Monday, June 29, 2009

Work, Rest, Work, Play

Sorry it's been so long since my last post - obviously I needed some time to rest up after my marathon teaching trip.

I'm rested - sort of - and working hard. I just finished a delightful swing coat for a new book (not mine, I'm just contributing...) and I'm jumping back into History on Two Needles with wild abandon!

There are two projects I'm working on for it concurrently; a fur stole, and a Knight's Dress.

FUR STOLE
Based on an 1896 portrait of the writer and salonist Natalie Clifford by artist Alice Pike Barney, this will probably be one of the simplest pieces in the book. I'm using a cool novelty yarn by Crystal Palace, Splash (85yds /78m 3.5oz /100gr) per skein in 3 colors; Jaguar, Sable and Black.

The construction will be simple - short rows - and all in garter. The trickiest part will be picking up sts to create the base for the faux fox "cravat" which gives the whole piece the shape it requires. Still working that through...

It's a fun and simple knit, though - and today is cool enough that I can work on it without becoming too enmeshed in strands of fake fur.

I'm not the hugest novelty yarn fan, but I do feel that it has it's place, and when it's required there's NOTHING that can take it's place. A bit of fun in knitting isn't bad - but we all know how easy it is to get carried away...

KNIGHT MINI DRESS & HOOD
A simpler silhouette, although a tricker knit, will be a mini dress & hood based on the tomb effigy of the Black Prince - Edward, Prince of Wales (15 June 1330 8 June 1376)

He would have been Edward IV had he not died of a wasting illness (cancer? MS?) The throne passed to his son, who became Richard II. I'm hoping to see the tomb in person while I'm in England in August.

I love the silhouette of the simple jerkin, and REALLY love the shaping shown in the BP's garment. I'm not going to add shaping per se, I want to keep it simple, but I will work the entire back in ribbing which will pull in at the waist and create the look I want.

I also relish the chance for a bit of jacquard work, which is how I intend to create the embossed motifs from the effigy.

The direction I'm moving is to work the front of the piece in parti-color stockinette st sections with rev st st fleurs de lis and leopards/lions. It's going to be a fun knit!

The fiber I'm using for this is Berroco's Pure Merino Chine,
(92yds /84m 1.75oz /50gr) in Bronge and Yelloise.

So now you know why I've been so quiet. Lots of knitting, and the heat really set me back. I'm a cool-weather lover.

AND I received a packet of Great Northern's mink/cashmere (oh my god) yarn which caused a bit of a swoon.

It took me a full day to find the smelling salts. I'll write more about this amazing yarn when I've swatched it up and blocked it (I've been told it blooms like a rose!)

It's so much fun that I feel guilty knitting it up. Oh - just so's you know - NO minks were harmed in the manufacture of this yarn, they were gently combed by 18 sensitive virgins in a darkened room. (I'm joking about the virgins, but the minks were NOT killed to make the yarn)

And now back to my previously scheduled knitting...
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Roosting Horses

I'm feeling confused. My mind is in a swirl - not the fun Dairy Queen kind, either - just a bit of a foggy, fugue-y, waltz.

While I was on the road for a month I ran out of several of my daily meds and happily picked up new prescriptions, but I'm still waiting on the one I've taken for granted: Estratest.


It's the hormone I take since my hysterectomy (estrogen + testosterone) and I'd forgotten how confusing and hard life can be without this tiny green pill. And how hot. Damn these awful hot flashes.

When I first had my radical hysto I didn't take hormones, both because we didn't have insurance, and because I'd been convinced that they'd heighten my chance of heart disease.

It turns out that yes, they do increase a woman's HD chance (from 6 in 10,000 to 12 in 10,000 - I'll deal with that!) and once I was able to get insurance again I happily hopped on the hormone train.


And it was wonderful. A vertitable Orient Express of delight. My hair looked better, my skin was brighter, I stood taller, I didn't have those damn hot flashes and - most important - I felt less confused.
No more standing in the frozen foods section wondering how I got there.

It's been more than 2 weeks since my last estratest (forgive me, father) and I'm feeling so confused that my post-teaching-trip routine of getting 'back on the horse' is harder than usual.

I'll be very happy to have that prescription for estratest back in my hot (& sweaty) little hands and get back with the program.
One very loud chicken that's been cackling night and day (and disturbing the horses) is the 1,000 Fabulous Knit Hats book.


HELP!
I'm compiling hat images for Rockport Publishing's new book, 1,000 Fabulous Knit Hats.

The response to my call for hat images has been very good so far, but the timeframe I was given is SO short that the response has to be MORE than good - it has to be sock-dropping, jaw-slackening, chicken-roosting friggin' AMAZING.

So I'm humbly asking for your help.
The premise of the book is to show images of 1,000 knit (and crocheted) hats. I added that crocheted part, it won't be part of the book title (that's already been registered with the book gods) but I will be accepting hats with a bit - or in some cases, all - crochet work.

