Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

After seeing my designs at WEBS, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself as a designer and a knitter. Also, I hadn't heard (yet) from about my latest submission to them. knitty says that the longer you don't hear from them, the more under consideration your submission is, so as we went further into November, I felt more and more hopeful (my previous submission to them got a pretty quick rejection). Until the week before the anticipated publication date of the winter issue. And I got rejected from Again. Poop.

This is where it gets tricky for me: how to express my disappointment without sounding as if I'm trashing knitty or whining because I didn't get what I wanted. I am disappointed: I worked hard on a design that I like very much, worked out the pattern, took good photos, and it wasn't what they're looking for. I keep missing the mark with knitty; maybe I'm getting closer to what they want? maybe the next design will tickle their fancy? Oh, and I know that not every design gets accepted every place, every time.

So I'll weather this letdown with a small amount of whining (which I'll keep private because whining is ugly) and keep working away at things. Plucky me.

I've put the pattern up on my website and on Ravelry (at a discount to fellow Raveliers, and where it has been favorited).

I love the design, the photos, and the model (my friend Betty's granddaughter). It's also inspired me to do more with sock yarns than "just socks".

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Think I've Arrived

I'm back from Stitches East (down Thursday, back Sunday)----classes, shopping, hanging with knitting friends, shopping, showing off the tattoo (I'm getting a reputation), shopping.....

And I had a thrill that's still sinking in. In the past year, I've sold a few designs to WEBS for their Valley Yarns; they are wonderful people to work with and for, very gracious, supportive, nice, and they pay in gift certificates. Which meant that I was recession-proof when it came to hitting the Market at Stitches.

The Market opens at 5 on Thursday for those registered for classes and present, a preview, time during which you can run around, see everything, get first pick, and it's not crowded. Our group of four was there just about at opening, and when we walked in, I kind of lost my head and went directly to the WEBS booth without telling anyone where I was going. I was completely focused on my gift certificates and hopefully seeing at least one of my models hanging in their display.

And oh my goodness. There they were: my child's cardigan and my button-wrap. For all the knitting world to see and touch and buy the pattern. I was more bowled over than I had anticipated.

I feel that I've arrived as a legitimate designer.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Adventures

This year, for some reason, I wasn't really feeling the whole Halloween thing. Maybe it's the result of handing out candy for twenty-five years, maybe it was exhaustion from making it through the World Series and having the Phillies (finally) win. For the past few years, the weather has been very mild on Halloween, and we stand outside with neighbors, hand out candy, drink some wine, have a good time. But this year, we bought a smaller amount of candy than usualy and decided we'd hand it out asap and then go out to dinner.

The plan changed a bit, as friends called and asked if we wanted to go out to dinner with them. Oh yes, we were all over it. So they picked us up and we went up to Memphis Taproom where we had a great dinner. From there, we went downtown to Scoopdeville where we had great ice cream (vanilla with gingersnaps mixed in mmmmmmmm). And a stroll over to the Comcast Center to check out the ever-changing wall.

By the time we got home, it was 9:30 and Halloween was pretty much over, at least on our block. Allie called to say she was pretty much stranded up in Northern Liberties, and would Michael come pick her up and take her home to South Philly (a two-three hour wait for a cab was the other option). So he went out to pick her up and called me a few minutes later to say that this is who he met right out on our sidewalk:

And I went out, and there he was, up in the neighbor's tree.

This is probably one of the family of raccoons that seems to be residing somewhere in the vicinity of our block: we've spotted them twice coming out from under our deck, and neighbors have seen them in their alleys, on their second-floor decks, kind of all around.

Cute, but this guy was a big one: looked like Henry in a costume. Maybe it was.

Anyway, that was Halloween.

Now we just need to get through the election.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thank You

As of Friday afternoon, our goal was reached in the Fundable fundraiser. We now have enough money to fund our class through June 2009 and hopefully into the fall. Our yarn closet will be stocked, and our needles and notion bins will be full. Our clients will be able to make whatever they want.

What was great about this was that not only friends donated: complete strangers from the Ravelry community made donations. And in addition to the monetary donations, many Ravelers have said they'll be sending yarn from their stashes to help us out. So the next few weeks will feel like Christmas: waiting for those boxes and then seeing what's been sent.

And Kathy from WEBS and Flo from Elmore-Pisgah are sending us yarn, too.

Oh my goodness.

This is so great.

Thanks, everyone! If I could knit you a hug, I would.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Good Day

Today it is cold, gray, raining, miserable; the fifth game of the World Series was suspended so the agonizing wait for a winning finish for the Phillies is on hold; the economy is doing god knows what; we have to wait a week for the election to put an end to that agonizing wait; I have a cold; my hair is thinning and becoming more and more unmanageable, but it is a good day because I am wearing these:

This is what sock knitting is all about. As soon as I put the first sock on this morning, I smiled. My feet feel like they're being hugged; they are warm; they are gorgeous.

I do not fear the day anymore.

XXXOOO to all my handknit socks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm in love with a new yarn (or is it in lust?)

I've been working on an assignment for StellaPop over the last couple of days: hats using Tonalita from Trendsetter Yarns. It is an absolutely gorgeous yarn, both in texture and color: The color changes are very subtle, but as the hat is worked, stripes emerge.

