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Archive for April, 2008

Bosko & Honey Ukulele Safari in Lansing, MI

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

bosko and honey plus The Fabulous HeftonesWe first heard of Bosko and Honey (the ukulele act from Australia) on YouTube. Then last year in April we met them in person, at the New York Ukefest (we performed Friday, they were on Saturday). We really enjoyed talking with them but with all the distraction of a ukefest and conflicting travel arrangements, we did not get enough time to get to know them as we would have liked.

Luckily for us, they are on their way through the USA again. Tonight and tomorrow night they are staying with us. We have had much good food (Mama Bears and Altu’s) , some exploration (Old Town and East Lansing, and the weather has been wonderful for that), and a good deal of music making. Tomorrow we hope for more of the same.

The photo was taken last year at NYUkefest. I really love this video of their NY Farewell in the subway station. Wonderful.

Melissa’s Contribution to Spring Thoughts

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Melissa lives in Australia. She is on my Ravelry ColorJoy discussion group and participates often. She wanted to participate in my “Knit Spring into Existence” project, except she is in the first bit of autumn where she lives.

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Here is what she says:

When you suggested Knitting Spring into Existence, I wondered whether I might generate bad juju by joining your project, as here in Australia, Autumn clothes are appearing in stores. I never hesitate to march to a different drummer, but I also do my best to avoid contributing to undesirable climate change!

I settled on a rationalisation. I would knit (my first ever) baby booties as a symbol of new beginnings that can occur anytime in the year.

These booties are knit from yarn Melissa hand spun, and a guild friend hand dyed.

And now the coolest thing? The pattern for these booties came from a book which was written by Melanie Falick and Kristin Nicholas. (This pair wrote the incredible Kids Knitting book I mentioned yesterday.)

Yes, the same Kristin Nicholas who gave a speech on color in Detroit yesterday/Monday. (Boo hoo. I missed it.) You see, we’re all in it together, if you are a knitter. It seems we are all related somehow.

Diana’s Spring Forward

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

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Diana/Otterwise chose this beautiful yarn to Knit Spring into Existence. She has has some challenges this spring to say it kindly, thus the shawl she started had to be frogged (rip-it, rip-it). However, she says:

I didn’t finish this shawl, it got frogged when I totally screwed it up due to brain fog. But I did knit toward spring with it.

I’ve also attached a springy photo of tree buds from up north in Gaylord.

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And can’t we all benefit from some hopeful, optimistic flower buds???

Note added later: Diana reminds me that the yarn is one I dyed (I had forgotten I’d done sockyarn in this colorway). It is TipToe Sockyarn in colorway “Spring Sunshine.” No wonder she chose it for this project!

Leeann’s First Sock/Spring

Monday, April 14th, 2008

leeannspringsocks08.jpgLeeann sent me a photo of her springlike yarn for my “Knit Spring into Existence” project, and I posted that photo on March 30. Here she shows that she did dive in and start her first handknitted socks. She reports that it’s so much fun she doesn’t want to knit any of her other projects.

I say that you can not buy passion, and that sort of enthusiasm for knitting anything must be embraced. That’s what I say, anyway.

Knit on, Leeann!

In the News

Monday, April 14th, 2008

garnetsmallduluth.jpgGarnett Kepler (stage name Yasmina Amal) is in the State News (Michigan State Univ. student paper) today for her work at the World Languages Day at MSU. She taught a session called “Walk like an Egyptian” which included both dance and cultural awareness.

Garnett is my dance teacher and the Director of Habibi Dancers. The article is here.

Photo is the best one of Garnett I’ve ever taken; Minnesota, May 2005.

Kristin Nicholas Speaks in Detroit Tonight

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I have talked of Kristin Nicholas here before. She loves color perhaps more than I do. She is a knitter, and author of knitting books, embroidery books, books for kids to knit and crochet. She writes a wonderful blog, called Getting Stitched on the Farm.

She has illustrated a number of knitting books (my favorite of her illustration projects may be Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick, which is also an excellent starter book for adult knitters). When I need inspiration, I pull out Kristin Knits or Colorful Stitchery.

