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Archive for June, 2010

Truly, Truly Summer!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Oh, the joys of summer! We had a bunch of rain and now everything is growing like crazy. I picked this tomato, the first healthy ripe one of the season, a day or two ago.

I want to make guacamole. It’s just the right size for that.


I am so happy that I got fruit this year! One more looks like I can pick it tomorrow, too!

I have learned to grow tomatoes in large containers. They sit on the landing of our back steps, which is on a southwest corner of the house. I see them every time I enter the house, so I don’t forget to water.

I use “container soil” instead of standard potting soil. This has small granules of a gel which absorbs an amazing amount of water when it can, and then releases it slowly later. The plant can go longer between waterings without going totally dry. This works great on weeks/weekends when we go away and the weather is hot.

Last year was an awful year for me and tomatoes. I started a bit late, and even my “Early Girl” tomato plant did not make a single ripe fruit on the vine. I got one red one off a vine all year, and I had five pots going.

I did harvest a few (five, to be exact – see above) green ones in October, and put them on the windowsill to ripen. The smallest one never did turn red, the others I used for cooking when they looked OK.

Fortunately, knitting friend Rita B. is an amazing gardener. She grew a lot of types of tomatoes, including some heirloom ones in gorgeous colors.

She was generous in sharing, so I had fresh, off-the-vine tomatoes even though mine were useless. Here is a photo of a fully-ripe green heirloom variety she shared with me:

Here is a photo of a pot of some amazing chili I made up with a bumper crop she gave me one night. (Sometimes Thursday Knitting night is harvest-sharing night, and I was delighted.)

This year? I bought one huge pot with a large plant in it, right away. It had flowers and tiny fruit on it when I took it home. That is how I got the tomato pictured first today.

I also have four smaller plants which are growing but not large yet. One of the smallest ones has several small tomato fruits growing and a few flowers.

We will see what we will see. Meanwhile, guacamole for lunch on Wednesday?

Huggable Tree Sweater in Baltimore

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Brian’s youngest sister lives in Washington DC. She was in Baltimore one day and saw this remarkable, lovely sight:


“Hug Me.” I love this deeply. I’ve seen several photos of trees with sweaters, and this in in my top two favorites. Incredible.

Color-Joyful Houses in Grand Rapids

Saturday, June 26th, 2010


Brian and I went to Grand Rapids for Father’s Day. On our way home, we went for a walk in the East Town Neighborhood. I found some beautifully painted homes on our walk.

We lucked out, because the family living in the orange house with a purple door, was outside and we chatted a while. They just finished this paint job. Isn’t it a beauty?

I figured that with a purple door, I needed to photograph it for my category “Purple Houses” here on this blog. They were all for it.


We also found this wonderful electric-green house. It appears to be headquarters for a neighborhood organization of some sort.


The homes in this area are just gorgeous. The architecture is uniformly detailed and delightful. We had a great walk.

If you liked these photos, you can see all my posts labeled “Purple Houses” by clicking here.

ColorJoy Event & Sale at Rae’s Yarn Boutique, Fri-Sun

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

ChipperColorCapFixationRae’s Yarn Boutique on the East Side of Lansing is having a special event with my ColorJoy patterns, this weekend. It’s buy 4, get 1 free…

…and if you take advantage of the 4-1 sale, you also get 20% off your yarn. (Yarn is 10% off this weekend even if you do not buy my patterns.)

It should be a fun weekend. Events like this make the shop into a bit of a reunion. The knitters who flow through make it a grand time.

This is the official notice all folks on the email list for Rae’s shop got today:

ColorJoy Event & Sale

notebkSSSCome pick out some great patterns & some yarn to knit them~

Friday June 25 – Sunday June 27

Lynn will be in the shop all weekend showing off all the designs she’s been working on this year! To celebrate the release of her newest patterns, Chipper Hat & Summer Striped Socklet, Lynn is offering buy 4 patterns get one 1 free!

Also we’re offering 10% off all regular price yarn this weekend & 20% off when you take advantage of Lynn’s Pattern Offer!

So come in this weekend for some great savings & to pick out some fun summer projects!

