Search This Blog

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What Have I Been Doing???

I just looked at the date of the previous post and am shocked that it has been two weeks since the last time I made an entry. In a nutshell, I...

...have completed multiple small FOs. I made a pair of Fetching gloves as a gift for my cousin and made two Stirling Cloche hats. I have also cast on and frogged a sock using Black Bunny Fibers "Elf" colorway (I got caught up in the holiday spirit), and have twice knit and frogged the same section of the same sock I have been working on forever!!!

...made another of my now-common less-than-24-hour-trips to PA. My friend's husband threw a surprise 40th birthday party for her and I decided to go. It was a lot of travel for such a short visit, but I'm glad I went. I fit in a stop at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philly where I met Carol of Black Bunny Fibers. When Carol found out I was visiting from Chicago, her next question was. "Do you know Franklin?" Why, yes. Yes, I do!

...have been knitting at the MCA's Stitch n Bitch (hurrah, it's back for the season!), went to Bonne Marie's trunk show at Arcadia, met up with the Thursday night knitting crowd at Alliance Bakery, stopped by Corinne's booth at the AMAZING One of a Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart, and popped in to Nina a few times.

...purchased one of these. I've been thinking about a wheel, and I am quite taken with the Ashford Joy for its elegance. But, while surfing on ebay, this one called to me. All told, the total price was less than half of purchasing a new one (including the skein winder), and I figured that if I don't like it, I can recover a good portion of the cost by reselling it. I can't wait until it gets here from the Netherlands. I will need to take a class, or at least read a lot about spinning, in the meantime. I think I'll take Spin to Knit with me to read over the holidays.

In a week we leave for PA to celebrate Christmas with my family. It's always a hectic time, running from place to place to see everyone. (And everyone is about an hour away from everyone else, so that makes it especially tough.) I'm really looking forward to the food! We'll be back here in time to have five days off before having to return to work, so I'll be able to decompress a bit.

S.A. is coming up for a visit just after the new year. We're going to expand her knitting horizons when I teach her to knit in the round using dpns. There are Fetching gloves in her future! And a week after she heads home to AL, I'm flying down to to see my company perform in Birmingham. There is a visit to the Highlands Bar and Grill in my future! YUM!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lessons Learned

Well, the "events" contest did not turn out as planned. Perhaps tales of events gone bad are just too painful to share. No matter. I am sending ikkinlala some lovely sock yarn from the Etsy-derived stash for her comment. Perhaps the next contest (whenever that may be) will be more general.

Not too long ago, my work partner forwarded me an email from a colleague. She had lost her father in the past year and she had found comfort in knitting. Around the time her father died, she learned of my voracious appetite for knitting and would often call me for suggestions and advice. We took a few knitting field trips together including going to the MCA's Stitch and Bitch and visiting a yarn shop when we were at a conference in Little Rock. The email she sent to my co-worker told him of how I had been serving as her knitting mentor during the past year and that she was grateful because "sometimes the universe sends you the teachers that you need." What she meant by this is that she always had me to call or email when she wanted to talk yarn and since knitting was the way she was handling her loss, I was serving as her enabler (in a good way!) to help her feel better. I know that email wasn't really meant for my eyes--she sent it to him, not me--but it was nice to know that I had helped her through the difficulty.

My company just premiered a large piece that we had been working on for months. In fact , it is our largest undertaking to date, with collaborations with other artists and organizations, and other complex elements. The piece came about because a composer approached us about a funding opportunity. The grant required a well-rounded concept and the organizational capacity to meet the objectives of the program. And we had two weeks to pull it together to get the grant proposal in. After 10 days of nearly daily conference calls, we landed on our concept and I wrote the grant. Fast forward...our project was one of just nine selected nationally to receive the funding. This summer, the program coordinator for the lead funder came to our studios for a site visit. We had met briefly once before, but on this visit we truly hit it off. I happened to mention that I use knitting to unwind from the stress of my job. It turns out that she does as well. Since that visit, we have been exchanging gifts of yarn, pattern suggestions, knitting tips, etc. While it still would have been an excellent business relationship, because of knitting we have developed a true friendship, one that I'm positive will endure.

On a professional level, this work project was challenging but incredibly rewarding: the piece itself has proven to be a really wonderful piece of art, the collaborators have all been spectacular at what they do and marvelous to deal with, and the funders have been generous and nurturing. (It's almost frightening that it has gone so well.) Those points alone would have made this particular project meaningful to me. But to have also found a new colleague and friend who shares many of my professional interests as well as knitting has been the icing on the cake.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It's time for the next contestant on...


Okay, the first contestant on my blog, but who's counting.

