Knitting by Judy @ 5:38 PM

First and foremost and always, I would like to thank Tina, Stephanie and Cat for the wonderfulness and amazement that is the Sock Summit teachers list. I am truly, truly humbled to be in such company.

I learned that I was teaching when Stephanie called me. I was on the ferry on my way to Friday Harbor. The ferry was in the middle of Puget Sound. If you’re not sure where that is, gentle reader, feel free to consult google maps. I’ll wait right here.

Notice how there’s a lot of water between Friday Harbor and, oh, just about anything else? Who knew that you could get cell phone service out there! But, as I calmly knitted on the ferry, chatting with a few other knitters, my phone rang. And it was The Yarn Harlot herself. And through the whole conversation I kept thinking… oh holy $@%* what if I lose this cell phone signal and hang up on the Harlot. Which, fortunately, did not happen. So I knew that I was teaching most likely. But I was sworn to utter secrecy. And I had no idea who else was teaching. And I was excited by the whole idea and it sounded really fun, in an unreal sort of way.

Then I saw the list.

And oh my! What a list! There’s a huge amount of sockerly and knitterly knowledge represented by that list. There are people on the list I value as friends. And people whose feet I would like to sit at and just soak up any tiny pearls of wisdom that might come my way. And people I would die to take a class from myself. And all are people who I admire a huge, huge amount. When all of the people on that list are gathered together in the Convention Center, I’m afraid that the fiberish energy will cause a rip in the space-time continuum and a wormhole will open and we will all be sucked into it and end up in either Star Trek or Firefly (hopefully the latter because I think they had better knitwear).

I gasped when I read that list. Because all of a sudden it started to feel real. Really real. And I started to feel sort of sick to my stomach.

And I thought that maybe I was over-reacting just a little bit. Because excitement and nerves usually do not make me throw up.

And then I realized that I was sick to my stomach because I was, actually, sick. Felled by the virus that is going around. Sick as a dog.

So I started knitting.

Harmonia's Rings
Harmonia's Rings

This is Harmonia’s Rings by Sivia Harding. It was a really fun, fast knit and kept me busy while I started down the road to recovery. If I look happy, it’s because I am. (Sorry for the blurry self-portrait, it is apparently possible, although perhaps not advisable, to take your own picture with your eyes close.) I love this cowl. It’s warm and cozy and just perfect.

Yes, my hair looks like that when it’s wet. It looks about the same when it’s dry, except expanded. What can I say.

The Particulars:

Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 2:52 PM

a tiny corner of the marketplace
a tiny corner of the marketplace

Did I mention that there was yarn at Madrona? Yarn and fiber and spindles and wheels and needles and hooks and amazing things – all in one room.

I didn’t buy any yarn. Really.

I bought books. A German stitch dictionary and a Japanese felting book that makes me want to die the little things in it are so amazingly cute. Felted postage stamps. And little squirrels. And six little penguins in an ice cube tray. And flowers. And… get this one, now… bean sprouts.

I bought some really cool little tiny, tiny crochet hooks that were recommended by Sivia Harding. They are smaller sizes than even my old, old, old set, which means they can be used for even tiny beads with tiny holes. And they’re really short and can be hung on a key ring.

And there may have been a figured walnut nostepinne that came home with me. Maybe.

shopping with Sivia
shopping with Sivia

And I did get to go shopping with Sivia Harding and a bunch of other wonderful people.

And I had a little chat over coffee with Lucy Neatby.

And I took a class from Nancy Bush.

And I traded iPhone apps with The Yarn Harlot.

And I saw so many fun and wonderful people that I can’t even list all of them.

I love Madrona because the entire hotel is taken over by fiberistas of all kinds. So there are knitters in the bar and spinners in the lobby. And people are petting each others’ hand knits while waiting for the elevators. And so I met and chatted with many amazing people.

[waving to the gal who I ate dinner and breakfast with! How was your dying class?]

sensory overload at Shipwreck Beads
sensory overload at Shipwreck Beads

On the way home I stopped at Shipwreck Beads.

They bill themselves as the largest bead store in the world, and I believe it. This isn’t even all of the store. There are rows and rows of just crystals. And more rows of semi-precious stone. And more rows of wood. And precious metals. And all of the findings and tools and stuff that you could ever want.

There may have been a few beads that came home with me. You know I hung around with Sivia quite a bit. Just saying. 😀

it's a little damp here
it's a little damp here

And this is just one more picture that I took on the way home in a rest area right off I-5 that sort of explains a lot about why I love living in the Pacific Northwest.

That is a tree. (duh, Judy. OK. But hang with me for a sec.) The tree has thick, green, springy, gorgeous moss growing all over it. And there, on that branch high above my head, is a whole colony of ferns growing out of the moss. I’ll let that settle just a bit.

