Brioche Winner!

0ly8d0nZNG1meuMegKlhD91lsWsRXpMn4s0Ms4dMmR8The winner of Mercedes Tarasovich Clark’s book, Brioche Chic, is Ellen P.

Congratulations, Ellen! I hope you enjoy the book and knit MANY beautiful things from it! If you would care to email me with anything you make from the book, I’d love to post it here in the future!

Autumn Biking & Voting

Bike path along the Mississippi

Bike path along the Mississippi

I got more cycling in this week than I have in a long time, it’s because of the beautiful warm Fall we’re having here in MN (warm being 50’s, which is just about PERFECT for biking!)

Last week I hopped on my bike to scoot over to Minneapolis to see President Clinton and Senator Franken speak at a Get Out The Vote rally, and I made it in 25 minutes (a record for me!)

Politics Alert

The former President & our current Senator

The former President & our current Senator

It’s no secret that I’m a big ol’ lefty, so if that bothers you, you might want to skip the next section!

Voting is sacred to me. I believe in Democracy the way some folks believe in organized religion.

To my mind Democracy is the driving force behind the greatest positive changes the world has seen in terms of how humans relate to each other. Democracy allows us to participate in, and take responsibility for, the governing of our lives. It’s not always perfect, nothing created by humans could be, but it’s the best thing going.

Anything that tries to prevent citizens from voting is anathema to me, which is why the many voter supression laws that have been proposed make me so angry. We should make election day a HOLIDAY and strive for 100% voter turnout.

2014-10-11 14.57.49So get out there and be PART of this 200 year old experiment in allowing human beings to police OURSELVES. I honestly get shivers when I go in to vote, even when I’m not happy with the array of candidates.

This time, however, I’m VERY happy with the candidates I have in front of me in Minneapolis. The positive change our state’s seen since the election of Mark Dayton as Governor is astounding (we were on SUCH a downward spiral with Pawlenty, the same spiral we see Wisconsin in right now, which makes me very sad for them!)

Stealth Knitting

Stealth Knitting

Seeing money invested in infrastructure and education is the best way to see our government invest in the future, which Gov Dayton has championed since his election.

Voting for Al Franken is an easy call for me. He’s been such an excellent Senator, reaching across the aisle on many issues but retaining the populist, progressive stances that make him a hero to many Minnesotans. With him and Amy Klobuchar leading our state in DC, we’re on a VERY good path!

Cycling Season

More 'secret' knitting

More ‘secret’ knitting

I rode home more slowly from the rally, taking photos along the way.

I got in a short ride yesterday, doing some stealth knitting and enjoying the beautiful October sky and falling leaves.

Geeze, how I love the fall!

Brioche Bonanza!

0ly8d0nZNG1meuMegKlhD91lsWsRXpMn4s0Ms4dMmR8I have played around with brioche in my knitting life, and I will admit that in the past I have not been the biggest fan of this intriguing way of creating a rich, deep fabric with yarn and needles.

Perhaps it’s because I’m gluten free?

I’d read articles by Nancy Marchant, which were fascinating, but never really grabbed me the way that Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark’s new book, Brioche Chic, has sparked my imagination.

Clear

Beautiful cowl for first time Brioche knitters.

Beautiful cowl for first time Brioche knitters.

Brioche can be a complex subject, and Mercedes breaks down the process of creating lovely one and two-colored brioche in simple, easier to comprehend bits.

The book itself is bright, light and cheerful – which would make it a terrific gift for a knitter on your list who is ready to move into a new technique – with very clear illustrations, many charts (love that!) and excellent photography of the garments and details.

The book is also available as an ebook, which I love because it allows the knitter to make the text large and the charts even larger as I knit!

 Fun

I'm in love with Lattice!

I’m in love with Lattice!

I loved the patterns in this book!

Ostensibly a technique book, it’s really a book of amazing patterns that just happen to be worked using the brioche technique.

I especially loved the accessories sprinkled through the book, although I may be giving the Lattice Edged Cardigan a go (I’m DIGGING that lapels/collar simple shaping!)

Intriguing

I'll be making this for Gerry!

I’ll be making this for Gerry!

The use of 2 colors to show off the beauty of brioche might actually make this possibly-daunting technique more accessible to the average knitter than they might think!

In much the same way as when working double knitting, two colors makes the technique pop!

