Monthly Archives: April 2007

Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine Is a Yarn Pusher

Hi, Anna-Liza again, with further stories about L.A. It’s taking longer to write about it than to live it! (Well, it wouldn’t if I didn’t have to eat and sleep and work between writing sessions).

So we’ve made it all the way through … Thursday. Hm. I’m going to have to pick up the pace a little. Friday was a pretty great day, in spite of being rainy and cold.

Lyda drove up from Orange County early, beating the worst of the morning traffic. (I did say “early” you know). First we hit Denny’s for breakfast (hey, they had free parking!) Once we had our blood sugar stabilized for a bit, we hit Black Sheep Knittery. While I was feeding the meter I asked, “How many hours should I put in here?” and they laughed at me. Laughed!  And–get this–Black Sheep was having a huge sale–50% off everything! Everything! (Do you fully understand the implications of “everything”? Yes. I can see that you do).

And it’s a way cool store, too. I wish I thought to get pictures, but I was so focused on getting my fix the yarn, needles, and books that I completely forgot to take the camera out of my purse.

It’s a lovely store in a little strip of lovely little stores. We spent a long time in there–long enough for the meter to run out. (Ha! Told you so!) Ms. Hotcar gathered up a big bag of beautiful stuff, including some Noro Silver Thaw and a few other goodies. We are starting a knitalong (if it can be called that, with just two of us) on Annie Modesitt’s Backyard Leaves scarf in Interweave Knits’ last Holiday issue, and we both got yarn for that. I indulged myself with some Lantern Moon ebony straights for the same scarf. They are normally way out of my price range, but at half off, they were only a little more than I will spend on a good set of bamboo needles, and I’ve been wanting some since I first saw them. Wanna see? Here:   Backyard Leaves 

Those are the Lantern Moons. Ms. Hotcar gave me the stitch marker. The yarn is Louisa Harding Grace, also from the sale. My first choice was a pink that looked like rose quartz, but there were only 3 skeins left, and I needed 4. This purple one will probably go with more of my stuff. Ms. EH bought the same colorway–purple is probably one of the few colors that both of us can wear.

I also got some bamboo circs and a skein of some rainbow textured yarn that I just liked a lot, all from the $3 bin. That’s it, but it took me a lot of yarn fondling thought to narrow down my choices to something I could fit in my suitcase reasonable. I seriously considered some Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed, also in the super-sale bins, but there were only 5 skeins of the purple I liked best. There was a black/multi that had a full bag left, but I didn’t love it. Even on sale, I pretty much have to love a yarn to buy it, unless I’m making a gift and the giftee selects the yarn. (But 50% off can turn a case of serious like into love). We found some bulky yarn and biggish needles for Lyda’s first knitting lesson as well, but I can’t remember what it was–Lyda, check your ball bands and let us know! It was pretty and a nice blend of Lyda’s colors.

Speaking of Lyda and knitting, voila!  Lyda’s first lesson

That is a photo of my two best girlfriends, Lyda (on the left contemplating her palm) and Ms. English Hotcar, (in the green suede jacket). Ms. EH gave the lesson, in continental at my request. I wanted to be able to help Lyda out, and I can’t knit English (yet). Ms. EH is a much better knitting teacher than I am.

After a refreshing coffee-and-knitting session, we headed out again for the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens, on West Adams. It’s one of those great places every city has, but hardly anyone knows about. Lyda and I each walked the labyrinth, which was a much cooler experience than I expected, and we wandered through the meditation gardens. It had been raining all day, and had cleared up just before we got there, and everything was dripping wet. It was completely gorgeous and more soul-soothing than I can possibly convey in words, or even in pictures. Here’s an attempt, though.  Peace Awareness Garden    May Peace Prevail   There are more and better photos at the website. There is information on hours and events, as well. The former mansion housing the dining room and offices/meeting rooms there is also quite beautiful and worth seeing. I can’t describe the feeling of calm content that I carried with me from there. Just go.

We hit some turbulence after the gardens. Ms. Hotcar really wanted to find this Italian place in Venice, and Lyda and I were agreeable to Italian, so we headed in that direction. Navigation was difficult–the map was very detailed, which was helpful in most ways, but made it hard to pinpoint where we were at any given moment (it’s one of those book-style maps). We got pretty darn lost.

