A good yarn . . .



One must discover the yarn amidst the thorns.

One Week To Go

     This week's list includes the many odds and ends items that are needed in preparation for my fist show:

  • get bank
  • check function of PayPal
  • get new receipt book
  • spray hats with water and turn on fans
  • check tags, replace if needed
  • make business cards
  • iron table cloths
  • check function of PayPal
  • wash mirrors
  • spot paint displays
  • check heads
  • gather tissue and bags
  • find green book
  • dry clean my black sweater
  • label and embellish remaining hats
  • finish fish-bubble garden art
  • design tags for fish-bubbles
  • buy snow shovels
  • make snow shovel winter garden pieces
  • design labels for winter garden art, including installation instructions
  • make a drive by and figure out parking for set up
  • schedule time on Friday for set up
  • find the extension cord to plug in the core heater, it's getting cold outside 
  • grocery shop - bananas, nuts, coconut water, peanut butter sandwiches
  • autograph books
  • find egg basket for books
  • oh yes, and lose 5 pounds for good measure



Next Come the Feathers

     The derivation of the word panache describes someone who wears a feather in her hat.  I pride myself in always making sure that my shows include panache.  In fact the very first hat that sold at last year's Anchorage Museum show was a hat that sported an ostrich feather.  Feathers are a challenge.  The quills are first wrapped in tape, which makes it possible for me to securely sew them onto the hat.  The black electrician's tape I favor is hidden by covering it with foo foo yarn that is single crocheted around the feather quill. Usually I add a few dangling beads for good measure. Some feathers are particularly challenging.  Peacock feathers have a triangular shaft, which makes it difficult to lay them flat against the hat - they invariably want to stick out at an odd angle.  Peacock feathers are weighted heavily at their distant ends, which means that a long section of the shaft needs to be secured. The inner vanes of feathers that have been dyed sometimes split.   

     In my book randomly adding a feather to a hat adds pandemonium not panache.   My hats are specifically designed to lend themselves to feathering; for example, I usually use either a fedora or western crown for feathering.  This year I will introduce a new feathered hat with a round crown.  The tricorne or three cornered hat is most familiar to us in the form of the pirates hat - think Jonny Depp.  A woman needs the right hat for each occasion. It's quite likely that women would more often go pillaging if they had just the right hat to wear. I think I'll call my new hat Robyn Hood.                

  11-7-13 = 84 hats. 



The Argyles Have Been Tamed

     It's true.  Six lively argyles have been needled into submission.  For one triad I used the same three colors, black, burgundy and a textured off white.  I just changed up the placement of the colors.  11-6-13 and 72 hats!

Luca Brazi Style

     We knitters are always mildly surprised and grateful that they continue to let us fly with our needles.  I'm sure TSA has many good reasons.  For example, they understand that we are addicts and would go through withdrawals if we became separated from our knitting.  We would make the other airline passengers miserable if we weren't allowed to knit.  Statistically it is rare for knitters to use their needles to hijack airplanes.  There may even be knitters in high places that are protecting our needles.  On face value TSA has made a sensible decision.

     Psst . . .(Hopefully, Homeland Security is not reading this blog, because I'm about to blow our cover.  The NSA listens right?  They don't actually read, do they?  Shhhh, knitters, this is our little secret . . .  they underestimate us.  They see us as delicate, innocent women, decidedly low on testosterone, and devoid of aggressive urges.  In reality, we have our dark side.  Even knitters sometimes contemplate murder.  But idle hands are the devil's workshop.  We calm ourselves down by picking up our knitting and then all is again tranquil and safe.  Occasionally the sedative called knitting is ineffective.  That's when we realize that our #2, 36 inch Addi would be perfect for garroting someone Luca Brazi style.  The well varnished tip of #9 straight Knit Pick hammered up a nostril would land solidly in someone's frontal lobe.  Two #4, 6 inch double points, on in each fist . . . well, you can complete the image.  How can they let us on a plane armed to the teeth with knitting needles?)

