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Archive for September, 2003

A Hot Time on the Town

Tuesday, September 30th, 2003

Monday night Brian and I went to Moriarty’s Pub for the Celtic jam session, to say a last goodbye to our friend Mike. Apparently it really brought in more musicians than usual and the back of the main room was packed.

I got to talk to our friend Bonnie who is a contra dancer and whose partner is a fiddler. I didn’t bring my instrument, I just knit through the event. I am just horrible at jamming with fiddle tunes, I guess wrong notes more than half the time and I wasn’t up to the stress of it all last night. Knitting and chatting with Bonnie while listening to the very good jam session, was the perfect way to spend the time.

When things slowed down for a minute, I leaned over the table to hand Mike his “portable hug” (scarf). Well, there was a candle on the table and I was wearing a large fringed rayon scarf as a shawl, to fend off the drafts. I was distracted with giving the gift to Mike, and my fringe caught fire. Thank goodness, our friend Johnny C noticed and the next thing I knew, Johnny was patting out the fire on my back! I didn’t know what was happening until it was over with. In fact, the very tip of my braided hair got singed as well.

It’s a good thing Johnny was on top of it all, because it could have been a very bad night. As it is, the scarf lost a little bit of three fringe bundles and it won’t be noticeable, I can still wear it. I am glad of that, because I got this wrap in Montreal when I went there with my Goddaughter, Sara, in August 2001. And my hair probably needed a trim several months ago so I’ll go get that taken care of in the next week or so, and there is no harm done. Whew!

Today is my first Tuesday not working at Foster Center. I start my Saturday schedule this week, so now I just work at Foster Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. I’m happy to have consolidated all my work there to three days, so that I’ll have time to dye wool more often.

I have been on different schedules every few weeks since early August and it has been very confusing to me. I tend to call Foster and say “I think you want me to work today at 3:00, is that right?” I haven’t messed up yet but I’m always afraid someone will be expecting me and I will be clueless doing something else. I did OK, thank goodness.

Last Thursday my palm device (a Handspring Visor Neo, a low-end gizmo that has a very readable screen) somehow ended up with a broken screen, while in my bag with the hard cover on it. I have no idea how that happened, but thanks to an ebay “buy it now” purchase, I got the replacement from California yesterday in the mail. Since I got an exact replacement, I just had to put it in the cradle and tell it to synchronize, and the new one is just as if I never had a problem. Yippee!

I was only without a palm for three and a half days and restoring was painless. I didn’t realize how much I would use the palm when I got it. It was purely a calendar decision for me, but now I keep all my pricing information on it for my yarn business, and I can keep to-do lists in priority order with deadlines and categories (work, personal, special project). It is an excellent tool. I’m not in love with it, but I was quite inconvenienced to not have that data on Friday when I was trying to price my merchandise for the Sheep and Wool festival.

You know, I have used computers since before the desktop PC was invented. I really have to hand it to those people who developed the palm device. It is so lean and efficient it really is a fine example of good design. No extra bells and whistles to slow me down, just good information that actually displays fine on a tiny screen in black and white. Yes, there are fancy palm devices but I love the simplicity of mine.

The last one I got, I decorated with Teletubby stickers. I figure that some people wouldn’t be caught dead with anything Teletubby (plus it makes my gizmo a one of a kind) and so it’s a theft deterrent. Now I have a new one and I can’t decide what I’ll do to make this one unique. I’m pondering the idea of painting it with fingernail polish in different colors. I tried it on my old, dead one to see if the polish would stay stuck, and it looks pretty durable if I make sure to clean the surface very well before starting. Stickers get messy over time and they fall off. I’ve found that fingernail polish works on many surfaces (but not bare metal), and fabric paint works well on plastics.

Decorating the palm should be an enjoyable time once I get a picture in my head what I want it to look like. Right now it just is cobalt blue transparent plastic, pretty nice. Usually the colored ones cost more but this one was the same price as the smoke colored ones, so I was thrilled. Of course, the model I chose is an older model (thus uncool) which definitely helped the pricing. It cost about $25 less than the same model I got last year in late August. Time was on my side in this case.

Off to dye some wool. Have a grand day.

Mike’s Finished Scarf

Monday, September 29th, 2003

Well, I finished my first machine-knit project. Mike’s scarf is done. I think it actually was more handwork than machine work, but I think I could never have made this scarf in the tiny bits of time I had Saturday night, Sunday night and this morning, if I had done the whole thing on handknitting needles.

The yarn is a 50/50 acrylic/merino wool bulky yarn from Lion Brand called Kool Wool. It is a very rounded cabled yarn. It consists of six two-ply yarns plied together in one lovely rounded rope. I wish I had remembered that Sarah Peasley did a sweater in a similar yarn by Berrocco and she said she loved it except when working in ends. Well, here I did a K2P2 ribbed scarf where there is no back side to hide the ends easily, in this fat yarn. And many ends there were!!! Not only was it a striped pattern, but when a skein ran out in the middle of a stripe I had two extra ends. And because of how I chose to bind off the ends, I had two more ends on either end of the scarf. It worked out fine, really, but as my friend Tony tells me, I’m sometimes too picky. I had to let go of perfection and it’s just fine.

