About Me ColorJoy Home Page Free Stuff About Me Contact Me
ColorJoy Home Page
ColorJoy Home The ColorJoy Blog Buy Patterns, Recipe Books, CDs Patterns Schedule & Potential Classes Recipes & Food Information The LynnH SockTour LynnH Polymer Clay The Fabulous Heftones - Lynn & Brian

Archive for August, 2003

Borders Ann Arbor Tuesday!

Monday, August 18th, 2003

Anyone out there want to meet at the Borders Books at Ann Arbor (Arborland, off hwy 23 at Washtenaw) tomorrow night? It starts about 7pm, show and tell 8pm, building closes at 11. You get a discount coupon for almost anything except magazines, just for coming.

Tony and I are planning to go. It’s a wonderful group.

Please join us.

A Few Pictures

Sunday, August 17th, 2003

Woven Art crew at Folk FestWell, this confirmed City-Grrl went camping at Michigan Fiber Festival for 5 days and did better than just survive. Thank goodness there was no rain! It was very hot, and though I typically like being hot when others complain, even I was warm this weekend. But I’ll take heat over mud any day, and I am happy about how things went, overall.

There is so much to say and I’m so tired, I don’t want to write the whole story tonight. I did get to take one class, which was called “Fun with Acid Dyeing” with Merike Saarniit. (Acid dyes are the type used to dye wool and other protein/animal fibers, they are very mild acid similar to Easter egg dye with a little vinegar.) I enjoyed that class very much. Merike is passionate about color, as I am, and she has been a professional dyer for a very long time. It was wonderful to be there in her class.

Allegan is a quaint town, and I got some pictures of the town itself which I’ll post later. I also found many fiber friends, either folks from guilds or online. I had hoped to make a good handful of new friends/acquaintances but that did not happen the way I thought it might. I was alone Wednesday and Thursday nights, knitting alone in the dark with no chatting buddy. However, all in all it was good fun and I’ll do it again, although maybe not all 5 days.

Here are three pictures for your delight: First, a belated picture of the Woven Art Entrance to Allegan Fairgroundspeople on a 2nd floor balcony overlooking the Great Lakes Folk Fest dance tent, last weekend. Such a great photo! From left to right, back row, Gary and Nancy McRay. Front row: Ryan Buck; Kathryn and Kristin (two of Nancy’s three daughters, aren’t they just lovely to look at? And they are smart young ladies as well).

The next photo is the entry to the Allegan Fairgrounds where the Michigan Fiber Festival was held. It’s so classic American, the huge fiberglass chicken! I wonder what year that was put up there, and if it was there originally. The fairgrounds are clearly well-used and have been there a good long time and some things quite worn with age. However, this entry is wonderful architecture of an age I can’t determine (early 1950’s perhaps?)

LynnH's Campsite at Fiber FestThe last picture today is my campsite at the fairgrounds. You can see the footbridge behind my little tent. That bridge went over a pond with manmade “waterfall” and gardens. I had running water as a background sound and I enjoyed that. The buildings in the background there are the vendor buildings and other buildings which held workshops plus the competitions such as fleece competition and handspun skein competition.

More pics and stories tomorrow! Goodnight.

Off to Michigan Fiber Festival ’till Sunday

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

LynnH's Schwinn Suburban bicycleWell, I have been changing my mind and waffling and not committing, but I’m going to the Michigan Fiber Festival tomorrow/Wednesday, in Allegan, Michigan (in the southwestern area of our state, not very far from Lake Michigan if I’m not mistaken). I’m leaving earlier than I usually wake up, and I will plan to stay until Sunday. If camping gets me down, I may come home earlier (predictions are for temperatures in the mid- to upper-eighties Farenheit all weekend but possible thunderstorms on Sunday).

I have never camped alone. I have done many road trips alone, slept in my car when it was safer than driving tired, slept on many folks’ floors or sofas, stayed in guest houses and discount hotels and a youth hostel. I have gone to New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco and more. Alone. Because I want to go, and because in many cases, going alone means I do exactly what pleases me without giving up boundaries.

Brian and I do travel well together, but when it comes to a fiber festival, what would keep him happy? I’m sure I’ll know people when I get there. I have met a few of the instructors of some workshops, and I also know that my friend Sue who is a partner in the yarn store in Marshall, Michigan, will have a booth. So if I need a friendly face to hang out with, I’ll find one or two.

But, camping! Well, that is not my cup of tea. I don’t like dirt, my allergies make me a poor sport outdoors (I can get monster headaches so I’m doing my best to plan ahead for my health). I don’t enjoy baking in the sun although I love sunny days if I can sit in the shade. I don’t enjoy the physical work of setting up camp, but at least in the last 7 years I’ve learned some tricks from Brian in that regard.

I didn’t camp from about 1975 until after I was divorced over 10 years ago when I went on a group trip once with some friends. Since I met Brian we have gone to some music festivals, particularly Wheatland. At the music festivals we can buy food, though. This trip I’m planning to take food for the most part, as I’m pretty sure I can’t buy food that I can eat and be healthy.

I’m a little anxious, but I get anxious before any important trip. I’m a lot excited. I have no idea what yarn I should bring, what fiber to spin. I’m bringing a lot of knitting needles, some crochet hooks, and my spinning wheel. I’m going to let the knitting machine sit aside until I get my manual in the mail from Canada, whenever that is.

I will have fun no matter what I do. I’m going cold turkey on the computer, I think. I can’t imagine how I could get online even with this laptop, and I hate worrying about it in the car baking in the sun or lugging it around. In addition, my digital camera holds only 32 images in its current configuration, and I can’t see buying a smart card when I’m already spending money on a vacation trip. So I’ll do what I can to get a few nice shots and just enjoy myself.

