Wednesday, August 30, 2006

No Excuses

But I can make some up as we go along here.

I have not blogged since the 17th, and I have no good excuse. There's been some knitting, but nothing exciting or finished. I am working on two projects at the moment. No...three. Wait. Four. Oh. I forgot Gene's Endless Socks; that makes five.

There are no pictures. First, I am working on Malea's Rockstar Jacket in Royal Bamboo. I like this pattern, the charts are very clear and easy to follow. Unless you have a row gauge issue. And then you have to stop and re-jig the charts so your decreases for the arm scyes happen correctly. But we're not going to discuss that right now, or my eye will start to twitch again. Since Malea has given me the mugs and I sip from them every morning, I feel obligated to haul tushie on this project. At the same time, I must go cautiously, calculating as I go to compensate for the row gauge difference between the yarns. So I take breaks here and there and work a few rows of other projects.

Nearing completion, and I am hopeful for today, is a shawl for Gail, a.k.a. Kangaroo Dyer. She had some lovely stuff that she'd dyed up and needed pattern support for. My plan was for an undulating wave-like pattern, simple but dramatic, in a rectangle shape with a simple crocheted ruffle edging. It should be done today or tomorrow and then I can post a picture. Then I have to write it and email it to her with some photographs, assuming I can find a willing model. She's requested a specific model, and it's not even Cirilia, but I am not sure if we'll have compliance.

In between times I work on another Noro Silk Garden project for myself, a garter stitch cardigan now after my Revised Klaralund. OH! The Cirilia-Lund!! I forgot to get a picture of that, and it's being washed now. Oh well. Suffice to say that it took me days of endless wearing to release it for washing and blocking. I love the thing. That's only three. What am I forgetting?

I remember - I am teaching a round of My First Sweater this fall and I needed to make a sample of the garment using the pattern before I try to teach it to others. I ambitiously decided to do an adult size. MISTAKE. I don't have time, who was I kidding?? So that's in progress and will have to get some attention soon. I cannot even remember when class starts. AH! The end of September. See, I've got time, all sorts of time!!

And Gene's Endless Socks, unusual for me because I whip socks off like nothing, but these ones seem stuck to the needles and have given no indication of leaving any time soon.

On top of this we have Life Complications. 1.) The Investment Property (this is a tongue in cheek concept, folks, we'll be lucky to get out even) is under deposit, but not yet sold. That means we are paying two mortgages and since no one stays in the house but us once a week or so, there's no rental income. We don't like to say that in front of Mr. Wonderful. He gets this look, and mumbles words I can't repeat. 2.) Summer. I don't know why, but summer sucks up time. It's like they have some competitive thing going, who can beat who to the finish line. Days get shorter, time disappears. Projects need completing, events need attending.

Speaking of events. Poor Girl. This is very sad, and is getting sadder. For Girl's graduation she requested, and was given, tickets to see John Mayer at The Meadows in Hartford. I bought three tickets. One was for Girl. One was for me. The third was for Mr. Wonderful, because we needed either a driver, or a room for the night. MelissaKnits turns into a pumpkin promptly at ten pm. Mayer was appearing with Sheryl Crow, and we grown-ups are fans enough of hers to listen for a couple of hours. And I like Mayer, actually, now that he's steering away from the pop-scene and into a more blues-influenced style. We got in line just before 6pm. The gates were supposed to open at 6, and we'd skipped supper, intending to be really bad and eat junk. We waited. We waited and waited and waited. At 6:30 a security guy emerged and surveyed the scene. We asked him what was up. The response "Something with production, they're not telling us anything, but we should be opening any minute." We waited some more. We waited and waited and waited. And waited. People started smoking, Girl started coughing. Asthma is so fun to take on the road. And now the crowd stretched behind us, up a hill behind a thing called 'The Expo Center' (don't ask me, I live in the woods!), and was fanning out on either side of us and getting deeper and thicker every minute. It reminded me of why we live in the woods.

