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Archive for August, 2007

News Headlines

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

The Good News:

I taught a 9-yr-old girl to knit today. She finished a 5-stitch, garter-fabric wristband in just over an hour. Wild Purple (thanks to whoever donated that incredibly popular yarn). She was delighted. So was her mom. So was I.

The Bad News:

One of my bosses at Foster Center had a heart attack yesterday and died, just like that. He was 53 years old. Please, tell someone that you love them today. You never know what tomorrow may bring. If we learn from these things, at least something good can come of sadness.

Tomorrow’s News:

I plan to go to Allegan/Michigan Fiber Festival tomorrow/Friday, just to hang out and look at/touch fibery things. I hope I see some of you.

If you see me and I might not recognize you (I tend to get over-stimulated in big crowds and miss things I might not miss in a calmer environment) please say hello. I thought I’d have company and it turns out I’ll be traveling alone (though I’ll know a lot of folks once I get there). I’d love to chat a little, so do wave me down if you would.

Baby Picture: The Dutchicans

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

I met my friend Kristi/Red Dog Knits through the internet… even though she lives close by. When we both get a Friday off, we go for long walks with her two adorable boys (born in November). These days we’re all too busy for walks. What is up with that? “Summertime and the livin’ is easy?” Not these days, though I must admit I’ve been on the porch a bit more this year than I did last year.

But I digress. Kristi’s boys are much fun. They are starting to realize they know me when we chance upon one another at places other than our favorite walking spot. I saw them at Threadbear the day I went there to visit/chat with Annie Modesitt on her lunch hour, a few weekends ago. And then this weekend I saw them (and both their parents, too) at the Great Lakes Folk Festival.

Now, who needs words in a post when one has photos like this?


Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

momat72small.jpgMom made another trip around the sun! She was born prematurely on the Iron Range of Minnesota (about an hour north of Duluth) 73 years ago. (Yes, she tells her age, and anyone looking as good as she always has, really has a duty to the rest of us to demonstrate how good one can look at any age.)

Her mother took extra-special care of her while she was tiny and out of range of a large hospital. Grandma Illa had a degree in Public Health and that may have been the perfect thing to have studied, when keeping a tiny one healthy and thriving in those early years. I’m grateful.

Mom is the best reading teacher I know. I’ve heard more than one person say “Liz can teach a rock to read.” She really is dedicated to helping “her little guys” learn, even and especially when they struggle.

Even though she has been retired for more than a decade, she still volunteers at schools both in Michigan and Florida (depending on the time of year) to help kids get a solid start early in their reading journey. I know she has changed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives. (As a matter of fact, both Eric/brother and I were reading by the age of 4, thanks to Mom.)

She also is a very creative soul and loves color a lot. I know now that I got that color-love from my Mom. She favors similar colors to mine, though hers tend to be slightly lighter… aqua instead of turquoise if given a choice, perhaps, though we both adore hot pink. And she loves intense deep blues with a tinge of green in them, where I tend toward turquoise or purple. (I took this photo a year ago in her home, for her 72nd birthday. See what I mean about her color sense?)

Mom is a great dancer, always has loved ballroom dancing. My Dad was not a really good dancer, in fact he would try to trip her up on the dance floor just for fun, and she rarely stumbled.

Now that she and Fred have been partners for a long time (maybe two decades by now?) they have really been dancing up a storm. They sometimes square dance as well as ballroom styles. In Florida they often win big piles of dance medals in the Polk County Senior Games (it’s like a senior olympics, and is the largest one in the state of Florida).

I was raised by a strong woman, a tough cookie when needed. She did things alone without comment (she was widowed at age 38, when I was 14 and Eric was one week before his 13th birthday). She traveled alone frequently enough that I never thought that was unusual.

She was the first woman I remember on our block to have her own car (a Chevy Corvair, gold, which we called “The Putt Putt”) and the first mom I noticed who had a full-time job. She had been a teacher before she married my father, it was the one thing she always knew she wanted to do… so when we were in late elementary school she went back to her life’s calling. Go, Mom!

Mom taught me to embroider, and sew the 4-H way (which means very very well). My first sewing project was a culotte bodysuit, with zipper and patch pockets (she never told me this might seem hard to someone else). She taught me how to make a crochet chain, how to darn socks, and how to repair a run in a commercially-knit sweater, all before I reached middle school.

