A Few Cool Things

Saturday I helped out My Friend London at Craftstravaganza in St. Paul at the MN State Fairgrounds. I biked there and home in a chilly wind, but it was worth it for the pain relief!

Sunday I spent Mother’s Day with my darling daughter and two great friends at Shepherd’s Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN, doing a book signing and making some fun purchases.

I also got to be part of the Homespun Journey Podcast, which was great fun!
It’s always great to meet a passionate fiber lover!

My friends Kathleen Pascuzzi and Karen Ryan are so great! As the four of us (Kathleen, Karen, Hannah & myself) sat at the Louisiana Cafe enjoying a delicious breakfast (Hannah’s intro to hollandaise sause!) I reflected on how fortunate our family has been in our Minnesota friendships.

Where were Gerry and Max on a lovely Mother’s Day? At the TWINS game! They were gifted tickets by another great St. Paul friend, Robin Mayfield

BTW, if you’re looking for a compassionate, respectful, brilliant and diligent divorce attorney, Robin’s your woman!

I misted up a bit thinking what  friendship like theirs, and London’s, has meant not just to me, but to our entire family. It’s been six years since we moved here, and the folks who have befriended our family have made our lives here VERY rich and full.

When I wander a craft fair or fiber show, I LOVE to connect with folks who make exceptional things, and I especially love to write about them later. Although, I must admit that I often feel badly when I post about cool makers, KNOWING that I’ve missed many folks who were also exceptional.

I hate that feeling that my oversight could be taken as a judgement. If you were at either show and I missed you, PLEASE feel free to add a link in my comments to your site!

So, with the caveat that there were probably folks who were doing AMAZING things and I may have missed them, here are some of the cool and beautiful things I’ve seen over the past two days!

Lovely Felted Scarf

Lovely Felted Scarf

Jill Lynn
Fiber Artist


Jill works with felting, and sells finished items and materials to create your own beautiful felted items.

She was exhibiting at Shepherd’s Harvest, and I was in love with her skill, designs and her color choices!

A beautiful felted scarf by Jill Lynn

Another gorgeous felted scarf

One of her repeating themes was a lovely scarf which looked like leaves folded around a neck, with felted bobbles.

One version was double sided, with two colors and so much depth.

Jill’s work was skillful and joyful – it’s times like these that I wish I had an unlimited bank account to buy pretty things whenever I see them!

Devin Johnson
MakeShift Accessories

I couldn’t tear myself away from Devin’s booth at Craftstravaganza, and I wasn’t the ONLY one! Many folks recycle industrial items in their art, but I’ve seldom seen it done with more finesse than in Devin’s cuff bracelets.

Cuff Bracelets

Cuff Bracelets

I have SUCH a love for machined signs – I photograph them wherever I see them (there’s a terrific one in the elevator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art) and they make me smile. To me, work like this represents a love for your craft, no matter how pedestrian it may seem, which really resonates with this knitter.

More Cuffs

More Cuffs

Devin’s pieces are DEFINITELY going onto my “What to do with extra cash” pinterest board!

il_fullxfull.438970536_79pcCindy Lindgren

Cindy’s work is exceptional, and I’d seen it around in various Twin City gift shops without realizing it  was hers.  I was so happy to be able to meet her in person, and just sorry that my pocketbook didn’t allow me to indulge my love for her clear, precise, well colored and love-filled art.home_main

Visiting her website, I discovered that she ALSO designs fabric – WAHOO!!

I have placed my order, I’ll be wearing a skirt made of Cindy Lindgren fabric at TNNA, be warned!

After meeting Cindy, I realized that I had wandered onto her Etsy shop earlier and had favorited her – it was just lovely to meet her in person!


Boucle Earrings

Boucle Earrings

Jennifer Putzier

Delicate yet very strong, the lovely pieces crafted by Jennifer are lightweight and graphic, very compelling, and VERY wearable! Many of the pieces seem to be inspired by typography, used very effectively. These are not pieces that fade into the background, these are lovely pieces that make a statement!

In addition to the beautiful jewelry, Jennifer sells tiny lightweight wood cross stitch canvases which are exquisite (many were beautifully embroidered, and empty ones are also available for your own threaddy interpretation!)

il_570xN.239953488London Nelson
My Friend London

And, last but not least, my own good friend London was selling her exquisitely scented candles and beautiful hand-spun yarn.

