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Archive for May, 2009

An Entire Village, Knit to Scale

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Diana/Otterwise does it again. She shares a link to a group of UK knitters who knit their entire village, including kids hanging at the bus stop and folks playing a game of cricket on the lawn.

Visit Otterwise for more…

Artcar Blog

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Diana/Otterwise found this fun blog:

Artcar Central

I think my favorite is the series of pig vehicles… pink with noses and ears. Among them is an old VW Bus, an old VW Beetle and also a New Beetle (like mine but pink and with eyelashes).

Quotes from Peter London: No More Secondhand Art – Awakening the Artist Within

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Peter London’s book really changed my look at who I was and whether I might really be an artist. The book is a slow read if you really want to “get” what he is trying to say. It is worth the effort.

The techniques of Monet or Degas can be copied; their principles of design are not obscure, they can be learned. If you want them for yourself, you can have them — for a price. And the price is dearer than you may think. Not only will you have to put in at least as much time as they did in developing these same skills, all your living days, but the real price you will have paid is that you will have succeeded in becoming them, and will have missed becoming you.

The pursuit of the beautiful holds such an ancient and venerable position in the arts that we often fail to notice the inherent limitations of this notion and the price it exacts from practitioners and viewers alike.

The most obvious problem with making art synonymous with beauty is that they are really are two distinct terms referring to two entirely different objectives. The term art refers to a category of human activity. The term beauty refers to a quality of human activity, natural objects, and events. Art is the making of expressive symbols, something all humans do spontaneously and for the most part effortlessly. In contrast to the natural ease of image making, the making of beautiful objects requires a level of skill and knowledge that only the few ever exhibit. Therein lies the problem: so few people who attempt to capture the beautiful ever do so. Beauty is cherished in part because it is so rare, so difficult to achieve, and so elusive. The necessary rarity of beauty causes the few to be elevated, the many to be intimidated, jealous, and too often demeaned. For every winner in the beauty contests of art and life there are legions of losers, second-rates, honorable and not-so-honorable mentions. The inherent difficulty of approaching the beautiful causes trepidation for most people willing to engage in art, and trepidation can’t help but inhibit full expression.

Image is a self-addressed envelope I embellished, using original soft block prints (most made from carved erasers), back around 1998 or 1999. It is not perfect, it is not beautiful, but it is 100% LynnH in all ways, and that is why I chose this image for these quotations.

The World Beach Project

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Anyone can participate in this worldwide call for art. Create an artpiece, using stones as the visual medum, on a beach. Follow a few simple guidelines (listed on the site linked below).

Take/choose 3 photos of: 1) the beach, 2) the process, 3) the work. Upload photos to a website where others are uploading their photos, too.

I think it’s cool. I found it on the Victoria and Albert Museum’s textile page. While looking for something else, of course. (For the record, this museum website is absolutely wonderful.)

The World Beach Project was conceived by V&A Museum Artist in Residence, Sue Lawty.

Read more about the World Beach Project and how you can participate… or not.

A Wake Up, a Memory

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

My life has never been better. My existance is not glamorous, it is not fancy. This life is on the order of “just folks,” and unfortunately too much complaining… about things that in the end do not matter.

I do work I love, I am surrounded by people I care about and who care deeply for me… and my husband loves me. What else could I want?

Humans are idealists, when it comes down to it. I find myself worrying about money or complaining that I have too much to do. I think that is because I often believe that there is such a thing as “perfect.”

Perfect is not a useful concept in a real life, it drains my energy and keeps me focused on what is NOT rather than what IS. And what is, I find to be quite satisfying today.

I do my best to focus on balance… and excellence when it is called for, but not that elusive and impossible thing called “perfect.” The pursuit of perfection decreases my happiness, and thus it is not worth that cost.

Passionate people always have a to-do list that is too long. I need to live with the confidence that being passionate is better than being bored. And learn to manage that to-do list as best I can.

So I walked down the sidewalk last week, and I saw this:

violetwiththistle400.jpg

A thistle plant growing in a small crack, in a driveway… shadowing over a small violet. The violet is blooming, in spite of the less-than-welcoming soil space and the thistle.

It reminds me of myself, just after my divorce in 1991. I learned to bloom, to find the nourishment where I could get it.

If “a picture paints a thousand words,” this photo is a short story about LynnH in 1991-1992. The thistle is my history at that point, a series of unwise but well-meaning choices over the course of 16 years (starting when I was far too young to choose well). One photo can replace ten pages of text here.

