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Archive for February, 2007

And the Winner Is…

Monday, February 19th, 2007

OK, I dyed yarn. I dried it. I re-wound it into skeins. I need to label it but took photos while the sun was out (the porch is a good place for photos on days like this, since it is above freezing and I’m shielded from the wind while getting nice reflected light).

So I took the photos inside. And I got really frustrated. You see, I dyed some yarn in the most wonderful colorway I’ve ever dyed… at least for me (I do have favorite colors, as you know). It is a wonderful intense turquoise with a new deep pink dye and my favorite intense purple with blue tones.

So I took photos. I could *NOT* get it to display the turquoise/green aspect of the yarn at all using the new, slick Sony Cybershot camera I bought not long ago. It was so frustrating.

*Then* I remembered that I had another digital camera in the house. I bought that camera in November, 2004 and took all my photos in Africa using it. I thought I’d left it at the Temple Club but found it in the pocket of my rarely-worn dress coat, months later. I tried a few shots with the old camera, a plain-vanilla Kodak Easy-Share. (Of course, there are features in each camera that either I adore or strongly dislike, it’s impossible to pick a favorite one at this point. For today, color was everything.)

I’m delighted. The old camera handles this colorway better than the new one. Here are the photos, side by side (new camera, old camera):

swatchsony.jpg swatchkodak.jpg

Whew. To be honest, I do color-correction in PhotoShop on every photo I take, but this was the best I could get given the photos I had.

Turquoise, Hot Pink and Purple. The perfect LynnH colorway. The turquoise is more intense in real life, but you can at least see it and that’s a relief. I’m back on the road…

Busy Away from My Desk

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

whartoncenter.jpg(Late addition to post: Photo of me in the mezzanine of Wharton Center before the concert. I’m wearing my dress from the Congo and my Party Stole. Thanks to Brian for taking the photo.)

Busy!

Sunday was a full day. I woke up at 8:30am (incredibly unusual for me) and was already daydreaming of finishing the dye work I started Saturday, before I got out of bed.

Dyeing Tasks

When I dye yarns, I steam them to set the dye, then I leave them covered in towels to stay hot as long as possible (so they don’t run in the wash later). So after a long dyeing day, I wake up the next morning and first thing rinse out the yarns that have come to room temperature.

The rinse is not about color. Acid dyes (they require a mild acid such as vinegar to create a proper pH for color-bonding to happen) do something called “exhausting the dye.” This means that if you put a reasonable amount of dye and a reasonable amount of fiber together in a solution with the right acid pH balance, and you give it enough heat and time, the water will turn entirely clear. The dye is totally bonded to the fiber permanently and no color is left in the water at all. Very cool! Kids call it “magic.”

I instead rinse my yarns to take out any residual detergent and/or citric acid (I use this instead of vinegar, but it still has an unusual aroma I try to minimize… Kool-Aid also has citric acid in it). Since I have been letting my yarns “heat sink” overnight I have not had any trouble with dye bleeding in the morning rinse. It’s really worth the wait.

Once the yarn is rinsed (in a utility sink), I spin out the water using my clothes washer’s spin cycle, then put the yarns out on sweater-drying racks to dry. In this cold weather (with the heater blowing) they dry in less than a day; in humid spring weather I have to point a box fan at them and it takes however long it takes.

Gauge Woes

While waiting for yarns to cool and later dry, I am knitting. I am struggling (no surprise) to get the gauge I need with a yarn I’ve never used before. I can get its stated gauge but I’m making socks and the gauge needs to be tighter. On the second try I got it much tighter, now I need to work in the in-between needle sizes and cross fingers I can make this work.

If I can get 5.5st/inch with size 3.0mm needles and 7.25st/inch with size 2.25mm, then I need to find my 2.5mm and 2.75mm needles and hope one of them will work out to 6.25st/inch. (At these sizes, US needles are labeled differently depending on the brand, for example 3mm are size 2-1/2 in Brittany needles but size 3 in other brands.)

