29 August 2015

Stitch 'n Pitch 2015

This past Tuesday, a bunch of us attended this year's Stitch 'n Pitch game featuring the Philadelphia Phillies (yay!) vs. the New York Mets (not yay!).  The Mets are in first place, and the Phillies in last place in their division.  But nonetheless, we were undeterred in our enthusiasm.  The end result of the game was a loss by one run, but it was a good game and a wonderful time.

On my way to meet a friend at the subway, I passed a school in the neighborhood, and thought this yarn-bombing on the railing of the access ramp into the school building was pretty.

Then, while waiting for the friend, I was standing near the subway entrance next to one of the clinics of the Philadelphia Dept of Public Health.  Where I noticed for the first time ever a uniquely named garden behind the fence surrounding the parking lot.

If you look closely, you can see that the little plaque says, "STD Garden."  There are "Chlamydia Tomato", "Hepatitis Pepper," and "HIV Tomato" markers, among other similarly-named plants.  It was ... interesting ...

Anyway, I was the last one to get to the park, so of course I had to see this picture, which was supposed to indicate that they waited so long, one had nearly starved to death.

But eventually we were all there, and ready to go inside.  (I'm the one in the red shirt wearing sunglasses.)

And proceeded to take some more ridiculous photos.

Well, you get the gist of things, right?

The giveaway this year was a project bag, and I for one really like it!



We really lucked out, the weather was just perfect, which is not something that usually is the case in late August in Philadelphia.  There were lots of other knitters, crocheters, embroiderers, etc. in our section, and we were a LOUD bunch if nothing else.  :-)

This is the fourth time I've gone to Stitch 'n Pitch, and each time  has been more fun than the last.  In my dream world, I'd love to go to a Pittsburgh Pirates Stitch 'n Pitch too, but like I said, that is my dream world.  In the meantime, I'm more than happy to see the Phillies, and though it's better when they win, just going to a game is enjoyable in itself.

Even if you are not a baseball fan, if you go with a bunch of friends, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll have a good time.

23 August 2015

The Weekend

Yesterday, I posted the following as my Facebook update:

"Today is one of those perfect weather days.  And it's Saturday.  Here is my plan for the day:

1. Relax.
2. Breathe
3. Spend time outside with The Tim and Dug the Doodle Dog.
4. Eat and drink whatever I want.
5. Not think about work or any of the other annoying/depressing things I usually think about, or can't help thinking about.
6. Be as happy as I can be.
7. Read.
8. Knit.
9. Listen to music and/or watch stupid things on TV, while cuddling kitties.
10. Laugh a lot.
11. Remember to be as happy as I can be and be grateful.
12. Stay off the computer for a change.

I am seldom able to convince myself that a day should be like this, because there are always Things That Must Be Done.  But not today.

So I'll see you tomorrow."

That is exactly how my day turned out - it was wonderful.  And I have to say, I didn't miss the computer all that much.  The only time I was frustrated was when I wanted to check some weird question on Google, and couldn't.  I think it didn't bother me that much because I knew I could use it today.  I'm sure I could survive without being online, but I do enjoy it as a way to keep up with friends and family, you know?

Anyway, I finally finished the first watermelon sock!  To be honest, I assumed when I started them, that I would be finished and wearing them by now.  But as I remind myself, it's not a contest, and I will definitely be motivated to finish the second sock soon.  I can wear them all next summer if I want to ...

Today has also been a quiet, somewhat lazy day.  But I have done some laundry, completed a couple of errands, and obviously, used the computer - I posted some pet pictures on Instagram, besides other things.

I would encourage you to "take a day off" as it were.  Everything and everyone was still around and doing their usual things today online.  And maybe they had a lovely day yesterday as well, I don't know.

I do know that *I* did.  :-)

18 August 2015

Not Quite Ten on Tuesday

Even though I don't participate every time, I always look forward to the topic for Ten on Tuesday.  The person who coordinates it, Carole, is on vacation for a couple of weeks, and so it is not "officially" happening.  As a result my dears, I fear that you are stuck with thoughts and activities that are going on with me right now.

First of all, thank you so much for your kind and very encouraging comments on the completed back of my Custom Fit Sweater!  I know a lot of you are big-time sweater knitters, and it's not big deal to you, but it feels like a major accomplishment to me.  I'm ready to start on the front, but want to wait until I have a quieter evening, so I can get myself well underway.  But it's definitely gonna happen.

