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Archive for November, 2003

Singing to the Baby

Saturday, November 15th, 2003

Well, today I taught a computer class at Foster Center in the morning. Then this afternoon I had open computer lab but I had as many knitters as I did computer folks. I had a new knitter today, and it turns out she goes to Sharon P’s school (Sharon is teaching some of her kids to knit, she’s a counselor at a local elementary school). This child had never knit before but did a pretty decent job of it. She was hoping to learn to knit from Sharon this week, so maybe I made Sharon’s job a little easier for her.

After Foster Center I went to Altu’s restaurant just to touch base with Altu. We seem to both be so busy running our respective businesses that we never seem to get our own quality time. We had hoped to take an overnight trip somewhere reasonably close (Chicago, Toronto and Mackinac Island were discussed as possible destinations) this summer. It is no longer summer and I have no weekends available until January now. Relationships are so important, it’s a shame when the maintenance of regular life tasks keeps us from connecting with those we really enjoy. I hope we will at least get a breakfast out one of these days, and we can try again in the new year to do a weekend.

I ran home in time to check my email and then Brian arrived. We went back out to Altu’s to listen to Clavel perform. They do the music of the Spanish-speaking Americas, particularly Mexico and the Andes mountains of Peru, Ecuador, and neighboring areas. Wonderful stuff. This group has only three members, but it seems every single song requires a different set of three or four instruments to accompany it. The youngest member of the band is eleven years old, I believe. She plays percussion, mostly drums but sometimes maracas. Her young face does attract attention, but she is a very good musician and an asset to the group.

There was a couple there who had a very young baby. They had just arrived in town from New York state, as he was going to have a job interview on Monday. The child was really enjoying the music, it was very clear. So the band came right over and serenaded the baby with a lovely waltz in Spanish. Mommy held baby and they sort of danced to the waltz. It was a beautiful scene. I hope the picture does it justice.

We enjoyed talking with this couple. It made me pleased that they had found what I consider the best thing going on a Saturday night in Lansing, as their first impression of our town. They did say that they had tried Ethiopian food in several cities across the country (including San Francisco) but Altus was really the best. I feel the same way, I’ve had Ethiopian food from four other places but Altu has a sense of flavor that not everyone can attain.

Speaking of flavor, I mentioned here earlier that I had harvested my sage herb plant before the frost this week. I gave some to Tony, some to Garnett who is my Habibi Dancers’ director and co-worker at Foster Center, and today a small handful to Altu. Actually, on Thursday I gave one leaf to each knitting kid, as they were fascinated that a leaf might be food/flavor. They kept smelling their leaves, it was cute.

The rest of the sage is drying in my kitchen. I looked for fried sage leaf recipes but they all seem to be deep fried with a batter, often a batter I can not eat, and I’m not good at frying foods. So I will have to figure out a different way to enjoy this sage. Usually I use it up by putting it in soups I make throughout the winter. That is an excellent way to use it, and it reminds me of summer every time I do.

More Handpainted ColorJoy Yarns

Friday, November 14th, 2003

Well, I’m tired but I have my new web page up and running. For those of you who were not able to get the Seaside colorway of my signature yarn, Cushy ColorSport, I have a handful of new colorways in this yarn. One skein makes a medium-sized woman’s pair of socks with typical cuff length.

All pages, for yarn, roving, my sock patterns and my LynnH SockTour, are now linked from my main page. That page is alternately called http://ColorJoy.com or http://LynnH.com

Or, if you want to go to the yarns directly, go to http://ColorJoy.com/forsale

I’m tired and off to bed. See you back here, before you know it.

This ‘n That

Thursday, November 13th, 2003

Well, today I ran over to Woven Art in East Lansing, to catch Sarah Peasley. I got to see Nancy McRay (owner of Woven Art) who I’ve not seen in a long time, and Sarah who I had not seen since the last knitting guild nearly a month ago. Sarah is going to Threadbear fiberarts this weekend (to teach, I think) and she is going to take something to Matt and Rob for me. She’ll bring me back something as well, I hope.

