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Archive for March, 2003

It Snowed, I’m Bummed

Monday, March 31st, 2003

Ugh. It’s the last day of March and it snowed last night. I mean, enough snow to cover everything in white. It was 70 degrees F less than a week ago, and here winter teased me again. Actually, right now it is 46 and the snow has melted, but there is nothing like snow to make me blue… My favorite temperature is 85F, when everyone else is complaining about how hot it is… come on, summer!!!

On top of the disappointing weather, I seem to have some sort of minor gut bug keeping me down. I cancelled my CityKidz Knit! program for today, I don’t want them to get it even if I could make it through the class all right. Mike, who usually works the Wednesday night computer labs, has graciously agreed to work the lab tonight so that we don’t have to be closed. That is good, because I want the room to be available to the kids who have homework due tomorrow.

I’m plugging away on the proofknitting of my sock design. I’m being plagued again by my gauge-of-the-hour, unfortunately. Other than that, it is looking good and the few friends to whom I’ve shown the first sample sock, really liked it. I hope those who are not my friends will be as enthusiastic!

Someone on Socknitters posted yesterday about how she had tried my LynnH No-Purl Heel and really liked it. That made me feel really good.

I created that heel because I really disliked purling. Now I’ve made peace with purls but I still do that heel about 85% or more of the time I make a pair of sox. It just fits me well! It’s stretchier and conforms to my heel better than other heel turns. And I find it easy to turn the heel while chatting with friends. A typical heel for me is not difficult, but it requires total silence. Since I do so much of my socknitting in public, a heel I can do without focused concentration is a real plus.

The LynnH No-Purl Heel is in my free pattern, Fast Florida Footies, that I have mentioned perhaps far too often here in my weblog. But free is a good thing, right?

Off to drink green tea, eat some homemade split pea soup I found in my freezer (yippee), try to heal and relax, and knit the final bit of my sample sock. It’s a good thing the work of the day is knitting, the most relaxing thing I can think of. The spreadsheet for the pattern is 99% done, so now it’s knit, knit knit.

Sarah is Following Me!

Sunday, March 30th, 2003

Ulyana's SoxWell, for three days in a row this weekend, I ended up in the same place as Sarah Peasley. First she and her hubby visited my open house at Foster Center. Then on Saturday we knit together at Yarn for Ewe’s Knitters’ Night Out.

And today I visited my friend Nancy McRay (who is somewhat responsible for the fact that I picked up knitting again 2 years ago, after not knitting for a decade) at her new artspace/artyarn shop. They are painting and stocking shelves at this point but she will start having some business hours later this week. Very exciting… a lifelong dream for Nancy, who also is an amazingly accomplished weaver and weaving teacher.

Nancy teaches fiberarts/weaving at Bailey Community Center, a converted old school something like Foster Center but in East Lansing (and not owned by the city the last I heard). I took my only weaving class from her there, and made a gorgeous rug. I didn’t like working a loom at all, but I did love the rug, thank goodness!

Anyway, Sarah took some digital photos when she was there and put them up on her blog. There’s a picture of me with Nancy. Most of the yarns in the store are handpainted locally, mostly by Nancy, but not only by her. The space is just FULL of gorgeous, unapologetic color! ColorJoy! (Speaking of ColorJoy, the sox here are a pair I knit for my friend Ulyana many months back. She loves them and I really need to make her another pair one of these days.)

More details on Nancy’s space will surely come later as I learn more. It does look like she’d like me to teach socknitting there, and how could a woman like me ignore an opportunity like that? I will look forward to that.

Meanwhile, go check out the pictures!!! Sarah gives details on location and a couple of wonderful pics (including one of Terri, Sarah’s friend and a member of the local knitting guild, in a comfy chair by the fireplace in the store…gotta love it).

I am still working on the summer sock design, due April 1. I always want to offer waaay too many sizes so I’m crunching numbers (how many stitches around for a small woman’s foot versus a toddler, etc) instead of knitting. I like knitting better!!!

Too Much to Say

Sunday, March 30th, 2003

Wow, I’ve been so busy I have not been blogging much!

