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Archive for January, 2003

Information Collecting for Bun Warmer

Thursday, January 16th, 2003

Bikini from Rebecca-online.comI asked the Knitlist for opinions on Michelle’s request for “butt warmers.” I had thought I’d use the Barbara Walker Knitting from the Top book (I still think I probably will) for the pattern/formula, but didn’t know what yarn and how much yarn to get.

Michelle wants to be able to machine wash these, she wants them to be warm, and she wants to keep the costs down if possible. However, since she will wear these a lot and surely wear them out no matter what they are made of, we need them to be durable.

I thought an acrylic/wool blend would be good, and she lives near a Michaels store where she could get some WoolEase so I thought that was the first possible solution. However, the input I’m getting from the Knitlist is that for the type of hard wear these will get, they would probably pill and maybe wear out too soon if made in WoolEase worsted (which is a light worsted).

I may try Plymouth Encore, which I have used and like just fine at a tight sock gauge. Either I’ll do that, or I will look for some sort of worsted superwash that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Often I go to Brown Sheep yarns for affordability, but I don’t like their superwash very much. I’m sure something will come up that will work. We are not on a deadline, this is just a cool idea.

Someone sent me a note that the Rebecca knitting magazine website (this is a european magazine aimed at young knitters) has some free patterns on it. Did you know that? I somehow was surprised. Anyway, they have a pattern for a “bikini” free in PDF format. (See picture above.)

It is not skimpy as I would expect, it sort of has hot pants instead of bikini bottoms, and the top is more like a halter top one could wear with a flowy broomstick skirt in the summer, quite cool. The model is far too anorexic for my taste (am I the only one worrying that we are going to lose a generation of young women to this devastating ideal of skin and bones?) but the two-pieced suit looks wearable for not just a model. I may try that top for the summer, myself (and I am 44, not at all in the target audience). The hot pants I would rather knit-to-fit, but the pattern may help me figure out how much yarn I will be needing.

I found a men’s sweater in a two-color slip stitch pattern that I really liked on the Rebecca site, as well. (I wear a lot of men’s sweaters myself, I like the “flashdance” look of huge top/leggings.) You might want to check it out.

Wristwarmer swatch from Opal sock yarnIn socknitting news, I am working my way on both the purple alpaca and the turquoise Opal sox. I still don’t know what I will do with the found sox of yesterday so I’m letting them sit in a corner of my workspace until they tell me what they want to be. I’m leaning toward giving them away but I’m not convinced yet. It seems most of the sox I’ve done for myself are handwash yarns and it would be great to have a few more machine wash goodies for myself between handwash days. (The picture is a swatch I did in the round, from the Opal yarn. I wear it as a wristwarmer now.)

I haven’t touched my knit rug in days, nor have I done any spinning. I keep thinking I will start on the sleeves to my sweater, and I desperately need a chunk of time to get into the dyeing studio. There are all these white yarns begging for my attention, and a bunch of folks on my emailing list, wishing to see what I am going to sell.

However, I have a lot of computer work to do these days for three different clients, distracting me from the yarn-coloring. That means when I’m home, I often am doing my geeky work instead of knitting or dyeing. I am working with my brother, Eric, on one MS Access project. We solved a problem today that has been an issue for two years! We are very excited about that.

Thank goodness for sox, which can be knit in bits and pieces everywhere but home! If it weren’t for them, I might never finish anything!

A Novel Idea/Lost and Found

Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

Knitting from the Top by Barbara WalkerMy friend Michelle, another dancer in my troupe, asked me today to make her a special project. She wants what she calls a “butt warmer.” How intriguing!

She dances in cold rooms (our dance rehearsal tonight was two very long hours at 50 degrees F, more extreme than usual since the building was having heat problems again). She can cover up with a sweatshirt and a pair of legwarmers, but her tush gets cold! She basically wants a pair of knitted hot pants (extremely short pants) made of worsted weight yarn. How fun!

