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Archive for April, 2008

Hearts for Isabel

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Last Wednesday my little friend Isabel turned 4 years old. She likes to sort things, such as my polymer clay buttons. She sorts by color, size, whether she can stack them or not.

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I knit her eight hearts, two each in different sized yarns. All different colors.

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Her first instinct after opening the package was to try to stack them. She did get 2 to stack but the 3rd did not work at all, and she went on without a hiccup to sorting by size.

This is what she came up with, at least at one point during her heart-exploration time. We had a lovely time together at the coffee shop.

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I adore this child with every cell in my body. She’s wonderful company, and she turns my sour attitude around (when I have one) in about a minute or less. What would I do without Isabel? She lights up my world. In fact, I sometimes call her “Sunshine” as a nickname. It suits her.

Yarns in last photo, from top to bottom (I don’t have dye lots or color numbers handy, please understand I was knitting from stash, sometimes leftover balls I had hanging around…

Malabrigo Merino Worsted
Nashua Creative Focus Worsted (Wool/Alpaca)
Magic Garden Buttons wool/polyester “effect”
Filatura di Crosa Zara washable wool
Lion Brand Magic Stripes (sportweight sockyarn, wool/nylon)
Kroy 4ply sock yarn, wool/nylon
Fortissima Socka (?) cotton blend
Noro Kureyon Sockyarn wool/nylon

The pattern is from Anna H at Mochimochiland, free pattern here.

Springtime Beauty

Monday, April 28th, 2008

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It’s beautiful here right now, though the temperatures have plummeted and we are having frost warnings for several days this week. The flowering trees are spectacular this spring, it seems every possible bloom has bloomed. Some years we get frost at just the wrong time, after buds have formed, and it’s just not this beautiful. I am drinking it all in.

I pass Mt. Hope Cemetery, a historical spot in Lansing, almost every day. The early important civic folks for Lansing are buried here, it seems every large stone has the name of someone whose name is also attached to a park somewhere. Ransom E. Olds (founder of Oldsmobile) is also interred there, his family mausoleum visible from the street.

I love taking photos there in the fall. This year I realized I wanted to photograph it again in full-flowering spring splendor. Here you can see both seasons, the same view from the other side of the road.

The year my cousin Karen got married in Houston in April, I was bowled over by the bold flowers and color there. I spent a long weekend drinking in the beauty. Then I returned to Lansing in mid-flowering-tree season. It took that trip to understand the kind of beauty Lansing displays in the spring. For all the bold in Houston, the balance was gentle, almost feminine beauty, covering the landscape. I’m glad to have that perspective.

(To be honest, this spring photo is about a week old and the trees are totally green now. I wish I had time to sneak over there again today and photograph it again, but that’s not how the schedule looks for now.)

Work and Dance

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I danced Friday and Sunday with the Habibi Dancers, for different events. Much fun but it does take time away from the desk. Saturday I taught polymer clay at Threadbear which was fun, Sunday I ended up with no students so I worked on a knitting project while at Rae’s. It was very busy there on account of the Black Sheep guild stopping in on the way home from their retreat.

I’ve been in this business long enough now to recognize folks not in my weekly routine. While the Black sheep people came around, Rita of Yarn Hollow/Grand Rapids area said hi and we chatted (above is a photo of Rita on the right, at Allegan/Michigan Fiber Festival last August). Then I talked with Linda who took a sock class from me at Heritage Spinning a long while ago with her mother. Here’s a photo of them together wearing their socks:

The pattern was originally called “Heritage Heirloom Socks” (for Heritage Spinning, the shop where I taught the class first… and for Heirloom yarn which was what the first prototype was knit up in). Now they are called Guitar Trim Socks because they match the Guitar Trim Hat I designed after the socks.

It was really warm Friday, the wind kicked up on Saturday and it was downright chilly Sunday. I did not see snow but the National Weather Service says rain/snow likely Monday and patchy frost through Wednesday. Ugh. I know there is always a chance of snow if it is still April, but ugh.

