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Archive for August, 2005

Lyrics as Poetry

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Here’s an excerpt from “Whistling in the Dark,” by They Might Be Giants (John Flansburgh & John Linnell). It’s on their Flood album, ©1990, a true artform if I ever saw one. These guys have 14 albums! They crank, and they are truly creative, unique and listenable. (A lot of creative/unique music is not necessarily easy on the ears, but they create sing-along melodies with wake-up poet lyrics.)

There’s only one thing
that I know how to do well
and I’ve often been told that you can only do
what you know how to do well
and that’s be you,
be what you’re like,
be like yourself…

I tell you what… my life is about being myself. It’s not always simple but it’s always right. (Off to dye more yarn…)

Big News for this Weekend!

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

buttons by LynnHIt’s official! I’m having a special trunk show/sale of my buttons and yarn at Threadbear Fiberarts in Lansing (Michigan) this weekend.

The sale is Saturday/Sunday/Monday. I am planning to be at the store most of the time they are open, those three days. Please come and say hello!

For those not in the USA, we have a three-day weekend for Labor Day, and often that means folks take long trips to special spots. I’m hoping that I’ll meet several of you readers who are outside my local area, as well as my loyal friends in the Lansing area.

Plan now for a fun adventure. Stay and pet the yarns, and the dogs, and plunk down on the couch to knit a while. It’s always a happening at Threadbear, but it should be even more this weekend with my yarns there.

Yarn by LynnHHere is a preview photo of some of the buttons I have made so far. They are large, funky, one of a kind buttons. I get bored easily when making production items, so it’s pretty close to guaranteed that I won’t make another like it again.

For blog readers who see a button they can not live without, send me a quick email (Lynn AT ColorJoy DOT com) and I’ll make sure you get your heart’s desire before it goes over to the store. Four-hole buttons are $5.50 and two-hole buttons are $4.50. Two-hole buttons range from 1.25″ to 1.5″ (appx 3.2 to 3.7cm) and four-hole buttons ranger from 1.5″ to 2″ (appx 3.7 to 5cm).

I expect to have at least five dozen individual buttons for sale at the shop. I also will be offering several new colorways of my Cushy ColorSport yarn (my signature yarn, a washable/dryable DK weight despite its name), and patterns that will work well with that yarn. I’m also playing in the studio with other yarns. One of the yarns I’ve offered before, but it was years ago (a feltable sportweight, which doubled knits at about 4 st/inch).

Also, I may offer a light worsted washable that is loftier than my Cushy ColorSport, and perhaps some laceweight if I get the time. Right now I’m really working efficiently and I’m very optimistic, but at some point I have to stop and label things rather than dye more.

On top of my preparations in the studio, Friday I start the day with a dentist appointment and end with two performances dancing as Eudora at New Aladdins in Frandor (no cover, shows at 6:30 and 8pm).

We’ll see what happens. Definitely I have a whole lot of dreams, and I’m working to see how much I can produce before Saturday’s Sale Opening.

Olenka’s Song and Simple Still Life Project

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Well, the deadline for the Simple Still Life project arrived and there are some amazing images out there. Since the photos are on each creator’s website, some are easier to find than others. However, I had a good time looking for a while this morning while sipping my first cup of tea. There are far too many for me to see them all in one sitting, but I’ll be returning soon enough for more.

I got an email this morning from the author of Olenka’s Song who was one of the participants. I love her blog! It includes poetry, photography, mosaic, digital imagery, fiber art… even singing! A true multi-art experience. I love that! Go take a peek if you have a few minutes.

Today the photos I share with you come from this Saturday’s Caribbean Festival at Lansing Community College. There were three stilt dancers, a good group of drummers, and some dancers accompanying the stiltmen. I got some lovely shots of four female dancers and will share those with you on a future blog entry.

These photos are: 1)Parade of stilt performers arriving, accompanied by drummers. 2)Stiltmen preparing for dance circle. 3)Dancer in the air, notice he has jumped and his stilt has not yet hit the ground. 4)Three Stiltmen in a circle (they had just finished a balance with one foot each straight out in back of them).

Aren’t these costumes amazing? I just wish you could hear the drummers! It was wonderful. They danced three times during the day and I saw them twice. I loved being there.

A Relaxed Sunday

Monday, August 29th, 2005

LynnH ButtonI stayed in Lansing Sunday and met my friend Deb/Scarlet Zebra at Threadbear. We went to lunch at New Aladdin’s at Frandor, and then we went to my house briefly.

