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Archive for January, 2004

Work, Work, Work

Saturday, January 17th, 2004

There is not much to say today. I have been working like a crazy woman. I’m working with a publisher on a design and accompanying article, I started my teaching term (for adults) at Foster Center last week, I’m doing a few hours of consulting each week, I am still at JoAnn, I’m doing publicity for Altu’s music series, I’m rehearsing when I can with Abbott Brothers and Fabulous Heftones for upcoming performances, and I am selling a little yarn here and there on the internet. Let it not be said that I am lazy! I may be nuts, and I surely am tired, but I’m busy. In general, I’m pretty happy with it all, I have little to complain about.

I am knitting a few rows most days on my “waiting in line” socks. Today I did knit a little bit at Foster when I had kids in the computer lab, but when they left I spent my time cleaning my room. The building is old and that means there is plenty of dust… and I usually don’t have quiet time to attack it. Oh, I also knit on the sock a little bit when waiting for my food at Aladdin’s between my shift at Foster and my shift at JoAnn.

Tomorrow I start a class I’m teaching in my home, a class on how to choose novelty yarns to go well together, both color and texture…and how to knit a stole from the yarns chosen. We will meet twice for 3 hours each, and I’m very excited about it. I have 4 students who will be great fun. I think we will all learn something and have a great time.

A Creative CityKid

Friday, January 16th, 2004

Yesterday I had a wonderful time at my CityKidz Knit! program.

I had a new knitter, brought in by her mother. She did just fine. Her stitches are still loose, but she made about 3 inches of a wristband in an hour, a respectable bit of progress for a first day. She seemed to enjoy it.

One 4th grader who originally had a very hard time knitting (we had to start with finger crochet) is now knitting on double pointed needles, in the round. She wanted to make baby booties. Go Grrl! She was a little afraid it would be hard, but when she got going, she was saying “This is easy!” I was so proud of her. She really stuck it out when others would have given up. She had to do a lot of work to develop her fine motor muscles, before knitting felt comfortable for her. I’m very proud of her.

And… one 6th grade girl who had not come in since holidays, came in with a project she had started the last time I saw her. She had wanted to make some slippers, but the pattern I had (from a Coats & Clark circa 1973 learn to knit booklet) was unreasonably difficult for a beginner pattern. We decided that she would like to make a garter stitch rectangle, which would be stretchy (like the rib specified in the pattern) and she would just gather stitches at the toe, and sew up the back of the heel while sewing up the top of the instep.

Well, this child often surprises me by coming up with better answers than I can think of. She showed up with one slipper done and another mostly knit. Not only had she done the sewing we had imagined, but then she knit a small tube much like the wristbands I start them with, and she sewed the tube to the opening in her slipper. Voila! A cuff! It looks just great, by the way. At least, in my humble opinion. (In the picture, she is holding the finished slipper on our left, and the one on our right has the toe and instep seamed but needs a heel seam and a cuff.)

Remember, this child is in sixth grade and she has only been knitting since Fall. She just has a natural gift for designing. She starts something and then she sees the potential of the fabric on her needles. She almost always changes plans partway through, and the change is for the better. I want to be like her when I grow up!

Personal Firewall Day/Week/Year

Thursday, January 15th, 2004

Personal Firewall DayToday is Personal Firewall Day. It’s not really a one-day thing, but a project. The project is to help home users understand how to protect themselves from viruses, trojans, hackers and other negative attacks as well as data loss.

It never stops amazing me that I offer classes on virus protection and avoiding data loss, and nobody signs up. Yet people lose data all the time and are surprised. I just had to reformat another friend’s computer a few days ago, because she got hit so badly (probably more than one virus or trojan) her machine would not start up. With Windows re-installed it runs perfectly. It took her since last September to realize what was up. In that period of time, her computer surely sent out messages (disguised to look like they came from someone else) that no doubt infected others she knows on the internet.

People pay me to come to their houses and fix the problems of a virus. Preventing it costs less. Here is the biggest misunderstanding: A virus checker is really two things. It is a “machine” and it is “fuel.” The machine is the program, be it Norton Antivirus or McAfee ViruScan or any other program. But a program is a dumb engine, it just checks the computer against a list to see if the things on the list are on the host machine.

