The Universe Talking Archives

November 13, 2006

Chelsea Morning

I woke up early this morning as usual, and decided to clear out TIVO while sipping my morning latte. My wonderful husband had secretly recorded a BBC Jewels show –it was Joni Mitchell from 1970. I love love love Joni, and put it right on and immediately burst into tears. I don’t know why, except that the songs are part of the soundtrack of my life. Or maybe it’s because I often weep at the sight of masters of anything – cooking, dog-training, music. It was certainly a fabulous way to start the day, and of course I had to call my aunti who’s mostly responsible for my love of Joni. Back in 1982-3ish, I bought tickets for me and two friends to see her in concert. Unfortunately, those two friends were my parents’ nightmare, and I was forbidden to go with them. Luckily, my aunti was available and surprised me – she and my mother were my dates for the show. And it was, of course, brilliant. Joni was even more fabulous because she’d just married her bass player – wonder if they’re still together. And I got to say recently, "can you believe we saw Joni 24 years ago?!" It's new that I can say things that start with 20 years ago - freaky, wonderful, and a bit scary all at once! Do you ever have mornings like me?

I promise to return to spinning and knitting content in the next post.

January 20, 2007

Is it a sign?

Of better times on the way for our world? That this afternoon, on a bright sunshine-y day, an actual, real life Girl Scout knocked on my door selling cookies? I don't know about you, but the last time I think I saw an actual Girl Scout in a neighborhood (not in front of the grocery store) was oh, about the time I was knocking on doors in 1975! I'm no different than anyone else - Thin Mints make me nostalgic, and I buy the cookies every year from the mom or dad who's posted their daughter's form at work, but I do it grudgingly. What life skill does that teach the kid? Do they learn about earning their "pay?" The sense and thrill of success? How to handle rejection? No, they learn an easy way out, and all of us out there are forced to get our fix through less than satisfactory, obligated, impersonal transaction with the form posted on the break room wall.

We jump when someone knocks - we don't get a lot of visitors and we like it just fine that way. So I snarled when DH said "it's a kid at the door," prepared to turn away someone selling overpriced candy for their basketball team, or raffle tickets for something, but my heart leapt when I heard the little voice ask if he wanted to buy some GS cookies. I jumped up, greeted the little girl, and headed out to sit with her on my porch steps in the sun to fill out the form. It was a glorious sight - her dad standing out on the sidewalk with their two big dogs (a bonus for me) and her mom working the other side of the street with the older daughter and another dog. I engaged the little girl and agreed that her favorites, Thin Mints and Samoas were top-notch choices, and I hapily ordered four boxes. And then talked to the mom and dad, and the dogs.

I tell you, when I came back inside I was verklempt. Touched. Delighted. This is the way it's supposed to be! Oh, it made me smile. All was right with the world in this perfect little neighborhood moment. Yay world!

January 23, 2007

Got a feeling 41 is gonna be a good year

(I know, the line is actually "51 is gonna be a good year", but I'm sticking with it)

A lot of fabulous things, besides my birth and my twin's 12 minutes later (a most important fact), happened in 1966:

  • The first Star Trek aired

  • The Mustang convertible was at its best

  • The Sound of Music won Best Picture

  • A Taste of Honey by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass was record of the year (!)

  • The Food and Drug Administration declares "the Pill" safe for human use (wow - didn't know that!)

  • Billie Jean King won Wimbledon

So far, for my birthday today, I've worked up about four inches (okay, I started last night) of a Clapotis with my pet silk that's looking just how I imagined it would. Ahhhhh. And last night, just in time for today, I finished my first handspun knit object which I'll wear all day to work. I think it will look perfect with the tiara I'll be sporting as well. If you had to share your birthday your whole life, you'd go all out too. It's amazing how many people look at me like I'm wearing the tiara as a serious accesory - geesh!

My So Called Scarf from my handspun Spunky Eclectic BFL on size 10.5s, wearing my tiara and a closeup below:

I also just watched the sweet, sweet last scenes of Fandango so I could hear the magical Pat Metheny It's For You and then the BBC Joni Mitchell concert from 1970 again. TIVO rules. If you haven't seen Fandango, run to the video store and rent it right now. Your man will like it too - I promise.

I'll have more birthday musings and a clue to my psyche tomorrow....

Anyone care to name the song referenced (incorrectly) in the title? It's from a soundtrack if that helps....

March 25, 2007

I'm listening, Universe!

I've been stalling to write about Knitapalooza 07 since it ended a week ago because I know I can't express, with words, how soul-satisfying it was. But I'll try...

