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Archive for July, 2006

Too Hot to Think

Monday, July 31st, 2006

I tell you, my friends… today (Monday) the heat index was well over 100F and this is Michigan. I’m fond of warmth but not oven temperatures. I tried to have a day off but it was too hot to go on the porch in the hammock, even the hammock was sticky and hot. I read a little in my Yarn Harlot book, I knit a little (finished a footie and have only to bind off a shawl I started last week).

Mostly I drank water and iced tea and more water. I made up excuses to run errands where I’d be in air conditioning for a few minutes here and there. I do not like being cooped up in a building with air conditioning, I’m really big on opened windows… but today I gave in. I still have a headache from the heat in spite of the care I took. And tomorrow is supposed to be worse.

Tomorrow I’m going to see if our wireless internet connection will work in the upstairs bedroom where we do have a window air conditioner. We’ll see.

In any case, this all means I didn’t feel like sitting at a computer much today. What I just did was add photos to yesterday’s post. I’ll get photos from Ann Arbor when I can get cooler. Thanks for understanding.

Oh, Rae and Sarah posted their pictures from yesterday already…

Quick Check-In

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Yellow Sub MarinesIt’s late, I’m tired, but I want to check in. I have taken what seems like a zillion photos in two days and will need to sort through what is just the right stuff for the blog.

Saturday night was the night of my 30 year High School reunion. I chose not to go, then I was sad about it when it became too late to join in. Brian was kind enough to take me on a date so my mind would be distracted. We ended up in East Lansing at an outdoor Yellow Sub Marines free concert. (It’s a Beatles tribute band, can you tell?) That was fun. Then we had Indian food (Channa Masala for me… that’s chick peas in a tomato sauce with onions and flavorings, comfort food).

Sunday I spent the day in Ann Arbor. I love Ann Arbor, but I have not been there in far too long. Months and months, really. Of course I went first to the library to hear Stephanie Pearl-McPhee/Yarn Harlot speak and have her sign a book for me. (The inscription is “Obsession is normal.” Gotta love this woman, huh?)

Ann Street Plaza Concert CrowdI got there 20 minutes before the event and was issued to the overflow room. They had some tech problems right at first but in the end we got to see a live “video” of Stephanie as she was talking. She even waved to us, how kind that was. Then we all piled downstairs to wait in line for a signature and a chance to say hello. The library was surprised that the event which started at 2pm was really challenged to close up shop by 6pm. I wasn’t surprised…

There were SO many people there I sort of lost it for a little while until I got situated. There were a lot of folks there I knew… students, colleagues, other designers and bloggers… and unfortunately even though I practice names for new folks I know, and should not have to practice names for those I’ve known for years… I was out of my element and I missed a few.

I’m really sad about that, I really do care and I just am not so good in big crowds. I guess I should not be too bummed, I once even forgot the last name of a friend I’ve literally known for over 40 years. It’s just how I respond to too much visual/sound input. OK. ‘Nuff said there, I guess.

The Andersons Dancing at Ann St.Riin and I went to Zingermans for dinner. I love that place! We talked until past 9pm. Good food, good tea, good company, good knitting-in-public time. One person to pay attention to, and only one. It doesn’t get better than that.

Photos tomorrow. I have one work task for Monday and that is to mail out two skeins of yarn. Then I will play in PhotoShop and see what I can show you. I may just add photos to this post, or maybe I’ll go ahead with extra posts. I’ll know more when I see what photos worked out.

Good night.

Images posted 7/31/2006: 1)The Yellow Sub Marines at Ann Street Plaza, East Lansing. 2)Crowd watching concert, this was only half the crowd if that. 3)The Andersons at right, she’s a dancer of retirement age… they always come to our first-Friday New Aladdin’s dance performances… they were dancing to the band. They are a delightful couple. Notice at left is a woman dancing (swinging) a child. There were so many children dancing, it was wonderful!

Hot, Hot, Hot… Unconventional Blocking

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

It’s so hot here I am noticing it. Now, I’m the one who goes to dance class, everyone else is fanning themselves to cool down and yet my hands are cold as ice.

I like heat. I actually must admit that even I adjust my activity level when it’s hot, but I really want to feel summer. When I worked in air conditioned spaces, I would ask “Where did the summer go?” When I live it, I don’t wonder.