Foster Fun Night
Friday’s open house at Foster was a good deal of fun. The computer room was hopping the whole time, with kids playing games and with our wonderful volunteer, Bill. Bill lives across the street and popped in a few weeks back asking if there was anything he could do to help us out. Our Foster Advisory Board who planned the open house, wanted people to be able to have a digital picture taken and printed out to take home. Well, I could not supervise the computer room *and* be a photographer. So Bill got the second task.

He did a great job. Folks came in, got photos taken, he put the photos in a sort of digital picture frame that said “Foster Fun Night” and he printed them out. Then a group of young boys, maybe 5th or 6th grade, came in together. I don’t know who started it, but in the end the boys requested that Bill draw in gold teeth, goatee beards, afros, you name it. They loved it! I think Bill was the most popular thing going on the first floor, although the trained dogs were also very popular (we have dog obedience classes in the building).

Three knitters from the local guild came to help out with any visitors who were interested. Luann, Jean and Jane all stuck out the whole day. They didn’t get too many visitors (I’m sure it was not as visually enticing as a digital photo) but they sent home two girls and a boy with small rectangles of knitting as necklaces or wrist bands. I’m so grateful they came, and a bit frustrated I couldn’t have been in two rooms at the same time.

Oh, Sarah Peasley and her husband, Ryan also came. They were having an evening on the town (without kids) so they popped in for a little while and went The Fabulous Heftoneson to dinner, but it was great to see them. Ryan works with computers and was very interested in my room. I must say, I do a lot with very little. My machines are all donations (with the exception of 2 remaining machines from grants 7 and 8 years ago) and I have about 20 machines going. Two have Windows 3.1, three have Linux, one has Windows 98 (a donated machine) and the rest have Windows 95. They are not fancy, not new, not big… but they work and they keep “my kids” occupied and thinking. In the summer, every working machine will have at least one kid sitting in front of it.

It’s funny, because one of my most popular games is very old, perhaps 1991 or so (it is a DOS game, not even Windows). One day I had 10 computers going, and five of them were running the DOS version of family feud, which is a good thinking program that requires good spelling. I am pleased that the kids don’t require things to be flashy to have fun.

The Fabulous Heftones Perform
Saturday late afternoon, Brian and I performed at Wally Pleasant’s new store, Plan B Apparel and Accessories. It’s a funky retro place which sort of goes with our retro sound. It was a small but appreciative crowd (of course, it snowed after having such springlike weather just a few days ago). We had a good deal of fun, and I acquired a genuine Hawaiian shirt from the early 1970’s, for a very good price.

Omar Oyarzabal at Altu’s
Altu's Ethiopian CuisineAfter I got home and transformed from Lynn Heftone into my normal LynnH self, I ran out to see the last 15 minutes of Omar Ayarzabal at Altu’s restaurant. Omar is an elegant gentleman from Cuba who is a classically trained guitarist. He plays Spanish, Latin-American, and classical guitar, and sometimes sings. Temesgen Hussein was there as a customer (he is the Traditional Ethiopian musician who plays on the first Saturday of each month) and so the three of us had a very nice, though too short, conversation. I just love being surrounded by such excellent people! I’m a very lucky person. Lansing is so good for the arts… if you want to perform, there are venues available. If you want to show your visual art, there are places as well. And if you want to hang out with other creative people, there are many ways to connect. There is little snobbery in the creative community… we all belong to one another. This is one of the best things about my smallish city, the biggest reason I become less inclined to move the longer I stay. (I grew up in a suburb east of the city, since the very early 1960’s… but I’ve had dreams to leave ever since I discovered Toronto and other big cities, in the mid-1970’s.) The picture is of Altu’s restaurant as Hall and Morgan were playing, last Saturday.

Knitters’ Nght Out at Yarn for Ewe
After Altu’s (did you know I wasn’t done yet?) I went to join the knitting crowd at Yarn for Ewe in Okemos, just east of East Lansing. Occasionally they have a Knitters’ Night Out, where people can hang out at the store until roughly eleven or midnight, knit and socialize. Those who wish to do so, order pizza and share the cost… and there are always sinful desserts made by Marcia and Wendy who work there, as well as some of the participants. Cheanne brought two desserts this time, a sort of rhubarb pie and a gingerbread that looked wonderful. I still can’t eat most food others make so I just admired it from afar.

