Saturday, May 30, 2009

Resting Among Friends

The teaching in Pennsylvania went SO well - I loved Mountain Knits and the students were exceptional!

And, after teaching, it's nice to relax and sleep. So I took a day at a hotel (always good to regroup) then headed over to South Orange to visit some old friends and spend the night in a friendly guest room.

I love my life in Minnesota - we love being there, and I wouldn't und0 the last few years (even with the fear and cancer) because - and this may sound like so much smoke-blowing - we're a better, more loving and more cohesive family than we were before. I wouldn't wish our situation on anyone, but I'm not sorry it happened to us.

I'm staying with friends who are working through their own forest right now, and dealing with it as well as anyone could. I feel grateful to be part of their extended 'family', and very grateful that they invited me into stay overnight.

It's been wonderful to see old friends and laugh in ways that I haven't since leaving NJ. Yes, we laugh in Minnesota, but it's a more controlled laugh - more sedate - more measured. Yesterday I spent a good part of the day guffawing, snorting and doing other attractive things with my mouth and nose while giggling. I miss my friends.

And, after a week, I find myself missing my friends back in MN quite a bit, too. I suppose sometimes transitions take a long time.

Today I'll drive up to Pound Ridge, NY to visit some other friends, to see some more kids that are Hannah and Max's age and have a nice evening with friends. I'm coming back to NJ tomorrow to get together with my old knitting group, then I'll try to devote a few days to catching up on some work that MUST be done (some before June 1st) and then head on up to Squam, NH!

I've heard that several of my classes are pretty much filled, which is great! If you're in the area and you'd like to take one, or if you'd like to come up for a wonderful long weekend of crafts and arts, visit www.squamartsworkshops.com and check out the registration process!

And now, back to my tea-sipping, newsletter-writing, pattern-figuring morning in Sunny Maplewood, NJ!
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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Resting, resting...

After two days of teaching in East Stroudsburg, I'm ready to move near the Delaware Water Gap!

I had the BEST time at Mountain Knits & Pearls, LOVE the stock of both yarn and great beads in the shop. Joanne did a lovely job setting up the classes and making everyone feel at home, and the students were SO much fun - so smart and funny and EXCELLENT at their knitting!

But it always surprises me how EXHAUSTED a day of teaching can make me! I drove into NJ to my hotel, turned down the bed and ordered a small pizza, and was almost asleep before it arrived!

I'm calling it an early night - I tried to knit a bit, and I'm just TOO zonked. I tried to work on my newsletter - I can't keep my eyes open.

Tomorrow will be spent visiting old friends in South Orange, and I may just mosey on down to the shore and visit the ocean.

Sat / Sun I'll be visiting friends up in Westchester who have kids the same age as Hannah and Max.

Sunday I come back to NJ to spend some quality time with my old knitting group, then on Monday I head up to Saratoga Springs for a quickie book signing at Saratoga Needle Arts on the 2nd before I go on to Squam Lake, New Hampshire for the Squam Arts Workshops.

I'm glad I have some time off - big classes of engaged and excited students take about as much energy as being a parent to toddlers (but classes - at my age - are a little bit more fun...)
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Monday, May 25, 2009

Trying to Check Into The Red Roof Inn in Parkersburg, WV

I made the reservations on Orbitz.

Somewhere between the making of the reservation
and Red Roof Inn receiving it,
the information went
"Poof!"

So here I stand, tired,
it's 10:52 pm
I've been here for over 20 minutes.
It's hot & it's humid.

Matthew -
[the Orbitz guy I finally got
on the line after about
20 minutes of "Pachelbel's Canon",]
says he's resending the reservation.

Matthew says it will take 5 minutes.

The Red Roof Inn doesn't have email,
so Matthew is faxing the reservation.

I am tired.

The two desk clerks are
standing in the doorway
smoking & laughing.

I'm just trying to get to sleep.

- "Will you take out the trash?"
- "Huh?"
- "Will you take out the trash?"

- "Where'll I put it?"
- "In the dumpster."
- [giggles] "Yeah..."

They both giggle

I think they're high.

[Pachelbel's Canon continues to play]
"Miss...",
Matthew's voice is back on the line.

"Will you continue to hold?
I'm processing the reservation..."

I tell him, "Yes, I'll hold,"
& remind him that he told me
15 minutes ago
it would take 5 minutes.

He giggles.

I think he's high, too.

Afterword
I lay in bed, deep in sleep,
as soon as my head hit the pillow I was gone.
The phone rings,
I check the clock - it's midnight.

I grab the receiver in panic, it's the desk clerk,

"I just wanted to tell you
you're all set,
you're good."

"Uh, um, thanks.
I was asleep."

I can hear the sound
of a potato chip bag rustling.

"Oh, I'm sorry!"
She giggles.

