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Monday, December 16, 2013

Tis the Season

Santa Phil
Amazing that it is December 16th........2013!
This year... and the past 40 have whizzed by.

Turn back the clock to the '60's and I was the kid who couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve because of the excitement of the next day. I would do just about anything to prove to Santa that I should be on the "Nice" list and deserved special attention for my clean room and good behavior. I remember jumping into the family station wagon every year and driving around the neighborhood to admire the festive Christmas lights and decorations. As we got older, we ditched the station wagon and headed out on foot -caroling and collecting money for the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. We caroled and collected so much that our school won the Farkelberry Award for most money collected!

My mom would make me Festive Christmas skirts of red felt, holiday cutouts, beads, sequins and anything else you jam on a piece of felt---they were works of art and the envy of many little girls at Boyd Elementary School.  When I outgrew the skirts (which was only twice), they were re-purposed as Christmas tree skirts.

I fondly remember our Christmas trees...red and gold ornaments and hundreds of white paper stars that my mom made by cutting, weaving and folding notebook paper. The ornaments never changed or altered. Our trees were probably no larger than 6' tall, but to me they were gigantic, magical and PERFECT.

My mom was quite the homemaker (that's what mom's were called back then). She knit all of our Christmas stockings (there were 2 of us). (Perhaps that's where my love of Christmas stockings started). Each year, the stockings would contain the following staples:  Scotch tape, toothpaste and underpants, as well as a few treats.

I remember decorating (overdecorating) Christmas Sugar Cookies and getting our annual Fruitcake from Dr. H. These items were left on a plate for Santa along with a glass of Scotch, Santa might need a little pick me up.

In the morning, we were allowed to dump out the contents of our Christmas stockings. There were few surprises---tape, Crest, underpants--but it was still thrilling!

We had to wait until everyone woke up before the all important present opening. It never failed that my father would come down with a cold, stomach ailment or the Hong Kong flu on Christmas Eve and require extra rest on Christmas morning.

The present opening took all of about 5 minutes, but it was the most exciting 5 minutes of the year! We had the rest of the day to enjoy our gifts and look through the big basket of Christmas cards-reading each update- and then it was off to my Mom's Friend, Helen's house for Christmas Dinner.

Over the years, the traditions would alter but overdecorating Sugar Cookies, tape, toothpaste and underpants remain. I have the memories of Christmasses past to fill in the voids.

The magic of Christmas still exists, but over the years, I have come to embrace the "Reason for the Season" more than the trees, lights, stockings, gifts and baking. I am more of a quiet observer than an active participant.

In the past few years, the "Magic of Christmas" moment, the moment when you let yourself enjoy "This Most Wonderful Time of Year" comes when I walk through Mary Schmidt's front door! Her husband, Jim "Santaman" Schmidt, LOVES Santa Claus and has been collecting them and carving them out of wood for years.  His Santa collection gets put on display every December and the Schmidts are kind enough to allow Knitwits to tour their Santa packed home.

The display is AMAZING--words alone cannot describe the experience. It is a major undertaking for Jim, months of unpacking, lighting, wiring, hanging,.....followed by months of packing, unwiring...
Santaman has hinted that this will be the last year for the full-out display.

This photo is of ONE CORNER of ONE ROOM- the whole house is filled!


This year, the Santa Tour is this Sunday, December 22nd.
RSVP at the shop--you won't want to miss this opportunity.
Bring family (young and old) to the shop, enjoy Hot Cocoa and Cookies and we'll take you over to Santaland and bring you back.





Monday, October 21, 2013

The Knitwits Connection

This weekend, Janet and I were talking about Knitwits and what we do best--we're really good at hanging out and connecting with our customers.  "Knitwits-Where Friends Are Made". We have lots of friends and customers dropping by to knit and talk. Old friends met new friends, knitters helped fellow knitters and patterns like Turkish Bed Socks quickly become the project of the week.  The "Hanging Out with Friends Factor" is a key ingredient in what makes Knitwits work!