If you didn’t get that skein you were hoping for this Mother’s Day, perhaps you’d like to pick up one of London’s beautiful fiber poems?

Assuming the Best

It’s busy season for me, I have (at last count) 14 designs which have been accepted in the past few weeks, most of which are due during the month of April (I’ve finished several already, and some of them are small pieces)

So that’s good – and that’s mortgage for a few months.  Mortgage is good!

I’m also trying to set up teaching gigs where/when I can, working in designs for another book, and doing the ‘taking care of family’ thing. Life is busy, which is better than the alternative!

I’ve also been doing some serious soul searching. I guess I do soul searching on a pretty regular basis, I tend to think a lot – assess my actions and words, try to understand how they impact others, and consider ways to change my words and deeds so that I leave as much peace in my wake as possible.

Obviously, I don’t always achieve this.

Misunderstandings happen. In my case they tend to revolve around miscommunication more than anything else; I’ve not explained something well, I’ve heard something incorrectly, or something I said was translated/related to someone erroneously.  One of my big goals in life is to catch those as soon as they happen, try to address them and offer my sincere apology / explanation for what might have gone wrong.

Taking responsibility and working to resolve an issue is, I am convinced, the hardest yet most worthwhile thing I need to do as a freelancer / small business owner.

There are times when I know there’s been a misunderstanding, but it’s been practically impossible to figure out what has actually happened.

For instance, a few years ago an event organizer – for no reason I could discover – recommended that I not be hired at the event again.  This kind of stuff happens in the knitting world, especially when someone is as outspoken as I can be, and I’ve long come to terms with the fact that not every teacher is every event’s perfect fit.  And, generally, when I don’t get asked back to teach somewhere it’s mutual and I understand why.

But I had no IDEA what had gone wrong in this case. I wrote to the organizer for clarification but didn’t hear back. I kept hitting brick walls. It was painful, and because it was such a mystery, and it seemed to strike at the very core of my identity as a hand knit teacher. I found that it actually impacted my willingness to reach out to new venues, I felt as though I had a bad smell.

A few years went by, I was still in the dark, but I was invited to give a talk at a sister event by the same organization. The talk went well, I didn’t wear my glasses so – blind as a bat – I evidently smiled and charmed and whooped it up from stage with the person who had been angry with me. And all was forgiven. And I still don’t know what I did in the first place.

Heaven knows that I have an – ahem – strong personality and I was more than willing to accept that I’d said or done something which had caused a riff (even if I was entirely oblivious to what I might have done.) But it remains a mystery, and all’s well that ends well.

I write this because I’ve learned that the world of knitting teachers / events / retreat / symposiums is a world of interesting stories. Sometimes these stories can cause folks to become upset with someone else, and it’s very possible that the tiny little nut at the center of the disagreement is something inconsequential, even neutral. I guess a lot of the world is like this – perhaps a bit like junior high school – where we pass stories and gossip around, because that’s the nature of being human beings in a society!

Every day I try to grow, to become a better person, or at least not to be a worse person than I was when I went to sleep the night before. It sounds so easy, but it’s very hard – we all know this, I think we all try to do the same thing.

Recently I visited a local business and was treated incredibly rudely. The manager of the business was so vitriolic that one of the other customers (a woman I’d never met) followed me to my car to express her sympathy with the manager’s outburst, and to say that she was as mystified as I was as to what had actually just happened.

It was silly, but this really bad experience stuck with me. I was already in a bad place from some other stuff that had happened, and I allowed this to push me into a spiral – taking me to a “I’m just a rotten human being!” self pity place that was NO help at all.

I talked about it to friends, I went over the experience in my mind, and finally I just let it go – I figured that the manager was having a very bad day I happened to wander into it.

I tried to do what my mother always asked me to do: Assume the best.

Mom would ask me to ‘assume the best’ whenever someone was mean to me.

“Assume that they’re really a nice person at heart, but today something terrible happened to them and they can’t help but be angry and you happen to be there.”

“Assume that last night they were up all night with a sick kid and they have NO energy left and allowed it to get the better of them.”

Because, as my mom said, “If you assume the best, the worst you’ll look is a fool.  If you assume the worst, you could look like a bitch. And I’d rather look like a fool than a bitch.”

And, as Al Franken says, “When you assume you make an ass out of Uma Thurman”

And then today a kind of miracle happened.