Things I learned: 1) K2P2 is time consuming on a basic knitting machine (I used the Ultimate Sweater Machine loaned to me by JoAnn’s where I teach). It might have gone faster if I had been willing to use more yarn in a thinner gauge and made it into a stockinette tube with one seam; 2) I don’t like the edges on machine knitting, at least on this one. Maybe I’ll get better at it, but I think I’m sort of stuck by the way stitches are created on a machine. I don’t know how to slip a stitch at the beginning, as can be done with handknitting to make a nicer selvedge; 3) fat yarn is hard to bind off in rib without the fabric wanting to flare. I had to bind off twice to get it so that it wasn’t really obvious, and a little blocking helped as well. It would have been better if I had a thinner yarn in the same color that I could have used for just the binding off.

But hey, the edges are just fine for our friend who is leaving, and I really do like a bulky rib better than a stockinette tube anyway. My goal was to send sort of a hug along with him to Colorado. This nice, cushy scarf will do that quite well. He’s not a knitter and he won’t be analyzing that I didn’t do a slip-stitch selvedge, you know?

The colors in the web photo are higher contrast than in real life. The gray is lighter and the blue darker in person, though there is a little bit of subtle contrast between them. This looks like something Mike would actually wear, it will look good with his hair and eyes and blue jeans. I hope he likes it.

Mom’s Party

Monday, September 29th, 2003

Sunday, my mother held a 30-year commemoration/celebration of my father’s life. She invited anyone she could remember had been a colleague or friend, back to childhood. She didn’t know how many would come but invited as many folks as she could, and sort of let go of it all. She also placed an ad in the local paper for their childhood home, and invited folks to write a letter with any memories they had of my father. She really wanted to put together the puzzle pieces for posterity, and particularly for my brother who doesn’t remember my father very well. The letters trickled in for weeks and then we had the party. Some folks brought a letter to the party as well, and one person brought some reel-to-reel tapes of my father’s voice, which mom will have put on CD soon.

In the end, it was a lively crowd. Perhaps as many as 50 people came, but surely at least 30. A cousin of mom’s came (they all grew up together in rural Minnesota), one school friend from when dad got his PhD at University of Minnesota (that friend flew in from NYC for the day just to come), a few neighbors from when I lived at home, many associates from Michigan State University… in particular several students who got their PhD’s under dad’s advising, and a few folks who were professors with him, sometimes with their spouses, and late colleagues’ widows in two cases.

It was quite wonderful to listen to Dad’s students talk about how well he prepared them for their PhD and beyond. (Most of them became professors, one went into market opinion research in the private sector and later the census.) Half of the words they use (mostly regarding statistics, from what I could tell) have five syllables and mean nothing to me, but they all understood one another just fine as the rest of us listened and nodded politely. It was so good to see these people who were such a big part of my growing up.

Dad was an advisor for PhD students, in Communications which was a very new field. There were very few places one could study this subject, so people came from all over the world to study at MSU. My father’s students were always welcome in our home, and so I got to know them well.

What an amazing smart and interesting group it was! Most of us hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. The man who was dad’s friend at Univ. of MN hadn’t seen me since I was a toddler. I was glad I was on my side of that situation, it’s so hard to see someone you knew as a kid, “all of a sudden” be an adult.

The biggest treat was someone we didn’t know would come. Joe Rota was my father’s “right hand man” (his assistant) at MSU at the time of his death. Joe was an international student (originally from Catalonia in Spain but he grew up in Mexico), which meant that he didn’t have friends or family in the US at all. Dad always invited international students to our home for any holiday. So for the last several years of Dad’s life, Joe was at every holiday meal at our home, usually staying very late into the evening. He was really family to me. We love him deeply, still.

When mom said she wanted to do this party, I said the only ones I really wanted to see were the international students, because we really did get to know them best. The other prominent student in my mind was from Israel but we lost track of him and think he went back to Israel. But Joe, mom had kept up with him for a while and heard that he was currently in Ohio.

She found his address and sent out an invitation but didn’t hear back. She didn’t say anything to my brother and I because she didn’t even really know if she had the right address. So when he drove six hours yesterday one way, and showed up at the house, we were beside ourselves. The one person I wanted to see, who I thought was lost to us, was right there. I am so grateful (little tears of gratitude are in my eyes as I write this). I was so happy to hear his voice again.

Last I saw him he was a young single man. Now he has two grown daughters and is a grandfather of one. He still looks the same to me. Some people I didn’t recognize as they came up to the door. Joe I knew in an instant, and I first caught a glance of him from the back. I just knew it was him.

It was an intense day but just wonderful. Mom had Brian and I perform a few tunes a few times for the changing crowds. After the party/open house, She had dinner for 10 folks who were either family or out of town people, and that was even more intimate and lovely.

Oh, my father’s best friend (Hidy Kumata) who also was a professor with him in the Communications Department, died the day before Daddy died. Their funerals were both held the same day. The losses were very hard on a small department at that time. Yesterday Hidy’s widow Lillian, a very fine woman who is accompishing much in her own right, chose to join us for part of the event incuding dinner. She’s a gracious and elegant woman, and I love it when I get time to talk with her. (I also remember from years ago, that she’s a really good Japanese cook, yum!)

What I remembered from spending time with these colleagues and friends of my fathers, was how well they treated me as I was growing up. I must say that the children at school were unkind to me much of the time, and I was almost a loner (yes, this social butterfly you know now, had years without many friends). Yet I always felt accepted by the adults in my life. And spending time with them yesterday, when they would say things like “Do you remember when we built your father’s study in the basement, Eric was hammering nails and you were bringing tools to whoever needed them?” Well, I knew that my memories were right. These people really did love me and think well of me. It was good to talk with them again.

