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Archive for July, 2005

Taking/Teaching Classes

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

machine knit workshopOn Friday I spent the day in Monroe, Michigan (11 miles from Toledo, Ohio). I went to a machine knitting workshop. There were 3 presenters, each was given about an hour and a half. Those women were pushing like crazy to demo as many great tips as they possibly could, in that short time! My head was spinning, but I was happy. I have a photo here of Joyce Banfi, my third instructor. She showed me some things I think I may incorporate in a new (handknit) felted bag, as sooooon as possible!

I still have not had time to sit down at my new knitting machine (A Singer 700 with ribber, which I got in late November just before I left for a month in Africa). I have many plans but no time, yet. At least I can flip through Knitwords, the Machine Knitting machine from Ontario published by Mary Anne Oger (one of the demonstrators this Friday). I have plans to make a few projects from this magazine as my learning projects. Not today, but soon, I hope.

feltmaking classPlease don’t write me if you need information about my knit machines (I’m too novice to be of help), but consider subscribing to MACHKNIT @ LIST.LISTHOST.COM (remove spaces) if you want a friendly group who will actually perhaps have some answers for you.

However, I did sit this morning and I tried a new kind of cast on I learned at the workshop. I like how it looks a lot, but I made it significantly too tight for the project I was making (a wristwarmer). I will no doubt just rip out the whole thing and do it again with a looser cast on, and I will try again to do a proper bind off (there is one that matches the look of the cast on so I’ll give that one a try).

Saturday I couldn’t make it to Monroe again because I taught “Felting without Knitting” (wet felting with loose fibers) at Threadbear. We had an absolute blast! Here are Noel and Crystal (I’m hoping I spelled their names right, I can’t find my notes) showing off their class projects. Great job, ladies!

Chappy’s Cool Pool/Chutes & Ladders Socks!

Friday, July 29th, 2005

yarnI met Chappy two Bloomiefests ago. (If you click that link to this year’s Bloomiefest, that would be Chappy in the plaid shirt 2nd from right, unravelling a storebought sweater.) That means we met March of 2004, I guess. We both are chatty, passionate and focused quite heavily on our fiberart lives. We clicked.

Well, two years ago at Bloomiefest she bought some handpainted yarn from me, a base yarn I don’t usually offer but that I love. It’s worsted weight and washable. Well, she liked the first batch (it was white, purple and pink). So this year I just happened to have a few skeins of another colorway, in the same yarn. This year it was turquoise, blue and purple on silver, and I named the yarn Cool Pool.

Well, Chappy is in the Six-Socks Knitalong, and she made their Chutes and Ladders socks in my Cool Pool Yarn. Today she sent me a photo. Here you see a before (yarn) and after (socks) set of photos. I love them both!

Chappy has an Ebay store called Chappy’s Fiber Arts and Crafts, where she sells a lot of things related to handwork. A lot of her merchandise right now is cross stitch and other needlework that I don’t know well enough to describe properly.

Chappy's socksHowever, she also has several sets of these amazing sock blockers you see in her photo, with several motifs: cats, dogs, lightning bolts, acorns, who knows what all. And beaded stitch markers, and a few beaded knitted bags (I think they are kits to make the bag, from what I can tell). I just checked out her site and on page 9 was where the blockers started. At least right now, that’s where they are.

Chappy, thanks so much for brightening my day with this picture!

To the rest of you, I’m off on Friday for a full day in Monroe, Michigan. I’ll be at a Machine Knitting workshop (the workshop is Fri/Sat but I’m teaching feltmaking Saturday so I’m going for one day).

I’m really looking forward to meeting some of my online friends from a Machine Knitting list I recently found (the nicest people you can imagine). I have this “new” Singer 700 machine that I’ve never used, it has a ribber and I don’t even know how to cast on or do anything with the ribber at this point. (It also has punch cards, but I’m emphatically not ready for that yet.) I got it right before I went to Africa and thus didn’t have my normal December down time that I used the year before to play with my previous machine.

I figure I’ll go and watch some people use machines with this type of setup and see if I can jump-start my learning curve. And meet other folks who maybe live closer to me than 2 hours away. Then I can go home and actually try this gizmo I bought!!! In my spare time, right??? Right.