I've been to all four Knitapaloozas now, organized by the brilliant owner of my LYS, and they've all been wonderful in one way or another. I got to learn Beth Brown Reinsel's baby Aran, top-down sweater that I hear is a badge of honor. I learned to spin. I've met many fabulous knitters. This year though - spiritual. Mind-blowing. Life changing. I'm so very sure that this is the world I want to live in - the one with Sally Melvilles and Cindy Taylors and a bazillion others who didn't happen to be my guides for the weekend. I WILL figure out a way to live in this world of fiber, and to leave behind more than 20 years of office work - I will. Even though I'm terribly challenged in design, or pattern drafting - I know there's a place for me here somewhere. I've never felt so strongly that I was with the right people - I've been looking for my people all my life, and here they are. Knitters. Spinners. Yarn people. Pattern people. Let's start a commune.

I arrived Friday morning eeeearly and greeted somewhere over 70 knitters all wearing the same silly ear to ear grin that I was. All my chakras were wide open, every cell connected to the weekend, I was fully in the moment, alive, awake, tingling - it was like the angels were singing and the room was bathed in bright warm white light - really - I kid you not. And I don't do angels.


My LYS owner had told me early in the week that she had a surprise for me - aside from the fact that my Reynolds Whiskey order would be waiting for me. Drove me nuts, but I waited. I spotted my friend, and amidst all the chatter and showing off and seeing people we haven't seen since last year, the fashion show started. My first surprise was that my Modesitt Lace Corset appeared on a model - how flattering! After the fashion show, our LYSO had me stand while she announced that sign-ups for next year were open and, by the way, Annie Modesitt and Melissa Leapman will be teaching! I know I looked ridiculous, but I was jumping up and down like a little kid. (In fact, I'm delighted to report that I spent most of the weekend in full-on child's mind) I've never met either of these women, but feel like I know both because a) I'm test knitting Melissa's wild and crazy cable swatches, and 2) Annie responded immediately when I submitted an essay for consideration for the collection she was publishing almost two years ago, and she accepted my story and made me a published author in Cheaper Than Therapy! Wheeee! The knitting goddesses were certainly with me already, and we hadn't even finished breakfast. And then I won a door prize! I thought someone was going to have to tie me down - I was goofy happy. Two gorgeous, rich, sunny yellow hanks of Rio de la Plata wool - mmmmm.

I spent Friday in classes with Cindy Taylor of, first in pattern drafting and then in Garment Therapy. She's so cool, confident, quirky and fun - and she's got a great approach to thinking about patterns. Even though the maths were causing brain shorts, I'm convinced that if I hear and think about and imagine making my own pattern, I'll eventually get up the courage to actually try it. Good stuff. Cindy's got a nice line of patterns coming out - make sure you click on over to see. I brought two garments for rescue: First, the gigundous fair-isle cardigan I did for CA that I've been considering cutting in half and grafting back together to lose some inches. We decided instead that repurposing it would be better - it's all mine now, to snuggle up in on a chilly morning on the beach! He'll get something that fits, and that he might really wear. I also brought my Vogue Knits Diamond pullover from 2004, which I spent so long trying to wear on Friday morning that I ran out of time to stop for a coffee on the way. I couldn't make it work, so I wore something else and brought it with me. The front points are floppy which makes the square neckline look hangy- makes me crazy even though I redid the neckline much better than the first time. When I put it on, the first thing I was reminded was that I was the only one seeing all the drooping from my point of view - everyone else was seeing the whole sweater. Still not good enough - so we turned it backwards - not so horrible. I think I'll try the crochet edging ONE MORE TIME. It's sooo pretty and it's CTH silk & merino, so it's soft like buttah. Cindy's big on finding new ways to use a knit - rather than ripping, she likes to keep moving forward. More good stuff, and new ways to think about the final product.

I don't think any of us managed to keep going and go out to dinner - we all went home and crashed Friday night so we'd be ready for a full day on Saturday - my whole day with the amazing Sally Melville. A little gift from the universe for me. She calls herself an old hippie and teaches with flair and humor and stories - amazing. She is the same age as my mom, and I felt like I knew her already. She talked about her super creative grown kids, and I called my mom after the weekend to say thanks again for her inspired creative mothering - this is all her fault for sure. Anyway, after spending the day with Sally learning about pattern drafting and making things that flatter and fit, and that my perfect balance point is 20.5", I will never look at a project the same way again. I've been a knit the next hardest thing knitter for a while, and now the next hardest thing I plan to do is to make something that fits me perfectly, even if it's an all stockinette sweater. I felt like an eager student in grade school, and I must have looked it too, because she asked me to model a little vest during the afternoon class - and then said I should wear it the rest of the day Saturday. Squee! This is in Celtics & Arans and is a bazillion random stitch patterns in cotton. She's wearing the fair isle skirt outfit from Color - I've wanted to make it, but now I WILL make it!

with Sally Melville

I had dinner with the gang and returned for Sally's "Ten Things A Knitter Hates to Hear" talk, which was a hoot and spot on, and went home to conk out before her "Creativity" talk Sunday morning. I felt like I imagine the devout feel in church on Sunday mornings - completely entranced, a believer, nodding, knitting, laughing, thinking. Sally used fabulous quotes from Churchill to quantum physiscists to Einstein to talk about and illustrate the creative process - phew. It all ended way too soon - it's so hard to walk out of that hotel each year knowing it will be a looooong time before the next time.

