Bike Summer Games

Okay, you’d think after my wild ride on Friday (and the subsequent Day O’Pain that I experienced yesterday) I’d have put the riding behind me for a while, but no such luck.

I’m off today to take advantage of the 70’s temps & the lovely breeze (thank you, Minnesota, for returning to your usual Summer weather sanity after the madness of last week…)

My bike at Como Park

I’ll try to ride out the kinks.  I swear, a day without riding and my joints get very testy.

And, on top of that, I had some DELICIOUS risotto from Trader Joe’s yesterday that Hannah was making for herself and Max, but unfortunately it contained wheat and I was laid LOW all evening with my flu-like fibro flare up.  Damn.  It doesn’t take much.

But back to the biking!

One biking website I like quite is bit is Let’s Go Ride A Bike (LGRAB) and, although I haven’t participated before, I’m going to participate in the LGRAB Summer Bike Games!

It’s pretty easy, and not physically challenging at all, something I can do without breaking a sweat.  Although, let’s face it, this summer you can’t do ANYTHING without breaking a sweat!

Here are the 10 events, completion of at least 4 is required to qualify.

  1. on vacation? rent a bike and go for a ride!
  2. write a letter advocating for bicycling infrastructure (bike lanes, bike rack, etc) to your alderman/council representative, mayor, or a local business.
  3. take a picture of something along your commute that says “summer” to you, and explain why
  4. commute to work by bike or bike/transit if you don’t already
  5. perform a maintenance task on your bike
  6. explore a greenway or bike path in your city that you haven’t previously visited
  7. test ride a different type of bike than you normally ride (road bike, mountain bike, etc.)
  8. read a book about cycling
  9. ride your bike somewhere new in your city
  10. go on a group ride

The only hard part is that I have to do the 4 between 2 set dates (7/22 and 8/4)  I’ve done most of these already, but now I guess I’ll re-do some of them!

Today I’m going to accomplish several criteria:

  • ride to someplace NEW (#9 – Como Park),
  • do some minor maintenance work on my bike (#5 – fix my broken basket)
  • explore a greenway that’s new (#6 Como Transitway to Mpls)
  • take a picture (#3 – my camera is ready!)

…and in so doing I’m going to get myself BACK to a pain free place.  I am. Really.  I promise.

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.

Rain & Pain & Knitting Gain!

So far my teaching trip’s been great – a bit of an adventure in small ways, but overall REALLY wonderful!

My classes at Riverwools went beautifully.  It’s a great shop, incredibly well stocked, with ample parking and a nice cafe down the street.  Definitely trip-worthy for folks living around Terre Haute!  They made me feel SO welcome, so loved, and it was an excellent start for my first driving-teaching trip in over a year!

I taught a private class that my cousin (a newer knitter – I taught her a few years ago) set up.  We topped it off at 12 students, and that was just about right!  The students were SO good, so gifted, and an incredibly kind woman (and astounding knitter) allowed us to use her home for the classes. 

WHAT a beautiful great-room she has, what a lovely house!  It was one of the nicer locations I’ve taught a class, that’s for sure!  HUGE thanks to Peggy for the use of her home, Mary Ann for setting up the classes and Laurel for helping to make it happen!

My next class is in Canton, OH at the Stark County Library on June 13.  It’s been filling up pretty steadily and there are just a few spaces left.  You can register here if you like:

Stark County Library, Perry Branch
5710 12th St NW Canton, OH 44708
6/13/11   1pm
Combination Knitting Class $30
Add to Cart

I’m also doing a free lecture at the library and I’ll be signing books and selling some if folks want to purchase them.  I’ll be happy to sign anything though (so bring me your Nicky Epstein books and I’ll forge her name!)


The centerpiece of my trip is the annual TNNA convention in Columbus.  It’s a chance for me to touch base with other folks in the industry, see what’s happening and just keep the necessary connections working smoothly.

