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Archive for January, 2010

Life is in the Little Things…

Friday, January 29th, 2010

LynnLookingatAmelWebI’m a relatively happy and contented person. I somehow find myself noticing people around me who are varying degrees of unhappy.

I wonder if we expect that “perfect” exists or can be sustained. I wonder if they can’t see the good little things in between the challenges (which all humans encounter).

Now, sometimes a loved one is ill or has passed away. Sometimes income decreases or leaves us for a while. Sometimes there is truly a horrible work situation.

I have experienced all of these. There truly are big things which would make any  human unhappy.

But sometimes we are unhappy because of small things. And sometimes we are unhappy because we wait for BIG DEALS. We don’t even notice the lovely little stuff that surrounds us.

We may also believe that happy equals manic or ecstatic. Perhaps instead, sometimes happy actually can equal quiet contentedness or serenity.

Some examples from my own life:

  • Brian and I went to the grocery. We found red bell peppers at a really good price, in January. A lovely little thing. Brian made a great veggie stir fry. Fresh veggies in January. A lovely little thing unavailable to my grandparents on the farm in Minnesota not that long ago…
  • We sang for folks at a retirement home. Some of the residents knew our songs. They smiled and sang along. A lovely little thing. Some of the staff danced across the room. They smiled during their workday and we helped that happen. Another lovely little thing.
  • We had an hour drive to the retirement home. We could have been miserable about a two-hour round trip. Instead we enjoyed the rare sunshine. We  noticed the pale blue sky with pretty though standard-looking clouds. We looked at the lovely little things and did not fuss over the commute.
  • I have been drowning in too many clothes here, stacking them wherever I can find a spot. I have a friend who works at a homeless day shelter. I’ve started a routine of finding 5 or more things to give away/toss every day. Warm clothes go to the shelter. Worn out items go in the trash. No-longer-used kitchen items and summer clothes go to a charity resale shop. And now when go to my closet, one of the three racks is no longer crammed and wrinkling my good clothes. A lovely little thing.
  • I have many allergies/sensitivities to foods. Most packaged foods do not work for me. I found one pricey sort of soda pop (Virgil’s cream soda) without any ingredients that bother me. I can take that as a treat when I go to gatherings. I could focus on the hassle of making most of my own food (sometimes I do, but I try to remember it is not chemo or dialysis). Instead, I notice the special treat I do get to enjoy at times. A lovely little thing.
  • Once I worked in an office which was driven by sales. The salespeople, for the most part, were fascinated by the possibility of a million-dollar sale. One guy found small businesses who appreciated his low-key manner.  He stayed in sales a long time, with a lot of bread-and-butter jobs, rather than a few biggies. Lovely little things.

If we expect that a new job, relationship, city, purchase, weight goal, whatever… will turn around our lives, if we are waiting for some elusive ship to come in, if we are looking for big things to make us happy, well, my friends… we will never get there. The ship may not come in as we picture it.

My ship has definitely come in. It’s in the form of no credit-card debt. It looks like a humble but adorable home in a medium-sized midwestern city. It’s painting the window & door trim on the house lavender. It looks like sitting in the living room with my beloved, not saying anything as we sit quietly surfing the internet.

My ship looks like a typical LynnH-week full of lunches with friends. My ship looks like a paid off 1998 blue New Beetle. My ship looks like children who call me Ms. Lynn and show me what they knit in the week since I last saw them.


My ship looks like getting clothing at used clothing stores instead of worrying about how to buy that $200 dress (yes, I did that once, on credit at a time when paying it back was painfully difficult). My ship looks like a closet of wool & cashmere garments purchased for less than $10 apiece, used but not yet adored until I found them.

My ship includes a husband who lights up when I walk in the room, in spite of all my idiosyncrasies. My ship looks like good relationships with my family. My ship includes friends and coworkers and folks who hire me, who value my contribution and are happy to have me in their circle.

My ship looks like gratitude. My ship looks like seeing how I am becoming a more solidly-grounded person, an interesting person. It looks like understanding that my precious gray hair shows I’ve learned a few things.


