Thursday, September 30, 2004

Morning Ritual

Each morning I walk the kids to the bus after scooting them through their breakfast and shoe tying. This morning was so lovely - what a great Fall day! We usually get to the bus stop a few minutes before the bus arrives, enough time for the kids to drop their back packs for an impromptu game of tag, then when the bus rounds the corner they wait - impatiently - on the curb until the bus doors open (my rule, I don't want them to get smacked by the doors...)

Every morning Max is the last kid in line to get on the bus. And every morning just as he's putting his foot on the bottom step he stops, wheels around, rushes to me crying, "Kiss, KISS!" and gets one last kiss before leaping back onto the bus.

A nice ritual. I wonder how long he'll keep doing it... He'll be 7 in January.

Tomorrow I'm taking Hannah into NYC for her birthday. I'm taking her out of school (baaaad mommy) and we're going bowling in the Village, then bead shopping, then - if we have time and mommy feels flush - a horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park. Today on the way she was campaigning for Max to go too. This surprised me - lately she's been a bit jealous about what is hers and what is Max's, but I'm not sure if I want to take both kids out of school... It would definitely be a day to remember, though!

And I love the idea that she wants to share it with Maxie! Kiss, kiss!
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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

In Memory

James Charles

April 3 1959 - September 29, 2003

We love you and miss
you, Jimm

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

All Clear!

I hadn't written about this because - well - there just has to be a limit at some point and I think I've passed it.

Gerry had a colonoscopy yesterday - he'd been having some (how do I put this delicately...) bad symptoms that needed to be addressed. I had been gone so much this summer, and so involved in family trauma over the past year, that I feel I wasn't doing the nudging I should have been doing. Finally he made an appt for the procedure and had it done yesterday. All signs are very good - although some ulcers were noted - no polyps and no signs of the dreaded CC.

Gerry's mother and father BOTH had colon cancer, so it's something that's on our minds. It's actually what finally did my own mother in. I hadn't realized how deep down I was storing all of this worry about Gerry until he came out from the exam room - looking a little frazzled and very tired - so I could drive him home. He showed me the amazing images they took and printed out for him, showed me the ulcers, and told me the good news that he seems, for the most part, pretty darned good. Amen.

My cousin is also doing quite well with her chemo. She had round 3 last week and she seems to be some kind of amazing superwoman who still has relatively normal blood numbers even with so much poison in her system. She's lost her hair and is thinking of being Uncle Fester for Halloween this year. I love her so much - she truly is as close as a sister.

I was supposed to make a chemo cap for her - but every time I start to knit something it just looks like poop. I finally finished one hat that I'm sending to her tomorrow, but it doesn't look great to me. I'll keep trying. Funny how doing something that's REALLY important (definitely more important than having a sweater in some old magazine) is so hard!

I just finished my first home class in a long time - I love my students so much - tonight was a slight, spare class. Just 3 - but a nice start to get back into the teaching realm again. Thursday I have a class with 17 students at the South Orange/Maplewood Adult School. Yikes. Just before class I got a frantic call from the head of the Adult school asking,

- "Where ARE you!"
- "At home..."
- "But your class is starting now!"
- "No, my class at the Adult school starts on Thursday."
- "Oh - this isn't the quilting teacher...? Never mind..."

It felt good to be in the right place at the right time.
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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Knit 'n' Daven

Yesterday was Yom Kippur - a double whammy as it was also Shabbat - which means the dance mix of services (very long, but with a good beat...)

We don't belong to a temple out here in NJ anymore - the one we belonged to didn't seem able to accept the fact that their membership dues were too rich for our income. Every 3 months another bill would arrive from the temple, even though we'd stopped going because it felt awkward that we couldn't pay our fair share.

We had filled out the paperwork for 'special needs' - but it took 6 months for them to acknowledge that we'd applied - and another 3 months to tell us that we still owed $600/year and would have to reapply each year. In the mean time the bills kept coming and they tacked on a building fee of $1,200 - so we were a little out of our league again.

