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Archive for December, 2009

Fun Photos: Gramma Ruthie (1920’s-1950’s)

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

I was digging through old photos on my computer this week. I found two of my “Gramma” Ruthie that I think are classic.

Here she is as a young unmarried woman, small town Minnesota but bobbed hair and as flapper as one could get. She’s the one at far right. I think she looks like she’s got something up her sleeve, in more ways than one.

Notice she’s shorter than the others but can you just see that they are paying attention to her? She had magnetism. She could “hold court.” The woman was fun, I remember her laughing frequently.


Here she was, I think my dad was in his 20s when this was taken. We’re talking probably mid-1950’s here. Doesn’t this look like a staged, cliche’ photo? Well, it was not at all.


You see, Grandma and Grandpa owned the Henderson Independent (Minnesota) newspaper then. Grandpa was a man of few words, and he was a printer who was very detail oriented. He did a very good job of getting that paper typeset and printed. (Later they owned the Janesville Argus, also small-town Minnesota but more like 1200 people)

Grandma? Oh, I’m so much like her  in personality it’s a little spooky. She was spunky, outgoing, personable, and she had been a “Girl Friday” before she married grandpa (whatever that job title meant, that is how they described her in the wedding announcement when they were wed). She knew how to work.

Grandma would get on the phone and call people and ask them what was up. Then she would write. And write. And write some more. She wrote the entire newspaper, once a week. I think the town was under a thousand people (they had come from a town of just over 400 people).

No doubt she did a bit of the advertising sales as well. Grandpa made sure that the words she wrote, got printed and distributed. But Grandma was the talking part of that partnership.

I often say “I have never run out of words.” Certainly, one could have said that about Ruthie, too.

I think I look more like my aunt Ruth (Mom’s sister). Photos of her at 13 and me at 13 are amazingly similar. But how do I act? Gramma Ruth. All the way.

(Here is another of Ruthie as a young woman. I want to say they were on vacation for this one, but I know nothing for sure.)


We are who we are. I’m glad to be at a point where I can just notice and observe who I am, for the most part. I’m so scattered at times that it’s a hassle. However, that ability to notice and be distracted also helps me draw creative connections I might not see otherwise.

One last one. Under this photo in Grandpa’s tidy photo album, he wrote “My Ruthie.” Precious, for a man of few words. I once worked this up, thinking I would use it for a poster or T-shirt for our musical act (the music was popular when Ruthie looked like this). I never did, but you can see the product of my work here.


The photos are good enough without text, but I just had to tell the stories I know. I may have some of the specifics wrong, but the essence is real.

Gramma’s not gone. She’s got a few kids and grandkids around, still being just as passionate and social as she was. Gramma is in me.

Can I hear a big “WooHoo!!!” ???

Monday, December 28th, 2009

keyscoinstbearwebMay I introduce to you, the “Keys & Coins Andean-Style Hat?” The pattern is final. I’m about ready to have a party!!!

(If you click the above link, you will be sent to the Ravelry.com page with more information about the pattern. You need a free membership to Ravelry to see it.

If you are not a member, it will offer you the opportunity. If you knit, I highly recommend it as a resource.)


You know, some patterns seem to happen spontaneously, and quickly. My One-Day Neckwarmer fell into that category. I have had relatively few of those, but they do exist.

On the other hand, some patterns I have much passion for… and they can stump me. I get to a certain place and I just get stuck solving a problem for a while.

My ZigBagZ, the Chippy Socks for Kids, and the Road-Tested Legwarmers all required a time-out for a while. They have become excellent patterns for me, but they sure did occupy space on my “To Do” list for too long!


So, as you can see, I have been dealing with one more of those months-and-months patterns. I think this one took about a year from concept and first cast on, and just now, when I have become clear that it’s ready for a debut.

Big, Huge, Thanks!


I often try to do things alone. It is just impossible in this line of business. And allowing others into my process is often fun for them, as well. I’m learning.