I’m doing some work for a friend, when I’m not falling asleep at the keyboard from exhaustion. It’s a good exhaustion, anyway. I’m grateful for work and dance and friends.

Monday I am having two music friends over for a simple soup lunch (Jen Sygit and Laura Bates) and that will be a lovely payback for the work I’m pushing to finish between classes and performances.

Polymer Clay Fun

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

foiltranslucentonturquoisebasebutton.jpgI tell you, nobody has a job as fun as mine can be some days. Today/Saturday I taught polymer clay canework (Jelly Rolls, Stripes, Bulls-eyes and Checkerboards), at Threadbear. It was a BLAST. It always is.

Tomorrow I am at Rae’s 11-1 for a mitten class. The weather has gone mean again, we are expecting “patchy frost” for 4 days in a row and I got out my earmuffs today (after 80F+ summer temps yesterday). Mittens are a decent topic for a little longer, I’m afraid.

translucentstudentbuttons.jpgNext Saturday (May 3) I teach my Polymer Translucents and Foils class at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan. The class is from 11a-3p. I am showing some photos here of buttons made with this technique. Some were made by me, some by my students. The technique can be very subtle where it looks almost like mother-of-pearl or obsidian, but it can be vibrant as well. Look at the variety here!

translucentbuttons.jpgI sure hope some of you can join me for some of my upcoming classes (baby set, needlefelted embellishments, mentioned in my earlier post here). I think you might just have a good time, too.

Sorry to those out of town… do remember that I travel to teach. Let your local shop or guild know if you would like to have me come to your area and teach you (and your friends). We will all have a great time, I’m sure of it!

Habibi Dancers’ 25th Anniversary Photos

Friday, April 25th, 2008

lynninthobe25.jpgI would love to write all sorts of information about the wonderful weekend I had (last week) with the Habibi Dancers (I am one, my stage name is Eudora). This one column will have to suffice, however… there is SO much to write about, and so much work to do away from the computer!

We had our 25th anniversary concert last Saturday. We also had workshops all day Saturday and all afternoon Sunday. And those of us in the show had a special event after the show, at New Aladdin’s restaurant. It was wonderful fun, and exhausting.

Here is me wearing a Khaliji dance dress called a Thobe. This is a dance from Saudi Arabia, a dance traditionally done at all-female parties, dancing together for entertainment. It was/is *not* performed on stage there, though here in the USA dance troupes do perform variations on the theme.

I think those all-girl parties sound like our Wednesday night rehearsals, only more! I absolutely loved doing this dance. The music is wonderful, the dresses are beautiful (see second photo of us on stage showing off the dresses… I am the dancer at far right), and the women in the dance with me were much fun.

I put together a Flickr photoset with about 90 photos of our weekend. (The images are high resolution at Flickr so they load slowly, but you can start a slideshow, walk away for a good while, then come back and view the slideshow the second time without a lot of delays. Or get a cup of tea and just wait…)

It’s Working… for now.

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

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We have spring, for the last several days (actually about a week). I hear it is supposed to snow on Sunday? Ugh. We can hope I heard wrong.

I do remember one April 25 where there were piles of snow still underneath any shady bush. It’s possible to get snow again. Let us hope it is not so extreme to get a ton of snow… it has been humid yesterday, and over 80F today. Sometimes when humid warmth is hit by super-cold air, we get piles and piles of snow.

forcythiaapril20-08.jpgRight now I’m typing this with bare feet and wearing a tank top, bare arms even. I typically get cold easily (I would be happier with a wrap or light sweater but I’m on my way to a cozy bed so I’m not layering anymore at this time). I love knowing it was over 80 today!!!

Photos? These forsythia bushes really look great this year. Some years the frost hits just wrong and they don’t bloom much at all. this year, every single yellow bush is totally covered. I love these when they are this happy! Notice how the trees around them have no green leaves at all.

