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Archive for January, 2004

Abbott Brothers in the News!

Saturday, January 31st, 2004

Wowie, this Thursday our band, Abbott Brothers, got a very nice writeup in Sarah Stollak’s column in the Lansing State Journal. It’s in the weekly What’s On section which focuses on the arts, particularly performing arts.

Sarah is a musician and also a knitter. No wonder we enjoy one another and keep running into one another in town! You can read her column at LSJ.com Online. She focuses on three different performances this week, and we are the third, so scroll down a bit!

This article came out this week because Abbott Brothers are playing at Altu’s again on Saturday night (that is today), from 6:30 to 8:30 (dinnertime, not the common later hours at many venues). Anyone out there want to come and say hi, and have a great time? Altu’s is on Michigan Avenue, right next door to The Dollar in a small building with three businesses in it (across from the Honda dealer). It’s the last building in East Lansing, the Dollar is in Lansing, very near Frandor.

Abbott Brothers is a band which started in the late 1970’s and for a good long while in the 1980’s had a regular weekly performance gig at the Old World restaurant in East Lansing. My second date with Brian about 8 years ago, was to go with him to an Abbott Brothers jam session. Of course, Brian made sure I learned to play Heftone bass and so I ended up jamming and performing with the band myself. I’m the newest member, I have only been with the band for a little over seven years.

Each member of the band has a particular style or styles of music they love most, and so there is a wonderful collage of good-time music when we play together. In the picture, from left to right:
Bob plays guitar and has a great collection of swing and jazzy numbers. I play the Heftone and sing mostly retro 1920’s and bluesy numbers, Brian plays ukulele and plays a good variety, from original instrumentals to 20’s tunes to rags from earlier yet. Although Dick won’t be performing with us tonight, he’s a great guitar player who loves jug band music and some contemporary songs. Barbara Abbott plays piano and violin and likes country and gospel, and traditional/jug band tunes. Larry plays harmonica and sings high-energy music from Hank Williams to Elvis.

As Sarah points out in her article, the only Abbott in the band is Barbara, and none of the guys are brother to any other in the band. When the band was formed, Barbara was the only woman in the group. It wasn’t meant to make sense… OK? Maybe that helps you see we are in this for fun, a good time.

Please join us, and say hello! If you have not tried Ethiopian food yet, there is a good variety, from meat to beans, from mild to spicy. Traditionally you use a springy sourdough-like flat bread to pick up bits of the thick stews and eat with your fingers, but you can request a bed of rice if you wish, and a fork. Charles (Altu’s brother in law, the man who handles the front end most) will be sure to explain it all to you when you get there, so you’ll pick something you are likely to really enjoy.

I hope you come out. We’d love to have you join us.

Miracle on Foster Street

Friday, January 30th, 2004

Yesterday I was informed that a local, prominent law firm (Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith) will soon be donating 15 Pentium-two class machines with Windows XP licenses to my classroom at Foster Center. I have had nothing donated since 1999 other than a few individual machines from home users. Since my budget is significantly less per year than it would cost to buy even one used machine, I depend on donations to keep things going, with very occasional grant money.

The equipment I have been using for many years is sorely out of date. I do have about two dozen machines, and I am grateful for every one of them. I still have 2 machines with Windows 3.1 (they are used for playing games), four which have Red Hat Linux, and all but two or three of the others have Windows95. I have about seven 486-class machines, and the rest are slow Pentiums (not Pentium II, III or IV). Most of my machines have 20MB of RAM memory and the hard drives are so small as to be considered obsolete five years ago. The new machines have 256MB memory and 6GB hard drives. Now, this may not be big for a business user, but it’s more than I need right now and it will keep me in the running for a good many more years.

I’m a bit beside myself. This brings me up to relatively current equipment when I was really falling behind and my machines were all sort of deciding to break at once. One can’t do sound, two have intermittent problems reading the CD, one CD won’t open from physical problems, one machine keeps rebooting for no reason. I’m so grateful for the gift. It will take a while for the machines to get to my room, but they are coming, and I am grateful.

