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Archive for August, 2010

Urban Archaeology?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I found this view on South Cedar Street (Lansing, Michigan, USA). I walked to the library from my house, and this was near the sidewalk. It looked a bit like an archaeological dig, crossed with a Buddhist rock garden. I like it.


It has been very hot and sunny today. The view there probably looks similar right now. I’d planned to walk to the library this afternoon. That direct sun was just too mean at the time I wished to leave. Plan B!

Working at home is my work plan at this point. Yes, the library has A/C, but getting there would overheat anybody. I can’t justify driving there, it’s just too close.

I hope whatever sort of day you have, it makes you smile. I’m a big fan of summer. I’m nearly giddy that I only had to get my legwarmers out for one day before summer returned. Slowing down is the cost of heat, and my life allows for a slow physical pace if needed. Love it.

Enveloped in Process

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I am developing a new shawl pattern. It started with a picture in my mind that would not go away. However, it is not the kind of knitting I usually do. I’m in the middle of another learning curve.

First I went through my book resources. I glanced through several books and looked in more depth at 3. I used two computer programs plus a calculator to make the first plan.


I picked two yarns to use together. They look great together, but it turns out they are not right for this project. Normally I love high contrast, but that is for stranded/fair isle colorwork. This is a shawl, and I don’t like that much contrast here. Start over.

I am right now on my 4th knitted swatch and my 2nd printed chart. I’m getting closer.

I have learned that if I have an idea in my mind that persists over time, it will be worth the effort. My ZigBagZ were in that category. My Chippy Socks were like that. Those are at the very top of my best-selling pattern designs. Those dreams turned out to please others as well. Therefore, I must proceed.

This design has some Yarn Overs in it. These are used to make intentional, decorative holes in a knitted fabric. I am not a frilly girl, and this is usually part of lacy patterning. However, I have been experimenting with it as more of a texture rather than a girly decoration. I used Yarn Overs in the July Yarn Club kit for Rae’s, pictured here, to accentuate the vertical slip-stitch squiggle line.

In addition, I usually knit in tubes (we call that “in the round”). I do it more when I knit from others’ patterns than my own. For repeating patterns which have an odd number of stitches, this means things may count differently on the right side versus the wrong. I am totally capable of this, but it requires that I think differently.

(It also means I have to purl about half of the stitches, and I’m not fond of purling. I executed over 5,000 purls in 11 assorted colors on my knitted self-portrait project, so I know I can handle that, as well.)

This is not to say I’m complaining. I am getting to where I may be able to dive in to the “real” item soon. I had invaluable time-saving assistance from Rae Monday at Rae’s Yarn Boutique, charting out a particularly confusing part of the design.

So, what can I tell you at this point? I am swatching right now using Noro Silk Garden sockyarn and Elsabeth Lavold Silky Wool. I like the drape of these together, and the slight texture contrast. I started with high color contrast but have decided right now to try it with a combination of all cool tones, from green to turquoise, to blue, to purple.

It will take a bit of knitting to complete this, but my goal is to use less than 200gm of fingering-to-sportweight yarns. It can’t take forever!

I’m tentatively planning the second sample to use Kauni slowly-self-striping yarn with a solid, probably Harrisville sportweight two ply, both 100% wool. This one will not have the drape of the silk blend, but will have a lofty warmth.

Or those are the plans at the current time. You’ll hear more as I proceed.

Butterfly, Eggplant, Dancers

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I have been busy. Here are some photos I collected along the way.

A tiny butterfly on the flowers in my friend Ulyana’s front yard, REO Town Lansing.

An unusual mottled eggplant with “ears.” This was taken at the East Lansing Food Co-Op. There was another eggplant of the same coloring, which did not have the side bits sticking out. I did not buy either of them, but the visual surprise delighted me.

eggplant with ears

A fraternal pair of Striped Summer Socklets. These are a store sample at Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan- as of Tuesday.

The yarn is Cascade Heritage, a standard wool-nylon sockyarn. It comes in many solid colors and a good selection of multicolors as well. Good quality, good price.

Summer Striped Socklets in Cascade Heritage

Several photos of a group of Habibi Dancers, performing this last Wednesday at Sparrow Hospital. I think this is my 5th year participating with my troupe in this event. It’s a Diversity Week celebration. They also have a food contest. We got to dance to the smell of some lovely Indian spices. Yum!


I am third from the right, in turquoise, hot green and a purple head wrap. This is how I look when I am in character as Eudora, the dancer.  Theatre is much fun, and dancing with girlfriends is just as fun as it gets!


