Friday, December 31, 2010

Notes to Self

On Christmas morning, Janet, Sarah and I gathered around Janet's living room and Janet began the Holiday festivity with ye ole, "Hey, I had a really great idea last night! Wanna hear it?"

I have learned over the years that this could spell trouble or be a stroke of shear brilliance. This time brilliance prevailed.

Janet's idea was for each of us to write a note to ourselves, to jot down our thoughts, wishes and goals for the upcoming New Year and seal them in an envelope until next Christmas, when we will read our notes aloud. We decided to place our notes inside the "Memory Table" in Janet's living room so no one would be responsible for losing them.

I have not yet written "My Note to Self" and I'm pretty sure that Janet and Sarah are noteless too. But, I have been formulating my Note in my head. So, here lies the problem...my brain is like the "refreezerator" at the shop or my freezer at home. I keep putting stuff in it, but I never take anything out.

Now, if you have been following this blog for a while, you may remember that We (Janet and I) have "The Pulitzer Prize-worthy Knitwits Book" stored and our heads. Also stored in my head are countless inventions (Sheryl: remember the Mankerchief?), highly success business ideas (Knit-o-grams), unknit sweater designs, endless good intentions and large amounts of clutter.

Last month, I finally got 5 years worth of Knitwits website stuff out of my head. It felt amazingly good to get all of that out of my head and hosted on the web. It is also helpful that our new website has the correct address and hours now.

Blog followers will also remember that last year I spent a great deal of time and energy Feng Shui-ing my condo (and my colon) in search of a good night's sleep. With the help of books like "Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui" and books on tape like "Does All of This Clutter Make My Butt Look Big", I got rid of boxes of clutter, a closet full of poor fashion choices, stacks of outdated books, magazines and papers and undesirable toxins in my diet. Now, if only I could find an e-book on "How to Feng Shui your Brain".

My "Note to Self" could be a long laundry list of lofty ambitions and goals or it could be as simple as "Find Peace". Whatever the final form of my "Note to Self" may take, I'm just glad that I will take to trek into 2011 with Janet and Sarah and all of you!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Warm Wishes from the Wonderful World of Knitwits

Well, the shop is now closed for Christmas and we don't reopen until Tuesday morning. I think this may be the longest span of time that the shop will be closed. It has been very hectic for the Knitwits and I am really looking forward to spending time in my pajamas unwinding and piddling around.

I have been dealing with a very stressful work schedule (Comair and Knitwits), car trouble, home repair and over ambitious knitting obligations. Without the support of the staff, my family and friends, I don't think I would have found the strength to see it all through.

For me, the true meaning of Christmas is not about shopping and giving and receiving stuff. It is about sharing, caring, spending time with or thinking about the important people in our lives and enjoying the moments.

As I write this, I feel almost overwhelmed by the caring, sharing and generosity that is shown in the wonderful world of Knitwits. I have been the recipient of so many gifts, cards, goodies, warm hugs and invitations not only for this holiday season but all year long. Please accept my many thanks and know that you all have a special place in my memory bank.

As our day wound down, Janet and I had her daugther, Sarah, bring down a wine opener and festive wine glasses and we cracked open a nice bottle of wine (we have a case under the desk). We sat in the collection of mismatched chairs at the wobbly round table in the front room and for the first time in way too long, I didn't feel stressed out, pressured or anxious. Was it the wine or the lively conversation?

It was probably both things, but more importantly, it was what we needed and wanted to do. We talked about our favorite vacations, wines, foods and memories. It was not the places, tastes or dates that were important...it was whom we shared them with that were most memorable.

Janet and I often ask ourselves, "Why do people like hanging out at the shop?" After parking ourselves around the wobbly round table for a few hours, I now know why our chairs are usually full. It's all about who fills the chairs!

The shop and the mismatched chairs will be vacant for the long Holiday weekend. We hope you all have a safe and wonderful weekend with your family and friends and we look forward to spending time with you around the wobbly round tables soon!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Blog is Back..A Tribute to the World's Best Car

After a very long break from blogging, I'm back to write a tribute to the world's best car.

Let me begin this tribute by setting the stage. I am a knitter. I will knit anywhere and everywhere. I can tell you about the subtle nuances of just about every yarn on the market, their strengths and weaknesses, their stitches per inch, the yardage, etc. I can decipher an intricate cable pattern and solve almost any knitting problem that arises. These are great skills for Knitwits. But, if you ask me for directions to the shop, I will have to get you someone else to answer that dreaded question. I have zero sense of direction and I don't know the difference between 71, 75 and 275 or KY 18 and 42.

To make matters worse, I only like to make right hand turns so I will often drive a circuitous route from point A to point B to avoid making lefts. To make matters even worse, I cannot knit while driving-so, I prefer to be a passenger. With all that said...I am going to admit to two things. #1: I know nothing about cars and have little interest in learning about them. #2: If you ask me to take you to the airport, I will pick you up and have you drive me and my car there.

I think the stage is now set, so let me begin my tribute. The last time I bought a car was 1990. I asked a boyfriend that I had recently broken up with to find me a new car because he loved negotiating and getting deals and he knew that I needed a good, solid, reliable car for the driving impaired. He wheeled and dealed and told me go to an Acura dealer with a check, so I did. I drove away with a Black 1991 Acura Integra R-something. Twenty years and 84,000 miles later, I am still driving the darned thing.

Last week, I got in a little accident on 71 or 75 (doesn't really matter which one). Someone a couple of cars in front of me slammed on their brakes and I ended up hitting the brand spanking new Jaguar in front of me. No one was hurt and the Jag had a hairline scratch but my beloved Acura Integra R-something had a smashed up headlight, a crumpled front bumper and the hood was smooshed down. The Acura didn't look good before the accident, but after the accident it looked---well, pathetic.

I drove my crumpled car to Don's Garage, a really great place in Erlanger if you ever need car stuff done, to see if the car would be okay to drive. They crow barred the hood open and checked everything out and said, "She's good to go but don't drive at night until you get a new headlight."

The new headlight would cost more than the car is worth. To the relief of my family, Janet, Janet's dad and probably my neighbors, I admitted that it was time for a new car.

The Acura Integra R-something is still running like a top and much to my surprise, the headlight that disintegrated upon impact still has a little flashlight bulb intact that lights up like a beacon. She's been stolen, keyed, neglected, rusted, spilled in and on and used like a heavy duty hauling truck over the years-she has served me well but it is time to park her.

Tomorrow, I will pick up my new ride-A 2009 Silver Honda Fit Sport. (Janet test drove it for me.) Tonight, the sadness of retiring the Acura is greater than the excitement of a new car. That will probably change tomorrow-but for tonight, the sadness was enough to break the blog silence.

Thank you Acura Integra R-something and thank you everyone (Steve, Not Steve, all 6,000+ others and especially Comair Steve) for helping me find her replacement.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A new Twist

I've been spending way too much time knitting... and not enough time blogging! If you follow the Knitwits KY group on Ravelry, you know that the shop has been very busy, my list of FO's is growing almost daily and my WIP's is tripling. With all of the new yarns coming in, I have been knitting up a storm and Ive especially enjoyed knitting slipper. Single slipper syndrome is my latest illness. There are so many great slipper patterns out there to test drive that I haven't had a chance to knit any mates. I'll add those to my growing list of To Dos.

The collaborative effort of writing the Knitwits E-news every week has been taking up a lot of my blogging energy. Janet and I discuss the e-mail all week long and when it comes time to get it all down, we stall and freeze. I've been doing the 12 Gifts of Christmas (which of course we started way too early-it's week 13 and we're still in October.) I try to knit each of the gifts, matching the right yarns, patterns and needle sizes. Very time and energy consuming--but kinda fun. It has turned me into someone who actually finishes things (woven in ends and all). I enjoy the process of researching quick, simple, single skein projects and I enjoy the quick knitting. I hope you enjoy the gift ideas.

In doing the research, I try to find projects that have been popular with the Ravelry-ers and that use yarns that you all will enjoy working with. My newest favorite yarns are Cascade 220 Superwash, Classic Elite Chesapeake, Doubled Kid Silk Haze and Shepherd's Wool. These yarns are just delightful to work with!

