Tuesday, June 28, 2005


News Flash!

The papers aren't signed yet (so why in the world am I writing...?) but I've been approached by and have agreed to write a book on Knitting With Wire for an actual publisher. Yes, someone with offices in New York with elevators and everything!

At this point the project looks like it will be tips, how to's and at least 20 projects (all jewelery) for the knitter to work up with wire. I'm very nervous, but quite happy - actually thrilled! - and sort of not believing it.

Is another knitting with wire book needed? Who knows... I like Nancie Wiseman's book a lot, but I'm hoping this will fill a void for a resource for many hand knit wire projects. We'll see... I feel like it's still pretty much an open market, and given the interest in and success of my knitting with wire classes, I'm hopeful that this book will be popular!
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Straight Up.

So Paula's been suffering too I feel her pain. Really.

My ducks are in a row, finally I have my medical receipts (it takes FOREVER to get those things from our TPA - which is cheap-white-trash speak for faux-insurance)and I'll be sending a registered letter to the offending salon in Pacific Palisades asking them to cover my out of pocket expenses incurred due to their negligence. I'm not asking for pain and suffering, I'm not asking for loss of income (and believe me, I lost income!) because that's so hard to prove and a place I really don't want to go.

But I am asking for my doctor's bills (3 visits) my ER visit bill (oh, the pain!) and my TWO courses of antibiotics. You are now in Judge Annie's courtroom.

In case any of you are wondering what I'm talking about - here is an image of the thumb in the first stages of the infection It's not for the feint of heart, so be forewarned.

Here's the thumb today - much better, n'est ce pas? It still wreaks havoc with my knitting, though. Darn!
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Monday, June 27, 2005

I'm Baaaa-aaack!

Oy, what a wrenching, yet wonderful, weekend!

We left Thursday for Hershey Park and, after getting lost for an hour, finally met up with my friend and her son at our motel and crashed poolside for a few hours.

Then on to dinner. Then on to THE PARK!

It was terrific! What a pleasant and fun place, and we felt so safe there with the kids - there was a very friendly atmosphere. It was my first time at Hershey Park, but it will NOT be my last!

We rode a bunch of rides and had a ball until the park closed at 10:00, then we headed back to the motel where we crashed, intending to return to the park the next morning for part II of our trip.

However, that evening at around midnight the excitement, the rides and most of all the greasy food (onion rings) got to Hannah and she was rather ill. Very, very ill. I was worried that she wouldn't feel well the next day, but she bounced out of bed and announced, I'm ready for Hershey Park!

But was Hershey Park ready for her?

We did water rides on Friday - it was a warmer day and we were armed with bathing suits and towels. The big delight of the trip was that Hannah and Max and my friend's son, Ryan, seemed to get on well together and Ryan had a partner in crime for just about any ride he wanted to go on. This saved the mom's stomachs from some terrifying drops and spins (although we certainly got our share of rides in!) It was lovely to have a chance to sit and chat with Nancy while our kids were turning upside down in alarming ways over our head. Ah, happy days...

I stayed until about 2:00, when I left to drive down to Maryland. Just before I left Max had a minor meltdown because he hadn't won anything yet, so I obliged him by winning my SECOND monkey playing Whack A Mole and he was satisfied. The things we do as moms. I'd never whacked a mole before in my life. Nancy drove the kids home - apparently all went well until about 45 minutes away from home when Hannah began campaigning to STOP AND EAT, which was unnecessary. I spoke with her on the phone and warned her to watch her step and behave herself, but somehow it's just not the same if I'm not giving her the mom eyes in the rear view mirror. I should have taken a photo of my eyes and sent them to my friend's cell phone - rats! Still, they got home in one piece and I owe Nancy BIG TIME!

Arriving in Maryland that evening I crashed (and I DO mean crashed, I was zonked!) at Marietta's apartment. Her Hub, Steve, had a head cold and I think both of us were relieved that we each just wanted to veg out and sleep /read until Marietta got home from work. It's great when the host and the guest have the same goal - personal time alone streched on a bed with a book!

Marietta works at Wool Winders but she's also the daughter of one of my knitting buddies up here in NJ AND is a costumer, like me. We have a LOT in common, and chatted until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. The next morning we dished further about actresses (now you know what costumers do when we get together...) and after a cup of the most delicious tea I drove on to Baltimore where I taught my Knitting with Wire class at Clover Hill Yarn Shop - the full day class - and enjoyed thoroughly my time there! That's always a hard class to teach because there's a portion of the class when some students feel they can't really get the technique. It comes, but slowly for some, and that can be a rough point. Everyone got past it, and I think everyone was pretty happy with their pieces, but it's the one class I teach where I sort of hold my breath until the last necklace is finished...

Class ran a bit over, so once again I was RUSHING down to southern MD for a private party at a new online knitting buddy's home. I was 20 minutes late, but Pat was SO gracious and made me feel not-so-bad about my rude lateless.

Good friends, needles and yarn, lasagna and lots of knitting chatter - THAT is what I call a great evening! Most of the women there were already established knitters, but I was happy to show them the combination method and also some new tricks and tips. I initiated a new knitter into the Heretical knitting coven. Join us...