The second part of the protection, the fuel, is called the data definition list or virus list. The known viruses out there change every day. In order to be protected, your engine needs the fuel which is the currently known list of viruses. If it has an old list and there is a new virus out there, you are not protected from the new virus.

When you buy a new computer or you buy a virus protection program out of a box at a store, you typically get a one-year subscription to the virus definitions. At the end of that period, your system will bring up a box (which is never written in clear English, of course) that tells you that you need to re-subscribe to the definitions. Of course, it asks for your credit card which makes most folks nervous so they tell the box no. And from that point on, their computer is not protected.

This is almost always what happens when I go to someone’s house and find a virus. They think they are protected because they “have” Norton, for example. But they merely have an engine with nearly no fuel. It is cheaper to re-subscribe than buy a new box with a virus checker, at the store. However, sometimes the method they give you for trying to pay for the new subscription is so confusing that the easiest solution is to go to the store and buy a new box, so that you can keep being protected. The box is around $55 if I remember right. (Subscriptions tend to be in the ballpark of $15 US.) That is cheaper than hiring me by the hour to fix the problem, perhaps after losing data already.

There are other ways to lose information on your computer, of course. Remember, a computer is a machine, a gizmo. Machines break. Your machine will eventually stop running, even without a virus attack. And if that happens before you are prepared, you can lose information. There are many ways to make copies of what you do not want to lose. Some are manual processes and some can be automated. Some cost nothing, some require a computer program to “backup” the information, and some even require special equipment like a tape backup drive (it looks like a smallish cassette from a video camera).

I have a laptop and a desktop machine, connected together with wires called a network. Every night when I sleep, a program automatically starts up and copies the most important things from my laptop, to my desktop machine. This means if I take my laptop out to a client and it gets rained on or stolen, I don’t lose the important bits. I had to buy the program and had to understand how to set it up, but it works automatically and I really want that.

I have had to use my backups to restore information a few times, and it made things so that I could go on without delay. When my laptop was stolen 3 years ago, I didn’t lose a single email, not a single document. This is what I wish for everyone. No worries about data (although my heart was broken that someone would steal).

There is no time to discuss all these backup choices here. The point is to expect that your machine will stop working and make sure you don’t put your only copy of a precious digital photo or something else, on your computer’s storage (hard drive). Get it on a CD or something, so that you have at least one copy elsewhere. For text documents, printing them out is sufficient but eats space. Businesses take some of their backup materials off site, in case of a fire. Most individuals don’t find this necessary.

Sorry for the digression into seriousness. I did have a wonderful day with CityKidz Knit! I taught a 4th grader how to knit with DPNs. She was afraid it would be hard… but I told her it would only be hard if she decided it was. She ended the day saying “this is easy!” Go kid! This one took a long while to get started knitting… she had to do finger crochet and other things to build up the fine motor skills she needed. She is making up time now!

Snow, Dinner with a Friend, & False Start

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004

Well, it snowed a lot today. It snowed this morning enough that I had a lot to clean off my car before work at 12:30… then by about 5pm it was just coming down like crazy again. I guess they say it has stopped now and will be better in the morning. I had planned to meet a fiber friend in the morning tomorrow before going to work at Foster in the afternoon, but I am hoping now that we postpone. Maybe the roads will be better, but I’m less gutsy than I once was.

I worked at Foster until 5:00 and then I had Master dance class from 5:30-6:30. We were supposed to have Habibi dance practice from 6:30-8:30 but so many people could not make it in because of the weather, that rehearsal was called off. I did really enjoy my dance class today so it was a shame to stop dancing so soon. However, one dance friend (Nyla) came with her daughter since her babysitter couldn’t make it. We decided to go to dinner at Altu’s. We had so much fun! (Picture is Nyla and her daughter, wearing an eggplant hat I knit for her).

It’s just delightful to spend time together, since we haven’t seen much of each other lately. Her daughter was a premature baby, only 3 lb and 1oz, and she is doing just great. Her development is ahead of the curve despite her early challenges, and she’s a sharp and determined young thing. We went shopping at the health food store after dinner, and I watched the child so that my friend could check out some of the foods that were somewhat unfamiliar to her. I tell you, I got exhausted following that little girl, she was full of energy and speed. She didn’t get into any trouble but kids just love to take off and go, when there is a long expanse of floor!

