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!

I must have been VERY bad

In a past life I must have REALLY pissed off someone – or maybe in this life – because the pain I’ve had the last few days is crazy.  A sore back sent me to bed early on Tues, where the pain became SO bad at 3am that Gerry said we should go to the ER.

Test, test, test.

Test, test, test.

Apparently I had had a kidney stone. Different tests showed that there’d been one, and the fact they couldn’t see it on the scan led the doctor to say that I’d passed it. “The pain should go away now, just rest for a few days and make an appt to see your own GP.”

But the pain didn’t go away, it got worse.

And added to this pain was an incredible skin sensitivity (think of how your skin feels during a bad flu, then add poison ivy pain to that) and I had a lot to talk about with my doc on Thursday. As she was examining the part of my back that hurt the worst, in the general location of my right kidney, I half joked, “It couldn’t be shingles, could it?”

Yes, yes it could.

My constant companion

My constant companion

I’m on the watch for shingles all the time, but for Gerry, not for me. Because of his stem cell transplant and various drugs he’s on, he’s more susceptible to develop shingles. There has been at least one time when I caught the symptoms on him just in the nick of time (earning raised eyebrows and a smile from our oncologist) At the time it was taken care of with a quick course of Valtrex.

But these shingles had a bit of time to settle in, and they are intense.  Everything you’ve heard in those TV ads is true. I have so much pain that I’m nauseous.

The nausea makes it hard to keep the pain meds down. It’s a vicious circle, and I’m in the center of it.  I haven’t had this kind of out-of-control nausea since my first pregnancy.  I can’t wear anything but the loosest cotton dress, anything touching my body is cause for agony.

In other words, I’m not a good date.

In fact, if you asked me what was going on with my body (and if I hadn’t had a hysterectomy and wasn’t 52) I’d say, “Obviously I’m in labor!”

Since Tuesday. This sucks.

Work Continues…

Our newest design, Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

Lanark Plaid Cowl, worked in Bulky Loch Ness, Thistle & A Wee Dram

The worst part is that I can’t get much work done. I finished up some schematics for my new book and got that out the door, and yesterday I wrote up a simple plaid pattern for a multi colored cowl (in our new Caledonian Colors) but my concentration is poor, and I can only knit for a few minutes before pain causes me to change my position into a non-knitting one.

Thursday evening we had to reshoot three sweaters for my upcoming book, and I KNEW that if we didn’t do it, it would be BIG TROUBLE. Andy goes off to college next Thursday, and I really needed to get front shots of 3 garments.

My photographer (Lara Need of Math4Knitters) is amazing, and she did most of the work. The models (Andy & our friend Lydia) were beautiful with great attitudes, so it was as stress free as a shoot could go.

I consider it a huge success that I was able to wait
until we got home to be sick. We all have different yardsticks.

I haven’t been able to ride my bike (the idea makes me break out in a cold sweat) and that makes the fibro pain grow in unwanted ways.

Well, what doesn’t kill us… right?

I find myself SO hesitant to write about this (I’ve actually been rather hesitant to blog at all these days…) because I know that someone will pop up to say, “Stop whining about your pain, just work through it!”

And they’d be right in a sense. The best thing to do with pain is to find a path through it, and sometimes talking about it isn’t the best path.

But the last 3 days have been overwhelming. I gave birth twice, to two big babies, the last one (11lbs) with no medication. This pain is worse. And it doesn’t seem to want to end.

Having said that, the pain does seem infinitesimally better since yesterday. I think the meds are working, but the nausea is as bad as ever.  But even that small change for good is reason to hope.

The cowl, down Jasper gets around

The cowl in it’s down position.
Jasper gets around

Your Reward

For reading my long tale of woe is that I’d like to gift you with the cowl pattern!

Lanark Plaid Cowl To download click on image of pattern.

Lanark Plaid Cowl
To download click on image of pattern.

Bear in mind, it’s been written by a woman in pain, and the tech edit was pretty quick and dirty. But the pattern is crazy simple [notice I didn't say EASY, just SIMPLE] and if you want, you can consider it a fun test knit…

And (because I’m not in my right mind) I’ll pick ONE name from the comments of a person to receive a ball of ModeWerk Bulky. This is soft, beautiful yarn – it knits up like a dream – AND it’s super wash. I so hate making a gift for someone, then attaching a “care instructions” card to it.