My ship looks like a hammock on the porch in summer and a hot water bottle on my feet in winter. My ship looks like really good tea which is affordable to me, every day.  Tea which was not available to non-royalty for generations…

Do not think for a minute my life has always been this way. I have had far too many authentically sad and down days in my first 30 years on this planet. Much of that sadness could make any human weep.

I have done a lot of work with self-awareness and believing in the future, and that work and attitude is starting to pay off. Luckily, I’m 51 now and it just keeps getting better.

Look for a tiny ship which comes into your life several times a day. If you wait for a BIG DEAL it may never come.

If you notice the Lovely Little Things? You find many Lovely Little Ships, one after another. Today. No waiting required.

Whoa! Schulers is at 7pm Tonight!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

My event at Schuler Books Eastwood Town Center was promoted in some places for 7pm and some places for 7:30. Whoops!

I will be there at 7:00. I will save the reading I will do from the book, until the 7:30 people have come around. We will make it work for everybody, as best as we can.

Thanks for understanding.

Meet the Designer: LynnH at Schuler Books Tonight

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010


Are you who are new here? My Turkish-inspired sock design Hot Waves,  was included in a book published by Lark, called The Joy of Sox. Here is a photo of the design in three different colorways:

I have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Schuler Books (and particularly the energetic and passionate Whitney) for several years. When this book came out, Whitney asked me to do a presentation and book-signing in connection with this lovely book. Today is the day!

Informal Talk & Booksigning

LynnH will talk about the process of being asked to submit, being accepted, the pattern process and more. She will also talk of the nod to history (Turkish sock design) and other factors which influenced the final visual design.

The structure (toe up, afterthought heel) used here is not common in the USA. Why would Lynn choose this structure? Ask your own questions, or just drink in the colors.

Please join me. Yes, they will have books there to purchase. I’d love to sign your new copy!

(For the record, this book has a wide variety of projects. There are simple to very fancy socks. You will find top down, toe up, heel flap, short row heel and afterthought heel. Texture? Colorwork? Got ’em. There are knee highs to footlets open at the toes for pedicure day, to legwarmers. Several yarn weights are included. I am proud to be included in this collection.)

Schuler Books in Eastwood Town Center
East Lansing
7:30 tonight, Tuesday
January 26.


Inspiring Quote: Martha Graham on Creativity

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Hello, friends. I have allowed life (and a five-day headache) to distract me from writing for you. You deserve better.

It will be another cram-packed day but I believe you deserve a little content here from me. Your loyalty is much appreciated.

Therefore, today I will share with you a particularly important quotation for me. It has inspired me through times of self-doubt. I hope it will inspire you, as well.

This text reminds me that whatever I can contribute, that contribution is important to the world. Doubt is human, and particularly common in artful folks. Perhaps this will help you, too.

There is a vitality, a life-force, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares to other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open… No artist is pleased…

There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching – and makes us more alive than the others.

Martha Graham
(to Agnes DeMille

For those who do not know, Martha Graham was a pioneer in Modern Dance. She changed the dance world in one lifetime, created a new branch of a tree called “dance.” If you enjoy biographies, I recommend the book “Martha” by Agnes DeMille (another dancer/choreographer who worked mostly in theater, and who was a friend of Martha’s).

Open House at Altu’s, Sat. Jan 23, Noon-4

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

We hope you will come and join us in celebrating Altu’s new space (Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine, East Lansing, Michigan).

This photo was taken several weeks ago, it’s even more lovely now! For those waiting to see my paint job, notice the basketweave is completed on the right wall but not at the back, yet.


Saturday (January 23/ tomorrow)

Special events from
NOON until 4pm.

  • Free Smoothie Samples
  • Free Food Samples
  • Live Music!!!
  • Local songwriters to make you smile!!!


Noon-1 will be Art Cameron. This witty, thoughtful poet will engage you and make you smile!

1-2 Measured Dose (Ben Dilday and Dave Bond) will soothe you with harmonies, playing familiar oldies and a good selection of originals.

2-3 Mike Ross, a local poet and musician, will share words and excellent instrumentals with you. He wrote most of the music you will hear. Mike is a nationally-recognized harmonica player, but plays many other instruments as well.

3-4 Beloved Ben Hassenger (also of Mystic Shake and Blue Jello) will keep you humming, singing along, and laughing. Again, Ben writes a lot of his own music. His meanings are often sentimental or serious, but the way he delivers them will bring a smile.


