Tuesday, May 27, 2008


and now for something completely different.

As the second anniversary of this blog draws near,--yes, can you believe it?! Two years! I'm going to kick off a month-long blogtravaganza by publishing a first here at Chickenlips: a guest blogger, sort of. It's very apropos that the first essay published here that was not written by me, was written by Mr. Stitchjones himself, my husband, Jason.

This is actually an email he wrote to his buddy Gary from the UK, who is also a career high-tech salesman. Gary sent this link about corporate workshops, which is howlingly funny. This was Jason's reply. Somewhat long, but totally worth it. Go ahead and grab a beverage, I'll wait.


Ah, yes, the thought of hotel conferences stirs so many fond memories. Particularly dear to my heart are the memories of the multi-day Company Kick-Off Meeting.

The meeting begins in the Main Hall, where you sit with all your co-workers in long rows of uncomfortable little chairs, under bright lights. In the morning the temperature is kept just above freezing, to make sure you can't go to sleep. In the afternoon, it will be 80 degrees Fahrenheit, to make sure you cannot stay awake.

Breakout sessions are in the smaller meeting rooms. The meeting room is always furnished the same way. You take your place at a big table, where you find a pen and a notepad, with the hotel logo on them. Of course, you take the hotel pens home with you, demonstrating that there is something genetic about claiming souvenirs. But you never use them, and when, years later, you finally do try to write something with one of the crappy pieces of plastic rattling around the back of the kitchen junk drawer, it doesn't work. At least you can write a grocery list on the 4-page-thick notepad. Needless to say, you must first let the notepad dry off, after the jerk opposite you spilled half the contents of the cheap water pitcher on the table while politely filling your glass.

The real problem with such conferences is that nothing of any consequence is ever accomplished at them, and everyone who isn't an idiot knows it. No matter how many times they say they "want your honest feedback," and no matter how many interminable brainstorming breakout sessions they make you endure, management will not tolerate any original thinking to challenge the foregone conclusions their conference has been designed to make you swallow.

The only rational way to deal with such a conference is to approach it like an impending unpleasant medical procedure, or a visit from in-laws--just endure it, stoically and quietly. Complaining just makes it take longer. Unfortunately, there are those irrational jerks who see the conference as an opportunity to "shine." They can demonstrate their company loyalty, and more importantly, their fitness for promotion, by talking. At every juncture, in every small group session, they must hold forth, to make sure they get noticed. They might be forgiven their arrogance and brazen self-promotion if they actually had something useful to say, but they never do. Instead you helplessly watch the minutes of your life slip away, while these mental midgets parrot the company line, and put their uninteresting spin on the previous speaker's comments, beginning with the dreaded words, "Let me just reiterate what Bob said." They firmly believe that no presentation is complete unless they interrupt a half dozen times to get "clarification" of a point that everyone else understands has no point, because they also seem to believe that no one else can truly comprehend anything unless it is first interpreted by them.

The afore-mentioned dunderheads are at their worst when some C-level blowhard's inconceivably dull presentation finally winds down. The moderator notes that "we are a little behind schedule (it's 12:45 and lunch was supposed to start at 12:00), but let's open it up for a few minutes for questions."

You and your depressed, weary comrades are hungry enough to actually look forward to the battlefield atrocities that have been provided for lunch, and you just want a break, to go to the bathroom, and try to get some oxygen flowing to your brains again. Everything would be fine if everyone would SHUT UP, so the moderator will say those blessed words, "OK, let's take a break."

But you know it won't happen that way. And you are powerless to stop it. The same brown-nosing imbeciles who have wasted half the morning listening to themselves talk must enthusiastically raise their hands and ask the presenter an endless series of inane puffball questions. This shows that they have been paying attention, and they really care about the company, and it will surely get them noticed by the Big Guy. While you conclude to yourself that killing these cretins is undoubtedly justifiable homicide, and you begin to plan how you can get away with it, another 30 minutes goes by.

Lunch is as awful as you knew it would be, but at least you get to move around and wake up a bit. You brighten a little with the thought that you can sit and eat undisturbed with some friends. But then a manager arrives at your table, plunks down across from you, and with his/her most insincere smile, says, "Do you mind if I join you?"