Pat was kind enough to invite me stay over that night in her lovely home. Waking up in her beautiful daughter's room I felt a twang of envy - what a gorgeous space for a girl to wake up in every day! After a quick cup of coffee back up to Rockville to Wool Winders for two back to back classes on Combination Knitting. I did steal a little break between classes, and when both were finished Jacqui's terrific staff (they are among the best staff I've met in a yarn shop!) got me a huge collection of sushi so I could nosh before I drove home. What a terrific trip! I am still reeling from the gorgeous Manos Del Uruguay at Jacqui's shop. If you're in the area, it's a great shop to visit!

I am happy to report that I not only stayed awake for the drive home, I finished a book on CD and stopped at Cracker Barrel for another one! Thank heaven for Books on CD - they make my life so much richer! Also, by coming back via Rt 15, then Rt 78, I missed most of the beach traffic and the trip home went very quickly.

So that is the exciting and glamorous life of a hand knit designer /teacher and her trip to Hershey Park / Maryland for a wild weekend. I guess one never really outgrows Road Trips, huh?
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Thursday, June 23, 2005

... before I post today

Please consider visiting this site to send a message to Congress concerning our need for National Public Broadcasting (NPR & PBS) This is vitally important, folks - our country would be a much, much poorer place without these amazing institutions. Sign the petition.

Off to Hershey!
As promised, I'm taking the kids to Hershey today for a visit. They have some great plan where you can visit the park after 7:30 for free if you buy a ticket for the following day. When a friend mentioned that she'd be going with her son, we sort of piggybacked on the trip and off we go!

Tomorrow I'll be in Maryland, I'm teaching on Sat at Cloverhill Yarn Shop in Baltimore - and on Sunday at Woolwinders in Rockville. On Saturday night I'll be doing a private gig (no jumping out of cakes, ladies...) so it will be a driving kind of weekend.

My Hershey friend - who is a saint - will be bringing the red headed duo back to South Orange on Friday while I drive on to Maryland, which actually works out beautifully for me! Thank you, Nancy Gould! Pssst - if you're ever looking for a home out here in NJ, she's amazing!

So off to pack, answer mail and send out books (the orders continue to come in from the distributors - a minor miracle but I'll take it!)

July will be devoted to this book, and I will have it finished by the end of the month. If you've contributed and I haven't been back to you recently, I will soon! I'm sorry that I became so overwhelmed, but now I'm back on track with it - thanks so much for your patience!
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Monday, June 20, 2005

Rest for the Weary
It seems to take longer and longer for me to feel recovered after teaching gigs - who knows why!

I came home Sunday, drove back from CT where I had an amazing time (and I'm pretty sure my students did, too!) and immediately crashed. Then when I got up I knit a little, then went to bed at 7:00 and slept all night. Today I worked a bit - not much - napped for 2 hours - and now it's off to the kids' Ice Cream Social at their school.

Since it's our last week of school, there are activities every day. Tomorrow morning is the Authors Breakfast in my son's class where the kids read stories they've written. The day after that is my daughter's class Bagel Breakfast. That's the last day of school, so on Thursday we're leaving with a good friend and her son to go to Hershey PA overnight so the kids can go to Hershey Park. It will be a lot of fun, and on Friday we'll revisit the park for a little bit, then I'll drive on to Maryland to teach and the kids will return home to NJ with my friend.

So the upshot is that this week I don't think I'll have a lot of time to blog - I'll try when I can, but the kids only have 1/2 days of school on Tues and Wed (no school on Thurs & Fri) and that makes it hard to carve out time to write!

I continue editing Cheaper than Therapy - it's going really well - and continue to await word on the book my agent's been calling me about for the past few weeks. I sort of feel that if I don't let myself get TOO excited it actually may come to pass...

At the start of next week I'll have new sketches and swatches to send off to a yarn company - I've had some great ideas, but they may be too 'editorial' for the company in question. Generally yarn co's like designs that are very simple and require less pattern support than magazines. They're not in the business to develop cutting edge designs, but to sell yarn.

My corset is doing very well. Art Yarns is interested in working with me on more designs (I had originally worked up the corset in Spirit Trail Fibers, but when it was released to me I re-worked it in Art Yarns because they offered to distribute the pattern for me. This is great news for me because I absolutely LOVE the yarn. It's also a wonderful outlet for some of the best stuff I design which isn't a good fit for the magazines at the time I send it in (like the silk corset, which was submitted once upon a time to all the mags, and turned down each time!)

Like I always say, being rejected is NOT an indication of the worth of a design, but of the needs of the specific magazine at the time of submission! That helps keep me sane.
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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Here I am in CT at the Fabric Of Life Retreat in Stratford, CT and having a wonderful time!

The location is very nice - I hadn't stayed at a Homewood Suites before, but it's comfortable and I do really feel at home. Just without the animals and the kids. And the husband. And with cable. And really nice towels. And an icemaker.

The students at the retreat are fabulous - funny, intelligent, open to try new things and adventurous!

