(Not Even) Three Days in Geeksboro

How to make a mini-vacation in a place where you wouldn’t think such a thing is possible:

1. Take the time to go to a nice restaurant in the area. Fast food is fine when you’re on the road, but restaurants can make memories. Absent that, make a memory by just showing proof that you were there.

Family Selfie: Trish, Steven and John

Family Selfie: Trish, Steven and John

Here we are at The Chop House in High Point, NC. Steven likes steak, so why not? It was delicious, by the way, and fancy! They even put a purple flower on my plate:

Steak and mushrooms with purple flower

Steak and mushrooms with purple flower

(How did they manage to make my dinner match my hair?)

2. If the hotel has a pool, stop by, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s always more fun when you say you went swimming.

Steven swims while Trish knits

Steven swims while Trish knits

Did I mention? Always bring your knitting. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in hundreds of miles.

3. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast watching cartoons, if for no other reason than to block out the horrid news of that particular day:

Steven eats breakfast while watching cartoons tableside

Steven eats breakfast while watching cartoons tableside

4. Find your kindred spirits, go where they are, and embrace them. We can’t hide the fact that we’re nerds. We argue amongst ourselves that there are varying degrees of nerdiness, and that some in our family can raise the Geek Flag way higher than some others. But, we can’t escape it. It’s who we are, and we’re proud. So imagine finding out that Greensboro is actually quite the center for Geek Culture. We found a fun coffee house where “our people” hang:

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Find your people:

Steven plays video gamesSteven plays video games

Steven plays video games

John shares stories with a coffeehouse patron

John shares stories with a coffeehouse patron

Partake of the cultural foods:

Caramel Bacon Cupcake

Caramel Bacon Cupcake

Can someone explain to me the geek culture/bacon connection? I don’t quite get it. But, when we got to the coffee house, and saw they had caramel bacon cupcakes in the dessert case, we had to try one! Or, at least I did. It was surprisingly yummy… it was an apple spice cake with salted caramel frosting and bacon on top. Not that I would eat this every day, but when in the land of geeks…

Wishing we could have been there for game night:

Wall of board games

Wall of board games

And don’t forget to take a family photo with the TARDIS on the way out!

Trish, John, and Steven with the TARDIS

Trish, John, and Steven with the TARDIS

5. Keep your eyes open, because when you’re headed to one specific place, you never know what else you’ll find along the way. In our case, there was an amazing comic book store right next to the coffee house, Acme Comics:

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

The boys are finding things they like in the comic book store

The boys are finding things they like in the comic book store

Group of campers visits the comic book store

Group of campers visits the comic book store

While we were in the comic book store, some kids from a local comic book day camp stopped in. They were able to browse and ask questions. One kid asked what was the biggest difference between comics of today, and vintage comics. The owner replied that today, comics are mostly produced by one person or a small group, using a computer, and that in the “olden days” it was a multi-step process involving lots of people working by hand. There was a book in the store that explained this process.

John and Steven found a comic book

John and Steven found a comic book

John and Steven found a comic book that they couldn’t pass up, which was a mashup of Doctor Who and Star Trek, the Next Generation. I’ve always heard that you’re not supposed to mess with the space-time continuum this way, but what do I know?

6. If you’re a knitter, follow the smell of yarn fumes. It will lead to magical places:

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

In Downtown Greensboro there is a thriving artist district, full of galleries and quaint shops and restaurants. This is where one would find Gate City Yarns, which contains a wide variety of yarns and spinning fibers. It is a lovely, comfortable shop with helpful staff and comfy couches, a spacious classroom in back (I peeked) and an atmosphere that just makes you want to hang out a while. I visited the shop on our trip to Greensboro last year, and it was well worth the return trip. Of course, if you’re not a knitter or crocheter or spinner, then waiting around while your loved one shops isn’t really a hardship there:

This is how John and Steven shop for yarn.

This is how John and Steven shop for yarn.