This pattern included eight hats, many ear flaps (see three at right) three knitters, much advice and input from many who love me. Most but probably not all of them are in this list:

Jenn F.
Elizabeth S.
The Thursday-Night Crowd at Rae’s Yarn Boutique

Thanks to those who have been asking, calling and writing to me, asking for this design. It really does help me to know that I touched something in you, that you see a bit of what I saw when I had that first dream of a project.


So here is a stack of “a few” hats I had in front of me for a photo shoot Sunday. Some have ear flaps already attached but tucked in. Some still needed flaps attached at that point. Honestly, I still have some flaps to sew, but the pattern was more important than the samples. At least, at first.

The Yarns

You will ask. I don’t have color numbers for most of these yarns, but I do have which yarns I did use for all of them. The Main Color/MC is the multicolored background yarn. The Contrast Color/CC is the solid used on the very bottom edge and for the circles, stripes, etc.

So… here they are, the yarns used in the photo just above. The list starts with the top hat and works down.

MC: Noro Kureyon, dark greens/purples; CC: Nashua Snowbird, light green marl (Snowbird is thicker than the others, at 73 yd/ 50gm).
MC: Crystal Palace Mochi Plus, rainbow; CC: Berroco Lustra, turquoise.
MC: Elegant Yarns Kaleidoscope, pink/apricot; CC: Cascade Softspun, soft turquoise.
MC: Noro Kureyon, turquoise/purple/wine; CC: Cascade Cloud 9, hot green.
MC: Mondial Bizarre, orange/yellows; CC: Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran, muted teal.
MC: Noro Cashmere Island, purple/green/blue; CC: Southwest Trading Karaoke, solid turquoise.
  • MC: Noro Kureyon, dark greens/purples; CC: Nashua Snowbird, light green marl (Snowbird is thicker than the others, at 73 yd/ 50gm).
  • MC: Crystal Palace Mochi Plus, rainbow; CC: Berroco Lustra, turquoise.
  • MC: Elegant Yarns Kaleidoscope, pink/apricot; CC: Cascade Softspun, soft turquoise.
  • MC: Noro Kureyon, turquoise/purple/wine; CC: Cascade Cloud 9, hot green.
  • MC: Mondial Bizarre, orange/yellows; CC: Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran, muted teal.
  • MC: Noro Cashmere Island, purple/green/blue; CC: Southwest Trading Karaoke, solid turquoise.

The yarns for the top 2 and bottom 2 in the stack, were from Rae’s Yarn Boutique. The green/blue hat third from bottom, is from Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan. The one third from top (also shown at the beginning of this post) was from Threadbear Fiberarts.

The rainbow hat pictured below is in a small adult size without earflaps, modeled by the lovely A. who is I think 16 years old now? Maybe 15. I can’t keep track.

Some folks like flaps on looser hats, and this pattern has sizes from Newborn to Adult XL, which should allow for a bit of adjusting for personal preference.


The Pattern, Near Lansing, Mich.

All of these are Lansing-Area Shops… all shops where I teach. All shops where you will be able to get the patterns very soon. Rae’s should have this on Monday at some point.

The Quick Answer for Non-Lansing Folks

So where can you get this pattern instantly, at 4am? Or, assuming you don’t have access to Lansing, Michigan at this point? Mind you, I recommend supporting local shops as much as possible, but we all know that this blog reaches beyond my own corner of the world.

Right now, you can buy a downloadable PDF document if you Click This Buy-Now Link.

I am using Ravelry and PayPal to make this possible, but you need neither a Ravelry nor a PayPal account to make that purchase. A credit or debit card will work, and PayPal makes sure that it is a secure transaction, and that neither Ravelry nor I know any of your financial information.


Christmas Day Walk: One Block, Much Color

Sunday, December 27th, 2009


Our neighborhood has quite a variety of homes and styles. There are sections of 1920s bungalows, 1940s Cape Cod homes, an out-of-place but cool 60’s split level, and a bunch of 1900-1910 homes with front porches (some called four-squares). There are even a couple of houses that were once farm houses, before the other homes were built.


It seems that each block has its own personality. I joke that we live on the “Dandelion Side of the Street.” Just across our side yard, and behind us, the chemical spray fertilizer companies do a grand business. The yards are green and well-tended.

