Saturday, April 30, 2005

4 am

... and I am up with this throbbing pain. It was so bad yesterday that Gerry wanted to take me to the emergency room. I've been entertaining myself with online disaster stories of missing digits due to manicure mishaps.

I've been getting manicures for over 20 years and this has never happened. The salon I go to here in NJ is terrific, and they have a sterilizer that they put the instruments in. One salon I used to visit in NYC had each customer purchase their own little set of manicure tools that they kept in a ziplock bag for the next visit. However this time I wasn't as fortunate, ouch!

Usually when I can't sleep I sit and knit - but no such luck tonight. I'll sit and read (what a concept!) and try not to worry too much since worrying doesn't help at all. C'mon antibiotics - do your stuff!

Sadly, I'm going to have to cancel my trip to DC to see my sister in law. Hannah's devastated and I feel like a fool for even coming up with the idea. I had no idea, though, how draining this hand pain would be. I looked into taking the train down to DC instead of driving, but it's rather pricey and, anyway, I really just feel like resting and letting the antibiotics do their stuff!
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Friday, April 29, 2005

Wounded

And right where it hurs - my right thumb!

Is there a digit that is used more than the stalwart right thumb? Especially if one knits, crochets and writes for a living?

Whilst in LA I thought I'd do the West Coat thing and get a mani/pedicure. Sure, my feet look great - and so did my hands until my thumb began swelling and oozing buckts of unsightly muck.

I hoped it would get better, but alas - no soap. As a matter of fact, it became so much worse that even sleeping is hard because I keep dreaming that I'm caught in a chinese handcuff and have to knaw my thumb off to escape.

I finally saw the doc yesterday - he said, "Yep, that's an infected thumb - I'll bet that really hurts!" Why yes, Doctor, yes it does.

So I'm on strong anti biotics (apparently my the infection was spreading down my thumb and onto my wrist. I never do things by halves...

And I paid $40 for a miniscule tube of antibiotic cream that hasn't helped much so far (okay, I've only been applying it for 6 hours...)

But even with the most painful thumb in South Orange, I sent off some projects today along with a plethora of books to individual customers and to Amazon, B&N and some yarn shops. I also started my next crochet project for IK - this is a REALLY easy scarf & headband set that is worked in hdc so it resembles a ribbed scarf, very cool. It's quite difficult to manuver the hooks and needles with my sore, sore thumb, though. Quel trouper, n'est ce pas?

DC for Saturday
My sister in law works for the American Heart Association and has to be in DC for some Heart event, so I'm driving down with Hannah to visit - it's been almost a year since I've seen her (mom's funeral) and I think it's really vital that we keep a relationship going. Mom and Jim would really want that. So off to DC for the day, lunch and some sightseeing with Karen before she has to do her job at some AHA dinner, and I'll drive home with my little girlie!
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Back to a Sort of Normal

Finally, two weeks after arriving home from my extended 2 week teaching trip, I'm almost back to my old energy level. Granted, my 'normal' level of energy is probably overdrive for many folks, but it's the speed at which I'm comfortable. Too fast and I crash, too slow and I lose my balance.

Yesterday I dropped off almost 3 baskets of clothing to a goodwill drop, took a carload of boxes to our local recycling center, mailed a few packages, wrote a pattern, tweaked and sent off several other designs, came home and finished two sleeves and most of the body finishing on this crocheted coat, and taught my Tuesday night class (which was quite small...)

A very good and rich day.

I'm loving the crochet projects I'm working on - it's a nice counterpoint to the knitting. It takes more out of my hands, but it does move faster so by the time my wrists are screaming I'm ready to stop. Knitting takes less out of me in a physical sense, but the progress is generally a bit slower.

Here's a hip length jacket that I'm also working on for the same issue.

The more I use the technique of scanning my swatches and using the repeating stitch pattern as a pattern in my computer sketches, the better I like it! And for me the big bonus is that the sweaters actually come out looking VERY much like the original sketch. Groovy. I've always felt that design is not so much a function of whether you're an excellent artist, but rather how you can COMMUNICATE the idea. If you need to cut and paste images from magazines onto a stick figure - and it works - then that's just fine!
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Monday, April 25, 2005

I've Created a Monster!

Some of you may wonder why I'm not posting photos like I used to...