Brian took pictures while I was socializing, and he’s at work with his camera so no pics of the event. (The photo here is Dad’s high school graduation photo, I don’t seem to have any other suitable later photo of dad to show you.) Photos or not, trust me, I spent a day with some very fine human beings. I did almost nothing to help mom prepare for this event and she did an amazing job.

I slept in until around noon today, I was so tired. What a luxury that I could do that. Now I plan to finish that scarf for my friend who is moving out of town. All that is left is working in the ends (and it’s striped so there are many).

Fun Sheep & Wool Show

Saturday, September 27th, 2003

I went to the Sheep and Wool show to work in Deb/Scarlet Zebra’s booth today. I didn’t like the several miles of dirt road to get there, but once in her booth I had a wonderful time. I actually sold quite a bit of yarn, and met some great people.

Two folks introduced themselves when they recognized my name from email lists. Robin (I hope I spelled that right) and Emily were there, and it was great to meet them. Robin had sent yarn for my CityKidz Knit! program at Foster Center earlier this year and we finally got to meet. That was a pleasure!

It was a long day, and it did start out cold but I brought my double-thickness sweater I finished for Wheatland, plus I wore two pair of alpaca sox (there is nothing nicer than alpaca for softness and warmth). I wore some legwarmers I had knit, a mohair beret I knit, and my wristwarmers plus alpaca fingerless gloves. That made seven items I’d knit myself.

I wasn’t really trying to be stylish, I was trying to stay warm… but it was amusing how many people told me they really liked my “outfit.” You folks here know that pretty much all my clothes fit in the “turquoise, fuschia and purple” color scheme. So when I was wearing all these assorted warm handknits, it appeared to others that I had coordinated myself on purpose! It’s nice to know I look good when I’m trying to keep from shivering.

Actually, it was an odd day for weather. There was a stiff wind off and on, then it would be still and peaceful. Most of the day there was some cloudcover, but we definitely had some long stretches of sunshine. Deb and I amused ourselves over how often we had to put on the sweaters, take them off, and repeat.

I sold about half of my Seaside yarn today, and a handful of other yarns, plus some handpainted merino fiber for felting or spinning. Deb will be there tomorrow selling without me, but she kept my yarns with her. We will see how it goes tomorrow. This is kind of nice, because leaving my things with her means we now have an excuse to meet up in the next week or so. That will be a pleasure, as always.

Deb and I live about 2 hours apart, so we usually find some fibery place to meet that is partway between us. Usually we meet at Elaine’s Yarns in Davison (just east of Flint). We are thinking this time we might meet up at Heritage Spinning in Lake Orion. The owner of that business is Joan Sheridan Hoover. I’d met her at Allegan and heard her name but didn’t know to connect the two.

Joan and I talked briefly today. I may be teaching some classes for her in the future. Everything is quite tentative, but I love teaching, and she asked if I’d come up with a few classes for her. I would love to! I was born to teach, I think. There is nothing like connecting with a group as they begin to understand something new. It’s a rush, for sure.

Tonight when I got home I started making a scarf for a music friend, using the Ultimate Sweater Machine. Since I’m making a Knit 2 Purl 2 rib on a machine that can only knit, I have to back and re-form half the stitches, but it is still faster than knitting it all by hand. The scarf is blue and gray Lion Brand Kool Wool, a yarn I really like (and that knits up at a fat gauge to help speed things along). It is looking really good, and I hope he will like it.

Tomorrow my mother is having a party in commemmoration of my father’s life. Dad died 30 years ago this year. It is sort of amazing how many people are coming and from how far. One colleague from the late 1950’s is flying in from New York state for the day. It should be interesting to see who comes to visit. Most of these people I have not seen since Daddio died. It will be a full day, for sure.

A Good Friday

Friday, September 26th, 2003

Wonderful Food
I’m in heaven. I finally went to the City Market today. I had been told by several friends that there was a good vegetarian mideast eatery there, but hadn’t tried it. Well, I went today. It turns out that the woman is from Egypt. Most of this type of food (hummous, mujaddara, grape leaves, falafel, lentil soup and more) in Lansing is Lebanese. I typically refer to this type of food as mideastern cuisine. Yet Egypt is a unique case geographically, because it’s in Northeast Africa plus the Sinai Peninsula and then shares a border with Israel. I didn’t ask her if she considers her food mideastern or if she has another way of describing it.

Whatever it is called, this woman’s food is goooood! I got a roll-up sandwich with eggplant and hummous (very garlicky, a little bit spicy, very good). And she even had green tea! The sandwich was generously sized, and the two items cost $4.50 total. Then she let me taste a stuffed grape leaf which was also very nice. Yum! I’ll be back for sure.

Wool Show Tomorrow
Today, I’m preparing for the Mt. Bruce Station Sheep & Wool Festival tomorrow, in Romeo MI (there is an admission charge of $6). It’s maybe a half hour east of Flint, quite a bit north of Detroit (map on their website). My friend Deb Harowitz/Scarlet Zebra has a booth on Saturday and Sunday. I’m helping her out all day Saturday.

