Monday, March 31, 2008

Mom
The official Heaven & Earth MoverŠ of the Landy family

We just got the call. She's in.

We hadn't expected to hear this soon - we're stunned!

I think the Breakthrough program is just the kind of challenge that will give the next few years a structure and focus which will allow Hannah to concentrate on her future. And make Dad's health issues easier to get through.

She - WE - worked so hard (contacting folks for recommendations, working on her essay, getting all the pieces together in just 2 days and then hand delivering the application) that the payoff of acceptance feels all the sweeter. And taking the time to meet with the breakthrough folks at the School Choice Fair so they remembered us ended up being a very good thing to do, too - yay!

We'll get the paperwork in the mail telling us the dates, etc., but she's basically making a commitment to 6 weeks of summer school AND 13 Saturdays of study during the school year next year - and she's thrilled!

It's snowing [again] in MN - lovely for the first day of Spring Break. But I remember April 8, 2003 when it snowed in NJ, so this isn't just a MN experience...

But NOTHING can bring us down today. Not even Gerry's lost crown (his teeth are in dreadful shape. A side effect of the MM and one of the drugs he's taking) for which he's at the dentist this morning. Ouch!

I think a celebratory game of SORRY! is in order - and pancakes for EVERYONE! Han and Max are in the kitchen making them now. Huzzah!

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Corner of the Basement of One's Own

Since we've moved here last Feb I haven't had any kind of office-ish space. I've taken over a corner of the living room where I work, and the front porch where I stash most of my yarn and finished projects, but I don't have a PLACE for me to work.

I'm thinking that might be behind much of my inability to focus on one project at a time - well, that and other stuff... But it's hard to feel that I need to put away all my 'toys' in order to keep the living room livable (I'm a Virgo, it's what I do.)

More than once I've found this need to put a project away in mid-inspiration* and take it out again later standing the way of getting REAL work done. *Or midspiration, there - I've made up a word!

The answer? A space of my own where I can just LEAVE my work in its' half finished state, and return to it later.

Ironically, the reason we chose this house above others was that although the bedrooms were small, there were four of them - leaving one as an office for me.

But life took over and Gerry and the kids adopted the extra room as their own, which I was happy to sanction (Gerry had such a hard time getting up and down stairs at that time, and the small bedrooms meant the kids HAD to have some place to stretch out and relax)

But this left me knitting in the living room and grabbing my yarn from the front porch. Not the best setup if you're trying to be professional about the whole yarn biz thing.

Well, that's all about to change!

The basement was a sad place. It was clean and dry, but unfinished. We'd just been shoving stuff down there. During the bathroom creation on the ground floor last Summer more stuff got shoved there, and it was getting insane.

Time for things to change.

We had to move one of the walls because it was sitting on a drain that had to be relocated (by order of the St. Paul plumbing inspector because now we have THREE toilets, woo hoo!) So while the wall moving was goingn onwe used this opportunity to insulate and drywall one corner of the basement which will be [drumroll] MY OFFICE!!

I've been painting the floor over the past week - a section here, a section there - waiting 24 hours for the paint to dry before I can move all of the shelves and basement stuff over to the new, dry section and paint the next section. As I move it, I've been dusting it (it's filthy) and the kids have been helping. Just like when they used to work in the mines. Happy days....

And now the floor is done! It's been an excellent opportunity to reorganize how we have the stuff downstairs, and I think we'll be able to fit so much more stuff in a more easily accessible way. This week, while the kids are home on Spring Break, we'll be doing a lot of moving things BACK onto shelves and helping Mommy create her own space. Evidently Mommy thinks she's Virginia Woolf.

Gerry will have an area where he store tools and hardware things, and I'll have an area where I can store my yarn and books, get away to do quiet work when the kids have friends over, and just HIDE sometimes. I'm not even going to set it up like an office, but more like a little sitting room with comfy chairs and bookshelves. Yay, my own space!

SLOW WIRE
I've also been working on the knitted wire screens for our cabinets, but have been seeing little progress. I have so many other projects to work on right now - which is good - that I'm not giving the wire top priority. And it's not exactly the best thing to take through airport security when I fly, so I only work on it at home.

It's an adventure though - when I have a half decent screen to show, I'll post photos. In the mean time here is my work on the wire!

OH, Wool!
One of those aforementioned projects is my O-Wool Cardigan that I've been working on. It's so much fun to knit- I'm really enjoying it - and now I'm just about ready to join the sleeves to the body and continue working the whole thing as a yoke with raglan shaping.

Does anyone else get this damned excited over joining a front and back and two sleeves? I always cry at weddings...

PEAR OF BEAUTIES
Shopping yesterday at Rainbow I saw these pears - so beautiful - I bought two. A nice lookin' pair.

And I have just the goat cheese and sausage to go with them in a nice salad!
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Blog

I've debated turning off the anonymous option for comments, but haven't up to this point because often folks choose the anonymous option because they think they need to have a blogger ID to post. You don't, you can choose to post under any name you like.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to turn it off, and I'm sad about that.

And anonymous isn't really anonymous. My web stats tell me where folks are writing from, and it's easy to see when many posts come from the same location.

If what I write 'alienates' folks, so be it. Anyone who is alienated by my blog would definitely NOT like a class with me or one of my books, which are filled with the same opinionated, strong thoughts that the blog is.

I write what I write, and I write the blog for me more than for anyone else. My goal isn't to make as many friends and fans as possible, it's to try to clarify - for myself - what is going on in my life and in my design world.

To read my blog when it offends would be masochistic. Stop hitting yourself. Life is too big and beautiful and full of joy to cling to things that pain us. So move on to something that brings you happiness, don't spoil what time we have.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Show Time
Teacher Compensation at Larger Venues

I'm returning to this topic - as I will again in future - because I believe it's at the heart of the strong, sustained growth of knitting as a pastime and, for many of us, a chosen vocation.

It seems that with the larger show budgets and clout, they do a very good job of representing themselves and setting the rules. These rules make it very difficult for someone earning their living as a teacher to pay the mortgage, while the shows continue to do better than that.

If a venue believes in a teacher enough to hire them, they need to provide the basics. I believe those basics to be:
  1. A private room (not shared, not a "half room")
  2. Compensation for reasonable travel (not just a "portion")
  3. Per diem for meals (I only ask for 1 meal a day in my contract)
  4. Ability to teach at other venues in the area*,
    4a. or additional compensation for an 'Exclusive' to cover the loss of income**
I've spoken to more than one teacher at Stitches where the bitterness from the many demands by XRX (requirement to attend banquet & fashions show with no extra compensation, sharing a room, accommodations far from the teaching venue) colors their interactions with others at the show. The teachers are professional enough not to 'take it out' on the students, but the raw feeling of being taken advantage of is absorbed, and HAS to affect their teaching (and their lives.)