Ever since I've switched to OSX I feel as though I'm using someone else's computer - things are hard to find, it's just not as intuitive as I remember. There are pluses - some apps work better - but on the whole I suddenly feel as though I've become some kind of old foggie who is struggling to comprehend the internets. This is not true, but it feels this way.

Anyway, that's not the monster I was referring to... I got off on that tangent because I'd like to post more photos of the kids, of my knit stuff, etc., but the only good way I can make it work with whatever new constraints are currently in play is by using a link to the image.

I was talking about my little boy - the yarnwinder.

Last night I was rolling some skeins and he asked if he could. He always wants to, and I say, "No, dear..." thinking that he'll screw it up. But he persisted so I showed him the trickes to opening the skeins, finding the end yarns, getting the skein on the swift so that it comes off easily - and he mastered it in no time and rolled about 12 balls of yarn for me!

I realize it's not rocket science - but it sure makes my life easier! I have both kids signed up for kids crochet classes at the Maryland Sheep & Wool fest this coming weekend. I haven't told them yet because I generally wait to the last moment for stuff like this in case there's a necessary change in plans, but it will be a lot of fun for them!
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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Balance

Two things happened in the past few days that make me reflect on my journey to the land of established hand knit designers (are we there yet?)

1. I was approached by VK and by a yarn company to either resubmit something I'd sent in months ago (which was rejected at the time) or to submit to an independent third party (a new fashion-forward, more trendy knit mag). I take these both as good signs that I'm being thought about when editors get together to think of new directions for upcoming issues.

2. I received an email from a fan who innocently used the phrase, "...for a period of time there, you were quite prolific!!!!" - which was really nice of her, but also made me feel like I'd somehow slept through my glory days. Which, of course, isn't true - life always has interesting twists and turns, ups and downs, and I love a good roller coaster ride! (6 weeks until Cedar Point!)

The summer I turned 40 I thought about traveling around the country and trying to ride 40 different roller coasters to celebrate. I couldn't make it happen - but maybe someday...

I need to step up my computer savvy in dealing with the blogs. Someone kindly wrote to me about how to set up my blog to feed so that folks can tap into it, but of course in my busy past few months I've mislaid that email. Anyone else - any suggestions? The sound I hear is the rushing of technology past my computer.
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Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Silence of the Crash

I flew into Newark last Tuesday night (and boy, were my arms tired), took a cab ride home and was in bed by 10:30. I can hardly express how wonderful it felt to wake up the next morning to the hugs and kisses of my kids (they actually had to wake ME up - all week - because I was still on LA time...)

I love my kids and my husband. I am so happy to be home. And, of course, Atticus and Butkis were thrilled to see me, and vice versa.

Life is good.

The cold made a return appearance on Wednesday - I'm in crash mode after my trip and deadlines, so that's when a cold generally creeps up. My beginning knitting class totally blew me away on Thursday when I showed up (after a 3 week break) to find that EVERY ONE OF THEM had done something amazing with their knitting while I was gone... Either a sweater was partially finished, several scarves were made or great work had gone into reworking swatches to perfect techniques, they really made me proud! My voice gave out halfway through class on Thursday so the class graciously allowed me to end early.

I'll be at Panera this Monday night again - I'll be late, though (Max has his baseball team photo at 7:20, so I'll be there closer to 7:45) and I'm looking forward to seeing knitting friends I haven't seen in a month!

I'm home until late May, when I leave to teach in Ohio at the Great Lakes Fiber Show. We've rented a cabin in Marblehead for the same time, plus a week, so Gerry and the kids will drive out separately and settle into our vacation digs while I finish up teaching. Then a week on Lake Erie, trips to Cedar Point and Put In Bay, and maybe even a trip to Toledo so the kids can see where mom went to elementary school and where mom grew up. Gerry says there's a branch of COSI (science museum) in Toledo, so that will make the trip very worthwhile!

If anyone in Toledo, Cleveland or points between has a shop they'd like me to teach at, I'd be up for considering a busman's holiday with a day or half day of classes while in the Buckeye State.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Held up...

Here I sit at LAX, it's almost noon and obviously there's been a delay in my 8:30 flight. Just think, I could have been tooling around in the sunshine instead of lugging my laptop case and heavy travel handbag around!