The book will only feature 10 patterns from original hats, but it will also have images from 990 OTHER hats (either original or inspired / created off of an existing design) I'm hoping it will feel like looking through a cool gallery of hand knit hats, like a ravelry group, but held in your hot little hands.

I want images of ALL KINDS OF KNIT & CROCHETED HATS, not just originals!

Here are the gory details:
  1. I only want images of hats (NOT real hats!)

  2. Yes, you can send an image of a hat by another designer / yarn company

  3. If I get enough hats related to a specific designer or yarn company, they'll get their own category (more exposure = good, free marketing!)

  4. You can also submit images of ORIGINAL HATS, these are eligible for prizes.

  5. The prizes for ORIGINAL HATS are $500, $300 and $200 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. We've received some amazing entries so far, but I'm sure YOURS would make me swoon. Oh, heck, anything would make me swoon right about now...

  6. The top 10 Original Hats will also receive 4 copies of the book ($100 value - yay!)

  7. If your Original Hat is chosen as one of the top then, THEN I'll ask you for the pattern, which will be tech edited by Rockport Publishing. I'll walk you through it if you've never written a pattern before, it will be a piece of cake. Mmmm, cake...
I took on this job for several reasons;
  • I love hats - LOVE THEM!

  • I thought it was a neat project - I feel that it's good to spend time just looking at other folks' interpretations of other patterns and items, it's good for our knitting souls!

  • I could use the money (well, it's true...)

  • A friend who'd taken on the job was suddenly hit with MEGA exploding commitments, and I seemed like a good person to hand the job over to.

  • Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition. I do that.
I've received about 20% of the hat images I need, and I've been HORRIBLE about communicating to my blog readers how much I need your help.

Folks, if you have an image of a hat you've knit, I want it.

Desperately.

PLEASE!


The submission process is incredibly painless, and the fact you're reading my blog alerts me that you have all the internets savvy you need to upload photos into the convenient drop box we've created.

Here's what you do:
  1. Read all about the book at http://1000fabulousknithats.com

  2. Download & complete the Grant Of Rights [GOR] (it's the legal form we need to be able to use your images)

    Download the GOR as MS Word File
    or - Download the GOR as Adobe Acrobat pdf file


  3. Go to box.net and log in
    username: knit
    password: hats

  4. Create your own folder, name it as follows:
    lastname_firstinitial
    (in my case it would be modesitt_a)

  5. Into that folder upload your images & your complete GOR

  6. If you'd rather mail a disk with your images & GOR, you can do so by sending it to

    1000 Hats
    1043 Grand Ave, Box 373,
    St. Paul, MN 55105

And now for the scary, scary part.

The deadline is supposed to be July 1.

Yes, it's insane. And because I stepped into the middle of the process the whole thing is speedier than it might be.

But I also feel we have a bit of playing time so if you're on the cusp of being able to send something and need a bit more time, I think I'll be able to accommodate you.

Do I sound sufficiently desperate? Foggy and desperate, that's me, baby!
So please, here is my bended-knee portion of the blog, consider submitting to this cool project! If you're a designer, consider getting folks who've knit up your hats to submit (you'll get a category of your own!) and if you're a hat pattern business or a yarn company whose fibers are used for hats, well, YOU do the math!

You'll get a nice spread of hats knit in your yarn / using your patterns along with contact info where folks can go to buy or learn more about your amazing yarn and patterns. Win!

And now I go off in search of hormone replacement therapy and a good fan.

What a lovely Father's Day, huh? Don't worry, we're taking Ger out for a nice beer and a long walk at the dog run. Or is that Atticus. I'm so confused...
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back into the Groove

Jeeze-O-Pete how I love my home!

As may have been mentioned previously somewhere on this blog, I'm a Virgo. I like things tidy, well planned and I love being home.

Home is, to me, heaven.

When I was a kid and had to memorize 2 bible verses every 2 weeks, one stuck out in my mind: the kingdom of god is within you (Luke, I think).

Now, I'm probably best described as a sympathetic, spiritual agnostic, but my own concept of heaven begins inside of me.

For me? My heaven is at least, in part, found in my home.

When I travel to a new place the first thing I do is check into my hotel and "arrange" I carry a big, plastic "Home" box with me with candles, toiletries, teas, snacks, pillow, all of the things that I need to make me feel I'm not in an alien environment. If there's a refrigerator in the hotel room I may stick a beer in there, and then I leave for my teaching gig.

When I finish my teaching for the day I return - home! It makes me feel so much more settled as I teach to be able to visualize my room, my stuff, my beer - all waiting for me to return to my temporary home.

It makes me understand why homeless folks get so attached to any small thing that they have.

Hey - remember when we didn't have homeless (well, not in the droves we do now) back in the 70's? Just sayin' I remember telling a friend in 1980, "The only folks who are homeless in the US want to be homeless." That wasn't true for much longer.

