Thursday, February 27, 2003

More Snow..?

We're so sad today because Fred Rogers has passed on. I worked on an episode of his show way back in 1989 - I painted some shoes for Tommy Tune who appeared on the show as a giant. I was a student at Carnegie Mellon (THAT lasted about a semester) at the time. What a sweet guy. He made all who loved him better neighbors.

We're supposed to get more snow later today - I should be really bummed and sick of it, but deep inside I love it. Even if I can't breathe, it's so beautiful!

Finishing up the yoked sweater - once again I have to rave about how much I love this yarn. Yum! Anyone who thinks they hate wearing wool should check Merino Soft out!
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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Another Inspiring Class

We don't drink at our classes, but if someone were passing by last night they would have thought we were all a little tipsy. What a fun class! I'm amazed and so impressed by the work of my students - even the ones who aren't making a ton of progress on their class projects have picked up something else and are going to town on that! A couple of our students are STILL waiting for yarn to arrive (they ordered it) and that's a bummer. But they're more established knitters and have other projects they've continuing with until their yarn arrives.

This morning my little boychik climbed into bed with his blankie, Blue (from Blue's Clues) and a tiny beanie baby Siamese cat he's named Pat. Pat, Blue & Blankie. He whispered as he snuggled in between his father and me, "Mom, I brought three customers..." The mind reels.

I'm looking into placing display ads in some local papers today to get some new private classes going. I have one on Sunday that is going so well, and a new one is starting Wednesday (next week) made up of 4 local folks. I like this small, intimate teaching in someone's home - it's good. I'd like to do more of it!

Speaking of which - if anyone is interested in having my Combined Knitting Class (or any of the odd little classes I teach) offered at a Knitters Magazine Stitches event, please email Jen Johnson at XRX and let her know. A few months ago I sent in some proposals for teaching classes, but in a very kind email Jen explained they aren't interested in using me right now because -
...We have no doubt in your talents as a designer . . . but I must admit that the primary reason for delaying the use of your classes in our schedule was due to lack of prime time teaching experience. With such high expectations from students, we are simply very wary about bringing a new face to the field without a bit of backing from other major venues. It's not to say that we will not use you for future events, just that we are careful of the number of new teachers we introduce at each venue.

I'd love for Stitches to take a chance on someone who hasn't taught at a major venue yet If you agree, tell Jen!
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Tuesday, February 25, 2003


I think.

When you have kids, you just seem to be sick all the time (well, someone in the household tends to be ill at any given time in the winter!) And this has been a VERY cooped-up winter - lots of inside interaction with friends, inside playdates - not a lot of outside playing (just too darned cold!)

This means lots of colds are shared. We were lucky and missed two of the big cold and flu 'rounds at Hannah's school, but it looks like Bronchitis may have hit our own home now. Not the kids - me. I'm barely breathing, coughing - these things tend to hit asthmatics harder. So far I hadn't had my yearly Bronchitis (it seems to come once a year) but it looks like it's here now! My whole immune system seems whacked out since the surgery.

But - a cold never stopped knitting! This evening I have my knitting class (the first time in 2 weeks) so I'm going to devote myself to getting back up to speed today with tea, fruit, vitamin C and Echina... (however you spell it...) I'm terribly anxious to see how my students are doing on their projects! I don't feel terrible, just generally lethargic and have a great deal of difficulty with the coughing, etc.

Good heavens, I sound like my grandmother! BASTA!!

Oh, BTW, here's the obligatory photo of my cat (who sleeps on my printer on a blanket I did for American Baby several years ago. Maybe I should offer it to "Cat Fancy" as a project for cat-owning knitters?

Butkis is his name - after Dick Butkis
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Monday, February 24, 2003

Can ANYONE help me figure out these darned archives?? They're making me MENTAL!

I have so much work in front of me - and a cold is coming on (hot tea! echinacia!) The IK sweater is coming along well, I love the Muench Merino Soft so much! What fun it is to knit - that yarn has a better memory that I do! (well, the yarn didn't have a radical hysterectomy last year...)

