was quite a relief, actually. I found that I would rather work on projects that do not annoy me. Go figure.

This, of course, begs the question: What would I rather be knitting? Turns out that, even when I have all of my stash to play with, even though the internet is my oyster as far as shawl patterns go, and even though I have spent an unconscionable amount of time on Ravelry staring at pretty stitches, I am stumped. None of the patterns are reaching out their greedy little grabby hands from within my screen. All the patterns look more or less the same to me at this point. I find myself looking more at the photography background, the lighting, and the model’s hair than I do at the actual Knitted Thing.

That was last night. Today, I would love to say “All Better now, look what I have knitted overnight!” but I am still stuck. My usual solution for stuckédness is to Just Do It. So I picked the #1 sock pattern on Ravelry, Hermione’s Every Day Socks, grabbed Random Purple Yarn, and cast on.

hermione socks dreamsinfiber

These are by Dreamsinfiber on Ravelry.

*Tolerable. However, my hands positively ITCH to be working on a shawl.*

What do you knit when you want to knit everything? Have any pattern suggestions for me?

Random Cute Internet Animal

puppy with jammies and duck slippers

It would appear I am not the only one who loves being in their jammies and duckie slippers…


Posted in Knitting | 14 Comments

Three Bags Full

Hello, Spring!

Spring is gently sneaking up upon us here.

front flowerbed spring

It snuck up so gently, in fact, that I have not had a chance to whack back the rose branches overhanging the walkway. (The post person is not amused.)

This is our first spring in this house, and it seems as though every day or so, we get a new Garden Surprise: flowers, or buds, or simply leaves which I know will become flowers.

I had no idea that these would be blooming under the vent:

rock w redwht tulips

As for surprises, I got another surprise this week, in form of a quite-full grocery bag.

little bag

One of my fellow choir members at church (let’s call her Mary) came to Sunday warm-ups with a good-sized grocery bag, stuffed to the gills. Mary asked me if I “did weaving”, and I replied with a puzzled “Yes…?” She looked down at the bright yellow bag in her hands, and told me that a friend of hers (“Agnes”) had been given a bag full of “weaving materials” by some generous soul. Agnes doesn’t weave, however, and in fact knows nothing about weaving. Nevertheless, someone had given Agnes the bag of weaving materials, as Mary said: “Because Agnes was so crafty” and because Agnes “would surely know what to do with it”.

Curious what sort of “weaving materials” the bag might contain, I opened it and found this:

little bag insides

That is about 2 lbs of beautifully carded (if slightly matted from being in the plastic bag for a while), hand-dyed wool and silk, with bits of silk noil and wool tweed mixed in. If I had to guess, I would say that the fibre is either BFL (Bluefaced Leicester, for those who don’t know) or something close. The blend is about 80% BFL, and 20% silk, somewhere around there.


Bluefaced Leicester lambs

In other words, this is two pounds of truly gorgeous fluff. (And m&th-free, fortunately.) I just sort of stood there with my mouth open, fondling the roving. Mary asked, “So, is this something you can use? Like in your weaving?”

I struggled not to laugh too much. “Oh, yes. I can definitely put this to good use. But it’s not weaving stuff, it’s wool for making yarn, using my spinning wheel.” (Spindles seemed just too far outside her fence, I could tell.) “This will make lovely sweater yarn, and there’s plenty here to make enough for a sweater. Would your friend like me to spin the yarn and then give the yarn back to her so she can knit with it?”

Mary: “Oh, Agnes doesn’t knit, or do anything like that. She wouldn’t have a use for the yarn. She’ll just be happy to get rid of it, to give it to someone who will enjoy it.”

I began to thank Mary for the bag of lovely fluff, and she put a hand on my arm, smiling at me.


Rosie, age 7, thinks her year-old sibling Naboo makes a perfect pillow. Both are BFLs.

“Well, yes, I am pleased you want this bag, but this isn’t the bag I was talking about. Sorry, I must have been unclear.”

“What do you mean?”

“This isn’t the bag Agnes wants me to give to you. It’s just a sample so I could show you without having to drag in the rest of it.”