See you Saturday.

Local Stuff

Thursday, July 28th, 2005

LynnH with feltWednesday I had lunch with my friend Sharon P/Knitknacks at the Better Health Cafe, and then we walked across the street to Rae’s Yarn Shop. It turns out that Sharon was Rae’s 8th grade teacher, so they had much catching up to do.

Sharon also brought me a goodie, a blue and silver feather boa she found in a shop on the wild streets of New Orleans several weeks ago! My, was that fun, wearing it into the grocery store, to Rae’s, to Foster Center, Habibi Dancers rehearsal, and Altus all in one day! I felt like a glamorous movie star from the 1960s, long slim gown with ruffle at the very bottom.

It’s funny… you can not see down into your purse when wearing a feather boa. You get distracted by odd movements that are feathers floating this way or that way. It is defninitely not business attire! But then again, my business is art, and I had such fun doing the glam queen thing all day! Sharon took photos, I hope she finds the time in her busy retired life to post them someday soon.

Saturday Possibilities
And now for a note from our sponsor… on Saturday I’m teaching “Felting without Knitting” (wet felting, from fluff to fabric) at Threadbear. It’s from noon to 3pm, $25 plus materials. Email Rob AT threadbearfiberarts.com to reserve a spot.

I started my journey back to wool with feltmaking (before I knit a single sock). I did a public feltmaking performance in August of 2001, called The Fabric of Friendship. It is an artform that you can succeed with early on, but it can become more refined the more you want to push it. Great hands-on fun! I hope you join me.

Bring a water bottle and you can make a wool cozy for it, if you want (this is really effective, good insulation and you can’t feel the drips on the side of the cold bottle)… or make bits of fabric for cutting and sewing later, or make pillow covers (these are really beautiful and not difficult). We’ll all start by making a mug rug to get the hang of it and then you can go 3-D, even felt beads, or keep growing your flat pieces, whichever you prefer.

The Fabulous HeftonesAlso: this Saturday evening from 6:30-8:30pm, Brian and I are performing at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine as The Fabulous Heftones. It would be a delight to see any of you there!

By the way, I got a confirmation email today from Geoff Davis of the Midwest Ukefest. We’re definitely on the stage there again this year. It’s in Indianapolis, the weekend of Halloween. Great fun for participants and audience alike!

Let’s face it, you can only approach a ukulele with a smile on your face. The folks who play uke are the most easy group to get along with you could imagine. And the different styles of music that can come out of a tiny instrument with 4 strings, are mind boggling indeed. If you don’t play, you can bring a different instrument (perhaps kazoo?) or just listen in. Consider a trip, it is a wonderful time.

I’m always so amazed when I mention something in my life to someone local, and they say “Yes, I know, I read that on your blog.” Whew! Cool.

I’m up to what we think are 800 visitors a day just to this blog page alone, who apparently are actually trying to come to the blog (I get 1200 unique page visits a day to my site, but some are at other pages and some are looking for “beautiful girls in hawaiian skirts” so are on the wrong page for sure!!!

Nevertheless, I somehow started this blog thinking it was for people “out there.” People I did not know yet, and might never meet. I didn’t have any idea that folks in my regular, everyday, local Lansing life would want to read it. I’m absolutely thrilled to find out I was wrong… both local and world traffic pops by here. I am humbled and grateful for every one of you!

Photos: Me hiding behind a piece of felt my mother and I created together; The Fabulous Heftones at Creole Gallery many years ago, playing for a concert called “Uketopia.”

Heliotrope and Warm Wool Socks

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Socks by LynnHSomeone left me an interesting phone message today. It says basically: “Heliotrope, Lynn… Heliotrope.” So THAT is the name of the beautiful flower!

Now, this is unfair! I am very very bad at recognizing voices on the phone, never mind that my digital phone recorder is not the best. I know SO many people, see so many folks every week. But I know it has to be one of you out there who reads my weblog (and also most likely is local and somehow can easily get my phone number). Thank you, whoever you are.

The good news is it’s a perennial. The bad news? The page I found to tell me about the flower, says it wants full sun and doesn’t like to dry out. That leaves my garden out. My full sun area does in fact dry out sometimes, especially in August when I get so busy I don’t get home till after dark… or I leave town for a few days here and there. I teach at Michigan Fiber Festival for several days, for example.