I'm still recovering, and my brain is still awhirl from the weekend - both the complete and overwhelming connection to this world and all the information... I'm having a bit of trouble concentrating. Good thing I didn't have a chance to sit still with a Board meeting and giant event at work - hah.

March 28, 2007

Holy Canoli

I was just tinkering around and decided to add my favorite astrologer's link to my page. In the process, I checked my daily, weekly and monthly forecasts, wondering if maybe Mercury was back in retrograde and that's why I'm feeling achy and dumpy (like PMS needs an excuse). Here's what the March 'scope had for me, in part:

"Mars is in your sign. Expect to be amazed by the positive possibilities that suddenly become apparent to you. You've got a lot to do and a lot to deal with, but despite the pressure, there's scope for tremendous success. "

One of my favorite things Sally Melville said in her talk about creativity was that "every single possibility exists, it's out there somewhere, and it's just waiting to be observed to bring it into reality."

Now Jonathan Cainer from England is saying it too! It's amazing that when it's time, things start to percolate. Guess it's time. Take a look - he's been spot-on in many funky times in my life since oh, 1989.

May 7, 2007

Sheep & Wool Sheep & Wool Sheep & Wool!

I've braved the largest fiber festival in the country and survived - what a scene. Getting dressed to mingle with several gazillion fiber freaks was like getting ready for a date, and I spent time laughing at myself as I made, and discarded, a name-tag so everyone out there who was dying to meet me would know who I was (the dork with the name badge), tried on several outfits to maximize the opportunity to show off handknits (dork trying too hard), and went with my usual long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans with my original Clapotis (for warmth).

I flew up to Baltimore to meet Captain America, the world's best husband. The TSA and vendors in the Norfolk airport must have been taking happy pills - everyone was grinning and by the time they had my knitting needles out of my bag, I had my foot up on the conveyor to show off the handknit socks I was wearing. I was in Southwest's B cattle call line, so I took a seat in the middle between a giant man and a tall man in the third row so I could get right off the plane. I'm a little skinny thing - the flight was less than an hour - cool.

CA was surprised at the loooong line of cars going into the fairgrounds - not me. We parked in another county, but it was a reasonable day and the walk was lovely. I know I read about a knitblogger who was going to be there in her yellow VW camper and CA spotted it - damned if I can remember but hey - great yellow camper!!

I lost my mind immediately as expected. Things I know about myself but choose to occasionally overlook for an event of this magnitude: I have trouble with visual overload. I have no sense of direction, so going into one building and coming out turned me completely around each time - good thing CA was in charge of steering. I'm not so good at crowds. I am incredibly indecisive and sometimes a little too practical for my own good. I needed absolutely nothing going in.

We did all the outside buildings (pavillions?) when we arrived. I was surprised at the amount of yarn - it never occurred to me that there were so many small producers out there. I hadn't given a thought to patterns, have tons of stash, and so didn't spend a lot of time looking at it, though I did accost someone in the STR line so I could question her about its mystique. (I'm not sure I figured it out - but I only saw her skein.) I was there for fiber, if anything, and I have to admit that not only was I worried that I might find something more delicious at the next turn, but that I was sure I'd do it wrong when it came to buying some. Didn't occur to me to observe - do you just pull a hunk of roving off the balls or out of the bags? Do you wait to be helped? These are things I need to learn before my next attempt.

About 45 minutes in, this called out to me, and I'm not even sure what it is beyond 3 2oz, carded batts - fluffy pink clouds of softness:

pink clouds

It was now past 1pm, the time of the knitblogger meetup - and I had no idea by this point where I was supposed to be. I'm not a particularly social person - most nights I'm in my pj's after work with my knitting and my cats. But fiber is changing that, and I find myself wanting to hang out with knitters - amazing. So even though I was feeling shy and dorky, I called Mel, had her describe her surroundings, and managed to spot her right off. She's exactly like I imagined - gorgeous and fun and she knows about the greeting squeal - I think it's a tribal thing. She's a pro - with her cutie husband Tad they were there for the second time and had the place scoped out and a systematic approach. I was all anxious and jangly and they were cool as cucumbers. Best thing about the festival for sure. Can't wait to see the picture of us! (hint hint)

We ate a funnel cake, hit the exhibition halls for more stuff, stood in the loooong line for this (worth the wait):


The t-shirts are gorgeous - great design, great colors. Yes mom, I got you a mask too! CA didn't think it would be a good idea to take the masks on the plane - something about security not thinking they were as funny as I do, so they're coming home with him later this week. I also bought a funky silk/wool scarf felty kit, and I think that's it. I wish I had been alone to make a stealth run at the end to pick up a silk bell and some of the "party wool" in a tub I saw but didn't just buy, but I was being nice to CA.