Knitting Update
Well, I finished a pair of sox on Monday night and still don’t have a picture. I’ll have to do that soon. Since I didn’t have any small projects going, I started a hat, my first project in entrelac (the pattern is in the Winter 2003 issue of INKnitters magazine, written by Donna Druchunas).

The article is titled “Entrelac In-the-Round.” Well, I thought that meant I should swatch in the round. My first gauge swatch hit the pattern’s gauge dead-on. But I needed to think about this, entrelac is a whole lot of little triangles and rectangles knit back and forth. Well, I either have to rip this thing out or I need to make up a new project (a bag?) for what I have started already. It has 14 triangles which are 9 sts wide each, and it looks almost like a small sweater rather than a hat, with only 6 triangles completed thus far.

I wouldn’t mind a bag in entrelac. The yarn is Classic Elite Montera 50% llama/ 50% wool, a yarn rated for 4st/in but I got 4.5st/in on size 8 needles, which is what the pattern calls for (this makes a good dense hat fabric). In the round, that is.

However, I am getting 3.75st/in on the same needles, knitting half the rows and then “knitting back backwards” or basically knitting left handed rather than purling, on the other half of the rows. This means I don’t have to turn the work, and is how many people do entrelac. But hey, what a difference it makes in my gauge!

I guess I just need to have socks as my portable project. The honest truth is that I have plenty of sockyarns in my stash but most of the ones waiting for me are either in hanks or a single 100gm ball. I knit two socks at the same time, simultaneously on separate sets of DPNs. I need to wind off half the 100gm balls into a second center-pull ball so I can start knitting from those. Or conversely, I could wind my hank of Bearfoot or the wonderful Koigu I got pre-holidays, so that I can knit those. What good is it to have sockyarn yarn if you can’t grab it and knit with it in line at the grocery store??? If it’s in a hank or large ball, it’s as if I don’t have it available to me.

Right now my studio is so cold (it’s a basement with only a space heater to warm it) that I don’t look forward to going down there to wind my yarn (or dye wool, for that matter). But I need to do this for at least one yarn so I can get a project going!

A Cut Above

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

Well, Monday at JoAnn I got a very nice surprise. I was awarded with a “Cut Above” award for customer service. Basically, this is when you do something that stands out as good customer service, something special that makes a guest glad to be in our store. Then you have to be nominated by someone (often a manager, commonly after receiving a letter of thanks from a guest), to get this award. In my case, a manager observed me first hand, interacting with a guest about her quilting project.

I have only been working at the store (part time) since November 14, not even two months. I was supposed to only work there for 6 weeks, just a temporary thing. But I don’t do things half way, and if I am going to work I’m going to do the best job I can, short term or not.

It is an honor to be noticed for caring about my customers. Of course, I do! They are me. I am also a customer and I also make creative projects. But it is really special to be recognized for this caring.

You know, little pats on the back do make a difference. I had a good day after getting my award, and being recognized by at least the two managers who presented it to me. Now I get to wear a little scissors pin at work. It says in tiny print, “a cut above.” What a nice way to start the week!

Elderly Instruments’ Holiday Party

Monday, January 12th, 2004

I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to process all the photos that filled up my tiny digital camera! I get home so late sometimes and I just fall asleep, literally, at my computer trying to write my blog entries.

Sunday was the Elderly Instruments‘ holiday bash, so now that it’s over we’re officially done with the holiday season. I’m ready for that, but I digress. Since the company is a music store, there are lots of musicians who work there. And since it’s a very busy retail store, they always delay the holiday party until January. It makes it so people can actually enjoy the party.

During the dinner and chatting, folks take turn playing music for one another. Sometimes it’s a band that plays “out” in the community, sometimes it is a group that got together just for the party. In our case, “The Fabulous Heftones” is a name we were given by our friend Mike (who moved to Colorado not long ago and I made him a scarf… for those who were reading then) when he asked us to play for this party maybe four or five years ago. It was a bit of a lark to have a band name, but ever since then, when we have played out and about we have used that name.

Yesterday the first band was a few old timers and their friends. Stan B., who used to work at Elderly for years, plays a lot of old songs and sings while he plays guitar. He had Dorsey, Brian’s dear friend who is a tenor/4-string banjo player, back him up. Joining those two were Brian, Derek and Stan W., on five-string banjo, mandolin banjo and guitar banjo, respectively. They made some joyful noises, let me tell you! That was the right way to start a party.

