I’m Shorter.

The last time I went to my doctor and was measured, I was a full inch shorter than the last time.  ONE INCH! This was a different doctor’s office, and I’m certain there are some discrepancies in how hard the nurse pushes down that little metal arm on top of my head to get the reading, but an inch is a LOT!

So it’s not so much that I’ve gained weight this year, as that I’ve lost height. And it shows! Clothes seem to fit differently, my own ‘personal space’ just feels different.

It’s frustrating as I’ve been eating pretty intelligently this year (although never enough leafy greens, always working on that!) but I haven’t been cycling as much as I have in the past.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.48.09 AMOr maybe I have.

I just made a chart of my total miles per month (I’ve been keeping track of all these numbers via Daily Mile since 2010) and it looks like my cycling has actually INCREASED in the past few years.

Wow.  I guess I am cycling a lot.  Those 4 and 7 mile rides really add up!

That doesn’t change the fact that clothes are fitting weirdly (not tight, just weird) so I have NO idea what’s going on…  It’s so odd when a portion of your personality’s been based on being tall, and suddenly it seems you’re one of the short ones in the room!

Well, regardless, I’m off for a long bike ride today. I’ve earned it, damnit, and I deserve it!

Brahmin MothYesterday I did something I haven’t done in months, I biked over to St. Kates and sat on the porch, knitting.

I’m finishing up a sample garment that we’ll be releasing in December, a scarf (shawl?) I’ve based on the beautiful Brahmin Moth.

I’ll reveal the images later, but it’s one of the nicest things I think I’ve ever designed.  I’m really excited about it, as soon as it’s tech edited I’ll have some folks test knit it, then I’ll release it!

Cuckoo Wasp

Cuckoo Wasp

I often get inspiration for colors from insects, they’re so beautiful! While looking through a bunch of moth and butterfly images I ran across this amazing moth, and knew I had to create a garment that reflected the stunning contrast and tone gradations.

I’m terrified of wasps, but one of the most beautiful creatures on earth is the Cuckoo Wasp, which was the basis for one of our colorways in our FLOW club last year.

I was so excited to find this baby online (and NOT in my house) and it was thrilling to be able to match the colors in yarn!

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn in ModeWerk Fingering

Here’s some of the Cuckoo Wasp yarn already dyed, ready to be rolled into balls.  I knit all the fabric up, then dye it (so I can place the long-color gradients) and then roll it into balls.

Yes, it’s labor intensive, but it’s worth it for the beautiful FLOW effect!

I’d be interested in hearing from you what color inspirations you see in your life!  Please add a link in comments to an animal, landscape, food, book – anything that gives you a ‘color shiver!’

A New Year

Atticus wears a leaf hat in NJ, 2012

Atticus wears a leaf hat in NJ, 2012

I always think of Autumn as the REAL start of the new year. It’s not a Jewish thing, it’s a school thing.

When Gerry and I had been married for a few years, he pointed this out to me. “Every September it’s like you always want to start a new project!”  And that’s been the case.

The past year has been incredibly rough. So rough, I didn’t want to talk about it much to anyone, I just wanted to keep my head down and get through it.

It wasn’t a bad year – in many ways it’s been a pretty sensational year! But it’s been an incredibly taxing and difficult year.  So I’m hoping my Autumn mojo will kick in and Sept/Oct 2015 will mark a departure from some of the rough patches of Sept 2014.

Max masquerading as Ed Sheeran

Max (on right) masquerading as Ed Sheeran (on left)

Maybe it’s having a new business begin to take off, at the same time as I have one kid getting used to college and the other going through the whole testing/application/grant seeking treadmill. Maybe it’s the ups and downs of Gerry’s health (which is miraculously good considering no one thought he would be here) but still takes a lot of physical and mental energy from both of us to stay on top of.

Maybe it was having one computer crash (thus losing a bunch of stuff that carbonite didn’t back up) then having another one stolen a few months later (thus losing even MORE stuff that carbonite didn’t back up – I’m finished with Carbonite – I’m doing my own backing up using DropBox now!) 

That kind of thing can really mess with your mind – thinking that you know where a file is, then realizing that it’s gone forever is a kind of small mourning that happens over and over again.

Andy gets a tattoo!

Andy gets a tattoo!

Whatever the reason for this difficult, messed up year (and there is no single reason, it’s just … life) I doubt it will be changing any time soon.  So I’m going to try to make a change myself.

