Monday, March 31, 2008


Coverage of my trip to Philadelphia will be...spotty. This is because I never got out my camera. There was a lot to do, and I forgot about the photos. Oops.

We flew into the airport and rented this Chevy HHR. Ours was sort of a gold, not an orange color, but it had California plates. The professor thought it had huge blind spots (not good for driving in a big city) and well, it looked like a gangsta-mobile. We are just not that type. We drove through Camden neighborhoods where folks looked at us in that car and you could imagine them thinking, "What are those thirty-something people doing in that kind of car!?" We wondered the same...

The neighborhoods we visited in southern New Jersey were connected by these divided highways where you could only exit from the right. Apparently these are called "jughandles." It doesn't matter what it's called--you can imagine how much time we spent trying to get to the left side of the street. I believe New Jersey's homeland security plan is to keep the terrorists (and tourists) from being able to turn left.

We went across a bridge and out of New Jersey to services at an amazing historic synagogue in one of the older sections of Philadelphia, Society Hill. The building was lightfilled, the accoustics were fascinating for song and prayer, and the invited speaker talked about the nexus of physics and theological thought. The synagogue was across the street from a home where a signer of the Declaration of Independence lived. Pretty neat stuff. Of course, we also got a parking ticket while we were in the neighborhood, but, well, these things happen when travelling. The rules are not always clear until after you get the parking ticket.
We also spent some time driving around the Philadelphia suburbs in Pennsylvania. I was thrilled to discover one can turn left in Pennsylvania without difficulty. The neighborhoods had more trees, the houses were on big enough lots so that say, two bird dogs could run around freely. However, one also pays for that in housing costs, which were higher.

We ended our trip with a visit with some family friends. They fed us a great spring meal of salmon, asparagus, artichokes, and apple crumble and ice cream. In the interest of partial disclosure, those of you who have done job relocations will recognize some of the experiences of this trip. The professor is looking into some other options since our families are on the east coast, and since we're far away from a comfortable religious community, an airport, and other things here in KY. Professor jobs are hard to come by, and we have a house we really like here. The professor's commute is a half-mile walk to school. These are things we must give up if we move to an east coast city, so we're struggling on that front. Overall, things weren't a raving success on this trip, but we're still thinking about it.
At the same time as all this travelling, I was knitting madly for a very short deadline. I'm pleased to say that the "spotty" design above is now in the mail, and even the insides came out just fine.
When I was a kid, and working on my first needlework, my grandmother and mother impressed upon me that the inside of my work should look as neat as the outside. I hated that back then, but as an adult, I get it. In fact, if I go back to mend something I did in high school or college, I see such a change in my work. I've just seen a lot of people's houses with a real estate agent, and I've thought some more, and the inside (of people, of houses, of needlework projects) really counts, too!
Recently I got a rejection (a fairly normal occurrence) regarding a fiction project. The feedback said that the 28 year old character seemed more like 40, and that the whole project was "dated." I based the whole piece of fiction on my experiences at 28, in that time period, just a few years ago. The response allowed me to see the inside of the (New York City) reader. Were her days at 28 more frivolous than mine? Was the "inside" there someone who didn't own her home, consider marriage, hold down a responsible job? Now that I've checked out what a professor and writer's money can buy in an east coast big city, I'm thinking I understand that comment a bit better. Perhaps I wasn't frivolous at 28 (or 35), but different, living in other places geographically and intellectually. My insides didn't look like hers, and that was fine. Now I wish she'd just said that "she couldn't relate to the character!"
Are there places (and people) to whom you just can't relate? Stuck on the righthand side of a jughandle (or a jughead?), trying to go left?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

O'Hare! Oh...Hare!!

So, I haven't left town yet, but yesterday night, I had a vicarious adventure through the professor. The professor was flying home from Western New York. He had a layover in O'Hare, which wasn't really on the way to Kentucky, but whatever, that's how modern air travel works. O'Hare is Chicago's enormous airport. We also like to call it the professor's black hole. If he flies into O'Hare, odds are that he'll be stuck there for some reason. Bad weather, malfunctioning plane, astrological conflict, who knows....but it's very bad luck for my professor.