If anyone wants to buy some of my Seaside cushy-sport yarn, I got back what didn’t sell at the retreat and I’ll be selling it at Mt. Bruce tomorrow. It’s $16 for a skein, approximately 100gm and appx. 225 yd (my palm device broke yesterday, holding the exact measurements, but I think that is right… new Visor on the way). I made a pair of sox, women’s medium, with one skein. After Deb sends me back the yarn that doesn’t sell at Mt. Bruce, it will go up for sale to the internet community.

Other upcoming public events I will have in the near future:

Oct 11, (Sat) 6:30-8:30 Abbott Brothers Band at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine
Oct 25, (Sat) 6:30-8:30 The Fabulous Heftones at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine
Dec 6 (Sat) 6:30 Potluck before Contra Dance (dance till 11) with Fabulous Heftones, at Foster Community Center, 200 N. Foster, Lansing

Oct 15 (Wednesday Night) Habibi Dancers’ fundraiser, at 5th element in Grand Ledge. Dinner and dance, call Garnett at 517/483-4233 for details.
Feb 13 (Fri) Shows at 6:30 and 8pm, New Aladdin’s Restaurant, Frandor (me as Eudora with one other dancer)

Knitting Classes:
Nov 14 & 11/21 (Fri) 10am-12, Socknitting, JoAnn Fabrics, Frandor
Nov 23 (Sun) 1:00pm-4ish, Polymer Clay Gift in a Day, JoAnn Fabrics
Nov 5 & 12 (Wed) 10am-12 Basic Knitting, JoAnn Fabrics
Dec 1 (Mon) 6:00-9:00 Easy Textured Stole, JoAnn Fabrics
I actually have lots of knitting classes (Knitting 1, 2 & 3) scheduled at JoAnn, and another polymer class or two, so write me if you are looking for a specific class.

Computer Classes:
I have a whole boatload of classes daytime, weekends and evenings, mostly Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Classes start October 2nd.

The classes go from “How do I click a mouse” to “What are all those features hidden in Word?” to “How do I design an Access database” and a bunch of other fun things like Excel Spreadsheets, Microsoft Publisher or PowerPoint. Call 517/483-4233 (Foster Center) for registration information.

I hope to meet some of you at Mt. Bruce tomorrow! Please be sure to say hi and visit a while at the Scarlet Zebra booth.

Tallying the Goodies (FO’s)

Friday, September 26th, 2003

Well, I’m inspired by Sarah Peasley‘s finishing binge lately. Now, I confess that she has been finishing big things like sweater after sweater after sweater, and a huuuuge entrelac bag that started out as a piano-bench cosy. She cranks, and I bow to her!

But I am impressed with myself anyway. That is probably a good thing because it keeps me going and motivated to keep knitting. So here is what I think is my list of completed projects since 9/5 (the first day of Wheatland Music Festival):

  • September-to-September Sweater for me

  • Pizzazz Stole
  • Regia roll-cuff slouchy turquoise jacquard sox for me
  • Fast Florida Footies for me
  • Several dozen dyed skeins of Seaside Sportweight yarn for sale
  • Pseudo-Turkish sox from Seaside yarn
  • Mohair Beret
  • Cabled Sweat Socks from SpinOff Booklet for me
  • Mohair Wrist Warmers
  • Regia Ringel Taupe Sox for Brian

Not too shabby, eh? And I tossed out one project that needed to never really happen, and I put another on the back burner until I can figure out what new life it might have in it. I think retiring something is an accomplishment, as it frees up the creative space in my head for new things. And I’m preparing for many new things, soon.

The only two socks on that list you haven’t seen here in pictures yet, in some form or another, are the Regia turquoise Roll-cuff slouch sox for me (these slouch so perfectly I am just thrilled) and my Fast Florida Footies. I’ve made these several times but never for me to wear. My turn to try out the Fixation yarn personally! I used leftovers from other projects and nearly ran out of the variegated yarn so I just put in a single stripe of what was left at the toe, to tie in with the roll-cuff and heel in that same yarn.

I haven’t taken any pics of the Pizzazz stole, either… but in pictures it will look much like the turquoise stole I did at the Allegan festival. In person they look very different but they both read “turquoise” at first glance.

Oh, and the highlight of my day was a new knitter at Foster Center. She’s probably in High School. She came in and asked could she learn (it was computer time but she was the only kid in the room at the time). Her grandma knits and she does rug hooking but wanted to learn knitting. She took to it like a fish to water. Finished a small project very quickly and took needles and yarn and a totebag home with her. I expect she’ll return, as she’s a regular on Teen Night (I usually work earlier in the day than Teen Night but on Thursdays I’m there till 6pm). Whee! What a rush it is to teach someone who learns so easily!

Another Day out in My World

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

I had a good day. I started with lunch at Altu’s restaurant, where I met my friend Ulyana. It was late enough after the lunch hour that Altu sat with us, and it was so fun. Three self-employed women enjoying each other, laughing, sharing life. And eating that great food. Charles, Altu’s brother-in-law who works at the restaurant, was also there. I had not seen him in weeks and it was great to say hello again. I sure missed my life while I was on that couch!

After lunch, I went to Foster for a few hours. I had five knitters and five computer kids. I love those kids! They were all relieved to find that I was OK after not being there so long. I was delighted to see how far they had knit before needing my assistance. And my youngest boy (age 6) came in with another knitted ring ready to sew up. He loves these instant projects. I found out why: His parents buy the rings from him. How sweet! That is one way of earning an allowance I had not heard of before!