The content is 52% Wool, 48% Acrylic, 50 grams/skein - +/- 100 yards/skein
gauge: 4.5sts = 1" #9 (I'm using a 10.5 needle and getting 3.5 sts to the inch). The yarn is brushed with a mohair feel without the mohair snagging or shedding that seems to happen so often; the resulting fabric is soft, light, warm, and non-itchy.

That's another advantage to doing the production knitting for StellaPop: I get to play with yarns that either I ordinarily wouldn't choose (and find myself liking) or yarns that are a little too pricey for me.

Knitting Supplies for the Blind

Our knitting class for the blind and visually impaired needs supplies, and to get the supplies, we need money (who dosen't, and especially these days?). So I've started an online fundraiser at Fundable.

We have until November 7 to meet our goal, and I'm hoping that friends, family, and complete strangers will help us out. It's an all-or-nothing deal: if we reach our goal in pledges, we get the funding. If we don't reach our goal, the pledges are negated (which means the donors aren't out any money), but we don't get anything.

Reaching our goal will keep us funded through June, when our class ends, so we are counting on this. A lot.

Thanks to everyone who helps us out.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

They Like Me! They Really Like Me!

Back in May, the mother of Sam, one of my models for the book, bought copies of the book for her mother and mother-in-law. Today, I ran into her mother, a knitter, who proceeded to tell me how many things she's made from the book (three) and how much she enjoyed making them and how great they turned out. Wow. A fan.

Hearing from customers really makes my day. Since my business is online, I work in a vacuum much of the time, sending patterns out over the ether, sending kits in the mail. From time to time, I'll get an email from a happy customer (I guess it means something that I've never gotten an annoyed email, knock wood!), and it does validate what I'm doing (and trying to do) here.

So, if you were to buy this book, you, too, would be knitting up cute baby things and enjoying the patterns.

Speaking of validation, I had a blanket pattern accepted for the Spring issue of Knotions (and sincerely hope that I haven't jinxed anything by mentioning it this much in advance). I may not be another Debbie Bliss, but I am the only Erika Flory.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Love & Stitches

I love knitting so much.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


So, what happened to August? One day it was July, and now, presto! it's September. Seems to happen that way every year. And I managed to go a whole month without posting anything. I guess I need to offer apologies to my vast audience of readers who have been begging for information.

I've been knitting: finished a couple of designs that I sent to Knitty and Knotions. I don't want to be overconfident (good WASP that I am), but I think they're both pretty good. I also finished a little feather and fan cardigan (need to get some photos of it) in Knit One Crochet Too's Ty-Dy--a really soft cotton in beautiful colors. And I'm doing work again for StellaPop, both pattern writing and now production knitting. I'm also working on a little cardigan for my niece's birthday which is coming up soon.

Two more weeks, and knitting class at ASB begins. I've found a home for the blankets that our clients made a year and a half ago, supposedly for a local hospital's cancer center. But the PR departments never seemed to have gotten it together for the formal donation (even though the hospital suggested that we make the blankets). So I found our local chapter of Project Linus and have been taking the blankets there where they have been received very nicely. This year begins our fourth year teaching at ASB. We've done a lot in that time.

And I've gotten somewhat involved in politics. Yes, politics. I'm volunteering in the Obama office once a week, doing data entry. Has the potential to be stultifyingly boring, but it actually has an interesting angle: I get to see how registered Democrats are responding to Obama. Most people aren't home when they're called, some people are "for Obama", some are "undecided", some are "for McCain" (which I don't understand at all).

I believe in Obama. I think he has a lot to offer this country, and I think we'll be in a better place four years from now if we trust in him. McCain scares me because of his policies, because he's too old to be taking this on, because his judgement is skewed. His selection of Sarah Palin was too quick with too little thought, and that scares me: that he can make such important decisions with such little information (or such disregard for the information available). It seems that his eagerness to have a woman as his VP nominee (any woman) over-rode the need for experience: I'm sorry, but living in Alaska does not make one an expert on foreign policy; if physical proximity to another country counts in that area, then all the bubbes from Boca to Miami should be consulted on Cuba. And politics aside, when McCain and Palin appear in public together, he looks a bit like a pedophile.

And I'm not even getting started on her eagerness to be in the national spotlight vs the ramifications of having her family under the national magnifying glass. Just last week, her daughter was a pretty anonymous teenager who was dealing with her pregnancy with her family and friends, and now she's the object of international commentary and innuendo. There's no way that I would do that to my daugher. Period. I don't care what fame and/or fortune is involved. So I have doubts about her experience and her judgement.

The Irish bookmakers have it at 13% odds that she'll withdraw from the race.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Biker Chicks Redux

And here we are again.

Friday, we biked from Rockwood to Confluence. The weather was beautiful: warm and sunny but not too hot. The trail was mostly in the woods, shady and cool, occasionally going through a sunny meadow area or over a bridge. This stretch of the woods definitely had the feeling of enchantment: none of us would have been surprised to see gnomes or other woods creatures down among the ferns. We stopped at one point to check out the healing vortex, a spot where the surging waters supposedly have healing effects. Healing or not, it was a wonderful spot in the river.