I used to do some legal secretarial work (as a temp, for about a year), although not trained specifically in that field. I know that for a law firm of this type, they need the newest and best equipment available, as they are one of the most efficient and time-crunched businesses there are. Legal secretaries just crank out documents all day long, and they must be absolutely accurate or there can be legal consequences. I can see why these machines may not be seen as useful to a law firm. They are heaven to my neighborhood center, however.

Thank you to Foster Swift, and thanks to whoever it was who let them know I could use the equipment. I am grateful.

Knitting Beige
Yesterday I knit about half of the sample bag for my JoAnn Fabrics basic knitting class. It’s knit in Lion Brand Woolease Thick and Quick (extra bulky, about 2 stitches an inch). I thought I would not like this yarn, but it actually is very satisfying as a fabric when knit up. I don’t like knitting on size 15 US straight needles, though… they flail around in the air near my elbows and it just is not very comfortable.

The yarn is sort of a natural cream color with bits of darker fiber in crimpy texture to make it look more wooly. I am no fan of natural colors but for now I’m liking it just fine. I’m not sure I love the pattern, it’s sort of an envelope purse that is wider than tall and I don’t know how it will hold its shape. However, it does have all the things one needs to learn, and that is why the corporation has chosen it for the class project.

Later today Tony is planning to come by and we figure we will work on my two knitting frames/machines, one on either end of my little table in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll start those longjohns after all.

Off Jumps Jack!

Thursday, January 29th, 2004

Wednesday was still snowy. I cancelled my retiree computer class, as two of the four people were from out of town and generally my retirees don’t like to drive in bad weather or the dark. We’ll do it another day.

On the way to Foster Center, my car got stuck in the street right outside my driveway. Our drive is on a side road since we live on a corner, and that road is only about a block and a half long. They did plow it once early last night, but I think that was the last time it was plowed and my car just could not back out fast enough to keep from bogging down in the many inches of snow. Ugh. Fortunately I could just kick the snow away from behind the tires, get in and move a foot or two, get out and kick the snow away again, and I got free. It could have been much worse. The main roads are not bad, and the highways are now just wet because of the huge amount of salt they put on them, but the side streets were just a bear to get through.

Anyway, I did go to Foster for my computer lab (nobody came so I knit on my stole a bit), and CityKidz Knit! I had four girls there who were delivered by a mom, and then I had three little neighborhood boys who are new. Two of the boys had knit with me once before, and one was totally new. They are young… the oldest-looking one told me his 8th birthday is tomorrow. I had to keep repeating the poem to them, and gave them each their own printed out poem to keep in front of them for a reminder when I had to answer questions from the girls.

Well, at the end of each row they had extra stitches I had to fix, but I would get them back to the five they started with (they start with a wristband on 5 stitches) and they would start again. They love the poem, especially the last line, “…and Off Jumps Jack!”

Here’s the poem again for those who missed it before:

UP through the front door,
dance AROUND the back,
DOWN through the window,
and OFF jumps Jack!!!

I just adore my kidz. They make my day… I often wonder if I am doing the right thing with my worklife, but when I’m with the CityKidz Knit! group, I don’t wonder. I love them, they know it without saying a thing, and they come back even when things are imperfect. I sort of need to learn something from the kids about that… imperfection is not a reason to quit, you know?

KnitDad was Right!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2004

Well, Larry/KnitDad wrote me Tuesday morning asking whether my part of Michigan was the part predicted to have 20 inches of snow today. I had just checked the National Weather Service webpage at 10pm Monday night and it sounded like if we got the maximum predicted snow over the next day and a half, it would be 8-9 inches, if we got the least it would be merely 3 inches. I was optimistic, and therefore his 20 inches sounded impossible.

Guess what? Larry was right. I think we can say we have 12 inches right now and it’s not done snowing. I cancelled both my appointments, it was coming down enough that it seemed unwise to travel if it was not necessary. By the time I went outside at 6:45pm to shovel the drive (so Brian could park when he got home), it was literally 12 inches in spots. Unbelievable. I had seen the snow come down as I sat at my computer, but on the tree it didn’t look that bad (I can see up from my window but not down).

