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Archive for September, 2008

Yippee!

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Geek, Geek, Geek

My computer-database client (originally from Y2K) is happy. They have not needed to call me since November 2006, but something happened and their database corrupted. I was able to combine the structure of an older backup, with the current data in the corrupted database. (Luckily, the data was intact, though the forms and menus were toast.)

They are back in business, and they did not lose a single record. Yippee!

I guess anything you do 40-60 hours a week for a handful of years, will be in the cellular memory of your body. I had not seen this in about two years, but it all came back.

skaterhat12.jpgHats, Hats, Hats

What am I doing to celebrate? I’m knitting. It’s hat month, I guess. I am putting together a top down hat pattern so have knit two of that design while writing up the pattern (see striped hat in gray/green here). It amazes me how different the same pattern can be when knit in different yarns.

Lace… yes, me.

Then I started a (gasp) lace chevron hat in turquoise angora, pattern by Louisa Harding (it has the look of a beret but is knit in rounds rather than short rows). I tried on a sample of this hat when Louisa was at Rae’s this summer, and it’s just right for me. (No photo yet on this one.)

I usually do not like lace… I don’t typically like skin peeking through a bodice, and I tend to be cold anyway. On top of that, most lace is feminine on the girly side. I favor geometrics: triangles, circles, squares and zigzags.

This hat is chevrons, a type of zigzag. No flowers or flounces, though the fabric is ultra-soft and feminine because of the fiber. I have a few angora berets already, and they drape so well and are so warm, that this design is not as far of a stretch as other lace items might be for me.

The angora hat is going pretty well, I am on the fourth repeat of six (four rows per repeat) in the lace pattern. I dropped some stitches while toting the hat in my purse so I’ll ask Rae if she can figure it out. If not, I’ll rip back 4 rows and I’ll be fine. I am pleased that I got this far without needing assistance, since I’m really not an experienced lace knitter.

Does anyone else out there find that the stitch manipulations required by lace just feel tense in the hands? It seems I’m always tugging and manipulating in a way the fabric does not want me to go. For some reason, I don’t like that feeling.

In the end, the fabric will be fine, but on the needles it feels strained and unnatural. Maybe experienced lace knitters get used to that, but I keep noticing it. I definitely wish I had sharper tips on my needles when I’m pushing the yarn around in this way. Usually sharper tips mean split yarn to me… but in this case, they sound like a good choice.

Flat Hat

coldcommutehatside16.jpgI needed to cast on something else, until I could fix that. And then I had a “I wonder what would happen if…” moment when casting on a project intended to just keep my hands busy. I had one ball of slowly-color-changing yarn and needles to work with it, so I started a hat. It was also top down but with a very flat top, starting with a square.

If I did it again, I’d do it differently, with a smaller square, as the top did not transition well enough from square to round. However, the top is indeed flat and the sides look good.

Last night I realized that today was the deadline in my guild to donate to Afghans for Afghans, and maybe the hat would be a good contribution. Except they want as much animal fiber as possible (they do not have automatic clothing washers nor do they have furnaces to stay warm). This yarn is 55% wool and 45% acrylic, really not warm enough for that sort of environment.

Sharing Warmth

coldcommutehat12.jpgSo I decided first to knit it as long as possible to cover chilled ears. Then I planned to line the hat with a loose knit of angora, which is really warm. I can do it on larger needles and thus finish in the available time. Angora is so warm, it does not need to be super densely knit if it’s the inner layer. I’m knitting the angora right now.

It is nice to work on something that does not need to be documented for a pattern or a class or anything. Maybe this idea will turn into something else that is more well-thought-out, but meanwhile someone cold in Afghanistan will be less cold wearing the hat. As someone who believes we’re all related no matter where we live, I’m happy to have time right now to do something for this charity. I’ve donated before but it has been a while since I had time to knit for charity.

One summer I taught CityKidz Knit! at Foster Center and I had two young Afghani immigrants in my class, very nice sisters who knit well. They were here with their mom and brother, and had not been here very long. They did not know what had happened to their father. I think of these girls when I knit for this charity.

Wet but not cold here, yet.

It’s sprinkling rain outside, though I did take a 10-block walk anyway to celebrate the computer repair. I’m glad to have a day without any appointments. I’ll knit a bit, make some food, and then get back to the project for my Mom that I was working on when the computer call came in…

Happy Tuesday!