So today I had a bunch of orders, some patterns for 2 of the shops where I work and three packages to mail out. I spent the morning working on a pattern, and early afternoon preparing my orders. At 3:30pm or so, I got ready to go. And realized that the display Perfect Hug shawl I had knit for Linda at Little Red Schoolhouse, I had forgotten to block last night.

Now, I don’t block my knitting in any fancy way. I get it wet, stretch it here and there to even out stitches, and then just smooth it out to dry. I don’t pin or stretch. So I did the unthinkable. I dunked that baby in the sink. I mean, at the moment I thought I’d be driving out of the driveway.

I delayed my trip just a few minutes… tossed the wet shawl in the washing machine and put it on spin dry. I waited until the washer spun out the excess water. I grabbed a large towel and left on my errands. With the damp shawl in hand.

I opened the car which was so hot I could barely put my hand in there until the doors had been open a while. I put the afghans I always carry in the car, on the back seat, and topped them with my towel. Then I stretched and shaped and prodded that shawl and laid it out nicely on the towel. On the back seat of my New Beetle. The very hot back seat of my JoyBug.

I drove the 3 miles to Rae’s shop first. I dropped off a few things, was there maybe 20 minutes. Then I got in the car, and drove to the west side of town (maybe 10 miles if that) where Linda’s shop is. And by the time I got there, the shawl was so dry it was light as a feather and the edges were flapping in the breeze back there.

(For the record, the car was mostly in shade while waiting for me… but I did block the shawl with the inside facing up, just in case the sun could have an effect on the colors in such a short time. It’s knit in a multicolored, lumpy-bumpy yarn that would not show problems readily, anyway. Someone is bound to ask…)

Hey, whatever works!

Sorry, no photo. I forgot my camera in the excitement.

Online Source for Sorghum Syrup

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

I wrote a Granola Bar Recipe here this month, which called for Sorghum Syrup (though I did indicate a good substitute for those who could not find the real thing). I just was looking for shoe polish, of all things, when I found an online store called the Peas & Corn Co. They have Sorghum Syrup on their site. Amazing.

The site itself reminds me of an old general store. They have waistband-stretchers and collar stretchers, mink oil paste, hat brushes, onion cookers and a steam-free milk frother. All things I did not realize were available to me, sitting here at my desk looking at the computer. Too much fun… when I have other things to do…

Busy Singing!

Friday, July 28th, 2006

The Fabulous HeftonesOh, my friends, what a good summer I’m having. I’m so busy I can barely get here to tell you about it but it’s good fun, I tell you. We are singing so much it’s my primary business this month. Loving it!

Yesterday we sang for an upscale retirement center. We’ve performed for one wedding ceremony and one wedding reception. We opened at Creole Gallery, we sang in the garden at Applewood in Flint. We sang twice at Magdalena’s Teahouse, once for our CD release party. We sang for thirty retirees at a luncheon and a half dozen for a birthday party on a deck surrounded by trees and flowers. We jammed nonstop for three days at the Evart Dulcimer FunFest and are looking forward to another three-day jamfest at Wheatland Music Festival in September. We helped our friend Bob McCarthy at the Meridian Historical Society and we played at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine as we often do.

Next Friday we are playing with Thomas Boles/Waypastfrown (of California) and “Daniel The Minstrel” Cook at Gone Wired Cybercafe on Michigan Avenue, show starts at 8pm. Who knows what might come up soon? On August 26 we are in Kalamazoo at Coopers’ Glen Music Festival and we just got word we are playing in Warren for a Banjo gathering in October. And we have been invited back to New York (city) Ukefest next April already. Things are singingly lovely these days.

We are particularly enjoying our private engagements. There is nobody as appreciative of our music as a retiree who grew up singing this genre of music. They sing right along and smile through the whole concert! It is these groups who fill out our schedule and make us know that we are on the right track.

However, I am also relishing my attempts to get this wonderful kind of music in front of a generation or two who have never heard it before. This was the popular music in the USA, in the 1920s, when my Gramma Ruthie was a young woman. It’s engergetic, emotional, saucy, fun and sentimental. And more.

It’s music written when a song was created by at least two guys who were paid full time to write. One guy made a melody, and one or two more guys would write lyrics. They did this all day every day. They got really good, no surprise! They didn’t take time to go perform the music, they just finished one song and started up on the next. No wonder the music is so finely crafted. You just get better every time you do something.