Saturday we headed off towards the town of Ligonier, stopping at the Powdermill Nature Reserve, a brand new nature center that had an exhibit of amazing nature photographs by Donald Robinson (unfortunately there wasn't a catalog or postcards or prints available--we all would have loved to have a little piece of this exhibit to take home and savor).

Right at the corner of Route 30 and Main Street, there is Fort Ligonier, one of the most western-outposts of the British during the French and Indian Wars. A very interesting museum, a very well-preserved fort, a very informative hour or so. Well worth the trip . And this is where we had a delicious lunch: In the summer, there are tables on the sidewalk, which is where we sat and enjoyed the leisurely pace of a summer's afternoon in a small town.

After lunch, we headed towards the town center where a craft show was underway, but we got sidetracked by an absolutely magnificent yarn store Kathy's Kreations. This is by far the most well-stocked yarn store I have ever been in: the selection of yarns is overwhelming, and there is a complete (and I mean complete) line of books, patterns, magazines, as well as knitting tools and supplies. I have to say that the stores here in Philly should take a look at this place and imitate, imitate, imitate! Of course we bought yarn--how could we not?

The highlight of Sunday was visiting the Duncan House, the newest Frank Lloyd Wright house to be opened in this area of western Pennsylvania. Every year that we've come out here, we've done a Wright House: Falling Water, Kentuck Knob, and now the Duncan House. Next year, we're planning on touring the two apprentice houses that are on the same grounds as the Duncan House.

And we had good meals, drank cherry wine and ate chocolates in our pajamas, did some knitting, ate huge breakfasts, and laughed more and harder than I have in a very long time. Nobody whined, nobody had a hissy fit, nobody got sick or punked out on any part of the adventure---we're doing this again next year, and none of us can wait.

Tomorrow's August. Already.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Biker Chicks

This morning, I'm leaving for what now seems to be the annual biking/knitting getaway with Debbie, Colleen, and Mara. Colleen and I start in Philadelphia, drive out to Harrisburg to pick up Mara (and have some lunch), then journey on to The Glades Pike Inn B&B. Debbie will probably meet us there tomorrow.

The B&B is great: the first time I walked in, three years ago, I had a Proustian moment of being back in my great-aunt's farm house in upstate Pennsylvania: the same smell of breakfast meat, country, old house, and I don't know what else, but it felt immediately comfortable. Janet, the innkeeper, is great; she's welcoming without being obsequious, has a sense of humor, and can tell us endless things to do to keep us occupied while out there. There is always a kitten underfoot. Every morning, there's a hearty breakfast that involves some type of wonderful cake or bread. People come back year after year to stay with Janet, and it's no wonder: it's very much like visiting your favorite aunt (or your mother's cousin or some other relative who gives you no grief, only a good time).

We've gone to Falling Water and Kentuck Knob, cycled through Ohiopyle and along railbed/cycle paths, and overall had wonderful times. There's also time for reading and knitting and talking and relaxing.

The best part is four nights of no snoring.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stash Reduction

In the last couple of weeks, I've been on a mission to reduce my stash. Stitches East will be happening in November in Baltimore, and as much as I tell myself that I'm not going to buy "too much" yarn, I know that I will succomb to yarn lust and, well, that will be that.

So I've been knocking out top-down sweaters using stash yarn, and I can at least kid myself into thinking that I'm using up my stash.

This is the first one:

On the last day of Stitches last year, I bought two skeins of Blue Moon Fibers Twisted in the Puck's Mischief colorway. And here it is as a loose-but-not-too-loose garter stitch jacket with three-quarter length sleeves and hitting at high-hip level.

I finished this one

yesterday. The yarn is Sugarloaf from Valley Yarns, and it's been in my stash long enough so that it could probably be carbon dated. But I've never been able to give it up or pass it along because it's so soft and I love the color. The button's pretty close to perfect, too. Again, three-quarter length sleeves and not too long. Although there's no shaping knitted in, it fits well as I didn't increase as much as I did in the Puck's Mischief sweater.

And stash-reducer number three got started yesterday. If I can get sweaters made and lower the level of worsted and sport weight yarns, that will be good. Somehow having a stash of sock yarn isn't as overwhelming--probably the balls are so small.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

se trata de los géneros de punto

In all languages, all worlds, it's about the knitting.

These are photos taken in Kathy's, a yarn store in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She's an expat from San Francisco who sells yarn from her living room: knock or ring on Aldama 27, and if she's home, you'll have a great time talking with her and looking at some terrific yarn.

The "store" is down the street from the B&B we stayed in, and it was never open when I went by. On the last try, a gringa was looking in the window, and when I asked her if she knew what the hours were, she said "Oh, you ring or knock. Kathy's a friend--I'll ring." And she did, and even though we caught Kathy fresh out of the shower, it was no problem for her to throw on something presentable and let us in.

She was also gracious enough to give us a tour of her house, which was (like 99% of San Miguel) pretty amazing.

For me, someone who has to touch, feel, smell, or fondle yarn everyday, this was a great discovery, and I had to get in, come hell or high water. When I was in San Miguel two years ago, visiting Allie , the only yarn store was on Insurgentes (it's still there, up the street from the great gorditas place) and sold bags of pretty coarse acrylic (no, I'm not a fiber snob, soft acrylic is fine, coarse is not).

