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Archive for March, 2005

Another Busy Thursday

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

CityKidzToday, Thursday, is going to be another busy one. I started with the annual meeting with the tax preparer, it’s good to have met with him. He gave me a little homework, and I will do that tomorrow. Today is already full!

I’m preparing more yarn for food-coloring dyes today at Foster Center. We used up all the light blue we had yesterday, and a little of the green. I’m not sure why, but the green didn’t take the dye as well as the blue, so I’m busy preparing as much blue as I can for the batch of kids I get today. I am counting my blessings, particularly this donation of yarn from Cyndy, because the kids really enjoy this project.

I have a very wonderful thing to do before Foster Center, though… I get to see my friend Ulyana. I knit her a pair of sox (too long ago, actually… we seem to never connect) and she is going to give me a massage. Not only will she give me the best massage I know about, but we also get to chat for a good hour or more. I will really enjoy that.

After the massage is CityKidz Knit! where we’ll do the magic dyeing thing. I have computer lab after knitting, and then I run to Little Red Schoolhouse to teach a Watercolor Bag class. I’m delighted to start my own bag during class… I have knit two of them, but one is at Little Red Schoolhouse and one is at Yarn Garden in Charlotte. Maybe it’s my turn!

Rob at Threadbear wrote yesterday to say that some of his customers (when they were in Indiana) tried to felt the Kujaku yarn I was hoping might make a good felted bag. I believe it might have a problem, because the wrap holds the wool in place so firmly that it would have a hard time migrating and grabbing hold of the neighboring fibers. I’ll figure out something!!!

Tonight I am definitely not going to cook dinner! I am planning to pick up some food, either at Altu’s or Aladdins depending on what time it is (Altus closes at 9, Aladdins 10). Then I crash early! I was up too late preparing for the tax preparer.

What a full day! I’m pleased. You know, I realized yesterday when talking to my friend April, that I do tend to worry and complain no matter what. But it’s just because I’m in the habit of worrying and complaining. My life is good, and the worries of today are insignificant in the big scheme of things.

It’s still spring here… we have cloudcover and it’s in the 50’s F instead of the 60’s but no snow and no hint of frost. I will take it!

A Day of Many People

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

YarnToday I will have many people in my day. I start with a private knitting lesson… where my friend Yarnfairy sent my student, OfficiallyaKnitter, a package of knitting goodies. I got to open the package and they are truly goodies. That should be fun.

Then I go to Foster Center and the CityKidz will dye yarn with Kool-Aid or other food dye. And the yarn they are dyeing came from Cyndy, bless her heart. I just don’t usually get animal-fiber yarn donations, but Cyndy knew I needed it for this project and if it were not for her I think I would not have been able to do it. Thanks, Cyndy.

Then I go to Habibi Dancers practice. We are gearing up for the big spring show, which will be held April 9 (two Saturdays from now) at Hannah Auditorium in East Lansing.

Then home for dinner, and then Fabulous Heftones rehearsal in our living room. We’re polishing up for our Sunday performance (that is, this upcoming Sunday, April 3), in Ann Arbor.

I’m excited about this performance for many reasons. I adore Ann Arbor, and they have paired us with Gerald Ross, who is well known, respected and loved in ukulele/Hawaiian music circles. The AACTMAD group that is sponsoring this concert, has done “Dawn Dances” for years, and Brian’s band, Scarlet Runner String Band, has played for those dances for many years. It’s a well-known organization and we will be able to play for folks who have never heard us play before. I’m very excited about that.

It feels good that now we have such a good list of songs we can choose from, to perform. A year ago we did two concerts in early May, when our first CD came out, and it was really a stretch for us to play two hour gigs at Altus at that point. Now we get home from a performance at Altus and say “Gee, we forgot we could play this or that song.” I’m grateful for a full year of playing out and learning more tunes.

Oh, and I did it again. There is a thread now on the Knitlist, asking what inspires people to choose their next knitting project. For me, it’s about color… or more specifically, about yarn. Yarn just follows me home like a puppy!

So yesterday I went to Yarn for Ewe to show off my cute Strawberry hat and footies. Ruth was there, and since she’s a new grandmother she really enjoyed my strawberries! She suggested a little tie at the ankle, to hold them on when the baby squirms, so I’ll probably do that.

But then I got in big trouble. I’m already about seven projects behind, and no time to knit for Lynn. So this Noro Kujaku yarn screamed at me. I got two skeins of color 5 (turquoise/cool tones) and one skein of color 18 (pink/burgundy/green), and some Plymouth Galway as accent. I’m not 100% happy with the color of the Galway with the pink in the Noro, so I’ll go stash-diving before I start in. But wowie, is this stuff pretty. I’m thinking bag, but maybe not. I may knit a swatch with the most brown of the burgundy yarn and see how it felts, and if it looks good that way I may do a Watercolor Bag. If not, we’ll see what happens. I’ll think of something!

