Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spittin' Mad

Ooooh, I'm just so angry. Grrrrrr.

My trip to the South was 98% wonderful - even places where there seemed to be a disconnect between myself and the shop owner (only one of those, really...) proved fruitful in that there were such wonderful students I met along the way.

Except for one shop [ominous fanfare]

One snitty little shop, with a terrible selection of yarn and a shop owner who took me back to the bad old days of the 1980's when some shop owners felt you owed them big time for the fact that they'd gone to the trouble to open up a yarn shop.

I hadn't written about it because it just seemed small to do so - so call me small, I'm writing about it now. Why? Read on...

Allow me say that I taught a really good class at this shop - the students were wonderful, they were engaging and engaged and participated fully! Many of them hung around after class to tell me how much they enjoyed it, and the one employee at the shop was just lovely, very helpful.

So where did the problem come in? Poor communication between the shop owner and myself.

Before I leave on a trip I send a confirming email to the shops and venues where I'm teaching firming up the details (what I'm teaching, where I'm staying, when I'm supposed to arrive, etc.) so that there are no nasty surprises. This is basic business communication 101, and it seems like a good, protective measure.

However, when I wrote to this shop owner to tell her that I would be teaching X class and Y class, showing up at X:00 and leaving at X:00, I also mentioned that I never heard back from her on accommodation arrangements so (if I didn't hear from her) I'd be making my own.

I received no response to this email, which isn't unusual. Many shops don't reply to this unless there's a problem.

Since no accommodation was promised, I took the safety measure of making other accommodation arrangements. The last thing you want is to finish a class at 10:00 pm and then have to look for a motel. I made arrangements to stay with a cousin in Fayetteville, GA (a 1-1/2 hour drive from the shop, but a wonderful chance to visit with family) In fact, I'd stayed there the night before so I'd left my suitcase and other stuff at my cousin's house, and told her I'd be back that night after class, so I was pretty much locked into this arrangement.

Imagine my surprise when - arriving at the shop - I was told by the one employee there that I'd be saying with Mrs. Z.

Mrs. Z showed up for class I explained that I couldn't stay with her because I'd promised to stay with my cousin that night.
She was pretty upset (angry?) at the turn of events. I apologized for the confusion, I even tried to make a joke, "I'm sorry if you cleaned your house for nothing - but now you have a really clean house!" which went over like a lead balloon.

- "My husband cleaned the house - I've been on bed rest!"

Oops. Mrs. Z left in a huff (she was pretty angry, she didn't stay for the class - it makes me wonder why she was so anxious for me to stay with her...?).

A few minutes later the shop owner arrived, barely nodded to me and walked to the back room to eat her dinner. This marked the first and only time on my Southern trip that - upon arriving at a yarn shop - the owner didn't try to feed me. In full disclosure, her employee - let's call her Kay - had kindly offered me a diet coke when I first arrived 1/2 hour earlier. But jeeze - this was the first time the shop owner and I had met face to face and not even an "I'm so glad you found us okay!"

Later I figured out that Mrs. Z had probably called the shop owner on her cell phone, and appraised her of the disappointment (insult?) that I wouldn't be staying with her - what is the big deal about that? - and this might have been the source of the shop owner's disappointment. But this is just conjecture on my part, not a word was said to me about it. Once again, not the greatest communication I've experienced.

It would have been so easy for the owner to come into the shop, greet me and say, "I heard we had a misunderstanding about your accommodations..." at which point we could have had a very pleasant conversation, we could have both taken responsibility for our part in the miscommunication ("It was my fault - ", "No, it was MY fault...") in a very Southern way. But that didn't happen.

Suffice to say I felt about as welcomed as General Sherman.

As the students arrived for the class and settled in, the shop owner was still very distant with me. There was a stereo playing which was running off of an i-pod, and at the exact second that class was to begin the owner went over and pulled the i-pod out of the speakers, clipped it onto headphones, and sat down at one of the tables with her headphones on! acting, for all the world, like the 10th grader who'd rather be ANYWHERE but Algebra Class.

I taught the class - it went well - although I will say it was unnerving to look over and see the woman who owned the shop off in her own little i-pod universe and paying little or no attention. Oh, well, can't please everyone!

At the end of the class Kay offered to help me move my stuff back out to my car. Guess what? Not a peep from the shop owner. Surprise!

She did walk over and get an envelope and hand it to me - still wearing her headset - at which point I told her that it was the first time on my trip that I had been treated so rudely.

Yes, I said it. Now you know, butter WILL melt in my mouth, and I am a Jersey girl (from Ohio) and we speak plainly.

