Thursday, March 29, 2007

Knitting on Business

I'm in Vancouver, WA on business this week--highly unusual for me these days. I used to travel on business all the time, and loved it. Now, I'm lucky if I travel 2 or 3 times a year for business. Sad, really.

Anyway, here I am, traveling with another person from my company. Last night he wanted to go into Portland to meet family. I took the opportunity to go to Powells Books in Portland and, while I was there, went looking for a local yarn shop open late. Good news--there is one. Well, there are lots of shops in Portland, and one even had a book signing of Mason Dixon Books going on. But they all close at 5 or 6.

So, one open to 9. Woo hoo! I was so excited. I found it with not too much trouble, and couldn't wait to be among other knitters, playing with yarn. Hmmmmm....lots of yarn, even some knitters, no welcome, no warmth, nothing. There were two people working, a man who seemed busy but was friendly, and the cashier who spoke with her co-worker but never said a word to me during the payment process (yes, I did buy yarn, of course) until finally she responded to a question about how to find the bridge.

First off, it's a pet peeve of mine when I'm buying something and the cashier/salesperson is chatting with others or never speaks a word to me except to name the price. It happens in grocery stores, McDonald's lines, and sometimes yarn shops. It's as though we're hiring people with zero people skills to interact with the public. But I remember from owning my own business how important it is to engage your customers in pleasant conversation--actually I wanted them to come back! I read the other day that the most important aspect of sales is that you need to make the customer like you in the first 5 minutes to make the sale.

But I know I'm not mad at that cashier--I won't call her a salesperson because she wasn't. She was just there to take the money--not to care what I was buying, what I would do with it, why I had chosen those colors. She was just there to record the sale.

I'm really disappointed because I had such high hopes. I have traveled all over the country and stop at different yarn shops every place I can. And most times it's magical--far away from home I'm at home, surrounded by people with like interests. In Portland, I was just in a store buying something that would remind me of Portland. But maybe not in a good way.

Anyway, I bought a Mountain Colors pattern for "The Portland Hat." Got to have that for souvenir value, even though it's way too hot for Hotlanta, even in the depth of winter, and even though I don't wear hats because of hat head. Oh, well, maybe for one of the grands. Then, a skein of Great Adirondack Yarn sock yarn in the Bluebells colorway. Then Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Wild Raspberry. Finally, one skein of Misti Alpaca Lace in a gorgeous deep wine color. I think it will make a beautiful shawl.

I don't know why I didn't buy the Lacy Lamb yarn I saw there. I checked it out at Why Knot Knit? in Highland, too, but then it seemed I'd never need laceweight yarn. Last night, it seemed possible. But (another gripe coming) the store's lighting was so poor, that, at night, I couldn't tell what any of the colors really were. I carried the Misti Alpaca around for 10 minutes, checking out different light sources, trying to figure out whether it was deep red or chocolate. Finally, I decided I really didn't care--the yarn was going home with me.

I Am What? Huh?

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Have I Mentioned That I Hate Blogger?

I just wrote a long post, with lots of photos of completed projects, and Blogger ate it.

I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Knitting Weekend

I have to work. I mean, there's no doubt about it. I'm going to be working until I have to commute on a walker. I have to work--cannot live without the paycheck, cannot begin to think about living without the paycheck.

But, I really want to knit. And two days a week aren't enough, especially when you have to do things like shop for groceries, hang out at Costco looking at vacuum cleaners with the semi-spouse, cook, and do other things that aren't fiber-related. All right, I did those things this weekend, but I also had some great knit opportunities. A good thing.

Dinner with friends (knit friends) on Saturday night. Although I've been to this friend's home many times, it was the first opportunity for the semi-spouse to hang out there, with other knitters and their spice. So, first of all, my friend and her husband have a beautiful home and I knew he would love it--on the water with a beautiful Florida room to sit and look over the water while you knit. (Oh, you mean you could do other things there, too? Read? Crossword puzzles? I suppose so, but why?) Anyway, I knew he would love the room, and maybe it would inspire him to build our very-much-smaller not-on-the-water screened porch. I can hope, can't I? And they have a dog for him to play with him. What more could anyone ask from an evening?

