Category Archives: Classes

Resting & ReCharging

4630409504_a6daaf6159_oOne thing about me that drives my husband nuts (one thing?) is how I tend to see every day things as a ‘sign’ of better things to come.

Usually I’m joking, sometimes I’m not, but when we were first married in 1993 I would often say something like, “See, that’s a SIGN that everything’s going to be fine!” and he’d just roll his eyes (looking for all the world like a 15-year old ME reacting to my mom.)

It’s been six weeks today since the arrival of Shingles in my life. I’ve been in such a fog (pain induced? pain MED induced? just generalized Annie-Confusion?) that some days it feels as though I’ve had Shingles for a week, some days it feels as though I’ve had it since the day I was born.

I’m taking the past two exceptional weekends of teaching as a sign that things are looking up,  and no one can convince me otherwise!

Current Car Crochet Project

Current Car Crochet Project

This past weekend my business partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, and I had a booth at the North Country FIber Fair where I taught four classes and had a generally wonderful time! There are SO many little  shows like this around the country, which I see as an indication of the vitality of the fiber industry, but this was one of the sweetest.

I might feel that way because I have seldom taught classes feeling SO much in pain, and receiving such a boost from my students!

When I add to that the previous weekend in the Dallas area teaching for the Dallas Hand Knitting Guild and the Hand Knitters Guild of North Central Texas, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of love I’ve been shown this month!

TEXAS

One Hardworking Texas Class

One VERY Hardworking Texas Class

I have mixed feelings about Texas. I had a job there I absolutely hated and a boss who seemed gleeful every time he could make my life a bit harder (in all fairness, he was originally from Ohio)

But it’s also the place where my brother met his soul mate, where he lived and then passed away, and it’s where my mother also lived at the end of her life and where she died.

Having a loved one die in a place will always attach a lot of strong emotions to that location.

Mostly, though, I have a very hard time with heat.

But I got very lucky; not only was the Lone Star State going through a bit of a cool snap, but the host yarn shop for my classes, The Knitting Fairy in Grand Prairie, TX, was one of the coolest shops I’ve every visited (in both senses of the word – yay!)

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

A Hardworking TX Class at The Knitting Fairy

Alissa, the owner of The Knitting Fairy, was incredibly welcoming and loving to everyone who came for classes, and made me feel as though I was visiting family. I’ve seldom felt so loved, so cared for, as I did when Alissa took charge of my comfort while I was in her shop. THANK YOU ALISSA!

It’s also quite obvious how well loved she is by her customers, which is as it should be!

Little known fact: Sprinklers in TX are pro choice!

Pro choice TX Sprinkler

After two days of classes for the Hand Knitters Guild, I was kidnapped on Saturday evening by Ron & Theresa Miskin of Buffalo Wool and taken out for some AMAZING chili, some drinking and some Outlander.

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

Beautiful Gift From The Dallas Knit Guild!

We visited with Lise from Knitting Rose Yarns (review of a Knitting Rose/Buffalo Wool yarn to come later this month) at her beautiful home, and I’m afraid I broke my main rule of teaching; NEVER GO OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE A CLASS.

I was able to pull it together for my Sunday Classes (just barely) but still feel guilty for not doing all I could to be 100% for my students. It was some damned good chili, though…

I felt so loved at my two gigs, and was BLOWN AWAY when I was given a lovely gift by the Dallas Guild just before I left, one of those wonderful yarn carousels which will be INCREDIBLY USEFUL as I re-ball odd FLOW skeins.

THANK YOU, EVERYONE IN TEXAS!

SOUTH DAKOTA

ROAD TRIP to SD!

ROAD TRIP to SD!

I joked one morning at breakfast while we were at Watertown, SD that every item on the menu was shaped like a president.

I ordered the FDR oatmeal, it looked like a dime!

