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Archive for July, 2007

Slow for a Day

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

I spent the day Monday with my brother. We each drove a distance about halfway between our homes, and sat at a picnic table at a Metropark near Brighton, Michigan, and talked. Hours and hours of talking and we’re not done yet, but it was really satisfying.

Eric knows me better than anyone in the world. He and I have been through some very hard times, the biggest being the deaths of our father and his first wife, Kelly. I don’t recommend going through that at all, but it sure gave me a really powerful connection to Eric. I’m grateful for that relationship.

I’m at a point in my career where I need to make some decisions about how I spend my time. Scheduling has always been hard for me but I really have enough I could reasonably do for my work, to fill two lives. I need to make hard choices and now is when I start.

The one I know already: I will not be supervising computer labs at Foster Center in the fall, though I’ve done computer work for them since around 1994-95. I also will be cancelling smaller projects that just involve too much commute time and too little income-earning time, even though I enjoy those projects.

And then I have to keep going… to look harder at what is left (teaching knitting/art at an increasing number of locations, teaching computers one day a week, dyeing yarn, designing knit patterns, singing) and make hard choices about what I will concentrate on and what will be cut out this time around.

So we chatted and I’m still not sure where I’m headed… but I know how I will spend this week. That’s all, but it’s a start.

Knitting Update?

I have not knit a stitch in 2 days, though I touch yarn and I plan projects. I have a couple pair of socks and a tank top that are on the needles in current rotation. Tomorrow I spend time with my beloved Goddaughter, Sara (Senior in college this September), which is high priority… and also is knitting time. That will be lovely.

Oh… and Sarah Peasley has finished an Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket, out of my Cushy Colorsport Yarn. It’s really really cute. Maybe you will want to check out her blog and see it (among her other wonderful projects).

A Moment to Breathe

Monday, July 30th, 2007

What a crazy-busy few weeks I have had! Sunday night I got home around 6:00pm and actually had some time where I could choose what to do. I picked swiss chard and tomatoes from the garden and made a pleasant dinner, Brian and I took a walk in the neighborhood, and I fussed more with getting my “new” laptop to function right. Also, Brian and I rehearsed a little, and I chatted by phone with my friend April who no longer lives across the street.

Now I’m at it again, on the couch with laptop on my lap well after midnight, falling asleep at the keyboard. I’ve taken photos in the last few days but my Adobe PhotoShop had gone buggy and would not start up. I un-installed it yesterday but then my CD player did not work (did not even show up in the “my computer” screen) so then I could not reinstall it. Fortunately after 2 days of flaky CD player, it is miraculously working again for no apparent reason. I reinstalled it but have had no time to edit anything yet.

Tomorrow/Monday i see my brother Eric. I have a scheduled class around dinnertime in Lansing but I’ll get several hours in with my brother. We often drive to Brighton, a town about halfway between our homes, and talk forever. There is a wonderful metropark there and we’ll meet there.

I am looking forward to most of a day without work tomorrow. For now, I need to be somewhat boring and just sign off. Thanks for sticking with me.

The Best Sort of Busy

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

After four days at the Evart Dulcimer Fun Fest (acoustic music festival) I came back to a wildly busy schedule. I’ve taught every day starting Monday, at least one session, except the day I had a dance performance and rehearsal.

I’ve had anywhere from two to six folks per class. I will teach Sat/Sun as well, and am waiting to hear what the registration is for my Monday night class, too. This is a most unusual July, classes just do not usually “go” like this in hot weather. I’m loving it.

For locals, Brian and I (as The Fabulous Heftones are singing at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine in East Lansing tonight. Concert is 6:30-8:30, no cover charge. The food is incredible, whether you like mild or spicy, vegetarian or meat. There is information on the food on her website as well as the menu items up for your perusal. There is also a map if your have not been there before.

We would love to have your company for this show if you can make it. If not, we’ll be thinking of you!

I’m in Heaven

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I love quotations, many of you know that. I just accidentally found out that the Wikipedia organization has a place called Wikiquote. It has a few dozen languages up and running right now. The English version is here:

http://en.wikiquote.org

It has a section on proverbs which interests me a lot. And then there are sections on quotes from specific people (Helen Keller, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and more)… and on subjects, such as Art. Here’s a bit from the art page:

  • Chagall, Marc
  • “All colours are the friends of their neighbours and the lovers of their opposites.”
  • Audette, Derek R.
  • “The entire ‘my art is better than your art’ thing really gets under my skin. The fact of the matter is: Your art IS better than my art… at being what it is. So what? It just so happens that my art is better than your art, at being what it is.”
  • Klee, Paul
  • “Art does not reproduce the visible; it makes things visible.”