As you may or may not remember, back in May, our Pip kitty had to spend nearly a week at VHUP because he was suffering from a urethral blockage.  He is much better, and fortunately has not had any recurrences, but apparently it traumatized him more than we realized, as he has been spraying.  Ugh.  We are doing pretty well at cleaning up and our house doesn't smell as awful as it could.  The vet had us put him on a special stress-reducing food, and we bought three Feliway diffusers and put one on each floor.   That was a little more than two weeks ago, and he really hasn't improved.  So the vet has now prescribed a relaxer medication in a transdermal gel that we will put inside his ear flap to see if that helps.  I'm just grateful it's a gel, since getting Pip to take a pill was a multi-hour, multi-person operation.  Hopefully this will help.  Poor Pipster - he used to be the most chill of the kitties!

Heat.  Humidity.  They need to leave.

Tomorrow is my last class in my 5-week session of learning how to use Pilates equipment.  I've really enjoyed the class, and even in just these five weeks, have made progress and become more flexible.  There's another 5-week session for the next level, but I don't think I can afford it right now.  I'll try to do my mat Pilates at home regularly, so I don't lose whatever I gained in the class.

I know a few of you appear to be regular readers of my other blog.  Last week, I started what I hope will be a regular Friday or Saturday event, and shared various links with anyone reading.  I know I always enjoy those posts on other blogs, as long as that isn't all that is ever there!  But anyway, here is last week's post, if you care to look.

My great-nieces and great-nephew in Tucson recently had their photograph taken by a professional photographer who is a friend of their mom's, and wanted to build her portfolio.  I love the photo they sent to us, and decided to share.  I don't often have pictures of them, so I feel that they don't get "equal time," as it were.

From right to left:  Jude, Lola, Anya, Omi (Naomi)

They are great kids, and even though we have only seen them in person a few times, we keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter, my sister, and regular old snail mail.  We are hoping to make a trip west to see them, as well as their cousins and my sister and her husband.  Maybe next spring.

That's it for now.  What's new with you?

13 August 2015

OMG - Knitting!!

It's been a while since I've had any knitting to show you here.  It's also been a while since I've been knitting, to be honest.  The summer has been a weird one, as far as most of my usual activities and interests.  But I've been getting my mojo back in several areas, and thankfully, knitting is one of them!

I stayed home from work today.  When I got up this a.m., I was extremely dizzy and felt awful.  So I went back to bed for a few hours.  When I got up, the dizziness was nearly gone, but I still felt crappy.  So I decided to fix a cup of tea and watch some of the "Today Show," then I took a shower, which helped.  I decided I felt good enough to knit a bit, and decided to return to my Custom Fit sweater.

I can't remember how much, if anything, I've said here about that.  Last October, I took a class at Loop to knit a sweater using Amy Herzog's Custom Fit system.  I think it's brilliant, and the few people I knew at that time who had tried it were absolutely in love with the results.  Since my sweater knitting takes place mostly in my head, I decided to try it.

I got started on my sweater, and was zipping along on the back, and then the holidays arrived.  So I put it all aside, figuring I'd pick it up again afterwards.  I did, a couple of times, but would always put it aside for something "shiny" ... I think since I've never had a sweater really turn out well, I was subconsciously avoiding it.  But you know what?  I LOVE sweaters, and want to knit them!  So today I picked it up, and was embarrassed to notice how little was left to do before the back would be finished.  I mean, it took about 45 minutes, and then I had one piece of it to show:

Not the best photo, but it is the one that shows the color most truly. And it looks rather blobby, since it's unblocked, but it's KNITTING, people!!!!

I've told myself that I really want to finish it no later than October (and hopefully before), so that I can wear it when cooler weather is here, and so I can actually have it on my person a year later.  (I know, that's just sad.  But what are you gonna do?)

I have to say that it improved the day greatly, and made me feel like I got at least one thing accomplished.  Right now (early evening), I am feeling a lot better, with just the tail end of a headache, and a little tiredness hanging on, but thankfully, I don't think I'm getting really sick.  Phew!

In other news, I hope those of you who - like me - are lucky enough to be one of the few, the chosen, (dare I say the brilliant??!!), have been celebrating today.

