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Archive for September, 2005

Getting it Together: LynnH Rules of Maintenance

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

OK, I’m trying to turn around my attitude and my environment. I’ve been so focused on my yarn business for the last several weeks, that the necessary bits of life (home maintenance, cooking) have not happened except in very small, very infrequent ways.

So today I had to do something! I realized that cleaning house has a lot in common with gardening, and I’m applying life lessons to both.

I’ve learned that it usually takes 3 years before a plant acts like it’s happy, especially in our bad soil if I move a plant. The first year it looks like it died, the second it gasps for breath and the third year it looks so happy you think it has been there forever!

Earlier this summer I received a gift plant, put it in the soil and watered it, and it promptly lost ALL of its leaves. I was so panicked because I really valued the person who gave it to me, that I just kept watering the stick. I felt a bit crazy, like a Don Quixote or something, rescuing what couldn’t be rescued.

Except, a month later a few tiny buds came on the stick. And now it has a whole bunch of tiny little leaves. It is supposed to have larger leaves, but the plant is not dead. It looked totally gone, trust me… but my desperation-watering was good for it.

So the number 1 rule of LynnH Gardening is: Water the Stick!

And now I’m trying to clean a house that has been ignored too long. The house is small (I like it that way) but full of things, some of which I use a lot and some of which are in the way and may never be used again.

I realized that if I could get the extra stuff out of the house (rather than moving it from one place to another), I’d never have to deal with it again. And the space available from that move, could make space for me to put things away that I do in fact use.

So the number 1 rule of LynnH Housekeeping is: Get it out the door!

So far so good. I have a bunch of Hewlett-packard toner cartridge boxes that need to go back with UPS. Never mind a UPS guy came to our house today but didn’t knock… I can leave the boxes at Foster Center where UPS stops often.

I also have a pile of 3 boxes of old clothes, etc., in the bedroom (which is literally the size of a bed, a side table and 2 dressers… no room for a stack of 3 copy-paper boxes in there). That pile is going in the car tomorrow to go out, probably to Salvation Army.

The bedroom is sighing with relief already. Trust me.

So… when it seems like you’re have time for nothing and you just do the tiniest of hopeful moves, it can make a difference.

Water the stick! It works.

Sometimes…

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Sometimes I just get grumpy! Today I started the day with a dentist appointment (which normally doesn’t bother me much) and for some reason I just felt unsociable most of the day.

I had lunch with my Mother at the new Aladdin’s Delight restaurant in Haslett, which was very nice. Then I went home and took an hour’s nap on the porch, in the hammock. The hammock is one of my favorite luxuries (Tuesdays are my day off so I didn’t feel guilty). However, I woke up to construction noises. It seems this neighborhood never stops having construction noises, so I sort of woke up wrong.

I did get myself out to the knitting guild meeting, and dinner with knitting friends, and it was a good way to turn things around. When I got home I took a long, hot bath in my wonderful 1920s claw-footed tub, another very favorite luxury.

I also took another stab at a v-neck tank I’m making on the knitting machine. The last time I tried to divide for the neck, I ended up with the wrong number of stitches. This time I think I figured out the problem… they had me bind off the center 6 stitches (3 for each side) and then they proceeded to tell me to decrease them again on the neckline. Whoops! Since I don’t do sweaters/tanks much, the first time I tried it, I assumed I was the one who made the mistake. This time I’m pretty clear I did it right.

So now I have only one more side of the neck (the back is already made) and we’ll see how it goes. After that, just two seams (I don’t mind seaming) and some single crochet for neck and armholes. The garment looks really long right now, but I measured my gauge swatch after machine washing/machine drying. So maybe it will shrink in the length when I throw the finished item in the dryer. I hope.

Anyway, I took several pictures Tuesday/today but I’m not in any mood to start editing them now. As I tell the kids at Foster Center when they are having a bad day, “Let’s try to start over again tomorrow.”

Totally New Yarn Types, Up!

Monday, September 19th, 2005

Silky-Spun lace yarnHi, friends. I’ve just put up two new pages of yarns for sale. This includes two types of Laceweight Yarns, one 50/50 silk/wool (sheen and color out of this world) and one 100% soft merino wool. See the 3 remaining colorways of the silk/wool here at left. I had more of the silk/wool yarn but it was very popular at my Trunk Show (at Threadbear) a few weeks ago!

Laceweight yarn is such a wonderful thing. It feels wonderful, takes only one skein to make something fabulous, and you knit a long time on that one skein so you really get your money’s worth. In my town, a lot of folks are really diving into lace knitting, and I can see why.

yarnI also have added a page with Wooly Sport yarn, a sportweight 100% wool.