If you can not make the daytime festivities, consider dinner.

Scarlet Runner Stringband

You can order a smoothie with your dinner (or for dessert… fruit is common for dessert in Ethiopia).

I will be there for dinner, myself. I will be teaching in Charlotte during the day.

You just MUST see the new space. It is magnificent. It’s hard to believe she started with three tables-for-two and a take out.

Please, bring yourself and a crowd of friends! It will be a fun and fabulous time.

Thank You, Emily and Jenn (& Previous Helpers)

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I have been reflecting on my luck lately. My pattern-designing work can not be done alone. I know that there are folks out on the internet, who do not know me, who might enjoy finding a hiccup in my design (and then tell the world without telling me of the problem). I choose to see this as something which intensifies my desire for quality control in my work.


However, we all know that one person (that is, the designer) can not likely work a project from beginning to end, without assistance. I need testing/editing help. These days, I knit almost all of my store samples, but I am unwilling to release a pattern which has not been test-knit for quality. I can not test knit from my own words.

The biggest example of this was when I developed my ZigBagZ collections. Sister-in-Love Diana/Otterwise did a lot of testing, a lot of editing, and sample knitting. She was my encourager when I was rather ill and unable to focus well. And my cousin, Karen, also knit a Maxi sized bag for me. That project was a true team effort, and it has been an incredibly good seller for me. It would be very hard to find a new design with the “pow” that release had.

My most recent pattern, the Keys & Coins Andean-Style Hat, was a project I started about 11 months before I released the pattern. As can happen, I got 90% of the way and got stuck (in this case, the earflaps were not working out as I wished). Once I finally got the pattern very close to ready, I had knit so many versions of the hat that I could not be impartial.

Enter Emily. She tested the ear flaps for me right away, even though we were coming up on the holidays. Later she finished the hat and loves it. This is the hat she wears herself these days. She proclaimed to me about a week ago that it was her favorite hat she has ever owned. Of course, that makes me happy.

Emily’s version followed the “beanie” adjustments. This means that instead of 3 sets of “key” patterns at the bottom of the hat, she did just one. However, she put flaps on it (where a standard beanie would not have flaps). It’s cute on her.


Next, enter Jenn. She did a beanie pretty much as I described it in the instructions (shorter and no flaps). She whipped through it very quickly.

Both of my testers came up with questions. As I recall, nothing I had in the pattern was actually wrong, but sometimes a different set of words makes something much clearer for the knitter. These two ask good questions. I am grateful.

For the record, other test knitters I’ve used over the years (off the top of my head, forgive me if I missed you but write me so I can correct this if I did)… are:

Mary F.
Rachel B.

And advice-givers of other sorts have included Rae, Diana, Deb R., Melinda, Sharon P., Elizabeth S., Brenda W., Lori V., (and many more).


Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I need a team to do this work, and I do not take my team for granted.

(Oh… you will ask. Emily’s hat used red Malabrigo contrast and Crystal Palace Taos Autumn colors as the main yarn. Jenn used Malabrigo for her contrast, also, and her main yarn was a color-changing variety of Southwest Trading Karaoke.)

Wisdom from a Strong Woman

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” – Lucille Ball

A Sweater Dream

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Some of you may remember I got more than half of a turquoise mohair sweater finished, which I started around Thanksgiving. I still adore the fabric I made, but it was thick enough that the size I had chosen looked enormous.


I do wear huge sweaters all the time. It’s perhaps a “boyfriend sweater” look, though most of my sweaters are not manly colors. I do sometimes buy men’s sweaters, or ladies’ sweaters in the X sizes, so that I can get a roomy and tunic-length body.

Sometimes that means rolling up sleeves to an extreme degree. Sometimes I even take off the bottom of the sleeve (well, once or twice) and reknitting it to a reasonable length.

The mohair sweater ended up thick enough fabric that it did not drape as the sweater I am trying to match, did. Therefore it needs smaller shoulders.


I need to rip it out and figure out what to do next. That takes figuring time I don’t feel I have right now. I’ll finish it sometime… the truth is that the only long-sleeved sweater I’ve handknit and completed, took me a year. I have not lost faith.