Sigh… like I needed another project? Ack. Maybe I can blame Ruth? I wish.

Gorgeous Weather!

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

flowersIt is the second absolutely gorgeous day in a row! The trees are not green yet, but at this point I don’t care.

Recently, one by one, I’ve noticed the little ice cream stands in town open for the season. Actually, on Sunday I also heard an ice-cream truck go by the house.

flowersYesterday I drove to class at 3:30 with both windows down, and I left my coat in the car (although I missed it when I got out of class at 8:30pm). Right now, the sun is shining, it is 61 Degrees F, and kids are riding their bicycles down the street. I’m not sure why there are elementary-aged children out and about at noon on a Tuesday, but there are at least two that I can see from my window.

I just turned off the furnace and opened the front door. With all the stale air and dust of the winter inside, I always look forward to the first day I can do this. My feet get cold and I wear a hat while I air it out, but it really makes me happy.

flowersIt is not quite nice enough to take the spinning wheel on the porch yet, but it is good enough to take a walk. I went out, just walking around the block to inspect for signs of spring and found many! Three yards with blooming crocus flowers, birds, squirrels, kids on bikes and tricycles, and a man washing his car (well, truck). How lovely it is to see these things again!

flowersThey say if March comes in like a Lion (see pile of snow hiding my car on the March 2 ColorJoy! entry), it will go out like a lamb. It feels like a lamb today.

flowersI have had fun showing off the strawberry hat/footie set the last few days. I’ll have a hard time giving them up when I can see my friend, but I know she will appreciate them.

Photos today: 1) Crocus blooming near melting snow pile (look for yellow flower in top right corner); 2) Mom with toddler on tricycle; 3) Squirrel in my backyard near pile of snow; 4) Man washing truck; 5) Shovel against fence near almost-melted snow.

Trying to be Sane and Healthy

Monday, March 28th, 2005

soupWell, I’m trying to be my own best friend, I guess. Last night we had my famous Easy Pumpkin Soup (click link for recipe) for dinner. Thank goodness it is so easy and so fast to make. I make it when I just can’t deal with cooking.

It’s so good, we ate three portions between two of us. Then I made from-scratch applesauce spice cake. But I forgot the sugar until it had been in the oven just long enough to get warm, thus too late to mix in sugar at that point.

Brian was sure he would like his cake better without any sugar. I am absolutely sure that something more than no sugar at all and less than the cup it called for, would be better than how it tastes right now. Ugh. Like a spiced biscuit but without salt *or* sugar. I don’t like fussing in the kitchen, but I was craving something sweet so I put the cake together while stirring the soup. And then this!

This morning I crumbled some of the cake into a bowl, sprinkled brown sugar on the crumbs, crumbled more on top and repeated the sprinkles. Then I ate it with a spoon. Still more like biscuits than cake, but significantly more edible. What an odd breakfast! I hope I don’t repeat this one again!

It is clear that I’m just plain needing to rest more right now. It’s thawing season. That means it’s mildew season. I lose energy and need lots of sleep during thawing season. Last night I went to bed before 11pm (this is a good 2-3 hours before I usually sleep) and slept first until 5am when I woke and was sort of wired for an hour. I was smart enough to not get up, and I read a book until I was tired enough to sleep again. Until 11am. Amazing, but I needed it.

Since I work Monday from 3:30-8:00pm, it was OK to sleep in, as far as my schedule goes. I need to baby my body this week, because we have the big concert in Ann Arbor next Sunday! I want to be in top shape for that concert! I am doing my best to fight the allergies and stay away from Brian’s germs so I can sing my heart out this weekend.

I’m recycling a photo (from 2002) of the beautiful soup. It just takes too long to make the pictures pretty, and I lost too much time sleeping. (I know, this is a high-class problem.)

Some Fun, Some Work

Sunday, March 27th, 2005

hat and footiesBrian and I stayed home today. He is getting over his cold still (although he did sit in a corner chair at Altu’s Saturday night for two hours and play ukulele with Barbara, Larry and me). I feel like I’m on the edge of getting something myself (this is the worst time of year for me). So Brian didn’t want to give anything to anyone and I didn’t want to push my luck. Staying home seemed the best plan.

I spent much of the day at my computer, scheduling my classes through July. I have four regular yarn shops I work with, (Threadbear, Little Red Schoolhouse, Yarn Garden, and Heritage Spinning) plus Foster Center, and a few places where I work maybe once a term. I had to sit and look at my calendar, and somehow make sense of all the choices. It’s not something my mind does easily.

Somehow, I got at least most of my classes penciled in, and I wrote to all my shops. Now I need to hear from them to see if the schedule I have proposed will work for them. I’m crossing my fingers now, folks.