When I learned to knit in 5th grade from Mr. Johnson, she made sure I got yarn. She took me to the next town where there was a five and dime and I was allowed to choose two colors (only two… it was excruciatingly hard but I ended up with kelly green and turquoise). Mind you, this was in a life that generally did not travel out of our own village.

Mom always supported and encouraged creative pursuits and reading of any sort. I think that was a great way to grow up.

Happy, Happy, Birthday, Mom! I wouldn’t have learned to be this strong (or colorful) without you.

“I want to show women – and men – that if you’re over 35, or 40, or 45, whatever age, you can still be a pistol.

–Ann-Margret, Chicago Tribune 4/22/2001

Local Folks, Come on Out Tuesday Night!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

If you are in the Lansing, Michigan area and interested in fiber or wool or knitting or feltmaking, or just curious about what I do with my focus and my time… I’m presenting a program to the Haslett Public Library Needle Nuts on Tuesday August 14 at 7pm. You can get location information on the Capital Area District Library website.

I will be talking about felt, how wool can be made into a relatively solid, dense fabric/textile. This can be done in several ways. I’ll bring several examples and do a little demo. We’ll talk shrunken-knitting, loose-fiber wet felting, and needle felting. I think we will have a wonderful, marvelous time! We sure did last time I was there, in December, when I talked about combining yarns and colors.

I hope to see some of you there. Let me know if you read my blog, you will make my day!!!

Music Adventures and Folk Traditions

Monday, August 13th, 2007

fabheftonesaltusjuly07.jpgWe have had fun singing this summer. I have a few unrelated photos… well, they are related because of music. Friday we sang in Kalamazoo and it was wonderful fun. The crowd was right with us the whole way, the auditorium was beautiful and had great acoustics, the trip there and back was pleasant. Loved it. I would be in heaven if we could have days like that more often, but honestly it was heaven enough that one time.

We performed at my dear friend Altu’s restaurant a few weekends back, and that was great fun, also. My mom took time after the concert to take a few photos of us outside. I had lucked out and found a really cool set of authentic 1960s Hawaiian dresses and so when the weather was really warm Brian and I decided to forego our usual formalwear for the night and don Hawaiian clothing. Here’s a close up of us as the sun was fading. Thanks for taking a good number of good photos that night, Mom!

dagwoodsbanjo.jpgLast Tuesday we also had a wonderful time at Dagwoods’ open mic. A lot of good folks were there. Brian knew even more of the musicians than I did. Here’s a photo of just one group playing, Brian knows at least one of the guys from his work. They chatted with Brian a good while after their turn was up but I didn’t get over there to say hi much myself. Nice guys, really good musicians.

We also spent this last weekend at the Great Lakes Folk Festival and it was great fun. I spent a lot of time helping Altu in her food booth on Friday and Saturday, but we could hear the dance tent from where we were and that was good. Sunday I had the morning to be with Brian a bit, and then I went to work the Mid-Michigan Knitters’ Guild demo booth. Rae and I signed up for the same shift, and Jane was there a lot of the time with us, as were Cyndy and Nancy. It was good fun.

There were some booths where one could buy clothing and other items from different parts of the world. I found an embroidered white cotton gauzy top from Equador. I’ll have to take some photos for you, there were some things I had never seen before in any embroidered items I’d encountered.

I am really starting to get the itch to embroider again. I think that embroidery was my first handwork/textile art, I think I learned it in 2nd or 3rd grade, before I learned to sew, but it might have been actually earlier than that. Mom might remember, as she was the one who taught me. I just love the feeling of pulling a thread with a sewing needle. It resonates with me on a gut cellular level, it’s all the way embedded in my inner self. I’m getting ready to do something with that urge very soon.

Tracy Points to Her Flickr Photo

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I’ve mentioned Tracy here a few times. We met through this blog. She has tested patterns for me before, and she shared photos of mostly-yellow socks she knit (in my TipToe Sockyarn) here recently.

In response to my discussion of colorways in the recent post, and with the photo of one dyelot of that colorway as my photo/illustration of the concept, she wrote a comment to share. She knit a pair of socks from my Seaside yarn and the photo is up on her Flickr site.

I would bet that the socks came from the same dye lot I showed two days ago. They look lovely, Tracy! If anyone is interested, please go take a look at Tracy’s 6th Sense Sox at her Flickr page.

