Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to Knittah and all of our Swatchy friends!

Swatchy and Noricum

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Freakin' Awesome

Instead of commenting on Not So Swatchy's excellent post about her road trip, I have to post in response. You see, Knittah LOVES football.

It is family lore that my first word was "football." I adore it. Having grown up in Buffalo (where Not So Swatchy makes her home), I was a Buffalo Bills fan. That is, I was a Bills fan until we lost all those Superbowls (Superbowls 25-28). But I was diehard, folks. I cheered for the Bills in a room full of Giants fans for Superbowl XXV. Scott Norwood, you broke my heart.

Anyway, I still love the game. It is a ritual at Chez Knittah to fall asleep on the couch watching football on a Sunday afternoon. Under a blankie. Unless the Eagles are playing, of course.

See how dedicated I am?

I believe that football should be played outside, not in a stupid dome. I believe that football is even better in the snow. And when I saw clips from the game last Sunday, with a freaking whiteout on the field? I said to Mr. Knittah, "THAT'S what I'm talking about!"

And now I find out that Not So Swatchy was THERE! In the snow! And cold! To watch the Bills play Cleveland (which is ironic since my family is originally from Cleveland and Dad still roots for the Browns).

Totally. Freaking. Awesome. Thanks for being my true proxy, Not So Swatchy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Road Trip!

Howdy Knittah!

Holiday preparations aside, things have been quiet around here, so we decided to take a little road trip for the weekend. In spite of an increasingly messy weather forecast, we hit the road and headed to Cleveland.

After meeting up with some friends at our hotel, we went to the Great Lakes Brewing Company for an early dinner. Not only do they make some great beers, but they're also environmentally conscious about the whole process.

After having a delicious dinner at the brewpub, we went on a tour of the facilities. They only brew on weekdays, so we didn't get to see any of the action, but the setup was still impressive, and the tour guide was equipped with a seemingly endless stream of bad jokes.

We went back to the pub for a few drinks, and by the time we were ready to head back to the hotel for the evening, the snow had really picked up. It was pretty, but just a glimpse of what was to come the next day. What was the next day?

Football! (I admit to not being entirely clear about the rules of the game, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it!) About an hour before kick off, we made our way to the stadium. It was cold, and snowing, but not nearly as bad as it was going to become.

Soon enough, the snow was coming down at a fast pace, and the wind was getting stronger. I could barely even see the field most of the time! (Also, Vicki apologizes for the poor photo quality, as she only had her cell phone on her during the game. With the number of layers of clothing she had on, she could have easily snuck a camera in, but didn't want to risk it.)

We wound up leaving at half-time, because the game wasn't going very well, and we were starting to worry about the drive back to Buffalo. (Some of the wind gusts were so strong that they actually knocked down the pedestrians who were walking around.) After a few hours of driving, we decided to stop at the first hotel we could find in Erie, and continue on in the morning. The roads were fairly clear in the morning, and we finally got home. There is some snow here too - it finally looks like winter!

Hope you're staying warm!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Riding The Santa Bus

Dear Knittah,

In Winnipeg at Christmas time, there is a bus called the Santa Bus. It is a bus that goes around Winnipeg, and all cash fares collected go towards the Christmas Cheer Board. The Christmas Cheer Board is an organization that delivers hampers of food and presents to families in need at Christmas. (Noricum volunteered as a driver for the Christmas Cheer Board once many years back... she hadn't been driving long, and it was an *icy* day... veeeeery nerve-wracking! However, she got lots of hampers delivered and made it home safely. Now that she has more experience driving, she'd be willing to try again, but doesn't currently have a car.)