I am currently up to my eyeballs planning and executing a gala. It is an annual event at my job and it is quite a to-do. We generally have 550-650 guests (we're up to 640 right now), two parts to the event at two venues (with very meticulous seating requirements at both), transportation issues, a sit-down dinner, etc. It's like throwing a really big wedding every year without the wedding gifts.

I am asking for tales of event planning going awry. (Geez, I hope I'm not jinxing myself...) Here are the rules:

1. All stories must be true. I trust you.
2. The event can be large or small, from a birthday party to a gala.
3. You must be the event planner (or one of the event planning team.)
4. The story that elicits the greatest response from me (whether it be raucous laughter or sympathetic winces from someone who has been there) will win. (Yes, it's all very subjective.)
5. All entries must be posted in the comments to this blog entry by November 16. (This date may be of some significance...) The winner will be announced at some point during the following week (when I recover.)

So, here's the important part...what you win! Sock yarn. Delicious, beautiful sock yarn. I have been on a mad binge, collecting sock yarn from many independent Etsy sellers. The winner (and perhaps a randomly drawn entrant) will get something wonderful plucked from the sock yarn stash.

I just hope there are enough of you out there to make this a good contest.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today I...

...spent my second day at work toiling at a task that, when it is finished, will, without doubt, make someone mad at me. Ah, well, it happens every year.

...went to see Shawn Colvin in concert. And, I have someone new to love, her opening act, Brandi Carlile. Leaving the venue, I heard some whining that she had not done "Sunny Came Home." (I've said it before, I'll say it again: if all you wanna hear is the hits, stay home and play your CDs, people. Sheesh.) You gotta love a folk singer who can close her show with a kick-ass version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." a package in the mail from Emily Parson. She had promised to mail me a skein of yarn that I ordered and, as an added bonus, she sent along an extra skein as a thank you for a suggestion I had given her about promoting her Etsy shop. I told you she was nice!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Like, The Best Day Ever

Here is a list of reasons why yesterday was, like, the best day ever:

1. I got up early and popped online and discovered that the Fine Art of Fiber Festival was happening at the Chicago Botanic Garden. On my way to the event, I was driving up Lincoln Avenue on my way to 94 when I was simply struck by how fortunate I am to live in a place with so many fun, exciting things to do and that I have the freedom to do them.

2. At the festival, I acquired two hanks of handspun, a really cool felted scarf that I bought, in part, to try to replicate, and some fun, funky felted wool garland for my Christmas tree. (Since we are going to be away for Christmas, we are not putting up a real tree this year. Instead, the tree is of the wrought iron variety (a very cool piece from my days as a shopkeeper) that is adorned with only fiber-related decorations. (Yes, I KNOW it is too early. Too bad. It's not like the needles are going to fall off of it.)

3. After the Art of Fiber Festival, I headed to Evanston for Franklin Habit's Dulaan gathering. It was amazing to walk in to the place and see 50-60 knitters already there and clicking away. And, to be so warmly greeted by Franklin and his amiable team was icing on the cake. What a nice group of people, some of whom I knew from KIPs or Worldwide Knit in Public Day. Franklin was the consummate, thoughtful, jovial host who made everyone feel incredibly welcome.

I spent a lot of the day feeling lucky to be there and grateful for the opportunity to make something for someone in need. Oh, and I won the first doorprize of the day. (Lucky twice in the same week!) (Side Note: I met Emily Parson at the Dulaan event, a quilter and sock yarn dyer from St. Charles, IL. Her sock yarn is beautiful and I recommend visiting her Etsy store. Three of her skeins came home with me, with a fourth to follow. It is really lovely stuff and the colors are really beautiful. And she was really nice. Buy her yarn.)

4. My husband came home from his business trip to San Francisco. Yay.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lucky Monday

Oh, I was dreading it. I SO did not want to get up and go to work this morning. I had a work-related event Sunday night, and I always feel a little cheated when my nights and weekends get sucked up by work, even if it was a pleasant work-related event. If I'm not home curled up on the couch with knitting or in my Sock Monkey or cowboy pajamas communing with my cats or my husband, then it's work. (What I do for a living is hard, time-consuming, far from a 9-to-5 schedule, not wildly lucrative, and stressful (I now have gray hairs to prove it), but it is also rewarding and sometimes even fun. I shouldn't complain; I still do.) I woke up early (darn you, time change!) so I got on the computer to surf while the husband occupied the shower. That's when I saw this. It made Monday a whole lot easier to take. Thanks, Bonne Marie!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Meme, which I never do...