Now 7:00 with a 7:30 starting time...and security emerges again, hinting at something complicated, but not saying what. I watch him as he finds friends in the ticket line just to our left and begins speaking to them. Reading faces and gestures can be as effective as reading lips, you know. Things were about to turn sour. As I am watching them converse and trying to glean as much information as possible from their faces, the overhead intercom comes on. A tape began playing over and over; you know the kind, the relentless repetitive recordings that make you want to smash speakers? It appologized, and citied technical difficulties. It did this over and over and over. I turned to Mr. W. and said "They're gonna cancel it." Girl was initially crestfallen but stubborn in her belief that it would work out. She ended peeved at my suggestion that Mayer would ever disappoint his fans. Then security people emerged, all wearing headsets and each carrying a sheet of paper. The woman in charge said "OK, let's get started." The security folks fanned out and started reading their handwritten announcements. "We regret to inform you that John Mayer will not be performing tonight." In front of me, two young teens looked ready to cry. I felt for them. So did Girl. They got out of line. The announcement continued... "If you wish to receive a full refund for tonights performance, do NOT enter the gates. Refund information will be made available on our website early next week. Sheryl Crow will perform her full headline set. If you wish to see Sheryl Crow, please enter the gates. If you enter the gates, no refund will be given." By now the overhead intercom had joined the song. No Mayer. A fuzzy lollipop for Girl. A big huge fuzzy lollipop.

We debated. We considered. I was about ready to pass out from hunger. I'd done 80 minutes on the treadmill and skipped lunch. I was running on a handful of peanuts. I was in a cold sweat and my hands were shaking. Mr. Wonderful did his weekly 3 hour ride in the morning and also skipped any real lunch, figuring we'd eat "crap" instead. We'd been in line for an hour and a half, plus. I needed to pee. Girl was wheezing from smokers. The line behind us was endless. I wondered how long it would take us to get back to our car, and questioned whether we really wanted to be leaving the parking lot with a bunch of angry tailgaters. And I like Sheryl Crow. My daughter does not. She wanted to see Mayer. This was supposed to be the capstone on her last summer of girlhood. Jamie Cullum at the Calvin, then Mayer at the Meadows, and college next week. I felt bad asking her to enter the gates. I knew she really had lost the ambition to step through that queue line into a location where Mayer would not be performing. We pointed out the Mayer merchandise - a t-shirt perhaps? A tour item, not available online... and food - there's food in there...she entered with us.

We ate food that was horrible - it had been sitting in it's own grease for 1.5 hours waiting for early entry folks. Really really horrible. I downed a Blimpies wrap so fast I don't even know what was on the thing. Girl and Mr W. got a worse deal than I did. They ordered hot food. A hot dog that had cooked for an hour and a half too long, and fries and chicken fingers that were cold and had absorbed 1.5 hours of grease. I personally topped my lousy food with worse beer - Bud draft - I am not sure it gets any worse than that. It indicates the desperation of the moment that I was willing to drink the King of Yellow-Water. Mr Wonderful caved and had one too.

Here's where it gets sadder - Mayer has announced that he's going to do "something nice" for his Hartford fans. I assume this will only be people who requested and received a refund. Because we entered the gates, Girl won't even get to be part of the special Hartford fan moment. Guilt. Maternal guilt coming out of my eyeballs. Almost as bad as when we left the Nickel Creek concert early because I was worried about Boo (he was a baby then) and we found out later that just after we left they shut down the amps and played acoustic - they way they're meant to be heard - for another hour or more.

I got a t-shirt (Sheryl, breast cancer awareness) to wear on my bike and a canvas bag (Every day is a winding road..."), and Girl got a Mayer hoodie, and spent the evening responding to "Are you cold?" with "No...John is keeping me warm....". one shining note of joy, one blip of happiness on the sad radar of Girl's bad weekend...