Anyway, back to my story. On Monday, Noricum and I got on the bus after school like usual. The bus had reindeer on the side (Noricum figured it was a festive advertisement), and the bus driver was wearing a Santa hat (Noricum figured the driver was feeling festive). Noricum put her fare in the box, then took a seat and started working on her sock in progress. About five minutes later, she *finally* clued in to the fact that she was riding the Santa bus! (She can be a bit slow sometimes, but I like her anyway.) Funnily enough, even though Noricum has lived in Winnipeg most of her life, and started riding the bus way back in elementary school, this was also the first time she had ridden the Santa bus. We got to have that experience together. :)

After a few more minutes, Noricum got up the guts to pull out her camera and take a few photos.
Riding the Santa Bus
Riding The Santa Bus
You can see one of the reindeer in the first photo, plus Christmas Cheer Board ads above the windows; the second looks fairly normal.

Although this was the Santa bus, the driver wasn't a very cheery elf. She seemed rather in a hurry, and kept honking at drivers who threatened to cut her off, and also at jaywalking pedestrians. (Even though the bus was still half a block away from one set of jaywalkers... though she seemed to speed up to close that distance!) Noricum decided not to ask the driver to pose for a photo. Instead, she decided to try to get a photo of the outside of the bus after she got off:
Too Slow!
...but she was too slow! (That bus sure was in a hurry, and Noricum's camera is a bit slow, especially when the flash is needed.)

Anyway, it was an interesting experience, and we thought you might like to hear about a bit of Winnipeg tradition. (The Santa bus has been running for 23 years now!)


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire Money

Dear Knittah,

You may have read about how Noricum went to Canadian Tire on Saturday. Well, she actually remembered to bring me with her. I thought you might be interested to hear more about Canadian Tire, after having read about it on the Yarn Harlot's blog as well.

I suppose the best way to describe Canadian Tire to Americans is that it is like a small Walmart, about the size of a normal grocery store, but instead of having the clothing focus that Walmart has, Canadian Tire has an automotive focus. About a quarter of the store is stuff for cars and car repair, including tires. The rest has a variety of household, sports, and gardening stuff.

One of the neat things about Canadian Tire is that when you pay with cash, a percentage of your purchase is refunded to you in Canadian Tire money. You can see me posing above with a five cent "bill". It actually has a raised texture just like real money. It's basically a coupon. Once upon a time the Canadian Tire money even had expiry dates printed on it, but it doesn't any more. No one looked at the expiry dates anyway. All Canadian Tire money is in bills, even the amounts less than a dollar. Yes, Canadian Tire money comes with different denominations of bills. The tills in the store have a second cash drawer which the tellers withdraw and put back whatever Canadian Tire money changes hands.

Noricum suspects there are three basic types of people when it comes to Canadian Tire:
1. Those who hoard their Canadian Tire money, like Noricum's dad. (She doesn't think he does it on purpose, more that he forgets to bring it with him.) He has a big wad of Canadian Tire money. He's mentioned that he does bring it in and spends it when he has large amounts. Can you imagine buying something with a big wad of Canadian Tire money? I wonder how long it would take to count out all of those small bills!
2. Those who keep their Canadian Tire money in their wallets, and use what they have before spending cash on every Canadian Tire purchase. Noricum is like this.
3. Those who can't be bothered. There's little donation buckets at the tills for those types, and their Canadian Tire money goes to charities.

Somehow, Canadian Tire money has gotten to be an ingrained part of Canadian culture. Isn't that interesting?


Friday, November 30, 2007

Not Cold

Dear Swatchy,

It's not very cold in Philadelphia. And we have no snow. It's going to rain on Sunday when we're at the football game. Can you and I trade places?

Love, Knittah


It's Cold!

Dear Knittah,

Winnipeg is cold. Please send warm thoughts.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Catching Up - Spinning Class

Dear Knittah,

I suppose I have been bad in my own way, not posting as soon as I should. (Sheesh, I have some *old* photos waiting for posts!) But this is really Noricum's fault too... she doesn't let me use the computer much. I thought I'd show you around the spinning class Noricum took over a week ago now.