Boo Hoo. The flowers are exquisite!

Socks by LynnHSo what’s up in Lansing? Well, it is chilly after weeks of significantly hotter than usual weather. We usually get a few, maybe 4 or 5 hot days all summer. We’ve had weeks over 85F degrees. So right now as I type this, it is 60F. I have a sweatshirt, long pants, and thick (worsted weight) wool socks on, and a lap blanket as well. We do have the front door cracked open for fresh air but wowie, did the world turn upside down in 3-4 days. Literally three nights ago we put the air conditioner in the bedroom window for the first time all summer, because it was finally so hot we knew we would never be able to sleep well without some relief. And now this!

I am *NOT* in charge. This is my new mantra since just before I went to Africa. It works very well in relation to weather, not so well with work. (Although I can’t remember the last time, before tonight, where I went to the National Weather Service page for Lansing and didn’t see any thunderstorm predictions. I’ll take the good I can get.)

I guess I missed my wool socks, anyway.

Photos: The wool socks I’m wearing right now. My pair is shown in magenta, a design I call Pied Piper socks because the blue ones for Brian followed closely behind. Mine are pair 34, they are the next pair after those in my LynnH SockTour. Brian’s were pair 36, because I finished a pair for a swap between the two for us.

They look so clean and tidy in the photo… right now mine are darned using two different colors of pink yarns, but they are just as comfy and warm as ever. Both pair were knit using Dale Freestyle worsted-weight washable wool. I swear, this yarn never pills, even in washer and dryer! Amazing stuff.

Ann Arbor Flowers and Kathleen Dustin

Tuesday, July 26th, 2005

Last Friday I went to the Ann Arbor Art Fair. It is a bit of a pilgrimage for me, I go to be with the other creative folks there. I spend my time talking to artists, and I often do not buy anything. I sometimes buy clothing from April Bates, a woman who has a distinct style of dyeing cotton and rayon clothing… when I have a few bucks to spend. Usually I just go to be there, and my expenses are gas and food.

This time I talked a long time to April B. and I talked to Deborah Banyas who makes soft scupture “dolls” from fabric, polymer clay and other “props” which are made to be hung on a wall. Then I made my way clear across town (this is actually 4 different art fairs held on the same weekend) to see Kathleen Dustin, a world-class polymer clay artist. She’s so polished and artful that when Ornament Magazine advertises itself, they often use her work to make them look good.

I have always wanted a piece of Kathleen’s work but most of her pieces top $1,000 USD (and are worth every penny). Once (around 1997) I found a small necklace piece of hers for $135 but at that moment even that reasonable price was beyond my means (I’ve never stopped regretting that missed chance, though).

Well, this weekend she had some earrings that were enough less than $100 that I went ahead. They are gorgeous and I’m delighted to have them. They are very wearable (I wore them to perform with Abbott Brothers on Saturday) and I just might wear them out over the years!!! Irridescent blue and turquoise with dots of matte hot green, on large earwires. I’m thrilled!

Anyway, when I was in Ann Arbor I found a beautiful pot of plants (put there by the city, I’m sure) with this interesting purple flower in it. The leaves are very dark and the purple is intense. I don’t know this flower at all, am wondering if anyone out there knows what it is and whether it’s a perennial or annual (am guessing the latter). This is a really beautiful flower! It was paired with sweet potato vines, that pale yellow-green color, and the combination was striking.

Show and Tell at Computer(?) Class

Monday, July 25th, 2005

FlowersMonday was my last night of the term/school year, for my computer classes in Haslett. Boo Hoo! I will miss these fine folks.

In my first class, two ladies who are fast friends and who come to class together, brought me a lovely bouquet of deep red carnations. They did not know that red carnations perhaps are my favorite flower. Certainly they are my favorite hothouse/florist flower! I was very touched and honored by this loving gift.

HatsThen in my second class (where Helen brought her incredible knitted bedspread last week), Elaine brought an assortment of amazing hats (in a wonderful genuine hat box, no less) and a piece she did with a rughooking technique, which she hopes to make into a cushion. The hats are all knit and fulled/felted, with really artful bands and embellishments. The one back row right has beaded trim coming off the edges of the brim. Wonderful!!!