One thing waiting for me at home was a big package of yarn for a project I'm doing. It's a coat for Stitchy McYarnpants new book - I'm not sure how much more I can say (I hate secrets... I'm a total surprise party killer) but it's going to be amazing.

Unfortunately as Max was rolling one of the balls of yarn, and Mommy was being a little less supportive than she should have been, the whole thing got kind of screwed up and we ended up with this mess of Casbah.

Heaven and earth were moved to get me this yarn (read: no more was available), so I was pretty frustrated. And my amazing, wonderful, loving husband sat bedside last night watching a documentary on Patton and rolling the mess into a ball. Is that love?

Last night was pulled-apart parent night again as Gerry took Hannah to her Breakthrough Program and I accompanied Max to his baseball game.

After 2 seasons of straight wins, the Dodgers are feeling the pain of losing so many excellent older kids (they moved on to the bigger leagues) and taking in a lot of really young kids.

They have yet to win a game this Summer, but they played their hearts out last night! Max got a homer (yay!) but has to work on his fielding.

So slowly - S L O W L Y - I'm finding my St. Paul Legs again. Today I see my accupuncturist again, hoping to get back on top of the breathing. The tomato plant and beans are doing well, and I'll ride over to see if I can pick up another Topsy Turvy Planter for my cucumber (which is NOT doing well...)

Best of all will be seeing my old friends again. This Saturday is Knit In Public day, so I'm hoping to join my knitting group at one of the exciting events. Then later I'll knit in private with my friend London as we head over to her place for some barbeque and the running of the poodles. Happy days!

I'm hoping to see some of London's new stuff - she just put a bunch of new yarns up at Etsy (she dyes and spins) and she always has something exciting & lovely to play around with!

Single Payer Option
And one more thing... My family's been SO lucky to have been able to retain insurance for the past 2 years. We thank Gerry's union, IATSE Local #1, for that. But almost 50 Million Americans aren't as lucky, and that number is growing.

The current system only helps one group: The large Health Insurance and HMO lobby.

Why do we NEED these highly paid middle men mucking up our health and telling us what doctors and medicine we can and can't use?

It's widely agreed that Single Payer is the way to go, but that option is not even ON THE TABLE because of the strength of the health insurance lobby.

If we don't stand up for ourselves, the corporate insurance giants will make sure that Single Payer isn't even open for discussion.

Make sure YOUR representatives in congress know where you stand - and that your voice is as loud as the rustling of cash and checks from lobbyists.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hugs & Chugs

WHAT a long month this has been.

Tomorrow would be 4 weeks from when I left on May 20 for my teaching extravaganza, culminating with the TNNA Convention in Columbus, OH.

It was VERY hard to be away - yes, indeed - but it was a good trip for many reasons.

#1 - Money
Yes, this is my job, and earning 5 months of mortgage by working for 4 weeks is a decent trade off. Our mortgage is very low, by the way...

#2 - Inspiration
I find so much to excite me and make me think when I'm on the road - plus I just crave the "white line meditation" time that driving gives me.

With a good amount of non-expectant thinking time, good thoughts, intricate plans, seem to sift up to the top of my head where I'm able to pluck them when I need them.

Thinking time is precious, I'm lucky I can get mine in a car.

#3 - Visibility
This sort of goes with #1, but when folks know I'm out there teaching, my book and pattern sales do better and folks want to take more classes. When I go through months of not teaching I feel rusty, and scared to get 'back on the horse' - but after these 4 weeks of interacting with all types of students, shop owners and fiberistas I'm feeling in good form.

Breathing aside, it was a perfect trip. Oh, and that incident of getting a speeding ticket a mere 35 miles away from home. Damn.

I'd obviously jinxed myself when I bragged to Cecil at Buffalo Gold that I'd gone 4,000 miles without a ticket.

I don't speed much, I'm a cruise control gal, but I was SO eager to get home last night I slacked off and now I will pay. Damn. Teaches me a lesson, that's for sure!

Waking up in my own bed - heavenly! This morning Max and I rode our bikes over to Lookout Park, then met Hannah and Gerry for Breakfast at the Louisiana Cafe.

We arrived first so we played a new game, "That's not Hannah..." snapping surreptitious photos of folks at the door who were NOT Hannah.

Afterward G & H went to the library, Max and I rode home, but I was smacked by a car (young driver, she didn't see me) and fell. Boom.

I'm absolutely fine! Minorly scraped leg and arm, that's all. A little jittery, but fine.

Max was scared, but handled it well.

Most shaken up was the driver, and all in all I think it was a pretty good, inexpensive lesson for her.

She gets the fear of god put into her, and no one was hurt badly - we all need an accident like that when we're young drivers. I hugged her, she cried, we both felt better.

I will definitely need a new basket on my bike, though.

But it's nothing that a little Jeni's ice cream - brought home in dry ice - won't cure...

Hmmm, could it be THAT was why I was speeding last night?