I used to blog all the time, as I went for bike rides (another thing that I am not doing as often as I’d like) I would ponder blog content. I’d take a bunch of photos so I’d have ‘blog-fodder’, it was something that grounded me.  When I look back on this past year I’m struck by how little I blogged, which is understandable, but I don’t think it helped.  Blogging helps me keep a handle on what’s bubbling under the surface.  Sometimes when I write it’s as if I turn my mind off and my hands are on auto-pilot, and I miss that feeling.

My bike, my man, my dog and my new haircut!

My bike, my man, my dog and my new haircut!

So I’m going to make an October resolution; I’m going to blog more. I’m going to find a use for all those photos I take, I’m going to pick up the online thread of my life with the accompanying cast of characters popping in.

Who knows, I may even do a podcast every now or then…

Two Weeks of Marathon (no, IRONWOMAN!)

Oy, what a two weeks I’ve had!  Perhaps the hardest two weeks in my professional career, and also the most satisfying!

The Pascuzzi-Mobile, Ready To Roll!

The Pascuzzi-Mobile, Ready To Roll!

First, this was preceded by a few months of hard graft; one show after another, one teaching gig after another, personal trips that don’t bear mentioning (but were a bit fraught) and LOTS of yarn dyeing.

The two weeks started with the final touches of readying yarns for Interweave Yarn Fest, last minute dyeing and skein making.  Work, work, and more glorious work!

Then the drive out to Colorado.  I love driving, I was thrilled to drive out. It’s something I do well, and I really enjoy the feeling of the wheels on the pavement. I think it’s my own type of meditation.

Wire Knitting While Waiting For ZZ Top To Fix Our Flat

Wire Knitting While Waiting For ZZ Top To Fix Our Flat

But it is a bit tiring, that long, hard focus. Especially across the high plains – lots of trucks, lots of tumbleweeds, and almost an entirely uphill drive.

Once in Colorado the shift to upper altitude didn’t kick in immediately, which was great because my first day there Kathleen, the other half of ModeKnit Yarns, and I had to set up our booth in the Yarn Fest Marketplace.

The following day Kathleen womanned the booth while I taped two classes for Interweave Craft Daily.

Interweave's AV Guys

Interweave’s AV Guys

It’s always a lot of fun to work with the IK video crew, they’re sensational guys!

A morning off, which was necessary because by now the altitude had caught up with me and I needed some reset and hydration, then full-on teaching for four very full classes, LOTS of selling in the marketplace, and general fun with other yarn folks!

2015-04-16 12.01.56We tore down the booth on Saturday night, packed up, and after teaching one last class on Sunday morning we started our drive back to MN.  I drove, because I love it, and we were home in St. Paul by Monday afternoon.  Huzzah!

I slept for half a day, much needed, then Tues, Wed & Thurs were dyeing days.

Yarn Fest was sensational – we sold out of several of our yarns (we returned with only FOUR balls of ModeSock Flow!) so I was trying to fill up our yarn coffers before the wonderful Minnesota Knitting Guild’s yearly event, Yarn Over!

Yarn Over has a very special place in my heart.  It was at Yarn Over in 2006 that I began to hatch my plan to move my family out here to MN. It’s a move I’ve never regretted, and I feel I owe a great deal to Minnesota (including my husband’s continued health – thank you Mayo Clinic!)

The kids have thrived here, life is very good for families here, and I think all of us felt less pressure to live up to a certain perfection of appearance and lifestyle we may have felt in NJ (which we also love!)

Today was Yarn Over, and once again it didn’t disappoint!

Mini Skein Sets

Mini Skein Sets

What an amazing gathering of fiber and yarn loving folks, crossing all skill levels, ages and genders. And we sold out of several of our yarns again. We return home with all of our 221B and Dragon Dances miniskeins sold out, with just a few of our Caledonian Colors, Knitting Dead and Midwife Speaking left.  And a TON of orders to fill in the next few weeks.  This kind of busy I’ll take any day!

This feels amazing.

2014-10-25 13.11.17We have had good fiber shows in the past year (ModeKnit Yarn’s first fiber show was actually 2014 Yarn Over) but these last two weeks have exceeded all our expectations. SO much work, and SO much reward!

THANK YOU to all of our customers, to everyone who took the time to stop by our booth (even if you just looked or commented!) and THANK YOU to the staffs of Yarn Fest and Yarn Over. Your own hard work is GREATLY appreciated by this fledgling yarn dyeing company – we’re very grateful!

March Madness

This has been the busiest late Winter of my life, the craziest March so far, and I’m not seeing any signs that Spring will be any less of a Payday bar than the rest of the year (payday = nutty? Get it?)

