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Archive for May, 2003

Happy Birthday, Brian

Saturday, May 31st, 2003

Today is Brian’s birthday. We have been married about six and a half years and I am so grateful for his partnership. If you only knew how unhappy I was for so many years, you might have just a little bit of understanding how good it is to have a person like Brian as my partner in life.

It is his style to be understated, it is my style to be exhuberant and a bit loud. Perhaps, then, he would just as soon have a quiet birthday at home… and here I am announcing his day to the world. But this is my blog, and it is about important things in my life. Brian is important, and his birthday is one of those days when I celebrate him more publicly.

We did celebrate in a very Brian way this evening… we had dinner at Altu’s restaurant. Our friends Jim and Cindy were playing tonight (they go by Hall and Morgan) and another friend, Paul, was sitting in on fiddle and accordion. Brian sat in on a few tunes, as well (on banjo and ukulele). After the performance was done, we invited them to come to our home and play a few tunes, which all three of them did. It was very fun.

Jim and Cindy popped by the deli on the way here. They got some very tasty birthday cupcakes, which was very sweet of them. We drank tea and ate cupcakes and played tunes, for a few hours. And then I gave Brian his new socks (well, he tried them on but I still have to work all the ends in before he can wear them).

Today’s picture Brian took of himself with his digital camera. He once did a good deal of photography but is more into other things (including computers and music) now.

Here is a poem I wrote before we were married:

You are in CaliforniaÂ…
By Lynn D. Troldahl Hershberger

It’s raining.
    Somehow it fits.
    It has been crisp and cold, snowy and sunny.
    But this morning you left, and now it rains.

It will be sunny again,
    and you will return.

But today it rains.

It is a perfect day for solitude;
For a nap,
    a book to read,
    cat on my lap,
    listening to favorite tunes.

Even a walk in the rain feels perfect alone.

I notice the sounds,
    the trickle of water into drains,
    the rhythm of feet on the walk;
I notice the sights,
    mist around the streetlights,
    fog on my glasses distorting the view.

Dinner for one.
    A notepad for company,
    Muzak playing “Close to You,”
    laughter in the next room.

The flavors are more intense,
    without conversation to distract.
I savor each bite,
    noticing the aromas and textures of each course,
    the sound of fizz in my glass.

Full and satisfied, I gird myself in rain gear for the walk home.

Somehow alone feels different now.

I’ve been a pro at it, had it down pat.
None of my activities today are new.
But alone when you have a partner is different somehow –
    I still feel loved, connected.

I remember well your goodbye hug.
    The hug lingers in my heart.

Somehow on this walk, and during this meal,
    your love is my companion.

Happy Birthday, Brian.

A Grumpy Day

Friday, May 30th, 2003

Well, somehow I “got up on the wrong side of the bed” today. I just could not wake up, and was not myself until nearly dinnertime. It was awful, since I had some plans for the day and could not shake myself alert enough to get started.

Chair Lynn got at MSU SurplusAn Adventure in Salvage
I did go to MSU Salvage/Surplus Store with Brian around noon. I found a very fun chair to sit on when I spin at my new wheel, I am very happy about that. Brian also found a chair and we got a few computer parts as well.

Salvage is this warehouse at Michigan State University, where they sell off things that are no longer needed by the university. It is amazing to see the things they have to sell there. Sometimes you will see scientific equipment that once cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but now is considered obsolete. Once I was there and they were selling these 12-foot-long oak library card catalog files. Gorgeous. Sometimes there is medical equipment, today there was a lot of commercial kitchen equipment, like a gas grill of the type used at breakfast diners, and a machine for dispensing milk in a cafeteria line.

It can be quite overpowering, a little like MTV with all these visuals attacking the eyes all at once, and the brain wrestling to decide what in the picture is worthy of focus. Today it was overwhelming to me, but sometimes it is joyfully stimulating to the senses.

My chair looks a lot like a white mushroom with a back and a green seat pad. It reminds me of the futuristic styles in Woody Allen’s movie “Sleeper.” I also remember seeing similar furniture at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) in the early 1970’s. The chair is really scuffed up, but appears to have been painted (over plastic or fiberglass) so I will plan to eventually prime it and repaint it. I will also recover the chair seat which is artificial leather and has detatched at one spot.

I love practical manufactured items which look like sculptures! I feel that my Louet wheel is in this category, and my collection of Hall teapots. We have some toasters and other chrome appliances which are also beautiful in this way. This chair just fits in that realm, although it can not possibly hope to “match” anything at all in this house, other than in spirit. Yet that is why it belongs here.

