At first I thought we just had a weird cat. He likes to dress up in doll clothes. GIRLS doll clothes. Then I got this email… Evidently it’s a movement. And who’s on the cutting edge of it?


Yep, apparently while I’m out earning a living running all over hells half acre teaching knitting skills to stunning women (all of whom are fabulous…) he’s out gallivanting at the Minnesota/St. Paul Airport, trying on American Girl doll clothes.

How do I know? He was captured by the paparazzi. Or should I say puppy-razzi…

So we’re keeping a low profile. When I left to walk Max to the bus the photogs were 12 deep in front of our house. Hoping for a glimpse of Shiloh, evidently.

I Love St. Paul in Autumn
(how ’bout you?)
Being home for more than 4 days is a unique and wonderful experience, and also a chance to catch up on some work that’s needed to be done. Winterizing – that’s the ticket! So I’m going to run down to the nursery today and grab some bulbs and FINALLY get some into the ground before the frost comes. Or did that happen already…?

Then I can pretend that I’m sort of gardening. Last week I finally trimmed our hedges, what’s next – putting the garden to bed? Folks here are serious about gardening, so I’d better get on the stick. My reward? A lovely pumpkin cake, baked in a bundt pan, which the entire family is enjoying (Thank you, L&L!)

Another thing they’re serious about is KNITTING, which is one of the reasons I dragged my poor family halfway across the country to this Midwestern paradise, and I’m so gratified every time I see folks sitting around knitting at school events, coffee shops, police lineups (oops, didn’t mean to mention that last one. Damn kitten.)

I taught two classes at Borealis Yarns on Saturday (incidentally, they have a cat dressed up on their webpage – maybe it’s a St. Paul thing…?), and the folks there were so wonderful! It was my first time meeting Abby, the owner, who – along with Carol – took me out to the Ginkgo Cafe for lunch. Very good! I like this shop very much, and if I didn’t live within walking distance of the dear Yarnery, I’d be at Borealis once a week! I may just drop by for the Tuesday night knitting, at any rate…

The Borealis classes were pretty crowded – not lots of room to move around – but we got by one way or another! It made the rules more important than ever, though.

Anyone who’s taken a class with me knows my rules (yes, free-spirit Annie has rules. Obey or suffer.) So for those of you who haven’t yet taken a class with me, here they are:

Rule #1
You are NOT allowed to say anything about yourself in class that you wouldn’t want to hear your daughter say about herself.

This seems pretty much self explanatory (except for the time I had Joan Crawford in a class.)

I don’t like folks to talk themselves down – they pay me good money to do that myself, and if I let them do it, then I’m superfluous.

Seriously, though, words have power.

Not using certain words – ie, “I stink!” “I suck!” “I can’t do this, I’m stupid!” is one way to get my students to begin to wrap their minds around the concept that they have ALL the knowledge they need already within them.

My job is to bring this knowledge together in a useful way so they can connect the dots and remember the techniques.

Rule #2
When I’m talking, I should be the only one talking.
This is from my Brownie Leader days, but it serves me in good stead. Talking is a distraction and disrespectful, not just to me, but to the other students.

I lose my place, I become distracted, and then we lose precious time while I vamp about my 5th grade sleep away camp experience while I try to remember where I was in the class.

Plus, the folks sitting next to the talker have a hard time fully concentrating. I’m doing this for your own safety, the annoyed knitter next to you has sharp objects within reach.

Rule #3
Do NOT rip out in my class!!

I don’t mean that folks should NEVER rip out – I rip out frequently (I think of working through those rip-out knots as my own kind of sudoko – time consuming but fun and challenging)

My intention is that if folks make a mistake that they can’t solve in class, I’d like them to let me know, and we can go over it together and use it as a learning experience. I LIKE folks to make mistakes – I often say that if one isn’t making a mistake in my classes, one isn’t trying.

Mistakes – if we choose to embrace them and learn from them – can be a way to discover several new ways to do something. Bu
t I have to be able to SEE the mistake myself in order to give any sensible suggestion on how something might be fixed.

Few things are as frustrating to me as having someone try to describe a mistake to me, ask me how to fix it, and see the tangled mess of yarn in front of them (knowing that just 3 minutes earlier they had the errant swatch in their hands – and I could have really helped them quite a bit – had they not let some misplaced sense of shame force them to rip out the swatch.)

What usually happens is that as soon as I pick up a swatch and look at it (and, if you ever take a class with me, please DO let me take the swatch out of your hand! Don’t fight me, one of us will end up with the yarn, and one of us will end up with the needles…) the knitter has a mental connection and they’ll understand very clearly what happened – even before I do!

Sometimes it just takes someone else looking at your work for something to click.

Improving ME /Improving YOU
I can be kind of blunt about my need for students to follow these three rules. I’m finding that lately I have less patience than I used to for folks who just refuse to help me out by following rule #2 – and patience is the most important thing to have when teaching.

So my goal as I continue teaching is to find inventive and kind ways of getting folks to follow these three rules – to make the class more comfortable for everyone, and more useful for THEM!

Knitting Update
On the knitting end, I have some patterns to write up, and some designs to work through. I think I’m getting back on track for the Historic Knits book (working title) and I have a few designs that should be out soon for sale on my website.

And I’m really digging Ravelry. I already love Flickr, this takes the whole using photos while talking about your work to a new level. Knitters are geeks – thank god.
Right now I’m working up a version of Backyard Leaves in two colors (Autumnal) for my class in Virginia at On The Lamb,

finishing a Tilli Tomas cardigan and shell,

working on a Chameleon Creations summer top
and pondering life. And Max’s Heel.
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