The store manager sent me chocolate. She wrote a note to apologize for her behavior, and she sent me a box of candy.  I’m blown away.

I love it when things like this happen; the chocolate, getting asked back to teach at an event that I love, someone reaching out to clarify something instead of allowing it to fester.

I’m trying hard to keep these GOOD things close to my soul and dwell on them instead of pulling out the bad/wrong/mean things that happen (which always seem to find a way to worm themselves into my heart when I’m at a low point…)

And I will eat some chocolate. And ponder to whom I should send a box…

A Most Joyful Post

I wanted to wait until a month had passed before sharing our good news (which some of you already know) but we have a new addition to our family!

IMG_0385Meet JASPER!

He’s a Standard Poodle, a rescue, his background is sketchy but what we know is that he was with a breeder who may not have been as kind to him as they should have. He’s 3 years old, and when we first met him before Christmas he was calm but a little uneasy, he had kind eyes, but he wasn’t connecting in a joyful way with Gerry or myself.

IMG_0288I saw him on a rescue website, and on a fluke his foster mom happened to be in our neighborhood the day before we left for Southern CA and brought him by. We had to make our decision kind of quickly, I think I was more definite than Gerry was (although he wasn’t against the adoption, just not as certain as I was)

Jasper’s foster mom told us that he had been a bit nervous, had a few peeing accidents when he was scared or startled, and of course that was a concern. He even had a little ‘doggie-depends’ contraption to wear when I picked him up from the foster home on 1/4/13.

IMG_0346But what really sold me on Jasper were his eyes. He had incredibly kind and empathetic eyes. I feel that you can tell a lot from an animal if you listen with your heart (that sentence was a little maudlin, I apologize) and Jasper – who was called Chase by his foster family – seemed like a dog in search of someone to trust.

The kids reacted differently; Hannah was pretty upset that she learned about the possible adoption when I facebooked about it (totally understandable) and Max was neutral about the possibility.

IMG_0400During our 2 weeks away we discussed the dog a lot, and one thing that made the kids feel more engaged with the process was renaming him. Hannah hated the name Chase for some reason, we all have likes and dislikes that are hard to explain. Max suggested Jasper, and we all liked it. I felt it was close enough to Chase that it wouldn’t be too confusing, and as far as we knew he’d only been “Chase” for a few months.

I picked up Jasper alone, so it would be a calm situation. When I got home we realized that Jasper was scared of tall men and growled at Max when he first met him. It took about a week, but slowly Jasper and Max befriended each other (Max became “Mr. Walk” and “Mr. Food”, and that helped Jasper trust him).

IMG_0001 Hannah didn’t immediately bond with Jasper, I think she still felt a bit alienated from him because the process happened outside of her time at home, but slowly she, too, has come around and is loving Jasper.

The cats weren’t thrilled after having the run of the house for a few months, but it only took Ginger a little over a week to climb into bed and sleep next to Jasper. Nitro is longer coming around, but she’s definitely not afraid of him, and he’s not bothering her, so the path ahead looks clear.

IMG_2040Jasper is trusting us so much now, loving us, really becoming one of the family. One of the great joys of this dog is actually SEEING how his love for his new family is growing; it’s both touching and delightful. We are VERY lucky!

My friend London came over and Jasper fell head-over-heels in love with her! He wouldn’t get off her lap, just loving her, acting like a tiny poodle instead of a huge Standard. He also loves my friend Kathleen, he acts so excited and happy when she comes over. Loving our friends is a huge mark in Jasper’s favor!

We took Jasper to the vet and she gave him a clean bill of health. He was only fixed over New Year’s holiday, so he has a LOT more muscle mass than our last poodle, who was fixed as a pup.

He’s an unusual silvery-grey color with brown marks, really quite beautiful. His eyes are so soulful, he speaks volumes when he looks at us. We’ve trained him to do some small, silly tricks and also some helpful stuff like HEEL and STAY. He’s GREAT on walks, and never pulls when walking over ice (which is very important for both Gerry and I).

Obviously he loves this corner of the sofa...

Obviously he loves this corner of the sofa…

We took him for a family trip to our local dog run at Battle Creek Park and he was SO HAPPY! That really was a momentous event for all of us, it sealed the deal – emotionally – for both kids, and was the most joyful we’d seen our previously sad pup. We all felt very lucky to be part of that day, when Jasper let loose and showed how much he loves us.

So welcome to Jasper, our new love.