I'm expecting. Any minute, maybe even today. This is my new baby. A Trek Pilot 1.2 WSD. Isn't she beautiful?? I had to order a 43cm frame, as I am too short to be anything remotely "in stock". She should be at the shop today and assembled by afternoon, so I can go and fetch her home. I traded the toe clips out for clipless pedals, so now have to commit to riding clipless on the road, which is a little worrisome, but everyone assures me I will only fall over once. The last time I was on the road was 2 years ago, at our old house, on my hybrid Specialized which I took tooling around town for bank, post office and library errands, and local farm chores. (Farmers need vacations too, and the chores don't just do themselves while the farmer is off playing, you know. This is where I come in.) I've been riding on the trainer for a while, and getting stronger and feeling like I want some road time. There are no phones on the road. No deadlines, no clock, nothing but me and the bike and the road. Isn't she just the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? Look at her shiny lava red frame and her beautiful bontrager cranks and her carbon fork. See her little Shimano 105 derailleur? Isn't she adorable??? I had to pick her without a test ride. In order to test ride I would have to go into a city and find two or three dealers who keep a series of extra small frames in stock and assembled of at least 2 or 3 models of various makes of bikes. Although I love my Specialized and really wanted to ride a Dolce before I made my final decision. They do women specific bikes, but did not give me any information about what's different Trek did. In fact, they went to great lengths to make sure a shopper can see the specific differences in frame and componants. I am entranced by Trek's Women Specific Design program and the effort they put into quality componants on women's and smaller bikes. Shorter cranks, shorter top tube length, shorter stem...all of this speaks to my complaints on my current bike. I'm reaching too far, I am too stretched out...I trust that Trek has resolved that, and I trust their dedication to designing for women. As Trek says, "He doesn't wear your swimsuit, why should you ride his bike?" Amen.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nick of Time

HA-HA!! Saved from Red Heart!! It took some doing. A lot of steam, a lot of sweat, and some mindless watching of Shrek (I love it when the bird explodes), but here she is, needing a final block and some buttons, Colorful Tracks. I am not in love. I spent a lot of anger on this one, and when they make me angry, they really go to the time-out corner in my mind and stay there for a while. Maybe when she's got her collar straight and her buttons on, I will like her more. The yarn is Berkshire and Berkshire Hand Dyed. The beautiful and not inexpensive buttons I bought do not match (shhhh...don't tell Mr. Wonderful....) The pattern will be available someday soon at your LYS in a file labeled MelissaKnits or through this blog, or my website (also coming soon!).

I had a Scunci incident. I think this may be due to our well water, but it must be dealt with, and soon. For some reason, Beloved Scunci decided to pee on rather than steam the sleeves. They're still not dry and they've been hanging all night. I actually put them on damp just to get her done. It did fine on the fronts and back, but then had a little accident on the sleeves that cost me a lot of time. And, because they were not well and truly steamed, they curled and made me insane during construction. I may wet block the whole shootin' match. I really prefer wet blocking and since there is no deadline with this, I can take the time to do it my way. This is the first full garment that's mine all mine. Not for Webs, not for anyone but my own selfish publication. I can take time, I can let her drip, I can find the perfect button.

I love the way the hand dyed looks knitted in this stitch. I just love it. It's what started the whole Make Tracks thing - a swatch in the hand dyed done in this stitch. Then the concept changed to a solid color with the decision to carry the hand dyed in worsted only, and a need for a Berkshire Bulky garment. But this is where it started. I love the way things move and shift and end up where they are supposed to be without my really doing anything. Make Tracks was supposed to be colorful. Colorful Tracks was supposed to have a stand-up sort of collar like her cousin, but then I bound it off and said "I like this better". I love that these kinds of serendipitous things can happen if you let them. If you get into micro-managing, making it happen your way, it can't become something better than you imagined. You have to allow it to be what it wants to be. It's amusing because I have found this true with dolls, sewing, felting, all becomes what it needs to be, and I just help it navigate the journey. This is incredibly ironic as those who knew me B.F. (before fiber) may remember that I was an insane, obsessed type A with a huge drive to not just pass, but pass witha 4.0, and not just get by, but go beyond and stomp all competition. One day I was spinning (badly) and suddenly thought "Let go. Just let go." The next thing you know, I "retired" from Type A, mainlining caffeine, nursing; the whole lifestyle; and just am so much happier now. Peaceful is a good word. An 'Ahhhhh...' sort of life.

Swatching some Amherst lately for a yoked pullover. I started this swatch and now am not sure if I like it or despise it. Frustrating. I don't hate it enough to discard it, but I don't love it enough to not try some other options. Time will tell! Today I am going to swatch Malea's Rock Star again, on a 3 this time, and see if I can't get gauge. Then I will work on Gail's shawl, photo coming soon, which I'd like to have done by the end of the week. Clearing my plate for what comes yarn, new garments - the stuff of my life!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


This is the face of indigestion, age: 3 weeks. 20 years ago this night, at about this time, I ate a significant portion of a large pizza with extra cheese, hamburger and onions, and drank an orange soda, which I detest but on that occasion tasted good. Then I sat in my mother's rocking chair and rocked, oblivious of my mother or my then-husband in the next room. I just needed to sleep, I thought, and take a Tums, and all would be well.

