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Archive for October, 2003

ColorJoy ArtYarns are Up!

Friday, October 31st, 2003

Well, I didn’t make the midnight deadline but my ArtYarns are up for the world to see. I hope you all love my creative endeavor here, as much as I do.

I could do more. All my yarns are up, but I had fibers to put up and it is late. I’m calling it a night. We go to Ukefest tomorrow and I need some rest for my overworked voice, so I can sing.

I have put up three pages of my handpainted ArtYarns just now, including this beautiful periwinkle/aqua/lilac sportweight alpaca.

I still have about 15 balls of wool/mohair rovings for spinning and feltmaking, that I just did not get on web pages tonight. I will work on those pages on Monday, as I will be out more than in until late Sunday night.

I am taking my laptop with me, so I will do my best to check the status of any emails requesting yarn orders. Yarn will be shipped starting on Monday.

So here it is: I present to you, Page One of three ArtYarn pages (Ta Dah!):


Scroll to the bottom of the first page, and you will find a link to the second page, and so on. I *do* want you to see all the offerings, you know!

Good night!

Preparing for ColorJoy ArtYarn/Fiber Sale

Wednesday, October 29th, 2003

I’m working like crazy putting together images and text for my upcoming ColorJoy ArtYarn/ArtFiber web pages. By midnight tomorrow/Thursday (Eastern Standard Time) I will have a yarn site up for your perusal. Please excuse the short postings these days, while I prepare for this exciting event.

There are a few skeins left of the Seaside Cushy ColorSport yarn. A very few, maybe four. You (who read my blog) are the first to know. Check in tomorrow for current status of the project. Thanks!

If the Hat Fits: Online Gallery

Tuesday, October 28th, 2003

I’ve recently joined an email list called If_the_hat_fits in Yahoo groups. They just finished their first online gallery of hats made using several different construction methods. You will want to check it out.

Knitting As Art, the Ordinary as Art

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Schooner, Copyright Annie Modesitt 2002I followed a link from Annie Modesitt’s blog (well, her list of links) and found a project called Knitwork by Germaine Koh. (Warning: it’s a Geocities site so you may get pop-up windows.)

Koh unravels used garments and reknits into a 2-meter-wide knit piece that is amazingly long (it shows the piece going up the very long stairway to the gallery in one photo). The piece continues to grow, as she sometimes goes to the gallery and works on the piece during gallery hours. She says it will be done when her life is done, so the project is finite in that way.

How fine that this gallery (which is very forward thinking and has been for decades) would sponsor a piece of this magnitude which is “merely” ordinary knitting from used yarn. The piece is in the permanent collection. This says a lot for the piece and for the gallery. The photos documenting it are quite striking.

I love the Art Gallery of Ontario. It’s in Toronto, my first real city. And it was my first real Gallery/Museum, or at least the first that changed me, the first that reached me. I went there and I woke up. One day I walked into a passageway and there was a large canvas which was white with matte black paint sort of roughly applied in the middle. On that black area, was a brand new, shiny white bathroom sink (the type you might see in a public restroom, in groups of several on the wall). At first I didn’t get it, but I was entranced anyway, that someone would do that. It turned out to be work by Jim Dine, who is someone I later learned about when viewing a retrospective of some of his work at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC. But I digress.

This was the first piece of really modern art (by a living artist) that really grabbed me. I bought a postcard of the piece and then forgot I’d bought it. perhaps three decades later, I was moving and found that postcard… and realized the piece was by Jim Dine. I can’t find a pic of that sink piece on the web tonight. But what it taught me was that an ordinary object could be beautiful, could indeed be art, yet we typically don’t see it as art unless it is taken out of context.

I guess that is a little bit what I am trying to do here on this weblog. I am trying to say that art is many things, art is everywhere, art is both ordinary and extra-ordinary. Many things we don’t consider to be art, be they the design of a shiny and lovely porcelain sink, a huge “blanket” made of unraveled used sweaters, or a well-made soup, go unnoticed.

On the other hand, people who can draw are practically worshipped. People go on and on about how they “are not creative.” Maybe they are not, or maybe they only recognize creativity when it involves a drawing tool.