There were many groups, but I have photos of Clavel (a band I’ve mentioned at Altu’s before) with guest Chris R., and Cindy Lou and the Grinch (a band that just got together for this party, baritones and tubas… they were excellent). I also am pleased to have a decent photo of Dorsey, Brian’s friend, with Brian. My camera was zooming in when I didn’t realize it, so it’s cropped in an unusual way, but I like the photo.

The fun for me was that we got to sing as The Fabulous Heftones, and I was actually able to sing again. I had not been able to sing in public since on November 1 when we were at Midwest Ukefest. I was actually losing part of my range already when we played at Altu’s on October 18. I spent about two weeks around Thanksgiving unable to talk or barely able, much less sing. So even though I don’t have all the notes of my range back at my command, it was pure joy to be able to sing for the party. I know many of the folks there, and they love listening to us.

We got to debut two new songs at this party. Brian did Singing in the Bathtub, a joyful little number, and I did Tiptoe through the Tulips. I’ve been collecting songs about flowers for a while, but I resisted this song because in most folks’ minds Tiny Tim “owns” it. However, after listening to Mr. Tim sing the song dozens of times in my car, I decided the song was just too sweet to pass by. He doesn’t sing the intro at all, and he sings the wrong words to two phrases (actually he does them the same way on both recordings I have of him singing the song). I got to sing the full introduction, and all the words as Annette Hanshaw sang it in the 1920’s. It as sweet a song as you can find, and I enjoyed singing it. Of course, you can not help but go over well with that tune, everyone knows at least one phrase of it. It was definitely a crowd pleaser.

It’s a perfect audience, really. Cynthia was there (second from left in the 3rd picture, playing baritone) and I love singing when she is in the room. She loves us so much, and I can see it in her eyes. When I feel unsure I just look at her and smile, and sing my heart out!

Saved: Favorite Sweater

Sunday, January 11th, 2004

Well, the other day when I was doing some creative work, I accidentally stabbed one blade of my scissors through the right sleeve of my favorite sweater. This sweater is several shades of turquoise mohair, it is loose and comfortable, warm without being heavy, everything I want in a sweater. And there I was, with a hole in it the size of a scissor blade. It cut through two stitches, one on top of the other.

At first I was just sick. I took the sweater off and put it aside to deal with later. If I had knit the sweater myself, I would have had some matching yarn to use for a repair. This sweater is a lot of different shades of turquoise and I knew I did not have any mohair in any of those colors. If it were the bottom of a sock, I could have repaired it with any color of yarn. But here it was, visible all the time, and I was really upset about it. I knew I could repair it for wearing at home, but how could I make it so that I could wear it out, too?

Finally I wanted to wear the sweater enough to dig through my yarns and see what might work. I found two yarns that might be the right color. One was a Regia sockyarn which had about 5 different colors to make stripes, and one of the stripes was a decent match, but the yarn was thin and smooth. I wasn’t sure that would work.

The second yarn was a bulky alpaca (no, I can’t remember what it is called and I don’t have the ball bands, so sorry). The alpaca was a softer, fuzzier yarn, also about the right color, but I would have had to separate out one of the plies of the yarn to use it.

I decided to try the sockyarn first, because it has nylon in it for strength. There was the chance that I could brush the mohair over the repair and hide the fact that the sockyarn was not the right texture.

It worked out pretty well. I did a duplicate stitch on maybe a dozen or so stitches, surrounding the hole as well as right on it. The color was very good, and since brushed mohair has a thin core, it actually was about the right weight. You can see the repair (follow the point of the arrow). The little black fleck is the nylon binder of the original yarn, cut and still showing on the surface (I need to pull that end through to the back but have not done it yet).

After I took this last picture, I used a scalp brush I own that has rubbery short bristles, and brushed the surface to even out the mohair texture over the hole. You can’t find the repair unless you are really looking for it.

Now I get to wear my favorite sweater again! Sigh….

Lunch with Michael

Saturday, January 10th, 2004

Well, Thursday night I got to have Christmas with my Godchildren Sara and Michael, and their mother JoDee (who I have known since at least 1st grade). It was great to see them.

