Tuesday, July 27, 2004

It's Going To Happen!!

I got the email today from the producer at Knitty Gritty -

I'm going to be a guest!!!!

I'm very excited, and I owe a big thanks to my blog readers to contacted KG on my behalf - THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I've heard from a few other folks who were guests this year that Knitty Gritty has a VERY small budget and they pay for very little in the way of guest accomodations - that's fine, it will be worth it to me for the exposure (book sales!)

They're taping my segment on Sept 20, so I'm planning on flying out around 9/18 (Sat) and I'd love to stay through Wed so I can see a bit before I come home! I've booked a rental car and my airline ticket - I just need to find a place to stay!

There's a lot I need to get done in a short space of time;

ē Work up some how-to setups (I'll be doing my sling chair as my project)
ē Knit up a few extra child's sling chair seats
ē Knit something for ME to wear (I never do that!)

I'm thinking that instead of dealing with shipping my sling chair frame out there, dealing with headache of possible damage and the backache of lugging it around at the airport, it would be be cheaper & easier to just BUY a sling chair in CA, remove the fabric seat and attach my knit seat to it! (That's the beauty of the project, it's pretty flexible and will fit a variety of frames!)

The producer has asked me if they can have my knitted wicker chair on the show so I told them, Sure! As long as you pay to ship it out and back! They want me to look into shipping costs - I barely know where to begin!!

I begin to lose perspective on what I do that is cool, and what is just "been there, done that..." - if there's an item I've done that you think is worthy of bringing to LA as set decoration, I'd love your feedback!

I'm also VERY interested in visiting any yarn shops in the area! Please let me know which ones you think should be on my list!!! If anyone would like to schedule a workshop while I'm out there, it would help me finance the trip and teaching is always a wonderful calming mechanism and confidence boost for me!

Personal Note: If anyone is in contact with Kerrie at MagKnits , please let her know I need to get in touch with her - I know she's on maternity leave, but I can't seem to get through to her! Thanks!

Now, the big question - can I lose 40 pounds in 2 months...

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Monday, July 26, 2004


I've had pretty severe asthma since I was 26 - roughly around the time I moved back to NYC after living in TX for a year. It will be dormant for months at a time, but rears it's ugly head when it's cold and damp outside (especially in the summer)

This week's been one of my worst breathing weeks in a few years. It's been raining pretty badly here off and on, and has been rather damp and chilly. Yesterday was lovely, and today seems that it will be nice, too - which will help a lot. I need to call my doctor today. For me, asthma's one of those annoyances that I tend to ignore until it becomes overwhelming - which is stupid, I know!

Enough boo-hooing - I've been working on a Dolman top with diagonal eyelet detail for IK for next winter, and getting designs together for submissions later in this month to several other magazines. A friend, Jann, lent me a few vintage knitting mags with some AMAZING designs that are so inspiring! The great thing about these designs is that they're from the 50's and 60's, but many of them use worsted/bulky weight yarn (some in ribbon yarn) to make the most beautiful period dresses and suits! I'm not used to seeing silhouettes of that period worked up in such bulky yarn, and it makes them VERY appealing when I think of knitting them up in some of the delicious yarns that are around right now!

I've started a new wicker chair - side panels are done and I'll pick up stitches for the back. The frame is very good on this chair, so I'll be attaching the knitted portions with tiny nails. I have a few child sling chair frames coming in because the segment producer at Knitty Gritty tells me they're interested in that as a segment (with final approval from 'the network') - perhaps to tape as early as mid September! A friend who was on the show suggested that I find my own accomodations, because when she was a guest they didn't pay for hotel or airfare. In professional terms, it will be well worth it to raise my profile, though. Anyway, they've asked me if they could use the wicker chair on the set (if, indeed, I am on the show...) and I told them as long as they'd pay for shipping it to and from LA they could definitely use it (and me...)

Sweet Gerry was driving down the street this weekend and found yet ANOTHER wicker frame for me! This is the time of year when folks start tossing the stuff out, I've found several cane-less seat frames lately!