We went home and I went to bed. At 2am my indigestion was 3 minutes apart and by 8am it was on my chest, squalling and gray. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. There is nothing to explain that moment of insanity in a mother, when that odd looking animal is placed in their arms and they are certain that they have never seen anything as lovely, and never will again.

Funny though...I've pretty much had the same indigestion for 20 years. It comes and goes now, not as present as it has been, but still there and I suspect always will be. Today my indigestion called me at 6am to ask how to make french toast. Some days it calls because life is unfair and it is upset. Some days it calls to complain about it's Other Parent, or it's grandmother, or it's girlfriend. Some days it calls to say it's got a wonderful new job, or money in the bank, or something equally stellar. Someday it will call to tell me it is marrying, or having indigestion of it's own. I will laugh secretly knowing what's ahead. But that's fair; I am sure my parents laughed at me when I came to them at 18, insisting I was getting married, and then again three months into the marriage, when I announced I was pregnant. But in the end it's all good.

I know they shook their heads a lot more when I remarried a man with two kids of his own, older than mine. But that worked out too, in it's own sweet time. There were bumps along the way, to be sure. His youngest child displaced by a new "baby" in the form of the 2 year old Girl, and my first born son often taking a back seat to two older stepbrothers. You can bet there were issues. There were times when I despaired for all of us except the dog, who seemed unmoved and secure in her universe. The rest of us foundered and struggled and wondered.

When I look back at them then, and see my face stamped into both of theirs in a way I never saw it before, I am struck by the power of motherhood. Inside of me I nurtured and cradled two lives. Two whole other people, who came out of me and into their own. No other relationship in your entire life will ever be as close physically, genetically and in many ways emotionally as that of a mother and her children. Even a father (and I mean no disrespect to the noble role of fatherhood) can't even be as close to his children as a mother can. They grow in us from a mere bit of DNA, two cells coming together to create a new whole, developing, growing until they emerge as independent people. I't pretty bloody staggering, really.

Tomorrow I will call my indigestion at 7:59 am and wish him a happy birthday. He will tell me how old I now am, and I will dismiss it. I don't feel 39 most of the time anyway. And it's not about age anyway. Age is relative. I's about life, experience, learning, growing. If you look at the face of that girl up there at the top, with that baby, I see someone I know but barely recognize. You'll see a lot of things - or I do. Exhaustion, confusion, dismay, fear. Mostly awe, though, amazement and awe. Whatever else I do in my life, wherever I go, whoever I become, it cannot compete on any level with the act of mothering.

Now, "WHO let that child take that BABY home with her????"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rules of War

Since there seems to be some sort of battle engaged between myself and a certain garment that shall remain nameless, I decided to investigate the rules of war and see if these is not something I am missing here. I did not declare this war. IT did. IT started when it refused to tolerate the seed stitch border I intended. IT continued into a gauge error. It expanded into a monstrous needle error which can only be explained by feverishness on the part of the knitter, followed by two weeks of distracting coughing fits. According to Wikipedia, there are some basic rules of war, to wit:

1.) That wars should be limited to achieving the political goals that started the war (e.g., territorial control) and should not include unnecessary destruction

2.) That wars should be brought to an end as quickly as possible

3.) That people and property that do not contribute to the war effort be protected against unnecessary destruction and hardship

I protest this war.

1.) I am not certain what the political motivation of yarn is. I feel that this is entirely a personal attack, nothing political, and therefore in violation of rule 1. And I would consider the ripping out of intarsia TWICE to be unnecessary destruction. Not to mention "instigation of foul language normally reserved for stubbed toes".

2.) HAH! As quickly as possible??? I am a fast knitter, no big secret.
Lately I am unable to complete even a simple pair of socks without the threat of this monster over my head. I am becoming slow. It is expanding into all areas of my life and verges on obsession, yet I cannot seem to muster courage to return fire. This is because I know that the engagement is simply unethical under rule 1, and I am reluctant to engage under those circumstances. I have adopted a "wait and see" approach. I wait, and see if any new attacks happen. And when they do I attempt negotiation first, but for some reason communication is not forthcoming, only more war. IT continues in it's aggressive and unfounded attacks against my person.