Our yard blooms, but grows without a lot of guidance. I love plants which “bloom where they are planted” without much help.


Well, back behind us and nearer a busier street, is one single block which has been very into decorating for Christmas, since I’ve lived here. Each year is different, as people come and go. But all the photos here, save for the last, came from that one block of Roberts Street.

If you live in Lansing, it is  just south of Mt. Hope Avenue, between Pennsylvania and Cedar. If you have a child who likes lights, this may be a good spot to check.


Of course, it looks different after dark, but our walk was in the afternoon. I think my camera does better in this light, anyway.


We always go for a walk on holidays. This block is usually the highlight of the walk.


For the record, all of the photos above this sentence, are from one household. To be fair, they do have a double lot. But wow, they are VERY into this decorating thing! The rest of these photos belong to one lot each, on that same block.







Guitar Man

And last, but not least… The Guitar Man. He plays guitar on street corners in Lansing, no matter what the weather. He’s got an orange bucket on that street corner, and I mean, corners where there is an abandoned gas station (thus nobody to tell him to move on).

Lansing is not much of a walking town, and he is stationed where few walk… where vehicle traffic is high. He works often, I see him a lot, and there are several corners he frequents.

This Christmas afternoon, we put a buck in his bucket but he was quite busy chatting with the guy in this pickup truck. He’d been playing when we’d rounded the block but found a buddy for a while, I guess. I got this photo from across the street, at the almost-empty huuuge Walter French Middle School. An amazing building, early 1900s red brick with limestone accents.

But the story of the school must wait for another day. Meanwhile, check out one of Lansing’s fixtures, the Guitar Man (see guitar on his back) chatting with Pickup Truck Guy.


By the way… while waiting at the corner by Guitar Man, for the light to change… a guy in a fancy SUV was playing some jazz pretty loud, and I could hear it. So I danced my way down the sidewalk, in time to his music.

When the light changed, he honked at me on his way by, and gave me a peace sign. Sweet.


Pair #177, formerly Pair #135

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

I finished a pair of socks for Brian today. Their name is Pair #177. However, they are partially cloned from Pair #135, which I finished in early October of 2006. (Ravelry members can see my project page here.)


The original yarn is Socks that Rock Heavyweight. It has no nylon in it, so there is no surprise that they did eventually thin out.

I considered darning them, but there were thin spots from the toe through the heel and even up on the lower section of the leg portion. There was no way to darn these successfully. (Photo below is the original pair on their first day. The colors are off, but it’s a clue to how they looked.)


In good form (following my Norwegian ancestors who wasted nothing), I used the un-worn-out top leg portion of pair #135 as the top of this pair.

You Bet, I Cut. Otherwise I’d Toss!

I had to discard about the bottom inch of the leg because the fabric was weak. The leg was short already, and I wanted the new pair to be more generous. Therefore, from about 2 inches above the ankle, I reknit until I marked a place for the afterthought heel.


For an inch or so, I alternated the old yarn with the new, to make it have a better color transition.  I think I really succeeded. They do not look awkward as if I started with a new yarn.

Yarn Choices

The old yarn is a light worsted weight. The new yarn is actually two strands of sockyarn held together as one. I used a strand of a grass green Kroy 4ply, and a strand in army green, of what I believe is Regia but which may be Socka or some other standard sockyarn (it came in 50gm rounded balls).

I’m thinking that using the two colors of green together as one yarn, was a big help in the transition between the multicolored handpaint, and the new parts of the sock.

For those socknitters who are still with me, both pair #135 and #177 were knit  top down. Both had afterthought heels. The first pair was a bit snug on Brian, so I think he will enjoy wearing this rendition even more.

The Ups and Downs of Long-Term Creative Projects

I’m now pleased with the new pair. I sure had a few hiccups on the way, though!

The project started probably last June. We were on a road trip and I thought I would darn socks in the car. Instead I cut off the leg and started in on the knitting. I got most of the feet done in that week, if I remember right.