Yesterday evening was no different. His first flight lands at O'Hare and--crap. His flight to Nashville is cancelled. The airline offers him, get this, standby on a 6:40 AM flight, but they won't pay for a hotel, and and and...if he can't get on that flight? They assure him a seat on a 4 pm flight today, Wednesday. Those were his only options at the enormous airport, O'Hare. Now, believe it or not, professors have to teach classes, and today, Wednesday, the professor's class is taking an exam. So, he kind of wanted to be there, in his classroom, at the appointed time.

He was getting ready to find a nearby hotel room when my brain clicked into gear. Wait! What about that other airport? Midway? So, I rushed around online and found him a direct flight home on Southwest. Then, there's those silly 30 miles of distance between the two airports, with a very short travel time. I find a shuttle between the two airports, tell the professor how to get on it...
AND...he finds it! Then, assured of one hour of travel time between airports...

I book a new flight for the professor online. He makes the flight at Midway. I do my best to stay up and knit until I hear he is on the airplane bound for Nashville. The dogs and I go to sleep, but shortly before 1 AM, the professor crawls into bed. At home.

Hurray!!! The true hero of this story? The internet. No way I could have fixed this for him without it. We, however, broke even, since a hotel near a big city airport on short notice would only have been perhaps $50 less than our two airport, new flight solution. Best of all, the professor himself will be at the front of his classroom, possibly dozing, as his students take their exam. Tomorrow? We fly to Philadelphia. Thank goodness it isn't through (OH HELL!) O'Hare.

Right. Back to my knitting...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I dream of bathtubs

Bacchus in the Bath Accessories is once again available for sale! This was a pattern I designed as a Knit Picks catalog Exclusive a while back. When the copyright reverted to me, I was deep in the middle of working on the fiber festivals book, and couldn't manage to post it online. It's now available again here on my website.

My subject header is only partly joking...I love my house in Kentucky, but when the bathrooms were renovated, bathtubs were clearly not the priority. We have a lovely shower and in the guest bathroom, a tub barely big enough for, uhh, Harry the dog. Not really big enough for an adult person to do more than shower in it. I know, because I tried to bathe there almost immediately after we moved in. Sadly, even a five foot tall person is too big to stretch out in that tub! We live in a neighborhood of old houses, and I suspect that big clawfoot tubs are hiding all around me. I've considered wandering around with my soap and bath towel...but... I'm just not that close with the neighbors! Instead, sometimes my designs take me to a dreamy bathtub place, and bacchus was one of those designs.

Last night at 2 AM, I was all too close to some drunk neighbors who were walking home after the bars closed. (our bedroom faces the street and sidewalk) The noise woke me up, and the dogs barked, and I've been making grammatical and spelling errors all day. Forgive me if I say something dumb here. Chalk it up to those hellraising neighbors. Maybe I should start wearing the bathrobe, visiting these folks, and invite them to cut back on the likker?

To answer a few comments--Caroline, I didn't get to see the Chagall windows in Chicago at the Art Institute. Oh well, I guess that leaves something for next time. One other problem...Joy in Living, you left a lovely note, but I have no way to reach you via email,and I'd love to see the cushions you made! If you ever want to drop me a line so we can actually exchange messages, it's joanne AT joanneseiffDOTcom.

Well, that's the big news from here. I may be scarce the rest of the week--off to Philly/NJ with the professor, but please drop by and leave me a note! I love hearing from you. Happy Spring.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


How could I have forgotten this one? This is called "filatrice." That's French for, uhh, well.... Click on the photo for a larger image if you can't see what she's doing in detail. Hint: look at title of my blog. Oh yeah, I bet you're thinking. That's what it's called in French.

Lately I haven't been getting many hits on my blog, and fewer comments. Folks are busy, and maybe my Chicago adventure wasn't so interesting? Feel free to offer feedback. It's hard to know what will be exciting reading in advance...and alas, lately I can't do enough knitting to both post on the blog and get paid for the occasional design!

I've got some exciting possibilities for the future on the work front. I may even be considering book #2! Hard to imagine, huh, especially when Fiber Gathering hasn't been published yet. Soon I'll be doing things like coming up with an email subscription list of folks who want to be contacted when the book comes out. For now, though, it's all still in the works. Editing, review, that sort of thing...sounds dull, but the photos alone for this festival book could be called fiber art p*rn. I promise it will be hot hot hot! Or, at least as hot as any photo of a cashmere goat, sheep or skein of yarn has a right to be, OK? (I don't know what you were thinking there, but I was thinking about spinning and knitting. If you had other "hot" ideas, don't you corrupt me over here, y'hear?!)