Just leave a comment below, I don’t care what it’s about, and your name will go in the hopper for the drawing!  I don’t want to restrict this to US folks, so if you want to participate and you’re in a foreign country you’ll have to pony up $10 for shipping (I’ll cover the rest, and all of the shipping costs if the winner’s from the US) Leave your comment by midnight on Sun, Aug 17th (US Central Time) and we’ll pick a winner on Monday.  Good luck!

So go, leave a message, and make me laugh.  Please.

Summer in Minnesota FLOWS On!

Gorgeous, MN

Gorgeous, MN

I love it here. I’m a woman who likes cold weather, and I LOVE chilly Summer evenings and sleep-with-the-windows-open nights.  I love Minnesota.

And, being a Virgo, I love home.

Being home is better than anything else to me (and I do love travel!) so this is a very special time – I know I’ll be home for a few weeks and I’m in heaven!

Butts at Olds!

Butts at Olds!

Last week I traveled up to Olds, Alberta to teach at Olds Fiber Week – which was lovely – but I am SO glad to be home, back on my bike, and getting my health back in order!

Travel really takes it out of me (out of so many of us) and it generally takes me about 1/2 the time of the trip to feel like ‘myself’ again.

Having said that, at the start of August I’ll be teaching at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair! I’m offering 4 classes (listed to the right in the calendar area) and some are filling up very fast! If you’re in the Chicago area or will be attending this great festival, please register soon so you’re not disappointed!

Bolero Book

Right now I’m focusing on finishing writing the 25 patterns for my book, working up the schematics and charts.  It will be published by Stackpole books, and the samples have received HUGE positive comments whenever I show them while teaching. I’m afraid I cannot show pics of the finished items (it’s in my contract) but I can give a small taste of some of the items!

I have a feeling this will be an pretty popular book; the patterns are very wearable, many of them are very simple to knit, and the yarns I was able to use are just gorgeous!

And – BONUS! – I just heard from my editor that I can have a bit more time for the pattern writing. This is HUGE because I’m dealing with a cracked tooth/abscess thing right now, so my thoughts are scattered, to say the least.

Dealing with mouth pain is not the best frame of mind for doing lots of math.

ModeKnit Yarn

In our own little corner of the knit world, we’ve begun a new line of colors called FLOW!

They’re long-color change yarns, and we’re using our established Semi Precious colors as a jumping off place – here you can see Spessartine (hand painted) vs Spessartine (Flow)  Basically I’m deconstructing the colors and layering them, separately, with the actual blending happening between the hues.

Right now we’re offering selected colors, you can buy them by the ball (limited quantities, once they’re out of stock they’re gone until I dye up more!)

I’m open to any color suggestions you might have for blending; what would YOU like to see?

Garden Spot of Alberta!

A lovely gift from a student!

A lovely gift from a student!

So, until I was approached by Olds College, I wasn’t aware of Olds Fiber Week.

I feel silly – after all, I should know about these things – but there it is.

And boy, I’d been missing a lovely week of fiber fun!

The Olds Fiber Week is small, not a huge extravaganza, but the folks here are PASSIONATE about spinning, weaving, dyeing and – perhaps with a foot in the door this year – knitting (?)!

Ground Transportation from Calgary Airport

Transportation from Airport

I taught three full day classes, I was able to get deep into the topics (always delightful) and my students were SO wonderful! Excited, unfailingly pleasant and polite (a highly underrated skill set) and hard working.

Well, they were Canadians, so that goes without saying.

A happy student & her mini Kraken

Student & Mini Krakken

The staff of the show is all new this year, and with the exception of a few hiccups (which EVERY event has) they did a really wonderful job of allowing the students to enjoy their week of fiber fun with very little worry about the change in show management.  Everyone worked SO hard, and the hard work paid off in very happy students.

Olds Pergola

Olds Pergola

Olds Irises

Olds Irises

The show is held at Olds College, in Olds, Alberta (about an hour north of Calgary) and I was totally unprepared for how beautiful the campus would be.  It’s essentially an agricultural and animal science school, lots of equine information and farm courses available, and the gardens throughout the campus reflect a commitment to healthy, beautiful botanical specimens.

The walk from my rooms to my classes was a LONG one, and because of various external triggers (temperature, exhaustion) my fibro has really flared up this week. I’m ashamed of how hobbly I look as I meander back and forth, but if one has to walk slowly, these gardens are a lovely place to stroll!