I’m not surprised that music written in this sort of system is great. And it’s no wonder that some of these songs still persist though almost none of us still alive were around when it was the music of the day. Since no singer wrote the music, one song might be performed by dozens of popular singers. The music got around! And I still sing April Showers (1921, download our recording of it here if you like) whenever we have a spring rain. It just makes me feel good.

OK, back to my pattern designer business… one day it’s singing, the next it’s counting stitches and photographing samples. I never get bored!

Photo: Brian and I performing as The Fabulous Heftones, at the wedding reception of Ann and Steve last Saturday.

Rainbowgrrl Julie’s Sock Gift

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Socks from JulieWowie. Today I went to a one-person class at Rae’s where Julie was my student. And she had a gift for me. Not just any gift, mind you. Something she made specifically for me.

Julie loves rainbow colors. She and I are both focused on bright color but we often choose different combinations. We understand one another, in this town which is generally conservative about color.

I met Julie in the contradancing community. I knew long ago that she hand-dyed commercially-produced cotton socks. In rainbows. Wonderful rainbows. Enthusiastic, bright, sunny rainbows.

Well, today she presented me with some wonderful super-thin summer cotton socks that she dyed in a LynnH rainbow colorway with me in mind. They are purple, cherry/fuschia, blue-turquoise, aqua-turquoise. And they fit my little feet comfortably. They are just plain perfect. (She also made me a rainbow bandana for my hair… of course I’ve always been obsessed with socks so I focus on those here but I appreciate both gifts.)

She was worried I would not like my gift. Imagine! She’s right, they are not wool, but in summer I do sometimes wear thin cotton socks with my sandals (yes, I’m a geek, but my feet just are not comfortable barefoot in any footwear).

And the colors? Notice how perfectly they coordinate with the skirt I wore to our class today. Incredible. She got it down to a “T.”

Julie, you rock! Thanks SO much.

Sock of the Whenever Knitalong

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Summertime Sock by Kathy NehrenzI’m about to discard the veil of secrecy I’ve kept for a while… I just shipped out a lot of skeins of yarn to one person. I dyed more yarn in one colorway than ever before, even a bit more than the time I did my Seaside colorway for Annie Modesitt’s retreat a few years back.

The secret? I dyed yarn for the knitalong group for August, in the Yahoo group called “Whenever” (instead of a sock of the month they have a sock of the “whenever you want to participate”). Kathy Nehrenz designed the sock and asked me to design a yarn colorway (she had colors pictured in her mind for the sock) for the knitalong.

The design is called “Summertime Socks” and my yarn is called Midday Garden. I’m doing the colorway only this once. I did make a few extra skeins in case they have late additions to their knitalong, and if for some reason there are leftovers after the knitalong is on its merry way, I can sell what is left. I won’t be dyeing it again.

Midday Garden Tip-Toe Sockyarn by LynnHThis is the first time I’ve done four colors (plus white) on one skein. I usually stick to three or fewer. She pushed me to try something new… and the tiny 80-yard test skein I made for Kathy to swatch looks pretty lovely… I’m pleased.

Of course, I could not do any sort of automation at all with four colors (in the fear that I’d overlap colors that turn into mud when they touch) so even though I did three dye lots, the skeins are as individual as you and I. Two skeins right next to one another will be a little different, it’s just the process of pouring dye on the skeins as they lie on the table together. That makes it sort of wonderful, though. Absolute uniqueness.

I am sure it’s not too late to join the group and get involved if you are inclined. It’s a short sock for summer with a bit of lace, it should be a perfect summer project. If you are interested, go to yahoo groups and join the group called “Whenever” and Kathy can get you going.

Or not. Your choice. But that’s my project of the week, one more reason I’ve been gone/silent for a while. I had no helper this time around, and it was an incredible amount of labor for just one person to do. Winding the yarn is the boring part (first I wind from white yarn on cones into loose dyeing hanks, then I dye, then I take the dyed hanks and re-wind into tidy skeins to show the colorway more as it looks knit up). However, I worked on learning words to some songs while winding away for hours and hours.

After mailing the yarn out Wednesday morning, Brian and I went to Muskegon (a 2 hour drive) for the day to see Brian’s family. They do a camping trip each year and the sisters from out of state come in. Since for some reason I know those two sisters best of the family, it’s really special to see them and it was worth the drive to be there a while together.