7. Find a restaurant with character to have lunch, instead of eating fast food, and enjoy it.

The nice lady at the yarn store recommended a tavern called Liberty Oak for lunch, and it was yummy! It was a nice place that offered outdoor seating. It was a nice day and not too hot, so why not? Here we are:

Trish, Steven and John

Trish, Steven and John

Trish and John

Trish and John

I have to say I had one of the best sandwiches I’d ever eaten:

Sandwich and fruit

Sandwich and fruit

The sandwich consisted of smoked turkey, Granny Smith apples, sprouts, and bleu cheese/walnut spread on toasted raisin bread. And a lovely assortment of fresh fruit. My mouth is still watering; it was delicious!

8. Don’t forget the real reason you headed to a place like Greensboro to start with. For us, it was that our daughter was participating in the UNC Greensboro Summer Music Camp, and there was a recital on the last day, that we did not want to miss. Diana was first chair flute this year, and had the honor of performing two solos, one on flute, and the other on piccolo. Here is one piece in which Diana had a solo. It’s called “Song for Lyndsay.” As you’re looking at the stage, Diana is to the right of the conductor with the bun in her hair:

Here are some other images from that wonderful event:


As an aside, if you have a kid who participates in instrumental music, vocal music, or piano, we cannot recommend UNC Greensboro’s Summer Music Camp highly enough. The experience is superb, the music is fantastic, and your kid will come away with an experience to remember forever. We are so proud that Diana was able to participate for two years.

9. When in the South, you must eat at Cracker Barrel. The Old Country Store is full of entertaining things:


As you can see, we crammed a LOT into our little trip to Greensboro. Maybe someday soon, we’ll go back and actually set a spell, as my grandfather would have said. Maybe we’ll even stay awhile. We kinda fit right in. :)

Just a Lovely Afternoon (not) Knitting at Knit Group

I always have a great time at knit group, and today was no exception. Except, for some reason, I didn’t knit a stitch. Often it happens that I knit very little at group time, because there’s always food, and conversation, and patterns to search for on the iPad, and all that sort of stuff. Today I think I was more focused on photographing knitting than working on knitting. It wasn’t my goal to show the projects in progress from a technical standpoint, so that you can really get a sense o the project. Instead, I was after the art of knitting, and the beauty of stitches. I only snapped a few today, but I will get more next time. These are the ones that caught my eye today, though…


We also welcomed Kayla and Lily to our group today. Kayla just moved here from Hawaii TWO weeks ago and was already seeking out the company of knitters. I hope she’ll find a home with us! And Lily? Miss Adorable, she is! As you can see in the photo she loves to help her mama with her knitting! (Don’t worry, Kayla, Aunt Marie will have Lily knitting in no time!)

Sometimes, it’s less about the thing, and more about the people. Today was one of those days for me. I am glad to have my knitting friends, and I’m already looking forward to next time.

In the meantime, I’ve got lots of knitting to do! Catch you later!

Renaissance Boy

Steven, playing clarinet while sitting in his favorite tree.

Steven, playing clarinet while sitting in his favorite tree.

I’ve been bragging on Facebook about my daughter a lot lately, so today it’s my son’s turn in the spotlight. He’s very bright, a little quirky, and he waves the geek flag very proudly. He’s a mostly straight-A student, who plays the clarinet, has made a point to get over the feeling of stage fright because he loves dancing, singing and acting, and he can go head-to-head with his math geek math teacher at chess, and win.

What I did not know, until yesterday, is that he is also a budding poet. He has an assignment in his Language Arts class to create a book of his favorite poems. He can include stuff from famous poets, stuff he’s read in class, and even people he knows or his own poems. So he decided yesterday to write a poem of his own. And he sat down, and did this, in almost no time.

Perhaps he has a future as a greeting card writer? Maybe…. when he’s done writing mathematical theorems or starring in this one-man off-off-Broadway show.

THE FOUR SEASONS

Spring, a time of new beginnings,
A time for life and a time for living,
The time when the new bird sings,
With flowers, bees, all sorts of things!
With pollen stirring through the air,
Oh, springtime! So wonderful and fair.

Summer’s next, coming with overwhelming heat,
When the kids run around the fields with just their bare feet,
And the greatest way to stay refreshed and cool,
Is just relaxing by the pool.
The little kids play without a care,
It’s summertime! With plenty of heat to share.

