Saturday, August 30, 2008

Numbers I hate

Seventeen. 17. XVII.

That is the number of miles I ran this morning training for the Chicago Marathon which I was foolish enough to sign up for last spring. Slap me. Hard.

Five. 5. V.

The time I had to get up this morning to run the aforementioned hateful number of miles.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Peace Weavers

Kylie, one of the longtime crew around here, does a really cool thing with her summer vacation. She spends a week near Bath, NY at the Peace Weavers' Thunder Mountain Retreat Sanctuary.

She goes to their Natural Building Colloquium and pitches in to build a sustainable building. In past years, she has worked on the guest cabin, retreat cabin and ceremonial building.

As part of the experience, they explore building with things like cob, strawbale, cordwood...all sorts of stuff that doesn't immediately come to my mind when I think about construction. With any luck, it won't be too long before we all know about it the same way that we know about Energy Star appliances.

She also learned all about "living roofs". A living roof is like a rooftop garden but it goes a little further than that. Plants are selected that won't need much care/energy. They don't need to be watered etc. These roofs provide insulation to their building so they keep things cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Kylie's been back less than a month and has already talked to our landlord about taking a section of the roof here and transforming it. If it works the way it should, she'll extend it to cover the whole thing!

Along with all the hard work, there is an amazing sense of community at the retreat. Like Kylie, many of the participants spend their vacations there year after year. She always comes back completely energized with tales of good fun and great people.

This year she returned with stories of one person in particular. Lucky guy is getting his own pair of Jaywalkers knit from our Shepherd Sock in a color that Becca surprised Kylie with just before she left. We call it John Deere and there were only two skeins ever dyed.

At the risk of getting preach-y I have to give Kylie an enormous amount of credit for living the principles espoused at the colloquium. It would be far too easy to come back from the retreat, pat yourself and the back and return to all the habits that make life easier. But she hasn't done that. Among other things she rides her bike to work twelve months a year, regardless of the weather. And she's been doing it for years. No because it's hip and trendy but because she thinks it's right. Brava!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I guess one of the challenges we all face to one degree or another is getting along with the neighbors. There are 10 businesses in the building that houses Lorna's Laces. I know everyone by sight to say "hello" to and have developed real friendships with several people over the course of the past five years. We even vacation with one.

Unfortunately, it isn't all a dream come true. Go figure. There is one fellow who has been difficult almost from the beginning. We'll call him W.

W. seemed like a nice guy at first. He had a couple of dogs and we bonded over our pets. He had rabbits too. They were awfully cute. Frankly, one of the reasons I decided to rent in this building is because it is animal friendly. Pearl doesn't come to work with me every day any more, but she did for a long time. And I like to have the option.

After a while things started to get weird with W. He'd lash out at people for no apparent reason. He lost a bunch of weight and looked kind of sick. I started hearing stories about him getting into shouting matches and that sort of thing. One day last fall, he flipped out and started screaming at me. He's erratic enough that I wonder if it might be one of those things where he needs to have his medication adjusted.

I'm sympathetic, but a little afraid of him too. Ever since "the incident" I've done my best to avoid him. I don't make eye contact when I pass him in the hallway. If we arrive at the same time, I'll wait a few minutes before I enter the building. I don't want to do something that sets him off.

So, I can't say that I was sad when I heard that his lease was up and he'd be moving out of the building. Over the past couple of weeks I've noticed him slowly packing things up and loading them into his trailer.

By this time next week, W. will be completely gone and settled into his new digs. I'll be relieved.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An unexpected trip

I just returned from an unexpected trip to visit my mother. She's ninety years old and the past year hasn't gone as smoothly as I would have liked. It's easy to fuss, but I'm trying to remember that she's ninety and my family is lucky that she's still with us. Too many people have plenty more to complain about than I do.

So, back to Toronto. I got to hang out at possibly the most famous Knit-Night in the world, the one at Lettuce Knit. I showed up unannounced and everyone was incredibly nice to me. Several were even knitting with Lorna's Laces!

This is a shot of Denny (sp) and Rachel. Denny was minding the shop that evening and couldn't have been more welcoming. She provided me with a nice cold "iced tea" and introduced me all around. She's the one on the left.

On the right is Rachel. She very patiently explained the intricacies of cell phone coverage and why my troubles using my phone on the trip probably had less to do with the fact that I was trying to make an international call and more with where the towers were and such. Not once did she call me a moron. At least not out loud or within my earshot. That my friend, is a kind soul.

I mentioned earlier that Amy and I spent time over dinner looking at possible colorways her upcoming Knitty color. There were a couple that didn't make the cut, so we had raffles.

Effie one the first one. She is one lucky raffler....she won when Franklin was there in June on WWKIP day too. She's a new knitter, so I thought it was pretty nice. She promised me that she's going to learn to knit socks next.

The other winner was Molly. She's in the center, in purple.

I met lots of other wonderful people and have since lost the paper where I wrote down their names. It's not because I don't care, it's because my bag is a big black hole and got cleaned out on the fly when I had to leave town the other day in a hurry.