The way we allow others to treat us today - personally and professionally - directly correlates to our quality of life tomorrow. I'm finished with allowing venues that enjoy the income from the 30+ student classes I teach dictating what I can do in my outside time - and not compensating me fully into the bargain.

Yes, I'm in a special position. I fill classes and have name recognition. But if someone like me, who happens to be at a good point in my teaching career, doesn't stand up for all of us, well-known and lesser-known teachers alike, then who will?

I will not always be at this place, careers rise and fall. In fact, speaking out like this doesn't exactly help my personal teaching career. But NOW is the time for those of us who teach to make our simple - and reasonable - requirements known.

If this continues, the only teachers at these venues will be
  1. New teachers who accept inadequate conditions because they feel they must
    (they don't, and this acceptance helps keep compensation down for all teachers)
  2. Teachers who feel the visibility of teaching at such a venue is worth the economic loss
    (it's not***)
  3. Teachers who are affiliated with the venue in some way
    (paid staff of the venue)
  4. Teachers who are subsidized by a related company - non-independent teachers
    (and therefore can use the class to promote a yarn, book, etc.)
  5. Teachers who do not realize their worth.
So what happens to the independent, unaffiliated teachers? They either suck up the one sided contract and sign it, or they don't teach at the larger venues. This isn't good for knitting, it's not good for the students, and eventually it's not good for the shows, either. It's a race to the bottom - how little can we pay our teachers and still get ones that will bring in students? - and it won't stop until teachers stand up and say "No."

I do understand that some teachers would be attending a show anyway, and figure, "Hey - at least I get part of my expenses covered!" But this is a false economy. The money saved in "expenses" will be lost when that same venue wants the teacher to travel to a show they don't really want to go to. At that point the teacher has already set the precedent of accepting less than professional compensation, and it's harder to back track and at that point ask for fair compensation.

Teachers are scared to take a stand and habitually accept less than is professionally feasible from the larger shows. But this is our living. Knowing students are in our corner will give us strength to turn down a job or two. Having students request our classes will make the venues think twice about barring teachers who ask for fair compensation or are 'trouble makers.'

I am NOT advocating a boycott of any venue or specific show, but I am asking that those of you who attend these shows think hard about how the teachers are being treated, and ask yourself if there is something you can do to let the organizers of these shows know that treatment of teachers matters to the students. And if there's a teacher you like, let the shows know that you would like to see classes from that teacher.

Believe me, your well being while you're in our classes matters tremendously to us. I know that your teacher's well being matters to you, too.

*if other teaching in the area occurs, the travel, hotel and meal expenses should be divided equitably between all venues.

**If a venue wants an exclusive, they need to be willing to pay for that benefit. It is NOT something we should just give away. Our names and reputation ARE our income, if a venue wants to prevent us from teaching in some geographic radius, they need to pay for the privilege.


***I had a reality check and finally understood that teachers do more to bring students into a show than a show does to further a teacher's career. I was once told by the owner of the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo - after being shorted on my expense check - that "THEY had been responsible for my growing visibility."

This was in the year that I had 3 books come out and taught at at least 5 venues a month. [sarcasm alert] Yeah, they had a LOT to do with my visibility - my hard work, talent, appearances on Knitty Gritty, blog, designs in magazines, my hundreds of appearances at yarn shops in the previous 5 years - they pale in comparison to my appearance at a sewing expo...
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Consious-Self

It's been an odd kind of weekend, everything seems slightly askew - a little bit out of control - but not in a scary way. Just in a slightly worrisome way.

The kids were home on Thurs and Fri, which was good since there was a teasing and retaliation episode at Hannah's school (Hannah was the retaliate-or, and unfortunately it involved swinging her heavy backpack - a registered weapon MN - at a kid who was probably just trying to be funny, but who has a history of teasing Hannah and Max so H tends to be ultra-sensitive) So, for the first time in Hannah's school career (let's hope the last) she was 'written up.' Dang.

She has my sympathy - she's still learning to control how her emotions and actions collide. But it's vital that she learn the lesson that when one person behaves like a 5-year old, it doesn't give the other person permission to behave like a 4-year old. So she spent a morning in the 'choices room' - sounds like study hall - and thought a lot.

BREAK - through?
She was feeling very keenly a huge disappointment, though, and this was probably playing in her mind and soul as she was being teased on Wed.

Earlier this Winter Hannah had been part of a group in her class who were told about the Breakthrough Collaborative here in St. Paul. It's a national organization, run individually, that offers extra support and tutoring to kids in middle school as they move toward college choice.

I'd heard about the program on the radio, but when Hannah came home from the presentation she was GLOWING. She was so excited to apply for it. We looked it up online, but the website was short on details (like application deadlines, or an application itself...)

To me it seemed an answer to a dilemma. The next few years will be rough, we're gearing up for it, preparing for the 'trip', but we don't really know HOW Gerry's illness will affect the kids when the s*it hits the fan.

Based on this year's experience we assume that the disease will follow the path that's been projected by the Mayo & Gerry's oncologist - and although we're hopeful, we're also realistic.

I lost my own dad when I was 16, and it affected my life much more subtly than I realized at the time. I eventually dropped out of high school (but went to college the next year, I'd been accepted and had decent SAT scores) But I felt adrift because my mom just didn't have the time and energy to see me through my college application process, or help me with my school work. She was just trying to keep body and soul together.

So when I read about this program I thought, "This could be the bridge that helps Hannah get through what could be an incredibly rough few years, and keep her on track with her education!" Not that I'm looking for a surrogate, but I'll be happy for any extra help to focus Hannah on the prize.

It's specifically designed for kids in high needs situations; single parent, low income, minority - so at first glance Hannah might not seem eligible. We spoke to a woman from the BC at the school choice fair in Feb and explained our situation (which was awkward and involved sending the kids off to look at some balloon folding exhibit or something) but there were things that had to be said, and NOT in front of M& H.

We learned that Hannah IS eligible based on a few different criteria, so we were really excited.

Hannah had assumed that when the applications were ready they'd be given to the kids who attended the information session. At least one other kid in her class thought the same thing.

Her teacher did have the applications, but was only handing them out to kids who approached her and asked for them. Hannah hadn't realized she was supposed to ask - and was shy about it. So we missed the deadline for application.

When Hannah came home last Tuesday and told us she was in tears. It was a very difficult situation, and I called the BC right away and - luckily - spoke to the same woman we'd met at the school choice fair. She remembered us, and said she was pretty shocked not to get an application from Hannah.

