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Archive for May, 2008

Happy Birthday, Brian

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

My beloved husband, Brian, has his birthday today. Both of us had work to do during the day, but we connected at Altu’s restaurant for dinner. Our friend Mike Ross (from Scarlet Runner Stringband) was the musical performer of the evening, and Brian sat in with Mike on a handful of numbers.

A bunch of musical friends were at the restaurant. Also some neighbors and their kids and inlaws were also there. It felt sort of “family night” because I think I knew someone at every table.

I got Brian a piece of Cherry Berry Berry pie from Sweetielicious pie company in Dewitt (Mich.) today. I also admitted a simple-to-predict defeat… so instead of Brian getting handknit socks (the yarn for which I bought over a month ago, but which have not even been cast on), I bought him a couple of pairs of Smartwool short socks. I hope he will enjoy wearing these while bike riding this summer.

What can I say… Brian and I met about a dozen years ago. We’ve been married 11 years. Nothing is “perfect,” I guess, but excellence exists and the life we have together is definitely excellent. Simple, but authentic. I can not imagine a better partner for me.

May you have many, many more, my love…

(Photo was taken at the Creole Gallery in Old Town Lansing, Michigan, July 2006, when we opened for the Steppin’ in It show.)

Five Easy Questions/Answers

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I think I met ChelleC because of my blog. We’ve been online friends so long, it seems impossible that we have not met yet. I am still holding on to hope that a yarn shop in Kansas City hires me to go down there and teach a weekend’s worth of workshops, so that I can hang out with Chelle between classes. It is not out of the realm of possibility… I taught in Texas in 2007, and Kansas City is a lot closer than that.

Chelle just tagged me for a “five easy answers” meme. If anyone out there wants to play after me, please take it and run. I usually enjoy playing these but I hate to have expectations of a friend that he/she would enjoy it as well.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? I was a newlywed (to beloved Brian). I was working almost full time (on call, as they needed me) as a Microsoft Office computer instructor. I was driving to a different city each day to teach people I’d never see again, for seven hours. Intense. (Loved the travel, didn’t love the early hours and the cramming to learn new programs.) I was preparing to quit that job and become a Y2K consultant. I had not yet learned that I could knit my own socks, so my creative outlets were polymer clay and soft-block printing/ eraser-carving/ mail art. (Image is two block prints of Tango dancers I made from plastic erasers, carved with woodcarving v-cutting tools, probably 1998.)

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today? Send Fabulous Heftones CD to DJ who requested it, mail out patterns to 3 online customers, lug equipment to community center so that I can teach kids to dye wool yarn with Kool-Aid, deliver sock samples to Rae’s yarn shop (she had them last week and I accidentally walked off with them), check in with my test knitters and make any corrections they suggest to my current sock-pattern document.

3. Snacks I enjoy: Tapioca pudding made with brown sugar and soy milk, dark chocolate with mint, hot English Breakfast tea (straight up, nothing in it but tea leaves), Stonyfield Farms organic vanilla ice cream, with American Spoon Foods strawberry preserves on it. Half a grapefruit, maybe with a tiny bit of dark brown sugar on top. Or a baked sweet potato, with butter and maybe a tiny bit of blackstrap molasses. Actually, there is nothing like a cup of hot black tea. (Photo is tea in Addis, Ababa, Ethiopia, at my friend Altu’s mother’s home… holiday season 2004/2005.)

4. Places I’ve lived: Born in Golden Valley (perfect name for a color fanatic) which is near Minneapolis, Minnesota. At age 2, moved to Boston for 1 year. At 3, moved to Okemos, Michigan (east of East Lansing/Michigan State University where dad was professor). College 2.5 years from 1976-1978 in Mount Pleasant, Michigan (which has no mountain, it’s dead flat), only 80 miles north of Lansing. Back to the Lansing area, lived in Williamston (east a little further, but still mostly a farming community when I moved there) for 12 years. After a divorce, moved to downtown Lansing, and have stayed inside the city limits ever since, never looked back. Sounds boring, sometimes is… but this is a friendly town and the creative folks all seem to know one another without it being too snoopy. I really love big cities like Chicago, New York, Boston and Toronto, but I visit them often and that makes it so that Lansing can stay my comfy home base.

Where would I LIKE to live? I want to live in another country before I die, ideally for 6 months to 2 years. (I would settle for 2 weeks, to be honest, but this asks what I would LIKE.) I was planning a move to Chicago at one time early after my divorce. I was planning a move to the country of Mexico when I met Brian and changed all plans. I love the language of Spanish, I can pronounce it very well but know only maybe 400 words. Would love to live somewhere I could learn it better. But I’d take Australia, London, anywhere in Italy, even close-by Toronto or Montreal. If at all possible, I’d love to live in a city full of skyscrapers and public transit/subway system. Nothing like a multicultural big city!