Emily had called about her ColorJoy Stole (she’s a teacher so had a snow day and was expecting to finish her stole while home). She said she put out food for the squirrels and they were nowhere to be found… and that is a sure sign that things are going to be rough. Squirrels don’t hybernate all winter but they sort of half-hybernate when it’s too nasty to find food. They were sleeping away today!

Brian got stuck in the driveway because I hadn’t finished clearing the mouth of the drive by the time he got home. I was outside a full hour and had just done maybe half of the shoveling needed (we have a small lot but we’re on a corner so there is a lot of sidewalk to shovel). I told Brian, “Tag, you’re it!” so he finished shoveling and I went in to make us tea and dinner.

Just check out our poor flamingos. They have more snow on them than their own volume! And my poor car looks like one large snowdrift out there in the dark. Whew! I’m not looking forward to my 12:30 class Wednesday. It’s supposed to snow until 6am, according to Tony. My students are mostly retirees, and they typically do not like to drive in the snow. Maybe I can reschedule for Friday if it is really bad. I can’t reschedule for next week, because I have a new class starting then.

I don’t know why we get so surprised when this stuff happens. We are in Michigan, for goodness’ sake! We will have at least one big storm each winter. Only one, if we are lucky. Sigh…

I did knit about six rows on my stole while avoiding snow. I also tried to prepare for a dyeing session but I can not find my niddy-noddy (a gizmo to wind yarn into hanks in preparation for dyeing). I looked all over! It was in a box when I put things away to have company. I remember seeing it in that box. But I swear I know where all the boxes are, and yet I can not find my niddy-noddy. Good thing I made it, out of PVC pipe, so it’s not a costly loss (and it will show up as soon as I get a new one). I have some more pipe but not fittings so I need to find my way to a hardware soon if I can not find my first one. How odd. I thought the house was relatively orderly for once, but apparently it’s more like “all dressed up with a dirty neck.” Looking good… but not quite right upon inspection. Drat!

My Kind of Quilt!

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

Wowie, I just found Nancy Crow’s quilting website today. The page with all the photographs of her quilts puts me in visual heaven.

There is something about the very-tidy, very-detailed thing that most quilts have (the little triangles, etc.) that just is not my style. I love things to be just a bit more organic. I have a small wall quilt made for me by my Sister-in-Law, Jane, that has five-pointed stars on it, but the stars are not at all symmetrical. I love that. (I will have to show you this quilt one day here… I already showed you the bargello quilt another of my Sisters-in-Law, Judy, made me.)

Nancy Crow’s qulits are machine-pieced but not in a tightly-geometric way. I love the organic feel to the images she creates. Sigh… what a gift on this very, very cold day!

Computer-Virus Woes

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

Wow, am I having computer distress! Starting yesterday about 11am, I started getting huge numbers of emails with virus attachments. At first, my virus checker did not recognize them as viruses, but thankfully I’m very skeptical of any attachments unless someone told me ahead of time they were sending one. I don’t open personal attachments as a general rule, only business ones. When loved ones send me a birthday card attachment, I write back and thank them for being so thoughtful (after all, the intent was to send me love and I recognize that) but I don’t actually view the attachment. Call me over-cautious, but clearly other people are not, or these viruses would not spread the way they do.

Today’s viruses arrive as either screen savers or .zip files for the most part. The subject line is often “Hello” or “Hi” or something that sounds like an error message… or no subject at all. Since yesterday at 11am I have received approximately 250-300 of them. It has taken me about 45 minutes so far this morning to check my email (241 messages) and it is not done downloading yet, I still have about 50 to go. I have to sit here and say OK to the virus checker every few seconds, a real hassle.

Not only that, but the viruses filled up my inbox and my legitimate email was bouncing back as undeliverable. This is not good at all for someone like me, who uses email to do business, to make a living. I last checked my email sometime after 11pm last night and by 9am this morning my mail was bouncing due to a mailbox full of viruses. I’m not a happy camper.