I’m Not Supposed To Be Here

I was likin’ the lichen…
(no, I didn’t say licking)

I am supposed to be camping an hour East of St. Paul. But here I am.


It rained like a son-of-a-gun.

We set up our beautiful camp, everything was smashing! Max rode his bike to go get wood, we started a fire, then Max and Gerry left to go get marshmallows.

During the Deluge
(Oh the humanity, and our beautiful fire!)

And then there was a deluge.

We knew there was a 50% chance of rain, but we risked it.

WHAT A STORM. When Gerry and Max returned (after I’d stowed everything under the picnic table and in the tent, where I huddled with a VERY frightened Atticus who does NOT like thunder) they sat in the car for 30 minutes because the rain was SO hard that to get out would have been to get soaked for no reason.  Because of Gerry’s mobility issues, we chose a drive-in campsite.

Plus, we have satellite radio for another month. We got 3 months free when we got the car. So they just listened to funny stuff and watched me. Ha ha.

Working by the Campfire

So when the rain subsided a bit we packed up the necessities, stowed everything else in the tent, locked up the bikes and skedaddled home.

At 9pm it’s still raining.

But it’s supposed to be GORGEOUS tomorrow & Sunday, so we’re heading back bright and early for canoeing fun (Gerry and Max will do that, I’ll hang out at the campsite and dry stuff off, and knit…)

Here are a few pics from today. Some lichen, a shot of me working BEFORE the storm, and a shot taken from the tent during the storm.

 Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet ~ Bob Marley

Did you miss me?

I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet.  When weeks pass and I don’t post on my blog, I sometimes think, “Why do I even HAVE a blog…”

Then someone writes me, tells me how much they gained from reading back posts, and I realize that I won’t always be in this slow, slow period in my life.

I’ll speed up and post more regularly when I’m mentally and physically more in tune with everything.

Right now I’m just feeling a bit blah (perhaps Rick Santorum was speaking about me?) and at the same time a bit harried and confused.  An odd and unsettling mix.

I’ve been feeling exceptionally depressed some recent days, and I can’t help but feel it’s strongly tied to the fibro.  A rheumatologist I saw in Nov said that I was doing much better than many of her other patients, and I’ve been getting good light and taking my Vit D3 (although on her suggestion I cut back – maybe I need to increase it again?) 

It’s a silly kind of depressive feeling where I know I need help with some things, but I’m feeling just foolish and worthless enough to NOT ask for help.

Yes, I know how dopey that sounds, and unhelpful, please don’t scold me in the comments – you won’t tell me anything I don’t already know.

I think I also took a backspin on our weekend up to Camp Menogyn.  It was lovely, but physically it was so far beyond what I was capable of (the long walk across the lake in the dark upon our arrival winded me and cramped up my muscles in an odd way) 

I can do a long walk slowly, but dragging a sled of luggage and having no idea exactly how FAR we were walking was disorienting and unsettling.

Once at the lodge the folks were nice, but I had the feeling I’d wandered into someone else’s family reunion – and I wasn’t exactly part of the family.

A few other folks felt the same way (more knitters than I’d expected) so we made a small band of crafters in a very loud environment – what I wouldn’t have given for a smaller, quiet room with some decent light!

The cook was absolutely wonderful at creating something gluten free for me at each meal, so kind of her!

But I felt as if I were – useless?  Not able to keep up?  An outsider?  Most of those feeling sprang from within me, I know.  A lot of it was probably ‘first timer syndrome’, too!

So while I muse about a good blog post to put up in the next few days, here’s a short video about one of my favorite places in the Twin Cities – the Midtown Greenway Bike Trail.

As the temps will be hitting the high 40’s today (this is Minnesota, right?) I’m going out for a long ride today to try to clear my mind, relax my body and lose the cobwebs that have been clouding every part of my existence. 

Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway
by Streetfilms

Biking is SO much easier for me than walking.  I’d rather bike 10 miles than walk a block, the pain when I bike is negligible, but when I walk I feel sore all over.  And this, of course, makes me feel guilty in some niggling way.

Bump, Skid, Ouch!

Boy, yesterday was a pretty wretched day all over the world.  The Norwegian tragedy is beyond comprehension (Gerry called it right away, saying that it felt to him like Oklahoma City, and it does sound very much the same at this point.)

In our own corner of the world we had two minor bits of excitement, neither one tragic at all, just inconvenient.

Watch Out For That Hole!

