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!

Mental Health Day

Today I’m taking a mental health day! After the very busy few weeks I’ve had, I deserve it!

Amsterdam

View near our room

View from Canal Boat

Gerry and I had a magnificent time! After I got my business out of the way (the reason for the trip) we did very gentle sightseeing (canal boats, trams, light walking and a bit of biking among the tulip fields) and spent some time in museums.

It was a VERY necessary trip for many reasons, not least of which to celebrate LIFE together, and the 7th anniversary of Gerry’s Multiple Myeloma diagnosis (SEVEN YEARS – we are very fortunate!)

IMG_1255While we were away we learned that a very dear friend and the leader of our MM Support Group in Stillwater, MN passed away. It was a shock, Carl was so full of life and love and hope every time we saw him.

That’s how this disease goes, though, the final decline tends to be rather quick when it comes, which made our trip take on another dimension; life is to be lived TODAY.

Flower market in Roermond train station

Flower market in Roermond train station

We visited good friends in Swalmen, down by the German border, speed knitter Miriam Tegels and her wonderful husband Frans! It was such a pleasure to meet their son, Thuur, but we didn’t get a chance to meet their daughter.

We did, however, meet the ENTIRE extended family at an Easter brunch, and it was absolutely delightful!

Tulip fields near Lisse

Tulip fields near Lisse

Back in Amsterdam we did a few day trips, one to Delft (more canal boat riding) and another to see the tulip fields in bloom (we took our bikes on the train and rode from one small station to another, through the fields on the way there!)

Frans and Gerry

Frans and Gerry

I was SO impressed with Gerry – with his stamina, his biking, and his general sunny disposition! I think he finally believes me that riding a mile is 7 times more efficient than walking a mile, but we both took it relatively easy and stopped a LOT on our short ride from station to station.

 

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YARNOVER

Preparing for YarnOver

Preparing for YarnOver, the truck is filled!

I returned home two days before our yearly fiber extravaganza here in Minnesota known as YarnOver! It’s hosted by the Minnesota Knitters Guild and ModeKnit Yarn had a booth this year (well, more of a table…) 

It was wonderful – a great chance to see old friends and meet new ones, AND to sell a LOT of yarn! An exceptional show all around! I was still pretty jet lagged, but Kathleen Pascuzzi (my partner in ModeKnit Yarn crime) was stellar at prodding me into action!

TNNA

And, just a short 6 days after Yarnover Kathleen and I jumped in the car and drove 8 hours to Indianapolis for TNNA! I wanted her to meet many of the folks I work with in the industry, and I wanted to touch base with old friends (and yarn dyeing friends – to chat with them face to face as I jump into their own biz.)

Best among the interactions was a long, lovely chat with Jeni Hewlett from Fyberspates (NOW available in the US!) and Elliot from Artyarns. Thanks, guys, for so much help and love!

I also met with my editor for my upcoming Stackpole book. I’m rushing to get the projects finished so we can shoot them in June, life is busy (but very good!)

Perhaps most notably, Kathleen and I acted on our previous discussions to purchase automatic yarn skeining and balling equipment from Nancy’s Knit Knacks, I’m still a bit in shock (it was a large investment) but – as I told Gerry – it’s certainly cheaper than hand surgery because my arm stops working after all the skeining and balling I’ve been doing!

Interweave Knitting Lab

So today is just for me – riding my bike and thinking – and building up a bit of energy reserve for Interweave Knitting Lab in 1-1/2 weeks!  Check out my classes here - I think some are already sold out (or nearing it!)

A Sunny Day In Amsterdam

Bicycle Built for FOUR!

Bicycle Built for FOUR!

Most of the past two days has been taken with meetings and work (I can’t discuss it, plans for future… I really hate being cadgy, but if it works out you’ll all know about it!) and while I’ve been busy Gerry’s been sightseeing (and resting – love that canal boat sight-seeing!)

We’re both exhausted, but tomorrow’s going to be an “US” day and we’ll go to the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. I (perhaps foolishly) pooh-poohed purchasing a MuseumKart because I just didn’t see us going to so many museums.