I am not signed up for any workshops so I’ll see what I can get into when I get there. There is a class on freeform knitting (which involves some crochet as well, if I understand right) by Traci Bunkers (Bonkers Fiber) which sounds good, and I would LOVE to get in an acid dyeing workshop with Merike Saarniit (Liisu Yarns) if at all possible. She’s doing two full-day workshops and I’m going to cross fingers I get in one. I also would enjoy a felting class by Jill Gully (Outback Fibers), but I think my limit is two classes so we’ll see what I get.

For my farewell picture, I offer (finally) a shot of my wonderful “new” bicycle. It is a Schwinn Suburban (which currently has a flat tube but that is easy to fix when I get time). I think it is approximately a 1971 bike. It is a “girls” bike with a lowered bar, and it has 5 speeds. It has front and back lights that are powered by a little generator that runs off the tire itself, if I choose to use it. It has a very nice shelf on the back for carrying bags of tortillas home from La Perla. It looks shiny in this picture because I’ve worked at shining up the chrome… on this side. The other side of the bike still has surface rust I need to work on… in my “spare time!”

You can’t really see it well, but the bike is in front of the only real garden we have in our yard. It contains a half dozen or more hostas of several types, two red-leafed coral bells, one very wonderful plant with coral and green arrowhead-shaped leaves whose name I do not know, and a large container with coral and white impatiens and some green plants… directly behind the front tire.

We have other flowering plants and bushes, and a few herbs growing around the yard, but they are mostly inherited plants that came with the house. I love gardens, but not the time they take. I did spend 2 days in the last week or so, pruning out dead vines from our abundant climbing roses. We have them on three different walls of the house and garage, and they just take over! When they bloom, you can see the bright fuschia-red flowers for blocks.

I will look forward to reporting how the trip went, when I return. Have a grand week. I’ll post on Sunday or Monday.

Folk Festival Pictures

Monday, August 11th, 2003

Here are the long-awaited pictures of just a few highlights of the Great Lakes Folk Festival.

The first three pictures are of Stella Chiweshe, who plays an instrument we call Thumb Piano but she has another name for it. I read a little article on this, and in Zimbabwe where she is from, this instrument used to only be played by men. Not only that, for a number of years it was illegal to play this instrument at all. So it is a gift to the world, that her wonderful music has come to us, in of all places, East Lansing, Michigan. I loved the music.

The first picture is Stella with two of the three members of her band. The second was taken after she got off stage. She was showing her instrument to an interested bystander, and smiling as she explained. Her presence is very calming and grounded, at least to me. I was happy to stand that close to her, even though we did not speak.

The third photo is one of her musicians dancing to one of her pieces. He was great. I just wish he had danced longer. However, he was in transit from one instrument to a drum set at the back of the stage. She needed him to play music rather than dance the whole time.

The next picture is of the young lady dancing the Kathak dance from North India. It is a dance that originated for telling stories, with religious significance. There are now some of the dances that are primarily for the beauty of dancing, but when she took time to explain the dance, much of it was about storytelling. The story to the one story dance I saw, was about Lord Krishna when he was a boy, and how he got into mischief but was caught. It was very enjoyable to see, both as a dance and as an excellent way to get a story across.

She was wearing clothing unique to India but not specific to the Kathak dance. However, can you see that she was wearing bells on her legs? She said she had 150 bells on each side. There is a lot of rhythmic work in this type of dance, and the bells show off that footwork even if you can’t see it very well. She says that as you get better at the dance, you add more and more bells until you have bells all the way to your knee. Her bells were at least 1/3 of the way there, and she was just a young thing. A very talented young thing, however!

The next photo shows Lare Williams’ band. Our friend, Ron McKeever, is the guitar player in the center. Lare is next on the right and the far right is Lare’s mom who is a fabulous singer.

We learned that Ron just won two second-place awards at a music gathering of some sort. He won 2nd place guitar, and 2nd place mandolin. He’s an amazing player. He must play music every waking moment when he can hold a guitar. I’m happy for him that he is getting recognition. He’s a sort of quiet guy but his guitar playing speaks for itself. It was great to see him play at the festival.

Next is Ralph Stanley’s band. They were on the big stage and it was dark. It was hard to get a picture, I hope you can see it. Ralph is in the middle with the gray shirt and white hat. Second from right was a very young man, maybe 7th grade, playing mandolin. Most of the time he was in the back row while the men were up front, but he did get to come up a few times and see the crowd. I don’t know what his relationship was to the band. He was young, but he clearly was keeping up with the tunes just fine.

The last three pictures were taken Saturday in the dance tent. Nick Villarreal (Tex Mex) was playing at the time. He sure could get that crowd out on the floor! We danced to his band again on Sunday as well.

I just loved that there were a lot of families out there. Anyone who wants to bemoan the state of the family, did not attend this event. See these two lovely toddlers. The little girl you saw yesterday. She stood still and clapped for a long while. The little boy was hard to get a picture of, I had to work hard at it. He was very happy running around in circles! Just adorable. They were having a wonderful time.

The last picture shows more family action. On the left is what looks like a daddy dancing with his young daughter. I wish the picture came out better but it was pretty dark at that point. On the right hand side you can see a mom. She had been holding one baby and had one or two younger kids she would dance with on the floor. Wonderful.

The one picture I tried to get was Robert and Meegan of Creole Gallery in old town. They were out there on the floor but try as I might, by the time my camera would flash, they were long gone!