It’s too funny now that it’s over… but we got back home past midnight and there was a bat flying around our house. Ugh. Luckily Brian found it in the unfinished part of our attic and with gloves and other gear, caught it in a crumpled-up old shirt from the rag bag, and took it outside to let it free.

It was nerve-wracking especially when we didn’t know where the bat had gone, and when he was trying to catch the thing. Now it’s just a bit funny. Have I mentioned I’m not much of a fan of nature? Especially when it moves in to my house? That’s a bird and a bat in less than a month. I hope that means we’re done for a while.

OK, so now I’m home for a while. My next overnight trip is Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan, where I’m teaching the third weekend in August.

I have a few local classes coming up, and I’m working very hard to get my three new patterns finalized for my website and my local shops where I teach/sell patterns. Bags to Go is in shops but not yet on my site or Knittingzone.com, the other two are very close to their first release.

I’m knitting my fourth Perfect Hug Shawl, Diana knit her third yesterday. Once I have all the writing down I’ll have it tested one more time by someone else. I’m hoping it will be in a week or less, since the shawl takes a day or two to knit.

OK: meanwhile I need to sleep. Goodnight.

Photos: Summertime Sock by Kathy Nehrenz of the Sock of the Whenever Yahoogroup (group name is Whenever). One of the two piles of yarn I shipped to Kathy for the kits for the August knitalong, though the colors aren’t exactly true on my monitor.

Guest Blogger

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

I’m over-busy yet again… dyeing 30 skeins of yarn for a special order (I swear I don’t do special orders but I broke the rule this time) takes a bit of focus and a lot of time… so I asked my Mom if I could take an excerpt from her email newsletter and post it here.

Liz TroldahlMom and Fred drove to Minnesota for the same 50th anniversary party Brian and I attended on July 9. From where we live, Lake Michigan (a huge huge lake, more like a sea) is directly in the way of driving as the bird flies. Brian and I went southwest around Chicago and Mom and Fred went north and then west, through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

(She also mentions briefly that she holds a luncheon in East Lansing, Michigan… for friends they know at the mobile home park in Florida where they winter. Folks come from many states/provinces to have lunch and chat, and Brian and I perform music for them as well. It’s a fun time.

Mom is very observant of things others miss. I particularly love her description of the trip up north. But you can read for yourself:

…I have been abundantly busy. Isn’t that wonderful? We left July 6 for Minnesota and drove through the upper peninsula as there are very few trucks that way, and it is fun. In northern WI, there were roads: Love Knot Ln, Everybody’s Rd, Hay Meadow Rd, Squash Lake Rd. There was a “Cheap Seats Sports Bar” and a lot of snowmobile crossing signs. Their trails even have small sized stop signs for them.

At the crossroad town of Laona, WI, there were six bars in the one block of town. A sign in one small town advertised “cold beer and doughnuts”! There was an apple farm that advertised with signs like the old Burma Shave signs. It said: The time is near; so do not fear; the apples so dear; will soon be here. A sign near the drive announced the apples were “ping pong ball size” right now.

The cat tails were brown. There were a lot of flowers on the farms but few vegetable gardens, a lot of deer may be why. Some put electric fences around their gardens. Some parts had very dry land and some places had enough rain. We enjoy eating at mom and pop places and had to make sure we got pasties in the U.P…

…On to my brother in law’s home in Janesville. When we arrived, I came into the house looking for this “really old couple”. It was their 50th wedding celebration the next day. They are a very young looking couple for being married that long.

Lynn and Brian came, too. They sang on Sunday, but had been in Minneapolis on Saturday for the opening at Susan Hensal’s Gallery at a showing of art in knitting. Lynn knit a self portrait. (weblog July 8) I couldn’t believe she would even think to do it. It is wonderful. You can see it on her weblog…

…There were 31 that came to the Coral Gables in East Lansing and out to my home for dessert afterwards. It was a good afternoon.

We had a good meal, The Fabulous Heftones played, next, 25 came out to the house for dessert. We had four from Canada, two from Wisconsin that flew in, and the rest were from all over the middle of Michigan…

The animals have been loving the backyard. There were nine blackbirds eating up a storm. A chipmunk did not want them around, so was chasing them. He was outnumbered, but tried, even jumping up in the bush to chase them. A female cardinal, a blue jay and a robin came to eat, too. Looking out my windows is my live “TV”. I do not feed the birds, I just have a lot of things they like to eat in my yard.

