Sunday, April 30, 2006

Yarn Me Over

Jeeze Louise what a day!

The Yarn Over Event is in it's 20th year, and I am astounded at the work that the guild put into it! Shelley Hermanson and all of the other Guild folks worked like Amish at a barn raising to make an event that was well planned, effiicent and a butt-load of fun!

So much great stuff in one day - so many really fun and excited students - a chance to reconnect with Melissa Leapman (she's such a dear) and spend some time getting to know Lucy Neatby (who I hadn't really "met" before, although I'd taken classes and admire her work so much!) Then there were the vendors (beautiful yarns, buttons, beads, patterns, SOAP and exquisite pottery*

My classes were LARGE - I was afraid that there wouldn't be enough seating for all of the students in the combo class, but as the other teachers and I compared notes at dinner last night we realized that this was a joyful experience because the students were all SO EXCEPTIONAL! They "got it" right away, even the ones who took an extra bit of time weren't slow (not by any means!) but just a little more deliberate in their thinking.

This is the kind of student every teacher loves - someone who's open to new things, will jump in and try stuff, and is ready to go along for a wild ride. We don't necessarily want a class of expert knitters (heaven help us!) but a class of folks who are eager and engaged and full of knitting curiosity. I had TWO of those classes yesterday, and I am the luckiest teacher in the world!

By the end of the Cable class it was obvious that EVERYONE could use a nap. I used to push, push, push my students right up to the last minute of the class, but I've begun to realize that sometimes discretion is the better part of educating. When folks are full up of info, their heads are spinning (and exploding) and they just want to have a cup of coffee or a nap, you can undo a lot of what you've done by pushing them into one more knitting calesthentic. A long and hard lesson for me to learn, but it's sinking in. It's refreshing that I have so much to learn, too!

Today my search for a cheap flop house continues (not really, just inexpensive with wireless internet in a not-scary neighborhood). I have my eye on a motel in St. Louis Park, and that will give me a chance to visit THAT neighborhood.

I may drop in to a knitting session later today at Borealis Yarns and - I'm not kidding - look at REAL ESTATE. [Gerry - I know you read this - here are two links: Minnesota Jobs and Craig's List MN Jobs

I mentioned in my classes that I wanted to move here, and talked about my husband and what a great guy he was (low key, funny, not a show-off, very good at what he does, kind) and someone said, "Is he from Minnesota?" I do hate the stereotype that NY area folks aren't nice - we're VERY nice - but there are SO MANY of us that you can't help but get frustrated and lose your cool sometimes. That may be what folks see and remember when they visit NY and NJ, which is sad. But folks here ARE very nice - everyone I've met is very welcoming - and that's a refreshing thing.

Did I mention that I am LOVING this place. And it's raining so my breathing is sub-excellent, but I still love it. I asked in my class should I move to St. Paul or Minneapolis and the strong vocal vote was for St. Paul. But after class a woman came up and quietly said, "You know, those ladies were from St. Paul. It's nice, but Minneapolis is nice, too... You'd like Minneapolis."

Last night the Guild took the teachers out to dinner - a quiet spot in a comfortable, sports-bar-ish family restaurant with a prom party going on. The kids were so cute in their prom clothes, and it was LIGHT YEARS different than what prom dinners have become in NJ. I never went to prom, but I know that our own school's experience was very low key compared to the expensive big deal that proms tend to be in NJ and NY.

I had a beer (!) and a filet mignon sandwhich (new experience for me) and was so happy and full and content! Lucy Neatby and I talked about our kids, Charlotte Quiggle and I talked about our parallel past lives as Time Inc., employees and our shared friends, and I relaxed. I realized as I finished my sandwhich that between the exhaustion and beer I'd better get myself back to the hotel while I was still awake enough to drive, and even found a short cut on the way back. (That was the PT Cruiser magic.)


*Sheep, spindle, nature and yarn themed pottery by Jennie Lanners (she doesn't have a website, but she is WORTH seeking out! - if you email me I'll send you her email address and she'll be at the Shepherds Harvest fair May 13 & 14. I love nice pottery, I usually buy a piece - but her stuff was just stunning! She'd sold out of the mug I wanted, so I'll be ordering from her when I get home (that way I won't break the mug on the way home, which is a GREAT possibility!

Friday, April 28, 2006

LOVING Minnesota!

I arrived in a rainstorm, and was REALLY not looking forward to the hike to the baggage claim, the struggle with the bags to the rental car bus, the long wait - soggy - at the rental car place and a less-than-friendly counter person giving me a sub-standard car. But I'd steeled myself and I was ready for the cr*p attached to travel and rental car stuff.

BUT THEN I ARRIVED IN MINNESOTA!

As we flew into Minneapolis (the flight was lovely, by the way, I had a whole row to myself - SPREAD out and crocheted while listening to Wicked on mp3) I looked down and saw LAKES - it looked like hundreds of them - all over the place! Water, water, water! I loved this little lake with the ball field in front of it.

As I got off the plane I saw one of those "Smart Cart" rental things, which I feel are a rip-off until I realize 30 feet later that I'd gladly pay $5 to put down my bags. So I spent the $3.00, knowing that as soon as I found the rental car bus I'd have to leave my little cart behind.

But, happily, I was able to wheel my cart all the way to the luggage carousel - where (guess what?) my bags were WAITING for me. I packed them onto the cart and headed off to find the bus. The rental car bus is my least favorite part of flying.

But - there is no rental car bus at this airport!!!

You take the tram (WITH the smart cart) over to the garage, then take the elevator up to the car rental floor. So civilized. Gerry pointed out to me that they know how to deal with cold weather here.

This time I got the collision insurance. Yes, I'd be covered on my NJ policy if I had another fender bender, but to forego the headache is worth $70. When the woman who waked me to my car heard that I loved PT Cruisers, look what she gave me!


Am I in heaven, or what? Free upgrade - woohoo! Then I drove to Shelley Hermanson's house - she's arranging the Yarn Over Event and I had some books shipped to her house.

Actually, I meant to have 100 books shipped from my printer because I went to press a few weeks ago and it seemed stupid to pay to have 100 books sent to me, then have me turn around and send them right back to Minnesota. Unfortunately my printer made a mistake and instead of sending 50 books to Rochester, 100 books to Buffalo, 100 books to Minneapolis and the rest to me, they sent the correct number to Rochester and Buffalo, but the ENTIRE balance (500 books) to Minneapolis.

You can imagine the email I got from Shelley - but she was very wonderful about it (and dragged EVERY FRIGGIN' BOX into her house so they wouldn't get wet...) The printer sent UPS over the next day to pick up all but 100 of the books and send them back to me. That's what's in the back of the PT Cruiser, the 100 books that were left at Shelley's house. I sure hope I sell them, I don't want to drag them home! Shelley and I sat a bit, gabbed, but I was feeling really tired and wanted to get to the hotel and veg out.

Driving from Shelley's to the hotel I took all backroads - stayed off of the highways (they're S L O W out here when it rains) and saw SO much magnificent architecture. It's no secret that my favorite style of home is a Bungalow - it's my dream to someday own one and I passed so many stout, sturdy, well balanced homes on the way here it was all I could do not to stop the car and run like Margaret O'Brien up the front steps of one.