TNNA REDUX
As I drove away from Columbus, Jeni's ice cream firmly wedged in the back seat and happy memories of hugging everyone and their cousin dancing in my mind, I realized that I'd left out mentioning some of my favorite things from the show in my post yesterday.

Here are some amazing things from TNNA that I was too tired / frazzled / burned out to mention in my post yesterday.

Abundant Yarns Dyeworks
One of my favorite yarn shops in Portland went all TNNA-boothy this time and had some BEAUTIFUL stuff to show off! Between them and Knit Purl with their ShiBui yarns in the same town I have a very hard time choosing. So I won't.

Miriam Felton (Mim Knits)
I hadn't had a chance to see a lot of Miriam's patterns and shawls up close and personal - they're LOVELY! I absolutely fell in love with this red one - stunning. The girl designs and knits as well as she cooks, baby.

Kitchen Sink Dyeworks
Mercedes has more cool, neat-o ness and Moxie than one girl should be able to hold, and I am STOKED to use her new yarn. I've been a huge KIVA micro loan supporter for years, and was so thrilled to see her choosing them as a recipient of a portion of proceeds from her new yarn. Mercedes has excellent taste and color sense - I want to see EVERYTHING she does - now!

And, more to the point, she had the foresight to provide keychain / beer bottle openers with each skein of yarn. The woman reads minds...

Malabrigo Sock Weight Yarn
I'd heard about it, but hadn't played with it yet - but the Malabrigo sock yarn is stunning, lucious and very well dyed (of course!) I'm looking forward to using a nice amount of it in a design for History on Two Needles (a sort of tank/wrap based on a South American sculpture) and cannot wait to get it in my hot little hands!

Glow In The Dark Yarn
When I travel I bring things home for the kids; T-shirts, pins, just silly stuff. What was the thing Max was most excited about in my bag last night? This Nightlights Glow In The Dark yarn from Woolstock Yarn Shop in Maryland.

I hadn't seen it before, I'm giddily excited to play with it, and Max has made me promise to make him a mask. Fair enough! It's supposed to be machine washable - I'll report on how it does. This is going to get a LOT of attention in our house!

Mango Moon Elements & Zing String
One of the happiest yarns I've played with recently was Mango Moon's Dharma, and when I stopped by their booth what did I see but a really cool beaded hold-along string that I may be able to use for further projects. It's not as bling-y as what Tilli Tomas, Artyarns or Trendsetter is doing, it's chunkier and more low-glitz, but it fills a niche that's open right now (and works beautifully with their existing yarns.)

Nicky Epstein
I love Nicky. Is there anyone I love as much? Hard to say. Just getting to spend 20 minutes with her for coffee and a short walk made my weekend. And she gave me a scarf. Nicky loves me, too!

Pam Allen
Okay, I may just love Pam as much as I love Nicky. Oy. So many fabulous friends, so many choices! I never get enough time to spend with Pam. One of these days we're going to have to do a trip together so we can get good and sick of each other.

Pam's doing stellar things at Classic Elite, I have to get my hands on the Chesapeak yarn - it looks amazing!

I love how CE's working with Jared (one of my favorites) and Veronik Avery (an ALL TIME favorite designer of mine!) and it was thrilling to get to see them all in one place.

Veronik's Yarn, St. Denis Nordique, is a beautiful, lovely-feeling workhorse of a yarn that I MUST find some great place

Mission Falls 136
This is what everyone's been waiting for - a lovely Mission Falls yarn that is machine washable! I KNOW I will have some place for this in my future!

I know I'll get more notes to myself in the near future - I'll do continuous updates of TNNA stuff that I've thus missed. Oy.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Columbus Sunup to Sundown

TNNA is tiring, damn it!

There's so much yarn, so many folks, so much to see and SO MUCH WALKING!

Shannon (once again my roommate for TNNA) and I felt as if we got up with the sun and crashed with the moon.

She was a more avid partier and socializer than I

I spent a good deal of time sitting on my bed at the Drury Inn, knitting up swatches and getting some rest & work done.


It was a good decision on both our parts - she deserved some fun and I needed some down time in one place!

My breathing's much better than it was, but it's still not great. The weather here's been lovely - on the cool side, not too hot and humid, but still heavier than I'm used to back home. It's odd, because this USED to be home - Ohio - which can be quite humid. I know folks in MN talk about the humidity there, but it's NOTHING compared to the Ohio Valley Humidity.

(BTW, yes I do have a portable nebulizer, which I was too thick-headed to remember to bring with me. D'oh!)

But this week it's not bad at all - quite lovely! But walking is still difficult. I wear out very easily - I think my lungs are working triple time.

So my strategy has been to ride my bike over to the convention center from the hotel rather than walk.

It's not a long walk (and a very short ride) but the bike is easier because I can pedal, then coast when I'm tired to get my breathing back on track.

And - most important - riding the bike makes me feel good.

And there's that convenient Jeni's Ice Cream holding basket...