I ride my bike quite a bit because it seems to get all of my juices flowing and keeps the pain from my fibromyalgia at bay.  At first I thought I may have been imagining this, or projecting, making myself believe that the biking was helping to assuage the guilt I felt for peddling away from household duties once or twice a day.

But when I don’t ride for a day or two, the stiffness returns.  More than 3 days and the pain can be so bad when I start to ride again that I need to ease back up into my longer rides.  Right now I average about 6 miles a day, most of my rides are between 7-14 miles.

It sounds like a lot, and I guess it is, but it doesn’t FEEL like that much.  Not now.  When I started riding 2 years ago after a 20 year break (I used to ride in grad school) it was a big deal to go even 3 miles.

These days a 20 mile ride really doesn’t feel THAT far, and I keep expanding my riding circle to add more miles. (The great thing about a place like the Twin Cities is that not only are there ample bike trails and paths, but if I get really tired or burned out I can hop on a bus and go home.  ALL the city transit buses in Minneapolis & St. Paul have bike racks on the front.)

Falling isn’t fun, but everyone does it now and then.  I haven’t fallen for a while, but I did a doozy yesterday and scraped myself up pretty badly.  Even worse, my right hand (thumb & joint especially) are very tender, so knitting is out of the picture for a bit.

Luckily I fell right in front of the home of a very kind woman, a nurse, who patched me up and sympathized, and also happens to be a (new) fibromyalgia friend.  Small world!

Gerry came and got me – I was feeling pretty woozy – but overall I’m dandy.  I’ll take a day or so off the bike, but I’ll be back on it, believe-you-me, because nothing else brings me the same joy or decreases my pain to such a degree.


However, that was just the start of our excitement yesterday.  Later in the day, while I was down in Rosemount visiting Steven B’s shop the Yarn Garage, Gerry had a car accident while driving the kids home from piano lessons.

It was minor in the sense that everyone is okay, and fault was difficult to determine (Gerry’s car was hit, but his immediate reaction to any accident is to blame himself, which is what he has done here, and now it’s a moot point…)

The kids are fine, Gerry’s fine (if shaken) and I kept waking up last night from fitful dreams of what might have happened.  We were lucky. The car, unfortunately, is a total loss.

Now we’re a one-car family, which isn’t terrible in a good mass-transit area like Mpls/StP.  I use my bike for most of our daily grocery shopping and errands, and the kids will have to lean to rely on THEIR bikes and the busses to get around.

We’d contemplated becoming a 1-car family for a few months, we just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly or in such an unplanned way.  This is life.

And, of course, Gerry just had $800 of work done on the car.  Damn.

I Like To Ride My Bicycle

Saturday, May 28, 2011 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You have a certain idea about how your day should go and you want to put things back on track when it begins to deviate from your plan.

You would like to show a more easygoing side of yourself today, but it’s challenging to let go of control when you believe that you are holding it all together. Unfortunately, your priorities may be bent out of shape. Consider this situation as an opportunity to develop trust.

Sure, you could engineer more perfection into your world now, but the cost may be higher than you realize.

Okay, I’ll trust!

I’m closing in on the last few projects of my “Month of 1,000 Projects” and it can’t come too soon.

The month thing is misleading as I’ll definitely extend beyond May 31.  Yarn arrived late for one project, and another project isn’t really due until I get to TNNA (although I’m aiming for the week before to present it to the yarn company that’s commissioned it)

This last project isn’t a knitting project per se, it’s a video I’m doing featuring different techniques to use with a lovely line of yarn, different stitches, and maybe some fun animation.  Still working it out, but it’s going to be enjoyable and I’m trying to keep a light touch.  I do love the video editing, I have to be honest!

Today, though, there’s an unexpected bonus in that the day promises to be sunny when it was predicted to be rainy.  I will take this day and [ride like the wind, then stop and knit], repeat to end of day.

To finish to day is a long fingerless mitt and then I need to dive into a fair isle that’s due in England on June 14th.  Anyone like to start a pool on when I finish it?

But the best part of the day will be Torah study in 30 minutes.  I love this, and I had been missing it (Gerry and I used to be very active in our congregation of Kolot Chayeinu in Brooklyn 17 years ago when we first married.)

KC is still going strong, and anyone who has the honor and joy of visiting and getting to know the folks involved and Rabbi Ellen Lippmann is a lucky person indeed!

