Sunday, June 29, 2008

And Me Without My Camera...

I love my camera. I bought it YEARS ago, and I'm constantly astounded by the quality of the photos, and the ease of operation. But it's a small little camera, an Elph, and the quality is a bit limited.
So I thought I'd check out cameras that take higher quality photos. My little elph, sensing my cooling attitude, has chosen this moment to go off in a sulk and the button that allows me to change from still photos to movies to viewer mode has broken. I'm frozen in movie mode.

I didn't bring the camera with me - I should have - because driving home from dinner at Jams (WONDERFUL dinner, among the best Salmon I've ever had - ever!) with Robyn and Anne and a good friend, Angie, I saw the most amazing damage on the campus of the University of Nebraska. Trees were hanging like toothpicks; huge, gigantic, HEALTHY trees. Brought to their knees.

Since I don't have any photos of the damage, I've visited Flickr and found C Martens Flickr album of the damage. Here's one of the fallen trees.

The stunning thing about this storm was that it was so SHORT. It was over in literally 20 minutes - all this damage was so FAST. I've been in tornadoes before, and once a hurricane swept up into New York when I was living there in the 80's (not much damage, but lots of wind...) so I've experienced major storms.

This was the shortest, and one of the most damaging I've ever seen.

And what followed was just as awe-filled. Some of the prettiest, brightest weather I've experienced. It's been cool, crisp - like early autumn days in Summer. The sound of chainsaws is everywhere, tidy stacks of lumber next to splintered trunks and green leaves blowing everywhere.

The electricity still wasn't on at String of Purls when I arrived yesterday, so I decided it would be fun to have class outside. There's a shady area right in front of the shop, and we moved chairs and a table out. At the moment I began speaking to the class the power was back on (yay)! and a few gusts later I realized that as picturesque as 'knitting on the prairie' looks, it's not easy to yell over wind gusts of 35mph.

So back inside for a Cable class, followed by a Potpourri class. It was sad not to be outside, but no hardship because this shop is magnificent. Well stocked, very friendly and a lovely, light space.

It's in a shopping center with many interesting stores (I found gifties for Hannah and Max at the adjoining stationery shop, had a wonderful salad at Market Basket and a great chicken sandwich from Grinders.)

The students here - all the knitters I've met - are so friendly and lovely. Just wonderful. I spent a bit of time convincing a few knitters that they're better than they were allowing themselves to believe - the folks here are astoundingly good.

When my lace class (full!) is over at 3:00, I'm hightailing it home. Not because I wouldn't like to stay - I would! But because I'd love to get home before 10:00 pm, when it gets dark. And because on the drive here I was missing Gerry and the kids like nuts, it's only gotten worse. Being away two weekends in a row is always hard.

Next weekend we visit some friends who have a house on a lake, it's so kind of them to invite us, and we're so excited you'd think we'd never BEEN to a lake before! The kids are nuts about fishing, I'm looking forward to a weekend where my knitting is just for ME!
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Storm-aha, Nebraska

The photos in this blog entry are from the Omaha World Herald website.

When I arrived in Omaha it was mid afternoon. I checked into my hotel, answered email and tidied up, then headed over to String of Purls yarn shop.

I was early, which was good. I figured I'd park and get a bite to eat, then be ready for my little talk.

But the storm that had been threatening since I rolled into town suddenly hit with a fury!

We were send down to the basement, the lights went out (I was eating my salad by flashlight, quite romantic...) and we listened to 90 mile an hour winds and hail blowing by.

The damage around town was astounding. Lots of downed trees, and 2 poor teenage boys killed in their car in Council Bluffs.

What a tragedy. Their friend was in the backseat, she is doing well, but what kind of PTSD will that poor girl have?

We emerged from our basement to see an amazingly beautiful evening sky, still no power, and very little damage immediately in front of the shop.

My chat was - subdued - more introspective than usual. But it was fun and nice and meeting the folks at the yarn shop was wonderful.

We held off the talk for 1/2 hour, traffic lights were out and many folks had trees fall in their yards, on their houses, or across their streets.

I'm crossing my fingers that power is back up and the air conditioning is on at the shop today for the classes - I know, a small worry compared to the broken homes and lives of others here in Omaha.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Turn Left Right at Des Moines

Getting here was amazingly easy - drive South, turn Left Right at Des Moines - and Iowa was so much more beautiful than I'd expected!

I don't know what my expectations were of Iowa, I don't know that I spent much time thinking about it (sorry, Iowa...) However, as I drove through Iowa and Nebraska, I found the beauty of the rolling, green farmland stunning.

Grant Wood was on to a good thing. Geez, I love his stuff. Why didn't I ever put 2 + 2 together?

There was some flatness, but not nearly as flat as Northern Ohio or Texas. Iowa & Nebraska, you gave Virginia a run for it's money - and that's hard to do!

Driving, I've missed you. Yes, I know it's not energy efficient (although it was MUCH cheaper than flying to Omaha) but I feel much more centered when I drive to an engagement. I like my car time.