When I was there I got the new Interweave Knits Magazine. It was the first time I’d had a chance to buy it. I love that magazine, it’s a class act even when I don’t want to knit any sweaters at all. Sometimes I want to *wear* the sweaters in the magazine, but I almost never want to knit them. This time there is a garter stitch striped sweater that I think a couple of my CityKidz could knit successfully. I’m delighted about that!

I particularly like the articles Interweave puts toward the back of the magazine, where staff members do their own take on a basic pattern. I’m delighted with the articles about gloves this month. I have been knitting gloves and wristwarmers off and on since January, and more options will be good to play with as I continue.

In addition, one of my CityKidz decided to start mittens today so I will have to figure out how best to get her going on the thumb when it comes time for that. She had never purled before and had never done ribbing but was doing a very fine job. I had her do K3P1 so that she could see more clearly what she was doing (and I love that rib anyway). She had also never used double pointed needles except for I-cord (this is my girl who made the backpack last week) so she got to learn three new things today (purling, ribbing, and circular knitting with double points).

She realized that she would have to do the ribbing slowly at first but was doing a great job when she had to leave. When I see her next week she will be ready to start the thumb. I think I’ll have her do an afterthought thumb (like Norwegian star mittens) so we won’t have to count stitches and increase at different intervals each row. That may be enough to not be enjoyable for her. When she wants to do a hat, we can deal with that, I figure. I sometimes forget how new she is at knitting, not even two months yet.

After knitting, I taught a very successful computer class at Foster Center. I had 8 people sign up and 7 showed up (I will have to call the other woman, as she has been a regular this term). We covered so much material we almost are where I like to be after the second session (this is a four session class). It is a basic spreadsheet/database class, using Excel. We had a great time. I really love teaching… I’m so glad that my classes are filling up so well again. After almost a year of seriously declining enrollment, this term my classes are going very well again. That makes for a very happy Lynn!

I’m still fighting a headache, but it’s better today than yesterday. It snowed a little today and that helped with the mildew overload. It was good to be distracted most of the day. These headaches usually last two or three days maximum, so I’m hoping it will be gone tomorrow.

At least it was sunny much of the day. We had incredible gusting winds, but it was very pretty with the sunshine. I guess counting the little blessings is the key to happiness, and sunshine is a big blessing some days.

New yarns coming soon. Off to the studio.

Another Proud CityKidz Knit! Day

Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

Well, today I woke up with a headache that makes me want to shave my head… maybe less weight from my hair would make the headache lessen. This used to happen a lot, but I haven’t had one of these in months. It was nice to forget what they were like for a while…

It was predictable, as November is always my worst month for allergies. Today it was practically warm for November, a balmy 60 degrees F. The fallen wet leaves were producing mildew very happily, which was attacking my head and sinuses. I got up for a little while, felt crummy, was lucky enough that I could go back to bed. I took a nap for a whole 2 hours. I must have really needed it.

The good news was that once I got to Foster Center, the CityKidz Knit! program fully distracted me for an hour and a half or so. I just love these kids. They make my day, my week, my life. Here they are showing off the projects of the day. I’m missing two kids in the pic but you get the idea.

I’m still working toward putting up a new yarn sale web page in time for the Socknitter Ad Day on Saturday. That means I want to put it up for you folks on Friday. I have to be at JoAnn Fabrics on Friday morning and I don’t know how long I’ll be there. Cross fingers for me that it all gets done on time. I wish this headache was gone, I could go much faster if I just felt better. I guess I can count my blessings it’s only an allergy headache I have to complain about today, really.

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and maybe the next day. I’m practically cold-phobic (hence my adoration of wool, mohair and alpaca) but this time I’m all for it. The headache will likely go away when it freezes outside. I’ll just dig out the alpaca sox and a good pair of legwarmers, and I’ll deal with it.

Because of the impending snow, I harvested the last of my sage herb plant today. My friend Tony took some the other day, and Altu enjoyed some last year and says she’d love some more. The rest I will share with students and if there is any more I will dry the remainder. I put a little in some lentil soup I made yesterday… but I have enough to flavor soup for the whole city of Lansing, it seems. I’m not a great gardener, but sage comes up every year on its own and it really likes the location where I put it about 3 years ago. Lucky me!