     (Oh wait.  I get it!  They know we use our powers for the good.  They are counting on us.  We knitters are the secret weapon of Homeland Security.  If things get out of hand, say if terrorists try to take the plane, TSA has confidence that we knitters will save the day.  We certainly have surprise on our side.  Not only do they let us on the plane with our needles, they probably dole us out.  Like dealing cards.  They make sure a few of us knitters are on every flight.  Shhhh . . .let's not let on that we know.)



Waiting for My Wife in the Yarn Shop

      The cartoon was posted by my sister who does not knit.  Made me laugh out loud.  Picture this.  A skeleton.  It's sitting on a bench. The bench is outside a building.  A sign behind the skeleton reads, "Waiting for My Wife in the Yarn Shop".  Funny.  AS it happens there is just such a bench outside The Tangled Skein.  It would be such a hoot to place a skeleton and that sign on the bench.   Perfect for Halloween.  I'm going to keep my eyes open for life sized skeletons.  Maybe a stuffed Halloween costume would work?

     It's not uncommon for women to leave their men out in the cold so they can enter the cuddly shop - alone - free to fondle, squeeze and sniff yarn at will.  Some couples split up, them men hang out at Boondocks Sporting Goods down the street, dreaming of filling the freezer with moose and caribou, while the women hang out at the yarn shop dreaming of cables sweaters and children's hats that sprout moose antlers.  Occasionally, men will come in and sip coffee and chat or read, while on the other side of the sale shelves, their women receive a quick refresher on the Kitchener stitch.  It's a familiar pattern, knitters and their non-knitting partners.  Last week we witnessed a new twist in this pattern.

     Adrienne is one of my favorite knitters.  She's a lovely young woman who just last summer knitted a100 % wool cabled sweater for a potted plant.  She has a three year old and was pregnant with twins at the time - apparently Adrienne had become sick and tired of knitting baby hats, booties, hoodies, buntings and blah, blah, blah. It happens.  Sometimes the most interesting knitting project is cables for the potted plant. We have not been seeing much of Adrienne since the twins were born.  Understandably.  On Friday she delighted everyone by join us for the last half-hour of The Tangled Skein's Sit'N'Knit.  About ten minutes before she came in we had noticed a vehicle pull up to the shop, turn out its lights, and wait out there in the dark,  When, at last, the passenger door opened, it was Adrienne who stepped out and came into the shop.  

     Usually there are about a dozen of us.  We sit in a circle, and on the floor beside each of us we set out distinctive project bags. Some are made of canvas, or leather, or plastic or paper or knit'n'felt, or fabric - all are huge and stuffed to overflowing with projects and needles and patterns.  We greet each other with the universal knitters greeting. No matter our age, maybe twenty, maybe seventy.  No matter our level of experience, maybe beginner, maybe advanced.  No matter where we are from, maybe Cordova, maybe Alabama. No matter what kind of family we have created, maybe singe, maybe eight children.  No matter what we do for a living, maybe social worker, maybe tutor.  Each of us greets the other with, "What are you working on?"  And this is not an empty, polite greeting.  We really, really want to know.  All eyes are on the bag from which the treasure is being drawn. We show only enthusiasm and even when we wish we were working on that project, or had that yarn, we were able to knit with such a steady tension, we hide our knitting-envy as carefully as we weave in our ends.

     As soon as we saw it was Adrienne who stepped into the shop our group smiled and began to greet her.  She came to the edge of the group and stood behind an empty chair.  "Can I sit with you for a half hour and eat my sandwich?" "I don't have my knitting."  And sure enough, there she stood, naked of her project bag.  "Of course."  We all agreed.  She pulled out her cell phone and called her husband.  "It'll be a half hour."  Then Adrienne stepped through the invisible group-membrane and took her place in the empty chair.  She opened her sandwich explaining that her husband had bought it for her while they were shopping at Costco.  Their vehicle did not pull out of the lot.  Husband, a pair of four month old twins and a toddler would be waiting outside while Adrienne joined our group.

