Monday, November 29, 2004

The Good, The Bad...

I received the kindest email yesterday from a person who'd bought my book and squirreled it away. She finally got around to reading it recently and felt empowered and supported by my main theme - there is NO wrong way to knit. Thank you so much, JF, your email has made my year!

I also got an email from someone who believes that I'm a terrible person - for various reasons, none of which happen to be true. Nothing I do will change her attitude - and it's freeing to understand that it's not in my power to affect a change.

It's never fun discovering that you're on someone's sh*t list, but at least it makes it more understandable when that person can only find fault with you. I have a dog, and a big backyard, and my truism for the day is - If you look for crap, you'll find it.

Folks, an open mind is it's own reward. Stay open to new developments - especially that uncomfortable moment when you may learn that you were wrong about something. I try to be wrong about at least 7 things every day. Some days it's easier than others.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

What a Lovely Break!

I had such a lovely Thanksgiving! Our friends Andrea and John came by, their two kids - Ian and Erin - are Hannah and Maxie's best friends, and a swell time was had by all It's so much easier to have the dinner and share the food cooking, etc. Andrea is such a great cook - her asparagus was lovely and her pie was AMAZING! The turkey came out nicely, too (thanks, Ann, for the suggestions)

It's been a very lazy weekend - well, lazy in some ways (lots of sleeping) and not lazy in others (lots of crocheting) and positively foot dragging in others (I have design deadlines to consider...)

My Creative Knitting arrived - I can't really say much, but here're a few things that I submitted to them this time around...

One wonderful part of the weekend was the visit of my old college friend - just a wonderful chance to catch up a bit, play with her pretty baby and meet her very nice husband. I was gratified - and so proud - to see Ellyn wearing a sweater that I knit for her over 20 years ago. Looking at it, I realized that I was, indeed, knitting in the Eastern Crossed method when working in the round. I tell my students all the time about my mistakes, and how long it took me to learn stuff that I'm passing on to them. Quite often I think they don't believe me, this sweater is proof that I had no idea how to 'read my stitches' when I first started knitting in the round! Yet it looked okay - every stitch was twisted - but perhaps that's why it lasted so long...

We got out for a walk, I showed off my neighborhood and we put the baby to sleep (albeit briefly!) What a lovely family El has - so great to see her so happy and healthy - I really look forward to resuming our friendship!

Gerry and I bought the Harry Potter movie, of course. What a blast - how cool to be able to share a passion for the JK Rowling books and films with our kids! While we were watching the movie Hannah mentioned that Ron's hat was kind of cool, so I was inspired to crochet up a hat for her in Art Yarns' Ultra Merino. (I changed the crown, colors, etc., drastically. I think it's based on a traditional Peruvian, Tibetan or Chinese hat shape, but I don't know what the name of it is. If anyone knows, please fill me in!)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Turkey Countdown

We usually don't have folks over for T-Day, so it's exciting to me to plan a meal that we'll share! I woke up dreaming of 55 things to do with noodles (maybe I shouldn't admit to that on the internet...) and wondering how cooking a 'fresh' turkey will differ from the usual frozen bowling-ball-masquerading-as-fowl object that I roast. I choose the cheesecloth drenched in butter and draped over the bird method of roasting, it's given me the best results to date.

An odd thing happened this weekend - I was watching a TV show, a do-it-yourself show, and low and behold the featured home owner was my best friend from college! In the way of college friends, we lost touch and haven't really communicated in almost 20 years (am I that old?) so I looked up her current address based on the show's website info, sent her off a letter and a book and hope to hear from her soon! This, on top of hearing from another good friend from collge with whom I'd lost touch this past Spring (she's coming out this weekend for a reunion, to meet my family and introduce me to her husband and new baby)

How odd that these two women would fall back into my life now - I told my husband, generally when I was in school if I wasn't hanging around with one of them, I was hanging around with the other (two friends, but from separate sphere's of our college world) I'm looking forward to being back in touch!

The book sales have been doing amazingly well over the past few weeks - I think it's the ads I placed (ch-ching!) in knitting mags, but they seem to be paying off. I guess it does pay to advertise. I had figured by this time the sales would have dropped off, but they're still as strong as they were in June. Wonderful!

