Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fuss budget

This is the reason I was so fussy yesterday about our delayed flight. Because we were so late, I didn't really get to spend time with my mom on Wednesday. She'll be 91 in just a couple of weeks, so time together is precious and I'm very protective of it.

I dream of aging with her grace and beauty.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blues Traveling

I craft quite a few emails and blog entries that never make it out of the draft file. I find writing them cathartic and most of the time that's all it takes to get whatever it is out of my system. Usually, after a month or so I've forgotten all about whatever it was that set me off. Sometimes I even feel a little sheepish about having let it bother me in the first place.

This is one of those blog entries. But I my actually click the "publish" button.

I flew to visit my mother for Christmas last week. It was going to have to be a quick trip. In on Wednesday and back home on Friday. Lots of food and fun on Thursday. I always hope for uneventful travel. Especially this time of year when there's always a big risk that the weather will throw you a curve ball.

Because the trip was so short, I booked a 7:15AM flight so we'd get there in time to spend most of the day with her. Yeah, that's early. I know. We were out of the house by 5:00 (shudder) at the airport by 5:30 (cringe) and at the gate by 6:00 (twitch, twitch). The coffee shop hadn't even opened for goodness sakes.

Then we sat at the gate. And sat some more. At 7:00 the gate crew told us that the flight crew was missing in action. No one knew where they were. Their crack detective work had unearthed the fact that they had checked out of their hotel, but they didn't have any further information. Somehow I find it hard to believe that between the pilot, co-pilot and three flight attendants, there wasn't a single cell phone.

7:30 came and went. I stepped up to the desk to see if I should start worrying about my connecting flight. Three gate agents successfully ignored me for over two minutes. Take out a watch and see how long two minutes is. I just stood there watching them. One was on the phone, one was eating cheese popcorn and the other was admiring her manicure. Once I finally got their attention I was assured that we'd be in Philly in plenty of time to make our connection.

Still no flight crew. And as a bonus, the weather was deteriorating by the minute.

Just before 8:00 the flight crew sauntered to the gate. Call me crazy, but if I was over an hour late and had a plane full of people waiting for me on Christmas Eve, I would have at least made an effort to appear to be in a hurry. Maybe just the last 10 yards. But not these guys. The captain just smiled and waved. He leaned over and made a joke to one of the flight attendants. They all laughed. The passengers that had been waiting for them? Not so much.

By this time, everything was bothering me. Like the gaggle of teenagers in their pajamas. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I still have trouble with the concept of 'jammies as outerwear. Flights are uncomfortable. Suck it up.

Or the woman who had a cup of coffee and two Cinnabons and left the garbage on the chair next to her when she got up.

Or the guy two seats down whose music was so loud I could hear it over all the other noise in the airport.

Or the guy on the other side of me who took up the armrest and more than his share of my personal space. Did I mention he was in sweatpants? They bug me too. I figure they are the grown-up version of traveling in pajamas.

By this point, everything was bugging me. I felt like a kid in the back seat on a long car trip whining "Da-ad, he's touching me." And we haven't even boarded. This was not shaping up to be a good day.

We finally got on the plane. Then it had to be de-iced etc. Ice wouldn't have been a problem if the crew hadn't been late. By the time we took off from Chicago we'd already missed our connection. Big. Heavy. Sigh.

While we were int he air, the captain was thoughtful enough to let us know why they were late. Apparently it was all his fault. He looked at his Tuesday schedule instead of his Wednesday schedule. Ummmm....and not a single other person on the crew double checked. And I have entrusted my life to these people.

Too make things worse, it was a rough flight. We had turbulence all the way. The seat belt sign never went off. The crew wasn't allowed to do beverage service. One poor woman got up to use the restroom and was chastised over the PA system. "If you are out of your seat, it is at your own risk". Kind of adds insult to injury. (I'm sure this was a safety precaution, but it felt more like the airline was just covering its tail.)

We did get to Philly in one piece. And to their credit, the airline had boarding passes waiting for us for the next available flight. Unfortunately, it was three hours later which put a cramp in the day I'd hoped to spend with my mom.

This was the first time I'd flown with this particular airline and the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. I was fully prepared for weather delays. But I had trouble stomaching not having a flight crew. I would have even given them some slack if they hadn't seemed so darned cavalier about the whole thing. I wasn't expecting a free flight or anything like that, I just wanted it to seem like they cared and the attitude we got all day was at best of disinterest and at worst disdain.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

To add insult to injury

When we came into work yesterday, the subzero temperatures over the weekend had frozen the pipes. So there was no water. No water, no dyeing. So we all went home early.

Too much water at home, no water at work.

Is someone playing games with me?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Word of the day: Scupper

1. Nautical. a drain at the edge of a deck exposed to the weather, for allowing accumulated water to drain away into the sea or into the bilges. Compare freeing port.
2. a drain, closed by one or two flaps, for allowing water from the sprinkler system of a factory or the like to run off a floor of the building to the exterior.
3. any opening in the side of a building, as in a parapet, for draining off rain water.