I’m not teaching here, which may be a blessing given my current joint situation, but I HAVE just heard from Interweave that they’ve added yet ANOTHER set of my classes to the Knitting Lab event in San Mateo in November.

Apparently I’m selling out (who knew?) so you’d probably better
sign up sooner rather than later if you want to be in one of my classes!

It’s wet here – raining pretty darned hard in Columbus – and like a barometer my knees and shoulders are giving me a pretty explicit weather report.

Barely visible GF shrimp, pesto & tomato pizza. YUM!

Last night I took a 3 mile ride after an AMAZING dinner at Marcellas (my favorite restaurant here as it’s not only a beautiful, well run Italian restaurant close to the hotel, they also have a GLUTEN FREE menu!)

My destination was Goodale Park, where life is good.


Ms. Annie's Wild Ride, via Daily Mile

I was ostensibly looking for tonic water (my roommate brought gin, which is why I love her…) and I found it at the United Dairy Farmers.  But I became so carried away with the warm, fragrant evening and rode in silly circles with my headlight flashing and a dopey grin on my face.

The ice cream I bought almost melted because I rode so long.  A slow, fun ride!

Folks were walking, hugging, kissing, playing music and kids were swinging all over the park.  What a fabulous evening to be free and mobile in Columbus!  I won’t be riding today, though, until/unless the rain stops, and I shall miss it.

Damn you, fibromyalgia!  You’ve won one round, but I shall win the match!

Fortunately, my hotel room is right across the hall from the whirlpool / exercise center so I can go ride a stationary bike and take a hot dip to help the joint pain.  Wet heat is an amazingly helpful thing for this pain!

From a purely disinterested perspective, the link between the weather and my join pain is  fascinating.  I sound like every older person in my family I’d listen to during weather storms as I was growing up.  “M’back is botherin’ me, I haven’t taken m’pill yet!”

It’s uncanny how I can sound EXACTLY like my Aunt Wanda on days like this.

I’m at the Hampton Inn across from the Columbus Convention Center, where TNNA will be taking place over the next few days.  I’m not teaching (given my joint angst that’s a mercy!) but I should be helping with the Stith Coop/Coop Press booth set up.  But I’m not.  Wah, wah wah…

It took a while to get the internet working, it’s finally working today and I’m afraid I’m not the general manager’s favorite person.

Dang.  Well, that’s a shame.

But I’m online now and finally able to return emails and get some work done!  I’m heading over with Mrs. Mannequin soon, and I’ll take some nice photos from the convention (where I’m allowed…) and report on great new yarns that are arriving and any subtle currents of design evolution as I wander from booth to booth.

I only wish I could ride my bike on the TNNA convention floor!

2×4 Masquerading as a Weekend

I haven’t done a full post on the fibro for a while, and that’s because it’s been pretty well controlled with all the stuff I’ve cataloged here in the past (Vit D3, gluten free diet, regular exercise)

But every now and then it just rears up and whacks me on the back of the head with a metaphysical 2×4.  Or maybe it’s a real one, I can’t really see back there.

I was looking forward to this weekend for quite a while – it’s Yarnover weekend here in MN, and StevenB was having his Fiber Frenzy celebration so I knew a lot of folks would be in town.  My friend London was also selling some of her yarns and candles at Craftstravaganza over at the state fairgrounds (right next to the Bike Expo!) and there were recycling compost bins to be picked up.  A rich and full weekend.

I’ve been biking a LOT – trying to average 6 miles a day by getting in 18 or so miles during this blustery spring, when it seems that 2 or 3 days go by with out a chance to ride.  When I finish a long ride I feel tired, but also very energized – and I can feel all of my body aches subside as I ride.  My bike, the advil.

But after teaching at Steven’s on Thursday (a REALLY great class filled with truly gifted students!) and schmoozing briefly with folks, I just felt insanely tired.  I know this feeling – a special weak-in-the-bones kind of tiredness, so I crossed my fingers that it wasn’t what I thought and hopped on my bike to ride home.