Taking Charge of My Mood
I decided at about 4:00 that I needed to turn my day around from grumpy to something else, so I decided to go visit my friend Nancy McRay at her store Woven Art. She had just been on a second honeymoon and I just had to hear how her trip went. She had a great time.

She showed me some yarns she purchased on her trip, yarns that look like nothing I’ve ever seen in the US or Canada in my travels. One was like a knit tube of nylon, with a chain of multicolor thread inside it (sort of like a serger stitch or braid). She crocheted a fancy scarf from this. The other yarn I remember had mostly linen and acrylic and a few other fibers, with lots of color and lots of texture, but very stiff feeling, almost like waxed shoelaces. Fascinating. I’ll be interested to see what she makes out of that yarn.

Planning ColorJoy Stole Classes
I brought my Since-September Sweater and my Lumpy-Bumpy-Loopy stole with me as show-and-tell, and we got talking about the stole class she had wanted me to teach this fall. We decided that we don’t have to wait until fall for stoles, because surely there are beautiful summer yarns that would make a great stole for covering up from Air Conditioning or cool evening breezes. I will be combing my calendar this weekend, to find a few dates for the class.

You know what, I got so excited about the class that I just wrote about two days’ worth of blog text on the idea of it all. Let’s just say it will cover color for knitters, and also cover the practical side of making a stole out of multiple dis-similar yarns. I’ll wait until later to go into the details of the contents and philosophy of the class.

Redeeming My Day
Well, my day sure did not turn out as I had expected. However, I did play “Suzy Homemaker” a little. Brian got me some gorgeous vegetables and so I cooked two meals today. We had steamed asparagus with pasta and fava beans (and dill and olive oil) for lunch. And then for dinner, I rescued a soup I had made a month or so ago and froze. I did not like this soup at all, it was a tomato based soup which was too thin and too acidic to enjoy. I had LOTS of this soup and did not want to eat it.

So today I thawed out two large containers of this “not-quite-ready-for-prime-time soup” and used it as a base for a new, better soup. I added some swiss chard (something like spinach) to the pot, and then sauteed some gorgeous orange bell peppers, and some green onions including the green part, and the stems of the chard. I added the sauteed veggies to the soup, added a can of refried beans (I thought this would thicken the soup, mellow it out from the over-acid taste, and add protein… and it worked great), and added a bit of basil and thyme, and a generous amount of olive oil (this is a secret ingredient for soups that do not contain any meat, to add a meaty sensation to the taste).

The soup turned out great. We had it for dinner (Brian had a small second helping so I know it was good) and then I froze eight individual servings for lunches later. Whew! It was great to redeem that poor unloved soup!

I also did a bunch of housecleaning today… laundry and dishes. Not enough that any guest would notice, but enough to make life a little more comfortable. My, do we have a lot of clothes! It’s astounding. But I love clothes, color, and style, and therefore I have a lot of maintaining to do at times. When you tend to change clothes a couple of times a day, you have more work! That is the way it goes, I guess.

Promises, Promises
Soon I’ll take pictures of the beautiful yarns Nancy gave me to create a sample for the ColorJoy Stole class… so lovely! At that point, I may indulge myself and wax poetic about how I will teach color and stole-knitting in two easy sessions. Until then, have as pleasant and non-grumpy of a day as you can!

Little Bits

Thursday, May 29th, 2003

Mom’s Rhubarb Dessert Event
I never wrote how nice it was to go to my mother’s Rhubarb party on Tuesday. When I arrived, there were 11 cars besides hers, already there. Mom has such an interesting group of friends, and some of the ladies she has known at least socially since we arrived in Michigan around 1962.

It is wonderful to see Mom as the social organizer. I remember that when my father died almost 30 years ago, she really didn’t have any friends to talk to. She knew a good number of women at work and in certain circles, but she was very alone. Now I watch her, and she creates community wherever she goes. If she likes folks, she invites them all. She figures that if she likes them, they will like one another. She is right.

The food was good, but that was just an excuse. The first harvest of the year is pretty exciting although not everyone likes the strong flavor of rhubarb. The real reason is to harvest, in so many words, friends. All together in one house. A table full in the dining room, a table full in the kitchen, and a table full in the living room! Go mom!

Ice Cream Dessert from Altu's RestaurantRain, Rain, Rain
Well, it was summerlike yesterday but today it was pure, unadulterated spring. I saw two downpours today. For the first, I was in my car and ready to run into the grocery. I decided to just wait in the car and knit until it let up a bit. I was on my way to a client and didn’t want to arrive soaking wet with rain! I enjoyed the little bit of knitting I did, and then went in and got my food.

