Category Archives: St Paul Stuff

The Holiday Cycle

andy_alison_inside_lav

So wonderful to have the girl home, even if only for a few days!

I generally feel some kind of let-down on the day after a big day, and Thanksgiving is no different.

I think it’s all the cooking, cleaning, organizing and trying to get the troops sitting at the table at the same time that is so wearying. I also think I’m afflicted with an early case of empty next syndrome. I realize that this time next year both kids will be away at college – and after that, who knows?

Coming from an incredibly disfunctional (and at times absolutely toxic) family environment, I’ve worked hard to keep my own family holidays as low key and – well – small as possible.

It always seemed to be at the larger family events that someone would take joy in pushing someone else’s buttons; I’m afraid I got a lifetime’s worth of that at a young age.

Small and quiet works well for us.

And then I worry that our holiday will be TOO small next year.

Someone's been helping me with the skeining...

Someone’s been helping me with the skeining…

I love my family, and they love me, but somehow during the holidays there generally comes a blue period when I foolishly begin to doubt my abilities as a parent.

It makes me wonder if my own mom (and her mom, etc.) felt the same at the holidays. I miss my mom (and cousin Jan) all through the year, holidays are one of the hardest times, though.

And, as it’s been a bit colder (after a LOVELY early November) I haven’t had a chance to get out on my bike for the past week.  Astounding how that rocks my world. I know a good amount of the ‘blues’ is due to inactivity. So it’s time to do something about it.

This guy would like a walk, too!

This guy would like a walk, too!

We’re incredibly lucky here in St. Paul, we have a wonderful network of Rec Centers, and for the low cost of $30/year we can visit ANY of them whenever we want for gym time, pool time, or to take a yoga or zumba class (those last have an additional fee, but it’s pretty low!)

So I’m setting out to renew my membership again, so I can try to get some regular exercise to take the place of my daily bike rides.

I’m lucky that right up the street, about a mile away, is a great rec center with a pool and a sauna. Kathleen and I have discussed finding a Zumba class, so maybe we’ll be doing that, too!

My mom used to say, “When you feel blue, take a walk or take a nap.” and I think right now I need the equivalent of a nice long walk every day. Maybe a nice, long walk down to the Jimmy Lee Rec Center?

red yarn settingIn working news, I have SO much yarn to dye in the coming months.

The good part is that I’ve been scheduling the dye sessions, so I’m not working haphazardly (as I might have last year with smaller orders).

I’m trying to work in a very planned way to dye all the yarn that is required for a some pretty big orders, (and the nonstop fiber shows in the late Spring & early Summer of 2016 we have coming up!)

A New Year

Atticus wears a leaf hat in NJ, 2012

Atticus wears a leaf hat in NJ, 2012

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

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

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

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

Max masquerading as Ed Sheeran

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

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

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

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

Andy gets a tattoo!

Andy gets a tattoo!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Summer in Minnesota FLOWS On!

Gorgeous, MN

Gorgeous, MN

I love it here. I’m a woman who likes cold weather, and I LOVE chilly Summer evenings and sleep-with-the-windows-open nights.  I love Minnesota.

And, being a Virgo, I love home.

Being home is better than anything else to me (and I do love travel!) so this is a very special time – I know I’ll be home for a few weeks and I’m in heaven!

Butts at Olds!

Butts at Olds!

Last week I traveled up to Olds, Alberta to teach at Olds Fiber Week – which was lovely – but I am SO glad to be home, back on my bike, and getting my health back in order!

Travel really takes it out of me (out of so many of us) and it generally takes me about 1/2 the time of the trip to feel like ‘myself’ again.

Having said that, at the start of August I’ll be teaching at the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair! I’m offering 4 classes (listed to the right in the calendar area) and some are filling up very fast! If you’re in the Chicago area or will be attending this great festival, please register soon so you’re not disappointed!

Bolero Book

Right now I’m focusing on finishing writing the 25 patterns for my book, working up the schematics and charts.  It will be published by Stackpole books, and the samples have received HUGE positive comments whenever I show them while teaching. I’m afraid I cannot show pics of the finished items (it’s in my contract) but I can give a small taste of some of the items!

I have a feeling this will be an pretty popular book; the patterns are very wearable, many of them are very simple to knit, and the yarns I was able to use are just gorgeous!

And – BONUS! – I just heard from my editor that I can have a bit more time for the pattern writing. This is HUGE because I’m dealing with a cracked tooth/abscess thing right now, so my thoughts are scattered, to say the least.

Dealing with mouth pain is not the best frame of mind for doing lots of math.

ModeKnit Yarn

In our own little corner of the knit world, we’ve begun a new line of colors called FLOW!