Kristin is in the Motor City this week to film the PBS show “Knit and Crochet Today.” She will be busy in the recording studio all week, but one night she is sneaking out to meet the fine knitters of southeastern Michigan.

Tonight, Monday April 14, she is presenting her talk about color. Here are the details from her website:

The Joy of Color Slide Presentation
City Knitting, Fisher Bldg. Detroit, MI
5:30 to 7:30
313.872.9665
www.cityknits.com

I can not tell you how sad I am that I can not go. It is not a long drive for me (Kristin lives many states east of here). However, I have to teach my last class of the term for Community Ed (it’s a makeup class because I didn’t teach when I was sick with the flu). I can not cancel or reschedule, because the new term starts next Monday. Sigh.

If you can get there, by all means do. Enjoy it for me!

Stephanie Creates a Great Party

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I went to Ann Arbor on Friday with several hundred other knitters (and a few non-knitters) to hear Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Yarn Harlot) speak. It was a promotional event for her new book, Things I learned from Knitting …whether I wanted to or not.” I am very happy I went.

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Every time Stephanie appears, a gathering happens where knitters convene and celebrate what they have in common. As she points out, many of us would not hang out or even get along if it were not for our yarn and needles, and the love of creating knitted items.

Some of us knit sweaters, some socks, some both. Our politics and religions are varied, our backgrounds, income level, anything you might want to use to define us, can not be defined.

I remember the days when she was “Stephanie Pearl (not Purl)” on the Knitlist. We occasionally wrote private emails to one another. I started my blog in November 2002… since I archive all personal email (yes, I’m obsessed but sometimes it is quite handy to go back in archives) I see a note Stephanie wrote to me on April 3, 2003. When I look at the Yarn Harlot blog page, the earliest archive is January 2004.

So it was early blogosphere time, and email discussion lists were how knitters met/found one another. She would write funny posts to the email list, rather than on her blog or in a book. Her posts were always a highlight of the list for me.

These days if we write, it tends to be a quick comment on the other person’s blog. She’s so busy with sometimes 300+ comments a day, that I’m sure correspondence takes up a huge amount of her time these days.

Now she’s promoting her 5th book. She is doing what outsiders think is impossible… making a living writing humorous books about being a knitter. She’s very funny to insiders, and confusing to those who have chosen to remain outside the knitting realm.

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Whether you knit or not, whether her comments make sense to you or not (they do if you knit), she is authentic Stephanie. She’s real, she laughs at her human foibles.

Humans passionate over any activity (knitting, fishing, cooking, running…) will exhibit behaviors that are a bit confusing to those not similarly passionate. And these unique things can bring a chuckle without the need to feel “less than.” It’s just the product of intense immersion in an activity that brings much pleasure. In this culture sometimes we insult ourselves in order to present ourselves as humble. Stephanie avoids the insult and the postured humbleness.

Sometimes I contemplate how this very human and very approachable person has become sort of a superstar, at least in the knitting world. Let’s face it most authors can’t turn out the 750 or so listeners she had at her book launch for the last book, in New York City. She turns out hundreds of knitters at every one of her talks/book-signing events.

Superstars are sometimes worshiped rather than admired. But I think Stephanie’s real appeal is her humanness.

She admits when she’s not happy with her kids. She admits when she needs to focus on a writing deadline and all she wants to do is cast on for a new pair of socks. She admits she knit long past the point where she knew it was not working out, and admits when she has to rip out the work she did while knowing full well she would need to rip.

So many people in the public eye cover up their weaknesses. Stephanie writes books about hers, without losing her dignity in the least.

We had such a good time! I met some folks from City Knitting in Grand Rapids, (I’ve already met a few others from this reaaally great store in East Town). I am embarrassed I am going blank on their names right now, I should have taken a notepad. One of them said she had knit my Fast Florida Footies pattern, which of course made me feel good.

I met a few young women waiting in line, one from Canton and one from Dexter (I think I got that right) who were in the (second) photo above I tried to take without being noticed… see them laughing in the photo? I am not good at hiding, not at all.

