Friday, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween!

Okay - I've had precious little knitting on the blog and it's just terrible, I know.

Knitting wise - I had a new student last night - really wonderful! Oddly, she's the 4th new student I've had this year who is taller than I, which would be even more amazing if I weren't shrinking at a rapid rate since the hysto. I seriously have to start thinking about calcium supplements!

Back to the knitting - I've been quiet on the book, but it's coming along apace. If there's anyone who wrote to me offering to look over some of the chapters who I didn't respond to, please accept my apologies and let me know what chapter you'd like to read! Things got a little nuts right then and some things may have slipped through the cracks!

Anyway, I'm S L O W L Y putting the book into Quark, which looks SO much better than the Claris Works working samples I was doing, and allows me to publish each booklet on it's own and then put it together in a collection at some future date! I found a copy editor who does this stuff professionally and will accept kits, jewelry, yarn - all kinds of good stuff - in exchange for looking over the books. THANK YOU HEATHER!!

And, of course, here are the kids!

Hannah is
Kiki (see below)
& Max is a
Bloody Ghost

Kiki - from Kiki's Delivery Service - is Hannah's favorite character!
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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Sorting Out

I brought home some clothes from my brother. The ones I couldn't fit in my suitcase (and the one my mother loaned me) were went on later by Mom and Karen along with (inexplicably...) a Gevalia coffee maker my mom ordered for me(!?) Yes, it's true I love coffee, but the whole thing is confusing to me. I'm not sure why she ordered it, and I don't want to be committed to the regular coffee deliveries - ah, well... It was meant with love.

I also brought home things of my father's that my brother had been keeping. My dad and I had a very - ahem - rocky relationship. He died when I was 16 and we were not on good terms. The last years of his life had been one disappointment after another (both financially and health-wise) and he took out many of his frustrations on the target least likely to defend itself - me.

In subsequent converstions about this ongoing - well, okay - abuse my mother would alternatively defend my father's character and deny the abuse, but it hovers over our family like a nasty smell. The abuse took the form of verbal insults (terrible things you wouldn't call a dog, let alone a 14 year old girl) and physical violence.

I'm not alone in this. I think it's probably more common than many would like to admit (and also not as common as one might think from watching the sensationalized TV news magazines) It led to my runaway period (when I was 14/15) and I can say with all honesty that if my father hadn't died when he did it would have been very, very difficult for me to attend college. He refused to sign my application because he thought college was - well - I'm not sure what he thought it was, but he didn't want his kids going. I left high school and went to college when I was 16 (I turned 17 that Fall)

So now I've inherited things of his I never thought I'd have -things I'd trained myself not to want because of the bad memories and because they just didn't seem to belong to me. My brother admired my father - feared, perhaps - much more than I. Revered is the word I guess I'd use. My mother has almost succeeded in making my dad the first Methodist saint (his cannonization process continues - it would be interesting to watch if I didn't have the history that I do with him)

My father was an amazing man. He was mercurial, gifted, angry, selfish, painfully talented - not the best father material. He had been a photographer with the 2nd combat camera unit during WWII and took some of the first still and moving images of the liberation of Dachau.

A selection of these photographs, along with many others has now been passed down to me in the leather attaché where they were stored. I've also acquired his flight suit, his dress uniform, medals, the knit jumper he wore under his uniform on each of his missions (he was in the Army Air Corp, based primarily in England) Fascinating and wonderful stuff - just stuff I'd never envisioned owning. Now I have to find some way to do honor to it.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Teaching Hate

My husband's from Bellmore and this story makes my stomach turn. Unbelievable. Read the part at the bottom about 9/11.

This article on this gray day has me feeling blue.
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Monday, October 27, 2003

...and exactly where would one find Scratchy?

Ichi - "That one with wisdom"

What would your Japanese name be? (female)
brought to you by Quizilla
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Something Stupid

And, don't we all need something stupid to knit up every now and then?

I'm working on these as part of an entire tea-set (or, rather, more of a "Feistaware" coffee set - it's evolving...) Fun to knit up for the little kid in your life who would like to take their refreshments on the road.

They don't hold liquid, though.

Eat your heart out, Mar!
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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Knit Together

I really like the name of John and Joy's store up in Stamford - and it's such a terrific new shop - one of the nicest new yarn shops I've ever been in!

Physically it's a lovely space - large, bright, airy with plenty of huge windows and natural light that make selecting colors a pleasure. J&J are obviously taking great pains to make sure the staff they hire are not just fiber lovers, but people lovers, too!

Instead of teaching a couple of classes there I ended up hanging out all day holding sort of a drop in session for anyone who wandered by and wanted to know how to make "those cool leaves!" or "that wild i-cord cast on!" That gave me a lot of time to see the interaction between the Knit Together staff and their many customers, and it was impressive!

