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Archive for November, 2007

Business and Pleasure

Friday, November 30th, 2007

feltysquares.jpgBusiness: Yarns for Sale

Finally, some business to post. I have added a small handful of yarns to my shopping cart tonight.

I am trying a new yarn which holds much promise. It is a worsted-weight, soft 100% wool which felts well. I am excited about this yarn which I am currently calling Funky Felty Worsted.

I knit a 4×4 (10cmx10cm) square swatch, and I felted it until it was quite dense (I did this by hand because of time restrictions). I ended up with a soft, mildly fuzzy but not hairy, dense fabric which then measured 3×3 inches. That comes out to 75% of the original size, or a 25% reduction if you measure it that way. I could have stopped earlier if I chose, it would still have been felted but not as dense. Photo top right.

seasidewhateversize1.jpgI would like to create patterns for this feltable yarn at some point, probably bags. However, we all know that I’m behind on the patterns I have already started writing so that needs to go on the “B” list for now.

Meanwhile, I can at least say that I have also felted this as a two-color stranded knitting piece (with Nashua Creative Focus Worsted alpaca/wool) and it worked out very well. It was quite nice as a multicolored yarn with a darker solid. Very nice. For some reason, that sample is hiding somewhere in my studio and I can’t photograph it for you today.

springpond200x400.jpgI also have two colors of Tip-Toe Sockyarn in my “Pond” series. I have Cool Pond and Spring Pond available right now (Dark Pond already sold out, quietly, before I announced it).

They were dyed in the same session so they would be lovely together in one project. In this case, each has three colors applied to it and two of the dye colors are shared between the skeins. (I am dreaming of shawls, also for spare time.) Spring Pond is at lower right.

And there are finally a few new half-pound skeins of Cushy Colorsport (washable merino DK, fabulous for baby things), in Seaside colorway. This is my most popular colorway, in my signature yarn. Rae is making a Baby Surprise Jacket in this very yarn, right now. Photo is at left.

Pleasure: Comment Contest/Inspiration?

OK, and so that there is something to say while the comment contest continues… please consider telling us where you go when you desire inspiration or an artful day. For example, I might walk alone to a restaurant and watch/listen to those around me, perhaps observing colors, clothing, or how folks interact. I may write a poem or knit swatches.

I might go to the farmer’s market and see what vegetables are currently in season, and dream of good home-cooked food. I might go to another city and spend time at an art museum. I might listen to a CD by a friend, or a radio station I do not know well.

So what do you do… or what do you wish to do for inspiration when you need a boost?

ColorJoy Dreaming

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

ruthieandtwofriends50.jpgYou guys are the best. Dozens of comments made my birthday wonderful. I was gone most of the day and I’ll be gone most of Thursday. I have tons of photos but no time to process them for web, will do that when I finally sit at my desk again.

Meanwhile, I want to do a freeform brainstorm (woohoo, that rhymes, it’s a good sign). Since I’m asking for comments, I want to make it easy for you to write a few words in a comment box and send it my way.

OK: Think of the concept of ColorJoy… not only the word, but the motto “Art as an everyday attitude.” Now, tell me what word, song, poem, quotation comes to mind most strongly as you think ColorJoy? You might, for example, respond with a song title such as “Born to be Wild” or “Born Free” or “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.” You might say “Freedom” or “belly laugh” or “serenity.” You might make up your own sentence, to be quoted by others. Or you might quote Carrie Fisher:

I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.

Ready, set, go! Remember, you can comment once a day for a week, and it’s not cheating to do just that. Actually, just saying hello is all it takes, you can ignore the subject of the day if it does nothing for you.

Photo? At right is my Grandma Ruthie, the one who wrote the local newspaper every week, pretty much alone. She was still single in this photo, I believe, but her kids were in High School at the time they bought the newspaper. (The photo was taken in the same era as the music Brian and I sing, the 1920’s.)

Can you see how even though she’s the shortest one, the other girls are focused in on Ruthie? You can not see that there are other women in the photo at the left (this has been cropped) and they are also focused on Ruth. She was quite a presence. I miss her. She loved to laugh!

I think these girls took costuming seriously as an artform. They were a bit wild, bobbed hair was a new thing then.

Blogiversary/Birthday Comment Contest

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

lynnbirthday48small1.jpgSome of you have asked… Today (Wednesday, November 28) is my birthday. I’m 49 today… I’m not quite sure how I got here but I’m delighted to be.

For the record, I do have a nice healthy stripe of gray/silver hair. And I love every strand… I earned them the hard way and am glad to have learned those lessons, glad to be where I am today.

Today is also the 5th anniversary of this ColorJoy blog. On my birthday in 2002 (it was Thanksgiving Day)yarns.jpg, I gave myself the gift of a blog. I was committed to posting often. Later I got specific (my goal is 28 posts a month, most months I do better than that). I know that I am grateful for the blogs that are reliably ready with a new post every time I visit. I wanted to be reliable myself.

