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Archive for February, 2004

Back to Some Normalcy

Sunday, February 29th, 2004

Whew! It’s Sunday. I had only one obligation today, to work at JoAnn for a short shift. I was glad that on Sunday we open a little later, because one extra hour of sleep meant a lot after that late night!

I was glad to be at the store, especially when I saw that the new Interweave Knits magazine had landed since last I looked. I love that magazine! You must know by now, that I don’t knit sweaters from magazines. I rarely knit sweaters at all, and the two adult sweaters I knit for myself (in addition, I’ve knit one lace baby sweater and that’s the total of my sweater output) I knit to fit without a printed pattern. Yet I get so inspired by the shapes, the colors, the yarns, the creativity in knitting magazines. And I really love the Interweave Knits magazine for artful inspiration. For technique, I love InKnitters and Cast On. But for joy of knitting you can’t beat Interweave.

I am trying to get my ducks in a row so that I can lounge on the couch with a cup of Kukicha (Japanese roasted twig tea) and my magazine. I am looking forward to much of it, but especially the profile on Debbie Bliss (I love personal stories) and Beth Brown-Reinsel’s article on differences in knitting style/technique.

Brian and I went out to eat again at Gourmet Village, because I keep craving their garlic sauce. They didn’t have eggplant tonight so I had broccoli with garlic sauce, which tasted exactly right. Now I feel like a snake who needs to curl up and digest for a while! The magazine is the perfect excuse to do just that.

Here is (finally) a picture of my Zitron Trekking Sport yarn socks (yarn purchased at In Sheep’s Clothing in Marshall, MI where my friend Sue is part-owner and where I met my friend Lili last month). This is my pair number 88 of handknit socks, since about May 2001.

I knit these as afterthought/peasant heel socks, top down with rolled edge. I used the formula I gave to my students in my class at Heritage Spinning, and these fit just right. I’m very pleased. Good thing, too, because the next pair I did with a peasant heel I experimented with a little, and I can not get the heel to fit well after many reknitting experiences.

On the yet-unfinished pair, I’ve knit 5 toes so far and three heels. Ugh. I was trying to do star toes (with six sections rather than a wedge) and they just don’t work well for me, at least in this yarn. So I have ripped once again and I am crossing fingers if I do the wedge heel (like a wedge toe but decreased more slowly) that the sox will finally turn out well. The yarn is Mountain Colors Bearfoot that I got at Yarn for Ewe in Okemos (wow, it has been too long since I’ve been there, and I have two gift certificates burning a hole in my pocket since the holidays). Great yarn, this Bearfoot, it’s washable wool/mohair in beautiful blues and teal. I just wonder why for some reason they are refusing to fit well. Back to the tried and true wedge heel, I guess.

I realize I’ve done a *lot* of knitting this year so far, but have finished only two pair of sox in two months. Ugh. That means I am knitting things other than sox, and single sox as samples for publishing, as well as having some “hiccups” that I have not had time to figure out. When I get stuck, I start a new pair. It makes sure I do not waste any standing-still time, but it means I may have more unfinished projects than I really prefer to have.

I’m wearing these sox right now. They are really comfortable and warm. The sportweight yarn is just enough thicker than regular sockyarn to be warmer. It did melt a bit yesterday and today (actually, it was about 60F today) but it keeps freezing at night, so we are still in for a bit more cold before the season ends.

Off to my couch!

Pics from Saturday Evening

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

Here I am with late-breaking pictures from Saturday night! I love this photo, although I wish one shy grrl in the back left had peeked out at the camera!

From left, toward back and then front right again, we are: Hyjara, Phaedra, Maya, Sara (hiding), Hafsa (whose somewhat-impromptu wedding shower this was), Stuart, Mahtaab, Ron, Yasmina Amal (our Artistic Director/teacher). Don’t we look happy to have finally found a place to get a meal after 11pm?

A Dancing Saturday

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

Saturday, eight Habibi Dancers went to South Haven to perform in a dance concert. It was the day of “hiccups,” so to speak. First we met where we planned to leave our cars and share rides, but two cars in the lot had been vandalized. We had to find another place to park, which we did.