It had been a hot and humid day… then it got cooler with the rain but still sticky with moisture. I went into the grocery and got a pint of chocolate-almond soy ice cream for lunch (every once in a while it is good to treat the three-year-old who lives inside me or she takes over my life). I asked at the checkout if they had any spoons. The cashier ran to the back break room to see, and returned with a knife. OK, fine, better than fingers with chocolate, I think.

So I sat in the car with the fan on, and ate the chocolate dessert with a knife. Now, mind you… I’m sort of fussy about table manners. Sometimes I get *really* fussy. But just for a few minutes today I was a little kid enjoying the early summer by eating chocolate-almond ice cream for lunch… in the car, with a knife.

Too funny, really. I don’t think anyone even noticed me, but it felt a bit freeing or something. I couldn’t have done that if I had someone with me. It was a gift at that moment to let go to the experience. (Picture is an Ice Cream dessert from my friend Altu’s restaurant.)

The Since-September Sweater
I have not had much knitting time in the last two days because of work (yippee, work is a very good thing). However, today I had to go to the allergist and sit there for 20 minutes to make sure I didn’t have a reaction to my shot.

I really enjoy that 20 minutes. I always try to take something to knit that takes a little more concentration than my waiting-in-line socks. I had ripped out the collar of the Since-September Sweater the other night. I took the sweater with me and plotted out the new neckline (the first neckline was far too wide and not at all deep enough in the front).

I plotted the neckline and then tonight I knit it while reading my emails (I didn’t get too many replies out this time, I was busy knitting). I just bound off a little while ago and tried on the sweater. I think this will probably work just fine. The sleeves are the right length, the body is the right length and although it used to really stick out in back like a duck’s behind, now it is loose at the bottom but pulled in a bit more with the extra seed stitch I added over a month ago. I put the shoulder pads in and stood in front of the mirror.

This sweater is not a glamorous garment in the least, but the point of it was to have something REALLY WARM for when we go camping at music festivals. We go to something called Wheatland Music Festival every year, which is the week after Labor Day. It is often cold at night and I can’t tell you how many years Brian has given up his coat to help me keep warm. This year I will have this lovely sweater… which I started the week before Wheatland last year!

I still have a lot of ends to work in, and since I did not do any shaping for the neck but instead picked up stitches in the middle of the sweater fabric, I will have to figure out how to secure the stitches inside the collar so that I can cut the excess neckline fabric out of the way. I didn’t have any misgivings about cutting open sleeve steeks but the collar thing is a bit more scary. I’ll get over it! I’m planning to take this sweater to the Knit in at Borders in Arborland (Ann Arbor) next Tuesday. I’m ready to celebrate this garment! There will be pictures but only when it is really done.


Wednesday, May 28th, 2003

Green, Sunny and Warm
It is amazing, this long weekend it was in the lower 60’s (F) for the whole time, and then today and yesterday it got up to 77 or higher. Today, driving around Lansing doing numerous errands (mostly for a computer client, which made me very happy), it was so beautiful you could have imagined it to be a month from now.

Lunch with Brian
I lucked out, because just as I had finished an errand I was driving down Saginaw Avenue (an important main road), and I saw Brian walking to lunch. I stopped my car and we ended up having a delightful Thai meal at Bangkok House. I had Pad Siew (boy do I hope I can spell these words) which is fat noodles with broccoli and eggs and your choice of which meat (or tofu) you want. I got the tofu (I never did like meat) and it was extremely good.

The sauce was dark and rich and a bit sweet, and I was in heaven. I also was in heaven because I knew that I must be eating at least a few ingredients that used to make me very ill but now I can very occasionally have those foods. Let me tell you: this was the right meal to splurge with!!! Brian had something with a curried coconut-milk sauce and he said it was very good.

More Bragging: CityKidz
Today at Foster Center, we had CityKidz Knit! again. Luann came to help out, bless her heart. The kids had been knitting up a storm (we missed Monday for the holiday so they had extra home-knitting time). One girl finished her second backpack and started a third. She has many friends asking her to knit backpacks for her, and so she has decided to charge a small fee for the knitting. She knows that is a good deal. However she points out that they are, after all, friends.

She used I-cord on this second backpack, she had not done that before. Apparently she enjoyed it , because not only did she make straps of I-cord, she made the tie to close up the pack out of I-cord, and she even made a little loop so she could hang her key chain from it. Clever girl. She also made several tassels to decorate the flap and the ends of the ties. I taught them how to make tassels just about a week ago to finish off a hat from Melanie Falick’s “Kids Knitting” book. I’m delighted that she seems to really be able to figure things out on her own, and is not afraid to try.