Busy Colorizing Yarns

Tuesday, November 11th, 2003

I’ve been busy the last few days producing a few more colorways of my Cushy ColorSport yarns. Here is a picture of some new yarn drying.

I did see my Mom yesterday and that was very nice. She raised such strong, independent children that she doesn’t see us very much, even when she’s in town. We had a nice chat and I marked her hem on a colorful dress (where did I get that?) she wanted to hem properly. I also checked out a problem she has been having with her email since she got a new computer. I think that is fixed as well.

Mostly, though, my focus for several days is going to be more yarns. The Socknitters email list has an ad day on the 15th. I’m trying to replenish my stock before that day hits, so that I can announce to them. You will hear it here first…

Back to the studio.

A Summer Photo as it Chills

Monday, November 10th, 2003

I am dyeing yarn today so won’t have much time to post. Therefore, I am sharing with you a photo of a beautiful garden maybe ten blocks from my home in Lansing.

I took this picture in the summer but haven’t had a chance to share it with you folks yet. There are very few hills in Lansing, but this house is on one slope. The yard sure takes advantage of the contour (although the photo does make it look more steep than it really is).

What a lovely spot it is. There is something inviting about ivy and red brick, anyway, you know?

Busy Sunday

Sunday, November 9th, 2003

I had a very busy Sunday and had to skip a few possible activities to stay sane. Tony came over for tea and later some blackeyed pea salad. We knitted and talked about knitting and other topics. He is test knitting some different types of hemp twine and yarn. I was working on a toddler sweater on the Ultimate Sweater Machine.

I missed the knit in at Nancy McRay’s shop entirely because Tony and I were having such a lovely time that I stayed home and enjoyed that. I actually don’t feel that comfortable in groups (I know that sounds odd because I go to so many) so given the choice of one good friend and a cup o’tea, versus a group of folks, some of whom I wouldn’t know, I stayed with Tony. I missed seeing Sarah Peasley and surely a few other Lansing knit guild buddies but I”ll see them soon anyway.

Our friends Jim Hall and Cindy Morgan also had a bash at the Creole Gallery in Old Town to celebrate their new CD release. I really would have loved to go to that, but it overlapped my knitting machine committment at Yarn for Ewe so I went there and finished a sleeve on my toddler sweater and learned a bunch of good things about machine knitting.

When I was done at Yarn for Ewe, I went to Working Women Artists, at Bare Bone Studios (half a block from Creole Gallery). My friend Marlene Cameron was giving a slide presentation about her trip to Thailand, and all the amazing beautiful color and artful things she saw there. I had seen some of her slides but many of these were different (and the stories were different) so it was very worthwhile and enlightening. We had one of the best crowds we have had in a while for WWA, about 10 or a dozen. We even had a dude, Jane’s sweetie Tim. We all know him well and he was most welcome, but we did tease him and congratulate him on breaking the gender barrier to the Working Women Artists group!

Mom was there, too, and it was good to see her. She was wearing some sox I knit for her a while back. She can’t wear wool sox much in Florida (it was 83 there Sunday) so she wears them when she can up here.

I guess Sunday was a lesson in being human. We just can not do every cool thing we want to do, you know? The things I did accomplish I enjoyed very much.

“Halloween Sox” for Brian

Saturday, November 8th, 2003

When we were at Midwest Ukefest, I finished this pair of sox for Brian. I finished them on Halloween, sort of perfect for the colorway.

The yarn was a gift to me from Rob and Matt of Threadbear Fiberarts. It is Meilenweit sockyarn, something I’d not tried before. I liked it.

I made the sox top down with an afterthought/peasant heel. I marked the place where the heel belonged, with waste yarn on half the stitches and continued to knit a tube , finishing the toe. Then I went back, pulled out the waste yarn, and knit heels. I reknit one toe twice to get the stripes to match well. I reknit the heels several times to get them to look about right as well. I’m very pleased. I love how self-striping yarns look with an afterthought heel, there is no distortion on the front of the instep.