So… if it didn’t hit you yet, suspect every attachment you get. It doesn’t matter if it looks like it came from someone you know. Some of my viruses looked like they came from me, and some were from bogus addresses at my own purpletree.com domain… there is no such thing as bill@purpletree.com but I got a virus that said it was from that address. One said it came from an old friend I hadn’t seen in over a year. These things are smart. Do be careful. It costs a lot to have someone clean up your machine once you get hit!

This morning the weather was so bad that all the local schools are closed. I was supposed to have a meeting this morning with Marlene, to fold and staple and mail out our Working Women Artists newsletter. We thought better of it and will try again tomorrow. That means I get more time at home today. If I can stand to go down in that barely-heated basement, maybe I can start preparing to dye some wool again. My stock is getting low.

Stay warm, and please protect yourself against email viruses, OK?

Susan’s Bag

Monday, January 26th, 2004

I met Susan online. She sold some yarn to me, and I sold some yarn to her. She’s now knitting a sock with my Cushy ColorSport yarn in Spring Lily colorway (I just sold the last skein of that colorway yesterday, sorry).

She also just finished a felted bag she is mighty proud of. Go check out her weblog, I’m Knitting as Fast as I Can and see what she’s doing.

By the way, my first car was a 1975 AMC Gremlin, Red. Automatic with a Straight-Six engine (Imagine… but that was considered a small car then). I had a bumper sticker that said “Don’t Honk, I’m Peddling as Fast as I Can!” It was funny at the time…

I understand Susan’s sentiment, though. I feel such a drive, to knit-knit-knit, to finish things. I hate to go to sleep some days because I feel like I need to do more on my knitting. I’ve never been so driven, so competitive with myself. Yet it is so satisfying, it is not a problem.

Oh, here’s a picture of a scrubbie a friend crocheted for me out of nylon tulle netting. I don’t have any particular fondness for cotton washrags, they are so soft they don’t scrub anything off anything… and I’m not a big fan of cotton, anyway. But I am so frustrated with the lack of products that will scrub teflon pans without a problem. The only ones I can find have sponges attached (I used to be able to buy them like the green scotchbrite scrubbies but haven’t seen any like that in years).

This scrubbie seems the best substitute for my storebought items that I have found yet. Not glamorous, but genuinely useful. I am no great crocheter but maybe I’ll make a few of these. You can wash them in the dishwasher to get them clean again, which is nice. (Like I need one more project? NOT!)

(Note added September 2004: I don’t have a pattern for these scrubbies. When I worked at JoAnn Fabric, they had patterns for these under the cutting counter. If you are near a JoAnn you can try and ask there. Thank you.)

Today is 21 degrees, a regular heat wave. There is no sky visible but the clouds are holding in the heat so I’ll deal with it. Hope you all are staying warm. I sure am wearing my double-thickness “September to September Sweater” a lot. I thought I’d wear it outdoors like a coat, but these days I wear it in the house whenever I’m sitting still. I’m so glad I took the year it took to actually finish it.

I’m Back

Sunday, January 25th, 2004

Hi friends. Well, I missed a day of blogging. I had not missed a column since November, and I was proud of that. However, yesterday I had to teach at 9am, followed by a computer lab, a dance rehearsal, a dance performance an hour out of town, and then a drive home. I was gone almost 14 hours. I just plain konked out, fell asleep before even thinking about my computer. And it was a good thing, because I needed some rest before teaching the second session of my ColorJoy stole class.

This noon, three of the four women who had been here last week for my pilot ColorJoy novelty yarn stole class, came back for the second half. The fourth person could not make it at the last minute, so I will be meeting with her this week privately (we actually volunteer together for another guild so that works out well).

It was exciting to see what people had come up with. We all had very different colorways going. Lili had a darker version, with purples and some gold and black, and a bluish turquoise eyelash for contrast and interest. Sharon P. is making a beautiful stole in some of her favorite colors… purple and turquoise, but one of her yarns also has a sort of hot magenta/purple and a hot yellow-green for a little bit of oomph. She was a little nervous to add that green, but it really brings the piece alive.