Rughook PieceAnd last but certainly not least, Marti brought her ColorJoy Stole. It’s about one or two rows from completion, she may just need to bind off and that could be it! She has really stuck to it and it really is just a beautiful fabric for her. The colors up close are almost reflective, they remind me of a peacock feather but not as dark. Congratulations, Marti! Make sure to wear it in sometime when you don’t have needles in it, and we’ll get an even better photo!

Marti in StoleIt is wonderful to see how my night class has turned into quite a cohesive group of folks who enjoy one another. Even out of class! I had about ten of my students between the two classes, who came out to my Alterra’s concert last Thursday. And tonight we got an invitation to join a potluck which is mostly someone’s Tai Chi class end-of-year gathering. It’s really a great group of folks!

I have no computer classes to teach now (on Mondays, anyway) until the second week of September. I’m not sure I know what to do with all that freedom. I will miss my students who are turning into friends (as often happens with adults). But I do have a few adventures up my sleeve, and I’ll enjoy those for a while instead, I guess.

Photos: 1)Flowers from students Dolly and Bea. 2&3)Hats and rughooked piece by Elaine. 4)Marti in her (so-close-to-finishing-it-squeaks)ColorJoy Stole.

Fun at Threadbear

Sunday, July 24th, 2005

polymer clay classI had a wonderful weekend at Threadbear. Saturday, I taught polymer clay and Sunday I taught ColorJoy Stole. As usual, there was a parade of great folks traipsing through the shop, some not from Lansing. It felt a bit like a party and I loved it.

Saturday I got an extra-special surprise… Jillian/Knittingfrau tapped me on the shoulder and then gave me the very best of hugs. She looks great, as usual. I introduced her to my students and we had a small chat about her upcoming book (Big Girl Knits, if you missed my blog entry a few days back).

Cathie in ColorJoy Stole classJillian’s book will contain designs with curves built in, for curvy gals. Gotta love it. I’m a small girl with curves, so I figure I’ll still learn something from it. As in, creating darts so armholes don’t gap in tank tops? As in, adjusting patterns to sizes outside the written boundaries? The way Big Girls have to do it all the time? You got it!

Sherida and her ColorJoy StoleSunday I met Janet from Lansing, who had previously purchased a pattern from me through the internet. She figured out I must be LynnH and introduced herself. It was great to meet her!

It’s alway satisfying to me when folks can recognize me in person, based on what they have seen/read on my web pages. Let’s face it, one photo is not really enough to know what someone’s face looks like… but I imagine that my business/website name “ColorJoy” paired with my manner of dress is a big hint. It delights me, in any case, when people pick me out in a crowd. I must be doing a good job of being *me* on the web.

Sharon and the beginning of her ColorJoy StoleHere are photos of my students’ works of art this weekend. First is a communal baking tray from polymer clay class, with buttons and beads and fun shapes by students (and two by me).

Following that are Cathie’s stole (with her pretty red hair peeking through to prove how great these colors will be on her), then Sherida with her just-started stole, and Sharon with her early stole progress, on the monster 20mm needle she will use every so often to create “dropped garter stitch” rows (rather than double-wrapping her needle to do the same thing). Sharon P., by the way, was the one who recommended the monster needle for this, and it works well for a good portion of my ColorJoy Stole students.

Abbott Brothers Band at Altu’s Restaurant

Saturday, July 23rd, 2005

AltuSaturday our band, Abbott Brothers, played at Altu’s restaurant. We had a wonderful time! Our friend, Edna, popped by with her washboard and played a few tunes with us. She sometimes jams with us, and Barbara gave her a call to let her know we’d love to see her at the show. That was great fun!

For some reason I was so into the singing that I forgot to ask anyone to take pictures of us. Go figure!

Oh… by the way, Anne Erickson of the Lansing State Journal focused on Altu’s and the Abbott Brothers, in her column this week. If you still have your Thursday paper/What’s On section, it’s toward the back of the section, under the subheading “A new dining experience.” The good news is that it is also readable on the web (scroll down a bit).

There were no pictures of restaurant or band, but Anne did a nice job with the article. For the record, Altu’s holds 50 diners… I guessed too low when I was interviewed. It’s very cozy in any case.

