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Archive for September, 2009

Hot Waves Design Structure

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

hotwavestwocolors16It is the last day of my very-fun “Win a Joy of Sox Book” week. I want to take this time to talk about my design which is in the book, entitled Hot Waves.

We talked about fear of color yesterday. My sock is constructed in an unusual way for western-style socknitters. It has a toe structure few have tried, and an afterthought heel. Both of these features would be typical in an eastern-style/Turkish sock. They are almost unheard of in a European/ American/ western-style modern sock design.

It is possible that someone might be afraid to try a sock with these features, if they do not understand how they work before they begin. I would love to see folks try my pattern, so I am going to try to encourage folks by explaining the unusual bits.

Rectangle-Start Toe

toeuprectangle20The toe starts with a small, stockinette square rather than a wrapped start. Once the “toe rectangle” has been knit, stitches are picked up around the edges of that piece of fabric, and increases begin to shape the wedge of the toe. (The illustrations here were knit using bulky yarn so you can see the stitches, though my design in the book is executed in fingering weight yarn on smaller needles.)

toeupfinished50I enjoy knitting this toe, and I have taught children as young as 4th grade to make socks with this start. Just after all stitches are picked up, if the sock is made of thick yarn, the piece on the needles looks like a nose warmer (see photo). The kids I teach enjoy this phase very much, and will model the piece on their nose for one another, needles and all.

Here is only one example of a kid doing just that. For the record, both of the girls in this photo started socks. One finished two pairs. Both were in elementary school at the time.

Afterthought Heels a la LynnH

If you do not study socks obsessively as I do, you may not have heard of an afterthought heel. This is literally where you start a sock, and knit from top to toe or toe to top but skip the heel entirely.

In my designs, I use a half-round of waste yarn to mark the place where that heel will go later. I pick up stitches around the hole before picking out the waste yarn, and then knit the heel. Here is a photo of the 2nd colorway for the Hot Waves sock design, partly through the process of knitting the heel.

hotwavegreenheel

Other Afterthought Methods

For the record, another way to do it is to snip a yarn where you want the heel, pick out half a round of stitches, pick up the stitches around the hole and start a heel. I think I read in an Elizabeth Zimmerman book that she would do it this way. I knit two pairs this way and they worked out fine, but I think it takes a bit more courage to try that!

Mine is Not a Shallow Heel

The afterthought heel is not unknown, but often folks who try it, follow the common advice to “knit a toe” where the heel goes. Often they find it far too shallow to be comfortable, and they give up on this structure entirely.

The afterthought heel I used in this design is decreased like the shape of a person’s heel, and is longer than a toe. It looks quite odd in a laundry basket, but is extremely comfortable on the foot (or at least on my foot, Brian’s foot, and friend/test knitter Mary’s foot… maybe yours as well).

A Beautiful Design Element

For some reason, I find knitting this much more pleasant than a heel flap with gusset. I also believe on an art/visual level, that it is a prettier design. Heel flaps seem to sort of disrupt the design. In this sock, there was no way to get that beautiful stripe pattern, using any other type of heel. I love the bullseye effect!

Stripes Made Simple

This sock also employs stripes as a major design element. Some are afraid they do not know how to start a new color. Others think they need to cut the yarn every time they start a new stripe, which means far too much sewing in and finishing after the knitting is done. It also would make an uncomfortable sock, with all that sewing underfoot.

hotwavesonmannequinfoot16When you start a new color for stripes, just literally drop the working yarn where it is. Pick up the new yarn with the cut end hanging to the floor. Lleave 4-6″ (10-15cm) of the new yarn’s end hanging down. Hold the yarn in place as if it is connected to your sock. I do this with my left hand.

Then knit the first few stitches with the new yarn (the end connected to the ball) a bit more carefully so the end does not pull out. After that, it’s attached well and you can just knit away as if nothing happened.

When you get to the point where you need to change colors again, just hold the working yarn straight up into the sky, then move left/counter-clockwise and drop the yarn. Reach down under from the right, and pull up the new yarn color where you left it hanging. Make sure there is no major slack in the new yarn from where it was attached before, and then knit with that yarn again.

Wider Stripes

If you find you are making a stripe more than about 4 rows high, you may choose to twist the yarns together on every 3rd round. At that point, you can just drop the working yarn left, pick up non-working yarn from bottom/right. Immediately do it again, returning the working yarn you need to continue using. In my pattern there are a few places where you knit 5 rounds of one color, and I did this little “trick” when I knit my own samples.

Check the tension on both yarns to see that they stay flat against the surface of the sock. If they look smooth, continue your stripe pattern.

Two-Color “Stranded” Knitting

For the record, you could make this sock with just stripes, and skip the two-color wave pattern if you wished. I think the waves make it much more interesting and fun, but the toe/heel striping and the three-color combination would still make a fun addition to any sock wardrobe.

I designed this as “colorwork lite” on purpose. There are merely nine rounds in the entire sock which require two colors on the same round. You need not have ever done this before to give it a try. The main thing to remember is that you must knit much more relaxed than you ever typically knit, or those rounds will not stretch well. You do want the sock to slip on, over your heel.

hotwavesgreenstitches450

Relax, Relax!!!

Stranded knitting is called that (also called colorwork or Fairisle) because the yarn you are not using creates a strand of unused yarn across the back side of the fabric. That strand is not stretchy at all. Some of us are able to remind ourselves “knit relaxed, knit relaxed” for the rounds which are stranded. Others may find that going up 2-3 needle sizes for those few rounds will help them make a workable stretch in the final piece.