It also gave me a chance to meet some friends I'd only met online (Hi A!) I guess I shouldn't be so stunned when folks recognize me - how many very tall women with red hair do you meet every day?

They're still building up their stock, but what they have is extensive and would probably fill any need that a knitter has. The wonderful thing is they're totally open to hearing about a yarn that a knitter suggests and will consider stocking it to 'try it out.' They have a wonderful pattern corner with instructions intelligently cataloged into binders, a sofa and a few comfortable wicker chairs.

Every exchange I witnessed was marked with respect and professionalism. The folks I saw teaching students individually (Liz and Clea) were very patient and supportive. I wish I lived closer to Stamford so I could hang out at Knit Together more! It was a pleasure to teach at such a terrific shop!

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Friday, October 24, 2003

Stand Up

Somehow my lectures & classes seem to deteriorate (elevate?) into Stand-up acts. But that seems okay with my listeners - and I'm still able to cover all the technical stuff that I need to, so everyone's happy (or at least they're laughing!)

Last night I spoke to the Palisades Spinners Guild - what a terrific bunch of folks! They asked great questions - laughed at the right places and made me feel so welcomed! They were also having a book and yarn sale and I walked away with a few nice knitting books that have been missing from my shelf! I bought no yarn, but I did buy a LOT of tiny tin cans of batik dye! I can't wait to try it - LOVE dying stuff!

I wanted to say thank you to all of you who have been emailing me - not just about my minor meltdown 2 days ago, but about my brother, too. You're so kind and so supportive. I do realize that I'm especially fragile right now - rather raw in fact - so this thing hit me harder than was really necessary. It's more me and my frame of mind than anything else! And I LOVE IK - really - I have IK to thank for getting me back into knitting!

I also do feel very proud that the'll be making a big deal over the sweater in the subscriber only service they're offering. I've been checking it out and it's amazing. The articles are good, but what blows me away is the stitch glossary and technical stuff. It's very easy to find 10 different cast ons, and they're ILLUSTRATED using IK's very clear line-art drawings. It's very nice to have this all in one place, let me tell you!

So, back to you - thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. It's been a rough time but let's hope that the worst is over!

Last night was a big help, too - thanks Palisades Spinning Guild!
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Thursday, October 23, 2003


I feel that I should explain the odd burp in the blog yesterday.

A few days ago I got a call from Interweave asking if I would mind if my sweater didn't run in "the issue" as they were 4 pages over and needed to cut some editorial. As my sweater took up exactly 4 pages with charts, etc., they wanted to use my sweater as the initial offering on their Subscriber Only service.

At this point there was a miscommunication and I assumed they meant the sweater I'd sent them a few weeks ago for the Spring Issue - they didn't. They meant my Morris Fern sweater that was to appear in the Winter Issue. Basically, whether I said yes or no the truth was that the sweater wasn't running in the Winter Issue.

I ususally don't get so personally invested in a design - once it's gone to the magazine I have to trust it to stand on it's own, I can't control the photography, etc. But I've felt so connected to this sweater that when I received my IK Winter yesterday and eagerly opened it I was absolutely heartsick to see that my sweater wasn't included. I know in the scheme of life this is a small thing, but I think in some way it was the last straw in a series of really shitty events.

I also feel like a fool because I'd been basically walking up to strangers and telling them that I had something I was "really proud of!" in the upcoming Winter IK. I never do that - really! I was just so proud that this sweater was finally accepted by a great magazine and I had so much of a voice in the choice of yarn, colors, etc.

I must look like a moron to my students from my classes who will be looking all over the issue to find my non-existant sweater.

Anyway, I totally broke down; tears, the whole thing. Just silly. And - as many of you know - my current inability to recall anything I hear on the phone (I have to take notes all the time if I'm not looking someone right in the face) left me unable to remember exactly what was said in the conversation. My mind was racing with unworthy questions: Was the sweater not good enough? Did it photograph badly? Were the instructions or charts so unclear they didn't want to run them? I felt absolutely defeated.

I still feel pretty rotton about it - but nothing that I won't get over quickly. I see everyone and their sister with book deals (and paying their knitters basically nothing to work up the samples for a book) and I just can't bring myself to do it that way. Some days it's really hard to dredge up the mental energy to continue doing this - yesterday was one of those days. This is one of the few lines of work I know that makes ACTING look like a highly paid alternative!

Of course, the icing on the cake was Good Morning America calling to tell me that the Halloween segment I'd been working on was cancelled - they didn't have the time for it and they'd cut it. The producer was so nice and very apologetic - I've worked with her before and I'm sure I will again - but it was a rough call to get as I was flipping through the magazine looking for my missing sweater.