Since we got no photos at the concert tonight, here is one of my favorite photos of my dear friend, Altu. I took this photo at a restaurant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, probably in the first few days of the year 2005. She laughs easily, and this photo looks like she is ready to laugh a bit. I love that sparkle in her eyes!

Alterra Garden Party Concert

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

The Fabulous HeftonesBrian and I played to a receptive crowd at Alterra’s in Haslett, this Thursday. It was a wonderful place for us to play, and we had a great time.

Alterra’s is a retirement community, a small and intimate one next to some of the others in town. The staff really seems to have it together and really enjoy the residents there.

I thought it was great to hear two of the residents talking after the concert, about their cats. I think it is wonderful folks can have a small pet at a place such as this. So often people have to give up their comfort and their lifestyle when they move out of their homes. I was impressed.

Alterra’s opened up the garden party (which ended up inside because of hot weather and threat of thunderstorms) to the local public. I saw twelve folks I knew, who came in to see the concert. My mom and her faithful friend, Fai, were there. Most of the others I knew were students in my Haslett community ed computer classes. Helen, the woman who made the bedspread in yesterday’s post, was there with a friend who happened to be a student of mine at Foster Center. And it turns out Helen’s friend/my student also knew my mother. Sometimes the Lansing community is such a small town!!! At least it seems so when I go to arts events.

Here’s a photo of Brian and I at Alterra’s, taken by our friend Hanno. Thanks for the photo, Hanno!

Helen’s Bedspread

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Helen's bedspread held by Marti My computer student, Helen, is over 80 years young. She bounces when she walks, she smiles more than she doesn’t smile, she always has something interesting to say. And she’s a great knitter.

These days she’s lightening her load, and that means she has given me some wonderful pattern booklets (and many supplies for the kids at Foster Center). The coolest of them all had socks, ties, accessories (scarf/hat/mittens/gloves), and more socks. Argyles, cables, you name it. The copyright date was 1939, I adore the photographs especially i this one.

The ties are pretty wonderful as well (I’m planning to knit one of these fairly soon in red for a friend)… but the socks make me think I could stand to do a lot of purling just to have finished this artful style! Oh, the argyles and related styles are heaven to the eyes!

Helen's bedspread held by MartiSo last week, Helen brought in her bedspread. It is heavy! It’s a thick knit in pure 100% wool, which appears to be worsted weight. It was knit in strips but then sewn together, all in white. Then she did cross stitch in a lot of colors, to get the patterning you see here.

I think in the photo we have the motifs upside down, so I turned one the other way here in the detail photo.

The person holding up the bedspread is Marti. She is also in my computer class, but she first met me in knitting class at Threadbear. Right now Marti is about an inch or two from finishing her ColorJoy stole. I hope to have her stole photo here soon!

New Lunch Spot with Tony

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

Tony at RestaurantTony and I tried a new restaurant this Monday. It is mideastern, the folks who own it are from Nazareth. I thoroughly enjoyed it. For locals, it’s on Michigan Avenue across from Resurrection church/school, between Emils/Green Door/Gone Wired Cybercafe’ and Sparrow Hospital, other side of street from hospital. I’m guessing it’s about the 1900-2000 block or so.

Tony had hummous and a schwarma sandwich, and pronounced them both very good. I had something called smeed (like a rice pilaf but with bulgur wheat instead of rice) which was a little sweet and very tasty, and I asked them to make me fava bean dip (called Foul Mudammas… pronounced “fool” and it’s a crying shame that the name is so funky in English cuz it should be more popular here).

They made me the dip, with fresh garlic and cumin and probably a few other spices (cayenne?) in it. We ate this every day in Egypt, it’s sort of peasant breakfast I think. It was better here than in Egypt, though. Somehow most of the spots we went in Egypt had little flavoring. Altu went nuts craving spice for a week when we were there! Poor dear.

Tony at RestaurantI love Foul Dip and it seems to never be on a menu but I ask at any mideastern restaurant I frequent. Some places will make it for me if they aren’t busy, even if it’s off the menu. Some places just say no. It’s always worth asking!

