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Archive for November, 2008

ColorJoy is sometimes Community

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

brianflowers.jpgIn keeping with my one-way conversation about what the lifestyle/idea of ColorJoy is to me, I will tell you about my birthday at Rae’s Yarn Boutique. It was all about relationship and community. I made cake and offered it to everyone who came in. Some folks were new to me, some were old friends. We all had a lovely time.

I have said often that raising a happy child is an artform, and creating a space for people to connect is similarly an artform. Rae was jus t awarded an honor from the Ingham County Women’s Commission for creating a place where artful community thrives. Here is the content of the press release:

Ingham County Women’s Commission
Honors “Everyday Heroine”
November 24, 2008
Contact: Macie Schriner (517) 803-7779

The Ingham County Women’s Commission is pleased to announce that Rachel Blackledge of Lansing has been honored with the Everyday Heroine Award. Blackledge was nominated for her role nurturing a community of artists as owner of Rae’s Yarn Boutique.

“When she’s not dying (sic) yarn, spinning yarn, or knitting she teaches people how to do all three. She empowers people to create and her store provides a place for people of different skill levels to share ideas and socialize with other fellow artists,” said Commission member Jennie Gies, who nominated Blackledge for the award. “She is nurturing a community of artists one stitch at a time,” continued Gies.

Blackledge will receive the award at the Ingham County Board of Commissioners meeting on November 25, 2008, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ingham County Courthouse, 341 South Jefferson Street, Mason.

The Ingham County Women’s Commission (ICWC) created the award to help recognize women from the county who do extraordinary things. Women strengthen our community every day in a various ways and go unnoticed. This award creates an opportunity to shine a spotlight on those who have had a positive impact in the county.

Of course, Rae is quiet when discussing this. I am delighted for her, being noticed.

I’m also happy because this award is honoring the very thing I’ve been saying for a while: making a creative space or a comfortable, safe environment where people feel at home, is one very special artform.

Creating a community space is not visual, it is not a performance. Because of that, the skill involved is often undervalued. This does not make the accomplishment any less artful or creative.

The Unveiling of the Space Cadet Tunic

spacecadettunic25.jpgI also had much fun in the costuming arena on my birthday. I had finished my “ballet tee” which turned out to be a Judy Jetson-like top that I sort of like calling my Space Cadet Tunic.

For those who missed out on the beginning of this journey, I started knitting the project because I read on Ravelry that at least two people knit the Ballet Tee (a cropped top at 2.5 stitches per inch) in 7 hours or less. I was ready for a quick success, so I swatched and dove in.

I did finish it in something like 28 hours including sleeping and working. However, it was not my style enough to wear it much that way. I looked fine in it, but not good enough. (photo below)

I had enough of the four yarns (I held four strands together to get the blanket-like gauge) to knit another whole cropped top. So I determined to knit the top into a tunic. I wear tunic-length sweaters all winter. I was not sure how I would deal with the no-sleeve part, but I own many shawls and shrugs, so I dove in.

After a few fits and starts, a little ripping and re-doing (remember I was making this up… the skirt part of the tunic was not in the pattern instructions), I like it. It did need blocking to get some funny lumps and bumps out where they were not flattering, but now I think it’s cute.

I found an early-80’s Memphis-esque pin I bought that looks like a cartoon version of a military medal, and added it to the ensemble. I also found some polymer clay earrings I bought in 1991 in Baltimore, that look a little like shooting stars.

With black leggings and a leotard-like 3/4 sleeve top underneath, and some turquoise legwarmers with short black boots, I thought I looked somewhere between Judy Jetson and a 1985 Jazzercise instructor. Just what I wanted!

For the record, anything that is as thick as a wool blanket wrapped tightly around the bodice is warm. Warm enough to not need full length sleeves, even for chilly me. I was fine all day at the shop, though I needed a shawl at home.

(Oh, the hat is a vintage velveteen “beret” which probably once had a veil attached. The inside label said Paris and New York, but that label fell out recently. It was a gift and I enjoy wearing it.)