Robert is the unofficial “Mayor of Old Town,” a man who asks you questions and then listens so intently you think you and he are the only people in the world when you answer. He is a very fine person I’m proud to know.

Meegan is such an enthusiastic person, I really enjoy her company. She does the musical bookings at Creole. We’ve been very lucky to open for two different events there in previous years: the Weepers and Uketopia (when Jim Bieloff came to town). Meegan and I got a chance to actually chat at the dance tent for a while between acts. So many people know her that sometimes it’s hard to get time to chat. I was glad to get that time.

This was an event that truly showed the best of my city. Lansing shone this weekend. We had a crowd that was mixed in every way: age, gender, race (well, we’re all the human race, right? but I saw every flavor of the rainbow… to mix metaphors), handicappers, conservative, pierced/tattooed, you name it: everyone was there. It was delightful.

If you didn’t make it to the festival, I’m so sorry. I did make sure I enjoyed it enough for all of us!

Wonderful, Marvelous Day!

Sunday, August 10th, 2003

mom encouraging baby to danceWhat a wonderful day! I slept in (hope I can do the same tomorrow) which started me out right. I’ve been so tired lately. When I try to write these blog entries I can see why I’m tired, I’m doing so much it doesn’t fit in one column! I need to start staying no, but I’m having so much fun it’s hard to imagine why… until I’m falling asleep at the keyboard writing you all.

I went to the Folk Festival again today. Saw, among other things, Stella Chiweshe from Zimbabwe on thumb piano. Fabulous, with excellent backup musicians. Listened to a few pieces by Tamburitza Rroma (“Gypsy” music, several guys playing what looked like small guitars but they played them like mandolins). Also visited Jacquie Vaughan in the folk tradition tent where she was spinning wool/silk yarn on her wheel, with son Terry in tow. We heard a little bit of Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz (excellent harmonies), and saw our friend Ron McKeever play with Lare Williams’ band (bluegrass).

We finished our music day by dancing a few pieces at the dance tent, to Nick Villarreal who we danced to last night. It was just the most lovely day one could have had. I have a tonload of pictures to process from the weekend and will put them together for you tomorrow. For now I’ll give you one: a mommy encouraging her toddler girl to dance. The girl was having fun, not moving her feet at all but clapping very contentedly. It was a beautiful scene.

Oh, in addition to the music I heard, I saw some dance. There was a young lady, I think she said she was 16 years old, performing a dance from Northern India, called Kathak. Just wonderful. Totally fabulous. I got a few pics of her, I hope they turned out.

After the Festival ended, I went to my Mother’s house for Working Women Artists. Mom did the program on food as art: Danish sandwiches. Gorgeous. Not only that, she made a special loaf of soda bread (raised by baking soda and lemon juice rather than yeast) so that I could have some sandwiches, too. Thanks, Mom! She sent me home with the rest of the loaf.

I don’t like to bake, so I’ve never made this bread for myself. Mom has done it for me several times. It’s great bread even if you can have other breads. I am so excited, because tonight when I got home I made toast with non-dairy margarine and lingonberry jam. Yum! I have not had toast in about 12 years. It was so fabulous it’s tempting to say that snack was the best thing I did today. However, it was such a wonderful day I can’t compare anything, all things I did were just wonderful.

After Working Women Artists, I took some of the artful open-faced Danish sandwiches to a “pickin’ party” (music jam session) that was thrown by Mike Cutler. Mike was the one who named our band “The Fabulous Heftones.” He works with Brian and knows how to throw an excellent party! He’s also a fabulous musician on several instruments, but lately it seems I see him playing mandolin most.

It was a fun party. I got to talk with Kathy, a music friend I seem to never see except at parties, but we talk a lot whenever we’re at the same gathering. It was her husband, Mark, who gave me the knitting machine last week. You see, in Lansing, every creative person is connected to every other creative person somehow!!!

OK, we’ll end with Mom’s Soda Bread recipe. She started with another recipe, but she has changed all but 2 ingredients so it is her recipe now! It’s crusty and chewy, a very satisfying food. Thank you, Mom.

Liz Troldahl’s Modern Soda Bread (not gluten-free)
3 cups white flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1-3/4 or 1-7/8 c water
with 2 Tbsp lemon juice added

Pre-heat your oven at 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together. Fluff the dry ingredients to introduce air. Add enough water/lemon juice combination to make soft dough (not all of 2 cups). (At this point work quickly before the bread stops rising.) Briefly knead the dough with a light hand.

Form a round loaf three or four inches high (a fist high). Place on floured baking sheet and cut a cross in the top (use a floured knife). Place in preheated oven without delay, on the top rack. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

To determine if it is baked well, turn over loaf and knock on the bottom as you would a melon or a door. It should sound hollow.

Remove from oven and wrap in a towel to keep from drying out the crust. When cooled off, slice and enjoy.

Looooong Day

Saturday, August 9th, 2003

I am sooo tired, I’m just going to report what I did but no details or pics yet.

Tony and I went to Spinners Flock this morning. We saw Carla (who I met last Saturday at crochet class), Mary S., Fran, Sue, Patty, and I’m sure a dozen more people I am not remembering hours later. It was good fun as usual. I picked up a good basic book on Machine Knitting which is very promising.

Brought Tony back in time for him to go to work, then I took a nap in the hammock. I’m so tired these days I had to get a nap or I was flirting with the possibility of illness. I actually started the day with a headache. Good thing this one responded to headache medicine, a rare surprise.