This incident was so unnerving that unfortunately it spilled over into my next teaching gig, which is such a disappointment because the owner at that shop is a very good friend and I was so upset by the “owner in headphones” incident that it colored my behavior when I arrived at the next gig. The teaching went well, but I wasn’t at my nicest when I first met the co-owner of the shop, and for that I’m very sorry. In fact, I still need to make amends for that.

Funny how meanness grows (kick the dog syndrome) - and I have no excuse for my own behavior at the next shop. (The fact that it was near the end of 2 weeks away from home probably contributed - and the really nasty motel with dirty sheets and broken toilet seat didn’t help, either...)

But I never wrote about this on my blog. It just seemed very unhelpful, and not a good way to put the incident behind me. I chalked it up to shop owner inexperience, or lack of basic business etiquette, and filed it away under, “Lesson Learned” in the big database of experience in my soul.

I had no intention of writing about it - until I opened my mail this morning and had a note from my bank telling me that this shop owner has STOPPED PAYMENT ON THE CHECK

Ooooh, I - am - pissed.

I know we all have skewed ideas of ourselves. I try to be frank with myself, but I think we tend to think of ourselves both as better and worse than we truly are. From comments by shop owners, though, I've had the feeling that I'm not a terribly demanding teacher when I come to a shop.

I may be wrong about this, but I try to be as accommodating as I can be when I visit someone's shop (their home, really...) or stay with someone on the road. I was kind of blown away by this incident - and I'm just furious that this teacher had the nerve to - basically - take money from me. I love to teach, but I don't do this for my health.

By the way, this owner charged $50 per person for the class - there were 13 folks in the class so she made $650. My fee? $180 + expenses. She made much more than I did on this evening, and now she's trying to get out of paying me for my teaching. Not cool.

I've called the shop and left a message. I've also called my laywer. If I don't hear from the owner by the end of the day today I'll have my laywer send her a nice letter - more communication - which she can ignore if she likes, but she shouldn't.

Have I mentioned that I'm really pissed off?
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posted by Annie at 45 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Technique Central

Recently in the Silk Corset Knitalong group the topic came up of the mystery i-cord [cue spooky music] Mwa ha ha ha, from the bowels of the yarn stash comes a twisted, stunted, grotesque lump of yarn. Peeling away the lint clinging to this sorry entity, one realizes that's it's Annie's first attempt at I-Cord!

I've only been making i-cord for about 4 years - I'd seen it, and read the instructions, but it seemed counter intuitive (that's just me...) so I left it for later. Later came when I promised to help Melanie Falick teach a knitting class at Lion and Lamb on the Upper East Side and part of the class was teaching - I-Cord!

So Melanie gave me a quick tutorial on it, I was intruiged, and when I got home from that class (where I met Teva Durham - my one and only time meeting her - touch me!) I spent about a week working up different types of icord madness.

The fruit of this labor ended up in Confessions (striped i-cord, checkerboard i-cord, attached i-cord) and I've been using the i-cord bindoff and cast on in a lot of my patterns since then. Actually, I found instructions for i-cord bind offs, but couldn't find a cast on so I worked this one up. When I teach this folks inevitably work it up rather loose the first time (they're learning!) but after about 20 stitches they get the hang of how to tighten up the M1 (pull it hard like it's falling off the Titanic) so that the i-cord is more attractive.

I love music, but I don't listen to it as much as I'd like. I'm not sure why this is - when I'm listening to music I like, I am transported, my world is richer and I feel connections to people and places that I thought I'd forgotton. Maybe it's because there's so much bad music out there - but that's subjective, one person's bad music is another person's symphony.

Some music that always makes me sit up and take notice when I hear a few strains is bluegrass. My whole family's from the MD/VA/WV area - we came over starting in the 1680's and gradually moved from the coast into the hills where we parked ourselves. My mother's people are Dutch and Scots - but we're talking 200 years ago, so does that even really matter? My dad's people were French (hence the Modesitt, née Modisette) but that was so long ago.

He did look French - and from all reports had one hell of a time in France during the War (he was at D-Day - he photographed it in the 2nd Combat Camera Unit) and he never seemed 100% comfortable in the land of black coal dust. We had a very stormy relationship - I was a late baby (both parents were in their 40's when I was born) and my teen years coincided with the loss of his business and his spiral into bad health and prescription drug addiction. It was a bad scene, man. I don't think he liked bluegrass music very much (which is ironic because his life was like a country song.)

My mother loved it, though - when I hear it, I think of her. Not the hard-core deep fan base stuff, but the fluffier, popular music blue grass stuff. She loved Dolly Parton, and at her funeral I played the CD TrioL - she loved that music very much. If you can get past the shoulder pads on the CD cover, it's a pretty nice album.

So how odd - and full circle - that my husband (the Long Island Jew born in the Bronx) adores the soundtrack from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? - I love it, too - but he LOVES it. Mom would have really liked it, too. Dad would have hated it.
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posted by Annie at 4 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Who will be 200?