I sat next to Sarah Peasley , Cheanne, Jane, and Tracy, folks I know from the guild. I sat particularly close to Sarah because I decided to work once more on the eternal sweater she has helped me with on other occasions. I am doing the sweater seamlessly. I knit the body in the round all the way to the shoulders. I cut armholes using the twisted-stitch-through-back-loop and crocheted chain version of steeking that I read about first in Knitter’s magazine (article by Rick Mondragon) last spring. Then I knit together the shoulder seams and (after much help from Sarah) I picked up the proper number of stitches at the armhole.

At the point where I came to the Knitters’ Night Out, I had the armhole stitches picked up but needed to figure out how many times I needed to decrease as I worked down the sleeve. Sarah helped me get the numbers figured out and I got started.

I’m too funny, though! I am so used to knitting around and around in a tube with no interruptions, that I kept knitting on that sleeve about 3.5 rounds past where I was supposed to decrease. So when I got home I had to frog (rippit, rippit) it back and fix the thing. Still, it’s a relief to not be stalled on that project any more. Perhaps I’ll make that my project to knit with the kids at Foster when they don’t need help. I’m nearly done with the hat they assigned me (the knitting is done, part of the sewing is done, then I need two tassles and it’s complete), so I’ll need something for working there that isn’t too demanding. I’m going to make a ribbon row counter with five loops, since I am to decrease every fifth row for a good long while. Then the ribbon can count and I won’t have to pay so much attention.

First Blossoms of Spring

Friday, March 28th, 2003

Today I spotted two flowers on the myrtle/periwinkle groundcover right up next to our house. Two beautiful periwinkle-blue blossoms!

It was 70 degrees early today. Tonight it became a downpour and 20 degrees lower, at least. I heard a rumor of snow for tomorrow. But today we had the two first blossoms of spring.

Poem to Knit By

Friday, March 28th, 2003

Theresa, a blog reader, wrote asking for the poem I use for teaching kids to knit. I basically adapted a poem used often around the US. Of course, there are many versions of this and I changed it a little myself.

UP through the front door,
Dance AROUND the back,
DOWN through the window,
and OFF jumps Jack!

This describes the English/American way of knitting well enough to keep them on track. It works very well.

I am still working on my sock for publication, deadline April 1. On top of that, I have the Foster open house tonight. Busy, busy!!!

A Different Idea

Wednesday, March 26th, 2003

Changing a Design
I am working on my prototype sock which is hopefully to be published. I had this great idea for the rib/top of the cuff, and I was able to do it beautifully the first time. However, after doing it the second time I can see that explaining this in black and white text will be a challenge I’m not excited to try.

I’m ripping back a few rows and I’ll see if I can figure out a way to accomplish a similar look with simpler instructions. I am enjoying the colors (turquoise and purple, are you surprised?) and it’s always fun to be at the beginning of a new creation. The deadline is really tight, though… so tomorrow when I thought I might be dyeing wool, will now be spent working out this pattern instead. Darn! I get to knit tomorrow and not feel guilty about it!!! Drat. What a rough life I lead!!!

Knitting Kids
Foster Center continues to obsess my thoughts. I was there today for CityKidz Knit! and then for Habibi Dancers. The kids were wonderful today, I had only three of them but it’s actually good to have small groups sometimes. That gives me more time to work with kids who have “hiccups” in their knitting.

One girl came for the first time since summer. It was great to have her back. It took some time for her to realize how long it was going to take to make a blanket for her beanie toy, but somehow she stuck it out and took the knitting home so she could make progress on it before next meeting. I was worried she’d give it up when she realized how slow the process was. My answer is always the same: It’s OK if you don’t love knitting the way I do… it does take time, so you have to enjoy the process. If you don’t love making one loop at a time, you may not enjoy knitting, but it’s always good that you tried something new. She stayed.

My youngest knitter, who turned six a week or two ago, loves making stitches but gets distracted easily. She makes stitches well when I say our poem to her, to guide the stitches… but after a while she says she can do it without me. She can, if there are no distractions, but she gets stuck if something else takes her attention. She just loves me, comes in and gives me hugs without any prompting, and sometimes sort of follows me around. She clearly wants to be near me even when knitting takes too much energy.

I sometimes let her draw for a while after she’s taken a turn at knitting, so she will be able to stay with us and have something to focus on. Today she drew a picture that said “I love knitting,” with a picture of me and a picture of her. It made my day!