Next week I'm going to be travelling to the south Jersey area, near Philadelphia. If you live near Camden and read the blog, give a shout. I have zee questions for you!

On Friday, I braved traffic to Nashville for another appointment. I saw at least 3 car accidents, and I was in the car for over three and a half hours. Yuck. While there, I fended off the crowds at the fancy grocery store and today, I was glad. The professor's off on another trip and I was alone with dogs. For lunch? Little bits of wheat bread, English Cheddar, Arina Goat Gouda,and Laguiole, stuffed grape leaves, a few pieces of pineapple, a tiny bit of port, and caramel chocolate truffles.

Life is short. It's best to eat good cheese...and chocolate. Mmmh.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

design counts

One last post that's largely about our trip to Chicago. (What will I talk about next, I wonder!?) The Art Institute had a lot of very good design, both as exhibits and as elements of the museum. This first picture is just a shadow--natural light caused these shadows. That's the railing that keeps tourists from backing up while looking at art and falling down a big staircase. I got absorbed in how artistic the fixtures were. This was some railing...even its shadow on the marble is worthwhile.

There was an exhibit of Prairie School Architecture and since it's hard to put a Frank Lloyd Wright house right into a museum, there were stained glass windows from a variety of places. I find these patterns intoxicating.
I took pictures of us looking at stained glass (see our shadows?) I love seeing textures like this in knitting, and I'd love to live in a house that had just one or two of these windows. Imagine the shadow it would make on a wood floor as the daylight flooded through.

On Saturday, we chose to stay out in the suburbs, because we had to gussy up for a wedding in the late afternoon. Instead, we went to Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary . They were having a special Sugar Bush Fair and we went to check out the living history farm, the wetlands nature preserve, and, of course, anything that's called "Sugar Bush" means...maple syrup, a particular favorite of the professor's. We visited a representation of an 1880's German-American homestead, complete with Belgians for working the field. (also? chickens, geese, cows, a pig, and a lot of mud.) We then wandered through a few flurries over to see several stations where maple sugaring was demonstrated.

While I was used to the New England methods, the Native American concept--of heating rocks in the fire, and then putting them into the sap to heat, and therefore evaporate it down to syrup--was new to me. Finally, we forked over $4 a piece to have pancakes, sausage and lots of syrup as a treat. The hot cocoa was welcome about then. Folks were very friendly and chatted with us. Although the crowd was somewhat diverse, you could see the strong influence of Central European settlement among Caucasians in this part of the USA. Lots of people who look like they stepped out of a Brueghel--sturdy strong sorts, diving into their steaming breakfasts. This looked very different from the more slight towheads of Kentucky's British, Scottish and Irish ancestry. The US is such a richly diverse place.

The last stop before the wedding was a trip to Ikea. I was restrained, and didn't buy a thing, but I'd never seen an Ikea before, and for a design junkie like me, it was well worth it. I was enthralled! We nearly (but didn't) come home with an armoire! It was very tempting!

Last blogworthy thing.... You may notice that on March 21st, the map on the side of my blog will be "archived", and I'll probably have a brand-new empty map. In the last year, this blog has had 16,626 hits! Please, drop me a line and help celebrate this...I'm so proud to have visited with this many of you, from all over the map. Let's fill up a new map together, shall we?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Art, Baby

Well, it wouldn't be an inspirational trip without a look at what I found inspiring. Now, the Art Institute of Chicago is really famous for its collections. There's the Seurat and that stuff just blows my mind. It's the chance to see the images in every Impressionist wall calendar and textbook that I'd been missing. (the other images are usually from the National Gallery of Art in DC, or Musee D'Orsay in Paris, and I'd seen those...I'm into this art stuff, you might guess?)

What's even cooler are the Impressionist works that I'd never seen before, the John Singer Sargeants, and the painting of George Washington. So, I'm awestruck, but then, ummm, I had to go to the restroom. There, in the basement, I was tickled to find one of my favorite children's book illustrators had two galleries of his own. Chris Raschka works magic with his Charlie Parker Plays Bebop and his many other books that portray poetry, art and music for small children. He explains Coltrane through words and images. When read aloud? You can hear the music.

Next, I was tickled to see a gallery designated for contemporary design. It talked a lot about architecture (words on the wall, not totally effective in my opinion) but it was the display of textiles that caught my attention.