Being October, I have officially entered the Annual Christmas Stocking Knitting Season. Every year, I have a handful of faithful customers who ask me to knit Christmas Stockings for their ever growing families. Every year, I ask Janet and the Knitwits to tell me not to do it! The stress of knitting under a deadline and the monotony of knitting with Christmas Green and Christmas Red is almost too much to bear. For a knitter who can only knit slipper, making two or three of the same stockings is really stretching it for me. To date, I have one stocking done and six more to go. Stay tuned for the progress...

Every time I log into Ravelry, I enter a black hole of time. I start researching one thing and hours later, I have added a dozen things to my cue, strayed away from the one thing I wanted to research and found myself on some other distant link, casting on another random project. Does this happen to anyone else?

My latest "Black Hole" destination is the Twist Collective. The Twist Collective is an on-line magazine like Knitty, but the patterns are sold on-line instead of being free. The Twist Collective is the brain-child of Kate Gilbert of the Clapotis Fame and it features great projects and articles from very talented designers and knitters. I actually read the articles! Many of my favorite designers Like Kate Gilbert, Connie Chang Chinchio, Ysolde Teague, Pam Allen and Elinor Brown (met her on one of my flights) regularly have projects featured. If you haven't looked at Twist Collective, take a visit!

Must finish knitting my apron for the Apron Contest (deadline next week), must get at least one more stocking knit by the end of the month...but I can't stop knitting on my Coquille---I'm using the new Unique Sheep Gradience Sock Yarn. AAAAGH!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Knitting Club

Wow! Almost a month between blog posts-very, very bad blogger! I don't know where the time went or what I was doing since I last blogged, but I must have been very busy and it must have been somewhat uneventful. Now, to get back on track.....

I finished my last trip yesterday. The other flight attendant, Pamela, was the bright spot of the assignment. We have flown together before so she was prepared for the knit-fest that occurs when I leave the 41017.

During the first day of the four day trip, Pamela mentioned that she would like to take up knitting. She watched me as I knit and purled, studied the motion of the yarn around the needles, asked questions about how the stitches formed a pattern and asked about classes. On one of our breaks, I fished out a project that I intended to frog (some Noro Silk Garden on Addi Turbos) and told her to practice knitting on it. She took to knitting immediately and by the end of the day, she had about an inch of garter stitch completed.

On day two, I met Pamela in the hotel lobby at 5:15AM and she showed me her knitting. During the night, she frogged everything, cast on by watching a YouTube video and had another inch of garter stitch reknitted. If she could cast on, then she was ready for "the purl". I had her knit 5 stitches, purl 5 stitches and repeat to the end of the row. When we got to the airport, we found out the our aircraft had a maintenance problem and would be delayed at least 2 hours. Argh!

We set up camp in the Dunkin Donuts and pulled out the knitting. I pulled out an intricate fair isle pillow that I had just steeked (yes, I steeked!) and Pamela pulled out the Noro and Addis. A Delta Flight Attendant and her son walked by our table and instead of asking us about the delay says, "Noro Silk Garden? That's the good stuff. I'm a sock knitter." Another gentleman commented that he would like a sweater in Noro. And a fellow Comair Flight attendant, Susan (who also knits) walked by and yelled, "I just bound off a felted slipper and I did something wrong! I need help! Is that Noro?" I had to explain to Pamela that the practice yarn I gave her was Noro Silk Garden, made by a Japanese company with an ancient Asian secret for dying yarn that had a sort of cult-like following and that the Addi Turbo needles were the Cadillacs of Needles.

A few minutes later, an older woman came up to the table and commented on how lovely it was to see fellow knitters. She was wearing a lovely cardigan with thousands of tiny flowers embroidered into delicate, intricate cables. I could tell that the cardigan was handknit but it was too PERFECT! She asked me about my steeking and shared a tip for future steek adventures. She explained that she was currently obsessed with embroidered knitting (like her cardigan) and was hoping to publish a book on the technique. She said her name was Anna Zilboorg.

Anna Zilboorg! Suddenly, I found myself blurting "The Knitting Anarchist!", "Magnificent Mittens?", "Simply Socks?" I had never really run into Knitting Celebrity before and I was awestruck! My steeking and Pamela's Noro seemed small and insignificant next to her embroidered knits. We talked for a few minutes and like a good Knitwit, I gave her a Knitwits business card. She was on her way to Wisconsin to knit with "some old knitting friends".

Susan returned to Dunkin Donuts with her goofed up slipper. Her flight also had a mechanical delay. I tinked her bind off and showed her how to do a three needle bind off. She was back in business just as her plane was now ready to go.

While I'm no Anna Zilboorg, I do feel that sharing, teaching, and encouraging the love of knitting is the best part of being a knitter. Pamela and the rest of the crew were amazed at how much attention the yarn and our knitting attracted during our lengthy delay. While I hope Pamela continues to enjoy knitting, I really hope that she will discover belonging to the Knitting Club the best benefit!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's On Your Needles? An Apron?

It's been a busy few weeks for me. Between flying 4 days a week, getting flooring quotes, working at the shop and knitting up a storm...sorry, no time for blogging. What I do have is a renewed obsession for knitting and I blame it on Janet!

Here's what has happened during the past few weeks. Janet and I decided to try some competitive knitting, we drummed up the First Annual Knitwits Knitting Competition with the Apron Knitting Contest. We were trying to come up with a way to move some inventory of the Aslan Trends Glaciar Del Cielo and a stack of Interweave Magazines and have some fun in the process. We fell in love with the idea of knitting aprons and the possibility of putting our creative energy to good use. I knew Janet's entry would be wacky, fun and totally unexpected (if she finished it) and I knew I could alter the pattern (as I always do) and perhaps finish something too.

Janet immediately started knitting away on her apron with enthusiasm I hadn't seen before. I started to get a little nervous, so I too stepped up game. I knitted the apron band and started knitting the apron portion. I then started scouring Ravelry for inspiration, ideas and a "theme". In the process, I found countless patterns and ideas for everything except my apron. I joined five Ravelry groups, added dozens of favorites, put at least 20 things to my cue, and started six new projects--a felted log cabin potholder, Jared Flood's Turn a Square Hat, Maine Morning Mitts, a striped mouse, the Knitwits 2011 Afghan project and a one skein lacy cowl called Pretty Thing.

I finished the felted log cabin potholder and plan to kit up the yarn and do a one day workshop for the 12 Gifts of Christmas program. I finished the Turn a Square Hat just in time for week #3 of the 12 Gifts of Christmas. I have most of one of the Maine Morning Mitts done (it's still week #4, so I'm not late yet). The striped mouse-don't know why I started this but I did and I just need to seam it up, stuff it and sew on ears and face. I've knit 3-1/2 squares of the 2011 Afghan project using Barbara Walker's Learn to Knit Afghan Book- a great book that has taught this old dog many new tricks and techniques. The Pretty Thing is a great one skein, lacy knit in the round cowl that is the perfect pattern for Road to China Light. The apron portion of my apron is still on the needles.

The more I scour Ravelry for my winning apron "theme", the more inspired I get to knit ....everything except my apron! Thinking that disorganization was the reason for not nailing down my "theme", I ordered a Namaste Hermosa bag to keep all of my WIPs (works in progress) contained and organized. I'm hoping that the new bag will also contain the answer to my missing "theme".

Several other contenders have joined in the fun and highly competitive Apron knitting competition. Entries are starting to show up in varies stages of progress and completion. From what I've seen and heard, I really need come up with something great and nail down my "theme". The pressure is getting too great to bear!

To make matters worse, Phil the UPS man and judge of the competition keeps coming in everyday asking for status updates on the competition. I've been talking "BIG" but I've got nothing but a bunch of finished Gifts of Christmas projects, and an unfinished striped mouse.

While my missing "theme" is frustrating, the fun factor of the competition has been very rewarding. Everyone seems to be having fun coming up with ideas and ways to execute them. I am really enjoying the resuscitation of the creative knitting energy and enthusiasm at the shop. Since the competition started, Janet and I have never knit so much!

