October 18, 2010

Rhinebeck 2010

What an interesting time I had this weekend. Until I'm rolling around in hugs and hellos, I always forget what a pleasure it is to see so many friends, from far and near, that somehow I never get to see at another time or place. And of course, hanging out with my sister is always a wonderful time.


A Rhinebeck goat.


A look at Rhinebeck leaves.

But what I find myself wanting to write about today is the thoughts I had regarding the attire of the festival-goers. It is no secret that well-intentioned but horrific sweaters and other sundry knitwear abound at these shows a/k/a knitter conventions. There are knitters wearing sweaters that were knit two sizes ago and fit poorly and/or in a shape that never suited any body type they ever had. There are knitters wearing hundreds of dollars of bulky-weight, multicolored variegated yarn in a garter stitch coat that is really wearing them. There are knitters dressed head to toe in exquisitely crafted knitwear but they look freakish rather than fashionable.

Its all too easy to judge, and point and snicker a bit. Not to mention, that sort of "gallery of horribles" has been done. ho hum.

No, what occurred to me as I was wandering the festival (and I had plenty of time to think since I wasn't buying anything) is that really what is going on at Rhinebeck/Maryland/Estes Park/New Hampshire is akin to a Star Trek/Star Wars/sci-fi convention. Or anime convention or any gathering of like-minded folks with a fanatical focus on a sub-culture. What really is the difference between a knitter dressed up head-to-toe in every handknit she has made in the past year, and a Star Wars fan dressed up like Darth Vader? Both folks are having a great time reveling in their favorite past-time, in a venue sure to attract positive attention for the dress-up effort.

As they say, its all good.

Well, perhaps there is one difference. It would be pretty much impossible for most fans dressed up as their favorite characters, in full hair, makeup and regalia, to think that this get-up was acceptable streetwear. But I suspect it is possible for knitters to get a bit carried away with the beauty of their handiwork and thus get fooled into thinking that the beautiful shawl worn grandma style over the shoulders or pink faux-mohawk knitted hat or a striped knitted skirt with striped knitted legwarmers (not matching) was a good everyday fashion choice.

Perhaps, then, it might make sense for me to resurrect an old post that expresses my personal rules of knitting. I understand that this small list has resonated with many knitters over the years. Please especially note Number One:

Claudia's Top Ten Knitting Tips

10. If you are measuring the length of a knitted item on your lap or on the floor of the passenger side of a car, do not think for one single second that this measurement is correct.

9. Beware of knitting something to the specifications of someone else. No matter how much you love that person. Accept that the project will take way longer than you thought, and be twice as big a pain in the ass as you anticipated.

8. Know what colors look good on you and what shapes work with your body. Forgive yourself the first sweater project whose color or shape doesn't flatter you. Just don't make a second one with the same issue.

7. (Ripped off in substance from Bonne Marie) If you even half-suspect for one moment that the thing you've just made is hinky, it IS hinky. Rip out or fix accordingly. You won't ever wear it the way it is. You think you will. But you won't.

6. If you make a mistake in knitting, no-one dies or goes to jail. Therefore, be bold! Design something, tweak a pattern, try a new technique. Life is short -- seize the moment.

5. Never rip out after midnight. Nothing good can come of this.

4. Baste the damn sweater pieces together before sewing up for real and TRY IT ON! Seriously, why spend hours meticulously mattress stitching your latest project together without first assuring yourself that it's the right size? Unless, of course, you've got all the time in the world and don't frustrate easily, or you really don't care about the. right. size.

3. The knitting police are dead. There is no one right way to do ANYTHING in knitting. Prepare a one fingered salute to those who might give you a hard time for doing something your way.

2. Never believe a gauge swatch. Gauge swatches lie. They *so* do. Remain suspicious of gauge all the way through the project, but definitely make sure to check gauge again after knitting the first piece. Starting this process of gauge-warfare with a sleeve is the least painful option.

And.....drum roll please.....Claudia's Number One Knitting Tip is:

1. If you wouldn't buy that sweater ready-made at the T.J. Maxx, you've got no business knitting it. Back away from the knitting pattern, so matter how fun it looks to knit.

So let me be clear. After having thought it through, I totally get why the knitwear at Rhinebeck was chosen by the knitters in attendance. But perhaps a more judicious application of Rule Number One might be in order for the other 364 days of the year.

October 14, 2010

Goin' to Sheep and Wool...

Its that time again. Time for Rhinebeck!


I'm looking forward to seeing friends from near and far, eating a fabulous dinner at the CIA and replenishing my depleted soap supply.

