Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's Max's Birthday!

He's 10 today - my son is 10!

TEN years ago today I had my little baby boy!!

Too quick - life is too quick... Here he was 5 years ago today.

And 5 years from now? Who knows. It's enough that we're happy and our house is full of love TODAY.

Are You Happy With Your Left Slanting Decreases...?
And now - just for fun - here's something silly. I'll finish the saga tomorrow when I share my secret for a beautiful Left Slanting Decrease (aka ssk or k2tog-tbl)


Look What I Finally Finished!
When I get the pattern proofed and checked, I'll have it available. It's a fun knit, I think it will be flattering on a lot of different figure types, and the yarn is AMAZING!
Plus, I really love how the sleeve caps fit - now I just have to see it on a HUMAN BEING!
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Gerry, Get Off The Bed

My breathing's been bad for about a week now - VERY bad in the last few days - and I'd chalked it up to all the running around for Max's party and my 'date' with Gerry on Saturday.

But last night I couldn't pretend any longer. It was seriously difficult to get a breath.

So this morning - after the kids went to school - we made an appt with a pullmanologist here in St. Paul for tomorrow (FINALLY!)

But still, my breathing was rough and shallow and all the things we're warned to watch for.

So our regular doc suggested I go to the ER, which I did, and after 4 nebulizer treatments and some xrays (no pneumonia!) I'm feeling shaky.

This was the first time I'd visited an ER for asthma and had to WAIT (how odd...)

Usually if breathing is bad, you're triaged immediately and go in first at an ER.

By the time I was called in (after a wait of an hour) my breathing was REALLY ratty. I think I had to have so many neb treatments because of the wait. I felt dizzy - at the point of passing out. Scary.

I've only passed out with this once before - a long time ago. It wasn't great for Gerry to have to see it, either. He has enough to worry about without me having 'episodes.'

Of course, I knitted all the time I was waiting - it helps to calm me, and keeps my breathing rhythmic. I got the feeling some of the folks thought I must not be terribly serious if I were able to knit (St st, which I could do blindfolded, is so taxing, you know...)

I think I'm going to take a few days to rest and not worry about doing stuff.

Yes, I was stupid and ignored warning signs, but the party was so important to Max, and Gerry had been so looking forward to the Blue State Ball. And both were important to me, too.

On a side note, during a Q&A I raised my hand to ask Steph a question and she called me "Sir" - and everyone laughed - and I was so embarrassed / ashamed that I told her "Never mind..."

Which made me sound like Emily Latella, and even more folks laughed.

I'm a tall woman with short hair, I should be used to being called "Sir" by now (especially when folks are trying to see me through stage lighting) but I felt so exposed - so gargantuan.


It was brief time travel trip back to Jr. High when I was taller than many teachers and just about all the students, and I learned that society will forgive a woman a lot - but not taking up too much space. It's changing. Slowly.

And I'm a head taller than my husband now. A couple masquerading as a sight gag.


There's nothing coming up in the immediate future so I'll be sleeping and resting. It will be very good to see the lung doc tomorrow and get myself on a regime that may be able to take me through Winter.

The problem, as I see it, is the "warmer" weather (high 30's) we've been having, and my lungs reacting to the new humidity. (Humidity & cold are evil hard for my lungs, the warm air raised the humidity, and - well - yes it's ALL cold here...)

So I'll see you in a few days. I'll be doing a lot of 'sitting-up-sleeping' and coughing up many lungs - just call me Mimi (I don't know why...)

I'll leave you with two thoughts that invaded my half awake mind at 3:00 am when I was up, surfing channels and trying to breathe.
1) I wonder if it was intentional to have Cheerio's be a sponsor of "Serial Mom?"

2) It seemed an unsettling juxtaposition to have the Sheer Cover Makeup infomercial (total ripoff of Bare Escentuals) right after Forensic Files on TRU TV.
Food for thought.
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Downhill Racers

Max's birthday party was yesterday, and Oh, man, did we have a BLAST!

We went out to Green Acres for tubing and pizza (we'd gone out late last year for a fun day)

The place was SWAMPED with folks - everyone had the same idea - and we had a lot of kids in our group. I did not tube this time, I was doing more overseeing. Gerry shot some film - if it came out and I can edit it, I'll post it soon!

It was the BEST idea we ever had for a party. All I had to do was pick up the cake, send out the invites, drive a couple of kids there and back and sort of oversee - no mess at the house (and we invited siblings to come, too! It was a long drive out there for a family just for ONE kid!)

The day was perfect - warmish weather in the high 30's (California, stop laughing at us!) I cannot believe how we lucked out! Had this party happened last week, we would have been in trouble (it was 14 below - wind chill in the negative 30's!)

Hannah has had a lot of outdoor parties at amusement parks and zoos, but this was Max's FIRST outdoor party. How odd that we'd move to Minnesota and Max would finally get an outdoor party for his 10th birthday...

When it was time to sing "Happy Birthday" EVERYONE in the place
, maybe 150 people, sang out loud - and Max was GLOWING!

I was able to use the gift certificate I won at Max's school auction for an Izzy's cake (our bid was $16 and I added $7 to it to cover a larger cake - the cake would have cost $37! Zow!) So overall it was pretty economical, too!

It was so much fun for the WHOLE family and a great way to payback some of the kindness of local families who have watched the kids in a pinch for us this past year...

The best part was that one of the dads is an ER doc, so we felt covered in case of any mishap (there were none to speak off - few bumps, but nothing serious. Yay!)

At the party one of the moms pulled out her knitting, and I showed another mom the knit stitch (actually, refreshed, she knew how to do it...) It would be fun to start a knitting group for the local moms - we could meet after we put our kids on the bus!

Later yesterday a friend came over to sit for Hannah and Max (her kids were at the party, so it was an extended playdate) and Gerry and I escaped to the Blue State Ball for a few hours. Gerry and I got to meet Stephanie Miller and Al Franken - a big deal for us.

I met a woman who had the most AMAZING tatoos & piercings. When she gave me her card later I realized why - she's a piercing artist! (Yet another of the folks you probably wouldn't meet at the Birch Society...) We were very tired, though, so we came home around 9:30.

And we are in love with the beauty of Minneapolis at night...
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Friday, January 25, 2008

Treats!

This week I achieved one of my personal goals when Brenda Dayne invited me to be a guest on Cast On! YAY!