Fava beans are very tasty, a meaty, fat bean that looks like a round pillow. My friend Marlene makes a great summer cold salad with these beans and tomatoes and olive oil and more veggies and spices. I’m lucky that we have a few groceries that sell mideastern foods and I can get these. At the super grocery (Meijer) they cost a lot, but at the mideast groceries they can be very affordable (they are beans, never as pricey as meat anyway).

You know, sometimes I put fava beans in red sauce for spaghetti. They are a very good flavor with the tomato, very satisfying.

Photos: 1)Tony under the umbrella on a hot Monday in Lansing, at the “new” restaurant.

(I didn’t take a pic of my food this week so here we get a flashback to my africa trip.) 2)A lunch we had in Cairo at the Khan el Khalili market. Starting bottom left: fresh pita bread, salad, hummous (chickpea dip), plate with veggies including eggplant and I think onions, french fries (no I’m not kidding… they came with so many meals I was shocked), platter with three falafel patties… these were fabulous, babaganoush (eggplant dip), olives and pickles, and center front is foul (fava bean) dip. Say it with me again… say FOOL dip. Yeah, even that word is odd for food, too, but doesn’t imply bad, as the English pronunciation of the word might. It’s SO good.

This last pic was from a restaurant our guide knew, and we went there twice that week. It was the best food we ate in Cairo.

Jillian is Back!

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

Jillian Moreno wearing Folly Jillian Moreno, otherwise known as KnittingFrau, has not had a blog for a while. She has been performing an even more creative act, she had a baby boy who is now a toddler. This in addition to the girl-child she already had. They are both picture-perfect beautiful, with wild curly hair.

I missed Jillian. But now she’s back! Do go visit her.

By the way, she’s coming out with a new book (working with Amy Singer of Knitty.com… we never really do know when a book will land, do we? Even when we have a date?

But it’s called Big Girl Knits, the smallest size fits a bust 42″ around. Jillian is a wonderful designer with big girl curves, and she is bound to just have the best book possible in a totally under-served area of the knitting world (We have Joan McGowan-Michael of White Lies, and the ample knitters email list, and I can’t think of anywhere else that is really a resource for curvy goddess-shaped women.)

Jillian’s design finesse can be seen in several designs on Knitty. Visit her flower-adorned cardigan “Folly,” “Boo,” “Boo Too,” “Bella” “Bob & Weave” (a wrap in a brushed silk yarn and a ribbon, that I would really love to knit… in my spare time). Photo here is Jillian wearing Folly (Winter ’03) holding then-infant baby boy.

Anyway, please go to Jillian’s blog. Leave her a note and let her know how glad we are that she’s back, that she’s one of us again.

My Upcoming Events

Monday, July 18th, 2005

Fabulous HeftonesHi, friends! It is going to be a busy end of month, and I’d like to tell you about it. This will matter more to local folks, so I apologize to those of you out of town and out of country.

This week on Thursday night, Brian and I are performing at a garden party at Alterra’s, a retirement center on Marsh Road in Haslett (there are two Alterra’s, this one is more north, near the Haslett High School, and it’s 2 stories rather than one). The public is welcome, but they do want a RSVP. This is Thursday, July 21 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Call Nicole Bunch for a reservation, by July 19 at 517/381-8700.

Abbott BrothersSaturday night, July 23, the Abbott Brothers will be playing at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine, also from 6:30-8:30pm. By the way, Anne Erickson of the State Journal’s What’s On section will be mentioning this concert in her Thursday column. Take a look!

polymer clay buttonsThis weekend I have two classes at Threadbear Fiberarts. Saturday, July 23 from noon to 5pm is Polymer Clay buttons and beads. This is such a fun class, there is no way to have anything but the best of times! Write me or Rob at Threadbear for more information.

Esther in her ColorJoy StoleSunday, July 24, I teach my ColorJoy Stole. I almost need to name this “Combining Color and Texture” because that is equally as important as the object we create. The first half of the class, we make a mess of the store.

Bring any random orphan yarns you have in your stash that might like buddies (particularly novelty yarns). Then learn about color, yarn structure, and how to intentionally mix five or more yarns that are nothing at all like one another. The last half of the class is how to knit the project, and how to fix dropped stitches in garter stitch/novelty yarn. It’s a wonderful class, you’ll learn a lot. Again, write Rob at Rob AT Threadbearfiberarts DOT com for more information or a reservation.

