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It's a Shame

Before I launch into my rant on today's topic, let me just tell you about the beautiful sunset I enjoyed this evening as I left the store. It was huge, it was amazing, it was gorgeous. I noticed, as I walked down the hill toward the harbor, that the sky was a really lovely pinky-purply-amethyst color; the buildings on the far side of the harbor wore a rosy glow. As I drove west, I noticed that the clouds low on the horizon created a sort of upside-down ocean surface, colored in bright orange, hot pink, dark purple. It was wonderful, a joy and a good way to end the day.

I got right wound up first thing this morning, though. Paying bills, I noticed that my health insurance bill had gone up a bit. A note in the "message area" of the bill indicated that the increase was due to a problem with the Dirigo Health Act.

A couple of years ago, Maine scrambled together this government program that would help provide affordable health insurance for small businesses and for uninsured persons. I know a lot of people who don't have health insurance, because it costs so much. I try to help out my employees buy providing a modicum of health insurance coverage for them. I know how much health insurance costs, and I commend the idea of trying to provide affordable health insurance. I chose to provide health insurance through a plan other than Dirigo Health, because the plan I chose had more extensive coverage for only slightly more money.

Problem is, the well-intentioned government program didn't work. In the planning stages, apparently, it was determined by Somebody (don't know who; it might have been a group of angry, over-caffeinated monkeys hypped up on Twinkies for all I know) that in order for the program to be financially solvent, X number of people and/or small businesses needed to sign up and participate in it. No contingency was made in case the right X number of people failed to queue up. Unfortunately, the number of people who actually signed up to participate fell FAR SHORT of the number needed to participate in order to keep the program from going broke. But, it's a government program. It can't just go broke and go out of business. Somebody has to pay for it, and you're right: this Somebody who pays is not the same Somebody alluded to earlier.

The government said to the insurance companies allowed to do business in Maine, "Hey, you guys have to pick up the difference! Pay up!" and the insurance companies just laughed and handed over a wad of cash to buck up the broken government program. The insurance companies knew where the money was really coming from. They'd just crank up the premiums of their customers (that would be Me. and You.)

They call it some kind of Dirigo Health Act "Offset Payment". I call it a "Tax". I also do not remember anyone asking me if it was okay with me if I paid for a government program, that I never signed up for or benefited from, which ran out of money. (Can you say "taxation without representation"?)

So the upshot is, everyone in Maine who pays for health insurance through a company other than Dirigo Health now has had their premium upped by a small percent. Which we have to pay, or lose our health insurance. There is no recourse.

Yes, it is a small percent. Yes, I am glad that some who are uninsured are now insured (although, the number of people previously uninsured who are now insured is ridiculously low compared to the ridiculously high cost of this program -- if I had the specific figures at hand I would quote them, and it would astound and frighten you. I read them, and it astounded me.) My share of this "Offset Payment" for Unique One's health insurance plan amounts to slightly over $625.00 per year.

Hmmmmm. Six hundred twenty-five dollars, a little more than that, actually. That would buy me a damn fine spinning wheel, if I didn't already have FIVE wheels. Or, it would purchase enough 100% cashmere yarn from Italy to knit two sweaters. It would buy a couple of Dale of Norway sweaters. It would pay for someone to take the train from Boston to Maine, and go on a knitting cruise for 3 days in June.

But, nah. You know that $625+ dollars wouldn't have gone home in my pocket anyway. I'm not the one who's suffering because I don't have that $625+ dollars to spend now. You know who really gets the short end of the stick? You do, gentle reader, if you're a Unique One customer. That $625 is a couple orders of needles I now can't order from Bryson Distributing. Or, it's an entire gorgeous order of to-die-for handpainted yarns from Alchemy Yarns. Maybe it's two furniture-sized boxes of Lamb's Pride Worsted I won't be ordering from Brown Sheep Company. Perhaps it's 2 or 3 copies of every new knitting or crochet book being published in the next six months, which I usually receive via an auto-ship program from my book distributor, and which I am now pondering whether I can afford to do that. It could be all the new buttons I would order in the next 2 years. It's my electric bill for a couple months in the summer (damn that air conditioning, anyway). It's a bonus that somebody on my staff won't be getting at Christmas. (Don't worry, I wouldn't be that mean!) (Victoria!)