1. FIRST NAME? Angela
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? I get choked up but don't cry often. The last time was two weeks ago having a serious chat with a colleague about his health.
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Smoked or cajun turkey.
7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Just the blog.
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? I'm trying to think if I have any shoes with laces...
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Pretty strong.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Cherry Garcia or Green Tea or Vanilla Peanut Butter Swirl or Roasted Marshmallow (from an ice cream store across the street from the ROM in Toronto).
14. SHOE SIZE? 8.5-9.
5. RED OR PINK? Red.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My grandparents. I don't see them often.
19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Black skirt, white and blue striped shirt, denim jacket, black boots.
20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Beef with broccoli. And a fortune cookie.
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? A colleague talking in the other room. He's from LA but he still has his South Carolina accent.
23. FAVORITE SMELL? The ocean.
26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON YOU STOLE THIS from? I like her blog a lot; I've never met her in person.
27. FAVORITE DRINK? Cran-Raspberry LaCroix. Mint Iced Tea. Mojitos. Coffee would be on the list, but I have had to stop drinking it and decaf sucks.
28. FAVORITE SPORT? The only sporting event I watch is the Indy 500. I watch it every year in my pajamas. I don't watch any other sports or sporting events, just Indy. It's weird, I know.
29. EYE COLOR? Blue.
30. HAT SIZE? ?
32. FAVORITE FOOD? Raw oysters with mignonette.
35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer, but not when it is really hot.
37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Too many to name. My homemade sweet potato pie is pretty high up on the list, though.
40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? All knitting-related, natch. I have huge stacks of other books to read, but I cannot knit and read at the same time, so knitting usually wins.
41. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE Pad? My husband's firm's logo.
42. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? Dancing with the Stars, which I never watch despite my profession.
43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Springsteen music, waves crashing, my cat, Pitch, "talking" to me, and both my cats purring.
44. ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES? Not wild about either, but I guess the Beatles edge out the Stones.
45. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Hubbard Glacier, Alaska.

46. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I'm a jack of all trades.
48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I lifted it from Carrieoke.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


While many of you were at Rhinebeck (yes, I am a little bit jealous!), I made my annual trek to the Kentuck Festival in Northport, Alabama. My friend Sandra and I left for the airport at 6am Friday for our 8am flight, anticipating lots of art finds, turnip greens, purple hull peas, and warm weather. One of those things was not to be. When we landed, the flight attendant cheerily announced the outside temperature to be 42 degrees! Not what we had in mind. (It is usually in the 80 degree range for the festival; the big weather dilemma is not usually temperature, but precipitation. Oh, and it rained all of Saturday night, so while it did warm up in Sunday, there was mud puddle navigation and the occasional slog through a pile of wet mulch to contend with.)

Sandra eating fried pork rinds.

Every year Sandra and I choose the first big purchase for the following year. At the end of last year's festival, we chose painter Patsy Blake as this year's first stop. Here is the painting that will hang over the mantel in the first floor living room:

Some of her work reminds me of Edward Hopper's use of shadow, although the subject matter is very different.

I also purchased several pairs of earrings (and a future Christmas gift that cannot be divulged here) from Nancy at Conceits. I debated long and hard and did purchase a second painting from Bethanne Hill. (She was my "first purchase artist" last year.) It is a small painting of a bottle tree. I've also decided to start a small face jug collection. (I should have done that years ago when I first started going down to the festival.) This one came from potter Jerry Brown. Paper artist Katy Dement's work kept calling our names. We stopped by three times and made purchases each time! We bought candle hurricanes, light boxes (mine has these marvelous mermaids devised from old corset ads and drawn tails), and lampshades. All are made from handmade paper, dried leaves and flowers, and are coated in sweet-smelling beeswax. (That's the draw for me--I love beeswax!)

The lampshade has hydrangea flowers and a big hydrangea leaf on the other side.

Despite the weather issues, a good time was had by all. My friend SA, who is the Executive Director, did a great job as always. Here she is wearing a marvelous straw witch's hat from Best in Show winner Ignatius:

This festival is a marvelous little gem and I am so fortunate to be able to enjoy it every year. So, while I really wanted to go to Rhinebeck, Kentuck, at least for the time being, owns the third weekend in October for me!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Back with a Vengeance

Not really. In my next life, I want to be a Bermudian. Knitting would not play as large a role...

...although there is at least one yarn store in Bermuda, but my new-found love of snorkeling would fill the void. (No pictures of that; I was too busy swimming among the fishes. Tons of them. It was amazing. I swam through and with a school of squid that was incredibly beautiful. There were Parrotfish, Sergeant Majors, Slippery Dicks (really, that's their name), Bream, and others. It was fantastic.) If you have a chance to visit Bermuda, go, and have a Dark and Stormy for me. It was a really nice getaway and Mom had a good time (the whole point of the excursion.)

In honor of the Yarn Harlot, the sock posed for a photo.