Since I'm still working on projects from two years ago, I see no need for more fiber and yarn. But its always nice to fondle and pet it. I'm bringing my camera, because you never know when a good picture might present itself.

There is turkey chili on the stove, and Silvia has baked a cake. Kimba is meowing loudly but not allowing any snuggling, just like her usual. Time for me to go.

September 25, 2010

Goodbye to Igor

After seventeen years of being a good friend and companion, Igor had to leave us on Thursday night. He was doing OK right up until his final afternoon. Eating his favorite turkey, licking a bit of strawberry ice cream, going for a field trip out on the grass (he was an indoor kitty) lapping up the water from the floor of the wet shower.

But then he told us he was done.


He was pretty.


He was entertaining.


He loved his Auntie Sil.


He was a good sport (mostly).


He was a good snuggler.

We'll miss him.

October 19, 2009

Rhinebeck 2009

Where to begin....

I'll start with the thing that has no pictures, because I don't usually take pictures of people at shows. But seeing the faraway and the close-but-I-still-rarely-see-them friends is always the highlight of any show. My only regret of the weekend is not seeing everyone that I had hoped to see.

Those of you who are reading this for the pictures of the spoils, I will save you the time of reading through the rest of this post.


I bought alot of soap at the Got booth. Like pounds. This should last me for a good long while. The only yarn I bought was a skein of Socks That Rock mediumweight in the colorway "Tonalite" for a pair of husband socks. I am refusing to knit him anymore colorful socks until he learns not to abuse the privilege.

It shouldn't shock you that I was tempted by very little of the merch at this show. Sil was sleeping in my Fiber Room and can attest that there is plenty o'stuff in there of the fiber and yarn persuasion. Stuff which I am using up at the pace of a snail. More is not wanted.

So, let's move on to the show pictures shall we?


Me, with blow-up Evil Kitty. Note the ski parka over all of the sweater layers -- although I give kudos to the knitters so determined to show off their Rhinebeck sweaters that they went without a coat. To say this Rhinebeck was cold would be a vast understatement. I wore a thermal, a fleece, my Mariah and a ski parka. And I was still frozen.


Sil with ghost. Clearly this year I was all about the blow-up figures.


Brit specially requested some pictures of the Leicester Longwool sheep, this year's featured breed. Here is an especially handsome LL sheep.


And here are two of them.


Beautiful Rhinebeck leaves, and why is Sil pointing at that horse? Because she wanted me not to miss its pedicure.


Blissed-out goat as Sil makes a new best friend.

Finally, here are some faces of Rhinebeck:




The cute face of a Leicester Longwool.



And that concludes the Rhinebeck story for this year...


This year, like last year, Sil made us some dinner reservations to eat at the Escoffier restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. The link will take you to the dinner menu, just in case you want to drool. (The wild boar was divine.) Anyway, Sil and Norma and Laurie and I set out on Saturday night for a meal of deliciousness made and served by children. Well, not CHILDREN exactly, but incredibly cute twenty-year olds.

So, Norma and I being pyromaniacs (among many other things) ordered the Crepes Suzette for dessert. Mainly, I think, because we wanted to see our cute-as-a-button waiter Thomas flambe something.

Flames! Yeah baby! The dessert was, in addition to being highly entertaining, delectable.

Good food, good friends, fun times. Another Rhinebeck is in the books. Until next year.

March 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Silvia!

Today, March 12th, is the annual celebration of Silvia Day!

Sil and CLB in Interlaken.jpg

Silvia and Claudia, Interlaken Switzerland, September 2008

What is the best way to celebrate Silvia Day?

Well, Silva loves chocolate. So you could have a delicious piece of chocolate and say "Happy Birthday Silvia!"

Silvia also loves cheese. A nice big wedge of cheese, maybe a glass of delightful wine for a birthday toast.

Lastly, Silvia also loves to knit. Knit a few rows and think, Happy Birthday Silvia!

I plan on doing all of the above to celebrate the day of the best sister ever.


October 20, 2008

Rhinebeck 2008

My Rhinebeck started off just great.


That's a first place ribbon, just in case the first photo doesn't make that clear.

Apparently there is nothing like a ribbon in a state fair to happify me -- who knew?

Did this fortunate turn of events cause me to turn into a ribbon-fueled yarn buying machine?


Perhaps I bought some non-orange sock yarn. You'd have to ask Margene and Silvia (and Carole who took the picture).