After reworking the back three times I whipped through the front in record time and now I'm on the sleeves. It's not really as fas as it sounds, it's a yoked sweater so after I "finish" the sleeves then I have the larger task of marrying decreases with cables - Math, what fun! (I'm such a Virgo)

I'll be putting some new patterns for sale up soon, I'll have another one in the freebie box if everything goes well so stay tuned!!

I just ran across this AMAZING knitted polymer clay while browsing Lynn's ColorJoy blog.
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Saturday, February 22, 2003

Open House? Too Wet!

Today was the open house at the Newark Museum for the arts classes they'll be offering this Spring. As I'm going to be teaching the knitting class (that is, if they get enough students!) I was there to work my knittin' magic and convince folks to come and learn the fine two needle craft of manipulating yarn.

Not a lot of folks passed through, but those who did were interested and interesting - a good combination!

I ripped out about 8" of a sweater I'm doing for IK because - working on circs - the gauge was getting too loose and it was making me crazy. Now I'm on straights a size down (I'll knit the front and back separately) and, of course, now I'm concerned that it's too tight. Jeeze.
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Thursday, February 20, 2003

Tired - disheartened...

It's always a bummer to get a box of designs back from a yarn co - not one design taken. Especially when the design editor had emailed me with incredibly glowing comments about the designs two days after I sent them in... Oh, well - design by committee- what are you going to do?

As I've said before, whether my stuff is accepted or whether it's passed over is NOT an indication of how good it is. It's all a matter of how stuff fits into the design scheme.

Some of my best stuff lays here (lies here?) unwanted - unloved except by me. Some of my most mediocre (moi? mediocre?) gets snapped up in the first round - I won't tell you which pieces those are. Go figure.

Sad as it makes me, it also steeles my resolve to independently publish and market my own stuff. I can't be the ONLY one who likes my design sense - n'est ce pas?

Oh - my family has applied for this. Here's the photo I sent in (that's me standing under my scultpure this past summer) They'll never take us. Not photogenic enough (me) and I fear the kids are too young...

Wish us luck!
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And now a break from our previously scheduled commerical...

Oy - I was looking over the last few entries and I apologize for the commercial tone they've taken! I'm so excited by the ease of the shopping cart, etc., new products that I carry that into parts of my life that I should try to keep a little less - well - commercial. What's terribly exciting to me may not translate into anything other than a static pop-up ad for many of you!

I FINALLY received some Muench yarn yesterday for a new editorial project. I'm working with Merino Soft in 2 colors and it is so great to play with! I remember in the 80's when I first used Baruffa Maratona and thought I'd died and gone to heaven - the spring, the resiliency, the softness - reasons to adore merino! My doggie's fur feels like Merino at times - he gets petted a LOT.

Last night was a very nice Knitting Meetup. I took my daughter with me - she's off from school this week and - as a new knitter - I thought she'd enjoy it! She is good for about 30 minutes of knitting, then she wavers and flags. I keep forgetting how much immediate positive reinforcement she need - and that it's up to me to supply it - I need to be better at that. I was so tired last night - this exhaustion just goes on and on and on - I'm hoping that when the Spring comes the warmer weather and extra daylight will help me deal with the tiredness.

Today I'm perhaps starting a new knitting class/venture - it's in association wth an organization in Newark and they want to hire me for a few hours a week to come in and sort of coordinate a knitting project between grandparents and kids. I'm curious to see exactly what they do.

I've been 'adopted' by a new knitting class on Sundays - this is how it feels to me, and it's very nice. Four good friends wanted to take a knitting class and it went so well I think we're going to make it an ongoing event. I should have pre-cast on and worked a few rows for them before class, but I didn't (laziness) so we had to cover the Cast On and the dreaded first row of knitting after the cast on... in our class. They did remarkably well!