So I'll be chatting pretty much non-stop this week on the podcast, Brenda could hardly get a word in sideways, and you're free to listen in.

Of course, actually GETTING the interview done was a bit of a hurdle. We're having a section of our basement floor opened up for a new drain (remember the roots-in-the-sewer-line problem this summer?) and during one of our interview periods THIS was the sound throughout the house...

While you're listening, if you're so inclined, take a moment and consider donating to Brenda's cast. She does a professional quality podcast that many folks enjoy, and that takes a lot of time and not a little money (bandwidth, etc.) Even just a tiny bit makes a big difference - think of it as the knitter's community rent party! And you'll get a sock pattern...

Creative Knitting

It was also a HUGE treat to get my copy of Creative Knitting and see the very kind profile Bobbie Matela wrote. We had a lovely lunch at TNNA back in June (when I was practically bald... I swear, everyone thought I was getting chemo, not Gerry...)

Bobbie is such a warm and easy-to-talk-to person. I'm sorry she's gone from CK, but glad that she's at Coats & Clark (and working with Nancy Thomas - lucky women - I think they'll make a pretty dynamic duo!)


REDUX
The Sideways Spencer Redux group is moving along well - excellent questions are coming in from the participants, and I'm working right alongside them!

Yesterday I cast on while waiting for Gerry's Physical Therapy, then I took a few hours later in the day to luxuriate in the Malabrigo Merino Worsted Peach Tree that I'm using.

I'm making my size (famous last words - I'll probably just end up felting the darn thing down to Hannah's size during a midnight laundry session...)

Speaking of felt - I've been playing around with different felting techniques - stretching fabric before felting, after felting, shaping the felted fabric, etc. This hat is nowhere near where I'd like it to be, but it was a good experiment for the brim - and Hannah looks adorable.

Bag Swag Hag
At TNNA I visited the Namaste booth - I really like the beauty of their needles and used them in some of the shots for Twist & Loop. I'm SO THRILLED that they have delicious bags now!

We chatted for a bit - they're such lovely folks - and surprise! I just got a gorgeous bag in the mail last night!!

If there were one bag I'd like to have, well - I just got it! (and I'm not usually a purse or bag nut - I like them, I use them, but I don't run to them like a lot of folks do...)

That was so kind - and this bag is amazing - I feel like I'm set for life! I'm totally blown away - Thank you, Kelly! I feel positively guilty for getting it. But not guilty enough to send it back...

Surplice Siesta
I took the day off from the surplice (have I mentioned lately how much I love this yarn - oh, yeah, I have...)

I had finished one sleeve and just wasn't happy with the drape of it (the cap looked skimpy) so I ripped the last 5" out last night and I'll rework it today.

Multi Tasking
I really LOVE having several exciting projects to dance between, it keeps my mind nimble and keeps me from getting bogged down. Right now I have the Spencer sample, the surplice, a hat I'm going to work up in Shaeffer and a facemask I'm fiddling with... It's COLD here...

I find that when I move from one project to another, I have to reacquaint myself with the pattern. This is a good thing, because it allows me to be as close as possible to the mindset of someone approaching the pattern fresh.

I find odd mistakes or unclear instructions that might not have leaped out at me if I just kept my head down and barreled through one project at a time.

I don't always have this luxury - sometimes there's a deadline and I have to be single minded - but this is a nice little episode of creativity I'm experiencing now, so I'm basking!
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm flattered (I think...)

So a few days ago I got a nice email from a publicity person at Interweave Knits who informed me that in a Knitting Daily poll, Sideways Spencer came in among the top 11 (an odd number, which makes me think perhaps it was #11...) The email continued (emphasis is mine):
On January 30 we plan to announce the opening of the voting period among our finalists to narrow down the field to the Top Five Patterns, which will be published in a complimentary eBook titled The Best of Interweave Knits - The Readers Choice Awards Collection, available in Spring 2008 for a limited time as our gift to our loyal readers and fans. All finalists will be honored in the eBook, but only the Top 5 patterns will be published; the eBook will only be available for free download for four weeks, after which it will be permanently stowed in the Interweave Vault.

Should Sideways Spencer be voted by readers into our Top Five, do we have your permission for one-time electronic rights to publish the pattern in this limited edition eBook? By participating you are not giving away any additional rights and weĠre not asking for exclusives. You will be paid $400 for the one-time re-use of the pattern (the sponsor is calling this prize money).

Intrinsic
I am flattered - really. I'm thrilled that folks like the design and make the effort to tell Interweave Knits. And it's very savvy of IK to take advantage of the average knitter's desire to re-investigate designs they may have missed - good strategy! But my problem is, they're giving the pattern away. As I said in my reply:
This is very kind of you, I'm flattered -

If you were offering to sell the pattern, I might say yes. But once something is given away for free, it loses it's intrinsic value.

I can't let that happen to my creative and intellectual property, regardless of what kind of press or publicity this may garner.

If you were to give away this pattern, you would - in effect - be taking mortgage money out of my bank account. Something that hand knit designers can scarcely afford (especially these days...)
Timing is Everything!
It's especially ironic as I've been toying with the idea of reworking Sideways Spencer (one of my favorite sweaters), working it up in more sizes and simplifying the instructions. (Similar to what I did with the Circular Shrug from VK, when I rewrote the instructions to 'universalize' the pattern so that you can use it with any yarn for any sized woman.)

My way of writing patterns is different than a lot of other folks, and there had been some problems with the IK pattern which sprung from my own oddball pattern writing style.

I think I've corrected this in my new version, which I'm calling Sideways Spencer Redux. I'm in the process of knitting up a new sample now, as a matter of fact.

Don'cha Wanna?
(sorry, you canna... I have my 25 knitters, ye bonnie lassies!)
So - because I wanted to get 50 other eyes on this pattern before I repackage it and sell it on my website - I've opened up another free test pattern giveaway. This time I've sent the pattern to the first 25 folks who emailed me, with the understanding that they are NOT to email, copy or send the pattern to anyone. Mums the word!

It's NOT a free pattern, but a way for me to exchange what I hope is a fun knit for some good comments & critiques from a self-selected bunch.

No pressure, no rush, no deadline! Just let me know what you find, tell me if you're enjoying the knit, and have a good time. And so you can determine whether this is a good knit for you, and as a sweet little c'mon for the non-free pattern... here is the first page of the pattern with the pertinent info...