Dancing in the City

Sunday, August 12th, 2007


I’m still catching up… Two Wednesdays ago, I danced with Habibi Dancers at the Allen Street Farm Market. I love this market. It’s truly serving its city neighborhood which has many cultures, ages, incomes (mostly lower income). This neighborhood has a higher than average percent of immigrants, a good number of whom are refugees. Lots of folks do not have a car and there is no grocery store within almost 2 miles.

You can find fresh organic produce there at some booths. I found pure maple syrup at two vendors, and one had maple sugar which I really love and which I’d been mail-ordering at times. I’d much rather buy in my own city. I also found some fresh herbs which pleased me.

We had maybe a half dozen dancers that day. I danced in three numbers, but we all took turns. When it was not my turn to dance, I took a few photos. You can see that we were literally dancing in a parking lot which is transformed once a week into this market. Around the perimeter are booths for groceries, prepared foods, baked goods, and jewelry among other things.

After the show, a woman from Somalia came over to say hi. Her English was imperfect, but she kissed me on the cheeks three times as I was often greeted in Ethiopia. She hugged me and was clearly happy to have us dancing there. She tried to ask me a question about Egypt (most of our dances are in an Egyptian style). I found out that she spoke Arabic and one of our dancers speaks fluent Arabic so I called her over and they talked for a moment.


If that lone Somali woman had been the only person there, it would have made the whole performance worthwhile. She must feel so isolated, yet going “home” is likely not safe, so here she is. I’m glad we made her feel more comfortable and hopefully feel welcome in my city.

Sometimes I am proud to live in Lansing. These moments are what makes life here really special.

A Veritable Assortment of Colorways

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

seaside colorwayFor those who are not in my business… a colorway is a collection of colors used together in something. In my case, it’s placing several colors on one skein of yarn.

You could take that word to mean other things, like the variations a rug at the store might come in, or clothing, or any other number of consumer objects. The stoles pictured in my previous post can all be considered to display a colorway, as well.

You might even stretch it to say that this weblog has a colorway of white with purple, teal and a touch of hot magenta. My most popular yarn colorway is called Seaside, and it is a combination of blue, turquoise, purple, and highlights of creamy white (see photo).

I was talking about color combinations in my last post. I’m very excited to hear feedback from some of you. Lynne of Memphis had started choosing a group of yarns for a stole and was not sure why they just did not work out quite right. Now she writes that she thought she was looking for all yarns with a blue tint when what she wanted was clear (not muted/grayed) colors. Yippee! She got it.

Actually, the lack of awareness of Chroma/ Intensity/ Saturation is most often the reason a combination doesn’t work when we think it “should” work. Or so it seems to me, having worked with many people in this sort of project.

Remember that color choosing is a very personal business. Someone might love periwinkle blue with hot yellow-green, and the next person will not understand how that might work. That said, I think if we would let ourselves trust our gut more we would have fewer mis-steps in this area. How many times have you heard someone say that they need to break out of their color rut and try something new? And then they never wear the new colored item… because it’s not a great color on them.

I say if you love a color, often that is because it makes you look wonderful. And if a color makes you look wonderful, then why would you NOT stay stuck there, or at least repeat it often? Why would you not want to look great every day?

Why would you think wearing orange for a change of pace would be good, when you look great in clear turquoise but not so hot in orange… or in my case, great in turquoise and terrible in periwinkle. I love periwinkle on my Goddaughter, Sara (who has soft red hair) but trust me, if I wore it you would inquire as to whether my health was failing.

I don’t propose following anything to the extreme, but I propose surrounding yourself with things/clothing/colors that give you a boost. I don’t look great with hot green next to my face but I love the color… so I get skirts in that color, or towels, or dishes.

So… I found a fascinating group of photos on Flickr, photos of the Babette Blanket from the Interweave Crochet magazine. A whole lot of folks decided to crochet this design, and they all had very different ideas about which colors they might choose for it.

The Babette Blanket calls for a good large handful of colors in the pattern. One person chose to do it in all white, some limited themselves to just a few colors, and some added more colors than were originally specified. I found it very interesting to play the photo slideshow (there are over 100 slides, so I recommend choosing the fast speed in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen).

I just let the colorways glance past my eyes and I tried to notice if there might be one color in there which I might prefer to be changed. If I felt that way (knowing that my choices are different than anyone else’s) I asked myself what it was about that color I wanted to swap out, that I thought made me like it less in the grouping. Often it was a too-much-gray or not-enough-gray situation. Sometimes it was a very-dark or very-light, sometimes it was a not-enough-warm/yellow or not-enough cool/blue situation.

