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Archive for March, 2006

News Flash! First Flower of Spring!

Friday, March 17th, 2006

flowerStop the presses! There was a single blossom in our yard this morning!!! I took this photo on my way to crochet class this morning, about 10:25am.

The National Weather Service says that at 3:55pm today it was 38F (3.3C). I’m here to say the sky was especially beautiful today, and I got some time to appreciate it. We had about 60% fluffy white clouds, and behind that you could actually see an amazing sky; blue, almost with a tinge of purple. The sun shone and it was like a picture postcard.

Brian and I went on a short walk. I enjoyed being out there without needing layers and layers of wool to protect me from the cold.

I have to admit, this flower just picked a lucky place to grow. It is at the join between the foundation of the house and the soil, on the south side. It gets more sun than most places in our yard at this time of year, and it happens to be directly under the hot-air exhaust of the clothes dryer. Not so close as to get cooked, but close enough to be teased that it might actually be warm outside occasionally. Silly plant, to believe such things!

I don’t care what artificial means it took to bloom. I was overjoyed with this tiny flower (it’s about the size of the tip of my smallest finger). I first thought it was a violet, as we have them growing wild on that side of the house. They are usually the first to bloom each year.

But looking at this photo (now that it is dark outside), I think it is a periwinkle/myrtle bloom. We have a lot of this ground cover on two sides of the house, it does very well in the mostly-shady yard. It definitely would not have bloomed this soon if it were not in the dryer-vent area.

We also have several daffodil buds growing fatter right now, and the daylilies are pushing up spring green shoots. I think it’s too early to say we won’t have more frost/snow, but the daffodils are optimistic. I’ll take it, for today!

Bloomiefest 2006 Pictures

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

bloomiefestWell, looks like I’ll be taking a Crochet class at Threadbear for the next 4 Friday mornings. I’m up too late to get there with enough sleep but I got caught up a bit last night, anyway.

bloomiefestI really want to understand crochet more, I don’t think I’ll ever be more fond of it than Knitting but they do work well hand in hand. I’d particularly like to make a laptop case in crochet, and a rug or two or seven. I like single crochet a lot, and tapestry crochet and afghan stitch. I’m not really big on double or triple crochets as a base fabric, though they work well in combination with other stitches as edgings (such as on my mohair Bloom Shawl).

bloomiefestSo I’m presenting to you a lot of photos, finally developed, from Bloomiefest. Not much text, but hopefully the photos will talk a little for themselves.

bloomiefestFirst photo, a general idea of what Bloomiefest is. We all hang out in one large room and play with whatever fiber thing it is that strikes our fancy. It included spinning on wheels and drop spindles and spindolyns, knitting, weaving, needlefelting, tatting, and surely more I can’t think of right now. In the photo, left to right, I think is Viki’s back, Anita, Val o/o, Sue, Maggie’s back (wearing a gorgeous handmade Mexican ruana with embroidery), and Angel.

bloomiefestSecond photo is Diane wearing her map of the world sweater. Cool. What else can be said about that? Third photo is Sue, Sherri and Maggie at the Japanese Steakhouse Saturday night. Most of the participants went to a highly-rated Italian place, but a few of us who were either adventurous or allergic to Italian food options, went for Japanese and had a wonderful time.

bloomiefestNext is Sherri at her lotions/soaps/candles (and rovings) booth, wearing her “Queen of Lotions and Potions” T-Shirt. After that is a skein of yarn spun by Faith on a spindle during the weekend. We loved it, and determined that the yellow was a wild card in the roving, no way to know if it would be nice or awful when spun. In the end, the yellow turned out the bit that made the yarn incredible rather than just nice.

Last is a ball of yarn spun on a drop spindle by Jeanie (using rovings dyed by my friend Rae in Lansing) and the start of a knitted project using the spun yarn. Pretty, huh?

I had a very nice time, met new friends, enjoyed the company of those I knew from previous years. I knit a bit, I sold well, and I’m happy I went.

