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Archive for February, 2007

Candelight Vigil in Old Town

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

There will be a candelight vigil to honor Robert Busby outside the Creole Gallery tonight (Turner Street near North Grand River in Old Town, Lansing) at dusk. Sunset is 6:26 so I will get there maybe 5:45 or 6pm. I expect it will be hard to find parking (it sounds like they will be closing off Turner Street), so plan ahead.

For those interested, there has been an update on the Lansing State Journal website to this story. More tragedy, but perhaps the hint of an answer. (There was yet another update to that same story around mid-afternoon with more answers.)

The State Journal is doing a good job of updating this story in near-real-time, check their online front page for related stories and comments. The seven photos of Robert, Meegan and the gallery on this page brought tears to my eyes. You can see his peaceful strength in every photo.

Too Sad to be True

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

I am sorry to interrupt this usually-optimistic blog with a discouraging post. I will be back again with color and cheer but this post must be written.

Robert Busby, owner of Creole Gallery in Lansing, Michigan, was found dead in his building Tuesday. This is too sad for words.

I have known Robert for 20 years. He was one of the classiest, kindest human beings I have ever known. He would go out of his way to greet everyone, and then he would ask thoughtful questions of us all. He would absolutely listen to each reply, never letting his eyes wander.

Sometimes I would go home and realize I never asked him anything in return… he had me answering questions about my own projects. He authentically wished to understand my work, and there was no conversation lag where I might have asked him a few things.

Robert was often called “The Mayor of Old Town” although there really was no such position. Nobody denied his leadership but he never raised his voice and never pushed, never bullied: a pure gentleman. I just loved being in the same room with him, even when he was talking with someone else.

Robert was one of the first to pioneer the renaissance which has happened in that corner of my city. I knew him first (in 1987) through his involvement with Two Doors Down Gallery and after that Otherwise Gallery and currently Creole Gallery… where he arranged the art exhibits and Meegan Holland arranges the concerts. Brian and I have opened for three concerts there over the years.

It is a place where wonderful people gather, where art (visual and performance/music) blossom and thrive. It is a place for community, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

My favorite story about Robert is when a mutual friend had moved out of town. She came back to Lansing and wanted to see Robert. He was not where she expected him to be. So she walked up and down Turner Street and Grand River Ave., calling out loud “Robert, where are you?” I don’t remember if she found him that way or not… but it is as likely as anything that she did. (The photo is Turner Street, the largest red brick building houses the Creole.)

Robert, may you rest in peace.

Creating a Good Mood

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

The weather here is crummy. The sky is gray, it’s cold and wet, and there has been snow off and on for a while. It’s pretty big flakes but it would be easy to get down about it if I did not make distractions for myself.

lynnkristiyarns.jpgI spent Monday morning singing Annette Hanshaw‘s version of “Loveable and Sweet,” for hours. (This is a 1920’s pop/early jazz song by my favorite singer of the era.)

I just put the song on repeat and kept singing it. (I’m trying to learn the words so I can perform it. I just learn best when I repeat a zillion times… and I love the song so I don’t get tired of it at all.) The best line? “He’s candy!” I could not have a bad mood listening to Annette no matter how gray it was outside.

Then I went to my post office box. Wowie! The Kristi Comfort Wrap Diana offered to knit for me arrived. Oh. My. Incredible. Not a bit of gray in any one of these yarns, I’d say. Total intensity heaven for this ColorJoy fanatic. I like colors high on the intensity/saturation scale (in art class they called this “high chroma”). The lower the chroma, the more gray or black in the color… the higher the chroma the less gray and the more “fluorescent” it looks. This wrap is very close to fluorescent.

flowerseeds.jpgI got to choose the yarns, and Diana knit. I feel so loved. It is around my shoulders as I type this. It is SO warm and SO colorful and SO soft! It’s like a hug, which is just what I intended when I knit the first one of these for Kristi. I never imagined I would get hugged back by a later version of the same design.

I once more chose Nashua Creative Focus wool/alpaca worsted as my base yarn. I chose ten knit-alongs in all (alternating two of them where I didn’t have enough to finish a stole with just that yarn). There is mohair, alpaca, angora, merino wool, and sockyarn in here, and even one handspun singles which I spun myself, from merino/silk.

