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Archive for January, 2006

Eternal Optimism

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

Lynn in Before SweaterI am hysterically funny once again. I thought I could do five days’ worth of work in one day, then I gave in and went out for 3 hours, running reasonable errands, and in the evening I was really tired so I took a nap. Now the day is over and I did not do what I thought I might. I did not even get close!

For the record, usually Fridays are a day off for me. Since I worked eight hours on Friday, I figured I would do some things just for me on Saturday instead. I thought those things would be knitting things. I ended up with a different schedule than planned (when I thought I’d be snowed in), but it all worked out.

I did have fun! I went to Yarn for Ewe and cashed in my Christmas Gift Certificate from My Sara and her family. I got some wonderful, electric, one-ply wool/alpaca yarn in hot pink and hot green. I got 2 skeins of pink and one of green. And I already had one skein of each.

The yarn is called Nashua Creative Focus Worsted. It has 220 yards in 100gm. My DK yarn that I sell is 225 yd in 100gm, Cascade 220 is called Worsted at 220 yd but so is Lamb’s Pride Worsted at 190 yards for 4oz (166yd/100gm). This yarn looks much closer to a DK yarn to my eye than worsted, but since it’s a single ply it’s more dense than the Cascade 220.

Anyway, that means that I now have 660 yd of pink and 440 yd of green, rated at 5st/in. That’s enough for a sweater if I want, or a nice fat felted bag. I’m more likely to finish a bag, but this is certainly soft enough for a sweater if I get into the right mood or feel like pulling out the knitting machine again.

I’m not starting this any time soon, I have too many things half-done, but I’m thinking about it. I like to knit with really bright colors when the weather is miserable and spring is too far away. I’m thinking stripes, because stripes make bright colors even more wild, next to one another. I was thrilled to find these brights today.

I also stopped by briefly at Rae’s to drop off something. I was there yesterday, too, for another student. I bought sockyarn. Like I need sockyarn? But she had a nice bright green she handpainted herself, and again I needed to knit spring into existance. Not that I’ll even start that yarn for a while, it could be spring before I start. It made me happy to buy it.

I wanted to finish my bloom shawl today, but I guess went shopping instead. It has 18 sections when finished. I had 11 sections finished before today. I’ve knit two but I needed seven. I am thinking that it will not be done in time to leave it for the Boyz at Threadbear on Sunday. After all, I need to block and dry it, and it’s past 1am as I type this. And I have only 12+ sections knit.

I also somehow thought I might even do some personal knitting. I bought this incredibly colorful and fun sweater, handknit from handspun/hand-dyed yarns, label says it was made in Bolivia. I found it for merely $5 at Scavenger Hunt, a great resale shop on the lower level near Peanut Barrel on Grand River in East Lansing. Owned by a musician and a fiberartist… great people.

I almost didn’t buy it, though… it fit a little too tight and a lot too long, and the trim near face and hands was the scratchiest and ugliest yarn in the sweater. It’s sort of a mahogany brown with a lot of picky burrs and hay spun into the yarn. Ugh. The body is softer yarn, for the most part, and includes some electric pink and very nice darker purple and green, among other colors. I like it a lot. It reminds me of a huge Turkish Sock. I’ve seen several of these motifs in Turkish knitting.

When I tried it on in the store, the sweater was like a skinny tube for a stringbean. But I took it home, soaked and washed it in Eucalan, and stretched it wider (to fit around my hips since it’s really long). Now it looks the right size for my body. But the sleeves? They are nearly six inches longer than I would like them to be. And the collar is the darkest, ugliest color in the sweater… and scratchy, right next to my face.

Solution? Remake the sweater. This Thursday I cut the cuffs right off the sweater (I had been folding them up twice, for a huge heavy cuff that was still too long) and picked up stitches, and reknit with a pretty bluish-teal Manos del Uruguay yarn I got from the Boyz at Threadbear. The color is a zillion times better for trim near my skin than the color the sweater came with. Yet it’s handspun and hand-dyed, and thick/thin textured… which makes it look like it goes with the original yarns.

I knit a rolled cuff rather than a rib so that it would not get much longer. The sleeves are still pretty long but MUCH better, I’m pleased. Now I look like a college grrl, the sleeves are right for some styles of dress. Before, the sleeves would have pleased nobody.

Now the next step is to do the bottom hem edge, which will include a stockinette section and a simple rib section. Last, I will redo the collar. I’m looking forward to that. The collar as it is, is too big and floppy, and brown, and scratchy. I inevitably end up reknitting collars several times before I’m satisfied, but I’m sure I can come up with something softer, and more colorful, and more flattering than what I’ve got now.

My friend Anne/Nyla took this picture of me in the sweater before I cut it apart. I really like this picture. It’s not the most flattering of my face, but it really shows how I usually dress in the wintertime. Beret, leggings, legwarmers, turtleneck and huge, colorful sweater in tunic length. Aren’t the sleeves funny? Waaay too long. And considering how small the body circumference was, those sleeves just were not well-thought-out.

