On the Road: Beach Skirts and Other Pleasures

So now I’m where I was going and the ocean is as beautiful as ever and it was worth the long drive which was pretty great all by itself. The second half started after I left the hotel and was trying to find my way back to the highway and saw a Michael’s. Well, you know how that is. Thank God it was a Michaels; if it had been a Hobby Lobby, I’d never have gotten out of town. So I went in because I decided I wanted to make a beach shawl or a shrug during the week and then I found this felting wool in a color called Ocean Blues so of course I bought it. I figured if it didn’t look right for a shawl or a shrug as I worked on it, I could felt it and it’d be a scarf. I’ve been working on it all week and people kept asking me what it is (peopel here are very goal-oriented). I kept saying “I don’t know” because nobody who asks “What are you making?” wants a speech about how it could be this or that or whatever. But it did make me seem unfocused. So now it’s almost done and it’s a shawl. I’d love to felt it to see what happens but unfelted it looks like fish net which is good for the whole beach thing, plus I’ve been picking up shells with holes in them to sew to the fringe and shells don’t felt well. So it’s a shawl. I was about halfway through it when I looked at it and realized the yarn was variegated. I mean, you could tell it was variegated immediately when you looked at the skein, I just hadn’t realized I’d bought sixteen skeins of variegated yarn again. The damn stuff is insidious.

Then back on the road and two hours after I bought variegated yarn (the shame, the shame), I stopped for breakfast. There’s something about pulling into an IHoP in Columbia, SC, with “Born to Run” blaring on the stereo that makes you glad you’re an American. Plus there’s the great dialogue you overhear. The woman in the booth behind me was saying, “Look into my eyeballs. You look into my eyeballs,” to somebody when I sat down. But my all time favorite Dialogue Overheard At IHoP was from a mother talking to one of her sons who’d just popped the other one: “Justin, we don’t hit family.”

That’s goin’ in a book.

And now I’m here. This is the sixth day of a six-day retreat at the ocean, twenty-some women crammed into a pretty big beach house with the ocean rolling in and out just yards away. I have taught my butt off this week but the students I’ve had have been wonderful: focused, dedicated, cheerful, and amazingly hard-working. The only drawback to this retreat is that you have to share a room and in some cases a bed–I’m a diva so I said, “I don’t think so” because that was a deal-breaker for me–but once you get past that big drawback, everything here is perfect. It’s the Low Country RWA Jumpstart Master Class; the real retreat starts Friday night but that sounds more hectic and less retreat-ish than this week, which has been full of optional classes and equally optional beach walks. Jen, Meg, and Bob are coming in for the weekend, so I’m expecting it to be party central here after a lovely, slow week of talking on the porch and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean. I’ve slept better here than anyplace else I’ve ever been except on a ship where the roll always puts me to sleep. Of course, I’m not sharing a room or a bed, so that helps a lot.

And today I’m celebrating by wearing my favorite long beach skirt. It’s pretty over the top–chartreuse with turquoise embroidery and sequins with little bells on the belt ties–but I love it and I was determined to walk on the beach at least once in it. Of course, now the sky is lowering and it looks like rain, but I’m getting out there sometime today after I get some work done and teach my final class for the week, this one on collage. There are some people who look skeptical but I’ve done this before. They’ll be up to their eyeballs in glue before dinner.

So life is still good on the road. And bless Jane Espenson for being such a star and blogging while I drove. She can come back anytime, especially since I forgot to ask her about graphic novels. We’ll have to lure her back. I’ll start looking for heirloom tomatoes as soon as I get back. Or maybe she likes variegated yarn. I’ve already got that.

49 thoughts on “On the Road: Beach Skirts and Other Pleasures

  1. The shawl sounds beautiful, I hope you post a picture of it.
    My wrimos were very interested in the collage I brought home, so I’m taking it to our write-in tonight. I know your class will be converts.

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  2. Please may we have a picture of the shawl? (Maybe I have some variegated yarn myself, but I’m not actually ADMITTING that …)
    Maybe even … the shawl at the BEACH?