5. Things I’d do if I were a billionaire: Not sure. I am not sure I can think that big right now, and I truly love the life I’m living already.

I’d definitely move to another country if money were no object, but probably not permanently. I’d get a house back on the East Side of Lansing (love Groesbeck neighborhood, its nice but modest), but not a big or fancy one… one with some architectural interest and a two-lane driveway (which is one of the luxuries we have at our current house) and maybe one fruit tree. I’d take drawing lessons, and Spanish lessons, and bass lessons. I’d get an old VW minibus and make it like new, so we could take it to the music festivals and not get rained on.

I’d buy a whole wardrobe made of Wool Jersey (tee shirt fabric, super thin nonscratchy, stretchy wool), from tank tops to turtlenecks to leggings to jackets and skirts. Or assuming I had time, maybe I’d sew up those things myself.

I surely would contribute to some charity causes but it would require deep consideration before choosing which ones. I love Doctors without Borders, and our local Eve’s House (support/shelter for women in abusive relationships, they really helped a friend exactly when/how she needed it). I’d contribute to the local Red Cross fund which helps people when they can’t afford an expensive prescription… since they helped me twice when I was without insurance. Probably I’d work with those micro-loans for self-employed businesspeople all over the world where they pay back and then you loan it again to someone else.

And last but perhaps most important? I’d buy a certain couple a house that was wheelchair-accessible. Oh, yes, I would.

Chippy Socks Update: Ewe-kniss, Diana & Mary

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Ewe-kniss has posted about her set of six Chippy Socks for Kids today. She has been such a support to me, always interested in this design since I started with the idea over a year ago.

I love how her colorway worked out… more soft, and more boyish than other colorways I’ve tried since I started with this design. Hers are a silvery gray, a medium-to-soft turquoise and purple. Very fun and nice. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Rialto, a DK-weight washable merino, very soft. She says she’ll make a pair for her daughter from this same yarn (different colors), when the samples are done.

Diana also wrote to say that she sent out her six sample Chippy Socks in the mail today. Typically that would mean I get them tomorrow/Saturday, so I will plan to photograph them for you as soon as I can. Chippy Socks in Worsted-weight yarn

Diana’s socks are in a very different yarn from Ewe-kniss’: Cascade Fixation cotton/lycra yarn. Same gauge, a DK weight knit at 6.25 stitches per inch for socks. These are brighter, more my style… hot pink, yellow, and turquoise. Sort of primary colors but more ColorJoy.

I am eager to see Diana’s socks. Maybe I can stand at the post office at 8:30am, the time when they promise the day’s mail has arrived?

Not likely, but I will pop in to see my Post Office Box after I go north to DeWitt and then go on Tourist in Your Own Town. (Saturday 10-5 they are opening up the Board of Water and Light building at Cedar and Michigan in downtown Lansing, to show the FDR-era murals painted in there… first time open to the public since 9/11, I’m hyped, I’ve never seen them.)

Mary is either done or nearly so… she is working in pastels. If I remember right, she has a soft greenish-teal, a soft purple and either a mauve or a silvery-gray. Her yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (mmmm).

I had wanted to do a fourth test knit in Louisa Harding Kashmir DK. I ran out of time, knitters and cash for sample yarn by the time I got to that idea, but I may do it on my own when I get a little more wiggle-space in my schedule. I love that yarn deeply, it machine wash/dries perfectly without pills for just about forever, and wears like iron if you like socks that are a little thicker than normal socks (we’re talking socks for me this time, the Kashmir is wonderful in both the DK weight and Aran weight).

All three knitters provided excellent input. Not only did they all find the spot where I said “Knit” when I meant “Purl” (whoops) but I even got some good input on rearranging the content of the pattern so it would flow better for a knitter. Let’s face it, when I design, I am working on one bit at a time and I can sometimes benefit from fresh eyes as far as how things might best be laid out.

I am really excited about my Chippy Socks design. If you see the ad on Ravelry from June 1-15, I’d love to hear about it.

I’m getting excited. I think this pattern will be out perhaps within a few days. Send good vibes if you would.

(The photo here is a pair of Chippy Socks that Diana knit over a year ago… using worsted-weight Cascade 220 washable yarn. These do not fit the current specifications of the pattern but I do really love the colors. These went to Isabel the other day with the 6 smaller magenta/turquoise/purple socks. For the record, Diana’s husband Eric, my brother, decided he wanted some Chippy socks after seeing these. Diana made him a pair out of this yarn. The pattern does not go up to adult sizes, so Eric is the only grown-up kid with a pair of these at this time!)

June 6: Knit So Fine (book) Blog Tour Here!