I wonder if the S&W people would consider a day for claustrophobics like me - I didn't like cramming into the little booths....

We wandered out past these two characters - they win the silliest haircut prize:


Besides these guys, there were so many sheep - bigger sheep than I've ever seen, soft, copper-colored sheep, goats, alpacas, angora bunnies like silver poufs, amazing animals. We managed to keep just missing shearings, but saw some clipping that triggered a memory of those hand clippers from back when I had a pet lamb....

A very sheepy, fibery, exciting festival - I'll go back. With a better plan, more research, and the hopes of actually taking a class. I feel like I'm still just at the outside edge of the spinning world - I need to break all the way into the circle (in my own mind anyway).

August 23, 2007



Leroy, my FEMALE spider friend, got herself a big 'ol cicada yesterday - she was wrapping its upper body when I checked on her before work, and by the time I came home, she had sucked it dry and dropped it to the ground.

Of course I know that female spiders are the showier of the species, and that at least black widows eat their mates, but I believe this is the sort of thing we learned in school that just, as time goes by, simply falls out of our brains. Like algebra. And in my defense for assuming that Leroy's size and position made her male: 1) I simply do not think about spiders unless I'm squealing and levitating trying to escape one - or I'm watching Debra Winger hunt a human version down in Black Widow (ooohhhhh - remember that French man in Hawaii - yummy); b) I spend a lot of time stalking my bird feeders with the cats, and when it comes to birds, the boys ARE prettier; and 3) did I mention that I'm afraid of spiders and just never give them room in my brain or my world? I check on this girl at least twice a day. I worry when I go to visit and she's moved around the corner in the bed - I have a moment of despair when I think she might be gone. Go figure - I have a spider friend.

In knitting news, I've just finished a quickie Ty Dye bolero for my wild and crazy mother. Sort of finished. I discovered, as I laid it out to block, that I had pulled one of my classic garment-making maneuvers, perfected way back as a teen sewing clothes: I sewed up one side inside out. Yup - even though I know this particular trick well, and work to guard against it, and thought I checked carefully while riding home from the beach last weekend - I now have to take that garter stitch seam out and flip it. I did find the perfect glass button when we stopped at Knitting Addiction on the way home. This store is one of the very few I've ever been in that has samples and projects knitted up for EVERY SINGLE YARN in the shop. The owner told me she and one of her staff knit all fall and winter to make sure they know and can talk about each and every product in the shop. Fantastic.

I've also just completed the front of the green Silky Tweed sweater, and I'm an inch in to both sleeves - I CAN do them both at once on this project, and these are little cap sleeves, so i expect to have photos by the weekend. I three-needle bound off the shoulder seams - the ones on all four shoulders that I managed to do short-row style (still reeling from the success) and draped it over myself - though I'd never say it out loud, it looks like this could fit. Shhhh - not gonna jinx it.

September 10, 2007

And just like that...

She's gone. Leroy is gone. I watched her spin her web early yesterday, and then fed her a moth which she seemed most pleased with. It took three tries to get a moth to stick in her web - twice with the same wiley moth who managed to slip through somehow to freedom. I witnessed Leroy wrap her moth and dangle it below for later. I wandered by an hour or so later to find Leroy sucking the moth package and to see her catch another little bug for lunch. When I went out again late in the afternoon, she was gone. Her web too - it looked like something just blew through the whole thing. She was in a bed up against our fence - not sure how a bird would have flown through, but the blackbirds were back in force yesterday on their way south, so I'm assuming one of them enjoyed a crunchy black & yellow lunch. I held out hope until this morning since she'd gone missing once before when she moved in the bed, but armed with my lantern at 6AM I scoured the bed for any sign - to no avail.

