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Archive for May, 2006

Happy Birthday, Brian.

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Fabulous HeftonesMy beloved Brian has his birthday today.

What can I say? My life is just something now that it never could have been alone. I was content without him, but I’m twice the person now that he is on my team. I have many karmic hiccups, so to speak… yet he loves me fully, with his eyes wide open.

He is *my* gift. What could I give him on his special day? I baked, and I sang with him. We went for an evening walk together. Thank goodness, for Brian that is enough.

OK, I’m a sap. I’m crying. How lucky am I? To love that much, ten years after I met the man… I’m very lucky indeed.

Happy, happy birthday, Brian. You make my life sing.

Saturday Clay Class

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

A LynnH Polymer Clay ClassI’m teaching “Playing with Clay” (polymer clay) at Rae’s Yarn Boutique this Saturday. Anyone want to join us? Here’s the description from her website:

Learn fun techniques with polymer clay to create custom buttons for your knitted garments, add creative toppers to your knitting needles, or make stunning custom grip crochet hooks. Plan on a 10-15 dollar material fee for clay and tools.

The class is $30 to Rae. Materials costs will depend on what you take home with you… $10.50 for three clay colors plus a slicing blade… if you have any at home, bring them with you. Bring boring metal crochet hooks if you want to remake them with a fine handle. I’ll bring a few pens you can cover, too, if you wish. It’s always a good time. I’ve taught polymer for years… you will love your first efforts, guaranteed, and it only gets better from there.

I’m thinking I may play with handles for felted bags. (It could be a challenge since most clays are somewhat flexible, but the only way to know is to try.) Sounds fun to me!

Please consider joining us for a few hours this Saturday afternoon. It is going to be a lot of fun.

Photo: One student (Deborah, I think) at work in my last clay class at Rae’s.

Warmth, Finally!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

HouseWe had the most magnificent, sunny, hot (*very* hot) weather this weekend. After last weekend with a frost warning and then a week of rain, I personally welcomed the heat with glee.

I must confess, I once got so cold and wet (on the back of a motorcycle when I was a young adult) I thought I’d never warm up, so I have a different take on being cold than other people. And even before that, I did not tolerate cold very well. So my favorite temperature is 84F/29C. Room temp is somewhere around 68F according to someone… I keep the house at 72 most of winter and sometimes kick it up to 74 (and sit on the heat vent wrapped in blankets) when I just can’t get warm.

Monday it got up past 97F/36C, according to our own indoor/outdoor thermometer. That is hot even for me. I like hot, I really do… but I have to dress properly, not go too fast, drink lots of cool fluids and just plain slow down life a bit when it’s that warm.

PorchSo I gave in and went to Threadbear for a few hours on Monday. They were air conditioned but not too much. Since it was a holiday it was busy enough to find good company but not swamped as it can be at times. Just right. I of course ended up with some sale yarn and two balls of washable merino baby yarn for socks. Like I need more yarn? Not at all, but I’m pleased with the purchases I made.

When I got home, Brian and I ate dinner (salads) on the porch. It’s a great porch, we had it built only a few years ago so it’s sturdy and well-thought-out. And the floor/steps are painted a lilac-purple with salmon trim (the house is white, the roof red). Just right for me.

Last year we did not use the porch much, because a bridge was out for construction very near our house most of the summer. Anyone who knew about our street, took a shortcut past our house to get around the bridge construction. I counted several times nine or more cars in a minute. It was not a good porch year. But this year is already making up for it. Sunday I sat out there and I did not see a car for many minutes. Heaven.

We went for a walk just as the sun was setting. It was down around 83F at that point with a slight breeze and it seemed the entire neighborhood was out for a walk at the same time.

After dark, we rehearsed as we usually do, and then I felted/shrunk a new striped bag I’m writing a pattern for. You know, a new bag is always a worry until you actually get it in that washer and see the bag in its proper size. It’s adorable. I’m thrilled. You’ll see photos once it dries and acquires handles.

Photos today? House from street corner, porch viewed from my hammock. Both from previous years’ posts.

Ben’s Musical Offerings

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Mystic ShakeMy music friend, Ben Hassenger, is a busy dude. He has been in the band Mystic Shake for longer than I’ve known him. He and Pat Malloy from that band sing as a duo called Blue Jell-O. Sometimes they play at Altu’s (their next musical performance at Altu’s is July 29). And Ben is always writing songs, either alone or with Pat. He’s in a songwriting group or two or seven.