After I checked in I went out to find a sandwich - and wandered into a joint called "Maverick" where I got an AMAZING pulled pork sandwich. Heaven on a bun. So how happy can one woman be, huh? Tomorrow I need to be at the Yarn Over at 7:30 am - but I have cable (woo hoo!) and an evening of terrific movies, lots of good knitting and some pattern writing to get through! All that's missing are the kids and husband {sigh}

Of course I called Gerry immediately and told him he had to FIND A JOB IN MINNESOTA. I could love this place.

I do love this place.

Oh - the interview yesterday was really fun! I had a great time, I got to show off South Orange (I love you, South Orange, I won't forsake you too easily...) and now I live in fear until the photos come out.

Here's a snapshot taken last week by the other photographer who came to visit (actually, Sabrina took this shot of me with my dopey little mini cam) Que pense? It's not too obvious that I, ahem, whitened my teeth a bit, huh?

My Bags Are Packed...

Hannah's decided that I'm really a secret agent, and that my cover is as knitting teacher. Not a bad story, huh?

The kids are bummed that I'm going again, but this time for only a week. I'm out to Minnesota today and I'm SO excited! I'll be teaching at the Yarn Over event - which promises to be a crowded, exciting and fiber filled event. Better take my metamusal.

After that I have a day off when I'll be walking by the river so I can re-enact the opening of the MTM show. No one's ever done that, huh? then I teach on Monday, Tues & Wed. There are STILL A FEW SPACES AVAILABLE in some of my classes, so if you got closed out of one class, see the list below! And I promise that if you can KNIT and PURL, you CAN DO LACE!!

Minnesota Knitting Guild Yarn Over Event
Arlington Senior High School, 1495 Rice Street, St. Paul, MN 55117

Combination Knitting - SOLD OUT
Saturday, 4/29/2006, 9 o'clock (3 hour class)

Cable Mania (Look Mom, No Needle!) - almost SOLD OUT
Saturday, 4/29/2006, 1 o'clock (3 hour class)

Yarnzilla
6020 Blue Circle Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343 952-936-0030

Combination Knitting - SOLD OUT
Monday, 5/1/2006, 10 o'clock (2 hour class)

Cable Mania (Look Mom, No Needle!) - SOLD OUT
Monday, 5/1/2006, 12:30 (2 hour class)

New Directions in Knitting With Color - SOLD OUT
Monday, 5/1/2006, 2:30 o'clock (2 hour class)

Creative Fibers Inc.
5416 Penn Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55419 - (612) 927-8307

Love your Lace! - SPACES AVAILABLE
Tuesday, 5/2/2006, 6:30 pm o'clock (3 hour class)

New Directions in Knitting With Color - almost SOLD OUT
Wednesday, 5/3/2006, 6:30 pm o'clock (3 hour class)


I'm really looking forward to meeting a lot of great knitters, having some coffee and maybe a hot dish. I'll bring my own corning ware dish with my name in masking tape on the bottom...

I'm getting near to being late for the flight, so I'll write at length later about my most excellent adventure yesterday with the writer and photographer - lots of fun and chance to sit outside in the hammock, could life be better? Oh - two words - Walnut Babka!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Taking my Dutch out for a Walk

Tomorrow I have company coming over, so instead of cleaning the house, like any sane person, I went to home depot and spent $90 on soil, plants and a shovel so I can make MORE of a mess. "Hi, I'm Annie, won't you come into my messy house after spending exactly 30 seconds on my front porch?"

I'm going to make the woman do the interview on the porch or in the back yard so I can bask in the half planted pansies.

I usually don't shop at Home Depot for my plants - I feel a need to support our local nursery (used to be Pierson's Mill, now it's just "The Mill" - upscale, n'est ce pas?) but after two trips there so far this spring, walking away with a flat of plants, some gloves and a $70 receipt, I knew that for the volume of dirt (we have clay dirt, I have to mix a lot of peat with it. I sound like I know what I'm talking about, huh?) I'd have to hit home depot or take out a second mortgage.

The gazebo I was so proud of last year was destroyed by a blizzard (the snow piled up on the roof, froze, and the huge chunk of ice weight down the roof and collapsed the gazebo. The gazebo is dead; long live the gazebo...

So Gerry saw one at Sears (where America shops for Gazingoes) and bought it. He put it on my credit card (yes, we have separate cards and accounts, part of why we're so happily married!) and it was quite a surprise to return home from Canada and find a $300 charge for who knew what at Sears. I thought, "Oh! A Mother's Day Gift!" - but it's just the gazingo, which is a kind of MD Gift (if he puts it up.) Yes, I know it's gazebo, I like to call them gazingoes.

Perhaps I can put off the house cleaning if I go get a manicure (after all, my hands HAVE to look good for the photographer. Did I mention a photographer is coming? Maybe he can do a portrait of my dust bunnies...) The timing is really good, because I need to have two shots taken for my books (you know, the tweed jacket with elbow patches shot on the inside back cover?) I tried to get either of my editors to agree to use my drivers licence photo, but no go.

So I have to get my Dutch on, as it were, and sweep the porch (and the rest of the house) like the woman on the Dutch Cleanser label.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Prepping for Minnesota

I'm getting my stuff together for Minneapolis, and I'm getting excited! Although I need to fly - and I hate to fly - I'm so excited about finally making it to the mini-apple!

I worked through a few deadline projects yesterday - hooray - and I'm feeling pretty fabulous! I also visited the doc and was told that apparently the meds I'm on for COPD can cause increased chance of infection (a little counter productive, no?) so that's what I've been fighting through for the past weeks - my body trying to get infected and my brain saying, "NO WAY!"

The body won.

So back onto antibiotics plus a course of steroids so I'm in tip top shape for my next round of teaching. And, for good measure, my doc thinks that I should start taking Allegra D, but I'm thinking twice about that (so many drugs, so little time...)

My neighbor is moving at the end of the month, and we're rather sad. She has two adorable boys who play with Max and Hannah, but the good news is that she's only going 3 blocks away (to her dream house - which is currently in the nightmare stage for her - pre-moving angst) and our kids will be going to summer camp together, so we'll see lots of each other. I actually haven't seen as much of my friends locally lately due to my intense travel schedule and more intense calendar work when I HAVE been home - I'm hoping that as the days lengthen I'll get more done (ha!) and have more time to hang with some friends in the neighborhood.

We have a pretty stellar block - very nice folks, trees, shade - just lovely. I know that one day I'll move from South Orange, but it will be a very sad day for me! Every time I travel and return home Gerry says, "So, should we move to _______?" - he's in escape mode. He wants to escape from the high property taxes in NJ in general, and South Orange specifically (we pay more in taxes than in mortgage) and I think he just wants to escape from NY a bit, too. Me, I'd be happy just about anywhere - and I'm fortunate to have work that I can do just about anywhere! I must say that Buffalo was pretty appealing...

Resolution
I've received a lot of emails asking about resolution, as well as a few comments, so here it is. You can draw whatever conclusions you like from this - but for my money a picture (of a check) is worth 1,000 words.

Funny
And, with thanks to Rachel Maddow, here's something that made me snort my tea this morning because I was laughing so hard when I heard it on Air America!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Batching

Was there ever a more beautiful word than batching?