     We all instinctively knew what the young mother needed. Even more than food, she needed a break from childcare.  She needed to be in community with other women.  We began teasing her.  "You can stay if you promise not to burp anyone."  "Just don't ask anyone if she has to go potty."  Within minutes we were teary eyed with laughter. As we laughed together, I thought of the husband that waited in the vehicle with two babies and a toddler.  I wondered if both babies were sleeping.  What are the odds with twins?  Undoubtedly, Adrienne had prepared bottles. Maybe he was feeding one of them now?

     We told stories and shared memories of sometimes feeling used up by mothering and the needing a break.  We shared our various methods of replenishing ourselves. Many of us, from time to time, had stayed up after the family was asleep to lay down a few rows.  It's a common way that knitters find some recuperation time for themselves.  AS we shared stories my imagination again traveled to the family waiting in the car.  How's the toddler doing"  Adrienne probably had packed a back pack full of toys and books to amuse the little girl.  I imagined the father reading a book to her.  Maybe "Cat in the Hat"?

     Next we brought out our IPhone photos.  We passed the new-fangled photo albums around and enjoyed seeing each other's children and grandchildren. We even got to watch a short video of one of Adrienne's twins laughing.  Often, the babies and children in the photos were wearing hand knitted items. We admired baby hats that looked like flowers, matching hooded sweaters and stuffed toys.

     When the half hour had passed and it was time to leave, the knitters gathered and organized their project bags, while exchanging good buys.  We were about to step through the group-membrane and re-enter our separate lives.  And we were ready.  Adrienne appeared rested.  I have a feeling that we will be seeing her back in our Friday Night Sit'N'Knit group more regularly.

     After everyone had left and I was closing up the shop, I recalled my skeleton on the bench idea.  After this evening's experience I understood my idea had been paltry.  The husband who was willing to take care of himself and his children so that his wife could have time in her knitting group has changed my mind.  What we really need is a gold statue outside the shop to celebrate all the husbands, partners, children, family and friends who are generous enough to let go of their knitters for a time.  The plaque will read:  "For all those who have waited for a loved one in the yarn shop."



Fighting Argyles

     The argyles are on their way.  They are a mess to knit - thirty hanging bobbins of yarn. These are not well mannered, peace loving bobbins. They start out quiet enough.  But it only takes a couple of rows before they start to show their true colors.  First, come the sidelong glances; then they give each other dirty looks.  Before you know it they are muttering harsh words.  The first under-their-breath-words are hard to distinguish.  By the time they begin shouting I can understand every word. Grey calls Maroon "Whore Red". Maroon insinuates Gold is the "color of baby poo-poo".  Gold refers to Grey as "The Old Grey Night-Mare".  You get the idea.  That's when things really begin to escalate. First, they merely brush up against each other.  Pushing and shoving soon gives way to out and out wrestling.  They end up being hopelessly entwined.  The whole lot of them.  Bailing wire is easier to untangle. 

 But I'm no wimp.  I'm going in among them.  I'm going to tame me a bunch of Argyles.