The next day we rented a car and headed to Niagara Falls. I had never been before and my husband hadn't been since he was a kid. It was one of those perfect summer days. Sunny skies with just the right amount of white, puffy clouds.

We got to the falls just after noon and it was spectacular. We spent some time just wandering around the grounds.

We didn't stay long enough to go on one of the boat trips because we heard there were wineries to visit. So we hopped back in the car and took the scenic route back to the city. We picked up a couple of bottles of great vino along the way.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mystery Stole 4

Melanie over at Pink Lemon Twist has opened the sign-up for this year's Mystery Stole.

I am not a very accomplished lace knitter. (That's the nice way of saying I stink at it.) Every year when Mystery Stole comes along, I promise myself that I'll work on my lace knitting so I can sign up for it next year. Invariably something else distracts me and I find myself repeating the cycle.

But I'm delighted to announce that our very own Emily will be representing Lorna's Laces in this year's KAL. I'm so happy to have someone close to home that I can knit vicariously through!

Here's her swatch. She's using our Helen' Lace for the project. It's pretty, don't you think?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

One of life's little mysteries

Why is it that it takes one day of work to catch up for every day that you are away? I was gone for one measly week and four days later I'm still trying to find my desk amongst all the little bits and pieces that decided to breed in my absence. There must be a way to sterilize paperwork so it can't reproduce.

The trip to Toronto was fantastic! We embraced our inner tourist and did all the typical stuff.

On Tuesday, we went up in the CN Tower. At 1815 ft, it's the world's tallest building. The observation deck has an area with a glass floor. There were people laying on it while they got their picture taken. Little children were jumping up and down with incredible glee. I turned green.

All the literature says it's perfectly safe. That it is "five times stronger than the required weight bearing standard for commercial floors." That "it can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos." But my brain did not believe the literature and insisted that if I stood on the glass I would find myself hurtling over a thousand feet straight down. Splat. So like any rational person, I huddled in the far corner and hyperventilated.

We spent Wednesday window shopping on Queen Street West and wandering through the Distillery District. The Distillery District is a marvelous area with lots of restaurants and artisan's shops. No yarn shops though.

Wednesday evening we hooked up with Amy Singer of Knitty fame for dinner. Amy is the one in the white T-shirt.

She's next up for our Color Commentary series and I had a few samples of possible colorways for her to take a peek at and get her input. We had been talking about the color for awhile and sent some pictures back and forth, but there's nothing like seeing it in person. That gave me the perfect excuse to plan the trip in the first place. As it turns out, the color was close, but it wasn't perfect. We need to make some adjustments before it's ready to go out into the world next month.

When we sat down to dinner, Amy pulled out this beautiful peyote stitch bracelet she had made and gave it to me! You should have seen all the people turn around to stare at me after I squealed. The beads are so tiny and the work so detailed. And how sweet is that clasp? I can't tell you how touched I was that she chose to give it to me. I will wear it proudly.

Here's a bit from her blog about the one she made for herself. It's the July 24th entry. I can't figure out how to get to the exact date so you'll have to scroll down a bit on her site. There's also a bit about the working with the delica beads in her June 18th entry. Girl is multi-talented.

After dinner we strolled over to Lettuce Knit. There are a bunch of wholesale produce companies in the neighborhood. Probably where they got the name, huh? It couldn't have been any cuter. It's in a great old red brick building with this fantastic stained glass window over the door.

They must have had that window made since they moved in a year or so ago, but it looks like it's been there forever. I've been on the hunt for a piece of stained glass to go in the window in my kitchen and haven't had any luck finding one. Maybe I should think about having one made. I'd been thinking I wanted a vintage one but this made me think that maybe I can go this route.

There's much more to tell about the wonderful people we hung out with that evening, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I have to see about clearing this desk.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Oh Canada!

Next week, my husband and I are off to Toronto for vacation! Yay!

It can't come soon enough. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my work. Every morning I get up, come in and make beautiful yarn. It doesn't get much better than that. But even with a dream job, it's good to get away from time to time.

We've been talking about where to go for quite awhile. Since it's summer, I didn't want to go anywhere hotter than it is here. I'm a delicate flower and just wilt if I get too warm. That eliminated lots of places.

We also ruled out anywhere with either the pound or euro as the local currency. Unless we win the lotto or come into an inheritance I'm afraid that's going to be off-limits until the dollar comes back around a bit.

We booked this trip just a couple of days ago. Usually I am the kind of person who gets a guide book, spends hours on the internet and comes up with a list of things to see and do. This time I've done virtually nothing. Nada. Zilch. Sometimes it's good to play it by ear. That said, if anyone has any suggestions of places we shouldn't miss, please share!

I have to admit that I am having a bit of a dilemma. There's the little voice that says "I am on vacation and since yarn is work I should stay away from yarn-things". Then there's the (much louder) voice that says "It a whole new country full of yarn. GO NUTS!" Guess which one is most likely to win?