We did spot this:  Fishie in the Sky  Lyda and I argued that it was a shrimp, but Ms. EH was right–it’s a great big fish in the sky. Unfortunately, it really should have been a shrimp, because that’s pretty much all they served, and Ms. EH is allergic. So we moved on.

For some reason, Venice was dark and deserted by the time we got there, so we went to Santa Monica. Low blood sugar and hunger were beginning to get the best of me, and I am pretty sure I got fairly whiny. We ended up eating at a little pizza joint. The crust was excellent, but the chicken was bland. Lyda says the lasagna she had was pretty good. And then we went back to the hotel, split up the schwag said our goodbyes, and Lyda headed back to the O.C.

And that’s really enough for one post, don’t you think? My next post will cover Saturday (at least), the ultimate French Dip and Fries Experience, and Knit Cafe (I need to find out how to do accents on this thing. I have this sinking feeling I might need to know code for that).

Pollyanna’s Excellent L.A. Adventure Continues

Hi, Anna-Liza here.

Lyda’s a tough act to follow. While she was having a harrowing adventure involving hot firemen and general freaking-out-ness, I was completely oblivious. I did think it was odd that she wasn’t answering emails and all, but as I frantically prepared for my trip, I didn’t worry too much. Some, but I figured she’d let me know if anything was really wrong. Um, yeah. (Do that to me again, girlie, and I’ll come out there and smack you good!)

Frantically preparing was mostly work-related. I had taken one day off a couple of weeks earlier (for the Yarn Harlot’s visit, you may recall), and returning to work after was rather less easy than one day off really should warrant. So this time, I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I had thought I was before the Harlot’s visit, but hey, I forgot all about psychically divining what my clients would do while I was away that I had no warning of. So I tried to do some of that. (Didn’t work).

Anyway, a little prequel to my arrival and meeting of Laurie … at the airport in Denver, the gate for my flight changed after I checked in, but I missed the announcement. (I am giving United the benefit of the doubt here). There I was, happily knitting away (cabled socks) cabled socks at what I thought was my gate, when I realized that it was rather later than I had realized, and the flight number on the sign wasn’t mine (nor was the destination). I blame it on severe undercaffeination, myself. The gate attendant told me at what gate I should have been knitting, and that I’d have to hurry, so hurry I did. I am pathetically out of shape. Running the whole way proved impossible, but I managed to walk damned briskly in between (shorter and shorter) bursts of running. Nevertheless, I missed my flight by about 30 seconds. My completely breathless state seems to have awoken compassion in the breast of the gate attendant. She was very kind (possibly because I did not scream about how they should get me on the plane anyhow) and at first mentioned standby … then in midsentence she said “Wait, let me see if I can do something …”, fiddled with her computer, then printed out and handed to me a boarding pass! For the very next flight! She said I was confirmed and she’d gotten the very last seat, but “you should know you’d normally be on standby all day.” I would have kisssed her if I wasn’t pretty sure she wouldn’t have taken it well. So now I say, blessings on you and those you love, gate attendant lady!

Bonus: the new gate was two down from where I was standing, rather than clear at the other end of the concourse. Bigger bonus: it was the same flight my friend Ms. English Hotcar was on. See, she had booked her flight earlier than booking mine, and couldn’t get me a seat on the same flight. But now I had one, and it made things much, much simpler on the L.A. end of things. I’ll tell you what, her double-take on seeing me was classic.

The only thing of note about the flight was that I was seated next to a gentlemen in the fashion industry, who was reading through several copies of Women’s Wear Daily and other industry periodicals, one of which had a feature article on men’s knitwear. This fall’s men’s fashions will be of interest, knittahs! (Texture! Cables! Zippered cardigans!)

Once at the hotel, Ms. Hotcar had to start preparing for work-related activities pretty much right away. I got hold of Lyda and heard an abbreviated version of the previous post. We eventually reached the conclusion that she should not try to drive to L.A. from her home in the O.C. in the middle of rush hour, even if it meant she missed the SnB and Laurie. I knew from that conversation that (a) she isn’t a Laurie-stalker in the scary sense, and (b) she must have really been feeling bad. As indeed she was, but she didn’t let on.