Happy Left-Handers Day!

And before you go, let me suggest that you join us over at Kim's blog for the annual Knitters' Hunk and Knitters' Chick contest, which is now underway.  It just started the other day, so you have not missed a lot.  It's so much fun, and often the comments are as much fun to read as voting in the contest is! Not only is it a bright spot in each day, but to quote my mother, "It sure beats spittin'!"  (She said that a lot.  As usual, I have no idea ...)

Anyway, go and vote each day - you'll be glad you did.  :-)

08 August 2015

Saturday Smiles

Happy Saturday!   I hope you are enjoying the weekend so far.

At the beginning of the year, the One Little Word I chose was "grace."  Part of that was a promise to myself to be present in the moment, and mindful of the good things.  So today I have decided to tell you the things that have made me smile.

Outside:  a beautiful day.  Sunny, and the heat wave is over.  So going for a morning walk with Dug was really enjoyable.  There was a little breeze, and the air had a tiny chill to cool you.

We met a 12-week old Old English Sheepdog puppy named Blue, who was so wiggly and so kissy, he could barely stand up.  He thought Dug was the best.

On our way back inside, we talked with our next-door neighbor for a while, and Dug and their maltese, named Snowflake, hung out together.  They just got back from a vacation trip to Minnesota, which sounded like it was a lot of fun (plus they missed the heat wave, lucky them!).

Inside:  the kitties and Dug are all well.  Pip seems to have recovered from his urethral blockage earlier in the summer, and his fur is growing back. And thought I hestitate to say it, because I don't want to jinx it, but I think the products recommended by the vet to keep him from spraying are working, since for two days I have not seen (or smelled) any evidence of it.  Keep your fingers crossed.

I've been doing much better keeping the house cleaned up.  Besides out basement, we have three floors.  I have been making an effort every week to thoroughly clean and dust one floor, and dust and "clean up" on the other two.  That way, the whole house stays in pretty good shape, and I don't get discouraged thinking I need to spend hours cleaning and scrubbing.  I used to do this, but got out of the habit, and it really works better for me when I do it this way.

Otherwise:  I've also been getting back to my exercise/being active routine, slowly but surely. I signed myself up for a 5-week class at a local Pilates studio, learning how to use the equipment (which, from appearances, could pass for torture-chamber material).  This week was the 3rd week and I can tell I'm becoming more flexible. I've also been doing more other things, and have some ideas for what else I want to try to incorporate.  I had thought early in the year that I would try running a little bit, but I've only specifically gone out to do that once.  Which was OK, but I think I need to get going on some other things before I try again, so as not to discourage myself.

And I don't care what is going on, I HAVE to smile whenever I see these sweet and goofy faces:

I hope your Saturday - and your whole weekend - finds you with at least one thing to smile about!

03 August 2015

The End of a Love Affair

Just so you know - this is a long post.  :-)


When The Tim and I moved to Center City Philadelphia so many years ago, we were thrilled that we lived within easy walking distance of so many places and things we liked to do.  Our neighborhood is only a short distance away from all kinds of fun and interesting places, and even if we don't patronize all of them, we are happy that most of them exist.

We moved into our house in December, and after the first of the year, I was walking home and noticed that a yarn store had opened, and it was only a few blocks away!  I went in and looked around, and there were so many beautiful colors and textures.  And the people there were so nice and welcoming, and mentioned that they would be providing knitting classes.  That was extremely exciting to me.

You see, when I was in the eighth grade, one time when I was home sick from school for a few days, Mrs. Regele from across the street came over with a ball of bright red yarn and knitting needles.  She cast on some stitches and taught me the knit stitch.  It was so much fun, and I knitted a very wonky-looking, very long scarf.  Sadly though, by the time I had used up all of the yarn, she and her family had moved away.  I didn't know anyone else that knit and could show me what to do next, so that was that.

Fast forward to being an adult, living in Oak Park, Illinois.  Once when we were at a local strip mall for something, I noticed a Lee Wards (anyone remember them?) with a sign offering knitting classes.  I signed up, and for 4 weeks learned how to cast on, knit, purl, and cable (still one of my faves), and bind off.  I bought some yarn, and made a scarf for The Tim, a scarf for my mother, one for myself, a baby blanket for my then new niece Annie, and a pillow for my sister Mary Ellen.  Each one was mostly garter stitch, but they were all exciting to make, and filled with love for the recipients. I do recall that when I made the two pillow pieces, I had no idea how to join them, so a friend of my mother's did the finishing for me.  