So the moral to this story is: no matter where you go, someone, somewhere is going to have her hands in fiber.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All Quiet

Things are quiet on the knitting front. I'm still kind of on break from knitting for StellaPop, but I've done a couple of pattern writing/sample knitting jobs which were very interesting and one, very challenging.

More socks got finished, Gumperina's Jaywalker, which I worked up in Knit Picks Essentials: great pattern, great yarn.

I have a lot of ideas popping around in my brain, but not a whole lot is coming to fruition. Except this little guy who's on Ravelry now as a free download:

A lot of people on Ravelry have marked it as a favorite and one has already posted a photo---I'm eager to see more photos to see the different interpretations of this pattern.

This past Tuesday was the last knitting class a ASB for the summer, and a good thing: all the volunteers (with the exception of the Queen of All She Touches) were fried and soooo ready for a break. The Queen wasn't fried because she'd taken five weeks off for vacation before waltzing in with her usual forty-five-minutes-after-the-class-starts entrance. But we ended the year well, giving the clients a pizza party and a lot of yarn to take home for summer projects. We'll start up again in mid-September with new yarn, new clients, and an organized supply closet.

This is Luis wearing his Einstein Jacket. Not only is his knitting impeccable but he has taught himself how to crochet, and also taught his daughter how to knit and crochet. Play it forward.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another Reason to Love Ravelry

I joined ravelry a few months ago, which is, for the unaware, Facebook-on-steroids for knitters. It is a wonderful site where you can see what everyone in the world is knitting, what patterns and yarns are being used; you can upload and download patterns; you can organize your own yarns, needles, library---I keep discovering more and more things I can do on ravelry. The best one I've found yet is: what do you do with that project that you just had to make, made well, loved making, and then it didn't fit, and the yarn, while gorgeous and wonderful to work with, isn't conducive to ripping and re-knitting?

In the past, I've asked among friends to see who would like to take this mistake off my hands, and it's always slightly embarassing: if this really is a nice sweater, why am I trying to pawn it off on someone? Is accepted because it really is the right color/style/fit for her? Or is she being kind? Who ever knows (especially when you're overly-sensitive)?

Anyway, I posted this sweater

and the details of my journey knitting it, and said that is was available to anyone who wanted it, free postage.

The other day, I got a message from a Ravelryer (Raveler??) in North Carolina who was willing to take it. We agreed that she's free to "play it forward" if it doesn't fit or isn't to her liking. So off to NC went the sweater yesterday, along with an extra ball of yarn in case it's needed.

And I thought: there must be some way to track this sweater if it gets played forward, to see where it ends up. And then I could blog about it, and then get a book deal, and then they'd make a movie about the sweater and we'd all be famous.

Oh, in addition to being overly-sensitive, I also have a very rich imagination.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thank You, Sandra!

Sandra Singh has posted a great review of Head to Toe Knits on her blog--thank you, Sandra!

And after you read the review, you can browse through all the great yarn and other things that Sandra carries.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stitch by Stitch

I'm a fairly fast knitter: I usually can knit and read at the same time. I tend to go on auto-pilot and work quickly. But I'm working with a yarn, Country, right now that is making me slow down.

Country is a merino/acrylic blend, very soft, very plush, it seduced me at the yarn store, and it splits constantly. I have to watch every stitch and slow down to make sure that it's not splitting and that I'm not leaving a trail of yarn wisps hanging from my work. At first, I was annoyed by this, and then I let myself surrender to the quality of the yarn and to slow down, look at each stitch and take my time.

And I find that I'm enjoying this enforced slow-down. It's the difference between driving on the highway and taking the back roads: I have time to watch where I'm going, to contemplate what I'm doing, and to realize that, since there isn't a deadline, what's the rush?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Buy the Book


It's a good book. You won't be sorry. You'll make a lot of babies happy (and their moms) with what you make from the patterns.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pink Rose, DeWitt, & Gladys

Every week for the last year and a half, I've met Allie at the Pink Rose Pastry Shop for breakfast (usually on Tuesday). We have the breakfast special (for $2.50 you get two eggs, homefries made with real potatoes--not frozen shredded blech-- and a biscuit), and the coffee is great. It's wonderful food, a great neighborhood place, and great staff. Usually Sherman is there, cooking our breakfast with love. But sometimes DeWitt is there instead.

A morning with DeWitt is an extra-special treat. Sherman cooks with love, but DeWitt sings and dances to the radio. It seems that he knows every song on every station.

This morning, my absolutely all-time, end-of-the-world, what-I-want-to-hear-when-I'm-dying-song came on: Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips.

And DeWitt sang and danced.

Friday, May 9, 2008

This baby has legs

Being on Ravelry has given me a peek into many, many knitters' minds, stashes, and projects. When I joined, I got such a rush to see that my Sachiko Baby Kimono pattern was on Ravelry already, and it's been an adventure to watch the postings grow: as of today, it's listed in 101 projects, 286 queues, and 273 people have marked it as a favorite.

Even more fascinating is seeing the photos of the finished projects: there are so many interpretations and renditions of it---some are not my taste at all and some are so great that I'm jealous (of another knitter's version of my own original pattern!).