3.) This is, perhaps, the saddest part of this war of mine. Others have indeed suffered. My dogs get shorter walks. My daughter gets snapped at and my husband gets to hear me use words I never use while helping me to re-roll, for the zillionth time, three balls of battered and beleagured Berkshire.

This is how the tale began: In the beginning there was a swatch, and the swatch was good. MelissaKnits saw that the swatch was good, and she sat down with pen and paper and drafted a pattern (in five sizes) using Beloved Berkshire and Delightful Berkshire Hand Dyed. The intention was to create a colorful version of Make Tracks in a smaller gauge - worsted instead of bulky, hand dyed swaths of woven color in place of a solid. The gauge was measured and recorded and calculated. Needle size was verified and documented. Measurements, sketches, schematics all were in place. Numbers filled the little spreadsheet for six sizes. The Back was begun. Five or six inches into The Back it became obvious that the Plan was not working. The Back was ripped, and reknitted (and is visible in the picture, lovely no?) Additional measurements and calculations followed. The gauge on the colorful bit is different than the gauge of the solid bit. Sleeves, being solid, most be calculated at solid-bit gauge. Not a big deal. I calculated. I knit. Measure twice, knit once, I always say. I probably overdid the measurement bit, in fact. At this point, in spite of the initial rip-out, I was willing to let bygones be bygones. One bad choice of the yarn (it chose to ripple), one small miscalculation of the knitter - it was clearly a communication failure and both of us were to blame. I let it go. The sleeves flew. Normally I reserve sleeves for last, as a sort of reward. In this instance I decided to get them done now, as a break from our unhappy beginning, to clear our minds of the distress of the original rip-out.

Sleeves completed and in the bag, I began a Front. Normally I work both fronts at once, but as this is intarsia I decided one at a time with 3 balls going was sufficient. Thank God I did. I picked up my needles, the ones nearest the sleeves, and cast on. I worked my...tuckas, shall we say? for a bit. Suddenly the knitting felt tight, very tight. And my throat felt scratchy and tingly. And my nose felt stuffy and full. And my head was sore. I kept knitting. It must be the cold. It feels tight because the room is tight, the air is tight, my head is tight. I checked gauge. I read my notes. I loosened my grip. It had to be the right needles, they were right there with the sleeves. They felt small, but...well, fever will do that to you. And here is the sad part - internally suspecting that war had been declared, I persisted in my reasoning that all would be well, all was in order, I was just sick and distracted, and everything would be fine. At some point in my delerium I chucked it off to the side, about 3" from the neck shaping. I made socks instead. Socks are a great sick project. At the end of last week I remembered Colorful Tracks and picked it up and worked the last three inches. Monday I headed into the neck shaping and thought "This is freaking TINY. What is WRONG with this thing? What the hell was I doing here?" I pulled out the Back. I pulled out the Sleeves. I dragged out the tape measure. I measured and re-measured. I pulled out the knit check and the schematic and the notes and the pattern. I measured again. And then it hit me, clear as day, I saw it.

OBVIOUSLY someone had been playing with my papers. OBVIOUSLY someone (I assume it was the yarn, who else could it be? No one else writes like me!) decided to calculate gauge for an entirely different garment on the side margin of the Colorful Tracks schematic page. "CONSPIRACY!" I thought. It has to be. In my feverish state, They took over. Needles, yarn, pen, paper...they're all in it together. My anger and my paranoia grew. I felt the world spinning, I hyperventilated. In a horrible act of desperation I checked the size of the needles. There it was, the final, ultimate insult. They shrank. When I began they were size U.S.8's, I just know they were. I had, after all, just bound off the sleeves when I cast on the front. I grabbed the same needles...unless...unless SOMEONE switched them! As I slid the needle into the size U.S.5 hole and realized that I had been horribly and heartlessly duped, the earth fell away and I found myself sitting, on my chair, high above it all, ready to jump.