But the understanding that I’m in the middle of a long-sleeved sweater, a project I rarely undertake… did not stop me from a somewhat ridiculous decision. I am going to attempt another sweater. During the Olympics. We will see how I do.

Rae’s shop had a big inventory sale last weekend. She clearanced out her Nashua Creative Focus Worsted (alpaca/wool singles). A nice pile of the bright magenta (fuschia) was available at something like $6.50 per 100gm/200yd ball. I had a $25 credit at her store. The sweater I thought it would work well in, required 5 balls for a generous size. I got the pattern, the yarn, and an extra ball of yarn just in case (I do want to make the sweater a little longer). It cost me less than $20 after tax. You can see why I caved in.

boyfriendsweaterswatch2 I picked a pattern which seems ideal for the “boyfriend sweater” look. It is sized from 3Xsmall, to 6Xlarge. Amazing. One pattern.

I like the stitch pattern. It is called something like seed rib but it’s really one column of garter stitch, then four columns of stockinette. For someone who does NOT like working dozens of purl stitches in a row, this is great.


After I bought the yarn and pattern, I found myself surfing Ravelry and looking at a number of Kristin Nicholas’ sweater designs. I saw a man wearing a colorwork sweater with a sort of diamond pattern at a low level on the sweater. And it clicked!

I have long wanted a “Charlie Brown” sweater. You know that I adore zigzag patterns of all sorts. It is no surprise I would like our hero’s t-shirt with a zig at the bottom. His colors are not mine, but the idea struck me fully, years before I was knitting anything beyond scarves.

I had already knit one swatch. I decided to use duplicate stitch on the swatch and see if I could come up with a zig I liked. In the photo above, you can see that the left zig is too “flat” but the one at right is more my style.

boyfriendsweaterswatch3Once I determined the rate of ascent, I added several rows of color. I found that embroidering on the garter column was very hard to do accurately. So I made up a little chart for myself, to knit on the few rows on which I will be doing the embroidery.

I am using a contrasting yarn which is not the same brand or texture. I like that the pink is fuzzy and the embroidery is a bit shiny. I think the texture contrast enhances the look.

I will knit this during the Olympic games. We will see if I can finish during that stretch of time. It will depend on a lot of things. But here is my project, ready to go:


What to Say?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

My life is very full, but I seem to be tongue-tied here lately. I have joked for years that “I have never run out of words.” I guess my fingers run out even when my voice does not.

I had a good amount of time off during holidays. I had 21 days without teaching, though I worked my pattern design/sales business, and did a lot of administrative work then.

I have been knitting like a crazy woman. Nothing is very important-looking as a rule, but it makes me very happy. I finished four pairs of wristwarmers, including working in the yarn ends, on Monday night. Two of those pairs were knit entirely in January.

I also finished in yarn ends for a pair of anklewarmers. They started out as armwarmers but at a loose gauge, and in washable wool. I like them enough as ankle warmers (perfect under pajama pants for lounging at home) that I’m keeping them just as they are.

You know, talking about the objects is not as fun as the stories behind them. I’m typing this without project photos. However, the largest “wristwarmers” are nearly armwarmers, for a big guy with a big heart… who is a musician, and a friend.

Paul (my friend) is the “squeezebox” player in the photo here. His friend shown behind him is the late Phil Wintermute.

Paul loves to go into the woods all year, and pick edible things (and just observe, as well). He alternates between mushrooms, berries, roots, whatever he finds. This man knows much about nature.

I asked if he could use wristwarmers (while picking edibles) once, when I was making some for me. He was enthusiastic. I decided to unravel a partly-knit footie in bulky yak/wool yarn, and knit him warmers from the 2 balls of that yarn I owned. I used nearly every inch of that yarn, one ball per warmer. My friend Paul will be warmer, now.

I made yet another pair for my friend Brandi, who works outdoors as a wildlife biologist. She gets wet and cold while doing field work and research on diseases such as rabies. I see her in more cozy environments, such as Gone Wired Cafe’ on the East Side (where this photo of us was taken). Photo is me, Brandi, Isabel, and April. Sort of a girl-family of choice, if you will. You just saw Isabel’s new wristwarmers recently, here.