I worked hard to learn new ways of choosing. I did a lot of reading and learning and exploring. I did not want to repeat the same mistakes. I needed to learn the word “boundaries” as a way of keeping healthy. It was a lot of work, but that same idealist in me believed that I could change my life. It was worth all the effort.

In the end, I found a new life, new friends, “new” husband (12 years now) who is the best partner ever, even a new kind of relationship with my family.

I have nothing to complain about today.

Spring Sock-Drawer Cleaning

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

(Note: I realize that if you are not into socks and socknitting, this will seem extreme. I invite you to look at your own life… it is pretty common for humans to have some sort of extreme side to them. Socks are colorful, affordable, and don’t take a barn to store them in… so I’m really fine with my own personal flavor of obsession. Besides, if simple things can make us happy, things are good!)

A few weeks ago we got home pretty late. I knew I was not focused enough to do administrative work, but I was not ready to head to sleep yet. I went upstairs to the bedroom for something, and realized that it was pretty impossible to close my sock drawer.

socklaundrybasket400.jpg

You see, I have pretty much been fascinated and obsessed with socks for probably four decades. I came of age in the 70’s. (I started middle school in 1969 and was first married in 1980.)

When I was just starting to notice fashion, there were fun rainbow socks, toe socks, argyles (in nasty nylon, but they came in a lot of colors), many more colorful choices. I was also in love with the colors worn by Twiggy in Seventeen Magazine.sockstrash.jpg

Do you remember the brightly-colored styles that came out around the time when “Laugh-In,” I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family were on TV? I am about the same age as “Marcia Brady,” Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson.

In addition to the 70’s influence, and my strong preference for bright colors, another important influence was my love for wool. You see, I made a chance purchase with my adolescent babysitting income at a local discount store. socksgive.jpgI found cobalt blue washable wool socks in the ice-skating department (of Meijer Thrifty Acres, probably about 1973).

I liked the bright color, and they promised warmth outdoors. I had money burning a hole in my pocket… and those socks became favorites instantly. They were SO comfy and SO warm that I was delighted! From that point on I was sold on wool socks. After all, nobody has feet as cold as mine… or so it seems.

Since I like wool and bright colors, and I have size 6 narrow US size feet, I rarely can find commercial socks that fit and are my preferred fiber/colors. I can find two out of three, but very rarely all three preferences are covered in a single pair.

I had 82 pairs of socks before I started knitting them. On top of that, since 2001 I have handknit 169 pairs, many of those for myself. It was time to say goodbye to some old “friends,” so that I could close the sock drawer again. Finally.

I made a few rules that worked for me:
1) If it’s not handknit, I will not darn it, so commercial sox with holes go in the trash.
2) Commercial cotton pairs which are so thin I could not knit them by hand, can stay.
3)
Commercial socks in the same gauge as handknit socks, must go because I do not wear them. I finally realized why some “favorites” were never getting worn, and this was the reason.
4)
Synthetics go, no matter how sentimental, take a photo before giving away if it helps say goodbye.
5)
If I only can find one sock in that pair and have not seen it in a long while, it gets tossed.
6) Black or gray only stay if they fill a need that is just not filled by any other pair in the “keep” pile.

Funny, the hardest thing for me was giving away the lime green snakeskin-patterned socks (nylon) I bought as a souvenir when I went to New York City. I think I wore them once. My feet do not like synthetics! They went to a good home once I was able to let go.

Photo exhibit 1: Before. Just the socks that were clean and in my drawer, there were a solid handful more waiting to be laundered. I handwashed another six pairs Friday, not shown here.

Photo exhibit 2: Thirty-two (32) single socks… equals 16 pairs, but they did not match up exactly. Tossed in the trash. These were not good enough to be darned or repaired, and were in unacceptable shape to give away.

Photo exhibit 3: Twenty-eight (28) pairs of socks to give away. Half went to a friend who loves color, and the other half (mostly black) went to charity.

Photo exhibit 4: The basket that went back up to the sock drawer (which now closes, thank you very much). No, I didn’t count. Then again, this was not all of my socks… just those clean and ready to be put away.

socksafter.jpg

Now if I could only find this decisiveness and energy for some other projects in my life. The delay is agonizing sometimes, between the discovery of my need to decide, and the clarity to make decisions. I’m getting better, but I do get impatient at times.