Tulips at the Hermitage

Tulips at the Hermitage

I’d hoped to use our time together for some day trips to see the Tulips, go to Delft and visit knitting friends in Swalmen, there are just TOO MANY things to do (and at €60, the MuseumKart is a bit pricey…)

In my journey’s I visited a beautiful, well stocked yarn shop (amazing for such a small space, it blew me away!) near our digs called DeAfstap and met a lovely designer there named Hanneke Bezem who’s written a book of knitted handbags (see it on her blog!)

New Blue Tulip Bag

New Blue Tulip Bag

We also took advantage of the bikes that come with our room and rode a bit today (after a brief stop to repair Gerry’s tire and raise the seat on my bike)

I discovered a beautiful, very well made vinyl pannier bag which I snapped up, and I cannot wait to use it back home in St. Paul! It will be perfect for shopping and running errands!

TICKET ALERT!

We have a set of tickets for 8pm at the Anne Frank Haus. We purchased them before I realized we be away on Saturday, so we can’t use them. They’re non-refundable, but I’d love to see SOMEONE get some use out of them! If you’ll be in Amsterdam on Saturday evening and would like them, leave a comment and I’ll gift them to the first commenter who can actually USE them! (See what I mean about being foolish not to get the Museumkart?)

Day 1 in NL

Right now it’s exactly 12 hours since we landed this morning. That was 10:40am Europe Summer time, 2:40am US CST.

I didn’t sleep at all during the flight—I find it difficult to rest when I’m squished up—so I was pretty exhausted when we landed.

Due to helpful tips on the Trip Advisor website and from friends (mostly Alison/WindowWomanofNE) we were able to acquire a OV-chipkaart and top it off at the station in the airport (I’m certain we’ll use it quite a bit while we’re here!)

Gerry discoveres Nutella Nirvana

Gerry discoveres Nutella Nirvana

Upon arriving in Amsterdam Central Station, we dragged our sorry suitcases (and butts) over to our B&B (I’m afraid I got us lost when I forgot that I’d stored the address and directions in my contacts – silly me!) and settled into our very small, but very comfy and convenient room. For €50/day we can’t really complain, and it comes with the use of two sturdy bikes & locks for our entire visit.

We had been cautioned NOT to sleep (even though we desperately wanted to!) so we went for another long walk (this time without suitcases, SO much more enjoyable!) and basically floated in a sleep deprived fog around the central district.

At 4:00pm I’m afraid I called it quits (so much exhaustion, pain and confusion cannot be a good way to start a trip!) We returned to our digs, both of us napped for a few hours (the best sleep I ever had) and at 8pm we went out again for a walk and dinner.

The restaurant we stumbled on was Paso Doble, and it was AMAZING! We shared plates of exquisitely seasoned tapas, Gerry had a Spanish beer and I had a sangria made with champagne, then dessert of cheese cake for him and crème brûlée for me. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. It was a splurge, but it was a lovely night to do it!

Our room has a refrigerator and coffee/tea making supplies, so a visit to the local JUMBO market has us set up for breakfasts and teas on the cheap so we can splurge on nicer dinners!

The Netherlands doesn’t seem to be as gluten sensitive as Italy was when I visited a few years ago, but I’ve acquired some crackers, bread and small cookies to round out our in-room dining options.

Kitty Grafitti

Kitty Grafitti

Every time I reflect that we’re actually HERE, 7 hours from home by air and not planning on returning for 10 days, I’m stunned. This is a necessary trip in more ways than one!

Tomorrow, we may hit the Rijksmuseum if we get up early enough, and the day after that we’re going to try to get out to see the tulips.

I don’t think Gerry will be up for much bike riding (his back and bones couldn’t take the riding over the cobblestone streets) but if we can rent a tandem when we’re at Keukenhof I’ll be able to do the heavy pedaling on smooth roads that will be better for his bones and back!

The Friendly Skies

http://www.avionics-intelligence.com/content/dam/avi/online-articles/2013/09/DeltaMD88.jpgGerry and I are embarking on something we haven’t done in over 17 years – a trip alone together.