The flowers introducing this post were from my beloved Brian, for my birthday. It seems the only flowers I can bring inside without feeling allergic, are carnations. And these are magenta, one of my favorite colors. He’s sweet, I tell you.

Big, Huge Thanks!

So thank you to everyone who was part of my birthday, and thanks to Rae for giving us a space in which to gather and connect and thrive. I tell you, between Rae and Altu I don’t know what I would do… self-employed women friends are what a self-employed woman needs, to get by.

I am grateful for such abundance, the Greater Lansing knitting community (our guild often has 30 people at meetings), the shops I work for, the friends I have not only in knitting but dance, music, art, poetry, community involvement and more. Perhaps noticing and appreciating these luxuries in my life is part of the ColorJoy experience.

Where do you see community as ColorJoyful in your own life? Where are your comfortable spots? Is the Internet one part of that community for you? (It surely is for me.)

ColorJoy is sometimes Artful Food

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

pop-nothings.jpgI am going to speak for a week about my own vision for the concept of “ColorJoy.” My theme for the blog is “Art as an everyday attitude.” This includes much more than visual arts, much more than merely visual color.

Color is a term used for tastes and for sounds, even for black and white page layout. For me it is about seeing the best in something, perhaps taking it one step past where it must go into where it can possibly go!

On Thanksgiving we both did some work in the kitchen. Brian starts the chicken and I pull it out of the oven when it’s done.

But earlier in the day, I attempted a disappointing breakfast of Popovers (I think they are not even pop-unders, but no-pops). They are supposed to puff up and have a hollow air center. I am showing a photo here. They look like muffin tops rather than popovers! They were dense as hockey pucks, very hard to eat.

It was a first try, though, and it’s a rare allergy recipe that comes out right the first time. (For the record, these did have eggs, butter and milk but not wheat.)

applecranberrydessert.jpgFortunately dinner was fine and then I made a very nice apple-cranberry crisp from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book (with very few substitutions… it is a wonderful dessert). That was a treat. I love cranberries! I love oats, too. It was a good thing the recipe does not make a lot, because we would have finished off any size very quickly.

Then I proceeded to make two cakes, with no wheat or egg (and no milk other than in the frosting; none in the cakes). And I made frosting for the first time in years, with a confectioners sugar that does not have cornstarch. I will never be able to have corn again, I’m convinced, it makes me feel so terrible… so this one had tapioca starch to prevent caking instead of corn, and I was able to make homemade buttercream frosting. It was a treat (even though I never really have liked frosting very much).

cakesbirthday.jpgWe did not eat the cakes until I took them to the yarn shop on Friday, but I’m including them here because I’m talking of creative food I made on Thursday.

Note in this case, the cakes are not that spectacular to look at. They taste very good, which is the first goal.

They are also the product of many tries to bake a cake that is good enough for anyone, even without allergies… without wheat, egg, milk, corn, yeast, and a bunch of other things I don’t tolerate well. Cooking this way requires a lot of flops and semi-flops before you end up with something you like. These cakes were excellent in texture and taste, though a bit flat looking. I call that a ColorJoy-full success!

What sorts of food make you most creative? How do you see food and the idea of ColorJoy coming together in your own mind/life? Remember, you can comment once per post until Thursday night to enter my contest.

Improving with Time (& a Contest)

Friday, November 28th, 2008

burgerkinglynn.jpgOh, happy, happy day! Today is my 50th birthday. It is also my 6th Blogiversary. I am going to celebrate and celebrate, by connecting with as many people I love as possible.

Past and Present, a Chuckle

For your entertainment, here is a photo taken within a few weeks of the day I turned 18, perhaps even on my birthday. (It was 1976, do you remember the jingle “Hold the Pickle, Hold the Lettuce… at Burger King?)

Below I then offer you a photo taken of me at my early birthday party a few weeks ago. The same house, the same arms out to the sides. Spooky!


I am of the opinion that I’m getting better with time. I am definitely happier and I wear a few sizes smaller in clothing, somehow. My mom looked 30 for what seemed like forever, and I am thinking I lucked out and got a bit of that genetic luck from her.

