Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Something Funky with the Email

Oh, hell - I swear I don't know from day to day what's up with the email.

If you've written to me, and I haven't written back, please don't despair. I probably haven't received it. We use Verizon, which has been insanely slow lately (or perhaps it's our router...) so I'm in limbo. How low can I go? Frustrating.

I'm in the process of arranging travel for Winter and Spring gigs - I always feel that it's such a crap shoot, when to purchase tickets! I did have the happy experience of buying some tickets on Continental earlier this year, then having the price go down and getting a refund (in the form of a credit to be used on a future flight) from them. That was unexpected - and I was fortunate that I happened to be scheduling another flight so I could use the credit right away instead of letting it sit until I'd forgotten it. Which I usually do. Which most folks do -

Today I'm meeting with Jennifer Panepinto, the technical illustrator for the wire knit book. We're getting together at a Starbucks halfway between both our locations so she can see my hands knit a bit - and also just to touch base. I'm very glad - and so happy that she contacted me to get together! The art director sent me some of her artwork and it's really lovely. Sophisticated, clear and easy to follow - very nice!

And - once again - I'm ordering more books! Who knew! I'm pretty much out of both Confessions and Cheaper, just a few of each left, so back to the printer I go! I hadn't really budgeted on this until later in the Spring, but I'll take it now (thank you very much!)

I received a dog bed knit by Julie and it's absolutely stellar. Amazing. The cat won't get off of it (I stuffed it and finished it - I had asked her to send it with just a few rounds yet to do so that I could stuff it myself...) and I'm stunned by how beautifully it's knit - THANK You Julie!

I've also recently received a sort of faux lopi/fair isle and cable which was ABSOLUTELY amazing by Judy - truly gorgeous! I had to do some alteration, but that was entirely my own miscommunication and the item was knit so well!

Brian sent me a scarf and hat, then became afraid that there was some stitch discrepancy, but when it arrived it was so lovely - thanks Brian!

A nearby knitter, Kathleen, turned in a lovely silk & wool drop shoulder sweater which I put together (I love finishing, and I can do it rather quickly so why make the knitters do it - if they choose not to - when I can do it so simply!) It looks as though it's machine knit, it's so well done!

I've already mentioned the doggie blanket by Lawrence and the doggie bed by Kathy - both of them so well done- so amazing - and I like to think that in both cases the knitters learned a new trick while working up the pieces! That's the best of all worlds!

Carol from Oregon sent in perhaps the most time consuming sweater in the book - it's worked on small needles (size 4) and it's colorwork. A challenging sweater, but she did an AMAZING job (and she'll be keeping the sweater after the book is published!)

One of my favorite sweaters has been from Scott - a simple striped sleeve alpaca sweater worked in Blue Sky Alpacas. It's so soft and lovely - and very, very well knit.

Two items which were the best lessons were knit by Daniel and Cheryl. Both were lovely - well done - but because of miscommunications on my part I reworked them. To be honest, I was afraid that this would happen more often. I'm so used to working up a skeleton pattern and 'perfecting' it as I work up the sample. In the case of this book it's been a very fast education on how to present information so that it can be followed, and how to make a decision (visualize the next step) if I don't have the piece right in my hands. These are probably the pieces I learned the most from - and it's comforting to know that I have so much more to learn!

I've received "boy toys" from Adina, Cathi, Martha & Martha, with more to come! My dream is to have a boy toy for each combination of yarn used in the book. I'm still waiting for more sweaters - actually I'm off to the PO right now to check on arrival of new stuff - and can't wait to see what may be there for me!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pred

If I could have more kids I'd name the next one Prednisone.

I'm feeling better - breathing clearer than I've breathed in months. Since I chat about my asthma (at least I do a lot lately - it's been a large part of my traveling and teaching life) I feel I do owe it to those who have so kindly offered advice on medication to let you in on what I've been taking...

Advair - Yes, I do take this! For a long time I couldn't afford it, my prescription was about $200/month. At that time I applied to the drug manufacturer for the special needs help (no insurance) and was accepted for the program. But a form filled out wrong by my doctor cut me out of the program and made me start at point zero again. This is the part that the drug companies don't talk about a lot on their happy ads. They tout that they're helping low income and uninsured folks with their meds, and say how many thousands of patients they've signed up, but don't mention that the hurdles are so easy to trip over that the patients lose these benefits quite easily. At least that's what happened with me, and I wasn't allowed to reapply for a specified amount of time.

Now that I have insurance again I can get this drug, and I get it for 3 months at a time, but it still runs me about $70/month. My insurance isn't great.

I find that the advair helps, but it's not the miracle drug that it seems to be for many other asthma sufferers. Perhaps this has been because my own asthma's been so severe in the past year that I need to get back to a certain base level for the advair to really achieve it's best effect. I'm hopeful that it will help me improve this year!