(A bit of worry creeps into my brain.) “The rest of it?”

“Why, yes, that’s what I was trying to tell you. There are another two bags, bigger bags, of this same stuff. Agnes says you can have the whole lot if you can use it.”

(carefully:) “How big are the other bags?”

“Oh, Agnes figures if she packs it firmly, she can get those two bags stuffed into a bag the size of one of those 32-gallon trash bags, just so it is easier to carry.”

big bag

(Easier to carry a 32-gal stuffed-with-fluff bag? Easier than what, exactly?)

Patiently, Mary asks, “So…do you want the rest of it? It is quite a large bag, perhaps even one of those giant leaf/yard bags.”

A bit shellshocked, I answer with the only sensible reply possible: “Of course I want the rest!”

I think the big garden bag full o’ fluff weighs about 10 lbs.

big bag insides

Give or take.

Next Question

What the heck am I going to do with about 12 pounds of lovely BFL/silk roving?

I don’t know yet, but methinks it will be great fun to figure that out.

Suggestions, of course, are more than welcome.  :)

Until Next Time

I know, no chispas, boooo. (“Chispa”, for those new to the blog, means “spark” in Spanish. Over the years I have regularly posted a few links to articles or images which I hope will be “little sparks of inspiration” for you.

Coming up: New Patterns in my Rav store! I am pretty excited about this. I just put the finishing touches on my new template, and will be formatting PDFs and posting them soon. I will also post them here, of course, so you get the first look!


Tessa says:
Don’t let all those sweet breezes, bright flowers, and sunny blue skies get you down, you hear?

Posted in Knitting | 10 Comments

In search of Serenity

This ought to look familiar if you’ve been following along lately:




Yes, that is the Serenity Shawl. And yes, it is STILL the Serenity shawl, despite its first appearance way back when.

Author’s Note: It is 5:28 PM Monday night, and I am just about to publish this post. I went back in search of the first post about this shawl, which I figured ought to have been out around November 2015…only to find that, although I had written the post, I had never finished it and pushed Go. Thus, there is no previous, information-rich post to link to with things like the pattern name and What In Heck Is That Gorgeous Yarn.

I am really, really tired. I shall amend this egregious error in the next post. Promise.

Right after I fire my editor.  ;)

From the looks of things, it does’t appear that I have made very much progress in the intervening weeks. This is not for lack of trying, mind you. This is one of two projects I carry with me everywhere, and work on in odd moments. It’s easy, and the pattern is pretty enough to make other folks think I am quite clever to be knitting it.

Uh, no. No cleverness here. I am not sure there has even been much Working on the Correct Side of the Piece, as lately, I have found odd holes and bits that look suspiciously like short rows in places where no short rows ought to be. And certainly, there has not been much Careful Reading and Following of the Pattern, because I sometimes wonder if I have gotten my knitting projects mixed up and am knitting the chart for my socks onto the shawl, while my socks are turning into very pretty lace floral accessories.


Unfortunately, I have been rather mindlessly repeating my lack of clever over the past bit of time: pick up the project after a few days; study it for a few minutes to see where I think I might be in the pattern; figure out where I think I might go next; knit, yarn over, decrease, and purl for a while; stuff the thing back into the bag when Life or dinner intervenes; and rinse repeat. Eventually, after working a lot of promising-looking rows, I lay the shawl out on my knee to admire the pattern, only to find little or no relationship between the Real True Chart and whatever my stitches are up to.

I knew I had hit a crisis point when I finally, FINALLY thought I had my groove down, only to be brought back to earth with a most ungroovy thud. Attempting to thwart my overblown Knitting Ego  (“oh, THAT? That’s only seven rows and eleven stitches wide, I can remember that, no problem.”), I made a wee copy of just the chart and pinned it to the inside of my project bag, thereby, I hoped, putting said Knitting Ego in her place.

To my credit, I actually did manage to set aside Le Ego long enough to check the wee chart copy now and then. However.

I found, after one particularly curse-filled inspection session, that I had been looking at the wee chart copy Upside Down.

It might not have mattered. I badly wanted it not to matter, in fact. Except that, of course, in this case, it did matter.