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  3. I embrace my variegated yarn. As Dorothy Parker put it, a little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika. But yes, WCS. Pictures.

    If the collagers are up to their eyeballs in glue, will you still be able to look into them to make yer crafty point? Got yer Craft-o-Matic retinal scanner handy?

    Oh, and in your copious spare time and after the beach has been walked, could you please compare and contrast Michaels with Hobby Lobby? I have no experience of the latter, but am sorely tempted to drive as far east as needs must just to discover its wonders. Will I fall into the Grand Canyon? Stuck in Mississippi mud?

    My I am full of questions, none of them contributing bupkiss to my wordcount.

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  4. My last zillion purchases have been variegated yarn. The one exception being a solid purchased to go with a variegated. I find it much harder to resist a gorgeous variegated than a solid. A variegated may never look like that again, whereas solids will probably still be there next time.

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  5. Yes to the pictures of the shawl, please. Yes to luring Jane back, and yes to the comparison of Michael’s to Hobby Lobby. Having only known the former, I also thought them similar but it appears that is not the case.

    Glad to hear the beach is conducive to inner peach.

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  6. I should get Krissie and Lani in here to tell you about the differences. I think they both have a Michaels where they live but neither had a Hobby Lobby. They made me take them back because they were so stunned by its awesomeness the first time.

    I will try to post pictures of the shawl when it’s done. It still needs fringe and shells. Fortunately, the ocean is being generous with its shells.

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  7. I’ll chime in with wanting to see pictures of the shawl when it is done.

    My mother in law (who is a knitter) pulled me aside last time we visited and said “when I die you have to get the yarn out of her before my kids see it.” She has (give or take) 12-15 of those giant Rubbermaid tubs crammed with yarn.

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  8. Hey, everyone! Jenny told me there was speak of Hobby Lobby here. Okay – here’s the difference.

    Michael’s is a nice little store with lots of stuff, and sometimes some of it’s on sale.

    Hobby Lobby is a massive crafting emporium. It has its own zip code. It can host an entire weather system. I hear they’re in negotiations to host the SuperBowl next year.

    Dumping the hyperbole, it’s BIG.

    Plus, it anticipates your needs in a way no man ever can. You go in, close your eyes, imagine what you want, walk five feet, turn right, and THERE IT IS. Better yet, IT’S ON CLEARANCE. All the time, SOMETHING is on clearance at Hobby Lobby. Plus, while you’re walking the five feet and turning right, you will spot at least twelve things YOU NEVER KNEW YOU ALWAYS WANTED.

    I’m already saving up for my next trip.

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  9. I love variegated yarn. Unfortunately, I don’t like variegated clothing, so I have several skeins of it sitting around, just being admired. Nothing wrong with that, right? (The colours, they are so pretty…)

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  10. Sadly we have no Hobby Lobby in my area and my local Michaels has been a bit disappointing of late. I swear that their yarn selection keeps getting smaller every year. Okay, I know they have to allow for new craft/hobby trends; but taking away from tried and true yarn crafts doesn’t seem very smart. I’m going to try the one in the next town south this weekend and see how they compare. And someday I vow I will visit the specialty yarn store in Bethesda. I have no excuse for not having done so before now.

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  11. My local Hobby Lobby has decorative items for your home, purses, small furniture items, silk flowers, 2 full aisles of yarn, fabric, painting supplies, kids craft items, scrabooking, rubberstamping,and 1/2 the store is dedicated to holiday merchandise. That just covers the outer perimeter since I never manage to make it into the middle with the limited time my munchkins are in school. (I can manage an entire Michaels or Joann superstore during the same time I cover 1/2 of Hobby Lobby). Oh yeah, the clearance section is HUGE!

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  12. HL also carries Winsor and Newton paints and good art pencils, too. And amazing pompom makers which is big if you do a lot of hats. And ergonomic crochet hooks and crochet hooks with clear ends that light up when you flip a switch so you can crochet in the dark. And . . .