Prednisone - I don't take this often - I don't even take a course of it once a year! The last time I had it was over 16 months ago because it's not the best medicine to take for several reasons. It has a strong impact on my blood pressure, makes me swell up and can make me a little jumpy and depressed. But when I weigh that against breathing, I'll take breathing!

Serevent & Flonase - I took these a few years ago, but since the advent of Advair I haven't had them.

Albuterol - In a perfect world this would be for emergencies only - and usually for me it is! But when one can't breathe, then one can't breathe. My (over) use of this med in the past few months has been a source of worry, but you can't just will yourself to stop using albuterol because you know you shouldn't. Since starting the prednisone a few days ago I've used my albuterol inhaler exactly 3 times, and not at all since Friday.

And I didn't mention the doctor's name in the earlier post - but I will now - THANK YOU NANCY!!! I am very grateful to you - thank you!

KNITTING
I've been finishing up some projects, getting things together and adding doggie versions of sweaters to men versions to send off on Monday. I received the nicest letter from the editor at Lark regarding the stuff I've sent in so far, she loves the designs and the work(wo/)manship (thanks so much knitters!!!) and they'll be photographing a few of the projects early to add to their catalog. They are as excited about this book as I am - what an excellent feeling!

I've been working up some sock patterns for the book - these are an afterthought, I hadn't planned on them - but I do want to have some doggie mutt-lucks in the book, so some socks or slipper socks for men seems like a no-brainer. The happier the editor is with the projects I've sent, the more freedom I feel to add something that I feel strongly as we near the end of the project process. What an education this whole book thing is!

Today I teach in Montclair - at Modern Yarn. My first trip back to Montclair to teach since another shop in the same town forgot they'd hired me back in October. Or didn't. Who knows what their story is this week... I've been so busy this fall I just sort of bagged on the idea of a small claim - so much effort. And I hate to feel litigious. But I hate it when shops run themselves unprofessionally (something I run into VERY infrequently!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

In The Oven

I'm loving the smell from my kitchen - oy, it's a delicious thing right now!

I love Thanksgiving. I do enjoy cooking, but I don't do it much because, well, I have a husband who's really good at it and I'm usually just gearing up into the pattern writing frenzy in the late afternoon/evening. How's that for an excuse?

Thinking it over, my mom cooked, but not as much as the traditional 50's / 60's mom. She worked out of the home, modern woman, and she had me relatively late so by the time I was old enough to remember lots of dinners she was sort of over the whole cooking thing. But she was a good cook, in the West Virginia overcook the beans and use TWO kinds of shortning with everything. Mom's friend chicken was made with Crisco, butter AND bacon grease. Is it any wonder that I'm the last one left in the family? I was always known as the 'thin one' - which, if you've seen me, explains a lot.

But on Thanksgiving it's a chance to cook with my daughter - teach her things like how to peel a potato when you can't find the peeler, how to make a custard (stir, Hannah, STIR!), what makes my grandmother's squash pie better than any Libby's pumpkin pie and how to use cheesecloth to keep the Turkey juicy between bastings.

I've just about blown my wad energy-wise, so when Gerry gets home from work (yes, he works today. The news, or whatever it is he works on, doesn't stop on Thanksgiving!) he'll take over the finishing touches. Steaming the broccoli, mashing the potatos which are boiling right now, browning the brown and serve rolls - oh, crap - I forgot the cranberry jelly! It just won't be the same without the numbers on the bottom of the round, lined gelatinous tube of glistening red. Darn.

Thankful - oh, yeah...

At one of my recent teaching gigs a woman make the comment, "I'm waiting to win the lottery so I can spend my days knitting!" And, because I'm a rabbi looking for a pulpit, I couldn't let that go by without explaining that I HAD won the lottery and that was how I am able to teach and travel and write and knit and design all day. My lottery was being rather sick for a few years, and being forced to face the march of time. Getting better wasn't the good luck - getting sick was.

The experience helped me focus on what was important (family, my passion) and understand that we have a finite amount of time. And - that in the scheme of life I am one of the luckiest people on earth. I have a home, heat, running water, a doctor when I really need one, more food than I need, and family and friends who love me. The fact that I can earn a living through my passion is more than I ever hoped for.

I am so incredibly lucky - and every day I'm very thankful!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

La Grippe

It's a chilly, cold, rainy day here in the Northeast - November.

When I left on Friday the trees in front of my house still had leaves, when I arrived home on Sunday they'd all fallen down. Driving around yesterday I saw one tree full of bright red leaves and wanted to get out of the car and hug it - convince the leaves not to fall off. I love Autumn, but it's so sad when the leaves are gone.