I offered this same yarn in tiny little 33gm skeins about 2-3 years ago. This time the skeins are a hefty 4oz/420yd for a very nice handpaint price of $14/skein. Commercial sockyarn can be 3.5oz for around $12.00, so I’m happy I can offer this price today.

The Wooly Sport yarn will felt (I’m dreaming of a small pouch with long shoulder strap) but would also make good warm and not-too-thick socks (hand wash of course). There are four colorways of the Wooly Sport, and I think they would look great together in an entrelac, modular or striped item. Here I’m showing the colorway called Seafoam. It looks a little dark on my screen, imagine a Seafoam Crayola crayon, and you’ll be close.

I’m happy to say that I had a good weekend selling my Cushy ColorSport yarns and patterns. I have updated that part of my yarn site with currently accurate skein counts, for those who have needed time to debate which they like best.

For the record, my Chunky-Funky buttons will be next up on the sale site. However, I sold a bunch of them to Little Red Schoolhouse and Rae’s Yarn Boutique, so my stock is low. I’ll probably spend a day making more before I post those here for you.

It’s Fall

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

leafIt is autumn in Lansing this weekend. There is a chill in the air when the sun is not shining. There is a bit of a breeze (this makes me happy, as I have some very fine wind chimes that were a wedding present, and I can not always hear them).

I’m pleased to say that another sound I have heard today is an ice cream truck. Even though it’s chilly and the sun is setting earlier, the purveyor of frozen goodies is making the rounds. There are apparently still neighborhood children with small bits of cash, who still want ice cream. That makes me smile.

Last weekend was the first time I really noticed that a few trees here and there had begun changing color. Today we ate lunch on the porch and an orange leaf was at my feet, teasing me that snow is not far away.

But if I can live in the moment, it is a beautiful time of year. This is a pretty town in the fall. Lansing is full of trees, everywhere, even (perhaps especially) in lower-income neighborhoods. It’s equal-opportunity beauty right now, and I love that about my town.

Since I’m so cold-phobic, I tend to forget the good about this time of year. When I get a bad attitude, I do my best to turn it around by listening to Kitty Donohoe‘s song, Autumn Dance.

The song is on her “As Sparks Fly Upward” CD, a fine album from beginning to end. I know that at least two of us (Hi, Regina!) at times put the single song Autumn Dance on repeat. We just listen until we’re full up with appreciation for this time of year, and for Kitty’s artful song-crafting. Never mind her voice… I used to say she was my favorite voice in Lansing but now she lives in Ann Arbor. (You can hear clips of some of Kitty’s songs on her website, to get a taste of her richly expressive singing for yourself.)

If you don’t know Kitty’s work yet, she did win a grammy for “There are No Words” which she wrote in response to the 9/11 tragedy. I knew she was a class act, but I don’t count for much in the big picture. It is wonderful to have the larger music community acknowledge the work of someone who has been a top-notch songstress and songwriter for a long time. Do check out her work.

Altu had a Great Birthday

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

Thanks to those who sent birthday greetings to my friend, Altu. It meant a lot to both of us.

I got to eat a late dinner at her restaurant and see her for a little while. Her husband was there and we got to talk and laugh as Africans do… they enjoy conversation and friendship so very much, and I’m all for it!

I made Altu a homemade spice cake with pumpkin sauce, and four of us ate it after the restaurant closed. (Those four would be Altu, her hubby, her brother-in-law Charles, who works for her, and me.) It turned out even better than I expected. Yum.

Handspun Turquoise Lace Scarf

Friday, September 16th, 2005

Now, this is lace I understand. Check out the Keyboard Biologist. She dyes, she spins, she knits. I don’t usually like lace, but I like this one a lot.

Cushy ColorSport New Colors are Up!

Friday, September 16th, 2005

Cushy ColorSport by LynnHHello, friends. I have finally made web pages to include the new colors of Cushy ColorSport, my signature yarn. It knits up to a DK weight (for sweaters, about 5.5 stitches/inch and for socks about 6.5 st/in).

I have never before offered sweater quantities of my yarns. Today I have several colorways where I offer 1.5 lb of yarn, bundled in half-pound skeins of 525 yards/480m. That’s enough for a good number of sweaters, with a total of 1575 yards total in 3 half-pound skeins.

DK weight yarn goes further than worsted or bulky yarn, never mind it’s more fluid to wear… it would be perfect for some of the “new” style short wrapped sweaters inspired by ballet clothing.

Cushy ColorSport by LynnHTwo half-pound skeins makes a luscious small baby blanket in a large basketweave/checkerboard pattern with garter edge. (Approximately 30″x30″ or 76cm x 76cm.)