I have an hour or so before my lecture this evening. I'm REALLY looking forward to it - I've been honing it for a bit, and had a nice chat with Hannah about lectures and public speaking. They're studying it at the Breakthrough program right now. She asked me if I used body language and humor. I told her that was about ALL that I used, the rest was commentary.

Speaking of flying, I awoke to news that NWA is canceling their direct flights to Paris starting in October. Hannah and I are going in late September, due to return on 10/2. Hmmm - wonder how this will affect us?
First-quarter [2008] profits at Exxon Mobil Corp. were $10.9 billion. The company's 2007 profit was $40.6 billion. – A.P., June 25, 2008

I wonder if they could take some of that profit and fund the Meals on Wheels programs that are cutting back across the country due to high fuel costs? There is nothing that isn't being affected by this, and my fear is that the spiral will begin to twirl faster and faster down.

Time to stay home and knit.

I don't ask anyone to adhere to my own political or religious beliefs, but this is a blog where I write about a LOT more than just knitting. Other subjects creep in, and I allow them.

I love my country fiercely, but I feel that we're better than we're presenting ourselves to the world right now. We are better than this.

There will be no 'perfect' candidate, but of course I want to support the one who seems to reflect my own beliefs in the clearest way. If you don't agree with me, that's fine - but don't expect me not to discuss something that is very close to my heart at this time. We're at a watershed, and this election will determine many things.

I don't talk much about politics when I teach - I do mention certain things, but I try to keep it pretty neutral. But, being a human being, I have opinions and thoughts and feelings, I can't pretend that I'm an automaton.

I've always felt that if we talk about politics (or religion) with respect, we CAN talk about it.

So I'll try my best to be respectful, and I hope you'll respect my right to my opinion. And I promise I'll respect your right to disagree with me on anything. Even decreases and increases.

And now I'm off to find a Denny's, or someplace where I can get breakfast before I teach. I'm feeling a need for scrambled eggs and bacon. I have no idea why, but it's almost a craving.
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Flying Poodles

The dog-running-along-with-the-bike attachment (thanks blog readers!) should be arriving any day, but I'm impatient so I've been taking the slow, back roads with Atticus the running poodle - The S L O W L Y running poodle - puffing along on his leash.

I've been making Atticus run along with me for short jaunts like biking to Kowalski's for Gerry's breakfast muffin. He runs along pretty well for about 10 blocks (Atticus, not Gerry), then he slows down and - because we're so evenly matched - I slow down, too.

We just look at each other as if to say, "You're not going to push this, are you? If you don't push it, I won't..." and we cut each other some slack.

I love this dog.

This evening Max and I biked to his baseball game and we took dragged Atticus along, but it was just that much too far for him and he went on strike, slowing down little by little until I was barely able to stay upright myself.

I walked him the last few blocks, got him a big bowl of water at the rec center, and he sat like a calm/submissive dog for the entire game. Yay!

Max did great, he held the flag for the pledge and slid home his last time at bat. As I was watching him playing; loving his team, the game, loving everything, I realized, "Hey, this is THE Charlie Brown little league experience!"

The kids in this little league are so great - so supportive of each other and just kind, fun kids. I watched one boy carry around his little 1-year old sister, showing her off to his teammates while another kid hung off of his very pregnant mom. It occured to me in a year the second kid will probably be carrying around HIS young sibling between innings.

Then in one of those oddball deja vu moments, the P.A. system blasted, "The Macarena." I was transported back to Pittsfield, MA, summer of 1996. I was pregnant, we were on one of our minor-league baseball vacations and I was dancing in the stands with my hands on my hips, shoulders, ears, wherever they were supposed to be for that stupid dance...

(The pregnant mom wasn't about to do the macarena, but it would have been fun if she had.)

Coming home we walked a bit, biked a bit, walked a little more. Folks were out watering lawns, playing with kids in the yard, it was coolish and lovely.

I think little by little we'll get Atticus up to speed. I was riding back from the hardware store the other day thinking, "Gee, just a few weeks ago I had to walk half way back from this..." So if I can do it, Atticus can do it. We're roughly the same age now, anyway.

I didn't think I'd find a bike I liked as much as my {sob} motobecane that was stolen during Grand Old Days last year. This one is almost as good. And it's 28", so my long, long legs are happy when I'm riding. Woohoo!

I'm becoming addicted to riding around in the mornings. It's such an enjoyable, free, exciting feeling. NOW I understand why Max wants to ride to school every day!

Hannah will be riding to her Jr. High, I think it will be wonderful for her.
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Shamelessly Supportive

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "
I just made a donation to Barack Obama's campaign.

I thought you might want to join me.

The crucial financial reporting deadline is coming up on June 30th.

Donate before the deadline to help build our movement in all 50 states

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sunrise at BWI

I took a little ANNIE time last night - I went to bed at 8:00. It felt very good!