Foster Volunteers
I have at least three volunteers for Friday’s open house. Luann and Jean, who both helped me every week for 8 weeks this summer, are coming. Also, Jane who is our guild President, has also said she would come. Thank you so much, ladies! Even more folks would be merrier, but three is wonderful!

I’m getting excited about the open house. I love my workplace, it is a very good-karma place to be. Showing it off will be a joy.

Off to knit!

CityKidz Knit! Again!

Tuesday, March 25th, 2003

Foster Community Center in Lansing, Michigan, USAToday I had computer lab in the afternoon. It wasn’t knitting day, at least officially. But I had four girls knitting in computer lab at one point where I didn’t have anyone doing computers! I’m so proud of “My Kids.” I really think they are wonderful, and so we have this “Mutual Admiration Society” going on. It is good for us all. My day turns right around when I have a knitter or two in my room.

Two of those four girls are new to knitting this week, plugging away. When they didn’t get things just right, they had no qualms about unraveling the whole thing they had made and starting again. Actually, ripping out knitting *is* sort of fun, if you aren’t attached to the thing you knit!

One of my girls is really getting good at knitting. She does spend time knitting when she is not at Foster Center, and it really shows. Her parents bought her a few books about knitting and she is especially interested in knit/purl textured stitch patterns. She has not done a lot of purling and is not used to counting stitches much, but she is really giving this a good try, doing a moss stitch star with 8 points. She tried doing a knit/purl pattern once before when I had too many kids at once for me to help her well. I think she is going to get it this time.

She is also interested in trying to knit continental style, with the yarn in her left hand. She watches me knit, and I’m fast, and I can talk and knit without looking at what I’m doing. That is pretty intriguing to an 11-year-old girl! She would like to do that also. She tried a little today but was having some trouble keeping tension on her yarn. She may have to figure out a different way to wrap the yarn than I do it (I go over the index finger, under the middle finger, over the ring finger, then under and looped around my pinkie finger). She may not need to do a loop around the last finger as I do, or she may just need some practice, we’ll see.

Plans for the Foster Center open house are coming right along. I have three volunteers already, including the two women, Luann and Jean, who helped me all summer with the CityKidz Knit! program…. and Jane, our local guild president. I’m very grateful for this support, since I truly can not be in two rooms at once and my computer lab will no doubt occupy my time pretty fully. The picture today is the exterior of Foster Center. I think the photo was taken during the beautiful summer of 2001. Notice the lovely early-1920’s brick work.

Also, today I wore my overdyed, tea-stained sox for the first time. I wore them with dark teal pants and they were perfect! The pants have roomy legs, unlike my typical leggings, and so they covered up the stain anyway. I enjoyed wearing them, and was grateful I had been able to figure out a way to make them wearable.

Catching Up

Monday, March 24th, 2003

Fast Florida FootiesToday I worked on some changes to the page for my Fast Florida Footies. I had a few people write saying the last few characters of each line of text were cut off when they tried to print it. This, I am sure, depends a bit on which printer someone has (it printed out fine on my printer) but I changed the width so that it should work now. If anyone wants to test and let me know if it prints OK at their house, I’d appreciate it. Just click on the picture here, and it will take you to the new page.

I really want to do a total redo of my free pattern pages, with a white background and a few editing changes a few people have sent recently. However, I have to dig out the notes and some days I feel more organized than others in that department.

Bye-bye to My Tree
Oh, just in personal news… it was warm enough today and the sun stayed up long enough, that I finally agreed to take down our wonderful, 1940’s, silver-aluminum tinsel Christmas Tree. Brian had to start, though, I was so sad to lose it. Since it’s shiny, turning on the fuschia lights really reflects all over the room. We took it down in March last year, too… but not this late. I was really pushing it this time, don’t you think??? No pics, I’m sorry. Next year, I guess.

In knitting news, when I’m out and about I’m working on my Magic Garden Buttons sox, about 4″ on both cuffs so far. I don’t feel like turning the heel on the wool/alpaca blend and haven’t heard back from Diana yet on her two pair.