You can’t see it here, but this was a cane dance. we balance the canes horizontally on our heads for part of the dance. We also swing them around, toss them back and forth, and otherwise generally have a bit o’fun with shiny sticks.

Sparrow Habibi April

My dear friend April, being her beautiful and energetic self. Her daughter, Isabel (age six), took all of these photos for me, from the front row.

I’ve been giving Isabel my camera to use since she was about 4 years old. She has learned to take photos, zoom a bit, and take a look at the photos she has taken on the camera’s preview screen. She does a rather nice job.


I love that sometimes Isabel takes photos from her own perspective. A person several feet shorter than I am, sometimes takes photos at her eye level, which is adult hip level. When the photos are of dancers, I enjoy seeing the energy in the clothing. Clearly, these folks were moving quickly!


Love this one. Literally caught mid-hop.


Yes, the baskets are real. No, we don’t use magnets or velcro. Yes, the headwrap makes it easier (my hair is very slippery). Yes, it takes a lot of practice.

We still have hiccups at times. The baskets are wider than my shoulders. It’s easy to run into someone else’s basket. It’s SO much fun, though!!!

Thanks to Sparrow Hospital for inviting us back, yet again. Community events make me really happy. This is one of my favorite events of the year.

Mom’s Books, Now Available!!!

Monday, August 16th, 2010


I’ve been helping my mom with a huge task… her life’s work is to teach as many kids to read as possible. She wrote 4 books to help them break through.

1lookwithmethumbnailMom has taught “little guys” to read for a long time. (She taught early elementary grades in public school for about 25 years.) These books are the result of her work on the students’ behalf. She struggled to learn reading herself, and has been passionate about making it easier for others.

Mom wrote all the stories so that only one new word appears on any page. She found when working in the classroom, some new-reader books would introduce even four new words per page. Many kids can not handle that rate of introduction.

2comewithmethumbnailThe books have color covers, but the insides are black and white line drawings. One benefit to this, is that the artwork does not distract from the subject matter.

Another benefit is that children can be encouraged to own their books by coloring in the characters. Each character is named by their color, so the child can own the word “Red” by coloring the little Red character throughout the books.

My little sweet friend Isabel received a set of the prototype books about a year ago. One night she sneaked into its storage place, took it in her room and colored in every instance of little Blue. Her favorite color is blue. I love that story!

3playwithmethumbnailIf you live in Lansing, you can get the books at Everybody Reads bookstore. This is on Lansing’s fine and funky East Side, across from Emil’s Italian restaurant, the same block as Rae’s Yarn Boutique. (It’s about 4 blocks west of Frandor.)

Everybody Reads will be sponsoring a meet-the Author/Illustrator night, with a book signing and talk. The event will be Thursday, September 30, from 6pm-8pm.

I can not stress enough how important it is to communities, to buy from local shops when possible. I find it powerful and humbling to know who actually benefits from my small purchases when I buy from a local shop. Scott Harris runs Everybody Reads. He’s as passionate about reading as my mother. He is wonderfully supportive of local talent. I love to vote with my dollars by supporting him.

4seewithmethumbnailEverybody Reads will even ship books to you if you do not live in Lansing. Their phone number is 517/346-9900. They are open until 7 on weeknights without events, and 5pm on weekends.

You can read more about Mom’s story and each individual book, at the With Me Books page on lulu.com

Congratulations, Mom! Your work will benefit the world for generations to come. Nice job.

Urban Poetry – Invited Graffiti at Deluxe Inn

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

If you missed my last post, the old Deluxe Inn in REO Town/Lansing, Michigan is now owned by a county-run government entity (or maybe two organizations, I’m sketchy on that part). It is scheduled to be torn down any day. Meanwhile, graffiti artists were invited to come in and embellish/ decorate the space. Honestly, it’s safe to wander there now and take photos, it’s like a park. Not long ago, it was a good place to avoid. I love everything about this change of events.

I took well over 100 images of the site, on two separate days. The first day was mid-afternoon on a Tuesday and there were few people there, most with kids.

On Wednesday I was there around 5:30 (this is quite near downtown where many work). Since the parking lot is blocked off, there are only 5 places where a car can sneak a parking spot. I got the last of 5 that day. It was just crawling with folks, most with a friend or a few kids. Solo visitors, in general, carried large and important-looking cameras.