Arriving at Stitch DC (Capitol Hill location) at 8:30, I parked and watched life go by while waiting for the shop to open. I knitted, I listened to my audiobook and I had some iced coffee. Ahhhhh.

One by one folks showed up, then Marie arrived with her husband and kids and several chairs. Chairs were unloaded, kids were kissed, then hubby & family drove off. Chairs were left. More folks arrived, chairs were brought inside the shop. Someone inside ran out to the store, a few other people walked in.

It was a beehive! I felt as though I were watching the start of King of the Hill. I noticed that a LOT of folks were going in, and very few were coming out...

I finally went in myself, got settled and pulled my car around back to park. Slowly the realization dawned on Marie (and even more slowly on me) that there were mucho folks in the class.

My yarn shop classes are usually between 10-16 students; my two classes at Stitch DC were 19 and 20, respectively. Yikes! Thank heaven these were amazingly quick, lively and hardworking students!

Teaching a larger group usually means cutting down on the amount of material I can get across to folks, and also being a little more MJB* than usual (or would that be SMI†?)

Coming down off of a weekend where my voice was about to go AWOL, in a room that was a trifle hot to begin with (nothin' like DC in June...), I was just a teensy bit terrified when the classes started and folks just kept arriving (and arriving..)

Soon, though, I realized that the students were so good and so engaged that I'd be able to get through everything, with a minimum of ruler-smacking. Just kidding. No students were harmed in the teaching of this class.

Both classes went very well, especially the Circular Shrug (which can be a bear, but went surprisingly well even given the extra students!) Folks seemed very happy, I felt very good, and the best part? I didn't have to fly out that evening so I knew I could rest.

Marie's shop, Stitch DC, is enchanting, there's a really NICE collection of yarns and it's always a kick to see some kids when I'm on the road (Hi, Nora & Cole!)

But I will admit that sitting in my air conditioned car on the way back to the Sheraton at BWI felt very good, indeed!

I was so stunned to see a frien
d from Boston (Hey Tracy!) show up for the class that it didn't register until 20 minutes after I saw her that it was HER! I swear, I'm so bad with the whole recognition thing, sometimes. I wish I could just remember folks as easily as I remember their KNITTING!

Back to BWI to drop off the rental car, shuttle to the hotel, then dinner in my room and blessed sleep!

Returning home this morning (geeze, my flight was early!) Gerry met me at the airport around noon and we went off to have a 'date' lunch together at the Happy Gnome.

SO many beers on tap, so little time...

Hannah's liking Breakthrough, although it's clear that it's going to be a rough road this week getting her used to the VERY early hours and homework. I think after a few days she'll be fine, but day #2 was rough for her. Max is enjoying his Math & Science camp, and later in the summer he has a few days at the MN Historical Society "Huck Finn" camp. Who really COULD ask for anything more?

Maybe a hammock?

*MJB - Miss Jean Brodie (Fascism notwithstanding)
†SMI - Sister Mary Ignatius
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Psyched for Stitch DC!

My class this morning was pretty darned big.

It was bigger than I expected (60 eager women - I thought it would be 20...) but it was fun!

All my classes here at Purljam have been so great; excellent students, a warm yarn shop staff and a lovely facility. It's exactly what I needed to 'get back on the horse' and get my teaching chops back again.

Gina's shop, Mosaic Yarn, has a really wonderful selection - I had to get some Fleece Artist Sea Wool and some beautiful Gems Merino that a local dyer, David Simpson, makes spectacular with his colorful touch

Today the students worked hard, maybe harder then anyone expected for a Sunday morning, but I think all in all it was fun for them. I hope it was!

A big class is good, but SO many students always make me feel that I'm not able to get to everyone, that there's not quite enough of myself to go around.

I wish I could say it felt good to be so "thin", but this morning I definitely wished there had been MORE of me! The fact that my throat sounded raw didn't help, either... I'm fine, just a lot of talking, and some new allergens that made me sound a little hoarse this morning.

About 3/4 ways through the class this morning I got the worst case of PTP (pure teaching panic) that I've had in a long time. It was so weird.

It lasted about 2 minutes, then subsided, but it's something I haven't felt for a LONG time. Maybe the fact that the room was really big with strong temperature fluctuations between warm and cold had some effect on my own personal thermostat. It almost felt like a hot flash. Five years without ovaries should have taken care of that, right?

After class I had a VERY quick chat with Jared & Cornelia before I hit the road. Last night after a book signing at Mosaic, C & J dropped by for beers in my room.

We've all been working hard and haven't socialized with each other as much I think we hoped! It was lovely, though, to at least have a few hours to compare notes and FINALLY meet them both!

I wanted to get on the road, so I didn't have lunch but just signed a few books and said goodby to folks. The Purljam participants clapped when I left, it made me feel happy and giddy, a good frame of mind for a 5 hour drive!

