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Archive for February, 2005

Michelle’s Fast Florida Footies

Monday, February 28th, 2005

Fast Florida Footies, pattern by LynnH, knit by MichelleI love it when you guys write to me! You make my day.

Michelle of Ooh Baby Knits writes that she made some socks for her daughter using my Fast Florida Footies pattern. She says: “They are knit with Sock It to Me from
Elann. It’s my turn next.”

It looks to me like Michelle did a kitchenered toe rather than my fave (decrease to 8 stitches and run the yarn tail through the remaining stitches). Changing to suit us is as it should be… socknitters are true artists, they adjust to their own needs and preferences. I love that about the knitting community. In the polymer clay community I would be asked “what color of green am I supposed to use?” In the knitting community it is assumed we will use a different color, probably, and a different yarn, at least half of the time. No big deal… in fact, it’s actually better when it’s personalized, you know?

Michelle, I hope you get a turn. I totally endorse selfish knitting… after all, we give up our own time to knit and I expect that we appreciate the effort we made to make them as much or more than anyone else could. So go ahead, and knit yourself the next pair!

I haven’t heard from Max in Canada for a while (I have two Max’s who write me from time to time, one a woman in Canada and one a man who is in the US, I think). Canadian Max was going to start a blog, I think. I wonder if that has occupied her time lately, I expect so. Can’t wait to hear how that is going!

Tracy H. wrote a week ago to let me know I had a few links that broke on my main patterns page, and I did fix the problem but never took the time to thank her.

Teri S. wrote to say she is going to stop in at Yarn Garden in Charlotte now that I let her know about it here in my blog. I am sure she’ll have a nice adventure there. Watch out, the Noro Kureyon might just jump into your shopping bag when you are looking the other way! I can’t believe how much of that stuff I’ve bought in the last few months between Yarn Garden and Little Red Schoolhouse! Enough to knit a tent, I’d bet! It’s imperfect stuff, to say the least, and yet the colors are so tantalizing we ignore the bad and embrace the good.

…And I hate to think of all the dressy yarns I’ve bought at Threadbear for stoles/wraps (enough for THREE of them) in the last few weeks as well. I’m knitting like crazy, really knitting a lot, but when will I sleep, if I am to ever finish all the knitting I started planning just this week? I have two wraps on the needles currently (one for me, me, me…speaking of selfish knitting… and one for a store sample at Threadbear, with one in the wings I swear is for me but probably will be a store sample at one of the other shops where I teach).

And I’m off to Yarn for Ewe (Hi, Ruth!) tomorrow (to pick up the amazingly perfect Ann Norling Fruit baby hat pattern, two copies… one for me and one for my friend April who already finished her first baby hat and is halfway through her second).

Let nobody say that I don’t celebrate my local yarn shops! They are all wonderful in their own personal style, and I adore them all. And I do know how *lucky* I am to have so many shops within an hour and 15 minutes! My goodness, do I have a lot of choices, and I take advantage of them all!

Oh, here is a quick update on this weekend’s activities: Saturday I taught a very fun Basketweave Rug class to four enthusiastic folks. It was a wonderful time. Then on Saturday night, Brian and I went to Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine for dinner, and we heard Clavel, our Spanish-language band (they are great) play. Sunday we played for the Mary Humphrey fundraiser at Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson. Mary is such a warm and caring person, it is no wonder that her friends rebuilt the studio from rubble to having a roof in merely a week, during frigid winter weather. I was glad to be part of her event this weekend.

Photographs: 1)Michelle’s Fast Florida Footies. 2)Basketweave Rug class… from left to right, Carol, Laurie (Lori?), Anonymous, and Sara (Sarah?). 3)Carol’s rug, at the beginning. Nice choices of color, huh? 4)Rug knit by Petra, employee of Threadbear, who took my rug class the first time I offered it. 5)Clavel playing at Altu’s. 6)View from our stage area in Ella Sharp Museum/Grainery Restaurant, of bidding on Silent Auction at Mary Humphrey’s benefit.

Life’s Sometimes Invisible Luxuries

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

I’m thinking about luxury today. I think about this differently since I came back from Africa. I’d been to Mexico before, but never longer than 10 days, and never more then 3 days in someone’s home… the rest of the time in Mexico I was a tourist in hotels, etc. But I was in Africa 38 days, and about 3-4 weeks of that was in homes. Very nice homes, even by standards here in my city, but they do live a different lifestyle in some ways.

For example, the kitchen in an African home might only have a refrigerator and sink and some workspace, but no stove. Instead, there might be a cooking room outside behind the house in a different building. This does make fire less of a hazard, and if you have hired someone to cook for you, they are not in your house as much.

Both in Africa and in Mexico, they are very conservative in use of water. The source is not abundant and they treat their supply with respect. Folks in the city, at least those with means, will have running water in the home. However, in outlying areas they carry jugs of water from a central well/water supply area, usually on their back but if they are lucky on the back of a donkey. In Africa and in Mexico, you need to drink bottled water or boil the water for 20 minutes before drinking it. We saw in Mexico that there are guys on 3-wheeled delivery bicycles, delivering large jugs of water to homes each morning, like a milkman did in the 1960s in the US.

In Africa and in Mexico, you have a supply of bottled water in your hotel room, or sometimes a pitcher in your room and a water cooler out in the hall from which you can fill the pitcher. In most places the water is included as part of the price of the room, but at the Marriott in Cairo it cost about $7 USD for one 1.5 liter bottle of Evian water. Fortunately, our driver found us a case of bottled water the next day, for a total cost of $3 USD for the case (the brand was Nestle, like the chocolates… I found that interesting), so we only had to pay for the expensive bottled water one day in the room.

In Lansing, Michigan, we have an abundant and clean water supply (it will run out eventually I suppose) which is well water from very deep wells under the city. We have a city-owned water utility company which processes the water to a purity level that is rarely found anywhere in the world.

