Thursday, May 29, 2008

Goodnight Bush

Remember Goodnight Moon?  My son loved it.  We carried a dog eared copy around for years.  We even recited it together in the car (pre DVD days) on long trips, resulting in a sleeping little boy.  I bought it for my first grandchild as I thought the reading of this book was required.   Remember all the detail in the pictures? the rhythmn of the words?  Remember how the pictures changed subtly from one page to the next and how reality was suspended?  Little did I know I was being prepared for the Bush Administration.

Wednesday night is Knit Night which is always a highlight of my week so yesterday was no exception.  Afterwards I usually do some grocery shopping as we meet at Wegmans.  One of the first things I check out are the magazines and books.  Last night I was stopped in my tracks by this one.

Huh? Well I picked it right up and looked quickly through the book knowing almost immediately Goodnight Bush was coming home with me. This is an unauthorized parody by Erich Origen and Gan Golan.  It was published by Little, Brown and Company so I also know which publishing house I will try to buy from in the future.

The two authors had to have been thinking about this for quite some time as the words and illustrations are first rate and bitingly funny. They state in the afterword that King George was born one year before the first publication of Goodnight Moon and that he and his family venerate this book to even having the room created in gingerbread miniature for his first White House Christmas.  "Bush himself, while campaigning, referred to Goodnight Moon as one of his childhood favorites (along with Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which was not actually published until one year after Bush graduated from college; the president's infancy was clearly an extended one.)"

In the situation room
There was a toy world
And a flight costume
And a picture of-

Get this book. You will laugh. You will wonder at ourselves but also you will definitely be entertained and impressed by the words, the pictures and the sharp insight.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Twinkle Twinkle

The grand kids are all too big now for little baby things and my circle of friends are mostly beyond babies but I had a craving to make a cute little something anyway. So a little baby sweater was begun with the intention of making a quick pretty shop/vending sample. The picot edge went beautifully  as I showed you in Dither and Yon but then the directions confused me. I quickly emailed Melissa who wrote back just as quickly with the needed explanation. This got me through the slipstitch section but once  the seed stitch and smocking prep area began I ran into more confusion.

With a bit more back and forth emailing yours truly became the pattern’s editor. I write patterns and certainly try them out myself but being an editor is a different headset. I like to be more right brained than left so editing is an effort for me what with making sure every instruction is clear and accurate. Good thing I have a math background too. And yes, I had to stay mostly left brained when I taught but it is not my preferred state of being. I have much more respect for what Bonnie A does for my sock patterns now. You rock Bonnie!

 I had never smocked before so this was an excellent test of Melissa’s final instructions. They worked beautifully.

So a quick knit turned into several weeks. The pattern grew from an 8.5 x 11 folded pamphlet into an 8.5 x 14 twice-folded pamphlet. Yikes! Plus Melissa was getting ready for MD and another vending with the patterns still not fully edited. She was wonderfully flexible too. Finally, finally, we had a completed pattern just in time for RI.      YAHOO!!!!!!

While at my sister’s I thought a little hat would make a great addition to the sweater plus there was yarn left over. So this little number was hatched. It uses both yarns as striping and the slipstitch pattern to tie it all together. At RI I offered the hat pattern as a free bonus with a purchase of the pattern and yarn. We just about sold out of patterns that day. As it was so popular it is now offered on the Melissa Jean patterns page too.

Back to the cable clog sock with Knit Visualizer. I sure hope the expense turns out to be worth it. I am looking to cut time from making the chart on Excel and also time from converting it to line-by-line directions. In the past it has taken me 2+ weeks to get them right with Bonnie’s help. So I have high hopes for this bit of software.

Friday, May 23, 2008

RI Wool and Fiber Festival

It has been a rather wet, damp and cool spring. Great for the water table but for anything else it has been a hindrance. Flowers are kind of standing still and the trees are taking their time leafing out. The pansies seem to be thriving but when I went to get some hanging fuchsia plants they were not in stock yet as they are rather tender annuals around here. So the week before the Festival we were watching the weather reports for Saturday with hopeful trepidation.
I saw a 30% chance of rain change to 50, then to 70 and then back to 50, downgrading  to 40, 30, none and back up to 30% by Friday evening. The only consistency was the wind predictions -- 15-20 mph hour winds with gusts of 30mph. I paid more attention to the rain though as I did not want to be vending in windy rain. No way. No how.