I feel the same could be true of brioche. This seems especially notable in the deceptively simple Colorblock Pullover.

Yarns

Gorgeous use of 2/C Brioche

Gorgeous use of 2/C Brioche

Mercedes has done a wonderful job of marrying lovely, well-matched yarns to the projects.

(I especially loved the O-Wool (Flame Cable Scarf & Hat), and the Fancy Tiger Heirloom Yarn (Star-Crown Beret)

With a background as a shop owner AND a yarn dyer, Mercedes is well placed to fit the best yarn with the appropriate pattern, and it shows here!

The Down Side

Rich, deep and textural! Brioche at it's best!

Rich, deep and textural! Brioche at it’s best!

Having said that I love this book – and I do – I don’t think the charts are as helpful as they might be (and I’m a chart LOVER!)

I felt a bit intimidated by the charts, which is a very unusual feeling for me.

However, I’m not sure there IS a way to make Brioche Charts less formidable.

Perhaps that will be Mercedes next book…
Simple Charted Brioche!

Giveaway

I’d like to give a copy of this book to a happy reader, simply tell me if you’ve ever tried Brioche, and if so, how did it go for you…?

Leave your comments in the section below, anyone who comments is eligible (even if you’ve never worked Brioche, leave THAT as your comment!)

I’ll be determining the winner this coming Saturday, and will announce it on the Blog on Monday.  So comment away – and good luck!

A BETTER New Normal!

I’m writing this, and I’m a little bit terrified.

We’re moving into the next step of ModeKnit Yarn, which is scary, but also crazy exciting. We’re growing, orders are coming in faster and faster, and we’ve been asked to supply yarn for some pretty amazing editorial pieces.

2014-09-28 20.49.05BTW, anyone catch my scarf in Downton Abbey Knits?
I am VERY proud of it, I think it one of my best small pieces!

 

We’re on the cusp of hiring our first person, although we’re not certain how quickly we’ll be able to do it, or for how many hours per week we’ll need them. Just facing this as a necessity in the near future is both daunting, and very exciting.

Our plan has always been slow and steady growth, which I believe we’re accomplishing. Next step, slowly and intelligently (?!) bringing on wholesale accounts (that’s our 2105 goal!)

This weekend a friend of Andy’s, the young woman who was in charge of their 52-day Arctic expedition and a fiber enthusiast, came by to help me dye and learn the ropes.  We worked REALLY well together, she’s at that, “looking for some part time work” phase of her life, so we’re hoping we can make this happen on both ends!

It feels SO ODD to befriend someone who is your daughter’s friend, good, but also just a bit surreal.

NEW CAR

Since our home invasion / car theft (it sounds SO much more dramatic than it was when put that way!) we’ve been car less.  I try to get around on bike, and we’ve rented cars here and there over the past month, but for the most part we’ve been walking and taking the bus.

2014-09-29 12.21.32As of yesterday, we are CAR LESS NO MORE!

We purchased what has long been our dream car! A VW Jetta Sportwagon, and we’re over the moon!

When we decided to become a one car family 3 years ago and sell both cars (relying on mass transit and biking for many of our errands, using the car for big shopping trips, etc.) we looked at a 2012 Jetta, but at $22K it was out of our range, so we settled for a Hyundai Elantra (not a bad car, nice for us) and at $16K it was a good economic fit.

2014-09-29 12.23.16At Enterprise Car Sales we test drove a few cars in the $10-13K range, then as we were walking around we noticed a 2013 RED Jetta that had JUST been brought onto the lot. I compelled Gerry to take it for a drive, we BOTH loved it, but we couldn’t  bring ourselves to say yes.

After we left Enterprise, we visited several VW places in the Twin Cities, and the looks on the faces of the salesmen when we described the car (low mileage, 2013) told us everything we needed to know; the car was an amazing deal at $14K.

Ginger & Gerry, both relieved about the car.

Ginger & Gerry, both relieved about the car.

So we did the math and worked out that with the settlement from our insurance, our car payments would be almost the same (within a few cents) of what we’d been paying for the Hyundai.

So, lucky us!, the car was still available and Monday was spent driving from dealership to insurance company to bank to dealership, then home with our new car.

The fact that this was a car we WANTED so my several years ago, and now HAVE (except a year newer) feels as if it’s a bit of payback for dealing with the whole theft thing. The stress was nuts, anyone who’s had a break in knows that, so this feels like a bit of a reward.