STITCH COOP
My main reason for being here, The Stitch Coop, is entering it's second year. Our first show together was last June.

As we held our breakfast meeting today there was definitely a feeling that we're on the right track, we're moving toward a direction that may change the way yarn shops think about purchasing independent designer patterns for their shop.

Our Affiliate Program - Shannon's brain child - is quite simply, brilliant. A shop or venue can add a link to one of our patterns in their email newsletter or website. When a customer clicks on that link to purchase the pattern, 20% goes to the yarn shop, 30% to the coop and 50% to the designer.

The shop owner can close the deal by giving the online customer a bit of a discount if they come in with the pattern to buy the yarn, thereby bringing the online customers into the brick and mortar fold.

The shop makes $$, the designer is compensated fairly, and the pattern does what a pattern's supposed to do - sell yarn.

The Affiliate Program goes live on September 1 - it's free, but it can earn shops some nice money and can bring in some new customers! Access to over 125 patterns with no investment - it seems like a no brainer!

The shops we talked to were very interested, too - all of us are very excited about the whole thing!

Kristi Porter was so excited she wouldn't take off the new (unfinished) mockup for the Sutton Hoo mask. I think it becomes her...

Here's Sarah from my class in Toronto at Naked Sheep wearing a knit millinery cloche worked in the same lovely Hand Maiden Casbah that the mask is in. I adore this yarn!

Odd to see both pieces together. Sarah looks less scary.


OTHER REFLECTIONS
My memories of the show are blurred - I'll be driving back to MN tomorrow and I obviously need rest - so I apologize for the fuzzyness of the following TNNA Show Thoughts.

Aside from Stitch Coop business, my main reason for being here was to forage some new relationships for some new books, acquire some yarns for History on Two Needles and see what is new on the horizon.

It was gratifying to sense the good, hopeful buzz in the hall - it seemed that attendance wasn't at the heights it had been in the past, but folks were here to BUY. Most vendors I talked to felt they had a good show, which was excellent to hear.

The non-business related highlight of the day today was Cat Bordhi bringing a small lump of dry ice so we could make fog in our booth. Watching Ysolde Teague bending over the $20 garbage can, dipping her small woolen mouse into the smokey brew was surreal. Scots.

We had 13 women at one point, plus Casey from Ravelry. We called ourselves a Coven Plus Casey and we're working on a pilot for a sitcom.

The most exciting thing for me at the show, yarnwise, were Buffalo Gold's new colors dyed by Lorna's Laces - they're spectacular, rich and beautiful.

I also loved many of Trendsetter's new yarns (even though I couldn't get snips of them from the great wall of yarn - all gone by the time I arrived!) and Malabrigo's new sock weight superwash was AMAZING!

Tilli Tomas has some new yarns that I definitely want to use in History on Two Needles, and I'm salivating to try my hand at Classic Elite's Chesapeak.

Artyarns has new beaded silk and stranded glitz, and although I'm not usually a metallics lover these are done beautifully and I'm desperate to get my hands on some for the Sutton Hoo mask. I'll dream on.

Overall the weekend's been a blur - a good, lively, bicycle laced beautiful blur - and when I leave town tomorrow it will be with happy TNNA memories and lots of Jeni's ice cream in a cooler for the folks at home...

How I miss them.

A nice late Father's Day Gift, that Jeni's ice cream.

Now to choose the flavors...
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

T minus 6 days...

I'm less than a week away from home, and I'm counting the hours.

Last night I talked to Gerry, Max and Hannah on the phone. I miss them, they miss me, we all miss each other. Gerry said they've been listening to the audio book of Knit With Courage in the car because they miss me so much, and apparently Atticus became confused and thought I was in the car. Poor Atticus.

We wouldn't miss each other if we didn't love each other, I guess... But it will be damned good to see them all again.

The classes today at Naked Sheep were wonderful! I can't wait to go back tomorrow for my second Combination Knitting class!

The Naked Sheep is a great shop with an excellent stock of yarns. I didn't see anything there that I wouldn't want to take home. And they had a delicious selection of Casbah - one of my favorites!

The Beaches neighborhood in Toronto is a delight, Lisa at The Naked Sheep was so kind, and the students were EXCEPTIONAL. They worked hard, they concentrated, and they made me very proud.

Thanks, dear ladies.
And all this without a bell...

Aside from the teaching, the best part of the day today was parking 3 blocks from the shop and riding my bike to the shop.

Allow me repeat: I rode my bike.

Then I rode up the street and dropped off my laundry,
Then I rode down the street and had a wonderful cup of tea at Second Cup,
Later I rode back to the laundry to pick up - wait for it - clean underwear.

A day doesn't get much better than that!

Riding my bike, obeying traffic signs (I learned THAT in Minnesota) and wearing my helmet.

I felt like a Toe-ron-TONE-ian, baby. And I did it in a skirt. Touch me.