That leaves me with the job of deciding which part of your knitting fun I have to cut out. Still, we had a pretty sunset tonight. And some people have insurance who didn't before. I don't mind paying taxes; I guess I just don't like having taxes ramrodded down my throat. They do not taste any better or hurt less by being named "Offset Payments".

Sorry for the rant, folks! Love ya! Thanks for reading! Please accept my apologies if I angered anyone!

Baby Sweater Results

Unbelievable. I knit the entire baby sweater with my handspun, and even had enough yarn left over to sew the sweater together and sew on buttons. Buttons are not a part of the original pattern; I opted for a crocheted edge that formed three small button loops, and a crocheted neck edge instead of the neck the pattern calls for. Here's the result:
The arms are even a little too long. In a perfect world I would reknit them, not decreasing so much and stopping a couple of inches shorter. But I figure, the sleeves can be rolled up.

I also finished the chemo cap I started knitting at Joan's memorial the other night. I used two skeins of Crystal Palace cotton chenille and a Fibertrends pattern:


No Spa Soles; Baby Sweater Instead

Eh, well. I started knitting with the yarn I spun after the Spa, but it proved to be thicker than it looked. So I unraveled it and started playing with it. I found I got a very nice-feeling 4 sts/inch on a size 8, which just happens to be a good gauge for one of my favorite designs, the Penobscot Bay Pullover:


I hand out this pattern for free on the Isaac H. Evans knitting cruises. Also if you happen to be in Unique One and want to buy the yarn to make it, you get a copy of the pattern thrown in free. I have a sample knit up in Christopher Sheep Farm yarn, but you really could use any heavy worsted weight.

Problem is, I only have about 6 1/2 ounces of the yarn, so I am going to make the smallest size, about a size 1. We will see how far I get with the handspun. I expect I will have to do the sleeves in something else, maybe Classic Elite's Lush or some other nice, soft yarn which comes in colors to compliment the yarn I spun. Running out of yarn just forces me to be creative and figure out some wonderful new design element to throw in to cover for the fact I've run out of yarn! Usually it ends up looking better than the original design.

I'll post pictures as soon as I get some.

Today I had fun spinning with the Midcoast Spinners in Union. Sharon showed me how to fold my S90 up, and then unfold it to spin on it. It's great! So all my spinning problems are solved now. (Except that time thing, as in not having any.)

Results of Wednesday's Spinning

I finished spinning the rest of that luscious Indigo Moon Farm fiber and plied it. I even figured out how to use the skein winder all by myself! Amazing! I couldn't wait to wash it before taking pictures:
Wednesdayspinning Wednesdayspinning2
These skeins are hot off the skein winder, unwashed and tired looking. And how did I do on my spinning goals, to create a textured, slightly thick and thin heavy worsted weight yarn? Well. The yarn is still skinnier than I had hoped. Maybe it will fluff up some when it's washed. As for texture, I did okay, there's some thick&thinness there. Unfortunately I think it will pretty much disappear when it gets knit up -- that's the next test.

I need to work on getting more twist in my yarn. When I ply it, in order to get a balanced skein (and actually, these two skeins are quite well-balanced), I get a very loosely-plied product. I would like my yarn to be rounder, more tightly plied. I presume that means it needs more twist to start with. I did a modified long draw with these skeins, figuring spinning quickly might result in "sloppier" thick and thin yarn, which it did, but then of course there wasn't much twist in the plied yarn. Hmmmmm. How to get a tighter ply and still keep the texture. I'll have to work on that.

I have ended up with about 6 1/2 ounces of a worsted weight yarn. Don't know what I'll do with it, socks maybe. I have to remember to reinforce the heels and toes. I could call them "Spa Socks". Ooooh, I could put those suede sole thingies on the bottom and wear them to next year's Spa! "Spa Soles"! Sounds like a plan. I like it.