Oh, you can’t see it much here, but even though I knit from the inside of the ball for both sox, the stripes came out in a different order. I lined up the navy stripes on both sox to keep some sameness, but one toe ends in green and one toe ends in orange. It looks interesting but not bad at all.

Brian says they fit perfectly. Woohoo! More afterthought heels are coming his way.

CityKidz: a Good Week

Thursday, November 6th, 2003

Well, my CityKidz Knit! program is progressing beyond my wildest dreams. I had a great week. Yesterday I had 14 kids and today I had eight. They don’t all stay the whole time, but they keep plugging right along.

I have a few kids working on knitting in the round. One is working on a beautiful mohair hat, and two are making Christmas stockings. The kids working on stockings are fairly new knitters, and they are doing very well. We are going to make afterthought heels, and both kids have already knit in some waste yarn to mark where their heels will be inserted afterward. This is a great way to learn about socks without worrying about gauge and working on tiny needles. I do have a few kids who don’t celebrate Christmas, but these two do, and so this project worked out nicely for them.

But the big delight this week came from my relatively new knitter who has sort of taken off as though she always knew how to knit. I think she is 11 years old, in 6th grade. She has been with me either five or six weeks. The first week she made a wristband and she hasn’t turned back since. She made a little purse as the second project, I think, and a small hat for her Raggedy Ann doll. Then she determined she wanted to make a backpack. I have walked her through making a backpack, mostly using Melanie Falick’s Kids Knitting book (I do change a few things so that I think it will be easier for the kids, but the basic proportions and look are out of the book.

The backpack project has a lot of techniques in it. First they make a garter stitch rectangle as the bottom of the bag (I have them learn to knit back and forth on circular needles, a new thing for my kidz). Then I have them learn to pick up stitches (the book has you sew the sides and bottom together at the end but this keeps them from twisting the stitches on the circular needle and getting a moebius strip). Then they learn to knit circularly until they need eyelets for their drawstring. For the eyelets I teach “Knit two together, yarn over” and how to count stitches (the book does it differently). They knit a few more rows and then bind off more than half the stitches, starting to knit back and forth on circs in garter stitch again. Oh, and there is a buttonhole in there toward the end of the flap.

Then they get the magic of learning I-cord (a tube of knitting made on double pointed needles). The kids love making I-cord. And then after the I-cord is made (they need three, the way I teach them… two for the shoulder straps and one for the drawstring). So this is a pretty adventurous thing for a kid to choose as her third project, but I was sure she could handle it so we went right ahead.

Last week, she not only came back asking for the next directions on how to make her backpack, but she showed me the wristwarmers she had made. I had made a sample wristwarmer in my classroom so kids could see they could make that project. It is just a rectangle of garter stitch, folded over and sewn together in two places, one long seam for the wrist and then stop in time for a thumbhole. Then at the top edge another tiny seam above the thumbhole. Well, this girl not only made them that way, she decided to sew together parts of the top edge so that she had finger holes for all her fingers. And she made them without any instruction from me. She just saw what I made, and made her own. She’s going far, soon.

Today this same child brought me a doll she made out of yarn. One of the other girls decided to put the doll down for a nap, and so we took my own wristwarmers and put them down as a bed, and let the doll rest. Then after the doll had taken her nap, this second child sat the doll down and was teaching the doll how to knit, by saying the little poem to the doll as they knit together.

Oh, and second child has come a long way in about 3 weeks. She used to only finger crochet, she found knitting difficult. I then got her a knitting rake to start a hat. Next thing you know, she wants to make a Christmas stocking in the round. I go right ahead with this idea. She came back today with about 3″ knit, and she switched colors of yarn. Then she asked me “Ms. Lynn, will you teach me how to knit like you do, the way they knit in Germany?” So this kiddo learned to knit continental, with me showing her how to do it only once. She likes it better than the American way. She enjoyed telling people today that she was knitting German (I did teach her the word “continental” but that was harder to remember than German, I guess).