It’s on its way to transformation, but I thought I’d be starting that new bottom edge today after finishing the Bloom shawl. Not a chance now, but it was a great dream!

I think I’m just like a 5-yr-old. My eyes are bigger than my tummy, so to speak. A child wants a three-dip ice cream cone, and I think I can knit two projects in a day. I guess it’s a harmless problem other than the minor guilt I feel.

Off to knit more on Bloom before I crash. At least one more section… one more, one more…


Saturday, January 21st, 2006

snowy sceneLast night they were predicting between 2-7 inches of snow in Lansing by morning. I did what seemed wisest, and ran as many of my Saturday errands on Friday so that I would not have to be among the morning shovelers. I don’t like mornings (I wake up more slowly than anyone else I know) and I do not tolerate cold well, so this was a good plan.

That means that Friday was fun but jam-packed. I had lunch with Shirley who won my gift certificate at the December guild meeting and who will now be knitting a sweater from Cushy ColorSport in Denim (blues and purples on silver). I also had to meet a student at Rae’s to help her with a hiccup in her knitting (actually, Rae did the magic on that repair).

Then I went to Altu’s, to show her how to use something new on her computer. I ran to see Linda at Little Red Schoolhouse to replenish her Cushy ColorSport colors (she sells kits for BarberPole Socks at her shop as well as a few loose skeins).

And then I popped by the Boyz at Threadbear, to pick up a ball of Multicolor brushed mohair so I can finish my Bloom Shawl for their shop. I can’t find my second ball of that yarn anywhere! So I had to buy more. I’m hoping I can finish that shawl today so I can leave them a sample in the shop when I go there to finish my First-Time Toe-Up sock class tomorrow/Sunday.

Rob did a good job of highlighting some of my classes coming up at their shop (the next one is “Darn that Sock!” which is Sunday the 29th, noon-3pm, for $20) in his weekly email yesterday. He also announced the new class for the Bloom Shawl, on April 1/Saturday from 1pm-3:30pm, for $20. I’m really hoping the Bloom Shawl class is a go, it’s such a satisfying knit no matter what your level of knitting experience.

So then I stayed up till 3am working on the computer and when I got up at 10:30 the sun was shining. We only got maybe 2 inches from the looks of it, with some ice underneath. Luckily it is above freezing already and with that sunshine, the ice will melt and we won’t have fallen trees from the weight of the ice, and roads can be salted and relatively safe.

snowy sceneI looked at the National Weather Service forecast for Lansing, and it shows at least partial sun for three days in a row!!! I’m here to tell you that this has not happened since at leat Mid-December. The most we’ve had is one day with sun… these days even a little peek through the clouds for a few seconds has felt luxurious. Mostly sunny feels almost like summer in these parts right now. I’m glad, for once, that I had a class cancel, so I can revel in the sun on my face.

Small pleasures are the only ones that can bring true happiness, you know. Three sunny days might be on the top end of small, but I think you know what I mean. Big Deals (like my Africa Trip) happen so rarely that we can’t keep going waiting for the next miracle/big deal. We need to recognize and seize the small, wonderful bits in front of our noses on more ordinary days. For example, precious small things for me can be the laugh of a child, a good cup of tea, an unexpected color combination I notice out of the corner of my eye.

Those small joys create my quality of life. It’s easy to be a contented person when you feed yourself tiny doses of happiness regularly.

As I type this, the sun is shining on my walls and the side of my face. I am seeing the wonderful rainbows which result from sunshine flowing through my cut crystals in the window (all gifts). I love my rainbows!

Today I will catch up on as many things as I can. The list is so long there is no way to cross everything off but I’ll do my best. At least I get to sit in the sunshine!!!!

Photos: 1) My friend April’s house viewed out my office window, three feet where I sit most of the day at my desk. (I even knit at my desk most of the time if I knit at home.) You can see that we did not get seven inches of snow last night… I think we got more rain in the beginning and that kept the snow from piling up. 2) Close-up of tree branch with ice and snow, and sun shining through the ice.

Howlin’ Hobbit Writes

Friday, January 20th, 2006

I met Howlin’ Hobbit online. He’s a ukulele player in Seattle. He takes the time to write me regularly, which is always a delight. (I’m always surprised when non-knitters are readers… that is, other than my family and local friends. Happily surprised, that is.)

So guess who wrote today? Hobbit! Here’s what he says:

Hiya Lynn!

I found this yesterday and thought you might be interested (pass it on to your readers, maybe?)

Knitting Olympics


If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s Stephanie Pearl-McPhee/Yarn Harlot’s Olympic Knitting Challenge. Basically you choose a challenging knitting project, start it after the olympic torch is lit and finish it before the flame goes out. It gives us a focus in which we can do something more special than our regular knitting pace. A great idea, really.

