Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Running Away From Home, Mature, Level: Advanced

I wish to make an announcement.

I want everyone to know that I am now in possession of the PERFECT HUSBAND!  What gives my (admittedly) flawed spouse this title?  It's easy.  He has run away from home.

The company he works for, (Pirates Arrr Us) relocated to Spokane Washington.  Which, if you are counting is about 500 miles from Portland, where we currently live. When I heard of the impending move, my response was "Bye, have a nice life!"  Because, Spokane... really?  Really not.

My (admittedly) flawed husband (let's call him "Bruce") explained that he really wanted to work for Pirates Arrr Us for a longer time, to improve his resume, not that it needs improving IMHO.  He also told me that his co-driver (we'll call him Del) was going to move, and that Del wanted to retire in about a year (or so) and he REALLY wanted Bruce to keep working with him, and the company REALLY liked them working together... SO... he wanted to go. Well, now I know where I stand.  Firmly Behind Del.

I looked at rentals in Spokane, and they were running about a thousand a month, so I started perusing the realty websites.  Hmmm.  Houses are fairly inexpensive in Spokane.  The kernel of an idea was formed.

Long story short, my 16 year old daughter gave up her Spring Break (which is costing me a trip to GameStop) and we ALL went to Spokane, house shopping.  After alienating a realtor or two, we found a FSBO and made them an offer they couldn't refuse.  We close on Monday.  It is a great house, and the price was right.

Bruce has been living in a Motel (which is not as fun as it sounds) and is really ready to buy a bed and start camping in the house.  He is done with Kentucky Fried Chicken and Carls, Jr..  His cardiologist will be pleased.

While we were in Spokane, I kept my eye out for flaws in the fabric of this Capital of Nowhere.  There is Trader Joe's.  There is Papa Murphy's.  There is Home Goods and a bunch of Chinese Restaurants, some Asian grocery stores, Vietnamese Restaurants (although the sign painters cannot seem to spell Pho correctly, and neither does this program.  Trust me, there are whisker things on top of that O that are missing), and a bunch of Wincos.  I googled everything I could think of that I require to live anywhere.  It was all there, with one exception... IKEA.  Well.  As a bonus, they have something not readily available in Portland, a SONIC.  Dear daughter was quite pleased with that, as she has a slight addiction to their frozen lemonade.  There is also the most amazing yarn shop two minutes from the house (12 if I walk), and three Quilt shops, but that's another post.

That said, I'm still not moving.  I have a kid who is a Junior in High School and I would never EVER make her move her Senior year.  So WE are staying in Portland and Bruce is moving to Spokane.  He has done the adult thing, bought a house and run away from home.  I MIGHT consider moving at a later date, if I decide I can do without IKEA, we shall see.

What about this creates the PERFECT HUSBAND?  You might well ask.  Here's how it works.  I don't have to cook for him,  I don't have to wash his clothes.  I don't have to clean up after him.  I don't have to listen to him. I do not have to fight for the blankets.   I do not mysteriously run out of wine. I do not have to accommodate him in ANY way.  And here's the kicker... I STILL GET HIS PAYCHECK.  Perfect.  Ab-so-freakin-lutley Perfect!  He is now the husband of my dreams.

So far, I have fixed the kitchen sink drain and mowed the lawn.  It's not so bad.

Monday, September 29, 2014


I have been hired to teach an eight week knitting seminar for ACTUAL adults!  I know, the reality of conversation may kill me.

Anyway, last week I went through my pattern hoard and weeded out the kitty hats and pencil cases and cutie backpacks in mini-sizes.  I added some prayer shawls and coffee cup cozies and a couple of shawls.  I should be good.

First class is on the dishrag.  They all want to do the dishrag.  We talked about how you can extrapolate the dishrag to a shawl (actually a hap) by knitting it looser, and bigger and stopping in the middle.  I used the word  extrapolate!  Actually, I used the word extrapolate with my kids, then I explained the word "extrapolate".  Never pass up an opportunity to increase vocabulary!  I'm taking a sample of a poncho using the dishrag (which we found while cleaning "Herself's" Room this weekend) to class tonight.  We shall see what they make of that!

