Sunday, July 31, 2005

Timely Quotes

I just ran across this in my knit teachers group - some quotes from TR:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.


— Theodore Roosevelt
Citizenship in a Republic
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910


... and a few further quotes from TR:

...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done. (1891)

Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger. (1894)


— TR

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Lazy Sat

Sleeping in is one of life's great pleasures. Waking up with a husband, a dog and a little boy in the bed (the latter two crept in after waking, early in the morning) is a true delight!

Hannah's having a sleepover, so this morning she and her friend made cinnamon rolls (pop-n-bake) and all the kids are watching cartoons. Perfect Saturday.

Hannah's Hat
Two days ago Hannah finished her first hat! I showed her how to use stitch markers to set the decreases, and she went to town, making a little squre top on her round hat. I'll show her how to weave in the ends as soon as she decides which is the public side of her masterpiece!

Annie Neutron
The hair is good. It's a little on the magenta-masquerading-as-red side, but it's not the worst thing in the world to match one's car... All in all I'm very happy with it, and amazed at how easy it was (except for when I got in the shower to rinse out the dye and suddenly it looked like the shower scene from psycho!)

Critiquing the Critique
Just for the record, the comments that sent me off on my spin were't ones that had been directed at my own designs, but several I had read recently by other bloggers making pretty digging comments at some new, young designers. I won't say criticism doesn't hurt, but I've yet to read a critique of my [recent] knit designs that I couldn't either learn from or shrug off. I was inspired (is that the word I want?) to my last post when I realized that it's becoming more and more common to attack a designer personally in a blog.

I think those of us who write blogs sometimes forget that this isn't just the same as having an intimate conversation with friends. It's easy to forget - I have to remind myself of that quite a bit, and often I'll write a post, save it as a draft and return to it later (cutting quite a bit) when I see how heated my post would have been.

No, my comment wasn't against criticism in general - or even folks deciding that they'd like to knit something differently. I revel in that! I love it when folks write to me showing me ways they've changed my designs, it makes me feel so happy to have been part of someone creating something that is good for them.

Bring on the good, well reasoned critiques! Please! Those who read my blog on a regular basis know that quite often I'll post new designs that I'm working on, and appreciate the comments on them. Recently comments regarding the cover of Cheaper Than Therapy led me to make some alterations which really seemed to improve the look.

What I object to are the folks who write at length of the designs that they would put out there if they were designing, while at the same time questioning the sanity, judgement or sobriety of another designer (this, I think, moves into the personal)

But, obviously, I'm not the blog police - and thank heaven there are none! I was simply writing about something I'd been seeing that was making me sad and angry.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Praise and Blame

Something I've discovered in my travels with yarn and designing, is that those who work hard, knit from their heart and are open to new ideas are always ready to praise someone elses work freely. They get it - they see the work, and even if they don't always love the design concept, they can appreciate the work.

When I used to be a costumer I made the same connection. The actresses who worked hard treated acting as a craft.

They tended to be quite good - or at least interesting to watch - and were also the easiest to work with.  As professionals, they expected professionalism from the support staff and treated everyone with respect. Love that!

I enjoyed working in Opera for that very reason. No matter how demanding a singer might be, they tended to be professional (all of the hours of training, practicing, etc. showed in many ways) and thus - for the most part - treated the folks who worked around them as professionals, too!

When an actress would come into a fitting with an attitude, act nasty to the stitchers and treat the costume assistant dismissively, we could all pretty much be assured that her performance would stink. This goes for actors, too - pettiness knows no gender.

I find a parallel in folks who roundly (and smugly) criticize designs freely. I think a good critique is worth ten times as much as feined praise, and I like to hear solid, worthwhile comments on my designs and writing which will help me improve.

But the table-in-the-back-of-the-cafeteria crowd who simply cut folks down in small and nasty ways do little more than highlight their own personal sense of inadequacy (or jealousy). Very telling are the "If I were designing that, I would... comments. Yeah, right.

Those who sit on their fannies, don't design anything but pretend that they are designers and are locked in some bizzaro this-is-the-right-way world can rarely do anything but make sour comments which masquerade as criticism.

Thus endeth our lesson. I'll get off the soapbox now, eyow I sound bitter! I don't mean to, but I feel that sometimes this has to be said.

Now go have a beer (or martini, or glass of wine, or chocolate bar) and chill out! It's FRIDAY ya' bast'ds!

