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Archive for July, 2008

Prepare to be Amazed

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

You all thought my young knitter A. was talented when I showed you her bag last week. Prepare to be delighted and amazed. She has finished her first pair of socks.

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Not only did she do a pair of socks, she was creative in solving the design problem of not having enough yarn to make them as thick as she wanted given the yarn available in our classroom. She chose to hold two yarns together as one, and used one color in both socks for a bit of unity. Then for the second strand, she used different colors of yarn for variety and interest.

Not only that! A good long time ago, when Kim still owned the Yarn Garden shop in Charlotte, she gave me a stack of Interweave Knits magazines. At the time my kids in the program were interested in the pictures but none were ready to tackle actual patterns.

So I still had a few of that issue left this year when A. hit my classroom. She and a few other adventurous ones took the magazines home and were inspired. In this particular issue, there was a pair of socks by Ann Budd which used a feather and fan lace as a short cuff design. A. was delighted.

So she made her first lace, on her first socks. Why not? And I’d say she made a lovely choice. Chunky and warm, but definitely feminine as well. And artful! Good job, A.!!!

A Different Parade

Monday, July 21st, 2008

When Brian and I were at Blissfest music festival two weekends ago, they had a kids “parade” one day. They had hired a talent who made balloon hats, and the kids got their faces painted, and they went for a festive walk.

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It was just adorable… how little can make kids so happy! As for me, the colors were certainly joyful!

Enjoy the photos.

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Home. Hot. Happy!

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

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Aaah. We were on the road 4 days last week and 4 days this week (we’d planned on 5 but came home half a day early). It was fun, but I missed home.

I am not very happy sleeping in a tent, but we do not want the hassle and cost of a trailer or RV. We are also committed to attending music festivals. That means, at least for now, it’s all about figuring out how to make a tent liveable.

We have a small Eureka tent that is great against rain. Also, when it’s really cold our body heat keeps it warm enough to sleep (last year we slept in it just above freezing temperatures, and we were warm enough).

We also love how easy our current tent is to put up. I can do it alone without any struggle, though Brian tends to be the one doing all the work.

However, we are considering perhaps a move to a tent just large enough to stand up in for changing clothes, maybe even some sort of portable bed. If anyone out there has any experience with this, I’d love to hear what you know.

We had a LOT of rain this week on the road, inches and inches on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. There was standing water after several of the storms. Fortunately, we could take shelter while the sky broke loose, and we did have more time without rain than with it; the storms were short but mean.

We got home after dark last night, and awoke to a perfect summer day. Such a treat!

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So today is a little breezy, a lot sunny, and hot, but bearable (this is Michigan, not Arizona). My kind of day. While others are sitting around miserable, I am absolutely bursting with happy energy.

It was 90F/32C today when I looked this afternoon. I do complain all winter, but right now I am so delighted I can barely hold it in!

I worked in the garden for a while. The weeds are prolific this year, between good rain and sunny days. I can not keep up in the few days I’m home. I gave it the good old college try, anyway!

I made bubble/boba tea for myself. I make it just with tapioca flavored with brown sugar syrup, and black unflavored tea. No milk or “stuff,” just simple tea and fun large tapioca bubbles. Great summer entertainment.

Right now I am typing this on the porch, my absolute favorite place in Lansing. I’m in my Mexican hammock, watching my colorful hand wash dry in the breeze. I have the laptop out here, using wireless internet.

I painted the porch floor and window trim purple, and the railings salmon pink, which I love. Their colors make me smile. There is perhaps not a better way to spend the day.

I hope you have a wonderful summer weekend, too!

So what is this flower?

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

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We camped in the woods last weekend at BlissFest in northern lower Michigan (near Cross Village). We saw a lot of plants, tons of trillium especially, but I could not figure out this flower.

Everywhere it was, I could not see a leaf that could be attributed to it. Here I show it next to a small maple seedling, then next to a trillium plant (or several).

My friend Pete had me go look at the base of the stem. It thickens a lot right where it joins the ground, so we are thinking that maybe the leaves come up at a different place from the flower stalk.

My camera insisted on focusing on the ground rather than the flower itself. Can anyone tell what this is from the photos?

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Waterside Photo

Friday, July 18th, 2008

More Traverse City. Makes you want to visit, doesn’t it?

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Traverse City National Cherry Festival Parade

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

On Saturday last week we found ourselves accidentally smack dab in the middle of the National Cherry Festival. We got there as the parade was starting. I was a bit distracted by a deadline (we went to the city to use the post office) but it was easy to get a bunch of photos showing the festive atmosphere and fun parade acts.

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A Purple House

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

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This house was in Traverse City, Michigan when we passed by last week. There was another purple house about a block down, but it was on the wrong side of the road for me to get a photograph. Yes, I took the photo out the window and the car did not stop (though it was going slow).

I love to collect photos of purple houses. I haven’t shown you one here in a long while. Enjoy!

Another Travel Photo

Monday, July 14th, 2008

This window box was on a corner restaurant in downtown Traverse City (northern lower Michigan, USA). The city was very festive, it was just after the Saturday National Cherry Festival parade. It was a lovely time to be there, we ended up there at that time by total accident and it was wonderful.

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A View from the Road

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

We’ve been traveling. Despite the implication of vacation in the idea of “travel,” I also have deadlines. I’ve been knitting in the car and typing on the laptop in cafe’s. Not that I’m complaining…

It’s all good. Work deadlines in the summer, when one’s business is primarily focused on wool? This is a high-class problem if it’s a problem at all. And I see friends and family between knitting and typing, while on the road. That tempers the work very nicely.

