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Archive for December, 2005

Sara’s First Socks!

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

Sara and SocksHappy me! “My Sara” has finished her first pair of socks. She actually finished them Thursday night while we were together celebrating the end of her school term and holidays. She my First-Time Toe-Up Socks pattern with my teaching assistance, and Naturally 10-ply washable merino (worsted weight) from Rae’s.

This picture was taken in very low-light conditions at Starbucks in East Lansing on Grand River Avenue. They are nearly electric purple, although you can’t see that here.

As soon as we finished our knitting and our drinks, we ran over to Rae’s just in time before she closed, to buy Sara more yarn for her next pair. They will be Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran yarn (55% merino wool, 35% microfiber, 10% cashmere, constructed like an I-cord tube, which washes in the machine beautifully). Since Sara likes footies, we can afford to get her thicker luxury yarns and not have to buy five balls to make a pair.

It’s important that she have non-scratchy, washable yarns. She is a bit surprised how many wools are soft enough. Her skin is very sensitive but her feet can handle good wools. (Her favorite pair is my Sherbet Socks, knit from solid Regia wool/nylon sockyarn.) Her mom is not so lucky.

Sara’s mom can detect 10% of soft wool in a fabric without being told anything about the fiber content, she truly is highly allergic. But Sara just needs it to be very high quality soft wool, and she often finds that superwash wool feels soft to her skin.

I’m proud of this kid! She’s growing up so nicely! Sara’s mom and I were in first grade together, and now Sara is in her second year of college. Time flies, huh? Here she has turned out to be a very enjoyable companion, and she knits!

Tonight for the holiday, we’re going to a potluck and Contra Dance where Brian’s band, Scarlet Runner Stringband, is playing the first set of dances. It’s been a while since we’ve gone to a dance like this for New Year’s Eve, and I’m pleased they are doing one in Lansing again. It takes a lot of planning to make one of these happen, I think there are 3 bands playing.

My friends Ulyana and Sharon P/Knitknacks will surely be there, and often there is a small group of knitters who gather on the sidelines and watch others dance. I honestly would rather knit than dance but I’ll likely do a little of both.

The crowd I’ll be with tonight is a wonderful crowd. I can’t think of any place I would rather be. Last year I was with Altu and friends in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, and it was very enjoyable and very special… but being with this huge group of comrades, live music, dancing, good food and knitting… well, how can anyone think there is something better?

I need to thank everyone out there for giving me a great year. My students and the yarn shops where I work, make my life a wonderful experience. Thanks to (in alphabetical order): Foster Community Center (Gloria, Susan, Emily, Mike and Glen), Heritage Spinning (Joan and Deb), Little Red Schoolhouse Yarns (Linda), Rae’s Yarn Boutique (Rae, Elise and the family), Threadbear Fiberarts (Rob and Matt and the gang), and Yarn Garden of Charlotte (Kim and friends). You guys make my life fabulous and I don’t take you for granted!

I can not tell you how different my life is now from how it was, and not all that long ago. I spent so many years (particularly the 1980s) in almost a survival-instinct mode, it was like my inner self was not there. Last night Edna asked (at an Abbott Brothers’ jam session) if I sang before I knew Brian. Well, I sang all the way through my childhood, good times and bad. And I was a music/voice major in college for 2 years.

But during the hardest years of my life, I stopped playing guitar and I stopped dancing, and I rarely sang unless I was alone doing chores. For this woman, the divorce was an alarm clock waking me up again. It was a huge mourning process, grieving the dreams I’d held dear. The actual loss was not as big as the loss of what I had thought might be.

But now I’ve had 15 years to regroup and flower. I remember who I am, I sing, dance, and am a professional artist. And I share my life with a man who truly treats me like I’m a prize (even though I know that on some days that is emphatically not true). I feel like Cinderella, except my life is much more real and much more full of hands-on, gritty stuff. The change from before to after, though? It’s night and day, the difference. And you beloved readers are part of that turnaround. It’s a good life.

May you (and your loved ones) all have a sefe, happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Practicing a Good Attitude

Friday, December 30th, 2005

northern MichiganDo you know the song with the lyric: “…I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do…”???

Nairobi National ParkWell, I’d be someone where that saying applies. In fact, it’s sort of amazing how often I moan about small things. I’m happily married (more than nine years) to Brian, after many years of unhappiness in personal relationships. I’m mostly healthy and none of my aches and pains are anything near life-threatening. I had a miracle last year and got to go to Africa for five weeks. I’ve been to many more places on this earth than I ever imagined possible, even though I live a fairly simple life.

sunset over Mt. Hope Cemetery, LansingI have great friends. I do something I passionately love for my work… actually many things I love comprise my “living.” I am happily childless but am surrounded by wonderful children from other houses than my own, who really make my life better. I have a house that is adorable but not too big, in a city that is friendly especially to creative souls.

