Saturday, November 29, 2008

Showing Off

I got to show off a lot last night; I showed my house off, I showed off my cooking (mixed results) and most important I got to show off my friends to each other.

What a lovely evening - just wonderful! We wanted to have some friends over, but I know from experience that the day after Thanksgiving is a minefield as far as picking a good time. Some folks have evening commitments, some folks work during the day, and we didn't feel like staging a full-out party, anyway.

So we opted for a sort of "Open House" whereby friends would drop by between 2-7 for some pie and coffee and leftover turkey and ham. Yes, I made a ham yesterday. Or, rather, I warmed one up (can one really ever make a ham?)

Friends trickled in around 2:30, coming slowly at first. Then more frequently - bearing bottles of wine (no need, we had a box of wine-masquerading-as-cool-aid in the fridge!) and, best of all, bringing their own good selves.

It almost felt choreographed - as soon as one or two folks would put their coats on to say "Goodbye!", two more would be at the door. Instead of sitting in the living room, sort of how I'd envisioned a get together, we ended up just hanging out around the table and eating - in shifts - each group overlapping with the group just before and just after. A nice mix, I felt very proud of my friends, my food and my home!

It's always fun to get to show our house off. It's small, it's like so many homes in the area, but it is lovely. And we love it! Pridefulness is a sin, and I was definitely prideful last night. Our last very fun friends left around 9:30, seven full hours of hostess-y goodness. It really was delightful - for me at least - I hope for everyone else, too!

Today I got up and cut the remaining ham off the bone, then started a bit pot of soup simmering. We're planning on heading down to Rice Park this afternoon for the opening of the free rink in Rice Park. We need to check and make sure the kids' skates still fit - or we can get a free skate rental because I have my Wells Fargo check card (they're sponsoring the rink) Anyone want to join us down there at 4:00?

I'd like to head off to the Minnehaha dog run with Atticus this morning, but I'm bound and determined to finish the sweater for Yarn Forward (it's almost done - I ripped out the raglan yoke because it just looked way too fussy for a man's sweater, it looks better now just in ribbing)

I'd also like to go for a bike ride. But I have the plaid short sleeved cardigan to finish.

I have to leave on Monday or Tuesday for WV. I've promised Jan's sister in law that I'd come back down and try to help get the last things in order before we walk away from the house and allow it to go into foreclosure. Hard, hard, hard.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Books for the Holiday
Or, Can In Interest You In a Little Heresy?

Okay, we all know that I have no problem tooting a horn that has my name on it. I'll toot anyone else's horn, too, but I'll be certain to wipe off the mouthpiece. Or I'll use my own. I used to play trombone - one more thing you probably didn't know about me...

So Kim Werker and Shannon Okey are getting all, "Hey, buy my book!" so I'm thinking, why not get all "No, buy MY book!" myself, and see who else is going to jump on this bandwagon.

Hey, buy my book!

It may just turn into a big circle -ahem- book purchase (you thought I was going somewhere else for a moment, didn't you..?)

Flip Knits - The best darned stocking stuffer I ever self published! Fun for kids, adults and helpful for folks who want to better know their knits, purls, increases and decreases. And they're fun - just watch!

Confesssions of a Knitting Heretic - Good for new and established knitters alike. Not the prettiest book you'll pick up, but it's crammed with lots of - stuff. I've been told it's a fun read. I've also been sworn at.

Knit With Courage, Live With Hope - Hey, if I can't make money off of my husband's cancer, then who can? Seriously, it's the story of one year in our family's life, the year we moved to St. Paul and discovered that Gerry had Multiple Myleoma.

Cheaper Than Therapy - A collection of fiber related essays which I edited

Knitting Millinery - 5 wide-brimmed hat patterns & detailed instructions on how to make them (using millinery wire, and all that jazz)

Romantic Hand Knits
- Big, pretty book - you can get it at Amazon or your local yarn shop!

Men Who Knit & The Dogs Who Love Them - The title says it all - knits for man and beast!

Twist & Loop - Dozens of Jewelry Designs to Knit & Crochet
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Traditional Thanksgiving Snake

Maybe it was the cut ends of the Brussels Sprouts? Or the gallons of potato & apple peels? Maybe it was the celery ends? Whatever it was, our disposal is clogged. It runs, it creates a whirlpool, but the water ain't going NOwhere.