I have the Barbara Walker “Knitting from the Top” book which details nicely how to do pants. I was planning to make myself a pair of long underwear with my leftover sock yarns, before next year’s cold season. Now I get to try the trickiest part, the top part down to 2 inches or so past where the legs join. And I’ll be using fatter yarn, as well, making it a quicker project.

I put out a note to the Knitlist asking how much yarn she should get for this project. I usually make socks or hats, or occasionally legwarmers. I sure do not know how much sweater yarn I need for butt warmers!!! We will see how this goes. It may take a while because it definitely will be thinking knitting, which I don’t do much of. However, it will be fun and rewarding when I do complete the project.

In other news, I was digging around in the trunk of my car today looking for some oil, and I found a plastic grocery bag I didn’t recognize. It turned out to be a bag containing a pair of sox I had started in August and totally forgotten about! All that is left on them is to knit both toes. What a wonderful find!

Graceland ChapelI knit them mostly on vacation in Las Vegas (when we went to Graceland Chapel to see a wedding performed by “Elvis,” a wonderful wedding indeed). I did them in Regia self-striping yarn, on size 2-1/2 Brittany needles which is really a bit loose (remember I knit tightly in general so it may not be as off as it sounds) but I was interested in instant gratification. How funny is that? Some kind of instant I got!

I apparently kept knitting on the feet of these sox when I was distracted by other things, so they are too long for me. Now I have to decide if I want to un-knit an inch or so and make them fit me, or give in to the fact that they are loose all over and they may fit a friend better than they fit me.

I visited my friend Altu today, who I had gifted with sox around Christmas (but not specifically a Christmas gift) and she was waxing poetic about those sox. She is a skilled knitter running a restaurant, hence she finds no time to knit. She’s never knit sox but now that she adores the pair I made her, she wants me to teach her how to make some. It should be fun, if I can get her away from the restaurant long enough to really learn.

These newfound sox would fit Altu pretty well. They also would fit my friend Ulyana, or my friend Elizabeth, or my goddaughter Sara. But they were intended for me! Brian says they look like they should be mine, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and rip away on that foot and make them for me after all.

Quilts and Handpainted/Embellished Fabrics

Tuesday, January 14th, 2003

It snowed today, which means I need color. Maybe you are in the same boat! You may want to visit this site with beautiful quilts and lovely handpainted/embellished fabrics:

http://home.earthlink.net/~gorgongurl/gallery.htm

The woman who does these, Melanie Testa, is on one of my dyeing email lists. Lovely stuff.

In knitting news, I turned the heels on the alpaca sox yesterday, then turned heels on a pair of turquoise jacquard Opals today. I’m always delighted to be past that part… not because I have trouble with it technically, but because I just prefer knitting without a thought in the world.

I’ll be happy now until I get to the toes on both pair. It won’t be too long on the alpaca, because I’m about 3″ past the heel and I like my sox slightly less than 9″ long. I still am decreasing the gusset stitches on the Opals. I’ll take pictures when they look like something!

The Opals are very very slouchy in the cuff and the alpaca only slightly slouched. I am looking forward to the alpaca for sheer luxury and warmth, and the Opals for the color. I am in a turquoise mood, I have been for several months. Turquoise is harder to find than fuschia and purple, my other two “standard” colors. It will be fun to finish something soon. Then maybe I will allow myself the time to start in on the sleeves on that stalled sweater!

Diversions

Monday, January 13th, 2003

Kazookulele, copyright by LynnHI’ve been in dialog today with folks on the PalmTalk email group on Yahoo. I have had a Handspring Visor Neo (Palm device) since about August, and it still is not working the way I need it to work. Fortunately, there are friendly folks who are willing to share what they have experienced.

I really love my Visor, the calendar is very helpful to me. I don’t do well with paper calendars at all, and carrying my laptop everywhere was getting clumsy enough that I was not doing it all the time. I had a bad few weeks where my schedule got very confused, thus I decided to get the Visor. If I can enter something electronically, I seem to do a better job of keeping it going. This has been a big improvement. Now I just need to figure out how to print only a handful of my appointments. I have been using Lotus Organizer for this function, but it is not synchronizing nicely with the Palm device. Therefore, I’m looking for other ideas.