We got there without much fuss. When we walked in, our music was being played in the main stage area, so we could tell they got our music just fine. However, when we got on stage to perform, the CD skipped forward, backward, and had silent moments. It was a challenge to stay together but we did a good job in spite of it, and smiled through it all.

After the show, the other folks had planned a bit of a bachelorette party for one of the girls, who is getting married in Las Vegas this weekend to her partner of many years. I didn’t know this, because I was not at rehearsal last Wednesday, but I was OK to go along for the ride. Unfortunately, we were all hungry and there was no place to eat dinner after 11pm in South Haven (very much a summer community, a lovely quaint place that is quiet in the winter for the most part). We were told of one place that might be open, but we had bad instructions and got lost trying to find it. We finally found a liquor store that was open and they suggested we get out of South Haven for a 24-hour place.

We got back on the highway, found a Steak and Shake and ate. My problem was that I’d packed food (I can’t eat American food at any restaurant) and I didn’t have it with me. I figured I’d left it in my car in the parking confusion. So I ate a lettuce salad with lemon juice and pepper, and a cup of tea.

On the way from dinner to home, we hit a big accident and traffic was stopped on both sides of the highway. Fortunately we got there at the very end, and we only sat still for maybe 5-10 minutes. We were glad to have good company in the van while waiting. The Habibi group is really a lovely bunch.

We got to our cars at 2:30am. At that time, Sally realized that I had put my dinner in her van and then switched to riding in Kristi’s van. In other words, I *did* have my food with me on the trip and could have had real food when I was eating a salad. I did survive, in any case.

I got to bed at 3am. I work at 10am. It was a short night, but I’m ready for a day in Lansing.

Oh… in knitting news, I did start a pair of toe-up socks in the van and finished about half a foot on size 0 bamboo needles, during the commute to the dance. I’m knitting the yarn I got in Florida. I think I like these needles, even though they are an inch longer than my birch needles.

Lunch with a Four-Year-Old Girl

Friday, February 27th, 2004

Friday was my first full day back and I had much to do. I first had an online meeting, then I met Marlene C. to fold Working Women Artists newsletters for mailing, then I went to computer Client #1 for a short while. I had time to go to Altu’s for lunch before my next committment and I had not seen Altu for a while, so I headed over.

I almost never get there at noon, but there I was. There were several cars in the parking lot and I thought for a minute that maybe I should come back later. However, I went inside because it smelled too good to delay gratification.

Charles, Altu’s brother in law, is her front-end man. He is host, waiter, greeter, food translator, and sometimes-cook. He has two preschool-aged children. The oldest, a girl who is now four years old, is one of my favorite little people. She loves me, too. We met at a wedding shower a few years back. We did not speak much, but we danced together for most of the party. She now calls me “My Dancing Lady.” Whenever we meet, she gives me the most enthusiastic hugs she can give. It is a delight to spend time with her.

Somehow she was at the restaurant during lunch rush. And lunch rush was busier than usual. That would normally be a challenge, as a child that age really does not sit still easily. But it worked out well this time. I sat in a corner with the child, and she got a little bowl of the same food I was eating. She told me about herself. She wants to be an Animal Keeper and a Librarian and a Baker and a Restaurant Keeper and a good handful of other things. She thinks Altu is the best cook (so do I)! We sat in a sunny window and enjoyed the time together. As an extra bonus, I kept the child busy until all the lunch tables had been served.

This was the right way to spend my lunch! This is the right way to spend my life, really. I hope you had a good day, too.

Home, Sweet Home

Thursday, February 26th, 2004

I missed you… we had a busy day Wednesday, with a trip to Tampa, a shopping spree at the resale shops, and dinner with our only relative in Lakeland… she is a writer and musician, has been since the 1960’s, and so we have much to discuss. It was a jam-packed day… and at the end of it, we fixed Mom’s email system which kept my computer off their phone line and that delayed my posting.

I got home today (Thursday) and it is great to see Brian again. I had a wonderful time with Mom and Eric, but I was ready to see my sweetheart once more.