K2tog upside down? Is an ssk.

Rippity rip rip rip.

I have not yet found my serenity. There is still hope, however. I redid the little chart for my project bag, this time writing TOP in red ink across the appropriate side of the paper.

I will finish this shawl. Whatever, and I do mean whatever, it takes.


Author’s Note The Second: I already told you about knitting from the upside down chart, didn’t I? Well, well. Um. Sorry. I hope that I at least told the story better the second time ’round.

Here, let me distract you with photos of adorable fibre animals…

Alpacas Disguised as Chispas

It was a gorgeous sunny, if bitingly cold, day last Saturday, and Melody and I could not bear to be inside another minute. We bundled up in our adorable matching down coats (they had purple, black and brown, what colour would YOU pick?) and drove down the road to the 15th Annual Alpaca Ontario Show, which bills itself as the largest Alpaca show in Canada. Given the sheer numbers of alpacas in attendance (over 200), whose owners brought them from places as far away as Vancouver and Alberta, it would seem the billing may have been a tad modest, perhaps.


This little one looks just like my Ravelry ravatar!

What I did not get were photos of the alpacas being shown in the arena. I’d never watched alpaca judging before, so I sat for a while and quickly became fascinated, pulled in by the personalities of the people as well as the animals. I rooted (quietly) for my favorites, and was glad when one of them won first prize in one of the categories.


While trying to take a photo of this young lady…


…it appeared someone else wanted their photo taken, too.


Here’s your own solo portrait, my friend. Smile for the camera!

One of the folks showing an alpaca was a small lad of about five. His alpaca, a small juvenile, towered over him, despite Young Lad’s swanky, too-large cowboy hat and authentically dusty boots. I do wish I had gotten a picture at the end, when the top judge asked everyone to give the little fellow a special round of applause for his showmanship and accomplishment at this, his very first show!


The Spice flows strongly through this one…

I am so glad my iPhone cannot talk. If it could, it would be mocking me: “Enough alpacas already! You’ve filled up the entire cloud with pictures of the beasties, and they all look the same! C’mon, admit it: You’ve taken at least two photos of every single alpaca in the barn.”

I can neither confirm nor deny this remark.


There is one in EVERY crowd.


Posted in Knitting | 3 Comments

kitten therapy, part 2

When we last left our intrepid heroine minion to cats…

This had happened.


The adorable, utterly snuggle-worthy, marvelous Ben, aged about 5 months, came to join our family.

However, this upset the balance of power in our little cat universe.


Always Acquire in Pairs

That, apparently, is the consensus from thousands of kitten-slaves throughout the world. By bringing home Ben all by his little self, I had broken that sacred law of wisdom, and poor dignified Zoe and Dusty were Not Amused. What to do, what to do…

Me being the law-abiding, dutiful sort, about ten days later, this happened.

Tessa under bed.png

and this.

Tiny Tessa on the go.png

and of course, in the end, this:

Tessa snuggling Dusty from above.png

Yep. Even Dusty is Completely Dooooomed.

Because you have MORE questions

Melody has a friend whose mother, semi-retired, does her part to keep the world a happy place by fostering kittens. Occasionally, when visiting, we happen to meet these tiny beings who determinedly stagger around on quivering legs.

It would be rude not to play with the wee kitties when we see them, now, wouldn’t it? Yes it would. They need socialization. They need to get used to being (gently) handled. They need to get used to different people, different smells, different voices. They need to learn Good Kitten Manners when being picked up and petted.

They need to be kissed on their wee little fuzzy heads.

During one particular socialization session, I heard a supersonic “MEW”, and felt something small and warm fling herself against my stomach. Thanks to the thick sweater I was wearing, it was easy for her to climb up the human in order to MEW loudly and repeatedly right in the human’s face. Eventually, the MEWs became mews, and Sweater-Climber began patting my neck, first one paw, then the other. It was at this point that I realized that the Mistress of Mewing had slightly unusual paws.


Seven toes on each front paw. Six toes on each back paw. Polydigimagical Cat!