While corresponding with the Palm Talk folks, I decided to follow the links in a few folks’ signature lines. I found one person who collects yo-yos and one person who makes balloon art by twisting long balloons (my father in law does this sometimes when he hires out as a clown). The page about how they make balloons I found particularly interesting.

I wonder why it is that I get obsessed with knitting sox and inventing the perfect recipe for pumpkin pie that doesn’t use milk or egg, and someone else loves yo-yos or twisting balloons into artforms? Why is it that Brian loves to play banjo and ukulele (and a host of other instruments) but not drums… or for that matter, why does he not wish to act in a play? Why does my brother like acting and directing *and* designing lighting for theatre, yet if I can not be on stage I do not want to give up my time off to help with a play?

In a previous “life,” I was obsessed with polymer clay. I made sculptures, wall pieces, used sheets of polymer as paper for block prints, and made kazoos. The first time I really talked to Brian, he bought a Hershberger Art Kazoo from me. The kazoo shown here on the stand is one I made for him much later. I think I made it for our first Christmas together. I believe the number of the pictured one is #135. It is titled Kazookulele.

I haven’t made a kazoo in over a year now, but I have made close to 200 of them. Brian and I had kazoos as favors at our wedding over six years ago, so that folks who did not bring their instruments (we had a jam session as our reception) could hum/play along.

Last Holiday Gathering

Sunday, January 12th, 2003

Today Brian and I went to the Elderly Instruments employee holiday party. Brian has worked there for over a decade. Since they are a retail (music) store, having the party after the crazy days of Christmas orders are over makes it so that people can actually enjoy themselves.

Lynn with her 1998 New Beetle, JoyWhat a group of creative and talented folks these are! During the entire party there is live music, performed by employees and their friends and family.

Opening the “Concert” of the party was a group of old timers playing acoustic stringed instruments in a style rarely heard anymore. The star of that group was Dorsey, Brian’s banjo-playing friend who will be turning 94 next month. He is a ray of sunshine, always a smile on his face. These days he doesn’t get out much when it is cold, although he is still living in the home he built in 1959-60. He was delighted to be there and we were delighted he could perform!

The next group was Brian and I, as “The Fabulous Heftones.” I got to sing my new song, “Tellin’ it to the Daisies,” that Annette Hanshaw number I mentioned about a week ago here. It went over well and was very fun. In previous years, I haven’t sung many pieces because I didn’t take the time to learn new tunes. This time I sang a bit more than usual and got a lot of lovely and kind feedback that people enjoy my singing. That was a wonderful development!

OK, so they already know how good Brian is on the ukulele and so they may take him for granted. I sure don’t!!! But good feedback is always a delight, especially since I enjoy performing so very much.

To keep warm, I wore a beautiful stole that was given to me my friend Altu. It was hand-woven in Ethiopia of hot pink silk and very fine white cotton threads. It has really long and flowy silk fringe, and is a large piece of fabric. It was just the thing to perk up my black dress. There is nothing like wearing a piece of art to make a woman smile!

I don’t buy black garments much any more. I only wear dressy clothing on stage these days (meaning I don’t choose to buy new clothes for parties, I would rather save my money for yarn). This is a lovely dress I’ve had for a number of years, that fits me really well. In addition to the stole, I made up for the lack of color in my dress by wearing a turquoise lace shell peeking out the neck, and hot pink tights with violet shoes. With a violet scarf tied in my hair, I think the overall effect was not black!

The other musicians were all excellent, and quite varied in style. I especially liked the family who sang Andean music and other South American pieces. The one daughter who was about 11 years old, was playing two drums very capably while also singing. I was so happy for her!