Making Tortillas

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Kathleen’s Vegetarian Kitchen has a (July 22) recent post on making your own tortillas. I love tortillas, both wheat and corn, and can’t eat either at this point. I’ve thought about making my own with alternative flours and now I’m inspired. (I don’t miss regular bread at all, but I really miss tortillas.)

Kathleen shows a photo of women making tortillas that she took when she was in Mexico. I found the article fascinating and loved that photo. Maybe you would like to peek, too.

Gratitude

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Today was very, very good. I have a plump gratitude list today:

Computers

I got my “new” laptop (5 weeks) to synchronize with my palm device, while using the computer as a “Standard User.” It turns out I had to “run as Administrator,” both the synchronizing program (HotSync) and the Palm Desktop/calendar with addresses. For a while now I’ve had to switch users to be the administrator, to check my calendar on the laptop.

It still seems unneccessary to type a password every  time I start my calendar. However, if I can view the calendar and my email program in the same user without logging out and in and out again to switch between those two most-used programs, I’m at the point where now I can at least function on the new machine. It has been about five weeks and now the most important function is working. Whew! I was getting tired of all that.

sushisara.jpg

Relationships

My Goddaughter, Sara, asked to spend time with me this week. We went out for sushi on Monday (see photo), followed by a short walk, a stop at Starbucks (tea for me) and a stop at Barnes and Noble bookstore in East Lansing. She asked to get together again Tuesday to listen to music she wanted to share with me; and a refresher on knitting socks. This really makes me happy.

I adore Sara and we just enjoy each other. I think we both need to know that someone really really loves us exactly as we are. I’m lucky in that I have several folks who love me that way… but you can’t make a relationship have this level of connectedness. It is just plain lucky when a connection works this well… and I celebrate my luck.

Weather/Gardening Tasks

Temperatures are running in the low- to mid-80’s F this week, too hot for many people but exactly my sort of weather. The grass is looking dry all around town, for the first time yet this season. I enjoyed watering my plants (they were fairly desperate for a drink and I hadn’t watered them since last Thursday). They perked up so well!

Food/Garden Produce

I cooked dinner tonight, using some zucchini and yellow summer squash I picked up at Horrocks, a local produce/garden center. I added organic basil from a friend’s farm and a tomato from my very own plant. I also added part of a leek, cut in very tiny slivers, and some fine-ground black pepper, sauteed in olive oil. At the very last minute I added a can of beans (pintos, though I really wanted chick peas/garbanzos). This special summer meal was very satisfying on a bed of buckwheat pasta (soba). This was a treat.

Knitting

I’m unstuck on a project. Whew. I have a block of hours tomorrow so I can do some knitting before I go out. I also have had a series of just excellent classes and there is no end in sight!

turkishsocks16.jpg

Teaching

I forgot to take photos of CityKidz Knit! program but trust me, we’re doing great. I had two kids knitting small items to hand-felt in a tray of soapy water, one knitting a doll from a pattern (she is one of my oldest, most loyal knitters and has followed patterns before), one elementary-aged girl starting her first piece in the round, a tube which will be a purse, on circular needles (she will felt this). I also had a young lady who tried for the first time to knit with two colors on one row, stranded knitting flat. I love my Kidz!

Also I had a three-person, all-day class at Yarn Garden making mini-Turkish Socks (with all the features of a full-sized adult sock). We had a great time indeed. On the right is a photo of my sock and the three participants’ socks. Adorable, no?

Dancing

The Habibi Dancers (including myself as Eudora) are dancing at a cultural diversity event at the Allen Street Farmers Market Wednesday. I think we go on at 5:30, maybe 6pm. I’m really happy that I’m able to dance with the girls this time. I just tend to work on nights/weekends and usually that is when the troupe performs. I’m going to have a blast.

(For the record, if you are local and interested I will be dancing at 6:30 pm and 8pm at New Aladdin’s restaurant in Frandor, the 3rd Friday of August, which falls on the 17th. I love this assignment and will be giving it my all with another girl in the Habibi Dancers’ troupe.)

