Darkness, meet Dawn

2015-04-16 12.01.56

On Set In Loveland, CO March 2015

Hey Folks!

I’m writing the post that I’d been hesitating to write for over a year. [deep breath]

It’s been a pretty hard 14-month period, but also an amazingly great period. A dull twilight punctuated with glimmers of pure white starlight, and dark moments, too.

The Good

Andy gets a tattoo!

Andy gets a tattoo!

The family’s healthy—for the most part— we have a home, heat, food, running water and as much love as any family could need! I have exceptional friends, excellent work, beautiful yarns to dye and sell and one of the best business partners I could ask for.

The kids are beautiful and thriving, Andy’s doing well in her 2nd year at Earlham, Max is applying to various colleges (c’mon Hampshire!)

The Bad

Max Gerry Gustavus Tour

Max, Gerry & Jasper on a College Tour

Gerry’s health, which has fluctuated between very good and scary bad since his initial diagnosis with Multiple Myeloma in 2007, has been on a bit of a downswing. We’ve experienced worse, and as we experience the loss of friends with this disease on a regular basis we realize how fortunate we are, but it’s a constant mental and emotional burden.  But our dealing-with-ongoing-chronic/terminal-illness muscles have been honed, and we generally have a pretty good attitude about it.

I can honestly STILL say that the lessons that cancer has taught all of us—mostly about ourselves and our love—are worth learning.

The Embarrassingly Bad

In November 2014 I tried to kill myself, and I’m still dealing with the fallout.

I wasn’t depressed (well, no more than usual, like my father and many other members of my family, I suffer from depression and treat it with prozac, eating well and exercise)

I WAS, however, on a drug that caused me to behave in a way that was absolutely foreign to me.

Lyrica Blues

In August 2014 I was diagnosed with Shingles, and it was a bad case. The pain was overwhelming, causing me to be in and out of the ER several times. As part of my recovery, I was offered Gabapentine.  Having used it before for Fibromyalgia, I knew it did little more for me than make me dopey.

So then I was offered Lyrica, and the difference it made in my pain was outstanding. Not just the shingles, but my fibro pain as well. It was as if Annie from 5 years ago was back and I felt like a million bucks. Until I didn’t.

One evening, after a VERY silly and unimportant argument with Gerry (seriously, we argue as every couple does, this was NOT a big one, just silly…) I found myself sitting in the living room with a fully bottle Gerry’s pain medication that I’d picked up from the drug store that day, and without really knowing what I was doing, I poured a big handfull out and swallowed it.

It was surreal. It was almost an out-of-body experience. I still can’t quite believe that I did it. It was almost as if I were watching a movie of someone doing what I was doing.

Gerry was upstairs, the kids were out of the house, and something in my brain just said, “Hey, take a bunch of those pills why don’t you…?” So I did.

I told Gerry immediately. He didn’t understand at first, but when he got it, we were off to the hospital.

And here’s where it got interesting.

This guy would like a walk, too!

Help with dyeing

I expected to be questioned pretty thoroughly, perhaps admitted to a psych ward or something (the only thing I have to go on with this are Lifetime movies.)

But when I explained to the nurse admitting me that I was on Lyrica, and I had NO idea what happened, I just suddenly had 30 strong painkillers traveling down my throat.

And her response? “Oh, Lyrica. Yeah. We see that a lot.”

I was sent to an exam room where a doctor and nurse came in to give me charcoal to drink (I chugged two bottles in record time, good to see my college education paying off) and, when I explained to them what had happened, they replied in unison, “Oh, Lyrica, yeah. We see that a lot.”

They didn’t even have a social worker come to talk to me, they chatted, and on my promise to see my primary care doc the next day, I was released.

The next morning I did see my doc, we worked on a schedule to taper myself off of Lyrica, and I also saw a therapist for a few months.

Since Then

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

Pure Happiness; Gerry, Jasper & My Bike

I had never had such a strong urge to do myself harm before that night, and I haven’t had an urge like that since. Amen.

The fact that I DID have that urge is frightening; obviously there was something inside of me that felt entirely overwhelmed and full of despair. But it was the Lyrica that crystallized those feelings, that made them solid and compelled me to act on them.