Beth's Day Off

Ahhh. A day off.

I spent almost the whole day spinning on my black walnut Louet S90 that I looooove, which I bought from my dear friend Sharon when she moved to Nova Scotia. I love this wheel. I do, however, need to find a manual for it, as Sharon didn't have it or couldn't find it in the move. So I don't really know how to make it fold up (its selling point -- aside from its beauty -- is that it was the perfect traveling wheel.) I also don't know how to use the built-in skein winder that is stuck on the back of it. I am also not sure of exactly where to oil it. I use Vaseline on the front thing that the bobbin (black plastic part) sits on, and on the metal dowel that the bobbin spins on. But, I think it requires oil elsewhere because yesterday it made some pretty interesting screechy noises. Luckily for this poor wheel, I only spin on it about once a year.

I was spinning up the lovely Indigo Moon Farm fiber from the Spa:
I had a revelation: if you don't spin it so skinny that you end up with a two-ply fingering weight you can
A) spin the whole amount much faster!
B) end up with a heavy worsted weight yarn that you can knit up much faster!


So I am trying really hard to spin this batch quite a bit thicker than I usually do. My whole spinning life, I have just been spinning "Beth Yarn", doing the same old yarn every time, every fiber, every wheel. But I've turned a leaf, realizing I could spin other weights of yarn. That's what I am trying to do.

Also, walking around the SPA this weekend and seeing some of the new spinners' first yarn they ever made, makes me want to get away from that evenness of yarn produced by an experienced spinner. I am, therefore, also trying to get my yarn this time to be more textured, thick-and-thin, more interesting. It's been a fun experiment so far! I have a little more than half left to spin, then I'll ply it and wash it and photograph it for da blog. We'll see if I succeeded in the texture thing and the heavy worsted thing. I know the pretty colors thing is all taken care of, because Mary Lynn is completely amazing with those batts she creates.

Last night I went to a very nice memorial service at the Hawthorne Inn in Camden. It's been about a year since my friend Joan Davis passed away. (You can click here to read my original post about her passing, last March). A group of us gathered at the Hawthorne Inn and toasted Joan, shared pictures and stories, had a little potluck dinner, and then we settled in to knit chemo caps for the rest of the evening. Joan was instrumental in starting a group in the area that meets on Sundays to knit chemo caps for patients who need them. I think Joan would have approved of how we celebrated her life last night. It was a happy, uplifting night that will result in another dozen caps that will be donated to the hospital as soon as they're completed.

The Spa: There and Back Again

We had such a great time at the SPA! I put up a photo album of the weekend. Click here to see it.

On Saturday we had a great breakfast in the hotel restaurant and set up the booth. It was kind of mobbed all day Saturday and we were happy to experience a successful day of sales. When we had a chance, we'd look over and oogle Nicholas, the Merlin Tree puppy.

Customers made our heads swell; so many people thanked us for doorprizes or told us how much they love Unique One. It was so nice to see people at the Spa and remember seeing them when they had been in the store in Camden last summer! The new Andrea 100% silk laceweight yarn from Schaefer was quite popular, as well as rosewood needles. Everything except books was offered at 20% off, and I think people were pretty happy about that.

We saw so many gorgeous sweaters and shawls on people! We spent quite a bit of time talking to people about their creations. I am always amazed at how smart and creative people are.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee picked up copies of her book and signed them; that was SO NICE of her. After the vending closed for the day, I went to the fashion show, which was fabulous. After the fashion show, there was a surprise talk by the Yarn Harlot herself! She is wickedly funny. I could listen to her talk for hours. I had already read both her books, and it was wonderful to hear her speak in person.