But then when I was home, I started on another design possibly for publication. Cross your fingers for me! I made the proposal today and am not sure how long it will take to find out if I’m accepted or not. There is also going to be a design contest at http://needletrax.com for sox based on Sole Solutions software. (I really like the software, especially when I make sox for others.) That will be fun, but I signed up only a few days ago and have not even started thinking on that one.

Foster Community Center Open House, this Friday
Oh, if any knitters in the Lansing area are free on this Friday night, Foster Community Center is having an open house and is willing to open a room for knitting (as in, teach someone who has never knit before how to knit a few rows, or perhaps answer a few questions), except I have to be working in my computer lab. Anyone in town able to volunteer? There will be plenty for kids to do if you need to bring yours along. And you can meet some of my CityKidz from my knitting program! They are great people.

The open house starts at 6:00 pm and I think it ends at 8:00 pm. The location is in the East Side Neighborhood, just west of Frandor and less than a block behind the Blimpies on Michigan at Foster Ave. The address is 200 N. Foster and I would be glad for you to just pop by, but I do need to know if I have enough volunteers for them to set up space for us or not. I sent out an email asking several local folks if they would help out, but I am tired and could have easily missed a few folks.

Sofia Knits!

Sunday, March 23rd, 2003

Jam Session in Living RoomLast night we went to our second 50th birthday party in three days. This time it was Bonnie’s birthday.

Bonnie is very involved in the contra dancing community in this town, and there were so many people at one point that a person could barely move from one side of the room to another. At least half of the folks who attended were musicians, and there ended up being two different jam sessions. Let me tell you: the music community in Lansing is top notch! The old timey fiddle jam sesion in the living room was so wonderful, it was just as good (or better than) as going to a concert, but with much better seats! This is a picture of the session before a half-dozen more musicians joined the crowd. And yes, that young lady in the center of the picture can definitely play the fiddle! She didn’t know all the tunes, but did join in on several she knew.

There were three of us at the party who were knitting, Cindy, Sharon and me. At one point, Cindy got up to get some food or something, and Brian (my hubby) sat in her chair for a moment. He picked up her socknitting as if he were knitting it, just as a preschooler came by. Child: What are you doing? Brian: Knitting socks! Child: Why? Brian: ‘Cuz it’s cool! At that point the child had enough information and walked away. The rest of us just laughed!!!

My friend Ulyana came to the party, and she brought her daughter, Sofia, who is a sophomore in High School. Sofia learned to spin with a drop spindle, a little over a year ago. She came to my house on winter break, and I taught her as best I could (I usually spin on a wheel). She had wanted to spin for a long time, as she has a favorite book that features spinning as an important part of the story line. She took to her drop spindle like a fish to water. In fact, she carries the spindle with her so that if she has waiting time, she can spin. She’s just like me with my sock projects, always in my bag.

I have made sure Sofia has had a constant supply of fiber to spin. I gave her much of the Kool-Aid dyed wool I had left from my Fabric of Friendship project, some samples I’d been given by several generous fiber folks, and quite a bit more. She now has LOTS of yarn in assorted fibers and colors, and no real way to use it. She only knows a little about weaving and hasn’t learned to knit or crochet.

Sofia showing her first knitting projectSo last night I got to sit by Sofia, one of my favorite people, and here we were, three of us knitting sox. Sofia told me that she had seen some arm-warmers at an expensive store, but they were not well made enough to warrant the cost. She still would love a pair of arm warmers, though, if they were not so expensive for what they were. I told her that surely I could teach her to knit some out of her own yarn, if we could find time.

We made plans that I would teach her knitting during spring break in a few weeks. Then it occurred to me: Why not start teaching her right then and there? So I started. I only had 4″ double pointed needles, but I had some size 6 which were big enough around for a new knitter. As I started casting on for her, someone else came over and asked me to show how to join double pointed needles for knitting in the round. So I digressed for a moment to show her, and then went on to Sofia.

She learned to cast on, and then I showed her first how to knit English/US style with the poem I use with my little kids at Foster Center. But I did tell her that I knit differently, so I would start her with the way I knew I could teach it well, and then we’d try another way after she understood making loops.