They’re long-color change yarns, and we’re using our established Semi Precious colors as a jumping off place – here you can see Spessartine (hand painted) vs Spessartine (Flow)  Basically I’m deconstructing the colors and layering them, separately, with the actual blending happening between the hues.

Right now we’re offering selected colors, you can buy them by the ball (limited quantities, once they’re out of stock they’re gone until I dye up more!)

I’m open to any color suggestions you might have for blending; what would YOU like to see?

My Little Boy…

Still single, hm.

Still single, hmmm

…is not so little any more.

Max is 16 on January 31. And he’s tall.

He’s taller than I am, and shows every indication of growing taller. He was named (in part) after my uncle Jim Bob (his real name was Max Hurl) who was 6’6″, so he has a way to go!

I’m not sure what we did to get such a loving, funny, happy, easy-going, sometimes kind-of-lazy, brilliant, not-as-hard-working-as-his-sister (who is?), WONDERFUL son, but we did. And we’re proud and happy and absolutely joyous.

Max's First Birthday

Max’s First Birthday

When the American Cancer Society ran a series of ads a few years ago (“The Official Sponsor of Birthdays”) I would cry every time I saw one (heck, I cry at coffee ads)

In our house we treasure Gerry’s birthdays (he has one next week, in fact!) but we treasure ALL of the milestones we didn’t think he’d be seeing – like Max’s 16th birthday!

Because we live in a city with good mass transit, not great parking in our immediate neighborhood, and a teeny-tiny garage, neither Hannah nor Max are driving (or has even taken driver’s ed.)

So this birthday isn’t the same milestone it might be for a driving kid. But it’s a milestone none-the-less.

Maybe, instead of a car, I’ll buy him a new bus pass?

And now, for your viewing enjoyment, a gallery of our beautiful boy.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAX LANDY!

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So Tired, So Happy!

Linarite in

Linarite in Worsted Weight

 

What an amazing week.  WOW.

I have a kind of heady exhaustion right now I haven’t felt in a long time. It’s the kind of post-show-opening buzz one feels the day after first night of a hard theatrical production.

A few things I did this week, each requiring varying amounts of mental and/or physical energy:

1. Dentist visit, where I discovered that I will have to have the end molar on my upper left side extracted. Stress level: 9 of 10

2. Skein rolling & tying, whereby I created 100 skeins of our two yarn bases (a sock weight and a worsted weight) to ready them for dyeing. Not terribly difficult, but repetitive and soreness causing. Energy expended: 6 of 10

3. Headache from hell day, when I felt like my head was going to explode due to the dual instances of a large low pressure system arriving in the twin cities, and the realization I’d skipped my hbp meds for a few days because I got them confused with a different med. Hilarity ensued. It was especially stressful because the headache arrived the night before THE BIG DYE. Stress level: 7 of 10

4. THE BIG DYE, where my partner Kathleen and I carried all of our dyeing stuff and the aforementioned 100 skeins of yarn to our rented dye room and proceeded to dye them in 4 colors: Tanzanite, Gilmarite, Chabazite and Mercury.

First Four Colors

It was a very hard day, physically. Mentally, it had challenges, but overall it was splendid. Kathleen and I both learned a lot (because it was her first time doing any large scale dyeing, her learning curve was steep, but she was a TROUPER!) and when Gerry came to pick me up at 7pm I had 100 skeins of beautifully dyed yarn in various states of finish ready to pack into our trusty Hyundai.  Energy level: 10 of 10.  Stress level: 7 of 10.

5. Huge ice/snow storm arrived in the area, causing driving to be difficult and throwing a wrench into everything. Kathleen kindly drove on Dye Day, but Friday I was the driver of choice down to the Mayo Clinic for our regular visit, then home again in some of the worst traffic I’ve seen in the TC (ice + Friday during holiday season = bad traffic!)  We didn’t just have to drive home, but I had to get out to Golden Valley to pick up our girl (I was 2 hours late) and bring her home for the weekend. Oy. Stress level: 8 of 10.

6. Mayo visit, which went very well.  Gerry’s numbers are good, holding steady and I love our oncologist/hematologist. She’s a gem, lovely, funny, kind and she almost feels like family. In fact, last year when we drove out to La Jolla, she invited us to stay at her aunt & uncle’s home in Sedona on the way. LOVE HER.

During the visit she told us a joke, prefacing it with, “You’re going to DIE laughing!”  Which struck me as hysterical because she’s one of the main reasons Gerry HASN’T died of Multiple Myeloma.  It was a week filled with Dyeing/Dieing talk. Stress level -3 of 10. Yay!

