Knit & Crochet Blog Week – Something A Bit Different

Okay, you want something different?  This is not terribly knitting related, but it may make you laugh.

Here’s the video I recently made when I auditioned for Project Runway.

Suffice to say, I didn’t get a call back…

It may make you laugh, it may make you scratch your head, but it will DEFINITELY make you say, “Dang!  Those PR judges are smaaa-art!”

Family Album

I’ve been dealing with a perfect convergence of deadlines over the past weeks, but one that loomed large was my $50 Groupon for Mixbook.

FINALLY I got the kids baby pictures together, scanned them, and put a small album together to send to Grandma for her birthday next week.  And, of course, we’ll keep one ourselves.

Next on my agenda; FINALLY create our wedding album!

If you’re interested, here’s how the book’s supposed to look!

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | Learn About Mixbook Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

Are you HOT? How about some ICE?

Well, we are ALL hot, and it stinks.

And you might, too (well, it is very hot…)

Heat affects me SO strongly, it always has (even in my ‘thin years’) and just makes me want to roll up into a heated ball and roll into the shade.

Forget knitting.  The thought of any yarn running through my sweaty hands makes me shudder (but not in any helpful way that could cool me off…)

But I have a solution for those of you who are able to get away for a short break in August – a trip to ICELAND for some fine, fine knitting and sight seeing!

It’s been medically proven* that after making reservations for a cool vacation the average body temperature will lower 2-7 degrees.  Seriously!**

So while most of the US waits for the heat to pass (except for those lucky soles going to Sock Summit – you know who you are!) and the rest of us are left to stew in our own juices, this just may be the perfect time to sign up for my Iceland Adventure so you can take full advantage of the medical benefits of booking a trip to a cool destination!***

* It hasn’t been medically proven.
** No, not seriously.
*** There are no medical benefits, not that I know of.

Finish Line

The face of determination. (Pay no attention to the not yet blocked sweater...)

I finished it.

I’m off right now to bike over to DHL, I’ve written up the pattern and sent it (plus the charts) to the magazine, and I shall celebrate by:

  1. Stopping by my lovely local library, which has a new (to me) book waiting!
  2. Ordering some lovely gf green beans
  3. Taking a lovely bike ride
  4. Starting the NEXT project for a new (to me) lovely magazine in Australia
  5. Finally working up my lovely taxes (oy – headslap)

Lovely day.

Making The Move

I’m making the move over to my new classrooms, the ones I’ve been setting up, and I’m filled with so much excitement and – well – a bit of fear, too!

I’ve been on a self-guided full-out Word Press & Plug Ins “course”, and it’s been very exciting!

Two of my classrooms are all set to go – How To Knit Free and Lace Bootcamp.  I’m moving the other classes over in phases, but from this point on all new HTK and LBC students will be sent over to the new classrooms at the new website.

And the new website is…

(or you can also get there by typing in uknitversity – just a funny thing I did – I grab domains when I think of them, sometimes…)

You can go and register, look around, and even sign up for classes.  I’m still handing the fulfillment manually (I’m sending the invitation to the classroom emails myself) because I’m still trying to get that part to go very smoothly.

But for all intents and purposes, the NEW classroom will have the same functionality as the ning classrooms.

There aren’t as many bells and whistles, and I’ve made an conscious decision to not have the discussion forums, but I DO have a Question page for the site where you can post a question and I’ll answer it.

So take a stroll through the class, register if you’d like (it’s free!) and let me know what you think!

…and now you know why I’ve been so quiet – I’ve been working.  Really!

It’s My Party!

And I am NOT crying today! I’m 49.

It’s a lovey day (a bit overcast and cool, but that’s what I love) and our neighbors are tearing down the skanky old fence and putting up a new one, so life is VERY good today!

Roses, a beautiful mug, some green glass earrings and other cool stuff was waiting for me downstairs this morning.  I fixed breakfast, set aside warm-up-ables for the sleeping family and chatted online with the the tour organizer for my Italian adventure.

Cow Escapes From Kemp Bug

I feel very disconnected.  Not quite, “If it’s Tuesday it must be St. Paul…” disconnected, but almost.