Do practice stretching the stitches every time you finish working one needle, so you stay focused on that stretch. It is worth paying attention while you are on the important rounds. Even consider stretching the actual sock to see if it will be large enough for your heel when you pull it on, if there is room to stretch it while on the needles.

Question of the Day

OK, I spent this post talking about me and my creative work. I would love to hear about you, as well.

How did you find my blog? Is this book what brought you my way?

What are you creating these days? Knitting, crochet, gardening, canning, cooking, entertaining?

Do you ever knit with two colors? Stripes? Stranding? Do you like trying new techniques? Does it help you to learn a bit about how it is done before diving in? Did I help you imagine something new in your own creative life?

Again, a text comment gains you one entry in the drawing for the free Joy of Sox book contributed by Lark books. A link to an illustration/photo related to your answer gains you an extra bonus entry for the day. You may enter for every day of the contest, even if you find that entry on a different day than I posted it.

You have until midnight Eastern time (New York City/Washington DC) to enter. I will pick a name Wednesday and announce it here. WooHoo!!!

Thank you, every single one, for being with me here. Whether you comment or not, I appreciate you more than you know. Commenters, you bring light to my days, contest or not. Thank you ever so much.

Fear of Color

Monday, September 14th, 2009

hotwaves2colorwayscroppedI can not believe it. I have been absolutely dry of something to say to you, for a while today. I often joke that “I have never run out of words…” Never say never.

Sometimes I offer to teach color classes, but I get few takers. So often people run away because they think they “can’t” color combine successfully. Somehow, I think folks believe this is not a skill which can be learned.

I emphatically believe that it *can* be learned, and without memorizing a color wheel or strict rules. It takes learning to see differently, and with a good teacher (and a good attitude) one is never too old to learn.

It seems that I can talk color when I am teaching a project class (a mixed-yarn stole or ZigBag, for example), and people will go along for the ride. However, a class with color as its subject seems too scary, somehow.

I will be the inaugural speaker for a knitting group which is forming at the Hope Borbas Library (Okemos, Michigan) on Okemos Road. The event will be held on Wednesday, October 7, at 7pm. I am giving a talk called “Lose the Fear, Seize the Joy!” The subtitle is “Color Choices without Color Theory.”

When I was teaching the ColorJoy Stole classes a lot, we had to come up with 5 yarns to use together. Later I developed the Party Stole which also calls for five yarns but of different descriptions. In both cases, I wrote a good deal about color-choosing in the pattern text for those who could not take my hands-on classes.

I am considering releasing just the color-choosing notes as a handout (not a pattern, but laid out and distributed in the same ways). I could fully illustrate with examples of my own work, as I am doing here, and hopefully friends’ projects as well. Input on this idea is welcome.

In my mixed-yarn stole classes, we would look for one yarn that had more than one color in it; a yarn that could make the wearer’s eye smile. We would take direction from that yarn, and choose other yarns to work along with it.

If the multicolor was a thick-thin in purple, blue and green, we might find a smooth yarn in blue. We would then perhaps add a mohair in purple, a shiny yarn in a different purple, and yet one more yarn in one more texture, in any of those colors.

There was a security in having a group of colors that felt right, as an anchor or home base for the next step of choosing a group of yarns. (A different, springlike, assortment of five yarns/colors is shown above and at right, before and after knitting.)

With ethnic socknitting, sometimes a “modern” eye in a western culture, can not understand the color choices of the knitter who created the sock. All humans will choose particular colors which we agree as a culture, look good together. I did this version of “Eva’s Socks” (shown below left) in four colors we all are comfortable seeing in one place.

In a “Turkish” or eastern-style sock, you might find a hot pink used only on the heel and nowhere else in the entire sock. evawhiteYou might find eight to twenty yarn colors used in one pair. You might see colors we insist do not work well, used with enthusiasm. The authentic Turkish sock shown below is a mild version of what I mean.

This sock uses red with orange and pink as accents. That is not a typical combination in my world, especially a red background with an orange/green band of color. I think it’s wonderful, but I would bet if I presented this as my work in an art class I might be graded down for some of these choices. (Of course, it would depend on the teacher…)

In my own designs, I am combining some of a western aesthetic with a love of folk/ethnic textiles. I tend to use a lot of color together (at one time) in my wardrobe, and I look as I want to look. However, for knitting I choose a more limited palette. I typically go for two or three solid colors (or one solid and a contrasting multicolor).

Sometimes I live a little, and follow my gut rather than logic (which says people won’t take my class/buy my patterns if I specify “too many” colors). Eva’s socks, above, used 4 colors because I was knitting a gift. It became my first commercial pattern, because readers fell in love with the gift socks and asked for me to write out the design.

At another time (on my trip to Africa) I knit a pair of socks using four colors. In that case, I was inspired by the Ethiopian flag and the wonderful baskets used as traditional dinner tables. Again, I was in a situation where I was knitting for joy, not to make a pattern for others to follow. Again, I had a wonderful time and love the result.

Flags are perfect for contrast. Socks in several colors need contrast. You can see that the flag colors really worked out well for me in this case!

