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Archive for December, 2009

Another Maxi ZigBag from Carol

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Carol has been cranking out BiggieZigs since spring. She has knit at least 5 of them. Here is the latest:


She used two yarns. The dark brown is a solid, and the multi is not self-striping but has many colors that blip in and out. It creates a tweedy fabric which is very different than those I knit myself, but very appealing. Love.

Thanks for the boost, Carol. Your bag makes me smile.

Grumpy Me, Pretty/Quiet Lansing

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Well, the inevitable happened. Lansing got snow that stuck. We had snow, some sleet overnight, and pretty nasty winds all day.

During the day, driving worked OK. When the sun went down, it got noticeably treacherous. By the time I approached my neighborhood, I slid down Cedar St. (main artery) past my street. Whoops!


Above is how it looked out my front door at 3am last night. If you do not need color, as I do, you  might see this scene as beautiful. It surely was quiet at that time, but then again, 3am is quiet most days.

I have a few musician/poet friends who find things about this weather to appreciate. Doug notices the quiet. Kitty has spoken of it in respectful, even reverent terms.

It is good for me to know that people I respect can appreciate this cold. I somehow have a reaction to cold weather as though nature is attacking me in any place I can not cover up fully. I go out in layers of clothing which might make others feel bound or choked. For me, it’s a way to feel protected and comfortable.

For the record, Brian rides his bike to work each day. He does not find this weather to be a problem. He does not get cold much, though on some days he needs to pay a little more attention to traction. He has wide tires, though, and is very skilled, so it tends not to be much of an issue. (Me, I get cold just running from the house to my car!)

I do think that my circulation does not work as others’ systems do… but then again, how much of it has to do with my need for light and color? How much is about cold? I may never know.

July is a long way off, but I can remember…

A Gift Made of Transformation

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

I’m short on time to write here, but I hope photos will do instead.

I had a holiday party where the general theme is girly, glitz, and glamour. I picked one woman’s name in the gift exchange.


I just had a picture in my mind what she might like. Actually, I tried a few ideas before I figured out how to make that picture work.

First I got a cotton-lycra knit top, a bit plain but well-fitting to show off a few curves. Here I am modeling the top before I started transforming it:

Then I did something I’ve done with wool knits previously. I cut the fabric vertically. I cut straight up the front at the spot where the top slit ended, and I also cut straight up the sides of the sleeves.

Knitting generally does not want to run sideways, though it will run up/down. By cutting rather carefully on the vertical “grain,” I got edges that naturally curled under at the edges.

I then washed the piece and dried it, which encouraged those edges to roll further. I also hand sewed the rolls in place at the bottom edge of each cut.

At the waist, I cut two tiny spots on each side and hand-sewed with buttonhole stitch to reinforce those holes. I also reinforced the rolled edge with some hand stitches.

Then I got a semi-sharp darning needle with large eye, threaded it with purple satin ribbon, and sewed down each arm in a cross-laced pattern, leaving ends long enough to tie at the bottom of the sleeve. I cut some matching purple ribbon (but wider) to hold the waist together.

She liked it.



Another Rendition of Keys & Coins Hat

Monday, December 7th, 2009

The Andean-inspired hat pattern I’m working on, to release as soon as possible, has another rendition. This one I did on a small number of stitches, which turned out child-sized.

I eliminated the ear flaps, the top decorative nib, and two of the three sets of “key” motifs. Those changes were intended to make it more like a beanie style. I think for this small head size, I could have even eliminated one more band of patterning for someone wanting “hat lite.” I like it this way, just fine.


The light green I used on the edges is Nashua Snowbird. In Lansing, we had a 4-store shop hop last September. Everyone on that hop got one skein of this yarn. There were many colors available, some medium-to-light shades like this, and some neutral.

The skeins in the shop hop goodie bags were donated by the Nashua distributor. Rae’s is the only shop of the 4 on the hop which carries this yarn, and she does not carry every color.

That means a bunch of local folks have one luscious skein of alpaca-blend Snowbird yarn, which contains seventy-something yards. You can be sure that a whole lot of them don’t know what they might do with it. If you do not wear wristwarmers, you really need to put it with some other yarn to make something with it.


I figured I would see how my own green skein would work in this design. It looks very different than the ones which use a true solid color (the Snowbird is a marl, with two plies light green and one ply gray-green). I think it’s a little more rustic, and I am pleased with that.

I used only about half of my Snowbird skein, on this hat. I contrasted it with a purple/green colorway of Noro Kureyon yarn. In person, the top dark color is a loden green, though on my screen it looks brown.)

I think it turned out robust and warm looking. A winner.

– – – – – – – – –

(Whoops, I found I have never shown you a full-sized photo of the first two hats. The blue/green/purple yarn is Noro Cashmere Island used with Southwest Trading Karaoke solid turquoise. The bright one is Bizarre yarn in oranges/yellows, and Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in teal.)


Cool Student Works

Monday, December 7th, 2009

I taught Polymer Clay Gifts at Yarn Garden in Charlotte on Saturday. I had five enthusiastic students, and they made some wonderful items.


The round things on the trays are metal lids covered with clay, to put on clear glass jars. These then can be filled with small items such as candies, or larger jars can be filled with the ingredients to make a batch of brownies, cookies or the like.


The sticks are ball point pens with the ink part pulled out for baking. Also seen here is a small round piece (top right) which the student plans to make into a magnet.