CityKidz Knit!My city has more yarn shops within an hour and a half than I can possibly have found and visited, and I work in five of them. I sing, I dance, I dye yarn, I work with polymer clay, I teach knitting (and computers)… all of which I enjoy. And I get along well with my Mother and my brother (the two other people I grew up with), their partners, and my husband’s large family as well.

garden one block from my city homeI have so much going right for me. But complain, I do.

I create my own web pages in HTML code, using a text editor geared toward web page creation. I’ve used several editors over the years, and I like the simpler ones best. My favorite, the one I’m using again, is called Arachnophilia. (I use an old Windows version, 4.0, copyright 1996-2000, and it is still wonderful, without too many bells and whistles.) This program is CareWare, thus the author does not want *money* in thanks for having written this wonderful product that makes my life very much better.

Central Park, NYCWhen I start the Arachnophilia program, if I click Help/About, it brings up a box with a button saying “Explain CareWare.” If you click it, there is a bit of an essay about the author’s take on CareWare, basically the software is his gift to anyone who wants to use it, but with a request that costs nothing. Oh, what a lovely bunch of ideas he discusses (you can read the full text here)… but the part that stands out in relation to this column I am writing today is this (bold emphasis is his, not mine):

To own Arachnophilia, I ask that you stop whining about how hard your life is, at least for a while. When Americans whine, nearly everybody else in the world laughs. We have so much, and yet we manage to:

· Overlook great examples of beauty around us,
· Miss our most important opportunities,
· Manage to make ourselves miserable by expecting something even better to come along.

Every time we whine about how tough we have it, apart from the fact that we look ridiculous, we make it harder for people around us to appreciate how much we have. We encourage people to overlook the things we do have, the gifts of man and nature. We provide a context to dismiss everything as not good enough, to be miserable in the midst of plenty.

Don’t get the wrong impression — many things are unjust, things that should be struggled against until they are made right. My complaint is with people who can’t find even one thing to take joy in, to appreciate. These people not only make themselves miserable, but they infect others with the attitude that the world should right itself, by itself, before they will take simple pleasure in anything.

So here is my deal: stop whining for an hour, a day, a week, your choice, and you will have earned your copy of Arachnophilia. Say encouraging words to young people, make them feel welcome on the planet Earth (many do not). Show by example that we don’t need all we have in order to be happy and productive.

Paul Lutus, Port Hadlock, WA

My gardenAnd with that, my dear blog readers, I am committing to you that I will do my best for 24 hours, starting now, to not complain. I have a feeling that it will be very, very difficult. And that is incredibly sad to me, that I’ve become such a complainer. Yes, I write an uplifting blog entry almost every day. I do my best to keep this column positive. But in my life I am not so selective, and I’m sort of embarrassed by myself. So I will spend a day paying attention. It is a good day for this, because I’ll be with Brian’s family for part of it and probably Abbott Brothers’ band for another part. It will benefit others if I can stick to my resolve and keep negative thoughts to myself.

Jam at WheatlandI’ll report back on what I learned about myself in the process. I’m ready to be different in this area, my friends. Would you dare/care to join me?

I took all these beautiful/happy photos in the last year, and they all give me reason to be grateful. 1) Lake in the Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan, May 2005. 2) Nairobi National Park, Kenya, December 2004. 3) Sunset over Mt. Hope Cemetery, Fall 2005, Lansing, Michigan. 4) CityKidz Knit! after dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid drink mix, Spring 2005 (my absolute favorite picture ever taken of me, it’s so right and so illustrative of what is best in my life). 5) City garden between sidewalk and curb, one block from my home, early Summer, 2005. 6) Central Park, New York City, August 2005. 7) Nearly-wild perennial flower garden by my garage, Summer 2005. 8) Jam Session, Wheatland Music Festival, September 2005.

Hoarding – “Beauty is Twice Beauty…”

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

On Tuesday, when my helper was with me, she was winding yarn and I was making buttons for my upcoming hat kits. I found myself looking at the bits of clay in front of me, afraid to “use up” this or that color (I often custom-blend colors and it takes time to get something like it again).

Sock pair 98 by LynnHI realize that one of my largest character traits is that I’m afraid to run out of something. I’m forever hoarding things, afraid to use up the last bit. I keep all the bits of sockyarn left from handknitting socks. Never mind that when I darn socks, I really love darning them with yarn that doesn’t match the original fabric at all!

I keep foods until they dry out or go stale. I keep special teas for “special” until they have lost their potency. I remember the project I had in mind for every single skein of yarn in the house, and I feel disloyal if I want to change my mind and use that skein for some other newer idea.

I keep favorite clothing in my closet, long after it’s no longer favorite. I keep things that are worn out, not my style anymore, not my lifestyle anymore. Why do I have several suits, complete with structured jackets, in the closet? The last job I had requiring a skirt each day was in 1999, and even then I usually wore a skirt and sweater to that job rather than a jacket.