Various fixes were tried, including Gerry's foray with his snake (he looks for any chance to bring that baby out...) but so far to no avail.

Our friend, Mike, who's visiting for the week thinks he's wandered onto a fix online, but it involves a pot of hot water and none of us are totally understanding it (we started drinking early) so right now Mike's printing it out so we can all read it together at the sink.

(added Friday morning: Here is the magic link, in case anyone else has the same problem...)

Dinner's almost ready, the turkey breast is almost done, the potatoes are waiting to be whipped and everything else is settling and warming. Gerry just finished the dressing (we cook it separate from the turkey) and we have The Godfather series on TV. Gerry remembers back in the day, in NYC, when King Kong and Mighty Joe Young were on the TV menu every Thanksgiving.

I think they show the Godfather in this holiday season so that the families at home look relatively happy and normal in comparison.

Tomorrow we're having some friends over for a Day-after-T-day dessert and coffee thing. I bought wine and beer (not terribly helpful, but fun.) We're feeling rather low-key, and very happy to be able to see some of our friends. I hope I have enough pie!

I've been pretty rotten at keeping up my blog the past few weeks, I apologize for that. I've been so, well, blue and sad over things. Everytime I start to write, I feel as if I'm just going to be all sad and blue, and I don't want to take anyone else on that trip. I ride alone.

But every day is nicer, makes more sense, and is a little easier.

Today it was SO lovely that I went out for a good, long bike ride while the turkey finished and Gerry romances the sink. Happy days!

I came home to two cats in love (Shiloh is very thankful we brought a babe home for him, Kiki seems pretty thankful, too!)

Gerry just announced that, "Following the Insinkerator instructions [drumroll] we got it fixed!"

Thank you, insinkerator, this will be the BEST Thanksgiving EVERY!

3 Hours Later
The dinner was grand, the kitchen is cleaned, the garbage disposal is chugging away and we're just giving ourselves a few hours to digest before we stumble toward that bright light we call "Dessert" Yee haw!

So we'll sit, we'll stuff, and then we'll have either Apple or Squash pie (I made both) and rest. We may have a game of Monopoly or Scrabble later, who knows?

I think we'll all watch Spirited Away. I could tell that Mike is impressed with the video knowledge our kids have - lots of unusual movies and TV shows, we're odd parents.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fun Sounds

Here are two fun sounds for the holiday

First, me doing a Turkey Call. I discovered I could do this when I found myself at a Turkey Shoot in Gallatin, Tennessee in 1982. Don't ask.

Next, a little tune that Norah Gaughan and I whipped up on our favorite luxury fiber. I added the instrumental today. Thank you, Garage Band!

More knitting today - and later, pies!
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Here we go again...

Just about this time last year I wrote a post about Interweave Knit's proposal to designers to sell our patterns on their online website. The designer's cut? 10%. I found this absurd, but I also had found IK to be an amazingly wonderful magazine to work with, so I wrote about it at my blog.

One thing led to another, which led to some very good conversations between Interweave and their Designers. Which, in turn, led to a new agreement whereby a designer can earn between 20% - 50% for online pattern sales at Interweave.

The figure is dependent on whether the Designer allows IK exclusive online rights and how much they promote the IK pattern sale site on the Designer's own website, but the formula for figuring it out is relatively simple and - I think - very fair.

It was a wonderful resolution, all parties benefitted and treated each other respectfully.

IK doesn't keep as much of the sales % as they originally intended, it's true. But I think more Designers signed onto the program and - as far as I can tell - just about everyone is happy. At any rate, I'm happy!

Perhaps more Designers signing on = more money for IK?


I knew that Vogue Knitting, which is owned by Soho Publishing, had recently started offering previously published patterns for sale on their website.

But as the contracts with Vogue are far different than the contracts with Interweave (the Designers pretty much sign away all rights when Soho publishing buys the pattern) I knew that asking for decent compensation would be useless, so I didn't bother.

I figured I'd just quietly not submit or design for VK until the time when they either approached me (and I could renegotiate my future contracts with them) or they changed their contracts on their own to reflect a more modern and realistic relationship with their Designers.

I could have been more pro-active, but I've had a lot of personal stuff this year which has taken time away from my desire to start working toward a functioning guild or union for Hand Knit / Crochet Designers. I'll admit, I let this slide and chalked it up to "Things one must accept when one signs away one's Intellectual Property rights in a contract."