Deb and I first met online several years ago. Some folks you meet online, then you meet them for coffee and enjoy it, but don’t meet again. Deb is different, we really clicked from day one and we can talk just about forever, mostly about wool- and color-related subjects. (My friend Elizabeth, in Vermont, I also first met online.)

Deb and I have met so many times now that I can’t remember how many. We’ve met in Flint, Imlay City (her town), Davison, Lake Orionm and Ann Arbor. Some of these require up to 2 hours of driving time.

However, somehowe we’ve never met in Lansing. It was fun to show her my purple-painted porch. I spent a little time showing her my knitting machine. She’d never seen one in operation before. Since I’m never happier than when I’m teaching, I enjoyed doing a demo.

Brian went to the music festival in Kalamazoo and enjoyed that very much. I’m sure I would have liked it, too, but I had to make choices and I had not seen Deb except very briefly once since I got back from Africa this January. That had just plain been too long! I really need my self-employed friends, especially those in the fiberarts. I’m glad I made the choice to be with Deb.

yarn from MareExciting news: I’m in the process of making some large polymer clay buttons for sale (the plan is that they will work great on felted bags and perhaps capes). The ones I have so far measure between 1.25″ and 1.75″ (appx 3.5 to 4.5cm), most on the larger side.

Give me a while to get it all sorted out, but I should have some available in perhaps a few weeks. I don’t know if I will do just one batch and decide that’s enough, or whether I’ll keep making them. Whatever the future, it’s my current project.

And big thanks to Mare Smith who sent two really generous boxes, just full of lopi for my CityKidz Knit! program which starts up again in a few weeks. The older kids love making backpacks and we almost never have appropriate yarns for it. This is a huge and generous supply of just exactly what we need. Thanks a million, Mare!

Pictures: 1) The first of the one-of-a-kind polymer clay buttons I’ve made in this batch. It’s the largest of the bunch, at 1.75″. I expect I’ll keep this one for me. 2) Boxes full of feltable fat yarn for the CityKidz, thanks to Mare.

Weekend with Friends

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

Friday I spent an hour on the porch with my friend Ulyana, sipping tea. It was wonderful. I love my friend and I love my porch and I love tea. How good can that get?

Then I lucked out and got some time with my friend April across the street, and her daughter Isabel. I’m so lucky to live near someone I love. We were friends before she moved here, and I feel totally spoiled knowing she is there, waving hello and watching one anothers’ homes when we are away.

Saturday I spent with Altu, at the Caribbean Festival at LCC. Her friend Beverly (now also my friend after many years helping Altu together) was there, and we worked together as we often do. We work together well.

It was funny, both Beverly and I took turns going around to the vendors. I got a pair of earrings, a dress/caftan (from Senegal), and a shirt for Brian from Equador.

Beverly got a pair of earrings and a dress/caftan. Her dress was exactly the same style as mine, but hers is red and mine is purple! Too funny. With all those vendors, and all the choices, what is the chance we’d buy the same thing? We look different as night and day but we like the same things. I figure we have the same taste in friends (Altu) so why not clothing as well?

We figure that all three of us girls (Altu, Beverly and me) will go on a little date, maybe to our friend Zane’s restaurant, all wearing our African clothing. I think that would be fun!

Sunday, I recently realized, I have a conflict. I told my friend Deb (Scarlet Zebra) that I’d meet her at Threadbear (she will be in Lansing anyway, with her hubby who is taking a class close by for several hours).

Then I somehow only put it on my computer calendar at home and it didn’t show up on my palm pilot. So when Brian asked me if I wanted to go to a music festival in Kalamazoo tomorrow I said yes. So now I’ve promised myself to two people I really love. I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing.

But any way this goes, I’ll spend time all weekend long with people I love. It doesn’t get better than that.

The photo here is a caftan I bought in Kenya. The cut and embroidery are similar to the one I bought today. The new one has different dye patterns and a very nice neckline, and is in purple and light magenta.

Cardboard Houses

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Here’s an interesting artform/science: Cardboard houses (from Australia, a place full of independent thinkers). It is actually one of six innovative houses highlighted on this interesting website.

Brian sent me the link. Perhaps some of you would like to check it out?

Photo is housing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Some of the outer walls are made from corrugated metal. This is probably a fence rather than a house wall. You can not tell at all from the outside, what a property will look like once you pass through the entry.

They are *not* scared of color in Africa! I think this is one of my favorite photos I took on my African Trip.

A Gift of Art

Friday, August 26th, 2005

My sister in law, Diana, sent me the link to Robert Genn’s column entitled “A Gift of Art.”

Mr. Genn is a painter, I’m a socknitter among other things. Both of us are asked to do creative work for others, sometimes free, sometimes for a very low wage. Most of the time, the person asking has no idea what sort of gift they are really asking for.