Batching is the word for automatically altering a group - or batch - of images in Photoshop. The fact that I'm batching means that THE CALENDAR IS FINISHED and I'm doing the last step of making sure all of the images have been converted to CMYK instead of RGB (printed matter needs to be 4/Color - CYMK, but computer images are usually RGB - Red Green Blue)

Ah, I'm getting positively nostalgic for my Pocket Pal - the book of print production that I used to have to carry around for my color Ok's.

But as of 2:30 today all the dates of the calendar are filled and finished. As soon as I batch all of the images I'll burn the year onto disks and FedEx this bad boy out to the publisher (and good riddance!) The sound you are hearing is of a gigantic boulder being lifted from my shoulders as I write.

And - I swear this is true - at the moment I finished the sky outside went from stormy grey (thunder - the whole nine yards) to bright and beautiful sunny Spring day. The angels are happy that the calendar is finished, too (too bad I have a knee-jerk reaction against many angels...)

But work is - quite literally - stacked up all around me, so don't worry about me being bored or anything...

DOGS
I have to re-do an item for Men Who Knit and send a package back to the publisher

SHIPPING
I have BOXES waiting for their trip to the Post Office. Big, heavy boxes. "Honey..."

ROMANCE
Yarns have been arriving and I'm just dreadfully behind in my assigning. I'm thinking, since my editor's been really, really busy and too stressed to look over my Grand Table Of Designs this is probably alright.

MAGS
I have three projects I need to finish up for a couple of magazines - a hat (milinery!), a skirt (crochet!) and something else that has totally slipped my mind. Eeeeek!

TEACHING
I need to prepare for my classes out in Minnesota. I'm really excited to go out there - I've never been before! I've had friends from Minnesota, and some folks I know have moved TO Minnesota, but I, myself, have never been.

STRESS, WORK & FINDING MY WAY
And this is why I haven't been blogging as constantly as I'd like. I promise that now the calendar is soon to be bye-bye I'll feel much less stressed. Stress is a killer, and not least of all because - at least in my case - stress really EATS time up!

If I can approach something in my own time, in my own way, maybe doing a little bit now, then some later, then some when the spirit moves me, I get an amazing amount of work done. As a matter of fact, I'd hazard a guess that one of the reasons I can be so productive is because I give myself permission to approach my tasks in my own way and in my own time.

When I'm locked into a different way of doing things (a schedule, a different system, etc.) it can sometimes stress me to the point where it takes me longer to get less work done. This sounds like a cop out (let me just do it my way or I'll take longer...) but I've come to see - at least with me - that this is indeed true in my work habits.

My own preferred way to work is to have several tasks going on at once. I like jumping from one thing to another, when I get bored, frustrated or have reached an impasse it's nice to have a different direction to focus my attention. If I'm stuck on the desert island the-current-odious-project, and have no way to escape for even a brief moment, I get depressed. I try to create fire, perform some self dentistry, make a radio out of two coconuts and a banana peel... But I digress...

So even though the calendar has been - at times - an annoyance, it's also been a fun and exciting project, and I'm grateful for the chance to be able to do it. It's also been a benchmark for me - I've been able to see exactly how much more exhausted I am this year compared to last (the marathon work sessions at my computer are not possible these days) and I'm hopeful that as summer comes my breathing will get better and better - more air = more energy!

I've always said that everyone should teach SOMETHING at least once. It will help you be a better student, and will help you understand your subject better than you ever dreamed! I now add to that, every designer should have to edit a collection of designs at some point. It's educational, enlightening, and I have more sympathy for editors I've worked with than I ever thought possible. All the same, though, I'm glad to be returning to my own moccasins - or in my case, my own hillbilly bare feet!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Off The Hook

Yesterday was big doings around here - boxes arrived, visitors came by and I started a new project!

V
does anyone remember that show, V, about the visitors?

Sabrina from Knit Knit came by with her photographer (I'm such a spaz - I've forgotten her name and she was so lovely!) and we chatted and took some photos. I'd cleaned the house - but also wanted it to be cheerfully messy with yarn - a fine line to walk.

What wasn't cheerful was the headless squirrel on our front porch. Apparently the kids didn't feel it merited comment as they stepped over it to the bus (with the cat we have they're practically farm kids now...) I saw it just moments before Sabrina showed up. Now THAT would have made a lovely photo for the book, huh? Ah, Spring is here...

During the interview the phone kept ringing and ringing - NON stop! Because I'm popular? No, it was all from the same number, trying to send me a fax. Remember that Seinfeld when Elaine kept getting the faxes? Well imagine it happening while someone's trying to INTERVIEW you! I cleared up that mystery today when I discovered that a new person had started at my distributors and hadn't gotten the heads up that I like to get my purchase orders via email, not fax. Life is a constant breaking in, eh?

Then a box - no TWO - of yarn arrived! How exciting is THAT? It won't be quite so exciting in a few weeks when I'm under stacks of boxes of yarn, but now it's a little like Christmas. And then the item arrived which will make some of you hate me.

The Bark Collar
I love my dog. If you know me, you KNOW I love my dog. I adore Atticus, and he's just about the perfect pooch. But he's become so BARKY that it makes us nuts. While visiting a friend I mentioned this and she showed me the bark collar her own dog had worn for a bit to train him not to bark. The idea is that the dog wears this box on his collar and when he barks loudly it zaps him with a little shock. I felt it (yes, I held the collar in my hand and BARKED at it until it zapped) and it's not something I'd like to do every day. But it also wasn't terrible - really, not awful (and I don't have a fur coat).

So I put this thing on Atticus (who had been barking at some passing dogs, a car, the garbage men, a kid with a basketball, a bird, a piece of garbage and yet another dog) and he settled back into his perch by the window. When the next dog walked by he barked - then he shuddered, looked at me VERY confused, and came over and sat by me.

Another dog, another bark, more confused looks. I was just about to take the damned thing off because I was feeling so guilty, but then the acid test arrived...

The Mail Man

The mailman is the big thorn in Atticus's side -he HATES him, he feels he's trying to invade our home with all of this junk mail, and more than once we've found our Netflix disks waiting for us with teeth marks in them (Atticus's, not the mail man).

So as the mailman approached, Atticus started his low growl, walked over and sniffed the door, looked at me, sat and watched the mail come in the slot, then went back to his perch (he "owns" one of the sofas, it's his place to be) and settled back down. Magic.

And that was enough to make me praise the collar. Usually when the mail man comes, Atticus starts barking and sort of whips himself up into a frenzy, running up and down the stairs, barking, running, slipping, barking. Today he was aware of the mailman - probably MORE aware than he usually is - but not barking.

I took the collar off a bit after that and left if off for the rest of the day. This morning I left it off until he barked at a passing dog, then after about a half an hour (during which he didn't bark) I took it off and he's been pretty quiet all day.

I know I sound like a terrible person with this shock collar thing - and it's someplace I REALLY didn't want to go. But his barking's been getting to the out of control stage. He seems to excite himself with his barking - like a kid who sobs so hard they can't stop - and this seems (at least as of day 2) to make him stop and think, "Do I really need to bark now?"

So, for now, I'm slightly more productive because it's slightly less noisy here. The Quark dilemma's been fixed, but I have to redo those 6 months plus the other months. This will never end.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

No Male Cheerleaders Sighted

But I had a terrific time (or maybe that's part of why I had a terrific time?)

