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Archive for March, 2006

More Spring Weather

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Alexandria EgyptFriday was even warmer than Thursday. It hit 69F/20.5C degrees downtown Lansing at about 4:30pm today. Most of the time we had clouds and some of the time we had rain, but the rain was gone more than here.

Before the sun went all the way down, maybe around 6pm, we had the oddest weather. It was sunny but we had thunder and pouring rain with tiny hail in it. I looked out the back door and peering west we had shadows of the trees but the hail was bouncing into the entryway as I peeked out!

The hail did not last long. I looked to see if we had a rainbow. From our porch I could not see one where it should have been. Brian said he saw one when he was running errands. Aaaah, spring!

I’m extremely busy doing paperwork for taxes in between teaching and taking classes. I did take a photo of a huge pile of snow in a parking lot, doing its last gasp. I also got a photo of the sun with hail. I have not downloaded the photos yet so I don’t know how they came out.

I think we’ll be “Photos Lite” at ColorJoy weblog until the taxes are finally ready to go. My business is significantly cash-based. With many smallish transactions (for example, selling one pattern), the amount of data entry is fairly extreme for a one-person business. I don’t mind data entry much (I did it 40 hours a week for 4 years back in the 80’s) but it just plain takes time.

Anyway, for now I’ll give you another recycled photo from my trip to Africa (where we only saw rain two days in five weeks over the holiday season). This photo was taken in Alexandria, Egypt, I believe on December 24, 2004. It rained all morning but cleared up later. We walked around with pants soaked from puddles, not so fun, but the photos came out with such amazing color!

An Incredible Spring Day

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Thursday was gorgeous, sunny, and not too breezy. I started the day with my friend Marlene C., putting together a mailing for Working Women Artists. We sat outside at Beaners coffeeshop and put stamps on postcards. A good way to start the day.

I also had lunch with Altu. We had sushi and then went for a bit of a walk around downtown East Lansing. I took her to see my friends Linda and Tom of Mackrel Sky gallery. She’d never been there. It’s a fine, high-end store with all sorts of fine crafts… silversmithing, handcrafted clothing and other fibers, much woodworking and ceramic work. Incredible, and Altu was impressed.

Had another session with CityKidz Knit! program, and two of my adult students… Julie from First-Time Toe Up socks at Rae’s, and Lynnette of Fast Florida Footies at Threadbear, joined the regular crowd. Great fun.

Then went to Rae’s for what I thought would be a little while, but closed the shop down. My friend Cynthia was the last customer so I was actually glad for the delay. We chatted outside in the dark after the shop closed, it was still warm enough to do that. It was good.

Then home for more taxes, I’m getting toward the end of the paperwork I think. Finally.

Friday I take Crochet class. I keep getting stuck at the same place, but I think I’ve maybe figured out what I did wrong. We’ll see what the teacher says.

Spring is Edging In!

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Well, if this column is about artforms of all sorts, nature is in the spotlight today. It was not sunny, but it was warm. There is still a single myrtle/periwinkle flower under the dryer vent, though I’m not sure if it is the same flower or a new optimistic bloom.

But today the side yard was blooming, with several wild violet flowers. It isn’t exactly bursting yet but there were too many to count easily.

And I saw a large patch of purple crocus blooming near the corner where I turn into the Foster Community Center neighborhood. April across the street told me that they have a patch of crocus in their yard, blooming, as well.

The huge piles of snow at the edges of the largest parking lots are down to some very ugly and dirty small piles, and that’s all the snow I’ve seen for weeks. I think we really are going to see more spring than not from now on, at least for a while.

That said, we always seem to see at least a few snowflakes in April. May they appear early, and lightly, and be done with that nonsense very soon!

I did not remember my camera today so no photos. I know that’s a big letdown for spring flower talk, but perhaps imagining color in your mind is a good exercise…

Fast Florida Footies Classes, and More!

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

FFFI taught Fast Florida Footies in one 4-hour session on last Sunday. I had four great students with me for the ride. One was Dawn, who had taken my ColorJoy Stole class (See her wearing the stole in the picture here), and Dawn brought her mom Vickie with her. Also in class were Janet and Lynnette.

Everyone did a great job. See them here showing off their nearly-finished size 0 baby Footies! (The pattern goes up to a size ladies’ large but in the one-session class we did the smallest size to be sure we got through all the methods needed to complete the sock.)

bloomFrom left to right you see Janet, Dawn, Vickie and Lynnette. Thanks for making my Sunday a fun time, ladies!