Beware the Moods of March

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

I used to volunteer, for about 6 years, with an organization of young college women. Every March they hated each other. The girls rotated, with significantly different members each year… the issues they got mad about changed, but it was regular as rain. In April, they would be buddies again.

Wed. I had a magical time with my CityKidz Knit! program because they heard me defending/protecting them from some older bullies. I lived on that feeling for the day, then went home and got moody with my beloved Brian. Several of my email lists are having rough times right now, as well.

Remember, if you feel upset, it might just be the time of year. See if you can just sit on it for 2 weeks. If you still find it an issue then, perhaps that would be the time to pursue it. I wish I’d remembered that last night.

What day off?

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

I thought I’d get Bloomiefest photos up Tuesday. After all, I didn’t have any classes/guild meetings planned. But I was sooo tired that I slept till 11 trying to make up for the lost sleep this weekend. And then I spent a bunch of time doing the business paperwork behind the busy weekend I had.

I did get to go to Rae’s for a while, which was quite fun. I’m always running into people I know there and today was no exception (Hi, Luann! I know you read this…). And then I went to dinner at Altu’s, and ran into more people I know.

On the way home I had a drama-queen moment when my car decided to secure itself without my input, locking all doors with the keys on the front seat after I’d popped the hood. But as I have said here before, people are usually good and that made everything work out.

I was at the corner gas station exactly 1.5 miles from my house, where I typically go when my car needs service. Our friend John works there. John knew this guy who was there filling up the tank, knew the guy has a business about 6-8 blocks from my house.

Guy and kid were on their way home from a basketball game, not in a huge hurry. Guy (Jim from Hyacinth House Greenhouses near Mt. Hope and Pennsylvania, to be specific) took me home so I could get a key and get into my car. He offered to take me back to the gas station when I got the key.

Lucky me, when I got home Brian had just arrived there from work. So Brian and I took his key to my car at the gas station, and all was well.

Remember, there are good people all over if we don’t allow ourselves to be afraid at inappropriate times. I am grateful I can see this. It sure helped me out today.

You know, I used to really enjoy the energy of drama queen stuff. Today I was not into it, I figured out a few plans that might work to make things turn around.

I didn’t flip out or get depressed that things were not going smoothly, but I didn’t need to moan and groan and derail the rest of the day because of it, either. I think I’m growing up a little.

Knitting content? Not much. I forgot my knitting when I went out to Rae’s and Altu’s. I finished one sample sock (slipper footie in fun, fat yarn) for Rae’s shop so will take that to her probably Thursday.

This photo is my friend Sue from Bloomiefest… from the 2004 event. She had just dyed yarn with Kool-Aid and it looked great. This year’s pictures as soon as I can sit still at the computer and edit a big pile o’photos.

Soggy, Springlike Day

Monday, March 13th, 2006

I got home from Bloomiefest at 2:45 am and pretty much fell straight into bed, leaving the car to be mostly unpacked on Monday. I had a great time, took a bunch o’pictures and probably will have time to process them and post them on Tuesday. Mondays are just a very busy day for me, I start at 10:45am and go till 8:00pm teaching… with a long lunch, thank goodness, in the middle (where I today will run errands to bank and yarn shops, but this is good). No time for PhotoShop.

And let me tell you, I will be sleeping in late tomorrow morning! We have a special election tomorrow and I sure hope no campaign decides to call and wake me before I’m ready to get up!

It is really windy right now, it was hard to keep the car going in a straight line on the highway for part of the trip last night. The good news? It’s nearly 60F/15.5C degrees out. The last time I saw snow was nearly a week ago. It has been raining since Thursday and the grass is just soggy from all the water, but this will make happy plants when spring truly arrives. (No, this isn’t the last of snow, I’m sure of that, but it’s a lovely break.) With this wind, who knows what new weather pattern will blow in, but I’m happy with warmth and a little sun today.

I heard a lot of birds making noise this noon, and the sun somehow is creating shadows though the sky appears mostly full of big fluffy white clouds, some promising more rain.

I noticed last week that the squirrels had come to frantic life and were dodging car tires in this neighborhood at every possible opportunity. They sure did not evolve to survive city traffic well! The grass in the yard has holes in it where the squirrels apparently found nuts stored. Good for them!