Photos and Patterns

partystolecropcorrectgamma12.jpgI am also working on the text/images for my current batch of patterns under development. I went out in the snow wearing a silk sweater, silk skirt and the Party Stole which will soon live at Threadbear, so that Brian could take a final photograph for me (brrr!). He took 14 shots and one is working out fine. Have I mentioned lately what a great sport Brian truly is? The best.

Of course, my primary expertise with PhotoShop is with web graphics… I’m very comfortable with that angle, but it took me hours to figure out how to get this photo to print well on paper in my pattern. It looked great on screen, of course!

Miscellaneous Knitting

I finished a pair of heavy slipper-footies a few days ago, all except for closing up one heel. I finished one legwarmer which will be a sample. I cast on for a sock for me in Bingo. I don’t remember where I got this yarn, it’s a sort of hot pink/magenta, and I know Threadbear carries many colors of this yarn but not this pink.

I’m happy to have the yarn, at any rate. Bingo makes great socks, I’m wearing some green ones from 2005 (same color as my brother Eric’s pair from 2006) right now.

The Concert

I knit the pink Bingo when we were at Wharton Center tonight, before the show and during intermission. Ladysmith Black Mambazo is just plain amazing. Seven voices and the rhythms which can be made by humans standing on stage, nothing else. I cried plenty, as predicted. That was a pretty great substitute for a Florida vacation since we just couldn’t make one fit in this year.

I sort of like having a pair of socks as a reminder of a good concert. I remember a pair I knit during a James Taylor concert a few years back… they have been darned a few times but are still wearable.

Work is Waiting

The yarn is dry now, but it is almost bedtime. I have 35 skeins to wind and label, and photograph for you/my online shop.

I guess I will be winding yarn all day Monday, since it is a holiday here. I do not teach computers tomorrow, though I will be helping a friend install her new printer. Other than that, it’s another long day in ColorJoy Studio Heaven. I am not complaining. I LOVE my long days alone at home! I get so much done!

A Work-Filled Day

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Finally. I had a full day at home alone, and I was able to get a lot of work, many tasks done during that time.

Samples

I blocked the charcoal Kristi Comfort Wrap this morning (and worked in some ends while I was at it). I shrunk a Watercolor Bag that Diana knit from diVe’ Autunno yarn, it turned out well. I had to spend some time prodding it into shape but it dried nicely. Now I just need to sew some D-Rings into the inner edges for the handles, and it can go to Threadbear for display.

This new bag is really lovely though very different than my normal colors. It’s sort of southwestern sunset colors, pleasing to so many of us. The fabric is dense and soft, too, very nice.

Plugging Along on Patterns

I did some photo editing and a little proofreading on the patterns I’m developing right now. I also touched base with Diana who keeps knitting like there is no tomorrow. She told me she’s a good bit into the Kristi Wrap she’s knitting for me! Oooooh, the suspense!

Dye Up to My Elbows

Then I spent hours in the basement studio making yarn into pretty colors. It is lovely, very nice. My new yellow-green dye is particularly satisfying at this cold time of year. I love spring greens in February!

I finished dyeing at 10:21pm, and stopped to shed the water-soaked clothes and put on the turquoise loungewear/jammies my friend Altu gave me for my birthday. Then I had a nice cup of tea and I’m back doing more.

Carefree Knitting

I’ve knit a bit more on a legwarmer that is intended to become a pattern in the next wave of patterns, mostly because it truly is knitting I need not think about while I am doing it. I can do that sort of knitting while touching base with Diana. So much knitting requires concentration but not a legwarmer! I love that sort of worry-bead knitting, it really makes me happy. I never get bored knitting tubes, though I know many folks do.

Challenging Knitting

Now I am going to get out the new yarn I got to make an adult ladies’ large size Chippy sock. I am curious to see how this works out, because the colors are much lower contrast than I would normally use in a colorwork design. They are nice together, though, and it’s mostly about doublechecking the yarn requirements of the pattern rather than a photography session this time. I hope I can get the right gauge. That may be the hardest part of the project.

