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Archive for October, 2009

One of These is Not Like the Other

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

I am excited to be puttering away at a new legwarmer pattern. The idea is to have it work for more heights than the first one I wrote.

I want the pattern to work for ankle warmers, up-to-the-knee standard legwarmers, and thigh-high legwarmers, in one pattern. In order to make this more do-able (especially for those ladies with curvy/goddess leg shapes), I have been working with ribbing.

The first anklewarmer I made, I can wear happily. I had my friend Marie try mine on. Normallyunmatchedanklescolorcorrectedweb for the Road-Tested Legwarmer pattern, I would knit her four more stitches in Aran-weight yarn. That is something like an extra inch of wiggle room beyond my size.

It really worked. She can get *my* legwarmer over her knees in a snug, but comfy way. Score.

So I made a second ankle warmer at the same height/out of the same yarn as the first. Can you see what I didn’t see until I put these on for a photo?

OK, so the heights look uneven, but that is the camera angle and my pose. They are the same height, straight-on.

OK, the stripes don’t match up. That’s the nature of the beast, so I expected that.

It’s Mochi Plus yarn (a worsted-weight version of the Mini Mochi fingering-weight yarn that came out last year). For the record, this yarn is great for non-scratchy legwarmers… it’s really softly spun but has some nylon to give it even more bounce-back-ability than a lot of other soft wools and wool blends.

So if it’s not the stripes or height, what went funky? Well, the first one I knit (on the left/back leg in the photo), I worked a K2P2 ribbing. On the second one, at right here, I worked a K3P1 ribbing. Hmmm.

I like the smoothness of the 3 knits in a row, but it doesn’t stretch quite as well as the first one. It also is not reversable as K2P2 is, so a folded-over top cuff would have a different look (which is either interesting or distracting, depending on the knitter/wearer).

I am very fond of K3P1 ribbing as a general rule. However, particularly because of the extra stretch and the reverseability (is that a word?) of the K2P2, I’m leaning toward using that, as I had originally planned.

Input, anyone??? I am listening.

Autumn in Lansing, MI

Friday, October 16th, 2009


I took a number of photos Tuesday, as I drove from commitment to commitment. The colors were amazing, I’m glad I had a few minutes to stop and see the colors. I’m happy to share them with you now.


It’s hard for me to see that autumn is already here. Last year we had the most miserable, unflinching winter in years and years. Then this summer it never got hot enough for us to put the air conditioner unit in the window. And now it is cold, we’ve had frost, and summer is gone before we even had a single really hot day.


I harvested the tomatoes not a whole week ago, when we got frost. This year I got one single red tomato. Ironically, four of the five I picked this week were from a plant called “Early Girl.” She did not give me the one red one I got earlier… and I had to pick her fruit at frost time, still green. That sort of tells you how summer was around here. She was “Maybe Girl” or “Whenever Girl” this year.


Actually, two of the picked tomatoes looked as though they were really trying to be yellow when I picked them. In only a handful of days, two are looking more red than yellow and two others are coming along for the ride. The smallest one may not turn at all, it was not on its plant long. However, that was the plant I got the red fruit from earlier, so we will forgive it.

For the record, I had a third plant. It did not even blossom. That’s what we got for summer this year.


The good news… colorful fall foliage. Incredible. Sometimes I notice in construction zones, that the leaves basically match the electric orange road signs. Nature can deliver a punch when she is good and ready!!!


Last photo: This cluster of climbing roses was going strong two Tuesdays ago (October 6). Cynthia and I passed by the Turner-Dodge mansion/garden and stepped over to see things more closely. The roses are mostly rose hips now, but this one bunch was quite more optimistic than I was. It was worthy of a photo to honor that late-season determination!


Finished Z-Cowl

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I like it. I felt stylish all day with this over my cashmere sweater.

Retro Dance/Betty Grable

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I love dance, especially love the sort in musical theatre. I’m also into retro stuff. So when I found Betty Grable in “How Come You Do Me….” on Youtube, I watched. Several times. Even though normally I’m not much into video or movies…

The last time I watched this video, I turned off the sound. Wowie. These dancers are so amazingly in sync that you might think they were animations or something.