This was my first published pattern, and I was so excited to have it "out there" and so grateful to Alison at For the Love of Yarn for accepting it and helping me to earn my professional chops. And now to discover that hundreds of knitters around the world have taken my design to heart and made it for so many babies---it's exciting and also humbling at the same time.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I've been working on a sweater that calls for placing stitch markers where decreases are going to be made. Often, when I'm working a stitch pattern, I can read the fabric and don't really need the stitch markers: I'm clever, I'm on top of my game, I know what I'm doing. Other times, I like to have the markers because it's one less thing that I have to think about or keep track of: here's the marker, time to decrease (or increase or whatever).

There aren't stitch markers for real life, though, which is a shame. It would be nice to wake up one morning, come down to breakfast and find an orange plastic marker next to the coffee mug, letting you know that: adolescence starts here, make sure you have lots of patience and strength until next marker; aging parent starts failing here...You get the drift.

But of course there are no markers, just learning how to read the fabric.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Sometime during the month of May 1983 was my last day of offical work. Work where I got up every morning, dressed appropriately, and went out into the world to interact with the public, to answer the phone, and to push papers around. I traded that in to stay at home, for a brief while as a pregnant woman, and then as a mom: first to one, then to two.

In those twenty-five years, I've raised two pretty incredible human beings, started a craft business, become computer and internet savvy, outlived my in-laws and my mother, become a mother-in-law, gone through menopause, self-published a book, and managed to negogiate all this without killing anyone (especially teen-aged boys)-- not in that order, but then when is life ordered?

Maybe I'll give myself a party. Have some chocolate. Get a massage. Buy some yarn.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Plumbing and Squirrel

Last week, I took a couple of days and went up to the mountains to take care of plumbing problems (sulpher smell in the water and dripping pipes under the kitchen sink) as well as to clean up the damage made by the squirrel.

Last month, my house partners went up to check on how things were after the winter and discovered that a squirrel had come down the chimney, out through the wood-burning stove and into the house. It is amazing how much damage a trapped, hysterical, sooty squirrel can do. There were little sooty tracks all over the living room and kitchen, larger sooty swaths where his tail had lashed, and he had tried to eat his way out the window frame.

Long story short, I haven't cleaned so hard since we moved Jon out of his apartment, end of sophomore year and we wanted at least part of our security deposit back.

So now the plumbing is fixed, the house is clean, and this guy is gone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Fine Finish

Head to Toe Knits is now officially available from Finally. A year and a half of thinking, designing, knitting, editing, false starts and fine finishes. I'm proud of what I've achieved. I have achieved book.

I've learned a tremendous amount, and, if I tackle a second book, I know the process will be smoother and the end result will be even better.

Over the last few weeks, I've been exploring ravelry more. I am amazed at the talent, creativity and productivity of the world's knitters as exhibited on ravelry; much of the time, after spending maybe ten minutes poking around, I leave, feeling humbled and awed by what I've seen. I alternate between feeling that my own creativity is being sparked and feeling that there's nothing left to design (especially by me). But that's my own doubts speaking, because I know there are still endless variations of baby sweaters and hats out there, just waiting to be thought of and knitted, not just by others but by me, too.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Enough about Henry (for the time being). He's doing fine. Let's talk about socks today.

I've finished another pair of socks in KnitPicks Essential, using Ann Budd's toe-up pattern plus a seed stitch rib from More Sensational Socks. It took me longer than previous pairs since I've started production knitting for StellaPop again, which does cut into my sock-knitting time. Also, socks are my carry along project on my day out when I'm teaching at ASB (lunch time knitting) but because of the garden work going on, I missed a couple of lunchtimes.

Joan has become interested in sock knitting, so we made a trip to loop to get her sock yarn (and of course I had to pick some up, too, yarn whore that I am). Armed with Ann Budd's toe-up article, complete with step-by-step instructions and charts, Joan got started. The other day, she asked for help with the short-row heel, never having worked short-rows before and not quite knowing what they are or why she'd be using them. When I sat down with her, I realized that I hadn't really paid attention to the instructions, scanning instead of reading and retaining. So we did the short-row heel together, and now I know what I'm doing. And my heel does look better.

So now I can start another pair of socks since my obsession with them hasn't gone away. This pair will be with the Koigu that I got at loop--not sure of the pattern yet, but that shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Yesterday, we went shopping for chairs for our new patio, and ended up getting some very comfortable ones at Ikea. I guess this means that I can sit out there under the tree with some iced tea and knit. What luxury!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Henry (again)

In the past week, we've brought Henry home from the vet to get rested and ready for his bladder surgery. Yesterday I took him back, he had his surgery (which went well), and this morning I picked him up.

I have to take him back in two weeks to have his sutures removed.
I think I'm going to look around and see if there are pet carriers with wheels.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This is Henry. He is one of my cats. He followed Allie home five years ago, and is the biggest, sweetest, dumbest cat I've ever had. He now weighs 23 pounds and can, when he stands on his hind legs, put his front paws on the kitchen counter. We love him very much.

Henry is sick. Like so many other neutered male cats, he has urinary tract problems. Two years ago, he had his first blockage. Today, he developed his second. He is at the vet's right now, having been sedated, x-rayed and catheterized. It turns out he has, as the vet put it, "a sack of gravel" in his bladder. So next week, they will do surgery to remove the gravel, unless he re-blocks before that, in which case the surgery will happen sooner.

I love Henry. I want him to be better.