Next is fall, or autumn if you’d please
When the wind blows, and leaves fall with ease,
With colors of red, brown, and orange,
Oh, I forgot! Nothing rhymes with orange!
Piles of leaves stacked up so tall and fair,
It is fall! And people celebrate everywhere.

Last is winter, which is when you hear
Yuletide carols from through the years,
For it’s the season of giving, and you should know,
That it is Christmas, with the ground covered in snow.
The year is nearly gone, but do not despair,
A new year is coming, with a new hope and a new prayer.

By: Steven Day

Festival Booty

Here is my yarn haul from this year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! I didn’t go in wanting anything in particular, but in the end it seems color and gradient yarns won the day. My photos aren’t the best this go-round, but hopefully good enough to get the idea. I was afraid to take the yarns out of the packaging for fear that they’d never get back in!

First up is this little set of skeins from Miss Babs:

mini skeins of yarn in greens, blues and purples

Miss Babs Polydactyl set

This is a Polydactyl Set to use for the Pterodactyl Polydactyl Scarf, but they told me it’s also enough yarn to make an Albers Cowl, which I have been drooling over for quite some time.

Next up is my gradient kit from Unique Sheep:

Unique Sheep gradient yarn set in greens, blues, purples and pinks

Unique Sheep gradient yarn set in greens, blues, purples and pinks

Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the vendor who was selling these but I have been drooling over these yarn sets for a very long time. You can probably see why in the photo; the colors are simply astounding! No, I don’t have any idea what this one will be yet. I’m waiting for the Yarn Gods to speak.

Last, but certainly not least, is my gradient yarn from Fiber Optic:

Fiber Optic gradient yarn from deep blue to purples to oranges

Fiber Optic gradient yarn from deep blue to purples to oranges

I can definitely say that I have also been eyeing the Paintbox Gradients from this company for quite some time, and to see the yarn in person is nothing short of amazing. The photo here doesn’t do it justice at all with how rich the colors are. I will have to re-shoot when I take it out of the box and start working with it. This one, I definitely have a plan for. I am going to make this shawl, which was hanging over my head as I was eyeing the yarns. I’m pretty sure it was sending me subliminal messages, daring me to make one:

Evenstar Shawl in Fiber Optic Gradient yarn

Evenstar Shawl in Fiber Optic Gradient yarn

This is the Evenstar Shawl pattern by Susan Pandorf. I’m not a Lord of the Rings fan but she says it is inspired by that. I guess that means that if I ever get this one done, I could equally wear it to knitting events and nerd conventions! Haha. (The last one I attended a couple of weeks ago was crawling with Jayne Hats. I’ve got one of those on the needles, too.) So, I don’t know what I was thinking because this shawl is HUGE and will probably mock me for the rest of my days. But the yarn is so pretty I could not resist.

The lady in the Fiber Optic booth was very helpful to both my friend Nancy and me, in choosing yarn and reaching things and running crowd interference. We both really appreciated that! She also told both of us about a technique called “The Magic Knot” for joining yarns together, and told us to look it up on YouTube, which, of course, I immediately did:

I have never used this join, but it certainly looks very easy, and I’m going to try it! What say you, knitters? Does this join really work, and does it hold up over time? I’m guessing I would otherwise do a Russian join but the Magic Knot seems so much less fussy!

Sigh… at the rate I’m going with my current project, I may never get to find out, one way or the other. It’ll be a while yet before I can move on to anything new. That’s ok, for now my new yarns can be my pets, and I will show them off at knit group and dream about what someday they will become. In the meantime, I’ve still got lots of other knitting to do, and a deadline fast approaching!

Goodnight for now; once again, I’ve managed to go past the Pumpkin Hour. Tomorrow is a long day, with a full day of work, long meetings, and then tomorrow night Boyzilla is performing in his school’s Spring Musical. He’s in High School Musical, Jr. as “Skater Dude #2,” or something like that, which means he’s in the chorus. I can’t wait to see this! Look for pics of that in this space, soon!

Sunday was Festival Day!