Our plan to move Glacial Del Cielo, Interweave Knits Magazines and have fun has been a great success! So much so that we've had to reorder the yarn and magazines. As for the fun...the fun is just beginning! I think the evening at Janet's house for the judging and Soups and Sauces demonstration will be an event not to be missed! If you haven't yet started to knit an apron, it's not too late!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blessed or Cursed?

I'm feeling extremely blessed for my recent string of bad luck.

My July flight schedule has been just awful. With the exception of a string of days off at the beginning of the month when I was going to go enjoy some time away with my family-but the flights were so full-I didn’t get to go anywhere, I have been scheduled to work for six days on with one day off for three weeks.

I have underlined scheduled because “scheduled” and “actual” are two very different things. Last week, on day #6, I was scheduled to fly only one leg back from Philadelphia to Cincinnati-boom done, check out, go home. Sounds easy. Not so much.

Our airplane never made it into Philadelphia-so our outbound flight was cancelled and there were no other flight out that evening.

This week, my schedule was further complicated by water, ”the elixir of life”. On Sunday morning, the hose that connects the water supply to my toilet burst. According to my plumber, Bob Fish of Fish Plumbing, “several gallons of water can easily gush out of there every minute”. According to me, 10-15 minutes is enough time to create a wading pool in your bedroom and bathroom.

To make matters worse...much worse, during the wee hours of this morning (Wednesday), my hot water tank spontaneously combusted. I swear that a 30 gallon tank holds a river’s worth of water. I now had a wading pool in my utility room, kitchen and dining room.

So, why do I feel blessed?
For starters,
  1. I am tired, but healthy.
  2. I have insurance and a job.
  3. I have kind, caring, sympathetic friends and neighbors, a prompt plumber who gives an airline discount, property damage but nothing of significance lost.
  4. I’m one in a gazillion! What are the odds of two plumbing problems in one week and the odds of me being at home for both of them? I can’t even begin to do the real math but I know that the damage could have been significantly worse if I were away!
  5. The insurance companies have been called, the hot water tank has been replaced, the toilet is back in commission and the last of the skanky towels are in the dryer. The 10 industrial fans and some monstrous thing called “The LGR 2800i” are running through the weekend to dry out the floors.
  6. My soggy downstairs neighbors are very understanding and coping with the water damage to their units.
  7. The recent Feng-Shuing of Condo made mopping and cleaning a breeze.
  8. Not one skein of yarn, pattern or UFO was damaged or lost during the ordeal.
  9. My stash is safe and dry.
  10. I found 2 buttons, a Chibi, 6 stick markers, a #2 DP needle and 42 cents.
  11. I have my knitting to keep me occupied while I wait for plumbers, repairmen, insurance adjusters......
Be well and Stay Dry!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Buying Stuff and Finding Another Perfect Knitting Bag

Last week, we met with yet another yarn rep. Susan is our rep for several yarn and notions lines, but for us, she is the Cascade Yarn Lady. With our fall/winter budget blown for the year, we thought we would have a "look-see" and maybe buy a couple of bags of yarn to fill in our color gaps of Cascade 220.

Cascade 220 is a yarn shop staple item with 220 yards of 100% Peruvian highland wool, available in 220 colors. 220 colors! It would take way too much mental energy to start here, so we flipped the page to the Cascade 220 Superwash-I think there are only 200 colors and there is not one bad one.

The 220 Superwash is the yarn that was required for the Operation Gator Project. It really is one of the nicest superwash yarns that we've found and we need an all purpose superwash. (Mission Falls 1824 is a great superwash, but the color pallet has a blue-ish hue to it-no true shades.) An hour later and using most of the post-it flags from a Knit Happy Sticky Note Holder, we had selected 30 colors and really test Susan's patience.

Then, Susan says,"Don't you need a Chunky version?" So...we get out the remaining post-it flags and go in for another round. The best part of the process is writing the order. Janet reads off the color number, makes up a name for the color and Sue writes it down.
Sue does a great job of doing this in an orderly manner and with a straight face as Janet will come up with names like "Pumpkin Soup with a Hint of Nutmeg, a Dollop of Sour Cream and Chives". Me?... I just sweat the cost of all of this and eat Chips Ahoy cookies to cope.

While Janet and Sue write down the "menu" of Chunky colors, I start rummaging through the Namaste knitting bag samples. Nothing is really hitting me....until.....Susan pulls out Hermosa.
The room goes silent.... until Sue breaks the silence by exclaiming, "I MUST HAVE THAT!", words I've never heard Sue mutter. Hermosa is THE perfect knitting tote-roomy top-opening for plenty of UFOs, organized inside and out, outside pocket for books, patterns, magazine, place for cell phone and water bottle, sturdy and ample handles and available in airline approved colors! We go gaga over Hermosa!

We also went gaga over the Circular Needle Case. The Namaste Circular Case is a compact, clever, and oh-so cute solution to storing and organizing circular needles. We placed a "Big" (big for us) Namaste order. The Circular Case is out of stock (of course) but Hermosa is on her way!

I'm not bellyaching over the $ spent with Susan, in fact I'm glad we dropped a wad. We all feel really good about bringing in some new weights and colors of Cascade and we can't wait to get to know Hermosa! I have plenty of knitting bags, a knitting basket, a knitting carry-all and a Jordana Paige knitting/computer bag...but I do need a knitting tote is an airline approved color. How's that for justifying a Hermosa purchase?

Now that you've finished reading, click here for a YouTube video review of the Hermosa bag.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Knitwits 24/7

I got a reply on my last post from Robin Hunter in Toronto. Robin writes the blog "How to be a Professional Knitter". She blogs about knitting and happiness and often interviews other knitters and designers. Sweater Quest refers to Toronto as the "Knitting Capital of the World" so of course we put our spin on that and now refer to Knitwits as the "Knitting Capital of Crescent Springs".

Okay, back to Robin. Robin too is a professional knitter like Betsy Lee and so as are many of the people she interviews. So the answer to "Is Knitting a Profession?" is yes, but not a lucrative one...yet. You Go Robin!

I'm amazed that folks like Robin, Adrienne Martini and all of you actually read this blog. It makes me realize that there is such potential available at our fingertips. If you haven't noticed, I've added some new pages to the top of the blog. I've added an "About Knitwits" page for readers unfamiliar with the shop, a "Ask a Knitwit" page for reader questions (knitting, personal or otherwise) and a "Janet's Recipe of the Week" page so you all can enjoy some of Janet's wonderfully, delicious and easy recipes. My hope is that this blog will become more interactive. I love getting responses and replies to the postings.

Okay, now back to Ravelry for a minute. I love the interactive potential of Ravelry! Jill has done a great job of replying to the Knitwits KY group discussions and posts. She always has a lovely reply to my new project posts and often reminds me about UFO's like the Shop Owners Sweater in size M.

This week, we've added a bunch of new discussion feeds on our Ravelry board in hopes of utilizing more of Ravelry's potential to be a valuable source of information and entertainment. Check out the "A Special Thank You for Our Ravelry Group" on the Knitwits KY discussion board. Feel free to start a new discussion, reply to a previous post, comment on other knitter's project or try something else you can do on the wonderful world of Ravelry.

We are blessed to have soooo much access to information available at our fingertips 24/7. I hope you start to use this blog, Ravelry, Facebook and e-mail on a more regular basis or as places to find an answer for your knitting (and friendship) questions. Even when the shop is closed, your Knitwits friends are just a few keystrokes away.

And yes, it is possible to knit at the computer. I do it all the time.

P.S. Technology is not one of this Knitwit's strengths so if a link doesn't work or you don't receive a timely response, I apologize in advance.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Knitting a Profession or an Obsession?

When I meet people for the first time and they ask me what I do, I usually answer, "Oh, I'm a flight attendant." And, the conversation usual goes as follows:
Do you like it?
What's your route?
How long have you been flying?

Someday, I'm going to truthfully answer the "What do you do?" question with "I'm a knitter and I fly so I can knit and pay my bills."

Is knitting a profession?
According to my MacBook dictionary, profession is a noun that means a paid occupation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification. Hmmmm, paid (sorta), prolonged training (does self taught, years of hands on experience, trial and error and a few YouTube videos count), formal qualification (card carrying member of TNNA). It's a stretch.