Today I got an email from Soho Publishing - I'm sure all folks who've designed for Vogue got the same email - which read, in part:
Soho Publishing Company is excited to announce the launch of our web-based initiative, which will allow us to offer the content from our print magazines (Vogue Knitting, Knit.1, Knit Simple and Family Circle Knitting) in digital format.

Specifically, we will be reselling patterns from past and present publications as downloadable files, accessible via the Internet.


What does this mean to you? As one of our valued designers, you will receive a ten percent (10%) royalty on all net revenue received from the resale of patterns designed by you. While Soho contractually has the right to reuse this content without further payment to our designers, we appreciate the value our contributors bring to our product and sincerely wish to maintain a relationship based on respect and good faith. [Emphasis is mine.]
I have enjoyed having my work in Vogue - I love Vogue - although I haven't had anything in the magazine since the exit of Adina (very sad)

But as much as I love Vogue, I don't love this kind of treatment. Ten percent is not a reasonable amount to offer a designer when reselling their work, period. And it's 10% on net - what on earth does THAT mean? Is that after they've taken editing and web costs into account? Too unclear, and too little.

Until the contracts at Soho materially change so that I have control over my intellectual property (or when and whether those rights will revert to me), I can't see how I can sanction this by submitting further designs to VK.

I'm just one designer, and there are MANY more who will be happy to fill any small void my action creates (I've been in the magazine so little, I realize this is NOT a big blow to VK)

But I'm hopeful that more and more designers will reach into that self-respecting place deep in our knitting soul and tell the major entities that we must be treated in a respectful way. *

My idea of a good contract is one from which ALL parties benefit, one that is fair to all sides.

Respect and good faith is officially worth 10% at Soho these days. I hope this changes soon.

*For me, personally, these include: Decent compensation, ability to retain IP rights, full travel and accommodation reimburse for teaching engagements.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'd like to teach in the UK next year

So I'm throwing it out, and maybe the wind will blow something back.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

School Me

I just signed up for a day long class at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis on Bohus Knitting, taught by Susanna Hanson. I'm SO excited - I don't get to take as many classes as I'd like - and this will be not only fun, but a chance to expand my teaching skills by seeing how another teacher handles a 6 hour class.

I've wanted to take a class with Susanna for a while, I've been fascinated by Bohus knitting since I first read about the coop in Vogue Knitting in the 80's. The book, Poems of Color is a wonderful resource for information on this - school? style? - of knitting.

Those of us who teach at large gatherings always bemoan the fact that our schedules generally don't allow us a chance to take classes with the other teachers.

This is a treat - and I'm very happy that I registered. I tried to get into the half day class the day before, but it was full so I'll have to stretch the budget a bit to make this work. But, it's a tax deduction because this is my living, so I can justify it that way (right..?)

I've also gone over to the dark side, I've started twittering and I'm still trying to figure it out... I have one follower right now, which makes me laugh (you have ONE follower) Now I feel that I have to twitter about fun stuff because someone is following me.

Yarn arrived from Lorna's Laces for a new project, and it's in colors that we're working through on the way to a nice new colorway for me (or, really, for Gerry - doesn't he look sweet all covered in yarn?)

This makes me so happy - but I can't imagine anything being as lovely as Amy's Vintage Office, which I'm working up right now in a sweater for Yarn Forward magazine using Swirl Chunky. This yarn pretty much knits itself, it's so fabulous!

More later on Gerry's color - I'm leaning toward the skein that's sitting right on top of his head, but I have to knit them up to see what I really think!
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mortal

After 9/11 I found myself pondering death all of the time - death, dying, the end, finis, mort. You know it's serious when I start pondering en Francaise.

At the time I was reading a wonderful book, The Mummies of Urumchi, which somehow calmed the 'death fear' that had crept into every pore.

It was soothing to realize how long the human family stretches, how many millions (billions) of souls have been born; carved lives; created relationships; impacted many other humans; and finally, died.

I am not sure why this is a comfort to me, but it is. So I won't question it, or try to pry the mystery apart, I'll just claim some comfort. Not so comforting is the sign I passed today in front of a chiropractor's office: We'll extend your life or your money back!

I'm generally not one who goes around fearing death, preferring to be satisfied that some things are - and will be - that aforementioned un-pryable mystery. Well, I assume it will remain a mystery. At least for as long as I'm able to write my blog...