Question(s) for Monday’s comments (answer any time before midnight Tuesday):

Do you find the idea of choosing more than one color to put with another, less than relaxing? Are clothing colors to wear to work easier than choosing project colors (for knitting, paint in the house, flowers in a garden or arrangement)? Do you avoid projects that make your heart soar, because you are fearful of the color-choosing phase of the project?

If choosing colors does not stop you, do you have any tricks you use to help yourself make choices? Do you find a particular item that has several colors together? Do you have a standby group of colors you know work for you? (In my case, I own a lot of turquoise, purple, hot pink/magenta, hot green… and occasionally other brights that work with them. I think anything in my closet goes with anything else, as far as color goes.)

Do you have advice for others, which helped you get over color fears of any sort? Do you have any question that is really the one thing keeping you from stepping forward?

The rules remain through Tuesday: Every comment left in words counts as one entry toward winning a copy of Joy of Socks. If you leave a link in your comment to an illustration/photo (yours or someone else’s) which makes your point, you get a bonus entry.

Thanks for waiting for this post. I appreciate your attention to my work, I have had good feedback on the blog lately. I worked a longer day than usual today and then my writing muse took a while to get back from dinner break!

Monday’s Post May be Delayed

Monday, September 14th, 2009

We were away at Wheatland Music Festival this weekend. I wrote and scheduled three posts late last week, to show up while I was away.

I’m home (it’s very good… never take flush toilets for granted, and don’t forget how great your own bed is). I love the people and the music there, but I do love the conveniences of my humble city abode.

Wheatland was incredible: good music, friendships and weather. I am falling asleep at the keyboard, though, and did not write Monday’s post yet…

It will come Monday, but maybe after dark ’round here (I teach 7 hours Monday at Rae’s shop). Thanks for your patience.

When is Color not Literally Color?

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Color as Joy/Joy as Color/ColorJoy as Creativity

I sometimes think about the concept of “ColorJoy” (which I define as living every day artfully and creatively). I want it to encompass more than just literal hues, values, intensities of color we can see with our eyes.

twoducksoldtownA new knitting acquaintance sometimes calls me Joy rather than Lynn. I love that! I answer to it. I have never had a nickname that stuck, but I am enjoying this one. I hope that I *live* Joy as well as talk about it.

The photo today is of two ducks my friend Cynthia and I noticed on a walk in Old Town, Lansing, Michigan earlier this year. They were occupying the space between the sidewalk and the street. Just noticing them “colored” our day with a bit of wonder. They were able to be rather calm with us walking very close by.

Now, talking about color instead of our walk, I notice the yellow weeds and the many shades of color in the ducks’ feathers.

Color as Color, or Not

A friend’s husband is 100% colorblind. He sees variations on gray, that is it. He asks if color is really that good. For me, the answer is yes.

I find it fascinating to learn that one of his favorite shirts is a tie-dyed shirt in a riotous rainbow of color. I asked him what it looks like to him. He replied “Tiger Stripes.”

But when we talk about a musical instrument, we sometimes talk about the color of the tone. In a more crude sense, we talk about “colorful” language at times (at the very least, this implies passion, though perhaps not refinement). Could we not also talk about coffee or wine, saying that the color of its scent or the color of its aroma might be vibrant or muted?

What Color?

Once little Isabel asked me this: “What color is music?” I love that question. I’m inclined to say it is a rainbow, but that may be far too simple for an authentic answer.

I may be pushing this idea too much, but your input will let me know if I am off base too far.

Living in ColorJoy

Let us talk about ColorJoy rather than literal color. What ColorJoyful experiences are in your life? Do you find that choosing clothing (an artful act for some) in the morning, makes your heart sing? Do you love pairing red tomatoes with yellow bell peppers and green lettuce?

If ColorJoy is “Art as an Everyday Attitude,” then where in your day do you approach things in a more creative way than required? Do you choose purple writing pens? Do you allow yourself a better-quality bottle of olive oil or bar of imported chocolate at times, and savor the quality?

Do you seek out special items that are hard to find? Mexican Vanilla? Sandals in green rather than brown? Do you wear unmatching socks for fun? Do you have a favorite color, which makes you smile every time you see it?

Do you choose a special flavor which makes you feel nurtured or happy? Is there a texture (velvet, linen) that makes your life more pleasant? Is there a special scent which takes you back to good times?

Question(s) of the Day

What is ColorJoyful in your own life? In which parts of your life does “Art as an Everyday Attitude” apply?

If you do not feel this is currently in your life, does the concept make your heart sing? Do you think it’s too poetic for every day? Is it corny (it is not, to me, but I understand we all think differently)? Do you have an idea where you might start to live this way, if you like the concept and are so inclined?

One comment, words only, gets you one entry in the Joy of Sox book giveaway. A link to a photo inside that comment, gets you a bonus entry. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sharing Color with Others

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

A Gift of Color

Last week I met a new friend. We live a few blocks away, and she has flamingos in her yard (as I do). We wave when I drive by in my little blue New Beetle, but we have not talked before.

japaneselanternI took a walk past her home, intending to get some exercise. Instead, I saw her in her yard, and walked over to introduce myself. She asked me in for a glass of wine (I opted for ice water) and we chatted for at least 45 minutes. What a lovely surprise it was!

When I left, I commented on this beautiful cut frond in a bucket of water. She grew it herself, and gave it to me as a gift.

The plant has been on our table all week. I gave it water, and it perked up much more than in this photo. Now, as expected, its leaves are wilting.