This yarn is machine wash, machine dry witn no pilling. It’s springy and comfy and wonderful for the beloved infant in your life. I’ll send a pattern for the blanket for anyone who orders one pound of this yarn.

A half pound should also be good for a hat and scarf, or more than a hat and mittens. It would make 2 pair socks for most women (a half pound is more than two 100gm skeins), or at very least a pair for mommy and a smaller pair for a child.

Cushy ColorSport by LynnHFor those who still are focused on socks and smaller projects, I offer a good number of my standard 100gm skeins, enough to make a pair of small women’s socks in stockinette with a not-too-tall cuff. Some of my yarns I also offer in mini-skeins, and if you add one of those you can typically make any size sock for a woman. If you want some ColorJoy in your life, get the mini-skein in a contrasting colorway and use it for toes/heels and maybe an inch of rib at the top!

Cushy ColorSport by LynnHWith any leftovers you can make baby socks! The Fast Florida Footies pattern works fine for this yarn… it knits easily to the same gauge as Cascade Fixation which is what that pattern specifies. The purled sole is not necessary for comfort if you use this springy wool, but it does look pretty because of how reverse stockinette mixes colors. Check out my post of September 9 to see an example. Adorable.

I have some laceweight yarns to put up soon, and some sport weight feltable yarns as well. You can see I’m not done yet, but I did announce the ColorSport yarns on Socknitters just before midnight last night and I did not want my blog readers to miss this same opportunity.

There is a chill in the air and it’s time to think wool again. This wool is warm and soft but not too bulky, perfect for this sort of weather. It’s exciting to have this new batch of lovelies to start fall with a smile!

Correction to Islamic Center Open House Date

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

I just got notice that the Islamic Center’s Open House will be on Sunday, September 18 (not Sat. 9/17 as previously reported). I’ll go now and correct that previous posting, but if you already read it, here’s the notice.

I’m delighted, myself. I’m out of town Saturday but in town Sunday. My class is until 4pm and it’s not far from the Islamic Center. That means that maybe I will get to go for at least a little while. I hope.

Say Happy Birthday to Altu

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

My friend Altu has a birthday Saturday. I’m taking her out to lunch for an early celebration today (Thursday).

I know that some of you live in Lansing (Michigan/USA) and some enjoy going to Altu’s Restaurant. Please take the time to stop by and say hello this week, or send her an email (her email address is on her website). I know she enjoys it when people treat her in a special way (she’s not shy and doesn’t mind birthdays).

Let’s celebrate the fact that Altu was born! Stop by and give her a hug or a smile if you can. And if you stop by the restaurant on Saturday, you can have the extra bonus of her exquisite Saturday Special (mild garlic lentils, mmmm).

Priest in Lalibela EthiopiaHere’s a pic I took when Altu’s mom was visiting from Ethiopia just a few months ago. Mama doesn’t usually smile for a camera so this photo is really special. And I’ve taken many pictures of Altu, but she is especially beautiful in this photo.

For the record, Altu is wearing an Ethiopian dress with a wrap/shawl over it called a netela. I bought several netela shawls when I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last January. They are made of exquisite handspun cotton, woven into a translucent, soft and lovely gauzy fabric with a decorative edging (the edging is made of synthetic fibers so that the colors will not run in the wash).

Altu’s mother is wearing an Ethiopian cross. It’s a style of cross originally used by the “coptic” Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia (this is the predominant version of Christianity in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt). However, it seems that many Ethiopians who do not belong to this branch of Christianity, see this style of cross as a symbol of pride in their national heritage. I’ve seen it worn by protestant Ethiopians and by folks from more than one language group/tribe.

I wear a silver Ethiopian cross almost every day as a reminder of my visit there, but mine looks more like a square standing on its corner. I think mine looks a bit like a snowflake. My necklace looks something like the one on the left in the photo here, held by a priest in an ancient stone church in Lalibela (historical northern Ethiopia). I took the photo in early December, 2004.

Jammin’ at Wheatland

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

Jam SessionAs I’ve said, for us, Wheatland is about jam sessions. Here are photos of a few of our many sessions this last weekend.

First is a group of friends who live all over the state, and who sometimes do not see one another any other time of year. Some are from Saginaw/Bay City/Flint area, and some from Kalamazoo, and of course we are in Lansing and at least one person in the jam was from Ohio. This photo looks like it was all women, but there are always a few token guys as well. When I go to bluegrass sessions, it’s almost all men. This is sort of a fun group for me, they are great singers and we sing harmony all night. When I was new to the scene, they made me feel totally welcome, and I will never forget that kindness.