Today the kids have a field trip to the Intrepid Space Museum in NYC, Gerry's working at Fox 5 this morning doing Teleprompter and I'm supposed to go into the city for lunch with a friend (if I can get the wheezing under control!) All 4 of us in the city at the same time worries me in ways that it never would have a few years ago. I hate that I am thinking like this. Half of me wants to tell the kids they can't go on the trip, the other half knows that the only way to get on with life is to get on with life.
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Saturday, July 24, 2004


Last week Isabell Sanford died - Weezy - which is what I am today - wheezing. Asthma hits me very hard on warm, humid days. Rainy summer days are especially hard. I haven't slept much in the past few days - hard to lay down and breathe well - so I'm sitting up and thinking a lot.

My wire menorah arrived - it was well received (which is a tremendous relief!) and will be included, along with the tablecloth from a few weeks ago

Here it is!

Today I'll spend most of the day fine tuning my instruction booklets for my classes in Virginia and Michigan, putting into effect some of the changes that I noted were necessary at Creative Strands. I'm combining my embellishments booklet with buttonholes, because those two seem to lend themselves to each other, and have to make up some kind of "increases and decreases" handout to give that class a nice shape.

And, of course, I'm trying to sit down and write at least a few hours each day. Some days I feel as though I could write for years, some days I can't even make up a laundry list...

And in the back of my mind are things I need/want to knit for my possible knitty gritty appearance - finishing a new wicker chair, new chairseats for some child's sling chairs in a variety of colors and patterns, and I'd love to knit something nice up for ME to wear - what a novel idea...

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Thursday, July 22, 2004


Walking back from taking the kids to camp this morning (today is a Bowling trip!) I have a lot of time to ponder things. It's a nice, calm hour when I can concentrate on stuff that's hard to think about with all of the distractions of home.

Today I was thinking about beauty & self publishing. I came home and wrote a new foreword to my book, which I just included and will be in the next edition.

Also, for some unknown reason ALL of the reviews, negative, positive or neutral, have disappeared from my listing at Amazon. This is unsettling. I didn't love having the bad reviews, but I didn't hate them, either - I thought they were important to consider and to learn from! Now every review is missing and I can't figure out why.

I wrote to Amazon asking why, but I doubt if I'll get a response...

Here's a bit of my new foreword:

I donít look great in a bathing suit, but I donít let that keep me from showing my kids how to swim. They donít care that I need to lose a few pounds in order to look better half naked at the pool - they enjoy the time we spend together and the lessons that I teach them.

It would be nice to have glossy paper, excellent illustrations for each and every technique, and beautiful art direction. However, please donít let these physical shortcomings deter you from enjoying - and enriching your knitting - through the contents of this book!

I like to think that the encouragement and instruction in this book offset itsí physical limitations. Perhaps they even add a bit of charm? The fact that youíve chosen to dive into my heretical knitting world speaks volumes about your spirit & individuality.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Old Dominion!

I have my times and dates for my Virginia teaching in Gordonsville, and it's quite a schedule! I hope that anyone in the Virginia area who's wanted to take a class with me will venture down to Lola's shop, Limerick Fibers - 105 North Main Street, Gordonsville, VA. You can register for the classes by emailing Lola, or by calling her at (540) 832-0207

I'm going to be very busy, and I'll take some time over the next few days to rework my lace class book to rid myself one of two mis-matches between written instruction and charts. Editing on the fly, always a dangerous proposition!

Last night knitting at Starbucks was such a blast - a nice group, with a new member joining us! Wednesday is knitting meetup, which is always great! Today I have to put some serious work in on my book - work, work, work!
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Monday, July 19, 2004

Sticky Buns

Our home isn't air conditioned - which generally is only a problem for 2-6 days a summer. We have a well designed, 1927 home (pre air conditioned) with wide doorways and great airflow. We have an exhaust fan in the attic and ceiling fans in almost every room, which make a tremendous difference in our comfort!

But on the really, REALLY sticky days, I hole myself up in my "office" - our breakfast nook that I've taken over as a home office. There's a tiny air conditioner in the window and it is my salvation. Today isn't hot so much as it's sticky. Brushing against the wall is like handling flypaper. All of my paperback books are curling up, and my hair is wild. These are the days when a bandana is called for!