Emily told great stories about her stole. She is doing colors that she normally does not knit, because it was yarn she bought for a friend with auburn hair. The colors are beautiful copper/auburn, and teals/turquoises with a few bits of orange and green. It’s funny, we are so set on what colors we look good in, that we don’t always open our minds to other beautiful color combinations. Emily’s grandkids were hoping the stole was not for them (both the colors and the texture of the eyelash yarns were not something they had seen Emily knit before). I wish I could tell her stories as well as she can, it was quite amusing how the kids indicated they didn’t want this piece (she often knits for them, so they automatically assumed that it was for one of them).

When she finally finished telling the stories of her stole and her family’s resistance to the colors, and then she brought out the stole itself… well, I was flabbergasted. It is absolutely gorgeous! Stunning. It makes me want red hair so I could wear it perfectly. Funny how if we look good in certain colors, we just have a hard time opening up to other colors even if they look great on someone else. And conversely, we can love a color so much that we can think it looks great on someone when in fact it’s not really as good on that other person as some other colors might be. Color is such a personal thing!

I did start a stole but since I was preparing swatches for the class, I didn’t get much knit. Mine is based on a blue cobalt mohair with metallic and eyelash. It also has some turquoise and magenta accents. My stole has much more mohair than I usually use, and I hope it will be very warm.

I’m ready for warm! Last night it was 14 degrees below Zero, F. This morning at 8:45am it was 2.8F according to my thermometer. It did get up to 12 or a bit higher later in the day, but even that is incredibly cold with even a tiny breeze. I’m so ready to be done with winter, and it hasn’t really kicked in fully yet. Mom called from Florida today, where they don’t have to shovel at all. Lucky her!

I had a luxurious nap today after class and before band rehearsal for Abbott Brothers band. That is such fun! I love jamming and I even more enjoy performing. We’re at Altus this coming Saturday, from 6:30-8:30. Local folks, consider coming out. It’s great fun, with many styles of music represented.

I think the picture here today is self-explanatory. These are the stole bits that folks brought to class. You can’t see how much teal is in Emily’s stole for some reason (see Sharon P’s blog, Knitknacks, to see a much clearer picture of the colorway). The stole I identify here as mine, is the one I wear all the time. My blue mohair one had only about four rows in it so it was not photogenic at all at this point.

Snow, Snow, Snow

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

It has been snowing all day. Everything is white, there is no color and no sun. It makes me inclined to get in the car and head south. Or alternately, stay in bed where it’s warm! I’m resisting. I guess I’m a grownup after all.

I had a day free from business appointments and so I spent a bunch of time preparing financial records for tax time. I sure have a long way to go, but at least I started. This is not my favorite part of being self employed!

Brian and I had dinner at a new place tonight, a sushi place in Hannah Plaza. He got a gift certificate for this restaurant for the holidays, and we just got around to going tonight. I think I will never be a huge fan of this sort of food (I love tempura, that lightly-breaded deep fried vegetable/shrimp stuff, but this restaurant was using an oil that I couldn’t eat). Brian got a nice platter with all sorts of taste treats. I got some edamame (green/fresh soybeans) steamed in the pod (yummy), and then I ate vegetarian rolls. Some of the rolls were avocado/rice/seaweed, some had asparagus instead of avocado, some had “pumpkin skin” instead (it was good, but didn’t taste like pumpkin).

It was fine as a special date/occasion. I still prefer Altu’s Ethiopian food, or Aladdin’s Lebanese food, any day. I’m not into pickles and salty things (soy sauce) very much, and I adore beans when cooked properly.

However, it turned out that Pat (a musician acquaintance who was in The Weepers) and his wife Terri (who is a knitting-guild colleague and friend of Sarah Peasley) sat at the next table. We talked to Pat a while until Terri joined him. Pat is in a new band with our friend Drew. The band is called Saltines, if I remember right. They play a regular Monday night gig at Mac’s Bar and it sounds pretty fun. I’d love to go and see them sometime, smoke or not.