I have one major teaching trip left in the year - Wisconsin the first weekend in December - and aside from that all of my time will be devoted to two goals:

1) Finish the sweaters for Men Who Knit and get them into the publisher in a timely manner
2) Begin working through the MANY amazing crochet patterns I've received and start compiling the 2007 Crochet Calendar.

The deadline for the men who knit book has come up quickly, so I've pushed back my other work until late December / January. I feel a little scared to do this - it cuts in on budgeted calendar time - but I feel it's the most practical way to manage these two deadlines.

Right now I'm finishing knitting a bulky yoked sweater in an amazing new yarn from Lorna's Laces which will be out next year - I can't say much about it, but the colors are phenomenal and the fiber itself is a lot of fun to work with.

I'm also doing the finishing on a sweater knit in Summit Hill by Kraemer Yarns. It's a very nice superwash - good price point - and it's made in the USA (what a concept - love that when it happens!) I especially like the sheen of Summit Hill, I've used it to good effect for crochet and knit projects and I've been very happy with the feel and look of the yarn, even after washing.

I'm working on a pair of slipper-socks in a cool new yarn by Artyarns (also not yet available, but soon!) It's a wonderful hand painted yarn which is also self striping - lots of fun to work with and a wonderful demonstration of Iris's skill with creating complex and complementary color combinations.

I just received a few sweaters and items that require finishing (I asked some of the knitters to send garments unfinished so I could do some detail stuff at the end of the process) and I have a cool dog bed to stuff with fiberfill - woohoo!

Drew's doing an amazing job on the men's profiles - asking him to work on this book with me was the smartest thing I've done in the whole process!

One by one the projects are arriving - it's very nice to see. I haven't heard back from Lark on the package I sent last week - and of course when you hit that point between sending stuff in and hearing back every terrible thing that could go wrong crosses the mind. Maybe it's lost, maybe it's damaged, maybe they HATE the stuff and can't bring themselves to tell you or maybe it's taking a bit for them to work up a 'thanks but no thanks' letter. Oy. I think no matter what kind of success we have, there's always a bit of niggling fear that our work is not up to snuff - at least that's true for me!

WEEKEND POST MORTEM
It was a phenomenal weekend. I just love Maryland/VA area - I feel so at home there. 300 years ago my family landed in Maryland and eventually settled further West (into what would be West Virginia) so perhaps there's some kind of land memory that I feel when I'm down there. For whatever reason, I really love being there.

I taught in Leonardtown for Ellen who owns Crazy for Ewe. Sadly, I didn't get to see her shop as I arrived later than intended and left early on Sunday, but she was a pure delight! The women in the class were so accomplished, so confident and just exceptional students! Ellen arranged for us to have a delicious continental breakfast and lunch, and everyone did so well with the Cocoon Sweater class. The class itself was taught at a clubhouse which is part of Ellen's development. A beautiful building, modern and spacious, but with a federalist feeling. There was a small apartment upstairs where I stayed - very lovely and cozy - and the light in the greatroom was the best I've had while teaching! I sincerely felt that I was teaching at home, and it was delightful! I have to go back down, though, to actually visit Ellen's shop!

I arrived there late on Friday (pre-holiday weekend traffic was a bear!) and after a very homey dinner with Ellen's mom and kids I settled into my home-away-from-home. The next day was a wonderful class, and I felt so happy to just sit and knit and listen to a good book on CD Saturday evening.

When I got up Sunday I knew I had a very long drive to Rockville (90 miles), so I left at 6:30. The light off of the water by the clubhouse was stunning - a morning I wil remember for quite a while! About 20 minutes into my trip I realized that I'd left my suitcase at the clubhouse. Damn. So I drove back - more light on the water - and picked up the suitcase. I was 40 minutes behind schedule, and although I made it to my class at Woolwinders, there was no time for make-up. Brave, brave students. And always so good to see Jacqui and Lew! And always such a treat to teach to a group as loving and receptive as seems to gravitate to Woolwinders!

After Woolwinders and picking up my inhaler (see below) I rushed to Alexandria, VA to Knit Happens for two more classes. Short ones - and makeup classes for ones I'd missed 2 weeks ago when I was in DC. I'd never met Kristine, but we'd emailed and when I met her I felt I'd known her for quite a while! It's easy to see why Wendy loves this shop so much - the customers were intelligent and the classes were a joy! One student helped me schlep my bag back to my car, and I was on the road by 6:00pm for home.

I got home around 10-ish. Hannah was still up, Max was asleep, the dog and cats were thrilled to see me and Gerry never looked so good. I love getting home!