Rhinebeck was crowded, showing little evidence of a down economy. For the sake of the vendors, I hope all those people were buying. From the crowdedness of the booths, it certainly looked like it.


The sheep, as always, were cute. This particular friendly sheepy was a lens-licker (the moment after this snap was taken). Mmmm, camera...tasty.


The leaves were in especially fine form in the Hudson River valley. And to answer someone's question: yes the colors are real! I'm a good Photoshopper, but I'm not THAT good.

Stay tuned for more about my Rhinebeck adventures on Wednesday, including photo evidence of our side trip to the Vanderbilt Mansion.

March 12, 2008

Its Silvia Day!

Today is March 12th, and that has meant only one thing since I was sixteen months old.



When she and I were just little kids, fighting like cats and dogs as small children are wont to do, my mother used to tell us that one day we'd be happy and thankful to have each other.

Well, mom certainly was right. I just couldn't ask for a better sister. Sister services provided by Sil include:

1. "That's ugly. Don't buy that." Sil's sage fashion advice has saved me from dorkdom on numerous number of occasions. The corollary -- "you have to buy that, it looks great on you" has pushed me out of the conservative fashion box that is my natural habitat on equally numerous occasions.

2. Brownies, banana bread, cake, chocolate chip cookies. That Sil is a baker, and a fine one.

3. Sil is an excellent travel companion, the perfect blend of adventurous yet relaxed. There is always time for a sit-down, a bit of knit-time and a nice cup of something to take the edge off. She regularly scores amazing deals on our Maryland/Rhinebeck hotels and, as a "sexy stew", she comes with flight benefits. YEAH!

4. She drives me around. Smart move, as she has excellent vision and I...well....don't. Putting aside that memorable incident with her Ford Fiesta and the motor home, this is a great arrangement for moi!

5. My sister is a bad-ass. This is inspirational.

6. Chocolate and cheese. Loves we share. Its the half-Swiss DNA.

7. Fun times. There are always fun times when my sister is around.

There is much more, but that is enough for today.

So, for me today is Silvia Day and it always will be. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIL!!

May 28, 2007

Massachusetts Sheep and Wool

Popularly known as "Cummington" for the place where its held, my tiny little state has a really kick-ass sheep and wool festival. OK, its small. But its so darned cute! An added bonus is that you can run into and actually talk to all of your friends mulitple times during the day. That just doesn't happen at the bigger festivals.

But enough of that, you want to see SHEEP. And I've sure got some good sheep pictures for you. Click any of these to embiggen.


Take enough pictures of sheep with a big ass camera, and one will "baaa" for you.


This sheep is smiling for the camera.


Incredibly cute sheepy face, right here baby. There is also a sheep on leash, just because I think seeing sheep led around on a leash is just hysterical.

But the absolute cutest sheep picture that I've ever taken is coming right up:


I was standing by the show ring watching the 4H kids show their sheepies, when I turned around and saw this little one with her lambie waiting to go on. I fired off a frame or two. She saw me and just mugged for the camera in the most adorable way. Seriously, HOW CUTE IS THAT?

I hadn't been at the festival for five minutes when I started running into folks telling me to go to the Journey Wheel booth because Jonathan had something for me. What was it?


Yes indeed, this is the world's first shark tooth spindle.

Amazingly, this spins just fine. and is doing a great job on the lovely yellow Coopworth fiber I purchased from Diane at Sojourner Sheep. The built-in notch works great and avoids edges of the other sides of the spindle.

Now, I wouldn't taunt you with pictures and descriptions of a fun fiber festival without offering up a little something to those of you unable to attend. One of the vendors at Cummington, Rick of Shepherd's Flock is offering up one pair of women's soft-sole short cuff slippers in any standard size that you specify -- exactly like the ones I wear everyday -- as a prize if you donate to my MS Ride. Here is a picture of my husband's slippers, which are exactly the same as mine except, you know, bigger:


Despite being the warmest, most comfortable slippers EVER, they are my cat Kimba's favorite cat toy. See how Rick makes 'em (with feline help) here.

The other prize today is brought to you by Marcy, Juno, Blogless Sharon and me:


I call this the "Festival Wannabe Prize Package". We have a lovely New Hampshire Sheep and Wool bag, a Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival hat, a delicious and much sought-after Grafton Fibers batt in coral/taupe and a smartly packaged handmade Peppermint soap. Winning this prize would almost be like you were there! As always, raffle rules and all prizes to date can be found here.

