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Archive for February, 2008

Fri/Sat Fabulous Heftones Events

Friday, February 15th, 2008

heftonesschulersokemos.jpgWell, I guess I’m mostly of the living again. I worked for 2 hours Thursday night. Yes, I went home and promptly passed out on the couch but it was SO good to be out again. Work is like “Cheers.” I go places where I work and I know my place, I just belong. It is wonderful.

I was lucky… with all that illness I was fighting, it never messed with my voice. My singing voice is just as clear and strong as ever, and I am grateful. My legs are a bit wobbly still, so playing bass standing up may need to alternate with sitting on a stool from time to time, but that’s OK.

I have not known for sure if I would be well enough for this weekend’s events but now it seems clear that it will work out fine. Therefore I am announcing two Fabulous Heftones concerts, late but with full enthusiasm:

Friday night, 6-8pm, Rae’s Yarn Boutique Grand Re-Opening Gala.

She moved her shop, actually opened the doors at this location on January 2 but it takes a while to get settled in. Tonight is the night. Normally she closes at 6 on Friday, and this week she stays open an extra 2 hours. Those on her email list got a little coupon for the celebration in their email boxes this morning. We’re playing as The Fabulous Heftones from 6-8. It should be a fun time. The new location is 2004 East Michigan Avenue, a few doors down from Emil’s Italian Restaurant and across the street from the Green Door Lounge. This is between the Michigan Avenue Exit of 496, and the Capitol building, about 5 blocks west of the highway/Frandor.

Saturday night, 6:30-8:30pm, Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine, Valentine’s Weekend Event.

This is our home venue and it will be our 6th Valentine’s Weekend show for Altu. She insists that we are the only right act for the event. I have to say that we truly are “The Most Romantic Act in Lansing.” I’m not sure there is anyone else vying for the title so it’s an easy one to win, but we love that little niche of ours. And why not? Is there nothing more realistic than falling in love? It doesn’t always work out as we planned, but who does not understand that feeling? It is as normal and realistic as rain in April, in the USA. There is no cover, but on Valentines weekend sometimes you have to wait for a table which is unusual at Altu’s as a rule. Bring a friend, your kid, come alone with a book. We would love to sing some schmaltzy romance your way, and a few funny tunes as well.

Black Purl Magazine and African Folklore Embroidery

Friday, February 15th, 2008

I have known about Black Purl magazine online for a little while. This online magazine is about handwork, not just knit and crochet, and looks quite a bit at what are sometimes called “ethnic” artforms. You may enjoy perusing the back issues of their newsletter, Essentia, when you get a minute.

There is an article in the current issue, about African Folklore Embroidery (South African, bright colors on black backgrounds, right up my alley). There are kits available and they are seeking out teachers to pass the artform forward. Do check out the African Folklore Embroidery website for a visual feast.

You Guys are All My Valentines Today

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

carnations.jpgWow… I gave myself the gift of a blog one day. It has changed my life and now I have you all. I am grateful.

Valentines Day is an odd thing. I think it benefits the Hallmark people, etc., if it becomes a time of obligation. I think it is sad because just because you have somebody doesn’t mean you are happy, and just because you are partner-free doesn’t mean you don’t feel a loving life around you.

I have Brian now, and he is the best thing in my life. I was happy before he found me… I would be happy if he were not here, but I’m delighted that I need not think of that today.

However, I spent 16 years in a commitment which sometimes had only the glue of many years to hold us together. Those were very bad years for Valentine’s Day. I would go to the Hallmark store. There was not a single card saying “here is to keeping our word when we said forever as teens.” “Here’s to a lot of years, by the skin of our teeth.” “Here’s to committment even on a bad day/week/year/decade.”

It would take hours and I would end up buying a card that was dishonest, which I found upsetting. I did not intend to lie when we knew the truth.

Mind you, it was both of our faults and neither’s fault, that we were unable to make it work. We believed the songs on the radio, that feelings were an indication of forever, and then we stayed true to our promises when they had been made. We were so young. He was 15, I was 16 when we promised forever. Crazy. And it continues to happen every day. Some folks realize that they need to let go, but I was one of the stubborn ones.