The colors in the stole are totally ColorJoy, in the truest sense. The range goes from the bluest of purples through hot purple, and fuschia/hot pink. On the other side of the spectrum I have turquoises from bluish to greenish, deep to light, (including the aqua I used for the background color in my intarsia knitted self-portrait last summer). And there are two sockyarns with blues, grass green, and one with hot spring green as a “pop” to wake up the rest of the colors.

I can not explain how much I love this stole. Thank you, Diana!
I had to go straight to teach computer class from the post office, pretty much. (There was much interest in my stole from my students, of course.) On the way home from the classes I stopped at a kitchen store, trying to find a certain baking pan which they did not have.

yellowdishes.jpgHowever, they had a clearance table of dinnerware. I took home four small plates, in sunny-side-up yellow. They are so cheerful!

Most of my dishes are a medium-to-light turquoise/aqua color, but I have had this set for about 15 years and more than half of the small plates are broken. It makes me very sad. However, now I have these yellow plates to make me smile and that really makes a difference. (The Fiesta bowl in the photo is the only turquoise Fiestaware I own, but it is the same color as my main set of dishes.)

Oh… the middle photo? Tuesday in a mood of total optimism, I purchased Morning Glory seeds. I’m not much of a gardener but my friend Ulyana gave me some of these one year and they were really pretty and did fairly well in my crummy soil. The seeds need to be planted one to two weeks before the final frost. I *love* that idea!

Diana’s Moebius

Monday, February 26th, 2007

moebius.jpgThe weekend I went to the knitting guild retreat, I learned from my friend Rae how to knit a moebius strip (a tube with one half twist in it, Cat Bordhi has written two books on this). I knit all afternoon and evening finishing the moebius I started that day.

I have never been particularly interested in this sort of knitting. I find the scientific discussion of the moebius very interesting, and I love making them out of paper and showing kids about their “magical” properties. I just never wanted to knit one, it seemed sort of messy-looking.

I don’t know why a moebius seems messy yet I adore Sally Melville’s Best Friend Jacket/Vest (which has a three-part asymmetrical hemline). Since when do humans make sense, anyway? I’m thinking in this case that I have a tendency to like geometric shapes like triangles more than flowing and organic shapes, but then again there may be more to it.
But a moebius seemed a sort of perfect thing for my beloved Diana. She’s more mystical than I am, more able to take things for what they are than I. I like to think I’m airy-fairy but in fact that is true only in some areas of my life. Diana is more accepting of natural disorder than I am, I think.

For whatever reason… I determined that for most of a day (on retreat) I would knit for Diana. She knits for me, hours and hours and hours and days each week, most weeks. She will rip out and do it over if need be.

She doesn’t complain and she allows me to merely send her lovely yarns in payment. I would love to give her a paycheck but we both know this would be impossible in my current business structure… and she’s OK with this arrangement. In fact, she suggested this arrangement in the first place, and she keeps calling me, asking what else she can knit for me. I’m OK if this changes someday but I sure am getting a lot more done for my business right now with her help!!!

So at the retreat I cast on some dark purple Nashua Creative Focus worsted wool/alpaca in what I thought would be a single-wrap cowl for Diana. I bound off with an attached I-cord using Louisa Harding Impression yarn which Diana loves (it’s a knit nylon ribbon with a soft baby mohair fuzz attached to it, really lovely). The bind off was more than 750 stitches but it seemed the right ending.

And when I took it off the needles, it was half as wide and twice as long as I had expected. I was *very* disappointed at first. I blocked it anyway, and worked in the ends. And took it to Rae’s shop to pout a little.

Then Rae showed me that I could wrap it twice to make it look about the size I had expected in the first place. It would be more warm, every bit as soft and perhaps more beautiful with more of the colorful edges showing.

I sent it to Diana (not telling her I had misgivings). She called me the next day to tell me that she was wearing it wrapped around her head, soft and warm, and she loved it. Of course, I did tell her the story eventually but that was after I allowed her to love it just the way it was.

Sometimes luck goes my way. Whew!

New Items on Shopping Cart

Monday, February 26th, 2007

buttonsfivewhitegreenweb50.jpgI started to write a blog entry about the yarn I put up for sale on my shopping cart last night around 3am. It’s 11am and it just sold. Thank you guys for being such great supporters of my work. It means the world to me.

buttonwithshaft33web.jpgFortunately for those who are tuning in just now, I also put up four offerings of polymer clay buttons. Two are sets of matching buttons and two are individual smaller buttons that might be good on a purse or maybe one of those one-button sweaters or capelets. Three of the four have coloring that sort of tricks the eye into thinking that they have more colors in them than they do. This means they go with a lot of colors of yarn, a very good thing. They “go” without having to match. Cool.