LISTENING TO THE DOCTOR
So my doctor yesterday gave me the lung lecture. I need to take better care of these babies - when I'm ill I need to rest, when I'm coughing I need to see her. She gave me my prescriptions with the admonishment, "Don't fall of the face of the earth, do you hear me?" The last time I saw her, in early October, she'd given me antibiotics and a new inhaler, but I never did a follow up visit to tell her that it wasn't working as well as she'd hoped. I think I kept hoping that it WOULD work - and I also think I used the $50 copay for an office visit as a deterrent. Not bright.

So now I'm in PJ's, I've promised my doc that I'll rest as fully as I can over the next week while I let the prednisone and new antibiotic do their stuff. I went through a bad spell of Asthma in the early 90's, but since my pregnancies it hasn't been as bad as it's been this Fall. Walking up stairs, walking to the bus stop, taking a long drink of water, even showering - these are all things that make me feel as though I'm about to run out of air. Yes, I AM showering...

You can imagine how much fun I am to be around, huh? Somehow when I teach I pull it together after the first hour or so of class - I think the breath control required to speak to a group of folks helps me regulate my breathing - and my mind is totally off of me while I'm teaching, which is wonderful!

So this is a week of rest for me. Knitting, resting, computer work and teaching one class on Sunday here in NJ. I'm not going to make myself nuts cooking on Thanksgiving, I'm not going to push myself to do anything except sleep and knit and read and answer email.

SPECIAL THANKS
And I have to give a huge shout out and THANK YOU to a student in my class at Woolwinders, in Rockville MD. She noticed how difficult my breathing was, and I also made some off-hand joke about running out of my albuteral inhaler. Apparently I'd packed my almost empty one and left the full one at home. Yikes. She offered - being a doctor - to phone a prescription into Safeway and after the class I ran over (okay, slowly walked over) and picked up my inhaler and it got me through the rest of an extended teaching weekend. I barely have words to thank her for volunteering to help me - THANK YOU!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Zzzzzzzzzzz!

I'm taking the day off after a very busy weekend of teaching and driving!

I just got back from the doctor, my lungs are in need of some prednisone and rest so I'll be sleeping, reading, and maybe even knitting a little bit this evening - but overall I'll be resting.

Damn! I didn't get my 3-D glasses for Medium tonight! Maybe when Gerry picks up my prescription from the drug store...?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

10 Out the Door!

Today I'm sending the first 10 finished projects to Lark for Men Who Knit and I'm very excited! Other projects are coming in, I feel that I have a handle on the progress of everything in the book and Drew is doing an AMAZING job compiling profiles of knittin' men (the range and variety of these guys is astounding - I just heard from the fastest knitter in the world's husband, who also knits!). Feelin' good about the book - yeah!

Getting this batch of sweaters out gives me a little breathing space, too. I need to sit down and work up buttons for future teaching dates, folks are asking what I'm doing after Wisconsin in December, and I need to tell them!

WISCONSIN
If you live in the Chicago/Southern Wisc area and would like to attend what promises to be an amazingly relaxing and restful knitting weekend, THIS may just be the retreat for you. It's the weekend after Thanksgiving, which to me seems a perfect time to take some time for yourself before the Holiday rush hits full swing. I'll be teaching there, as will Jan Becker of Kimmet Croft Fibers (www.fairyhare.com), who does the most amazing Bohus style designs, and Toni from The Fold will be teaching spinning with a drop spindle. Maybe I can finally mistress that...

Sleep
Sleep's been very hard lately, my asthma's been out of control (the humidity married with this chest cold) and I've been tossing and turning. So, upon visiting Overstock.com a few weeks ago (Love the O) I saw one of those special foam mattress toppers like the astronauts use (uh, maybe not) and I ordered it. It came last night, we spread it out on the bed and let it unfold until it was it's full thickness, then slapped that baby under our mattress pad and dived into bed.

It was AMAZING. I jumped out of bed this morning, I felt so good and without the back pain that I figured was just part of being over 40. I apologize for sounding like an infomercial - I just feel so damned good this morning. Damned good. Dammit. That's my word for the week, and I'm enjoying it. (Damn, I just looked at the photo at Overstock and we were supposed to put the pad OVER the sheets, apparently...)

When we were kids my brother used to say, "Dalmation!" to piss off our mom - she couldn't get mad at him, he wasn't saying, "Damnation!" and I thought it was hysterical. Nothing makes you laugh like your 12 year old brother when you're 10 years old.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Patterning

In one of the lists I belong to somone had asked about design education (specifically, what was each person on the lists' own formal education in design.)

In the course of my answer I pointed them to the book I'd learned flat patterning from - Pattern Making by the Flat Pattern Method (8th Edition) by Norma R. Hollen, Carolyn J. Kundel I think when I took pattern drafting in undergraduate as part of my costume shop tenure, we used the 2nd edition of this book, so I can only imagine how it's changed - hopefully improved!