Knit News
Today at my high school knitting program, I was video-interviewed by a student (it was her first interview) about my experiences with knitting. It will be shown on the public access channel for the Lansing Schools, I’m not sure when. I did not know this was going to happen, but I’m a ham and always game to be on camera. We’ll see if that amounts to anything.

OK, I’m off to print out handouts for my computer class students and get going on the next part of my busy Monday. Let’s hope I can do a little Bloomiefest report tomorrow when I don’t have any classes to teach.

Bloomie is Festive

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

It was a day of knitting, eating, talking, knitting, eating, talking and more knitting. I knit a little on a pair of socks for me out of my own Tiptoe Sock yarn, and a little on a Button Hat kit, and a little on my Aspen Sweater, and more on my olympic knitting top/vest than I’ve done in almost a week. I have to remember to decrease on every other round for the socks and every row on the top at this point, and I’m not good at remembering intermittent things while chatting, but I haven’t ripped much.

My Aspen sweater back is ready to join to three other pieces that are not yet cast on/started. So really, right now I’m best off doing the socks or hat for low-stress, low-focus knitting.

Four of us went to dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse (the others had Italian). It’s a new place in town, just a few months. It was good entertainment and good food. My friends all ate something which was prepared at the grill table where we sat. I was really happy to have some avocado rolls, cucumber rolls, edamame (steamed soybeans in the pod) and a small portion of smoked salmon sushi. Yes, raw fish but smoked rather than totally raw. It’s actually quite tasty if you throw away pre-conceived ideas of what food should be/not be.

It was sort of fun to knit in public at the Japanese restaurant. Two of us were knitting and one was spinning yarn on a drop spindle (a very portable way to make yarn). We had a few curious looks. We enjoyed the looks very much!

Then, of course, we went back to the hotel to knit and talk again. Now it’s past 2am here and past 3am at home. Bedtime. I did take photos but they will need to wait.

At Bloomiefest

Saturday, March 11th, 2006

I found my way to Bloomington, Illinois and my friends at Bloomiefest. I got here later than I wanted (I tend to run late especially when it involves lugging things around and overnight stays) but I still had time to mostly set up the booth before they closed down the conference room for the night. We start again at 9am, slightly early for me but I’ll make it.

You know, it’s the little things that make life easier. Friends helped me lug my stuff from the car and do some of the set up. Then my room had both a small microwave and refrigerator… for someone like me who has to bring much of her food, that was a wonderful happy surprise. Then the hotel had fast wireless Internet. This hotel isnt’ as fancy looking as the one where we met the last 2-3 years, but I’m liking the service at the front desk and the conveniences in my room, much better.

The only down side is that my friend who was going to share a room with me, couldn’t make it. Maybe she will come tomorrow, maybe not. I enjoy her company so much, and we only see one another at Bloomiefest, so I’ll be bummed if she can’t come.

However, there are old friends here and new ones yet to meet. This will be the most fun a person can have working, I think!

THREADS IN SPACE: fiber art in the 21st century

Friday, March 10th, 2006

(Call for Submissions)

July 2006

A show of fiber and textiles with an emphasis on knit and crochet. What sorts of artwork is being done with threads as a major component. curated by Susan Hensel & Lynn DT Hershberger www.colorjoy.com

The show is expected to travel to at least one venue in Michigan for the month of August or September.

fiber dominant artwork with thread/string/yarn as a major component or inspiration. Installation, free standing sculpture, wall or ceiling mounts welcome (10.5 foot ceilings)

Send accurate slides,photos, jpgÂ’s, MAC compatible cd-rom, or drawings of the work you plan to show, with SASE for return, or Email high quality jpgÂ’s. Written explanation of the work is welcomed. Appointments may be made for in-person viewing of

Accepted artists will be expected to provide a resume and artistÂ’s statement about their work and any available press clippings. Accepted artists will be asked to provide client lists as well.

The gallery keeps 40% of the sale price. The artist receives 60% of the sale price.