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

cover.jpgI am very excited to announce that I will be part of a blog tour for the book entitled Knit So Fine, by Lisa Myers, Carol Sulcoski, and Laura Grutzeck. On June 6, I will be “talking” with Carol on June 6 about some of the ideas behind this book, a yarn used in the book, and the project which uses that yarn. It’s also about color, a very good thing!

The first time I heard about this book (whose subtitle is “Designs with Skinny Yarn”), I thought it was about laceweight yarns. I imagined maybe it would also include some fingering/sockweight yarns.

Now I understand that they had a focus of DK-weight (5.5 stitches/inch for sweaters) or smaller yarns. In the UK (and I think Australia), DK is the standard weight for handknit sweaters. In the USA, we go up a size to “worsted” weight for a standard, which knits at 5 stitches/inch.

I am a socknitter for the most part. I am also a color-artist. Smaller yarns often give me more options for bringing color into my projects. Socknitters usually use “fingering weight” (for gloves/socks) yarns, also called sockyarn.

I happen to like “fat socks” (especially in winter). I have found that DK-weight yarn fits in my shoes and Brian’s shoes but is squishier and warmer. Most socknitters consider these socks to be unacceptably thick. DK-weight yarn is “fat” yarn to a socknitter! So I was not sure this book was for me, at first glance. I was quite wrong.

I love drapier knits. I love sockyarns. I’ve learned that if I hold two strands of sockyarn together, I get a DK gauge but with a much nicer drape; a flatter, more flexible fabric than I would get if I knit with one strand of a DK-weight yarn. I like both fabrics, but when you hold two strands together, you not only get a wonderful fabric… you can play with color!

Holding two colors next to one another creates a visual/textural pattern that is interesting without a lot of fuss. And holding two handpainted (often multicolored) yarns in the same colorway together, can often break up the “pooling” of colors that many of us do not like in some of these artisan yarns.

I look forward to June 6th’s discussion with Carol. The blog tour, however, is bigger than just my part. It starts June 2 and ends on June 15. You can get more information about the tour and the book on Carol’s blog, Go Knit in Your Hat, her May 19th entry.

Fun times ahead; stay tuned!

“These are my favorite!!!”

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008


Today I sent six “matching” Chippy Socks to Isabel, my friend April’s daughter. I also sent two slightly-larger socks in a different colorway since I know she will outgrow the first ones fairly soon. (These were the prototype socks, knit in yarns that do not match the official gauge of the pattern that will be released in the next few weeks.)

I was not able to see her myself, it has been over a week and I won’t see her now until next Wednesday. It seemed I should dive in and send them to her quickly, as she keeps growing like a weed. April says the six socks might fit her for another month or two, and I said to jump, wear them often, and enjoy them as long as possible.

So April walked down to get Isabel from the sitter’s. She told Isabel that I’d sent a gift. They walked back and had other things to talk about. Then Isabel saw the socks in Mommy’s bag on the floor.

She squealed: “Oh, these are my favorite!!!”

I am in love. That child can tie me in knots and I eat it up.


See what I mean? How could I not love that smiling face?

One day I took her to “coffee” and she played with my polymer clay buttons and double-pointed socknitting needles (and a few tiny commercial flower-shaped buttons, a gift from Rae), and made this wonderful blooming-flower-button assemblage. Look at that wonderful smile.

ravchippyfeature.jpgMind you, I designed these socks because of this child. She loves socks and shoes and boots. She sometimes insists on wearing them while sleeping, she just can not let go of her favorites at times. I figured if she had six almost the same, April could switch them out and Isabel could still be happy. Or that’s the theory, anyway.

So today she had to try on each sock one at a time, deciding with forethought about which would be the next to try on. And April called me on the phone while this was taking place. I could hear in the background: “They are SO soft!” (The yarn for the set of six is 100% washable merino wool, like soft springs… I agree wholeheartedly.)

chippysocksturquoiseforweb.jpgI have an advertisement for these socks going up on Ravelry’s pattern page from June 1 to June 15. Please, those of you who frequent Ravelry, keep an eye out for it if you would. They just approved my ad, and this is what it looks like (above right).

Sigh…. sometimes I get things right.

Whirlwind Speed

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Can you hear the whirring of my wheels???
I have been running around so fast lately that no maintenance had been accomplished at home. I worked Fri/Sat/Sun of the holiday (though I did go to gatherings for a few hours Sat. and Sun.). Monday was a day with Brian.

We did some “parallel play” (like contented toddlers) where he rode his bicycle and I rode mine, but not on the same roads. (I had not been on my bike at all last year, I just felt low-energy and it did not sound fun; I need to build up to this again slowly.) When we were not riding bicycles, we came together to work in the garden a bit. (Photo of my bike from a few years ago.)

Digging and Dreaming

A yard can never be finished, so I do not even start to try… I make a point to pull out seedling trees anytime I see them, because I remember digging one out that had missed my eye years ago. I had to dig down a foot before I got the real root out, it was a terrible day. And I was young, then, too!