I put the frappr map up for a laugh (and some might say it's a pitiful number of dots compared to other maps) but I think it's amazing and I get a little frisson of excitement every time a new person signs up. Now I'm up to 199 - very cool... Who will be 200???

I've had to redo some of my stock tech images for the books I'm working on - a very good thing - so here's cabling without a cable needle for the audience at home. The illustrator will take these clear(er) images and make sketches, but for those who'd like to see my hands in semi-action, here is cabling without a cable needle!

I'm behind in submissions - damn - and plan to devote a good amount of time this morning to getting some stuff together to send out. Yi-ikes, how time gets away from me! I'm leaving Friday for Buffalo and points north, so I plan to get my act together on Thursday and copy my handouts, finalize my maps, etc. TIme for another visit to AAA!

Finally I'm getting the pages together - nothing like waiting until the proverbial 11th hour! Sometimes when I do something I jump right in, but on a task like the calendar a bit of planning can make the whole thing go so much faster. The database I've developed over 2 years now makes importing the calendar days and auxillary info into Quark easier than it was last year - yay -

The weekend was hard - doctors were consulted, drugs were taken, it's all a blur of hacking and coughing. It's an odd feeling to feel that my lungs are so much better (they are!) and then to have this damned cold. It's like losing a ton of weight, then wearing horizontal stripes.
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posted by Annie at 10 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Full Heart (& Lungs)

Being home is so wonderful - my kids are amazing, my husband is the kindest man I've ever known, and Atticus can't get over the fact that, "You're HERE! You're really HERE!

I think my limit from this point on will be 1 week away - after I finish up the gigs I've already scheduled.

Speaking of gigs, I feel terrible announcing that I have to cancel the lecture I was going to give at the NY Handweavers Guild today. This cold thingie got worse (of course) and moved to my lungs. That must be one hot property because EVERYONE wants to move into my lungs. When I get that heavy hearted feeling I know that there will be more doctor visits, more hemming and hawing, more procedures and, eventually, more airflow.

Right now I'm experiencing dueling sensations with my breathing. My lung capacity is greater than it's probably been since last Summer, the herbs & meds are working beautifully (the place I ordered them, by the way, is - there are many places to order Chinese herbs, but this was suggested by a friend).

At the same time, though, my lungs are full of wet, icky, stuff. So full, in fact, that it felt for a bit like pneumonia - but apparently this is just how colds will settle in my lungs (perhaps for the time being) so a headcold is more serious that I had originally thought.

The doctor told me this, and the COPD websites I visited also said, "At the first sign of a cold alert your doctor." - but of course, I didn't. I mean, it was just a COLD, right?

So now I'm being a good girl. Resting (which, in my case, means writing patterns and knitting like a fiend to finish a few projects) and taking my meds. I should be patched up by mid week and perfect by Friday when I shuffle off to Buffalo.

I'm finishing up a crocheted jacket for a book and - like the poor - the crochet calendar is always with us...

I'm hoping to:

- finish the crochet jacket and send off the pattern to the book author.

- have a marathon pattern formatting session today and tomorrow and get a huge amount of the patterns in and shipped off.

- I also need to assign more yarn for Romantic Knits projects (I've been slow in this, please don't fret if you've been waiting for me to get in touch with you!)

- and work up a modular hat in Silk Rhapsody by Artyarns(what a delicious yarn!) for IK. I am in love with this yarn - and I'm not usually a mohair fan - and am considering this project my treat for the week!

- as well as a skirt in 2 magnificent new yarns by Tilli Tomas - Nile & Cleopatra (not on their website yet...) These yarns are dupioni silk ribbon (Nile) with beads (Cleopatra).

New Pattern!

I'm FINALLY offering the pattern for the mitered jacket I showed before on my website!

Let's see how it goes - maybe we'll have a knitalong!
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posted by Annie at 6 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

If It's Wednesday, It Must Be A Headcold...

My body is a sensitive entity, it's perfectly in sync with my mind, and as soon as I've finished a long project (or teaching trip) my mind gives my body permission to fall apart a little.

That happened yesterday - just in time for the Girl Scouts. The tip off that something was amiss should have been my exhaustion after teaching at Loop. Then yesterday around noon the school called - Hannah had a cold and just felt "bad", so I needed to go pick her up. But still nothing too terribly bad seemed to be happening within my own knitting self.

I had promised a couple of months ago to teach knitting to a Brownie Troop in Kinnelon (Hi Troop 2258!) and the date we set was yesterday afternoon. I had been on buzzing auto pilot for most of the weekend (school auction, teaching at Loop) but I could tell that my body was getting pretty darned PO'd at my mind for keeping it running after my 2 weeks in the south. As a matter of fact, my body was getting so pissy that on the way to Kinnelon my nose went on a full blown protest marathon and started running. It ran throughout the lesson (and I'm hoping to heaven I didn't infect any of the groovy girls I taught...) and continued to run until I got home. Then it sprinted for a bit, then it started running again and ran all night.