Now I know she's high.
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Me Time in Ohio

Today is Memorial Day, when most folks are barbeque-ing, attending a festival or parade, or - what I'll be doing - shopping and visiting graves. They go together like - buying stuff & crying.

I visited Denison last evening, my alma mater, and then drove to the first hotel I could find that I could afford, dropped off my bags, and went for a long bike ride.

There's good biking around here.

This morning I wandered into a Caribou Coffee, a little bit of heaven, Minnesota, in Newark Ohio, so I'm enjoying some long-term free wi-fi and I'm able to answer emails and get some work done.

I'm driving out to my favorite shopping adventure, the Eddie Bauer Factory Warehouse just West of Columbus (NOT an outlet store, the real deal!) and hopefully I'll find some buys. I may even find a tent so I can cut down on hotel expenses between my engagements!

Then I'll head down to Parkersburg, WV for my one-stop-shopping, supermarket-sweepstakes, WalMart of grief, Mt. Olivet Cemetary. My mom, dad, grandma, aunt, uncles and most recently my cousin, Jan, are all there. All that's missig is Jim, my brother, who's down in Tyler, TX. I'm taking my bike so I can move from grave to grave before sundown.

Then I may be be meeting up with a woman I'd been corresponding with when Jan was in the hospital, who came up to my class yesterday (how kind!) and invited me to dinner after my round of graveside visits. It's kind of her because - at this point - there're precious little folks for me to visit in Parkersburg. How odd. This will be an odd trip.

I don't need to be in East Strousburg, PA until late on Wed, so I'll meander my way over there, and I'm serious about perhaps finding a campsite if I can find a tent! I figure the next time I hit a hotel I can clean the burrs out of my hair.

GREAT LAKES FIBER SHOW
The Great Lakes Fiber Show was SO wonderful! I had the BEST time with all of my classes - the big ones, the smaller ones, they were all terrific!

Here's one of my students in the Mitered Bag Class showing off her little knitted bra, ahem canoe, ahem BAG bottom.

Linda Reichert did an amazing job organizing much of this wonderful event, and I was thrilled to be back!
I thought I'd been here in 2006, but it had been 4 years since I'd visited. How time flies, huh?

This is a student from my classes yesterday who brought her new purchase, a bunny named Gidget, to visit the class. What a sweetie! I should NOT have hugged it, though, as I was wheezing for a while afterward. My bad.

The trip so far has been just wonderful. Very enjoyable! Seeing old friends is the best part, it's nice to have a little bit of time between the gigs to just say "Hi!" to folks. Here's Beth from Lorna's Laces (standing by the El) when I dropped by that Chicago company to say hello.

I swear, every time I see her she looks younger - totally not fair!

Off to shop and grieve - in that order!
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Good Tired

I'm back chez Comfort Inn, knitting, catching up on email and watching the America's Next Top Model marathon. The perfect ending for a great day of classes at the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster!

My classes today were Double Knitting and the Mitered Bag, both went very well! I wish I'd been able to cover more material, but it was a big class (19) and sometimes that affects how much I can give each student individually.

The mitered class was a bit smaller - 16 - and the class astounded me by getting farther in the bag than many smaller classes I've taught!

I remember how impressed I was with the quality of the knitting the last time I taught here in Wooster, and this visit is no different!

I had hopes of going for a bike ride, but hadn't anticipated my exhaustion. It was all I could do to stop at the local grocery and pick up some grapes, then back to my hotel for a nice, tall New Glarus Naked ale - yay!

I talked to Gerry and the kids before my phone died - they're at the Saint Paul Saints game, we're hoping they're far enough up in line to get the Al Franken / Norm Coleman bobble head dolls.

In the mean time, here's a photo of one of the tulips we'd replanted on Mother's Day - they're taking to the front yard in a good way!
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sal-Amanda!

...is what they holler when Amanda, the most amazing human being on Rice Street, walks into Small Bar in Chicago.

I've seldom felt as immediately at home, embraced, just comfortable in a bar as I did at Small Bar (and I've felt comfortable in a number of bars!)

But this is an amazing place, folks.

Amanda and I sat in the back, in these Church-esque padded pews, and surveyed the scene like two Queens (royal variety) inspecting our realm.

I swear to god each person in that bar came over to hug Amanda at some point (so if she has Swine Flu - and I'm not sayin' she does - all of Chicago has it now...)

Seriously, folks were coming in off the sidewalk to high-five her.

The beer list at Small Bar is excellent - a nice mix of darks, lights, wheats, ales, lagers - good stuff. I had a blonde mixed with a small bit of Lindeman's framboise for a summery, raspberry taste (don't ask me for brands, I'm snockered after just one beer!)

I also had an AMAZING spinach salad with cranberries, nuts, goat cheese, etc. - all my favorites - and it was DELICIOUS!