Then Susan, Victoria and I went to have a drink with Marie and Sharon, dear friends of mine. I had supper in the bar, because I had forgone eating supper in order to watch the fashion show. Diane Carlson joined us, too. The evening progressed into very loud hoots of laughter intermixed with martinis, Bailey's Irish Creme, merlot, and God knows what else everyone was drinking. I remember there being some discussion of the Marines and the Air Force (representatives of both being seated at the table); there was also some thought given to sliding the length of the bar on one's stomach; a discussion of why it would be better if women ran the world, until we turned that into how women do actually already run the world. Anyway, I seriously have not laughed so hard or had so much fun in at least two years. We decided that each of us needs to write a novel of some sort, I think. I hope we do! Marie and Sharon, we have got to do this more often!

Sunday we sold a ton of the Yarn Harlot's books (remember, signed by the author!). We still have some left, so if you were at the Spa and didn't get one, call Unique One and we will send copies to you while they last. Then we packed it all up and drove home, stopping at Moody's Diner in Waldoboro for our traditional post-Spa victory feast.

I pretty much just dropped everything off at the store, went home and went to bed despite the fact it was only around 4 p.m. Slept through til morning, got up and worked at the store all day yesterday -- that's why it has taken me so long to get this post up! There was A LOT of catching up to do at the store. But I did it, mostly. Today is my day off, and I only had to bring home a little bit of paperwork to finish up here at home. Once I get that done, I think I will play with new toys.

Aside from my beautiful Merlin Tree spinning wheel, I also got a couple of Grafton Fibers crochet hooks, ebony and snakewood. They are so pretty they almost make me cry. I also am enjoying some of Indigo Moon Farm's luscious fiber in pretty pastel baby colors. I got some of Claudia's Heal My Hands, which I need badly. And I got a couple NETA T-shirts (couldn't decide which color to get, so I got both!) and a tote bag.

It was a great weekend filled with so much positive energy, love and happiness that I will still be smiling for several months, I'm sure, or at least until the March Knitting Weekend (full) and the April Knitting Weekend (still a few openings left!) that Unique One is having in Camden. Mini-SPAs, I call them. I hope to recapture some of that great feeling at my own little events. Can't wait!

Thanks for reading my blog, y'all! Now I know you're out there!

At the SPA

Victoria, Susan and I are at the New England Textile Art's annual February gathering, affectionately known as the "Spa Knit & Spin". It's a "spa" because there is a room full of relaxation professionals on hand to help us get away from it all, via massage or reiki or pedicures or whatever. As a yarn vendor, Unique One is set up in a far more hectic room with the other vendors. "Hectic" doesn't really capture the wonderful, invigorating excitement of fiber fanatics who have come to Portland, Maine this weekend to totally indulge their wildest (fiber) fantasies, but "hectic" does pretty much capture the pace at which the three of us tried valiantly to keep up with the urgent needs of our customers tonight.

It was a lot of fun! Pretty much everything is selling equally well so far. I haven't spotted any particular buying trends yet. The new Andrea 100% silk lace weight yarn (Oh God! It is SO GORGEOUS!!!) which I kind of like has been popular. I resent it, a little, every time someone buys a skein and carries it away, because I want to keep all of it for myself; my accountant would, I am sure, point out that this would not a tidy profit make. *sigh*

You would not believe the amazing, stunning, impressive knitted or woven or crocheted or felted creations I have seen some attendees wearing. To the point that, I (or Susan) have actually followed complete strangers around for a while to get a better look at their sweater/shawl/socks/bag.

I have met and have fallen in love with my new spinning wheel! It's a Merlin Tree wheel, a reproduction of an antique Quebec production wheel, created with tender loving care and great skill by David Paul. [sing-songy voice] Only 50 of these wheels will be made, and I've got one of them! Neener neener neeeeener!

heh heh

Mine looks like the green one in this picture (which I shamelessly ripped off from David Paul's web site -- Hi David! Thanks for the unbelievably beautiful wheel!!!):

I'll post pictures of Spa activity tomorrow IF I remember to buy batteries for my camera in the morning and IF I get a chance to run around and take photos. If tonight's sales are any indication, there may be a complete stampede tomorrow. If you don't hear from me in a couple days, worry. :)

It's a Blizzard!

And I'm not talking about the ones they make at Dairy Queen. There isn't as much snow as there should be, but the wind is totally howling and it is C-O-L-D.