Irene and her Watercolor BagOn Friday, July 9, at 6pm, I’m teaching Watercolor Bag at Little Red Schoolhouse. This is a fun and fast project, a felted bag in Noro Kureyon yarn with one solid color for contrast. It requires 3 skeins of Kureyon and one solid, within reasonable cost for gifts, fast enough to make without getting bored, and large enough to actually hold something. I made one for my dance bag. It holds a coin-laden hip wrap, finger cymbals, head wrap/scarf and a shrug for when the dance room gets too cold. All that with a bit of room to spare.

Felted FabricJuly 30, I’m teaching Feltmaking without Knitting at Threadbear, from noon to 3pm. This is how I got back into knitting! I fell in love with wool and wanted more, and the next thing I knew I was knitting socks. We will first make flat pieces (think mug rug, pillow cover, pincushion) then we will cover a 3-D object with felt.

It’s great fun, I hope you come on down. Think about it, you could sew a really warm jacket/cardigan for winter with felted yardage on the body portion, and a knitted or crocheted set of sleeves and collar! It would be very unique and beautiful. We won’t have the space to make a piece that large in class, but you will learn the techniques you would need. I like the mug rugs a lot, actually!

The evening of July 30, Brian and I return (as The Fabulous Heftones) to Altu’s, from 6:30-8:30pm. Amazing great food, friendly crowd, pleasant music. What else could you want?

Photos: Fabulous Heftones at Altu’s, Abbott Brothers Band, Luann’s buttons and beads she made in Polymer class, Esther in her ColorJoy Stole, Irene with Watercolor Bag she made in class, felted fabric I made with my friend Marcia.

Where I’ve Been

Sunday, July 17th, 2005

Dulcimer FestBrian spent the week in Evart, Michigan (a tiny town with a nice fairgrounds), at the Dulcimer Fun Fest again this year. He teaches ukulele workshops there. It is kind of wonderful to talk to people who learned to play uke from Brian there in previous years. There was a young man who sort of watched us from afar even when we tried to talk to him. His mom told us last year he learned to play at one of Brian’s workshops, and he is just really loving his instrument and doing well at it. I wish he had felt comfortable enough to chat with us but I never had a chance to say hello.

I went up for two nights, which meant parts of two days and a full day. My, the sun was hot! We sleep in a tent and both mornings it was so hot, the heat woke us up very early (8am the first day). When you couple that with staying up till 3am playing music with some incredible musicians and having the time of your life… well, I got overtired and a little grumpy. Of course, I always get a headache outdoors anyway (mostly allergies… either dust and pollen if it’s dry or mildew if it rains) but this time the sun was worse than anything I could have breathed.

Dulcimer FestI did enjoy playing music and meeting new people. I met two women who flew up from Florida just for this event. One woman, Nadine, was a chatty one like me, and we talked for about 2 hours the third day I was there. I hope I will be able to see her when I go visit family in Florida sometime. She is not far from where Brian’s folks sometimes go. Meeting Nadine and her friend, was the best part of the whole trip!

I came home on Saturday night, got home in time to shower and then get to Altus for the last half hour of the music set. It was SO good to be home! I just do not like dirt and sun and the great outdoors. I like people and gatherings and music, and I adore playing music with my beloved Brian, but I sure do prefer the Ukulele gatherings which typically are held in conference centers or hotels. I’m definitely a citygrrl.

Dulcimer FestFunny, when we were at this event, everyone kept saying that we were from “the Lansing area.” No, that’s incorrect. We are from Lansing. As in City. As in 30 blocks from the Capitol Building of Michigan. As in, I can ride my bike downtown in maybe 20 minutes max. As in, I LOVE being a citygrrl.

We have many beautiful parks and the riverwalk, two rivers that come together, we have the East Side where I used to live and still work (Foster Center) and where great ethnic food of several types is available. The town is green with trees. It’s pretty darned safe for a city of this size, safer than I’d expect.

We have musical venues, art galleries, Old Town, plenty of community theatre, places one can dance, sing, act, display art, perform poetry, do any sort of artful thing you can think of. You won’t always sell anything, you may not get paid to perform, but I’ve done all these things and more, and been welcomed even when I was a newcomer.