These photos were taken about a week ago. Today we have so many leaves on the trees that there is shade on the street. Amazing. They took about 2 days from almost nonexistant to thriving. The change has been incredible to watch.

Student First Knitting Projects

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

I teach what we call “Knitting Study Hall” at Rae’s Yarn Boutique every Thursday late afternoon (4:45pm). This is a time where I work with knitters on whatever project they choose, for the most part. They commit to 4 weeks and can add more at the end if they need/choose to do so.

I often get beginner or near-beginner knitters, or perhaps those coming back to it after many years away from yarn and needles. It’s really satisfying for me, teaching these folks.

Sometimes we who are comfortable with knitting, assume that someone starting out must work with a simple project. We suggest scarves or dishcloths, for example. This works fine if the person in question is interested in such a project. However, for some folks they have a particular project in mind, one that is not considered a beginner project. For those people, a simple project just keeps them from the dream and sometimes diminishes their passion for knitting.

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I firmly believe that if you have a passion to make a particular thing and you are willing to make a good number of stitches, you should go after that goal. After all, if you can picture something finished in your mind, you can get there with a little guidance. I have seen relative beginners make amazing projects, be they lace (check out Sophia’s knitted corset) or ribbing or socks.

Right now I have two folks working with me who are making extra-ordinary beginner projects. Kate felt a real push to make a baby blanket, knowing full well how many stitches it would take to finish. Above is a photo of her project. Cool, huh?

And Paulette? Super cool… she wanted to make a hat for charity. She picked a pattern before I met her and it had garter fabric on the edge followed by ribbing and decreases. It started on circular needles and then when the number of stitches reduced, it switched to double-pointed needles. Look at her hat!!! Her first project (or so I believe, certainly her first in my class)! Soooo cool.

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What’s more, she had the goal when she came to me, that she wanted to knit socks. Of course, I was all for it.

So on her third week she started a sock project, using my First-Time Toe-Up Socks pattern. She finished the toe, the heel flap, the heel turn and picking up stitches to start the gusset (the little triangles on both sides of the foot under the ankle). Next week we decrease for the gusset and then she can finish her leg/cuff without me. Woohoo!

I took these photos last week. For some reason, I did not think to take any photos today. I did not get a shot of Paulette’s sock, nor did I get a photo of the absolutely gorgeous progress Mary is making on her (not beginner) BiggieZig ZigBag (which was my evening class, after the study hall). Rats!

Bosko and Honey YouTube Video

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Our ukulele-musician friends from Australia, Bosko and Honey, are on a long journey which started with Japan and now includes many states in the USA. They were here visiting us for two nights last week.

The four of us recorded “Row, Row, Row” in our living room on the second night they were here. They did a great job editing, and the video is up now for your listening/viewing enjoyment.

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Upcoming Classes

Monday, April 21st, 2008

This weekend was the Habibi Dancers‘ 25th Anniversary concert (and two days of dance workshops). It was a great time. You can imagine that the preparations for something that big distracted me a bit from the teaching part of my life. Now I’m diving back into my teaching realm.

On Saturday, April 26, I’m teaching polymer clay “Stripes, Jelly Rolls and Checkerboards” at Threadbear Fiberarts. (See buttons top left and bottom almost-left in photo.)

buttons200x200.jpgI’ve taught a buttons/beads class for years, which uses layering techniques (think thin woodgrain or ivory but in any colors you like) to make buttons that are easily wearable with handknits. I have also recently added a “Foils and Translucents” class which creates lovely pearlescent buttons which also are just great with handknitted garments.

In the polymer clay community, beads are the focus rather than buttons. Many of the beads are made with a millifiore technique, an ancient glassworking method which works best with sharp contrast, and which draws in the eye to analyze fine detail.

I have had the instinct that fancier buttons with this type of detail, might distract from a garment. However, I am reminded by students that detail is adorable in a child’s button and also great for beads.

