Thursday, August 27, 2009

Give me back my tiara

Okay...weird title for a post. I have never felt like a princess or a diva or anything like that. I'm pretty well grounded and down-to-earth, realistic, etc.

However, I am also one who considers 'roughing it' a room that doesn't offer room service. You will never catch me camping. Uh-uh. Never gonna happen. I need an inside shower with plenty of fluffy towels, inside plumbing that works, and a comfortable mattress on a box spring in a room that has a good HVAC. And cable TV. Preferably with HBO.

About 6 years ago I discovered I could hire a service to clean the parts of my house I hate to do and tend to neglect, like floors, toilets, sinks, and bathtubs. For $75/month someone comes in twice a month and does all that stuff including getting cobwebs out of the corners and the dust bunnies off the ceiling fans.

And when we bought this house, we suddenly had lawn to deal with. For another $75/month a non-English speaking guy comes over and keeps the lawn looking really nice. It's always mowed, edged, the flower beds are clean and tidy, branches aren't dropping on to the walkways, etc.

Then the economy hit the toilet. When Ray got his pay cut in December, we had to re-evaluate how we were spending and decided where we were going to cut expenses to be able to continue to live with his pay being reduced. Both the gardener and the housekeeping service were eliminated, along with premium TV channels (goodbye HBO...) and a few other non-necessities. We each had to start cleaning our own bathroom and get better about keeping things tidy.

And we bought a lawn mower and edger as soon as spring time came and the lawn was no longer dormant. After much research, we determined we wanted electric, primarily because they're better on the environment. We looked into the rechargable ones and the reviews were not good, so we bought an electric mower and edger and some really long extension cords. There is only one outside plug and it's on the deck, nowhere near any of the grass.

Ray's first time using the edger resulted in one of the sprinklers being totally shredded. So the edger only got used once. Before he left to work in SoCal, I asked him to be sure he mowed the lawn and cleaned it all up so I wouldn't have to do it. I was hoping the lawn would realize its caretaker wasn't here and go dormant...but the damn stuff kept growing. So I mowed the grass in the back yard yesterday. It really wasn't difficult, once I got hundreds of yards of extension cords untangled (he hadn't used the cord tender I'd purchased). But it was honestly no fun. The front yard has to wait until it's not so hot.

And I guess I am more comfortable in the proverbial tiara than I am behind a mower. I need a gardener again!

And yes, you may offer me some cheese to go with my w(h)ine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Phil Vassar

As soon as I knew I was going to exhibit at Sock Summit, I immediately went to Phil Vassar's tour schedule on his website to see if maybe, just maybe, I'd get lucky enough to have him performing in concert while we were there. I was so excited that he was performing at the Tillamook County Fair on the 5th. So after the pre-summit yarn tasting luncheon, we drove to Tillamook, about an hour and 15 minutes from Portland, and we went first to the cheese factory and viewed the visitor's center, tasted some cheese, had lunch, and took this goofy picture of us as the parts of a cow...

Then we headed to the fairgrounds. Jillian and Noah were aching for funnel cakes (which I've never tasted...what am I missing?). They both know Phil's music, but have never seen him in person. We had a blast.

Sock Summit - FINAL DAY

The last day of Sock Summit was Sunday, August 9. The Marketplace was only open until 1:30 so it was a short day. But it was rather busy! Last minute shoppers flocked in with the lists they'd made but hadn't yet filled, kind of like what I do on Christmas Eve ;-)

A young lady by the name of Katie came in and struck up a conversation with Jillian, and I was only sort of listening. After an exchange that sounded possibly heated but probably in fun, this girl turned to me as if to say something, stopped, and turned to Jillian and said "I can't yell at her! She's mom!" Turned out she'd come for Witch's Brew, but I'd sold out. I offered to ship it to her at my expense since I'd run out and she agreed. I just chatted with her on Ravelry a couple of days ago and she saw the companion to Witch's Brew I just dyed, called Tricky Treat, and she decided she wanted it instead. So it's off on its merry way to make her a happy Halloween.

Anyway, Sunday turned into a helluva lot of fun. Here's the story. And I don't think there is any way to make it short but I'll try.

My car, with my gps unit, was at the shop. I have no sense of direction, nor does Jillian, so the fact that we'd driven to the Convention Center 3 days in a row was irrelevant when it came to the realization that we had to get there without the aid of Garmin. Linus printed us a MapQuest instruction guide and handed us the keys to his SUV and off we went.

This would have been fine, had the freeway not have closed. There was only one detour sign telling us anything, and that was just to go this way (405) because the freeway we really wanted (I-5) was closed. This was obviously veering us in the wrong direction, so we exited the freeway. We asked a nice lady who was getting out of her car with her husband and kids preparing for this special bike ride across all of the effing bridges in Portland event, and all she said was "you need to be on the other side of the river but you can't get on that side today because they're all closed." And she cheerfully scampered away. She's lucky Jillian didn't get out of the car and kick her in the you-know-what.