The prednisone is obviously working, I'm doing much better with the breathing (although I sound pretty bad tonight - sleep will be good) and being on my bike made me feel vital and human again - not a recluse.

But I'm not in great shape, breathing continues to suck and my first action upon returning home will be a visit to an allergist to see what I can do to get this under control. It just seems that every time I leave home I end up with a breathing dilemma. Good heavens how I want to be home.

This evening before the second class I looked up to see a familiar face - but one I wasn't expecting. Do you ever see someone who is totally out of place, and you know you know them, but you can get your mind to put 2 + 2 together?

One of my dear friends, Ellen, from my MN knitting group had come by the shop to say, "Hi!" to me, and - wait for it - I burst into tears.

I cried like a little girlie girl.

I couldn't believe how emotional I felt, how I was suddenly so overcome with the sense that I just wanted to jump in the PT Cruiser and cruise on home.

The feeling passed, Ellen went off to have dinner with another friend, it was so wonderful to see her and it seemed so unreal.

Even with the breathing angst, and the tooth, this has been a great trip.

(Did I mention the tooth? Crown fell off an old root canal when I ate a brownie. It's not visible and it doesn't hurt, but I can FEEL it with every word I say)

Seriously, a really terrific trip. It would have been a lot more fun with Atticus along, though.

When I was a little girl whenever I saw a white horse I would make a wish.

I've seen many on this trip and they make me feel lucky - as if everything is going my way.

Driving up from Squam I passed 3 beautiful white horses in one paddock. Lucky me!

Then the next day I saw a white donkey (?) Is that lucky, too?

I'm going with "yes."
I may be sad to be away from home, I may be breathing badly, but I'm so damned lucky to have a home like St. Paul to want to return to, with Ger and the kids waiting, and the dog and cats. And friends.

And I'm especially lucky to have interesting work, wonderful students, great shops and venues that hire me.

Yes, I guess a white donkey IS lucky.

What will I see tomorrow after my class as I drive to London, ON (the nearest Motel 6 on the way) to spend the night...?
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Missing the Guy

I'm missing Gerry something awful on this trip. Do I call? No, not as much as I should.

I called yesterday just as he was leaving MN Oncology for his monthly drip and I was pulling into the customs lane to re-enter the US for my doc's visit. (Sorry, Ma'am, you cannot be on the cell phone while in this lane...)

But I miss Gerry. He's so funny, so calm and loving and just wonderful. I miss seeing him, I miss kicking him in my sleep and I even miss the snoring. He would certain have enjoyed seeing this huge Canadian beehive going by (the bees must be HUGE up here...)

Well, starting Friday night I'll have that again (hey Shan!) but no kicking. Dang. (well, she'll probably kick ME when she reads this...)

This trip has encouraged me to do many things with the kids I'd been hesitant about (well, I guess I had a reason) and now feel we can do as a family.

I was so homesick last night I got misty when the waitress put Land O Lakes butter in front of me. That's iced tea, BTW.

Camping is big among the things I'd like our family to do.

I've never camped, neither has Gerry, but we're not delicate sorts (except for the cancer and asthma... and sciatica... and crushed vertebrae... and knee and shoulder problems... and allergies...) I know there are places like Rockywold/Deephaven camps in MN, and it's high time I looked them up and WENT there with the family. Any suggestions?

I'm in Alexandria Bay, NY, at the Rockledge Motel ($55 rooms with wifi, fridge, microwave & cable - lovely!)

I'm in a spectacularly beautiful area, and I keep thinking how much Gerry and the kids would love this.

I came for the River Hospital Clinic (thanks doc Cindy!) to get my breathing going again, and stayed for the beauty. And the inexpensive hotel room.

Across the street there's Keewayden State Park where folks can camp in tents. We could do that. We don't really know HOW (meaning, we haven't experienced the learning curve, which I'm sure isn't terribly daunting) but it's something we SHOULD do while the kids are still young enough to be our 'cubs'

Trips can be hard - this one, breathing aside, has been wonderful. Missing the family is bad, but discovering things I want to do with them when I'm home is a good trade off.

This trip is a long one, though (I spent a good part of last night rearranging my luggage.)

REFLECTIONS
One thing which isn't fun & doesn't feel good when it happens, but is necessary for growth, is facing things I do wrong as a teacher. And there are MANY! The fact that I think I'm good at what I do in no way means I think there aren't hundreds - thousands - of things I could be doing better.

I ponder what I've done so far in classes that could have been better. I do take mental notes and later, after class, try to rethink scenarios and what I may have done differently. Really. Sometimes too much.

I strive for a nice mixture of off-the-cuff, casual humor, lighting on different things folks have done in the class, interspersed with definite must-teach-this-certain-point moments in the class.

I shush folks, which is a mixed blessing. It makes it easier for others to hear in the class, and keeps me on track. But I know shushing doesn't feel good when it happens to you.

I have learned that the more tired I am, or the worse my breathing is, the more I tend to shush. This makes sense, but doesn't make it easier.

