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Archive for September, 2009

Dyeing Yarn/Joy of Sox Signing

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I’m dyeing yarn (photos above & left from previous batches). Dyeing is an intense thing for me, in part because it is such a departure from my normal activities… and in part because I always think I don’t have time to do it until it becomes crunch time… after which I do it even though I don’t have enough time. And it works out, somehow.

Rae’s Yarn Boutique is again doing a “ColorJoy by LynnH” yarn extravaganza weekend. My newly-dyed yarn will be in the shop Friday through Sunday. In addition, I will be in the shop on Sunday from 11-3, to meet folks and to sign Joy of Sox books for purchasers of that book.

Rae’s first shipment of Joy of Sox just came in, just in time for this event! We have been waiting impatiently for it. (My sock design, which is included in the book, is in the photo at right.)

Nine books arrived yesterday, and more are on backorder. I expect this first shipment will sell out quickly, given the excitement in the shop over my “Hot Waves” design. It’s a great book, if you ask me, even if I did not have a design included.

(I’m planning another Joy of Sox event/signing at Threadbear, when their books come in. That event will not be paired with my yarns, no specifics are determined yet.)

Please, local knitters, come say hello to me Sunday at Rae’s Yarn Boutique if you can come on out. It’s free to say hello, no purchase required or expected. It will be a bit of a party, I figure!

Best Photo: Milwaukee Ukulele Festival

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

This one beats ’em all. Our dear friend, Lil’ Rev with his daughter, Mariela Rose, on his lap. Brian and Mariela Rose enjoyed one another all weekend.

And Rev looks so good. Being a Daddy is definitely a good change for him. No doubt he is tired between a career, a new child/family and a Ukefest to plan, but he seems so happy. I’m happy for him.


Just look at those faces.

How I Made My Self-Portrait

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Someone wrote to ask me how I made my self portrait. She wants to do one of her son, and did not know where to start. To be honest, I can’t imagine ever wanting to do this again… but I tried to remember the steps I had followed, and in case anyone else is curious, this was what I wrote:

The very bare-bones essence of what I did (as far as I can remember in this order) was:

Before starting: Try to talk yourself out of the project. Try to think of another project, try to find an easier, faster, simpler way. Explore tapestry crochet (stitches are not in a grid, would not work for the chart I made), stranded knitting in a tube and then cutting/steeking (too many colors to strand across the back with sometimes inches of not using a color), even imagine duplicate stitch embroidery over flat knitting in one color. Then decide to give it a shot, since this is the idea which won’t die.

1. Find a digital photo which is very clear but simple. Brian took this photo of me while I was dancing. That meant no eyeglasses, which turned out to be a good thing.

2. Open image in PhotoShop, crop and manipulate a bit. I’m not sure what I did in any detail. I did airbrush the background so it became one solid color (rather than ceiling tiles). I think at one point I tried the “Posterize” command, but ended up minimizing my colors in the “Save for Web” feature under the GIF file type (rather than JPEG).

3. Save for web as a GIF and work with the number of colors in the “save as web” box until you can reduce to the absolutely lowest number of colors you can live with. Manipulate which colors it retains by clicking on the colors you want to keep, and reduce number of colors by one at a time rather than using the pull-down list choices.

I saved my image with different names as I worked, so that I could go back if I didn’t like my direction and start again without starting at zero. I saved at least 17 versions of this by the time I was done, so that I could compare them side by side rather than losing the older ones forever.


4. Reduce the size of the photo until it has a large enough pixel that you are willing to knit it, but small enough to give detail which reads as a face in the final image. (This step might have come before the step I called #3, I can not remember now.)

I believe after I did this, I either changed the image size again to enlarge the pixels so I could see them well, or I figured out how to use Windows Photo Gallery print as an 8×10 “photo” and in the meantime increase the pixel size on the sheet of printed paper.

Definition: Pixel = “Picture Element” = dot in digital photo = stitch in my project


5. Print full image with the colors you chose. I ended up feeling that a minimum of 18 colors was absolutely required for this to work. Keep it as a reference for while you knit, to keep the goal close at hand.

eudora14contrastcolors6. Save as with a new name, and replace all the colors with totally garish contrasting colors. I don’t know how to do find/replace color in PhotoShop so maybe I did a magic wand selection with settings of “non-contiguous” and the anti-aliasing turned off. Then if you choose a new color and hit Alt-Backspace it will replace the selection with the paint color you just chose.