Within minutes, Little BigFoot had those ginormous soft paws on either side of my face, her arms arranged as though hugging me. She kept making intense eye-contact with me, bopping my nose with hers, and generally engaging in many forms of kitten seduction.

Love at first sight, both ways.

First, I Had to Find Her

Trouble was: Little BigFoot was a SPCA cat, meaning that I had to wait until she was available for adoption and not just take her home on the spot. Spoilsports. I spent two weeks searching the SPCA websites for her photo. I almost missed it, as it wasn’t the clearest photo in the world, but on the same page was a photo of her uniquely coloured littermate. I called right away, and about an hour later, poof, we were reunited. (goofy music ensues)

I was not allowed to put a hold on her prior to this, I had to just take my chances in the SPCA process. Her sibs were adopted within an hour of me taking Mistress of Mews home, so I am very, very lucky to have found her again.

Tessa snuggling Dusty Adorbs Closeup

Both our vet and I noticed that Tessa is (and continues to be) small for her alleged age (nine weeks when the second photo from the top above was taken), and discovered that she and her litter sibs had been rescued from a rather horrid hoarding situation, along with dozens of other animals, birds, etc. She was covered in The Yucky, she was hungry, dehydrated, and, by virtue of her signature supersonic singing voice, she was also letting everyone within six miles know that Someone Was Mean to a Kitten And That Kitten was MAD.

Once the SPCA cleaned her up (thank you, SPCA!), she began stealing hearts.

Such as mine.


Names, names

This little one was hard to name, partly because she had already had a couple of temporary names, and seemed uninterested in another one. Her foster home name was “Sassy”, (she is, indeed, quite the sassyface); the shelter changed it to “Rambler”. (um..??? She’s a kitten, not an SUV.)

I let her be nameless for a few days, until the name Tessa just dropped out of my mouth as I talked to her. The only connection I could come up with was that my current audiobook contains a supernatural being called “Tessa” by the humans around her. The character is mythical, enigmatic, ferocious in her love for, and protection of, small things, lost things, and helpless things.

Seemed just fine to me. Tessa likes it too.


Now The Tribe is Five.

(I counted so you wouldn’t have to. See how I am? Kindness itself, that’s me.)

Project Update

The Serenity Shawl continues to mock me.


At one point, I had printed off a copy of just the chart, no other distractions. Clever me, yes? No. Not clever. I proceeded to knit two and a half repeats   u p s i d e d o w n.

I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter. I kept right on saying that as I ripped back and once again put a couple hundred wee stitches back on my needle. After all, it is really important to have convictions, to not expect perfection, and to stick to your principles as you tink back those 298 sts at 1:30 AM on Monday morning.

Well. Yes. Of course I used a lifeline. A perfectly good lifeline, wwaaay back at the end of the second repeat, aalllllll the waayyyy down near the beginning.

I started a sock as consolation.


Yarn is from Play at Life Fiber Arts, in their Jest high twist base, and the colour is “Re-Pewter”. The pattern is Kalajoki, named after a river in Finland. I liked the way the designer mimicked the twists and curves of the river the sock is named after. (Photo below copyright Tiina, who is the designer of the sock.)



  • There has been so much struggle and suffering and pain in the world lately, and all I can offer is this poem by Ursula K. LeGuin:

    Only in silence the word,
    Only in dark the light,
    Only in dying, life.
    Bight the hawks, flight
    In the empty sky.

  • Feeling as though family issues are getting on your last nerve? Frustrated because your family seems so weird and twisted that it is a wonder you came out with any sanity intact? This might make you feel better.
  • For all that is holey, do NOT click on this link if you (a) love colour, and (b) love gradients. (I tried to warn you.)
  • If you are looking for a kitten or a puppy, or an older dog or cat (they have had time to develop a very finely tuned attitude, let me tell you!), please adopt a rescue. My local SPCA was a wonderful, caring place, where the best interests of the animals came first. As it should be.
  • If this video doesn’t put a smile on your face, you need more chocolate. Also, go borrow a kitten. That oughtta do ya some good.