My main goal - as it is with all of my classes - is not so much to teach them now to KNIT, but how to tell what's going on WHEN they knit so they can self-diagnose and figure much of the stuff out themselves in their own way.

I'd like to teach them to be courageous knitters.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

BRACE Yourself!

They're Uuuuuu-uuuuup!

Copper, Gold or Silver Wire Bracelets
with Semi Precious Stones

Hand made, with hand-worked findings (closures) that are almost more interesting than the bracelets! Available in 3 sizes!
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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Shopping Cart!!!

I've added a shopping cart to my site (isn't this just the most exciting thing?) and later tonight I'll be adding some pretty cool copper & semi-precious stone bracelets. Isn't life grand?
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Monday, February 17, 2003

Black Dog/White Snow

My poor Standard Poodle, Atticus, was dazed and confused by the white stuff this morning. Here in Central NJ (actually, 18 miles west of Midtown Manhattan and right outside of Newark) we have a tendancy to get hit hard. I don't know why, but usually when there's snow around us we get a TON of the white stuff.

Today is no different.

Bear in mind the dog is HUGE - he's a standard - yikes!

Here's Atticus in the SNOW
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Saturday, February 15, 2003

Limited Time Offer..!

As I mentioned on Friday, I've decided to start offering patterns online for sale - well, patterns other than the millinery and furniture which, cool as it is, has a very limited audience. I'd like to offer stuff that is more accessible. Also, to be quite honest, I design so much great stuff that I love and NEVER see published. So I figured, "Why not publish it myself?"

It seems like a no-brainer, but it's intruiging to me how circuitous the route my mind takes from point A to point B. At any rate, I'd like to offer free patterns every now and then, but so much work goes into each new pattern that I can't do it for an extended period. I'll also be offering kits for sweaters and non-wired hats - this means a bit of an investment ($) on my part, but I feel it's the right thing to do right now.

However, for the next 5 (count 'em) F I V E days I'll be offering my Rasta Hat pattern (a $3.50 value) for bupkis - the downloadable version only. This will give you guys a chance to see my patterns, get a feel for how I write them, and will give me a chance to get some feedback from some of the chattiest and best knitters I know (bloggers!)

So - click on the Rasta Hat to download the pattern!

The Rasta Hat - in SEVEN sizes
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Friday, February 14, 2003

Happy VD!

Here's one of my own little Valentines - teaching her good friend Jaiden to knit! I love my Hannah-banana, and I love my little Maxie-boy - and my dear Gerry, too! Woo hoo!

And one more thing...

I've FINALLY posted some sweater patterns & kits for sale on my site - check them out! Being a one woman operation (at this point) I'm putting them up one item at a time. I'll be offering Louet/Euroflax Linen for my first sweater kits, and if you order the kit you'll get the yarn at a bit less than retail.
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Thursday, February 13, 2003

Class Information

I've received SO many emails requesting info on upcoming classes - here's the next one I'm offering. It will be at the Newark Museum and will be a Beginning Class, but with tips and tricks for knitters who are already established to a certain degree and want to brush up on their knitting or want to learn a new method (combined).


Thursdays - 9 weeks
March 6 2003 - May 11, 2003 -10:00 AM
Begining Knitting Class (Plus)

For information on registering, please contact The Newark Museum

Also, if the Baird Center gets a good response from my current class they'll offer it again this Summer or Next Fall, so if you like the class, let them know!
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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Amazing Class #6!

We have 4 classes to go and my class is well on their way on their great projects!

I'm astounded by one student - she bought her yarn on Friday for a swing coat and walked in last night with a good 8" of major knitting done! Not bad for a beginning student!

Another student has broken out and completed an adorable little lace diamond (lace! - her first time!) which is the end of a long lace scarf she's making -

Last night we turned the heel on yet another beginning students' fuzzy foot - she's doing SO well - and it was great for the class to see someone actually turning a heel.