I've had my share of death and dying in the past few years, that's for sure. I'm not alone, and I'm not singular - many folks are dealing with worse garbage than I. This is not a plea for sympathy, just a statement of the path my mind and soul have been wandering lately.

I've been unsettled, uneasy, and very, very sad. Jan's passing is the main reason, obviously - but her passing has allowed all of my other sadnesses to pool into the depression. I'm moving in slow motion, a little unguided, foggy - or is it just the Minnesota November drawing in?

Preparing for bed last night, I was reading a book I'd found at the Rochester Barnes & Noble, The Buddhist Path to Simplicity by Christina Feldman, and a paragraph I read made me feel very peaceful;
Again and again we learn that the gap between what is and what "should be" is an ocean of distress, disappointment and frustration. These feelings are not intrinsic to living but derive from our unwillingness to turn our hearts and minds to the realities of each moment. To have the wisdom to acknowledge the bare truths of the moment - "this is grief," "this is fear," "this is frustration" - enables us to lay down the burden of our stories and "shoulds," and follow the road to peace.
This resonates with me right now - keeping my wants from overriding my needs, and knowing the difference is something I need to keep in my mind.

What I need right now is to finish the three projects I'm working on, and write a pattern for another very small project. Off to the left is a peek at a plaid and ribbed cardigan I'm doing.

More yarn is coming to me - Lorna's Laces is working up a colorway for me (!) and Beth wants me to check out her interpretation of my color inspiration photograph (taken from my car on a highway in Wisconsin in October).

I'm not sure exactly how it will turn out, but I'm certain it will be quite beautiful.

And the new kitten (Kiki?) is intruiged with Padma. I think it's because she spit food out in her napkin on last night's Top Chef and the kitten thought it was a hairball. She's in love. What will we do?
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

SDT

SDT = So Damned Tired.

The weekend was lovely - wonderful - and I hope it was restful for the students!

I know I had a good time, but I was also feeling very responsible for folks, a responsibility I wasn't entirely prepared to take on as I drove over to Spicer.

On the way I was thinking, "Gee, I'd love to just have some wine, have a bite to eat, do some knit teaching and crash!" But when I arrived I discovered that of the two sisters who were hosting the weekend retreat, one had to unexpectedly travel to Indiana, and the other unfortunately had a heart and health incident that put her in the hospital this weekend (I just heard that she's doing better, not great, but better...)

What a shock! I feel absolutely churlish complaining about feeling "responsible" when someone is experiencing such a serious health situation, so I won't complain. And it wasn't like it was odious to be the camp counselor this weekend.

But it wasn't expected, and it took me a few hours to move myself into that mind set. I think the retreat participants had a wonderful time - there were hugs and grins all around. Here is a shot of our bag bottoms, our little "canoes" by the lake.


One of the students this weekend (speedy Diane!) finished her LOVELY bag (which I foolishly did NOT get a snapshot of...) by the end of the weekend - I was so proud of her!

UPDATE - Here's a photo of Diane's bag - she sent it to me this morning, isn't it lovely?

Most of the other students were almost done with their bags by Sunday afternoon, Diane's bag was so exciting because we got to felt it before we left, which was great for those who hadn't seen felting before.

In addition to mitered knitting, I also showed a little entrelac (I've been working on the concept of charting entrelac for a few years - click here for a downloadable pdf of the info sheet I've been working on...) and I taught a tiny bit of cabling without a cable needle for the class participants who hadn't done that with me before.

As a teacher, I think I choked during the cabling demo, but as I was thinking about it later, the whole feeling-responsible-for-the-group thing was making me feel a little off my game.

At any rate, it's so GOOD to be home, to have my knee iced and up on my stool, to have my knitting projects in front of me and NO committments until I go out to San Diego in Jan. I am going to sleep in all day tomorrow - life is tired, but good...

Speaking of Entrelac -

I just finished a piece for Summer IK which involves working entrelac in lace (a la the Forest Path Shawl from Summer 2003 IK) and I found that charting the entrelac really helped as I worked out a lace pattern that increases in stitches in each band.

I'm also working on a jacket with plaid touches, I'm so happy with the fabric so far! I showed off a bit of it this weekend, and the folks were excited by it, too!

Tomorrow I rest, I'm going to save up my energy so that on Tuesday when I go back into the studio to record more of Knit With Courage I'm fresh as a daisy.