Entrelac On A Bike

Entrelac In My Blue Tulip Bike Pannier Bag

I’m tired. Mentally I’m tired, and physically I’m just now catching up on rest I missed in January and February.

I can sometimes ‘create’ energy for myself by exercising wisely. For me that means Yoga (when I can get my sorry butt into downward facing dog) or cycling (which I’ve been able to do quite a bit this week – YAY for a warm spell in MN!)

I’ve learned, though, that with an energy-draining condition like fibromyalgia it is difficult to catch up on rest and impossible to store it up for hard times ahead. I can only try to build up my stamina. Ride, fat girl, ride!

However, the excellent thing about working on one’s own business is that hours are fluid. Except for scheduled events like teaching engagements and fiber shows (of which I’ve had many this Winter) I can choose to rest when I need to, and work when my body is rested.

This works well for me as far as dyeing goes – I get up early and dye while I have physical strength.  Then as the day passes and my body becomes tired, and pain sets in, I withdraw to the most comfortable chair in the house and get ‘paperwork’ – computer stuff, pattern writing, emails, etc. – done.

The work I do is hard, physically and mentally, but I’m so fortunate that I’m able to compartmentalize it and work on each piece with the best part of my working self.

The Nut of an Idea

The Nut of an Idea

Right now I’m working on two new online classes for Interweave Press, Knitting With Wire and Charted Entrelac. They’re two of my favorite classes, two techniques that I return to over and over when I just want to unwind with some FUN knitting, and I’m excited to be able to offer them as online classes.

This means, however, a butt load (technical term) of previously unplanned work before Yarn Fest in Colorado April 14-16 (we’ll be recording the classes the day before Yarn Fest opens)

Step Outs for Entrelac

Step Outs for Entrelac, worked in ModeWerk Bulky

There is a lot of planning, writing scripts, and working up “Step Outs” (step by step samples of the project to be covered in the class)

I enjoy this kind of work. It’s perfect for a Virgo, a chance to try to organize what could be a chaotic TV shoot into comprehensible steps.

Today is devoted to step outs and script writing and physical resting.

Tomorrow, the world!

Williamsburg Peace

I’m sitting in bed in a beautiful room in Colonial Williamsburg, the sun streaming through the shutters and limning the rocking chairs on my balcony with a morning glow.  It’s glorious, and I’m very grateful to be here!

This weekend I taught at a brand new retreat, History Unwound, and it was one of the nicest teaching experiences I’ve had in a career of lovely teaching engagements.

Starting a retreat from scratch is one of the hardest things for a knit person to do. Kimberly Villareal (Somebunnyslove on Ravelry) put this together with the help of her husband, Chris, various helpers and volunteers (primary among them Trish – ElizabethsMommy on Ravelry)

2015-03-15 18.57.05

One of Donna D’s beautiful mittens from her upcoming book on Lithuanian Knitting Traditions.

I admire Kimberly’s ability to have a vision, make a plan, and find a way to make it happen. She acquired sponsors, found folks to supply and create goody bags, went after some excellent teachers and lecturers. She presented an amazing array for her guests!

I felt so flattered to be teaching alongside Anna Zilboorg, Franklin Habit and Donna Druchunas, three knitting ‘greats’, as well as Rohn Strong, Beth Smith and Sharon Hilgers, three folks I did NOT get enough time with!  I swear, Rohn MUST be related to me somehow, he is the spit and image of many of my cousins, a red-headed version of my late brother!)

The retreat was exactly what one should be – a chance for folks to gather, take classes, shop for some yarn and fiber related items (I bought a change purse!) and, above all, RELAX and recharge the batteries!

If I felt relaxed and recharged after teaching for 2 days, I can only imagine how good the students must have felt!

I hope this is the first of MANY History Unwound retreats! It’s such an excellent idea, and there are so many interesting historical and fiber related locations where future retreats can be held!

2015-03-14 16.12.30

“See, Apple’s in the slammer, but Little Pear’s got the cabbage to spring Apple (that is, if Officer Donut don’t get too greedy!)”

I would advise anyone who is interested in this type of event to ‘like’ History Unwound on Facebook so you can stay on top of developments for future years.  I feel SO fortunate to know Kimberly, and to have had a chance to be part of this delicious event!

And NOW I get to fly home, to see my favorite place in the world (wherever Gerry is) and to see my daughter! Andy’s home from college for Spring Break, and having both she and Max home is so joyful to me! I’m a lucky, lucky woman!