It took me a long time to realize that I was an artist, because I do not work in two dimensions. I could go into a long story of why I don’t choose to draw or paint, but the fact is that I am very good with my hands creating things in three dimensions, items that do not fit on a wall easily. And many of the items are practical, useful objects in normal living… items not considered art in many circles these days. For that reason, I took a long time to realize that I was truly an artist… just one who chose not to draw.

Worshiping artists is a way of distancing ourselves from the magic of artful living. Those same people who worship a painter or someone who makes some sort of art that can be framed and hung on a gallery wall, may be incredible gardeners, seamstresses, cooks, listeners, hostesses. They may write excellent letters to their families. They may create a space in their home for relationships to bloom, either inside their own families or by inviting friends in. We all know at least one person who takes dressing/costuming themselves to the level of an artform. Painting a house is not considered art, but I have friends who have painted with the colors that they adore, inside and out, and have made an artful statement that way.

I guess I owe a lot to Jim Dine, and his choice to pull an ordinary object out of a restroom and onto a canvas at the Art Gallery of Ontario, one day in the late 1970s. I’ve never been the same again.

Image is the knitted outdoor installation piece “Schooner” by Annie Modesitt

Gray Day

Sunday, October 26th, 2003

Well, it was nice to have an extra hour to sleep in this morning, with the time change. I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed a few hours of sunshine when I did get up. But then the dreaded gray came in and gave me the blues.

Funny, when it’s gray I turn blue, but when the sun goes down I actually feel a little better. Maybe that is because I then turn on all the lights in the house. It seems an indoor light doesn’t make much difference until the sun goes down.

I need color, it’s fuel for me. At this time of year I have to make peace with knowing that it won’t be colorful for a good long time. The trees start turning green in late April if I recall properly. We do have some warm days in March to break the cold spells, but the color takes longer to come back.

Maybe it is not too late to go to the garden store and buy some bulbs that say “Very Early Spring Blooming” on the package. I never bother with any other kinds of bulbs. Only those which can take the winter away, as soon as possible, are worth the effort to me. I don’t like dirt on my hands but I’ll do it for the promise of a colorful spring.

I did spend some time at Yarn for Ewe today with some other machine knitters. I started a child’s sweater in turquoise and spring green, and the colors reminded me of spring. I enjoyed using those colors. Maybe I’ll get stuck on that colorway for a while again (I dyed a bunch of yarns those colors sometime last year, see picture).

Tonight for dinner we had roll-ups with asparagus among other things. I guess that was also my reach for spring somehow. For dessert, though, it’s sundaes with pumpkin sauce I made myself. I do love pumpkin. Pumpkin makes the fall season happier for me.

I also love wool and mohair and alpaca… thank goodness. The fibers can give me joy through the difficult gray season. I don’t like being cold, but I think it is the lack of color that bothers me most of all. No wonder I have been painting my house with more and more purple trim every year! And often in late December I end up painting something indoors with fun colors, as well!

Off to knit something, and do a little more preparation for my almost-ready handpainted fiber/artyarn sales web page. It will be ready soon, so watch for an announcement here in the next week. I will notify my blog friends and send out an email to those who have asked for a note when I have yarns, before I tell the general public. I tend to do small batches, so it’s only fair to give first dibs to those who are most loyal or have expressed advance interest.

May you have a cozy and wonderful day with an extra hour in it!

Busy Saturday, Again

Saturday, October 25th, 2003

I guess Saturdays are just made for being jam-packed with activities.

Foster Center Class
Today I taught “Let’s Talk about the Internet” at Foster Center in the morning. It was delightful! I had a retired gentleman who has taken several classes with me in previous terms, and his wife. I had not met her before. With only two students, we got a lot covered and many questions answered. She has done a lot of email and some surfing and he has done virtually none. I think they both enjoyed their class. I sure did.

JoAnn Fabrics
I took a quick trip to JoAnn’s on my lunch hour. What an absolute zoo it was, there were so many people there it was unbelievable. They had one set of sale items for open till noon, and then noon to close. There was a 50% off coupon for one item only, good from noon to close. You could barely move in that store.

