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Archive for August, 2008

Yes, Yes, Nanette!

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

I am knitting the Nanette Tee by Joan McGowan-Michael, of WhiteLies Designs. I’ve known Joan online for years and finally met her this last June at TNNA. It was so great to meet her!

Joan specializes in retro-inspired and shapely designs. She knows that women have curves and sometimes the curves are larger than those expected by ready-to-wear. She knows how to design items that fit those curves in a flattering way without resorting to a baggy cover up.

I’m in love with a good number of her designs. One very new one which should appeal to a good number of renaissance-shaped women, large or small, is the Evangeline Tunic which is knit in a fine DK-weight yarn. Spectacular in all ways!

My friend Rae would look so beautiful in Evangeline, I wish I had the leisure to knit one for her. I won’t be knitting it, but I love it so much I ordered the pattern. I wanted to “vote” for this quality artfulness even if I can’t make it come to life.

But I got a “tee” called Nanette for myself. It is such a luxury to take time and knit for myself. I sometimes knit socks because I don’t need to pay attention to a pattern. However, when I knit a top, or really anything someone else designed, I am stuck looking at that pattern. It takes time and focus, and I usually do not have focus to spare.


What made Nanette work for my schedule is that it is knit of really fat yarn. Now, I did not use the specified yarn, I needed to use something from my stash. And I did not have anything this fat in my stash for summer.

So I held together three yarns… Kim, an aran-weight tube in cotton/acrylic; Cascade Fixation, a cotton-lycra springy DK yarn, and a soy-silk blend sockyarn (like Tofutsies) from Ellen’s Half-Pint Farm in Rainforest colorway which I got last year at Michigan Fiberfest (there is another quality woman-owned fiber business for you). This is very ColorJoy. It’s a trick holding the elastic yarn with two non-elastic yarns but I’m OK with that challenge.

I swatched to get 3.5 stitches an inch, at the Stitch ‘n Pitch event just over a week ago. I love the colors, with raspberry, hot green and a bunch of tropical-water colors in the fingering weight. It should be a trick washing this without the raspberry dye running into the yellow=green, of course I did not think of that till I had nearly finished the top. I guess I’ll hand wash cold or put a dye magnet in the machine. It can still be put in the drier.

Another big reason Nanette works for me right now, is that it is knit in merely two pieces (plus thin knit-on neck/arm edgings). It’s not truly a tee, it instead has wonderful shaped cap sleeves. They remind me of The Jetsons, which is odd because the sweetheart neckline is very Renaissance. Whatever the influence, they are all girl-friendly details.

I usually wear roomy tunics (read: long and baggy), but I have knit a few smaller summer tops and I really wear them more than I expected I would. this top will go well with my broomstick skirts which have so many colors in them.

I bound off the front this morning. I’m hoping to cast on the back before the sun goes down. I’m off to do just that!

So far, I’m being lazy like a good vacationer…

L is for Lazy

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

I don’t relate easily to the idea of Laziness. I am always working, often at things I enjoy but always on the move. My attention is not good, so I often am working on things out of order from when they maybe “should’ be worked on, but I never seem to stop.

Once, many years ago, someone wanted to hurt my feelings and called me lazy. I was so surprised that I laughed. I may be inefficient, but lazy is just not my word. Apparently that word would have hurt them, but it did not do the same for me.

Maybe because of this tendency, I’m self employed. When I worked for other people, I would work till 9pm, 11pm, even past 1am when I had a key to let myself out. There was always something more to do, and I work best in silence. People distract me (in a pleasant way) from paperwork, so I did paperwork after hours. I still do.

Now I am a company of one, for the most part. I have wonderful friends and family who knit for me at times (you know who you are… thanks), but I write the patterns and then get good input, I knit the designs at least the first time around, I print my patterns, stuff them into page protectors, take orders, print packing slips, address envelopes, create/print invoices, deliver local pattern orders to shops. If I do not knit my own samples, I make sure the samples will happen somehow, arranging yarn and knitter for each project.

I write class handouts (including typing/layout on the computer), I teach classes. I schedule (ugh). I do my own publicity/press releases, I am the photographer and then the graphic artist for all my advertisements. I answer the phone and the emails. I am the publicist, the webmaster, the marketing guru, the everything. I do most of my techie work (though thank goodness I have great help from Brian when I can’t do it alone).