My Grandma Ruthie wrote every word of the tiny local paper every week, Grandpa Oscar printed it. Also my Grandma Illa wrote a column for a four-state magazine aimed at farmers and their families, and became quite popular from that. My uncle OT owned a newspaper, and my father had a PhD in Journalism and was a professor of Communications.

Therefore, It is in my blood to be interested in this sort of thing. I do consider my blog to be “my column” and I write with that as a guiding principle. I try to write in at least some way like a journalist, though I have little training in that field (middle school newspaper was a long time ago). I have always wanted a column, and now I have one.

OK… so here’s the plan. I am celebrating my blogiversary with a contest. I will have prizes. The prizes will be yarn, for the most part, but you can choose a Fabulous Heftones “In the Garden” music CD instead. I know I have a few readers from my music/dance worlds, and a few family members pop by who do not knit. I will not leave you out!

In the next week, until 1:00 am Eastern Time (like New York City) next Wednesday, December 5, I will count comments. Each person can comment once per post. This means if I post twice in a day you can comment twice in a day, though I don’t know that I’ll do that.

At that point I will randomly choose winners from a hat, one piece of paper per comment you left. I’m not looking for cleverness… just a hello. If you have never posted before, this is your chance to break the ice.

seasidewhateversize.jpgI will give away at least three prizes. They may be yarn I dyed, or yarn I purchased (it will be nice in either case), probably with a pattern that will work with the yarn. Perhaps I will choose some other fibery gift I have not thought of yet.

I honestly do not know what it will be as I type this, though I am thinking about it carefully. The goal is to have you love it.

Do please say hello. There is no need to leave a long, carefully-written response, a short hello will do. Do not feel you need to apologize for not leaving one sooner if you have not. If you have any trouble leaving a comment, write to me in an email… to Lynn AT colorjoy DOT com (replacing AT and DOT with the proper symbols, and removing spaces). Tell me what the problems were like, I want to know.

Ready, set… go!

(Photos? My birthday last year, complete with Birthday Pie and interesting clown candle, thanks to creative Mom Liz. And photos of possible prizes or something on the order of the prizes.)

Food as Art

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

These photos are late chronologically. However, they fit in this blog based on my assertion that food can be art, either to look at or to the taste buds, even both on the right day.


On Thanksgiving morning, I had plans. I made my semi-famous “brown pancakes” which are wonderful (and gluten/wheat/corn/egg free, etc… recipe here).

I even had a very special treat lined up. I found frozen organic strawberries and organic egg-free, corn-syrup-free vanilla ice cream, the day before, at Foods for Living. I thawed the berries and added some brown sugar. I put strawberries and a small amount of ice cream on the pancakes, and we enjoyed them thoroughly.

I had not eaten any strawberries since spring, after an allergic reaction to peaches and advice to consider giving up fruit if I was experiencing hives. Well, I probably will not be eating peaches again but after some tests at a new allergist a few weeks back I was given permission for cherries and strawberries. Woohoo! My favorites are peaches and raspberries, but any fruit is a real gift at this point…

Also, I had not had even soy/artificial ice cream in months. To discover that milk/cream are OK for me (when yogurt and cheese are not) was another gift. I was truly Thankful. Yum!

But that was only one brunch meal, and we would need more food sometime. We had eaten our takeout on Wednesday Night… I’d planned it for Thursday but we changed our plans. So I looked in the freezer.

thanksgivingsalad.jpgThe week previous, Brian had cooked Cornish game hens in the crockpot as a gift to me (any time he cooks instead of me, I really appreciate fully). We had eaten one but frozen the other.

So I thawed that tiny bird and we made spinach salads. I found a beautiful red bell pepper and some very nice olive oil as salad dressing, and some coarsely-ground black pepper. It made a refreshing Thanksgiving dinner.

Brian likes pie and I did not feel like making any… but I had purchased all the ingredients to make them. I showed him where I put my own personal no-egg, no-milk pumpkin pie recipe. I dug out the few odd ingredients he would have had trouble finding, and he made pumpkin pie. What a partner he is to me!

Then when I pulled the pies out after the buzzer sounded, I got a surprise. He put faces on the pies before baking them. I think they look a lot like “Tubby Toast” in the TV show Teletubbies. I may be the only person over 2 years old who loves this show, but Brian gets it that I do, so he gave me a smiley face. Also I always can use a reminder to smile, I can get SO intense sometimes.

tubbytoastpumpkinpie.jpgI have so many things to be thankful for every day. Brian is at the top of the list, by far. I have not always been this happy and he is like the whipped cream on top of my otherwise good life, making it even better.