I finished the ends on Brian’s Regia Ringel sox today. Toes I think are Trekking Tweed fingering weight, mostly black. I hope they feel as comfy as this picture makes them look! Last night I also finally blocked the Fast Florida Footies I made for myself weeks ago. And I’m done with the cuffs on the new sox-in-progress for Brian, the Meilenweit navy/green/orange jacquard.

I am going to make these with an afterthought/peasant heel (top down) so I’m just preparing to knit in some waste yarn for half a round and then continue down to the toe. I think that a peasant heel looks better on a self-patterning sock, as the stripes don’t get distorted. I can get around it a little by using a contrasting yarn for heel and toe, but I don’t really have any solid I would like with this yarn very much and Im sort of eager to see the stripes in a peasant heel. These will no doubt be very fun sox!

Today it was cold and rainy and miserable. I really love hot 85F degree days, and am grieving that I lost the last 2 weeks of summer by being ill. One day it was so hot I sat out in the hammock on the porch but most days I stayed inside… and now it is like fall weather hit, the second the calendar said it was fall. Boo Hoo. OK, end of pout…

The good part of the cold was that I got to wear my mohair wristwarmers that I knit last week. They are very warm, indeed, and pretty comfortable. I made the opening for my thumb an extra 2 stitches wider than the Voodoo pattern, but it still seems maybe that I’d like it to be larger so it wouldn’t bind. I think next time I do a wristwarmer, I might make at least a tiny gusset for the thumb hole, even if I don’t do individual fingers. My thumb gets cold out there where the wind can hit it! That will take more work, but I think it will be worth it. There is a lot of room for experimentation, since the form of a wristwarmer is essentially so simple. I do love these, though… they will be just the ticket for rainy days like this.

I’m contemplating some striped legwarmers. I saw a wonderful advertisement with striped legwarmers up far past the knee, worn with tights and a miniskirt. Ooh, how lovely that is. The young model, of course, has loooong sticks for legs. I have shorter legs but they are thin enough for fat legwarmers, and I do look good in a miniskirt even at 44 years old. I’m contemplating using my knitting machine to knit a wool miniskirt, as well. This could be great fun.

And in the long run, I must have wool longjohns (long underwear, to translate for those outside the US) to keep me warm during the winter. I know I will never knit them by hand, but a knitting machine would be perfect. That is, if I can afford that much yarn… it would take a lot of fingering weight to make a pair, even for short, small me. But SmartWool brand has a pair for $55 US, and so knitting my own exactly to fit is possible in comparison to that!

Anyone figured out yet how to get more than 24 hours in a day? So many ideas, so little time…

Back to My World

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2003

Old Business:
I should have mentioned that my friend Riin was a big inspiration to me this summer. I got that new/old bike and started riding it to work after I talked with her about her commute. It’s sort of funny how that goes, because Brian rides his bike on a different section of the Riverwalk to his work, and he has for several summers. It never occurred to me that I could, too (my commute is not as far as Brian’s, either), until I had a really nice conversation with Riin one time at Borders’ Common Threads gathering. Might as well give credit where credit is due.

Oh, and Brian says I should not have titled that entry a few days back “I’m a Loser.” I thought I was so clever! I was thinking of the Beatles’ song with the same title, and I did indeed lose the bid (not that I saw that as an overall indication of my character).

If you are not as old as I am, and the Beatles’ song didn’t come to mind, consider looking it up one of these days. I never was an obsessed Beatles’ fan, but they really did know how to craft some fine tunes and fine harmonies. On occasion, their music is the perfect thing to keep me company. I particularly love “Rubber Soul,” an album from 1965 which begins with “Baby, you can drive my car…” Whee, such great singing!

New business:
The good news is that I went to the doc again today and he says I am not contagious and I can work if I want. I was so ready to hear that. I was going crazy being alone so much. My legs are still wobbly, so I sat down for two hours at Foster Center… supervising kids in the computer lab (a few knit, but most played games). It was great to see “my kids” again.

Here are a few peeks at the Cabled Sweat Socks (from the Spin Off Socks booklet)which I am so happy to be done knitting! This yarn just will not photograph well for me. It is regular fingering-weight yarn, Fortissima Colori. (Brian bought this yarn for me at Romni Wools on West Queen Street in Toronto, January 2001.)

The yarn is two strands of a lovely medium greenish-turquoise/aqua, and two strands rainbow with hot pink, purple, yellow and orange. It makes a wonderful sort of tweedy-ragg sort of look but in Technicolor! I will love wearing them, but knitting those cables on size 1 with my tight knitting, was no fun at all. I love how cables look but that was miserable knitting for me.

The original sock pattern was designed on sportweight yarn and I went down a yarn size and a few needle sizes, to get a gauge that would fit my small feet better. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the heel flap short enough to be truly proportioned properly to the rest of the sock. You can see that there is a lot more fabric at the heel/gusset than is needed, but I think I won’t feel the extra fabric in my shoes. Thank goodness that cables are super stretchy and they will fit great in the ankle. I’m eager to wear these!

Today I finished the toe on one of Brian’s Regia ringel socks. I have one more toe to finish which I’ll do tonight. I’ve worked on these off and on for a couple months, my “grab fast on the way out the door” knitting. He’ll wear these a lot, I’m sure. Probably we’ll have pictures in the next few days of that pair.

