About Me ColorJoy Home Page Free Stuff About Me Contact Me
ColorJoy Home Page
ColorJoy Home The ColorJoy Blog Buy Patterns, Recipe Books, CDs Patterns Schedule & Potential Classes Recipes & Food Information The LynnH SockTour LynnH Polymer Clay The Fabulous Heftones - Lynn & Brian

Archive for October, 2005

The Amazing Midwest Ukefest 2005

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Midwest UkefestWell, folks, it was wonderful. Prepare for too many photos. Twenty-six photos, to be exact (I promise, I worked at making them small enough to load fast). How can I dare leave anything out???

Midwest UkefestAfter we got our CD shipment on Thursday, we went to lunch and then left for Indianapolis, Indiana. We got there just in time to check in to our hotel and run over to the Indiana State Museum for the “American Novelty” preview concert.

Midwest UkefestAmerican Novelty is a project by the act “Shorty Long” from Austin, Texas, made up of Pops Bayless, Mysterious John and “Just Plain Bob” Guz. It details a fictitious history of American Novelty music. It’s downright hilarious, with great songs and better musicianship. (They did a short version this weekend but will be doing the full script in New York City this spring if I heard correctly… it’s a must-see.)

Midwest UkefestI adore this band. They are musical, tight, and entertaining. Of course, I could be even more biased than a friend might be, because John is an amazing kazoo player. Besides his voice, kazoo is his primary instrument, and he plays it well. I love kazoos, and I love John. (Photo #1, from left to right, Bob, Pops and John.)

Midwest UkefestWe got there just as the concert started, so after the show was the first time we had to say hello to these folks we know and hold dear, and see only at Ukefests. This was our third year at Indianapolis, our fourth Ukefest (including the Pocanos last year). Folks are friends now, and it’s a warm and welcoming community.

Midwest UkefestThursday night we went out to Action Duckpin Bowl for a preview party. Some folks bowled but we just said hello to more friends. Each main stage act that was there, performed one song for the crowd. Here Brian and I are after our song (photo #2 by Jude), and here (photo #3) is Howie, volunteer extraordinaire, and Geoff Davis, creator of the Midwest Ukefest (I bow to his willingness to work).

Midwest UkefestCheck out the photos of a kid bowling, the outside of the building with all its neon, and especially the “Diner” neon sign (Photos #4, 5 & 6). Frequent readers will remember that I am very fond of old neon signs. I took other photos at this same location, the building is just covered in old neon. Unfortunately I was feeling rushed as others waited on me, and the photos are blurry (in a non-artful way).

But the end of the duckpin bowling alley experience was not the end of the evening. We went back to our hotel, and had a jam session in the lobby until waaay past midnight (Photos #7 & 8)

Midwest UkefestMorning came far too soon, as you can imagine! We presented a workshop at 9am on Friday. Mind you, it takes a seriously dedicated ukulele player to be at a workshop on a Friday morning. Not only does it require night-owl musicians to wake up early, but even early birds had to probably get a day off work to be there.

We were very pleased to have a couple of dozen folks there to listen to Brian’s presentation on fingerpicking (Photo #9). Me? I was there, but I can’t say I wasn’t tired. It took a few good strong cups of tea to get me going that day!

Midwest UkefestMy favorite workshop is always the hula class. This year we had hula both Friday and Saturday, with Joyce Flaugher from San Antonio, Texas. She’s a great teacher, who imparts not just the moves but the intent behind them.

Midwest UkefestThe first day of hula class it was really cold, the rumor was that it was in the upper 40’s F (around 8.5C). There we were, outdoors by the canal, in the wind without a lick of sun to warm us (Photo #10). I wore my coat, my wristwarmers, ColorJoy Stole, legwarmers, and hat… and was still chilled. Yet we dedicated ones stuck it out and learned a wonderful song that Joyce wrote herself. (The previous two years, we danced outdoors barefoot comfortably, see hula class pictures from my weblog of 2004.)

Midwest UkefestFortunately, on Saturday they found us a warm spot in a small school cafeteria room at the Museum, and we danced indoors. The space was not fancy but it was easier to hear Joyce and it was just enough more intimate that I think we really did get a better sense of the spirit of hula as well as the specific dance. I loved it.