But it was.  Yesterday was rainy, windy, cold and my body reacted accordingly.  It’s harder for me, these cold days after a few days of warmth.  It’s as if my physical self is just so PO’d at the weather that it will take it out by having a fibromyalgia flare up.  There, I guess I showed ME.

I’ve learned not to make a lot of plans, especially ones that involve meeting a lot of people when THEY have schedules that have to be coordinated, too.  So I’d kept to myself and hadn’t reached out to most of my friends who were going to be in town this weekend for the Yarnover.  Perhaps this was a premonition.

At any rate, I missed seeing just about everyone from Yarnover because I was moving pretty slow.  And I feel so bummed about it.  I stand at my window and wave as the planes fly out of MSP – goodbye Cheryl, Clara, Jared, Melissa, Lily, Merike, Cat – goodbye everyone!

2 Lovely New Friends

I did help London out at the expo, but mostly from a sitting position, and THAT wore me out for the day. It was so much fun, though, to meet great knitters (this beautiful mom knew that she knew me, so I helped her figure out how…)

Later in the day I popped in for a very brief “Helloo!” over at Steven’s to see Nicky Epstein (who I adore) and Mary-Heather & Sarah from Ravelry (who I also adore), and I was absolutely knackered.

Today I have to bow out of seeing Nicky again – and I’m very sad.  I’ve already had one nap today and I could probably take another before anyone missed it.

I’m sure I could drag my sorry butt into the PT cruiser and drive over, but I think I’d be unfit company (and a tiny red battery would appear on my forehead denoting a need for a recharge.)

So apologies to Nicky and Steven (who hosted some AMAZINGLY wonderful get togethers and classes this weekend!) but I’m here, stuck in my chair, waiting for the bagel my daughter’s toasting for me (a gluten FREE bagel!) and hoping the sun will come out as promised by The Weather Channel at 6pm.

At least I can get other work done while I’m sitting here – I made a great start on a lace entrelac poncho, and I’m finishing up a cotton lace project for Knitting Today.  In this respect I’m VERY lucky.

Cooling Down

I may be the only human being in Minnesota who’s too hot today.  I’ve been sitting all day with the window open, I swear if I went outside I’d melt the new snow off the sidewalk.

I have fever, baby!

This is something that comes on sometimes, now I understand that it’s part of the fibro, but for the longest time I just figured I had malaria.  Mid afternoon or so I start to get very hot, and by 7pm you could fry an egg on my shoulders.  Which sounds oddly cooling and delicious to me right now.

So today’s been my ‘sending out my email newsletter’ day, paying the mortgage day, and just tying up loose ends day.

Spencer & A Birdcage

Jane Austen…

This past week I sent in my submissions for Jane Austen Knits, a special edition of Interweave Knits.

You can probably imagine how excited I am to see this issue!  I’m even more excited and hopeful that I’ll get a piece into it, I’m crossing my fingers.  After all, this is my great love, this knitting-in-a-historical-style thing, and I’ve enjoyed creating these submissions more than should be allowed.

Over Christmas I signed us up for Netflix and I’ve watched EVERY period drama on my computer as I work through these designs.  Very inspiring!

I’ve also been using pinterest to keep track of the research for this project (and several others) and have found it to be a VERY exciting way to easily keep track of great visuals I find online.

More Designing!

Staying home, not teaching so much, has been good for the design and writing end of my workload.  I’m swatching a lot more, getting more sedentary work done and feeling good about where HoTN is right now.  That’ll last for a few days, at least

Max with a Bagel & Talit!

And I’m slowly moving my website,, to a wordpress powered site.  It will be glitchy for a while as I work the kinks out, but ultimately it will be better looking and easier to update.  Finally I’ll update my portfolio, and get some things done that have been hanging over my head for a while.

One pattern I’d like to get up soon is the very simple one for Max’s Tallit & Kipot which I made for his Bar mitzvah.  I’d love to get that up in the next week or so, we’ll see how that goes!