...and I'm dying my greying hair myself today - details at 11:00...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Gears & Shifting

The Knitting With Wire Book is coming along beautifully - I'm so loving working with the wire and gorgeous beads! I'm in a zone where the designs are coming to me clear and fast, it's a wonderful place to be. Often I feel stifled, clogged, then the congestion in my design brain will fall away and several really good pieces come out.

It's such an education in the pitfalls of miscommunication, though! As if I needed further education in that. I am terrible on the phone, and it's a tribute to the level of our friendship if I can actually hold a conversation with you on the phone. I become forgetful, easily distracted, and if you ask me 5 minutes after the call what it was about (or even IF there was a call) the chances are iffy that I'd remember.

Yet I remember the theme song to any TV show I"ve ever seen. Once.

"...If you're in doubt about angels being real..."

There's been some confusion with the publisher about who exactly is to provide the technical drawings in the book. This will resolve itself (I know that in my bones, plus my editor called to tell me not to worry about it at all, it would be 'handled') Does anyone remember The West WIng episode where the first lady exclaimed, "Don't handle me, Jack!" Love that.

There are worst things I could do...

I'm scatting. I actually scatted for the kids in the car the other day, they were astounded. Then later on the Radio Ella came on and she showed them the real way to do it, but they still liked mom's be bop flair. Skoo-dle-ee-WAH! Had we not set ourselves on the name Hannah, my darling girl would have been Ella in honor of the great singer who died during my pregnancy.

In between wire bouts I work on the love-cardigan for Art Yarns, and ponder patterns for upcoming designs for them. I've decided a good name for this cardigan (which I love, did I mention that?) would be Butter & Jam. Or Butter & Marmelade. Me-oh-lady-marma-lah-ahah-ahahd!


Cheaper than Therapy is also running well! There will be over 30 essays, all of them so different, with a few quite breathtaking angles on fiber and living. I love re-reading these essays, they're so human and true. This, too, has been a wonderful education from the OTHER side of the book. I'm learning more about publishing - and myself - than I dreamed I would.

And speaking of educations, creating the Corset A-long is perhaps the most instructive thing I've ever done! It's amazing to see the pattern through the eyes of 150 other folks, and so helpful as I move on to write new patterns. Which I should be doing now instead of blogging...

Friday, July 22, 2005

Hornets

Apparently we have a hive somewhere on the property, because we've had the fourth (count 'em, fourth) sighting of the e-vilest insect on earth around our house.

I've only seen one, mind you, and that was after the kids (and the neighbors kids) came screaming into the house that we have a HORNET in our GAZEBO. How dare it. My kids had been telling me for weeks that those cute little black and white teeny tiny "flies" are baby hornets, and I didn't believe them. I'm sorry, kids...

But the one I HAVE seen was huge. Hold up your index finger, now imagine wings as long as your thumb attached to that finger and you have a rough idea of the size of this mamma. When my husband came running out with a flyswatter he quickly changed his mind and returned with a can of super-mondo-uber Wasp & Hornet spray. The can sports a huge image of a hornet, and after killing this behemoth we realized the photo is, indeed, life sized.

I had to leave right away for knitting group so I didn't get a photo of the hornet. I'm hoping I won't have a chance to take a picture of a new one.

Those of you who know me know that I have a DEEP PARALYZING PHOBIA of flying, stinging insects. It's embarresing (as is the fact that I can't spell), I try hard not to show fear in front of the kids. They're fascinated by these things, and a lot braver than I am. I have a physical reaction when I see one - I break out in a cold sweat, I shake all over, there's a buzzing in my head (and it's not the insect) and I cannot.move.at.all

Looking for hornet info on the web, I found the scariest friggin' picture I've ever seen at a website called, Hornets, Gentle Giants... Yeah. It's me again, I'm profiling the hornets, they're really good, kind, gentle creatures. Oy.

Lots of knitting is happening, lots of scheduling classes, and LOTS of wire work. LOTS. I'll show some pictures of works in progress soon, but I'm pretty happy with how everything is coming out. Love this wire, man!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Drip...

This weather is insane. I'm sticking to everything like a kid with a lollipop, oy!

Yesterday was spent putting together teaching proposals for TNNA - I'll send them out later today, and it's wonderful to have a sponsor for some of the classes I'm offering. Wahoo! I'd love to go back out to San Diego, it was just so beautiful out there, and - of course - it would be great to see LA again!