Does anybody else have something like my sock drawer in their life? A project that waits too long while you wait for some sort of decisiveness and clarity, in order to make it better???

Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin at Altu’s Tonight!

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

On Saturday, May 9 from 6:30-8:30, Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin are performing at Altu’s Ethiopian Cusine in East Lansing, MI.

These performers are engaging and strong on their own. Together, the show is a big treat. Please consider joining us.

May 9, Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin

  • Jen is a favorite in the local music scene, and nationally known for her work. What a talent! She plays many instruments with ease. She writes wonderful songs with thoughtful lyrics, then sings her heart out with a strong and expressive voice.
  • With heart, soul, and determination, Sam Corbin has traveled and performed for the last decade. Touring across the northeast and within his home state of Michigan, he plays music with hints of Americana, Blues, and Folk. His songwriting is strong and honest.

No cover… CDs available; tips appreciated.

Robert Genn on Larks and Owls

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Larks and Owls, Morning people and Night people… I’m ridiculously in the Owl camp, myself. I love the peacefulness when it’s dark out. There are no distractions, visual or auditory, and it’s just me alone doing my work. I could stay up to 4:30am every day, but the rest of the world does not adjust to my preferences.

Lately I’m on a new medication which is doing what it was supposed to do for me… but it has changed my sleep patterns. I feel sleepy sooner, which means I’m now going to bed at 1:30. I am also sleeping longer… but before, I was not sleeping quite enough.

The world likes me on this schedule. However, now I’m sometimes awake during Brian’s former alone time in the morning. I also feel as though I’m not getting enough done at night.

I am having to just pay attention to every day as its own pattern. Right now I can not expect to be able to work for hours after Brian “hits the feathers” about midnight. In fact, I think I fell asleep last night before Brian did.

Live in the moment, and save nothing for a two-hour stretch at night, I guess. I just don’t seem to have two hours any other time. I’ll figure it out, because in the end I do feel better than I did before.

Robert Genn’s Column on the Subject

Robert Genn has a twice-weekly newsletter geared to working artists. I don’t read every column, but those I read are often very helpful to me.

This week he talks about the Larks/Owls reality. He says they are finding physical genes that influence these tendencies. Apparently 15% of humans are strongly Lark and 15% are strongly Owl, and others can adjust.

I always wondered why people told me I would adjust to the 8-5 work schedule. I worked 8-5 from 1981 to 1999, and I never once felt accustomed to it. Every weekend I would stay up later and every Monday was difficult. Apparently it was the 70% who can adjust,  thinking I would be like them.

I’m happy to have research talking about this, and to understand that once more I am in a small minority. No wonder others aren’t “getting” my natural rhythms.

Consider reading the Robert Genn column about Larks & Owls on a public web page.

Consider signing up for the Robert Genn e-newsletter “The Painter’s Keys” (which I find helpful even though I do not paint at all)

Read his welcome letter saying what you might expect from the e-newsletter, should you subscribe.

And if you like quotations, he maintains an exhaustive Resource of Art Quotations that may please you, whether you subscribe or not.

The photo is a robin from a few weeks ago… I have no photos of larks *or* owls in my own photo archive.

A Hectic Life, a Cup of Tea

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

teapotstablemamabear40.jpg

I made myself a crazy schedule without realizing it… I am teaching a large handful of new knitting classes this term. That means I have to write handouts, pull together examples for students to see, and get ready to present new material. I’ve had a new class each week. It’s exciting but leaves little time for optional activities.

The good part is that even though we are in the warmer part of the year, people keep signing up to learn. Local teaching is my primary business, and without students I have a rough time in warm weather. I’ve been very grateful.

Right now I’m preparing for a long day. I’ll probably be gone from noon to about 9pm. But right now I’m checking email and having a very fine cup of English Breakfast tea. It’s a good way to start the day.

I took this photo at Momma Bear’s Cafe on Turner Street in Old Town, Lansing, Michigan. I was having lunch with friend Cynthia several weeks back and my camera was on the table. I noticed this photo in its viewfinder and pressed the button without picking up the camera or otherwise manipulating it.

I like taking photos of restaurant tables like this. I like how the pot on the right is in focus and the background is blurry. You don’t see that much with digital photography.

I hope you have a good day. Even if it is busy, may you have a small pleasure such as a cup of tea to help it along.

April’s Wedding

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

aprilandrob.jpgSaturday was a Very. Big. Deal.