I haven’t discussed this with the world in general (until now – hi world!)  My good friends, family and some of my customers have known, though. I’ve had several folks come forward to tell me they’ve had the SAME experience with Lyrica.

I’m not saying that Lyrica should be banned, but I do think that it can be a very dangerous drug, I’m proof of that. The entire time I’ve had Fibromyalgia I’ve worked hard to deal with that ongoing pain with diet changes and lots of exercise.  My instincts in this were more right than I could know, I’ll continue in this vein as long as I can.

Why Now?

So why am I telling the world this story now? I’m not entirely sure.

I feel as though there’s been a dark cloud on the horizon since this episode in Nov 2014. As much as I tried to fight through it, I would wake in the early morning hours gripped with terror (unreasonable fears; financial ruin, Gerry’s demise, something happening to the kids, etc.) and it’s been a long road coming back from the fear surrounding this episode.

Sunset, Ft. Myers Beach

Ft. Myers Beach Escape, Feb 2015

It’s just been in the past few weeks that I feel I’m finally passing out of this dark phase. I knew it would happen, I knew the light would shine again and I’d feel more like my best self. But it’s been a lengthy process of dealing with guilt for the fear I caused Gerry, anger at myself, and fear that I’d broken something that couldn’t be fixed.

But light is filtering through again. Many folks have written to ask why I’m not blogging as much, how come I’m not on Facebook as much as I used to be; this is the answer.

Last year I talked about my experience in front of a Multiple Myeloma group leaders at a conference . Lyrica is a drug that is commonly used within the MM community as shingles is often seen among these patients.

After I’d heard Lyrica praised over and over at the conference (and it IS a remarkable pain med!)  I wanted folks to hear from someone who had personally experienced the, “may cause suicidal thoughts or actions” warning first hand.

ModeKnit Yarn Cables

Thank Heaven for Knitting

As many of you know, I’m no shrinking violet and can speak in front of a room, but this was a terrifying experience; admitting that I’d done something so stupid and potentially harmful to my family. But I feel it was an important thing to do, and heard later from someone who’d had a similar experience in the group but had never talked about it.

So now you know.

I’d like to say, “Now let’s just forget this ever happened, and go back to life as it used to be!” and I’m trying to do that as much as I can. But I’ve stood on the cliff, I kicked a stone off and in an almost trance-like state, I followed it over. But I caught a branch on the way down and didn’t go splat.

ModeKnit Yarn_A Lovely Thing

A Lovely Thing, “My Year In A Colorway”

The reality of this experience had darkened everything I did for months.

I’ve been adding touches of black to many of our ModeKnit colors (which works well in many cases) but finally I feel as though I’m able to see many colors as they really are, pure and bright.

As much as I understand that there will be periods of light and dark in the future, I’m feeling more hopeful about moving forward than I have in – well – 14 months. Thanks for sticking with me.

MKY_all_the_colors

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!)

Feeble is a State of Mind

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 8.23.02 PMYesterday ModeKnit Yarn was at the Fall Fiber Fest, and we had an exceptional time!

MKY's new TIme Lord Gradients. This set is Call Box Blue.

MKY’s new TIme Lord Gradients. This set is Call Box Blue.

Sonic Green Gradient Set

Sonic Green Gradient Set

This is a lovely MN-centric fiber show in Hopkins, at the Eisenhower Center, and I just love it! We visited last year as customers (and came away with some beautiful yarn and books!) but this year we applied and were accepted as vendors, YAY!

And I was exhausted. Worn out, hurting, totally wrung out. But I tried to own it, I accepted that it was because I’d spent two long days in the dye room, and worked hard not to see my physical weakness as an indication on my worth.

Sometimes it takes a few days to bring my energy levels back to normal. Mentally, this admission is great progress for me.

Kathleen and I have centered this year of our business on developing our Fiber Show “chops”.  Indy Yarn Dyers have a few options to grow their business; some choose to focus on wholesale to yarn shops, some choose to focus on online sales, some do clubs and some do fiber shows.