And soon - oh, please, very soon - I'll have the new sample finished and the pattern up for sale!
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Monday, January 21, 2008

How Dry I Am

I've been on an unexpected hiatus - a little break - a vaca - holiday. I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling sort of dry. Dry skin, dry hair (and looking oh-so-grey), dry wit - and a dry well.

I've been writing a LOT of patterns in the past few days, doing a lot of math.

When my mind wants to move in that direction, I let it - it obviously knows better than I do in these matters. Numbers have a tendancy to fill my head and make it hard for me to think about other things, like blogging. So I've been quiet, but working!

I'm making nice progress on a surplice top which I'm very excited about. I think it will be a flattering look on just about ANYONE, and it's a fun knit, too! This yarn is stunning - so gorgeous - and it's been flying off of my needles.

Here the Yarn Place Bel Canto photographed with the Knit Picks Options needles (because they're wonderful and the project matches them!)

But the blogging was coming slowly, and I didn't want to force it. Dry well. So I figured instead of pushing it, I'd just let a little snow fall and try to balance myself out. Take some garlic, apply some gold bond lotion and see if I couldn't ferment a bit.

Cold, Baby!
Hannah had a sleepover on Friday - she was so excited, and had a BLAST! I thought she had fencing on Saturday morning - she'd neglected to tell me it was cancelled due to the holiday weekend - so I was up at 7:00 on Saturday to drive out to Suburban TC only to have her tell me when I arrived at 8:30, "Oh, mom, there's no fencing today!"

But it was a stunning morning - and I was very glad that I was out, even though I wouldn't have done it on my own. The sun was shining, the snow was blowing and it was a brisk -10 degrees (wind chill in the -30's - here's a photo of my car's temperature gauge, I'm pointing South)

It makes a person feel ALIVE, I tells ya. And not in the ' soccer team stranded in the plane crash in the Andes' sense of the word...

I remember 2 years ago I was teaching in Chicago during a VERY cold spell. I got into my rental car one day to see -6 and couldn't believe how frozen I felt. Yet Saturday - as cold as it was - somehow it seemed different. Is my blood thickening?

Since it was the coldest day since we'd arrived, it seemed good to celebrate by rushing for tickets to A Prairie Home Companion. Could there be a better day to stand outside and wait for our number to be called?

A good friend waited with us - Gerry and Max waited inside. So while the girls froze the boys schmoozed. We were soon the proud recipients of the last 4 seats in the theater at $15/each.

Our friend - who lives near the theater and had strolled over to meet us - graciously bowed out since we would have entered into an arm wrestling match to see who got the standing room ticket (After you! Oh, no, after YOU!)
The seats were scattered through the balcony, but close enough to that I could establish mom-eye-contact with just about everyone. Two seats were one in front of the other, so that's where Gerry and Max sat (so that G could keep an eye on M)

I have to say both kids did really well, even though it was clear they were getting near boredom as the 2 hour show came to a conclusion. I was proud that we could take them to the theater, not sit right next to them, and still have them behave in a respectable manner. Yay, kids!

Networking
Gerry attended a Multiple Myeloma group this weekend - he really enjoys getting together with the folks, but he wishes that there were more meetings. The next one was in 6 weeks. I wish that he knew a few local MM folks just to get together every week or so for coffee. Maybe when the weather changes.

Adina
I was shocked and very sad to hear that Adina Klein will no longer be the face of Vogue Knitting. I have really enjoyed working with her - she's a wonderful person and has had a strong and positive impact on both VK and Knit.1.

I'm really sorry to see her go, and hope to see her again soon in a very visible yarn related position, she's too good to not get snapped up somewhere soon! Here's a nice article about her by Crochet Insider, with a lovely photo of her, too!

Taxes
Getting everything together for the taxes was a not-so-fun way to spend the afternoon yesterday, but Gerry and I got a lot of stuff figured out. Now we're waiting for the 1099's and other surprises, then I'll input it all and see how it falls.

The Power of Dreams for 2008
I know that given everything we've been through in the past year - and in light of all of the help we've received - it may be an odd time to think about dreams. Or maybe not.

When I have these fantasies I ask myself, "Who the heck do you think you are, trying to set all this stuff up..." and I answer, "A mom who wants to make some astounding memories for her family while the making is good..."

Being in a similar situation as a kid - my dad became ill when I was 11 and steadily declined for the next 5 years until his death when I was 16 - I realize how crystalized those 5 years have become in my memory.

I also remember how grey and depressing that time was - and not just because it was Toledo in the late 70's - and my dad had a whole different set of issues than Gerry does. Alcohol & prescription drug addiction, for one thing...

But ultimately, life is beautiful - life is a gift. In the midsts of the deepest pile of sh*t in the universe, we have the potential to live the joy.

I guess I want my kids to look back and remember the joy when they think of these years we're going through now.

It took me decades to slough off the layers of pain and hurt that I'd buried myself in during that time - my protective covering - and I don't want Hannah and Max to have the same burden.

Dream 1 - Paris with Hannah
I've had a dream to take Hannah to Paris in October for over 5 years. Every year something has come up to make the trip not possible (first it was 911, then I became sick the next year. Then my brother died, the next year my cousin had breast cancer surgery, and the year after that I had to travel to LA for business and life was too busy. We all know what happened since then...)

So this year I'm starting a Hannah-to-Paris savings account, and I'm crossing my fingers that come October there will be nothing to prevent us going. I really should look into possible teaching opportunities there in October (although my French is nowhere NEAR good enough to teach in that language!) to make the trip more viable.

Dream 2 - Family Lake Fun in MN
Alternatively, and more realistically, we're investigating renting a house somewhere in MN (or Wisc) this summer for a week - maybe two - so that we can invite some friends we haven't seen in a year out from NJ to experience the joy that is Minnesota.

It may work better to find a retreat type place where friends could rent small cabins, too, so that we can be all together but able to find some solitude. And also share the financial burden more easily.

Anyone know of a place like that...?

So I'll dream about a nice, warm MN evening on a lake with Gerry surrounded with good, old friends.

And I'll dream about croissants in a cafe, or crpes while strolling along the Seine, with my girl - while I watch the snow falling in the alley.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dances with Happy

When someone finishes one of my projects and sends me a photo, I join in the dance!

Here's a shot of a beautiful woman at TNNA who gave me a hug and some kind words - and THEN I noticed she was from Maumee (I'm from Toledo - they're next to each other...)