I also updated my website. These are things that most visitors would not notice, but I had never listed my Wristwarmer pattern for sale, for example. I had the class written up, but not the pattern. There were three or four things like that I needed to handle, and I did what I could. I still have a couple of larger projects for my site, but I left those for a more focused day.

I finished my work as the sun was setting. As a reward, I picked up the baby socks I knit yesterday, finished all the ends, and took a stab at crocheting little leaves on the edges. It was not good enough at all, at least on the first try. I ripped it out, and did not look back. Maybe I will try again some other time, but today I’m really pleased at the look I got with just plain little roll-cuffed footies. Cute, eh? I think they are even the shape of a strawberry!

If you came here to ask me what pattern I used, the hat is the Ann Norling Fruit Cap pattern. It’s a brilliant design, easy, short, to the point, everything is right about this pattern. I didn’t write it. The socks I just made up as I went. They are very loosely based on the Fast Florida Footies, but they are different yarn, no purling of the sole, contrast cuff and added duplicate-stitch embellishment. No pattern, at least not today. I just followed my muse.

Why do I say all this? Because it seems that so much of my weblog correspondence is asking where I got this or that pattern… that is, when I didn’t write the pattern myself.

A Hat, Possible Booties, and a Concert Tonight

Saturday, March 26th, 2005

hatI sure enjoyed myself in the last few waking hours… I made a strawberry hat from the Ann Norling fruit hat pattern. It’s for my friend Mandy who had her little girl last week, maybe Monday? It’s adorable!

Now I think I’m going to make some matching Fast Florida Footies using the 8-size pattern I just wrote… where the foot is pink and the rolled cuff is green… and I’m going to try that crochet bobble edging on it, and see if it looks a little like strawberry leaves. Why not?

Baby socks take no time at all, and even if they don’t fit for long (the baby was just over 7 pounds, not big) they will make the grownups smile for a while. The only concern is how many stitches I need per bobble, I can’t remember that right now. If it needs a lot of stitches per bobble I might end up with 3 leaves per foot, and it would be cuter with five or more. I’ll have to go dig through my notes from my class last weekend. I’m looking forward to this.

Brian and I are scheduled to sing at Altu’s tonight as The Fabulous Heftones. I sent out a postcard mailing to about 120 people this week, which announces this performance and five others. Well, Brian has a pretty bad cold and won’t be able to sing today. We’re not even sure if he’ll feel like being on stage for 2 hours. So, I called our friends Barbara and Larry (they are in our band, Abbott Brothers), and they are going to join me on stage as a trio. We’ll make it work. We’ll have fun, there will be music, we know more than 2 hours’ worth of music that all 3 of us can play together as a team, and we’ll have a performance.

Actually, I’ve been coordinating the music for Altu now since February of 2003, and this is the first time I’ve had to scramble because of illness. Once before someone else had to bow out (not for illness) but he got his own substitute, another performer who had also already performed for us there, and it was a non-issue. We have been very lucky, I’d say. Well over 100 performances and two mini-hiccups is not bad.

I’ll miss Brian… I really lean on him. I learned how much when I tried to sing in Ann Arbor at the ukulele gathering that one weekend in January this year. I sometimes forget how to start some of my songs, but Brian just plunks it out on his uke and I’m off and running. With Barbara and Larry, who I’ve played music with for almost 10 years, I’ll be just fine and we’ll have a good show.

Found Camera!

Friday, March 25th, 2005

I lucked out… my camera had fallen out of my pocket in my car. It was between the seats so I didn’t find it when I looked on the floor. I’m pleased to know for sure what happened.

That means a few photos today! I get to show you my great kids from Foster Center. First, six kids I had for knitting on Wednesday (that is me in the middle with my hair down and no hat…that’s how I look when I’m fighting a headache, unfortunately… but the kidz told me I looked beautiful).

I had seven CityKidz that day, total. Then on Thursday I had ten kids, three of them boys. I love my boys, they make me proud. The two boys you see here can knit a whole wristband or nearly one (depending on needle size) in an hour session. The girls aren’t as quick, they are not as big into the speed thing as my boys. They love it as much or more, it’s just not speed that matters to them.

Second photo is four boys at the edge of the Foster Center parking lot, climbing the snow piles left from plowing the lot so many times this winter. You can see it was pretty warm that day, probably about 40F, and one child had shed a coat on the ground, some others have their coats open in front. What a normal kid thing to do… to climb a snowpile!

Friday I had a good day. I tried to sleep in but that did not happen. I woke up at 8am! What is that all about? I usually stay up till 1:30 and get up at 9:30 or 10. But I was so tired I fell asleep at midnight, and then I woke up (not quite rested enough but unable to go back to sleep) at eight. At least I got lots done.

I made Sara (my Goddaughter) a no-wheat (or egg, milk, corn, yeast, soy) applesauce cake I make when I want a snack. I even take it to gatherings, and people who can have most foods also enjoy this particular snack. Sara loved her cake.