I promised Laurie I’d let her see the one and only pic I took of her before posting it, so y’all will just have to wait. Lord knows when she’ll have time to get back to me! Besides, the one she posted had both of us (and Frank) in it. (Thank you, Faith, for taking it!)

So, the New Otani Hotel and Garden is very nice indeed. I’d seen some mixed reviews on some of the travel sites, but the negative comments all seemed to be about stuff that I don’t  care about (what? you can’t mean they don’t completely redecorate every year?), and so it proved. The people were very nice and the service was very good. The hotel was attractive and the room was more than comfortable and clean–the whole place felt luxurious to me, without being oppressively so. There was one little, funny thing–this sign in the garage:  Garage sign

We had nice views of the rooftop garden, too. This post is already ungodly long, so for now I’ll just leave you with some pics from and in the hotel.

Daytime view from our room:

 View from the seventh floor, daylight  L.A. view by daylight  

… and by night:   Night view of garden   L.A. from the hotel, night

In the lobby of the hotel:  Lobby Sculpture   Lobby lighting

 … oh, and those socks that Laurie liked so much? The Embossed Leaves ones in lavender Wildefoote? Here you go:

Embossed leaves socks    Embossed leaves — side view

Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Narrow Escape

Or, Pollyanna on Drugs!

Lyda here. You may be wondering why I haven’t posted in a while. Gather round the campfire, and I will tell you the harrowing tale…

On Friday the 13th, Pollyanna was sitting at her desk at Huge Educational Institution, reading emails and waiting for 5 o’clock completing important work. Suddenly, I was about knocked out of my chair with intense chest pains.

Spoiler: I was not having a heart attack. My heart is fine. Now you can relax and enjoy the drama.

Being the resourceful Texas gal and calm Capricorn that y’all know, I reacted in exactly the manner you would expect: I panicked! I called my doctor’s office, but they had closed early. So I called the emergency care place near home. One of their doctors once stitched up the gash I made in my finger cutting the skin off chicken. This was obviously a sign from above that chicken has skin for a reason, and I have not skinned a chicken since. The doctor didn’t laugh at my jokes about skinless chicken not being as healthy as it was supposed to be, either. But I digress…

The woman on the phone said, “Well, if I was having chest pains like that, I’d either come here or go to the hospital emergency room.”

So, with the élan that I showed throughout this whole experience, I drove myself to the emergency care place. That’s right. I thought I was having a heart attack, so of course the logical thing was to drive myself to a doctor.

I may not have been thinking clearly, what do ya’ll think?

So, I walked into the place, and signed in. There were half a dozen people sitting there, patiently waiting their turns. So, drama queen that I am (I may have been panicking a bit at this point), I told the nurse, “I just want you to know I’m having chest pains, in case I fall over.” And I went and sat down. Seriously, if you are having chest pains, you SHOULD let the nurse know. It could save your life.

Well, next thing you know, I was ushered into a room (sorry, waiting people!) and the doctor was asking me questions. Most doctors are younger than me. They all used to be lots older than me, but now I’m their mom’s age. How did that happen? And they started to hook me up to a machine, I think it’s called an EKG? Look at me, all medical. And the doctor said, “Start her on an IV. No, wait, how long is the ambulance response time?”

How long is the ambulance response time? What kind of question is that? Whippersnapper!

Yup, they called the ambulance. And suddenly the room was full of seriously gorgeous ambulance men and firemen. Why do I never meet firemen in social situations? Where do they go when they are off duty? Ah, well, I was old enough to be their mothers too. And there was a lovely and kind ambulance woman too. And they were all talking to me at once, and I heard them say, “We’re going to transport her.”

And I’m guessing that my up-to-then sphinx-like expression changed, because one of them said, “I don’t want to scare you, ma’am.”

Too late!! I actually said that to him. And I was joking around because I didn’t want to cry or panic, and they all very nicely pretended that I was a) making sense, and b) actually funny. And this was kind of reassuring and kind of scary, because how bad was it if they were pretending to laugh at my lame jokes?

