Gettin’ On the Grid

My computer works again, I’m a fiend!  I opened it and played two rounds of Scrabble, and there will be lots more of that before the day is done. 

I’m getting ready for future craft market days.  I made two hats, one in a child’s size in lovely Auraucania Yarns Atacama.  It is hand-dyed, supersoft 100% alpaca, very loosely knit for breathing.  The second is a crochet adult hat, made from Ullteppegarn in bright turquoise.  On the needles – another hat, in a royal blue wool-alpaca mix.  I’m planning more fingerless mitts before Atlanta.

Dayna and I pulled the metal booth grid rectangles off the floor and swiped off the spiderwebs.  We put brackets on so they will stand, replacing missing screws and nuts.  We also purchased a rolling cart that doubles as a dolly (yippee, a grown-up transformer toy).  I’ve decided that we’re making enough to make this a bit more efficient and less joint-killing.  With a decent looking, more professional booth set-up, we can probably sell more.  I purchased the grid pieces two years ago, but my first attempt at using them I was late setting up and without the proper tools.  I put them in the corner after that, foolishly deciding they wouldn’t do what I needed.  Several market visits later, I can see that they are exactly what I need. 

Chattanooga Market this Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, will host the Beast Feast – a barbecue contest with five samples for $5.  That won’t attract a few people, hmmm?!  I’ve already checked our booth location-same aisle, closer to the front.  I’m excited.

Peace.

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Taking Down the Family

I woke this morning at 4:30 and peeped out the window, looking for my snow.  All yesterday I trekked back and forth to the door, hoping to see white flakes on my lawn.  No such luck.  Meanwhile, my daughter at college southeast of here was getting six inches, and all over the south people were reveling in the rare commodity!  I actually got jealous and whiny about it.  That snow was supposed to be mine!  We haven’t had a good one in years, it was predicted, I was prepared, and it didn’t come.  Instead, the wind whistled around my house and shook the windows all day, and the temperature dropped, and I sulked. 

 

I was very productive while I sulked, however.  I took the smaller framed photos and art work off the walls and wrapped and packed it in boxes.  My heart sinks to see the blank spaces that are left, especially where I used to see the faces of my family and friends.  When I move into a new space, the first thing I do is hang my art.  In this house, I chose to put family photos on the walls of a hallway, and every trip through that passageway was full of good memories.  I wanted to cry as I took down the precious photos:  Dayna in her fancy dress and grungy sneakers, big smile on her face for that school picture; my best friend before the brain tumor, nurturing hands holding her baby girl; me during medical school, smiling with all the family at my baby sister’s wedding; Dayna as a thoughtful, serious baby; Dayna holding my dad’s hand and looking up at her “Poppy”; numerous reunion photos, all those Woods relatives lined up in sanctuaries or on church steps…I took photos out of the hall, off of tabletops and counters, off the walls of my bedroom.  This purging makes me feel an urgency to selling the house.  Who could live in a house without family? 

 

I’m going to have lunch with a friend who is family.  We used to be across-the-street neighbors.  She was younger than me and I probably wouldn’t have ventured across the street if not for her new baby.  That sweet boy, with his curly blonde hair, seduced me from across the street, making eyes at me and then hiding his face.  By the time he entered preschool, we were one family, sharing holidays and chores, calling on each other for help.  In school they asked my boy how many people in his family, and he named six:  him, his sister, mom and dad, and Dayna and Dr. Essie.  I can’t wait to move closer to them. 

 

I didn’t just pack this weekend.  I knitted.  Gasp!  Imagine!  The plus-size (50-inch hips) women’s top is coming along beautifully.  I love the way the three colors are blending, using two at a time, kind of randomly inserting one to four rows in turn. 

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It’s so gorgeous and springy!  The lightest shade is a very pale green, not white.  It’s a simple stockinette so far with a garter stitch hem.  There will be some shaping under the bust.  I have some spring/summer scarves in progress, too.

 

I haven’t heard from the Chattanooga Market yet.  My fingers are crossed.  I do want to be there as much as possible this year. 

 

I’ve promised to stay on time today. 

Peace.