In this case, the third definition is the most descriptive. The scupper is the box up at the top of the wall, right by the roof. Ideally, the scupper and its adjoining drainpipe force the water away from the building so it doesn't end up pooling on the roof. It helps avoid undue wear and tear to the roof and is designed to help avoid leaks.

Did you notice the word "ideally" a couple of sentences back? Sometimes reality raises it's ugly head and things don't work so smoothly. They become "less than ideal". Like if the scupper gets all full of ice from the freezing and thawing and freezing again so that the water can't get down the drainpipe.

Then the ice overflows and sticks to the masonry.

Then when it starts melting, it can leak into the building. Sometimes it gets so bad that the neighbor downstairs might call expressing concern about the water coming into her apartment. She might think it was an overflowing toilet. Or maybe a radiator problem.

But no, it was just the scupper and drainpipe. And water being water, it doesn't matter what the source. All the rooms in a vertical line from the scupper have water damage. Ours isn't as bad as some of the others.

But there is still going to be a bunch of wall and ceiling repair done. And we don't have that in the budget.

Thank goodness it's in the extra bedroom and we aren't expecting a houseful of holiday guests.

How's that for finding a silver lining?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Multi Tasking

Earlier in the year, this holiday plate showed up. I'm not sure where it came from or who brought it in. I'm guessing it was a thrift store find somewhere along the line.

We're a pretty frugal bunch around here and all our dishes get used regardless of the season. The holiday plate saw asparagus in the spring, tomatoes in the summer and lots of pumpkin this fall. But now we're in the midst the the season and it's time for our little plate to shine.

Sam brought in the gingerbread cutout cookies today. The pile was significantly bigger earlier. They're really good and we've been enjoying them with abandon.

The gifts in the background are for the Secret Santa exchange we're doing as soon as lunch gets here. It's the last day before Kylie and Caitlin take off for vacation so we're having a little celebration.

The next couple of weeks are going to be a bit spotty around here. Just about everyone is doing some traveling. I'm heading out Christmas Eve to spend some time with my mom.

But I digress.

Our little plate can do more than hold cookies. Just last week it did duty as a hat blocker.
Caitlin flipped it over and put her dampened Selbu Modern hat on it and let 'er rip.

Isn't the pattern pretty? She has enough of the sock yarn left over to do a pair of gloves using the same charts. I think she's going to reverse the colors though.

The finished product is spectacular. And the colors are wonderful with Caitlin's fair skin and red hair.

Gotta run, lunch is here!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lights, Camera Action

Not too long ago, we got a note from Jenn Jarvis asking us for a skein of Shepherd Worsted in 41ns China Blue. She was a little sketchy about what she wanted it for. She said something about a movie but that was about it. It was very cloak and dagger-y. We were suitably impressed by the idea of our yarn being mentioned in the same sentence as a the word "movie" and sent it right away.

Imagine our delight when we finally got the details! Jenn designed a human-sized sweater based on one worn by Coraline, the little girl in the movie Coraline, based on the book by Neil Gaiman that's coming out in February.

You can go to the website and maneuver around to find the pattern, or cheat and go here. Or follow it here on Ravelry.

There's been quite the buzz about this movie lately. Amy Singer over at wrote about a box she recieved about two weeks ago. Wendy got one too. Me jealous? Ummm. well maybe the tiniest bit.

This is part of a viral marketing campaign for the film. I am intrigued with the viral marketing thing. I just heard they are doing something with alphabet cards. Not sure what that is yet.

We are living in interesting times.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Tale of Two Colors

A couple of people asked what the mistake I made dyeing the first non-prototype skeins of Roadside Gerry looked like. The skein on the left is the snafu, the one on the right is good.

I know my photography isn't the best, but you should be able to see that the color at the top of the skein on the left is greener than the one on the right. That would come from the 1/4 green I used rather then 1/4 grey.

Don't get me wrong, both colors are beautiful, but the one on the right is the one Annie and I worked so hard to create.

Don't you think it does a better job of reflecting our inspiration? The green-y one brings to mind ocean rather than sky. And the other tones, the golds, rusts and browns are of-the-earth rather than of-the-sea so they end up looking better together.

Nature is pretty amazing. I get alot of guidance from her.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Did you see Laura Chau's Amelia sweater in the new Knitty?

I just love this design. Feminine without being saccharine. Stylish without being too trendy. It would be perfect with a pair of jeans but you could dress it up too.
Plus it's sized for all kinds of bodies. I just love that Knitty does that.

It looks like a go-to sweater to me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roadside Gerry

It's here! It's here! The third installment of Color Commentary.

Annie Modesitt was in the driver's seat this time around and look what she came up with!

We're calling it "Roadside Gerry". It's in honor of Annie's husband, Gerry Landy. He's been battling Multiple Myeloma and fighting the good fight. Annie has written a book talking about their first year after diagnosis.

I thought it would be nice to hear about how this colorway came around from Annie's perspective. So without further ado:

I love Autumn. To paraphrase my kids, I love it so much I could marry it.