I would have played drums in 1969 when I started band, but that was just not acceptable for a girl at that time in my community. I would have been good at drums (I have always been very good with rhythm), and I would have loved it! But instead my father gave me two choices: clarinet or trumpet. I would have loved flute as well, but Dad did not consider that an acceptable choice for whatever reason. I never liked clarinet, and therefore never became good at it.

Fortunately, I also wanted to play guitar and Dad thought that was OK. He got me a guitar about the same time, and I played it pretty much constantly until I went away to college. I gave up my music for over a decade and picked it up again when Brian encouraged me to learn to play the Heftone Bass (click the Fabulous Heftones link above for a picture) that I play with him now. I love playing the Heftone! I found it easy to learn after playing chords on the guitar for so long. And it’s so small, it fits in the back seat of my 1998 VW New Beetle as well!!

(Here’s a picture of me with my car, whose name is Joy. OK, I know it is sort of corny to name a car, but most of my cars have had names and I was so joyful to get her, there was only one name she could have!)

A Little Graffiti

Saturday, January 11th, 2003

Thermos Embellished by LynnHIt’s that time of year again. The time I get so sick of everything outdoors being mostly gray. Light gray cloudcover (where I live, we get almost no sun in the wintertime), light gray/white snow on the ground, the houses mostly painted white or beige, the trees the only color… many shades of taupe and reddish-gray. It makes me nuts, especially when there are so many clouds that it feels as though the sun never rose at all.

Last year I reacted to this by painting small walls in the kitchen/eating space a pale peach for warmth, and then followed that by painting trim in the same room either purple or turquoise. The year before, I painted my cellphone with fabric paints and my thermos with fingernail polish. A year before that, I went into my attic/studio space and painted turquoise spirals and dots all over the harvest gold stucco walls and ceiling.

Today my knitting friend Tony and I went to our spinning guild. I did a demo on how to use polymer clay, primarily because fiber people often need a button in a certain shade and polymer is a great way to make your own colors, if need be. I enjoyed it tremendously, I just love teaching and I know a lot about polymer. It’s fun to feel competent!

I took my graffiti-painted thermos with me when we went to the guild. It occurred to me that maybe it could make you all smile, as well.

Un-Knitting as Many Times as it Takes

Friday, January 10th, 2003

ColorJoy Handpainted Roving by LynnHI finished a beret made of the yarn my friend Mandy gave me for Christmas (see my December 30 entry). It just plain didn’t work. It looked fine for most of the knitting but it just is awful now, after I stitched on the hat band. It fits fine but it sort of gathers or ruffles up around my face instead of being flatter.

Someday I’ll figure out berets. For now, it is still a guessing game every time I change yarns (which changes gauge and number of stitches, never mind the drape is different).

I ripped it out twice before I started this version. It will be harder to rip out with the sewing I did to make the I-cord into the hatband. It will be worth it to get it right. After all, Mandy loves me so much she chooses to give me yarn that is gorgeous. I can choose to knit it up in a way that I will actually want to wear it.

My rule for purchasing garments at a store is that I should want to wear it when I’m tired, first thing in the morning, or I probably won’t wear it much. So the beret must be corrected, which means knitting it again. It’s a good thing it doesn’t take long to make a hat, usually two days.

I’ve been working on some knitting for a pattern, and I taught my first computer classes of the term this week, plus I had a client with a big deadline this week. I haven’t had as much time to type here or knit.

However, I’m photographing some yarns and a couple small bits of roving I’ve dyed recently. The picture here is one of the rovings. I’m working on a website to sell them but it’s not ready yet. I thought I’d be selling by late summer and look at me! I get sox and easy hats knit, but that is because I can do it waiting at the doctor or the post office or the bank!

Creative Strands Fiber Art Conference

Thursday, January 9th, 2003

Fiber-friend Judy Lessard writes of a Fiber Art conference in Lewisburg, PA, June, 2003. It covers many subjects, including basketry, beading, dyeing, embellishment, felt making, knitting, spinning, and weaving.
The conference website is http://home.ptd.net/~tjaugust/index.htm

L. Ruelaine Stokes – Photographer, Poet

Wednesday, January 8th, 2003

Photo of LynnH, Copyright by Lynne Ruelaine Stokes, 2003My friend Ruelaine sent me an envelope in the mail, out of the blue. It contained some photos she took of me somewhere between perhaps 1999 and 2001. OK, so my hair and glasses are different these days, but it’s me.