Kind of nervous!  Working with adults is a different set of challenges.  It's a great group, and they are all motivated (something which is occasionally lacking in kids).  Adults are actually less easy than kids, because they do not necessarily believe that you are the ultimate authority. They question different things. They also do not take no for an answer. 

I actually wrote down the Simply Spiffy Hat Pattern today.  I usually just give oral instructions, because I want to encourage thinking, but adults like things on paper, in front of them.  They do not "fly by the seat of their pants" as easily as kids.  Also, they do not yet believe that I have Knitting Magic like the kid-knitters do.  They will in time!

On another front, I posted 7 Circular Dishrags and 7 Circular Baby Washcloths on Etsy today.  They are the same pattern, and I am taking bets on which sells first.  No telling.  Watch this space for developments!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Adventures in Linear Thinking

Adventures in Linear Thinking

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my phone.  My phone connects me to the world, my friends, my business.  It provides me with the name, address, hours of operation and directions to the nearest Vietnamese/Ethiopian/Barbecue restaurant no matter where I roam.  My Smartphone and I have a wonderful relationship.

However, like all relationships, it has its problems.  One of these is my
ToDo list.  I am a list maker.  I have friends who swear I have a list for everything, and somewhere (they are sure) is a list of lists.  Here is where my smartphone and I have relationship problems.

I have downloaded probably fifteen “ToDo” apps.  None of them are quite right.  I finally found a British one which works okay, but is less than ideal.  At least it understands when I spell things funny.  I have a memo app, a sticky-note app and a “reminder” app that dings incessantly for 15 minutes prior to any appointment (it’s like having an electronic mom).  I thought I could adjust.  I have tried.

I think the problem stems from the way the designers of apps brains work.  They think linearly.  “If A then B” is hardwired into the app writing process.  Theoretically, this should make those list apps work like silk.  Until they run up against my system.  My lists are many and varied.  They encompass subjects as diverse as knitting patterns in progress and garden plans.  They are cross-referenced (“See Garden List - item 14” in the middle of the Shopping list).  It doesn’t work with the app writer brain.

For years and years in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I carried a small book.  It was slightly bigger than a brick, and only slightly less heavy, bound in leather with a zipper closure.  It had a calendar in it, and lots of lists.  Cross-referenced and vaguely coordinated lists for various tasks, as well as graph paper for sketching out ideas… I called it “THE BRAIN”.  But when smart phones arrived, I put The Brain away.  I was embracing technology.  I would adapt even if it killed me.

I tried.  I did.  I worked with the list apps, I deleted the list apps, I downloaded a new and better list app every other month, looking for the random access list app of my dreams.  No dice.  I now make lists on the backs of envelopes and find them in my purse months later.  Irrelevant. 

So, smartphone, I love you, but I went upstairs and dug through my office.  I found “The Brain”, its last calendar dated 2006.  It was dusty and needed some leather balm, but I found it.  I’m going back to the Cathy System of lists (there is a list of lists… it’s in the front).  The random, seemingly disconnected paper-trail that I have missed.  And the graph paper.  It’s still in there, it’s been waiting for me to come back.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Trip to Nerdvana

I am old.  I roamed the earth as a child with dinosaurs as companions.  Electricity was a latecomer.  I say this as a disclaimer for what is to follow.  I was a Nerd before Nerdism was cool.  I was a Nerd before it was mainstreamed and there were Nerd gatherings on a large scale.  That is why I am jealous.

I recently attended LeakyCon in Portland Oregon with my teenage daughter (because none of her friends could afford to go and I was not going to let her go by herself).  For those of you out of  the know, LeakyCon is a gathering of fans of the Harry Potter Novels (Potterites).  They have quite kindly opened their doors to fans of Supernatural (Supernaturalists) and fans of the Doctor Who series (and its spin-offs) (Whovians).  Thus it has become a polyfandom of epic scale.

