Back on the road

Posted by Sylvia Olsen on

Not really. I’m not going on another knitting tour. Not yet. I have to write about our 2015 cross Canada excursion before Tex and I head to England or Iceland or wherever yarn and knitting and history pull me. But it’s not only the writing that’s holding us up, I have designs at all stages of completion waiting in line to win a spot in a new book. I’m still uncertain which ones will make the final cut of six or seven. There are a couple of shoe-ins. I wasn’t finished with the cowl/infinity scarf with repetitive bands of design that I had in the first book. This time it’s just once around and I love not having to wrap it. Thanks to Penny Skalsvik for test knitting.

This cowl is a brief introduction to the earth-shaking addition to my designs. Colour. I’ve tried a full colour palette but for now I’m enjoying a touch of colour to complement the natural tones I love so much.

I am also not finished with the skirt pattern. I’ve been wearing the one above all winter and it has to make it into the book. (I love the fringe but I’ll make sure you can skip it.) I’m pretty sure Joni’s Vest will get in there…with Tex’s vest to go with it…a large male version of the same thing. The other patterns on my design table haven’t proven themselves yet. My slouchy hat hasn’t found the right yarn, my ¾ length sweater is still working on its neckline, my mittens are not inspiring me yet and although Ella’s hoodie is the cutest pattern I’ve made, I might wait to publish it until I do a whole children’s collection. 

Back to the writing. First my knitting travel book had to wait until I finished my dissertation (the worst sort of writing task you can imagine). After that it had to wait until I recovered from my dissertation. (I had a brutal case of thinker’s block where I pleaded with the universe to allow me to avoid thinking for the rest of my life).

Last fall I finally got serious and I had a great time writing about driving through BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. When I hit the Ontario border the task became too big to tackle. We had driven too many miles, seen too many amazing places and met too many incredible people in that province. I decided to give myself a break and jumped over central Canada to write about the red soil of Prince Edward Island and the amazing elderly women we met in Newfoundland.

Before I finished the east cost I was interrupted again by Adam’s (my eldest child) election. He ran for provincial government four years ago. I never thought he had a chance. But he changed the whole dynamic in our riding and lost by only 379 votes.

Thanks to Douglas Lafortune for the wonderful drawing he made for Adam and I

I decided that this time to give him all the help I could. It started for me with the Green Knitters, as you all know, and ended with knocking on doors everyday (what a mother won’t do when she believes in her son.) He won!!!

And then we renovated....


So now I’m back on the road ( a wedding will interrupt slightly--photos of a knitted wedding dress coming). I’m still not ready to write about Ontario because I am having a great time thinking about the stories that we heard from almost 800 knitters across the country. It’s these stories that were the reason we went on the tour and they are the reason I am writing about the journey. They are a bit like my patterns. Some are shoe-ins like this one:

During the war I was a young teenager and we were knitting squares for blankets that they sent overseas. It was our bit for the boys. I hated to think about why they needed them so badly. But we were given needles and yarn and told to knit 35 stitches. I can’t remember how many rows. I used to sit on the street curb next to a German friend of mine. I would say one two three start and we would race to see who could knit the square fastest. She won every time. She knit continental and I knit the British way. I don’t think you can ever beat continental knitters for speed. 

Some are still undeveloped, others don’t know where they fit in, some are too small on their own but will find their colour when matched with other stories. But unlike my mittens, they all inspire me, they all help me understand myself, my country and my obsession with knitting, stories and writing.






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