She saw Paul’s pair and got rather excited about that idea. Hers took half the yarn of Paul’s, and I finished them in no time. Now I just have to try and connect with her, when she is not out in a field with deer and raccoons and the like.

I made a different pair of wristwarmers for a friend who is allergic to some fibers. She will enjoy these.

I made a pair for me. These I’ve worked on in fits and starts for over a year. It’s Zealana merino/New Zeeland Possum yarn. It’s soft, and airy, and fluffy… and turquoise. I’ve never had such luxurious wristwarmers, and I’ve knit a LOT of warmers.

I realized when I had all those ends worked in, that I had a table full o’tubes. I then really got the impact of that pile. I just LOVE knitting tubes. Happiness for Lynn, is knitting around and around on double-pointed needles. The less interruption, the better. LOVE.

This is great information for me to understand. Know thyself, right?

I cast on right away. For a neckwarmer. Another tube. I’m happy.

Dr. King Might Like Lansing

Monday, January 18th, 2010

I Sing a Song of Lansing

My city is not very big compared to Chicago, Detroit or Toronto, nearby big cities that I enjoy visiting. Wikipedia quotes the most recent Census at just under 114,000 in the city proper.

It also says we have a “Metropolitan Statistical Area” with population of 454,000. That is, we have a lot of people outlying the city which can be grouped in some ways with the city itself.

Industry Brought Diversity? So I Believe.

This area has historically had three main industries. We are the capitol city of Michigan, so we have a lot of government offices here. We have had a good number of automobile plants (Oldsmobile until recently) although the number is falling and there are huge empty cement lots where several factories once stood. We also have Michigan State University in East Lansing.

The World at My Childhood Doorstep

My  father got a job as a professor of Communications at MSU in the early 1960’s, and that is  how my family of four Minnesota-born folks ended up here. I am grateful.

The best times in my growing up, at least in my memory, were holiday dinners. Since we never had more than one relative in Michigan, our home became a welcoming place for uprooted folks here to go to school. My father was the doctoral advisor for many Grad students from other countries, and he would often invite them to our home for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.

They would tell stories. These folks were from so many places! I remember Mexico, Costa Rica, Israel, Australia, Sweden… and there were more. And they would talk about things I could never know in my sheltered home suburb (Okemos, East of East Lansing, before the mall was built, when the Barn that now is a furniture store, held animals for the Grettenberg farm).

Realizing I was Lucky

I remember a story of a Catalan family near Barcelona Spain, during the years of Franco. It was illegal to speak the Catalan language at that time. (Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso were of Catalan background.)

Kids would get involved in the conflict, and our friend/dad’s student was caught doing something against Franco. Somehow the family got out and moved to Mexico. They knew this was a lucky result.

I also remember a story of a student from Sweden (I think… somewhere scandinavian). He was a child at a time when somewhere near his home, there was a prisoner camp where prisoners were not getting enough to eat.

The family would boil potatoes and fill the pockets of the childrens’ coats. The children would go out and “Play” and ski near the wire fence. They would push the potatoes through the wire grate, and then the people inside could eat the potatoes and be better nourished, or at least less hungry.

I also recall that my father’s best friend was a Japanese American who was locked up in one of those camps we put our own citizens in, when we were in a war and afraid of the Japanese. He met his wife in that camp. Another story most kids in my school never heard.

Human is the Race to which We All Belong

We had folks in our home with so many different physical characteristics, but when we told stories over the holiday table, we all were of the HUMAN race. We all belonged to that moment in time.

When you first meet someone, you notice how they look. You notice if they look very different from you. But once you are engaged in dialogue, there is only human connection. I’ve said before, that I believe that life boils down to relationship being the most important. I started learning this, as a child in my parents’ home. (I concede that fluency in English did help. However, I’ve traveled enough to know that one may love someone else who does not speak the same language.)

When my mother has her annual Rhubarb Crisp party at her house, she has friends, also, with all different stories and ancestry. You may find Daddy’s friend’s Japanese-American widow, and folks with Peruvian, Chinese, African (any country), and other backgrounds. Mom continues to live as a member of the HUMAN race. I am proud to be from my family.