This is all I have left of my friend Leroy, and I'll try to keep it safe through the winter for her:
Nature has been rough on me this summer - I'm sure the lesson has to do with how attached I get to fleeting things. From doves to baby birds to spiders I've been reminded to enjoy things while I can. Oy. I just miss her already. I know - I'm a freak. I've been trying to prepare myself for her natural death - but she's been such the queen of the tomatoes all summer that I almost expected her to live through our mild winter. I didn't expect to blink and find her gone. I had to look up Charlotte's Web quotes - this was an important book in my family and we even had a great german shepherd mutt named Wilbur. I wish I had the book because I know Charlotte says something profound about the cycle of life but I don't, so I'll go with some words from the narrator instead:

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. (The Dream will never forget Leroy either) Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

I have been knitting in between stalking Leroy and going to work, and this morning I bound off stitches at the armholes in my fair isle pullover, and tonight will test my gauge while knitting the front and back flat - ick. But better than trying to figure out how to get a steek in there, especially since I've never done steeks before. I will do them - I'm dying to cut some knitting, but I think I'll find an already-figured-out pattern for my first time. This photo of the glowing corrugated ribbing was meant for the last post, but since I don't have a current one, enjoy the indi-glo effect of the lavender and brown:

October 25, 2007


I think not. More like just another little quirk related to my lifelong, complicated relationship with all things military. You might have such a complicated relationship if your parents were a hawk and a dove - a Navy SEAL and a hippie. I grew up with a huge sense of pride and a love of men in uniform, but also mixed in a huge dose of rebellion. On a trip to the Naval Academy during high school, my father was gung ho about me, the oldest, attending while my mother tried to console me by telling me how good I'd look in uniform. True, but not enough to break my James Dean impersonation. I'd have been kicked right out back then anyway, though in hindsight it may just have been a darned good thing for me. Anyway, this really does have to do with knitting, I promise.

Captain America is in love with all things military surplus, and he is honored to tell people that his father-in-law was a SEAL. He came home one day all excited to show me his new SEAL t-shirt - The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday. Poor guy - I guffawed out loud and said, verbatim, "are you kidding me? I grew up with a gross of pencils bearing the family name and that quote!" I always think I'm escaping the whole military thing, and then I go and marry a guy who works with and has huge respect for our armed forces, and move to the Navy town I grew up visiting when dad drilled - go figure.


So, CA asked, as I was knitting away on my Minimalist Cardigan, if I was making a digital camouflage sweater! And he should know - he has a huge collection of digital cammo hats, work shirts, tote bags (you know, the ones the soldiers carry their yarn in-hah) and any number of other garments and doodads. You tell me - I think he's on to something. Maybe Cherry Tree Hill should get into the uniform business.


I'm into the sleeves - the end is in sight. I love being able to do two sleeves, or the two fronts for that matter, at the same time. I'm less likely to abandon a project out of boredom this way - a good thing.

I'm off for the weekend on a family adventure that features, among other things, an iPod full of everything we had on 8-track on our family road trips in the 70s. Like Queen, The Carpenters, Boxcar Willie, Baby Snooks, and Barbara Streisand. We'll be the station wagon rocking and laughing down the highway for sure!

December 30, 2007

Trash Totem

to·tem /ˈtoʊtəm/ –noun

1. a natural object or an animate being, as an animal or bird, assumed as the emblem of a clan, family, or group.
2. an object or natural phenomenon with which a family or sib considers itself closely related.
3. a representation of such an object serving as the distinctive mark of the clan or group.
4. anything serving as a distinctive, often venerated, emblem or symbol.

I'm using this term only a slightly incorrectly - one of my clan's many totems is inanimate and unnatural - but I like it and I'm going with it.
Captain America has been asking for a new pair of Fiber Trends Felted Clogs (his 3rd) for a month or so, but I was so caught up with the test knitting that I hadn't gotten around to them. Finally, after the green cardigan was sent off, I whipped up a pair in a couple of evenings for him during the last week before Christmas (which is also CA's birthday) and was feeling all caught up and ready to relax for my week off. And then I threw that very nearly completed pair away with the trash on Thursday. Yup, along with all the yarn and my Denise size 13 tips and short cable. (Take a moment to catch your breath - I know - it's horrifying).

I have to tell you a about couple of other tragedies so that you'll have some idea of how this could have happened. My earliest memory of a brush with the trash demons was when my father brought back six beautiful, handknit Scottish, cabled, natural white wool sweaters from his two-week active duty there. Gorgeous sweaters for the whole family. For some reason, they were in two white plastic bags - like kitchen-sized trash bags. The family lore is that for once, my brother decided to do his chores and take out the trash, and out three of those sweaters went. Ouch.

Then, Captain America bought a fabulous new suitcase a while back that opened up like a steamer trunk and had shelves and drawers and hanging places - fabulous. We kept it on our screened porch when we lived in a tiny apartment in DC, and one spring I noticed it was getting covered in pollen. Into a big black trash bag it went, and shortly thereafter, out to the trash in that big black trash bag in went when CA took out the trash. Ouch again - it had only been used once!