That night was the first main stage concert. The acts were all spectacular in their own styles. That night we heard:

The Key Strummers (sponsors of the event, a fine kid’s band), Indianapolis, Indiana
Bryan Tolentino and the Side Order Band, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Gerald Ross, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Joyce Flaugher and Bev Gagliardi, San Antonio, Texas
Mark “Spanky” Gutierrez, Omaha Nebraska
Kimo Hussey, Honolulu, Hawai’i
Pops, Mysterious John and Just Plain Bob (Shorty Long), Austin, Texas

Midwest UkefestThe photos (#11, 12 & 13) here are of Mark/Spanky, Gerald Ross, and Joyce (singing) with Bev (dancing). I regret I did not get a good shot of our friend Kathy Gravlin (of Katseye) when she was playing ukulele to back up Gerald on lap steel guitar.

Midwest UkefestOn Friday night, Brian went to the late-night jam session at the Golden Ace Irish pub. I went directly to bed and slept like a baby! No regrets here. Sleep is holy sometimes, and the night before a big show it seems the only answer.

Midwest UkefestSaturday was another day of workshops, plus concerts in the main hall of the Indiana State Museum and late in the afternoon an Open Mic. I’m particularly fond of Open Mic, since we were sort of “discovered” at the open mic two years ago at this very location.

Midwest UkefestWe literally got to the festival on Friday that year, about 10 minutes to 3:00pm, and they were still soliciting performers for the 3:00 Open Mic show. We signed up, ran and changed into our formalwear, and darned if we weren’t a bit of a hit!

The next day they asked us to play again at Open Mic (which we tried to decline so that others could get a shot playing… but there ended up being room for all). Well, Geoff Davis (head honcho of Midwest Ukefest) went in there to hear us and afterward asked us to play the main stage. And the rest, they say, is history… (or something like that).

Midwest UkefestThis year was less dramatic at Open Mic, but Joyce’s students performed their one hula dance. I was one of the dancers and delighted to be! Here are two photos graciously taken by David Smith of Dearborn… the feet of the dancers lined up and waiting for their turn, and we students on stage at the beginning of our dance. That would be me in the front row, second from left in the hot pink turtleneck. (Photos #14 & 15)

Saturday night we had dinner with friends from Michigan at Buca di Beppo, an amazing Italian restaurant (it’s a chain, but they use real ingredients, no fillers, no corn syrup or corn oil which means I am not allergic to their food). Sara, my Goddaughter, and I discovered this chain in Chicago a few summers ago, and now I really look forward to it in Indy when we’re there.

Midwest UkefestAt the table were Brian and I, Kathy Gravlin, Gerald Ross, and our friend (and amazing upright bass player) Steve S., whose last name I do not have any idea how to spell, but who seems to be in nearly every band in Lansing. It was wonderfully relaxing to have this great meal before our performance. (The night before, we’d enjoyed a meal at India Garden with Kathy, her friend Bryan and his wife Meg, who is a knitter, and we had a great time then as well.)

The show was another wonderful set of talented folks. I just shake my head some nights, as I see who we are sharing a stage with once more. How lucky we are. Two of the acts before us, Joel Eckhaus and Pat Monteleone, are folks whose music overlaps ours. That is, we have to trade notes before a show to make sure we are not all planning to sing the same thing!!! Our styles of presenting a song are very different but our love of the genre means we dig out the same gems at times. This is a good problem, for sure. The lineup on Saturday was:

The Key Strummers, Indianapolis, Indiana
Byron Yasui, Honolulu, Hawai’i
The Windy City Islanders, Chicago, Illinois
Steve Kobe and Friends Arcadia, Indiana
Joel Eckhaus, Portland, Maine
Pat Monteleone, Hollicong, Pennsylvania
The Fabulous Heftones (Brian & I), Lansing, Michigan
James Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Midwest UkefestBecause we were backstage most of the time, I gave my camera to trusty ukulele friend Theresa Smith of Dearborn, Michigan who took some great photos of that show for me. The photo here of the Keystrummers I actually took on Friday (they played both nights) and the photo of Brian and I as The Fabulous Heftones was taken by Theresa. (Photos #16 & 17) Check out in the Keystrummers photo, at far right. David the amazing musician/dancer and veteran Keystrummer, is playing a washboard contraption with vigor. He’s a talented young man.

We performed six numbers: Hum Your Troubles Away, Tellin’ it to the Daisies, Shy Little Violets, Ukulele Cha, Valley of the Moon and I Love Me. Two are flower songs from our new CD, In the Garden. Valley of the Moon (download free) is from our first CD, Moon June Spoon. Ukulele Cha is a number Brian composed and which will be released on a CD called Raspberry Rag. The other two numbers we do perform regularly but have not yet recorded.