And when I admit that the turtleneck is worn out on the edges and must be removed from the closet, why is it that I can’t throw it away? I cut it into small squares as little rags, which I can use instead of paper towels occasionally. They are nice rags but I just find it impossible to throw things away if there is ANY life left in them at all.

I know I’m not crazy in the sense that it keeps me from functioning, but this “saving for later” thing is not good for me. I need to use up the yarn, the food, the tea… I need to give or throw clothes I don’t wear, or perhaps felt and sew old wool clothing.

So my first assignment to myself is to go back to that small pile of mixed colors of clay on the table, and use it all up. All of it! It’s really hard for me to do, but I’ve done hard tasks before that were less beneficial to me.

Now if I can only find time to make more buttons. Probably it will be on Saturday when my helper comes for one more session.

Interesting… I was just today thinking of this poem (it follows my writing here), and went looking for it on the Internet. Funny how he (Pablo Neruda) talks about his instinct to take a precious item (a gift of handknit socks) and treat it as if it can’t be used in the way it was designed to be used. What a perfect theme poem for the day!

Ode to My Socks
by Pablo Neruda (translated by Robert Bly)

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.

I don’t know why, but that moral always brings me to tears. Twice beauty, indeed. There may be nothing more beautiful, in my mind, than a gift of handknit socks!

Blessings to you all this holiday season. Happiness, prosperity, health, all things good to you…

Photo today is my sock pair 98, finished over a year ago, November 28 of 2004. That was the day before I left for Africa, and somehow I’ve never had a photo of them, never showed them here. They are constructed top down with rolled stockinette cuff and afterthought heel.

Funny, I found them in a bag maybe 6 months ago and started wearing them. They are made of Heirloom 8 ply yarn (DK weight) from Australia, are machine wash/dry, and have been worn about once a week for 6 months. I just took the photo today. Great yarn, huh?

End-of-Wednesday Update

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

Days don’t always go as planned, but sometimes they unfold just fine on their own!

I taught my private student on the west side of town, which went very nicely… then I had time to go to Threadbear which is close to her apartment. Too fun! I haven’t been there nearly enough lately, and I had an hour today.

I saw a bunch of folks who work there and who I really love spending time with. I saw Tenna and Linda from a spinning group I visited once, and who I run into time and again at fibery places. I saw my dear dear friend Sharon P/Knitknacks. I chatted with other folks whose faces are comforting and familiar but for some reason whose names I don’t recall right this minute. It was a wonderful, social butterfly hour and I loved every second.

yarnI got to show and tell my completed scribble lace and half-knit Bloom shawl. Oohs and aahs all around! I bought a ball of some wonderful brushed mohair that has been screaming at me from clear across town, that it wants to be *my* Bloom shawl. (I mean, this yarn is almost identical to the yarn in my absolutely-favorite all-time best sweater.)

You see, it’s a shame but the Bloom shawl I’m knitting now… it’s beautiful and soft and warm and lovely, but (shhh, don’t tell) it’s not bright enough for me. The colors range from dark cobalt to dark magenta, sometimes medium magenta, a touch (but not enough) of some aqua/turquoise, and (gasp) some brown.

It is very pretty, great yarn, great pattern, but brown? How did I think I could keep that for my own? I was in love with the cobalt and magenta and turquoise, but they are all in the wrong proportions I think. I’m still excited to be knitting it so I’ll plug ahead and then see what to do next.

It is starting to whisper to me that it wants to live somewhere other than my house and I think I know what it is getting ready to say. However, cast on around 2:30pm on Monday and I’m literally half way through the knitting (this speed pleases me greatly). I’m not doing an edging on it, so this will be a less-than-a-week project. Gotta love that.

The Noro Blossom yarn I’m using is 40gm skeins for $10 a piece. It called for 5 skeins, but it was merely 3 rows short of half a shawl when I ran out of the second skein. Um, guess I will bind off 3 rows too soon! You can not tell at all. So I’ll do the other side until two skeins are used up, and return one skein. That takes it into a more reasonable price for a gift knit, too.

The brushed mohair (Filatura Di Crosa Multicolor, see photo) changes color very slowly, similar to the Noro yarns. It has a larger yarn core than most brushed mohairs… though it seems a little less fuzzy than some other mohairs. The great news? It’s $11.50 a 50gm ball and it has 198 yards per ball! Because of the fuzziness/brushed texture, I’m fairly confident I’ll like it at the huge gauge specified for this shawl (size 15 needles). I only bought one ball, thinking I’d swatch first, but looks like I’m going to need only 2 balls for my Bloom. Score!!!

(OK, Matt thinks I may need a knit-along strand with this yarn on size 15’s. We’ll deal with that if the test ball doesn’t look as good as I expect, when the swatch is blocked. I bet if he *is* right, that I can find a decent knit along in my stash.)

OK, so then I went to Foster Center where all my CityKidz knitters were apparently on vacation. I sat alone knitting, so it could be worse. Tomorrow we’ll try to Kool-Aid dye again. If nobody comes tomorrow, I’ll just plan to do the dyeing next week instead. I have not had an empty knitting classroom in what seems like forever. It was very odd.