Before we get started, I thought I'd let you know that Winter is definitely here.
I'm actually inside in this photo, which is why I'm not wearing my toque and long johns. It did take Noricum a while to dig out her winter coat and boots... she can be a bit slow sometimes.

But back to the class! It was a blast! Look at the concentration everyone has, having so much fun at the wheels, skein winders, and carders:
Spinning Class Spinning Class Spinning Class
That gentleman in the last photo isn't a knitter... he wanted to learn to spin (linen, in particular, although that wasn't covered in this class) so that he could weave with it!

Here's some of the other wheels we could try out:
Spinning Class
(Noricum stuck to the Lendrum... she meant to try the other wheels, but ran out of time.)

This is some lovely yarn that Penny spun:
Spinning Class

And, to get even with Noricum for hogging the computer and forgetting me at home when she went to Rovings, here's her haul from the spinning class:


PS: I'll try to get those other posts up some day... but for now, Noricum says it's way past time for lunch.

The Rovings Un-Event

Dear Knittah,

I am very disappointed in Noricum. Can you believe she didn't take me to Rovings!?! She says she remembered once she was there and trying out the wheel, and feels really bad about it. She decided not to take any photos, instead waiting for her inevitable next trip there when I will be along. I have given her a stern talking-to, and she says she will try to be better.


PS: Snoopy sends her regards and love:

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dealing with the Holidays

Part of our ongoing series about life with CFS.

The holiday season is upon us, and hard upon me. Every year, my husband and I fight the same battle with ourselves. Inevitably, we commit to doing too much and, inevitably, we fall short of our own expectations.

In the early years of my illness, I lived in great denial of my disability. I felt like a slacker for not working (although I gave up my job kicking and screaming) so I tried to do handmade holidays - handmade gifts, ten kinds of cookies, and even handmade wrapping paper one year. Last year, I tried to knit too many gifts, and made myself crazy.

Each year, I give up another "thing". Handmade gifts, handmade holiday cards - gone. Even baking is gone, and I really resisted that one. We've told our families that they each get "one shot" at us for Christmas. We can come to one family gathering for each side; they can tell us when but if someone isn't there, they'll have to come see us.

Yet every year, we hit the end of November and see the holidays coming for us like a mack truck. This year is my husband's 40th birthday, and we each bought tickets to an event to celebrate. I bought him concert tickets, and he bought NFL tickets. In our optimism (denial?), both events fell between November 20th and December 5th, with Thanksgiving in between. We didn't make it to the concert. We did make it to family Thanksgiving, which was lovely. Now I'm resting up for that football game. I am determined to go, and willing to pay the price afterwards.

Will we ever learn?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tropical Paradise

We made it safely to Fiji! Landed at 5:15 this morning (Thursday), got on a bus to the marina, to a boat to MantaRay Island! This place (Fiji is general) is incredible. It is PARADISE. The water is the most amazing blue -- you know how in the Caribbean the water is turquoise and it's so gorgeous? Well here, in the deep part of the ocean, it's cerulean, just like the crayon!! Wild. The island I am staying is small, part of the Yasawa group on the far west of the Fiji Islands

There was another "backpacker" at the bus stop with me and we were on the same bus and boat so we got to chatting. I was very excited to be meeting my first world traveler.. I wondered where he could be from... Australia? New Zealand? Maybe somewhere in Europe?

NOPE. Princeton, NJ.

Crazy!! Then at the resort I met a kid from Toms River. We're everywhere! But my roommate is from Germany so there's a little culture there hahahaha.... oh, Devon wants to say hi!

Hi guys! I did my first Scuba Diving class today -- unbelievable. Instead of doing it in a pool, you actually swim in the lagoon and get to see all the fish and it was like being inside the tank at the aquarium or even like being in Finding Nemo! I didn't think swimming in the ocean could get any better but diving is pretty freaking fantastic, especially when the water's so warm you don't even need a wetsuit. It was a very different experience for me, the eternal shutterbug, to be looking at beautiful things and not be thinking about taking pictures, just experiencing them "in the moment". Still though, I wish I could have taken pictures to share with you!!