Midwest UkefestThe audience, as always, was great. I was delighted because even though October is a crummy allergy month, this year I had my full voice with me up there. From the comments I received after the show, other folks noticed as well.

It is the ultimate compliment to a singer, to have a musician say that her performance made him aware of how much can be done with the instrument that is the human voice. Dang! I lived my whole life not anticipating that sentiment. I was humbled and honored. And truly, it did feel as “right” a performance as we have ever given. I didn’t get nervous at all, and I felt the audience out there loving me. It was wonderful.

Midwest UkefestOh, in knitting content, perhaps you can slightly see that I was wearing the purple and turquoise version of my Garden Capelet during our set. I designed this pattern when I found that the ColorJoy Stoles I usually wear would not stay on me while playing bass (with my left arm raised) on stage. Since I tend to knit the first several versions of a pattern as yarn shop samples, I had never worn it before. This one was at Little Red Schoolhouse yarn shop for about 6 months.

It worked perfectly on stage, stayed in place for a 20 minute set with me moving around a lot. It’s a little sparkly and a lot colorful, and it works great under the lights with my turquoise silk dress (which was my wedding dress 9 years ago).

Midwest UkefestBut just because the concert was over, did not mean we were done! Back to the Golden Ace (I went this time) for a “WADSY” (We Ain’t Done Strummin’ Yet) jam session. (Photos #18-23) The tunes were hot and the styles were varied. We had swing, blues, jug band, tin pan alley, original tunes, fake Hawaiian tunes, fake Irish tunes, banjo tunes, and music I do not know how to categorize. There were bands and clubs and individuals all playing what they could, playing along, leading, whatever they could do. It was a scene in the best sense of the word.

Midwest UkefestPlease notice the third Golden Ace photo here with George on guitar and Wendy (from Connecticut) on uke. I took a photo of Wendy in the Pocanos last year! It’s the last photo on this blog page. I was thrilled to recognize her (and, gasp, actually remember her name… sometimes I get it right).

I must confess, I am not fond of crowds. Last year this event was overwhelming. But last year I was not feeling 100%, recovering from a sinus bug, and this year I was happy and healthy and high from a great show. I had a wonderful time!!! We closed the place after 3am. And we had to check out of the hotel in the morning! We got almost enough sleep.

Midwest UkefestSunday brunch is a really special part of the weekend. We go to Shapiro’s Deli and have lunch, whoever is still in town. The Keystrummers and their families tend to populate this gathering well, and it gives us a chance to get to know them. They are so busy working on our behalf from Thursday to Saturday that they don’t have much chatting time. I am a big sucker for relationship, I love talking and getting to know people, especially clearly good people such as these.

Brian was right when he said something like this event gives you hope for the future of mankind. These families are working as a team to support their kids and this worthy Ukefest. Each year the kids in the band are getting older and more accustomed to the event, and therefore are taking on more and more of the actual work responsibilities of running the festival. They do a great job. It was really obvious this year how much they do, and how well.

Midwest UkefestAnd the parents are so fine! I talked to several parents and they all really seemed to have a clear sense of who their children really were, what the kids’ passions and talents were. It is hard enough to just run a household, but on top of that to really know and understand your child’s assets and challenges is such a gift, not only to your child but to the universe. Hard stuff, and these families are doing a bang-up job of it.

Here I end with three photos of only a few of the folks who ate lunch at Shapiro’s (we took up this entire room you see). First a large table shot (photo #24)… notice Carol at front left, who saw my Fabulous Heftones brochure at the “Mass Ave Yarn Shop” (which is on Virginia Avenue, not Massachusetts) and was delighted to see it! (If you ever make it to Indianapolis, go visit Susan there and tell her I sent you. It was a quite spacious shop with a big table for sit-and-knit activity. She had lots of yarn variety, particularly an amazing number of artful handpainted yarn lines.)

Midwest UkefestThen some photos of young folks. First a jam session, just my Brian and Cole (Photo #25). They played for maybe 45 minutes, just the two of them, and it was just plain wonderful. Cole is Dan’s kid, Dan had a vendor booth this weekend. He knew about the Knitlist, so we hit it off right away! I hope we see this family again.