At school, when weeks had gone by with no application from her teacher, Hannah figured that the BC must have a late application date. This period coincided with me being away for 2 weeks in NJ and in VA for a week, and I have tremendous guilt for not being here to follow up on the whole thing.

At Hannah's parent conference, which ironically was to take place that same Tuesday, we brought up the application problem. Her teacher had assumed that 1) Hannah wasn't interested and 2) Hannah wasn't eligible.

We both had the feeling that the teacher had been holding the application back - perhaps thinking Hannah's lack of eligibility made it silly to offer her an application. The conversation that followed was surreal - me explaining, Gerry concurring, that our situation was changing constantly, deteriorating steadily.

Every time we have to talk about Gerry's disease out loud it just seems unreal. Feeling the need to justify Hannah's desire to apply for the BC to Hannah's teacher was awkward, too. It felt as if extra hurdles had been put up, with no warning or explanation of how to jump over them. We've already crashed one, but we're hoping it doesn't knock us out of the race.

Later in the office we asked if they had an extra application (the woman from the BC said she'd send one to us, but we figured if we had one to start on right away it couldn't hurt) And once again we were in the awkward situation of explaining to the principal that yes, Hannah IS eligible for the program because - see this guy standing next to me - notice how he's 6" shorter than he was this time last year, well, blah blah blah...

God, I get sick of explaining this.

We are a society that is in denial. When folks ask about Gerry and I explain the disease and the prognosis, the response is, "Don't believe the worst! Have Hope! Things can change!" Lovely sentiments, but I believe they're being said more for the benefit of the cheerleader than for our benefit.

I don't think we ARE believing the WORST. We're being realistic. Yes, things CAN change, and we both hope they do. Desperately.

But hope is expensive. The energy and concentration it takes for us to make each day as rich and full as possible - to get everything out of life that we can - just about saps our resources. There isn't a lot left over for hope (false, or otherwise) so we just live realistically and - yes - hopefully. But we don't base our lives on hope.

And this really bothers some folks. I'm not sure why, but folks want to hear, "Yes, we'll BEAT this thing, it won't get us!" as if we can just deny, deny, deny and then one day when we're 88 we'll go "poof!"

The fact is, disease happens. Sometimes it shortens life. It sucks, and it's unfair, but it doesn't have to ruin - or even diminish - a life. We don't spend every day shopping for caskets, but we also have a realistic outlook on where our family will be in 3, 5, 7 years. No one can tell the future, but we can prepare. I know what it's like to NOT prepare - I experienced that when I saw my mother work like a dog for 10 years to crawl out of the financial hole my dad's death had put us in.

So if I want to have my daughter apply for a program that's intended for kids in difficult situations (single parent, low income) I think - given our circumstances - Hannah has a right to.

We're going to try to apply anyway (with a note from the teacher explaining that she had not passed out the applications) and hope for the best. Right now Hannah seems adrift, I can only imagine how much more detached she could feel as circumstances evolve.

More Detached
When we went to see Jane Eyre on Saturday I sensed a sister-feeling to the young Jane who was chastised for pummeling her teasing, bigger cousin. Even without the enticement of twelve 11-year old actors on stage, Hannah would have been hooked.

It was an excellent production! I notice the costumes - it's where my heart is at - and these were quite wonderful. The subtle differences between styles presented so much information subconsciously. The set and costumes were the work of the same designer - Patrick Clark - and it all worked beautifully together. Excellent staging, a wonderful adaptation, and top rate acting - it was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I've spent at the theater. Just being at the Guthrie felt like a religious experience.

It's been years since I've seen a play - I hesitate to go because it dredges up so many deferred (denied?) dreams. I love costuming, and perhaps someday I'll return to it (when the kids are older) but for now I channel the need to dress folks up in period bodices into my hand knitting design.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

You're Beautiful When You're Messy

St. Paul, you are an amazing city. I try to hate you in the snow, but you're so beautiful - I can't stay mad at you...

Yes, it's snowed again. At least 2", with 2" more to come today. Happy Good Friday!

At some point I'm sure Gerry will take the kids sledding (having them at an age where they can basically do the heavy lifting themselves, and we just have to drive there and watch them is phenomenal) and I'll stay home and get some pattern writing stuff out of the way and maybe I'll even knit.

And then - drumroll - tonight we're actually going to try to ATTEND SERVICES at our temple. Finally. It's only taken months of membership.

We've meant to go for quite a while, but laziness more than anything else has held us back. It's true, I'm away many Friday nights, but I'm also HERE often.

Yes, Gerry's in tremendous pain at the end of most days - but somehow we manage to get out to dinner every now and then, so we should be able to get to services.

Besides, it will be a wonderful thing for the kids to see that Gerry and I actually KNOW the services - know the words and the tunes - and that will encourage them to become more active. Maybe.

I have a new routine where I walk Max a mile to school on non-messy days;
  • It's good for him (he burns off energy that needs to go somewhere!)
  • It's good for me (I get a 2 mile walk out of the deal)
  • It's good for Atticus (he's the happiest dog in the world when he's out for a walk.)
"BUT YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE..."
I ran into a few friends on the way home from walking Max to school and we had the world's longest casual chat over free coffee at Kowalski's. It's so wonderful to know folks in the neighborhood - and even better to just run into someone and have an impromptu chat!

So they'll be over to dinner this weekend - yay! It's good to have folks over, and gives Gerry a chance to see friends in a comfortable setting.

Speaking of friends, I'll be going to see Jane Eyre at the Guthrie this weekend with a friend and we're taking our daughters! (Thank you, Flan!)

I hope Hannah likes it - it's a wonderful story - and we've got good seats! They're papering the house as reservations are down due to the holiday weekend, so we're very lucky.

This will be my first time at the Guthrie (high time!) so I'll be attending two different kinds of 'services' this weekend.

WRITING
I've starting putting together the piles of essays I've been writing over the past year - threading them on some kind of narrative cord (silk or polyester?) - and these will, with luck, turn into a book that I'm self publishing late this summer.

It's about our last year here in St. Paul, dealing with the stuff that's come across our path (both good and bad) and I hope I'm able to portray the deep wonder, gratitude and apprehension that's marked every day in this wild year.

My tentative title for the book makes me cringe a little, but I'm sticking to it. Knit with Courage, Live with Hope. Love also makes me cringe a little - often with something that's felt deep in the soul there's a little bit of squirm factor.

No matter what title is chosen, folks will both love and hate it, so I figure I should pick one that sums the year up succinctly. (Knit, Pray, Love was taken...)