And THEN I noticed her groovy skirt! Right off the cover of Romantic Hand Knits! I totally forgot the rule about not taking photos, and I snapped a shot of her in the skirt. It was the first one I'd seen except for the one I'd knit for the book - and, I shouldn't admit this - but until I actually SEE one of my patterns knit up I sort of only half believe that it's 'real' So this was a stellar moment for me!

The skirt has fondly become known as, "The Butt Skirt" around our house because I have the sense of humor of a 6 year old. You're all just lucky I don't go into the fart jokes on a regular basis.

The icing on the cake? This adorable little shot of a friend's daughter who is wearing a scaled down version of the skirt - and I've heard she's very happy! She wanted the same skirt mom made for herself - and I am so proud!

Along the same lines, I teach a Mitered Handbag Class and - because the class is only 3 hours long I'm generally long out of town before anyone is anywhere NEAR finished with their bag.

A student from a recent class in Virginia (Hi Joe!) sent me these shots that she took of her bag pre and post felted. She, too, has a 10 tweener daughter to model her stuff. This made me SO happy - I always wonder if folks actually continue on with the projects we start in class!

HELPFUL ADVICE FROM FRIENDS
First of all - thank you SO MUCH for all the suggestions about local hotel pools. I hadn't even thought of that - but I will, now!

I'd thought the JCC pool would be good (the whirlpool) because it seems to be a small group that uses it - but on Friday Gerry has his first PT session and hopefully we'll find more info on theraputic pools in the STP area then. Thanks, also, for the Sister Kenny suggestions! There's so much I have to learn about this area!

You know, I got an email from one of the accountants I'd contacted and she mentioned that her fees for corporate clients average around $1,000 - and I think I panicked.

I've decided, however, after getting all of my tax ducks in a row that the best route is to do the Turbo Tax thing, which already seems rather intuitive to me (I'm a Quicken girl), then if I'm feeling iffy about the return I'll take it to an accountant for a review. I'm sort of a geek, anyway, I love math.

And I feel that for various reasons it would be good for me to get my mind wrapped around the whole tax situation (assets, etc.) of our family now rather than in an emergency situation later...

Today was spent mostly on a doctor visit up in Maplewood - Gerry's starting Zometa again (yay bones!) and tonight is the Hebrew School / Fencing marathon we call Wednesday Evenings. Then - yes - Project Runway. Ahhhhh. Gerry's pretty knocked out - Zometa does that - but it also strengthens him so we'll take the tiredness!

I'm working up that Yarn Place Bel Canto and I'm amazed at how quickly it's knitting up! It's probably the needles, but much of is the sheer beauty of the yarn.

We all know how much faster we work when we see lovely fabric coming off of our needles! (BTW, the needles in the previous post - as here - are Signature Needles. I also was using a Knit Picks wooden needle in the former image)

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Back Home In Minnesota
(the place I love to go-ta!)

I love home. I can't even begin to describe how deeply I'm moved whenever I walk through my door, see my pets and my kitchen, go upstairs and see the kids and Gerry asleep - a redeye is a rough thing, but the arrival home at 7:00 am is pure gold.

So now I'm home, I slept a LOT of yesterday away (and was incoherent the other part) but in my half awake state I got a buttload of swatching done. I'm feeling slightly feverish though, so I'll be sitting and knitting quite a bit.

I'm toying with the idea of designing a felted jacket that could also be a NON felted jacket, depending on what size you make (and the care you give it post finishing) I could just have my head up somewhere it shouldn't be, but it seems to me that a LOT of folks felt garments without meaning to, and if I can work out the formula it would be cool to be able to write, "For a felted jacket in size X, knit size Y and then launder it and steam block it thoroughly after drying..."

Or not - maybe it's a dopey idea, or maybe it's really smart... Odd how many ideas walk that thin line between madness and brilliance, huh?


TNNA YARNS

And now for some dirty details about things that I saw at TNNA. If I visited your booth, or ran into you, and I'm not mentioning it here - please, PLEASE do comment or email me and let me know! It's not intentional, it's not a dis, it's just a foggy brain and forgetfulness!

I tried to get a business card from folks I met, and jot notes down, but I forget a lot (blame it on the gin... - damn you, Pam Allen, you with the siren song of demon gin!)


I'm obviously totally in love with Bonnie from Louet, and - next to Bel Canto from Yarn Place - I think it was my favorite yarn at the show.

That's a purely personal and subjective call, though, just my own preference! Suffice to say I came home with enough Bel Canto to work up a surplice top...

Dos - The new yarn from
Malabrigo is exquisite, I cannot wait to get my hands on it! I got some laceweight malabrigo at On The Lamb (thanks Joe!) and I've been fiddling around with felting lace. It was also - as always - a delight to see the guys from Malabrigo, and Nancy!!

Studio Worsted from the Neighborhood Fiber Co in DC was just lovely - I fondled it, and had a blast chatting with Karida (nice makeup, girl!) I especially loved the Cooper Circle and leDroit Park (at right) colors - yum!

Beaded Ensemble from Artyarns is exquisite. The blend of the sequins and the glitzy yarn makes an erratic and enchanting sparkle in the finished fabric. I cannot wait to do something with this, baby! My favorite colorways were 170G and 164G - I'm in love!

Buffalo Gold BAMBOO - Damn! I've lost the label from the skein of this fabulous yarn from the Buffalo Gold Fibers Co, and I can't find this product on their website, so instead I'll put a photo of the fellow who I drunkenly chatted up, with a variety of cowboy hats.

The yarn, though, is absolutely ASTONISHING as I knit it up. It knits beautifully (I'm doubling it with size 6 needles) but even more lovely is the sheen and the lightweight feeling of the fabric. Unlike anything else I've knit - different from Quiviet, not quite like silk alone, it's really stunning!

But definitely not firm enough for a cowboy hat. Click on the pic to see hats...

I just read Clara's post on Knitter's Review - Clara doesn't lose labels like I do - and here are the details:
"25% American bison down and 75% bamboo. This silky yarn with a fuzzy halo is a striking example of what happens when you properly blend two very dissimilar fibers."
Fiesta Yarns - I've loved their yarns for a while, but haven't used them much. I was very much taken this time with La Boheme in Rainforest, Verandah in Navajo Silver and the Rayon Boucle. Simply lovely yarns.