Check out this piece--a large piece of very ornate crochet, epoxied over a box shape, and the box was removed. This, to me, is both visually arresting and creative--a great new approach to art...AND, for those knitters who look down their noses at crochet? This crochet piece made it into the Art Institute of Chicago. Where's the stuff, snooty knitter?! (not there, there really wasn't much in the way of knitted art...but there was crochet!)

I was tickled to see this chaise longue with felted flowers on it. Complicated shapes, sewing and cutting created this. It's stunning in person.
I'm pretty fascinated by textile art, and when I left the exhibit, I felt excited about the directions this art might take me. My zafu cushions got a lot of praise, but alas, no one's bought them, they're useful but nothing compared to this museum's stuff! They came home, and I've posted them here at Etsy while I figure out what's next for me. I love making these forms, even if they never "go" anywhere.

What did I like "best" about this museum? The wide reaches of what was considered art. I saw Windsor chairs, folk art, Roman sculpture, and kid's book illustrations. That appreciation of an artist's honesty and the curator's revel, his/her humble creative joy? everywhere.

What's left from this four day trip? A little prairie school design, a Belgian horse or two...and a German living history farm. More to come.
PS: I was allowed to shoot photos in the museum, without flash. All this imagery is legal. Only wish I could remember all the artists' names!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I'm going to stretch this Chicago trip out a bit so y'all can "go there" with me. On Thursday, we drove north on the same highway for 7+ hours. (that's a somewhat unusual journey right there, very few complicated directions to follow!)

I had the first shift as driver, and just about flew to Indianapolis to meet my editors. Yup, the editors for the book are there, and it was fabulous to be treated to lunch with them. Tapas, a classy downtown restaurant, and a long and juicy fun conversation. While the quintessential three martini lunch is usually in NYC, mine was in Indiana, and it was just as fun. (just one glass of wine though, and the professor drank half!)

On to Chicago. After our deep dish pizza on Thursday night, I felt ready to take on a big city. When we got off the clean and quick commuter train, I was greeted with this skyline. This is one big city. Folks who are from the coasts of the country forget about how big Chicago is. How big? Well, we walked right past the Sears Tower. From the ground? It looks like any other skyscraper...and we joked about how all our appliances and mail-order clothes purchased this. (My mom ordered from Sears AND JC Penney!) The professor grew up across the street from a house that was mail ordered from Sears. Those people could put anything in a catalog!

We scuttled down the street to have lunch at the historic Berghoff's. Although the restaurant's segregated male-only bar days are long over, it's still filled with men sitting cheek to jowl at lunch. From our table (served by a waitress) we had a great view of this long and historic bar. Everyone's faces were reflected in the bar mirror and in the shiny old brass fixtures. I watched businessmen, and a very few women, line up at the carvery to get their sandwiches and beer. Every bar stool and every long communal table was full. There were old-fashioned coat racks in every corner,and suit jackets, winter coats, and stoles alike were all jumbled up. It was democratic, every man equal in his shirt sleeves with his corned beef or roast beef on rye... and I found it slightly moving. The workers (mostly men in suits) had lunch.

We didn't know about the bar and its line, (and I wouldn't have fit in with the crowd anyway!) so we spent more money on a waitress and had pierogies, too. The professor had one of those big sandwiches while I ate Alsatian onion apple soup and salad.

Seeing all this made me think of Chicago as I'd read about it, and that made me think, nearly immediately, of Carl Sandburg.

Remember how, in school, teachers would prepare you for a field trip? Read this, so you'll know what you're seeing? Listen to this piece of music, and consider this piece of art? Suddenly, all this poetry I'd read on my own, of the Midwest, made sense in a new way. The Art Institute visit was a whole 'nother chance to finally have this "study" pay off. This trip north inspired me. I saw this poetry of Sandburg's come alive.

More soon about the Art Institute, and other excitement.
Ever had something come alive long AFTER you'd read or studied about it? Tell me all about it, please!

pizza plus

Posts about Chicago will be coming soon.

The short version?
1) The Art Institute was the best museum experience I have had in years, an amazing collection in a beautiful space.
2)The food, including the pizza, was uniformly good and very reasonably priced...unlike, say, east coast cities.
3)Everyone was so NICE! In a big city, too. I was surprised, but maybe that's because it seemed unusual? (even public transport was clean. Amazing.)
4)The wedding was lovely, the friends are married, and we are safe and sound back home...but pretty busy.