I do not mean to bring unhappiness to this post, I am just reporting facts at this point. I wish my ex all happiness, I have no hard feelings and I have gone on to an amazing, love-filled, art-filled, friendship-filled, wonderful life.

valentine.gifBut I want to acknowledge those who are sitting alone, perhaps mostly happy or maybe just in one of those in-between life-learning times that happens in every adult life. Valentine’s Day can be for you as well. I, for one, deeply appreciate your presence in my life here, whether you comment or not.

I wish I could have spent a week knitting little hearts with cute eyes, and I’d carry them in my pocket and give them to everyone I encounter who is special in my life. It would be so fun to be able to be that frivolous. My friend Marie bought some kids valentines last year and gave them out and that was mighty fine. Small, inexpensive, but great fun and a sort of a thank you. I have been too ill to think that far ahead.

But today I get to go back to work for the first time in 10 days. I am SO ready for a social environment for a change. It will be such fun.

And Brian reeeeeeally wants to take me to dinner. Maybe I’ll see if we can get sushi and take it home where we can eat it with feet up. I tell you, my husband is even more married than I am… for which I am significantly grateful. And what a fine human being he is. Every day I give thanks. Every day, not just on holidays.

But I say that if we notice the relationships in our lives that work for us, even something little like a favorite cashier at Kroger… that is how to really reap the true joy of this not-quite-right-yet holiday. Yes, thank everyone in your world today if they make your life better. Even if they “should” already know. Thanking people is never out of style, appreciation is a good viewpoint on any day.

Anna Hrachovec’s Knitted Hearts

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Some of you may remember that I had some fun making small holiday gifts by knitting and felting tiny 3-D hearts. First I made one with dreadlocks for Brian, then a more straightforward one for my Goddaughter, Sara, as a tree ornament.

I posted the projects to Ravelry and the designer, Anna Hrachovec, noticed. We have had a few very nice emails and she asked me if she could use my dreadlock heart on her blog. Of course I said yes… thank you.

Mind you, there are over 200 projects on Ravelry from this pattern alone. Anna had a good number of choices out there. She just spent a week on her blog showing all sorts of variations on the heart (which is a free pattern… I recommend it highly… have a finished heart in 45 minutes and smile for at least a week).

So Wednesday Anna finished her whirlwind tour of Ravelry hearts, with my dreadlock dude and a totally clever heart-as-potted-plant variation. I am honored by the company I get to keep on that blog entry. Woohoo!

After a week of emotional and physical blahs, illness and inertia, this is the perfect antidote. For the record, I cooked and I made myself eat more food than I thought I could eat… and I got more energy Wednesday night than I have had in a week. I should only wonder why that seems so surprising. It’s obvious, is it not?

But then I get this great note from Anna, and I go back and look at not only my hearts but a whole bunch of others’ interpretation of this very simple and fun pattern. And my week is transformed very quickly indeed.

Thanks, Anna!

If you like the heart, try it. If you like the idea of knitted toys, check out Anna’s site where she has all sorts of fun and amazing projects waiting for you… some free, some for pay, all worth time and money.

In Search of “Oomph”

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

I need your help. You see, I have been in bed since two Mondays ago. I am tired of being tired. My fever is gone, I am officially not contagious, and yet I can hardly stay awake in the middle of the day. Every day is wake up, rest, nap, wake up, eat, sleep again.

I have no energy. Standing upright is a tippy prospect, I need to be where I can hold on to a wall. For those of you who know me, this is just not Lynn. And no, it’s not mono. been there already, thank goodness it can not repeat.

Brian was funny today. As a background note, I once knew a cat named Amanda who acted like she owned the world… Queen, not pet. She would sit there looking superior, and the family she lived with developed this funny joke (to them) where they would turn to Amanda and say: “Poof! You’re a cat!” And she’d look around like something unpleasant had happened, not liking the change in energy.

So I tend to say “Poof! You’re a cat!” Or “Poof, you’re a ________!” When I need a change in perspective. I find it quite amusing, in any case.

So today Brian sat in his chair and said, “Poof, you’re LynnH!” Because, boy oh boy have I not been my normal high-energy LynnH self lately. I wish his magic had worked. In time I am sure, but not as quickly as we might have hoped.