I had hoped they would have a row counter for my USM (knitting machine) that I could get with the 50% off coupon but they didn’t have any in stock. The second item on my list was some Wilton’s cake decorating dyes to use on some Lion Brand Fishermans Wool yarn in preparation for a class I will hope to offer in early 2004. I got turquoise and a leaf green. I must be wishing for spring already!

I also got a few pillow forms to fill the pillows I have been designing in my mind for sale at the Art for the Soul sale. And a rotary blade to fill my paper trimmer. It was amusing, when I went to pay, the most expensive thing in my cart was the $4.99 blade so I got that item 50% off. I guess I didn’t qualify as wildly compulsive today, thank goodness!

It was actually quite heartening. That store was so packed you couldn’t get anywhere without a lot of “excuse me’s” being said by all parties. The lines were eight to a dozen carts long and there were at least a half dozen cash registers going at once. And there was not a single crying baby, not a single grouchy person, no angry faces. People knew they were there for a big sale and they waited their turns. I knit in line (some handspun I’m making into wrist warmers) and that made me happier. And the woman behind me was very pleasant to chat with. The lines actually went pretty smoothly, and when I asked the cashier if people had been grumpy she said she only had pleasant people so far. How cool.

This It made me realize one reason that Lansing is a good person to live. When you wait in line people can be pleasant. When you are driving, people let you in when traffic is tied up, so you don’t get trapped. We’re good people in that way in my city. This is a good town for people.

Computer/Knitting Lab
In the afternoon I worked a computer lab. I only had two kids, one computer boy and one knitting girl. She is the new knitter working on a backpack. She has finished the body of the pack and the eyelets. She was supposed to bind off a majority of her stitches and then start knitting back and forth in garter stitch to make a top flap. I had to give her too many instructions all at once when she left on Thursday, and she got things a little mixed up. So she came in and I took out a few stitches that were wrong and just reknit them for her (her Mom was due back any minute from a short errand) and had her do just the last six or so to be sure she understood. Then I got her going on making that flap. She had never knit back and forth using circular needles before, so that was hard for her to figure out on her own. She’s going great guns now.

She’s also (on her own) knitting some wrist warmers for herself. She was using some pink yarn I think she got on her own. Today she said she wanted to do the wristwarmers and then make a scarf to go with them. I had her pick out two oor three more coordinating pink yarns to go with it, to take home. She decided then and there that she was going to rip out the solid pink wristwarmer she had already started (she had knit at least six inches already) so that she could make them striped. Good for her! She loved her new yarn.

Fabulous Heftones at Altus
I ran home for a short while to change clothes and become “Lynn Heftone.” Brian came home and we had no time to waste, to get to Altu’s for our performance.

Tonight all sorts of folks we knew were there to hear us. My mom and Fred came, and Mom’s friend, and Regina who is a friend from Working Women Artists among other places. Regina hadn’t been there yet but she said she really enjoyed her meal. She also said that she heard we were performing tonight, because she had read my blog. Cool! (Hi, Regina!)

Also in the audience were Edna, Kathy, their friend (Denise? Diane?), Cynthia, Doug, Marna, two of Marna’s friends, my dance friend Maya and her friend, and Wally and his friend. All there to see us play. It’s so much fun to play for a room full of friends! My voice was a little weak today so Brian took more than his share of the singing, but I was able to sing harmony for our usual harmony numbers and I did a small handful of songs I knew would not stress out my vocal cords.

This is my worst allergy season of the year and with all the teaching I’ve done this last few weeks I have really somehow overstressed my voice. I need to watch that pretty closely. I was on total voice rest (not a single whisper) for 31 days about 9 years ago, and I am not eager to repeat that experience. But enough about the bummer stuff… we had a blast tonight and it was a lovely little scene there.

Cynthia took some pictures of us while we were performing. I was so aware as she was taking the photos, that she really loves us and really wanted to get some shots that made us look good. It’s hard to take pictures of moving targets, but here are a few that turned out quite well. The shoes are the real thing. Brian got them from a friend when that friend’s father passed away. Brian was the right size, so he got the goodies. He wore these shoes for our wedding, too.