Are there any true professional knitters?
When I Googled professional knitters, I found things like FairTradeKnitting, a cooperative of professional knitters in Ecuador who make a living by knitting, and How to become a Professional Knitter, a knitting blog about career transition, personal development and the search for fulfillment. I was hoping a picture of "Sweater Quester" Adrienne Martini, "Yarn Harlot" Stephanie Pearl-McPhee , or Uber Color Knitter Kaffe Fassett to name a few.

When I googled, "is knitting a profession", 6,950,000 results popped up in 0.35 seconds. The ninth option down was something about Jane Pauley (who I've always liked), Reality Check and (in Bold) Knitting- AARP.org. So, I clicked and here's what I found:

Reality Check: Knitting as a Career

Knitting is a great hobby, pastime and social activity. What it's not is a practical way to make a living.

Not many knitters are professional knitters. Betsy Lee McCarthy is, since she wrote a popular book on the subject and teaches the craft at events nationwide (and even on cruise ships). Yet despite her name recognition as a knitter, McCarthy, 67, is hesitant to describe knitting as her job.

"I don't make a lot of money from it," she says, explaining that after buying yarn and other supplies, her trade often incurs as much cost as it does income. "I'm lucky if I break even," she observes. When McCarthy left a well paid career in health administration in order to pursue her passion, she did so with both a nest egg and a clean financial slate. Her two children were grown, her home and cars were paid off, and her husband had a steady job that provided insurance.

"I knit because I love knitting," she says.

We have found our first professional knitter, Betsy Lee McCarthy, 67.
There is a lovely video of Betsy being interviewed by Jane Pauley that I'm trying to link for you---but it's not working. :-(

I guess for now, I'll keep answering the "So, What do you do?" with....flight attendant, it's okay, don't really have a set route and 13 years, blah,blah,blah... and my obsessions are knitting and googling.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ravelry is the New Feng Shui

The book Sweater Quest has been the subject of many recent blogs because it really opened the question "Did the Internet Save Knitting?" I think the answer is most definitely YES!

The scarf knitting craze of 7-8 years ago got people interested in knitting and
websites like Knitty and Ravelry created a vehicle to connect knitters with yarn and pattern resources, inspiration, instruction, and other knitters and fuel the passion for knitting. The timing was perfect.

was the first knitting website that I really got addicted to. Knitty is the longest-running free knitting magazine on the web. Launched in 2002, there are more than 7 years worth of fabulous knitting patterns and articles. What I really like is that Knitty gives new designers a place to showcase their talent, so the patterns are usually fresh, quirky, innovative and FREE. The newest edition of Knitty patterns was just released this week, so take a quick peek.

I think Ravelry is the BEST website on the planet!
Husband and wife Casey and Jessica Forbes founded Ravelry in May 2007. Their idea was to create a web presence for all fiber artists to keep track of their yarn, tools and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. If you are not a member of Ravelry, you must become one! It's like Facebook for knitters only much, much, much better!

I've always loved Ravelry for the ability to quickly look up yarns and patterns (which we have to do quite a bit at the shop). This past month, I've spent way too much time on Ravelry learning how to use many of the other available features-like advertising, chat, posting pictures, joining forums and discussions. I've also been updating my project notebook. It is easy to use and it is fun to do!

On Ravelry, I'm adamsaunt, Sue is knitzzzky, Jill is NobleKnitwit, Krista is kristaj84 and Sheryl is dukesmama. There is also a Knitwits Group called knitwits ky and we have 128 fun members. You can easily see what your fellow Knitwits are working on and view their finished objects without feeling like a stalker. NobleKnitwit is great at keeping up with the questions, comments and postings. (i'm getting better).

I highly recommend keeping up with your "notebook". You add your latest project with yarn info, needle info, pattern info, etc. It tracks your progress (or lack of progress) and remembers things that I can never remember (where I got the pattern, what needle I used, what changes I made, etc.) I also recommend putting things in your queue. Whenever I see a pattern that I like I stick it in my queue so I can find it again without doing countless random searches on the web.

Since updating my Ravelry "notebook", I was able to feng shui my desk of piles of knitting patterns, little scraps of paper filled with cryptic pattern notes, bags of yarn bands, two stacks of Knitting magazines with sticky notes everywhere, a shopping bag of stash yarn, 3 UFO's, 1 FO, and a Twix candy bar.

NobleKnitwit and I would like to do some Ravelry workshops to show you all how to unravel Ravelry to organize your life--or at least the knitting portion. Any interest?

By the way, Casey the techno-guy of Ravelry must have a great sense of humor. Sometimes when you're typing a post and you type the word Coffee, a little appears. You can also have a Martini , Pizza , kitty ,fries , sushi , muffin , Beer and red wine . It's fun to figure out which words make the little icons appear. When you find a cutie pie icon-post it on the knitwits ky discussion board.

I know I was going to blog about The 5 Hour Baby Sweater, but I've been spending too much time on Ravelry to finish it. Stay tuned, less than an hour to go! But first, .

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

CEY Knit-A-Long Update

Wow! Our Classic Elite Knitalong sweaters are going great! In fact, Darlene is the first one to have her sweater done. Good job, Darlene--you’re an inspiration to us all. Unfortunately, we have to wait for a little bit to get a picture of this fabulous sweater, since Darlene is off to the Windy City, her sweater in tow. We’ll have to find out if it was actually cool enough to wear a sweater…. It’s hard to imagine, but I guess it is possible.

This Saturday, we’ll be getting together again for a meeting of the knit along. I can’t wait to see how everyone’s sweater is coming, because I had to miss the last one. I was in New Orleans--actually, technically speaking, I was on my way back from New Orleans. So I didn’t get to see everyone’s sweaters last time.

I was there for our meeting on June 19th. That was a great meeting. Several of us got together, and as usual, we had lots of fun and laughter. I had a chance to talk to some of our great knitters about how their projects were going and what they thought of the yarn they were using.

Claudia and Sue are both knitting a beautiful pattern out of Firefly--a lovely yarn with a subtle sheen that comes from the viscose in the blend. The finished fabric is really lovely! And, as is usual for our Knitwits knit longs, they are making changes to make a beautiful sweater even prettier. Both these ladies have been tinkering with the pattern to improve the fit of the sweater. Claudia, for example, added short rows in the front to make a sweater that will lie more smoothly across the tummy--a lesson she learned from a previous sweater she did. Both Sue and Claudia have heightened the neckline of the piece and made some other alterations to go with these. Sue even figured out how to put in a hem to make these sweaters look even better.

Truthfully, when I look around at all of our sweaters, I am wowed not only by our amazing knitters but by our fearless leader Sue. Sue has put a lot of thought into each of these sweaters to make everyone's experience go so much better.

Take me for example....in my case, I wanted to use a different Classic Elite yarn (Classic Silk instead of Solstice) at a slightly different gauge than the pattern called for. Oh, and did I mention that I didn't like the line of increases straight across the bust? Gee, Sue, is there a way to solve all of these problems and still stay true to the pattern???? Our amazing Sue found that there was a way to do it... and she not only figured out how, but she gave me a kick butt spreadsheet so I wouldn't screw it up. I know I am on track all the time. It really makes knitting the sweater easier. She did the same thing for Darlene, who was also using Classic Silk instead of Solstice--and at a different gauge than me. And the result is that now Darlene’s sweater is done and she is happy with it!

How does the woman do it? I don't know, but I know that Sue is a gem!!! I also saw her figure out Brooke's vest, going so far as to cut up an old t-shirt and stitch it together so she would understand how the pattern worked.

Go Sue, our sweater knitter extraordinaire!

Monday, July 5, 2010


I'm really into finishing things right now. I've finished (that means weaving in loose ends and all) two things this past week. I finished up my Gold Necklace Camisole first and was so inspired that I cranked out the last section of my Road to China Citron. I also tackled another biggie....the draft for our new website! I feels really good to check stuff off the "Things I NEED to Finish List"!
The Gold Necklace Camisole is knit out of Katia Bolero using the Aran Necklace Pattern in the Spring 2010 Interweave Knits Magazine. TJ came in with the pattern and as soon as I saw it, I knew I would have to knit it. The construction of the top involved an intricate necklace-like yoke and straps and a short row bodice. The challenge was too great not to knit it and I immediately pictured it in the Gold Bolero yarn . In usual Junko fashion, I cast on and started knitting!