HOME IMPROVEMENT
I think I'm happiest with paint spattered on various parts of my body, a roller in my hand and a finished wall in front of me. We did a little moving of walls in the basement (had to move a drain) and in so doing we created a room for me to use as an office. So before I went to NY I painted it, and yesterday Gerry did touch up on all the holidays (light, unpainted spots) and then came the main event.

-:] The Epoxy Floor [:-

I'm more excited about this than I've been about almost anything this year. Which is a little sad, but it IS a nice floor...

We bought a kit at Menards with paint, epoxy activator, and colored chips to toss onto the wet paint for a terrazzo look. Actually, it's a 1950's kitchen look, but we love it!

I can't show you the actual basement yet, because it has to dry for 24 hours before we can walk on it (so it should be ready at 8:00 pm EDT) But here's the landing of the stairs.

Yes, I know the paint is for the basement, but as I painted myself over to the stairs I realized how BAD they looked, and I had enough left over so I just painted the steps, too. Note to self: Leaning over and paining the rises on stairs upside down is hard.

I actually painted myself right out the side door, then I left the paint, roller and empty can at the side of the house. And there they stayed all night. Evidently I was experiencing a lack of follow through...

The tossing of the chips (we used both grey blend and green blend) was very festive, rather like saying "Bon Voyage!" to folks on the dock as the Queen Mary pulls out. Or the Titanic. Let's hope not...

Gerry said he felt "like a fairy" as he tossed his dust around. My husband, some wacky fairy duster.

TEAM
Working on the floor with Gerry was so wonderful - it feels like FOREVER since we've done something like this together, and he's feeling well enough that painting the edges around the floor was right up his alley. He knew he'd suffer today - and he IS suffering - but it's something he really wanted to do.

He'd had a plan to put a ceiling up, and I tacitly approved. It was something he felt he had to do - really WANTED to do - and to stop him felt like taking Max's bionicles away. So off Gerry went to Menards to buy a "system" to put up a ceiling, and I bit my tongue. Doesn't Cokie Roberts say you can tell a good marriage from the bite marks on the tongue?

Weeks passed, He'd put time in on it, then he'd suffer for days. It became clear that this wasn't a good idea, but it was hard to actually say this to him. The former Gerry would have had the ceiling up in a weekend. Present Gerry was having a very hard time.

Part of me wonders if he was dragging his feet because he's a procrastinator (always has been...) or if he was going slow because on some level it was beyond his current ability and he didn't want to face that fact.

We'll never know because I made an executive decision and relieved him of the dilemma. We returned all of the unused ceiling stuff (95% of it) to Menards where we bought the aforementioned epoxy basement floor paint. A small heartbreak.

I'm hoping the epoxy floor will make up for it. Doesn't an epoxy floor make everything better?

Gerry's lost so much this year, the last thing I want him to lose is his sense of self - or self-respect.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Before Snow

As we were driving home from the airport it started to snow. Gerry said it had been snowing off and on all day, but not sticking.

Now it's sticking.

It's 5:00 am, I went to bed SO early yesterday as I was just bushed, so now I'm up early. And it's a winter wonderland outside!

Here
is our neighbor's house at 5:00am in the snow.

I don't think it will last long, it's been warming up here in St. Paul. But it's pretty until the sun comes out and scares it away!

So now I'm home for a bit. Time to dust off the projects I've been talking about and GET THEM DONE! Enough of this 'holding pattern' existence, time to roll up the sleeves and accomplish one or two of my goals!

It was great to be in Virginia Beach, the Knitapalooza event was so well organized by Bobbie & Ayesha & Ewe Knit - all of the attendees I met were enthusiastic and EXCELLENT knitters! I've seldom taught so many really DIFFICULT classes back to back with so much skill displayed by the students.

Teaching is fun (and exhausting, but anything worthwhile is going to be a bit of work!) but now it's time to get some projects out of the twilight of 'almost finished...' into the bright sunshine of COMPLETE!

New Strategies
I keep thinking that teachers and designers developing their own fiber related workshops in a neutral setting (like an airport Hotel) is the direction to move in the future. I'll never stop teaching at yarn shops (and I don't use the word "never" lightly) but bringing in teachers is a big expense for one shop.

If one shop can't afford me, it can be hard to find multiple shops in an area that are cool with sharing a teacher (and expenses.) This also involves a dance of soothing fears and convincing owners that classes will fill (or at least balance out...) So for those areas where there may not be shops able to host a teacher, a traveling teacher/designer based workshop may not be a bad idea.

Teach the Children Well
Some folks teach their kids about fishing, or cooking, or how to speak a foreign language. I teach my kids comic delivery. As usual, once I was in the car at the airport the kids were nuts to tell me new jokes;
Max's joke:
One muffin turned to another in the hot, hot oven and said, "Is it getting warm in here?" The other muffin screamed and said, "Aaah! A talking muffin!"

Hannah's joke:
One cow said to another, "Have you heard about this Mad Cow Disease? Apparently it makes cattle insane, and it really has me worried!" Her friend replied, "Worried? I'm not worried! I'm a helicopter!"
I explained to Hannah that a funnier punchline would have been, "Worried? I'm not worried! I'm a talking muffin!" But only if her joke follows Max's joke.

And this is how we instruct the children the development of leitmotif in humor.

Knitty Call
While in VA I was chatting with a guy in the business center (ie, closet with computer & printer.) He and his wife were in town for her brother's wedding (she was marrying her brother... she's a minister.)

It turned out that learning to knit had been something on this guy's list of 'things I'd like to do someday' so I offered to show him the basics. We made a tentative appointment to meet in the lobby the following day after classes.

I joked with my afternoon group that I had a "knitty call" to make after class. Unfortunately, the timing for our lesson didn't work out - when I called I spoke with his wife, who was lovely, but they were on their way out to dinner.

That evening when folks asked, "How was the knitty call?" I'd answer, "Not good. His wife answered the phone..."

When I got to the airport early for my flight, who should be at the next gate waiting for their flight but my new friends!

An impromptu knitting lesson for both of them ensued, and I left them with a small ball of wool and some bamboo circular needles so they could practice. It really brought home to me the difference in teaching men and women to knit. I don't like to make generalizations based on sex, it's not usually useful or true, but I have noticed that men just seem to have less fear about jumping into something.

Many women aren't fearful, it's true. I don't want to make sweeping generalizations. But I do believe that on the whole we [women] have been trained to doubt ourselves - or act like we doubt ourselves - and this is a hard habit for some women to break.

Men haven't had this same training in forced modesty. In the case of my new friends, she seemed to be an incredibly intuitive knitter, but he was definitely the more confident knitter.

