Sunday, March 02, 2008

Luxe

I'm becoming very familiar with the AM radio stations in Connecticut. I like to listen to talk radio (the wackier the better...) when I drive - it keeps me awake and it makes me laugh.

Sometimes I'll listen to an audio book, but when I'm between classes or even venues it just takes too much effort to re-engage myself into a plot or history. So talk radio it is - and there was a LOT of it driving up from Mystic to Saratoga Springs!

MYSTIC CLASSES
I loved both of my classes - what a terrific bunch of women!! I had pretty much the same group for both classes, which was lovely because THEY were lovely! Unfortunately I didn't have the time I would have liked to walk around such a beautiful town - maybe another time!

Spending a whole day with students is a luxury I don't usually have, and it almost feels as if we went on a trip together. I tend to work my students pretty hard, which is why I make them laugh so much - I don't want them to rush me, tie me up and start knitting washcloths just to show me who's in control...

In this case the first class was Combination Knitting, which I love to teach. I love all my classes, but this is one of my most tailor-able, meaning I'm able to add or take away things as I see the students absorbing it. If it seems like a class that is tuned into lace, I can toss some of that stuff in. If it seems a class that is intrigued by cables, I can spend more time with that.

I do this with all my classes - tailoring them to the group at hand - but Combo is one of the easiest. Actually, today I'm teaching a new class - Annie Potpourri - which will be a lot of combo, but I'm experimenting with tossing more theory in, sandwiched between a lot of tips and tricks.

Lunch was at a nearby cafe, but I desperately needed some alone time. So I went to a local juice bar/cafe and had a lovely salad and chicken sandwich (it was, as the sign promised, "yummy!" - so good to see truth in advertising!)

Then I stopped by CVS to pick up more airborne, zinc tablets and I made myself a little cocktail of the above with some Emergen-C. I'm doing this twice a day during this trip to keep my resistance up and fight any emerging bugs that might be sticking to the windshield of my Prius.

Meeting a lot of folks - and then touching their knitting, their hands, their needles - and then hugging them - well, it's an invitation to become a human petrie dish. So I try to be careful, as much for myself as for the classes that follow.

The afternoon class was Knitting with Wire - a very fun class, but an exceptionally weary-ing class for me to teach. That's how it is, though, with so many things we love. I had just about the whole group again (one had to leave early) and after the prodigal purse that one student had left at the restaurant was retrieved (you cannot IMAGINE the sigh of relief we ALL let out - everyone felt that poor woman's pain!) we settled into a really fun class.

Usually I make sure that everyone leaves with a finished bracelet - but I ran a bit over, so I only got two totally finished. I feel certain, however, that this very clever class will be able to get each bracelet done (the two that WERE finished were quite lovely - and they FIT!)

Off to my car, a quick "goodbye" to Lily (who I only saw for 3 minutes total all day - a shame since I like her very much!) and then off to the races!

NATURALLY WON
I arrived around 8:30pm, but I couldn't find the hotel. Actually, I found it, but when I knocked on the door there was no answer. I was not as bold as I may have been because I had this sinking feeling that I was knocking on a private residence or a club or something, not a hotel. It's quite lovely - and yes, it DOES say Saratoga Arms over the door - but the locked door made me second guess myself.

If nothing else, this trip is a resounding wake-up call to stop second guessing myself.

So I drove around Saratoga - stopping at a few other hotels only to find they'd never heard of me - and then back to the Saratoga Arms for a bolder knock and this time I discovered I had the right place all along. Well, at least I got a nice tour of a beautiful city!

The room is lovely, the hotel itself (lobby pictured to the left) is just beautiful! My class today is at 10:00, which is a bit of a luxury in itself because

I can take time to have the hotel breakfast (yay!) and blog. (Signature Needles, they're not just for breakfast anymore...) What a nice start to the day.

I'm teaching just a few doors away - not at the sponsoring shop, Saratoga Needle Arts - so I even have time to go for a short stroll and see what trouble I can get into before class. If I'm not back by 10:00, send a search party. On horseback.

I'm REALLY looking forward to today - I've never taught the same class twice in a row on the same day, it will be an adventure - and the best part? I get to stay IN THE SAME BED TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW! Now that's what I call high living!

Monday I drive back to the NYC area so I can teach at Knitty City on Tuesday, and stay with some very good friends on Mon and Tues night.

Wed I drive back up to Harvard, MA for a lecture at the Nashoba Valley Knitters Guild. I've heard they're restricting this solely for their guild members, but I've also heard that they've suggested that one person join the guild so they can come to the workshop - See, I'll do anything to enhance guild membership!