As always Lana Grossa and Muench were lovely - I'm dying to start a jacket with a blend of some of their yarns, and really fell in love with Bingo Chine - after all the hand-painted yarns, it was a bit of a relief to see measured colorwork in a yarn.

Bijou Basin Ranch - they had a lovely selection of yarns worked up with yak, in natural colors, and I'm going to fiddle around with some of them and try my hand at a little dyeing. Very cool stuff.

River Silks had some nice rainbow collections of silks, and I'm going to try some ribbon embroidery on felted work, some pre-felted embroidery and weaving the silk ribbon into lace eyelets to see how I can add a little shine to a
matte felted surface. The booth girls waving wands of silk ribbon added a nice Old New Orleans flair to their aisle, too...

TNNA MEETINGS
It was really kind of cool to be at TNNA this time with NO commitments except things I'd set up myself. Very freeing! I hardly felt I needed to rush at all - although I would have LOVED more time with Iris at Artyarns and would have loved a chance to sit with Kris from French Girl Knits.

As it was, though, I think I saw more this time than I usually do, and I'm considering taking a booth at a future show to push my own books. That is, if I can get my butt and head (and soul) wrapped around my idea for a new self published book.

On Saturday late afternoon a group of designers got together to discuss the concept of a union or guild, and with the exception of one objection in the Designer/Teacher TNNA meeting, just about everyone I spoke with was in agreement that SOMETHING must be done to address the low pay scale of hand knit designers. And I impressed everyone with my ability to sign the entire Union Label Song.
I'd envisioned it as being a very small group, and was surprised to see editors from two magazines there. But they were welcomed and we appreciated their perspective on the situation. I truly believe that we can creatively work together and find a solution for this low fee situation that will benefit EVERYONE!

One doesn't see editors working for what they earned in 1986. Photographers or models or stylists don't earn what THEY earned in 1986. When I worked at Martha Stewart Living, a stylist earned about $600/day, and that was 10 years ago.
We were told that a model works for the "ridiculously" low sum of $350 for a day's shoot because knitting mags are considered catalog work - to which one designer said, "Yeah, and that's about what the designer earns to create the sweater and write the pattern!"

If we can do nothing else we need to get the following information out to the knitting world:

Knit & Crochet Designers earn the same rate they did in 1986.
Lower, in some cases.


I did hear the comment, "What do you think you'll be able to do - do you REALLY think you'll be able to raise designer's fees?" - and I'm not sure if we will. But I believe that putting together a forum to determine a fair minimum compensation for designer's fees will not HURT us.

We discussed a few different scenarios, and the idea of a sliding scale for designers which will allow a designer to retain all rights for their pattern in exchange for a portion of the upfront fee seemed to resonate with many designers. The down side of that is that some designers DON'T have the desire or the ability to sell their patterns, so retaining copyright doesn't mean as much to them as to someone like me. Which is why the sliding scale might make sense.

One person presented the scenario that other, less experienced and cheaper designers will flood in to fill the void created by guild designers who promise not to work for peanuts. And this may happen.

But I believe two things will prevent this from affecting hand knit designers strongly;
1) Established designers have a proven following. Having a Nicky Epstein or Deborah Newton design in a magazine does make a difference in sales - and therefore in ad rate base.

2) Established designers can write a pattern. I've heard the editors say over and over how despondent they get when faced with non-existent or badly written instructions, which are more likely to come from new and inexperienced designers.

Using designers who know how to put a spreadsheet together and size patterns (and provide a sample on time) is more efficient, and a pound-wise investment for the editor who doesn't want to be pulling her hair out at the 11th hour before a shoot.
And - you know what? If it happens, it happens.
I can't really see where that would be any different than it is now, with the exception that any designer who would choose to band together with a guild WON'T undercut other guild designers. And in that position is power, I think.

It can't hurt for us to take ourselves seriously as designers and NOT as hobbiest who just got lucky.


If new designers want to become established designers, they'll soon learn that making ends meet doing this work is practically impossible, especially if there are some who can afford to and choose to work for peanuts.

Paying the mortgage doing this is hard, hard work. And I love it. And I want to continue. But I'm not supported by a spouse with a good income, and it's not a hobby for me, and as long as I'm taking myself seriously why not invite other designers along for the ride. We CAN come up with a solution to this that will benefit us all.

Exclusive
Speaking of self respect and dignity, folks who know me know that I really hate exclusivity.

I hate people who try to use rules or policies or money to make themselves feel that they're better or higher than someone else. The truth is, we are ALL special cases.

Today we had an experience with exclusivity that really surprised me - and troubled me, too.

Gerry's received the OK from his doc to get into a pool, and with his terribly painful back I've been thinking that water aerobics classes and perhaps time in a heated whirlpool would be great for him.

We'd heard that the local JCC (Jewish Community Center) has a nice, private whirlpool (for adults only) as part of their membership, so I emailed to get info on joining. They have a tiered membership, it's only possible to use the whirlpool for an additional 'special locker room' fee (or if you can get an existing member to bring you as a guest.)

The JCC dues for our family would be about $700/year, which is totally out of our range, and the price to use the whirlpool is $230 on top of that. We would, however, be eligible for a reduced rate because of our situation, and Gerry's disability. Unfortunately, if we receive a reduced rate, we wouldn't be allowed to pay the extra fee to use the whirlpool because that's only available for folks who can PAY THE FULL MEMBERSHIP FEE.

It's a perfect way to keep anyone who requires financial assistance from climbing into their special whirlpool.

We told them that we're really only interested in the special locker room / whirlpool for Gerry - I certainly don't need it - but their POLICY is that if anyone is getting a break in their membership, they are NOT be eligible for the private locker room.

I told the woman who showed us around that we're not prideful people, but we do have a healthy self respect and this arrangement seems to ignore the fact that folks who may not be as financially well of as others STILL have dignity and might like to experience a "nice" locker room.

Their point is that if a family has money to burn on a "nice" locker room, then they should be paying the full rate. Or, how dare those poor people think they deserve the niceties that we have! Eh. We'll keep looking...

Taxes
For those of you who wrote with tax info, thank you so much! It will just be outside of our reality to pay upwards of $1,000 to have our taxes done, though - which seems to be the fair going rate. So I think I'm going to take a crack at Turbo Tax and see if I'm able to work around that beast!