Gerry’s off driving the car now. I’m so happy for him (he’s LOVED VW’s forever, he sighs when one goes by…) and happy for us. It’s a great car, we just have to be careful about speeding tickets!

The cheesy shot our saleswoman took when we bought the car, but it's fun, too!

The cheesy shot our saleswoman took when we bought the car, but it’s fun, too!

 

Resting & ReCharging

4630409504_a6daaf6159_oOne thing about me that drives my husband nuts (one thing?) is how I tend to see every day things as a ‘sign’ of better things to come.

Usually I’m joking, sometimes I’m not, but when we were first married in 1993 I would often say something like, “See, that’s a SIGN that everything’s going to be fine!” and he’d just roll his eyes (looking for all the world like a 15-year old ME reacting to my mom.)

It’s been six weeks today since the arrival of Shingles in my life. I’ve been in such a fog (pain induced? pain MED induced? just generalized Annie-Confusion?) that some days it feels as though I’ve had Shingles for a week, some days it feels as though I’ve had it since the day I was born.

I’m taking the past two exceptional weekends of teaching as a sign that things are looking up,  and no one can convince me otherwise!

Current Car Crochet Project

Current Car Crochet Project

This past weekend my business partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, and I had a booth at the North Country FIber Fair where I taught four classes and had a generally wonderful time! There are SO many little  shows like this around the country, which I see as an indication of the vitality of the fiber industry, but this was one of the sweetest.

I might feel that way because I have seldom taught classes feeling SO much in pain, and receiving such a boost from my students!

When I add to that the previous weekend in the Dallas area teaching for the Dallas Hand Knitting Guild and the Hand Knitters Guild of North Central Texas, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of love I’ve been shown this month!

TEXAS

One Hardworking Texas Class

One VERY Hardworking Texas Class

I have mixed feelings about Texas. I had a job there I absolutely hated and a boss who seemed gleeful every time he could make my life a bit harder (in all fairness, he was originally from Ohio)

But it’s also the place where my brother met his soul mate, where he lived and then passed away, and it’s where my mother also lived at the end of her life and where she died.

Having a loved one die in a place will always attach a lot of strong emotions to that location.

Mostly, though, I have a very hard time with heat.

But I got very lucky; not only was the Lone Star State going through a bit of a cool snap, but the host yarn shop for my classes, The Knitting Fairy in Grand Prairie, TX, was one of the coolest shops I’ve every visited (in both senses of the word – yay!)

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

Alissa, the owner of The Knitting Fairy, was incredibly welcoming and loving to everyone who came for classes, and made me feel as though I was visiting family. I’ve seldom felt so loved, so cared for, as I did when Alissa took charge of my comfort while I was in her shop. THANK YOU ALISSA!

It’s also quite obvious how well loved she is by her customers, which is as it should be!

Little known fact: Sprinklers in TX are pro choice!

Pro choice TX Sprinkler

After two days of classes for the Hand Knitters Guild, I was kidnapped on Saturday evening by Ron & Theresa Miskin of Buffalo Wool and taken out for some AMAZING chili, some drinking and some Outlander.

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

We visited with Lise from Knitting Rose Yarns (review of a Knitting Rose/Buffalo Wool yarn to come later this month) at her beautiful home, and I’m afraid I broke my main rule of teaching; NEVER GO OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE A CLASS.

I was able to pull it together for my Sunday Classes (just barely) but still feel guilty for not doing all I could to be 100% for my students. It was some damned good chili, though…

I felt so loved at my two gigs, and was BLOWN AWAY when I was given a lovely gift by the Dallas Guild just before I left, one of those wonderful yarn carousels which will be INCREDIBLY USEFUL as I re-ball odd FLOW skeins.

THANK YOU, EVERYONE IN TEXAS!

SOUTH DAKOTA

ROAD TRIP to SD!

ROAD TRIP to SD!

I joked one morning at breakfast while we were at Watertown, SD that every item on the menu was shaped like a president.

I ordered the FDR oatmeal, it looked like a dime!

But that was before I realized that we were staying at a hotel with a top notch chef in the restaurant!*

Our whole impression of Watertown was affected a bit by the extensive highway work that was going on outside of our hotel

When you’re driving a SUV with a Uhaul, it’s hard to get around all those traffic cones!