And for those of you wishing you had been able to make it (assuming you are driving distance of Lansing), you have another chance! This Sunday and the following Sunday (April 2 & 9), I’m teaching the same class at Little Red Schoolhouse. However, this time it’s in two sessions, 11-1, which should make it easier for folks to make any size and keep up. (Both shops are on the west side of Lansing, Michigan.)

The Fast Florida Footies (FFF) pattern is by far my biggest seller (even though you can get the women’s extra-small size free by clicking on that link). With eight sizes you can go from a cute ornament/newborn gift to a sock you can probably wear yourself, assuming you wear a ladies’ large or smaller.

I was originally skeptical about this yarn. I’m really a wool fan, but with the purled sole the cotton/lycra yarn makes a very comfy summer sock. Now I like the yarn so much I made a dance top out of it and I really love wearing that top!

afterthought heel soxIf you wear my size (US 6) or smaller, you can get a pair out of one ball of Cascade Fixation. Larger sizes than mine can get two pair from 3 balls. It’s very wearable, and actually those young folks seem to really love the footie socks these days, an extra plus.

Oh, and don’t forget I’m teaching the Bloom Shawl at Threadbear from 1-4pm on Saturday (April 1), and Afterthought Heels at Threadbear on Sunday at 1:30pm to 4pm.

Please join me this weekend. The more, the merrier! Do call ahead, though, if you want to come. I’d hate to cancel for lack of students (if that were to happen, I don’t know right now) and then have someone show up hoping to join at the last moment. It happens occasionally and I hate to disappoint anyone.

Photos: 1) Tiny FFF sample. 2) Fast Florida Footies Class at Threadbear. 3) Bloom Shawl in “Multicolor Mohair.” 4) Afterthought Heel Socks in an old colorway of Meilenweit sockyarn, given to me by the boyz of Threadbear before they moved their shop to Lansing.

Saturday Music

Monday, March 27th, 2006

Fitsum and TemesgenSaturday was a busy evening. First we went to Altu’s restaurant for dinner as we typically do on Saturdays. It was a special treat because there was a new musician this week. His name is Fitsum and he plays Ethiopian saxophone. He sometimes played alone, and sometimes he was joined by special guest Temesgen Hussein, who is our house musician (he plays two traditional stringed instruments and sings).

I tell you what… the Ethiopian folks in the place were just delighted with the performance! This is the highest compliment Fitsum could have had… and Brian, who plays saxophone, also really appreciated the performance. We were pleased to have him join the musical team at Altu’s.

Next Saturday (6:30-8:30pm), Temesgen is the musician of the week but it may be that he is joined by Fitsum as his guest. Delightful!

Pooh, Wanda and DougUm… but back to Saturday. After we heard the music and ate the great food at Altu’s, we went to Cappucino Cafe at Lake Lansing and heard our friends (Wanda Degen, Doug Berch, and Pooh Stevenson) play a different sort of music. It was great fun and we saw several music friends we had not seen in a while.

After that? We went to a birthday party at a musical friend’s house where we played some music and then I listened to others play as I knit. I did a good bunch of chatting as well (you figured that out already, I’m sure). OK, so I took three knitting projects and I messed up on two out of three. Too much excitement in the room, I’d guess, messed up my focus.

But one of the items was a sock for my brother, toe up, which now has about one inch of ribbing. I ran out of yarn at that point, but I bought more Sunday when I taught at Threadbear and I’m soon to finish that sock. The other one? I somehow turned the heel when the heel flap wasn’t full length yet. Rats! Rippit, rippit, says the frog…

Photos: 1) Fitsum on Saxophone and Temesgen in the background on either Krar or Begena. 2) Pooh, Wanda, and Doug (left to right) at Capp. Cafe’.

Sabrina’s Sock!

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Sabrina with her sockSabrina works at Threadbear Fiberarts. I really enjoy her company.

She knows I love knitting socks and told me that she has really struggled with socks because of gauge/fit issues. If you start a top-down sock with the wrong gauge/number of stitches, you end up with something disappointing because it does not fit right. She can do the techniques without trouble, but got really frustrated by having to rip out frequently when a sock she’d started did not fit.

I suggested she try my First-Time Toe-Up sock pattern. It’s easier to do this toe than many other toe-up methods because you first knit a square of flat stockinette fabric before starting to go around in a tube.