I'll be sure to blog about my adventure - but even if we end up going with an accountant in the end, doing the Turbo Tax route to wrap my mind around our current tax state can't hurt!
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Friday, January 11, 2008

So I'm here at TNNA, sort of feeling at loose ends because I'm not here with any Purpose - just strolling around, eating chocolate and drinking the occasional glass of wine. I'm showing my face - as my husband put it - so that folks know that I'm still around, viable and teaching (and designing!)

I have to say that I've been inspired by a lot of the yarns I've seen. There aren't a lot of NEW NEW NEW yarns, but the ones I've seen are extraordinary.

Artyarns has some new beaded and sequined yarns that are heavenly, and I'll probably be working them up in something soon. The problem with coming out here to Long Beach for the summer show is that I get so darned inspired to make SUMMER projects. Just when everyone needs winter ones to prepare for the next TNNA.

Lorna's Laces has new colorways that are exquisite, and Fiesta has yarns that I'd previously overlooked (high time I paid them attention!)

Honestly, I just feel that I'm too scattered and empty headed to do any of the yarns justice right now - so I'll try to write about them later!

Folks are incredibly kind - everyone's been asking about Gerry, very sweet, and their empathy is not so much a burden as a gauntlet of love that I have to run without bursting into tears. I did that today with Nicki Epstein - she's got that West Virginia thing going on that makes me cry - but otherwise I've been able to stay pretty dry in the eye. A minor miracle!

The weather here is lovely - I made a good choice staying at the Holiday Inn (free wifi as well as a decent price) and the rental car has been a dream. Yay. Bravo rental car, though, was a nightmare - so don't rent from them unless you're prepared to bring proof of insurance (I've NEVER run into that, and I rent an average of 2 cars a month!) and THAT was an annoyance...

Previous Post Note
I WAS using two needles - the KnitPicks wooden ones, and my new Signature needles. I was in the process of changing from one needle to the other, and thought I'd snap a photo of my two new needles that I love so much!

The yarn I was using was Malabrigo - which is a dream to knit. They have a new yarn called Dos which I cannot WAIT to try!

Par-Tee!
Last night Potter Craft had their party - always the best! - and I went with Jess & Casey from Ravelry. We'd had dinner and I drove them there - getting slightly lost and stopping so I could take pictures of the Queen Mary and of them in front of the lighted bridge. Favorite part of the evening - when Casey said, "You didn't tell us you were a little crazy..." So astute.

The party was lovely - I was more low key that usual but got to spend some quality time with Pam Allen and almost watched a fight break out. Damn. Now I know why they weren't letting folks have full bottles of wine (just by the glass) Someone could have broken off a bottle and we would have seen some REAL fun. I'm exaggerating - but I do love to see folks having a good time!

I've run into SO many yarn shop owners - and it reminded me of how much travel I do! I hit a lot of yarn shops, and love to see folks at TNNA. I'm so glad I came. Thank you, Gerry!

Unite
Tonight a group of us are gathering to briefly discuss the whole UNITE thing - I stood up at the Designer & Teachers Meeting yesterday and did my impression of Norma Rae. I don't anticipate it being a very LONG meeting - just a touching base before we flee to our various commitments, and a promise to stay in touch via yahoo group or email. The internet is an amazing thing!

I had lunch with Eunny Jang today, it's the first time we've had a chance to sit and really MEET in person, and she's SO lovely (and funny, and genuine!) She has QUITE a job, and she's managing it with more grace than I could ever muster! It was a fun lunch, and I'm glad we could connect!

I'm off to see more yarn, a few more needles and maybe scam another glass of wine. I need to be careful, though - I'm driving up to LAX tonight at 9:30 for my midnight flight. And I had the presence of mind to arrange a wake up call at 12:30am last night so that I was roused in time to log onto Northwest Airlines and reserve a bulkhead seat. I swear I did that in my sleep. But when I got up, the bulkhead was mine, and the trip home will be SO much more enjoyable!

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A short post

Because it's 6:30 in the morning, I have to "get up" in 10 minutes, and I still have a slight 'people hangover' from last night, this will be short.

The flight was pretty good - I had a bulkhead seat, and although it wasn't my usual preferred position (right side of the plane window seat so I can knit with equanimity) I was still able to knit.

As I was checking in, a guy with a Taiwanese passport was having a hard time figuring out the NW self check-in kiosk. So I helped him. He was grateful. I thought, "a good deed done."

Then when I got onto the plane guess who was sitting next to me? The Taiwanese guy! And guess who was so great that he didn't care if I knitted and the ends of my new, long needles invaded his space? The Taiwanese guy!

Life was good. Hours and hours of knitting - I didn't care that he took over the armrest so he could use the computer, he didn't care that the ends of my needles were waving in his general direction. The holy grail of air travel!

Since the twin cities are the mecca of fiber arts, the plane was crammed with folks going to TNNA (well, not crammed - I saw about 7) I hooked up with some fiberistas I knew from my previous excursions in the TC and, since I'd arranged a rental car for $8 a day (yes, that's the right price) and since the entire rental is less than a cab to Long Beach (and even less than a round trip Super Shuttle to LB)

I gave my friends a ride to the Convention Center. Whether they loved my driving is another story, but a good deed done!

Back to the hotel to rest a bit - shower - the whole thing. Then back to the Convention Center where I ran in to some friends, most especially Beth from Lorna's Laces (who is happily married and is the straightest woman I know, hairstyle notwithstanding). We sat on various benches, drinking martinis and G&T's, gabbing, comparing notes on our individual, continuing chest-headcold/bronchitis - good times! The whole TNNA galaxy passed by, we moved to a new bench.

In between we ran into folks, laughed like folks at a convention, and found that we'd missed the fashion show. Dang. I remember vaguely insulting two very nice men from Texas, but it was all in fun and one of them let me wear his hat. I have to visit their booth today...

I ran into Drew - we walked over to the AKD meeting where I ran into other folks I was REALLY happy to see! If I start going into names I'll regret my bad memory, so let's not do anything either of us will regret.

Eventually Edie Eckman - who I have decided is TNNA's own Sally Field - and I wandered off for a 7-mile walk to the nearest food establishment, where we were met by the Ravelry folks (Jess & C), Keri (who gave me a ride home - yay!) and some sexy babe masquerading as Lorna Meisner. Mama!

And we ate, then I went home. Hotel home.

More later. I have an 8:00 meeting at it's 7:30.
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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ken Follett Will Owe Me Royalties...

Well, it had to happen. I go and name one sweater after a character in a book, and all the other characters are clamoring to have their own sweater named after them!