Print the new “ugly” image. This will be the graph you knit from. You want the medium brown and the dark brown to look very different when you are knitting. So change them to green and orange, for example, or at least medium brown and orange. All colors should be so unique that when you print them it is clear which is which. Then make a piece of paper with all the new odd colors on it, and tape a piece of each yarn it represents next to the strange color it goes with, as a “legend.”

7. NOW is the hardest part. Find the colors/types of yarn you need. What happened for me is that I wanted 18 colors. I had only 6 days to find yarns. I found 11 colors. Wool worked very well, but I tried cotton and it made a messy surface and didn’t block well with the wool.

Finally (thanks to the suggestion of my friend, Rae), I bought four colors of laceweight yarn and mixed them together to make new colors at a fingering-weight gauge. Three taupe and one cream was one new “color,” three creams and one taupe, was another. That gave me more colors and it worked.

I wish I had been skilled at dyeing subtle shades that would work for my skin tones. Neutrals are not my area of expertise, so I depended on commercial yarns. Alpaca was my friend, since it comes in so many natural colors. Sockyarn was perfect, but in my town neutrals were hard to find.

8. Spend 2 weeks knitting pretty much every waking minute. This includes having hubby bring you meals, and not wasting time some days to change out of pajamas.

I used post-it white removeable tape to keep track of where I was in the graph as I knit. I had a stomach ache the whole time I did it, I was not sure it would actually turn out. I started at the bottom of the face and worked up.

You just can’t know if it’s working until you have already knit thousands of stitches. My graph was something like 120 stitches wide and I had to knit my shoulders before I could do the mouth and eyes. If the mouth and eyes were not right, the project would fail. I knit 11 days before I finished knitting the eyes.

At 11 days, I thought that the piece had not worked out. I took it to my friend Altu, who owns a restaurant. I cried that it had not worked. She said, “Oh, yes, it’s working… I can see my Lynnie!” She took the piece across the restaurant and held it up. She was right, it worked. What would I do without my friends?

9. I left yarn ends all over the back as I worked. I had to finally admit I had to tie knots on the back because there was no way to sew in all the ends without ruining the fabric on the front side. (Mind you, I just never tie knots in knitting… I am a socknitter, and knots hurt in socks.)

I couldn’t knit it in any traditional method of intarsia, because there was no pattern to the repeats. There sometimes was one single stitch of a color with nowhere to twist that color, next to it. I call this “folk” intarsia, mostly just figuring it out as I went.

Tying knots was essential, because I could not do that twist which is so important in intarsia. There were lots of potential structural holes in the fabric (because of abrupt color changes), and knots fixed that problem.

10. After tying the knots, I held up the piece from the other side of the room, looking into the mirror to get a good distance view. I then made small shading corrections by duplicate stitch embroidery.

For example, an eye looks almost demonic if it does not have a glint of light reflecting in it. I had to add a glint in one of my eyes, it had not reduced properly into the graph I had. So I guessed where it should go and made a duplicate stitch with a lighter yarn.

Then I held it up. It was in the wrong place. I figured out what direction it needed to move, then I took out the wrong stitch and tried again.

At one place my hair didn’t have enough depth, it was all the same color. So I also duplicate stitched a bit of the next color into an area between those two colors, sort of a checkerboard blending of the edge.

11. Steam it/Frame it/Present it. To even out my uneven knitting, I steam-blocked the piece. This is a miracle step… there was no time to wet block, but the steam did the job and did not take too long to dry.

I wanted to leave it looking somewhat unfinished, because it was a self portrait and I am not yet finished myself. I glued the last stitch to the bamboo needle on the top where I had live stitches, without binding off. I took the other needle and ran it through the cast on stitches at the bottom. This gave it weight and a frame of sorts.

I say that the front of the piece is “LynnH on a Good Day.” The back? “LynnH on a Bad Day,” of course. I think in the show it was just titled “Self Portrait.” That’s accurate, too.

You can see the rug-like ends hanging from the bottom of the piece when it is on display. Between that and the needles, I expect that is my own personal touch. Others might want a more traditional frame.


