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The Knittyheads Take WEBS. October 25, 2006

Posted by marymac in knitting, WEBS.
5 comments

As I may have mentioned here before, I live in Greater WEBSville (pop. all the fiberfreaks fit to knit (crochet, weave, spin, etc.)). So when through the magic of the interweb a plan was hatched for Deb to come up from Debland for a (much too short) visit, complete with trip to WEBS, I jumped on that bandwagon faster than you could say …erm… “Two Weeks in a Row at WEBS.”

I was not the only one. They came from all over.*

When I arrived at the store (a little late, but hey, the post office closes early on Saturdays), I made my way to where all the chatter was coming from — The Warehouse.

l-r, that’s The Debness Herself, Bitterknitter and her camera, Theherocomplex (hiding behind Bluepeninsula), Periwinklepoodle, and the back of Bryghtrose‘s head. (As always, clicking will bring bigging.)

Leaving Deb to wander the warehouse, some of us made our way back to the main part of the store and did some browsing.


l-r, the backs of Ariel‘s and Bryghtrose’s heads, Theherocomplex not behind anybody, Enallagma9, and I think that’s Bluepeninsula’s hand fondling the yarn over on the right.


That’s Ariel in her cat ears (Ariel hasn’t spent enough time in Northampton to realize that cat ears are nothing — last year there was this person who was always riding a bicycle around town in what appeared to be a polar bear suit. And then there was the guy dressed as a lobster….), surrounded by the back of Sunidesus‘ head, the back of Enallagma9’s head (are we sensing a theme yet?), a teeny bit of Bluepeninsula, Lindydiva in her beret, and I think that’s a teeny bit of Periwinklepoodle over on the left.


Yes, I could crop, but then you wouldn’t see the store, right? That’s Bluepeninsula, the front of Bryghtrose’s head(!), Ariel and the ears, and Lindydiva’s back. Note the size of Lindydiva’s shopping basket.


Now note the size of Deb’s shopping basket.

On the left is the lovely Rae, who hatched this scheme with Deb in the first place and I don’t know why there aren’t more pictures of her. I think she was hiding.

But it’s not over yet.


First we have Deb doing some more filling of her shopping basket….


…and then talking on the phone. Oh, but this is no ordinary phone call — someone may have decided to call Monkee so she could share in the fun. Wave to my phone, kittens. (Yes, we caused a big line at the cash register. No, the woman behind Deb isn’t pleased.)

We did all emerge triumphant eventually. Even Deb**.

Sometimes the paparazzi just won’t leave a girl alone.

*This is a lie. They didn’t come from Norway or New York or Texas or North Carolina. We weep, we wail and gnash our teeth, we pine.


(Okay, in this case I believe we are mostly maple-ing, but you get the idea.)

**Click the link for action shots.

Underwire, Part II October 18, 2006

Posted by marymac in activism, knitting, WEBS.
5 comments

So my last post went over like a lead balloon. Either that or everyone has forgotten that I’m here. Everyone but Laura, of course, who being all science-y and whatnot was so fascinated by my lead balloon-ness that she even commented. Or maybe that was just for Barbie.

Well, I am unoffended. I am undeterred. I am unable to shut up. (But I have pictures. You love pictures, right?)

Anyway, as I was saying last time, giving of yourself is a good thing and blah blah blah high-horsecakes. So a couple of weeks ago (yup, we’re back in the Wayback Machine again — fasten your seatbelt, Sherman*) when I stopped in at WEBS, which happens to be one of my local yarn stores (and the one that gets most of my yarn money), and was reminded of their “Knit For Hope”, I decided to go.

Knit for Hope is an annual WEBS event — they provide yarn, patterns and yummy treats (and lots of coffee), and knitters show up and make scarves and chemo caps for a local organization that provides support services for cancer survivors. You’ll have to take my word for the fact that I started a scarf at the knit-in and managed to finish it in time to drop it off in the collection basket the following Saturday (more on the following Saturday soon, if you’re not tired of hearing about it from everyone else) despite my Wicked Slow Knitterness, because dark purple yarn + 1×1 ribbing + indoor photography + nighttime = photos of a purple fuzzy blob.

I do have photos of the event, however…. (click for big)


Happy, happy knitters! I don’t know why everyone looks so solemn, but I promise that I did have their permission to take the photos and post them here. Except for the guy by the food table. The weird black slash on his right arm is because he had some kind of reflective stuff there or something and I was too lazy to figure out another way to make it less distracting (I think I may have managed to do the opposite, though). Yes, that’s sock yarn. And half of the Wall O’ Needles and Notions.