This is where my husband found me Monday evening. Perched on the edge of my chair, ready to jump, a small glass of white wine at my side, the Front across my lap, scissor in hand. There seemed only one solution. Assault. Attack. Return Fire. Kill the S.O.B. Not a kind and gentle rip and re-ball, but a forcible brutal attack; shredding, mangling, dicing, converting into pillow stuffing. As I explained the gravity of the situation to him, searching for a language he can understand, my composure returned sufficiently to prevent Yarn Death. He asked if he could help. (awwwwww......) Initially reluctant to share my pain, I yielded. I drank my wine, babbled endlessly and nonsensically about least I think it was sexism?...honey? what was I babbling about? Oh! Communication differences! failure to communicate (the needles and yarn must be male), lack of recognition of the normal and healthy differences between men and women, a lack of patience and tolerance when communicting with people different from ourselves. What the hell this had to do with anything I do not know, but it prevented me from fully recognizing the destruction taking place before my eyes.

And now we are back to square...four? The back and sleeves completed, the front ready to be cast on with size aaaaaaytes, not fives, the yarn ready to be re-balled on the gadget for that purpose into tidy center-pull balls.

But I can't start. Yesterday I tried to swatch. It was a disaster. Nothing went as planned. I was using the same size 8's intended for Colorful Tracks, and they protested under my fingers as I knitted. I must yield. I must return to the field of battle, no longer afraid to confront the Enemy. I will not give in. I will not step aside. A sweater WILL be completed by next week Wednesday - finished, buttons and all - or I will....

well, hell, I almost said "quit knitting", but skip that. I shall...

hmmm...I need something dramatic, but reasonable...not too over the top, but enough to show I mean business. A week is a long time to finish two fronts, after all, so it might be safe to make it a huge threat...

HAH! I've got it! If this thing is not done by next Wednesday I will design something in Red Heart Super Saver!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ducks Rule.

