Friday, January 25, 2008

Help! I've Been Kidnapped by a Pirate!!

I'd prove it, but if I post his full and frightning image on the internet, he'd throw me overboard. And I kinda like it here.
I am not going to go into a long and detailed trip report. Suffice to say this is the first chance I've had to sit down and say hello to the blog, and that's only because I am unwell this morning and can't go out yet. I was thinking I'd do some laundry. $2.00 to wash, $2.00 for a half an hour to dry, and $2.00 for the soap. Maybe I can wash jeans in the tub after all, with free hotel shampoo. This laundry cost will be on top of the new camera we had to buy when all of our vacation photos began to look like varying degrees of this:

I am a blogger. I am a vacationer. A camera seems almost mandatory for those two activities. We went to a local Walmart and found a Canon A720 IS, and snagged it. It's the grown up big brother of my A75, and I love it. Kudos to Canon for keeping the A-series consistent in use and function while adding enhancements so that I can, with a little reading, pick up my new camera and come up with images better than the old one right of the bat. On the way to our destination I did finish something - Be Mine socks from 2-at-a-Time Socks, that hot new sock knitting book (giggle). I had copied the chart and stuck it in my bag before I flew to LA for TNNA, but really didn't study the chart until I cast on and was past the ribbing. I was heartbroken to see errors in the chart. Since then I've been sent a "corrected" version that still has an error - discouraging, as I'd expected to be able to post the corrections today in my gallery with a link here, but now must wait for a further correction. Anyway - the yarn is Franklin, a rejected Kangaroo Dyer color (not so much rejected, really as completely individualized and unique, like me!)
While I've been all vacation-y, things move right along in the blogosphere, and take me by surprise sometimes. For example, Yarnhog tagged me twice and I was totally not able to respond in kind. Mr. W. has seen the value of giving me internet access - $9.95 for 24 hours will buy him two mornings of "sleeping in" if he plays it right. It seems a small price for him to pay. So - I can only do the book one right now as I'm short on time. Open a book you're currently reading to page 161, sentence five. Mine says: "...the farthest west of all the parks on Walt Disney World property." Can you tell I am on vacation? The book is PassPorter's Walt Disney World 2008. I am not sure I like this book, but Mr. W. wanted it so we got it. I want to make my own Disney guide book, really, because I have so many ideas...
ANYWAY - I am tagging:
Tamara of Persnickety Knitter
Katy of Katywhumpus
Mary of 43 Skeins
Rachel of Diary of a mad, mad housewife
Kirsten of Two of Sticks, who does not blog enough and needs to put something up now and then.
Play along or not - but I hope they do. So do all of you. Because I am sure they've got much more interesting reading than where the restrooms are at the Magic Kingdom!
And then the Yarn Harlot posted about author hood. For anyone who's considering this exciting and fulfilling career, read her post as well as the linked post about authors and money, which is excellent and accurate. I love what I do, and I can't wait to do another book. But it's not wine and roses and big royalty checks. It's a bit like parenting, only no stretch marks, and no tuition bills.
Tina, the Knitting Contessa, finally got her copy of The Book. I think she should dump all other projects and cast on immediately. But that's just me, maybe. has started an Inauguration Day Scarf-Along. Although we may not always agree on politics, we can all agree on knitting. Or not. But either way a scarf-along is a fun way to make ready for the incoming president, whoever he or she may be. It might be interesting to see how my gauge changes as things progress.

p.s. - Mr. W. just brought me a little gift. If you're coming to Disney World, bring your own Immodium. Mickey gets $5.50 for six little pills.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Watch the Paper!

***scroll all the way down to meet "Patch", the newest member of***
The local newspaper, The Recorder (or whatever they call themselves now - when I was in elementary school it was the Greenfield Recorder Gazette; sometimes I hate change), will publish an article on Kristin Nicholas and myself on Saturday. I can't wait to see it. Or maybe I can. It's always kind of scary and surreal to see one's self in print.