But that was before I realized that we were staying at a hotel with a top notch chef in the restaurant!*

Our whole impression of Watertown was affected a bit by the extensive highway work that was going on outside of our hotel

When you’re driving a SUV with a Uhaul, it’s hard to get around all those traffic cones!

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Selfie with Festival in Barn

Road construction

is a necessary evil, though, and perhaps better roads will bring more folks to what was an extraordinary little fiber show, the North Country Fiber Fair.

There weren’t a lot of vendors, but the ones there were exceptional! Excellent yarns, gifts, baskets, buttons, ceramics, LOTS of spinning fibers and tools – just a wonderful variety of great small businesses!

It was if they’d distilled a larger fiber show and brought the best to South Dakota!

My classes were in a lovely, air conditioned room (they’ve got Rhinebeck beat by a mile, there!) and my students – well – it’s hard to praise them enough.

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

Charted Entrelac Class Swatches, AMAZING Work!

They were a confident, easy going bunch of friendly, wonderful students who took in everything I taught (and begged for more!)

The sheer openness and transparency of the folks in my classes was refreshing – like a stiff prairie breeze!

The drive out and back was a straight, 4-hour shot. Kathleen was magnificent as our driver-in-chief and head-booth-maven.

My job was to tell her where to turn.
We had exactly 3 turns in each way.

We did surprisingly well in sales for a show that wasn’t huge, which is another reason to love the NCFF!

*Minerva‘s, in Watertown, SD, is a restaurant you should visit if you’re in the area.  I will admit that we were NOT expecting such amazing food. Our last night there we had a pork chop dish that will be on the menu for their Octoberfest celebration in, uh, October. If you’re in the area, you need to get yourself over there for a meal!

But aren't we all just ANIMALS?

But aren’t we ALL just animals?

Garden Spot of Alberta!

A lovely gift from a student!

A lovely gift from a student!

So, until I was approached by Olds College, I wasn’t aware of Olds Fiber Week.

I feel silly – after all, I should know about these things – but there it is.

And boy, I’d been missing a lovely week of fiber fun!

The Olds Fiber Week is small, not a huge extravaganza, but the folks here are PASSIONATE about spinning, weaving, dyeing and – perhaps with a foot in the door this year – knitting (?)!

Ground Transportation from Calgary Airport

Transportation from Airport

I taught three full day classes, I was able to get deep into the topics (always delightful) and my students were SO wonderful! Excited, unfailingly pleasant and polite (a highly underrated skill set) and hard working.

Well, they were Canadians, so that goes without saying.

A happy student & her mini Kraken

Student & Mini Krakken

The staff of the show is all new this year, and with the exception of a few hiccups (which EVERY event has) they did a really wonderful job of allowing the students to enjoy their week of fiber fun with very little worry about the change in show management.  Everyone worked SO hard, and the hard work paid off in very happy students.

Olds Pergola

Olds Pergola

Olds Irises

Olds Irises

The show is held at Olds College, in Olds, Alberta (about an hour north of Calgary) and I was totally unprepared for how beautiful the campus would be.  It’s essentially an agricultural and animal science school, lots of equine information and farm courses available, and the gardens throughout the campus reflect a commitment to healthy, beautiful botanical specimens.

The walk from my rooms to my classes was a LONG one, and because of various external triggers (temperature, exhaustion) my fibro has really flared up this week. I’m ashamed of how hobbly I look as I meander back and forth, but if one has to walk slowly, these gardens are a lovely place to stroll!

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

In process airplane knitting; Lumiere Skirt in ModeKnit MCN Flow (Spessartine)

Tomorrow I fly back to St. Paul, which is about a month ahead of the plants here.  It’s been wonderful to experience tulips and lilacs again (they’re finished in late May back home) but I’m pining to see my husband, my pooch and my own not-very-exciting garden back home!

The kids are at their various camps; Andy’s canoeing in the Canadian Arctic, Max is attending Debate Camp at Augsburg in Minneapolis, so when I get home Gerry and I will be temporarily child free!