So, fast forward to last Thursday morning - trash day chez the Dream. I had a big pile of bags at the front door to go out with me when I left for work. Those clogs, in Cowboys colors for Mr. Texas pride, had to be hidden before he came home that afternoon, so I put them in a grocery bag and left the bag in my knitting corner of the couch - which, in my bungalow, is at the front door. As usual, I was rushing out the door and had to come back for a second trip to get all that trash. That bag on the couch looked just like another grocery bag filled with trash - so without thinking, I grabbed it right up with the rest of it. When I came home for lunch that afternoon, I knew EXACTLY what I'd done when I saw the big empty place on the couch. Aaaaauughhhhhh!

Good news - I had more yarn, and only had to run out to the LYS for one hank of the gray accent yarn - phew. Bad news - how in the world am I going to exercise this trash demon that seems to really, really like my family? When I told my mom, she said she was sure dad was laughing - yeah - I bet he is! We all know the moral of the story - don't put good stuff in trash bags for goodness' sake - but do we really think I'll learn that lesson? I'll add it to the things I'm supposed to be working on in this lifetime, but I fully expect to have come back for another life to perfect that one!

Captain America got his clogs on Christmas morning, and we promply threw them into the washer for felting. I hope to make myself another pair of those fabulous clogs soon - and I'm going to doctor it up a little to address the exposed skin from the top of the clogs to the bottom of my sweatpants - I'll post details when I see if my plan will work. That may be after I finish: the test cardigan for Melissa, the Whiskey Fair Isle pullover - so close, and the Sally Mellville white blouse from Needful Yarns - whew. I want to wear both the sweaters for our big knitting weekend this March, so I have a LOT of work cut out for me!

February 24, 2008

I COULD have. I CHOSE not to.


It's shocking that we're headed straight for the end of February - I feel like I was just cursing Puxatawney Phil's shadow seeing.... I'll sprinkle in some WIP photos just to break up the saga that looms ahead.....

It was right about then, Groundhog day-ish, when, out of nowhere, a fabulous yarn shop for sale came hurtling out of the universe into my lap. Just like that. It came flying at me with flashing neon signs saying "this could be IT, Dawn!" It happened out of the blue in the kind of way that stops you in your tracks and makes you think it was meant to be. It happened just as I'm settling in to much better times at my job that I was ready to run screaming from eight months ago. I wasn't looking for it - that's the way things are supposed to turn up in your life if you work hard and live right and put it out there in the universe that you want to find a way to work with fiber all the time... right? So holy shit - here it was!

I literally vibrated for several days - learned about the whole thing on a Thursday night, set the appointment for Captain America and I to meet with the couple selling the shop on Saturday, and I tried to remember how to breathe. I felt like my organs were sucked flat and pressed against my back inside. I felt giddy. Captain America got excited.

We met with the yarn shop folks - great. I had to wait until Monday to take advantage of my eight years working with the most incredible people who serve on the Board at my company - boy oh boy am I lucky to get to work with these folks. I needed quick, serious financial, legal - all kinds of help - we're pretty simple folks who filed a 1040EZ til we bought our house and we never had to find a lawyer, or have a relationship with our bank, or any of that other sort of grownup stuff.

The incredible person I called was away on vacation, but he must have checked in with his secretary 'cause all of a sudden he was on the phone. Without hesitation he made a phone call on my behalf and set me up with red-carpet treatment at a local bank, whose commercial lending people called me right after the bank president did! (Vibrating, trying to remember to breathe still - four days into the process)

Tuesday morning I met with the bankers - what do you wear when you're thinking about borrowing a whole lotta cash? I've been wearing the same pair of ratty black pumps for about ten years, and they say shoes say a lot about a person, so I had an agonizing morning trying to build an outfit around the new blue shoes that said I wasn't some cheapskate who couldn't afford new black shoes. I wore gold jewelry and a sweater set - gold somehow seems more serious than silver and since I'm not so into suits, the sweater set said "classic" and "professional." Right?

The bankers asked where I was in the process and my response was "here." My wonderful business owning mom kept assuring me no one knows anything about buying a business until they're buying one, and the bankers were incredibly generous and helped me set up a plan to figure it all out. Next step: CPA.

It was much easier getting dressed for the CPA appointment on Wednesday. Somehow it seemed like there was less on the line - and appearance just wasn't so important for an accountant. I know - where do I get this stuff?

We talked numbers - really talked. I had to stop him a few times for definitions and clarifications, but we got through a good discussion before he said he'd never have guessed I was a knitter! He pointed me to the next step: attorney to work up an offer.

