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Archive for September, 2004

Eudora at New Aladdins: Friday, Oct. 1!

Thursday, September 30th, 2004

Wow, this one snuck up on me but I’m dancing this week (as my alter-ego, Eudora) at New Aladdin’s restaurant. It’s at Frandor in Lansing, across from the Motophoto and Panera, near the Video store, Chinese restaurant and Sparty’s.

There are shows at 6:30 and 8:00pm for about a half hour. There is no cover, but you’ll no doubt want to have a meal or a smoothie while you’re there (or the best rice pudding in Lansing, perhaps). The food is great, and really affordable.

It’s always a wonderful time, and I’d love to see friends if folks can make it.

I hope some of you can come.

Dianne’s Sale

Wednesday, September 29th, 2004

My fiber-friend Dianne, is having a big sale of fiber-related things. She has dozens of great books, fat quarters, silk rovings, craft magazines and will be following with all sorts of other goodies.

If you live in the Lansing area, she is also selling Elfa shelving units, a very fine brand new sewing/embroidery machine, and a brand new 8-thread serger, which are not on her site. Her email address is on the web page, so you can write her for details.

Check out her page at http://www.pbase.com/artintheattic. She will be adding wool rovings, felting books, and more items as she can get them on web pages. Check it out before it’s all gone.

I’m excited because (on a personal note) I got Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting book at a fantastic price! I’ve really wanted this book, it really sees knitting as art rather than just a way to make clothing. (Of course, making clothing is honorable… and it is what I and others usually do with knitting… yet I like pushing it sometimes. More accurately, I like it when others push it sometimes. But I digress.)

I encourage you to help out Dianne with her sale, and get a great deal at the same time. She has an amazing assortment of wonderful things ready to go!

Quilt Square for Habibi Baby

Tuesday, September 28th, 2004

In the Habibi Dancers, when a woman has a baby, the troupe makes a quilt for her. This is intended as a decorative quilt, a wall quilt rather than one that would be used on a bed. Each dancer makes a square (or two or three) and one woman volunteers to sew them all together.

This year we had three women expecting babies at the same time. And for some reason we are all dragging our feet longer than usual getting the quilts done. The first woman had her baby in November if I remember right, April had Isabel in April, and the last baby followed last in July.

So last week I finished the first square. It’s a block print of a woman dancing, I made on soft printing material. It was printed with Jacquard fabric paint (the best I’ve ever tried) on fabric provided to me by the woman making this quilt (we all have the same background fabric, to unify the piece). Then I sewed on a handful of turquoise glass beads. There is a border of a half inch on each side so that the seams can be sewn.

Of course, when I’m done with things I always know what I would do differently if I did it again. The cool news is that I have two more tries coming!!!

A Handspun, Handknit Wedding Veil

Monday, September 27th, 2004

June O., a woman on several of my email lists, just finished a lace wedding veil (blog entry September 26). She spun one teeny-tiny ply of cashmere/merino and plied it with a commercial strand of silk. Then she knit and knit and knit. You must see this beautiful thing. If you click on her photo (of the veil draped over her spinning wheel), you will see another view of the veil, being blocked flat.

Wowie! I can’t even imagine someone would attempt such a wonderful thing. Yet she did it, and it is gorgeous. Beautiful job, June.

Photo: Morning Glories in my garden the morning of the 26th. The artificial daisy was a gift from one of my adult computer students, and the flower climbed it to get more sun.

Fun Music Under the Pines

Sunday, September 26th, 2004

Saturday Night we had our joint concert with Mystic Shake, at Music Under the Pines. It was a really great time.

The concert ended up on the back deck of the house, to block a bit of wind since it was cooler than it has been in a long time. It worked out great (I brought a pile of blankets for folks who got chilly during the show, and we all were glad I did).

We knew my Mom and Fred were going to be there (on their way to a ballroom dance they had been looking forward to for a long while). However, we were surprised when Brian’s parents came as well. It turned out that Brian’s sister was in Michigan (from the east coast), so that she could be in a wedding for a friend… and the wedding was in East Lansing. She was staying with her parents in Grand Rapids, so they all drove to Lansing, they dropped Jennifer off at the wedding, and came to our concert. It was wonderful that they could come.

We ended up with about 30 folks there, about maximum for the deck. It was a very fun crowd (makes sense, with two very fun bands). It was also pretty cool… the guys in Mystic Shake know Brian because he sometimes sits in with the band and has recorded with them on occasion. But most of them had not heard us play as a duo. They really enjoyed our act. It means so much when other musicians let us know they like what we are doing.