Jam SessionThe woman in the center of the photo is a percussionist, and she is sitting on top of her instrument. It’s a resonant wood box with holes in the sides. She can hit it in different places and it makes different sounds. Wonderful!!!

Next photo is our campsite, a group of folks who also often do not see each other between Wheatland sessions, some from as far away as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These guys love music from Louisiana and were playing some french-language music (Cajun) as I snapped this photo. I’m sure it meant twice as much this year to be loving and celebrating this form of music.

We met a guy named E.J. this weekend, and jammed with him a few times. I didn’t get a photo of him, but he gave me a bumper sticker and it gives his band as Maggi, Pierce and E.J., and their website as MPEband.com (The website says their new CD will be released September 15, which is today! Congrats to Maggie, Pierce and E.J.!) Looks like they are playing a concert in Kalamazoo tonight with the Corn Fed Girls (including Darcy Sahlgren, mentioned in another post about Wheatland). Here’s the scoop on that concert:

Stryker Theater at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum
230 N. Rose St.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
United States
800-772-3370

It appears they are also playing in Manistee, Michigan on Friday/tomorrow. Check it out if you can… details on the MPEband website.Colorful FiberArt BoothAnd last but not least, there is talking between singing and listening to music… there is an art fair on premises, and this booth was the most ColorJoy of them all this year! You can see the artists Bill(?) and Anne in their booth here. He weaves the fabrics, and she creates the garments from the fabric. Color, color everywhere!!!

My friend Irene purchased one, and I really did consider it, as well. However, I’ve been splurging so much lately on African clothing that I thought it wise to sit this one out. One can not have every thing that one adores, right? And my closet is bursting already… I rarely wear a jacket, I am more casual than that, so I deferred at least until another day.

And with that, I will conclude my reporting of the 2005 Wheatland Music Festival. I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip!

Performers at Wheatland

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

Steppin' in ItThe focus of Wheatland Music Festival is music! And this is as it should be. For Brian and I, this usually takes the form of wandering the campgrounds looking for other musicians, and creating impromptu jam sessions. As often as possible, and for as long as possible. This year we were up past 3am two nights in a row, playing music.

Maria Muldaur at WheatlandFor a lot of other festival-goers, though, music at Wheatland means watching shows. There is the Main Stage, the Centennial Stage (formerly called 2nd stage), the “Dance Tent” which is not a tent but a stage, the Kids’ Hill stage which houses the previous Main Stage which was moved there when a new one was built a few years back…. and a Middle Ground stage is also in the back corner of the woods for open mic sessions of young folks during the daytime hours. I may have even missed something, but that is a big deal already!

Potato MoonI’ve shown you several photos of the Main Stage, including my friends Steppin’ in It (as dots from a distance while we observed a man on his couch) and the Rhythm in Shoes show. Here’s another shot of Steppin’ in It, who played two shows at Main Stage, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

This shot is up close and personal, at the closing concert Sunday. From left to right we have Joe on Trombone, Josh on guitar, Dominic on bass and Andy on Trumpet. Joe and Andy both play many instruments, but this was the instrumentation for their beautiful and haunting version of “Do You Know what it Means to Miss New Orleans?”

Centennial Stage happeningAnother big draw this weekend on Main Stage was Maria Muldaur. Many of us learned of her through her top-40 hit “Midnight at the Oasis” in the 70’s, but she had been singing professionally a long time when that came out. Most of my friends knew of her when she started in the Jim Kweskin Jug Band (as Maria D’Amato before she married Geoff Muldaur who was also in that band).

The woman has pipes! What a voice she has, and she shared it with us primarily in bluesy numbers. I love “Woman” which is a bragging song she did with the Jug band, and she also did several tunes by Memphis Minnie, which were new to me but great numbers.

Fabulous HeftonesFriday on Centennial Stage, we got a peek at Potato Moon, a band with many musicians (including a few beautiful women in black gowns and full-length dress gloves) with a young following, from Grand Rapids. They clearly had a crowd of groupies there for them. The Centennial Stage is a huge tent on grassy ground, not a great dance floor, but that did not stop the crowd from “cuttin’ the rug” while the show proceeded. This band is a little less folk/blues/roots than most of the groups we see at Wheatland, but they definitely fit in and made many listeners very happy.

On Sunday we returned to Centennial Stage for a relaxing and delightful concert including our friend, DJ Mark Sahlgren and family. This photo really shows what the daytime feel of this stage can be. Folks bring blankets like a picnic, and set up with toddlers and snacks, and enjoy hours of music, very close to the performers. I love the atmosphere of this stage.