Sleep

I’m still really really tired every time I sit still. However, Wednesday I have no appointments until we dance (dinnertime) so I get to give myself a morning to sleep in. Cross your fingers for me that I don’t get any unwanted phone calls, OK? Sitting here right now I am on the verge of sleeping at the desk with my keyboard as a pillow… time to tuck it in.

Camp-O-Rama

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

tomatoesonplant.jpgI’ve slept in a tent three different sessions this month. I’m so happy to be back to my own wonderful house and my own bed and the best super-deep claw-footed tub in the world. The porch is extra wonderful and the hammock absolutely perfect, after time sleeping in a tent and dirty feet and cold nights.

The good part is that we go camping to be with great people. During the day when I’m usually relatively comfortable and the sun shines, I don’t mind it much. I prefer camping with flush toilets rather than porta-potties (would absolutely refuse to go if it were more primitive than that). Two of the three sessions had running water, and I was pleased with that part.

I took photos but after two days gone then two home then four days gone, I am hopelessly behind again on photos. I just wanted to check in with you folks and let you know that things are coming to you slowly because I’ve been beyond internet accessibility.

Until the camping photos are processed… for my garden-photo fans, here is a photo of my very own tomatoes… “grown on my own farm.” They are here on my one potted tomato bush on the back step landing. As of today I have picked four tomatoes. One went to Mom, one to Eric and Diana, one Brian ate, and the other is yet to become dinner, probably Tuesday night. I don’t enjoy fresh tomatoes but I like them cooked. I bought summer squash and zucchini so probably will do a saute with those and the tomato (and fresh organic basil from a friend’s farm).

I’ll be back as I have time to catch up. I tell you, travel is very enjoyable but it sure makes my regular life slow down to a halt!!! Thank you for hanging in there.

Upcoming Classes

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

I tell you what… knitting is not getting any less popular if my life is any indication. This summer, for the first time, I’m having a majority of classes actually “go…” and not just one person as in previous summers… sometimes two, three, even four. I even have a special class coming up that has ten already signed up! I’m delighted.

yarngardenperfecthug20.jpgIt’s very exciting for me to stay busy teaching. I love teaching more than anything else I do.

I started a First-Time Toe Up Socks class at Rae’s Yarn Boutique last week (two students), and then the next day when I was at Rae’s another person came in hoping for a sock class. She will sign up when we get the next round scheduled.

On Monday (7/23), I will be teaching Design Your Own Turkish Socks at Yarn Garden in Charlotte (Michigan, 30 minutes from Lansing). That class has three or four signed up… during the day, on a “workday.” I’m delighted.

On July 27, a Friday, we’re having a Pizza and Polymer Clay Buttons party/class at Yarn Garden, as well. I think that will be a blast! It’s a shorter session than I usually do, which may mean that some folks who can’t often get away for a long session, might come for dinner and buttons and socializing. Or so we hope. So far we have so many interested that my head is spinning.

During the day, 11-4, on Saturday 7/28, I will be teaching ColorJoy Stole at Yarn Garden. This class includes a lot of guidance on how to combine yarns when they do not match (on purpose, for a richer texture) as well as knitting instruction for completing a stole.

On Sunday, July 29, I will be teaching my standard (longer, no pizza but more class time) Polymer Clay Buttons and Beads class, a four hour session from 12:30-4:30. This one will be at Threadbear Fiberarts on the West Side of Lansing (just north of the 496 Waverly exit. I often get travelers when I teach at this shop… sometimes from the very north of lower Michigan and sometimes from Toledo Ohio, or other spots requiring real effort to get there. I’m honored by this far-reaching and dedicated group of students. I look forward to this session very much.

On Monday, July 30, I will be teaching “Color Mastery and Confident Yarn Combining” at Little Red Schoolhouse Yarn, also on the West Side of Lansing but very near the Lansing Mall. This one-night offering includes the first section, combining yarns, from the ColorJoy Stole class. However, you can use the information to make a number of different possible items whether my stole or another project.

yarngardenshebelievedshecouldsign.jpgBefore I lose your attention, I’ll end by mentioning my first August class, on August 4 at Yarn Garden. I’m doing my Perfect Hug shaped shawl pattern in a three-hour session from 1-4pm on a Saturday.

I make samples for the yarn shops where I sell patterns/teach, and the sample I made for Yarn Garden has been a real hit. One reason for that, I’m sure, is that Lindsay (the new owner of this shop) really likes the sample and wears it in the shop from time to time. When she doesn’t wear it, she has it on a great display.