Our own study on Saturday mornings here is refreshing for me, a chance to connect with some very thoughtful, funny and wise folks, a chance to feel part of a community.  I wish I could get Gerry to join me, he would enjoy it immensely!

If you see me riding around St. Paul, wave!  I’ll be the one grinning on my bike!



Home from my ride – 24.5 miles! – that makes almost 170 for the month of May.

And I got a lot of knitting done, too!  And I saved a turtle’s life.

This was a really great day – unexpectedly lovely weather.  It is very effective in wiping out a week of fibro pain and blue-ness, I’m so glad I could take advantage of it.

Glory Hallelujah!

As many of you know, I had an – ahem – female procedure about 10 years ago and was shot headlong into menopause at age 40.

Oh well, easy come, easy go!

One thing you don’t hear about often as a young woman is the rate at which you slip into bearded lady-dom post menopause.  Who knew?

Aside from a brief scene in Crossing Delancy, I’d never seen a woman plucking on screen (where I learn all my life lessons) so I was unprepared for my transition into Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

Well, I’m taking a leap today.  I saw a Groupon for laser hair removal just a few blocks from my house, and coincidentally had run into a friend who’d had a good experience with the same office.

So I purchased it.

And today I’m going for what will probably be visit #1 of 6.  I wanted the appointment to coincide with the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, but that was impossible.  So today’s the day, and hopefully we’ll ‘John Wilkes Booth’ all those little chin hairs that are driving me SO crazy.

The worst part?  I was told by the office, “DO NOT PLUCK” for the 2 weeks before my visit, so I’ve been sporting scarves everywhere so I can elegantly dip my chin down into the folds of fabric and not scare the children.

To make my Groupon day complete, I intend to bike over to Minneapolis to visit a furniture store where I have another Groupon to use up.  I’m looking for a side-table type of thing I can use in the bathroom on which to rest the sink I bought at Ikea last year (we don’t like our pedestal sink very much…)

If the biking gods are with me, I’ll be able to get it all accomplished before it starts raining this afternoon (if not I’ll be taking the bus home!)

Yesterday I was biking and hit a bump and my wallet leapt out of my bag and I caught it between my knees in my skirt.  THIS is why I like to ride my bike in a skirt!


Ta Da!

Amanda’s wedding dress is FINIS and I’m SO happy!

I love to sew, and this has been a pure labor of love, but I had forgotten how physically draining sewing can be.  I’ve become used to the wonderful, sedentary world of knit design (with bike breaks) so standing over an ironing board, a mannequin, leaning over a sewing machine or cutting table are skills I needed to strengthen.

But it’s all worth it – the dress has come out beautifully, and the removable over-skirt will allow Amanda to walk down the aisle with a LOT of impact, then remove it so she can dance and chat and move among the guests without knocking drinks off the tables (unless she wants to.)

Cats Love Tulle

Amanda looked SO amazing in the fitting of the dress 2 weeks ago, I can only imagine how great the whole thing will look when it’s on her and ready to wear!  I’m shipping it off today via UPS, I need to find a BIG box so I don’t crush the tulle too much.  Don’t you just LOVE that amazing purple tulle?  Amanda found it online, it’s just divine!  Shiloh the cat loves it, too!

My only regret?  I won’t be able to be at the wedding.  I’m shattered by this, but I had agreed to teach at Shepherd’s Harvest on the same day over a year ago, so I can’t back out now!  And, I adore Shepherd’s Harvest.

Obviously I need to make myself a similar dress and wear that at Shepherd’s Harvest that day!

Actually, I did just buy some fabric for myself.  I’m going to make a simple linen dress with a full skirt that I can wear teaching and biking.  I found some really lovely fabric over at Treadle (they’re a bit pricey, but you can’t beat their eclectic selection, and they’re 10 minutes away by bike!) so I’ll be working that up later tonight after I get some knitting / designing work done.

Change From The Inside?

It’s been no secret that I’m committed to changing the current mindset at some magazines about fair compensation for designers, rights to pattern ownership & online sales compensation.

I feel that as designers we should have the freedom to negotiate a contract that will allow us to:

  1. Earn a respectable fee for a design & providing the sample
  2. Retain pattern rights (if the designer desires)

  3. Control whether patterns are sold online
  4. Negotiate a fair percentage of online pattern sale fees to go to the designer

Setting minimums for these goals isn’t a bad idea, and it wouldn’t lock the designer into a low fee as much as allow a starting point for negotiations.