I need to get on the stick to drum up side-teaching gigs for some of my trips. I'm lagging on this (it's the heat...) and the fact that my email is still screwey isn't helping. When I send attachments I have to use gmail, but I'm still able to get all of my mail via modeknit.com, but that means having two different mail entities going at any time (my browser isn't new enough for me to use the gmail setting to add modeknit as an extra mail server, and I can't update my browswer because my operating system isn't new enough, and I can't updage my operating system because my computer's being held together with gum and cyndi lauper cd boxes)

And here I languish in the heat, sticky, not really wanting to do anything. Well, except drive around in my cool car.

I'm feeling a little guilt for the car. Things have been rotton for some time, financially, and it seems such a splurge to get a new car. Gerry shopped and shopped and definitely put in the leg work (as usual) on this, and found a place in Southern NJ which would take his 1998 Huyndai as a trade in and - along with the specials that are offered now - we got a drive-it-off-the-lot price of $15,000.

It seems so high to me, but I know it's not. I have to swallow hard. I remember that our Hyundai we bought in 2000 (back when financial times were sort of okay for us, pre-911 and all the angst that seemed to accompany the period) we paid $13,000 and felt like we'd made the deal of the century. This car is loaded (it was a dealer car) with stuff I'd never dreamed of wanting, so we did get a good deal. Can you tell I'm rationalizing?

But, most important, it will be an excellent car for driving to teaching gigs, which is mainly why we got it. And Gerry said that I should have a car that stands out - bless him. It gets pretty good mileage, is VERY roomy and will be good to drive for long distances.

Okay, enough guilt tripping on the car. There's so much more that I can guilt about. Time to put the guilt into action and get to work!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Is it just me...

Or does anyone else feel a jolt of recognition when they see the bus kiosks for Charlie & The Chocolate Factory? Here's how I see it...

Good Stuff

Yesterday was a day of amazing good stuff - one of the coolest days I've had in a long time!

First, I woke up and my family were all healthy, happy and rarin' to go (except for Gerry, who slept in, and deserved it!) The kids made their beds, made their breakfasts and brushed their teeth. What else could a mom want?

I drove up to Poghkeepsie for a bead show - it was not huge, but I found some wonderful stuff and go to visit with some new friends and old friends, too! I think my favorite of the stuff I got are the thin mah jongg tiles, I'm going to knit them up with the small pearls next to them.

Then back in the car and down to White Plains where I visited Iris Schreier at Art Yarns to drop off some stuff, show her some new stuff and pick up a buttload of yarn. That's an official yarn store measurement, but it's not used very often. It varies from person to person, and given the size of my butt I could barely manage the bag down to my car. This yarn will become 4 sweaters (including one that will fit ME to be worked up for a new plus-sized knitters pattern venue) and - brilliant - I will NOT be knitting these!

Yes, it's true, I am moving away from knitting EVERY one of my samples. In this case I'll be swatching, writing patterns and sending them to Iris so she can hire knitters to work up the sweaters. We'll find the mistakes (what a concept) fix them, extrapolate the sizes for a wide variety of folks and - my work here is done...

Then back home, where I stopped on the way at our FAVORITE Chinese restaurant where I picked up dinner for the family, including my favorite dim sum item, lotus seed paste buns, yum! [any connection between my unnatural love of these buns and the size of my butt is purely coincidental] And shrimp balls for Maxie!

Then home - where I waited for Gerry and the kids, who'd driven down to Southern NJ to look at a car. But while I waited (and strung beads to make a new choker for the book) I was thrilled to discover this sitting at the front door. Yehaw!

We've needed a car for a while, Gerry's Huyndai Elantra Wagon (it matches mine!) was getting long in the tooth and it was time to trade it in. We'd talked about a lot of different cars, but decided that the PT Cruiser would work best for all of my travel and still be a load of fun. So at 10:00 last night (after getting LOST in Southern NJ for almost 4 hours...) Gerry and the kids drove up in this. It was a dealer car, and he got an AMAZING deal. It's loaded with stuff that I generally wouldn't car about (FIVE CD changer?) but it ended up costing slightly less than our newer Hyundai Elantra that we bought new off the lot in 2000.

And Max lost a tooth. NOT in a shrimp ball (thank heaven).

