Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tired & Sick - but home again

I taught in DC yesterday at the Destination Knits Retreat and it was a wonderful experience! Laurie Gonyea did a fabulous job of putting together an instructional and very fun day for a group of a dozen knitters. The massages were amazing (even if mine was a little short because I arrived to that portion of the day late!)

The students ranged across a variety of skill levels, but everyone jumped in and we all grew from the experience! Most gratifying were the brand new knitter who had only learned to knit a few minutes before the class (and learned to purl IN the class) but still managed a few cable twists. She has a lot to keep her mind and hands busy for the next few weeks!

Another student was a left handed knitter, and I was able to help her understand the leading and trailing edge of her stitch, so now she will be able to make untwisted stockinette stitch if she wants (and still knit the way she feels comfortable, moving her stitches from her right hand needle to her left hand needle) Knitting "backwards" - or working in the opposite direction than you're used to - is an exceptional skill to develop, especially when working back and forth over a small area like entrelac or for a narrow belt.

Aside from the basic combination, we also covered some increasing and decreasing (it seemed something the class really wanted to know) and cabling without at cable needle - which is so much fun it's like a party trick - and the i-bobble. A nice bag of tricks to send the folks home with!

After class, though, I became very ill. My nose was running like Roger Bannister and I felt head-achy and light-headed. I went to the hotel and slept for a few hours, then returned to the retreat to say goodbye to a few women and returned again to the hotel. At that point my cold (flu?) was full blown and I have to say my biggest worry is that along with knitting technique I may have passed along an unhealthy dose of germs to my students!

All night I was up, it was impossible to sleep (what I wouldn't have given for some NyQuil) and at 3:00 in the morning -which was really 2:00 because the clocks fell back last night - I called Knit Happens in Alexandria, VA and left a message that I was just too sick to teach today.

Cancelling a teaching engagement is heartbreaking, and I can't remember the last time I did it. But aside from my own ills, and a sore throat to boot, I just can't pass along this nastiness to two other groups of women with a clear conscious.

I called a few more times - always getting the machine - but finally reached at employee a few minutes before the class was scheduled to begin. To anyone who missed this class, I am VERY sorry - you wouldn't have wanted to be around me today, anyway! Know that if you were disappointed, my own disappointment was very great, too! I get so much from teaching (not only monetarily) and it helps me with my own creative process to help folks along with their knit technique.

The drive home was - exhausting. I made many stops, just about every time I passed a rest stop I got a cup of tea or just stopped to walk around for a few minutes because I felt so dead tired. Several times I had a passing feeling that, "You know, I may have been able to stay and teach..." but then I'd be overwhelmed with a wave of tiredness and my throat would ache and I'd realize again that my own bed was the only place for me.

I got home around noon and crashed. It's 5:00 - I'm up but Gerry and the kids are gone (what an odd feeling...) I think he woke me up a few minutes ago to tell me they were going shopping. I'm in that other-world ear-ringing state right now so I'll have some more tea, call him on his cell phone and head back to bed.

Best thing about the day? When I got home and crawled into bed within minutes Gigi the cat and Atticus the dog were curled up with me and Gerry was rubbing my back.

Best thing about the weekend? Aside from the teaching and the students, it was meeting an NPR celeb - I'm such an NPR dweeb - I got to meet the white house correspondent the day that Scooter Libby was indicted. Very cool. And I drove past where Susan Stamberg lives!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Home

Is there any sight nicer than the Dad loading heavy luggage off of the carousel while Mom basks in the glow of two fine redheads? We were all thrilled to see each other, that's for sure!

This morning at 6:30 (!) the freeway in LA was packed - it looked like evening rush hour and I would have taken a photo but I don't have the same skills as some driving bloggers I know of!

Home to some hugging and chinese food - tucking the kids in bed and now I'm off myself to the king sized dream machine. In the way of all of my trips, the moment I could relax (rental car returned, baggage checked) I begain sneezing with a vengeance and I'm going to tuck myself in with some alka seltzer cold stuff tonight.