He also coordinates the “Music Under the Pines” house concerts. Brian and I opened for Mystic Shake at the first concert they had. Great fun!

So when Ben writes, I listen. Today this is what he says:

Thursday, June 1: Ben Hassenger with Songwriters Anonymous (that link is a Myspace page with songwriters listed) at the Coffee Beanery in Ferndale, on Woodward just south of 9 Mile. Join Ben and his songwriter buddies from 7:00 – 9:30 at this nice little spot in the Detroit area and listen to some great original acoustic music.

Saturday, June 3: Mystic Shake will be playing at the annual Be a Tourist in Your Own Town celebration – come see why Lansing is such a great place to live and play! We will perform from 1:00 – 3:00 by the Impressions 5 Museum, go to http://www.lansing.org/batyot/ for more details.

Sunday, June 4: Music Under the Pines presents Mustard’s Retreat wsg Drew Nelson. Our first outdoor concert of the season present some great traditional and contemporary folk music. The fun starts at 6:00 in Haslett, go to www.mysticshake.com/mutp.html for more details and to request an invitation and get directions to the show.

So folks… if you are local enough to be able to attend, please put these dates on your calendars. I’m a big fan of Tourist in Your Own Town… and my brother is friends with some of the Mustard’s Retreat folks, so I’ll be trying to make as many of these concerts myself, as possible.

The photo today is Mystic Shake at the Music Under the Pines concert where we opened for this band. Ben is the one smiling at the front microphone.

Belated East Lansing Art Festival Photos

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

Wally Pleasant at East Lansing Art FairLast weekend was East Lansing Art Festival. Altu had a booth for her restaurant so I went there on Sunday to try and help her out. She had enough help so I was sort of an extra, and that allowed me time to listen to some good music and take a few photographs.

Wally Pleasant at East Lansing Art FairThe first photo is Wally Pleasant on the left, with Brian (yes, my husband) backing him up on the right. For this song he was playing banjo but he also plays mandolin, fiddle, whatever Wally asks him to play for any particular song. They have been performing together off and on since before I knew Brian, over a decade. I always enjoy hearing Wally sing.

Wally Pleasant at East Lansing Art FairThe second photo is our friends in the band Steppin’ in It on the main stage. The light was not so good to take photos but they sure did a great show! This photo was taken during their Harmonica Trio piece. Very cool.

The person wearing a melon colored knit hat at bottom left of that 2nd photo is Tinisha, who I’ve mentioned here before. She has knit a pair of socks. A pair, not a sock. And actually, I think a third sock as well. I have known Tinisha for a while… she graduates from East Lansing High School this week. Congratulations, Grrl!

Oh, and last but not least… a photo of Mariam (who has finished one sock, this week) and Tinisha dancing together near the smaller stage, right after Wally’s concert ended. I love photographing dancers. Talk about being alive! This is the essence of celebrating life, I think. (Never mind it was REALLY cold, many folks were wearing winter coats… and these girls could warm up a bit by dancing. Mariam really was chilly when I caught up with her that day. Now, a week later, it’s 86 degrees F/30C, go figure.)

Chicago

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

Chicago was a nice getaway. I didn’t really see much of Chicago other than a hazy skyline (and backed-up traffic paying for the Skyway bridge followed by construction on 90-94). But a glimpse of a skyline is fuel for me, it fills me up with creative energy and enthusiasm for a while.

I left Lansing around 11am, spent 65 minutes waiting to pay a toll which delayed me quite a bit (thank goodness I had knitting in the car), and got there about 5 hours later (usually it’s 3.5-4hr). My friend and I went out to dinner and I had some nice grilled salmon and steamed broccoli. We talked until it would have been rude to stay any longer (the waitress needs to have more than one table/tip all night) so we went back to where she lives and chatted. And drank tea, and chatted. And chatted some more. Until it had been dark a long while. I was there about seven hours.

And then I drove home. Thank goodness, traffic was great on the way home. I did stop at a Denny’s for tea in Kalamazoo and rested a while with my eyes closed, then drove again. I finally got home around 4am.

I’m glad I went.