Quote of Wisdom & Inspiration

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Lose this day loitering, twill be the same story
Tomorrow, and the rest more dilatory;
Thus indecision brings its own delays
And days are lost lamenting over days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Courage has genius, power and magic in it;

Only engage and then the mind grows heated.
Begin it and the work will be completed.
–Johann Von Goethe

Young Musician at Harvest Gathering

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I took far too many photos at Harvest Gathering a few weekends ago. I am wading through them all as I can.

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This photo was taken after breakfast Saturday morning. This youngster is the son of two of our musician friends. He was just stylin’ like a blues cat or something… notice he is in a stroller. They start young these days!

Eastside Bounty

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

pearseastside.jpgI visited Everybody Reads bookstore last week, across the street from Rae’s Yarn Boutique. They had a basket of small home-grown pears at the cash register, free for the eating. Someone, a neighbor and/or customer, had brought them by to share. I thought they were beautiful and took this photo.

This week, there was a basket of pears at Rae’s shop. I wonder if it might have been from the same neighbor. In any case, we are experiencing harvest-time abundance on the East Side right now.

I want you to take half a minute to really look at these pears. Look at all the colors, each is slightly different. One in the middle looks almost bronze or even plum in the shadows. The one closest to front has an area with a blush of orange. The colors of Autumn are not only in the maple leaves!

A Historical Digression

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

I love boundaries. They make things clear and safe for everyone. On this blog, I have had a boundary that I would not talk religion or politics, other than to remind my fellow citizens to vote their conscience.

Yesterday I went to an event that was by all accounts, political. I am including it here because I see it as also a historical event, and I was quite moved to be there.

hillaryclintoncropped.jpgMy mother called Friday night to ask me if I wanted to go see Hillary Rodham Clinton in a nearby town. I had a class cancel so my day was up to me, and so I said yes.

I am a woman, and therefore it is understandable that I might be a feminist. I have benefitted by progress made by women before me. (My grandmothers were not able to vote when they first came of age, even though they were working women and had incomes of their own; my mother was not able to get a credit card in her own name when she was widowed in 1973 even though she had a full-time teaching job; yet I bought a house on my own signature alone in 1992, which was a victory not only for me but for all of us women, in my eyes).

Hillary Rodham Clinton was not the first woman to go after the presidency of the USA. Shirley Chisholm, congresswoman for New York in the 1960’s, went after the presidency in 1972. Wikipedia mentions other women, but Chisholm stood out in the days when I was not yet of age to vote.

However, Clinton was really the first woman who had a reasonable chance to make it. And for that reason, I consider her a historical figure. I got to go see this historical person, live. It was very exciting.

There were about a thousand of us in Grand Ledge’s Jaycee Park, with less than a full day’s notice of the event. It had the feeling of a party. There was a lot of waiting in line, but the weather was sunny and the temperature fine, and everyone was in a good mood.

We had the great luck of being in the very first row behind the rope which contained the special guests with green wristbands. We were very, very close and although it was hard to see all the time, I was able to hold my camera over my head and get good photos.

The actual event was totally predictable. We had the pledge of allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner. We had a prayer (which I don’t understand, if we are to have separation of church and state… another boundary I value although I do belong to a church).

Then we had speeches. One from a local activist, one from Mark Schauer who is running for Congress in Eaton County, one from Jennifer Granholm, Michigan’s Governor, and then from Hillary herself. All political, all relatively predictable (though the local woman really had some emotion in hers that seemed more personal than party line).

Politics or not, it was history. I was happy to have been there.

Please, please, let us not make a conflict here by discussing any politics (or religion) in the comments. Notice I am basically reporting here, though you can imagine that as a female who is therefore a feminist, I may agree or disagree with your own position.

I concede that every position has a point. We all can be correct and still disagree. I do not want to have to close comments on this, and I will go back to happy and more neutral territory tomorrow, returning to my normal boundaries. I just felt that I could not leave out this event in my life, without almost being dishonest… I report the big and not so big events in my life. This one felt very big.

As I learned from 12-step programs, it is good to focus on what we have in common and celebrate those things. We need not ignore that we have differences, but it is best to not focus on those. I do not intend to create conflict, today I intend to report history in my life.

Thank you.

Two Classes this Coming Week

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

For my local readers near Lansing, Michigan, I have two new classes coming up in the next several days. Please register at least by early afternoon on the day before the class, so I am sure to be there when you expect me.