On Friday I felt so wilted - mostly because the section I was reading was emotionally very wearying. It's hard to relive all that again.

I wish I felt better about how my voice is sounding. At least I look hotsy totsy, huh?
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good and Bad Days

It's been SUCH a busy week - so much has happened since I last wrote -

But it's been a hard week because I'm finding myself getting lost in my recent sorrows more than I'd thought I would. I think that just comes with the territory. Jan's recent passing seems to act like a magnifying glass, bringing other recent losses (and illnesses) in such sharp focus they almost burn through me. It felt a little too much at times this week.

Saturday
I can hardly express how much I loved teaching at Slater Mill - the rooms felt good to me, the students were amazing, the staff was SO helpful (thank you Janice & Ruth & Angela and EVERYONE!) and I loved the general feel of the location.

I had a tremendous time (who wouldn't with some Yorkshire Gold Earl Grey!), I hope the students enjoyed my classes as much as I loved teaching them!

It was chilly in New England, so I wore my Split Cable Lace Wimple quite a bit (and got some lovely reactions!) It's in Buffboo (75% bamboo, 25% bison) by Buffalo Gold, which is a lace yarn that is an absolute delight to knit up!

I've written the pattern, and it's up for sale (finally!)

For my blog readers there's a special discount code which will get you 1/2 off the pattern (normally $5, with the discount $2.50) When you order just type in "ave" - NOTE: this code will only work until Sunday night, 11/16.

Sunday
I drove up to New Hampshire on Sunday after my last class and stayed with Norah Gaughn and her guy. I loved her home so much - LOVED her cats (who seemed to like me, too!) and we had a great dinner capped by dessert and drinks at a local spot.

A very nice way to unwind! They told me they'd had a moose in their back yard - I wouldn't doubt it. It's pretty wild up there. They had a single moose antler in their living room...

Monday
I arrived at the Boston airport hours before I needed to, but I was able to get onto an earlier flight AND they bumped me up to First Class! With the traveling I've done this year I've finally achieved Elite status (evidently the latte-sipping and limosine riding will come later...) so I can get bumped up when there's room. It was a delight - and I'm a little ashamed of how excited I was about ample leg room, a nice meal and free wine! I was definitely under dressed.

Tuesday
I had a local TV appearance on Tuesday on our own KARE11 mid-morning show, Showcase Minnesota (it was fun! Corbin, one of the hosts who interviewed me, was just lovely!)

I always feel a little unattractive when I'm on camera, but I did my best and wore a Poppy for Veteran's Day (I'd knit it the day before)

Unfortunately I also wore heels which, along with the heels I wore on Friday night, seem to have really done a number on my knee. Dang. Oh, the pain! I'm back into the KEENS immediately!

Wednesday
I began a new project that is very exciting to me...

I'm going to record Knit With Courage as an audio book! I was approached by a small but up-and-coming Minneapolis based audio book company, Holton House, and after "auditioning" last week to see if my own voice would work well for the project, we decided to go ahead and use me! I got the job!

So yesterday I recorded a good portion of the book and everyone seemed to think it went pretty well. They're very Minnesotan, so they're kind but not over-enthusiastic.

Given that in most of the NY production work I've done, the reverse is true (folks tend to be VERY enthusiastic, and sometimes unkind) it's hard to get used to this different way of working. But I think I did okay.

Stopping at Cost Plus on the way home (they have canned butternut squash) I ran smack into a huge Christmas display of ornaments and gifts, etc.

Jan LOVED Christmas - it was the holiday she looked forward to more than any other, everything about Christmas makes me think of her - and miss her.

I had to sneak off between some tall displays of candles and candies to gather myself.

Thursday
Today I have "off" (resting my knee and preparing for weekend classes) and tomorrow I record again before heading out to Spicer for a knitting weekend, we'll be working on my Universal Mitered Handbag all weekend, I'm VERY excited!

I think space is still available, but we've planned on a small group for an intimate experience.


Friday
Tomorrow I record again in the morning, then I head out to Spicer to teach all weekend.

I'm SO looking forward to this weekend, I had to cancel my earlier Spicer weekend due to Jan's passing, and this time I'm taking my bike just in case the weather is remotely okay for a ride on the bike path.

I'm actually thinking of making a short 1/2 hour video tutorial on making and felting the Universal Mitered Handbag, and if it goes well I'll offer it along with the pattern as an available for purchase download. Gerry may come out on Saturday to tape some of me teaching to intersperse with some step by step stuff to put in the short video.