I also pull out goldenrod somewhat obsessively. Brian is the one who digs out dandelions, but even for a small yard such as ours there is no winning that battle. He gives it a valiant try at times, however.

This weekend we moved some plants that were unhappy, pruned back some others drastically, and took out one “weed” tree that had grown taller than me… we both thought the other was fond of that one (it is a different tree than we usually see coming up wild).

I planted Morning Glory seeds a few days ago. Then today Brian dug out a little semi-circle around our mailbox/back step, where I planted nasturtium seeds. I love nasturtiums, and my friend Marlene suggests we harvest a few of their flowers and put them on salad, which sounds intriguing.

My flowers will never fit any color scheme, but I already have orange tiger lilies and hot pink roses, so there is no way to make a scheme work with my perennial bloomers anyway. I just bought what makes me smile. They say nature always “goes” together fine, any natural colors can work. We will see how they do.

I left the herb and vegetable seeds for another day, but Brian dug out an area for those. We made our food garden bigger, I think it was maybe a yard/meter wide and half that deep for the last few years. It worked for parsley, dill, and one small experimental veggie each year (I have tried carrots, peppers and chard before).

I have not even purchased my tomato plant yet (photo is from 2004), nor flowers for front/back doors. I’ll probably put in chard seeds and herbs Tuesday. The beans and tomato may need to wait, I’m working one day at a time here.

Why? Because: I could not spend all day in the yard. I can think of it while doing other things, but the other things had to happen.

Routines Delayed = Many Tasks in One Day (& Good Food)

The boring stuff, including four loads of laundry, had to be done. Yawn.

Then, since my food allergies mean I cook most of my own meals, I always spend time on days off cooking ahead. Even a holiday qualifies as a cooking day. Brian and I collaborated on a crockpot for freezeable meals for 3 days, and I made some experimental (merely adequate) pumpkin muffins.

For dinner, I made a very nice potato salad, a big treat since I could not have potatoes for 5 years and because I have to make my own mayonaise-substitute (can not have raw eggs or corn oil or citric acid or vinegar, all very common ingredients even in health-food-store mayo brands). Lynn-mayo is really time consuming and messy, and I rarely have patience for it. With no appointments Monday, I dove in.

I also could not eat eggs for 5 years, though now I can have one every once in a while if it is totally cooked through. This means I got to put boiled eggs on my potato salad! Gourmet, I’d say. You can’t know what it’s like to “get a food back” if you have not gone through this yourself. Trust me, it’s a big deal.


The salad contained baby gold potatoes, lightly steamed asparagus, red bell pepper, and “mayo” made with avocados, fresh-squeezed lime juice and a few flavorings. Not too bad, though Brian thought it could use some Tobasco ™ sauce. I’m not a fan.

I have not had potato salad in a very long time. It was really a treat. I particularly loved the bits of steamed asparagus in the salad. Yum!!!

I made some pudding to eat as snacks for the next few days, and a cherry not-quite-jell-o (tapioca to thicken and dark cherries, mostly… it happens to be vegan/vegetarian, too). Those are also cooling in the refrigerator to get me through a few days. There is nothing like having a bit of abundance in the refrigerator, you know?

Big News: A New Baby!

Rachael who works weekends at Rae’s Yarn Boutique had her baby last week. He is happy and healthy. Big Sister is no doubt getting used to her new partner.

I am eager to meet our new sweetheart, probably next weekend. Maybe he should get a pair of Chippy Socks (in my spare time)?

And there is Always More Knitting

zigbabythreadbear20.jpgSo believe it or not, I did a little work on the knitting business as well. I have a sample ready to felt for Threadbear (the one they already have is shown here), and am working on these swatches for the impending pattern proposals due June 1.

I am scheduling all sorts of classes. However, I’m having a rough time getting them up on my Google Calendar on this site.

If you are interested in taking any classes from me (near Lansing, Michigan USA), I teach at the following shops. The first 3 have schedules up on their websites… click below to go to their class pages. Once there, if you click Edit/Find and then type in Lynn, you should go directly to the next class I’m teaching, then the next.

The last shop listed has classes scheduled but not on her site yet. When you click on her link you should be able to send an email to her, and ask for a schedule.

(I’m probably adding another yarn shop and maybe something a little different, this summer. However, nothing firm is set yet.)

Rae’s Yarn Boutique, Lansing’s East Side, Michigan Ave.

Threadbear Fiberarts, 496 Waverly Road Exit/West Side

Little Red Schoolhouse Yarn, not far from Lansing Mall/West Side

Yarn Garden, Charlotte Michigan (30 minutes southwest of Lansing)

Update on Chippy Socks

My Chippy Socks’ test knitters have been hard at work this weekend, writing me for clarification on different things I wrote (or left out, or put in the chart funny). I really really really love my test knitters. I just can not do my job well without them.