The Book Marches On

On Monday, my preview copy of my book arrived from lulu. I was very nervous about opening the package because I was so afraid of how disappointed I'd be when I saw how bad it all looked. But it looks very good. There are only two issues: the first will be easy for Michael to fix as it involves getting a full bleed on the covers and also on those interior pages that aren't white. The other issue is a bit more complicated: all the photos, interior and cover, printed very much darker than what I sent in. For instance, Siena's face is completely obscured by how dark the photo is. I have questions in to the tech people at lulu to see how this can be corrected. I am, of course, hoping that there is something that can be done at their end rather than my end. Work at my end will probably mean copying and brightening each photo. However, I've done so much work at this point, what's a little more?

I am now on Ravelry. This is Facebook for knitters. It is potentially so addictive it frightens me. I allow myself to visit Ravelry for only 5-10 minutes at a time (the trick is to keep the number of times a day that I visit down to only one or two).

What I'm finding interesting about Ravelry is that, in my notebook section, I can organize my stash. This is actually a good thing, because if I do actually organize my stash there, it means that I have to look at my bins of yarn and categorize them and think about them rather than just shutting my yarn in the closet and pretending that I really don't have that much. When of course I do have that much. Bins and bins of that much.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Blog To Read

What makes a blog one that gets read? Is it humor, dark or not? Is it the immediacy of life and death? Is it one that is filled with great information that teaches the reader? I'm curious, simply because I tend to read blogs that draw me like a gaper to an accident scene, the ones that are like watching train-wrecks happen. Yet I'm keeping one that either no one reads or no one cares to comment on. I guess I'm neither making poignant observations about (my) life or turning other knitters on to great techniques, yarns, shops, whatever. Who knows.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Progress on all fronts

I just re-read my last post, and I'd like to apologize for overusing the fbomb. Yes, it's a regular part of my speech, but I do tend to keep it more private.

So where do we stand almost a week later? The yard is progessing--much slate has been laid, and about half of the plumbing repairs have been done.

As for the book: we (Michael and I) spent the weekend putting together a new format that will be available through I've ordered a sample copy, and if it's all ok, then that's the avenue that I'll take. So I am, once again, in a hold pattern.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Brain Dead

I am exhausted, physically and mentally. Yesterday, I had a most unhappy conversation with my rep from the do-it-for-yourself publishing company: even though I sent in a very complete, comprehensive book dummy along with a letter spelling out what I wanted the book to look like, it was all pretty much disregarded. So now that I'm on round two of the galley corrections and I let them know that I want the font size to be the original size that I specified, they want $349.00 to change it. I don't fucking think so. I never asked them to enlarge the font size (which of course makes for a longer book which of course makes more money for them, so they think), and I also didn't okay weird spacings in the text.

So I've gone from being upset because I've worked so hard on the book, etc., etc., only to be ignored to being determined that I will find an outlet for this. And while I've been exploring online self publishing options and figuring out how to reconfigure my book, we're having extensive work done in our front and back gardens.

Keep in mind that living in downtown Philadelphia it is extremely unusual to have both a front garden and essentially a large back yard. Every 7-10 years we spring for having professional work done to bring things back to life and make our non-gardening lives more enjoyable. So all this has coincided--the book (which is major mental disruption) and the garden overhaul (which is major physical disruption). What it all means is that I am housebound while the workers are here--nice as they are, I'm not leaving my house open to people I don't know (and who all wants to wander in). Plus I have to catch and lock two of the cats in our bedroom with their food and litter and I get to listen to them pound on the door and scream all day. It is very wearing.

And then I have to answer questions from the contractor when that's the last thing I want to deal with. And the fact that our outdoor water pipe is broken. But the contractor can get it fixed. Just pile on the money. What the fuck.

So it is 8:15 at night and I am wrung out and have to get up early to deal with tomorrow's go-round of gardening. I know that when this is all over it will be great, but while it is happening, I am so fucking sorry I ever said let's do this.

But let's throw a little bit of knitting in here: I did finish the second hat for the Tops & Toes book so I'll be able to get those out to the publisher next week (if it should rain one day!).

Ah, life: if it isn't this, you're dead.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sock Yarns

I've been knitting a lot of socks in the past few months. Ann Budd's article in Interweave Knits on toe-up socks got me re-interested in sock knitting, and that interest quickly became an obsession (witness my entire birthday present list).

There are many sock yarns out there, and I've only tried a few so far; some have produced successful, happy socks, and others have disappointed.

So far, the winner is KnitPicks Essential and Essential Tweed. Besides coming in a good range of colors, knitting up beautifully with no splitting, and being the best bang for your buck, it goes through the washer the best.

Shelridge Farm's fingering weight, while not specifically a sock yarn (ie, it is pure wool with no nylon or other material mixed in), it makes beautiful socks that go through the wash on cold. The finished product is a bit heavier than Essential/Essential Tweed, so these are socks that I save for colder days. Their color choices are almost unlimited so I know I'll be visiting them at Stitches this year.

Jojoland Melody is a good runner-up to Shelridge. Again, not specifically a sock yarn. The drawbacks to Melody is that there is a bit of piling where my boots rub against the sock and that there is a little bit of shrinkage when put through the washer. I've made a couple of stoles using Melody which is honestly a better use of this yarn.