So, on Monday morning I ordered yarn to swatch for submissions to the next One-Skein book, and yesterday most of it arrived. I was awed. Boxes from The Loopy Ewe and Just Our Yarn (J.O.Y.!!) appeared in my mail as if by magic a mere two days after I ordered. I ordered Caravan from J.O.Y. It's wool and camel down, and very very yummy. If you remember, I first found them at TKGA in Manchester, NH where I bought my first cashmere. I've been petting it ever since. They don't call themselves J.O.Y. for nothing. Not only is it luscious yarn that begs to be knitted, but they balled it for me as well, saving me time at a time when I really really need time. Saved time, stored time, earned time, extra time. Time in a bottle, on a shelf, time, time time; I'll take more time anytime.
I somehow managed to score at the Loopy Ewe, big-time. Don't tell Mr. W. but this can't ALL be used for submitting to one book. Obviously there will have to be pleasure knitting involved here.

I got some Hand Maiden Casbah Sock and Mini Maiden along with an old favorite of mine Seacoast Panda. I can't wait to get swatching. You know what I just realized? I never wrote up the Panda Assauteage socks I knitted on vacation. I am so lazy sometimes. Sheesh.
Anyway - looking forward to getting my paws into these yarns, and annoyed that I can't swatch all of them at once. Or...wait...can I? Four at a time swatches!! NEW BOOK!!
All that remains outstanding is the Sterling I ordered. Silver in yarn. I've wanted to try it for a long time and now seemed the appropriate moment to give it a whirl. Five yarns to choose from, and only one design to make. Or maybe two. Or five...

New Patch the Hatchback, his owner Girl, and one slightly befuddled salesman named Micheal. There are no winners, no losers, only drivers.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Flew. (And No One Died)