I was tired on the road - not sleepy, just tired - so I was VERY happy to arrive at my hotel. Thank you priceline! I'm in a nice place for a cheap price, so I splurged by ordering room service (walnut & pear spinach salad, a beer & pie)

And now for a little knitting before diving into my trashy Princess Di bio (with tea and pie) and finally some sleep. I have an exceptional evening planned!

Tomorrow I teach 2 classes at Stitch DC, they're two of my most favorite and fun classes, so I'm REALLY looking forward to it! I hope I can pull myself out of bed in time!
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Bare Minerals

I like this makeup, I use it and I'm always happy with how clean it feels. My cousin turned me onto it, and I've discovered there's a strong underground of red-haird, red-faced women who love the coverage (when I wear it I look a little less like the town drunk...)

So a friend sent me the above coupon, and I offer it to you!

Go go and use the code FRIEND8. You'll get 20% off of anything, and the world will be a more beautiful place!

The coupon is only good through Sunday. I have no affiliation with the company, I just really like the product...


I discovered these at ebay, and I use them to apply the makeup. You can fill it with powder, then twist out the retractable brush, tap it a few times and you have powder to put on your face.

They travel well, I've pared myself down to a purely powder makeup kit (much easier for getting through airport security!)

I haven't found a refillable powder applicator that I like so well - but I have only found this so far at ebay.

Sorry for the non-knitting, I wanted to pass along the coupon and after a day of (FUN!) teaching I'm exhausted. To bed. Early.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Must... breath... to... teach....

One of the reasons I haven't been posting so much since TNNA is I've been just trying to get a BREATH!

Columbus was hot, and very humid (just like I remembered! Don't change a thing, baby, I love you just the way you are!) with a heat index of 108. My breathing was pretty sucky there, and coming back to MN it didn't appreciably approve.

So FINALLY I visited my doc on Wed (yeah, I saw her for accupuncture, and it helped, but not for the long-term) and I'm on yet another course of steroids to open the old lungs. Arriving here in Blacksburg, VA my breathing sounded so bad, but believe me, it was better than it HAS been. I just like to scare folks. Boo!

And imagine my happiness to meet not one, but TWO respiratory therapists here. I know my audience... Gina from Mosaic Yarns is amazing to arrange that!

I caught my plane at 6:00 this morning, then picked up my rental car and was out of Baltimore by 1:30. It's a drive down here, but whenever I drive through Virginia I feel like it's a trip back home (yes, my family's on the other side, the West Virginia side, but I can pass...)

And I got to meet Jared (Brooklyn Tweed) and spend some time with Joe (On The Lamb) and just have some G&T's in the beautiful Virginia evening. It was so cool and delicious I felt like I was in MN! What a wonderful 'meet & greet' - obviously the class participants this weekend are some groovy PARTY-ticipants.

I promise, the TNNA wrap up WILL happen at some point BEFORE the next TNNA. Honest.

In the mean time, here's an amazingly beautiful photo that was taken by Cathy Bothe, who owns Signature Needle Arts. Her daughter, Laura, came for a visit with her kids, and I noticed that Laura's 5-year old daughter, Katie, was REALLY interested in the knitting her mom and I were doing.

So I grabbed some extra needles and pink yarn, and showed Katie the basics. And she SO got it - she's an amazingly intuitive knitter, and showed so much passion RIGHT from the get go.

This photo was taken the next day - apparently she's already been heard to say to her mom, "Just one more stitch..." I think we have a new knitter, folks! Katie is so adorable, and SO smart. Her brother (another redhead) has a good match in her - what a great family!

While Laura was here she let me try some of the new signature double points. They're metal, and although I LOVE metal needles, I usually use wooden dpns when working on socks, etc., because of the slip factor. I hate it when my needles fall out of my work, especially on planes.

Well, guess what? These have a little 'tooth' so they still slide beautifully, but they grip the yarn just a little bit.

And here's a video to show this... (the yarn used is Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb - a little bit silky, and a little bit wooly...)

I used these needles today on both flights and didn't lose a needle! I dropped one (my own mistake) but the nice woman behind me picked it up for me...
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Sunday, June 15, 2008


The amount of time between blog posts is longer and longer, but not because I don't think about writing. Rather, I'm just so busy - overwhelmed - with the amount that there is to do. Writing about it seems like a time loss, but I know from past experience that it's in the writing that I sometimes prioritize enough to allow me to GET through the work.

In my classes I talk about swatching, and use the analogy of a road map for a trip. It takes time to buy the map, plan the route, but you're so happy you've done the work when all is said and done.

I guess, for me, the blog is the same. I'll mention things that have been rattling around in my head - things that don't even seem to connect to ME, like the purr-ito to the right - and by the time I've finished my blog post I've found some ways to link projects or combine research. The kind of shortcut you would see on a map. Now how will I get that purrito into a project...?

Or by writing about my current projects I may veer off into a subject that I hadn't thought much about before - a scenic side trip - which becomes one of the more satisfying memories of my journey.

Mostly, though, the sheer weight of day-to-day stuff that I have to do weighs me down, and I slip blogging to the bottom of the list. I shouldn't. I get more from it than I know.