…I’ll bet you are enjoying your summer. We had the first of the green beans.

Perfect Hug Shawl: Preview

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Perfect Hug Shawl by LynnHSomehow I took a picture of this shawl on July 3 but I’ve been so crazy-busy since then (mostly with the self-portrait and then a lot of musical peformances) that I guess somehow I forgot to post it. And it’s such a nice photo, in my opinion!

The shawl on the mannequin was the first test knit of this upcoming pattern, knit in commercial (rather than handspun) yarn. It’s exactly three balls of Debbie Bliss Soho (210 yards thick/thin) on size 15 needles. It’s shaped simply and easily, to be a sort of a rainbow shape.

You can see the shape of the shawl in the teal version drying here on two sweater dryers. The teal one is Rio de la Plata, two hanks with leftovers.

The first one is at Rae’s Yarn Boutique right now, the teal will be at Threadbear Fiberarts sometime later this week. I have one more in process, in sand and denim Soho, for Little Red Schoolhouse. And I’m keeping one in Rio de la Plata in two pinks, for me! Well, that’s what I say now but if another shop picks up my pattern line and they carry Rio, I’ll be sending the sample as sure as you’re born.

I’m working on finalizing this pattern right now, there are some wording issues that are really important (explaining two elongated-stitch rows one following the other is an issue when I give more than one possible method of creating the elongated/dropped stitch). I’m working with my test knitter (Diana, my sister in law, has knit two of these already and it’s very helpful that she’s also a writer) to get it clear as day before releasing the pattern. If I need to limit the options to make it more clear, I will do that.

Perfect Hug Shawl by LynnHI’m excited, too, that I found an Adrienne Vittadini thick/thin two-ply yarn (wool and alpaca, yum) at Threadbear. It looks structurally very like the handspun yarn I used for the very first test version of this design. It has exactly the same yardage as the Debbie Bliss Soho. It comes in a gorgeous red and some other subtle colors but I chose the natural gray because it looks so handspun. I think Diana’s working on that one this week (bless her, what would I do without her… she absolutely cranks out samples sometimes).

The good news is that all five of these shawls I’ve assembled so far were less than $40 in yarn, most closer to $25. And they knit up in a day or two. It seems they will be the perfect gift, as well as the Perfect Hug.

(You can see a partial view of me wearing the first version of this shawl. That version which I knit from yarn I spun myself. I got the rovings from Traci Bunkers of Bonkers Fiber. That photo is part of my post about our CD Release Party, June 27.)

Evart Dulcimer Fun Fest 2006

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Dulcimer Fun FestLast weekend we spent three days in Evart, Michigan (not far from Big Rapids, where Ferris State University is). Each year at the fairgrounds, the Dulcimer FunFest is held here. Some people come a week before it officially starts, and many stay beyond the final date of the musical events.

Dulcimer Fun FestIt’s quite a gathering, mostly focused on acoustic music. A hammered-dulcimer group organizes it, but all acoustic music is enjoyed during the event. Brian teaches ukulele workshops here each year. The vendors said it was a boom year for selling ukuleles. I say this is good for everyone!!!

Dulcimer Fun FestBrian’s mom and dad always go, as do his aunt and uncle. I really enjoy their company. Also this year and last Brian’s nephew Joe also has attended. He plays a number of instruments including viola and ukulele, and was having some good fun learning more about the uke during the festival. There are a lot of uke afficionados, including a club from near Dearborn (Detroit area) and so there was no lack of jamming opportunities for anyone.

Dulcimer Fun FestBrian and I did what we could to jam as often as possible. Of course, we are still a relatively new act in the Michigan acoustic scene, so any contact we can get with other musicians or appreciative listeners, is good for us.

Dulcimer Fun FestSince we will be playing at Coopers Glen festival in Kalamazoo in August, and some of the folks who come to Evart live on that side of the state… Well, it seems a good idea to try to meet folks from that “neck of the woods” while having great fun playing music.

Dulcimer Fun FestSo we played and played and played. We shared as much of our music as we could with new folks who had not heard us before. I tell you, it does not get more fun than this.

