Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Do Parents Do It?

Our cat Nico had a bout of feline asthma this past holiday weekend, requiring us to bring him to the emergency veterinary hospital. It was very stressful for both Thaddeus and I as we worried a lot for the poor little guy as he struggled to breath. We couldn't imagine how parents deal with this kind of thing with their own children.

Nico's Fine Now
Despite a traumatic trip to the vet (any trip requiring Nico to get into a car carrier is traumatic) during his labored breathing...a little oxygen, a couple of puffs of Albuterol and some prednisone, and Nico is now breathing normally. Thaddeus and I will return to breathing normally shortly.

I commonly write to folks on my blog or in on-line forums who ask questions that could easily be answered by a quick internet search, that "Google is your friend."

Well, it's also true when your pet isn't feeling well. A quick search on "feline labored breathing" resulted in Thaddeus being able to make a good/educated guess as to what was going on with Nico and how to determined if veterinary care was necessary.

It's quite amazing how much information is available on feline asthma as well.

Current Knitting
I finished the first sock using Marlowe Crawford's design that she specifically made for the Men's Knitting Retreats.

Her pattern calls for using a contrast yarn for the toe, but I also used it for my heel. I used some of the leftover Supreme Merino/Possum yarn that I got from James at Joy of Yarn in New Zealand. I think my next pair of socks is going to be the same design, but with the Merino/Possum yarn again...god I love that stuff.

I tried to show in the pictures how Marlowe shaped the arch of the sock through increases and decreases...not sure if that shows up too well in pictures, but it makes for an exception fit on this sock.

I hate to tease readers who can't get this pattern, since it was so kindly donated to the guys at the retreat, but there is a very similar and excellent pattern by Marlowe that I've also purchased that I'm looking forward to making as well.

Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 Men's Knitting Retreats

Yes, you read correctly...PLURAL...retreatS.

MFKR 2009
Looks like I will be heading out West to go to my first Men's Fall Knitting Retreat on Labor Day weekend.

It is going to be so amazing to meet folks like WonderMike and CraftyAndy...guys with whom I've corresponded over the years and now I get to meet in person. Plus I can't wait to see all the guys who were also at the East Coast retreat...and of course, seeing Franklin and Kiwi James again is going to be great. At last count there were about 25 guys signed up for the retreat, and Michael tells me that he will probably limit registration to 40 maximum for anyone who's interested.

I am more excited than I can possibly write.

Final MSKR 2009
For those interested in reading blog entries, or seeing hundreds of pictures of the recently completed Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, I have consolidated all the links I know of and pictures about which I am aware on Flickr on the Past Events page of web site.

Go enjoy, but also check out how many fiber-related vendors supported our event through their contributions. If you've been looking to order some yarn or fiber or buttons (Regina's amazing buttons!), please also check out the full page of vendor links.

Current Knitting
I was able to finish seaming up the Easton Mountain afghan and sent that off to one of MSKR's master crocheters (we had at least two) so a border could be completed.

I knew as soon as I received them, that my next project would be the socks that Marlowe Crawford designed specifically for the Men's Knitting Retreat.

I just finished turning the heel using a contrasting color (the pattern only calls for a contrasting color for the toe...I just decided to use it on the heel as well), and the arch shaping has already begun at the same time. I am using "Flat Feet" for the yarn that I got at Sean's store in Cambridge, MA. The pattern is very nice so far, despite how my picture makes it look. It did make me realize that I want to purchase her other arch-shaped sock design and work that one too. I'm also realizing that I need to purchase some of the sock yarn she uses in her designs from A Verb for Keeping Warm.

New Book - In Praise of the "C" Word
It's always great when friends I have known for years author a book...I love seeing their names in print.

Kathy Merrick has been reading this blog since I first started writing it almost 7 years ago. I originally met her when she was working at Tomato Factory, and even back then she was referred to as the master crocheter. Kathy has in incredible eye for color and she has combined that with her crochet expertise to come up with Interweave's latest book.

Crochet in Color: Techniques and Designs for Playing with Color has just been added to the Amazon database for pre-ordering with an expected release date of October 2009.

Suffice it to say, I have my order placed already.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More MSKR 2009

Just a little about the schedule of events.

I left early on Thursday morning to avoid traffic and arrived to a rainy Easton Mountain at about 9:30 in the morning. Greeted by Ted, Alan and Jeff, we spent the next few hours setting up the welcome packets and giveaway bags and door-prize table.