Midwest UkefestAnd the last photo? A young lady in the Keystrummers asked me during the weekend if I’d teach her to knit. She reminded me of this promise late in the lunch event, so we dove in. (Photo #26)

I pulled two needles out of the hat I was knitting, and broke off a few yards of wonderful green alpaca. I taught her the simplest cast on, how to knit, and the simplest bind off I could. She made something like a 1″ square of garter fabric and was teasing that it might work as a nosewarmer! It’s a start, though.

I encouraged her that there are yarn shops in town with classes. In fact, now that I think back, she said that the duckpin bowling was in her neighborhood… which is only a few blocks from Susan’s Mass Ave. Yarn Shop. I’m crossing my fingers for this young lady that she’ll keep it up.

And that is my (much abbreviated, believe it or not) story of Midwest Ukefest 2005. We’ll be back in another year. I can’t wait!

Haven’t Forgotten You

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

We’re still in Indianapolis for the Ukefest. There has been little time to sleep, much less turn on a computer. We just checked out of the hotel but they let me use their guest computer in the lobby to post this, after our checkout. Of course, that means that there is no way to show you photos on my own computer right now.

We are of course having the time of our lives. This is our third Ukefest in Indianapolis, plus we went to the Pocanos last year, so we are now surrounded with folks we know and love. What a wonderful way to spend a weekend!

I took a lot of photos, and friends consented to take photos of us the two times we performed for crowds. I promise a good handful of those photos when I can get to my own laptop!

Meanwhile, rest assured that Indianapolis is the best of cities. I love cities, I collect them. The roughest part of Indy is driving, because there are many one-way streets and huge buildings that take up many city blocks which means the logical through-street detours you around and it’s easy to get lost. Add that to several diagonal roads which are hard to find until you are nearly past them, and driving is a challenge. But the people are friendly, the weather has been rain-free, we have found great food for dinner each night, the locals have gone out of their way to make us happy and welcomed.

Of course, we are here for music. And that has also been wonderful. We’ve had many grand jam sessions, we’ve watched some amazing performaces, we were allowed to perform on the same stage with those great performers, and we found our way to a few smaller stages including open mic where we were “discovered” two years ago ourselves. Our friends from the Detroit-area Uke club played, and some excellent individual musicians.

And hula! Joyce Flaugher is a great hula teacher who can get a lot of information across in a short time. I studied with her one hour each day, on Fri/Sat. On Saturday afternoon we performed at the Open Mic and it went pretty well. It was well-received by the audience, which was a nice plus.

Off to eat breakfast with the group. The Keystrummers and their families have been the best hosts, they made the whole thing happen and very smoothly at that! Now we go to breakfast at Shapiro’s Deli, where we can chat and not worry about deadlines and tasks. It is the best of ways to end a weekend.

Photos as soon as I return to the laptop. I hope you all also have a good weekend.

It’s Here!

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

CD'sAt 10:00am, there was a knock at the door. It was the UPS man, with a box of 100 CD’s. Not any CD, but The Fabulous Heftones, In the Garden!

We leave soon for Midwest Ukefest and now we’ll have a box of our CDs with us. I’m very excited!

CD'sThis CD was my dream for several years. I’ve been collecting songs about flowers and gardents, rainbows and birds, ever since I realized there actually were a good number of them to collect. The 1920s didn’t sing much about their angst, they seemed instead to try to sing it away in silly and fluffy little songs with a cheerful lilt. I love that!

Brian has put together a preliminary web page for the CD if you would like a peek. If you scroll down, under “Notes from Lynn” you can read the liner notes (or at least most of them).

In the Garden CDThis is our first CD that uses music that is still under copyright protection. In fact, only April Showers is from 1921 and thus not under copyright jurisdiction in the USA. Therefore we can not put up lyrics and full downloads for the full CD as we have with our previous works.

However, Brian has put up a full downloadable audio version of April Showers in MP3 or OGG formats, and also made a page for the song, which shows a scan of the sheet music (complete with photo of Al Jolson, one of the biggest stars of the era). He includes words and chords for this song, as well. Go, Brian!

Well, now I think I have to actually go pack the car so we can get ourselves to Indianapolis for a 6pm concert. Pops Bayless and Mysterious John, also known as “Shorty Long,” are doing a concert at the Indiana State Museum, which will be followed by a social event at a vintage 1920s bowling alley called Action Duckpin Bowl.