Lynn is also teaching a Nuno Felting class on Sunday. There’s still a few spots remaining in this fun class!

notebookonedayneckwarmerActually, I will be at the shop for this event, all day Friday 11-6 and all day Sunday 11-3. I will be there to help folks pick yarn to go with any pattern, or show my samples, or perhaps just chat and say hello.

Saturday will be “catch as catch can.” Brian and I have a private musical performance to sing, out of town. I may be in the shop early in the workday on Saturday, but I do not know that for sure right now.

The sale goes on whether I am in or out of the store. It’s good from open on Friday, to close on Sunday.

notebookroadtestedmariePerhaps there are some patterns of mine that you have contemplated but never purchased. Now is the time to get them at a special price, and get a discount on your yarn at the same time!

I hope to see you there.

(Ravelry members, you can see a list of all my patterns, most of which will be at Rae’s this weekend, at this page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/lynn-dt-hershberger Ravelry requires a free membership to view pages on their site. If you knit or crochet and have not joined yet, I highly recommend it. The information available there is vast. Just click the link, then click Join Now and they will get you started.)

Babies and More Babies!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

In the last 8 months a dance friend had a baby and I gained a new niece. Then in the last 2-3 weeks, I’ve had another dance friend and two knitting friends have babies.

chipper hat Cynthia

I have been old enough to be a grandmother for a decade, easily. I think it’s just great that my friendships span ages and lifestyles so much that I can be experiencing all these newborns at the same time.

I wrote the Chipper Hat pattern when my niece appeared on the scene. I made her some Chippy Socks (a pattern I wrote several years ago). Then I wanted a hat to go with them. Great! Chipper hat, it is.

Above is a Chipper Hat knit by my friend Cynthia, for a baby shower. I don’t know the recipient. The yarn is Berroco Pure Wool, purchased at Rae’s Yarn Boutique in Lansing. The family does not know whether the impending child is male or female, and this group of colors was fun and nontraditional. I’m liking it.

I took this photo immediately after Cynthia completed the last stitch. Some yarn ends were tucked inside the hat. We decided that the little yarn ends on the tassel looked a bit like the wind was blowing, and enjoyed how they looked just this way. The ends, of course, will be worked in before gifting time.

Two young women who regularly attend the Thursday night knit-in at Rae’s shop, had babies this week. How unusual! They were not due this close together, but that’s how it goes. We are *not* in charge.

baby goo sweater

The little sweater here was knit by the mother of the baby born yesterday. Notice that the buttons are not sewn on yet. I made these buttons and she bought them at Rae’s shop. It is amazing how well they go with this yarn. Exciting!

I guess I need to start designing more for babies. For once, I have models on which to try them out.

Back to Mac’s

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010


Before I had two sock design deadlines plus a trip out of town for 4 days, I had a grand time on Lansing’s East Side. Brian and I, as The Fabulous Heftones, played Mac’s Bar with our friend Wally Pleasant. Not only that, but there were two warm up bands besides our two acts, and I enjoyed every set.


Brian has worked with Wally since before Brian and I met. They used to go on tour together… two guys in a van with a bunch of instruments.


They would drive to Tennessee one day, then take turns driving and sleeping to get to Florida the next day, and a gig in Texas the next. It was a crazy schedule but they are both pretty laid back guys and it worked for them. Brian plays so many instruments, he’s a perfect one-man backup band.


Lately we are connecting with Wally again a bit more. It’s great fun.

Mac’s was an extra-special event, because we are emphatically not the kind of act one would expect at that venue. They do a lot of modern indie rock, usually more of a party scene. (It’s common to see a drum set on that stage.)

We are known as “Lansing’s most romantic act.” It was a delight to take our turn at the legendary venue on my own favorite side of town.

The night at Mac’s, Brian backed up Wally for half a set, and then Wally’s wife Alisa backed him on the last half. Alisa is a fine musician in her own right. She’s a classical musician, and also plays in the popular local band, The Lash. (She also took all of the photos in which I’m pictured. Thanks, friend!)

macs Brian tux friends

The last photo makes me giggle. There is a large poster on the wall at Mac’s, above the heads of everyone. It shows a fine collection of several class-act top entertainers, probably taken in the late 60’s or early 70’s. (Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Frank Sinatra)  All of them are wearing tuxedos.