It was an amazingly rich and inspiring day. A lot of good stuff came together in a 24 hour period. Now to my knitting!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Computer Angst

I haven't been able to send mail all day from my regular email - modeknit.com - so I've been using Gmail. If any of you have been waiting for a note from me, I'll get it to you, I promise!

The truth is, I've outgrown my computer. It's a first generation G3 and I have several other hard drives plugged into it so I can get my work done. I'm using old version of my browsers, my operating systems, everything (and it's making me nuts!) so the hub thinks it's time for a computer upgrade. Wahoo! And it's a business expense. Seriously.

One thing that I have been doing all day since I haven't been able to answer email is to work on the cover for Cheaper Than Therapy. Here it is (or the first rendering)! Tada!

Now, where was that copy editor who said they'd like to work on this book..?

Update!
My dear hub has just ordered me a new Mini Mac. Wahoo! It should be here in a week...

New Yarn Storage
I've received a wealth of yarn recently, so I needed to create some new yarn storage. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present my new Ikea Bookshelf!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Short List

So I went to my new doctor yesterday, who I like very much (a Russian Woman) and after hearing my list of symptoms over the past 3 years she, too, thinks that Lyme Disease is a #1 susptect. She took a blood test and would like me to have an MRI, but we need to check with our insurance to discover if I'll need a pre certification, and if they have a pre existing condition waiting period. It felt good to feel not nuts.

She also measured me. I am shrinking. I've known this for a while, but it's hardcore when you actually see the numbers. I was a good 5'11" through my 20's and 30's. Now I am a still-tall yet shocking 5'9". Oy. TWO inches. I am the incredible shrinking woman.

I do take calcium, but I also forget it half the time. Enough with the forgetting.

I also got an email from my producer at Knitty Gritty that I'm on the short list (how fitting!) for a new segment. They're toying with a few different topic ideas. I wrote to her this morning proposing the corset top as a great project - if you agree, I'm sure Knitty Gritty would love to hear from you!

I've been lining up bead suppliers for the wire book. Some are so forthcoming - they realize that $50 worth of beads can net them much more in free advertising when they're given page credit in the book. Some companies have a hard time wrapping their minds around the positive benefits of getting a good editorial plug in a book. Oh, well! I've gone through this before, and it's one of the ways that I find out which bead / wire / yarn companies are serious about growing their business, and which are pretty happy to stay where they are (which is fine, I'm not one who believes that constant growth is a good thing - just look at my height!) If any of you know of sensational beads that you feel would be cool worked into wire projects, I'd love to hear about them. I always love to hear about cool ANYTHING!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Kvelling

The absolute best thing a designer can hear is that someone is happy with their finished garment. Believe me, we knit designers carry a large burden of guilt because we feel responsible when someone purchases yarn (which is usually not cheap) and spends vaulable time working up our patterns.

Because hand knit designers usually write the patterns, hearing that the pattern was relatively simple to follow is a close second on the list of Things That Make A Designer's Day

This morning I opened my email to find not one but two incredible examples of folks working up patterns of mine to excellent effect.

The first was an email from a friend who graciously invited me to stay with her last Spring when I was teaching in NC on my way to visit my mother - my last visit with her. I was a bit of a wreck on that trip, but one thing that I remember very well was that this friend's daughter was absolutely GIFTED in the fiber arts. I gave her a copy of my universal chair seat pattern because I KNEW that she would be able to work it up, and she has! The very cool decorative painting on the chair are wonderfully whimsical, this is a piece of art!

I also had an email from Anita at Champagne Bohemian who is the first in the Corset Knit Along to finish (as far as I know...)

Her top is exceptional! Not only are her colors perfect together (and so wonderful on a redhead!) but her knitting is just beautiful! I am floating on air today.

I'd really rather hear a good thing from a customre than get a sweater in a magazine - really - it means so much to know that I've enhanced someone's knitting life in any way!

...and

The kids are on the bus to the Russian Circus - a hot, non air conditioned yellow shool bus - but they're kids, they're SUPPOSED to sweat in the summer. I don't think any of our cars had air conditioning when I was a kid and we took our bi-monthly trips from Toledo to Parkersburg (5 hours, 4 if my dad drove...)

So the kids will be gone until 2:00 - when Gerry will be home to get them - so I have HOURS of luxuious knitting time ahead of me! I'm finishing up the body of the cardigan for Art Yarns and it's calling out to me to add a matching shell to make it a twin set.