And the internet? I love all of you reading this, and the relationships we can build here even without meeting physically in the same building. How cool is that? My relationships, with Brian and my family, my loved ones not in my family… well, that is the best wealth of all. Thank you for being part of my life.

Thanksgiving Photos

Monday, November 26th, 2007

thanksgivingtree12.jpgI will be quite occupied Monday so I am blogging photos today. Brian and I took a walk on Thanksgiving day, last Thursday. It snowed the night before, for the first time (at least the first where it stuck).

The neighborhood was almost like a ghost town, no cars driving around at all. With the snow on the ground, sounds were muffled. We could hear the swishing of cars on the main roads on the west and east of our neighborhood, but things were very silent in our corner of the world.

This tree is in our side yard. I think it is interesting how we can see the actual colors of a tree trunk when the snow makes the green grass unimportant, and the wet bark intensifies what colors are there. Lichen and moss are really beautiful colors of green.

The larger-view neighborhood photo is one block from our house. When all the maple trees turn color, they are blazing orange and the yellow trees seem less than interesting. However, at this time of year, the few remaining red and yellow leaves (and those on the ground, which finally fell when it finally froze hard overnight) become very interesting on their own merits. They are particularly nice if both in the same view.

Thanksgiving need not be a single day. Tell someone you love them today, OK?


For the Knitters: Legwarmers (in Process)

Sunday, November 25th, 2007


I’m still knitting legwarmers. I knit on this one all day at Altu’s on Saturday, and folks were guessing what it was. Usually they guessed right, but since the ribbed design is so springy, they look more like a sleeve than something that would fit on a leg.

Here is one sad photo for you, but at least on my monitor the color looks right on. It’s a subtle (grayed/low-chroma) combination of darker colors with blue undertones. There are two purples, one more blue (grape) and one more red (plum) and then a tiny bit of blue between colors, and a nice scattering of a teal which really gives it some depth. (This might be the “pop” color, for those who heard my talk on color last Tuesday at the knitting guild.)

This yarn was a gift. Huge gift. I am showing the one legwarmer, as it was on Saturday morning before I went to Altu’s. On the left is another skein (half pound) waiting to become the second legwarmer. AND I own yet another skein of the same stuff, which will become something but I don’t know what yet. There will no doubt be a little leftover from each legwarmer, too.

They are really long enough, right now. If I measure them flat, they are 34 inches. I want them to be 24 inches high on my leg, but I want that to include a 3 inch folded-over cuff at the top and a bunch of scrunchy/slouchy extra fabric around my ankles. If I wear them right now, they are tall enough with the cuff but no scrunch. I am *very* close. Then I need to knit the second one. Sigh…

What I like about this colorway for these huge/warm legwarmers, is that they are subtle enough and not solid-colored (solid is so hard to wear with other colors), that I will probably be able to wear them with a lot of things. In the garment world, they get a lot of use out of “this will go with everything” but they say it about black and beige for the most part. Yawn, not my thing. But a grayed-out, mostly-purple with lots of bits of other related colors? Oh, yeah! Goes with everything in *my* closet.

Brian told a friend of ours that purple is “Lynn’s beige.” He’s right.

Last-Minute Change

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

drewwithjen.jpgSometimes at the ballet, at the beginning of the show they will announce that a different dancer will be playing this or that role instead of the one listed in the program. This is my version of that announcement.

Mike Ross regrets that he will not be able to join the Altu’s 10+1 Year Anniversary festivities today. We will miss him, he has been such an enthusiastic part of our musical family. In fact, usually when I need a last-minute sub, Mike is the first one to say yes.

However, we have exciting news… Drew Howard (AKA Captain Midnite) will fill in, from 1pm to 1:35. We are more than delighted that Drew is able to be with us. This will be his first show at Altu’s (unless he sat in with someone), though he’s been in the music biz for a really long time.

Drew & I are about the same age but I’m a definite newbie next to this veteran. He was probably born with an instrument in his hands. This substitute is no slouch. And let me tell you, he wasted no time getting back to me to say that yes, he could help out.

I love being in Lansing. This town is full of artful friends, and I am really feeling the love right now. I had a few other possible replacements in the wings, but Drew called me back first… We would not have been left stranded under any circumstances.

Get well, Mike. We’ll sing a few for you. (Mike is now scheduled for a 6:30-8:30 slot on Sat., December 29, don’t miss it.)

Photo: Drew at right, backing up none other than our evening performer, Jen Sygit. Photo was taken at the RicStar Music Camp Benefit in late September of this year.

Tomorrow/Saturday: Altu’s 11th Anniversary

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

My friend Altu’s restaurant is celebrating the 10+1 year Anniversary of the restaurant Saturday Nov. 24. I am very excited because we have a full day of events, including music from seven acts including The Fabulous Heftones (me and hubby Brian).

She also will be repeating an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony from 11:30-4pmcoffeeceremonyforweb50.jpg. In addition, there will be special snack foods available at no cost. If you are more hungry than that, the regular menu will be available all day long.