Back, Resting

What an amazing 5 days at Interweave Knitting Lab!

I do love this show – I’ve been at every one so far, and I always find the students intelligent, involved and eager to learn! I’ve learned to bring extra material for each of my IK classes because the chances are that I’ll need it!

Six classes over 4 days is actually rather nice, better than the three classes in one day that I’ve done in the past.  I’ve learned the best thing to do is be honest about my movement issues, ask for help when I need it, and get my EXERCISE IN EVERY DAY!

My friend, Adria, came and helped me carry items to and from my classes. This doesn’t sound like a bit deal, but for me the hardest part of teaching is getting the materials to and from the venue and lugging them to and from the classrooms each day. I get worn out by weight-bearing exercise, but I find a nice amount of pain relief in bicycling and swimming.

So this weekend I made sure I got at least 5 miles in on the exercise bike in the Marriott gym each day, I slept at LEAST 8 hours a night (10 hours on the night of my hardest teaching day) and ate well all weekend (very few restaurant meals, a good breakfast each day and smaller meals in my room)  It seemed to work well, I was as energetic in my last class as I was in my first, and I LOVED every one of my students!

So today I’m putting out any fires that came up while I was gone, answering emails and replying to queries, and tomorrow I’ll dive back into the world of ModeKnit with a rather large announcement!

STAY TUNED!

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San Mateo, Here I Come (again)

It stinks that VK Live and IK Lab are the same weekend – I want to go to both!

But I’ll be teaching at Interweave Knit Lab all weekend, and loving it!

The students I get at the IK classes are amazing, so intelligent and open and up for anything! I love it – and I really like the San Mateo Marriott (comfortable, near a Trader Joe’s AND there’s a good exercise room with nice stationery bikes)

The IK staff is unfailingly kind and helpful, everyone is so geared toward the enjoyment of the guests, it’s absolutely lovely.

Packing today was hard. Everything hurt, everything felt very heavy. I’m sure it’s because it’s been a bit cooler than usual here and I haven’t been on my bike much, so I’m REALLY looking forward to those exercise bikes!

I’m packing in shifts; class materials this afternoon; books this evening; samples and kits tonight; my clothing and toiletries tomorrow morning (oh, the luxury of an 11:30 flight!) The quiche are made (food while I’m gone, even though Gerry’s the real cook!) and appointments for the kids (local college tour, SAT tests, debate meets) are all scheduled. Gerry’s going to have a busy weekend, too!

I won’t have my computer with me, the hinge on mine is broken so I can’t close it and it won’t stay up (I have it sitting in a box so I can actually use it!) I’ll be relying solely on my iPad for email.

I’m not anticipating blogging. I think I’ll barely be able to answer email effectively, so if you do write with a question and I don’t get back to you right away, please understand!

If you’re in the San Francisco area, consider coming out to San Mateo for an amazing knit event! Many of my classes are just about filled, but a few are still open (Sunday classes have spots left) and I’d love to see you!

Rose Window

Rose Window

I’ll be taking my Rose Window so Biggan can see it in person, and if you’re around, so can you!

Meeting students is a true joy of my job!

The calendar to the right has all of my classes and their times. There are SO many terrific folks teaching, there’s not a bad class in the house!

 

 

Attention West Coast Knitters!

“Not much meat on her, but what’s there is choice.”
– Spencer Tracy, Pat & Mike

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not teaching a LOT these days, but the teaching I’m doing is CHOICE!

I’m picking my venues carefully, and with an eye to my energy levels and the quality of the entire event.

I’ll be at Interweave Knit Lab once again, and I’m proud and thrilled to be there!

The dates are Oct 31 – Nov 4, and this will be the last time for a few of my classes (I’m working up new ones and plan to take some of my older classes out of rotation…)

You can click here, or on the small calendar to the right for more information on specific class times, descriptions and dates, but suffice to say that I find the Interweave Knit Lab to be an amazing place for a knitter to grow their skill set!