I expect a busy day teaching computer classes today and I am making a custom order tonight for a special friend, but for the record the next thing that I will be putting up on my shopping cart will be “oddballs.” This is mostly short skeins, mostly of my Tiptoe sockyarn, though I think there are also a few small oddballs also of my Cushy ColorSport DK washable/dryable merino.

lynnabelle450.jpgOccasionally an oddball is an unusual yarn I rarely offer (typically an experiment of some sort) but usually they are just skeins that are shorter than my standard size. They can be good for contrasting toes and heels, or for baby items, or just to see if you like how my yarn knits up. For whatever reason, I seem to not be able to keep oddballs in stock. As soon as I process the photos I will have more on the cart.

If you want to be among the first to know when I put up new things (as clearly my customer this morning did), you can go to my shopping cart and sign up as a customer. bluecandybutton33forweb.jpgWhen you do that, you can check the box for “global notification” which will let you know if I have added new merchandise. You can also sign up for shop newsletters (I haven’t sent one yet but plan to use this feature occasionally.) Or not, your choice!

Thank all of you for being so loyal and supportive. Without you I would not be able to make this humble living as an artist. I do not take this for granted.

Photos: Three of the four button offerings available as I write this, and the Lynnabelle Cushy ColorSport DK yarn that sold in merely 8 morning hours.

A New Watercolor Bag Combination

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

watercolorbrownautunno12.jpgAaaah… Diana did it again! I wrote the pattern (for my Watercolor Bag), picked the yarn, sent it to her, and she sent me back a knitted item. I felted it (we’re a great team), sewed in the handle, and delivered it to Threadbear, where I bought the yarn. This new bag is on display at the shop as I type this.

The yarn is Autunno from diVe’ (you can see it on the Cascade Yarns website if you click that link). This is one fabulous yarn! It’s a worsted-weight “singles” (one ply, though yarn people say there is officially no such thing as a one ply… sort of like there’s no “first annual” event, only a second annual event, maybe). Anyway, it’s a soft lovely 100% merino yarn which comes in heathered solids and slowly-changing colorways.

I have made ribbed legwarmers with this stuff (really warm). Mine of course were the gray-to-turquoise colorway. This bag has solid handles and bottom made of Cascade 220 in a sort of dark chocolate heather (almost some purple in there). There are three slowly-changing colorways in this bag, the bottom is the gray/turquoise 48162, the middle is turquoise to sunset-gold, which I think is 25741, and the top is a gold to soft mocha (and I can not tell what colorway that one is by looking at the color cards on the Cascade site).

This yarn felts beautifully, and much faster than the Noro Kureyon I used when I first designed it. The fabric is ultra-soft, like a kitten.

For those in town, I am teaching this bag at Threadbear (Lansing, MI) soon. The sessions are two weeks apart… March 18 and April 1, both Sundays from 1:30 to 3:30pm. Cost is $25 plus materials… and since it’s a pretty small project and the yarn is not doubled, it only requires a pattern, four balls of yarn and needles you may already own.

Photos: My Watercolor Bag in diVe’ Autunno, currently on display at Threadbear Fiberarts; and my first Watercolor Bag (knit from three colorways of Noro Kureyon and a solid Cascade 220), currently on display at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan.

Diana’s Comfort Posts

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

dianadelphinium.jpgIn Michigan we are all weary of snow and cold by now. Many of us are down or grumpy or both. Diana, my sister-in-love, has posted today and yesterday in defiance of the blues.

Today she posted garden photos. She is a gardener, and the person I call when I want to know anything about herbs or food plants. Her flowers are wonderful, as well… and she takes great photos of her flowers. Today is a veritable bouquet of flower photos on Otterwise, Diana’s blog.

Yesterday was a different sort of comfort. A recipe! Forty-Clove Chicken Thighs with Lemon Rice. That is, garlic and chicken and more garlic, and some marjoram (you could probably sub oregano if you didn’t have marjoram). It sounds easy (the rice sounds simple as well)… and garlic is definitely comfort food during winter.
Thanks for the uplifting posts, Diana!