And if THAT goes well, it may be the first step in a DVD we've been threatening to put out for a long time... Be afraid...
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Friday, November 07, 2008

Ghosts

Supposedly there are ghosts at the Slater Mill, but I didn't see any.

I'd kind of like to see one (yeah, right, that's my story NOW, ask me after I've had an encounter with an envoy from the other world) but I was too tired after the event this evening to take the Ghost Tour. I wish I had!

I was also too tired to go out to dinner, I'd eaten before anyway. So I went back to the hotel while Norah et al went off for some Indian food. Rest is good, but Indian food is good, too...

It was amazing to see Norah again, I just love her, and we had a wonderful time chatting with each other in front of the very kind group of knitters and well-wishers who came by for our chat and Q&A. A couple of short haired hand knit designers with dark-framed glasses sitting around talking. Separated at birth?

The event this evening was so much fun! Ruth and Janice had everything very well set up, but not 'over planned', it was a delight to be there.

I arrived very early and sat next to the river knitting for a couple of hours. A fellow with a sweet doggie walked by a few times, the dog and I bonded. A lovely, warm Autumn evening by a beautiful historic site. Just wait until you see my photos... In the mean time here's a lovely shot taken 2 years ago by ronmcv at Flickr.

During the evening I'm afraid I talked waaaay too much [sorry Norah!] I have a tendency to ramble on, but Norah took it all in stride and was very gracious about my hogging of the conversation.

The audience was full of good questions, interesting comments and they were READY to laugh - love that! A fellow named Alasdair showed me a VERY cool hat that he'd designed, a double knit basket weave cable in several colors. It was SO darned adorable that I had to put it on, a very sweet hat!

I met Guido from It's A Purl, Man and he was SO great - a really cool guy! I may be returning to Boston next year for some kind of blogging / podcasting / teaching thing he was talking about (I'm afraid I was too enervated to understand exactly what he was saying...)

Norah and I signed a lot of books, talked to a lot of knitters, and we both have full groups for our classes tomorrow - yay!

I'm teaching Combo knitting in the morning and afternoon, then I'm teaching lace on Sunday morning. Then I kill time until my flight on Monday (taking a Sunday flight would have been hundreds of dollars more than flying out on Monday, so I thought it made sense to stay an extra day...)

I'd love to hear suggestions of where I should go on Sunday evening to experience the beauty of Rhode Island - I love the suggestion of Bristol or Newport, maybe I'll go there...

And tonight? I'm settling in for some fine, fine TV watching (HBO - Bill Maher) and some good knitting (Lorna's Laces Swirl in Amy's Vintage Office - a Man's sweater for Yarn Forward)

Life is good.
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Unsettled

I feel oddly adrift, maybe it's the overcast weather (which ironically makes the foliage here in New England even more spectacular and brilliant!) or maybe it's just staying in a different hotel every night, but I feel not quite myself. I miss Gerry and the kids, and I really miss St. Paul!

Boston was lovely - what a wonderful city, I've always loved it so much. The College Club is such an exquisite venue, and they were phenomenal in making the room comfortable and my students feel well taken care of. Good coffee, tea and cookies - yay!

The classes went very well, I was thrilled to have two groups of such engaged and enthusiastic knitters. At one point one student commented that they'd better be good because they knew I'd write about them on my blog - but there's no worry there, they were a wonderful group. Very quick, very hard working (the best thing a teacher could ask for!) and very kind.

My own room at the CC was beautiful, but the bed was a little odd (two twin beds pushed together, I kept falling in between them all night...) so it was with tremendous gratitude that I arrived at the Comfort Inn here in Pawtucket and was kindly allowed to check in early so I can get a good nap in before the Q&A and book signing at Slater Mill tonight.

It will be SO wonderful to see Norah again, she's such a doll! We're tag-teaming classes this weekend, and I hope to get some time when we can just chat!

Also from the Department of Dolls, one of my students stayed behind last night to chat and mentioned that her college roommate and best friend lives in South Orange. It turns out it's one of my best S.O. friends, too! [Hi, E.M...]

She's a magnificent woman, human being and - well - she's just a phenomenon (she stood with me at my wedding AND did the food WHILE she was pregnant...)