'bye, Tim!
I was so stunned and so sad, as was everyone, at Tim Russert's sudden passing. It's clear to all who know me that I'm a HUGE politics wonk (a golden time for me was when Face the Nation, Meet the Press and This Week were staggered so that one could catch ALL of them, one after another, on a Sunday morning.)

I enjoy Meet the Press, and I loved Tim - I feel as though I knew him - as the moderator. How ironic, and so damned sad, that his passing coincides with Father's Day.

Gerry said, "Folks didn't say, 'Did you see Meet the Press?' They said, 'Did you see Russert?'"

I can't help but feel this past primary season (in addition to recently checking Ol' Russ into an assisted living facility) just became too much for Tim and his heart.

Boy, will he be missed. I found myself weeping as I watched the tip of Keith Olberman's nose turn a bright red, the sign he was trying to hold back tears himself.

No matter how busy you are - rest. Sleep. Take time for yourself. Don't use yourself up, replenish. I know, funny words from busy me, but I DO take time to rest. I'm a big believer in sleep health, I get my full 8 (or more) each night, it's sacrosanct to me.

Green Gerry
Today we did some gardening, nothing huge, just mowing the lawn and some trimming. I ran off to Menards and got flowers and cedar chips to make the front of our house look a little less 'rental', and Gerry cleared the eaves of the Garage from the 1,000,000,000 maple leaf helicopter seed pods that have embedded themselves. We even had a few tiny little tree-lets already growing up there. When Spring comes to Minnesota, it comes with a vengeance!

I also got some grass seed, and so our yearly "Can we get grass to grow in shade?" ritual begins.

Yesterday Gerry outdid himself with a LONG walk (with walker) to the Linwood Park, where we met some friends and our 4 redheaded kids ran amok (Max & friend in a tree...)

Then back to our house - a 3/4 mile walk - for some chat, and Gerry was WIPED OUT for most of the rest of the day. Wiped, but very proud of himself, and very happy.

The accupuncturist is doing amazing things for his pain, and I saw her this week for my breathing (and also for the heel spur that I seemed to have developed at TNNA)

But no matter how much others can do for him, when Gerry pushes himself he pays for it the next day with pain or exhaustion (or both.) So today he slept in for Father's Day while Max and I rode our bikes to the bagel shop, then made Gerry an East Coast breakfast in bed along with his oxycodone.

But what is life without the striving? Gerry's doing so much more than we'd hoped at this point last year. We cannot help but contrast our current happiness with the Russert family grief.

The balance between the push and the pause, that's what we're all looking for.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

"How's Gerry?"

I become easily overwhelmed these days, and when so many people ask, with true kindness, "How's Gerry..." my answer of, "He's good, but in pain - " begins to sound mechanical and I don't want that.

Home for a few days has been heaven. The air is cool, warm in the sun, and the nights are delicious. We had some dramatic thunder last night - exciting if you're in a safe place, not being flooded (poor Iowa - if you know anyone there, or if you're from there, visit Safe & Well to register to let folks know you're okay...)

I'm wrapping up some knitting, finishing a project for IK, just hanging out and trying to rework my schedule for Fall. One thing about TNNA is that a LOT of folks approached me to teach, so I have to get back to many of them. If you spoke with me and haven't heard back, please do feel free to email me!

Gerry had a spectacular weekend volunteering at the National Conference for Media Reform, doing something he loved AND doing so much more than he had in over a year! What a far cry from his last TV gig, running teleprompter for the local Fox affiliate in NY. He was floating on air when I got home, feeling very proud of himself, and with some of his old confidence back.

At the MM Support group meeting yesterday, a fellow from the IMF spoke about how much hope there is, how in just the last year so much has changed in the way doctors look at MM, and some are even contemplating a time when this disease is seen as a chronic illness, not a terminal sentence. I've updated our Red Carpet Convertible page - the pattern is still available as a free download, but now the donation recipient is the IMF.

All in all, this has been one of the best weeks we've had - separately and together - since we've moved to St. Paul! Coming off of a rough few weeks, it was very welcomed!

On to Virginia!
I'm going to be at Purljam next weekend, held by Mosaic Yarn Shop in Blacksburg, VA. I'm SO excited to teach, to see folks and to meet Jared and Cornelia face to face! Plus, Virginia is just an extremely nice place to be.

After I finish at PJ, I'll be heading up to Washington to teach for a day at Stitch DC. It's a drive, but when I refigured my airfare it works out to be about the same (even with gas included - that fare to Roanoke was a killer!), and I've wanted to teach at this shop for the longest time!

Everyone's writing their TNNA wrap ups, and mine is long in coming - but I'm not as on-the-stick as I'd like to be (that, plus the choruses of "Mom!", "Honeeeeeey!" and "Mommy!" that greeted me in the baggage claim and haven't ended yet, have kept me off the blog for a few days...)