10-23-13: 64 hats 


The Cat and the Hats

              Fresh termination dust, Chinook winds, northern lights and empty trees - these are today’s signs that winter is on its way.  These are outdoor signs.  Indoor signs are the wood pile, thermal curtains, and skis propped in the corner.    Oh yes . . . and hats.  No matter how hard I try I cannot keep them confined to the hat studio.  They have taken over the spare bedroom.  I’ve had to allow that.  Not much choice.  They need room to parade and display themselves. Gradually, they have been sneaking downstairs.  Wannabe hats, in the form of skeins of yarn, have wedged themselves between the arm rest and the seat of my recliner.  They are hiding under the couch. There’s an avocado green skein, even now, laying low in the bottom of my back pack, probably thinking I’ll forget about her if she’s quiet enough. I draw the line at the dining room table.  Hats and cats must obey the house rules and stay off the cupboards and tables.  Buttercup, the cat obeys the rules.  At least while I’m home.  Who knows what she does when I’m gone?  The hats are another story.  The only way I could get them to agree to stay off the dining room table is to provide them with their very own table.  So that’s how the card-table comes to be in the corner of the dining room, where skeins of yarn and hats continue to pile themselves.   Sometimes, the cat joins their happy heap. 10-08-2013 and 52 hats. 

Pattern Adaptation

     Just back from overnight camping at Lake Eklutna.  And yes, that is the same lake featured in the photo of my teal yarn colors.  The gold of the birch trees is stunning this time of the year.  It’s full color right now;  one good wind will blow the color to the ground. And that wind is on its way.   If the sun shines before that wind comes, I’m going back to Eklutna with some garden art and hats and get some photos.  Fun.      Northern Glitter Boutique carries my new line of hat/cowl/fingerless glove/boot topper sets.  Check in out on Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/NorthernGlitterBoutique.   Here are some of the patterns I developed.       Hey knitters, know your gauge?  Mine is loosy-goosey.  On the Sulka and size 10 Addies, I’m getting  3, ¼ stitches per inch.  Other knitters might need to use size 10, ½ needles to get that gauge.  The Sulka is plush with alpaca and air and poofs into the stich spaces.  I’ve taken a Betty Balcomb pattern, “Pacific Garter Rib with a Twist” and adapted it to the Sulka yarn I am using.  It is a free pattern online from Cascade yarns developed especially for their Pacific Yarn.  She uses a gauge of 4, ½ stitches per inch.   My yarn, at 3, ¼ stitches per inch is considerably fatter; so I need fewer stitches.  The repeat is a multiple of 8 stitches, therefore by casting on 72 stitches I am able to use her pattern with my yarn and end up with a standard size hat.   I bet the Cascade Superwash 128 would also work well with my adaptations.  Plus an additional benefit – it is machine washable and dryable.      HAT:  Using needles to obtain gauge of 3, ¼ (16 inch, size 10 for me) C/0 72. Work in the round, following the pattern.         COWL:  I used the same basic pattern to improvise a matching cowl.  C/O 100, using a16 inch size 10 circular ( or size needed to obtain gauge).  Work in the round, knitting even for 6 rounds.  Decrease 5 stitches, evenly spaced in each of the next 4 rounds – 80 stitches.  Work the Pacific Garter Rib with a Twist pattern for 4 inches, then work an inch of K2,P2 ribbing and bind off loosely.  This cowl reminds me of the Elizabethan collars worn in the Middle Ages.  The stockinette stitch at the bottom of the cowl curls and then snugs in around the neck.       FINGERLESS GLOVES:  Let’s take the pattern to yet another level.  I use the magic loop method for working gloves, socks, sleeves – all those items that are normally worked with double point needles.  So that means my stitches are divided by 2 and half are placed on each of the magic loop needles.  C/O 16 stitches on each side of 32 inch, size 10 (or size needed to obtain gauge) flexible cable needle.  Skip the ribbing and start with the pattern and work about 4 inches of Pacific Garter Rib with a Twist pattern.  Then switch to size 7 needle, and decreasing 4 stitches evenly around, begin 2, ½ inches of K1, P1 ribbing (14 stitches on each needle).  Then switch back to the larger size needles and knit 3 rounds even.  For the thumb gusset, place markers before the last stitch and after the first stitch on the magic loop needle.  Then every other round, work increases into the stitches adjacent and inside the markers, until there are 8 stitches between the markers.  Place these 8 stitches on a stitch holder. Continue to work the hand of the glove, knitting 4 more rounds even and then switch to smaller needles and work 1 inch of K1, P1 ribbing.  Be sure and bind off loosely.  With larger magic loop, pick up the 8 thumb stitches and 2 additional stitches from the hand part of the glove.  Work these 10 stitches in stockinette for 3 rounds and then change to smaller needles and K1, P1 ribbing for one inch.  Be sure and bind off loosely.  Hey, here’s a thumb hint.  Just like with socks, one can avoid those goofy holes, by picking up extra stitches on the inside of the hand and then decreasing them on the next round.  I usually pick up 4 stitches and then decrease down to 2 stitches.  Also, when adding yarn at the thumb, it helps to leave a long tail so that there is ample yarn to work with when weaving in the end.  This makes it possible to hide any holes that persist. BOOT TOPPERS:  They are the “in thing” here in Alaska.   I’m making mine about 14” around.  You can adjust the size as needed to fit the top of your boot – just remember you need to aim for a multiple of 8.  C/O 24 stitches on each side of 32 inch, size 10 (or size needed to obtain gauge) magic loop , work Pacific Garter Rib with a Twist pattern for 3 inches.  Now knit each round for 2 inches.  Switch to smaller needles and work K1, P1 ribbing for 3 inches.    10-06-13, and I have 45 hats.

