Leather hard

My favourite kind of mug is one that has reached the leather hard stage. It’s the best ceramic state. A pot that was once soft and delicate has become firm and cool to the touch. Delicate curves hold their own.  Handles defy gravity.

Slicing into leather hard clay is like slicing through a piece of milk chocolate or semi-hard cheese. It’s a wonderfully satisfying experience.

I’m always a little embarrassed to say “leather hard” to a non-ceramicist though. I worry they might picture something a little more saucy than I had intended.

Leather hard: A boy’s club for dudes who prefer to wear chaps and chains.

Leather hard: Thursdays is free ball gag night!

It seems hobbies have a way of generating their own insular vocabulary that sounds totally fine to those participating – and totally wacky to anyone else.

I love to knit twisted rib in fingering yarn. Both painful and dirty sounding!

And I can’t say I’ve ever managed to explain what a clitic is to a non-linguist without a “wait…. what?!”. (Ironically, your first impression will help you remember this particular linguistic object. You see, a clitic may be a small addition -phonologically speaking- but it’s still incredibly important.)

I imagine astrophysicists must feel similarly when mentioning the seventh planet to an unenlightened public.


  • Pattern: Even Flow
  • Size: 38/40, but with a tighter gauge of 10.5 sts per 2 inches: gauge on 5mm was way too loose
  • Yarn: Wool of the Andes sport, colour: bramble heather, lot: 75889
  • Needles: 4mm
  • Notes: Joji Locatelli’s patterns are always clear, well written and enjoyable. The collar ribbing does roll back, but I don’t think it’s meant to stay perfectly flat anyhow: I tacked it back at the bottom to make it seem more intentional. I wish there were some sort of finishing done on the hem of the stockinette collar though.
  • Modifications: I added longer sleeves and did a twisted rib + applied I-cord bind off on the cuff.  I say I-cords for all long sleeves from now on! Should have done twisted rib for the hem as well, it’s a little messy as it is.

Ooh! Boning channel… just thought of that one.

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Emperor; New clothes

baby-cardi-detail

When I become emperor, my first order of business will be the total overhaul of television news.

Extraneous personal commentary on the temperature and weather will be outlawed. Data will be read and weather pattern charts will be shown without editorialization, without perky comments and without judgement. Smiling during weather reports will be eliminated.

Precipitation will be referred to as a “storm” only when it is, in fact, storm like.

henrys-baby-cardi-full

Additionally, tracking shots of reporters strolling down streets or through the newsroom will be banned. Ian Hanomansing will no longer be allowed to wander aimlessly through rows of cubicles, searching for, but never quite reaching any destination in particular. He will be forcibly tethered to a chair in front of a nondescript background. He will not be allowed access to any kind of interactive “magical” board either.

Reporters will be tasked with listening to their own words as they say them rather than filling in “news like” cadences with “newsy” words.

If there is nothing to be said, no one will say anything. In fact, each 24 hour news channel will be subject to a 20% total silence quota for each day.

baby-cardi-back-detail

When I become emperor, I will additionally outlaw any perfume or scented lotion that can be smelled at a distance greater that 30 cm from the body. Coconut or fruit inspired perfumes will be destroyed. Any such fragrance worn on public transportation, particularly during the morning hours, will be viewed as the intentional and flagrant skirting of the law and will be punished accordingly.

Also, peeing on a public toilet seat will be a capital offense.

When I become emperor, this country will be a better place for the little man who fits in this sweater. He just doesn’t know it yet. He’ll thank me later, I’m sure.


  • Pattern: Henry’s Sweater. (Made for a baby named Henry!!)
  • Size: Larger size, 6-12 months, but my gauge was tight so it came out closer to the 3-6 month size
  • Yarn: 100% Wool: Patons Classic Wool Worsted, Colour 224 Grey Mix, lot 244077?
  • Needles: 4mm, with some use of 3.75mm on purl rows to try to combat my rowing out.
  • Notes: Not a terrible pattern (it’s free after all), but really not the best. No final measurements are given which is a bit frustrating: babies are a strange and mysterious shape. The buttonholes have you cast off then cast back on: I “yo and k2tog”-ed instead. I added a garter border to the front flaps as well: the pattern doesn’t have you do anything to the edge to prevent rolling.

baby-cardi-ruler-for-scale

I was feeling a bit self-conscious about my loose purl rows while I knit this. The slightly smaller needles helped, but didn’t totally eliminate the problem and all I could see were stubborn stripes every place I had knitted flat.

As I finished up the little cardigan, I happened to be lent a copy of Yarn-i-tec-ture: A knitter’s guide to spinning: building exactly the yarn you want. A serendipitous gift because… what do pages 122-123 contain? Pictures of sample after sample of obviously loose purl rows in stockinette! Loose purl rows in a glossy hardcover! Photographed and printed like it was totally normal and cool!

I felt better.

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Rhinebeck, USA

rhinebeck-backlit-sheep

I made my second pilgrimage to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool festival this year thanks to an intrepid, non-knitting friend/chauffeur. I navigated while she drove (and sang and searched for radio stations and only once attempted to merge onto a highway going the wrong direction).

We made it in one piece.

The air was crisp, the sky clear, the barns packed with people fawning over yarns and rugs and adorable sheep and camelids.

These were my kind of people. Fibre-y people. Dressed in their best Rhinebeck sweaters and shawls (hurriedly blocked the day before, I’m sure). They were eager to talk crimp and grist and skirting and twist and all those words that are so deliciously opaque to the rest of the world. They knew the fibre lover’s secret handshake.

They even had a llama jumping competition, for heaven’s sake!

rhinebeck-brown-sheep

There were a few whiffs of strangeness (foreignness) though: A couple “colours” spelled without the “u”. How gauche. Funny looking monochromatic banknotes. How confusing! A Trump bumper sticker on the back of an SUV, driven by a seemingly sane looking young woman.

A larger homemade Trump sign mounted to the side of a barn and illuminated by several small spotlights.

A small, worn sticker on the back of a bathroom stall door. In large block letters, in the centre of the sticker, were the instructions: “Stop. Don’t touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult.”

When I flushed and was able to get a closer look, I saw a small image of a smiling cartoon eagle at the top of the sticker, next to the words: “Harry the eagle says, if you see a gun…”

It was all so Almost familiar. They were all so Almost Canadian.

Just Trump-ier. And armed.

rhinebeck-two-sheep


Purchases made at the fleece sale:

  • 1 Shetland fleece from a sheep named Xena
  • 1 Alpaca fleece from Lil Darling (who’s apparently expecting her first cria soon, mazel tov.)

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