More Teaching?

I’d like to teach more, though.  Right now I’m very glad that I’ve decided not to teach or travel in the winter months, but I need to begin setting up some engagements for the Summer.  If you know of a group or shop who would like to host me, please let me know!  I get my best leads from folks who read my blog or have taken a class with me.

I’m toying with the idea of having a small knitting retreat over Labor Day, my 50th birthday, here in MN.  I’m working out the plan to see if it’s feasible, but if it is it would be stellar!  I can move easily in the warm September, and I’d be close to home (yay!)  I’ll keep details posted on my blog and website about this, it’s mostly a matter of finding a location that will work well for a wonderful teaching & learning experience.

Imperial Ranch Poncho 1

Imperial Ranch Poncho

More Online…

I’m preparing two classes to start in March, Knitting Millinery and New Directions In Color.

Both classes will be self guided – meaning the students can move at their own pace and I’ll be available for one-0n-one chats as the students need them.  I’ve found this has been the best setup for the classes, as so many folks couldn’t make the group chats and then felt awkward about asking me for a private chat.

And some folks just don’t need the chat – they love working on their own, finding their way through the material, which is just great!  Whatever works best for any given student is what works best for me!

There’s been an amazing response to my Imperial Plaid Poncho, which I will use in my new Online Colorwork Class to demonstrate some unusual but inspiring techniques to get anyone comfortable with working with several different colors of yarn.  Aside from acquiring the pattern from the Imperial Yarn Company, this will be the only chance folks will have to get this pattern until I’m allowed to sell it next Christmas.

Here Comes The Sun

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)

The Lunar Eclipse activates your 10th House of Status, emphasizing the important role that you’re being called on to play at this time. Your life may feel fated now, as if something very significant is happening. Your fame and fortune could undergo a sudden change, but your ultimate success depends more on how you handle a tricky situation than what actually occurs.

Okay, I’ll try to be ready for that tricky situation.  Today we’re going to try to go sledding!

On Sunday Max went skiing with friends while Hannah went sledding with friends.  I took Atticus out for a long, beautiful, white walk and Gerry shoveled the deck.  Winter wonderland!

This is NOT Minnesota

I’m feeling the lack of sun more this year than any other year.  I’ve heard that as folks grow older the whole missing-the-sun thing can become more intense (hence the move of so many folks to ‘sun valley’) in retirement.

The everyday aches and pains of Fibro had been pretty well under control until about 2 weeks ago (when I ate some wheat in a feeble protest against the world, that’ll teach ’em!)

But slowly I’ve been coming back to life, getting out and walking as much as I can, doing yoga, stretching, and I’m grateful for any day that I can get out and move or get physical work done in the house.  Huzzah!

Keepin' it small

But today is the SOLSTICE!  The sun will stay around a bit longer, the days will grow, and I will feel more like a human being!

A friend told me this weekend that the days actually start lengthening a few days before the solstice, which made me very happy.  I don’t know whether that’s the reason, whether it’s the fact that Christmas is 4 days away (our small tree is once again in our window seat) or whether it’s my daily Vit D3, walk & adherence to non gluten, but I’m feeling much more like my old self right now.  YAY!

Max & Kathleen Kayak at Lake Ida

I get up pretty early, before the sun is up.  As the light comes into the house, as the sun rises, I can feel my spirits lift and my soul grow.

I hate to say this, because I love being here in Minnesota so much, but it’s definitely hard late in the afternoons when the light just shuts off like a switch has been flipped.

Proud Maxie keep on Shovelin'

Of course, the flip side is that during the Summer the light just goes on and on and on, which is quite wonderful!

Getting to the Summer – or to the Spring when I can ride my bike around again – is the hard part.  In the mean time, I have it on good authority that my big gift is a cycling trainer so I can ride my bike on our enclosed porch and dream of warmer days!

I’m beginning to regret that I’ve not been looking for teaching engagements this Winter – especially ones in the SOUTH.