I am excellent at some of these tasks, good at some, adequate at a handful and I drag myself through just a few, screaming. But every job has things we dislike, and that’s how it goes.


For the record, I’ll say it again. They say when you are self-employed that you are your own boss. I disagree. In effect, every single customer becomes your boss. In effect, you have more bosses… though you can essentially quit one without quitting them all. I have been very lucky in this area, no complaints, but it is NOT as though one can do whatever one wants when one is self employed. People who say that are trying to sell you a book or video, or something that benefits them, not you. They are cashing in on misconceptions. End of digression.

I love my work, I love my life, I love my job and my everything. Yesterday I went to a music party and took knitting along. It was actually frivolous knitting, a pattern written by someone else, just for me to wear. I have not done this sort of knitting yet in 2008, but it was still observed that I took my “work” to a party. I often do that, but in many cases it is because I work at the thing I would rather do than anything else.

purpleflower16.jpgI love to dance, I love to sing, but I would rather knit than either sing or dance. I live a charmed life in that way.

Today, however, is a day with no obligations. Brian has gone off on a bicycle ride and he will be gone until dusk. I am alone in the house, with Jen Sygit on the CD player to keep me company. I bound off the front of my cute frivolous summer top and will cast on the back shortly. And just plain do not much of anything important.

If the neighborhood stays relatively quiet, I will knit on the porch in my beloved Mexican hammock. Right now I’m typing this with the laptop on my lap, feet propped up sideways on the couch with the door wide open.

I have important things to do again soon. I may even do them tomorrow which is officially the holiday. But I will take my holiday today. I will try to live hand in hand with selfishness of a self-nurturing sort.

I will be creatively lazy. On the last day of August. Sigh. Summer is my friend and she is slowly pulling herself away. I will hold her hand for the day, at least.

Photos: 1) My hammock/porch a few years back, it still looks the same. 2) A huge bug I found on a tiny flower in our yard several weeks ago, the one flower in the middle of the yard with no other plants near it. This bug left and came back to the same leaf on a different day. He looked like he had lobster claws in front or something! I was told it was a cicada. There are a few cicadas making some noise today on my block, I wonder if one is this guy? 3) Same plant this week, blooming with fuzzy and bulbous bits in a light orchid color (I had remembered it purple, maybe the stems hinted at that color). What plant is this???

Change is Inevitable, Simple is Great

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

I am learning about myself a bit this summer. I’ve had to make some purchasing decisions. Nothing like the prospect of letting go of hard-to-get cash, to really think hard about what I value most.

As I make choices this year, I’m remembering that many things I’ve loved owning over the years, were single-purpose, no-frills items. I often called my 1985 VW Golf “a driving appliance.” She (I named her Martha G.) had an FM radio, not a cassette, no cruise, and for at least 10 years it did not have air conditioning.

She was totally dependable, never stopped on the side of the road for her first 13 years. Got 35mpg for 10-11 years. Put about 250,000 miles on the odometer. Never, ever let me down in a timeframe that would have beat up most fancier vehicles. That is just one example of a plain-jane thing that I absolutely loved the whole time I had it.

phoneowie.jpgThe purchase I had to make most recently, was to replace my only-one-year-old cell phone. Two weeks ago, Rae and I went to Allegan for Michigan Fiber Festival. We went to dinner and I dropped my cell phone in the parking lot. A customer found it the next day but not before someone had stepped on the inside screen and rendered it unuseable.

Fortunately, the restaurant called me (thanks to the address label with PO Box and email addy I had put on the back) and they sent me back my phone. I was able to have my phone numbers transferred to a new phone by Verizon when I got the new one. So even though I could not use the phone if I needed to see the screen, it was alive enough to give me my phone numbers. I’m very grateful.

But which new phone did I get? I could have replaced it with the same model. There would be no learning curve for the replacement, I guess, but I never liked it.

That phone had a camera (I used it a few times but never took the pictures off the phone in a full year). It had an MP3 player (never even considered using it). I believe I could have downloaded games and music to that phone, nothing I wanted.

It had an awful voice recognition system (new technology but bad implementation), so bad that I gave up and went back to speed dial numbers. I had liked the older-style voice recognition I had used on my previous phone. And maybe most irritating, the “down” button was too close to the button below it and caused entry errors too often.

What did I like about the LG? The color. It’s the silver-purple of my first VAIO laptop. That is not enough for me.