Folks who know me well are less likely to ask for a pair of socks (for example). The waiter who waits on me frequently at a favorite restaurant, asked for a pair. People in computer classes ask. Complete strangers ask, offering $20 for a pair.

I tell them all that the yarn starts at $12 and then it often takes about 10 days (or more, depending on my schedule) for me to knit them. Actual knit time depends on size, style and yarn weight. Fast Florida Footies in a small size/fat yarn take me the least time, and that takes a full day of focused knitting. So I am being offered less than a dollar an hour at best.

I tell them I teach knitting and I sell patterns. I can help them find a class where they can learn. I’ll help them make their own pair, but I don’t sell my knitting.

I tell people I am a selfish knitter, that I knit because I love wearing socks I knit just for me. I have tiny feet and I like bright colors and wool. It’s near impossible to find commercial socks in my size, in wool, regardless of color. I’ve been obsessed with colorful socks since the 1970s. I had 82 pair socks in my sock drawer before I picked up my needles again. I’m just convinced that nobody can appreciate the custom socks I can knit, more than I do.

I sometimes knit for my Mom, sometimes for Brian, rarely for anyone else. Well, now that I’m a professional instructor, it seems I’m always knitting single socks and other items for display in the yarn shops where I teach. But when I knit pairs of socks, I like knitting them for myself! And I don’t apologize.

Robert Genn has a twice-monthly newsletter containing “inspiration and information” for folks with an “artistic career.” Perhaps some of you would like to check it out.

I Can’t Help Myself

Friday, August 26th, 2005

OK, I lied… I made the changes as soon as I was able to think straight this morning. I knew what needed doing and couldn’t stand it the other way. Most of you won’t have even seen the first version, but trust me, this one makes more sense to a visitor.

If you are one of the few who came by when it was on “beta” version 1, and you see my face twice (all squished up) at the top left corner, please refresh your screen and it should make things look right. To refresh, either click the refresh/reload button at the top of your screen, or hit the F5 key at the top of your keyboard, or hold the Ctrl key while you tap the “R” key (for refresh), if you are running Windows.

This site has needed good navigation for a while. I know that some of the images are less than obvious, but there are word links/buttons for anything you can’t find easily as a photo. I hope you enjoy the change.

A New Look

Friday, August 26th, 2005

I’m sure those of you who come here often will notice, but I’ve created a new look. This is mostly for the sake of those trying to navigate between the different parts of my website.

Until now, it was pretty hard to find your way from the weblog to my patterns, to my yarns, to my classes, and so on. Each section of the site had its own navigation (or not), and since I kept adding things, it was getting impossible to get around.

I have been trying to retrofit all my mini-sites so that they look more alike. The SockTour and my Polymer Clay pages are the oldest of my pages, and they have black for a background. This is a real hassle for those who are visually impaired and I do not plan to repeat that look again. However, each of the images on those pages required that I “airbrush” the background out in black, and I just do not have the time or the heart to redo all those images in white. So those remain, with a different look than my newer pages.

My yarns, classes, patterns, and even some of my more hidden pages have now been updated with this new banner. I hope it creates a simpler experience getting around my site.

So here we go… I will definitely be changing the new banner a bit again in the next month or so… I already have plans for tweaking it. However, right now I’m on a non-computer deadline and so will leave that for September.

My Friend, Susan… Dancer.

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

Susan EydeMy friend, Susan Eyde, used to live in Lansing. We danced together in an apprentice troupe called B’nat Habibi (Sisters of Habibi… the main troupe is called Habibi Dancers).

Susan moved to Tucson, Arizona right before all the remaining B’nat apprentices auditioned into the main troupe. I miss her very much. I do keep getting news of her now and then, and once in a while she comes back to Lansing. When I’m lucky I’ll run into her at Altu’s Restaurant or New Aladdin’s.

Well, Susan was just interviewed for a long article in the Tucson Weekly. Susan is doing a sort of modern twist on the style of dance I perform. My teacher (Yasmina Amal) studies in Egypt and with other mideastern teachers, and does her best to stay with their styles and techniques. Susan studied with my teacher when we were learning, but then she on her own and is developing her own style. She’s electric on stage, and it’s no surprise to me that she is doing well in art-filled Tucson.

You might like to read the article. I only wish their photo were larger. The photo here I took in April 2000, when Susan was performing at a dance club in Dearborn (near Detroit).

A Tale of Two Sandals

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

beforeI can not stick to only one artform. It’s interesting, because for about 8 years I swore I was a “one song canary” and I did art only with polymer clay. How much I’ve changed since then!!!