I really learned to appreciate not just the safety but the quality of the water here, when we went to Indianapolis, Indiana last October for Midwest Ukefest. I could not get a good cup of tea the whole time I was there, and finally I realized that the problem was that the water was so hard it could not make good tea.

But here, last Monday, I had a day off work. And I was a bit chilled so I went to the wonderful dial on the wall, turned it, the heat came on, and I felt warm again. I decided to take a nice, long, hot bath. Then I ran a load of dishes in the dishwasher. Then the laundry chores began.

Now, I could call that a day of labor, of doing chores rather than playing. But there really was very little work to do those chores, and they took almost no time if you add them all up. In Africa we saw many people who climbed up the mountain to harvest wood for fires, and they were carrying HUGE loads of firewood on their backs to bring back to the populated areas. Some of the wood they would use themselves (more likely for cooking than heat, actually), and some they might also sell for an income. I don’t have to climb a mountain or carry a load on my back. I get to turn a dial on the wall. I’m spoiled, and now I know it!

So what did I do Monday with the time I saved with all these wonderful machines? I emailed people, some of whom don’t live in the US. I met a woman on Socknitters who is living in Turkey so we chatted about Turkish socks, a big interest of mine. I corresponded with three of my yarn shops. I used the phone (another luxury in many parts of the world) to call another yarn shop and two of my community centers where I work.

If my CD player was working well, I would have also been playing CDs (just got one, I think it’s called Women of Africa, that I can’t play yet because of technical difficulties… the CD stereo component I got in my divorce in 1991 has stopped opening its drawer… good thing there was no CD in it when it quit). Truth be known, I have a little portable CD player and if I could take the time to figure out how to connect it to my speakers indoors, I’d have music again. However, sometimes even silence can be a luxury.

Oh, and just for the record it was so dark outside (total cloudcover as is common for days on end here in the wintertime) I turned on the overhead lights in the house. And the power never wavered. We expect constant electricity here, but it’s not a given in Africa. In fact, I noticed in at least the three homes I was in for any length of time, they had floor-standing candelabras in case the power went out for lengthy periods. Most times the lights went out it was only for a few seconds, and I think the longest time was about 10 minutes, but in my bedroom that meant I could not see a thing until the lights went back on.

I say I live a simple life, and I think I do. It’s simpler to push a button to wash dishes than it is to spend time washing them in a sink. I have complex machines and systems supporting this lovely simple life.

Here is just part of my gratitude list today:

Safe, clean water that makes good tea.
Abundant hot water.
Good machines to do my home labors for me.
Central heat.
Fluffy towels.
Laundry machines and dishwasher.
Good ethnic restaurants in this town.
Modest neighborhood so safe I can nap on my front porch.
Good, affordable yarn from all over the world, available for purchase in my town.
Folks who actually read this weblog time and again.
Good relationships with my family of origin.
Loving and creative friends, my “family of choice.”
A wonderful husband who loves me.

Life is good, isn’t it?

Photos (first 4 in Ethiopia): 1)Mini-stores where you can buy jugs for carrying water. 2) Donkeys outside the city, carrying waterjugs to or from a public water source. 3 & 4)Women carrying firewood on their backs, going down the mountain in Addis Ababa… blurry because they were taken from a moving vehicle.

5)Lock on gate to 2nd floor (where bedrooms are) in very fancy home in Nairobi, Kenya. Our hosts in Kenya told us that Nairobi could be paradise to live in, if only security were better. However, they deal with crime of different types, far too regularly. To get to their house you have to get in through a guard station into the “subdivision,” and then when you get to their house you honk and the private guard runs to let you in. Then to get into the house, the maid/cook lets you in, and at night you climb the stairs and lock this padlock on the gate to the 2nd floor. All closets have locks, all bathrooms and bedrooms have locks with keys. The house was incredibly gorgeous, but I prefer my little, safe home in Lansing.

5)My House! Safe, little (for Lansing, anyway… the lot is less than 40 ft wide but that might be luxury in Chicago), cute, solidly built, and small enough to maintain… just right, as Goldilocks would say. 6)My view, in my hammock, on my lovely purple-floored porch. Straight ahead you see the trees, with the color of the leaves I am trying to reproduce in my spring green wrap I started a few days ago.

Gratitude, Again

Saturday, February 26th, 2005

Today I’m full of gratitude. The sun is shining, my feet are finally warm (it has been humid here and no matter how warm the inside of the house, they have been cold). And I am teaching knitting today.

I love my job. I love teaching people how wonderful knitting can be, showing them new wonderful yarns, stretching them, explaining things they never saw before. Today’s class is supposedly about how to knit a basketweave rug. However, it really is a great lesson in what a knit stitch looks like and what a purl stitch looks like, and how to count rows, how to tell if you are on the “right” side of the fabric, things we can ignore in other projects. It’s not a hard project, I’ve had knitters join me who had only made garter stitch scarves before… and they came away delighted with their new skills and new project (Hi, Carol!).

Teaching is a high. Today I think I have 5 students, which is a wonderful class size… enough to get a lot of energy going and not so many that they have to wait for my attention to their questions. I’m really looking forward to my class.

Photos today are my sample for the new Dressy Wrap for Prom/Special Occasions class I’ll be teaching at Threadbear on Saturday, March 26. (Late update: I did finally update my Classes Page with these two class offerings, page changed late evening on Saturday.)

First photo is the stole as it looked the first night after knitting like mad… second is the yarns I chose for it, just three very special yarns that work perfectly together. I have knit a lot more since I took these pictures but I can’t take the time before my class to edit new photos. I’ll be back with more, just wait!

Benefit for Mary Humphrey, Sunday

Friday, February 25th, 2005

Brian and I will be performing on Sunday in Jackson. The event is a benefit to help Mary Humphrey, a Jackson Potter/Instructor. Her studio burned to the ground on Christmas Eve. I don’t know Mary, but a woman I know in Working Women Artists knows her and asked if we would entertain. We’re delighted to contribute.