I arrived at Saybrook College, part of Yale, mid-afternoon and that gave me enough time to go to my room, rest a bit, brush my teeth and comb my hair and just enjoy the feeling that I was a Yalie (albeit briefly) in a pretty darned nice room with a neato bathroom (LOVE the tile floor!)

And a nice, quick lie-down before the tea.

And there was TEA! Lots of tea, lots of cookies and flour-free desserts (I can never eat much before talking to a group or teaching, so I didn't sample most of the stuff, but the tea was excellent!)

The talk went very nicely. I felt like a fraud because - with the exception of 2 knitting tips - I just talked about me. Well, if you do something well, you should do it a lot.

The room was nicely filled - no one was standing, but few chairs were empty - a very decent turnout for the day before Easter and mid-Pesach.

I met many lovely knitters as well as some yarn shop owners and there were even a couple of male knitters (hey guys!) who brought a niece (?) who asked my favorite question; "What kind of needles do you like?"

Because she was 10 I couldn't give my stock answer*, but it's such a nice and smart question that I was very impressed. It gives me a chance to do a little ad for the long, straight needles which have fallen out of fashion - I'm an anomaly, I love the old needles!

I also met Lauren, who had knit one of my first sweaters to appear in Interweave Knits about 4 years ago, and I was so impressed and touched that she brought it to model for me. Isn't she lovely? Thank you, Lauren!

Maybe it was being at Yale, but I found myself comparing wool to Proust (the memory thing) A shout-out to Betty Ann, a Denison Alum like me (and, oddly, for a period of time my nickname at DU was "Annie Betty" - go figure!) I ment so many kind and wonderful knitters, I truly felt at home and loved.

Overall, though, I felt a bit self conscious.

I'm feeling too concious of myself these days - not as much as when I was 15 (is that possible?) - but just a little hyper aware of myself, how I may be coming across to folks, what folks might think of me - and it's not helpful.

(I need to work on regaining my devil-may-care critics-be-damned attitude if I'm going to keep my sanity. A little self awareness = good; too much = paralyzing.)

Yale itself was magnificent - I so enjoyed being there, and spending time with my wonderful hostess Mary Miller, the Master (Mistress?) of Saybrook College. Yale University is made up of many colleges, each with a Master and a dining hall. It's far different from my own college experience (which I loved).



Sunday I slept in a bit, then met a good friend at Cracker Barrel for breakfast (oatmeal AND biscuits - can life be better?) then back home for some yard work, hiding easter eggs and a little mini-hunt for the kids.

It's odd how Hannah clings to the concept of an Easter Bunny but Max is pretty much over the mystery of it - he just wants the chocolate.



*I like my needles like I like my men

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Schmeder

We haven't had a seder this year - various reasons (my breathing being #1 among them - it's irritating and annoying, but it does prevent me from planning any kind of a guest/invited event) but last night we had some friends over, folks we don't have to 'dress up' for, and had a little mini seder.

The most glaring deviation from the order - we ate first.

At a seder you sit through what amounts to a service (seder means "order") where you read from a haggada (book of stories about the exodus from Egypt) There are many different haggadas (haggadot? haggadim?) out there - a few years ago we actually wrote our own which embraced the interfaith aspects of the seder. There are feminist haggada, haggada which focus on Buddhist tenets, ones that are traditional and illustrated by Chagall and the familiar Maxwell House haggada that my husband's family used for years.

The through-line is the same, the sections differ slightly, but they're always there: The story of the pharoh and the plagues, the midwives who wouldn't kill the babies, the deliverance of the Jews, the four questions - traditionally asked by the youngest person at the table, the story of the four children (sons), songs, prayers, blessings, dipping (twice!), hand washing and "next year in Jerusalem!"

Matzoh is eaten for the period of Pesach because - in their haste - the Jews couldn't wait for their bread to rise. This has been extended to include any leavening (no flour or yeast products are taken, but what is allowed differs from one Jewish tradition to another.)

There's quite a market in flour-free products that seem leavened (kosher-for-passover quiche is my favorite - "and in their haste...") Desserts which are flour-less are abundant, and coconut or merringue macaroons are a big deal every Pesach.

When Gerry and I were dating we were shopping around Passover and he showed me a jar of Mrs. Adlers Gefilte Fish to me, which a photo of Mrs. Adler on the label. He nodded sagely at me, pointed to the words "gefilte fish" and said, "That's how they look in the wild."


Wild Gefilte

We didn't even open the haggada this year. We had our seder plate, Gerry roasted a turkey breast and an egg, made the charoset and got the gefilte fish and horseradish. We had a shankbone (okay, a mystery bone) and bowls of salt water for dipping. But we didn't do it very traditionally. I realized that my kids don't even know the questions - excellent mom.

But we had a very nice time - Hannah got to see her good friend, I got to see my good friend, Gerry got to clean up the kitchen and Maxie got to play on the computer. Today we color easter eggs before I leave for Yale and tomorrow when I get home we'll hide them in the backyard and hunt them up. An afternoon Easter Egg hunt - we feel compelled to change this tradition, too!


The Affi-Macaroon Hunt

How You Say...?
I just wanted to clarify the bit about the French translation, I wasn't as clear I should have been.

I've been approached by someone to have my pattern(s) translated into French - I was wondering if there were many readers out there who would appreciate this (basically, whether it would be worth the cost of the translation...)

Sorry about the misunderstanding! If you are a French speaker, or know folks who you think would be interested in my patterns in french, give a shout. I just want to get a feeling if there's a market out there.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Moses Jr. Goes To Yale

There's a film review by Dorothy Parker of The Ten Commandments where she uses the phrase, "Moses Jr. Goes to Yale" or something like that. For the life of me I can't find it now, but I know I read it. When I was in college I read (and memorized) a lot of DP - it suited my disaffected, out-of-place, poor girl at a rich school mindframe - but one can only take so much bitterness so I'd intersperse my DP with long sessions of MGM movie musical viewings.

So I feel like Zipporah Jr. going off to Yale (okay, Saybrook College) this weekend for a tea and a talk about knitting. (Checking out their website I see that Deb Stoller was to speak yesterday - although it says Thursday the 14th - so this must be knitting week for them!) It's going to be at 4:00pm and I'm going to stay overnight (at Yale! Boola boola!) and I'm pretty sure that anyone who's not busy is welcome to come. I'm sorry not to have more details (a location would be nice...) but I'm going to talk about hats (Easter!) and other kniting fun stuff.

High school dropout with a Masters speaks at Yale - details at eleven. They turned me down for grad school. Probably heard I was a high school drop out... And, the fact that it's Passover, and YALE just adds to the Moses stuff. I'm overexplaining this, huh?

CALENDAR OF DEATH
Bad news on the calendar. The files that I sent to the publisher were corrupted, and apparently all of the files I saved in the version of Quark I was using (6.5) are corrupted, too. They use Quark 5, so it's dicey if they can open files from 6.5 any way, but when I go back I'm not able to open them myself. Damn. It's not as devastating as it might be because I have all of the original text, formatted, and just have to input it again into the template and add the images, but it's work.