Amada had a great pulled pork nacho dish - HUGE - I helped her with it and some was brought home, too.

Tomorrow I'm going to stop in to Lorna's Laces for a quick "Hello!" before I head on to Wooster and my weekend of teaching. I am SO lucky to be able to stay with Amanda tonight, though - thank you, dollface!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

UK Classes are Final!

I've just spent a good chunk of time firming up teaching dates, getting some pricing and ads together, reserving space on Ravelry, and making travel arrangements. For ENGLAND, SCOTLAND and WALES!

It's all firmed up, the engagements are solid, and it's time to put some butts into some seats!

All of this travel planning is making my feet itchy - it's good I'm going off on the road tomorrow. Folks are arranged to drop by and peek on Gerry, neighbors have been alerted and I'm sure hot dishes will be coming into the kitchen (it's 90 friggin' degrees today - EVERY dish is a hot dish!)

I'm sponsoring myself in Edinburgh, so I can offer a discount on those classes for my blog readers. It's always scary when I front the $$ (in this case, ££) myself, but I ask yarn shops to do it every day, so it's good for me to do it once in a while!

Here's the scoop:


Di Gilpin - Aug 29 & 30
I'll be teaching a magnificent weekend at Di Gilpin's on Aug 29 & 30. This is a dream come true for me, meeting Di, it will be an amazing event!

I'm bringing Gerry with me for the first week of the trip, and he's more excited about this first leg than anything else!

Edinburgh - Sept 2 & 3
Then I move on to Edinburgh where I'll teach for 2 days (midweek, I apologize!) at the Bruntsfield Hotel (Best Western - go figure...) The classes are £35 each, but the more you sign up for, the more you save (all 4 classes are £120)

And - just because I like you (my dear, dear blog readers) I have a special code that will take an additional 20% off of the class fee (eg., all 4 classes would be £100, £25 per class, how can you say no?)

The class size is limited, I was only able to get one of the smaller meeting rooms so I'm limiting the classes to 14 students. First to sign up, first to go!

Are you ready for the code? It's modeknit.

Fyberspates - Sept 5 & 6
Then I move on to Whitchurch Shropshire, which I have NO idea how to pronounce, to finally meet the lovely Jen in person at Fyberspates and see her operation in action.

I just used some of her Scrumptious Merino in a sweater I did for Yarn Forward Magazine, and she was such a delight to work with! I'm so looking forward to seeing the church in which she houses her business.

Get Knitted - Sept 8
This is my only non-London engagement in England, it's once again a mid-week engagement, but I've found these to be unusually exciting classes.

I think folks really love having a bit of time off to themselves, to do something they love. There's generally a 'skipping school' feeling about the class that makes us all so giddy! I've heard such wonderful things about Get Knitted - I'm can't wait to meet them in person!

iKnit - Sept 11 & 12
This is the big finale to my trip, and I feel honored to be asked to join this grand weekend of Knitterati! Looking at the list of classes and instructors I'm sad that I'm teaching - I wish I had my entire weekend open to take all the classes!

I haven't been to London in 20 years (except for sprints through Gatwick) and I'm so excited to see how it's changed.

I know I haven't changed a bit. This is a photo of me in Paris, but it was the same general time period. I look just the same, right? I'm in the blue scarf with 2 college friends, Alison and Michael.

I loved that scarf...


PINS & NEEDLES

I was no novice to accupuncture, my own family practitioner here in St. Paul is ALSO an accupuncturist (and did wonders for a back and knee problem last year, and for my asthma!)

But she was booked up (she only does AP on certain mornings) so she recommended another practitioner right near me.

I love this place! It's Crocus Hill Oriental Medicine on Grand Avenue, and I'm so lucky to live just a few blocks away.

My first session last week was very good - interesting in that needles were placed where I hadn't had them before (my ears!?) but I felt the benefits of breathing immediately! And the headaches and backaches I get when I'm struggling for breath were not a problem at all this past week. Extra bonus? I have more mobility in my shoulder than I've had since my skiing fall!

Yesterday was session #2 with my new AC and I felt SO good afterward.

I'm a pretty comfort centric person, I eat too much, I sleep too much, I sit on my can too much and I like a beer. There, it's all out now - bet THAT was a big surprise for most of you...

When I walked in I was drinking a blended chai from Caribou Coffee, and she told me that dairy, cold and sweet are three things that the body has a hard time handling. I'm sure she's right, so I will desist from the frothy, milky beverages for a while.

I'm actually not THAT into them, I don't generally like dairy that much, but it was hot... Excuses, excuses...

But I've been trying to bike at least once a day, a nice sized at-least-2-mile route, and after my session yesterday I felt SO great I went for 4 miles. And it was VERY hot. But it just didn't seem to get to me.

