Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rhinebeck, Baby!

We had so much fun. I'm already looking forward to next year. If you love yarn and the fiber arts, you really should go. Come on, Rhinebeck 2009!


After my cardiology appointment, which went fairly well, I drove home and met up with Lisa of Can't Stop Knitting fame. We drove out to Northampton to stay with her parents. We made it to Webs about 15 minutes before closing but we each still managed to pick up a few items. I was buying Malabrigo chunky for two friends, so I picked up a skein for myself and also managed to reach out and snag some lovely handpainted sock yarn. Of course, none of this came out of my Rhinebeck budget because we weren't at Rhinebeck yet.

The Webs bus was scheduled to leave at 7:30 am. Lisa and I set our alarms for 5:15 am. We were both overly concerned about missing the bus. We each set our phone alarms and then we set the alarm clock in the guest room where I was sleeping. We also got a little panicky and worried it might be daylight savings time. I ended up checking it out on the internet. Afterwards, when cooler heads prevailed, we both realized that daylight savings time always starts at midnight on a Saturday night, so it wouldn't have affected us. As I write this, I also realize that we "fall back," which means that instead of missing the bus, we would have been an hour EARLY if daylight savings time was in effect. All of which just goes to show you how excited we were to go on our trip.


After a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts (I run on Dunkin' iced tea), we arrived at Webs well before the bus. In fact, we would have been well before the bus even if we arrived at 7:30 because the bus driver had a little trouble finding us! Lisa noticed a tour bus driving past the entrance to Webs, and speculated jokingly that it was our bus missing the turn. A few minutes later, the same bus drove past going the other direction. Eventually, the girl from Webs who was running the tour went out to the main road, met up with the driver and then rode back with him to give him directions.

Once we were on the road, the group leader from Webs asked several trivia questions. The winners got prizes ranging from Webs water bottles to pretty knitting bags complete with either the materials for drop spindle spinning or knitting a project! Lisa immediately won a water bottle. I stunk at the questions, so I won nothing. As we pulled up to the fair, the group leader announced that the first three people with birth dates coming up would win $10. Lisa was one of the big winners!

Now to describe Rhinebeck. It reminded me of the Topsfield Fair (for those of you in Massachusetts who are familiar with it), except that almost everything was fiber related. We started out in a big building with a ton of vendors. I immediately bought a skein of silk/merino blend, while Lisa got yarn and a pattern from the same vendor. The crowd was insane. It was difficult to move in and out of some of the booths, and I ended up giving Lisa my skein and some money, because by the time I was done shopping, she was about 10 people ahead of me in the checkout line.

She sent me on a mission to find the Blue Moon booth while she waited to check out. We had been warned that the Blue Moon would sell out in the first hour, and we were both interested in checking it out. She met me at the booth, which was pretty crammed. We each grabbed chose a skein and headed to the checkout line. There were about 4 people in front of the counter, but as we headed to the end of the line, we saw that it went around the corner...and all the way across the giant hall, where it then doubled back. There were at least 50 people in line! We both turned right around and put the skeins down, because that line just wasn't worth it.

I was pleased to see a lot of rug hooking vendors, and ended up buying a punch needle kit, pattern and some wool thread for the project. Because I TOTALLY need another craft to do! I also got some great ideas for my etsy store (I'm working on your pin, Lisa!).

We spent an inordinate amount of time trying to locate the Ancient Threads booth. The Rhinebeck website said it would be located between building 26 and 27, but we just couldn't find it. On the bus ride home, Lisa noticed that it didn't appear in the guidebook we got at the fair, so they probably weren't even there this year!

Here are a couple of "friends" from the fair:

We wandered around aimlessly for about 40 minutes trying to locate the Ravelry meet up as well. We wanted to get our Ravelry buttons because we heard a rumor that some vendors would give discounts to Ravelers (I didn't get any discounts, so I don't know if it was true or not). There was a vague description of the meet up site, and a map with an arrow pointing to nothing. Eventually we banded together with another Raveler and just stood in the general location suggested by the arrow. After a little while, Casey, the Very Nice Man who programmed Ravelry showed up with his brother-in-law, another guy and beer in hand. Several of us immediately used the opportunity to get photos with him, which made him very shy and prompted him to remind us that his wife, Jess, who thought up the idea of Ravelry, would be there soon and wouldn't we rather have a picture of her? Lisa and I just thanked him and grabbed our buttons so we could get back to the vendors.

That's little crocheted Bob in his pocket!

Here's what I bought:

- Decadent Fibers Creme Brulee in a semisolid blue (2000 yds)
- Socks that Rock medium weight sock yarn (3 skeins, I was out of control)
- Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm sock yarn
- Shelridge Farms sock yarn (3 skeins), a Lucy Neatby scarf pattern, and a Cookie A sock pattern
- Briar Rose DK weight in deep reds and blue (1000 yds)
- Spirit Trails sock yarn in semisolid blue
- Some silk/merino blend yarn from a vendor whose name escapes me (blues and greens)
- Creatively Dyed sock in semisolid silver
- a punch needle design, wool thread and punch needle set
- 2 kinds of goat cheese for Jim
- Swedish Fish for the kids
- a Go-Monkey project bag (check out their website)

I might have left some stuff out, I'm doing this from memory. If you have access to Ravelry, you can look in my stash and see everything. Or you can just look at a picture of the whole thing here:

There were a lot of people wearing their Rhinebeck Sweaters. Lisa was wearing her beautiful February Lady, and about 1,000 people stopped us to compliment her. A couple of people even stopped to compliment me on my very detailed Talbot's sweater because they assumed I'd knit it myself. Sadly, I didn't even come close to finishing my Wisteria sweater in time for the trip.