In truth, just about everyone does a combination of these, and we’re no exception.

kathleen_annie_station_wagonBut I’d be lying if I said that Kathleen and I don’t enjoy the Yarn Festivals a bit more than the other segments of our business. I think the reason is twofold: it allows us to personally interact with our customers, which both of us love SO much! And it allows Kathleen and I to spend time together, and at the heart of our business is the fact that we ARE good friends. So we love the festivals! And we love a road trip!

This was a local show, which meant that Kathleen leapt out of bed before 4am, packed up her truck, then zoomed over to my house to pick me up and we were over to the venue by a bit after seven am. Where she got the energy, I don’t know! I was dragging my sorry tail all day! Thank heaven lovely Karen Ryan showed up and helped us set up our booth, she was an angel!

2015-11-09 15.36.58The two days leading up to the festival I’d been dying a HUGE amount of yarn (40+ skeins a day) so I understand my exhaustion, but I still felt a trifle guilty sitting in the booth most of the time (perhaps the guilt was because I cadged the chair from the knitting guild? Don’t tell them…)

I was given pain pills when I first was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but I’ve really struggled NOT to take them. As a matter of fact, I still have the same bottle I was given several years ago (probably time to get that refilled) because I generally only take them on high pain days – which tend to be Festival days – like yesterday! And allow me to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the relief for a few hours.

Because the weather’s been so mild this November, I’ve been able to ride my bike a nice amount each day, and that’s really helped with my pain. When I think of where I was a year ago (still fighting shingles) I feel like the luckiest person alive!

BRAHMIN MOTH SHAWL

Brahmin Moth

Brahmin Moth

I just released a new pattern, one that I’m REALLY excited about! I love working garter mitered squares, so when I was inspired by the beautiful Brahmin (or “Owl”) Moth, I thought mitering was the way to go!

The design has had three major iterations, there’s been a LOT of knitting to get to the final version of this shawl.  I had samples knit in two additional colorways, the final garment should take approx 100g of each of three colors in fingering weight yarn. Of course, I feel our ModeWerk Fingering is the most beautiful yarn you could use!

Brahmin Moth in Pearl, Drogon & Darryl Dixon

Brahmin Moth in Pearl, Drogon & Darryl Dixon

The pattern’s been tech edited, and it’s up for sale at Ravelry and over at ModeKnit Yarn. One caveat to mention is that the final “V” shape that joins the two ‘wings’ is slightly different in the final pattern than it appears in two of the samples.*

Over at ModeKnit Yarn we have a kit ready for you to order, just let us know what three colors you’d like to use, and well put them together for you!

(*I altered the original text so that no Color B is used in that part, which could raise the amount of Color B required over 100g)

The Things We Swatch For Love

My favorite swatch this time around.

A Weeks Work

A Weeks Work

The last few times I’ve come up against a submission deadline* I have told myself, “NEXT time, you’re going to take time to do it right – you’re going to do what you used to do, swatch and sketch and love what you’re doing!”

I’d fallen into a bad habit of only submitting one or two things (when I submitted at all) because I’ve been so overwhelmed with work at  ModeKnit Yarn, and the teaching I’ve ramped up this year.

But there’s a deadline looming for submissions on Monday, and this time I’ve taken the better part of a week to try to get it right!

Unblocked HorrorNot that I didn’t do anything else this week (I did a buttload of skeining, a lot of dyeing, some fabric knitting and a few strategy sessions to plan the growth of our biz – slow and steady – not too fast to handle!)

But I set aside dedicated time each day for just sitting and THINKING. Designing. Playing with yarn and NOT berating myself for ripping anything out.

I’m trying not to judge myself too harshly. I’m trying to take my own advice.

Bobbles & Texture!For me, the hard part about this submission deadline is that it’s for several magazines at one go, and it seems that each one wants me to submit an individual sketch ONLY to that mag (even though they’re all under the same publication umbrella.)  It’s so hard for me to figure out which sketch would speak to which description in the different “Calls for Submission.”

I’d love to find a way to let ALL of the editors see all of my stuff, so they could decide which speaks to then.

Garter Rectangular Jacket in Fall Interweave Knits

Garter Rectangular Jacket, Fall Interweave Knit.Purl Mag

Maybe I’ll just Dropbox them and give all the editors the link?