Yes, I have some arthritis and a pile of allergies, bodies do not get younger even when we look great. However, generally things are so much better for me now, that I have no complaints.

A Plan for My Big Day

I may run errands early in the day if I can wake myself up early… and then I will go to Rae’s Yarn Boutique from 11-6 while that store is open. I’m not working or teaching (except maybe one hour) but I just want to hang out on the East Side, my favorite block in the entire city. I will be with creative folks, some of whom are friends and some will be new to me. All good!

Baking Cakes

I made two cakes (they are in the oven now, at midnight-thirty) to celebrate. It’s pretty simple stuff; just two small, one-layer cakes. I made both of them with ingredients I’m not allergic to, and happily they are quite good enough to share.

One is spice (nutmeg, allspice and clove… no cinnamon) and one is chocolate. They have no wheat, egg or milk. They are tasty. I was inspired by a King Arthur Flour recipe for a wartime ration cake, but had to change a lot of the ingredients to make it work for me.

Rae found me some confectioners’/powdered sugar without corn starch somewhere on the internet, so for the first time since 2002 I will make buttercream frosting. No big deal if you can have it, in fact I’m not all that fond of frosting as a rule. But having it when one hasn’t had it for years, is a lovely gift indeed.

Fun on the East Side

I will socialize and knit on Friday, and no doubt get all wound up and bounce off walls and ceilings (though I’ll do what I can to keep that to a minimum). Maybe I’ll finish up that final bobbin of handspun that I’ve been working on for a year. I’m actually spinning again since Rae invited me to bring my wheel to her shop.

I will wear the now-finished ballet top (well, all but working in ends, I better get busy while the cakes bake). It’s now the Judy Jetson/Star Trek tunic, but it’s really quite fun and funky in a very Lynn way and I’m going to enjoy wearing it. I will get photos if all goes well, and show you the results soon.

The Party that Already Was


Several weeks ago my mother threw a dandy party for me. I am still trying to remember who all was there, and right now the attendee list (from my memory) is at 83. Go, Mom! She didn’t even break a sweat. She made four layer cakes, and meatballs, and a zillion other things. She really enjoyed herself, and I really appreciated that more than anyone can know.

Above is a photo of me with Mom and my brother Eric Oscar (at the party). Thanks to Cynthia for taking the photo!

At the party, there were two jam sessions, one downstairs and one in the sun room. There was food and drink in two rooms. There was knitting and socializing and there were new friends being made.

Mom invited a bunch of folks I haven’t seen in years. There were at least five people there who I’ve known since elementary school. I also continue to receive lovely birthday cards from folks who could not make it.

The party was a wonderful time! THANK YOU, MOM!!!

The Contest

This week I am going to have a contest complete with prizes, to celebrate my Blogiversary. The way you enter is you leave me a comment about what the concept “ColorJoy” means in your life, anything about that idea/concept in your own world. Has coming here made you think of color differently? Did you check me out because of the name?

Do you resonate with the all-creativity focus, “Art as an everyday attitude?” What is ColorJoy to you? It need not be rainbow colors, it can be the color of a laugh.

It can be a happy moment with a child, or music, or an impromptu dance. It can be good food, or building a satisfying relationship. It can indeed be visual, whether knitting or polymer clay, quilting, painting on a canvas or a home.

Dig deep inside to find one answer (or more), and comment with a valid email address (the email is seen by me but not other readers, though if you leave a blog address they will see that).

I will have at least 5 prizes, and at least 2 of them will be made by me personally, either yarn I dyed or something I knit or made of polymer. You never know what you might win, and I promise they will all be things I would enjoy winning myself.

You can leave one comment per post starting with this one, until midnight Eastern Time (same as NY City) on next Thursday night. Each comment is one entry in “the hat” when I start picking names, though you can only win one prize. More comments will give you more chances to win.

Thank you all for being a part of my life. I appreciate each and every one of you. May you also have a pleasant and satisfying day.

