Remember Me?

I haven’t posted for a while because we have been battling various pressures, none of them terrible alone , but together they create a firm barrier which I’ve been alternatively digging under and leaping over.

It’s curious how we underestimate a smooth, level, unobstructed path, huh?

Various recurring health battles (both for Gerry and myself) have reared their ugly heads, made bolder by the non-Spring weather, which kept me from cycling (which has slowly worn away my health resources.)

Nothing fills all my reservoirs like a good, long bike ride. As a matter of fact I was SO hurting for a ride that I borrowed Ysolda’s prop bike from her TNNA booth and rode around the show floor for 10 minutes.

Not near enough, but it was fun while it lasted. I got the idea when I saw Cat Bordhi doing it, so haul us both off to convention center jail!

Yes, I went to TNNA. I wasn’t going to go. Between Gerry’s returning health issues and my own recurring pain and exhaustion I felt as if it were too much. About Gerry was insistent – he said something to the effect of “if you don’t go to TNNA and have a bad year, design-wise, I will feel responsible.”

I didn’t want to drive alone, I haven’t driven long distances for several years, (not since I took out a construction barrel on a highway in Illinois and scared myself silly) and I wanted to take Max with me. But I didn’t want to leave Gerry home alone, and he was up for the ride!

So we did the drive there over two days, stayed a day at an extended suite type of place (good for everyone!) and while I was at TNNA doing the necessary schmoozing, Gerry and Max slept in, then went to CoSi and had a terrific time (Gerry’s dreamed of taking Max to this great science center for years!)

Hannah (who would like to be called “Andy” for the present) is already up at Menogyn working as an engage for 2 sessions, then late in July she will head out on her 32 day Nor’wester canoe trip up into Canada with 4 other young women. I’m alternately bursting with pride, and terrified for her.

I’ll be teaching a two part lace class at a FABULOUS yarn shop in Stillwater, MN, Darn Knit Anyway!

Lovely Laces: July 17th 6-9 pm and July 27th 10-1pm.
We will cover the basics of lace knitting, charts, and how to go about memorizing a repeating motif to make lace knitting more enjoyable and intuitive. ANYONE CAN KNIT LACE!!

It’s been a crazy busy few months of designing, which I love and which is good work for me as it doesn’t require a lot of movement (I move we’ll many days, but sometimes those unmovable Fibro days coincide with a teaching engagement, and all hell breaks loose…)

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt both so useless, and also as if so much is depending on me. It’s a bad feeling, but there’s really nothing for it but to keep my mind on my work and do my best.

I’ve just finished 16 designs for various magazines and knitting pubs, all places that pay fairly and offer good terms for designers to retain their rights on their designs. Look for my work in Jane Austen Knits, Downton Abbey Knits, Interweave Knits and Interweave Crochet, Twist Collective and in Austrlia in Yarn Mag and in the UK in The Knitter.

I have 6 other designs I’ll have completed by mid-July, also for publications that deal openly and fairly with their contributors, so I’m actually very fortunate, all things considered.


I had a chat with a sister designer at TNNA where I was warned not to “burn my bridges” and I laughed. Some “bridges” are little more than zip lines, they only work in one direction.

Other bridges may be burning, but I didn’t set them on fire, I simply balked at the high toll.

I know I have carved a well deserved reputation for someone who will speak her mind about fair working conditions for hand knit and crochet designers and teachers, and that this has perhaps made me persona non grata with some entities.

There are still publishers who still insist on retention of designers rights after publishing a pattern, will only pay 10% of online pattern sales to a designer (50% should be more like it in my book!) or won’t cover the full hotel and airfare for a teacher at their functions (another designer told me this weekend she makes NO money teaching at TNNA for Offinger, but she does it to get at least part of her airfare covered.)

To me this remains unacceptable.

I think I was a little afraid I’d go to TNNA and begin to regret decisions I’d made to avoid/openly discuss corporations that make money off of the fruit of designers and teachers, yet treat these same designers and teachers as if they’re doing THEM a favor by hiring them.

But, happily and surprisingly, I found myself comfortable with decisions I’ve made, happy to continue to work with old friends and eager to forge new relationships with other yarn companies.

There is room for MANY different opinions in our business. If holding a position outside of the mainstream means I’ve burned a bridge, that might not have been the right path for me, anyway.

Now, off to get a good LONG bike ride in so I can start rebuilding my health and grow my strength for what lies ahead. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if hard work and fair dealing cannot provide me an income in this industry, it may not be right for me. I’m not going to change that by underselling myself or working on the cheap.

Note: if you see odd typos in this post, chalk it up to the fact that my computer has been out of commission for wifi use for 2 weeks, so I’m doing all of my online stuff with my iPad.  This is my first time doing a whole blog post on this tricky, disappearing keyboard!