I have been thinking about the idea of “home” recently. I realize that there is no place I’ve ever lived that I didn’t really like. I tend to come in and make it my own (are you surprised?) with color and fabrics I like. Even when I had my efficiency apartment (the kitchen was so small you could not open the refrigerator and the oven at the same time) I loved that it was all mine.

Some people tell me they are not creative, but they have homes that really reflect themselves. Some people (like my friend Marlene C., especially) really make their homes a work of art. Marlene has one wall that is purple and one that is orange, in her very colorful home with many windows and collected artworks collected from travels and purchased from art friends. And of course her own works! They also have wonderful gardens which you can see from inside, which really makes the home artful, inside and out.

My home has many things I love, and Brian loves. You can tell we love music and color in this house! Unfortunately, I’m so enthusiastic about things that reflect my style, that my house is just full of what can look like clutter when I’m not right on top of it. And I am Soooooooo not “Suzy Homemaker” so often we live in a cluttered space. We love it anyway.

When I move, the last thing I pack is my teapot collection, and the first thing to come out when I get to my new place, is my teapot collection. I have not really been collecting for a long time now, but they are colorful and beautiful in shape, and I love the implication of a teapot… pouring hot lovely tea, often for a friend. What a welcoming idea, even with a plain-looking pot!

I realize that I love to travel, I have loved it for a long time… but I seem to keep a solid home front as a sort of home base. I lived in one house for about 12 years when I was a young adult. I moved a few times around the time of my divorce, then bought a house I had for 5 years (I moved and sold it because I married Brian and moved to the house he bought before he knew me). I’ve been in this house about 8 years or so. I didn’t choose the house, but it is home and I love it, perhaps as much as if I had chosen it myself. The neighborhood is not as energetic as my old one, but it is more stable instead. And the house is full of character.

The front of this house as it stands now, was built around 1904 (with varnished oak window trim) and the back was in the 1920’s sometime (pine floors and painted window trim). We have a claw-footed tub in a bathroom which was once a bedroom, we surmise from its size. The house surely once had an outhouse (or as my mother would say, a “path,” implying the destination of the path was an outhouse) rather than a flush toilet, given its location and age.

I love taking long trips. I love getting in the car and driving, particularly alone. When I was single after my divorce in particular, I traveled alone a lot. I went to Chicago uncountable times, and also Washington DC, New York City, San Francisco (I flew there as well as Portland Oregon), Minneapolis, and surely other places I am forgetting right now.

Eric (my brother) and I had a wonderful conversation this week about our favorite travels alone. He took a barefoot cruise to islands in the Caribbean once, and also took three weeks driving alone in Scotland with no particular agenda for 2 weeks. Loved every minute. I learned so much about him and his passions, by hearing him talk about that trip to Scotland this week. He went perhaps 10 years ago or nearly that, but he remembers detail well over time and I enjoyed his stories and historical background.

I used to go to Boston a lot, maybe 5 times in 3 years. I drove alone and if you drive really steadily it takes at least 16 hours. I tend to meander so it could take over 20 hours easily. But one day I was driving from Concord, Massachusetts to Boston, and I saw a sign that said “Walden Pond” indicating a right turn. I thought, “Why not?” It sounded too cool to miss. So I went. Right then, with a split-second decision. I could not have done that easily with a group or a passenger. And now Walden is one of my favorite places on earth… second only to Tulum, in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

Speaking of traveling, these pictures I took at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, on Wednesday. Eric loves otters, and they have a couple of river otters at the aquarium. We had fun watching them dive for small fish and generally frolic. They moved too fast for a good photograph, but here is a picture of a duck with five turtles (notice three turtle heads lined up in a row down the back of the log), a lizard whose species I do not know (he was over a foot long), and a picture of the gardens in front of the aquarium… the building there is the Tampa Port Authority. There are colorful buildings all over Florida, even governmental buildings! In East Lansing we have a colorful parking ramp and people generally do not like it. I do, of course!