I hope these will be able to be retrofitted for Brian after I make them to spec from the pattern. Or that is the plan right now, because his foot is closest of anyone in my family to that size. if that does not work or if he doesn’t like how they look, perhaps we’ll see if they work for Altu.

Resting the Muscles

OK… now I get to work on the couch for a while. The reward of a physical-labor day is to rest the body when it is done. Dyeing is tiring, physically. My back does not hurt but it gets tired from carrying bins of water and yarn. I am very glad I am well again and can do it once more! Count me as one grateful woman.

Good night.

A Heat Wave and Green Dyes

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

It is 37 degrees F (3.7C) outside right now! Oh, My! What luck.

I cooked Buckwheat pancakes for breakfast and the house was full of the related cooking smoke (we do not have a vent fan in our old house). Since I still have a lingering cough from the flu I had last month, the smoke was a real irritant. I wanted to open doors and/or windows. Honestly, I’m big on open windows any time of year and it has been a long time since this house had a chance to breathe.

One glance at the thermometer and I took action. I turned off the furnace, and opened front and back doors. Thank goodness for a really warm alpaca sweater, longjohns, legwarmers and two pairs of wool socks (yes, this is what I often wear indoors in the winter, and we keep the heat at 72F/22C which I realize is relatively warm for many folks). Remember that I’m not truly happy until it is 84F/29C. I like it warm!

That said, the doors did not stay open long. I’ll take what I can get in February.

kristitwo16.jpgI have started a dyeing day. The space heater is making the basement studio liveable right now (I can not wear my good alpaca sweater down there when dyeing, so I need to heat it a bit before I go down there). I got a couple of new green dyes just before I got sick, and I am very eager to play with greens and turquoises as I always do in February.

I’ve already started my workday by blocking the Kristi Comfort Wrap that Diana sent me (charcoal Lamb’s Pride worsted with greens and blues, for Linda at Little Red Schoolhouse). This one is not as soft as the Nashua Creative Focus wool/alpaca (like the purple wrap that is at Rae’s shop) or the Malabrigo merino worsted, but it is every bit as warm and beautiful.

(I can not get the photo to display properly… it is charcoal gray with bits of green and blue peeking out, and this photo looks like the base yarn is green, sigh. The blue one is approximately that color but the depth of the knit-alongs is missing.)

The indigo/purple-blue Malabrigo Kristi Comfort Wrap that Diana knit as a sample for Threadbear was already blocked last Monday. It is ready to take to their shop as soon as I can get enough new patterns ready to print/sell for them to place an order. (Their Party Stole sample in greens/turquoises, just like the one I wear, is also ready to go.)

I hope Brian will be able to take some photos of me in the Party Stole tomorrow when we are both home, because that is the only thing missing in that pattern. Just a full-view photo is the delay.

The Chippy Socks (pattern #3) will wait until I can do one last sock as a test, since all the samples so far were done in tiny sizes. I’m doing a Large sized sock to be as sure as I can that all sizes are on target (especially for amounts of yarn required, since the pattern is a three-color project).

OK, off to exchange an alpaca sweater for two black (un-stainable) cotton sweatshirts and my full-length white cotton lab coat. I’ll pull on my rainbow-striped rubber boots (which are warm, thank goodness). Then I will get down there (just me and the spiders in our humble basement with good lighting) to see what beautiful colors I can pull together.

Photos added later: Two Kristi Comfort Wraps (fringe not showing). Left is Brown Sheep worsted in charcoal with nine knit-alongs from fingering to DK weight in hot yellow-green to turquoise to sapphire blue. Right is Malabrigo merino worsted with nine knit-alongs in mostly greens and blues but with a few sockyarns, a Colinette mohair and some Koigu PPPM adding colorful “pops” of interest. You can see the Koigu cherry red peeking out even in this small photo.

Something Like a Day Off

Friday, February 16th, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Air

I had a day off today. The schools are off for 4 days because of Presidents’ Day. No elementary kids Friday, no adult computer students this coming Monday. No Florida vation this weekend as planned, but as I mentioned before we have a Ladysmith Black Mambazo concert Sunday.