I want to wait yet another day to get all of the names, booths, companies, etc., clear in my head so I can write about them intelligently and get the web links right. At this point I'm still a little brain mushy. Yesterday at the Multiple Myeloma support group meeting someone took a picture of the group and I had a moment of confusion when I thought I was back at TNNA and someone, somewhere, always seemed to have a camera ready.

I know that my favorite part of the weekend was just sitting in the bar/lobby of the Hyatt with a group of friends, each of us computing on our Mac's, trying to get some work done or open email. I spent a lot of time alone this TNNA, back in my room, driving around or going for walks (in HOT Columbus) I think I needed the space.

I feel like I spent most of my time either hanging out at the Stitch Cooperative Booth (1056) or aimlessly walking aisles. I promised folks I'd return, only to remember when I was half way home. I felt disconnected - not unpleasantly - but I didn't feel entirely AT the show.

I was consumed with giving away 120 copies of Knit with Courage, review copies, to anyone who had shown kindness or interest in Gerry's condition. 120 was not enough. I didn't think I'd run out, but thank heaven I left a stash in my rental car or I wouldn't have had any to give away to some nice folks at the airport.

I've read that in book promotion each book given away means 10 sales. Maybe. I wanted to get this to folks who really GET the whole knitting-as-a-way-to-deal-with-crisis, and where better than at TNNA?
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Monday, June 09, 2008

In My Own Little Corner

So here I sit, enduring an imposed relaxation. And I'm kind of happy about it...

I fly so much, and I'm such a Virgo, that I generally arrive at least two hours before any flight. I like the downtime after I get through security, I HATE running for a plane. And after this weekend the soles of my feet - especially my heels - feel like I've been tango-ing on hot coals, so the less running the better...

But this time I skimmed it, I got to the car return an hour before my flight, and I was so rattled that I left one bag in the car. Damn.

When I got to the counter I finally noticed my missing bag, there were a lot of folks ahead of me and the realization hit that I was definitely going to miss my plane. I asked the woman behind the counter (okay, I frantically asked...) if I could be checked in right away, but was told that there were folks ahead of me. And there were.

I'm usually not late, but I have been in line when someone runs up, frantic, sweating, late, and I've seen the airline folks run the gamut between seriously concerned and working hard to get them on the flight to barking, "Get BACK in line, sir!"

My counter woman fell somewhere between these two extremes, but it was no go. Especially when I realized that my asthma medicine was in my bag in my car, so there was NO WAY I would board a plane without it. Sometimes up in a pressurized cabin my breathing can get wonky, I know I could get close to panicking without my albuterol.

So I missed my flight. There were able to get me on the next flight, in an exit row seat (I'd already paid a premium for one, I'm Miss Longlegs) and they didn't charge me an additional fee. Ah, the benefits of many frequent flyer segment points.

But the next flight was 7 hours away. I guess I could have done a connecting flight, but I just didn't feel like I could process the whole 'stop here, change there, arrive here' thing, and I would have only cut about an hour off of my trip.

I returned to the rental car desk, they had my bag with everything inside just as I left it, and I'm breathing easier now (literally).

So I've been sitting in a Starbucks on concourse B for five hours, I have two to go. I'm buying a latte or ham sandwich every hour or so, and I'm tucked in a little corner right by a window where I can watch the passers by.

I like being at the Starbucks because the wifi is working (there seems to be free wifi here at the Columbus airport) and I am in an easy chair with a footstool (scamming that stool took a good hour of waiting). And I'm very close to a woman's room. All the comforts of home.

Since it's the day that many folks are returning from TNNA, I keep seeing knitters and shop owners passing by. I'm keeping a low profile, but when Amy Singer went by I flagged her and we had a short chat before she went off to her [delayed] flight. She's still voice-less, so it was a one sided chat, but it was nice for me because it broke up the monotony.

I called Gerry to tell him about my late arrival - I'll miss Max's first baseball game of the season today - but I'll be arriving AFTER the game, so that should work out well. Gerry told me that as soon as Max got up this morning he put on his uniform and has been wearing it all day.

Maybe it's best I didn't arrive an hour earlier, after all...
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posted by Annie at 8 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, June 07, 2008

20 Minutes Between Beers

I've just come from the Interweave Party (which I crashed, but it was okay...) and now I'm off to Tip Top. Life is good.

Today was so tiring, so long, so wearying, but also VERY good! We got orders - and LOTS of interest!! I think the Stitch Cooperative is an idea whose time has come, and we're hoping to stay focused enough to make it work as well as it should. WOO!!

Tomorrow I'm back at the booth, back working the show, passing out my own book and making friends. But I may try to sneak out to the EB Warehouse in the morning before the show...

We'll see...

Right now? Folks are waiting at Tip Top. For some reason we've adopted the ASL sign for "Y", rotating, as the "Tip, TOP!" high sign.

And guess what? My hotel is strategically positioned just blocks away and I found $3.00 weekend parking*. Life is very good.