An Adventure & a Thunderstorm

Wednesday, February 25th, 2004

Eric and I took it easy Tuesday. He slept in when I went out with Mom, and then we decided to go to Bok Gardens, about an hour from here in Lake Wales. I had checked the phone book, and the only yarn store was Yarn Basket in Winter Haven, which happened to be on the way. I also found in the phone book, a restaurant called Blue Nile. In Michigan we have a restaurant with that name that is Ethiopian, so we figured we would check it out.

First we went to lunch and we had no trouble finding the restaurant (3133 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland FL). It turns out the restaurant is open 11-2 most days but also open a few nights a week. It is a restaurant and wine bar… and not Ethiopian. It is run by a Scottish couple (he is also a professor at Florida Southern College) and the food is mostly inspired by the foods of India (Mulligitawny soup, Chicken Satay, Pappadams). We were intrigued. Eric got a Chicken Satay sandwich on a beautiful bun, and I got a salad with spiced shrimp and mango/papaya salsa (sort of a spiced chutney but fresh, not cooked down at all).

The food was absolutely superb. It was beautiful to look at and wonderful to eat. The woman who waited on us was very interesting and courteous. It was a small place and there were only 6 customers during the time we were there, so we got some excellent attention. She said they have been there for about 6 months and the word is getting out fairly well, she is encouraged. If you get to Lakeland, I recommend you check it out.

After that, we headed out for Yarn Basket. We found it with only one wrong turn. It was a large place, just packed with all sorts of yarns and threads for all sorts of needlecrafts. There was a lot of needlepoint there, as well as tatting and knitting. And then they also had a machine to make large photocopies… so when we were there, someone from the hospital came down to get copies made of some blueprints. Very interesting.

There were two ladies working. Apparently one of them was on the cover of a needlepoint magazine this issue and the phone has been ringing off the hook! They had a lot of cotton and acrylic yarns, but also a nice handful of froofy scarf-type yarns (I got a ball of turquoise eyelash yarn and nearly went home with some railroad type ribbon), and there were a decent number of colorways of sockyarn, mostly Regia. I got two balls of a mostly-white Regia with color flecks in it, which looks like random spots. I had never seen that colorway before, so I decided to grab it while I could.

While we were at the Yarn Basket, it started raining so hard we could not see out the windows for a while. We hung out inside to avoid the dounpour. Unfortunately, that made us delayed for the 3pm Carillion concert we had hoped to see at Bok Gardens. When we got to the gardens, it was really raining still and we had missed some of the concert already. We decided to forego getting wet and paying the parking fee when we would miss most of what we wanted to go there for.

So… we found a place called Spook Hill. When you park your car on a line marked on the road, and put your car in neutral, the car rolls backward and it appears as though you are going backward up a hill. It’s an optical illusion but it was fun to try.

After that we tried to find the Lake Wales Art Center. However, the person labeling the signs saying how far this or that place was, labeled things very much closer than they were. It said the Center was .9 miles or something, and then we drove about 2 miles and did not find the center. We found ourselves by a large strip mall and so we stopped at the Big Lots store for some computer supplies for Eric (and a hairbrush for me). Then we found a cord for my camera to connect to my laptop (I forgot the one I use at home), at the Radio Shack. We had fun even though these are places we have at home… and that cord means you can see these pictures today.

Oh, I did enjoy checking out the neon signs we found on the way down. I just love the artform that can be found in these signs, and when I travel I try to get as many pictures of them as I can. We took side roads so we could get to the yarn store, and that took us through older areas with great signs. I don’t know what town this sign was in. Eric was able to take the picture through an open window as we sat at a stoplight.

We went back to Mom’s and she and Fred took us out to dinner for Mongolian barbecue at China Pearl in the next town. It was really tasty, and the people who run the place are very friendly.

We got home just in time for another downpour! It is supposed to rain until about noon on Thursday, just about when I leave. Hopefully, Eric will get some sun while I’m flying home. He comes home Friday.

