Monday, October 18, 2010

Rhinebeck Weekend

If you're a knitter, you know that there are many sheep and wool festivals each year. The two big ones on the East coast are Maryland Sheep and Wool (in May) and Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. That is in October. I attended Rhinebeck this weekend, for the second year.

My intention was to attend with a good friend and two other local women. One by one, they all had other things pop up that needed their attention more than a weekend away. I sadly accepted that I would not be going, until an online friend mentioned that they had room in their hotel, and would I like to join them? I jumped at the chance.

I drove to the two hours to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania to meet up with three of the other travellers. It was a married couple (Missy and Doug) and Liz, who lives near to them. Missy and Doug have two dogs which needed to be dropped at Missy's parents' house in NJ for the weekend, so we loaded them up and headed up there. Doug and I in Doug's car, Missy and Liz and the dogs in Missy's car. I'm allergic to animals, and the dog hair already in the car would have probably caused me to die a little bit. Not a good way to start a weekend.

We dropped the dogs, after about two hours' drive, in I-don't-know-where, NJ. I met Missy's mom and after only about three minutes managed to surprise her by using the word 'penis'.* We then headed back out and drove to Poughkeepsie, NY. Our hotel was ok, a Holiday Inn Express, which was ridiculously overpriced. $250 per night for our rooms. They had a breakfast bar, which is always nice while travelling. There were several other knitters staying there, and we met up with a few in the lobby after getting dinner and making a beer store run. Doug is a big beer fan. I bought cider.

After dinner, the rest of our party arrived by train from Newark. Abbie lives in NY, on Long Island. Jen is from Toronto, and flew in to Newark. Missy went to pick them up from the train station. The rest of the evening was spent chatting and knitting in the lobby, getting to know one another and some of the other knitters. There was Tammy, a fifth grade teacher from Connecticut, and Alice, a former ski instructor from Idaho. Bill and Toni of The Fold (a well-known yarn/weaving/spinning store in Marengo, IL) arrived. Bill is a delightful fellow, about 6'6" tall, broad, blonde, very Viking looking. Toni is a good friend of my friend Lauren, and I passed along greetings. Sometime around midnight we all headed up to our rooms, after making plans for the morning.

We were up around 6:30 and left for the festival grounds at about 8:30. The Festival opens at 9 am on Saturdays. We had a lovely drive along Rt 9. The leaves in upstate NY are absolutely gorgeous. Very different from what I grew up seeing. The Vanderbilt Mansion is along there as well as the Hudson River valley. I enjoyed not driving at all, and just watching the scenery go by. After about a half-hour, we arrived, parked, and stood in line for our tickets.

While waiting, Abbie spotted Anne Hanson, a knitting designer. As Abbie was wearing one of Anne's designs, I took her over to meet her. Abbie was sort of reticent to go but I said "what's the worst that she can say?" and forced her. We introduced ourselves and had a short chat. Anne was gracious, and actually adjusted Abbie's scarf to better show it off. Missy, who is a photographer, had her camera out in a hot second and Anne kindly posed for a picture. I'm not sure if I managed to get out of the way or not.

We went in and headed directly to The Fold's booth. I picked out a 'rare gem' skein of Socks That Rock. The booth was mobbed, and we waited about fifteen minutes in line. Afterward we wandered for a few hours, stopping by The Sanguine Gryphon's booth to say hello to Sarah and Gryphon. They had been given the opportunity for a booth only a couple of days before, and they jumped at the chance. I worked for them and I know their immense popularity, but I wasn't really prepared to see the line. One woman mentioned she had waited an hour in line. I'm so pleased for them both, they have been working at it for years and they have really hit it big. It's really lovely to see people do what they love for a living, and be able to not only make a living, but be successful. The girls I was with didn't want to stand in line, and decided to return on Sunday.