I realize that the first line of defense is good rest, and that I have done. I can’t take standard vitamins because of all the allergies I fight, though I have an iron pill I can take every couple of days if I have a tummy full of food to avoid a stomach ache from it. I know that the standard advice would be to eat beef or some sort of mammal product but that just does not work for me, though chicken remains in my arsenal for the time being.

So tonight I am planning to make some chicken broth into something or another. I will take “Emergen-C” powder to get a few vitamins in me. I ate something like a third of a cabbage (stir fried) which was tasty but not exactly an energy factory. It took me till dinnertime to get out of bed, to even make that. Thank goodness I had some soy tapioca pudding already made which I could eat until I got today’s energy together.

Any advice for me? What do you do when you need energy and it is not coming from within? Please pile that comment bin full of options. I will not be able to take all the suggestions because of my fussy food allergy situation, but if I do not use the advice, perhaps another commenter might learn from it.

I want to be LynnH again. This lump I have turned into is a boring gal. Please help.

(Oh… gratitude: my car started today after sitting still for more than a week of very cold weather. I did not go anywhere but that was gift enough.)

A Swan Dive, a Gratitude List

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

– I continue to be grateful for those who love me and call to see if I need anything.
– I feel lucky that I can cancel appointments without big consequences this week.
– I am more than grateful for a good night’s sleep.
– I have never been more grateful for the ability to eat two meals in 1 day (after food was the enemy)
– I am delighted that I packed the freezer with soup broth and frozen veggies when I felt fine last month.

The swan dive? I do not know what happened exactly. I got up to answer the phone, or something. I sat back down on the couch, went to take a sip of tea. My Palm Pilot was taking a soaking bath in the cup of tea. Submerged fully.

The good news? I had JUST synchronized it so I did not lose a single piece of data, nothing. I dutifully put it on the heat vent but I am telling you, half an hour later it still has more water inside than can be addressed. I am absolutely sure that I just “ate” a $99 piece of equipment in one unremembered moment of bad timing.

Equipment is easy to replace, though. Data would have been an awful mess to reconstruct. I can not function without my palm device, ask Rae. For now I will have to lug my laptop with me when I go to work events so I can schedule. I’ll hope to come up with the funds for a new one this week somehow. Thank goodness people keep buying from my website and my Etsy site, while I go nowhere.

Food and sleep all in one day means I have some energy. This is new and appreciated. I am about ready to take a nap but I think today I turned a good corner. And I think Brian is feeling a little better today, too. I think we’re going to make it after all.

I even knit. Alpaca socks (well, trying to match this one having not made notes when knitting the first). Perfect, don’t you think?

Counting My Blessings

Monday, February 11th, 2008

I slept till 3pm Sunday. What a surprise. It didn’t start out a restful night, but when I finally opened my eyes I thought I might be Lynn again. I’m still weak, but the emotional me is beyond pleased.

Ice Queen Weather

The view from our living room Sunday was surreal. There was so much light coming in from everywhere! The sun shone, and it bounced around to the point where it seemed light came beaming in from every window at the same time, all three sides of the room. The sky was so clear and the air so cold that even when snow got into the air, the snowflakes turned into pulverized particles of ice, like fairy dust.

Saturday night at 6pm it was just barely under the freezing mark, and then it plummeted south quickly. Right now (writing this draft after 9pm Sunday) it is -5F, with a predicted -6F low tonight (-21C for my international readers). It was another good day for staying in. I am very, very happy for our Mail Carriers on foot, that it was a non-mail-delivery day.

My Incredible Support Team

Sunday the phone kept ringing. Friends who knew I had been ill spent time leaving me to heal but figured they should make sure I was on the mend by now.

Altu, April, a music friend, all made brief calls to hear my voice. That is where I really count my blessings. All week I had offers from local blogging friends, dance friends, other friends… did I need anything they could bring over? What could they do? Since Brian is so good to me I needed nothing, but it was lovely to have offers.