One big benefit to toe up socks is that you can try them on as you increase, stopping when you have increased enough that the sock fits properly. There is no gauge swatch, and no disappointment if the swatch and the sock don’t match somehow. (I really understand this, as my gauge tends to change by the minute and so often my gauge swatches are merely an approximation. I need to be able to adjust as I go for many projects.)

So here Sabrina is with her first completed sock! I suggested she work with fat yarn and make a slipper sock at first, and she’s got this lovely red number ready to go. Congrats, Sabrina!

Polymer at Rae’s & FFFooties Tomorrow at T-Bear

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

polymerLast Sunday, I taught Polymer Clay Buttons & Beads at Rae’s Yarn Boutique. Finally I’ve taken the time to process the photos from this wonderfully creative day!

First you see a “Mokume Gane” block made by Yvonne, and behind it some wonderful rolled beads (similar to paper rolled beads) she made with her clay.

polymerAfter that you see Joanne’s beads and buttons, made from a “lace cane” and a faux-ivory/woodgrain technique.

polymerNext is Deborah’s sunshine-colored buttons, also with lace cane.

polymerAnd last but not least you see Mary Ann putting a hole in her rainbow-colored button, using a woodgrain/Mokume Gane technique to make the swirls.

polymerBut then this week I got a surprise email from Mary Ann. She used a lace cane technique to make this necklace, using the same colors. I’m sure she will wear this necklace with a smile on her face!

I’ve always said there is no way to have a bad polymer clay class. It’s an amazing technique. It’s easy to make something you really like the first day, yet it has so much potential that it can keep you entranced for a decade without boredom. You can sand it, seal it, paint it, glue it (assuming you know which paints/seals/glues will work on this unusual plastic material). You can drill it. You can add parts and bake it again. It’s amazing stuff!!! And my students once again proved just that.

Sunday Class
For anyone in Lansing tuning in on Saturday here, looking for Fast Florida Footiessomething fun to do on Sunday… I’m teaching Fast Florida Footies at Threadbear from noon to 4pm. You need the pattern and a ball or two of very affordable cotton/lycra yarn (Cascade Fixation) which are both available at the shop. You bring needles (Double Points, usually size 2 or 3 but bring anything size 2-5 in case you need to adjust gauge) and we’re off and running! Feel free to register when you get there, I always bring a few extra supplies for last-minute students.

The Fast Florida Footies (FFF) are my most popular pattern by leaps and bounds. Knitting them is truly a comfy and fun quick project. The pattern comes in infant 0 to ladies’ large, so it will be one you can use many times. You won’t finish a whole footie in class unless you decide to do one of the baby sizes, but you’ll learn what you need to finish a pair.

Photo: Fast Florida Footie in size zero. Too cute, huh?

A Happy Heart

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Friday I went to Ypsilanti (1.25 hours away) to see my Brother Eric, and his wife, Diana. Diana loves to cook for me, and I really appreciate her knack for flavor. Never mind my own personal aversion to cooking, which makes food from others taste even better!

She made me Mujaddara (middle-eastern lentil/rice pilaf, though sometimes made with bulgur wheat rather than rice), and fruit/maple-glazed carrots, and roasted brussel sprouts. And much good tea! Three different kinds of tea over the course of many hours, to be exact.

But the company was the focus of the visit, as good as the food was. Diana and I sat and knitted, and chatted a little about crochet which I’m trying once more. Eric listened a lot (he is very good at this) and gave me advice when I solicited it (he’s a very good advice-giver, I make sure to listen well when he speaks).

We talked computers and books and audio books, yarn, cats, dogs, food, family, friends, and just whatever came to mind. The subject matter is not the point. The being there was the whole point. There is nobody who knows me as well as Eric does. No doubt this is why his advice is so good, and why I’m so inclined to take it when others’ advice may not interest me.

There’s nothing like someone who has known you all but 1.5 of the years you’ve been on the earth. And who absolutely has your best interest at heart. I’m a lucky woman, and I know it.

Knitting? I got to try Eric’s Bingo toe-up socks on him, measure his feet in person, and proceed with turning one heel and knitting the second heel flap. I thought I could get by with 2 balls of yarn but he’s got wide feet and I will split a third ball between them to make the cuffs.