From there it just gets more fun. Friday and Saturday there are workshops to attend (Brian teaches one on fingerpicking on Saturday morning, I’ll be there as well) plus open mic shows and vendors. As always, there will be jamming, musicians playing anywhere they can stop. There will be hula class, one of my favorite things each year.

(I had to give up on the knitted grass skirt, and I’m bummed about that… it was looking great but I just did not have enough time to do personal knitting and it’s 3/4 done, which is a too-short micro-mini to be decent for wear. It will have to wait for another Ukefest.)

But I’d rather give up on the skirt and have the CD!!! Indianapolis, here we come!

Rosa Parks, May She Rest in Peace

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

Rosa Parks is gone. Right now I can find no words. Just big, wet tears and sobs…
yet perhaps that is the highest tribute I can pay.

What a woman. She’s not really gone, is she? She truly lives on…
but I’m still sad.

Threadbear Upcoming Event

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

This weekend, I’m going to Midwest Ukefest in Indianapolis. If I were not going there, I’d be spending my time at Threadbear Fiberarts in Lansing, Michigan (my home town). This is what Rob wrote last Wednesday:

…next weekend (some are calling it “Hallowe’en weekend) we’re gonna have a little fun!

We’ll have a weekend of events and special goings-on next Friday (October 28th) through Sunday (the 30th), including a special market area on Saturday. The market area will include outside folks with ancillary goods. What that means is we’ll have fiber-related and fun-filled items available through the actual artist folks….everything from hand-made soaps (from Xscentrics), as well as alpaca related goods and finished items (from a local grower). More details next will be in next week’s note, but plan to come by all next weekend and expecially next Saturday for a day (or three) of fun and fall!

I was invited to come and sell my handpainted yarns and buttons. I’ll be singing instead. But it sounds like great fun. I expect another notice with more details but I may not have time to post it. If you want your very own weekly newsletter from Rob, send him an email requesting it, at Rob AT Threadbearfiberarts.com

It is sure to be a good time. Anything at Threadbear turns into a party, a happening! Don’t miss it. Call a friend or three, fill up the minivan, and spend a weekend with other fiber fanatics… OK?

No, he didn’t pay me for this advertisement. But I told you before, I adore all my yarn shops and today is Threadbear’s turn for some press time.

Lansing History

Monday, October 24th, 2005

A few weekends ago I was downtown Lansing at the LCC (Lansing Community College) campus on a sunny Saturday. I took a few larger-than-usual photos that day.

These photos are on Capitol Avenue, literally a block or two from the State Capitol of Michigan. The building was built in 1891, a very old building for this part of the country. It was renovated by LCC sometime after they purchased it, in the last half of the 1900s.
This building is only part of the beautiful proof of the fine design work of architect Darius Moon, who was perhaps the most prominent Lansing-area architect of that time (at least he is the only one that keeps coming up when I pay attention to local buildings). When I lived in Williamston, there was a wonderful Darius Moon house near the railroad tracks, with the best porch railing I’ve ever seen.

Here is a side view of the house and its historical marker, and a detail of the fine woodwork above the front door.

Classes at Yarn Garden

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

classSaturday I taught three ladies how to knit toe-up socks at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan. Charlotte is a beautiful, old small city and the folks are friendly and warm. The shop used to be a tiny hallway but several years ago they moved down the street, right across from the historical courthouse, into a gorgeous old building. The front room is mostly yarn, the back room is yarn and a pleasant table for classes, and the “back yard” includes a wonderful garden where Kim (the owner) and I sat one sunny spring day knitting together.

Old Courthouse in Charlotte, MichiganThe students I had were fun folks! Minda came from Lansing, Joyce came from Charlotte and Annette from another lovely small old city nearby. We had a great time. Experience level went from Joyce’s many top down pairs including argyles, to Annette’s first experience with double-pointed needled (DPNs). They all did well.

hat by LynnHAfter class got out, I went for a little walk in the downtown Charlotte area. I took the photo of the old courthouse from the sidewalk just in front of Kim’s shop. This town makes Autumn look as good as it gets!

And I made sure to stop at Sharon’s Cafe’. I love that place… it was hopping for Saturday Dinnertime, folks of all ages ordering old fashioned goods. And pie. I got Brian some apple pie. He loves pie and I love getting it for him… and at Sharon’s they make it from scratch. I love to support businesses who go the extra mile to do things well!