Please know that I love Interweave Knits. I love designing for them, I love reading the mag - I love what they're doing with their new online site! The above was a painful but necessary part of the publishing world!
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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Hanging it up

I've seldom felt so defeated in my life. The groove in my head has finally become deep enough for me to realize that I need to stop banging it against the wall.

the rest of this post has been deleted - thank you Livia for the reality check!

Putting it Back On

Okay, pity party's over. Put away the paper hats!
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Life is too short. I need to ...

write a knitting book
visit Paris with Hannah
see Inca ruins
learn to sail
acquire a small vacation house in Maine

These are just a few of the things I want to do.
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Monday, October 20, 2003


I'm supposed to give a talk on Thursday for the Palisades Spinning Guild on "Knitting Weird" or something like that - it will be a tie-together of so many threads I blather on about during my teaching sessions. The problem is, I need to take the time to put them in some kind of managable lump so I can give a coherent lecture.

Now comes the hard job of distilling!
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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Teaching and Sleeping

I taught my 3 hour lace class at Urban Knitter yesterday (a beautiful space!) and it went quite well. It's always a crap shoot with a class that's slightly advanced -- not so much that all of the students won't be up to the challenge, but that some of the students may not be able to fully embrace the concept. If you get a recalcitrant student it can sometimes bring an entire class to a screeching halt while you deal with their issues (knitting or otherwise) and the rest of the class is left on hold.

Happily, this was NOT the case yesterday! Although the class embraced a variety of skill levels, everyone was able to fully comprehend at least ONE of the exercises. I think they all got the concept of the left and right leaning decrease which, paired with YO’s, are what gives lace knitting the beautiful bias movement that really defines it. A very satisfying class - and I hope everyone else left as happy as I did!

I also taught a new student in a private session at her home (and you thought no one still made house calls!) She picked up the knit and purl stitch VERY quickly and I left her sitting on her sofa knitting with a strong passion. Someone who wants to knit that much will be an AMAZING knitter! I can hardly wait to show her ribbing - my gut instinct is that she's a natural cabler!

And then down to Beads of Paradise to buy some seed beads and meet up with Alison for a lovely chat and a nice cup of coffee! Man, did my feet hurt by the end of the day!! Lots of walking, lots of standing and teaching!
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Friday, October 17, 2003

The Nanny

So now I feel better - slightly (jeez, can I whine ANY more?) but I sound like Fran Fein on The Nanny. Too bad I don't look like her!

Tomorrow's my lace class and I hope I sound better by then. Nothing hurts, my throat isn't SORE exactly, but I think it would be painful to listen to me drone on for 3 hours about lace, etc.

Last night I was adding to my lace booklet for the Sat class and edited a section on faggoting (creating lace with paired YO's & decreases in each row). Then I moved on to another section where I discuss bias (as in direction of fabric). I was in such a wacky cold-medicine induced stupor that the whole thing seemed rather surreal -

I found myself asking, "If someone screws up their faggoting, is that a bias crime?"

No flames, please - it's the robitussin talking...
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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Back Home

I arrived back home yesterday - it is so GOOD to be back! Of course, being the space cadet I've been in the past year, I FORGOT my airline ticket at my sister-in-laws house. Sheesh. She lives in Rowlette, about 50 miles from the airport, so returning to get it was NOT an option (I took a Super Shuttle to the airport)

I missed my flight but - after many tears - got reascheduled on a later flight but had to pay a $100 reticketing fee for each leg of the journey ($200 total) I've done my part to help the airline industry, that's for sure.

All in all, I prefer driving. Really. If I didn't have to be back last evening to teach I WOULD have driven!

Class last night was FUN! I have four women in this class (there's a fifth - I need to call her because I KNOW she really wanted to take the class) and everyone was knitting and purling last night. We'll see how they do over the week and next week we'll refresh our lesson and learn RIBBING! How exciting, huh?

This Thursday I'm starting an afternoon class for goal oriented knitting. Let me know if you'd like to come - it will be small (very nice, those small classes...)

This Saturday I'm teaching a lace workshop at Urban Knitter in NYC. It's going to be a good, fun 3 hours and you'll walk away understanding the basics of knitting lace.

Also, if you notice (to the right) I'm speaking at the Palisades Knitting Guild in NJ on Thursday, 10/23. I didn't realize it, but this is open to NON members, too! There's a $5 fee to hear my pearls of wisdom.

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Monday, October 13, 2003


I just learned that one of my students finished her first sweater - I'm so PROUD of her! Our local knitting meetup - the Yarrrn Pirates (we meet in Livingston every month as part of the worldwide knitting meetup) gets together this Wed so I'm offering an impromptu finishing class for our regulars who want to talk about ways to sew seams in knitted garments.