Thankful for a Simple Day

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Thankful for Leisure

Today I slept and slept like there was no tomorrow. Today will be defined by leisure. There is no food to cook by a deadline, nobody waiting for us to arrive, no highways to navigate, no worries.

In fact, I woke up early and just turned over and slept for another several hours. This is the first thing to be thankful for today, but not the last.

The Luxury of Experimentation

I tried a new recipe for breakfast. It was a remarkable flop, but having the luxury to try it was a gift in itself.

I tried popovers from a recipe I found on the internet. I can’t have wheat, so I tried a buckwheat flour that has substituted well in the past. All other ingredients I could use without substitution.

However, the recipe thought I had muffin cups/popover pans that held three times the batter! It was for 6 popovers and I ended up with 18 pop-unders or no-pops. They were solid little egg muffins, perhaps, but dense and not an air hole to be found.

Thank goodness for lingonberry preserves! I love these (they are a Swedish berry, and they taste like cranberry but the fruits are tiny like a currant). If you put lingonberries on anything resembling a bread or cracker, your day can turn around in a moment!

The Luxury of No Schedule

firsttomato.jpgI am sort of having an aimless day. I scrubbed the top of the stove because it had been bothering me and I had not had time in the last good while. I tidied the top of the dresser in the bathroom where I keep my jewelry, vitamins and hair ties/barrettes.

It’s so lovely to sort of waft through the house and fuss or pick up where I have not felt there was time recently, and pass by other things just because.

I hope to do some knitting just for me, today. Well, maybe for Brian… but I will skip work knitting for one day. I will do some work on my Mom’s books again, after too long away.

The Luxury of Abundant Good Food

And Brian will make a roast chicken with white yams and onions in the oven (I will assist, but he gratefully will touch the chicken so I do not need to do it). I will probably make a crockpot of quinoa (no need for a rice cooker, I use the crockpot for the job). (The photo here was taken August 10, it was our first tomato of the season and seemed a good photo today.)

I have a goal of a walk today and the sun is already going down quickly. Brian already took a short bike ride today but I think he’ll walk with me as soon as the chicken goes in the oven.

Luxuries: Choices and Friends

We had a very wonderful invitation to dinner today. The people who are at that home right now are really fine folks whose company we really enjoy.

However, the quiet of not talking for an hour at a time, just listening to the furnace blow and the dishwasher run… I crave days like this. Tuesday I had six appointments in one day, all over the city. Today I have none. What more could I be thankful for?

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Here is my gratitude list of the moment:

Brian. Life was good before him, but it’s immeasurably better now.
Color! Especially wild and exuberant brights.
Friends, both in town and online.
Family. We get along well, and that is not a given.
Lansing’s creative community.
Superior healthy food that tastes wonderful.
Time to experiment or just sit still.
Yarn, wool, knitting, creativity of all sorts.
Quiet, for today.
Being alive for one more day; not something to take for granted.

May you all have your own list of good things.

P.S. I will have my 50th birthday tomorrow, which is also my 6th Blogiversary. I’ll spend 11-6 at Rae’s Yarn Boutique, hanging out and hoping to see as many friends as possible. I’m baking tonight so we’ll have a little spread of treats there.

There will be some sort of surprise here, tomorrow, as well, complete with prizes. Please tune in for more details.

And may you have much to be thankful for, even if you are not celebrating the US Thanksgiving day.

Marianne on Photographing your Knits

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Online friend Marianne/Picperfics has written an article on photographing your knits. The article is part of an online magazine I had not seen before, The Inside Loop (covering fiberarts in the UK).

This subject comes up often, and I’m sure many of you reading this will have an interest in the subject. Enjoy!

Polymer Clay Talk/Demo Tonight

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

button16blu.jpgI will be doing a Talk and Demo about Polymer Clay at Haslett Public Library (5670 School St, Haslett, MI 517/339-2324), tonight, Tuesday, November 25 at 7pm. The talk is free to the public.

Polymer clay is frequently used to make beads and jewelry, and knitters can use it for making custom buttons for their work as well. However, the medium goes into sculpture, practical items and wall pieces as well.