Off to make some kind of fast dinner. My mom made me some Irish Soda Bread again so I have been binging on toast for a few days. Yum. So tonight, I need to eat some real food with some reasonable amount of protein in it, to make up for all the toast I’ve had! I’m not apologizing at all…

And Brian brought home some strawberries and Michigan peaches Sunday which we have been really enjoying. I got some pseudo-ice-cream (I can’t eat dairy) of a brand we really like, today at the health food store. So tonight after the healthy meal, I’m going to have strawberry shortcake… a toaster waffle with “ice cream” and strawberries. Luxury! If happiness creates healing (I’m just sure it does), I’ll be totally well by bedtime.

I was so happy to be out in the world today. The people we love, really, are the essence of a good life. Or that is how I see it, anyway.

Spinning/Knitting Friend in the News!

Monday, September 22nd, 2003

My friend Riin (pronounced Reen), who is in the Spinners Flock guild and also comes to the Borders knit-ins, is featured in the University of Michigan Record Online publication today.

Riin lives in Ann Arbor and rides her bike full time, having sold her car in spring of 2001. She even rides from Ann Arbor to Chelsea for Spinners Flock meetings once a month. That’s a 1 hour 45 minute bike ride one-way, the article says.

I’m bummed that the picture of her doesn’t show her wearing one of her fabulous handspun-handknit creations. She’s a marvelous spinner and knitter.

Check out the article! Go, Riin!!!

Knitting Progress

Monday, September 22nd, 2003

Well, I thought I was getting well and went to Art and Marlene’s for Thai dinner yesterday, just a few hours. I swear, I went there and sat and knit the whole time. I didn’t get up and move around, was really good to myself, and yet here I am, sick again/still. No fair! This social person is going nuts sitting on the couch for days on end! Ugh.

But I am not in charge, other than to be good to myself. And so most of the time I give in to reality and sit with my feet up and knit. I only sit at the computer for short times, and on the couch for long times. It can’t last forever, it’s just a virus. I need to give in to reality. End of pouting…

The good news is that I have done a good deal of knitting. I’m learning a lot about myself in the process. I am letting go of unwise projects, better than ever. I have a bin full of UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) and I have been looking at them one at a time, alternating with new projects. It’s quite enlightening.

I finished the Cabled Sweat Socks yesterday. They really are beautiful, but I did not enjoy the process of knitting them. Now the fun begins, because I’ll be wearing them! Right now they are blocked and drying, I’ll take pics soon.

I already trashed the crocheted socks project. The gauge was way off, more than initially obvious. And honestly, I couldn’t see where I would find lumpy worsted-weight yarn to be comfortable other than as bedsocks. I do want to learn crochet, and I did start to learn how to read patterns in crochet, but I will need a different pattern to proceed in the crochet-learning realm.

I got out what started as a quick project to knit this summer while working the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I sort of was making up the pattern on the fly. It is in a sportweight fuschia/rainbow yarn that, like the yarn for the sox I finished yesterday, sort of screamed it should be cables. Well, I don’t know enough about cables to make up a pattern. I cast on what would be a generous number of stitches for regular socks, made a rolled cuff edge, and then even increased to start a very simple cable pattern. Well, when I tried them on yesterday they won’t fit over my heel, like not even close. I’m thinking now that maybe these could be interesting cuffs for mittens perhaps. They need to go back to the UFO bin while I mull over solutions. I am NOT going to undo all that cable knitting. It’s only about 3″ on each cuff so far, but it looks lovely and I am not taking it out. Either it will be kids’ sox or some wrist thing for me. We’ll see.

I’m only about an inch to the toes for a pair I’ve done as waiting-in-line sox for Brian, for months now. (Boring, gray/beige/taupe in Ringel patterning by Regia, but perfect for every day wear.) They are so close to done that I didn’t take them to dinner last night, I knew I’d be measuring and figuring and decreasing which would not be good. So instead I started a new pair for brainless-knitting times. (Yes that sounds bad but think of it as a Buddhist meditation and it doesn’t seem like an insult at all.)

The new pair are for Brian, in Meilenweit which Rob and Matt of Threadbear Fiberarts gave me (at the late-summer PicKnit Tracy A./Sweatergirl arranged).

This yarn is very fun. It’s orange and grass green and soft navy stripes with gray/cream “jacquard” patterns. I love knitting it though the colors are not my style. Brian says he’d enjoy wearing them, so it’s a great thing. I am significantly making progress on both cuffs on those and I just started them about 5pm yesterday afternoon. When I am knitting round and round in stockinette, I really crank! I love that sort of knitting.

Notice something interesting in the picture. I had heard of this, but in my 80-some pairs of sox, this is the first time I’d encountered it. These sox are from the same dyelot, two different balls, and one is wound in the opposite way. I started both with a navy stripe, but one goes navy/orange/green and one goes navy/green/orange. I’m leaving it, after all these are on-the-road sox and there is nothing simple about having a ball of yarn in your bag spinning around because you’re knitting from the outside. Ugh. Brian will wear them, they still are the same yarn just slightly different. But how interesting!

I also decided I would try as many toe-up starting procedures as I could stand to try. Saturday night I could hardly fall asleep trying to picture one in my head that I’d read in Socks for Sandals and Clogs, by Anna Zilboorg (Click on picture in previous post for details on the booklet).