Dulcimer FestWe have a community that is truly culturally and racially mixed (my former, east-side neighborhood had whites, blacks and hispanics all interspersed with old and young and straight and gay and Democrat and Republican all in one block… my new neighborhood is not quite that mixed but it’s getting better).

There are so many communities in the US where this mingling does not happen, although the law says segregation is not permitted. (For example, in Lakeland, Florida, it appears to this outsider that you cross Martin Luther King Street and the skin color of folks you see changes almost completely.) I’m not informed enough to understand why that is, but it makes me proud to be from Lansing.

Here in Lansing, for the most part we all know we belong and we have a decent place to live and work. Some groups still do stick more together because of a common language, but they live in neighborhoods with other groups as well.

Dulcimer FestLansing is a great spot for getting around, whether to yarn shops or other things. Grand Rapids, Flint, Mt. Pleasant, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti are all places I can get to easily via highway, most of them within an hour or so.

So when I say I’m from Lansing (population 119,000), I mean the *city,* and I like it. Sometimes I wish I lived in a bigger city, but I’ve lived in smaller places and I love this spot. I grew up in a Lansing suburb, pop. 10,000 then but 22,000 now (currently 84% white but my middle school of 800 had a total of 5 black kids in 1970); went to college in a quaint city with current population of 26,000 and college 28,000 but the college was 14,000 when I was there (currently 89% white).

I then lived 12 yrs in a lovely, peaceful historical city, pop. 3,800 (97% white), but sold my house after my divorce and moved to Lansing (65% white) in about 1991. (For perspective, the USA is approximately 75-80% white.)

In a more frivolous vein, we have many yarn shops where I live! And I am not kidding. In Lansing proper, we have Threadbear, Little Red Schoolhouse and Rae’s. Going east, in East Lansing we have Woven Art; in Okemos (east of East Lansing) we have Yarn for Ewe. Just southwest a half hour, we have Yarn Garden. In Jackson, half an hour south, there is The Dropped Stitch. In Howell, 35 minutes southeast, we have Stitch in Time. In Eaton Rapids, 45 minutes West, there is Old Mill Yarn. And those are only the ones that are less than an hour away, that I know about and have personally shopped.

I have no desire to go back to a smaller community. I nearly moved to Chicago in 1991 but chose Lansing in part because of the great cost of living/housing prices… I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had chosen Chicago. However, I met Brian in Lansing, and that is reason enough for me to be happy with that choice.

I love the energy and the cultural mix of the city. The world is big, many people don’t look like me, and I don’t feel like holing myself up in a community where folks mostly look the same, you know? Yes, that is a really big simplification, but the essence is what I feel. I adore the diversity in the city, even if I don’t love every thing my neighbors do. That’s the nature of living together on this planet.

But heavens, I have digressed long enough!!! I went to the Dulcimer Fun Fest, which was a bit more culturally mixed than it was the first time I went. (For an admission price of $3 for the week, it’s the best entertainment value I’ve had in a long time!) And I found fascinating people and played music and sang. And had a good time (when I wasn’t being grumpy focusing on how hot it was)!

There was a ukulele jam session on Friday night, and we attended. I tell you, for someone who doesn’t play uke much, they sure treated me (and Brian) mighty fine! OK, we all know it was Brian they were so impressed with, but they seem to like my singing, too. They asked us to stand up and play a few tunes like a mini-concert, which we did and they made us feel very welcome.

After we did that, there were more group numbers, followed by a very special appearance by Gil Ogawa (I hope I spelled that right). He sang Hawaiian War Chant, first in Hawaiian and then in English, followed by a novelty/comic number. Boy, does that guy perform! Not only is he a good musician but he just really relates to the crowd as he performs. Maybe you can see it in his expressions in the photos. He played with a friend and I don’t have the friend’s name (playing banjo).

Photos: Gil Ogawa alone, and with friend. Ukulele jam, as much of the crowd as I could fit into the camera lens. Workshop leaders relaxing with their feet in a wading pool to cool off. Two guys playing an impromptu bass duet on Friday night. I took the shot from a long distance during twilight but it shows the essence.