We engaged in the most delightful love fest about our mutual friend, it made me miss her very much. Talking about a good friend with another who loves them is a wonderful thing.

So now I'm here in Rhode Island, taking a side trip to Watertown, MA for a late breakfast at the Deluxe Diner (photo from Boston Chomps blog) which had been recommended by one of my students.

I had corned beef hash, which may have been a bad idea (I should have had scrambled eggs and bacon or oatmeal) but I enjoyed it VERY much and will make another trip there the next time I'm in the area.

No photos, but I have been taking some nice ones and when I get home (where I left the cable) I'll share shots of the Boston Garden, the College Club and my amazing breakfast.

And now for a nice nap, I'm tired. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bah-ston

I'm here in Boston, my flight got in this afternoon and I'm staying in the area in preparation for my classes tomorrow.

I'm very excited about them - a new working model for me - sponsoring and covering all the expenses of the class myself, but keeping the $$, too. On this trip it's working out - I'm psyched about that.

As yarn shops have less and less capital to invest in bringing in a teacher, this may be a way to still get to areas to teach where no shops are able to host me. Boston is a prime example - there are lots of shops, but they tend to be smallish (which can be hard for classes) and I wasn't able to find one that wanted to sponsor classes.

I'd always prefer to work with yarn shops - I like the symbiotic relationship between different areas of the knitting and fiber world - but sometimes it's not possible (or practical)

So tomorrow is my experiment in handling this whole thing myself - and I'm looking forward to it!

I picked up a NY Times and Boston Globe when I arrived, papers with banner headlines, OBAMA!

My heart is so full of hope and pride, and so full of the knowledge of all the work we'll have to undertake to undo the hole we've been dug into, it might burst.

Of course, the inevitable protests have begun...
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posted by Annie at 6 Comments Links to this post

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Two Four Who Should Be Here

Up to the minute election results!

Click for www.electoral-vote.com

(so much for no politics on a knitting blog...)

Gerry and I voted already, we're watching Obama vote right now in Chicago (no wonder the lines are long, what is he - moving in?)

But I cannot get two people out of my mind who should be here. You may be of the mind that they ARE here, I'd like to think that, too. But I think it's a cheat that they're not here physically.

In some ways they deserve to be part of this day more than any other 'bystander' does.

1. Obama's Grandma Toot
I was surprised to hear that Obama's grandma, Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham, who was 87, was about the same age as my mom (who died 5 years ago at age 85, I like to think they would have been friends) Two of the greatest generation, with great legs and great hearts.

My mom had her kids very late - she just didn't seem able to get pregnant - and that's why I'm the same age as Barack Obama (we're born 30 days apart, he on 8/4 and me on 9/3 of 1961) What an odd coincidence...

2. Tim Russert
Tim Russert is so missed, every political wonk I know is gritting their teeth that he never had a chance to interview Governor Palin.

How I'd love to see his little whiteboard tonight as we watch the returns. Damn.

3. Studs Terkel
I can't believe I forgot Studs! Voice for the common wo/man, Chicagoan and Obama Supporter - and now he's late. Dang.4. Bernie Mac
I love me some Bernie, and I was devastated when he suddenly passed this Summer. I kept thinking, "Chicago's lost a booster, and boy would he LOVE this election!" Double dang.
Get your butts out and VOTE today, I don't care who you vote for (yes, I do) but just get out there and exercise your right as a citizen!

I feel like this election is possibly the most important in our nation's history. This is the election when - in a reversal of the 20th century model - we deal with a despot by kindly, gently and firmly voting his party out of office. Let the healing begin!

Never has our nation been so abused as it has in the past 8 years. Fighting back with courage and kindness and democracy is a singular event in the history of the world.

Hillel, Jesus, Gandhi, MLK, Russert, Studs, Bernie and Toot - they're all proud today, baby!
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posted by Annie at 20 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Why I Like Al - in 2 Parts

I like Al Franken, I hope he wins.

He's smart, hard working, he's been responsible for a great deal of the Democratic Revival of the past 6 years (his books and radio show), and I think he's just the right person to pierce the hypocrisy of DC with sharp pointy wit. He's running against the incumbent Republican Senator, Norm Coleman.

It's a tight race, and I've been so dismayed by the tone of Norm Coleman's ads (not to mention the mailings his campaign's been sending out - just vile stuff.)

Negative ads aren't the same as a smear campaign. In ads that are often hard hitting, Franken has called Coleman on many of his positions.