October 25, 2006

Stuff I Didn't Buy

With a little Photoshop advice from Kathy, I present an artistic collage of stuff other people bought at Rhinebeck.


Stash acquisition as art. Just sayin'.

October 23, 2006

The Animals of Rhinebeck

As promised, I went to Rhinebeck and bought soap. So it should come as no big shock that acquisition pictures will be lacking here. However, I did bring my new big-ass camera to take some shots for your entertainment.


The tree colors have been muted at best near me, so I was especially delighted to see Rhinebeck in fine leaf.

Today, all the Rhinebeck revelers (and those that didn't go) are back at work on a Monday. Being that this could be considered *depressing*, I thought I'd pull out all of my cute animal pictures to cheer you up. Seriously, a good sheep picture is worth at least a smile, right?

In solidarity with my friends using dial-up, please click on the thumbnail to bring up the larger picture:


This goat has a naughty little gleam in his eye. Can't help liking him/her.


With such bunny cuteness on offer, I can see why folks end up in this position.


Sheepy togetherness.


Sheepy friendliness.


Llamas out for a walk.

General impressions of this festival:

-- I have NEVER seen so many people attend on the Saturday. The barns were amazingly crowded, and some booths were absolutely inpenetrable until Sunday.

-- This was the biggest knitblogger gathering I've ever witnessed. The good: seeing old friends and making new ones. The bad: never having enough time to spend with any one person.

I've got some good pictures of other people's stuff that I'd like to artistically arrange in Photoshop. This puts aside the issue of me not really knowing how to use Photoshop. But I'm an optimist, baby.

May 08, 2006

Home From Maryland

Home again from a wonderful festival weekend in Maryland. As always, the best part is hanging out with old friends and making new ones. Especially nice was randomly running into bloggers whose blogs I enjoy. The bathroom line is prime meet-and-greet territory, where I met Jody and Christy. And learned that Jody doesn't really live in Savannah. Who knew? :) Later on, I ran into Ann Marie where, instead of saying "I love your blog!" that came out as "girl, you crazy!" Um, sorry Anne Marie. Don't sic Petey on me.

I was delighted to meet Jodi, the designer of one of my favorite sweaters. Sadly it was too warm a day to wear it, although I had it with me on the trip. It was also great to chat a bit with Julia of Vesper sock yarn fame. A real highlight of the weekend was meeting Rock Chick, and I regret not being able to spend more time chatting up Ms. RC. And I finally got to meet the beautiful Eileen, after missing her last year. Of this, I have a picture:


Maybe she'll post again very soon?

Thanks to those folks who read here who took the time to say hello during the weekend. That was very sweet of you. Further links I cannot type at this time, as duty is calling. Let me end with some pictures and commentary on the weekend and its spoils.


Baby alpacas -- seriously what could be cuter?


Well, the llama is pretty darn cute too.


Mmm. Lunch.

So, let's get this over with. I bought no fiber in Maryland, and really wasn't even all that interested in looking. Granted, I might have broken down at Stefania's booth succumbing to the entreaties of an absent friend, had we not had to run out of the festival THAT MINUTE or risk jeopardizing one of my favorite parts of the weekend (the Nordie's run). And yes, I spent way more $$ at said Nordie's than at the festival. This does not make me a mutant, despite what they say.

But I did get an interesting selection of things that I'm really excited about.


I love this so much, that I've worn it since I bought it at R.E. Piland Goldsmiths on Sunday. Its a beautiful piece, and I really enjoy buying things like this directly from the guy who made it. Apparently, jewelry was on my mind, because I also bought a gorgeous shawl pin from him. I've made a fair number of shawls that I don't wear outside of the house very often. Perhaps using this lovely pin on the shawls might make me actually wear them. We will see.

Continuing the jewelry theme, I was really impressed with the glass art produced by new vendor Moving Mud.


This piece was advertised as a shawl pin, ergo the pin sitting next to it. Frankly I couldn't see this as a shawl pin (I'd be worried that I'd knock it against something and break it). So, when I saw Silvia picking one out, I paid no attention until - as we were walking away from the booth -- she told me she planned to make a pendant out of it. Fabulous! I made her walk right back to the booth and help me pick one out for me. I've got the black silk cord and the findings for a lobster claw clasp. I just need to find the time to put this baby together.


Look at the cuteness of the sheepy cutting board (bought from Stacey at Made by Ewe. Also pictured is the one (1) skein of yarn that I actually bought this weekend (black Koigu for the heels and toes of husband-socks) and the Carrot colored Lorna's Laces gifted to me by Juno. I did look for solid colored sock yarn, but frankly I didn't see anything as nice as what Sundara offers, so I'll just wait and order as I need it. Lastly, there are the spoils of an hour spent in the souvenier line. A delightful hour, spent in the company of the fabulous Lara, Cassie and Leigh.