Not liking to run alone, it brought along my throat (sore), by joints (achy) and my head (exploding) for the ride.

I took my standby, Alka Seltzer Night Time Cold, but this runny-nose-cold-thing would NOT be calmed and I was up and down all night. I could tell I was sick when I got up because I had to wade through a foot of tissues I'd tossed onto the floor after using them in my sleep!

So today I tackle calendar stuff - a full day of editing - and Hannah is home sick, too. Rest, indeed.

The good news - the GREAT news - is that whether it's the Chinese herbs or the meds I've been taking from my doc, my breathing is phenemonally better. Even with the head cold I can inhale and - more importantly - exhale easier than I've been able to in months. I've been on the Chinese Herbs for 1-1/2 weeks now, and pretty much since a few days after I started taking them I sensed a strong shift in my lung capacity. I'm supposed to continue with them for another 2-1/2 months, so we'll see where I am in early June!
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posted by Annie at 5 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Loop de Pooped

Last night I was up late - working on the auction for the Seth Boyden school - we raised a good amount of money to refurbish our auditorium and had a pretty good time, too!

My database worked pretty well, for the most part - there are definitely places where it could be improved but I need to be smarter to figure those out (or maybe just better rested...)

Today I got up early, drove down to Philly for a gig at one of my favorite shops - Loop! And, once again, I'm reminded why I love this shop so much! The yarns are fab, the mannekins are named Wanda and the students are always so full of questions, energy and skill! Right now I'm on a lunch break between classes (color is this afternoon) and it's good to have a chance to kick back and have a nice turkey burger. I was unable to find a turkey burger when I was in the south - wonder why?

Whilst I was in Georgia I figured I'd get a car washing, jazz up the look, but unfortunately it did some damage to my (already precarious) license plate. When I noticed this I wasn't able to take the plate off, and I didn't have the screws to put it on tighter (of course, stopping at a hardware store would have been WAAAY to hard) so I just drove around with my plate like this for, oh, 1,200 miles.

Here's the interesting thing...

In Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas and all the way up through Virginia, no one mentioned it to me at all. I think they were just being nice (that, and the fact it's a Jersey plate probably made them a little afraid of the reaction)

- Excuse me, did y'all know your license plate is coming off in front?
- You talkin' to me? What's it to ya?

But since I've been home not one, not two, but THREE different folks made a point of slowing down while approaching me in the opposite direction and asking me (very nicely) if I knew my plate was hanging. Ah, we Jerseyans take care of each other.
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posted by Annie at 5 Comments Links to this post

Friday, March 17, 2006

Catching up, Slowing Down

Today I sat on my behind for most of the day - math, math, math, math, math. It's necessary, but too much of it is NOT fun!

In addition to my knitting life, I am creating the database for my kids' school auction (taking place this weekend - come on by and bid on an amazing vacation or cool needlepoint kit!) That means that just about from the moment I arrived home on Wed I was up to my eyeballs getting the auction catalog, bid sheets, certificates, etc., finished and printed out for the woman who runs the auction (a saint, I tells ya!) Finally after sending off the necessary pages today so she can get it printed up I was able to ease myself back into my knittin' life this afternoon.

Oy. Do I have a lot of stuff to do!

- The Calendar. Thank heaven I have help. Thank you, Drew! I sincerely apologize to those of you who have been writing me for updates on it - the update is, I'm scrambling to finish.

- Twist & Loop; I'll be getting the final galleys this weekend and I'm told they need some more filler in places. I got good at filling things up on the road (here in NJ ALL gas stations are Full Serve! Eeek, how do you folks handle this in the cold, cold weather?)

- Dogs Who Knit; There's math to go over, one project to finish, illustrations to make clearer and just general stuff. I met with my editor while in Asheville (another knitting editor who doesn't knit - go figure - maybe it's time for me to get that job as a marine biologist?) and I still have some written stuff to turn in on that.

- Projects for IK: I have a few to work up, a skirt and hat and a camisole type thing I'm dreaming up.

- Submissions: I've put so many off for so long, but I really owe some editors some sketches and swatches.

So today I got a pattern written, checked in with a few editors, did some math checking - a full and rich day. If I can get this much done each day when I'm home then it makes the going away easier to bear.

While I was away I took some cool photos that I meant to post -

Here's a dam in Helena, AL that I strolled around. This was the day when I realized how much better my breathing was - a nice, long walk on an 80ľ Sunday morning before class.

Even a major chain like Panera isn't imune to the charms of the Southern Vernacular.