I have created the nicest possible community of friends I could have possibly asked for. No, it’s not just me creating it, but the space must be clear and warm for people to feel comfy joining in. Of course, nobody can join my circle if they have never met me, if I have never reached out or gone socializing in any way. That bit was on my own shoulders long before this week.

Knowing the Difference

I remember when my father died, my mom really did not have confidantes or buddies. She had co-workers. She knew people at church. We knew a group of neighborhood families. Mom had not totally isolated herself, but she also had so much to juggle in her life that she did not really have strong friendships that supported her well. With a career and an unwell husband, it left no time for nurturing personal friendships. She had our family, and when Daddy died the three of us did our best. We still feel like a powerful and loving team.

For the record, Mom is a social butterfly now, with so many friends and activities that she will never be alone. She will never want for someone who cares. Mom has done a bang-up job of becoming herself and I wish to emulate her strengths myself. At this point, Mom is one of my support folks from afar.

I, too, had a time in my life where I was quite isolated and had little time for building personal support friendships. When I lived half an hour from work and depended on my then partner to drive me to and from work, lunch hours were the only time for socializing. I could go to lunch with others who also worked downtown, mostly co-workers.

At least I had the phone, and I did use it… and I found respite in the independently-owned Fabric Gallery store, a tiny but super-high-quality sewing heaven which thankfully was walking distance from my house. I spent time there every Saturday, and it was rejuvenating. You do what you can with what you have. I discovered wool jersey fabric during those years… even when I sewed as my creative outlet, it was knit wool that made me happiest.

Counting Every Blessing

In my current life, I have the music community, dance, knitting, the East Side (Foster Center was important to me before I taught kids to knit there). All the yarn shops where I teach are full of friends, particularly the shop owners. Then there is Altu and the community centered around her restaurant and the music I coordinate for her there. Many of my students I now count also as friends. I have the blogging community which is local as well as international in scope. And now I have Ravelry on top of that.

After a week where it was just difficult to breathe, I am so happy to see what blessings (if I may call them that without sounding church-y) I have in my life. I am so happy to take a moment to make this gratitude list, not only of the things and people I am happy to have in my life, but where I stand in my life’s journey, as well. It seems appropriate to take in “the landscape” this early in the calendar year, as we proceed forward.

For the record, Brian is first on the list. I was happy single, but my life is magnified in all good ways since we joined forces. He was so helpful to me when I was so very sick the first 4 days. Unfortunately, he came down with an awful cold Friday and so now we are sort of parallel-sick trying not to pass our germs across the room. This, too, shall pass.

Permission to Knit for No Good Reason

In more frivolous pursuits, I have been afraid to try to knit anything Sunday, though it has been the first time my hands had the inclination to pick up needles in nearly a week. I do not want to make any mistakes and it seems I feel guilty doing a sock with no reason attached to it when I have pattern deadlines looming heavily at my schedule’s door.

I think I’ll shed that guilt and let myself knit a sock for the pure joy of one knit stitch after another. The value of that is in the repetitive joy of the knitting and its relaxation. Joy and relaxation might equal healing, right?

Tomorrow I will see if the knitting-editor brain has returned along with the more normal temp. It would be good if I could do some work, at least get started in a gentle way. I won’t be teaching tomorrow but perhaps I can do something useful on the computer.

Now where did I put that sock?

Lansing’s Singing Community in New York Times Sunday!

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

My town is amazing for the arts, I say that here often. For those who have read my blog for a while, a year ago Brian and I did a workshop for the local Mid-Winter Singing Festival which just happened again this year the first weekend in February. Lansing has it made in this area, all music is well-represented and there are community sings every month even when there is not a full-blown festival.

So today in the New York Times arts section there is an article about community singing, and most of the content comes from my own community. I know almost everyone who was interviewed, it’s home and I am proud.

Sally Potter is the woman whose energy started this local movement and keeps it moving forward. However, the numbers are so large at this point she has created an energy far larger than one… and she has always been one to give credit to others doing work by her side.

I highly recommend reading the article if you just want to feel better about humanity. Whether you like the music they sing or not, the fact that folks can come together when life is not going all that well, and then they can sing and make it matter less, well… it makes my heart glad.