    Forgive me. I must go lie down from the excitement.

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  13. We live in an area with both AC Moore and Michaels. AC Moore is less pricey than Michaels and I’m mad at Michaels anyway for closing down their Recollections scrapbooking stores in January 2008. I love both stores though and go at least once a week. I usually try to buy stuff on sale or with coupons (a little tip: sign up for AC Moore’s coupons via their website–it’s the perpetual coupon!) There is a Michael’s near my office that saves me at lunch after a morning of staff meetings from Hell.

    But the joy of Michaels and AC Moore pales completely next to the extravaganza that is Hobby Lobby. The only one in VA is the one in Danville where my in-laws live. Who ever thought I would enjoy making that trip:-) HL is just more of everything at better prices. HL also has an email newsletter that usually has some cool coupons.

    Sadly, none of this is contributing to my Nano word count. Must get back to it!:-)

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  14. Wow, Hobby Lobby and Michaels both sound like amazing places to get lost in. Wonder if they’ll ever franchise down under?

    Jenny, so glad to hear you’ve had a great time at the beach and are sleeping well (diva or not.) There’s nothing that tops a good night’s sleep for restoration.

    I’m looking forward to the pic of the shawl. Can anyone explain felting to me? I haven’t come across that before.

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  15. One can use variegated yarns for baby garments, because babies are too young to object. All knitters and crocheters buy variegated yarn sooner or later (or even repeatedly); it’s a law of nature.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

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  16. AgTigress, I admire your insight into human nature. Let me add the 70’s fad of tie-dying t-shirts by winding string around part of them. We all loved the effects of the process but after putting on the shirt, I always felt like I was running around with a huge dart target on my body.

    My experience is that you can only knit for children below kindergarten age anyway. As soon as they meet their peers on a regular basis, they establish the rule that only clothing bought in shops is acceptable. By the time they will let you knit sweaters for them again, they have grown to a size where it will take ages to finish the piece. But they will never again accept variegated yarn unless Christina Aguilera or Justin Timberlake would wear it at the MTV awards show.

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  17. Inkgrrl- you don’t need to go that far east for a HL fix- they’re all over Colorado- I’m far enough away from big cities that I don’t get flyers in the newspaper- so I have to sit at the computer, compare flyers, see who has what coupon going, and then it’s off to Joanne’s, HL, and Micheals- HL is more eclectic and they have some material- the Michaels closest to me is very small, but the one that’s another 30 minutes down the road (and really when you’ve already driven 1.5 hours, what’s another .5) is really big and next to a really, really big HL and it’s fun and wonderful, and oh so dangerous.

    Uhm, I like variegated yarn- I’m currently doing a scarf and hat for a friend in black and purple-

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  18. Variegated is good for trim, and I do have a scarf in a lovely deep purple/blue/green mix. I think it probably works better when it’s a mix of darker tones.

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  19. Eh, well I’m craft challenged. But I do love the beach and the retreat sounds amazing, wouldn’t like the shared bed bit, ick! Guess I’m a Diva. Would love to see the shawl with the shells.
    Back to nanowrimo. I wrote a whole chapter today. Yay me! It’s drivel, but still, 4,671 words and a numb bum
    later, I’m proud.

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  20. Yeah, that shared bed/room thing was a deal breaker for me, too, and I’d only be an attendee, not a presenter, so…otherwise it looked gorgeous and was very tempting. Glad it was a good time.

    Yvonne, felting is when you knit something in a wool, then wash it in the washing machine, in hot water, and it comes out much diminished in size…on purpose. At least that’s what Jenny’s talking about and what most people are doing these days. Here’s a link to some pics and patterns (for sale) of felted purse/totes. If you’re at all into it, they’re very tempting. Pet beds and potholders and things like that are popular, too. The patterns are usually just straight knitting, so easy to do. You just have to knit it waaaaaaay bigger than you want the finished product to be.