Here is what the flier says:

Starting Over

Ella Sharp Museum
Sunday, February 27, 2005 – 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
There will be live intertainment and light refreshments served.


To Help Rebuild Mary HumphreyÂ’s Studio

Fire destroyed MaryÂ’s clay studio on Christmas Eve, 2004.
The structure, equipment, tools, reference materials, clay, chemicals, and countless art pieces were lost. 25 years of awards and memories.

There will be a silent auction with the proceeds going to help rebuild MaryÂ’s Studio. There is an incredible collection of artwork including: Paintings, Pottery, Fiber Art and many other fun items. There will be staggered closing times for the auctioned items to insure (sic) you will not leave empty handed.

Some of the pottery pieces are donated by nationally known artist such as Phil Rogers, Scot Frankenberger, John Glick, Dick Lehman, I.B. Remsen, Marie Woo as well as many potters within the Mid-Michigan region.

DonÂ’t miss your chance to bid on these works of art and help Mary get back to making art.

Good-will donations will be accepted at the door.
Ella Sharp Museum, 3225 Fourth Street, Jackson, MI 49203- 517-787-2320

The rough schedule is this:
Event starts 1:00
Entertainment (The Fabulous Heftones) 1:15 – 2:15
Break 2:15 – 2:45
The first room, items closing 2:30
Entertainment (more Heftones) 3:45 – 3:15
The second/final room, items closing 3:30

Please consider joining us.

(So that the whole post today is not a bummer, just look at the kids I had at CityKidz Knit! on Thursday. Believe it or not, Thursday is my slow day. Wednesday I had nine at once, and four were boys. Two of the kids you see here just learned to knit on Wednesday and were back for more on Thursday. One is having lots of “hiccups” but she doesn’t mind at all, and the other took to it like a fish to water. The girl second from right was working on a wristband in variegated pastels, that she later gave to me. I’ve worn it two days in a row. I love these kids SOooooooo much!!!)

New Classes Scheduled!

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

I just scheduled two new classes at Threadbear and one at Little Red Schoolhouse, since I scheduled the Sunday Bag Class/Party at Yarn Garden for April 10. Each new possibility makes me happy. I hope all the classes go, and I’ll meet more and more great students!

What’s New?


Needlefelted Embellishments
Friday, March 25, 6-9pm
(See Feb 22 entry for one picture)

Dressy Wrap for Proms/Special Occasions (New Class!! New Project!!)
Saturday, March 26, Noon to 5

This will be a rectangular stole/wrap, significantly simpler than the ColorJoy Stole but with three yarns creating the loosely-knit garter-stitch fabric, rather than just one.

The class is intended for new knitters, primarily. I’m hoping young ladies who want to learn to knit and who are planning for prom will join me… but there’s plenty of room for the bride, the mother of the bride or grandmother of the bride, as well! Local folks, pass the word for me. It’s hard to find folks who don’t yet knit, who would enjoy my classes if only they knew about them.

Little Red Schoolhouse:

LynnH Watercolor Bag
Thursdays, March 31 & April 7, 6-9pm
This class looks like it will “go,” please join us.

I have a bunch of previously-scheduled classes coming right up as well, including:

this Saturday I’m teaching Basketweave Rug (a total luxury, you should feel what it’s like to stand on one of these completed rugs) which is a quick knit at 2.5 st/in. That class is at Threadbear. The class is a go, in fact there are only a few spots left.

Sunday, March 6, Wristwarmers for Beginners (and their Friends), a great class no matter what your skill level. This is at Little Red Schoolhouse from 12:30 to 4:30pm. The class is definitely a “go” so I’d love to have you join us.

Also at Little Red Schoolhouse I’ll be doing my most popular class, the ColorJoy Stole, on Saturday April 2 from 10am-4pm.

And Sunday, April 3, for those closer to the Detroit/Southeastern corner of Michigan, I’m teaching the Basketweave Rug at Heritage Spinning in Lake Orion (North of Pontiac, near the Palace of Auburn Hills). That class is Noon to 3pm.

If you want to see my full class list as it stands right now, visit my newly updated Classes Page.

Knitting to Invoke Springtime

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005

Today (well, Tuesday… though technically right now it’s early Wednesday morning) I had a day off. Well, much of a day, anyway! When classes are slow, I tend to work on administrative stuff a lot more, and I worked last night and this morning on webstuff. (I made all my creative business pages have white backgrounds, except the LynnH SockTour which would not be worth the effort.)

I’ve had input from several folks in the last year or so, that my text was too hard to read on a black background. When my pages were mostly photos, I liked how the colors would “pop” against a black background. Now that I have a lot of text, I think white is more appropriate, but it’s taken until now to find the time to do the work of switching over. Every photograph needs to be airbrushed with white background, and it’s tedious to say the least.

I also added individual description pages for nearly all my classes (all the classes I have photographs for, anyway) and for all my patterns. If you start at my main home page, ColorJoy.com or LynnH.com (they are the same page, they just have two alternate names/addresses), you can link to everything else I’ve got out there, all easier to read now with white background and dark purple text.

So after that, I had a doctor’s appointment that forced me out of the house and on the west side of town. So of COURSE I had to go to Threadbear, which was literally two blocks from the doctor. I took them the needlefelted hat to put on display so that we can try that class again (now that people can see at least one example of what one can do with needlefelting). But, while I was there I had a moment of rebellion.

Now, this rebellion happens to me every February. I rebel against the cold. Not that I can do anything about it, really. (Rob reminds me that this is Michigan, and this is February… we’re just plain going to be cold for a while longer.)

What I almost always do this time of year, is go straight for spring green and pale turquoise. If I dye yarn, it seems to always come out in that colorway. If I buy clothes, they are spring green. If I buy yarn (as I did today), it’s green and/or turquoise (and today also bits of blue and purple, but mostly green).

I had the winter blues… and retail therapy did the trick, I’m ashamed to say. I bought five different yarns in this spring theme, and I have already knit about 3-4 inches on a sort of stole.