Till next time! There will be more Yarn in the next post. I know this, because I have already written most of it.:)





Posted in Knitting | 4 Comments

kitten therapy

[Poetic Aside]

(Perhaps I am a sister to 
who cope with Winter
by making a very long
very cosy
very snug
culturally appropriate)


Welcome, March! Welcome also to FLOWERS, actual true-real FLOWERS.

On How A Bear Copes In February

Well, I admit, coping with deep mid-winter is a challenge. One has to keep one’s eyes open for any opportunity to add a few spoonfuls of playtime, love, and joy into one’s life.

For me, rather than wander the wild backwoods in search of joy, I took the expressway right to the station.

First this happened:

Ben Ball Vet Tree

After that, it is possible that this may have occurred:

Ben and Me Awwww

From there, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to the inevitable outcome.

Ben on Back enjoying life

Because You Have Questions

Mr. GingerKitten was about 4-5 months old when he arrived at our house. GingerBoy had been found in a parking lot outside an office building by the husband of our vet. VetHusband saw a second kitten in the bushes nearby–however, Cat the Second invoked Kitten Teleport Technology and got away before VH could grab him. (We hope he is OK. VH checks the area regularly.)

Since Prince Ginger had been found on Valentine’s Day, the vet staff chose to name him “Valentine”. (Aawwwwwww.) Valentine was cleaned up and checked out, given shots, and proceeded to steal the hearts of a half-dozen techs in addition to the vet’s. Now, I adore our vet and the staff, and for the most part, they have thus far proved themselves to be perfectly stable, sane, reasonable adults. These are people who are Kitten Pros. They have certificates and degrees in Kitten Wrangling, Kitten-Human Negotiation Skills, and, of course, Veterinary Anti-Adorable ness Shields allowing them to give a tiny, fuzzy, adorable being their booster shots without being swayed by big trusting eyes and tiny mews. Cheryl, the clinic’s Adoption Co-Ordinator, and Dana, the vet with the kitten-finder husband, were determined that this little Special Guy was going to go to a very Special Forever Home.

Ben Sitting on Tree at Vet

So they called me.

By the end of February, Valentine was enthroned on a lovely cushion, lord of all he surveyed, at my house. I found the name “Valentine” to be a bit fancified for the likes of our humble ways, so after the usual rounds of Name auditions, I named Kitty chose to recognize himself in human-talk as “Ben”, as in Gentle Ben, as in BenBear, as in HoneyBearBen, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Settling In…More or Less

Ben, being a kitten, made valiant attempts to play with his new, older, siblings. Dusty, age 12, genially let him live, even allowing the young upstart to play with his tail. Zoé, also age 12, not-so-genially allowed him to use the litterbox, eat, and sit on any cushion that was not hers. (Hard to find a spot under those conditions.) And then we held our breath as six-year-old Tim tried to figure out what the heck was going on. Originally, Ben was intended to be a playmate for Rowdy Cap’n Tim, who was getting a bit too eager about playing with the adults, who responded with much hissing and growling.

Ben meets Tim.png

I had wanted a kitten as a companion for Tim, so I watched with fingers crossed. Tim sniffed from across the room, then from the other side of the sofa, then from a few feet away, and I could almost hear him thinking: “They keep calling this…this creature…a kitten. But he’s not a kitten, I am The Kitten. For there can be only one…Take this impostor away, and bring me my after-lunch Greenie.”

Tim was clearly Not Impressed. Ben, all ready for a glorious romp or two, was clearly puzzled.

Thus I came to recognize that I had made Le Grande Mistake in kitten acquisition, violating the First Rule of Kittens: Always, always, bring them home in pairs. It’s good for the kitten(s), good for the older cats, and an excellent way to live with multiple cats and still have peace in your home.

Clearly, this story has a Part the Second.


A wonderful program benefitting shelter cats

This artist uses a completely unique medium.

I know I have pimped written about my friend Kim Werker here previously. I am pointing you in her direction again because she’s now a camp counselor for grownups, which sounds like the neatest idea ever. Check out her crazy creative doings on her website. Also: I cannot recommend her newsletter more highly (other than it is one of the very few I actually read the day they hit my inbox). Engaging essays on the crafty creative life, and links to her own form of “chispas”.