Must - Stop - Counting - the - Hats

     Holy Cow.  It’s already October.  Countdown.  Seven weeks to my first show, which is the weekend before Thanksgiving, November 23 & 24.  This is my first time for Christmas Arts & Crafts Emporium, hosted by Anchorage Markets.  Check it out www.anchoragemarkets.com.  It’s in the Dena’ina Center.  I’m thinking my garden art will do well in that show.  And hats, of course, always hats.      Eight weeks to my second show, the following weekend is the museum www.anchoragemuseum.org.  It is  juried  and I have been fortunate to be selected for the past ten years or so.  It’s unthinkable to enter the museum show with less than sixty hats.  The museum setting is exquisite.  When my friends stop by, I’ll ask them to watch over my hats so that I can use the rest room.  I’ll get to the bathroom the long way – via Sidney Lawrence.   I’ll return, slowly, past the Bradford Washburn black and whites.      Nine weeks to the UAA Crafts Fair.  I’m developing a new line for that show.   www.uaa.alaska.edu/studentunionandcommuterstudentservices/studentunion/crafts-fair.cfm.  The last few years my knit’n’felt hats have not done well there, in part because after the museum the hats have been picked over.  Also, many of the same shoppers go to both shows; so they may have already bought a hat at the museum.  The prices of the felted hats may be higher than UAA shoppers have in mind for Holiday shopping.  I call my new line “Mama Needs a New Pair of Shoes”.  Because, guess what?  Mama needs a new pair of shoes - and winter boots - and brown leather riding boots – and – and -and.  So, I bought a ton of Sulka  alpaca from Peru; it is to die for.  I’ve developed a series of patterns for matching hat, cowl, fingerless gloves and boot toppers.  I’ll sell them individually and as sets.  I’m stoked.  This is so much fun.  I may write up the patterns and sell them at “The Shop” as well.     I’d like to go into the holiday show season with eighty knit’n’felt hats.  My quota is six hats a week.  No knitting on Sundays; I need to avoid overuse injuries.  I have a problem.  I can’t stop counting the hats.  How many do I have?  How many left to make?  How long to make them?  Am I falling behind my quota?  I think I’ve solved the problem of continually recounting hats.  I’ve placed a sheet of paper on a clip board -  very official looking.  I set it on the ironing board directly in front of the hat display shelves.  Whenever I add more hats to my kingdom I record the date and the number of hats completed.  Then if I wonder how many there are – well all I have to do is go look on my ironing board clip board. I call myself a “compulsive overknitter” and I come by that honorarium honestly.        By the way, in case you were wondering, today is 10-5-13 and I have 44 hats. 