After Foster Center I popped over the 5 blocks or so to Rae’s Yarn Boutique. She just sent out her class schedules last night, so I happened to be there just as people were coming in asking about the classes, several of which are mine. I met Carol, Becky, Michele and Sarah (I hope I spelled everyone’s name right). We chatted toe up socks, afterthought/ peasant/ replaceable heels, working with handspun yarns, felting, Watercolor bags, you name it. Great fun.

And after closing time, I got to check out Elise’s shadow knit shawl, on tiny needles in tiny wooly yarn, very much like the one I plan to knit and already have the yarn for. (After I do the fast and furious second Bloom shawl, right?) And she’s got the most amazing pair of gloves she’s making for her beloved. They are beautiful and incredibly creatively well-crafted, with adjustments that will fit him just perfectly. How kind and sweet this gift will be.

I went home intending to dye wool in the basement. However, for some reason I feel really dragged out… not flu but it’s as if I ate something I was quite allergic to and I’m slowing to a halt. A nap sounds better than anything else in the world! So instead of dyeing, I’m at the computer, drinking tea. I’ll play a few tunes with Brian and go to bed early. Tomorrow is another day, right?

Pluggin’ Away

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

CityKidzWowie, sometimes I get really clear about how labor-intensive my work is. Yesterday my helper and I worked for five hours, she was winding yarn and I was making polymer clay buttons among other things. We got a lot accomplished, but there is so much left to do, it’s daunting.

I’m excited because we got my new sockyarn (fingering weight, 80% wool/ 20% nylon) made up into skeins. I think we have only 11 skeins (100gm, enough for a pair of socks) so it no doubt will go quickly… now the question is what colors shall I place on this precious cargo? It’s exciting.

CityKidzI’ve got 3 testers now on the button-top hat, I’m grateful because each seems to offer a different vantage point and that’s exactly what I need. Looks like I’ll have some hat kits in the next batch of for-sale merchandise, which will be next week now the way the workflow looks. My helper is coming again on Saturday for a few hours before holiday festivities start. Hopefully I’ll have a lot of dyed yarns for her to skein up for sale at that time.

We’ve got several new dyed batches of Cushy ColorSport (DK), this time in smaller quantities rather than sweater quantities. And another washable DK in a gorgeous hot pink/magenta/purple colorway, a yarn I’ve never tried before. Very soft, less bouncy than the Cushy Colorsport but very nice on its own merits. I’ve done some ColorSport in something-like-solids (actually several colors of dye are applied to give interest, but one color is what the eye sees), because I’m always just amazed at how fast those colorways sell. I guess if you like cables or lace, or other textures, a colorway that is primarily one color will show off the detailed knitting work you’ve done.

CityKidzIn addition to the yarns, I’ve handpainted several angora berets, and those are really wonderful so they will be on the sale pages next week. I’m also preparing to handpaint a few commercially-produced sweaters, we’ll see how that goes.

And the buttons! Woohoo, they are such fun.

In knitting news, I’m making great progress on the bloom shawl. A friend called last night, and my phone has a cord so I had to sit still as we chatted for perhaps an hour. I now have knit 7+ sections out of the 18 it will eventually sport. I’m already envisioning this shawl in a fuzzy mohair. I remember seeing a color-changing mohair at Threadbear in several wonderful colorways, I may have to think about that option because the shawl appears extremely wearable. It just appears that it will sit on the shoulders without trying to fall off, a great design.

Wednesday and Thursday this week, I’ll be dyeing yarn with Kool Aid at CityKidz Knit! program at Foster Community Center. It should be great fun, it always is. I’m not sure how many kids I’ll have. Sometimes I end up with kids I’ve never met before, on these holiday break weeks. We’ll see what happens, one moment at a time here.

Off to work.

Photos: 1&2) These I took in early December and misplaced in the conversion to my new hard drive. Whew, found ’em! Here’s a group of some of my regular kids (and four of their grownups, three of whom often hang out and knit with us, a real special treat). And one of my kiddos, with her first garter-stitch wristwarmer. 3) A messy pile of yarns after dyeing (somehow the colors are not right on (too dark on my screen, so just a hint of things to come), waiting for labels and good photos for the website. Waiting for more yarn buddies to join them…

Christmas and More Finished Objects

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

We had a nice, peaceful, quiet Christmas. Brian heard that Pablo’s Panaderia in Old Town would be open a few hours on Christmas, so we decided to go make him happy he’d made that decision. We went for a late breakfast, wonderful hand-squeezed orange juice and authentic Mexican breakfast (at least for Brian).

We went home and opened gifts. We believe a) that a gift that is not right, is not worth purchasing, b) crazy running around trying to find a “right” gift is not sane or worthy of the time spent on the chase, and c) that we have enough “stuff” already, that our relationship is the real gift. So we don’t fuss if we don’t find a good gift, we just enjoy one another.