After a few glasses of champange I taught Combination Knitting last night - don't drink and teach. Actually, the class went really well, and perhaps I was a bit looser than usual (is that possible?) I'm foregoing the Yoga this morning to catch up on email and blog (and, to tell the truth, to catch a few more minutes of the 1998 Les Miserables with Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush - excellent!) but my class is starting in, oh, about 3 minutes...

Today is cabling without a cable needle and then tomorrow is colorwork - both classes I really love, and classes that tend to be very enjoyable. Minimum cursing.

Last night the setup of the room was rather tight - it was hard for me to manouver around the conference table with the big, comfy chairs that everyone was sitting in. I spent a good deal of the class squeezing past folks in chairs.

Today they've reduced the size of the conference table so I should be able to scoot around much easier. However, when I first walked in the room to check my stuff there was a herballife pin, "Ask me about losing weight" at my place. Hmmmmm - am I being given a message?
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Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Warren in the Sky
The bunny is with Frith.

Philosophically, Hannah's comment was, "Well, at least when I bury this one, it will still have it's head..." We have a cat, you see - you do the math. Of course, now Max is bereft that he didn't get to do most of the burying work. We've got an ABC Afterschool Special version of Six Feet Under going on here - and we don't even have cable!

Under the amazon listing for my book there's a link to SIP's One of my SIP's is Passionate Knitter.

What is an sip? Statistically Improbable Phrase.

Kind of sad that this is such an improbable phrase, huh? Knitting IS passion, sheesh!
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I got the nicest email from a reader, Sue, last night:

I love you Annie Modesitt! I received my copy over the week-end and I finally sat down with it last night. Why the h*ll haven't I used this method before?? I made cables last night WITHOUT a cable needle and there were NO HOLES. And I never have to [Western] purl again!...Well, at least I like purling now.

It was a lovely, kind letter - and it came at a great time! I read Cat Bordhi's article on TNNA at Knitters Review and thought it was excellent. BTW, I'm the designer of the sweater that will be on the cover of VK for Fall...

So, continuing in and out of my funk, Sue's letter was timely and greatly appreciated. I wrote and told her so, and she responded with a question that I get asked over and over, and felt it was worth addressing on my blog:

Again I ask, why don't traditional knitting books ever tell the new knitter: If you like what you are producing, then you are knitting correctly?

Here's how I've come to answer Sue's question:

a) Some - not all - established knitters and teachers are so married to the way they were taught that they just can't stomach the idea that there may be a better, more intuitive way to do something...

b) The less someone truly understands something, the more DOGMATIC they become. Thus, if a non knitting editor doesn't entirely "get" how knit stitches are made, etc., then they are more likely to demand that a knitting book show the RIGHT way to do something. As if there is only one right way. It makes it simpler in the short run.

c) Assuming a level of intuitiveness means more work for teachers, writers and editors. One size does NOT fit all, and life would be much easier if it did. This blanket standardization is the blight of our time - it's as if now that we see there are markets of millions of knitters, no one is a success unless they sell to each and every one of those knitters. And, to sell to a mass of people, you have to devise a standard that they all must adhere to.

d) It's much easier for the knitting mags and books to write patterns for Western knitting because the knit and purl sts are seated the same way on the needle. This means they don't have to explain how to 'read' a stitch or teach the knitter to determine which way to insert the needle to make a stitch 'happy'. They can just tell the knitter to blindly "always slip as if to purl..." or "when knitting always insert the needle into the front of the stitch" or "when twisting a knit stitch, always insert the needle into the back of the stitch" See B, above.

The easy answer is that most knitting books out there are TRADITIONAL knitting books, therefore they teach the traditional Western knitting method, which has a definite right way and wrong way. With blogs and an active knitting community, there is more give and take (and more respect given to unconventional methods of knitting) than there has been in the recent past.

No matter how many times, for instance, Elizabeth Zimmerman says in Knitting Without Tears, "There is no wrong way to knit", she contradicts herself when she also writes, "Considered as a loop, the right side of the stitch should always be in front of the needle when you come to work it." (pg 17, KWT)

When I first turned to EZ as a heartbroken new knitter (so happy when I saw how beautiful my knit fabric was, but so frustrated that folks kept telling me how WRONG I was knitting...) I read the above sentence.

Along with the illustrations on the same page of one way to purl (my way) and a better way to purl (NOT my way) EZ's comments made me feel utterly defeated. I was even a failure in her eyes. Obviously there WAS a wrong way to purl - and I was doing it. And, even worse, I loved purling (whereas she disliked it) so I must have been doing something wrong.

For this - and other reasons - I hung up the knitting for almost 10 years. A foolish thing for me to do, and I take full responsibility for my decision. But making that decision helped me learn the importance of validation - and how even the strongest willed person wilts without some kind of positive reinforcement, internal or external. I had been a happy and ignorant knitter, but when I entered the knitting community I became subjected to a new set of rules, and I thought I fell short.