OK… off to run in circles again for a bit more. Then knitting like the wind, tomorrow. My “regular schedule” (such as it is) commences again on Wednesday…

Nobody is online but me…

Monday, May 26th, 2008

It’s a three-day weekend in the USA (Memorial Day). I’m working but at home and with Brian close by much of the time. My email lists are quiet, my inbox is almost empty, and even Ravelry has slowed to a crawl. It is mostly an in-person, relationship weekend, I think.

I attended a gathering on Saturday night (ran into an old acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a few years and talked forever), and then Brian and I attended a music party on Sunday.

I took knitting to both events. I didn’t knit a single stitch, though I at least tried at the Sunday gathering. Sunday there were SO many people there I wanted to chat with, so many people I regard highly.

I got some quality time with Doug Berch, and it seems there is never quite enough of that. He’s a great guy, and he is self-employed (like me) making a living being creative (like me). It’s important to make those sorts of connections as often as possible when one is self-employed. It’s so easy to feel totally alone.

We cooked Sunday night at home, and plan more cooking/baking Monday as well as some gardening. I bought some morning glory seeds and planted those 2 days ago. I also bought nasturtium seeds (have done relatively well with these before in another area of the yard which is hard to water). I got pole beans and swiss chard. I’ve grown chard before, but I think not from seed.

Beans are a new experiment. We do have places for them to climb but I am mostly going to put them in containers near a drain spout and the stair railing and see how they do. I think I’ll have to run a little bit of nylon twine as well, no big deal. I love beans and this will be fun if they work.

If not, I at least plan to buy my standby tomato plant. I always get one and put it in a container on my back porch. The plant is so beautiful, with or without fruit, that I love having one even though I’m not a huge fresh tomato fan.

I will put in some flowers this year but was uninspired as to what to buy when we went shopping Friday. I figure if I’m not excited about it I should stop. Since the plants go un-watered when we go on music festival weekends/ camping trips in the summer, I like to buy things that will forgive me if I don’t water regularly. Geraniums and petunias work really well on the west (no shade) and impatiens on the east (mostly shade).

All my flowers go in containers, very large ones with “container soil” which is not potting soil. It actually has little granules of a sort of gel which absorbs a LOT of water, and then gives it off slowly. This stuff is a miracle for the way I garden. As long as I put things in containers with this soil, I have success.

You can also buy the gel nodules in their own small container and mix it in with your own soil. It’s not for regular gardens, just containers, but it’s really great in my limited-gardening world.

Here are photos of my yard in previous years. You will see that most of it comes up on its own every year without help, much of it planted by previous owners of this house. I’m all for that! We did put in the hostas and coral bells when we had the front porch replaced. There were large white spirea (sp)/bridal wreath bushes out there before, which make me sneeze and which look raggedy when not blooming. Now we have a shade garden instead.

I still want some of those giant powdery-looking blue elephant-ear hostas someday, the old fashioned kind that are well over a foot tall. They are out of fashion right now at the garden centers.

It is relatively wild, which I sort of like, other than the potted flower containers. I don’t want to look too over-groomed. Been there, done that, didn’t want the T-shirt (as my brother says). Too much work, too much worry, in trying to be “perfect” and nature doesn’t want to go along for the ride. I just enjoy texture and color in the garden. A little like knitting!

Chippy Socks: You can’t knit just one pair.

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

I’m in the very last week or two of development on a sock pattern. I started this pattern during the holiday season of 2006-07 and stalled out in February of last year. There were reasons for the stall, but I have figured out a way around them. The project is at full speed ahead right now.

chippysocks50web.jpgI have three test knitters working on this project this week. They are finding little things I can’t find when writing, and I am very grateful for their input. Thanks to Eunice, Mary and Diana!!!

The pattern was inspired by my toddler friend Isabel. She loves socks, shoes and boots. One day she was wearing her ladybug boots and refused to take them off to take a nap. Mommy decided that this was not a battle worthy of fighting and the kid slept with the boots on. But I had planned to knit the child some socks. Now what?

The answer I came up with, was to design six different leg patterns and six different foot patterns. My love for color contrast is shared by the younger set, so I chose three colors to work the six designs. And the knitter can decide if they want to knit two socks or three (a spare, always a good thing) or six.

I guess they could also knit two socks that matched, though my mind does not delight in that choice as much as the variety available in other choices. However, the great part about knitting is that the one holding the yarn is in charge of the creative output. The child wearing the socks will not know what I had in mind!

Here is a photo of a few socks I did as swatches when I started this design. The yarn shown is no longer carried by any of the shops where I work, and it is a bit too fat to be knit at my desired gauge.