And imagine how stunned I was to see the $112 price tag... Gaaak! I knew textbooks had increased in price, but I hadn't realized just how much! There are used copies to be had for $50 (a pittance) and, if memory serves, I believe I paid $20 for my copy which is long gone. Very sad.

Another book which was life changing for me was From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking (Paperback) by Denise Dreher This was the book we used in the millinery course I took in grad school. Taught by a fellow student (hi Carla!) it was one of the best classes I've ever taken, and it still resonates with me.

I adore hats, I love clothing, and I get very excited when I see how different shapes are put together. Oddly, when in Jr. High we had to take one of those, "What will you be when you grow up" skills assessment tests. I don't remember exactly what I was told I should do, but I was definitely told that I was NOT mechanically minded, could not figure out how things went together, and should avoid careers which involved building. BTW, did you know that in a costume shop the term used for physically creating the costumes is called building? We talk about building a show - meaning, constructing the costumes and costume pieces for a production. Yet another reason why I don't like skills assessment tests. Or tests in general. Life is enough of a test for me!

It's rainy today - chilly, cold - I love this weather. I know, I'm odd, but I love a nice, grey day with a cup of tea and some knitting. Hey - guess what - that's what I have in front of me!! Oh - Design Education - I have a BA from Denison U (dear old Denidoo) where I worked in the Costume Shop as my work study (the highest paid work study on campus) and my graduate degree is from Rutgers in Costume & Set Design. Or, as I call it, my $20,000 degree in folding.

MN
Speaking of chilly, I'll be heading out to Minnesota in April - it's definite! Finally cracking the midwest - first Wisconsin, now MN! It's so funny, in some areas I'll write to all of the yarn shops asking if they'd be interested in me teaching a class. Usually the response is pretty nice, but in some cases the silence is deafening. That's how it was when I recently contacted yarn shops in the Chicago area - it was as if my postcards and emails had been sucked into a black hole.

So I was very gratified when, upon accepting The Minnesota Knitters Guild's invitation to teach at their Yarnover event in April and contacting several yarn shops in the area (hi Tipper!) I heard back from almost all of them within a day or two that they'd be interested in having me teach. Life is good.

This Weekend
I'll be at Crazy for Ewe in Leonardtown, MD, then back over to the wonderful Woolwinders in Rockville (their new computer is fantastic, so they say...) and I'll round out my weekend by making up my classes that I had to cancel due to illness several weeks ago at Knit Happens in Alexandria, VA.

More driving in the Autumn - Mmmmmm!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Finishing, fininshing

Are you finished?
No, Scots & French, actually... And Dutch.


It doesn't take a lot to make me laugh.

The sweaters are arriving thick and fast, which means a good amount of tweaking is creeping up on me quicker than I'd realized. This week the kids have school EVERY DAY, which is a minor miracle for NJ schools in November. Woohoo! That means I may actually GET WORK DONE as opposed to playing with the kids.

TO FINISH TODAY - Crocheted circular lace thingie. Similar to VK shrug in construction, but it's crocheted. And it's lace. And it's not for VK.

Sew zippers into Dog Carrier Bag - this has been on my table for weeks. Okay, I don't like zippers any more than the next person. Unless the next person is Carol Duval (hi Laurie!) Did you know I used to watch her on a Detroit TV show when I was a kid - could that be the same Carol Duval?

Sew zipper into man's alpaca pullover - one of my male knitters worked this up and it's just scrumptious! The yarn is from Blue Sky Alpacas and it's soft as buttah (I tells ya) - this is an amazing sweater - and an excellent thing to do on a November day.

That's all I'll ask of myself today. I'll feel very happy if I get that far!

An AMAZING sweater arrived yesterday, but there are some problems (not the knitters fault - design things I MUST change at this point) so I'll be dissecting parts of the sweater and re-knitting them. It makes my life hellish, but the sweater needs a bit of a change. I'm going to put that off until tomorrow when I have an entire kid-free day to concentrate on it.

This week a new book proposal goes into a meeting to determine if it will live or be passed along to the next victim - er - publisher. If it happens it will be a pretty book, and we all like pretty things, n'est ce pas?

And, just because my daughter has discovered pig latin and insists on speaking it at every meal (hi Lawrence!), here is my favorite discovery of the month. You've probably all known about this for a long time, but it made me laugh a lot.

See, I told you it didn't take much...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wind

Today is one of those incredibly windy November days that are designed to blow every last remaining leaf off of the branches and ruin good, hardworking rakers labors. I haven't raked, yet, so I'm enjoying the force of the wind!

We all went for a walk today - me, the kids and Atticus - windy, blowy, sunny day! And then back home for soup. I was going to take them to see Wallace & Grommit, but instead they have an impromptu playdate with some friends (we can do the movie tomorrow - maybe it will rain and we'll need an indoor activity!)