And the hat? It’s the prototype for my “Simple Fairisle Hat” that I’m teaching (at Yarn Garden again) on Wednesdays, 11-2pm November 9 and 23. It is related in motif to my Heritage Heirloom socks. This hat has merely 6 rows of two-color knitting, but a lot of “Pow” for the small bit of effort. I’m very pleased with this one! It will be a pattern for sale someday, but I want to run it through the class first. I learn about how to word things better, when I work with students.

Photos: 1) Class after Joyce left. Me, Annette, and Minda’s ear and sock; 2) Charlotte Historical Courthouse; 3) Hat sample for November class.

Happy CityKid Knitted a Belt

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

On Thursday, one of my new knitters brought me her project. It had started out as a wristband but when she had knit a while she decided she did not want to stop. She thought maybe she’d like a headband. OK, go for it, I said!

So the next day here she was with her project, she had knit until her smallish ball of yarn had no more left to give her. It was too long even for a headband. It looked to me like a very short belt. It’s a pastel rainbow, just beautiful in garter fabric (5 stitches wide).

So I taught her how to bind off and she learned how to make fringe (with yarn I happened to still have in the room, which matched her knitting yarn perfectly). The fringe made it just long enough to truly work great as a belt.

And doesn’t she look beautiful and happy? I’m sure you can see why I love teaching these kids!!!

A Quotation

Friday, October 21st, 2005

My sister-in-law, Diana, wrote with a quotation today:

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the wind longs to play with your hair.
         – Kahlil Gibran

Learning to go barefoot again was a big part of shedding my “old” life and becoming LynnH the artist (the person I am now, a significantly more authentic self). I had a wonderful boss/friend in the early 1990s, during my divorce, who believed strongly that connecting our bare feet with the earth could help us balance out our energy. I was very unbalanced and uptight after years of trying to make significant others and “the neighbors” happy.

I was trying to learn who I was. He really encouraged me to go barefoot and reconnect with things outside myself that were nature-based rather than social/culture-based. It helped me. I needed to see myself as part of the earth and not just an unacceptable square peg around round folks who fit round holes.

I remember the first day I noticed a breeze on my skin. I was sitting on a curb somewhere and it was peaceful, and I felt the breeze push my hair a little, brush my cheek a little. I realized that I’d been missing that part of the world around me for years.

Waking up took me a long time, but this quotation Diana sent reminded me of that part of the journey. I’ll never be a really big nature fan, I get sick (allergies) when I’ve been outside too long. Yet I do love walking, and in my neighborhood sometimes an early afternoon walk around the block can be quiet and peaceful. It can help me recharge my batteries for many more hours being a social butterfly. It’s all about balance, isn’t it?

Photo: Clouds late September this year. The clouds have been magnificent lately. During winter, we often get total cloudcover for days on end… I tend to dismiss all clouds because of that. Not this fall! Breathtaking! Notice all the colors… the top cloud has plum-red shadows, the bottom one blue-purple. Fabulous.

Local People and Events

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

Calamity JaneThere is much locally to talk about today. Last Saturday we went to Altu’s for music and dinner, and the fabulous Jen Sygit and Laura Bates (known together as the act “Calamity Jane”) played great music and sang gorgeous harmonies. It was wonderful.

Speaking of Altu’s, she has a coupon in the City Pulse local free newspaper this week (Wednesday to Wednesday). It’s inside the back cover, at the bottom. Cut it out and get a deal while joining the best scene in town and eating food as good as it gets.

Doug BerchAnd speaking of City Pulse, they have a nice article on Jen Sygit in the current issue as well. She’s such a talented young singer/songwriter, and a cool person, I’m delighted she’s getting all this press! Go, Jen!

Doug Berch is playing at Altu’s this coming Saturday, from 6:30-8:30. He plays originals on the Hammered Dulcimer and traditional tunes on other fascinating instruments if we’re lucky as well. He’s a dear friend and a wonderful musician. There is sure to be a loyal group of our own friends there this Saturday for that.

NylaOn Friday (today, perhaps, depending on when you are reading this), my friend Nyla is dancing at the Aladdin’s restaurant in Target Plaza (between Marshalls and Pier One) near the Meridian Mall. Shows at 6:30 and 8:00 for about 20-30 minutes.

On Saturday, I’m teaching a mini-toe-up-sock class at Yarn Garden in Charlotte. It is definitely a “go” so you can even just show up and join in the fun, though I’d love an email letting me know you’re coming if you have time.