I know that Sarah Peasley/Handknitter is in the process of figuring out what she will knit. I must say I am not going to participate. I am already desperately behind on my work projects and I don’t need a two week project to distract me from that. It would be fun to finish something in the “potential projects” box but I just don’t see how that is going to make me feel better when it’s done.

However, those who are interested in being pushed just a little, or those who have been hoarding that special kit or project for the “perfect time” may just have found the perfect excuse to pull it out.

Go for the gold, friends! I can’t wait to see what people choose.

People Write

Friday, January 20th, 2006

LynnHKristi/Red Dog Knits writes that we both were at knitting guild Tuesday but she didn’t have a chance to say hi. I’m not surprised… with my new dyed yarns with me and the Cushy Blankie sample… plus people donating bags for my kids’ knitting programs, I was at the center of a small crowd after meeting got out.

It’s so funny, I love people but I am not fond of crowds. My favorite kind of event with a friend is one-on-one going to tea. And knitting, of course. And I also am happy teaching or being a student in a class, where there is basically one focus for all folks there.

Yet I’m a joiner, I love groups like the knit guild. I do well when there is structured time such as a program or show and tell… but get very distracted when it is free time. I tend to get louder and more animated, and I think people interpret that as comfort but it’s just my attempt to focus in the midst of minor (or major) chaos.

Just the same, I love seeing my friends at guild. I suffer from not saying hi to everyone I know… I wish I could but it’s just impossible. For example, I said a brief hello to Sarah Peasley/Handknitter, and stood next to Rae/Extravayarnza while being distracted by too much to really talk… yet I never got close enough to Sharon P/Knitknacks to say hi (as well as a bunch of other folks I really like a lot and see too little).

Missing those friendly connections makes me feel bad when it’s all over. Drat. How do you other folks deal with that? Avoid groups? Shrug it off as impossible? Focus on a few and give up the idea of greeting everyone? Maybe others just don’t worry like I do.

But this post is here to say hi to Kristi. Thanks for the email, grrl! We’ll catch one another soon enough, I guess.

Deb L. also wrote… I’ll get back to you soon, Deb. I’m winding yarn for a special order tonight but I got your very kind note.

Image today… I gave in and played with the Yahoo Avatar Generator. I just can’t do it messy so didn’t do a background, and zoomed in, instead. I realized after the fact that this is how I present the photos of my socks as well!.

They didn’t offer clothes I’d wear in colors I like so I painted the avatar in PhotoShop. And my hair is waist length, and lighter than this by a good bit. They offered red, black, blonde and “brown” hair… one interpretation of brown, shown here. (No gray or white hair is an option… I think this “toy” is not for people of my age or up.) Hmmm. My light brown always has had more gray undertones than anything (even when I was 20-something). If I wear black earrings they just disappear in the shadow.

I suspect others are not as picky as me, or maybe I just have a more unusual style than I thought. At least they had a hat very like the one I wear each day. And the glasses are pretty close. Big earrings made me happy, too.

It’s sort of a useless way to spend time, but then so is solitaire… and at least with this, you can save it when you are done. I guess I’m not feeling deep today. Sort of doing a grown-up version of a coloring book for fun…

Altu is in the News!

Friday, January 20th, 2006

My friend Altu, of Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine, is featured in an article this week. For local folks, she is on the last inside page of City Pulse. There is a nice photo of her serving a meal to the reporter. Although a few details are not exact, the essence of the article is correct and it is an enthusiastic account of the food and restaurant.

City Pulse does not put their articles on the internet, but it’s free for local folks. I pick it up at Altu’s, or at New Aladdin’s restaurant in Frandor. I’ve seen it at the Main Post Office on Collins Road, as well.

By the way, Altu puts a coupon in City Pulse every other week. This happens to be the off-week (strange timing, I’d say), but check that out sometime. I think it is a buy 2/get one free sort of coupon, but since I don’t ever use one (I’d rather pay full price and help Altu prosper, she’s my dear friend) I could be wrong on that.

Also mentioned in the same issue is an upcoming Filipino Folk Dance Group performance, this Friday at the International Center at MSU on Friday 1/20/06 at 6pm. The photo in the paper for this event is just wonderful.

Pirate Mariam Sews

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

My student, Pirate Mariam, is sewing these days. She made some fun striped pants, see photo on her link above. Also check out the little link “sweater” under the photos. She is using sharpie markers to embellish a hoodie and it is very cool and creative.

Fiber Sale Near Lansing

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Judy Lessard, a friend from Spinners Flock guild, writes:

…a few of us have formed a co-op and are going to have fiber sales at our local township hall–not far from my house.
Please help spread the word! Thanks, Judy

OK, it is my pleasure!

Fleece and Fiber Sale

Saturday, February 4, 2006
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Alaiedon Township Hall (just a few miles south of campus!)
Holt Road, Mason, MI

Take Okemos Rd. south from Jolly Road to 4-way stop at Holt Rd. Turn left. Township hall is on the right-hand side. Or take Hagadorn south to Holt Road. Turn left. After crossing Okemos Rd. at the 4-way stop, the township hall is on the right-hand side.

