Swatch: Vogue Knitting 35th Anniversary

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My son is 30 years old, so it is easy for me to track how long I’ve been knitting–30 years. When I was learning to knit, I assumed Vogue Knitting magazine had been around as long as the sewing patterns (1899). As a beginning knitter I regarded Vogue Knitting as the hippest, most fashionable knitting resource. Like the sewing patterns, I found the patterns more challenging. Within a few years I stretched my skills to knit entrelac and intarsia patterns from Vogue Knitting.

A few years after that it was with a huge sigh of relief when a yarn store employee remarked that Vogue Knitting often printed patterns with errors. It gave me permission to question Vogue’s authority. All the same I give Vogue Knitting a straight needle salute for inspiring me over the last 30 years. I especially enjoy the knitting events, Vogue Knitting Live, they host in New York City and Seattle.

Check out the 35th Anniversary issue of the magazine on newsstands until 11/7 for US $7.99.

Postscript: Sometimes when I travel I find a favorite food. In New Zealand I always look for Arnott’s chocolate mint cookies. They are as close to the old Mystic Mint cookies that were available in USA until the recession of 2008 put so many cookie companies out of business. The other day I found these TimTam’s in mint! At first I was concerned I wouldn’t have the self control to keep from pigging out on them regularly. However, I can’t remember in what store I found them, so I look forward to my next visit to New Zealand to be able to eat my favorite store bought cookie.

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Best Public Library in the USA

IMG_2484I am very keen about public libraries and I make an effort to check out libraries when visiting a new place. There are many fine libraries in the USA but this library in Camden, Maine is unsurpassed in my experience.

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In addition to the entrance at the main street level, there is this Hobbit-hole entrance nearer sea level and just across from a lovely park with a sea view.

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Any public library worth its salt has an excellent children’s library.

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There are many places to meet or study. I love how librarians are less likely to “shush” patrons than when I was a child. Look how cheerful this library is. It invites you to read and explore.

Seating is also important. Staffing and hours are also critical. Clearly the citizens of Camden value their library.

Bonus: Tevis’ dog Dozer is as handsome as this library.

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Dozer just outside the Camden public library.

Epic Day of Rugby in Chicago

The spotlight is for the television crew who is filming Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk tomorrow at 6 p.m.

The spotlight is for the television crew who is filming Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk tomorrow at 6 p.m.

I am staying in the spire of Club Quarters on the river and so there are only about 3 rooms on the floor. (The rooms are shaped funny too.) This morning I walked out at the exact same time as my neighbors and they were also on their way to the rugby game. It was the first of many fun, short conversations with other fans.

I walked a half block to the Corner Bakery and ordered breakfast. I start walking towards an open table when I realize I am walking by Richie McCaw.  Only my mind processed it as “Oh my gosh, that is RICHIE MCCAW!!! I am walking past RICHIE MCCAW!!!” He is the captain of the All Blacks most games and he is one of the best players in the world. Oh, he is also gorgeous. I was so excited I was shaking and if you asked me my name right then I would have been stumped.

I barely had my coat, scarf and gloves off when Richie McCaw walks past me as he exits the restaurant. No one seems to even notice him. Maybe they are all giving him his space. I smile at him with a big stupid grin and cannot even muster a “hi”.  I had to say something to someone so I walked over to the people who were sitting just across from them. They had New Zealand Rugby shirts on, so I blurted, “Can you believe it? That was Richie McCaw!”

The man says “I thought it was him,” and his wife turns to him and says, “Why didn’t you say something?!”

It is hard to eat breakfast after seeing one of your heroes. I texted lots of people to share. I figured today is going to be a great rugby day.

And it was.

All Blacks fan grimaces at Rookie Eagle (USA mascot)

All Blacks fan grimaces at Rookie Eagle (USA mascot)

The long walk to Soldier Field was in the company of many rugby fans. I stopped at the Chicago Bean to take photos and the Art Institute and the Field Museum for the haka exhibit. (Future posts). It is a long way round Soldiers Field. Ultimately I found the Fan Zone party. Met some more great rugby fans and saw lots of craziness.