Of course you mind very much, and they know it, but you cannot say so. And they know that, too. Their purpose in sitting at your table is to make sure that you maintain the proper attitude about this conference. This they do by making you lie to them. They ask you, "So, how do you like the conference so far?"

The only honest answer is, "I would rather let starving rats eat my face off than put up with this ridiculous waste of time," but you won't say that. Instead, you and your companions smile and reply as one, "It's great. Yeah, it's really good."

Having lied once, you must now keep up the charade when asked what you thought of the "talk" given by the COO. You can feel your soul shrink a little as you say, "Oh, he really had some good things to say. I'm glad we had the chance to come here and listen to him."

Disgusted with yourself now, you note that this new opportunity for self-loathing has been ingeniously added to the list of the day's torments.

Perhaps you get to listen to voice messages, but forget returning calls, checking email, or doing any actual work. No, it is time for the CEO's keynote address. Marketing, which always organizes these torture fests, will prolong the suffering with some incredibly lame comedy sketch, starring the Marketing Manager, putting you through the intense embarrassment one feels at trying to laugh politely at something utterly stupid and silly. You are so relieved when the "entertainment" is over that you find yourself applauding enthusiastically as Your Leader hits the stage.

The afternoon death march finally ends an hour late. Your backside is asleep, your brain is numb, and you feel dead inside. It would be so good to just go back to your hotel room and rest, even though the company is "economizing" and you have to bunk with an annoying co-worker who will show you pictures of his children and ask you to join his church.

But no, this is the Company Kick-Off, and even the night is not your own. You must rush to get ready for dinner, and then be forced to participate in company-organized Fun Activities. These decidedly un-fun activities keep you out until midnight, assuring that you will be dead tired for tomorrow's Rise and Shine Breakout Sessions at 7:30 AM.

So ends Day One. Only three more to go.


Quite a writer, that man o'mine! A wit as dry as the Sahara, which is why I suggested you get something to drink first. Anyway, I finally finished his socks last week.

The lowdown: Basic 3x1 ribbing, 72 cast-on stitches on size 1 needles. I used Hipknits cashmere sock yarn, the yarn with a nightmare story that does not end. If you're curious about the whole Hipknits saga, just go to Ravelry forums and type "hipknits" in the Search field. They have been ripping people off left and right. Yes, it's cashmere sock yarn and very soft. Jason loves these socks and wore them almost the minute they came off the needles. How it ended up in my stash: My friend Jodi wanted me to make her a shawl, and back in January while I was still working at you-know-where, she picked out this yarn. Realizing there was no way I could finish her shawl in time with sock yarn on size 2 needles, I asked her if she wouldn't mind if I switched to a heavier yarn and that was OK with her. So I made her a lovely wrap out of Baby Cashmerino, which you may have seen a few posts back. I bought the sock yarn back from her, and still have another hank of it in my stash. And there it will stay for a while, as I'm jonesing (ha) to knit socks with lotsa bright color!

And because I can't seem to ever veer from my favorite subject, yarn, here's a new sock colorway. I call it "Tank Girl" for the desert and jungle camo colors and pretty pastel.

And with that, I'll sign off, this post being already way too long. O yasumi!*

(roughly translated: "nity nite.")

Friday, May 23, 2008


Guess who never made it to the beach last weekend.

If you said "Chickenlips", you're a thousand percent right, and you win the package of unlabeled chicken parts that I stored in an undisclosed location and then forgot about! Just kidding about the chicken parts, they aren't real. But let me tell you what happened. You know how I got this fabulous order for 60 skeins in 14 sock colorways, right? Well, just on the heels of that, I received an email from one of the LYS's who carry Stitchjones yarn, asking for more! So I've been doing more batches, and bigger batches, trying to keep up production (and quality) and not make my customers wait too long for their yarn. I worked straight through last weekend and every day this week, not taking a day off until today. Although I'm getting a bit sore-armed from the daily skeining of undyed yarn and reskeining of dyed yarn, the good news is, the large order is almost finished and I can soon go back to my regular work schedule. And maybe even go to the beach next week. But friends and neighbors, let us not forget that a week from Sunday, June 1, I have a date with my favorite old guys from Canada. And I'm bringing a sock project OTN to photograph with my cellphone, this time with Stitchjones yarn--Boo ya!!