Second, while their home is absolutely lovely, beautifully decorated, it is not one of those precious homes with everything in its place. So I knew it would not be lost on the semi-spouse that there is a liberal sprinkling of fiber all over--a knitting project on a table, a bag of yarn on the floor by a chair, knitting books on the coffee table. Normal, right? And, give him credit, he got it, with only a little prodding from me. (See, honey? Other people have yarn around and it's fine!)

Finally, we knit. And that made it just about perfect.

On Sunday, I had thought I would get to church because another knitting friend had invited me to join her--her husband is the minister and the guest speaker was a pretty famous college football coach. That would have been fun but for various reasons, it didn't work out. So I went directly to our guild Shop Hop knit-in at Only Ewe and Cotton Too, a wonderful shop in Alpharetta.

I hadn't been there before, since it's quite a way from my home and when we lived in that direction, the shop wasn't there yet. The owner is one of our shop members and she and her husband are delightful people. We had quite a few guild members and there were a bunch of other customers knitting there, and it was great. Sat with some new (to me) people and had a wonderful time.

While I was there, I cast on a sock for Emma or Kerrigan--there will be two pairs of identical socks and there's no telling which one this was.

It went very quickly (Fixation yarn) and will be very cute with the Monica tops I want to make this spring.

Finally, yesterday (and yes, I know Monday isn't officially part of the weekend but I can dream, can't I?), another guild member and I met with a team from TNNA (The National Needlearts Association), a couple of local shop owners, and the Atlanta Braves about Stitch n Pitch. The Atlanta date is July 15 and I'll be on the organizing team. Should be lots of fun! And hot. Did I mention hot? We did get the Braves to rethink the seating they were putting aside for us and give us some shaded seats. July 15 in Hotlanta? Hot.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy birthday to three of my puglets

Most recent first: Lucy turned four on Friday, the 16th. She's really beautiful, but what always makes me laugh about Lucy is her ears, seen here in their full glory!

Here's Lulu, who didn't have a recent birthday but as the household terrorist and baby, always insists on being included.

Next, Lightning, who turned eleven on March 5:

Then, Bluto, nine on February 9 (I think):

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

We're In the News!

GOOD WORKS (copyright Atlanta Journal Constitution 3/8/07)

Knitters combat soldiers' chill

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/08/07

When Diana Baber takes a few minutes to work on knitting helmet liners for our American troops, she's carrying on a family tradition.

"My grandmother knit socks for soldiers in World War I and World War II," said Baber, president of the Atlanta Knitting Guild. "This tradition goes back to the Civil War days, when women knit socks for soldiers."

Members of the Atlanta Knitting Guild including (from left) Jean Guneysu, Karen Roman, Dana Lerner, Claudia Lang, Brett Parker and Elaine Wang create helmet liners for U.S. soldiers.

But instead of socks, today's soldiers are asking for wool helmet liners, which look like a ski mask, to fit under their helmets to keep their faces and necks warm in the brutally cold desert winters.

The project to make and send the liners overseas was started about three years ago by Linda Swinford of Auburn, Ill. Swinford said she was concerned when she heard a former classmate of her daughter was fighting in Iraq. When she heard he also was freezing in the frigid desert winter, she did more than just care — she took action.

"I learned about a pattern for helmet liners and I made him one," Swinford said. "He suggested some modifications; I made some more. Then I made some for his friends, then other people asked for them and I made more."

Soon, Swinford realized she couldn't keep up with the demand, so she asked other knitters for help. That was more than 11,000 helmet liners ago. The liners have been shipped all over the world, Swinford said, but most end up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Swinford said they also make neck coolers for the troops to help fight the summer heat, as well as scarves and blankets for wounded troops.

