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Archive for September, 2010

Tonight’s the Big Night!

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

color kids

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It’s my mom’s big book release event tonight! The culmination of her life’s work, trying to help struggling early readers enjoy reading, is a series of 4 books. She will have an event tonight on Lansing’s East Side.

If you or anyone you know has a beloved child learning to read, or is interested in teaching, education, or homeschooling, please consider joining her for this special event. Here’s the press release:

Liz Troldahl, Okemos Educator/Author/Illustrator has released a series of four Very-Early-Reader books. Look with Me, Come with Me, Play with Me, and See with Me are excellent tools for new learners, English as a Second Language, and Home Schoolers.

Author Talk/ Book Signing for public, Thursday September 30, and
Author event for educators Thursday Oct 7.

Both events from 6-8 PM at Everybody Reads bookstore, 2019 E. Michigan Ave. Lansing. No Charge.
——————–

Story:

Liz Troldahl of Okemos is a woman of passion. In her many years of teaching, she became known as the woman who could “teach a rock to read.”

Now retired, she has not slowed down. Her days are spent tutoring children who struggle with reading. She glows when talking about their breakthroughs.

Children who struggle with reading need special books. Standard school books often introduce many words on a single page, which can be too much.

Liz developed her own materials to help these children. These materials evolved into a series of four books, all of which introduce only one new word per page. The new word is shown on the top corner of the page. This helps adults as they assist the reader.

The books feature characters named Red, Blue, Yellow and Green. The characters are race-independent and fashion-free. Liz hopes that this will ensure her books can go into any culture, and not date them in generations to come.

While Liz was teaching, many folks encouraged her to publish her reading materials. She chose to wait until she retired to begin the journey to print. In the end, this was a wise choice. It took several years of hard work to bring them to print.

Liz struggled to read as a child, which prompted this teaching path. Her empathy for her “little guys” has helped her change hundreds of lives. It formed a life’s work for her, helping others avoid the difficulties she faced.

With these books, Liz’s work can teach even more children to read. Those she can never meet will benefit from her passion on their behalf.

The books are available at Everybody Reads Books in Lansing http://BecauseEverybodyReads.com. The store will ship to local and out-of-town addresses.

Also the books (and descriptions) can be found online at: http://lulu.com/withmebooks

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Urban Found Art (bigger than life)

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

In Old Town Lansing (#lovelansing), there is a tiny park at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Turner Street. There are 2 picnic tables there, metal ones installed by the city.

One day I was at one of the tables with my friend Cynthia. I spied this bolt. It said: “THE.” I was intrigued.

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It’s a big bolt as they go. It connects the table to the ground.

The text on this bolt is not the sort of thing one would typically notice. The shadows also make a pleasant set of shapes and angles. I like it.

Isn’t it interesting how a monochromatic image still has color in it? The dust looks almost orange at center, and the shadow at top of the bolt is nearly magenta. The middle of the bolt top is more blue.

Here is the same image, with the saturation (color intensity) turned up to 100% in Photoshop:

urbanfoundartsaturated

Did you imagine the top of the bolt to be purple-blue before you saw this version? Isn’t it just fascinating?

Pretty – Pleased

Monday, September 20th, 2010

My new shawl is finally taking shape. The one eyelet row took me 10 days or so. Fortunately, it’s going smoothly now.

ZigShawlThaiFoodNight

I took myself out to Thai food for dinner Saturday night. My shawl was my dinner companion.

She is looking flowerlike here. However, off of the needles (with a bit more fabric) she’ll  have more of  a chevron/zigzag edge with points. I truly love my diagonal lines, no matter what you call them!!!

I was right that the fuss would be worth it. She’s already looking lovely.

Wristwarmer Season

Monday, September 13th, 2010

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Mywristwarmerpurplebulkyalpaca125 friend Rita of Yarn Hollow just finished a weekend as a seller, at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. She reports back that Wisconsin loved my patterns, she sold a lot of them. The big favorites were my Wristwarmers and my “Toe Up” Mittens.