I should have had 8-1/2" after the first set of instructions, I had 6". No worries, I'll just knit til I have 8-1/2" and instead of making the XS, I'll follow the directions for a M. After knitting half of the Necklace Portion, I realized that I would now need to follow the directions for the L to get the correct dimensions. When I got to the pick up stitches for the body and begin short rows part of the pattern, I had to readjust again and was now following the directions for the XL. C'est la Vie.

After the short rows, it's all knitting in the round, so round and round I went until I started to see the cardboard ring that the yarn was wrapped around. Instead of following the pattern for the hem (why start following the pattern at this point), I did a seed stitch border to get as much length as possible without cracking into a new ball of yarn.

Conclusion: I love the sweater! It fits (although just a tad shorter than I want). It looks like the picture! In fact, I love the sweater so much that I took a picture and posted it on Ravelry for all to see that I can actually finish something.

I was in the middle of a trip when I finished the camisole, so I dug my Road to China Citron out of the bottom of my flight bag. I had put it aside after completing section three of the pattern (the shiny, gold cami called me). Citron is a popular, semi-circular shawlette/scarf from the Knitty collection. The pattern is uses lace weight yarn, so what do I use? Road to China Light, a fabulous dk weight yarn of course.

The Road to China Light is my new favorite yarn. It is a soft, luscious, gorgeous, yummy blend of Baby Alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk that knits up like a dream! The yarn felt soooo good after working with the schpoingy Bolero. Section Four went quickly. Section Five was another story. The pattern tells you to kfb in every stitch..well with 273 stitches, that's a whole lot of kf&b! But, I was determined to finish another wip (work in progress), so I put my head down and did it!

Conclusion: I love my Citron and I love Road to China. Although it doesn't really go with my Gold Necklace camisole, I'll be wearing both to death... they are my new favorite things. Bye bye clapotis, Hello Citron!

Next Up? Can a "5 Hour Baby Sweater" really be knit up in five hours?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My blog mojo is back!

Much to my surprise, Adrienne Martini, the author of my new favorite book, Sweater Quest, responded to the last Knitwits blog post. She commented, " I can't wait to see how your own "Quests" progress..." She also sent me a message on Facebook. If I had read Sweater Quest on a Kindle or iPad, I would really feel technologically with it.

Blog, Facebook, Kindle and iStuff-phone,pad,pod and tunes?
Ten years ago, these words and concepts would be too confusing for my techno-challenged brain to grasp. Yet today, they are readily available and I'm keeping up with IT. What's next?

With all of these technology advancements at our fingertips, why do we continue to practice the ancient art of hand knitting? According to Adrienne, it is these very resources that have saved knitting by connecting knitters to other knitters and the wealth of information that they are willing and able to share.

We can have internet "friends" (like Adrienne) that we may not have met yet but share conversation, common interests and connections. We know their vitals-marriage status, hometown, interests, favorite songs, blah,blah,blah and we can follow their lives and current knitting activities 24/7 through blogs, Facebook and Ravelry.

We continue to knit because we enjoy the pleasure of creating something with our very own hands and a few simple supplies. We enjoy transforming strands of yarn into something tangible and totally different and we enjoy sharing our creations with others that can appreciate the effort. Like Adrienne, we enjoy the process.

Technology has opened many doors to the knitting world and transformed knitting from a solitary activity to a collective one. We now use knitting terms like Tink, Frog, Clapotis and Mr. Greenjeans in our everyday knitspeak. The endless possibilities of yarns, patterns and ideas that are shared on Ravelry cause my head to spin and wish my hands could knit faster.

My treasured MacBook and the internet may connect me to the world of knitting, but there is a deeper, more meaningful bond that occurs within the walls of your local yarn shop. While technology has made knitting exciting, there is no substitute for a LYS --they nourish the knitter's soul. LYS is knitter-shorthand for local yarn shop or local yarn store. It's good karma to support local businesses.

In the age of the Internet, it's difficult for your LYS to make a compete on price and selection, so when you're planning a project and don't have a particular yarn in mind, check your LYS. The sensory experience alone is well worth it. There is something special about touching, feeling and smelling the yarn. Seeing shelves full of endless possibilities of color, texture and fibers and rooms overflowing with knickknacks, notions, samples--now that's exciting. The feeling of "Being a kid in a candy store" can not be recreated while on the computer.

Another big thing that local yarn shops offer that isn't as easy to provide on the Internet is a sense of community. LYSes connect knitters and the community by participating in charity events and doing all the teaching, helping and handholding that many knitters require.

While the internet is full of possibility and potential, Knitwits is a live community. The experience is sensory and personal. There is no substitute. I love my Ravelry, Google and Facebook "friends" but Knitwits is true love! As Sue says, "There is nothing better that being able to give a friend a true hug. :-) is great, but we love to see real smiles and feel real hugs."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Knit, Vote, Read

I recently finished (that's right, I finished something) reading two very interesting books. The first book was The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and the second one was Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini. Reading these two books in tandem, gave me great pleasure and plenty to think about.

The Tipping Point was a book that I have wanted to read for a long time. When a passenger left his copy of the book in a seat back pocket, I saw it as a sign that it was meant for me to read it. So, I did. In a nut shell, Gladwell describes the key factors that can make an idea "tip". By "tip" he means spreading an idea or message through the population in a sweeping and contagious manner.

Sweater Quest was a recommendation from Jill. It has been described as the Julie and Julia of knitting. As I read it, I felt like I could have written it. It was about a knitter (from Pittsburgh-my hometown) who attempts to knit an Alice Starmore Fair Isle Sweater just for the challenge of knitting it. It is a wonderful and fascinating read, that is so much more than just the adventures of knitting an authentic Alice Starmore Mary Tudor sweater. The importance of a "knitting community", the advancement of the internet in connecting and educating knitters and the key components that make knitting a popular past time are discussed.

While reading both books, I kept asking myself (and anyone else who would listen), "Does Knitwits have the ability to "tip" something? Is Knitwits the "knitting community" that Sweater Quest refers to? Can our Knitwits Community "tip" something and if so, what is it?"

The answers to the above questions my friends, is YES!
The day after we sent last week's e-mail, we peeked at the statistics that we get from Mad Mimi, our e-mail marketing service. Of the 655 e-mails sent, over a third of you had read the email. Of those readers, 40 of you had clicked the link to vote for Sue's Pepsi Project. And as a result...we watched the Narcolepsy Project jump from 57 in popularity to a ranking of 46 today. I don't think this is a coincidence.

We have gotten phone calls and replies to the e-mail telling us that the email has been forwarded to friends and family. The momentum is building and our request for votes seems to be working. If we all vote everyday and we ask at least one person each day to do the same...we can keep the Narcolepsy message moving up the leader board and I think we can "tip" Narcolepsy into the top spot by the end of the month.

We have ordered a bunch of copies of Sweater Quest for the shop. They should be available sometime next week. If you want a copy, let us know and we'll set one aside. Sue and I found a Fair Isle Scarf in the Fall Rowan Magazine that could be our "Quest" Knit a Long project for the Fall.

Knit, Vote, Read

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dr. George H. Haney

Every once in a blue moon, we are fortunate enough to cross paths with someone that we know will change our lives. This is how I felt upon meeting Janet. We had an instant connection. We grew ever closer and I got to know more about her, her history and her family. It was months after meeting Janet that I met her husband George, a man that I had heard so much about. He was everything that I had imagined and so much more.

George Haney was a skilled dermatologist, avid fisherman and collector of friends. His love for life, wisdom, kindness and easy laugh made him one of the most influential men in my life and the life of many others. He lead by example of honor, grace, giving and teaching.

When Janet showed George a cocktail napkin with "open yarn shop" scrawled on it. George gave her the thumbs up and Knitwits was her birthday present that year. It turns out that it was a present for all who enter the Knitwit's door. His love for life, thirst for knowledge, kindness and pursuit of friends lives within the walls of Knitwits.

George died two years ago after a long battle of prostate cancer. I think of him and miss him everyday.