Tomorrow I drive to DC for the Destination Knits Retreat - then on to Knit Happens on Sunday for some classes - then home for a week before I teach at The Point in NYC on Friday, Knitting Central in Westport, CT on Saturday and Now & Zen out on Long Island next Sunday. This is what we in the knitting industry refer to as making hay while the sun shines.

Breathe.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Chez Purl

Okay, not to be too stalkerish myself, but CAP is just about as wonderful as any of you may have thought. No - MOREso! Shhhhh, don't tell her, but I'm NOT going home - The cats are finally used to me and I know how to work the shower...

More classes, most going stellar. The aforementioned bad class apparently spontaneously imploded - must have been that time release thing - and the shop owner's comments when I went to pick up a bag I'd left at her shop were very upsetting. Thankfully my next stop was to pick up my steamer, which I'd left at another yarn shop (get the idea I'm a little forgetful?) and it was the balm for my wounds.

With no prompting the shop owner told me how much her students loved the class, how much they felt they'd learned and - most important - how empowered they all felt when they left. It's always nice to hear this, but yesterday it was vital because my next stop was Burbank to tape my Knitty Gritty episode. If I'd gone straight there from the first yarn shop, I think it would have been impossible to put on a good face (okay, very hard...) and do a decent segment.

Of course I have been worrying this to death in my head. I think what happens is that when someone has a certain amount of buzz or is well known for some reason, folks begin to feel that they don't have any feelings. It's not a lack of respect as much as a lack of understanding that just because we're paid to teach, we still have a heart and soul and can be affected by a very negative student. Ideally this impact should be small, and part of being a teacher is learning to neutralize a situation like this, not let it make a class go south. In this case I was acting as teacher and - I felt - as a sort of substitute shop manager as there wasn't one at the time. These two things together with the dynamic of a strong but negative student made it so difficult to teach this class that - well - afterward it was one of those horrible nights when I'm awake until the morning positive that I should never teach again.

I'm lucky that since the bad class I've taught two great classes - one at Knitters Studio (lovely store!) and one out in Monrovia at Unraveled (another amazing shop - large and well lit with a VERY loving staff and passionate clientele) Having a good class is the antidote for the poison of a bad class.

The Knitty Gritty taping went really well. Vickie is fun to hang around with between takes, I'm amazed that she can keep energy and focus going for so long! The production staff was kind, helpful, just great folks and my producer, Stefanie, was - as always - just wonderful. I'd catch sidelong glances at myself on the monitor - oy. Once again, I can live a rich and full life without seeing myself on TV. The thumbnail is STILL in bad shape (since April - this thing is going on forever!) so I got a manicure and had several fake nails painted to match, then I glued one on to the non-cracked bits of my thumbnail (ouch) so that when on camera it didn't look like a medical investigation show. And, there's always that masochistic thrill of removing a fake nail. I "did" the corset - but more than that I actually got to talk about Combination knitting, show it (albeit briefly) on camera and do a little lace, too. I love lace.

Tonight I teach at one of my favorite shops of all - Unwind in Burbank. I love this store, it's so light and open and easy to shop in. On the east coast so many yarn shops are small (space restrictions) and dark - Stephanie's shop is a wonderful place to just hang out (and I may just do that today as I have nothing on my agenda until my class this evening - freedom!)

I'm not sure if I mentioned that while in Boston I got stuck in an elevator for 15 minutes and had to be rescued by firemen. Mmmmmm, Boston Firemen... but - alas, did not have my knitting with me. Very sad. But exciting, and I would expect no less. Let's hope for a little less excitement when I fly back to NJ tomorrow!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Spinning

Turning roving into yarn has intriuged me for years, but I've never mistressed it - maybe now I will. At any rate, my head, life, travel is all spinning (out of control? I hope not...) so if I just hold the roving still in my hand I'll end up with a ball of yarn.