After my nap, I ran to the Great Lakes Folk Festival. Anyone in Lansing who isn’t going to this, all I can say is “why not?” It’s free, the food is great, the music is amazing, it’s a wonderful scene. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

I did help out Altu in her food booth for maybe an hour and a half or two hours. That made me feel good, I really wanted to help her. After that, Brian popped by and picked me up and we went to the dance tent. We danced a lot, to several bands, and we did take a half an hour to walk down to the main stage to hear Ralph Stanley, who is an icon in the field of Bluegrass music. Brian plays banjo and really loved hearing Ralph. Ralph mostly sang tonight, but we did hear him play one number on clawhammer banjo.

I got to my car at 11:15, after we closed down the dance tent (first we danced to Feufollet, a Louisiana dance band which is six fabulous musicians, all of them teenagers, then we danced to Nick Villarreal, a Tex/Mex musician with a tight band and a way of working the crowd… both bands had great vocal harmonies as well as great dance music).

I had thought perhaps I’d be able to get to Yarn for Ewe’s monthly Second-Saturday knit in, but this was just too late to even imagine it. They go late, often past 11, but this was too much. I’m wiped out from not enough sleep, anyway. I went home. Now I’m going to go sleep! Tomorrow is yet another day of Folk Festival and then Working Women Artists meets at my mom’s house to learn how to make food as art: Danish open-faced sandwiches. Should be a good day but another long one.

Good night!

Labyrinth Garden

Friday, August 8th, 2003

Healing Garden at SparrowToday I went for a routine visit to a doctor, and I took advantage of that time to visit the Sparrow Center for Health and Well-Being Healing Garden which has a labyrinth. This labyrinth is a maze-like path within a circle (click healing garden link to see aerial view), in a garden situated between the building holding doctors’ offices and the parking ramp. It is a wonderful peaceful space in the city, on Michigan Avenue about eleven blocks from the Capitol building.

Mind you, the parking ramp is perhaps the most serenity-disturbing place I drive on any regular basis in this city. They have accidents there too often, and you can’t even move from the gridlock right after lunch hour. Because of the proximity to the ramp, sometimes as you are in the healing garden, you can hear honking horns… but not frequently. It is sort of amazing they were able to create as peaceful a space as they have, given the piece of real estate they used for it.

I don’t know much about labyrinths, but apparently walking the path into and out of the circle, via a path about 1/3 mile long, is intended for a meditative and spiritual experience where the conscious self can be put on hold for a short while. I have walked this labyrinth twice, and it is indeed peaceful and calming to do it.

There were two bits of literature available to me there today. One was a slick and beautiful booklet in multiple colors of ink. This one speaks poetically of a need for a garden such as this, with wonderful quotations (I love collecting quotes). The other is a photocopied sheet telling how one might use the labyrinth for a personally meaning experience. That second piece says, in part:

The labyrinth is a simple path, a walking path used to quiet the mind. It is a path of reflection, contemplation, and clarity. It is symbolic of our spiritual journey our journey within, and our connection with the Divine. The eleven-circuit labyrinth dates back to the 12th century. Consisting of eleven concentric circles, it is a single path leading to the center and back out.

I was really happy to find that garden again today. I actually found it because I got off the elevator on the wrong floor. How lucky I was to make that small mistake!

Here is a quote out of the larger booklet:

…we started to lose that sort of time, pausing time, reflecting time, wondering time. * Life rushes us along and few people are strong enough to stop on their own. * Most often, something unforseen stops us, and it is only then we have time… To know our own story…
– Rachel Naomi Remen
, Kitchen Table Wisdom

I have been pushing like crazy, trying to do everything I want to do. Not wanting to say no even if it would mean better health. Wanting to push until all I want to do listens to what I want, and fits into a mere 24-hour day. I really needed a way to calm myself down.

After I left the garden and did my errands, Brian took me to the Folk Festival. It was wonderful. We danced together… not particularly gracefully, but when you are in love that matters very little. I enjoyed my time there immensely. We ran into so many people we know and love in the arts communities (dance, music and art), that I can’t possibly name them all without embarrassing myself by leaving someone out.

Tomorrow I go in the morning to Spinners’ Flock with Tony. We come back in mid-afternoon, and I will then go to the Folk Festival and probably help Altu and then close down the dance tent.

In the late evening, I could conceivably also go to the knit-in at Yarn for Ewe. However, if I’m realistic, I think that is not a smart move for someone doing too much already that day and who hasn’t had a full night’s sleep in over a week. I just hate to miss, it’s a great time.

Tonight at the Festival I got a second wind. So I will not make any decisions until tomorrow night.

On the Road

Thursday, August 7th, 2003

Road Trip to see Deborah
I spent today driving to and from Davison, Michigan (near Flint) to meet up with my friend Deborah Harowitz/Scarlet Zebra. We spent a little bit of time and a little bit of money at Elaine’s Yarn Shop (run by Marj rather than Elaine, go figure).

I got a couple turquoise yarns to go with the turquoise magical yarn (Pizzazz, three strands including shiny and eyelash) I bought at Knit a Round last Saturday. This will eventually become another stole I get to keep for myself. When I start that stole I will show pictures. For now I’m still finalizing the yarn decisions. (And I have yet another stole I am planning with a multi-strand yarn I got at Yarn for Ewe at last month’s knit in. That one is a mohair and shiny combination in cobalt blue, purple and teal).

After yarn squeezing and adopting, we went to a sort of Italian restaurant where both of us can eat, given both of us are on odd food restrictions. We have done this three times, now, and the benefit to this restaurant is they leave us alone for several hours, with half-knit projects and yarn and books all over the table. We sip tea and talk until we have to go home, or else.