I’m sitting here staring at a huge pile of clothes and an empty suitcase. My task is to sort through the garments and choose ones that will work for 10 days in Amsterdam, but still leave room to bring home presents.

I’m still jet lagged from visiting Puget Sound University with Andy (née Hannah) earlier this week [spoiler alert, she loved it but she won't be going there, too rich for our blood...] and—as always—I dread compacting my former 6′ frame into a coach seat for 7 hours. But we’re heading out this evening, and we’re excited.

It’s not entirely pleasure, I’m doing a bit of business while I’m there (ostensibly the reason for the trip) but we’ve been reminded time and again over the past 8 years that life is very short, and it’s meant to be LIVED, so we cashed in a bunch of frequent flier miles and Gerry’s going off with me!

We’re staying in a B&B not far from Anne Frank House (recommended by a friend) The B&B supplies bikes, and we have plans to visit another good friend over Easter weekend far from the city.

We haven’t researched or planned this trip as much as we might have, but that’s because just getting alone together is such a new experience that we’re pretty giddy about it! My friend, Alison, visited Amsterdam with her husband in October so she’s been passing on tour books and great tips.

One thing we’ve been told about Amsterdam is that the mass transit is excellent so if Gerry finds himself exhausted we can spend a day on a canal boat tour for a restful sight-seeing adventure.

Andy will be in her dorm most of the time we’re gone (just home next weekend), and the benefit of having a business partner is that Kathleen will be working in the ModeKnit Yarn offices (my basement) so Max can touch base with an adult every day when he gets home from school.  Food has been prepared, friends and neighbors drafted to ‘check in’ on the boy during our absence.

I get the distinct feeling he’s looking forward to these next 10 days as much as we are!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Keukenhof_May2006.JPGWe plan to visit Keukenhof to see the tulips, Delft to see the china and KinderDijk to see the windmills.

But I’m MOST excited about seeing the knitters of Amsterdam! I’ve scheduled a few get-togethers with folks (and I’m definitely open to do more!)

Obviously, I’m also crazy nuts to get on the aforementioned bike and get some riding in.

“Nonnatus House, Midwife Speaking…”

You’ve probably noticed how quiet I’ve been – I apologize for that! Believe me, it’s all because of work, and that’s a good reason!

We just shipped our first wholesale order, which was huge (to me) and this adventure will NOT be duplicated until 2015, when we’re set up to seriously seek wholesale accounts.

All those things you read about businesses growing too fast are actually true,
and this first huge order gave me a glimpse of how easily that might happen!

NEW ‘NO SPOILERS’ COLORS!

Peace Rose Colorway

Peace Rose Colorway

If you’re as big a fan of Call The Midwife as I am, you will be SO excited tonight when Season 3 begins on PBS stations all across the US!  Our friends are back, and the art direction and costumes in this season are absolutely amazing! The Midwives and Sisters are moving into the 60’s in London, with all the color, light and edgy fashion that entails (Jean Shrimpton hair, anyone?)

Mid Century Industrial Extravaganza!

Mid Century Industrial Extravaganza!

They’ve moved into a new location (still in Poplar) with a new Community Clinic where new ways of dealing with the pain of childbirth are taught, along with many other new lessons.

Sadly, as we bring in eight new colors, we will have to say goodbye to six of the 221B colors (we’re keeping A Study In Pink and Bristol Pool! Huzzah!) 

I hate to say goodbye to colors that are selling so well, but the truth is that I just cannot dye so many different colors all at the same time – so for my own sanity we’ll only have two NO SPOILERS color sets going at any one time, and will keep a few colors from each set if they prove to be good sellers!

So, ladies and gentlemen, here are all eight colors of our newest NO SPOILERS collection, “Midwife Speaking”, which I’ve based on characters and incidents of the upcoming season of Call The Midwife.

I’ll not give any secrets away, and the color names are neutral as far as plot points,
but this is going to be a TREMENDOUS season.

I’m releasing all 8 colors tonight so folks can get the mini skein set at once. Besides, I’ve been SO overwhelmingly busy with the dyeing (good) and the designing (also good) that having time to do eight separate days of blogging for “Midwife Speaking” isn’t going to be happening!