    Felting the old fashioned way is another thing entirely, involving unspun fibre, some very sharp and dangerous needles and a certain amount of bloodletting. ;+)

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  21. As far as I know felting mostly includes warm water and olive soap which leaves you with wonderfully soft hands as a by-product. It takes a lot of time to rub and scrub the material into an even tissue and shape it at the same time. I have a necklace out of felted beads in different shades of pink (the beads are more than a centimetre in diameter and still the thing weighs practically nothing). I don’t think you can do that in a washing machine.

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  22. CC – these days they are making yarns which felt easily. In fact I did a wool afghan not long ago which I washed in COLD water, gentle cycle and it came out slightly felted, unintentionally, but the effect was still nice. I think that what you are describing must be something different.

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  23. Jenny, in Borders today I saw a graphic novel on the new books stand – Tamara Drewe by Posy Simmonds. It’s the development of a newspaper strip cartoon, and from what I could tell it’s like chick lit.

    Posy Simmonds has been doing cartooning for years.

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  24. This is the blurb on Amazon UK:

    Book Description
    A brilliant new graphic novel inspired by Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, by the author of the widely acclaimed Gemma Bovery

    Synopsis
    Tamara Drewe has transformed herself. Plastic surgery, a different wardrobe, a smouldering look, have given her confidence and a new and thrilling power to attract, which she uses recklessly. Often just for the fun of it. People are drawn to Tamara Drewe, male and female. In the remote village where her late mother lived Tamara arrives to clear up the house. Here she becomes an object of lust, of envy, the focus of unrequited love, a seductress. To the village teenagers she is ‘plastic-fantastic’, a role model. Ultimately, when her hot and indiscriminate glances lead to tragedy, she is seen as a man-eater, a heartless marriage wrecker, a slut. First appearing as a serial in the “Guardian”, in book form, “Tamara Drewe” has been enlarged, embellished and lovingly improved by the author.

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  25. OK, Hobby Lobby is in Arizona, only an 8-hr drive or so from me due east on the 10. The last time I drove back from Arizona I brought a new puppy with me, so how dangerous could it be?

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  26. I get a bi-monthly newsletter about graphic novels and I thought about just emailing it to you, Jenny, but since I don’t really know you that seemed awfully pushy. If you do want it, I would be happy to send it your direction.

    Loved the overheard bits at IHOP, especially “we don’t hit family.” Reality and the ideal meeting head on.

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  27. I, too, felted a sweater inadvertently. I think I washed it in cold water (in the machine) and my lovely bluebell sweater came out all felt-y and much too small. I don’t remember whether I gave it away to strangers or to my 10-year old niece (who turns 11 today!).

    I haven’t been to Hobby Lobby, since a) neither in my town is in an area that I ever visit and b) I have enough uncompleted projects, thank you. However, I may have to go anyway…

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  28. Inkgrrl–we’re planning a Phoenix Cherry brunch/lunch/gabfest and what better reason to come to the Valley of the Sun–Hobby Lobby and cherries! No danger here. Come, be tempted, listen to the siren’s call… Crying crafts and cherries, alive, alive oh.

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  29. Za Za, thanks for the explanation on the felting! Since the things I’ve shrunk have all been accidental to date my mind is boggled at the thought of doing it on purpose! I like the concept, though. Will check out our local craft supply store and see if they can point me in the right direction.

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  30. Did I miss it or did Jane Espenson also not answer the question about Wash?

    I am feeling so crafting challenged, I might have to go buy a picture frame or something. We have a ginormous Joanne’s that is rather amazing. Never made it into the middle there either.

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  31. Cherry brunch/lunch/whatever in Phoenix? Please post to jcf when you settle on a date/time, and maybe I’ll come over for it. It’s only 5 1/2 hours from San Diego by car and an hour by plane. Variegated yarn? Lovely stuff. really. I always fall for it.

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  32. I feel an urge to go and buy some variegated yarn and start knitting something. Oh dear.

    I almost mentioned the new Posy Simmonds book myself, but then reckoned that maybe no-one in the USA would have a clue who she was. She is the absolute GODDESS of graphic novels – a real genius. She draws brilliantly, and her social comment is so acute it makes one tingle – but I think you may have to be British to understand all of it, which is why she might not be a big name across the pond. Her work is totally integrated, as she does both the writing and the drawing. I recommend her work unreservedly.