My flight doesn’t leave until this afternoon, so I’ll be able to do a bit of exploring before I head out.  Or maybe I’ll just find a beautiful location and sit and knit!  Exhaustion has hounded me this Winter, more than it ever has before, and it’s been worrying.

Colonial Annie On A Bike

Colonial Annie On A ‘Hobby Horse’ Bike

I’m certain that it’s partly due to an increased travel schedule.  This marks the 5th long trip in 2 months for teaching or selling yarn. Winter’s are always hard on the Fibromyalgia, but this year all of the travel has doubly sapped my strength.

That’s why I’m so psyched to get home, to get back on my bike again and work out the kinks. Riding my bike really DOES energize me in a way nothing else does.  Immediately after a ride I’m wiped out, but within a day or so, I begin to feel the positive effects on my stamina.

This weekend I had moments when I was absolutely overwhelmed with exhaustion and pain, which is why the opportunity to sleep in today, rest in bed while I write a blog post, and just sit in the sun and knit are moments to be treasured. And I do. I’m a lucky woman.

Vacation! (?)

Gulf Coast, Post Sunset

Gulf Coast Sunset

I promised myself 8 years ago that we’d actually DO vacations. We’d find a way, through frequent flier miles and Vacation Rental By Owner, to relax a bit each year.  It’s something folks in Europe do without blinking, and something more Americans should do.  For pity’s sake, folks, we work damn hard and we deserve a bit of a break!

This year our getaway (without the kids, Andy’s in college and Max has that high school thing…) was courtesy my business partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, and her brother. They own a lovely home down in Florida, where her mother lived, and her brother’s family only uses the upper floor.

So when Kathleen offered the space to us for a week we jumped at it – YES!

Actual Spirit Air Passenger (contemplating that death may be preferable to another Spirit flight)

Actual Spirit Air Passenger (contemplating death, which may be preferable to a Spirit Airlines flight)

If you follow my tweets, you know the trip down was not stellar. Actually, it wasn’t the trip, just the check-in and boarding. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing.

I’d been warned & never believed how bad it was. Now I do.

The past week had been unexpectedly difficult. I taught in NY, which was great, but got all light-headed at the end of my class and still feel like a wuss about that.

Then I got snowed in (iced in) and had to stay an additional day in the NYC area. It wasn’t bad, I was fortunate enough to get to visit with some very dear friends, but it was taxing!

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 6.15.26 PMOver the weekend there was a family emergency which compelled me to fly and drive quite a distance over a two day period, which was also taxing (physically and mentally).  When I got back to St. Paul, I jumped right into my work, attempting to get 3 days of skeining and dyeing finished in one day (which I did – sort of…) and just as I was catching my breath it was time to board the plane.

I hadn’t entirely unpacked all week.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 6.13.33 PMBut here we are, finally, in beautiful Fort Meyers Beach, FL, where it’s lovely and sunny and beautiful!

Folks here are saying it’s a lot chillier than normal, but right now in MN it’s 1º, perspective is always helpful.

Our first day here we visited the Koresh Unity Historic Site.  I’d actually visited this place back in 1991, when I took a solo 1-week vacation from grad school.

Who but me would go, alone, to Florida for Spring Break
to visit Celibate Utopian Communities?

The Hollow Earth

The Hollow Earth

I’d told Gerry about their fascinating and kooky concept that the earth was actually a hollow ball (with us on the inside edge, looking toward the center of the sphere when we gaze ‘up’ at the sky)

If I hadn’t discovered a book about the community, Hollow Earth by David Standish, I might have thought I dreamed the whole thing.

Koreshan Furniture

Koreshan Furniture

I was surprised to see it was only 5 miles from Ft. Myers, so off we went!

It’s a beautiful site, with a very interesting story. As with many 19thC ‘Utopian’ communities, the Koreshan Unity (NO relation to David Koresh) believed both in celibacy and equal rights for women.

Both were definite draws for me in grad school.

Gerry & Water Tank

Gerry & Water Tank

Along the lines of the Shakers (some of whom made up the community) they built furniture, baked bread, made clothing and ran a printing business.

Except for the celibacy thing, they might still be active today…

If you’re in Florida and have any interest in history, it’s worthwhile to visit! It’s a lovely site with many interesting activities for folks year round!

Channeling Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the Koreshan Bamboo Landing

Channeling my inner Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings at the Koreshan Bamboo Landing

Rounding out our day, we visited Brisket Brothers BBQ in Fort Myers. This rib joint is owned by Kathleen’s brother, Robert, and the food is DELICIOUS!