In Brooklyn, where we lived when we were first married and where I was first introduced to the kind of liberal and open minded Reform Judaism that seemed to dovetail so beautifully with my own Methodist upbringing, we were members of Kolot Chayeinu, which only had about 30 members when we went to our first High Holy Day services with them in 1993. This is a very special congregation, and I wish that we could still go each week, or find a shul with the same liberal, loving feeling out here in New Jersey - one that wouldn't insist we pay money we don't have to be members of the religious community.

Back to KC this year for Yom Kippur - back to seeing faces we hadn't seen in years, showing off the kids and celebrating the closing of the gates. Because the kids were a bit restless, we went up to a mezzanine area off of the main sanctuary (the services were held in a Church of Christ - how great is that!?) where we wouldn't bother other worshipers with our noisy children.

There's an admonishment against working "more than 3 stitches" on Shabbat, which has always made me feel so sad for observant knitters. Sad because while the men are downstairs davening (Yiddish for praying) how lovely it would be if the women could quietly say their own prayers as they knit away. In my own family I got in trouble several times for sewing on a Sunday so I understand the feeling of constraint - and promised that I would never isolate and sanctify (kasher) a day by prohibiting something that is so lovely as creating fabric.

So there sat Methodist I in a church-cum-synagogue, with my Jewish husband and Jewish children (if one accepts the Reform view of patrilinear descent), celebrating the closing of the book for another year and finding great peace in my yarn and stitches. It's hard to tell who's relatives were spinning faster in their graves. Or maybe they're all happy about this mixing...? Spinning shouldn't be a bad thing -

We arrived in time for me to write my mother and brother's name for the Yizkor service - where those who have died in the last year (5765) are remembered. My mother and brother both died in the period of the last Jewish year, and I felt a sense of closure as their names were read that I hadn't felt all year. My kids were on my lap, my husband was hugging me, and I was finishing a little crocheted bag I'll give to Hannah for her birthday on Sunday.

The music at the service was so lovely - sung beautifully by the congregation's de facto female cantor - harmonized by all of the women who'd memorized Debbie Friedman records at summer camp - and me. It was lovely to wrap my arms around my children as we sang the Aveinu Malkeinu, all of us swaying up in the darkened balcony. Then the end of the service, me still crocheting automatically to the rhythm of the prayer, all of us thrilled to hear the shofar.

I thought of how many parts of that sacred moment would be considered heresy to an orthodox Jew, and how sad that we find so many ways to divide ourselves. I guess Kosher means Separate for a reason...
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Saturday, September 25, 2004


There's just enough of a slight chill in the air this morning to make me think that it's not too long before the retreat in Vermont! The exact location is Waitsfield, VT - I'm SO looking forward to this!

But before that I have to prepare (for):

Hannah's 8th birthday party next week
(we're making fimo beads and jewelry)
My Tuesday class starting at my home
My Thursday class starting at the South Orange Middle School
(so far 17 have signed up - yikes!)
My classes at the NY Sheep & Wool Fest in Rhinebeck
(booklets to print - kits to make - they've increased the wire class to 25!)
Sketches due for IK projects
Knitty projects due
(I'm going to submit again for the first time in months - life has been so nuts!)
Photos of my chair kit due for Vogue
(yes, Vogue - finally a bit of interest, but not in a sweater, in a chairkit for editorial mention!)
Info packets for the retreat attendees with maps, schedules, etc.
(These will go out by the end of the week)

I'm sure there's more - I can't think of it now.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Leaving L.A.

Tonight I take that big bird East on the redeye. I sound like a 70's crime drama.

Speaking of 70's, my friend who works on That 70's Show let me go on the set last night and took a few shots of me in the "basement" and the "kitchen" Reading Tiger Beat magazine. Cool. Way cool.

It was SO great to see him, we had a terrific dinner at a little bistro in the Valley (I have no clue what I'm saying) and then I drove home past a gigantic hand holding a car with "Hand Car Wash" written on the side. I was almost 5 blocks past it before it even registered what I'd seen. Perhaps I've been here too long?