The prettier, more colorful pieces (see cropped tiny images/thumbnails) often are embellished words, usually nicknames of the artists. I have trouble reading those, but that was not my aim in this post. If I try to guess those, I will make a fool of myself. Maybe someone reading this can enlighten me in that area. They are absolutely beautiful works of art. The text eludes me, though the beauty does not.

All of the below (larger) images of the now-graffiti-covered Deluxe Inn contain text which was meant to communicate to the viewer. I left out images containing only advertising or names of organizations/ people/ websites and the like. Some are small phrases, some are statements in the moment, and a few are clearly intended as a sort of urban poetry.

If you are as entranced by this artful moment in time as I am, perhaps you’ll be interested in more photos. I have put up 86 images in a photoset on my Flickr account (colorjoylynnh). It’s a lot of looking, but if you have a fast connection and the time, you might enjoy putting it on “slide show” and letting the photos float past you. Click here for my Graffiti LoveLansing Photoset.

The text I am highlighting below tends to be less decorative, but that makes it easier for my un-practiced eye to understand. (Some appear to be painted by folks in the sign-painting business, the text is so perfectly executed.) Maybe you will enjoy their intent, as I did.


Since this was not
done for critical acclaim
nor economic or Social
gain, Writing on this Wall
is the purest form of


(Further down above the next door it says: CAN WE STAY?)



thank you Lansing

We Do This All Day!







i’ve DoNe betteR







Positive LoveLansing Graffiti

Saturday, August 14th, 2010


There is a non-functioning motel in Lansing at the intersection of Main/496 and South Washington (ReoTown, near Cooley Gardens). It was a place where nothing good seemed to happen, and at present the county is set to demolish it.


About 2 weeks ago, graffiti artists were invited (by authorities) to come in and decorate the space until its demolition. The sad corner has become a very colorful one.


I went there twice, one time with a 10 yr old. She was bummed it would be taken down, because “art makes people happy.” Right now the place is typically crawling with folks all holding cameras. It’s quite a wonderful city scene.


The photo above says #lovelansing. That is a Twitter “tag” which is used to connect people who are “Tweeting” about things that are good about the Greater Lansing Area.


The little cartoon image above which has that tag, is my own contribution to the temporary art exhibit. I found an unmarked spot between larger artful works, and drew a little cartoon character. I started drawing this little guy around 1970, for a comic strip I contributed to the Middle School newspaper, the Kinawa Courier. I haven’t drawn “Mr. Graphix” in a long time. That was fun.


I took hundreds of photos. These are the ones which specifically referenced Lansing (the green helmet represents the MSU Spartans, 517 is our area code, and Impression 5 is a science museum in downtown). If you click on them, they will blow up approximately 4 times in size. Your choice!



Applesauce Muffins- no wheat, egg or milk

Friday, August 6th, 2010

I’ve been in the kitchen again. We are cooking almost all of our meals at home now, and often I want fresh breads/baked goods rather than crackers, pasta or rice.

Lucky for me, I have learned a lot about wheat-free, gluten-free, egg/ milk/ nut/ potato/ corn/ yeast-free cooking in the last 8 years or so. When you have done something many times, it gets easier and faster to do. I’m grateful I am no longer at the beginning of the learning curve. That was a lonely place to be.

This time I wanted to make something with 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce which was left over from making Pumpkin Soup. I decided that would be nice with buckwheat flour (buckwheat has no gluten and is not related to wheat – it is not even a true grain).

After a bunch of digging around, I did not find any existing recipe that would work with what I had in mind. I started from scratch.

applesauce buckwheat muffins

It makes a good muffin, which you can eat with butter for breakfast or alone with soup (ours was blackeyed peas with cabbage). It holds together very well, even packed in a lunch bag. This is good news for a non-wheat baked item.

Use all of the spices or none. I used a shake or two of nutmeg and allspice, and not as much sugar, when I wanted a cornbread substitute of sorts.  When I make these for breakfast or dessert, I use all the spices here and a full cup of sugar. It makes a better crusty texture on the top, and perhaps stands alone in flavor a bit better.

I am looking forward to breakfast. I think I will break up a few muffins in a bowl, add some fruit (peaches would be great, but I’ll go with dark cherries or strawberries) and top that with some home-whipped cream sweetened with brown sugar. YUM!

Applesauce-Buckwheat Muffins

2-1/2 c Buckwheat Flour (I used Arrowhead Mills, or try Hodgson Mills.
Bob’s Red Mill is a different texture and will not work the same.)