Another lesson in gauge last night - and something I've said for years - you can struggle with a gauge swatch, but sometimes it all goes out the window when you start working on the actual garment! One of my students was getting a 4sts/inch gauge on size FOUR needles last week - this week when she started on her piece her gauge was more like 5 sts/inch - so we moved up a needle size - live and learn!

Still waiting for yarn to arrive for a few of my other students - cannot WAIT to dive in on their projects! I'm meeting privately with a few students who couldn't make it to class last night, and next week we have off for Winter Break so I'll try to meet privately with everyone in the class at some point to shepherd their projects along.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

We was robbed!

I cannot BELIEVE that Far From Heaven was so passed over by the nominations! Dennis Quaid was unbelievable, Sandy Powell's costumes were incredible (especially that sweater), and the Art Direction by Mark Friedberg was stupendous! Plus it was just an all out great movie! I can't believe that Dennis Haysbert wasn't even considered for a Best Supporting! Egads! (I'll just sit here and steam...)


I was remiss not to mention that Far From Heaven HAD been nominated for 4 awards, these are:

Best Actress (Julianne Moore)
Music (Score)
Writing (Original Screenplay)

We was STILL robbed. Hollywood (and Broadway) are dismal in their recognition of the true brilliance to be found in the subtlety of good Costume Design. Bwahahahahah - Subtlety? Excuse me, I have to get up off the floor...
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Monday, February 10, 2003

Birthday Mania Season

Yesterday was Gerry's birthday afternoon open house / party - and it was GREAT! Honestly I didn't expect so many folks to show up, but as one guest said, "EVERYONE has cabin fever, it just feels so good to get out of the house!" - well, that - and it was great to wish Gerry a Happy Birthday!

I love our friends, they're so great! Funny, kind - just a bunch of wonderful people! The kids all ran amok (we had 12 of them at one point running from basement to upstairs bedrooms and back - I have yet to visit the basement to see the damage...) We are so fortunate to live in such a great community with neighbors and friends who are so terrific.

Before the party I got a bee in my bonnet about our dry looking floors, so I Liquid Gold'ed them and - thankfully - no one broke their necks slipping on them at the party. I have incredibly timing!
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Friday, February 07, 2003

We were called at 5:30 this morning to tell us that the schools are closed. God bless the person who got up to start the phone chain!

And of course, I do have a nice place to knit...

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Thursday, February 06, 2003


I rarely post pics of my current published items, but I am so darned (nay, damned!) proud of this piece and the sensational job IK did in styling, photographing it - and the exceptional generosity they showed in publishing such a LONG pattern (not really HARD, just lengthy...)

Raccoon Swing Jacket

I loved playing with the Sandesgarn Funny yarn - I've done a few things in it and I love the fact that it's WASHABLE and has such a nice weight when knit up. I worked this side to side in panels using short row shaping to create "pelts" (gussets that were wider at the bottom than the top) - this is what made it have the nice swing and shape. In between the pelts I did two rows of garter stitch to give it a nicer drape and make it hang better.

I couldn't wait to receive my tearsheets in the mail - I had to run out and buy this (I got the last issue - three other places I'd visited were sold out - it's such a terrific issue all over! The cover sweater {VIP Cardigan by Charlotte Morris} is AMAZING!) This will be a collectors issue, I'm certain.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Great Expectations

Am I expecting too much from my begining knitters class??
10 class members - 3 of whom knitted before, but took the class to learn the combination method and just generally to learn different techniques.

Of the 7 new knitters, several had knitted before, but felt they wanted an entry level class to build up their skillls.

Of the brand-spanking new knitters - well, ALL of them are doing amazing things so far.
  • They're knitting and purling
  • They've twisted stitches
  • They've made 2 and 4 stitch cables
  • They've done garter, stockinette and ribbing
  • They're on the way to understanding decreases and the way they slant

  • So, because the class is so good, I let them choose projects that are more challenging than a scarf - they are beyond scarves (not that scarves aren't great - but after the first 20 rows they can be pretty boring!)