I made Sara and Jo some boa scarves from polyester “polar” fleece. Jo’s was three layers of turquoise and two layers of purple. Hers was a bit smaller and had tinier “feathers” where I cut the fleece. Sara’s was more flamboyant, as she is more like me and likes fun and wild colors. We’re the theatrical ones of the bunch, for sure. Hers was three layers of hot green and two layers of a yellow fabric printed with orange and fuschia patterns. Hers was wider and the featherlike pieces were wider, more like ostrich feathers or something. Very fun and very cool.

Jo loved hers, it was so warm and she and I share difficulty getting warm enough. At one point she was wondering how she could get it to stay on her as she slept.

I knew Michael didn’t want a boa so I focused on the fact that he just finished his first term at Central Michigan University, his first year away from home. I went there in the late 1970s so we have that in common. I wanted to knit him a scarf in the school colors, maroon and gold. Guess what? Those are Harry Potter colors. It was hard finding yarn in those colors. Not only that, but this family is pretty sensitive to wool (Jo can’t even touch it very long, nevermind trying to wear it… even soft superwash won’t work for her). So I finally found some acrylic sportweight yarn to make Michael a striped scarf in his school colors. He’s really into belonging, and teams, and sports. He wears a varsity-style jacket with a Central logo on it. So I really picked the right thing.

I actually knit two scarves for Michael but the first one ended up way too long, the knitting was far too loose, and it was really skinny. Oops. The second try was a charm. I made the scarf on the Singer knitting frame/machine and made it twice as wide as I needed it to be (thanks to a swatch I made, because knitting really distorts when you are working on a machine). I ran one stitch halfway across, down all the way and chained it up again as a purl column to look like a faux seam. Then I worked in ends and seamed up the long edge. Then I did a three-needle bindoff on both ends, with a K1P1 rib for the bind off so it would not roll.

It worked out well and he liked his scarf. I think because it is two layers, it will be really warm for when he has to walk to classes.

It’s funny, I had to tell them that I made the gifts. I thought it was self-evident (I guess I don’t have finished product photos of the boas) but I had to let them know. For the record, Sara’s boa was 8″ wide from 58″ fabric. JoDee’s was 5.5″ wide. I layered 5 layers of fabric and then did a zigzag stitch down the middle, then cut. For Sara’s scarf I made the cuts a half inch to 5/8″ wide. For Jo, they stayed about 3/8″ wide with a few at a half inch. I did cut each layer separately so that the “feathers” would hang more randomly and not open like pages in a book. They turned out great.

Oh, and they bought me a wonderful intensely-turquoise chenille sweater. It has a really cool split collar with fringe on it, it hangs down in a V in the front. The sleeves are bell-like but not so big they are hard to maneuver, and the body ends just at the hip. This sweater will look great with my new boot-legged black stretch pants.

The big news for me, though, is not the gifts. It is that on Friday I then got to go to lunch with Michael. He is doing the typical teen thing these days (he’s actually 20 now). Since he turned about 16 he has been “too busy” to see me. We have had dinner maybe twice since then. We used to go out every couple of months. I actually think the last time I had a meal with Michael was when I drove to New York City to see him and his choir perform at Carnegie Hall. That was February of 2001. Too long!

We had a nice talk. I remember Central and he asked what might have changed since I was there. He said that they still don’t cook in the cafeteria on Sunday nights… so I promised to come up there sometime and take him to dinner on one of those days. He can show me around school if he chooses. It will be wonderful if we can work it out.

My Knitting Poem

Friday, January 9th, 2004

I’ve had several requests for the poem I use to teach children to knit. Thanks to you folks who have been writing to me lately, it’s such a pleasure to get your notes!

Here’s my version of a fairly-often shared poem (for learning to knit American/English style):

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

They just love the “off Jumps Jack” part.

I’m also starting more and more to teach them to cast on by knitting on. The first time they knit, I cast on for them. When they start their second project, we do the poem, but instead of OFF jumps Jack, we say ON jumps Jack as they put the newly made stitch on the first needle by pointing tip to tip. It works well and I can teach them this very quickly in between working with a bunch of other kids.