I love how she has this sample displayed (first photo above). She shows it off fully (this is the “medium” coverage version which I call the Bear Hug, it is not too long but wraps fully around the shoulders and covers the front of the wearer). The sample she has was knit in Rio de la Plata thick/thin wool, which is a lot like Manos Del Uruguay and Debbie Bliss Soho. See the photo I got last time I was in the shop? Nice display!

Last, I will share with you a non-class photo here. I took this photo last time I was at Yarn Garden. It is hand-embroidered with the saying: She believed she could… So she did. Lindsay, the new owner of the shop (she’s in her 20’s) told me that her sister made it for her when the shop opened. I love the sentiment.

I hope that gives you a smile and some hope, as it did me!

Quick Pics of Grand Ledge

Friday, July 20th, 2007

grandledgebrian.jpgRecently, Brian and I (as The Fabulous Heftones) performed as the entertainment for a wedding reception in Grand Ledge, Michigan. This is a lovely older town west of Lansing which has stayed beautiful and vital. They have a real appreciation for the historical there, including a wonderful old opera house where this reception was held.

Behind the opera house is a river and a park area. I got a few photos just after we got our gear unloaded, before the bride and groom arrived. This photo of Brian pleases me a lot. He’s in the tuxedo he usually wears for our performances, on the back walk of the opera house.

After taking the shot of Brian I turned to my right and photographed the downtown park on the banks of the Grand River (which also flows through downtown Lansing). Very pretty!

Grand Ledge is named that because of some rock formations there (not unlike the dells in Wisconsin Dells). These are popular for local rock climbers. They are in a different park (Fitzgerald Park) which is really beautiful. Grand Ledge is particularly lovely in the autumn, though I think I have never taken any photos there at that time of year.

grandledgeparksmall.jpg

In My Garden

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Eunice likes it when I post photos of my garden. I was quite honored when she told me that. This post is for you, Eunice!

backyard07.jpg
My Plant-Tending Story

I can not say I’m much of a gardener. I’m more of a person who loves color and flowers. I love what grows but I am not thrilled about tending to the needs of the plants.

I also tend to enjoy home gardens which look somewhat natural. Even in someone else’s yard I think I am not so fond of straight rows of tulips or round gardens with edgings in regimented rows. I admire people who are able to make that sort of thing work, and I adore this sort of formality in a public garden (such as Frances Park in Lansing or Applewood Gardens in Flint). I just prefer a softer, more natural look in my own yard.

The Shade Garden

Because of these tendencies in myself, I have learned for the most part to plant things which come up every year. In the front of our yard, we replaced a porch maybe four years ago and lost all of our overgrown bridal-wreath bushes at that time. I planted three varieties of hosta (the front yard is 100% shade most of the summer).

I chose purple-leaf coral bells in the same front garden (with the hosta plants). My horticulturist friend warned me that the purple ones are sometimes not as hardy as the green ones, but I lucked out. The two plants did very well for several years, but this year the largest hosta are taking over and shading them a lot.

I will need to make a choice… move the hosta or move the coral bells. I am leaning toward the hosta, because they are more likely to take a move well.

I also tried lilies of the valley in that garden which seemed to not work… yet this year two lonely shoots came up. Maybe they will turn into something someday, I will honor them by leaving them alone.

The North Side

Fortunately, the lilies of the valley on the north side yard (a thin strip of land, maybe 10ft/3m wide) are thriving and taking over. This was exactly what I had hoped for. There is no tree shade there so it gets reflected light.

There is also a small white wild climbing rose there, with tiny single flat blooms. It has mean thorns but doesn’t grow as fast as the fuschia ones elsewhere on the lot.

On the north we also have a small pink spirea (I’m not at all sure that is how to spell them… the white ones are called bridal wreath). I am not sure how old that one is, but I’m certain it was there when Brian moved in (about 1992).

Gratitude

For the record, when we put in these plants it is me doing the choosing and Brian doing the digging. He is a very good sport about physical labor, and I am grateful.

Brian usually cuts the yard with an “acoustic” motorless mower. It is very lightweight and quiet (I can even push it for a while, where power mowers bother my wrists instantly). Sometimes the woody weeds need a good power cut but that doesn’t need to happen every time. I like this balance just fine, though honestly since I do not do the mowing it’s up to Brian.