I went home yesterday (Sunday), turned on the TV, cleared off the UFOs from the couch and laid down for a little nap--still feeling a little punk from my cold. I woke up a little later and Bill Moyers & Company was on the TV. This is not a program that I usually watch but I was groggy and I couldn't find the remote amongst the UFO pile.

Bill's guest was Clinical Psychologist, Sherry Turkle, and the topic was the effect of technology on social behavior. As eyes opened and my brain woke up, I became engrossed in the discussion!



BILL MOYERS: If you’ve ever lost your smartphone, as I have, you know it can feel like a death. The experience highlights just how our world has been engulfed by social media and how our technology has become a vital organ of our being.

And it's happened so fast. Facebook is not quite 10 years old, Twitter is younger still. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg told a reporter that in 2016 -- just three years from now -- “people are going to be sharing eight to ten times as much stuff.”

Like anything hurtling us forward at breakneck speed, the advancements are great, and so are the dangers. For every Arab Spring or political movement using social media to foment change, there may also be campaigns of abuse and hate. For every Wikileak and revealed secret, there’s the encroachment on personal privacy by the NSA. For every new friend meeting through cyberspace, there’s the risk of estrangement from the real world.

Our devices change not only what we do but also who we are. So I’ve come to Sherry Turkle to try to explain how and why. She’s a clinical psychologist who was one of the first to study the impact of computers on culture and society.

SHERRY TURKLE: Well, I call it "alone together." That we're moving to a space where we feel free to respond to the three promises that technology now makes us, that we can always be heard, that we can be wherever we want to be, and that we never have to be alone.
And that third promise actually is terribly important because I believe that the capacity for solitude is terribly important to develop. I even believe that if you don't teach your children to be alone, they'll only know how to be lonely. And by not developing this capacity for solitude, we're not doing our children a favor.

“What concerns me as a developmental psychologist is watching children grow in this new world where being bored is something that never has to be tolerated for a moment.”

“Everyone is always having their attention divided between the world of people [they're] with and this ‘other’ reality [on-line relationships].”

I hope you watch the interview or read the transcript.

I think the most shocking concept discussed was that people feel more connected than ever with Facebook, "Likes", YouTube, Twitter and so on, but many of them have never looked up from their computer or mobile device. Many have never left the comfort of their home. They never really operate, feel, smell or taste the real deal--they never have a real face-to-face, real-time conversation with their "Friends" and "Followers".

I'm very guilty of being suffering from separation anxiety when I stray too far from my iPhone or computer. My anxiety level rises as my battery life drains. I'm a slave to the rings, dings and pings of my iPhone--often dropping the task at hand to see what notification has just been received.

Yesterday, a mother and her nine year old daughter came in for a Beginning Knitting lesson with Janet. Both were so excited to learn to knit and Janet was thrilled to teach them. There were no electronic devices, no phone interruptions, no multitasking....just knitting and conversation. As the Mom was checking out, the daughter went out on the porch.... and knit a few more rows.

For a Knitwit, there is no such thing as boredom as long as there's yarn and Ravelry.
Lonely moments are few and far between, unless its Monday and the shop is closed. A phone call or text to a Knitwits can usually remedy the problem.
If there's time to sit...there's time to knit.

Connect with us at Knitwits!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The UFO Mothership

Some nights were made for knitting and last night was one of them.
It was Sunday night.. the shop closed at 4:00, I bailed on dinner plans, John was in RDU, there was nothing good on TV (unless you like Football) and I could stay up as late as I wanted.

I was a knitting machine and I had my little Barn Wood Yarn Buddy keeping me company.

I keep my current UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in a laundry basket in a prominent place in my living room. It is full of possibility and good intention but it sits there taunting me. Last night, I figured that I'd visit the "UFO Mothership" and line up the UFO's that needed really some attention and just plunge in.

I started with the first Christmas Stocking of Christmas Stocking Season. I had started it a few weeks ago and tried to knit the heel in traditional sock fashion instead of following the pattern. I ripped out the heel and knit it flat as directed. An hour later, Viola--I was binding off the toe! That was easy.