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Road construction

is a necessary evil, though, and perhaps better roads will bring more folks to what was an extraordinary little fiber show, the North Country Fiber Fair.

There weren’t a lot of vendors, but the ones there were exceptional! Excellent yarns, gifts, baskets, buttons, ceramics, LOTS of spinning fibers and tools – just a wonderful variety of great small businesses!

It was if they’d distilled a larger fiber show and brought the best to South Dakota!

My classes were in a lovely, air conditioned room (they’ve got Rhinebeck beat by a mile, there!) and my students – well – it’s hard to praise them enough.

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

They were a confident, easy going bunch of friendly, wonderful students who took in everything I taught (and begged for more!)

The sheer openness and transparency of the folks in my classes was refreshing – like a stiff prairie breeze!

The drive out and back was a straight, 4-hour shot. Kathleen was magnificent as our driver-in-chief and head-booth-maven.

My job was to tell her where to turn.
We had exactly 3 turns in each way.

We did surprisingly well in sales for a show that wasn’t huge, which is another reason to love the NCFF!

*Minerva‘s, in Watertown, SD, is a restaurant you should visit if you’re in the area.  I will admit that we were NOT expecting such amazing food. Our last night there we had a pork chop dish that will be on the menu for their Octoberfest celebration in, uh, October. If you’re in the area, you need to get yourself over there for a meal!

But aren't we all just ANIMALS?

But aren’t we ALL just animals?

Mini Vacations

I take my vacations where I get them, and sometimes they’re as short as 15 minutes.

KFairy_location

The Knitting Fairy is in HERE somewhere…

Right now I’m enjoying a mini evening vacation, here in Arlington, Texas, where I’ve been brought in to teach 4 classes for the Knitting Guild of North Central Texas and two classes for the Dallas Knitting Guild.

Happily, all 6 classes will be happening at the same location, a LOVELY yarn shop called The Knitting Fairy  I stopped in for a brief visit to meet the owner, Alissa, and look at her great selection of yarns! Her space is excellent, but I can see where it might be hard to find…

Duckie

Shall the Duck be Mother?

She had some lovely stuff, and when I got to my hotel room I looked up her website and was enchanted by many of her patterns, especially this adorable Duck Tea Cozy (Hmmm, who do I know who drinks a lot of tea… Moi?)

The Arlington/Dallas area is experiencing a bit of a cool down after a hot spell, and there’s supposed to be rain over the next few days. That sounds JUST FINE to this Minnesota Mama who is experiencing a skin condition that doesn’t react well to heat!

TPEarls1

Beautiful yarn, lovely tag!

Another indy dyer named Jennifer Thompson who owns Theodora’s Pearls was setting up her trunk show at The Knitting Fairy as I arrived, and everyone was drooling over her lovely yarns! Her yarn tags are pretty sweet, too!

But back to my vacation; I just took a luxurious bath, now I’m enjoying a cup of tea and some gluten free cookies in my beautiful room (okay, it looks like every other hotel room, but I don’t have to clean it and that enhances it’s beauty a thousand fold…)

Modesock_ComClinic_CrochetI flew First Class (the $90 upgrade was only $2 more than paying for my baggage AND a seat with enough legroom for my long pegs, a no brainer!) and enjoyed every second of it, from the way the baggage guy sat up a little straighter when he saw my boarding pass, to the PRIORITY fast lane I got to go through at the TSA to the first-on-the-plane boarding and free drinks.

I had a whiskey, I poured it into my Pumpkin Chai Latte from Caribou Coffee, yum!

And now I will continue on my current project, a crochet diddy worked up in ModeSock in Community Clinic.  The crochet in this colorway has an especially “shabby chic” look about it, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

I’m Lucky

It’s been a wild few weeks, and keeping ourselves from falling, even a bit, into despair has been a challenge Gerry and I have set for ourselves. I love my husband so much, I am so glad that we share a sense of humor, and I’m grateful that we are able to play off of each other to keep things in perspective.

In all truth, even with the continuing Shingles pain and frustration over the loss of the car, phone, computer data, yada yada yada, we KNOW that we’re among the luckiest folks on earth.

I don’t talk about gratitude much, but I feel it deeply. I was once part of an online moms group (back when online mom’s groups were very new) There were 8 of us who were due with our babies at roughly the same time, and we stayed in touch for a long time.