I'm staying with the charming, beautiful and accomplished Crazy Aunt Purl (not so crazy...) and it's a delight. She let me have her BED, for heaven's sake, and I feel guilty (but also had the BEST sleep of my life, so I'm not giving it back...) I've said it before and I'll say it again - Mr. X was a fool.

Yesterday I taught a full day of classes at Knit Cafe on Melrose. It's such a wonderful and charming store - but due to a family emergency the owner couldn't be at the shop and part way through the day MEC, who was effectively acting as manager, had to leave and at that point it seemed the forces of the universe converged on the shop!

One of my students slipped while trying to catch the meter-maid before she ticked her car. She hurt herself - not badly, but it was obviously very painful - and had to leave with some very attractive paramedics so the class was down two folks. Then in the next class it just seemed the planets were totally out of alignment or something.

This happens every now and then - and it's as much my fault as anyone elses, and DEFINITELY my responsibility to set the class right. Which I felt I did - partially - but also felt that those in the class didn't get as much out of it as they might of. This always makes me feel very bad - I want folks to walk away feeling empowered, like they can do anything, not frustrated like they'd like to kick me (or my dog). But upon returning to CAP's abode I was greeted by a bunch of LA knitters who wanted to meet me (me? They wanted to party with Purl!) and bad feelings were washed away by some great knitting and chatting.

One of the employees at Knit Cafe is working up a hat for me - and it has been a great lesson that a project that is not what was expected is worth FIVE TIME what a perfect project would be! He did a great job, but the hat is, well, odd. It's not him, it's the yarn, it's the pattern (me) and he has helped me so much in figuring out how to revise this to make it a pattern that works. This is proof that a perfect thing is not always as worthy as imperfection (oh, god, did I drink too much last night...?)

I'm off now to go teach two classes - both are the same, the Cocoon Sweater - so that's really good in a sense. I can put my teaching on auto pilot and really concentrate on getting through to the students who may not be picking up the concepts in the same way as everyone else. It's my job, and even when it doesn't go perfectly it's not a total waste if I can use that to see ways to make it better next time. Like the hat.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Design Tips

Tip #1 would be - Do not insult an editor if you intend to submit a design.

Okay, it seems self evident, one would think. However, I had an amazingly vitriolic email from a woman writing about the 2006 calendar - and then she ends by saying she wants to submit to the 2007 calendar. WHA??

I told her I had enough designs (not really, but who needs to deal with that kind of anger?) and she wrote back
Too bad I won't be on board, as many will not know through this calendar my designing capabilities. I guess if you would have used more of the patterns submitted verses your own, you would have room for more submissions. I am real [sic] disappointed in this publication. It was not biased was it?


Apparently she was upset because yarn substitions were made in the calendar. It was - in most cases - necessary due to yarn availability, or to replace a discontinued color from a different yarn line. You can imagine what a headache this was to keep up with - especially with sketchy yarn info on some patterns - so in some cases I chose to go with a yarn I knew to be more widely available across the country. Also, for the record, I had been asked to take over the project from the previous editor in late November. That left me a big NINE weeks to compile the whole thing, so - yes - I did use a lot of my own designs. I had to - there just wasn't time to get as many submissions as I would have liked. NOT a problem this year!

Oh, well... What are folks thinking? After a week away - and some REALLY lovely classes - it's rough to come home to such an angry email. But on the positive side, I have been receiving so many submissions that my head is spinning, which is tremendous - keep them coming! But if you yell at me I probably won't use your design - just a heads up. I'm funny that way.

8 Hours in South Orange
After teaching in Connecticut, Northhampton, MA and Boston I'm back home for a few hours until I leave tomorrow for LA. I will be staying with - ta da - Laurie, and I've heard that there are some wild things doing chez Aunt Purl. If I were a little less exhausted I'd be WAAAAY excited (as it is, I'm waaay excited) and I fully intend to sleep on the plane. Woo. hoo. wo.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

This computer hates me...