Chilly Friday

Friday, October 24th, 2003

Well, it was too cold to paint the garage today. I was not at all disappointed. I slept in just a bit and then ran a few errands. I finished my cashmerino sample items (still need to throw in washer/dryer) and then Brian and I went to dinner at Aladdins. (We ran into Tony at Aladdins… this is such a small town.)

When we got home I spent some time in the studio and made three small batches of handpainted yarns. They are in the process of cooling off right now. I tell you, waiting overnight to see what things look like is hard work! My childlike self wants to look at it NOW but I have learned that trying to hurry means that the dye doesn’t always set properly. I need to wait until tomorrow.

I have been knitting wristwarmers like crazy, for sale at the “Art for the Soul” sale on December 6. I don’t often knit finished items for sale, but I can knit wristwarmers while reading or doing other things I must do anyway.

Right now I’m working with some handspun I purchased from a Spinners Flock member last December. It is cream and magenta wool fibers sort of in a heathery yarn, and it is just beautiful if a bit itchy. I am going to wash the wristwarmers in humectant shampoo and conditioner and hope that they become soft and lovely to wear. I can wear scratchy wool (and I love how warm it is) but some people just can’t. We’ll see how this all goes.

Tomorrow I teach a class on the Internet in the morning at Foster Center. In the afternoon I have open lab, which could mean a handful of knitters and/or a couple computer kids, or it could mean I’m sitting alone knitting. Either way I will be happy.

Then at 6:30 Brian and I will perform at Altus Ethiopian Cuisine as The Fabulous Heftones. A dance friend (Maya, the one who was dancing in the picture with Mom and I at the Habibi fundraiser just over a week ago) just called to tell me she will be there with a friend. I’m excited to know they are coming.

Catching Up

Thursday, October 23rd, 2003

Well, I’ve been a busy girl, but when I was home yesterday I was re-learning history on the Time site. Some of that was spooky, but the inspiring pieces were worth the “trip.”

New Purple Hat
So now I need to tell you what I’ve been up to. I finished a hat I started on my USM knit machine when Tony was here. It is in Woolpak yarn (the light worsted, I think they call it 9 ply but I’ve lost the ball band) in a very dark purple, almost black. I used the same pattern I tried last time when I used my turquoise handpainted yarn (which is slightly thicker) but since that hat didn’t have quite enough fabric in the top of the hat, I decided to hand-knit a ribbed hatband on the hat once I sewed it together (after coming off the machine). This is how the hats I buy look like they are constructed. I need to do that band on smaller needles next time, perhaps, but the concept worked really well and it fits fine, plus has a little extra fabric where I wanted it to have some.

It is gorgeous. The shape is exactly that of those berets I purchase in stores. The only thing wrong with it is that the store-bought hats are made of a much finer yarn, so they are more drapey. I am going to experiment with the USM and thinner yarns and see what I come up with. The machine theoretically knits sportweight to worsted yarns, but since I’m shrinking (fulling/felting) the knit item once it’s off the machine, if I can figure out the shrinking factor I should be able to create a pattern I like myself. This pattern has six sections and I would like mine to have twelve, ideally. It won’t have prominent corners that need to be rounded during shrinking, if I can figure out a way to do it with more sections.

Mid Michigan Knitting Guild
Tuesday was knit guild day. Tony and I went to the annual Show-And-Tell extravaganza, where everyone (and it is a big group) shows off anything they want to show, that they knit during the summer. The guild doesn’t meet from June-August so this is sort of a reunion meeting. Usually we have the show-off meeting in September but this year we had a Philosophers Wool trunk show in September so it was put off for one month. I had a pile of things to show as did several others. My items were small, though. It’s amazing how many sweaters and afghans some people can knit, and some of those women work full-time jobs and or are mommies as well.