One boy continues to knit little tiny squares, five stitches wide. He wants to knit six of these (he has perhaps finished four already) so that he can make a cube. This is a project he made up himself. I guess in the end he is wondering if he can make dice from yarn. I intend to do my part to help him discover how to do this, whether they work well as anything beyond decoration or not.

I showed off my stole to the kids and they were duly impressed (gotta love the enthusiasm of a child, or a group of children). I didn’t get any knitting done while the kids (nine of them) were knitting, but it was a very peaceful scene. I didn’t have any new knitters today so they sat and plugged away, with occasional questions.

Several of the kids are going on a long vacation for a week, and so I made sure they had enough yarn to knit a long scarf while they were gone. A scarf seems to be the favored long-weekend project, and that is fine with me. Today purple was the color of choice for several girls.

Peace and Quiet
After all the running around today I enjoyed a quiet night with a little bit of spinning. I am now finishing up the last of the superwash merino roving in spring green, turquoise, white and small bits of forest green. It is just plain gorgeous. (It is not very lumpy bumpy… I’m pleased with how I am spinning this slippery stuff on the new wheel.) I am not fond of plying yarn, but that will be the next step. I will do fine, I’m sure. Someday this 8oz of superwash will be socks. Wish me well!

Slow Plugging on Sweater
Oh, last night I ripped out the collar of the Since-September sweater, and then I bound off about 5 more stitches on either side on the shoulder seams. I will redetermine the shape of the collar by going down at least 3″ from the front, and pick up stitches and knit that collar again. That is, when I get the courage to try something new without a pattern. Some days I can dive in without doubt, and some days I just can’t try something new.

My Lumpy-Bumpy Yarn

Tuesday, May 27th, 2003

yarns used in stoleHi, everyone! My goodness, you all must be back home from vacation (at least in the US) because I got 6 emails this morning about my weekend project. I wish I didn’t really care about comments, but I just *love* it when people write to me. (Conversely, when I go a while without comments I worry.) I think Annie Modesitt was writing about this same issue not long ago.

Judy B. wrote asking a spinner’s question: what type of wool did I use in the stole? I used an Australian merino-cross top that I bought from Nancy McRay when I was preparing for my feltmaking show. I don’t think the top is on her website which is still geared toward weavers, but you can write her if you have questions.

The second strand was a mohair loopy boucle which was given to me by my friend Luann Udell. I met Luann through the eraser-carving online community, but we also have polymer clay and fiber in common. The yarn has been waiting for this stole for a long while, and I need to write Luann now to let her see the results of the project.

Here is a picture of the only yarn left from my first spinning sessions in October 2001. I dyed the fiber before spinning, with “egg shade” food coloring I bought at Gordon Food Service. It just didn’t work with the other colors I had for the stole, especially since there was very little of it (you are looking at nearly the whole batch right here). This yarn has not had the twist set, which would have relaxed a lot of the twisting you see in the thinner areas. Also when I set the twist I whop the skein around a bit and that felts the fatter parts so that they won’t pull apart. But at least with this “before” picture, you get a sense of what I was working with as a starting point.

Oh, several folks mentioned that the stole looks fine without fringe. I agree, and am delighted that I am done, done, done!!! It also allows me to use the remaining boucle yarn for another project. Sigh….

Off to a dessert at my mother’s house with her friends. She is celebrating the first rhubarb harvest. It should be good company and tasty food!

Lumpy-Bumpy-Loopy Stole Pictures!

Monday, May 26th, 2003

Stole before blockingYippee! Brian brought his computer home and now I can show you the results of my long-weekend project. The first picture here is the stole before washing and blocking. The garter stitch is quite pronounced and the stole is *very* long! At this point, the stole looked more like a winter scarf for someone much larger than me. Closeup of Stitch Pattern

The second picture is the stitch pattern (after blocking) as something of a closeup. Here you can see three of the four rows where I elongated the stitch by wrapping each stitch twice around the needle. It really shows off the lumpy-bumpy yarn very well.

The last picture Brian took of me wearing the stole. I am just delighted with how it looks. The blocking really helped not only the size of the stole, but it helped the stitches relax into their proper place. This made the drape of the stole go from springy to substantial-but-drapey. Notice how it drapes around my arm, more like fabric than a garter-stitch scarf.