Of course, I adore being on stage and this was a great spot, a great crowd, and a nice long set so we could really show off pieces from our CD and three of Brian’s four CD’s. We played an instrumental to highlight Brian’s ukulele expertise, we sang several songs in harmony and we did a good number of solo bits, taking turns. It felt luxurious to have that much time. (We play for 2 hours when we play at Altus, but some other places we play we have a very short time, often two or three numbers). It was even more fun to have some audience members who had not perhaps heard of us before… when we play Altus, the audience is primarily made up of friends and family. This was great fun.

When it was time for Mystic Shake to play, we had a grand time listening and participating. The guys have had this great thing for years, where Dick Rosemont (percussionist) took a bunch of cans and filled them with beans, taped them up, painted them bright shiny red, and then they pass them out as rhythm instruments for the audience. There is nothing like letting an audience play along, for creating a night of fun! There were enough cans for everyone who wanted to play, to have one. And I must say, the audience played shaker cans quite musically.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also talk about the great food! I did my usual minamalist contribution, so I brought olives and granny smith apples, cut in quarters, cored, brushed with orange juice and sprinkled with cinnamon. It took about five minutes but tasted great and allowed a healthy alternative (I think I ate most of them, to be honest, because the desserts were gorgeous).

When I got there, Barb (Ben’s wife, who does like to cook) was still working away in the kitchen, making these gorgeous rice-filled pastry appetizers… and she had already made tiny open-faced sandwiches, with cheese and fresh basil leaves. Pure art! They also had coffee and tea at the ready, which proved useful because of the chill in the air.

We didn’t want it to end, but of course it did. It was a wonderful time for us all. Good tunes, good fun, good company, good food. It doesn’t get better than that!

Photos: Mystic Shake having their trademark Rhythmic Fun (two shots), Brian singing “Mother, I’m Wild,” Fabulous Heftones doing an instrumental section, crowd with shaker cans (three shots).

Gramma Illa’s Quilt

Saturday, September 25th, 2004

Wowie… I visited my Mom Friday. She gave me the quilt I remembered from my childhood, a quilt with a wool top and cotton backing. A quilt I was sure had been lost in the years between my memories and now.

This quilt has been loved, used, and recently stored. My Gramma Illa (that is how she spelled it), my Mom’s mother, made it on the farm in Hanska, Minnesota (a Norwegian community very like the Lake Wobegon Garrison Keillor tells about). I don’t know exactly how old the quilt is, but Mom went to college in 1953 so it was before that, perhaps as many as ten years before.

Mom says that the inside filling of this quilt is another quilt that had worn out. The backing was Gramma’s bedspread at one time. The primary fabric, a loosely-woven twill in beige wool, was purchased as new fabric for Mom’s older sister to make a suit with a skirt. That beige is actually a lot of pieces put together in what appears to be random sections, to make it cover the desired area.

The plaid was a skirt of my mother’s. The solid burgundy was also fabric from a suit that same sister made. The houndstooth (front right corner) was the front panel of a jacket my mother had. She says the side and back panels of that suit were solid navy and the skirt was navy with little tweedy nibs and bits of contrasting color. The gray pinstripe appears to have once been a suit or coat, which Mom says was given to her family but never made into a garment for them as far as she recalls.

The edging appears to be a plain-weave in an early rayon. The navy squares are actually two different fabrics. One is a thin plain-weave wool and the other is a twill in what feels synthetic to me, but might be a high-quality worsted-spun/woven suit fabric. The top is pieced as many quilts are, but it is tied together rather than quilted. Some folks might call that a comforter, but I figure if the top is pieced, it’s a tied quilt. Maybe folks running a modern quilt contest would have categories I don’t know about… but we always called it a quilt and that seems right to me.

Mom says that when they were growing up on the farm, people would give them old clothing to re-use. Gramma’s cousin, Frances (with whom she was raised by their Grandmother as sisters) lived in the small city of Beaver Dam Wisconsin and she would send old clothing regularly. Old adult coats were taken apart at the seams, pressed, turned over so the inside surface became the outside, and smaller coats for children were cut from the pieces. Curtains became blouses for the girls. This is just what was done (in addition to the feed sacks for chicken feed being made of printed fabric… the girls took turns going down to the feed store to choose what print they wanted for a dress, and looked forward to that).