The costumes are pretty hot, even for current standards. They flash legs, then cover, then show again. But hey, the grrl is just plain gorgeous and she doesn’t take it all off. Not everyone will like that part, but for me it’s part of the theatrics.

Loved it. Some of you out there will, too.

I’ve Been Knitting

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Mostly, a certain bluish-turquoise  mohair sweater has taken over my sitting-still life. I started 5 days ago and here she is now, ready to start armholes on the back:


Fortunately, I sometimes need something more portable to knit. This assures that I can not stay totally focused on one project.

The hat-turned-neckwarmer is looking lovely. I’m almost out of the color-changing yarn so I think I’m almost done knitting this. Maybe another two more purplish/blue stripes can be finished, probably not more.


I do plan to finish off both top/bottom edges of this cowl, with one round of single crochet in the solid turquoise. I cobbled a fix when I cast on the wrong number of stitches, and so even if I liked the edge I have now, it would not look consistent.

Besides, crochet is excellent for edgings on knitting. I will enjoy that. My wrist does not like crocheting very long, but I enjoy the change of pace when it is just the right solution for edgings.

Great Sock Designs, Great Interview

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Anne Hanson of Knitspot has interviewed Janel Laidman, author, about her new socknitting book. The book is called The Enchanted Sole, Legendary Socks for Adventurous Knitters.

I have met both Anne and Janel a number of times, and admire the work of both (very different, quite exellent in different ways). Anne is gifted with words as well as knitting design, and she put together an excellent interview on her blog.

I love Janel’s designs for this book. As a fanatic about colorwork (two or more colors of yarn used on the same row, in this case throughout the entire sock), I find a few of her patterns incredibly inspired, unusual, and beautiful. They definitely are “adventurous” but totally worth the effort.

For the record, there is much variety in the book. If you don’t prefer colorwork, there is plenty for you as well. She has toe up socks, and top down socks, all sorts of choices abound.

Perhaps you would like to read the interview, also?

(You can follow Janel on Twitter with her username of bonnetbees.)

Busy, Good Weekend!

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

I had a good weekend, I hope you did as well. Brian and I (The Fabulous Heftones) sang at Altu’s on Saturday night, which was pleasant as always. Thanks to friends, fans and family who came out for the show!


Sock Class!

Sunday I taught a “Sock in a Day” class. Really it is more “structure of a sock” in a day, what folks actually come out of the class with is a very small footie with a rolled top finish. They learn toe, heel, gusset, and tricks for binding off and finishing a toe-up sock.

I’m showing Peggy’s sock from today. The yarn is Panda Silk DK, a beautiful yarn indeed.

Thanks to Marilyn and Peggy for driving over an hour to come to my class! We had a great time and they enjoyed lunch on the East Side so they got the flavor of our wonderful neighborhood as well as a class.

Gratitude for Rest

It looks like I’m heading into a typically frenzied LynnH week. I’m happy I had a day and a half of quiet rest at home on Friday/Saturday morning.

It’s wonderful to have enough time to rest a whole day… and then for part of a second day, do things like laundry and the like. That just felt like luxury, after having eight weekends in a row with travel or a performance involved.

Rested, refreshed, rejuvenated! I’m ready for a new week. I hope you feel the same.

Chilly Day, Warm Cake (Recipe)

Saturday, October 10th, 2009


No Wheat, Please

I keep finding new friends who (like me) can not eat wheat successfully, for any number of reasons. This makes me more inspired to post the recipes I’ve evolved over my years of doing without wheat, corn, and many-many-many other ingredients.

Thursday night for dinner we ate fresh mustard greens, sauteed with onion and protein-embellished with particularly smooth and creamy chickpeas. It was tasty but we did not make any rice, pasta, or quinoa to go with it as we might typically do.

cakerecipesheetSo it was time for a warm treat straight out of the oven. I don’t like frosting (and powdered sugar typically contains cornstarch, which is no good for me). Instead, I topped the warm cake with freshly whipped cream (brown sugar, not white) and a few tiny chocolate chips on it.

Recipe History

This recipe evolved from a WWII ration-era cake recipe from King Arthur Flour company. Unfortunately, their flour is wheat and I can’t use it. (If you can, their website has many recipes.)