For those of you who can’t make it to San Francisco, I have some great classes up at my own online classroom, onlineknittingclasses.com, and I have a few classes up at Udemy (see the list to the right).

More are on the way, as with everything else it’s a question of time and energy!

Pain Identifies Me

It’s been a crazy, pain-filled few days and I don’t know why.

I’ve been living a relatively clean life; no gluten, biking as much as I can (in the heat), keeping the sweets & dairy to a minimum.  But the pain has been rather intense.

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Me, ostensibly working, in my sky chair in the backyard. Why do I always look drunk?

I’m beginning to wonder if one of the triggers for my Fibromyalgia may be heat? Who knows. Almost 4 years in and I’m still learning stuff.

When I was in my 20’s, my 30’s, even my 40’s, I had SO much more energy.

I could do anything – and many days I did!  I could bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pain, wash the pain (and the whole kitchen) PAINT the kitchen, remodel the kitchen, and THEN make you feel like a ma-a-a-an!

But I am utterly exhausted almost every day.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.

I am just drained. And I hate it.

Recently we spent a weekend with some friends, and the fact of my constant exhaustion was brought home when I needed to take not ONE but TWO naps one day. This is the kind of thing I can ignore within my own family, but it becomes noticeable (and noticed) when other folks are around.

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The sleeping doxy

The dogs were thrilled, both Jasper and another guest’s sweet little doxy crawled into bed with me, and we three tired pups slept the afternoon away.

I apologize if I sound whiney –  I didn’t used to be so worried about whining, but a few years ago a rather nasty blog commented on how odd it was that I was always “moaning about my health, but could ride my bike to the top of the Wallace monument”  Yeah, whatever. 

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My bike by a tiny Free Library in St. Paul

Some folks are always going to be nasty about something, and it shouldn’t matter.  Except the comment is trapped in my head like a wasp against a window and it buzzes every time the pain overwhelms. me.

 

I know my exhaustion comes from pain. Pain EATS energy for breakfast, then asks for more for lunch. If no energy is forthcoming, pain goes on a rampage and sets the garage on fire before fleeing the scene. Pain is a perp.

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My bike at the Lyndale Rose Garden

And, as I’ve related ad nauseam, I deal with the pain with my bike, with yoga (in the winter) and with stretching.

Usually I can beat the pain back.

Or at least I can reason with it and
distract it while I make my escape.

 

So today I took a pain pill – not something I do regularly (perhaps I should take one prophylactically when I know it’s going to be so hot) – and I’m feeling on top of the world right now.  Where’s that frying pan…?

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I offered a “Heat Wave” discount during my class last night, the current temp minus my ideal temp of 70º = 29% off on my books!

DARN KNIT ANYWAY

Last night I taught a lace class at Darn Knit Anyway, which is SUCH a lovely yarn shop in Stillwater, MN!  I love to visit there, I always find inspiration in the choice of yarns they carry (they have a good eye – or perhaps it’s that we share the same taste!)

The class was smallish, but that allowed me to really dig into the theory of lace, why stitches move the way they do, how to create scallops and waves in the edges of your work (intentionally!) and different ways to make a decrease / increase.  Overall, it was a very good class (and I sold a few books, too!)

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St. Paul Cathedral at 9pm, on my bike ride home from SPNN

I’m excited to be teaching the same class next Saturday, this time the class is full, 16 folks at last count.  Perhaps they’ll have me back to teach classes on some other topics, that would be great!

All in all, a really terrific experience on a hot, hot day!

My plans on this steamy day are to bike downtown, sit at an air conditioned Caribou Coffee and knit, then head over to SPNN and edit from 4-9 (it’s ALWAYS cool in the edit suite!)

Yes, I’m working on a project for a documentary class I’m taking at SPNN (St. Paul Neighborhood Network), our local public access station.  It’s going very well, and I’m LOVING the editing portion.