LynnH wearing stole, photo by BrianI am still disappointed in how the computer screen shows the colors. The turquoises are a little greener than shown, and the dark green is really a very lovely emerald blue-green with areas that are a little lighter, sort of kelly green. And toward the cream-colored edge is not yellow, but a lime green. Three packages of Lemonade Kool-Aid to one package of Lime, if I remember right! It is bright, but definitely more green than yellow (lemonade yellow is very pale). There are three variations on turquoise, which I like, and just a small touch of cobalt/fuschia in the center, not even a full row of that color. You can see it around my shoulders but not at the edge.

I just love this piece! I tend to freeze all summer with the air conditioning, and this stole will be perfect to protect me and yet look a little more elegant than wearing a sweater.

What a journey I had, and what a reward to have it work out so well! Thanks for being here with me for the ride!

OK, a Crummy Scan

Monday, May 26th, 2003

scan of stole before blockingWell, I realized that I did have one image on my PC. I figure you deserve something while waiting.

(Funny me, thinking that you guys are out there waiting for my pics as if you have nothing else to do. I’ve been home on my 3-day weekend but others have been out socializing or gardening and not sitting stuck to their computers. I wrote so much this weekend some folks may give up before reading it all!!!)

Before blocking it, I put the stole right on my scanner and took this image. Unfortunately, the scanner uses the .TIFF format and something with as many subtle gradations of color as this really would be better with a .JPG (the format a digital camera takes). I could go into a geeky explanation about why one is better than the other for different types of images, but this is not computer class, it is art-blog time.

That is just to explain why the picture has the most horrible depiction of color I could provide. The gorgeous, deep emerald green scanned as avocado although I have color-corrected a little. The top color looks like yellow but really it is lime green. And so on… The ColorJoy Grrl is less than joyful about these particular colors…

But it does show the stitch pattern and the way the colors worked across the stole. It is mostly garter stitch or garter with an extended stitch by wrapping the needle twice on four rows. The first and last two rows were done in two strands of mohair boucle yarn, then it went to one strand of my handspun and one strand mohair. The mohair doesn’t look quite as brash in contrast when you see it in person, in my opinion. I sharpened up the picture so you could see the stitches but that over-sharpened the cream yarn.

Stole Transformation

Monday, May 26th, 2003

Well, what an adventure this handspun stole has become! This morning I bound off the rest of the stitches and worked in what felt like a zillion ends (all but 2 were the mohair boucle, as I joined the handspun to itself as I knit along). I took a picture of the waay-long and almost-too-skinny stole, draped over a chair on my porch. You have to just believe me, as Brian went to work to do some work on their computers when nobody was using them… and he took his laptop with him, which is currently holding the gizmo I need to get the pics out of the camera and onto my computer. Whoops! At least I got the camera.

Then I washed the whole stole in my bathtub in warm water and Eucalan. It sure needed it, because the mohair boucle was spun before it was completely clean.

I personally do not understand how anyone can enjoy working with unclean fibers… some people spin with fiber “in the grease.” “Grease” is a nice way to say lanolin, and dirt, and grass/alfalfa, and other nasty smelly stuff. Ugh. I can’t even be in the room with a fleece until it has been washed, and some yarns still smell enough like an animal to be a problem for me.

This mohair was in the itchy-eyes department but I knew it was a short project so I just plowed ahead. I could not have tolerated the wait it would have taken to wash and dry the yarn before starting the stole! My inner preschooler wanted the stole NOW! That kid gets me in trouble more often than I care to admit.

So… I washed the stole which desperately needed to be washed. I spun the water out using my washing machine. I put three towels on the kitchen floor and then I stretched the stole like crazy with my hands, to expose the lovely extended stitches and textures of the fabric I had knit, as well as to shorten and widen the item. I think it will drape much better after the blocking.

I could not pin the stole into an exact rectangle but it actually is sitting still pretty well. I just wish I could stand there and make it dry faster. Maybe a fan on the floor would help a bit, hmmm…. I’m so impatient.

The interesting thing is the transformation of the measurements. Remember, I did a 10 by 6-or-so inch swatch and measured like crazy. Using the swatch information, I cast on 130 stitches which I thought would create 34 rows which would be 60 x 16.5 inches.

Then I knit the thing, and actually ended up with 41 rows, an extra seven rows wider than expected. However, even with the extra width, it was 70 by 12. So long I couldn’t make fringe if I wanted it (I don’t care, but I’ll do fringe if it makes the thing look better).

Then I blocked the thing. Incredible! Now it is (get this): 55 x 18. I’m actually delighted with how the fabric looks this wide, so I’m re-considering fringe. I will not make fringe if it will look OK without it, but I can not know for sure until it is dry and I can try the thing on. Oh, the agony of waiting!

I will put up pictures as soon as Brian gets back with the gizmo I need to process the photos.