I have re-specified several yarns that will work out more to the gauge I wanted. They are also hopefully more available, at least in my part of the world. One of the new yarns I’m specifying is Cascade Fixation (solid colors) which is a good yarn for wool-sensitive individuals, and the colors available are wonderful!

Off to knit samples for Threadbear’s ZigBagZ Bottle/Sport class starting in June. These are turning out quite fun. Very different colors than previous bags, lots of red/magenta contrast. One bag has a purple solid, the other a blue-turquoise.

I’m also knitting swatches for some proposed sock patterns for a book. No, I’m not writing a book solo as some thought. A book is being put together by a publisher and they asked me to submit a few designs for possible inclusion.

One step at a time, and even if they say yes it may be holiday season of 2009 before you see it in print. I’m hopeful this will happen, cross fingers for me that they choose my work.

New Sockyarn, New Sock Design in the Works

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

doublestripeonfoot16.jpgThere is a new sockyarn which is handspun in Japan. It is a single strand (ply) and it contains 70% rustic, springy wool, and 30% nylon (for strength). I have done a lot with yarns made by this company (Noro). They have not had a sockyarn before, however.

This sockyarn came out very recently. It’s called Kureyon (pronounce: Crayon). Rae got I think 5 colorways about a month ago. Then in the last few days she got 8 more colorways (these new ones are not even on the promotional color cards, they are so new).

(Edited later: Noro has another sockyarn in the works, projected arrival date July. That one will have silk and mohair in addition to the wool and nylon. It will have similar color patterning, though maybe different colorways than the Kureyon. This design should work equally well for the new yarn.)

Some folks have called Kureyon Sockyarn scratchy. However, in my opinion it is better described as a rustic, wooly yarn which I do not characterize as scratchy. Of course, your mileage may vary.

I have skinny feet (size 6 narrow US) and this means that a tube I would knit for my foot as a sock, is really small. This means that the long stretches of yarn in one color, before changing to another color, make very wide stripes across my foot (see foot portion in photo at left). It’s lovely, really, but not always what I want.

The colors repeat so infrequently that I knit one full sock and half of another before I got to the beginning of the same sequence of color I started with. This means that it will be a bit of a challenge to make two socks that look the same colors at the same places, unless one has small enough feet to not need the full skein for a pair. Luckily, the skeins have a lot of yards of yarn.

Here I took both ends of the same skein of yarn and striped them against one another on the leg of the sock (see leg portion in photo). I have a specific pattern I used as far as how fat each stripe was, but it still looks pretty random with all the color changing happening.

I used an easy toe-up technique, with a Dutch heel variant. It is more beautiful than I expected. I’m delighted.

For those who will ask… no, the pattern is not ready yet but I’ll have it up sometime in June.

I will be teaching this sock at Little Red Schoolhouse in June. Here are details:

Saturdays, June 14, 21, 29, 3:30 – 5:30pm. Double-striped socks!

Noro handspun sockyarn has arrived and the colors are inspiring. Join LynnH for a toe-up sock class with a unique colorful leg. The yarn has very long color changes, and in this sock we will stripe different colors against one another for extra fun! Either choose two colorways with contrasting colors to stripe, or work from both ends of the same ball to make fun color combinations.

The toe-up sock structure allows us to cast on and knit right away, without a gauge swatch. The colors will keep you so enthralled that the project will finish in no time.

Thanks to the Traffic Crossing/Safety Workers

Friday, May 23rd, 2008


Not long ago, Brian and I (The Fabulous Heftones) sang for a banquet honoring the adult safety traffic crossing workers of Ingham County. It was really great to see these people honored, who endure nasty weather and have to wake up at an hour not pleasant for most of us. It was amazing to hear how many of them have worked this job for 20, even 30 years. Good folks.

fabheftonessafety1full16.jpgI was really impressed with how many Police Chiefs from different local municipalities were at the event. How wonderful that they were there, showing their true appreciation for these essential workers.

We sang fun songs that the crowd was likely to know and enjoy. After all, we are about nostalgia and when a familiar song can make people smile… well, we want to encourage that smile. We had a great time, and by the looks of the faces, the audience liked it, too.

It’s worth taking the time to say thanks to all of those who work this sometimes thankless job on behalf of the kids of our communities. I remember the guy who was on our corner for years, I always waved at him every time I went by (I was on my way to work with kids after school, myself).

pattengillhallway.jpgFinally one day I stopped and introduced myself. He was a retiree with a lot of grandkids who just liked kids, it just fit who he was to do this sort of work. He told me that on the last day of school, he would hire an ice cream truck for the handful of kids he was there for. He told me that so many kids are taken to school by parents that very few walk anymore. As a non-parent, I don’t notice that trend except when I pass by a school after the final bell.

So thanks to the folks with red hand-held STOP signs. Thanks to the police chiefs and the Lansing Safety Council. And thanks to the person who thought to ask us to perform. We loved every minute.