Crochet Mitts, Handmade Selling, and the CPSIA

I’m in my house with my Friday night tv.  In two days I made two pairs of fingerless mitts for myself-the first one, from pink/purple/gray Kimono Angora, the second from Colinette Zanziba pale pink/gray/tan/teeny green.  They are both crocheted.  I also made a hairband or ear warmer from the Zanziba, complete with bow.  I am frustrated that camera troubles prevent me showing you.  I’m working on it.

 

As I’ve tried to expand my Etsy store, several issues have arisen.  Excuse me while I list them, but it makes them more orderly in my mind.  Actually, disorderliness of thoughts isn’t something that has bothered me in months.   I think all my lupus cerebritis symptoms have subsided-extra wonderful.  (Many thanks to the gods of B cell killing.)  Anyway, here goes:

1.  After the discovery of tainted toys made in China and sold by large U.S. manufacturers, Congress made an embarrassed knee-jerk reaction.  They passed a bill requiring testing of all children’s products in a particularly aggressive and expensive way.  As it is written, the bill (CPSIA) could put an abrupt end to small businesses that produce handmade childrens items-toys, clothing, bedding, anything that could be construed as made for use by a child under the age of 13.  There has been a rapid and intense response mounted by folks like me, and already concessions are being predicted.  You can read about it here, on change.org:  http://tinyurl.com/6cj92v
Hopefully, my http://turtletots.etsy.com still has a future. 

2.  I’ve joined two Etsy street teams, Etsy knitters and Etsy fiber arts, and I’m making acquaintances and enjoying the interplay of the two groups.  It could be a full-time job, just networking and communicating.  I have to figure out how to schedule this activity and make it an adjunct instead of a destination.  I’m enjoying the opportunity to help other members, I’m learning from members, and I have received a small increase in exposure, including two Treasury postings. 

3.  I must work on local exposure, and revival of the Chattanooga Etsy street team could be a large part of that.  Discussions in progress.

4.  I’ve gotta start my application for the Chattanooga Market.  March will be here before I can turn around.  I’ve already started making spring/summer scarves, and I want my other main item to be shells in natural fabrics.  By that, I mean womens sleeveless tops.  Probably tops for kids, too.  This will be fun.  I love going to the market, and I’m so much healthier that I know I can handle it alone this spring. 

 

Okay, now that we’ve said that, let’s get to today’s dinner.  Couple of days ago I read a recipe from Allrecipes.com with African-style beans and peanutbutter.  I know it sounds weird, but it’s a wonderful combination.  I cooked pintos and diced onion in my crockpot until tender, then added a can of diced tomatoes.  I didn’t have any peanutbutter so I used a half-cup of tahini (sesame butter), mixing it in well and letting the whole thing simmer a little longer.  I seasoned it with salt and Neo Masala seasoning from Alchemy Spice (see http://alchemyspice.com).  I had a little avocado on the side, and some whole grain bread.  Utterly heavenly. 

 

There’s a blog I’ve been keeping from you, but I cannot hide it any longer.  The young student who writes  Everything Up Close (http://everythingupclose.blogspot.com) has an uncanny ability to select great products for review.  Most of the companies that give her items for review also let her conduct a drawing for one of their products.  She has introduced me to some fabulous products.  Last week, she presented something that made me say “Hallelujah!”  If you are tired of looking at young (and occasionally old) women whose rear view consists of a shirt tail and low-rise jeans that do not touch, you will love the “Hip-T”.  Check it out here:  Everything Up Close: Hip-T Review & Giveaway!   If you go quickly, you might get in on the giveaway.  I couldn’t wait that long.  My daughter is getting one for Valentine’s Day.  I wish I could stand on the street corner and distribute them.  President Obama needs to give serious thought to requiring them before his daughter’s reach That Age.  You know, the age of the reveal.  The age of the exposed thong.  The Bare Age. 

 

Okay, time to go.  Getting obsessive. 

Peace.  Big ol’ sweet, smooshy peace.

Sneaky Knitting for an Abstract Hat

I’m feeling a little guilty.  Not being one to keep a secret about my own errant behaviour, I must confess.  I have been sneaking in new knitting projects.  Sometimes I show them without saying that they were not planned and just bogarted their way into the heirarchy of things on needles.  Sometimes I don’t even mention them.  Sigh.  I am a lying, cheating, sneaky knitter.  And I don’t think change is a-comin’. 