(Brian plays with Scarlet Runner Stringband at a Contra Dance on Saturday. I am not sure what I will do Saturday, I have too many choices and my favorite thing to do is stay home on Saturday nights when Brian’s out. I love long quiet times at home, especially when it is dark outside.)

Friday was pretty darned good! I had been so tired the night before that I fell asleep on the couch before 11pm. I woke up around 1:30am and went upstairs and slept till I think 10 or so. I needed the sleep and had no reason to cut it short.

A Slow Morning/Good Breakfast

I woke up as slowly as I could, with some good black tea (packaged in an orange box with Arabic writing on it, something very special in my book after my trip to Egypt and the tea there). I then made my wonderful, fabulous, as-perfect-as-possible Teff muffins for breakfast.

I made 6 muffins, gave one to Brian and proceeded to eat the five that were left. For someone like me who is actually losing weight slowly because of food restrictions, if I can eat that much breakfast it is a good thing to proceed. (Odd for someone who once had an overeating problem but then we are so clearly not in charge of our destiny I should not be surprised.)

The Business of the Day

I made a plan to work in my jammies as long as possible today. I did some email work, some publicity for Altu’s restaurant, and a little knitting while I was trying to become truly awake. I had some packages to get into the mail so when my friend April called, inviting me across the street to her house for tea, I asked if she might come here instead and chat while I packaged. She was without her toddler for part of a day so came right over (me still in my jammies with a sweater on top). It was great.

While April and I chatted, Brian made dinner in the crockpot (he even went out to get ingredients, what a guy)… turkey and parsnips and carrots and bok choy. I really like this combination, and I like it even better when I do not have to do the preparation.

After April left I took a long hot bath and then ran my errands. I had to pick up some more yarn for testing my Chippy Sock pattern one last time (people keep asking when it will come out… as soon as I am confident all the numbers are right… it will be in eight sizes so I need to really doublecheck the numbers). I am going to try the Rowan DK Rae got in… not my colors but colors that go well with one another… it feels good so I’m trying it.

I also had to go to the health food store (finally I feel well enough to stand in line and wait at the checkout, after a month of feeling weak in the knees). I got the three things I’d planned to get, plus some really healthy and wonderful organic kohlrabi. I could not resist. And I ran into some friends. I always see someone I know there. I never see anyone I know when I go to “Texas Roadhouse” but always at the health food store. I’m not quite an “earth muffin” but I guess creative folks hang out there for some reason.

Finally, I went to the Post Office. Diana had sent me two projects she finished knitting for me. Oh, Joy! The Watercolor Bag in Autunno yarn promises to be incredible (it’s like a sunset in SouthWestern colors… turquoise and gray and gold). I still need to felt it, but it holds much promise and the sample felted swatch is wonderful so I’m hopeful.

The package also held a Kristi Comfort Wrap for Little Red Schoolhouse in charcoal Lamb’s Pride. It is spectacular with its knit-alongs in blues and greens. I so want to keep this one, it goes with my Harris Tweed man’s coat but I need to let it sell patterns for me for a while first.

After Errands

Home again, we ate lovely food thanks to my beloved. I knit a little more. Then Brian set up the computer to do some recording. I did another set of vocal takes for “Button Up Your Overcoat” and a harmony vocal on one of Brian’s pieces.

I never enjoy recording but I am getting better at it, which means it does not take as long as it once did to get a set of good takes. It would help if I picked easy-to-sing pieces, but it seems I keep picking vocally challienging songs. That’s easier to pull off if you are singing your little heart out on a live stage… but on a CD you just can hear every small waver.

Brian humors me until I feel I have recorded enough times that I have a good take or two or three. He’s a genius at fixing problems (cutting and pasting phrases when needed) and I really appreciate that. He is so easy to get along with… I sometimes wonder how I got to live with this man. I am sure I don’t deserve that luck, though I try.

Winding Down

So now here I sit… the socks I thought I’d finish by noon are still sitting with about six rounds left until completion. And instead I’m knitting on a legwarmer that finally is allowing me to knit consistently at the gauge I need. The legwarmers I ripped out maybe four times when I was sick, because I could not knit to gauge no matter how I tried.