I also used a merino/cashmere blend from Jojoland for my first pair of socks, and they turned out so well: this yarn was a dream to work with and the resulting sock was a pleasure to have on my foot. And then I made the stupid, stupid mistake of putting them in the wash. They felted to the point of not being wearable at all. Duh.

XXL Trekking is ok to work with. I found it a little slippery (for lack of better tactile description); the sock that it produced again was ok but didn't delight my feet the way Essential does.

I'm knitting for StellaPop knits again, so my sock-knitting time has been reduced. I won't be churning out a pair of socks every ten days or so, unfortunately. Next month, my sock-of-the-month birthday gift starts, exposing me to more new sock yarns. It will be interesting to see what comes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Well, I found out today that two of the three hat designs I submitted for consideration were accepted for inclusion in a real book. Two out of three. I'm gobsmacked.

What I submitted were designed for kids, but the editor wants them as adult hats. I can do that. I guess this, paired with the designs accepted by WEBS, makes me a real designer.

Now if my husband would stop snoring, I'd be all-around delighted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Pox on the Nation

I don't like American Idol. It does little to nothing to promote genuine talent and does much to promote the idea that anyone singing into his or her hairbrush in front of the mirror has talent and a chance to "make it". The judges say nothing that is constructive or helpful to the contestants, and the viewing public bases their votes on appearances and what their dim ideas of good are. The contestants, in general, sound alike, both male and female pushing their vocals through their noses and/or singing from the backs of their throats, trying to mimic whoever was last year's winner.

The somewhat talented who look a certain way are selected, molded, and pushed along until they get pooped out at the end of show looking and sounding like every other half-baked singer out there. No one is new, individual, interesting, or exhibiting any breadth of music knowledge.

It is a dumb show.

For a genuine talent, look at Zenia at the Apollo.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What a Weekend

This has been a busy week and a very busy weekend. Friday was my birthday, and aside from going to the dentist and meeting the lawyer to sign our wills, it was a great day.

Dinner was at Yakitori Boy again, and again was very good. They now have a liquor license and serve a nice Chardonnay. Very nice indeed.

And since my birthday is all about me, I have no hesitation in telling birthday gifts: a ton of sock yarn, a beautiful way to carry socks-in-progress from knitzi, wooden sock blockers, Knitting America, More Sensational Knitted Socks, a book about Betty Crocker, and a beautiful teapot. As material things go, I was made very happy.

Yesterday, I finished my hat submissions and sent them off; I'm not sure when I'll hear if any have been accepted. Today I put together my submission for knitty; I'm going to hold on for a few days and make sure that it's all what I want and need it to be.

And today, the last issue of For the Love of Yarn is online. My Little Red pattern has finally found a home. I'm sorry to see this webzine go away; the editor has been wonderful to work with and receptive to my designs. Her life has gotten very busy with family, and I understand, but I'm going to miss it.

So with all of that behind me, I'm going to finally get the model knitted up for WEBS and sent out to them.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Oh My

No knitting images today, just food. This is the mac and cheese pie I made for dinner using leftovers from last night's mac and cheese that I made with cubed turkey ham and peas. Tonight I folded it into a pie crust, topped it with buttered bread cubes and baked until done. Oh my. It was so good. And so filling. Thank goodness there was a lot of fresh broccoli served with it. And there's more. Oh my.

Knitting-wise was pretty productive today: I got the first draft of my article for the AKD newsletter written; I got yarn for and started another hat design for the submissions to the "real" book; and I had a good photo session with Siena, my neighbor/model, for the knitty submission that I'm working on. So, for a Sunday, it was pretty busy. And I get a respite from 60 Minutes this week because the SUPER BOWL is on. Oh my.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Yakitori Boy

Dinner last night was fantastic. We were seated in a small private room, off to the side, that opened with a sliding shoji-inspired door. Very nice for a celebration for people who like their privacy. The only downside was that the overhead lighting was very dim.

The menu is fabulous, in both its content and its presentation--it's one of the largest picture-menus we have ever seen and the variety of food was extensive. There are soups, offered in different sizes (miso, udon, ramen, tempura with noodles), there are appetizers and sushi, and, the main focus, the Yakitori "Japas"---asian-inspired tapas.

The yakitori are all grilled and served on mini-skewers and are ordered by item. So we had (among all of us) salmon with scallion, chicken liver, chicken skin, ginkgo nuts, chicken with scallion, corn on the cob (slathered with buttery-soy sauce), broccoli, bacon wrapped around mint, salmon neck--there was, I'm sure, more that I can't remember right now.

But we'll be going back next Friday because that's where I'd like to go for my birthday dinner.

And we are getting six more weeks of winter. Why am I not surprised?

Friday, February 1, 2008


This is what today has looked like, all day. I did get the trash and re-cycling out before the heavy rain started. Other than going out to the curb in my pajamas at 7:15, I've been in the house all day. Yesterday afternoon, I got to the post office and mailed off the galleys as well as an order, knowing that it was going to be raining today and knowing that I wasn't really going to want to go out. I even bagged having coffee at Famous this morning, it was raining so hard.

I spent the day knitting and doing knitting-related things: I got the pattern for the sweater I'm working on for WEBS typed up, as well as finishing the pieces for said sweater. I just need now to sew the sweater together, put the buttons on, and work in all the loose ends. Then I can send the model and the pattern off to WEBS.