More on this later as it transpires…

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Some New (to me) Yarns & A Lace Class

NEW CLASS

Before I talk about the yarns, I want to give a shout out for a class I’m teaching at Darn Knit Anyway in Stillwater, MN this Thursday and next Saturday (a two part class)

It’s a class on knitting lace, learning to mistress charts and feel more intuitive about your lace, and the entire class will be working on Ruth Garcia-Alcantud‘s pattern Chambourcin, we’ll be using the nested medallion motif from that pattern as a jumping off place for lace calisthenics.

NEW YARNS

A skein of SilverSpun – 50g/173 yds

Recently I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some new yarns, well – new to me, so I thought I’d write about them on this hot, hot day with the thought of knitting with the alpaca blend I have on my needles is daunting!

My friend, Laurie Gonyea (Feel Good Yarn Company) has started a new adventure with SILVER yarn! She’s producing an American made cotton & pure silver yarn that has an amazing softness, bounce and beautiful texture! Laurie sent me a skein a few weeks ago, I did some knitting up with it and it was extraordinary!

There’s buzz that the silver can be helpful for arthritis, but I can’t really comment on that as I’m not a doctor.

What I CAN comment on is that this is extraordinary yarn with a feeling different than just about anything else I’ve knit with. It has a firmness, yet is very soft and pliable.

Laurie’s engaging in a Kickstarter campaign to help her get this yarn off the ground, I think it’s worth checking out!

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TNNA HAUL: Baah, Classic Elite, Lorna’s Laces & a maribou feather from the Columbus Gay Pride Parade

While at TNNA I was introduced to a few new yarn companies worth noting, and a few new yarns by established companies.

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.35.59 AMQUINCE & CO

This is the 3rd Anniversary of Pam Allen’s yarn company, but it’s the FIRST time I’ve used any of her lovely yarns in an editorial!

I just finished a beautiful (well, I think it’s beautiful) balaklava for Interweave Crochet in Quince & Co Tern, and I enjoyed working with this yarn SO much!  It’s got a great feel in the hand, good body, and the drape of the finished fabric is perfection!  I haven’t used it for knitting, but I’m DYING to!

I think I’ll knit some up right now as a swatch for a new lace project / class!

BAAH YARNS

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 10.00.15 AMI was pretty much blown away by both the soft firmness (can you tell I’m a sucker for a soft, firm yarn…) AND by the beautiful array of colors.

Bright, crisp and clear, I fell in love with the blues and yellows especially (it’s hard to find a good yellow!)

I’m hoping to use their lovely yarn in a new project, time will tell…

SWAN’S ISLAND

IMG_0018Not a new company, but I hadn’t really appreciated their rich, deep and satisfying palette until I spent some time handling it at TNNA this year.  It’s gorgeous stuff!

Organic merino and natural dyes combine to make a soul-satisfying palette. 

I’ve no immediate plans to use their yarns, but that’s not for lack of love!

Maybe the editorial gods will conspire to do me a solid and hook us up in the future!

DROPS

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Scarf & Jasper

I’ve been assigned a few pieces for the UK Magazine, The Knitter, using Drops Alaska and Nepal.

They’re both beautiful yarns, Nepal has a bit of alpaca to soften it up, but Alaska is wonderfully soft wool on it’s own!

“Girls, you’re BOTH pretty!”

I’m working up a few mens pieces, one of which is a reversible cabled scarf (shown with my own handsome fellow, Jasper the Poodle outside of a local Caribou Coffee)

I’d used DROPS yarn before, but never so much for 4 different projects. It’s a VERY enjoyable knit, and the colors are clear and rich – I like my colors like I like my men…

LORNA’S LACES

Flushing Colorway

In addition to a new marled yarn pictured above (I’m not sure if it’s out for public consumption yet…) LL’s just come out with some new colorways based on locations which have meaning for the LL staff.  I love this idea, and I adore the colors!