The flickr photo slideshow (Babette Blanket Pool) can be found here.

Catching Up: ColorJoy Stole Class

Friday, August 10th, 2007


A few weeks ago (wow, I’m more behind than I thought), I taught a class at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, on the ColorJoy Stole. Now, this class is really two short classes put together. The first part is how to combine yarn, texture, fiber and color, all not matching. It’s a class on how to make dissimilar items “go” together rather than trying to match (which as we all know is very hard to accomplish… never mind often not as visually interesting as unmatching elements if we choose them well).

The second part of the class is on how to knit this particular stole (a stole is a rectangular shawl). We learn how to use the yarns in an evenly random pattern (yes I mean that) so that the piece looks cohesive and intentional.

But it is the first part of the class which is really exciting. Somehow we are afraid (in my area’s culture) that not matching means not pleasing to the eye. Yet clearly when we look at certain woven items in particular, we notice how the artist/weaver has combined many dissimilar threads/yarns into an amazing and rich fabric. Knitters can do this, too, if we learn how.

There are color issues, yarn structure concerns, and a few other things we learn in class. We often start with one variegated/multicolored yarn, and then build the other choices around that first one. (Hi, Chelle!)

Yet we still need to know about color… at least to figure out why the one color we thought would work perfectly is not working. We don’t have to choose all of our colors by color theory, in fact I think that instinct can work well if we listen to ourselves. However, when one color just won’t play nice, it’s great to have some understanding of why.

In the schools/culture I came from, we talked about color in only two ways. Value (dark/light) and hue (color name). In other words, dark blue or light green. Maybe even light yellow-green if we were being specific.

There was no mention until I took an art class as an adult, at Lansing Community College, of something the art teacher called “chroma” but which is also sometimes called saturation or intensity. This is whether it has gray in it or not, whether it’s blindingly clear or muted. (Clear/pure is my style and muted is what I think of when I think “Martha Stewart.”)

In addition to that, if you talk to the “Color Me Beautiful” people they will talk about color saying whether it is cool or warm, which can help understand why some colors don’t fit. Think of a grouping of greens and see if you can picture what I mean about that.

And when I worked with Liquitex acrylic paints, they not only labeled each color with hue, value and chroma, but also transparency/opaqueness. Very cool. It’s not quite as much of an issue with yarn, but then again think of a non-mercerized cotton or hemp as totally opaque yarn and luminous brushed mohairs or even jelly yarns, as transparent.

And one other thing I noticed with paints, was that some colors were naturally matte and some were very shiny. That and the transparency issue had to do with the pigments used to color the acrylic base medium (although the medium itself can influence the texture). Neither texture or opacity are really labels for “color” but they do make up some of the attributes of individual yarns, and noticing this can help us choose combinations well.

OK, I’ve gone on enough. The people in my class, though, get to actually make big piles of yarn on the table. They work with all the information above plus they learn about different yarn structures and how to use those in making choices when mixing unmatching yarns on purpose.

They grab a pile of yarns they really like, and we pile them together and figure out why a few don’t work well with the others. And then they knit. And it’s magical.

I’m even starting to now offer a shorter class on just combining yarns. That is, the first part of the stole class: piling up yarns and getting great combinations going. Not for a particular pattern, but just as a way of understanding how to stand tall when you can’t get five yarns of the same brand to make that baby sweater you can’t live without, or when you want to make a cool couch pillow or funky hat for a favorite teen, out of leftover yarns in your stash.

So above we have the very beginnings of two ColorJoy Stoles. One is basically in earthtones for a knitter who glows in those shades, and one is in soft feminine colors for a woman who looks wonderful in pink. You won’t be surprised to know that mine is in greenish-turquoise with purple and hot green accents. And I’ve seen so many other combinations! It’s really personal and always a wonderful adventure.

Photos: Begun stoles from recent class; the sultry and beautiful Sharon P wearing her version; my mother, Liz, wearing her stole that Diana made her essentially from my stole pattern, at her birthday party in 2004; cherry red/rainbow stole I made as a pattern sample; me wearing my own stole, the one that lives in my closet (imagine that); Mom’s friend and my knitting student, Esther, wearing her perfectly-personal colorway that she also knit for herself.

“Grown on Our Own Farm”

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

gardenbeforepicking.jpgMom’s family had a farm when she was growing up. We had a garden a few years, and we always had fruit trees (apple, pear and cherry… most notably more pie cherries than we could pick). Sometimes we had strawberries. Most of the time we seemed far too busy doing other life tasks to garden, and honestly it was easy to buy it at the store rather than grow it.