No Time to Frog (Frogging is Knit-Speak for Unraveling.)



     A griz was spotted near Chugiak High School.  They are up and among us; stay frosty.


     I work a day or so each week at The Shop, www.facebook.com/thetangledskein.  What I do there can’t rightly be called “work” - let me rephrase that.  I pleasure a day or so a week at The Shop.  I get to hang out all day surrounded by the most gorgeous fibers in the world.  And if that weren’t enough - knitters, crocheters, weavers, seamstresses, artists and crafters of all types stop by. They come to buy yarn, including hand dyed Alaskan yarn, needles, buttons, patterns, looms, swifters, wind chimes and all the many different treasures Roberta has tucked away within the stitches of The Shop.  One of my favorite parts of the job is on-the-spot-trouble-shooting.  Customers bring in all sorts of puzzles for me to solve.  Sometimes they already have a pattern and need just the right yarn.  Or maybe they have picked up some intriguing yarn while traveling and are looking for just the perfect pattern.  Often there is a specific problem to be solved, e.g., how to read a pattern, how to work a specific stitch or how to correct an error.

     Yesterday, for example, one woman brought in a complex sweater project.  The piece is worked in two pieces on circulars.  First the left side is worked from cuff to center and then right side is worked from cuff to center.  The two halves are then kitchner stitched together.  Although it is knitted in two pieces instead of one, the look of the finished sweater is similar to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Sweater.  The knitter, having finished the first side was unclear how to reverse the instructions into a mirror image so that she could proceed with the second side.  When a knitter is lost half way through the map of a pattern it takes a bit to become oriented, so that I can help her find her way out of the maze.  We laid out the puzzle pieces and thought it out and talked it out.  We posited several hypothesis until it became clear to me how to proceed.  I helped her clarify and write additional directions into the pattern.  We rehearsed until she felt confident that she could find her way home.  I invited her to come back when she is ready for the kitchner stitch; because it always helps to have a lifeguard on duty when diving into the kitchner pool (knitty.com/ISSUEsummer04/FEATtheresasum04.html‎). This sweater will be gorgeous; in fact, I’m thinking I’d like to make one for myself.

     My favorite puzzle yesterday was a phone consultation.  It takes special skills to solve a problem over the phone, because one has to be able to envision the actual piece.  I can do that.  I can not only see the piece, I can turn and rotate it so that I can see it from different angles.  Out of sight.  Anyway, she was knitting a hat in the round using the magic loop method.  The pattern is worked in 1X1 ribbing.  She was calling to find out how to correct a mistake she had made several rounds down.  Having made every mistake possible, over and over and over again, I have learned a few things over the years about correcting mistakes.  From her description I could see that instead of working in the round, she had worked back and forth on one side, while ignoring the other side.  This is especially easy to do while working a multidirectional stitch like ribbing.  I explained to her how to tear back to the critical decision point when she went wrong, then pick up the stitches and continue forward on the right path.  She wanted to tear it all the way back to the point of conception – no, to before conception – to the twinkle in the eye.  She wanted to frog the whole piece and start completely over again.  I tried to hide my sense of urgency when I disagreed and pressed her to follow my plan instead. 

     It is not uncommon for knitters who have made a mistake to be ready to tear back and start completely over.  This is perfectly understandable because, of course, less experienced knitters have less experience having made and corrected mistakes. So when they come to the crossroads and one path leads to frogging back to the mistake and correcting it and the other path leads to frogging the entire piece – a less experienced knitter is more apt to totally unravel and start over again. It’s more than knitting experience; my sense of urgency yesterday told me; there is something more at play here than knitting experience.  It’s life-experience, age, time. Yesterday’s knitter is a thirty-something woman heavy into her second pregnancy.  I’m a grandmother.  We see starting over from two very different places on the lifeline continuum.  It did not even occur to her to consider that there might be a limit to the amount of time she has to finish projects – she has fresh starts without limit.  For me, I’m wondering how many Judy Garland Comebacks I have left in me.  Behind my sense of urgency was the thought “There is not enough time to start over.”   