My favorite is Flushing – a beautifully masculine colorway, which would pair really well with a more feminine semi-solid for a totally different feel.

Keep up the great work, Beth, Amanda and everyone at LL!

Remember Me?

I haven’t posted for a while because we have been battling various pressures, none of them terrible alone , but together they create a firm barrier which I’ve been alternatively digging under and leaping over.

It’s curious how we underestimate a smooth, level, unobstructed path, huh?

Various recurring health battles (both for Gerry and myself) have reared their ugly heads, made bolder by the non-Spring weather, which kept me from cycling (which has slowly worn away my health resources.)

Nothing fills all my reservoirs like a good, long bike ride. As a matter of fact I was SO hurting for a ride that I borrowed Ysolda’s prop bike from her TNNA booth and rode around the show floor for 10 minutes.

Not near enough, but it was fun while it lasted. I got the idea when I saw Cat Bordhi doing it, so haul us both off to convention center jail!

TNNA
Yes, I went to TNNA. I wasn’t going to go. Between Gerry’s returning health issues and my own recurring pain and exhaustion I felt as if it were too much. About Gerry was insistent – he said something to the effect of “if you don’t go to TNNA and have a bad year, design-wise, I will feel responsible.”

I didn’t want to drive alone, I haven’t driven long distances for several years, (not since I took out a construction barrel on a highway in Illinois and scared myself silly) and I wanted to take Max with me. But I didn’t want to leave Gerry home alone, and he was up for the ride!

So we did the drive there over two days, stayed a day at an extended suite type of place (good for everyone!) and while I was at TNNA doing the necessary schmoozing, Gerry and Max slept in, then went to CoSi and had a terrific time (Gerry’s dreamed of taking Max to this great science center for years!)

Hannah (who would like to be called “Andy” for the present) is already up at Menogyn working as an engage for 2 sessions, then late in July she will head out on her 32 day Nor’wester canoe trip up into Canada with 4 other young women. I’m alternately bursting with pride, and terrified for her.

TEACHING
I’ll be teaching a two part lace class at a FABULOUS yarn shop in Stillwater, MN, Darn Knit Anyway!

Lovely Laces: July 17th 6-9 pm and July 27th 10-1pm.
We will cover the basics of lace knitting, charts, and how to go about memorizing a repeating motif to make lace knitting more enjoyable and intuitive. ANYONE CAN KNIT LACE!!

DESIGNS
It’s been a crazy busy few months of designing, which I love and which is good work for me as it doesn’t require a lot of movement (I move we’ll many days, but sometimes those unmovable Fibro days coincide with a teaching engagement, and all hell breaks loose…)

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt both so useless, and also as if so much is depending on me. It’s a bad feeling, but there’s really nothing for it but to keep my mind on my work and do my best.

I’ve just finished 16 designs for various magazines and knitting pubs, all places that pay fairly and offer good terms for designers to retain their rights on their designs. Look for my work in Jane Austen Knits, Downton Abbey Knits, Interweave Knits and Interweave Crochet, Twist Collective and in Austrlia in Yarn Mag and in the UK in The Knitter.

I have 6 other designs I’ll have completed by mid-July, also for publications that deal openly and fairly with their contributors, so I’m actually very fortunate, all things considered.

BRIDGES

I had a chat with a sister designer at TNNA where I was warned not to “burn my bridges” and I laughed. Some “bridges” are little more than zip lines, they only work in one direction.

Other bridges may be burning, but I didn’t set them on fire, I simply balked at the high toll.

I know I have carved a well deserved reputation for someone who will speak her mind about fair working conditions for hand knit and crochet designers and teachers, and that this has perhaps made me persona non grata with some entities.

There are still publishers who still insist on retention of designers rights after publishing a pattern, will only pay 10% of online pattern sales to a designer (50% should be more like it in my book!) or won’t cover the full hotel and airfare for a teacher at their functions (another designer told me this weekend she makes NO money teaching at TNNA for Offinger, but she does it to get at least part of her airfare covered.)