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  33. Oh – to add to my last post, and reply to one comment made by Strop, who raised the subject of Posy Simmonds’ latest book: P.Simmonds definitely does NOT write ‘chick-lit’! She writes very witty, subtle and basically good-natured social SATIRE in her work for adults (she publishes children’s books too). Her series cartoons appear in the Guardian, which is the best of the British quality daily papers. She pokes fun at the earnest, well-educated, politically liberal British middle-class person – who is the typical Guardian reader. Which is why I think that some American readers will not ‘get’ all the jokes.

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  34. Hey Jenny! Wanted to drop by and say THANK YOU for the time and all the wonderful lessons you gave all of us this past week. The shared bed thing is kind of strange, but next year, I’d rather do that than the sleeper sofa! Regardless, by the time anyone GOT to bed, the tiredness kicked in before awkwardness had a chance.

    While it was an amazing treat to be back in my own bed last night sleeping next to snoring Richy and loooooong Marlo, I did feel bad about missing the collaging process. If it makes you feel any better, I brought home the pieces I’d selected and am planning to do one up in my own sweet time for the WIPs.

    My sister has vacated my head… today she was with my mother as we shopped. Beth always had a gift for choosing Mom’s clothes and it happened again today as Mom was looking for an outfit for the CMAs for Wednesday. The laughter and crying is so cathartic, it’s hard to mind.

    Enjoy the rest of your stay at the beach and I hope the shawl turns out for you. The shells sound like just the thing. Hugs, kisses, and all good wishes. May there be many craft stores on your route home.

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  35. Hobby Lobby sounds like a dangerous place to go – especially since I only get to indulge in my crafty-supply replenishment once a year. I think I’d be on sensory overload there! But in the best possible way ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, pictures of the shawl – and the beach skirt please!!

    I don’t knit, but if I did I’d probably only use variegated yarn!! (But then again, I love tie-dye too.) And I almost always buy marbled color / tone-on-tone fabric for my quilts. Straight solids always look so flat to me.

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  36. And The Guardian is too earnest for me. I used to be an Independent reader but they started driving me nuts a couple of years ago… so I’ve ended up with The Times, the Sunday Times and the Yorkshire Post on Saturdays. Not necessarily brilliant but at least not so deadly earnest.

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  37. What a fabulous sounding week. I always sleep better by the ocean too, so soothing.

    Hey Yvonne, I was looking at the ROCKING good Hobby Lobby website, and they have an internation website for all us US-challenged…http://www.craftsetc.com.
    Maybe you’ll find the felting stuff there ๐Ÿ™‚

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  38. For those of you who shop Hobby Lobby, do you know that there is a weekly on-line coupon that you can print out and take to the store. It’s something different from what they have in the weekly ads you get in the newspaper or pickup at the store.

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  39. Oh Jenny, you sound so mellow. That’s the ocean for you. Nothing like waves on sand to soothe the inner soul.
    One of these days I’m gonna get me a beach shack…….
    well, probably not but we all have to have goals.

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  40. Dang and blast you, Jennifer Crusie. Because of you I spent entirely too much money on yarn today. No, none of it is variegated, but the colors are such pretty jewel tones and lovely to the touch. And I have way more than I’ll probably need. Can I send you the bill?

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  41. Strop, Thomas Hardy! OMG, I still haven’t recovered from Tess of the D’Urbervilles (read when I was 16 for English in High School.) Nope, give me a happy ending any day of the week. Actually, make that EVERY day of the week. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  42. Inkgrrl said:
    Hobby Lobby is in Arizona, only an 8-hr drive or so from me due east on the 10.

    Hobby Lobby Roadtrip! I’ll go with you. I’m dying to check HL out. I won’t be much help with keeping you from bringing home more puppies, though. I might bring one home too. Seems there are many good dog rescues in AZ.

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