Driving there the traffic was stop and start, and my leg was sore and achy from the braking (which I thought was odd…)

After we had our very tasty lunch (pulled pork for me, corned beef for Gerry) we headed home for an evening walk on the beach (where I felt oddly achy and chillier than I should have)

We had a drink, a ‘bucket o’ fun’ (which we shared, I couldn’t drink more than a sip or two)
and then walked home, in bed by 9:30 or so.  We are wild people, woo!

So it wasn’t a HUGE surprise when, at 3am, I began feeling terrible. Really, really terrible.

I had the flu. I am 100% positive it wasn’t due to anything I’d eaten or drunk the day before. I’m certain it’s something I picked up during our airport/plane time.



This was full-blown flu, with body aches, fever, chills (and all the less pleasant activities, too)

It always sucks to be away from home and be sick, but Gerry is the most amazing husband. He made everything much better.

Yesterday was a write off. I was OUT of commission all day.

Today was a resting day, we walked to the beach, sat in a chair, finally admitted to each other we were freezing and came home.

Yes, this is excitement at the beach!

Sunset, Ft. Myers Beach

Sunset, Ft. Myers Beach

Having said that, we’re having a great time! If nothing else, being totally away from home means an enforced no-dyeing policy is in effect for me until I return home.

And, it is about 60º warmer here than back home, that’s a very good thing!

Ironic (and fitting) that I would leave a very cold place to come to a very warm place and end up with chills.

But at least – as with everything – I have a good story!

The Virtue of Enforced Patience

Proof there is something older than me in NYC.

Proof there is something older than me in NYC.

I have become a much more patient person in my 40’s and 50’s than I was in my 20’s and 30’s. I’m not unusual in this, it’s a pretty widely recited truism that those with the most time (the young) seem to be in the biggest hurry.

I realized about a year ago that instead of seeing things as weekly or monthly deadlines, I was tending to see long term goals; yearly, decade-ly. Even century-ish.

The peace that this shift has created has become very important to me. I don’t really care if someone gets somewhere ahead of me (well, unless the place we’re going has a finite number of gluten free cookies, then I’ll be early in line…)

Winter Subway Climb

Winter Subway Climb

I’m just happy to get there eventually.  Or not. At least, that’s what I work toward – especially when driving in rush hour traffic.

So when this weekend didn’t go as I’d planned it, I tried to just swallow hard, accept it, and enjoy what DID transpire.

My classes on Saturday were, I think, good. It’s always hard to judge myself, and although I try to write good, happy things about my classes, I am also my harshest critic.

The classes were mixed skill level; very new knitters, very experienced knitters, and all levels in between.

I LOVE these mixed classes, mostly for the interplay that can happen when knitters of various levels meet. But they can also be very draining, they take a LOT of energy.

It’s like spinning plates, with each one turning at a different speed. Lots of running to and fro.

I left everything I had within me in that room for the students, and felt like a better teacher – and person – for it.

Subway Marble Mosaic Art

Subway Marble Mosaic Art

Unfortunately, because of the very hot room & the exhausting classes (and my habit of skipping meals on class days) I became very faint at the end of the day, as I discussed in my last blog post.

So the next day I rested – or I meant to.

A friend (my freshman college roommate) texted me, so we met for coffee and oatmeal.

I mentioned I wanted to pick up some bowls for Gerry’s birthday, so we took the subway down to Chelsea to FishsEddy. We walked a bit, talked a lot about our kids (her daughter is 12, she – like me – is a late-in-life mom) and shared our war stories about the early teen years.

We also shared our complete disdain for “Thank You” notes. Yes, I’ll come out here – I do NOT like the Thank You Note – or, rather, I don’t like the expectation of them. I try to send them, and I ALWAYS say “Thank you!” for kindnesses. But I don’t like getting wrapped up in some Miss Manners vision of what is the ‘right’ thing to do. It’s exhausting.

Amazing Mosaic Subway - Thank You, MTA!

Amazing Mosaic Subway – Thank You, MTA!

There, make of it what you will, I don’t think I’m an ingrate, just often very busy…

My former roommate and I parted, and immediately I got a text from a friend in Brooklyn, a dear costuming contact from my Great Lakes Theater Fest internship days, who drove in from Park Slope, picked me up and we talked and talked in her car.

I miss my NY friends. I love Minnesota & my MN friends. It’s the perfect place for me (and our family) in most ways, but I do miss my NY friends.