Products from four Mason area sheep farms:
–spinners roving
–handspun and custom made yarns
–raw and washed fleece
–washed locks
–needle felting kits
–fly tying dubbing
–wet felting soap kits
–scarves, hats, comforters, ponchos, shawls, and capes
–needle felted wall hangings

Escape the winter blahs for a while and enter a world of beautiful colors and feel-good fiber. Come hang out and knit, receive some needle felting instruction, watch a handspinner create some beautiful yarn, or learn how to wet felt. Learn about the various breeds of sheep, the characteristics of their wool, and the wide variety of uses for their wool.

Our products consist of fibers from our sheep or fibers from other Michigan farms (Columbia and Romney wool). Many of our sheep are rare breeds (Wensleydale, Cotswold-crosses, Lincoln, Shetland, Tunis and Jacob), or mixed-breed sheep bred for fine fiber. Plus we have luxurious mohair from Angora goats!

For more information, contact: Bridget Kavanagh-Patrick (517) 349-0863, happygoatluckyewe@yahoo.com; or Judy Lessard (517) 337-8540, lessard.judy@yahoo.com

Two New Patterns & Bunches O’Yarn SOON

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

PyramidsI’m just plain overwhelmed with all I need to do. I’m waaay behind on the yarn biz (which is what I do when the teaching biz is slow, and now it is picking up).

It seems that yesterday was “do it again day.” I edited my photos of the new yarns, and then the computer crashed and I lost all the edits. I haven’t had time to re-color-correct them again. When I do word processing, I save my document often, but with a photo you can lose quality if you save too many times… so I waited, and I lost a lot of time. Boo hoo.

A few days ago I opened my email program and all the half-written drafts I’d started (to remind me who I needed to still correspond with) all disappeared. I watched all the windows close, right before my eyes. I hit some keystroke I didn’t mean to hit, and all my reminders went away…

I had three incredible testers for my roll-brim button hat pattern over the holidays, and I haven’t written them back now that my yarns (their payment) are ready for them to choose. Ladies, I’ll be with you as soon as the photos are right. Probably tonight or tomorrow, OK?

Also, Jessie K. tested my Cushy Blankie pattern for me, and brought me the finished result last night at guild meeting. My friends, it’s a lovely thing, this blankie. I had much good feedback on it (she knit it in my Cushy ColorSport yarn) at guild, and I’m in the final stages of finishing up that pattern for sale, as well.

SO: this is to say I will soon have 2 new patterns, and some beautiful yarns that are now photographed and labeled for sale. My testers get first dibs and then I’ll put up the yarns as soon as I can get a free minute. I’m really busy on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I’m thinking it will be Friday or Saturday now. We’re nearly there, thanks for waiting.

I will be offering four colorways of my new fingering-weight sockyarn in wool/nylon this time (I have more of this yarn still white, ready to dye, when I get more time for the studio, but it may be a while). Last night, Tamsyn won a skein of the sockyarn at guild (I always donate a kit for a door prize every month I’m there) and if her response is an indication, this yarn will be a hit. I like it, and I lucked out with one skein that is short a few yards so I get to keep it just for me! I’ll get to test it out myself, woohoo!

OK, off to teach and dance and all the things I do on Wednesdays. I’ll edit images of the hat and blankie as soon as I can. Catch ya soon!

As usual, when I have no photo that pertains to the subject, I give you my Africa Trip. Here you see the great pyramid (there are over 90 pyramids in Egypt), with a Japanese Tourist having her picture taken, by the handler (probably owner) of her camel. For the record, Egypt is indeed in north Africa (it considers itself both Middle-Eastern and African from what I could understand of the English-Speaking radio I heard there). I didn’t know this until I was an adult (perhaps because of my poor exposure to geography in school), and I figure others are in the same boat. I took this photo on December 23 or 24, 2004.

Chelle got a Blog!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

Chelle has been writing to me for a good while now. She’s one of those amazing souls who keeps coming back, and actually takes the time to send me an email (because my comments are disabled thanks to spam).

Well, she wrote this morning to say that she has a blog, Hanging by a Thin Thread. Go say hello, if you would! Tell her I sent you, if you’d be so kind.

Cast-Ons for Toe-Up Socks

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

If you are not a socknitter, forgive my passion today for a very niche subject. I am writing a LOT about only one part of a sock, for only one direction of knitting socks. We’re talking toes, for socks knit toe up (as opposed to top down design, which is more common in the USA/Western knitting culture).

Someone posted to the Socknitter’s list, a web page listing as many Heel and Toe Variations they could find on the web in free patterns/tutorials. I’m delighted that my LynnH No-Purl Heel is listed (under Traditional Flap-Style Heels – Top Down).