Brian may be the only one ever to show up at Mac’s in a tuxedo, and he felt a photo of him and “the guys” was in order. Love it.

June is Busting Out All Over!

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

It is just perfect in Michigan right now. Some days we get rain, some days clouds, some days hot sun. No matter which of those, the ground is green and it seems everything that could bloom is doing so.

Our house was landscaped, for the most part, in the 1920s. We have lots of old fashioned flowers. The climbing roses are nasty, mean, grabby, and garment-eating for 11 months of the year. In June, I forgive them for all of their irritations. We have them on two sides of the house and one side of the garage.


In addition, we have peonies just finishing up, daylilies everywhere, and a hydrangea/snowball bush blooming. On Thursday I finally planted the last flower in a container. Last year we had some very sad tomatoes, no flowers in front and a few geraniums (in the pots they came in) on the back. This year, Geraniums and petunias with yellow-green sweet potato vines in back. Impatiens in 3 colors in front. I feel rich.

Last year I planted 3 types of tomatoes. One was called “Early Girl.” She never made a single fruit. In fact, the first tomato I got last year was in late October if I remember right. Several I picked green and ripened on the windowsill. If it were not for my knitting friend Rita B. who is an amazing gardener, I would not have had any home-grown tomatoes at all. Hers more than made up for my lack, though.

This year, we had a gift certificate to VanAtta’s Greenhouse in Haslett, and I was able to buy nicer things than usual. My geraniums already look wild and alive. And I splurged on a “Patio Tomato” which was about a yard/meter tall, already blooming, and had a few tiny fruits already growing. Here she is this week:


Can I jump up and down in glee? I’m pretty happy with this. No wonder I keep singing “June is Busting out All Over.” It’s true!

Striped Summer Socklet Pattern: Ready!

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Whew. Yesterday I finished my new pattern and got it uploaded to Ravelry. Today I just uploaded it to Patternfish (though they have to push a magic button before it will go live on their site).


I have had so much fun, knitting this in all sorts of yarns and color combinations, that there is only one pair finished in the world. It’s the pair my test kniter, Emily, knit for me (huge hugs to Emily). Here is a new and exciting view on her take on this pattern:


And just to see how it would work out, while I was at TNNA I knit this version. It uses Regia solid/Uni in fuschia for toes/stripes. The “solid” foot color is Regia Flusi Das Socken Monster (a gently-striped cool-toned sockyarn, mostly turquoise and blue with a tiny bit of hot green).

I suspect this yarn combination is either “Adore” or “Can’t Stand It” territory, but it was worth the experiment. I’ll probably make another (they are fast to knit up) so that I can have a pair to actually wear. That is, if Rae doesn’t want it for a sample at her shop. She has not seen this one finished, yet.


If you are interested in the PDF, it is $6 right now with instant download through Ravelry and Paypal. (You don’t need to be a member of either business… a credit card works.) The link that works right now is this one: Summer Striped Socklet

I expect for PatternFish fans, it probably will be available there tomorrow if Julia is on her typical efficient schedule. I can not find a link to a designer page (it seems a search feature rather than a static location) on Patternfish. However, the link to my Chippy Socks pattern is here: Chippy Socks on PatternFish. If you scroll down, there is a link at bottom right where you can click on SHOW ME MORE by this Designer. If you click “Designer” it will show you my currently active patterns on the site.

WOOHOO!!! After 2 pattern deadlines taking over my life for 3-4 weeks, I took several hours off today and called it “vacation.” It felt like one, too. I even planted some flowers.

I’m drowning in photos I want to share with you. Let’s hope I can catch up on them, now.

Columbus Lunch with Lansing Friends

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Where was I? TNNA and Columbus, Ohio. Well, that is where I left off my storytelling, I think.

One day in Columbus, another Lansing traveler told me that our Lansing musician friend Jen Sygit was also in Columbus. She had performances on Friday and Saturday. I was in town Thursday – Sunday.

