Sunday, June 24, 2007

Where have all the people gone?

Having spent yesterday and today running errands I just noticed how empty the stores and roads are! That combined with the weather has put me in a fairly good mood. Now all I have to do is stop thinking about what both will be like in less than 6 months.

I am sloooowly getting things done. I moved another bin out to the new workshop. I'm starting to find all the little UFO's and getting those done. Work is getting easier. I've starting to get my routine down so I'm not so brain fried when I get home.

In retrospect, it could be that I'm no longer tied to the school calendar. After 18 years of kids having one week off out of eight and then the summer off, I'm fast becoming free! That was one of my biggest life stressors. Moreover, Husband wasn't able to help most times. Yes, he has lots of vacation time but with his back, he saves it for that. And my jobs like to pay me for showing up.

I'm getting Younger to help out more as well. Today we went to Shaw's and spent some of her 'free' money for lunches. I found they were selling those heavy canvas bags (which does have their name all over it – Oh well) so I got a couple. I hate those plastic bags! There everywhere and we never use all of the up. We were able to everything we bought into one of them and Younger was very eager to carry it. We made a deal that she will use one everytime she goes to the store and that way all her food is together for her to put away at home. Now all I have to do is convince Husband to use it.

I want less stuff. I hate how my house is so cluttered with it. Most of it is junk anyways and we don't use it. The basement is crammed with all kinds of unused, broken and I have no idea what it is things. And when I have a conversation with Husband about getting rid of things, he wants to throw out the antiques and what we really use. Go figure! Having three non functioning cordless phones packed away is not a problem but keeping a 100 year old WORKING treadle sewing machine is.

I've decided it's up to me to hoe out this place. He plans to play alot of golf this summer and I don't have to work a second job to make ends meet. Even if it's only one room that I can get done, I will feel like a million bucks.

And not have to weave my way around people and cars to get this done helps as well.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mom’s Dress

In 2007 I attended the NETA Spa and entered an item I was extremely proud of. It was not something I had knit but had been made by my mother over 40 years earlier. My goal in showing off this item was to encourage old and new knitter’s to sometime think about the future generations.
At the time this item was completed mom was single with 4 girls under the age of 10. She worked 3rd shift and drove a school bus in the afternoon to support us. In addition to knitting, she also sewed alot of our dresses, both for everyday wear and special occasions. Some of those dresses and hand knits were actually worn by her grandchildren!

Being young I can’t remember the exact year but I had to have been 7 or 8 when she started knitting this dress. It came down just below her knees and the yoke was done in Fair Isle. I have never seen the pattern so I’m not sure if she made any modifications to it.
What I can tell you is that it was knit with 100% wool using a small needle size, probably a 3 or 4. The main color is a light brown with green, pink and white for the contrasting colors in the yoke. The body was knit in the round, the sleeves were knit flat and the back of the Fair Isle is incredible. Oh, and she also knitted a matching tam. They are both a work of art.

I have pictures of her modeling it after it was completed and fuzzy memories of her wearing it a couple of times over the years. She started to gain some weight in the 70’s and put it away as it didn’t fit anymore. This dress is a timeless knit. It’s as stylish now as it was back then. And I am the only one of her children that can wear this – Hee Hee Hee! But I am taller than she is so it hits me above the knee. I guess I’ll just need to be careful about how I move.

When I started my knitting odyssey I realized what she had accomplished with this dress. At a time when good yarn was fading from the public eye and the “womanly arts” were starting to be actively discouraged, she forged ahead. Eventually we grew up and she lost the weight. She brought the dress out again to wear on special occasions and looked stunning! It is knit with 100% wool after all so it might not be worn alot but I will always cherish it not only for it’s beauty but for the memories it captured.

About the time she started knitting on the dress circular needles had just come out. They were made of plastic, in one piece and never straightened out. I know because somehow I ended up with a couple of them and every time I try to knit with them it’s a battle as they retain the curls from being in the package.

Not many years after Mom completed it; she developed Carpal Tunnel and was forced to stop knitting. She eventually had surgery on both wrists and has started knitting again with a lot of encouragement from me. She chooses to make smaller things now like preemie hats. I have taught her how to make socks using 2 circulars and she’s raided my stash a couple of times for yarn and needles.