Local Bloggers at Guild
I got to see several of Sarah Peasley/Handknitter‘s projects. She had more stitches accomplished than any of us this time, she has been incredibly prolific this summer. Her Mary Tudor sweater is just incredibly beautiful in real life, both as an artform and as a garment that makes the person wearing it look beautiful. I wish I had found time to get over to her table and see some of the lovelies she brought. There are so many people in the guild, and several brought me things for my CityKidz Knit! program, that I got tied up and never got over to say hi to her. Sigh… (Photo of guild, see how many folks there are? Tony is just left of center wearing a hat, and Sarah P. is the very far right person, paying full attention to the speaker while I was not.)

Bloggers Tracy/Sweatergirl, Debi/TrixieChick and Daphne/Serial Knitter were all there. I did get a chance to talk with Tracy a little bit, but I was bummed that I missed talking to Daphne.

Daphne brought a finished Koigu Charlotte’s Web Shawl and I really wanted to see it. I love Koigu more than any other yarn (though I have some in my stash so I’ve been good and have not purchased any in at least a year). I would adore a project mixing several colorways of Koigu, and wanted to see hers up close. I’m not sure I would wear a triangular shawl and I’m not sure I want to do any lace, but anything with Koigu could tempt me for a good while before deciding yes or no. I have enough to do right now, so that is a 2004 project if it happens at all.

Abundant CityKidz are Knitting!
Speaking of CityKidz Knit!, things are going great guns. Wednesday I had 14 kid knitters and two adult knitters besides myself. Today I had ten knitters. This pic is my Wednesday crowd. My group does change by the day.

I love this pic because I have four boys there, and three had not been around in a while. One boy was very excited to finish his wristband in one day. I was not confident he could do this, but by the time our session was up he had about four inches finished. At night, when I stopped by the computer room (I was at Habibi dance practice down the hall while Mr. Mike was working in the lab) and that lovely child was knitting again. He found the magic and was going for speed! Too funny.

In this picture I have fourteen lovely children and only four of them I had not seen in the last two weeks. All of them had visited my knit program at least once or twice at some time in the last year. This is a wonderful development. This summer I had a very transient crowd. I taught knitting for 8 weeks and had 32 children who came only one time. I had only one child who attended 6 sessions, and the rest came 5 or fewer, most of them 3 or fewer sessions. So I am really enjoying the continuity of the school-year crowd. I have younger kids this year, and I have more loyal kids. They are very enthusiastic and have all sorts of ideas.

Four of them have decided in the last week to try knitting in the round. Since all four of those kids celebrate Christmas, I suggested a Christmas stocking so that they don’t have to worry about it fitting and it will appear to go faster than a hat might. They are working top down on short circular needles, and will make a tube which will get a wedge toe and then we will add an afterthought heel. I have big hopes that at least a few of them will finish this fairly large project.

I have two other big dreamers who are doing well on bigger projects. One girl is knitting a top-down hat with mohair and a knit-along accent yarn, on double pointed needles. Another is on her third or fourth week of knitting and is most of the way through a backpack. She knit the bottom and the main body, learned to make eyelets for a drawstring, and is now knitting a top flap. She is really doing well and loving it. She says she knits even faster when watching TV. I’m glad she’s knitting while watching, that makes me feel good.

Planning New Projects
I stopped by Yarn for Ewe tonight after work. It was crowded, with two classes going on. That means the yarn shelves (which are on rollers) were pushed to the sides of the room to make space for tables/students. Wendy and I had a fun time adventuring between the students and the rolling shelves to find some Encore yarn in beeeeautiful colors for a little project I’m going to make soon as a gift (no more said until gift is given/received).

I also picked up two skeins of Noro Kureyon for a pair of maxi-legwarmers inspired by the Sally Melville Knit Stitch book. I am not as nuts over this yarn as some folks are, but the legwarmers are really colorful and I adore that. She uses two variegated colorways with very long repeats, and alternates them into subtly (randomly) striped fabric, and it is wonderful. I’m picky about color and lots of Kureyon has orange or yellow or brown, which I don’t want. However, tonight they had a turquoise/green/purple, colorway 40, so I got two skeins while they were available. (The pattern calls for 2 skeins of each colorway.)