There will be a short lull from 4pm to dinnertime. Then at 6:30-8:30 we will have none other but the incredible Jen Sygit as our musical headliner.

Jen just got back from a tour out to Boston, she’s a big name even though she’s a Lansing resident. Do not take this talent for granted!

I am very excited to have Jen at Altu’s this weekend!

Here is the musical lineup:

And from 6:30-8:30,

Jen Sygit!


If you are out and about at all in the Lansing, Michigan area on Saturday, November 24, please take the time to stop by and say hello. I will be there the entire time we have musicians in the house.

If you have not been to Altu’s before, it is on Michigan Avenue (click for map), the last building in East Lansing. Facing it from the street, it is on the right side of The Dollar, tucked back behind a small parking lot.

At Altu’s, the food is great, the welcome warm, the music lively. Please join us in this celebration.

Disclaimer: Altu is my dear, dear friend. She took me to Africa three years ago this week. I took the photo of the coffee ceremony in December of 2004, in Gondar, northern Ethiopia. It’s the real thing, folks.

I line up the music at Altu’s restaurant and I do her website/publicity and her menus. Not on payroll, for hugs and food and occasional chances to perform there myself. The only real economic gain I might have from this announcement is possible tips if you came while I was singing.

So do humor me, come on by, and have a great time while I know I spent my time well… see you then!

An Artful Chuckle from NYC

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Thanks to Howlin’ Hobbit of Ukulele and All That Jazz, I laughed a bit as I was trying to get my day started. Quite a bit, actually.

There is a website called Improv Everywhere which I’d never heard of before. I can’t speak about Improv Everywhere other than this one project I just checked out. I’m guessing I would not be all wrong to say they create performance art events. This is what their website says:

Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 70 missions involving thousands of undercover agents. The group is based in New York City.

Apparently in NYC, the Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store has a shirtless store greeter, a model at the front door. They also use “well-sculpted” shirtless men in their promo images (I don’t watch TV or shop at malls, and mostly stay out of the “cool” media stuff so I did not know their shirtless image until I came across this event).

Well, Improv Everywhere assembled 111 guys in NYC (mid-October 2007) who were willing to take their shirts off in public. They went to the Abercrombie and Fitch store and at a particular time they all took their shirts off, and went around the store shopping for shirts.

In the end they were told they had to leave. Two shirtless guys attempting to buy $45 shirts were forced to leave before their purchases were completed.

Of course, management and security didn’t enjoy the event, but apparently at least a few of the employees enjoyed it quite a bit. The shirtless guys had quite an experience as well. This could perhaps have been predicted.

On this blog I talk about art being a much broader thing than paintings in frames on the wall at a museum. In this case, it was performance art/improv. I found it very funny.

If it sounds amusing or interesting to you, check out the link to No Shirts at Improv Everywhere and check it out yourself. There are several videos which make the concept more real (I do not enjoy videos as a rule, yet I am very happy I watched them all)… and there are a few flickr photo sets you can view as well.

Or not. This one is guaranteed to only intrigue a percentage of you. It made me laugh out loud enough times that it was worth blogging.

Yes, I’m still knitting… the first ribbed legwarmer. It’s long enough to be a normal one but I want it to be really really long… so I’m still knitting. I did not seam anything yesterday, though. Sigh…

Thankful, and a Pancake Recipe

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Today (Thanksgiving Day) I awoke to a small dusting of snow here, just enough to cover the blah gray colors of the last several days. The sun has managed to get some light through the cloudcover, and with the snow on the ground there is much light reflecting through the air today. The lack of light this week has rendered me grumpy and I am grateful for light this Thanksgiving day.

I’m sitting in the living room with laptop on my lap. There are windows on my left and right, and straight ahead. In this small room there are five old-fashioned, tall windows and a door with eight small panes of glass in it. I am more aware than usual of how I live in a sort of climate bubble, protected from the elements by a few thin walls and a good furnace. I’m grateful.

I am still waking up. I have a different schedule than the rest of the world (I am awake approximately 10:30am to 2:30am) and I do not jump start quickly when I get vertical first thing. Brian can wake up and run a sprint the next minute, but I barely know my name for a couple of hours. A cup of tea and some internet reading is the right way to start slowly, when at all possible.

I am drinking in this reflected sunlight… no sunbeams but real light just the same. Brian is playing ukulele in the chair across from me and I’m alternately knitting on my legwarmer and typing (sometimes my computer stops responding to even mouse clicks until I wait 10 seconds, it is so frustrating that I knit before trying again).

brownpancakes16.jpgBut I thought I’d give you a recipe for Thanksgiving. These are very pleasing to me. They are not standard-issue pancakes at all, but they have a lovely texture.