I carried along the two pair of socks I’m knitting for me (including the Turkish-Style Toe-Up socks for my Wednesday morning class, which look like I’ll have at least one sock ready for class this week). I also carried the beginning of a Bloom Shawl in Louisa Harding angora. Luxe!

Crochet? After class this morning I played around with a sort of basketweave pattern. Then in Ypsilanti I showed it to Diana who was able to explain a version of it to me, and she even gave me a sample once she’d figured it out. She has done Crochet for years, knitting not as long.

I’m planning to do a single-crocheted felted purse from a Patons beads-and-wool bag booklet. I found several colors of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride yarn in my stash in various shades of turquoise-to-teal-to-emerald. I bought a few more colors at Threadbear during class… two purples and another softer aqua to add to the blue-green range of colors I’d brought from home.

I want to be sure I can follow a crochet pattern so here I am diving in! I’m not yet at the “too many bags” problem so one more will be quite welcome. If I’m lucky, it will be a good size for my laptop. If not it will be a purse or knitting bag, also good choices.
Off to sleep. I’m hoping on Saturday I’ll put up photos from last Sunday’s Polymer Clay class at Rae’s.

Photo: Eric at Thanksgiving, 2004; Eric and Diana, summer 2004.

Mom’s Senior Games Report

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

MomMy mom is extra-ordinary. She has been retired for over a decade but she still teaches kids to read (as a volunteer), both in Florida when she’s there and in Michigan when she’s here. She is very involved with both her communities; she is involved in church and dance groups and neighborhood groups. She leads low-stress exercise groups. She wins medals (lots of them) at the Senior Games in Polk County, Florida. Which, for the record, is the largest senior games in the USA.

This year Mom and Fred won a good number of medals once again. They are very fun to watch when they dance! Also, Mom always does some of the track events. She had a bad year about 10 years ago when she was on chemo, where walking just to the car from her front door was hard work. Since then, she does the shorter dashes in celebration of her life and continued health.

Mom sometimes writes long and chatty notes that all her friends and loved ones enjoy. This time she wrote in part about the games. She says:

We again took part in the Senior Games this year. I got silver in the 50 meter and 100 meter dash. My times were 15.15 and 30.71. I started doing that 8 years ago to prove I was still alive and have been doing ever since. Again we had a photo finish for the 1200 walk. I was 4th. I was not in good shape as I was just getting over my sinus problem and had not practiced.

Fred got back a few days before we took part in the dance. We got four golds in polka, jitterbug, country two step and twist. The only reason we got gold in the twist was we were the only one in our age group to enter (70-79). We got four silver and one bronze in the rumba, cha-cha, tango, foxtrot and waltz. The night before we practiced when Fred throws his leg over me and pulls me through his legs. We had not done it for two years. When we did it at the games, the roof almost went off as the folks really enjoyed it.

It is fun to be in the games. The oldest participant was a 100 year old bowler. They gave him free admission to next year’s games! When I ran the dashes, a 94 year old lady ran in the far lane as she was the only one in her age group.

Photo: Mom on her 70th birthday about a year and a half ago. She is wearing a ColorJoy Stole my brother’s wife, Diana, knit for her. Isn’t she pretty?

“My” CityKidz

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

CityKidz Knit!I love my CityKidz Knit! program. It’s the best thing I do all week, bar none. Last Thursday I had sixteen people. Every single one had been to my room at least once before.

Ten were children from ages 5 to 15. One was a friend/knitting student, about my age, who comes by occasionally on Thursdays. Three were grandmothers of kids in the program, and there was an aunt and a mother as well. And me, the seventeenth person. I was so pleased: we were many ages (five to grandparent), many lines of ethnic heritage (all human race, of course), from many neighborhoods, many happy and smiling faces, much creativity. I tell you, life does not get better than this.

CityKidz Knit!I’ve been doing this program since before I had a blog, and I started writing here in November 2003. You’d think I’d get tired of it. But today, again, I helped an elementary-aged girl make her first wristband (five stitches, garter fabric/all knit stitches, worsted-weight acrylic yarn). She was enthusiastic about how cool it is to make things from just yarn. And indeed, it is cool! As are the folks who take the time to do it.

Today the kids had a chat about how knitting is good for them. They know it’s easier for them to sit still when they are knitting. One also noted that knitting is quiet, and she clearly understood that this might be a significant plus in her life, having a quiet pastime.

The CityKidz sometimes ask me if I have children. I tell them that *they* are my kids. That I don’t have any at home. I love the ones I’ve got, that is enough for me!