The Sunny Side: Wildish Roses

rosesbacksideofhouse07.jpg

On the back and north sides of the house, we have a good deal of sun. This means that things grow on their own, without help… sometimes they grow so well they take over. Since much of our house was built in the 1920s (The front 3 rooms were turn of the century), many of our plants were no doubt established at that time. The roses, at least, will surely live longer than I will.

You can see the fuschia climbing roses in these photos. We have them on the garage behind the house, on the back wall (two major plants, and they creep sideways along the house on either side), and on the north side which is the far side of the house from this vantage point. The north side has two major plants and many little scrubby ones trying to come up.

These are the roses I ignored last year. They had so many dead branches that they were a big mess and ugly tan in so many spots! Roses get powdery mildew easily when there is not a lot of airflow, so it was important to prune all those dead branches out.

I worked several days getting the roses down to a civilized state (they still look wild, I think, but they are not taking over and dying as much). I threw out seventeen paper grocery bags full of clippings, in two sessions, and a few more in subsequent small sessions. Whew!

Yes… these photos were taken *after* the pruning sessions. You can see that I do not dare skip a year with these plants again.

I am grateful for my thick suede (hot pink) gloves. They protect me from most of the puncture wounds I am guaranteed to receive if I garden without them. Sometimes I think I won’t need them, and one time I literally had a thorn pierce a fingernail all the way through. Those beauties are downright mean!!!

The Garage Garden: A bit o’nourishment

garageside2007withchard.jpg
On the garage you can see we have a thriving “snowball bush” which is also no doubt from the 1920s. We moved it once and it’s very happy in this new spot.

Actually, at the very far corner of the garage , we have two rhubarb plants for pies/desserts (behind the snowballs, you can see the furthest one in the shade if you look at the first photo in this post). Rhubarb is a regional treat… very tart, even more so than cranberries.

The furthest rhubarb plant is from Mom, it is descended from plants on the farm in Minnesota where she grew up. It’s very strong and happy even though this is only its second year. The one on the left side of the small door, is tiny and scrawny, has always been a little weak, and now that the snowball is shading it we may lose it entirely.

You may not be able to see it, but on the garage, underneath the climbing rose, to the right of the lilies and the left of the snowballs, is a two foot by two foot area I call my food garden. I know, that’s a bit postage-stamp to be a real garden but it’s in a good spot and that’s all I have time to tend.

In the food garden I have chives (from mom) that are being choked out by the lily. I used to have sage plants for many years but they are gone now and I can not tell why. I have a parsley plant or two… they are supposed to be two-year plants but this is their third year. They are tall and spindly and woody, but they still taste like parsley and I use them when I cook.

I also planted two types of dill from seed, cilantro and spinach also from seed, in this area. The tall (non-bushy, standard) dill is growing OK although I started it a bit too late to really thrive. The bushy dill did not even attempt to come up.

The cilantro is looking happy but still small. And the spinach? Well, it came up but it likes cold weather and my delay means I did not get any for dinner. They are tiny little weedlike bits, but I don’t have the heart to take them out.

You may be able to see in the little area at the foot of the garage rose, an odd plant in the colors of rhubarb (red stem, big green leaves) but much more upright. This is a Swiss Chard plant I got in a pot at the local health food store.

When I bought it, the thing was very sad and droopy. It has recovered well and I have been harvesting bits of it for different meals. I grew it once before but I thought I could only harvest once so I saved it “for special.” Now I know that if I harvest, it will grow more. I’m enjoying this small bit of food “grown on my own farm.*”

* My maternal grandfather used to say this sometimes when dinner came around on the farm in Hanska, Minnesota. My father then started saying it when we would harvest fruit from the trees on our suburban lot near Lansing, Michigan, when I was growing up. I thought it was a common American saying, but it turns out it was about my Mom’s father. Go figure.

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Another food plant takes up the same space as the entire herb/chard garden. It is a potted bush tomato, and it lives on the top landing of the back steps (in the above picture it is in the shade behind the mailbox). Living there it is protected from some bad weather, some animals, and it reminds me to water it every time I come home (because that is the door I use every day).

I have neglected to mention a few other plants that come back each year. We have three peonies, and those in the most sun of course do best. One we moved from shade four years ago and I thought we had killed it, but now it is under the mailbox and almost taking over that area entirely. You can not even see the side of the cement steps any more, which pleases me.