Depending on which spices you choose, they can have a different character. If you use orange juice to make the baking soda rise, try nutmeg and allspice. if no juice, consider cinnamon and cloves. Or try a combination I have not suggested, if it sounds good to you.

I like whole grain foods and have not had white bread or standard all-purpose wheat flour for several years. These pancakes have a strong, pleasant, sort of caramel flavor if you ask me. Brian swears that buckwheat tastes a bit like chocolate, but I can not quite understand that assertion. It could be a good thing, if you agreed!

One note… Teff grain is eaten in Ethiopia and nearly nowhere else, from what I can determine. It is a tiny grain with little room for starch… it’s very high in protein and fiber. If your area has an African grocery you can try there, but Africa is a huge place with many cultures and you still may come up empty handed. In my city we have an amazing asian market which also has African foods, and I can get Teff flour there in larger bags. I also can get the Bob’s Red Mill brand in smaller bags at the two health food grocery stores. If you want to try the pancakes right away and have no teff flour, try some rice flour instead, which works but is a second choice for texture and flavor, as well as nutrition. Buckwheat does not work well alone.

Tasty Brown Pancakes by LynnH

No gluten
No wheat
No dairy
No egg
No soy
No peanuts/tree nuts
No potato
No corn
No yeast

1 cup Whole-grain buckwheat flour (I use Arrowhead Mills, some other brands require less water)

1/2 c Teff flour (not teff grain, get from Bob’s Red Mill if not avail. locally) Sub brown rice flour in a pinch, though it contains less protein

1 Tbsp Ground Flaxseed (acts as an egg-like binder and browns well… I added this ingredient after the first post of this recipe)

Optional: 2 Tbsp powdered goat milk (adds protein, not needed for culinary success)

3 Tbsp Brown sugar (or maple sugar, or white sugar in a pinch)

1/2 tsp cinnamon if tolerated

dash Nutmeg and/or
dash Allspice and/or
dash Cloves if tolerated

A) 1 tsp Baking Powder
B) 1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 package Emergen-C Lite -OR-
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar -OR-
1/2 tsp Powdered vitamin c (corn free) -OR-
1 Tbsp Citrus juice

3 Tbsp Oil (High-heat resistant such as safflower, sunflower or grapeseed won’t stick)

2 c Warm-to-Hot (slightly less if you used citrus juice above or if you omit the flaxseed meal)

Preheat griddle on low before starting to mix ingredients. The THICKER the pan, the better the pancakes will fry. I now use a heavy cast iron skillet and hope for a true iron griddle someday.)

Place all dry ingredients in mixing bowl and blend with wire whisk. Add wet ingredients and blend again with whisk, only until dry ingredients are wet. Let sit for at least 2 minutes while you turn up the heat on your griddle to medum-high. These pancakes require a slightly lower temperature than standard wheat pancakes.

Make relatively small pancakes, about 4″/10cm across, using a small measuring cup to pour onto the griddle. Turn when edges start to look a bit dry. Remove when browned on second side.

Serve hot off the griddle with real maple syrup or your favorite topping. I like hot applesauce with cinnamon, or try spiced pumpkin butter for an autumn treat.

In the summer we eat the leftover pancakes under ice cream and strawberries for dessert. They make good small peanut butter sandwich “bread” also.

Makes approx. 2 dozen pancakes.

Enjoy, and be Thankful for whatever good you’ve got. Some years are easy, some harder, but being alive is a wonderful thing.

Non-Tradition, yet the Essence of a Holiday

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

yarnmixclass1.jpgThree Holidays in One

A few weeks ago my family had what we call Thanks-Christmas. We gathered at my mom’s home for a simple rhubarb crisp dessert and the company of one another. Actually we also celebrated my birthday early.

This year we finally said that gifts are absolutely optional. Mom and Fred, Brian and I did not do gifts other than hugs.

Eric and Diana chose to give small food gifts. They gave Brian a small pie from a well-regarded bakery in Ann Arbor, I got some very nice tea, Fred got some nuts, and I don’t remember what Mom got. I think it’s particularly wonderful that some gave and some didn’t and it was just plain right, just the way it was.

I think that in our family we have been through so much loss, that we are really clear about what matters to us (and it isn’t stuff, though we all have plenty). We love the fact that we are still together and that we enjoy one another so much.

Mom was widowed at 38, Eric at 30. Fred has also been widowed. Diana and I have been through difficult marriages with subsequent divorces. Brian is the only one who has not had a significant loss yet.

So on a holiday when we all can be in the same house, all pretty darned happy and relatively on the healthy scale, we celebrate our togetherness. This is as it should be. Gratitude and relationship are what the winter holidays mean to me.

This Week’s Holiday

This week for Thanksgiving, I had planned to get food at Altu’s Restaurant on Wednesday Night. Then I’d take it home to the refrigerator and heat it up the next day, for just the two of us. I figured I would be thankful for not having to cook.