In 15 minutes a woman is coming to our house to look it over and tell me how much she'll charge to clean it every two weeks. She works for our neighbor across the street, so it would be nice for her to have two houses to "do" nearby on the same day. The last time I had cleaning help was when I was working full time and had a baby. Now I guess I'm working full time again (plus...) and, although I have no babies, I do have kids with dirty hands and feet and a penchant for touching EVERY surface in the house when they come in from playing in the mud.

Also, I've noticed that every time I go away for a week or so, I come home to appreciably more deep level - well - dirt. Gerry's a terrific guy, but it's a rare man who sees the same things that need to be cleaned that I see. Also, being a Virgo I'm a little insane about little, tiny, insignificant stuff. This deadens the effect when I begin railing about the condition of the house in general. As I ponder going away at the end of this month then again in Mid August, I begin to fear what the house will look like by September...

So - wish me luck as I enter into a new phase - the cleaning lady phase.
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Saturday, July 17, 2004

Astringent Truth

Not that I'm in any great danger of developing a super-inflated ego (or perhaps the fact that I feel this way is proof that I do have one!) but reading my reviews at Amazon.com has taken me down a peg today.

Here's my page - reviews at the bottom...

Nothing the writers say is inaccurate - I certainly wish that I could afford to make a better book, and in the version that I just sent to the printer many of the images ARE clearer. But the truth is, it's a black and white book printed on natural paper (not bright white) and that makes the images less attractive than they might be. Ah, well. Every criticism is good, if not easy, to hear - and I'm grateful for them. Of course, I also am very grateful for the positive reviews, too - a nice balance, I guess. As I read this I realize how far I've come since just 10 years ago - life has a way of teaching us even when we don't want to learn.

I need to make sure that I don't allow these comments to overwhelm my own ego - which can be rather more fragile than I'd like - and to continue on with the other stuff I'm writing. Man, I tell you, after I get through these current years I'm going to be the strongest person in South Orange. Okay, maybe not, but I'll be able to weather things more gracefully than I ever could in my younger, wilder days.

That's the benefit of growing older - and something we don't honor as much as we should. Perhaps it's because there's a kind of ersatz wisdom that passes among many - unearned, untried, untested. I feel I'm just beginning on my quest to discover a tiny particle of wisdom - and I find that much of what I do learn springs from my knitting needles and the fiber running through my fingers.

It astounds me that we allow folks with big brains and little wisdom to make major decisions (and I'm actually NOT thinking about the First Resident, but the heads of certain federal agencies...) What I wouldn't give for a Ben Franklin advising our government these days. We all could use some astringent truth.

Speaking of astringent, I have to mention that I'm in love with Thayers Witch Hazel - the smell is so clean! I keep it in my refrigerator and it's the best thing on a hot day when I come in from weeding the garden. Like a brief visit to Alaska, which I'd love to visit for real this year!

On the really good news front, my favorite boy-chik and I took a walk today, stopped by a garage sale and I saw a great bike for him! The woman wasn't sure if she could sell it (she'd half promised it to her nephew) but later in the day she called to say her brother didn't think her nephew was ready to ride yet, so we could have the bike for $15! It needs air in the tires and a good cleaning, but I have a very happy little boy again!

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Friday, July 16, 2004


I don't drink much (Susan, stop laughing) but when I move to the hard liquor I get sloppy FAST. I just had a G&T, my own pet favorite next to bourbon & water, and I find myself so far gone compared to what I would have been in College! I'm now officially a cheap and easy date. Alert the media!

Working dilligently on two book projects, it's lonely work because I feel very - alone - very isolate and lacking feedback. It would be nice to have my weekly support group (aka, my class) but I'll struggle through without it. I wonder if I should find a nice writers group. I wonder if they'd even COMPREHEND the whole knitting scene or think I was a lovely little housewire (pat, pat, pat on the head) and thank-you-very-much that was just lovely Annie. Now let's hear from Chet and his drug abuse novel...

Of course, if I help myself to another G&T I could join Chet...