My Stole: Big Progress

Monday, May 26th, 2003

(This looks posted on Monday but really it is just a very late extended-Sunday.)

Well, I knit like a fiend today. Actually, I went to bed last night at 2:30am and couldn’t sleep, thinking about the stole. I woke up dreaming I was knitting and started in almost right away, after a wonderful breakfast with Brian. (Now it’s 2:30am all over again, and I hope I sleep better now that the knitting is nearly done.)

My plan, based on my swatch, was to cast on 130 stitches and knit until the yarn was gone. I expected it to be 60 inches long and 16.5 inches wide. It is now 70 inches long and 12 inches wide. I had 41 rows instead of the expected 34, so that was excellent, but gravity definitely took over and worked with knitting’s tendency to stretch. The good thing is that once it got off the circular needle, it actually does look lovely.

I started out planning garter stitch throughout. Then after I’d knit perhaps 15 rows, I realized that it would look even better if I had bigger needles (I was using size 13 US, huge and any bigger would hurt my wrists for sure). So I remembered seeing Jane, our guild president, knit something last weekend that required wrapping the yarn around the needle twice for one stitch, creating an elongated and somewhat lacy row. I figured that if I didn’t like it, I could rip it out. It looked fine.

So I ended up with four rows in the 41 where I did the elongated stitch… wherever I had enough of one color that it would make 5 or 6 rows. It shows off the lumpy-bumpy texture very well.

I had not expected to need to block this thing, but now I’m convinced I will. Right now it looks like a huge scarf, and it is pretty enough that way. However, I think that a) blocking will make it wider and perhaps less long, both good ideas; b) blocking will really show off the elongated stitch pattern; and c) the stole may actually drape better if blocked so that it’s actually a flatter, thinner fabric (since garter stitch is typically a thick and spongy fabric).

The big challenge will be to figure out *how* to block something this long. I can get most of the length flat on my dyeing table in the basement studio, but I have nothing I can use to pin the stole to. I may have to wait to block it until I can get to JoAnn Fabrics and buy one of those cardboard cutting boards for sewing. I used to have one but since I don’t sew anymore it got tossed when I moved about four years ago.

I don’t want to have to wait to block this until Tuesday (when I can get to the store). Any suggestions would be more than welcome at this point!

Right now I have bound off half the stitches. I will bind off the rest after sleeping some, because I measured my yarn wrong and I ran out of binding off yarn halfway through. I don’t know if I will rip it all out and re-bind off or if I will try to figure out a good way to attach new yarn in the middle of a binding off process. It’s too late for good decisions at this point.

I had expected to make fringe on the ends of the stole but if I did that now, I might conceivably trip on it! Skipping the fringe will save me some yarn and some time, so I’m not upset. I may do something with a crochet hook to put some of the boucle on the two ends where I had planned on the fringe, or maybe I’ll decide it looks fine plain. Plain is not far from my style, as I generally don’t go for frills and embellishments except when I’m dancing.

The colors really do look lovely together. And the texture looks good. I’ll take some pictures Monday, when it’s actually bound off… the “before blocking” look. Seeya Monday!

A Wonderful Quote

Sunday, May 25th, 2003

I took the time to read the rest of “The Knitting Sutra” by Susan Gordon Lydon Saturday night. It has been perhaps 5 months since I read the first half of the book. It is a fascinating set of stories about the spiritual nature of knitting, with many examples from the author’s life. I am enjoying it.

It is too bad that I usually do not “allow” myself to read for pleasure unless I am ill or on vacation. I sort of feel on vacation, as this was my first Saturday off (other than weeks I have been out of town) in a while, and I will now have Saturdays off until September. This means a decreased income by a small bit, but when we start summer program in mid-June my hours will increase again.

I decided to stay home from the dance trip to Dearborn (we would have left at 8pm and come home significantly after midnight, and I didn’t feel up to that much excitement when staying home would be such a pleasant way to pass time). I really enjoy the quiet of being alone in this house. I woke up after Brian had gone to work and he came home for maybe 15 minutes before he went out again.

He went with his friend Dorsey to play banjo at a musician’s gathering in town. I could have gone with them, and I do enjoy Dorsey’s company. However, the music played at the gathering is not a style I know well so it’s a strain to play the right chords there. When I go, I get to sing “Tennessee Waltz” which goes over big, but one song in several hours wasn’t enough reward for me.

So instead of a social adventure, I chose silence in my home and some reading time, which is a pure luxury. And planning the handspun stole, as well. I am delighted for the gift of solitude, for the “day off.” It is so rare for me to have a whole day, and this weekend I get three in a row. Sigh…

Here is a quote from one of the last chapters in the book: “…the purpose of the craft is not so much to make beautiful things as it is to become beautiful inside while you are making those things.”