I'm visiting a friend - a good friend - with a good husband, nice pets, lovely home, but her computer hates me. I won't go into it, but when I left to get coffee and returned to the computer in the middle of typing an email the page was filled with haiku-ish gobbledy gook which was eerily similar to "All work and no play makes Annie Go Nuts.."

Maybe the computer really likes me and it's trying to tell me something...

So far my trips been great - an excellent class in West Hartford at Sit & Knit, then a stay with a new friend (on a LAKE no less!) in Trumbull. She's the owner of Lula's yarn shop and after a bit of break to have 2 of the cutest baby boys you've evern seen (these kids are extraordinarily gorgeous)she's going to jump back into the yarn shop again. Staying at her home was like staying at a beautiful Inn - and, did I mention - it was on a LAKE?

Then up to Boston where I FINALLY got to meet - live and in person - Grumperina! What a thrill (and how odd to realize that I'm just a few years younger than her parents - yikes!) We sat and knitted a bit - she very kindly let me use her computer (which LIKED me - it's a mac) and then we went off to the North End to have dinner with Lissy Friedman, the copy editor for Cheaper Than Therapy (also a chance to meet a up-to-then cyber only connection!)

I'm in Northern Mass today - I'm on my way to Newberryport to visit my friend (who workes at a yarn shop!) then on to Webs this evening. This traveling without a laptop is insane, I really need to have better connection to my patterns, work, life, contacts when I'm on the road!

If you've tried to email me and I haven't been back to you, please know that in the 8 hour window when I'm back in SO I'll be in touch. Life is grand!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Catch UP, Slow DOWN

I spent the day playing catch up for lost time over the past 2 days. Add to that the need to finish the wire book manuscript and get THAT out the door to the editor and a busted printer (I am ready to re-enact the scene from Julia where Jane Fonda throws the typewriter out the window) and at 10:30 I realize I haven't packed.

Books arrived - but not the ones I was expecting - so I'll be traveling with lots of Confessions but no Therapy (damn!)

It's raining - has anyone noticed that?

I had a brainstorm to create pdf files of my handouts and post them in a file on my server, so now no matter where I am I can download them and print them if I need to. I need to figure out a good system to travel with a laptop (which is in the shop right now). I promise myself that if I sell another book I will get myself a new laptop. Life is very different than it was a year ago - I am very lucky and blessed to be stressed, as they saying goes. I will never complain about being busy, because for so long I was intimately acquainted with the alternative.

I'm jazzed to teach this week - and it's nice that I have a day between most of my classes (and a chance to visit some good friends in the Boston area - some old, and some new - a bright spot on the trip!) I'm teaching stuff I love, no classes that I'm dreading (yes, that happens sometimes...) and going to a part of the country that makes me happy. New England in the Fall - what could be better?

I was going to try to swing by Rhinebeck, but I don't think that's going to happen. Aside from the rain, I need to be in two places at one time and can't really justify the extra gas. I'm sad about that - I love Rhinebeck - but it's just too far out of the way.

I'm also pretty psyched to see Webs - I've heard a lot about it, it will be nice to visit the shop! When next you hear from me, I'll be on the road - again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cheez!

Max came downstairs this morning with the annoucement he isn't going to eat today. What he has to atone for, I have no idea, but we'll see how long this lasts (I'm betting until 10:30...)

Rain, rain, rain. Moving on...

Yesterday I attended Day 1 of the Knitting with Wire photo shoot - wow! WOW! WOW!

Bela (Bay-la - oddly my daughter's Hebrew name), the photographer, is amazing. He has a vision, it's clear and well presented, and he works well with the model (who is an intelligent collaborator in the process - she's a gem!) The art director is focused and on point - she gives excellent direction - and the processs moved very well. What a wonderful experience!