The other day I was there and they had one skein of a hot pink to purple, but I needed two so I passed it by. I will keep looking as I travel from yarn shop to yarn shop (I’m loyal to all yarn shops, they all make me happy) and when I find that colorway I love, I’ll get it and make those legwarmers. (Anyone in Michigan know where I can find that hot pink/purple colorway? I prefer to buy at locally owned shops if at all possible.) Meanwhile, the skeins I got today will make me smile all by themselves. And this way I buy the legwarmers on the installment plan, so to speak… not all bad.

I think that Kureyon yarn almost looks prettier in the skein than knit up, if I may be so bold to say so. I would love a bouquet of it in a bowl or basket to decorate my table (if my table wasn’t already overburdened with the other yarns I’m currently using in projects). So beautiful!

Adventures in Cashmerino
Off to putz around with my Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino. I knit one mini- handwarmer with it and will do one more, then I will do the unthinkable. I’m going to throw them in the washer ***AND DRYER*** (this is not allowed according to the ball band, and I can find nobody who has tried it who will admit they did). I want to see how it comes out. I want to know if washable merino and microfiber with a little cashmere can handle the heat. My theory is that it will not shrink, but might fuzz or pill a bit. I’ll let you know how it works out.

80 Days

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

A friend sent me a link to Time magazine’s 80 Days That Changed the World. I have been reading ever since. I just found some knitting I could do without thinking at all, and I’m reading every single page. I’m up to December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus (go, Grrrl!).

Some of it is heavy stuff, with bombs and Hitler, McCarthyism and British troops in Africa. Some of it is entertainment, such as Mickey Mouse, Superman, I Love Lucy and Elvis. Some of it is inspiring, such as Jessie Owens, Gandhi, Jackie Robinson, the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Rosa Parks. The only problem with the site is on regular pages, all the links say is a date, not what the subject is on that date. So going back through dozens of pages I’ve already read to find the link to Jackie Robinson, for example, is a real chore. There is an index page, though, which is some help.

All of it is fascinating. I don’t want to do anything else but read this, and I will have a hard time going to bed on time tonight if I don’t finish reading it all.

Funny, I don’t much care for the mass media, particularly television. I feel that much of the news over-focuses and dramatizes things that need not be over-emphasized. (The kids at Foster Center were afraid they would be killed by last year’s sniper, even though there was no evidence Michigan was a target. I think their fear was because of seeing the story too much, and it was so dramatic that they took it personally.) I also feel that much is left out of the news that might balance things out. For one thing, good people do good deeds all the time and that is not considered news. When a friend left a suitcase on the Toronto subway, she got it back. Why is that sort of thing passed by in favor of human distress? But I digress…

I somehow had lots of history in school about the American Revolution. I got very little world history. So this site is fascinating to me. It gives me short bits of historical information about several different areas of the human experience (entertainment, science, national and international events). They are all on the same timeline so it helps me piece together several areas of history into one picture.

I do admit that I am easily upset and I should not have read about wars and assassinations before bedtime. I also know that much is not covered in one-page stories about merely 80 events since 1923. I found it engrossing, even with these weaknesses.

Another Purple House

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2003

I found another house in Lansing with Purple trim! Before this, I only knew about my house and my friend Ulyana’s house. I turned around in the middle of my trip across town, to take a picture. Isn’t it lovely?

Knitted Shoes!

Tuesday, October 21st, 2003

Go check out Interweave Knits’ website showing knitted shoes!

Inner Adolescent

Monday, October 20th, 2003

Well, my inner 13-year-old took over for a few minutes today. I have a lot of colors of nail polish, which I use to decorate/paint items in my life, such as my thermos or cell phone. I don’t like the feel of nail polish on my hands, it feels like my fingers can’t breathe. I resist putting it on for Habibi Dancers’ performances. I put it on at the very last minute, and it’s the first thing that comes off when I get home.

But not today. Today I painted my five left hand fingernails all with different colors of polish. By the time the one hand was done, I was done as well. I’m typing this note with one embellished hand and one au naturale. It’s starting to bug me, that feeling I don’t like, and the polish will be off soon. But for some reason, I just got overcome with the desire to graffitti my own self! Funny how our impulses go sometimes.