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

Tomorrow I fly back to St. Paul, which is about a month ahead of the plants here.  It’s been wonderful to experience tulips and lilacs again (they’re finished in late May back home) but I’m pining to see my husband, my pooch and my own not-very-exciting garden back home!

The kids are at their various camps; Andy’s canoeing in the Canadian Arctic, Max is attending Debate Camp at Augsburg in Minneapolis, so when I get home Gerry and I will be temporarily child free!

Writing Less, Dyeing More!

It may seem to those of you who read my blog that I’ve been abducted by aliens, biked off a cliff, or lost the use of my fingers.

None of those are true, but I HAVE been abducted by a dye pot!

ModeKnit Yarn is doing extremely well – we’re having a hard time keeping up with demand (getting easier every day as we figure this thing out) and we’re planning for our next big show in Illinois (the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair)

New colors, new inspirations and ESPECIALLY new ways of dyeing yarn is on the horizon. We hesitate to offer the newest items online because my personal preference is to only sell things online that I know I can duplicate (for future, follow-up orders)  So in order to see our latest colors and dye methods, catch us at the fiber shows.

To see a list of ModeKnit Yarn fiber shows, and where I’ll be teaching, click here.

BOOK

This weekend will be the final photography for my newest book (due out Spring 2015 with Stackpole Books) and I’m finishing up the patterns. It’s been a VERY fun book to work on, all of the pieces are small items, boleros & armery pieces and head-wrap/scarf types of things.

Once that is out the door I’ll have MUCH more time to devote to developing pattern support (and having samples knitted) for ModeKnit Yarn. There are SO many ideas I have, I cannot wait to share them with you as this Summer stretches out before us!

ModeKnit FLOW

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

Our earliest Semi Precious colors in FLOW

We’ve been toying with methods to create long gradient color changes, and I believe we’ve hit on an excellent method.

You’ll be able to read more about this over at the ModeKnit Yarn Site as the colors are available online (as noted above, before I offer them online I want to make certain I can reproduce them faithfully and in quantity)

But here’s a taste of what I’m dyeing up these days! That’s Spessartine, Lazurite, Mercury, Tanzanite & Ametrine, all anxious to be knit up!

Health

I think I’ve figured something out, and I’m a bit chagrined that it’s taken me so long to come to the following conclusion; my fibro is strongly affected by synthetic sweeteners.

This Spring Vickie Howell expressed surprise when she saw me drinking a diet coke. Her own mom has Fibromyalgia, and the aspartame in DC is a trigger for her flare ups.

I laughed it off, saying I’d never noticed a connection. And I took a long sip of my Diet Coke.

The truth is, the only time I generally drink Diet Coke is when I’m traveling, on the road, and there are so many variables that when I have a flareup while I’m on a trip I hadn’t put two and two together.

When I’m home I drink water (a LOT of it) and unsweetened tea (hot and cold).  I generally don’t add sweetener to anything (when I do have sweetened foods, it’s a cake I’ve baked myself or a piece of candy, not drinks.)

But this weekend was Andy (Hannah’s) graduation party, and we’d stocked up on Diet Coke for the festivities. It was also, coincidentally, one of the worst flare ups I’ve had in almost 3 years.  As I was lying in bed for the 2nd straight day, not able to do much besides write in agony and play 2048 (damn you, Adina, I will best you yet!) I was befuddled as to what was the cause of this latest flare. And I sipped another Diet Coke.

Was it the pressure of finishing a book, the stress of having in-laws visit and Andy’s graduation? The financial working-out of paying for college? The party? The work of dyeing? The fact I hadn’t been for a bike ride in over a week? I couldn’t put it together.

http://easycooking4one.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/aspartame_artificia.jpgAs soon as I was feeling slightly better I went out for a long ride. Only instead of my regular water I took some vitamin water in my bottle, not realizing it was sweetened with a non-sugar substitute. The effect was immediate.

I rode 19 miles, but I felt like hell by the time I got home. That’s NEVER happened to me—the bike is where I go to escape flare ups!

And then it hit me. The common factor in both my major flare up, and my mini one on the bike was the imitation sweetener.

So I’m off the aspartame. I only wish I’d listened more clearly to Vickie when she suggested the cause/effect her mother experienced! I’ll keep track of how I’m feeling, and I’m hopeful that this will make travel a bit easier, too (no more on-the-road diet cokes!)