Today I return for the balance of the shots - 20 image shots and 10 atmosphere shots - which will make up the book. The Concept (capital C) is that hands will hold all of the pieces, but the pieces will not be worn in a literal sense. The earrings will be held, the necklaces wrapped around the hand, the bracelets balanced between fingers - the shots are absolutely amazing!

As I watched the process I couldn't help but wonder how many folks may be put off by this approach, and it's a consideration, but it can't be a veto of a very exciting concept. I think many, many more will be drawn into the beauty of the finished product, and will become passionate about creating these pieces themselves.

I'm struck by the photographer and art director's ability to not second guess themselves - to make a decision and stick with it - which is 99% of designing! When you get a haircut you KNOW you're in good hands when the stylist is quick and efficient - I feel the same way about this shoot.

I've attended shoots where folks are continually second guessing themselves and each other because there isn't a strong commitment to the concept. I'm practical enough to understand that concept must be tossed out the window when it's not working, but this one is - the shots so far are very compelling. I'm hoping that any comments protesting such a non-literal interpretation of the pieces will be quieted by the sheer beauty of the images.

I'm so excited to go back and see what they do today! Considering it took me 2 (TWO) hours to get home last night from SoHO (I started at the Holland Tunnel, then chose the Lincoln after 3 hour delays were reported on Rt 9 - yikes!) AND paid $27 to park my car and I'm still chomping at the bit to return and see my pieces photographed is a testament to how well this process is working - fabulous!

Oh - yeah, I'm working on Yom Kippur. One more thing for which I need to atone. Pass the bread. Well, I am officially a Methodist. We atone every day. Maybe I'll find parking today.

Mighty Mitre


Check out this amazing piece that one of my knitters is working up!! It's not yet finished - it's mitred dog blanket to toss across a car seat for travel. I wanted to cover a lot of techniques in my book, to whet folks appetites so they'll be encouraged to try new things. This is the first mitering that this knitter's done (I think...) and he's absolutely remarkable.

He's very handsome, too, so we'll definitely have to get some good shots of him. Oh, good heavens, can you tell that I'm selling out already? It must be that time spent in the photographers studio.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Eeew.

It's just disgusting outside. Rainy, floody, windy - yech.

The good news is, maybe this weather system will inspire me to create a new sweater...

The bad new is, I have to go into NYC today for a photo shoot.


Usually I LOVE going into the city - adore it! I love taking the train, love the hustle of the city, love seeing all the faces. I lived in NYC (Manhattan & Bklyn) for 16 years, and 98% of the time felt certain that I was in the right place at the right time for me. It had been my dream to move to NY ever since watching Ann Marie on That Girl (Oh, DONald!)

Then when Rhoda returned in the 70's, my fate was sealed.

But today it's just icky. Blech.

So instead of the train, I'm driving in. I feel terribly guilty doing it - I can tell how guily I feel because I keep trying to justify it. Here are my justifications thus far:

1) It's rainy.
2) I'm carrying stuff (tools, needles, finished projects - not a whole bunch of stuff, but enough!)
3) My asthma is bad today (it's weather induced - rain and cold make it miserable)
4) The subway would be a mess (okay, NOT a valid reason...)
5) Finding a cab would be impossible (see #3 as to why I don't want to run up and down subway stairs, lazy me!)

Driving in means a little more $$ - tolls into the city are about equal with the train, and then there's parking (which I'm certain I'll have to pay for - the photographer is in SoHo for heaven's sake!)

Driving also means - perhaps - a lot of waiting in traffic. It is raining (I'm not sure if I mentioned that)

But driving also means I have my own refuge.

And driving means more fossil fuels out to the world.

I'm pretty excited to see how my items will be photographed - a new experience for me! I'm sure the photographer will be asking me for my opinion on the setups, "Well, Bela, I prefer to lay the pieces on a clean bedspread or maybe, for an earthy look, on my living room floor." Ah, yes, photo chat. Not.

I've been to shoots before - heck, I've styled shoots - but this time I feel like my role will be to just stay in the background, nod, look happy and shut up. I'm good at #3, so that's what I'll use as my strength. Heaven knows the photographer doesn't need an army kibbutzing as he's setting up shots.