We came from various socio-economic levels, worked at various jobs, had different goals and represented a wide variety of faiths, but the thing we shared (our babies) was the most important thing in all of our lives, and we all gained SO much from our interactions.

Sometime near the end of our regular interactions someone in the group suggested we start a ‘gratitude journal’  The person suggesting it was of a higher income bracket than most of us, which didn’t seem to matter at all, and we all said, “Great idea!”

But it wasn’t.

What started as a good idea – “I’m grateful that it was a beautiful day today!” turned into a source of pain for some of us.

One mom, in all innocence, wrote, “I’m grateful that my baby is doing so well and is so healthy!” which was great, but we had a couple of moms with ill, premature babies, and there was a silence from them for a while.

Another mom wrote, “I’m grateful that my husband just got a raise and we can take that trip we’ve been planning!” which was wonderful for her, but hard for another of the mom’s whose husband had just been laid off and who was experiencing financial difficulties.

Don’t get me wrong – we were ALL happy for each other – but the gratitude journal turned into what felt a bit like a bragging journal, and some of us found ourselves feeling oddly dissatisfied (and then ashamed of feeling that way) reading about the new houses, jobs, healthy babies and other good things that seemed to pass other members of our group by.

No one wants to feel jealous or envious – we all WANT to be happy for our friends when good things happen (and I think 99% of us are VERY happy for our friend’s good fortune!)

But the experience instilled in me a firm belief that gratitude is something that’s best kept private.

The things I was grateful for were pretty tame; running water, flush toilet, hot water whenever we want it, all the food we need, a civil government that – for the most part – protects us, good roads, free schools and libraries.  I didn’t get too specific about our own situation because I didn’t want to sound braggy.

I feel that the past few weeks I’ve been such a sad sack of complaining – so much seems to have gone wrong at the same time – but I want everyone who reads my blog to understand that I KNOW exactly how lucky we are. Very lucky.

We have a home, I have healthy kids who are kind-hearted and smart, we have pets to love,
we live in a wonderful place, and my husband is here.

Everything in the world that is important to me is contained in that last sentence, and even writing it I feel like I’m bragging.

Tomorrow I turn 53. My skin hurts from the shingles, our car is god-knows-where, and I’m so incredibly lucky that I need to pinch myself. I never thought that I’d have such a rich and full life, I truly am the luckiest person I know!*

I had an MRI today (no need to discuss it, it was a follow up) and the tech asked me if I wanted to listen to a certain artist. I asked for The Pretenders, anything from Learning To Crawl. Apparently she put on the 80’s channel and I got a lot of Blondie and The Cars.

And then one of my favorite songs came on. Joan Armitrading’s I’m Lucky from Walk Under Ladders, just a wonderful song!

And it made me realize how lucky I was to be laying in a long metal tube with magnets spinning around my abdomen. I was able to ride my bike down to the imaging center, and I knew I’d ride my bike home.

I hope you’re all lucky, too!

*Gerry is, of course, the luckiest guy in the world for snagging me as his bride.

According To [Business] Plan!

Tonight I’m reveling in the enjoyment of an Epsom Salt bath, a nice warm dip on a cool, almost Autumnal evening here in MN, watching TV on my iPad while I bathe my sore skin. Absolute heaven.

If I could have another child I would name it Epsom.

I visited my acupuncturist (Susan at Crocus Hill Acupuncture) today for the first time in a LONG time, she said that she’s seen quite excellent results with acupuncture and shingles, and also gave me an herbal oil essence (Yin Care) which does seem to help a bit.  Having said that, the pain continues in insane ways, but knowing what it is removes the mystery aspect, which is always the hardest part of pain (at least for me!)

I’ll keep you posted on the efficacy of the above therapies; if I’ve learned anything, it’s that – as Gerry’s wonderful Aunt Arlene says – “EVERYONE gets shingles!”
If I can save someone some of this pain, I’ll feel that it’s been a bit worth it!

So with that squared away, I have dyeing to do!  We’re having an EXCELLENT August, lots of great orders, and I think the excitement about our Caledonian Colors (in honor of the Outlander mini series) has a lot to do with our increased sales!  Our Lanark Plaid Cowl doesn’t hurt, either!