Then life got in the way. I knew where this project was, but it sat patiently for months.

When I got it back out? It looked like I needed to make two heels and the socks would be done. So I made the heels. I had Brian try one sock on. It was at least a half inch too short, maybe more. I figured I had to rip two toes and do it again.

When is a Pair not a Pair?

Mistake. Apparently one sock was an inch shorter than the other, and that was the one Brian had tried. I don’t remember anything about this from earlier knitting sessions… but clearly in looking later, I’d added more toe to the sock Brian did NOT try on. There were extra yarn ends to support this idea.

You can guess what happened next. I didn’t know they were different. I ripped out a toe to reknit it… but I ripped out the one that was the RIGHT length. Whoops!

I realized it at that point, when I put the socks next to one another to compare. The one I’d ripped, was missing a toe but the same length as the one which had a toe knit. Sort of funny, in retrospect!

The good news is my motto: “If you liked knitting it once, you’ll like knitting it again.” On Christmas morning I had two toes to reknit and I finished those. I worked in all the yarn ends (far too many) after lunch.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Pair… #135

Then I took a “Sweater Stone” to the old parts of the socks. They had a lot of pills on them from being well-loved since 2006. The stone is a mild pumice which is gentler on knitted fabric than a sweater shaver, yet it removes pills very well. In the photo below, I’ve used the stone on the left leg but not yet on the right.


So now the legs looks newer than they have in years. And the feet are truly new. I’m pleased. Brian’s also happy to have a usable pair again. Win/Win.

My Turn?

Now I get to work the ends in on a neckwarmer I knit in bits and pieces this last week (mostly while waiting in line). Rae gave me the kit of yarn, lovely Debbie Bliss Cashmere, for a variation on my One-Day Neckwarmer. I need only work in ends, block, and wear. Can’t wait!

Well, I also have work to do. I allowed myself 2 days of not doing work knitting, though I do have a test knitter on task for the “beanie” variation of the Keys & Coins hat.

I did do some photo editing for that pattern today. So, starting 12/26 I’m back to that job again, and it’s going very well.

The Elusive Purple Whip

Friday, December 25th, 2009

lynnericchristmas63I have decided that since I’m missing my father this holiday week, I would tell a bit of a family Christmas story. This probably took place in December of 1963, when my brother Eric was 3-1/2 years old and I was just 5. (I think the photo at right was from this very year.)

In those days we lived in a small village called Okemos. Although that town now has a mall, a Walmart, a Best Buy and all the fast foods, car dealers and other businesses that crop up around such things, in those days it was a quiet place. It was mostly professors and their families.

For those who know this area, there were fields where Meijer and the mall are now. The Grettenberger barn had animals in it. Now it is home to Pilgrim House Furniture.

This town had one large grocery store (Schmidts, the only place in town to buy vinyl LP records). It had one small grocery/butcher. There was a Miller’s ice cream parlor,  Grettenberger’s drug store, a couple of gas stations, Delinds’ Hardware and a few restaurants. Not much at all. However, my parents had grown up in a town of 400 people, and this village was more than 10 times larger. They did not venture out of town often (except Dad, for work).

Once a year we would go into East Lansing, to buy shoes and school clothing. And once a year we would go to the five and dime, just barely inside the E. Lansing city limit, to buy one another what we called “stocking gifts” for Christmas.

At this time, our spending limit was $0.50 per gift. We would split up, one kid and one parent, and buy for the two we had left behind. When those gifts were purchased, we would trade parents and buy the gift for the other parent.

In our family, we would open the gifts under the tree (from parents and family) on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas morning, we had a stocking full of goodies and a box labeled from Santa, plus the three stocking gifts from family members.

A brief aside, to explain what comes next…

Now, you must understand that my father was a man of passion and humor. He liked to joke a lot, and he particularly would joke about purple. Whenever we waited for a train to cross, he would have us look to see if this time, it might have a purple caboose. That was Dad.

So one time when he was joking around, he said that kids who were bad all year, would not get coal in their stocking… they would get a purple whip. I don’t know how he came up with that, probably it blurted out one time and then he stuck with the story. Mind you, Dad never spanked us, but he had this odd story about Christmas for some reason.