I hate the thought that Sketch 1 might be perfect for Editor A, but I send it instead to Editor B (who doesn’t find it as appealing as I’d hope…)

At any rate, I was flattered and gratified to see one of my current designs featured in one of the submission calls! It’s a garment I really loved designing and knitting up, if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s the Garter Rectangular Jacket in the current Fall 2015 Interweave Knit.Purl magazine.

Tomorrow I head off for a weekend of crafting with some women friends, something I don’t do often (which I should do more!)  I’ve promised to ONLY work on non-business knitting or sewing all weekend.  Let’s see if I can stick to that!

*Magazines send out a call for submission, where they explain the stories they’re looking to create in the specific issue. They discuss color, silhouette, and also general ethereal qualities like mood, feeling and atmosphere. If I feel inspired by some of the images or text, I’ll work up a swatch (generally – but not always – I begin with a swatch)  If I like the swatch, I’ll try to figure out how to use it in a garment. Or sometimes I work exactly opposite, and start with a silhouette, a period garment or a color scheme.

Moving More, Eating – well, just about the same…

fat bike signWhen Andy (née Hannah) was a baby the Rosie O’Donnell Show was one of our favorite mommy-baby morning routines.  One year she promoted a campaign to “Move More, Eat Less” and it was a good thing for a lot of moms like me, with new babies and brand new areas where fat had appeared.

I’ve never been thin, but I’ve been thinner.  Actually, there was one time in 1984 when I was a size 10 for about 32 minutes, but that is long gone.  Amazing, though, how many pieces of clothing one can buy in a 32 minute time period…

I’ve always fought my weight. I’ve dieted, not-dieted, starved, binged, exercised like a dervish, sat on the sofa for weeks on end (my “Gilbert Grape period”) and, although I have to admit there were differences in weight, nothing was permanent.

At this point in my life I’m not expecting to every be thin, but I’ve been striving for the past 5 years to be HEALTHY.  My benchmark is to be able to ride my bike for 7 miles a day. This seems to be the magic mileage that allows me to have good movement and reduce the Fibromyalgia pain, and it’s very doable.

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

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

If you’re someone who doesn’t ride a bike, you might think that 7 miles sounds like a lot. It’s not – really! I worked up to it. I remember when riding 2 miles to my son’s baseball game was a challenge! But it only took about 2 months of daily riding for 7 miles to feel like a walk in the park.

And, since bike riding is seven times more efficient than walking, it IS like a one-mile walk in the park!

I’m fortunate that I live in an area where biking is encouraged. Our city & state government here in St. Paul, MN, is behind directives to promote ALL kinds of physical movement. We have an excellent ‘nice ride’ bike share program, and our bike paths, share-ways and greenways are legendary! Yeah, riding in the winter can be cold, but once you’re well covered (hands & faces are the most important) then a winter ride is really VERY nice! Just watch out for that ice!

However, since starting ModeKnit Yarns with my partner, Kathleen Pascuzzi, I haven’t made the time to get out and ride as much as I used to.

I get overwhelmed with the amount of physical work involved in dyeing hundreds of skeins of yarn, and I talk myself into believing I don’t have the time for cycling. Add to that my inability to get my Xolaire shots for 3 months this Summer (Damn you, Health Partners!) and there was a huge period where riding my bike was NOT as accessible as it had been before.

Spessartine Flow

But I’ve made a promise to myself that I will increase my cycling (and I’m back on the Xolaire…)

Being on my bike makes me happy (ENDORPHINS!) and it really does help decrease the amount of muscle and nerve pain that haunts me on a daily basis. It’s non weight-bearing, so I can bike without wrenching my knee

(Damn you, high school basketball!)

Now I just have to keep convincing myself that the hour-a-day I take from my busy schedule is WELL worth the time. It’s really true – when you run a business, it’s very hard to take time for YOU!

A Bolero Sketch from History On Two Needles (based on a Tissot Painting)

A Bolero Sketch from History On Two Needles

So it’s Submission Season, which means a lot of swatching, sketching, and a whole bunch of thinking. As much as I feel guilty when I take time from the dyeing biz (see above) I know that getting a good submission pack together is important for several reasons;

  • I need to stay visible and pertinent as a designer
  • I enjoy the income from designing (Damn you, mortgage!)
  • When I’m permitted by the magazine to use ModeKnit Yarn, it’s a great editorial benefit to our company.