I'm going to send a bunch of the books to this organization. Perhaps there are some knitting soldiers who'd like to brush up their technique..? I just heard on the radio that just about ANY book is welcomed, and I have a lot of the perfect bound books that should be doing SOMEONE some good. I also heard that many of the female soldiers need personal hygiene products as well as personal stuff like bras, panties, and things that they can't really get over in Iraq. Bake sales for bras.

As much as I hate the war in Iraq, I do support the troops and admire them for their courage and their willingness to sacrifice for ME and my family. Steal the button to the left if you'd like to help me create a knitters blog groundswell of book and bra shipments!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Okay, enough is enough...

Sorry about the week hiatus. I needed some time to just veg and not write about it. I think I'm experiencing exhaustion overload from the past few months, plus facing the holidays for the first time without mom is daunting.

We're having some good friends over for Thanksgiving, their two kids are best friends with Hannah and Max, so a great time is sure to be had by all! I just shopped for food - butternut squash (for pie), brussels sprouts, yams, apples (to go on top of the yams, fried, and in pie) and piecrust. So how did it come to $75? Andrea will be bringing yet another pie and some veggie dish, we're thinking of having an open house on Friday afternoon/evening to eat the leftover pie!

The calendar submissions are pouring in, and it's so gratifying to see the skill and breadth of talent of the submitting crocheters! Please pass this link along to any crocheting friends who you think may be interested in contributing!

I'm also getting some lovely, touching stories for the other book I'm putting together - you can read about it here

The crocheting is taking a bite out of my knitting time, but I'm still managing to get some good knittin' in. We have a mouse, by the way, and I'm pretty upset at the cat (after all of the 'gifts' he leaves at our front door you'd think he could get this one, little mouse!) Hannah, of course, wants to catch it and raise it as her own.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Funk

There's no getting around it - I'm blue. Ever since the week before the KR Retreat I've just been so low energy and in a sort of funk. I'm glad the weather's been lovely - it's a nice break and it does raise the spirits, but I just feel very low.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Call for Submissions

Yes, more, MORE - I WANT MORE!! Mwahahahahahahahaha!

Okay, I'm back. I'm working on another book (this is in addition to the crochet calendar) which will be a collection of essays by knitters, crocheters and other yarn artists whose world has been strongly affected by their craft.

I get a lot of lovely emails, many are incredibly touching. To be honest, whenever I begin to bemoan my lack of comments, I remember that I get dozens of emails a day (questions, suggestions and - well - fan mail!)

But I digress - back to the topic. I get a lot of emails, and I am moved by the myriad ways our small fiber world has enhanced our larger 'real' world. I thought it might be interesting to compile a book of these musings, essays, poems or other written pieces that examine this phenomenon on a person to person basis.

If you'd care to submit to this budding volume, please email me with your ideas - or with your actual submission! Please send the text right in the BODY of the email (not as an attachment).

I have a page with more information. Please check it out - and tell your friends! Steal the Cheaper button for your own blog, if you care to!

Friday, November 12, 2004

My other America is a Democracy...

Something new. I've devised a way to deal with my feelings and share the haunting sense that more folks agree with me than the opposite. Here is another way, a map I created, my own artistic interpretation of the election results. Yes, I realize that this is map number 1,234,456 created by bloggers in the past week. Why should I be any different?

As much as the media would like us to believe that we are a polarized nation, I don't agree. I find that my friends of all political persuasions, no matter WHAT their political stripe, agree with me on the major issues: We have to care for the world and the people in it. We have to work to make the world better. How we get there is the difference.

What frightens me is that I've come to believe that both of those goals are not high on the agenda of our current administration. Not even on the first page.

It's rainy here and will be all weekend. I watched ER last night (which I should never, NEVER do) and cried like a fish on Friday. Gasping, heaving, choking sobs. Thank heaven the kids and Gerry were asleep - the only folks I alarmed were the cats and the dog (who, I must say, was concerned.) Yet another blind-sided crash of mourning pops up, and I'm glad I was alone. Me, the pets and Ray Liotta.