My older kids get intrigued by how *I* cast on which is usually the “long tail” cast on. I call it the Itsy Bitsy Spider cast on (but my friend Sarah Peasley I think has a different cast on she calls Itsy Bitsy Spider, nothing like a little confusion). I have a couple of middle school girls who like to cast on and then pull the stitches off the needle, pull them out and start over. It’s like worry beads, perhaps. They have no desire to make something but they love to help others cast on for projects.

Oh… and when I teach binding off, I don’t do it the “normal” way. I teach them to “Up through TWO front doors” (knit two together)… and at the end they say OFF jumps Jack (which was 2 stitches) then ON jumps Jack (the one stitch on the right hand needle). So again I play on their ability to understand the knit stitch, and I teach knitting, casting on and binding off as variations on the knit stitch. The methods are just fine, they work well and are not compromises… and it also allows me to teach more children at the same time, requiring less coaching time per child.

New Knitters Have Success

Thursday, January 8th, 2004

Well, Thursday I had the second session of CityKidz Knit! for this year. Only two kids showed up but it worked out great. It had been a big crowd the day before, with several older kids, and so my younger ones who just naturally need more attention, didn’t get enough help from me.

The good news was that Thursday the two who came to knitting, were two of the younger girls from the day before. Their mom stayed around since they were going to just stay for an hour, so we chatted a little in between my helping the girls. It was fun to chat with the mom, because she was one of my computer students a good while ago. And on top of that, since I had only the two girls to help out this time, they started catching on much more quickly.

They both finished their wristbands! Don’t they look beautiful?

A New Term for CityKidz

Wednesday, January 7th, 2004

This was the beginning of a new term for CityKidz Knit! I had 10 knitters Wednesday, and only 3 had been there before. Two Mommies came with groups of children, and I also got an older girl who appears to know almost no English. She took to the knitting very quickly but couldn’t tell me if she had knit before. I suspect she may have, as she had several inches of knitting on her wristband done after less than an hour.

It was interesting because I ended up with several different styles of knitting. One girl just naturally kept holding both needles something like a pencil. It worked for her so I just let her go to it. Another girl had done a little knitting several years ago and does a lot of crocheting. I showed her how to knit continental, with yarn in left hand as she does for crochet. She had been trying to wrap the yarn with her left hand anyway, and she was much more comfortable once I got her going like that. I made sure to tell them that there are many ways of knitting and we just need to find the right way for everyone.

There were two or three who had challenges remembering the poem we use to help them knit. When I would stand there and say the poem to them, they could make a stitch properly. Then I would have to go help another child and I’d come back, and at least two of them would have wrapped the yarn all around that needle a bunch of times each stitch. One of those kidz is coming back Thursday so maybe she’ll get more repetition that way. The confused ones are much younger. If they keep getting confused I will have them finger crochet for a while, then I’ll finger knit (it makes something like a loose I-Cord) and then we’ll try again.

Bargello Quilt Dreaming

Tuesday, January 6th, 2004

Well, at JoAnn last week there was a very good sale on cotton brushed flannel. I had been contemplating how a flannel quilt would be a comfy thing to wrap myself in on the couch, now that I can’t have the down comforters I used to wrap myself in. (I am very allergic to birds, I don’t know why I thought I could have down bedding.)

I am not really fond of the texture of woven cotton. I like knit cotton fabrics, especially those with Lycra in them. But I do just love cotton flannel. So here I go… I gave in to the good prices on the fabrics and dove in. There were several fabrics in colors I like together, so I did it.

I have a wonderful wall quilt (see picture) that was made for me by my sister-in-law, Judy. She picked my name at Christmas one year when I was very new in the family. She figured out early what my favorite colors were, and she made me this incredible quilt. It is a technique called “Bargello” quilting. Interestingly, I had a book on bargello quilts which I got as inspiration for my polymer clay work, so I knew about the technique.

Essentially, you join the fabrics into a sheet of horizontal strips (often the same height), then you slice the strips crossways into vertical strips (typically not the same width, because you have already graphed a curve on paper and determined which widths would create the curve you want). Then you take those vertical strips and slide them up or down depending on the pattern you want, and seam them together (sometimes with a spacer strip between them). There are amazing possibilities with this technique, but even the simplest one is a visual delight. And what I like is that this is a beautiful way to work with color, without making tiny little triangles or some such thing. Strips cut into strips and then sewn back together, I think I can do this.