More details and photos soon. My polka dot knitting is almost complete, and I'm looking forward to knitting something that I can photograph again...!

PS: The professor has really reinforced those fence pickets with extra screws, and nothing bad happened over the weekend, but now I'm having bad dreams in the middle of the night about someone stealing fence pickets. (I'm not so zen after all...)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

up close

When you get right up close to it, some days aren't pretty. So, I've decided (in the absence of any knitting I can show) to talk smack about some other stuff here.
<--Sally gets up close and personal

First, I am leaving town for a wedding really soon. I haven't gotten any stockings yet, I'll need those. A week ago, I thought, I'm not prepared for this trip. I took a close look in the mirror, and dang! It ain't pretty. (Nothing's changed in the last week.) My desktop computer is old, and has suddenly decided it will go so slowly as to be nearly useless. I am working on that. Deleting excess audiobooks? That's a start. I've already listened to them, but sadly, I am comforted by clutter. Turns out old desktops are not.

It was recently suggested to me that I might do better if I ate more meat. I try not to eat lots of meat, after all, I want every one of those animals to have lived a decent life, etc. I'm sure you've heard that drill. I'm so sensitive to the retooling that I've given my body via this slight change in diet and this tiny bit of acupuncture that I'm experiencing what it might be like to be "laid back." Honestly, I wouldn't know what that was like--can we say type A personality, over here?--but yesterday, I sat absolutely still in a twenty minute traffic jam and said something like, "Oh well." No wonder I'm slow on the draw these days? Not ready for a trip to Chicago? Don't know what knitting to take? (Am I still me in here?!)

<-Sally says, "Get a move on, Harry! Wake up around here!"

This morning, we woke up to find our picket fence vandalized AGAIN in two places. By the time I got to it at 7:45, the kind construction guys who are banging (ahem) working on the old house across the street found our pickets and placed them in a safe place so the nails wouldn't puncture anybody. The cops aren't focused on finding vandals in a southern college town (let's focus on the meth labs?), but good thing for my recent zen attitude adjustment. Otherwise I'd be pretty darn angry.

The om approach has been working in my worklife, too. I want to try to sell fiction someday, and in order to do that, I need an agent. (it's worked very well not to have an agent for the knitting-related non-fiction, but for fiction, it's nearly impossible.) Anyhow, I'm slowly sending out feelers for that one. Last time I did this, I think I had between 50-70 rejections from agents before I found one. This time around, I'm doing a "soft" search. Not obsessing. Not reading those ding letters too carefully...but, you know, if you just happened to be an agent or know one and you read my blog? Do drop me a line! (I've won a short story contest. I try hard. Novel manuscript here, ready to go...)

One of my friends (Hi Angela!) asked if I would catalog my books and reading habits online so she could pick my brain about some good books to read. In the absence of a personality that would allow for cataloging to that degree...(observe, no stash on Ravelry, no online Joanne's library...I'm not ever going to be that kind of organized) I'll give you a list of "Novelists I have recently enjoyed:"
JoAnn Mapson, Elizabeth Gaskell, Dorothy Sayers, Diana Abu-Jaber, Ellen Litman, John Galsworthy, Diane Mott Davidson....that's a start. That would be enough for a few good reads?

That's some of the excitement around here. Is it any wonder that a snow storm and some dog pawprints made everything seem wonderful for a day or two? Small things. Small things make all the difference. I'm off to eat lunch. Or maybe...find some pantyhose or something. Yeah. Whatever. I might even keep knitting those polka dots for that deadline. Hmm. Good one.
PS: Any good yarn shops or blog readers to meet in Chicago? I know about the pizza and the Art Institute. Other tips are definitely welcome!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Snowy tracks

I owe all of y'all a blog post. It seems like there's a lot to say, but a great deal of it isn't blog-public, so I'll go with a bit of what's happening here. One important thing is how very helpful your comments were on the "about the author" section of my book. I wrote it, the editors think it's just fine, but your comments made me feel confident about it. It's hard to put yourself on display in this way, on what might be a book's cover, and when anyone does it, they mostly need a pat on the back. I needed a reminder that, like Mr. Rogers, you like me, just the way I am. Thanks for that!

