Author Archives: Annie

About Annie

I knit weird and I enjoy showing others how to find the joy and intuitiveness within their OWN knitting! We don't knit to make THINGS, we knit to make OURSELVES HAPPY!

AARP

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.

I LOVE DC!

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!!

BONUS

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

One Knitter’s Road To DC

So something kind of cool happened this week…

I saw a tweet from The White House (known henceforth as TWH) asking folks who’d like to be invited to a holiday event at TWH to apply online.  I did, thinking, “They’ll NEVER invite me!”

Well, they did.

Apparently they tried to contact me several times, but for some reason our phone wasn’t connecting

The woman at TWH said it might have been because their number comes up as ‘blocked’ so depending on folks’ settings, it might not go through – odd…
We certainly have no problem getting a ton of 800 spam calls!

On Friday they emailed me, I didn’t get it until late in the day (annual ModeKnit Yarn holiday lunch at Kyoto Sushi …) so it was pretty late on Friday when I learned we were invited for Monday. Yikes!

Even if I weren’t someone who’d jump into a car and drive 16 hours without blinking an eye
(and I am), this seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up.

I am allowed to bring one person, so it was between Gerry and Andy. The event was explained to me as a ‘decorating & craft event’ (apparently my knitting/craft chops AND my numerous twitter followers put me up on the potential invitees list..) I’m told we will me making Christmas ornaments!

Gerry insists that it’s really more up Andy’s alley, Andy insists that Gerry should go – and Gerry won. Andy’s going with me.

The problem was, this semester Andy had only two final exams, and they were both on Monday. Yikes again. Fortunately her professors are VERY understanding and one is allowing her to take the exam on Sunday, the other later in the week.

Andy & Annie at the White House (artists rendering)

Andy & Annie at the White House (artists rendering)

Max was originally going to join us, but he confessed to us today that he just has too much he feels he needs to do at the end of his semester, and he’s helping a friend with a project at SPNN (where he has a part time job) AND he had a pretty important debate meet today (where he came in SECOND – which is amazingly good)

We allowed Max to bow out of the event and stay at home. I’ve learned that when Max has a strong feeling about not participating in something, it’s really best to trust his gut. Every time I’ve forced him to do something he wasn’t really into, something has gone terribly wrong.

Return with me now to the dreaded Lyme Disease Summer of 2011
after I forced Max to go to camp in the Boundary Waters.

Bad mommy.

Plus, the pets are VERY happy that he’s staying.

We’re doing the trip in stages, tonight we’re in Beloit and I used some Hilton points to snag a $40 room at Hampton Inn (SUCH a lovely room!)  Tomorrow we pick up Andy and continue to DC, where I’m using Starpoints for two nights at a nice hotel in Arlington. It’s such a bonus to be able to use different membership club points to make this (hotel-wise) an almost-free trip!

I have to give a nod to Awardwallet.com, they REALLY help me keep my different memberships straight and monitor how many miles I have in 25 different programs. I find I’m able to use my points much more efficiently when I can access them so easily!

So while Andy and I are at the White House, Gerry will be exploring the Smithsonian. Then we’ll meet up late in the day and have dinner, perhaps look at the lights, and sight-see.  Tuesday we’ll have some time before we have to head back to Earlham to drop Andy off, we’ll stay overnight so she can take her exam, then we’ll all come home together.

Did I mention I’m getting a tooth pulled on Friday?
I wanted something to take my mind off of it, and this will certainly do that!

Apologies for the lack of book review – I promised two reviews this week and I’m afraid I’ll be lucky to get ONE done!  I can’t say I didn’t ask for this – I filled out the online request form – I just never really expected it to happen (and so QUICKLY!)

Lucky, Lucky Susan!

SA_GiftThe winner of Sock Architecture is SusanKnits! Congrats to Susan!!

I LOVED reading your comments, every one got me to thinking about how much I learn from other knitters.  Folks often show me their knitting shyly, with the implication that I’m a ‘professional knitter’ so I must be SO much better…

NOT SO! I’m an above average knitter, but not by much.

We each have our gifts, we each do different things well, and other things not so well. There are a LOT of things that I don’t do so well. So many, many ways to improve, all of them fun in their own way!

For me, the whole point of knitting is threefold:

  1. to spend time with something you love
  2. to love the process and the challenge
  3. to learn stuff (when you feel the time is right.)

Most of all, my mantra is:

We don’t knit to make THINGS,
We knit to make ourselves HAPPY!

So CONGRATULATIONS Susan! Enjoy your eBook, and for the rest of you – you can find the book here!

AND – I’ll be reviewing a new book in a few days, this one for the DYERS out there!

Here’s a thought… Perhaps you’ll want to share the link to this post to that person who’s been asking, “What can I get you for the holidays?”