I have such respect for Ruelaine. Not only is she a fabulous photographer but she is a wonderful poet. Listening to her recite poetry, you can’t do anything else but just drown in her words. When she reads, her whole body is involved, as well as her mind and soul. I wish I had some of her poetry to share with you.

When it comes to springtime I may have to get on my knees and beg for a copy of her poem that speaks of spring, as well as a sort of springlike change in life. “…It was a hard time, Lord, but it’s over…”

Some day I’ll have the full text of this piece on paper, to memorize it. I cry when I hear her recite this piece. I love the poem not only because of the images and feelings it contains. I cry because I, too, have had a hard time, and it’s over.

Along with the photos, Ruelaine sent along a page with some wonderful words written by children near Detroit, Michigan, just after 9/11/01. I’ll share one with you.

If You are Lucky in this Life
A window will appear between two armies on a battlefield. Instead of seeing their enemies in the window, they see themselves as children. They stop fighting and go home and sleep. When they wake up, the land is well again.

–Cameron C. Penny

Ruelaine, thanks for the two gifts!

SarahPeasley.com

Tuesday, January 7th, 2003

Hi, all. I had a long day, with a client deadline and then a lovely drive to Ann Arbor to meet with other knitters and fiberartists. We meet at Borders Books and it is just a great group, worth the more-than-an-hour drive one way that it takes. I saw some people I hadn’t seen since October (my schedule has been nuts, plus the group did not meet in December).

The knitting teacher I mentioned on the 31st, Sarah Peasley, writes today that she has her new website up and running. Even if you are not in our area (Lansing, Michigan, USA), you can get her free pattern for golf club covers. Her address is:

http://www.sarahpeasley.com

The picture here is of a sweater designed by Sarah. I think it is just beautiful.

CityKidz Knit!

Monday, January 6th, 2003

Today was the first day of my new term at Foster Community Center. I have a computer classroom there, where I teach computer classes (mostly to novices, usually retired ladies) and where we open it up as a lab to the public, four times a week, for games and homework.

Since August I’ve also had a program, CityKidz Knit! This is the most fun I’ve ever had, maybe ever. My kids are from 7 years to about 15 years old. They are delightful people and they do a darned good job knitting. I have a few kids still with me who started this summer, who are doing hats, scarves, stoles, socks and one sweater. This term, the City of Lansing put a blurb in the schedule book about my program and I found six more people who might not otherwise have found my program.

Today I had 12 kids. It was wonderful! I had five new folks, a few kids I hadn’t seen since summer, and three of my regulars. Magic. Always magic.

I’ll write more about these remarkable children as the term continues. Today I’m wiped out from not enough sleep working for a client. I’m definitely crashing early tonight!

Organizing for the New Year

Sunday, January 5th, 2003

LynnH's first handspun two-ply yarnToday I organized my yarn stash. I have seven clear plastic bins, and I put all sockweight yarns in one, all thicker yarns in small quantities (for sox or hats) in another, large projects like sweaters, felted (fulled) slippers and felted bags in another, etc.

I have enough sockyarn to make 27 pair of sox, filling one box to the brim. I think I’m appalled, except I love every single skein. I remind myself that I did knit 37 pair in 2002, so it’s not even a year’s supply… never mind that I also have some fatter yarns wanting to be sox as well.

However, it is out of balance that I have two boxes of fiber for either spinning or feltmaking. At one time I did a lot of feltmaking (which takes a lot of fiber all at once) but now I’m spinning more than making felt, and that does not use up wool very fast at all. The problem is that I also knit much more than I spin! It is going to take me a long time to spin that wool, or I need to do a feltmaking project this year! I did spin a small amount again today, which made me feel a little better. (The picture is my first-ever handspun two-ply yarn. I dyed the wool myself before spinning it.)