I feel like I had the best day, EVER. I know I say that nearly every year about the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, but this year, I think I mean it. My good friend Nancy joined us for the fun (she was a newbie!) so I had the fun of showing her around and watching her light up as she encountered some of her favorite yarn vendors in person. I tried something new for lunch (artichoke hearts sauteed in garlic) and engaged in quite a bit of fiber-related retail therapy myself.

Last week I posted on Facebook that I managed to snap one of the umbrella canes on my beautiful cherry wood floor swift by Strauch Fiber Equipment Company. I contacted Otto, and asked if I could bring my swift to him for repair, fully expecting that he would take it home and fix it sometime in the future. Not only did he fix it for me AT the festival, but he fixed for me for FREE. I can’t believe he did that, considering that I’m the one who broke the thing! Thanks, Otto! I really appreciate you!

The best part of today’s show for me, though, was seeing a lot of people I know, and being among the kindred spirits in the knitting and fiber community. It was a beautiful day, the pace was relaxing because it was Sunday instead of Saturday, and I got to see and meet a lot of people.

Below is my gallery of photos! If you click the photos, you’ll see detailed captions.


More about my purchases in another post, but I am sure you will notice a sort of a theme to my shopping this year when you see it. I didn’t have any particular shopping goals in mind, but the yarn fates were at work and guided me very specifically this year. You’ll see… soon. For now, I’ve got to get to bed, else this tired wheelchair battery will be of no more use to me than a pumpkin at midnight.

Thanks to my wonderful husband for helping to make this such a special day! I love you!

Goodnight for now.

Photo Geek Moment

I’m a little peeved.

Ever since Adobe has moved from a per-product pricing system to a subscription-based system for its professional-level products, I’ve pretty much been done with Adobe. I’m pretty mad at them, that their products are now out of my reach. I know Elements is their “consumer” product, and frankly I might have to go there. But I have a little more knowledge than the average consumer, and have, in the past, bought versions of Adobe’s Creative Suite of products for my needs. I just can’t hack the expense of an ongoing subscription. But, herein lies my problem. You see, this week, I met this little flower:

Buttercup photo as shot by my camera

Buttercup photo as shot by my camera

This first photo is how the flower looked as it came out of my camera. It is easy to see that the white areas are over-exposed, and “blown out.” So, I hadn’t posted the photo anywhere, because I wasn’t happy with it.

I own a copy of Corel’s product, After Shot Pro, which is I guess supposed to be their answer to Adobe Bridge for processing of Camera Raw files. But, while focusing on the white areas of the flower only, and trying to get the detail to pop out, I just couldn’t do it, no matter what I tried. And I ended up with a sort of dark, ugly result. Anything else, and I was right back to the blown out white flower.

buttercup photo processed in Corel AfterShot Pro

buttercup photo processed in Corel AfterShot Pro

And of course, here is the same flower in Adobe Bridge:

Buttercup photo processed with Adobe Bridge software

Buttercup photo processed with Adobe Bridge software

I give up, Adobe. You win. I still hate you, but you win. Poop.

What I See…

I spend a lot of time browsing sites that offer yarn and knitting related stuff. Last week I was looking at stitch markers, mostly, but I couldn’t help myself and I peeked at some yarn. Then I saw these two colors, and they called to me right away:

Three balls of yarn in two colorways, that go from bright yellow, to orange, to purples

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock

When put together, these two colorways said “sunset”to me. I am picturing a circular shawl with some sort of sunburst motif in the center, and who knows what else?

Of course, I am knee-deep in a whole other project right now, so it will be a while. But, that way, I’ll have time to think it through.

Can you see it?

Knit Companion: My New Best Friend

You know how when something comes along that totally changes how you do things, in a way that’s so extraordinary, you wonder how you ever functioned without it before? I’ve had very few of those moments in my knitting life, but I can name them while counting off on one hand: circular needles, magic loop, Ravelry, and now–Knit Companion.

Knit Companion Logo

Knit Companion Logo

Knit Companion is an app for iPad or iPhone. I actually downloaded the free version upon first getting my iPad last year but didn’t play with it much, as it didn’t seem all that exciting. But then a couple of months ago I saw a friend at knit group using the paid version of the app, and it was so amazing I purchased it on the spot. (The full version is $15.99, but not only is it worth the cost of the app, to me, as an avid knitter, it is worth the cost of the iPad itself. And that is saying something.)