Both my mother and my new friend say that the leaves will fall but the “Japanese Lanterns” will dry and stay decorative. I think that will be lovely. It will remind me of summer, when the snow falls.

Reminicing

I am thinking back just in the last few weeks. First, Rita gave me several types of beautiful tomatoes. The next week she gave me Swiss Chard in different colors, and more tomatoes. This friend gifted me with the Lantern frond for my table.

Brian went to the market and came home with a wonderful bouquet of what I think are zinnias or something like them, in amazing warm colors from yellow to purple. I am counting my blessings, as well as the colorful delights gifted to my eyes by these people in my life.

Question of the Day

How do you share color with others, or receive it from them? Do you go for walks and notice the gardens in your neighborhood? Do you enjoy the colors at the market or grocery? Do you buy a new color of nail polish as a dear friend likes to do? Do you buy crayons and share them with a toddler?

Comment to get an entry into my Joy of Sox book giveaway. Leave a link to an image in the comment, and get an extra bonus entry. Thanks for playing!

Color as Pure Entertainment: ColorJoy

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Color for Joy

isabelsidewalkchalkI got out colored pencils this week and doodled. I purposely doodled on a crumpled brown envelope, so that I would not think it needed to be refined. The idea was pure joy, just putting colors together.

Here is a photograph of my beloved friend Isabel (who started Kindergarten this week Tuesday). She came over and we played with sidewalk chalk.

She and her friend Bea (also 5 yrs old)  made sure I got to do this, I had never done it before. I’m just too old to have had the supplies as a child, that’s sort of a new thing since I grew up.

I found that when I drew with a piece of chalk, my whole arm drew, not just a few fingers. I generally tighten up when I try to sketch or draw. Friends talk about the “line quality” in drawings. My lines do not have a sense of quality or flow, as a rule. The sidewalk chalk was different, and I enjoyed that feeling.

Other Color Fun

Sometimes I embellish with fabric paints, which is fun. I have used fabric paints both on cell phones and magnetic sheets (made star magnets for my car, and a sock-shaped magnet as well).

I have used fingernail polish to embellish many, many household items and gizmos, including the pictured thermos and a palm “pilot” device. For someone who does not use polish on her fingers, I have more colors than anyone might imagine!

Question of the Day

In order to enter my one-week contest to win a Joy of Sox book, leave me a comment. Leave me a link to a photo to get an extra bonus entry!

How do you use color as pure joy in your own life? Do you choose clothing for fun, do you assemble foods on the plate thinking of their colors? Are crayons, sidewalk chalk, finger paint in your life? How do you experience “ColorJoy” in your own daily living?

Contemplating Stripes

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Easy-Knit Color Approach

As I take a look at the design of Hot Waves, the sock pattern I designed for Joy of Sox (book), I realize I used stripes to make them easier to knit. I often enjoy knitting two yarns on a single row, and am happy to do that for most of a project. I realize not all knitters are comfortable with that.

For this project, I wanted to keep the stranded colorwork (two or more yarns on the same row, sometimes called Fairisle) to a minimum. For one thing, I know that colorwork scares away some folks. For another, it takes a bit of paying attention to get stranded patterns to stretch enough for a heel to slide past. They must be knit with a more relaxed gauge, and that takes more focus than straight knitting.

I wanted to use several colors. The original idea was that “Hot Waves” were like a flame. The toe and top are pale but warm, the middle is deep red, and they are darker (plum) toward the middle and heel. I thought maybe the heel and top were the tips of a fire that started at the center. I know, I made that explanation a bit more poetic than it needed to be… but I digress.

hotwavesonmannequinfoot16

Fibonacci Figured Out Stripe Widths for Me

I ended up using a two-way Fibonacci stripe sequence on the heel and toe, which are applied slightly differently in each spot. The Fibonacci sequence starts with:

1
1
2
3
5
8…

Notice that each number is added to the number before it, to come up with the next number in the sequence. That is, 1+1 =2, 1+2 = 3, 2+3=8, and so on. You can take that pattern forward but the eye stops being able to see it at a certain point just because we are human.

For Artists, not Just Number Fans

The first time I heard about this sequence, I dismissed it as overly math-geeky or something. Liking it because it was a concept, did not interest me.

However, when I started learning more about it, I found that many things in nature grow naturally at this basic sequence. Shells, tree branches, other plants grow this way.

Because our eyes are used to this pattern in nature, our eyes tend to like other things with the same sequence. Therefore, some designers (of anything, not just clothing) use this pattern to make their designs eye-friendly.

My Own Fibonacci-Striped Designs

I have used this concept in many ways. My Topper-Down Hat, Sassy Summer Handbag and Road-Tested Legwarmers have at least one “view” which includes at least a small part of the sequence. I show a photo of the hat and handbag above. Below, the pink/purple version is knit in this sequence, where the blue/green/purple version is knit of self-striping Noro Kureyon yarn.

legwarmerstwotypes25featheredThe hat uses it in one direction only, alternating colors as the numbers proceed. The Handbag not only uses it for color changes, but is decreased at the same sequence, creating that very fun shape. The legwarmers start on one end with one color and another color on the other. Each color starts with a small stripe intruding in the solid, and growing toward the middle where the stripes are equal. I really like the two-way Fibonacci stripe.

The Joy of Sox Connection

For Hot Waves, I used two-way Fibonacci stripes on toe and heel. For the leg, I used more random stripes, but I used only stripes of widths within the sequence.