I've spent a good part of the day working up crochet instructions, contacting designers (keep 'em coming!) and working up some stuff myself. I've been working on a ribbing that's kind of cool that I'm going to add to the end of a pair of gloves as a kind of gauntlet. Quite chic. I'm biased.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Warmish

I have a low grade fever today - it spikes, then it diminishes. I've had these fevers since having Lyme disease in the early 90s - when I start to get ill they come in waves, generally the strongest fevers are between 4pm - 7pm (as is true for children...)

So today my fever is visiting - dry mouth, cold hands, hot face and a feeling of unreal-ness to everything. Colors are bright and time passes very quickly.

Some really terrific submissions have been arriving for the calendar - it's gratifying because I hadn't really started a big ad campaign to get the submissions yet (please, SPREAD THE WORD!) but what postings I've placed have gleaned a nice collection of lovely stuff! I have also been working up a few projects for the calendar - figuring that if I need them I'll have them, and if I don't I'll send them to other venues. Crochet is so freeing in the sense that one doesn't have to carry two long needles around (yes, I like long needles - I like my needles like I like my ... oh, never mind)

A comment made me realize that I hadn't specified that I'm seeking submissions for Cheaper Than Therapy from all yarnworkers, not just knitters (that was my own frame of reference) As a matter of fact, even if you, yourself, don't knit (or crochet, or spin, or tat, etc.) but have been affected by the work of someone else and would like to write about it, I'd LOVE to hear about it!

I have a few rounds of submissions to begin gearing up for (for which I need to gear up? How would one write that sentence?) and that's always something good to look forward to. Hate to get the rejections back, but love to get the "we like your stuff..." call. I tend to write about the rejections more than I the latter - funny how they loom larger. Must be the fever.

Tonight I teach - I like my Thursday class, it's going well and I have most of them working on a version of my technique sampler bag. My Tuesday class this week was really nice, too - a very enjoyable and fruitful class. I love my students, they give me such a great perspective on life. Everyone should find something that they can teach, either to one person or to a group. It is so helpful - I learn so much from my teaching.

Hannah brought home a recorder yesterday - the little flute-like instrument that elementary school kids learn to torture in the 3rd grade. She loves it, and telling her that she couldn't practice until she did her other homework was a tremendous inducement to get through math and writing! I know I'm a biased mom, but she sounded not too bad as she squeaked through her scales - then turned around and insisted on showing Maxie everything she'd learned (he, too, has a recorder that I bought for him at Ikea).

This morning at breakfast they both serenaded me with quarter and half notes; "B" "C" . Over and over again. And again. We're about to initiate the recorders-only-in-the-basement-or-bedroom rule.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Counting the Days

You may have noticed the button to the left - I'm canvassing for submissions to a Crochet Pattern-A-Day calendar that I'm putting together for Accord Publishing. They did a wonderful Knitting Pattern-A-Day calendar for 2005 edited by Paulette Lane This will be along the same lines, but for 2006. My deadline for submissions is Jan 1, but I can be a trifle flexible if I hear of a good idea that needs some time to work out the kinks.

If anyone out there is interested in submitting a design please email me and I'll reply to any questions. You can also visit a page I put together for more information on the project.

I think this may encourage some knitters to pick up a hook and overcome their fear of crochet (it adds so much to our knit garments to have a nice crocheted edge or crochet buttons!)

Other Things In The Works
I'm also considering editing and compiling a collection of essays from knitters (and knit teachers - anyone who's taught SOMEONE to knit!) about how the craft has made a positive change in their life, or the lives of those around them.

Every time I hear of another world leader who seems psycho, I just think, "Too bad they don't knit..." I'm tentatively thinking of calling it, Cheaper than Therapy. If you're a budding essayist - an Emerson with needles and yarn - please email me with your idea! If I can make this work out I intend to pay for submissions and I promise it will be at least a bit more than I got for my sweater in S&B.

This is still in the idea forming stages, but I know there are a lot of inspirational stories about knitting out there - I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Back and Rested

Generally when I go away for a teaching weekend I steele myself, reserve my energy a few days in advance and run on adreneline while I'm teaching. Then when I get home I crash.