It’s wonderful to have someone who just seems to understand the same sorts of lifestyle choices I’ve been making, the same artful choices before me, similar attitudes about many things. I am learning it is very important for me to hang out with other self-employed folks like Deb. And I met her online, as I have many other important people in my life (remember Vince?).

My Current Project
I’m still knitting the Yarn for Ewe stole. This one is going to be a winner, and I am keeping this one for myself.

One of the yarns I originally chose for this stole really made me unhappy (the Debbie Bliss DK Merino, which is wonderful for socks but looked too sweater-like for this frufru stole). I had to swap it out for another something, which turned out to be two strands of that closeout acrylic/wool turquoise yarn I got from In Sheeps Clothing, held together with one strand of a standard greenish-turquoise eyelash I had in my stash. I didn’t like unknitting all those rows to take out the sweater yarn, but now I’m sure not to make that mistake again (I tried sweater yarn in Mom’s stole early on and ripped that out as well).

So now the Yarn for Ewe stole has three eyelash yarns, and it is totally luxurious. It’s not too much at all, it just fills in the spaces with softness. Very nice, very colorful, very greenish-turquoise with many bits of color (lime and blue and soft fuschia). It still has 4 yarns from Yarn for Ewe, so I’m going to continue to call it my Yarn for Ewe stole. I’m telling you, I’m just falling in love with eyelash yarns!

In my distracted haste to knit the current stole, I did just knit two rows without knitting the last two stitches. Because of that, I cut off the yarn for fringe before I was really done. So now I get to unknit two rows (seems like I do this too much but otherwise it looks bad) and toss that yarn into a pile for use as sock trim. Then I get to reknit with a longer piece of yarn. Ugh. That’s what happens when you throw things in a bag for transport, and don’t check to see if you lost any stitches in transit!

Tony Visits Altus
Tony called last night and said he’d tried Altu’s restaurant for the first time. He picked a spicy dish which was maybe more spicy than he would have preferred, but enjoyed the experience and the atmosphere. He plans to return to try other dishes. He maybe should have tried one of the combination plates to get more choices, but hey, I wasn’t there to control his choices, was I???

I am disappointed Tony didn’t announce to Altu and Charles (Altu’s brother-in-law, who works with her) that he was my friend, but that’s his choice. I think he’s going to check out her booth at the Great Lakes Folk Festival this weekend, to try a few other dishes. I’ll be working in her booth quite a bit, I figure, if she needs me at all. (Festival starts tomorrow/Friday the 8th at 6pm, if you are in Lansing do not miss it. Festival goes through Sunday.) I will have to try to introduce Tony and Altu at the festival now.

Swallowtail Picture

Wednesday, August 6th, 2003

Swallowtail Butterfly at MSU Grass GardenI’m focusing on non-computer things today, including my garden. Therefore, today’s entry is a picture of the swallowtail butterfly that Tony spotted when we were at the MSU grass garden on Sunday.

I’ll catch you tomorrow!

CityKidz and Ann Arbor

Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

produce from MeredithToday was the last day of my Kids Kamp version of the CityKidz Knit! program. We will have one or two dates for knitting each week until school starts, but I probably won’t see most of my knitters for several weeks now. I sent them home with totebags, yarn and needles, and a calendar to let them know when I would be available. Sigh… Some of them are really starting to take off. One girl is nearly done with a hat. She has knit with me since last year but doesn’t often finish things. I think that she will actually finish this one.

Cindy from the Knitting Guild came to help. It was so great to have her there, as I ended up with a pretty large crowd, and it had three knitters who had only knit once or twice before. The more advanced girls needed a lot of attention and the newbies always need help every five stitches or so. It was great to have her help.

After work, Tony and I went to Borders. There were 32 of us there. I didn’t even think of taking a picture, which is too bad. There was a lot of great knitting there. And great talk and great fun. I got a few magazines for inspiration. I’m going to scan them for designs that might work on the knitting machine.

I actually found one knit dress in a pattern book (I got it from Spinners Flock for free last month) from about 1968, that would work great on the machine. It would take at least 18 ounces of yarn, though, and I don’t have that much of any one yarn type so I will pass on that idea for now. But a knit dress would be so very cool! One day, I’ll do it.

We got home pretty late, almost eleven. I thought I didn’t have to work until evening tomorrow but realized that my schedule was changed for the last week of Kids Kamp. I have to be there pretty darned soon… Time to sleep. See you all tomorrow.

[Picture is produce from the garden of my supervisor, Meredith, at JoAnn’s. She gave me all that wonderful food as a thank you for doing the sweater machine demo last week. I’m thrilled with all this gorgeous food: eggplant, zucchini, green beans, yellow summer squash, scallions and a purple bell pepper. I’m going to try to make roasted eggplant for dinner tomorrow night, wish me luck.]

A Blogger-Filled Weekend, Part Two

Monday, August 4th, 2003

Sunday’s PicKnit day was a blast! Tony and I got going a little slow, but he came by as I was starting to make my blackeyed pea salad, so he sliced up some fresh zucchini and I put some fresh dill in from my garden, and whatever else I could come up with, and then we went on our way.Crowd at PicKnit

My Own Knitting Machine
We detoured, though, on the way to the PicKnit. A music friend, Mark, was giving me a knitting machine for my very own self. Price? “You can’t bring it back.” I like that price. I guess the machine was left behind when someone moved out of his house years and years ago. I sure came out well on that deal! It turns out to be a Singer HK-100 which is similar to a Studio LK-100.

Sarah and RobNow, that means I’ve now joined the Machine Knitting email list at Yahoo. Like I need one more thing? Mark offered this thing to me maybe 9 months ago and I delayed, knowing it could take over my life. Well, now is the time, I guess!

