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Archive for January, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

…I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American 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.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…

…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character...

May your Dream never die.

Christy’s Finished Legwarmers

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

legwarmersbychristyaalone.jpgChristy bought my “Road-Tested Legwarmers” pattern in early December. Her daughter had asked for black and white striped legwarmers and Christy was eager to make them for Christmas.

I got an email from Christy this week. She says she bound off the legwarmers at 1:00 am on Christmas morning. The good news was that her daughter just loved them! Now another daughter wants purple ones, so clearly this was a big hit in theirlegwarmersbychristyondaughterairbrush.jpg house.

I’m grateful for the permission to show you all these photos. It sure does look like the young lady likes her gift.

Thank you for sending the photos, Christy! I just love it when folks send me photos of their projects made with my patterns and/or yarns. I hope I never get over that thrill of seeing my ideas played out in real life!

LynnH’s Practical Needlework

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Sometimes, if you have knit socks for a number of years and you faithfully wear your handknits… you get holes in those socks. The holes in your “babies” make it so you can’t wear them any more. It’s a sad state of affairs.

Sometimes, if you are ColorJoy LynnH (me) and were lucky enough to learn how to darn socks in about 3rd grade from your talented and skilled mother, you sit down and darn those handknits so you can wear them again.darnedsocks33.jpg

Sometimes (almost always) if you are ColorJoy LynnH, you add more color to the socks when you repair them. After all, the repairs do not show when you wear the socks in shoes or boots.

The contrast is easier to see while you work, but it also makes the socks a little bit like puppies with multicolored spots in non-symmetrical places.

Sometimes, when you see the multicolored patches, you smile from knowing you got to keep your socks longer. Sometimes you feel a little happy and perhaps a bit smug for knowing such a cool trick!

Sometimes people around you do not understand at all. Sometimes they give you funny looks while you are repairing the socks with the “wrong” color.

Sometimes you wonder if those folks have less fun than you do as a general rule, or if it just has to do with a difference in preferences for the color of darning repair yarn. You will never know.

—–

The results of the story are shown above. There is nothing particularly glamorous about this photo. I’d say that *to me,* it is a luxury photo, though. How many people have access to handknit garments, made to fit them perfectly?

The purple socks at top are mine, knit from bulky 100% washable wool sweater yarn. They are super warm, but this yarn was not created to last long as socks. They are afterthought heel socks which have not been blocked, so they look funny flat on a table. They fit my feet like a glove.

The light teal socks are Brian’s. This yarn is very durable. (Louisa Harding Kashmir, a blend of merino wool, microfiber and cashmere which is totally washable/dryable by machine.) I’ve knit at least 4-5 pairs with this yarn in either the Aran or DK weights.

Unfortunately, this specific pair is just a little on the snug side, and since the structure also fits very closely (afterthought heels), they stressed out a little early from being pulled taut while being worn. These fit Brian perfectly but the yarn is just a little less “sproingy” than standard sockyarn and that issue hastened the need for small repairs.

Brian and I are happy to have some thicker favorite socks back in circulation in our sock drawers again. It is the right time of year for fatter socks! I am happy to see more colors, many more colors, in my sock drawer. How nice that it doesn’t take much to get me to smile!

Quisp Knits!

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Does anyone out there remember Quisp cereal from the ’70’s? Brian was entertaining himself tonight watching old commercials from that era, and started watching a bunch of cereal commercials. (Hey, Mikey!)

I remember liking Quisp cereal back when I ate such things. Well, a commercial he found for that cereal has knitting in it. It’s short and it’s funny, at least to this knitter. Never mind that it is pretty unusual to “Knit 1, Purl 2” as so many non-knitters will recite, including this commercial. Still funny.

Here it is: 1970’s Commercial for Quisp Cereal, on YouTube.com


Brrr

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

We have had a lot of snow here lately. In Lansing, usually we get snow and then we get a thaw so the snow goes away. Then we get more snow. So usually it does not build up.

This year there has been more snow than usual and very little in the thaw department. Here’s my car at the grocery last Monday:

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Do you see the pile of snow at left? That’s my bug, second car back. The snow was taller than the car.

Right now parking lots are shrinking, because snow is taking up space usually used for vehicles. And then last night? It was -17F (-27C) at Capitol City Airport just before 1am last night. Brrr! Right now it has warmed up to about 10F (-12C).