Well, when I ordered the food over the phone I was not yarnmixclass2.jpgvery clear that I wanted all the different foods in separate containers for reheating later. When I got there, the dinners were ready to go, hot and ready to eat right then.

This initiated a change in plans. I went home and made a big pot of organic green tea, and Brian and I ate our Thanksgiving Dinner. On Wednesday night at about 8:30pm.

We had spicy chicken, mild split yellow peas and creamy mild lima beans. After all, it was ready to go and it would not have been quite as nice the next day (the Ethiopian sourdough flat bread doesn’t heat up that well after being refrigerated, though it does well on the counter).

A Big Treat

I don’t know right now what we’ll have for dinner on Thanksgiving day. I know we will have pancakes and strawberries for brunch. This will be enough for me to be thankful for a while.

brownpancakes16.jpgI had a bunch more allergy tests Tuesday and they pronounced me not allergic to strawberries (strawberries are a difficult food for a lot of food-allergic folks). I have been avoiding all fruit after bad experiences with bananas and peaches. I bought some organic frozen berries today, and we will put those on pancakes.

A few weeks ago the allergist also declared that I was not allergic to milk itself. I am having trouble with yogurt and cheese (cultured foods are generally a problem). I have not tested this theory yet, but Thanksgiving seemed a good time for it.

I found some ice cream that didn’t have any ingredients I can’t eat, a small miracle. I will cook pancakes, and put strawberries and ice cream on them, and it will be a VERY. BIG. DEAL. Enough to be thankful for, for sure!

We’ll see if I do well in reality… tests can be off, but it is exciting to have the permission to try. If I slow down to a crawl after eating the ice cream, I will just take a nap and not worry about it for one day. I do not have to work for 24 hours.

Let Us Hear it for the Freezer!

We have some food in the freezer that is very tasty and we may thaw that, so we won’t have to cook much tomorrow. I do not like making dinner-type foods, though I don’t mind baking or breakfast.

Less is more. Maybe oven-roasted root veggies (we have rutabagas and sweet potatoes). Those are a big treat, because they take preparation time and “babysitting.” That sort of attention and time to cooking normally is too much bother when I get home after 8pm and still need to make dinner.

Oh, Yeah… this is an Art Blog

Knitting? I’m working on the super-tall ribbed legwarmers I started a few days ago. Though the colors are very muted, they are absolutetly gorgeous. It will take a LOT of yarn and a LOT of stitches to finish these, but with bulky yarn it’s going faster than if it were thinner yarn.

fffootieclass11-18-07.jpgI am really enjoying the yarn I’m using. It is very wooly, very springy and traditional, a little scratchy but just plain perfect for ribbed legwarmers that should not fall down. They will be very warm. And the colors are so good… a purple-blue, a plum, grape, and dark teal green. Really subtle but sort of like light reflecting on  a rippled pond, lots of colors in small bits.

These will be very usable legwarmers. Not flashy or super-colored like the ones I talked about yesterday, but I bet I will wear these ten times for every one time I wear the extra-colorful ones.

I had the fortune today of running into the knit friend who gave me the yarn. I showed her my project and that felt great. The yarn has been waiting for over a year, for me to figure out what it wanted to be. This is truly a perfect project for it.

And I really hope I get out the sewing needle to finish a few wool knit items tomorrow. Wish me well.

Photos? Well, one is clearly my pseudo-famous “brown pancakes” made with buckwheat and teff flour (sans strawberries).

Two are some yarn choices made in my Kristi Wrap/Party Stole class at Rae’s last Saturday, and last is a baby-sized Fast Florida Footie (without purled stitches on the sole) from Sunday’s class also at Rae’s.

The yarn choices were made after we had a color discussion something like yesterday’s post. Then we piled so many yarns on the table it almost would not hold them, and switched yarns in and out to choose. Between two students we ended up with three projects planned out. (Can you see that I can help with colors even when they are not those I wear personally?) We had a wonderful time!

Blah Outdoors, Colorful Inside

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Just for the record, I’ve seen the sun for maybe 45 seconds in the last two days, total. It is gray and miserable as Lansing gets this time of year. Awful. Definitely, color is the antidote to the blues which are trying to creep in to my mood at every possible moment.

dallasproject7colors.jpgA Speaking Engagement

I was honored tonight to be the speaker for our Mid-Michigan Knitters’ Guild meeting. I was allowed to pretty much propose my own topic and I chose (no surprise) color. I have been teaching classes for several years, in many venues (yarn shops, festivals, libraries, and now the guild) about using color, combining yarns and the like. Tonight I got to teach a big group, a couple dozen folks or more.

I love teaching so much, and this group was full of friendly, familiar faces. It was wonderful. No matter when I teach this subject (or a pattern which benefits from this information) I find that others just have not spent their lives obsessed with color, as I have. Old news to me is new news to many.