This time, while I was in VA for the Knitters Review Retreat this past weekend, I did try to rest before I left (but for various reasons that was hard to do) and I found that while I was there the adreneline just wasn't doing what I needed it to do.

Result - I slept quite a bit.

As usual, the best part of the retreat was putting names with faces - meeting NEW faces and getting to spend some time with old friends! Here is a list of some blogs written by retreat attendees (if you would like your blog added to this list, email me and I'll add it!)

ewe knit kits
like the queen
The Spirit Trail
kirchhoff-family
sermom knits
purlewe
Rose By Any
knit dad

NEW as of 11/9/04
Alissa

It was SO terrific to meet Larry - aka Knit Dad - in person! And imagine how thrilled I was to discover we had adjoining rooms so we could visit early in the morning (he, like me, seems to be an early riser most of the time) It's so great to meet folks in person and find they're as nice as you'd hoped!

My Own Schedule
in painful and boring detail

I arrived on Friday evening after a FULL DAY of driving. On the way I stopped at Knit Happens in Alexandria, VA just to peek in the shop. Wonderful! (I'd been turned onto the shop after reading Wendy's blog - Wendy was at the retreat and how terrific was it to meet HER?!)

I spied one of my books sitting in the window so I surreptitiously signed it before fleeing with a purchase of two sets of needles. A few hours later - after some EVIL fleeing DC traffic, I arrived at Graves Mountain Lodge. After a shower, dinner and some incoherent (on my part) conversation - I crashed and slept for over 12 hours.

Saturday I rose, ate breakfast and taught - then spent the afternoon setting up my kits and books to sell, and taught (individually, one on one) and finally escaped with a few other retreaters to a local winery where we tasted and bought some bottles. Then returned to the retreat where I schmoozed, and taught (once again, individually...)

I was amazed and gratifed not just at the number of attendees who'd READ my book, but the number who wanted to BUY my book! I sell a lot on the internet and through Amazon, but it's always a thrill when a real, walking, breathing human being wants to buy a copy (and want me to sign it!)

Of course, discovering on the way back from the vineyard that the same wine we'd purchased was available for $1.50 less at the store across the road from the lodge didn't dim our pleasure at driving through a farm, narrowly missing a few chickens, and seeing spectacular scenery on the way to the winery. We didn't get much of a tour - the guy who helped us was steadying himself by gripping the counter - he'd been tasting all afternoon, too... He did, however, point out the refurbished 1780's cabin up the hill from the winery. I insulted all of Virginia (and most of the south) when I asked, innocently, "Does it have heat and running water...?"

Recently we'd stayed at a cabin in the Catskills with no heat, running water or electricity, and my intention wasn't to offend - but our host responded, a bit indignantly, "It has direct TV!" I refrained from asking (like a smarta$$) "Yes, but does it have heat and running water?" I simply apologized for my question.

Back to the lodge (as we drove past each house or building Larry would ironically ask, "I wonder if they have running water..." Thanks, dude) My winery buddies - Larry and Kathy - returned with me to my room to drink a bit, eat some cheese and triscuts and just have a nice, quiet chat.

I like the retreat, but being there as a teacher means that I can't really just sit and knit - or enjoy the scenery - or eat a meal - without a lot of questions about knitting, purling, or 15 cast ons. Which is fine - I enjoy that and I like helping folks - but it was nice to get away with just two people and have such an enjoyable hour snacking and drinking and chatting (and not teaching!)

After our "cocktail hour" we went down to the lodge for dinner, but the crowd, the noise, the stuffiness of the dining hall became overwhelming to me and I seriously thought I would either become violently ill or pass out. Okay, maybe it was the wine, too... I acquired the key to the meeting room (locked during meals) got my own car keys, and returned to my room to just chill for a bit.

After falling asleep at 8:00 pm I slept fitfully until around 5:00 am (I kept hearing a dog bark and in my dreams kept thinking, There's a BEAR in the woods!) when I got up and enjoyed the quiet, the dark, starry morning and the delicious chill in the air. I think those hours on Sunday, from 5 - 8, were personally my favorite of the retreat. I dressed and loaded my car, then drove down to the lodge, pulled a rocking chair out into the yard and just sat with the aforementioned barking dog watching the sky lighten and the stars fade. It was chilly, but bracing and beautiful.