But what does it do. you ask? For me, the answer is nothing short of, “it makes the impossible, possible.” Knit Companion allows the user to take a knitting pattern, that is often a jumble of words, special instructions, charts and legends, and lets us deconstruct it and put it back together, in a way that makes sense for the user.

Knit Companion Chart and Key

Knit Companion Chart and Key

For me, the coolest features became apparent when I saw what the app can do with knitting charts. The app allows you to set up the chart so that it knows how many rows and stitches you have, and with clever counters, and markers, and highlighters, it makes it easy to know exactly where you are in your pattern. See how in the image at the right, one row is highlighted? When you’re done with that row, click the up arrow (shown in the image) and the next row is automatically highlighted. Also, in this example image, you can see that the chart key is easily accessible in a separate window that you can show or hide, so it is always right there with the chart. (In most paper patterns, the chart might be on one page, and the key near the back, which causes for a lot of page turning, and for me at least, frustration.)

In addition to the row highlighter, there are vertical lines that can be placed by the user along the chart, that would serve the function of stitch markers in knitting. The vertical lines can be set to a number of different colors. In the pattern I’m currently working, there are a number of cables across the row, and a couple of different types of cables, requiring different actions. I have marked off each section of the chart or type of cable with a differently colored vertical line, and then in my actual knitting, I placed similarly colored stitch markers. Now, it’s easy for me to look at my chart, and look at my knitting, and glance at the stitch markers, to know EXACTLY where I am.

When I say this is a big deal for me, I am not saying it lightly. If you know me you know that I have cerebral palsy (or even if you don’t know me, now you do know) and this causes all sorts of issues with voluntary movements. In my case, my eye muscles are also severely affected, and they don’t allow me to see across straight lines or keep an accurate count of chart squares without getting lost. So, knitted charts have always been a no-go for me. Which, sadly, leaves me out of being able to do a lot of the complex lace or cable patterns that are out there, because they are charted and don’t have worded instructions to go along with them. This is especially sad for me because of all of the techniques there are in knitting, cables are my most favorite. So, I’ve been limited with regard to which patterns I can see and use.

Until now, that is. Because, now? I finally feel like with the assistance of my iPad and Knit Companion, I finally, REALLY, can knit anything.

Want to take a peek at what I’m knitting? Here ya’ go:

cabled knitting in progress

cabled knitting in progress

I can’t say too much about the project or the pattern. Suffice it to say that it’s big, it’ll take forever, and I’ll be lucky to finish before the intended recipient has children of his or her own. Oh, and I’m a glutton for punishment. On some rows, there are 40 cable crosses across the row. For me, that’s a lot! But I’m getting it done!

Knit Companion has many, many more features than I’ve been able to describe here. If you’d like to learn more, visit their website: https://www.knitcompanion.com/. They even offer webinars and live trainings at knit shops across the country. Not only that, but they have an active Ravelry group that is enormously helpful, and, I have found the developer to be more than willing to help solve an issue. I can’t say enough good things about this product. Except to say that there’s no way I would have ever attempted my super-secret-mega-cable-y project before now.

if you have an iPad and you’re a knitter, you need this app. If you don’t have an iPad, and you’re a knitter, you need an iPad and this app.

I’m knitting much happier now.

(All images and screenshots relating to the Knit Companion App are used herein with the express permission of Sally Holt. Thanks, Sally!)

Just Jayne ‘n’ Me

I don’t really have a lot to say tonight, but my camera’s been put away since Saturday and I had the urge to dig it out. With no people, or animals, nearby for shooting at this hour, it’s just the yarn and me. So here is a progress photo of the Jayne Hat:

 closeup of yellow and orange knitted hat in progress.

Jayne hat in progress

Exciting, huh? I knew you’d think so. :)

Truthfully I am not a huge fan of orange, or yellow. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know what my favorite color is. But I’m liking the way the yarns are combining to create a richness of bright color that doesn’t feel too “crayon-y.” Am I making sense?

Only about 10 rounds to go, then on to the earflaps. I know most knitters could probably finish up in an evening, but I’m shooting for the weekend. Wish me luck.