I love it when my knitting murmurs sweet nothings to me.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Shrink

A full and rich day of editing - and soon out to dinner at our favorite family BBQ place (mystery shop, sshhhh)

The weather today's been amazing - wild storms, lightning, then the purest, sweetest air and lovely sunshine. It's supposed to be a scorcher tomorrow, so we'll probably end up at the pool - which is why I spent most of the day today getting computer editing done.

The book is coming together - the essays I have are extraordinary, and every now and then I have to walk away from the work because it can be very affecting. I'm still open for submissions - especially ones that have a light, upbeat or positive ending. That's not to say a serious piece isn't welcomed, too, but I'd like to get a nice balance.

This started as a labor of love - I wanted to write something myself about mourning through my craft - but when I finished, it seemed lonely, as if it wanted a larger framework. The more I'd travel and talk about loss, knitting and recovering - the more folks would agree and share their own inspiring stories with me.

Most of the editing is rather light, although in some cases I've become more involved. I think I used to be more precious about this - altering someone's writing - but after seeing how my own words have been edited in my published essays (quite often, although I don't like to admit it, to great benefit) I feel better about creating a unifying tone which will run through the essays. And so far just about everyone is happy - really lovely - about the changes. Yahoo!

I've been incredibly self involved lately. Reading only my own stuff, head down, working, and not seeing my friends who may be in need. This morning I heard about one online knitting friend who'd had an accident, another who - while recovering from surgery - lost her grandmother. It makes me understand how easy it is to become disengaged from the world, from friends (whether they're next door or in the next blog in the ring). I used to say, when I first moved to NYC 20hmmm years ago, that if someone had 10 friends they could really only expect to see them once every two weeks if they had dinner with one friend every night (two nights off a week to rest).

Time and energy - two things I wish I could turn on and off - but would life be as sweet if I could manage everything?

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 25% of women in the US don't visit a doctor regularly because they can't afford it. They found that 17% of insured women also feel this way. As of last Thursday I'm in the latter group - and tomorrow I'm going for my first insured doctor visit in over 3 years.

Perhaps this will be the first step toward allowing me to manage my energy more effectively? Oh, how I'd love to feel as energetic and pain free as I did 3 years ago!

Friday, July 08, 2005

No Pool For You!

It's a rainy, icky day - no pool, no daycamp, and nutsy kids tearing up the sofa. Good thing I bought them Schoolhouse Rock so they could work on their multiplication tables, it's been entertaining them all morning!

I think we'll head over to the Science Center where they can run and explore and mom can sit and knit!

I've been in touch with a few bead, wire and jewelry item suppliers to see about getting things for the book - I'm so excited! I have so many ideas that I can barely write then down fast enough. This is going to be a gorgeous book - and with any luck it will actually INSPIRE folks to pick up knitting!

I'm trying to arrange my days so that I get my computer work done in the morning, leaving afternoons free for poolside (the kids generally get out of camp at 1:00) where I can knit and listen to books on tape. I blandly nod at the kids in the pool who are yelling Marco!, POLO! while I listen to The Travels of Marco Polo on my mp3 player. It's my own little joke - it makes me smile.

As any of you know, I'm infested with the same skulking insecurities that everyone has - when a few weeks go by with no contact from an editor, I begin to think the worst (they figured it out, I'm talentless - they hate me!) then I have to force myself to sit quietly for a bit and come back to earth.

The pool is good for that. We live in a town with an amazing pool - three pools, actually, in a shaded park setting right in our downtown (but it could be miles away) with the regular click of the commuter train every quarter hour or so. And it's $15 per person for the year. Yes, we have the highest taxes in the state, but our pool is good.

Back to the insecurities - I was very relieved to hear from a good friend and editor yesterday. I'm not on the garbage heap, I'm not forsaken, I'm - as usual - being a little silly.

Egads, when will I outgrow this?

I recently read in another blog a pretty brutal slam of the kids' sweaters which appear in Fall IK (although nice things were said about the kids themselves ...) and it shook me up. Not so much the critique - I'm getting more and more steeled to that and try to take it in stride - but the vitriol of the comment seemed out of line.

It was almost as if I had personally offended this person with my design. I may just send them over the edge with the VK sweater. Unfortunately, the best way to kill exciting and whimsical design is to create a judgemental atmosphere. But some folks can't help but judge harshly. Ah, well - c'est la vie! As my husband says, If you don't piss someone off, what kind of a Heretic are you?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Entropy

...and once again I find I have so much to jump into that deciding where to start is the hard part...