Thurs I'm back to NJ to teach at Knit Knack in the evening, Friday I'm in a holding pattern, and on Saturday I add Angelfire Studios to my list of shops on this trip (they're celebrating their 4th Anniversary!) Sunday is recovery, Monday is HOME!

Gerry misses me like nuts (although not when I called him on the phone last night and yelled in frustration when I couldn't find my hotel... Sorry honey.) and the kids and animals miss me, too. I'm missed.

But not as much as I miss all of them.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

How Dry I Am

I've been on an unexpected hiatus - a little break - a vaca - holiday. I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling sort of dry. Dry skin, dry hair (and looking oh-so-grey), dry wit - and a dry well.

I've been writing a LOT of patterns in the past few days, doing a lot of math.

When my mind wants to move in that direction, I let it - it obviously knows better than I do in these matters. Numbers have a tendancy to fill my head and make it hard for me to think about other things, like blogging. So I've been quiet, but working!

I'm making nice progress on a surplice top which I'm very excited about. I think it will be a flattering look on just about ANYONE, and it's a fun knit, too! This yarn is stunning - so gorgeous - and it's been flying off of my needles.

Here the Yarn Place Bel Canto photographed with the Knit Picks Options needles (because they're wonderful and the project matches them!)

But the blogging was coming slowly, and I didn't want to force it. Dry well. So I figured instead of pushing it, I'd just let a little snow fall and try to balance myself out. Take some garlic, apply some gold bond lotion and see if I couldn't ferment a bit.

Cold, Baby!
Hannah had a sleepover on Friday - she was so excited, and had a BLAST! I thought she had fencing on Saturday morning - she'd neglected to tell me it was cancelled due to the holiday weekend - so I was up at 7:00 on Saturday to drive out to Suburban TC only to have her tell me when I arrived at 8:30, "Oh, mom, there's no fencing today!"

But it was a stunning morning - and I was very glad that I was out, even though I wouldn't have done it on my own. The sun was shining, the snow was blowing and it was a brisk -10 degrees (wind chill in the -30's - here's a photo of my car's temperature gauge, I'm pointing South)

It makes a person feel ALIVE, I tells ya. And not in the ' soccer team stranded in the plane crash in the Andes' sense of the word...

I remember 2 years ago I was teaching in Chicago during a VERY cold spell. I got into my rental car one day to see -6 and couldn't believe how frozen I felt. Yet Saturday - as cold as it was - somehow it seemed different. Is my blood thickening?

Since it was the coldest day since we'd arrived, it seemed good to celebrate by rushing for tickets to A Prairie Home Companion. Could there be a better day to stand outside and wait for our number to be called?

A good friend waited with us - Gerry and Max waited inside. So while the girls froze the boys schmoozed. We were soon the proud recipients of the last 4 seats in the theater at $15/each.

Our friend - who lives near the theater and had strolled over to meet us - graciously bowed out since we would have entered into an arm wrestling match to see who got the standing room ticket (After you! Oh, no, after YOU!)
The seats were scattered through the balcony, but close enough to that I could establish mom-eye-contact with just about everyone. Two seats were one in front of the other, so that's where Gerry and Max sat (so that G could keep an eye on M)

I have to say both kids did really well, even though it was clear they were getting near boredom as the 2 hour show came to a conclusion. I was proud that we could take them to the theater, not sit right next to them, and still have them behave in a respectable manner. Yay, kids!

Networking
Gerry attended a Multiple Myeloma group this weekend - he really enjoys getting together with the folks, but he wishes that there were more meetings. The next one was in 6 weeks. I wish that he knew a few local MM folks just to get together every week or so for coffee. Maybe when the weather changes.

Adina
I was shocked and very sad to hear that Adina Klein will no longer be the face of Vogue Knitting. I have really enjoyed working with her - she's a wonderful person and has had a strong and positive impact on both VK and Knit.1.

I'm really sorry to see her go, and hope to see her again soon in a very visible yarn related position, she's too good to not get snapped up somewhere soon! Here's a nice article about her by Crochet Insider, with a lovely photo of her, too!

Taxes
Getting everything together for the taxes was a not-so-fun way to spend the afternoon yesterday, but Gerry and I got a lot of stuff figured out. Now we're waiting for the 1099's and other surprises, then I'll input it all and see how it falls.

The Power of Dreams for 2008
I know that given everything we've been through in the past year - and in light of all of the help we've received - it may be an odd time to think about dreams. Or maybe not.