I, of course, spent the day at the store. It was busy enough in the morning, but by afternoon the snow had settled in and the winds became fierce. Around 3 p.m. I took a couple pictures:


This is the view from Unique One's front door. It's pretty empty out there.


This is the view from the back deck. This is the biggest parking lot in town. Notice how NOBODY is there.

Yup. Pretty quiet. So, I did some paperwork, cleaned up the junk on my desk, paid the bills. Started looking at the new Interweave Knits magazine......

Isn't it weird how on the coldest, snowiest day of the winter I am gripped with the sudden urge to make Veronik Avery's "Prairie Tunic", a lacy little camisole/tank top? It's in the new Interweave Knits magazine (Spring 2006), p. 88. I love it. Here's a photo:


So here I am, in the Lord Camden Inn (decided to eschew driving home in the snow). Wish you could be here too, because it is a lovely room. granite countertops, lovely gas fireplace. It's gorgeous here. I'm thinking about curling up on the cozy sofa in front of the fireplace to knit a cotton, fingering weight gauge swatch for the little summer top (well OF COURSE I brought the yarn with me! and the needles!), while I listen to the wind howl outside. Too bad we can't have a blizzard more often. :)

Milling Around

Hey. I had a fantastic day! Drove up to Hartland to buy a sock knitting machine from a lovely lady who had one for sale -- more about the sock machine in another blog post, another day. (It's great!)

BUT before I went there, I went to the historic Bartlettyarns mill in Harmony, Maine to finally see where one of my favorite yarns in the whole world is made. Harmony is a teeny town out in the middle of Maine's nowhere (I'm from Portage Lake, Maine, which I previously thought was out in the middle of nowhere, but it may be possible that Harmony has it beat.) What a beautiful drive! The back roads of Maine offer a pretty much undiscovered treat.

I found the mill with no problem at all, thanks to the excellent directions given by Russell Pierce. I could go on and on about the mill here on the blog, but you'd be better off to just take the virtual tour, by virtue of the Bartlettyarns photo album that I just now created, using the photos I took at the mill this morning. (Click here to take the Bartlettyarns tour.) Please take the time to read my poetically-written photo captions, or you'll miss a lot. :)

I had a really great time; the trip to Harmony was well worth the effort! I hope to get back again sometime soon. It was also wonderful to meet the people I talk to on the phone when I place my orders. The folks at Bartlettyarns are a wonderful team who really are dedicated to their work, and they also look like they have a lot of fun. If I didn't have a store, I think I'd like to work at Bartlettyarns!


It Depends on How You Look at It

The bad news is, I can't go to the Fiber Frolic again this year.

The good news is, Victoria and I are going to the TNNA Needlearts Market in Indianapolis. It's the same weekend as the Fiber Frolic. Of course. But, Victoria and I will be having our own little fiber frolic at the Needlearts Market.

We didn't go to the January TNNA show in San Diego -- maybe next year, if we have a good summer; as a result, I realized how much energy these Needleart Shows give me. It's not just seeing what new products the yarn companies are coming out with (although that is probably the most important reason for going), it is also the contacts you make, and being with so many other people from all over the country who are in your own business. Talking with yarn shop owners from Ohio and Michigan and California and wherever, I can share information and impressions with others and I can listen to problems they may be having and either try to help them, or know that I'm not the only one having those problems.

It's hard to leave mid-coast Maine for a week in early June, just when business is starting to pick up for the summer season, but you have to do what you have to do. And suddenly, June doesn't seem that far off.