Somehow I acquired a few odd things in my suitcase (a remote control from a friend’s TV, an adaptor, other stuff) so I’ve been mailing those items back to people along with some book orders.  And, for whatever reason, my book orders have increased so dramatically that I have to do another printing of Confessions, a mixed blessing (happy to have the sales, hard to come up with the up-front print costs!)

Mulberry Silk Lace

I’ve just finished a sweater for The Knitter that may become one of my favorite pieces of all time.  I designed it about 3 years ago, and have had it in my “ideaas” folder since then.  An opportunity to submit it came up, and I was thrilled that it was accepted.  It’s worked up in Louisa Harding Mulberry Silk, which has become one of my favorite yarns in the working of this.

It’s a ribbed cardigan with a lace collar and sleeves, which also feature short row shaping.  Although the SR shaping is worked in lace, I kept the motif very simple so that my head wouldn’t explode.  When the short rows are finished, the lace blooms into a more complex motif, which – I must say – was a very satisfying knit!

I can’t post photos of the completed garment as it’s not been published yet, but here’s a detail shot.  LOVE the Mulberry Silk!


I’m so excited, and yet so – subdued – about this trip.

I have had a love affair with Italian history since I first read I, Claudius by Robert Graves in the early 80’s.  Most recently I listened to a wonderful biography of Joanna I of Naples, and of course I love the whole Masters Of Rome series by Colleen McCullough.  It’s so much fun it’s almost a guilty pleasure!

I’ve not been to Italy for over 20 years – and I’ve NEVER been as far south as Rome.  I’ve been to Florence a few times, but that’s it (that’s PLENTY!) To be able to go with a group of knitters, several of whom I know and just love, and to be able to share knitting tips and tricks and new patterns with them is going to be pure joy!

I think any hesitancy is because I just haven’t been home so much lately.  When I can get a workshop type of teaching assignment, it works out much better for me financially.  It’s also easier, physically, to arrive some place and stay PUT for a few days while I teach, I can recover more quickly than when I travel from yarn shop to yarn shop on an extended trip.

So instead of taking on any single engagements this year, I’ve only done multi-class workshop type of events.  The fact that three of these trips are happening in rapid succession (Scotland, Italy and Knitters Day Out in Harrisburg, PA) is just the luck of the draw.

State Fair

Sheep & Lambs

The family took the city bus to the state fair this week – we picked the BEST day to do it, too!  Sunny, cool, beautiful, and we had a blast!

We took along a friend’s daughter who is a favorite with both Max and Hannah, and let the three of them run loose and ride as many rides as they could.  Gerry and I strolled around, watched the baby animals meet the world, and just acted like old farts.

Baked Goodies - But Not For Me

Then we met for lunch, we split up again, and I found myself a nice sunny corner to sit and crochet on a pillow project for a book.  Just sitting at the fair is an adventure – a fellow playing the pipes stood very nearby and I enjoyed his music while I worked some decorative chain embroidery!

Friends are coming up tomorrow and I’m very excited about showing them a bit of Saint Paul!  If they want to go to the fair, though, I think they’ll be on their own – I’m too tired!


It’s been chilly here in St. Paul overnight, and my fibro is flexing it’s muscles.  It makes me aware of how I’ll be affected when the winter really does set in, and makes me very happy that I turned down any winter-time teaching engagements that were sent my way.

I think my next scheduled engagement is next March 4-6 at the WYIF Conference in Virginia (DC Area)  More to come on that as details become firm!

So I’m looking forward to some months of hunkering down, recovering from a 6-week teaching blast, and working on my move-ability.

Once again, Rick’s got my back…

Monday, August 30, 2010 By Rick Levine

Yesterday | Today | Tomorrow

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

You may be feeling a higher level of confidence about yourself and your goals. Even if you doubt your abilities, things should finally begin to turn around. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to reserve your judgment just enough to accept life as it is and other people just as they are. Still, once you choose to take the high road, you gain the gift of a truly empowering vision.

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So damn drunk, so damn happy….

I’m  in Scotland.  SCOTLAND.  FREEDOM!

And I’m a little drunk.  Did I mention I was in SCOTLAND.

Missing Gerry.


Missing the kids.