But when we had food from our yard, dad would repeat the words of my Mom’s father, who would say “It was grown on our own farm!” And last week I said the same thing.

tomatoesinhand.jpgMy garden is teeny-tiny, and relatively wild as gardens go. Food shares space with myrtle and grass from the yard trying to take over, and a rosebush that is winning the battle for land, both at left in this photo and just above the top edge of the photo. You can see the myrtle at least at top right, and grass at bottom. The thin tiny bits in the dirt are mostly supposed to be there, my tiny and struggling herbs.

It is not all of a yard squared (which is smaller than a meter squared). I have one clump of Swiss Chard (very tasty greens, in this case with beautiful red stems), and herbs: parsley, dill, cilantro and chives. I tried to plant a little bit of spinach but I planted it too late (spinach likes cool weather).

I also have one large potted tomato bush, which is mostly for decoration. It lives in a beautiful blue-glazed pot on the top landing of our back steps, right where we pass it in and out of the house each day. This helps remind me to water it even when I get home after dark. Tomatoes really thrive on attention so this is a good strategy.

greensongrass.jpgLast week I decided to dive in and make some food from the tiny bit of produce growing in my yard. There were two small tomatoes ready to pluck, and I had to do something with them. I don’t really like fresh tomatoes much (though I remember how much I liked them on a whole-grain cheddar grilled cheese with some vidalia onion back in the day when I could eat such things). So cooking the greens with the tomatoes was a perfect solution.

I cut up both the greens and the tomatoes in half-inch bits (just smaller than a centimeter). I had a leek (related to onion but milder) so I sliced some of that really tiny. I sauteed the leek in olive oil, and when it started to soften I added the greens until they wilted. Then I added the tomato. No, I didn’t measure. I used the amount of greens and tomatoes that I had been able to harvest. The tomatoes looked smaller before cutting but bigger after cooking, given the tendency of greens to wilt and compress in the heat.

greens.jpgI let that mixture cook on low until the tomato smelled sweet rather than acid. Tomatoes will actually caramelize a bit if you give them the chance, and at that point I like them much better. I did not add any salt or pepper or other seasoning during cooking, though sometimes I enjoy some black pepper in the mix. After it was all cooked, I chopped up some of our cilantro from the garden into tiny bits, and garnished the serving plate full of greens with that.

I am starting to “get it,” I think. These were positively the best greens I’ve had in a very long time. I’ll need to do this at least one more time before growing season ends.

Oh, and the bowl the cooked greens are in? It was made by my friend Maureen O. Ryan, of Working Women Artists and the Potters Guild of Lansing.

“My Kids”

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

citykidzpileofyarn080707.jpgI realized today that I’ve perhaps always had a group of kids in my life, other people’s children, who I called “My Kids.” This started when I became a babysitter, maybe I was as young as 11 but more likely I was 13-14.

I babysat a lot in high school, I always had more spending money than my friends because of it. Then in college I came home for two summers and babysat two neighbor kids (ages 4 and 10 the first year). That was hard work, including making them lunch every day (I’m not so fond of cooking, and it’s pretty hard to make a pair with that age gap be happy with the same meal).

These days, of course, “My Kids” are the participants in my CityKidz Knit! program at Foster Community Center. I can not help it, I learn to love these kids. It is SO gratifying to see them shine in the program and begin to think of themselves as knitters even when I am not with them.

In the last week I had several donations of yarn from local knitters and the bags were in my trunk Tuesday when I arrived for the last summer session of the year. I brought in the bags and the kids’ eyes got big. It is clear in my room that the yarn is for them, it’s their yarn and there is total abundance for them at least in this one area of their lives. I love it that they can just dream and take home yarn to match their dreams.

(For the record, I always need donations of knitting needles, especially straight needles in sizes 5-13 or so. I also can use lighter weight double-pointed needles… plastic, wood or bamboo are almost unheard of in my program but their lighter weight does help the kids when learning to knit in the round. DPNs are needed in sizes 2-11 or so. Yes, you read that right. Elementary-aged kids on double-pointed needles. Relatively frequently, too! I told you these kids are worthy of my fond pride!!!)

citykidzrowanwrap080707web12.jpgSo the kids’ eyes lit up when I came in with those bags. One bag was a clear garbage bag and i could not open it by hand. I went off to find scissors but they handled the issue swiftly. One kid sat on one side pulling on the top edge of the bag, another on the other, and they leaned away from one another until the bag burst open. The yarn burst out something like an explosion of sorts. They really loved that!