Now, I’m also in rebellion against complexity and even mere counting in knitting right now. I don’t want to do a ColorJoy stole because every once in a blue moon (about every 5-6 rows) that calls for a beautiful dropped-garter stitch, and if you don’t count your stitches on the next row you can end up with a mess and yarn overs or dropped stitches you emphatically did not want.

So I’m making up something in multiple yarns but simpler than the ColorJoy Stole. I’m preparing to offer a class for teens to knit a wrap for prom or other special events, but I have to figure out if I’ll write the pattern (probably) or use someone else’s (the only real contender would be something perhaps out of Sally Melville’s Knit Stitch book, because I definitely want to welcome brand new knitters in this class). I think that what I’m making will probably work, if I can keep them from picking yarns that they will hate to knit!

It’s a sight for sore eyes. Exactly the green of spring leaves with the sun filtering through them at sunset. The color I see when I’m lucky enough to be on my porch, in the hammock, during a sunset. The ultimate experience in my world, I guarantee you, is just that!

Anyway, I have a green brushed mohair by Koigu, and a turquoise textured cotton by Manos del Uruguay, and two ribbons… one smooth and one a railroad with little specks of silver. And the last is sort of an airy short-eyelash in polyamide (nylon) in the most wonderful intense green-with-yellow color I’ve seen in a long time! I think I’ll call it my “Spring Thing” because that’s what it’s in my life for. To somehow magically bring on warmth and sunshine, by knitting it into being. I know that is magical thinking, but isn’t knitting magic anyway? Making fabric from long noodles of fiber?

Okay, I give. It’s February in Michigan. Today it snowed most of the day, though I did see the sun once for about 45 seconds. However, it was really good, pretty, soft, warmish snow. The temperature was above freezing and the snowflakes looked like a Perry Como Christmas special or something. Two houses in a row on my block have snowmen… three snowmen on two lots, next to one another. You gotta love that… kids reveling in the moment. Wish I could celebrated it like they do.

The piece is more stitches than the ColorJoy stole, and on smaller needles. It’s more like a woven fabric than a crocheted one (people ask all the time if my ColorJoy stole is crocheted, I think because there are stitches that are loose and airy, lacelike almost, like so much crochet can be.

I’m falling asleep at my keyboard again! Last night I fell asleep around midnight, this time on the heatvent on the floor. Woke up around 6am, tried to go upstairs and sleep as I often do, and could NOT fall asleep at all. So there I go, a short night after a long night. I did lie down for about 25 minutes, didn’t really sleep but I did rest, around noon. But I’d just love to have a regular sleep schedule one of these days!

Pictures: 1) Yarn for Spring Thing, fresh from the store. I was still wearing my coat when I took this photo, and continued to wear my coat until I had the two hanks wound into center-pull balls. I was in a HURRY!!! 2) The beginnings of my Spring Thing. (The colors are too intense and too contrasted here, the yarn picture is more real on my monitor). I love it already!

Sunday Party/Watercolor Bag Class Scheduled

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005

I just got word from Kim at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan, that we’re on for a Watercolor Bag class. She does these great Sunday parties that include food and fun and a project (I always marvel at the great food when creative people meet). I did polymer clay buttons and beads for her, I did Basketweave Rug in November, then ColorJoy Stole in January, and now we are doing the LynnH Watercolor Bag in April.

Class will be Sunday, April 10 from 1pm until about 3:30 or 4pm. Price is $25, and that includes a pattern. The drive from Lansing is pleasant, straight down I-69 and then a straight shot (after turning right at the exit) for a couple of miles, very easy to find across from the old courthouse. There is parking right behind the shop. It’s about a half hour from Lansing, and if you bring a friend it’s an excuse to have a very pleasant chat that ends before you know it.

Charlotte’s a sweet, old fashioned, gentle town. I’m sure you’ll love being there as I do. (And the pies at the diner just a block away… they amaze my husband, and he’s reeeeally particular about pie! I buy him a piece on the way home every time I visit Kim.)

You can contact Kim at Kim AT YarnGardenCharlotte DOT com to register, or call her at 517/541-9323 (I think it’s long distance from Lansing). I hope to see a bunch of you great friends there! (What would I do without you local folks? Thanks so much for your support in my classes.)

As usual, the picture today has nothing to do with my subject matter. I finished the needlefelted beret! It’s a purchased beret in a grayed teal, with some handspun/handpainted fingering wt. wool yarn needlefelted in freeform loops and squiggles. I didn’t spin or dye the yarn but it was perfect for the hat. The yarn isn’t quite as bright in person, and the hat color is softer, but that’s the nature of digital photography, I guess.

SockLady Spins! Blog

Monday, February 21st, 2005

(Quick personal note… happy birthday to my dear knitting buddy, Tony, who I won’t see today but I’m thinking ’bout him. I made him birthday cake last week and took him out for lunch Saturday but it’s still good to send good vibes out there on the proper day.)

Another sock fanatic with a sounds-alike name, Lynne in British Columbia, Canada, knits amazing socks. Some she makes up in stranded patterns she calls fair nordic knitting. Many of her socks are knit from yarn she spins herself. Some she knits from commercial sockyarns.

She is really prolific, and has probably knit significantly more pairs than my mere 108. I met Lynne a few years back, when she was visiting Ann Arbor. A bunch of online socknitters met at a restaurant and had a lively lunch!

I just read a post of Lynne’s on the socknitter list, and she started a blog in December. The current main blog page shows over a dozen pairs she has knit. She’s a color lover like me. Check her out at http://sockladyspins.blogspot.com/

In my own life, I finally slept like there was no tomorrow. I went to bed just after midnight and I slept for twelve hours. I never know what to think when I do that! I obviously needed it, and I have been stealing time to work from sleep time for over a week, but now where has my day gone?