But so much of what's been said about Franken is just lies and nonsense, and nasty nonsense at that.

[One of my favorite ads of this wacky season was Franken's rebuttal ad, "Al Franken HATES puppies!" Because that's how over the top Coleman's attack ads have seemed.]

Part I
This week a new story has broken - this from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

The lawsuit filed Monday alleges that a top Coleman donor, businessman Nasser Kazeminy, steered $75,000 from a Houston company that he has a majority interest in to a Minneapolis insurance company that employs Laurie Coleman as an independent contractor.

A second lawsuit was filed Friday by minority shareholders in the Houston marine company. Both lawsuits allege Kazeminy said he wanted to provide financial help to the Colemans through an insurance-consulting arrangement between Deep Marine Technology Inc. and Hays Insurance Co. Kazeminy has not commented on the lawsuits.

Instead of answering - or even addressing - these charges, Coleman insists that the whole thing was cooked up by the Franken campaign as an "11th hour smear campaign" - but offers no proof of any connection between the suit and Franken.

Coleman's assertion just doesn't sound right when you read the available facts of the case. I read the suit - it poses allegations about money being funneled to Coleman via his wife's employer.

I don't hate Coleman - heck, I don't even know him. I live in his neighborhood, I'm sure he's a nice guy, but the tone of his ads have been SO smearingly nasty - now with this extra "Franken's out to hurt my wife..." kick that they make me sad.

I hope folks will look up the suit and read it, as I did. And listen to Franken's reply to Coleman's charge.

Part II
The other day at the Home Depot a saleswoman saw my Elizabeth Edwards pin and buttonholed me about Franken vs. Coleman. It became obvious that we disagreed on the choices offered, but I didn't really see it as my place to try to convince her that Franken was better - she liked Norm pretty well, I was happy to leave it at that. But she was like a dog with a bone.

What struck me was her ANGER toward Franken, and ultimately her nastiness. Even though earlier in the conversation Gerry and I had mentioned that we moved here from NJ (or perhaps because we said we'd moved here) she called Franken a "carpetbagger" who had no business running for office since he came from "back east"

Franken's dad moved the family to Albert Lea when he was a kid, Al grew up in St. Louis Park (Minneapolis), he is about as Minnesotan as most folks I've met here.

I felt a little taken aback by her tone - it was one of the few times I felt that I had to defend my own choice to move here - her inference being that we really didn't have a right to vote for Senator since we're so new to the state.

As soon as we left the Home Depot we went to the election office and Gerry did his early voting (I voted last week)

I sincerely hope Al Franken's our next senator from MN. If nothing else, it will be amusing to watch Bill O'Reilly's head explode when he has to say, "Senator Franken..."
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posted by Annie at 12 Comments Links to this post

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Fluish

I've been feeling a little raw the last few days, ache-y throat, tired, muscle pain.

It caught up with me last night as the kids were sorting through their candy (Trick or Trade, they call it) and I headed upstairs to sleep.

So I was the first up today, I rode my bike a bit, picked up bagels and eggs and bacon. But for most of the day I laid low, hoping that this aching is just silly weather-changing stuff.

Gerry's also been low lately, tired, cold, in pain. Nothing terribly serious, but unsettling.

He took the kids and the dog to the dog run. Hannah had a friend over for Halloween, he wanted all the kids to run wild a bit. I was lazy, I stayed home and slept. And made a quiche.

We only had 12 trick or treaters last night, but we're on a busy street (off the main drag for tricks and treats) However this morning we had three folks drop by (two canvassing for Obama, one for Jesus)

I gave each of them candy and told them we'd already made our decision. They seemed happy with the candy.

Hannah was a Geisha, I felt like a miracle worker because I found this wig at Target for $3.50 on Thursday.

Max was a Zombie. We painted his face with green concealer (mine) and some glow in the dark paint (his) with black around his eyes.

Hannah's friend was a Zobo (Zombie Hobo) which no one "got" - but I thought it was clever.

She's one of the few folks I know who can really "work" some green face paint. It was a face-paint heavy kind of Halloween this year.

I'm off to bed again - I just want to rest as much as possible and fight this thing off with a full charge of energy.

I put a MPR widget on my blog to follow the election, because I know the first place you turn for poll results is my blog...
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posted by Annie at 4 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



Chullo-licious


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