If I could get another phone like the Nokia I replaced last year, I would do it in a heartbeat. Its battery was good, I dropped it more often than I like to admit without a problem. I loved the voice dialing, and it did not weigh that much for all the goodness in it.

In the end I woke up and thought, hey, I’ll get something different than this un-loveable LG. I did some comparison shopping online and determined that there are not many phones on the market that are universally loved.

I decided to get the simplest one possible. At least people reviewing it who said they wanted a basic phone and nothing else, loved it for its simplicity and long battery life. Of course, they did not carry that one at the Verizon store… so I had to order it online.

Now, there are also some very scathing reviews of the phone I chose, online. These reviewers are dumbfounded that there is no camera, MP3 player, and that the styling is plain (I call it clean lines). They hate the antenna (which does help with call clarity if you ask me).

One person said it looked like 1999 (my phone in 1999 was heavy and big, just smaller than the handset of a home phone). Another said 2004 or so. My 2004 phone I still love better than any I’ve ever had, but the buttons wore out last year after pushing them so many times. I just need a phone, not an entertainment center!


The phone I got, which I had to order online and have mailed to me, turns out to be just exactly my cup of tea. It is a phone. Just a phone. No camera. No music. No games.

It has clean lines, not fat and chunky like the “cool” LG I just let go of. It does have an alarm clock which I do use. It has speed dial. And the battery lasted more than a week from one charge, even with 65 talk minutes. I’m sold.

Simple can be best. I’m starting to understand myself more now.

Disclaimer: Someone out there surely has the LG phone I’m talking about, and loves it. I’m sure of it. But this story is about me, and how I am still learning about what I am like at 49 years of age. I’m really happy for anyone who likes what they purchased, believe me!

Photos: My ’85 Golf, whose name was Martha G., in the only photo I can find of her right now; broken LG. My most recent 3 phones: a Nokia I still love, an LG I never bonded with, and the cheapest phone Verizon offers on their website, with their own label on it. The Nokia and LG were decorated with fabric paint in case I needed to remove it for warranty work, it scrapes off with a fingernail but stays on for years. The Verizon has stickers instead, I guess it was faster. If your phone is decorated and someone walks off with it, it’s pretty clear the phone isn’t theirs, you know?

(I totally recommend putting an address sticker with email address or home phone number on your phone, by the way… I put one on my keychain, too. PO Box address, not street address… and a cell phone number can get your keys back in a jiffy. I have experienced this personally. I’d guess a cell phone number on the cell phone would be of limited use, however!)

Headache Day

Friday, August 29th, 2008

I love summer, I love heat more than anyone I know… and am getting a little blue seeing nights cool off. We are supposed to have four warm days in a row, including Friday which just passed. This should be great news. But I woke up Friday with a headache. The kind that makes you want to shave your head, because maybe the weight of your hair is making it worse.

Somehow the allergy stuff in the air has changed in the last week and my body has to get used to the new breathing load. Ugh. It’s not a migraine, just sinus anger, and it will calm down soon enough. For now I’m all about Excedrin and vitamin C.

At the same time, I am doing a project for my mom which is just lasting longer than anyone imagined. Getting started was the hardest part and now it’s plugging along, slowly but plugging. Poor mom is eager to have the project in her hands, like a teen sitting by the phone waiting for a beau to call. And I’d be the same way if I were her. So I’m just plugging along, headache or not.

I have only 2 appointments this weekend and both are Saturday. Both involve knitters I love. One involves musicians, too. This could be good. It will be better if I can get mom a draft copy of her project before I disappear for most of the day…

…so for now, it’s back to Mom’s project until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. The project is starting to really get moving and I can not afford to slow the momentum that has finally started building… send good vibes.

Stitch ‘n Pitch

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Hot Dog HatA week ago Irene Bon Thursday night, Rae’s Yarn Boutique and Woven Art yarn shops sponsored a Stitch ‘n Pitch event at the Lansing Lugnuts minor-league stadium. We played Fort Wayne, Indiana.
I am not a sports fan by any stretch of imagination. But the Lugnuts? I love ‘Rachelem!!! The games have as much crowd-pleasing, between-the-innings entertainment as they have baseball. We did the chicken dance (see photo at right of “Big Lug” in purple, doing theGroup of 3 Knitting chicken dance with a guy wearing an MSU Spartan flag as a superman cape), YMCA, and all sorts of other goofy and lowbrow fun dances in our seats.
They had a name-that-tune, and the girl playing got it right in under 2 seconds (photo bottom left). I didn’t know the song even when they played it at length. Yeah, I’m too old for rock ‘n roll these days, I guess.