Back to the story…

Well, in 1963, Mom and Eric were together working on a  fifty-cent gift for Dad. And the store worker came over, to ask if she could help find anything. And Eric piped up, in his little toddler voice:

Do you have a purple whip?

Well, my Mom wanted to hide. She didn’t believe in whips, not even water squirt guns. At that point, she was still concerned what others thought of her. So here her child was asking for a weapon. Ack!

To feel better, she had to explain about Dad’s story about a Purple Whip instead of coal. And then they tried valiantly to find something in that store to substitute for a purple whip, since they were fresh out of whip stock that day!

Today we have many dollar stores. These stores are full of items which are the color purple.

However, in 1963 this was truly an unusual color. They worked very hard to find ANYTHING for half a buck, that was purple. (I remember my first clothing that was purple, was in 1970; knickers and a vest… but I digress.)

Finally, Mom and the store employee found a washcloth. It was white, but it had wide lavender stripes and a few thin dark purple stripes. They had to convince my tiny brother that this would be an acceptable substitute for his desired stocking gift.

Mom, of course, had to clue Dad in on the gift. He responded appropriately (he would be good at that part), that somehow Santa thought he had been bad and the like. Too funny.

That washcloth is 46 years old this week. My brother still has it. It’s nearly threadbare at this point, and the colors are faded, but it’s a precious memory.

Dad died in 1973, when he was merely 40, I was 14, and Eric was a week before his 13th birthday. Mom was a widow with two teenagers, at age 38 (ouch). Eric was young enough at that time to not remember Daddy very well, but he treasures this story.


My friends, relationship is all we really have when it comes down to it. Stuff is stuff. Stuff can be enjoyed but we can not really call that love.

We can be fond of  it, for sure. I love picking out what to wear from my closet, I like some of my gizmos and my CDs, and my musical instruments.

But today I have the memory of my zany father. And the best present for me today, is the realization, once again, that I have people around me who love me. Who appreciate me just as I am. (I have not always been this lucky.)

It’s hard to say “I love you” out loud, but I’ve found I need to do it often. I say it when others might not. I know that tomorrow I may not have the chance to say it again… life changes quickly and none of us know when our last day might be.

Holidays during the dark days, allow us a space to celebrate those who matter in our lives. If you can find a way to tell someone how much you appreciate them, I recommend it highly. It is unlikely you will regret having done it.

I knew, even at age 14… that when Daddy died, he had been clear about my love for him. That is still comforting to me. In some cultures, saying “I love you” is not common… but in that case, there are actions which can instead speak that meaning.

And I appreciate every one of you. Thanks for being part of my life… even on very busy months when I don’t get here to post as often as is my goal. I started blogging in November of 2002, and the friendships I have found here have made my life richer.

Now, go hug someone, or make them a cup of tea, or call them on the phone. Whatever you can do, let them know that they are a gift to you, more than a gizmo could ever be.

Blessed dark days to you, whatever you call this time of year. I think I might call it “relationship season.”


Thursday, December 24th, 2009


On December 23, around 4pm, I finished the decorative painting at Altu’s restaurant. There were still construction guys all over, so I could not take final photos, but I will. It looks very nice, I’m happy for her and proud I did it as well as I did.


Funny, I love the “dreaming” phase of creative projects. I often do not like the “executing ideas/work” part of the process. When I sewed, I disliked it from cutting until sewing it enough to put it on, for example.

The truth is, the executing part is full of uncertainty. There are no guarantees, just educated guesses. If you do not love the process, there are a lot of “butterflies in the stomach.” That is, until you are at a point where it’s clear things are working out.

In knitting, I do in fact enjoy every stitch in most of my projects. When I have a lot of purls in a row (as with my most recent not-yet-finished sweater), I don’t enjoy it as much. However, I only knit with yarn I like and I usually do the sorts of knitting I enjoy doing (colorwork and plain stockinette, knit in the round, using good yarn… but not so much cables or lace).