I stayed with friends in Culver City last night (about 10 minutes from the Airport) so I was pretty much still asleep when I arrived. I'm booked on the 12:50, which should get me in much later than anticipated.

Class at my home is cancelled tonight!!

If any of you show up, sadly, I will not be there... So sad...

I am so looking forward to seeing my kids that I can taste it (and this wacky keyboard on this pay-by-the-minute internet kiosk is ridiculous) and I miss Gerry terribly. Soon... soon...

My hosts last night not only had a mac, but had the applications I needed to finish up my instructions for one of my IK sweaters. I got a lot of good work done last night while my friend tutored a student for their bar mitzvah and her husband fixed dinner - a lovely evening!

... and soon I will be caught up entirely!
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Monday, April 11, 2005

Bottles of Water and a Tin Foil Jacket

I feel as though I've just finished a marathon - and I didn't even carbo load before!

When last I wrote I was in Encinitas, feeling much better and preparing to drive up the coast to LA for classes. Somehow in my nyquil/theraflu induced stupor I forgot that I had a day of teaching on Friday (WHY was I thinking I had an extra 'free day in the week?) but thankfully late on Thursday I realized my mistake!

Friday morning I was up at 5:00 to drive to LA to teach at Black Sheep Knittery. It's a lovely place - a narrow and well appointed knit shop with a great selection and a wonderful shop owner & staff (hi Kristal & Amy!) My classes there were small - it would be hard to fit a lot of folks into the shop - but they were very rewarding and I feel that those who attended learned so much!

After a finishing class and a lace class, I hurried over to Unwind in Burbank, CA to - well - unwind! And, in keeping with my insane mental block, I forgot that I had a class there that evening. Oh, dopey me!

The class was knitting with wire, which is a very intensive class for me to teach. When I teach I'm rather like the Empath on Star Treck who absorbed others' pain. I absorb their frustration, and try to turn it into understanding. On a topic like wire knitting, the frustration level can be high. This class, though, was pretty amazing! Everyone did very well, everyone finished at least part of their piece - and except for a few who arrived late to the class I was able to add the findings (hooks/eyes) to the necklaces so that for the rest of the weekend folks would turn up every now and then at the store with glittering, knitted baubles around their necks!

I taught 5 classes at Unwind (1 on Friday, 2 each on Sat and Sun) and, except for my Cabling without a Cable Needle class on Sun morning (you can visit the blog of one of my students, Crazy Aunt Purl for an overview of the class and a less than flattering photo of me. Let's face it - a flattering photo of me would involve major air brushing and surgery.

3 classes of 12 folks, 1 class of 7 and 1 class of 15 - 58 folks total - a long weekend!

I stayed with Stephanie, the wonderful owner of Unwind, and had a chance to meet her great family! I didn't see her husband much as he seems to be as busy as Stephanie is with several jobs and law school finals - but I did get to play with Mia, and she made me laugh so much! After a week+ of hotels it was nice to have some human contact!

Every day I feel better - the cold haunts me, but it's receding so I'm happy. I will be happier yet to arrive home and snuggle into my own bed after (of course) teaching my own weekly class a few hours after I get home on Tuesday.

Did I mention that I'm late in getting my patterns to Interweave Knits? Oy.
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Better!

I went to bed yesterday at 3:30 with Nyquil, was up and down at various times taking other stuff (coldeze mostly, and some sore throat stuff, and a LOT of tea and the chicken soup) and now I feel MILES better!

I'm leaving in a few minutes for my classes today - my only worry is that my voice won't hold up, but I'm sure that my body will. By the end of the 2nd class yesterday I was sitting and rocking back and forth to keep from getting dizzy. Lovely. How nice for my students. I wish I could make it up to them!
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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Ill

Of course I'd get a bad cold.

Last night dinner was so wonderful - amazing, really! The beach, the surf, the excellent steelhead (a fish I'd never had before) but by the end of the meal my nose was running like a sieve.

I woke up at 2:00 with a dreadful sore throat, aches, stuffy nose - the whole goya beanery.

After stocking up on ColdEze, theraflu and cloraseptic strips for my throat, I was able (just) to teach my two classes today, although I had to cut the first one short by 1/2 hour, and cut a full hour off the second class. Then home to collapse with nyquil.