So I present to you - Karis - another character from World Without End
. Yes, I'm boring - when I'm in the middle of an audio book it's not uncommon for me to listen to the same chapter over and over again. I just like hearing someone talking, I guess...

It's a short cardigan - cropped - and I'd originally intended it to be a trifle longer but ran out of yarn (see, now you know the truth!) so I had to revise my design.

It's a brand new yarn from LL (the same Organic Wool as the other sweater, but in a different color) and they only dyed what I'd asked for (which ended up not being enough - when will I learn?)


But when all was said and done, I was really happy to have such a nice, short sweater.

I personally feel that a lot of folks won't consider wearing a shorter garment, but it can be SO flattering - especially layered (and especially for those of us who may have thick-ish waists...) I love to wear shorter things over a longer top, and I'm glad to see it as a fashion trend right now.

This is also a pretty straightforward knit - not a lot of shaping, relatively simple charts, and all of the charting is written out as well as displayed in symbol format. It's a lot easier than Gwenda - and also easily altered for length and size.

I'm not going to open this up for a major test knit - simply because I'm leaving for TNNA in a few days and I don't think I have the energy to shepherd a new yahoo-group type project. I worked it on size 7 needles in a dk weight yarn, and it worked up pretty darned quickly!

So - with any luck - when I get back from TNNA I'll have this available for you as a pattern for sale. You know, I think I'll knit one up for ME while I'm traveling, thereby giving me a nice cardigan and test knitting one of the larger sizes. And I will, of course, display my progress here. Oooh - I'm getting giddy!

Malabrigo Coat Redux
Remember this behemoth that I was working on last year? I put it away when the sh*t hit the fan, and hadn't really thought about it much since then...


Well, on a recent visit to Coldwater Creek
(where, incidentally, I saw an exact copy of my circular shrug from VK for sale for $100...) I bought a jacket on sale for $30. A beautiful jacket - so stunning. And also inspiring.

It inspired me to drag out the felted mess of a coat and get out my scissors and cut and sew it into a real garment.

The fact that Project Runway was on didn't hurt, either.
I would SO be rocking that show. But, it IS for the best that I was - [sigh] - turned down...

I'll have this jacket at TNNA in the Malabrigo booth in case anyone there wants to see it! There will NOT be a pattern available for this, it's a one of a kind!!

Mayo Redux
Today we drove down to Mayo to pick up a disk of files; xrays, scans, etc. for Gerry to take to his new back/bone doc tomorrow. We're both sort of holding our breath, hoping against hope that this doc may provide a micro-flash of hope that we may find a way to deal with Gerry's chronic back pain.

I feel such guilt when I'm away because of his pain - there's so much that he has to do on a daily basis that I don't think twice about, but which can be overwhelmingly painful. When I'm not here not only can I not do it for him, but I can't help him feel better (run up to his room with pain meds, berate him for doing too much, or just giving him a rub and an easy hug)

This is the main reason I hate to travel - and here I go off to CA for 3 days for which I'm not even being paid.

I've been compiling my finances from 2007 for taxes, and - as much as it seemed I traveled all over the place - my teaching was about half of what it was in 2006. We're dandy - I'm not complaining - but it's amazing how quickly work begins to dry up when you don't actively seek it out.

And speaking of Taxes, I'm going to give a shout out to any TC folks who may know of a good accountant who deals with freelance and self employed type folks. Our taxes are so much simpler than they've been in previous years, I'm almost tempted to try Turbo Tax
(the last time I used that was when they had the major computer bug that threw off everyone's taxes about 5 years ago... )

We've used an accountant since then, but without Gerry's income and all of his job expenses
(and his many, many W4 forms) it will be a simpler process.

My 1099's are also more limited this year, less designing all around. But - on the bright side - so much more family time, which has been an amazing blessing. So if you know of an accountant who may fit the bill, let me know!

And now - off to my new knitting project.
Hmmm, I wonder what yarn I'll use...
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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Survey Results

Here are the promised results from the very unofficial survey I put up on Friday.

I hadn't realized that I'd be limited to the first 100 responses - I don't have a Surveymonkey account (but if I did more surveys I would - the website is very easy to use!)

So - for what it's worth - look this over and see what you glean. I found that pretty much all of my own, personal responses fell well within the majority responses. I'm part of the crowd - who knew?

What I take from this is that we're not paid well, we love what we do, we put a lot of ourselves into what we do, and we're a pretty bright bunch.

Bright enough, I think, to find a way to bridge this compensation / workload gap. Any worthwhile job is going to be a buttload of hard work - no one's complaining about that.

But the minimum number of hours that go into a design assignment are so great that we're left unable to put more time into our marketing, promotion or just quality of life.

So - something to ponder. But I hate to think what any of my editors this year would say if I asked them to work for 1984 standard compensation for editorial work...

And now - I go sleep - good heavens let this sore throat be gone by Wed so I can fly with pure joy on Thursday!

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Still Sick

... And even worse. Bad sore throat - so bad it even hurts to write... heh, heh

But as a consolation prize for everyone who missed Gwenda, here'a a free pattern for all of you.

It's Netty [link to a pdf file], a funky headwrap which utilizes a TTDS - Triple Twist Drop Stitch. It's a fun stitch, and a fun pattern, and will require you to hone up on your provisional cast on and 3 needle bind off skills!

Enjoy!
Link
TTDS - Triple Twist Drop Stitch:
Insert needle into next st and wrap yarn three times around BOTH needles, then YO around RH needle and draw YO through wraps, allowing all wrapped loops to fall off of ends of needle. Do NOT pull stitch tight until next row.

Oh, the yarn used in this - the amazingly gorgeous yarn - is

Knit One / Crochet Too Tartelette,
a 50/50 Cotton/Nylon ribbon, 75 yd skein (slightly less than one skein was used) in the colorway Sea Jewels 647
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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Code

I should be in bed.

Oh, wait - I am!

Well, almost. I'm about to go back up to bed because I'm suffering (I tells ya) Suffering with a sore, sore throat (not strep, the doc did the test yesterday and I don't have THAT, thank heaven) just a sore throat, runny nose and general malaise.

So, it being Saturday, I'm thinking I should be just fine for my flight to TNNA in Long Beach on Thursday. Nothing like a little enforced rest, n'est ce pas?

Previous Sweaters

The two sweaters shown on yesterdays post are new designs for Lorna's Laces. The pattern is written for the first one (yellow) and is about to be written for the reddish one. It's with their new organic wool, and it feels very nice!