This year I happened to be at Sears with Altu one day, and found a wonderful red sweater that looked just right for Brian. I also got him a turtleneck, but it turns out it’s just a bit too big so he will go back and try to trade it for something else that fits better, once the crowds have left the scene a bit. The red sweater was enough.

Brian wrapped me three presents. One was a box of excellent green tea from the asian market. He knows I like green tea and haven’t been drinking much of it lately. I’m enjoying this stuff a lot, already.

The second box was 64 Crayola crayons! Oh, my! It was so fun just to sift through, remember my favorite crayons from when I had a box of these before, and notice the new colors I’d not seen before. I like many of the new colors quite a lot. We spent some time later in the day perusing Crayola.com and reading the history of the colors they put in the box.

The third box will take me some time to work through and savor. It was a boxed set of Memphis Minnie CD’s. Oh! Yes! This woman was a wild one, and an amazing musician. One of her solos, she played the same note over and over for several measures, and it was just hot, hot, hot… one single note played just right, in just the rhythm to make you exclaim out loud! This is a keeper. I’ll enjoy working through the set while dyeing yarn this week.

As we usually do, we ate Altu’s for Christmas dinner. We always go and get food from Altu’s restaurant right before it closes, before a holiday, and then we feast. It was great.

Monday we went to a music party in Ann Arbor. The music was good, the company excellent, the food so plentiful it was almost overwhelming. Definitely worth the 2 hours in the car to go.

In knitting news: I finished my scribble lace on Christmas/Sunday. I realized that binding off would not match the cast on I’d used, so I decided to cast on the last stitches on the same needle I’d used, and graft with the thin yarn to the opposite end to make a symmetrical piece. I generally like grafting, so that was OK, but working from super-fat to super-thin yarn was more than a hassle. It turned out well, though.

It’s nearly impossible to photograph this stuff. And I’m disappointed… the 55 stitches I cast on made nearly a square item. In fact, the direction that was thinnest on the needles is widest off the needles. I may just give in and make this panel into the back-door window covering I’d thought the next scribble lace project would be. The colors look great in the kitchen, so that’s OK if I do it.

I’ll wear it around town for a while first, of course. I’m the queen of “show and tell” around here, so I’ll traipse it around to all my yarn shops where I teach, and to Foster Center, and a few other places. Then I’ll consider making it into a curtain.

And in the car to and from Ann Arbor (and a short while on the couch on Monday night), I gave in to my inspiration. I cast on and knit the beginnings of a Bloom shawl by my friend Trish Bloom.

It’s a fast knit and fun! I was worried I’d lose track of my number of stitches because you have to do short rows and wrap and turn… no trouble at all. Piece of cake. I’ve done four of the pie-shaped sections. There are 18 in all. I think this will be a fun and fast knit. And colorful! And Pretty! And warm. I’m glad I went ahead and bought the yarn when I had a little extra cash that one weekend. I’m gonna love this one!

Photos: 1) Presents from Brian. 2) Jam session at friend’s Christmas/Music party. Brian is seated in middle, in front of upright bass player, in his new red sweater. 3) Scribble lace before grafting last row. 4) Scribble lace in artful pile. 5) Beginnings of my Bloom Shawl.

Finished Objects

Monday, December 26th, 2005

sockFinally… I did a search on my computer and found the photos that were missing from the first week I had this new hard drive. I tell you, I allowed Windows XP to confuse me, until Brian encouraged me to search again. The photos were buried in a folder inside a folder inside a folder inside a folder. Right next to photos that were many years old. Really. No wonder I was confused!

So here I have proof that at least for a while, my socknitting vacation has ended. I admit, these all three are fat yarns, so they knit up pretty darned fast (and one pair was half knit from a class I taught, before I picked it back up this month).

sockFirst, pair 121. Plassard Merinos, from Threadbear. Variegated pale-to-medium aqua-blue. Toe up (same toe as my First-Time Toe-Up socks, with a Dutch heel turn), rolled stockinette cuff. Yum.

Next, pair 122. Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, from Little Red Schoolhouse. Bright yellow-green (on my screen they appear too dark). Intended as winter slipper-socks to wear over other socks and keep me warm! First-Time Toe-Up sock pattern.

sockThird, pair 123. Bingo washable merino, from Threadbear. Medium grass green. First-Time Toe-Up sock toe with Dutch heel turn. Increased after gusset decreases, for a short slouch cuff, decreased again for a short bit K3P2 rib. I used two balls of the yarn for my thin size 6 feet, and had maybe a foot of yarn left when I was done. The perfect reason to use toe up construction!

Can you see I’m on a green binge? Springlike greens grab my eye lately.

legwarmers in progressAnd here’s a progress picture of my Manos del Uruguay/Ralph Lauren sweater makeover (click link to see skirt I made from it). In this photo, the left side is an arm (raglan sleeve) which has been detached from the sweater but not touched otherwise.