Jaya Yoga

Jaya Yoga

We drove to Brooklyn, to her “Restorative Yoga” class at the Jaya Yoga Center in Park Slope. When I realized the class was ALL floor work (stretching between power naps) I joined in, & enjoyed it thoroughly. David Figueroa’s an exceptional teacher!

It was just what I needed, I felt energized, centered & happier than I had all day.

I also LOVED being a student, it felt necessary for my ‘balance’ (teaching so hard one day, learning the next!) My wise friend Sue knew what would be good for my soul.

In a perfect world, when we come together to teach anything to a group of receptive students, we, as teachers, would also be able to TAKE a class.

And we would be kind to ourselves, not judging ourselves, nor our teachers, too harshly. It never hurts to be a bit kind whenever possible.

Good Friend & Kids

Good Friend, Kids & Puppies

We went to Sue’s apartment & I become reacquainted with her two teens, who I hadn’t seen in over 12 years. We talked about kids, life & new puppies (a metaphore for my entire weekend.)

On the drive back to Manhattan we watched the colors of the Empire State Building change – a virtual scoreboard for the Superbowl! 

The Empire State Bldg colors changed with the superbowl score.I was supposed to fly home the next day (Monday) but an ice storm cancelled my flights. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this until I was AT the airport. Had I known, I would have just stayed at the Hampton Inn on 39th another night (it was a really great hotel!) 

But once I was in NJ with the only open flight at 6pm on Tuesday, I had over 24 hours to kill.

Yes, I could have returned to NY, but the amount of physical energy it took to get from the hotel to Penn Station, then onto the train, then from the train to the check in counter had entirely drained me. Few things are as wearying as maneuvering through Manhattan in an ice storm with lakes of frozen water at each corner.

I’m a mass transit fan, but it can be exhausting. I was in FULL Fibro flare up – I still am – so feeling totally confused I called Gerry and wept, which is something I don’t do very often.

My office for the morning.

My office for the morning.

Gerry called some very dear friends in NJ & they welcomed me into their home. Their son and Max used to be best friends, and we parents became good friends, too!

So here I am, in a very beautiful home, on a snowy & beautiful day in beautiful Maplewood, NJ.

The weekend hasn’t been as I planned it, but it’s been a learning, growing and reflecting kind of weekend. I needed it, and I’m glad I had it.


I blame the AARP discount.

Mourning brooch of diamonds & jet

Mourning brooch of diamonds & jet

I applied for the card a weeks ago to get the AARP discount at the hotel for my NY trip (teaching at the Big Apple Guild)

Yes, I’m over 50. 52, in fact. Like a deck of cards.
Like the weeks in a year. Like President Obama.

I flew in on Friday, got all settled in my (amazingly cheap room – thanks AARP!) and headed up for the Late Night at the Metropolitan Museum to see the Death Becomes Her exhibit. When I was in grad school I wrong a lengthy (perhaps TOO lengthy) report on Mourning Dress, so it’s a topic that resonates with me.

A mourning brooch, a miniature of the deceased with a cuff woven of her hair.

Miniature of deceased woman, woven cuff of her hair.

It was a WONDERFUL exhibit, perhaps a bit too small (once again, I tend to like my costume exhibits lengthy) and, in all the excitement of seeing the show and returning to my hotel, it didn’t dawn on me that I hadn’t eaten.

You know, I love food. I really do. Skipping meals isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but I just didn’t feel – hungry.

So Saturday I got up, had a banana and a gf muffin and took one to have for lunch, and headed over to the Big Apple Knitting Guild.

The classes were really great! The group is wonderful, I love the passion and opinions of this guild, I really did feel like I was visiting family! Entrelac went well – it’s a hard concept, and some of the newer knitters had to work very hard, but I was SO proud of everyone.  Everybody’s abilities were stretched, that’s the goal!

When I teach, I don’t so much want everyone to be at the same point when the class is over, but I DO want everyone to grow a bit, to stretch themselves, and gain a bit of confidence!

An Egyptian foot.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the blog post.

An Egyptian foot. This has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post.

During the lunch break I stayed in the room, which was INCREDIBLY hot. It was at a dance studio, so the heat is usually up high to loosen up muscles.  I found myself getting a bit overheated.

The second class was the Mitered Bag, which was also a lot of fun.  The many different skill levels in the class meant that there was a lot of going back and forth between students, it wasn’t a class where I sat much, and near the end of the class I found myself feeling very light headed.