But I promise to try to be better about writing. Believe me, dear readers
(and yarn customers, and well-wishers, and all my knitters and crocheters)
I love to connect with you via my blog and newsletter –
I really do miss you when I’m too busy to write!

 

Sooner Than Expected!

I’ve been rather quiet on the blog, and I apologize for that! You see, we’ve been KILLER busy!

According to our [back of napkin] business plan, ModeKnit Yarn, LLC wasn’t scheduled to begin working on acquiring wholesale orders until 2015. Kathleen and I both feel that one of the easiest mistakes to make with a new business is to grow it too quickly.

We didn’t want to create a demand that we couldn’t fulfill, and selling wholesale involves creating quantities of yarn that are just too big for us to turn out on a regular basis right now.

IMG_1042But then we were asked – so nicely – by a friend who owns a yarn shop in the LA area. We will be supplying yarn to A Major Knitwork for the LA Yarn Crawl (April 3-6).

This is a one-time adventure (well, until we begin doing wholesale on a regular basis in a year), and it’s been an incredible lesson in what it takes to put together just ONE wholesale order in a timely manner.

Of course, the fact that we’re donating 30 skeins of yarn to our own Steven Be’s as bag stuffers for their Fiber Fest, and four mini-skein sets as door prizes for the MN Knitters Guild for Yarn Over in addition to the huge wholesale order – and our regular online orders which have kept up steadily – just added to the fun.

Yeah, that’s the word I was looking for – fun.

IMG_1011So while coming up with a new NO SPOILERS colorway set based on one of my favorite mid-century dramas I’ve been up to my elbows in merino, silk and dye.

And it’s been one hell of a good time!

I’ll be revealing the new colors (and my next inspiration TV show) next week.

Right now I’m skeining up yarn so fast it makes poor Jasper the Standard Poodle’s head spin!

Archer Mitts

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

If you get my newsletter, you received a link for the Archer Mitts last week.

If not, here’s your link now!

They’re fun mitts, and — unusually for a free pattern — this involves techniques that are a bit beyond basic.

Provisional cast on? ICord Bind Off? Short Rows? Grafting? Creating a Thumb Gusset?

These are all techniques that you can try out with this simple pattern. Note that I said SIMPLE, which is not the same thing as EASY!

IMG_0810I’ve fallen in love with mitts; they’re not just fun to knit, they’re warm and allow full movement for your fingers. These are worked up in ModeLuxe, but to be honest you can use any worsted weight yarn (although ModeLuxe IS killer soft and delicious to knit up…)

I’ve been quiet because I’ve been dyeing up HUGE amounts of yarn, it’s selling like crazy, and I have more yarn waiting for me at home to dye up when I get back.

IMG_2406Where am I? I’m in Cleveland, preparing to tape a few segments of Knitting Daily TV tomorrow, and looking forward to seeing old friends!

I’m excited, but this evening is devoted to sitting still so my nail polish can dry, and figuring new ways to suck in my chins.

And now, MORE pictures of the lovely Archer Mitts (I can see Daryl wearing these during one of these Georgia snowstorms, right?)

The Knitting Dead, All The Colors

Daryl Dixon, The Governor, Michonne,

Daryl Dixon, The Governor, Michonne, Carol Peletier, Carl Grimes, Hershel Greene, Officer Grimes and Penny Blake, all shown in ModeWerk fingering.

While working up colors for The Walking Dead, I soon came to the conclusion that — unless one views all the colors together — they can just seem like so many variations on a theme of “Grey + Brown + Green + Red = Zombie”

So I’ve made the decision to display ALL of the colors together, in a cohesive group, which I hope will make these more compelling colorways!

I’m also offering a free pattern to make the stylish Archer’s Mitts (perfect for keeping your hands warm during these cold Georgia Winters) Every zombie fighter knows that fingers only get in the way when firing a crossbow or slashing a Katana.

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

Archer Mitts shown in Officer Grimes/Daryl Dixon and Michonne/Hershel Greene

If you’ve signed up for the newsletter, you’ll get a link to this pattern via email during tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead.  If you’re not on the mailing list, you’ll be able to download it in few days on this site or at Ravelry.