I spent my waking-up time today (supposedly my day off) working through the toe-up toe methods listed. It’s a sort of fun exercise since I’ve been doing a lot more toe-up socks lately.

Experimental toe-up afterthought socks by LynnHTurkish Cast-On is inspired by Meg Swansen’s version, explained by Deb. It’s a lot like the cast on I used in my own Turkish Toe-Up Sox, which I learned from a dance friend who knits in the Society for Creative Anachronism. My friend used the toe on a pair of white and blue cotton socks inspired by ancient Egyptian socks.

The version online uses two circulars, I use DPN’s for mine. She also uses a temporary slip knot for the tail (very handy), but we’re clearly kissing cousins.

I think it’s cool how a toe is literally Folk Art, passed from person to person and each has a different flavor but the same essence. Must be that was a little part of why Elizabeth Zimmerman (Meg’s mother, may she rest in peace) preferred to say she “unvented” things, a term I’m ambivalent about… but so many things are almost in the universal set of possibilities that we just have our own “flavor” of them, and it’s perhaps unlikely that nobody else ever in history had done it before us.

I mean, it’s two sticks, a string and a bunch of loops. How many options (at least for technique) can there be? Yes, Lucy Neatby’s Fiesta Feet Socks surely are so unique nobody else could have come up with that design. Yet even then, surely someone else did a garter stitch cuff before her, for example. She just combined enough specific details that the combination sings “Lucy.”

Back to toes. Kim’s No-Sew cast on is a figure-eight. I did it easily today, but when I first tried it (from Anna Zilboorg’s Fancy Feet/Simply Socks book) I was a very new socknitter and I did not do well with it. I guess experience has made the difference, the technique is not different though perhaps the words used were a help. Kim’s graphic is very good, for the first set of wraps.

Judy’s Phony Grafted Toe (from Judy Gibson’s You’re Putting Me On Socks) is also a figure eight, and she sites inspiration from Anna Zilboorg. Interesting how two people can explain the same technique differently enough that it feels different until you look at the results!

toe-up socks based on Sole Solutions Software, by LynnHThe Easy Rectangle Toe is a goodie. It is related to the Easy Toe Up option from The Sole Solution sock-pattern-generating software by Mary Moran (listmom of Socknitters).

I used Mary’s program to create the pattern for my first toe-up socks, liked her style, altered and adapted it a bit (different cast-on, different way of decreasing gusset stitches, different location of slipped stitches for reinforcement). I started teaching folks how to knit socks from toe toe up, made a handout, and it eventually evolved into the LynnH First-Time Toe-Up Socks, one of my most popular patterns.

(Mary does approve of designers being inspired by her software, for the record. My 9-page pattern with 13 photographs is certainly not the pattern her program would generate, and I use none of her words, but she did inspire me. I had never done a provisional cast on before I found her software, but with the photos in her help system I did it without trouble.

If you are even somewhat interested in her program, I give it an A+ for quality and ease of use. It’s an amazing value. No, I’m not affiliated other than having been on the Socknitters email list for a long time.

LATE UPDATE: I wrote Mary Moran to let her know she’d been blogged here… She wrote back, offering my blog readers a discount. She says:
Folks can get a 10% discount on any regularly priced order by just entering the word socknitters in the voucher field of their order and clicking redeem.Go to her site, Knitting Zone, if you are interested. She carries much more than just the software.

Inside the blurb for Easy Rectangle Toe, there is a mention of Lela’s pattern, which to me looks even more like the Sole Solutions version, a very nice toe indeed, with a provisional cast on which creates a less-obvious join than my version. (I believe my start is easier but you can see eight tiny blips on the top of the toe at the cast-on point.)

Aloha Toe gets many rave reviews on Socknitters, it’s part of the Crazy Toes and Heels by Queen Kahuna/Mary Ann Beattie. Big hit, and I did have to try it.

I don’t know why it is, but when a cast on calls for circular needles, I rebel. I like my DPN’s, they don’t flop around and get in my way… this is clearly only a personal preference, and I am totally OK when students want to knit on circs (either 1 or 2), but it just is not my style. (Yes, I’ve done it but it doesn’t make my heart sing.) I had to go get another soothing cup of tea before I was willing to go find some circs and try this one… the one getting major kudos consistently on Socknitters. Eventually I had to break down and at least try it to see what the fuss was all about.

She calls it a German/Long Tail Cast on variation. It’s basically like the cast on I use most often, but you cast on alternately between two needles. It has little blips between the needles (similar to my own First-Time Toe-Up toe but my blips are at the tip of the toenails on top of the sock, and hers are at the very centered tip of the toe). Her blips are a little less noticeable than mine. And it would be very comfy for folks who cast on Continental/Long Tail, to understand and enjoy.