Picasso said that, "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction" so perhaps this calendar is beginning with an act of destruction? Today I'll write patterns all day, tomorrow I'll be at Yale, Sunday is Easter (eggs, chocolate, etc.) so on Monday - after I hear back from my publisher - I'll start again on the calendar. I'm thinking that I can whip out a month in about 3 hours now that I've done it once and everything is formatted, so I feel pretty sure I can get through the whole year by the end of the week. Yeah, right.

ROMANTIC KNITS
Next week I'm also FINALLY going to start assigning yarns and knitters to projects for Romantic Knits. I'm going to start with knitters who worked for me on Men Who Knit at indentured servant wages - I owe it to them to give them a better project with better pay this time, it's the least I can do.

The budget on this book is better (by the time I paid my knitters on Men Who Knit I'd run through my entire advance - let's hope the book is a hit or I will have lost money on it!) but I won't have to go so far out on a limb for this one. If I haven't been in touch with you and I said I would, don't despair! I probably will sometime next week.

OTHER BOOKS
I'm FINALLY going to be doing something with Habu - I'm using some of the sterling silver wire they sell for a bracelet for a new book, and I'm very excited! I've wanted to work with them for years, I've been lazy in not getting in touch with them, so this is a nice, easy way to get an introduction. Hmmm, maybe I can use one of their yarns in Romantic Knits...

On Tuesday Sabrina Gschwandtner from KnitKnit is coming by with a photographer to take some photos of my "studio" - um, did someone say dining room - for a new book on up and coming fiber folks.

Whether I'm up-and-coming or down-and-going is open for discussion, but I'm going to pamper myself and get a facial because my skin is looking icky (why? All that coughing!) and I want to glow! This is the book that I worked up the bathing suit for, so I'm psyched to see the whole thing completed so I can finally see the suit on a model (they'll be photographing it in Miami, it hasn't been photographed yet...)

Parlez Vous?
ƒvidemment je ne parle pas franais, est-ce que mais je me demande s'il y aurait un marchŽ pour mes modles traduits en Franais? Faites-moi savoir si ceci ferait appel ˆ vous - il est quelque chose que je pondering... and, perhaps also obviously, I'd be hiring a real, live French speaker and pattern tester to do the translation not just of the pattern, but of the knitting terms, etc. Any interest in this?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday

Does anyone use that phrase anymore? My mom used to call this day Maundy Thursday, and I recently heard it on the radio in Toronto, but I don't know if it's in common usage anymore.

Knit & Crochet Busy
I finished a knit skirt for IK that I'm SO happy with! It's worked up in Tilli Tomas Nile & Cleopatra (dupioni silk strips) and then pulled, pulled, pulled as it's blocked to make the fabric more open and drapey. It has a nice hang to it - I'm anxious to see it on someone!

I also just finished a nice crochet cardi in Art Yarns for a book to be written by Amy Swenson. It's definitely on the flowery side! It's worked as granny squares with a rose in the center of each one, then the yoke and sleeves are a fillet stitch with more flowers picked up at the collar and cuffs and crocheted. I made little pansy and leaf buttons - too much? We'll see..

In between I've been finishing up the crochet calendar, doing corrections on Men Who Knit, writing patterns for Romantic Knits and finishing some other stuff.

Crafty Girl
I brought Hannah a bead loom from Virginia (LOVE the Plow & Hearth Outlet!) and finally we had a chance to sit down and figure it out. She went nuts with the beading, and here's a choker that she made herself with very little help from me. I'm so proud of her!

Spring Planting
Today we went to our local gardening supply and bought plants and peat moss and gloves, etc., so the kids could garden. I sit and cheer them on. As much better as I am (and I am MUCH better!) I'm stunned by how quickly I become exhausted, lose my wind (it feels like when you were a kid and stayed underwater just that much too long). So I'm sitting on the front porch while the kids dig and fight over who's going to pull the dandelions. We bought lots of pansies - photos if they come out well!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Happy Harlot!

I made my daughter very happy tonight.

I told her I was going to go hear the Yarn Harlot speak, and she wanted to come so badly that I brought her (I'd called and saved 2 seats, and my friend Ami couldn't make it, so it was square...)

We arrived at the Rutherford library a little early, so we found good seats. Hannah was afraid she'd be bored (after begging to come...) so she checked out the Children's Library but eventually decided to sit with me and crochet. I ran into a few knitting buddies, saw a lot of friendly faces, but most of all I enjoyed a great talk by Stephanie Pearl McPhee (aka, The Yarn Harlot)

Hannah turned to me, laughing, with shining eyes and asked, "Mom, is she a comedian?" - she giggled so hard through the talk that she turned bright red (Hannah, not Stephanie) and we all got to admire the Olympic Sweater close up and personal. She said it had made her cry (Stephanie, not Hannah) and called it her "biggest knitting mistake." Mistake or not - it was absolutely gorgeous!Hannah was first in line for a book (the wrong line, but eventually she got straightened out.) and hugged it all the way home. As we left the library, the line of folks waiting to shake Stephanie's hand and get a book signed circled the room (and some mysterious woman in a green shirt popped up in every photo that I took!)

The talk was very funny - at one point SPM wondered if those who meet her and hear what she does for a living might misunderstand and think she's a "fitter" - not knitter. I laughed - along with everyone else - then as I put my car in gear to pull out I saw this sign and thought - "That's fitting!"

Happy Motoring
This is reason #1 why I was glad to cross the NJ border on the way home. Every station is full service - love that!

Froelich Pesach!

Spring is here and the holidays are upon us!

I'm home - hooray - and the adrenaline I run on when I'm out of town has deserted me. Rest, that's what home's good for, rest and love and a different kind of work.

I have a ton of stuff to get through, but I'm starting slow so I don't entirely burn myself out (burn, baby, burn!) I'm taking a few days this week to finish up knit and crochet projects. It's been a while since I've been able to spend more than 20 or 30 minutes knitting, and it's doing amazing things for my mental health and stamina. I need to knit to keep myself on track - Knit to Live / Live to Knit

The photo above is from Hannah's wedding 2 weeks ago. Yes, wedding - heaven help us.

At Hannah's Hebrew school they study the life cycle, and since many of the kids have never seen a Jewish wedding (much less participated in one...) they perform one as a kind of play, assigning parts (Hannah was Mother Of The Bride - how are we going to PAY for this?) It's actually a very sweet idea, all of the other Hebrew School classes come and watch, and afterward they have a nice oneg (nosh) and parents get to meet each other. Mazel Tov!

Looking at Max and Gerry it struck me how similar they are - I always see this and wonder if anyone else does - from the shape of their mouths to the way they hold their head. Folks say Maxie looks like me, but that's all because of the red hair. He's really so much a small Gerry that it makes me verklempt.

And Hannah? As she and her "husband" walked their "daughter" up to the huppa, she looked like she was really angry with him (see, they know how to do a wedding just like adults!) and when she took her seat she crossed her legs in a very grown up way. All that was missing was a highball and a cigarette. My little girl's growing up...

I'm kicking myself that I don't have a picture of her at the wedding - we didn't take a camera (the above shot was via cell phone) but I did check out my Frappr map recently and saw her shoutout. No, Hannah, I'm YOUR mom and I'M proud!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another Cheap Motel

Well, not really cheap, inexpensive.