Leaving for 3 weeks means missing Gerry, the kids, baseball games and soccer practice. But it also means putting a 3 week hiatus on the accupuncture. I'm interested to see if I go back to square one or if I can retain some of this nice breathing.

I also have to remember that I'm heading to several different regions with whole varieties of climate and allergins.

PACKING
Most of today is dedicated to tying up loose ends, getting some ads placed and general business stuff taken care of, and PACKING! I'll be gone for 3 weeks, which in some ways is easier than one week (I know I'll have to find a laundry at least once!)

I'm leaving much of my non-teaching time open for exploration, I'm taking my bike and I may just stop and ride around when the spirit moves me.

I was stunned when I did my pre-trip count of how many handouts I'd need that a modest estimate was 305. That's what's projected for my classes, and many are filled up (most fill in the week before I teach) so I'd better be prepared!

MINOAN SKIRT
I think Try #5 was the charm. I'm pretty happy with this one, although it's not close at all to the inspiration. I need to work on that. Actually, it looks much better in person than on the mannequin, and I'm planning on gathering up either side of the front for the apron-y look of the original statuette. When I get a good pic of that I'll post it.

I may rework the waist band (it looks clunky to me) but I like the sensation of creating a mini skirt for the modest.

I can't wait to see this on someone - I may have to go hijack my friend's daughter for a try-on this evening!
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Monday, May 18, 2009

A Night at the Mall HELL of America

We were supposed to have a frost on Sunday, but I don't think we did. I wouldn't know, you see, because I was SLEEPING AT THE MALL OF AMERICA on Saturday night.

Not for fun.

You see, a son of a friend won a 'contest' where he got to take 3 friends and stay all night at the MOA, the evening culminating in a preview of A Night At The Museum II on Sunday morning.

I'd never SEEN my friend's son so excited, and I was excited for him!

I was even proud of my kids who - when they realized that the group of 4 would pretty much be made up of my friend's family - were still so "atta boy! You did GREAT!" and showed no signs of, "Gee, I wish I were going..." to mar their friend's excitement.

That was last weekend.

This weekend it seemed that my friend's son's dad did NOT want to participate in the event. My friend's daughter had made other plans, and my friend's pregnancy (she's due shortly) just made the thought of her staying over at the MOA insane.

So she asked if my kids would like to go, which they did (did they ever!) and somehow I ended up in a car with 3 kids driving to the mall on Saturday evening with sleeping bags and pillows piled in the back.

(note: I did not in any way feel pressured, I volunteered. After seeing her son's face when he won and my kids when they found out they could go, too, how could I not?)

This was the first time they'd done something like this at the Mall, I was told, and all the parents were looking warily at each other at the check in. We glanced sideling at the benches as we were told we'd be sleeping on the hard, hard marble of the Rotunda. It just seemed mean to make us walk past the Sleep Number kiosk on our way in.

We were also told that once we checked in, if anyone left the Mall they would not be allowed back in for the main event, the MOVIE, at 9:00 am on Sunday.

There was mini golf and video games for the kids and then a showing of the original Night At The Museum on the jumbo tron in the Rotunda at midnight.

I was a little hungry by then - we all were. Chips and bottled water were supplied, but all the coffee shops had closed by then, and I didn't feel like hiking to Hooters and shelling out $5 for a cup of coffee. Man, I could have used a cup of coffee!

I sat up and knitted as long as I could, then I just had to sleep. So I tried the floor and lasted about 10 minutes - my back (pinched nerve a few weeks ago, remember?) just would NOT allow me to stay down. I noticed a large ottoman-type thing, a big 6' x 6' square, uphostered bench.

It was empty, and just 10 feet from the rope that marked off our sleeping area. I crept over with my pillow and blanket and [bliss] fell into a pretty quick sleep. Aaaaaahhhh! This was obviously what Joseph Campbell was talking about. I was happy.

Until the Mall Cop woke me up and told me I had to go back, "Behind the ropes, Ma'am."

- "Why?"
- "Because they don't like you laying on the furniture."
- "Who's They?"
- "The Mall."

Arguing wasn't going to get me anywhere, so I asked if I could just sit up on the bench. After some thought [!] he told me, "Yes, as long you don't lay down."

I wasn't told how many degrees my body would be allowed to lean before I was officially "laying", but I figured it was better than the floor.

I tried to stay upright, really I did. But I found myself down on my side, asleep, with the Mall Cop nudging me again.

- "Ma'am, you really can't sleep here."
- "What?" [I was still asleep]
- "You'll have to move behind the ropes and sleep on the floor."
- "My back hurts. I had a pinched nerve."
- "I sympathize, ma'am, but you'll have to move."

Sympathize my left eyeball. This 19 year old rent-a-cop had never had so much as a muscle spasm.

So I moved.