I also added just three different three-row “waves” of two-color knitting, to give it variety. That adds up to only 9 rows using two colors. This small amount of colorwork makes the eye notice… with very little time requiring extra attention from the knitter.

Knitting stripes in a tube (such as a sock) is very easy. You do not need to break the yarn as you work your way up.

hotwavesgreenfulllength450Finish a round in the first color. When it is time to switch, you just drop the yarn you were just using, to the left (counter-clockwise from the top). Then you reach underneath and pull up the new color (or just start knitting with that new color, leaving a 4-6″ end to sew in after the sock is done) from the bottom-right. That is also clockwise.

Make sure that you keep the tension a bit more firm at the beginning of the first row using a new color. Do not choke the yarn, let it breathe a bit, but do pay attention to not leaving extra yarn inside the sock when you change colors.

guitarsockcashmerino400(Photo here is a cuff of my Guitar Trim Socks, knit in subtle colors of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn. This pattern also maximizes ease of knitting by using stripes along with stranded colorwork. It does not look very “stripey,” in my opinion, but there are only 9 rows of stranded knitting.)

The Contest-Entering Question of the Day

Do you think “Polo Shirt” when you think “stripes?” I used to think “I do not like stripes.” What I realize now is that I do not like equal-color stripes, particularly not placed horizontally on my torso. I am finding that I quite enjoy some other types of stripes.

Consider the very popular Lizard Ridge Afghan (click to view on Knitty). It uses changing colors and a different sort of “wave” pattern, to make a beautiful, but not sporty, striped blanket. Wonderful.

The sweater “Poppy” is another one using stripes in a non-traditional way. The body of the sweater is knit with vertical stripes, and the yoke and sleeves have self-striping yarn knit horizontally. It looks great on all sorts of body shapes and in all sorts of color combinations. Click for a “Poppy-Along” page showing ten different women wearing their own version of the sweater.

What unusual stripes do you notice? Do you like evenly-spaced stripes, Fibonacci stripes, wavy stripes, vertical stripes, pinstripes on a Corvette, purple stripe in your hair? Have you thought about stripes much at all before?

If you answer, you get one entry in the contest to win a Joy of Sox book (courtesy of Lark Books). If you answer plus send a link to a web page with a photo illustrating your answer, you get a second “bonus” entry.

Winners to be announced early next week.

My Palette from Nature

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I asked you all to contribute links to images. They were to inspire you, me and others who visit here, with possible three-color combinations for my Hot Waves sock design.

Tuesday afternoon I went for a walk with beloved friend Cynthia. We were walking down a sidewalk on Grand River Avenue in Old Town (Lansing, Michigan) and saw this:

wildpetunia

So many thoughts flooded my mind! First was… wait! Petunias don’t grow as weeds! Next was to appreciate the colorful beauty. Then I noticed the contrast between the delicate, vibrantly-blooming, healthy petunia and its neighbor, the prickly thistle (also healthy).

And no surprise… the last thought? Wow, I would like to do a pair of socks in magenta, green and yellow. (Do you see the tiny bit of yellow on the tip of one of those thistle’s leaves???)

I went to a favorite site I don’t visit enough, because I could stay there and never leave. It is called ColourLovers.com (yes, it is spelled correctly, obviously they have roots outside the USA). I have a free account with them which allows me to make palettes of color on screen.

wildpetuniaspalette

You can tell them to start with a photo on the web, by giving the photo’s URL (web address). I tried that way first, but nothing came up that was the vibrant assortment in my mind.

I then (of course) built one by hand instead. It is not literal in color, it is inspired. That means my yellow and green are more about the feel I get from the photo, than the colors literally in the photo.

Notice the purple comes from the wilting blossoms, past their prime. Lovely, though on their way out.

Another Experiment with Combinations

I did another very fun experiment, thinking of you folks and your assignment for new colorway combinations for my sock design. I opened up a photo of both already-knit sock colorways, in PhotoShop. I cropped the photo so that it mostly just showed the sock colors and not the porch I was on for the photoshoot.

Then I went to the menus Image/Adjust/ Hue-Saturation. I adjusted the “Hue” slider to see possible other color combinations. The second photo here was set for -84.

hotwaves2colorwayscroppedhotwaveshueadjust1

It is true this second exploration was not inspired by nature, per se, but it started with real colors and took them to another place. I love how the tree is magenta in the background!!! I also really do like both new color combinations.

I find it amusing that when I adjusted color in the first photo to try to make it more like real life, I could not make the green bright enough. Now, on the second photo here, I have an incredibly intense yellow-green. Not the same as the first sock, but as bright. Sigh…

hotwaveselizabethcolorsIn the first day’s comments, Elizabeth said she would pick purple, red and green. I was able to get something like that by playing a little more with the hue slider. I am sure these are not the exact variations on those three colors she was thinking of, but I sure had fun trying.

Contest Question of the Day

For those who missed my announcement yesterday, I am running a 7-day contest with the prize a copy of the book Joy of Sox. This book includes the pattern for the sock shown above. It is my design, and it is called Hot Waves.

If you answer just in words, you get one entry in my contest. If you answer with words and also include a link to an image on the web illustrating your point, you get a bonus entry, total of 2, for that day.

You may answer once each post for my 7 days of columns (post 7 responses on the last day if you wish, I won’t mind). I will pick a winner next Tuesday. Let’s have some fun until then!

Which item in nature, makes you take notice of its color most completely? Or at least, which is one which has taken you by surprise recently?