Win, win, win!

But, like the cycling, I need to take time out to actually DO the knitting, swatching, etc. It’s so easy to just put my head down and work, work, work; endlessly dyeing,  skeining and updating the website. But if I don’t put in the non-dyeing time, the business ultimately suffers.

Who knew that at age 54 I would be able to learn so many lessons about using my time wisely!

I’m Shorter.

The last time I went to my doctor and was measured, I was a full inch shorter than the last time.  ONE INCH! This was a different doctor’s office, and I’m certain there are some discrepancies in how hard the nurse pushes down that little metal arm on top of my head to get the reading, but an inch is a LOT!

So it’s not so much that I’ve gained weight this year, as that I’ve lost height. And it shows! Clothes seem to fit differently, my own ‘personal space’ just feels different.

It’s frustrating as I’ve been eating pretty intelligently this year (although never enough leafy greens, always working on that!) but I haven’t been cycling as much as I have in the past.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.48.09 AMOr maybe I have.

I just made a chart of my total miles per month (I’ve been keeping track of all these numbers via Daily Mile since 2010) and it looks like my cycling has actually INCREASED in the past few years.

Wow.  I guess I am cycling a lot.  Those 4 and 7 mile rides really add up!

That doesn’t change the fact that clothes are fitting weirdly (not tight, just weird) so I have NO idea what’s going on…  It’s so odd when a portion of your personality’s been based on being tall, and suddenly it seems you’re one of the short ones in the room!

Well, regardless, I’m off for a long bike ride today. I’ve earned it, damnit, and I deserve it!

Brahmin MothYesterday I did something I haven’t done in months, I biked over to St. Kates and sat on the porch, knitting.

I’m finishing up a sample garment that we’ll be releasing in December, a scarf (shawl?) I’ve based on the beautiful Brahmin Moth.

I’ll reveal the images later, but it’s one of the nicest things I think I’ve ever designed.  I’m really excited about it, as soon as it’s tech edited I’ll have some folks test knit it, then I’ll release it!

Cuckoo Wasp

Cuckoo Wasp

I often get inspiration for colors from insects, they’re so beautiful! While looking through a bunch of moth and butterfly images I ran across this amazing moth, and knew I had to create a garment that reflected the stunning contrast and tone gradations.

I’m terrified of wasps, but one of the most beautiful creatures on earth is the Cuckoo Wasp, which was the basis for one of our colorways in our FLOW club last year.

I was so excited to find this baby online (and NOT in my house) and it was thrilling to be able to match the colors in yarn!

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn

Cuckoo Wasp Yarn in ModeWerk Fingering

Here’s some of the Cuckoo Wasp yarn already dyed, ready to be rolled into balls.  I knit all the fabric up, then dye it (so I can place the long-color gradients) and then roll it into balls.

Yes, it’s labor intensive, but it’s worth it for the beautiful FLOW effect!

I’d be interested in hearing from you what color inspirations you see in your life!  Please add a link in comments to an animal, landscape, food, book – anything that gives you a ‘color shiver!’

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…

Two Weeks of Marathon (no, IRONWOMAN!)

Oy, what a two weeks I’ve had!  Perhaps the hardest two weeks in my professional career, and also the most satisfying!

The Pascuzzi-Mobile, Ready To Roll!

The Pascuzzi-Mobile, Ready To Roll!

First, this was preceded by a few months of hard graft; one show after another, one teaching gig after another, personal trips that don’t bear mentioning (but were a bit fraught) and LOTS of yarn dyeing.

The two weeks started with the final touches of readying yarns for Interweave Yarn Fest, last minute dyeing and skein making.  Work, work, and more glorious work!

Then the drive out to Colorado.  I love driving, I was thrilled to drive out. It’s something I do well, and I really enjoy the feeling of the wheels on the pavement. I think it’s my own type of meditation.

Wire Knitting While Waiting For ZZ Top To Fix Our Flat

Wire Knitting While Waiting For ZZ Top To Fix Our Flat

But it is a bit tiring, that long, hard focus. Especially across the high plains – lots of trucks, lots of tumbleweeds, and almost an entirely uphill drive.