See, there are benefits to being a ModeKnit newsletter subscriber,
and you still have time to sign up now if you click here!

As always, ALL Knitting Dead colors are available in every ModeKnit yarn, and can be part of any ModeKnit Kit.

I can save lives. And that’s enough reason to risk mine.

Hershel GreeneHershel Greene personifies hope. He is the character most likely to envision a bright future–ironic as he’s also the oldest character. I can’t

Hershel’s colorful name aside, I wanted his color to bring to mind a field of soybeans or corn, spreading off into the distance, as a dark cloud looms on the horizon.

Greens, yellow-green and black are the defining colors of Hershel Greene.

“Grrraaaaaaah!”

Penny BlakePenny Blake is one of the many lost children that seem to float through this series.

Kids seem to be either the first victims or the most desensitized survivors. Penny falls into the first category, and her back story is unknown (except for the exceptionally creepy “Bye Baby Bunting” song that her father plays for her)

All we do know is after her death she rose again as the zombie apple of her father’s eye.

Penny Blake is a composite of pinks, greens and browns, all of them faded as befits a zombie child who has been locked away from the world for an undetermined amount of time.

“They were a threat. I was trying to save lives. I had to try. Somebody had to.

Carol Peletier is one of my favorite characters, a survivor before the zombies arrived, moving from victim to victor as the world goes to hell.

Carol PeletierBurned raw of any emotion after the loss of her daughter, Carol has been propelled through the crucible of loss to emerge as stronger, more galvanized version of her earlier self.

Seeing what needs to be done (teaching children to defend themselves, burning bodies of the mystery virus to prevent contagion) links her to Daryl as one of the Humans Most Likely To Survive.

Carol Peletier is fractured black hue, scattered into bits and fused together by the pure gold of Carol’s soul.

“I still know how to survive. Lucky for us. I don’t need you anymore.
I don’t need you to protect me anymore! I can take care of myself.”

Carl GrimesCarl Grimes grows up before our eyes, with the intensity of adolescence and an emotional depth far beyond his years, Carl lost any small piece of innocence he may have retained when he took it upon himself to shoot his mother after she died in childbirth.

At this point Carl is a sharp mix of strength and weakness, bravado and fear, not yet developing the subtlety that often comes with age. Carl sees things starkly, which is only to be expected by a child carrying the weight of a man as the world seems to end.

Carl Grimes is the iconic blue jean mixed with a strong black and white and touches of red.

If he was here right now, I’d cut him in two, because that’s how it needs to be.

MichonneMore than any other character, the persona of Michonne was created by the zombie apocalypse.

Her fire, passion, skill and drive to survive cannot be quenched, even by the deaths of her most beloved family and separation from every friend she’s made since the world went mad.

We’ve seen a tiny bit of Michonne’s past life, and now it’s understandable that it took a full season before we ever saw her crack a smile —what was there to smile about?

Michonne is a rich, vibrant blend of pinks, purple and reds over a base of deep brown, reflecting her passion (both in terms of intense emotion and intense suffering)

“Kill them all!

The GovernorSherlock can joke about being a highly functioning sociopath, but Phillip Blake (The Governor) is the real deal.

Motivated by a lust for power, which often trumps his secondary motivation to protect those whom he considers “his”, The Governor is an interesting portrayal of the type of man who emerges at the head of totalitarian regimes throughout history.

The fact that he can present vastly different sides of himself, chameleon-like, depending on what is required at the moment makes him one of the more interesting (if repulsive) characters in The Walking Dead.

The Governor is the most diverse mix of colors in the The Knitting Dead series, reds, yellows, pinks and greys stand out against a black/white background.

I just want my brother back.

Daryl DixonDaryl’s the quiet muscle, the thinking wo/man’s redneck, and he’s proven to be a better friend, defender and father-figure than almost anyone else on the show.

Where his brother, Merle, was indignant and cruelly bossy, Daryl is slow to pass judgement. He is fully present at every moment he’s on screen (and remains vital to the action when he’s off screen.)

Daryl Dixon a neutral camo green/tan, with strong blood & gore red/brown overtones and just a bit of gold shining through.