Susan Hensel Design carries a basic loss policy that will pay the artist 60% of the sale price in the event of theft or total loss. The gallery building also has a security system and residential occupancy.

All shipping costs are the responsibility of the artist.

1000-2500 postcards will be distributed local, area and national press kits will be sent email and fax publicity
and your help planning guerrilla marketing.

• slides, jpg’s, photos for up to 3 works, w/ SASE, slides due: May 15 ,2006
• accepted work due June 30, 2006with return shipping enclosed. UPS or FED EX ONLY. No COD’s
• artists reception Saturday, July 8, 5-9 pm
• all work picked up at end of show

Susan Hensel Gallery
a gallery of Narrative Art
3441 Cedar Ave. S,
Minneapolis, MN 55407

phone/fax 612 722-2324

Susan Hensel
BFA ’72, U of Michigan

Dyeing Yarn

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

I’m dyeing yarn this week for a knitting retreat in Bloomington/Normal Illinois which starts Friday. The retreat is called Bloomiefest (doesn’t have a web page but does have a Yahoo Group). We meet and do all things fiber-artsy for Friday/Sat/Sun and for some even Thursday night or Monday morning. Some folks just come in for one day… if you’re interested do send me an email and I’ll get you contact information.

I’ll be selling my yarns and it looks like I may be taking Rae’s handpainted rovings as well. In the past, I was the second fiber vendor next to a woman who has a yarn/fiber shop. She brought lots of spinning/feltmaking supplies so I didn’t overlap her merchandise in that area. Now I found out a few days ago she won’t be at the retreat this year, so it looks as though Rae will help me make sure the participants can get fiber for their spinning wheels/feltmaking projects if they wish.

Of course, this last-minute push means I’m in the basement studio rather than at my computer for hours at a time… making pretty things that won’t likely make it to the website. Forgive my relative silence until I get back on Sunday night, it will be “catch as catch can” until then.

Gerald Ross’ New Website

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Our musical friend, Gerald Ross, has a newly designed website. There is a good deal of instrumental music there to download. He’s very talented at guitar, Hawaiian Steel Guitar, and Ukulele. His site says, in part:

(Gerald’s) musical virtuosity and entertaining mix of swing, blues, Hawaiian, Tin Pan Alley and American roots music are a joy to hear.

And eclectic? When the mood strikes him, he will pick up a mandolin, bass, charango, banjo, harmonica, Cajun accordion and, as mentioned, the ukulele.

Perhaps you would like to go check it out.

An Early Taste (Tease?) of Spring

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

sun in LansingThe sun is shining in Lansing. There was not a cloud in the sky earlier, now we have a fine film of very high feathery clouds but it has not changed the sunshine. There are still piles of snow in many places, but you can see grass more than snow. It’s 45F (7.2C) degrees out there, mothers are pushing strollers, but it’s still relatively quiet in the neighborhood.

My friend April called from across the street and said she saw crocus shoots pushing up through the soil in her yard. No flowers, it’s significantly too early for that, but anything green is exciting right now.

Here’s a photo from the same angle I often use (from my porch facing south) to show you changes in the weather here. You can see there is still snow here and there, and the grass/sky have relatively little color. However, sharp shadows are so rare in Michigan this time of year, I’m really celebrating that sunshine!!!

Mom Gets the Gold! (And Silver, and Bronze…)

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

My mother just called. She is in the Polk County Senior Games (it’s a Senior Olympics, the largest one in Florida) this week and last. So far she and Fred have won 4 gold, 4 silver, and 1 or 2 bronze medals in ballroom dancing, and Mom won two silver for the 50 yard and 100 yard dashes. (She has one more event this week, a longer walk where she doesn’t expect a medal.) Go mom!

She said they won Gold in all the “fun” dances, which I think includes Polka, Jitterbug and Twist. She said they were the only ones in their age group to enter the Twist, so they could do anything they wanted. They got goofy a little but won the gold just for having the guts (and stamina) to participate! Good for them.