Finally a Picnic!
Anyway, after we picked up my knitting machine, we went to Patriarche Park for the PicKnit. This is a very fine larger park in East Lansing. We met near the huge community-built playground so that those who brought kids could also enjoy a little chat between looking up to see if the kids were doing OK. We had a nice spot, and the weather cooperated. It looked like it wanted to rain, and I felt a few tiny drops once early in the day but nothing developed. In the end, we had sunshine which was a delight!

It was a good crowd. I hope I can remember everyone two days later… Sarah Peasley/Handknitter, Ann and Jessie, Tony, Me, Tracy/Sweatergirl, Debi/TrixieChick, Daphne SerialKnitter, Judith, and Marcia/PurlsB4Swine, who came from Grand Rapids. Rachel was there at the beginning but had to leave sooner than the rest of us. Later Terri joined us (I hope I spelled her name right, I can’t find her business card in the mess on my desk.)

Rob and Matt, Judith and TonyThere were all sorts of goodies! Tracy brought hotdogs and hamburgers, and was the chef for that course. Then there were some lovely snacks and salads and some beautiful green grapes (I ate more than my share of those), and the final course was S’Mores (toasted marshmallows and melted chocolate bar between graham crackers, for those of you outside the US). No picnic with any source of fire can end without S’mores (Some more’s, or I want some more), at least not if there are children around! Sarah Peasley’s hubby Ryan made sure the marshmallows toasted without incident. Then he kindly took the kids home and left Sarah to be kidless for a few hours with us. Cool dude.

Once we had a meal, we settled in to knit again. And then we had our big surprise! Rob/Black Dog and Matt/Crowing Ram showed up. With two dogs, a spinning wheel and a very large basket full of fat paper bags. They used to live here but moved to Indiana before I started up knitting this time around. I’ve corresponded with both of them numerous times on email, and Matt’s picture was on Knitty very recently at the end of his Sigma Tank pattern on Knitty.com (which I started and then stalled a few weeks ago) so I recognized his face instantly.

Marcia with Indulgence SkeinWell, the crowd was very happy to see their friends again! There were many exclamations and hugs going around for a good long while. Once all calmed down, we made sure they got some food and Matt settled in spinning a bit on his Ashford Traditional. One little boy from the picnic next to ours came over and stared for a long while, getting closer and closer before he finally asked what Matt was doing. He didn’t stick around too long but he had to figure out what that was!

Then we had a bit of the holiday spirit: Rob’s big basket contained a goodie bag for everyone in the crowd. We all got to pick out a bag. They either had yarn or pattern or some other knitting related gift. (Rob and Matt run an online shop called ThreadBear.) I got a pair of skeins of Meilenweit sockyarn Jacquard, with striipes of navy, grass green and orange. MSU Grass GardenThe colors are wonderful to look at, and different than what I normally wear.

They gave us a chance to trade in what we got for what was left in the basket, once everyone picked their first bag. However, I had to make up some reason to keep what I had, even though I won’t wear it myself. I have such fun knitting bright color combinations even if they don’t include my own favorites. I thought first I would knit for my Goddaughter Sara, who looks wonderful in orange, but she doesn’t like wool much. Brian likes the yarn, so he will get another pair of socks sometime thanks to Rob and Matt.

[Notice the picture of Marcia, who got the big prize of the day: two skeins of Cascade Indulgence, an extravagantly luxurious heavy worsted yarn. I think it’s alpaca and angora. I know it comes in colors I adore and I’ve fantasized about a hat made of it for over a year. Lucky grrl! I guess that made the trip from Grand Rapids worhthwhile.]

The MSU Grass Garden
I recently told Tony about the incredible Grass Garden at MSU, and we went right by there on the way home. We decided it was the right time to check it out, and I’m really glad we did.

Tony in MSU Grass GardenMy fiber-friend Marlene Cameron who taught me to dye wool, is married to Art Cameron, a professor of Horticulture at MSU. He designed this ambitious and wonderful large garden mostly planted with different types of ornamental grasses. There are a few other plants in there, mostly flowering plants, and it is just an amazing thing. I never imagined how many kinds of grass there might be. Every year in the winter they cut the grass down and it comes back up in the spring. This is a very good time to visit, but as different things flower at different times, it will be just beautiful until frost.

The garden is located at the turfgrass center, on the southeast corner of Mt. Hope Avenue and Farm Lane. If you are in the area, do check it out, it’s open to the public all hours. Don’t miss this!

Frog on Coneflower in Grass GardenThere is a Chinese grass there that grows 10 feet tall. Tony is 6 feet 2 inches tall and here he is dwarfed by that grass. Amazing, isn’t it???

On the way out, we stopped to look at the coneflowers and Tony spotted a Swallowtail butterfly. It was beautiful, and I got a few pictures of it. But as I got closer to take the pictures, Tony also noticed a tiny green tree frog sitting happily undisturbed on a coneflower. I think the frog picture turned out great!

It was the best of days.

Borders Tomorrow, Anyone?

Monday, August 4th, 2003

Wowie, tomorrow is the 1st Tuesday of the month. That means I’m heading to Ann Arbor’s Arborland Borders Books for a knit in. These fiber folks are so great, I really look forward to the event. (Actually, it’s for lovers of any fiber or needlework thing, not just knitting.) Last time all I bought was a cup o’tea, but the company was so good it was a perfect evening.

So who wants to join me? Anyone in Lansing want to car pool? Anyone new in driving distance from Ann Arbor want to meet up?