To me this remains unacceptable.

I think I was a little afraid I’d go to TNNA and begin to regret decisions I’d made to avoid/openly discuss corporations that make money off of the fruit of designers and teachers, yet treat these same designers and teachers as if they’re doing THEM a favor by hiring them.

But, happily and surprisingly, I found myself comfortable with decisions I’ve made, happy to continue to work with old friends and eager to forge new relationships with other yarn companies.

There is room for MANY different opinions in our business. If holding a position outside of the mainstream means I’ve burned a bridge, that might not have been the right path for me, anyway.

Now, off to get a good LONG bike ride in so I can start rebuilding my health and grow my strength for what lies ahead. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if hard work and fair dealing cannot provide me an income in this industry, it may not be right for me. I’m not going to change that by underselling myself or working on the cheap.

Note: if you see odd typos in this post, chalk it up to the fact that my computer has been out of commission for wifi use for 2 weeks, so I’m doing all of my online stuff with my iPad.  This is my first time doing a whole blog post on this tricky, disappearing keyboard!

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Desperately Seeking Groove

I’m certain it’s no secret to anyone who reads my blog or knows me that I’ve been battling with some pretty strong stuff for a while.

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Gerry & Jasper, BFFs

It’s not just Gerry – overall he’s doing well, his cancer return is being handled by Revlimid & Dex and we putter along as if we’re retired folks. He’s great on his own for short periods, but I do feel that I need to be here with him most of the time.

And it’s not just my Fibro – I deal with it, I suffer through it when the flare ups come (more often in Winter) and I hesitate to write about it much because, well, who needs the nasty comments about me ‘moaning about my health’

Keep those cards and letters coming folks!

I’m not certain exactly what’s been up, but I’ve felt like a hermit, a pariah, adrift and alone in the midsts of friends.

I know I’m not, I know exactly how fortunate I am, but handling the demons of self-doubt has been very difficult this past year. I question everything I do, I fear that I’m past any usefulness.

Yes, I realize what I’ve just written is a little dumb, and self pitying to boot.
Let’s just say it’s Wintertime, and the wallowing’s been easy.

After my radical hysterectomy (return with me now…) I was put on a blend of estrogen and testosterone. Although generally considered a male hormone, women’s ovaries produce trace amounts of testosterone, which is necessary for many things. Evidently self confidence and weight loss – at least in my case – are connected with Mr. T.

As I am no longer the bearer of a set of O’s (the procedure to remove them is called an ooectomy, which always makes me laugh) I produce neither estrogen nor testosterone.

But, insurance companies being what they are and our coverage being spotty for the past years, at some point my company stopped covering my estratest, then they wouldn’t cover the generic version of it, and then I had to go to a non-testosterone hormone replacement therapy (hrt)

Before anyone writes to tell me I shouldn’t be taking hrt, don’t bother –
Since I had a radical hystero, I will take hrt.

Had I my lovely ovaries, I probably would just deal with more holistic remedies.

After another marathon session of, “50 reasons why I hate myself” I realized that there was something going on that just wasn’t explicable. I battle depression, that’s not a secret, but this felt entirely different.

So I spoke with my doctor and she agreed to try to get me back on an estrogen / testosterone supplement, just to see how that would go.

No, the drug isn’t covered by my insurance, but I felt I really needed it.

The mechanics involved were insane – the drug is killer expensive – and I am grateful to WalGreens which has a pretty great drug club type thing that brings the cost to $30 for a 3-month supply.

After a few weeks I’m noticing a difference. I feel a bit less hopeless, more able to see clearly. I feel stronger mentally, more agile and less a constant ‘victim.’

I have NO idea if this is all in my head, if I’m experiencing some kind of testosterone placebo effect, or if it’s real. But I’ll take it.

I’ve been on radio silence for so long – hesitant to blog, to send emails, to communicate with many folks because I felt so weak (mentally and emotionally), so unable to cope.