For me, the afternoon with be knitting and assembling pieces for men who knit which have arrived with little tweaks required (I asked some of the knitters to send in pieces a bit unfinished so I could do that part). Zippers to sew, mostly. I also just found out I'll have a few pieces in Summer IK and the next IK Crochet, so there are patterns to write up for that, too! Work is good.

And I have an essay to expand - well, it IS expanded, but I need to make it work better.

Did anyone happen to watch Trading Spouses last night? That is my guilty pleasure, and it was extremely gratifying last night. Demon OUT!. Between that and the 2 hour Amazing Race on Tuesday, I'm just a flutter. And all of that angst makes me knit faster!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dance Card

The whole concept of a dance card has been disturbing to me since I watched Meet Me In St. Louis with my mom on the Bill Kennedy movie (channel 50) out of Detroit one Sunday afternoon. I love the movie - it's one of my all time favorites - but it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the whole Dance Card thing at the Christmas Dance at the end of the movie. Poor Esther.

I was not a popular kid - I cried easily, I was waaaay too tall, had red hair and was a bit on the zaftig side, so I knew my dance card would be nothing but empty lines. I knew instinctively that if I didn't want to spend the evening in the bathroom crying I'd have to approach the guys myself. That's probably why I skipped my prom. But that's another story. The idea that - upon his request - you would present a card for a man to look at and see just who you had agreed to dance with before and after him just seemed - well - both precious and too binding. Too much room for judgement, not enough room for just DANCING. I guess that was the point, though - not to let anything get too far out of hand.

My own hands are very full right now, and it makes me very happy. I heard an essay on Joy on the radio yesterday - the point was that joy is different from happiness in that it transcends reason. In the worst of situations there can be joy - that's why I like the movie Life is Beautiful so much. In the midsts of the worst pain, life still has the power to stop our breath with it's beauty.

I am relying more and more on my calendar to schedule things, and less on the whim of my knitting soul. This is good - and keeping notes is even better! What I lose in spontenaity, I make up for in sanity. I'm my own little personal assistant. When I look at the next 6 months or so, and see weekends filling up and trips planning themselves, I almost feel as though I'm watching someone else's life unfolding. The reality of getting on a plane, flying to a new town, renting a car, driving to a venue, teaching a class is so much different than the imagining! I love it, it's generally a lot of fun, but it's always so different from what I would have expected. Maybe that's because I try hard not to have set expectations about anything - but who can really do that?

I'll finally be going to Minnesota!! Woohoo!! I've been asked out by the Minnesota Knitters Guild for an event in late April, and I'm officially looking for teaching gigs the week of April 24th, 2006 in MN. Any takers? Anone like to sign my dance card?

I'll also be in San Diego for TNNA in January, and while I"m out there if there are any shops or guilds that would like me to come and teach (the week of 1/24/06) or give a lecture, I'd love to know about it!

Coming up sooner that than, I'll be in Wisconsin in early December for what will certainly be a wonderfully restful and exciting knitting weekend at the Heartland Knitting Retreat. It's not far from Chicago - and the timing is so perfect! Who couldn't use a weekend to themselves in the midsts of the holiday madness? I think it may just be a way to reclaim the holiday season and focus on what's important: friends, peace, introspection and honing our craft!

I have this weekend off - a private group cancelled, and a calendar fluke with another yarn shop have left it open - and I am in heaven! The kids have off Thurs and Fri, so we'll get to spend some really good time together, I have projects I need to finish for the Men Who Knit book.

Dear Knitting, I missed you so! I'll be back to spend a weekend with you - just you and me - together at last! Ah, life is good. And I'll bring a new friend - sewing machine - to our party. Zippers and velcro will be added to felted objects, but my heart belongs to you alone, dear knitting!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Driving in the Fall

I love the Fall - it's my favorite season! And I love driving. Vrooom. I miss my mother when I drive, because she was such a good driver. Driving in the Fall is amazing - going away and teaching for the weekend is almost like a mini holiday. Except that I'm working.

Friday I taught at the Point - which was swell and great and I hope I get to go back soon!!

Saturday I drove up to Westport, CT to teach at Knitting Central - a really beautiful shop with extraordinary luxury yarns (LOVE the selection of beaded fringe you can buy by the yard to finish off scarves!) Cynthia made me feel at home, the students (13!) were all quite good, and it was a very enjoyable class. The break in the middle of the class for a Starbucks run was also greatly appreciated!! Pumpkin latte - Fall - yippee! A fellow student and I commiserated that when the Pumpkin latte season is over we cry.