I'm hoping to see them again when I'm in their town in a few weeks - isn't life funny?
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Rest

I've just enjoyed a lovely lunch, a very nice walk around this new, new, new area where the hotel is located (SO NEW! - a little scary, and VERY concret-eque, but definitely NEW)

... and now I'm about to go up to my room to rest a bit. Rest. The blessedest word in the world.

The vagaries of travel are such that if I wanted to fly out of here today, the only reasonable flight I would get me into MSP late, late, late - just too late.

So I decided to stay an extra night and take a decent flight on Monday. And, wouldn't you know it, staying over another night got me a huge reduction in my fare. Which MORE than makes up for any extra for the hotel room.

So Knitapalooza's happy (they save $$), I'm happy (I get to rest and not fly all night) and all's right with the world.

The extra bonus? Since we don't have HBO I wasn't going to be able to see the first parts of the John Adams series with Paul Giamatta. But now - in my cozy hotel room with HBO - I'll be watching it as I knit and sip some delicious tea. Yay!

Class Today
Today my class was Knitting with Wire, and it was tremendous. It was just about the best wire knitting experience I've had with a class (and I've had some great ones, so this is saying a LOT!)

It just seemed to be a perfect combination of good students, me feeling "on" and the planets being in alignment. What a lovely class!

Then I met with a student from a previous class to go over one of my earlier patterns with which she was having problems, and helped a late-finisher from my wire class get her bracelet good to go.

A nice chat with Myrna Stahlman and her husband (another Betty & Barney couple) and then my aforementioned walk and lunch. What a good day. Did I mention the beer?

Don't GO There...
I haven't brought up Gerry during my classes here much, and have actively dissuaded folks from bringing him up. I just felt more fragile about the whole thing this weekend - probably because of my recent 2 week separation from him.

But today I talked about it at the end of the wire class, then chatted about the situation with Myrna and her husband.

I do think it's good to talk it through - and every time I do I think I'm trying to convince my self again that it's REAL. Yes, a year later and it still just doesn't seem real that Gerry has Multiple Myeloma.

It's odd, I know, but it's almost like I'm trying to convince myself. It's like pressing the bruise to see if it still hurts, or putting weight on the ankle to see if it's a break or a sprain.

And I started to cry a little. Not much, just misty enough to smudge the mascara. Because I miss Gerry, I miss the kids, and now that it's been a year the honeymoon is over and the kids are seeing how hard it can be to make new friends. Or just one new best friend.

There is no such thing as an instant best friend - it takes time. I can tell that Max, and especially Hannah, are feeling empty (perhaps THAT'S because of my recent 2 week trip to our old stomping ground, too...)
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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Where's the Beach?

I came to Virginia Beach when I was 10 to visit my uncle Jim Bob (aka, Max Hurl Williams - one of the people for whom my son, Max, is named...) and we had a great time! Crabbing, eating HUGE lobsters, running around the beach.

Now I'm sort of tied to the hotel - and if I had a lot of time outside of teaching, I'm afraid I'd be too exhausted - so I'm not beaching it up much. Not a huge loss - I'd turn as red as one of those aforementioned huge lobsters - but it feels odd to be so near the beach and NOT visit.

That's what I get for not renting a car. That 'trapped' feeling. It makes me hesitant to go off with someone to do extra curricular activityes because, heaven forbid, I start to get very tired and want to get back to my hotel room, but there's no ride back right away?

And the forced rest is the best thing in the world for me right now. I sat and knit last night, answered email and did some work, but mostly just knit and thought.

Which is probably why it was difficult for me to sleep. I woke up at 2:30 and couldn't get terrible thoughts out of my mind - thoughts I've been able to banish so far in this adventure - but they came streaming through my mind like so many tiny bats out of a cave. The sound of the wings alone was enough to unsettle me.

Classes
The classes here have been so good - the students are hard working (VERY hard working) and get stuff very quickly. The only problem is that we - myself included - want to chat a lot!

After my two classes yesterday (Mutt-luks and Colorwork) I met two friends for dinner at a sushi place very near the hotel where I had some shrimp tempura and delicious miso soup - and snacked on other folks's edamame (?) Wonderful!

Today the first class, Embellishments & Buttonholes, went FABulously (you all know what I mean, those who have been in a class with me before...) and after a lovely, short walk I returned to freshen up and now I'm waiting for my Silk Corset Class (a small class, so we're up in one of the suites instead of a classroom!)

Tonight is a pajama party - I intend to take photos and blackmail folks later - and tomorrow I teach my knitting with wire class (always a blast!) And then I have some time to myself. Finally I'll get into the pool!
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Friday, March 14, 2008

Furtive Blogging

This will have to be fast because I'm nutsy busy - and teaching in 10 minutes!

I would have posted last night, but I was so exhausted from travel, etc., and the internet reception from my room was pretty dismal.

Having said that, I love the Hilton! It's becoming one of my favorite hotel chains, and I'm so happy when my travels bring me to the Hilton for a visit. I'm here in Virginia Beach at Knitapalooza for the weekend, teaching 5 of my toughest classes (are you ready, ladies...?) and enjoying a bit of early Spring!

Dawn picked me up at the airport - she's so nice - her piece was in Cheaper Than Therapy so we already had a connection. There are a LOT of ladies I'm meeting here who I've already "met" online, more than usual, which is always fun (sometimes the anticipation is odd, but it always ends up being a blast!)

After a meet & greet last evening all of the teachers went off to have dinner with Bobbie (our hostess and owner of Ewe Knit) but I had to bow out early because I was just SO darned tired. And I need a good portion of alone time - not in a plane, not in an airport bathroom, just ALONE in my room to reflect and think and knit. My meditation time. I've begun jealously guarding it - it's becoming sacrosanct. Not a bad thing. I even bring a small travel candle with me - what next, bells?

Oatmeal for breakfast - so life is good today. If a morning starts with oatmeal can it go far wrong?

I feel that I've been slighting the blog lately - being tired and all - and there are SO many things I think about that I want to get down. My feelings about our last doctor visit, watching Hannah and Max managing without me, seeing Gerry trying to be brave so I don't feel too bad about leaving to teach.

Other things that are running through my head; Juggling the need to assert my own needs and rights as a teacher with doing what is necessary to stroke the powers that be and earn a living. Not being able to find the time to do what I need to do as a designer (submissions - via MAIL - my personal bugaboo!)

My mind is racing these days - which, ironically, may be why I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like.

I'll be so glad to get home and have a good few weeks to just get WORK DONE AT HOME!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I happen to love St. Paul

I am so glad to be home, it's hard to express my happiness.

I loved being back in NJ, visiting friends, teaching (I love teaching) and meeting students. But it wasn't home.