 

Sometimes I start a new project as I am walking out the door.  I wait until the last minute to pack my purse, and then I realize that I don’t have any emergency knitting, and I grab a ball and some needles.  I learned long ago not to go anywhere without either emergency knitting or an emergency book.  I do not sit and wait very well.  I get cranky and stiff and bored and miserable.  Annoying occurences choose me as the site of their parties, and I become even more unpleasant.  I don’t explode, I do that snipping thing.  A little snip over here, a little snip there, being snippy all around, I grouch and grumble my way through the wait.  Much of this unpleasantness takes place in my head, so the worst torture is to myself.  I’m not one for aggravating the help.  Hence, the emergency supplies.  I can entertain myself for very long periods of time with a good knit or read.  I can turn the wait into near bliss, remove myself from the situation, and be so engrossed that I don’t hear the receptionist call my name. 

 

Yesterday I grabbed on the way out.  Now I know that I could have packed up one of my existing, already on-the-needles projects and taken it with me, but I didn’t start soon enough.  (One of the bigger excuses-I know you can see right through me.)  I grabbed a pair of teeny circular needles (Knitpicks Harmonies, a dream) and two balls of dusty rose Laines du Nord Cashsilk (50% extrafine merino, 25% cashmere, 25% silk).  Before I left my doctor’s office, I had a 3.5 x 9 inch length of hatband.  I decided to knit a band that would be the bottom of a hat, then pick up the stitches along one edge to make the dome.  That allows me to knit the band in a complex, vertically-oriented way.  It’s a random, original pattern, and I love it so far. 

I know, it’s the laziest excuse for photography in the entire blogging world, but that’s how I roll.  A poorly-lit closeup:

See, those are rolly polly cable wannabes.  That’s what happens when you do your designing on the fly in the doctor’s waiting room.  I knit like I paint-abstract is my realm. 

 

People!  It’s already the middle of April, and suddenly the Chattanooga Market is up and running and planning for Sunday, April 27, from noon to 5 at First Tennessee Pavilion.  There will be live music from Anne McCue (Melbourne), Gary Nicholson (Nashville Grammy-winner), and Amy Cook (Austin).  Wow.  There’s some benefit to having a new owner who’s in the music business. 

 

Alas, my attendance at the Chattanooga Market will have to be as a spectator/buyer for the next few weeks.  I haven’t quite made it back to market-able status, but that will come soon.  Meanwhile, I can finish preparing my spring/summer stuff for my next sales visit.  And I can keep jumping on the exercise bike and pushing those minutes up.  Which is where I’m going now–a round of pedalling while I watch Without a Trace

 

Peace.

Happy Dancing

I’ve been doing the happy dance all day.  I got an official Chattanooga Market email this morning saying the Market will not close, but will open as usual on April 27 under new ownership and management.  The new owner, Chris Thomas, is the founder of Palo Duro Records (http://www.palodurorecords.com/) and seems to be very committed to promoting both music and art.  Incidentally, Palo Duro Records is the company sponsoring the first Chattahippie Festival for four days in September 2008.  Tickets went on sale March 1 and the first batch of 500 VIP seats is already sold out.  I’ll settle for a plain old hippie-on-a-blanket ticket.  At $30, it’s a deal.   The new owner will run the Chattanooga Market as a nonprofit.  It seems the Market has not consistently generated enough revenue to support an owner.  It’s not hard to see why.  The Market’s attendance has been inconsistent.  It suffers from being in an isolated location, without other attractions close by.  Nevertheless, the current location has some tremendous benefits, including being covered and paved, having huge bathrooms, lots of parking, and safety.  I’ll be happy to return to the Market, and hope to see many of the people I met there last year. 

If you want the official word on this, check out today’s articles at http://www.chattanoogan.com/ and http://www.timesfreepress.com/

This is not the only reason for today’s Happy Dance.  I had a good weekend visit from my last host son, now a senior boarding student at the big local prep school.  He announced Friday that he had a plan for Saturday dinner.  He checked out my spices in the lazy susan and went through the freezer, then told me he was cooking a Morrocan dinner.  He made out a shopping list, purchased some goodies like fresh herbs and Greek yogurt, and started his prep Saturday afternoon.  In the end, I was served boneless chicken thighs marinated in Greek yogurt and purple onion, spiced with fresh dill, cardamom, curry, cinnamon, and coriander, then sauteed in extra virgin olive oil.  Accompanying the chicken was whole wheat couscous with raisins, and a cucumber-tomato salad with fresh dill and mint and an agave-vinegar dressing.  I can’t tell you how good this was!  I actually laughed out loud when the animal came to beg-no way was I giving up even a smell of my dinner. 