We needed to be at the Farm by 6:45 at the latest to get ourselves set up and the car off the field by 8:30. The Festival was opening at 9 so we knew we were in for a very early start. However at 5am when we pushed the coffee maker button it was raining steadily. My sister lives in Newport with the Festival only a few miles away in Bristol therefore the weather was going to be about the same in both places. Darn! At 6 it was still raining so we decided to wait a bit as putting up the canopy in rain and wind seemed foolish. By 6:45 the rain seemed to be tapering off. The predictions now were for sunshine by late morning. As we neared the farm I was nervous about setting up in a wetland but thankfully the field was on a hillside above the water.

I was also nervous from so many people warning me about canopies turning into kites. My sister had never set one up and you know I had only tried twice in calm conditions. We had Jim’s extra instructions plus rope and extra stakes. The wind did make for a very difficult time in the set up. It must have taken us almost half an hour to get the canopy up and that was with help from 2 other people. Notice in the picture above that we were situated in a section of the field with no windbreak at all. Arghhh. I brought heavy shower curtains, which mvos valiantly tried to hang up. We finally managed to get one up and attached it to the legs of a very heavy table. The next gust blew the table over so we made some holes in the shower curtain to cut down the sail effect. This little bit of work took another half hour.

By now I was a nervous wreck. I am always hyper until the booth is set up and then great calm overcomes me and I am super laid back, but until then watch out. I knew the time was flying away but kept working putting things down that would hold the tablecloths in place and other items too. My sister was an enormous help getting the yarn triangle all set up while I worked on setting out the fiber and accessories. Then Linda, the Festival coordinator, said it was 9 and the car must go off the field. Arghhhh. We quickly emptied the SUV and I drove it to an adjoining lot. At least very few people had arrived so far as it was still nasty out. I think we were not really set up for another 30-40 minutes but by then the coffee tent was ready too. Did I mention that the wind-chill had us thinking of winter

By 11 people were starting to arrive but the wind kept acomin’. Right about then, as the clouds were almost gone, the wind picked up so enormously that Ellen and I were holding onto the canopy to keep it from collapsing. I was holding the table down with one hand, as it wanted to tip over, and with the other and all my strength pushed up on one of the canopy legs. Ellen meanwhile was hanging onto the canopy with both hands on the windward side. Even with both of us the structure began to bend inward as the wind increased even more and the gusts became more frequent. While we were acting as supports we saw a coyote running across the flat by the water. In RI they are now as common as deer are up here. If I had a choice I think I'd choose the vegetarian deer. Finally one of the Museum staff came over, took a good look and came back with some line, which he tied to some rocks down below the field. With 5 guy lines the canopy steadied enough for us to let go and start greeting customers.

By afternoon the weather had indeed turned into a breezy but sunny day. Mvos, who does not knit, crochet or spin did one fantastic job as the check out person.  Her people skills are so spectacular that many she met never knew she had little clue as to what we were all talking about.  However she does love what we mean to each other and appreciates the comaraderie of knitters and spinners.

I got to meet Kathleen Etherington who had been walking the Appalachian Trail until she fell and broke her wrist. Kathleen is a darling email friend who is also a Fondle This! member. They were traveling in CT when her husband noticed on my website that I would be at the Festival on the 17th.  They got into the RV, rolled to RI and my booth, where we enjoyed such a wonderful ‘reunion’.

Other vendors sold alpaca wool, sheep wool, hand dyed yarn, fabric items, goat milk soap, felted animals, lots of angora bunnies and angora wool, felted wool sheets and hand knit items. I bought my sister an adorable little felted lamb wearing a flower collar and she surprised me with teeny tiny hand knit sock earrings.  The only food vendor was fantastic --- the best Italian sausage with onions and peppers on Italian bread. Mvos and I shared one, as they were so large.