Posted in Animals, Family, Goblins of Winter, Knitting | Tagged , | 1 Comment

the last straw


At this very moment, we are having the Very First Real True Blizzard of Winter 2015/2016, right here, right outside my window. No. Really. See those white smears? Blizzard.

It’s been a rather nasty winter, to tell the truth. People have been people, for all values of “people”; I have been human (for ALL values of human, believe me); my body cramps up in the cold, and for some reason, both Melody and I have been hearing Buddy’s tags jingling around the house at odd moments. I wake up because I hear him barking.

I gotta say, sobbing because I dream of Buddy, only to wake and realize my beloved dog is gone, is a great way to start a dreary December day. Just peachy.

Buddy pawprint 1

I don’t know if other folks do this, but on bad days, I fight back by wearing my favourite clothes and jewelry. Like armor, right? Gifted armor that shelters me from invisibility, from loneliness, from all the Goblins of Winter. My shield, knit or sewn or woven or gifted, proclaiming I Am Loved. Every day, I don at least one thing that someone who loves me made for me, or gave me, or long-term loaned me. Lately, it’s been a pair of adorable silver owl earrings that my BFF gave me.


Left owl is grumpy because I dared show her sister’s backside. What can I say? It’s a nice backside.

Those earrings remind me that she loves me, and that no matter what lies Depression hisses in my ear, I am still, and always will be, Myself, a Wiseheart.

Good friends remind us of who we are. Their respect and love gives us the courage to be more ourselves with each passing day. It’s hard to be My Self: I am loud, friendly, outgoing, and will chatter with strangers in the oddest situations. I am also moody and I think too much. I dress like a Berkeley hippie artist, I carry stuffed toys in my purse, there is usually a melted chocolate in one of my pockets. I steal a baby’s nose, kiss it, and then gently press the freshly-kissed nose back into place, giving it a wee nudge to make sure it is on straight. I compliment strangers, I hug trees in public, I greet every living thing within sight while other folks watch and roll their eyes. I weave, I knit, I quilt. I spin yarn. Heck, I even spin embroidery thread.


A quirky, laughing weirdo being herself. That’s me.

I am weak, because Chronic Pain/Illness (::ominous background music::). I am strong, because, well: Chronic Pain/Illness is not for wusses. I am lonely and spend way too much time alone; I have friends, close friends, good friends, literally all over the world, and I can talk to them every day on my computer. My soul sings when I write; I seem to have the worst case of writer’s block for about half the year. I become more real every time I lift my voice in song; I am terrified to sing for others because I once did it for a living and people paid to hear me sing, and now I sometimes have the idea that they were all just being polite. (They weren’t. I know that.)

Small Gifts MED.jpg

These are gifts from friends the world over. Well. The wooden spools contain that handspun embroidery thread I talked about earlier. Perhaps those are gifts to myself: Competence. Confidence. Bit o’ Pride.

I finally got my dream job working for a publisher of yarnly books and magazines, and I walked away from it when I was insanely successful because I was not strong enough to fight the evil that is Upsell and SEO and Marketing. (Yes, money is lovely, and yes, we were there to make money. However, I personally cannot make money by using my god-given gifts to prioritize ads above content, to persuade my own community to spend money they may not have on things they may not need, and to treat them like six-year-olds in the process.)

wow. um. a rant. how did that get in here?

Ahem. Back to Friends and Handmade Gifts.

Last year, a whack of knitters decided that they each would knit me a pair of socks to help me get through the winter. I got green socks and pink socks and plum-coloured socks and striped socks and blue socks; I cried every time a new pair arrived in the post. These socks have become quite precious to me, and they are treated as though they are the best part of my wardrobe (which, in fact, they may be).

A few mornings ago, a bad day was made even worse by the necessity of issuing a First Warning letter to the Sock Gremlins.

Dear Eaters of Socks,

I see that you have been busy this year. I appreciate your help in goading me to discard some socks which were becoming quite ragged; thank you for filching half of those pairs so I had no choice but to toss the remaining singles.

