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Obsession Thursday: #rhinebeckpiechart

I haven’t been at Rhinebeck since 2008. Eight years! Until recently, I was in the UK most Octobers, so it just didn’t work out.

rhinebeckpieThis year, my friends got themselves super-organized and rented a house nearby. Which means staying for reasonably cheap with people I love. How could I not go?

So I’m driving 7+ hours to Rhinebeck tomorrow while the housesitter watches the Squeezle again (bless her). I have planned a stop at Sonic for some diet limeade to fuel my drive (i may buy two so I have enough for the whole trip). Have you never had Sonic’s diet limeade? It’s very good.

Twitter user @oharethey started a thing I rather like: the #rhinebeckpiechart. Here’s mine —>

It’s probably more complex than this, but it feels like friends first and everything else is a bonus. That’s worth driving 7+ hours for, right? Hell, yes.

If you’re going to be there, our first-ever Rhinebeck Knitty meetup is on the hill at 2pm on Saturday. I’ll have knittybuttons to give away until I run out. Come give me a hug!

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Obsession Thursday: The smell of woodsmoke.

Long beach on Vancouver Island. Photo directly out of my phone, really. No filters or adjustments of any kind. I can't make this stuff up.

Long beach on Vancouver Island. Photo directly out of my phone, really. No filters or adjustments of any kind. I can’t make this stuff up.

I am in Tofino. I got here by getting on a train in Toronto and riding in my little sleeper bunk all the way to Vancouver, then grabbing a rental car and taking the ferry over to Vancouver Island.

Tofino is a tiny little surfing town that sticks out of the west coast of Vancouver Island all by itself. It’s a 3-hour drive from reasonably urban Nanaimo (home of the bars), going up and down and through wiggly bits, over mountainy terrain, through rainforesty bits that occasionally open up to give you vistas I only wish I had photos of. Diamond-clear lakes that tend more to green than blue, and mountains covered with so very many trees (thankfully, still covered, not clearcut), and fog and little boats and omg I am so much in love with this part of the world. If you want to see what my trip has been like so far, you can find my photos here.

I’ve been lucky enough, thanks to being able to teach knitting, to have travelled to a lot of places. I get this ache often, this I HAVE TO LIVE HERE ache. Sometimes it passes as soon as I get to the next place; sometimes it stays with me long after I’ve returned home. Places that stuck really hard with me are Portland (the Oregon one), Hawaii, Brighton AND Yorkshire, in England, and now here. Tofino. This is the first place I’ve gone to purely as vacation. No work, except blogging. It’s been relaxing, refreshing, enlightening, and so enjoyable. I’ve made myself not be miserly and have booked the Whale Watch, instead of just wishing I had once I got home. I get on the boat in a few hours.

I’m reasonably freshly single after being married a long damned time. I could move anywhere I want, thankfully, as long as there’s a decent internet connection and a good rabbit vet. Every time I walk out of my little inn and smell the woodsmoke, and feel the dampness from the ocean against my skin, I realize that this kind of environment is the one that touches me most deeply. Woods and ocean. So maybe I could move somewhere like this.

Maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll book another trip here or somewhere like here. A longer one.

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Talking to a friend makes work feel like not-work!

unnamedI’m lucky enough to have made many friends in the knitting world since starting this magazine almost 15 years ago. One of the first people I met was the delightful Vickie Howell. She is one of the most skilled interviewers I’ve had the pleasure of talking to over the years, whether on podcasts or on her legendary TV show, Knitty Gritty.

Vickie and I sat down together (so to speak) over Skype earlier this week, and you can hear the result in her latest Craft•ish Podcast. Some of the topics we discussed might surprise you…but then again, if you know me, you won’t be surprised at all.

 

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Obsession Thursday: reclaiming my Ukeness.

One of the many things I had to stop doing, when my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome got really bad, was playing ukulele. It was gradual and then all of a sudden I realized I hadn’t played in months. And then a year.

Waterman glow-in-the-dark ukulele

Waterman glow-in-the-dark ukulele

Thanks to my CTS surgery, I’m back, people. And I am so damned happy about it. Tonight, I got to teach some basic chords to a lovely fellow who wanted to learn. Watching his light bulb turn on as his fingers started to remember where G, F, A and D are located reminded me of how much fun it was for me to learn.

I am planning a big cross-country train trip at the end of next month, and so I treated myself to a new travel uke. It’s plastic (like the popular ukes of the 1950s) and, get this, IT GLOWS IN THE DARK. Because can’t you see me in my little train cabin, playing my glowy uke in the dark as we chug along through the prairies at night?