I felt so manipulated by the Mall of America, so angry. And yet I was so tired that I could do nothing but nod, pick up my pillow and blanket and head over to yet another bench and try to stay upright. I sat up and tried to stay awake so I wouldn't fall asleep and lean over too far.

I have never felt quite so much like a bag lady in my life. Sleep deprivation is a painful thing.

And I began to fume. What friggin' difference did it make whether I laid on the floor or on a sofa 10 feet away? The MALL were the folks who told me I couldn't leave without breaking my kid's hearts (they REALLY wanted to see this movie) and now The MALL was telling me I had to either stay awake all night or sleep on a floor?

BTW, there was no mention of this floor-sleeping in the "You've won!" mailer we were sent. We sort of figured there'd be cots or air mattresses of some kind. Stupid us.


After about an hour (now it was 1 am) I gave up and tried the floor again. When the pain became so bad that I knew I'd be moaning soon - and not in a good way - I sat up and noticed that someone was sleeping on MY 6' x 6' bench. Damn!

I walked around a bit, went to the bathroom (paper towel free, yippee, so I can't even get a good face-wipe in...) and ran into one of the organizers of the event back by the Rotunda. I asked why I couldn't sleep on a bench, and he comiserated - and pointed out a second upholstered bench which was open. He said, "If the Mall Cop gets you up, tell them Chet said it was okay." Magical Chet. I'm going to try that every time I get in trouble - "Chet said it was okay!"

So back over to the bench, all tucked in with blankie and pillow, when the Muzak started.

Actually, it was probably going all night, but between the Thumpa-thumpa strong bass music from Hooters and Cantina 1 (which closed at 2am, I think... ) and the mini-zamboni floor cleaners that zoomed around and around the pile of sleeping parents and kids all night (backing up, honking their tiny little horns - it was obvious the drivers thought it was hysterical to watch the sleeping parents jump up in awakened confusion), I hadn't noticed the delightful loop of EZ listening heavy-on-the-sax 1980's smooth jazz sountrack.

Now, I like Spyro Gyra as much as the next person (if the next person is having the early bird dinner at Denny's) but it gets REALLY insidious after the 10th song in a row when you're trying to sleep under American Girl Doll Store and Bubba Gump Shrimp banners. Long may they wave.

I think I finally drifted off to sleep at around 4:00am. At a little after 5:00am our hosts woke us up with calestentics (yes, I'm serious) and boxes of very sugary cereal. The least offensive food offering was a banana-nut-crunch flake thing that had more sugar than I eat all day - and I like my sugar!

My kids usually don't have this kind of thing for breakfast - they have cheerios, or a waffle - but why not give them a sugar high at 5 am, right?

Then we had to do yoga. Then we had to do games (One involved wrapping people up like mummies using toilet paper. Can we consume any more resources for no earthly reason, please?) and then we were unleashed to do a "Scavanger Hunt" through the mall. It was really a quiz about stores in the Mall, and the kids were SO disappointed because they were expecting a Scavanger Hunt. Silly them!

While my three charges went off to try to answer the questions, walking v e r y s l o w l y because the sugar high was fading fast, I carried the blankets, sleeping bags and pillows back to the car, which had been parked - as directed - in the West parking ramp. I told them I'd be back in 15 minutes and we'd regroup then.

But when I arrived at the car there was a note on the windshield telling me I was parked illegally, and "my vehicle was scheduled to be towed."

Apparently we were supposed to park in section W4, which wasn't on any of the paperwork we were given. No one else knew this, either, because there were a lot of cars around mine with the same note.

When I mentioned this later to one of the organizers her eyes widened and she said, "They would NEVER have towed you! If you looked at the bottom of the form it said in tiny type you'd be towed if the car was left another night!" Yeah, like I was in any shape to read fine print after a no-sleep night? Or I'd trust ANYTHING on a Mall of America Security form at that point?

The fact that my license plate had been noted on the form kind of scared me into moving my car up to W4, and 40 minutes later when I was back at the Rotunda I couldn't find the kids anywhere.

The organizers had also left the Rotunda, which was being cleaned by a new flock of zambonis, so there was no one to check in with. I later learned after waiting for me for 20 minutes the kids decided to wander around looking for me (they were mildly freaking out, too.)

What a mess.

At around 8:00 I found them, and it was clear by then that we were all starving for some decent food. Unfortunately, there was NOTHING to eat but incredibly expensive popcorn and candy at the concession stand, no coffee shops / food court places were open.

So I made an executive decision to go find food. [The suspect is LEAVING THE MALL, repeat, the suspect is LEAVING THE MALL!]

I left the kids at the movie theater, tucked away with a bunch of other kids and parents, and hurried 1/2 mile down the road to McD's where I got yogurt/fruit parfaits, biscuits, milk and an iced coffee for me. Life was good.