The Architecture of Socks

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.43.35 PMWhen people ask me, “What’s your favorite thing to knit?” the immediate answer that pops into my mind has never been, “Socks, of course!”

I’ve never been a ‘sock person’ (heck, I don’t even wear socks very often!)

I’ve knit many socks, I’ve designed a sock (okay, a pair of socks…) but although they’re not my go-to project of choice, I definitely appreciate sock knitters.

I’ve long felt that most of the staying power that the popularity of knitting has experienced over the past decade is due to the army of sock knitters who keep so much excitement bubbling in the knitting world.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.44.54 PM

Great Illustrations

In my quest to more fully appreciate the mystery of the sock, I’ve read several great sock books (Cat Bordhi, Ann Budd, Andi Smith and Charlotte Schurch have all written amazing sock books)

I would put Lara Neel’s* new book, Sock Architecture, up there with them.

What I particularly like about Lara’s book are the instructions and images. She uses clear graphics and photographs to work,  step by step, through the techniques.

For a non-sock knitter like myself, these type of illustrations are very helpful. I can visualize a technique much better when I can see a few images, I really appreciate the amount of work that went into creating these images.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 1.45.45 PMThe book begins with an explanation of certain sock verbiage, why different heels and toes are named as they are, and the main differences between Eastern and Western socks. Foot shapes,  sizes, and tailoring a sock for a specific foot are discussed in depth, as are tips and tricks for creating a really good-looking, well fitting sock.

The remainder of the book is divided into Top-Down and Toe-Up sock construction, with myriad heels and toes discussed under each topic.  Patterns are provided for each of the variations discussed, and helpful charts allow the knitter to determine whether one of the standard sizes listed would work for their sock, or how they can do the math to create a custom fit.

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 4.30.28 PMOne of the nice things about the book is – for lack of a better description – a ‘cut-and-paste’ layout which allows the knitter to either use the designs as written, or create their own design combining elements from various patterns.

As someone with rather long toes and a low arch, I find this SO helpful. Breaking down the patterns in this way also allowed me to understand more fully the actual construction of a sock.

I can’t see myself becoming a great sock knitter, but with Sock Architecture I will feel a bit less adrift when I tackle my next sock pattern.

*in full disclosure, Lara’s a friend of mine and photographed my upcoming Bolero book for Stackpole Press.

Giveaway

Cooperative Press, the publisher of Sock Architecture, is allowing me to give away a copy of the book (as an eBook) to a lucky blog reader!

Simply leave a comment below, tell me the most challenging technique (in a sock, or in any other type of knitting) you’ve attempted and you’ll be entered to win the eBook.

I’ll be selecting one winner on Monday, Dec 8th, by the end of business day.  Good luck!

Judgement Induced Paralysis

I haven’t been writing on my blog for a long time, for various reasons, but one of the strongest is fear of judgement.

Tired & Judgy

Tired & Judgy

I’m speaking in part about judgement by other folks (always a bit of a fear for anyone, but something we all deal with in our own ways) and in larger party judgement by myself. I am the author of that nagging voice in my head which has been relentless in it’s scrutiny of my life.

The shingles pain continues (yes, it’s baa-aack) and in August my doctor prescribed Lyrica. The drug did amazing things for the pain, but affected me in very strong, negative ways, so I had to go off of it (slowly, with a doctor’s help)

Memory is also an issue. Did I forget to mention this?

Memory is also an issue. Did I forget to mention this?

Mentally, I’m much clearer, but the pain has really cranked up a notch (or two) which is probably a mixture of the cold, the fact I’m not cycling as much as I was (although I AM cycling at the local rec center!) and my body hating me for taking away that wonderful pain drug.

Pain steals energy, and I have so little to throw around. Any energy I’ve had lately has gone entirely into yarn dyeing / biz stuff, editing my Bolero book (out in Summer, 2015!) and Thanksgiving prep & recovery.

But now I have a sweet spot of a few weeks before the next holiday, so I’m anticipating blogging a lot more. And I’m trying to reason with that Voice Of Judgement in my brain, trying to tell it to back off (but not ignoring it completely, there’s a good bit of truth there, too!)

COMING UP!

I have three terrific books to review, with giveaways for each of them! Stay tuned, I’ll be doing the first review starting this Friday for a wonderful new book by Lara Neel. Books by Kate Atherley and Wendy Johnson are also on deck (did I mention giveaways?)  Stay tuned!

And thanks for hanging in there with me. I hate to think of my blog as a ‘low priority’, I enjoy writing it (and hear from you) so much!

I’ve learned with an exhaustion issue like Fibromyalgia, I need to use discretion when delegating energy. And not beat myself up too much.

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!