The right side is a finished legwarmer. I ripped out the shoulder area until I got to the bottom of the armhole where I could knit all stitches in the round. Then I did a K2P2 rib (it’s reversible if I want to turn down the cuff later) with part of the yarn I ripped out. Voila! And at the time of this writing, both legwarmers were finished knitting. I need to work in ends, but I even wore them by tucking in the loose ends one day. Nobody could tell, trust me.

I also finished my scribble lace stole. It’s an odd thing… it was looking like a wide scarf/stole on the needles. At 55 stitches I should have figured it would be pretty wide, but I did follow the instructions for a stole in the Debbie New book.

I’ll go into details on the structure of it later, but now what I thought was the skinny direction while knitting it, actually stretches wider than the length on the needles. It’s more of a square than a rectangle.

I’ll figure out how to wear/use it best, and I need to get finished photos of that one for you. I love the fabric but the shape is different enough than I expected that I need to rethink this item. Maybe this one will be the kitchen window curtain rather than the stole, we’ll see.

Selfish Knitting Time

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

Today is a holiday that I use to express appreciation for those who make my life better. Thank you all for reading my blog. I believe that I should not merely pay attention to my loved ones in December, and I think gifts are better given without deadlines or required dates. However, it’s good in the season of short days to spread warmth and light to those we love. I really appreciate you all.

cairo skyline, Christmas 2004Oh, I love time off! I am a mean boss to myself, I rarely take time off since I work at home. I do go to lunch and tea with friends, but then I go home and frequently work till bedtime.

But this holiday I decided I’d stop working on Saturday when Brian came home from work. (He works for a retail establishment so it was late dinnertime when this happened.)

We had Indian food for dinner… dal soup from Ulyana and some leftovers from lunch with Altu on Thursday. No cooking on my part other than a microwave reheating. Love that kind of meal!

Then I decided to pick a fun selfish knitting project, and knit for me. I’m working on the scribble lace stole again. It’s so fun, and so free, and so wild! The only problem is that I have to look at every stitch. Now, I don’t do that sort of knitting often. I can knit rib or stockinette without looking at my hands for many long minutes at a time. This scribble lace would have been finished by now if I did not have to look at EVERY SINGLE STITCH. How do you guys do it, you who look at the process? I would never finish anything!

I had thought I’d do my Funnel Neck on the machine, but I had a bit of a headache and a machine project takes too much brains for me to do it without all my resources available. I just sat and alternated reading blogs and knitting a few scribble lace rows, then reading again. (Photo of Natalie Wilson’s version of Scribble lace is at Knitty, though I got my inspiration from the Debbie New book, Unexpected Knitting.)

Of course, I have other projects that also require my focus. I want to sometime finish the Lucy Neatby Equilateral vest before it’s summertime, but that may not happen. And why is it that when I’m doing this, I get the crazy notion that I should start Trish Bloom’s Bloom shawl made of Noro Blossom yarn? I have the yarn, but starting a new project that requires paying attention, is not wise at this moment.

Back to Scribble Lace. I’m planning to show off a few FO knitting photos by Monday, so come on back and see what I’ve got!

(Added 8 hours after text:) Photo today is one I took last year on Christmas morning, on my trip to Africa with my friend Altu. I was in my 19th floor room at the Cairo Marriott on the Nile River. Imagine, an open balcony on the 19th floor! In the USA, safety concerns would no doubt prohibit such an arrangement, but we really enjoyed it.

For breakfast, we sat on the balcony and ate tangerines, guavas (white ones, not pink), tea/coffee, and pastries our driver, Nabil, bought for us. Nabil was definitely the best thing about Egypt, to me.

We stayed in our room and watched TV in four different languages (lots of coverage on the tsunami), ordered room service, locked ourselves out of our room pushing the breakfast table into the hall, and enjoyed being far away from home in a warmer climate. Cairo is the second-largest city in the world, and it sure looks like it from this vantage point.

Another Hat Tester?

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

OK, I already changed my mind. I’d rather have two testers than just one on the roll-brim button hat. If you’re inclined to take me up on it, please read my December 23 post to learn about my terms. I’d like a photo within 7 days.

The hat’s a breeze to knit, really… I can knit one in two days when I’m working out of the house during the day. I’d actually love someone who does not consider themselves an expert knitter, and who will ask lots of questions.

You need to knit the sample from your stash (you keep it) with yarn that gets 5.5 stitches/inch. (That would be the DK yarn or doubled-fingering I was talking about earlier today.)

Please send me an email at Lynn@ColorJoy.com if you are interested. Thanks.

A Cool Knitting Discovery

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

Guitar Herringbone Hat by LynnHI just had to test something for someone… and came up with great news. A lot of my patterns are written for a yarn weight called DK. This yarn weight, I’m told, is the most common for sweaters in the UK. At 5.5 stitches/inch for sweaters, it’s lighter than Worsted weight (which is often 5 stitches/inch). It drapes well but is faster to knit than fingering or sport.