Ferns. Growing out of moss. That’s growing on a tree. Next to a freeway.

Yes, it means it’s a bit damp here. But such loveliness and such quiet, deep beauty. Such optimism and perseverance. Such strength.

I just read the list of sock summit teachers and I think I’m going to faint.

Knitting by Judy @ 9:31 PM

kinnearing the Yarn Harlot
kinnearing the Yarn Harlot

You may recall that yesterday I was unsuccessful kinnearing the Yarn Harlot. So today I was bound and determined to take advantage of any opportunity that presented itself.

Walking from the classroom to the Madrona marketplace at lunch, who did I spy? That’s right…

I whipped out the old iPhone, and surreptitiously snapped away.

Mission accomplished.

Nancy Bush explains all
Nancy Bush explains all

I’ve never been one to rest on my laurels. So I kinneared Nancy Bush, too. Here she is explaining a complicated bit of Estonian knitted braid technique to a rapt audience.

Today I took Nancy’s Baltic Braids and Bobbles class and it was tons of fun. Really interesting techniques, and so pretty.

braids and bobbles
braids and bobbles

See? (Ignore my wonky knitting. This was a first attempt, after all.)

We made a little sampler to learn the techniques. Mine turned out to be just the right size to wear as a cuff. So I wore it all evening while we gathered to hear to the history of Madrona (this is its 10th year) and listen to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee speak about the importance of knitting and knitting conferences. I think most of us were pretty in tune with that concept.

Tomorrow I’m going shopping. I’ve heard rumors of Japanese stitch dictionary books and… (drum roll please)… quiviut – which I probably can’t afford. But at least I can gaze longingly at it and pet it a bit.

Tomorrow I am going shopping with Sivia Harding. (!!!!!)

I tell you gentle reader, I am just an ordinary mortal. But I feel as though I’ve somehow been transported to the top of Mt. Olympus. Except the Olympian gods and goddesses pre-dated knitting. This is like Mt. Olympus with many wonderful goddesses and lots and lots and lots of yarn.

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 10:46 PM

tied up ?
tied up ?

This morning I journeyed from the lovely San Juan islands to Tacoma where the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat starts tomorrow.

This sign hung on my door in place of the more typical do not disturb type sign.

While it’s true that I brought some yarn with me. And, in fact, I just may have acquired some yarn between the time I left home and the time I arrived here. But… what exactly do they expect to happen in this room? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tomorrow I am taking a class from Nancy Bush: Baltic Braids and Babbles. It sounds really fun. And Nancy Bush is sort of one of my knitting heroes so I’m totally geeked out that I’m going to get to meet her. Hopefully I won’t embarrass myself too much,

I have seen the Yarn Harlot, but I was too busy swapping iPhone apps with her and with Blue Moon’s Depraved Dyer to kinnear her. I will keep trying.

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 7:46 AM

afternoon view
afternoon view

I really thought that the week was going to calm down a little bit.

That was before #1 Son’s computer started having what we in the vaguely techie business like to call issues. When in need, #1 Son always calls Mom’s Tech Support. This particular incident ended up requiring a complete wipe of the hard drive and reinstall of XP, and there were driver issues and… I won’t bore you with the details. But it took time.

And then there was the little incident where the nice officer on the lovely motorcycle stopped me as I was on my way home from dropping the fur kids off at the Cat B&B. He informed me that I’d just been doing 30 in a school zone. I’m usually very, very careful about that. In my defense, it was a high school that sits way back from the main street. It was the middle of the morning and no children were anywhere to be seen. And I admit to a bit of distraction as I tried to figure out how to cram 3 days of activities into about 8 hours.

I banged my head against my fortunately knit cozy clad steering wheel while the nice officer wrote out a ticket.

And then I ended up sort of needing a second root canal. The good news is that now the pain is all gone. But it took time. Actually, more time than usual.

I have a very tiny mouth. (No comments from you out there in the peanut gallery.) But it turns out that I have deep roots and a lot of nerve. So it takes a bit of doing to make sure I don’t feel anything while the whole root canal procedure is being performed. And that takes time. But with that finally accomplished, Dr. P was happily reaming out my tooth, and I was happily ignoring the whole thing as I lay there with what feels like a balloon pressed against my mouth and drool running down my chin, when the light went out.

You know. That light that the dentist shines in your face so that the inside of your mouth is lit up? That light. It went out. The. Light. Went. Out.

After a stunned silence, a mad flurry of activity ensued as everyone in the office tried to change the light bulb. (I just know there’s a really good joke in there.) It turns out that those light thingies are quite complicated mechanisms and you have to practically take the whole thing apart just to change this itsy bitsy light bulb. And the person in the office who used to change all of the light bulbs because she just loooooved doing it so much had retired the month before. And nobody was really sure of the best approach.