Today I visited a few yarn shops I'd been meaning to peruse all week - The Knit Cafe on Melrose is as adorable, friendly and charming as I'd hoped! I spent a bit of time teaching some of the folk there my plaid technique and had a cup of coffee with the owner. What a great shop - nice variety and LOTS of terrific books. I also LOVED all of the beautiful little swap meet touches, popsicle stick lamp, butterfly mobile - a great place to drop in!

I went on to Brentwood to visit Jennifer Knits. It was a smaller shop, and I think the book signing this past weekend left the shop a bit messier than it is usually. I was hoping to see J, but she was "in the storage area" wherever that is, so I missed her!

Then driving - driving - all over to see what I may have missed. Through Bel Air, Beverly Hills (I'm at the Beverly Hills Library right now) and I'll finish by finding a Borders to buy another book for the trip home and having dinner before turning in my car. I've really enjoyed this week! Gerry sent me a photo email of the kids selling lemonade in front of the house - too cute! It must be warmer there than it was when I left. Looking forward to some Autumn weather, it's getting hot here from the Santa Ana winds.

Amazing Race SidebarAnd, how psyched am I that Chip & Kim won The Amazing Race? If the moms couldn't win, then I'm glad the parents did! Wahoo!! It made me laugh to hear Colin keep talking about "karma" and how Chip was going to "get his" when Chip is such a nicer guy than Colin could ever be!
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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The Adventure Continues!

Today I attended the Dr. Phil show - the topic was "Is your child a serial killer" - lots of yuks there. Pretty dismal, actually, and disturbing. They confiscated my bag - no books, printed matter or anything else could be taken in. They wouldn't let me take my little ball of Noro Daria and a size G crochet hook. Dismal. What a waste of a day - 10:00 am - 3:30 and no knitting, just lots of sitting. No reading (except the 8 page Dr. Phil newsletter which was about as newsy as a 5 year old Readers Digest and used up a full 20 minutes of the waiting time!)

Oh, well - you get what you pay for! I should have gone to see Sky Captain instead!

Don't get me wrong, I like Dr. Phil's show, but if they're going to make you wait for hours and hours and hours, I don't see why you can't bring a book to read! They said my crochet hook was a security threat.

Then on to Burbank to visit Unwind, a really sweet little shop on Hollywood Way. I'm getting to know my way around pretty well... The owner, Stephanie, was very gracious and a blast to sit and talk with for a few minutes. Honestly, at this point I'm so fried that I barely remember my middle name, but what a lovely, clear, roomy, spacious and calm shop it was! I could have stayed there all day sitting and knitting (or - in my case today - crocheting!)

Careful, I'm armed and dangerous. Automatic assault weapons are legal, but watch out for those crochet hooks!
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Monday, September 20, 2004

On Set!

I'm waiting for my closeup! I just had my makeup done, I'm in a new shirt that I bought last night at Target (LOVE Target) and looking pretty snazzy!

We've rehearsed the segment several times, plus my extra stuff on cabling without a cable needle and changing colors by using the tail to knit the 2nd stitch. Cakey stuff, but interesting...

Everyone here is so nice - apparently they're taping a bunch of shows, then they're all off for a long, long time and perhaps will be taping again in the Spring. Tonight I'm having dinner with a good friend, tomorrow the DR PHIL show (woo hoo - maybe I just won't remove my makeup...) and then dinner with a very dear friend from Undergrad.

I was so psyched yesterday to drive by the Shriner auditorium early in the day, then go home and SEE the emmy's that night! Any my favorite shows won - aways exciting. How great is Curb Your Enthusiasm? And the AMAZING RACE won.


As I was writing in my blog they came and got me for the show - it went REALLY well! We had a great time, lots of laughter and fun - and the sound guy, camera guy, etc., all told me that I did great. They probably tell that to everyone, but it sure made me feel terrific!