In my case, I was most amazed by the colors of a fuchsia plant in a hanging pot, on the front porch of a friend. I had never seen such a plant, and it looked as though it had to be artificial because the colors were so intense and the blooms so sculpted. Please take a peek at this one, to see what I mean.

Funny, the colors in that photo go well with those in my self-created palette above. I’m so predictable, though I hope in a fun way.

I look forward to reading your comments. Remember, if you include a link, I have to physically approve your comment before you will see it on my site. Don’t worry if it does not show up instantly. Thanks a bunch for playing along. I’m having a great time.

(Consider going back to yesterday’s comments and following some links, they are very inspiring.)

The Joy of Sox/Hot Waves Design

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

I am so excited! Lark books has a new book out entitled Joy of Sox (please purchase locally if possible). It is a collection of sock designs by many designers, edited by Linda Kopp. I have one design in this book, entitled Hot Waves. Here she is!

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I have been published before. I had five designs over three years, in Heels and Toes Gazette, a publication for socknitters. That was published by Dawn Brocco, who really helped mold me into a better pattern writer.

I also had a pattern in the now-defunct MagKnits, an online free knitting magazine. (My pattern now available here.) However, this is the first full-sized book with my work in it. This is incredibly exciting.

I do not submit to major magazines, at least I have chosen not to do that so far. I have not sought out books, either.

My 3-D Sketch

In this case, Lark Books contacted me and asked me to submit. I sent them three possible ideas. LynnHershbergerSock3HotWavesTo the right, I show the “sketch” representing the idea which became Hot Waves.

For the record, I feel handicapped when I need to work in two dimensions. Pencils and markers feel foreign to my hands, so I sketch by swatching with yarn on the needles.

I was a little worried about the strange shape of my sketch. This design includes afterthought heels, which are decreased in a more gradual way than a standard afterthought. This means they look strange when blocked flat from the side, though they fit great!

It clearly worked for Lark, this time. I am delighted.

Two Colorways, Two Sizes

The red/purple/apricot pair were completed on July 10, 2008 and sent to Lark for a photo shoot. They were required to be a size that would fit the model (medium).

I have smaller feet, and wanted a pair for myself. When the book arrived about 3 weeks ago, I started a pair in electric colors just for me. Rae Blackledge (of Rae’s Yarn Boutique and Extravayarnza handpainted yarns) dyed me three electric colors of very-LynnH contrasting “shaded solid” yarns in her fingering-weight “string theory” sock yarn.

I cast on last week some time, and finished the first sock Sunday. This is a photo of it, all done except for joining the heel:

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For some reason, the web does not do well with replicating any of these colors. The turquoise is about true, as is the Apricot. The other four colors suffer in the translation. If you can imagine, the green is even more vibrant in person than it is on this screen! I love it.

A Contest!!!

Lark Books has provided me with a copy of Joy of Sox to give away here. I had some fun thinking of what I would like to do as a contest. Since I am ColorJoy and the book also has Joy in it, I am going to have a seven-day period of ColorJoyfulness here. You may enter once every day, from today (Tuesday, September 8 ) until next Monday.

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I am going to ask for color descriptions from you. You may describe these things in the comments, in words, which will gain you one entry in the contest.

You may also link to a photograph somewhere on the web. If you provide me a link, you will
get a total of two entries, one for the words and one for the link.

Be aware that if you put a link in your post, I have to approve it before it appears on my site. The blog software thinks that if you put a link in a comment, you must be trying to sell me medication or something… so be patient, I will approve you as quickly as I can and you will see your comment show up at that time.

The Question of the Day

The Hot Waves socks call for three colors of yarn. They need to contrast enough that you can see the striping and the nine rows of two-color stranded knitting. If you were to knit these socks, which colors would you choose?

larksockyarnIf you link to a photo today, it does not need to be a photo of three balls of yarn. Maybe it is a favorite shirt with the three contrasting colors. Maybe it is your couch with two favorite pillows, maybe the three towels on your towel rack. Maybe it is a delivery van painted in a fascinating color combination, or three crayon colors. Perhaps you like a logo for an online business.

See what you come up with! It is the color combination that matters, not the source for your inspiration.

Make sure you enter your email address properly in your entry, because that is how I will contact the winner next Tuesday by midnight Eastern time, to get a mailing address. If I have no response in a week from that person, I will choose a second name.

Let the fun begin!!!

Thumbfest, a Happy Whirlwind

Monday, September 7th, 2009

On Saturday, Brian and I got up very early, went to Lexington, Michigan for a long, full day at Thumbfest. It was such a packed day, we had little time to see other performer friends do their own shows, but we got to peek at one or two songs sometimes.

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What a lovely event! The talent was entirely drawn from Michigan, and everything I heard was top notch. The volunteers were enthusiastic and great, and the weather could not have been more perfect.

We started at the Jam Tent. Moonsqualler (a good-time, old-time, old-fashioned, jug-band-influenced group) was paired with us, The Fabulous Heftones, to just take turns leading songs and having a great time. The audience sang along on several numbers, and it was just a good experience.

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Not long after that, we played at the Smackwater block stage. I was happily surprised to see that the group ahead of us included Kitty Donahoe. I’ve been a fan of Kitty’s for a long, long time. She used to live in East Lansing, and I used to say that she was Lansing’s most beautiful voice. She still is on the top list of my favorite voices, even though she now lives in Ann Arbor.