Incredible Dance/Music Video

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

nicholas2.jpgThis is incredible… on YouTube.com, from the movie Stormy Weather. Jumpin Jive with Cab Calloway (music) and The Nicholas Brothers (dance). nicholas1.jpgIt’s musical, artful, athletic. I find it hard to believe my own eyes.

We listened (also on Youtube) to an interview with one of the brothers from just a few years ago. He said they did it (at least that final staircase sequence) in just one take. Amazing.

Brian Hefferan Solo Performance Tonight!

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

My Brian is playing during dinner hour at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine in East Lansing, MI tonight (Saturday, February 24). The show is 6:30-8:30. You can get a map to Altu’s on her website.

Brian used to do solo performances often enough that I learned about who he was, listening to him play. I loved those old songs he played, and though I was not looking for a partner I always made sure to get to his concerts whenever I saw them announced in the local papers.

Now that we’re The Fabulous Heftones as a couple, he almost never does solo performances. It’s sort of too bad, because the man is an encyclopedia of songs and I know only the tiniest percentage of the music he can play off the top of his head. I mostly know love songs, though I’m working on expanding to jazzy numbers. He does original instrumentals, dance tunes from the turn of the century, rags and marches, jug band music, old timey music (written for fiddle), bluegrass banjo, and more novelty/humor than can fit in two hours.

I am looking forward to “Java Jive” (a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!… was used for Maxwell House coffee commercials if I remember right). Do consider joining us.

Gratitude List

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

When I get grumpy the best thing I can do is write a list of things I am grateful for… so here it goes:

  • My dishwasher! (Also my clothes washer/dryer.)
  • The February thaw we have had for a few days.
  • My beloved who somehow loves me even when I’m grumpy.
  • Sweet potatoes (see photo).
  • Great friends, some of whom are also the owners of yarn shops where I teach.
  • My “job” which is really a few dozen jobs rolled into one (I never get bored).
  • All of you who have read this blog, purchased any pattern from me, any yarn, any class, any anything… creating income that helps me continue to make a living as an artist/instructor.
  • My car (see photo).
  • My Heftone Bass, a gift from my father in law who invented and built it himself.
  • Two ukuleles I bought for myself… one pistachio green “Flea” and one turquoise “Fluke” (I don’t play them well but I am delighted with them, and never really wanted one before ukes came in colors other than brown). (see photo)
  • My singing career with Brian, another part of making a living as an artist.
  • Foods which I love and which nurture me and make me happy (especially Teff muffins (see photo), baked sweet potatoes and oven-roasted rutabaga fries… really).
  • Yarn, good needles, knitting.
  • My gizmos: laptop, two cameras, cell phone, MP3 player, stereos in car and office and dyeing studio.
  • My fiber tools: spinning wheel, swift, ballwinder, skeinwinder, and its new yardage counter.
  • A house big enough to (almost) hold a one-woman art business, including a basement in which to dye yarn… small for Lansing but it would be luxurious if we lived in NYC and I know it.
  • Color. Lots and lots of color, the brighter the better. This ncludes my clothing, my dishes, anything I can embellish with more color including our house.
  • The sunshine we have seen in this town in the last week.

Grumpy… and Not March Yet

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Thursday I wrote a really long post, published it to the web for a short while, then took it down. I decided not to pass my less than cheery thoughts to you.

I had two difficult days in a row with young people (Wednesday and Thursday). Mind you, in my classroom all was in order.

It was busier and noisier than usual because I had at one point a dozen knitters (8 boys and 4 girls) and two computer kids. They still honored my rules and observed the usual level of politeness (pretty good with a few lessons in boundary-setting thrown in at times).

However, in the building (outside my room, in fact just exactly outside my door) several times I had to deal with difficult situations. They could have impacted the serenity inside my room. I handled it well, in my estimation. My group of knitters grew because of my actions, in an odd turn of events.

Name-calling and teasing are not allowed, you know. There are reasons we have rules of this sort! I had to enforce these things more often (and more forcefully) than usual and it made me sad.

March is a grumpy month. It feels like we all (including myself) got there too soon this year.

My Yarns are Up!

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

My Shopping Cart is now updated with all of my new full-sized skeins of Tiptoe Sock Yarn. I made 7 colorways this time, with anywhere from 1 to 8 skeins in each colorway.