Baber said some Atlanta knitters from her group started working on the project about a year ago. The group plans soon to send about 200 helmet liners to Swinford, where she and her husband, Bob, sort, pack, and ship everything from their dining room table.

The liners must be made to military specifications, including color and material, Baber said, and are easy enough that any intermediate knitter should be able to make them. Cascade Yarns even donated skeins of wool yarn in the required colors, she said.

"We hope more knitters will join the project," Baber said. "Many people are looking for ways to support the soldiers. Here's a very tangible way to show your support."

For more information go to or Donations, which are all used to buy supplies or pay for postage, also can be sent to: Helmetliner, P.O. Box 236, Auburn, IL 62615.

A Weekend Without Knitting and an Update

As long as I can remember, knitting time has come in spurts. I worked two jobs most of the years when I had young daughters, and my time was at a premium. I knit for them, but it was catch-as-catch-can. Then I was remarried, then divorced and a single mother again, then self-employed and going to school full time. Then a grandmother. Now I have a very demanding job and shuttle between Georgia and North Carolina and, occasionally, Virginia. But it's still unusual these days for me to go four days with not one stitch.

Last Thursday I drove from here to Charlotte. The following morning K and I piled two of her kids into the car, went to J's house and picked up two more, and then drove to Virginia, where we picked up one more. Yes, two of us, five children. Not one stitch. Not one yarn store. No needles.

Then on Sunday, we drove back to Charlotte, and yesterday I drove home. Not one stitch. Couldn't wait to get home to my knitting -- ask me about my lace! -- but I was so tired, I never picked it up.

Tonight I will knit. I will finish the last Horcrux sock for CIC. I will finish the black helmet liner. And I will knit at least one pattern repeat of my lace scarf. I swear I will. I need to get back to what de-stresses my life.


Now about that lace. Every year some members of our knitting guild go to Highlands, NC and hang out at The Mountain for a weekend. I've never gone, for a combination of reasons. Mostly (a) I snore and (b) money. This year I decided I was going. My term as president is coming to an end and I wanted to have the pleasure of going there as president. Turns out, that part was totally meaningless. Knitters have no officers at The Mountain.

What a wonderful weekend. No program, no classes, not much of a schedule. Get up early, watch the sun rise with a cup of coffee and your knitting, knit all day, breaking for meals if you feel like it, and don't if you don't. Then change into your pajamas, and knit until your eyes close. Then repeat. What a perfect restful weekend. I'm only sorry that I had to cut the trip short by a day because I had a big deliverable at work.

While we were there, we drove into the town of Highlands to have lunch and visit a new shop recently opened by one of our members here in GA. Very tiny, very cute, maybe a little pricey but not bad. I went to look for a specific type of yarn (Silky Wool by Elsebeth Lavold) because I wanted to knit a lace scarf. I did buy it, but my friend Pat talked me into buying a hank of Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere to knit a delicate froth of a lacy scarf out of. $40! Then she sat patiently with me while I, a lace virgin, knit my first few repeats. I came home with about 5 inches of scarf. (There's way too much good conversation going on around the tables to make it good lace knitting territory--next year I'll take a big stockinette project!)

Snce then, my knitting time has been very light. And, of course, you can't (or at least, I can't) knit lace from a pattern set up on a magnetic board, using a cobweb, when you have pugs on your lap. Not happening. But I'm up to about 14 or 15 inches. Tonight I will knit lace.


Beth Brown-Reinsel came to our guild this month. I didn't know what to expect. I've never been very interested in Scandinavian knitting or fair isle. Oh, my...she was terrific! She spoke to us on Thursday night and showed slides of her knitting and the traditional knitting that she's passionate about. Then, on Friday, she taught a fair isle class. I was not good at it, but I did it! And what a nice person--some of us went to dinner on Friday and she was so pleasant and fun! Loved her! (And now I want to knit something fair isle--in my spare time!)