I'm working on a cabled and colorwork cardigan which I'm really loving, but the VK folks have asked me to reswatch a scarf I'll have in the Winter IK in three different colors (they want to show different colorways in the magazine) I should get to this right away, but it's hot, mohair is sticky and I'm being childish. So there. I'll do it later tonight.

A trip to Ikea netted me a new bookshelf type thing to put my yarn in. I think our short term plan is to move me into the kids playroom as my new office (the family gets the dining room back!) then that will give Gerry the impetus to get going on my "real" office in another part of the basement. The kids aren't thrilled, but they've been promised the use of the BIG TV and DVD player while mommy's in the basement working, so that assuages them. We're at the point of turning the playroom into a family room, with sofas and more teen-oriented stuff anyway, so this will be our transition move.

It also means that the improvements I make to create my office will be tax deductible. I'm meeting with my accountant to discuss this, but it will be one of the benefits. And I've been CRYING out for a place to work. Right now I'm smushed into our breakfast nook which is so overwhelmingly crowded. I've flowed out into the dining room and still there is no holding my enormous amount of yarn, books, etc. An office is a way of announcing that I'm finally taking this seriously. No more kicking the dust and mumbling, "I knit..." when someone asks me what I do. I will proudly proclaim, "I'm a hand-knit designer!" and watch their faces glow. Yeah, right.

July is Cheaper month, so I'll be getting that together - finally! It will be a slim volume, but I think it will be a really nice read. I'm thinking of offering it both as an ebook and as a 'real' book - and it will be priced very reasonably because, if it's not accesible, what good is it?

BTW - do yourself a favor and read Laurie's horror-scopes I enjoy them so much that I don't even mind being a Virgo. Briefly.

I was just reading her current, excellent post on financial freedom and it reminded me that I wanted to crow about these shoes I found. I generally can't afford Birks, can't find really feminine looking ones, or find them in my size (11/42). So imagine my joy when I stopped by Nordstroms (my favorite store) and THERE were these delicious little (okay, big) shoes in my size for $40! Woohoo! They were the only pair, a discontinued pattern - they're actually not blue but a pretty oriental rug type pattern in oranges, reds, whites and golds. Smashing. They look most excellent with the gold pedicure...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Small Town USA

One of the best things about living in South Orange - which is an amazing little village for many reasons - is the 4th of July Celebration. It's small, it's anything but overwhelming, and there is tremendous comfort in the familiarity.

I've actually been coming to the 4th Celebrations in SO since my friends moved here with their little boy in the early 80's. That boy is now a sophmore at college, and I live here with my own family (things I couldn't begin to contemplate back in my 20's, when I was positive that I would never marry, would live in NYC forever - or at least Bklyn - but knew that Frank would be stellar at whatever he did...)

It all starts with the Bike Rodeo at 9:00 (which we miss because we're sleeping in.) Prizes are given for bike riding excellence. We DO make the Parade of Bikes at 11:30, which ends over by the Duck Pond where everyone is given a medal for participation. Amazing how treasured those medals are by the kids. Then there's the annual Watching The Firetruck Shoot Water Into The Duck Pond exhibit, which is a great hit with the kids. There are usually some small games (moonwalk - bounce - whatever you call it) and face painting as well as small games of skill (throw a ball into a bottle) all led by the counselors at the kid's town daycamp, who are treated like Rock Stars by their little campers. There's a dixie-land type band that plays, and model boat demonstrations on the heavily used Duck Pond, and face painting.

Then we retire to the village pool for some splashing. Fortunately a large part of the grounds are shaded, so we can spend a lot of time there as a red-headed family and not burn to a crisp. Gerry - who has to work today - will meet us there at lunchtime with sandwiches and we'll hang out until mid afternoon when we'll come home to change and rest from the sun. We may have some friend over, and then we'll all return to the Duck Pond/Park area to watch the fireworks at 9:30. A very exciting day, to be sure! I think Gerry will skip the later activities because he has to get up at 3:00 tomorrow morning.

I love living here. The taxes are astronomical, as property values rise there's a growing sense of elitism that many of us fight, but it's a wonderful, diverse and very friendly place.