So the good news is, I got through the butterflies with Altu’s project. It only took me two full days and two shorter ones. It looks wonderful, Altu likes it. I like it. The construction crew likes it. Score.

More Kudos for Mom

Other progress? Ordered the first printed copy of Mom’s books. We told them to print so we can see how we did putting together the documents which make up the book.

I am having trouble with finding out how to use a non-standard copyright notice on a book printed by lulu.com; if anyone knows any hints I surely would like some. They used to have excellent service, both phone and online chat. Now they offer email only and I’m not hearing back from them.  But in any case, we have a book coming for Mom, and she’s delighted.

A Little Selfish Knitting: My Reward

Rae gave me a wonderful chunky cashmere yarn kit to make one of my One-Day Neckwarmers. I have been doing a few rows every once in a while for the last week. Wednesday I knit a bit on it while waiting for Sushi take-out, and then knit on it more at night.

I need to hide the yarn ends, and then I need to block it (get it wet to even out the stitches and help it un-curl… and in this case, soften the cashmere even further). Maybe I can even wear it on our walk on Christmas day? That would be so sweet!

Christmas Knitting?

Well, it wasn’t intended for Christmas, but I started a project for Brian months ago. I took an old pair of socks that were too worn to be darned… and cut off the feet, and started re-knitting the feet again.

This re-using still-good knitted portions of older items was once common practice. I’m Norwegian… they did this often. Why not do it still?

I found the socks today, they looked finished except for afterthought heels. So I finished an afterthought heel for Brian. It was too short. Redid the heel, still too short. Luckily, since I’m knitting down from the old cuff, I have a toe that is easy to rip out and reknit. Will be doing that.

It would be SO good if I could finish those on Christmas day!  It has been a long time since I’ve finished anything for him, and his old socks are slowly wearing thin. I’ve got yarn designated for him, but haven’t had time to act on that.

The good parts are… Brian has relatively small feet for a guy… and the yarn I’m using is two strands of fingering/sockweight yarn held together as one. On size 3 US /3.25mm needles. This will not take too long, and I’m finding it satisfying to realize it could be done so soon.

Sleep well if you can. I feel for parents of Santa-anticipating children tonight. I’m not that tough.

Another Long Day

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Painting, First

Today I spent a bit over 8 hours at Altu’s restaurant. The good part? I am painting her newdecorative basket-weave stripe and it looks great. It’s not done, but it’s perhaps 80% done.

After fussing and mulling over options (what colors, size, placement), we nailed a good combination of details. I’m glad.

Knitting, Next


I came home, had dinner after 10pm, put on warm cozy clothing, and went back to work on the Keys & Coins hat pattern.

I got a few new photos taken for illustrations in the pattern (but not downloaded from the camera yet). I finished an ear flap. I now have a whole pile of ear flaps which need blocking and sewing onto their hats.


Wednesday, I hope I have a lighter schedule. I get to sleep in, then Altu and I will enjoy lunch out, away from the restaurant. I will return there to finish at least all the painting in the main restaurant (I am not sure if I am doing the hallway, and if I am, that will wait for later).

THEN I get to come home. I can put 100% on the pattern finalization. I just got an approval from Ravelry.com for my “Featured Pattern” advertisement for that pattern. The ad starts on January 1. Right now I’m thinking the pattern will be ready for sale by the end of this week, about a week before the ad goes live.

Sleep, Last

For now… must sleep. I have not had this much trouble sleeping a full night in years. Too much to do!

Ready for a Rest

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Holiday Exhaustion

I have spent effort to keep my holidays “lite” for several years now. This year has been the best ever. My family gathering was around Halloween. Then we had a rather low-key Thanksgiving, and the Christmas parties started around December 8.

We just finished our last party on Sunday. I did not commit to any gift knitting, though I knit a few tiny socks and one tiny mitten as ornaments. Holidays lite.


So why am I without enough sleep? I’m so groggy I am confused about what day it is, what hour it is. I have no kids, no baking to do. Our tree is up (without ornaments) and I may or may not decorate it, I like the tinsel tree just by itself.