Then Sara and I went to Altu’s for lunch. It is so good to talk with her. She showed me photos of her recent trip to New York City with a friend. I’m proud of her, she negotiates a city pretty well for a college freshman, thanks in part to our travels together in Montreal and Chicago. I loved hearing her tell her stories about the trip.

After I took Sara home, I went to Little Red Schoolhouse (ran into Lynette making her wonderful felted fish… Hi, Lynette!), dropped off a couple of samples for my toe-up sock class starting the first Monday in April. I hung out for a while and knit a bit on the dressy wrap/capelet I’m doing in yarns from that shop (the overall look is purple curly eyelash with some turquoise, spring green and raspberry peeking out. It’s sort of froofy and subtly sparkly and I like it a lot).

Then I hopped over to Threadbear (not that far away) and started scheduling my summer classes with them. I also sat and knit a bit on my dressy wrap/capelet that I’m doing from yarns I got at their shop. I get to keep that wrap since the shop already has one sample. It’s in springy greens and turquoises (cotton, brushed mohair and ribbon, a little more down to earth than the one mentioned above), and I love it. Turquoise mohair is about as good as it gets.

While I was there, I got some Mississippi 3 yarn (fingering weight cotton/acrylic, very nice) in hot pink and hot green, to make an Ann Norling fruit hat for my friend Mandy’s new baby girl. Mandy had her baby early this week and I had not planned ahead at all! I love these hats, I’m more than half done already and it’s absolutely darling. My friends seem to all have girls these days, and they really do love these fruit hats.

Speaking of people having girls, here is a picture of three little girls (one taking a nap on the floor in the background), at Habibi Dancers’ practice last Wednesday. Of all the children we twenty dancers in the troupe have, the last six born have been girls, and you are looking at the oldest of them all, if I have it right. There may be one a bit older than her, I can’t remember who came first. None of the girls are in school yet. How adorable are these sweethearts??? I’m in love with these sweet little girls.

Off to bed. Maybe since I’m going to bed at 1am, I can sleep a little longer tomorrow? I am planning to dye some yarn tomorrow, since my class is not a “go.” Wish me luck staying on track with that dyeing concept! Some days it’s lots harder to get down in the studio than others.

Many Kidz Today!

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

I think I left my camera at the allergist when I got my shot today, so all my great shots of the last few days are held hostage until Monday now. Bummer. You’ll have to just believe me that yesterday I got shots of kids climbing the huge snowbank at the edge of our large parking lot (at Foster Center), and I think the photos probably turned out great. It was sort of warm yesterday, and it was positively springlike today for the first time. I’m getting hopeful that the piles of snow will not last forever.

At Foster Center today I had ten kids at knitting, at least three of them boys. I just LOVE it when I have all those kids, and especially I love my boys. One boy hadn’t knit in at least 6 months, came in yesterday, knit a wristband (5 stitches in garter stitch) in 45 minutes on size 10 needles, and was pleased with the speed but wanted fabric with smaller stitches. So today he came and brought another boy with him. I don’t remember the boy but he swears I knit him a scarf once… That’s impossible, but I like it that he thinks I did.

CityKidz Knit! had a few more finished objects today. Next week we plan to do Kool-Aid dyeing in a crockpot or my turkey roaster pan… with yarn that Cyndy sent them not long ago. We all are very excited for next week to arrive!

I’m tired, tired, tired… today I knit a little on a new Dressy Wrap/Capelet in purples and turquoise, for Little Red Schoolhouse. I’m so tired of knitting on fat needles!!! My wrists get tired really fast on the big stuff. I love the wraps and stoles, but I miss my little, compact sock projects.

But just the same, if I can sell classes on fat needles and I can’t sell classes on size 0 needles, I’m really fine with making an honest living. The big-needle products are lovely, it’s just that I miss knitting my socks these days. I’m sad that so many people think socks are hard. Not!!! I had never done a purl in a real project before (I literally knit garter-stitch scarves for 20 years because I didn’t know how to do anything else), and I had put down my knitting needles for at least a decade, before I decided I wanted to knit socks. And in 10 days I had a pair of standard handknit socks! Nobody told me they would be hard to knit, so I just sat down and finished a pair.

But for now, I can not convert the world. At least it’s a great time in history for fun yarns that make the big needles very useful to make attractive items!

Friday I get to have lunch with my Goddaughter, Sara. She’s in college now, so I don’t see her nearly enough. She’s home for the weekend so we’ll be going to Altu’s for lunch. I had lunch with another friend at Altu’s on Thursday, and on Saturday Brian and I are performing there. So I’ll have Altu’s food three days in a row. Good thing I adore her food… I could eat it every day for 5 weeks (I nearly did on our trip) and never get tired of it!!!