This usually doesn’t happen to me, and I’m still not certain why it did.  For a bit I was scared, but sitting down, drinking some water, and then getting outside in the fresh air did a world of good.

I think I may have just been overheated, and unwise in my food choices (no real protein for most of Friday or Saturday) and working very hard.

So I’m blaming AARP for my first ‘spell’, as my mother would say.  Apparently the tradeoff for those great discounts are lightheadedness and dizziness. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My dad died of a heart attack at 56 (after a stroke at 53), and my brother died of a heart attack at 45. I haven’t been getting out on my bike lately, or even getting to the exercise bike at the gym, and I feel this is a large part of my episode yesterday.

I felt SO embarrassed. I know that sounds silly, and I’d be the first one to tell someone else, “Oh, for heaven’s sake, DON’T feel foolish!” but I did.  Aside from feeling that I’d not tied up the end of the class very well, I felt – exposed – while something odd was happening to me that I didn’t understand.  A very odd feeling.

Annette, my contact from the guild, VERY kindly walked me to my hotel (it was 4 blocks away) and up to my room.  It was very good of her, and I was grateful!  I discovered delivery.com, ordered some rice and chicken soup, and feel light years better this morning.  I don’t fly out until Monday, so I have a day to rest.

And, yes, I will eat something.  I don’t think Gerry would look very good in any of these dresses…

Yarn Works by Wendy J. Johnson

yarnworks_coverThis review is a long time coming, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write it.

It’s been difficult to write, because I love this book so much, and each time I sat down to review it I felt I couldn’t do it justice.

I finally realized that, short of reprinting entire chapters of the book here on my blog, nothing could really reflect how helpful Yarn Works is until one actually reads it.

This is a unique and incredibly useful book. It is textbook-like in it’s scholarship, it’s appendices and illustrations. But, unlike the average textbook, Yarn Works is a delight to read.

Yarn Works is broken into 4 sections; Fiber Workshop, Spin Workshop, Dye Workshop and Knit Workshop.  Each section is clearly divided into chapters which take the reader through each topic, step by step, with very clear and understandable instructions.

I don’t know what Wendy’s middle name is, but it could easily be “Clarity.”

I must confess that when I review a book, I usually don’t read it cover to cover. If it’s a pattern book I’ll peruse the garments, pick a few and read through the pattern to see if I can understand the writing style. If it’s a technique book I’ll try a few of them out, also to see if the writing style resonates with me.

In this case, I’ve been taking this book to bed with me and scanning it (heck, I took it to DC with me and read it in hotel rooms along the way…) and I’m in love with it.

2014-12-30 11.00.59My adult life has been book-ended by yarn; I learned to knit at 25, began designing hand knit garments and writing patterns in the 80’s. I took a hiatus to attend grad school and work in the theater and TV for 10 years, then returned to knit design/teaching in the early 2000’s.

Now I dye yarn, too, which takes up the lion’s share of my days, so I was most intrigued to read Wendy’s take on these aspects of my ‘life’ – dyeing and knitting.

I must admit that I didn’t spend a great deal of time on the Spin Workshop. I read the section, as I did the Fiber Workshop section, and found the information clear and concise.  I’m not a spinner; my asthma makes it difficult for me to even knit with very soft fibers (like alpaca or angora), forget about spinning fiber!

wendy_book_1My main focus, obviously, was on the dyeing section.  Wendy breaks down the dyeing process by type of dye, and by fiber, and does it so clearly and in such a non-confusing manner that just about any fiberista will walk away feeling a bit more expert in their understanding.

I’ve spent the past week doing some hard-core dying, finishing up many kilograms of yarn for various clubs and shows, and I’ve felt gratified by how words from Yarn Works come to me at various parts of the process.

Through trial and error over the past year, as ModeKnit Yarn has been moving up to speed, I’ve come to many of the same conclusions that Wendy comes to in her book. However, I didn’t understand the science or theory behind many of my discoveries, and reading about them has been incredibly helpful.

wendy_book_2For instance, I knew that citric acid increased the ability of my yarn to absorb dye and exhaust the bath, but I didn’t understand WHY. Knowing this allows me to be a more complete and effective dyer.

I love Wendy’s embracing attitude that there are MANY right and good ways to create and dye fiber — as many as there are dyers — but the science behind dyeing doesn’t change from dyer to dyer.

If you have an interest in spinning, dyeing or knitting, want to understand the basics of different fiber types and what differentiates different protein fibers (or how cellulose seed fibers differ from cellulose bast fibers) and want to learn all of this in a friendly and comfortable environment, Yarn Works is the book for you.

w-j-johnson-headshotYou probably didn’t get this book for Christmas. Treat yourself and order it now.  Then order one for a friend and change their fiber life.