I called Jen with a message, and also left her an online note. I heard back relatively quickly. She was up for lunch on Saturday. Perfect!!!


In the end, we had lunch at North Market, with Sam Corbin and their friend Eric who lives in that city. It was much fun.

We all ended up with lunch from the Indian food vendor. It was delicious! It is a good thing I don’t live too close to that booth or I’d be poorer and heavier in no time!

We also played tourist. Near our lunch table, there was a board painted with a lady, a scarecrow, and a goat… with holes cut open for their faces. Jen wanted to be the goat (I was glad it was not me), and Sam became a scarecrow. Eric took this photo of us clowning around. I think it turned out pretty well for such things.


After we finished eating, we went outside behind the building. There was a street festival going on. I got some photos of the band. They were really cranking out the energy up there, a pretty large band. Eight musicians! Wow.

samcorbincolumbusI got a good photo of Sam Corbin behind the stage area. He’s such a pleasant, comfortable person to be with (and a very fine musician, as well). I think you can sense his nature from this image.

As I passed through the North Market parking lot on the way back to the TNNA conference (a few blocks away at the convention center), I came upon an astounding vehicle. I took a few photos. After all, anyone with a car like this surely expects to have it photographed.

The license plate reads “ThatCar.” I have seen a few art cars in my life, though Michigan is not a great place to have one (because of weather). This one was as full-blown as any I’ve seen.

Ironically, I was reading some Twitter posts about TNNA, and found the owner of this vehicle. His twitter name is “ThatCarARTCAR” and his “real” name is Greg. This is what his Twitter profile says:

Meeting planner by day, artcar artist at heart. I participate in parades, festivals, lectures and love to welcome convention attendees to Columbus Ohio.

Greg also has a Flickr account online, with photographs you can check out (besides mine). Find him here:


I have been to Columbus at least three times before. The street festival and ThatCar were new experiences for me this time. It was a fine addition to what I already knew and loved about the city already.

Saturday was definitely a good day for me, in Columbus. I’ve been home since Sunday night. I miss it already.

Summer Striped Socklet (almost done)

Monday, June 14th, 2010

My impending pattern now has a name: “Summer Striped Socklet.” I have knit numerous single socklets in the last week. Here are the socklets which have been completed thus far:


The advertisement on Ravelry is scheduled to start on June 16. I am working on the text layout for the pattern at this point, and need to do a little more photography.

Oh… sockyarns used are, from left to right:

  • Cascade Heritage- Wool/Nylon
  • Crystal Palace Panda Soy- Bamboo/Soy/Nylon
  • Yarn Hollow Squish- Merino/Bamboo/Nylon
  • Cascade Heritage- Wool/Nylon
  • Regia (Blue/green is Regia Flusi Das Socken Monster, Fuschia is Uni)- Wool/Nylon
  • SR Kertzer On Your Toes- Bamboo (Bamboo/Nylon)

Back to the layout program… June 16 is approximately 24 hours from now.

More Photos from TNNA/ZingTrain Speaker

Monday, June 14th, 2010

I came home from TNNA in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday around dinnertime. Rita Pettys from Yarn Hollow was my traveling companion this year. She and I have done a bit of collaborating in the last year (including but not only during the Sock Summit last August in Portland, Oregon). We just finished with a sock design which will be released in a few weeks.

Rita had not been to TNNA before, and I encouraged her to go. She was happy to have attended.


As usual, the Lansing folks all ran into one another often during the weekend. We tried to have another of the “many shops from Lansing” dinners as we have done in several previous years. However, TNNA scheduled things differently this year (with events after 5pm) so it did not work as well as in the past.

sarahpeasleysmWe still ended up with a Saturday-dinner Entourage of four folks from Rae’s Yarn Boutique, Rita/Yarn Hollow, and me. Other than that lovely and more intimate meet-up, there were many knit-celebrity sightings and many, many hugs. It is such a joy to connect with my peers! TNNA is precious to me for that reason.

The weather was hot and about 100% humidity most of the time we were there. One day a thunderstorm created a power outage for a short while in some buildings. However, the first photo above was taken right outside the Convention Center on Friday, the day of the big storm. It was gorgeous and sunny right when I found Sarah Peasley outside doing a bit of knitting.