One of the younger girls dove right in to the pile, with her little tush up in the air, and it was such an amusing sight that I got out my camera. First photo here is the kids after things calmed down a little bit.

One of the kids in this first picture, I had not seen in 2 years. She moved away but came back for a visit, and happened to be in the building when I was there. I was delighted to see her! She has been knitting without me, which makes me happy. I had her fill up a few tote bags ful of yarn (I call this “Trick or Treat” and it always delights). I’m hoping I will see her again… she now lives maybe 20 minutes north of Lansing. She says she enjoys her new town. Wonderful news.

The other two photos here are finished items by “my kids.” These kids actually do a good deal of knitting when I am not with them, and they crank out works quickly. First is a shawl/wrap by a young lady who I believe will be in 6th grade next year. Last March she made up a mitten, in one day, on double-pointed-needles in the round. She needed almost no help from me, just how to close the top and a little assistance in starting her thumb. Wowie.

The yarn in her pictured project is Rowan Biggy Print, a thick/thin two-ply, donated by a blog reader in the DC area, who has sent many boxes of incredibly high-quality yarns for them t o knit and learn from/about. (Thank you, thank you, thank you… they really are learning about quality and really enjoying the yarns.)

The wrap contains 12 balls of super-chunky yarn. I am here to tell you that this is a LOT of stitches for a child this age. However, she is very good at picturing final products and sticks with things more than other kids her age. In this case, she envisioned a rug which she planned to felt/shrink after knitting. Well, then she liked it as a lap blanket better. Then she liked it as a wrap/shawl even more. Warmth!

citykidzdoll080707.jpgI do encourage kids to change their minds if it makes sense, partway through projects. If they do not enjoy the yarn or the project, I give them permission to either stop or make it into something else they enjoy making more. In this case, she was just done sooner than initially planned, she did not have to take time to felt it (and take the risk she would not like the result.

She still knit all 12 balls that she had (I think there were a few other balls that made it to other kids). She changed yarn balls by tying knots, knowing she was planning to felt. Now she has ends that will be hard to hide. First is my challenge to get her a “darning” needle with a huuuuge eye so we have the right tool (I am pretty sure I have that handled). Then I’ll show her better ways to work them in.

The last photo is a young lady who received the “knitting pattern a day” calendar from someone well over a year ago. She follows patterns because of her interest in the projects in that calendar. Last year she knit a lace bookmark for someone for a Christmas gift. This year she came across this doll which she knew would really please a certain friend. All she has left is to embroider the face. Cool, huh??? Grownup knitters, please take these kids as inspiration!

“My Kids.” They are really super people… normal kids but also extra-ordinary in many ways. I’m just delighted to know them.

Oh, for those who have needles they might like to donate, the address is: CityKidz Knit!, c/o Foster Center, 200 N. Foster Ave., Lansing, MI 48912 USA.

Right now I have enough canvas bags and acrylic yarn for the most part. I always take donations of dyeable wool yarn and/or feltable yarn, and right now we’re out of Kool Aid with which to dye those yarns (bright colors are what kids love, so red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise are good but not black cherry). Thanks for your consideration.

Magknits Online Knitting Magazine

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

I enjoy the online magazine called MagKnits. Diana sent me a link to their current issue (she sent a sock pattern link) and I went looking at the rest of the patterns. I always look at the photos first, then go back and read other things that take more time.

They have a pattern this time called Summer Sky. It’s a very short extra-cropped sweater that is almost a capelet except it has sleeves. It is knit in summer-weight/fiber yarn (linen/acrylic fingering-weight yarn, really pretty and drapey) which is sort of out of my realm, but the overall shape is very nice and they do suggest that it might be nice in wool (with longer sleeves) for cooler weather.

What delights me most, though, is that it has a really similar collar shape and front opening to my Perfect Hug capelet (photo posted yesterday). I’m not the only one liking the idea of an inverted-V shaped front opening for a little cover-up. It’s nice to know I’m not working totally in a vacuum.

