Sunday, August 31, 2003

You Give Me Fever...

Yes, it's true. Possibly for the 5th time this summer I have a raging fever. This one with major body aches, sore throat - you name it... You know, one of those sore throats that wake you up in the middle of the night because it's so painful. My tongue is coated, which is very exciting, let me tell you.

I was supposed to go visit my Mother in Law today along with Gerry and the kids, but aside from feeling rotton, I'm afraid to infect her as she is recovering from Colon Cancer and is on both Chemo and Radiation. She's an amazing and wonderful woman. This has definitely been cancer year for us, and for so many of my friends.

My personal feeling is that so many fearful and negative feelings have enveloped us in the past couple of years that it sort of gives the diseases a head start. I am not a doctor (nor do I play one on the internet) but that's just what I feel.

So, I think I'll be laid up for a few days. The nice thing is that I can knit pretty much no matter how I feel, and I have a lot of knitting to work through, so I feel not a TOTAL loser. Did I mention that I got Gerry a DVD/Video (Go Video) player for our annivarsary, so maybe I'll finally be able to see CHICAGO!!
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Thursday, August 28, 2003

I Happen To Like New York...
warning, clicking on the above link with play a sound file

I took the kids into the city today to the Museum of Natural History - FABULOUS!

We had the most AMAZING time! I hadn't been there in years (I used to basically hang out there when I first moved to the city in 1982 - 20 years ago??? Is that sad or cool? I was kind of an oddball hipster preppie-punk girl in those days...)

After seeing PULSE and the Chocolate exhibit we visited the dioramas (they LOVED them!) the Whale (LOVED IT!) and we especially like the Hayden Planetarium Discovery Center - all the way home they played with the photo-sensitive beads they got from the really nice guy at the hands-on experiment station.

And why did we go? Because my amazing knitting student and friend Athena gave us passes - she thought the kids would enjoy it. So thoughtful.

After the museum we went on a walk through Central Park. We visited the lake, walked over the bow bridge, saw the Bethesda fountain, the sheep meadow, watched the lawn bowlers - and finally ended our CP adventure with a ride on the wonderful Carousel (okay, two rides...) What a tremendous day.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Back to Knitting

I love having several projects to dive in on - and I have a few real beauties right now! I also have to organize my notes for the classes I'll be teaching and put together a nice booklet on toe-up socks for all of us to use at the retreat (that is, if voting stays as I think it will...)

I've found the key to all of this is a certain amount of organization - otherwise it's impossible to prioritize and I feel totally overwhelmed. Sometimes it's hard to know where to start, and this leads to a confused, enervated state best described as, "So much to do, so little direction."

Reminder - if any of you want to come to the seaside retreatemail me so I can include you in the yahoo groups and you can vote on what class you'd like to take (if you want to take one...)

In the mean time, here's something that's currently on my needles - a bit of the old nautical theme.

This is unblocked cotton
the tension looks much better in person!

Speaking of nautical, I took Hannah to see Pirates of the Carribbean today - BOY did we love it!
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Saturday, August 23, 2003


And here's yet another reason why Gerry and I have so much fun together. He's the funniest guy I know. We went to see Seabiscuit two nights ago - a very nice movie - and at one point the limping horse is led off of a trailor. The horse looked terrible, in great pain. Gerry leaned over and quietly whispered, "That's Meryl Streep..."

I almost had to leave I was laughing so hard. Maybe it doesn't translate well out of the theatre, but the timing was perfect!

And - this just in - a verdict on the Fox v Franken case... You can't make this stuff up.
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Friday, August 22, 2003

The Story

I received a few emails - and a comment from Lisa - asking for details on the Public Radio connection. Here it is:

When I received my MFA in 1992 I moved to Brooklyn and got my first job on Broadway as a costume assistant on the show, My Favorite Year

Life was pretty great, but I was bummed that I didn't have a boyfriend. After the show opened in November I finally had my Saturdays free again and tuned into my favorite radio show, What Do You Know? on WNYC.

I called in and was chosen to be the on-air contestant and was teamed up with a guy named Tom from the studio audience. As hard as it might be to believe [wink, wink], I talked for about 45 minutes solid - basically did a stand-up act - seriously. When I listen to the tape of the show I'm alternatively giddy and ashamed.

Tom & I won the 'big kielbasa' of prizes - a small chocolate cow, a book on tape, a cat toy and a 5' inflatable figure of The Scream.