Now it's 9:00 pm and after 6 hours of rest I feel much, much better. Not excellent, but better. I'm sure I can get through classes tomorrow, then I don't teach again until Friday in Los Angeles.

I think I must have caught this thing while flying, then sitting outside in the cool night air last night for drinks before dinner was the final nail in the coffin. I'm relying on the coldeze (it's been recommended by so many friends) and - with enough tea (and the delicious chicken soup that the coordinator of this event brought me this afternoon...) I think I'll be fine.

It makes me think, though, what an awkward situation it is to be flown out somewhere to teach, and then to be unable to fulfill the obligation. Aside from feeling like garbage about it, it also brings up contractural obligations and the pain of disappointing students.

One very good thing was I was able to give my lecture on Tuesday to a FULL house and it was very well received. They laughed, they cried, and then they laughed again. Yes, I can turn any audience into a mass of manic-depressive disorder. I brought 50 books, thinking this would last me my whole trip, but sold out after my lecture so now I'm bookless for the rest of the trip. I just felt too lousy today to coordinate with my husband to send out another case of books, and I may have missed the time frame where I could get the books sent out at a low enough cost to make it pay. Oh, well, it's a good problem to have - better than the headache of carrying back 50 books to NJ!
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Get the Moving Van!

I am in love with Encinitas.

Today I taught (actually lectured) at the North Coast Knitters Guild in Encinitas. Last night I stayed at a lovely hotel right on the ocean (well, sort of "on" the ocean, I have an ocean view) and just had a spectacular day!

I am loving the convertible much more than I thought I would. Just pushing the button and having the top automatically go down is worth the price of admission!

Anyway, this Encinitas place is lovely - amazing - beautiful and the people are so nice! We went out to dinner this evening and I've seldom had a better meal - I'm SO looking forward to the two more days of classes that I'll be teaching tomorrow and Thursday.

Today I also FINALLY finished the brother / sister sweater set - I knit the collar on the girl's sweater, added the hook closure and blocked it. The boy's sweater was blocked, but required a lace-up tie which I created using metal eyes (as in hooks and eyes) and then lacing a twisted cord made up of all of the colors in the sweater through them. I sent them home, they should be there in plenty of time for the photoshoot on Thursday - I wish I could be there! The kids (Hannah and Max) will be modeling the sweaters, they'll shoot them for Interweave in NYC, in the Village. It will be a fun day for them -

Off to bed! I talked so much today - and we sat outside this evening in the chilly evening ocean air - so I'm nursing a sore throat. I have nice, hot tea, lots of Vitamin C and - best of all - a comfortable bed. Excellent!
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Monday, April 04, 2005

Neglect

Hey Folks!

I've been neglecting you! Not because of pique or laziness, more because I haven't been near a computer to write an entry!

So I'm taking some of my time before I leave for LA/San Diego today to write a bit about TKGA/CGOA Fiber Arts Market.

I stayed at the Scanticon, which is part of the whole Valley Forge Convention Center complex. My first room was very hot, so I moved to a nicer room - with climate control (yeah!) and enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't have cable at home, so it was a delight to be able to watch the HBO documentary on Air America Radio last week - good timing!

My classes were excellent - the students were engaged and engaging - they worked so hard and were quite focused. It was everything that a teacher could hope for, although I felt myself getting a little more distant from reality as the weekend wore on. It was good to be home and kiss my kids and husband and sleep in my own bed last night!

The fiber market was much smaller than I'm used to seeing at Stitches, but oddly I found much more than I wanted to buy! I think this is the WalMart factor. When I walk into a Walmart (which I don't do anymore) I feel overwhelmed and sometimes I'm paralyzed by the wide selection of 15 different home freshners or two complete aisles of hair care products. I become so overwhelmed that I can't remember what I went in to buy and sometimes end up walking out with bags full of stuff I really didn't want.

But when I go into a realistically sized store I am able to focus better, I see more stuff that I like (because someone has already sifted through a lot of the - well - garbage) and I'm not as overwhelmed and exhausted. I end up leaving stores like this with smaller bags of things I REALLY want (and am willing to spend more $$ on these things!)

That's how this fiber market was - a narrower selection of vendors, but a wider selection of stuff I'd actually like to buy and take home!

I'll write more about that later - I just wanted to touch base before I fly off to CA and may (or may not) have access to internet while I'm there!
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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



Chullo-licious


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