So that is what I did. Except this only says what I did, not how. Honestly, picking the yarn was the hardest part of all. I really wanted more colors, but any more would be too hard to knit. Then I could not even find the colors I had compromised “down” to!

I’m a “Grown-Up” Now

It was the most grown-up thing I’ve ever done. I did not really know it would work the whole time I proceeded. Had I been any younger, I would have lost courage before I approached the final stitch.

Every year I’ve lived, I’ve learned a lot. One thing I learned in my 40’s was that often I am critical of my creative output right after I complete it… but if I give it time, it can become familiar and positive to me.

So I proceeded… knowing I might hate it for a while, and I wouldn’t know how I really felt about it without at least 6 months behind the final stitch. Fortunately, I was proud of it for the show opening. How nice that was!

I gave up 2 solid weeks of income to make the portrait work. It was really worth it after it was done. However, you can imagine that it was painfully difficult to proceed at times. I had to arm-wrestle occasionally with the doubt that plagues all creative types at times.

Perhaps a More Simple Answer

I hear that there are commercial services that will make photos into a graph and maybe even sell you yarns for the project. I would like to think mine looks more like an artist’s hand created my piece than the commercial ones (but I may be comforting myself after having done it the way I did). I do like the unmatching types of yarns I used; I love the textures they created on the surface.

At least I know in my case, I did every step myself. It is truly my own work rather than following the directions created by someone else. (Well, Brian did take the original photo of me, but I did the rest.)

May your project proceed as you dream it will. Mine turned out better…

For the curious, this is only 1 of 6 posts I’ve written about this subject. For the whole series of posts on the Threads in Space Show and my piece, Click Here.


Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Love this Place

As Mom would say as we drove in the driveway, “Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!” There is nothing like one’s own house and bed, no matter how humble. Home is home.

Milwaukee’s Inaugural Ukulele Festival

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicWe sang in Milwaukee on Saturday, for the inaugural Milwaukee Ukulele Festival. It was incredible. I just turned on my computer after a long drive, and have not downloaded photos yet…

However, Victoria Vox posted a photo on Twitpic of the three of us: me, Brian, Victoria – click the small image for a larger version, on Twitpic. The photo was taken by Victoria’s mom (whose company I very much enjoyed), on our way out after the show.

Let’s just say the talent was impressive, the musical styles quite varied (all wonderful), and the hospitality could not be topped. The volunteers were WONDERFUL in every way, making sure to answer questions about as soon as we had any to ask.

And the audience? Welcoming, enthusiastic, attentive. Everything a performer could ask for.

What is Next?

I have a huge week ahead of me, I’m dyeing yarn and it will be for sale at Rae’s Yarn Boutique this weekend (Lansing, Michigan).

I may not dye yarn again, this is an option I’m taking very seriously. It would simplify my life and take some stress out. Less stress would be great. I’m going to take a hiatus from buying/dyeing new yarn for a while, at any rate.

This weekend, there will be Resonance Flammegarn sockyarn (pictured below in Blueberry). I will also dye up what Cushy ColorSport I have here in stock. I have some Lynn’s Luxe DK-weight yarn (good for cushy socks or lightweight tops) to dye, as well. I may have one sweater-quantity of DK-weight (?) alpaca yarn. Maybe there will be other things, I still do not know what I can fit in to my week. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time…


I may sound like I’m complaining. I’m busy with all the things I wished and prayed for. I’m singing profesisonally with a man who I adore and who feels the same about me. I do visual/textile art and teaching all day. My friends are truly friends, and I have every physical thing I truly need and many things that are extras. Color is everywhere in my home, my life, my closet.

I’m busy, but I think I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Maybe a slower pace… but then, maybe I’d just fill it back up again.

Lucky 13

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I looked at my calendar after Diana/Otterwise mentioned how busy it looked. Um, she’s right.

My next day with no commitments at all? Friday, November 13. We are still in September.

I like my commitments a lot, but I am SO blocking off Friday the 13th as my lucky stay-at-home-and-eat-bonbons day!

Never Stop Learning

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

I am not particularly good at following crochet patterns. I am very good at using a single crochet or chain stitch to improve an edge on knitting. I can make single-crocheted fabric which looks good, and can even make things up from scratch.