One big problem with temperatures this low, is that ice remains on the roads. When it is closer to the freezing point, salt on the road will melt ice. At this point, the ice is shrugging off any salt, it’s just an ice skating rink on the highways sometimes.

Last Wednesday I was on my way to dance rehearsal and had to stop for a main road. The pickup truck behind me could not stop. Fortunately, he was able to steer just enough to go around my car to the left. He slid to a halt, with his headlights in line with the center of my car (in the oncoming-traffic lane).

Fortunately for all of us, nobody was coming toward us and nobody got hurt. I’m sure the pickup driver had a serious adrenaline rush right about then! Whew! I sure don’t need to give up my car to a body shop right about now, and I don’t have enough savings to buy a new one. My car hit 137,000 miles and 11 years this week. She’s in spectacular shape, both in looks and repair, but I’m pretty sure the blue book doesn’t think much of her value.

So today we are supposed to get snow. They say 3-5 inches. Around here, 3 inches is sort of normal but 5 inches slows down the world. I am hoping for the low end. Seems lately they predict the worst and we get the best, so it’s possible. Right now it’s almost noon and no snow is falling.

It seems all we talk about is weather these days. Well, weather and wool knitting. I’m slowly working on that pair of socks, they don’t look much different than the last photo. I had a mitten knit except for a thumb so I finished it last night and will send it to Yarn Garden in Charlotte for a sample. We’re doing a mitten one-day party on President’s day, so a sample will help people picture our project of the day.

And with that I’m off to Rae’s to take inventory and teach toe-up socks. This is week 3 of a 3-week class. Here’s what the table looked like at the end of class last week:

sockclassraesjan09.jpg

Crayon Week: Exhuberance without Fear!

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Let’s Play!

I have been holding in an idea and it has decided to burst forth. I asked you guys at the beginning of the holiday season, what you do to create calm and balance when you don’t feel calm or balanced. I got a LOT of great answers. The one that really stood out as far as being different than all the others, also resonated as true.

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Kristi said that she colors with her two toddler boys after dinner. This reminded me of the days when I had a roommate who liked to color, and I mean she was probably not quite 30, I was not quite 40.

We used coloring books, so we did not have to plan or worry about what to draw. We just rubbed those crayons back and forth in areas on the page, enjoying the repetitive motion and the joy of choosing the next color.

I remember in those days we bought every crayon box we could find. There were metallic ones like car paint, there was glitter, there were multitudes of skin tones from pale tan to beige to burnt umber. The skin tone crayons are hard to find except at a teacher-oriented store, I’m sorry to say.

We each had our own 64-color box plus we shared a number of the small specialty crayons. It was a really great way to spend an evening after dinner when the weather was not nice enough for a walk.

Art from the Heart

Well, this week I was looking at some things I had moved too quickly out of my classroom at Foster Community Center. I have an awful time letting go of drawings kids give to me. I mean, those drawings are pure love.

One of the drawings I had on my wall for years, had a rainbow in crayon showing when it was up on the wall. But the other day I saw the back of it, for the first time in years and years. And I just fell in love with it. See it at the beginning of this post.

I can’t read it all, but this kid seems in love with life. At the top I think the intent was to say “My favorite color is green.” I also think I see the cryptic “Granny birthdays on May 20 First.” Adorable. We have “I love my family very much. I also see something like “My har(hair? hand?) is gree?” I think things got sillier at the bottom of the page.

Then look and see if you think I have it right. Is the bottom right corner SpongeBob Squarepants, perhaps?

The background shows a huge turtle-like shape and a girl in red dress. I think this is particularly wonderful.

It is Our Turn

So here’s the assignment. Get out at least two colors of crayons, more is better. If you have no crayons and no way to get any, look for big-tipped markers instead. Anything you can find in multicolors is good. One red pencil and one purple ballpoint pen is better than not playing along.

Find as big of a paper as you can, twice the size of copy paper is best, though I may have to go with copy paper since I’m not sure I have anything else here these days.

Then draw. It is suggested by some that if you want to really let go of perfection in a drawing intended to help you let go, you can draw with the hand you do not use to sign your name. Another method I’ve used is to draw a circle centered in the page as big as I can get it, then start sort of doodling around/inside the circle, making it be whatever it wants to be.

If you do not want anyone to see it, toss it out. The point is to do something that does not matter and that has nothing to do with perfection or your normal artform.