Photos: Sixteen of my favorite folks in the world, knitting and crocheting together last Thursday. A smaller group last Wednesday.

Jam-Packed Day

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

I can’t tell you how much happier I am since I stopped worrying about my calendar/palm device! Tuesday morning I got started right away on my tax preparations which do take me a while to get all pulled together. I’m not a very organized person when it comes to paper… thank goodness at least the records on the computer are in a fairly easy to access format!

I took a break to have tea and knitting with dear friend Sharon P/Knitknacks, and then went back home for more tax prep. Again, I took a little time out to go to the Mid-Michigan Knitting Guild meeting, and back home to do more taxes and rehearse music with Brian.

I am still fiddling a little with the palm device… the calendar works great as does the address book. My Pocket Quicken (a sort of checkbook register) is not synchronizing yet, but I’m sure I can figure that out. It’s not something I use every day, anyway!

Knitting? Oh, yeah! I think it was yesterday that I had my Turkish Toe-Up Socks ready for the heel, which is what we’ll be covering in class Wednesday morning at Threadbear. In waiting times I’ve been knitting some of my new sockyarn into almost-too-snug toe up socks for me on size 0 needles.

And I had the happy experience of working on my lapsed Olympic Knitting project with Sharon today. I finished the decreases for the neckline if I figure it right, so now I just have to do the shoulder slope shaping. I did short rows for that part on the back, so will do my best to mirror that on the front. Of course, that takes a little thinking and I don’t have much thinking knitting time. One day at a time, I guess.

Other languishing projects are the Aspen bulky sweater, another Multicolor Mohair Bloom Shawl in magenta, a pair of socks half-knit for my Brother (will hope to fit to size on Friday this week when I plan to see him), a not-yet-started Garden Stole which will be a summer version for Little Red Schoolhouse to display, and my wonderful but long-ignored Lucy Neatby Equilateral Triangle Vest. Or those are the things I can remember right now, sitting here.

I have ends to work in on a rug I started years ago and finished a few months ago. I may use it as a lap blanket rather than a rug, though! I also have a Sally Melville Funnel Neck I converted to machine knitting… finished except for sewing together. Machine knitting uses a lot of waste yarn instead of a cast on, so there are yarn ends everywhere, some useful and some ready to be removed from the garment… it looks a mess but will be pretty when I get it sewn together.

And then there are bags and bins of projects I’ve started with students taking my classes. A barely started Basketweave Rug, a cast on for a Watercolor Bag, at minimum. I think I have a Fast Florida Footie somewhere, and an almost finished set of bulky First-Time Toe-Up sock footies. Whew! And that’s what I remember without going over and looking into the overflowing “projects in progress” box behind the couch.

For now? I’m satisfied that I did a good job on taxes this day off, and I’m ready to sleep. I start the day with Turkish-Style Toe-Up socks tomorrow with Irene at Threadbear. It will start the day right.

Image added next morning: Cat with toy knit for him by his human mom, my student Lauren. He loves it! He was throwing it in the air and catching it, I’m surprised I was able to get this photo for all the action…

Miracle of Miracles!

Monday, March 20th, 2006

(This post isn’t too creative… will talk knitting next, I have great photos of CityKidz Knit and a few classes coming soon…)

OK, maybe some of you know that the title of this entry is from a lyric in Fiddler on the Roof. Altu’s daughter is playing the third daughter in the East Lansing High School production of that show for a few weeks and I saw it Saturday. She’s a lovely, talented young lady and I’m proud to know her.

The miracle? Not a musical at all. Months ago I replaced my hard drive. I’d intended to use Ghost software to not lose any data, not need to install software again, etc. Well, my Sony VAIO Pentium III had an unusual hard drive setup, where one disk was broken down into a drive C: and a drive D:, and that or something else made it so that Ghost refused to play nice.

Fortunately, Brian is good with fixing machines, so he installed the new drive and the basic software that came with the laptop when I got it years ago. But all of my unusual programs (and I have many) I had to re-install. I’m pretty good at backing up so I had most of the install programs on another computer in the house.

Well, I use a Palm device (An old Handspring Visor Neo black and white which goes 5-6 weeks on two AAA batteries) to keep my schedule. And without it I’m lost. I have a different schedule every day… every week can be very different. I only have a few appointments that stay standard each week.

I installed my calendar program. I couldn’t find an archive of my synchronizing program so bought another, installed, and thought I was good to go.