Next up was a sweater called Aidez that I started knitting at the shop earlier in the day. The sweater is a slightly fitted cardigan that is cozy, cabled and knit in Chunky Yarn AND a possible KAL. I was researching a Cabled Pullover in Chunky weight yarn for a customer when I stumbled across this pattern--it's nothing like what I was looking for but it is the perfect cozy, comfy, weekend, throw-on cardigan that I could wear as a jacket since I don't like coats. More importantly, it has all of the makings for a good KAL- multiple sizing, plenty of yarn options, engaging and slightly challenging.

I started knitting the swatch (which was also the Left Front Panel if all was on track) at the shop and I had finished the 3" of ribbing ready to start the Aran patterning. Let the fun begin!

I did three pattern repeats and decided to measure my swatch. When I looked at the sweater schematic, the measurements for my size said 9" across the bottom. My "swatch" read 7" unstretched. Better do a little mini blocking to get a better measurement. I drench the bottom of my "swatch-igan" into a little Soak solution and do a little wet blocking. I pin my knitting to a blocking board and hope for the best.

While "Swatch-igan" is drying, I went back to Christmas Stocking #1. I have a hot mess of hundreds of yarn ends and seaming to do. Since I taught "Seams Like Fun" the day before, I tackle the seaming first. Perfection on the first stab--I taught myself well. Since I'm on a roll, I knock out the weaving in of yarn ends in record time. It's not a FO yet, but I've made some serious progress.

It was time for some Junko indulgence knitting. I started a Purl Bee Sweater Shawl last week after seeing our friend Mary's. Not a sweater and not a shawl, this Half Sweater has fake sleeves, a back and the most fabulous collar to keep you toasty warm without the bulk of a full sweater. This is the garment I want to wear over my pajamas when I have a knitting night.



You start with the back panel and 4" of ribbing. Next comes 10" of an easy brioche pattern. The brioche pattern is an easily memorized 4 row repeat, but it's slow going. I got 3" knit when the redundancy started to get to me.  Back to the "UFO Mothership".

Next up, this week's Scarf-A-Long sample. Of course, this is the UFO with the most pressing deadline--Wednesday night. Elizabeth started the project last week after I frogged Plan A. Plan A was an "A-Long" of my own design that spiraled and curved---it looked much better in my head. I'm not going to blab the details of this week's project, but its easy, beautiful in it's simplicity and yarn choice and quick to knit. I knit until I got sleepy.



Wow, I knit from head to toe last night and really enjoyed my visit to the UFO Mothership!

Signing off to get back to knitting.
Feel free to e-mail me at the UFOMothership,  ufojunko@gmail.com.




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Knitwits "Where Friends Are Made"


Besties, according to the Urban Dictionary, are friends who have each others' backs, look out for each other, spend lots of time together, and are just really good friends.

Selfies, according to the Urban Dictionary, are pictures taken of oneself while holding the camera at arms length.

Janet and I are Besties who try to take Selfies.
While we like to think that we're Urban Dictionary material, we aren't--we're not 14-21 years old.
Whatever!
Unsuccessful Selfy

I met Janet soon after Knitwits opened 10 years ago and we've been friends ever since. We've been through thick (real thick) and thin (real thin), happiness, extreme sadness, sickness, health, richer and poorer.  In fact, I think we've been through every imaginable emotional state (and hairstyle) together.

Our Knitwits tag line is "Where Friends are Made"--and it's so true.
One of the best things about Knitwits is that all who enter, regardless of knitting skill, becomes part of our friendship circle. It is the true magic of Knitwits.

Friendship is a priceless gift and a major perk of being a Knitwit.
Our lives are touched each and every day by the random acts of kindness, sharing and caring that takes place within our walls. I can think of no other place where husbands are dispatched to fix plumbing issues, complimentary carpet cleaning happens just because, pots of Jambalaya or other meals and snacks are hand delivered and tears of joy and sorrow are shared so freely.
If we sold laughs, hugs and friendships, we'd be golden.



Every now and again,  Life gets crazy or "the business end of things" makes you forget that you have a Bestie.  Besties aren't perfect and neither is Life. A phone call, a hug or someone finishing your sentence is all that's needed to snap you back into place.

