Fiber College 2014

Sep 15

I had the pleasure of spending last weekend in Maine, where breezes blow in from the bay, wafting curtains, dappling the sunshine.

breezeThis was my second year teaching Savvy Storytelling with Gale Zucker at Fiber College. We worked hard. Our students worked hard. But I’d be hard put to imagine any of us felt like work was happening.

From left: Gale, Jani, me. Photo by Kirsten Kapur

From left: Gale, Jani, me. Photo by Kirsten Kapur

You can see what I mean. Gale’s a terrific photography teacher. Here she showed the class how props can transform an ugly corner into a story-telling background. Jani was a good sport, letting the students boss her around as she modeled Kirsten’s newly released Duane Park Triangle shawl.

I look forward to Fiber College, not just for the groovy vibe, the chance to learn and teach and fondle fiber, but for the excuse to live in my dream house for a weekend. The cottage is amazing, but what makes it a dream house is sharing it with smart, funny, caring, creative women. If I didn’t share the little ranch in the woods with Neal, sharing the cottage on the bay with Gale, Kirsten, Cal, Amy, Mary Lou, Jani, and Ellen would be my next-perfect arrangement.

Several of us, upon realizing that ’twas blogs what brought us together have decided to bring back the blog. Sure, we love our short forms of social media, but we want a return to long form conversation. So, I’ll take up the question Kirsten posed: what blogs should go on my feed?

Next time: sewing! More sewing!

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Thursday Loves

Jun 05

porchSure, it’s officially still spring, but with grades submitted and my other end-of-semester duties pretty well dispatched (except cleaning my work office. It’s like a library threw up in there. I’ve never allowed a work space to get so sloppy!), it’s time to slow down and call out “Summer’s here!”

Want a peek at what I’ve been loving lately?

1. TTL Mystery Shawl. I’m using Swans Island Fingering (so is Sara…we chose it as a reminder of our time in Maine at Fiber College with lovely Kirsten). This yarn feels great both as I’m knitting and once it is fabric.

2. Crochet! I’ve taught a lot of private crochet lessons this year, and I’ve been working on my Dune shawl. I’ve spent more of my craft time crocheting than knitting. There. The secret is out.

3. Mary’s invitation to play Book Bingo. I’ve been doing so much academic reading lately, and I miss reading texts other than journal articles. I’m well on my way to calling out Bingo. Play along, but know that I’m probably going to win. (Probably. Maybe.)

4. Karina dresses. I’ve said it before, but with Megan and Ruby joining me for my upcoming trip to Scotland and France, I’ll say it again: these dresses make the best travel companions. They are easy to wear, easy to style, easy to care for.

5. Ash Beckham’s Ted Talk. I love her message. I’ve watched this over and over and over.

6. Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers. This recipe is so good. I abhor boxed veggie burgers. I try to avoid soy, and I’m no fan of meat replacements. I haven’t eaten meat in nearly 16 years, and I don’t miss it. I don’t want a fake version of it. If I’m going to have a patty of some sort, I want it to be toothy and flavorful and taste like something. This recipe tastes like something-something GOOD! I usually make the full recipe, cook it all, and freeze the patties I don’t eat. They warm up nicely. I only made the dressing the first time…it’s delicious, but I like the patties on their own.

7. Living Proof products. Sara got me hooked on Amp, and then I got samples of Perfect Hair Day Shampoo and Prime Style Extender, and I had a few really good hair days. I’ll be buying full-size products soon!

8. Everything about Carla Sonheim’s work, site, and classes. If you want to have a playful afternoon, take a look at some of her tutorials and mess around with art supplies!

9. Sandra Pawula’s e-course Living with Ease. Give yourself this gift if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

10. Life on the porch! Neal put up the ceiling fan this weekend, and declared the porch finished. I’ve been out there every day, rain or shine, hot or cold (hey, that’s what blankets are for)! It’s like having a vacation home right in my own back yard (well, right off my kitchen).

Spill: what have you been loving?

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Happy 2014!

Jan 01

2014 hikeHappy New Year to you!

Neal and I celebrated the end of 2013 by writing out lists of what should stay in 2013 and burning those lists. How satisfying to let go of troubles that way.

And we welcomed 2014 in our usual fashion: a fantastic hike with friends. We packed festive foods and drink to enjoy at the top. Today’s crisp weather made for great hiking; Sarah and Josh schlepped a large carafe of hot coffee up the mountain…welcome warmth when fingers, bare to get at the Camembert cheese, numbed!