I shall be a very busy bunny that mid-June week. Victoria and I will be flying in from Indianapolis on Monday, June 12. Then on Wednesday night, June 14, I'll be boarding the Isaac Evans for the first-ever June Knitting Cruise! It's a 3-day cruise for knitters, offered in June because as you know, demand is HIGH for knitting events up here in Maine. I can't wait!! It is going to be so much fun, and I'll be all yappy about the great TNNA trip I just got back from. I'm sure I'll be talking a mile a minute about all the way cool stuff I will have seen in Indianapolis, and about all the way cool people I met there. So, I hope y'all sign up for the June knitting cruise so I'll have someone to talk to! :)

The Amazing Alison

A pretty sweater wandered into the shop yesterday, worn by customer extraordinaire, Alison. She came in with her daughter, Rowan, to ..... well, look at yarn. Alison is an amazing knitter who can crank out complicated sweaters in about 3 weeks. The sweater she was wearing yesterday is a beautiful Aran style, with cables and bobbles and lovely styling; unlike a lot of Arans, it was fitted rather than loose, and it looked very cute on her. Sad to say, due to my Swiss-cheese brain I am not sure what the pattern was even though she has told me like, 6 times, but I think it was a Rowan design.

I've been watching her knit it for the last 3 weeks. She used a gorgeous dark purple Donegel Tweed, a Tahki yarn. Being Alison, she put a little zing into it with her choice of buttons for the shoulder: the buttons (from Renaissance Buttons) feature photos of movie stars: Judy Garland, Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, and Sean Connery. The sweater came out great, Alison! It fits you perfectly! Thanks for showing it to me!



Perfunctory Post

Okay, all you people who wanted me to keep my blog updated, (you know who you are), here it is. This is me, updating. With nothing to say. Nothing, do you hear me? But I'm updating! So here I am. I am eating a bowl of Cream of Wheat with a little nutmeg and a little milk in it. Grace the Hungry Cat is watching pretty much every mouthful. No, Grace; this is not yours -- it is MINE. Poor kitty.

Didja watch the Superbowl last night? I did not. Joe and I elected to watch a Midsomer Murder Mystery. I whined a little to one of the cats, "I married a man who doesn't like football!" and Joe said, "I prefer murder instead" -- which comment might be a bit odd in normal conversation, but I knew what he meant. I did manage to knit a little on a fine little hat that I'm making for a friend from Bartlettyarn and Christopher Sheep Farm yarn (the colors I'm using are Denim and Pewter). I finished the adorable knitting tote bag that I mentioned a couple of days ago and am just waiting now to get the handles and grommets and assemble it. It's sweet.

That's all, folks. Stay alert. Maybe tomorrow you can read about me eating.... oatmeal!!! Wow!

heh heh

A Little Chilly for April.....

.... but then, it is February, actually. Some unusual sights for early February:

  • stores all along Camden's streets doing business with their doors propped open.
  • guys driving around in convertibles with the top down.
  • people on motorcycles.

And today was the National Toboggan Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl; too bad. But then, how often do you get to drive to the National Toboggan Championships in your convertible, with the top down?

This weather. It's just weird this year.

And it's all my fault. I have a good supply of nice, warm wool hats and socks and mittens to wear; I pleaded for everyone in my family who knits to give me handknit wool socks for Christmas; and I put snow tires on my car for the first time ever. I was all prepared for the really cold, snowy winter we were supposed to have. I jinxed it, apparently.

Rabbits & Rollerderby

My friend, the ever-creative yet tragically blogless Stacy, came to our knitting group last night; she brought her absolutely gorgeous pet angora bunny, Isadora Quagmire Stevenson Puffhausen. This is not as odd as it sounds, because Stacy works downstairs from Unique One and she is a bring-your-bunny-to-work kinda girl. Anyway, we love Isadora's visits -- she fits right in, in a yarn shop!

Stacy has another love, besides angora rabbits. She loves roller derby. "Obsession", I think, is the word that springs to mind. She thinks about it constantly. She wants to knit a little roller derby skirt, with little roller derby pants to wear underneath, with her roller derby name embroidered on the butt. And ya know, on Stacy, it would be cute! She also wants me to host the roller derby skirt knitalong here on my blog. I said, sure, I'll do it. So if anyone out there wants to join a roller derby skirt knitalong, lemme know. I'll see if I can figger out how to arrange it.