So we parked, Jillian called the non-emergency Portland police line, and got a nice dispatcher who gave her turn by turn directions to get to the Convention Center. Score 1 for Portland's Finest. We got there, without having breakfast, but at least we got there.

1:30 came pretty quickly and when they say the Marketplace is closed they mean it. By 1:31 people from the exhibit trade show company were hauling down the aisles taking our chairs and wastebaskets. We broke down the booth and packed it up into the SUV by 2:45. What took us all day to set up on Thursday took us a whole hour and 15 minutes to pack up. Of course there wasn't as much to pack, but damn that was efficient!

We pull out of the Convention Center, bidding Sock Summit 2009 a fond farewell, with a minor snafu. We know how to get back to our hosts' home once we get on the freeway, but we don't know how to get to the freeway in the first place. Jillian can't find the paper with the directions that got us there, we don't know if I-5 is still closed even if we could figure out how to get to it.

And then the lack of sleep, the sheer exhaustion, the extreme hunger because we haven't eaten yet today, combine with the fact that neither of us has a sense of direction...and the laughing begins. Jillian makes this statement that we're two grown women who can't find our way out of a paper sack and that did it. I had to pull over because I was laughing so hard I couldn't see. I get control (sort of) and drive a couple of blocks and spot a police car. He's looking for someone to do something stupid so he can issue a ticket, and I'm sure we appeared a bit too happy. Instead of him pulling us over, we pulled him over. I walked to his car to make it obvious I was not intoxicated, explained the situation, and he gave me verbal directions. I think he saw my eyes glaze over and so he offered to lead us to the freeway. And he did. Two points for Portland's Finest.

We got on the road, had a really late lunch at Applebee's, and went to Corliss' and Linus' house to rest before a wonderful dinner.

And Sock Summit 2009 is officially over. What an experience. What fun, what a tremendous amount of work. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I hear I have to wait 2 years and get a passport because rumor has it the next one is in Toronto in 2011. Lots of shows between now and then!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sock Summit - day THREE

Day three was Saturday, August 8. This day proved to be most interesting in a way that had absolutely nothing to do with the show. We got to the convention center about 30 minutes early, planning to restock and maybe rearrange a little, and when we parked the key wouldn't come out of the ignition. AAA sent a locksmith who managed to get the key out, but advised me not to start the car until I was driving it to a dealership for repair because he didn't think I'd get it out of the ignition again. I had no luck calling local Ford dealerships because none would take the car that day, so Linus came and left his SUV and took my car to the closest dealership...that wasn't really close...but the only one he could find that would take the car on a Saturday. The call with the results didn't come until about 5:30 and there, of course, was good news and bad news. The good news? They could fix it and it was covered under the warranty. The bad news? They couldn't get the part until Tuesday. So guess what? We get to stay an extra couple of days which means we get to go look at scenery and waterfalls!!!! Not a bad thing.

Anyway, at the show Saturday was really quiet - almost eerily so. It actually was kind of nice though, because I was able to take the time to help a couple of ladies who saw me knitting 2 at a time toe-up and were very curious how to go about knitting socks in this way. I was able to show them in detail how to work across the rows and turn, and explain that while it "seems" faster, it really isn't. You're still knitting the same number of rows and stitches to get a pair of socks, but it feels faster because when you finish you're done. There isn't another sock still waiting to be knit. The other things I like about knitting socks in this fashion is that I tend to modify on the fly and I don't have to take notes to remember what I did to make sure I make the modification on the other sock, and if I misread the pattern and goof, I will goof on both socks in the same they match!

Nothing eventful this day whatsoever, other than the car. We had a great time and because there weren't as many shoppers in the Marketplace we were able to visit a whole lot more with the folks that were there. I wondered if maybe the people who had classes all weekend were just burnt out this day too and didn't want any part of shopping. I know if I was taking classes that whole time my eyes would have been glazed over pretty well by Saturday.

I did walk through the sock museum and these two are my favorites. Arrr-gyle and these adorable anklets called Almost Saintly...I guess because they are hole-y. I wold wear those in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sock Summit - day TWO

It occurred to me that one of the most exciting things we did while in Oregon was see my favorite singer, Phil Vassar, in Tillamook. That happened Wednesday after the luncheon. But I'll save the details on that for later, after I get through all the days of Sock Summit!

Day two was Friday, August 7. Marketplace opened at 8 and closed at 6. We got there right on time, totally ready to go. Visitors to say hello today included Janet, who I met on Ravelry and one of my best customers! She came to the booth 'specially to say hello and bought some of her favorite flavors while she could pick them up and take them home and not pay shipping! Look at those colorful bags she's holding. Her yarn stash must be totally awesome.

Noah worked on homework (honors English - he had to read two books and have very specific notes for the first day of school), and helped us in the booth too. Lots of people who other than their natural hair color came in and we really enjoyed the color! I'd done mine Berrylicious, Jillian's had fuchsia in it, and we saw blue, purple, pink, and teal. As well as combinations of all.