Almost everyone was knitting while waiting in line. The 5th grader in that photo said she was not a knitter (and those around her were teaching her to say “not yet”). I told her I learned to knit in 5th grade.

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The first photo here in the post is a crowd of folks from the Lansing area with Stephanie. This way photo-taking took less time, she could get on with signing another several hundred books for those willing to wait in line.

The last photo is the rainbow that followed us for about 30 minutes on the commute to Ann Arbor. Rae was driving (yippee) so I had time to take dozens of shots trying to capture the colors. We could see it from bottom right to bottom left, the whole arc, much of the time (and every color down to violet was easily visible to the eye, though not obvious in the photo). Gorgeous.

Stephanie, thanks for the great party! “The Knitters” had a great time, thanks to you.

Flowers in April

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

This spring thing comes and goes, but we have not had snow for several weeks. As I type this, the temperature is just barely above freezing. A few days ago, we had an incredible summery few hours followed by wind and rain.

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My days are incredibly full this week and next, I may give you more photos than text during that time. Off to teach Guitar-Trim Socks at Rae’s! If I’m lucky I’ll have time to go to Threadbear after work, to see Jillian Moreno and Amy Singer (Knitty) launch their 2nd Big Girl Knits book. I hope.

It’s Working

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Spring is here, for a few hours. The temp outside is over the mark where Brian keeps the thermostat all winter. Sun is shining, flowers blooming, This ColorJoyLynn is happy and even spent a few minutes in the hammock.

However, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Yarn Harlot) is coming to Ann Arbor tonight, speaking at 7pm. If anyone remembers, she had awful weather last time she came, her flight from Chicago got to Detroit and sent back to Chicago because of storms. (It turned out fine, knitters love to wait and knit, though of course she worried like crazy until she got there.)

So she’s bringing the weather with her again, it seems. We are expecting tornado watches between Lansing and Ann Arbor. I’m hoping she got an early flight. It was perfect here, and then at 2:26pm the wind started gusting and the clouds rolled in.

Rae and I are going straight to Ann Arbor when she closes the shop one hour early at 5pm. Rachael and Sharon (who also work for Rae) are going to be there when we get there. We’re meeting Riin and hoping to go out to dinner after the event. I hope that wherever we go, is not where the other hundreds of knitters go. This knitter wants dinner, not a line with a two-hour wait. However, waits are more pleasant with friends and a sock to knit!

Photos after Ann Arbor. Hugs!!!

Knitting Spring into Existence: Scarlet-Zebra

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Deb of Scarlet-Zebra has taken on the Knitting-spring-into-existence project, too. She is knitting some socks in a tulip colorway (zillions of colors in one skein) and she also is painting her house and painting on silk. You might want to see her photos: check out this entry on Scarlet-Zebra’s blog.

I have known Deb for several years. We met on the internet, I think the Socknitters email list, but we’ve hung out a zillion hours, had uncountable four-hour lunches (halfway between her house and mine, we both drive about an hour), and met at places like Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Ann Arbor Art Fair, and Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing.

We had a point where our lives changed and we did not connect enough… but now with her blog, we are reconnected once more. I am really happy about that.

Deb loves color at least as much as I do. She knit these kissing-cousin sock pairs, as a matter of fact (five years ago… amazing how time flies). The pattern is my BarberPole socks. Yarn is Cascade Fixation (DK weight cotton/lycra). But the choice, combination, and the knitting were all Scarlet-Zebra!

Um, I think maybe she was knitting spring into existence when she knit these, as well. Actually, I posted the photos originally on my blog, January 30, 2003. That is a bit early for thinking spring, but the colors surely go with the theme quite well!

Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Chicago is a very liveable city. I’ve known a good number of folks who lived there over the last 15 years or so. Although getting around any city of this size is a bigger challenge than where I live, my acquaintances seemed to have enough living space and reasonable access to work and recreation… even without a car (which is quite possible in Chicago and very challenging in Lansing).