Y’all, I was strangely proud that they let me stand up and get onto the gurney. I didn’t want them to lift me onto it, like, I don’t know, someone who needed to go to the hospital! And even in the midst of my fear of having a heart attack or something, I still didn’t want these nice men to lift me because they would have found out how much I weigh, and maybe even dropped me because I’m so heavy. Priorities straight? Check.

So they wheeled me out of the place and into the ambulance, right past all those other people waiting, and I thought, “At least they know that I wasn’t just line-jumping.” Like it mattered what these complete strangers that I will never see again thought of me.

But it did.

The ambulance was tiny, and the driver was teasing the guy who was trying to get the IV in my arm. He was having trouble, what with my tiny veins and the road bumps and all, and the lovely woman was holding my hand and gently joking with me about men. Y’all, these people managed to keep me calm and feeling like this was not such a big deal. “What, going to the ER in an ambulance? No biggie.” They were awesome, and I’m sorry that I don’t remember their names. ‘Cause they are angels in blue ambulance shirts and orthopedic shoes, ya’ll.

Whatever they get paid, it’s not enough. I’m just sayin’.

Erika the Excellent ER nurse reminded me so much of one of my wonderful nieces.  Erika the Excellent was funny and comforting and possibly from the South.  All this = instant family. Bless you, Erika!

Erika encouraged me to call my emergency contact, who stayed with me for the first and very scary part of the evening. Erika took our weird conversation and strange joking and everything in stride, although she was amazed when we told her that this good friend is my son’s Evil Stepmom. That’s what she calls herself. The two of us think it’s hysterical. No one else seems to get it. Possibly we are a bit weird.

Apparently, it is unusual to call your ex’s wife from ER.

Evil Stepmom stayed with me and asked the questions that I should have been asking but was too scared and dazed and high on morphine, they have excellent drugs in the ER, ya’ll to ask. When it became obvious that I was going to spend the night in ER but that the immediate crisis had passed, she conjured me a delicious dinner, and then she went home to her daughter. Her halo was definitely showin’, ya’ll.

I spent the night in the ER, with Erika the Excellent ER Nurse, Cute Serious Young ER Doctor, and all the other fantastic folks in the ER. They were awesome, and kept me from getting freaked out. And gave me drugs whenever I whined about the pain.

It was almost pleasant. Maybe that was the drugs…

Somewhere in there I called my son, the Sith Master, and talked to him. He was spending the night with his best friend and I downplayed the whole thing and (I think) managed to keep him from worrying too much.

I didn’t call my brothers or my sister or Anna-Liza, because I didn’t want them to have a sleepless night worrying about me.

And because if I called them, it would make it all real. And I didn’t want it to be real.

And I joked around with the nurses and the doctor and the attendants, and tried to be pleasant and not complain too much.

Not because I’m brave in the face of adversity or anything. Because my brain clicked into this weird survivor mode. If I joked, it wasn’t real.

And I remember thinking “if I’m nice and they like me, they will want to save my life.”

I was afraid, ya’ll. I was really really afraid. Also, on drugs. Did I mention the drugs?

The next morning, they did more tests and my heart and lungs are doing great. I told the guy, I think his name was Antonio, who pushed my wheelchair all morning that it was the best ride in the place. “Antonio’s Wild Wheelchair Ride.” A Disneyland joke, ya’ll. He was sweet enough to pretend it was funny.

The only unpleasant person I dealt with the whole time – except for the cardiologist who was rude to the attendants and completely ignored me, but personality is NOT my first priority for someone who might have to open up my chest – was the new nurse who told me I was going home. Call her Nazi Nurse.

Evil Stepmom had brought the Sith Master to see me, and Nazi Nurse would not let them in the room. But Nazi Nurse was no match for Evil Stepmom, who triumphed in the end and came in the room and asked a whole bunch of questions that I should have been asking (but didn’t – morphine, remember?). Also, Evil Stepmom Knows People at the hospital, so I think Nazi Nurse may have rued the day.

So, anyway, that’s Pollyanna’s ER Adventure.

And I’m still in pain, but we know it’s not my heart or my lungs. They still don’t know what’s wrong. It could be a new fibromyalgia symptom. I see another specialist tomorrow.

Thanks for reading all this. Next time, I promise cool stuff about Anna-Liza and LA and knitting.

And really huge shrimp.

Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and Crazy Aunt Purl

Oh geez. I better post something for all you folks coming here from Laurie’s site! I still don’t have photos–the ones I took, I have to find the cable for the camera to upload. I’m so very organized, you see. And the ones Laurie took, well, she’s been too busy to email them to me. As you can see, if you’ve read her most recent posts. (Yay, Laurie!)

When I got to L.A., it was warm and very windy, and my allergies went into overdrive. I was a snotty mess. And then I found out Lyda had been ill and wasn’t quite up to driving from Orange County at rush hour (shame on you, Lyda, for not telling me you were sick!) So I used the links Laurie had sent me to figure out bus schedules and eventually got on a bus to her SnB. It was even the right bus and everything! But it was about half an hour later than the one I had intended to catch.

I went from a pretty nice neighborhood (Little Tokyo) through some pretty scary-looking parts of L.A. and back into a nice neighborhood again. The folks on the bus were all just fine–nothing at all scary or intimidating happened. I was just glad that some of those stops weren’t my stop. There was graffiti on the trees, people! For some reason, that blows my mind more than anything else in L.A.

Got to the place, found the knitters (there were lots and lots of knitters), found Laurie, got a great big hug. She’s a terrific hugger, I tell you what! (I’m just guessing here, but it appears to me that in some parts, folks do not greet by hugging? Even if they sorta kinda know each other through mutual friends or, say, reading each others’ blogs? Seems kind of unfriendly to me.)

Not only did I meet Laurie, I met Faith and Jennifer somebody else and someone else and I don’t remember who all else. I mean, I remember them, but not their names. Someone was hand quilting something lovely and orange and green on a cream background. Another (Jessica) was knitting a rag rug out of strips cut from old T-shirts (I must try that!) And there was charming Frank, who was working on Clapotis in bamboo. I will just say, I am going to have to get my hands on some bamboo and make a summer top out of it.

But not Clapotis. I understand half the blogosphere is knitting it or has knit it, but I don’t get the attraction. I’m apparently flawed in some fashion. My friend Ms. English Hotcar did Clapotis, and I should mention she completely doesn’t understand my obsession with socks. So I guess there are just bits of the knitting universe that are blind spots for each of us! (Like there are some people who don’t like chocolate). Frank’s Clapotis is loverly–I loved looking at it and touching it. (If you’re reading this blog and you don’t know what Clapotis is, then get your mind out of the gutter and follow the link!)

Anyway, Laurie is sweet and funny in person as well as in print (think I mentioned that), and totally didn’t let on that she is a Published Author. Or About-to-be-published. That. The girl can keep a secret.

The socks she was admiring? They were the Embossed Leaves socks from Interweave Knits (Winter 2005). They’re also in this book, which is on my covet list. I made them in Brown Sheep Wildefoote, in a nice lavender–don’t have the ball band handy for the actual name of the colorway. I’m pretty happy with them.

So I ate Brazilian barbecue (sublime), joked with Laurie and Frank about the hottie cashier at the Brazilian barbecue place, knit some on my shawl (from Vogue Knitting Fall 2005), and had a generally great time. Unfortunately, since I was so late getting on the bus (which was a 40 minute ride) I was only there for a bit over an hour, which is entirely too short a time to enjoy such good company. But Frank gave me a lift back to my hotel and even stopped by a drugstore so I could buy a toothbrush–I’d forgotten to pack mine. What a nice guy! And intelligent and artistic, too! (He’s taken. Just sayin’).

Faith took pictures of Laurie and Frank and me together. The idea is that, eventually, Laurie will email one to Frank and to me (after judicious Photoshopping) and we will all three post the same pic on our blogs. That would be good, because I’m so not a photographer type, and I’m really not so much a Photoshop person, either, so the shots I took don’t have such a great chance of turning out. Even once I’ve gotten them on the computer … although I promise, I’ll post some!

I can’t post about everything everything everything all at once. I have to get some knitting and sleeping time in (oh, and do some work and pay attention to my family), and there’s just too much to post about! Coming up in future installments of Pollyanna’s Excellent L.A. Adventure, knitting shops ( I only went to two–I had a cold!), Little Tokyo, sublime food experiences, walking the labyrinth, hanging out with my girlfriends.

Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Severe Lack of Sleep

Hey there, Anna-Liza here. I’m back, I had a fabulous time, and I’m at work about to go find out if anything blew up while I was gone. I’ll post later and hopefully have some decent pics to go with it. Lyda may have something for you, too.

I will just say that Laurie and Frank are both warm and cool people, the West Hollywood SnB was welcoming and fun, and there is excellent food accompanied by serious eye candy in the immediate vicinity. And I’ll tell you more (much more) as soon as I can. Or maybe after I get some sleep.

Pollyanna Studies the TSA list

Hi, Anna-Liza here.

I’m preparing for my mini-vacation in L.A. Very exciting! I’ve exchanged email with Laurie and, if all goes well, I’ll be meeting her and her fellow SnB-ers tomorrow night!

 I’ve printed out the TSA list and borrowed some luggage (as mine is both ancient and ridiculously large for a long weekend). I’ll have minimal computer access (or none) while I’m gone.

Here’s another Blogthing I rather liked, and my results:

You Are 64% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you’re also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.
But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.
You’re open to considering every possibility – but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

How Open Minded Are You?

Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Challenge of Eris

Ooooooo … sounds scary, doesn’t it? Nah. It’s not too boring, not too hard … just right.

Eris is a remarkable cabled sweater pattern I bought from The Girl from Auntie, probably over a year ago. She is the originator of the famous Rogue hoodie that was all the rage not long ago. I bought that pattern, too, at the same time, but have not yet found the right yarn for it. (She’s also got a pattern in Amy R. Singer’s No Sheep for You, which I want very, very, very much. But I can’t remember her name for the life of me, and I can’t find it on her website! But hey, it’s midnightish and I should be sleeping instead of blogging and knitting). I’m doing the pullover, not the cardigan.

So anyway, I’ve had Eris on the needles for almost that long. I found the yarn for it at the going-out-of-business sale at Aurora yarns … so maybe it was two years ago? A year and a half. Gah. I have no time sense at all. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Merino Aran, in color 506, which I will describe as something between bottle green and forest green.

Luckily I came down with the flu, which made me woozy when I tried to do anything involving standing or driving, but I was fine as long as I was resting.

 Yes, I said “luckily”. If you’re a knitter, you get it completely and probably didn’t even bat an eyelash.

I got a really good long sit-&-knit period right at the time I cast on. The beginning is the beautiful, complex, no-chatting-allowed cabled neckline.  There are Idunnamany charts to this baby, and I think more than half the chartage is the neckline cabling!

I got the body done and started the cabled/horizontally ribbed lower border, and then got stuck. It wasn’t that I was incapable of doing the last cabled bit, it was that I couldn’t do it without a good chunk of uninterrupted, focused time. Oh. Hm. Mr. B. and Mr. R. are not happy with Mama focusing on anything but them for long, uninterrupted times. And my breaks at work weren’t really long enough to get very far.

So on Saturday, Darlin’ K suggested I take a break in the morning and go to one of our local coffee places for a couple of hours. I headed down to Java Stop, because they’re cool and funky and friendly but, because they usually close at 2 p.m., I hardly ever get to do anything but stop in for a to-go mocha.

And … in spite of having two nice conversations with other people, I got the last corner of the bottom border done! Now, I’m only about three inches from finishing the border, and I can start the sleeves!

I may even be able to wear Eris next winter! Yay me!

By the way, this pattern is totally worth the six bucks. It is meticulous and thorough. If you just do what the lady says, you’ll have a gorgeous sweater at the end of it, and a really great education in thoughtful pattern/sweater design. I swear, the details in this thing are freakin’ brilliant. She has this nice, neat, simple way of treating the edges without resorting to traditional ribbing (which I like most of the time, but would be totally wrong on this design). And even though the charts seemed intimidating at first, I’m finding that if I use something to help me keep track of where I am (sticky note), I’m fine. The symbols she uses are even logical.

Oh, and you may have noticed that in the linkfest, I didn’t link Java Stop. They don’t have a webpage. Sorry! But frankly, it would be a little weird if they did. You’d have to go there, but then you’d get it.

Oh, and since this is all about knitting? You know who it is, don’t you?