Last, I show you a photo of Me and Brian, taken by our friend Marlene Cameron. This was Friday night at Open Mic. It’s a bit hard to see well, because the stage background had a lovely quilt hanging on it. Here, for the record, I’m wearing my dress from Senegal (purchased at Caribbean Festival in Lansing) and Brian is wearing a shirt from Ghana that we bought in Washington DC early this past August.

Dancing at Wheatland

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

Rhythm in Shoes at WheatlandI am inspired to post more photos of Wheatland. Two days ago I posted some children who were dancing at a clogging class. Here I present to you the main stage show of Rhythm in Shoes, an amazing clogging troupe.

African Dance ClassThe second photo is back at “Middle Ground,” the area of Wheatland for younger folks (middle school through the young at heart… lots of college kids camp in that area, which is tent-only, no RV’s).

They had African Dancing classes back there, and I got in on just a part of one session. The gentleman teaching the class was from Senegal, and I regret not having a chance to talk with him a bit. (I think I was wearing my dress from Senegal that day… how cool is that?)

Lynn and hula hoopAnd one day near the Main Stage, the children allowed me to use their hula hoop for a moment. I’d never used one so large and heavy, and it worked well.

When I was in 5th grade, I was the hula hoop champion on the block. I could not beat Kelly McCroskey at any sport (and she was 2 years behind me in school) but I won Hula Hoop hands down. In those days I could take the hoop from over my head, down to my ankles, and then defy gravity and get it to go all the way back up over my head on my wrists again. That I can’t do any more, but I can at least play with this!!! As usual, Brian got several nice shots of me while I was having fun, including this one.

Open House at Lansing Islamic Center

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Here’s some news passed on to me through a mideastern dancing friend:

…there is an open house being held at the Islamic Center of Greater Lansing this Sunday the 18th of September. It will be from 1-5 p.m. and EVERYONE is invited! (Note: this was originally announced as being on Saturday the 17th, but that was incorrect.)

It’ll have representative stalls/tables from more that 8 different muslim countries with artifacts, garments, jewellery and other things displayed. (free finger food from around the world will be there too!)

The idea is to promote better understanding in the community of all the people that are a part of it.

There will be people from the Islamic center ready to answer any questions you might have about the countries or the religion, Islam. You are also invited to watch the prayers that will be performed in the mosque at around 1:40.

Here is the address (it’s just North of the intersection of Harrison Rd. and Trowbridge Rd., on the West Side of the road just north of University Lutheran):

The Islamic Society of Greater Lansing
920 S Harrison
East Lansing, MI 48823

The map on their website is not very helpful (it doesn’t even label Harrison Rd.), so you might look it up on your favorite map service online, perhaps Mapquest or Google Maps.

For the record, I’m a fourth-generation Unitarian-Universalist, not a Muslim. However, I’m all for dissipating the negative energy out there in this society right now against Muslims, mostly based on assumptions or misinformation.

It sounds like this would just be a great way to spend a few hours! Food from other countries and artifacts/clothing from all over the world to observe and learn from? It sounds like a wonderful afternoon. I hope some of you might like to go… at the moment I have a committment that should keep me far from Lansing that day.

Wheatland Kids

Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

Well, this year’s Wheatland Music Festival was long and warm and dry, and I had as much fun as I’ve ever had. And I think this was my 10th Wheatland!

I took a zillion pictures (several hundred, anyway) so they can’t all come out on the same blog post, unfortunately. Today I’ll present to you some of the children of Wheatland.

You see kids everywhere. There’s a rock pile where kids make forts. There are crafts where you can make all sorts of things, for ages from pre-school to adult. There is “kids’ hill” where they have basically a sandbox that doesn’t stop. There is a tot’s area with a fence around it and slides and other fun equipment to play on.

It seems more common lately that you find kids playing this or that instrument with an open case or hat soliciting tips. It works, we were told by one young man that he’d made enough to impress himself.

Brian’s feeling is that they should play for the love of the music, and I think he has an excellent point… but I don’t see this trend stopping any time soon. Nonetheless, it’s great to see miniature fiddle players. I don’t have any in my normal life, though I’m not sure I’d have the patience for it long term!

Here are four photos of the kids of Wheatland. First, some kids on the under-occupied back dance floor during a clogging lesson at the Dance Stage. Second, Two sweet girls who both wanted to play uke simultaneously on the same instrument!!!

Third, check out this tiny little girl who was entertaining herself by walking down the portable dance floor (a 4×8 foot piece of board suspended by 2x4s), jumping off the end, then doing it over and over again. Last, a group of kids playing with hula hoop and anything else they could find to play with.