Dulcimer Fun FestOur friends, Judy and Whitt McKinney of the McKinney Washtub Two, were there. We always have such a great time with them. They have been performing together a long time and have a really tight act which is quite amusing, musical and intelligent. I love jamming with them and chatting in the dark while swatting mosquitos away. It’s as much fun as someone can have outdoors, I think!

Dulcimer Fun FestWhitt and Judy pushed us to play on the main stage this year (we have not done that before). In fact, Whitt woke us up on Saturday to make sure we got in line to apply for a Saturday afternoon slot.

Dulcimer Fun FestIt turned out that our performance time was when the McKinney’s were doing a workshop so they couldn’t come hear us, but we did play and had a very welcoming crowd. It was wonderful fun.

Dulcimer Fun FestOur friends, the club Uke ‘n Sing, also performed on the main stage Saturday Afternoon. We stayed to hear them, and they were incredible fun. They are so enthusiastic and they have the knack of picking excellent crowd-pleasing songs. The audience really loved their set.

Dulcimer Fun FestIt was really cute… there was one toddler girl dancing to their music, pretending to play ukulele. Then when they played “Bye, Bye Love” she had one hand strumming and the other waving “bye bye!” Just as adorable as a child can be without trying at all!

Dulcimer Fun FestOn both Friday and Saturday Brian taught intro to Ukulele workshops. At one point he was teaching them a song that had only two chords. He decided that he would jump in the air every time they needed to change chords. Considering that Brian is a relatively soft-spoken guy, this was quite fun and entertaining to watch. We all enjoyed it.

Dulcimer Fun FestFollowing the Friday workshop, there was a ukulele jam session as well. Brian really helped out the new players by putting chord diagrams up on the front wall. Then when they played during the jam, Brian would point the neck of his uke to the chord chart that was required at that moment for that song. It was a fun way to keep everybody together, and a great time was had by all.

Dulcimer Fun FestI think it was John from the Uke ‘n Sing ukulele club who said he counted at least 60 people at the uke jam. (I wonder if he counted me on my bass?) That was a highlight of my weekend, for sure.

Dulcimer Fun FestFriday night there was also another ukulele jam with the Uke ‘n Sing folks and all other uke friends. Bruce and Karol were there… Bruce does the other uke workshops that Brian does not do at this festival, and Karol plays uke and also performed a few hula dances for us (once solo and once with a friend). That was really special to me, as a dancer. She did a wonderful job.

Dulcimer Fun FestWe had such fun. We hung out with different folks different times, played old banjo music with Morgan and Sherry of Picks N Sticks stringband, played with some excellent oldtimers in the big building by the water fountain, sat on park benches and watched the crowds go by, met many new folks whose names we may never know, who were kind enough to go to the vendor building and buy our CDs. We sold more CDs than we’ve ever sold at one event, and we are humbled and delighted.

Dulcimer Fun FestDo consider coming to the Fun Fest next year if at all possible, whether you play or just like to listen to good music. (And if you get to the Lion’s food booth, you can get some of the best homemade pies I’ve seen!) I had such a good time, sauna temperatures notwithstanding, that I am eager to return already!

Dulcimer Fun FestPhotos: 1) Jam Thursday Night, crowd, 2) Jam with Brian on uke, 3) Jam with Morgan at front on Banjo, 4) Saturday jam with piano and accordion, 5) Night crowd observing Sherry and Morgan and friends, 6) Judy and Whitt McKinney showing off their new “Fabulous Heftones” bumper sticker on guitar case, 7) Stage Veiw of Brian and I on main stage, thanks to Bob of Uke ‘n Sing, 8) Uke ‘n Sing on main stage, 9) Child playing air uke and waving bye bye, 10) Brian and I at Friday night uke jam, 10 & 11) Crowd at Friday night Uke Jam, 12) Karol doing hula for us, same jam, 13) Gil once more entertaining the crowd as no one else can… he is incredible and I never want him to stop singing, 14) Friday Uke Workshop crowd (Brian’s dad and nephew Joe in front row toward left), 15) Bruce and Brian preparing to jump as a chord-changing cue in Friday workshop, 16) Saturday workshop crowd, 17) Another photo of first jam shown in this post.

I Love-Love-Love the Creole Gallery!