I must say, that once you figure this one out (she has wonderful photographs to walk you through it) it feels a bit magical to know how it’s done! She is good at doing a walk through with photos and words, on paper. And really, you could do it on DPNs if you were stuck in the mud as I seem to be! LOL

Knitting Fiend’s Toe-Up Cast On is really an elegant option. It uses a half-hitch cast on like my square-toe version, but she has you knit only one row where I go 8 and the above version has you do 6. This means no picking up stitches on the sides of a rectangle, only the bottom.

You pick up stitches in the half-hitch cast on, so it has blips like mine, but the blips are on the exact end of the toe like Kahuna’s (maybe less noticeable, though I can’t compare because I ripped out each toe before trying the next one). I think this one is a really brilliant combination of possible features which works very well.

All these options are quite useful and I can perform them equally easily. I have favorites I repeat over and over, and I have a new one I am putting in the new no-purl sock I pictured yesterday, which is not like any of the ones I tried today but could easily have been used by a folk knitter I never met.

That was fun! Maybe you’d like to try one or two new techniques yourself.

Photos: 1) The first pair of toe-up socks I made with the Turkish Cast-On my friend Sally taught me. It was my first or second afterthought heel, too (it was very shallow, I’ve figured out how to do them better in later attempts). Yarn is Regia, I think it’s called Las Vegas. 2) The first pair of toe-up socks I ever made, using a pattern generated by Sole Solution Software. It has a provisional cast on and a version of “square toe” which I think she calls Easy Toe-Up Toe. Yarn is Debbie Bliss DK merino (washable, wonderful stuff).

Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

Tuesday night (third Tuesday, to be exact, which is today) is the Lansing area knitting guild meeting. It’s a fun group of people, you don’t have to be specifically invited and it’s not like an in-club or place where you jury in. If you like to knit, you are welcome. You don’t have to join right away, just come and see how you like it.

The meeting is 7-9pm at the University Lutheran Church on Harrison Road, very close to Trowbridge Rd (take Trowbridge exit from 127/496, turn left at Harrison, second church on left but you have to go past the Islamic Center, which is the 3rd large building, and do a left-handed U-turn to get there through the boulevard). We meet in the lower level, there is an elevator if you need one.

If you say hello right away, people are very friendly and welcoming. Since the group is large (50 people at a meeting sometimes), sometimes the people you meet are also new, or don’t come all the time. They may not realize you are new, but once you say hello it’s the most friendly group you can imagine.

Please join us.

Sunday Good Times

Monday, January 16th, 2006

Wowie, the busy-ness continues. It’s good busy stuff, though, and I am not complaining.

Sunday was the second of three sessions for my First-Time Toe-Up sock class at Threadbear. We learned about the heel for this sock, including heel flap, heel turn and gussets. Woohoo! For a socknitting fanatic, this was great fun. Robin said goodbye, as she won’t be at next week’s session. I was sad to see her go. She drove an hour and a half two times, to get to my class. I am appreciative of this dedication. I hope I’ll see her again.

Brian Hefferan on Uke taken by Barb SI also met two knitters from Toledo… Robyn and her friend whose name escapes me… drat. I need to write down names more often. There are so many cool people in my life, and some weeks I meet dozens of new people. I try to remember names. I’m sorry… I can see your face in my mind but the name has slipped away…

Anyway, Robyn was wearing a sweater in Colinette Tagliatelli ribbon yarn, in the color Neptune. The same yarn I have two skeins of. The same colorway in which I also have a bunch of brushed mohair, thanks to my friend Sharon P. Robyn got me inspired again. The tape looks good in a huge cable. I loved her sweater but it did have raglan sleeves which don’t flatter me. I might make something up with a big cable, though, perhaps using both the mohair and the tape. Hmmm… ideas to ponder during wintertime…

Sunday night (after class) was the Elderly Instruments holiday party. They have their party after the crazy times of a retail business are done. I’d like to think that this meant that my holidays were over, but I have three knit gifts yet to complete and gift before I’m really done. This is unusual for me, but that is how it went this year.

The party was at the Temple Club in a private room on the main level. Each year, musicians who work for the music store take turns entertaining the crowd. The first band was amazing, a Klezmer-based group with saxophone, accordion, bass and drum. I could have listened/danced to them forever. Then we followed that band. Except just before we started, a punk band started playing in the public space above us. We’re talking 8pm on a Sunday, folks. This bar often doesn’t start shows until around 10pm.

So here we were, a sweet acoustic duo, trying to hear ourselves so that we could perform. I could not tell if my bass was feeding back into its microphone or if that sound was just the band above me! It was a real test of our professionalism. We just “hugged” the vocal microphone and sang mostly songs where we both sing at the same time in harmony, so that the crowd could hear us. I was told later that people could indeed hear our voices but not our instruments for the most part. Our sound team did their best but it was an impossible task. We cut the set short, as it was not really working well. I’m glad we had a two hour set the night before that went so well. I did not feel upset by cutting it short, other than I did want to share our music with Brian’s work colleagues. This is show biz, though, and it’s OK.