Rainbow-Striped Socks Thursdays 6-8pm, Starts October 2 (three Thurs. nights in a row)rainbowdoublestripesocks16twocolorways.jpg

At Rae’s Yarn Boutique, I will be doing the first session, ever, of Rainbow Striped Socks. This uses the new sockyarn from Noro yarn company (I used Kureyon Sockyarn but you could use Silk Garden Sockyarn instead).

The leg is striped from both ends of the same skein (or two different colorways if you prefer). You could stripe the foot as well, if you were so inclined. With so many beautiful colorways, you could do this sock many times and have very different looks with not much effort.

The structure uses a Toe Up structure, what I think is an improved twist on the First-Time Toe Up sock. It has a heel flap and gusset, which fits quite well on my foot and probably yours as well. I use DPNs but you could just use them for the toe and heel if you know how to use a circular method and prefer that for the tube knitting on the foot and cuff.

Wet Felting, Friday October 3, 6-8pm (one session)

feltbetsyanderin1.jpgAt Threadbear Fiberarts, I’m offering my popular wet felting class. We will start by making a small square which can be used as a “mug rug” as a way to understand the process. Then we will dive in to what interests the students.

We can make large felt balls (they make good pincushions), cover a beautifully-shaped glass or ceramic object, or cover soaps. I will bring basic supplies for that session, and more beautifully-colored wool rovings can be purchased at the store if you wish to continue past the class. If you know you want to make a specific thing, yofeltsoap1.jpgu can bring a base object for that.

Please, if you bring your own soap, choose ones scented as food rather than flowers… I am allergic to most perfume, but tolerate fruit, herb and spice scents well. Thank you for your consideration.

I hope that one of these classes might interest a few of you. Teaching is such joy for me, and I’m a lucky woman to make this my livelihood. You make it happen! Thanks.

Just Words Today

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Running in Circles

What a crazy time it is to start the school year. I do not have children and do not teach in a school classroom, but it still impacts my life. One night a week, I teach community ed Computer classes, but it seems other things in my life also revolve around the seasons, starting in autumn.

I have been doing without sleep trying to catch up on a backlog of computer/desk work. I’m still working on things I thought I’d finish long ago. Time to be living in the present! At least I’m never bored.

Change, and more Change

So much in my life is changing right now. As they say, there is nothing certain in life except change. I discontinued the very-very-beginner computer class, which I’ve been teaching since probably 1993 in one or more locations. It is puzzling to me how hard it was to let go of that.

I have continued with the “exploration” class which reviews basics and then proceeds forward, depending on the interests of the actual students that term. I punt a lot and go where their questions lead, and it works very well. I have sixteen students in that night class, and they take turns thanking me as they leave at the end of the night, waiting in line to say goodbye. I love it.

In Praise of Care

And I have found a wonderful new doctor. My health was very rough last year and I felt I had almost no support. Now I have a new allergist who turned things around for me early this year, and now a new GP.

May I sing the praises of caring health professionals? We hear so many complaints, and I have complained a bit myself, but I can make a list of healthcare people over the years who have changed my life and who have truly loved me with their actions. It is good to feel I’m in that situation again. I know it’s not a bed of roses in that field sometimes, and I really appreciate the caring folks I’ve had the joy to work with.

Don’t Faint

Also, the big news: I am no longer working for my beloved Foster Community Center. This is where I started teaching computers and then got into teaching knitting. I ran my CityKidz Knit! program there for I think six years.

They still love me, and I love them, but between extra paperwork to be re-hired again (I have been a temporary employee, rehired every year since 1993 or 1994), and other considerations, I decided now was the right time to bow out gently.

The yarns still at Foster center will be available to all the kids I’ve knit with thus far, my boss will take them into my old room and let them stock up on yarn and needles and bags. And my program that I’ve had at Rae’s Yarn Boutique this summer will continue at that location.

Sniff… Some Things Say Goodbye

I moved out of my classroom today, with the assistance of one of my knitters and two of her family members. Also I had three kids from CityKidz last spring, who came to collect yarn and needles in bags so they can knit on their own. I have photos of my last day at Foster, and stories to tell but it has been an exhausting day. I need to delay that for now. No photos…hence the title of this post.