I contacted Namaste Needles and they sent a bunch of cool needles as props for the shoot. I haven't seen them - they went right to the editor - but she says they're great. I also sent a BUNCH of fresh wire spools, mulitple colors and gauges, and a whole bunch of beads that I used for pieces in the book. Since I'm driving I'll take my little Nuts & Bolt Drawer which I've filled with beads and wire for this book. I suppose it's better to have them with me - especially as I'll be driving!

However, the main point is that it's raining.

And now back to you, Katie...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

October is Here - BC Awareness!



My cousin sent me this - apparently it's a woman walking to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer (yea!) but it also looks like a new Superhero(ine)

SELECTRICA
Created fully formed from the brain of an IBM Selectric Correcting typewriter, traveling through time and cyberspace from one computer to another, our valient heroine spreads the word that we all can win the fight against Breast Cancer
(...and other cancers - and Heart Disease, the #1 killer of women in the US)
by living well, eating right, exercising
& funding research.


Funding research means giving money. It also means walking for the cure, and contacting your government representative to let them know that this is important to you.

You also might want to read this, and act upon it if it makes you feel frustrated.






IN DUTCH?

When I was a kid in Ohio, when someone was, in Dutch it meant they were waaaaaay big in trouble. We'd stand around like a bunch of little Amish and say, "Ummmm, you're in DUTCH!" I have no idea where this came from, but it is amazing how many negative phrases revolve around Dutch (dutch treat - both folks pay; dutch uncle - a stern critic) when they've been such an open society. Oh, well - must be jealousy. Of course, my grandmother's family was Dutch - Wolfe - but it was so long ago that it feels odd to even mention it!

In the Netherlands there also resides the fastest knitter in the world. Seriously. She has to live somewhere (and doesn't necessarily have to be a woman - that was sexist of me, sorry!) and the place is Holland. We've struck up an email correspondence over the past year - she knit my corset a few months ago. This weekend she was on Dutch TV demonstrating her own method of knitting, which seems to be a bit like Combination, but not having seen her knit in person I can't speak intelligently about it. Her name is Miriam Tegels, (sorry, MT!) and I'm so proud that she chose to wear my corset on TV - thanks, Miriam!


Speaking of the corset - two weeks from today I'll be in front of a camera in LA taping a segment on Knitty Gritty on the corset. I'll be offering an easier, simpler, less shaped version of it on the Knitty Gritty site - so stay tuned if you wanted to work this up, but felt put off by the increasing, decreasing and lace! If all goes well I will be wearing the simpler version - and yet here I am eating a piece of CAKE (what am I thinking?) for breakfast. Okay, it's angel food cake, but it's not whole wheat.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Great Classes - Traffic From Hell


My classes this weekend were wonderful - great students, excellent questions and I think folks left with a clearer understanding of how a knit stitch is made and why wrapping yarn in a different direction can change everything.

I get so jazzed when I have a great class - right now you can call me Thelonius.

In a dark counter experience, the traffic was the worst I've ever seen.

I left NJ on Friday and spent nine (NINE!) 9 hours on the road on what is usually a 3 hour trip. I felt a little like The Castaways - prepared for a 3 hour tour and ending up marooned forever. After a particularly long spell sitting in one place (for 2 - count 'em TWO hours without moving an INCH) I finally realized that I could pull my knitting out and get through some rows.

I arrived in Maryland at the lovely Jacqui's home (of Woolwinders) and there was quite a lively crowd warmed up for me. I was supposed to have dinner with them, but instead I scarfed some delicious Ziti while they continued drinking. I tried to catch up - really - but I was no match for 9 women laughing at porcelain. I can't explain. Jacqui's staff is as insane as I am, and I love that.

The class at Woolwinders the next day was exceptional - both were, actually. It's such a wonderful shop - well run and with great atmosphere. The students were clever and funny - we had a great time! I just love Jacqui's shop - I wish I lived closer!