After one row of about a dozen stitches, we turned and started back. But this time I showed her how I wrap the yarn on my left hand fingers to knit much faster, continental/German style. She loved it. I was thrilled, because I have not successfully taught anyone to knit continental style before, and I do prefer it. I think that many of the kids at Foster just don’t have the fine-motor coordination to do it, and the older girls I showed at Foster had been knitting long enough English style that they were not comfortable switching. I think both ways are just fine, but continental is so much faster that I really prefer it myself. (I learned English style in 1969, and switched to continental style about 20 years later, so it is possible to switch if one is determined, as I was.)

Sofia is very lucky, her hands learn things quickly. We have worked together with polymer clay, and then spinning, and now knitting. She learns these things very easily. So she went to town, knitting a small rectangle in garter stitch. She had done maybe six rows when Ulyana came by to announce that it was time to leave. So I asked Ulyana for time enough to show Sofia how to bind off. And she bound off her dozen or twenty stitches, and made her very first tiny knit item! She was quite pleased. Here is a picture of her showing off her first project.

Now when we get going during spring break, we will have to learn a few more things, such as purling and increasing/decreasing. Then she can make some arm warmers from her vast collection of handspun yarns. She will be a very happy young lady, for sure!

A Soft Surprise

Saturday, March 22nd, 2003

I went to my PO Box today and there was a fat envelope awaiting me. It was a package full of polwarth roving from Catharine, a frequent reader of my blog.

Thank you Catharine! No wonder you say this is your favorite wool, it is as soft as a kitten! I just kept petting the part sticking out of the envelope, as I was waiting at stoplights on the way home. It made me smile.

I may actually spin this lovely wool before I dye it, because it feels so good just the way it is. Dyeing can mess with the softness of a roving and I just can’t see doing that with this yummy stuff! I typically don’t spin white fiber, because I’m such a color fanatic that I want to see the color going through my fingers. However, I think in this case, the texture will occupy me well enough to not miss the color at all.

Now I need to finish the superwash roving I’m spinning for my mother’s sox, so that I can spin the polwarth. I sure wish I could spin and knit 24 hours a day, don’t you??? I do enjoy sleeping once I get there, but it seems such a shame to sleep when there is all this wool I could be touching!!!

Oh, today I started a new pair of sox when I had no real reason to do it other than I wanted that color more than the pair I’ve been knitting lately… and the sox I’ve been using as public knitting are at the point where they need heels anyway. (The two pair for Diana are both on hold after the heel turning, waiting for measurements.) It was a pretty good excuse, I thought.

The new pair are Turquoise and bright purple Buttons yarn (a light DK weight wool/polyester which is marketed for kids’ clothing). I love Buttons, my first and third pair of sox were made of this stuff and it’s comfy and colorful. It has little blips of color throughout, so the turquoise has blips of red, yellow, blue and green. Absolutely wonderful.

Thanks again to Catharine… this polwarth is heavenly. It makes me dream of sleeping on a cloud of the stuff. Sooo soft!

A Slow Day, for a Change

Friday, March 21st, 2003

Great Lakes Diner, Lansing, MichiganIt was a sort of leisurely day today. I slept so much! Fridays and Sundays are typically our “days off” together, although I often have client appointments on Fridays (if I’m lucky).

Brian and I like to go to breakfast together on at least one of our slow days. Today we walked to the Great Lakes Diner, about 5 blocks from our house. I enjoy it there, although the food is typical diner fare… the people and the service are really great and we feel as though we belong. I like that feeling. It isn’t about my oatmeal and cup of tea (although they do have green tea which makes me happy), it’s about being there.

After that, I came home and found out my afternoon appointment was cancelled. I was just exhausted (even though I had fallen asleep early and slept hard) so I took a nap! It felt sort of lazy, but spring is so hard on my body (because I’m allergic to the mildew that comes out when it is rainy) that I just let my body have the rest it was craving. I feel so much better!

For dinner tonight we went to Altu’s restaurant. It was so good to see her! I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to stop by. Often I can go there during the slow time between meals and we can chat a little. The last few weeks have been busy with a few clients (this is good) so I have missed out on our chats.

That woman (Altu) can cook!!! Brian tried the spicy ground peas with greens (a wonderful new twist on old favorites) and I had my favorite: lima beans. Yes, really! I never knew before I met Altu, that you could say “lima beans to die for” in one sentence, but you just can’t believe how good these taste! She had to talk me into trying them the first time, and now it’s my favorite thing in the whole restaurant. I make sure I eat half so that I can take home another portion to eat later, for twice the pleasure!!!