This is not a miracle, I know, but for me to actually get on and off not one but FOUR cramped, tin-can airplanes (OK. Maybe exaggerating. It was really two 737's, an MD-88 and a CRJ 700) without significant incident is, to my plane-phobic brain, a big deal. Not only did I get on and off, but I saw the Grand Canon, a desert or two, snow-topped very big mountains, and a lot of development on the California coast, all from the air. I have not flown since about 1999 when we had a horrible US Air flight back from Florida and I swore I'd never fly again. I think they've done something awful. I think they added more seats and took out all the leg room. I assume this is some post 9-11 "get more folks on so we can make more money and avoid bankruptcy" thing? Or maybe it was that cramped before and I just never noticed it. I did not like that part at all. I still love take-off and landing. I love to watch the earth drop away and come back. And I love seeing things from the air. I could still do without turbulence, or LAX security. And Xanax? It's a girl's best friend.
What a weekend. It started off with scared newbie knitting author, and ended with me calling people I'd always wanted to meet by their first names - and being stunned that some of them they knew mine. Judith, Kristin, Susan, Debbie, Christine, Jess and Casey (well, I already met them, but still), Kathy and Steve (ok, so I really know them, that's really cheating). The picture is, from left to right, Kristin Nicholas, moi, Christine White (amazing felting book!!) and Judith Durant.
It is not ok to take pictures on the TNNA floor, so I'll have to use links to show you the COOL stuff I saw. First I found Timeless Totes, which have the most beautiful fabrics. They make a line of totes for all needlecraft, from cross stitch and needlepoint to these awesome knitting duffles. I loved some of their fabrics, although their duffle felt a bit big for me. If I were still spending time with cross stitch their snap-in plastic inserts would be essential to me.
Lexie Barnes has new fabrics, two of which (diablo and pacifica) I WILL have in some form. I definitely need luggage tags (Venus). And Dottie, and a couple of Kitty, and more Minis....also the awesome little hobo called Jinx - it's reversible. I need two (one in each of the colors I love). Lexie for me is abject adoration. The words 'Lexie Barnes' cause my husband's hair to stand on end. Seriously. In my next book, I want to use Lexie bags as props, and then take them all home with me. By the way, Lexie is having a sale...just saying...I can't, but someone should. I have to save for the new fabrics, since I own so much of the old. But if you own none, or little, great chance to get some or MORE!
Namaste bags, which I also love but own none of has the most awesome badge holders. They are leather and say "To knit is to know". I saw one on a vendor and wanted it. At Namaste I asked how I could get one - could I order one? "I am not a buyer", I said "just a fan!" They handed me one. I LOVE it. I got a Bob pin too, from Jess and Casey, so Bob is the official badge holder mascot of Melissa Morgan-Oakes. I think he needs a Ravelry yarn ball buddy across from himself, to balance the look. And every dog should have a ball.
My signing was at How-2 Books on Saturday (ok, so I sneaked a picture. I had permission. I did not use a flash. But LOOK! My BOOK !! It's REAL! I circled it for proof.) Von, Cindy & Sue made me feel very comfortable, and I had a blast signing for them. We ran out of books much faster than I expected (there was a steady stream of people and suddenly all the books were gone, but there were still people!), and I felt bad for the people who did not get one - we had to turn people away. The support for the book from the knitting community is just awesome to see. I am very excited by it.
Just a couple of booths down from How-2 was Tanglewood Fibers. They have the most incredible yarns - no, like really amazing, like think of the most amazing, decadent thing you've touched and multiply it by 10. Or 100. It's handspun, hand dyed, unbelievable. To touch is to desire. I don't think I've ever felt this way about yarn before. I wanted to make a nest out of it and stay forever. I made Kathy go touch it, and I was hoping she'd buy some for Webs so I can get my hands on it. Totally to die for - if you find it, buy it, because you deserve it. We all do. Kitty-corner from How-2 was Conjoined Creations, which has got the most fun sock yarn concept called Flat Feet. Are you ready for this? It comes as a flat piece of wildly hand-dyed machine knitting with a waste yarn attached. You remove the waste yarn and begin knitting socks right from the flat knitted piece. I have to get my hands on this. Well, I will, since I think Kathy and Steve might have bought a little. It just struck me as so FUN. I must have some.
At Schaefer Yarns I found Cheryl and showed her what I'd done with her yarn in my book. She gifted me with a skein of Heather, and I cannot wait to make myself some socks...or maybe some for book 2. I have not decided yet. I love Schaefer's colors. I love their yarns. I used Anne for Sweetpeas, and for a design I did for Schaefer called Tilting at Windmills, and twice in the book.
On Saturday I got to meet Candi Jensen when I taped a spiel for the show she produces, Knit and Crochet Today. This is a PBS show that's growing by leaps and bounds - email your local PBS station and beg for it. Taping before me was Kaffe Fasset, followed by Mary Beth Temple who does it all - is there anything Mary Beth does not do?? Kaffe stood two feet from me. I was moved, awed even. Candi and Brett were wonderful. I was too short for the official hot seat, so they got me a pillow to sit on. This caused my feet to dangle off the floor. After a few attempts to find something to put my feet on, we settled for me sitting tailor style in the chair. I love being short. It's so...convenient (NOT!)
So I am sitting here kinda dizzy and off center, and thinking maybe I caught a bug. Mr. W insists it's jet lag. I tell him that I had made a decision before I left that I was not going to GET jet lag, and besides that's all about sleep, right? Wrong. Wikipedia says "The symptoms of jet lag can be quite varied, though on the whole, an individual may experience the following:

Dehydration (possibly because of dry air in the plane)
Loss of appetite
Nausea and/or upset stomach
Headaches and/or sinus irritation
Disorientation and/or grogginess
Insomnia and/or highly irregular sleep patterns
Irritability, irrationality
Mild depression"

I have, umm, eight of those. I've never had jet lag before. I've never crossed a couple of time zones in six hours before either. I don't think I like jet lag. I think I need a nap now. Or two.
I had so much fun in California. I loved meeting people and seeing things and signing books and just taking it all in - especially the 65 and sunny with a night breeze part. I hope I get to go to Columbus!

Attention all Drop-In Knitters! I will see you at Webs, Thursday Jan 17th, and we're having a candy-fest. But not just any candy. Bring your water bottles, and maybe a little bread to absorb the oil off your tongue. If you need it that is. Remember, my Drop-In Knitting is open to all, from 5:30pm - 8pm Thursday night. Don't worry Kristen, I'll find something for you that won't require asbestos gloves.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming...