When I have these fantasies I ask myself, "Who the heck do you think you are, trying to set all this stuff up..." and I answer, "A mom who wants to make some astounding memories for her family while the making is good..."

Being in a similar situation as a kid - my dad became ill when I was 11 and steadily declined for the next 5 years until his death when I was 16 - I realize how crystalized those 5 years have become in my memory.

I also remember how grey and depressing that time was - and not just because it was Toledo in the late 70's - and my dad had a whole different set of issues than Gerry does. Alcohol & prescription drug addiction, for one thing...

But ultimately, life is beautiful - life is a gift. In the midsts of the deepest pile of sh*t in the universe, we have the potential to live the joy.

I guess I want my kids to look back and remember the joy when they think of these years we're going through now.

It took me decades to slough off the layers of pain and hurt that I'd buried myself in during that time - my protective covering - and I don't want Hannah and Max to have the same burden.

Dream 1 - Paris with Hannah
I've had a dream to take Hannah to Paris in October for over 5 years. Every year something has come up to make the trip not possible (first it was 911, then I became sick the next year. Then my brother died, the next year my cousin had breast cancer surgery, and the year after that I had to travel to LA for business and life was too busy. We all know what happened since then...)

So this year I'm starting a Hannah-to-Paris savings account, and I'm crossing my fingers that come October there will be nothing to prevent us going. I really should look into possible teaching opportunities there in October (although my French is nowhere NEAR good enough to teach in that language!) to make the trip more viable.

Dream 2 - Family Lake Fun in MN
Alternatively, and more realistically, we're investigating renting a house somewhere in MN (or Wisc) this summer for a week - maybe two - so that we can invite some friends we haven't seen in a year out from NJ to experience the joy that is Minnesota.

It may work better to find a retreat type place where friends could rent small cabins, too, so that we can be all together but able to find some solitude. And also share the financial burden more easily.

Anyone know of a place like that...?

So I'll dream about a nice, warm MN evening on a lake with Gerry surrounded with good, old friends.

And I'll dream about croissants in a cafe, or crpes while strolling along the Seine, with my girl - while I watch the snow falling in the alley.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Bliss

Ignorance = Bliss. And few are as ignorant as I!

Don't worry about me folks, I [try to] ignore what doesn't move me toward a more peaceful, blissful state. I don't always succeed, but with the help of my faithful (and kind) blog readers, I have an easier time than I might. Thank you!

Regret
I didn't mean to hurt you, Rumplestiltskin! I just realized that I didn't mention my teaching there AT ALL! Believe me, that has more to do with my internet access immediately following the shop than with the shop!

I adored my time there - but didn't really have a good chance to sit down and blog about it afterward, and it was lost in the shuffle of moving on to a new yarn shop!
My day class there - lace - was a hoot!

I was THRILLED to see Scott in the class, he knit the Zip Front Top (shown on sexy rasta man in Men Who Knit) and a really great guy. He also knit one version of the Wavy Lace Scarf in Romantic Hand Knits. Fab. This guy is hard core - in a knitterly way. Hey Scott!

I was fried, it's true, but if I'd had more sense I'd have asked him to have a beer after class. But I didn't, so I missed out on [yet another] opportunity to drink with a tatooed guy. Damn.

What's the use of being on the road if I can't drink with the bikers?

Instead I went out dining with Julie - an extraordinary student from France and all around wonderful person. We're plotting our duo mother-daughter trip to France (we have daughters the same age) and who knows - it just may happen!

The day class was packed, but the evening class wasn't so full. A shame. The folks there were exceptional, and it was a chance for me to really take time to work with individual students. But I realized after class was over that I really shine when I have an audience. I'm a hog for the spotlight - now you know...

So my time at Rumplestiltskin - which seemed to be an exceptionally well stocked shop of very encouraging folks - was fun and very nice. My only regret was that I didn't take time to visit the tea shop next to the yarn shop while I had the chance. I love tea!

TEA!
Right now I'm in a little bit of heaven. Class today for Knitting Workshop went beautifully (30 women, all cabling like a a a aaaabus-and-truck of Riders to the Sea) and then I was off on my own for a short stroll around Santa Rosa (lovely, lovely place) and a drink at a local restaurant while I wanted for my carry-out dinner. Almost room service. Room service with a Tanqueray & Tonic (with a splash of Rose's Lime)

Life is good.

Now I'm back at my room, in the comfy chair (love the square chair & ottoman - my favorite pieces of furniture in a hotel room!) I've finished my pasta and had a bit of my wine (a dessert wine masquerading as cool-aid - just the way I like it - I'm such a wine idiot!) so I'm ready for bed when the spirit moves me.