Miss you Hannah (best daughter EVER!) and Max (AMAZING son) and I wish I was with you.  Wish it so hard that if wishes could come true I’d be in NJ right now.

Today a truck hit me.  I’m fine. You wouldn’t even know from the damage to the car, just a dent in the side panel, but there it is.

I take out American Express insurance when I travel, now we’ll see how it REALLY flies.  Just fine, I’m sure.

Sweet jaysus in the manger, I’m ready for some good news.

SO I arrived at Di Gilpin’s after driving through every inch of fyfe and now I’m a little – ahem – happy with the cider.  It IS gluten free, you know.  Life is good.

And cider is good.

And I am good.

And I am hoping that my insurance is good.

And the weekend was good.

And I’d like to be in a fetal position until I see Gerry again on Friday.

And then it will ALL be good.  I miss my guy.

Why is it when you’re a little – ahem – happy – even being a trifle ill can be a religious experience?  Who knows.  I’m not there yet.

What the world needs is more drunk blogging. Mark my words.  Did I mention the spider?  I named him Bruce.

BTW – here’s what I bought Max today

And here’s what I’m listening to right now

Stupid Hot on Memory Lane

NYC from the Martha Stewart Offices

What a day.  What a great, hot, steamy, crowded, busy, head-achy, memory-lane-strolling day this has been.

New Shoes for the Event

I’m in New York.  I’m sitting in my friend’s apartment – the SAME apartment she had after we left college (we were briefly college roommates.) And let me tell you, I have spent MANY happy hours in this apartment!

So odd – so wonderful – to be here.  The blisters from my new shoes are NOT so wonderful.

When I moved to New York in 1982, it was into the Upper West Side.  I loved it here, I lived here for many years, then I moved to Texas for a year and when I returned I had been priced out of the UWS.  So it was Brooklyn for me  – which I also grew to love – but I never forgot how strongly affected I’d been by living on the Upper West Side.

New Hair for the Event (I forgot to take the photo until I’d washed off my makeup!)

My friend is kindly allowing me to stay in her apartment, even though her family’s away this weekend, and I’m very grateful.  So I was able to add an overnight layover to my flight to Scotland so I could be in town for the Martha Stewart Blogger event – coordinated to be attend-able by many of the bloggers from Blog Her 2010.

I used to work for Martha Stewart Living [Omnimedia] and it was with more than a little apprehension that I boldly accepted the invitation to the event (I’m still trying to figure out how my invitation slid under the radar…)

But I was interested – I was curious – and it seemed the planets were in alignment for me to come.  So I said yes!  And, well, I was also flattered.

Arriving not-too-fashionably late, the lobby of the MSLO* offices were crowded with bloggers eyeing each other in a ‘should-I-know-you way.

It was hot and stuffy, and the idea of lining up in a snaking mass for a party compelled a few folks to leave.  But I had nothing better to do – and as hot as the lobby was, it was much hotter outside!

Do you have a glitter palette?

Finally it was time for my section of the line to troop into the little elevator and head up to the party.  There we waited in another line, a shorter one, but an AIR CONDITIONED line.  Hooray!

Walking through the offices to the party room I passed the video editing department – what memories – and many of the crafting areas.

It really WAS fun working at MSLO, between the tears.

MSLO Party Time!

I was pregnant for a good part of my tenure (hormones, anyone?), and I was a BIG pregnant woman (It didn’t help that while I looked like I was having twins another pregnant co-worker, more in keeping with the MSLO aesthetic, looked as though she’d simply had a big lunch.)

So my sense of loving my job was mixed with the bittersweet feeling that I just never quite 100% fit into the seven-sisters size six swans who filled the hallways.  But that was 12 years ago.

Today was the fête, and it was set up as a series of stations where bloggers could learn about new MS products or services with which she’s affiliated while circulating, chatting and drinking.

Oh, Kay!

Immediately upon receiving my first glass of champagne, I ran into Caro (she took my picture!) and we chatted.  How nice to see a friendly face right off the bat!

I wandered into the main party room and who should I see but Kay Gardiner! We’re having breakfast tomorrow, I’m SO looking forward to a chance for a nice, long chin wag!

It was flattering that several folks knew who I was, seemed happy to see / meet me and some had some really lovely stories about designs of mine they’d worked up.  It was totally unexpected, but balm for the soul.

