Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How do you know it's fall?

We've been discussing this topic at our house quite a bit. I maintain that fall arrives when the sky turns that lovely vibrant blue against the snowy white clouds. And when it gets cool enough at night that one needs a blanket to stay warm.

Doug maintains that fall has arrived when the first leaf is found on the ground.

Carrie claims that fall arrives when you go back to school, or the fall equinox, or whatever that thing is called. She was especially glad when I told her that it happens in September, not August.
I have, however, learned a new way to determine fall's arrival.

It would be the arrival of the big fall order of yarns from the warehouse.

This year I was prepared. I spent the morning boxing up and taking away the summer yarns. So long Carezza! Bye-bye Just Bamboo! Hasta la vista Hempathy! Then I dragged all the other yarn out of the closet so that I could restock and reorganize myself.

After a bite to eat, I drove up to the warehouse to retrieve the order. 10 very full garbage bags of wool later, this is what the shop looked like:

I would add that there were still four bags of yarn in the trunk. I seem to have forgotten that they were there. Impressive, yes? What was I thinking?!

After hours and hours of labour, moving yarn, scratching my head, and sorting, I was done.

A very nice recovery, if I do say so myself. The closet is now full. As in be careful when you open the door or it'll explode out like a jack-in-the-box full. There is a box of yarn under the cradle holding inventory. AND there are three bags of wool in the trunk of my car.

In addition to the storage unit.

Have I mentioned that my next shop is gonna be a bit bigger?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stitch 'n Pitch

My daughter and I attended the Stitch 'n Pitch event sponsored by the TNNA and major league baseball, along with two friends. Did I remember to bring my camera? Nope. Did my daughter remember to bring hers? Nope. There are various blogs with photos of the big event here
Alas, none of us are in the photos. "Next year," says we, "we'll remember our cameras.

In any event, we went to the game. Ordered the tickets via telephone too late to be mailed, so we were retrieving them at the event. Per the telephone instructions, we presented ourselves at Gate 1, photo ID in hand. No tickets there. I persevered, insisting on speaking to all four employees at the window. Carrie was becoming increasingly nervous that I would explode --do the whole Mama Bear routine and everything. But I didn't. Why? Because I am woman!

In any event, Gate 1 advised that we needed to go to Gate 9. Carrie and I hauled off to Gate 9, halfway around the stadium. Whereupon we were advised to return to Gate 1 for our tickets.

Carrie cowered there in the rain, shielding herself from the inevitable falling debris.

What did I do? Very calmly said, "No. No we don't pick up our tickets at Gate 1. I spoke to each and every employee at Gate 1, and the tickets are not there. We pick them up at Gate 9."

At this point, Carrie thinks that perhaps the Second Coming is imminent. After all, I remained calm in the face of this adversity.

The hapless employee just looked at me blankly, discerned accurately that I was not moving, and started talking to people there at the "will call" gate. Are we surprised that the tickets were indeed to be retrieved from Gate 9? Not a bit. Are we surprised that I was as calm and collected as I was? Not me. As I explained to Carrie on the way back to Gate 1, the point of talking to everyone at Gate 1 was to be able to assure the folks at Gate 9 that I was indeed at the right place to pick up my tickets, saving myself having to do the table-tennis routine of bouncing from Gate 1 to Gate 9 to Gate 1 to Gate 9 ad nauseum. Speaking sternly to the folks at Gate 1 insured that I would be able to talk to each and every one of them. (I noted her filing this battle tactic away carefully. I hope and pray that it won't come back to haunt me.)

With tickets in hand, we waltzed past the ticket-takers and proceeded to the goody table. After all, the goody bag was the whole reason for being there, right? Baseball? Did someone say something about baseball?

Apparently there had been some hype about the large dollar value of the bag contents. I wasn't aware of that, so I couldn't be disappointed about the contents of the bag. My bag:Three nice pattern books, a handful of tear-off patterns (available from any Michael's, Wal-Mart or Zellers), a Soak sample, a free admission to the Creative Festival in October, and a ball of yarn. Where's the yarn?