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Creole GalleryThursday night was so much fun I can not even explain. It was a good-sized crowd full of ukulele fans, Travis Harrelson fans, Fabulous Heftone fans, and Creole Gallery fans. Such a good crowd it was!

Fabulous Heftones at Creole GalleryWe were the opening act. We sang and it really felt that everyone was totally with us, every note. I am a performer who is very intent on relationship, and when I sing I do my best to go around the room and sing at least a few notes to everyone whose face I can see. At the Creole, I can see the audience well from the stage and I was able to enjoy singing directly to many people.

Travis Harrelson at Creole GalleryAfter our set the audience (and the management, which matters more) asked for an encore, which is not a usual thing for an opening act. (Our job is to get up there, make people smile, and get down before the energy lags.) The extra song was an honor. But the excitement was yet to come… Travis Harrelson was delightful.

Travis Harrelson, Tom T. Ball and Gerald Ross at Creole GalleryHe did some songs I’d never heard before, songs perhaps I should have known my whole life. He has a way of playing the uke like nobody else… he strums, picks, dances on those strings. It was wonderful.

Gerald Ross and Tom T. Ball on guitar and bass respectively, really rounded out a lot of the numbers for the show. And then when they could talk Mr. Harrelson into doing a few numbers alone… well, that was a real treat as well. He is something of an intimate performer, it was like he was whispering directly to me. As a singer I enjoyed those solo pieces very much.

Travis Harrelson at Creole GalleryThere were so many Ukulele friends there! One wonderful surprise was Peter “Madcat” Ruth, who lives in Ann Arbor. He has been known for harmonica for a very long time but we played on the same stage with him last March (?) in Ann Arbor, he has a relatively new CD featuring ukulele and it’s wonderful. In fact we’d been listening to it Thursday morning with our friend Bob who came up from Cincinnati for the event… and there he was at the concert! Very exciting to see him again… he’s such a warm person, I really just love seeing him any time at all. And our friends Bruce and Karol from the Evart Dulcimer Fun Fest were there as well, another surprise treat from out of town.

Frog and the Beeftones at Unicorn Bar, Old Town LansingAfter the show, we walked around the corner (this is the Old Town Main Street area which is getting quite fun and funky these days) and popoed into the Unicorn Bar to hear our friend Frog perform with his band. When we got there, Madcat was sitting in with them on harmonica. More special treats! However, it was so loud we could not talk, so we danced one number and then left.

A group of us (the performers, the organizers and a few friends from out of town) went out for dinner and then the night ended too soon. It was a wonderful, wonderful day!

Photos: 1) Audience at Creole Gallery. 2) Brian and I near the stage (photo taken after the show by Oren… thanks bunches, Oren!) 3-5) Three photos of Travis Harrelson in concert, one with Tom T. Ball on Bass and Gerald Ross on guitar. 6) Frog and band with Madcat Ruth on harmonica.

Thursday at the Creole Gallery!

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

The Fabulous HeftonesThursday (today) Brian and I are opening at the Creole Gallery for Travis Harrelson, Ukulele Great from California. The show starts at 7:30pm.

Here is what the Creole website says, in part:

Thursday, July 20 – 7:30pm
with Special Guests, THE FABULOUS HEFTONES
Expect to hear sounds that you never expected could come from a ukulele.

Travis comes to us in a very special appearance outside of his home state of California.

He has been playing since the 1940s and mostly covers great old tunes from the beginning of the 20th century through the 1940s.

So why are we paying attention this guy? Because in the uke world, Travis is considered one of the best never-recorded artists ever. That’s about to change, as two fans/patrons are bringing him to Lansing to record his unique and complex style: Elderly Instruments owner Stan Werbin and local uke collector Dave Pasant.

We are honored to be included in this event. Please consider joining us in an evening of ukulele enjoyment!

And big thanks to Corrina of the Progressive Torch and Twang show on The Impact 89. Last night she not only mentioned the concert, but in addition played two cuts from our Moon June Spoon CD. Corrina, you are the best!

Photo: Brian and I at the Temple Club this past March.

Catching Up

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

Oh, My! I’m so behind I can’t even think straight. I have assorted and miscellaneous photos I need to show you. Pardon me that this post has no theme other than “photos close to their expiration dates.”