The World Changes One Person at a Time

The suburbs have become more diverse since I lived there. Even the small town of 430 in Minnesota, where my parents grew up, has a diverse Census count (Dad often joked that they had 430 Norwegians and two Germans, and that was more close than you can imagine).

I believe it has a lot to do with the industries in my town, but this city seems more naturally integrated than many. In the south, there are more cities than not, where Martin Luther King Boulevard is the dividing line between where people of color live, versus the other side where live what we call “white” people (I say my skin is beige but I do belong to the group called white).

When I bought my house 25 miles East of Lansing (Williamston, 1980), I do not remember any “black” families in our neighborhood. I know there were asian families, I can not remember much else (I left that town in 1991).

My Favorite “Hood”

When I bought myself a house on the East Side of Lansing (one block from Foster Community Center, four blocks west of Frandor), I bought into a well-integrated neighborhood. You can see “my block” above.

On one side of the street we had hispanic, “white,” and “black.” On the other side, we had a “mixed” couple, and great variety in ages, from 20 to 85. We had folks with yard signs offering every possible angle on any possible issue. It was a lively, safe, inexpensive neighborhood. I adored that place, everything about it.

I realize that in some places in the world, women are still legally considered property. They pass from Father to Husband, with no rights of their own.

Here, not only am I not property, not only do I have legal rights (including a vote), I was able to purchase real estate property for myself. With my signature alone. It was a very plain house, ugly on the outside and quaint but simple inside. But I was a single woman with my own home.

Notice the Blessings in Your Front Yard

And I realized how special my situation was there. I had a single woman homeowner next door. And we lived on a very mixed-race, mixed-age, mixed-philosophical block of a relatively mixed town.

Yes, there are bigots here. There are hateful people everywhere, unfortunately. They are a minority in the good sense of that word. I choose to not go down to their level.

Life-Changing Opportunity

And my friends, I am proud to say that in this town I had the great fortune to be a minority employee at the Black Child and Family Institute, a non-governmental community center, for 4 years in its early day (1989-1994) . I was the only full-time “white” person on payroll the whole time I was there. Lansing allowed for that possibility.

Some public folk did not think I belonged, but the staff thought I did. I loved so much about that job, but in a nonprofit things change a lot. I left the job (to teach computer classes for a training company) with a lower wage than I came in with. I still have dreams about that building. I only seem to dream of jobs where my life perspective changed. I’m happy to have had that incredible, life-changing experience.

One Personal Example from Today

One of the most important people in my life is Altu. She was born and raised in Ethiopia, in Eastern Africa.

She took me to Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya and Egypt… photo at left is us in Alexandria, Egypt with the Mediterranean Sea behind us) five years ago. She is even more precious to me now, since we returned. I can totally depend on Altu’s word and her good intent. This is better than gold.

There are cities in this country where I would never have been on the same side of town, to meet her. I can not tell you how happy I am this city is structured in a way that our deep friendship is possible.

Happy to have been Born an Optimist

So today, when I read about the life and dreams of Dr. King, I understand that our world is still imperfect. There is much left to be done, and some of that work will depend on new people being born to do that work.

However, in Lansing, today? My world is integrated in a bigger way than most people anywhere in the world (I bow to Toronto, however). Certainly, in a bigger way than most Americans in cities of this size. And more than could have been possible even a few decades ago. I choose to notice this movement toward progress.

I think MSU, Oldsmobile, and the State of Michigan have helped this integration. These places are full of folks from all possible backgrounds. People working together will learn about one another. They will have potlucks and share foods from their family heritage at times. Not everyone will see these things as the gift I see them as.

Whatever is… whatever reality others see, maybe even those living next door will see it differently. However, my happy optimist, my inner person who believes most humans are good? I am very happy to be in this city right now. And I have the faith that more and more cities are moving toward this acceptance of our HUMAN sides, all of the time.

My Take

Dr. King, the world is still getting better. Your dream still has a chance.

(All of the photos today were taken in Lansing or East Lansing, with the exception of the Egyptian shot.)

A Purple House and an Adventure

Sunday, January 17th, 2010


Friday I had to go to Holly, Michigan for a funeral home visitation on Friday. It seems that time of year, unfortunately.