I tried Anna’s Vega sock toe yesterday. I did two full repeats of the instep pattern. I had given myself permission to stop after that point and maybe make a little coin purse or pouch for holding finger cymbals. I used Dale’s Freestyle washable worsted weight yarn in a sort of butter yellow and periwinkle. Lovely stuff, but very bulky on the size 4 needles I used. I haven’t blocked it yet, but you can still see the idea. A beautiful pattern. I think I have enough yarn to make a pair at least slipper-tall, and it appears that my gauge would work for my foot, but I’m not sure I want to go further. I can set that aside for now.

I found another toe-up start in the Socks, Socks, Socks book, written by Traci Bunkers (the Kool-Aid dyed socks in a Turkish-looking style if you have seen the book). I must give that a shot soon. It’s so freeing to let myself just do the toe and then stop. I can learn a procedure without committing to a whole pair, when all I want to learn is the toe, anyway!.

Off to put my feet up on the couch. Maybe I’ll finish that pair for Brian that has only an inch and then toes. It’s lovely finishing all these projects!

Another Too-Slow Weekend

Saturday, September 20th, 2003

Wow. I guess I needed to sleep. I slept 14 hours nonstop. How can a human even do that? No doubt I needed it, but waking up at 3pm is startling, to say the least. I often go to bed at 1am, but I typically wake up in mid-morning. This is amazing!

I was supposed to go to my first machine-knitting club today. It’s in Birmingham, in the greater Detroit area. I’m really bummed to miss out but knew a long trip by car to a place I’d never gone, would not be a healing activity for me. I thought if I felt better at all today I’d play with the knitting machine here. I think, though, that I really need to wait on that.

Last night I worked on the Cabled Sweat Socks. This is slow going. I would work on both sox until it was time to do a row with cable crossings. Then I’d put them down and read Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia book. Then I’d gather up courage and make myself do another cable cross row, and merrily knit the next five rows (on both sox) that were just knits and a few purls. Then I’d find another distracting thing to read.

I’ve done cables before, and they never really were my favorite from a knitting standpoint, but these sox are getting to me. I think it’s because these are on tiny needles and fairly rigid yarn. I have to really try to remember to knit loosely on the row before the cables cross, or it is just a mess. On size 1 (2.25mm) needles, there is no room for the yarn to stretch and forgive me.

You know, Marlene Osborn, owner of Yarn for Ewe, is just a fanatical Aran sweater knitter. She does sweater after sweater full of cables, and is always asking people if they have tried an Aran yet.

Also Tracy/Sweatergirl does a lot of cabled stuff. And she often spins her own yarn, as well! I love wearing cables, but recently I’ve been wishing for a sort of benevolent grandma-type to knit me all the beautiful cabled sweaters I long to wear, but know I would never knit. At least I know I wouldn’t finish, before I even contemplate buying yarn. It would be a real tragedy to pay for the yarn and start, but not finish. Better to just knit other things!

I think I have only one more cable-crossing row ahead of me on these sox. That’s six crossings on each foot, a total of 12. I think I can make myself finish these today. But geeze, where did all my knitting time go? I slept the morning and half the afternoon away! I did feel a bit more tired yesterday, though I didn’t crave a nap… but this took over for it. I did drink a ton of water when I woke up and I’m heading to a nice soaking bath, to get re-hydrated. (Don’t you just love a leisurely bath? There is no more simple and affordable luxury that can turn my day around, like a hot bath.)

Off to my bath and one more repeat of cables, followed by a set of normal-enough toe decreases. Then I can knit something fun! Wonder what I’ll settle on for the next project?

I’m a Loser

Friday, September 19th, 2003

OK, thanks to everyone for the ebay advice. I tried, I failed. I saved a few bucks, I guess.

I’m not eager to repeat that again, Ugh. I do NOT like adrenaline rushes, even when I’m feeling well.

Book by Anna ZilboorgOff to knit more cables, on the Cabled Sweat Socks. I’m eager to get that over with, too. I knit too tightly to enjoy cable knitting, and in order to make this pattern fit my small feet, I had to go down to a size 1 needle. The sox are looking wonderful but man, I don’t like knitting cables. The yarn deserved it, it’s a wonderful sockyarn with two strands of a light aqua-turquoise and two rainbow strands. Gorgeous. I’ll love wearing them. I have maybe 6″ on both feet to go, and I’m done. Countdown…

Why is I that I love knitting colorwork and I don’t have one project in progress right now using that technique? I’ve tried lace this week, and now I’m doing the cables… but what makes me really get excited about knitting is stranded colorwork. Silly me… I guess I know what I’ll be doing next.

I took a good look at Anna Zilboorg’s Socks for Sandals and Clogs last night. There are a few really lovely Turkish-inspired socks there. (This is a small publication, currently out of print, which originally came with a poster for hanging on the wall. I think if I remember right, Anna said it’s being printed again without the poster, but my memory could be wrong.) The instructions in that booklet seem pretty thorough, and I may try them out. Love the patterns.

Help me!

Thursday, September 18th, 2003

Help me, somebody. I hate ebay, hate auctions, they feel like gambling to me. So now there is something I want and I don’t know how to bid. I know some people really know how to do this, but I don’t.

The items started at $1 and I bid $1.25 on one of them, and was instantly outbid at $1.50 because someone had posted a maximum bid. I can just see that this is not going to end well.

I’m reeeeally not in a position to spend money on things I don’t need. I am not a gambler. But I would love to get one of the three turkish coin purses up for sale now (the end of the auction is tomorrow morning). They say they are knitted, but upon closer inspection, they are really Bosnian Single Crochet.

