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Archive for July 7th, 2007

It is 7-7-7 and Eric is 47

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Today is my beloved brother, Eric’s, birthday. On 7-7-77 he turned 17. On 7-7-7 he turns 47. He’s wonderful at any age, on any day.

In my family, we always call each other and sing happy birthday on each other’s birthdays. I called Eric today and sang as per our standard procedure. Then we talked what seemed like just about forever. I could have come down to see him for dinner (one hour and 15 minutes, one way) but we already have plans for a whole-family gathering on July 16 (I thought I might be gone this weekend and Eric thought he might be working today). So I sat in the hammock and chatted, and he lounged around at his house, and it was delightful.

I don’t know how to live my life without my brother. He knows me so fully, in every way! I often get worked up about this or that, and I can call him, blurt out all my assorted and random thoughts, and he listens. Then when I stop, he asks me a question or two. And I then miraculously can make sense of it all, can move forward with more certainty. He never tells me what to do, he helps me figure out where I need to go.

Once when I was a divorcee and Eric was a widower, my employer offered all employees a free five-day cruise to reward us for good performance. I could take a guest for half price. I took Eric. It was incredible to have all that time together. What a gift that was!

I just wrote 2 paragraphs about ways he loves me unconditionally. I realized that perhaps visitors to my site wouldn’t love me that much, to them I might just look like a wimp or something… but trust me, whatever choices I make, my brother is behind me even if those choices are not longterm in my own best interests. And when I realize I’ve messed up, he’s just there telling me he is there to help me get through the mess I made.

Eric is creative… he is a really good embroiderer (I have pillowcases to prove it) and he once sewed a pair of blue jeans with those amazing seams you find only in storebought jeans. You never would have known someone could make them, but he did. For my first wedding, he sewed a frilly dress with lace for his then-fiancee (his late first wife, Kelly).

He is also very fond of gizmos. He likes things you can take apart and put together. As a kid, he tried rockets, those fuel-propelled balsa-wood airplanes you control by wires and fly in circles, cameras (complete with small darkroom thanks to Dad), and many other things. Before Dad died (Eric was almost 12) he showed Eric how to run wires in the attic to put in new light fixtures (I was a girl and was not allowed to do such things). One year Eric’s handcarved wood car won the first prize in the boy scout “derby.” It was ugly, but he was supposed to make it all himself and he did, probably with verbal advice from dad but no hands-on help. Dad would not have condoned cheating, and in the end Eric didn’t need any more help than he got, anyway.

I got my first computer from my brother. He took a bunch of parts he had and made a computer that worked. I was teaching computer classes at that time as my day job, but had to go to work to learn new programs. It was a godsend to get that computer which ran on DOS at first. When I upgraded to Windows 3.1 (it barely fit, somewhere in there I upgraded from a 10MB to a 50MB hard drive) I had to upgrade to 4MB RAM and purchase my first mouse. He also helped me navigate the internet when I first got on (2400 modem, before I got Windows). I didn’t know any women in Lansing, and only two male associates, who were online at that point. Eric is very good at explaining computers in English (in great part because Kelly insisted that he make sense when talking with her about his computer interests), so he became my tutor from afar.

Eric taught me how to fix computers. I’m more comfortable with software than hardware, but at the time I worked for a nonprofit and we had no budget for computer repair. Either I fixed it, or it didn’t get fixed. I called Eric with a problem and he told me to get a screwdriver and call him back. He said “now look on the back of the box, there is a screw located…” and the next thing you know, I had the box apart and the computer fixed. About five years later I made my primary living fixing computers… still more software than hardware but all because Eric shared what he knew with me.

Eric: happy, happy, very happy, perfect birthday to you!!!

Student Works

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

While I’ve been mostly occupied at home with my computer transition, I’ve taught a handful of classes at local shops as well. I try to take photos of student works, sometimes I don’t remember.

I taught a basic baby hat class at Rae’s in Lansing. Two women were trying their first non-scarf projects, so they chose my button hat pattern (roll brim, simple decreases, button on the top rather than a pom pom or other detail) and the third student chose the very appealing Ann Norling Fruit Cap. That one calls for two yarns and something like four or five rows of knitting which alternates between those yarns. It’s a great first-time stranded knitting (sometimes called fairisle) project.

frankensock.jpgSince the baby hat class was only one evening, there was not much to photograph by the time they left. They knew what to do next, they practiced everything they would need to do later (on my knitting sample, so they would not mess up their own projects) but I did not take photos.

I also taught a one-day First-Time Toe-Up Sock class at Yarn Garden in Charlotte. We had such fun! They chose DK-weight washable wool (Zara, a wonderful yarn) and knit their toe, increasing until it would fit their own foot. At that point we put in a lifeline (waste yarn through each stitch so that they could rip back to that point later and put the same stitches back on needles). We saved time by not knitting much on the tube for the foot. We dove directly into knitting a shorter-than-usual heel flap (under the heel) and turned the heel, decreased for gussets, and then discussed several methods for binding off so that the top of the sock is stretchy enough to pull on over the heel.

It was a fun day. They ended up with what I call a “frankensock,” (I may have learned that from Lucy Neatby) which is all parts but out of proportion. No foot and no cuff to speak of, just the parts they needed to learn with the teacher nearby.

needlefeltlindashirt12.jpgThen last Friday I taught Needlefelted Embellishments at Threadbear in Lansing. We first experimented with both yarn and fluffy wool roving, on an old felted/shrunken sweater I bought at Goodwill (it was donated to the charity after someone had accidentally shrunk it). Then Linda got out a cotton knit shell she had bought for the occasion. She originally had thought she would make flowers on it but ended up opting for paisley shapes. I know that folks needlefelt wool onto blue jeans jackets fairly frequently but had never tried needlefelting on cotton myself. She chose the finest needle she had so that she would not damage the cotton (cotton breaks more easily than wool) and she had quite a success. Won’t this be fun to wear with jeans???