When we got home I dyed more wool. I finished some roving and yarn I had started earlier, and then started measuring out more yarns to dye. You know, measuring yarn is just plain boring! It also is a bit hard on my back the way I’ve been doing it, so I’m trying to figure out what else I can do.

Right now I use a niddy-noddy, which is a gizmo for hand-measuring out yarns. Mine I built from PVC pipe so I can get it wet if need be, but it’s a little heavy. Wooden ones are not as heavy, but they are so expensive and can’t get wet, that I don’t really want to spend on one. Maybe because of my back, I’ll have to reconsider, but it’s hard to justify a bunch of cash for a yarn-measurer (the first one I ever saw was $32, though I’ve seen smaller ones for $15 or so) when I could make my own that works great for a few dollars at the hardware. Maybe if I found one I thought was just beautiful, I could deal with it, but I’m not fond of turned wood and all the wood ones I’ve seen so far have that style.

Anyway it’s finally time to sleep once more! I’m glad I got some work done today in between sleeping. Tomorrow I have a pretty full day, with a client, a computer lab, seeing the dinner performance at Altus (Jim and Cindy/Mingled Circumstances are playing), and then a second 50th birthday party in three days. Whew!


Strangers in the Night

Thursday, March 20th, 2003

Strangers in the NightThursday night, my class cancelled so I got to go with Brian to a 50th birthday party for Wanda, a woman very involved in the local music scene. It was a pretty big group of folks, assembled at a pretty fancy restaurant in downtown East Lansing. The food was adventurous (cherry chicken with asparagus or some sort of pastry and vegetable thing with goat cheese… Brian said it was tasty) and the company was excellent.

Three bands played for the party: Strangers in the Night, The Weepers and the Ingham County Regulars. Brian is in Strangers in the Night, which is really a bunch of guys who work at Elderly Instruments and who get together to play when there is a gathering of Elderly employees. They don’t typically play out together, though most of them are in at least one other band.

The Weepers are one of my favorite local bands, though we don’t see them often. Once, a few years ago, Brian and I got to open for one of their concerts at the Creole Gallery in Old Town. I was happy to hear them again.

The Ingham County Regulars are a new band with some very well-regarded young local talent in it. They play more country, such as “Your Good Girl is Gonna Go Bad,” which was the one tune they did that I knew. Very good band! I guess they are closing one of the stages at East Lansing Art Fair on Saturday night. That fair is usually in May, and often they get rain… so I’m crossing fingers for their sake that there is a good crowd.

The picture here is Strangers in the Night, singing On the Cover of the Rolling Stone. From left to right is Brian H, Steve S, Stan W, Doug B and Mike C. (At least one of the regular Strangers was not there last night, and they usually go by stage names in this band, rather than their real names.)

Notice that Mike is playing washboard. They have a wonderful collection of unusual instruments in the band… in fact, they played Happy Birthday to Wanda on kazoos! I enjoyed that very much. I personally believe that Happy Birthday sounds best on kazoo!

A Dancing Day

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

LynnH as EudoraLynnH as Eudora in Dearborn
Well, today I did my first solo performance with the Habibi Dancers. We do a set of two dances, which we call “Hey” (because the song yells out “hey” so many times, not because that is its real name) and Akhood, and in between the two dances is a solo. I think Hey is my favorite dance that we do… it includes playing finger cymbals (sometimes called “zills” by dancers) and I LOVE LOVE LOVE playing finger cymbals. (The picture is me as Eudora dancing last year, with finger cymbals, at New Aladdin’s Lebanese Restaurant in Lansing. I love dancing there. Yes, those are my tips tucked into my belt!)

I think I did a decent job of the solo, but I went away wondering if I smiled through it or not. I am usually very good at smiling when I dance, probably because I’m having so much fun!!! Today I was more nervous, though it was fun as well. I hope I smiled.

The performance was at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus, where they were having a multicultural celebration. It was totally wonderful being there. The audience was quite responsive and delightful, and when we were done we got to eat some pretty fabulous food from many different cultures. Yum!

I had some of the best hummus (a sort of dip made from chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and spices) I’ve ever had, sort of fluffy almost, and not too lemony and not overpoweringly garlicky. We have a lot of folks of Lebanese heritage in Michigan, especially in Dearborn, so we have some very fabulous Lebanese eateries, even in Lansing. I’m spoiled!