My Holiday Project

Sunday, May 25th, 2003

swatch of LynnH's first handspun yarns from 2001I have been swatching my very first handspun, that I spun in October 2001. I want to make a stole where I work the handspun with at least one other yarn. I will use that extra yarn alone for fringe to make the stole appear a big larger, since I have only 214 yards of the handspun.

This is typical learning-spinner yarn. It has a lot of fat spots with some slightly overspun thin parts between them. I made it in the first 2 weeks I had my wheel. I sort of like it, it’s a bit like an affordable version of Colinette Point 5 yarn, and actually after I set the twist last night it has relaxed a bit and seems not too overspun to knit. Someone on my spinning list suggested plying it even after setting the twist but I really do like it this lumpy-bumpy and it seems just great in the swatch so I’m going to pass on the plying this time. My favorite yarns are often single-ply yarns, so maybe I’m biased.

I dyed the wool for my feltmaking project mentioned yesterday, with Kool-Aid and food coloring. I love the intensity of these colors, and I really adore the turquoise (no surprise). Unfortunately, the web is particularly bad at rendering turquoises on screen, but here’s my swatch. The top is cobalt/fuschia, the middle is a dark turquoise and the bottom a pale turquoise (not baby blue as it appears on my screen). I think the colors flow quite nicely from one to another.

The right half of the swatch was knit with one strand of handspun and one strand of loopy mohair boucle. The bottom-left quarter was knit with one strand of handspun and two strands of boucle. The top-left quarter was knit with one strand handspun, one of boucle, and one very fine strand of brushed mohair. I like the right side much better, it shows the colors more clearly and has a little better drape. Lucky me, because knitting with three strands is no fun at all.

I’m knitting this on the largest circular needles I have, some nylon circs that I think are size 13 US. I like the nylon needles a lot, but the cable is like a spring and gets in my way somewhat.

I’m going to a party tomorrow and this will be my “brainless knitting” for that. I could make some serious progress, we’ll see. Crossing fingers, anyway. The sox will all wait. Sox work better in my bag for errands but sitting fairly still at a party allows something a little bigger.

Festive Fibers

Saturday, May 24th, 2003

Check out the felt-upholstered ottomans on this site! http://www.festivefibers.com/. It is a riot of color and the workmanship is excellent.

My Spinning Mind

Saturday, May 24th, 2003

LynnH displaying felt piece she and her mother created togetherI have been staring at the full bobbin on my Louet now for two days. I am not sure what I will want to do with it, whether I want to ply it with something, and if so, what. If I want to ply it, the next bobbin should be full of that something. I’m a bit stuck with all the wondering and the possibilities.

So of course that means I started another project. Or rather started finishing one I initially started on in October 2001. I took the first yarns I made on my Ashford wheel (before it was adjusted, so the twist varies greatly from big fluff to small overtwist) and connected one to another in a rainbow gradation of color. (That is, lime to emerald, to varying turquoises, to bright teal, to purple mixed with cobalt, back to teal, turquoise, emerald and lime. I wound this larger skein onto my niddy-noddy and then set the twist on the whole kit and caboodle. It’s drying right now.

It is very imperfect but I love it. The colors were all (except the purple) made with Kool-Aid drink mix or food coloring. I dyed the wool initially for a feltmaking project I did, The Fabric of Friendship in August of 2001. (See picture of me holding felt piece my mother and I created together.) This was my first excursion into dyeing wool, when I did not yet own a stockpot to use for commercial dyes. It was over 90 degrees the week I dyed the wool in my very hot kitchen, and yet I was more interested in the magic of dyeing the wool with Kool-Aid than how hot it was.

Have you ever dyed animal fibers? It is almost magic. You add together wool and dye (and sometimes a few other things such as detergent and/or vinegar), and leave it in some sort of heating process for a while, usually between 30 minutes and overnight. When you return to the pot, all the color has attached itself to the wool, and the water it was soaking in is clear. This is called exhausting the dye, and I am quite in love with the idea.

Anyway, I did the feltmaking project (which used a LOT of wool) and then still had piles and piles of loose wool rovings, dyed in many colors. So when I got my wheel in October, I tried out the wheel with those fibers. I’m told it’s harder to start spinning with combed fibers called top, which is what I had. Some people use fibers that are crossed every which way (carded rather than combed) and they find this easier to spin. Of course, since I started with combed fibers, I find them easiest for the most part.