I try to do it with fun, with love, "Ladies... ladies... Dear ladies..." but, as I said, it's not always fun to hear.

Well, I know my kids don't always like to hear me shushing (or mom-ing) them, yet I do. And I don't see myself as mom to my students, not entirely, but I do just a little bit.

So time alone on the road is good for soul-searching, for meditation, for thinking and trying to improve. Squam gave me a lot of food for that - much of the growth happens after the fact, but it's nice t know that doors are left open so that growth can be experienced by all parties again at a later date. Here's the mountain top I visited - proof! Of course, I took a tram...

Geeze, Louise - did I take a profound pill today? See what a good night's rest will do to me?

I took my old standby, Alka Seltzer Night Time Cold, which allows me to breathe and sleep (quite a parlor trick) and now I'm headed off to Toronto for a few days at Naked Sheep! Yay!

If you're in the Toronto area and would like to take a class with me, I think there are some spots open.

I'm teaching the Universal Mitered Bag tomorrow afternoon, Combo knitting tomorrow night and Thurs afternoon. Check out the classes and sign up - I'd love to see you (and NOT shush you - I hope!)
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posted by Annie at 18 Comments Links to this post

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Getting There & Breathing Better

For those who've been worried (I guess I list myself among that group) my breathing is better.

I had a few days to kill before Toronto, so I drove up to Montreal as I'd planned on sight seeing. I was so exhausted on the road that I pulled into a Holiday Inn Express, where - inexplicably- there was a palm tree out my window. Seriously.

The HIE was great (laundry = win!) but after a bad night of sleeping due to even worse breathing, I figured the best thing was to get myself & my sorry lungs to a hospital or clinic for some doctoring. Yeah, yeah, I know - you all told me. I should listen to you more often and sooner...

I looked up hospitals and found one right across the border back in the US. For insurance reasons I figured it would be much easier to visit a US doc than deal with out-of-country treatment paperwork. I'm sure the Canadian docs would have been stellar, but I feared the complications because I'm not a citizen.

So this morning I drove to the clinic at the River Hospital in the 1,000 Islands area of New York, where I was treated with such care and respect - even love - that I felt immediately better.

A nebulizer treatment, a prescription for a course of prednisone and a thumbs-up on my theory that this whole thing started when I French kissed a pine tree in Pound Ridge (damn you, pollen storm!) and I'm on my way again.

On the way to Squam, to make my pollen tour complete, I decided to visit my friend and famous gardener, Margaret Roach, and took a S l o w stroll through her grounds (she lives in the Taconic State Park) so I could catch any other pollen that was yet missing from my lungs.

I know how to live. Here are some shots from her amazing home!

I'm breathing much better, I'm much calmer, happier and I'm finally without the pounding, wrenching headache that had been my close companion for a few days.

It was so bad on Saturday night that I had to flee from the Arts Fair at Squam and just sit in an air conditioned car for 30 minutes (the pollen filtering powers of the PT cruiser are wonderous.)

The doctor told me she thought the headache was due to lack of oxygen, although my blood pressure was pretty high (for me) I've been having nicely low BP since I've been riding my bike so much, but no bike riding for the past week and LOTS of struggles breathing = elevated BP. It went down dramatically just by sitting for a bit after having the nebulizer treatment.

The nurse at the clinic was kind enough to do the legwork with my insurance to see if they'd cover a super-small portable nebulizer I can take in the car (they will) and I'm off to pick that up along with my scrips.

Squam Arts Workshop was amazing - just wonderful. A participant said her word to describe it is "Satisfied" - but not in the negative, "only satisfactory..." way. Rather, as she sat on the porch during the pot luck on Saturday, she said she was completely satisfied with everything at that moment - and I had to agree with her.

That evening, as a going away gift, the moon came out full and round and beautiful over the lake - just amazing. It was fun to lay in bed and hear folks exclaim over the lovliness.

I have a bunch more images of my time at Squam up at my flickr page - please visit it to see them!

To celebrate the successful finish of my 6 classes at Squam - all of them full of hard working, fun, exhillerating students, Sunday morning when I left I drove up to Canon Mountain, NH and rode the tram to the top.

I walked around a bit - as much as my lungs would allow in the 4,081 ft altitude, sitting a lot and spending a long time enjoying the view. It was worth it.

Then back in the car.

My goal was Montreal, but I hadn't made any hotel reservations because I wanted to leave things open. It's a good thing I did. As I got sleepier and sleepier due to the afternoon sun and my bad breathing, I decided the prudent thing was to pull off. You know the rest of the story...

So now I'm in 1000 Island Land - and given that I don't need to be in Toronto until Tuesday evening (I have my hotel reservation all set) I'll just hang around here tonight. I'm off to look for a nice, interesting, cheap hotel. Wifi would be nice, but - added bonus of River Hospital - I can sit outside and watch the boats going by on the river (?) and use their wifi.