Sarah works for the XRX people often, teaching at their Stitches events all over the country. She was one of my first teachers and I continue to pass on her tips to my own students. I’m lucky to have her as a peer, and even more lucky that we live in the same area. However, we don’t see each other often.

I was honored to see that Sarah had knit a mini ZigBag for her sport bottle. I was even more honored to hear that she made several as gifts and then finally made this one for herself. She is not fond of photoshoots, but she consented to this photo of her outside the Convention Center, with her ZigBag. (Thanks, Sarah!)

Friday was much fun, with classes all day and exhibits of new products outside the exhibition hall. There were snacks, and a meet & greet with teachers (including our Rae, who taught sold-out dyeing classes for this conference). Then we had a keynote speaker and a fashion show.

The Keynote Speaker: Excellent

tnnazingtrainI have not seen anyone else mention the speaker yet on the web, when discussing TNNA. I was enthused with and energized from the presentation. (I can not seem to find her name anywhere on the web. I want to say it was Anne/Ann, but I’m grasping at straws here.)

She was from ZingTrain, a training company related to Zingerman’s delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is such a fine organization/restaurant, I am a loyal customer even though I live about an hour away. I’ve literally (when I was younger) gone to Ann Arbor just to go to dinner at Zingerman’s and then come back home to Lansing.

She Knows Fine Customer Service, by Experience

The food at the deli is extra-ordinary in all senses. The service is just incredible. People wait in line, often outdoors in bad weather, just to get in there and buy. When you are the first in line, they treat you as if you are the only person there, bringing samples of whatever you’d like to try, and answering any question you might have.

Since I have a lot of food restrictions, there are few places I can eat without taking risks with my health. At Zingerman’s they really know what is in everything, and I can eat without taking any chances. They bring me lists of ingredients whenever I ask. It’s wonderful.

I was there once in a rainstorm. We customers waited in line outside under umbrellas and newspapers, chatting while we waited. The deli sent out treats, and I think hot coffee if I remember right, for those of us waiting outside in the cold.

Back to the Speech

This is to say that when our speaker talked, I listened. Maybe others listening did not know she was really telling it without embellishment. The methods they have for customer service are truly extra special. They do make customers happy, even with a long wait and even in bad weather. Yes, even with relatively high prices. The quality service and food make for such a superior experience that I go out of my way to eat there whenever I can.

I learned much from her about good service. One of the points she made was that they use the same skills and techniques to serve one another inside the company. There are a lot of folks who work there for long streteches of time. This, in a retail food business (an industry not known for overall loyalty from employees).

Another great point was giving the employees the power to actually fix a complaint right then and there, rather than telling a customer they need someone else, or need to call back at an inconvenient time to find someone with the authority to make it right. They are to find out what went wrong, and do whatever they can to fix it, then thank the customer for letting them know they needed to make something right.

Authority to Act is Key

When employees, anywhere, can not fix something for a customer (because they lack authority or confidence) it hurts the business in a trickle-down fashion. The customer then will (definitely) tell a lot of folks about their unhappiness. If they have a good experience, they also share about it, but not in as destructive way.

I once worked for a computer training company for 6+ years. I was often the only representative of my company on location. My boss handled the authority issue well.

I was told: “If there is a problem, do whatever you can to fix it, in the best way you can figure out. Later we will discuss what you chose to do. If I would prefer you do it different the next time, we will discuss it then. Meanwhile, do your best and don’t wait for me to tell you the right move.”

This was powerful. I am confident that it increased our ability to do good customer service. I loved being told I was trusted to be a thoughtful adult, too. So many workplaces do not have the confidence to do this. It helps the customers, the employees, and the business. I am confident it helps the bottom line, as well.

I want to share more. I’m falling asleep as I type. More images tomorrow, I assure you.

TNNA: Ravelry Party Photos

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

ravelrybobsoldaHello from Columbus, Ohio! The TNNA trade show is a great time, I’m loving it. No time to write much right now. I’ve written a little last night on my twitter account at http://twitter.com/colorjoy (follow me @colorjoy).