It was an amazing day. The sun shone and at 4:00 it was 77.7 degrees F. It was just plain gorgeous. I want to get out on that porch in the hammock for a few minutes before the sun sets tonight, but I only have another hour or so. I am preparing yarn for dyeing today, but I can measure out the yarn on the porch just as easily as indoors. This will be delightful.

I found a dandelion in the yard a couple of days ago and took a picture of it. It’s a sort of bedraggled flower, not very beautiful, but it’s a sign of summery good times to me and I am glad it peeked out.

Then today I found a violet blooming next to the back steps. I love the violets here. They are weeds but they are prettier than the grass they are growing in, and they are always the first thing to bloom in the early spring. The picture is good of the leaves but a little blurry of the bloom. You can see a fall leaf in the picture, sort of a spring/fall collage.

Off to the porch, after I find that nail polish remover!

An Afternoon with Tony

Monday, October 20th, 2003

Sunday I set aside for friendship. I was to have breakfast with Altu and then lunch and afternoon knitting with Tony. It turned out Altu had to reschedule for later this week, but I had a wonderful time with Tony (and got to sleep in, which I thoroughly enjoyed after two short nights).

Tony popped by in the early afternoon. He’s doing swatches to see if he can make a garter-stitch hemp sweater based on the baby sweater in Weekend Knitting. We surfed a little to see what kinds of yarn/twine he might use if he dives in. I am not much on plant fibers so I had never knit with hemp. He showed me two swatches, one before and one after submerging in water. It is sort of amazing how much that stuff puffs up. I guess it gets really soft but maintains its strength, after several washings. OK, so it’s brown (I know it comes in colors but that wasn’t what Tony had) and it’s not fuzzy soft like wool, mohair or alpaca. I just can’t love it, but I can see the attraction. I don’t like blue jeans, either. What can I do? I’m just who I am…

I showed Tony a bit about the USM (Ultimate Sweater Machine) knitting machine that I have on loan from the JoAnns where I teach. I did a little mini-demo and then set him loose on the thing with some acrylic worsted weight yarn. Neither of us really likes acrylic but hey, if you use up half a skein practicing on something you will never use, there is no heartbreak losing the yarn as there is with stash yarns.

While he was learning all the possible “hiccups” there might be with a knitting machine, I made us pumpkin soup. We took a break for lunch and ate the soup plus some Irish soda bread he made for us in his bread machine. He likes to experiment with lots of types of bread. It was a bit of a challenge for him to change his soda bread recipe to not have buttermilk (which I can’t have) and a few other things, so the bread was very dense but it was quite satisfying. (Link above is to my mother’s soda bread recipe.) Toast, tea, and soup, with a friend. How ideal is that?

After lunch we went back to the machine. I started a new beret with some very dark purple woolpak yarn from New Zeeland (I got it at Yarn for Ewe over a year ago). It is about a DK or light worsted weight, and I think it will shrink up perfectly.

I would have done better with a lighter color of yarn, so we could see the stitches better as I was explaining. However, I wanted that to be my next hat and figured I would “kill two birds with one stone” that way. So I showed Tony how to follow a machine knitting pattern with short rows, using the hat pattern.

After he left I finished knitting the hat and kitchener stitched the two long ends together so it looked hatlike. I added a small I-cord at the top of the hat. Now I just have to sew a small hem for the hat band and put some cotton yarn in that hem so that I can snug it up to the exact size of my head before fulling/shrinking it. Therefore, I have two more things to make it right: sew hem, shrink. Should be possible by tomorrow night. It is so dark (almost black) it may not photograph well at all, we will see.

Saturday I played with knitting a new yarn, making a small item as a sort of swatch. It is a sort of secret (I’m already preparing for holidays and my family and friends read this blog) but I liked the yarn and didn’t like what I made out of it. I think a few adjustments will make it good, though. A good yarn goes a long way in making a project succeed. I need to just tweak a small detail and I think this will be lovely. Maybe that will be tomorrow’s project.