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Considering how jam-packed every performer’s schedule was that day, I was delighted to look up and see friend Jen Sygit at our show for a few songs. She told me later that she made sure her parents came to hear us, she knew they would enjoy our work (and they did). That makes me smile.

We had a little leeway after singing that set, so we strolled down the street to see other stages. You can not believe how many stages they had going at one time! I counted three down by the waterfront and at least six up in the downtown area. Whee!

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We saw Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin play once, and at the Country Jam later in the day. We saw a few songs by Moonsqualler at their show, and Duality (friends Kathy and Terri are in that band). We caught a little bit of a songwriter workshop, before our Ukulele workshop (where we ended with a rousing set of blues numbers on uke, quite memorable).

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After our workshop we had enough time to eat dinner. We sat inside the restaurant right behind the Smackwater stage, and Brian got a few photos from behind the performers, showing the view we had as we were singing.

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The meal, by the way, was one of the most tasty I have had in just plain years. The restaurant looked fancy, the descriptions of the meals sounded really good, but there is always a chance that it’s all hype and it might not taste as good as it sounds. In this case, I had a salad they made specially for me and a tomato bisque soup. Incredible flavor, just great balance in all ways.

Brian had cajun-seasoned fish tacos with broccoli slaw. He said it was very flavorful and satisfying. I talked him into espresso creme brulee’ for dessert, which he had never had before. It’s truly dangerous stuff, I think it is very good that it’s a hassle to make or we would all die of too much dairy fat! It’s better than the best ice cream, and that’s saying something.

After we finished our meals, we walked down to the harbor area. Brian went out on the breakwater for a look, and I found a good park bench where I could knit for a little while. I made friends a number of times, with folks coming by asking about my unusual instrument (a Heftone Bass, which looks like a huge banjo). That was very fun, I’m always up for chatting with happy people and they all fit that description.

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The final show for Thumbfest was at the big harborside stage. As the moon rose in the sky, first Mustard’s Retreat played and then the Yellow Room Gang (including David and Michael of Mustard’s Retreat). I love the song Kitty Donahoe played with the Gang. Here are some of the lyrics:

“Do what you love love what you do
And in the hard times the joy will see you through
And in the end it will all come back to you
If you do what you love what you do”

(Song is on a wonderful CD, This Road Tonight, you can download the album or one song if you click that link, you can preview the tune before buying as well.)

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Finally we had the Hootenanny. All performers from the whole day were invited to get up on stage together. We took turns leading songs that most folks would know. As Brian put it, we had “folkie heaven” singing together, with as many harmony notes as any of the songs would allow.

The first song honored the friendship and life of Denise Marie Stein. She was a member of the Yellow Room Gang, and was an incredible harmony singer. She and Maggie Ferguson opened for Brian and I at our Halloween Live at the Living Room/Blue Note Cafe’ show last year. It was meaningful for many of us to sing a song in memory of her talent and friendship.

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We were honored to be asked to lead a song very early in the show. David of Mustard’s Retreat is a dear friend of my brother Eric Oscar, and his wife Diana/Otterwise. We finally got to meet briefly, and he asked us to get up there and lead the packed audience (and packed stage) in a number.

We chose to lead “When the Red Red Robin Goes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along.” We whistle on that number in two places. We invited everyone to whistle with us. It was pretty incredible to hear not only people singing along with the verses, but whistling by the hundreds, all at one time. I loved it!!!

Thanks to Jack Ferguson for telling Shirley and the rest of the Thumbfest gang about us. We had just the best time, ever!

Update 9/7, 11pm Eastern: For those who were involved with the event and who would like to see a full set of photos, you can go to my Flickr account (user name colorjoy) and choose the Thumbfest 2009 photoset, or just click the link in this paragraph.

Photos: 1) Moonsqualler; 2&3) Country Jam at Jam Tent; 4) Eire America (Kitty Donohoe and David Mosher); 5) Sam Corbin and Jen Sygit; 6) Duality; 7) View from behind Smackwater stage, taken from restaurant; 8 ) Harbor View (there is a good beach here); 9) Yellow Room Gang (Jim Bizer, David Tamulevich, Kitty Donohoe, David Barrett, Annie Capps, Jan Krist, Michael Hough, Matt Watroba, not in that order on stage); Hootenanny with The Fabulous Heftones (Me and Brian) leading Red Red Robin.

Knitting Progress: Sunset Stole

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Again, I’ve been on the road and needed knitting that did not require much focus. Lately, I have been taking the Sunset Square Stole with me (it named itself).

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This is my mitered square project using Zauberball sockyarn. I am building the miters into diagonal lines, rather than attaching horizontally which is common.  I think it really accentuates the very long and gradual color changes in this amazing yarn.

The more I work with this yarn, the more I like it. It is soft but not weak. It is a “singles” (one ply only) but is neither spun too tight (scratchy/stiff) nor too loose (splits during decreases). It has nylon for extra strength. No doubt it is not as strong in socks as a multiple-ply yarn. However, the structure used allows this amazing color sequence. Totally worth any trade off!

I do not know if I would like socks with it on my size foot (US 6 narrow). I can not believe I would even complete one full color repeat on one sock. Maybe for a larger foot, that would not be an issue. If I were in the mood for coordinating-but-not-matching socks, that could still work.

As it is, I think all the colors are so beautiful I do not want to miss out on seeing any of them in the piece I knit. This is working well for my design plans right now.