I keep forgetting to take pictures when I’m out and about. The picture today is of the final concert for The Weepers, with Pat on drums behind the Bass (played by Steve). Drew, another Saltines member, is in the picture at far left).

I hope to have some new pics tomorrow, because in the evening I’m going with a group of 6 Habibi Dancers to perform in Alma, an hour north of Lansing. (The costume I’m wearing was created by Phaedra.) I’m guessing there will be some photo opportunities there. I’m dancing one piece I have not done before, wish me well.

Be Careful what You Wish For!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

Well, I wished for more than one day off. I need to be careful of what I’m wishing… I got scheduled for only one long shift next week at JoAnn, and somehow that was a day when I had told them I could not work. Voila! A week off from one of my most time-consuming jobs!

It will work out fine. I need to dye more wool. I have a few things coming up where I will be selling yarn, assuming I *have* yarn to sell. I sure have a lot of stock that hasn’t been dyed yet, so I just need to get busy. I think it will be delightful to be alone more next week. I’m sure some errands will get in the way some of the time, and I sure need to do my financial paperwork to prepare for the tax season. However, I will be able to make some dyed yarns and perhaps start on a pattern that will be due in a month and a half.

Tomorrow I’ll be busy, making swatches for Sunday’s class, among other things. We will be learning how to fix mistakes in garter stitch as part of the class. I’m really hoping this will be a great thing for the students. We will do it on smooth yarn swatches before messing with fancy yarns. I’ll do the stockinette swatches on the sweater machine, but I need to do the garter by hand.

Oh, in CityKidz Knit! today, they were very impressed with my nosewarmer. One girl went home planning to make one. Another girl stayed a couple hours, so she had time to not only think up a way to make a nosewarmer on her own, but time to make it from start to finish. She loves making tassels so she made one for the tip of the nose. Very cute, a present for her 3-year old little sister, who will love it. This child is in 4th grade and since she learned to increase, decrease and purl this holiday vacation, she is now making up patterns. I’m impressed.

And me? I’m tired… I get to sleep in tomorrow, what a luxury. Nevertheless, even as tired as I was, I got more knitting done on my sock. A few stitches here and there while in between answering kids questions at the knitting class today, helped me make progress.

Busy Day

Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

Today I had eight different commitments, and I’m reeling from the schedule after only 5 hours of sleep. I tell you, I need to start giving myself some more days off sometime soon.

The good thing was that even though I spent a lot of time waiting in doctor’s offices and the pharmacy today (nothing wrong, all routine stuff), I did get some knitting done. I have about 4-5″ done on one sock cuff and the other is about 3″ done because of last night’s train crossing delay and then knitting guild meeting. I just started these last Thursday, so that makes me pleased.

I also did start my ColorJoy stole to knit along with my students. The most important yarn is a three-strand Ironstone yarn based on a cobalt blue brushed mohair, with a long eyelash and a shiny strand in there as well. I got the skein at Yarn for Ewe, probably late last fall. Beautiful stuff, but I don’t often wear cobalt. I ended up with a nice collection of yarns to go with it, including a turquoise/green eyelash and a fuschia brushed mohair with bits of color in the binder, and a shiny railroad yarn that is predominantly aqua/turquoise. I also used some Brown Sheep Handpaint 100% mohair in worsted weight, a beautiful smooth single-ply yarn in multicolored jewel tones.

This stole will be very different than my others, since it will have three mohair yarns in it (two brushed) and only 2 eyelash yarns, both longer and made of polyester (usually I add a nylon eyelash with the look of feathers, as well). But hey, I adore mohair and this is a great way to highlight these incredible skeins of yarn. And I think this stole will be considerably warmer than the more froofy multiple-eyelash stoles.

No illustrations of my yarn or process yet tonight, I’m wiped out. So here, instead, is a photo of my “graffiti” that I did on my palm device a few weeks ago. I typically have an impulse to add color to something (usually by painting like this, sometimes by painting walls in the house) right after the holidays. This year was no exception.