I have incredible respect for the effect EZ's had on modern knitting, for her inspiration - which has been a wellspring of hope for new knitters. But in my own case she was a catalyst to convince me to put away the needles for many years. This is why there are many different teachers - so we can find the one who suits us best! I returned to the work of my grandmother, and turned within myself. I also discovered the writings of (Priscilla Gibson Roberts and Anna Zilboorg, who have had a great effect on my knitting confidence.
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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Pet or Meat?
I'm not making our Yarrrn Pirate's group tonight because we have a new family member. The rabbit lives!

I was studiously ignoring the neighborhood children who were trying to get my attention Rotton kids, I'm trying to count! Apparently Butkis, our older cat, had gone after his 4th rabbit in as many days and he was trying to leave it on the front porch.

But, unlike the other 3, this one lives. It's ALIVE!

So we dressed it's wounds as best as we could (hydrogen peroxide?), gave it a tiny bit of milk (it seemed to take it - wonder of wonders) and now it's sleeping in a shoebox on a nice hand towel. When it seems better we'll release it to the wilds of South Orange, NJ so it can become kitty fodder again.

Here's a pic of the bunny that has kept me from my knitting group. And it's not even angora!

Gerry just blew Max's little mind when, upon announcing, "I have a new loose tooth!" Gerry responded, "Max, maybe your mouth is just too tight..."

Corset Along
I've had a few folks write and ask me if there is a corset along, could I start a corset along, yada yada yada. So here it is. Someone help me - is this how one does these things? It is incredibly unseemly for the designer herself to do the insert garment here-along?
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The Happiest Morgue on Earth

It's been stupid hot here, as you all know, becuase I keep harping on that. S T U P I D H O T.

So tempers are frayed, folks aren't venturing out of their A/C lairs and the weatherman looks cool as a cucumber. They live for this. At least we have no Tsunami here on the East Coast. Yet.

I heard this on the radio this morning. Most disturbingly incongruous sentence in this whole episode is, "Paramedics tried to revive him, but he died at Celebration Hospital."

It's a terrible tragedy - but what seems absolutely obscene to me is that the ride has reopened. Doesn't that show a tremendous lack of respect for the family of this child?

My heart bleeds for this family. I just checked the measure marks on the wall and both Hannah and Max were over 44" when they were 4. It seems there should be some other kind of screening for a ride that's this dangerous.

I haven't been to Disney World / Epcot since the early 90's when I went on a lark while on a single-woman's perfect FL vacation. I rented a tiny cabin with a hammock in the Keys, went snorkling every day and ate shrimp every night with some good, cold beer. Perfect. One day I got a bee in my bonnet about going up to Disney World. I couldn't decide between DW and Epcot, so I took a gamble on Epcot. To say I was disappointed would be mild. I felt as though I were paying $39 to be subjected to infomertial after infomertial. Every line, every place we were 'held captive', every open space was inhabited by an impossible to ignore ad. Absolutely pathetic.

On the "World of Imagination" ride they snapped photos of everyone, then showed those photos to the group as the last leg of the ride. It's a well known fact that everyone LOVES to see themselves sweating and screaming and taken by surprise. Well, not me. That kind of sealed my strong dislike for DW.

I happened to be dressed very simply that day in a long-ish black skirt and dark blue long sleeved shirt (yes, inappropriate, but I was an artsy grad student...) I had my hair tied in a black scarf and looked rather severe. It also just so happened that my most recent drivers license was a West Virginia 'non photo id' because I'd renewed out of state. By combining these two incongruous details, I was able to make the DW folks sweat a bit.

I went to the customer service kiosk (I forget what it was called - guest happiness center or something like that) and told them, tearfully, that I belonged to a religious group in WV who did not believe in being photographed. I showed them my drivers' license and they apologized for traumatizing me with that hideous photo.

- "What can we do?" they asked, in perfect automaton we-will-make-this-better speak.

I asked if I could get a refund. No problem! And they even let me finish up the day at DW to ride a few rides with no magnified photo surprises flashed in front of me like a demon I-Max movie.

And that, dear friends, is why we go to Cedar Point - where (among other things) you can decide if you want to see pictures of yourself on rides.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Itchy and Scratchy

I am a Poison Ivy magnet. I don't actually have it myself, mind you, but two other folks I've come in contact with have developed killer cases on their arms. Maybe I just like outdoorsy types?

At any rate, your comments and suggestions are excellent - and my husband is much happier. We've bought the Aveeno, we've got the calamine, and life is better. When my sensitive skin kids were under 4 every other bath was an oatmeal bath (the Rite-Aid bargain version of the Aveeno is actually not bad...)

Even if your wonderful suggestions don't make it go completely away, he feels so much better knowing other folks commiserate with him!

The installation of the A/C in my office has spurred me to get going on Cheaper Than Therapy again, finally - woohoo! I've been working on 4 or 5 of the essays - I plan on doing them in small batches and then, when those are set and everyone's happy, moving on to the next 5 or so. Finally getting paid from my major distributor for the last shipment of Confessions of a Knitting Heretic and Knitting Millinery makes my pipe dream of paying the writers no longer a dream!

I'd kept rather quiet about the money thing because I didn't want to raise expectations I couldn't fill, but my plan now is to pay to use the essays and the writers will retain all rights (except first publishing rights.)