This is a VERY good sign.  I actually WANT to have some new teaching engagements, and it’s December.

At this time last year I was fearful that I wouldn’t be able to keep the three gigs I’d agreed to over the Summer, but here I am a year later – in the dead of winter – wishing I’d set up more engagements!

Maybe I actually AM learning to manage this fibro thing?

A Holiday Whine – Fa la wa wa wa

I’m tired, and I feel guilty.  Wa, wa, wa.

I feel as though I’m replaying last year’s adventure, but this time with a bit more mobility (yay!) but perhaps more exhaustion than I felt last December?

I’ve not been blogging as I should because I know that I’d just sound like a high pitched whine – Wa, wa, wa – and we all know that THAT’S no fun.  Well, it’s fun for me, but not for you.  Wa, wa, wa.

When I whine write about my health I feel very boring – and I know this is true because every now and then someone drops me a line telling me how boring I have become, how no one will read my blog because all I do is whine write about my health and talk politics (and I’m a hack designer, too.) 

Each of these are true at various times, but not all at once, thank heavens.

Welcome to my world, folks.  Wa, wa, wa.

I think I’d become too – hopeful? – this past Summer.  Or maybe I’d been trying very hard to forget exactly how ill I was last year.  When the cold set in and I found myself unable to move easily this Fall, I felt exceptionally depressed.

Last year I was confused by the fibromyalgia.  This year I’m scared by the fibro.  Maybe next year I’ll be resigned to it?  One thing I know is I’ll never just ‘accept’ it, I’ll keep trying to do as much as I can.

But doing “as much as I can” just doesn’t seem like it’s enough many days.  Wa, wa, wa.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m MUCH better than I was this time last December.  The vitamin D3 and non-wheat diet (plus cutting down on sugar) have made a HUGE difference in my life and my mobility.  I’m even able to get out and walk, do some shoveling, get some housework done – and life is good!  I’m 40 pounds lighter than I was this time last year, and that’s not a bad thing.

But the exhaustion comes back and hits me HARD.  Then the muscle pain in my shoulders and around my knees sideswipes me and leaves me gasping.  Oh, have I mentioned my weather-induced asthma? Wa, wa, wa.

I think a lot my feeling of depression IS the lack of sunlight, maybe that’s why I feel so great in mid-day or mornings, but as soon as the sun sets I flag.  And perhaps that’s why I felt so great all Summer – well, relatively great.  And I have been using my lamp, which helps. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a light ROOM where Minnesotans could go stand for an hour? Jeeze, louise, I love living here so much – except for 3 months of the year.

Winter Bikin

I miss my biking.  I biked right up to the first snow in Nov (and beyond) but I just can’t get out in the residuals of our recent blizzard.

I’ve asked for (and I know I’m receiving) a cycling trainer for Christmas, so once I get that set up on the front porch I’ll be able to do an hour or so of biking every day to see if that keeps me more mobile and energized.

I’ve also received a lovely and amazing book, Relax & Renew by Judith Lasater, from my friend Miriam Felton (if you like knitting lace and you haven’t worked up one of her patterns you are MISSING OUT my friends!) with yoga moves for folks who suffer from chronic pain and exhaustion issues, even some that can be done in bed.

I haven’t read the whole book yet, but I’m looking forward to doing some of the moves and feeling a good stretch.  I’m thrilled to see curtailed versions of some of the poses I most enjoy, but have been unable to do because my flexibility and mobility are limited.

I’m ashamed to admit I spend a good part of my day in bed.  Not only is the light good here, but it’s warm and I seem more able to get brain work done.  And the pets cuddle with me, it’s a nice place to be. And it’s great for knitting!

But I do get myself downstairs for at least a few hours every day – I try to cook a meal, do some cleaning, get SOMETHING done besides the knitting and designing.