I painted the plastic of the case with fingernail polish of different colors. I had tested first (maybe a month ago) on my old broken palm device, to see if the polish would stick properly. It worked great, so I was ready to go when the mood grabbed me. Cool, huh? I figure if anyone took it, I sure could prove it was mine!

Let’s hope I get a few hours of sleep tonight. I can’t decide what sounds better, a hot bath or sleep. See you tomorrow!

Knitting Guild

Tuesday, January 20th, 2004

I enjoyed my day today. I did not have any business appointments, but since it had been several weeks since I’d had a day free, I had many tasks waiting on my errand list. I did get to sleep in a little… and I had three tasty meals, plus I was alone a lot, which I really enjoyed. I don’t know why I thought I’d have time to knit all day. I had so many things I had put off until later. Today was the later I’d waited for. I got things done but not much knitting.

After dinner, though, I joined my friends at the Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild. I was delayed by almost 20 minutes by a train stopped only two blocks from the meeting (I knit an inch and a half on my sock while waiting, so that was the good part)… they finally had us back up and make a U-turn to get out of the gridlock and go around another way. Several of us got caught and were late together.

I took my newly finished sox (the yarn is Trampoline – see picture) with me for show-and-tell, and the single child’s sock I made on my knitting machine… as well as my Turkish sox which I had not shown to the group before.

I also took a nosewarmer I knit, inspired by the nosewarmer pattern Amy put on the Knitty site. (I forgot to mention this piece during show and tell, but did show it around after the meeting to a few folks.) As usual, I can not leave a pattern alone. I did knit one with her specifications but I could not get the tiny gauge she was getting (9st/in) so I just ripped out that one. I added ribbing at the edge to keep it from curling and cast on a lot fewer stitches. I also did it in one color, even the braided ties, and I did not put a tassel on the tip of the nose. I guess mine is positively low-key for a nosewarmer (I keep remembering red and white striped ones with tassels when I was a kid… I never had one but that is how I remember them.)

I actually have two patterns for nosewarmers, knit quite differently. I will see if I actually wear this one, and if I do I will consider trying a variation on the other pattern as well. Such fun! Mine is in Debbie Bliss washable DK merino. Great stuff. And hey, a nosewarmer takes very little time to complete. For this grrl, who just loves to finish things, that is a big plus.

The guild meeting was about intarsia. Sweatergirl (Tracy A) did the presentation. I learned a lot, including that I need to wait until I’m less busy and I should not start with cotton yarn (which I don’t like as much as wool anyway).

I am sure I’ll end up doing this technique someday because I love color so much. When my love for color overrides my distaste for purling, I’ll do it. Maybe I can do a seed stitch intarsia. That way only half of my stitches would be purl on each row. I just don’t like purling more than about 5 stitches in a row, but I don’t mind alternating. I don’t know why, don’t ask me… it just is. Oh, the picture here is Irene hiding behind her amazing sweater, and Charlotte trying desperately to see it. Irene LOVES intarsia, you should have seen all her projects.

Oh… also Sarah Peasley brought her color block sweater which is just beautiful (it used to be on her website but I can not find it right now). And Luann, who has helped me many times, many hours with CityKidz Knit!, brought a half-circle shawl she finished using Helen’s Lace yarn from Lorna’s Laces… just beautiful. It was exactly the right pattern for that yarn. I took a picture but she was moving so fast, the shawl was flying and I cut off half of Luann. Sigh… She also is partway through a beautiful lightweight mohair shawl. I can’t wait to see that, either.

Sharon P. took a photo of me clowning around wearing my nosewarmer. I’m guessing in the next day or so you will be able to see a picture on her blog.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Monday, January 19th, 2004

Today in the USA, we honor the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He dreamed of a world where people were valued for their insides and their actions, not their color or appearance. I share that dream as well.

It is sad to say that every holiday which gives people the day off (not everyone here has MLK day off but many at larger organizations do), turns into a retail frenzy. I’m working at the store today for 7 hours. I’m sure we will be swamped. I hope that those who spend their holiday shopping, also take a moment to consider the important work that Dr. King did, and which needs to continue without him.