Personification of Caledonia by the Victorian artist William Hole, photographed by Kim Traynor

Personification of Caledonia by the Victorian artist William Hole, photographed by Kim Traynor

Caledonia is the Latin name given by the Romans to the land in today’s Scotland north of their province of Britannia, beyond the frontier of their empire. The etymology of the name is probably from a P-Celtic source. Its modern usage is as a romantic or poetic name for Scotland as a whole, comparable with Hibernia for Ireland and Britannia for the whole of Britain. — Wikipedia, Caldonia

COLOR CHOICES

These colors are very close to my heart, as is Scotland (where I felt immediately at home the first time I set foot in St. Abbs to stay with Louise of Woolfish)  She runs an an amazing shop, by the way, you should stop by there if you’re on the East coast of Scotland!

Some of our earliest Semi Precious colors, as interpreted in FLOW

Some of our earliest Semi Precious colors, as interpreted in FLOW

I’m enjoying working up our FLOW colors, creating colors that graduate in hue and value as the yarn is unwound. In fact, I find it more satisfying than the way I’ve been doing all of our yarns so far, so I’m trying to figure out a way to create our basic colors along the same lines of our FLOW colors.

The No Spoilers line is doing extremely well, and YES, we DO intend to bring the 221B Colors back.  We were going to wait until the next season of Sherlock, but we may break down and do a holiday run… Stay tuned!

All of this is exciting because it’s pretty much exactly what we’d envisioned for this section of our business growth.  Our plan had been to develop some good base colors (our Semi Precious) then add new colors as they seemed pertinent (No Spoilers) and to introduce different ways to display those colors in the yarn (semi solid, chunky colors, blends and now FLOW)

I’m also working hard to develop uniformity, to make follow-able recipes and techniques to create our colors so that, as we grow, I can hire dyers and hand off some of the more physically difficult work.  The importance of this has become very evident these past 2 weeks.

I’m still learning, and as with any yarn there are differences from dye lot to dye lot, but my goal is to create colors that I can recreate with a certain level of consistency.

Finally my 20K graduate degree in “folding” (and dyeing) is paying off!

YARN CHOICES

We’re offering five yarns right now

  1. ModeWerk Superwash Merino Worsted
  2. ModeWerk Superwash Merino Fingering
  3. ModeWerk Superwash Merino Bulky
  4. ModeSock Superwash Merino/Bamboo/Nylon Blend
  5. ModeLuxe Silk & Merino Blend

Before we offer a yarn we test it thoroughly for wear, washing, knitability and just general good yarn juju.  We haven’t yet found a lace we love, or a MCN we want to stick with, but we promise that we won’t add a yarn to our permanent line unless we LOVE it ourselves!

We are also working with suppliers who we feel will be able to continue to carry these yarns for a long time, it’s so annoying to fall in love with a yarn only to see it head off to yarn heaven!

PROFIT MARGIN

As well as things are going, Kathleen and I keep reminding ourselves that we didn’t intend to be able to pay ourselves quite yet, and that being able to pay off all of our yarn, dye, and the cool (but expensive) equipment we purchased in June (using only profits from the business) is actually a huge WIN!  Aside from our initial investment and a couple hundred dollars more a few months in, the business is paying for itself so far.  Now we have to grow it so the business can pay US, too!

CLUB, ANYONE?

To that end, we’ve been discussing different types of Yarn Clubs we might work up.  We’d love to have your input on the type of club that you would like to belong to – tell us in the comments what your ‘dream club’ would be!  Would you like it to be project oriented?  Yarn centered? Maybe a mini-skein club?

IMG_0810Would you like different weights of yarn in different deliveries of the same club, or would you prefer to have a sock yarn or bulky yarn only club?

And what do you feel would be a fair price for this dream club you may be envisioning?

Obviously I’m asking you for some market research, but any advice you’d care to share would be happily and gratefully accepted!  I’ve committed myself to making at least one pattern a month available for free (patterns move yarn!) and perhaps one aspect of the club would be patterns which are only available to club members?

So, friends, as we grow and develop and try to address the hand-dyed-easy-care market we’re carving out for ourselves, know that we appreciate your comments, your business, your chatter and your good thoughts.  Thank you!