Go LISA!!!! Lisa learned to knit last winter, and this sweater is a SYMPHONY of cables - just beautiful! It was in VK Winter 2002 and I'm SO proud of her for having the guts to just DO it!
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Sunday, October 12, 2003


I'm in Dallas now until Tuesday - this time I flew (airfares were cheaper if I waited a week - BTW, the bereavement fares are a joke - they're 1/2 of the FULL fare on a flight - therefore they start at $600!)

Yesterday was sorting day. My sister in law and I went through my brother's closet(s) and sorted a bunch of stuff that had belonged to him, to my father, etc. His high school jacket (Whitmer) and his jean jacket cut-off vest (Harley-Davidson) were two things I really wanted to keep. Most of the stuff is sorted in piles for friends, brothers, goodwill - I think the hard part of going through each piece is finally finished, though.

It was very hard for Karen. I'm still on auto-pilot -a nd it's made easier by the fact that I'm not in my own home (the pain feels stronger when I'm at home - here I'm just kind of numb)
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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Sincerest Form?

The first image is from the latest Wool Connection catalog. The second image is a design of mine from Knitting With Simplicity magazine back in the mid-80's. Pretty funny, huh?

An imitation of several design elements can be a coincidence - but c'mon guys, they even STYLED it the same with the scarf!
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Travel Again

I'm returning to Dallas for a week or so to be with Mom and Karen, so I'll probably be laying low blog-wise. I will have access to my email and the internet, so I'll be happy to correspond with anyone who has a question or comment.

Still numb - I realize I'm shocked, but not terribly surprised. Jim had high blood pressure and wasn't taking great care of himself - but no one expects this to happen at 44. Obviously we'll be trying to make sense of this for years. Maybe forever.

I love work - I love the routine and the satisfaction. I love having something else on my mind along with my overwhelming grief.

Thank god for work.

Work, feed thyself
to thine own powers appeal
nor whine out woes
thine own right hand can heal

That was written along the outside main stairway at my college, Denison U. I always loved that.
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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Thank You

I've received such an outpouring of love and support that I'm overwhelmed. Thank all of you for your kindness and understanding.

I heard from IK yesterday that they're very happy with the last two pieces I sent (whew!) and they want to run one of my ravelings pieces - that's nice to hear. I'm also working up a few fun projects that may or may not end up in the mag... we'll see.

I had such a great response from my booklets at the VFF classes this weekend I am definitely going to put them together with a lace booklet I'm working on (along with a section on combination knitting) and self-publish them as a collection of combination knitting tips. Now all I have to do is think of a name that would be intruiging to all knitters, not just the small group who want to try combination!
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Monday, October 06, 2003

Road Woe

It was a long drive - not as bad as it may have been, though. I have to admit that I did speed at times, but no tickets. Perhaps Jimmy was screwing up the radar dectors?

Thank you to everyone who wrote me at the blog or privately with your condolences. It made me feel very loved and made a big difference. Thanks so much.

The Virginia Fiber Festival was really wonderful! Not as large as some of the festivals, but very nice and lots of great stuff to look at and enjoy. My classes went well - three of them VERY well. I still feel badly about the Borders class, it just didn't seem to have the energy I would have liked. I know it's because I, myself, was dragging pretty badly by that time having arrived in VA at 1:00 the morning before and having taught one class already that day. But I feel bad for the students, I wasn't at my best!

The other classes, though, were very good. I may not have converted EVERYONE to charts, but I think I opened some minds to ways of looking at knitting and the possibility of growth even if one's been knitting "my entire life!"

Lola Woods was exceptionally gracious as a hostess - although once I arrived at her homeI crashed at 6:30 pm and didn't wake up until 7:15 the next morning. So tired. I still feel bone tired. I'm flying back to Texas this week to be with mom and Karen again for another week, then back home to resume the madness of a knit designers life!

I'm glad to not be driving. Home doesn't feel like a refuge, though - Gerry is worried about a gastro-intestinal thing that may be serious (his doctor wants him to have further tests) so we need to work out how to cover that insanity. Nothing costs like tests. We may have a lead on how to acquire a health insurance plan for us based on Gerry's teleprompting business and my knitting business.

Hannah is the best driving companion, but I'm afraid she's paying for hours upon hours in the car with me by working some of her frustrations out in not-good ways. She had a rough time at soccer yesterday (perhaps it was a mistake for Gerry to take her) and fought with the coach. Bad move. She was also a little fresh with the daughter of one of the Virginia Fiber Festival organizers, which I chalk up to lots of time sitting still in the car, lots of sadness and not enough broccoli. I hope she is able to ease back into her routine - I'm glad today's a school holiday (Yom Kippur) so she can have another day to decompress. We expect so much from kids. We expect so much from each other.

I want Gerry to take the kids and just let them run all day long today. I want to sleep.
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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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