(Addition to post 10am Sept. 25… My mother writes: “Mom was 12 years older than her cousin. When mom was teaching, she would send her slightly used clothes to Frances when Frances was in college. Mom had lovely clothes and hats and enjoyed spending much of her money on clothes in those years. I kind of think that is why Frances sent us the clothes. It was her way of paying Mom back.”)

Nothing was wasted on the farm. Those were different days. These days, when my watch battery runs out or the band wears thin, it’s cheaper to buy a new watch than a new band or battery. I think it would be difficult to live as my mother was raised. (They did not have electricity for a long time, and they hand- pumped water, carried it inside, warmed it on the kitchen stove for a long while. They did get indoor running water at some point, but they had an outhouse until 1955 when Mom got married and her bedroom became the bathroom.) At least they were not throwing away millions of tons of plastic packaging every day. But I digress…

They were practical, they didn’t waste, and they made beautiful things from the resources they did have. In fact, somewhere I have a hot pad that my Gramma crocheted from the strings she pulled from sugar or flour bags when she opened them. She would save the strings until she had enough for a hot pad. It was single-crocheted in two discs, with all the ends going to one side. Then the two discs were placed with smooth sides out, and a crocheted lace was worked on the edges, connecting the two discs into one hot pad. Lovely artform, even though it was a practical thing. If I find it I will be sure to take a photo for you.

Back to the quilt. This quilt has been used a LOT. There is a good-sized rip in the backing which will need repair before I use it. There are at least a dozen small moth holes in the quilt, even though Mom stored it with cedar (she thinks the holes might have been there before she got the quilt). I am thinking I may even do my best to re-weave the fabric in the places where the holes are worst. I do enjoy darning socks, I bet I would enjoy the meditation of fixing the holes if I could find a time when I didn’t feel guilty about sitting still.

I did wrap myself up in the quilt when I got home. I allowed myself to imagine myself being hugged by my beloved Gramma Illa. She was an extrordinary woman. I actually knew her better than my other relatives, because she did live in Michigan the last few years of her life, when I was a young adult.

I never heard her say one bad thing about anyone. She always looked at the bright side, although she wasn’t unrealistic about life. She had some hard times… her mother and younger sister died when she was 6 years old. She was widowed at the age of 64 and that was after she nursed her husband, my grandfather, back to health after a stroke and three smaller heart attacks.

She had some fun times, as well, as a young woman in the early 1920’s who went to college (three schools in three different states, actually) and enjoyed that very much. She was very beautiful. And she had many suitors, but only my Grandfather, who she met after she started working as a teacher, was acceptable to Gramma’s grandmother who had raised her. Once her grandmother approved, she felt able to marry. So she, an “old maid,” finally married at the age of 28. She had the last of her four children, three days before her 40th birthday. I could write a book on Gramma and maybe I will write more later. She was fascinating, as well as warm and loving.

I am absolutely thrilled with my quilt! I hope to find some time to work on it, but it will be a while before that happens. Let’s hope I can do it before the coldest part of the winter is upon us.

What I’ve Been Knitting

Friday, September 24th, 2004

ColorJoy Stole by LynnHWell, I have had a lot of time in the car, and a bit of time walking around festivals, and I’ve actually finished a few knitting projects. Imagine that! It seems that I usually make things up on the needles, which means I guess wrong at times and have to rip things out a lot. However, I’ve had three finished projects in the last few weeks.

First is the ColorJoy Stole for Heritage Spinning. It used perhaps 8 or 9 yarns, in wildly differing colors (including two multicolored yarns that did not look as though they would go well together, when the balls of yarn were side by side). There were three yarns in the hot pink/magenta range, and those brought the rest of the yarns together in style. It is very lovely. I already sent the stole to the shop, and I had no way to have anyone model it for me before I sent it. I will hope to get a willing model when I make it down there. The ColorJoy Stole class at Heritage is October 16, a Saturday. I’m also teaching it at A Gathering Basket in Chelsea (between Jackson and Ann Arbor) on November 6 and 13, Saturday afternoons, and at Threadbear in Lansing on October 17, a Sunday. See my Class Schedule for these and other classes.

Second in the finished product list, is a pair of wristwarmers. I’m my own photographer, so you will have to believe me when I say I finished two of these and have been wearing them. It is a new yarn (Landscapes) from Lion Brand, which I found at JoAnn Fabrics. It’s a fat yarn, half acrylic and half wool, which says it will felt if you put it in the washer and dryer. (Actually, to quote their website, “Landscapes is a yarn made with an acrylic core [50%] that is wrapped with a wool wrap [50%]. It does not felt exactly as 100% Wool felts and may need additional washing to fully felt.” It further states that if you knit it along with Fun Fur, it is washable but will not felt.)