StadiumSusan and NancyMy favorite part of a Lugnuts game is the hot-dog gun. I mean, really! I would not eat a hot dog if you paid me, but it still is my favorite.

They have an air gun, and they wrap up hot dogs, put them in this gun, and shoot them iChicken Dancento the air above the crowd while driving a golf cart in fRae and Nancy with T-Shirtsront of the stands. People scramble to catch the hot dog as if it were a fly ball. It’s too funny, too unbelievable to be anything but cool. (Yes, I failed in the “sophisticated” department, and I’m having more fun since I gave it all up.) They also do a T-Shirt gun, same idea but not as funny.

StadumI think the photos say it all. Click to see more detail, then click “back” to get back to this page. And yeah, they made the hot dog seller in the crowd wear a hot dog hat. I thought it was great, you sure can see him for a distance. Rae felt sorry for him (it was pretty warm out there). I like playingHot Dog Gun dress-up, so it didn’t occur to me he might not like his hat.

Knitting? Oh, yeah. I spent the time swatching for a Nanette Tee by White Lies Designs. It requires stretchy light summer yarn at 3.5 stitches/inch. That’s some serious fat yarn!

I tried one yarn, two yarns, a different set of two, and finally all three. That last try Name that Tunemade it. The yarn is so fat I only have to cast on 50 stitches for front and 50 for the back. It should be faster than many other projects, and I will enjoy that.

When we left, it was getting dark. The fountain outside where the kids had been playinFountaing to get cool, was relatively deserted. It sure made downtown Lansing look romantic and beautiful, though, don’t you think?

45 Years Ago Today: Dr. King, “I have a dream…”

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Today is the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech in Washington DC. According to Wikipedia, he spoke to over 200,000 people that day.

Some things have become better, some areas continue to struggle. Fortunately, humankind will always strive for improvement. We will always believe that ideal is attainable and we will continue to work toward that.

We can not afford to get down because things are *not* ideal. Truly, perfect does not exist. The idea of perfection can keep us striving for excellence, however.

I don’t travel often, but when I do it changes my inner life. I went to Africa for 38 days (Ethiopia, Kenya and Egypt) with my friend Altu in 2004-05 and I will never be the same. I have also visited Mexico three times.

I tell you what, the further you go, the more different a place is than home, the more you realize that we are all the same in many ways. We all want our kids to be safe, healthy and happy. We want to feel that things are going to get better. Yes, we have different ways of handling daily life, routines, and rituals. But we are all in the end very human, first of all.

Dr. King, thank you for your inspiration. Just remembering your speech keeps you very much alive and active in our world. I also dream…

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'”

Cool Car Photos

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

One day in July, Brian and I went on a road trip to Ohio to sing for a wedding. On that day, we saw two beautiful old cars worth photographing. The first belonged to the groom:


A Cutlass 442 from the mid-70’s. I remember a guy at my high school who tried to impress me with showing up at my house in his brother’s 442. (I graduated in ’76 so this was probably ’75 or ’76.)

I was not very big on cars at the time, and did not get how cool it was. Mind you, I drove a ’75 red AMC Gremlin and I thought *that* was very cool. It was small for the time, and it was colorful and cute. The 442 was white, yawn!

That guy went on to date a friend of mine. The cars remain cool, and now I understand.

OK, back to the Sunday wedding drive. On the way back home, we stopped in Ann Arbor for dinner at Zingerman’s Deli. I met reader Tessie who works there. She came up to me while I was in line for a cup of tea, and said “I know you but you don’t know me.” What a cool way to say hello! She totally made my day.

And on the way out of Zingerman’s, we passed by this lovely little machine:


It had wood in the dash, a lovely little zooming gizmo on wheels. My mom had a Chevy Corvair with similar curves in the back, probably a few years later than this and not at all as fancy. Why is it I remember things that are now considered classic? I’m still merely 49 years old, for a few more months.

In any case, the pretty cars did make the day more fun. The relationship stuff was better than that, between the wedding reception where we were much appreciated, and the simple act of meeting Tessie who reads this column. What a great day it was!