Wanna know what I did on my day off? I did mom-type things I've been neglecting. DD has been wanting me to go see "Iron Man" with her, she loves the movie and has seen it four times. So we went, and after getting over the initial shock of a sober Robert Downey Jr., I settled in and thoroughly enjoyed the flick! (Do they still use the word "flick" for movie, or have I just outed myself as a dinosaur?) Before that, we went to the Black Bear Diner and had brunch. Not a bad way to spend a rainy Friday.

Five Years Ago Today

Really bad pic, but it's the only one I have in electronic format. With my nails lacquered a blinding scarlet, and yes I was a redhead back then, I received my B.A. in Japanese Studies from Pacific University. I was 47 years old. Not sure if I was the oldest grad in the Class of 2003, but I certainly was the oldest in the Japanese language program! I had fun with it, even though I worked hard. So really, spending the day with my daughter was a fitting way to celebrate, since to earn my degree I had to spend a semester in Japan. I missed her twelfth birthday, but she still loves me. And no, I had no idea I'd end up in the yarn dyeing business, but that's one of the cool things about life--you never know what's gonna happen, and sometimes it's really good.

So that was May of 2003. In June of that year, I was handed a diagnosis of breast cancer. I went through the surgery and radiation, and so far I've remained cancer-free. Back on yearly mamms, I'm scheduled to have one in August. And I know it'll come back clean. Five years baby, ho yeah!!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Noblesse oblige...and *SQUEE!!!*

Yarnhog tagged me for a new meme, and since I love it when people wanna know stuff about little old me, here it is.

"The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer."

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

I was one of three females working for a heavy equipment manufacturer, an extremely sexist company IMHO. The only jobs for women were front desk and accounting. I didn't stay long. As I recall, it was a crappy year in general for our family. My brother-in-law Jonathan was dying of lymphoma due to anti-rejection drugs for his heart transplant, and J. and I were having marital problems. Leaving that crappy job to be a stay-at-home mom and figure out what I really wanted to do, seemed to help our marriage a great deal. That was probably more than y'all wanted to know, but that was my life 10 years ago.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

Do another load of laundry, dye up 6 skeins of sock yarn in the "Uber Frau" colorway, go shopping for business supplies, skein up another cone of yarn, and contemplate whether or not to drive to the beach tomorrow

3) Snacks I enjoy: Chocolate covered anything, croissants and almond twist pastries with my Starbucks beverage

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Seek excellent financial advice, pay off debts, set up a charitable foundation, travel, go back to Japan and hang out for a while, collect metric tons of yarn, and take Stitchjones global :)

5) Places I have lived: Eastern Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hirakata, Japan, and Portland, Oregon
7) 6 peeps I wanna know more about:


Of course you don't have to play if you don't wanna, and I'm too lazy to go to everybody's blogs and say they've been "tagged". But if you happen to see your name here, I really would like to know your answers to these questions.

Oh, and the *SQUEE* thing...I am bouncing off the walls, 'cuz I just got a HUMUNGOUS order, the largest order I have ever received--60 skeins! I can't say just yet who my customer is, but as soon as my products are listed in her shop I'll tell all. Let's just say my yarn will be among such deliciousness as Hazel Knits, Apple Laine, Zen String and Zen Yarn Garden!!

60 skeins, like, it's been nice knowing ya. I think I will take a day and sneak off to the beach, because for the next couple of weeks I probably won't be leaving the house much.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Do or dye

Not funny, but don't worry, eventually I'll run out of "die/dye" puns...

I normally get in a couple blog posts each week. However, sales are up, meaning that production is up, too. Here's what I've been up to.

Gratuitous yarn smut pic! I bought the biggest plastic bin I could find at Jo-Ann's and am determined to fill it up in the next few weeks. These are just a few of my colorways, left to right: Raga, Xanadu, Casual Friday, Andes Mints, That 70's Colorway, and Bananarama.

There has also been some knitting. Another BSJ, this one made with 2 skeins of Malabrigo.