Once in Colorado the shift to upper altitude didn’t kick in immediately, which was great because my first day there Kathleen, the other half of ModeKnit Yarns, and I had to set up our booth in the Yarn Fest Marketplace.

The following day Kathleen womanned the booth while I taped two classes for Interweave Craft Daily.

Interweave's AV Guys

Interweave’s AV Guys

It’s always a lot of fun to work with the IK video crew, they’re sensational guys!

A morning off, which was necessary because by now the altitude had caught up with me and I needed some reset and hydration, then full-on teaching for four very full classes, LOTS of selling in the marketplace, and general fun with other yarn folks!

2015-04-16 12.01.56We tore down the booth on Saturday night, packed up, and after teaching one last class on Sunday morning we started our drive back to MN.  I drove, because I love it, and we were home in St. Paul by Monday afternoon.  Huzzah!

I slept for half a day, much needed, then Tues, Wed & Thurs were dyeing days.

Yarn Fest was sensational – we sold out of several of our yarns (we returned with only FOUR balls of ModeSock Flow!) so I was trying to fill up our yarn coffers before the wonderful Minnesota Knitting Guild’s yearly event, Yarn Over!

Yarn Over has a very special place in my heart.  It was at Yarn Over in 2006 that I began to hatch my plan to move my family out here to MN. It’s a move I’ve never regretted, and I feel I owe a great deal to Minnesota (including my husband’s continued health – thank you Mayo Clinic!)

The kids have thrived here, life is very good for families here, and I think all of us felt less pressure to live up to a certain perfection of appearance and lifestyle we may have felt in NJ (which we also love!)

Today was Yarn Over, and once again it didn’t disappoint!

Mini Skein Sets

Mini Skein Sets

What an amazing gathering of fiber and yarn loving folks, crossing all skill levels, ages and genders. And we sold out of several of our yarns again. We return home with all of our 221B and Dragon Dances miniskeins sold out, with just a few of our Caledonian Colors, Knitting Dead and Midwife Speaking left.  And a TON of orders to fill in the next few weeks.  This kind of busy I’ll take any day!

This feels amazing.

2014-10-25 13.11.17We have had good fiber shows in the past year (ModeKnit Yarn’s first fiber show was actually 2014 Yarn Over) but these last two weeks have exceeded all our expectations. SO much work, and SO much reward!

THANK YOU to all of our customers, to everyone who took the time to stop by our booth (even if you just looked or commented!) and THANK YOU to the staffs of Yarn Fest and Yarn Over. Your own hard work is GREATLY appreciated by this fledgling yarn dyeing company – we’re very grateful!

March Madness

This has been the busiest late Winter of my life, the craziest March so far, and I’m not seeing any signs that Spring will be any less of a Payday bar than the rest of the year (payday = nutty? Get it?)

Entrelac On A Bike

Entrelac In My Blue Tulip Bike Pannier Bag

I’m tired. Mentally I’m tired, and physically I’m just now catching up on rest I missed in January and February.

I can sometimes ‘create’ energy for myself by exercising wisely. For me that means Yoga (when I can get my sorry butt into downward facing dog) or cycling (which I’ve been able to do quite a bit this week – YAY for a warm spell in MN!)

I’ve learned, though, that with an energy-draining condition like fibromyalgia it is difficult to catch up on rest and impossible to store it up for hard times ahead. I can only try to build up my stamina. Ride, fat girl, ride!

However, the excellent thing about working on one’s own business is that hours are fluid. Except for scheduled events like teaching engagements and fiber shows (of which I’ve had many this Winter) I can choose to rest when I need to, and work when my body is rested.

This works well for me as far as dyeing goes – I get up early and dye while I have physical strength.  Then as the day passes and my body becomes tired, and pain sets in, I withdraw to the most comfortable chair in the house and get ‘paperwork’ – computer stuff, pattern writing, emails, etc. – done.

The work I do is hard, physically and mentally, but I’m so fortunate that I’m able to compartmentalize it and work on each piece with the best part of my working self.