You'll note the lack of a photo here. Instead, focus on the white backdrop of this post. This here commemorates the five inches of snow that fell Friday night and Saturday on south-central Kentucky. This is the most snow I've seen here since moving to town five years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it, the dogs played and romped, and now, as of Sunday night, there's almost nothing left. The short conclusion I've come to is that I miss snow and truly wish I could see more of it. The professor knows this, and he's working on it. Luckily, writers have portable worklives. Have computer and desk, will travel.

The professor was off on a trip, giving talks at a couple other universities. On Friday I was supposed to drive to Nashville -140 miles or more, round trip-, but cancelled because of the storm that was coming. I have a lovely all-wheel drive car, purchased in Buffalo, a fair amount of winter driving experience in upstate New York, and no, I didn't want to cope with everyone else's crazy accidents. The highway doesn't have a lot of exits, imagine being stuck in a 20 mile long traffic jam because someone's not a good snow driver, or skidded on some ice. 'Nuff said. I'm going on Tuesday instead.

So, Friday night, I invited over one of my favorite Norwegian Bachelor Farmer friends (OK, he's really a biologist, but otherwise, he grew up in the Midwest) for dinner with the dogs and me. This moniker's from A Prairie Home Companion , a great radio show, if you don't know the cultural reference. Anyhow, this guy is always happy for a homecooked meal so after potato leek soup, some salad, homemade bread and peach jam, and pear streusel for dessert, we looked outside and it was finally snowing in earnest. John moseyed on home, and I watched the dogs pop dog wheelies and skid in delight. Truly fun. Almost as much fun as doing snow angels, but I reserve snow angels for deep snow, and we never really got that here... but the joy and the snowflakes were enough.

On the knitting front, I'm working on a pattern for someone else's book! It's got polka dots in it, but of course, no photos, this project's a secret for now. I'm enjoying it, which is good, because it's due to the editor pretty darn soon.

I got to go to dinner at a friend's house on Saturday...and eventually, at 2:30 or 3 AM, the professor made his way home, very weary, from the airport. Snow delays airplanes, alas, and the poor man is leaving again tomorrow morning.

Today I got to spin with some friends at our monthly spinning group, and the professor took me out for sushi. There now. I have mentioned a variety of very cheerful things here! I am shielding you, purposely, from transitions, all potentially positive, that I am anxious about, here at Chez Seiff. Hopefully they go away--poof! like a dandelion head, and then it will be easy to tell you. For now, I'll just worry (and yes, I find worry is productive for me!) and work it out.

Instead, please imagine Harry the dog's feathery footprints as he marched through the snow, licking this novel confection from the ground as he goes...and Sally's enormous clear track beside his, making her look like a giant instead of a lovely 40 lb pointer girl with big feet. There now. That memory of those tracks? makes me smile.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

navel gazing and swatchy swatchy

It's getting to that time. The time when I turn in the last parts of the book that I was dreading writing. (To catch new readers up....I'm writing a book about fiber festivals. It will be published and in book stores in early 2009. It's almost all turned in, but...)

I've been trying to write that "About the Author" section. The part where some folks say, "The Author lives in STATE with her husband and likes to WHATEVER." However, I like the longer bios that say more personal things. Plus, I think back on the years of 1991 through 2001, and dang it, I earned three degrees during those years. That college stuff should count for something, right?! Can't I list that? Even though it might sound stiff, academic, or even uppity?

(OK, so it doesn't have much to do with fiber festivals, but I did get lots of practice writing.)

Then there's the writing thing. Do people want to read a long boring string of publication titles? "Author has been published in, among other places, Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, Spin-Off, Belle Armoire, Knit It!, the Jewish Week, the New York State Conservationist and online at Knitty, Magknits and" Or whatever, you know what I mean. Which one of those is important? Should I mention the fiction stuff too? Oy.

How about the actually interesting bits? Joanne used to teach. She taught high school in inner city DC and Northern Virginia and community college remedial writing in Buffalo, NY. She taught religious school music and even taught a cooking workshop on how to boil spaghetti (no kidding) to Duke undergrads.

Or something about the professor? Or about the dogs? Harry is a setter mix, and Harry’s pet Sally is a pointer mix.

You can imagine why I'm driven to swatching and knitting for hours at a one not accustomed to so much navel gazing, I've made my belly button sore and need to focus on other, more important things.
Here are some of the results. (There are no photos of the chocolate cake, homemade pizza, or myriad other things I've done to procrastinate. Soon I'll go buy dog food and milk...)