I was wrong. It looked like the laptop and the palm were talking to one another, but they were not. And it took me a while to figure out that there was a problem. Even longer to figure out what might be wrong (I use an unusual, older, calendar program which requires an unusual, older, synchronizing program). I had version 5.1 of the synchronizer program and I needed 5.1.1. Really. And of course the new one is nowhere to be found even on the Internet used market.

I spent hours looking into new calendar programs but none presented the one feature I really wanted. I realized that if I had a new program I’d need a new palm device because they assume you have something newer, higher-powered, and in color. I like mine with the large, easy to read screen.

Brian found a backup copy of the synchronizing program on our main computer at home. I had not been able to see it because I’m not the main administrator on that machine. And somehow I was able to find the email from February 2003, with the key code to activate the program.

It took over a half hour last night for my palm device to synchronize. But when I was done, I had only one overbooked appointment and that can be remedied. Whew!

So I get to keep my beloved Handspring palm device (see photo, I embellished it with fingernail polish in January 2004) and my very useful Lotus Organizer 5, a really old program that does just what I want.

Off to lunch with Tony, followed by teaching some computer classes. At least I taught one hour of knitting today, that’s the only creativity on the schedule until after dinner.

Spring in Texas

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

flowers by KarenMy cousin, Karen, lives in Texas. We’d be the best of friends if we lived closer together, I’m sure of it… but thanks to email and my weblog, we’re closer than we’ve ever been.

She writes that she finished a Guitar-Trim Herringbone Hat this week, I’m hoping we’ll see a photo one of these days. Meanwhile, she sent a photo of spring in her yard this week. Azaleas blooming like CRAZY! OK, there’s a bit of distance between Texas and Michigan… but it gives me hope.

Karen writes:

…spring has sprung–I can see the new leaves on the live oaks in our front yard from where I’m sitting now, the salvia that wintered over is about to bloom, and our azaleas are just a mass of hot pink blooms…with freckles!

I remember going to Karen’s wedding in April once upon a time. I was just blown away with the hugeness of some of the flowers, and the amazing loud colors that I saw everywhere, flower after flower after flower. Azalea bushes like this one, and hybiscus with flowers the size of plates, or so it seemed. And flowers I’d never heard of before. Everything truly seemed larger than life in Houston that spring.

Then I got home and spring was just starting here in Michigan. It seemed that all the flowers on the fruit trees were either white or the palest of pink. The trees looked so soft, almost fluffy, with the multitudes of tiny flowers on them.

I then understood the unique beauty of a Lansing, Michigan spring. It’s soft and slow and subtle, gentle and feminine. It’s lovely in its own way. At first I was let down, as I do love color with a punch. But I grew to understand that the beauty in my part of the world grows slowly while we are looking at other things. By July, things are really gorgeous and we have bright patches of color, too. But spring is a softness in my town.

Karen, thanks for sharing this lovely photo. Hope springs eternal, as they say… we’ll have color soon enough.

Photos from Classes

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

Sophia I’ve had some wonderful classes lately. For some reason I didn’t get photos of the First-Time Toe-Up Socks (FTTU) in the Thursday morning group at Rae’s that finished just over a week ago.

Fortunately, I did get a photo of the sole student in the Thursday night FTTU class. Here’s Sophia (a relatively new knitter who is clearly thrilled with her first pair of socks.. she’s only showing one but there were two). She’s showing off a sock and her two trained therapy dogs, Arpeggio and Chloe. Don’t they all look happy?

Next I have photos of another one-person sock class. This one is my Turkish Toe-Up Sock with Irene B. at Threadbear. We had some great fun… the sock starts with a wrapped cast-on, it is a lot of needles and very few stitches for a handful of rounds. Irene started playing with making her sock toe into a spider, so I joined her in the fun. I am pretty sure this will not inspire non-socknitters to dive in and knit these, but I found it so funny! This is what fanatical, totally-obsessed knitters just might do for a good time, my friends!

The third photo is the same class. At this point there are more stitches than needles and the toe has been started quite nicely on Irene’s amazing sock.

Irene can’t remember what brand of yarn it is, but it’s a superwash DK-weight wool yarn she bought at Threadbear a few weeks back. (Maybe Rob can tell us?) Incredible stuff, very bright, no mud and no dingy green that happens in so many rainbow skeins. On my monitor one color looks orange but it’s really a sunny yellow. Irene is loving this yarn, and I must confess I love it, too. Could you guess?