The other "knitsters" on the show were very nice, lovely women, and Vickie's mom was the other guest on the show. We did my sling chair, plus cabling without a cable needle. There is SO MUCH more that we could have done!

Afterward I packed up, had lunch with the crew and now I'm waiting to have dinner with a LA friend. I think I'll go wait at the beach!

I called home and spoke to Gerry and the kids. I miss them like CRAZY!
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Saturday, September 18, 2004

Lazing in Redondo Beach

Yesterday I met the Knitty Gritty folks - the producer I'm working with, Stefanie, is so nice and the staff is incredibly hard working!

We went over my segment and some other things that I'll be doing (cabling without a cable needle, etc.) and just sat around and had a beer after shooting ended for the day. It reminded me of my Martha days in some ways (although a bit more relaxed!)

Monday we tape, and it will be really fun!

Today I teach at Wildfiber. I dropped by yesterday and was charmed by the store, by the colors and the bright, pleasant layout - and by the lovely store owner, Mel. Just terrefic. I'm very excited to teach there today!

I'm visiting all of the yarn shops I can while I'm here to line up gigs for my Spring California knitting tour. If you know of a shop that you think might be interested in having me teach a class, email me and let me know!

Today I'll go back to the beach for a bit, have some more latte, and spend time with my lovely hostess and her amazing daughter! I have always loved kids, but this little girl is so sweet and charming and SMART - a brilliant little girl who is fun to be around! I'm very lucky that I'm staying with this family!
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Friday, September 17, 2004


I got here yesterday - woohoo! The friend I'm staying with is so kind, and her daughter is so lovely! This place is beautiful - as soon as I arrived yesterday I got a cup of coffee, went to the beach and just sat for a bit and regrouped.

Yesterday I had the nicest time at L'atelier in Redondo Beach - great knitting and really kind folks to help you out.

Today I'll wander up to Wildfiber and scope it out - it's where I'm teaching tomorrow. I also have a 'rehearsal' at 2:00 with the Knitty Gritty folks, so it will be good to get to meet them.

And I wore make up today. I feel like I'm playing a part in a movie, not myself. Hopefully over the next few days I'll settle down more and feel at ease and more 'myself'

I'm at Kinkos again - I could have used my friends computer but I wanted to get some business stuff done and it just seems better to keep it together in one spot. They have free laptop use here, but the only ethernet cable had been "borrowed" by some guy who set up his computer, then went across the street to get coffee! Annoying. At twenty cents a minute I'm typing fas
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Loose Ends!

I'm spending most of today tying up loose ends, finishing pieces for the show, trying to put together work to take with me on the road. Flying is a lot more complicated than driving when it comes to packing!

I'm taking a bunch of my stuff in a big box, taped shut. I hope that's okay... Actually, we have a trunk in the garage that I may go get out and re-pack my stuff in that. It would be easier for the feds to open and check it out. When I travel witih knitting needles, spools of wire and plyers my luggage is ALWAYS opened and checked.

A neighbor is driving me to the airport (what a gem she is!) and I will be flying out tomorrow morning at 8:45 and the friend I'm staying with just sent me a wonderful list of yarn shops I'll pass from the airport to her house! I may even visit the beach tomorrow for some seaside knittin'

One of my goals during my visit is to line up shops and guilds that might have me teach when I return to southern CA in the Spring. I have a few places lined up, but would like to get a full dance card to make the trip profitable.

I'm taking my husband's laptop, which has wi-fi (I didn't know this in Michigan or I could have web browsed at the fairgrounds! A neighboring camper was wi-fi equipped and I found out on the last day that he would have been happy to let me hang out near their camper to check my email!)

Anyway, apparently I can take this baby to any number of wi-fi hotspots and get online - what a concept! Between this and my camera phone I'm amazingly hi-tech these days...

If anyone knows of a yarn shop in So Cal that might be interested in having me teach in the Spring (dates aren't set in stone yet, I'm thinking late Feb/Mid March) I'd love to know about it!