But crochet? I have tried to follow a lot of different patterns. Most confused me.  The two exceptions were an amugurimi penguin with pink socks for my brother, and a bikini top for very hot summer days at home.

The penguin I was able to stick with the pattern from beginning to end. The bikini started well and then I changed the straps when I got to that point.

I decided to try again. I began a hat which starts with a star in one color and proceeds with another.

I had to rip out the star several times. We’ll see how it goes. Here’s how it looked after ripping the last time. I am doing better and will show more photos as I progress…


We’ll see how it goes. Right now, I’m feeling confident. However, it takes following instructions (I usually make things up on the needles) so I only let myself do a few rounds just before going to sleep at night. There are only 18 rounds but it might take me a while.

Color Fun: Charlotte Skyline

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

I went to Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan last Sunday. They are usually closed on Sundays, but it was the Capitol Area Yarn Shop Cooperative (CAYSC) shop hop weekend.

It was a gorgeous, sunny, perfect early-fall day. Charlotte is a lovely old town which is still vibrant. It is the county seat, and Yarn Garden is across the street from the old courthouse. (I took some lovely fall photos there about two years ago, peek at the photos here.)

I parked in the lot, sort of in an alley area behind the shops. I looked up and noticed the blue sky and the wonderful shapes the buildings made (right behind the main corner/stop light in the historical part of town). I always loved geometry and other angular visuals (hence my obsession with knitting zig-zags and triangles). I had to take a photo (just below).



When I put it into my computer, I really loved those shapes. There are a few wires, downspouts and poles in the way of really seeing the beauty of the shapes, in the original photo. I couldn’t stop myself…

In PhotoShop, I made a transparent layer on top of the photo. I drew dark purple straight lines around the shapes which were most prominent. In all but one case, I used the “eyedropper” tool to choose a color actually present in that section of the photo. I used the “paint bucket” tool to fill in that shape with the color.

I’m grateful that I saved the middle brick section for last. When I got a glance at the whole thing, one section before making it entirely painted, I noticed how lovely the brick texture was right there in the middle. I left it.

This takes less time than coloring with crayons. I like my results better, too!

Do you ever look at something in front of you and see something else, as I did here? I basically saw blocks, when I looked up. I’m not a painter, so I don’t usually think like this, though I often notice colors and how they influence their “neighbor” colors.

May You Have a Relaxing Day

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Check out this pose:


I went on shop hop this weekend, and on Saturday stopped by Threadbear Fiberarts. This is one of the shop dogs, Busby the Beagle. He was totally mellow in the midst of a crowd.

May you find a mellow moment in your day. I’m hoping for one when I return from teaching basic computer class tonight… to a full room, 14 people. I always enjoy it, but I love to put my feet up when I get home after that!!!

Harvest Heaven

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

I have always loved cooked tomato dishes. As a child I did not like fresh tomatoes at all, though as an adult my tastes have changed. That is, I like fresh tomatoes when they are locally grown and recently picked. Aaaahh.

Once more, I benefited from friends’ gardens. I got a few from friend Marlene, one or two from Frances, and an incredible abundance of them from Rita, once more. Rita knows how to make sure her garden produce does not go to waste. She knows I’ll cook them all up!


Last Thursday at Rae’s late-night knit in, Rita brought so many tomatoes that I had to cut them up after dinner that same night and get them started in my crockpot. For a house with only 2 people in it, this crockpot is pretty big, it holds a 4 pound chicken.

I had so many tomatoes that I filled this crockpot to the brim. They came in three different colors: Red, orange, and yellow.

I actually have a few small green heirloom tomatoes (ripe but that’s their final color), but I did not add them. I like to put those on wraps and sandwiches where I can see their beautiful colors better. I still have a few larger red tomatoes, as well. I had more tomatoes than crockpot space, and I figured the final few fresh ones could become pica de gallo salsa or something else just as wonderful.

This chunky tomato sauce is planned for chili. It could still turn into something Italian (maybe add eggplant or other veggies). However, I have been craving chili and we have two cans of red beans ready to go. I think this may work!

PS: (Note added later) I did make chili and it was wonderful. It was just right for the first day the furnace kicked on.

Coming Soon: One-World Socks

Saturday, September 19th, 2009


Dawn Brocco published this Turkish-Sock-Inspired sock design of mine in her Heels and Toes Gazette, Summer 2004 issue. It is still available in back issue copies from Dawn.