I’ve had enough requests that I’m teaching my first millifiore (stripes, etc) polymer class ever at a yarn shop, at Threadbear (Lansing, Michigan) this Saturday from noon to 4pm. Call 517/703-9276 to register.

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If you want a project on which you might place your new buttons, I’ll be starting a baby set class at Rae’s on Thursday nights starting May 1. We’ll have one class, then a week off, then 3 more weeks in a row. We’re knitting the Wee One Welcome Set from Knitting at Knoon, which includes a sweater, hat and booties.

Rae’s sample version at the shop (see photo, shown with purchased buttons) is knit with one large (half-pound) skein of my Cushy ColorSport DK washable merino yarn, in the Seaside colorway. (She had enough yarn left over from the newborn size to knit a pair of tiny pants to go with it as well.) Last I looked Rae had 6 skeins of my yarn in stock (it’s limited in supply, I dye yarn when I’m not busy teaching). She has other DK weight washable yarns in stock as well.

To sign up for the baby set class, call Rae at 517/336-9276 or email info@raesyarnboutique.com

Next week (Friday May 2, 6-8pm) I teach Needlefelted Embellishments at Threadbear. This is a fun, no-sew method of adding color to a purse, hat or other item you own. It works well on felted or non-felted items. Wool works best as a base, but I’ve seen folks needlefelt on T-shirts and denim jackets, too. (On this photo, I used yarn “squiggles” on a purchased felted beret. Click above link to see Linda’s class project from last year.)

Saturday, May 3, I teach Polymer Clay Foils and Translucents at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan, from 11-3pm. (See pink button in first photo for one possible look.) Call Lindsay at 517/541-9323 to register.

Back to a “Routine”

Monday, April 21st, 2008

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Facing Reality

In my mind, I think I don’t do routine well. In fact, in some areas I have none. I get ready in the morning every day, but the things I do to get ready I switch around. I sometimes have breakfast first, sometimes get dressed first, sometimes prepare my class materials before any of the above.

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Because of this, on mornings with a very short getting-ready time I miss things that should be routine. I typically forget to wear earrings or a watch, or I’ll forget to take my vitamins or some other thing that theoretically should be automatic for me to do.

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Routine is My Friend

However, on a larger scale I have a weekly schedule or routine. I seem to have trouble when it gets disrupted.

Monday nights I teach computer classes at community education. Tuesdays during the day I’m home, typically doing computer/writing work (occasionally I have a class or guild meeting at night).

Wednesday I have CityKidz Knit! program followed by Habibi Dancers’ practice. Thursdays I’m at Rae’s. Fridays and Saturdays I teach random classes or work at home, and when we have music performances they often are Saturday nights. Sundays I teach at Rae’s.

Recovering from Schedule-Chaos

So far this year, I have not fallen into that routine. Since January things have been too intense to run on my familiar schedule. January we were coming out of holiday season and our friend Rev came to visit for three nights. February I was sick almost the whole month.

March, fortunately, was busy with the release of the ZigBagZ pattern collections and making up for lost class time… plus there were taxes to deal with. April we had Bosko and Honey as guests for two nights, and I performed in (and therefore rehearsed heavily for) the Habibi Dancers‘ 25th anniversary dance concert.

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Whew! Whirlwind! I’m looking forward to some change. Change in favor of routine, regardless of what I have previously thought worked for me.

Big Plans

I’m hoping to schedule some new classes and new musical performances for the next few months. If anyone out there reading this wants a particular class, do let me know and I’ll do what I can to schedule it, hopefully at a time that works for you and a handful of others. I can’t always do what you want, but I will see if I can work it out.

I have some promises to make good on, a list of four tasks (two of which have been waiting for months) for other folks who can’t do these things for themselves. After that, I’ll be free to focus even more on my business.