     You know you are a classic hippy chick when you don’t have time to frog back to the beginning. 



Laurel and Hardy Routine

      These days it’s still light outside at 11pm, and it’s already light outside at 4am.  During the night the Chugiak moon has an orange cast and lies low on the horizon.  Yesterday I raked snow along with leaves off my perennial beds and uncovered shoots of Iris, Sweet William and Forget-Me-Nots.  They were pulsating-green.  It’s a particular color, seen only in spring.  Even the Robins are larger than I ever remember them.  Has Spring purposefully dallied?  Just to keep us waiting?  Just to ensure that we would love her all the more when she makes her grand entrance?  Spring has arrived in Chugiak – and she has my attention.

     Hats and all the hat-paraphernalia needed for the ABG show are ready to go.  I finished up last evening.  For outdoor shows I use a screen house.  It’s an old-fashioned Colman, 12 X 12, made from a rigid plastic-like material – not one of these modern ones made from light, pliable nylon.  It’s heavy and bulky and very difficult to stuff back into its tent-bag.  Apparently the last time I used it, I had left it out to dry, because it was not stuffed back into its bag.  Because it is so large I used the front lawn for the job.  First I spread it out on the ground and folded it neatly into a triangle.  Then I grabbed the rim of the bag with one and with the other began to stuff the narrow end of the triangle into the bag.  But the bag is too deep fort my arm to reach; so I had to stop and fold the rim of the bag back first.  That took awhile; my hands are not as strong as they used to be.  I knew the end of the tent had to go all the way to the bottom of the bag, but after a few stuffs it became too wide for me to shove in.  So I tried standing on one leg and using the other foot to step the tent into the bag.  That didn’t work; my balance isn’t so good these days and I nearly fell over. 

     Nothing was going right.  I felt inept – worse than inept – bumbling.  Performing a skit: Laurel and Hardy Stuff a Screen House Into Its Bag.   About this time it occurred to me that someone could be watching.  In early spring, before the trees are leafed out my neighbor and I can see each other.  A quick, sneaky glance assured me that no one was watching, so I pressed on.  The wrestling match lasted a full thirty minutes.  Neither of us could gain complete submission.  When we finished, a bolus of the tent still bulged outside the bag.  For my part, I remained unbroken. 

     This is what pisses me off.  I stay active, eat healthy; I even go to the gym several times a week for weight training – all so that I can do things like stuff a screen house back into its bag.  Even with all that, I am no longer able to stuff a screen house into its bag.  The old Colman may be stronger than I, but I am more cunning.  I could trash that sucker and get a newfangled light weight model.  Or I could just fold it up and store it in a big plastic tub instead of its own bag.  Or I could ask someone for help. Or I could stop doing hat shows in the forest.  I vote for using a tub to store the tent – at least until I can no longer manage to set it up and take it down – then maybe I’ll get a new one.  

     Am I the only Classic Hippy Chick in transition?  I’m still engaging in my hippy chick behavior . . .  but not with my old finesse.  Maybe some of you are still riding Harleys, but no longer strong enough to manage the maintenance yourselves.  Some of you may be master gardeners who nowadays hire someone for larger landscaping jobs.  Some are chefs who hand pesky jars and bottles to someone else to open.  We are in an interesting phase of life – continuing in our various hippy chick activities – while at the same time having to step it down a bit. 


     You know you are a Classic Hippy Chick when:  you need accommodations to remain cool. 





Round Tortoise

    The sun is shining for the second day in a row in Lovely Downtown Chugiak. The snow is disappearing.  The Robins must be so pleased.  My heads and hats are staged and ready to go for the ABG show this weekend.  (See the photos in "HATS FOR SALE!" section.)  Felted salmon are drying in the wind of a fan in the guest bedroom.  I'm planning on trying my hand at garden art.