Much to Say

Somehow I said most of what I had wanted to say, even though it seems that a fraction of an hour can’t possibly be enough. We talked about combining different yarns that don’t match in brand/fiber, and we talked about how solid colors are very hard to match (yarn to buttons is only one example). I showed several examples which I think may have helped folks picture what I was talking about. I showed a few books (Styles by Sally Melville, which is my favorite on this subject, and a Horst Schultz book that Lisa had brought with her).

We talked about using one single (usually darker) color as a unifying element to other items. The Melville book is a great place to see how well this can work. I also showed a sweater I own and the legwarmers I made for the Dallas/Ft-Worth Fiberfest fashion show.

One Project as an Example

Those legwarmers are made in stranded knitting (sometimes called “fairisle”) which uses two colors in the same row. In that pair I used four turquoises/teals, four hot pinks, two hot greens, a yellow and a purple.

In that project I used superwash wool, silk/wool blends, alpaca/silk blend, and an angora blend, and perhaps others. The yarns were many different textures and structures (some plied, some chained, some brushed) but they look great together. I made them thinking of Turkish Socks, where they use bits and pieces of leftover yarns.

Color Language

I talked about color as having *three* elements. We often say “light blue” or “dark green” but that just gives value (light to dark) and hue (blue, green, red). However, there is another part to color, and it’s called chroma (or saturation, or intensity). That is whether the color is really “hot” or intense, or whether it’s muted and subtle. Muted comes from adding gray (or sometimes black or white) to the base color.

For those who knit, you might imagine the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarns, they are all somewhat muted though some are more than others. They all go together well. These are a lower chroma set of colors, all containing some subtle level of gray to mute and soften. (Martha Stewart also tends to use grayed tones in her interior spaces).

For those who read here often or who know me in “real life,” you know I choose colors for the most part which have no gray. Subtle is not in my palette. I look good in saturated/high chroma colors with blue undertones. (Those who assign color groupings to skin/hair/eye color call me a winter, though I’m not a typical dark hair/pale skin Sleeping Beauty winter.) For me, ColorJoy is electric, no gray at all.

partystoleraecloseup10.jpgWays to Begin

I discussed color groupings. How one way to start is to find a multicolored yarn in colors you love, and work with those colors.

Another way is to pick a corner of the color wheel… for example, turquoise/ blue/ purple, such as my yarn colorway called Seaside (see photo). Our eyes enjoy seeing colors which belong in the same “neighborhood.” This type of grouping (remember the 70’s and green/ blue/ purple or yellow/ orange/ red) is called an “analogous” color scheme.

However, once we get better at choosing color, using one contrast not from that corner can make the whole item “pop” with interest. If you choose magenta/purple/blue and then you accent the piece with hot green, it is likely to give it depth and life you can not access with analogous colors alone.

This grouping (with the contrast) is called “analogous variety.” The photo here with turquoise/blue/purple ribbons and mohair has a “pop” of yellow-green, for example. I wish the photo were better at proving this point, but the background behind the knitted fabric is also hot yellow-green so it is hard to see how much “punch” that extra color provides.

I will be teaching more about combining color at the guild retreat in February. I will, in particular, have us swatch a number of stitch patterns that blend colors well for items not necessarily dressy. I’m hoping that folks will see that they can use these color-combining concepts for hats, sweaters, scarves… and use normal yarns, not just fancy ones…

There will always be more to say about color. For now I’m off to dreamland.


That Dress You All Noticed

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Well, in my very-long post the other day, where I posted photos of me wearing colorful garb… you sure noticed dress #1. It’s worth a chat because it was SUCH a find!

This dress I found on an adventure to Grand Rapids, Michigan, I think in June this year… I started a long post on that day which included three different areas of Grand Rapids, and never finished it.

Brian & I were in GR for a family gathering. We decided to go early and hit both a funky part of town (East Town) and a beautiful park (for the Water Festival which deserved its own post). In the funky part of town is City Knitting, a really fine shop I had not visited before… and a very nice Indian restaurant which unfortunately was closed that time of day.

But we were there during a street festival, so not only did we visit the knit shop and look for food, we shopped. And I found a booth that was not only resale (clothing), but very fine funky multicultural resale.

And I ended up with a lightweight cotton embroidered dress from India, and three dresses from Hawaii, approximately 1970-73 if I can tell from the fabrics. (I remember that era well… I was young but I was IN LOVE with the styles).

The dress here was pretty incredible… the tag inside indicates it was from a tailor rather than a clothing line, and it says Hawaii. The inside of the dress has details that really look as though it was handmade to order. And the dress perhaps had been worn once and then dry cleaned, or maybe never worn at all.

As far as I can tell, someone went to Hawaii on vacation and had something made for them as a souvenir, then never wore it. I got another dress that is very different in style (probably a few years later) but the same size, which I’m guessing was also from the same person’s wardrobe.