I would love to see you there!

(Photo: Sculptural vase I made by covering glass vessel with sheets of polymer clay.)

A Great Day for Kids and Dogs

Monday, November 24th, 2008

The kids across the street were contemplating a snowman today. The snow sticks well but it is not really deep. It’s just above freezing, and this morning the snow came down so quickly you could barely see.

When I came home, the main streets were fine and so was the one in front of our house. However, the side street that our driveway faces, is only 2 blocks long and does not get any traffic or attention. I slid right past the driveway and had to back up to get in properly! Whoops.

It’s not a good day for postal mail carriers (in my area they walk from house to house) or bicycle commuters. The kids maybe make up for that a bit. They are so pleased!


3rd Graders and Knitting

Monday, November 24th, 2008

3rdgraderprojectwithbow.jpgI am working with a 3rd grade teacher in East Lansing’s Red Cedar School (I love that she has a significantly international class, being near MSU family housing). I am slowly working through all her kids, an hour at a time twice a week, until they all get to learn knitting from me.

I’m fortunate that I have a friend who knits who is also going to this school with me. She helps the kids with their “hiccups” while I teach new kids. If I were alone, the new kids would have to wait a longer time before seeing me.

A 3rd grader typically learns knitting one-on-one. They don’t watch and then copy when it comes to fine motor skills. I sit them in a chair, I stand behind them, I put my hands on their hands and we knit together while saying a poem which reminds them of the order of movements. Then I keep saying the poem, let go of their hands, point while they move, then I stop pointing and ask them to say the poem alone.

3rdgraderprojectblueboy.jpgAt that point, I start with another child and they go practice alone. Some kids go on well, and some forget and we start over.

But this age is totally clear about the magic of taking two “sticks” and making fabric with “string.” They love it, they are excited to make very imperfect pieces with me.

I tried a new project with this group. I gave them nine stitches and they knit for a while, then taught them to decrease at the beginning of each row until they had a sort of “house” shape. Then we sew up the edges and they have a small pouch of sorts. their needles are made of dowels which are relatively large in comparison to the yarn, so the pouches are full of holes and not good for much more than maybe a penny. They don’t mind, they just like finishing things.

Here are the first two photos I have of finished projects. One little girl, whose mother knits at home, brought a bow to sew on her project. It looks so nice!

I think I still have 5 kids left to teach, I will hope to get 3 more on Monday. We lose a day together because of Thanksgiving, so some will have to wait until the following week.

I’m sad about that, but what can I do? There is one of me, and they each need one-on-one time, so it will take a while. The teacher and my friend are able to help the kids once they get going. They will keep it running after I am out of the picture.

For the record, just as I was losing faith that I would ever get all the kids knitting, I came into the room and a little boy in the back (who has a hard time staying focused, it seems) saw me come in and exclaimed, “Knitting!”

Then when I was getting ready to go, the kids were in the hallway putting on their coats for recess. And what did I hear, but multiple voices jubilantly reciting the knitting poem out in the hallway!

UP through the Front Door,
Dance AROUND the back,
DOWN through the window,
And OFF Jumps Jack!

More Student Works

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Last Saturday (November 15), I taught a Polymer Clay Gifts class at Threadbear Fiberarts. I had a full house and we had a lot of fun.

One student that day was someone I befriended years ago thanks to the internet, and we had not seen each other for several years. It was really wonderful to have her drive an hour and be in my class. What an honor!

Here are some trays of the student works, on the way into or out of the small oven I carry for use in these classes. The round things are lids for glass jars, and the sticks are pens without the inside ink-holding piece. There were a good number of experimental pieces in this class, as well. Yeah!

This was a particularly prolific class. The goal was to create and take home as many finished gifts as possible, so we spent less time on polymer clay concepts/methods and more time on making things. They sure did accomplish the gift-creation goal, don’t you think?




Habibi Dancers, Riverwalk Sat. & Sun.