Picture today is the Mt. Hope Cemetery at Aurelius. I pass this cemetery on the way home from Foster Center sometimes. It is bicycling distance from our house, perhaps 2 miles. It’s an old fashioned, lovely cemetery with a few hills in our mostly-flat city. I thought the colors were quite nice. I Hope you like it.

A Good Saturday

Sunday, October 19th, 2003

It was a good Saturday. Saturday is usually a workday for me, during the school year, but it’s usually enjoyable. I don’t like getting up earlier than usual, and I do on Saturdays, but the sun shone today and my classroom has wonderful windows. I even opened the windows in the afternoon, when it had warmed up a bit.

I had a computer class for two people (what a change after having 9 people on Thursday) and we had a blast! I ran over to a client on my lunch hour (she lives about 5 blocks from the center) to take a part out of her computer so I could know what to buy to replace it. Then I ran back to Foster for my two-hour computer lab/sometimes-knitting-lab.

I was alone for perhaps 45 minutes in the lab (it was so pretty outside many of our kids were playing outside… in fact the kids across the street were amusing themselves stuffing their hats and coats full of fall leaves and calling themselves scarecrows). Then the kid who comes to see me most often came in, a boy from the neighborhood who is a delight. He likes computers a bit better than knitting but he does both.

Then my dear knitting friend, Tony, came by. I had invited him to stop in but had not expected him to come. He had recited a to-do list that was quite long for the weekend and we are planning to play with the knitting machine tomorrow afternoon already. But there he was, with a couple of books in hand (he always has a new book, it seems) and some ideas for knitting this or that project.

He has a fairisle sweater partly knit that he has decided to turn into a pillow (I think that is a great idea) and we talked about how he might steek the sweater into two pieces so that he could use a plain back and get two pillows. Maybe even machine knit the backs. Perhaps throw the knitting in the washing machine and full/shrink it. I think this is a great idea. Tony loves starting things and doesn’t stay interested long enough to finish sweaters, for the most part. Might as well use what you have completed in a way that shows it off well!

He also brought the Weekend Knitting book by Melanie Falick (isn’t she good at books?) which has wonderful projects in it. There is a baby sweater in there, knit in DK weight hemp yarn, that is garter stitch from side to side for the sweater body, but the sleeves are knit with the garter stitches going from shoulder to cuff. This seems to me less likely to stretch all out of shape than a cuff-to-cuff garter sideways-knit sweater. It looks great. We talked about how to perhaps take that idea and make an adult sweater (for Tony). It was fun thinking of possibilities.

I was so glad Tony came by when my neighborhood boy was in the room. I really love this child, he’s a thoughtful and kind boy who is about age 11. He’s very smart and figures out the computer games really quickly, and is always willing to help other kids who need assistance with games he has already mastered.

Well, I know that the knitting boys (including this child) tend to only want to knit if there is another boy knitting in the room. I have told them about Tony but only two of the girls have met him so far. I was thrilled that Tony and I sat down and dove into knitting projects for over an hour, while this boy listened and observed. He got to see first hand that yes, men do knit, and enthusiastically at that.

I was delighted when the boy sat down with us and started to cast on for a new project. Tony asked him what he was making and he thought it would probably be a scarf (white acrylic). But he may never finish the project… he just felt comfortable enough that he could knit with Tony the Dude Knitter in the room. And that made me feel very good. I cherish my boy knitters, and this one is particularly special.

Oh, after the lab I went back to the client’s house and finished fixing her computer problems (she had the blaster worm, and while I was there fixing that I noticed that her cooling fan was on its last legs so we replaced that, too). She was so very grateful.

I just love working for people who value what I know. Among the geeks I hang out with, I’m sort of normal, not a hot-shot but I know plenty enough to be a good team member. However, what I have over other geeks is that I am really good at translating computerese (I call it “Martian”) into English for scared retired women. And they love me for it. This woman was delighted to write me a check for doing my job (rounded it up, how sweet was that) and I was delighted to work for her. If only all work was that pleasant.

I took this photo in the Groesbeck neighborhood, just North of Foster center’s Eastside neighborhood. This is a street very near where my client lives. We are so lucky, we have had an extra week of color and sunshine than was expected. I, for one, am drinking up every single color.