I stayed in other homes, visited with amazing friends, ate and drank and laughed and cried - but it wasn't home!

I missed Gerry terribly. I missed the kids so much it was an ache in my chest. The animals were as glad to see me as I was to see them (very.) The kids got gifties, and Hannah was enchanted with the Zip It bag - very cool...

I am HOME!!

Gerry looked remarkably good when I got home - he picked me up at the airport (we have the routine down, he barely has to slow the car down, I toss the bags in the back and jump in the front seat!) He missed me so much! Now he has to kiss me.

I came home to a stack of mail and folders full of email I'd put on hold until I got home - that was how I spent my morning today, not designing, just answering emails!

But I also came home to some new Tilli Tomas yarn to swatch with (yay!) and I dug some new yarns out of my suitcase (a beautiful colorway - dark foliage - from Spinning Yarns Online and some Casbah from Hand Maiden)

I'm entering a crochet groove, so the smaller, sport and sock weight yarns are singing out to me.

Look what else I got? The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs! Wow - what timing! A fiber friend at Sterling sent me this because they saw me fawning over it at the Mall of America (and they published one of my books) so she sent it on to me - thanks!!

But I have some new ideas, with any luck I'll be sending them out to IK this week and I'm also working on some crochet ideas, too!

Justine at Angelfire (where I taught on Saturday evening - an amazing class that was SO electrifying all the lights went out TWICE during the lesson! - and who made a teeny tiny version of the Circular Cocoon for her daughter) gave me a tremendous idea for a project, but I didn't even realize it until I just walked past J Crew a few minutes ago. More to come!

I love being home.

I walked the dog up to Bead Monkey, bought lots of stuff for my class in VA, and walked home. I'm winded because I ran out of my maintenance meds halfway through my trip (and stupidly figured I'd just push on until I got home)

But now I'm HOME, I'm walking, and I've taken my meds, and it's an absolutely BEAUTIFUL SPRING DAY in St. Paul.

Do I sound a little bit in love? I am.

Teaching
14 Classes later, I'm so happy I did this trip to the East Coast. I had my doubts, I was fearful immediately before I left, but it was a stellar trip (forgetting my first class notwithstanding...)

Out of all the classes I only felt that there were 2 students I wasn't able to address in a way that was helpful to them and to me. And that's a failure on my part. I know it's insane to try to be all things to all people, and I don't, but it IS necessary to at least get through to everyone even a little bit. And I didn't.

But sometimes I just don't have the words / ability to overcome what folks have walked in with. I've been there myself - the walking into a class with "stuff" place - so I'm open to someone not being 100% present at a class.

Eh, dang.

Of the other 208 students I reached out to (and who embraced me) over the past 2 weeks - they were amazing. I've received SO many lovely emails from folks who were in my classes, and I've only today been able to write back to many of them!

Not Teaching
I just heard that some classes I'd been scheduled for haven't filled, so they're canceled. That's sad - but I hadn't really promoted these classes. To be honest, I just couldn't entirely tell from the website WHEN my classes were happening.

I kept thinking that I must be missing something big or I'd get an email telling me, "You're teaching X at Y:00 and P at Q:00." But I didn't - and I didn't follow through on my end.

So, once again, it's my responsibility as much as anything. Besides, the class was sandwiched in pretty tight between two other weekends - and it was up in a high altitude - so I think I would have paid dearly with bad breathing.

Not Teaching Again
I've also heard for the second straight time that I won't be teaching at TNNA. This makes me sad, because I love teaching there - I love seeing so many of the shop owners I see all year! Oh, well - I don't get it. My classes sold out (quickly) and the responses were generally very good - I know they're budgeting and trying to cut back in ways. I think we all are.

More Teaching
But then I did just get inquiries about teaching at 3 other locations this Spring and Summer, so it all evens out.

And now off to immerse myself in swatching for some new designs! And a final goodbye from New Jersey!

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Out of Body

I keep having the weirdest sensation here.

I'll be at my old local Panera's and I'll look over at the Petco and think, "I have to pick up some dog treats for Atticus..."

Then I remember. "Oh, yeah, we don't live here anymore."

Or I'll be walking around Whole Foods looking for some of the witch hazel I keep in my suitcase and I'll think, "Hey, I'd better pick up some of that salad dressing Gerry likes..." And then I remember.

I'm leaving on Monday to fly home - and I want to go because I miss Gerry, the kids and the menagerie like crazy - but I also have this feeling that I'm not GOING home, I AM home.

I loved living in NJ so much. I love the spice in folks here, I love my friends, I love seeing the old places.

And I love my new life in St. Paul! I love the calm, kind and generous folks we've met, I love our new friends, and I love being able to afford to stay in our house (something that would not have been possible with Gerry's sickness this past year in NJ)

I know what we've done is for the best - I'm at peace with it.

But I think in a deeper way I really, REALLY just want to go back to life the way it was when we lived here. Back before Gerry was sick. Back before we'd have to contemplate what life might be like in a new state, a new city, without G. And it makes me sad and a little heart sore.

DRIVING
I drove up to Mass on Wed after my classes at Knitty City on Tues and gave a lecture to a rousing, rowdy bunch of ladies (Ladies?) from the Nashoba Valley Knitters Guild in Harvard, MA.

What a fun group - they really kept me on my toes, and they were among the most skilled groups I've taught.

They kept up, they did a lot of new stuff, and it was a BIG group. Yay, NVKG! I meant to join while I was there and I forgot - can I still join, Barb?

I stayed with a very kind woman named Jean, and we got home JUST in time to see Project Runway that evening. I wasn't thrilled with the end (I wanted Gillian to at least come in 2nd) but Christian was SO overwhelmed with his win that he won me over.

PRW were advertising the next round of auditions, and for maybe 10 seconds I considered it, but this is not the year.

I wonder if they take 50 year olds...


Thursday I drove back to NJ (that is the MOST driving I've done for a 3 hour class. But I'd promised the ladies of NVKG, and I'd backed out once before this summer, and I'm SO glad I went!)

I arrived in time to see a friend and then showed up with 30 seconds to spare to teach a class in Finishing at Knit Knack last evening.

A small class, but a lovely class. One of the students wanted to come on Saturday morning when I'm teaching Combo Knitting, so we let her be #10 in the class. I'm really looking forward to that tomorrow!

It's part of the whole heart sore thing, but I feel a bit of a failure when I'm not able to allow someone in a class to see how much knowledge they already posses about knitting. Sometimes I tell folks that I'm not teaching them anything that they don't already know deep down - I'm just finding a way for them to make the connection between what they know, and what their intuition will tell them.

But sometimes I'm not able to make that connection. As a teacher, this is the main thing I need to work on.