Quick Food Photo (Quinoa-Pea Salad)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I am busy on another deadline, no time for new photos to be processed today. Fortunately, I have a few photos stored away for just this sort of situation.

quinoapeasalad.jpgHere is a photo of a lunch I made recently. I didn’t write a recipe, did not measure ingredients, but almost any combination would work. It was very satisfying.

For the record, quinoa (pronounce KEEN-waah) is an ancient grain (maybe not technically grain, I think it qualifies as a fruit) which contains complete protein. It substitutes for rice well in a lot of recipes.

I do not like meat, but I need a lot more protein than I enjoy eating. This allows me to balance things more closely to my tastes.

I did not like quinoa the first several times I tried it. It grows with a soap-like substance on it (theoretically this keeps insects and birds away). Even though every package I ever bought said it was rinsed for me, I could taste the stuff and it took away from enjoying my meal.

Then my friend Barbara told me to not just rinse it but wash it with a little friction. I now put my measured quinoa in a large bowl full of water, let it sit for 3 minutes or so, and then literally get my hands in there and rub the grains between my hands. The water gets a bit cloudy.

I then dump out as much of the cloudy water as I can, fill again with clear water (notice it makes bubbles when you fill it up) and repeat a few times until the water is less cloudy (some of the cloudiness I attribute to starch so I don’t try to get it to run clear).

Put in fine colander and rinse one last time. I use a towel under the colander to soak up much of the last water. The grains are tiny, smaller than sesame seeds, so not all colanders/strainers will work.

(If this seems too much work, just cover it with warm water and leave alone for 30 minutes while you prepare other ingredients. Then rub a little, rinse well, and go.)

Then cook per package instructions. Lately I have been cooking it in a crock pot as an experiment, so far so good but no solid measurements yet. Some people put it in a rice cooker.

For the record, last week I tried red quinoa (it comes in a box, not a bag, in my healthy market) and love it. There is less soapy stuff to rinse off, and it has a little more texture. Sort of like brown rice as opposed to white. Lovely.

Sometimes I combine hot quinoa and hot green peas (from frozen), with butter or olive oil, sesame seeds and a little sea salt. This day was a hot one and so I wanted a cold salad instead.

OK so here it goes, an un-recipe for a good summer lunch:

Quinoa/Green Pea Summer Salad

Thaw about 1/3 cup green frozen peas until not frozen but still cold (in refrigerator for a few hours works best, or carefully defrost in microwave)

Fill one-person salad bowl just over half-full with quinoa (maybe 3/4 cup?) If no quinoa available, try short-grain brown rice.

Chop half a red or yellow bell pepper (or one whole carrot, or any other veggie that is good raw)

Crush 1/4 cup of California black olives or other olives as you prefer (optional)

Put veggies, olives and peas on quinoa in bowl, and mix if desired.

Drizzle with healthy oil of your choice (I used flax oil but olive or walnut would be great).

Squeeze juice of about a half a citrus fruit on salad. I prefer lime but this time I used a little grapefruit.

If desired, shake some gomasio/sesame shake (crushed sesame seeds with sea salt) on the top for beauty and flavor. Eden Foods makes a black sesame version that is just beautiful as a garnish.

If you used rice rather than quinoa, perhaps add almond slivers or shell-less raw pumpkin seeds/pepitas for more protein and a little crunch.

If you have time, chill for a half hour to let flavors combine. If hungry and in a hurry, jump right in.


Today I Found My Desk

Monday, August 25th, 2008

I did it. I made the desk be a place for computing again.

Since I was so sick for a month (where I could not sit up or stand for more than a short while), I have been using the couch, the kitchen table and the porch as workspaces. Actually, if I’m just typing I love the couch. However, right now I need my scanner and backup drives and a few other goodies. It was time to make it happen.

To be honest, there are three piles of paper on the floor now that were not there. I cleared off a bunch of things on the desk a week or two ago but did not get to the bottom. At this point, I do not have time to work through to the bottom of these piles. Other work is more important.

Therefore, I got the desk surface happy and drivers installed for this or that gizmo that plugs in to the computer. I started scanning again; I had lost use of the machine I’ve used for scanning, because of a worn out power supply, until a few days ago).

In the last several months I have rearranged my technical tools a lot. I bought machines (tiny laptop and phone plus USB storage), parts (power supply) and software (MS Office 2003). I’m getting to the end of my office-organizing period, I think. I hope. I need to be fully in the middle of the office-using period.