Oh, I lied. There was also a book, a huge amount of soap, chocolate and otherwise and husband slippers made by Rick of Shepherd's Flock. As I said earlier, I LOVE buying things from the person who made them.

So. A fine Maryland Sheep and Wool. Its always over too soon.

May 06, 2006

Maryland Day 1

Just a quick "hey" from the festival.


The sheep are still cute. See:


The seeing of the people is lovely, and I got to say hi or hang with lots of knit blogger types today. Time to regroup for dinner, as the pit lamb pita was a long time ago.

I did buy stuff (a small but interesting array) but no fiber or yarn. Is there hope for me tomorrow?

May 05, 2006

KAMS Update and Bags Are Packed

On Wednesday after posting my plea for Knitters Against MS, I packed up my laptop and repaired to the library for the day. Now, when I get a new email, my laptop makes a little clicking noise. And I was fully hooked up to the library's wireless.

There I am, in the dead silence of the library, when my laptop starts clicking hard, fast and continuously. People stared. I turned off the sound, opened my email and was stunned.

Knitters REPRESENT, bay-bee. They support their own, they come through for their peoples. It took me most of two days to clean up my exploded in-box, but the 48 hour total is:


Thank you so much to everyone who donated. Of course, there are seven weeks until the Ride and lots more fabulous prizes to showcase. And the need is great: read the comments to the last entry for proof. So I'm thinking we aren't at all done yet.

ETA: Margene thinks the new goal should be $10,000. I agree with her. Let's do it!

More good news: its Sheep and Wool time!. Silvia is in the house and we are set to go. Well, mentally set to go. The bags? Not so packed.

The mobile blogging device (laptop) is coming with me, so chances are good for a mid-festival update here. If you are interested in a festival shopping guide, I really don't have much to change from last year's guide.

As you know if you read here alot, I'm not so keen on buying more yarn and fiber these days. I might be in the market for books and some solid colored sock yarn. I'm buying more chocolate soap from Lori at Got and the husband has requested new slippers from the very cool folks at Shepherd's Flock.

But I'll do my very best to enable others into buying cool stuff. I'm evil like that.

March 10, 2006

Its Silvia Day Today!

Today is Silvia Day! My one and only baby sister is turning the big 4-0 this weekend, and its time to celebrate. She will be on a lovely beach vacation on the actual day, so let's part-ay today!

Let's open a bottle of vintage champagne and start the festivities, shall we. What would a big sister's tribute to her little sister be without a few embarrassing baby pictures? heh heh heh....


Here we have Silvia, a tiny babe, already showing some personality. See, Sil isn't so big on doing stuff that Authority wishes her to do. Clearly, picture taking was not on her agenda that day, aye? Next, we have the photo that I call, Silvia The Reluctant Ski Bunny. I have cut my dorky self (and this is not self-deprecating -- seriously-horned-rimmed-glasses dorky) out of this picture, but *I* was smiling.

Let's move on in Silvia's life to high school. This next picture I am going to get seriously in trouble for. However, since I just gave her a very nice birthday pressie, I'm calling in some chips to show you...Cheerleader Sil! OK, I am now ducking and running....

On to the 1990's, here is a Happy Ski Bunny Silvia and Claudia. Yes, the ski outfits on us girls are bright. And your point is?

To make up for the embarrassing life snapshots (and I have worse ones, as she undoubtedly has of me), let us conclude with the "toast" portion of the evening.

Top Five Reasons Why I'm Glad Silvia is My Sister

5. She is the best possible companion at a sheep and wool. See how much fun we have? A sheep and wool just isn't the same without Silvia.

4. She is woman enough to forgive me the incident involving rollerskates and stairs and just a tiny little push. The Ford Fiesta incident much later in life helped even the score. ;-)

3. She is a maker-of-stuff just like I am, and understands the knitting thing as few others do.

2. It is very comforting to know that someone else views the world in a similar warped way.

1. She is funny and beautiful and a true original. What's not to love?


January 23, 2006


We're sorry, but Claudia can't come to the blog right now. She is busy putting her house back together again after a little massive insane blogger party Chez Claudia yesterday.


Claudia and the beautiful Martha say that two green Rogues are better than one.

Regularly scheduled programming will resume shortly.