Of course, they searched my bag at the movie theater, but surprisingly they let me keep the food (everyone was carrying in bags of chips and boxes of sugar cereal, there was NO stopping any of us!)

Security was looking for cameras and recording devices. Dumping my bag of knitting out for 2 not-very-nice Mall Cops was the last think I wanted to do, believe me, but at that point I felt as though I was at the Swiss border and would do anything to get into that theater.

The movie was wonderful - we all enjoyed it. Heck, at that point we would have enjoyed a test pattern if it meant sitting in a reasonably comfortable seat with no Muzak.

We were the envy of those around us (we had REAL food) and I felt guilty for not doing another food run for the other folks in our row. After the movie I bought fruit for the kids. And they ate it like it was candy.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Don't believe anything the Mall of America tells you.
  2. Yes, we COULD have left. And should have. We could have checked in, watched the first movie, then gone home and slept in our own beds and returned at 9:00 am for the REAL movie.
  3. Forcing folks to sleep on the floor is just mean. And should be illegal.
  4. A teensy bit of authority can be a dangerous thing.
  5. If you're inviting folks to a preview as a contest prize, wouldn't it be a nice gesture to give them some popcorn instead of making them buy it - I'm just sayin'
  6. I now hate Spyro Gyra.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knit-oku?

I'm getting a little crazy about Scrabble as a thinking tool, I love it and I have a few games going at any given time. [Curse you, Facebook Scrabble, you will be my downfall!]

So instead of knitting up the Minoan skirt, I found myself watching Real Housewives of New York and working up this cross between a knit chart & a Scrabble game...

KNITOKU
The rules? It's like Sudoku. Every row & column should contain one of each symbol.

This should be an easy one - have at it!

©Annie Modesitt 2009

You do NOT need to know what each symbol means to solve the puzzle. I also wouldn't recommend trying to knit it up...

I'll post the answer by Sunday.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to HoTN!

It seems like such a LONG time since I've settled in to work on pieces for History on Two Needles, and I'm absolutely joyful to restart it!

I've done a bit of finishing lately; the Egyptian Set is done, and by finishing the belt for the Chiton yesterday, that's ready to roll, too!

I'm not sure where it's rolling, except with me on my upcoming trip East and to TNNA, but it's ready, that's for sure! If you'll be in one of my classes coming up I'll have these garments ready to show you - I'm taking them all with me!

CHITON
The very simple Front and Back were knit for me by Miriam Tegels over in Holland, and she did a spectacular job - I'm very grateful to her!

The stitch pattern is a simple 3 stitch rib with a slipped st in the center of each rib to create the wonderful, strong (stubborn, even!) pleated feeling in the fabric. You can stretch it, pull it, and it will snap back to the fortuny pleated effect because of the slipped stitch.

The Buffalo Gold Lux #12 (45% bison/ 20% silk/ 20% cashmere/ 15% tencel) is also perfect for this garment - lightweight, luxurious, but with a lot of strength.

To join the Front and Back I also used crochet - chaining 4 sts, slipping a stitch on one piece, chaining 4 sts again and slipping a st on the opposite piece. It was a little tedious, but I'm quite happy with the results of the technique.

By adding a bead at each slipped stitch I was able to bring a little more sparkle, too!

The belt really makes the outfit, I think. I wanted to create a corded girdle of some kind, but everything I tried was too fiddly (icord stitched together, weaving i-cord, etc.)

So instead I crocheted this belt with a strand of wire held together with a strand of the Buffalo Gold #12.

The wire helps strengthen the structure of the belt, the yarn gives it flexibility. I crocheted around the circumference of the belt with a beaded strand of BG #12 for some extra sparkle.

EGYPTIAN SET
This has been a really fun set to work up, the stitch pattern is much easier than it might seem, and it's been a good carry-around project.

A good friend of my daughter's seems tailor made to wear it, I'm hoping I can get some good shots of her wearing it. It just doesn't have the same oomph when it's on a mannequin, but here it is - for better or for worse!

I'm in love with the Elsebeth Lavold Bamboucle (45% cotton, 30% bamboo, 17% linen, 8% nylon) which is a slightly textured yarn with a terrific drape - nice weight - and knits up beautifully.

It does have a tendency to split, but as with any yarn that's a little splity, after a few rows you figure out how to manage it so it's not such a problem.

The skirt and top share the same stitch pattern (except at the pectoral neck detail) Everything is worked on a basis of 10 sts, which should make sizing this simpler.

MINOA-ING ON
I'm starting the Minoan Skirt again. I believe this is the 4th incarnation. I'm keeping expectations low this time... If I have anything to report later you'll be the first to know!