Today would have been George's 60th birthday. Whenever Janet and I have unanswered questions eating at our brains, we ask ourselves, "What would George do?" When Janet asked, "What should we do for George's Birthday?" George answered "Have a Big SALE for my Birthday and invite all of your friends!" I'm glad it wasn't "Go Fishing" although it looks like a beautiful day for that.

Raise your knitting needles for George this weekend to thank him for Knitwits and come by the shop to reap the rewards of a good birthday celebration sale. To George!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Even if I didn't knit, I think I would still be a big fan of the little shop we call Knitwits. Knitwits has Super Powers.

On Tuesday, I had a doctors appointment to have a mammogram and ultrasound for a small lump I found in my left breast. Of course, the small lump had disappeared over the weekend and the test results showed nothing except that I have extremely dense and teeny-tiny breasts. I felt a tremendous sense of relief and good fortune and headed straight to the shop.

Janet and "Not Steve" were the only people who knew about my disappearing lump. I didn't even tell my mother (and still haven't). When I met Jill in the parking lot and blurted out the news of my favorable breast results, she became the third person to know. It was at that moment that I realized just how magical Knitwits is. It is not only the lovely yarns and tempting notions that keeps our customers coming back, it is the extraordinary collection of people that give Knitwits its soul.

Janet has become a best friend to myself and many others. She possesses an amazing way of looking at life with its many peaks and valleys. She has a way of connecting with people that few possess. When Janet had the idea of opening Knitwits, it was the spirit of friendship, sharing, caring and encouragement that appealed to her...the knitting part was secondary.

Jill amazes me in so many ways. Her development into the "Sock Guru" is just one of the many amazing traits. This year, her son, Brian, will graduate from Beechwood, and he will graduate with the honors of being Prom King, the lead in the school musical, valedictorian, and state debate champion extraordinaire.

I could continue to list the cast of characters and their ''amazing-ness" but I think you all know what I mean. I could try to list the customers (who by good fortune have also become friends) but the list is too long and ever growing. The true spirit of friendship, caring and character exists within the walls of Knitwits and the encouragement of creativity and love of knitting is just a common trait amongst us.

When one of us is celebrating or suffering, we share in the experience. We may deal with it by knitting more or less, but if you share the experience with us, our caring thoughts are with you. Yesterday, we got word at the shop that Sue Stoy is in the hospital and that Rita Arthur's husband was very ill. Our thoughts are prayers are with you and please know that if you need or want anything, we're a phone call or e-mail away.

Knitwits is a magical place where secrets can be revealed, triumphs and failures can be shared and caring is always present. Knitwits is a place that encourages growth, friendship, caring and support...... and like yarn, you can never have too much and you can always find it at Knitwits. May the Forces of Knitwits be with you all!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back to Knitting

Okay enough about my colon and feng shui, it''s time to blog about knitting again. I've been knitting up a storm again although I haven't finished anything lately.

I'm really excited about our new yarns, patterns and books so I'm suffering from a bad case of "let's start another new projectitis."

I have a Mountain Colors Blanket going and I really like working on it in the evenings. Similar to the Giant Skeins, the Mountain Colors kit has 10 types of various yarns all dyed in the same colorway. It's big enough now that I wrap it around me and knit away. I added some novelty yarns to the Mountain Colors kit to kick it up just a bit. I've used up half of the yummy yarn so I'm anxious to get it finished and enjoy the blanket sans needles. This project is at the shop so I haven't been working on it lately.

I also started a Juno Regina out of Arucania Chaiten, a hand dyed silk yarn. Juno Regina is a vintage Knitty pattern that makes a lace bordered wrap. The yarn is lovely to work with. I'm about one-third done with this project. The middle portion is slightly monotonous so I work on this project while I'm in the hotel after a long day of flying.

My current "at home" project is a Tussie Mussie Cardigan in Rowan Felted tweed. It is also a Knitty pattern that is very popular on Ravelry. It is knit in one piece which I love. I'm a little over half-way up knitting the body portion.

Also in the works is a pair of Chuck Taylor Converse Baby Booties. Of course I have one done and I just can't seem to knit up the second one. I used Aslan Trends Glaciar Del Cielo Cotton.

I thought I could whip out a sleeveless draped neck shell on my last trip, so I started a Petrie out of Sky Blue Classic Elite Premiere. I got the front 90% finished but I wanted to measure it up against a sweater at home to get the armhole length right. So much for just "whipping it out".

The moral of this blog is that even with a healthy colon and a new feng shui lifestyle, I still can't sleep and I can't stop starting new projects. Well fish oil help?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Classic Elite Knit-a-long

Why didn't I think of this sooner...A Guest Blog. This post is courtesy of guest blogger, Jill.

Our Knitalong kicked off officially on April 24th, with Sue as the Captain of the team and me as her loyal sidekick. We had quite an impressive showing of wonderful, funny ladies. Not only did we have a lot of women, we have a lot of different designs being knit.

I think we have someone knitting every single design from Curvy Knits, although Claudia who is knitting the beautiful tunic from Allegoro was unable to be with us. Chris and Krista are pluggin' away on the ribbed tunic in Classic Silk. They both chose lovely springy colors--a grass green and a corally pink. Darlene and I chose to do the Solstice 3 Button cardigan, although we are both being rebellious and doing it out of Classic Silk instead. What can I say? I guess we’re non-conformists, and bless our Math Whiz Sue--she’s helped us figure out how to compensate for the different gauges. Tracy is doing the beautiful long cardigan in Soft Linen. The fabric she is producing is stunningly beautiful… maybe someday I’ll get over my fear of doing so much stockinette and make one!

Then there are the women who are using the other booklets. Sue is knitting a gorgeous piece out of an olivey green in Firefly. Her sweater is so lovely that one of our participants decided to knit that sweater. Brooke is doing a great job on a vest in the soft linen in a gorgeous red. Also in soft linen is Kathy’s sideways lace vest--that is going to really lovely. Mary is knitting a cardigan in Premiere--it will be fabulous, as is everything she knits. When I grow up, I want to be as good a knitter as Mary or Sue. I’m not picky--I’ll be either one of them!!!

Last Saturday we had a smaller group… lots of people could not make the meeting. We had a lot of fun anyway and got a lot of knitting done (except for me, who was having difficulties focusing that day--not to fear, though, I’ve got my groove back and am knitting away). It was the Curvy Knits crew plus our Fearless Leader Sue.

Besides the ladies who have come for the knitalong sessions on Saturday, we have a group who are participating in the Knitalong in Sweater Club. Vicki is doing the cardigan from Curvy Knits in soft linen… I know it is going to be gorgeous. Joyce is doing the same cardigan as Mary in Premiere. I know one day I’ll see her wearing it while I am still plugging away on my sweater!

I can’t wait to see everyone’s WIPS as they get further along. Next time I’ll have something to show!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Search for a Good Nights Sleep Continues

Thank you all for the Birthday wishes and thoughtfulness. I had a great birthday week. It seems that the older you get the longer the birthday celebrations stretch out and I do like that.

The purpose of the whole feng shui, cleaning and decluttering thing was to be able to sleep better. I've not finished feng shui-ing my home (the knitting area of my life is taking longer to organize than I had planned). But, my sleeping has not improved as much as I had hoped for. I thought maybe I had missed something big in my feng shui crash course so I took out every book on feng shui ( and a few knitting books) from the library. I also checked out a book called "If Buddha Came to Dinner". I liked the title and I really liked the book. It is essential a book on feng shui-ing your body through proper nourishment.

The premise is that rather than just "eating" you should "nourish" your body and soul. With the proper food combinations and an awareness of how your body reacts to certain foods, your body can more easily digest and eliminate and spend far less energy doing so. That makes sense, so in my continued search for a good night's sleep, I figured it was worth a try.

In a nutshell, the book says that the fundamental purpose of food is to provide energy. By eating processed, fried, sugary, chemical treated foods, complicated food combinations and too much food, our bodies work overtime to try to digest everything that we've put into it. So, if you nourish your body with pure and vital food in the right combinations it is easier for the body to break down food, absorb the nutrients and expel waste matter. If elimination doesn't happen regularly or efficiently, toxins build up and block the flow of energy.