It was suggested that I be moved to the next room. But the room wasn’t ready and it was announced that in that room the brain wouldn’t boot up. I have no idea what that meant. But I really had no desire to be in a room where the brain wouldn’t boot while my mouth was under construction.

As the mad flurry whirled around, Dr. P (love this man) calmly continued with his business, mostly by feel and with the help of a little hand held fiber optic spot light. I lay in the chair, drool dripping from my chin and laughing at the absurdity. Because, really, what else could I do?

Eventually Dr. P reached the point in the whole operation where more light became necessary. What are you doing? he asked the light bulb changers.

It’s difficult to do and you have to use this spreader and it’s hard to get it in the right place. was the reply, in a tone that said you obviously have no idea how to do this or you would understand.

Dr. P stood up. Give me the screwdriver. And he started in trying to take the thing apart.

I have been taking things apart and putting them back together since I could hold a screwdriver, and I desperately wanted to get up and get in on the fun. But, all things considered, I decided it was safer to stay where I was and watch from the sidelines. Eventually the old bulb was removed, the new bulb was inserted and the light fixture was returned to a fairly usable state. Dr. P finished up his business, my tooth was reconstructed in a temporary sort of way, drool was wiped off my chin and I was off back to the races.

I ran home, threw a few more driver disks at #1 Son, threw a load of laundry in the washer, and headed out the door to Westside Wednesday Sip ‘N’ Stitch because I really felt that, all things considered, I deserved at least a short bit of knitting with my peeps. I had decided that I would just plead guilty to the traffic ticket (remember the ticket? – that was before the root canal) and make it go away. So, carefully following instructions, I signed the ticket, wrote out a check, tucked both inside an envelope addressed to the correct location. And just as I stuffed it into the slot in the mail box and it left my grasp never to be recovered, I realized that I’d sort of forgotten to put a stamp on it.

Yeah. It was just that kind of week.

But today is ever so much better. The pic is of the view out my back door yesterday afternoon. I am at Cat Bordhi’s annual visionary retreat, where I am surrounded by amazing people in this gorgeous setting and my creative juices are flowing. And I may even get some work done on the book. But blogging, I’m afraid, may be sporadic for the next few days. I could tell you all about the retreat and who’s here and all, but then I’d have to kill you or something because it’s all a deep, dark secret and very mysterious and blah, blah, blah. (It’s actually a lot of hard work.) But I will try to blog more from Madrona, where I will attempt to Kennear all kinds of famous people — maybe even the Yarn Harlot!

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 11:28 AM
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For the month of February, a number of bloggers are participating in a campaign to raise $5,000 for Oregon Food Bank. Please consider donating by clicking on the picture — please include the words Blog for Food in the tribute section so that the effectiveness of this campaign can be tracked.

Oregon’s unemployment rate has risen above 9% – nearly 2% above the national average – after remaining stable at 5.5% through the first half of 2008. In December alone, 10,000 jobs were lost in Oregon, leading to the highest one-month jump in unemployment ever recorded here. The state is facing job cuts from companies such as Boeing, Intel, Xerox, Daimler Trucks, Harry & David, Precision Castparts and Oregon Health Sciences Univeristy, among others. This list does not include small employers who have laid off workers or gone out of business due to the downturn. Construction, for example, has lost 4,500 jobs in the last year – nearly double what was expected.

The rise in unemployment means a corresponding rise in the need for assistance such as food stamps. In October, requests to the Oregon Department of Human Services for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families increased by 16 percent over the previous October, while food stamp applications rose by 13 percent. But the rise in unemployment also means a corresponding decrease in the tax revenue collected by the state. A severe budget shortage may soon begin to affect core services.

I know all of the statistics can be dry and dull. But this is becoming very serious and scary.

The Oregon Food Bank is the hub of a network of food banks that service all of Oregon and Clark County in Washington. OFB collect the food from farmers, retailers, individuals and government sources and redistributes it to 20 regional food banks, who in turn distribute the food to local food banks, soup kitchens, etc. For every dollar that is donated, OFB can collect and distribute 5 lbs of food. Even a tiny donation makes a huge difference.

Please consider helping out with a donation of any size if you are able. Or drop a can of food or two by your local food bank. If you are not able to do either, please consider donating your time as a volunteer to OFB (if you are in Portland) or to a local food bank, soup kitchen or shelter where ever you are located. With knitters in on this campaign, I know that $5,000 will be reached!

This post will remain sticky at the top for the month of February.

Thanks for listening, and thanks for helping.

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