Off to snuggle myself in a cotton blanket I got in Ethiopia, on top of the heat vent on the floor, and read Debbie New’s Unexpected Knitting book. I can’t think of a nicer luxury. Tonight I get a few minutes just for me.

Photos today… 1)Sara at about age 15, wearing my 5th pair of socks I ever knit, out of Koigu she picked out herself. 2)Sara at age 15 (about 2 weeks before the Twin Towers went down) when we took a trip to Montreal together. This photo was at a French Restaurant in the old downtown area. It was a very good meal! 3)Sara and I at her graduation open house last spring.

Catch Up Time Again

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005

Oh, my… So much to tell you. Max (she of Canada) wrote and said she thinks the crochet picot edging on the shawl swatch #2 from my(March 21st post) would look fun on the Fast Florida Footies. She has this Jester Socklet idea going, and I can’t agree more. It would look just great! Now, when will I get a chance to try that? I don’t have any footies in the house that are mine so I need to knit some first. Maybe I’ll do one of my toe-up footie socks (the pattern I use for beginning socknitters) which is designed for fat yarn (like that I used in my shawl sample), and thus knits up really fast. Hmmm…

In additional news, my private knitting student, OfficiallyAKnitter, has not only started a knit blog but now a knitting-related Yahoo group. Her group is called PeacefulKnitters (I love that idea) and all of us, whether knitting-interested, knitting-curious and knitting-obsessed, are invited to join.

We have good musical news… we are already playing at Altu’s this Saturday, and on next weekend Sunday (April 3) we are playing in Ann Arbor for AACTMAD, but now we have also booked a concert in Charlotte, Michigan, on May 27 (a Friday). It’s a house concert, a private space and an intimate place with a fireplace for ambiance.

I’m getting ready to send out a postcard mailing for our next six scheduled concerts. If anyone wants me to put them on our music mailing list (assuming you are not already on it) feel free to send me email with your name/snailmail address, to Lynn AT ColorJoy DOT com and I’ll put you on the list starting now.

(Oh, as an aside… Altu was in the Lansing State Journal “Business Weekly” yesterday. When I just searched for it, I found an article that was printed while we were in Africa (they must have interviewed her before we left). However, even though I’m darned good at searching, I can not find the article which was on the front page of the Business Weekly insert. It has a nice, really big, photo of Altu making Ethiopian Bread. Trust me!

Back to catching up on photos taken earlier this week… My friend April, who I dance with and who also lives across the street, is learning to knit. She just had a baby about 8 months ago (delightful little Isabel), and now she has a large handful of friends having baby girls all in a little bunch. One is born already, several more on the way including triplets in one case.

April already knew how to crochet, but she wanted to make a hat like I’d made for her little girl (the ever-popular Ann Norling Fruit Hat). I got her a pattern at Yarn for Ewe, she got yarn and needles at Threadbear, and now she has finished her second hat, knit in the round on double-pointed needles. Just look at this! (Look bottom left, not on Isabel’s head.) Brian says it looks like strawberry shake and shamrock shake, it’s so icy. Good job, April!

The other two photos today are pics of last week’s CityKidz Knit! It was St. Patrick’s day so they were more creative in how they dressed than usual (so that they could wear green and not get pinched, an annoying custom that has been going on for decades in our schools on March 17). One girl goes to a school where they usually wear uniforms. They were allowed to wear street clothing in green that day, if they paid a quarter fine to do it. She paid the quarter and did not get pinched. Whatever works!

See here, two girls who finished their first wristbands that day. Last photo, a group shot on my slow day of the week. Not bad!

Patterns, Classes, More Patterns

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Well, finally I offer you photos of two socks, one knit by Cyndy in variegated pink Fixation and one by Luann in Zebra-colored Fixation. Nice job, don’t you think? I’m so grateful for the assistance of my online test-knitter friends. Hugs to you all!

Classes: I have three classes scheduled at Threadbear this week. The Tea Cosy tomorrow is cancelling. People like the sample, but after all, Tuesday mid-day is not a great time for a class offering and I’m not entirely surprised.

Friday night is Needlefelted Embellishments. Somehow the price of that class got posted as if it were a 6 hour class, so understandably only one person signed up at that price (bless you, you know who you are and you’ll get a refund). The class is 3 hours on Friday night from 6pm to 9pm, for $25, and I’d love to have a few more folks join us. Anyone want to join us?

Saturday is my Dressy Wrap/Capelet class, starting at Noon, also at Threadbear. This is such a cool, quick knit in three yarns with almost no leftovers. The yarn is pretty darned affordable for this, and it has no finishing, fringe is knotted as you go… anyone want to join me for that one?

You can bring a non-knitter friend and I’ll get them started on a project that is exciting, for their first project. This would be so perfect for a prom or wedding, I am excited to see how folks make it up, which combinations they choose.