Oh, and did I mention that after the auction on Saturday night I'll be teaching in Philly on Sunday? I'm PUMPED to get back to Loop, one of my favorite shops!
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posted by Annie at 4 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Flying Home

For the past few days it's been hard to do much posting - sorry about that! I've just barely had time to run into a Panera or Starbucks and check my email before I had to rush off somewhere new to teach.

After leaving Alabama on Sunday I drove to South Carolina where a group of women from the knitting guild welcomed me with a pot luck (I had forgotten about the time change from AL to SC, so I arrived an hour later than I thought I would! Luckily they went ahead and ate, I would have felt terrible if they'd waited for me!)

My hostess, Sue Esser was an absolute dream - so kind and so wonderful! She and her husband took me out for one of my best breakfasts while on the road and made me feel as if I were already home.

The guild itself was so great - I taught one class during the day which went beautifully. Yes, it's true I had to slap one of the students around a little, but deep down she enjoyed it... We laughed a lot - it was VERY enjoyable for me - I hope it was half as much fun for everyone else! Later that evening - after a quick bite at Panera - I spoke to the entire guild and it was a FABulous group (and I mean that in the good sense of the word, ladies...)

Goodbyes all around the next morning - Farewell, Cynthia, I will miss you... and - surprise! - Deborah (the deserving slappee from the day before) surprised me with a video of my hands knitting. I'll post that later when I have a chance to sleep...

I was so lucky that Cynthia - the guild president - contacted me to come down. It was just good timing, and it added so much to my trip! I hope they enjoyed my time with them as much as I did!

I drove up from Greenville, SC to Ashville, NC on Tuesday morning and arrived at Yarn Paradise just about in time for the class (yes, I got lost... but no one needs to know, right?) I think I was a little stern at the start of the class because I put the fear of Annie into my students, but soon I assured them that I woudn't bite (but I might slap - sorry Deborah!) and we all had a fine time. It was an interesting class because the skill levels spanned a wide range, but EVERYONE did a little ribbing, cabling without a cable needle and EVEN a little lace. All in Combination Style.

Renee, who owns YP (WHAT a tremendously stocked shop!) invited me to stay with her, so after a delicious Italian dinner with my 2 editors from Lark I crashed at Renees and slept like the dead!

Today before I drove home I stopped by Lark at 7:30 to give Linda, my editor, a quick lesson in knitting. I just couldn't help myself, I wasn't ready to accept that my teaching was over for this trip! After she'd mistressed the knit and purl and even did a few rows of ribbing it was back in the PT Cruiser and back on the road again!

When I pulled into my driveway this evening I thought I would cry. The kids did. Gerry's taking tomorrow off - and I am very happy!
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posted by Annie at 3 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, March 11, 2006

On Time

It took me a while to find my way here today - it's only 4 miles from my motel, but I got stuck behind a train on the way. We don't have a lot of freight trains in NJ - the trains we do have tend to run on trestles over the street or in tunnels underneath it, so it's not part of our daily traveling landscape. Well, not like here! Lots of trains, lots of tracks and lots of folks trying to beat the gates as they ring closed.

And then I kept driving past the building because I was being silly and just hadn't noticed the sign (I saw that it was the Town Hall, and no matter how many times I looked at the sign it didn't register until I drove by in the opposite direction - and Helena's not that big a town!)

Max would LOVE to be here - every few minutes a new train goes by, whistles sounding and bells ringing - he would be in 8-year old boy HEAVEN!

Last night was a resting evening - watching the History Channel (can ANYONE tell me where Boudica would have purchased her personal hygiene products, her razors? She was one clean shaven early Briton...) eating some Little Caeser's Pizza with a diet coke, reading, just lounging around. It's good to have the evenings to rest up for a change instead of teaching every day or evening.

Today I taught Combination Knitting - then book signing and another class this afternoon (Cabling Sans Cable Needle). Tonight dinner with Mercedes and her DH, then more teaching tomorrow morning, The Corset Top, and a long drive to Greensville, SC before I teach there on Monday.
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Friday, March 10, 2006


It's spring, and the wild turkeys seem to be coming out of the woods. Here are three that I saw behind the library in Woodstock, GA the other day.

And another Wild Turkey that's been seen in these parts, too.

I do a KILLER wild turkey call, a very little known fact, and for some reason this seems to excite my husband. Who knew? I discovered this talent when I had to travel to Gallatin, TN every month to do a color OK on Life Magazine (back in the early 80's when I worked in print production). One day they were having a turkey shoot at the plant and folks were trying different calls. I gave my attempt, something between a cough and a yodle and a nasal scream, and the turkey's seemed to respond very well.

The car is packed and I'm heading out for Alabama! I've enjoyed my time in Atlanta and found folks to be so friendly and full of love! Thank you all for such a warm reception and so much fun!!