They are in the age group for folks in their 70s, but Fred can still pull Mom through his legs in the Jitterbug. That always brings the crowd to a roar!!!

I hope I’m like my mom when I grow up. She rocks!

Three Works in Progress (WIPs)

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

I did a lot of running around on Monday. I taught at the High School in the morning, had lunch at New Aladdin’s with Tony, then ran a few errands (pharmacy, copy center, etc.) and went to Haslett on the far side of Greater Lansing to teach two computer classes. On the way home I picked up Japanese food (yum) and my mail at the Post Office.

While I was out and about, between all these places, I was knitting. Nothing is making great progress, because I have four projects going and all need differing amounts of attention depending on where I am at the moment I’m needing a project.

I am slowly working on my top/vest, the one I did for Knitting Olympics and then ripped out. Just now I finished what I think is the last increase row for the lapel. I may be off 4 rows but I have the right number of stitches, so I’ll look at it again when I’m not falling asleep at the keyboard.

The smallest of the projects is a very-simple Red Heart Acrylic rectangle on size 3 needles, which will be bound off and sewn into a water bottle “cozy.” Not fancy but I’m trying to inspire the kidz in the high school project I started not even two months ago. I do have a few regulars but many of them can’t really picture possible projects they could do. This is easy but takes a few more stitches than a wristband. I hope it goes over. I’ll give it to the woman whose classroom we use, so folks will see her using it. I don’t like the feel of synthetics so I knit this project only when I’m with the kidz at the school, or if I get stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for a train in the car. It will be another week or two before that’s done.

Another project is the bulky Aspen sweater. I’m nearly done with the second ball of yarn and it’s an impressive size already. It’s a K1P1 rib which doesn’t always make me smile, but the yarn is SO easy to work with, that I did this project while waiting at the pharmacy.

The last project is legwarmers in turquoise. Yum. I cranked on the beginning of this project in Ann Arbor the other day, but then I had to readjust and decide how much to increase and where, for the top part (I’m making them up as I go). Now I’ve increased and I’m probably almost halfway up the first one. These will be wonderful once they are done.

Oh, Man! Falling asleep at keyboard… seeya later.

Adventures with the Boyz

Monday, March 6th, 2006

I taught polymer clay to seven enthusiastic women at Threadbear Fiberarts on Sunday. (The Boyz I mention in the title, are the two owners of the shop, Rob and Matt.)

We had fun, fun, fun! Well, early on we struggled with a batch of too-crumbly clay, but we persevered through all that and made some very wonderful things. Here is a photo of the first tray of goodies we put in my portable oven.

I had a chance to chat with Rob a bit on the way out the door for the night. This sweater was on a mannequin near the front door. This would be Rob’s Olympic Knitting project. It’s a particularly wearable sweater, wouldn’t you say? It’s a Colinette project, a tape yarn. You can read about this sweater challenge and other knitting adventures at his blog, Black Dog.

For the record, I’m knitting on three different projects right now. I am still slowly plugging away on my own Knitting Olympics project (the Sally Melville Purl Stitch Cross-Over Top from her Purl Stitch book).

It was worth ripping out the front pieces of this project down to the armholes, because this time I am matching the pattern so far. I think this might actually work! It’s just slow going because of smallish needles, splitty yarn requiring constant watching of each stitch, and purling a lot more than usual. Never mind I’m back to full-tilt in my business (no more vacation which is fine) and that means less personal knitting time.

I’m also about 7 or 8 inches into the Aspen bulky sweater. It goes fast and I can knit that in the dark (did so on the way back from Ann Arbor in the car, on Saturday night).

And yesterday I started a legwarmer in the turquoise/multi yarn I got at Threadbear a week ago on sale. I thought then and still think that I’d love to own a sweater made of this yarn. I’m not sure I’d love to knit that sweater, though! We’ll see if I give in to the temptation, but I need to deal with the two tops I have in process already, before I do yet another.

I did catch up with all the weekend photos but now I’ll need to take some knitting photos for you. Monday is rough, I teach 3 classes, so no promises as to when the photos will show up. Have as good a Monday as you can, my friends!