*Last night when I parked there I only had $2.50 on me, so I shoved that into the little slot and rushed to my room to get 50Ę. When I got back the parking attendant was JUST about to write me a ticket (!?!?!?) He stopped, thank heaven, and I parked for $3.00. So much better than the $21 that Hyatt charges. I've found full day parking for $8 ($5 if I want to walk farther - I don't) so the car really is working out to be a good savings. And I can get to target to get moisturizer, which I forgot...

Fascinating, huh?

Home by 10:00, happy with my knitting. I had a beer, a diet coke and some pie. But I had shrimp at the party. Definitely a salad day tomorrow...

We were sitting at our table, 15 different conversations going on and everyone having a good time, when I turned to Amy Singer (who's lost her voice and was drop spinning some beautiful sea silk at the table) and said,"Don't you feel that we're in a golden time for our industry - all the garbage aside - when there's so much JOY to find in what we do?"

She agreed, quietly.
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posted by Annie at 6 Comments Links to this post

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Columbus. Columbus
"We're Making It Great!"

If you lived in or around Columbus, Ohio in the early 80's, you'll understand the title of the post. If not, find me when I've had a beer and I may perform the Columbus Visitors Bureau ad from that era. With hand gestures. It's all very "Young American," and quite entertaining!

No pictures for the next few days, sorry. I took the battery out of my camera to charge it, tucked it away in my suitcase while packing (?), and promptly forgot where it was. When I couldn't find it, I decided to leave my camera at home. Which was silly, of course, because as soon as I checked into my hotel room I found the battery.

So since I have no pictures, here's a photo that a friend sent of a litter of kittens the stray she found last month delivered on her birthday! Happy belated birthday, Claudia!

So here I am, checked into my hotel room and ready to go.

I got my room through Priceline and saved more than 50%, but I'm not right AT the convention center, I'm about 8 blocks away. Eight long, hot blocks when I have books to transport.

I weighed the options:
  • A - Expensive room at convention center, cab to and from the airport
  • B - Cheaper room a few blocks away, cabs to and from airport and convention center
  • C - Cheaper room a few blocks away plus rental car
When I was able to get a rental car for $13/day, with a free day (a promo from NWA I found through their website) Option C turned out to be best for me (even though I have to cover parking, but by NOT parking at the hotel it's $9/day).

I have a big suitcase full of samples, several heavy cartons of books, and I just don't want to be lugging this stuff into and out of cabs. Plus it's just so HOT here. And when I have some spare time I may be able to scoot off to the Eddie Bauer outlet.

Back in St. Paul they're preparing for some rough weather, possible tornadoes. I guess I'm glad I'm here, but I wish the family were here, too...

I'll be taking a class tomorrow morning - reading Japanese patterns - and I'm very psyched to be taking a class. I don't get a chance to take many of them, but this is a wonderful weekend for classes.

I've been filled with trepidation about my trip, about TNNA. It's silly, but better to just face it than try to squash it and have it explode out. It's been a rough few weeks, filled with a lot of support but also a lot of pain, and I begin to wonder if I'll ever be at the place I was in designing and teaching that I was 2 years ago. One thing I do know is that it feels like I have to work twice as hard to get half as far, which is often a sign that I may not be working as efficiently as I'd like.

So now I'm here, settled in and wearing shorts (!), ready to go off on a long walk to see if there's a way to get all the way to the convention center entirely in air-conditioned corridors and skyways.

Gerry's been bored, feeling fretful and at loose ends. He's been taking guitar lessons, but the whole constant pain / can't-walk-too-far thing can be a problem when trying to take on a larger project. This weekend there's a conference on the media in Minneapolis, and Gerry read where they were looking for some video-type volunteers.

He wrote to the folks producing the conference, explained his credentials and his current physical limitations, and they said they can use him! So he's volunteering for two short 3-hour shifts this weekend, and I'm SO happy that he's getting out there. I'm very proud of him.

Courage and Hope
I picked up Knit With Courage on Wed and was gratified to see how beautifully the printing and photography came out. The book is a lot thicker than I thought it would be, it's 320 pages, and although I did a TON of editing I'm wondering if it should be even shorter.

Gerry's pleased with the book. It's the non-edited proof, there's still work to be done on it before the "real" pub date of 9/1/08, but it's a thrill to have it in my hands!

I'll be passing out copies to folks at TNNA and sending book out for review - my heart is in my mouth! I've had several books out now, so the "new" feeling from my first couple of books is gone. But I have more excitement and - well, fear - about this book.

It's been such a personal journey for our family - but told in a very public way. Of course I want it to be well received, but even more than that I want it to speak to people - perhaps helping someone who's on a similar path.

Financially, as long as I break even I'll be happy. If it sells well, I'll be thrilled. My feelings are so close to the surface right now that I need to find a way to steele myself against the inevitable negative reviews and comments.
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posted by Annie at 13 Comments Links to this post

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Day In The Life

I'm participating in a special "day in the life" blog tour so here's how this day in my life is going!