I wish I could have gone scuba diving, too, but they couldn't find a weight belt to fit.

Plus, I think you have to be bigger than the tank. And have a mouth to put the regulator in.

Details, details.

Oh, and the food is fantastic too!
Swatchy Prep and Dev

P.S. Happy early Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby!

Dear Knittah,

Noricum and I attended spinning class today. Well, Noricum spun, I just watched, since Noricum didn't want to shell out the class fee for me. Here we are at the end of the class:
Spinning Class
(that's Francine from Rovings beside us) and here's what Noricum spun.
Handspun Singles
The singles were spun from "mystery roving" that gets run through the drum carders between regular batches. It was nice enough stuff... but have you ever felt polwarth fleece? Wow! I wanted to dive right into the bag and never come out! Noricum didn't let me, though. (She didn't think we'd both fit, anyway.) How much polwarth do you think we would need to do so?

Noricum is currently muttering something about "must get wheel" and "how much polwarth for a sweater", and her feet keep moving like they're treadling. Do you think I should be worried?


Sunday, November 11, 2007

iSwatchy helps around the house

iSwatchy likes to help around the house, especially when it comes to gardening and decorating. I still haven't convinced him to help with the cleaning, though.

iSwatchy helped me arrange some scented pinecones

And he helped me prune and water the plants

Sometimes he goofs off a little. He thinks that if he can't see me, I can't see him!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Oh gee, Fiji!

Prep here... just wanted to let you guys know Devon got a one way ticket to FIJI today! She said FAA regulations don't require Swatchies to have a seat of their own but I swear, if she tries to stuff me in the overhead again....

Anyway, sandy beaches, here we come!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Heartbroken No More

I told you about how heartbroken I was to miss the Yarn Harlot's appearance in Marlton, NJ. I spent that same weekend bummed that I wasn't at Rhinebeck. I've been reading all your blogs about how much fun you had, and felt left out. Not So Swatchy posted great pictures from her trip to Rhinebeck, including one of the Yarn Harlot waving at me, which definitely helped although I must admit to still feeling a little sorry for myself.

Then yesterday, I got a surprise package from Not So Swatchy and Swatchite Vicki (or shall I call her minion?). Lookee:


From Poland, she brought me candies (I love the one called AHA!), yarn, and that pretty wooden box. But that's not all!


I also received two wee glass owls. Vicki and I agree that the small one looks like Hedwig (the favorite owl of every Harry Potter fan). But that's not all!


A hat from Rhinebeck! I will wear it with pride. But that's not all!


The hat is AUTOGRAPHED by the YARN HARLOT to ME! *boggle* Thank you, Vicki. You made me feel very special, and far from left out!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Howdy Knittah!

So by now, everyone is posting about how awesome Rhinebeck was, how gorgeous the weather was, and how fun the whole experience is. Well, I hope you're not tired of posts like that, because here's another one!

We arrived Saturday morning a little later than expected, and were in the parking farthest away from the main entrance - we were right up against the fence! Luckily, the ground wasn't too wet, so it wasn't a muddy mess walking up to the entry gate.

We'd been in the car for a few hours, and decided to stop at the restroom before diving into the piles of wool. This restroom was the cleanest, happiest public toilet you could ever hope to find. The (hilarious) bathroom attendant was saying things like "Gotta pee? Come see me!", so of course we had to tip her, and she was kind enough to pose for a picture with me.

(Her gloved hand was clean, really. Also, I am adventurous.)

Once that was taken care of, we were off! There were so many buildings, barns and tents full of everything a knitter could want, it was hard to decide where to look.

There were lots of animals around, of course.

Obviously, there are more than just sheep and wool at the sheep and wool festival!