She did eventually produce the booklet that the dress pattern is in but that part of it is missing! At least the yoke pattern is still in it. I guess someday if I get the motivation, I can knit my own version and possible pass it down to my girls. And who knows? 30 or 40 years from now, there will be another story out there about a knitted dress inherited from an older generation.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Holiday Weekend Or how I got my fix on!

Every year there is a gathering of like minded people on Presidents Day weekend in Portland ME. We call it SPA. If you are into fiber, knit, spin or weave or are even a little bit curious about any of the aforementioned stuff this is your weekend.
Vendors with all sorts of yarn, spinning fiber, books, you name it. Wheels galore! And you are encouraged to try them out by their owner’s if you are so inclined! Knitter’s who are very eager to show off what they’re working on and quick to show you a new technique or help out of you have any questions.
Chocolate, alcohol, manicures, pedicures, massages, food! Shop till you drop, spin, knit to your hearts content. Do it all or do nothing but soak up the atmosphere. This is our weekend to truly indulge ourselves and our hobby\addictions.
For the past 3 years, I’ve tried to leave home on Friday morning to arrive de-stressed and ready to party. And for the past 2 years it didn’t happen. Both due to Husband and his back.
Last year was the worst. I had planned on being on the road by 9 am with both Husband and Younger leaving the house for work and school by 7. Which would have giving me plenty of time to pack and load and run errands before getting on the highway North!
At 7:15 am he was on the floor with back spasms and I was dialing 911. I didn’t arrive in Portland until almost 8 pm that night after spending most of the day at the local emergency room, pharmacy and arranging help for Husband care until I got home Sunday.
This year it was my car that decided to go down. Fortunately, it started giving signs that it didn’t want to make the drive very early in the week. Husband then very generously offered to rent me a car! So Friday morning I was at Hertz to pickup my ‘economy’ size rental car that I had reserved. Image my surprise when I got ..... Wait for it!
A PT CRUISER!!!!!!!!!
Now normally I don’t get too excited about cars. I’m rather picky about them as I have these long legs that smaller cars don’t accommodate very well. But a neighbor has a Cruiser and I’ve driven a couple of times and had a ball! And I had this thing for the whole weekend! Whoo Hooo!
I arrived in Portland around 3 after a leisurely drive north on 95 and a couple of stops along the way. My roomy was leaving down here around 3 and I calculated she should arrive around 6 so when 6:30 rolled around I gave her a call. Now I know what I sound like when I know I can safely vent my stress/frustration about being held up in traffic getting to an important event AND getting lost 2 seconds from my destination!
Roomy arrived a few minutes later; we got her stuff up to our room and hit the bar for food. Is it us or something in the air there that makes men want to pickup fiberist’s? All we wanted was food and a drink and quite conversation with each other and the guy’s on either side of us kept trying to butt in!
At least this year I didn’t have to explain about my Good Gene’s!
Saturday we made the rounds of the vendors and headed out to Halcyon in Bath with another friend. Thank god for K! I had printed out directions from the Doubletree to Halcyon from Google but was reluctant to rely on them as the directions I had used the day before to get to the hotel had me lost in South Portland!
K had a GPS and was a great back seat navigator! We got to our destination without any problems and she even spotted a yarn store while we were waiting to take a left turn. Picture 3 women turning 90 degrees to the rightin their seats and pointing at the same time!
I didn’t feel too bad for the guy behind us though. He had passed me on the highway and almost forced me into the breakdown lane as he came back to the right to cut me off. And I watched him do this to every car he passed as well as slowing down when he pulled into the left lane. So what if he had to wait a few extra seconds for me to move, we had found another yarn store to stop at on our way back to Portland.
I was very restrained with my $$ and then we headed out to the store we had spotted on our way. I did get a couple of skeins of Regia Stretch Color and the owner told us of a great place to have lunch. This is where it starts to get fun! We get off the exit only to find no left turns! I spotted the sign before the end of the ‘exit’ and turned right into a parking lot figuring to take a left out of that. No, there was a divider so antoher right turn until I found a place to turn around and make another right which got us going in the correct direction. Anyway, we made to the restaurant, had an awesome lunch, found out about a gourmet brownie shop and had dessert and headed out to a third shop that K knew about.
I got a book that I didn’t even know that I wanted and some yarn to make The Gift a couple of things. Now mind you, I only brought my wallet into the shop so I had less to keep track of and my hands were kept fairly free. As we headed back to the highway I couldn’t remember if I had brought it back out to the car. So, K checks my bag and asked several times if I had put it back into my purse. I’m starting to wig out as A.) I never drive without my license because I’ve got a commercial driver’s license and I’m a professional and know better than to hit the road without it and B.) I’m in a rental car with Missouri plates on it in Maine! My luck is such I would have been pulled over and ended my weekend waiting for Husband to pick me up.
In the mean time we’re trying to find a place to turn around to head back to the shop and K say’s “Turn right into the mall parking lot!” Being the good driver that I am, I did and ended up going North on the highway! Not what we expected! K calls the shop to ask if they found my wallet anywhere around and what time they closed. It’s now 3:57 and they said they were closing at 4. Yikes!
We did make it back to the store just before they closed. They remembered I had put my wallet in my shopping bag so we all checked the parking lot especially where I had parked to see if I had dropped it and then I decided to tear the car apart. I started with the bag from the store and proceded to my other bags. Somewhere in the frenzy I opened my purse and there was my wallet. I must have put it away and not remembered! Man, we were punchy from laughing so hard!
We got on the highway, going south this time and made it to the hotel in plenty of time to get ready for the Fashion Show that night.
I’m going to save the rest for another time because this is getting long but the ‘fun’ didn’t stop until after I left on Sunday morning.
I did arrive home relaxed and ready for The Daytona 500. I did get The Bosses socks completed and I did had a wonderful weekend.
Today is housework day and then back to work. This weekend is going to keep me going for at least the next 2 months until the Fiber Festival start and I can scratch my itch again.