A few weeks later on Dec 15 I received a letter in my mailbox with a Wisconsin postmark but a Queens return address. How odd. Yes, 9 years before the anthrax scare I was noticing this. The letter was from a listener who heard me on the show, thought I was funny, wanted to meet me. He called the radio show and asked the producer if she would send a letter on to me if he sent it to her (that he wouldn't have my return address or last name) She did. Thank you Ruth Ann Bessman!

The letter was from Gerry. It was funny, it wasn't scary at all - I showed it to my single friends and they all said, "Hey - if you don't call him can I?" I showed my married friends and they said, "Stay AWAY from that nut!" I compromised and sent him a Christmas Card.

He called me, we chatted and decided to have a coffee date at the Peacock Cafe in the Village. All he knew about me was that I was 5'11" with red hair [the truth is that I'm closer to 6'] . All I knew about him was that he was 5'8" with a beard.I showed up very early at the cafe and ordered soup so I could 'settle in'

I swear that EVERY SINGLE 5'8, BEARDED MAN in NYC walked into the Peacock Cafe that night. None of them looked very appealing - some of them were downright scary.

I looked up to the front of the cafe and there he was, sitting at a table and looking like he was next in line for the guillotine. I walked up and introduced myself - told him I had a better table in the back of the restaurant and he could join me if he wanted.

After a false start on a 2nd date (He told me about a party a friend was having - then never called to actually ASK ME - he sat home waiting for ME to call HIM!!!) we finally had a real 2nd date on his birthday, Feb 5th, then a third on Feb 13. Two dates later he moved in. A few weeks after that we were engaged and we were married that August. As we were waiting to walk down the aisle he told me, "Today is 9 months to the day that I heard you on the radio..."

So that's the story!
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Thursday, August 21, 2003

Ten Years!

Well, it's been 10 years today. Ten great years - better than either of us have a right to expect! We're very lucky that we found each other - THANK YOU PUBLIC RADIO!

A shapshot from our Hudson River Valley Honeymoon
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

New Yarn (for me, anyway...)

I remember when I first learned to knit, back in 1983, and there were precious few yarns that blended animal and plant fibers. As a matter of fact, knitting with cotton was very difficult, there wasn't much that I really enjoyed (except for a yarn called 'softball' which had a binder thread that created a 'kink' and gave it a much nicer tension than the average cotton yarn.)

I remember 'discovering' Baruffa Maratona (my first exposure to merino yarn - ah, young love...) and 'discovering' the first cotton/wool blends (I thought the wheel had been reinvented and I'd died and gone to heaven! - it BREATHES! It has MEMORY!)

Today blends are old hat, but they're still a minor miracle to me. Even the 'pure' yarns - 100% of something - are more knittable these days than the first rough and unforgiving cottons.

I'm working with Tahki's Willow right now for a twinset project. I'm so excited about the project (it will be simple, yet - hopefully - so beautifully engineered that beginning knitters feel comfortable attempting it and experienced knitters will be intruiged.)

Willow is a heavy (4.5 sts = 1") Linen & Cotton blend that does have a tendancy to split - but has a beautiful hand and lovely drape when it's knit up. Every positive has a negative. The splitting, while annoying, also allows the yarn to flatten out and have a nicer hand when knit up (more woven fabric-like) which leads to a good drape.

It's a trade off, but I think it's worthwhile in this case.
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Monday, August 18, 2003


After the good news of several pattern & kit sales, interest from a few magazines in some of my designs and yarn company interest, too comes the down side of BEING EXCEPTIONALLY BUSY for a few days straightening everything out so I'm ready to sit and work.

That, plus submissions to VK and FCEK (due on Friday, but due to 'brownouts' in our area I couldn't really get any computer work done until yesterday...) which are time consuming. That's the zen aspect of this work - doing so MUCH of the legwork before the design is accepted, it's rough.

But, as I tell my husband, the benefit is that when I return home from vaca to find 4 of my designs purchased I don't have to re-invent the wheel to put my mindset back where it was when I designed the darned sweaters.

I keep copious notes, make my charts and graphs at the time I design the sweater and always do a rather complete swatch (the swatch is what I use to finalize my stitch charts) I always do a schematic, too - but I don't always work out the specs for the schematic (every magazine has different ideas of what the 'average' or 'fit' size should be...)

Here's a swatch I worked up late last week. It's an idea I'd had for a few weeks, but I was having a hard time getting the cables to run diagonally without skewing the sides of the swatch or making the hem bow in an odd way. I finally succeeded - and if I'm lucky you'll be seeing this in a completed incarnation as a sweater in some magazine in the next year or so.