One Week Ago: Applewood Public Gardens

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Fabulous Heftones at ApplewoodAbout one week ago (Saturday), Brian and I sang at Applewood Public Gardens in Flint, Michigan. This was once the CW Mott estate (he was VP of General Motors in the early days, was on the board of GM for 60 years) and is run and maintained by the Ruth Mott Foundation.

The house was built in 1918, a perfect venue for our early-1900’s music. Especially now that we have a CD called “In the Garden,” with songs about flowers and gardens and birds and rainbows. You know? It makes me happy.

The gardens are only opened to the public about once a month, so the horticulturists on staff are able to do just a splendid job of keeping things very tidy and beautiful.

Here is a photo my mom’s friend Barb took of us, and a shot I took of the garden where we sang (there are many gardens on the grounds). It was very cold so I wore a long dress with jacket and the ColorJoy Stole that my sister-in-law, Diana, knit for my Mom’s 70th birthday. Mom’s stole is more dense and larger than any of mine and she was happy to loan it out for a day.

I also was wearing a vintage velveteen beret. The label makes me think it is from the 1940’s, perhaps. The lining of the hat shows many hat pin perforations. It says London/New York on the label. A very fine hat, indeed.

Fabulous Heftones at ApplewoodThe hat was given to me many years ago by my friend Iris. I met Iris at a conference in Chicago I think 17 years ago. I’m driving to Chicago Saturday to see Iris for part of a day.

It usually takes just under 4 hours to drive there, so I’ll drive more Saturday than I’ll be with her. However, I have a good car for driving, and good music… plus I do love driving and I really really love Chicago. We’ll go to dinner somewhere wonderful, probably on Devon Avenue where all the Indian restaurants are. Yum. Or at least that’s what we usually do when we have time for merely one meal.

OK, as Brian would say: “Off to see America!”

A Quick Photo

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MichiganThis week I had the opportunity to be on the 7th floor of the Sparrow Professional Building (across from Sparrow Hospital). It’s on Michigan Avenue, between the state Capitol building and Altu’s restaurant. My life that is not spent at home, is mostly spent within the scope of this photo.

On the left/north side of Michigan Avenue, the blue awning is my allergist’s office where I do a lot of knitting. Past that you see a large red brick building or two, that is Resurrection church and school. Some of my knitters go to that school.

A few blocks past the school, is my favorite block in Lansing. Yes, I really do have a favorite block. On this block much creative work is done. Magdalena’s Teahouse is on that block, as is Green Door (a bar where our friends, Steppin’ in It, have a regular Monday night gig). Also on that block is Gone Wired Cybercafe, Lamai’s Thai Kitchen, Lopez Bakery, City Pulse newspaper, and Emil’s Italian Restaurant. I’m guessing I’ve mentioned most of these places in my blog here at least a few times.

Beyond that another few blocks (also on the left of Michigan Ave.) is where Foster Community Center is. Merely a block past that is the house is that I used to own when I was single. I still consider this my neighborhood (it’s called the East Side Neighborhood) although now I only work there. Since I married Brian, we live a mile or two south/right of where I stood when I took the photo.

Past my old house is Rae’s Yarn Boutique at a shopping center called Frandor. The New Aladdin’s restaurant where I sometimes dance is just past Rae’s.

You may be able to see the white Sears water tower which is at the far side of Frandor. Only a block or so past that water tower is where Altu’s restaurant is. Altu is in the very first building on Michigan Avenue that is in East Lansing, a different municipality than Lansing. Actually, when I took a photo pointing just to the right of this one, I was able to see a few large buildings at Michigan State University which is also East Lansing.

Friends, this is my neighborhood. If I must live in a city this small, I’m pretty glad it’s this one. This is the life, as Brian would say. Welcome to my world.

Serendipity

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

I got two emails with Granola Bar recipes. Thanks to Theresa I. and Howlin’ Hobbit for their suggestions. Or should I say, suggestion? They sent the same recipe. Down to the parenthesis. I guess I’ll be making that one.

I have about 3-4 substitutions to make but I am reasonably sure that I know what will work. When I finally get back into that kitchen, I’ll let you all know how it goes and give you my personalized version.

You guys rock!

Granola Bar Recipe?

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

I tried last night to make Oatmeal Granola Bars. I had a plan but it did not work. I looked in all my favorite recipe books and did not find a recipe for even regular granola. I asked my friends who cook the most and they had never made these.