My days are all so different, there really isn't one schedule that I follow. I base what I do on what is currently required (finances, taxes, designing, class stuff). I don't know if today is an average day, but it seems like a pretty normal one!

This morning I was up around 7:00, when I'm usually up, getting the kids out of bed and putting the tea on. This morning Hannah had a sore throat and sniffles, so she stayed home, but Max was on his way to school at 8:20 with his friend, biking as they usually do.

I've been working up some prototypes for a felted crochet bag based on my universal mitered knit bag, so I had to measure and take photographs of the unfelted bag, then I tossed it in the washer and created a smaller, felted version.

I don't like the colors at all - I was just using anything I had in my basket that was high contrast so I could compare how the different stitches would felt. I'm happiest with the single crochet felt fabric, so I'll be moving in that direction.

While that was going on, I had some email to read; questions to answer, shipping labels to print out so I can send out orders that came in over the weekend. Then there's the chasing the money portion of my life, which isn't fun - and usually isn't an issue - but I'm having some frustrations right now that I'd like to clear up before TNNA.

Then I settled down to look over some patterns I just received via email from my tech editor.

Karis is relatively easy - just minor changes that are understandable. I've looked it over, cleaned it up, and it's finally ready to put up for sale (yay!)

The other, Bel Canto Surplice, is a more complex design and I am going to wait on that one. I'll look it over before bed tonight and and sleep on it, hoping that it makes more sense in the morning...

After that brain work I took a nice, long walk to clear my head. Atticus likes this part of the design day. I'm finding that walking has become a necessary component to my process, or maybe it's just spending time with my doggie?

I have two patterns in the working stage right now, knitting up the samples and writing the patterns. One is a set of bathroom curtains and matching shower curtain for IK. The other is a new plaid something that's just for me. It may be a skirt (I'd love that...) or it may be the start of a top - I need to see how it evolves. Survival of the stitches.

Most of my knitting is interspersed with copious note taking (on my computer) revising charts and noting how I might want to work a decrease differently, etc.

I just finished a hat last week (I was a class chaperone for two field trips, which turned out to be amazing times for knitting - who knew?) and I may get the pattern written up for TNNA. Or not.

I am considering doing a tutorial on my blog on Wiring A Millinery Piece - it would certainly make the process more accessible. Photos are one of the best teaching tools out there.

Since I'm leaving for TNNA on Thursday, much of my day has been taken up with getting the patterns together for the Stitch Cooperative. Selling patterns at TNNA is a new experience for me and it feels much safer and more comfortable to be doing it with a group of other designers.

We want to make a few binders of all of the patterns that will be available so shop owners can easily choose what they'd like. The two patterns I received today will be in the list, but I'll hold of on committing to the surplice for a few days. It all depends on how clear my mind can get!

Most of this afternoon was spent knitting the aforementioned plaid piece. It's a relatively mindless project, but the bear of it is dealing with ALL the separate strands of yarn.

I can deal with the mess (it's a zen thing) but I know that a lot of knitters would have the razors out (for the yarn or the wrists...) So I'd like to figure a way to do this with less strands hanging down. (Please don't tell me bobbins, that's not what I mean - I mean a way to rework the entire concept...)

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posted by Annie at 6 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Grand Day

Today was the Grand Old Day streetfair down Grand Avenue. A parade, free rides for the kids, and many different types of food.

I missed this celebration last year because I was at TNNA, but this year I'm able to make both, and it was a lot of fun!

I walked Max down to a friend's house to watch the parade, then walked back - Atticus drawing as much attention as some of the floats. I've seen more black standard poodles in our neighborhood this week than I've seen in a year!

Gerry and Hannah went down to Grand together, but the crowds were thick and it was rough with his walker, so they came home.

Later in the day I rode both kids up to Ramsey Jr. High on our bikes so they could do the bungee jump and the water balloon cannon.

They teamed up with friends from school, but no one got a good baloon hit (it's an ingenious set up - two booths face each other with huge rubber slingshots into which you slip a water balloon, then release and hope for the best!)

All the broken balloons on the asphalt were rather beautiful.

Gerry rode over on his bike (go bike!) and then walked around with it as a new kind of "walker" because, oddly enough, riding his bike is easier on him than walking. While in the area we had a few slices at the Italian Pie Shop and Gerry proclaimed it the best slice he'd had since we moved here! They deliver, so we may just have a new favorite pizza place (I still like Punch, but this was very good, too!)

We rode back home on Summit, Max is off to the pool with friends and Hannah's getting some writing done. Gerry's tossing leftovers together for dinner and I'm working on a project for IK (it involves making a running stitch along a fabric edge, then hemming that edge and picking up the running stitches and knitting them - it's a blast!)

A nice talk on the phone with a friend I've not been in touch with for a few weeks, and some swatching with new Louet Linen (I'm trying to make a good plaid - influenced, perhaps, by Outlander?)

All in all a lovely day.

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posted by Annie at 2 Comments Links to this post

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

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


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