For a little over a week now, I have been changing my usual feeding habits and caffeine addiction. After a couple of days of headachy caffeine withdrawl I'm down to just one cup of coffee in the morning-I can't get myself to give that up....I just savor that first morning cup of coffee too much. I have not had fried foods-french fries were a food group onto themselves. I'm even drinking "Green Juice" and find that I really like it. But, what I really like is the result! I don't feel sluggish or foggy. I feel light, rested, and energized. I no longer feel the need to down a cup of coffee and/or grab a sugary treat when I'm feeling sluggish and tired---because I'm not feeling sluggish or tired!

Th next phase in the Buddha program is a cleanse (sorry Jill). I'm not fully comfortable with the idea. But, the author explains that even with proper tooth brushing and flossing, a sticky plaque forms on our teeth so imagine what's going on inside and further down. The same sticky plaque forms on the intestinal walls and since we can't brush or floss down there, so the cleanse is the only way to go. Rest easy, I won't blog about the cleanse that I am preparing for.

I think of my inability to organize my yarn stash and knitting chaos as needing drastic measures like a cleanse. So, for the next 21 days, I'll be decluttering my colon and my knitting room.

The search for a restful night of sleep continues. Could it be that I enjoy knitting more than I do sleeping? We'll find out in 21 days.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Birthday Blog

Sorry I haven't be blogging very much. I usually blog when I something on my mind. Perhaps I've been much more focused lately. The flying thing has been uneventful (as it should be.) Perhaps it has been feng shui-ing my life and getting the taxes out of the way. The feng shui thing is going well. I've decluttered my condo-although I'm still working on the yarn/knitting organization. I'm working on feng shui-ing my colon ( but that's a whole other blog topic). And, I've been knitting up a storm without starting any new projects. Yay!

So, what's the deal?

Well, the deal is that I'm pretty happy. I'm not feeling weighed down and stressed out. A few weeks ago I found a poem that has helped me find peace, order and meaning and I'd like to share it with you.

-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Today is my birthday and I'm not usually one to talk about my birthday. In fact, I usually keep it on the very down low. This year is different. I'm in a good place in my life and I feel like I deserve my special day.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

In the practice of Feng Shui, your home is a metaphor for your life. "Life" is organized into 9 areas or Guas which create the Bagua. The basic idea of the practice of Feng Shui is to allow Life Energy or Chi to come in through doors and windows and move freely through each area thereby enhancing those aspects of your life. The position of the Bagua areas in the bagua grid correspond to the position of the areas in your home or apartment.

Each area of the Bagua represents a different aspect of your life; Career, Self Cultivation and Knowledge, Happy Family, Prosperity, Fame and Reputation, Love and Relationship, Children and Creativity, Helpful People and Travel and Health.Each area has colors associated with it and several have elements associated with them. The colors and elements are used as enhancements to Chi or as cures for anything blocking the movement of Chi.

Since discovering Feng Shui, I've self diagnosed myself as being slightly Obsessive Compulsive with Attention Deficit Disorder. So, does that also make me a Hypochondriac?

Phase One of my new Feng Shui life is DECLUTTERING. For the last two weeks or since my last blog, I've been obsessed with decluttering my life and I must say that I'm very pleased with the progress. My fear is that like so many other projects in my life, I'll get 90% completion and never total free myself of mental, emotional and spiritual clutter.

The original plan was to find feng shui in the bedroom for improved sleep. Following the feng shui guidelines, I removed all non-bedroom related stuff out of the bedroom, decluttered, rearranged furniture, cleaned out closets, bought new sheets and bedspreads, etc. As strange as it may sound, the feng shui guidelines made decision making much easier. Color choices became more obvious, placement of items became more obvious-the guidelines just seem to make sense.

With my new found feng shui expertise, I went to Knitwits and started my Feng Shui magic at the shop. Like a whirling dervish, I decluttered, stacked, tossed, rearranged and drove everyone in the shop crazy. I must get a possessed look about me because everyone just stays clear. Jill described the experience as "Scaaaaaarrrrrry!" That's "scary" with 6 a-s and 6 r-s.

As scaaaaaarrrrrry as it may have been, we can now walk through the office without straddling or moving any obstacles and we now have visible desktops. Yay!

After my bedroom and Knitwits, I did my Feng shui magic in my kitchen, living room, dining room and bathrooms. All the "bad" Feng Shui stuff (aka "clutter") was tossed out, given away or moved to the spare bedroom.

According to the Feng Shui guidelines, my spare bedroom is the place of Skill and Knowledge in the my bagua. So, it seems fitting that all of my knitting related stuff (2 bookcases full of knitting books and magazines, 6 very large moving cartons of stash, 2 Tupperware tubs of needles and notions, my Circular Solutions wall-hanging circular needle organizer, baskets, baskets and more baskets filled with zip locked UFOs and more) were relocated to the spare bedroom. The problem is....now I can bearly open or close the door. The room is filled from floor to ceiling with my "little knitting hobby".

For now, I'll keep the spare bedroom door closed.

I'm hoping that my Feng Shui will be so impressed with my progress that I'll get a little grace period in the Skill and Knowledge department. On my next free day, I'm going to lock myself in my Skill and Knowledge gua and make order out of chaos.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Finding my Feng Sui

I've never been a very good sleeper and I've been tired for thirty some years. At the brink of exhaustion, "Not Steve" suggested that I research making a Feng Sui bedroom. I've heard of Feng Sui and sort of understood what it is was but ignorant as to the what's, hows and whys so I shot him one of my glares. But as soon as I had a free minute, I googled "Feng Sui Bedrooms."

After 0.32 seconds, my search results were in front of me and I clicked on the first one, Feng Sui Bedroom Tips-How to Feng Shui Your Bedroom. I scanned down the seven rules listed and said to myself, "Okay, I can do this. It's worth a try."

As I read the finer print, things got more difficult. "Avoid sloped ceilings, have nothing hanging over bed, avoid "pointing arrows", remove all clutter......" Yikes, I have all those things. My Feng Sui is sunk!"

In a mini panic attack, I turned off the ceiling fan/overhead lighting fixture that hangs on my sloped ceiling and over my bed (thinking that I could trick my Feng Sui by making it less obvious) and turned on a table lamp. The energy immediately felt better. I cleared off my dresser and night stand and moved the piles of clothing into the other bedroom. Ahhhhh-even better energy. I closed all doors and opened the window to get fresh oxygen. Wow, this Feng Sui stuff is easy-good energy is really flowing now.

As I scanned my bedroom with my new Feng Sui eyes (as if I were now an expert), I was pleased with my results until I saw my "western bagua" with the floor stacked with magazines and the bookcases crammed and overflowing with knitting books, thirteen years worth of unfinished projects, miscellaneous skeins of yarn, unmatched knitting needles...and you get the picture-and it isn't pretty! All of the good energy was instantly zapped by my "western bagua"!

Light bulb moment-the biggest problem with my life is Clutter!
It is not the ceiling fan over my bed or the sloped ceiling-I have clutter everywhere-and not just in my Western Bagua! All of this clutter is disrupting my good energy!

I said to myself, "Junko, Free yourself from physical, mental and emotional clutter!"

As a go from shelf to shelf, drawer to drawer, room by room, I am clearing out the clutter and as a result I'm finding the mates to the unmatched knitting needles, the lost stitch markers, the forgotten projects that were started with good intentions, books and patterns that I thought I had lost. I'm also finding that by replacing the lost items and by starting new projects because I lost "the flow" (aka Feng Sui) of the previous project, I am creating even more physical, mental and emotional clutter. Clutter has a snowball effect.

I may be missing the hows, whys and whats of Feng Sui, but this Feng Sui thing has really motivated me. Now, if I could only learn the correct pronunciation maybe I'll sleep better.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Neti Pot

I'm sick! I came down with "the crud" on Sunday night after flying with my sick friend and fellow flight attendant Nancy. The Crud is that horrible hot and cold, achy, stuffy nose, puffy eyes, weak as a kitten, don't know if its a cold, flu or sinus infection, maybe I was hit by a truck feeling. You don't know if you're hungry, tired, cranky or all of the above, but you do know that you can't get comfortable and you can't function.