Meanwhile I need to wake up at an hour more like normal people tomorrow. I have to dance with the Habibi Dancers for a cultural diversity day at Sparrow Hospital. This will be my third year doing this engagement, and it is much fun.

After that I will be able to just go back to my desk and pick up where I left off on the scanning tonight. This is the life.

Folk Fest Dancing Slide Shows on Flickr

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

folkfestdancersm2.jpgFinally I had time to save the last Great Lakes Folk Festival images on Flickr for you. I have three new photosets set up for you to view as a slideshow, and I am officially done with the festivities which happened two lovely weeks ago. (The first time I posted this entry, I did not include my Friday Night photoset. Whoops!)

Friday night we danced to the Louisiana group. They know how to keep people hopping on their feet!

There were a lot of folks we knew in the tent with us that night. While I was taking photos of others, someone I did not know offered to take a photo of us dancing. It’s a nice shot. It was a fun time, believe me.

There is one set of photos showing Saturday night’s dance tent (a Mexican band of a style I’d not heard before, complete with foot stomping as a percussion instrument at times).

That night, the festival saw the best dressed dance audience of the weekend, at least the ones I saw. Check out the photos of the footwear on the audience/dancers. And of the beautiful musician/dancer who was the foot-percussionist.

Note photo below which is my talented young knitting student, A., dancing with our mutual friend Mike. They really were cutting up the rug, dancing up a storm, and having a great time.


My second new photo set is Sunday’s crowd dancing to the polka band (two photos are the chicken dance, a just-folks, silly but fun sort of party entertainment). I had the luck of running into Rae there for a half hour or so and we did the polka together until she had to go back to work.

The first two photos show the chicken dance and the third is a shot of feet: Rae and I doing the polka together. It was much fun! That day was a bit chilly and rainy. Dancing was just the antidote.

Later on Sunday I also spent time with the boy photographer whose excellent candid photos I already showed you. That was during another musical set by the band from New Orleans who we had also heard on Friday night.

Between the two bands on Sunday, there were a LOT of children dancing. I love watching the kids at the festival.

Now, here is a closeup of the percussionist-dancer’s feet. I must say I was as interested in her dress/costume as I was the music and dancing. I *so* love embroidery.


More Knitting on the Road

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Rae and I both had classes cancel for Saturday. We have made the decision to drive down to the Chicago Area for one day, to Stitches Midwest (knitting/fiber-related conference). We made no plans ahead of time so we will go to the market (no time for classes). Our friend/colleague Sarah Peasley is teaching there, we may or may not see her but will look out for her.

A busload of folks planned ahead to go from Lansing, and I think it may be the same day we go (but we are not early birds so they are going first). Of course both Rae and I have been in the knitting business long enough to have friends from all over the country. We will be able to see a few folks we don’t see anywhere else but trade shows.

I hope to get some Indian food somewhere in/near Chicago. I know where to find Devon Avenue which is a sure bet, but it’s not near where the show is. I hope someone will give me a lead on something good that is closer.

The drive is a long haul, somewhere between 4 to 5 hours to that particular location. When I think Chicago, I think less than 4 but this is more. I do love to drive, and I really love Rae’s company. We will take turns driving and knitting, and it will be very good. I am good driving in city traffic so I’ll do that part, and the rest we will play by ear.

I’m excited. Time to sleep, or at least try to sleep. It will be very soon when the alarm goes off!

Fun in Allegan, Michigan

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Rae and I took Sunday last week and spent the day together at Michigan Fiberfest, in Allegan Michigan. It is no surprise that we had a good time, and no surprise that when I bought things they were the color Turquoise. Well, except for the wood item, that is. (Photo below is a garden outside the fence at Allegan County Fairgrounds, visible from the parking lot. Yes, gardens are an artform!)


Here you see what I came home with. At the left of the photo is roving/combed loose wool fibers. I swore I wouldn’t buy more this year, since I havent been spinning much this year. However, Rae is encouraging me to bring my spinning wheel to her shop for slow times and knit-in times. This fiber was so perfect (I love turquoise with just a hint of green in it), and so soft yet shiny, I gave in.
It’s a blend of alpaca, merino and tussah silk. I would love wristwarmers of this, but will have much more fiber than that requires. It’s from Yarn Hollow. That’s my friend Rita from the Grand Rapids area, we met face to face last year at Allegan but she knew me from this blog. Since then we have connected quite a few times.