After organizing the wool, I then organized my patterns by putting the ones that I could into plastic pocket protectors and into a 2″ binder The binder is now pretty full. How did I get so many so fast? (OK, they were mostly free from the Internet but I’ve only been knitting again since May 2001.) I often end up knitting without a pattern, but they do inspire me.

Finally (thank goodness) I cleared off my desk, because this is going to be a big work week for me in the computer business. It feels good to start the week with a desk in reasonable order. Too much clutter (my normal state) can eventually make it so my mind gets distracted. I can do emails with clutter, but client projects require and deserve a good clean desk.

A Better Mood

Sunday, January 5th, 2003

flowers in pitcherMy grumpy mood is turning around. After my Saturday walk, I made split pea soup and pumpkin bread, which felt constructive.

Brian and I had a nice dinner together at home. I read some, spun a little on the superwash roving that will someday be sox for my mother, knit three rows on my semi-eternal rug (I’m allergic to the yarn so can not work on it long), and then we worked on learning a new song.

I’m learning Telling it to the Daisies, a lilting melody Annette Hanshaw recorded in 1930 on Columbia Records. You can listen to it if you click on this link http://www.redhotjazz.com/Hanshaw.html and scroll down to find the title. You need RealPlayer to listen to the song, sorry if it’s a hassle.

I already sing Am I Blue and Cooking Breakfast for the One I Love. I have a few more of her pieces on the “someday” list, particularly Would You Like to Take a Walk? and You’re the Cream in My Coffee, and perhaps Button up Your Overcoat. I would love to have a “belting” voice like Sophie Tucker, but in reality I sound really good singing songs like those performed by Annette Hanshaw or Ruth Etting.

I can not express how lucky I am to have Brian as my partner in life. He is just right for me. The more moody I am, it seems, the more constant and dependable he is, yet he is never boring.

I never would be performing musically again if it were not for him. I was a music major in the late 1970’s and around that time I performed quite a bit. However, I had not touched an instrument nor sang in public for years until I met Brian. He just expected that I could learn to play the acoustic bass (I do a decent job of it) and took me along to band practices. Now we play as a duo as well as with the band. It gives me such joy!

The picture is of carnations Brian brought home for me yesterday. He knows I love carnations. They are more beautiful in real life, a warmish fuschia color, more orange than the web can show. I have the right man. Sigh…

Music: “Am I Blue?”

Saturday, January 4th, 2003

OK, I did myself a favor and took a walk before the sun went down. Going for a walk is good for me sometimes. It was deserted, I didn’t even see the people who normally walk their dogs. It is not very cold, so I must have just chosen an unusual time of day.

What really made me feel better was listening to some music my husband and his friends recorded nearly 20 years ago at a performance. They used to perform once a week at a local restaurant, so the energy and connection on stage was fabulous.

What fun, what energy, what music! I’m in that band (Abbott Brothers) now, but we don’t perform much these days. We have two gigs scheduled between now and the Fourth of July holiday, but we jam a good deal more often than that. It is great fun.

I decided that tonight I’m going to give up the knitting entirely and ask Brian to help me work out a new song. I love Annette Hanshaw, whose version of Am I Blue? is just as wonderful as it gets. She recorded in the 1920s and as late as 1935, a classic flapper and expressive jazzy singer. (If you follow the Hanshaw link, you can listen to a good number of her tunes in Real Player format. I prefer her earlier recordings.)

I sing Am I Blue? but I have not worked up any more of her songs for performance. I think it will be a good exercise to pick a song and work on that instead of more knitting. I love knitting, but I get competitive with myself and try to finish more, more more more…!!! I don’t know why, since I’m not competitive in other areas of my life.

Right now the knitting is not fun, so I’m going to sing tonight, and eat good food with my very wonderful partner. The pumpkin bread just came out of the oven.