Samples and patterns: I finished another rendition of my tea cosy last night (a small size) and although it fits, it’s not as cute as the first one. I think I know what I need to tweak, but I seem to not have my small teapot I once had in the dorm which would be the perfect size for it. Drat. It just doesn’t look cute on any of the pots I do have. And I have a LOT of pots, but since I’m a big tea drinker my pots tend on the large to extra-large size.

I’ll have to go haunt the dollar stores and see what I find… or Target, if that fails. Target is a lot dangerous for me, since they do color so well. I get sucked in every time, so I avoid going there as much as I can.

So… I finished all the changes on the Heritage Heirloom socks pattern and am digging out the addresses of those who have purchased it so I can send them the new rendition. Whew!

I also finished the Fast Florida Footies pattern in 8 sizes. My knitters were the best! The pattern got much more complicated when I had to say how many stitches here and there, and they helped me set up the formatting so it would make visual sense. I’m very pleased.

My Knitting: Now I’ve cast on for another Dressy Wrap/Capelet. It’s a gorgeous spring green with blues and turquoises for accent. This one will be for me, eventually… but since I need to go to Little Red Schoolhouse today and drop by a few samples and patterns, I probably will pick up the yarn for their sample Dressy Wrap and have to do that one first. Pout!

A Day Off (Not): Today I am supposed to have a “day off” but I’m teaching a two-hour make-up class for a computer class that was cancelled for Presidents’ Day. I love the students, they are wonderful, and I’ll have fun… but it is a chunk of time right in the middle of when I normally am starting to get on a roll.

I guess I’m day-off-impaired, I have a very hard time not working when I’m at home (where I work). I do sometimes make appointments to spend time with friends, usually elsewhere, and I can do a five-hour stretch that way with no guilt. Assuming I make the date, anyway!

So next, I’m off to deliver a sample or two of Heritage Heirloom sox to Threadbear and Little Red Schoolhouse, plus samples for my toe-up sock class (doesn’t have a pattern, just a handout at this time) and some patterns for LRSH as well. Then off to the post office to send packages, to test knitters and my beloved Goddaughter Sara, who’s in college about an hour north at CMU. And then off to Haslett to teach.

The good news is that it is a decent weather day. Other than the mud in the driveway, it’s warm and we have had bouts of sunshine between our normal clouds, enough that I’ve noticed.

Music: I’m listening to the Flaming Ukulele Radio Hour as I prepare to venture forth. I’ve had the *worst* trouble with staying connected to the show lately, even with a new DSL “fast” connection. Today I’m trying a different player and it seems to be working OK. One day I heard Uke Jackson start Brian’s tune, “Everybody’s Doin’ It” and by the time I called Brian to tell him he was on the air, I got disconnected and couldn’t get back on. Sooooo frustrating! I’m glad I tried it again today, because so far I’ve had decent luck.

Off to run errands!

A Great Day with Melissa Leapman

Monday, March 21st, 2005

What a good Sunday I had. Other than having to get up much earlier than I typically function well, it went great.

Morning with Melissa Leapman was “Fully Fashioned and Fabulous” which really showed how excellent a designer she is. The pieces we constructed using increases and decreases for interest and shaping, were absolutely brilliant. Now, it was far too much purling for my attention span… and since I’m not used to this sort of knitting (textures with knit and purl combinations), I did not get as far as other knitters who do it all the time. Just the same, I learned some very interesting concepts that will surely pay off in time.

I don’t knit sweaters much, but we learned a few tricks for really making a cohesive design between pattern stitch (lace or cables or rib) in the body of a garment, and splitting the neckline for a v-neck. Gorgeous, brilliant stuff. How will I use it? I’m not sure yet, since I can’t imagine right now designing a sweater with that much texture. Or for that matter, any sweater other than for my own consumption.

However, I’m designing a tea cosy right now. I am splitting for the openings for teapot spout and handle in the same way I did for my wristwarmer pattern. However, I could instead substitute one of these patterns with a “v-neck” split where the spout is. It would be gorgeous! I’m sure this will not be my first tea cosy, so the possibility is definitely there. And I could stand to do cables or lace on something as small as a tea cosy, too.

The afternoon class, however, was all I wanted it to be and more. It’s funny, because it was about crocheted shawls, or so the class description said. I don’t know if I’ll ever crochet a shawl (I don’t like lace, don’t like the look of double crochet, and I was a teen in the 1970s so a lot of crochet looks outdated to my eyes). However, I really, really, really wanted to understand crocheting and how to follow a crochet pattern.

Crochet is one of many tools available to those of us who love yarn. It makes excellent no-curl edgings, is dense and unstretchy most of the time (great for home decor and bags/purses) and I have already used a simple slip stitch edge called Bosnian Crochet for a few rounds to finish a Turkish-inspired pair of socks. I like how it’s easy to sort of change gears in the middle of a crocheted item, so it’s easy to fly by the seat of your pants. I made up a crocheted beret once, in single crochet, and darned if it didn’t fit way better than most berets I’ve knit. Even though theoretically I’m not a crocheter!