A Sunny Day, or so it Starts

Tuesday, February 24th, 2004

Mom and I got up early today to go to Ladies’ Breakfast. They have toast and coffee/tea, and share news, tell jokes, make plans for events such as an international potluck. I have gone to several of these over the last 6 years or so, and some faces are starting to be familiar to me. It was pleasant, although I did not love having an alarm clock on vacation. I did get almost 8 hours of sleep, but my brother is still sleeping in as I type this at 10am. He has been so sleep-deprived, I’m leaving him alone until he is good and ready to wake up.

Mom made me some soda bread, and cranberry sauce for jam. The combination is so fabulous! Sometimes I’m glad I can not eat “regular” food, because the foods I eat instead are so excellent. I have not made this soda bread before, but mom makes it for occasions when I visit, and I really enjoy it immensely.

Today, Eric and I are planning to go to a garden about an hour from here. They have a carillon which plays a concert at 3pm every day. We will be surrounded with music and nature, and we will get a bit of walking in. I am looking forward to it.

Tonight Mom is planning for us to go to a new “Chinese” restaurant that has a Mongolian Barbecue. You pick your own ingredients and they stir-fry it for you. I guess it is run by a Vietnamese man who used to live in Pennsylvania, in a city where Mom and Fred go a lot since Fred’s son lives there. Small world.

Michigan to Florida with Eric

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

Well, my Brother Eric and I spent a long but companionable day together today getting from Michigan to Lakeland Florida. I left my house around 8am and we got here to Lakeland after 7pm for a late dinner (the sun was down already).

We got great prices on tickets (considering that at least Eric’s school is on spring break this week) but it meant a long haul. We stayed on the same plane the whole time, but we went from Detroit, to Chicago, to Nashville, to Orlando (I knit two complete cuffs on sox made from Mountain Colors Bearfoot, on size 0 [2mm] Brittany birch needles). Then we rented a car to drive about an hour to Lakeland. When we got here, Mom fed us a wonderful meal of simple comfort foods, then we went for a walk.

I tell you, it is such a luxury to have this gift of time with my beloved brother. We realized that we have not spent a whole day together, probably since we went on a cruise with my old workplace… and I quit that job in 1999. I guess it has been about 5 years since we had a full day together. I’m loving every minute.

It’s snowing in Lansing tonight. However, I’m sitting here in Mom’s house and it is warm, 80 degrees F.

No pictures today. Picture a palm tree in your mind…

CityKidz Sew, a Sunday Date, and Family Plans

Sunday, February 22nd, 2004

On Saturday, I had a couple of my knitters stop by during computer time at my lab. Since I had only one child playing computer games, I had time to help them out. They reminded me that they had missed out on the two days I had worked with the shrunken/fulled sweaters. We brought out what was left of the sweaters and took a look at our possibilities.

They decided they would like to make bean bags. Fortunately, Mandy (the young woman at Foster who handles the craft programs) had some lima beans we could use… perfect because they are large and won’t fall out if the kids sew large stitches.

We cut out rectangles they could fold over, and therefore could sew just on three sides (kids are very big on speed, and they preferred to sew less rather than have symmetrical bags). I taught them to do a blanket stitch on the edges, which is a bit more secure than the overhand whip stitch they have used for other projects.

They did a nice job. One girl finished one of her two bags before they had to leave, the other was on the third side of her stitching. Since I am going to be gone next week, I sent the kids home with enough supplies to finish the projects at home.

A Day with Brian
I got pictures of the kids, but right now I’m posting this from Beaners coffee shop, testing out my new wireless modem that Brian gave me yesterday. I did not bring the cord I use to connect my camera to the computer. Fortunately, he had *his* camera so I could take pictures of us here.

We have had a wonderful day so far, enjoying the fact that we have the same day off for the first in a long time. I slept in, then he brought me a wonderful cup of tea while I woke up a little. I am not good in the morning, and he knows how much I enjoy a good cup of tea. He’s so good to me. He started that teakettle the minute he heard me stirring.

Later he took me to Gourmet Village Chinese restaurant where they have the best garlic sauce I’ve had! I had broccoli with garlic sauce this time, usually I get eggplant… and we got vegetarian steamed dumplings as well. Yum.