We had a blast. Thanks to Lindsay of The Yarn Garden for scheduling me. Thanks to my students for joining me. I’m so thankful for days like we had!

This Designer’s Desktop

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I just noticed what my screen looked like, for some reason. It sort of shows how my Friday went.


Here is a snapshot in my day. I had ten programs/main windows open. I was working in PhotoShop, and in that program I had 5 documents open at the same time.

Somehow this sort of computer clutter is normal here, it makes sense for me. I do OK with “multitasking” on my computer, much better than I do with piles of papers or yarn.

I am working on the pattern for my upcoming new design, an Andean-inspired hat with optional ear flaps. I have wanted to do this for a few years now, since I found myself the proud owner of some authentic hats of this sort (back in fall of 2004).

The ones I have are at a tiny gauge, tiny yarn, tiny stitches. However, the symbols I used here are found on the authentic ones. This is of course executed in “modern” fatter yarns, which will make it more accessible to more knitters in my realm.

I am teaching polymer clay at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan, on Saturday. Class is noon till 4pm, and I am very excited. I have a roomful of folks signed up, we will make it a bit of a party for sure.

But I do have an advertisement running on this hat design. Some folks are waiting for me to contact them when it is available.

Already on Ravelry there have been 33 knitters who have marked this design as a favorite (even though it is not published yet). Five people have queued it, which officially means it’s in line waiting for its turn to be first. (Some folks use their queue for other purposes.)

I keep plugging…

A Thought I Return to Often

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Once upon a time, I worked in a sales-driven field. I worked for someone who fell into the category of “Big Deal Chaser.” There was palpable unhappiness in that workplace much of the time.

Once I got into a very new part of my life, I started reflecting on Big Deals versus Little Things. I came up with this idea, which has become a big part of my ability to enjoy life these days. (Others have thought it, too, but these are my words, the way I put it together today.)

Celebrate small good things in your life, & you can be happy. If you wait for big things, you will wait often. Small pleasantries typically happen daily.

(The snow has increased the light in the air even with cloud cover. I choose to notice that and celebrate it right now.)

What small good things have you experienced today?

A Thought-Provoking Column

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby (a website where you can buy CDs by independent musicians, including us), wrote a column I find fascinating. I think you might agree. He calls it:

Why I Gave Away My Company to Charity

I think this fits the discussion of having enough. Of making choices about how to spend our holidays (and in this case, one man’s life).

Yesterday, Dandelions. Today, Snow.

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Life sure does change quickly. Tuesday walking with Cynthia was warmer than we expected. Wednesday I actually took photos of some dandelions, hot-weather weeds. Today? Sleet and then snow.

I am not in charge… I am not in charge… I am not in charge… this mantra helps me sometimes. When I have no control, I can work at letting go. I like hot weather and African clothing. Good thing I like wool, alpaca and mohair. I don’t like the cold that goes with them, though.

I had my first Yule/Christmas/Holiday party for the year on Wednesday. It did go well. I am crossing fingers and eyes hoping for mostly simple and mellow holiday events this year. It could happen.

Is anyone else having trouble adjusting to the cold? I have trouble every year, but since we have not really had a solid freeze and no snow yet, I’m feeling like cold weather is new news. Silly me!

What about you?

How I Like to Approach the Holidays

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

snowmanhead25In our family, we celebrate Christmas/Yule. My holiday parties (those where I attend, having been invited by someone) start tomorrow and go through at least December 20.

I guess it’s good to be forced to get out of the house during dark days. It is also good to celebrate our relationships, and this seems to be how society does it, around me.

I read on Susan (GT)’s Art and Words blog, a pondering of what she wants to do for holidays, now that her daughter is not in her house. Her daughter would typically ask for specific holiday items/trimmings, but this year is different.

Susan says:

…The question is what do I want? The answer, I’m not sure.

What cookies do I really love to bake? What do I want to light up with lights? How many decorations do I really want to get out and set up?

What do you love to do for the holidays around your home? Share your favorite and maybe we can inspire each other to bring light as well as lightness to this dark time of year.

I was inspired to comment. Maybe you will have opinions, too. I wrote:

  • I like peace and quiet, and days alone at home with my beloved Brian. I like not fussing.
  • Cookies are too much work, for me. I don’t enjoy them enough to do that kind of work.
  • Apple/Cranberry Crumble is easy once the apples are cut up, and there is no crust to fuss with. I make it when I am inclined to make it, not when someone decides I must bake.
  • I like making soup in the crock pot which does not need watching.
  • I like the strings of Christmas lights which we leave up on the windows all year, and plug in from November-March while the sun is so absent.
  • I like as many one-on-one meetups with friends, over tea either at a locally owned cafe’ or at my house, as I can pull off.
  • I like going on a walk with Brian after we eat our simple Christmas meal together, alone.
  • I like having what we call “Thanks-Christmas” with my family, in late October, and having that be less schedule-crunching when everyone else is inviting me somewhere.
  • I like “less is more” for holidays. If our tree goes, up, it’s because Brian decides to put it up. Last year we had our (1940’s silver tinsel) tree but no decorations upon it. It still bounced light around the house and made it festive.
  • I think holidays are about celebrating relationship. About telling those I love that I love them, one more time.

I don’t need trappings or “traditions” to do that. I need ease, and peace, and time with people, as much as I can one at a time.