Not 12 hours later, I ripped back much of what you see and everything I had knit in the hours hence since the heel flap was going to be just too big. Ah, well.

Yesterday, the husband and I trekked up to the Chicago Botanic Garden to the Country Living Fair. Artisans, antiques, etc. Corinne was there and her booth looked great (see good pics of it here). We managed to collect a few goodies, including several varieties of honey, some delicious hand-blended teas, a Christmas gift for Mom, and a little bit of handspun. The pumpkin and gourd display at the entrance was fantastic.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Halloween and its accoutrements.

One more treat followed: a concert by my other Bruce.

If you think Bruce Hornsby is just about "Mandolin Rain" and "The Way It Is," you should check out one of his concerts. He is a really fantastic musician with amazing facility. He is constantly reinventing his music which keeps it interesting. For those in the audience who only know the songs that get radio and Lowe's commercial play, it baffles the hell out of them. (I was at my fourth or fifth Shawn Colvin concert not long after she had her breakthrough hit. About ten minutes in, she said she was going to play "Sonny Came Home" for the people who just came to hear that. Not long after she did, a number of people left. I am always amazed at those who come to a live show and want to hear exactly what they can hear on their car radios. I love an artist who can switch it up, make it new, and keep it fresh.) As a bonus, the price of admission included his new box set which I enjoyed this morning while I started knitting my Briar Rose Rosebud Vest.

No one is sadder than me that the real world is calling and it is back to the salt mine tomorrow. (There is no Columbus Day holiday in the not-for-profit world.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Temptation, Thy Name is Etsy

I've been a little low lately. So, what do I do when I'm feeling blue? Buy yarn, of course. This particular yarn buying frenzy was fueled by listening to Lime and Violet podcasts. Between the giggling and double entendre, there is yarn content. Yarn porn, to put it in their words. So, when they mentioned a few Etsy sellers recently, I popped online to check them out. OhMyOhMy. So far, my Etsy experiences have been lovely. Friendly emails. Prompt replies. Nifty little extras tossed in. And the yarn (which all arrived today!) is n-i-c-e. Squishy. Soft. For the most part, the colors were what I expected them to be. (A couple were a little darker, but that is the risk buying online with the vagaries of digital home photography and monitors.)

I have been realizing that those who read my blog must think that I only buy yarn and do not actually knit with it due to the lack of FOs. This is a conclusion one might reasonably draw. Yes, I am now the owner of probably 25 skeins of sock yarn (could be more) and not a single finished sock to show for it. (I'm working on it.) We can't even talk about the rest of the stash. It has its own zip code at this point. (It doesn't. It should.) My "Summer of Stash" went up in smoke. But I have plans. There will be more knitting and less working. There. Must. Be. It may mean radical changes will need to be made. I'm gearing up. It may take a few years, but I'm starting to lay the groundwork. Right now I've got a little too much invested in what I do for a career and not enough in anything else. (Well, if you don't count what I have invested in yarn.)

I am off for some relaxation. And knitting. That's the plan, at least. I'm taking my mom on a cruise to Bermuda for her 60th birthday. After more than a week of inactivity, today a storm began brewing in the Atlantic. Fab-u-lous. I've got the Dramamine.

NOTE: The Etsy yarns pictured are Fearless Fibers, Yarntini, Gypsy Knits, and Twisted. There might be another one that I'm not remembering.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Miss Bill*

This week I was in Little Rock, AR for a conference. Never one to pass up a fiber op, I found the two yarn stores in town, rented a car and headed out. Let me just say this: sometimes, inexplicably, yarn shop owners and staff can be a little strange, a little unwelcoming. Not the case in Little Rock. In both shops, staffers and owners could not have been nicer, more eager to help, or more welcoming. The two stores are distinct in their personalities: The Yarn Mart is well-stocked with a nice variety of yarns. They also feature needlepoint canvases and supplies. I would categorize this shop as more conservative, but an excellent resource nonetheless. Handworks Gallery is in an old house. When I entered, I was a little taken aback by the bags and tubs of yarn everywhere; it looked like someone had picked the place up and shaken it like a snowglobe. Turns out they were changing over the stock for the season. (Even the bathroom is used for yarn storage.) Despite the chaotic appearance, it was clear that this place had tons to offer. And, again, the staff could not have been nicer or more eager to help. I bought a few books. I made a second trip back a few days later with some other fiber fiend colleagues and bought the only skein of Shaefer Anne they had in stock. Handworks is a little funky. If the shop were a person, she would be described as eccentric, but in a good way. If I lived in LR, I'm sure I'd visit a lot.