We spent the day wandering the festival, occasionally running into people we know and visiting with them. We noticed a neat sweater we had seen on Twist Collective, and as the woman wearing it walked by, we engaged her in conversation. Her companion commented on my sweater (Clasica Coat from IK Fall 2009) and we began to chat. I was carrying a bag from Homespun Yarn Party and she asked what it was. I described it a bit, she asked me to email her information about it, and handed me her card. She asked me to not give out her phone number. At that moment I looked at the card and realized that she was Kate Gilbert, a well-known designer. As my only Rhinebeck goal had been to buy yarn for one of her designs (I did not accomplish it) I was sort of tickled. Her friend gave me a Twist Collective pin for my collection and we parted ways.

We met up with the rest of our went to have lunch. For lunch I had red beans and rice with chicken, from the New Orleans Cafe. After we sat down, we realized that we were next to Vicki Howell. I told her how much I had enjoyed working with Craft (a yarn with her name on it) and she apologized that it had been discontinued.

Around 3:00 we left for the day. We sat in the car trying to get out of the parking lot for nearly two hours. That's insane! Missy and Liz picked up pizzas on the way back to the hotel, so we didn't have to go out to find dinner. I showered and changed and we headed to the Ravelry party in Red Hook, just past the fairgrounds (a half-hour drive from our hotel). Jen was tired and elected to stay back at the hotel.

When we arrived at the party site, we were directed to a parking lot about a mile from the party, from which we would catch a bus to the party. We saw several people walking toward the party. When we arrived at the parking lot, we understood why. The wait looked to be obscene. There was likely to be a wait of an hour, so we chose to walk. We arrived too late for a goodie bag, they had only 550 to give out. The woman at the door told me that there had been 400 people RSVP, and there were already more than 550 there; people kept arriving, too. We found seats, and settled in for the night. We spent the evening knitting and chatting and wandering, eating and drinking, all the things that one generally does at a party. We made it back to the hotel around 11:30 and crashed hard, having been walking all day.

Sunday morning was more of the same. We packed and checked out before heading to the fairgrounds. Again we wandered and shopped and visited. I ran into Gail, who I have known for about ten years, but never see. We went to the Sanguine Gryphon booth again and I stood in line while the girls shopped. Only about ten minutes wait that time. In fact, Jen went back later in the day and there was no wait at all. We left around 2:00 and headed for home after leaving Jen and Abbie at the Poughkeepsie train station.

After driving for a few hours, we picked up the dogs and headed back to Pennsylvania. The trip to their place seemed to take forever. I unloaded my things from Doug's car and into mine, and after saying my good-byes, hit the road. Two hours later I made it home to my lovely husband and my own bed and my real life.

I bought three skeins of 50/50 merino tencel from Ellen's Half-Pint farm, 8 ounces of roving from Potosi Farms (who are Yarn Party participants. Went all the way to NY to buy locally!), and some Socks That Rock. I also brought home some apples, Maple cotton candy, biscotti, and a few assorted small things. I spent way less than I had expected to, or budgeted for. Notice how I completely failed in my prime objective of 850 yards of lovely hand-painted worsted weight for Clapotis. Oh well, I'll dye it myself.

Perhaps next year, we'll rent a house. Some of my local girls did that and it worked out well for them.

Really? The woman has been married for 30+ years and has two children. The look of shock she gave me was priceless. I hadn't meant to be vulgar in the least, I was referring to the note my husband had left on a sweater while I was blocking it. It has a weird construction and part of the hood sticks up from the body of the sweater's back. The note said 'is this a sweater penis?' I assured him that it was not.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I got it!

I mentioned before that I thought I'd 'knocked it outta the park' on the interview. I was not wrong. I start on September 14th! My first job interview in years and I got it! Now I need to buy non-floozy shoes. I realized while I was dressing for the interview that most of my heels are mule-type and not work-suitable.

In the meantime, Big has gone back to school; Little begins school on Tuesday; and I have finished knitting my coat. It took about 1800 yards of Aran-weight Fisherman's Wool, if that tells you anything. My wrists were aching when I finished. I have yet to sew it together, but the blocking is done.

