New Ink!

Compass rose tattoo, by Sam McWilliams, Vancouver, BC.

If you read my Friday newsletter, you know my college roommates are visiting for a few days. It’s only the second time in fifteen years that we’ve been in the same place together.

And as you do when you’ve been friends for over twenty years, we got to chatting before the visit about getting matching tattoos. Diamonds, which last forever just like our friendship. Aw. And also, the ridiculous thing that inspired this trip is… a Neil Diamond concert.

The thing is, our styles are really different. I, especially, struggled with the idea of a diamond. I’m not so big with the shiny sparkly things, and also the ethics of diamonds are just deeply problematic. But I love these women, and our friendship is forever.

Somehow, I got to thinking about compass roses, and whether I could really stretch the diamond concept into the four points of the compass. I didn’t even realize at the time that I put a compass rose into the branding of my business a few months ago. There’s something about this symbol that’s stuck in my head these days. Something about adventuring, getting lost and found again, staying grounded while taking risks.

Leave it to the amazing Sam McWilliams to put a diamond perfectly in the centre of a compass rose tattoo. One look at her sketch and I was like yes. This is the one.

In my love of traveling, in my love for friends near and far, I know where I am and who I am and which direction is my personal north. This design on my arm forever, with the diamond at its centre that matches the diamonds my beloved friends have inked on themselves, is simply perfect.

What I’m Making: A Sock

Knitting a sock in worsted weight yarn.

I’ve written in my newsletter and Patreon about giving sock knitting a for-real try (I’ve knitted a sock or two over the years – but never a pair), and I gotta say, I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it.

Maybe it’s that in “giving it a for-real try” I’m thinking more about ending up with a finished pair of socks instead of just thinking about the mechanics of knitting a sock (which I think is what I did the last couple of times I gave sock-knitting a try). Socks are odd ducks, after all, with their heels to turn and toes to graft; it can be easy to focus on accomplishing those feats… and then not wanting to do them again for a second sock.

Of course, I say all this with only one sock nearing completion. And a small one at that (it’s for my kid). But this one does feel different. I’m eager to finish it in part because I’m so excited to cast on for its match.

I’m glad I chose to make these (see that use of the plural, there?) in a heavier weight of yarn, but I’m also looking forward to finishing these up and making myself a pair in fingering weight. I have loads of sock yarn in my stash. Time to use it… for socks!

If I do become a Sock Knitter, I anticipate I’ll be just like I am with other kinds of knitting: preferring simple, mindless patterns. Not so much with lace or cabled socks for me. Do you have a favourite simple sock pattern you recommend?

What I’m Making: A Knitted Hat in Handspun Yarn

Hat knitted from handspun yarn!

This is the second project I made from this batch of handspun – the first handspun I’ve ever felt was ready to actually be made into something. (The other hat is the same, but smaller to fit my six-year-old.)


It’s a basic 80-stitch hat with a ribbed brim, and I used 4.5mm and 5.0mm needles to make it.

I’ll take it on our camping trip next month, so no need to wait till it gets cold this fall to wear it!

What’s your favourite thing to make with handspun yarn?

Harry Potter and Me, 18 Years Later

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneI was introduced to Harry Potter on my twenty-third birthday. I was working as a counselor with the teen travel camp at the JCC in Wilmington, Delaware when, during the second week of camp, one of my co-counselors, whom I hardly new, handed me a hardcover copy of The Goblet of Fire.

Um. Thanks?

The book was massive. And it was the fourth book in a series I’d never heard of. Also, why was someone I barely knew giving me a birthday present?

But I was totally polite. I thanked her warmly.

And then I went to a bookstore to find the first book, because obviously if I was going to read this thing it was going to be in order.

And that was that. I didn’t love the first book, but I was thoroughly enamoured of the excitement around the books (which I finally noticed now that I was in the know).

I found J.K. Rowling’s prose to be a little rough around the edges, but man did I love Hermione. And Hagrid. And hippogryphs (were they in Book One? No matter.).

The day Greg and I got married for the first time (in our living room, four months before our bigger wedding), his grandfather took the lot of us – over a dozen extended family members – to see the first Harry Potter film. It was opening weekend. Some people slept through it. Greg and I loved it. We made an annual tradition to see the new Harry Potter movie each fall on that date, until they shifted to releasing new installations in the summertime. So then we’d go around my birthday instead.

As the series progressed, I began to appreciate it more and more. Always a fan of not pulling punches, especially in children’s literature, I loved that the books got darker and darker, more intense and scary. I liked that the tales became more nuanced and complex. And how Rowling’s prose seemed to improve with each book, keeping up with the increasing sophistication of her characters as they grew up.

The new illustrated version of The Philosopher’s Stone came out the fall before my son turned five, and I bought a copy the moment I discovered it. I kept it wrapped on a high shelf until his fifth birthday, and on that night we started reading it together.

During that reading, I discovered I’d been too harsh when I was twenty-three. Reading the book aloud to my awed child, I saw how inevitable it was that this tale became a classic. Watching my son’s face as he discovered along with Harry that wizardry is real… Well. This book is damn near perfect. (We read the second illustrated version around his sixth birthday, and will read the third after it comes out around his seventh.)

Today, on the twentieth anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter book, I’ve been smiling all day. How wonderful that books bring these spectacular stories into people’s lives all over the world. That they give children and adults alike something to dream and think about, to pretend and imagine.


When did you first discover Harry Potter? What do you think about it, all these years later?