2/3 to 1 c Brown Sugar (1 cup makes better crust, definitely sweeter)

1 Tbsp Flaxseed Meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp cream of tartar, or Emergen-C powder, or unbuffered Vitamin C powder

Optional (more protein) 2 Tbsp Powdered Goat’s Milk
– (or powdered Cow/Dairy milk if not allergic, or use soy milk rather than water)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Allspice

Optional Spices:
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ginger
1 small dash/shake of ground Cloves

1/4 c Oil (I use olive)
1 c Applesauce, unsweetened
1 c water

Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare muffin pan (cupcake-sized, about 1/2 c each) with oil and a light dusting of buckwheat or rice flour.

Place all dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Blend with wire whisk until mixed well (there will be brown sugar lumps, this is OK)

Add wet ingredients and mix carefully, do not mix any longer than necessary to get all ingredients wet. Let it stand for a minute or two. It will be rather sticky and not as wet as normal cake batter is, by far (more like stiff egg whites, perhaps). This is due to the flaxseed meal substituting for eggs.

Distribute batter into 12 equal portions in the pan. They will be approximately full to the brim.

Place in oven for 15-25 minutes. Mine took 20 minutes and a toothpick in the center pulled out clean but a tiny bit sticky to the touch.

Cool about 5 minutes, then turn baked items out of pan and continue to cool on wire rack.

Moments when Reality Shifts

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I have talked before about author Barbara Winter of the Joyfully Jobless blog (and book Making a Living without a Job). Today she posted a blog entry called “Things I Haven’t Told You.”

LynnDTHershbergerPublicityPhotoforweb12.5I got to thinking… what my mind jumped to was telling a story yesterday (at Maker Faire). I was a computer consultant and discovered that one could knit her own socks. For me, that was a defining moment in my own personal history. I knew my life would change, and it did.

I am fond of saying “One can not buy passion.” It sort of explains how I am in this business. My computer business was enjoyable and paid well, though it fizzled out after Y2K passed. My knitting/singing/art business is about passion. I wake up dreaming that I am knitting. It is all about that excitement that can not be purchased.

Going back, I remember several moments which I will never forget. These moments changed my life in some way. The best of them include a picture in my mind of how the room looked, how I felt, sometimes how I stopped in mid-step to drink in the experience. Some of them:

  • I melottfestheftoneswas maybe 9 or 10 years old, and my family took a trip across Lake Michigan on the “Milwaukee Clipper.” There was a musical ensemble in one room for entertainment. One guy was playing a drum set, including a snare drum with brushes. I had to be pried away from watching him.
    However when it came time to play in band, I knew not to ask. Girls did not play drums in my community in 1969. I asked to play flute, which had intrigued me since Mrs. Gibbs played one for us in 3rd grade. My father gave me two choices, trumpet or clarinet. He played trumpet and I did not want to “match.” I never liked clarinet. I quit as soon as I was allowed.
    Interestingly, though… I was always great at reading rhythms on sheet music. Notes were much harder. As an adult I took a private hand-drum lesson and the instructor indicated that I took to it easily. Arthritis in my fingers means I did not pursue it further, but I felt good to find that out. Now, I play Heftone bass. It’s a rhythm instrument that is kind to my hands. In the end I sort of got what I wanted, all along.
    Not long after I started with clarinet, Karen Carpenter came on the scene, playing a drum set. She also had a beautiful voice. She was my hero.
  • I was in 10th grade. Our church youth director, Lynn Grimes (now a retired United Methodist minister) was from Detroit. Our town was decidedly low on diversity and not at all like a big city. She decided to take our whole youth group to Toronto. There were 15 kids, Lynn and her husband. We had an amazing time. For me, I found out that there were places not like home, where there was more diversity, more visual stimulation, more everything. It was intoxicating.
    Lynn made sure we saw things we could never see in 1975 suburbia. We rode the subway. We went to a Hungarian restaurant and a Chinese one in Chinatown where lots of people did not speak English. The food was unlike anything near home.
    We went to fine museums, both the Royal Ontario and the Science Center (a new concept at the time).  And I spent a whole weekend taking photographs pointing straight up, at the skyscrapers. I fell in love with cities. Now I collect cities  (and especially their subway/transit systems). Photo is the Eaton Centre, a multi-story mall in Toronto.
  • I was 27 years old in the sad part of my adult life… cleaning house alone one night, playing the radio for company. I think it was Bob Blackman’s Folk Tradition show on WKAR/MSU. He played a cut from Paul Simon’s Graceland album, singing with Ladysmith Black Mombazo (I believe the cut was Homeless).
    I literally stopped  in my tracks, turned up the volume, and sat right there on the floor in front of the speakers, transfixed. I knew virtually nothing about Africa at that time, but it was like finding home. That much vocal beauty at one time knocked me over with a feather, so to speak. I’m still in love with that sound.
  • I took a feltmaking workshop on the recommendation of Nancy McRay, around 2000. It was wonderful, and my hands remembered how wool made me feel good, to touch it.Looking for wool supplies online, I somehow found myself on the www.socknitters.com website. I was blown away. I had not imagined that someone could make their own socks! I could feel in my gut at that moment, that my life was going to change.
    As a child of the 70’s (Twiggy, rainbow toe socks, laugh in), I loved bright colored socks, preferred wool, and had small enough feet that bright colored wool socks were impossible to find for me. I literally had over 80 pairs of socks in my sock drawer, when I found out one could knit one’s own socks. None of them were a)wool, b)bright colored, and c)small enough to fit properly. Most had two of those three attributes.
    So there it was: I could make my own socks. I was working on a rather complex database project for a computer client at the time. I knew if I went to the yarn shop before finishing, I might not get the project done on deadline. The minute I turned in that project, I headed over to the only yarn shop in town at the time.
    Ruth was working that day. I told her I had only knit scarves for 20 years and had played with purls a little, but not in any finished project. I was determined to make socks.
    She did not flinch. She helped me find some DK-weight yarn and double-pointed needles, and instructions for making my socks. I went home, and somehow I had a pair of socks 10 days later (photo at right). And the rest, is my current life/livelihood…