Odd to think that tomorrow I'll be in the air at this time!
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Monday, September 13, 2004

Another Week...

Monday - yet another week - week...

The kids are on the bus, I'm working through the morning emails and getting todays shipments ready. I have several projects to complete before Wednesday (I leave Thurs morning) and have decided that instead of shipping a box of stuff ahead I'll take it with me as a securely taped box to check in when I get to the airport. The box has a chair in it, otherwise I'd just put all of the stuff in my suitcase.

To say I'm excited about the trip is speaking mildly - I'm really psyched and also feeling a big guilty about spending the money and being away from the family, especially over the holiday. My mother in law has offered to take the kids on Wed & Thurs so they can be out at her house and also particpate in a Rosh HaShana celebration. Woohoo!

On all of my previous trips this year (except for family emergency trips) the net gain has been great enough to assuage my guilt at being away. This time, at least initially, it's a total money drain. I'm paying for the trip, the hotel, the car, any all my expenses while out there. The TV show picks up nothing (damn!) I've spoken with other folks who've been on the show, generally their publisher picks up the $$, so I guess I need to look at it that way. I am my own publisher, therefore I need to pick up this tab.

In the long run I think it will be an exceptional opportunity to raise my profile as a teacher and author - a good opportunity. This weekend my friend Holly dyed my hair and gave me a cut (she used to be a top colorist in NYC) and I love how I look! I have some new stuff to wear and may or may not finish the sweater I'm working on to wear on the show. I'm down to the sleeves... Even if I do finish it, though, there's a chance they won't want me to wear it and will choose another of the outfits I'm taking.

Obviously I'm babbling, so it's time to close this entry - wish me luck to finish what needs to be done in the next 3 days, and a safe trip, and a useful trip - and fun at the Dr. Phil Show (yes, I got tickets for next Tuesday - I'm such a tourist!)
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Friday, September 10, 2004

Drug Trash

Yesterday was a whirlwind of hurry up and wait... Long periods of boredum punctuated with screaming panic.

I had a doctor's appt to check my blood pressure. At this point I should tell you about the health thing my husband has signed us up for - you pay each month to belong to it, then you put a certain amount of money into an escrow account. It's not health insurance, but what it does do is permit you to visit certain doctors, then you are charged what the insurance company would pay for the visit. So, when I visit my pullmonary specialist for Asthma instead of paying $250 per visit (as I had to do last year) now we pay a mere $90. Peanuts.

So yesterday I was visiting my 'regular' doctor for a blood pressure checkup. I've always had great BP, but in the past year it's gotten a little out of control (gee, wonder why...?) and I'm on medication for it now. At the end of my visit - which involved over 2 hours of waiting in the waiting room and then in the exam room, glad I had my knitting - my doctor very kindly gave me some drug samples of my asthma medication and my blood pressure meds. This is nice of him - and a way that I think many uninsured folks get their meds.

I left his office at 2:00 and thought I'd have time to swing by the Short Hills Mall to pick up some make-up at Sephora before my 3:30 student arrived.

I rarely use makeup, but I have to wear it when I'm on TV next week, so I figured I should start practicing... And it's a tax deduction since I'm only using it for my TV appearance (I hate makeup!) My cousin had raved about a certain brand that was only available at QVC and at Sephora and doesn't feel like makeup, so I thought I'd run past and pick some up.

Reeling from the price I returned to my car and realized it was pretty trashy inside. (NOTE: The makup was $22, I just realized $4 more than it costs on the website... I'll be returning it today along with other things that I didn't need but felt oddly compelled to buy - aren't makeup departments funny that way...)

I figured I'd clean up my car a bit before I drove away - luckily my drugs from the doc had come in two bags, so I consolidated them into one bag and put all of the car trash in the other. Then I proceeded to toss a few cups, some napkins and the little bag of trash in a nearby garbage can. Or so I thought.

As I arrived home and carried my bag of drugs into the house I thought, "How odd that there would be a used candy wrapper with this medicine..." Of course, in my stupor over spending $22 for a foundation I'd thrown out the WRONG BAG. But I had a student coming in 5 minutes!