More happy, happy knitters! The happy knitter on the right is Kirsten, who works in customer service at WEBS but wasn’t working that day except when people kept interrupting her to ask for things or to ask her about the lace shawl pattern she wrote (she’s one of WEBS’ in-house designers, too). She taught the drop spindle class I took at WEBS a while back and is just fabulous, even when she’s pretending that she doesn’t know I’m taking a picture of her. Be nice to Kirsten when you call WEBS, people — customer service is a hard job. Also, yes, that’s the other half of the Wall O’ Needles and Notions.

I didn’t manage to get the photographic evidence, but someone said there were about 50 people at the knit-in. And the following weekend there was certainly a piled-to-the-top basket of completed hats and scarves that people had dropped off.

And to make it all even more exciting, the Monsters of Teen Craft tour was also making an appearance at WEBS that day, so I got to meet Kim Werker and Shannon Okey, who are both incredibly cool and funny and who agreed with me that Ariel wouldn’t complete so many socks if her feet weren’t so teensy.


Kim with Humphrey, the tour mascot. Isn’t he cute? I haven’t crocheted anything but edgings in a while but I totally want to make an amigurumi now because Kim was giving out postcards with patterns for them. (That thing in her other hand is the beginnings of a crocheted chemo cap, in case you’re wondering.)


Kim’s parents, visiting from New York.

After a while, Shannon got out the wheel and gave Kim’s dad a lesson:

She offered to give him a turn, but he said the wheel wasn’t a “power tool” so he just wanted to watch. Shannon tried to convince him that one could motorize a spinning wheel as a do-it-yourself project, but he wasn’t buying it.

Yay for WEBS for hosting such a great event! Yay for Knitters (and Crocheters) for being such cool people!

*I wonder if anyone but Blondie and me gets that reference. I hope so, for it will make me feel less old.

Underwire, Part I October 16, 2006

Posted by marymac in Excuses for not posting, I'm so deep.
3 comments

Note from The Management: Due to a combination of some kind of plague being a little under the weather, work that actually requires…working, and (mostly) a lazy streak a mile wide, posts here at Story Value are about a week behind. If you’re looking for my pictures of Yarner’s Adventures at WEBS, you’ll have to come back in a couple of days and put up with what’s here in the meantime. If you must have some current news, visit Shetha and say hello to Mister Gabriel, who just arrived last week. (I know he’s cute, but please try to make your way back here eventually.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled rant.

At some point when I was a student at Hippie College, I learned about my mother’s breast cancer. Of course, by the time I found out about it Mom had been cancer-free for five or six years already. When she was diagnosed and all through her treatment (a lymphectomy followed by radiation) my father told my brother and me vague things about cysts that needed to be removed. We were eleven and fourteen at the time.* Mom just went along with him — even now she still refers to “when I had my operation” instead of using the c-word, because talking about that sort of thing is Just Not Done.**

Anyway, the truth finally slipped out one day while I was on the phone from college begging for money from Dad. “Oh, that was when Mom had breast cancer,” he said casually. As if this was old news. Turned out, he and Mom and pretty much everyone else in the family had decided that my brother and I were too young to know/understand what was really going on when Mom was sick, so they just didn’t tell us.

I was fortunate in that I was young and healthy when I learned the truth and I’ve been able to make sure my doctors know that I have a first-degree relative who’s a breast cancer survivor so we can all be aware of things that might increase my risk (for instance, some studies have shown that oral contraceptives can increase your risk of breast cancer, others show no connection — these things are good to know).

You may already know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the US, and as someone who was unaware for longer than I’m happy about, I am certainly a proponent of awareness. So I could tell you all about doing regular breast self-exams (BSEs) (warning: boobies in that link), and where to get a free “shower card” (meaning you hang it on your shower head to remind you) with BSE instructions. I could help you find a way to donate money to the cause by clicking, by shopping, by more shopping, or by…. well, this is getting kind of silly, now.

Here’s what I think: It’s important to pay attention to your body, and if doing a breast self-exam is the only way you’re gonna pay attention to what’s happening to your boobage, then by all means do it. But no less an authority than breast cancer researcher Dr. Susan Love says that “getting acquainted with your breasts” is the most important thing, whether or not you perform a formal BSE in the shower on the appointed day every month. There’s also some question on whether mammograms are useful in women under 50 (I know you’re all spring chickens out there, but if you have a first-degree relative [like, say, your mom] who had breast cancer, they do encourage you to begin having mammograms when you’re ten years younger than she was when diagnosed).

And then there’s the shopping.