#1) I'm thinking of making myself a v-neck sweater out of worsted weight dark brown handspun wool and two colors of alpaca singles. There would be color work, and so I did some swatching. These colors are awfully close to one another, so they make a very subtle pattern. For contrast, I have some cinnamon colored alpaca that is much brighter. I blogged about these alpaca fleeces here and you can see the colors closely here. I show you the swatch for one reason. Note how the singles do not skew. There is nothing wrong with knitting with singles, especially if one is knitting a pattern or in the round. If you don't overspin your singles, you won't have a problem knitting with them. People do this all the time. Just check out Lopi, Manos or Malabrigo yarns for reference!
#2) I needed more distraction. I finally started knitting up the Finn white 2 ply handspun yarn and brown 2ply Shetland handspun into my Selbuvotter mittens on size #1 needles. Not only is this intoxicating 2 handed 2 color knitting, but it is very intense, because every row is different. I can just about listen to music or an audiobook while doing this. Talking to someone is out of the question.

My friend Terri Shea wrote this book and it is stunningly clever. My smart friend Denise test knit this, so I know it should work. This mitten is good for keeping out the world and just focusing on....knitting.

This is a good prescription for the narcissistic among us...or the just plain overwrought "About the Author" types. Knitting with both hands in two colors keeps me from even being able to see my navel, thank goodness!

So, what should be in an author's bio, in your opinion? Advice?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

moldy tin whistle, anyone?

The professor went down to the basement yesterday to find some old photo albums. These should never have been in our (damp) basement to begin with, but then, I didn't unpack those boxes when we moved, 5 years ago...ahem. OK, back to the story. I was sitting on the second floor when I heard the tentative notes from a whistle or recorder. The professor found an exciting box of toys? He's not much of a musician, but the little toots and squeaks floated up, up through the basement, past the first floor, and into my second floor office by way of the heating vents. He was having fun. Tweet. Toodle Toodle. Squawk.

When he came upstairs, he plopped down some books and albums and we took a tour down memory lane. As one might imagine, the professor started taking photos early (he's shot the photos for my book, and I knew he had years of prior experience.) So, I saw blurry shots of his playground friends in elementary school, including the friend I mentioned in the last post, and the famous "turkey series." His family has a vacation place in upstate New York, and a neighbor kept turkeys and other farmyard pets. He was fascinated with those turkeys, but his mom wouldn't let him cross the road. Just imagine all those turkey photos! Doesn't that make you smile? Gawky elementary school kid, camera, and lots of funny turkey pictures?

Sadly, some of the books let so much mildew and mold into the air that I've had a bit of an asthma problem. Caffeine helps me breathe when I feel this way. Nothing that, say, an entire pot of green tea and a greek coffee for dinner couldn't fix, but I was up late!

This photo's a montage of some of the swatches I have around. I've been going wild on the swatch design front, and enjoying it. The pin is one of Rosemary's works of art. Now that the book photos are largely finished, I'll have to send back all the loaned pins. I'm having a hard time picking out the ones I want to buy and keep!

I found all your notes in the last post very reassuring regarding the blathering problem. I guess even beautiful, self-assured knitters, that I admire, have this happen to them! Now, on to a question about fiber festivals, also asked...

As you might imagine, I made quite a tour of the festival world last spring, summer and fall for my book research. I don't need to purchase, say, one more thing. However, I still love festivals, and in 2009, I'll try to go to a lot of them, as I'll want to promote my book, which should be available for sale in early 2009. What to do between now and then? My plan is to begin teaching at some festivals, if I can afford to make it happen. So, if you have a festival in mind, and you'd like to invite me to teach there, do drop me a line. (my first name AT is the email address!) Otherwise, I'll go to one here and there as the mood strikes, and if I can control myself. Like, after I've spun and knitted up about 25 lbs of fiber?!

I'll leave you with a bit of something I read in the NY Times fashion section. This Fashion Diary, written by Guy Trebay, remarks on the staying power of a 26 year old model. (Twenty-Six, DID YOU HEAR THAT? Over the Dang Hill! I'm so past it. )

"Why has she lasted so long?" a Vogue editor remarked on Tuesday (speaking anonymously, for fear of going off message and being banished to a job at a knitting catalog)."

PS: Amen for knitting catalogs. May we all graduate to one. Before age 16, for instance, and after age 26? (some of us, myself included, were there all along, and proud of it.)