I thought a new camera would be the answer to true color representation of purples, but alas, it isn't. Trust me, this shade of Malabrigo, "Jacinto", is a drool-inducing grapey lilac. By sewing little pansy buttons on it, I guess I've assigned it a gender. All I know for sure is that I love making these little buggers! Yes, I've cast on for another one, this time using some of my handpainted worsted merino.

The other night the Cat House Band (my husband and daughter's band) played at a birthday party for the bass player, who by the end of the evening was feeling no pain. It was his 50th, so party on dude! Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera, but there was lots of good food, great music, plenty of people, and dancing.

Hope all the moms reading this had a lovely Mother's Day! I did. Michelle took me to Starbucks, J. made dinner, then we rented some videos and watched them all evening. We saw "I Am Legend" and "Gone Baby Gone". Both were pretty good, even if the second one was rather gritty.

I did manage to dye some roving in the past few days. Here is some merino in a colorway I call "Hydrangeas".

Because there are dyers far more talented than moi whose yarns I lust after, and I want to keep the Etsy lovin' going, I bought some sock yarn from the awesome Lindsay of Whimzy Pinzy, who bought my Embers BFL roving and turned it into gorgeous handspun. The colorway of the sock yarn is "Coral Reef".

Oh, and shameless self promoter that I am, I started the "Jonesin' for Stitchjones" group on Ravelry! I'll be putting up the newest yarns and colorways there before I can get the blog updated, so if you're a Raveler, come on over!

One last thing: I got a fabulous deal on some undyed, thick/thin, single ply wool wrapped with an acrylic thread. It's actually Dark Horse Yarns' "Chile", but for dyeing I renamed it "Crinkle" and tried it out. This colorway is "Momiji" (Japanese maples).

That's about all I've got for now, but as the governor of California says, "Al B. Bock".

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Slogalong's over!

Jodi's wrap--actually, my pashmina-style wrap design--is finally done! In the above pic it's just off the needles and slung over the back of the sofa. Thanks to DD for the pile of crap on the sofa.

And here it is just out of the woolwash and spread over my workbench dining room table to block. Because I was mucking aoout with the photo settings for this shot, the color looks completely different. It's 10 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in Tan, and the design will be part of Gardiner Yarn Works' fall lineup!

Wanna see a cool sock design? Click here. Cindy's sock knitting mojo and Stitchjones yarn--an unbeatable combo! Wanna see a gorgeous summer top/beach cover up? Click here. I love both these designs so much I ordered the patterns. What can I say, I know some really talented folks! And I won a yarn prize in Chrispy's blog contest. Ha haaa!
Don't worry, the gloatfest is almost over. Last but not least, I acquired a new wholesale customer today. Stitchjones sock yarn is now available at Kathy's Knit Korner on Main Street in Hillsboro. Seriously, could you die? So stoked was I by this development, that the yarn budget went completely to hell and I bought this for making the Alisa top. The celebratory mood hasn't dissipated yet, because this evening I had a wee bit of a pizza party for myself, DD and her friend. And there's ice cream to boot!
Well, I must be off now, to immerse several pounds of merino in water and vinegar for tomorrow's dye blitz. One last thing--can wiener dogs be washed in baby shampoo? I've got a pair of incredibly stinky dachshunds up in here!

Thursday, May 01, 2008


still here

As always, I thank you for reading and I appreciate the kind and supportive words from all of you. My neighbor's son just came by and invited me to a get-together this evening in honor of his mother. I'm planning to be there, it will be a nice way to remember her, and I have a selfish reason too--I haven't been out of the house all day! Still in my house slippers. There's a good reason for that though, I've been making some pretty yarn. Here's a new sock colorway: "Creatures of the Night". Maybe it needs more black? Hey, Halloween's only 5 months away!

I finished another E-Z Baby Surprise Jacket. This one was made with 4 balls of Debbie Bliss Stella, a silk-rayon-cotton blend.

I have a thing for Stegosauruses.

In order to raise a little cash to put towards Stitchjones, I'm doing a little destashing at my Etsy shop. If you want to score some really nice yarn for dirt cheap, head on over!

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