Well, I took two strands of Lang Jawoll fingering-weight sockyarn, and knit them together as if they were one yarn. I used the same needles I used for the DK yarn, and got the same gauge. Woohoo! More options is always good, and it seems many knitters have a lot of leftover sockyarn.

The upcoming roll-brim button hat pattern is in DK weight yarn (designed primarily for my own Cushy Colorsport Handpaint). Also my Turkish-Style Toe-Up sock, the Barberpole sock, Heritage Heirloom socks, Fast Florida Footies and Guitar Herringbone Hat are all written for DK weight yarns, which some folks tell me they have trouble finding.

(For the record, in Australia DK weight yarn is called 8ply no matter how many actual plies in the yarn.) And a few of my patterns (Wristwarmers, First-Time Toe-Up Socks) are written for any number of yarn weights, where this trick could also work.

I was going to go see my Brother today but he’s not feeling great, so I’m working. Until Brian comes home, that is. Then I’m taking off the evening, and tomorrow. Monday I’ll work in the morning and early afternoon, then we go to a music party for a while. It has been a challenge to work a fulltime schedule since about Thanksgiving (there are SO many lovely distractions), but I’m doing OK this week after all.

Much is in the works here at ColorJoy by LynnH… a few one-of-a-kind handpainted ***garments*** will be for sale in January, along with some gently-used (unpainted) extra-special garments. I’ve got new wool/nylon fingering-weight sock yarn coming for the first time, and some of my old standby Cushy ColorSport yarn, and a few other possible one-time-only yarns. It’s so fun, now if I can only do it all…

OK, back to work.

Photo is Guitar Herringbone Hat. The pattern has been available for a short while, but I just put up the web page about it.

Thanks, Tracy

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

You guys never cease to amaze me! I posted my request for a knitter after 2am (yes, I dated it for the day before) and merely 3 hours later I have a test knitter.

Tracy H. is on it, for now. If I need another knitter I’ll post here. Actually, I am sure I will need two knitters for the Bags to Go! project very soon. Stay tuned…

Meanwhile, thanks to Tracy.

More Busy-ness

Friday, December 23rd, 2005

hat by LynnHToday was another jam-packed day. I had lunch with my friend Ulyana, who is a fabulous cook. We had Indian dal soup (red lentils with spices, it was wonderful) and pumpkin custard. And tea, my favorite. We had a wondeful time.

Then my helper came over for many hours and we worked on my new yarn dyeing batch. It was slow today, with static electricity playing games on the skeinwinder, but we kept plugging and got at least something done.

I went to Altu’s for dinner and also bought food from her, to go, for Sunday dinner. It’s not a holiday without her food, even if it’s just the 2 of us at home. Maybe *especially* when it’s just the two of us.

Then we went to Abbott Brothers’ band rehearsal and small gift exchange. That’s always fun. We actually had fun singing Christmas songs. I like Silver Bells, White Christmas and Feliz Navidad the best. At least that’s how I feel about it this year. On the radio I’m enjoying Dean Martin this year, and The Carpenters… Karen had such a wonderful voice, it’s a shame she died so young. They were sort of uncool there, but honestly their work is so well crafted and musical, I’m OK with admitting I like smooth, vanilla pudding sounds at times.

Then home and more work. I’m doing the finishing touches on my Button/Roll-brim hat pattern. I need one tester, anyone out there interested? It’s not a hard pattern at all but I need someone to really truly read every word in my pattern and take all instructions literally. And tell me when I don’t make sense or when I’ve screwed up.

Payment is enough yarn to knit the thing (and in this case a button to go with that yarn), and the pattern when it’s completed, and one other LynnH pattern of your choice. You start out by knitting the pattern in whatever yarn you have in stash that will make the gauge (5.5st/in for this pattern). I send payment when I get an email from you telling me what I need to change, and a photo attached showing me the item and how it fits.

I know it’s holiday time which makes it hard for most folks to jump in. However, I will have some new yarn colors out soon… this might be a way to earn some LynnH yarn if it’s hard on the budget otherwise. I really need an interactive knitter, someone who is picky with me on what I’ve said, how I’ve laid it out on the page, and how it fits. Anyone? I can knit one in a day or two. Here’s a pic of one of my attempts at a prototype for this hat.

More Dyed Yarns, Soon

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

I’ve been too busy, even though I have no classes for a while. I’m preparing a new batch of yarns to dye and sell just after Christmas. I’ve actually got an assistant here for a few days and having her makes me really stay focused and more productive. I wish I didn’t have to sleep, but that’s life!

Oh… big news. I will have a new experimental yarn for sale in the next several weeks. I will never give up my beloved Cushy ColorSport (machine wash/machine dry DK weight springy merino). However, so many folks who follow my work are big socknitters, and they often prefer fingering weight sockyarn, washable wool/nylon blend.