Have a peek at this photo from 2004, the geranium/petunia containers I planted that year (they sit at either side of the steps on the grass, the only flowering plants I fuss with which do not come back each year). See how bare it was, and how tiny the peony behind the pot?

Believe me, at that point I was just thrilled that the peony made it through the winter. It had gone down to one sprig of leaves the fall before.

We also have some wonderful orange day-lilies, the kind which grow wild by the roadside. These just keep growing, again especially the ones in full sun. They keep growing little baby plants on the perimiter and I seem to often be giving those away to friends. I never diminish the number I have, it seems. Perfect.

Also we have a lot of Myrtle/Periwinkle groundcover. At first it did not do that well but I have learned how to encourage it. Now it is doing pretty well. It takes about 3 years for any plant to thrive and I think I’m on my 3rd year of actively encouraging the myrtle… it is trying to take over my tiny food garden so I move it from there to a shady place on the south side, and that place doesn’t look so barren anymore.

We have a relatively small yard for Lansing, but I find it perfect for people who don’t want to spend too much time fussing. I can water all the plants which need assistance, in less than 20 minutes when I get home from work.

Not too big, not too small. As Goldilocks would say: “Just Right!”

Thanks, Chelle!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

I met Chelle/Hanging by a Thin Thread on the internet, in the knitting community. I think the internet is a wonderful, powerful place… I have met so many people here who have become very important in my life… including Chelle.

So last week I got an order through my shopping cart, for a pattern or two and a Fabulous Heftones CD (In the Garden). And the person ordering was Chelle. I was delighted.

So today she wrote me to say she’d blogged our CD. She likes it! Hey Mikey!

Thanks, Chelle. It always warms my heart to hear that the music I love can make someone else smile.

Summer CityKidz Knit!

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

I am about half way through my special summer edition of CityKidz Knit! program at Foster Community Center. I have 13 kids, three of them boys, four of whom I’d not met before this session. Usually this program is a “walk in” program during the school year but after a summer when I had 23 kids who had never knit before and 45 minutes to teach them, I quit summer program for 2 years.

This year my boss lured me back by allowing me to set boundaries about the number of kids and she let me keep the same enrollment list all summer. This means I am having some excellent progress with the kids.

citykidz0707longfingerknit.jpgLast week I had kids knitting small rectangles and felting them by hand in soapy water, sitting on the floor with the lid from a rubbermaid bin which I made into an impromptu felting/shrinking station. I had three kids there most of the two-hour session.

At the end they were surprised that the water looked somewhat dirty. I reminded them that wool is a natural product and that sheep live in fields. They understood after my explanation. This is good information for a city kid to think about.

This week I wore a dress from Ethiopia to the center, because I had a musical performance right after work and the dress was the right kind of formal for the musical occasion. One girl had not heard of Ethiopia but had heard of Africa (these are young elementary-aged kids for the most part).

I keep a wall map of the world, so we walked over there and talked about different countries, and how HUGE Africa is next to the United States… how Africa is not a country but a continent.

How Egypt is in Africa even though it also is a mideastern country and also a Mediterranean country. How when I was in Egypt I saw very old gravestones that were marked in Greek. I showed them Kenya as well, because that was the other country I visited when I went on my trip. Most of the kids had heard of Kenya before (I’m sure they see wild animals from Kenya on TV, if nothing else). They also learned that Nairobi is a city, the capital of Kenya, and not a country (as I had once thought).

I love teaching the kids about places outside their world. This is a very international part of the city where the Foster Center is located, so it’s pretty wonderful to wake up about our neighbors, on our block or on our earth. Let’s face it, so many of us have roots outside of North America (and sometimes we talk about that in knitting class as well, for example I’m Norwegian and we have talked about Norwegian mittens… and when we got a donation of Icelandic wool we learned about that as well).

Lucky for us, restaurants in Lansing now can teach us a bit about the world outside our corner, (at least two of my regulars like to eat at Altu’s Ethiopian restaurant). Also in my case my wardrobe is full of things from other parts of the world, mostly parts of Africa and India.

After all, knitting is culture, it is Folk Art, it is textiles and science (felting) and math (how many stitches should I cast on). I love rolling it all into one… because life is a combination of learning curves and we need to use what we have learned in different combinations, every day.

OK, end of that train of thought for now.

The kids want me to thank everyone out there who has donated supplies to their program. They understand that all the supplies in the room came from you (my knitting friends, local and internet). A huge huge thanks in particular to one Person who lives in the Washington DC area, who has sent box after box after incredible box of very special yarns.