Luckily my student is also a friend - and someone who understands this kind of madness. She was game enough to jump into the car and rush with me back to the garbage can - where I found the drugs right on top - no one had thrown anything else out since me. I guess folks at the Short Hills Mall don't make much trash.

I artistically arranged the drugs on the garbage can for a camera photo op - and as soon as I snapped the picture the garbage man came by and emptied the can. 5 more minutes and my drugs would have been part of a landfill in Essex county.
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Thursday, September 09, 2004


I had a flood of creativity yesterday afternoon - probably the huge VOGUE that I bought last week finally catching up with me. I love seeing the couture garments and envisioning ways to recreate them as knit garments.

Here's something I've been working up for Hannah that I'd like to extrapolate into a grown woman garment:

Click here to open image

And now I'm off to shower and get ready for the doctor. Then home for more knitting. I have to re-knit a fiesta ware set, make some new wire jewelry and get some nice wire kits together, make a nice wire/nepalese silk headband and go over my swatches again. And get some submissions together for IK next week...
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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Rain, rain...

It was absolutely INSANE this morning with the rain! I ended up driving the kids a block to the bus stop (and having another kid and a parent pile in the car) to wait in humid dryness for the bus to arrive. Now it's stopped raining and it's lovely outside. Go figure.

I haven't written for a few days because I've been SO overwhelmingly busy with finishing pieces for the KG appearance, working up some new designs and trying to find time to work on some new writing. Plus I'm having a bit of residual gloom and sadness over my birthday (it was great - don't get me wrong - but it just felt so odd to be without folks I sort of took for granted!)

I received some lovely hand spun from Bess - it was from roving that I won at Creative Strands and - not being a spinner - was saved from repeating my "Look, I have a giant hairball!" comedy routine by Bess. She took it, spun it, and has sent my portion back to me as a beautiful birthday gift. THANKS BESS!!

(It's sitting on a chair I finished last night for KG)

Wow - the skies have opened up and it's VOMITING water once again

And - what big news have I forgotten! My honey gave me a picture phone for my birthday!!! It's a cute little thing, I've already moved my address book into it and it can take photos! Actually, when he re-upped for our cell service he got this phone and a matching phone for free (he said he worked a deal) so I don't feel bad about the expense. And, of all the folks I know, I think a phone camera will actually be quite useful for me for business reasons - woohoo!

The picture above was taken with my phone, then emailed to me. It was a test - only a test...
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Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Best Birthday Gift Ever...

It's the fact that on the day I turn 43, "43" is leaving town with all of his right wing cronies. Don't let the Verazzano hit you on your way out of the bay.

Say it loud, say it proud - "FOUR MORE MONTHS!"

Sorry folks - I try not to be terribly, overtly political as it clouds the knitting issue. I'm overwhelmed these days with life issues - things that wouldn't really be problems if I lived in a developed nation like Canada. We live in the richest country in the world - really? Where's my health care? Why do I have to beg my doctors for sample drugs because the real drugs I need cost hundreds of dollars?

Old song, sorry - I'll try to learn some new lyrics.

The jacket I'm making for myself is going very well - just the sleeves to do then I'll be done. I have a few things to work up before I fly to California, and a major submission deadline at the end of next week. I also have set a deadline of 9/10 for reworks on a few chapters of 2 books I'm juggling. This part is so hard - it's difficult to have to send chapters to someone so they can cut them apart and say, "Well, this isn't right for us because..."

It's like trying to fix someone up by showing them a picture of a left earlobe of their intended date. Unless they're an earlobe freak, it's probably not going to be an easy sell.

My stars are not in alignment these days, I think I'll lay low for a few days and let the beautiful weather wash over me while I knit on a jacket for myself. One thing I have learned is that you can't force inspiration. It will come when it comes, you can only make sure you're home to let it in because it doesn't leave a note or a voicemail. So I'll hang out and take my cell phone with me in the hammock.
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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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