So here’s what my horoscope says today, and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 By Rick Levine

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)
You may feel a bit uncomfortable today if everything appears to be flowing along easily, because you don’t trust the current wave of optimism. You are worried that you’re missing something important, and this is a likely possibility. A little self-restraint early in the day could bring a more solid boost later — one you can truly rely on. Remember, controlled growth assures sustainable stability.

Excellent Book!

Because I seem to have so much more more energy early in the day (before all my muscles begin aching and my ears are filled with a high pitched ringing so loud I can’t even hear the TV – wa wa wa) I’ll be devoting this morning to grading a pattern for a BIG faux-cabled pullover for Interweave Knits using one of the best books I own – Knitting In The Old Way by Priscilla Gibson Roberts.

I love this book.  If you’re a serious knitter and don’t have it, you should.  If you know a serious knitter who doesn’t have the book, make their year and give it to them.

I am a self taught knitter, but when I read this book I almost feel as if I have the knitting pedigree I’ve always missed.  And Priss’s percentage system for grading a yoked sweater creates an amazing fit – I love it!

After my brain is fried with the numbers this morning, I’ll settle in to knit the above mentioned faux-cable, and enjoy a fine audio book.  I’ve already completed one of my 4-due-on-Jan-3 projects yesterday (tada!) and received yarn for the last project, so I have my work cut out for me!

I promise my next blog post will be more informational – or at least more fun to read!  Fa la la wa wa!

Working on that Positive Attitude thing…

(Aug 23 – Sep 22)
You’ve made some important choices recently, but now you may see new options that weren’t available before. You could become increasingly frustrated if you believe that you made a bad decision. However, you have an opportunity today to make additional changes, even if that means temporarily complicating your life. Remember, your situation can change quickly again; don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re stuck with what you have when your attitude can actually create a positive impact.

I’m hoping the above is true – I need to work on my attitude right about now, and this is a good reminder that in many ways we create our own [mental] reality.

I’m blue today – I learned yesterday morning that I didn’t get a job which I felt I had a really good shot at.  Apparently they prefer not to hire folks who end sentences in prepositions.

Seriously, though, they went with someone who has more recently been part of a corporate landscape – I’m all maverick-y.  I am who I am.

So, as I told a friend during the whole process (and I was pretty mum about it), “I’ve done the best job I can do at presenting myself honestly and positively – I can do no more.”

I had to do a few ‘assignments’ for my potential employers so they could judge my work (hence the ‘password protected’ blog posts this week) but I guess my work just didn’t measure up to what they wanted.

It’s hard to be rejected.  When you’re self employed as a designer, you spend a lot of time getting rejection notes.  Even if you’re successful, there’s a lot of rejection.

It does get easier – but the initial smack is always hard.

This has happened a few times recently – this job rejection thing.  Obviously I’m not alone – it’s a cold, cold world out there for job seekers.

"Debil" Grain

So I held a pity party for myself yesterday and drowned my sorrows in a piece (O N E small piece) of poppy seed lemon cake at Caribou Coffee (it was delicious, by the way – NOTHING takes the place of wheat flour), and I’ve been suffering with a serious flare up ever since.

I’m an idiot.  And I’d been SO careful during Thanksgiving – SO careful 99% of the time ALL the time!

Maybe I was acting out my largest fear, which is that I’d actually GET one of these jobs I’m applying for and then have a major flare up – unable to walk or move or do much more than sit stiffly in my bed (can’t even knit when I’m really bad…)

Or maybe my not-so-innocent fall into the fibro hole was how I thumb my nose at – who, exactly? Me? The imaginary person I’ve created in my mind who stands there shaking her head (it’s always a woman) at me, telling me that if I really tried I could get a “real” job?

So now I get back on the horse and continue working away. The irony of this is that I just finished 2 projects and I have 3 more waiting on my hook and needles, so I’m as busy as I can be right now…

“Real” job, indeed.

New Stuff

I’d dedicated a lot of time to the stuff I worked up for my interviews, so I didn’t get my two new classes finished by December (as was my goal!) but I’ll keep working on them and maybe I’ll have them up sooner rather than later.