Then after class I rushed to Bridgeport and caught the Port Jeff Ferry to Long Island. It was $41, but it saved me over 80 miles of driving in NY area traffic, so it was WELL worth it! At the start of the trip I sat on the deck and knitted - the moon was a perfect crescent, the air was chilly but not freezing. As we headed into the Sound, though, it got a little breezy for me so I headed inside and knit while sipping another cup of coffee (sorry Drew...) knitting, listening to Charlie Wilson's War on my mpg player. Intruige, caffine and knitting - what could be better?

My nightmare scenario did not come true, the boat docked and the trip was not a reinactment of The Perfect Storm. I guess I was being a little dramatic.

Then on to the outer reaches of Long Island - to Greenport (where one catches the ferry to Shelter Island) to stay at Christine's very homey cabin over night before teaching at Now & Zen Fiber Arts. It was an intimate class - a great group of women - and we had a delightful day working through first the Cocoon sweater, then the lace pattern for the Corset. I left around 4:30 - and finally pulled into my driveway at 8:00 - for some hearty hugging and tucking in.

The amazing drive was made even more amazing by my car. I love my car. Mwa! It's so cute - so purple - and it has a sun roof! I hadn't thought much of that in the summer, when I was hot and didn't want the sun to beat down on me. But now that it's Fall a little sunlight is wonderful - and peeking up into the October blue sky, catching a few errant leaves as they scoot into my passenger seat - THAT is a great, fun way to travel! And - it may just be me - but I think folks like seeing the car. I have a MUCH easier time easing into traffic in this car - I think it's because folks are inclined to let the cute car go in front of the. Or maybe I'm just projecting - but I'm having a great time in the PT Cruiser (Puddin'). My mother would have LOVED this car.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Rip Van Knitter

I feel so often like so much of the knitting world passed me by during my 10 years of self imposed hiatus from the craft. Even now, I am at a loss about many of the yarn shops in NYC (of course, I could get my butt into Manhattan once in a while - naaaah, that's too much work...)

Last night I met a new shop - The Point in NoHo/Village area at 37A Bedford in NYC. What a great shop! It's small - what shop in NYC isn't - but it's amazingly well stocked and the yarn is handled very intelligently. Helane, who owns the shop, is very nice - as is her staff - really wonderful folks! I got there early and watched many interactions with customers and they were always so polite and helpful - excellent!

There's food there, too. Cupcakes and cookies and sodas. Arrrrghtlghrhkladopiuerpadoijfdlkjflhg.... (what is the sound of drool?)

I taugth the VK Cocoon sweater to a large class and it was so much fun! The students were adventurous, eager, positive - just wonderful folks! We all had a great time - I know I did - and I got a free cookie. It takes so little to make me happy.

Today I drive up to Westport to teach the same class, then I take the Ferry to LI to Now & Zen to teach, yes, the Cocoon again AND the corset. Then home. I'm looking forward to the classes, but I'm REALLY looking foward to the Ferry!! It's supposed to be a warm, beautiful evening - perfect for a ride across the sound. Get me, I'm J. Gatsby!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Out the Door


In the past few weeks while I've been traveling and teaching I've also been working on a new sweater for IK (Spring, I think...) - a very simple sweater with some i-cord details (edging, bind off for the neck and i-cord ties)

It felt so good last night to do a final block on it, wrap it up and send it to the Post Office - yahoo!!

Having a project leave my hands is like opening a new page in a sketchbook - my world is open (albeit briefly) to do whatever I want to do. In the short period between the time one project leaves and I remind myself of the other projects I have to do, I find that I get a lot of good ideas.

I've been asked a lot lately if I ever knit for myself - and the answer is, recently (and sadly) no. I haven't done much for my kids, my husband, myself - although Atticus will benefit from at least one of the sweaters I've worked up for Men Who Knit.

I think of this as a sort of King Midas Syndrome. I've turned what I love (knitting & designing) into gold (mortgage) and it's hard to ever love it in the same way. Although, unlike King Midas, everything I touch does NOT turn to gold, which is a great joy. But since I make my living doing something that I used to do simply to make myself happy, it would be easy to assume that the knitting has become drudgery.

In part that is a bit true. There are times when I'd rather do anything but pick up needles ad work a few more rows, but with a deadline looming it's imperative that I finish a back/front/sweater/hat in due time. Those times are few and far between, though - they are unusual days.

Generally I love to pick up the knitting, no matter what I'm working on. I try not to overschedule so that I'm not up to the wall busy on a regular basis (although this Fall has been nothing BUT deadlines) and giving myself a little leeway works wonders to keep me 'in love' with my yarn. I also find that switching from knitting to teaching to writing to designing to crochet keeps my mind active. If I did nothing but knit up my sweaters on deadline day after day I'd probably be a little less sanguine about the whole thing.