I called the attorney - seemed like we weren't quite ready to get to the offer. We talked and agreed to talk some more the next week. It's all backwards when you want to buy a business - the bank doesn't want to talk about lending you money until you've got a firmly accepted offer, but I wanted to know how much I could borrow before I could decide if I wanted to make an offer!

In the meanwhile, I decided to call up a yarn shop owner I've admired since she opened her shop in another state more than four years ago. When I landed at her website, I discovered she'd sold her shop last summer! Was this a sign? I tracked her down by email and asked for advice - and she was incredibly honest and incredibly generous with her time and experience. So the next night, I decide to pop on over to Knit Happens - another yarn shop I watched open with envy and admiration four or five years ago - turns out Kristine has left the country and the shop is running without her, AND they closed down what I thought looked like an incredibly successful online shop too. Another sign.

And all through this time I was avoiding the nagging realization that I had already processed the whole yarn shop idea over the last four or five years and had decided that I really didn't want to be in retail. I didn't want to deal with the hours, the inventory, the staffing, the cash flow, etc., etc., etc. Decided. Moved on. Started thinking about other things I could do in the industry. Got involved in interesting and challenging projects in my day job. Didn't bat an eye last summer when another LYS went up for sale - didn't even consider it. So, this shop is THE shop in the area, or at least the one I where I shop. It's always busy, has a steady clientele, good classes, and a fabulous big deal retreat every year. So, so very seductive!

Then I figured it all out. I boiled it all down like my man would - so simple. Captain America and I recently spent several months talking about whether or not we should get a puppy - something we'd both really really love. BUT - after considering all the pros and cons very carefully, understanding the demads of puppy ownership, and witnessing my little sister's gorgeous four-month old golden leap from piece of furniture to piece of furniture, we made the very grownup decision that this wasn't the right time to become dog owners. Decided. Moved on. I'll continued to talk to all dogs on the street, but not gonna get one right now.

So this yarn shop thing felt just like what could happen in an instant if I got a whiff of puppy breath - a single whiff of that sweet, sweet puppy breath, and I could forget my hard fought, rational decision and end up with a puppy. Easily. Except the yarn shop would have locked us into a very, very large debt that would have made housebreaking a puppy seem like a walk in the park.

So, no yarn shop for me. I did the work, I took the steps, I made the right decision. I was telling the one friend who knew the saga about my phone call last Monday to pull my name from the running, and I held up my thumb and forefinger in that universal "little bit" symbol about to say I felt just a little bit disappointed that I wasn't going to be the new LYS owner when it occurred to me with a lightbulb flash - I wasn't disappointed at all! It turns out is wasn't meant to be in the end, but it was an incredible journey filled with great stuff, great people, and great generosity - not a bad way to spend February 2008!


  • Daffodils that were all ready to bloom right before a cold snap, so I cut them. And note the vase - I blew that glass!
  • White mohair blouse from Sally Melville & Needful Yarns blocking - it's further along and I'm grafting the collar to the neck band at the moment.
  • Sleevage! I finally gritted my teeth and picked back up on my Whiskey Fair Isle pullover - and it's DONE as of yesterday! Except for all the ends I have to weave in and the neck bind off I want to change from "in pattern" to a smooth knit bind off.
  • Gratuitous Bluefish shot - she's recently decided it's great to watch TV - she's really going to ruin her eyes this way, but she makes me giggle. I think this is the opening to HBO's In Treatment on the screen - how cool is that? Are you watching this show BTW? Good stuff, especially with smouldering Gabriel Byrne in the lead. Mmmm.

September 4, 2009

I had no idea

I'm writing from Bozeman, Montana, where Captain America and I are passing through on our way from Glacier National Park to Yellowstone and Teton National Parks on our 10th anniversary Epic Adventure.

Driving today, first along and then inside these great mountains, I realized I have simply never given much thought at all to mountains. Just never considered them - never gave them a thought. Being a born and bred beach girl, I've done coasts and islands, and a francophile, Paris twice, but oh, never this.


I've been saying things like "I'm converted" about the mountains, but that's not really right. It's not like I'm switching from beaches, but shazam - add mountain girl to my bio. Captain America, who planned this magical tour, has had this in his soul since Boy Scouts at 12, and now it's in mine. Big sky country meant nothing to me before - but we drive into Yellowstone with my eyes wider and my heart bursting and I get it.

We kicked Glacier National Park's butt - these two total novice hikers decked out in all the very best gear did most of the Grinnel Glacier Hike Tuesday (before very responsibly turning back before the point of pain) and a good lot of the High Line Wednesday. We've seen big horn sheep and a lounging moose close up, mountain goats and a grizzly mom and cub from far, far away, and kayaked around the lake in front of Many Glacier Lodge where we stayed.