Then we moved to DC, and I didn't know anyone who knit, and it really didn't occur to me that there were yarn stores - you know, other than just places that sold overall craft supplies.  But we had a busy life and I didn't really think at all about knitting, except occasionally when I would see a sweater I liked in a store and wish I could knit sweaters.

So when I saw that Rosie's Yarn Cellar (then called Sophie's Yarns) was right near my house, and they offered lessons, I decided to sign up.  At that time, you learned to knit by knitting a sweater!  (As time went on, they started with smaller items and more basic instructions.)  It was exciting, puzzling, frustrating, and completely addicting.  Lisa Myers, the owner and instructor, was an English Ph.D. who was an amazing knitter, and had decided to leave academia and open a yarn store.  No matter how many times I had the same question over and over, or needed the same help over and over, she would be there, answering and fixing.  If it drove her nuts, she never showed it, and she truly believed that if you wanted to knit something that had a technique you didn't know, you could do it no matter what.  (And I have to say is that, to this day, my knitting limitations are all mine, all in my head.)

I spent way too much time there, bugging Lisa and other staff with questions that I now know were usually very basic, and I have to say, often just kind of stupid.  But the help, encouragement, and friendliness there made it such a wonderful place to be.  There was yarn, needles, classes, other knitters, books, so much to learn all of the time!  Over the years, I spent many happy hours there, even when [most of the time] I would buy nothing, or just something like a stitch holder.  Never did I feel any less important to the shop than those buying hundreds of dollars worth of yarn.

A few years in, Lisa asked me if I would be able/willing to fill in on weekends when people called out sick, or couldn't be there, since I lived so close.  I was *thrilled* that she asked me, and though I didn't feel like a very accomplished knitter, wasn't too worried, because I knew the other person working with me would probably know more.  

A few years after that, they needed someone to work on Sundays, as one of the usual people was no longer able to do so.  I was fortunate enough to be able to do that, and even eventually teach some classes.  I was bus captain a couple of times for the annual trek to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I learned a whole lot more about knitting, yarn, and was enveloped in a universe that I would have never known about.  Rosie's has always been there for me.  When I quit my job a few years back, Lisa arranged for me to pick up more hours so that our finances would not be completely desperate.  

But after Saturday, September 5, Rosie's will no longer exist.  For a myriad of reasons, Lisa made the difficult decision to close the shop just a few months shy of its 20 year anniversary.  

To say I am sad is an understatement.  I am person who gets extremely attached to things and places, and I have been very attached to Rosie's.  It has given me not just a hobby, but a skill that has taught me to be patient and more persevering than ever.  It has given me confidence in my own abilities.  It has allowed me to meet some of the "knitterati" and count them as personal friends.  My world has been exponentially expanded, personally and knitting-ly (I know, not a word).  This blog (which is read by tens of people on its best day) would probably not exist if someone I'd worked with early on didn't keep saying, "God, Bridget, you need a blog if you want to connect with the knitting world!" A lot of people that I think of as good friends are those I met and/or worked with, at Rosie's.

It's also going to be hard for me to convince Dug that we can't go inside any more.  He loved going there, and I have actually had to remember not to walk past there when it's not open, because he just parks himself at the door ... On Sundays, all I'd have to say is "Wanna go to Rosie's?" and he would jump up ready to go (and Dug *never* jumps up otherwise).

Fortunately, there are other yarn stores in Philadelphia (a few from Rosie's alums):  Hidden River Yarns, Loop (also right near me, they are gonna be sorry!), Yarnphoria, and The Tangled Web.  They are all great shops run by nice people, and I'm extremely grateful that they are here.  

But you know how it is - you never get over your first love.  :-)

Thank you Lisa, for changing my life for the good in more ways than I could even count.  I am happy to have you as a friend, and wish you more than the best always.  

I'll still be knitting, and forcing you read about it sharing projects and other ramblings with you, so I'm not disappearing.  Life does go on, after all.  It would just be nicer if the universe did things MY way ... yet, the universe never even asks me for my opinion.  Go figure.