I’ve envisioned some endeavors for 2014:

  • Return to a paper planner. I’m testing out a bullet journal. It’s only day one, but the method appeals to me. I finally grokked the difference between a calendar and a planner (I’m a slow learner), and this grand bullet experiment will be supplemented by the calendar section of Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year.
  • Do 44,850 push ups. I’ve got a month-by-month plan (in my bullet journal, natch!).
  • Formulate and investigate a beautiful question. I’m undertaking a research project to prepare me for a digital writing class I’m teaching in the fall.
  • Help Oskar become a Canine Good Citizen. I want to train him to be a therapy dog who can visit nursing homes. I think he’ll brighten lots of elders’ days.
  • Knit an Icelandic sweater. I registered for Ragga’s Craftsy class ages ago. I have the yarn. I can’t wait to wear the sweater!

What endeavors have you dreamed for 2014?


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Information Overload

Mar 09

I love to learn. Knowledge rocks my world. When meeting someone new, I secretly wonder, like Emma, “is he a man of information?” I get a rush from being an early adapter, from knowing the news, from being well read.

Social media was made for a person like me. I was a little late to the blogging party (2005), but thereafter, when I heard about a new way to interact, I was on it.

Last summer, though, everything changed. I found myself spending far too much time on Facebook, reading posts that did little to enrich my connection to friends. Sure, meaningful communication can happen there, but with nearly 400 friends, no way could I imagine that real relationship building was happening with more than a few folks. At a time when I crave community more than ever, I was losing sleep from anxiety.

After some long, hard thinking, I made a decision. I posted a statement on Facebook that read

After coping with information-overload-induced anxiety, I’ve decided to use FB in a different way. I’m eliminating my friends list (not eliminating our friendships, though! email me any time!) and remaining in a few groups that communicate only here. I know you will all understand and tell me about the big ups and downs in your lives by email, phone, or in person. MWAH

Facebook doesn’t make it easy to delete friends. Honestly, though, I thought more about most of my people while I culled the list than I had in a while. I whittled the list down to about 50 people. There were some hard choices, but with very few exceptions, I deleted

  • Family (I can email or call them any time)
  • Acquaintances from real-life circles (if we haven’t become more than acquaintances yet, chance are we won’t)
  • Co-workers (we see each other at work; I’ll hear their news there)
  • People I don’t really know (see acquaintances)

On my list I kept a few very close friends. Even though we can communicate other ways, I like to see Sara’s pictures, and Sarah’s videos of her hilarious kids are, well, hilarious. Pals from my NY and my NM days stayed on the list, as did professionals whose work I admire and want to be certain to hear about.

I still use Twitter regularly. I don’t feel overwhelmed there. When a conversation gets going there, I shift it to email. I’m on Ravelry every day; I love to see what my crafty peeps have posted. I stopped using Instagram and renewed my relationship with Flickr. Why did I need two places to share my shots? I hop on Facebook a few times a week, but it no longer overwhelms or distracts me.

I’d love to hear how you handle information overload when you feel it.

On that note, I’m honored to be included in Be More With Less’s Simplicity in Action series. If you’re visiting from BMWL, welcome!

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Matters of Importance or About My Hair

Feb 04

It all started in October. Wait, no. It all started the year before. No. It really all started in my


freshman year of high school, in French class, when Teri plucked a white hair from my head and handed it to me.

The coloring started a little after, at first for fun: purple streaks! high lights! red! and grew into a bit of an addiction. The gray came in like incessant waves on the beach. My hair grows fast, at least it seems fast when the roots ruin the perfect-color high.

About a year ago, I posted something on Facebook about coloring my hair. The Subway Knitter asked wasn’t I curious how the silver (henceforth we shall not speak of gray) would come in? Nope. Not a bit.

I don’t know what changed. Sitting in my stylist’s chair last October, I asked her how I could find out. I was not about to cut off my hair; I spent the last five years growing out a pixie. Em suggested a “character streak” and bleached a chunk. The plan was to foil off that chunk when coloring the rest of my hair.

On my way to see Em in January (we have a date every five weeks. I love my stylist, but it is an expensive relationship), I couldn’t shake the feeling. It was time.

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Oct 30

We made it through the storm without losing power for more than a few minutes. After last October’s fiasco, I am so relieved. Neal and I agreed our preparation was much better this year–last year it never occurred to us that we’d lose power for more than a day or two. There was a lot of nervous energy at Chez Golightly yesterday. I had grading to do, but after every second or third paper, I jumped up to vacuum or chop veggies. It was hard to sit still!

Once I finished my grading goal for the day, I cast on for a new project: Andrea Goutier’s Hurricane Hat. I kicked it old school, writing out the pattern in the little notebook I’ve been using for the last eight years, just in case I lost wifi. Sure was soothing to knit 2×2 rib while the wind made the trees sway.

We were so fortunate. My thoughts are with those without power, those who sustained damage. I hope you’ve got something to provide a little soothing to you, too.

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