Baseball starts tonight (Max gets his uniform and learns what team he's on - it had BETTER be the Dodgers!) as does Soccer (ditto for Hannah) so Gerry and I will split up with the kids. I'm claiming Max, we can ride our bikes to the rec center while Gerry drives Hannah.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

1,000 Hats!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE hats - hats of all kinds!

As a matter of fact, I worked on Broadway as a milliner (I did all the hats for Angels In America, Millennium Approaches & Perestroika in the 90's - my B'way millinery claim to fame!) and I love a well-made hat.

One of my quieter sellers, but a good book, is Knitted Millinery, which explains how to use hand knitting and millinery techniques to create beautiful, unexpected hats (like the one to the right, from Romantic Hand Knits)

I love a good knit hat.

So when I was approached by Rockport Publishing to compile a collection of 1,000 images of hand knit hats, I was very excited.

What they - WE - are looking for are, literally, 1,000 images of hats that have been knit. We would like to see all kinds of hats, from the simple to the very complex, to publish as a sort of "idea book" of images of hats.

There will be 2 categories for submission:
  • Inspired Hats
    (worked off of existing patterns from any source)

  • Original Designs
    (hats submitted by the designer, eligible for prizes)
Did You Say Prizes?
In the Original category there will be 3 large cash prizes of
$500 - First Prize
$300 - Second Prize
$200 - Third Prize
The 7 runner-ups will receive 4 copies of the book each.

The top 10 Original Designs will also have their patterns published in the book.

Tell Me More!
I've put together a website explaining this in greater detail, and also explaining how to go about submitting images for the book. We've set up a drop-box at box.net, which should streamline things and make the whole process as stress free as possible.

I hope if you've knit up a hat you'll consider submitting! It's a short deadline - I'm sorry about that - but it's good in the sense that it doesn't allow a lot of second guessing. Just send in that hat image and the 2 submission forms (Image List and Grant of Rights to use your image) and we'll take care of the rest!

Yarn Shop / Company / Magazine / Designers
If you happen to own a knit or yarn related business - this could be a great marketing tool! We'll be having different categories of Inspired Hats, if there are enough hats inspired by your yarn, your patterns, or your website/magazine, we'll be creating a category for YOUR business, with contact information.

Please consider publicizing this endeavor to your customers, I'd love to see some exciting knit business inspired categories (maybe even hats from knitters who love X, Y or Z's yarn shop!)

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Big M

Annie is taking off today
to celebrate for Mother's Day.
So an awesome guest-blogger
her 12-year old daughter
will write the featured post (Hooray!)

Well, well, well. Hello. I am your dear guest Hannah. Yes, I did rip that off from A Series Of Unfortunate Events, but that is probably the only line I know that was in both the book and the movie, so I enjoy using it.

Throughout this blog post, you may find odd faces like these: :3, x3, xD, :D because as you know (if you read the first line) I am not Annie (Mom) but an evil little creature named Hannah who is not actually evil nor little, but is taking over her mother's blog post.

Well, dear readers, lets get started.

Since I am a "lazy" person (I like to sleep in late) I made a point of going to bed early last night in hopes that somehow I'd wake up early and be able to see mom go downstairs to find the white tulips and truffles we had bought for her at Just Truffles.

No such luck.

My dad woke me up at 10:08, grinning merrily like the Coca Cola Santa Claus, and told me how mom had, "Loved her gifts, and she and my brother Max were at Lookout Park where they'd biked while I was still asleep."

Which brings us to this picture! (Que the music!)

This picture is of my brother drinking tea from (I think that's the lid) of a thermos and eating.. A truffle!

Side note: I find it funny that a truffles are named after type of mushroom because I detest mushrooms, but love truffles. (They're chocolate, what chocolate eater doesn't like truffles?)

In fact, I am currently biting into some kind of truffle that is not
Chai. I don't know what it is, only that it's not Chai.

Back to me talking. So Max and Mom had an awesome time at the park, eating a truffle and drinking tea. They both get up early and do things like that. I sleep in. Who's the wiser? You be the judge...

Side note: OMG I just realized I'm eating a Baileys truffle or a caramel truffle.
I think, and I am pretty sure, it's caramel. But still, what if it's
Baileys..!?

Back to me. I am very sorry if my side tracking is confusing you. Believe me, it confuses even the greatest of minds.

Anyway, I think I'm done explaining that picture up there with the boy squeezing his eyes closed as he sips tea from the cap of a thermos, or whatever they're called, holding a truffle in his hand and wearing a dark sweatshirt with a bike in the background.

Yeah, that's all the explaining I'll do. I could also explain, though, that that was a run on sentence. So I guess now I'm done explaining.

Ta-Dah! New picture! I know, I just fainted from excitement too.

Anyway, this awesome picture is not of a quiche or some sort of pie, even though it's from the Italian Pie Shoppe. Oh noez, did I just give it away!?

