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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Field Trip, Reunion, Color Therapy

Posted by Janis on February 28, 2009

Pam's show at William Woods University

Pam's show at William Woods University

I took a field trip yesterday. Even the words “field trip” give me a little buzz — the memories of school day getaways to places unusual, new sights to see, time to hang out with friends on the bus to and from, trying to get truckers to honk their horns and singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” at the top of our lungs until the driver or our teacher begged for mercy (usually around Bottle #83, as I recall). I wonder if sixth graders are allowed to sing about taking down bottles of beer and passing them around these days? Probably not.

So — I drove to Fulton yesterday to meet up with a dear old friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen for twenty years. Pam had a show of her art quilts at her alma mater, William Woods University, and it was my first chance to see her work in person. You can see it, too — a couple of images anyway. And you simply must go to Pam’s wonderful website/blog to see all her work: .

I had been following Pam’s adventures in quilting online for a year or so now, but seeing the work in person is absolutely overwhelming. It is the most exciting art I’ve seen in … well, maybe ever! Yesterday was gray and cold, and walking into the gallery was like getting a super-shot of pure color therapy, relief for the winter blues. When you see the quilts from a distance, they look like paintings. Pam has created all these amazing techniques to apply drawing and painting techniques to fabric, so the quilts are incredibly textured and dimensional. Looking at them close up, you can see they are created from an infinite variety of different patterns of fabric, painstakingly chosen to contrast, blend, or do whatever The Artiste wants them to do — she is master of her materials, that’s certain. Pam has a stunning sense of color, as you can see, plus her sense of humor comes through the work so clearly. I laughed out loud looking at the quilts — in the Food Pyramid (below), the hieroglyph camel has a tiny cigarette hanging out of his mouth, for instance. Pam calls them “cartoon quilts,” and that is really apt.

It was so great to see Pam after all these years. We had a good laugh about my taking her to her first concert – Kansas – and my brother swiping my car to take his girlfriend home, leaving us stranded so that Pam didn’t get home till 2 a.m. — to a frantic mother. (This was way before cell phones, dear readers — and I doubt if either of us had enough change to make a long-distance call on a pay phone.) Pam was one of those people who, even as a kid, you just knew she would do amazing things. If there had been an award for “Most Likely To Live An Artistic Life,” Pam would have won. Because she did and she is and I am so very proud of her.

Pam and Food Pyramid

Pam and Food Pyramid


Portrait of the Artist as a Young (still!) Quilter and Me


Posted in Therapy, Travel | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Knit It and They Will Come…

Posted by Janis on March 31, 2008

Spring break was a glorious affair this year: headed up to the mountains as usual (Leadville, Colorado – our family’s stomping – and skiing – grounds) and spent a great week with my dad (skiing like a pro at 79), brother and sister-in-law, and nieces. The skiing was fantastic, the snow perfect, nothing but sunshine, good eats, great company — but the highlight? The very highlight of the entire break? My nieces wanted to knit!

The girls are ages 9 and 10, and though I had given them each a little knitting kit for Christmas 2 years ago, they hadn’t shown much interest in learning themselves. I didn’t mention it, but I’m always knitting around them — always. So at our cozy rental house, Hannah picked up some size 9 KnitPicks Options tips that were lying around (not even on a cable) and some scrap yarn and started moving her hands in a knit-like fashion. I said, “Want me to show you how to do it? You almost have the moves down.” And she took off. Then Rachel had to do it, too. All I had left to teach her on were some size 6 dpn’s — no problem. Her little fingers grabbed ’em and away she went. I cast on just 10 stitches for each of them, and told them they could knit till they had little squares and they’d be blankets for the tiny bears I gave them in their Easter baskets that morning. h-knitting.jpgr-knitting.jpg Hannah is sporting the ski hat I’d just finished.

After they knitted for about half and hour or so, Hannah was getting frustrated so I suggested a game of dominoes. She set up the game and said, “Rachel, come on. We’re ready to play.” Rachel’s reply? “Just a minute, Hannah — I have to finish this row.” She’s hooked, my friends, hooked! I couldn’t be prouder. She wouldn’t go to bed till she finished her little bear-blanket, yawning every third stitch. Hannah finished hers in the morning. Here they are:


And Hannah’s bear with his blankie: hs-bear-blanket.jpg

The next evening I was working on the back of my cabled vest. Rachel was watching me like a hawk, asking what the stitch markers were for and how the yarn made the cables. Then she said, “I want to learn to knit in a circle.” So I cast on 60 stitches for her on a size 10 circ and told her that if she knit four or five rounds, she’d have a headband. (I’m doing the casting off, you understand.) So she sat there and didn’t budge till she’d done 5 rounds. My sister-in-law Liz took this shot of the two of us:

r-me-knitting.jpgAnd that’s how I turned two very modern little girls into little old ladies in just two nights… I’m telling you, they ate it up.