After a long day of shopping, we trudged back to the bus. We were told at the beginning of the day that we had to be back at the bus by 4:00 pm. Lisa and I picked up some apple crisp and ice cream and made sure we were there by 3:45. Some people had such large purchases that they opened the luggage compartment under the bus! We all dragged ourselves into the bus and waited while the group leader took attendance. We had a few stragglers who showed up just before 4. She took the final attendance and one person was missing! The missing lady was apparently traveling alone. No one knew her and no one had a cell phone number for her. The store tried calling her home number and no one answered. Eventually, the group leader left the bus and went back into the fair to have her paged, to no avail. We finally left at about 4:45 without her! We are very curious as to what happened -- my guess is that she met up with someone she knew and decided to go back with that person.

On the drive home, we played a yarn version of "Let's Make a Deal." The group leader called out the description of an item and the first person to show one got a prize. I won a water bottle and a little kit that included needles, a pattern and a skein of yarn.

It was such a fun weekend. It could only have been better if we'd gone with a big group of friends. I hope we can get more people to go next year!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Off to Rhinebeck with a Broken Heart

Well, folks, Lisa and I are heading out tomorrow afternoon! I am as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I have snacks, my head lamp (so I can knit on the bus after dark), two projects to work on and a wad of cash in my purse. Lisa's an old hat at Rhinebeck, but it's all new to me.

Sadly, I will not be wearing my Wisteria sweater, although I will bring it along to work on. I am only 20 rows from completing the body, but there are still two sleeves, each of which are cabled at the wrist. I toyed with staying up all night to finish it, but there's a point when you just have to let it go. I'm at that point.

I am going to operate on a cash only basis so that when the money runs out my shopping is done. That way I'll be less likely to go over my budget. I'm going to try very hard to stick to it. Of course, the budget doesn't include any monies spent at Webs tomorrow afternoon. I will be taking a look in the warehouse, of course.

In other news, I got my echocardiogram results this week. I have had some regression since I stopped taking my beta blocker this summer. I will be seeing my cardiologist (who looks like a very cute 12 year old) tomorrow right before I leave on my trip.

I've been pretty down since my doctor sent me the results. People who are diagnosed with an Ejection Fraction (EF) of 30% or greater usually resolve their condition within a year. People diagnosed below that mark have a much lower chance of healing. Since I was at 33% +/- 5%, I could go either way. After leaving my job, I improved significantly and had an EF of 60% +/- 5% (totally normal) last fall. I was hopeful that if I maintained that level for a year, I might be able to stop the medications and resume my normal life. The regression means I might have to go back on my old meds, which means more problems with asthma and all the other crappy side effects I have from beta blockers. Sadly, I've had some slight enlargement and my EF droped to 52% +/- 5%.

I know intellectually that's not a big deal. Technically, I'm still in the normal range, and I have been for the last 3 echos. That's something to be really happy about. There can be variations in EF from day to day that could explain the slight regression.

Emotionally, I'm really fragile right now. I've felt so much better and so HOPEFUL since I stopped the beta blocker. I dread the thought of taking a step backwards when I was so looking forward to coming to an end of this whole episode. I am trying to accept that I may have to take the medications, and then additional medications to counteract the side effects, for the rest of my life. The good news is that I'll be perfectly healthy. The bad news is that this heart problem will be a permanent part of my life. Even though I've contemplated that eventuality for 2 years, deep down I always thought I'd get past this point.

So I'm heartbroken right now (no pun intended). The only thing helping me keep my chin up is the excitement of Rhinebeck. If I had to have bad news, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Anyway, I try to keep my blog light and don't want to make my crappy ticker a regular part of this blog. So that's the way things stand right now, and I have a gut feeling that my very conservative cardiologist is going to go for the cautious approach tomorrow. Guess I better bust out the granny pill organizer again!

BUT...I'm going to Rhinebeck! Wheeeee!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yarns. I Haz Dem.

Wanna see?

My two dyeing partners in crime (hi, ladies!) and I got together on Friday and had a little fun with acid dyes. All told, we did 8 lots of yarn. The gals (Larra and Sheila) each had a sock blank to dye for an upcoming swap, and they had to dye them in Christmas colors. Both of them looked really pretty when they were done, with reds, greens and a dash of gold (for the star, of course!). Larra did almost everything else in blue, as usual, but also threw together a gorgeous hank in the colors of indian corn -- brown, orange, yellow and red.

I had an interesting time. I had planned out colors for three hanks. The first one was meant to be brown and pink. In my mind, I saw it as a rich, chocolatey brown with pale baby pink. It came out much rosier than I planned, but I really like the end result. I named that colorway Cupcake.