I didn't realize I had no pictures on my camera of all of the funky hair...those photos must have been taken by our visitors. Oh well. One of the most colorful things we saw was this young lady's stockings. Hand knot thigh-highs in this wonderful color. She looked adorable, and I admire the length of time it must have taken her to get those knit.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sock Summit - day ONE

The official first day of Sock Summit was Thursday, August 6. The marketplace was only open to students for 2 hours in the late afternoon, so we had all day to set up. Silly me, I thought it would be like a 2-hour job. I put on jeans and my favorite t-shirt, foolishly thinking we'd have time to go back to the house and change into cuter clothes before the Marketplace preview. Oops. Anyway, we left Corliss' and Linus' house in Tualatin and drove the 12 miles to the Convention Center. Corliss followed in their SUV toting all of the boxes I had shipped to them in advance. We unloaded in pretty quick time, considering we'd never done this before, and got to the booth and it was like...YIKES!! I screwed up. I ordered a counter instead of a table, so it was really high. The convention center was going to charge me full price for a table and only refund half of the price of the counter, so I said screw it and we'll make the counter work! And we did.

Noah quickly got busy with the hammer putting the grids together. Jillian and Noah worked on them together for awhile, but Jillian was anxious to see and touch yarn. She's been hearing about this for months, but hadn't actually seen anything. So she got the task of hanging display socks while Noah and I worked on the grids for awhile.

Next, it was time to put some yarn into the grids (what a concept!). Jillian has a great eye for color and really wanted to do the layout, and I have no problem whatsoever relinquishing responsibility and delegating :-) So I went on a Starbucks run while they worked. I ran into people I'd seen and spoken with on Ravelry in the really long line, so it was good conversation!

The final booth arrangement. Not much room! There was a line in the first Jaws movie in which Richard Dreyfuss kept saying "We need a bigger boat..." well, "we needed a bigger booth." I thought if things didn't "move" I'd rearrange as the weekend went on, but the only thing that changed was figuring out how to display the Kiddie Scoops (mini skeins for those who are not familiar with my line). Bev, who test knit Paw Tracks for me, stopped by. As did Cara. And Sheila. And I don't even remember who else. There was this loud cheer from the Marketplace (inside) when the announcement was made that the doors were about to be opened for the masses to enter. And there was an even louder cheer from the Marketplace (outside) when the doors opened. Jillian and Noah both just looked stunned. Really??? All this excitement??? Over socks??? Oh yeah...over socks.

The booth, right before the marketplace opened, Sandy and I, boothmates, and Bev Latham and I showing off her pretty knitting.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Secret Pal Swap

So the SP14 swap is rather interesting. I thought I'd figured it out (who my partner was) but the person who I thought it was brought me something hand-delivered at Sock Summit. Unless I am right and she was wearing someone else's name badge. Which is what I'd do.'s more fun if I don't really figure it out anyway!

Sending my partner's August package today, just finishing packing it up. I wish I could take a picture to show but I don't want to give away the surprise.

So in the meantime, here is my friend Corliss and I at one of the waterfalls on Monday, and Jillian and Noah just goofing around as any good mother and son would do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sock Summit - pre-summit luncheon

Wednesday, August 5, 40 lucky people were guests at Gino's Restaurant in Portland for the pre-summit yarn tasting luncheon. 5 dyers, myself included, were asked to provide free yarn for all of the attendees, which gave us all a great opportunity to network and strut our beautiful yarns. A different dyer and her yarn was presented with each of the 5 (can we say full??) courses. Mine, of course, was dessert. It was awesome. Here are some photos. On the left, the front of the restaurant. It is a charming little restaurant in downtown Portland. On the right, one of the many wall paintings that adorn the interior. The face in the middle of the woman with the brown hair and glasses was our host, whose family owns the restaurant. It is quite unique in that the produce is local and much of it organic, with eggs coming in from her farm!

We were surprised by Chrissy Gardiner giving us all a copy of her new book, a collection of wonderful socks knitted from the toe up.

I've already started a pair of baby socks using the star toe, something I've never done before, and I'm ecstatic to have this new book! I'm even more excited that she talked with me about being part of her next project, featuring 25 indie dyers!

And finally, when it was time for dessert, I got to get up there and introduce my yarn. I chose to give away a variety of flavors, as opposed to one flavor to all attendees. I kind of blanked out standing up there...most of what I thought I'd say got lost in my head. But the attendees seemed to be quite receptive, and I loved seeing them trade out some of their yarn if they preferred another flavor. Jillian and Noah attended too...what a handsome pair they are!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On the road!!

On the road to Sock Summit!! Jillian and Noah will be at the airport about 11 and then we're on our way. YAY!!! Chanel really wants to come. She's never even been in a carrier, so when I dropped her off this morning and had to put her in a cage I cried. She cowered down with her ears all flat and just looked totally confused and had no clue why she couldn't stay with me. omg here come the tears again. Time to turn off the computer and get going.

If you're going to be at SS PLEASE be sure to stop by booth 1115 and say hello!!!