There were also lots of people to see, and I met a lot of interesting folks. (Being a bingo square is a great way to meet people.) I didn't catch this young knitter's name, but she was super cute, and clearly we got along.

In the author tent, we went looking for our favorite knitting humorist.

Stephanie was delightful, charming and witty, as usual. I have the honor of being the third Swatchy to make her acquaintance.

We also came across Anne of Knitspot, who was absolutely adorable, and gracious enough to stop shopping for a moment to chat with us and take a picture.

We met many more people, but the last photo we have is of Mayarn and Jess of Ravelry fame. It's easy to see how Ravelry has become such a friendly, happy, amazing site, with people like this creating it.

Everything about Rhinebeck was better than we could have asked for - we're already making plans to head back for 2008. =)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

So Close, So Far

Part of our ongoing series on life with CFS.

Everybody here at Travels With Swatchy loves the Yarn Harlot. We love her so much that both Swatchy McPhee and Swatchy (the original) have gone to see her. Now she is coming close to my neighborhood.

This Friday, YH will be in Marlton, NJ. I will be just over one hour from Marlton, NJ. But never the twain shall meet.

I cannot drive because of CFS. Going out at night is extraordinarily difficult for me because of CFS. I have been very ill this week, with pain and brain fog especially, because of CFS. And on top of all of that, I made a promise to some of the dearest women in my life that I would spend the weekend with them.

Celeste lovingly badgered me into emailing the Yarn Harlot to see if we could meet up in the afternoon. I was hesitant to ask for that kind of special treatment. Because YH is incredibly awesome, she sent me a very kind reply and actually apologized that her schedule was too crammed for a separate drive-by hug.

If you only understand one thing about life with CFS, understand this: I am unable to travel one hour by car to see the Knitter that I admire more than any other. This is what life with CFS means. I am so close, but may as well be a world away. The number of events (large and small) that I have missed is far higher than those that I have been able to attend. My energy is scarce, and I am still learning to prioritize how I spend it. (Feeling like crap + a promise to my family) / nighttime outing = no Yarn Harlot for me.*

There will be another time, I tell myself. I say that a lot. Does it ease the disappointment of missing out? Maybe a little. Maybe sometimes.

*Noricum, are you proud that I did math?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ahem... Devon neglected to mention that there are two pictures of US in Crazy Aunt Purl's flickr album as well!


See the picture of the crowd in LA? Can you spot me? Y'all, I am FAMOUS!


Well, I have been waiting til y'all commented on my other posts to post the BIG SURPRISE, but I guess I'll just have to throw it out there.

I. Met. CRAZY AUNT PURL!!!! She had a book signing here in LA and Devon, her friend Amy, and I all went. It was so stinkin' cool. She is just as awesome in real life as on her blog, and she just LOOOOVED me! Devon gave her our postcard so maybe she'll even come check out the site! We emailed her a copy of the picture and she emailed us back. Cause, you know, we're friends now. *buffs nails on shirt*
P.S. She mentioned porn twice! Hahahahaha....

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Utah? No, YOU tah!

We decided to relax and detox from Las Vegas in lovely St. George, UT, home of Devon's friend Callie. We did lots of hiking!

The desert is SOOO different from home in NJ. There are these HUGE rock sandstone mountains everywhere, and the air is so, so dry. There's NO humidity and it never rains -- great for hair but your throat gets so dry during the night.

Callie's family keeps their shoes outside because there's not even DEW!

We went to Snow Canyon's sand dunes -- the sand is as soft as powder, I loved curling my toes up in it.

Except for the scorpions!

Oh, they only come out at night, don't be such a sissy.

Then Callie, Devon, and I went to Zion National Park for a nice long hike. I remembered my hiking shoes this time! The red mountains are so incredibly huge you can't even comprehend.

Utah's a beautiful place to visit but I don't think we could stay there. The grammatical errors in the newspaper alone almost made my head explode! But Callie was a fantastic hostess and we had a wonderful time. Next up, the piece de resistance!