Yikes, not only making up a writers group - making up a substance abuse problem to be more acceptible to the pretend writer's group!

I just got my IK in the mail - Pam is doing SUCH an exceptional job!

Here's my addition...

Folks will say to me, "I LOVE your designs!" and my stock answer these days is, "You should see Veronik Avery's designs!" I love her stuff - and she has a lot of it in IK (yes, I'm just slightly envious, but it's a love kind of envy...)

I've been knitting a nylon chair based on an IKEA frame - she has it there! I've been working on a plaid pattern - she has a similar one there - ah, great minds think alike - and I'm THRILLED to be thinking like Vernonik. Now if only I had a really cool name like that!
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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Computer Ate My Post

I had this lovely posting all written this morning - links to KnitDad (who kindly wrote to see if we're getting hit by the NJ Flooding- we're not, thankfully) and to weather stories, other stuff, and of course our DSL went down in the midsts of it and while trying to get it back up I closed the darned window.

DSL is back, Gerry is fuming at Verizon and looking for a new company to go with!

I went out and bought a sketchbook and many colored pencils tonight. Very exciting! I have a bunch of projects I'm trying to prioritize, and also have some exceptional yarns I'd like to play with over the next few weeks. The past few days have passed in a haze of knitting, napping and reorganizing. Partly I'm still half collapsed from the teaching last week, partly I'm just so darned damp and dreary along with the weather!

Driving down the road tonight I found a broken old wicker chair I "rescued" and tossed in the back of the car - the kids were very excited - "You'll heal the chair with knitting, mommy!" Lovely thought!

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Sunday, July 11, 2004

Fried Knitting

Today were my last two classes - a continuation of Combination Knitting and Interesting Intarsias. Let's just say that the intarsias were less than fascinating by the time 2:00 rolled around! I was so tired, so fried, so at my wits' end - and my students were pretty stuperous, too!

I felt terrible that one of my students - either overwhelmed by me, the material, or both - left the class when we moved from one room to another. Damn.

I struggled on, teaching in a turgid, thick way - ick - and my students, so dutiful and so tired - relentlessly mixing colors and duplicate stitching. We all worked so hard to cut through the afternoon haze.

At the end of class, for some unknown reason, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began crying. Perhaps it was the fact a student had left, perhaps it was my belief that I hadn't taught as well as I might have, perhaps it was one of those tears-will-pop-up-at-the-oddest-times mother-loss moments. Who knows. What I do know is that I have never been - nor will I ever be - an attractive cryer.

On to dinner, where I met two very delightful women, one of whom had studied Chinese history and culture (which fascinates me). I loved hearing her go on about the subject. What a great dinner! We stayed in the dining hall chatting until about 7:00, when I left to clean out my classroom and pack the car.

Then on to the lounge where I watched Fox - Malcom in the Middle, The Simpsons and Arrested Development - all the time listening to a woman next to me ("I never watch TV except for HGTV and CNN") complain about what "crap" the shows were.

I told her I thought The Simpsons was one of the best written show on TV, and she became very quiet. At that moment there was a terrific intellectual sight gag on the show, she laughed out loud and was converted. It will take a bit longer to bring her around to Arrested Development (she said it was "modernist crap") but I felt a minor victory.

And finally, after all that, a deep and wonderful conversation with two other teachers about the meaning of fiber education in life - our goal as teachers to grow our souls as we enlighten our students, and other stuff that would sound like so much bull if we weren't all so sincere. It was the kind of conversation one can only have when one is pretty fried. The kind of conversations I used to have all the time in educational theatre (an oxymoron if there ever was one!)

And now we sleep - ah, dorm life...

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Both Ends

It's a shame when my idea of a really hot night is going out for a beer, then returning home to do my laundry and knitting with some of my students in the dorm lounge downstairs! Well, not a shame at all, and probably not so different from what I would have done when I was in college had I known how to knit when I went to Denison!

Today is my last day of classes - I have the remainder of my Combination Knitting Class in the morning, then a colorwork class, interesting intarsias, in the afternoon. I'm really looking forward to both of them - the students in my Combination class were AMAZING yesterday!