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

I’ll be dancing tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 2pm at Riverwalk Theatre in downtown Lansing. Habibi Dancers and Riverwalk are doing a joint fundraiser show, with experimental pieces and a few invited guest dance troupes.


This time of year is really busy for me so I’m only in 2 troupe numbers. It will be a full 2 hour show, with many excellent pieces.

The cost is $20, no reservation necessary.

(I’m in purple, kneeling in front row.)

Doug Berch Free Concert Saturday

Friday, November 21st, 2008

dougberchsm.jpgFriend/ Musician/ Instrument Builder Doug Berch writes:

I’ll be giving an in-store performance at Elderly Instruments this Saturday at 12:00 PM. I’ll be playing music on mountain and hammered dulcimer from my two new CDs.

The performance will be 30-45 minutes or so.

Elderly Instruments
1100 North Washington
Lansing, MI, 48906 USA

After the performance I’m offering a workshop called “Everything You Wanted To Know About Hammered Dulcimer But Didn’t Know Who To Ask.”

Doug is an excellent musician and just a wonderful person besides. I have both of his new CDs and found myself singing his music for days after listening… If you are in the Lansing area, this is a real opportunity to hear a pro.

Student Projects: Chippy Sock Class

Thursday, November 20th, 2008


I taught a class of five at Yarn Garden a few weekends ago, and we knit my Chippy Socks. We had one day together and had a blast.

I always am fascinated by how the color choices of each knitter will impact the mood of the final piece. Color study is an endlessly interesting topic to me, and here you see what I am talking about.

The above photo also shows the impact of personal gauge. Everyone was using the same type of yarn (Cascade Fixation) with the exception of one (the natural greens are O-wool Balance). Fixation is an unusual yarn which takes a little getting used to, it has lycra in it which really makes it extra springy. So here you can see the tiny sock in the middle… and it is merely 4 stitches smaller than the three still on needles.

The knitter of the tiny sock just had a smaller gauge/tension with this yarn than the other knitters did. I find that this yarn when specified at 6.25 stitches/inch, can require needles from size 2 to size 6 depending on the knitter. Other yarns typically do not show that sort of variance between us, but the elastic changes things.


In any case, I hope you enjoy the joyful color and exhuberance these photos bring to me! Happy Thursday.

Pumpkin Soup, Repeat from Dec. 2002

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Lorraine sent me a comment saying she could not get to my pumpkin soup recipe from an old link. Since I moved my blog to WordPress (from Moveable Type), the links to old archives are not working properly, sigh.

But she is right, this is the perfect season for pumpkin soup, and it is so quick and easy you need not wait for a leisurely day to make it. So I am re-posting it here, six years later (with minor edits). I hope a few of you enjoy it!

LynnH’s Easy Pumpkin Soup

1 small can (1-3/4c) Pumpkin (not seasoned pie filling)
1 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
2-1/2 cup Broth (I used “Imagine” brand organic chicken broth from the health food store, which is incredible. You could use vegetable broth; the better quality, the better the soup.)
4 Tbsp Nut Butter (I like almond butter best. Pumpkin seed butter works if you are tree-nut allergic, but it is hard to find and expensive. Or try tahini from a Mideastern grocery, it’s sesame seed butter! I think peanut butter is overpowering but you might disagree.)
1/4 tsp marjoram (or oregano)
generous dash allspice
1/4 tsp white pepper (this ingredient just makes a creamy soup right)

Heat all ingredients slowly, stirring frequently with a wire whisk until nut butters are evenly distributed. Continue to heat at a low simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Serve with a dash of nutmeg, biscuits of your choice or bulgur-lentil pilaf (contains gluten), and a steaming cup of tea.

I almost forgot…

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

It’s 2 weeks past Halloween and I forgot… I have a photo of a friend, Stuart, peeking out of the bat he built in his yard. Notice that where he peeks out of the mouth, he is higher than part of the roof of his house (house is on left). Cool, huh?

Creativity comes in many flavors. This guy is creative in many ways, but perhaps Halloween is his biggest thing. It looks like it from this photo, anyway.