Saturday, November 29, 2008


This month of November I took three trips out of town in three weeks - Milwaukee, Boston, and Chile. I got back from Chile on Tuesday after an overnight 9 1/2 hour flight to Atlanta, then another 6 hours til I was home. Thankfully (really) some good friends invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner sooooo I didn't have to cook. Tuesday I slept most the day, Wednesday bought rutabagas and a pumpkin pie and supervised bringing down Christmas decorations from the attic, and went to the movies. Thursday was the holiday of course; Friday I got up early to go to the auto mechanic, then stayed home and avoided Black Friday til I left for Sit and Spin at A Tangled Skein. While at ATS I bought Nancy Bush's new book Knitted Lace of Estonia. Today, Saturday, I started unloading some of the Christmas boxes. I collect nativity scenes, mostly Latin American, and started putting them out. This afternoon I had a crochet class at ATS, and on the way home stopped at Vertigo Books, bought a pile of books, all for me, to support a local retailer.

I am editing this post to include some pictures from Chile. My students raised $400 and I brought a suitcase full of children's books (in Spanish of course) to the school for the deaf in Santiago, where my friend Lucia is Director. I had one day of sightseeing and we went to Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visited one of Pablo Neruda's houses Sebastiana (he has 3). Neruda, a Nobel Prize Winner, is one of my favorite poets, and his Memoirs (or in Spanish, Confieso Que He Vivido) and ate seafood in a crowded local (not tourist) restaurant.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stitches - The Good, the Bad and the....

During the summer I signed up for 2 classes at Stitches East, but this weekend I only went to one (more on that later). I had a good time in the Marketplace. Shopping was fun with friendly vendors and I bought: - 3 skeins of Habu silk mohair (40% silk; 60% mohair) in a dusty purple (last 3 skeins); 186 yards for $8.65 - 2 skeins of Lisa Souza : 1 skein Sock! Merino (superwash 4 ounces 560 yards, $18) in Lapland, and a skein of Baby Alpace Lace in Petraglyph (6 0z., 1500 yds, $34) - a cute Christmas sock yarn set with a skein of red, white, pink, green sock yarn with a mini skein of red yarn for toes and heels ($21) and a Thrum Mittens kit from Fleece Artist ($28.95) from a Worcester, MA based business Yarn4Socks - 3 patterns - 2 cards of sheep buttons from Black Water Abbey total damage : around $175. When I have time, I'll take pictures and add them to my Ravelry stash.

My class experience was ok. The instructor was excellent, well organized, the right amount of teaching. but there were 30 people in the class. It was very hard to see with us sitting in rows at tables. At the stash wall, I met an instructor who said she had come all the way from the west coast to teach. She said teaching a couple of classes, covers her costs of coming to Stitches. All teachers get the same travel stipend which doesn't cover their actual cost. Makes me wonder - hmmm - 30 students x $75 - and only a small part of that goes to the instructor. I know putting on this kind of production is costly, but... I wouldn't have signed up for classes if I had stopped to think how big they might be, and the implications class size had on learning new techniques.
So today was a beautiful sunny day. I was supposed to go back to Stitches to an afternoon workshop. I drove to Baltimore to drop off my friend Becky who
came from Pittsburgh to go Stitches. I decided not to go to my afternoon class and instead went to Hampden and Lovely Yarns. I bought 6 skeins of red and green yarn (Cascade, and Berroco Ultra Alpaca) and with my Stitches badge was given a gift which was a big yarn tote basket! I was awed - and happy I had make the trip. Then I had blueberry pancakes for lunch at Cafe Hon.
A final note - I used some of the yarn I dyed indigo at the Golden Gate Fiber Camp to knit a scarf/shawl for a project sending scarves to girls in Pakistan. Here is the posting about the successful scarf drive and a photo taken of mine - it's the indigo colored one on the left.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Buying local

Local bookstores have had difficulty competing with big box stores for years, and more recently, online businesses such as Amazon. Just this month Olsson's, a local chain, closed its doors. The local list of casualties for the past year also includes
  • A Likely Story Bookstore, a beloved children’s bookshop
  • Chapters Literary Bookstore suspended business, but hopes to make a comeback
  • Karibu Books, offering books by and for people of African descent
  • Candida’s World of Books
Vertigo Books , in College Park, is in trouble. I go there a few times a year as College Park is off the beaten path for me.
I read in the Washington Post this week that public libraries are busier than ever, as people go to the library instead of buying books. Now that tax revenues are down, libraries will have to cut back. I have made a conscious effort to get books at the library and cut back on my book buying for the last couple of years. I read a lot of mysteries and now that a mass market paperback averages $6.99 and up, I buy fewer of those. These days, I tend to save my book buying money for books I am likely to hold on to.

Like LYS's I can't imagine not having bookstores to browse in.
Look at these - most interesting bookstores in the world.