Only one of them was what I would have called an established knitter, the other three knew how to make a knit and one of them could make a purl stitch, but that was about it. The various levels of confidence they showed, though, was amazing!

Yesterday I took them through knitting and purling in the Combination method, then we practiced that by working in2x2 ribbing. We increased to create 4 sts in each knit column in the ribbing and by the end of class yesterday EVERYONE was cabling.

Today we'll continue with that, then move on to some bobbles and icord. I'll also teach them a few cast ons and bind offs - a good bag of tricks for women who, at noon yesterday, were rather dismissive of their ability to even make a knit stitch!

My goal is to plant the seed in their minds that they can really do ANYTHING in knitting that they want to - the key is to WANT to!
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Thursday, July 08, 2004

Gasping for Air

I just got back from having a beer with one of my students - what a fun night! I haven't laughed so hard in years, and as we got out of my car to walk back to the dorm I was literally gasping for air as we regaled each other with tales of past Karoke adventures!

I'm having a great time - so far I've just been teaching the one class (technique sampler bag) but it's going very well and my students are terrific! They're so excited when they master a new technique, and I'm very excited for them. This class is small, but it truly represents several archtypes of the students I tend to work with:

Mistress of the Knit - this is a student who knows quite a bit - maybe more than I - but she's kind enough to listen to my suggestions and open minded enough to learn from them. In this case the student is a fellow teacher who's sitting in on the class and she's accomodating us by finishing her bag early so we can use it as a demonstration model.

Avid Beginner - This student constantly describes herself as a "newbie" - but she's very good! The only thing she lacks is the legitimacy that time lends, and the proper names for some of the techniques she's already mastered (mistressed). She tends not to be as excited as a more established knitter at some shortcuts because she doesn't realize yet how much time or effort they'll be cutting out of the boring parts of knitting.

Encouraging & Enthusiastic - This knitter is quite good at what she does, and is able to teach us all a few tricks, but is thrilled to learn a few new items to add to her reperatoire. Most of my students fall into this category, and it's so gratifying to teach them!

Patiently Practiced - This student doesn't move as quickly as the other students, but doesn't let it get to her as she realizes that we all move at different speeds. In this class my patient student gamely works along, like the tortoise, and is getting her bag done slowly and steadily with a good spirit.

What a nice class!
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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Teaching in Humidity

Ah, it's humid here in Lewisburg, PA - the way it can only be in the land-locked mountains - this is Ohio Valley humidity, Parkersburg, WV humidity, with none of the breezes from an ocean or large body of water to cut through the thick air!

The rooms are air conditioned, though - as are the classrooms, dining hall - basically everything - so it's only very humid when walking from building to building (like when I'm carrying large baskets of yarn or books - yipes!)

Bucknell is a lovely campus - well maintained and the buildings are simple and architecturally graceful. It makes me think of Denison in it's scope and in the way it sits on a hill. My Technique Sampler Bag class today was wonderful - great students and a nice space. Actually, we sneaked into the Economics Dept. Faculty Lounge (the secretary is a sister fiber-holic) where we were able to strech out on nice sofas for our class. There's a tea kettle there so I'll bring Chai for tomorrow - ahh, almost like home!

I miss Gerry and the kids terribly - but it's nice to know I'm only 2+ hours away! If I really, really get homesick I can scoot on home for a quick kiss!

My Saturday morning class was cancelled, which is sad because it's a good class, oh, well... This evening there will be congregating in the lounge downstairs where I'll help some of my students through the tricky first part of the bag and also do some wire knitting to drum up some interest in future classes!

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Monday, July 05, 2004

Sad Lesson

Today Max had a sad lesson - and I guess I did, too.

Gerry had taken Hannah to the pool for swim team practice, and Max was at loose ends around the house. He asked me to go on a bike ride with him but I told him I was busy getting ready for my trip tomorrow. It was also killer humid. I told him he could ride his bike, but not to leave our yard or our neighbor's yard (driveways).