I figure I'm allowed - I'm a patient. Sort of. Was.
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posted by Annie at 7 Comments Links to this post

Friday, June 05, 2009

Squam is da Bomb
(Sorry about that, I couldn't resist...)

It's lovely here. Just absolutely, beautifully, LOVELY!

The light is stunning. It makes everything look clear and bright, it's like the light back home in MN. I wonder if it's a function of the latitude?

The food is very good - light years better than anything I ever had at camp - and many of us find ourselves going for seconds (and thirds!)

I've been laying low in the dining hall, breathing is hard and talking is harder, so I've either been eating alone or with folks I don't have to chat with much (folks who know me, who I don't have to impress...)

I've been booked into 2 classes a day for the 3 days of the workshops, and the students are everything I could hope for.

They're curious, hard working, very engaged and VERY fun! And - something I hadn't really thought about - they're very caring and quite generous with their concern.

I've been having a pretty bad time breathing since NJ. I think it was the pollen which I'd grown used to not dealing with - not that there's not pollen in MN, but pollen is different in different places.

My breathing kept getting worse and worse until I was having a hard time just getting up the stairs here, let alone carrying my bags around to the class building, etc. I brought my bike, but there's NO way I could ride around this gorgeous area.

So I figured I'd just get through it - push through - but my lungs were having NONE of that.

And so in each class I've been sitting more than I'd like, not moving as much as I usually do, and breathing like a racehorse after the derby. VERY enjoyable for the students, I'm sure.

Last night I felt SO out of it that I avoided talking to anyone after dinner (speech = bad) and just came up to my room to sleep. I looked up the local hospital (in Plymouth) just in case I had to drive for a nebulizer treatment, and slept.

And slept. And slept. I slept almost 12 hours last night. I was exhausted from trying to live, teach, move on partial oxygen.

This morning my roommate - the lovely, kind and talented Sally Melville - offered me some allergy medicine. "Oh, it's not allergies, it's asthma..." But I took the good stuff - the Canadian stuff - and within a few hours my nose wasn't runny, my breathing was pretty good, and I sounded much better in my classes.

I'm sure my students still think I sounded terrible, but the reduced wheezing was music to my ears!

Tomorrow are my last classes, then I leave here on Sunday to head off to Toronto. I'm not sure if I should go via NY State or through Montreal and above the lake. I'm stoked about either way - but perhaps NY would be a safer bet if I have to stop at a doc's on the way, insurance being what it is and not wanting to cause an international incident.

As I drove up here I stopped at an old friend's house - she is a master (mistress?) gardner and lives IN the Taconic State Park. Amazing.

Her home is a dream, and her garden is more of the same. Here are some shots of her lovely abode - the furry things are weasel tails.

Apparently her cat leaves these as an offering many mornings. Nothing left but the tail.
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posted by Annie at 4 Comments Links to this post

Monday, June 01, 2009

Saratoga Here I Come!

I love visiting Saratoga Springs, NY - and I'll be there TOMORROW (Tues, 6/2) at Saratoga Needle Arts from 4-6 signing books (mine, or anyone elses...) and just chatting with folks.

Come on by and you MAY even snag one of the elusive, out-of-print Twist & Loop Knitting & Crocheting with Wire books. Maybe. Ha!

My trip's been mosying along, but I feel like I'm rushing! I'm not - I just feel like it. The strain of not doing anything must be wearing me down...

I'm taking this morning to answer emails, blog, write my newsletter and get some advertising stuff finished.

Getting work done feels good.

This evening I'll be going to a concert at my kid's old school, Seth Boyden (yay!) and I'll see my friend's son play piano & guitar (not at the same time) for his parts of the Variety Show shindig.

I'll also get to see my friend play Clarinet with her son. They're both very good.

I've been taking photos as I wander along, sometimes stopping in folks' yards, sometimes just sitting in the car, but trying to capture the feeling of my surroundings.

Being on the road for such an extended period is odd, but I think I'm finally into the rhythm of it. Beer helps. Not while I'm driving.
Here are irises and a friendly doggie in Cleveland (Shannon Okey's dog!)

A stone house in Pound Ridge, NY and lots of pollen on my car in the same town (I was visiting friends and their pine trees evidently tried to pollenate my PT Cruiser. That's illegal in 4 states.)

Last evening I got together with my old knitting group and it was SO great to see them! I love my MN friends, but I miss my NJ friends a great deal. Can't we all just meet in Indiana?

And, of course, what photo essay wouldn't be complete without the obligatory shot of the road to the George Washingto Bridge. Ahh, it's quite lovely in the Spring...

I got up this morning and surprised myself by getting on my bike for a 2 mile ride (lots of hills here...) then made the whole adventure null and void with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts (I miss them - harder to find in MN)

Tomorrow I'll leave early, and if all goes well I'll see a friend for lunch before the signing. Yay, friends!

And then - on to SQUAM!
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posted by Annie at 7 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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