    It's a long class - 10 sessions - and we have 5 sessions (6 weeks, we skip a week) to go. I want to take advantage of this luxury to guide my students through a first project that they can really treasure - that will be a mind opening experience!

    My philosophy is that when someone learns something, they're excited. This excitement fuels the learning curve so it zooms up faster than usual. In a great class with lots of energy, everyone's learning curve grows because no one is afraid of making a mistake in a fun and supportive atmosphere. I want to take advantage of the terrific learning curve by having my students reach a little farther than a simple scarf for their first projects. Here are a few of them:

    Three students are making sweaters from the winter VOGUE knitting - two are intermediate sweaters (one has cabling, one has waist and neck shaping) and the third is easy, but BIG - it's a huge swing coat, but a terrific design and something I really feel she can accomplish.

    One new knitter is making Fuzzyfeet from the current Knitty. It's true that heel shaping and working on double pointed needles can be a challenge, but this is a very thoughtful and methodical knitter - this is someone I really want to introduce to the concept of sock knitting! I think once she absorbs the process it will really enlarge her knitting imagination!

    Two of my other begining/intermediate students are making the felted bag Suki, also from Knitty. Aside from being a terrific exercise in knitting in the round, it will be very exciting to see the felting process!

    Two of my students are making sweaters that I'm designing for them - they're more advanced and want more of a challenge.

    Another student is making a vest from Interweave Knits. It was a terrific exercise in gauge - she got a yarn that seemed so much thinner than the pattern called for, but when she knit it up she got the same gauge. She will have the vest in the magazine, but with a lighter fabric that will work well in the Spring and Summer.

    Another more advanced knitter is making the beautiful long lace scarf from Interweave Knits - my goal is to have her realize how easy it is to 'memorize' a lace pattern when you're working it on a very narrow and very long scarf.

    The only fly in the ointment was when this class visited a local yarn shop to buy their yarn they all were advised by the shop owner that their projects were just way too advanced for a 'beginner' - one of the students came to class so dejected I thought she was going to cry! I know this shop owner, she's a great person - but not someone with the broadest knitting imagination.

    I know my students can meet my own expectations - and develop a few of their own!
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    Monday, February 03, 2003

    New site is up!

    Tell me what you think...
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    Back to the old Grind!

    Except we're out of coffee. Rats!

    We were shaken by the tragedy this weekend - and, oddly, numb in a certain way. It certainly feels different than the Challenger tragedy. Too much water under the bridge? I hope the astronauts didn't know what was happening - I hope it just happened.

    On a personal note, Saturday was also Max's 5th birthday party. The day of Hannah's 5th birthday was the day we went to war with Afghanistan. We have no more 5th birthdays coming up and the nation is relieved.

    I'm trying to develop a more business-like rhythm to my work routine. Instead of being on the computer at any and all hours, knitting deep into the night, etc., I'm going to try to keep myself to a morning/computer; afternoon/patterning, meetings & shopping; evenings/knitting schedule and see if it helps or hinders my productivity. This is only a test! I'm organized enough that even when I appear to be 'winging it' I've actually worked out a game plan that is invisible to the naked (non Virgo) eye.

    It occurs to me that as the kids get older it will become important that they're able to count on me being in a certain area / doing a certain thing at a specific time (or, maybe not...) Gerry has no definite schedule - he freelances (when he can get work - it's incredibly slim pickings here in the NYC area right now) so we never know from day to day whether he'll be home or not. And if he is working we never really know what his schedule will be.

    I'm also redesigning my web site to include patterns for sale - I'll start with a few items that have appeared on KnitNet and some other favorites. If it goes well I may put kits together. I'll be happy to hear your feedback as I move along into this grand adventure.

    I'm coming into a bunch of work over the next few weeks - well, two (maybe three) sweaters are definite, with others following up behind if I'm lucky.
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    Alison's Scarf
    Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf

    Hannah's Poncho
    Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho


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