When I first started knitting Wristwarmers, I made them in fat, warm yarns. My favorite yarns for this were Big Baby (bulky alpaca by Alpaca with a Twist – photo at right), Lamb’s Pride Worsted (an Aran weight, actually… thicker than worsted weight, by Brown Sheep company) and Lamb’s Pride Bulky (photo below left).

Even these fat yarns were easy to wear, and I could knit or play bass while wearing them. In really bad weather I might wear the Wristwarmers over a pair of leather wind-stopping gloves and really get warm.

wristwarmerlimegreenHowever, lately I have been really in love with thinner yarns. They drape, they are supple, and you get a lot more square inches of fabric from the same number of grams of wool. In addition, a smaller stitch means the holes between the stitches are smaller. It’s remarkable how warm a thin pair of Wristwarmers can be.

The first photo above is a pair of my Wristwarmers made from Colinette Jitterbug sockyarn. They were the leftovers from a pair of socks I knit. The yarn was a 50th birthday gift from Brian’s sister, and I did not want to waste a single inch.

You can not believe how great these warmers have been. They are great with a raincoat in spring/fall weather. They are great inside for typing and knitting. They fit under a more substantial pair of warmers, gloves or mittens. I wear them often.

Many folks have leftover sockyarns. Even if you do not want to knit warmers that are as thin as these, you can hold two sockyarns together and pretend they are one yarn. This gives a DK gauge (one size smaller than worsted weight, which for sweaters knits at 5.5 stitches per inch). In addition, two strands held together makes a flatter fabric with smaller holes in the knitting where wind can blow through.

Thanks to Rita for encouraging me to take the time for this discussion. I’m a big fan of these fast, easy projects which can be made with leftover yarns. They are really year-round projects… air conditioning means I wear them in summer occasionally.

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Healing on 9/11

Friday, September 10th, 2010

New York Times: 9/11 widow “…frustrated and troubled, that so many Americans find it impossible to separate the pious of her faith from its fanatics.” Read the article here.

Right now the guy in Florida is showing that illogical fanaticism comes in many so-called-religious flavors. God and hate do not belong in the same room.

Let us HEAL on 9/11, for the sake of humanity. Remember we are human first. Please.

A Lot of De-Cluttering, a Little Knitting

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

(Note… I wrote this Tuesday, tried to post it again Wednesday, and have had real computer/internet connection problems. I am not in charge of much, I think.)

I have done some knitting on the shawl, but am considering a rip back about an inch to change one feature. I’ll decide by Wednesday sometime , and hope to sometime post photos with before/after choices and photos.

zig shawl neck

This picture was taken several days ago. I’ve knit much more, then ripped back at least 3 times. It’s fine, I design by “sketching” on the needles, so this is just how it must go. It’s bigger than this right now, but not a lot.

I hope everyone who had a long weekend, enjoyed it. As for me, I spent 3 days at home, one day I never even opened a door to look out. If you follow me on Twitter (I’m ColorJoy there) you know I’ve been doing a rather major purge of my house, clearing out all the things which I do not find useful or sentimental. Over time, sentimental “owns” me less, and I am able to let go more and more.

I started with easier things. A year ago (June 2009) I started with clearing out closets, drawers and other fabric/textile items in the house. Last winter I stepped it up, giving any warm items I could spare to a homeless day shelter in downtown Lansing.

This spring when I was clearly in transition with my livelihood, at least for a summer, I got into it yet again. I started with cleaning cupboards in the kitchen and bath. In late July Brian was gone for several days and I decided to clear everything out of the kitchen that I did not WANT in the kitchen. What I did want, had to fit in the available space.

It was life-changing, really. The clearer closets last year were really good, but there is nothing like a kitchen that totally works. I’m loving it more than I could have imagined.