My dear friend April got married. Though it was a small event, I was honored to be there and sing with Brian. It was a joyous day.

April is always beautiful. Saturday she glowed. She is a fuschia-pink sort of girl, and there was much pink to be found. She even had hot pink satin shoes for her “getaway” outfit. After all, wedding dresses are no fun to wear for very long.

However, apparently flower girl dresses are the most heftonesaprilswedding.jpgcomfortable clothing ever. I had Isabel (April’s daughter who is a primary love of my life) for several hours after the wedding. She would not change out of that pretty dress even when it got chilly. She loves dressing up… just like mommy.

Although I could not take photos while I was singing, I shared my camera with little 5-year old Isabel and with our friend/Maid of Honor, Brandi. A few others also helped with the camera and we got a number of lovely shots.

First photo is April and her beloved aprilweddingcasual.jpg(I haven’t asked him yet if he minds me using his name here on my blog). Second is one of Isabel’s cousins (I think), enjoying the music Brian and I were playing while the guests waited for their dinners to arrive. Third is April in her getway attire.

Fourth is Brandi, April, Me, and Isabel (frequent readers have seen a few photos of the four of us before). I will have a whole post on April’s purse (which I made for her), sometime soon.

My favorite photo? The last one. The best part I cut out and blew up so you can really see… what an honor it is to be loved by a child.

aprilfourhabibis.jpg

aprilsweddingisabelandlynnhands.jpg

For the knitters out there: My shawl is a Bloom Shawl, designed by my friend Trish Bloom, free pattern on Knitty. It was knit for me by my Sister-in-Love, Diana, for me to wear at New York Ukefest 2007. The yarns are Louisa Harding Kimono Ribbon Pure held together as one with Rowan Kidsilk Haze, both blue-purple. It’s warm and stays on the shoulders well. And it flatters!

April’s purse is a Sassy Summer Handbag in Malabrigo Worsted Merino magenta/fuschia, with handle/closure knit from Louisa Harding Impression Ribbon. I’ll have closeup photos one of these days. It turned out beautifully.

I melt every time I see that photo of little Isabel holding my finger. It won’t be long before she doesn’t need me like that any more. I’m really enjoying this phase while it lasts.

Same Sock Design, 2002 Version

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Thank you all for such great input. I am delighted that you like my “new” sock design. The one I knit originally as a Christmas present for a friend in December 2002… that sort of new!

Here is a photo of the first colorway I knit. The purple solid was Regia and the self-striping was Regia Ringel Clown. I love how that self-striping yarn aligned itself just perfectly with the motifs I chose.

janesox.jpg

Isn’t it amazing how using purple as the main color (albeit very different purples) and just varying the multicolored yarn it’s contrasted with, can make such a large difference in the overall look of the sock?

Funny.. this is the colorway I’d wear, personally, but I really see the appeal and depth of the new yarn combination. I have more combinations coming, as the pattern gets tested.

Stay tuned!

Knitting a Fun Sock

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

We went out of town most of the day Saturday. I knit this in the car.

turkishzigremake1-400.jpg

No, it’s not really my colors though I like the combination. The purple is Malabrigo sock 100% wool, and I think it looks like blackberries and plums. The stripe is a Regia standard sockyarn by Kaffe Fasset (who, ironically is in Michigan today, but I can’t go hear his speech in Grand Rapids because I have a class to teach).

I am reworking an old design which has never been released as a pattern. I originally designed this in 2002.

More later.

Food as Art

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

aprilcake1.jpg

Made with love by the Mother of the bride. Beautiful.

Artfulness in Many Forms

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

Here is a wonderful spring photo taken about a week ago:

flowersgonewired.jpg

Isn’t that a feast for the eyes? Here we have many sorts of artfulness. The obvious one is the flower arrangement. The second is the food in the front. The third is the careful and colorful hand-lettering on the board on the back wall.

This is a peek at the inside of Gone Wired Cafe’ on the 2000 block of Michigan Avenue. This is the same block as Rae’s Yarn Boutique (and Emil’s Italian Restaurant) but the other side of the street, and the other end of the block.

The daughter of the manager/owner is one of my knitters from several years ago at Foster Center. We stay in touch, and when I am lucky we go out for sushi dinner together. It’s lovely to remain in her life.

I love-love-love this block of Lansing. I used to live just blocks from here. I get to still work on this side of town. It’s a good life.

Now, go back and look at that lovely photo again. Isn’t the view wonderful?