Village Yarns in Toronto is a wonderful shop - just lovely! The absolute best thing about what I do is meeting students and visiting yarn shops, seeing a new selection of yarns wherever I go and seeing the different personalites that shops acquire through their palette and yarn choices. Village Yarns is eclectic, but very richly stocked with many beautiful yarns that I haven't had a chance to play with yet (can't wait to check out hand maiden yarns - woo hoo!)

The first class, the cocoon jacket, went swimmingly. It was a VERY large group (or maybe it's just that the space was divided up in an interesting way) but - as I've come to expect from the erstwhile Canadian - everything was picked up SO quickly. The lone American in the group did me proud, though (whew!)

After an amazing and tasty lunch, we settled in for class #2 - the Corset. Whether it was the food, the slightly warm room or too much concentration, it seemed that everyone could have benefitted from a little nap. I know I would have...

But we worked through a chart, the swearing was minimal and I veered into Mom mode several times (honey...)

After a little break in the class I ended by showing some crochet tricks for working edging and interesting chain decoration, then some book signing and all around hugging. I was told I'm huggy - but that's just us effusive and demonstrative Americans - what DO we call ourselves? Statesians?

I leapt into the Cruiser and was off - my goal was to get pretty far into NY State so that my drive tomorrow is shorter and I see my kids (& Gerry) as soon as possible. I was NOT thinking, though, and instead of taking the highway to Hamilton I went off toward London. Beautiful. Or should I say, "Beauty!" I'm old.

This detour gave me a chance to do some back-road driving, though, and see some beautiful country and drive through very scenic little villages with lovely stone houses and buildings. And a few white horses and some big plow horses, too!

At one point (on Rt 8 East) I turned a corner and suddenly in front of me was a panorama of a wide valley with the lake in the background - so beautiful. It was worth the extra driving time!

Gas is sold by the liter - it took 48 liters to fill up my car (12-1/2 gallons), it cost me $50C ($43US) and THAT was quite a jolt. Generally in Jersey a fill up costs me about $30. How much of that was used up by my sight seeing tour is anyone's guess. This is a fun site I've been using over the past few days to stay sane.

Coming across the border the guard was unimpressed by the fact I'd been to Toronto to visit yarn shops ("Okay, you can go.") so I didn't have to panic. I'm terrible under border crossing pressure. All of those WWII French Resistance movies I've seen.

I made it as far as Rochester (Gerry pegged it!) before exhaustion compelled me to turn into a Microtel for a $49 room for the night ($55 less the AAA discount = $49, which would be $56C). What can I say - I'm a cheap date.

With any luck I'll be up early (continental breakfast - but which continent?) and get to NJ in lots of time for hugs, kisses and kid fun.

The kids are off of school this week, so I'll have lots of time to make up with them - hmmm, maybe a road trip? NOT!

The Duke

Last night I had the nicest time!

... and, once again, the Candian knitters I've been honored to have in my classes are entirely TOO GOOD! What do they do, give them needles in the womb? (that would hurt...)

The class last night was 11 (13 were scheduled, but it was a cold and rainy Friday evening so a couple couldn't make it) That was probably for the best becase we were pretty well squeezed into Lettuce Knit. But it was a cozy kind of squeezing...

I taught the same class - a colorwork class - and even threw in a few extras near the start. And yet - again - the students picked up the techniques so quickly that I added more to the back end of the class. I need to go home and think up new color ideas to add, backup stuff for those gifted classes! The worst thing in the world is to be bored at a class!

There's a fine line to walk when teaching, you don't want to bore any of the experienced students, but you don't want to go so quickly that you befuddle newer knitters. And then there's that inevitable brain freeze that happens near the end of an evening class (especially near the end of a long week!) that makes even K1, P1 seem beyond comprehension.

So when all was said and done, the only think left to do was go to the Duke - a great bar (er, pub?) not far from the shop. I thought it was just going to be a few of us from the class, so I was pretty surprised (happily!) to walk in and find a bunch of Toronto knitters, all drinking and knitting and having a fine old time!

I sat across from Amy Singer (Knitty) and heard about an upcoming Italian cooking and knitting trip which sounds amazing! Did I mention I'll be going to Minneapolis? Perhaps I'll have some Italian food while I'm there... Amy gets Enchanted April - I'll be experiening a Prairie Spring.

One beer later (which, in "American", is like 3 beers - it's the beer exchange rate) I drove back to good ol' Motel 6, dropped off to sleep and dreamed about seeing my kids again. Geeze, I miss them!

Today I'm off to Village Yarns for a class in the Cocoon Sweater and the Corset. I love both of these projects, and I'm really looking forward to the class. Two students who will be in the class were at Lettuce Knit last night, and we had a BLAST! I've been so lucky with my wonderful students on this trip - Vive Canada!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Lettuce Visit Toronto

I'm digging Toronto.

I arrived yesterday morning - earlier than I'd expected (you were absolutely right, Jill, how could I have ever doubted you...?) and was warmly welcomed by Megan at Lettuce Knit.

Since I was early, I killed time by hanging out, checking email, meeting Megan's husband and adorable kids, and getting a parking ticket. I know how to have a good time.

Then I drove around Toronto, getting in the way of the trolleys (not really) and admiring the gorgeous day. I haven't spent a lot of time in Toronto since I was a little kid and my family used to come up here for vacations, and it's a whole different world when you're driving around in a PT Cruiser (everyone waves). It must be my amazing resemblance to the queen.

In the evening I taught a well-mannered class (c'mon girls, you can let your hair down!) of most excellent and dilligent knitters who ran me through my paces and got through the material in record time. I'm hoping that tonight the group is a little rowdier - all that raucus laughter burns time, don't you know...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Getting and Spending

I visited a very small yarn shop today - Jill's boutique corner of a neighborhood collective, Looped and I bought more yarn than I have in months.

I'm not usually a yarn buyer - I rarely have time to knit just for ME, and when I am knitting it's a piece for a book or magazine, etc., and that yarn is usually supplied by the yarn company. The down side is that I have to turn in the piece and generally don't see it again.

But today I splurged. FIrst, we had a wonderful light lunch/tea at True Tea (and, I must say, the Green Tea Cheesecake was absolutely DIVINE!)

I got two T-shirts for the kids and one for my hub (by New Bufffalo Graphics)

Then Jill showed me her corner of the collective. Her yarns were gorgeous, but I was just looking...

... UNTIL she took me back to her workshop space and I saw the ribbon yarn hanging on the way.

First I bought these two skeins of my fav colors (blue and green) BABY, it's COLD here (snowing - ew...) and I have no winter coat, so I guess I'll have to work myself up a quick scarf/shawl, huh?

Jill left the room for a minute, and I heard a small voice calling to me from behind some other amazing ribbon yarn



And there it was - the ribbon of my dreams.

Before she got back into the room I had it half rolled into a ball, and was already dreaming of the shawl I'm going to make with it for Romantic Knits - I am so psyched!

So - a fruitful day of rest and relaxation, and spending! And I did some work, too, but don't spread it around...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Response

I've been hoping to hear back from the yarn shop owner in Snellville. I was hoping that she'd email me, call me, or just send a check. She's finally responded, and her insistence that there are "two sides to every story" are true. I'd LOVE to hear her side, believe me! Of course she has a side - I just can't see where she has any justification for, basically, stealing money.