After us, there were some other great bands who are a bit louder, and they held their own against the competition. It was great to see our friends/Brian’s co-workers perform. What talent there is in my town!

In knitting news, I finished a sample sock for Rae’s shop. It’s for a brand new class. I have taught afterthought-heel classes for years. The way I have offered it before, was a short session on just how to make the heel.

sock designed by LynnHNow I have designed a specific sock which is toe up and afterthought heels, without a single purl stitch.

It has a brand new toe (to me, anyway, it felt as though I made it up and I haven’t seen it in anyone else’s pattern so far) which creates a 4-part swirl, and the heel matches also in 4 parts. It looks similar to the toe in my Turkish Toe-Up Sock but is easier to knit. Gotta love that! This would be a great first sock class, or a good class for a veteran socknitter looking for a change of pace.

I used a worsted-weight alpaca yarn by Grignasco and at least one person thought that this was handspun yarn (all the glamour, none of the work). It’s soft, and cushy, and thick, and colorful… really beautiful yarn. The sock can be made in any yarn, knit to fit, no matter the gauge, but I will be making more in this wonderful stuff! I’d intended to make one sock only, for the shop. Now I think maybe I’ll be making three, so I can wear the lovelies.

The class will be on Thursday nights at Rae’s Yarn Boutique, starting February 23, for three consecutive weeks, from 6:45 to 8pm. Cost is $25 and that includes my pattern. Pick yarn the first night, and bring all the Double-Pointed Needles (DPNs) you have… or bring yarn you think will work and needles 2-3 sizes smaller than the ball band suggests. Pattern uses 5 DPNs but you can use 4 if that is more comfortable.

Oh, and I have another class I added recently. I’ll be teaching the Bloom Shawl (Knitty.com pattern by my friend Trish Bloom, I’m teaching it with her permission) at Threadbear on Saturday, April 1. It’s at 1pm till 3:30. Cost, $20. The project calls for size 15 needles (either straight or circular will work), and an optional H crochet hook.

The shop has many lovely choices of yarn for this project, including the Multicolor brushed mohair I’m using for the shop sample that is currently on my needles. This is also a no-purl project, perfect for those who want a simple project or those looking to go beyond the simple scarf without a lot of stress. And it is SO wearable! I love wearing the one I made first. It never falls off your shoulders, and no matter how you wrap it, it looks good.

Darn it all! I started knitting that shawl for me and here I go again, letting go of my knitting. The trials of a professional knitting teacher… it could be much worse.

I took a photo of the class at Threadbear, and a bunch of nice photos at the Temple Club. And darned if I can find my camera ANYWHERE. I don’t remember when I saw the camera last, so I’ll have to dig around for it, and I’ll call the woman at Brian’s work who would have been in charge of the cleanup from the party. I will have to go look in Brian’s car as well, because we used his car to attend the event. Drat. A journalist without a camera is a sad grrrl, but I won’t worry yet. I just can’t show you anything from the events Sunday.

Luckily, I do have a photo of the incredible, amazing no-purl replaceable-heel, toe-up sock. I also have a great photo of Brian when he was sitting in with Mystic Shake on Saturday night. The photo was taken by Barb S., Ben’s wife (who is a really cool person and great cook as well as a good photographer).

Almost Too Busy to Sleep

Sunday, January 15th, 2006

sunshine in LansingYou know… people ask me all the time how I get so much done. I tell you, I wonder what they are talking about. I have so much to do that stays on the to-do list about forever, that I feel today as though I get nothing done at all.

(By the way, my stock answer is that I have no children, no pets, no houseplants, and a husband who was a bachelor until he was 36 yrs old, so I have nearly no maintenance in my life. I cook as little as I can, buying from healthy restaurants whenever possible. And cleaning? Well, the house stays messy most of the time. I’d rather knit/work and usually it doesn’t bother me enough to stop knitting to fix the mess.

I always am amazed that mothers get anything done besides dealing with their children’s needs. That is a seriously time-consuming job, one that many women do on top of other (paying) work. But me? I’m a self-employed artist who finds her work to be as fascinating as other possible activities, and who works far into the wee hours far too often. But I digress…)

Yesterday/Saturday I did sleep in a bit (and wrote in my blog in the morning). I totally enjoyed bits of sunshine coming through the window while waking up slowly. I even went on a short walk outside (brrrr!) while the sun was peeking in and out of the clouds, just before work. On the way to work, I took a photo a few blocks from home by holding my camera out the car window (while at a complete stop), to show you the lovely sky we had for about a day.

Sarah's WristwarmerI had a wonderful Wristwarmer class at Little Red Schoolhouse (LRSH). My students were Natalie (who I met last Monday at the LRSH knit-in) and Sarah, a new knitter just for the last few weeks.

I was happy that my Wristwarmer pattern has two styles in one package, one garter stitch/knit flat version and one rib/knit in the round version. Although Sarah had practiced a bit making a tube on double pointed needles before class, she chose the garter stitch option. She finished one wristwarmer (in bulky yarn) in our two-hour class.