And I’m eating what was supposed to be brownies. Teff brownies. One of my allergy cookbooks says that Teff makes good brownies but does not supply a recipe. I tried to adapt another egg/milk-free brownie recipe I’ve used before, but it emphatically had problems. The texture is too much like sawdust to be enjoyable, though cocoa and brown sugar make it edible in small doses.

Maybe I will dig out those socks one more time. Six more rows!

I Found a Recipe

Friday, February 16th, 2007

It is really cold here. We are eating a lot of root vegetables and cabbage-family foods right now. They are satisfying in this sort of weather, for some reason.

Some of you have read me talk about my love for the vegetable called kohlrabi. It tastes like a very mild cabbage, with a texture like a crisp apple. It’s actually a stem that is enlarged to the point of looking like a bulb or a root. My mother once had a summer in the garden which resulted in a bumper crop of these. I like them peeled and sliced in stir fry, I like them as a fresh salad in summer, or as something like “carrot sticks” as a quick snack. I put chunks in soup sometimes, too (which does not require peeling).

What is nice is that now I can find them most of the year at the large local Meijer grocery  chain. Also quite often I find slightly-smaller organic ones (just as tasty) at the health food store.

Today when searching for information on rutabagas, I found myself reading a recipe for Spicy Kohlrabi (which contains some spices used in Indian cooking). It sounds good to me on this chilly day. I expect that if you leave out a few of the spices because you do not have them in the house, it still will taste good. Disclaimer: I have not tried this recipe, it just sounds good.

More about My Kid Knitters

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

This photo (from January) is the oldest of my knitters at Foster Center. She is in High School right now, and she usually comes to knitting with her Mother (who also knits with us). Here she is showing off a handwarmer she made in the round (on double-pointed citykidzhandwarmerfeb07.jpgneedles… she made socks last year), complete with thumb. This yarn was donated to my program (it is Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride, very warm and perfect for a handwarmer).

The kids in all of my programs have been asking me to thank all of you who have donated needles, canvas bags, yarn, needles, scissors… I make sure they know that nearly everything we use was given to them as a gift. That it is *theirs* to keep and use. And that they can keep receiving yarn as long as I see that they are knitting it at home… there is a supply as long as they are using it responsibly.

For those who will ask, I do have enough of some things (acrylic yarn in solid colors) but always can use a few special items… We are not in dire straits here because my local knit guild has been very supportive as have been my adult computer students.

However, since I now have more kids to supply, inventory is a little lower than usual. I will try to be specific.

We are always short on straight knitting needles in sizes 5 to 11 (single needles are more than welcome, I have lots of singles they might match), circulars in the same sizes for hats and small bags (I think that’s about a 16″ cable). I can not keep multicolored worsted-weight yarns in stock (they adore redheart rainbow, as we all did at that age if we had the choice). I also need darning needles (those plastic ones are just great), canvas bags (advertising is fine) in which they can carry their projects, and yarns that can be either felted and/or dyed (that is, animal fiber especially in pale colors).

citykidz020107.jpgFor the most part they knit worsted or bulky weight yarns, in smooth textures. I have some capable of knitting thin yarns but they typically do not have the patience to knit that many stitches in one project. Even my kids who knit socks use washable yarns with at least a small wool content, but in worsted or bulky weights.

What I do not need: I have plenty of novelty yarn right now. I can use a little acrylic in really bright colors, purple or variegated/multicolors but I am full-up with solid colors that are “adult” colors such as cream, burgundy or navy. I can’t use thin yarns. I can’t use anything that was in a basement long enough to smell mildewy. I can’t use adult instruction books. I have enough double-pointed needles (DPNs) unless you want to send wood or bamboo. Some kids drop needles (especially DPNs) if they are not wood or bamboo, or plastic… (I do not have the kids enough hours for me to teach them to make their own needles, as cool as that might be. They need to spend their rare time with me actually knitting, as there are many of my kids I literally see one hour a week.)