Speaking of LR, my conference had a party at the Clinton Library. I didn't get to walk around a lot, but I did take a bunch of pics of the Oval Office. The security guard (who could not have been nicer-- a theme in this town) assured me it was to scale. I gotta tell you, it looks bigger on The West Wing!

I stayed at the Peabody Hotel while in Little Rock. It was all about the ducks: the 11am & 5pm duck march, the duck-shaped soaps, the duck shirts, the duck hats. (Thoughtfully, the hotel restaurant does not serve duck.)

Nice rooms, and I had this great view:

*Clinton, that is.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Final Fiber Festival 2006

On Friday afternoon I left work early and drove up to Jefferson, WI for the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. Alas, I will not be attending either Taos or Rhinebeck (next year!), so this past weekend was my final yarn outing of the year. (At least I think it is--things can change!) This festival is clearly geared more toward the animals that produce fiber than the fiber itself. Witness the following:

I knew that this was going to be different than Michigan when I arrived and saw only one other tent. And the place was teeming with Border Collies. I quickly set the tent up under the threat of an approaching thunderstorm. (That one passed, but another made a direct hit around 4am.) After "making camp" I went to the Country Store preview. There were some interesting things to be had: wool mattress toppers, very cool recycled sweater coats (much nicer than the pictures I took so I'm not going to post a pic), and my new favorite fiber crack dealer, Briar Rose. (A note about Briar Rose: her colors are muted and inconsistent--a good thing in this case. I love the subtle shadings and the crazy ways you can combine seemingly unrelated skeins into a garment. I first found out about her company because she is a sponsor of the wonderful Cast-On podcast. Please visit her website but know that her yarns are so much more wonderful in person. I now own enough of her Sonoma to stretch from here to Sonoma...)

Outside of the vendors, I saw no knitters. There wasn't a place to really hang in the evening like there was in Michigan, so at 8pm I was ensconced in my tent ready for sleep. I put on the headlamp (!!!) and spent the evening reading this. I looked around, thought "I've been in this tent for two hours and it is cluttered. How in hell am I going to unclutter my whole house?!" I'm on chapter six and, while I don't go in for the new-agey aspects of the book, there are a lot of good ideas to be had. I'm starting with a major re-do of my yarn storage--a formidable task--first.

I decided to take one more pass through the Country Store in the morning, walked through the animal barns, and packed up. I was on my way by 10:30am. I did get this butternut squash-colored yarn for my attempt to replicate the Anthropologie Pendulum Vest:

I decided to stop by The Fold on my way home. Toni had been at both Maryland and Michigan as well as Stitches, so I was surprised she wasn't at Wisconsin. Now that I've been to WI, it makes sense; I'm sure she does more business at home on an average Saturday than she would do at that show. When I pulled in, there were already nine cars in the driveway, and more pulled up while I was there. Her shop is connected to her house and it is jam-packed with anything and everything a fiber addict could want. There were bags and bags of fiber, loads of spindles and wheels, and a huge rack of Socks that Rock. Amazing.

I picked up a ball of Trekking XXL and a couple of skeins of STR, including the one on the right that I had to have, not because I particularly liked the colorway, but because the name is "Prove It All Night." My Bruce Springsteen-loving heart could not pass it up.

So, the long and short of it: I'm glad I went, but Michigan will be my Midwestern fiber festival of choice in the future.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Parallel Play

For a long time, I resisted the siren's call of the iPod. I, who rarely has my cell phone on (mostly because I let it run out of power and forget to recharge it), did not need another palm-sized object to encumber me. Then one day I became aware of a phenomenon that had previously alluded me, the knitting podcast. A broadcast about knitting, something I could listen to while doing other things?! I was intrigued. As those who know me understand, I do not enter into a new hobby or interest lightly; if I decided to make/collect/attempt/experience something, I get all the equipment. I need my props and costumes. (My background is in theater so it makes perfect sense. You should see the pile of "provisions" needed for my little fiber camping adventures. Insanity.) So, I bought the video iPod. And two sets of earphones. And two different iPod cases/skins. And...I am hooked. I spend more time in bed with this thing than I do with the husband. (Make of that what you will, but I listen to it when I am going to sleep which presents its own set of problems: I often fall asleep before I finish listening to whatever I've started; I sometimes get tangled up on the earpiece cords; and I wake up in terrible pain because the over-the-ear-hook is pressing into my skull in a most uncomfortable way.) Still, I love my pod. (I love the husband, too.)