For Lansing residents who have not been inside the new Pattengill Middle School on the corner of Saginaw and Marshall, here is a photo of the entry hall, outside the cafeteria/auditorium where we sang. Nice, huh? The kids were in a school nearly 100 years old and showing its age, and now they have this. I’m sure they enjoy it.

Thanks to the Police Chief of Lansing Township, Chief Kay A. Hoffman for taking photos with my camera while we sang. It is pretty impossible to take photos of ourselves. She did a wonderful job!

Cushy ColorSport/Wee Welcome Set

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

New Yarn! New Project!

I dyed some yarn a few weeks ago, and promptly set out to knit it into something wonderful. Here is the result.


The yarn is my Cushy ColorSport (I just put up five new skeins, four new colorways, on my shopping cart). It is a delectable machine-washable wool yarn which is great for children because it is not scratchy at all. I can not count the times I’ve been asked if it was cotton, by people who are not familiar with merino wool.

This is super, lofty, springy, cushy wool. The good stuff. Good enough for me to put my name on it.

For the record, Norwegians have put babies in wool for centuries. They have soft baby wools just for the purpose. And wool needs no chemical treatment to be flame resistant. It is naturally self-extinguishing, unlike treated fabrics whose flame-resistance wears off a little each time you wash it.

The Pattern

The design I knit is my friend Chris’ Wee Welcome Set (from Knitting at Knoon designs). What a lovely, heirloom gift this would be.


Here I have a photo of the sweater and the hat I knit, together… and then two sets of the booties. The sweater is in the colorway a friend named Lynnabelle, because the main color is my signature turquoise (it looks a little more blue in this photo, but it’s a slightly-greenish turquoise).

The booties show one pair in Lynnabelle, and one pair in Seaside. Seaside is a little turquoise, a little purple and a unifying dose of blue. Every time I dye this it comes out a little different but I always use the same three dye colors. It’s great when you want to knit for a little boy, or for an adult who likes sea and sky. (The last garment photo is a Wee Welcome Set in Seaside, knit by my friend Rae.


These yarns are for sale on my shopping cart, as of right now. I may not need to mention that quantities are limited… I dye yarn when there are no classes to teach and no other deadlines.

perfectspringcushyflammegarn600.jpg(I’m excited, there are now three pilot colorways of Flammegarn, a method of dyeing which shows off texture, lace and cables well without being boring. I have not offered Cushy ColorSport in Flammegarn often.)

The skeins are a half pound, which will make an entire Wee Welcome Set with enough yarn left over to make a diaper cover of some sort as well, or maybe some wristwarmers for yourself. Two half-pound skeins will get you enough yarn for a basketweave Cushy Blankie, and the pattern comes free with a purchase of a pound of the yarn.

flammegarnblueskyhalfpound600.jpgThe Yarn

For the record, the yarn is a DK weight so it takes less weight to make a sweater than if you used worsted or thicker yarn. This is because the fabric is thinner, and drapier, and more flattering than thicker yarn, so the final piece weighs less.

Diana has some Lynnabelle she is swatching, to make a sweater for herself. It’s not just for children’s wear. In fact, my friend Jillian (of Big Girl Knits, More Big Girl Knits, and KnittySpin) suggests DK weight yarns to flatter curvy figures. I just like the drape better, no matter what size.

The Class

If you are in the Lansing area, I will be teaching a class on the Wee Welcome Set at Yarn Garden in Charlotte. It will be held on the four Wednesdays in June, starting June 4, Noon-2pm. I would love to have you join me. Contact information is on Lindsay’s shop site, though the class is not yet listed on her classes page (it was in the newsletter).

Paulette’s Finished Sock

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Paulette rocks. She came to me maybe 2 months ago, no longer. She had a dream that she would knit socks. We dove in, and look at what she has done. A completed sock… unblocked but fresh off the needles. She had to learn how to bind off to finish this sock, because her other 2 projects were hats which ended at the top.

paulettefinishedsock.jpgTwo months ago we started with knit, then purl, then rib. We learned two sorts of decreases. She finished a hat. She finished another hat just like it, but with fewer “hiccups.”

Mind you, I did not know how to knit ribbing for 20 years after I learned the knit stitch. She had 2 ribbed hats in 3 weeks.

And we got right on those socks… and she learned how to use double-pointed needles with small yarn. She learned how to pick up and knit stitches. She learned how to bind off.

She knows more than I did after 2 decades of knitting (garter stitch scarves, but that’s knitting). The sock fits well, and she is eager to wear the pair so the second one is surely already on its way.

Go, Paulette!

The View Across the Street

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

I love the East Side of Lansing. I bought a 1920’s two-bedroom bungalow there in 1992 if I have my dates right, and sold that house around 1999.