I have the rights to reissue the pattern (in my case, as a single pattern “leaflet” as they sometimes are called). I am very close to having this one issued. As always, it took longer than expected once I started laying it out in my own format.

Sis-in-Love Diana/Otterwise helped with some tech editing, for which I’m most grateful. After all, she’s a designer in her own right now. She’s very good at editing, and I’m delighted she volunteered do a once-over for me.

There is more to do. I will announce progress as it happens. My goal is to have the pattern up by midnight on Monday. Cross fingers for me.

(For readers here who are members of Ravelry, you can follow my progress on the One-World Turkish-Style Socks pattern page on that site. Ravelry is free, and if you knit or crochet or weave, you may find it a wealth of information. I sure do.)

ColorJoy in the Sky

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

This was my view tonight on the way to the post office:
I can not add anything to this one, using mere words.

It’s Time to Give In

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

I found this leaf on Tuesday, in Old Town Lansing, Michigan. It surely is a beautiful object, and I love the contrast of the asphalt road behind it.

I do not enjoy fall/autumn, much. Leaf mold is not a favorite, for one thing, but mostly I just have trouble staying warm when others find the temperature quite comfortable. It is worst when things get more damp outside. The colors in the trees do help me keep a balanced attitude about it all, thank goodness.

I seem to recall that Autumn is officially here, early next week. I’m working on enjoying the colors and the wool. Those parts, I truly do enjoy.

But we’re heading into LynnH headache season and “I just can’t get warm” season. For some reason, by the time we get to December my body seems to figure out how to keep me warm. In September nothing makes a difference; not yet.

May you notice the colors more often than the chill! May your rain be brief and the blue skies be brim full of fluffy good-weather clouds!

And the Winner is…

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

hotwavesonbook12Thank you to everyone who has been with me over the last week or so. It has surely been a celebration for me, not only because of my Hot Waves design in the book, Joy of Sox… but because of you.

Many of you have been here before this contest. Some of you have been reading my words for many years (I started blogging November 28, 2002).

Some of you are new here, because of the book. I am delighted to meet you! Let us hope we can get to  know one another more as time passes.

I understand that we visit blogs much more often than we comment (me, too). I can’t tell you how lovely it is to hear from my blog friends, especially when I have special events.

Another Fun Week in November

I expect to have another contest of some sort, for my blogiversary. That would be November 28. For my friends who enjoy a question week at ColorJoy, do consider commenting with me that week again.


The Details

I got 90 entries in all, from a total of 21 participants (thanks, to the repeat visitors). Elizabeth, Diana and Stacey tied for  the highest number of total entries, with 14 each (7 text and 7 image). Some of you entered with one text entry only. I appreciate every one of you.

The Winner!

The winner? Riin, of Happy Fuzzy Yarn and Fairy YarnMother. For the record, she won with the 11th entry of the 90 I got. Her comment was dated 9/8 and was for a photograph, a bonus entry which was paired with a text comment.


Riin’s entry? She answered the question about what colors she might choose for knitting my Hot Waves Sock. She said:

Ooh, great sock! I would probably do dark reddish purple, deep magenta, and a saturated pumpkiny-mustardy yellow-orange, much like the colors I used in this yarn but with a bit darker purple and more saturated pink and orange. Yum!

You can see that we all get quite enthusiastic about color around here at ColorJoy! I’ve known hotwaves2colorwayscroppedRiin for a number of years, we met at a knitting group an hour away from my home. I loved that group, but I currently need to teach on Tuesday nights. It’s a joy to stay in touch, even though Tuesdays have changed for us both.

Another Thank You to All

It sort of breaks my heart… 92 entries/21 participants, and one book to give away. Sigh. We all know that Lark Books is not going to send me 21 books for everyone who came by, but I can dream…

Not Yet…

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday have been full of deadlines (not all finished yet), with not just a date but a time involved. It’s a time where it seems there isn’t time to eat. I ate anyway. I slept, too.

I’ll get a winner, probably very late Wednesday. Sorry for the wait!

(Image is a self-addressed envelope I made years ago, with “rubber stamps” I carved from erasers. If you have not tried carving erasers, I highly recommend the experience.)