As I said, right now I’m OK, I’m not desperately begging, but especially canvas bags, darning needles and straight knitting needles in any length are an ongoing need. And kids are so fascinated with felting that any shrinkable wool gets used up pretty quickly, though it is by no means a necessity.

If you are sending something, I’d appreciate a note to let me know to watch for a package. The address would be:

Lynn Hershberger
c/o Foster Community Center
200 N Foster Avenue
Lansing, MI 48912 USA

As always, thanks for your emotional support… no donation necessary. Your emotional support is most surely enough. For those who do send a package, I can get you a tax letter detailing what you donated if you include a piece of paper inside the package with your name and email address and/or snailmail address on it. (The paper goes to the secretary, the rest of the package goes to the computer/knitting room.) A business card would work, if you have one.

Oh, the last photo… CityKidz Knit! at Foster Center just a few weeks ago. Every day is a different group, though many return often. The child at far right made socks last year and a glove this year, and moved to Oregon this month. I love them all, and that means I already miss her. The good news is that I know she will knit without me no matter where she goes. That feels really good.

Thank You, Charlotte (Recipes)

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Charlotte wrote that there was an article about African cooking in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. There are recipes from both Somalia and Ethiopia. I printed out several and I’m eager to try them.

My friend Altu is an Ethiopian cook of the highest caliber… but she finds it hard to talk in “recipes.” She cooks by feel, sort of the same way that I knit… I make up the socks on the needles as I go. (Actually Altu was once a prolific knitter and she knit the same way… no patterns but general guidelines.)

Therefore, the recipes in today’s article are precious. Twice precious, in this winter weather. We did not get as much snow as was predicted, but the drifting is bad. When I got home could not see the first step to my back door.

It is a perfect day to make spicy and warm food. I will be singing at Altu’s restaurant and she will fill me with her own cooking… I will not cook today. If I did not have that luxury, I would have a stack of excellent recipes ready!

Valentines Day at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine!

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

For those looking for a pleasant evening on Wednesday, Brian and I are playing as The Fabulous Heftones, at Altus.

The reason for a mid-week performance is Valentines Day. We will croon to you alone, with a sweetie, or with a table of friends. (For the single folks in the crowd, Brian will surely do a rendition of “I Love Me” in your honor.)

The food is as good as it gets in Lansing. The menu ranges from vegetarian to meat, spicy to mild, beef stew on a bed of rice to spicy lamb to mild garlic lentils, on either rice or traditional spongy sourdough Ethiopian flatbread. Yum.

The restaurant is as far west as you can go on Michigan Avenue and still be in East Lansing, Michigan. It’s right next door to the Silver Dollar Saloon. Visit Altu’s website for maps and menu and more..

The show is 6:30-8:30pm. We would love to have you join us.

Kids are Knitting in Lansing!

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

citykidzfeltedpouchfeb07.jpgFor a while I have taken on an extra couple of kids’ knitting programs. I’m at Dwight Rich Middle School (Lansing Public Schools, in a joint project with Lansing Parks & Recreation) for the after-school program on Tuesdays (until June 1, which citykidz011907handwarmers.jpgdelights me… real time to develop these young folks into knitters).

Wednesdays and Thursdays I am still working with CityKidz Knit! at Foster Community Center (City of Lansing Parks and Recreation). Fridays for 4 out of 5 weeks in a row, I’m at an elementary school, also in the Lansing Public Schools.

I still do not know how I ended up the kids’ knitting specialist, but we are not really in charge of our destiny, are we? It is working out just great. One of the girls at Dwight Rich today asked me to thank Mr. Johnson for teaching me to knit (in 1969). How sweet is that?

citykidzpencilholderfeb07.jpgI will never catch up with all the photos I missed posting during the month I felt crummy, but I’m going to overload this post, with the first effort in catch-up.

These three photos are projects by the same young lady. I believe she is in 5th grade, age 11, and she has been knitting since late summer. She is sharp as a tack and loves to knit even when I am not around. Kids who knit at home develop into knitters… practice and dedication make for good projects, no matter what other abilities are brought into the equation.