Brian and I got married a few years before I sold that house. I moved to his place, but that is how hard it was for me to let go of “my hood.” I used the house as a studio and dance space for a few years. That neighborhood still is home to my heart, though I now live 3 miles south, a handful of neighborhoods away.

paintermichiganave.jpgFor those who read here often, the Foster Community Center (where I teach kids to knit) is on the East Side. In fact, my house was merely one block from the center and I used to walk to work there.

It is only about 5 blocks to the Frandor Shopping Center from Foster Center. I used to work at the JoAnn Fabrics superstore there, and enjoyed it thoroughly (though it was very hard on my body, it was good for my psyche).

For several years, Rae’s Yarn Boutique was in an outlying building managed by the Frandor Shopping Center people. Her shop was 4 blocks east of Foster Center. Now she moved basically five blocks west, instead.

The block where Rae’s is located now, is my favorite block in Lansing. Yes, I like Old Town… but the East Side is home. And the 2000 block of East Michigan Avenue has Rae’s, Magdalena’s Teahouse, Emil’s Italian Restaurant, City Pulse alternative free newspaper, Gone Wired Cybercafe, Lamai Thai Kitchen, Everybody Reads Bookstore, a bead shop, a halal international market, a karate school/dojo (several friends go there) and more. The best.

So last week Rae went to South Carolina to see her Mom for Mother’s Day. Although I’m not an employee, I teach there and am good at computers. I have learned to work the cash register so that Rae can take her dogs for a walk on Thursdays, the day she’s open late (and I’m there anyway).

She’s also a good friend. So when she went on vacation (nice photos here), I took a few short shifts to help cover all the hours the store is usually open, in addition to Sharon and Rachel who actually work regular shifts as employees.

At some point during the week where I was at Rae’s a lot, I looked out the window and saw this. A guy was in front of City Pulse, with an easel. At first I wondered if it was Julie’s husband, Eric (also known as Little Blue Hippo), who is known for his paintings of Lansing landmarks. It was not.

I caught him just before he left his post, so I did not get to ask him his name. But this was the view from the front door of Rae’s shop last week. It just makes me smile. Good old East Side.

Knitting with no time to sleep…

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I’m knitting samples for upcoming classes. This is very fun. I will need to write patterns for some of these items (new designs I’m making up just for the new term of classes). I am excited about this!

There is a new sockyarn by the Noro company. It’s handspun, where the spinner basically grabs a handful of one color and spins until it’s mostly run out, then overlaps it with a new color until the new color is all there is, then slowly changes to the next and next. It depends on how big your foot is, how tall each stripe is before it changes colors. My foot is really thin, size 6 narrow, and so I did a sock on size 1 needles with only 44 stitches. this made really big chunks of each color on my foot.

norothreesocks16.jpgI made three socks with this new sockyarn. One is a sort of variation on a slip stitch pattern, easy to do with only 4 stitches and 4 rows in the repeat. It makes a really nice texture with the handspun yarn (which is textured by its nature, anyway). I think it makes the rustic nature of the handspun yarn really sing.

(For the record, there is much discussion online and off about this yarn and whether it is “scratchy.” I’d say it is rustic and wooly but not scratchy to someone who wears other wool sockyarns. It softens up and gets more springy after blocking/washing, as well. My opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.)

The second and third socks are made with different colorways of the yarn, but the same design/pattern. I used one end of the ball of yarn to stripe with the other end of the ball, for the leg of each sock. It took a little fussing on the more subtle-colored sock, because I ended up with neutral and neutral from both ends of the ball at one point. I just broke the yarn and re-started that strand where it changed to the next color.

The super-rainbow one? I want a pair for myself, though this will be a store sample.

Now that the bright colorway is knit up, the sock reminds me of the Maximum Legwarmers I made from Sally Melville’s Knit Stitch book, contrasting a warm colorway and a cool colorway. However, my version of the legwarmers’ stripes were much more random and called for two different colorways.

The socks are one skein only, two ends and not even using up a whole skein. (It would be very hard to make two socks match using this method, though I confess I would be inclined to give it a try given how small my foot is.)

I bet you did not notice… the left and center socks were knit from the same skein of yarn. I started with the turquoise toe of the textured sock. I knit all the way to the top which was a nearly-black wool. Then I started the middle sock. I did not get to the end of the repeat until I had finished the 2nd foot (note turquoise heel on middle sock, that was where I finally returned to the sequence for the 2nd time).

I took a bunch of photos of the socks, and all of them are a bit fuzzy. I took new photos Tuesday but have not downloaded them to my laptop yet, so you get the semi-fuzzy version for now.

(Oh, and I’m also working up some new patterns, some to answer a request for proposals for a book I hope to be included in, a year and a half down the road… and one that I started a while back and am picking back up in earnest this week. Much fun, more on those as I have news to share.)