7. Book deal, which I’ve kept quiet. I didn’t intend to sign up with a publisher, but I was approached with pretty much carte blanche by a publisher I respect, and I realized this would be a great vehicle to promote our new yarn AND get some press for some other indy dyers. So I’ve requested that every project in my next book will be worked up using yarn from independent dyers, with notes (and perhaps even second samples) worked in a more commercially available yarn, too.  I’m in the process of contacting dyers whose work I know and love, or who I feel I owe some exposure to since they’ve been SO kind in allowing me to use their yarn for swatching and submitting.  More on this later, but it was ironic that it all happened this week!

The best part is I retain all rights for my design, the advance – while not huge – is adequate and I get to choose/arrange my own photographer & models (which makes me very happy!)  Stress level 4 of 10, but in a good way!

8. No Coast Craft Show, where My Friend London sells her beautifully hand dyed and spun fibers, is this weekend and I’ll be over there helping London out. Which means I’ll be sitting on my butt and schmoozing. C’mon on by if you’re in the twin cities, I won’t be there til after noon (I have to catch  my bus in 20 minutes!) I’m taking the bus because…

9. Crazy Kids Weekend, when Hannah has her SAT (again) this morning, and Max had to be at his all-day debate team event at 6:45 am. After getting home from it at 10pm last night. He LOVES it, he seems to excel at it, and we’re proud of him! Hannah’s not put the studying into the SAT that I would have wished, but it’s her third time taking it.  She’s taking it again because THIS time she was finally granted extra time for her ADHD, which should make a great deal of difference in her math scores.  Stress level 5 of 10, but Gerry’s dealing with it and the kids are taking the bus home.

So how was YOUR week?

 

 

DocU Camera SPNN

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

DocU ScreeningThis Summer was a departure for me in many ways, and I kept pretty mum about the biggest goal I embraced.

In addition to a pretty full design plate, I filmed & edited a short 10-minute documentary.

It was an adventure from start to finish, and I learned a TON about so many things (including—as always—about myself!)

I was part of DocU, a mentorship program our local public access TV station (SPNN) started last year.  I was one of twelve folks chosen to participate, and I was thrilled!

I wasn’t certain that my idea for a documentary about caregivers would pan out, would be worth watching, so I kept quiet about it.  I wanted to present caregivers not as heros, but as regular folks who do what they do because of love, and whose lives are equally enriched and complicated by the act of caregiving.

Essentially I wanted to examine how caregiving – giving CARE – translates into giving JOY.  And that’s the name of the doc – Giving Joy.

As of Sept 7th Giving Joy will be available to view online (link to come).

If you’re in the Twin Cities and would like to come to the screening on Sept 7th,
leave a comment and I’ll add you to the invitation list!

I was aided in the shooting by Gerry (who knows SO much about everything video) and Max (who worked at SPNN last Summer in the Youth Program, so was allowed to handle the camera and lights and was my ‘muscle’)  The filming went really well, I was able to get some great interviews with folks from Family Means in Stillwater, the Minnesota Board on Aging and a couple of other caregivers.

For B Roll (all of that footage in a doc that isn’t someone talking) I used quite a bit of still photography from our own family adventure with caregiving, and I also shot some great footage with Gerry and Max down at the Mayo clinic one sleepy Sunday.

But the part of the class I really loved was the editing.  I was in my element!
I’d taken an Avid editing class back in 1995 in NY, and at the time I loved my introduction to non-linear video editing.  Since then I’ve edited various knitting videos for my classes and websites, and a series of videos for Zealana Yarns highlighting some of my favorite techniques using their yarn.

But this was my first foray into Adobe Premiere, and it went very well.  I’m familiar with the Adobe ‘feel’, I use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign regularly and have my own keyboard shortcuts that I insert into each app to make them feel ‘right’ to me.

Premiere was not entirely intuitive, some of it felt a bit kludgy, but it soon began to feel better and, with the help of Lynda.com classes, I felt fairly accomplished in a short time.

Because I purchased InDesign last year to do the layout for History on Two Needles (yes, I wrote, knitted (most of) the garments, made the charts & schematics, photoshopped all of the images AND designed and laid out the pages of the book!) I was eligible to sign up for the Adobe Creative Cloud for $20/month, allowing me access to ALL of the Adobe Suite apps.  This is a crazy bargain, and I have been grateful ever since!

I tell my knitting students that there are two sure ways to really learn a new skill; make a mistake, or teach someone. Mistakes I made — plenty of mistakes! — and I volunteered to help a couple of students who had stronger filming & interviewing skills but were falling behind in the short time allowed for editing.

After all, I was so fortunate to be able to do much of my editing at home,
it was only fair I used some of my time to help other folks out.

Will this experience be the start of a new chapter in my life? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t mind if I could eventually work in that field. Aside from knitting, nothing has felt so — right — in my hands immediately.

I have plans for a few other video projects that I’m really excited about, I’ll talk about them more when the time is right!

Pain Identifies Me