First-Time Toe-Up sock by LynnHIncluded in the toe-up Saturday class is a copy of my First-Time Toe-Up Socks pattern. In order to do this design in one session, we will work in small numbers of stitches. You can either make a cute little ornamental sock in sockyarn or you can start a bulky yarn slipper version for yourself. The class is 10am to 4:30pm.

Photos: Calamity Jane last weekend at Altu’s (Jen and Laura), Doug Berch, Nyla in a previous performance at Aladdin’s, First-Time Toe-Up Sock in a bulky slipper style.

Much Better!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

FamilyI took good care of my inner 13 year old yesterday and I feel much more like my normal adult self today. It was wonderful seeing my family again. We’re small but we’ve been through much together and it has made us well-connected.

It’s still chilly, with a frost warning tonight. I am still feeling cold, but a bit less grumpy about it, anyway. My tomato plant has over 20 tomatoes on it, many of them about full-sized. They are all green but I really want to give them as much of a chance to grow as possible. I put the plant on the landing in a protected corner (two walls of our house protect it) and I covered it with a plastic garbage bag for the night.

I tell you what, I’m almost willing to bring that plant inside under my natural lights in the dye studio, and let the fruit happen slowly where the frost won’t ruin it. I have not had an indoor plant in at least a dozen years… the mildew that grows in the soil is a problem for me. But I am sad to be so close to a second harvest and lose the fruit. For now, the plant is covered for the night.

treesToday I also tried out sitting on the heat vent, with our new furnace. It is not ***hot*** like the old one was, so it took me longer to warm up my feet, but once I had been there a while I did not bake and perspire, I just was pleasantly warm. This probably will work out, after all. And an efficient furnace will be a very good thing this winter, with the rising fuel costs.

The cold snap in the last few days has brought a few more colors to the trees. I notice it most when driving the highway to the west side (where Threadbear and Little Red Schoolhouse are), so the scenery is not optimal but the colors seem to be. Very nice.

woolWednesdays I often meet with OfficiallyaKnitter and I finally got a photo of the rovings she dyed with Kool Aid about a month ago. We’re working on her vest at 3.25 st/in. Rae and I played around with possibilities, and Max wrote with some suggestions (so did someone else whose email I can not find right now). She likes to do without a lot of pattern-following so lots of “at the same time” was not where we wanted to go. She is getting gorgeous garter fabric when she swatches.

So we’re considering knitting the bodice of the Sally Melville Einstein Jacket, with a little band at the bottom rather than a knee-length coat section. Maybe we’d make bands around the armholes rather than sleeves, and maybe she could knit a collar. She’s considering contrasting yarn for the arm and neck bands if we are short yarn.

kids with knittingSo I’m not sure how to figure this out. You helpful souls out there… I have her gauge swatch. I figure I can figure out how many square inches the swatch is, then rip it out and measure how many yards of fabric it took to make the swatch? Or shall I figure it by how many stitches, and figure out how many inches of yarn per stitch?

How would ***you*** figure out whether she has enough yarn for this project? I will have enough challenge figuring out how many inches it will be with the little band versus the lower body panels. She is willing to get a contrast yarn if necessary, but I am not sure if she needs any. Any advice would be more than welcome.

Last but not least, I had a good day with CityKidz Knit! There were about a half dozen kids with me today (most left before I took the photo). The best story, though, is that I had a girl two weeks ago who cried because she didn’t learn to knit easily. (She tried one stitch and said it was too hard, poor thing, she was over-trying and it made things worse.) Last week, she came back and left with a smile on her face. Today she finished her wristband and took a new one home to practice upon. I’m so glad her parents kept her coming back long enough to catch on.

Photos: 1) My Family at our early Thanksgiving… I’m very thankful for them (and for Fred, who took the photo), 2)) Photo of beautiful color on side of Interstate Highway 496 in downtown Lansing, 3) Kool-Aid Dyed rovings, 4) Two girls from Wednesday’s CityKidz Knit! program with their completed wristbands.

Shakin’ off the Blues

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

autumnEver since the weather turned chilly, I’ve been in a funk. It is not terminal, and I do pop out of it here and there, but late October is perhaps my worst time allergy-wise, and on top of that, my body does not deal with cold well at all. I start to dread snow, and we have not even had a hard frost.