There are some patterns I need to finish up, and I am hoping to get some dyeing done in May. Therefore, I want to get these to-do tasks out of the way soon.

Thank You

On another topic, thanks to everyone who is sending me photos and other content for this blog. I’m drowning in wonderful photographs, which have been coming in at a rapid rate as I’ve been distracted elsewhere. I hope I can post a good portion of the photos coming my way.

The photos today I took a week ago, the first signs of spring, growing things in my own yard. The daffodil is a tiny variety that comes in early, and now the bigger ones are following suit. Also shown here are my beloved violets (others call them weeds but they may be my favorite spring flowers), and a few myrtle/periwinkle blossoms. It’s actually truly looking springlike today, there were even golfers on the course at MSU!

My Spring Idea

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

I wanted to knit spring into existence. I thought I’d use some spring green handpainted sockyarn, maybe along with some turquoise handdyed sockyarn. I made the yarns into balls. I did not even cast on.

I did choose some spring green Nashua Creative Focus Worsted (wool/alpaca, really soft and warm but not very springlike other than color). I started a hat. Today I ripped out all but about 12 rounds. I’m OK with that, but maybe I just needed to not do wooly, warm stuff while talking spring.

springyarnsmohair.jpgThen last week I taught at Threadbear and they had turquoise/aqua mohair yarn on a huge clearance price. I got enough to replace my wearing-thin favorite-of-all turquoise mohair sweater. I don’t know when I’ll knit a sweater when I don’t write patterns for sweaters, but if I can get started there will be a lot of knitting just around and around and around in circles. At least the color is very springlike. And I do wear mohair in spring and fall, as well as winter. (Do I sound convincing yet?)

I also picked up 2 balls of washable merino (about DK weight) to make some socks for me. Whenever that happens. Meanwhile the colors can speak spring to me.

Mary’s ZigBag is coming right along!

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

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Mary is taking my ZigBagZ Maxi Collection class at Rae’s Yarn Boutique right now. I took this photo of her bag a week ago (my, how time flies). This is the base of her “Biggie Zig” which is a sort of large purse carry-all. It’s bigger now, because it will be shrunk on purpose when she is done knitting.

She is thrilled with the colors she picked. I think they are dead-on perfect for her. (This is proof that you can make ColorJoy patterns with *your* colors and they can be absolutely ColorJoy for *you*.)

I am looking forward to the next time we meet (in a few weeks, I think) when I can see the sides of the bag, zigzagged in 4 yarns (the base used only 2 yarns).

Go, Mary!

Sriyana’s Spring is fully in Existence!

Friday, April 18th, 2008

springsriyana1hen.jpgSriyana is on my ColorJoy! Ravelry discussion group (please join us, you will need to join the free Ravelry site first). I’ve mentioned her tapestry-crocheted mandalas here before. This time she has been crocheting spring into existence, and it appears to have worked, at least in her part of the world.

She participated in an art show where the theme was chickens (I can not help but wonder what the show as a whole looked like), and made this piece with a hen and wonderful textured leaves. I’m not good at crochet, but those leaves make me want to learn more, and fast!

She lives near Asheville, North Carolina. This is a wonderful community on a mountain, where they get a lot of sun. It doesn’t get too hot or too cold, and it almost always avoids the cloudcover we see here in Michigan so much of the winter. My brother nearly moved there not too long ago. I’m glad he is closer to me right now, but I know he would have loved it there, had he made the move.

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So… spring has arrived in the mountains. I am very happy she has chosen to share her photos with us. Thanks, Sriyana!

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Habibi Dancers’ 25th Anniversary Show

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

This Saturday, the Habibi Dancers (I am one) will be presenting their 25th anniversary concert at Hannah Community Center in East Lansing, Michigan. The City Pulse newspaper (I *love* these folks) put a relatively long article in their paper this week about the show.

They also included a photo of us in rehearsal for the show. I’m front/left, wearing green (though I’ll be wearing hot pink for the concert itself).