A year ago we were at Meijer (local discount mega-store) and they were closing out sandals. In the little girls’ department there were some marked XL, which fit me perfectly (I wear a size 6US shoe and have slightly narrow feet). They were something like $1.50USD. Brian bought them for me.

beforeI loved how they fit, but they were pastel and very very girly. They had three buckles, all shaped like a heart and colored in pastels (pink, lavender and blue). Ugh. I am not a girly-girl. But they fit so well!!! And it’s so hard for me to find something that fits!

Well, the sandals I had last year finally literally split in two. I had to do something and do it fast. This year’s ladies’ sandals at Meijer fit differently and are not comfy. Boo Hoo. So out come the girly sandals.

I glued together the broken old sandals long enough to get to Michigan Fiber Fest. Then at night after classes were over, I schemed. I got some chip-resistant nail polish enamel and painted the hearts a shiny magenta color, several coats. Then the next night I got out my permanent felt-tip markers, and I decorated the heck out of the boring white leather.

I love these sandals!!! They do have their own personality and they definitely clash with a lot of my printed/flowered skirts. I love them for what they are!

And here’s my secret out to the world: These are my very own Fast Florida Footies. As in, the first ones I ever kept and wore.

I have knit at least 3-4 pair for myself over the years (and two pair for Mom), but mine always ended up on display at this or that yarn shop. This pair I finally kept and wore. This photo, taken last week, was the first day I ever wore the FFFooties of my very own design. The shoemaker’s kids have no shoes, as they say!!!

My Day Off

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Regent TheatreI took a day off. This is big, huge amazing news. Tuesday is supposed to be my day off, but I typically do not stick to that for a full day. I work at home (when I am not teaching), and I do work that I truly love. That means I am often working at 3am, happily, and I have to make myself go to bed. That means I work nights and weekends, and I don’t mind at all.

But I just had a five-day work experience of the most intense kind. My body was wiped out from standing/walking on cement for most of a week, and my smile muscles were just plain worn out! I needed some peace.

The wonderful news is that my neighborhood is finally quiet again. For months and months, a major bridge in Lansing has been torn down and rebuilt, about five blocks from our home. The quickest way to get from A to B used to be over that bridge, but since spring it was past our house. One day I sat on the porch and counted 45 cars in 5 minutes. That is 9 cars a minute, in a normally somewhat quiet residential area with two lanes for driving and one side of the road for friends to park when they visit. It was so loud that I have not spent much of my time on the porch this year.

So about 2 weeks ago the bridge was re-opened. I have been out of town a lot since then, but Tuesday I really noticed the calm. I loved it.

Here’s what I did on my day off: I tried to sleep in but woke up after 7 hours and couldn’t go back to sleep. Got up and had some great tea, read some emails, did a tiny bit of knitting on a sock, and went to lunch at Altu’s restaurant.

Had a great time at Altu’s, chatted with Altu and Charles and a few customers who came in (one of them knew my mom and recognized me). Ate great food.

Wandered to the Gone Wired Cybercafe just because I wanted to. Got a cup of oolong tea. I have a lot of tea in my house but no Oolong so that is what I get when I go there. Yum. Got the tea to go, and went home.

OK, I did work long enough to drop 2 packages of patterns in the mail to online customers. I was going to the post office to get my mail anyway, and I did have one of the envelopes addressed before I went to bed last night.

Went home. Dug out the yarn I bought at Webs on our trip 2 weeks ago. Uncovered my bulky knitting machine and made 3 swatches from some of the yarns I bought there, and also a swatch of humble but turquoise Cotton Ease. Threw samples in washer and dryer in eagerness and anticipation of sweaters to come. One sweater is for Brian, the other 2 for me.

Met Jesse at Panera Bread, talked almost an hour. Got a really good smoothie from New Aladdin’s Restaurant. Went to shoe store (Cobbler’s Bench at Frandor), got great service as always, didn’t buy anything but tried on merely one pair (at their recommendation) and am going to save my pennies for that very shoe. For my aching little feet.

Somewhere in there, Brian came home and I made the easiest of all dinners… pasta and red sauce with canned beans for protein. Ate together on the (now quiet) porch.

Made 2 one layer cakes. One is for me and Brian and the other for my friend April and her family, across the street. Ate too much

Talked to my friend Ulyana on the phone for almost an hour. Made a date to see her again on Friday. Spun 4 oz of Bonkers Superwash Merino roving in color Raspberry, mostly while talking to her.

Read 3 blogs written by other folks. Checked 1 more, no new news on that one.