Their no-egg recipe was a good place to start, anyway. I’ve evolved it over the years to make things stick together better, without using wheat. I also removed a few ingredients I can’t have, changed a measurement or two, just basically tweaked it until it felt “just right,” as Goldilocks would say.

An internet/knitting friend told me about this recipe in 2002. I’ve been refining it ever since. There are many ways to make it work, but this is the one I use most often.

Buckwheat is this Wheat-Free Baker’s Friend

I use a lot of buckwheat in my baking, which is not at all related to wheat regardless of the name. It has no gluten, so it’s perfect for celiac persons as well as wheat-sensitive folks like me.

The brand of buckwheat flour makes a difference, as they are all milled to different textures, from sand-coarse to fine powder. I usually use Arrowhead Mills, which has a close texture to all-purpose wheat flour and is excellent for substituting in “ordinary” recipes.

Here’s my recipe:

Warm-the-Heart No-Wheat Chocolate Cake

1-1/2 cup Arrowhead Mills buckwheat flour (could sub Hodgson mills, not Bob’s which is too coarse… need powdery texture instead)

1 cup brown sugar (can sub white, brown is stickier… good in wheat-free baking)

1/4 cup baking cocoa powder, unsweetened (not drink mix)

1 tsp baking soda plus 1/2 tsp unbuffered vitamin c crystals,
1-1/2 tsp baking powder (many contain cornstarch)

OPTIONAL: 2 Tbsp powdered goat milk (adds protein and body to cake, no flavor, I almost always add this)

6 Tbsp oil (I used olive, use what you have)

1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a 10″ deep dish glass pie plate, place all dry ingredients and blend well with fork or wire whisk. Small lumps of brown sugar will remain.

Add oil and water, mix until all dry ingredients are wet but no longer than absolutely necessary.

Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes. (If you have substituted any ingredients, the baking time may change.) Done when toothpick placed in center comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes if you can stand to wait that long. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if you can tolerate dairy, maybe Rice Dream or Soy Delicious if not (read ingredient labels carefully if you are food-sensitive). Or your own favorite topping, of course!

This cake holds together well enough to be finger food with a napkin to catch a few crumbs. Not bad for no wheat, eggs or xanthan gum!

When in Doubt, Cast On

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Today I had the blues until it was past dark. Dinner really helped a lot, actually… we found some frozen chicken leftovers, put it with some extra-special chicken broth, some frozen vegetables and spiral rice pasta. Comfort food for a rainy, blah sort of day.

Turning the Mood Around: Turquoise Yarn

citykidz011106bymariam5I’ve been putzing around with the idea of knitting a replacement for my favorite sweater. It’s so worn, even the tush and shoulders (where I carry my purse) are worn out, not just elbows.

I wear it at home because it’s light and warm, and the color makes me happy. But I miss wearing it outside the house. (This is the only photo I can find of me wearing the sweater, taken back in 2006.)

I got some aqua mohair on clearance at Threadbear last year, the right color but a thicker yarn. I hoped to use that to replace the beloved sweater.

The Proper Tools

So I did a swatch and ended up with 7mm/10.75 needles to get a reasonably drapey fabric, at 11 stitches in 4 inches/10cm. Wowie, that’s seriously fat yarn!


Then I started up my wonderful computer program called KnitWare Sweaters 2.5. It lets me choose basic shapes of sweater, sleeve, and neckline. Then I measured the sweater I actually own, and was able to override the measurements the program gave me, with the measurements of my existing sweater.

The program has a feature where you actually swatch X number of yards of yarn on your needles at the gauge you intend for the sweater. It then tells you an estimate of how much yarn you will need for your design.

Whoops! I had 10 balls and needed something like 18. Next! It was clearly time for Plan B. That clearance yarn is long gone from the shop, I don’t know where else to find it, and even a search of folks’ stashes on Ravelry came up short.

This news was determined last night after midnight. I decided instead of problem-solving right then, I’d cast on something immediate and quick.

A Temporary Diversion

I started a hat I found on Ravelry. Of course, I tried to use different yarn than it had specified, and a different number of stitches.