I found myself, one Friday morning, surrounded by approximately 4,000 people much younger than I.  They were attired in fan t-shirts, Etonesque black robes with fetching accessories of appropriate House Colors, Fezzes, Bow Ties, grey wings and robes, wands and Top hats with goggles.  Many roamed the place in duplicates of the school uniform that, as a British schoolgirl in the ‘70’s I would gladly have burned if given half a chance.  They admired each other’s regalia with an eye to detail and much complimenting.  I haven’t seen such fashion scrutiny since Milan, but these children (yes, to me you are children) were so NICE to each other!  I watched.

Part of LeakyCon is seminars and meetups.  They are first come first served, so you stand in many lines.  Any line of 50 or so people generally visits among their immediate party (also standing in line), or leans against a convenient wall, waiting for the cue to enter.  Not this crew.  They all talked to each other, they sang songs from their particular fandom (helping others who were not as familiar with the words), they compared notes on episodes, movies or how the book was better.  They staged wand and sonic screwdriver battles.  They snuck up behind you and raised their angel hands in menacing pose so your friend could snap your startled expression on their smartphone.  It was a barely controlled riot.  However, even the people in the seminars (who I’m sure could hear the fandom in the hallway) were not upset.  When their seminar ended, they exited the room and joined the fray with smiling faces.  When the doors opened, our hallway gathering entered in a scrum and found seats next to all our new friends.

I am a good judge of people.  I can spot an apoplectically shy person a mile off.  There were lots of them in this room.  People who would no more raise their hand in class than fly up and bounce off the ceiling.  But THIS is LeakyCon.  These fragile egos leapt from their chairs and shouted ideas across the room to universal applause.  When there was a lull they chatted among themselves like old friends.  Well, I guess they were, as they had met ten minutes ago in the hallway.  A girl with blue hair, a tie as a headband and a Whovian t-shirt spent 10 minutes chatting with my daughter about Silurians.   

Some of the meetups (which are not lectures but guided discussions) for various fandoms were just a comparison of ideas for new adventures your favorite book characters, tv or movie stars could have.  There was universal condemnation for one tv writer who has a penchant for killing off female characters.  “Don’t remind him that Rose is still alive, although in an alternate universe or he’ll find a way to kill her off too.”  There were costume contests within the meetups, with applause as the gauge.  I still have no idea who won, as everyone got enthusiastic applause.

We went to a seminar given by an internet personality of universal appeal, Hank Green.  He and his brother have developed YouTube videos watched by everyone (except me, remember?  I am old).  He walked to the podium and asked.  “How many people were in line at the autograph signing that didn’t get my autograph?  Raise your hands.”  He then walked around the immense room to those with their hands up and signed an autograph for each one.  There was no grumbling that we only had an hour of his time.  The universal warm-fuzziness was that he was SUCH a NICE GUY for doing that.  Remember, I am surrounded by mostly 14 – 25 year olds, a demographic group not known for kindness or patience for others.  He then proceeded to entertain us with rapidfire humor, questions about why the internet is the way it is and why the information age has not really embraced the topics we need information ON (Good point Hank).  Like sex.  Wow.  We sang songs and he reminded us DFTBA.  (More on this later)  During the autograph signing, I had a discussion with the young lady next to me about my daughter’s scarf, my own knitting, and where we got the sonic screwdriver my daughter was packing.   She gave me her name and email. 

The vendor mall was an experience.  I was glad I had a guide.  I do pretty well with Potterite stuff.  I am an ancient Nerd, so I had each and every Potter novel delivered to my door by 8 am on the day of release (having a job and money has some percs), and had read most of them by the next day.  Then I loaned them to the kid next door so he didn’t have to wait for the Library copy. 