I will probably have about 10 skeins on a test basis, in the next batch or two of handpaints I’ll have on my sale site. They will be appx. 100gm/3.5oz, enough for one pair for most folks… same size as Opal handpaint, I think about 440 yards.

Right now I’m very low on yarn stock and my site is not updated well, but give me a week or so and we’ll be into new wonderful colorways and the new sockyarn. I haven’t named the new yarn yet.

I must confess that all this holiday stuff on the schedule is not making me merry. I guess I’m more stuck in my routine than I thought! It’s nice to have days off to enjoy family and friends, but with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s day, I’m having fewer days for work. I don’t get sick days or vacation days, so I really can’t do a few weeks (or even days) off like people with day jobs. I don’t mind working, but it’s hard to work when you need to see this group and that group and this family and that family.

I see my brother this weekend and Brian’s family next week. I saw Iris last Monday. Now if I can just work enough to make up for all that time playing around, I’ll be good.

Speaking of (near-)family, I had lunch with Altu today as we often do on Thursdays. We met a little early so we had time, and went to Sears (between her restaurant and Foster Center) because she needed gifts. Well, I ended up buying something as well… for my wonderful Brian. Good thing she got me out into a store, because there is no way I can make him a pair of socks in a few days with the other things I have on my to-do list.

I’m way behind on emails, I had over 100 drafts in my outbox, half written. I’m down to maybe half of that. I really would like to get that all tidy and clean by the first. I hope. I get overwhelmed and then I don’t follow up for people who deserve to have me get back to them. One day at a time, I’m getting back into the present. I’m good with filling orders very quickly but chatty notes don’t do as well.

As busy as I feel right now, I have been knitting while waiting in line here and there, and at guild and with the CityKidz. I’ve stalled on the machine-knit funnel neck because it requires sitting still at home. I figure I will work on that on the 25th, as that is a day off and the funnel neck is a personal project, not a work project.

I finished my 123rd pair of socks, in Bingo yarn (did I already say that once here?). Today I photographed them but I need to go back into the dye studio so the photo must wait.

I also finished one legwarmer converted from the arm of the Manos/Ralph Lauren sweater I’m redesigning. The second legwarmer has half the ribbing done, so that should be finished this weekend. Easy knitting for waiting in line at the post office (that is, when you don’t break your vintage plastic needles in half in your purse… sigh). No photos on that project yet.

I’m hoping to work up, finally, that rolled-edge hat pattern as well. In my spare time!!! The plan is to make kits, with a hat pattern, yarn and a LynnH ColorJoy polymer clay button, all coordinated together. A great idea, if I can get all the ducks to stay tidily in a row!

Have a great night. Remember, the shortest day has passed us, it’s getting warmer already!!!

Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

table with Kolo and TeaMy brother (Eric) called today and he reminded me that it’s Solstice! In fact, the time is 1:40 or so today when the sun starts to come closer again. He says the solstice moment is so close to the middle of the day, that last night and tonight will last the same amount of time. My brother is always the right guy to go to, for finding out this type of information.

I can’t wait to see Eric again! It looks like I’m going down to Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti for Christmas Eve. Anyone out there know where we will be able to go out to dinner that evening? It needs to be either an ethnic food restaurant or a place where I can talk to the cook personally, so that I can be sure the food does not have some ingredient in it that makes me feel crummy.

I know that often hotels will have their restaurants open on holidays. However, corporate/chain kitchens are almost sure to have sauces and marinades from a can or jar, coming in from the food services truck. Pre-made sauces are nearly always full of corn syrup and other things that don’t like me. The smaller the place, the more likely I can eat there. Anyone know Ann Arbor better than me?

The Iceland Weather Report (a non-knitting blog in Iceland which I found through a fiberarts blogger somewhere) says that yesterday:

“…the sun came up at 11.21 and went down at 15.30.”

I’d dare say she’s more ready for solstice than I am. Be glad we’re this far south, midwesterners!!! It may be cold here but we get sun about twice as long as that. Yesterday it seemed to be getting dark around 5pm. I didn’t enjoy the early sunset, but the sun surely came up sooner than eleven-twenty! Ugh! According to one website I found, it looks like we get around 16 hours of daylight during summer and 8 hours of daylight during winter, in this general corner of the world. I like sixteen hours much more than eight, let me tell you!

Here’s a photo I took during sunnier days. I was expecting Altu to come over for a cup of tea and a chat. I made black tea with ginger root in it, as we sometimes had in Ethiopia. I also got out my last bit of Kolo, a snack food offered to guests often in Ethiopia. It’s mostly made of roasted barley, and is very tasty and satisfying (no sugar or salt, imagine that).

For the record, this kitchen set of table and chairs was purchased by Brian before I met him. The man knows style when he sees it. (The paint job, however, is my work.) At the same time, I had a chrome set of living room chairs and sofa at my house, and we both had collections of shiny chrome kitchen gadgets. When I walked into Brian’s house the first time, this is what I saw right away. I knew we could make it work!!!