Once all that was finished the four of us headed off to a Turkish restaurant in Troy that I loved when I was working up in that area a few years ago (called Ali Baba's in case it matters). We met up with Kyle, Chuck, Michael, Dave and Scott at the restaurant and had a delightful lunch.

Back at Easton, the guys started arriving and checking in and re-acquainting with guys from last year and meeting new guys from this year. Eventually, we go to dinner and then the formal start of the event, the welcome circle. I have to say, this is my favorite part of the retreat. With all 42 guys there and well-fed, we describe how the event will play out and then do an enjoyable, yet competitive get-to-know-you game (the guys compete for door-prizes).

My first night had me up until about 2:00 am because I didn't want to miss a thing, and the following morning, I was up at 6:00 am to see the rain had passed, and the while the clouds hung low over Easton Mountain, they were going to soon be burned off by the sun.

I'll just post some additional pictures here in no particular order.

Matthew (HyphenBoy), Kyle, John, Solomon and Stephen (HizKnits)

Me and Juan

Jerry (Easton staff member who was VERY helpful to me) and Van

Jeff, Bob, Chuck and John

I-Phone, Sean, Kenny and Mark waiting for dinner.

Guido and John

Daniel and Josh

Chuck and John

Carl and Ted

Bob, Joe (the other one!) and Stephen (Touch of Twist)

Current Knitting
Finished up another long vertical seam of six squares-to-six squares on the Easton Mountain afghan, and now I just have one more to finish up.

I have already decided on my next project which will be Marlowe Crawford's sock that she designed specifically for the Men's Knitting Retreat. More about that in next entry.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Seanna Lee writes, "Those afghan squares are stunning! I especially love the blue and white one and the yellow and white ones in the photo."

lol...the yellow and white one is spectacular and was done by WonderMike...unfortunately, it was done in his own handspun, instead of the acrylic yarn that everyone else was required to use. We couldn't use it in the afghan, but we did make a pillow out of it that will go with the afghan.

Regarding Peter (Nanna) being at the retreat, Duffy writes, "How did you manage to get Nanna Peter away from his precious plants?"

Uh...hello?!?!...isn't that a no-brainer? Look at what his choices were.

Fredda (with all the concern of my adopted Jewish mother asks), "Will you get a chance to rest?"

Actually, this week I've slept 9 hours for two nights in a row. Only one more long sleep and I'll be back out of deficit. Although, I have already started planning for MSKR 2010!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Use any positive superlative you can think of, and that would be an apt description of this year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.

Hung Over
Can you be hungover from joy?...okay...well, maybe it was all the chocolate. I got home last night at about 8:30, exhausted and hungry. I forced myself to put away as much stuff as I could in the hour I had before I had to get to bed. Suffice it to say, I'm still tired, but my mind keeps drifting back to the incredibly fun times we had at the retreat this year.

First of all, the guys were just incredible. 21 of last year's 32 guys repeated this year and having already fallen in love with each of them, it was fantastic getting to see them again. The 21 new guys were equally as incredible, and I was thrilled to be able to get to fall in love with all of them as well. This year we had guys from Canada, Mexico and Australia (hi Nanna!). We also had guys from California, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, Washington DC and of course closer states like Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

One of the most amazing aspects of the retreat is that each guy comes looking to make the event great for everyone. The spirit of generosity and caring for each other is what truly makes this event so incredible. It's indescribable how it feels when each and every participant takes full responsibility for making sure everyone enjoys themselves.

Here are some pictures...I'll post more in the days to come.

Here's me having just arrived at Easton Mountain...god, my car takes an awful photo!

The morning fog over Easton Mountain and the retreat center nestled in the woods awaiting the arrival of all the guys.

Here's the table of door prizes that were donated by some incredibly generous vendors.

Alan and Jeff checking out the swag.

All the give-away bags lined up and ready for the guys to arrive.

Current Knitting
I knit a lot this retreat. I was putting together the blocks for the afghan we were supposed to have donated to Easton Mountain.

Unfortunately, I totally messed up Kyle's awesome project. I thought I'd be able to get it all done, and I didn't. I really should have given over some of the knitting to others, but my planning totally sucked. What made it worse is that we couldn't even get pictures of the guys who contributed squares with the finished afghan.

Here are some of the amazing squares the guys contributed.