Coggeshall Farm Museum has its own sheep. They sheared a few as a demo that day plus demonstrating spinning and other farm arts.
They also had some Barred Plymouth Rock hens and roosters pecking around but no Rhode Island Reds that I could see.

A couple of relatively nearby Internet customers introduced themselves as well. I got to speak fiber and yarn with other fiberholics almost all day. Heaven!  After packing up we took ourselves over to the Lobster Pot for steamers, lobster stew and lobster salad. Visiting with my sister and meeting such wonderful people has me wanting to come back again. Hopefully next year I will sign up early enough to get under the big tent.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Heading East

I learned my lesson on our Day Trip last week.
from left to right--- Hibiscus Antique Lace, needle case and accessories bag, grey bamboo DK for my mother's sweater, blue green blue face leicester singles for the new cable sock, silver SW merino/tencel for socks for mvos, leaves and clematis vine to finish a baby hat to match the Twinkle sweater and more yarn for the Danish Shawl. Certainly enough knitting to get me through 9 days away from my stash supply.
Packing up the car took less time than I had thought with Jim's expert help. All the items were crossed off all the lists and double checked before heading out the door for the last time. I had a nice bouquet for my mother and a package to mail that all needed to fit into the passenger area with my personal stuff, traveling office bags, food necessities and knitting.

You can see a snippit of why the front seat was so crowded. That's a basket of hand dyed cultivated silk on top of some wire baskets.

But I had a bit of a problem getting out of the driveway.
It took some persuasion on Jim's part, but finally me, the SUV and audio book 7 of Harry Potter was able to leave the driveway, roll south and then east through the Catskill Mountains.
over the Hudson River and into Connecticut to my Mom's.

We went to one of our favorite restaurants,  Good News Cafe, for Mother's Day brunch where we ate lovely lobster bisque, onion bundles, crab tortillas, asian spiced chicken wings, coffee sundaes, drank nice wine and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Oh, and we were saying 'fromage' for the camera.

After a few days with Mom in western CT I headed east to the coast

and then a bit north over my favorite bridge into Newport, Rhode Island.
And no, I was not imbibing, but it sure is difficult to take a square picture while driving. Isn't the blue on the bridge with the sky and water just wonderful?
Just a few minutes over the bridge I arrived at mvos's little oasis of peace in Newport.

Yesterday I took a walk to the PO and then headed further down the hill to the wharf area.
More to come on the RI Wool and Fiber Festival, Saturday.  Meanwhile I am knitting, resting and enjoying my visit.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Raising the Roof

But first I forgot to tell you about the fish tank. After you get inside the high ceilinged rustic entrance at Bass Pro Shops and turn rightish you immediately see a reeely big waterfall. This drew me like a hooked stitch. Once I got closer I could see the faux rocks making the hill and between the rock walls was a huge aquarium filled with lake and stream fish. They were large fish too.  Jim pointed the various species out to me – salmon, perch, bass, catfish, muskie, pike, trout --all swimming around inside the hill. I could have stayed for quite a while mesmerized by their movements.

Back to the problem at hand.

So Jim and I took the box out of my car and then the heavy heavy black bag out of the box. A pocket held the instructions and the stakes. We then read all the instructions together. The page in English (other pages were in Spanish and French) had illustrations, were numbered and looked simple enough to follow.
1- We proceeded to remove the structural part from the bag and then the canopy itself that was attached to it. We placed the structure on the ground, and pulled on the ends as suggested.  

2- Then we moved to opposite sides of two sides and pulled again as instructed. This time it did not open as well as they said it would. But we got it open enough and then

3- put the canopy over as instructed with the middle over the high point and the ends secured.  

4- Next we got on opposite sides again and pulled but with little success. We tried holding it differently.  Nope. Finally we tried doing a scissor movement, which seemed to succeed. 

5- So now it was time to pull the corners into their locked position. This part was one of the stumbling blocks at the store.  HA! Major Ha! I nearly pulled my back out raising a corner into the lock. Finally Jim came over and held onto the leg while I lifted the top structure with great effort into its lock. I kept thinking—“Wait! How can my sister and I do this alone? This is taking way too much effort. We will never do this!”-- Jim kept insisting he could hold it to make it work and I kept saying that he wouldn’t be there so it had to work easier some other way. But-- we did it Jim’s way, finally getting the corners locked.  