IMG_0004The Winter That Will Not End wasn’t helping, but at least it’s pretty.

So this weekend I see a bunch of students at Yarn Over (the Minnesota Knitting Guild’s yearly AMAZING knit class / marketplace extravaganza) and I see a bunch of peers.

Seriously, Yarn Over is an event that is spectacular.

Outside of the knitting convention type of events like IK Knit Lab, Stitches or Vogue Knitting Live, this event brings in the most exciting teachers.

Yarn Over is the event at which I taught in 2006 when I ‘met’ Minnesota for the first time and determined to move my family here.  Ironically, it was then held at Arlington High in St. Paul – which is now called Washington High – and which is where my son Max is a student!

IMG_2140One more ‘moving to MN sidebar’

At the Yarn Over Teacher Dinner back in 2006 there was a prom group at the restaurant. They were SO happy, everyone all together as a group, not terribly “datey” or money centered (limos, etc.)

I remember thinking, “This is what I want for Hannah, a prom that is FUN, not an explosion of $$ and broken hearts…”

And this past weekend at her Perpich Gala, that is what my dear daughter got – a lovely dance with great friends – a dance that ANY kid would love.

Seeing my peers at an event like Yarn Over is always wonderful, sometimes scary, and I’m interested to see how my pathway out of confusion and darkness helps me interact better with folks that – true or not – I feel judge me.  Peer review, it’s the name of the game in any industry.

I’ve been pondering the concept of passion. For whatever reason, I feel I’ve misplaced mine, so I am trying to line up a series of interviews with other knit folks about PASSION.

If I happen to see you at Yarn Over and drag you into a corner and ask you to give me 15 words on what excites you, please play along – I’d appreciate it!

And if you’re not a member of the MN Knitting Guild, you SHOULD be! You can only take Yarn Over classes if you are, but you can register at the event and I know that I still have places in my knitting with wire class.  Bonus – you’ll leave class with a lovely bracelet, and the ability to create many more for Springtime graduation/Mother’s Day/May Day gifts!

You may see several covers, it's a long process...

We’ve Made HISTORY!

Well, it’s FINALLY ready for pre-order from Cooperative Press!

Hmm, which cover will end up on the book?

Please note that this book is available only for PRE-ORDER.

All purchasers will immediately receive a one-page preview PDF, followed by the full digital book download within a couple of weeks.

Printed copies will ship by late December or before.

THANKFUL

I’ve been quiet, but it’s because I’ve been COOKING!

We had an AMAZING Thanksgiving; excellent food, wonderful family time, lots of rest and lots of laughing!  The only thing that could have made it better would have been house guests, but we just weren’t confident of Gerry’s pain levels or my energy levels to open ourselves up to perhaps disappoint friends.

We needn’t have worried – dinner was spectacular (just enough, all tasty, not a ton of leftovers!) and pain/energy levels held pretty steady all weekend.

Pacing, that must be the key!

I will admit, though, it was very nice to know that I could stop and recharge my batteries with a quick nap whenever I wanted to.

Time at home like this can fool me into believing that I have no exhaustion issues; it’s just when I travel and need to accommodate someone else’s schedule that it becomes crystal clear how small my energy reservoir has become.

OFF AGAIN

I’m heading off for NYC/NJ to teach a few classes.  I’m anxious to see how family and friends have fared in the aftermath of Sandy, and to touch base with the place that was my home for 30 years.

If you’ll be in the area on Dec 1 or 2, you can catch a class with me  on New Directions In Knitting With Color (including creating the groovy plaid shown at right):

Knitty City
208 West 79th St,  NYC 10024
(212) 787-5896
Sat, Dec 1 at 5pm
Knit-A-Bit
66 Elm St # 2  Westfield, NJ 07090
(908) 301-0053
Sun, Dec 2 at 1pm

I hear the classes are filling well, so if you want a space I’d call right away if I were you.