It’s a holiday here (Presidents’ Day, to celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who both had February birthdays). My community ed classroom in Haslett is not open so I have the afternoon and evening off, so that will give me some of my lost time back. Ironically, I think I may run over to Yarn for Ewe which is a yarn shop really close to my classroom and a hassle to get to from this side of town. Yarn for Ewe has been my source for the Ann Norling fruit hat pattern since day one. These hats are so perfectly designed, easy to knit, fast, well explained… well, I keep buying the pattern and then giving it to this or that friend. So now I want the pattern and I don’t have a copy in the house.

Right now my friend April has a bunch of friends having babies. I knit a fruit hat for her daughter, Isabel, last April. She is just growing to the point where she can wear the hat, I guess I made it too big, but April thinks my timing is fine.

Anyway, April is good at crochet and has done minimal knitting. She wants to make fruit hats. So I taught her to knit in a circle and she’s merrily starting a hat. I need to get that pattern very soon so I know how long she should knit the tube before starting the leaves. It’s going to be adorable, in very pale pink and pale mint green.

So I’ll call Yarn for Ewe and see if they have what I need. If the pattern is in stock I’ll run over there for a while. On the day when I don’t need to go to that side of town anyway! Go figure.

In other news, I have been needlefelting some fingering weight handspun yarn on a purchased felted beret. I’m making little curlicue patterns that remind me of Nancy Reagan’s short chanel style jacket. Of course, Nancy would always wear red, but this is a soft gray-green/teal with needlefelted turquoise/aqua/white/pink/plum/blue-purple. It looks really good. Better than expected, actually. It takes some time, but it’s satisfying. I was doing this last night at Working Women Artists when everyone else was making collage greeting cards.

A teen who was there thought it looked pretty boring (to stab a needle up and down a zillion times). I told her, I’m not thinking about my right hand stabbing that much. I’m thinking ahead to what shape I’m going to make with the yarn next. She’s right, thinking about the action will make you nuts. It’s sort of the same with knitting socks in stockinette tubes. I knit something like 15000 stitches to make a pair and almost none of them require thought. So it’s a calming repetition, a twiddling of the thumbs, a worry bead.

I’ll have a pic of the hat when it’s done (I’m about halfway after one night of work on it, we’ll see when I pick it up again). Meanwhile, more Africa pictures.

These photos were taken in an area of Nairobi called Karen. This is the area where Karen Brixsen, author of “Out of Africa,” lived. 1) Wooded area in the Giraffe Center complex. The giraffe I fed, Daisy, had a six-week-old baby who is hiding in this picture, very near the middle toward the bottom of the photo. Giraffes have amazing camoflauge so she’s hard to spot if you don’t know where to look. Spot her by looking for the intersection of two branches in an “X” shape, and look directly to the right of that intersection. The baby is facing away from the camera, so we have a view of the tail side. See detail photo at bottom right… it’s fuzzy, but do you believe me now? 2) Garden outside the house where Karen Brixsen lived. This place is a museum now, and you can not take photos indoors but you can take photos of the gardens. Just gorgeous!!! This is the only place where Altu and I lost track of where the other person was… and it was not all that big, but all the trees and gates and hedges made it easy to get lost. 3) Arbor/walkway at the Karen estate. Gorgeous, isn’t it? And it would be very practical in a hot climate, to sit under greenery in the summertime. Feeling the breezes but with blocked sunshine, would be heaven.

Travelogue at Altu’s Restaurant.

Sunday, February 20th, 2005

I spent Saturday first with Tony at the Spinners Flock Sale (and lunch at Common Grill, a wonderful place I’d never been before). Then I came home and knuckled down, because I had promised a whole lot of people (the most important being Altu) that I would do a travelogue at her restaurant on Sunday.

Remember, I took more than 1400 pictures in Africa. Altu gave me a memory stick for her own camera, with 171 more photos on it. I’m grateful for her additions, because she had her camera set for a higher resolution than I did and her camera was able to take some absolutely wonderful photographs (you should see how well her camera does with sunsets, it’s heavenly).

I’ve given you folks a taste here and there of photos of my trip. Well, I showed almost none of these photos at the travelogue. And on April 10 I’ll do another travelogue at Working Women Artists (local folks, even if you are not a woman and/or an artist, please let me know if you want to come to that one). That one will focus more on the visual, the art and color and dancing of it all.

But man, oh man, did I have a task ahead of me. I ended up with 105 slides (some of which were maps showing our journey) and somehow nobody fell asleep during the process! Whew! I know I love to talk about things that i’m passionate about, and I always pray that I stop talking before I become a boor. It turned out fine, and lots of folks thanked me for the talk.

I talked to Regina after the talk was over. She is perhaps the most loyal of fans/friends, and seems to be at every performance I do, no matter if it’s dance or singing or talking to a crowd. Bless her! She is an artist and she really loves to study all artforms, whether in a book or by visiting art galleries/museums all over the world.

Regina mentioned she really liked a particular photo early in the presentation. She remembered it more by the colors than the subject matter… a woman after my own heart! I don’t know which one it was, but I am hoping it was one of these three, which are all from the historical Northern Ethiopia tour we took. The trip included Bahar Dar, Gondar and Lalibela. If I’m not mistaken, I believe these three photos were all taken in or near Bahar Dar, which is the area where the Blue Nile river begins.

Thanks to everyone who came to the travelogue. It’s snowy and nasty out, and we also unfortunately scheduled the talk at the same time as the Soweto Choir at Wharton Center (talk about bad timing) and a sold out MSU Women’s Basketball game… so we really do appreciate all those who did make it.

Photos: 1) Traditional Ethiopian homes, 2) Landscape near Bahar Dar, 3) Panoramic view including small waterfall which is the Blue Nile. It used to be a huge waterfall, just huge, but the water has been diverted (most days, anyway) for hydroelectric power generation in the last few years. Gorgeous view, isn’t it? We did quite a hike up some pretty steep hills to see this view, but it was worth the effort. I realize this photo is larger than I usually post here, but there is so much detail worth seeing, I ask your forgiveness this time.

