Friday, January 24, 2014

...And Now, I Nap


So, I'm sorry it has been a bit, but I attended so many events at Vogue Knitting LIVE...and there were SO many people to meet and see...that I didn't even get to write every story I wanted to write.

I usually get to write about the Marketplace, and then all of the fun extras VKLive has to offer, but I was tired after writing eleven articles.  I feel I did okay with the coverage, however.

So now I shall use this space to tell you what you missed!

First of all, Vogue LIVE is great in any city, but it's worth the field trip to New York if you have never attended that one.  The hotel is accommodating, and since it's smack in the middle of Times Square you have plenty of food, people-watching, and walking-direction options when you need fresh air.  But I will say, the Marketplace...umm...

Part of the reason I didn't get to write about the Marketplace is that, even though I took a boatload of photos, the place was JAMMED.  I had a hard time trying to talk to peole to get the inside scoop on their booths, and find out why they thought they were special or ordinary or noteworthy or whatever they thought about themselves.

Here are a couple of fun photos, however...

This was Laura Bryant's demonstration on how the eye sees color...we all thought we were pretty artsy, or at least had an average pallette in our heads, but quickly realized we were wrong.  She was great...very, very passionate and a great sense of humor to boot.  I went to two yarn shops in NYC on Monday just so I could see her yarns in person, since I don't get to see them too often here in Chicago.

This was the view from the end of the runway at the Marketplace fashion show.  See all of the people in the back?  Keep in mind, the aisles were probably eight feet's not like we were crammed in like sardines on purpose.  The place was just that awesome.

This is one of the items that was autioned off for charity, next to its magazine promo counterpart.  It's nice to see a piece that looks great in person, and actually looks wearable when it's styled, no?  I may have to go back and make this one after I finish Deb Newton's tunic from the 30th Anniversary issue.

I also finally met Trisha Malcom in person, which was a hoot.  She posted a message on my facebook page, asking if I was at the gala and saying she was dying to meet me in person, and then of course a few minutes later, one of my yarny friends from Chicago sent me a message which echoed my sentiments exactly:

"Trisha Malcolm posting on your facebook page is totally your Jennifer Lawrence moment."

So there was that...she's great as well.  I walked up to her right before she was scheduled to sign a bunch of books...I think we both had closure...ha ha ha.  Anyway, I was SO honored to cover the event because I meet such great people and I get these emails afterward from people I don't know, saying that they really appreciate me giving them a good snapshot of what it's like there.  I'm quite proud of that.

Some news...I got an email from a woman named Helen Hollyhead, who is a higher-up at, and to make a long story short, I've been asked to be a bi-weekly contributor to their blog.


So all of a sudden, I am going to have this British-based audience with a world-wide reach, since of course we are talking about the internet, and I get to talk about yarn all day for money.  Suddenly, the whole changing-jobs thing and the very ill-timed changing-houses thing are looking like the greatests pushes from God EVER.  I am looking so forward to this gig, and of course I will be promoting the crap out of the website because it's like a little community and it has all of my favorite products on it...yay!

I'm off to work, and then tomorrow I get to interview Shirley Paden so I have to get all of my stuttering out of the way on the drive to UIC...ha ha ha.  I'm getting the hang of this, though.  It's funny, because I grew up in Chicago and see famous people pretty often, but when I meet a famous yarnie, I just get all flustered and my first thought is, "Your brain is AMAZING!"  So yeah...I might need to nap before the event tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Is It New York Time Yet?

Hello! my head doesn't explode, I'll start with I'M GOING TO NEW YORK TOMORROW FOR VOGUE KNITTING LIVE!  Big deal, right?  Just a bunch of crazy cat ladies who get excited about yarn, right?

Well, I am one of those crazy cat ladies.  And I love yarn.  And some of the greatest characters I have ever met involve yarn and knitting.  So there.  Moving on.  Here is the preview I wrote for it...I can't wait to see my friend Kelly Fleek and all of the organizers of Vogue LIVE and the instructors and...gosh.  It's like the Oscars for knitting...EVERYONE is there.  And there is me, with my fedora and the little card that says "SCOOP" sticking out, shoving a microphone into the faces of the important and getting a nugget for the next story.