The kids I work with learn about fibers and where they come from. We talk about how acrylic is essentially a plastic, and how wool is essentially hair. We talk about how we can dye wool with powdered drink mix but not acrylic… we talk about how some wool will shrink/felt making a stronger but less stretchy fabric. The first project here is a set of handwarmers. Notice their size… this made sure they would be completed before the “boring” factor set in. Also notice that they are not matching in color. They are both wool/acrylic blends, washable without shrinking. A good choice, I’d say.

The other two of her projects were knit with feltable/shrinkable wool yarn, and then shrunk. This young lady has adults in her life who value her knitting and who bought her some good yarn at Rae’s shop (very close to their home and to my classroom as well) for Christmas. She has really enjoyed the Noro Kureyon you see here… the colors change so it is harder to be bored while knitting a project using it. She made up both of the pouch and pencil-holder projects herself. She is proud of herself… and I allow myself to be proud of her as well.

Going on a Date

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Brian and I had planned to get away to Florida this coming weekend. Well, then his band switched months to play the local contra dance, on Saturday, right in the middle of our getaway weekend.

Our getaway had to be this week because that is when there is a Monday holiday (Presidents’ Day). Because of the holiday I will not be teaching next Monday. I’d cleaned off my calendar from Thursday night through Wednesday afternoon. I have to plan months ahead to make things like this work. Of course, it all filled up in record time the minute I knew I was not going south.

We then considered going to Chicago or Toronto for an overnight, Sunday/Monday and maybe Tuesday. But then I saw that Ladysmith Black Mambazo (the tour dates on their site are from 2003 but the information page is excellent) was scheduled to sing at Wharton Center/MSU on Sunday. Well, if I had missed that I would have been almost more sad than missing Florida. These guys are really important to my inner self, though it’s hard to explain. Later for Chicago!

I remember the first time I heard this group sing. I was in the sad part of my adult life, but I was alone at home one Sunday and listening to WKAR, our local PBS affiliate. They had a series of folk-related shows that would play on Sundays. I remember how we had the furniture arranged, exactly how things were set up in that room at the time. I believe it was Bob Blackman’s Folk Tradition show (Bob is now a friend), that I had playing. This was right at the time Paul Simon’s Graceland album came out, in 1986.

I was doing housework or something… and the song “Homeless” came on. I was awestruck. I stopped everything, sat right there in the middle of the living room floor and drank in every note. I did not want it to end. I had never heard vocals anything like that before… and voice is my favorite instrument. It changed me forever.

Now I listen to other African musicians as well, but they were the first I heard and I still typically listen to them at least once a week. I even keep one of their CDs in my classroom at Foster Center. There is nothing that can “ground” me more than listening to these men sing.

Brian bought tickets online last night. We are going. I am full of emotion. It’s OK to stay in Michigan this year, though I’ll miss seeing my Mom. Wharton, here we come!

This is a Post

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I feel as though I have nothing to say today. (How can that be? I’m LynnH, after all…)

OK, I’ll give it a shot.

  1. I still feel well, yeah! Thirty-two days of feeling crummy was definitely enough for me.
  2. I slept 9 hours though I did crash early… and am feeling tired enough to sleep before midnight again.
  3. I spent the morning working on the final text edits for my Party Stole pattern. I still do not have photographs. If I can get photos, I will be able to release that pattern this week.
  4. I stopped at Rae’s for literally 3 minutes today, to give her back a circular knitting needle she had loaned me. I was a brat and whined because the moebius I knit looked like it would be a cowl (as planned) on the needles… and I did even block a bit on the needles to be sure… but turned out skinny as a scarf. I don’t wear scarves, I don’t like them (they are not warm enough for someone like me). I believe Rae deserves a better friend than I was today, so I’ll try again tomorrow when I have time to actually talk, and listen.
  5. I taught my computer classes today. That work is very satisfying, but it really exhausts me emotionally sometimes. The people are wonderful, they learn and come back to me reporting on how they can tell they have progressed. I have this drive to teach them as much as I possibly can. Yet I can not teach too much at once or they will not absorb anything. It’s a juggling act I do well. But after that shift (two classes in 4.5 hours) I went home and finished my shadow-knit swatch and now I’m done for the night. Whew!
  6. In the weather report department, it was warmer than it has been in a while. My car had not been started since Friday and I worried it would not want to start today, but it was a champ. I’m grateful for the warmer weather, especially because of that fact.
  7. We had wonderful dinner (homemade red lentil soup for me) out of the freezer so we would not have to cook (and so the freezer will hopefully soon be tamed). I had a cup or two of organic green tea that Altu gave me. And now I’m SO ready for sleep.