Wristwarmer by LynnHI made two wristwarmers from one ball of yarn, and had enough left over to make a small square which I’ll test in the washer one of these days. I didn’t like how the yarn looked in the ball, at all. I bought it anyway, because it had turquoise and lime green, which I love together. However, knit up, the colorway is growing on me.

I wear wristwarmers a lot, from about September through May or June. My hands get cold easily and I have intermittently-bad wrists. These keep both arthritic hands and sore wrists happier, while allowing me full range of motion. I can even knit with these on. However, I tend to lose one wristwarmer at a time during the end of the cold season, because I take them off halfway through the day and then don’t know where one went. The last pair I made were from a more pricey yarn and I knit a pair, then a single replacement, then another replacement. I decided that the next time around I’d try a lower-end yarn with some wool, and when I saw this fascinating, somewhat odd yarn, I figured this was a good way to test it out.

Heritage Heirloom Socks by LynnHThird is something that delights me: my Heritage Heirloom Socks, which I finished in the car on the way home from Ukulele Expo. These are named for Heritage Spinning (the shop where I’m teaching the class) and Heirloom 6-ply Easy-Care Yarn (from which they are knit). I’ll be teaching this class for Heritage in just 9 short days, on Saturday, October 2. The shop is in Lake Orion, just north of Pontiac here in Michigan. Lovely shop, if anyone in that general corner of the state wants to join us.

These socks really please me. They look good to my eye, and they have (get this) only *nine* rows where the knitter needs to work with two colors on the same row! It is the perfect project for someone who loves the look of colorwork but has been avoiding it, thinking it will be tedious. This yarn comes in a huge range of colors, from my favorite bright cool tones to these lovely pure earthtones, and some soft colors as well, so everyone should be able to find colors they love that will work well together. I’ve made several pairs of socks from this yarn already, and they go in the washer and dryer well. It’s also DK weight so it knits quickly, yet the socks fit in all but my dress shoes.

OK, I’m a showoff, with three finished items in one post. But I tell you, sometimes I go a LONG time without finishing anything. This feels good.

Incredible Cityscape Sunset

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

This entry falls under miscellaneous artforms, as did the rainbow last week. I was running errands today as the sun was going down. I was at the Comerica Bank parking lot near Frandor Shopping Center. If I looked straight at highway US127, I saw an incredible sunset.

Out came my camera! There I was in a city parking lot, taking pictures of a highway and telephone wires and poles. And the view was pure and beautiful, in spite of the man-made bits in the way.

There is no way to beat this sort of art, is there?

Bags to Go! Class Tomorrow

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

Bags to Go! by LynnHKnitters in or near Lansing: I’m teaching my Bags to Go! class at Threadbear Fiberarts tomorrow (Friday, September 24), from 11am to 1:30pm. One short session can get you started on gifts for this year’s holidays, or a fun and quick project for yourself.

Contact rob@threadbearfiberarts.com, or call 517/703-9276, to register.

Ukulele Expo 2004 (Pocanos Mountains), Part 2

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2004

The concert lineup Saturday night was great. First they inducted George Formby into the Ukulele Hall of Fame. He was a very famous comic musician in England who was almost always found singing with banjo ukulele. There is a George Formby Society in England and two folks from that group (Nigel and Sylvia, whose photos are in yesterday’s post) came over the “big pond” to be part of the festivities. They played a tune for us at the concert, and then Ralph Shaw from Canada (he is originally from England) also entertained us with several lively Formby numbers. It was just one guy and a uke, and he was totally engaging and entertaining. It’s just grand to see how this can work. There is no need for smoke machines, laser lights or a drum set. Just a guy and a uke. Wonderful.

I didn’t take notes on all the performers, and there was no program printed for the event. I did take photographs of all the people on stage. Unfortunately, the light was so poor none of the photos turned out. (I actually had this problem all weekend, either there was backlight which was too much, or there was such low lighting that the photos captured nothing or nearly nothing. You’ll notice that many of today’s photos have very little color in them, because I had to play serious tricks in PhotoShop to make you be able to see the people in them at all.)

I sure hope I don’t miss anyone… everyone was wonderful. Because my method of documenting my evening has failed, I will tell about performers I heard, but not in order.