PS - I found out much later that the Portlant Swingers Club meets at the hotel bar on Friday nights. Yea, those kinda Swingers!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Never Win

Last night we had Family Fun Night with the baseball league. Younger plays in the Challenger Division and I am proud to say that we have the oldest Challenger Division in the country!
Family Fun night is our equivalent to a regular leagues All Star game. All the team members and families get together, have burgers and hot dogs and play a few innings of fun ball. After the kids get a chance to hit and run the bases, the parents get to do the same, only with a twist!
Instead of regular bats and balls the parents use tennis rackets or golf clubs and try to hit water balloons and such.
This year was a little different then past. We combined Family Fun with our game under the lights. And we ate and had the raffle before the game. Husband is the president of the Challenger league and bought alot of the raffle items. And he had taken Younger with him when he went to the store. Remember this!
The raffle was set up with the items displayed with a bag to put the raffle tickets in. That way you had a chance at something you wanted. I was off, out of harms way, listening to the goings on as the numbers were being picked for each item when I heard that Younger had won..... a beading kit!!
Oh boy, just what I want to deal with for the next 6 months, little beads and such everywhere. This was also one of the items she had asked Husband to buy and had used most of her tickets for!
Husband said later that he should have had her play the lottery for him as well.

I tell you this story because it reminded me about one of the few things I have won in a raffle. A few years ago, I had the privilege of driving my parents and their square dance group to another club’s dance in upstate New York. They also were holding this kind of raffle.
As I was the driver and space was limited, I was very willing NOT to take a chance on anything, until I spied 2 hand-made costumes. One was a ‘Dorothy’ costume, complete with the gingham pinafore and the other was a ‘Princess’ dress with the head-dress. My mom walked up about that point and I pointed them both out. The Boss was about 4 years old then and as it was our duty to spoil her we decided to take a chance to win one of them. I put my ticket in for the Princess and Mom put her ticket in for the Dorothy.
Lo and Behold! Mom’s ticket was pulled! She informed the crowd that “This was for her Great Granddaughter!” Here’s where it gets weird. As they were calling out the next number, I put down my knitting and stood up and started walking across the floor because I knew I was going to be the winner! And I was. I told them that this was for my Granddaughter and it was the same child as the previous winner. Our group gave us a standing ovation. I hung both of them off the rack in the back of the bus. Everytime I looked in my mirror I could see them swaying and I could only laugh!

The Boss wore the Princess outfit for Halloween that year.