My Ashford wheel was missing a piece when I got it, but I did not know it. The wheel functioned, but it would not adjust well. This meant I got designer yarn, thick/thin yarn with undertwist in places and slightly overtwisted other places. Two weeks after I got the wheel, I took a class for 4 hours at Old Mill Yarns in Eaton Rapids, and I was off and running. (While I was there, Linda found me a part for my wheel and adjusted it for me.) And my yarn was vastly better from that point. But I’m still in love with the first enthusiastic Kool-Aid dyed yarns I made in those first two weeks.

I set the twist tonight (Friday) and wound off a huge ball of loopy off-white mohair boucle yarn I was given by my friend Luann Udell of Durable Goods. I am going to knit one strand of artful early yarn and one strand of loopy mohair, together as one, and make a rectangular stole. I think the mohair will echo the loopy overtwisted parts of the early yarn, and also camoflauge some of the imperfections just a bit.

I am still working out details on this project, because I only have 214 yards of the artful colored stuff. I think I will make the stole rectangular and then add fringe made of just the mohair boucle, since I have at least 300 yards of that. Now to figure out what needle size, what stitch pattern (probably garter or seed stitch to show off the yarns) and how many stitches to cast on. I will cast on the long side, I will enjoy the color changes more that way.

I have two other stoles in my head… more brainless knitting for Foster Center computer labs. Right now I have my Peace Fleece rug there, 2/3 done. I can’t knit on that very long though, because I’m allergic to something about the yarn. The mohair I’m working with today also seems to be sort of animal-smelling a tiny bit, so I’m crossing fingers I can knit with it for longer before my eyes get scratchy. Typically after I wash these semi-processed yarns, I am just fine. It’s just finishing the object that is the challenge. Since I don’t sit totally still at Foster while knitting, it is sort of the perfect place for this sort of yarn.

I did rip out Brian’s Regia Stretch socks back to the gusset pick up this morning (Friday) while waiting at the doctor’s office. I knit on them at Foster a little and the auto body shop, and at dinner at Altu’s. (It was her younger daughter’s birthday today.) It was busy there, which was a wonderful bit of news. Usually they are dead slow on long weekends. They are closing up Saturday so that she and Charles can take a long weekend like many others. They might as well, since three-day weekends typically bring minimal business. It’s a big treat for a small-business owner to get a weekend of that type. I’m happy for her.

I now have regained the knitting I ripped this morning (Friday), and even with much smaller needles I am past the gusset decreases now. I am fascinated with this yarn, it is so very different from other sockyarns. I wish I liked the colorway more (it has a lot of gray and a good smattering of brown) but I think Brian will wear them because of the green that is in it (plus the solid green yarn which I also chose for rib, heel and toe).

I’m contemplating either a road trip tomorrow (Saturday) or a dyeing day. If I don’t dye tomorrow I’ll go down and play with the wool and colors on Sunday for sure. Tomorrow night I might go to Dearborn and watch a friend dance at one of the Lebanese clubs there. A bunch of us thought we’d go (from Habibi Dancers) so if it all comes together, it could be a very good time.

I was up until 3:30am last night and got only 5 hours of sleep plus a nap. I am used to getting a full night’s sleep. Time to crash so I don’t get sick. Goodnight!

Weather, and Socks

Friday, May 23rd, 2003

It is 52 degrees F today. I’m so cold I’m wearing wool sox, wool legwarmers, a long mohair sweater and a wool hat, indoors. I’m tired of being cold. Last Saturday I enjoyed the warmer weather (lower 70’s) but now it has been days under 65 and I’m sooo tired of trying to keep myself comfortable. (End of rant.)

I am still knitting the stretch Regia sox I started for Brian on Saturday when I left all my other current knitting at work for the weekend. I just finished the gusset decreases, but I may have to rip out back to where the gussets start again. My gauge loosened up on the foot, just where I often switch to a smaller needle for better wear (this time I didn’t switch needles). The foot is so loose, I’m not sure it will be comfortable. This yarn is so stretchy I think it needs to be something like 20% less than the foot size.

I think it’s hopeless. I have to repeat the part of a sock I like the least. I’ll get over it, and then Brian will want to wear these. Otherwise they will be these baggy things that wait until most of the laundry is in baskets waiting to be washed- like the cotton/wool pair I made him that neither one of us likes much.

For the record, Dawn Brocco did a review of this yarn (and several other stretch yarns) in the Summer Heels and Toes Gazette. She says that her swatch shrunk 9% in the length after washing but stayed the same in width. I am very glad for this information because I did not anticipate shrinking with a washable yarn that has this much nylon in it.