I'm still working on the unfinished afghan and we will send it to them once it's finished and pictures have been taken. The one saving grace of it all is that it will be a beautiful afghan when it's finished.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Airbags Scare Me

Have you ever seen an airbag go off in real life? In your own face?

It's Gotta Hurt!!!
I've only seen airbags go off on television and in movies, but it always looks like it's a very powerful explosion.

When I look at my steering wheel, and the cover for the airbag, I can only think that I would hate to have the piece of rubberized plastic flying at my face.

Granted, I wouldn't really want to be in a car accident that required an airbag to deploy anyway, but the thought of it happening in actuality is something that looks shocking and awful. And these days cars have them all over the freaking place

I guess it's a lot less awful than having your face jammed into a shattered windshield, but airbags still scare me. Could someone please come up with a proper term for this phobia? It would add some comfort that my fears had at least been deemed important enough to have a diagnosis.

Current Knitting

Gee that was easy.

At least none that I can show on the blog.

Recent Purchases
I don't usually do this, because I like the door prizes we get for the retreat to be a surprise to the guys when they get there, but I had to rave about some yarn that I will definitely be ordering to have for myself.

Have you ever gotten yarn from Kim at the Woolen Rabbit? She donated some of her Merino/Silk hand-dyed yarn and it is truly gorgeous. Don't get me wrong, we have gotten some spectacularly generous donations so far, and the guys will be quite pleased, and my credit card will definitely suffer. Check out Kim's Merino/Silk.

Okay...I already ordered some...I couldn't resist.

I also ordered and received this lovely yarn.

It's Mulespun wool from Custom Woolen Mills. I just loved the rich black tweediness of this yarn. It's also quite a nice sturdy/rustic feeling yarn, which I intend on turning into a very manly sweater.

My favorite part about this yarn was the box they mailed it to me in.

Nothing like having Tucan Sam appearing on your doorstep delivering you nice

Readers' Comments/Questions
Tim writes, "As for the ADD thing... me too. Have you tried caffeine? For many of us, it actually helps slow-down and focus our minds..."

I'm actually not too sure where one should draw the line between "gets bored easily" and has a bona fide case of ADD. In my case it could probably be either. I do drink caffeine (coffee and/or lattes) each morning, but I'm not sure of how it affects my ability to focus.

About the latest Niebling lace project, Maureen asks, "Where will you display it?" Sheri adds, "What do you do with this lace piece? Is it a table cloth? Or a shawl? Of a belated birthday gift for your blog reader Sheri?"

Probably on a dining table over a white table cloth. Or more likely give it to someone who will do something similar. It probably would work as a shawl for a smaller person as it's probably about 50"x50", but would work a little better as a table cover.

Anne Marie asks, "WTF is that clown thing leaning against the stair guard? I have never seen one of those and my curiosity is runnin' wild!"

It's actually a sculpture by a local's got a very odd combination of colorful, child's toy-like quality and scare-the-shit-out-of-kids clown feel. Thaddeus and I both love it.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Time To Get Organized

With the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat less than 2 weeks away, I have GOT to get organized.

Would Amphetamines Help?
I would probably be diagnosed with some level of Attention Deficit Disorder if I ever cared to have it assessed. It definitely doesn't come in handy when I'm trying to get all the stuff in order for the upcoming knitting retreat.

I have boxes and bags of yarn and fiber that generous yarn/fiber vendors have donated. I have to get all the stuff in order and properly marked so I can make sure the guys know who to go to when they want more of something. I also have e-mails to send out, arrival packets to create. I need a triage list

Blogging may take a back seat for a little bit, but I'll try to keep you updated as much as possible.

Current Knitting
I honestly haven't done any new knitting. In fact, I've done negative knitting!

Yes...the amazing socks I'm making from Jame's Merino Possum yarn...I finished the first sock and realized the foot is too small. I'm going to have to rip out all that fucking ribbing and the heel. I couldn't even look at it.

But I did finish up the blocking of Le Soir D'Or (Niebling's Federdolde design). Here are some pictures with and without pins.

The second to last picture shows the color of this yarn the best...kind of like a tarnished penny.

I love the drape of this silk, in fact I've already ordered more from A Verb For Keeping Warm. I also have to decide on what to do with the leftover yarn from this project.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding pedestrian-friendly locations, JJ asks, "Wait, what part of MA were you in?"

As Sean noted, it wasn't Boston. It was out in Amherst.