I could not believe I could actually wear this thing… and it fits me as though it was tailored for me! The woman selling these items was not only delighted that I bought so many dresses but that they fit so perfectly and that I clearly loved them for their history as well as their style.

I can’t believe my luck. We had been to a wonderful, much larger clothing sale in NYC in April and I found wonderful things but none of them fit. Here I went home with four items. One does need a good deal of alteration but the others were perfect as they were.

And for those of us who love clothing, who find costuming ourselves an everyday artform… well, a find like this is something we remember always. That dress waited for me. I’m pleased as punch!

By the way, I’m clear the pose is artificial, I was trying to imitate Twiggy. In the era when this dress was made, Twiggy was *the* model especially for anything geared to girls of my age. Someone bought me a subscription to Seventeen Magazine during that time frame and I drank in all the styles that were clearly too big-city for me to find them in my town.

Twiggy was always photographed as though she was on her way somewhere, legs always looking in motion. I’m not Twiggy (and this photo was taken with a timer, no photographer behind the camera) but it sure was entertaining to pose like her in the garden (on a very, very hot day).

Startitis: Legwarmers for Me

Sunday, November 18th, 2007


I have recently been juggling a good number of knitting projects. None are for me. Mind you, I knit because I love to wear knitted wool items. I knit because I enjoy knitting wool items for myself. Right now, I have a few gifts, a pair of socks in my purse for Brian (for waiting in line knitting) and a few work-related projects. Nothing for me, not even bulky footie-slippers which would take no time and make me smile.

Of course you know where I’m going with this. Today I realized that I really am hungry to just make something for myself. The kind of thing which brought me to knitting in the first place!

I realize that if I balance that project for me with other things, it’s OK for me to do some selfish knitting. I am really in favor of selfish knitting as a concept, for those of us who love knitting in the same way I do. Some people always knit for charity and that satisfies them. I’m talking of satisfaction here. Sometimes I need to knit for me, sometimes others. I need both to feel satisfied.


On top of that, today was a really cold and gray Lansing day. A really typical winter day, with cloud cover and chill, and a small breeze. Ugh. I wore a good sweater and turtleneck, even legwarmers, a beret (indoors), wristwarmers and thin wool socks. I needed longjohns and taller legwarmers.

So I got home tonight, wrapped up in good Ethiopian cotton blankets (they are amazing, four layers of handspun, handwoven cotton) and took a nap. I got all toasty, and started scheming for some legwarmers.

Plans for Warmth

I took a look in the stash. I needed a big chunk of yarn that would work to make some very tall and warm legwarmers without sweating bullets that I’d run out. I found a pound and a half of Cherry Tree Hill 14-ply New Zeeland handpainted wool yarn (bulky) which was a gift a year or two ago. The colorway name is Blueberry Hill, I think, it’s sort of purply-blueberry and grape with plums and a bit of dark teal. It’s subtle but deep and will work well with much of my clothing.

This is good, traditional, sproingy wool. Waaaarm wool. Just the thing! I cast on.

I have sooo much of this yarn that I can knit and knit and knit and knit, and make legwarmers all the way to the upper thigh. It does help that I’m short and have slender legs. However, even in 2×2 ribbing and the tallest possible height, I will not need to worry about running out of wool this time. And it was already in stash, not a single hit to the budget.

I do have a legwarmer pattern in the works, but it is not this one. Making legwarmers that fit from thigh to ankle are necessarily a very personal thing, and I doubt I could specify sizes that would work in something as generic as a pattern.

Legwarmers for All

The pattern will be more standard-length and call for worsted-weight yarns. This also means that they won’t be as bulky (people who don’t wear legwarmers all the time often complain about how they appear to add body weight… I vote for warm over chic but then I’m over 40 so I get to ignore that stuff now… and I admit I’m thin so that makes it easy for me to be flip about the issue).

So we hope I’ll be able to dig out the notes (from last year) for the legwarmers and see what I can do. Meanwhile I’m making non-pattern-related super-warm, super-thick, super-tall legwarmers for myself. Someday I’ll knit myself some sockweight leggings/knit pants, but for now this is going to help me stay warm this winter.

My Current Favorite Pair

Here is a photo of legwarmers I knit several years ago. They are essentially Sally Melville’s “Maximum Legwarmers” from her Knit Stitch book, except that I put ribbing on the top and bottom of them. Hers call for rolled edges which is cute (and means that they have no purls, which allowed her to put them in that book). I wear legwarmers so often, and so hard, that I felt they needed ribbing for me.

I can not tell you how often I wear these. They call for 2 colorways of Noro Kureyon, striped randomly. I striped the first randomly then matched it on the second. I chose one colorway that was all warm tones, and one colorway that was all cool tones. The best!