Another great stride happened this week with my child who has had difficulty with boundaries. She used to grab things away from people and she would say “I want that, can I have that?” I would tell her that I had plenty to go around but that her actions and words needed to be gentler. That she needed to ask before touching someone else’s property. We have been working for a while on this. Well, last week she started catching herself about half way to grabbing things, and then she would ask to touch. I noticed, and congratulated her on the change.

Well, today we had a new boy in the group. And he started to touch my eyelash-yarn stole I started yesterday. Of course, he did! It is so touchable and so irresistable, I can understand. Well, formerly-grabby girl turned to him and informed him that he needed to ask before he touched that, because it was not his. Woohoo! I’m getting through to these kids. Mind you, the reason they grab is because they are enthusiastic. I’m trying to encourage the enthusiasm but make the room a safe place for everyone.

Enjoy the pictures of my kids. First is the backpack, up close and personal. Then a small shot of the knitter wearing her pack. Doll taking nap, doll being taught how to knit. It was definitely a good week for CityKidz Knit!

My Beee-utiful Koigu!

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

KoiguHere is a picture of the yarn I got yesterday, thanks to my brother and his lovely, creative wife. It’s Koigu Painters Palette Premium Merino (PPPM) in colorway P140, dye lot 17. I got it from Knit A Round on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor. Last I asked, they did not have a website.

You know, every day I get more frustrated with the limitations of color on the computer screen. Turquoise is nearly impossible, thought purples and fuschia/hot pink are better. Unfortunately, turquoise is my favorite color. The only disappointments I’ve ever had buying online have been attempts to purchase turquoise yarns. Sigh…

That said, this is mostly a spring green with colors ranging from hot yellow-green to aqua/turquoise. Then there are accents of a sort of pumpkin. I have admired this colorway for a long time but kept thinking it wasn’t really my colors (for years my dislike of orange was deep, though it’s fading now). However, my fondness for this colorway has not faded over time. With my gift certificate from Eric and Diana, I was able to indulge.

I really love Koigu socks. Lately I have been knitting more sox for others than for myself. I know that has been my choice, and I adore making Brian and Mom (and Diana) sox they appreciate. But I’ve worn through some of the sox I have knit for myself, and I don’t do handwashing as often as I could. That means I wear commercial sox far too often. I started a solid fuschia pair yesterday and perhaps I will do this Koigu after that? I do have two more promised pair for others, and a pair almost done for Diana, but I try to alternate a little for me and a little for other folks.

Of course, I’ve been spending more time dyeing lately which takes away from spinning, machine knitting and handknitting at home. Life is full of choices and I’m OK with the ones I’m making.

But isn’t this yarn just gorgeous? It makes me happy just looking at it and touching it. I think I’ll keep it on my desk for a good long while as a stress reliever, even if I can’t get right to the knitting of it.

My, I’m a Busy Grrl!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

I’m delighted at the response I’ve had on my yarns. It sure is keeping me busy, writing people about shipping and confirming sales, on top of my other activities. It is a very high class problem, and I’m not complaining. It’s clear that I need to get into that dye studio again soon! I do have a new shipment of yarn so I’m ready to go.

Tonight I went to Borders in Ann Arbor. As always, it was a lively and wonderful event. So many good people are there, it’s hard to talk to them all. I do get inspired by the show and tell there. And the people are just so fun to talk with, I could stay till 3am if they would let me! Tony couldn’t go with me this time, which was a disappointment. However, I’ve seen him several times lately and his schedule would have made us leave a little later than I did.

The good thing about leaving a few minutes earlier, is that I got to Knit A Round yarn shop 15 minutes before they closed. Bless them, I always bomb in there just as they are about ready to call it a day, but I’m out of town and that’s how it goes. They are kind, and they always remember me by name. They even remember my brother Eric when he comes in (he’s purchased me yarn several times there, what a guy).

I had a gift certificate from Eric and his wife Diana, for our Christmas exchange that we had early (last week). I knew that this shop had a big collection of Koigu PPPM yarn last I was there. They also had some of the new Koigu, I think it’s called Kristi. It is DK weight and came in lovely colors… but it’s handwash, and I just couldn’t do that this time. I need washable socks right now, it seems all of my handknits are handwash and I don’t wear them as much that way.