On the top left sidebar of the article, there is a video if you click. The video is really well done, just beautifully assembled and produced. They actually show the church where Brian and I were married, if you are that kind of curious… Folk music concerts are held in that church and that series of concerts is where I first heard Brian sing, where I first discovered “that ukulele guy.” I didn’t know his name for years but it started with the Ten Pound Fiddle Coffeehouse, which is now presented in that church. It is a center for music, for the community as well as those who worship on Sunday mornings.

If you must live in the frigid cold of Lansing, in February, there is nothing like an article and video of this caliber to make you glad you are where you are.

Oh… a late add to the post… here is a Youtube video showing clips of many of the daytime workshops from the 2007 festival. Also well worth the view and enough to make you smile. My town is all right!

Dave Cole

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

I’m still down for the count. I was able to eat today, more than soup, but still have a raised temp. That’s six days on my back, and I am allowed to feel grumpy about that. I’m doing all the right stuff, thank goodness I love tea. It can’t last much longer.

I opened the door a little today for a tiny bit more air, it’s supposed to get mean-cold tonight. Any fresh air is good at this point.

A Masterful Diversion

So, while my life is significantly boring… I suggest you go check out the work of Dave Cole. He is a man who can not be categorized and I love that sort of person. He did the project where construction equipment knit a huge American flag. He also knit a wedding dress by hand, with 1/8″ strips of dollar bills. It is spectacularly beautiful, many women would look gorgeous in that design.

He even knits lead teddy bears. I have seen the flag, the wedding dress and one of his teddy bears in person.

Cole does a lot of projects that are not knitting, but this is a knitting-focused blog so I’m highlighting things with more interest to my readers.

For the record, he also co-wrote a book, Learning Outside the Lines, about how to get through high school and college if you are ADHD and Learning Disabled… during the time he was getting his degree from Brown University. A personal-experience sort of book.

I had some time to burn so I really looked at a lot of Mr. Cole’s site today. He not only dreams of improbable creations but finds the resources (inner and outer) to get what he needs to make them come about. I admire that.

Positively Balmy

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I feel luxurious today. I’m one who adores open windows, open doors. I even roll down the windows in my car, at least a little, most of the year.

So winter is really hard for me. I can’t hear the sounds of the outdoors, can’t feel the fresh air. Instead we have the hiss of a furnace, which for some reason is very distracting to me. (Am I the only one who counts one of the disadvantages of winter, as having a furnace blowing much of the time? The sound, not the warmth…)

Well, today it’s just around freezing, and there is no wind at all. In the areas of the house where heat rises through the roof, the snow is melting and there is a steady drip of water I can see through the window. There is the tiniest bit of snow coming down, and it is peaceful and beautiful.

The house just felt full of germs and stale air. So I turned down the thermostat, wrapped up in my Ethiopian blanket and opened the front door. Aaaahhh.

If it has to be winter, this is pretty good. OK, I can’t do it very long but I feel some relief.

I am Not in Charge (Favorite Sayings)

Friday, February 8th, 2008


Whenever I have an instinct to control something not in my power to control, my favorite saying is “I’m not in charge.” It has perhaps never been so true as this week.

I was a bit sick last week for a few days (small potatoes, as Gramma would say), but I recovered, danced at Aladdins, felt just great. Then Monday I got hit hard. It’s a mean flu, different symptoms every day. I spent a day and a half unable to keep anything down other than a little water. Even tea did not agree with me.

I do not get that sort of sick very often and I had forgotten. I am grateful for a few friends/family who were able to give me real advice on how to get through the nausea. Today I’m through that challenge, anyway.

So I’m not in charge. This was to be such a busy, exciting week. It has turned into a “sit on the couch and don’t move” week. Fortunately I was able to cancel or reschedule my events… but a few break my heart. The knitting guild retreat on Sunday, where I was to teach color combining for real garments, and Rae’s birthday yesterday… well, I’m sad.

Today I have my brain back and I’m able to eat again. I’m not yet well, but a corner has been turned. For two days I could only get on the internet to see if I’d sold anything that had to be shipped out, and my emails had no more than a sentence or two. I couldn’t read or knit, so I sat still like a good girl and stared at the ceiling. Yes, me.