Eating With Friends!
Today I had the day off and have been eating with friends. I had breakfast with a dear friend, Audrey, and we hardly recognized each other. She was one of the last folks I saw before we left town last Valentine's Day, so you'd think we'd be able to spot each other!

She walked past me, staring. I stared back at her wondering, "Why is this woman staring at me..?"

And then it dawned on both of us at the same time that WE KNEW EACH OTHER! She looks younger - her hair looks different. She said I looked glamorous. Evidently she doesn't get out much...

We had a wonderful meal - talked about everything and solved all the problems of South Orange - then I ran off to Panera's to check email. Thank heaven for Panera's.

THEN!
Off to NYC to have lunch with Nicky Epstein and her wonderful husband. We had SUCH a delicious meal (see the Peking Duck? I brought some home!)

And we had a lovely visit (once I got past the 911 security) You have to go through several checkpoints to get to her compound - (she's quite well known, you know...)

Chinese food and laughing so hard we both almost choked - what is better than that?

And then home - er - back to NJ. And I'm back at Panera's, listening to my favorite radio show on the computer and checking email, blogging, holding back heavy sighs. I need to buy stock in Panera's.

Tonight I get to spend time with the most wonderful kid in the world; Jaiden. Hannah's friend is a magnificent girl; kind, funny, supportive, talented, poised, and above all a true friend. She gets it all from her mom.

So I'll run over to their house after dinner to have dessert with them, and have a chance to just relax with two of the nicest women in New Jersey.

Being here is bittersweet.

Leaving New Jersey again will be more so.
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

There Is No Free Parking

By far my largest expense yesterday was parking. PARKING!

Lunch with my friend cost me almost $30 in parking. She's in midtown, and I KNEW it would be so, so it wasn't unexpected.

It was an expense I was happy to make because the alternative would have been parking on the upper west side, two subway trains to her office, then back up (dragging my bags with me - no access to bags when the car is parked in a garage!)

So I just said, "NO - I'm too exhausted to add this to my day before I teach 6 hours...

Then during my class parking was also around $30. Expected and covered in the travel expenses.

But totally unexpected - and forgotten - was the law in Maplewood, NJ that no one is allowed to park on the street between the hours of 2-6. It's one of those laws that's only posted as you drive into town.

Dang. I should have remembered. Dang.

ON THE ROAD
I'm stopping at a Panera's in Manchester on my way up to Harvard, MA for a lecture tonight for the Nashoba Valley Knitters. I was going to have breakfast in the city with a friend before I left, but decided that I'd rather just arrive a little earlier.

So tonight I'll be staying in Mass, then back down to NJ tomorrow to teach at Knit Knack in the evening. Two more classes on Saturday round out my East Coast '08 adventure - light at the end of the tunnel! Yay!

Thank heaven for the Prius, and thank heaven for Paneras!
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

If It's Tuesday It Must Be NYC...

Today I'm at Knitty City - I start teaching in a half an hour and I'm having an iced tea at Cosi beforehand.

Iced tea, because the weather is WARM here. It's a moist, spring day in NYC - and it makes me homesick for this part of the country. When I left my friend's house out in NJ I could almost smell the crocuses coming up - it's my favorite kind of late Winter / early Spring day.

Cosi because I just wanted to escape for a half an hour of anonymous blogging before class. I love to meet students, but I've learned from experience that if I hang around a shop before the class folks want to chat, and conversations start, and it's hard to tear myself away to teach.

Even worse, sometimes folks feel that I've created a bond with some students, and might feel a little left out because I didn't schmooze with them. I know this is true, because I've been known to feel that way myself when I take a class!

So the safest - and most comfortable for me - is to keep a low profile before the class starts, then chat with folks afterward as much as they want.

I've been told there are 14 in the afternoon class, and 12 in the evening class. Huzzah! I'm SO excited to see a NY audience again - and I'm VERY happy to be teaching at Pearl's wonderful shop! She had a book signing for me for Twist & Loop, which was very kind of her, but this is my first time teaching at her shop.

I had lunch with a very good friend, Ellyn, an old college roommate. How weird that sounds. We roomed together in a suite our Freshman year, and although both of us had rather rocky college tenures, we're both at a similar stage in our lives now (married, working, mommys) and have quite a bit STILL in common.

She comes from a family of sisters, which I always admired and envied a bit, each one a very individual and funny, wonderful person. I hope I get to spend more time with her while I'm here this weekend!

Last night I slept the sleep of the dead. I was so zonked by the days and days of teaching and endless driving that I went to bed at 8:30, and slept all the way through until almost 8:00 this morning! I needed to catch up on some sleep, and I feel so good for it. The best night rest I've had in a long, long time!

Off to Knitty City - it's raining, but I'm looking forward to a little cool sprinkle. I wonder what the weather will be up in Harvard, MA for my lecture tomorrow night...?
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Monday, March 03, 2008

Respite

Today is a day of rest. Of sorts. But it's a day I've been looking forward to!

First, I slept in. As a matter of fact, I'm still in my bed right now... My beautiful bed in a beautiful hotel.

This is a lovely, historic inn - and the details are so beautiful! The wallpaper, curtains, bed linens and even upholstery fabric in my room are all the same - which is cool, but a trifle disconcerting (the chairs seem to disappear into the walls - all I need is a dress of the same fabric and I'd be invisible...)

I'll be having breakfast with a very good friend who's a transplant to this snowy horse-haven from sunny California, so I can't WAIT to get her impressions of the recent snowstorm that hit this part of the country!

She suggested that I visit a local establishment - Mrs. London's - before I leave. Since they're closed Monday, I walked over with one of my students from the Sunday afternoon class. I pretty much cleared the case of all baked goods. Not really, but I've seldom spent so much in a bakery!

The main thing I bought was a beautiful chocolate/raspberry cake for my hosts tonight (their daughter - one of Hannah's best friends back in NJ - has a birthday!) but I also got myself a small brioche, which I ate last night, and a larger brioche for another friend back in NJ. YUM!

I also went out to dinner by myself last night and bought a delicious steak (filet) and enjoyed myself more than a human should be allowed to. Steak, then a walk back to my hotel for brioche and tea. Life is good.

SARATOGA CLASSES
I adore this part of the country. When Gerry and I lived in NJ, if we had a weekend to get away, THIS would be the area we'd head to. For a few years we rented a house in Wells, NY for a week or two every summer (pre-kids) and part of our honeymoon was spent up here visiting minor league baseball parks, Shaker museums and heading over to Utica for the FX Matts Brewery tour. Good times.