I’m all for solidarity. If you want to wear a pink ribbon or have one tattooed on your forehead or decorate your rec room with them, you should absolutely do it. But as the “bad girls of breast cancer” over at Breast Cancer Action say, Think Before You Pink. How much money from that pink or pink-beribboned Thingamahoozis you’re buying is actually going to fight breast cancer? For that $400 Dyson, it’s $40. And 3M’s swell pink sticky note campaign? In 2004 they spent $500,000 on it — and donated a total of $300,000 to the cause. Cui bono***, as the lawyers say — who benefits — the researchers or the corporation?

If you want a pink vacuum cleaner, you should have a pink vacuum cleaner. If you want to help prevent and cure breast cancer, write a check, donate your time, make something people can use. Urge researchers to look at environmental factors. Support survivors, and remember those who didn’t survive. Get angry, and kick some ass.

More in Part II, In Which We Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is.

*Yes, a fourteen-year-old should probably have been able to figure out what was going on, but would you go looking for a possibly fatal disease if you didn’t have to? This was BG (Before Google), so one believed what one was told or one did hours of research at the library.

**She uses it for other people, too: so-and-so’s husband had “an operation” (prostate cancer); my aunt had “the operation” (breast cancer)….

***As if the world needed any further evidence that I am acquainted with entirely too many lawyers.

451 October 2, 2006

Posted by marymac in Celebrate!, I'm so deep.
12 comments

Family legend has it that I learned to read when I was three years old. I don’t know how accurate the story is (Mom and Dad aren’t the most reliable sources), but I definitely don’t remember learning — no a-ha moment that I can recall when those squiggles on the page suddenly became letters and words — and I definitely was reading before I started school. So three’s as good an age as any.

(This was long before the days of Make Your Baby A Geeen-yus videos, of course — Dad read to me when he got home from work in the evenings and Mom plunked me down in front of educational television* during the day and somehow it just happened.)

I’ve since discovered that knowing how to read at such a young age isn’t that uncommon, but it was a Big Deal in our house and my big parlor trick when company came over. And when the well-meaning but slightly misguided folks from the school system showed up one day to make sure I’d be able to handle kindergarten in spite of the hardship of coming from a bilingual home, they acted like it was downright miraculous.

Misguided School System Folks made me read out loud to them from a McCall’s or Redbook or some such thing one of them had in her car because she thought that I’d just memorized all of the kids’ books in the house. Little did she know that my parents didn’t believe in doing things for children that they were capable of doing for themselves. (I was also designated read-alouder for my little brother; The Parents have always been all about the delegating.)

And once I finally hit the age of majority for a library card (you had to be five, no matter what) I was set free in the stacks to read whatever took my fancy. (Okay, it was the stacks in the children’s section, but still….)

Now, maybe being left alone to read whatever I wanted wasn’t always the best idea — I scared the hell out of myself and ended up with insomnia when I finished Lord of the Flies late one night, for instance. And it might have helped to be a little older than eight or nine when I read Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret (eventually, kids in my school had to have a note saying their moms would discuss Margaret with them or something in order to take it out of the library — I missed that, fortunately). It did mean, on the other hand, that I had no idea that anybody ever tried to stop people from reading certain books until the day a book-recommending teacher or librarian handed me a copy of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Okay, maybe I was a particularly naive kid, too. Whatever.

Due to… erm… stuff, I kind of didn’t post for Banned Books Week during Banned Books Week. The cool thing about books, though, is that you can read them whenever you want to — provided you can get your hands on them, of course. Read ’em, love ’em, pass ’em on (my first gift to my infant nephew included a copy of In The Night Kitchen — number 25 on the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990 – 2000**). And hug a librarian, because they are most often our first line of defense against those who want to take away our intellectual freedom (ask first, though — some people don’t like to be touched without permission).

*And by this I mean television that was actually educational, like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Electric Company, and not some product tie-in cartoon that the network labels “educational” because one character learns a two-second lesson about how it’s good to share your toys and that somehow meets part of their required hours of “educational” programming.

**Challenged as in people tried to have them removed from a curriculum or library. The American Library Association website says that most challenges are unsuccessful. (Yay!)

Special Note: The “I Love Banned Books” badge in my sidebar was made by jovial_cynic at newprotest.org. (That’s a link to the Banned Books Week post on the blog, but you should keep reading once you get there.) The badge is linked to the ALA’s Banned Books Week site because a) they said it was okay and 2) while their website is confusing, it’s a little more obvious what’s going on if you click the badge without reading this post. (I hope I did the linking right — I’m so conscious of not hotlinking that it’s hard to remember how to do it even when I have permission.)