Next stop - Knit Nouveau - off to see Mercedes!!
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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Home away from Home

After a wonderful evening at Dunwoody Yarns showing off the hats and talking about methods of wiring and finishing hats, I was pooped! The ladies in the class were SO kind, so attentive and really seemed to grasp all of the concepts so quickly. I discovered later that many of those attending were also teachers at the shop, which explains why they were such a great audience.

The shop itself is lovely - tucked into a very nice shopping center in Dunwoody (which is just a beautiful area) and with a very nice selection of yarns. The shop isn't as huge as some I've visited, and the selection wasn't ginormous, but it was a good selection - a very nice array of yarns in great colors. AND THE BOOKS! The books were fabulous - one of the nicest selections I've seen in a yarn shop on my trip!

Julie owns the shop - she opened it with her mother, who discovered she had colon cancer right at the time the shop was opened. Of course we bonded - losing your mother at a relatively young age is something that - sadly - makes women into sisters. Apparently she didn't even knit when the shop opened, but threw herself heart and soul into the craft and the business, and is a very admirable shop owner. I have met some of the most wonderful folks on this trip - as I was driving back to my cousin's house last night I was thinking how much I've enjoyed every stop along this trip, and I am SO grateful to the shops for having me.

I arrived after everyone had gone to bed, so I let myself in and put myself to bed. I'm feeling very much at home this morning - having a cup of my favorite tea, watching C-span and doing a load of laundry. Could life get any better? Well, Gerry and the kids and Atticus and the cats could be here...

Today I drive up to Gwinnett for the Original Sewing and Quilt (and knitting) Expo - THAT should be fun - then on to Snellville for a Finishing Class at All That Yarn this evening, one of my favorite classes to teach!
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Dunwoody Yarns

I'm here - just a hop skip and a jump from The Whole Nine Yarns, where I taught last night.

Taught is a grand word. I lectured - or rather, I blathered on for a few hours, wheezing and trying hard to get a good breath. This standing up thing is rough, sometimes! As those of you who have taken a class with me know, I can get a little - um, verklepmt? - at times. Last night the effect was heightened by my raggged breathing, making me sound at one point as if I were about to have a 'come to jesus' alter call. Ah, childhood memories of those day-long Sunday sessions at the Free Methodist church

The Whole Nine Yarns is just lovely - a very big, high ceilinged space with lots of natural light and an AMAZING collection of beautiful yarns. Debi, the owner, was a doll - and her staff and 'regulars' (it's always so hard to tell one from the other EVERONE seems like a staff member!) were just so kind and sweet! (I've decided that when folks ask me if I'm from the south I'll say, "Yes." They don't need to know I'm from South Orange...)

Blnnza (I know I've spelled it wrong...) a regular at WNY and a critical care nurse, made me feel so understood when I was trying to explain why the COPD has affected me in such subtle ways. It feels very good to be heard - thank you B!

Last night BJ, a regular at WNY, put me up at her lovely home and I felt doubly protected (her husband works for the police, she works for the sheriff - what could go wrong?) and this morning we went to a local goodwill for some hunting. I found many pair of jeans for the kids, a big bag of golf balls (?) and other sundries. I love Salvation Army and Goodwill Hunting - love the thrift shop scene. This either springs from my misspent youth as a teen runaway / quasi freak in Toledo where I did most of my intensive shopping at Sears or Goodwill; or from my days as a costumer, when I discovered the Salvation Army store on W. 46th street is the MIRACLE store in NY)

BJ had made one of my hats, and she did a REMARKABLE job on it - nothing makes me more proud or happier than seeing someone succeed in one of my patterns - I think that must be the thing that makes designers happier than anything else. It's the highest praise - like when someone clips a cartoon out of the paper and puts it on the refrigerator. When folks care enough to claim something you've done, that's the best feeling,

So, clutching my bargain purchases and wearing my new lime green bandana, I sped off toward Dunwoody - passing a post office (yippee! time to mail the books!) and enjoying the flowers and sunshine in the Georgia countryside. My cousin and I had a lovely heart to heart a few days ago, and she burst out at one point, "I just LOVE Georgia - I love living here!" It's so nice to hear how happy someone is where they live! The folks certainly seem happy and very nice down here - but could it be that I'm missing a little vinegar?

Speaking of vinegar, I had the most DELICIOUS barbeque for lunch today at Old Hickory House - a chopped pork sandwich with lima (butter) beans and broccoli (casserole) - just delicious! Afterward I had a piece of peach cheesecake and it's a memory I'll carry around for months. Just delicious. Now I sit at a local starbucks, answering emails and catching up on the blog, just getting back on my business feet after a few days romping around in a very lazy way.
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pondering Down Time

I'm at my cousin's house - the kids have gone to school, Deb's at her school (she teaches) and I'm here alone, watching CSPAN and returning emails. Soon I'll be off in Atlanta traffic, but for the next 3 days I only have teaching gigs in the evenings, with my days free.