It’s a delightful instrument that’s waterproof and plays like a dream. I love how it sounds, and I am veritably smitten. You can get one for yourself here. They come in tons of colors, and I am unreasonably tempted to buy the clear one and fill it with cool LED lights. But I think that would mess with the acoustics.

Are you interested in learning the uke? My (I’ve been told) quite-useful post on how to choose your first ukulele can be found here.

 

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Obsession Thursday: Finally knitting again!

FInally! Progress on my After the Rain in Rowan Revive.

Finally! Progress on my After the Rain in Rowan Revive.

The saga is coming to a close, at least for my right hand. (Catch up with the story here.)

It’s been 4 months since my surgery. I’ve tried to knit during the healing process, but haven’t found it very enjoyable. Which worried me.

Last week, I went on a road trip with a friend, and got to sit in the passenger seat for the first time in a while (being single means you’re the one driving all the time). I started to knit. It ached as the muscles aren’t even vaguely as strong as they used to be (or NEED to be), but I kept at it, with little breaks. In a while, I noticed it was less achy. And then it was easy.

What was the difference? Keeping at it? No. Up till now, I’d been continuing to try to knit combination, which is still new for me. On the road trip, I switched back to my autonomic knitting style: throwing. And poof, my mojo is returning.

I left the knitting down for the last week, and, picking it up again, it’s kind of like starting over. I used to knit every time I sat down to watch TV. With the pain I had, I broke that habit, and now I have to retrain myself.

This will be fun.

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Knitty Friday: A refreshing design!

Or, rather, refreshing our design!

One of our first stated goals with our Patreon campaign was to pay our staff and contributors better. Thanks to our Patrons’ enthusiasm, we were able to do that almost immediately. And so we moved on to the second goal: bringing our website up to date.

We launched our first ever responsive issue last week. What’s responsive? That means the site is coded to automatically resize to fit every screen from cellphones to huge monitors. It’s about as fresh from the code monkey as is possible…and we’re releasing it in Beta. That means there might be bugs to fix, and things might change in appearance from day to day as we fine tune how the site looks and works. We beg your indulgence during this time. Wanna report a bug? Write to me with the subject heading “BUG REPORT”. Thank you!

simulation...the best way to see how this issue works is to view it on your different devices!

simulation…the best way to see how this issue works is to view it on your different devices!

The back issues in our Library will be getting a facelift as well, though a much more subtle one. We want our whole Library to be updated so that the back patterns are still useful to you, and so we’ll be continuing to responsive-ize issues until they’re all done. It’s going to take a while. We’re talking about 55 back issues. But now we know where we’re headed and it’s exciting!

Also long overdue is the addition of metric measurements to patterns. This is now standard operating procedure going forward.

This redesign project has been a huge undertaking in partnership with Philip Chatterton of Marblehead. We’re thrilled with what he’s done for us. (Need something like this done for your website? Drop him a line.)

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TNNA: the knitting industry’s trade show…UPDATE!

Jillian and I have just returned from our annual trek to TNNA’s trade show, this time in Washington, DC. Jillian used to live there a very long time ago, and I’ve never been, so it was an interesting venue for us to explore.

Every year, we gauge what’s out, what’s in and what’s growing in popularity. This time, without question, the most popular trend was gradients. Gradients in every form, from sets of single-color skeins that make up the gradient to super-long-color-change skeins (first popularized, I believe, by Tina Whitmore of Freia Fibers).

Here’s a sampling of the new products released this year:

Indigo-dyed yarns at Ancient Arts

Indigo-dyed yarns at Ancient Arts

 

Adorable sheepies from Kraemer Yarns

Adorable sheepies showing off the color range at Kraemer Yarns

Really cool laser-cut tapestry looms at Purl & Loop

Really cool laser-cut tapestry looms at Purl & Loop

Delicious colors of Manos Alegria

Delicious colors of Manos Alegria

A soft rainbow (timely!) of Gems, from Louet North America

A soft rainbow (timely!) of Gems, from Louet North America and Fresh Stitches

Another delicious rainbow from the folks at Wonderland Yarns

Another delicious rainbow from the folks at Wonderland Yarns

And finally, the new speckled yarns, Splatter Shot, from our friends at Lorna's Laces

And finally, the new speckled yarns, Splatter Shot, from our friends at Lorna’s Laces

There was also a lot of this going on…which helps you understand that, although it’s a work event, we also love seeing our fiber friends. There is a lot of hugging at TNNA.