Sometime here in the next week I will be posting some short “oddball” skeins in solid colors (I imagine these for contrasting heels/toes or baby booties, or maybe just as a way for you to see if you like the feel of my yarn). I also hope to post a few polymer clay buttons.

The colors in the photo above are not as true as the photos on the shopping cart. Well, the almost-solids (flammegarns) are fairly close, it is the multicolors that are a challenge. As a colorist, I find the limitations of the web somewhat limiting. No photos (web or print) can show the billions of colors our eyes can see in good light. I work very hard on correcting the web colors as closely as possible. I get excellent feedback from folks when they do receive their yarn.

As always, I totally guarantee you will love the color when it arrives. For the record, I’ve never had to take a return on anything. Folks usually like the colors more when they get the package… but I still stand behind that promise.

I have had a small run on my yarn in the last 24 hours, which delights me. (I am thinking that the folks buying in the last 24 hours had signed up for “global notification” if I changed/added anything to my cart. I don’t know why else they would have known that things were happening since I had not announced it anywhere.)

debrachinnlavenderwaffle33.jpgThe shopping cart will tell you how many of each colorway are in stock, and it will stop displaying a yarn if I sell out of that color. So no more worries about whether I have run out of something, the shopping cart is our friend.

As always, thank you all for your support. An extra thank you to Debra Chinn of California, who often knits with my Tiptoe yarn and sent this photo. We think these were from my Lilac Flammegarn that I dyed late last year (mostly lilac with tiny spots of white). She used the waffle stitch (sometimes called Blueberry Waffles) for the leg pattern on these. Notice how far she was able to knit with one skein. Debra writes: “I always have yarn left even with size 10 feet!”

Debra, you always do a wonderful job. Thank you for sharing this recently-completed pair with us.

Experimenting with Recipes

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

recipe3.jpgYou perhaps “heard” me say recently that I had experimented with a Teff brownie recipe and it was not fully successful. I have to say that the brownies were too crisp the next morning. However, they did taste better at room temperature than they did straight out of the oven.

I then was reading favorite blogs and lo and behold, the February 16 post for “Something in Season” is a discussion of how to experiment with recipes. Worth a read for those who cook and/or bake, particularly for those who have limitations as far as ingredients for whatever reason.

The writer of the blog I’m discussing cooks gluten-free. He also tries to cook with local, seasonal fresh ingredients from his farmer’s market. I like his writing style, his attitude about food and family and life, and his blog.

recipe1.jpgI find it amusing, though… he does type out his recipes on his computer, then prints them out, then makes notes in handwriting of things he plans to change. He says his wife chuckles at how it looks.

I’m glad that Brian has nothing to say about my recipe pages. The recent success I had with Teff muffins (yum, had them again today) was the result of much experimentation.

I first made the recipe on the bag of teff flour from Bob’s Red Mill. However, it called for rice flour and eggs which I wanted to eliminate. I did a few tries with notes on the label of flour, then I typed out what I’d liked best on paper. That paper now has 10 different variations on it, because every time I made the muffins I changed something and every variation was documented down to how long I baked them.

The Teff Muffin success is one of the few recipes I feel I will never need to change again. Having said that, today I made them with a new type of starch just to see what characteristics that starch has compared to something I know well.

I have done this experimentation with my Buckwheat pancakes (trying to use fewer flours at once, trying to eliminate eggs, etc… and that page has even more variations noted than the Teff muffins. I *LOST* the sheet I used for pumpkin bread, the one that was so good even people with no limitations would request it. It’s somewhere in the piles and piles of papersrecipe2.jpg in my office, I hope. I’d taken it out of the kitchen intending to post the recipe here for you folks and we all lost it at that point.

Anyway, I’m providing you with three photos of my recipe sheets (the third is granola bars, I’m still not at 100% satisfaction with those, either) for your entertainment.

Chuckle if you want… it’s an odd science but this is how I do it. Baking is truly science… you need the right balance of ingredients, heat and time to make things work. It is too easy to have something not rise, not hold together, not brown/carmelize as it should. Cooking soup is much less precise, which makes it easier but maybe less satisfying when it works, it just was not enough of a struggle to be impressed!

No recipes today. I do highly recommend the “Something in Season” blog, just for good writing even if you have no food restrictions.

Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

The Museum of Arts & Design in New York City is having an exhibit called Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting until June 17, 2007. I am going to be in New York for the NYUkefest at the end of April! I get to go to the exhibit!!!

Happy, happy Lynn.