Desperate times call for desperate measures! Most people will go to the doctor or medicate with OTC drugs, I bring out the Neti Pot! If your not familiar with the Neti Pot, brace yourself-it's not for everyone. Sheryl knows its not for her-she gave me hers after giving it a few tries-so now I have a spare.

The Neti Pot is a complete sinus cleansing system. The ads read, "It naturally cleanses, refreshes, and protects the nasal passages, one of our body's first lines of defense against illness. Recommended today by doctors and pharmacists worldwide, the Neti PotTM has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to alleviate sinus and allergy problems. The Himalayan Institute introduced the Neti PotTM over 35 years ago."

The translation of all of that is "You stick the spout of a little blue plastic teapot up one nostril and "Neti tea" and nastiness dribbles out the other nostril and into your sink." For those of you who want to see how it really works, you can YouTube it. But, I think you can imagine just how NOT pretty it is.

The good news is that I really like the Neti Pot. It does clear up the nasal passage and leaves you feeling unplugged and fresher. Sarah Haney's friend, Brittany, introduced me to the Neti Pot. I want to be like Brittany so I tried it. After the first rinse, I was hooked! I actually had a mild addiction to the Neti Pot for a week or two. Since I know my addictive tendencies towards the Neti, I don't Neti regularly as they recommend, I only Neti when I'm sick.

I took advantage of a real day off yesterday-no shop, no Comair, no phone calls and no knitting (too sick to even knit)! I stayed in pajamas most of the day, Neti-ed, showered and put on clean pajamas. Today, I was semi-functioning thanks to the Neti Pot and Steve and Belinda for bringing me "A Feed a Cold Buffet" from Frisches. I went to the shop and quarantined myself in the office. Janet took one look at me and said, "WHoa!" I didn't think I looked THAT bad. After a few hours, I came back home to my pajamas and Neti Pot. I know I'm on the mends because I started knitting yet another new project- a faux ribbed baby sweater from the "Sweetess Book" in our new yarn called Crofter DK. The self patterning yarn looks and feels great and I don't want to put it down-but I did for the sake of the blog and the Neti Pot!

P.S. The Neti Pot is available is Walgren's and Wal-Mart in the Cold/Flu/Allergy Section.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Living the Dream-The Conclusion

We wake up early yet again and the crew meets in the hotel lobby. Captain Steve says, "Hey, I checked the company website this morning to check on our flights. Did you see that flight attendants have to re-enter their bids for next month?" Our jaws drop. "What?!!!!"

Nothing we can do before our flight, so off we go to the airport. We have two flights to work and a deadhead flight. A deadhead is where we just ride as passengers to get repositioned. We get through the day without a hitch. Amen.

Once we get to the hotel, I check the company website- and there it is flight attendants have until Thursday at noon to re-enter bids. Good. I can do it when I get home and I don't have to scramble to get on-line (no free internet in LGA). Oh and what's this? There is a change to my assignment for tomorrow. All three of my original flights have cancelled due to weather and all we have to do is deadhead back to Cincinnati. My luck is changing!

We get to sleep in (9:00 AM report instead of getting up at the crack of early). Beverly and I report to the lobby and find out that our pilots had to work a flight to RDU (Raleigh Durham). We head out to find that the flight is delayed by one hour. We don't have to work it, so we don't mind the delay. After an hour, the plane shows up and we board early to get away from the crowds. It's the Vomit Comet!

The crew of the Vomit Comet informs us that there is a maintenance issue and that there will be a further delay. The mechanic is shaking his head. Never a good sign.

Four and one-half hours later, the Vomit Comet is ready! We reboard and two hours later, we arrive in Cincinnati! Boom Done!

Thank Goodness for knitting!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Living The Dream-Day 2

Day 2

It's Valentine's Day and I have just one flight to work today. Go from JFK to ORD. Sounds easy, but the flight leaves at 7:00 AM, which means we report for duty at 6:00 AM, which means wake up at 5:00AM.

We get to the the airport in Kennedy and the "Vomit Comet" awaits us for another day of flying.

I must find the mental energy to put my March bid together and get it entered today. In addition to another warm Doubletree chocolate chip cookie, our hotel in ORD has free wifi in the rooms so this should work out well. Stay focused!

So much for focus, my Captain (his name is Steve, of course) wants to take the crew out for a Valentine's Day Lunch of Chicago Style Pizza. You may remember my Blog episode "Food Wars" where Janice's Chicago-style pizza beat my LGA Killer Canoli. Well, Captain Steve was treating at Giordani's, the exact site of my Canoli defeat. The March bidding can wait!

The Deep Dish Pizza looked more like Cheesecake than pizza! Beverly and I did NOT order the Heart Shaped Deep Dish Pizza pictured above. We split a thin crust spinach and vegetable loaded pizza (which in the rest of America, would be considered deep dish).
Needless to say, a 5:00 AM wake up, carb overdose with chocolate chip cookie chaser spells NAPTIME! The March bidding must wait!

After a long winter's nap, it's time to get serious! After two and one-half hours of hunting, searching, adding, subtracting, conferring with Nancy and dinking my MacBook trying to figure out how to get free wifi, I'm ready to start entering my bid! Entering the darn bid takes another hour, most spend watching the little hourglass spinning around-asking my to wait patiently.
Mission Accomplished-The March Bid is entered! In another week, I'll know if I did it right when the results are published. Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Living the Dream

I thought I'd give you a little taste of my Flight Attendant Life.

Day One-February 13, 2010.
I start out cranky.
It was to be an easy day-2 flights.
Fly from CVG (Cincinnati) to ORD (Chicago O'Hare) then from ORD to JFK (New York and you may have heard me refer to JFK differently-but I'll keep in family friendly).

Our airplane was late coming in so we knew we would be a little late going out. What we didn't know was that a passenger had gotten very sick and had proceeded to vomit all over Seats 19C, 19D, 20C and 20D. The seats and the carpeting would now need to be replaced and the Aft flight attendant jumpseat was now unusable. We named the plane the "Vomit Comet".

Have you ever wonder why your flight is delayed when the weather seems fine? The answers are too numerous and for the most part, you really don't want to know.

It would seem like a great time to get some knitting done while we waited-but NO. I just picked up my Bid Packet. The Bid Packet is the Flight Attendants' only chance to plan for the upcoming month and ask for days off, specific trips and so on. The packet comes out on a Wednesday (it's now Saturday) and the bids must be submitted by Monday at Noon. I don't have the mental energy or the time to go through the whole packet which lists in detail all 1300 possible trips.

I usually cross off the days I want off, then I cross off the trips that start too early or end too late. I also cross off trips that involve Canada (too much hassle with customs and paperwork), and the list goes on and on. I touch base with my friend Nancy, we try to fly together as much as possible but sometimes are schedules are too hard to coordinate. I want March 6th off for the Free Form Purse Class and I want the 19th-22nd off for a possible road trip. With those dates crossed off, I do some quick math and realize that it will not be possible to build my March schedule with those days off. Back to the drawing board-I may need to put Canada back into play :-(

After an hour and a half delay, we were ready to board. The passengers are all concerned about making their connecting flights. We try to address their concerns but we have concerns of our own. We only have a little over an hour to provide a full service to a full plane with a full first class cabin-we'll have to move fast. Luckily, I'm flying with Miss Beverly and she's easy to work with and delightful.

We make it to Chicago and quickly try to get the plane ready for the next flight to make up some time. Luckily, the plane is only half full. During our rushing around, I somehow broke my "Wings", my flight attendant name badge thing that sits over my left chest area. The protective backing of one of the prongs has partially broken off and the sharp point is exposed. I can neither get the pin off or cover the sharp exposed point. Needless to say, I spend the next two hours trying not to play with my chest. Good thing we're only half full and its dark!

We get to JFK and were now only an hour late. It is bitter cold and we wait over 30 minutes for the hotel van to pick us up. I'm now crankier, colder and suffering from multiple stab wounds. Once we get on the van, it proceeds to make three more stops to pick up more cold and cranky guests. I get my room key, my DoubleTree Chocolate chip cookie (the best part of the day) and head straight for bed.