Shameless Plug

I’m teaching in Columbus Ohio on June 10 & 11, downtown at the Marriott Courtyard
35 W. Spring St, Columbus, OH 43215, map

I’m teaching in conjunction with a group I belong to, the Stitch Coop, and the number & quality of classes is pretty impressive.  All of our classes are spread between June 10 – 13, a whole potpourri!

The sign-ups have a teensy been slower than we’d like, so today we’re launching a

Grand Memorial Day Weekend Discount

If you sign up for ANY of the Stitch Coop Classes over this Memorial Day weekend and use the code “shhh” you’ll get 10% off of all your classes. 

If you know a friend in the Columbus area (or anywhere in Ohio or related environs) please feel free to pass this along!

Combination Knitting
Thursday, June 10, 7pm – 10pm

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Have you ever taken a foreign language and discovered that – suddenly – you understand your OWN language a bit better?  That’s how it feels when you dive into a NEW way of thinking about your knitting!

Many folks have found Combination Knitting* to be an easier, faster and less painful method of creating stitches – and the ribbing will make you kvell!  This class will turn the way you think about your stitches inside out!

*Combo Knitting is a mix of Eastern & Western Knitting, it can be worked with either the Western (Right hand) or Continental (Left hand) yarn hold.

Tips & Tricks
Friday, June 11, 11am – 2pm

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This class is all about shortcuts that make SO much sense I wonder that everyone doesn’t do them!  25 years of knitting heresy have give me a nice bank of unusual ways of binding off, creating embellishments, increasing, cabling, and many more fun techniques.

This class is full of all kinds of groovy tips that can make your knitting more joyful than you’d ever expected.  For many knitters, this is just the class they need to leap forward to a new level and find the intuitive path they’ve been seeking!

Lace Scarf Boot Camp
Friday, June 11, 7pm – 10pm

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Have you felt passed over by the lace explosion?  Do you just feel you’re not “getting it?” when you see your friends creating lovely shawls & scarves?  Do charts make you cringe a little bit?  Allow me to introduce you to the BASIC concepts of lace, charts, directional increases & decreases – all in a way that will have you creating the lace of your dreams in a very short time!

I concentrate on teaching you to interpret, comprehend and MEMORIZE lace motifs (written or charted) so you can make lace the truly intuitive experience it should be!

Making Hay While The Sun Shines!

Next year we upgrade: push mower!

It’s no secret that my health has been – iffy – the past year, especially since October when I tumbled into bed after a looooong teaching trip only to rise as my own self in late January!

So many things seem to be part of this Fibromyalgia experience.

I have memories of meals I enjoyed immensely, only to feel absolutely terrible; ill, achey, feverish, flu-ish a few hours later.

I now realize it was the massive amount of wheat / gluten that I inhaled during those most enjoyable meals.

I think back to a slight case of the cold, or  flu that seemed to expand and explode into a pain filled three week voyage.

I realize now that my immune system doesn’t work the same as it did 5 years ago (or the same as most folk’s immune systems work!) This fibro is VERY clever at exploiting any chink in my health armor to tackle me into submission.

Submit I will not.

When it’s warm and I feel that I can rule the world and save the universe – all from the comfort of my bike seat – I have to dig deep to remember just a few weeks earlier when it was below freezing here and I could barely move.

On a rainy and cold day like today, in the middle of a warm Spring, I feel practically paralyzed with stiffness every time I try to move.  These episodes now make sense to me.

That doesn’t mean I enjoy them any more, but it DOES mean that I know it will end, and I will be able to move again.

Sadly, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that as much as I love cold weather (and I adore it) I usually do a bit better when it’s not clammy & wet & cold all at the same time (like today.)

Our family is NOT contemplating a move – we ADORE Minnesota and we’re doing well here – but it does mean that I need to take advantage of the warmer months for the more physical aspects of my job.

So my own way of making hay – of putting up a harvest to live off of through the Winter – is teaching.


I’m teaching in May (Ireland), June (Columbus), Aug (Scotland) & Sept (Italy).  I’m a little concerned about my ability to swear off of wheat while teaching near Rome, but it must be done or I’ll do precious little teaching.  Maybe I’ll go on a sacrifice pasta bender my final night?  I’ve already sworn off Guinness whilst in Ireland.

However, I’ve scheduled only one engagement per month, quite a reduction from previous Summers.  In recent years I’d teach 2 weekends a month, or go on long trips where I’d do 6 or 7 engagements in two weeks.  That’s not going to be happening any time soon.

I know now that I can’t push it. I will suffer, as will my students.

And that makes me immeasurably sad.  But I must be realistic.  Learning to do what I can do, and to stop doing things that make me sicker, is going to be a long journey.

I can’t stand the thought of being disabled – even partially – or what that would mean to the kids (with their father already out of commission) so I’m working hard to squeeze in enough work during my up times to make both ends come together nicely.