Our friend from Wisconsin, Lil’ Rev, played. I always love seeing him… he, too, can grab an audience entirely, sitting in a chair on a stage with his uke (plus kazoo and/or harmonica sometimes). We heard from Shorty Long (Pops Bayless and Mysterious John, plus a few local musicians to back them up). They are thoroughly entertaining, and we enjoyed seeing them again. James Hill, virtuoso ukulele player (Gen X no less, he’s a young thing) blew us away with solo uke (no voice) including Summertime, Theme from Super Mario Brothers, and the Flight of the Bumblebee, among others.

There was a duo, brothers, from Minnesota. They played Hawaiian music and sang wonderful harmonies. I don’t know their names. I really wish there had been a printed program, for both nights. We missed Friday’s show, where I know we missed Paul Moore from Israel and Rick Russo from Rhode Island. I don’t know who else we missed on Friday, because there was no documentation. Maybe someone else who went will also chronicle it, no doubt more accurately than me, and I will be able to see what I missed, after the fact.

Anyway, I must confess that the big deal to me, was to hear The Moonlighters. I’ve been a fan for a while, since I’ve been listening to Uke Jackson’s Flaming Ukulele Radio Hour. And to hear them in person, was just wonderful.

What an act! This is two women, Bliss and Carla (on guitar and ukulele), singing their hearts out in the most amazing harmonies I’ve heard in a long while… backed up by two gentlemen playing bass and dobro. Most of their material is original (primarily written by Bliss), and all of their harmony is as good as it gets. They are together but relaxed, and it’s just a wonder to listen to them. I got to talk to three of them after the show, especially Carla. We traded CDs, so I’ve been listening to Moonlighters a lot while working at home since I got back.

After the concert came my favorite part of the whole weekend. We jammed until 3am, with the performers and a few other friends. It was probably the most wonderful jam session I’ve ever participated in. We first stood in the hallway with Fred Fallin from Chicago, and James Hill, and Lil’ Rev, and we played a lot of the Tin Pan Alley music we typically play. Fred is a literal dictionary of this sort of music, and he just fires off one tune after the other with no break in between. Fabulous!

Then we moved onstage to a larger group, perhaps 25 people on that stage all playing at once. I can’t remember everyone’s name so maybe I shouldn’t try, but the pictures should speak for themselves.

You know, the Ukulele crowd is so welcoming and warm, it just makes my heart smile. Here we were, from new uke players (the man next to me had his chord chart on his lap while he played) to big names in the uke business. Incredible musicians, most of them, and yet everyone had a great time and took turns like grownups. I do laugh, because playing music with a bunch of performers is a lot like hanging out with a room full of first-borns (I’m a first-born, so I am not pointing fingers except perhaps at myself). We’re most of us big personalities and we all definitely want our turn at the limelight, we want a solo now and then. Yet in this group, all those who want a turn seem to get one, if they just start a song during the lull between tunes.

At one point, Carla of the Moonlighters noticed that it was 3am, and a lot of the performers had to teach workshops the next morning. So we sort of started to roll it all up for the night, and I got my own turn at a solo. I sang “Three O’Clock in the Morning” from our Moon June Spoon album, which went over well. It’s a different sort of tune, because it’s a little earlier than the stuff we had played most of the night, and a little more operatic or something. But it’s a lovely tune and it sort of wrapped up the session nicely.

On the way back to our room we ran into four folks in the main lobby, two women dancing the hula and two musicians including Rick Russo. The ATM machine was beeping with an error message the whole time but they were able to ignore it and dance away. It was a lovely, sweet way to end the evening.

Sunday morning we got up and found a cup o’tea, and got talking to a bunch of the vendors. I had a nice talk with Liz and Jim Beloff, and got talking with Michael DaSilva who builds gorgeous ukuleles in Oakland, California.

I really liked talking with Michael. We talked for a good long while. I’m going to send him some sheets of Polymer Clay and he’s going to see if they might work for a decorative inlay in wood. I know it isn’t durable enough for a fretboard, where it would be most beautiful, but I theorize it might go on a part of an instrument that would not be exposed to a lot of wear.

He’d like to have me come and teach in his new studio/shop in Oakland, is there anyone out there who knows a group of knitters in that neck of the woods who might like to study with me if I come out? I’d teach one day of Polymer buttons and beads, and then I could do any number of knitting classes, including ColorJoy Stoles (which includes how to choose yarns to go together when they don’t match), afterthought heel socks, perhaps work through a sock pattern I’ve written, or a class I haven’t thought of yet that you want to learn. Let me know!!!