The two matching skeins are fingering/sockweight yarn from Ellen’s Half-Pint Farm. I love her stuff, I make a point each year to collect something from her. Ellen and her sisters are wonderful folks and the products are consistently lovely.

This particular yarn is 50% wool and 50% bamboo fiber, which is fluffy and shiny and baby-soft. I am dreaming of a tank top or short tee. At 475 yards per 4oz skein, I can probably get any number of styles out of these. I love knitted garments made of thinner yarns, and this will be wonderful next to the skin.

The last item is a hand-turned walnut darning egg by Knitting Notions. It is interesting to me that I did not set out to do this, but the three people I bought from this year I also bought from last year. Last year I was not as stuck on Turquoise and I got wild multicolored sockyarn from Rita and a purplish-magenta handpainted sockyarn from Knitting Notions. And sockyarn (including turquoise) from Ellen.

alleganrestaurantsign.jpgIt was a more relaxed fiberfest than I’ve had in previous years. I had no appointments with anyone, no classes to teach, no obligations. We got there when we got there, we wandered around and said hello to the folks we knew, and then we left when it was good and done.

After we left, we decided to try and find food in Allegan before heading home. Rae and I tend to eat very different foods at home, but I remembered a restaurant from the three years I taught at this festival where I thought we both could find something we would like.

Allegan has rivers and bridges and hills, and the streets meander rather than sit in a grid as in Lansing. That is a bit of a challenge for a citygrrl behind the wheel! Amazingly, I was able to find my way to the place and it was still in business.

The Village Inn reminds me of places I went as a kid, maybe around 1970 or so. It has a very clear small town friendly flavor. A young man probably in high school was our very capable waiter.

The salad bar had pretty good choices for toppings on the iceberg lettuce salad mix. I had hard boiled egg and onion and black olives and carrots, which was a really satisfying meal for someone who normally has to pick and choose because of food sensitivities.

As a side story… I somehow dropped my cell phone (which I did not use all day) in the parking lot of the Village Inn. I realized it was missing that night when I got home. On Monday I started looking at replacement phones, and in the late afternoon I got a phone call from the restaurant. A customer had found it but the inside screen was broken.


The man I talked to at Village Inn sent me my phone back in the mail, and I proceeded to order a new phone. The old phone and the new one arrived on the same day (Thursday). Verizon was able to transfer over my phone list even though it was impossible to see the menus, and I was off and running around 5:30pm on Thursday after having lost the phone around the same time of day on Sunday. It could have been much worse. Thanks to Village Inn!!!

Ordinary Kids, Amazing Gifts

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I have the great fortune to interact with creative kids quite often. Allow me to wax poetic about the kids right now.


Not long ago I was at Rae’s Yarn Boutique just hanging out knitting before riding my bike home again. A few ladies came in and they brought with them a boy of elementary age. He was visiting from Minnesota and his name was Max. (Since I’m not showing his face I’m speaking his name out loud, I usually will not do both.)

We got talking about felted animals, knitted animals, crocheted (amugurimi) animals. Max was into it. He volunteered that he liked to crochet and that he’d made a hedgehog. I expressed an interest and he bolted for the door. His mom figured out that he was going to get the hedgehog so he could “show and tell” at the shop.

I’m so glad he warmed up that fast. Do you see what he did? It is just wonderful, just look at that face!!! Go, Max.


But I’m not done telling of the wonders of kids… in this case, working with yarn. My summerkidz at Rae’s have been doing a great job.

First, notice them working intently last week, and the girl in front (M.) is holding the bottom of what will be a variation of my BabyZig (from the ZigBagZ Mini collection pattern). The bottom of the bag is a checkerboard in two-color stranded knitting, done flat. This means every other row (not very many of them) is purled in 2 colors. She is 12 years old. No sweat, Ms. Lynn!


The next photo is A. with a mini sock. You saw M. holding her mini sock much earlier this summer in a group photo. These tiny sock blockers come with a keychain attached. Rae got a bunch more of them a few weeks ago and they are going fast. In fact, I bought one for my Mom’s birthday gift this year.