Well, I make a rhubarb crisp where the crust always sticks together so firmly that you sometimes can not get it out of the glass pan. I figured the brown sugar and oil/butter made sort of a toffee that held it together. So I started with that (of course adding a few things such as flax seeds), thinking it would stick together.

Apparently you need the moisture of the rhubarb for it to work. What I got is very fragile, stuck together underneath but almost dusty on top. And I kept baking hoping it would stick, so it now is scorched/lightly burned in places. Drat!

Does anyone out there reading this have a granola bar recipe they know works well? It should be heavy on oatmeal, with light or nonexistant nut content and very few or no dried fruits. Coconut (unsweetened) would be fine.

I’m really tired of being hungry and ten miles from home with no restaurant in sight that serves food I can eat. If the recipe doesn’t have a lot of dairy or egg in it, I think I can figure out any substitutions I might need to make, given my allergies. And then I can carry a bar in my purse to deal with the hungry moments.

So… now I am searching the Internet for Recipes. But I know that some will be way better than others. If any of you has input to help me, I’d love a personal recommendation better than any anonymous Internet recipe.

Help? If you know something I don’t, please write me at Lynn AT ColorJoy DOT com. Thanks.

KnittingZone.com

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

LynnH Basketweave RugMy friends, I’m happy to say that I have been busy lately for a great reason. My patterns will soon all be offered at Mary Moran’s website, KnittingZone, in downloadable PDF format. Woohoo!

People have been asking for PDFs, and I expect I’ll offer this feature on my own site in the future, but Mary has been offering downloads for a while and was ready to take it and run.

There was a time I really did not like the idea of offering my patterns as downloads. When I print the pattern here, I control the quality of the paper, I see what the photos look like on my printer, I put them in a good page protector. But folks really want patterns fast, and this is just plain how the industry is moving, whether I jump in and join the trend or not.

Sock by LynnHRight now there is a “ColorJoy by LynnH” page on the site with three of my patterns on it: Fast Florida Footies, Wristwarmers, and Watercolor Felted Bag. As of last night I sent her the rest of my 16 current patterns. They will be added to that page as Mary is able to code the pages for each pattern.

You can sign up on KnittingZone to receive emails when Mary adds downloadable patterns to her site. Here is the page to sign up.

I just got a notice that she is offering a sale through this Friday, on super-bulky yarns. My Basketweave Rug pattern is designed to be knit at 2.5 stitches per inch, and several of the yarns she’s offering on sale could work well for that rug. The rug needs 260 yards of the main color and around 100 yards of a contrast. There is Plymouth Handpaint Wool on this page and Linie 60 Tondo (comes in solids and multicolors) here and here. Either yarn would make a wonderful rug, I would guess. I’m tempted to get some yarn for myself… but I already have some Cascade Magnum in turquoise and lavender ready to go, if and when I ever get a chance to knit for myself again!!!

Oh… for the record, Mary Moran is the listmom for the Yahoo email group called Socknitters. I just checked their webpage and right now that group has 9,999 subscribers. (No, they do not all post but the list creates about 60 messages a day.) Mary does an amazing job of keeping things upbeat and civil. I’m really honored she approached me to sell my patterns through her site.

Sock by LynnHMary also wrote the wonderful computer program The Sole Solution. It creates custom socknitting patterns based on your gauge/measurements. I’ve had it for years. In fact, my very first toe up sock I made from her program. She had such excellent photos in her help program (imagine that, help that is helpful) that I walked myself through several things I’d not done before.

It’s a great program. You make a small gauge swatch to find out your gauge, you plunk in measurements and choose what features you want. It can be top down or toe up, any number of toe choices and heel choices. You can tell it any multiple of stitches you need for your cuff stitch pattern, and whether it should center the pattern or start at the beginning of the round. It even allows for a shaped calf, which is a feature I used when I made my brother, Eric, his first pair of handknit socks.

The program is a screaming deal, too. It is only $29.95 which is really a bargain next to other knitting programs.

Lots of folks know Mary but they do not know me… and she offers commercial yarns in great variety. Comparatively, I offer small batches of handpainted yarns… and only when I have time to dye (when I’m not teaching much). So Mary’s site is a more well-rounded site than mine (by design) and I think you’ll enjoy it. Beware: goodies galore. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Photos? My Basketweave Rug, and socks I knit with the assistance of Mary’s Sole Solution software back in 2001. The socks are on my LynnH SockTour which might interest you if you have not checked it out before. It’s a slide show of the first 33 pairs of socks I ever knit. (I’m up to 129 pairs now, but did not continue the tour, unfortunately.)