This is my duck. I love my duck. Really he is the intellectual property of Mark Klein of New England Rural Images, but he's MY duck. I cannot wait to paint this room and hang him. This guy's stuff is wonderful. I love photography anyway, but this stuff really caught my attention. polar bears, loons, New England on fire (that blessed annual event!), the cold comfort of winter, and glorious spring, the rugged was why we stay here all rolled into one booth.
I met my duck Sunday at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen annual fair in Sunapee, NH. I only have a couple of regrets - one, that I did not shell out $30 to throw a pot. Silly, I know, but I have always wanted to get my hands on a wheel - literally since a visiting potter came to my first grade classroom and we were allowed to look but not touch. It's a problem. I may need help. My second regret is that I was unable to purchase this lamp but in red for my office. Mr. Wonderful reacted as if I had asked for a Porsche or something. There was some loss of speech and breathe, some pulling at the collar and a painfull choked out "Ummm..I don't think so...." Sheesh. it's only $1500. Perhaps I should eventually play with molten rock too. Next Craft! I also got these buttons from Cheryl Kumiski Glass. I am a bit of a button tramp, in addition to my bag problem. I would willingly forgo dinner out, a trip to the hairdresser, or my coffee for a good button. These I just loved. The blue-purple set is for Colorful Tracks (coming soon, I swear!!) and the red and green set, well, I sort of mentally drew a sweater on the spot to justify their purchase. Now I have to draw it and knit it. I just love them. Glass buttons are like a little bit of fire on your knitting. They catch the light and draw the eye. A tiny bit of sparkle and flash, just enough to garner attention.
This trip was a celebration of my mother-in-law's birthday. Here are she and Girl pretending to enjoy the ride up in the backseat of a Honda Civic coupe (it was her son's decision to take this instead of the car with the A/C and four whole doors - of course, we often wonder if that car will drop dead in the middle of a day trip, but the doors and air are handy in summer). We enjoy taking her places. She generally has a good time - well, at any rate she has not complained and anyone with a halfway decent mother-in-law is fully aware of their ability to express opinions, both wanted and unwanted. I suppose it's fair. They get the stretch marks, midnight feedings, doctor's office waiting rooms, sleepless nights waiting for the return of the child they bore and we get the finished product for better or worse till death us do part, by which point it's a fully grown man with a job and an income and some useful skills in place. I figure they have a right to get what they want a fair amount of the time. I probably would not feel that way if I had not reared boys. It's a lot of labor, and not a lot of payoff. Your daughter will probably come to the nursing home and wipe your drool. Your son will send his wife to do it. We bought her a birthday gift of the coolest hummingbird feeder. This guy, Bobby Bell, was featured on DIY Network. I love the feeders, they have multiple levels and little copper resting spots, and even a place for the hummingbirds to take a bath. Beyond the cute factor, they're made of Pyrex glass and so are more durable than the average hummingbird trough. I spent a lot of time last night trying to find out where I can get more of his feeders. I searched online. I read through the alphabetical listing of fair participants. Nothing. If I want one for myself, it'll have to wait till next year!
Mr Wonderful packed a picnic lunch (after I cooked it) and we feasted on healthful and inexpensive food versus fair fare. I highly recommend this - last year we did not plan ahead and I ended up with a salad about the size of a half-dollar for six bucks. I seem to remember some very strange tasting alleged chicken tossed on the top. Girl and Mr W. had hotdogs that were $2.50 a piece and tasted like total dreck. Waters were $2.00, I believe. If you want me to pay for it, it needs to be decent food. Otherwise, I'm packing it. We had whole wheat pasta salad, fruit salad and egg sandwiches (because at the home of MelissaKnits we never ever lack for an egg from March till October). He even served us, mostly - this is why I enjoy having my mother-in-law around. Under normal circumstances it is more likely that I would be serving. But because he is a good boy, and well-reared, he knows to serve his mother when she is present. He took this to the extreme last night and prepared dinner (after I prepped it) on the grill for her. His grill skill improves daily. If I could only teach him how to judge the done-ness of a steak without whacking a big old hole in it, sending vital juices pouring out, we'd be all set. Nice day for me - minimal prep, almost no clean-up, and no cooking! Ahhh....
There was some crochet at this event, and a little knitting. I know for dead certain that I could never be a production knitter. Patterns, yes. Garments, no. You have to have a pretty large stock on hand. Bleck! One woman, Marcy Schepker uses recycled sweaters and other knits and woolens to make stuffed animals and hats and things. Great idea, saves a lot of woolens and knits from destruction. She also does a lot of tapestry weaving. Linda Sturgeon of The Endless Thread does some lovely hand-crocheted contemporary vests and sweaters. She uses lots of rich natural fibers in subdued colorways to create these really beautiful garments. I have no images - it's difficult to take phots at an event like this, as everyone thinks you're out to copy them. Kind of sad, but sadly true.
Then there were these beautiful knit and felted hats by Carrie Cahill-Mulligan. Her display included a before and after demo. Let me tell you, these are some seriously felted down hats.
Other items of note from the fair - they're open daily from 10a-5p until August 13th. An $8.00 ticket gets you in for a second day free (hence the pile of tickets in my purse, in case I want to go back!). Sunapee is running their quad lift as a skyride, which I really wish we'd done (third regret!). The views are amazing. There are performing artists, demonstrations, and even a few workshops for children and adults. There is also a Next Generation tent where children of crafters offer items for sale, a Living With Craft exhibit, and juried pieces with their awards on display. This is a very old fair - 73 years, The Oldest Craft Fair in America, in fact! A sculpture garden overlooks the venue, featuring some lovely pieces for sale or perusal. I personally loved this, listed as Dream Catcher, untitled. The picture does not do it justice and it really needs to be viewed in person. The artist is Joy Raskin from Concord, NH, and the media is brass, copper, monofilament and glass. Also this item, called Spider Chain, by Ethan Hamby and Shauna Brautigam in stoneware, porcelain and melted glass. Initially we believed it to be gourds, but on closer acquaintance it certainly was not. These are two rare items that I'd put in my garden - I generally steer clear of outdoor art because it requires my attenion periodically and I have more than enough trouble weeding. These would be worth it. I would love to see "Spider Chain" lit up in the evening. But don't go on the second day of the fair, and if you do go, be very early. We arrived about a half an hour before opening and were parked very close to the main gate. Most of our early viewing was simple and comfortable. By 1pm, things had changed. After viewing the sculpture garden, I took this image (click on it for a better view) from the main lodge...note the lack of circulating air between patrons. What you can't see is that all tents are similarly mobbed, and the lunch tent at this point was standing room only. We usually go on a weekday, but scheduling did not allow for it. Our first visit found us walking about a half a mile to get to the gate. We later determined that shuttles run continously from the back lots to the main entrance, but if it's very hot the wait for the next bus can seem eternal. This isn't Disney - they're not thirty seconds apart! But it's not difficult to get to, and it's worth the trip. Bring your wallet, a good lunch, and comfortable shoes!
OH! I worked on a sock. There. Knitting content! More soon, I keep promising, but I do mean it!