But this hummus I had today was even better than I’ve had in Lansing, and that is saying a lot. Someday maybe I will attempt to make my own, just to try it once, but I am afraid I don’t like making messes in the kitchen enough to do it often… especially when I can buy it for a good price very close to home. Yet sometimes I crave “extra-garlic hummus” when I’m feeling a cold coming on, so it might be good to make some for myself at times like that!

Macrame Makes a Comeback at Foster Center
Oh, I meant to mention yesterday that I taught Mandy (my co-worker at Foster Center, the one who got me this gorgeous yarn shown here for Christmas) how to do basic macrame yesterday! What a hoot. We were talking about how many times she needs to do “craft” classes for the kids, with almost no budget, where she has one hour to fill but not go overtime.

We have a lot of yarns, some which would be wonderful for macrame but are too stiff or heavy for kids’ knitting. So I showed her how to do macrame for friendship bracelets using acrylic yarns! I’m sort of amazed that I remember how to do it. I learned how to do macrame at Christmas of 1969, and did a few projects in the early ’70s and then stopped.

You know, macrame might be a good technique for making purse handles, for the kids I work with. We have found that a single crocheted chain is not strong enough sometimes. Braiding is a little better, but maybe Macrame would be better yet! Hmmm… a dying art comes alive at Foster Community Center! (No, I’m not going to make any hanging plant holders soon, or any owl wallhangings! Those were not my style the first time around…)

Knitting in Slow Motion
I feel as though I am not knitting at ALL lately. I am still working on a pair of sox I actually started before Christmas and gave up on as a gift for holiday season. I picked them up again over a week ago and I just turned the heels today.

The friend I mentioned last week, for whom I’m making sox, now knows they are for her. The recipient is my beloved Sister in Law, Diana. She has a hard time finding sox to fit her because she has arthritis in her ankles.

My brother wrote me a couple of weeks ago and said the only sox Diana has that are really comfy are the ones I made for her two Christmases ago, and would I please make her more??? Well, she *did* say she liked them. And I *did* notice that she was wearing them when I visited last. But don’t people say nice things because we made them, and don’t people wear things we made when we visit, even if they may not wear them otherwise? Diana isn’t much like that, but I didn’t realize how much she really *did* like them.

So now I have one pair almost done, they seem to need just toes. Except they seem too wide in the foot, so I asked her to confirm the measurement of the ball of her foot before I assume they are really ready for me to finish them. I may have some ripping to do, back to the gusset decreases. No big deal.

While I wait on that pair, I picked up the pair I started for her in November. This will be an interesting experiment using two commercially dyed variegated yarns… one mostly blue with greens, and one mostly greens with blue and yellow. It may be wild, but then, Diana likes wild! And if they fit, I trust she won’t be too particular about colorway anyway!

Now if I can ever actually get some knitting done on these! I’m so spoiled because so many people I knit for have tiny feet, so when I knit for Diana and my brother, Eric, I have to knit much longer for one pair. I’ll get over it. I am using fatter yarns to make up for some of the time it takes.

Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild

Wednesday, March 19th, 2003

Wow, I was so tired last night, that I wrote a blog entry and didn’t save it, and when I woke up it was gone. I guess I really needed that sleep!!!

Last night I went to the Mid-Michigan Knit Guild. I got to see bloggers Krista, Sarah Peasley, and Daphne. And a whole bunch of other great folks I see once a month.

I got to do the demo for the program, on polymer clay (for buttons, primarily). I had such fun, but I tell you: 20 minutes is not long enough for all the things I want to tell folks about polymer! We did go over a little bit so I could show some more things. It was just as fun as it could be!

I really love teaching, it is such a high for me. I’m glad that folks enjoy my presentations as much as I enjoy giving them. I received two thank-you’s this morning in my inbox, thanking me for the demo. How nice to wake up to that!!!

Today I go with the Habibi Dancers to perform at University of Michigan-Dearborn. I guess they are doing a week of cultural awareness or some such thing, so we are doing a lecture demonstration, where we dance and explain some about the background of that sort of dance. I love dancing in public, love dressing up as Eudora, love it all. It should be a good day.