Spring is Sprung!

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

Last night we had frost warnings. Today at 10:45am, it was 48F/9C outside, darned chilly after 81F/27C about two weeks ago. Brr! I liked it better in the 80’s, I love that sort of weather. I’ve been sort of grumpy since it turned cold again.

But… Mom just called to say that the robin who nested in the bush next to her window, is feeding babies today. This sort of news renews my faith in many things. The mother bird sat there in the rain, never moved, never complained. Now she’s got babies and she and her partner are taking turns feeding the little ones. They are too small for mom to see at this point, she’ll see them soon enough.

After a night of feeling like I’d never warm up again, we have baby robins. It will be summer soon, my friends.

A Semi-Quick Hello after a Day Away

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

It was a busy weekend with much music. Saturday, Brian and I (as The Fabulous Heftones) performed at Applewood Public Gardens in Flint. It was wonderful. The gardens are immaculate (the place is only open to the public about once a month so they can really keep up the grounds beautifully). It was gorgeous.

Singing in a formal garden from 1918, singing songs about flowers and birds and rainbows, from the 1920’s, well, it was really ideal for us and I drank in the specialness of the day.

Mom and her friend Barb came to see us sing. That was extra special. They really enjoyed the gardens as well as our singing. I loved having them there as part of the crowd.

It was a grand event. The crowd was all ages and all walks of life, well-mixed culturally, a really good cross section of folks enjoying the gardens. The kids seemed to like it a lot. At one point we saw a boy rolling down a hill behind the garden where we played. So fun, I’d forgotten about rolling down hills like that.

Sunday I spent the day at the East Lansing Art Festival. I was supposed to help Altu with her food booth but she already had four people there working when I arrived. I’m not very comfortable working in a kitchen though I do it when Altu needs me.

I ended up running for supplies, water, whatever. Mostly I sat and knit in the back of her booth or I wandered to this or that musical stage to see my musical friends who performed. Steppin’ in It was there, as was Peter Madcat Ruth, Seth Bernard and Daisy May, and Wally Pleasant. All people I’ve mentioned here before. Brian played backup for Wally as he has done many times. That was fun, hearing them play and then chatting with Wally and his family after the show.

After the festival was over, we went to a music jam/party and I mostly talked and knit. I sang maybe 3 songs. But one guy there really took to my Heftone Bass and played it a long time during a fiddler’s jam. That was really cool.

We have a wonderful clan of musical friends here in Lansing. I really enjoyed the party. I’m finally allowing myself to take an instrument somewhere and then just not play at all. I find some types of music very difficult to play, and I make lots of mistakes. That becomes uncomfortable. I want music to be fun.

So this time I chatted while I knit on the ribbed legwarmer from the yarn I got in New York City. I finished the first one and started the second. It looks promising, though clearly they will be fraternal legwarmers, there is no way to make them match. Since they have only maybe 4 colors of stripes I think this will work out fine.

I got SO cold on Sunday I just could not warm up (it was breezy and about 57F degrees, and mostly cloudy so we didn’t warm up from the sun as we did Saturday). Then the house where the party was held, was on the chilly side. When I got home I put on a better sweater and sat on the heatvent with a blanket, and I still did not feel warm. Finally I wrapped up in my cotton gahbi (four-layer fluffy cotton blanket from Ethiopia) and got into bed under the two comforters, and I finally warmed up enough to sleep well.

A Photographer I Found on Flickr

Friday, May 19th, 2006

I got a random note from a user on Flickr today, and that took me to the photo site where I did a little poking around. I found Plaubel Makina and it was worth the detour in my schedule.

This man goes to crowded spots: Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit; Saint Patrick’s Day in Corktown; the Elvis Festival in Ypsilanti, Michigan; the Michigan State Fair, and various rallies in the streets. He likes to take photos of people, sometimes framed in ways that feel like you are sort of peeking into someone else’s space. A lot of the shots are in black and white.

I went to his main page, and then clicked “Fun Crowds” for a visual voyage. It’s definitely worth a look.