I ended up buying a really lovely quilt yesterday, plus a silk comfortor on sale at Target ($88 down to $19) It's hot pink and Hannah will LOVE it! Washable silk, mmmmmmm I bought me a pillow, pillow cases (I've decided I'm tired of adjusting to a new pillow every night) and a new hat box to keep my current projects in while I'm traveling. As I move from shop to shop my boxes of books dwindle, so I have more room for - stuff - in the car.

I'm LOVING C-Span, but my cousin (who didn't have cable until very recently) has pretty much talked me out of thinking about cable for the time being. She has two teenaged daughters at home, and just feels that the TV stuff gets out of control with cable. The point is moot, because I've told the kids we have a choice; interenet access or cable. So far we enjoy (require) the internet access much more than we would cable.

All of this time alone means that I can't skirt the issue of GETTING WORK DONE. Procrastination, although fun, can't be my MO while on the road. I'm lucky to have my cousin's house to hang out in today - I may be able to assign some yarn to Romantic Knits projects, write a few patterns that need to be worked up, maybe even get in touch with some yarn companies (although my mail server out is wonky - have to figure THAT out...) to order yarn for projects.

I'm supposed to have yarn waiting for me at Knit Nouveau in Helena - stuff Gerry's sending down that arrived the day that I left - so that I can start swatching a side-knit paneled skirt I'm working up for Interweave Knits. My hands are itching to get to the yarn.

But in the larger scheme, I'm so happy to have some time off - to think, to rework things - not to have to drive somewhere or teach every minute of the next few days. Down time is a wonderful thing, it allows me to think about things tomorrow...

Speaking of Tomorrow...

Here are two of my students from Main Street Yarns - Melanie and Ashley. They didn't know each other before the class, they didn't arrive together or anything, but I insisted that they pose for this photo. Now I feel my Georgia experience is complete.
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Monday, March 06, 2006

My Cousin Debby

This has been a fun, fun, fun and wild trip so far!

Purly Gates, as I wrote, was a hoot (even more so because it was just down the road from a Cemetary - something I don't think they'd thought of ... - but it was just the warm up for Main Street Yarns.

From the moment I arrived I felt totally at home! Stephanie - who works at the shop and was instrumental in getting me down there - was a hoot and a riot and sat in on most of the classes (Shut UP!) She teaches classes there - I wish I'd been hanging around long enough to take one - and it's always such fun to see the regular customers interact with the folks who are usually THEIR teachers in a classroom setting!

The four classes I taught seemed to be all full - 13 in each (but only 10 showed up for one, or am I just living in a blur?) and I was so happy to be able to get through 2 full days of teaching back to back without becoming terribly winded. I sat down for most of the classes, it's true, but as I said to Ruth (the owner of MSY) I felt that sitting down forced me to attack the problem of teaching skills in a more thoughtful way, and perhaps led to greater success for the students. I know that this bunch picked up the slipped st plaid AND the lace patterns much quicker than many other classes I've taught it to - but I'm perfectly willing to chalk that up to the skill and intelligence of the class and not any difference in my teaching method!

A bunch of us went out for dinner on Saturday - in a different county where beer WAS for sale - and had a magnificent time (thanks Ruth!) We even got home alive (a minor miracle) - me with a six pack for future medicinal use. Last night (Sunday) after my last class a bunch of us sat in the living room masquerading as a yarn shop and chatted, drank wine, ate chips and had the BEST time just shooting the breeze. Well - most of us were shooting, one of us was working hard...

James is a worker at the shop who teaches crochet, but he doesn't knit. I promised him that if he gave me 1/2 hour, I'd give him knitting skills. He was up for the lesson last evening so I taught him the purl and the knit very quickly (he was a ringer, already having an affinity for needlwork) After that we moved on to ribbing, then it was just natural to teach him cabling, which he took to like an Irishman (or woman) to a good Pint. He was an amazing student, and seeing him gleefully finish three repeats of 4 st cables was the perfect cap to my Watkinsville experience. I was so chuffed that when I got home I read and went to sleep, didn't even have one of my chilled Terrapin's or watch the Oscars, I just rested.

I have to say that I saw more men knitting, buying yarn, and wearing sweaters they'd made themselves, at this shop than I have anywhere else! However, I have yet to see the gun and yarn shop I'm imagining exists SOMEWHERE in Georgia. Two of the knitters for Men Who Knit And The Dogs Who Love Them showed up to say "hi!" - it was such a joy to meet Lou and Doug in person! You'll have to wait until the book comes out to see their pictures, but they're fuzzy, funny, wonderful guys and I was so happy to give them a hug. Have I mentioned how much I miss Gerry?