6- Then, as instructed we secured the sides with the Velcro straps.

7- We went to opposite corners to telescope the legs up. Another HA! The canopy started falling one way and then another. The buttons were very stiff and therefore hard to press besides trying to hold up the whole thing while raising the legs. However, with much persistence the canopy was now all up.  whew!

I kept thinking, “This will not do. How can my sister ever help with this? She has a weak back. Oy vey.” So I suggested we not only take it all down but also put it all up again once more. Jim was not happy but did agree. Taking it down was not so hard. We started again quite soon.
Jim then suggested some modifications.

#4 - We used the scissor movement right away, which worked well.
#5 - Jim suggested we do each corner together but this time we did not secure the canopy to all 4 corners, only to one. This allowed the structure to move easier so locking up the corners went well.
#6 –We did not secure the side Velcro straps.
#7 - We went to adjacent corners and lifted the whole thing up quite easily. Then we moved to the other 2 adjacent corners and repeated the lifting. Now we secured the corners and sides of the canopy. And finally, easily lifted the legs up to a taller height for vending.

I definitely feel much better about this whole canopy thing now knowing my sister and I can do this together and probably still remain friends once it is up. VBG   Thanks for all your suggestions.

So do you think the person who wrote the instructions ever used them? Might they be a translation from Japanese or Chinese?

Onward to more list crossing outs.
rinse last batch of fiber and get it drying
start the packaging for shipping
make sample cards for a customer
make new vending signage for fiber and yarn
start packing the shop
do laundry
order fiber and yarn
finish the Twinkle sweater
make list for personal stuff

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Day Trip

Jim and I love to go on day trips together. Jim does the driving with me knitting. He gets to take any road he wants in the general direction we are going and I enjoy the scenery and get lots of knitting done. However I seriously underestimated and finished the latest section of the baby sweater without bringing a darning needle or the green yarn to start the next part or a back up project. Sheesh. I will be fined by the knitting police I am sure. I think I hear the sirens now.

However that little faux pas actually left me with time to just look. At  green  green leaves, green grass, green and yellow mustard. Fields of dandelions in green and yellow. Budding lilacs with some in bloom. Oh those multitudinous spring greens. Hills of new green on trees. I am so happy. And a big Thanks to Jim for driving.

Bass Pro Shops are definitely an experience. So well done for a big box. Rustic furniture, Audobon seeds and bird feeders. Interesting childrens’ toys and games. Every kind of camping gear imaginable. Hunting and fishing too although I only have those sections on Jim’s say so. Lots of reasonably priced casual and camping clothing and shoes too. There may have been more but that did it for me. Oh yes, why did we go? I needed a canopy for the RI Wool and Fiber Festival. Every other show I have done in the last 3 years has had a roof, been inside or had a huge tent for vendors. This is my first truly outdoor show and I certainly don’t want me or the fiber and yarn to get sunstroke. Vending space at this one is 10 by 10 so that is what we were looking for. Also for a canopy that is easy to set up with telescoping legs. Something my sister and I could do early in the morning. I had let my fingers do the walking online and decided Bass Pro Shops would have the best selection for the most reasonable prices (I do not do WalMart).

A guy helped us find the right section. I asked that we be allowed to set one up just to see how ‘easy’ it worked. HA!! We did struggle. It went up only just so far and then seemed stuck. At one point there were 3 of us trying to raise the thing. Of course none of us had even looked at the instructions. I asked and the guy said it wasn’t needed. Ha again! Finally a woman came over who seemed to know more about this, corrected some of what we had done and up the canopy went. The guy had said emphatically when asked that the canopy was 10 by 10 but the woman said, "No, the legs were at 10 feet apart but the canopy was actually 8 by 8". That nixed that one for me ( too bad as it was on sale). We finally settled on another with straight legs so the canopy and footprint matched. However we did not open the one we bought. Jim and I are going to do that this morning. This is how it is supposed to work.

Stay tuned.