So I was already pre-disposed to absolutely love my classes here. The shop which hosted me, Saratoga Needle Arts, opted to hold the classes in a conference room at the Saratoga Inn (swanky!) so it was a pure delight to be able to wander easily between tables, getting to each student at least once to check their work, or chat briefly.

The class I taught was an amalgam of several other classes - I called it Annie Potpourri - but I only give instruction in the form of a question.

I'm experimenting with new classes and this is a way to see what techniques work best for students, and to try to find the best way to tailor a class to a specific group.

It was Sunday, and as usual on a Sunday I get a little preachy. (I'm currently reading a history of Scotland, so I'm just feeling lucky that no one threw a footstool at me when I got a little long winded...)

Both classes were tremendous, though - so much fun for me, and I hope for all of the participants! The first class was rather large, so I went a little over (I don't usually do that, but I was having SUCH a good time!) I kept everyone over so I could show them an extra technique, then used my down time to shop at the Empire Alpaca Breeders convention that was also taking place at the Inn.

How lovely of Cindy to arrange to have all that yarn and alpaca garments just waiting for us to peruse!

The afternoon class was smaller, but that allowed me to really dig deeply into certain techniques and cover them more fully. And it was a delightful class - so good - and so QUICK! I love telling a joke and having folks GET IT immediately!

Sometimes I felt like they got the jokes before I finished them, which means less work for me. Comedians should have such great audiences. Maybe it's the proximity to the Catskills?

And today - after breakfast off to NJ, and then teaching tomorrow at Knitty City. I'm hoping I get into NJ in ample time to visit with my friends, then head off to my old knitting group without feeling that I'm shorting my hosts, and have a visit with the Yarrn Pirates (yarr!)
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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Luxe

I'm becoming very familiar with the AM radio stations in Connecticut. I like to listen to talk radio (the wackier the better...) when I drive - it keeps me awake and it makes me laugh.

Sometimes I'll listen to an audio book, but when I'm between classes or even venues it just takes too much effort to re-engage myself into a plot or history. So talk radio it is - and there was a LOT of it driving up from Mystic to Saratoga Springs!

MYSTIC CLASSES
I loved both of my classes - what a terrific bunch of women!! I had pretty much the same group for both classes, which was lovely because THEY were lovely! Unfortunately I didn't have the time I would have liked to walk around such a beautiful town - maybe another time!

Spending a whole day with students is a luxury I don't usually have, and it almost feels as if we went on a trip together. I tend to work my students pretty hard, which is why I make them laugh so much - I don't want them to rush me, tie me up and start knitting washcloths just to show me who's in control...

In this case the first class was Combination Knitting, which I love to teach. I love all my classes, but this is one of my most tailor-able, meaning I'm able to add or take away things as I see the students absorbing it. If it seems like a class that is tuned into lace, I can toss some of that stuff in. If it seems a class that is intrigued by cables, I can spend more time with that.

I do this with all my classes - tailoring them to the group at hand - but Combo is one of the easiest. Actually, today I'm teaching a new class - Annie Potpourri - which will be a lot of combo, but I'm experimenting with tossing more theory in, sandwiched between a lot of tips and tricks.

Lunch was at a nearby cafe, but I desperately needed some alone time. So I went to a local juice bar/cafe and had a lovely salad and chicken sandwich (it was, as the sign promised, "yummy!" - so good to see truth in advertising!)

Then I stopped by CVS to pick up more airborne, zinc tablets and I made myself a little cocktail of the above with some Emergen-C. I'm doing this twice a day during this trip to keep my resistance up and fight any emerging bugs that might be sticking to the windshield of my Prius.

Meeting a lot of folks - and then touching their knitting, their hands, their needles - and then hugging them - well, it's an invitation to become a human petrie dish. So I try to be careful, as much for myself as for the classes that follow.

The afternoon class was Knitting with Wire - a very fun class, but an exceptionally weary-ing class for me to teach. That's how it is, though, with so many things we love. I had just about the whole group again (one had to leave early) and after the prodigal purse that one student had left at the restaurant was retrieved (you cannot IMAGINE the sigh of relief we ALL let out - everyone felt that poor woman's pain!) we settled into a really fun class.

Usually I make sure that everyone leaves with a finished bracelet - but I ran a bit over, so I only got two totally finished. I feel certain, however, that this very clever class will be able to get each bracelet done (the two that WERE finished were quite lovely - and they FIT!)

Off to my car, a quick "goodbye" to Lily (who I only saw for 3 minutes total all day - a shame since I like her very much!) and then off to the races!

NATURALLY WON
I arrived around 8:30pm, but I couldn't find the hotel. Actually, I found it, but when I knocked on the door there was no answer. I was not as bold as I may have been because I had this sinking feeling that I was knocking on a private residence or a club or something, not a hotel. It's quite lovely - and yes, it DOES say Saratoga Arms over the door - but the locked door made me second guess myself.

If nothing else, this trip is a resounding wake-up call to stop second guessing myself.

So I drove around Saratoga - stopping at a few other hotels only to find they'd never heard of me - and then back to the Saratoga Arms for a bolder knock and this time I discovered I had the right place all along. Well, at least I got a nice tour of a beautiful city!

The room is lovely, the hotel itself (lobby pictured to the left) is just beautiful! My class today is at 10:00, which is a bit of a luxury in itself because

I can take time to have the hotel breakfast (yay!) and blog. (Signature Needles, they're not just for breakfast anymore...) What a nice start to the day.

I'm teaching just a few doors away - not at the sponsoring shop, Saratoga Needle Arts - so I even have time to go for a short stroll and see what trouble I can get into before class. If I'm not back by 10:00, send a search party. On horseback.

I'm REALLY looking forward to today - I've never taught the same class twice in a row on the same day, it will be an adventure - and the best part? I get to stay IN THE SAME BED TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW! Now that's what I call high living!

Monday I drive back to the NYC area so I can teach at Knitty City on Tuesday, and stay with some very good friends on Mon and Tues night.

Wed I drive back up to Harvard, MA for a lecture at the Nashoba Valley Knitters Guild. I've heard they're restricting this solely for their guild members, but I've also heard that they've suggested that one person join the guild so they can come to the workshop - See, I'll do anything to enhance guild membership!

Thurs I'm back to NJ to teach at Knit Knack in the evening, Friday I'm in a holding pattern, and on Saturday I add Angelfire Studios to my list of shops on this trip (they're celebrating their 4th Anniversary!) Sunday is recovery, Monday is HOME!

Gerry misses me like nuts (although not when I called him on the phone last night and yelled in frustration when I couldn't find my hotel... Sorry honey.) and the kids and animals miss me, too. I'm missed.

But not as much as I miss all of them.

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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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