I've made it to three great yarn shops now - Knit and Nosh in Helena, and Yarn Shop and Fiber Place and Stix in Bozeman. Bought me some Alchemy mohair laceweight that will remind me of the amber waves of grain we've seen for miles and miles, two ounces each of local Montana Lincoln wool to spin - some natural gray, some dyed barely processed salmon-y pink stuff, and two balls of Simply Shetland silk lambswool laceweight - mmmmmmm. Stix is, hands down, the most beautiful shop I've ever seen, and let me tell you, these Montana shops are BIG - one owner said of course - they have long, cold winters here! I've barely knit, even though yarn was the first thing I packed - there's just too much to see and do. This was on the Empire Builder train - the first part of the adventure in our sleeper car:


In a word - Glacier National Park is a serious Bucket List item I didn't realize I had on mine, and I'm damned glad to make a check mark there, We'll go back, and I'll have more to say.

September 24, 2009

Epic Adventure, Part I

Captain America started planning this trip to celebrate our tenth anniversary well over a year in advance, which started with an idea of a motorcycle trip out West that's been perking for many years. Given that neither of us owns a motorcycle, and that though the thought of driving or riding on one is thrilling to me I'm not interested in dying young, I killed that after a year or two of incessant motorcycle talk. Then CA started looking at canned Amtrak tours - which, his travel agent sister-in-law informed him were a lot like Denny's - the food looks really tasty in the photos on the menu but tastes pretty bland at best on the table.

He then embarked on the perfect project for his soon-to-be unemployed self - he planned it all on his own, researching and calling and booking National Park lodges at precisely the right moment 364 days ahead. He also talked about it non-stop and ordered lots and lots of hiking gear since we don't hike - or didn't, but that's getting ahead of myself.

I admit - I spent most of the past year with my fingers in my ears going "la la la I can't hear you," both because he wouldn't shut up and because I was just going along with his dream trip - I didn't have that mountains dream in me. Had I planned it, we'd have gone to Costa Rica to go fishing and get deeply tanned. I would NEVER have planned a trip to the Rockies - wasn't on my list. Silly me.

Packing was fun - we had to consider a wide range of temperatures and conditions, and by the time I had all my stuff out for review, I realized it was everything CA has been buying me over the 12 years we've been together - Gramicci climbing pants, great tie-dyes from REI - I was being prepared and neither of us knew it consciously. I passed his packing inspection handily. Of course yarn was the first priority, and as I imagined I'd have ample knitting time over the two weeks, I planned my small Christmas present project and packed a lot of yarn, thinking I would make neat little tags with the cities the presents were finished in. Hah.

I never ever go away for a full two weeks - ever. Getting ready for that, at home and during the most hellish 60 days in recent memory at work, was challenging and stressful. I'm a serious slave to my routine, and that works for me - two weeks of complete unknown was just a tad anxiety-producing. I managed.

My single contribution to the planning was a reservation at Frontera Grill in Chicago on our first night of the trip. We stayed at the Fairmont Millenium, right next door to the Art Institute and walked to Frontera. It was perfecto - CA had a tamale appetizer that he said was just like his neighbor Mrs. Rodriguez used to make in Dallas - go figure. He's a picky eater and I'm not - and I think he enjoyed his meal more than I did. Score!


Saturday we boarded the Empire Builder train after a quick stop at the Art Institute, which I don't think I've ever been to and which blew me (us) away. I visit museums differently since I've worked at one for the last nine years, and it was amazing. No time to hit Loopy - drag, but I had many more LYSs on my list.


The modern sleeper cars on Amtrak bear little resemblance to the ones in North by Northwest, but did provide reasonable accomodations for about 30 hours as we left Chicago and went through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and into Montana - in fact, right up to East Glacier Lodge, our first night's pit stop. All but Illinois are states I've never been to before - many tacks for my map. We had a submarine shower and bunk beds - Amtrak could work a little on the thin cloth they call a mattress - a thin NASA foam one would go a long way.


We got in four meals on the ride, which meant we ate with four different couples. We're not the most social couple but we held our own and had fun meeting all of them (even the woman who was so drunk she excused herself halfway through the meal).

From the train we saw:
Proghorn antelope
Astonishingly happy and rich fields of sunflowers blooming
Amber waves of grain - lots and lots and lots of it
Many cows with their frolicking, kicking, happy calves
A gigantic wind farm - I find these beautiful

And, just like Captain America said, those mountains I had never seen, appearing first like clouds far, far away, and then growing and growing and looming and holy cow we're in the MOUNTAINS.

We stepped off the train and threw our bags on top of this:


While we walked across this path to the lodge:


Part II coming soon.

About The Universe Talking

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Dawn's Dream in the The Universe Talking category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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