I nearly bought a roomy 4th floor one-bedroom 1960’s (apartment) condo in 1992, a good bit north of downtown (Sheridan Avenue near where Lakeshore Drive ends). It had a view of Lake Michigan, with just a park between the building and the water. I ended up buying a 2-bedroom 1920’s bungalow with attic studio and a shared driveway in Lansing, for a few thousand less. That is one of my “what if” questions, those I will never have an answer for… what if I had bought that condo and moved to Chicago? I would not have met Brian, and that is a satisfying answer enough. However, I have a feeling if I had moved, I would not have looked back.

Much of the watefront is made into citizen-accessible parks and trails for walking, bicicyling, skateboarding, rollerblading and other such fun. There is much activity, both planned by the Parks department and private folks (alone or in groups).

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We almost always choose to enter and exit the Chicago area via Lakeshore Drive, even when it might take longer to do so. The views are wonderful, whether you look at the peacefulness of the water/parks to the east or the excitement of the skyline to the west.

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Most of the trips I’ve taken to Chicago, I drove myself. It’s a bit hard to take photos that way, so I took advantage of my passenger status this time and take a lot of photos. I put together a “Lakeshore Drive” photoset on Flicker if you want a few more photos.

Neon Signs in Chicago

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

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I love old neon signs. We wandered all around Chicago, mostly between downtown and the very far north. I don’t know where most of these signs were found, except that the fish sign was in Andersonville which historically was a Swedish community.

Wherever they were found, whatever their condition, lit or not… they make me smile.

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Some Animals in Chicago

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

We spent a lot of time this Sunday/Monday trip to Chicago, walking and exploring different neighborhoods in the city. We had never done that except for going to Devon (where Indian food, groceries and clothing make me very happy).

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As we proceeded between destinations, we saw a few animals. The first two photos here we saw walking down a residential street in Lincoln Park (if I remember right). The cat in the window was first, the dog was literally next door. They were just sitting there looking out the window as though watching television or something.

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But the last photos here were out of the blue… we were in the car and pulled over into a side street to check the map. As Brian was figuring out where to go next, I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye, and saw it was a squirrel. Then I noticed a reddish-orange colored item he was carrying. After a little looking it became apparent that this was some sort of food package. I figured he was trying to get the residual food from a wrapper.

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Wrong. He was unwrapping… a chocolate bar. Really. I saw the wrapper fly away and there he was, chomping away at his chocolate.

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What are the chances I would ever see this, in any place, under any circumstances? Crazy!

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A Chicago ‘L’ Ride

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The last several hours we were in Chicago, we decided to stick around and wait to drive out until the rush hour had mostly passed. Since Brian is fond of maps and likes to look at how things (roads, bridges, other transit) fit together, we decided to ride the elevated train that the City of Chicago calls the ‘L.’ (Some folks spell this “el” but the City uses the stylized ‘L’ in its literature.) A ride on the ‘L’ is a little bit like a walk through a 3-D map, and a lot like being a fly on the wall, peeking and listening without being noticed.

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An elevated train is a wonderful perch, literally up in the tops of the tallest trees, from which to see the lay of the land. You can see the back sides of businesses, back yards, junk areas not visible from the street. You can also see spectacular vistas, peeking down a busy street or viewing an important downtown landmark from a distance.

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We were amazed at how close the train goes to some of the buildings. It looked in places as though there was a clearance of less than two feet. Considering that an elevated train makes a *lot* more noise than a subway, and goes by much more often than other types of trains, it must be a significant disturbance to normal living (you have to stop talking when the ‘L’ passes by) to live there. However, the real estate surely would be more affordable for places that close to a high-noise source, and that might be a welcome tradeoff in a high-priced city real estate market.

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I have uploaded 72 photos (yeah, really… and I deleted all the blurry ones) of the ride, to my Flickr account as a set. I only added comments to the last photo, noting that it was taken after we had exited the train and walked several blocks north from the station. All other photos were taken starting on the Brown line (north) starting at the Western stop, and on the way to the loop/downtown. My camera ran out of storage space just about when we hit the loop, so I took no photos on the way back up.

Since there are no comments on the photos, you will lose no information if you run the photo set as a slideshow. You can imagine *you* are on that train looking out the window as I was just Monday.