I will say that you Sock Gremlins perform a much-needed service to our community. As mentioned above, you help us to let go of unworthy socks when the time comes. You nudge us to clean behind the dresser, to look under the bed, to run a broom handle under the dryer. This cleaning is both essential for tidiness and for the continued happiness of our feline children, who dance with joy when reunited with long-lost toys. Sometimes, we knitters even find such treasures as an actual tape measure. We thank you for your role in the smooth running of our households.

We also applaud you for helping to start new fashion trends: wearing mis-matched socks in public. This habit is now seen as “cool” and has been adopted by children who are thrilled not to have to bother matching things. Also, by some grownups who like to be a tiny bit irreverent.


This time, you have gone too far, Sock Eaters. This time, I will put locks on my sock drawers (one for handknits, as you well know, the other for the mundanes) so that you will find no sustenance in this house.

For here is the evil you have done: you have stolen a piece of my heart. You have DARED to touch a sock that was hand-knit by someone who cares about me, and as I have not been able to find that sock for two months, I can only assume that you sauteéd it with Gold Bond Foot Powder and a teaspoonful of Tinactin Anti-Fungal Creme, and served it hot at one of your Winter Sock Harvest Banquets.


Alas, pretty sock. I am sorry for your loss. Here’s a purple kitty to console you.

You…you…you monsters, you. How could you do such a thing?

If you return this sock to me, I will consider unlocking one of the sock drawers. ONE.

The mundane sock drawer, of course.

No love from me,


Did I mention I think too much?


~ If you love birds and Legos, this is your man: Article. Flickr Gallery.

~ Do you know where your pet is? The satellites do.

~ A recipe to cheer us through the blizzards of life: Dark Honey Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream, oh my. (I doubt this one is gluten-free, low-cholesterol, low anything. Food Pr0n!)

~ Press Upload to Shoe. (Might as well track the humans, too.)

~ Speaking of Her Majesty (we were, weren’t we?): Off-Roadin’ It with LizBet

~ And finally, I leave you with this: Archival Integrity

Writing takes courage. I am trying not to be too much of a chicken these days.


Posted in Animals, Family, Goblins of Winter, True Friends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Report from the Milk Maids

Eighth Night

Hi. Howya doin’? I thought about you folks quite a bit over the holidays. I hope you felt the holiday warmth that I was beaming into your brains courtesy of the Psychic Bloggers Network.

I had meant to send this post last night. Obviously, the scheduling software disagreed, which is why I had to go back and edit things a little. Always the unexpected around here.  Also: This is a weird post. You’re welcome.

XRF_12daysBecause I am curious about AllTheThings, I looked up the 12 days of Christmas. There are two different ways to figure out which night is Twelfth. If you count Christmas Day, the 25th, as Day One, then 12th night falls on Jan 5th, with the 6th being celebrated more or less tongue-in-cheek as a “thank heavens we’re DONE”. If you count Boxing Day, the 26th, as Day One, then the 6th is indeed 12th Night and the balance of the universe is more or less restored. (For all sorts of fascinating factoids about The Twelve Days of Christmas, WikiP is quite amusing and informative, if not even a bit vaguely truthful.)

Thus by my count today, yesterday was January First, the Seventh Night of Christmas. The famous gift exchanged on Day Seven (amongst the literal) is…Seven Swans a-Swimming??

Really. Well now. Anyone have a good-sized decorative pond?

Thankfully, by the magic of my editorial keyboard, we can leave behind the Seven Swans (in the good hands of a swan sanctuary), and our Eighth Night gift suggestion is: 8 Maids a-Milkin’.


copyright 2013 Becca Brody

A-milkin’ what, may I ask? Because I don’t see any cows (nor goats)  in that gift list, no sir, I do not. Partridge installed in Pear Tree, couple of turtle doves, some French hens trying to peck the feet off the doves, some calling birds (who are they calling? and is the call on my long-distance or yours?), FIVE GOLDEN RINGS, which by law and tradition must always be shouted and/or typed in all-caps, to the annoyance of everyone with an internet connection. Then we have some geese laying eggs, and those seven swans in search of a pond.