These photos are a quick look at the Ravelry party last night. They offered prizes, a beverage and Jeni’s Ice Cream, the pride of Columbus. It was a blast. Enjoy!








Columbus, Here We Come!

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

This weekend may be my favorite weekend of the year. I’m going to TNNA, a trade show for the yarn/needlework business.

I am lucky in that Lansing does have a decent handful of folks on the national designing/teaching scene. However, few do this full time as I do (unless they own a shop).

At TNNA, in Columbus, Ohio… there is a convention center full of my peers. It lightens my heart to be among my own.


Right now I’m in the predictable last-minute panic mode. I have food and yarn and computer ready to go. I have most of my clothes ready. So of course, now I’m trying to cram ten more skeins of yarn and a few more outfits in the packed stuff, while I surely will forget something that is essential.

I have me, I have yarn, foods, meds, needles, computer, a few clothes. I have funds. We have reservations for the conference and for a hotel. I guess I’m ready enough.

Oh… gratuitous picture showing off a special kid. Isabel drew this butterfly in Kindergarten. She and one of her best friends learned to ride bicycles yesterday, thanks to my friend April. I predict an incredible summer!

My “Start with a Square” Technique

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010


Lindy wrote me recently to ask about my unusual toe-up sock start. I like this method and use it in many of my patterns, although I keep changing it in small ways each time I write it into a new pattern. She saw the photos of my upcoming Summer Striped Socklet pattern and asked this:

A question: I have had some problems with awkwardness using your “rectangular” or “square” toe start to begin a toe-up sock. Any suggestions?

This was my response (edited a bit):


I’ve taught a lot of people this toe. A few do struggle at the beginning. In my experience, these factors can contribute:

  • Dark yarn makes it hard to see where to pick up stitches.
  • Splitty yarn and pointy needles combine to frustrate things.
  • Some people really benefit from reading glasses for fine work.
  • It helps to have excellent lighting when picking up.

hotwavestwocolors16Consider trying this first with larger, smooth, light-colored yarn and switch to fingering after you have figured it out. Once you are clear what is supposed to happen, it should be easier on smaller yarn and needles.

For the record, my First-Time Toe-Up Sock pattern uses 8 stitches and 8 rows for the starting rectangle. This means some fudging to get one of those corner stitches in tight quarters.

In my recent patterns starting with this method, I’ve added a few extra rows in the starting rectangle. This means it is easier to find spots to pick up stitches, but also means there is a little gap where one could pick up one more stitch. The gap disappears after a round or two, but it is bothersome to some knitters. My new striped socklet will have this extra set of rows for wiggle-room in the pick up row.

My best hints:

  • Use good, smooth yarn that is spun firmly.
  • Use needles that are not super pointy.
  • Sit by a window during daytime or a work light otherwise.
  • Wear your best glasses (for me that means bifocals) or get some drug store magnifying reading glasses, to see the stitches better.
  • If you have a version where there are the same number of rows as stitches,  in the starting rectangle/square, add two more rows to give you a little more wiggle-room.

In my experience, there is one single round that is a struggle for some people. It’s that one fiddly pick up round. See if this information will help.

For the record, I have used this method for items other than socks. The Topper-Down hat, Buttons & Beads Bowl, and ZigBagZ (mini collection, bottle or sport) all use this start method in slightly different ways.


The first photo today is the Summer Striped Socklet I showed you here a handful of days back (it uses this toe). I finished one, just in time to take photos for an upcoming advertisement on Ravelry.

I wish you could feel this pink/green sock. It’s sleek but a bit springy. Bamboo and nylon: On Your Toes Bamboo by SR Kertzer Co., sock/fingering weight. I think this would make an incredible tank top or tee, as well as socks.

The second photo shows my Hot Waves sock, a pattern found in the book “The Joy of Sox.” It also uses the start-with-a-square method. What a fun pattern this is!

The final photo is a pair of socks I finished in April 2006. The pattern is my First-Time Toe-Up Socks. The yarn used was Opal fingering weight. They were the 128th pair of socks I knit. (I am up to pair 179, to date.) I still wear this pair rather regularly, they are some of my favorites.