It was not small potatoes this time, though even this will not hang on that long. However, I think it’s important to notice good stuff, and the view out of the front window is clean and snow-covered and white. If you do not have to go out, this is lovely weather. I hope I can knit some wool today and make it a winter lay-on-the-couch-and-heal day.

And as another favorite saying goes, “This, too, shall pass.” I should feel better next week and I’ll lay low this weekend. It’s sort of required.

I am repeating a snow photo from January today, please forgive. It looks like this today, only more. Much more snow.


Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

raepensive.jpgIt snowed and snowed today. Dance rehearsal was cancelled, something that almost never happens. It just stayed white all day.

I am sick (flu, ugh) but if I must be ill, might as well do it on a day when getting around would have been a hassle. I spent the day on the couch watching snow come down.

Tomorrow is my friend Rae’s 25th birthday. I wish I felt better, I’d get over to her shop and be part of celebrating. It’s convenient that her day is on the night when the shop is open late. I tell you, though, I won’t be leaving this couch.

Happy birthday, Rae!

Sick Again, Short Post

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Go figure. I was sick last Mon-Wed, and got well enough to dance Friday without feeling tired at all. Totally normal. Now I’m sick again. I am really going to lay low this time, I have a lot scheduled this week and I am already cancelling one thing at a time.

I will not sit up and write, but I’ll show you photos of Friday’s dancing event. In the middle photo, we were dancing together, you can see a bit of my arm in the background.

It was a lot of fun.




Turkish Sock Photos, Aaaahhh….

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Some of you know that I teach Turkish-Inspired sock design. I have 4 pairs of socks which were purchased for me in Turkey by a Turkish family I befriended a number of years ago (and sadly have lost track of). Here is one of the socks:

I had written here about Turkish socks before I found this family, and when I got excited about his homeland (exclaiming how they have perhaps the most beautiful socks anywhere), he Googled about Turkish socks right there in front of me and found my writings.

At that point he offered to buy me some socks when he returned home for a vacation. I will ever be grateful, as it may be impossible for someone like me to get a pair without knowing the language. He had to ask around a lot to find the 4 pair.

Two of the pair they brought me I believe are museum-quality, and how this ordinary American got to have them I’ll never fully comprehend. I do not take them for granted.

I wrote an article plus three patterns for Dawn Brocco’s Heels & Toes Gazette (over 3 issues), based on some features I found in the socks. And more recently I’ve been teaching workshops based on the simplest of those three patterns (in yarn shops and also at Michigan Fiberfest and last April the Dallas-Ft. Worth Fiberfest). Photo of mini-socks above from Dallas students.

(Photo here is the third of three designs for Dawn. Pattern is still available in back issue #16 through her website.)

I wrote a long article here detailing the socks when I got them. I continue to mention Turkish socks on my blog occasionally, especially showing off the work of my students when I teach the workshop.

So now that we have Ravelry, I found a discussion group about Turkish knitting. I made friends with a Turkish knitting designer. We know very little language in common but we write anyway and it is a mutual-admiration society of sorts, just the two of us. Here is one of her blog posts, showing an amazing slipper she designed.

Then today, I got an email out of the blue. It was from a professor in Turkey, who teaches handicrafts and traditional arts at a University. The professor sent a few photographs and this link, to a website showing some exceptional, exciting socks.


I never would have found this by searching Google, as there is no English text on the page. I am overwhelmed, dumfounded, humbled and delighted.

The Internet is giving me chances to make friends with people I’ll maybe never meet. Who do not speak my language, but who speak the same visual language… color in wool. (Actually, there are amazing gloves on this page along with the socks.)

And I must say that perhaps the most wonderful thing of all, is knowing that these folks clearly understand my love and respect for their history and this artform.There is always a chance that someone would be unhappy for an outsider to be working in their own tradition. In this case it is clearly not true, well, at least for the three Turkish connections I’ve had thus far. Here is another one of the pairs I own:

Now I’m going to go back to that Turkish museum page and drink in every single photo, one at a time, until I feel I’ve soaked it all in. Sigh…

(Yes, I would love to teach your group. Yes, I travel.)