The kids are making full-sized socks for themselves, but typically they use fatter yarn (worsted weight) for those. These tiny socks? They are using normal sockyarn and double pointed needles for these. Size 0 or 1 needles (2-2.25mm) are the tool of choice. It is a fussy project and they work in fits and starts, but two of my kidz have done these in the last 6 weeks or so. I told you so… kids are amazing sometimes, if you give them good materials and allow them to follow their inspiration.

I have a good life. Teaching kids to work with yarn is about as much fun as a person can have.


Oh, for the record, A. did not knit the lace shawl she is wearing. Rae knit it, as a store sample. A. wears it every chance she can. It’s in that new Mooi yarn by Louet, of bison, bamboo and cashmere fiber. Incredible stuff. This girl does know the good yarn, for sure!

Spam or Scam, or Both?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

A confusing message landed in my inbox today. Apparently Lynn DT Hershberger is thought (by at least one computer database) to be the name of a Computer Training Company. It is my personal name, which once upon a time was listed in the yellow pages under Computer Training.

For the record, I sold the domain name for my computer consulting business in spring of 2004 (I used a fabricated/assumed business name, not my personal name). I have not been in a yellow pages ad (as a computer trainer) for at least two or three phone books now, and the last several of those years I was listed under the assumed/business name rather than my own.

The only computer work I do these days, is a few hours a week during the school year for Haslett Community ed. I teach retirees (for the most part) how to do relatively basic things such as surf the web, type letters, save documents and print.

Back in 1999, I fully made my living as a Y2K consultant. I’m no longer supporting myself in the computer consulting/training business.

These days, I’m an artist who mostly teaches knitting and polymer clay; who designs knitting patterns and dyes a bit of yarn; who sings quite a bit and dances a little. That is my current job description, just for the record.

So now check out this email I got today. “The Selection Committee” says I can buy an award plaque for my wall, you understand… but do you see for what?


From: “Selection Committee” <contact@uslba.net>
To: Lynn @ Color….com
Date: 19 Aug 2008 11:23:39 -0700
Subject: Lynn D T Hershberger Receives 2008 Best of Lansing Award
I am pleased to announce that Lynn D T Hershberger has been selected for the 2008 Best of Lansing Award in the Computer Training category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).
In recognition of your achievement, a 2008 Best of Lansing Award plaque has been designed for display at your place of business. You may arrange to have your award sent directly to Lynn D T Hershberger by following the simple steps on the 2008 Best of Lansing Award order form. Simply copy and paste this link into your browser to access the order form:
The USLBA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USLBA identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Also, a copy of the press release publicizing the selection of Lynn D T Hershberger is posted on the USLBA website. USLBA hereby grants Lynn D T Hershberger a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, distribute, and display this press release in any media formats and through any media channels.

In order to provide you with the best possible service, you have been assigned an award code that can be used on our website for quick access to your award information and press release. If you have any questions or comments, please include this code with your correspondence.

Your award code is: 9EHFJGH

Ashley Carter

Selection Committee Chair

U.S. Local Business Association

p.s. If the links are not working in this email please copy and paste the following URLs into your browser:

Award Order Form: https://www.uslba.net/A9EHFJGH

Press Release: https://www.uslba.net/P9EHFJGH

The intended recipient of this notification is the Marketing Director for Lynn D T Hershberger. If you have received this email in error please forward it to the intended recipient. If you do not wish to receive further advertisements from USLBA, please mail a written request to: US Local Business Association, 2020 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite #742, Washington, DC 20006 or simply click to opt-out.


When I go to their website I am informed that I need not join the organization to acquire the pictured award, but I need to pay for the plaque. Which funds all sorts of great vague things… blah blah blah.

So be careful, my friends, don’t believe someone thinks you are wonderful if you get one of these messages. They perhaps think your plaque payment is wonderful? It is just a guess, on my part.

They are based in Washington, DC. That means anyone in any city could get this note, with their name plugged in. This is why I decided to talk about it on this blog, where usually things are pretty cheerful.

For the record… I did “opt out” so they would not send me more junk email. I also contacted the BBB Online. I let the organization which sent the email know of my BBB contact. And that I would be talking about their email on my website. They are fully informed at this point, about who Lynn DT Hershberger really is. The person. Me.

I would have loved a real award, of course. This one makes my tummy hurt.

I will have a happier post tomorrow, OK?

(For the record, I’m adding this note on 3/27/2010. Ironically, this old post is getting spam comments unrelated to any of the content other than they are all nonsense. I am going to close comments on this post because of that.)