Carrie had much the same bag as mine, although her magazines were different. I received the purple-ish 100 gr. ball of Sirdar, which Carrie promptly started knitting into a scarf for a certain cousin's Christmas gift. Purple and glitter. What more could a young lady want? She scored the two balls of Sirdar Legends DK ... very nice looking yarn and she has proudly added it to her stash. (Hmm. Note to self--I should get a photo of her stash. It's so cute -- and tiny!) She also got a ticket to the Creative Festival and we are planning a girls' day out in October, providing she doesn't get scheduled to work that day.

So the game started and the Jays promptly fell behind. About the beginning of the 7th inning, friend Irene leaned over and said to me, "We could make the 9:13 train if we left now." I thought about it for a minute or less and decided that I was just fine--the night was young and hope still springs eternal.

In the bottom of the 9th inning, the Jays tied the game. It had become quite apparent that Irene and Kathy were far more devoted baseball fans than Carrie and I. I had a feeling I was in trouble, but I had to ask. I leaned over to Irene and said, "So what's your position on extra innings?" To which she calmly and quickly replied, "The last train doesn't leave until midnight."

Fortunately the Jays came through with a nice base hit and brought two runners in to win the game. Whew!

All in all, it was a great evening and one that certainly bears repeating. Next year I'll promote it a bit heavier at the store and see if we can get a larger gang down there.

And an update vis-a-vis the bully employer. It is most fortunate that Doug and I are friends with lawyers. If the paycheque does not arrive in the mail by tomorrow (if it was in fact mailed on Monday as the owner claimed it would be, Friday should be plenty of time), the lawyer will send a written demand for payment along with an outline of the next steps which will be taken. The lawyer actually liked the idea of a picket line, but Carrie isn't quite that brazen.


After all, she IS my daughter.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I know this is supposed to be a knitting blog. Well, primarily a knitting blog.

But today's post isn't about knitting. Not even related.

It's about bullies. You know who they are -- the little kids in the sandbox who won't let you play with their shovel. The kid who takes every yellow dump truck so that no one else can play with them.

When they grow older, they are the ones who push the little kids off the swings so they can swing. Push themselves to the front of the line so that they get to go down the slide without waiting.

In high school, they are the ones who decide who is "cool" and who is not. They decide who gets pushed into the lockers, locked into the lockers, laughed at, jeered at, and/or ignored.

Sad to say, bullies don't magically outgrow their need to bully when graduation happens. No, folks, they continue on into the adult world.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, they end up in positions with so little power that they end up in the corner by themselves, sulking. If you aren't lucky, they end up in an office where they manipulate, lie, and twist themselves into a sort of power.

If you are really unlucky, they end up owning businesses. Making life for some hapless employee hell.

Being who I am, I've had my fair share of bully experiences. I don't see myself as someone who doesn't take crap from anyone. Others may have a different view of me--but I can only speak of my personal view. And I don't stand up for myself very well. Or for those I love.

I've tried to teach my children to treat others kindly, be respectful of others, of authority. Mayhaps I did too fine a job with my daughter.

You see, she's been working for a couple of years for someone who in my opinion is a bully. For most of the time, his boorishness has been directed at others. She thought things were pretty good in the workplace, that they understood each other and things were cool.

Unfortunately, she was incorrect in this belief. She ended up looking for and acquiring a new job. His parting shot? Because he could (because he employs teens who have little recourse and even less respect from the powers that be), he has withheld her last paycheque. In violation of the Labour Standards Act, and every shred of moral decency.

You may be wondering the point of this post. I am too, quite frankly.

I wish that I had encouraged her to quit months ago when I became aware of the lengths to which this guy would go to make himself feel better by bullying his employees, both past and present.