With any luck I should have the pattern available for sale very soon - within a few weeks - on my website. I think I shall call it, "Gwenda"*

3:43 am Sunday Update: The patterns are sent out, folks - stay tuned for the official "final" version of the pattern when I get back from TNNA! And my throat hurts.

Sorry - offer expired! And because I'm feverish, here's an offer... To anyone who asks nicely before midnight tonight, I'll send you the raw pdf version of the pattern and you can try it out. NOTE: I won't supply yarn, I won't supply anything other than the pattern - and it's up to you to fight through it. I don't even have yarn specs aside from "worsted weight" and "dk weight" because that's all the info I was given!

Actually, this is my own sneaky way of getting it test knitted. It's a win/win situation: You get a free pattern (for a very limited time!) and I'll find some of the glaring errors that I haven't been able to see through my Nyquil haze.

Back to bed. With yarn and needles. And an audio book - weee!

*I'm listening to World Without End by Ken Follett, which contains a character named Gwenda. This looks - to my mind - like something she would wear...
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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Money, meet Mouth

So after all of my spouting off about designer compensation, fees, etc., I decided that it would be a little bit of a cop out to miss TNNA this year. I'd decided earlier not to go - I wanted to just be HERE for January - but Gerry is with me on this.

I'm going to fly to Long Beach on Thursday, schmooze and meet with like-minded designers over the next few days, then fly home late on Saturday night to minimize my hotel costs and my time away. If you'll be at TNNA and would like to get together with me, please email me and we'll set up a time to drink talk.

I'm hoping to meet with designers and members of the AKD to discuss compensation for our work, and the possibility of some kind of guild / union / structure where we can actually make ends meet if we do this for a living.

I've recently heard someone say, "Designers are a dime a dozen..." - but I disagree.

Good, professional designers are NOT a dime a dozen, and we shouldn't be paid that way.

I know it's tempting when you're first starting to undersell yourself - and a certain amount of free patterning is necessary to hone your skills as a designer, make contacts and get your name known.

But some venues take advantage of our willingness as a profession (yes, a profession) to undersell ourselves because we love what we do so much. Those of us who have been lucky enough to pay the mortgage doing this MUST stand up for all of us.

We must try to secure a playing field where it actually IS possible to pay the mortgage through design - what a concept?

It would be too easy for our profession to become a race to the bottom. The Wall-martization of the craft we love could lead to incredibly cheap patterns, and very poorly paid designers.

So in order to get a sense of how Professional Designers feel about the compensation we've been receiving - and how that compensation has altered over the past 20 years - I've put together a survey.

I'm intending this for Professional Designers, which I very loosely define as someone who has sold more than 5 designs [patterns]in any venue, or has published a book of patterns. The key word is sold, because this is a survey regarding compensation paid by the established publishing entities.

So if you've sold some designs - not just given a few away on your website - I invite you to take this survey. It's ANONYMOUS - I won't see your name, I won't know who responds, so I do sincerely ask that only folks who earn a portion of their income as designers complete it.

I know there are glaring problems with the survey - but it's only to test the waters, not for any concrete purpose. I guess it has to start somewhere, huh?

Click Here to take survey
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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 into 2008

So here's how we spent our New Years' Eve!

I woke early and rushed over to Minneapolis to pick up a carload of books - and I DO mean a carload of books!

Confessions has sold well this Fall, so I placed a large-ish order so I wouldn't have to think about reprinting in 2008. But I will have to think about storage...

On the way I stopped at Menards for some plumbing stuff. Then after the books I dropped by Costco for the 48 pack of single serving pizzas (again, storage...) and other feed-the-kids items.

Then I dropped by the local movie theater and picked up tickets for that evening.

Home for unpacking, storage consultations with my inner organizational guru, a sort of quick dinner and then off to drop Gerry at the movie theater (he held the seats) and then drop the kids off at a girls' soccer club babysitting evening (they had a BLAST!) and then a run back to the theater to find Gerry and settle in for a double feature of our making.

We saw Juno - and I urge ALL of you to go see this funny, quirky, insightful, tender, wise movie. It's so well cast, so well directed - it's a pure delight. And - special bonus - it takes place in the Twin Cities!

Or at least I think so ... I was late arriving so I missed the first part of the movie, but it really LOOKED like the area around here. And where else would you be if you were driving over to Mankato, up to St. Cloud and over to Stillwater (all references in the movie)?


I couldn't find Gerry so I sat alone. Apparently I was enjoying the movie a little too much because the couple 2 rows in front of me moved (I was waaay in the back, it wasn't crowded.)

I really didn't think I was laughing any louder than anyone else in the theater - I think they were sort of having a fight, so they were especially tense.

Sitting alone was odd, but good. I knew that Gerry was in the theater (in fact, he was only about 4 rows in front of me - I couldn't see him) but I was enjoying a certain anonymity, alone in my seat, knitting like a maniac. Good times.

Somehow during the day I managed to get a nice amount of work done on the LL Cable Sweater, and I sent that off today along with the red cropped cardigan. A nice feeling.

When the movie ended Gerry and I met up and shuffled over to Subway for some delicious 6" sandwiches. Now THAT is a NYE date.

Then back to the Grandview to see Sweeny Todd. Again.

Gerry hadn't seen it - he really wanted to - and I enjoyed it so much last week that I figured I could easily see it again. And - it was even better. It's been a long time since I've seen a movie TWICE in the theater - but this one was worth it!

But the best part of the evening was picking up the kids and driving downtown for a very late night visit to Mickey's Diner.

Fries and French toast and cheese sandwiches. I had a chicken sandwich. Our waitress sang, a girl with 3 shades of pink hair was sitting at the counter, and life was good.

We debated stopping by the huge Adirondack chair on Smith by the bridge and all piling into it for the countdown, but we were just too cold.

Back home we tried to watch the NY Times Square coverage, but we found it very depressing (Gerry said it looked like a telethon, he wasn't far wrong!) so we watched the Garrison Keillor special on PBS, which really was more fitting (and more fun!)

And then to our beds. Or, actually, all of us to our bed.

We all piled into bed to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and dreamed of the changes that 2008 will bring... Iowa, if you're reading, please give Mr. Edwards a chance...

And thus ends a very hard year. And a very wonderful year. On to better things.

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Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf


Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho



Chullo-licious


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