Perhaps you would like to tell me a moment like this, from your own life? In the comments? I would love to hear. I think these moments do help us know who we are on the inside.

Maker Faire / Sashimi Tabernacle Choir

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

I lucked out. Through Twitter, I found out there was a Maker Faire going on in “Detroit” (Dearborn) this weekend.I was intrigued. This is a hotbed for creative folks… artists to robotics folks… anything goes if you made it.

The show goes until 5pm. If you are within range, I encourage you to consider a visit. It’s at The Henry Ford (grounds including Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village).

Our knitting/yarn trade association, TNNA, is having a booth there. I’m helping out in the booth today/Sunday by teaching knitting to beginners, and this got me free admission to the Faire. Since summer is a rough time in a knitting instructor’s budget, this was a true gift. Never mind that I adore teaching people to knit!

Brother Eric and Sis-in-Love Diana went yesterday and had to call me because they had such a great time. Diana reports that they got me some felt-ball earrings in my fave colors. Can’t wait to see!

But this morning I found out the best news yet. The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir will be there! Video, courtesy of www.GeeksAreSexy.net (Click the photo below to go to the YouTube video.)

sashimi tabernacle choir

I’ve blogged this art car before. It has some of those annoying singing fish on it, the odd gift of many Christmases ago. There are 250 fish/lobsters on this car. They are all coordinated to sing together in unison, from the Halleluia chorus to that mid-70’s roller rink song “I’m Hooked on a Feeling” (It starts out with ooga-chucka-ooga-ooga-etc., you surely remember.)


I get to see this incredible embellished Volvo! I’m hyped!


Brian’s riding his bike to Dearborn today for fun, as it’s a bit far to go on a day off and then get back home by dark. We’ll meet up for dinner at the wonderful Al-Ameer restaurant on Warren (where Habibi Dancers eat after the Arab festival each June). Dearborn most likely has the best Lebanese food in the world… more folks of Lebanese descent live in Michigan than in Lebanon at present, and Dearborn is the center of it all.


It looks like I’m going to have a great day!

ColorJoyful: Turquoise Door

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Late last week, Brian and I had a musical performance north of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. It was about time to eat when we came through Mt. Pleasant on the way home.

I lived in this friendly community when I was in school at Central Michigan University from August 1976 to December 1978. I felt welcomed by this small city which really seemed to appreciate their students. (In contrast, I was treated poorly in my own town which also has a university).

We stopped and went looking for lunch. We found a street fair (sidewalk chalk artists galore). The town looks so different now, I had a hard time getting my bearings. I loved it, anyway.


Near our parking spot, on a side road, I found this door. Everything about it makes me happy.

From the faded, multicolored paint on the door, to the shapes in the photo, to the black and white wall tiles… this is ColorJoy of the “Miscellaneous Artforms” type. I hope it makes your eyes happy, as it does mine.