Got tired. Saved blog… off to bed. Happy happy me. The weather is cold (56F tonight, very chilly for this time of year) and I don’t like that much, but it means wool is useful again and I won’t complain too much.

May you have a day this fine. Soon.

Photo is the Regent Theatre in Allegan, Michigan (where the Michigan Fiber Festival is held). Contrary to what this photo may imply, I did not go to a movie on my day off… some of you may remember that I am very fond of old neon. This example is really fine, don’t you think?

More MFF, Introducing Dawn

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Dawn's Fast Florida Footies I had two other classes I taught at Michigan Fiber Festival (MFF) last week. One was a toe-up footie construction class, and one was my Basketweave Rug.

Dierdre's Basketweave RugFor the sock class, the first to arrive was Dawn. She soon brought out a bag and from that came six pairs of socks. But not just any socks! These were her version of my Fast Florida Footies! These were in all sizes, and are planned as gifts. She chooses to knit the sole rather than purl it (which I do when I make them out of wool, the purl/reverse stockinette is for comfort in cotton yarn for those of us who have sensitive feet).

It was such a nice way to start a class, to see this collection of socks made from my pattern, or at least the inspiration of my pattern. She told me about some of the pairs she’s knit and stories behind them, who they are for.

Dawn's skeins and ribbonsThe sock class was intense and focused, but quite good (it was half a day, no time to spare). We made a “Frankensock” which was a footie without a foot… parts but not the whole… toe then heel then gusset then cuff.

Several folks were there as top-down socknitters who wanted to learn toe up. A few, including Dawn, had tried other methods of toe up socks and did not enjoy knitting them. I was pleased at the end of the class when folks told me they did enjoy my method. It’s a lot like a top down sock in the middle, the difference is mostly in the toe and a little bit in the bind off.

My final class was the rug class, and I notice that the further I got along in the week, the fewer photos I took! I had a full class for rugs but got merely one photo. Shame on me. At least the photo I got is really unique. Dierdre changed the garter stitch to seed/moss stitch, and she made each pattern change into a color change as well. It will be a more striped rug than my sample, but you can see that the changes she is making will be striking.

The final photo here is a real treat. Dawn stopped by on Sunday when I was in the Yarn Garden’s booth. She was carrying handspun (by her) skeins of yarn she had entered into the skein competition. She got two red ribbons! (I think that is second place?) Go, Dawn!!!

My First Michigan Fiberfest Class (in 2005, anyway)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

Aaah, I slept a bit and had a long bubble bath in the claw-footed tub and I feel rested and happy to be home. Now I’m ready to tell stories of my experiences at Michigan Fiber Fest.

My first day was Wednesday, a full day teaching “Polymer Clay Embellished Fiber Tools.” I had a great group, six people (a good class size for instructor interaction) who all dove in and made the techniques their own.

In the morning we worked on comfortable handles for crochet hooks. We added comfy handles using a tinted translucent clay roll with thin silver-colored metal leaf which reflected light from inside the pieces.

While we were working with the crochet hooks, we plotted and planned and schemed about the afternoon and what to make then. A few of my students wanted to make custom orifice hooks for their spinning wheels, others wanted to cover Bic Stic pens (hard, clear pens do not work properly but these do… remove the ink cartridge before baking). The pens were their idea, and a great one. Low cost, high reward, makes them perfect projects, and they make wonderful gifts.

I put the crochet hooks into the oven while they had lunch. I spent lunch happily gathering supplies at the local discount shop so that they could make their preferred items.

In the afternoon, the spinners cut and bent some wire I had purchased, and made their own orifice hooks with whatever shape handle they wanted, out of 100% clay. (My sample hook was made by applying clay to a pre-made wooden hook, but that was an expensive way to do it.)

In the end, everyone but me made at least one pen, some made three. Also a few folks covered some wooden beads made for the pull chains that hang from ceiling fans. We had a lot of variety going, and it was inspiring.

We had a session on how to sand and buff and polish, after the first pieces came out of the oven. And then the folks made whatever their hearts desired. It was a wonderful time!

I must say that I was gifted with a Thank You note on Friday, from Victoria who took this class. She had a great time, and so did I. I’m touched that she spent the time to get a card and write a very kind note in it, and then make sure to find me and hand deliver the note. Thanks for your kindness, Victoria!

Photos: 1)First batch of crochet hooks using translucent clays and foil leaf. 2)Second batch, mostly Bic pens. 3)Experimental pieces late in the day… Orifice hooks for spinning, pins, bead for pull chain, pens, crochet hook. 5)My students, who made the fun day possible.