And
I'm having a cup of Lady Grey tea (I keep calling it "Lady Jane Grey" - not the most restful image for a cup of tea...) and watching What Not To Wear.

Okay - I do love
Tim Gunn's show (but what is VW doing there? She's just not doing it for me...) - but WNTW is my favorite "Change your LOOK!" show. Stacey London cracks me up - so there!

But best of all? After my two classes tomorrow - which will be exceptional and loads of fun - I catch a flight HOME! I'm looking forward to that, baby!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Perfect Fit

For a knitter, good fit is prime. There's that great moment when a finished sweater is tried on, the sleeves are long enough, the waist fits, the neckline sits at the right place; life is good! I feel like I'm wearing that sweater today.

Today was a wonderful day - wonderful in the sense that it just feels right to be here. There was nothing particularly special about the day - we dropped the kids off at camp so that we could drive down to Rochester and check out some of the housing alternatives.

EXTENDED STAY
We looked at several places, but hands down the best fit for our circumstance was Staybridge Suites. We have the option there of moving into a 1 or 2 bedroom setup depending on whether Gerry's mom and the kids are able to come down in September, and then moving back to the studio so we can save money by only getting a 1 bedroom when we actually NEED it. And - very important - we can have Atticus with us. Huzzah.


Bonus: They have wifi and cable - we'll get MSNBC (I get to see Mr. Olberman every night), Comedy Central (ditto Mr. Stewart & Mr. Colbert) and Bravo (Kathy Griffin & other fun stuff) My circle of friends.

While in Rochester we popped into a Home Depot for a sink fix. As we look around at bathroom stuff and worked on ideas, we tried to figure ways to save some $ and "express ourselves" in our bathroom and kitchen.

We still haven't locked into one contractor - and against all good advice we may be moving away from Mr. Proven Contractor to Mr. Younger Flexible Contractor. Tomorrow YFC is coming by with his plumber so we can get a final quote from him. You're all on the edge of your seats, aren't you?

We'd looked at some tile for the bathroom a few days ago and really liked the idea of slate - although the $6/sq ft was a little pricier than our budgeted $4/sq ft. But today we saw a very similar tile on sale for $1.25/sq ft (victim of a broken pallet, but the tiles we chose were not broken) So we got the tile for our bathroom for $30!


I haven't been at peace with the idea of a run of the mill looking vanity sink, so I had a brainstorm. It may be idiotic, but I'm going to visit a few Menards & Home Depots and kick the following idea around to get feedback.

THE WACKY BATHROOM SINK IDEA
We all remember The Bowl? The yellowware bowl that was broken in June? I saved all of the pieces because I just couldn't bear to part with it.


We have an old 1920's hutch we acquired when we were first married and living in Brooklyn. It's not in great shape (but not falling apart - it's just been painted too many times and it's a little chipped - shabby chic looking) It's in two parts with a 2-drawer bottom and a glass-door china cabinet top.


The bottom is counter height, so I'm thinking I'd like to create a lip around the edge with some type of moulding. Then I'll take the pieces from the beloved yellow ware bowl, break them into even smaller pieces, and use them to create a mosaic pattern on top on the hutch bottom.


Once that's finished and grouted, I'll cover all of it with bar-pour (like the polyeurethane I used on the dining room table - it's water proof and excellent for counters) to make the top flat and even. The moulding lip will hold the bar-pour in place. I may even toss in some other stuff, other dish shards, pennies, shells, stitch markers...


We'll cut a hole in the top of the hutch to accommodate the drain for a vessel sink. Ideally I'd love to find a sink that resembles a yellow ware bowl. These two are the front runners right now. Both at ebay, both less than the Corianne sinks our contractor has proposed.

Will it work? Who knows. I think so - I'm going to research it. If it does work we end up with a groovy, expressive sink for peanuts. If not, we haven't lost that much...

BEAUTIFUL MINNESOTA
Driving back home from Rocheste
r, with our slate tiles and tile adhesive (for the hutch) squared away in the back of the PT, the landscape was breathtaking. I've never seen corn look as beautiful as it did along highway 52. Lush and tall and 50 shades of green! The sky was a deep, rich Dutch blue. The light on the fields, the wind moving the grasses and stalks, it almost made me cry.

We got home just in time to sign for a delivery, check my email (FLASH: VK is very happy with the shawl - YAY!- and I got the pattern and charts out tonight! It feels so GOOD to be finished! I think it will be in the Holiday issue.)