Currently on the needles, I have begun a stole for a friend's birthday, and a shawl to knit as a sample for a friend's yarn company. I haven't ever knit a shawl before. It's going well and I'm enjoying it. Plus, the yarn is completely gorgeous, merino/silk 70/30. Gorgeous to look at, gorgeous to knit.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to the grind

I have decided that I'm not going to wait around for a job offer that may not come, before giving a start date to the salon owner. I will start back at the salon (at least) one day per week, until such time as there is an offer extended from the other job. If there isn't one forthcoming, I'll take a few more days at the salon.

I like the owner, and the women who work there. They are nearly all Indian or Nepali; its primary business is threading, but it offers full services. My function there before was as manager/administration/reception, which suited me fine. I like being in charge. We'll see if I enjoy it again.

When you have children, working outside of the home is always a dance. Do I feel fulfilled/make enough money to make leaving my kids worth it? Without having daycare costs, it likely will be. In the past, it hasn't been. When Big was a little person, I had no choice but to work full-time (and indeed from time to time I held a part-time job as well) since I was a single parent. Being married has afforded me the luxury of being a stay-at-home parent for most of the past eight years. Full-time school for both of the boys means that I can get out and work, bring in a little bit of money, without having to spend it all on daycare.

In other news, last night was my weekly knitting group. I now host at my house, as our former location wasn't working for us any longer. I had five of my good friends here, and it's the first time I have seen any of these lovely ladies since before I went to Canada in mid-July. It was quite nice to see everyone after so long. I had promised one of them a pair of socks for her birthday, but last night she chose a stole/wrap instead. I will cast on for that after I'm through making my Clasica coat. I'm done the back and fronts, have only the sleeves to complete. I also have to cast on for a sock project as I have joined a pair-a-month knit-along and haven't made anything for it in August. I might have this month's pair done a few days late. Good thing I'm the only knitting police I know.

Have a nice weekend. Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Interview Day

I think I knocked it outta the park. We'll see. I felt really positive as I was leaving, but I'm just one of nine people to be interviewed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Selling myself (not in that way)

Last week, on a whim, I responded to a job ad on Craigslist. I explained that I did not have a resume, as I haven't been actively looking for work, but now that Little would be in school full time, I thought a part-time position would be right up my alley. I described my pertinent work experience and explained how I hadn't had any office experience since emigrating, and that most of the work I have done since coming here was unskilled and not worth mentioning. Explained how working at the salon was open to me so that there would likely be no chance of getting a reference from here, although that is the most likely to pertain to the job.

Well, like I said, that was last week. I didn't expect to hear from the guy at all. Would you respond to someone who didn't bother to get together a current resume, particularly one you wanted to hire for office administration? I probably wouldn't, but that's because I loathed hiring. Loathed with a capital L. Your skills might look fantastic on paper, but you've got very little chance of being hired if you can't deliver the goods in person or on the phone.

Well, that's one of my biggest strengths. I 'give good phone'. It's a skill I picked up while working as a commercial insurance broker. If you want the underwriters to take your marginal risks, you need to be able to talk them into it, and to talk the rates down. That's not something that you are born with, it's a skill. I held high dollar accounts in the NWT, Nunavut, and Yukon Territories. I administered million-dollar accounts in Alberta. I'm good at that sort of thing. I digress.

I had a phone call today from the person doing the hiring for the job. I expressed surprise that he called, and he told me that he liked my email. He got over 100 responses for the position and has narrowed it down to 8 applicants, plus me.

I have not had an in-person job interview since 1996. At that time, I was hired on at the above-mentioned insurance job in Yellowknife. Since then, each job I have had was either by phone interview, or being hired by a friend. I'm not sure how to go about this. I'm the same in person as I am online, but I don't like the idea of having to sell myself to a prospective employer.

I'll call tomorrow to set up a time. I'll let you know what happens.

Talk to you soon,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Same as it ever was

I haven't actually forgotten that I have a blog. It's just that I haven't had a whole lot of anything to say.