It calls for sockyarn. I used worsted weight… Patons Classic in turquoise, and some leftover Noro Kureyon in blues/purples/greens.

For comparison, her hat has 11 “sections” in the pie, so to speak, and mine has only 6. The yarn is about twice as thick as specified, maybe more. The resulting knitted item looks warm, but not drapey.


The fabric is gorgeous, but it is not going to behave as I like my hats (yes, I’m picky). I think I’ll end up with a neck cowl… a very lovely one, but not a hat. I think it will be a success, but a different one than I intended when I started.

Back to the Sweater

Today, I went into deep stash. I knew I had what were intended as sweater-quantities of mohair in both turquoise and pink. The pink I have earmarked for a particular project. The turquoise was waiting for inspiration.

I got this yarn long ago, when I was still a computer consultant. I spent months on a particularly complex project, and bought mohair to reward myself when it was done. I’m grateful now for that stash.

This “new” yarn needed a new swatch. It’s thinner yarn, closer to the sweater I already own, and knit at 13 st/4″ (the existing sweater is 16 st/4 in.). The good news? I have 20 balls of yarn and KnitWare thinks I need maybe 12. SCORE!

So I printed out a pattern from my software. And I cast on.


The color I ended up with is very nice, but darker and bluer than I had in mind. I choose to go with what works, and what is already in this house, paid for. A turquoise sweater that fits like the one I love, in a different variation of turquoise, will work fine.

I’ve knit the ribbing of the back and a few rows of the flat stockinette. Knitting yarn this fluffy surely moves quickly! I’m so used to smaller gauges, that seeing nearly 2″ of fabric on my needle so soon is quite gratifying.

Stretching My Comfort Zone

Don’t faint, friends, but I decided to knit it in pieces and seam it. Yes, I normally knit in tubes/in the round.

However, I figure if my gauge changes as it sometimes can, I can adjust the size of the second piece (I’ve done this before, don’t laugh). That can make it still come out fine without reknitting a whole tube.

The truth is, I don’t mind sewing. The sleeves are modified drop so the sewing will be relatively simple. And I guess I’ve finally made peace with 80 purled stitches in a row. I think I couldn’t stand 200, but 80 is not making me crazy as it once would have.

Now, please excuse me while I go knit something lightweight and fuzzy. And turquoise!

An Unexpected “Weekend”

Friday, October 9th, 2009

leaf1I have been really feeling the stress of all our travel lately. I have been on the road and/or singing a gig, every weekend since August started. I’ve been celebrating half-days off to get a sense of relief.

In this business, it’s hard to teach when most of my potential students are at work 8-5, M-F. Therefore, I tend to schedule almost every night, and every Sat/Sun, to teach. I don’t work 8 hour days but I often work 7 day weeks because of this.


leaf2I love my work, but everyone needs a “jammies day” sometimes. It has been so long since I had a full day to just do whatever made sense to me (one option being nothing), that I was suffering.

Today I discovered that Friday/Saturday are now unexpected days off from teaching. My voice has been tired lately and so this is a big gift, seeing as we’re singing on Saturday night.

leaf3And now I can unpack the suitcases fully, since we have no more trips scheduled in 2009. I expect I can do some laundry and maybe make a crockpot of soup from frozen leftovers, or something. Just stay home and catch up on things that day-job people do without it being a big deal.

I told a friend this week that some of you who read this blog, have written to me saying that you think I get so much done! It looks so different from my own viewing point.

leaf5My house is in constant disarray, and I don’t feel productive at all. I work constantly but not always efficiently.

It’s true my to-do list is unrealistic, but who else will do my work? I must admit I never am bored, and that is as I wish it to be.

So today I will live in gratitude about time off. I can knit. I have several work projects to knit and a few I wish to do just for me. We’ll see what I end up knitting. I’ll definitely do some of that.

It’s raining. It’s a perfect day to stay home. I intend to drink in the luxury!


Photos: Autumn in Lansing, Michigan. Our house with the wonderful always-glorious-colored maple tree in front, and leaves I found in our yard. Today it’s raining but a day or two ago I got these photos and it was really a beautiful day.