Actually, I should be happy-dancing about the animal.  This week she and I tried something new.  When the weather is nice and I want to let some fresh air in, I leave the back door open a bit.  She can go in and out at will.  If she starts barking loudly, I can stay in my chair and yell “Lucy, get in here” and she’ll come running.  She sits at my feet for a while, then starts edging toward the door.  If I say she must stay in, she stays.  Dachshunds are so stubborn.  It only took seven years to get to this point.  I felt kind of superior as my next-door neighbor apologized for the racket his two dogs were making.  Silly giggles…

For a while today, my fingers got tired of knitting the cotton sample.  The purl rows of the stockinette stitch were the toughest.  I discovered that I can turn my needles around so that the active needle is in my left hand, and do perfect purl stitch with the needles backwards.  That works different fingers and gives my hands a rest.  Cool!  Knowing more than one way to do something can pay off big-time.  I’m just telling the few of you very quietly, because someone is going to blast me and make a long comment about how un-knitterly this is.  I say survival is never un-knitterly. 

Peace.

Okay, Maybe a Little Fluff

I just talked to my doctor’s office.  I’m scheduled for my first new treatment the day after Christmas.  Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh.  Those are for the anticipation, the trepidation, the unknown…I know it is less than three weeks away and I am impatient. 

Meanwhile, my current flare of lupus symptoms seems to be waning.  Even better, my prednisone dose has been decreased and I know from experience that some of the side effects (swelling, insomnia) will decrease very soon and some will take up to six weeks to go away (the round “moon” face, increased appetite, increased infections).  Just riding that ole lupus rollercoaster!

Yesterday one of my nieces turned 18.  She is a fabulous girl, smart and athletic, a freshman at Cornell, and I’m glad that she and I have forged a bond and stay in communication.  She’s one of my frequent IM partners.  Anyway, I have to say “Happy Birthday, Girl!!!!!” and remind her that I love her dearly. 

I can’t mention that this lupus flare is better without thanking my daughter one more time.  She has been incredible this fall, organizing the household, driving me around, accompanying me to the Chattanooga Market (http://chattanoogamarket.com/) where we sold stuff, making gorgeous handdrawn tags for my products, running errands when my legs don’t want to walk, and just being the wise, funny, quirky presence that she always has been.  I was diagnosed with lupus when she was 4.  She grew up with my uncertain health, learning that every so-called appointment was a “maybe”, leaning on our extended friend-family to fill in when her mom couldn’t, and finding entertainment and fulfillment in things that didn’t rely on physical prowess.  Love you, girl!

The blanket for my girl is coming along beautifully.  These are very soothing colours to knit, and I’m making very simple patterns. Dayna's blanket first viewDayna’s blanket first viewI threw it down on the deck and snapped a few photos to show you.  I’m making each block from a skein of the Cozy Cotton.  Above is the first two completed blocks and part of the third. Dayna’s blanket first view, closerIn this photo I’ve focused on the seam between the first two blocks.  When my yarn from the first skein was close to running out, I just switched yarns and started the second block.  Against popular teaching, I made the switch on the wrong side of the fabric so that the stitched edge would show up on the right side.  Sometimes I like the look of that contrasting stitching.  You can see the partial rib alternative pattern that I showed you 12/04 in the deep persimmon block, and the block pattern (8 stitches x 10 rows) on the light rose quartz block.  The third block, which is oatmeal coloured, alternates between several rows of seed stitch and several rows of 2×2 block.  It is gorgeous, but my photo didn’t have enough detail tocapture it.  I’ll show it next time.

Today’s goals are to finish the oatmeal block and add a fourth block to this strip of the blanket, post a few more completed scarves to my store (http://www.essiewb.etsy.com/), and run a few errands.  Oh yeah, and pay some bills. 

Peace!