The good news was, once I had to go out of my territory, I decided to visit friends I know online. The bad news was, I have too many friends in that neck o’the woods to see all in a short day.

I thought I’d go to the funeral home, then go to Howell and see Beth Smith at Spinning Loft. This is a shop specifically for spinners, not for knitters (though many folks do both)… an unusual, rare and wonderful place.

Then if I had time I hoped I could go to Stitch in Time, a knitting-and-needlework shop downtown Howell. You see, I won a gift certificate from them at the knitting guild last month. I have not been there in a long while, and there are a few yarns I’ve purchased there which I have really enjoyed.

Somewhere in there, I was on Twitter and realized that my friend Melynda of French Press Knits lives out near Howell. I sent her a note. The next thing I knew, my schedule was more than full.

I met Melynda at a new shop between Fenton and Howelll. The shop is named The Knit Side, and owned by the gracious Gail. It is tidy, organized, and colorful in there! She has a lot of yarns in the Cascade, Plymouth and Berroco lines.

No shop has every yarn in every line. Therefore, even though I am familiar with a lot of these, I found a few yarns I did not remember touching before. I ended up with Magenta and hot green alpaca/wool/silk from Cascade. Maybe a neckwarmer?

I went in the shop with 2 bags. I left the shop with 2 bags. Whoops! I had made a purchase. I should have left with 3 bags. Fortunately, Gail knew I was going to a funeral home in Holly. She knew my name because I signed the guest book. She called the funeral home, they found me, and she delivered my knitting bag to me at the funeral home. My friends, this is fine customer service. Hugs to Gail for being so willing to bend on my behalf!

It was good to see Melynda again. It was great to meet Gail. I was also very happy to see my friend who I see mostly online, who I’ve known for probably 18 years, and who was just widowed.

I was bummed to miss out on Spinning Loft/Beth, and spending my gift certificate at Stitch in Time. Beth is closed on Sunday/Monday, which are often my best days to go on adventures. I will have to see how I can get down to Howell again with only those shops on my agenda.

Oh… and those of you who have been with me long, know: I love purple paint on houses. Here is one I found near Fenton, Michigan. If this tickles your fancy, see my entire collection of posts about Purple Houses!

Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin at Altu’s Tonight

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

SamCorbinJenSygitPosterdsmallIncredible Music Tonight!

My friends Jen Sygit and Sam Corbin will be playing music at Altu’s restaurant (East Lansing) tonight, from 6:30 to 8:30. Great music, great talent, amazing harmonies. Both musicians write great originals, and they will play some of those and some music written by others. I will be there.

Many of my friends, knitters and musicians alike, will be attending a Contra Dance in downtown Lansing tonight. If you fall into this group, please consider coming to Altu’s before you head downtown. It will make a fully satisfying night… artforms including music, dance, spectacular cooking, and perhaps knitting. (I’m not sure why, but lots of contra dancers also knit.)

You Must Check Out the Addition!

If you read here often, you will know that my friend Altu’s restaurant has expanded recently. Altu’s Ethiopian Cuisine (EatAtAltus.com) in East Lansing, Michigan is a place where everything is literally made from scratch. The quality is superb, the kitchen is spotless, the flavors in the food are deep… sometimes subtle, sometimes spicy, always good.

There is now a real raised stage with lighting, and plenty of space for several large groups at once. No more worries about seating, my friends! It’s beautiful now… more mellow, more unique, more relaxing.

Open House Next Week: Sat. Jan. 23, 11am – 4 pm

Altu will be having a celebration next Saturday from 11-4 to celebrate the new space. There will be music during that time, and then again in the evening from 6:30-8:30 from Scarlet Runner String Band. If you must miss today, consider making it next week. I will miss the daytime festivities but will be there for dinner, next week. (A woman must work, and I have a class scheduled Jan 23 during the afternoon.)

So, What is the Food Like?

If you have never had Ethiopian food before, it consists of different types of thick stews, either veggie or meat, mild or spicy. Even meat eaters go for veggie food here, it is so flavorful.

In Ethiopia, they present the food in family style… on a platter, with spongy, sproingy sourdough Ethiopian bread(often called Injera) under it all. You pull off a piece of the bread (it’s like a thick crepe in form) and use it to pick up your food with your fingers, like a small taco. Ethiopians get so good at this, their fingers never get messy. I’ve been practicing for years but I’m not there yet.