And for almost the first time since going gluten free, I was SORELY tempted by the cakes, pies, pizzas and s’mores that were flowing like champagne.  But, as long as there WAS champagne (and spiked watermelon on a stick, and some green savory cocktail) I was a happy woman.


I wandered over to Lucinda Scala Quinn’s table to chat up her very attractive sons (and to scam a scraper – and a T shirt!) and we immediately bonded when I let slip that I’m from St. Paul.  (And not just St Paul, but Crocus Hill where the wonderful store, COOKS, can be found.  I bike past it every time I go to Yoga!)

Apparently when Lucinda had a recent signing of her book, Mad Hungry, at Cooks, it was a delightful event and she and her sons fell in love with St Paul.  Obviously I’m sympathetic to that sentiment – it was a brief visit to St. Paul that ended with our family moving there – it’s an easy place to fall in love with!

I ran into Hannah Millman, the soul of so MANY wonderful projects from Martha’s books, shows and magazine.  She was happy to see me, I was thrilled to see her, and I was able to give her a copy of Twist & Loop (I brought it just HOPING I’d see her as she would really GET all of the wire work in the book!) Mission accomplished!

I love parties, I love to be silly and chat with folks and make them laugh.  I love to drink, I love to have fun, and this was so much more fun than I’d expected it to be! I’m afraid I was just drunk happy enough to totally forget the names of two lovely women I spoke with from MSLO, both of whom I gave books!  Shout out, ladies, I’d love to keep in touch!

A very odd sort of coincidence happened when I wandered over to Mara Zepeda’s table where she was calligraphing – that’s the word she used, ‘Can I calligraph a card for you?’ – special dates for folks.

It was the third of September, a day I’ll always remember…

The woman ahead of me asked that September 3rd, her birthday, be written on her card.  I said, “Oh, that’s my birthday, too!”

And how bizarre when we learned that not only did we share a birthday, but we were born in the same year!  Very cool – very unusual!

On the way out I was chatting with a very tall fellow who looked familiar to me.  It ended up that I didn’t know him, however one of his best friends is a very talented designer [Tracy Christensen] I remember so fondly from grad school – very small world!


Jeff has been writing an interesting blog – sort of a MSLO twist on Julie & Julia – and I look forward to reading the archives!

And that’s the kind of day it’s been.  Pretty great.

I got home and poured out the goody bags.  Lots of little stuff, ads, discount coupons, but enough cool stuff to make me feel a little giddy.  I will leave most of it for my kind hostess – I hope she likes Miracle Whip…

I’m losing steam as I write this – evidently a bit too much champagne – and at 11:00 I’m ready to call it a night.  I’m such a lightweight – this would have been getting started time when last I was a guest in this apartment.

*Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

What I’ve Learned

Mistakes are inevitable, as we are humans.  I ask in my class if there are any deities who signed up, and usually I hear, “No…” Then I explain that as there are no deities in the room, I fully expect mistakes to be made.

Whether we wallow in them, use them to beat ourselves up, or learn from mistakes is our choice.  Making that choice allows us to grow as human beings.  It allows us consider our missteps as ‘lessons’ more than mere ‘mistakes’.

I’m still feeling my way though this Fibromyalgia adventure, and I have a feeling I’ll be doing that for – well – probably for a very long time!  The main difference between someone like me having fibro and someone who hasn’t create a platform (blog) for themselves is that I make my mistakes, learn my lessons, I do it publicly.

Since my full-out flare up that started this past October 2009, through my official diagnosis at Christmas and my surge of increased physicality following an increased intake of Vitamin D3 in early 2010, I’ve been blogging about my fibro stuff as well as my knitting, my family, and – yes – my politics!  (I see them all together – all different parts of me especially with this last battle over health care delivery.)


Atticus takes Max for a walk

Road Trip

Ever since we moved here to Minnesota Gerry’s been talking about going to see Mt. Rushmore.  After all, it’s only in the next state, right? Intellectually, we knew how far it was, but I think Gerry was kidding himself. 