…and Some Surprising Things Return

And speaking of change… I started my Friday back at a location where I used to do computer consulting (in 1999, for Y2K). I’ve discontinued my computer consulting (custom databases, corporate training and web design) for at least 4 years now. However, I designed a complex system in Microsoft Access 9 years ago, for them to run their business. It contains dozens of tables, forms and reports. Parts of the system have become corrupt overnight, but the data is still there safe and sound (sigh of relief here).

So I get a call out of the blue, for help. The good part is that I’m back temporarily working with people I really like and haven’t seen much in the last few years. The harder part is to make sure they are ready to go for their deadline October 1.

Whew. It is a little like going to Mexico years after your last Spanish class.`You know how to do it, but you need to think as you proceed for a while. I fixed the first big part but will spend some more time this week getting that healed and happy. Healthcare for the computer, I guess.

Color, Color, Color!

In ColorJoy news, Lansing has turned red and yellow and orange on the edges this week. I noticed my first electric-red tree on Thursday (across from Sansu sushi restaurant on Hagadorn in E. Lansing). Now color is everywhere. It’s still mostly green, but the colors really pop at this early part of the season. Lovely.

…and Eternal Hope on the Part of my Tomato Plants

I have maybe 2 dozen green tomatoes in the three pots on the back step. This happens every year. I have literally picked 3 tomatoes all year, and now one plant has 9 fruits at one time! They sort of crack me up, they are so optimistic! I keep watering them and will do my best to help them along while it is feasible.

Photos tomorrow… I have so many, but no time to develop them properly for the website.

Light Show

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

At the festival last weekend, there were about 4 people who had some sort of fun lights which they could wave around in the dark. The effect was really striking.

harvestgatheringlights2.jpg

It appeared that they changed color, and at least some of them flashed on and off so that they looked like pulses of light. I enjoyed watching this.

harvestgatheringlights3.jpg

I’m not sure if the photos came out well enough for you to get the essence, but I had to try. What do you think?

harvestgatheringlights1.jpg

Autumn Colors, “Up North” Lower Michigan

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

fallcolor1.jpg

We went to Lake City, Michigan this last weekend for a music gathering. On the way up, there were pockets of trees where the color was changing. I took a zillion photos out of the car window. These turned out the best of the bunch.

I do live in a beautiful state, whether the view includes colorful leaves or the expected green. I think that looking at photos like this could be theraputic… maybe even lower blood pressure or something profound like that. Lovely, don’t you agree?

farmupnorth400.jpg

Flowers, Flowers

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

I love to read Kristin Nicholas’ blog, Getting Stitched on the Farm. In recent weeks, I have not been able to read many blogs at all. In fact, I was 11 entries behind on my first-choice read: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Yarn Harlot, which she updates regularly. I have been nose to the grindstone on several projects. All good, but it has kept me from leisure activities for a while.

So when I finally got back to Kristin’s blog, she had several postings about her sunflowers. It makes me almost want more land. Not enough to buy it and tend it and live away from city conveniences, but enough to want more gharvestgatheringflowers.jpgardening. That’s saying something, as often I am a reluctant gardener.

Kristin is modest, but when she showed a photo of her huge bouquet arranged in a sap bucket at the fair, I could not help but notice a ribbon hanging from one of the flowers. I’m thinking she won an award? She doesn’t say a thing.

I had not thought about that bucket shape before, but once she called it a sap bucket, I imagined it was probably for maple sap collection. I used Google’s image search feature to confirm that idea, and it appears I am on track.

So then this last weekend when we headed up north one last time for the final music festival of the year, I noticed an area where thlindsayfeltflowerpitcher.jpgey were storing many, many sap buckets. I wonder how many times I’ve seen them and not realized what it was I was seeing?

Then in front of the Cedar Stage while Jen Sygit was playing, I noticed this arrangement (shown above) just on the ground by the bass player’s feet. In a sap bucket! (I think in my small yard the only thing I grow enough of to fill one of these, is daylilies.)

It’s a little stretch to put these two photos in one blog entry, but I will try. I took this second photo at Yarn Garden in Charlotte. Lindsay decorated the pitcher at one of those party/ceramic shops, and she knit the flowers and felted them. She says they are influenced by several patterns but do not exactly follow any one pattern. Nice job!

Student Projects

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

dorenefirstsock.jpg

What a productive bunch my students have been lately! I have photos here, as proof.