Yarn Works
W. J. Johnson
ISBN: 978-1-58923-788-9
Creative Publishing Int’l

Life On Hold For AMAZEMENT!

A & A at Prez's Door

A & A at Prez’s Door

I’m still reeling.

Whirlwind doesn’t BEGIN to describe the events of the last week! First, the facts: I got invited to a sort of “Tweet Summit” at the White House. It was 99% unexpected…

(I actually DID apply to go when I saw a tweet about
the event by @WhiteHouse, but I didn’t really
think for a moment that I’d be in the running.)

It was an opportunity for the people behind the scenes at The White House to meet with a group of folks who are known to be very active on social media.

My assigned crafting place

My assigned crafting place

I guess I fell into that group (THANK YOU friends & readers of my tweets & blog!)

I was SO excited to be invited.

It happened much more suddenly that I expected. When I got invited, my first impression was that it was a sort of ‘family event’ and that our whole family was invited.

Beautiful Daughter

Beautiful Daughter

Unfortunately, I misunderstood  It was more of a business / public relation than a family event.

However, the very kind folks at TWH allowed me to bring a guest when they realized that Andy is also an active social media person, AND part of an excellent demographic which happened to be underrepresented at this event.

Fog All The Way To DC

Fog All The Way To DC

Gerry didn’t want me to drive to pick up Andy at Earlham and on to DC alone, so he insisted on coming and sharing the driving burden. And it was INSANELY foggy both there and back, lots of white knuckle driving!

We wanted Max to come, too, but the suddenness make this impractical – Max had finals, too, papers to finish and a big project at his after school job (St. Paul Neighborhood Network) that he wanted to do well, so he opted to stay home. We missed him!


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Beautiful Hallway

Beautiful Hallway

What The Event WASN’T

    • We did not meet POTUS, FLOTUS or DOTUS
      (Doggies of the United States)  Dang.
    • We didn’t get lunch, but we DID get delicious cider and cookies (I brought some home for Gerry & Max)

What The Event WAS

  • A chance for folks involved in social media to visit & learn about The White House
  • An opportunity to meet White House staff who explained to us
    • How White House events are put together
    • How ‘average folks’ (like me!) can attend events like the Easter Egg Roll, tours, etc.
    • How the large staff works together to make these events spectacluar!
  • A crafting opportunity (probably another reason I was asked to come!)
Laura Dowling, TWH Chief Floral Designer

Laura Dowling Chief Floral Designer

We were given talks by many interesting folks, the first part of the day was spent discussing the social media strategies TWH uses to present their messages to various audiences.

For instance, I follow a lot of folks on Twitter, but one of my favorite accounts to read is @ObamaFoodarama. That lets me, a food lover, to see a different side of The White House.

By utilizing twitter to present different sides of The White House in this way, the social media staff can allow the average citizen to feel a bit more connected to the goings on of what is, essentially, OUR house.

Ellie Schafer, Director TWH Visitors Office

Ellie Schafer, Director TWH Visitors Office

Hands down, the most impressive person we met was Ellie Schafer. She was absolutely brilliant. The love she has for her job and her passion for presenting The White House to the world in the best way was infectious!

The room came to life as she was speaking, and I felt she was the best advertisement for the type of person we’d like to have heading the visitors office of OUR house.

She explained that The White House is a residence, an executive office AND a museum, I hadn’t thought of it in those terms.


DC is one of my favorite places.

Union Station, DC

Union Station, DC

My first adult visit was when I was an intern with WNET in NY

(I got to fly a TV proposal down that needed to be turned in the same day it was finished, interns get to do the most unlikely things…)

It was spring, and I absolutely fell in love with the city. I’ve been back many times since then, most memorably when I was working on the Million Mom March for Gun Safety in 2000.

Gerry & Andy On Metro

Gerry & Andy On Metro

If I have any regrets about this particular trip, it was the physical difficulty for Gerry of sitting in a car for so many hours.

He insists it’s pretty much what he’d be doing at home, but I think he’ll be resting a bit over the next few days.

However, he started planning a SECOND family trip to DC on the way home!

This time we’ll take Max, too, and we’ll be able to spend more time and visit more museums!

In other news, Max came in 2nd in his Debate Meet on Saturday! GO MAXIE!!


To see a funny video I took on the Metro Subway, click here!