For me, anything I create for my work or my typical artforms, I am picky about. I sometimes say “my name is on it” and that means I have to fuss over details. I do leave “hiccups” in socks that I wear, but not in any that go on display as samples in yarn shops, for example.

Crayons have nothing to do with my business. I will do this exercise myself. I will attempt to follow my own advice and draw for the pure joy of moving my hand and seeing color on the page.

Only if You Choose…

If you want to, post it on your blog or Flickr. If you want to, send me a .jpg and let me know if I can post it here. If you have it on your own site, you can write me if I can put a copy of it here for others to see/enjoy.

No fussing allowed, OK? If you find yourself reworking an area to make it prettier, start again with another piece of paper. Consider doing this with eyes closed. Consider playing music you haven’t listened to in years. Consider playing that music really loud and dancing to a song or two before sitting down to draw.

Anyone want to join me?

Relationship is Everything

Friday, January 16th, 2009

Well, I just lost half of a long post, and undo won’t fix it. I’ll have to fix that entry but meanwhile I need to post and do the rest of my day.

So I will wax poetic about the relationships in my life. In the end, what matters most to me are the relationships I have in my life. Once long ago I had relationships that were not balanced and equal. I had to do more than the other party in order to feel equal. Ugh. This is one very big reason why I’m happy to be past age 30 (I’m 50 now) and settling into who I am.

fourhabibis400b.jpg

The more I’m comfortable with the real me, the more I am surrounded by people who think the real me is someone good to spend time with. I like this life.

So I’ll show you a photo of myself at lunch the other day with dance friends. This is me, Brandi, Isabel and April. April is Isabel’s mom. They used to live across the street from me, but even before that, Brandi April and I danced together. We had a very fun late-holiday brunch together that day at Gone Wired Cafe. One of the folks who works there took our photo in front of the ocean mural.

We look happy. We were! I have a good life.

KnitCircus!

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I just found an independent fiber-creativity publication through an ad they took out in Ravelry. (Thanks, guys.)

It’s published by a group of fiberartists in Madison, Wisconsin, which is a pretty artful town. I’ve spent some fun time there, and enjoyed some excellent meals as well!

I know no more than what I learned on their home page. However, I’m impressed with the stylistic range of the projects. There is knitting (from fairisle cardigans to tank tops) plus sewing and at least one issue has a recipe or two. Creativity in many realms is definitely my cup of tea.

If you are curious, go check out KnitCircus yourself.

New Yarns in My Shop

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

seasidecushy200.jpgFor those of you knitters who read this blog but don’t live near Lansing, Michigan… I just loaded a bunch of handpainted yarns on my shop. Most are Cushy ColorSport, a DK-weight machine wash/machine dry merino wool which comes in half-pound skeins. This was the first yarn I decided I wanted to put my name upon it. The stuff is just plain wonderful… like little smooth springs. Yum.

I also put up a good number of “oddballs” wvioletflame300sharp.jpghich are skeins that don’t fit my standard put-up. Most are odd because they are smaller skeins than my normal skeins. Many of today’s oddballs are my TipToe Sockyarn in all sorts of fun colors, many semi-solid for colorwork (or heels/toes) fun. A few are nearly full skeins, plenty for women’s socks (at a better price).

oddaster100.jpgOddballs are also good if you want to try a yarn but don’t want to buy a full skein to swatch. There are a few skeins of the Cushy ColorSport, for example, which is pleasant yarn but maybe you are not sure if it is a good match for a particular pattern you want to knit.

greens248yd.jpgIf you live in Lansing, Rae’s Yarn Boutique has every Cushy ColorSport color I’m listing here, except for Jo’s Garden (pink/purples). If you can buy at a local yarn shop it is good to do it. Therefore, locals please come down to the brick and mortar shop at 2004 E. Michigan Avenue in Lansing, rather than to my website shop. You can touch the yarn there, which is an extra bonus, and you save on shipping as well.

If you need a belly laugh…

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir.

Just the name is funny. But an art car with 250 singing fish and lobsters? You must see this! When you get to the page with photos, look at the links on the left navigation bar for video clips. Just plain hysterical in motion!

sushisara.jpg

The photo? The bottom right dish on the plate, rolled up pinkish fish in a safety belt made of seaweed? That’s salmon sashimi. (Nothing to do with an art car except a shared word.)

Yeah, I eat it about 1-2 times a week. I never eat steak, though. I don’t like steak. I think sashimi is a better dinner. Your mileage certainly may vary. You must admit, though, that this platter was created by an artist with food!