Thank you, Dr. King, for giving us a moment to reflect on how far we have come, and what yet needs to be done. May you rest in peace.

A Colorful Class

Sunday, January 18th, 2004

I taught four people today, the first session of two in a Novelty Yarn/ColorJoy Stole class. We covered the different attributes of color (hue, value, chroma/intensity, transparency/opacity), discussed the many possibilities of texture, and then explored different ways to combine multiple yarns.

I was surprised that we got through as much material as we did, so we got started on how to work with my pattern (more of a guideline than a pattern in this case, because we all have such different yarns) and talked a bit about the nitty gritty of knitting the piece. A couple of them were cast on before they left, and although not everyone felt that they had all of the yarns they would be working with in the end, we had a good sense of where to go with it all.

The class is a pilot I am doing for a session on knitting with novelty yarns I’m going to be teaching (drumroll please) at Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan, USA this summer. The four ladies I invited to the class all have different experiences with knitting and instruction (two are experienced with technical editing/instructional publications, and two are teachers… one of whom is a relatively new knitter). They have consented to work with me, to ensure the class (including the pattern/glossary) is as good as it possibly can be.

I’ve taught for years… first as a volunteer, then training folks on the job, then formally as a trainer/instructor. I’ve taught computers and art/polymer the most, though I’ve done demos and classes on feltmaking, dyeing silk with Kool-Aid, scarf-tying, and soft-block printmaking (and no doubt other topics that elude me at the moment). I have taught knitting in a group situation for perhaps a year and a half. I’m a good teacher… yet knitting is different than polymer or computers. The challenge is explaining how to move one’s hands, you know? Actually this class is more about color and texture for half of the time (I could teach color for a week and not repeat myself, but I did keep it contained today).

Since I could have a large group at Allegan (up to 16, a number I’ve done for polymer classes several times) I need to be sure my handouts and my schedule are planned out as well as possible. I’m happy with how things went thus far. I am particularly grateful for the new knitter, who really helped me out with excellent suggestions to be sure nobody feels left out if they are inexperienced.

It was really fun, we had my kitchen table full of novelty yarns, to the point of skeins falling on the floor from time to time. It was great fun to try different yarns together, and then to analyze why one yarn that might seem that it should go, somehow did not.

Next Sunday we will work on how to fix any “hiccups” in the knitting, and we will discuss how it is going so far. I am sure most of us won’t have the stole close to finished. However, we will have enough fabric to start working on finding mistakes and fixing them (which is a challenge with garter stitch fabric even when not using novelty yarns).

I had a fun time. My voice is very tired, though… after a long shift on Friday at JoAnn, then 13 or so hours working at two locations on Saturday, and then my class today.

After all the excitement of class, tonight Brian and I rehearsed with Abbott Brothers band, in preparation for our January 31 gig at Altu’s. It was a challenge to sing my three songs with my tired voice, but at least I can sing a little bit.

Tomorrow I get to sleep in, work a seven-hour shift at JoAnn (it’s a work holiday so we will be busy, but I got a great shift, neither opening nor closing), then I am going to a spinners’ gathering. It’s just four of us, folks who have known each other socially but who have never come together to spin before.

I am looking forward to this spinning gathering. I don’t spin much at home, since I would rather do either handknitting or machine knitting. I do like spinning, though… I just seem to require company to get the spinning wheel out. Since I have such a nice “new” wheel I might as well make a bit more yarn!

(In fact, last Monday I went to a different knitter/spinner gathering with many more people, and when I can get back to that group I’ll be taking my wheel as well. I think I had so much going last week that somehow I didn’t mention this gathering. I met a woman online who invited me, and was very glad I went.)

No pictures of today’s class or rehearsal, I was too busy experiencing things in the moment. However, Sharon P. took pictures in class. Check out what she has to say at her blog, Knitknacks. (Pictures here are five different stoles I have knit in the last year.)