Here's a link to her own blog if you'd like to read what she's written.

And sinced her comments are moderated (not a bad idea, I moderate mine, too, to avoid spam or duplicate posts, but please know that I have not blocked any posts that are positive about her shop - none have been posted.) here's my own response to her. You'll have to read it here as it will not be showing up at her blog.

Why Do I Write About This
I write about this because it's important. It's a big part of my life now in that I do this (knitting, teaching) as my livelihood. Keeping quiet is what makes folks feel they can get away with unfairness.

I'm trying to be as fair as I can about the incident although I do understand that it's not possible to be totally objective about ourselves) and would be thrilled to publish any points she'd like to make as to why she felt it was proper to cancel payment on a well taught class without any notice or reason given. I still don't know what her reasoning was, aside from what I've mentioned in the earlier post. If there's a different reason, if the class was bad, if I was late, if I didn't show up, if I didn't fulfill my contractural obligation - I'd love to hear it.

Queen for a Day

I was remiss in not mentioning my Buffalo's hostesses toilet. There - I've said it. When I arrived at her home I LOVED her bathroom, and wanted to take a photo of the toilet and post it on my blog, but it just felt too personal. Today I drove back to Buffalo (didn't do the Genesee village - too cold) and arrived at Jill's house and CRASHED into bed. I slept for 4 hours and BOY did I need that - I feel like a new woman!

When I got up Jill was home and we chatted a bit. When I learned that she was a little disappointed that I hadn't mentioned her bathroom on my blog (even though I'd photographed and kvelled over the bathroom at the Inn on Broadway in Rochester) I leapt up and snapped a shot of the throne. It's quite special - really stunning - the photo doesn't do it justice. Obviously I need a life...

Jill just opened a yarn and fiber shop (part of a 9 shop collective) called Looped and this morning Buffalo Rising.com had a really nice piece on it (and you can see a shot of her, drunk, at her opening party!) I'm so happy for her!

I was telling her that one of the joys of getting out of the NY Area is seeing how genuine the arts communities tend to be in the less traveled burgs. We get myopic outside of NY, it's well known that we feel it's the center of the world (and, it is, in some ways...) but there's a joyful, giddy, fun loving attitude about ART that I miss sometimes when I'm near NYC. We can take ourselves way to seriously, and it's just good to get out and see how sophisticated, fun, talented and gifted folks are all over the place!

But you all knew that.

And now, for something completely different, one of the cutest dogs in the world wearing a stunning doggie scarf

Comfort & Joy



It's hard for me to say enough about how welcomed both the Buffalo Guild and Wild Wools made me feel while in Western New York.

While in Buffalo I stayed with Jill, a pilates instructor who - along with several other artisans - recently opened up a collective shop. I didn't get a chance to visit it when I was there this weekend, but I'll be passing back through B'flo and staying with Jill again, so I'll get a chance to see Looped.

Jill's home made me think of my own - right down to the friendly dogs! When I arrived she had beautiful tulips (my favorite flower) in my room and a big basket of stuff that I may need but might have forgotton (toothbrush, Q-tips, lotion, etc.) What a thoughtful thing! Every day she brought me a mug of tea - my favorite wake up - and somehow knew exactly how much alone time I needed vs. how much chat time I craved. She is an excellent hostess, and I am very grateful to her!

When I arrived in Rochester I was blown away by the Inn on Broadway. It's so luxurious in the details without being too self-impressed, and Lucinda at Wild Woods had left me the most beautiful flowers by my table along with a stunning hand-made knitting bag filled with Rochester area goodies (and a gorgeous mug made by Lucinda's mother, a potter!)

The class yesterday was a dream - and after a rainy evening book signing at Wild Wools - a jewel of a shop, small but with an exceptional selection that reflects the personality of the owner beautifully - Lucinda and Rachel and I went out to dinner at the hotel restaurant. I felt guilty because it was my suggestion, and the prices were definitely on the steep side, but the food was absolutely amazing and I think all three of us reveled in the opportunity to celebrate a very successful day of teaching.

I love Rochester and Buffalo! More of this and I will be spoiled!

I have a connection by marriage to this region - my husband attended SUNY Brockport and worked in Rochester for many years in TV production. When he talks about it, it's with the warmth that we all have for formative places where we spent a good part of our young adult-hood. We will definitely be coming back up here with the kids soon, it's so lovely here!

Apparently I missed being able to take the ferry from Rochester to Toronto by a few days - but that really wasn't my plan, anyway...

I have 2 days to rest before moving on to Toronto for classes at the end of the week, and I intend to use them to get some knitting done, do a little writing and spend as much time alone as I can. I need my alone time - as kind and wonderful as everyone's been to me - to recharge my batteries.

Being with folks, being "on", can be an energy drain. As much as I get from my students (and I get SO much love and inspiration from them) I also expend a lot of energy that must be renewed.

So today I'm planning a bucolic visit to the Genesee Country Village & Museum just south of Rochester. I love these kinds of places (we visited the Farm Museum in Cooperstown on our honeymoon and it was one of our favorite days!) and it seems a perfect place to find some peaceful bench and knit away like a maniac. I have several books on CD (right now I'm listening to Elizabeth and Mary - a very good history of the relationship between the Queens) and will enjoy a chance to go back in time on a lovely Spring day.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lofty Class

Today I taught two classes (Embellishments/Buttonholes & Combo Knitting) in a loft in Rochester. What a cool space!

The light was amazing - even though the day was overcast for part of the day (and sunny the other part - welcome to the Great Lakes!) everyone was able to see what they were doing beautifully. As the buttonhole class started I had a false start when I told the class to work up a diagonal buttonhole that I hadn't included on the page, but I got my legs back and - hopefully - the class found my honesty disarming. Yeah, I can dream...

The students were so dilligent - I think I've rarely had a harder working group! Even though I think I'm talking slow with my COPD, I find that I still run on and on like a house on fire. But even so, I was surprised when, only an hour into the Combo class, we'd already covered the purl, the knit, ribbing AND the Grandma increase - and EVERYONE GOT IT! This is a red-letter day indeed!!

I will be going over to Wild Wools this evening for a book signing, and I'll be so thrilled to FINALLY see the shop! Lucinda was just fabulous today - I can only imagine how excellent her shop is! I've heard it's small, but being from the NY area, that's never influenced my opinion of a yarn shop! It's the selection and spirit of the shop, not the quantity. I dig their website!

A few notes for some commenters:

Marilyn: I'd love to email you - do you want to email me directly? annie at modeknit dot com
Carina: It was definitely NOT Grand Rapids. Sad that there could be two out there, huh?
Pixie: Sorry about the car - I will definitely pursue it!
Christine (lawyer): I'd love to correspond with you - could you email me directly? Thanks!


And to all - please know that I LOVE the South - I had a TREMENDOUS time there and I cannot wait to go back!!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Rochester is Da Bomb

I am very happy.

After teaching two classes today - both to amazing groups for the Buffalo Knitting Guild - I drove up to Rochester. The lace class was fun, the millinery class was a - challenge - for everyone, but it was also very rewarding. Sometimes the hard things are hard because you just have to fight through them. But with a little hand holding you can get there, and - like so many hard things - millinery has a pretty steep learning curve. Once you grasp some of the basic wire attaching concepts, you move foward SO quickly that it's very exciting.