Pics of yesterday still to be posted today but I thought I would put this question out there as soon as I realized it was time to act and ask!

A Blogger-Filled Weekend, Part One

Sunday, August 3rd, 2003

Carla, Jillian, Amy and LynnHWow, I sure overpacked my weekend. It has been fabulous… though I really do need to start admitting that I need to get sleep at night! I seem to want to skip that essential part of a busy person’s life.

Crochet Class
Saturday morning I got up too early, and went to Ann Arbor to meet Carla, Jillian, and Amy, for a 90-minute crochet class. Sort of amusing, since the round trip is more like 130 minutes for me!

Definitely I was doing this as a social visit, since I can learn crochet from any number of sources, including books and Luann who helps me at Foster Center. Jean, who helped out last summer, tried to show me a double crochet last year but I didn’t retain it long. I need to perhaps do a full project from beginning to end from a pattern, to see if I can really retain the crochet lesson.

I think I prefer the smooth texture and stretchiness of knitting for most things. I just love knit fabric, whether handknit or purchased yard goods. But sometimes stretchy is not the right answer.

After reading Carla and Amy not liking the looks of crochet at all, I must say that I think I like it much better in Brown Sheep Lambs Pride single-ply yarn, than I did when all the crochet I ever saw was variegated acrylic in double-crochet. I don’t like double-crochet much, and surely do not like it in multicolored yarn as it was done when I was growing up. I will never like a granny square as long as I live.

However, I can see a wool crocheted rug as a wonderful thing, or a crocheted backpack. I think a *knit* backpack almost needs to be fulled/felted to be the right texture for carrying things like books. (This rug pattern Jillian found looks fun, but who would make a rug in alpaca??? It could cost more than the house payment!)

So I think crochet is a limited-use skill but I’m not convinced all uses of it are ugly. I will use crochet when knit just won’t work. I can imagine a coat might be more sturdy in crochet, for example. I’m trying to make up a crocheted beret right now… but I’m feeling that it looks too bumpy for my taste, even with fuzzy mohair. I do think that a rug is a cool idea.

And I like the rhythm of making crochet, as Amy mentioned. It seems hard on my wrist, but it feels calming to my insides to make the loops.

My favorite viewSomeone asked to see a picture of the crochet product I made in class. It’s a tiny strip about 2″ wide by maybe 9″ long, one row chain, one row single crochet, and about 3/4 of a row of double crochet. Nothing to write home about and not worth a picture here when there are other interesting things to show you… such as this picture of us, from left to right: Carla, Jillian, Amy, LynnH. Thanks to our teacher, Bonita, who took the picture for us. And thanks to her for being so patient, as well.

Sweater Machine Demo
I hit one-lane traffic in two places on the way back to Lansing for my USM demo, but my supervisor at JoAnn was very understanding. The demo went fine, I had a good time, and I made the body and bottom of a backpack. Now I get to figure out how to connect all these pieces and make handles and a drawstring, but hey… It’s looking pretty good.

As usual, I made up the pattern as I went. This can be very good or very bad depending on the day. We’ll see how well everything fits when I get that far. That’s one problem with machine knitting, the knitting takes so little time that the finishing takes a huge percentage of the whole project’s time investment. I don’t mind sewing needles much, but since I’m not a sweater knitter, I have to get friendly again with mattress stitch and other such moves.

Oh, one spectacular boo-boo: I asked Jillian in the morning what I should look out for, so that I would pull off the demo without a big hitch. She warned me that it is really important to get that very first stitch before working the row. I knew that (or I thought I did), so I thanked her and didn’t worry.

Temesgen Hussein at Altu's RestaurantLittle did I know! My demo went mostly without incident and I talked to interesting people. But at one point a man stood there sort of staring at my machine, not saying anything. I guess I got a little nervous (I don’t do well when people don’t communicate with words sometimes). So I smiled and said “I’m using a knitting machine!” And I ran that carriage from right to left with a smile on my face. But I didn’t catch the first stitch. And the carriage detatched all the stitches, one at a time, perfectly. And the knit fabric I had been creating, with its heavy weighted bar, went “CLUNK” on the floor. Just like that.

I must have had a paler face than usual, as I gained my composure. I told him, “well, that is what happens when I try to show off!” And I proceeded to slowly re-attach each stitch to the machine again, one at a time, by hand. Too funny, in retrospect.

Tiny Nap on Hammock
I got home in time to take a small nap on the hammock before Brian got home. I took a picture, this is my favorite view in Lansing! My feet, my hammock, my porch. The wind chimes, the trees across the road. And cardinals singing their wonderful songs. It’s a good life on my porch. Remember that song “Up on the Roof?” Well, that’s how I feel about my porch.

A Meal, Two Concerts, and a Cup of Tea
We went to dinner at Altu’s. I was excited, because the publicity I had done this time got Temesgen Hussein’s picture in two local papers: The City Pulse and the Noise. He’s a very talented man doing a type of music that is dying out in Ethiopia, and it’s wonderful to hear him perform.

The picture is Temesgen playing his larger instrument, which has a low resonant tone to it. His voice is very low also, and they resonate together wonderfully. Both the instruments he played are a sort of harp with gut strings and a resonating chamber that sits on the performer’s lap.

The Weepers at Ann Street Plaza, East LansingThe restaurant was almost full when we got there, a very good thing for everyone. I had the Saturday special, which is a garlic lentil stew. Wonderful. Brian got ground peas with collard greens, and it all came with cabbage, salad and Ethiopian bread. Delicious.

We left a little earlier than we might normally have, because The Weepers were playing their last concert in East Lansing. Funny, we heard folks at the next table saying they were going to re-group over at the Weepers concert themselves.