So I got a beautiful spring green colorway I’d admired for a while, in the washable PPPM yarn that is the signature yarn for Koigu. It isn’t my typical color range, but the intensity is the same as my more common favorites. And maybe this colorway will make me feel springlike during the upcoming winter! I’m already dreading winter, even though today it was 66F in the evening. I only saw sun for a few minutes but it was warm and that was perhaps good enough.

I started a simple one-color pair of sox for myself in a hot fuschia Special Blauband, yesterday. I have about 2.5″ done on both sox thus far. I’m in a mood to start and finish things quickly lately. No sweaters for a while, as long as I’m in this mood! I need to get back to the knit machine, too. I have another hat in my head… who knows when I’ll have time to do it, but I’m inspired.

Here are some pics of the Polymer clay class that I taught for the Eastside Handweavers Guild (I hope I got that name right) this Sunday. Pictures thanks to Karen Krause.

Wool/Mohair Rovings are Up!

Monday, November 3rd, 2003

Well, I sure have had a packed week or so! I had great fun at the Polymer clay class on Sunday and do have pictures to share. I also want to tell you more about Ukefest, which was just an incredible experience. But I’m still running short on sleep and long on the to-do list, and that will have to wait.

Today one of my big accomplishments, is that I finished up my web pages for my handpainted wool/mohair rovings. You can see them at:

http://ColorJoy.com/forsale/yarns4.htm

There are three pages of rovings now, and three pages of yarns (some of which have sold already). When you get to the final page of the rovings it will point you to the first page of yarns, and around and around the cycle of six pages until you are tired of looking.

I’m really pleased with these fibers. I think that they will make wonderful handspun yarns for socks, but they will also work for wet felting or needlefelting.

Borders Buddies?
I will be at Borders (Arborland) in Ann Arbor tomorrow night, approximately 7pm to 10pm. I hope to see some of you there. Tony can’t make it this time (boo hoo) but at least I got to see him today for a while. (Jillian??? Are you bringing baby Henry???)

I’m off to bed… sigh…

No Mail

Saturday, November 1st, 2003

Our hotel in Indianapolis has a really fast internet connection, for surfing and downloading mail. Unfortunately, I am unable to send mail out.

If any of you wrote me, I won’t be able to return your message until I get home. Since I am teaching polymer clay in the Detroit Area on Sunday, you may not get a note until Sunday night. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me!

Update #1 from Midwest Ukefest

Saturday, November 1st, 2003

We are at Ukefest and it is pretty darned wonderful. Ukulele players are by and large fun and optimistic people, and it’s sort of amazing to feel the energy of being in a group of uke players this large. We got to re-meet Jim and Liz Bieloff, who we met a few years ago when we opened for Jim at the Creole gallery. We are also meeting lots of great folks.

Today we got to Indianapolis just before 3pm, and they were collecting names for an open mike session starting at 4pm. We signed up for the 10th slot out of 12. I love open mikes, there is such variety and I enjoyed everything I saw and heard (including a middle-school aged boy who played uke and harmonica).

Of course it was exciting, because our act (three songs) went over very well. I love playing on stage, and I particularly like it when a room full of people are clapping really enthusiastically! It turned out that the open mike was short a few acts so at the end we were asked to do two more numbers. That is always courting danger, because the rule is to always leave stage before people start wondering when you will leave! However, it worked just great and we got so many enthusiastic comments it made me feel really good.

In the evening there was a three-hour concert of really fine musicians. I hadn’t seen many of them before but that isn’t because they weren’t around… it is because I was not around. I did know Jim and Liz. Here is a picture of them singing together as Jim played in his impeccable uke style.

After the concert, many of us went to a local restaurant for dessert and a jam session. It was wonderful fun. The last two pictures here are folks jamming, and several of us at a table, at the restaurant. Far left is Brian, with Stan Werbin (of Elderly Instruments) next to him. Then there are two ladies and a gentleman who were kind to me but whose names I do not know. Following that is Jeff, the organizer of the Ukefest, and then Jim and Liz Bieloff. Don’t they look happy? I’m very pleased with this picture.