Then breakfast, more impromptu teaching, more visiting and saying goodbye - and I was off in my car by 10:30. A quick stop at the Plow & Hearth Outlet on Rt 29, then on the road by noon and home by 6:00 - what a day!

Following my weekend pattern, I was asleep by 8:00 and feel more rested today than I generally do during my weekends away teaching. Generally, though, when I'm away I teach more than 1 class.

All in all, it was a terrific weekend. I miss a TV or phone in my room when I'm at Graves - and the starch, starch, sugar, gravy & fried meat meals get a little wearing after the first day - but in that way it was like visiting family in West Virginia!

Speaking of family in WV - and I should have written this first, but it's so not knitting content - my cousin had her lumpectomy and removal of some of her lymph nodes on Thursday. The surgery was more difficult than expected - she lost a lot of blood and was held over in the hospital overnight - I feel even more like I should have been there. She's supported by her sister in law (her late brother's wife) and lots of friends - but I'm her sister and I feel like crap for not being with her. Her spirits sound good - she's home and resting - and with the positive chemo experience this may be behind her. We're crossing our fingers that the radiation can be kept to a minimum. Thanks so much to everyone who wrote with kind thoughts - keep them directed toward Jan and her doctors and helping friends!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hope

Hope is still on the way.

Whichever way the election goes, which every way the last votes fall, hopes have been raised, issues have been discussed, and we must not let them fall by the wayside. We're in the ditch, and we have to push the car out - no matter who's driving.

On to Knitting
I finished the Touch Me Wrap last night - threw it in the washer (in a pillowcase) then dried it (in a pillowcase) then fluffed it (out of the pillowcase) and it's exquisite. The stitch pattern I used gives it a sense of cut velvet - it doesn't look knit at all! And since there are the same number of knit and purl stitches in any given 2 rows, the fabric has a nice straight direction and drapes beautifully. I worked a double knit slipped stitch edging along the edges of the "scarf" portion of the top, and in the felting these really separated themselves from the other stitches and look like a beautiful applied I-cord edging. (Here's how to do a dkss edging)

Row 1 (RS): K1, wyif sl1, k1, p2, work to last 5 sts, p2, k1, wyif sk1, k1
Row 2 (WS): wyif sl1, k1, wyif sl1, k2, work to last 5 sts, k2, wyif sl1, k1, wyif sl1

wyif - with yarn in front (toward you)

Praise is nice, but self-contentment with a design is better than anything. Winning an election would be best of all, but losing hope is something we can't afford to do.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Proof

Here's proof that I voted this morning. I've voted in every election here in NJ since I moved here 8 years ago, and I've NEVER seen our polling place so busy. The workers were already exhausted (I asked if I could run and get them coffee) and it was only 8:30!

I'm working up a new knitting with wire kit - this one for a handknit wire headband (many of you have seen me wear mine...) The first colorway I'm working up is a lovely amethyst wire mixed with predominantly red/purple Himalayan yarn with reddish or purlplish beads worked into the cast on and bind off. It's a simple pattern - and I'll post it as a freebie. If you buy the kit you'll get the pattern along with a general "knitting and crocheting with wire" booklet with lots of tips on using wire, making your own findings, but the pattern is so simple it seems better to just give it away!

I was in a tremendous funk yesterday - several reasons - but the fog is clearing. I am definitely looking forward to my long period of non-travel after next week. A new project has reared it's head and I'm very excited about it - not quite a book, but just as good (better!) and as soon feel comfortable I'll post about it.

The hardest part about creating these kits is trying to decide WHAT color beads to use! I buy beads of all colors, put the kits together, then when I go to buy more beads I'm drawn by the siren song of NEW colors! Exciting for me, but bad for consistency.

I've gone to press for a 4th time - totally sold out of the wire bound (wow!) so I'm printing up more. It's time for me to come up with a new book - this time with color. I need to investigate some overseas printers who will deal with small print runs...
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