The biggest hint that I'm in the right line of work for me, though, is that even after finishing a sweater and teaching a few classes over the weekend, I find myself itching to knit something - and will often volunteer to show someone a new technique if it seems appropriate to their current project. Maybe instead of King Midas it's more of a Rumplestiltskin thing? Does anyone know of a good fairy tale where the hero(ine) knits? In that tale about the sister and her seven brothers, did she knit them the shirts to turn them from swans to men? The best thing about a blog is that someone will know this, and will tell me!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Butter & Jam


Finally it's ready for public consumption! And this time, with the help of Iris from Artyarns and a sample knitter and excellent pattern checker, I feel pretty secure that it's relatively error-free. Love that word, relatively. Mwa!

I'll have the pattern up soon - it's an intermediate/advanced knit, but it's pretty satisfying and makes a nice multi-seasonal project which can be worked up in any worsted weight yarn (I used Artyarns Ultramerino 6 - which is a dream to work with - but this would be excellent in a nice cotton, too!)

Like Balto traversing the Alaska wilderness, doggie and men sweaters continue to find their way to my home. There's a statue of Balto in Central Park (actually, the last time I was there with the kids some guy kept insisting that it was really Balto's Mother, but he wasn't wearing a Ranger's Hat so I didn't quite trust what he was saying...)

I have this fantasy of throwing one of the doggie sweaters up on the bronze Balto and photographing it for the book. Hmmm - today would be a good day for that (but I'm far, far too busy - ) However, I will be in NYC on Friday evening to teach at The Point, so maybe I'll go in early with some doggie stuff and see my fantasy realized. Maybe the weather will be as exceptional as it is today!

Anyone else know of any good doggie statues?

Sew?
I dropped my Kenmore sewing machine a few months ago. It broke into a thousand pieces - unsalvagable - and I chose to just move on and mourn later. Actually, for a cheap-o machine, it was very good - I chose it because I could afford it, but it did yeoman service for me for 13 years.

Yesterday I returned to Sears and picked up another Kenmore. I shopped and looked and did the online comparisons. I had my eye on an Elna and a Husquevarna, but when push came to shove the cheap gene took the day. The amount of sewing I do these days is minimal, but I NEED the machine for things like steeking, lining, and making slip covers. I'm not really doing heavy duty couture work or any tailoring.

I saw the machine I liked at Sears - not the bottom of the line, but not the full bells and whistles model, either. It was actually last year's model and they have a new, swanky replacement for 2006.

This means that dear old 2005 was on sale ($40 off!) and they only had the floor model left, which I bought. Yes, I have no manual, but I really don't need one as it's a virtual remake of my last machine (just a bit jet-settier looking) And, being a floor model, I got a further 30% off. Total damage - $103.00. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Golden Day

I feel much better today. Still have residual cold-ness, but with weather like this, who could feel bad for long?

Last night was Halloween - Gerry took the kids around and I manned the front porch (knitting, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea and handing out goodies to tiny Ninjas and Princesses - the most wonderful night!) Hannah was a pirate and Max was a "Dead Bridegroom" - very odd choice - and even more odd when the little girl he has a MAJOR crush on showed up as the first trick or treater as a "Dead Bride". Note - these kids do NOT go to school together, but perhaps Max got wind of her costume somehow.

I think Max had visions of an impromptu Trick or Treating "Date" - but his hopes were dashed when his intended announced that she'd rather go begging for candy alone. (alone meant with dad standing on the sidewalk in front of every house she visited.) While I questioned her taste, I had to admire her moxie. Max stood on the front porch and watched his ghost bride melt away in the South Orange twilight.

The sweaters are starting to arrive from the Men Who Knit knitters - this whole experience is SUCH an education! I've learned so much about writing a pattern, making instructions clear and keeping communication open with knitters. The latter has been very hard with all of my traveling, but now I'm home for an extended period (with the exception of weekends away) and - even with my head cold and an afternoon nap - the amount I was able to get done yesterday made me feel a little less tense about the MWK book.

Without fail everything that arrives is beautifully knit - and if there's a problem it's 99% my own in not explaining a procedure thoroughly. If you've knit for me and I haven't been back to you personally, please know that I will soon - it's a matter of wading through the items one at a time so I can keep things clear in my mind. I will write to you soon with a personal thank you (and your payment!)

Up until now I pretty much knit all my own samples - and would therefore double check my own patterns. You can see how incestuous this becomes. Bringing another person in as a knitter not only frees me from the knitting, but allows me to understand how another mind might work my patterns through. It helps me understand that what may be obvious to me is not obvious to others.

I dream of a word-less pattern. A pattern that is Ikea-like in it's simplicity, with illustrations instead of words and charts and graphs. A pattern that would transcend language and culture differences, and allow knitters to come together as one and knit a sweater that fits (music swells) ...

Perhaps I've been sleeping TOO much.
Red Carpet Convertible
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Annie Modesitt / Landy
1043 Grand Ave
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