Notice that this sock has a more triangular toe than we typically knit in this society/age. This sock pattern I wrote is based on an actual sock from Turkey that I own (lucky me). You can see pictures of that sock in my August 28, 2003 blog entry called “Fanatical Details on Turkish Socks” (the cream/turquoise/black pair). That entry actually goes into detail on four different pairs I was very lucky to receive at that time. All four of those pair have pointy toes, two of them with tufts for decoration at the tip of the toe (I understand they are often worn inside without shoes).

I’ve been knitting on my sock to match hers, this week, as I wait in line here and there. I’m almost ready for my heel. My hope is that I’ll actually complete this pair during the three weeks of the class.

Irene's sock toePast Classes
I think I took a photo of Chris’ ColorJoy Stole project beginning (from several weeks ago) but it never got up here. She just sent me a gift box (you are sweet, Chris!) containing items I give my students in that class. She’s helping those in the next class, even though she doesn’t know them. How caring is that?

Chris drove all the way to Threadbear from Eastpointe, I think that’s about two hours one way… I was honored to have her as my student. And we had some great fun once she got here!!!

Chris also sent a photo of her ColorJoy Stole project (gorgeous) so I will have to try to scan that in at Foster Center. My scanner doesn’t work with Windows XP and since I have a digital camera now, I never bought a new one. It’s nice to have access to the one at Foster on the few occasions I want to use one. If I remember while I’m there, that is!

The Need to Finish
I’m sort of down about how many projects I have up in the air right now. I have not been able to get to my Olympic knitting since last Friday at Bloomiefest. I just can’t do thinking knitting with anyone around and when I’m home I’m usually on the computer, not knitting.

But then, I also know that March is a month where it’s easy to feel down. I will keep on keeping on and see how I do. I never finish everything, but I finish many things given time. I stay on projects, I keep plugging even if I put them down for months at a time. But sometimes I can’t afford (emotionally) to start one more thing until I finish something. Anything! Maybe the Toe-Up Turkish Socks will fill that bill. I hope. Right now I’m just on sock 1, but I’ll keep plugging and hope to get the second at the right spot for Wednesday’s class. I’m really happy with how this dye job works with the slip stitch detail on the top front of the sock. Lovely.

Polymer Clay Buttons for Me
They say the shoemaker’s kids have no shoes. Often that’s sort of how it goes with me. If I knit using my yarns, it’s for samples and I don’t get to wear the items. And buttons? I almost never get to keep my own polymer work anymore.

So when one ordinary brown button fell off my bright yellowish-green corduroy coat, I could have just sewn back that button. After all, it takes 9 buttons (double breasted with a single button at top collar) and I didn’t have any pre-made in the size I needed, anyway.

But I love turquoise and green together, and I don’t like brown, and darn it all, I had some turquoise polymer and yellow-green motifs on my work table because of some buttons I made for Jillian a few months back. So I dropped everything last night and made turquoise buttons with blue/white/yellow patterns on them. And tonight I sewed the buttons on my coat. They really look great!

We’ll see how they work out. They won’t break, I’m very good at that part of quality control. However, they could be thin enough to be sort of rubbery/bendy. When I make buttons to sell, they are what I call Chunky-Funky Buttons, big and fat and sturdy. I know they won’t bend or break, and they are great for a felted purse or a big wrap. I’ve made tiny shirt-sized buttons before for myself, but they made me crazy, they were too fussy to produce.

If these medium-sized matched buttons work out, maybe I’ll expand my button line. Or not, depending on the time available (did I say that?) and my inclination to do matching things. I’m not really inclined to make matching anything, most of the time. And I sure seem to have enough on my plate, already!

Studying Crochet
I’m trying to figure out what project I’ll do in crochet class for the next 3 weeks. This week we mostly covered things I have learned in previous classes (this is my third crochet class, but the longest one I’ve taken before was 4 hours on one day and this one is four weeks, 2.5 hours a week).

I’d love to crochet a rug but I’m not sure I’d learn much making a flat rectangle. I am leaning toward a laptop bag or messenger bag, preferably felted. I’d rather find a pattern so that I can practice following other folks’ instructions. I seem to do fine making up crocheted things but I want to learn to follow others. We’ll see, I have a week to settle on something there. Anyone out there who has tried a pattern they liked?

Signing off for now…