Today I'm off - no teaching - and tomorrow during the day I'm free, too. But tomorrow night I'll be at The Whole Nine Yarns for a sort of Combo Knitting Lecture. Not a class as much as a talk (although I'll show anyone anything, for a price)

This afternoon I'm hanging out at one of the few Starbucks I was able to find (T mobile hotspot!) waiting until my cousin Debby or her daughter gets home so we can chat and chat and chat some more. I may run past Marshalls and see if sheets here are cheaper (I'm in a sheet buying mood - we're running low back home) and check quilt prices. I get to see this cousin Deb very seldom (I have another cousin Deb, but she's been Janese since childhood, and I see her more often than anyone else in the family) This cousin Deb is a teacher, a lovely person, and I just adore her family. The folks here at the Starbucks aren't sure what to make of the woman in the Knit For Brains T-shirt who pulled up in a purple PT Cruiser (NJ Plates) and has sat for hours on her computer. I think I'm scary. I think it's time to purchase another delicious coffee-based drink, or perhaps a salad...

They're blacktopping the parking lot, so I'd better go check on the cruiser, too...
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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Love & Traffic

I arrived in Atlanta just in time for Rush Hour - something I'd heard shouldn't be missed...

After spending what seemed like several days on 285W, I arrived in Marietta and checked into the Drury Inn. I am in LOVE with this hotel, and I will be certain to look for others when I'm on the road. There was a RECLINER in my room, wireless internet and they GAVE me soda and popcorn in my mini-bar. No $5 charge for water here...

The next morning off to Purly Gates - what a lovely group of women! Dana and Ginger made me feel as though I were a long lost relative and can those women wear HATS! I had the BEST time - we laughed and we knitted and I hope the class learned a lot. At one point, when asking for quiet in the room, I was told that it was futile to ask a room full of Southern women to be still. But knitting brain teasers'll shut ANYONE up! When silence fell on the room I thought they'd all be stupified by my nattering, but they were just concentrating so hard on the cables and the lack of cable needle (and prince charming...)

When I'd finished signing books and left to drive to Watkinsville, I was just in time for - guess what? - Rush Hour Traffic on 285 Been there. So a 70 mile trip ended up taking me about 3 hours. Yes, I should have stopped and had dinner, but I wasn't exactly sure where I was going and figured when I arrived I have a nice dinner with a beer and settle into the B&B.

But Watkinsville had other ideas. It's a dry town - very dry - so dinner wasn't the mind-erasing relaxation I'd hoped. I'm not a big drinker - as a matter of fact I have probably about 1 beer a month. But when I'm traveling I like to have a beer with dinner before I go to bed to help me readjust myself for a new day of teaching. Did I mention that Watkinsville is dry?

I drowned my sorrows in a pint of B&J NY Super Fudge Chunk, watched some ROME on the history channel and had a beautiful night's rest at the stunningly beautiful Ashford Manner Bed & Breakfast - what a lovely place to stay! I'm here for THREE nights and I'm so excited! Life is good!

I'm currently taking a lunch break between classes at Main Street Yarns. This is a SENSATIONAL yarn shop - well worth a visit - with a big, lovely, open area in the back of the shop which would be a wonderful place to just hang out! Maybe I will - after my class... Right now I have to figure what I'm going to teach in my Tips &Tricks class - it's the first time I'm teaching it (trying out material on the road...) and I'm hoping it goes well!

On Monday I'll drive over to visit a cousin who lives in the area - it's been so long since I've seen her - and that will be such a treat.

Oh, the book I mentioned in my last post was A Presumption Of Death and I enjoyed it quite a bit! Now I'm listening to White Teeth unabridged. I love my books on CD and a 6-CD changer!
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Wednesday, March 01, 2006


The drive down was great - I feel like I've had a jump start on Spring! Gerry packed up the car for me last night, I sent the kids off to school this morning (that was a hard goodbye!) and stopped by the library to pick up some books on CD so I could get through bad-radio areas with as little button tango as possible.

One of the books I took out was Presumed Dead I love the Peter Whimsey mysteries (I prefer to think of them as the Harriet Vane mysteries) and I guess this one was recently written as a continuation of a manuscript Dorothy Sayers started. It's keeping me entertained as I drive through the VERY beautiful countryside. I may have the title wrong, but I'm too lazy to go down and get it out of the car...

I stopped at the Plow & Hearth outlet shop and picked up some stuff - always a good place to get some toys for the kids or some euro-shoes for me (they have my size - hooah!)

Tomorrow I go on to Atlanta and settle in before I teach. I have to say that it feels SO good to not need to rush like a maniac, this taking an extra day to get here is a very good idea. Thanks doc!
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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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