I changed my clothes and strolled over to The Yarnery to meet some new friends for knitting and dinner/dessert at Cafe Latte.

I have missed connecting with a group of knitters as a KNITTER - not teacher - just Annie. This was lovely.

I miss my group back home - the Yarrrn Pirates - and this was the first time I'd just hung out knitting for a long time. Thanks, ladies, for having me.

The special bonus - one of the women's husband had a stem cell transplant (slightly different from what Gerry's having) five years ago and is doing great after being 'given' three years. Love to hear that.

As I walked home at 9:30, the sky still light with northern evening brightness, I felt so at home, so happy.

Back at the house Gerry was snoring in his recliner, the kids were getting ready for bed, the cat and dog asleep in the living room snuggled next to each other (it's just chilly enough for some good pet snuggling.)

What a nice fit.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's that good.

The History Channel is running a series on the States in the US. Tonight one of the states profiled was Minnesota - fun for us - prominently featuring Garrison Keillor (rumor has it he lives near us - I'm probably wrong about that - but we don't live far from the Governor.)

At the end of the segment he said,
"The thing about Minnesota is that if you come you'd better be prepared to stay. It's that good."

Yes, it certainly seems to be. Tickets for the PHC show at the Minnesota State Fair go on sale on Monday. Gerry's mom will be visiting from NY, we're going to take a chance and get tickets for all of us, hoping that Gerry will feel well enough to go. Next week we're supposed to have a consultation with someone at the U of M Hospital, where Gerry will get his chemo, to explain the whole process to us (stem cells stuff) and what we can expect.

Appliance Heaven
Last night we went to our local Best Buy to pick out a new washing machine - the one we bought in Feb hasn't worked well since we got it, and it's not even spinning anymore. Lovely. Soggy, wet, nasty, not-clean clothes. We had the third repair person out on Friday - she gave us the magic code that allowed us to stroll into Best Buy and pick out a new (different manufacturer) washer. It's a much nicer one - an LG (to match our LG dryer that Gerry got on sale and would NOT leave in NJ.)

Because of the months of bad laundry we got it for just a few bucks more than we'd already paid for the Frigidaire. If you're looking at a Frigidaire front loader, research the control panel. The one for our washer is backordered for MONTHS because just about everyone who has it is having the same problems.

The annoyance was that the first repair person we had out told me that I was using too much soap, or had too many clothes in it, or too few clothes - but he insisted it wasn't the machine. But it was.

The beauty part, though, is that BB will be able to deliver the new washer on Sunday and take the old one away - so tomorrow morning I'll worship at the alter of the new LG and do about 5 loads of laundry.

We also bought a dishwasher - we don't have one right now - and we got a nice deal. It's a brand we hadn't heard of (Ariston), but in the research we've done we found it was pretty well loved by many who own it.

This was a floor model, and had been reduced twice ($1200 to $699 to $329) but we won't be actually picking it up for a month or so because we have no place for it in our kitchen. Besides, the warranty doesn't kick in until we take possession of it - so why rush?

And finally we bought a ceiling fan today. We looked at attic fans (demonstrating great hopefulness on our part that we'll be able to FIND our attic... How to get up into it is a mystery.) Afterward I took the kids to the library and the park.

We had lunch at
Snuffy's and I introduced the waiter to the concept of the egg cream. To our delight he and one of the soda guys made one up and thoroughly enjoyed it (could we be seeing the Brooklyn treat on a Minneapolis menu in the near future?)

Knitting Work Out
Then I came home and figured out some bra shaping. I have a project that I've been working on for almost a year now, tweaking and reworking, and I'm ready to unveil it on Memorial Day. It's not really so great - it's just a pattern (or, rather, a series of patterns) but I'll alert everyone on my email list at the end of May (and may even send out a free sneak preview pattern!) Oh - now I'm committed!

I've found Joan McGowan Michael's book, Knitting Lingerie Style, to be incredibly helpful as I work through some details. I just love her designs, and this is a very well laid out book. Good, clear instructions, easy to follow, lovely designs - it's an excellent addition to a knitting library.

I had a moment of lip biting when I thought this beautiful book might be direct competition for Romantic Hand Knits, but I think - as similar as they could seem (same photographer - oops...) - they really cover very different types of garments.

It's odd that two designers I admire so much - Joan MM, Iris Schreier (Lacy Little Knits) & I all have books coming out this year that share themes. Great minds think alike!

It ought to be an interesting TNNA!

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Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf


Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho



Chullo-licious


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