I have been like a toddler who needs a nap, and I’m not liking myself much in this state. At least as an adult, I can see the mood and take a few actions toward turning the mood around.

Yesterday, I had the best of attitude adjustments when I met the lovely and talented Sharon P of KnitKnacks, for tea at the wonderful Gone Wired Cybercafe. We knit and talked and smiled and laughed, and petted each others’ knitting. She is a sunbeam in my life!

Today I had a small gift of a morning off. I had a class which cancelled at last minute. This meant I got to sleep longer, at least theoretically. And that meant that I didn’t have to stay up significantly past midnight making a pumpkin pie.

autumnYou see, my family is having Thanksgiving today. Eric and I both usually have Tuesdays off, and Mom travels a lot, and this just ended up being the best time for us to get together. So now I can start my day making pie. I’m not really alert for several hours after I wake up, in general, but I’ve made enough of this particular pie that I can do it in a half-zombie state, I’m sure.

Then my plan is to go for a walk. While I’m home working I decided to play some James Taylor. He always makes me feel calmer inside when I’m feeling rough. And then a walk will be good, since it’s sunny and the colors are starting to show. I think we won’t have much real color this year. There are huge areas where everything is still green, and yet some trees are losing leaves before they even turn. Yet a walk in sunshine, even with just a bit of color, will be just the ticket to make me smile again.

autumnI went out several days ago and took photos a few blocks away behind our house, and took some photos. The first one here is facing west, lots of color. The second is from the same general vantage point, but looking mostly east. No color at all! Same day, same spot. And more areas look like the second photo this year, than the first.

autumnBut a walk in the sun will be good for me. I can take my knitting with me and I’ll be happier, for sure. I’m knitting on another sample mitten for my “Design Your Own Colorful Mittens” class at Threadbear starting tomorrow, 11-1:30 for 2 (or 3, optionally if the students want more time) weeks. Anyone else want to join us? I’m excited about the class. I have not done enough with colorful knitting lately, mostly I’ve knit with one color or at best stripes. This one is colorwork in the “stranded” or “fairisle” technique. It’s really relaxing and so satisfying!

Off to make pie, listen to Sweet Baby James (who is no longer a baby but a calming adult presence) and then walk. Then a long bubble bath and I think I’ll be in a reasonable mood for seeing my precious family for Thanksgiving Dinner. I will end the day with Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild, as well. It’s bound to turn around, don’t you think?

Photos: 1) View West with color, 2) View east with green only, 3) autumn leaf on someone else’s groomed green lawn, 4) our house with maple tree in front turning color. This tree is usually one of the most electric-orange trees in the neighborhood. I took a photo 2 years ago of the same tree, same week of the month, and you can see it was much more orange that year.

Ukulele Art /Reclaimed Memories

Monday, October 17th, 2005

I was listening to the streaming audio for the Flaming Ukulele Radio Hour, and reading the Naked Uke newsletter (it’s a Yahoo group run by DJ Uke Jackson), and I read about this:


The artist goes to homes/buildings that are ready to be demolished, finds building materials/wood from the home, and makes ukuleles from the resulting materials. They are really beautiful, as well as touching mementos.

The ukes go to the former occupants of the building that has been taken down. In one case, it was a demolished school and he used the music room blackboard as the body of the Uke. Wonderful.

By the way, I loved the Flaming Ukulele Radio Hour so much this time that I listened to the whole thing twice. So fun! Consider it as good entertainment while dealing with your emails today!

Apples Before: Apples After

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

Saturday I went to visit Altu at her restaurant before it opened. We sat outdoors in the sun (we were protected from wind so it felt lovely and warm) and chatted.

Next to the parking lot is an apple tree. It was clearly planted as a decoration, and the owners have no interest in the fruit. it’s an old fashioned fruit, smaller apples and mostly green even when ripe. They taste wonderful, they are crisp and not too tart, not too sweet.

While we were talking, we would occasionally hear an apple hit the pavement. Finally we could not stand to see the good food go to waste any longer. She got out her ladder and steadied it, and I climbed up and picked as many apples as I could reach. They were so ripe that I’d reach out to pick one, and two would just fall before I could even get to them.

I ended up with a small bucket, partly full, of homely little organic apples. And I went home, supposedly to work. I did do some work. And I also baked two apple crisps, one for me and one for Altu. I started with a recipe my family has enjoyed for years, but I changed almost every ingredient except the apples.

It was really good.