     My mother’s father’s father, Johann came over from Prussia. He played several musical instruments and possessed a college education – very unusual for a Minnesota farmer in those days.  My mother told me once that each year her grandfather would make a trip to Chicago.  I think she added “in the fall.”  I suppose, being a sensible man, he would at least wait until the harvest was in.  Imagine, back around the turn of the century, traveling all the way from St. Michael, Minnesota to Chicago, Illoinis.  I bet he took the train.  Did he catch it in Albertville, maybe?  Or hitch a ride all the way to The Cities and begin his train ride there?  We’ll never know.  Although I never met Johann from Prussia, I can see him in flesh and blood whenever I look at my parent’s wedding pictures.  On that day he was spare; although already old, he was still leaning in toward life.  He sported a long white beard among the clean shaven.  His glasses were round tortoise, circa the 20’s.  I have his glasses. 

     I took Johann’s glasses along with my new prescription to the optician last week.  Good prognosis.  They are confident that the glasses can be recycled.  The optician who accepted this mission said that just last week when he traveled to San Francisco and Europe, he noticed several people wearing retro-round glasses.  How cool is that?  Maybe they’ll come back in style.  Maybe Johann’s glasses will be the first of a coming deluge of round 20’s style glasses that are right now making their way to Alaska. If not - maybe I’ll be looking a bit odd – like Johann. 

     I spoke to my daughter, the thirty-something, Kate, this weekend.  I had already told her about her my intention to wear her great, great grandfather’s glasses.  Then I described my classic-hippy-chick blog idea.  Oh that Kate.  She’s a sharp one.  I’m so pleased with that about her.  She pointed out to me that only a hippy chick would think she could look good in round glasses.  She is so right!  I knew immediately how right-on she is.  My memory flashed back to the granny glasses of the 60’s – and John Lennon – who could forget how fine John Lennon looked.  For those of you who can only aspire to hippy chickdom – google “granny glasses 60’s.”  Out of sight! 


     Bottom line is.  You know you are a Classic Hippy Chick when you think you can look good in round glasses.


Mod Podge

     Here in Lovely Downtown Chugiak there is two inches of snow; but the sun is shining so there is hope for spring.  It's always good to know there is still Hope (www.hopealaska).  Yesterday I put new bases on the heads I use to display my hats.  I use white styrofoam heads and solid round pieces of styrofoam for the bases.  I cut a hole out of the base and the head is glued in place.  I use Mod Podge and colored tissue paper to colorfy the heads.  It's fun to concoct tissue/Mod Podge earings for the heads.  The empty heads are light and durable.  Because sometimes heads go rolling during a show - just in the fun and excitement of trying on hats - it's good to know that no damage will be done.  

THE ROBINS HAVE JUST NOW ARRIVED!  There they are. I can see them through my window right now.  How cool is that!  Melt - snow - melt. 

     Do you suspect that you or someone you know is a "Hippy Chick"?  Here's a test.  You know you are a Classic Hippy Chick when your Mod Podge is juicy and ready to go.


Extreme Gardening Alaska

     Saturday May 25th is the Alaska Botanical Garden Plant Sale.  There will be a ton of fantastic “starts”, vendors, food and Jeff Lowenfels will be there signing his new book Teaming With Nutrients.  Check it out: www.alaskabg.org.   I’ll be there selling Hats With Attitude.  I’ll also be signing my new book Tales From the Coop – Breakfast Reading.  If you can’t make it to ABG you can order a hat from this website and send for a book on Amazon. 

      True, today there is four inches of snow on the garden and it’s still snowing.  Hey, why don’t I give National Geographic a call?  I bet they’d film a show of Ultimate Survival Alaska at the ABG Plant Sale.  Let’s call it: “Extreme Gardening Alaska”.  The good news is - cold heads sell warm hats.