Max went a few houses down to a new neighbor's house, "showed his bike" to a workman there, then ran home to ride his other (small, old, red) bike. Here his story gets foggy, but it's already troubling enough that he was cozying up to some guy - probably a fine person but someone we don't know - a few houses away. The fact that he LEFT his bike there is very troubling. And then three "big kids" went by, two on bikes and 1 on roller blades, and they took the bike. We drove all over South Orange and part of Newark, no luck. Max was bereft. I don't know if you remember, but this was the bike that I got up at 5 in the morning the day after Thanksgiving to go get at a bargain rate. Too bad. It's going to be a looooong time before Max gets another new bike!

He was his usual cheerful self this evening when Dad took him and Hannah downtown for ice cream - he was pretty upset at the loss of his bike earlier, and even more so at the severe dressing down I gave him for leaving our property and chatting up a strange adult without Mom or Dad around. A day of hard lessons.

As we were driving around I asked Max what he learned and he said, "Never leave my bike outside, put it away..." I told him he also learned how bad it feels to have something taken, and that if he ever had the urge to steal anything he needs to remember how painful it is, that's why we never take things that don't belong to us. I hope that lesson sinks in, too - he's very empathetic, I think it will make sense.
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Queen of the Road

Tomorrow I pack up the car again and head out - this time for Creative Strands and the many classes I'll be teaching. Since I'm teaching on Wednesday, and since it's quite a drive, I'm going out on Tuesday so I can settle in and get my energy back up before I tackle my class.

This, of course, means childcare arrangements - they'll be having a sleepover with their good friend down the street (bless her mom!) so I'll drop them off around 3:00 and then take off for PA!

I always have mixed feelings about the trips - I do love teaching, and there's an excitement to being on the road. I find it easier to take the time in the evenings to sit and think, write, etc. - but I miss Gerry and the kids terribly, not to mention Butkis, Atticus and Pixie!! Butkis is limping again - we have a new cat in the neighborhood and they've been fighting - so if he doesn't feel better by tomorrow Gerry's taking him in to the vet's. Yesterday at a barbeque one of the guests had some 5 week old kittens she'd resuced from the town dump - she's had them for 4 weeks, they looked like rats when she found them - now they're drinking off of bottles, but they still fit in the palm of a hand. What cuties! I held one and fed him for a while, totally in love.

I had to keep telling myself, "Two cats is enough, two cats is ENOUGH!"
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Sunday, July 04, 2004

Dog Days

Actually, it's not that hot today - we've had a run of very nice weather- lovely and not too steamy for early July. I was thinking of that yesterday as I was helping a neighbor dig up some Iris rhyzomes - she gave me a bundle - and we both realized that for the past few years around the fourth it's been exceptionally hot. Not this year - wahoo!

Yesterday was my last home class until September - bittersweet. I love my students so much, it's so great to see them and such an inspiration to my creative juices to be presented with problems to fix. I guess I'll do more gardening this year than I have in past years - it seems to be crying out to me - I wonder if the losses of the past year have anything to do with my desire to see things grow all around my house?

Today is the parade in downtown South Orange - the BIKE parade! We love this, and the kids always take part. I've been attending it since my friends moved here almost 20 years ago, and it's one of the reasons we chose South Orange when we were looking for a home in NJ! This year my friend has taken as her theme "Dog Days" so we'll be loading up Atticus to attend the parade with us (I'm a bit worried about his propensity to try to dominate other dogs by barking at them and sometimes mounting them...) then we'll attend some of the fun activities at the Duck Pond (moon walk, face painting, the rag-time band, model boat races)

I love South Orange - especially at times like the 4th - what an amazing place to live, and right outside of NYC!
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Friday, July 02, 2004


Honestly, I'm not usually a material person, but I am just in LUST with these bags - and now they're here and (for the time being) MINE!

Aren't they FABulous??
Click on the image for a better picture
and for price and style information.

I'm doing this as much as an experiment as anything else - if I have interest in the bags and folks want to purchase them, I'll get more and carry them from my studio/class/home and also take them around when I teach at fiber festivals & workshops. (My students who are signed up for a class with me will get a 20% discount - woohoo!!!)

Whatever I have left I'm going to take to Creative Strands with me - I am so in love with these bags. I may just have to scam one for myself!

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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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