We were able to sign up for Open Mic a second time, and that was a wonderful thing once more. The talent is amazing, in every way.

After Open Mic we wrapped things up, changed back into street clothes (I bought a Uke Expo T-shirt, something I don’t always do at events like this but it was tie-dyed), and worked our way out. I was very honored when Greg Hawkes (the guy from The Cars) found his way to me at Jim and Liz’s booth to say he enjoyed our act. That was very kind of him, to take that time and make my day.

I sure took a good look at a turquoise Fluke (a ukulele made for affordability, and often made in fun colors, by Jim/Liz Beloff’s company The Magic Fluke Company). Sigh, it was lovely in all ways, it played well, it looked beautiful. And this week I didn’t have the funds even for an affordable uke so I passed it by. But it sure made me smile when I played it!!!

On the way home, we had more trouble with traffic. The highway 209, which is what we had to take to get to US 80, was backed up and we couldn’t tell why. At one point I could see a McDonalds a block or so away, so I got out of the car, walked to the McDonald’s, waited in line, bought some drinks, and walked to the car. That’s how slow the traffic was going.

At least the slow traffic allowed me to take photos of a fieldstone/chrome diner (the 209 Diner) whose neon sign in the front window read “Our appearance is not the Taj Mahal, but our food is great.” I also got a great shot of the hand-painted sign for Adventure Golf (you can’t see it but the original text had faded so they glued new words over the old sign, without bothering to hide the old text underneath. I love the handpainted shark, it’s too fun! And I did get a shot from a too-far distance, of the sign for Muller’s Diner, which was approximately across the road from the 209 Diner. Muller’s had a better sign, but their building was not very interesting, just brick (maybe updated in the 80s?).

Also during the traffic jam, we got stopped on a bridge, so I shot this photo of a Pocanos Mountain stream, a few days after the torrential downpour of Ivan. Pretty, isn’t it?

We got home at 4am. At least the drive, once we got to US80, was very good. There was no rain, the traffic was light, and there were no accidents or construction sites. We listened to ukulele music most of the way home, and when we got more tired, we turned that off and made sure to talk back and forth so that we would stay engaged in the present. It was actually a wonderful talk. We didn’t have to solve the problems of running a household, so I got to ask Brian about things I hadn’t learned about him from before we met. It was wonderful.

I was sure glad to sleep in my own bed! I get to stay home for almost 5 weeks now, and I am very much looking forward to that. Meanwhile, we have some music to play here in town, this Saturday. We’re rehearsing each night for that, and there is nothing that makes me feel more married than working on music together. Aaah, this is the life!

Photos: Five shots of the jam session on the stage (can you see the curtains?). A goodbye shot… Brian, Me, Dave Pasant from East Lansing who we met there, Liz Beloff, Fred Fallin, uke maker Dave Talsma (also from Michigan). Rick Russo’s Ford Falcon (cool, huh?). The 209 Diner, sign for Adventure Golf, sign for Muller’s Diner, Pocanos stream. (Thanks to Davis Sweet for assistance in identifying a few faces for me.)

Ukulele Expo 2004 (Pocanos Mountains), Part 1

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

Wowie, what a weekend we have had! Friday we drove (and drove and drove, and sat on the highway, and drove, and sat still) for about fourteen hours to get to Bushkill Pennslvania, in the Pocanos Mountains, almost to New York state. It was supposed to take just less than ten hours. However:

1. We had torrential downpours from Cleveland, Ohio, to the very eastern part of Pennsylvania. This was thanks to the aftermath of hurricane Ivan. Actually, on Saturday there was a huge rockslide on US-80 (the route we took almost the whole way there) and they had to close the highway entirely… and the local roads had water over them so folks going both directions had to take turns going through the shallow parts of the road… we were lucky to get there when we did.

2. The downpours were responsible for three accidents, two of which took about fifteen minutes and one that took almost two hours to get through/around them. We lucked out on the two-hour one, though, because they re-opened the highway less than a minute from when we would have been forced to get off and detour through the mountains to get around it.

3. There was a construction site less than an hour from our final destination, where the traffic was literally sitting still like a parking lot, for 45 minutes. I don’t know about you, but my state would never allow that. Yes, they did have signs on the highway that there was construction and they recommended an alternate route. However, they did not offer any suggestions as to what might be an alternate route, so all of us from out of town had to go through the thick of it.

We got to the Expo after the evening concert was done. Boo Hoo! We missed some excellent musicians and especially after getting to know folks it was even more sad that we missed seeing them.