The husband has a Saturday morning ritual: he gets up, showers, reads the paper for a little while, goes out to his favorite neighborhood breakfast joint for a Viking Breakfast (we live in what was once a Swedish neighborhood, and Svea is one of the few Swedish establishments left), and he listens to Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. He works long hours, and I hated to see him get up so early on a Saturday in time to get his morning errands done so that he could get back to the house in time for the Tom and Ray hour of automotive hilarity, so a few years ago I suggested he get a receiver with headphones. He is kind of a low-tech guy, so he went to the local Radio Shack and bought a $15 model that has served him well. What I didn't realize at the time (but I should have) was that, because Car Talk is laugh-out-loud funny and the husband laughs REALLY LOUDLY, he might look like a madman laughing to himself when he was out and about in our little neighborhood. These days, at least he is not alone. There was a time, before earpieces and Bluetooth, when the people talking and laughing to themselves on the street were the ones likely to be in need of some psychiatric assistance; now you have to look for the cords and earclips to see if someone is truly talking to him- or herself or to someone else. (I did recently hear a statistic that said up to 25% of cell phone conversations are not actually conversations at all, but are the "caller" staging the conversation to look important. Hey, you people who do that, you don't look important, you're just adding to the noise pollution! And what ever happened to just being alone with your thoughts; do you really have to talk loudly about your bad date last night in the produce aisle at the Jewel? do?! Huh...)

Now that I have my little pod and he has his Saturday morning radio appointment, we spend a fair part of the morning sitting on our balcony immersed in our own worlds, not speaking, and each of us laughing out of synch with the other. It's a little weird.

Monday, August 21, 2006

More from Michigan

When you get to the big chicken, you've arrived.

I very nearly brought this little guy home with me. I have had pet rabbits. My grandparents raised rabbits, but we don't talk about why they raised them or where the rabbits went. That was a long time ago in a lifetime far, far away...A lot of things changed on the farm around the time I was born, not the least of which was the addition of indoor plumbing. Seriously. My mother, who is not yet 60, went to a one-room schoolhouse. So did my aunt, and she's even younger. The schoolhouse was at the end of the lane (the country equivalent of a long driveway), so at least they didn't have to walk miles uphill both ways in the snow to get to and from class. (We are talking readin', 'ritin', 'rithmatic, and rural, folks.) Anyway, there is an Angora rabbit in my future...

I called this one Old Blue Eyes.

I was born in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. In fact, I am Pennsylvania Dutch. My mother and my grandparents speak Dutch (a dialect of German) and they used to speak it when they didn't want my brother and me to know what was going on. I can say one sentence in Dutch, which translates to "Can you catch flies?" I don't know why all Pennsylvania Dutch children are taught this phrase, but we are. I can't spell it, and if I tried to spell it phonetically, it would have what appear to be at least two not-so-polite English slang words in it. (Maybe that's why we are taught to say it as children; our parents and grandparents thought it was funny.) Anyway, I grew up in an area where a lot of Amish (and Mennonites) live. Getting stuck behind a horse and buggy on a narrow, winding country road was a common occurrence. I don't see a lot of Amish people in Chicago. (Okay, I've never seen an Amish person in Chicago.) Pennsylvania Dutch is not the same thing as Amish, although in Pennsylvania, the Amish do speak Pennsylvania Dutch. I don't know if the Amish in other states (Ohio, Indiana, etc.) speak a different dialect of Dutch. Hmm, I've never really thought about it. Now I'm going to have to research that. And don't get me started about the movie "Witness"...

When I was little, I lived on my grandparents' farm. Many days, twice a day, I hung out in the barn during milking time, sitting on a big pile of hay bales playing with the barn cats and the dogs, most of which were strays that found their way to our farm and were taken in. My favorite milk cow was named Daisy and she was beautiful. When I was five, my grandparents decided to sell the farm and move up the road to a smaller farm, so they sold off the livestock. Daisy was the first cow sold. I can still remember every detail of what the man wore when he came to get her, and I cried when he loaded her on the truck. That's my dairy fact.

Beef facts for your edification.

Wooden shoes. Really.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Knitting and Camping

So, no one who knows me thought I was serious when I said I was going to camp at the Michigan Fiber Festival. But serious I was.

My weekend at the Fiber Festival could not have been more different than last weekend at Stitches. Here are a few reasons why:
  • I slept on a 1" "air mattress" instead of a pillow-top King-size bed. (Note to self: buy Aero bed before Wisconsin.)
  • No cell signal.
  • Bugs.
  • Making peanut butter sandwiches in the trunk of my car.
  • More spinners. Weavers, too.

  • Sheep and goats.

  • Sheep herding.

  • Manure.
  • Tractors. (They were running one of the tractor engines all day Saturday--I don't quite know why--and the smell of the oil fumes took me right back to my grandparents' farm. My grandparents had three big tractors and I think at least two were red International Harvesters. My grandma can't drive a car, but she could sure drive a tractor.)