Once, Brian and I opened for a Weepers concert at the Creole Gallery in Old Town. They are a fine band, and their breakup is a loss for the local music community. The concert was wonderful. It was perfect weather, a few of us folks were dancing on the street (and the toddlers were having a wonderful time dancing and running to the music). The square was well packed for the event.

Pictures show the crowd (notice the group on the second floor balcony of the Marriott Hotel behind the stage) and then a close up of the band. Members pictured are, left to right: Drew, Tamineh, Mike, Pat and Steve. Steve moved just as I got that shot so his face is hidden. It’s really hard to get both drummer Pat and bass player Steve showing their faces in the same picture! (Pat, by the way, is the husband of knitter Terri, whose picture you will see tomorrow in the pictures of the PicKnit.)

Drew, Tamineh, Mike, Pat and SteveAfter the concert we talked to a few folks and then decided it was too early to head home. It was a sort of sweet romantic night for walking so we strolled over to Beaners (a 24 hour coffee house where many artists like to hang out) and I got a cup of Long Jing green tea. Brian had some odd juice with spirulina and all sorts of juices. I think Spirulina is algae or seaweed or something. His juice smelled really sweet but it was green and I just couldn’t taste it on that mellow night. Maybe some other day I’ll be more daring!

After that, we went home and I just collapsed from lack of sleep and over-excitement during the day. What a grand day it was.

Tune in Next Week… Um, I mean Tomorrow…
I have too many pictures here, so I will save the other six or nine photos for PicKnittomorrow. Suffice it to say that Tracy/Sweatergirl created a wonderful picnic for bloggers and other Lansing knitters. The weather cooperated and I met even more bloggers for the first time. Rob and Matt (the designer of the Sigma Tank I’ve been playing with… on Knitty.com, Amy‘s site, and a fine site it is) came up from Indiana! They used to live here but I had never met them in person before. It was as if I’d known them a good long while.

Lots of pictures tomorrow… they are already on my web server but this page will never load if I put them all up at the same time. Here’s just one preview pic: from back left, Marcia (purlsb4swine), Debi (TrixieChick), Daphne (SerialKnitter, hiding behind her lovely hair), Sarah (Handknitter). In the front, Left to right, the back of Ann’s head, and Jessie. Much more tomorrow!

Yarn for Ewe Stole in the Making

Saturday, August 2nd, 2003

(The crochet class was fun, we laughed a lot and I have a picture I’ll post tomorrow. The knitting machine demo went pretty well, too. Details tomorrow. And then Brian and I had a great night listening to music in East Lansing, more pictures there as well. Details at Eleven… Um, I mean… I’ll post that all tomorrow. But here’s a post I wrote a few days ago that I haven’t had space for yet. It refers to my day two Thursdays ago, and will be old news soon if I don’t give it space. PicKnit tomorrow, I’m hyped… picture below is what I think I’ll be knitting there.)

Finds from Yarn for Ewe, to be a stoleWell, last Thursday night I stopped by Yarn for Ewe. I’ve been so busy writing about other things that I haven’t taken the picture I needed to show off my finds! This is another case of “better late than never,” I guess.

At Yarn for Ewe, they are starting to get in the new fall yarns, and I fell in love with the multicolored eyelash yarn on the right. It’s Crystal Palace Splash, (100% polyester, color 7178, 85 yd, 100gr). I wanted to make a stole with this as the accent yarn. Except that it really has colors in it that would require assembling all the yarns for the project at the same time. I knew I didn’t have many yarns at home that might go with it.

Fortunately, I have been hanging on to a completed Yarn for Ewe “yarn card.” You must know what this is… every time you buy yarn, they mark off the card, and when you have spent a LOT (I refuse to count up what that card represents, I’d surely be depressed) you get $25 off the next purchase. Well, I wanted that Splash. And I had a yarn card to help me get it plus the yarns I needed to make a stole.

Wendy and I had a fabulous time shopping the store for just the right combination of yarns to make the stole say what I wanted it to say. There were several yarns that looked fine but weren’t my style as much. We finally found something I loved, and it sure was good entertainment getting to that final result. Wendy is such fun! I’m glad she was there that night. I sure don’t see her often. (Faina was there teaching a class so we didn’t say much more than hello, but it was good to see her, too.)

So here is what I am going to use with my Splash, from top to bottom:

  • Crystal Palace Fizz (matte eyelash), 100% polyester, color 7303 (a hotter purple than this picture shows), 120yd

  • Noro Lily (crocheted chain), 30% silk, 70% cotton, color 30 (bluer than most hot green yarns out right now), 108m
  • Debbie Bliss Merino DK (smooth 4-ply yarn), 100% wool, color 225202, a wonderful clear blue-teal, 110m
  • Knit One Crochet Too Toison et Soie (lumpy boucle-type), 90% Merino Wool, 10% Silk, color 546 (Mom wore this color a lot in the mid-1970’s, it’s more sea green than the picture shows on my monitor), 110yd

OK, so my first step will be to wind the Noro and the K1C2 yarns into center-pull balls. Then I get to have some fun knitting for ME ME ME!!!!

Actually, I’m setting aside a half an hour every night for fun knitting without deadlines. I had been so crazy-busy trying to knit things for this deadline or that eager friend, that I wasn’t making anything just for the pure joy of it. I need to keep that joy, or my ideas will become less interesting when I’m designing, I believe.

In any case, I need the joy inside that comes with pure creation. Therefore, this stole for myself will be my pre-bedtime knitting for a while. Or that is the plan, anyway.