Ribbed Continental Cast On

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

guitarhatalpacasilk125.jpgRita on Ravelry has knit a few of my Guitar Hat patterns. She has been casting on in continental/long tail for the first few (the hat shown here was cast on with all knit stitches since that’s how I specified the pattern… it would lie flatter if cast on in rib).

I made a mention in the pattern that if you know how and want to do it, you can cast on in rib. She wrote to ask me how to do it.

I found a video showing a Knit 2 Purl 2 long tail cast on. Since it teaches you how to do both a knit and purl stitch for the cast on, you can adjust it to any sequence you like. The Guitar Trim hat calls for a Knit 3/Purl 1 rib which is my own personal favorite, since it is very flat looking (and it does not mess up stripes as much when knitting socks in self-striping yarns).

Perhaps some of you would like to visit this excellent cast-on video. (FYI: some of the written text on the page is not in English, but she speaks in English when walking you through the process in the video.)

Thanks for Your Input

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

I really appreciate so many of you commenting when I asked for opinions on which ad I should run. If you missed that post you can link directly to it here.

I chose this image, at least for this time:

Bottom line, I like the layout of the ad better than those split up the middle with a smaller photo. I also really appreciated the input from several of you (some off comments) that these look more friendly to shapely legs.

Part of me wanted more color in the shots. Part of me wanted it to look like dancewear, part of me wanted it to look like fashion. The layout and curvy-leg issues were the deciding factors in the end decision.

The first three photos showed me (non-curvy legs) as model. The model in this particular photo at left is my friend Marie, in the dance room where we rehearse. I knit her legwarmers to test my knit-to-fit formula for legs more curvy than my own. (I also had a few test knitters try it as well.)

She’s barefoot because we normally dance marielegwarmerclass33.jpgbarefoot in our troupe, for those who asked about that. In the second photo you see Marie at rehearsal last week, wearing the same legwarmers.

My Long Love-Affair with Legwarmers

For the record, I’ve been a dancer all my life. Not a great one but a constant one. I happen to be good at one type of dance now, but it took decades to find my niche.

I tried ballet, jazz, modern, tap (perhaps you noticed that the photo #1 with me wearing heels… the heels were tap shoes). Meanwhile, any music and I was moving to the beat even if it was not an official dancing event.

A digression: I remember thoroughly embarrassing my Goddaughter dancing in line at a Wendy’s once when she was about 11 years old. She said I was weird. I told her “You like me that way.” Her eyes got big as saucers, as she realized it was true. Her mom says that after that moment, when other kids told her she was weird she replied “thanks.”

Well, as a dancer, legwarmers look normal and attractive to me no matter what fashion says. I have worn them off and on since the 1970s. When they became more available in colors besides black and ballet pink, I started wearing them more regularly.

Those of you who know me only here online, don’t see how I dress every day. Now that I can knit my own colorful wool legwarmers, they are part of “my look.” From about late September through April or May, you will find me in snug leggings and legwarmers every day. Sometimes I am really colorful as seen below and sometimes more the way you see Marie dressed above.

torontolynninstreetcar100forravelry.jpgI get cooooold in Michigan, even when others are not chilly. In winter I even have a few pairs that fit over pajama bottoms so I can sleep in them.

The surprise is not that I came out with a pattern, but that it took this long to get finalized. I was determined that it should be able to fit all legs, any curve, any size. Until I could figure out a formula that worked for everyone, I delayed the release of this pattern. It took two years from my first prototype to publish date.

And now I have it right! I am confident that anyone can use my pattern to knit a pair that actually will fit properly. I’m very proud of that, and the delay was worthwhile.

For those who are on Ravelry, look for the ad on the Patterns page from February 1-15. Thanks again for your input.

Equilateral Vest

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

equilateralonlynn33.jpgI talked about maybe going back to my Lucy Neatby Equilateral Vest project in January. I’ve done a little, though it needs to be alternated with other things that won’t take as long to figure out.

First I sewed all the seams and worked in all the ends. Then I blocked it nice and flat. The photo below (of just the vest) is while it was blocking. If I were to do this project according to the pattern, I would need to do four non-standard triangles (shoulders and front center) and then an edging, which I think is attached I-cord.

I took the photo of me in the vest, before I finished all the sewing/blocking. You can see that it will be very nice once I finish the half-triangles.