We were not the only ones with 14-hour trip stories. There were actually a good number of folks from Michigan there, and we all shared stories about our journeys. Shorty Long, a band from Texas, lost their luggage and CDs after a rough airplane ride, and had to drive to Philly to get them back. I think I am glad we drove!

However…. once we were there, it was “Swonderful, Smarvelous” and we didn’t get disappointed with the expo at all. In fact, when we walked in, the first person I saw was Liz Beloff who we’ve known for a few years now and who always makes me feel at home, no matter where we meet. We also saw a number of folks we knew from Midwest Ukefest 2004, including Fred Fallin from Chicago and Bob Cuoco from Cincinatti. We jammed (played music together, taking turns playing our own favorite songs and the rest following along) until almost 4:00am. After getting a very short night of sleep before the trip, we were pretty wiped out! I slept until 10:30 and was still a bit draggy the next day.

On Saturday we had such a wonderful time! We said hi to all the folks we could find who we knew. At 11am (lunch for them, breakfast for me) we sat with our friends from Dearborn and Ypsilanti who we met at Midwest Ukefest last year (and have seen since at the Dulcimer festival in Evart and at Wheatland).

I bought some sheet music from Bob Cuoco who has a wonderful collection of all things Ukulele. I talked with the guys from Elderly Instruments who were watching the sales table. I said hi to Jim and Liz Beloff, and greeted several performers we saw at Midwest Ukefest: Mysterious John from Shorty Long, Joel Eckhaus, Lil’ Rev, and probably some I didn’t know.

I spent time talking with folks I hadn’t met before, and that was fun also. I am living in fear that I won’t know someone’s name when I need to remember it next, but I truly had a wonderful time getting to know folks.

We played the Open Microphone session, and heard such a variety of styles there. From washboard playing, to a 7-yr old playing Itsy Bitsy Spider, to Andy Wolf (sp?) from New Hampshire who did this amazing song where each verse was done in a different dialect. He sang only in gibberish, but wowie could you identify the languages! Spanish, German, French, Chinese, and several others. It was remarkable and very musical. There were several couples doing all sorts of musical styles, and a uke club playing traditional and novelty tunes. It was great fun.

We meet a lot of folks when we play open mic sessions. After folks see us play, the approach us with stories of this or that song they love, or how they love that style of music, or whatever. It is a great way to meet people who are on our same wavelength. This time was no exception.

We changed out of our stage clothes and visited folks more in the late afternoon, and had a nice meal together at the little cafe (I found a nice salad with garlic-seasoned grilled chicken that was pretty darned tasty). Brian wanted to jam with more folks and all I wanted was to sit alone in the peace and quiet of our room. I really appreciated how quiet our room was, it was wonderful. So he went off to play tunes and I went back to the room.

In the room, I knit (I’m designing a sock for Heritage Spinning right now, on the road) for a while, and then I took a nap, so that I would be rested and refreshed for watching the evening concert.

I have so many pictures I made them a little smaller, to fit as many photos as I could, and to give an overall slide show sort of feeling here. These are the photos I took up till the time of the Saturday night concert, plus some open-microphone photos from Sunday.

Today’s photos are- Friday jam session (Brian standing at far right), friends from Michigan (Brian on far left), Open mic photos from both days, in no particular order: Brian and I as The Fabulous Heftones, Liz and Jim Beloff, Greg Hawkes who used to be the keyboard player for The Cars, the unmistakeable Uke Jackson who is DJ of the Flaming Ukulele Radio Hour and who has been playing our tunes on the air, Nigel and Sylvia (Nigel is the president of the George Formby Association in England), seven-year-old girl playing Itsy Bitsy Spider, five-year-old girl playing a one-note song, Jim and Pat from New Jersey… who were absolutely stylin’ the whole weekend, Andy Wolf(sp?) from New Hampshire who does wonderful musical gibberish in different accents, gentleman playing uke that looks like an airplane to me, duet on ukulele, voice and lap steel (slide) guitar, a couple playing a washboard tune (she said there was genuine residue from suds on her washboard), Wendy and Donna.

Music Under the Pines this Saturday

Monday, September 20th, 2004

Press release:

Mystic Shake & The Fabulous Heftones
Saturday, September 25, 7:00 – 10:00

In what we hope to be the first of a series, “Music Under the Pines” is proud to present Mystic Shake and The Fabulous Heftones for a special House Concert on Saturday, September 25 from 7:00 – 10:00!