***Barnes and Noble says they have the book, in stock, shipping within 24 hours. Just pointing that out. I love Amazon and all, but they're saying scary things. B&N is saying nice things.***
This will be sort of like the post I wanted to put up yesterday, but nowhere near as poetic, since now I have to pack for Long Beach and try to find Girl a new car and visit the insurance people and the wrecker people and make sure there's enough food in the house for Girl and Mr. W. while I am gone and all that sort of thing. But bear with me, I am trying. There's no knitting in this post, unless you count the part where I knitted for an interview, but that's later.
First, I was recently given a gift of this amazing lotion bar made by Tracy Ragan in Ashfield. She has been making goat milk soap and lotion bars for about three years, and began marketing them at local craft fairs a year ago. The lotion bars are made of beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter along with an essential oil. You just hold the bar in your hands for just a bit to let the bar melt, and then rub your hands together. It does not leave my hands too oily; the oils melt into your skin. I am in love with it. Tracy can be reached at Worth it. Lovely stuff, and I can't wait to find her at a craft fair and get more!
Second, there's this guy (Sean) who works with my husband and he's got three of the most adorable girls you could ever hope to see, and a wife, Brandy, who makes this - SOAP!! SOAP! Right practically in my own backyard, Good Forest Soap Works! And what do I love more than nearly anything?? Good handmade soap! This particular bar is Dragon Green Tea and Pear. It is made with olive, coconut and palm oil, essential oils, and mango butter (mmmMMmm). Brandy can be reached at She has other soaps in her line, including a very rich and yummy oatmeal. She needs a website. They both do. Websites are awesome.
Now, gruesome accident pictures? No, we'll save that for the end. Yesterday was a busy day for me - I started signing books and ended with an intact kid in a totaled car. Somewhere in the middle was an interview with The Recorder, our local paper, for a feature on sock knitting which will release in a couple of weeks. Kristen Nicholas was also interviewed. The article may even include a simple sock pattern. Very fun! And last week I was on Socks in the City podcast with Carrie which was fun. I like podcasts. I like podcasters! I just forget to put them on my MP3 player all the time! I had my picture taken for the paper which is always weird for me, not my favorite thing at ALL. But photographer Paul did an excellent job of catching me not looking too stupid, or making me laugh.
Then there was Girl. Did you ever have one of those moments where everything distilled down to the "what's really important" thing?? The moment when nothing else matters except what really matters? There I was, driving home from signing books, worrying about where books are. I am worrying about airplanes. I am worrying about which shirt will look best on television. And then...

all of a sudden...

nothing really mattered, except for one small thing. My daughter is alive.

Now, since I am all crying and stuff, we'll shift gears. It is not lost on me that Girl's airbag is pink. And the passenger's airbag is blue. And the passenger was a boy. Car is missing her driver's side front window. There is a piece of bumper in the back seat. Car is, well, not alive. Car is deader than a doornail. A replacement is being sought even as we speak. Maybe bigger. But still with the airbags. Love those airbags, man. Airbags and seatbelts. Seatbelts and airbags. Don't leave home without them.
Anyone remember Floyd from long ago?

Now we'll call him Floyd-Squash. He was over the mirror. He's all crimped, peering out over his knees which are jammed into his chest. Poor Floyd-Squash.
Parents, if you ever wonder what is in your kids car? This is how you find out. They total it and need a ride to retrieve their stuff. It's also a way to find out what's important to them. As in "Mom, where's my fishing pole?" It was in the trunk, intact. Not so much her bike helmet. Although the blue jeans and pile of shirts did well. And most of her CD's seem unharmed. But you know...I don't care. She's alive. Walking, talking, breathing, not injured (well, bruises and bumps and scratches) but ALIVE.
Now, I need to go pack and breathe and pack some more. City of Angels, here I come!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Books, anyone?

So I was going to come in here today and post about these two local people who do great things - one with soap and one with lotion bars, and tell you all about my exciting day signing a lot of books, big stacks of them.
And then my daughter called me and told me she'd been in an accident ("...but I'm ok mom...but my car is totaled..and the other girl is going to the hospital...and my airbag went off, but I am ok, mom, really"). I've decided to post tomorrow about the cool local things. Tonight I am just going to try not to scream. If that's ok.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