I left Jacqui's at 6:30 this morning, but I still didn't make it to Loop Yarns in Philly until 20 minutes after I was supposed to be there. Craig is the nicest guy - what a prince! He made me feel at home, well-loved and not one bit guilty for arriving terribly late (what is WITH me and the roads this weekend?)

Although not a big shop, it's so adorable - and filled with yarns that I love! Good colors, good light, really excellent staff - and a very cute little window display (heh heh)

The students were wonderful! It was so great to meet folks I've only emailed (one of the contributors for the Crochet Calendar was in the first class - hey Mani!) Oh - by the way - the calendar WILL be to the contributors! I promise! I don't have my own yet, so it's not like any of the contributors have missed out. They're just still on the way. Bummer - but in the scheme of life a minor irritation.

To make up for my insane hair and lack of makup (the entire population of Delaware thanks me for not applying mascara as I drove through the Screen Door State) I got very silly at the class at Loop. Okay, sillier than usual. And I also got very deep. Scary.

Note to self: Don't mix humor and profundity, someone is bound to get hurt (or confused...)

Duirng one of my many trips to my car during my classes to root through my luggage for 1) A brush 2) My inahler 3) some books 4) A magazine 5) A Calendar 6 ) Perfume, I almost talked a guy into coming into the shop to learn to knit. But he turned me down. Darn.

Craig, however, is an exceptional knitter - excellent cables - and he (along with Jacqui's husband, another really great knitter - you should see the gorgeous cashmere vest he made!) will probably have a little write up in the Men Who Knit book.

I took it as a good sign that I ran into so many good male knitters this weekend. Okay, two. But they were good!

Wire Me
And now I have to go try to put some of this non-wire weekend to use by noodling around and getting a few good crochet projects worked up. The kids have off tomorrow (why even attend school in the month of October is what I'd like to know...) so I'll work late because we can ALL sleep in tomorrow. Woohoo!

Classless Shop
And no word from the owner of the shop who will not be named over the weekend. Essex Co Courthouse, here I come!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

20 Minutes to Wapner...



Guess what my feedback was about...

Gone to Dogs


I'm trying to photograph the dogs I run into wearing my sweaters as often as I can. My neighbor's dog - Cisco - is a most excellent model, so I've slapped him onto some mugs and bags - with the men who knit website, of course...

Tomorrow I go to Maryland, but first I need to nurse my poor little girl. She seems to have some kind of a flu, and I hope it's short in duration, not too uncomfortable and that she didn't get it from me (she probably did, darn!) She's watching the incredibles and drinking some juice right now.

Update on the yarn shop - still no word. I may have my first experience with Small Claims Court (which can only be a bundle of laughs in Newark, NJ - we're in Essex County) Hmm - I wonder if Judge Judy would take this case..?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Birthday Fun


My daughter and her friends, on a dragon in October

So the fun was intense, the day was gorgeous, and upon returning home mothers and daughters performed one handed cartwheels in the backyard (I watched) A great day!

I've been so busy that I've been neglecting the blog - sorry! The man/dog book is going well - just about everyone who's knitting has yarn now, I'm waiting on yarn for a few more pieces and hope to get all of that squared away before leaving next week for my long trip.

The wire book is in a state of flux - the switch from a knitting only book to a knitting/crochet book has meant that some pieces are cut, and determining which are the best ones to go is rough. For some reason I'm finding it hard to throw myself into crocheting up a few extra pieces. I generally let this stuff go until it feels right - until I feel some inspiration.

I've learned from experience that when I try to force any kind of inspiration it's a mistake. I spend so much time walking home from the awful date the bad-boy rotton idea took me on - and when I get back to my front door I inevitably find a note left by Mr-right-idea. Better to just stay at home and work up swatches.