Now we are at Beaners. What a strange date! We are sitting at the same table, facing one another, but both typing away on our respective keyboards. We’re such geeks! I guess other people go together to movies and don’t talk for a longer time than this, so I should not feel too bad.

Today the sun is out and my eyes don’t even know how to deal with the light. I am loving it, though. Right now I’m sitting by a window where I can watch Grand River Avenue (the main drag through Michigan State University). The snow is melting but it’s mostly white (and brown) because there was so much of it to melt. You can see green bushes but not grass yet.

Tomorrow with Eric
Tomorrow I meet my brother Eric, bright and early, and we are flying down to see my mother in Florida. I will be there until Thursday, he is staying an extra day. I am most looking forward to the 5 hours we will be together in transit. I love my brother so deeply… he knows me more than anyone else in the world. In fact, he stood up for me at my wedding to Brian. I had a “Dude of Honor.” And why not? He’s the one who has always been there for me.

Unfortunately, we both are so over-busy that we rarely see one another anymore. We used to meet in a town partway between our homes, and talk until the restaurant closed. We have not done this in a long time now. I can’t wait to have Eric all to myself for hours on end! Mom sent us tickets (thank you, Mom), and she not only sent us a family vacation but she sent me the gift of my brother. I’m grateful.

Saying Goodbye

Friday, February 20th, 2004

My twelve-year-old knitter from Korea, who has been visiting the US for two months, had her last day with us Thursday. We had a good time but it was hard to say goodbye.

She brought some Korean food her aunt made for us. It looked a lot like California Rolls from a Japanese restaurant but had some differences. Half of them were wrapped in seaweed, half wrapped in very thin egg. According to what I could understand (her English is better than when she started but still very limited), the contents were: rice, egg, crabmeat, ham (or some sort of flavored pork), carrot, and pickle. They were dusted with sesame seeds. The plate was so beautiful I took a picture. She also brought two kinds of grapes, very beautiful picked from the stems and washed in a glass bowl.

It was sort of a fun day. I had one girl who came first and was alone with me for a while (she is in the picture in the back row). Then my korean girl (whose name I can not pronounce at all, even though I am reasonably good at language pronouncing) came with her goodies. Later a family group of one girl and two brothers (plus mom) came in, and later a set of sisters from the neighborhood, who are regulars, also joined us. They got downright silly with one another which was sort of a sweet way to show they cared. The kids all except perhaps one, at least tried the very unique food. In most cases, they really liked it, and by the end of the session there was no food left.

My girl who was leaving, finished her hat today. This was no small accomplishment, since it required a good deal of knitting at home, and she had to understand instructions I drew out on a piece of paper for her. I fortunately had a bit of her knitting to use as a gauge swatch when we started so we got the fit pretty good. It was perhaps a little too short and wanted to pop off her head a little, either that or she just didn’t want to wear it in the picture. However, it looked beautiful. She knit three sections in garter stitch (which is pretty stretchy) and after starting with a rectangle she decreased into a sort of triangle on top of the rectangle. Today she sewed the pieces together very well, and it looks wonderful. She was proud.

When it was time to leave I could tell she didn’t want to say goodbye. I started to shake her hand, but then stood back and asked “Do you want a hug?” because I sensed she did. Her aunt was there… I typically stay away from hugging the kids as good practice, and love them in other ways. But this was a big goodbye and I could tell. She said “YES!” and hugged me for a little longer than I would have expected. What a sweetheart she is. I’ll miss her.

A Wonderful CityKidz Knit! Day

Thursday, February 19th, 2004

Wowie. Sometimes I know I’m doing the right thing. Wednesday I had ten children in knitting, plus two adults came in as support as well. And my oldest girl brought me two presents, wrapped in turquoise tissue paper. One was tied in purple yarn, one in turquoise yarn.

The largest package was an earwarmer she had crocheted for me (she already knew how to crochet when she came to knitting class). Not just any earwarmer/headband, but one she had knit of purple yarn and embellished with beads tied on with turquoise yarn, and tassels in both turquoise and purple. Sort of little ponytails on the headwarmer. Very colorful, very me. Very fun! And warm! I tried to wear it at Foster for a while but it got too warm indoors.