Apparently roller derby teams are made up of women who have assigned themselves menacing names; making up names is always fun, and making up menacing knitting- or fiber-related names for killer derby chicks is of course WAY more fun. Here's a quote from one of Stacy's memos from her push to organize our building's roller derby team:

"Since no one is hipper than the gals here at One City Center [a.k.a., 2 Bayview St., Camden, Maine -- ed. note], it became obvious that we need to start our own virtual roller derby (the beauty of the "virtual" derby is that virtual bones heal so much faster than real ones, and virtual teeth don't need to be replaced when they're knocked out). Now as far as I'm concerned, the real fun of the roller derby lies in coming up with a name and a derby-gal persona. Since all of the women in the building knit, it seems like that could be the defining theme, and Beth, a.k.a. YarnDemon, can be virtual team captain. I propose that the team name should be the SuperSonic Knitters so we can have "SSK" embroidered on our virtual satin jackets. [ed. note: and on our virtual knitted-panty butts, too, I'm sure.] Grab a name, or make one up:

Team: The SuperSonic Knitters
Team Captain: YarnDemon (Beth)
Member List:
Brick KnitHouse (Becky, because she's mighty, mighty) [ed. note: also a formidable disc golfer]
Yarnstormer (Kristin) [ed. note: also an excellent judge of cashmere]
Chartreuse Boucle (Stacy) [ed. note: in whose virtual world this all is happening; I am not the boss of her.]
Victorious Stitch (Victoria)[ed. note: I am the boss of her. She keeps me in line pretty well, though.]
Coup de Grace (Grace)
Rollaround Sue (Susan)
Kathleen Mean Knitting Machine (Kathy)

Names up for grabs for future team members:
Addi Turbo
Florence KnittinGal
Minnie Purl (complete with price tag dangling from helmet)
Velvet Chenille
Moe Hair
The Ripper
Silk Stockinette
Great Balls o'Yarn
The Kitchener *itch

We could also have a crochet team, The Chain Gang, headed up by Captain Hook. Teammates could be the Happy Hooker, Granny Square, Chik Filet, and Ball 'n Chain."

Ahhhh, Stacy. It's good to have you in the building! Give a nice ear stroke to Isadora for me. :)

Newsletter News & a Tote Bag

The Unique One winter newsletter is up. Click here to read it. There's a new free pattern for a lacy scarf, and an explanation of the second Knitting Weekend (the first knitting weekend in March is already booked solid; the second weekend is in April.) Also, Unique One is having a yarn sale! 20% off in-stock, regularly priced yarn February 2 through 12.

In other news, I've been busy & have neglected my blog. Hopefully I will get back to it on a more regular basis. I haven't been knitting much, I've actually just been really busy doing store stuff. I have also done quite a bit of reading. In the last month or so I have finished a lot of books I had lying around half read, or intending to read, including the following: The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman; Wicked, by Gregory Maguire; Marcus Aurelius' Meditations; Women's Work: the First 20,000 Years by Elizabeth Wayland Barber; Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell; Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver. Now I am reading The Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and have stacked up in the read-it-next pile A Perfect Red, by Amy Butler Greenfield; The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman; and The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. Don't you just hate reading other people's lists of books? Anyway, sorry, but that's what I have been doing in any spare time I've had lately. Believe it or not, reading is about as much as I have energy to do in my own time, when I get any.

I also have been knitting a completely adorable tote bag out of Berroco's Suede. The pattern is available for free at the Berroco web site (click here to see and/or grab the pattern.) I'm knitting it in "Miss Kitty" red (#3751). Click here to view the shade card for Suede.This bag has been so easy and fun to knit that I want to make 4 or 5 more in different colors -- it helps that Suede comes in so many awesome colors. But I'll reserve judgment until I actually complete the first bag. I need to order the cool wooden handles (which Unique One will have in stock, of course) and then put the bag together; there are grommets to master, tassels to make and attach, and the handles to sew on. The directions don't call for a lining, but I might try to make and sew in (gasp!!!!) a lining of some sort. All of these finishing touches are fraught with danger, of course, and may make me run screaming out into traffic. But we'll see. It may also be easy as pie, and result in the cutest knitting tote ever known to man.