My only scheduled in-person teaching event in the US in 2010 will be in Columbus on June 10 & 11.  The design group I belong to, The Stitch Coop, has rented space at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Columbus, OH, so we can teach to anyone who wants to come and have an awesome time learning new knit techniques!

If you’ll be in or near Columbus and are interested in taking some wonderful classes (not just mine, but so many classes by other SC members!) please check out our offerings and sign up!  We’re limiting the size of the classes, when they’re full, they’re CLOSED!

For folks who sign up for my classes at my website, I can offer you a bit of a discount.  Use the code word “tnna” and you’ll get a cool 10% off of the price per class.

If you know what class(es) you want, you can sign up here.  For more information on my classes, visit and you can sign up there, too!

Combination  Knitting
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Annie Modesitt Tips & Tricks
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Lace Boot Camp
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I hope to see you in Columbus.  (Or, perhaps in Ireland, Scotland or Rome!)


Not to go all Katie Couric on you, but get a Colonoscopy.  Seriously.

Colon Cancer is a terrible disease, but your chances of surviving increase by 90% with proper testing.  If you are in your middle years (the guidelines now say age 50) please get yourself a colonoscopy.

My mother died of this horrible disease (complications of it led to her liver and lung cancer, too, a pretty awful way to pass) and my recent colonoscopy turned up a pre-cancerous flat polyp that was 15mm, pretty large.  It was removed, but I’m supposed to have another test every 3 years.

I shudder to think what would have happened if I had skipped this necessary test (as I considered doing) before my health insurance runs out on July 1.

Duck, Duck, Spruce!

I’ve been trying to get my ducks in a row, using organizational skills to help me re-align my always-too-high expectations of myself.  It’s working, but mentally it’s difficult to re-frame how I view myself.

I realized the other day that I have been having a very hard time remembering what I do from day to day as I knit up pieces.  Work I’ll do on one day will seem like it was done by a stranger when I pull it out the next day. (That may be because I’ve been crocheting instead of knitting…)

Parts is Parts

So my worksheets have become my best friends, I take copious notes of everything that I do (I’m a HUGE fan of the iWorks application, Numbers – I’m a groupie!) and I’m realizing that this may be the best way to work for the time being.

The two projects I’ve been working on lately (a doll for Interweave Crochet and a cute little duster cover in knit AND crochet) have taken me longer than I’d expected due to the constant notation.

I’m one step away from the old guy who writes down every thing that he eats every day.

But both projects are rather small.  Working and re-working them is a good way to ease into a new mindset about my productivity.

I love color

I’m trying to view this as an example that everything is in constant flux.  Nothing is carved in stone – not even STONE

Just ask the Old Man of the Mountain!

It’s not a bad lesson to relearn every now and then.  It’s good for the soul.

My online classes are doing very well – I’m SO happy with the students I’ve had (I’ve been very lucky!) and a recent survey I sent out to former class members is bringing me a lot of great food for thought.

If you’d like to take my classes in April, though, you’ll have to move fast.  This is just a friendly reminder that I won’t be offering the Guided Combo or Handbag class in May or June, so April is your last chance to take either before July. 

The Self Guided class will, of course, be able to carry on without me while I travel to Ireland and Ohio.  Work amongst  yourselves…

I heard today from TNNA that they’ve turned down my teaching proposals.  To be honest, I hadn’t expected they’d take them.

I’ve been pretty outspoken here in the blog (and to the Offinger powers that be) that I feel it’s important to treat knit and crochet instructors as valued members of our industry.  I feel TNNA/TKGA has relied on the love teachers have for our craft to offer them less in compensation/travel & accommodation than the average yarn shop offers.

That, and my classes probably didn’t excite them very much.

All’s well, though, as the design group I belong to, The Stitch Coop, has decided to rent space and teach some alternative classes in Columbus.  These will be open to the general public (and any TNNA members who’d care to join us) and will run June 10 – 13.

Stay tuned here to my blog for registration information, and let me know if there is a class you’ve been wanting to take with me (that is, if you’ll be somewhere near the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, OH in June!)

Ultimately, I think it will work out as a win/win; more folks can take my classes, and I can keep more of the earnings for my own offerings.

Max and Hannah do their chores around the house in exchange for their allowance, sometimes Max dusts & Hannah sweeps, sometimes it’s vice-versa.

Rhymes with "Riffer"

But I’ve noticed that since I bought a name-brand duster with a handle, both kids want to dust more.

But those paper refills are really expensive!  So I worked up a crocheted version using PolarKnit polar fleece yarn (a veritable dust magnet!) and after a few washes it’s still working well.

Here’s the pattern for the crocheted version, and a knit version, too! If you use one of these handle-with-prong dusters, maybe this will work well for you, too!