Fabulous Heftones at Altu’s East Lansing

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

heftonesafricanclothingBrian and I, as The Fabulous Heftones, will be performing at Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine in E. Lansing this Saturday. Performance times are 6:30 to 8:30.

The food is incredible. Altu cooks the best vegetarian food I know, and we usually prefer it to her meat dishes (which are also flavorful) though we do eat meat at times.

I must confess, though, the spicy chicken (also known as Doro Wat) brings back good memories of my time in Ethiopia. It’s something of a “national dish” and since I was the guest of honor for 5 weeks, I ate that dish a lot. Yum!

Ethiopian food is essentially presented in very thick stews. She has mild and spicy dishes, she has veggie and meat (including lamb, which is a big treat to some folks).

Traditionally, you would get the food presented on one large platter, family style. In Ethiopia, they eat the stews with their hands, by using pieces of the flat bread to pick up a bite at a time, almost like tiny tacos or something.

The traditional “bread” is like a very stretchy thick crepe with a sort of sourdough flavor. The bread is made with Teff flour, and in Michigan the altitude is such that Altu adds a little wheat flour to make the texture right.

If you prefer, you can have a personal plate rather than a shared platter. If you want steamed rice instead of bread, you can get the stew on a bed of rice. They have forks, too, for those who prefer it. I have friends who are celiac and can not have any wheat at all. They do fine at Altu’s when they order the rice instead of bread.

My mom and friend Regina are big fans of a personal plate with a bed of rice, and a dish that is a lot like beef stew with vegetables. It’s mild and is somewhat familiar for those who enjoy standard “American” foods.

Then there are the lima bean fans. I’m one, friend Cynthia is also in that crowd. Altu usually has to talk people into trying the limas the first time, because most of us have only had grainy ones with no flavoring. She uses fresh or frozen, never dry or canned, and they are smooth and creamy in texture.

The lima beans are mild (lots of flavorings including subtle garlic, onion and ginger) but not bland by any stretch. If you go to the restaurant, ask for a small taste of this delicacy. If you like any beans at all, you will be more than pleasantly surprised.

So does anyone want to join us? It’s a very family-friendly place, bring kids or friends. We would love to see you!!!

Please Join Me Wednesday

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

On Wednesday/tomorrow, I will be presenting a program at Okemos Hope Borbas Public Library, on the topic Lose the Fear, Seize the Joy! Color Choices without Color Theory.

Okemos is East of East Lansing, Michigan. I realize that not all of my readers are in this area, but I’m doing my part to make the library glad to have me there!


The event runs from 7pm to 8pm. The library is at 4321 Okemos Road. This is between Mount Hope and Jolly Roads, on the west side of the street.

I will bring a large pile of yarns and a number of knitted items to illustrate the points I will make. Those who choose to, will knit experimental pieces putting colors together and just seeing how they work out. Others can observe without expectations on my part.

If you plan to knit, bring needles in a size from US 5 to US 8. I may have a few pairs to loan out, as well, but it is hard to tell how many folks might need them.

I hope you can join me!

The Gold in My Life is Brian

Monday, October 5th, 2009

It’s the anniversary of my wedding to Brian, 13 years today. Other than just plain being alive and well, I can not think of a better thing to celebrate.

What would I do without Brian? He is down to earth, funny, unflappable, thoughtful, humble, dependable.

I’m loud, enthusiastic, impulsive, able to do frequent-flyer miles with my feet on the ground. I can bounce off walls, so to speak… though I’m capable of quiet, as well. I’m also crazy about my man, in all the right ways.

heftonesquare101Somehow he likes me, the whole package. When I worry, he tells me to just be myself, and people will like me, things will work out fine. He keeps proving himself right. I can not tell you what gold this is in my life.

Happy anniversary, Brian. I’m rich because of us.

Abby’s First Project Ever!

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Abby came to me wanting to knit. She started with this hat, and look at how well she did. Her first knitting project, ever. She learned quickly.

Most people think they need to start knitting with a scarf. I say, learn faster by making a hat (which contains more techniques than a scarf, though not too many too fast). It seems to work well.


Congratulations to Abby… look out, she has already started her second project. It will be child-sized socks, using my First-Time Toe-Up Socks pattern. She learns fast!