So here is a picture of the fabrics I have right now, chosen for the quilt and in an order I like (at least today). Of course, now seeing them in a photograph I want to change them around some more, and I surely will play with it for a while before I finalize anything. The bold green seems so out of place no matter what I do with it, until I remove it from the group. Then the whole thing becomes boring. I think that color will take the most thought, but it definitely needs to remain.

I have more of the dark turquoise with pinkish roses (because I love the colors best), so for now I’m hoping to feature that fabric more prominently, using it twice in the color transitions. I may change my mind later, we’ll see.

I expect this project will have a slow development. For one thing, I hadn’t used my sewing machine in 1.5 years and I just unearthed it for a couple holiday gifts. In order to do a quilt I will no doubt have to bring it down to the kitchen table to get the fabric laid out well. But hey, I made a comforter once when I was about 20 years old, and I sewed the edges just fine. I can do it again. Actually, for about 10 years, sewing was my primary creative outlet but I typically sewed clothing during those years. Before that I did a lot of household sewing, so this will just be a blast from the past. I have not done quilting, but straight lines I can handle.

I think I’ll enjoy the quilt when it finally has been borne into this world. I need to allow myself time to work into this. For one thing, I still don’t have all my supplies. I need to decide what batting I want inside the quilt. My bargello quilt book suggests very thin batting to show off the pattern best. However, the author often makes wall quilts, where I can see that thin would be good.

I have this great idea that a wool batt would be wonderful… and I know at least two sources for these, but they are not inexpensive. On the other hand, Jo-Ann has some very nice cotton batting that comes really wide (I think 90″ wide and that is how long my quilt needs to be if it is a twin bed size as I am planning right now).

Oh, in other great news… I have been singing and it is wonderful. I’m working up two new songs, with Brian’s help. (What would I do without him to figure out the chords for me?) We will be performing at a party on Sunday and I think I’ll be a full member of The Fabulous Heftones again. Finally. Life is good, when I can sing.

Riin’s New Website

Monday, January 5th, 2004

Riin GillDo you remember my friend, Riin, who was featured in an article at University of Michigan a few months ago? Well, she writes that she has a new website, called Riin’s Rants.

Riin has opinions, as many intelligent folks do… well-thought-out opinions, and this is her place to express them. She talks about her preference of bikes over cars, her love of gardening, and spinning/knitting… among other subjects.

The vest she is wearing in the picture she knit from a Lucy Neatby pattern (she usually knits designs of her own). However, she spun the yarn from fiber she got in a Spinners Flock roving exchange. I think she really got that yarn just about perfect for a project of this type!

I have seen this vest, and several of her other projects. Lovely work.

Susan D. Luks Designs

Sunday, January 4th, 2004

Susan D. Luks DesignsI have known Susan Luks since we were in elementary school. She was the year behind me, and her sister Bethany was in my grade. In Middle School, I was good friends with Bethany (and Bethany and Susan were very close), so we hung out together quite a lot.

I remember that their family was more into making things than my family. Once we made bread, something I had never done before (it didn’t rise) and often we talked about sewing. I remember one Easter I was inspired by Bethany and Susan who were making their dresses, and so I made my own Easter dress, too.

Well, the other day I was working the cutting counter and who was my next customer, but Susan! We have run into each other off and on in recent years (last time was at a poetry reading, I think). We both had some difficult years and are more content now. She positively glows.

And you should have SEEN the full-length coat she was wearing that day. It was many layers of beautiful fabrics, embellished and magnificent. When I watched her walk away, it was almost as though she was floating away. Sort of like women wearing saris from India… just a colorful float of feminine energy.

This cape is one of my favorite pieces from her site, but I am also in love with her long coats. Just wonderful stuff, I can not imagine how much time it takes for her since first she makes her fabric before making the garment. Beautiful.

Susan D. Luks and HearTheArt.comWell, I of course didn’t have a business card when Susan was at my table, so I hastily scribbled my website address for her. And today she wrote me an email, in part letting me know where to find her creative site as well.

She has two types of artful products on her site, Hear The Art. One is the beautiful clothing, including capes, long and short coats, vests, purses and wraps. The other is a great line of greeting cards. I love the one that reads “dance color dance joy dance heart.” Of course!

Please check out this wonderful, colorful site. Artworks from my friend, Susan, a woman I’m proud to have known a very long time.