Janet, myself and the whole Knitwits gang are extremely proud of Knitwits --while we'll keep plugging away at Life and the business end of things, it is the Knitwits Circle of Friendship the we are most proud of!  Knitwits--Where Friends are Made.

Maude's Selfy
Someone wasn't Ready Selfy








Tuesday, October 1, 2013

iPanic


After piddling around at the shop for most of the afternoon, I finally get myself in gear to make a run to the bank and post office. It's 5:35PM and I have the deposits slips ready for the bank and I have our mail order packages wrapped, packed, sealed and labeled. After rummage around for my cars keys and my new iPhone 5C (I forgot my purse at home, so that's one less thing I have to find)---I'm in my car and on my way at 5:45--plenty of time--the bank closes at 6:00, the Post Office closed at 5:00 but the lobby is open 24/7.

I space out and miss the quick turn for the bank, no problem, I'll stop after I go to the post office. I run into the post office lobby since I've missed the last drop-off box pick up. I dump the flat packages in the mail slot and put the big boxes in the parcel "drum" depository. I move with grace and utmost efficiency--I'm back in my car and on my way to the bank in record time.

There's no line at the bank when I get there--but I'm feeling a little guilty because I have a handful of deposits to make and I know the girls want to get out of there in just a few minutes. The tellers are pleasant as usual and we chitchat and catch up while I'm waiting for the deposit slip receipts. I'm back in my car and the time is........whoa-where's my new phone?

I go back into the bank and I have the girls call my phone number..........silence.

No panic yet but I feel it building up quickly.
I return to the shop--Janet is on the shop phone (panic) and I tell her that I'm having a mini-emergency and I NEED the phone. She's in the middle of a high finance transaction-10 skeins of Cascade Pluscious-to be mailed (of course). She hands me her iPhone and I call the non-emergency number for the police.

The kind and calm dispatcher listens to my dilemma and gives me 2 phone numbers, one for the post office and one for the Lakeside Park Police. I call the Post Office number and after two rings, I hear an angel say "Hello, Dixie Branch, Covington Post Office."

Dixie Branch? Covington? I'm trying to reach the Post Office on Buttermilk Pike in Crescent Springs!

She confirms that I have the right post office and she listens to my sad saga. She tells me to hold while she looks for my cherished phone. I hear clanging and banging in the background, I hear her footsteps coming closer to the phone and then I hear, "Is it a new white iPhone 5C?"


Phew!
Janet finishes her high finance transaction and drives me to retrieve my phone.

Business as usual at Knitwits!



Related Links:
http://www.wikihow.com/Find-a-Lost-iPhone

What To Do If Your iDevice Is Lost Or Stolen

If your iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch, or iPad is lost or stolen what do you do? There are things you should do in advance - before you lose it or it's stolen - and some things to do after the fact. Here are some suggestions:

  3. AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon can block stolen phones/tablets

It pays to be proactive by following the advice on using Find My Phone before you lose your device:


What to do if your iOS device is lost or stolen

 









Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's on the Needles and Score Keeping

I often write about the millions of the projects that I have going on at one time and I'm not joking around. It seems that my WIP's (Works in Progress) get worked on based on the following criteria:
  1. Window of Fun--The fun of the project and the loveliness the yarn is greatest at the beginning. The "window of fun" gets smaller and smaller as time goes on. Must knit fast if going to finish before the Window of Fun closes. Measured on a 1-10 scale with 10 being highest fun factor.
  2. Pressure Meter to Meet Deadline--how long can I put off an obligation before it bits me in the back. Measured on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being no pressure and 1= Final Deadline
  3. Handiness of Materials--do I have all of the necessary tools or materials to work on the WIP
Here's what I'm talking about.
TUCKED PULLOVER
I'm working on Tucked Pullover from knitwear Fall/Winter 2013. This is a bottom up pullover with textured yoke knit in Elsebeth LaVold Silky Wool. Joanie and Miss Mary commented on the sweater when they were perusing the magazine, so I thought I would give it a test drive the pattern since we have a decent supply of Silky Wool. 
Window of Fun:  10
Pressure Meter:  10, no deadline
SCORE: 20 out of 20

Yarn, check...#4 circs, check, pattern, check. Cast on and knit.  One evening and 7" into the deal and one ball of Silky Wool later, I realize that I read the pattern wrong and did k1p1 rib instead of k1 round, p1 round. ooops--will it really matter?
Window of Fun down to 8.