Jillian, Stefanie Japel and Liz Gipson

Jillian, Stefanie Japel and Liz Gipson

Clara Parkes, Jill Draper, Miss Jillian again and Laura Nelkin

Clara Parkes, Jill Draper, Miss Jillian again and Laura Nelkin

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Obsession Thursday: continuing to heal

Last time I wrote, I told you about my upcoming surgery of a womanly sort and how that would affect Knitty’s next issue.

Since then:
– surgery went off very well
– took 2 hours longer than expected because my surgeon needed to consult during the procedure to make it as minimally invasive as possible
– I believe I asked the recovery room nurse to marry me after she gave me 4 perfect orange popsicles, one after another…just what i needed after having that tube down my throat (ack)
– some very lovely people visited me in the hospital (I just stayed overnight) and I felt very loved
– home the next day, feeling surprisingly good, but moving slow
– the usual post-general anesthetic symptoms gone in a few days (yay!)
– soon feeling almost zingy!
– and then the real zinger: a pinched nerve in my neck from all the proneness (since sitting up was not very comfortable the first few days)

So that last bit, that was actually probably the worst part of my recovery. I took myself back to the ER when I started to feel severe pain in both my arms, 5 days after surgery. All sorts of tests confirmed I hadn’t had a heart attack or stroke, and they sent me home. With no idea what was wrong. Oh, joy.

Cervical radiculopathy. I'll say...it's radiculous!

Cervical radiculopathy. I’ll say…it’s radiculous!

And then, Dr Mom diagnosed me. Pinched nerve. It was exactly that. Stretching my neck in a specific direction reproduced the pain. So gentle long stretches in the same direction finally relieved the pain. I’m continuing to do the stretches and the pain is gone, but my neck STILL feels like I let a tractor run over it. (I didn’t.)

For those who told me that a hysterectomy (total, laparoscopic, btw) would be an easy recovery, I thank you. You were right. It definitely was even easier than when I had my gall bladder removed. I find that surprising and a huge relief. Yay, modern medicine! Boo, neck nerves.

Anyway, Knitty production has resumed, albeit slower than usual. We will be bringing you a fabulous First Fall issue around the middle of June, as we predicted. Jillian and I are heading to TNNA in Washington, DC, next weekend (already? holy cow).  If you have a yarn shop, please stop us if you see us on the floor. We have a little something to give you.

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Obsession Thursday: ending the uterine tyranny

The legendary Womb pattern by MK Carroll.

The legendary Womb pattern by MK Carroll.

This is the Womb pattern, designed by MK Carroll for our Winter 2004 issue. Back in our embryonic days (see what I did there?).  One of our most popular patterns.

And for me, one of my most-hated body parts. Mine has turned on me in ways I will not describe to you. Bottom line is that the sucker has to go, and it’s going. Next week.

Those of you who’ve been following along will note that this is my second surgery since the Spring+Summer issue came out. Having my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome fixed was planned so that it wouldn’t impact on Knitty’s production schedule. My stupid uterus, however, has no respect for deadlines. It needs to go, and it needs to go NOW.

This means that the First Fall issue of Knitty, which would normally be out the first or second week of June will now be out some time after June 13th, when Jillian and I return from TNNA (our industry’s trade show) in Washington, DC. I’m sorry about this, but I’m pretty sure you will understand.

Knock wood, I’ll survive the surgery (hey, I’m a neurotic Jewish girl…it’s what I do) and that should be the end of it. This surgery is unbelievably common, and so many of you lovely former uterus owners have tweeted me to let me know how much better life will be once the bastard is history.

Thanks for your kind wishes, everyone. If you want to follow along with how things are going, I’m tweeting without going into messy detail over here. We uterus-holders have to stick together and share our knowledge. The online sisterhood, baby!

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Bonus: Amy on Marly Bird’s podcast!

unnamedWell, this is fun! I get to talk to my friend, Marly, who is an awesome human being. We first hung out together (at length) when I taped my class for Craftsy a few years ago in her hometown of Denver, CO. But we chatted on one of her earliest podcasts, and though that file is lost in the ether, I remember it being one of the most interesting interviews I’d ever done. She’s a smart cookie.

So this Tuesday, April 12, I’ll be talking to Marly again, live on The Yarn Thing at noon eastern time. Click the picture to go to the podcast page. If you happen to miss it live, you’ll find in in the on-demand section.

Will I be clever or goofy? Probably a little of both. It’s my thing. Talk to you tomorrow!

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