First is the most important. The thing I do each week that makes my heart sing. The most incredible thing I may have ever done. It’s teaching my incredible kids to knit. They are getting so comfortable, and they know me and my methods so well, that these days I don’t have to give them step by step instructions. I can give them “shortcut names” to procedures and they are off and running.

I can not tell you how fine these young people are. So without further ado, let me show you the work they are doing, and their work will at least speak for itself.

First is a 2nd grader who is knitting a bag in the round. She is preparing to hand felt it with me next time I see her. She also learned how to make I-cord (a tube made with double pointed needles) and pronounced it a fingerwarmer. She’s wearing it here in the photo.

Next is the second pair of socks by my 7th grader, who is a good deal of the way into her third pair and collecting sock yarn as I type this! These are intended as a gift for her mother, made of Brown Sheep Lambs Pride donated by one of you or my guild friends, and trimmed with some purple Pastaza I gave her, which was leftover from a Watercolor Bag I knit.

Next is a 2nd grader who is in the process here of knitting baby booties without a pattern. We figured out what shape she needed to make, I cut out the shape from a piece of paper, and we talked about how she could fill that shape with knitting. The next time I saw her (photo later here in this column) she sewed the first bootie together and was nearly ready to do the same for the second one. The baby shower was July 18 so I’ll have to ask her how it went later this week.

Bob McCarthy and Friends at Meridian Historical VillageThe pile of squares was knit by the bootie knitter and her mother. They are intent on making squares for a blanket for charity. I’m getting a good pile of them started up so I will soon be attempting to fit these un-matched squares together somehow. I expect I’ll crochet them together and fill in any holes with a bit of crochet as well.

Bob McCarthy and Friends at MeridianLast is a photo of my bootie knitter and my socknitter, showing off booties and a purse (which she made up all by herself), knit with yarns donated from you folks and local guild members. Aren’t these guys just the best??? Can you see why I’m bursting with pride on their behalf???

LynnH Singing at Meridian Historical VillageOK, now for a few music photos. On the Wednesday after we returned from Minnesota, our friend Bob McCarthy (a swing guitar player and a wonderful friend) gathered some friends into a band to perform for the Meridian Historical Society behind the Meridian Mall. Brian played with the band and I sang two songs. Thanks to Fred for taking photos for us!

Colleen's SockIn the first photo you just see the lovely space. It’s right behind the Meridian Mall but feels very rural. The second photo is the band… from left to right is Willie T., Tim, Brian, Bob and Travis. In the last photo they have added me singing a bit. We had a very fine time indeed.

Polymer ClayFinally, a few photos of work by adult students. I’m absolutely sure I’m missing something but this is what I can find by looking back through photos right now. I’ve got a photo of Colleen’s First-Time Toe-Up sock from a class at Little Red Schoolhouse. She’s a very accomplished knitter but had not made toe up socks before. Nice job, don’t you think?

And thanks to Julie L-W, a photo from last Sunday’s Polymer Clay buttons & beads class at Threadbear. This is just the tray we baked in class, they took home more creations to bake at home. I’m always delighted with the quality of the work in a first time button class. Thanks again for the photo, Julie!

Go back and read from July 12, my friends.

Monday, July 17th, 2006

I’ve been gone from here, my friends. I’ve been gone longer than I’ve ever been since I started blogging. After two weeks of pushing to accomplish a CD release party, followed by two weeks of heavily-focused knitting (and an illness) creating a self-portrait, followed by three days of camping in a tent and singing in sauna-like weather, I got home and sort of collapsed.

I worked one day, teaching polymer clay at Threadbear… and I sang with Brian at a private luncheon. Other than that I’ve been preparing for another special project I’m doing for a group of knitters, dyeing them a special colorway for a knit-along.

I’ve processed many photos in the time since we returned from Minnesota, but did not have the energy to write the travelogues to go with them. Today I posted the story of the Threads in Space opening and I backdated it for July 12. So if you want to read that, please page back a few days and read forward. I’ll post more tomorrow.

I thought I’d go to sleep early and then go to the Ann Arbor Art Fair to see my friend Susan Luks’ booth Wednesday. Instead I may just have to give up Ann Arbor this year for the first time in a decade or more. My car needs attention and a 160-mile round trip is no doubt not wise. Sleep is wise, though. Maybe tomorrow I’ll hook up the system so that I can blog from the hammock on the porch. Now *that* would be the life!

Good Night.