The Fabulous Heftones will entertain you with romantic, dance and novelty tunes from 1900 to 1930. Their recent CD, Moon June Spoon, is a love story told in fifteen romance songs from the turn of the century. This band will be an invited act at the 2005 Midwest Ukefest, where they dazzled the crowds last October. The Fabulous Heftones are the duo of Brian Hefferan and Lynn Hershberger Hefferan. Accompaniment is on ukulele and Heftone bass, plus possible additions of Lynn’s whistling and a kazoo or two.

Mystic Shake will be providing their usual brand of “rhythmic fun” with shaker cans and maybe even the limbo stick! Songs from their three CDs have been played on National Public Radio, The Mitch Albom Show, and even Dr. Demento! TheyÂ’ll probably get Brian and Lynn to join them for some “Mystic Heftone” music at the end of the night!

Note: This concert will have very limited seating, and therefore will be by reservation only. (We really need your RSVP so we can plan!) It will be held outside if weather permits, or inside if it doesn’t. You need only to request an invitation, and we will supply directions to the venue in Haslett. The event will include a potluck (bring an appetizer, salad, or dessert to pass if you can) of munchies and the two-act concert, for a requested donation of $7 per person. (Children under 12 free.)

We are looking forward to making this an ongoing event, with different local and national artists – and would appreciate your support. Please come join us – it’s going to be fun!

To RSVP and get your invitation, contact by us by email at Lynn AT colorjoy DOT com, or call 517/339-1698 and leave a message for Ben.

Another Andean Hat

Sunday, September 19th, 2004

Hi, friends. We got back from Ukulele Expo in the Pocanos, at 4am Sunday night/Monday Morning. It was great, we loved it, I took a good number of pictures when I wasn’t playing/singing music.

However, I need to catch up on business today. I just can’t spend the time I would need to do a good reporting of the event. Therefore, here is another hat I got the same day I got the one I showed you on September 17.

This one is knit so tightly you can’t really see the stitches well. It is just an amazing example of how knitting could look if we chose to spend the time. I’m honored to be the keeper of this piece. I took a detail shot of the flap as well, so you can see more. Perhaps you can see that this ear flap has been repaired at least twice. The original sewing appears to be white, and the repairs were made once with burgundy thread/yarn and once with green. Also notice in the top photo, that the little decorative strands/pompoms were attached in two different ways, which also appears to be a repair.

Again, the knitting is without compare, yet the sewing is rough and crude. I love this piece, the knitting is museum-quality work if you ask me.

Notice that there are many rows with three colors in a row. Also notice that this ear flap is knit mostly in stockinette (of my four hats of this type, two have flaps fully garter stitch and the other is at least half garter). I have heard that they purl from the inside of a circular knitted piece, and they don’t typically use a knit stitch at all. (The pictures I’ve seen show them tensioning their yarn around their neck, which I’ve tried and it certainly makes purling easier than knitting.) Yet, the flat stockinette I see in these hats may mean that my information is wrong and at least some of the more expert knitters do both knit and purl stitches.

The last few rows of border on this hat were knit in garter stitch, which makes me think that the flap was knit back and forth with knit and purl stitches, finishing flat with all purl or all knit stitches. I’m not a curator or historian, I just love wonderful knitting, so I don’t have all the answers. I do know I can love these without knowing the full story.

I’ll be back with news of the weekend when I can get all the photos sorted and edited. That may be a few days.

Andean Hat

Friday, September 17th, 2004

While I need to spend time away from the computer, feast your eyes on this lovely thing: A hat I got in Ann Arbor (they don’t have any more, I bought the 4 they had) last spring. They were pretty clueless about where it was from, but it looks a lot like the Andean/Peruvian hats I’ve seen in photos (from more than one source) knit and worn by men in the mountains of South America.

I’m pretty sure this would be a cultural group that created this artform, rather than a nationality. Whatever the roots of the piece, it is truly art in all senses.

The piece is in wool, knit very tightly (I’m not looking at it right now but I think it’s 11 or more stitches per inch… one of the four hats has such tiny stitches people swear it’s woven). This hat was worn a lot, as the color on the inside of it is much more vibrant (yes, really) than what you see here.

Some of the rows have 3 colors per row in some of the hats. This one has a garter-stitch flap design, sewn on after the knitting. The sewing is very crude and coarse in comparison to the knitting.

Feast your eyes. I have pics of two of the four hats I own. I’ll plan to show the pics of the second, fairly soon.