  • Small tufts of sheep fiber blowing around like little, tiny tumbleweeds everywhere.
  • Rain. And the concern that the dead tree I pitched my tent near would come crashing down in the middle of the night. (Note to self: don't do that again.)
  • Staying up past midnight knitting under the pavilion with fellow campers. (Instead of staying up past midnight watching cable tv.)

Being a city girl now (for nearly half my life at this point), it was interesting to go to this Festival and be reminded of so many things from my childhood. It had a county fair quality to it. I met a number of people (including my neighbor from the tent next-door) who had farms and raised their own animals. Lots of really nice, down-to-earth people.

I didn't take any classes (I might consider that the next time I go) but I did attend the dinner and fashion show Saturday night. Instead of tall, leggy models in 5" heels there was a rag-tag band of teenagers, most of whom were related to someone associated with the festival. Instead of stilettoes they wore flip flops and sneakers. Jeans stood in for color-coordinated separates. Make-up? Who needs make-up? This fashion show had its own homespun charm. Oh, and Rick Mondragon was nowhere to be found.

The stash enhancement was somewhat restrained on this trip. (Sorry about the disorganized heap of stuff.)

Briar Rose (who sponsor Cast-On) did cause me to part with some significant funds. (They will be at Wisconsin, too.) I bought yarn to make two of these vests. Some really cute buttons, too. I got a kit and extra materials to make a felted silk scarf. Fun, fun, fun. I was enticed by one of these ladies to get a drop spindle.

It was kind of like the crack dealer who gives you your first hit for free--and then you're hooked. She first taught me how to use a drop spindle using one of hers, and then she went with me to help me buy my own. It was so kind of her to be so generous with her time. (She also gave me her email address in case I have problems.) I bought the blue/green roving with the spindle from Toni of The Fold and another 8 oz. of roving from a guy from Harvest, AL. (I just had to get something from him with my Alabama connections and all.) I picked up a really charming jacket pattern from a woman whose last name is Pufpaff. (I found her name so interesting.) Lastly, I bought my mother's Christmas present: two Santa hooked rug kits. This isn't the rug hooking that uses pre-cut yarn bits; this is the technique that uses strips of woolen fabrics and look like lovely fabric paintings when they are finished. She took a class sometime last year so I think she'll like them. And, it also fits the bill for the annual addition to her extensive and, I might add, really lovely Santa collection. (No motorized, red plush jolly old elves here; most are handmade and quite special.)

Two weekends off, then to Wisconsin. Now I wish I could go to Rhinebeck...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tales from Knitting Camp

I am exhausted. Three plus days of non-stop knitting activities have whupped my butt. Stitches Midwest came to town (well, Rosemont, actually) and I went in for (almost) the whole enchilada. After work I drove out to the lovely Donald E. Stephens Convention Center for the student-only market session Thursday evening. (I passed on the Opening Day sessions with Jane Sowerby on Victorian Lace and the Student Mixer.)

This is the carpet in the meeting rooms at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Mmm, pastel-y. Look at this for three days, why don'tcha.

The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center has a Hummel Museum in it. I've never seen it open. I don't know if Donald himself collected all of those Hummels or if someone willed them to the Convention Center. There are a lot of them and I find it disconcerting.

I hit the Socks that Rock pretty hard. I also got a few glass buttons from a lovely glass artist, Sheila Ernst. I had purchased some of her buttons from Toni of The Fold at Maryland so it was really nice to meet and chat with her in person. I headed home for a good night's sleep before driving back out to my home-away-from-home at the Doubletree Friday morning. There was more shopping (!!!) and an afternoon class on knitting circles using short rows with Candice Eisner Strick. This was my least favorite class of the five I took. It was a technique I could have learned pretty easily on my own, and the three hour class was much too long for the subject matter. (On a side note, Candice makes amazing knitting kits with incredible color gradations. I'd been lusting after one of her pieces since last year, so one managed to find its way into one of my shopping bags.) Friday night was the Fashion Show. Oh, my. I met some delightful women who took me under their collective wing for the evening. Gotta say, there was a lot up there on the runway that did very little for me, and then there were a few pieces that were quite lovely. (Do read Franklin's review of the 2005 fashion show. He was dead-on about a number of things...)