I’m Not in Charge

Friday, February 18th, 2005

I’m practicing powerlessness these days. Let’s face it, some things we just do not have control over. It’s the essence of the serenity prayer (God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference). (Note: I typed this incorrectly when I posted it earlier… when I had not had a cup of tea yet. Corrections have been made now that I’m actually awake.)

It changed my life once, when I was in a very unhappy relationship and I learned that the serenity prayer could give me permission to let go of things I couldn’t control anyway. These days I am more in balance over my relationships and I’m in a great marriage, but I still have to remember what things I can not control and not obsess over them.

When I was in Africa, I had a mantra to get through times when I needed to wait for someone, when I couldn’t understand the conversations around me, when I did not know how long this or that would take. I kept repeating “I’m not in charge.” It kept things in perspective.

When we were in the back seat of just plain terrifying Cairo traffic, we had hired someone else to navigate for us, and we were not in charge. We needed to let the guy we hired do his job and not tell him what to do. When we were climbing dirty mountains in the northern historical area of Ethiopia (and I really don’t like getting dirty), I had signed up for the trek and I needed to do what our guide suggested.

When we went calling (visiting) on a family who had lost a family member, and I was the only one there who did not understand the language being spoken, I drank the soda pop they brought me, very slowly, because I could be there for a long time and I was not in charge.

When I needed to get money changed in Ethiopia and had to go with a relative on his dozen errands, one of which was going to the bank for me, it took however long it took and I was not in charge. In that last case, it turned out just wonderful because we got a long time to chat and get to know one another, and he took me to tea, and as long as I didn’t worry how long it would take, all was quite well.

I’m a funny girl. Often I end up in charge of something. I don’t really *like* being in charge, but I have a strong distaste for chaos when it comes to groups of people. When it looks like it’s time to try to “herd cats,” so to speak, and nobody in the room seems ready to create order, I find myself becoming “alpha chick” and doing my best to bring sanity to the room. I’m comfortable at the front of the room, especially in a teaching environment, but I’m just as happy to let someone else do the job.

So… in January I worked 3 weeks out of 4, because I was in Africa for that first week. Then I came home, and there were all sorts of classes I offered at several different locations. And the classes filled like crazy and I had a wonderful, busy month.

But February has been a different thing. Mind you, I thrive on teaching. There is an electric feeling in a room when people are learning new things! I adore teaching. Well, I’m teaching a series of computer courses for retirees, and those three classes have worked out fine. But I have offered seven knitting-related classes in four different yarn shops, and only one has been a “go” (with a very low enrollment). Again, I’m not in charge.

The good thing is that I have been able to spend time working on this new bag pattern. It is amazing how many hours it takes to put together a pattern. I don’t want to think about pay per hour when I do this part of my job, but it’s really important to support the other things I do. And when it’s all done, and people buy my patterns, and when people send me photos of their projects… well, I get ready to go and do it all over again!!

Cyndy just wrote me that she is tackling my Turkish Toe-Up pattern (which of course starts at the toe, the most challenging part of the whole pattern). It took her a few tries to get it started but she’s on a roll now. It makes me happy to see that folks are actually knitting my designs!!! I do my best to post photos here when I get the opportunity, so we will hope Cyndy posts her results when they are complete.

Well, officially Fridays are my day off, although I’d scheduled wristwarmers for 3 hours at Threadbear tonight. I just found out that the class is cancelled, with just one person signed up. This afternoon I will spend time with my friend Christie who is a very creative seamstress/tailor. I’m looking forward to that. I thought I’d have to run away from that meeting fast, so that I could prepare for class, but now we can spend leisurely time discussing anything we want!

Tomorrow is Spinners’ Flock (the spinning guild) Fleece Fair. It’s a huge sale of fleece and roving and all sorts of fiber-related stuff. I usually go and buy one little bump of fiber since I don’t spin too much, but it’s fun to go and see all the other folks, many of whom I know. Tony and I will have another excuse to pile in the car and bomb around Michigan. I really like talking to Tony, and a car ride is the perfect excuse to talk for literally hours! Should be great fun. His birthday is Monday so I might take him to lunch. Then back home to dye wool, I’m preparing for Bloomiefest (a small fiber retreat in Bloomington/Normal Illinois on March 12/13, if anyone is interested). I have to dye a lot of yarn between now and then! Never a dull moment, as they say!

Photos today: 1) Garter-stitch wristwarmer in bulky thick/thin handpainted yarn. Super-fast, super-warm, super fun! 2) Garter-stitch wristwarmer in two strands of Koigu PPPM yarn (this thing is so dense and so soft, it’s really warm, and the color will cheer anyone on gloomy days). These both are super easy and very effective at keeping the cold out. I still hold out faith that I’ll have a wristwarmer class that actually is a go, one of these times!!! For now, I will keep on knitting samples.

Kay’s First Sock/CityKidz Knit! Questions Answered

Thursday, February 17th, 2005

Everyone take a look at Kay/Phaedra’s first sock. (We dance together, I’ve mentioned here before what a great costumer she is.) She’s already nearly done with the second sock, too!

These were made toe-up, with heel flap under the heel, using a handout I use in my toe-up socks class. She used Cascade Fixation cotton/lycra yarn, the same yarn I also use in my Fast Florida Footies pattern (free on the web).

In other news, Cyndy wrote to ask if my CityKidz Knit! program at Foster Center had any current needs. She has perfect timing, because I was ready to write you about that this week.

Here is what I wrote back to her:

Wow, you are really catching my vibes! I was just thinking I might have to go on the blog and beg again. I always need short straight needles in sizes 6-10. I can also use long straight needles in 6-10. Plastic or wood is best (lighter weight, less likely to fall out while knitting) but we take metal and are grateful for anything we can get.

We have a good stash of variegated yarn right now, which often I’m begging for, so although it’s always welcome it’s not a pressing need. We can use bulkier but smooth yarns (not fuzzy, they get that all tangled up) any time, whether synthetic or wool. We can use feltable yarns even in small doses. We really can use small amounts of pale colored wool/animal fiber (white, cream, natural, gray, pale pink or yellow or blue or green) because they are asking again if I’ll do Kool-Aid dyeing and I used up the entire amount of dyeable yarns I had. Remember, they make wristbands. This means about an egg-sized ball of yarn is more than enough.