Unfortunately I won't be able to pay a huge amount of $$, I'll work that out individually with each contributor. To keep it in perspective, though, my sweater in Stitch & Bitch netted me a cool $50. Fifty. But I got to keep the sweater!

The contributors can also purchase books at wholesale after they're printed so they can sell them themselves on their blogs if they want, or to pass them on to friends, etc. (of course, all contributors will get some free books, too!)

Wouldn't it be cool to have a worldwide book signing at each of our own local yarn shops on the same night? An event!

Hopefully any sales will make up for the initial investment in printing, ISBN numbers, marketing, ads for the book, etc.

I'm still looking for submissions - and they don't have to be essays! An interesting interview with someone who has an amazing fiber story, a poem (I've received a few really cool ones...) Knit Haiku - all that I ask is that your submission have some relevance to how fiber has affected you in a positive way. Or even a negative way, if it's a good story!

And, one more thing, it should be good (moving, inspiring, funny - something that communicates will and touches folks right in their fiber plexus.) My firm belief is that many of us are capable of excellent work, except that we're never asked for excellence! You can do more than you ever dreamed (and you know it!)
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Monday, June 13, 2005

Endless Ends

I've arrived at the part of the swatching process that is so boring - weaving in the ends - not one of my favorite occupations.

But weave I must, and I have about 8 swatches so far with multiple ends to be woven. Luckily, this morning is Hannah's 3rd Grade Recorder Concert, so I'll be dragging my baggie of unfinished swatches and my chibi needle to surreptitiously rid myself of the offending ends between jazz solos.

Yesterday Gerry worked like a maniac trimming the hedges and packing up all of the branches, leaves, etc. Apparently there was some poison oak or something in with the stuff because his arms have broken out. He even wore a long-sleeved shirt while working, but it was a very hot day and he had some residual skin irritation from an earlier foray into the hedges that surround our backyard.

Anyone have any terrific home rememdies for itchy breakouts? He's been using witch hazel and benedryl. Itching in the heat is no fun.

It's just stupid hot. S T U P I D H O T

By positioning several fans in strategic locations I've discovered I can both sit comfortably enough to knit, and drown out the sound of my kids fighting over STUPID HOT things

"He's using my markers - and he's using EVERY ONE BUT THE GREEN ONE because he knows I hate green!

My mother's prayer has come true - I have given birth to me.
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Friday, June 10, 2005

Yarn River ... wider than a mile...
I'm wading through the huge plastic buckets of Classic Elite yarn (I keep yarn from each company in it's own separate giganto-snap lid container - a different one for summer and winter yarns if necessary) and I'm at the point of designing an Aran Mae West to keep my head above the fibrous foam.

Yesterday was sketch day. sI came up with quite a few nice ideas, which will inevitably change as I swatch and reconsider them. Here's a little candid shot of my studio where I do the swatching. Very messy, and I'm amazed my husband puts up with it for the several weeks a month when the yarn takes over. I rely heavily on the J. Jill catalog for my model poses (I LOVE that catalog - and LOVE that they carry most of their shoes up to size 11!)

I'm also feeling rather 1940's about this round of designs, so I'll spend a little time with my costume history stuff on wartime and post war fashions. I like to toss a little history in to keep it interesting. Classic Elite hasn't take a design of mine for a while, but getting the yarn is very inspiring, and quite often the stuff I work up for them is taken by an editorial venue when resubmitted.

It's wet and steamy today - I knew it would be a lazy day when I was awakened by our doorbell at 8:00 (the kids are supposed to catch the bus at 8:12) and rushed downstairs to throw open the door and terrify my neighbor who was dropping off her daughter to walk to the bus with Han & Max. Needless to say, I drove the kids to school.

Postcards from the selvedge edge
I took every suggestion very seriously, and here is the final draft of the postcard! I quite like it, and your input made it much nicer than I'd already envisioned.

I am so divided about the travel stuff. On the one hand I really love it, purely, selfishly, LOVE being in my car and on the road, a diet coke in the cupholder and a book on tape in the CD player with hundreds of miles of road to eat up. My next life will be as a long haul trucker. And I love the teaching - I adore meeting people, seeing so many yarn shops, spending time with students and talking about knitting styles, etc.

I love seeing different parts of the country - and the best way to see ANYplace is to work there, albeit briefly, in any capacity. So when I arrive in a town and work there for a day as a knitting teacher, I feel that I get a better feeling about it than if I'd just visit as a tourist. I'm probably kidding myself, but there it is.

I don't like the exhaustion of a long trip - a week away usually takes me about 2 weeks to fully recover at home. I hate leaving the kids and Gerry and I REALLY hate leaving Gerry with his hands full of two wild redheads. I've definitely noticed a change from his sanguine, "We'll be FINE, honey!" of a year ago to his, "We'll be okay - when are you coming home..?" of today. I'm home this weekend, but the next two weekends after that I'll be teaching in CT an Maryland. I knew there'd been a huge change in Gerry's outlook on this when I idly mentioned, "Gee, I'd love to go to TNNA this weekend..." and he didn't jump in with, "Go ahead, honey, I've got the kids!" (which I wouldn't do to him, anyway. But a year ago he would have volunteered. Of course, a year ago he didn't have a steady job with insane 3:30 am hours!)