Common wisdom is that the world comes alive in the Spring,but for me the metamorphosis that is Autumn has always been a time of exciting beginnings.
I love the clear air, the crispness, the cool nights and warm days. But mostly I love the colors. The glorious golds, magentas, and one thousand shades of green
compete with the richest blue sky of the year. Thrumming along behind the bright shades is an amazing richness of brown, deep and dark, or mild and calm.

Change is often very hard. Last year my husband,Gerry, was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a terminal blood cancer that affects - in my husband’s case - the bones and bone marrow. We struggle to be honest with each other, and to embrace the changes
that this disease brings instead of fighting them. We use our energy to fight the disease.

The Autumn metamorphosis makes it easier for us to understand the inevitable final phase of life as an evolution that every living thing must pass through. In the purest non-religious sense, Autumn helps me to find peace with the concept of death, and what may lie beyond.

While pondering these heavy thoughts in a long drive through Wisconsin this October, I rounded a curve and before me was a landscape so lovely I had to stop. As I
got out of the car with my camera I thought, “Gerry will really dig this - he loves these colors!”

Gerry and I love car trips. Our honeymoon was a long drive up and down the Hudson Valley in New York, our favorite vacations have been driving ones. We love the
forced intimacy of a car, the diners and historical markers along the way, the pure joy of making a journey together.

When Beth Casey asked me to think up a palette for a new colorway for Lorna’s Laces in honor of Gerry and his ongoing fight against Multiple Myeloma, I immediately thought of the Wisconsin roadside photo. Here is the photo I took along the road, with individual colors that were eventually used in the dyeing process pulled out.

I’ve long felt that Beth is a true artist of dyeing, but the experience of working with her to create a colorway for Gerry confirmed my belief in her artistry. I feel
that she’s captured the beauty and freshness of that lovely Autumn day by the side of the road in Wisconsin in this stunning colorway.

Yeah, made me cry too. And blush a little.

It's shipping to your LYS right now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dang, I hate it when I do that!

One of the things I harp about constantly around here is paying attention to details. None of the work we do is terribly difficult, but there are a billion little details that can totally derail things if we don't pay attention to them.

Case in point:

1/2 blue + 1/4 green is NOT equal to 1/2 blue + 1/4 grey.

Two little letters, two completely different colors.

To add insult to injury, we made not one, not two, but three dyelots of the colorway with the wrong color.

And who would be the moron that didn't double check? That thought something looked a bit off but didn't take the time to walk ten feet and make sure? Ummmm, that would be me.

Whew! At least I'm pretty sure I won't fire me!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kylie's First Socks

Kylie finished her first pair of socks. They are a Christmas present for her sister, Noni. Can you see where she spelled out the name on the legs? How freakin' cute is that?

Friday, December 5, 2008

A little silliness to head into the weekend

Stef (on the left) wrote the pattern. It's here. And on Ravelry.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I have the browns

Over the weekend, I decided it was time to break down and buy a new winter coat. I've had the old one for at least ten years. I even had it re-lined a couple of years ago to make it last one more season and stretched that into two. But it was looking pretty tired. I figured what with all the sales, the holiday weekend would be a good time to pick one up. The new coat is a beautiful, deep, chocolate brown.

In the past, most of my coats have been black. Chocolate is a departure for me. I know it's cliche, but there is something about living in big cities that makes people gravitate towards black. It may be silly, but it's true.

There's the old saw you hear every year about some color or another being the new black. Ridiculous. Olive is not the new black. Grey is not the new black. Brown is not the new black. Black is black. There's nothing new about it.

But, then I looked at my knitting basket. There was brown everywhere. My February Lady is Chocolate Green Line Worsted. The second iteration of it is coming along nicely, don't you think?

I'm pleased with how far along I am. I've done about 16 inches and I'll want it to be 24 or so. Then the sleeves. I'll likely make this a long sleeved sweater instead of three quarter. More on that a little further down.

Here is a pile of yarn that is destined to be accessories for my new coat. I'm thinking these will be some kind of color work hat and mittens.

Not the Entomology set that Sam just finished, but something of that ilk. Maybe Mary Ann Stephens' Postwar Mittens in the current Twist Collective. I'm intrigued by the color work right now. Time to dive in.

Last are two skeins that I picked up at the salon the last time I got my hair cut. These are from the alpaca farm that is owned by the same guys who own the salon. I made a scaruffle last year from yarn I got from them. That yarn was spun from the fiber of an alpaca named Pinto Bean. I don't know the name of this years donor. It wasn't marked on the skein and no one that was there that day knew. I'll find out next time I'm in for a trim.

It's an interesting two ply and I have about 20 ounces of it. I'd like to do some kind of sweater. I'm kind of fussy about wanting long sleeves. Growing up as a six foot tall teenager, I had countless blouses and sweaters with sleeves that were too short. I know three quarter sleeves are all the rage, but somehow they just don't seem right. They make all those horrible memories of standing awkwardly in the lunchroom with my tray searching for a friendly face come rushing back.

I bought all they had of this yarn but now that I'm taking a good look at it, I don't think that there's going to be anywhere near enough. There was some other stuff that would coordinate nicely. Maybe some stripes or something. I think I'll head back over this evening and see if there's anything that will fit the bill.