My kids are very interested in the source of the fibers. One girl just made an alpaca wristband from a tiny ball someone sent… maybe it was you? It was a sort of soft green-blue, sort of a Martha Stewart color. Very soft. We got two tiny bundles of the alpaca and she kept rubbing the ball on her face because it was so soft. I told her she could make a wristband for herself out of it, if she promised to keep it and not give it to someone else. Because she can understand and appreciate the alpaca, and not everyone can. She made that band in ONE hour.

And of course, as always, I need canvas/cloth bags for the knitting supplies to go home safely. Printed with anything, trade show logos, yarn shop advertising, whatever. Used is fine. They just need to not drop needles on the sidewalk as they walk home from the center!!!

(What I did not mention is what I do not need. I do not need skinny yarns (thinner than worsted weight), fuzzy yarns like mohair/baby yarn (eyelash is fine, stuff that tangles because of the texture is not), no neutrals (the kids like brights), and no black yarns (kids can’t see the stitches well enough). Please don’t send anything that has been in a basement long enough to smell overwhelmingly like mildew (I’m really allergic). I don’t need bobbins for intarsia (we have tons and I have yet to teach a child this technique, they typically like simplicity). I also do not need any more needles in sizes 4US or smaller.

However, please *do* send fat/bulky yarns, even tiny balls. Fat yarn is so welcome for the youngest of my kidz, they come as young as 5 years old.

Please send bulky or feltable yarns for backpacks if you have any (they like stripes so you don’t need to send a lot of one color to help out. And tiny little balls left over from any of your projects… really truly, they are a big help. Even the size of a golf ball is enough.

The kids especially like yarns in bright colors, variegated and particularly purple. And if you have any circular needles in 16″ length, in sizes 6-11, they can use them for hats and backpacks. Any type… plastic, metal or wood/bamboo, would be useful.

The address to send items to (please, please include your mailing or email address and full name ***inside*** the box so the secretary can thank you properly… an address label or business card is perfect) is:

CityKidz Knit! c/o Lynn Hershberger
200 N. Foster Avenue
Lansing, MI 48912 USA

Thank you all (especially dear Cyndy this time) for your interest and caring. The best thing I do all week, is teach these children to knit. It’s magic, and they know it.

Watercolor Bag Pattern on My Patterns Page

Wednesday, February 16th, 2005

My LynnH Watercolor Bag pattern is officially for sale today. (Check out colorway #2, Geranium Garden, in style 2, Pointillist, at right.) Patterns will be mailed out to those who pre-pay, on Friday. Those who pre-pay (by 2/18) will get free shipping on that pattern and any additional patterns they purchase at the same time.

If you go to my LynnH Patterns page, you can see all my current patterns for sale. The Watercolor bag is second from top on the left side of the page. My Heritage Heirloom socks pattern is first, primarily because Tuesday was advertising day on the Socknitters email list and I pointed them to that page. They are very strict about ads being about socks so I’m just trying to respect that.

The next pattern in the works is my wristwarmers “formula.” I have already written up most of the ribbed version you see in yesterday’s blog post. Right now I’m knitting yet another of the garter stitch knit-flat version, and documenting what I’ve done as I go.

I love making things up on the needles. My fingers just fly, almost as fast as I can invent the item I’m knitting. But the process of writing down my process is excruciatingly difficult at times.

The ColorJoy Stole was the hardest of all, because it is a process and a formula rather than a “do this, then do that” sort of pattern. I had to really think about how to explain my process to other folks who do not live inside my head. It has worked well, because folks who have not taken my class have been able to make gorgeous stoles with my pattern alone. I feel victorious about that! The wristwarmers are also a formula more than anything, so right now I’m puzzling again about what my process really is so that I can write it down. I’ll do just fine, but I’d rather have already finished this project!!!

Socks are in the straight-pattern category, but the difficulty there is sizing and determining the proper amount of yarn required for each size. Ugh. I have an Excel spreadsheet I composed to help me with the sizing, but sometimes I have a really rough time determining yarn amounts. I don’t enjoy that part at all.

Yet I seem to be unable to stop the ideas rolling (this is a lovely problem to have) and so I continue to document my work and sell patterns/teach classes. I love teaching!!! And teaching usually is based on a pattern, so there I go again.

By the way, all of you folks out there in cyberland… I am always open to teaching out of town. I can think of nothing I would rather do than come to your guild or local yarn shop, and teach workshops all weekend. I’ve got a good variety of patterns to offer… not only several sock patterns, but a wonderful quick-knit rug in super-bulky yarn and my favorite class of all… ColorJoy Stole, where we discuss color and yarn structure on the way to choosing yarns for a multi-colored, multi-yarn, multi-textured stole (and in addition we learn provisional cast on and how to fix dropped stitches in both stockinette and garter-stitch fabrics).

In addition to pattern-based classes, I teach polymer clay buttons/beads as well as feltmaking (from loose wool fibers/roving), and needlefelting embellishments on pre-felted items (such as purchased berets, accidentally felted sweaters that might be cut up to make pillows, or items you may have knit yourself and then felted).

More classes I do without a specific pattern: I have a great afterthought/peasant/bullseye heel class that is a great three-hour session. I have a toe-up sock class (good for new socknitters, with a toe that starts as a knitted square) which works for any gauge of yarn, but which uses a bulky slipper footie as the sample in my handout.

I am also putting together a program where there will be a potpourri of socknitting techniques (thank you to Rob at Threadbear for suggesting this, I am surprised I didn’t think of it myself). And I would love to come visit you wherever you might be (I assume USA and Canada primarily).

I learned too late that you don’t get what you want if you don’t ask. You might not get it even if you *do* speak up, but how can others know what you might like, if you stay silent? So here I go, guys… any guilds/shops out there who want a weekend full of classes? Write me at Lynn At ColorJoy Dot Com and let me know how I can help you out.