I think I will need at least 2-1/2 to 3 balls of this yarn to make my stole (rectangular wrap). I’m not quite half way through the second ball right now, but I still enjoy the knitting.

I spent time on the porch on Sunday, recovering from a very-full, overpacked sort of Saturday. I knit some on this piece and some on a sock, and did some working-in of yarn ends on the sock as well.

Here is a shot of the beautiful stole in progress, on my wonderful-but-underused hammock. I got the hammock in Yucatan, Mexico when I was there with Brian in 1996. It’s a prized posession.

Drat! Autumn is Here.

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

firstautumn09verticalThe Inevitable

I love summer. I don’t do well when there is a chill in the air. I’m already wearing wool sweaters at night for the last few weeks, loving the fabric but disliking the need for it.

But now, I am seeing color in the trees. To be honest, this year it waited until September which is OK with me. Some years I see color on the second week of August.

The Upsetting

Also appearing this week: Newly stupid squirrels who seem to run like Road Runner. They sit in the mddle of the street (often with a nut in their mouth) not knowing where to go.

When they finally decide to run (for safety?)  They inevitably run in front of a car. They are FAST, and unfortunately talented at becoming fuzzy bumps on the road. Ick.

Somehow they must want to run to their own tree “for safety,” even when the tree requires passing into traffic to get there. They did not evolve in a way that can translate cars into the equation.

A New Tenant

We have a squirrel in our attic. Again, after maybe 9 months of peace on that front.

I feel almost like I’m in a war zone, being attacked, when this happens. I have no serenity when there is a squirrel above my head… making plans for winter, without my permission.

We will have to figure out where this one got in, this time. I was so happy to have them gone!

Bad News/Good News

This is the first fully-autumn tree I saw this year. Sigh. At least it is pretty.

Come out to Thumbfest!

Friday, September 4th, 2009

If anyone in Michigan is looking for a fun activity Saturday (September 5), consider Thumbfest! It’s in Lexington, Michigan, on the East coast of the lower peninsula about 20 miles north of Port Huron/Sarnia. In the “Thumb” of Michigan, of course!

heftones243squaresafetyIt is a one-day festival, chock-full of performers and other fun. I wish I were not singing in an overlapping timeslot with Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin, I would so love to see them!

The Fabulous Heftones (me and Brian)  are in a Jam with Moonsqualler on the Jam Site, from 11:30-noon. We will be on the Smackwater Block Stage from 1-1:30, then we will be doing a ukulele workshop in workshop area B from 3-3:45pm.

Finally, at 9pm there will be a “Hootenanny” for all musicians led by Mustard’s Retreat, from 9:00pm to 10pm. It is going to be a fun-filled day.

The weather is expected to be sunny and in the upper 70’s. It could not be more perfect. Please consider coming out!

A Vacation Day

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

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On Tuesday, I had finished Mom’s books for the school districts (Mom worked on this deadline for 2 years, I worked on them for more like 1.5 years) and felt like giving myself a little reward. I gave myself a day off, no deadlines, no expectations.

After a lovely walk and chat at Mama Bear’s restaurant with friend Cynthia, I wandered home slowly and methodically. When we took our walk, we passed by Turner-Dodge house and the gardens were more colorful and exhuberant than ever this year. I am not sure why I did not take photos at that point. I think I was just enjoying the moment, a good thing.

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So when I drove home past Reutter Park, I stopped and took photos of that beautiful late-summer spot. This was once a scary place to go (at least at night), back in the mid-70’s. There are still folks who hang out there who have little to their name, but it also is full of Cooley Law School students walking to/from class, and downtown workers taking walks on their breaks. Everyone leaves boundaries for the others, no trouble at all. Cityfolk, you know? We all belong.

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Back in the 90’s I remember that the fountain was not operational and they filled it with gorgeous potted mums in the autumn. I took photos (on film) of that, I wonder where I put them. This week, I got photos of the spray going everywhere. (Across the street from the park is a beautiful building, the downtown branch of the library, also shown here.)

cooleypurplefoliage16I then proceeded only a few blocks further, and stopped at Cooley Gardens. This is located between Oldsmobile/ GM land and the I-496 downtown highway. There is a view of the three smokestacks above a power plant owned by Board of Water and Light, a locally-owned utility, from the gardens (not pictured). I just love how lush and wonderful this tucked-away mid-city space is.

When I got there, I found first one woman alone, admiring how wonderful it was after leaving work at noon that day. She commented that she somehow liked it even better than the garden at Frances Park. I agreed… Frances is very formal and controlled, and Cooley has an energy that just shows the growth and health of the plants there. It’s just gorgeous.

I told that woman how beautiful Turner-Dodge garden had been, and she was considering a visit there before going home. Cool!

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Acooleygardenlynncloseupfter we chatted, two more women approached us. They had come together to enjoy the garden. One commented that my colors (particularly my floral skirt) were perfect for the garden. She insisted on taking a few photos of me with my camera. What a kind thought!

You know, you can make acquaintance easily with good people if you allow it. I’m glad I did.

So here I am on my vacation day. It was just wonderful, really. A glorious, warm, sunny late-summer day, with no obligations. What a treat!

The final photo is a sunken garden accessible from the Cooley Gardens parking lot, but outside the gates to the garden itself. What a big project that one must have been to build! I am sure that it was someone’s pride and joy when it was first installed.

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