The smaller package was a nosewarmer she made in the round, using a technique that is half knitting and half crochet. You pick up stitches on a long crochet hook and then crochet the stiches back in a chain of sorts. She showed me how she does it once, but I am not sure I could do it without assistance. This nosewarmer she embellished with tassels, thinking they would look like mouse whiskers. Very creative! I think in this picture they look like wings, sort of like a golden snitch from quidditch in the Harry Potter books.

OK, so the nosewarmer looks silly when I wear it, but this one is particularly warm and useful as well as fun. And it is purple, not the subdued teal I made my first one out of. It will be quite useful, I expect.

Several of the kids wanted to take my picture wearing my new gear, so I’m not sure who took this one. In any case, I hope I look as happy with my gift as I truly am.

Oh, and today was quite a wonderful day for the kids bringing in things they had finished. One girl had made a yarn doll last week and started making clothing out of yarn tassels for it. Today she brought in a box just brimming with a wardrobe for her doll, a shawl and a skirt and several other items. She was pleased. Just look at that smile. In this picture the doll is wearing a tassel skirt which is hard to see because it’s the same color as the doll. It is also wearing a knitted collar or shawl.

The next picture is two sisters on the left and sister/brother on right. The youngest of my knitters, the girl front left wanted to make a nosewarmer for herself. She took it home last week and apparently was so happy knitting at home that she knit quite a bit longer than she really needed to for the project. No problem, today she bound off and we added some yarn ties, and she had her nosewarmer. She was very happy, and she wore the nosewarmer out of the building. One of my dance friends told me later she had noticed this, how cute!

The boy at right front has been working on that square a very long time. He actually stopped coming for a while but is back with a vengeance. His sister tags along for the ride, but he is the one who really seems to understand how magic it is to make fabric from loops of yarn.

Today he was quite ready to bind off so we did so even though he didn’t quite have a square yet. This is the first piece of what will be a beanbag. He learned to cast on today and was still doing that for his next piece when he had to go home. He’s getting much better and much faster so I bet he will do some knitting at home this week.

The last picture is three girls who come together, at least two but I think three of them are sisters. The one at right was the one who made my gift. She also made a purse for someone special and brought it to show me. The middle girl made herself a very fine purse. It started as a scarf and a wristband I think. We discussed how projects can change in the middle of plans, and how that is normal and good to sort of “listen” to the item talk to you about its possibilities. She was very happy to have used a mother-of-pearl button that had been her Grandmother’s, to close the purse.

Aren’t these kids just grand??? I’m very proud of them.

Pie for My Guy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2004

I had promised Brian pie for Valentines day, but had been so busy I could not make one. Until Tuesday night. I got home from knitting guild and started right in.

I had never made a cherry pie before, but I followed the recipe on the minute tapioca box as my mother recommended. Although there was much too much pie filling for my frozen piecrust, I filled as full as possible and baked away. The remaining filling I boiled on the stove for ice cream topping.

It turned out I should have used less of the filling, as it boiled over a lot in the oven (thank goodness I baked it on top of a cookie sheet). I think it looks really handmade with love, doesn’t it? Not beautiful in a visual-art sense, but beautiful in other ways.

He liked his pie. I love cherry pie thickened with tapioca rather than cornstarch, it is much cleaner and fruitier. I’m glad he likes it, too.

Knitting Guild (MMKG)

Tuesday, February 17th, 2004

Tonight I went to MMKG, the Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild. What a great group of people we have.

Tracy A/Sweatergirl was wearing a sweater she had started years ago and set aside because it was too large. However, she’s now expecting a baby and so she picked up the sweater again, and it fits her wonderfully. What a nice ending to that story!

She also brought several sweaters she had knit for her baby. There were several really cute ones, but the one pictured here just won my heart. Isn’t it pure ColorJoy, in every sense? I do adore cables, but I don’t like knitting them. Tracy loves knitting them (often from yarn she spun herself). This multicolored cabled baby sweater is just as good as it gets, I think! Color *and* cables. Lucky baby.