Interweave has been absolutely BRILLIANT in their response to the knitting community.  They provide excellent quarterly reports of online pattern sales (much as Patternfish, Twist Collective, Ravelry and other online pattern sales entities do).

Vogue Knitting’s been a hold out, but I’ve felt it’s just a matter of approaching whoever makes the decision in a realistic way.  I stopped submitting to Vogue because, as a friend once advised, “Don’t be a party to your own hanging.” And I’ve heard from many designers who feel the situation should be changed.  But how to change it?

I don’t represent anyone but myself, so I can’t make decisions for anyone else.  I’d thought about trying to arrange some kind of a meeting with the folks from Vogue (much as the Interweave folks and I did 3 years ago) but I’ve been hesitant.

Then I was asked by Vogue Knitting to teach at an event here in St. Paul in September.

I thought hard about it, weighing a lot of different variables and I’ve decided I’m thrilled to be teaching at the Creative Connection / BlogHer event on September 15

Here’s my reasoning:

  1. From all accounts the VK Live event was a VERY positive experience for all participants (students, teachers, shoppers & sellers)
  2. I feel perhaps I can effect a change if we can open the dialogue.
    Teaching for VK seems like a good way to do this.
  3. They’ve offered very fair terms for the teaching fees.
  4. I’m teaching at Knitting Lab for Interweave Knits in November (in San Mateo), and it seems fair to give both of these events a good look from the inside out.

I’m INCREDIBLY excited to be part of the Creative Connection – I’d actually written to BlogHer last week asking about speaking or teaching at the shindig, so this may be in part due to that.

The knitting classes / portion of the program will be handled by Vogue Knitting, which makes a lot of sense given their recent VK Live success.

So what do you think?  Grown up decision, or sell out?  Recently I’ve had a flood of requests for me to teach, I think the planets are all in alignment or something, but this is – in some ways – the one I’m the most excited about.  I think it’s because it’s nearby – just 3.5 miles from my house (I can bike!)

I feel that this may be the first step in starting a dialogue, so we can find ways around some of the stumbling blocks I’ve hit in my quest for fair internet pattern compensation!  VK reached out to me, I’ll reach back to them, and we may find a nice middle ground down the road!

Well, Let’s Hope So!

Friday, February 4, 2011 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You are motivated to get a lot done at work today with the Sun-Mars conjunction activating your 6th House of Employment. The cluster of planets in futuristic Aquarius encourages you to set pragmatism aside and take a risk for what you want. And although you might not be seeing everything clearly now, it’s smarter to trust your intuition and do what makes sense to you rather than wasting your energy trying to persuade others to share your point of view.

It’s no secret that I love my Rick Levine horoscopes (even though I’m not sure if I’m a Virgo or a Leo these days…) because I find them eerily fitting to my current life.

Or perhaps I’m just eerily hopeful that the good ones will pan out for my day!

After Max’s Bar Mitzvah I took a few days to recover (OY!) Well, who wouldn’t need to recover from THIS?

Knitting note: For those who enjoy Candace Eisner Strick’s work, her
sister, Judith (on violin) is the leader of this Klezmer band, Klezmorim.

Killer Cold

And as soon as my recovery seemed complete, Max came down with a croupy cough (he’s prone to those) while leaped to me, then to Hannah, and then to Gerry.

Max is great now, he’s gearing up for a weekend retreat with his B’nai Mitzvah class where they will discuss the facts of life.  We joke that it’s going to be two days of guilt training.

Hannah’s well enough to go to school after 2 sick days.  It’s the start of the semester and she LOVES her classes and hates to miss them.  Besides, today’s a half day, so it gives her a chance to touch base, pick up assignments, then return home and rest for a few days.  She does seem much better, just tired.

Gerry’s hit hard – he’s sleeping right now, and missed his photoshop class last night (he’s training with the hope of finding work doing web video stuff, it’s through a program for disabled Minnesotans).

And me?  Well, any chance my lungs have for a bender is all they need to go nuts for a week.  Laying down is insanely hard, sitting up is tiring, but complaining makes it ALL BETTER.  Wah, wah, wah.


Seriously, though, I’ve been getting a lot of swatching & pattern writing work done, which is great!  I can’t show images of my sketches because they’re currently in contention for some mag issues, but I’d love to share some of the swatch highlights…