Even Keel

A good friend who I don’t speak with NEARLY often enough messaged me with sympathy today on our run of bad luck. I answered her:

“I think all of the shit is just now sinking in. When the worst happened (the car, my computer) we were just scrambling to get Andy to college. Now that a week’s gone by (and I’m in even MORE shingles pain) everything seems much darker. It will pass, we know it will. Now to shop for a used car…”

LIFE

We’re just keeping an even keel, trying not to let the two week crap storm hang over our heads, trying to be pro-active and forward looking. It’s helpful that it’s almost September, a time of new beginnings, because it feels like a good time to turn a page.

And, seriously, what we’ve lost is just STUFF.  Yes, some very big and expensive stuff, but it’s stuff. The kids are great, Gerry’s here, and I’m fine (just in pain, but so is Gerry ALL the time, and misery loves company!)

COMPUTER

I am fortunate to have a computer immediately available (I adore my wonderful, brilliant husband who drags computers home like stray cats and fixes them up!), and Carbonite is paying for itself (although the recovery is taking FOR EVER – but I can see that it’s happening – so I’m lucky!)  I don’t think I’ll lose many files, and every few months I backup on my hard drive in the basement, so nothing important is lost.  It’s just in limbo right now until I get the recovery re-installed.

Having said that, functioning this week is very difficult because I’m used to my email being setup as I like it (with all of my many folders and past emails arranged just ‘so’) and I want my browser like it used to be (with my shortcuts and bookmarks)  

I need to wait for the recovery to finish to see if I’m able to recover those small preference things that make such a difference to a semi geek like me.  I’m hopeful.

HEALTH

The shingles pain continues. I actually went to see a GI doc today because I was convinced that SOMETHING terrible is going on, but apparently the nerve pain from shingles can masquerade as some severe internal issues. So this awful pain continues.

The doc prescribed Lyrica. When I went to pick it up (after the Dentist, doing all of my errands on my bike because – no car!) the pharmacist said the insurance company wouldn’t fill it until I tried Gabapentine, which I couldn’t have because I didn’t have a prescription for it.

I explained I’d used Gabapentine for Fibromyalgia 4 years ago, and it really didn’t do anything for me. The upshot was nothing could be done, so I’m back to OTC pain meds. My GP prescribed a narcotic (a strain of hydrocodone) but I really hate taking it as it upsets my stomach.

Funny, you never see Nurse Jackie chugging Milk of Magnesia because all that hydro’s given her rock hard constipation.

So this is me moaning about my health again.  Someone said that once about me on a blog, and it’s stuck with me. I laugh about it some days, and other days I feel like a real whiner.

But the truth is, this pain is real and hurts like h@ll.  Maybe someone can benefit from my story (get the vaccine!) and maybe I can benefit from some words of wisdom!

The most helpful things I’ve heard so far are:

  • Epsom Salt Baths; I’m not a huge ‘bather’, but the Epsom Salts are one of the few things that really take the pain away.  I’m going to take a nice, long bath before I see my acupuncturist tomorrow. THANK YOU DEBORAH R!
  • Ice Packs: They really, really help with the pain. I have a tank top that I wear under a huge Tshirt, and I use safety pins to make little ‘pockets’ between the two garments where I can slip the packs so I don’t have to hold them in place.
  • Acetaminophen: It works. (Paracetamol for my UK friends…) Believe me, I WISH I could take the ‘fun drugs’ – but the pain of being backed up, the nausea, it’s just not worth it to me. So I’ve rediscovered the old family favorite, and it works.  I don’t take a lot, I discussed with the doc today, and I’m hopeful that in the next week the Lyraca will be approved by my insurance so I can see if THAT works better.
  • Movement Hurts: I know this sounds silly, but I tend to define a sickness on whether it is made better with movement, or made worse.  Fibro tends to get better if I can get out and bike, or do yoga, or stretch and swim. This shingle thing, on the other hand, just hurts more when I move.

I knew shingles was bad, and after Gerry’s stem cell transplant I was an eagle eye for any symptoms on him (and actually caught them once very early on, he got medication immediately and had no pain – yay!)

CAR

We’re still wrapping our heads around the car. At this point I don’t think it will be found, so it looks as though we’ll be in the market for a new (used) car. We liked the Hyndai, it had good sight lines, drove nicely, could fit a LOT inside and got decent gas milage. I know if Gerry had his druthers he’d get a VW, and if I ruled the world I’d get a Subaru, but the truth is, we’ll just be getting what we can afford.  Heaven help us. If anyone has a lead on a good, small, fuel efficient hatchback or station wagon in MN, let us know!