I am well versed in wands, Houses, hats, house elves and Quidditch.  By the way, they had duplicates of my old Prefect badge for sale for thirty five bucks.  When my daughter figures out that my ancient Hanoverian Prefect badge is the perfect Hufflepuff yellow she is going to DIE!!!!  However, my Whovian knowledge has gaps as I stopped watching at four and did not start again until nine.  If you don’t know what that means, it’s okay.  It just means you are a normal person.  Also, I had never watched Supernatural.  This is a problem which I have now corrected through the miracle of Netflix streaming.  Now not only am I afraid of the dark, shadows, stone angels, astronauts, water, spiders, clowns and duct tape, but I carry salt with me wherever I go.  I guess it goes with the pepper mill, but it serves an entirely different purpose.

On the train going to LeakyCon the following morning, I spotted three people with purple wristbands and/or large neck badges that identified us as LeakyCon attendees.  We gave each other the Leaky salute (Tag or wristband rampant) and were immediately besties.  We helped out-of-towners with directions and discovered a heretofore unknown Whovian hangout in Portland. By the way, do not assume that LeakyCon only attracts the uniquely Portland brand of Nerdist.  No.  I met people from Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Florida, Montana and all across Canada.  All had paid train, airfare or gas money to get to LeakyCon.  Not to mention the entrance fee.  These are dedicated people.  One recent High School Graduate who will be attending Art School in Philadelphia and has her eye on Pixar as a career sat next to me in a seminar.  If Pixar has any sense they will get her name and email address immediately.  She is driven.

One of the LeakyCon events was an attempt to break a World Record.  No large gathering of humanity is complete without this.  We were told that the attempt to break the World Record in Number of People Simultaneously Wearing False Moustaches was in our sights.  Three pm.  Be there.  So, we were.  So were approximately 2500 of our new best friends.  We joined the line which wound from the door of the assembly hall, through the rotunda of the Convention Center, around to the other side, up the escalator, back around the second floor of the rotunda and out in to the upper hallway of the Convention Center.  Volunteers passed out wristbands and gave us directions to hold our wrist up so the camera could see the band as we entered the hall.  At a prearranged signal, we all donned our moustaches (provided).  We sat and sang Nerdist songs and amused ourselves for five minutes and then beat the record by about 1,000 people.  The Guinness people have yet to confirm, but we totally did it.  Then another mystery was solved for me.  I discovered who StarKid was/is/are.  StarKid is a group of people who created “Harry Potter, The Musical”.  They gave us all a concert after the World Record attempt.  There was much singing along and swaying.  Everyone seemed to know all the words to all the songs.  I had no idea there even WAS a Harry Potter, the Musical, but the music was great!

The organizers of LeakyCon provided comfy chairs around rugs in the Vendor Mall for when you just wanted to sit and watch the weird world go by.  This was convenient, as it gave me an opportunity to sit and observe.  I was stopped and asked where I got my lunch, what I was knitting, where my daughter got her scarf, where the Quidditch Match was and a young man sat and chatted to me about the various merits of The Lord of the Rings versus Potter fandom.  We both agreed that if you can get through all 7 Potter novels that Tolkien should be a walk in the park.

I learned a lot at LeakyCon.  I learned that what I was as a child and young adult was and is okay.  And even though I now have grey hair and am old enough to drink in all 50 states and every country in Europe, I can still have a good time surrounded by other (much younger) people who now have a support group for their Nerdiness.  They are validated in ways I never was.  I learned that there are people who will buy t-shirts that boldly state “THE BOOK WAS BETTER”.  I found out that an artist with a Badge-a-Minute can make a mint selling badges that say “Friend of the OOD” and “The Angels Have the Phone Box”.  I also learned the Nerdfighter Salute and what DFTBA means.  I learned the meaning of support group (4,000 of your closest friends in a Convention Center).  I was a marginal presence, but never felt excluded, even though you can reference the grey hair and dinosaur comments.  I learned I was born 40 years too early to be a Nerd.  I am so happy that the Nerds have finally embraced their fandom and become Nerdfighters.  Thank you all for the experience of attending LeakyCon.  Don’t Forget To Be Awesome (DFTBA)!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lace on a Plane

In this world there are things which are inherently wrong. The list is long and varied.  Who knew one of these was a lace shawl in economy class on a European vacation?  Yet here I sit, me and my WIP shawl.  I was going to get a lot accomplished, after all, I have ten hours of sitting, right?  I was going to get at least to the next pattern change. Guess not.