After the class, I still have to really think at the beginning and end of a row. For example, the first of three mini-shawls we made, I increased by 3 stitches in about 7 rows and that all happened at the edges of the swatch. But hey! I kept up with the class, I did all three projects, I learned to double-crochet (before, I could only remember by heart how to slip stitch and how to single-crochet) and how to follow patterns! You heard me right… now I know to follow crochet patterns!

I asked a LOT of questions but I got from the class what I wanted to get out of the class. After at least two sessions trying to learn crochet from teachers, and two sessions trying to learn out of books, I finally can do this. I do have to think, but that’s the nature of a new skill. I’m in business now!

Melissa is a really good teacher. She’s mellow, she has a sense of humor, she explains well, she re-explains if necessary (using different words… an important thing for a teacher to do) and she is a good cheerleader. I really enjoyed my day. Even in the morning, purling 32 stitches in a row!

Photos: 1) Cable with neckline divided with rolled stockinette edge. 2) Lace with neckline divided with K1P1K1 rib. 3) Shawl sample 1 with only some of the fringe we could add. I love this fabric. She calls it seed stitch, and it is a combination of single crochet and chain stitches. It lays really flat, would make a great rug or placemat. Perhaps a good purse/bag, as well. You can’t see through it, it’s not lacy and there is no double-crochet (I just do not like the texture of double crochet, I can’t help it). This is the one where I accidentally increased by 3 stitches, so it is not exactly rectangular but it still lays flat.

4) Shawl sample with double crochet and chains, and a lovely edging with picots that I like a lot. I wonder what I could do with that edging on a knitted item? Hmmm…. 5) Shawl sample, more double crochets and chains. Edging is a ruffle. One side has a single layer of crochet in the ruffle, and the other side of the sample has yet another layer of stitches at the edge of the ruffle to make it even more ruffly. Definitely not me, but I learned from it.

I used Classic Elite Montera from my stash for the first four projects… some boring beige I was going to overdye with turquoise, and green leftovers from the super-warm stole I made for my friend Elizabeth in Vermont. I love the yarn, it’s 50 Llama/50 Wool and it’s a single-ply worsted weight. I love single ply yarns, especially fat ones. You are right if you think beige looks wrong for ColorJoy Lynn… as I said, it was destined to be teal very soon. I am very protective of my stash and hate to “waste” any “good” yarn on a class sample I’ll want to keep for reference. This worked out well.

The last sample was some Lion Brand Fisherman Wool I dyed with Wiltons cake frosting dyes over a year ago. I dyed it still in the skein, one end spring green and one end turquoise. It looks just great in this sample, I think. After all, doesn’t a double-crocheted shawl beg to be multicolored?

Wonderful Day

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

I had a great time in a full day of Melissa Leapman’s classes. My swatches from her class are drying right now. I had almost no time between my classes and my rehearsal for our Abbott Brothers band, so I didn’t have time to write you and block/photograph before bedtime.

Monday, I’ll roll out the samples, and Tuesday I’ll get back to Fast Florida Footies and other things I’ve been delaying.

Thanks for coming by… tune in soon, and I’ll be back.

Preparing for Melissa Leapman

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

Sunday I will study with Melissa Leapman, thanks to the joint efforts of Rob, Matt (and Marcia) at Threadbear Fiberarts and Nancy McRay of Woven Art, who brought her to town for a weekend of workshops. I was going to just take the afternoon crochet class but at the last minute felt I was missing out to not take at least one knitting class from her. I signed up for a 9am Sunday morning class (what was I thinking? I usually wake up at 9:30am or later).

The morning is called Fully-Fashioned and Fabulous. It sounds like sweater stuff to me, so I’m not sure how much I’ll learn that is about my normal knitting. It’s sort of funny… we had 5 swatches as homework and they called for smooth worsted-weight (read: Sweater) yarn and appropriate needles. (The swatches look sweatery to me, except one would be a good hat, I think.)

Do you know how much I had to dig to find these things in my stash? I have loads of sockyarn and loads of novelty yarn, and a handful of super-bulky skeins for rug knitting. I have sock needles size 4 down to a 0. I have needles sizes 10.5 to 15 for making glitzy wraps/ColorJoy stoles and rugs, and fulling (for my watercolor bag). That means from size 5 to size 10 I don’t have much. Only things I inherited, and I have not been very careful about storing these things where I could find them, since they don’t fit my normal knitting routine.

I also got grumpy preparing my swatches. One of the swatches is 32 stitches wide, we’re supposed to knit 4 inches of a stitch pattern that is about 3/4 purls. I just don’t purl happily. I can do it, I know how, and I surely do it in my own designs when the look is called for. But I’d rather knit a few then purl a few then knit a few. I don’t mind ribbing much, but stockinette requires knitting in the round, in my book. Purling more than three stitches in a row is not my cup of tea, makes me agitated after a short while.