Finished Objects! (One-Skein Wonder)

Monday, August 6th, 2007

kochorancapelet.jpgI made a Perfect Hug mini-capelet with one skein of Noro Kochoran yarn, and it turned out really well. You can not tell it is much shorter than the pattern originally intended. Since it is knit top-down (in a semicircle) you can sort of just watch to see when you start running out of yarn and adjust at the end depending on how much yarn you have.

For those who have the pattern, I did 5 repeats of the dropped-stitch sequence, then I just went to garter stitch (rows 1 & 2 of the six-row repeat) and kept going without any increases or drops. I ended up with five garter ridges before my bind-off row. It made a very nice “hem” at the bottom that drapes well and looks quite nice. It’s hard to see here but the very bottom edge of the photo is the very bottom edge of the capelet. The bottom gray “stripe” is all in garter fabric.

I bet if you wanted it to meet in the front (the capelet version does not meet and that is a design feature… the other two versions in the pattern go around the body further), you could cast on for the “Bear Hug” version (the middle “size” in the pattern) and it would go around further in front but just be a little shorter in length. Since there are so many really short shoulder-warmer capelets going around these days (mostly aimed at the younger crowd) this seems a reasonable possibility.

I liked working with this yarn. It’s soft but spun a bit thick, with tons of bunny fur (angora fiber) fluffing out everywhere. I know that not everyone can tolerate angora but if you can it’s such a fuzzy luxury! It’s also very warm.

Probably this one will live in a yarn shop for a while as a sample garment, but come winter I’m sure I’ll wear it on stage when we sing. Lucky me!

OK, the title says “objects.” I finished another pair of socks, too, but the ends aren’t worked in yet and no photo has been taken. I’m really happy to have finished a few things in any case. I have been feeling really un-grounded with all the travel, and I’m doing my best to catch up and finish some things now that I’m back home for a while.
(Photo could be better but it’s what I could do with a camera balanced on a dresser, using the built-in 10-second timer…)

A Lovely Distraction

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Saturday I taught my Perfect Hug Shawl design at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, MI. I had three students and two I had taught before in other classes. We had a lovely time knitting and learning and catching up.

Although I have never knit a Perfect Hug in any Noro (handspun Japanese, slowly-color-changing) yarn before, all four of us ended up choosing either Iro or Kochoran for our shawls. I have multiple Perfect Hug Shawls of my own and swore I would not knit along with the class. For one thing, my rule is always “do not spend more than you make” on a work day. With three students I was not going to be literally in trouble with that rule, but I *am* in the business to pay my bills so I need to be smart about what yarns/samples I buy/knit.

However, it seems to me that at least a few yarn shops have these lovely yarns and sometimes folks have a hard time deciding what to knit out of them. After all, it’s relatively thick yarn at about $20 a skein… my Kochoran is 50* wool, 30% angora and 20% silk, 160m which equals about 175yd. The original price on the label was $19.95 but Lindsay had it on sale for 50% off so it turned out to be a regular “steal” for this incredibly luxurious yarn.

The smallest version of the shawl (in the printed pattern anyway… shown here on mannequin) is called the capelet and it is designed to cover the shoulders and upper arms but to show off your lovely gown underneath in front. It reaches down to about my elbows. That version requires 210 yards according to my pattern.

I made an executive decision today to see how far I could get with one skein of the Kochoran yarn. The Noro Iro has even more yardage than the Kochoran if I remember right (I seem to remember 180m/198yd) but I think it would be really really cool to have a one-skein project out of this absolutely luxurious stuff! I figure that some capelets out there these days barely cover the shoulders, and are more of an accessory (almost a scarf) rather than a shawl. My curiosity won’t rest now until I take this idea to the limit.

My yarn is cobalt, turquoise, light charcoal and a hint of pink in one place. It is VERY fuzzy from the angora (bunny fur) which gives it real luxury. The standard capelet size in the pattern suggests that most folks will execute the six-row repeat seven times to finish. I’m already into my fourth repeat (though each repeat is on a larger number of stitches). It sure looks like I’m halfway in the ball of yarn. I am thinking this may really work out just fine.

I had other things to do this afternoon but I chose to knit. What a wonderful distraction it is. I’m very ready to be able to do something and FINISH it, in short order. It seems that everything else (including this “new” six-week old computer system) is taking forever to get settled properly. I have patterns I started weeks/months ago still waiting to be written out and sized properly. I have yarn undyed in my studio waiting for me to have a full day to devote to coloring it (and another day or two to rewind, label, photograph and post it).

A shawl that can be knit in a day or two? Yeah. My kind of project!