In The News

Yarn Market News, that is. Every month this little bundle of industry info comes to my door and I eagerly await what's inside. If it's yarny news, it's in here. Wait - oh, wait! LOOK! I am in here!! Flipping through the pages watching ads for TNNA go by, wondering how the he!! I am going to pack properly for an event I've never been to 3,000 miles from my home in a state I have not visited since I was 13, what will the weather be like, should I bring shorts or long underwear, do I even own shoes that will work for this, where are my black trouser socks, how do people dress for this thing, should I leave my engagement ring at home in case I go down in a ball of flames over Nevada so my daughter can have it - or Mr. W. can recycle it for the next wife who - maybe, if he's really, really lucky - will not have ridiculous fantasies about Being a Knitting Designer and Author and Teacher, WHERE is my xanax when suddenly, WHAM. There it is. ME! MY book! 2-at-a-Time Socks, right there, in review! They said I had mad visual spatial skills. They said the technique section was well-presented. They said there are sock patterns in all sizes and complexity levels. I am in YMN! The big time!! AND the books are on their way!! Things are so looking up!
I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but Girl totally scored with my Christmas gift again. She gave me the Josh Simpson bowl in this melange. What's all around it? Planets. More planets than I ever thought I would own. I had three (one of them Girl's which I co-opted saying it needed "to be seen" and if she put it in her room who'd see it but her?). Miss Tray-Tray, Air Force bound, stopped by last week and dropped a bag in my lap containing 11 more. Yes, I said 11. Eleven. She worked there and apparently they get a nice employee discount. So we've had a planetary explosion of sorts. Mr. W. is going to attach down-lights we got at Ikea for like $8 so they can be lit for better viewing. And I am going to have to dust more often. I am a glass freak, and a Simpson fan. Back in the day, these were very affordable, no one knew who Josh Simpson was yet, and I wanted one in the worst way. We could not afford it then, so to be standing in front of 14 planets and a bowl is like nirvana for me. My son did well also - a slick ear-talky thing for my cell, so I don't go off the road. It's even got voice capability so if I get a voice capable cell I won't even have to dial. I can just say "Mister Wonderful Work" and it will dial him. COOL!
When I am not staring at the Simpson glass or calling people on my cell phone, I knit. I cast on a pair of socks for Mr. W. as soon as the others were off the needles. These are Brooks Farm Acero. The pattern is modified Cat Bordhi Ridgeline socks from New Pathways, with a mirror image cable running up the center. I generally steer clear of patterns with variegated yarns, but I get bored with just stockinette stitch or rib (like his last pair - yawn!), so figured why not. The cables keep me interested, which is good. I love Acero. This is my second pair of Acero socks. Kind of me to give a pair to Mr. W. - I bought this specific yarn for me. Easy come, easy go. Now I've got my eye on the Capistrano I won from Spin-Out, so it's ok, and I have more Acero.
I also advanced on the Sheffield Vest With No Name Yet. Love it. Love the yarn. love how it drapes, love the cables in it. After today it will be all stockinette for a while. Then I am thinking maybe attached i-cord around the whole thing. That's where I am leaning today anyhow. Always subject to change in Melissa's World. By the time I get back from buying grain and dog food and mailing some stuff out, I could have gone in a completely different direction with this thing. For now it's a vest. Although I was thinking about sleeves. Hmmm. See what happens?
We had company on January first. Mr. Wonderful despises these little visitors. You may need to click on it to see him - he's snow-covered. Note the proximity of our snow-covered guest to the carefully protected infant apple trees? Mr. W. spent hours building cages for the fruit trees to keep the deer off. This guy seems intent on finding a way around the cages. We were told that soap worked well to deter deer. This guy is standing about 4 feet from a bar of Lava, the most horrific smelling soap on earth and he seems largely unmoved. I will probably find out that Lava is scented with deer musk. Just betcha. This guy came with a group (they always do). Girl says it's like a Bambi cast reunion around here. We've got a rabbit that the cat watches from the window every evening, owls that Mr. W sees when he walks Boo-Boo at night, and a skunk who wanders through occasionally.
How many people think Amy should find a way to take/send me to Disneyland while we're in Long Beach? It's like a half an hour away. I will be so close. So close. Disney's California Adventure...Disneyland...all right there. If you're looking for me on the floor at TNNA and no one knows where I've gone? Betcha now you'll know where to find me. Second star to the right and straight on till morning. Sorry Mr. W. Yes, I'd go without you. In a heartbeat. But I'd take lots and lots of pictures. I promise.