Funny, my understanding of the product has nothing at all to do with whether my cash wins the bid, at all. Boo Hoo. If this was college, I could compete with my brains and intellectual understanding. But this is the world of ebay and I’m out of my league.

My typical reaction would be to walk away and not even try. But I really would love having one of these. I don’t even know how much I’m willing to spend. I don’t know if the person already bidding on these is one of you guys out there, and I’m telling my secrets…

Should I give up now, before I’m disappointed too much? I understand that I really should wait and bid right when it’s almost time for the auction to close. I will no doubt be home at that time, since I’m still sick at home. I really don’t want an adrenaline rush, I don’t enjoy them at all. But if I want to go for this, I am going to have to let go and deal with it.

What to do? Save my pennies? Give it a try and then chance having buyer’s remorse? Find someone who knows what they are doing, to stand in for me with a good, logical brain? Or as Dipsy the Teletubby would say: “Run away, run away……”

Pictures, at Last

Thursday, September 18th, 2003

OK, a few quick pictures today. First, one of the wristwarmers (there are two but I had to take a picture of myself). Super-fuzzy Mohair (I think it’s a yarn by Heirloom of Australia but have lost the ball bands… got it on our guild’s January knitting retreat which should have been called yarn-buying-binge instead).

The wristwarmers will be very warm but they are scratchy, even to me. I’ll be washing these soon in conditioning shampoo and rinsing with hair conditioner. If I must, I’ll wear them over my fingerless gloves. Double-warmth is in order sometimes in Michigan!

Oh, please take time to notice the background. That is a wall quilt made for me by my sister in law, Judy. That’s Brian’s brother Mike’s wife. (Have I gone on and on yet about how I dislike the phrase sister-in-law because it isn’t specific enough???) Judy is a very talented quilter, and she also really caught right on to my colors, soon after meeting me. I LOVE this quilt, and it is so obviously about what I like, rather than what she prefers. What a wonderful gift it has been.

By the way, these wrist wamers are instant-gratification knitting. I made the arm part about an inch longer than called for, and the hand part another inch longer than in the Voodoo pattern. I think they would look cuter with less fabric covering the hand (which is how Bonnie Marie wrote it), but they would be less warm, and I am always freezing.

The other picture is my recent beret, almost complete. I show this view because folks find it hard to believe that I prefer double-pointed needles this much! I do everything I can to stay on DPNs as long as I can. For sweaters and stoles, there are just too many stitches and I’d lose too many stitches without a circular needle. But a hat, I can keep on going by adding needles as the size increases (these are 5″ Brittany Birch needles). Notice the beret I did from the “top down” this time. That was the first time I’d done a *knit* beret from the top (I did one crocheted one top-down once but that is normal for crocheting, even in the west).

The yarn is gorgeous. It changes subtly from a blue with a little raspberry, to a raspberry with a little blue, back again to the blue. The finished beret is very pretty, but it’s just a little small for me. I am struggling trying to figure out the perfect proportions for a beret and have only completed one hat that is truly wearable for me. This one will probably go to charity. I think I will make a little tassel with the last 4 yards of yarn I have left, and attach it to the center (notice there is no I-cord in the center of this one). When I get a tassel done, maybe I’ll have one of the kidz at Foster Center model it for me.

Right now I’m trying to finish a pair of sox I started during the holidays last year. It’s the “Cabled Sweat Socks” pattern from the Spin Off sock booklet. Brian bought me this yarn at Romni Wools in Toronto, January 2001 when we took a weekend trip. I tried so hard to tame the yarn into being stockinette, but it would not listen. The yarn screamed cables (I resisted almost a year before giving in) and I did finish the cuffs before the holidays were done. Thank goodness for car-knitting time while driving to this or that family gathering!

But THEN the pattern called for an Eye-of-Partridge stitch heel flap with a garter-stitch border. Ugh. Double-ugh. I *really* don’t like thinking that much when I knit! I stalled on the sox for nine months at that point! (Eye of Partridge is a lovely textured pattern created by slip stitches, alternating different stitches on different rows. Oh, and since it is worked flat on a heel flap, it requires purling whole rows every other row, something I try to avoid as well.)

I think Eye of Partridge is pretty, but it’s not pretty enough to be worth actually doing! And I’m not fond of the look of a garter stitch edge much, especially on what I consider to be otherwise a very elegant sock. But I was willing to consider that this was someone else’s vision and follow their instructions. The picture of the finished sock is just gorgeous, I must confess.

So last night was the Agony-of-Eye-of-Partridge night. I did two heel flaps, 30 stitches wide if I remember right, on size 1 needles, and each flap 2.25″ long. Brian had guests (the Scarlet Runner Band had rehearsal here) so I was relegated to the bedroom (where there is inadequate light for knitting) and sat there propped on the bed knitting EOP over and over. I’m happy to say I made it through the ordeal and turned both heels last night before turning in.

Now I only have to do cables on the instep, and then all stockinette (sigh) for the toe. I’m heading to heaven, folks. I love knitting around-and-around in stockinette. One stitch at a time, over and over, like a soothing clock ticking in the background. Love it.

Oh, by the way… the yarn for the hat here, I got at Yarn for Ewe. It’s one of their new fall yarns… it might be a nice substitute for Noro Kureyon in something, since the color bands appear to be about the same length. In my haste to pick up the messy living room for the guys last night, I lost that ball band as well, so I don’t have much information on it.