First on the list of "why nots" is the sheer number of people on the plane.  They walk by, they jostle elbows, they squirm.  Heck, I squirm.  Who designed these seats?

Second, evidently my brain goes into a test pattern on a plane.  Yarn over, slip-slip knit becomes equivalent to string theory.  Incomprehensible to my poor brain.  I have often referred to economy as 'cattle class', and apparently it's what I deserve.  Moo.

Third on my list is the service.  I have not flown for a long time.  Okay, a very long time.  All right, Lindbergh was the pilot on my last flight, okay?  I had heard horror stories of starvation in economy.  Evidently things have gotten better, or passenger abuse has not filtered into Delta because so far we have been served drinks (free wine and beer, even for cattle, yay!), lunch, more drinks, duty free, water, a snack, water and more water.  Right now. the breakfast trolley is on its way.  I know I fit this seat when I sat down in it, but will I be able to get out?

I have sat here, in this seat for eight hours.  I have finished one row.  I have written this, and I have questions.  How deep are the sock yarn and double points buried in my carry on?  Can I bend my stiff, sore, fat self far enough to extricate them from under the seat in front of me?  Why do I get stupid on a plane?  Is it the altitude?  Lastly, what am I going to do with all the peanuts and granola bars in the bottom of my pack?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Movies must stop this.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a couple of teenage girls to the movie "The Hobbit".  This experience and several others have caused me to formulate a complaint.

The movie was too heavy on swordfights and short on actual Tolkien to suit me, and I waited the entire movie for Smaug who remained elusive.  That, however, is not my major complaint.

Why do filmmakers have to distract me with knitting?  I spent a great deal of the movie working out the patterns of various knitted garments worn by characters in the movie.  As an aside, it is almost impossible to take notes in the dark confines of a theater.  I saw Dwarvish mitts, Hobbit vests as well as several other tantalizing glimpses of knitting flashing by on the screen.  Now I have to rent the DVD when it comes out and freeze frame at the exact proper moment....

While I am complaining about the Hobbit here, the worst movie of all time for perpetrating this outrage is "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" starring Johnny Depp.  I spent the entire movie chasing knitted garments and afghans across the screen, scribbling hieroglyphs frantically in the dark.  I'm sure people in the theater thought I was possessed.

So, movie makers of Hollywood (and elsewhere), if you are going to show cool knitted stuff in your films, at least have the courtesy to offer a pattern book in the lobby as I exit.  Thank you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Beginning Lace Knitting

Here's the sample for the Beginning Lace Knitting class that I'll be teaching at The Naked Sheep.  I call it Wandering Lace because it sort of ambles around....

It's a fun pattern, (my own) and it pretty much teaches you what you need to know to  stop be intimidated by lace knitting.  The folks at Naked Sheep seem to like it.  They want the pattern!  The class is on Nov. 27th and Dec. 4th.  I'm excited! (No one signed up for this class, so it was cancelled.  I was bummed. 11/25/13)

Working on a Guernsey (not the cow) sweater for another class sample, as well as thinking about a sample for an Aran design class.  I'm thinking about a tea cozy or a pillow.  Can't decide.  The Guernsey is knit in a color called Ruby, and it is working up BEAUTIFULLY!

On other subjects, the Fair is almost upon us.  Margo is working frantically to get her stuff done.  I have pretty much given up trying to get anything else finished.  We have to submit our stuff this Saturday, so I am pretty much serving in an advisory capacity at this point.

Margo has some needle felting, and some knitting and a bunch of canning.  She is also doing Table Setting this year and hoping for another Champion ribbon.  We'll see!