Take Time
In the midsts of the celebration take a moment today to visit Anysolder.com and look up a man or woman to write to (and maybe send a box of goodies...) The soldiers to whom our Brownie Troop 333 sent Girl Scout Cookies have responded with kind letters (one covered with peace symbols!) and I'm hopeful that some of the girls will continue a correspondence with them - I know I will. Both are in danger, both are women, and both literally begged for more mail for their units. Take a moment and write a letter.

Knitingwise
I finished a sample of my circular cocoon in Art Yarns for their use - it worked up much quicker than I had anticipated. I am a fast knitter, but still it only took me about a week. The yarn is fun to use, the colors are very inspiring, and that always makes me work a bit faster. I'm working up a new sweater which I designed years ago, but which no one has wanted (regardless of multiple submissions.) This is how it goes sometimes. At any rate, I'm really happy to give it a new incarnation in Art Yarns, so we'll see how it turns out.

Jewelry
Some former students of mine have started a website Misbehave Jewelry where they're showing and selling some really beautiful hand crafted items. It's worth a look - the pieces are eclectic and engaging, I really love them!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Celebrate!

Happy Fourth of July Weekend, folks!

I heard someone on the radio this morning say, "It's a birthday party - you don't go to someones birthday and tell them that they need to lose weight..."

A good point. There is so much to be improved, but it's nice to have a weekend to kick back and enjoy our neighborhood, our state and our country!

Come Tuesday, though, the 'diet discussion' will continue. That's an anaology, see, I'm not talking about a real diet, but a national discussion on making our country better. It's related to the not telling someone they're fat on their birthday comment above.

Comic Truism: If you have to explain it, it's not funny.

Thanks so much for the wonderful congratulations - I've been basking in the feeling that I can design 20 pieces and they're all ALREADY accepted. A nice feeling. I can see where a few books down the road there'd be a looming, "How will I FILL it all!" fear, but right now I have many, many knit wire designs flying around my brain. I'm very excited.

I've had lunch with two good friends over the past two days - I'm fortunate in my friends, that's for sure! One was a friend from the bad old single days (my memories of those days are so foggy - could it have been one white wine spritzer too many? We ARE talking about the 80's...) the other is a new friend - well, not so new - who I met about 4 years ago in a screenwriting class given at our local library. She's also a knitter and about 12 years ago I worked with her husband, so it's a really small world!

Anyway, with all the traveling and teaching I realize that I seldom take the time to just sit with a FRIEND. Not someone I'm trying to show something to, or sell something to, or get something from. Just a friend. I think of my students as friends, but there's always that teacher thing going on in my brain (I have to beHAVE myself...) so it's nice to kick back. Those of you who have taken a class with me are now thinking, "She was behaving herself in the class??

Yes, sadly, that wild woman you witnessed showing you how to cable without a cable needle is actually the subdued me. You can imagine how exhausted my husband is. And the kids are just like me.

Anyway, one of my friends' grandmother is originally from Shanhai and - you guessed it - she knits in the Combination style. How odd that I never realized this before, but it fits my theory.

I've noticed from comments by other knitters and visitors to my website that there seem to be two major pockets of sanctioned combination knitting in the world: Shanghai and Hungary (specifically Budapest).

My theory is that these are places where East & West didn't just meet but went out on a few dates, too. Perhaps this is reflected in the types of things that social scientists generally don't study - like knitting styles, or perhaps the way someone rolls their dumplings. Who knows? It's fascinating to think of, though!

Speaking of which - thank you all so much for the kind emails and notes about my beautiful(well, they are!) kids. You can see them for yourself on page 100 of the Fall 2005 Interweave Knits. How kind of them to put them on such an easy page! And, it's official, I've heard from the horses mouth (as it were) that my sweater will be on the cover of Fall Vogue. Too much good at one time.

Did I mention that today we're officially insured? The union health insurance kicks in today. It's true, we have a fifty dollar co pay, but we are insured. And now I will investigate the possibility that this continued exhaustion and joint pain is due to a recurrance of Lyme or another auto immune disease brought on the by hysterectomy and stress. Finally I can afford the tests. I'll wait until Tuesday to rant about how absurd this is in the RICHEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

This is about the best period I've had in years. It feels that many things are coming together - and is in stark contrast to my life a year ago. Let's hope I can keep the pace and keep my mind in the game - and enjoy life, too!
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Snail Mail:
Annie Modesitt / Landy
1043 Grand Ave
PO Box 117
St. Paul, MN 55105




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