There's such a long lag time between design concept and actual printing of the magazine - sometimes several years - that when folks ask me about a 'new' design I am quite often sincerely confused. The stuff coming out in the mags is old to me by now, and I have to think hard to remember that it's not old to EVERYONE else, too!

For those of you who are interested, here's a pdf file of what my submissions tend to look like. You might find it useful to see how a designer thinks a concept through.

I do most of my 'sketching' by either filling in a line-art schematic shape or by starting with a sketch and scanning it and THEN filling it in using the photoshop 'define pattern' tool. To my mind a design sketch is more about communicating a concept than it is about making a beautiful piece of art.
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Friday, August 15, 2003

Sign this

Save Amina.

Sign the petition to be sent to the High Commissioner of Nigeria protesting the scheduled death by stoning of Amina Lawal, whose death sentence was upheld on 8/19 for the crime of adultery, and all other victims of the new Sharia-based Penal Codes in Northern Nigeria.

This shouldn't happen to a dog. Or a sister. Perhaps enough signatures will have the same positive effect that a petition campaign had in Safiyatu Hussaini's case - her stoning death was thankfully prevented by world-wide protests.
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Thursday, August 14, 2003


It seems that there is no power anywhere in the NYC area but in South Orange. How did we become so lucky? Who knows! It's allowed me to keep the fan on (still don't have AC) and watch the lights dim every hour or so. Unsettling.

The worst part about these crisises (crisiis?) is the way the local news has an absolute FIELD DAY! Local news sucks - even NYC local news (which is better than most) and it's painful to watch. Hour after hour of it is absolutely numbing. Thank heaven I have the Ben Franklin bio on video for my knitting enjoyment!

I finished two afghans I was supposed to have finished on vacation - lazy me - and shipped them off this morning! Woo hoo!

Spent the rest of the day working up swatches for the VK submissions tomorrow - although I'm crossing my fingers that everything is delayed at least one business day if NYC doesn't have power tomorrow either! I'm submitting via email this time - let's see if it makes any difference!

I did learn that I'd sold several sweaters to a few magazines and a few items to a yarn company, too - a pretty good day, in fact, designwise...

Here's part of my favorite swatch from today -

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Monday, August 11, 2003

Back Home

We're home - just as we started unpacking it began to rain - and it poured - and POURED! Our kids were playing with the neighbors, Cole & Chase (who they'd missed dreadfully) and Atticus was playing with Nobu (who he'd missed dreadfully) and I was chatting with Nicole (who'd I'd missed dreadfully, too!)

It's good to be back. I have a TON of work to do - I returned to several emails offering to purchase designs (yahoo!) and a major deadline this Friday (items are due as well as sketches) Except for the fact I'm so much better rested, a bit more mosquito bitten, a little fatter and a lot happier it's like I never left...
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Saturday, August 09, 2003


Why it took us until the day before we left to fish I'll never know. Actually - I do know. It took me this long to get my butt down to the store and buy a $13 fishing pole for the kids to share. We also fashioned one from a branch which worked just as well!

We caught THIRTEEN fish! 9 of them are happily swimming in the lake again - too small to keep - but 4 of them are swimming unhappily in our plastic bucket awaiting their final fate. We may just throw them back, too - catch and release, that seems to be the theme of this vacation!

The frogs got a break today. They're having a party to celebrate Hannah's exit tomorrow.

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Friday, August 08, 2003

Sad Kids

Today the kids asked when we were going home. We told them. They cried. We cried. We're leaving on Sunday, stopping in Camden on the way to visit Pam Allen (IK Editor - I need to drop off a scarf and I'd really like to meet her in person) and just to look around at the beautiful seaside town.

To be honest, if the day is going slowly we may just check into a motel on Sunday night and extend our trip by a day. We've fallen in love with Maine! If Gerry could get a job up here we'd move in a New York minute (but rent - not sell - our home in South Orange because, well, we love it there, too!)

Today we drove out to Clara's Window in quite a beautiful drive, and such a lovely location! The cloudy weather lifted enough for us to get a great view of the picturesque little harbor with the bright boats and rocky shore. So different from the Jersey Shore and so beautiful!

Clara's store is just beautiful - bright and cheerful and smells heavenly! The store looks like it's been art directed - so lovely! Her stock ranges in price and is wonderfully eclectic and indulgent! We had a nice long visit (Clara, her mom and I) while Gerry and the kids romped on the rocky shore with Atticus (who made friends with his good looks, then lost them with his bark!) We had the PERFECT fried lunch - right out of the 50's - at a local lobster roll and seafood shack. Who needs McDonalds? We wanted to give a fancy bistro a try, but with the kids romping wildly, Atticus barking and Gerry dressed for auto repair (I didn't know we were going to VISIT anyone!) it just wasn't the day for fine dining!