So off to Rochester I drove - a lovely afternoon, pretty farms, nice light, just a beautiful spring evening.

I arrived at The Inn On Broadway this evening, what a great place! It's just lovely, the building is great, and my room is luxurious. When I walked in there was a hand-sewn knitting bag full of Rochester goodies from Wild Wools (where I'm teahcing tomorrow) and some lovely flowers.

I love a nice bathroom. As a matter of fact, give me a nice bathroom in a hotel room and I can practically do without a bed. The bathroom here is fabu. I've already had a nice, long, hot bath and now I'm relaxing in one of the most comfortable armchairs I've evern sat in. I may just sleep in the chair (except the bed looks so cushy)

Man, these are the times when I'd give anything to have Gerry here to share this! But then again, it will be nice to have the bed to myself...


Tony Soprano Made Me Cry
We don't have cable, so I only get to see The Soprano's when I'm on the road. Eh - I live in Essex County - so I can enjoy a certain Soprano-esqu atmosphere most days, anyway...

Tonight I was watching for the first time all season and TS - who apparently was in a coma - got out of the hospital and while sitting in his wheelchair said to his sister, "I was supposed to be dead, but I'm alive. From now on every day is a gift..."

I cried. Tomorrow, April 3rd, would have been my brother's 47th birthday. He's been on my mind a lot this week - I miss you, Jimmy!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Love & Chinese Food

I am in love with the Buffalo Knitting Guild!

I had the nicest day today - I taught two classes (Combo Knitting and Cocoon Jacket) and had VERY full houses for both of them - busy day! I'm still fighting with this cold thing that has occupied my sinuses and lungs for over a week now (gets better, gets worse, gets better, gets worse) so instead of going out to dinner with a group from the Guild, I opted to just go home and sleep. I stopped on the way for Chinese food - SO good - and now I'm tucked into bed, in my PJ's, listening to a British Mystery on CD with a book at the ready. I was going to knit, but I think instead I'll just read and sleep.

The best thing for recovery is sleep - sleep makes any sickness better (maybe not, but I'm loving this futon bed right now and I'm as happy as a clam!)

I felt so much love back from the guild - I think everyone had a really good time; lots of laughs, lots of skills learned and some cool little dickies/ponchos made (swatches for the cocoon jacket). Just a great and fun day overall.

And the best part? I have plenty of Chinese food leftover for lunch tomorrow. Life is good.

The Ears of Many Yarn Shop Owners

I'm in Buffalo and it's just a lovely town! I hit a rainstorm as I neared the city, and as it was rush hour that really slowed down the traffic so I didn't get in as early as I would have liked, but I was at the Guild meeting in plenty of time and there was a nice bunch of nice ladies (and several orchestra members who had to travel through our room to get to rehearsal, that was kind of comical!)

As the rain ended the sun was just going down - it was still spritzing and the sunset was AMAZING (and entirely PINK sky with orange and red sun setting. As I was passing a cemetery I stopped and took a photo - lovely, huh?

Then I turned around and saw a rainbow - so gorgeous - the promise of good things to come! Apparently there was a double rainbow (they were talking about it at the guild meeting) but I only saw the one.

It was refreshing, because I'd just gotten off the phone with the shop owner in Georgia. I started this entry thinking that I'd write her shop name, but I won't. If anyone really wants to know what shop it is, email me and I'll tell you, but I don't want to publish the name on my blog.

Apparently my suspicions were correct. She stopped payment on the check for two reasons;

1) I didn't stay with her friend (and next door neighbor) who, I was told on the phone today, "cried in the parking lot" when I said I wouldn't be staying with her.

2) I didn't print my own handouts.

A few days before my trip my printer died, so I wrote to each shop explaining that if they could print the handouts that would be great, but if it was a problem let me know and I'd go to Kinko's and print them out. Not really a problem for any of them, and I was VERY grateful for their help, and I didn't hear boo from this shop owner about it being a problem. But suddenly it is a problem for this shop owner. On the phone today she said, "You said you'd print them out if it was a problem!" - Yes, yes I did. And she never told me it was any problem, so how would I know that? This is just a sample of the terrible communication she feels is good business practice.

She left a message on my cell phone where she told me she didn't appreciate being "threatened" - referring to my mention that my lawyer would be in touch with her. Then she herself threatened me by saying, "I have the ear of MANY shop owners..." (when I told my husband this he said, "Did she pay for those ears, or did she cancel the check later...)

So - the upshot is that for those two reasons she feels that it's valid to stop payment on my check. She said,

"I stopped payment to get your attention."

Excuse me?

Okay - show of hands - how many out there have emailed me and had me email right back with help or an answer? I ANSWER EMAILS and she HAD MY PHONE NUMBER. But she chose the more efficient? method of communication, stopping payment on a check. And what was I to infer from this?

All through the conversation she kept saying, "Stop yelling at me - I can't believe you're yelling, can't we just talk like reasonable people? I can't believe you're being so unprofessional!"

Yes, I was really mad, but I wasn't yelling (I told her if she wanted to hear some yelling, I could give her a sample) but it was obvious that she was playing to a room, pretending she was being yelled at. Oy.

She was also upset that when she came into the shop I was sitting in an armchair with my feet up on a foot stool in front of the chair, checking my email and listening to a audio clip that someone had sent me. How Dare I???

Apparently she was upset that I didn't get up when she came in the door. That was reason #3 that she canceled payment on the check. I didn't rise when she entered.

On the phone I tried to recap; "So, let me get this straight - you canceled payment on a check for a contractual obligation that I fulfilled because I didn't stay with your friend and you printed my handouts?"

"Yes. [vaguely] And other things. And I'm going to charge you the fee for the xeroxing and my time and travel expenses to go to Kinkos."

"What other things?"

"You were rude when I came in, you didn't stand up."

"Listen, the stuff about me being rude to you or you being rude to me is a she said / she said situation, and obviously we experienced an incident and saw it two different ways. But the indisputable facts are that I arrived at your shop on time, I provided the service you hired me for, I taught a good finishing class, you were paid $50 by each student who attended, and - with no warning or notice - you stopped payment on the check.

If you had a problem with the class, the time to mention it would have been when you gave me the check. Or you could have emailed me, or called me."

"Why are you yelling at me. Stop yelling at me!"

Q. Which court handles small claims in Gwinnett County?
A. The Magistrate Court handles small claims.

Do I want it to come to Small Claims Court? No. I'd rather she just send me a CASHIERS check for $260.

As my husband said, "Do you feel like visiting your cousin again? How about a Georgia Road Trip?" I'd love to just get the money (what a concept, being paid by the woman for whom I earned $650!),

But I am so angry at her behavior, her own threat to blackball me among yarn shop owners ("I have the ear of many yarn shop owners..."), and her inability to see that this is just NOT how one does business that I'm stupified.

I have a Letter of Agreement, signed and returned by her. I fulfilled each obligation required of me.

(FYI - in answer to a posted comment, I ask yarn shops where I teach for more than 6 hours to provide a night in a hotel or a private room in a smoke-free home, but it's a negotiable at shops where I teach less than 3 hours. I'd never received confirmation of an address where I was staying or an answer to my confirmation email, so I had to assume that there had been no arrangements made.)
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