The second skein was meant to be various shades of blue. I started out with my favorite Cushing Perfection color, Copenhagen Blue, and something odd happened. As soon as the dye hit the yarn, a pale pink tone leached out on either side of the applied dye. It didn't happen when Larra used it on her yarn, so I'm guessing it had something to do with the way mine was prepared or the type of fiber. At any rate, I loved the colors together. Sheila's suggestion was to go with it, so I dyed patches of yarn next to each other to make spots of pink. I called that skein Hyacinth. I wonder if I can replicate it, or if it was just one of those happy dyeing accidents?

The last colorway was meant to be blues, maroons and purples. In my mind's eye, the colors were going to be darker and more muted, but I fell in love with the brighter colors and they way they blended. The blue to purple range reminded me of irises, so I named that colorway Iris Setosa (the latin name for the flower).

The last time I dyed, I didn't make enough dye up, so this time I made big mason jars of dye. It was a bit of an overestimate, so now I have several mason jars of dye left over. I'm tempted to dye the two remaining hanks from my stash, but I'm going to try and hold out until the ladies can arrange another dyeing play date. I have some silk and merino blend yarn winging its way to me as I type and I want to do that yarn at the same time.

My plan is to sell some of the yarn on my etsy store, but I'm not sure I can part with it! Every skein is so personal and appeals to my specific taste (obviously). I am already planning socks for some of the colors. Partly for that reason, and partly because I have more sock yarn than I can ever knit, I have designated 2009 as my personal Year of the Sock. My goal is to knit 1 pair of socks each month, for a total of 12 pair. I'm not sure I can do it, but that's my goal.

In other yarny news, I bought some pretty stuff at The Yarn and Fiber Company. I got a skein of Kauni in the bright rainbow colors and a beautiful skein of Smooshy in Dusky Aurora, which seemed so familiar...when I got home, I saw that I'd bought Classy in the same colorway a few weeks ago AND FORGOT ALL ABOUT IT.

This upcoming weekend I'll be at Rhinebeck with my friend Lisa. I've decided to make cash-only purchases so I will be limited to a predetermined amount. I'll be armed with my new phone so I can check patterns for yardage. I'll be snapping some photos and just generally enoying the yarnage. Can't wait!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pork... It's the Other White Meat

You know when kids say or do things that give other people the wrong impression of your home life?

Yesterday, Lily had a homework assignment about nutrition. She was asked to draw a picture of her family eating a healthful meal. The sheet also included instructions to the parent. I was supposed to write down her description of the picture and label each of the healthful foods she drew. Also, for reasons unknown to me, I had to sign MY name at the bottom of the page. I think now it was so they can use the document against me in family court, but I digress.

Lily started out by drawing a large table with about 8 legs. Then she drew the four of us around the table. It was drawn as if she took a picture of the table, so Jim's back was to the viewer, I was drawn across the table from him and she and Jack were sitting at each end. I was pretty impressed with her attempt at realistic perspective, actually. She apologized to me because she drew my head "way small." She also felt she'd draw herself "ugh" and compensated by drawing her legs all the way down to the ground to show she was leaving the table. I'm not sure how that made her less "ugh" but that was her explanation.

Then she drew four platters on the table, each with a different food on it. As a final touch, she drew our chandelier over the table with lots of rays coming from the bulbs to show it was very bright.

Then it was my turn to ask her to describe the picture. I obviously don't have the picture here right now (they've probably turned it over to DSS), but I will quote it to the best of my memory:

"This is a picture of my family eating a healthful and delicious meal. The Grimsas is very bright so that we don't eat anything we're allergic to. Mama, Papa, Jack and Lily. Don't eat a healthful meal too much, at least once a day."

You are probably wondering what a Grimsas is. It happens to be the name IKEA gave the chandelier over our dining room table. It kind of stuck with us, and we refer to that light as the Grimsas. The "grim" portion of the name is actually kind of fitting, because the previous owner placed the wiring off center in the room. If we forget and center the table to the room, someone always bashes their head on the Grimsas. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Lily's picture.

Right. The very last thing I had to do was label the "healthful food" she drew. She told me the four platters contained ham, sausage, salad and a banana.

As I was filling out the sheet per the instructions, I was flashing forward to what the teacher was going to think when she saw it. Lily has given her the impression that we load up our table with pork products, that we only eat a healthful meal once a day, and that we need to keep our lights very bright to avoid eating things we're allergic to...because we're recklessly putting out foods containing dangerous allergens every night. AND...she's referring to the lamp by a strange name as if it's alive.

I would like to state for the record that I am not a big fan of the pork products. I cannot recall a single time we've ever served a ham in our home. I can count the number of times we've served sausage on one hand. We actually eat a lot of chicken and beef. Also, none of us are allergic to any foods. Lily used to get a rash on her face when she ate raw tomatoes, but she outgrew that. I assure you, if we were allergic to foods, Jim wouldn't be serving them out at the table and forcing us to poke through the food under the brightly lighted Grimsas to avoid them.

If you're looking for me, I'll be sitting by the phone waiting for the Department of Social Services to call.