The weather today was better than yesterday when it was snowing. It was still cold walking to the stadium. When I got to my seat the sun was beaming down and suddenly I had to strip off my coat, scarf and gloves. I actually got a sunburn!

I made sure I got to my seat in plenty of time to see the All Blacks do the haka. First the national anthems were performed. The USA anthem was tough to hear over the fireworks and people cheering. Then more cheering for the USA when photos of the flag appeared on the various screens. Finally the moment I have been anticipating for months: the ABs get in formation for the haka. And then the big doofuses behind me start chanting “USA, USA”. I did not have a hard time finding my voice in this moment. I turned around and said, “Stop being disrespectful” They actually stopped. Then they said, “It’s not disrespectful. USA, USA” and the guys on my right said, “Yes, it is!” really forcefully. And they stopped. Unfortunately, the haka was almost over.

National Anthems in Soldiers Field

National Anthems in Soldiers Field

There were a few more USA chants but soon the ABs shut them up with their play. I just do not think most of the American fans had any idea what the best in the world rugby looks like. And this was the All Blacks’ B team.

My tweets tell the story. After the third AB try in less than 20 minutes I stopped reporting the score. The final score was 74 to 6 New Zealand.

People around me found the USA’s performance really unsettling. They said goofy things like “New Zealand is so good in rugby because it is the only sport they play.” The guy next to me was really upset by the lopsided score, “This will set rugby back in the US for years.” I asked him why and he did not answer my question.

If US fans want to know what it takes to be number one in the world, they only had to stick around after the game ended. The “A” group of players who sat out the game began a work out on the field that was impressive.

A rugby club captures the moment film

A rugby club captures the moment on film

Walking back to the hotel was crowded and many of the rugby clubs were still enjoying their big day out. And a lot less beer is available in Chicago tonight.

Swatch: Folly Dress for World of Wearable Art

Among the reasons I am visiting New Zealand is to attend The World of Wearable Art. It was great to see a big mural welcoming me to New Zealand and to WOW.  UK Sarah and I will fly to Wellington next week to have fun in NZ’s capital and to see WOW on Thursday night. What does one wear?  If you are avant garde enough, you can go for something outrageous or high fashion. I decided to find a dress that I feel great in and buy a new pair of heels that rock the outfit. I found my dress in Portland at a shop called Folly.

In a Portland magazine I read about Sarah Bibb, a Portland designer who makes her clothes in a local factory and sells her designs and other “made in USA” designs in a shop a short bike ride from our hotel.  As soon as it stopped raining, I hopped on my Brompton and raced to Folly to check out her clothes. The designer was in the shop and gave me her personal attention. At first I was looking for my daughter as many of the designs were more appealing to a twenty-something.

Designer Sarah Bibb models skirt at Folly

Designer Sarah Bibb models skirt at Folly

Then I told her that I was looking for a dress for WOW and she pulled a great looking knit dress that travels well off the rack.  I tried it on and loved it enough to buy it.

I learned a lot from Sarah about the challenges of designing and manufacturing clothing in the United States. You cannot compete with Target by making disposable clothing, that is for sure. Sarah explained that the recession has taken a toll on manufacturing in the USA. Most of the remaining garment industry is in Los Angeles. In Folly, 20% of the clothing are her designs, and 80% are made in the USA.

Back to my episode of What to Wear to Wow… Finding the right shoes to go with the dress was a little more trial and error. After a pair that I found on DSW website did not fit, I went to my fail safe–Macy’s and Franco Sarto.

I had a dress rehearsal while in New York City.  The dress does travel well and it feels great to wear.  I could use more practice walking in the shoes!

Having seen the WOW dresses at the Nelson museum and at a special exhibit in Rotorua, I look forward to an exhilarating sensory experience.

Folly dress with Ricardo and Ray at The Park in Chelsea

Folly dress with Ricardo and Ray at The Park in Chelsea