Teach Away
I feel that if I put in my dues now - the many yarn shop teaching gigs, lots of 'show ups' at places, etc., it helps me establish a base of folks who'd like to hear me teach and speak again. So the travel is important now. I'm hopeful that by the time the kids are older I'll be able to take longer trips - perhaps foreign trips - with our without them.

Is it my breath? Something I said?
Last year my gig at Rhinebeck went really well, but I'm having a devil of a time getting hold of them for this year. The email I have bounced, the phone number I have has a full message box, and they still have 2004 classes listed. I'd love to teach there again, I know they've hired Teva (a tie in with her book release) to teach a class. If any of you would like to contact Rhinebeck to let them know you'd like me to teach there, please feel free to do so! My classe were full last year (except for the last one, those darned last classes are always a little empty...) and the students seemed to have a good time.

I've sent out about 100 post cards so far to selected yarn shops in the Boston Area, Chicago Area and FL/GA/AL area. I'll be in Boston in late October and would love to set up several other teaching dates while I'm there. In early December I'll be in southern Wisconsin at the Lake Delavan Resort for a midwest knitting retreat, so as long as I'm out there why not set up some teaching dates in Chi and Southern Wisconsin, n'est ce pas? My goal is to get 2 weekends every month booked by the end of the year, and I'm doing pretty well along those lines. The next step is to find a babysitter who can do an overnight every couple of weeks while I'm gone. Luckily, we live right near a university...

I'm thinking it would be good to be in the South in the early Spring - and I have a standing invitation from the amazing Mercedes of Knit Nouveau in Helena, AL - so why not set up more shop classes while I'm down south (y'all...)

I haven't started contacting knitting guilds, but if you know of one that would like to sponsor me for a workshop or some classes, let me know and I'll try to combine it with lots of yarn shop classes to reduce the travel & accomodation fees for everyone!
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Thursday, June 09, 2005


A huge thanks to all of you who wrote to me privately or commented - you really helped me put things in perspective.

I know it's a little crazy, gutsy, self-involved to go on about jealousy - but it's a big part of what I was dealing with yesterday (as a designer) so I figured it was pertinent.

Gerry put an air conditioner in my office and suddenly the world is much nicer. Aaaaaaahhhhhhh. Suddenly I'm not so evil-ish jealous of the rest of the world. I'm able to tame a lot of my jealousy into admiration.

I loved what Pubah said in her comments yesterday. It sums up how I've felt about favorite authors, designers and falling in love. You may not love the best person in the world, but if it's a good love, then they'll be the best person for you. Not every pot can use the same lid. My favorite author is GBS, but I realize that he has great failings as a writer (and also as a human being). However, his plays - and even his novels - speak to me in a way that other writers haven't. I don't love him because he's the BEST writer in the history of the world, but because his style suits me best. Thank you to everyone for reminding me of this, and helping me to put this in perspective.

And now, out for a walk to deliver some Burning River Pale Ale to a good friend down the street who's from Cleveland. I picked it up from the Great Lakes Brewery while in Ohio (actually, I picked it up from Bassets grocery outside of Marblehead - an AMAZINGLY wonderful employee owned store!)

And I have another delivery of beer to my good friend who cut my hair last night. It looks so good - it was exactly what I needed! My friend Holly is absolutely amazing - poet, teacher, mother and sensational hair femme. She was once listed in New York mag as one of the top colorists in nyc, but she can't handle the chemicals any more. She just came out with her 4th book of poetry - Jello Dogs - and it's spectacular! I'm trying to convince her to get a blog, I think she'd really shine...
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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Vapors
I feel languid, lazy and hot. Last night I taught in my gazebo - a small class, but a lovely class - and I'm VERY proud of one of my students who completed a hat from my book Knitting Millinery. She seriously doubted if she could do it at the start, but she did! This is Penny in her hat - it's actually the Carnivale pattern, but worked up in linen with a woven ribbon crocheted trim and twisted cord hatband. I'm very proud of her - and it gives a designer an amazing glow to see a pattern realized with a minimum of swearing.

I also posted an image of the ribbed corset page of the top with sleeves attached. They're drapey little lace sleeves, only attached at the top of the armhole, but they add a nice touch to those of us who'd rather keep our upper arms under wraps.

I feel like I've been oddly Utilitarian lately (my own religion) - my posts have been dry, not much fun and full of lists, notes and borderline boring details of my daily life. Do you ever have those weeks when you just feel - detached? As if you're viewing life from a distance, that sounds take an extra millisecond to reach you (and when they do they don't quite register?) Perhaps it's the heat of the last two days and my body getting used to the change. I'm burrowing into the gazebo today for a marathon sketching session - I have some cool ideas for new sweaters that I want to get on paper before I lose them.

Perhaps it's Teva's book coming out and the success of the Yarn Harlot's book. Both a excellent books (I haven't seen all of Teva's yet, but I have the Harlot's and it lives up to it's name!) It's jealousy, pure, green and true. Painful, hurtful and useless. I've been shoving it away and filling the space with dead air, but it's time to face the montster and then move ahead. The worst part of jealousy is that it's so damned paralyzing!