Painting Developments: Good

The good news? I think we figured out what is going to work as a decorative “basket” border at Altu’s new space. I was there just a short while today, doing another mock-up on brown paper, to tape to the wall and see how it looks from a distance.

I think I can paint Tuesday, because I think this design will work. I may not finish, but I believe I can make a good stab at it.

My Hat Pattern, You Ask?

So here I am at home tonight, knitting “like the wind” as Brenda Dayne of Cast-on podcast would say. I just finished the final test/proof knit of my Keys & Coins hat, at least the hat part. I still need to test the ear flap directions (I’m not the only one testing, for the record).

So now I have some minor editing to the pattern text as it’s currently written. I need to make flaps. I need to take photographs (which is best accomplished during daylight, hard to do on the shortest day of the year).

It is exciting, though. I took a sample hat with me to a Christmas gathering on Sunday. The folks there who knit, were quite excited about my design. It was fun to see how others do “get” what I am also passionate about.

Aiming for Sleep

And with that, a few edits, then some sleep. Altu’s restaurant needs me soon.

Photo: Rainbow version of Keys & Coins hat, this is a small size. The multicolored/main yarn is Crystal Palace Mochi Plus in a rainbow colorway, and Berroco Lustra in turquoise is the solid.

Come On, Sun!

Monday, December 21st, 2009

sunhappyMore Light?

My brother has a T-shirt appropriate to this week. It says something like “Sun: The Comeback Tour.”

According to one calendar, Monday is the first day of  Winter. This theoretically means our sunshine will be with us for a little longer every day starting on Tuesday? Or something close to that.

I’m ready. I miss July something fierce. I guess a week ago in Florida, it was in the 80’s F (for non-US folks, think Summer/July/August, sleeveless dresses, swimming pools). Then overnight, it was in the 60’s. Ugh.

However, here it is hovering just around freezing, making for very dangerous surface roads and bridges/highway overpasses. Just about a week ago, we had a lot of snow in Michigan (not as much in Lansing as in Grand Rapids, but plenty spread around). It is finally real winter weather here.

Holidays Continue

We had a lovely day with Brian’s family in Grand Rapids Sunday. The highway was clear but in places you could not tell if it was dry, moist, or black ice. We got there and back safely, but did not drive any faster than we thought was safe.

Cautious Travel, but Travel

I guess we must have gray hair now, because fast does not sound like a good option when there is any chance of spinning out. We have done that enough times for a lifetime (once is too many if you ask me). No chances taken here, beyond venturing out. Let’s face it, we can get hurt even at home… so staying here would provide no guarantee.

But I propose a toast (with hot chocolate, topped with organic whipped cream) to the sun! Come home, friend, we miss you!!!

Art will Not Hurry

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

I spent all day at Altu’s restaurant with the basketweave painted stripe as my goal. I made six possible color scheme mock-ups on paper, and we taped them to the wall to see what we thought.

We had to turn the lights to the settings intended for after construction is done. And in the end, none of my mock-ups really did the trick. Sigh.

However, I was also scheduled to paint a stripe on the wall at “chair rail” level, and we did figure out what color that should be. Funny, but we had not considered that particular color even a few days ago, but I’m glad the option occurred to us today.

SO: I painted one horizontal stripe, freehand, around the entire restaurant this evening. By the time I was done, Doug Berch was on break from his performance. I sat with him, and Cynthia, and Chris and Deb. Good folks all in the music community here in town. It was great to spend a little time with them.

The good news? We did some brainstorming and I think we are very close to the final design of the stripe. I’ll do another mock-up on Monday morning and we will see how that goes.

I have a good feeling that we can make a decision and start moving forward on Monday. I do have two appointments that day but I should be able to work a good number of hours. Let us hope for the best.

Painting Walls with Basketweave Stripe

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

My friend Altu’s restaurant, Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine, has been expanded for a second time. There are new walls, and the old walls got new paint. The old walls had a basketweave design on them that I designed and executed, probably in 2002 or 2003. See photo.