I am sure I am a better writer than this on most days. Today I’m a reporter of facts. Please forgive. Tomorrow I don’t teach much and I’m guessing I will even probably have some photographs! Or that is the plan, anyway…

Spent

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

I am glad I went on the MMKG (knitting guild) retreat. I got a change of pace and more time with some of my knitting friends than I usually get. They are good people. I’m so happy I felt well enough to go on this event.

Official thanks here to those who did the work of making the retreat possible. From the phone call people, the finders-of-locations, the idea people, the planners, the money takers, thank you all. Also a more personal thanks to Rae/Extravayarnza who drove me to the retreat and Kristi/Red Dog Knits who gave me a ride home so Rae could leave a little early (and I could stay a little bit longer to socialize… particularly good since I went to bed early on Saturday, losing out on some socializing then).

We all ate more than usual… the food there (I’m told) was very good and as for me, I packed a LOT of (pre-cooked) food from my freezer, good stuff, so I could zap it in the microwave in the dining room. (We all had refrigerators in our rooms, a wonderful luxury.) I ate three meals for 2 days in a row, something relatively rare for me (because of my odd schedule I usually get breakfast, a snack, and dinner… maybe also a snack after dinner).

In addition to the extra food portions (which are good for me right now, I don’t have the overweight problem I had in the late 1970s… after which I lost 50+ pounds which pretty much have stayed lost), I walked a lot. After almost no walking or other exercise for about a month or more. Talk about a combination set to make a girl want to curl up and hibernate!

I came home, unpacked, and had dinner with Brian. After that I bound off/finished the moebius knitting I’d started this morning (it stretched a lot… into a relatively skinny scarf rather than the cowl I’d planned, I’m not sure yet how I feel about that), finished some ends on some socks that have been waiting for attention, and talked to my brother on the phone for 40 minutes.

It is just barely past 10pm and I am totally wiped out, enough that I may go to bed. This from the past-midnight grrl.

Some nights I go to bed at 4am even after not having any caffeine since 9:30 or so, and I just lie there in the dark resting but not sleeping for a while longer. Saturday night I turned off the lights at 11:30 (after pretty much lounging on my bed in the resort for a few hours first) and slept 9 hours. I know this will not last, I’ve been a wee-morning-hours person since I was at least in High School, and years of working a “day job” did not knock it out of me.

But today I’m wiped out from walking and too much food and excitement. I’m wiped out from being out in the cold several times a day. I’m wiped out from so much social stimulation and brain stimulation. And I’m all about turning into a lump many hours earlier than is normal for me. Just for today.

Retreat is Great

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Today Rae and I got to retreat and have been hanging out, eating, knitting, eating, knitting, laughing, and more…

I can’t think of a better way to get away. The site is beautiful, snowcovered and wild but peaceful. The good news is that my strength is coming back. Our sleeping rooms are far from the meeting room which is not yet as far as the dining room.

The great news is that I am able to walk all this distance even though just a few days ago I could barely walk to the car without feeling woozy. This is a wonderful development.

Our class this morning was shadow knitting. I didn’t expect it would be such fun but it really was. I finished a sample with a heart and a half a sample with stripes. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Actually this is reminding me of the shadow/illusion knitting shawl I planned a long time ago… I purchased the yarn at Threadbear and it has been a long time sitting on my shelves.

Right now I’m trying to type this as the group is watching a movie and I’m a bit distracted so I’ll stop typing. I’ll catch you later!!!