I finished sock #1 of my latest pair: nutmeg-colored fingering weight yarn from Shelridge Farm . The pattern is small, staggered cables, and the combination of yarn, color and design is very good. I love the yarn from Shelridge Farm---I've been buying from them at Stitches East for years and love the colors, weights, and quality. I've made sweaters, hats, shawls and socks from their yarn and am always happy with the result.

Tonight, we're all going out to dinner to celebrate Rebecca's birthday as well as the sale of the condo/loft that we bought when Jon was in college. He lived there for four (!!) years, before he and Rebecca moved to South Philly. They've eaten at Yakitori before and say that it is very good; reminds them very much of places where they ate in Tokyo. Promises to be a good time.

Tomorrow is Rebecca's actual birthday as well as Groundhog's Day. She will be getting another tattoo, this one of a large octopus. We will be getting six more weeks of winter.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

One Step Closer

I've finished the first round of proof-reading and re-laying out the layout and am ready to send it back. It's been a lot of work, more than I anticipated and on so many levels. I don't think I'm naive--I had the expectation that my book dummy would be honored more than it was--so the amount of disregard given was kind of surprising.

In the mail tomorrow, about three weeks to get to the Philippines (they're in Cebu even though, when asked, the representatives say they're in Philadelphia), a couple of weeks of review on their end, and then back to me. As long as it's in their hands, though, I can step back and focus on other things.

Other things such as coming up with designs to submit for consideration to be included in a book (a "real" book); write an article for the AKD newsletter on teaching the blind; and getting photographs of a baby wearing the item I want to submit to knitty. As well as having time to knit more socks.

Meanwhile, I've begun to add links on my sidebar here--blogs and sites that interest me. And even though it's old news and won't be updated (at least in the foreseeable future), I've included a link to Allie's site that she kept while she was in Mexico two years ago. It's interesting and funny; the video on the water heater still makes me laugh. And I'm still impressed at how brave she was, at 18, to go off to Mexico on her own.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Night

I used to enjoy watching 60 Minutes, but over the last couple of years, I've grown to despise every painful minute of the show. I don't quite know why, other than the fact that Andy Rooney has morphed from a humorously cynical guy into an old kvetch who whines during the time given to him on air. And also, perhaps, that the formula has become so stale (after 30+ years I guess it's hard to stay fresh). I wish the TV people would ask my opinion about what should be broadcast. I'm here, I'm ready to answer their questions. In the meantime, I escape from the living room on Sundays from 7-8, either to my knitting room or to the office computer. It also doesn't help that he who selects the show usually falls asleep in front of it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Doing It All

This self-publishing seems to be a two-edged sword: yes, I'm in charge/control of the book, but at the same time, I'm the editor, the proof-reader, the designer, the whole ball of wax. It is a lot of work, and one that requires a lot of very clear communication between me and the publisher. It would be much more helpful if I were working with someone who had at least a little experience with a knitting book (or any other kind of work in which the relationship between text and photos is crucial).

I naively thought that by sending the publisher a complete mock-up of the book with clear (at least in my mind) instructions on photo size and placement I'd receive back a cleaned up version of what I sent in. But that's not what I got back.

Basically, over the last two weeks, I've not only proofed the book but have ended up with an altered layout. Because the type is spaced differently (I believe they used a larger font), the continuity of the written patterns and related photos is thrown off. I'm making up another mock-up that I'm hoping will give the graphic people a better idea of what is important.

I've been getting the galleys printed out at the UPS store. Scott, who manages the place, and I are becoming BFF. We both know that I'll be back for at least a third printing of the galleys.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Galley: Round One

So I got the first round of galleys this morning in pdf form, and there is certainly editing to do: both my own typos that I didn't catch before, their typos, and a whole lot of layout editing. Certain photos are way larger than what I asked for, there are type-face discrepancies that need to be addressed, and the background color of the pages definitely needs to be changed. I know it's a book of knitting patterns for baby items and I know babies poop, but did the layout people really have to pick a perfect baby poop green for the background?

At first glance, I was disappointed and upset by what I saw, but I quickly realized that these are the preliminary galleys. And the pdfs are low resolution so the photos do not look good at all (which I almost was in tears over until I realized what low.pdf must mean).

I'm going to print out the galleys and get to proof-reading and making layout changes. Fortunately, I'm under no deadline other than my own so I can take deep breaths, and breaks and take my time.

Actually, this is very exciting, and I'm sure it's going to work out well. Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm Waiting...

I'm waiting for the galleys of the book to be sent to me.
I'm waiting for the next issue of For the Love of Yarn to be on-line with my cape design.
I'm waiting for yarn to arrive so I can knit the sample sweater for the design that WEBS wants.
I'm waiting for my earlier design to appear in WEBS, print and/or online.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year, A New Sweater

The first Mr. Greenjeans is finished and fits and looks pretty good. I am happy with it. I've been wearing it for forty-five minutes now and haven't pulled or tugged at it or tried to re-arrange how it fits. I think it bodes well.

And it looks good from the back. Coming and going. Well done.

The P.S. to this is that I went to a New Year's afternoon get-together wearing this sweater and got many compliments on it, especially from the twenty-something hipster crowd.