Today I paint the new walls. To be honest, I like dreaming about things but executing them is not my favorite part. This is a LOT of wall to cover and it will probably take several days.

I’m off…


Thursday, December 17th, 2009

The young knitter, K., who attends my Knitting Rocks! program most regularly, brought me a little gift for our last session in 2009. Check this out:


It’s a gift card to a Biggby Coffee. This company is now franchising all over the USA, but it started in Lansing, Michigan, where I live. It’s a favorite spot for artful folks, I love it there.

K. wrote the inscription inside, by herself. Good kid. (She is in 4th grade, if I remember correctly.)

I did not realize until I got this home, that the Candy Canes are taped to the card in such a way as to make two hearts. HOW SWEET. Awwwww…

Facing Reality

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Every year this happens to me… I pretend during the first few weeks in December that I’m all set with Christmas, that I have no gifts or whatever to worry about. Yeah, right.

Then I remember that there are people who I’ll see and who will buy or make things for me. Probably little things, no big deal, but that means I need to deal with my end.

Once upon a time, I had a lot of folks to gift. I had a long list, kept notes on what I might present each of them with, and started buying 1 or 2 gifts each paycheck starting in October or so. I actually did enjoy this process, but those also were days of credit cards. I didn’t enjoy my debt payments, at all.

I have not had any credit cards since 1991. Things in my life have shifted several times since then, but I can not tell you how grateful I am to live in the moment.

I plan ahead more than in the past, though I’ll never be a great long-term planner. However, I don’t worry how to take care of payment obligations, either.

I love making gifts. I love thinking of someone while I make that something for them. But making takes time. As in, planning.

The first year I knit socks, I gifted many pairs of handknit socks to loved ones. I can’t do that any more, my knitting time is for my business most often.

However, in the last few years, I’ve enjoyed knitting small socks which can be used as Christmas Tree Ornaments. They can be made with favorite yarns, left over from memorable projects. I’ve also knit small hearts (above), and once a tiny sweater. Fun!

But even mini knitting takes time, right? And Friday I see some people I don’t see nearly enough anymore. And I haven’t started knitting ornaments (which is what I’ve determined to do). Time to “get out the pointy sticks and Cast On!!!”

Photos: Knitted heart ornament I made in 2007. Knitted sock keychains/ornaments on mini sock blockers, from 2006. Wonder what I’ll do this year?

The Real Story

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

You deserve some content. Some real content.

I don’t have project photos right now, though some things I’m working on are looking promising. Not much is finished that you have not seen already.

funnelyarnHowever, the other truth is that some things I’ve knit lately have gone in such a way that I had to stop or rip them out. That’s life, and it happens to me rarely. It’s just hitting more often than usual right now.

My Maxi ZigBag that I already had to rip out (and I mean thousands of stitches, many square inches) one time… I started again. And knit just a little, and then realized I had to rip it again. We’re talking mistakes that can not be fudged.

I do enjoy the knitting of this. however, I know that I need to do the first several rows of a colorwork project without people around me. I broke that guideline and I will rip a second time because of it.

The turquoise mohair sweater? I knit front and back, sewed together, knit a collar and part of a sleeve. It fits from the armhole down. TOO big and the fabric too thick above that part. Must rip back and reknit a slightly less wide shoulder/bust area. Then collar, then sleeves. I’m working on work knitting right now, so that needs to wait until holidays kick in and I don’t have classes to teach.

scraps5Saturday night I went to a gathering where there were a LOT of knitters. I tried to cast on. Counted wrong. Did it again, got it right.

Then knit 3/4 of a round with the yarn tail rather than the working yarn. Tinked (took out one stitch at a time). Knit with tail again. Tinked again.

Started knitting again. Realized that I’d picked the main color rather than the contrast color, which was what I should have cast on with.

So I cast on with the right color. And before I finished all 88 stitches, it was time to go home!!!

So I have been knitting, but there is precious little to show here right now. I’m around, but busy.

Meanwhile I thank you all deeply for reading my blog and for being an important part of my life. Happy December.

(Photos? Not current, but they looked messy enough to accompany this sad story.)