It actually does fit me, if I just would wear something that short. I’m a tunic-length person because I prefer stretch leggings instead of jeans. I started another set of triangles which will be two rows underneath the vest I’ve already knit. That may be long enough, it may not. I have lots of yarn and will knit to add length until I will actually wear it.

I’ve knit 7 new triangles so far. They are very satisfying. However, if I’m not paying attention I can easily pick up stitches on the wrong side of the triangle and end up with the need to rip and try again. Luckily, these are like potato chips and every single triangle is a delight to make.

equilateralvestjan09-400.jpg

It will be a long time to finish this, as my business can’t wait for me to play, there is so much to do right now. But I was able to make a few triangles out and about the other day. There’s little knitting going on when I am actually at Casa ColorJoy, but I can knit when I’m out of the house sometimes.

OK, today is a work day. Two hours at the desk doing admin/finance stuff, then I’m going down in the studio and putting pretty colors on yarn. Have a good one, whatever you do.

Teaching Makes Me So Happy!

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Tonight I taught my first computer class of 2009 , at Haslett Community Education. I spent about a decade as a computer professional, full time. At this point, I am down to 2 hours a week teaching computers and the rest of my work life is spent in one or the other of the arts, whether instructing, writing or performing.

But really, teaching is its own artform. I was gifted with two parents who were exceptional instructors (Mom hasn’t stopped yet). They explained well to me, and somehow I learned how to explain well to others, even at a young age.

Teaching is a lot about intuition, some knowledge, relationship and specific teaching skills. We had training sessions on how to teach when I was a corporate computer trainer, for which I am still grateful.

So tonight I had thirteen people in class. Most are retirees, 8 were women and 5 were men (that is a higher proportion of men than usual). Eight have taken at least one term with me in some previous term. I joke that in community ed, there are no grades for the students, but if I do a good job some will choose to come back again because time with me is worth the effort.

I just plain love teaching. Sometimes before I leave home, I think “I just can’t bear the thought of teaching right now.” Then I get there, and I somehow become my best self.

I become more alive, more focused, more clear every minute I’m in front of the room. It seems the larger the group, the more effective I get (there were over 80 at Schulers last week and it was wonderful). I never would have imagined this, but I am happy with the situation!

I spent a lot of years not really knowing what I wanted to do when I grew up. I’m not sure if I’m grown up yet, but I am more clear about what I do best. Sometimes I say I’m a “professional explainer.” It’s a skill not everyone has.

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The Legacy

My father taught Communications. I remember in one class he put handouts on the chairs in the classroom before any students came in, then he sat at the front of the classroom with his feet up on a chair and waited to see what happened.

The students waited until it was clear that he was not going to lead, and soon enough the students were leading their own class based on the handouts. They spent time after this experience, evaluating how the roles of different folks in the room had evolved and what roles there were in the whole process.

One year Dad explained that each student needed to do something special to help him remember their name. Someone brought him a small goldfish bowl with two goldfish in it, and they were named Rosencrantz and Gildenstern. One guy went up and kicked dad in the tush, then shook his hand and said, “Hi, my name is —-.” That was a very effective way for that guy to stand out in Dad’s mine, and he was a bit impressed.

Mom teaches children to read. She works on not only English words that are on the list required by the powers that be, but also the value of coins: a nickel is 5 cents, a quarter is 25 cents.

My Grandma Illa (Mom’s mother, photo at left) was teacher at a one-room schoolhouse in Minnesota for years and years. When she retired, they closed the school because they could not find anyone willing to replace her.

She taught every student to play piano as well as their other subjects. When she died, I remember how many students came to the family visitation and said how they really appreciated the piano training far into adulthood.

My Mother’s father also was an educator. My mom has a sister who is an award-winning educator. I tried SO hard to be a secretary or something, anything that was not what my family did. And in the end? I’m good at what I’m good at… and I’m old enough now to embrace my destiny.

No pictures of me teaching, so here in addition to Grandma is an impromptu still life photo. This was my kitchen counter last week, and I took the shot without moving one item from its place.

Mom gave me the four colorful containers in the background a few years ago. The cookie jar was a wedding gift, and the rest of the items I’ve collected over the years (except for the tea which was a Christmas gift, no breakfast tea lasts long in this house).

For the record, that tiny red globe is a tomato that started on my porch in the warm season. It did turn red but it did not look quite edible and I ended up tossing it last week. I sure smiled to see it red in January, though!