Ball #2
Go to knit Tucked Pullover, can't find pattern.
Window of Fun down to 7.

Finished second ball last night. Must remember to wind and take home new skein.
14" of knitting in the round with shaping every inch or so---lots of mindless knitting.
Getting close to "The Great Divide", where front and back are worked separately--my motivation.
Window of Fun still at 7.
SCORE: 17 out of 20

ENTRELAC ROCKS
I knit an Entrelac iPad Cover in Noro Silk Garden for a shop sample and possible class. The class is a go but the iPad cover is too little to fit iPad--makes a cute purse though.
Must prepare for class and re-knit entrelac "swatch" in two colors of basic yarn for demonstration purposes.
Window of Fun: 7--working with Noro Silk Garden was a 10.
Pressure Meter: 8, I have a few weeks before the class is scheduled
SCORE: 15 out of 20

SINGULAR SOCK
In the beginning of the summer, a customer asked if someone would knit the mate to a sock. Jill mangled her hand and was out of commission and I'm the singular sock knitter---so I cast on and knit to the middle of the instep. The patterning was matching perfectly, but I was knitting a little tighter than the original. The sock was put aside until I figured out how to remedy situation.
Window of Fun: Dropped for 10 to 5 quickly
Pressure Meter: 5
SCORE: 10 out of 20

Fast forward 3 months, the sock still in instep mode and phone call from customer about status of sock. Told her situation and she says finish it as is and we'll make it work. One evening should finish up knitting the toe and doing the kitchener, another evening for weaving in the ends and blocking.
Window of Fun: 3
Pressure Meter: 2
SCORE: 5 out of 5

I can continue with the million of other projects that tease me.. but I'll spare you.

Bottom line: the higher the score, the more likely I am to work on that project. The lower the score, the higher the priority.


Yikes---its almost October and Christmas Stocking Knitting needs to get cranked up. Xmas Stockings start at a Window of Fun of 3. And we know what the deadline is........

Friday, September 27, 2013

iLove





Captain John suffers from iLove.


He LOVES everything Apple.
He says, "The products work the way they're supposed to work."
He loves the entire Apple product line, the simplicity of the product designs, the ease of product use, and the Art of the new product releases. He was one of the many who waited in line last Friday for the release of the new iPhone 5S.

I love my Apple products, but I have my limits-- there will be no waiting in line at the Apple store for me and there is no immediacy to upgrade to the latest models and I'm usually two-three software updates behind.  When Captain John suggested that I trade in my trusty iPhone 4S for something worthy of waiting in line for, I grumbled, "What's that going to cost me?"

Well, we got into his "new" car, a vintage 1978 Honda Civic CVCC, and ambled out to the Apple Store at Kenwood Mall--reaching max speed of 63 mph.  (The car situation is a whole 'nuther story.)

I got the new iPhone 5C, the cheaper model that required no waiting in line. The very next day, John sold my old iPhone on eBay in 20 minutes and for much more than we paid for the new phone.

I do love the new iPhone but there is some getting used to. Remember when TVs went to the wide-screen HD format and the remote control could do things that you never knew you needed to do? Well, the new iPhone is like that. The screen is much larger, it is lightning fast and it is capable of so much more than I am.  I do love the extra $ that's burning a hole in my pocket--I'll probably end up spending it on iPhone 5C accessories since all of my old cases, cords and adapters are now obsolete.

I love that John loves Apple products and old Hondas (he has three with a combined age that is close to our combined age). John loves that I love knitting and have more projects going on than the combined age of his Hondas.

Moral of this story:
Enjoy what you love and share the love with others!

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
That word is love.

-Sophocles