I’m working on a millinery and a colorwork class, and also trying to figure how to offer a group of classes on DVD for folks who’d like to own the techniques.  (of course I’ll keep you posted – don’t I always…?)

Who’s Chicken?

Hen Hat

If you receive my newsletter you got the chicken hat pattern.

And here’s a link to the pdf pattern for my blog readers.

Yes, I know it’s absurd, and it mixes knit with crochet, and I’m sure there’s some religious objection to the whole man-as-chicken thing.

But it’s a pattern that makes me laugh, I worked it up just for fun (and if you’re in the UK and can get Laughing Hens Rooster Yarn then you know how nice the yarn is.)

Of course, this will work up nicely in just about any worsted weight yarn with a bit of elasticity – it’s a friggin’ hat!  Use some red/brown hand painted to work up a nice Rhode Island Red!  Just avoid eating chicken while wearing the hat.

So enjoy the chicken hat – maybe I’ll see a few out there?

A Few Days Off

I woke up so much in pain today – still getting over my flight(s) from Harrisburg, my teaching (lots of fun, but LOTS of students) and just – life.

Burrito Kitty

Farewell Shiloh

As I was laying in bed, feeling rather sorry for myself (oh, poor me…) the phone rang.  A kind woman had found our cat, Shiloh, laying in the grass by the sidewalk at Lexington and Lincoln, panting and in bad shape.  He wasn’t visibly hurt, he just seemed – odd.

So she read his tag and called us.  By the time we ran there, he was gone.  Hit by a car?  We don’t know.  RIP, Shiloh.

We haven’t let Nitro (our newest cat) outside since we got her last year, and we won’t be letting any other cats out until we move away from Lexington. It’s just too busy of a street.

Shiloh was, however, the type of cat who would rip out any screen to GET outside if we didn’t let him go. It’s that perpetual dilemma – a long boring life, or a shorter life filled with cat fun.

So I’m going to take a few days off before October.  I’m in tremendous pain (the recent trip really did me in – the teaching was good, but HARD, and the travel portion was even HARDER) and I just need to readjust my brain a bit.  And grieve for poor shiloh.

My Weekend

Knitters Day Out was filled with many, many enthusiastic knitters!

I was up at 5 am on Friday to fly to Harrisburg, arrived in time to drive to the hotel, take a short dip in the warm indoor pool, and teach that evening.

There was a heat wave in the area (91 degrees!), and the classroom was rather warm.  That always makes a class a little slow moving, and the fact it was a Friday evening just added to some of the brain fuzz we ALL feel by week’s end.

I taught all day on Saturday (36 people in my morning class, 17 in my afternoon) and was WIPED OUT by 5pm.

The 36 person class had been a mistake – the limit was supposed to be 15, but unfortunately something had happened and before anyone knew it there were 36 women in my Twisted Float Shrug class.

I do have some classes that I can teach to larger groups, and this class went pretty well all things considered, but it’s also one of my harder classes.

Midpoint through the class I realized there was NO way that everyone was going to get what they paid for – an understanding of how to make the Cocoon Shrug – so I offered the folks in the class an opportunity to take my Self Guided Twisted Float Shrug Class online.

I was glad to have that option – it allowed everyone to breathe a little easier, and allowed me to take some questions in class and spend more time on some of the hands-on techniques in the class.

After my classes I had dinner with some very kind knitters who treated me to wonderful food at a great Italian restaurant.  I feel like I must have been the WORST company in the world – I was so tired I could barely hold my fork, let alone keep up a conversation!

And, perhaps because I was tired, I ordered the wrong thing.

I’d looked up the restaurant menu and selected a chicken dish that was prepared with no gluten.  When the waitress arrived I ordered – the wrong thing.  And didn’t even realize it until I got back to my hotel room (feeling a bit achey and flu-ish) and reread the online menu.  I’d ordered the Chicken Picata, and yes, it does have flour.  Oy.  My own fault.  Next time I’ll tattoo the correct dish only my thumb.