Posted in On the Needles, Travel | 5 Comments »

Winding Up 2007

Posted by Janis on January 2, 2008

diasnow.jpgThis was the scene at Denver International Airport on December 27, as we waited (and waited) for our flight to Ft. Lauderdale. We were supposed to go through Chicago, but a wise and kind American Airlines associate named Rick (you know who you are and you’re fabulous) rerouted us through Dallas/Ft. Worth to get away from the snow. I hopped on Priceline, got us a great room at the DFW Hyatt Regency for $50, and voila! Lemonade — maybe even a lemon drop martini — it was sooooo nice to have a night to ourselves between the 2 family visits! Our luggage was somewhere else, but we were safe and warm, enjoying a great meal, cushy hotel room, and the front desk even hooked us up with complimentary toiletries so we could have clean teeth! If only I carried extra smalls in my knitting bag, we’d have wanted for nothing… When we did arrive in Ft. Lauderdale the next evening, we were rested, relaxed, and ready for another round of holiday cheer. Orestes is lobbying for building in a night like this every time we do the 2-family loop…

I did get a couple of things accomplished while waiting at DIA, namely winding a skein of Lorna’s Laces to cast on for Orestes’ pirate socks (again). Orestes said he had always wanted to be “one of those husbands who holds the yarn in old movies,” so I was in luck. Here we are: kikiwinder.jpg

When we finally got on the plane to DFW, I realized I needed the cream yarn wound, too, so I improvised this handy in-flight ball winder. (Orestes was sleeping.) It worked better than I had hoped and I was able to get through about half of the pirate pattern chart on the flight. I would be completely through the chart before I’d realize there was a problem, but that’s another story for another post. ballwinding.jpg

Posted in On the Needles, Travel | Leave a Comment »

Special Guest Blog Dog, Louis

Posted by Janis on October 18, 2007


Yes, yes — I had a brush (and a lick or two!) with fame while in New York. This is Louis, the understudy bulldog for “Legally Blonde” on Broadway. His trainer, Rob, gave a workshop on working with critters onstage at our conference, and Louis decided I was his new best buddy. Ask me how much I loved that…

Other glimpses at famous folk around the Big Apple: Orestes was nearly mowed down by Greta Van Susteren as she zoomed down 42nd Street with her wheeled attaché, giving notes to her (non-wheeled) attaché. We hung around the stage door at the Biltmore after “Mauritius” and had a chance to meet Bobby Cannavale and F. Murray Abraham — both so gracious and indulgent of our compliments on their performances — very exciting. Then we saw Beck at the Chelsea Goodwill — well, Orestes spotted him – I wouldn’t recognize him (or his music) if he/it bit me on the ass. But it is fun to be in a place where all sorts of celebrated people just walk around doing normal people things. OK, OK, so I got a little star-struck in New York – so sue me.

Two posts on New York – that’s plenty. When I get caught up on the rest of my life, I’ll fill you in on my knitting projects, which include a potentially lethal experiment using Noro Kureyon for a Wonderful Wallaby… Maybe not so wonderful, that idea.


Posted in The Blog Dogs, Travel | 3 Comments »


Posted by Janis on October 18, 2007

I have been away so long, it’s hard to know where to start. Since I’ve spent a couple of weeks wondering where to start, I think I’ll just jump in at the point I left off, which is a trip to New York at the end of September. My wonderful school sent me to New York for the Educational Theatre (edTA) Conference, which was held smack in the middle of the Theatre District, Manhattan. It was a great conference (yes, even the sessions!), Orestes got to come with me, and we had time outside the conference for plenty of theatre adventures, and even a day prowling the Chelsea Antique Markets. AND – last but not least – I made a pilgrimage to School Products. More on that in a minute. First — the pix:




havana.JPGFrom left to right: the obligatory “me in Times Square” shot, “Mauritius” at the Biltmore Theatre (great!); “Mary Poppins” (I loved it for sentimental reasons – sniff); Havana Central – fab Cuban restaurant in the Theatre District with live and smokin’ Cuban band (eat, dance, eat, dance… even the servers and bus folks are bustin’ a move)(order the paella); Orestes at the Hard Rock with Lou Reed’s outfit from the album cover of “Transformer” (he asked me to fully identify this, owing to the sanctity of these garments). We also saw “Forbidden Broadway,” which was brilliant, sharp as a razor — even after 25 years of parodying Broadway.

I think I should confess that when we got to our seats for “Mary Poppins,” I had a little meltdown, missing my mother, as “Mary Poppins” was a very special film for us. We had talked of going to London when it opened there in musical form, but didn’t get it done before she passed. The whole show was a pretty emotional experience for me — and you can just fugeddabout the Bird Lady — I was a mess. (I never could take that number.)

Back to my pilgrimage to School Products. I had exactly an hour and a half lunch break during Friday’s meetings to hoof it from about 35th and 8th down to 23rd and Broadway, so off I went. School Products is on the 3rd floor of a building in the Fashion District, with a sign saying “YARN” in the window that faces the street. I went up in the elevator, the door opened, and Behold! There it was, School Products. I was greeted by the very kind and knowledgeable Mr. Karapetyan, husband of the famous Berta Karapetyan, knitwear designer (“Runway Knits”). He gave me a good introduction to the shop and the yarns it carries, then left me to roam, ogle, and pet the yarns at will. School Products is known for its coned yarns, and for good reason. They have beautiful, luxurious yarns at amazing prices for larger quantities. I bought a cone of cream-colored merino-cashmere blend that is soooo soft, and has a nylon binder to keep those soft fibers together in the garment. I feel like a real pro when I buy coned yarn — there’s something exciting about having NO ENDS to join in a sweater and NO FEAR of running out of yarn. I have plenty to make at least 2 sweaters of any style I choose. School Products is also the home of Karabella Yarns – Berta created the line – so of course they carry the complete line, in all their colorful glory. How I wish I could skip a month’s bills and spend the money here! They have lots of cashmere and cashmere blends at very good value, and a silk/cotton blend that I couldn’t resist. School Products has many items available online at: I only had time for one yarn shop on this trip to New York, and I’m very happy with my choice. Thanks to Knitties who recommended it on the Knittyboard!


Here it is, in not-a-great picture. Mr. Karapetyan, on the other hand, is looking good, weighing my cone of merino-cashmere.

Posted in Bloggish, Knitterly Shops, Travel | Leave a Comment »