So this weekend, I had 4 days without appointments. I did meet up for lunch on Friday with a Twitter/Knitting friend. Other than that, I stayed home and worked on the shawl design and the house.

This was the big one. I worked on my office. It was piled from floor to ceiling with papers, and boxes of papers, you name it. I had expired software boxes piled in the corner. It was absolutely unmanageable, and I often work on my computer by taking it to the couch, the porch, even the library.

The success in my kitchen means that I had an optimism about the office. I figured that in my weekend’s 4 days I could work on the shawl some and make the office function.

The work in my office is not done, but the change so far is rather amazing as far as my ability to function. There is nothing on the floor but wires and furniture as I type this. I still have shelves piled but the desk is getting sorted.

zigmeasureMy desk has four surfaces, really. There is the main surface where the computer goes, then two shelves above it, and one small shelf to the side which once held a huge computer monitor. All of the surfaces were nearly pregnant with items, it was a bit like tribbles falling out of the sky at times.

Now I’ve plowed through most of the biggest surface, and half of the second shelf. I think this could really actually be within my reach.

I also realize that I’m doing two separate actions here. First I de-clutter and toss everything that I don’t wish to keep in the room (or store it appropriately). Later I need to organize what is left so I can function better from day to day.

It’s an extreme makeover by any measure, and I’m mostly through the clutter part while just starting an organizing part. So far, I’m pleased. I do wish it would not have taken this long, but I only had one full day to work on it without interruption.

The big deal will be when I purge the files that are brimming with 10-yr-old documents, so that I can instead put my current documents there. That’s de-cluttering followed immediately by organizing. I think that will turn my tide somehow.

Getting there…

Progress on New Shawl Design

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

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Cozy Corner Teapot Sweater

After taking my shawl idea (which I discussed two posts ago) to the place where I thought it might work, I knit yet another swatch below right, pink). It was closer to the image in my imagination. It still needed some fine tuning.

You see, I often knit “stranded” patterning using two colors of yarn. This time, I am using yarn over holes to create patterning. Yarn overs create an extra stitch, which either is good (if you want to increase the size of your piece) or not (if you wish to maintain the shape it already has).

I have done this sort of knitting from time to time, often from other folks’ patterns. I used something like 7 rows of lace at the top of my Cozy Corner Teapot Sweater (see above), to create sturdy ruffles. This was an easy thing from a pattern-writing perspective.

Summer Squiggles, Sarah Ashley & HeidiMy most recent design, the Summer Squiggle Socks for the July Sock Club pattern at Rae’s Yarn boutique, uses a combination of yarn overs and slipped stitches, with a non-lacy look (see two sock club members, Sarah Ashley and Heidi, at left with their finished socks). However, there were 7 years of other designs between these two. It is not what I do most often!

This time, I have had a picture in my mind for over a year. I just can’t shake it. I’m finally willing to do some stretching and go for it.

The whole process is also complicated by the way I think “in the round.” I usually knit in tubes (socks, hats, wristwarmers, legwarmers, bags, bowls). This time, I’m knitting flat but shaped. I need the edges to look good. Edges, of course, were not clear in my dream.

zigshawlknitdraftEnter friendship. Friend Rae has been invaluable with checking over my lace charts/graphs, and helping me find where my “hiccups” were. She’s offered me her time, in a week without any to spare.

I also get personal support from other friends who knit. In particular, Cynthia and I pore over my swatches and debate if there is something which is not working well. She’s my regular Tuesday lunch/walk date, and I appreciate her company and time more than you can know.

SO: the current shawl is now on its 4th chart, its 6th draft, so to speak, its 9th cast on. (Drafts 4 & 5 on one set of needles with pink yarn, above right. It didn’t end up much like that in the end.)

It’s making me happy. Now I just need to “Knit like the wind…” as Brenda Dayne of the Cast On kniting podcast would say!

I am profoundly grateful for the people in my life. Thanks, Rae! (As for me, back to the knitting…)

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