When last we spoke, I was finding focus.  I think there was a weak day after that where I really, truly lost focus.  I was sitting on the couch, knowing I had things to do but knowing also that I was not getting up because I could keep telling myself I didn't care, and I would keep believing it.  Transition is funny.  I ran across a video of Faith Hill singing "I Surrender All."  It's a gospel hymn about giving up the struggle and realizing you can't do it alone.  For some reason, I heard it inside and out, loud and clear.

So I focused.  I finished three knitting projects in one day, including a little iPhone cover and a hat that I was making out of Malabrigo Rios.  I wasn't sure of the hat, but a friend of mine said he wanted one, so I started asking typical knitter questions.

"What color?"  Something normal.
"Slouchy or beanie?"  Beanie.
"Are you allergic to anything?"  No.

So I finished the hat and finally was able to give it to the recipient yesterday.  Try not to focus on the eye-candy...I have insanely good-looking friends...and just look at the hat.

First thing he said when he tried it on was, "It's so SOFT!"  That's Malabrigo Rios for you.  When I saw him leaving my house, he was wearing it under his other winter hat.  It was the grownup version of the woobie.

So then I finished this simple cowl that was tying up my size US9 circular needles (and I wanted to start the Scotty Hat because I brought it up in conversation three weeks I needed the needles).  I also finished this little iPhone pouch, pictured here.  Oh, and a gauge swatch.

Here's the thing with the gauge swatch.  I did a figure-8 cast on of 80 stitches and knit until I finished up the little ball of Cascade Eco+ that I had left from the Yarn Crawl pattern last year.  I wanted to see how thick it would be if I felted it.  This is probably my favorite yarn of all drapes nicely, the colors are beautiful, the wool isn't itchy...nothing but good good goodness.

Then, I went to felt the swatch.

It started out at 7 inches tall by 9 inches wide.  It ended 4.5 inches tall by 9 inches wide.  Huh.

Part of the problem, I'm sure, is me.  I put it in cold water, went upstairs from the basement, went back down two minutes later, and I drained the basin.  Duh.  Clearly, coffee was not the order of the morning...a felted project in cold water is a bit of an impossible challenge.

Then.  I checked on it about every ten seconds.  Another duh...let the thing do its job!  But was a learning experience and I now know to use a different, thinner yarn with larger than called-for needles to make what I want to make.  And I have a beautiful prom clutch for the next time know...go to the prom.  I'm 38 and a half now, so I may get asked this year...

Anyway, I'm bringing the Scotty hat and the second pink sock with me to Vogue LIVE, and that's it.  That should leave plenty of room for yarn if, perhaps, a ball or two were to jump into my bag.  See you there...I will be live-tweeting, updating facebook, and writing about ten articles over the weekend.  My email address is and my phone number is 708-912-7338...feel free to contact me at any time over the weekend.  Yay!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Buck Stops Here

Usually, the new year is when people evaluate the past year, and resolve to make key points of opportunity better.  I apparently have to wait a few days to do that; big surprise, I was working on New Year's Eve so I was not exactly concentrating on my period of reflection.

However, I am now able to look at the past year, and this is what I see.  From solstice to solstice, here are a few of the key takeaways from my life:

1.  I told my husband I wanted a divorce.  I am not a fan of divorce, but walking away at the point of knowing I did everything...absolutely everything...that I possibly could do to save things made it the only decision I could make if I wanted to preserve my sanity.
2.  I was told my work situation needed to change.  Incidentally, I am always open to new opportunities, so if there are any job openings where you think I would be a good fit, pass it along.
3.  My dogs were involved in an attack, resulting in the deaths of two "innocent" dogs (including the beloved family pet of a very dear friend) and the loss of one of my two dogs.  There is nothing worse...and this is coming from someone who said goodbye to her high school sweetheart at his bedside...than saying goodbye to a pet who has no idea she did anything wrong, and moments beforehand is SOOO excited to be jumping up to eat her Canine Carryouts puppy treats.
4.  I went from being a landlord of two to a landlord of seven, practically overnight.  Too much.
5.  My house went on the market because I need a fresh start and to not be able to turn every corner of a room and see my marriage, and the place won't sell because (presumably) it's on a busy street and there is dust on the floor boards.
6.  I sprained my ankle and was basically inactive for three weeks.  Might not sound like a big deal to some, but I have the attention span of a fruit fly and my direction tends to change about as often as the next commercial break.
7.  The true love of my life came back, and left, and came back, and left, and...I don't know.  All I know is I see a ten-year cycle and I don't like cycles...I like swinging from branch to branch with a common finish line.
8.  I lost custody of some really odd stuff that affected my day-to-day activities.  Some, like the dog and cat, were given up in an effort to accelerate the breakup.  Others...well...I was left with a bunch of little goodbyes, like no toaster (but thank god I got custody of the toaster waffles), no microwave (but I have a pantry full of microwave popcorn), no pizza cutter, some odd-sized pots, tools, no normal light bulbs, no bathroom scale (mine), and my personal favorite...the margarine was thrown out but the cheese and sausage (two foods I don't eat) were left in the fridge.
9.  The anniversary of CJ's death hit me like a ton of bricks this year, but when I was bawling my eyes out for what felt like an irrational amount of time proportionate to the event, I decided that it was a wakeup call to do something awesome in his memory (see my last post for more info on that).

Through all of this, I realized I lost my confidence and focus.  It spilled over into my, I went to a yarn shop to help out a friend whose employees were all on winter vacation, and I brought a project bag with me.  In it was not a was part of a sweater, a second sock, half a hat, an almost-finished baby blanket, a recently-started scarf, and a voter registration card holder (gag gift for a friend).  This is not like me at all...I like to start things and then finish them.

So my reflections were short and to the point:  I looked at my year, decided it doesn't get much worse than this (and no, god...that is NOT a challenge), and noticed that the only things on that list that I could have controlled were things I wanted at the time I controlled them.  So what to do?

Simple.  Put it in Drive.  Eat better.  Get some fresh air.  Finish the knitting projects, not by knitting five rows of each every day but by finishing one at a time.  Get a new job.  Network.  Call upon the friends who have needed me in the past, because I need them now and true friends don't keep a balance sheet.  Continue to answer the phone when someone needs me in the present.  Offer up my spare bedroom.  Give rides.  Tell people I love them, and please, and thank you.

Most of all, focus.  Becoming the person I used to be may sound like a step back, but it is actually a giant and profound step forward.  The confidence will come back naturally.  And lord knows I've been asked out enough lately where the confidence should come roaring back, but I'm still waiting for Johnny Oduya to pick up the phone.

(Here's the sad part:  I joke so often about my crush on Johnny Oduya that if he ever DID pick up the phone, it would actually be his attorney with a member of law enforcement on the line as a witness.  Johnny, if you are reading, I promise I'm kidding and I would never, ever ever ever, stalk anyone, let alone a celebrity.  But I would still love to buy you a cup of java and just talk about lost loved ones and how beautiful Sweden is...I've been there.  And by the way I love your solid, consistent style of play and the fact that you are a defensive can block shots from other time zones and the Blackhawks are damn fortunate to have you.)

This school-of-thought resolution seems to be working for the first couple of days of the year.  I walked to my mechanic's place when it was one degree outside, and it felt great.  Of course, today I knit about five rows on three different knitting projects, but anyone who has ever owned a camera knows that focus is not instantaneous.

Focus is gradual.  It's progress.  It's driven.  I'm on it.

PS...I have a hand-written note from Brady which reads "Thank you for giving me focus."  No...thank YOU.