Anyway, I should tell you even if I didn't give it away. That is a pizza (I know, you'd never guess, it looks too... Amazing!) from the Italian Pie Shoppe that got cold so we stuck it in the oven.

I was watching it and told mom when it was time to take it out, and when she came over to look at it she gasped in delight. Okay, maybe I fudged it a bit, but still. It was a darn good lookin' pizza.

I say "was" because after mom took this picture, we scarfed pizza down our, as some books say, "Gobs". Basically we stuffed ourselves.

Now, one of the awesome things about pizza from the Italian Pie Shoppe is that they put bits of sun dried tomato on top of their pizza, and its soooo good x3! Even I, the girl who is picky and who doesn't much care for tomato, loves it!

Side note: This blogs getting kinda long... Sorry if I'm boring you!

And now, for the last picture that I shall describe.

I will first tell you that I did try this on, but cannot find the picture mom took of me wearing it.

Anyway, what this picture depicts is part of a hand knit dress my mom is working on (her friend, Miram, the fastest kniter in the world, knit for her. She lives in Holland, where there are tulips and she brought me licorice. Did she bring you licorice? Noooo!)

She's already pretty much finished, but she's been adding final touches like a new belt which is the green beads you see. The bottom and collar also have green beads. Mom's basing it on some type of Greek/Roman dress, and I don't wanna give too much away so I'd better stop now xD!

Well, since I have some extra room left, I'll ask a few questions:
  1. Did you ladies and gents enjoy my (awesome) blog post?
  2. If I posted again, would you like it?
  3. How are your Mother's Days going?
  4. What type of music do you like?
  5. Are you going to answer these questions :3?
  6. I think my icon faces (x3, :3, xD, :D) look weird, do you?
  7. Did you realize that I actually lied?
    That picture was not my last, this one is!

    It's me in Paris with my friend, Elle.

Well, if you've read through all this stuff, I congratulate you!

Thank you and good bye!

~Hannah Brooklyn Landy~

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Whatever Beth Does...

...I have to do, too!

This is something that Beth (Lorna's Laces) got from Jennie (Jennie The Potter), who got it from Dawn, and so on and so on and so on.

Now that we have that straight, if all goes well every human in cyberdom will be making 5 things for unknown folks and the lines at the post office will reach epic proportions. See, there's an evil plot to this - and yet - I cannot resist...

The first five (cinq) (cinco) (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.


This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

  1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. (No refunds... no exchanges!!!!)
  2. What I create will be just for you, with love from me.
  3. It'll be done this calendar year (2009) and when you get it, you have to let me know it arrived.
  4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. I may even create something totally unbelievable and surprise you!! It will be handmade and may be any medium I choose. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure!
  5. I reserve the right to do something knittish or crochetish or not - it may be just weird! I promise not to send you one of my kids.
  6. In return, you must post this text into a note/post of your own and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to it. If you don't, Beth will sic her large dogs on you, and Atticus will bark at you and lick your face.
  7. Send your mailing address to me at annie at modeknit dot com.
So let's see what comes of this.

Lucky Kid
And the best part of this whole blog giveaway thing? It prompted me to read Jennie The Potter's website (oy, how LONG has it been?) and I found out she's going to have a BABY! In September! A VIRGO!

I sincerely hope she and the Mr. are prepared for a Virgo.


And, since she'll be at Rhinebeck (as will I) perhaps I can be the relief baby sitter out in my old turf? I've been having Baby Lust in a big way, dreaming about another friend's baby which is due in July, anticipating the playing and hugging (but not the midnight wakings...)

I'm SO happy for Jennie! It's hard to think of a person who would be a more caring, creative and stellar mom - this is going to be one lucky baby, that's for sure! And a VIRGO!

Lucky Me
I'm slowly beating down this crud - the antibiotics were definitely needed, as was the prednisone, and I'm glad I'm taking it. I'm trying not to just stand in front of the open refrigerator grabbing anything that looks edible (which P'zone is wont to make me do) and if I feel remotely well enough I at least get on my bike to go down the alley and back. Good for the soul.

Last night my local knitting group was meeting nearby but I was just feeling tired, breathless, and knew I should be home and not out knitting with friends. I was sad. I was feeling so done in I didn't get my monthly newsletter out as I usually do on the last night of the month, and just sat in bed getting some crochet done.

So imagine my surprise when Atticus began barking like a maniac, and a few friends from my group dropped by with baked gifts from Cafe Amore as a consolation prize for not being able to be there.

THANK YOU GUYS! You're so sweet! And so was the cake!

All evening Gerry kept saying, "Those women were so nice - and so tall!"

Have I mentioned we live in Minnesota.

Here's another glimpse at the crocheted baby blanket and hat I'm making. The hat's a little over the top, n'est ce pas?

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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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