Saturday morning was a zippers and other closures class by Margaret Fisher. I went in with fairly low expectations. I haven't made any cardigans and I hadn't really considered setting in a zipper. I have no idea why I signed up for the class. I was so very surprised. It was incredibly informative, and Margaret was a fabulous teacher. And, it was so much more fun than I ever would have guessed. Lunch time, more shopping. (There isn't a lot of eating at this thing; the classes start at 8am--way before I can eat in the morning--and the food at the convention center is basically the same stuff they have at movies theaters sans popcorn and Junior Mints.) Afternoon class was Creativity with Sally Melville. I TOTALLY have a knitting crush on Sally Melville. Maybe it was the swingy skirt with the knee socks. Perhaps it was the Canadian accent. More than likely it was the really fantastic class that was part design, part philosophy, and part human behavior. She was just great. So charming. So smart. And I left all of her books at home so I couldn't get them signed--dang. Saturday night was the Student Banquet. The same lovely ladies (with a few new ones swapped in) took me in again. This fashion show was a mixed bag in every way you can imagine. There was one woman whose two pieces made everything else (including the pieces created by professional designers from the night before) pale in comparison. It was worth sitting through the long-winded commentary from the host just to see her gorgeous creations.

Sunday morning I had another class with Sally Melville, Learn to Love Intarsia. I may never learn to love intarsia, but I did learn that the few times I've played around with it I was getting it mostly right. And, Sally makes you feel like everything will just be fine, no matter what. Next, a trip back to the market. I was so not going to buy anything else, but Brooks Farm finally got me, as did Interlacements. Behold, the haul...minus the two Habu scarf kits being shipped to me. Yipes. I have voluntarily forgone any anniversary or Christmas presents because of this...

Then, the finale: Trims with Lily "5 points" Chin. (If you've taken classes with her, you probably know what I mean.) I was really intimidated because the homework for this class was not clearly written and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. (Turns out I did know what I was doing--whew.) The class started out a little slowly and it took a little while to get Lily's teaching style and delivery. Once it got going, the class was great. She really won me over. (And, she was wearing a really cute dress that she designed/made that will be in the Spring or Summer Knitter's next year. I just may have to make it.) The class was really about various stitch patterns for the hems of sweaters. She delved into the reasons certain stitch patterns behave the way they do and it was really quite a good class.

I hauled my 400 lb. knitting bag back to the car and drove home. It was so much fun to be somewhere where everyone speaks the same language and shares your interest. I can't wait for my next knitting event...

Sunday, August 06, 2006


It has been more about un-knitting than about knitting here at Maison PurlsAvantVin. I decided to frog the Yarn Girls tank. There are a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I think it is a little too tight. It is also a little too short from the midriff lace band to the top, and the ever-present threat of bra exposure loomed--and not in a good way. C'est la vie. There were a number of issues that plagued this one, so I am totally fine with starting over. I've gotten so mellow in my *old* age. (That is hy-sterical to anyone who knows me well; mellow generally does not apply.)

On Monday I attended a Bloggers' Party at Arcadia Knitting. It was a very nice time. I was able to connect with a few bloggers I've met before (Corinne, Lynette, Aidan) and I had a delightful chat with Franklin. As you might assume, he arrived sans Dolores. (That trollop is out and about these days). He was so gracious and delightful in person--everything you might expect from reading his blog or listening to his essays on Cast-On. If you are the owner of a small dog, be sure to check out Corinne's web site. Her dog sweaters are quite sweet and she has a book of patterns coming out in the near future. (I am not the owner of a small dog and, while my cats might fit into the aforementioned sweaters, I know they would NOT cooperate despite how attractive said sweaters may be. They won't even wear collars anymore. They're just nekkid. Furry but nekkid.)

Calling all DC-area knitters! I am trying to find a LYS or knitting group that offers knitting classes or groups for kids. The DC/Bethesda/Gaithersburg areas are all options. You might recall that I signed my niece up for a class at a LYS. To make a longish story short, I'm looking for a different place to send her to--a bit of a challenge from many states away! (NOTE: Please don't post negative comments/reviews about shops in the area as I don't want to cause a ruckus in the blogosphere; I've contacted the shop owner directly rather than airing the issues here. Conversely, if you have positive recommendations, bring 'em on!)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

This sock s*cks.

So, my first sock. I have been working on it for some time. Well, I've been picking it up and putting it down for some time. There was a false start with yarn I didn't like, some backtracking, a couple significant froggings, but nothing like what happened today. Let me preface by saying that perhaps the pattern I picked was a bit complicated. It wasn't difficult, really, but it did require attention being paid to it. So, perhaps it was not the best idea to take this sock to see The Yarn Harlot. Or for the sock to watch television. Nonetheless, it was well on its way; I had turned the heel and completed the gusset. I was working my way down the foot when I discovered I had somehow begun a new 14-row lace repeat in the middle of the previous repeat. Sacre bleu! So, I started to rip back with the intention of just getting to the root of the problem, but I lost my way. Then I thought I'd get back to the part where I picked up stitches for the gusset, but things went awry. It was then I thought about the fact that I wasn't in love with the way the ribbing looked anyway, is the sock.

When I woke up this morning I actually thought that I might be able to finish it today. Notsomuch.