Other online folks there tonight were Sharon P of KnitKnacks (who showed off her very lovely stole/wide scarf that she made in my class… I had not seen it in person yet), and Sarah Peasley/Handknitter was showing off her beautiful new red Bed and Breakfast sweater.. Did I miss anybody??? I hope not. I was sort of preoccupied (as usual, this time the excuse was that I was doing the main presentation/program). (Oh… Luann was there, she doesn’t have her own online presence but she reads my blog and has volunteered many, many times for my CityKidz Knit! program. And Teresa, also a reader but not a blogger, was there working on a charity project.)

Tonight the program was a short overview of some of the knitting software programs on the market. We had little time and lots to cover, but we talked about Sweater Wizard, Knitware Sweater Design, Sole Solutions, Sock Wizard, Stitch Painter Gold, and Magic Formula Calculator. Sharon P. kindly agreed to put together the handouts for me and then I agreed to do the actual presentation. I really enjoy doing things like this, so it worked out fine. Sharon’s handouts are just great, she fit a lot into a small space because she was very organized. She also made two pages of links and resources. I bow to you, Sharon!

Spinning Dreams

Monday, February 16th, 2004

Wowie, I am gone so much of the daytime these days, that I have little time to post here. I remind myself that people with passion for life often want to do more than they can fit into a day. And I would rather be passionate about living and all my various artforms, than bored or boring.

That said, I’ve got a lot of committments keeping me from home other than sleep hours lately. I did have a wonderful time yesterday. We went to Ann Arbor and played music with friends, and I knit on the way down and back (about an hour one way). I even knit a little at the jam session when they were playing music I could not figure out well enough to play.

On the way down, I knit about 5 rows on my ColorJoy stole for the class reunion we have coming up soon. However, at the jam I didn’t want to look distracted and have balls of five different yarns rolling all over the floor, so I switched to socks. Since my tweedy yarn sox are ready for the peasant heels to be knit, I again would have been distracted. Therefore, I switched to my new turquoise Australian yarn sox (I got the yarn Friday from Heritage Spinning).

These sox are DK weight on size 4 US needles, perhaps a little looser in gauge than would be best for good wear. However, the last time I knit this yarn I did it on size 1-1/2 Brittany needles, and it was not a pleasant experience. The gauge was so tight it was miserable. This time, the knitting is a delight. We’ll see how they wear, but they feel wonderful and springy this time, where the other pair is unyielding. I am doing this pair with peasant/afterthought heels again, because I got to the place where I should have started a heel flap, when I was at the jam session. I just quickly inserted waste yarn where the heel will be inserted later, and kept going in a tube. I got a few inches knit on either foot after that spot was marked, so these are really kicking along.

I am still delighting in the wool I bought on Saturday. I don’t know when I’ll have time to sit and spin at my wheel, but it may actually have to wait until I get back from Florida. (I’m going down to visit my Mom in Lakeland next Monday, one more week… and I’m staying until Thursday… I’m going with my brother this time and Brian is staying home, poor thing.) I am so looking forward to that time, and I will be able to sleep in at least a few days that short week I’m gone. Sigh…

Just to remind myself that I can in fact make pretty yarn, here is a picture of the first two-ply yarn I ever made (I still have not knit it into anything). The raspberry ply is merino cross I got from Nancy McRay of Woven Art, dyed with some dye Nancy gave to me for the occasion. The second ply is some coarser wool batt I got from a feltmaking workshop with Joan Livingstone about 3 years ago, where I dyed the wool with fuschia and turquoise dye and got pools of lovely cobalt, a wonderful surprise. It also still had some white showing which is great. That wool made a nice multicolor yarn to ply with the solid raspberry. I’m very happy with this yarn, although it is a little overspun.

The yarn is maybe a worsted weight. I just don’t know what to do with it yet. It is too lumpy to be good sockyarn. Maybe it will be in a stole one of these days.