Photo today: Second colorway of LynnH Watercolor bag… Geranium Garden. Notice the fabric has a different texture than the previous version I showed you on February 10. This one is reverse stockinette and I love what that does to the colors, it is much more intense for some reason. The broad-stroke version from Feb. 10 is more stripey from showing the stockinette side of the fabric.

I’m Knitting as Fast as I Can!

Tuesday, February 15th, 2005

When I was a teenager, my first car was a red, 1975 AMC Gremlin. Brand spanking new, actually, back when you could get a new car for $3,000. This car was considered, at the time, a small and wimpy vehicle. It wasn’t any glamour transportation… it had an am radio, a back seat the size of a shoebox, a front bench seat, black vinyl upholstery and a dashboard made of something a lot like cardboard. It did, however, have an automatic transmission rather than a manual stick shift, which was considered a plus at the time.

When things started going wrong, it was all the little bits inside the passenger compartment. One door could only open from the inside, one could only open from the outside. It was a good thing the front seat was a bench, because I had a one-way front seat!

In retrospect, it had a six-cylinder engine in that tiny box. The car itself was pretty heavy, and wide for a smallish car. It would plow solidly through snow with ease, though it had manual steering which was so hard to turn that my mother couldn’t drive it.

I have always loved words (you knew that already, didn’t you?) and am attracted to bumper stickers. Around the time I went to college, I was 17 years old and I found a bumper sticker for my car that said… “Don’t honk, I’m peddling as fast as I can!” It got a lot of chuckles. I’m into more meaningful stickers these days, maybe… I go for “Everyone is an Artist” now (sort of my theme of this weblog, although maybe there is someone out there who would deny the idea).

This week I have felt a little like that bumper sticker. I feel as though I’m Knitting as Fast as I can! I have stayed up until 3am twice and 2am once. I have knit in the car, in the dark, at the teahouse, waiting in line at the grocery, waiting for food to arrive at restaurants. And it just seems that no matter how simple the project seems to be, it will not be knit fast enough for me.

The good news is that my second LynnH Watercolor bag is done knitting, it is felted, the small bit of sewing is completed and the I-cord handle is drying. I think it’s actually going to be ready to show off at the Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild tonight. WooHoo!

I may even have time to pop by Little Red Schoolhouse and pick up the one they have on display right now, to show that one as well. They look very different, both because they had different colors and because one has the stockinette fabric facing out and the other has the reverse stockinette (the purl side) facing out. I’m rather fond of the second bag, myself… it has lots of hot pink and I prefer the purl bumps with variegated yarns.

Tomorrow, then, if all goes well… I will deliver the new bag (Geranium Garden Colorway) to Little Red Schoolhouse, where I got the yarn for it… and take the first one (Waterfall Colorway) to Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan, where I got the yarn for it. And the bags will be home, sweet home.

Then, although I’d love to start another of the bags just for me to keep… I will be working on wristwarmers/handwarmers for the class I’m teaching on Friday night at Threadbear, one session, three hours, 6pm-9pm. Cost is $25 for the one session, and that includes a pattern but not yarn.

Wristwarmers/Handwarmers is the perfect class, for a bunch of reasons. If you have never knit more than a garter-stitch scarf, you can make something new with a beautiful multicolored yarn, and you don’t need to learn more than one new technique, a slightly different way of binding off.

If you are comfortable knitting and purling but have never knit in the round on double pointed needles, you can learn how to do that. The knitting is pretty simple, it’s relaxing rather than challenging, but when you are done you will have a low-effort, high-return project and it will finish in a jiffy. You won’t finish the whole set in three hours, but you will know everything you need.

Oh, and if you knit and have a friend who has never knit, bring them along. You can knit one version and I’ll teach your friend the basics (cast on, knit stitch, bind off) and you will both have useful, warm projects that you can wear and wear and wear.

This is the first time I have offered this class at night. I would love to see some of you folks (and your not-knitting-yet friends) this Friday. Please join me.

Photos: 1) Geranium Garden Watercolor bag fabric/colors before felting. 2) One version of my In-the-Round Wristwarmers made of Heirloom bulky brushed mohair, yum! 3) In-the-round handwarmers, knit in bulky Lamb’s Pride Worsted, less than one skein. Worn over leather gloves that block the wind, but they can be worn gloveless on warmer days or indoors.

Chinese Sidewalks

Monday, February 14th, 2005

First, a big Valentine to all of you who read my blog. My life is so good now, and a big part of the joy in my life is not just from those I’ve met, but also from folks I’ve never met in person. You really make my life better, all of you. Thank you.

Now, on to the subject of the day:
My friend Vince, is the most interesting and best sort of friend. I met him on the Internet, believe it or not, when we each had a Polymer Clay web page (see Vince’s polymer nightlight page and my Polymer Art page, still out there from perhaps 7-8 years ago). This was a time when there were definitely fewer than 20 polymer sites out there at all.

I had heard from Mike Buesseler (polymer artist whose site has since disappeared from the ‘net) that Vince had taken apart some small cars, applied polymer to the metal parts, baked the polymer and reassembled them. In fact, I never did see these cars if they did exist (very possible knowing Vince) but it started our dialog online. Now I’ve seen Vince at least 5 times in real life (New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and twice in Michigan), had a number of phone calls with him and a zillion emails. His family has stayed here at our house in Lansing twice… Lucky me!

Well, Vince and his family lived in Shanghai, China for two years. They got back to the USA last summer. Vince documented some visually interesting things when they were there. One of them has turned into a sort of web slideshow of Chinese Sidewalks which I find very interesting. Perhaps you would like a peek, as well.

I’m knitting like a madwoman, up till past 3am and still not done with the second Watercolor Bag (though I am on the decreases for the bottom of the bag now, and still need to knit I-cord for the handle after that). No pictures today, please see Vince’s site instead.