If you have the chance you should definitely make the effort to drive out to Clara's - especially if you're going to be in Blue Hill to visit the yarn store!
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Dawn at Brewer Lake

Woke up at 5:00 - made coffee - sat in the hammock and watched the sky turn from indigo to light blue to white under the heavy cover of clouds and light rain. Beautiful.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Another few yarn shops

We really didn't set out today to visit yarn shops - really! I can thank my sharp eyed and every patient husband for my yarn shop visits today!

I knew there was a yarn shop in Bangor, but since I didn't have my contact disk and - oddly - couldn't find it in the phone book (we have an old one here at the cottage) or on the internet, I sort of gave up on visiting it. We went instead to the Maine Discovery Museum for kids in Bangor - and as we were walking to the door Gerry nudged me and pointed across the street saying, "Isn't THAT the yarn shop you wanted to visit..."

What's better than a great kids museum right across the street from a yarn shop and an accomodating husband who'll stay with the kids while I shop & knit & schmooze? I really enjoyed meeting Liza and the great staff she had working there - sitting and starting a pair of mindless socks for my Hannah (You never knit anything for ME)

The store - which is at 81 Main Street in Bangor - is huge, rather well stocked and the selection is quite pragmatic (that's the best word I can think of for the intelligent and practical yarns for sale!) The prices were very good - or perhaps I'm just too used to NJ?! I was especially impressed by one of the shop staff who helped refresh the memory of a customer who was having a hard time sorting out which yarn she'd bought for which project at an earlier visit.

After lunch we headed down to Blue Hill because we wanted to see what it was like - and I wanted to visit the Blue Hill Yarn Shop on Rt 172 (just north of BH) We got there moments before closing time at 4:00, but Edna - the owner - was so wonderful and stayed longer than she'd intended chatting with me - we had such a great talk! Two women pulled up to shop as I was leaving - both very disappointed that the store was closing - a nice sign!

We also discovered a really wonderful playground with tiny playhouses, a huge hollow log and beautiful flowers at Blue Hill - what a great place for the kids to let off some steam!

Tomorrow Bar Harbor and breakfast with some friends. Hmmm - I just noticed that there's another yarn shop down the street from where we're meeting our friends...
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Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Rain? Who cares!

Yes - I'm taking a break from the vacation in heaven to write a big on the blog!

It's really foggy and rainy on the coast but it tends to be a little less foggy inland, which is where we are (lucky us!) So - even though the weather forecast for the week is rain, rain, rain - we don't care! We're relaxing, reading, canoeing - walking the dog, playing Simpson's Monopoly and having an incredibly wonderful time.

I'm spending an inordinate amount of time in the hammock (it hangs over the lake!) and have rigged up a rope I can pull so that it swings gently. Heaven.

Hannah's shown an AMAZING skill for Frog Hunting - she's just caught 8 - we're working on a 'catch and release' program here. They all get released by dinnertime.

Today we drove to what we hoped would be a scenic railroad, but I goofed so we didn't have our train ride. Bummer. Instead we drove to Belfast (incredibly lovely and foggy) and I stopped into a new yarn shop - Heavenly Socks - at 82 Main Street. Apparently Helen just opened, so if you're near Belfast, ME stop in - it's a sweet and tidy little shop and she's interested in finding out what the locals would like her to carry!

I also felt some BEAUTIFUL Merino & Silk blend by Starcroft Fiber Mill (they're in Monroe, ME) I must have some!

As much fun as we're all having - and as much as we're enjoying it - the family member who's having the BEST time is Atticus! I've never seen him so happy - he even jumped in the lake after I jumped in (he was so worried about me). We took the Canoe out - all 4 of us - and upturned it (the water was only 3' deep) I took it out alone a bit later and had a few scary moments. I'll leave the canoeing from now on to Gerry!

We discovered this morning that Gerry inadvertantly left my disk with my database and all other stuff at home - but it's a blessing in disguise! I'm glad to be compelled not to worry about work for a week - besides, I have the scarf to knit, a few afghans to do for Unique Kolors and lots of trouble to get into!
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Friday, August 01, 2003

Gone Knittin'

We're off tomorrow morning - I'm packing even as I write (quite a feat) and I'm SO excited to just sit, veg, read, knit, well - you know...

We probably won't have internet access unless we happen past a cybercafe or something, so until next Sunday the blog is on vacation!

Don'tcha Wanna?
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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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