The Nut of an Idea

The Nut of an Idea

Right now I’m working on two new online classes for Interweave Press, Knitting With Wire and Charted Entrelac. They’re two of my favorite classes, two techniques that I return to over and over when I just want to unwind with some FUN knitting, and I’m excited to be able to offer them as online classes.

This means, however, a butt load (technical term) of previously unplanned work before Yarn Fest in Colorado April 14-16 (we’ll be recording the classes the day before Yarn Fest opens)

Step Outs for Entrelac

Step Outs for Entrelac, worked in ModeWerk Bulky

There is a lot of planning, writing scripts, and working up “Step Outs” (step by step samples of the project to be covered in the class)

I enjoy this kind of work. It’s perfect for a Virgo, a chance to try to organize what could be a chaotic TV shoot into comprehensible steps.

Today is devoted to step outs and script writing and physical resting.

Tomorrow, the world!

Williamsburg Peace

I’m sitting in bed in a beautiful room in Colonial Williamsburg, the sun streaming through the shutters and limning the rocking chairs on my balcony with a morning glow.  It’s glorious, and I’m very grateful to be here!

This weekend I taught at a brand new retreat, History Unwound, and it was one of the nicest teaching experiences I’ve had in a career of lovely teaching engagements.

Starting a retreat from scratch is one of the hardest things for a knit person to do. Kimberly Villareal (Somebunnyslove on Ravelry) put this together with the help of her husband, Chris, various helpers and volunteers (primary among them Trish – ElizabethsMommy on Ravelry)

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One of Donna D’s beautiful mittens from her upcoming book on Lithuanian Knitting Traditions.

I admire Kimberly’s ability to have a vision, make a plan, and find a way to make it happen. She acquired sponsors, found folks to supply and create goody bags, went after some excellent teachers and lecturers. She presented an amazing array for her guests!

I felt so flattered to be teaching alongside Anna Zilboorg, Franklin Habit and Donna Druchunas, three knitting ‘greats’, as well as Rohn Strong, Beth Smith and Sharon Hilgers, three folks I did NOT get enough time with!  I swear, Rohn MUST be related to me somehow, he is the spit and image of many of my cousins, a red-headed version of my late brother!)

The retreat was exactly what one should be – a chance for folks to gather, take classes, shop for some yarn and fiber related items (I bought a change purse!) and, above all, RELAX and recharge the batteries!

If I felt relaxed and recharged after teaching for 2 days, I can only imagine how good the students must have felt!

I hope this is the first of MANY History Unwound retreats! It’s such an excellent idea, and there are so many interesting historical and fiber related locations where future retreats can be held!

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“See, Apple’s in the slammer, but Little Pear’s got the cabbage to spring Apple (that is, if Officer Donut don’t get too greedy!)”

I would advise anyone who is interested in this type of event to ‘like’ History Unwound on Facebook so you can stay on top of developments for future years.  I feel SO fortunate to know Kimberly, and to have had a chance to be part of this delicious event!

And NOW I get to fly home, to see my favorite place in the world (wherever Gerry is) and to see my daughter! Andy’s home from college for Spring Break, and having both she and Max home is so joyful to me! I’m a lucky, lucky woman!

My flight doesn’t leave until this afternoon, so I’ll be able to do a bit of exploring before I head out.  Or maybe I’ll just find a beautiful location and sit and knit!  Exhaustion has hounded me this Winter, more than it ever has before, and it’s been worrying.

Colonial Annie On A Bike

Colonial Annie On A ‘Hobby Horse’ Bike

I’m certain that it’s partly due to an increased travel schedule.  This marks the 5th long trip in 2 months for teaching or selling yarn. Winter’s are always hard on the Fibromyalgia, but this year all of the travel has doubly sapped my strength.

That’s why I’m so psyched to get home, to get back on my bike again and work out the kinks. Riding my bike really DOES energize me in a way nothing else does.  Immediately after a ride I’m wiped out, but within a day or so, I begin to feel the positive effects on my stamina.

This weekend I had moments when I was absolutely overwhelmed with exhaustion and pain, which is why the opportunity to sleep in today, rest in bed while I write a blog post, and just sit in the sun and knit are moments to be treasured. And I do. I’m a lucky woman.