In my last post, I was still working for the indie yarn dyer/friend. In December, we parted ways, as she needed more hours than I was able to give to her. Since then, I've been spending a lot of time with my kids, and being a stay-home mom. Little (who is five) was attending a half-day pre-kindergarten program; Big (who is 16) was struggling with high school. I hope this year won't be such a struggle for him. When the boys are back in school in a few weeks, I will return to work, but at a salon where I worked previously. The job is sort of a combination of things, being manager, reception, secretary, and personal assistant to the owner. I liked the job well enough but left when I realized I had not only a conflict of hiring practices with the owner, but that most of my salary was going toward paying for daycare. As Little will be in full-day school, that won't be the case any longer; former boss and I have also come to an agreement on hiring.

In mid-July, Little and I headed to Canada to visit with my family. I am Canadian; I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and raised in Alberta. My mother and step-dad are in Barons, a very small town in Southern Alberta, my father and step-mother are in Edmonton. Each year (save one) since I moved to Maryland, I have made the drive to Mom's and taken about a month of vacation. The idea is to drive up, spend a few weeks going around to visit all of my old friends and family, and then be able to bring home things I can't get down here. It rarely happens that way. This year, I drove to Mom's, and spent a week not seeing anyone but Mom and Dad. Then there was a huge family reunion near Athabasca, which we spent four days at; then two days spent with my best girlfriend and her husband in Edmonton. That's it. And that was fine, really. The rest of the trip was spent doing a little bit of gardening in Mom's garden, picking berries, making jams, canning fruit, and shopping with Mom.

Each year but the first, I have had my husband help to drive one way; he'd drive up with me (as was the case the year we drove to Yellowknife so he could experience it for the first time) and fly home, or fly up to drive home with me. This year, I did it all on my own. I drove to Chicago my first day and spent the night with Tasha and Bill. The next night, I drove to Bismarck, North Dakota, and the third day to Mom's. Three days to drive 2500 miles. Thankfully, Little is quite used to traveling like that, and made good use of the portable DVD player and his Leapster. Big is usually a very good helper along the way, but this year he had a summer job lined up and couldn't go with us. Also, his immigration status is in flux and there may have been an issue getting him back into the US after we left. He is both Canadian and American, but we are awaiting his American citizenship papers and his green card was issued in his birth name, incorrectly, after my husband adopted him.

An entire month away from one of my kids and my husband is a very, very long month. It was wonderful, as well. I was really conflicted to enjoy myself so much and miss them as well. However, Big had a fine time here; he spent a week at camp and one of his best friends came back to town to visit after having moved away two years ago. Mister is self-employed so he could be here for Big when he needed him. I think that not having me here for that time helped Big to mature in some ways, as well, which was quite needed. I think that we tend to infantalize our teens more than necessary. At Big's current age, I was living away for the summer and working in Banff National Park. No way is Big mature enough for that, and it makes me a little sad.

On to now... I've been knitting all along, of course. I knit my mother a February Lady Sweater from Paton's Classic Wool in "Woodrose Heather" (a medium pink) and took it to her. She loves it. My niece also needed mittens to match her handspun hat and cowl, so I obliged. I've also knit at least one pair of socks each month this year. My husband adores Bugga! socks, and has reaped the spoils of my employment with The Sanguine Gryphon last fall. I currently have Clasica Coat (Interweave Knits cover, Fall 2009) on the needles, made from Fisherman's Wool in "Oatmeal". It's a very boring colour. I was halfway through the back when I realized that what I really wanted was a red coat. I'm going to finish this in the current yarn, and then dye yarn for another coat.

I've also been spinning. I just finished 8 ounces of merino wool dyed in yellows and blues dyed by Chimera on Etsy, called "Starry Night". I think I've got around 350 yards of it, in a tight 2-ply twist. In May or June I did another 8 ounces, also from Chimera, in a red-yellow-blue-green dye. Quite pretty. I suppose I will have to start taking pictures and posting them.

Today I was stung by a bee, went to lunch with my husband, and took Little to a birthday party at a bowling alley. I will now spend the balance of my day knitting on my coat and watching Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who on the dvr. There's a new "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" (Jeremy Brett series) episode which I haven't seen. That's really unusual!

Talk to you soon,