Of course, sometimes the date isn't awful, sometimes I have fun - but I can't count on it. So now I'm sitting on my metaphorical sofa waiting for the call from the good idea. Mr. Inspiration.

I think I played too much Mystery Date (the 1960's version, not the cool 70's one) as a kid. I think I may have even played it at my 9th birthday (Hannah's favorite game is Simpson's Monopoly followed by Pretty Pretty Princess - which Max also loves to play, especially when he wins all the jewelry and dresses himself up. I'd post photos, but even I'm not that cruel of a mom.)

I've also been visited by another good friend, dear Bronchial Infection! Usually we spend a good part of every winter together, the holidays aren't the same without him. The whole family just loves him, but I'm his special friend.

Due to my new status as an insured party I have antibiotics in hand and with any luck BI will be history in a few days. I sure hope it's not the Avian Flu - I might end up in quarrentine.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Foo

So here's something that makes me a little nuts...

I teach knitting for a good part of my income - I love it, love my students, love the yarn shops - very happy and very lucky.

But sometimes things aren's so sanguine.

Right now I'm experiencing a bit of a boost from some good mentions in mags, etc., so my dance card is filled. This October I decided to book myself solid - strike while the iron is hot. Generally I like to book a full day when possible. To be crass, it's more money. If I'm going to the trouble of gassing up the PT Cruiser and driving to a shop, it makes sense to do as many classes as possible while I'm there.

I was approached in Aug to teach at a local yarn shop - just one class - and agreed. Since then I've turned down three other venues who wanted to engage me for the same day (today), but I'd already committed to a shop, so backing out was NOT an option.

Well, I thought it wasn't. Apparently it was for the yarn shop in question.

I showed up early - as I usually do - and the shop was closed. There were no hours of operation on the door, and the shop in question has no website, so I thought, "Maybe they're usually closed on Sat, but they'll come and open up for my class..."

No such luck. I phoned home and had Gerry look up past emails on my computer to make sure I hadn't mistaken the date (not the first time that would have happened...) but no, THIS is the day - and I have an email "confirming" the date and time from them to prove it.

I waited outside the door for about 1/2 hour past my scheduled class start time. All alone. I scrawled a note and slipped it under the door and left.

I have a confirming email from the shop owner, but what I don't have, though, is a signed letter of agreement from them.

I send out LOA's when a shop approaches me to teach. They look it over and if they agree to the terms they send it back - if not we discuss them and come to an agreement. The terms differ from shop to shop, but generally I ask for a set fee per hour, transportation expenses if the shop is far away, accomodation if I need to stay overnight, and I specify a date by which the shop must cancel or else they will owe me the full amount of the fee. I'm not sure how legal it is, but I feel that more important than being a punishment, it's a great tool to start a conversation with a shop over what will be required for a teaching gig.

I've just started doing this, but it's been a very good business decision as earlier in Sept I was booked at a retreat which went out of business, and the fact that I had a LOA allowed me to collect my fee.

I'm waiting to see if this shop will honor the agreement (and the LOA - even though they didn't sign it and send it back...) And I'm also starting a new policy. I will not teach at a shop unless I have a signed letter of agreement in my hot little hand.

Ah - venting is good.

And - in order not to waste the day - I stopped by another yarn shop - Modern Yarn - which is opening today. I was really happy to see a lovely collection of yarns, a great range (good wools, good price points, good cottons and hemps and silks and some very fun Japanese yarn) and two very nice proprietresses. If you're around Montclair, you should stop by (no affiliation - I just liked the shop!) While you're there, walk down the street to Beans and have a great cup of coffee.

Obviously I ended up enjoying my day quite a bit! Now back to knitting.

Dance, Goat, Dance!

Tomorrow night at 7:00 I'll be reading selections from Cheaper Than Therapy at the Dancing Goat in South Orange, NJ. C'mon by, say "Hi!" and have a chai!
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Snail Mail:
Annie Modesitt / Landy
1043 Grand Ave
PO Box 117
St. Paul, MN 55105




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