Above is Dorene’s first pair of socks (she did finish both by the end of the night). These are Nashua Snowbird, a bulky alpaca/wool blend that is carolsock.jpgmachine wash/air dry. Personally, I have two pairs I made for myself from this yarn, yum!

The pattern is my First-Time Toe-Up Socks. I am assembling a list of folks who want to take this class and will offer it again as soon as I can find a good time for the group. If you are near enough to Lansing and want to take the class, send me an email at Lynn AT ColorJoyDOTcom

Next is Carol’s first sock. She was in the class with Dorene, same pattern of course.

She chose Louisa Harding Kashmir DK for her socks, an excellent choice. These are thinner than worsted weight but still big enough to see stitches easily while learning a new skill (double-pointed needles). The yarn is great for socks, it wears like iron, and washes/dries in the machine a zillion times without shrinking or stiffening up. I own three pair of this yarn (both Aran and DK weights) and I’ve made Brian a pair or two from it as well.

terihat.jpgNext is Teri’s first project ever, her 3rd class/week with me. Pattern, Wee Welcome Set (which also includes booties and newborn baby sweater) by Knitting at Knoon). Yarn, Berocco Comfort DK, a chained or cabled microfiber nylon/microfiber acrylic yarn which washes well for kids’ wear.

Last (for today, anyway) is Dawne’s (Dawn’s?) sock made of my TipToe Sockyarn, colorway When You’re Smiling. I am smiling, just looking at these.

dawnsock400.jpg

No, unfortunately there is no more of the colorway at this time and may not be again (I don’t repeat colorways very often, and I only dye yarn a few times a year). In fact, right now I am out of this yarn and Rae had one skein left last I looked. (I will be having a dyeing frenzy soon and then will have a big event at Rae’s to celebrate the new yarns, on Sunday November 2, from 11-3. More on that as it gets closer…)

The pattern is by Rae Blackledge of Rae’s Yarn Boutique, a short-row toe/short-row heel much like a commercial sock but without the bumpy toe seam.

Nice job, everyone! This sort of report makes me very sure I am in the right business. Lovely work, every one.

More Artfulness from Mom

Friday, September 19th, 2008

momcake.jpg

Here is another photo from the gathering at my mother’s house. She iced a yellow cake with sour cream (this is influenced from her Norwegian heritage) and then decorated it with fresh fruit.

I am told by family that Norwegians like to decorate food as it is presented on the table. A smorgasbord might contain bowls of potatoes or something, with cherry tomato halves and green peas assembled in some artful arrangement to make it prettier.

It was such an artform that the birthday girl did not at first want to cut into the cake. In the end, she was glad she had done it.

(For the record, the soft-turquoise tablecloth here is closer to the real color than the photo I posted a few days back.)

Artfulness is Everywhere

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

bullethairdryer.jpgMaybe you know I love resale shops. I find some amazing great clothing sometimes because I check them out. I particularly love it when I find hand-embroidered items or fine thin wool sweaters.

This week I had all of 10 minutes to blow on the way between two appointments. I happened to be near St. Vincent De Paul store.

Um, chrome makes me happy. And there between crummy old television sets and desk lamps, I saw this beauty. A bullet-shaped hair dryer from a long while ago. For $59, if I remember right.

I can’t have this, no matter how fun and beautiful it is. My house is full of too many things that I actually use.

Nevertheless, I really appreciated this lovely and well-designed relic of my childhood years. I took a photo and moved on.

A friendly woman looking at dresses stopped me to say how much she enjoyed my colorful clothing. We had a fun 2-minute talk about the joy of color. Again, I moved on.

I did not buy anything. That’s how it goes, sometimes.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

My favorite color is turquoise. My wedding dress was a rich turquoise evening gown by Liz Claiborne, that’s how much I love the color.

So last weekend my Mom had guests. She moved a bigger table into the living room so we could all sit together. She set the table, and I sat down when nobody else was near me yet. I noticed how lovely the colors were. I took a photo.

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And then I noticed. Mom loves color, too, she always has. Her colors are a little more subtle than mine, but not a lot and not always.

Yet here she is. Turqoise/blue/green chair upholstery, soft aqua tablecloth and napkins, greenish-aqua couch. Aqua carpet (which was a brighter variant on the midnight blue theme, for most of my formative years).

Yup. Apple, tree, definitely related. And I do not mind a bit.