PHONE

I miss my phone quite a bit, mostly I miss the last few photos I took on it (pics of Andy which I hadn’t yet downloaded)  But it’s just a phone.  We bought it used (I jailbroke it) and this is when being cheap makes us happy. All of our phones, computers, ipads, etc., are bought as refurbs, used, or we do the refurbing/jailbreaking ourselves. So I’ll be looking for a new (used) iphone because I LOVE the interface, and until I get it I know I’ll feel a bit as though I’ve lost a finger.

In the mean time I have Max’s old cast of Samsung, with my sim card in it so I can make and receive calls.  But – and I’m serious – I cannot figure out how to use this thing.

Holding Pattern

Well, I went to Indiana to take Andy to school.

It just seemed that so much sh*t had hit the fan, I felt a bit like a wreck, and I wanted to go.

So my inner 6-year old went, and I was along for the ride. And I think overall it was a good thing that I did go; I can’t imagine that I’d have been much more comfortable here, and I think I did have a bit of a calming presence on Andy’s moving in.

Or maybe I’m just in a stupor.

It was a long drive, but the B&B we stayed in was wonderful! Being sick not at home is no fun, but this was the next best thing, and I’m very grateful to Leighanne at Seldom Scene Meadow B&B in Richmond, she made both of us feel very much at home!

The moving itself was incredibly painless (elevator dorm, who knew?) and the orientation sessions were plentiful and helpful. We enjoyed meeting Andy’s advisor and her roommates, we’re crossing our fingers that as classes begin she feels at home and not-overwhelmed. It seemed she was already making friends, that first month at college is HARD.

In case you’re not on facebook and missed the excitement, after my week of a kidney stone AND shingles, everything was topped off by a in home break-in (rather, a screen-slitting, when the downstairs window was left open and the opportunity proved too great)  My computer, cell phone and bag were taken. It wasn’t until the police arrived that we realized that my keys were on the bag, and thus the car had ALSO been stolen. Not a great day.

I think we’re both still in shock over it, and we spent Wednesday regrouping as quickly as we could to rent a car to take Andy to college (we had to rent an SUV as there really are no rentable station wagons, which felt unspeakably odd to both of us for the whole weekend!)

So all cards have been canceled, reports filed, accounts deleted, new EZ pass ordered (and received, but not in time for our trip, damn it!) and we’re looking at, perhaps, shopping for a new (used) car.  We have 30 days of rental, but we’re thinking we’ll dole that out so we can put off getting a new car for as long as we can.

We love being a one car family, but it makes it damned hard when that one car is stolen.

My shingles pain continues, and with it really painful digestive issues which come with the pain drugs (which I try not to take, I only take them when I absolutely must)  It’s not been a pleasant week, not in any sense of the word, except we are very proud of our daughter and loved seeing her begin to find her way at Earlham!

Happy News!

We have some happy news for Patty D! She’s the winner of our ball of ModeWerk Bulky, and as an extra bonus I actually FIXED the shopping cart button so folks can order this yarn (man, THAT was bad planning… having a broken button on a website that we were promoting…)

So if you tried to buy some Bulky but got some odd message, it should be fixed now.  Thanks so much for your patience.

Health

I’m feeling more human, but astounded at how bruised and in-pain I remain. Exhausted. I could sleep for 3 weeks, I think, and still not be myself again.

So I’ve made the very, very painful decision that when Andy goes off to college this week, I won’t be taking her.  Gerry and Max will go with her, I’ll stay here to sleep, try to eat some soup (all I’ve kept down since last Tuesday is some yogurt, a bit of soup, a frozen fruit bar and some fudgesickles)

I got up this morning and showered, got dressed, and decided I’d sit up and work on emails, contracts and other office type projects. However just writing these two paragraphs wiped me OUT, so I’m heading back to bed.

I would be NO help with the college move in, and I want this trip for Andy to be, “I’m SO excited about my new college!” not “I’m so worried about my mom’s health…”

Slow and steady, I guess.  The Valtrex is definitely helping the shingles, the most confusing and agonizing combination of numbness and burning pain I’ve ever experienced.

Thank you for your very kind wishes, I really appreciate them! I know I’ll be back to myself in a short bit, and now I definitely feel I’m finally on the upswing!