Purling all 32 stitches in a row, every other row (especially when row 1 is K3P2), makes me wonder why we didn’t knit it and turn the thing inside out when we were done, or knit in the round instead of flat. Makes me nuts, but that’s my problem and not Melissa’s. I’m going to class to learn so I need to adjust my attitude before I walk into that classroom. I hope that being tired and quiet as I often am in the morning, will be a calming thing for me rather than a grumpy one! I don’t want to say grumpy things I’d rather take back.

I did once learn to purl with the yarn held around my neck, and I do like that better than American, Continental or Combination purling, so for that particular mostly-purl swatch I did hold the yarn around my neck. I think my gauge is not very even but it isn’t even no matter how I knit or purl. I did not do 4 inches, though. I stopped just short of 2 inches, I couldn’t handle the stress. And I’m doing this because of my love of knitting, right? It will have to do.

For items that are more evenly distributed between knits and purls I think I’ll try to remember to stick with combination knitting (this is what Annie Modesitt teaches, where you purl by wrapping clockwise rather than counter-clockwise, then you knit through what is sometimes called “the back loop” to untwist the base of the stitch. It’s actually easier to purl evenly this way, when I remember to do it.

Combination knitting is a technique that is best for knitting flat pieces of fabric. Since I usually knit in the round (or knit flat garter stitch), I rarely find a time where this excellent technique is useful for me.

So…. I have 4 of 5 swatches done and it’s 2:15am on Sunday already (I’m manually setting the date of this post back so I can count it as my Saturday column… but I’m not fooling anybody). I need to just sleep and hope I can finish swatch 5 during breaks and slow time. Or not. This is what happens when I’m already too booked and then I sign up for a class with tons of homework on the day before the class!

The afternoon class has no homework. We’ll be crocheting mini-shawls. I am eager to see if finally I can learn to follow crochet patterns. I can use a crochet hook, can do many different stitches, but I have yet to be able to follow a “simple” crochet pattern (defined as simple by the author) further than a few paragraphs. Knitting patterns were so easy for me, from the very beginning!

I swear that there is something crocheters leave out so that they are an in club or something. I have taken two other crochet classes and had no luck learning pattern-reading so far. I’m hoping this class, which is focused on creating a product, will lift me to the next level. I’m not likely to follow a pattern much anyway, but sometimes my knitting students ask me crochet questions and I can not help them. I’d like that to be a problem of the past.

So… off I go to bed. No pictures, although right here on my desk sit Luann and Cyndy’s Fast Florida Footies, begging me to photograph them and put the pictures up for you. Another day, I’m afraid.

I do, however, have a photo I processed on March 9 but didn’t have time to post. These are some of my CityKidz, digging through a box of yarn goodies sent by Susan L., a blog reader who has really taken an interest in the CityKidz. She said they could root through the box (not my style, they can get wild as you can see) so I gave them permission to do so, as long as nobody grabbed from someone else or got pushy. They were good, though the yarn did get pretty tangled. They liked picking their favorite yarns out for the next project! Thanks, Susan.

Working on Patterns

Friday, March 18th, 2005

Thursday is my busy day and this week was no exception. I had two girls at CityKidz Knit! finish their first wristbands, and I did get a photo but it’s still on the camera right now. I need to stay focused so I’ll give you that photo another day.

I found a “hiccup” in one of my patterns (Heritage Heirloom, my most recent sock design). I have been crazily working to make that right, by re-working the math and reknitting a sample. It drove me crazy for 2 days, but I think I’ve got an understanding of the answer now. I live in fear of mistakes. Fortunately, this one would not have thrown off an experienced socknitter, who would knit a heel to fit rather than following my specifications at that point.

I specified a heel flap height that was not tall enough. I used the row gauge from my stockinette swatch to figure the heel flap height, as far as I can figure. However, my no-purl heel flap is compressed vertically and so the flap was looking a bit short. Mystery solved… and I believe I can track all those who purchased that pattern and make it right. I’ll probably make an errata list on my patterns page as well. What a hassle, but if Sally Melville does it I guess I will also do it at times. I hope not often!

I’m also working on the Fast Florida Footies pattern in 8 sizes. My test knitters have been wonderful in providing feedback that makes the pattern better and better. The pattern has been out there for a long time on the Internet, in just a Ladies’ Extra-Small (I made them for my mom who wears a size 5 US shoe). Now I’m just making it more clean and more clear, for print. I’m loving this team process. I’m very grateful for the ladies who have been knitting for me, and giving me real feedback on the pattern.

Here are photos of Melissa’s sock, children’s size 8-9, and Selena’s sock, children’s size 10-11. Melissa used Cascade Fixation, and Selena used Regia Crazy 6-ply (sportweight).