I was just glad the next day wasn’t a teaching day – Sunday was only a travel day.  Yes, that “only” is a little bit sarcastic.

Originally the KDO folks wanted me to fly home on Saturday evening after my last class, but the timing and flights just didn’t work out (9 hour layover in Chicago, anyone?) AND the flight was $200 cheaper if I stayed over on Saturday.

Even though it was only 8:00pm when I got back to the hotel, I was tired and knew if I didn’t take advantage of the coming “sleep wave” I would be up all night with the pain  So I crawled into bed and immediately fell asleep.

Until the phone rang.

It was the KDO payment person, she needed my social security number.  I’d emailed my invoice earlier in the day, and my SS number was on my invoice, but apparently it was necessary that she have my SS number right at that minute, at 9pm on Saturday night.

It was probably because I was awakened from sleep and in pain, but the woman’s tone was so brusque – I’m sure it was because I was in an over sensitive place.  Damn you, delicious chicken and sauce dish.

Not Lonely in Mechanicsburg!

Sleep came very slowly, and the pain was so intense, that by midnight that every time I moved or rolled over I was fully awake.  Around 3am I brushed my hand over my shoulder and was totally skeeved out to find a few beetles (I’ve sinced learned they’re stink bugs) having a party on my bed.  Ick.

No more sleep for me.  They were all over the ceiling, the inside of the window and on my bed.  AND they flew.  Ick.

I took a hot shower, watched TV, then went out to find breakfast at 7am. I arrived at the airport very early – I was sort of hoping to get on an earlier flight if I could.

I guess I should have guessed that I’d be pulled out of the security line for special attention, and I was in so much fibro pain by that point that when the very kind female TSA officer began to run her hands [gently] over me in a pat-down, it felt like I were being bruised.

Lonely Harrisburgh International Airport

Lonely Harrisburg Int'l Airport

Folks with fibro know how painful it is to get a hug or handshake from someone during a flare up – any touch on a sensitivity point feels like a punch during ‘normal’ pain levels.

I was in full flare up mode by this time, EVERYTHING hurt.

I explained to the TSA officer that I had fibro, and a good amout of pain.  She kindly asked if I’d rather do the search privately. Yes I would. That way I can cry and NOT scare the children in line.

After that I needed a drink – but the bar wasn’t allowed to serve until 11 am so I waited.  At 11 on the dot the kind server brought me a G&T, and life was good.  With free wifi and a G&T, I was in airport heaven!

Flying Over PA

At the gate, though, I was bumped from the flight and put on the next flight leaving not for Cleveland, but for Newark.

At Newark I took the shuttle to a different terminal, and waited 3 hours for my flight to MN. Moving bags on and off a shuttle bus is highly underrated as a workout, and I personally feel it should be part of the London Olympics.

I feel very sorry for the woman sitting next to me on the last flight – I was so twitchy and squirmy – there was NO way to sit in that seat that wasn’t pure pain.

When the next Inquisition comes around, they will use Continental seat 17C as one of their instruments of torture.  Just sayin’

Okay, here’s how bad it was.  During a flare up my back and shoulders begin to hurt so badly that wearing a bra is insanely painful.  But – let’s face it – bras are usually considered necessary in polite society.

Well, part of my squirming around was that partial disrobing trick that all women are familiar with – the “I’m taking off my bra but you can’t tell, la la la la la, look over there…” dance. 

Did I mention it was a sports bra?  That poor, poor woman in 17B. Yes, I was bra-free in seat 17C.  Make a country song out of that if you dare.

I let just about everyone get off the plane ahead of me – why on EARTH should I hold them up as I hobble down the aisle?  I clutched my Namaste bag to my chest (it doubles as a faux external bra) and hobbled to the baggage claim, where Gerry and Hannah had already grabbed my luggage and we all went home.  I crawled into the back seat and rocked like a baby.

So how was your weekend?

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.