There has been an abundance of luxury in the last several months for these kids, many of whom do not have the resources to have things this special, at least not often. We’ve had small-producer handpainted yarns and Colinette and much Rowan, for example.

The dozen or more balls of Rowan Biggy Print went home with my most accomplished knitter. She first wanted to felt it into a rug, but once she made it up, she decided it was a superb lap blanket and will not be felting it after all. Yes, she really does know how special this rug/blanket really is. I keep requesting a photo or for her to bring it in. We’ll see if I can get that to happen.

I also had a swift and ball winder donated to the program! Of course it is a tool for using in only certain instances. I do not allow playing with tools other than using them for their proper use. It is no surprise, then, that all the yarn that came in twisted hanks (the kind which requires winding into a ball before knitting) is all gone. Not a hank left in the room!!!

One boy was so in love with the tools that he had a very hard time keeping his hands off them after all the yarn was wound. He learned how serious I am about boundaries, although I was sure to tell him how much I like *him* even when I don’t like his actions. Not to worry, I have yet a few more hanks that were donated which ended up in the trunk of my car for a little too long. He will be put to work winding that yarn when he returns next week.

Another of my boys was a late addition to the program. He is the brother of one of my regular knitters from last term. She showed him how to knit before he came, and also how to “finger knit” (which makes a knitted tube not unlike I-Cord but sloppier and much more loosely constructed).

The photo of the day is this youngster on the far side of my classroom, with me on the camera at the other side of the long room. I think his finger knit cord is at least 15 feet long, maybe 20 feet (5-7 meters). He joined us late, but he certainly fits right in!

Still Knitting: Pair 155

Monday, July 16th, 2007

pair155.jpgIt may seem that I have not been knitting. I have just not been taking photos of my knitting, is all. I have actually finished four pair of socks since the last week in June.

Luckily, when we were on the sand dune resting at the top, it occurred to me that the sand (which had withstood heavy rainfall the day before and even that morning) had a wonderful texture which would be a good background for a sock picture.

This pair is now complete (as of July 5) and was my 155th pair since I started knitting socks in April 2001. It was knit with two strands of my own Tiptoe Sockyarn (in Gentle Joy colorway) that I dyed myself, held together to make a dense and thick pair. I used my “First-Time Toe-Up Socks” pattern for the foot, and continued upward with a rib until I liked the height of the leg.

The leg is a Knit 2 Purl 2 rib. It’s not super tall but it is long enough to fold over once if I choose to wear then on a warmish day. I don’t like really tall socks, anyway… in the winter I wear legwarmers on top, and in the summer I do wear socks but prefer them short.

There is so much more depth to the color in real life than I can get out of the camera, unfortunately. The photo was taken on a bright midday but in the shade to avoid shadows. The yarn goes from turquoise, through several greens and ends up with a springy yellow-green.

I love this yarn and these socks. It is not often at all that I get to keep my own work. I have one pair of socks made from yarn I dyed, and they are footies. What a luxury it is to keep thses! It’s sort of that idea that the cobbler’s children don’t have shoes… in order to make my business thrive, I may knit for myself and then I realize a shop needs a sample ont heir floor… so the knitting I did for myself never really becomes mine. It could be worse, though… I do have a wonderful life.

The day at the dunes

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I’ve got so many wonderful photos of the dunes between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, that I can not resist showing a few more to you. The first one is our little crew of dune walkers that day, minus me… Jennifer, Jennifer’s beau, Brian, Pedro and Kathleen. Only Brian in this photo lives in the Midwest right now… Jennifer and beau are in Washington DC and Kath and Pedro are in northern Florida. It was wonderful to spend the day with them all.

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Next is a lighthouse on the shore of Lake Michigan. This photo was taken facing south. I took it only a few minutes before I took the photo of the sunset (posted in previous blog entry).
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Next is a view on the top of the dunes. I like how peaceful this one looks. If it looks like the sand goes on forever, it surely feels that way when you are up on the top.

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Last is some dunegrass that we found at the top of the dunes. This type of grass is very important to the dune, if I remember my science class right. The roots hold the sand in place and resist erosion. Once grasses take hold, other things are more likely to be able to grow. I believe there is a whole set of animal life (birds are the most obvious) that thrive on the edges of the dunes where this grass has taken hold.

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