(My first hint of this was when he thought we’d drive out on Wednesday, see the prez’s, and drive back on Thursday.  Yeah, right…)

I knew we’d be gone at least 2 days, I knew it would be a lot of driving and that I’d be doing a bit more than half of it.  I also knew this would be a chance to compare my current health during a long car trip to my former long-car-trip health.

Kids in a Cave

Our first day’s drive was long, long, long – and Gerry did the whole thing.  I tried to knit, but my mind wandered and my shoulders hurt horribly.

When we arrived in Keystone, SD, it began snowing and I felt incredibly achey, just dismal, low, physically unable to think clearly.

Lesson: I can’t sit still for long periods of time without suffering all over aches.

On Friday there was quite a bit of snow on the ground, more coming down, and all of our spirits were a bit low.  We stopped by Mt. Rushmore, but we couldn’t see a thing.

After all those hours in the car, this was a definite low point.

Max identifying tracks.

He works hard for the badge.

But we rallied and headed off to Jewel Cave, took a short tour and Max earned his Jr. Ranger patch and pin. This was a red letter moment for all of us!  Great thanks to Ranger Dave who helped Max (and gave us our tour) – he was a mensch!

I was the designated driver from this part on.  I have more experience on snowy hills, and I could tell that Gerry was having his own exhaustion and pain demons plaguing him.

Posing for our own monument.

Back to Mt. Rushmore for a really beautiful, sun-filled (and snowy) view of the Presidents. 

As the snow melted it looked as though they were weeping.

We were duly blown away by the sheer size and skill it took to create such an endeavor.

If you’d asked me before Saturday if I thought carving 4 men on a mountain was silly, I may have said, “Yes, sort of…” Now I would say, “NO!”

Lesson: Seeing things in person is important to a full understanding, the long trip is part of the comprehension.

I found it very moving, and I still can’t quite tell you why.  It just was.

I’m so glad Gerry proposed that we go.  But I’ve seldom felt so tired in body and mind – and I hadn’t DONE anything physically, not anything very strenuous!

Lesson: I need a certain amount of physical (aerobic) exercise every day to keep my mind clear and to keep my body functioning.  The last thing I felt like was exercising, but I needed it.

Little Jack's Mother?

Coming Home

No Cobs Here!

Our breakfast at Fanny Horner’s (this is for my UK fans, enjoy!) was excellent, the Corn Palace was corny (bizarre to see a Segue portrayed in ears of corn…)

And I have proof that there are NOT old cobs in the restrooms!

[Forehead slap] If ONLY we’d stopped on the way TO Mt. Rushmore we would have had no need to drive all that way!

Corn Rushmore

Mt. Cornmore

Our last stop was De Smet to experience a bit of Larry Winston Ingall (as Hannah kept calling her) Unfortunately, it was too early in the year so – it being Easter Saturday – everything was closed up as tight as a barrel of salt pork.  Summer hours don’t start until May.

As a Jewish family from New Jersey, we’re still not quite used to the whole counter-culture that thrived on the East Coast whenever there was a major Christian holiday.  It feels odd to me when EVERYTHING is closed on Easter, but it’s also kind of nice.

Finally back home, driving straight from DeSmet to the Twin Cities.  Every mile it seemed that our surroundings grew greener, more beautiful.

Lots of wind in Minnesota

Back in Minnesota

My pain made me stop every hour or so just to get out of the car and walk around, take a picture, get gas, just stand up.

We were VERY happy to pull into our own alley, good to be home!

I was a wreck, physically, though.  I felt like I had the worst flu, I felt confused and sad and in pain.  I went to bed, Gerry made dinner and the kids were wonderful (Max was recovering from his own sore throat, too)

Lesson: Even a very small infection can grab me hard and shake me until I cry UNCLE.

Today I continued my resting, sitting in the sun and working on patterns.  When I felt up to it I went for a bike ride, about 3 miles, and immediately felt much, much better.  Better than I had in days.

Lesson: I NEED to find a bike to ride whilst we’re in Ireland.

So those are my lessons from this trip.  All in all it was a grand experience, the lessons were very good.

I realized as I was riding around that my experience was, in small part, similar to TR’s discovery of his better health when HE traveled out to the Dakota Badlands and grew into a rougher, healthier man.

As I rode around St. Paul this afternoon, I felt like a hardier woman.  Bully!