“You pull the trigger, you have to mean it.

Officer GrimesOfficer Rick Grimes, Sheriff Deputy, is the authority figure, the decider, the one who – for better or for worse – most folks turn to within his group for guidance.

Rick has the power to decide where the group goes, who stays within the group, and who is banished to the zombieverse outside of his charmed circle.

Rick can pass his hat on to Carl, he can try to deny that he is the power, but he retains the aura of Officer Grimes to everyone within his group.

Officer Grimes is a blend of the beautiful blue of his Georgia patrol car; the deep, rich brown of his iconic hat, the warm tan of his uniform with just a touch of creamy white.

The Knitting Dead, Color 2: Daryl Dixon

Daryl_Dixon

Daryl Dixon

I wasn’t prepared to like Daryl Dixon as much as I do. He is easily my favorite character in The Walking Dead.

Daryl looked too much like many members of my family; unkempt, rough, a little shady, and probably out on parole.

But it took less than half an episode for me to see that he’s the pearl in his family clam shell.

Daryl Dixon & Officer Grimes together in the "Archer" Mitt

Daryl Dixon & Officer Grimes worked together in the upcoming pattern, “Archer” Mitts

Where his brother, Merle, was indignant and cruelly bossy, Daryl is slow to pass judgement. He is fully present at every moment he’s on screen (and remains vital to the action when he’s off screen.)

He is just THERE when folks need him; Daryl sees what needs to be done, does it, and expects nothing in return but freedom to do the job the way he sees fit.

I have no idea what the upcoming episodes hold in the way of pairings, but – as my 17-year-old daughter would say – I’d “ship” Daryl and Carol, they’d make a formidable couple.

And he is without a doubt the most loyal character on The Walking Dead; when Daryl has your back, he keeps your back.

The fact that he’s a total badass with a crossbow doesn’t hurt, either; the Robin Hood heartthrob of TWD!

Daryl Dixon Colorway in ModeLuxe

Daryl Dixon Colorway in ModeLuxe

Daryl’s the quiet muscle, the thinking wo/man’s redneck, and he’s proven to be a better friend, defender and father-figure than almost anyone else on the show.

Daryl Dixon is our Knitting Dead color of the week. It’s base is a neutral camo green/tan, with strong blood & gore red/brown overtones and just a bit of gold shining through.

The color would pair nicely with just about every other color in our series, and is available in all ModeKnit yarns, and can be part of any ModeKnit Kit.

IMG_0768

An Open Letter to Mrs. Brokaw

Dear Mrs. Brokaw,

Obviously I don’t know you, we’ve never met, although I – like many Americans – feel that I know your husband. My own husband’s father was a stagehand at NBC for many years, and always mentioned what a mensch your husband was. Stage hands learn pretty fast who is a good guy, and who’s a bit of a prima donna.

So apparently this past Summer you joined the club I joined 7 years ago, spouses of folks with Multiple Myeloma. We also share the fact that our husbands are being treated at the Mayo Clinic, which I consider a very good club to be in, indeed.

You’re in the best hands in the world. When Gerry, my husband, was diagnosed his prognosis was poor, but every year, with new drugs and improved treatment options, his prognosis gets a little better.

Life has never been as precious to us as it as these past few years. We feel amazingly lucky. Excellent work is being done all over the world on this disease, but we’re biased toward the Mayo as we live in Minnesota.

I’m not going to say, “Cancer is a gift” – because it’s not. This is a painful, frightening disease – I hope your husband hasn’t had too much bone damage and subsequent pain.

But what this disease HAS given to our family is a golden opportunity to realize exactly how precious we are to each other, and how wonderful each day we share is. Often at the Mayo we would remark that it felt as though we were on a second honeymoon, except this time with chemo.

You’re not alone. I know it’s presumptive of me to write this note, and by this time you’ve realized everything that I could ever tell you. Know that there are many spouses next to you, standing by your side, all of us loving our husbands and wives, all of us willing to share some strength or just let you know that a prognosis can change for the better, especially with Multiple Myeloma.

All the best wishes for treating this terrible cancer as a chronic condition!

Best,
Annie Modesitt