No cows. No goats. No nuthin’ that could reasonably be milked by those industrious young women. Well. Unless they brought their own cows. I guess that could happen.


copyright Rebekah Simon-Peter


Just to clear up a few more mystifying calendar details: Technically, it is the season of Christmastide until after the visit of the Three Wise Dudes on Epiphany. Epiphany, the infamous Twelfth Night, falls on Wed., Jan. 6, 2016 this year. Many churches celebrate on the nearest Sunday, which in this case is Jan. 3.

I was born part-elf, which means in MY household, we persevere in Christmas cheer until the bitter end at 12 AM. Jan. 6.



A Shiny New Year

Yesterday, Today, of course, was New Year’s Day, January 1, 2016. Peace be upon you and yours this new year, and may beauty walk beside you as you navigate the days to come.


Ahhhh….smell that new year smell.           That’s the smell of Hope.

I shall sum up the end of my 2015 with three things, and then I shall move on to more amusing topics.

  • Pain sucks. Chronic Pain over Yuletide makes Santa’s Elves feel a titch past whiney, and let me tell you, there is nothing worse than a two-foot-tall whiney dude with pointed ears and those damn ring-a-dings on both feet and the tippy-top of his hat.

“No, my nose is NOT shaped like a heart. And my union says I am in no way obligated to sing any ridiculous tune about The Big Guy and his belly and the  especially not about the reindeer, cuz they’s union members, too. Ya hear what I’m saying? The Jolly Dude works hard for you, squeezing down those non-regulation chimney stacks.
Have some respect, would ya?”

  • Seasonal mood disorders of any kind wipe all the lyrics to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” right out of the entire soprano section’s brains. But, yanno, who needs a melody line anyway? Let the congregation muddle along, they all know the words to Hark, Hear Harold the Angel Singing, right? I knew the words to THAT song, backwards and forwards, by age five or so (Harold was so proud of me, spelling his name right and all.) Listen to Harold. You’ll be just fine.
  • Thank the Lightbringer that we are blessed and comforted with hearts of kindness all around us, and that the Christmas Tree Recovery Room is currently filled with Grinches getting foot massages.

Oh, and the Christmas Cookies! Never underestimate the power of Christmas Cookies to sooth an anky, cranky heart this time of year.Cookies Rule this Yule.

Boast Local

It helps that I have discovered a priceless local resource for the Cookies:


One of Canada’s best places to go (especially if you ascribe to the belief that She Who Has The Bestest Cookies Wins) is exactly 1.0 km (a 12 minute walk) from my front door. Wicked Shortbread. Oooh, baby. These delightful folks bake all their goodies onsite, in a variety of ever-more addictive variants. Aside from the three house blends (Classic, made with rice flour because Goodness; Toffee Bitz–my personal fave; and Belgian Chocolate Chunk, my personal fave again), yet more flavours make guest appearances at the whim of the BFreshBaked-300x300aker.

And now, I realize that I am being completely and utterly cruel, because although one may order these delights online, one may only do so if one has a delivery address in the province of Ontario. (Party platters available starting at CA$25, just sayin’.)  Please console yourself with delicious online cookie pr0n: Wicked Shortbread.

Usual disclaimer: I don’t work there. Those Wicked folks, they have no idea who I am. They have no idea I am posting this, and given the ramble-scramble here, it doesn’t really do them honour to introduce them this way.



My doctor, is quite firm on the dosage of 1 oz dark chocolate a day for women. And the Chocolate Chunk Shortbread is indeed quite soothing, I admit.


Do you have something special near your house? A place to eat, a place to see, a Really Rockin’ Tree? I’m a curious sort, so let’s hear about those marvelous things we may never get to see in person.


Also…what’s in store for you in the days ahead? I’m interested to see what y’all are up to in 2016.


What? You want Chispas? I gave you Cookie Pr0n AND Kitten Pr0n, and now you want CHISPAS?

Next time. Promise.

And next time will not be so long in coming, my friends. I’ve missed you.

May the New Year bring you your best future yet.


Posted in Knitting | 4 Comments