Till I develop more photos, here’s one taken from the car “up north” on the way to the Traverse City area of northern lower Michigan. There are a good number of houses and barns built of rocks in this area. Lovely.

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April’s Cake

Friday, July 11th, 2008

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I made April’s birthday cake last Monday. Finally photos are ready.

If I wanted to eat the cake, I was going to have to make it. I made this without eggs, milk wheat (though I did cheat and use some spelt as well as oat flour) or confectioners/powdered sugar. It was chocolate cake, chocolate pudding-frosting and chocolate chips for decoration (in a smiley face).

The frosting I had not tried before. The cake I’ve made in many variations, for many years. I got a recipe

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from Brian’s sister Kathleen and made changes to it (of course) to use ingredients in my house, and which I am not allergic to. I never imagined I’d eat frosting again, and it was lovely.

Our friend Brandi brought a bunch of fun candles that made sort of a crown for the face. Much fun.

I will put together a recipe for you sometime but this weekend is far too full of deadlines for that.

The birthday of April may continue on ColorJoy for a while longer…

A.’s Quick Gift Bag

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

A. is one of my knitting kidz at Rae’s this summer. She has been knitting in my programs for most of a year now. This is the first batch of kids I have ever had (I think I’ve been doing this for 6 years, maybe 5) who actually are reading patterns on their own.

I started the kids with learning how to read patterns, on the Mochimochiland Hearts. These kids hang out together when they are not with me, and they helped each other figure out that pattern.

After the hearts, a few of them tried Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer’s bunny. I heard they did finish some but I never saw them, I believe they were made into gifts.

giftbag16.jpgWe have tried a few other patterns, some with more independence than others. And two of them are making my First-Time Toe-Up Socks. A’s mother is knitting along with a pair of her own, which has the extra benefit of another adult to help out when I’m not around and the pattern is unclear to a new pattern-reading child.

When I did the Schuler Books event with Rae a few weeks ago and I wrote the pattern for the Quick-Gift Bags, “My Kidz” wanted the pattern (if you click this link you will get a free PDF of the bag pattern in 2 sizes). I complied quickly. A. made one in less than a week. Go, A.!

Hers is made with two strands of yarn held together, one solid white (I think it’s alpaca) and one multicolor (wool). The bag is nice and dense, it will hold things in without worry.

Today A. started (are you ready?) a Baby ZigBag (small purse) from my ZigBagZ Mini Collection. She learned a new way to cast on, and is currently working with two colors of yarn, stranded knitting. . She can really picture this bag finished, and thus I have no question that she will finish it.

Oh… and also today A. learned to knit feather-and-fan lace for the cuff of her First-Time Toe-Up socks. She was inspired by a pair of lace footies in an Interweave Knits magazine which was donated to my program. Her goal is to finish the socks this week and wear them on her vacation next week. Her vacation knitting will be the BabyZig.

And that is merely the story of one kid in my program (I think she is 12 years old). One really determined, very skilled, and persistent child. She is not the only special one… but special, she is!

Katie’s Wee Welcome Hat

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

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Katie is learning to knit, and waiting for her first child to arrive. She is knitting a lovely pink Wee Welcome Set for the occasion, and learning at the same time.

She finished this hat on our third lesson, about a week after she started with me. She has also started on a bootie but it is not ready for photos at this time.

She’s doing a fine job of catching on, I’d say! Go Katie!

Life is a Story Problem

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

I’m working on a new sock design, the one for Lark Books. It is a very fun sock in 3 colors, with a different structure from any sock pattern I’ve mapped out stitch-by-stitch before.

larksockyarn.jpgI have knit a lot of socks this way. I know a lot of guidelines for this sort of sock structure, but I sort of think in general guidelines rather than numbers.

When I knit socks for me, I typically “make them up on the needles.” This week I need to translate into actual numbers for the sake of my readers/customers. I’ve done it before, will do it again. I never enjoy it much.

It’s a story problem, really. I made a list of the things I need to do/figure out, one at a time, to get the measurements/stitch counts I need. There are 6 steps in my story problem today.

As Brian often says… “there are a finite number of…” steps, or objects, or whatever it is that seems big at the time. Yup. Six steps. It just can’t take that long, then, can it?

At least it’s not that story problem about how long it would take to fill up the bathtub while the drain was simultaneously open. Ugh. I still don’t get how to do that one, and it seemed to be on every math test I took in high school!

Photo: the three colors of yarn that will be in the sock design. Publishing is a competitive game and most details must be kept secret until the book comes out in late 2009. However, my contact person at Lark says the colors of yarn I use need not be kept secret, so at least I can share these with you!

Happy Birthday, Twice.

Monday, July 7th, 2008

My brother, Eric, has his birthday on July 7. So does my friend April. It’s a wonderful day, if you ask me. Two of the most important people in my life share a birthday. (It’s also Ringo Starr’s birthday for those who collect that sort of trivia.)

Eric is out of town, so I called his answering machine and sang Happy Birthday. Our family does this regularly. Sometimes I will come home on my birthday to have messages from Mom, Eric and Goddaughter, Sara, all singing me a song. It’s a fun thing to do.

I made April a cake that even I could eat, and we had a small gathering at April’s house after I got out of work. Four grownups, a toddler and a large dog; cake and ice cream and root beer, and a good number of laughs. This is the stuff life is made of.

Big, huge happiness to both of you! I feel rich with loved ones like you in my life!

Photos: April and daughter Isabel in October, 2004 (now the sweet daughter is 4 years old); Eric on his last day of a job, wearing goodbye spiked hairdo and braids in his beard. Oh, and that famous twinkle in the eye, of course!