I wish that I knew how to be a more effective advocate for the disenfranchised ... both in relation to this employer and to the world as a whole.

I wish I knew how to make certain that my babies (all four of them) never had to stand by impotently when some arrogant jerk laughs at them and refuses to release their paycheques.

That just isn't right.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I've been remiss

I just can't get over how quickly time flies. I know that I say that all the time. Enough times that it sounds trite and meaningless. But I do mean it, truly I do.

For instance, Doug and I went to Michigan to retrieve my lovely daughter from her visit with her father. When was that? Would you believe that was the weekend of July 20? Me neither, but that's what the calendar claims.

The designated weekend began with a trip to Fort Custer Rec. Center near Augusta, Mich. Why? Because it has one of the sweetest mountain bike trails that I ever hope to see. Doug and I like to ride, and we ride hard. We do not do the extreme variety of biking which requires one to maneuver across bridges just wide enough for your tires, elevated trails, or really BIG jumps. We like two-track trails between the trees with switchbacks, bouncing over roots and rocks, some challenging up-hill climbs followed by thrilling down-hill rides. More than the average ride you'll get on a paved bike trail around here, in other words. Fort Custer is maintained by the Southwest Michigan Mountain Biking Association, and they do a tremendous job creating and maintaining. In fact, they do their job well enough that we always purchase a one-year pass to the Michigan State Parks, even though we don't even live in Michigan. How's that for a great recommendation?

The second thing we did that weekend was visit with family -- lots of family. I have five brothers and sisters, and four of them live near Battle Creek. Along with their spouses and children. There's a lot of us. Did I take photos? Nope. Just snapshots with my heart. Dang, I do miss seeing them more often.

The third thing that we did that weekend, and one that I try to always do when in the area, is visit my favorite yarn shop in the Battle Creek area. Yes, I do have a favorite yarn shop in most areas that I visit. For this area, it's the Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan. The owner, Lindsay, has done a marvelous job collecting an assortment of delectable yarns, patterns, buttons, shawl pins, and especially the atmosphere of that place. It's a good thing for me that I don't live any closer than I do, because I always find at least one item to purchase there.

Did I say purchase? Why, yes. Yes, I did.
Doesn't that look interesting? After two weeks, it is still all contained in the original bag. I take things out, spread them around and look at them, fondle the yarn, dream about the finished item ... But they are not quite yet ready to grow up, move into stash or become finished. So they stay in the bag, near the knitting light so that I can just casually reach over and ... So what did I find too irresistible for words?

This is O-Wool Balance, destined to be a dress for my little niece. She will be one year old on the 28th of August, and I think this little dress and the hat -- oh my goodness, the cuteness of the hat -- will be perfect for her. She isn't quite walking yet, and her birthday is rapidly approaching, so I think I'll make the largest size for her for next spring/summer. Besides, she only wears a hat for the 30 seconds it takes for her to find it on her head and rip it off. Maybe by next year she'll be more fashionable?

I have wondered about getting something glittery and sparkly for my own shop. This wool, called Yin and Yang, from Southwest Trading Company was just lying there, calling sweetly in my ear. Coincidentally, there was a pattern right there as well. Talk about good planning, eh? (Doug--it's all in the name of market research, really.)

And THIS--
The photos in the pattern do not do it justice. This is truly an amazing wrap. Very many different stitch combinations, and done up in Noro? Breathtaking. My fingers are all itchy, my breathing is rapid, my heart is palpitating ... All over again. Must.Finish.One.Project.First.

Truly in the name of market research, I also purchased these single balls of Elsebeth Lavold Cable Cotton and Cotton Patine. I've wondered about bringing in these two lines for next summer, and I figure this is the best way to decide. Actually knit with 'em.

Since this post only covers through July 20 weekend and Blogger seems to limit the number of photos to 5 per post, you'll just have to wait to see what else I've been up to. But I'll give you a hint -- Stitch 'n Pitch and retail therapy.