I'm jealous that Steph's such a damned good writer and Teva's such an on-the-edge designer, but I guess I'm mostly jealous that they both have publishers AND they still have their vision. A lot of it's timing, most of it's skill, and there's a lot of personality that accounts for it. Can you see the gigantic funk hole I'm digging in the back yard (behind the gazebo) where I'll go bury myself later? I'm beyond jealous about the number of comments that every blog from www.joesbarandgrillblog.com to www.massmurderersblog.com get when I'm dancing in the kitchen if I get more than 5. I'm jealous that I can't stop at one cookie (that makes no sense unless you've been where I am) and I'm jealous of women who can walk into a store and buy shoes that fit.

This feels too good.

I'm jealous of my neighbor's yard care staff, and my other neighbor's cream convertible VW bug. I'm jealous that my son's new friend's mom is working on her galleys for her soon to be published book. I'm jealous of people who don't burn in the shade. I'm jealous of women who don't have grey hair and wrinkles, and I'm jealous of those who've learned to live with them graciously. I'm plain jealous.

That was a long time coming.

What right do I have to be jealous? Who knows. I just got back from a a terrific vacation, I have a cool career (even if I do feel like I'm backpedling sometimes) and I love what I do (even if it's hard to pay the mortgage on it - it would be harder to live with more $$ and less daily joy). Alls I know is that I'm hounded, wracked and submerged in a green funk and I'd better face it and walk around it.

If one of my students felt this way I'd have good stuff to tell them - wise stuff, even. I think I need to go spend some time with myself.

PS - here's what my horoscope said for today:
Female energy, regardless of your gender, is what you need. The company of women will cheer you up and bolster you. Feeling slightly out of sorts? Resist the temptation to hole up by yourself. Getting out and about provides a good distraction, and the company of friends puts it all into perspective.

and then there's this... Meow.
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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Last night there was a bright shock of white and a loud boom simultaneously outside our front door. It was startling.

Later on the news I heard that just a few blocks away one of our lovely shingle style homes here in South Orange had been hit and badly damaged by fire caused by the lightning. What a loss - such a lovely home - one I've admired for so long!

Recently I received the fashion forecast from Classic Elite, they say that silks and silk blends are the hot fiber for 2006. I love silk, I use it as much as I can. It seems such a miracle fiber to me - how odd that humans should even be aware of and able to utilize the fine silk strands. I'm finishing up a sample of the Ribbed Corset in Artyarns Regal Silk. It's been an exquisite adventure, and it knit up very quickly. Today I'll add some small cap sleeves and then express it off to them to take to TNNA.
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Monday, June 06, 2005

Missing TNNA
I won't be going out to Columbus this weekend for TNNA, which really makes me kind of sad. I'd love to go - it's so good to connect with the whole knitting world (and crochet & needlepoint, etc.) but after traveling this past week - and with teaching commitments away from home the last two weekends in June, I just don't see how I can do that to Gerry, the kids or myself... Oh, well.

I was supposed to be editing all vacation, but a miscommunication about bringing our computers out to Ohio "I thought YOU were bringing the computer..." so I'm behind on Cheaper than Therapy. I apologize, mea culpa, I'll get deep into it this week. I promise. Really.

I also need to edit an essay for IK, which will be arriving later than I'd intended. It's finally hot here in NJ (it's been so temperate and cool all Spring) and with the heat comes a Tennessee Williamsesque desire to dab my temples with a perfumed handkerchief and drink fountain cokes on the back porch. The first rush of heat in the summer is the hardest to deal with - the Springtime expectations are still working (I'm going to do this, and this and I'll even do this!) and the reality of dealing with the heat hasn't yet sunk in (I'll do that this evening, when it cools off a bit...)

We're not an air conditioned family - we have a unit in Hannah's room because she has a southern exposure which gets really steamy on hot days, and I have a very small unit we'll put into my office because I get no air flow, but aside from that we get by with a large exhaust fan in the attic and ceiling fans in all rooms. Generally it's just fine - we have a few warm days, but usually it's nice and comfortable. These first few hot days take some adjustment, though. Just think, I could be in a nice, air conditioned hotel room in Columbus, Ohio!
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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Back Home!

It is SO good to be home - and we have the wildest yard on the block!

Ohio was lovely - beautiful - fun - exciting - and the kids want to move there! When we arrived back home, though, the kids were VERY excited to see Butkis and introduce him to Gigi (our new kitten). Atticus was anxious to try out the new waist high grass in the backyard!

I'm slowly sorting through my messages and emails - over 200 non-spam emails are waiting for me, it will take a while... I can't even begin to count the spam messages. If you've emailed me and it bounced due to a full mailbox, please try again.

Yesterday was our Toledo day - we went to the zoo and while the kids and I visited the gorillas and lizards Gerry visited his old co-workers at WGTE. After the zoo we drove past Gerry's old apartment which happened to be on the same street as Fiberworks Yarns - so, of course, we had to stop.