In Ethiopia, the Injera is made of a gluten-free  grain called Teff. Here, because our altitude is different, Altu adds some wheat all-purpose flour to the bread. However, one can order their dinner on a bed of rice instead of on bread. I have friends who do not tolerate wheat at all (celiac or wheat-sensitive, both), and they do well at Altu’s eating meals this way. There is no wheat in any other food in the restaurant.

What I Knit Monday Night

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Fun with Color

I have worked on this new project maybe just a few times. The book is Color by Kristin (author: Kristin Nicholas). The project is called Mother-Daughter Mittens. I am doing the stitch count for the daughter size, though my gauge is slightly larger than specified because my main (green) yarn is a bit fluffier than the other yarns.

The main part of the mitten requires a lot of concentration (and I still made a few hiccups). However, this photo was taken Monday night. I did a bit more with the project on Tuesday, but have no further photos at this time.


I am planning for these to be “topless” mittens, so that my fingers will peek out above the middle joint. The pattern chart shows two sets of leaves, and I took one out to get the flower on the back before I bound off. It worked perfectly for length. It did mean that the thumb colors switched part way up, but I think that looks quite fun.

I’m not sure how much thumb I will knit, that may take some experimentation. A thumb is no big deal to knit a few times, anyway.

Coming Right Along

Since I took this photo, I have finished the main colorwork. I also made two ridges at the top edge, to echo the look of the cuff edging a bit. I did a little embroidery as well, some of which I like and will keep, and some of which I will take out and try again.

It’s very fun knitting, though this sort of chart does not have the soothing rhythm of a short, memorizable repeat. I like short repeats a lot, as far as knitting process goes. However, the look of this is worth some focus, especially considering the project is so small.

Yarns… these Make Me Happy


I’m using four colors of Nashua Julia yarn, three of which you can see here (there is a turquoise added now, thanks to friend Cynthia). The deep teal blue and the magenta I got at City Knitting in Grand Rapids, which closed their doors a few weeks ago. The lupine/periwinkle was given to me by nobody less than Kristin Nicholas herself, at Stitches East a few Octobers ago.

Maybe that green looks familiar? It is leftover yarn from the Yarn Garden Keys and Coins Andean-Style Hat. It is Cascade Cloud 9, which is wool/angora in a worsted weight. Really warm, really soft, and exactly the right color, when I know nowhere in Michigan to get any of the several nice greens available in the Julia yarn.

Both yarns are rated as worsted weight at 5 stitches/inch. However, the angora puffs up and gets fluffier as you work with it. The Julia is smooth. shiny, sleek and strong (I hurt my hands trying to break it rather than cut with scissors). It is wool, alpaca and mohair. The drape from the alpaca is noticeable, and the strength and color depth clearly bow to the mohair content. Nice stuff.

Happy Hands

I really enjoy hand sewing and embroidery. I had some fun tonight putting a few French knots around the tulip/flower shape. More photos as I progress!

In Pennsylvania? Need a Color Boost?

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Freeform Close-Up

I just heard from a friend in Philadelphia that Australian Freeform master Prudence Mapstone will be teaching there, in a few weeks. Here are the details for my fiber-art friends who may be interested:

World Renowned Freeform Artist Prudence Mapstone  (prudenceM  on Ravelry) will be teaching at Nangellini on

February 5th, 2010

Nangellini (this is a Ravelry Link, if you are a member)
832 South Street

Philadelphia, PA


1 pm- 5 pm –FULL 

Learn how you can take some very basic crochet and knitting stitches to create and build your own one of a kind artwork and art to wear!

Basic knitting and crochet skills are suggested.

Those who never tried freeform before, those who love it and do it all the time, and everyone in between is welcome in this class!

Class Fee is $50 
Participants also receive 10% off their yarn purchases during class.

To register, please call Nancy at 215-413-5001 or register at the shop. The first class filled so quickly, we have opened up a second. Please register asap to avoid missing out!

Visa, MC, Discover, Amex, and PayPal are all acceptable payment forms.

Payment required at time of registration.