First, may I just say, “Go Bears!

I know where I am, and I know how to blend in.

I’m in Chicago – I’ve been in the area since Sunday when I arrived at Midway, rented my car and drove out to St. Charles to stay with Neil and Lesley of Wool & Co. What gracious hosts they are! They made me feel so welcome and so comfortable, like a cousin or good family friend! Knowing how beautiful their shop is, I shouldn’t have been surprised by how lovely their home is (but I have houses on the brain these days, and find myself fretting in non-helpful ways about our new house, it’s size, the garage, etc.)

I taught 4 classes at Wool & Co, plus a signing on Monday night. The classes were VERY well attended (the signing was rather low-key, but I appreciated that as I was a little worn) and the students were a delight. Every time I teach is a new adventure – I spend the first few minutes of the class evaluating where the students are, and where I may need to do some boosting to get everyone on the same page for the project. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, but I DEFINITELY feel the onus is on me to evaluate and assist EVERY student to find their own level of achievement in my class.

The range of skills I find in yarn shop classes is always intruiging. One person may be a very experienced knitter, yet may lack a few basic skills because in their knitting life they’ve concentrated on other techniques. Another knitter may just have been knitting for a few months (or weeks!) but their sense of adventure and passion pulls then through. One thing I’ve learned is to NEVER (and I use that word carefully) judge a knitter by the amount of time they’ve been acquainted with the sticks and strings. When I have a student who is struggling with a technique, I see their pain – I FEEL their pain, and I am with them every step of the way.

There are few things more frustrating than being in a classroom situation, seeing those around you sailing on with a technique while you sit just trying to wrap your mind around the first step. I’ve been there – I’ve been there a LOT – so I do understand. What I try to do is get the students to relax if at all possible. It’s difficult to relax when you’re in a group setting – a group of new folks – but it IS possible. I use humor to lighten things, to make folks (hopefully) understand that this isn’t rocket science and if they don’t get this skill at first, they’ll get it at last.

I hope I succeeded with the group at Wool & Co – I think I did – and I was so proud of EVERY person in my classes. They did yeoman work! I may be fretting too much – but I’m in a fretful state of mind.

Fretting is not helpful. I’m not usually a frett-er, but I’m distanced from my family, from my old AND my new house, and most especially from my little boy who turned NINE yesterday and I wasn’t there. Bad mommy.

After my classes at Wool & Co, I stayed one more night with the Edmonsons (more porridge, please…) and the drove over to my good friends Tom & Wayne’s house for a lovely day of fondue, the most amazing chicken pot pie ever, a merringue dessert (whose name escapes me), and a beautiful afternoon with more friends.

The “girls” – Char, Linda & Kathy – drove up from Indianapolis to take a day of classes with me and I was SO excited and glad to see them. I met them when I taught at Stitches & Scones, and we bonded immediately. That’s where I met Tom, too, and his wonderful partner, Wayne.

They are great friends. Char saved me from a stroke by arranging to get my blood pressure medicine prescription filled, Linda sparked through Wool & Co and livened the place up, and Kathy was coming down from a hard weekend of knitting like a maniac finishing some socks which will appear in a book. I felt her pain – BOY did I feel her pain – and I am SO proud of her for going foward with her design career!

So on Wednesday we spent the day gossiping and eating – then the girls drove home and Tom, Wayne and I settled in for TV and scrambled eggs. This is living!

Today I’ll be going to Lornas Laces to meet with Beth, just to chat and see where the magic happens, then I’ll be signing Men Who Knit at Arcadia Knitting (warning – if you go to their website you’ll see a big picture of me, front and center. Be afraid…)

Yesterday was the official PUB DATE of Men Who Knit & The Dogs Who Love Them (and I APOLOGIZE for not getting the men’s profiles up on the website as I’d hoped to do – I promise I WILL by this weekend!!!) which was marked by – as stated before – me being AWAY from Maxie on his birthday.

I did, however, get him what I think is a cool gift… We listen to recorded books a lot, and he and Hannah both like music. So I went to the site and looked at the refurbished ipods. I found I could get a shuffle for around $50, so that’s what the boy got – plus a groovy hoodie with built in earphones in the hood and a connector in the front pocket to plug the ipod into. And because Hannah’s been such a brick about the move – so upbeat and incredibly helpful – and because she loves music and audio books as much as Max does, she also got a shuffle.

n you say, “Guilty Mommy?” Actually, I’m not usually such a softie, but I’m thinking with the move and so many other changes it can be a good thing to give each of them a sort of portable refuge with familiar music to turn to after a hard day of learning to fit into a new school. And – more rationalization – I figure that I saved at least that much with my incredible packing and loading earlier last week, so I’d like to put it toward making the kids a little happier…

I know. THINGS don’t make kids happy – having mom THERE does. They’ll have me soon enough…

This weekend I’ll be teaching 4 classes at the Windy City Knitting Guild, and I’ll be doing a trunk show / presentation on Friday night. I’m SO looking foward to it – it’s my first time at this guild (and I LOVE my guild engagements!) and now that I’m practically a midwesterner I want to get to know all of the guilds in the area! I have a lot of other midwestern engagements this Spring – I wanted to stay relatively close to home – check them out on my appearances page to see if I’ll be near you!

And, in closing, may I just say,

(sorry C, L & K – I know where I am… and I’m not a fool!)
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