It's funny that one of my students last weekend made a comment about me being a 'knitting celeb' and I stressed that I most certainly am NOT a celeb. One asked, "When you go into a yarn shop, do they all ask for your autograph?" and I replied, "No, most of the time they don't even KNOW me!" Which is true.

Which is exactly what happened at this yarn shop in Toledo. I went in and looked around - it was a very well stocked shop, lots of great yarn (not many metal needles, though - but I know I'm odd about that!) When I introduced myself the owner obviously had no clue who I was - why should he? And I felt like an idiot because it was clear for about 3 seconds that I thought he did know who I was. Oy.

This usually doesn't phase me at all, but for some reason I had this weird feeling that someone in Toledo should know me. Very silly. I didn't even realize I had the expectation until it was realized. Or, rather, until it failed to be realized.

When I got in the car it was obvious that I was in a funk. In an attempt to be sensitive Gerry decided we should just return to the rental house in Marblehead and forego the Annie Memorial Tour of the house I grew up in, my old school, etc. So as he headed out of town I sat and fumed that obviously NO ONE - not even my husband - cared about my Toledo history. I haven't experienced that depth of self pity since I was 16 (living in Toledo)

We had words - he felt like a jerk and I acted like a jerk - the perfect couple. It ended with us heading to Wernerts Corners (the area I grew up in) and driving past A Yarn Co. After some discussion we turned around to visit that shop, but got there about 5 minutes after it closed. My grand homecoming tour of Toledo yarn shops obviously did not go as expected. I guess it would have helped if I would have looked up addresses and contacted shop owners before leaving NJ, huh?

We did go past my old house - it's white now, and they removed the hedge. The pine tree my parents planted is now large enough to be in Rockfeller Center (I felt very old when I saw that...) Then on to Jackman Elementary where very little had changed. I was able to get into the building and walk around - it smelled the same - a very odd feeling. Except for one year when we lived in Indiana when I was in the first grade, I went to that school from Kindergarden to 7th grade. So many memories.

If you've ordered a pattern from me, it will be to you this evening! I was unable to access my patterns while I was away (long story...) and I'm grateful to my pattern customers for your patience!
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Friday, June 03, 2005

I'm in Ohio - at Put In Bay right now - and using the library computer to post.

We're loving Marblehead - having a great time (Cedar Point was amazing - we opted for the evening 'starlight' 5 hour visit and rode every roller coaster that the kids could/would ride with us! On the way out Hannah REALLY wanted a souvenir, so I told her she had THREE minutes to find something. She did - a lovely little necklace of a spinning girl for $4.95. Of course Max was bereft, he couldn't find ANYTHING, and began sobbing as we left. Exhaustion as much as anything else as it was 10 pm.

So on a whim I stopped at the 'birthday bash' game of chance, let Maxie put one dollar down on his month, and he WON a nice, huggable size teddy bear. I cannot say enough about how kind and wonderful all of the staff was at CP - what a terrific place. Just as wonderful as I remembered as a kid! The extra bonus was the two great kids working the birthday bash booth made Maxie laugh so hard. An excellent memory to leave with (yes, mom was in tears)

And, of course, then Hannah was woebegone because SHE didn't win something. Oh, well... It's not really a vacation unless someone gets their nose broken.

Yesterday we went to Kelly's Island - really lovely - and Gerry and I both agreed that IF we camped it would be the place we'd go in a minute!
Today we're at Put In Bay, which has more to do for the kids. We also rented a golf cart which has really MADE the trip for everyone (including me!)

While the kids and Gerry (and, of course, Atticus - who has accompanied us throughout this trip EVERYWHERE except CP) play putt putt, I am on the computer. The librarian is not just a knitter but a kind fan, so she's letting me have a touch more time than usual. Hee hee hee.

Tomorrow we revisit my old stomping ground of Toledo - we're going to the Zoo and maybe to Cosi while Gerry visits WGTE where he used to work as a producer (NOT while I was living in Toledo - odd, huh?) and may even end the day by taking the kids to my old playground at Jackman elementary.
A word about the wonderful yarn shop in Marblehead - it's terrific!

Beautiful light, great space, and the owners have a delicious sense of color which is obvious in the high quality yet reasonably priced yarns. I've never seen such lovely colors of Manos together. I want to go back there and just KNIT for a few hours, but I don't think that will happen...
All in all, this is a great vacation! Did I mention that so far Max has caught 20 fish off of our shady dock (catch and release) and Hannah's not far behind. We fed the swans yesterday morning, and this morning Hannah fed the ducks with their babies.

Speaking of babies, I acquired a kitten at the Great Lakes Fiber Show (which was WONDERFUL! I will definitely be back next year as they've invited me and it was such a lovely place to teach!) It's a little black kitten we've named Gigi (from Kiki's delivery service) and Hannah's in LOVE with it. It's very lively, very happy and is coming to terms with Atticus. I'm very glad that we have two cars out here so we can divide them up for the long car ride home!

We leave Saturday morning. I wish we could stay a month. I love Ohio, I'm so lucky to be from here!

Annie (on vaca in Ohio)
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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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