Nanette's WristwarmerNatalie chose the tube/rib version, learned to cast on in rib, knit the top part of the wristwarmer and the part which creates the thumb opening, then closed up the opening and kept on going before she had to go home. (See photos of both projects.)

After the class, I ran home to transform myself into “Lynn Heftone” the singer, and go to Altus to perform with Brian as The Fabulous Heftones. We had an amazing time this week at Altu’s. Friends we knew before we were a musical act showed up (Regina, Cynthia, Doug, Bonnie, Hanno, and Mary). And then several folks came who we’ve met just because of our music (Rod, Mark, Charlie and Rod’s friend whose name we did not learn). Also a really great couple with a toddler, who come to Altu’s often and whose son really loves to watch Brian sing and play, were there for the show.

The place was packed in a most lively way until we took our break, and most of our fans/friends stayed on for the second act to finish the evening with us. If my Mom had been there, it would have been perfect. As it was, it was darned close!

Mystic Shake and Brian HefferanThanks to everyone who came, it was an incredible experience playing for you. In fact, we had such fun I didn’t think once about asking someone to take photos. Trust me on this one… grand old time.

But… you think that’s the end of my day? Nope. We went over to Lake Lansing Cappucino Cafe to see our friends in Mystic Shake play. They had a packed house as well. We shook cans (rhythm instruments the band brings for audience members to play) and I danced, and Brian even sat in on one of their numbers (he sometimes plays with the band as a fill-in so it was easy for him to step in). The lighting was a challenge, but if you squint at the photo you will see Dick J., Ben, Dick R., Brian and Pat.

I got home and tried to knit a little more (my final holiday gift, a pair of bulky alpaca wristwarmers). But I was SO chilly that I sat on the heat vent. And promptly fell asleep on the floor. Until 6:30am, that is. I think I was a little tired??? Dang! Yes, I worked on Saturday, two different jobs (teaching knitting and singing). Yes, I had a little entertainment after work (which included some high-caffeine tea that apparently had no effect). I really tried to keep working. I conked right out!

It was a good thing I did not need to work until noon on Sunday, huh? Because that day was equally packed… more on that tomorrow.

A Fresh, New Day

Saturday, January 14th, 2006

Fountain in Mombasa, Kenya Today is a new day. I feel like myself again, thank goodness. The sun is even shining! I skipped the Spinners Flock meeting (it is a one-hour drive one way and would have meant worrying about getting home in time for my afternoon class).

Instead, I slept in, had good tea and a special breakfast, and now am listening to more James Taylor while sitting in a mostly-sunny window. I’m even considering a walk while the sun is here. The weather man did not really predict sun today, we don’t see much sun on the weather report… partly cloudy Sunday and mostly cloudy Wednesday, the rest looks bleak. So a walk would be a great idea.

I’m looking forward to my Wristwarmer “Instant Gift” class this afternoon at Little Red Schoolhouse. It’s a fun project and that class is always a hit.

And then on to Altu’s! I’m very happy because a gift I ordered for her a while ago, came in yesterday. I will do my best to get over there and pick it up so I can give it to her tonight. I’m also excited to wear my “new” sequin dress (found in Charlotte after visiting Yarn Garden… yes, at the Goodwill shop there, in almost unworn condition…hand sewn silk with sequins, amazing quality). It’s not so cold that I’ll freeze wearing short sleeves. Pretty! Altu gave me a beautiful rasperry wrap for my birthday that I can wear over it if I get chilly in the corner by the window while we sing.

Fabulous Heftones by Regina FryI haven’t played my bass since last Sunday. You see, I slammed my left hand in the car door Monday night on the way to Little Red Schoolhouse, and it bruised the joints on my middle finger. (I used my left hand to pull the door shut, and then went to reach my seat belt but aimed wrong.)

No broken skin or broken bones… doesn’t really even hurt unless I touch it forcefully, though for a few days it didn’t want to bend quickly. Knitting has been no hassle, but typing was slow for a few days. It’s still a tiny bit swollen if you look carefully.

I’ll take some ibuprofen and sit with some ice before getting out my instrument at dinnertime. Thank goodness that even though 4 fingers were in there, only one was hurt… and since I was inside the car, there was much less damage than if I’d been out. Count blessings as you can find them, I’d say. Nothing nearly as bad as caffeine withdrawal! Dang, I’m a basket case sometimes, you know??? Drama Queen at your service! I have to laugh at myself. It’s all minor, minor stuff… but as you know, “…I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do…”

Tonight is Altu’s and the Fabulous Heftones. No complaints allowed. It will be a good day!!!

Photos: 1) Memory of a very sunny weekend, in Mombasa Kenya (very near the equator), mid-December, 2004. Fountain/garden at our resort near the beach on the Indian Ocean. 2) The Fabulous Heftones at Altu’s, photo by Regina Fry.