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Archive for January, 2012

Error Making and Error Correcting

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Life is an error-making and an error-correcting process…

Jonas Salk, 1914-1995
American Medical Researcher, developed a polio vaccine

Vacation Knitting = Relaxed

I have been knitting in fits in starts, since 2005, a vest for which I did a gauge swatch. It’s a wonderful design… the Equilateral Vest by Lucy Neatby. I even tried on Lucy’s sample garment, so I knew the design looked great on me.

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about my gauge-of-the-hour? Where my stitches get more relaxed and then more firm without my notice, as I knit? Well, in August 2005, I knit this swatch.

My stitches started out at the right size. I started my vest on vacation. Um, I was sort of relaxed on vacation. Imagine that!

So as I knit (no longer on vacation), my gauge firmed up quite a lot. I finished the vest except for the edgings, several years after starting the project.

Reality Sets In

The vest was to come down to hip-bone level or so. Unfortunately, the final product looked more like a bolero than intended, ending several inches above the desired location. It’s not my style. Here’s a photo I took in 2009:

The colors in the vest are gorgeous, so I’m not giving up easily. There is NO way I will rip out and re-knit, especially since there is a good bit of sewing in it. I don’t mind sewing but it gets in the way of ripping.

Decision Made

I’ve figured out I’ll just keep knitting triangles and adding them to the bottom of the vest until it’s long enough for me. On top of that? I’ve pieced some triangles into the center front and made it a pullover vest rather than one with an open front.

I prefer a tunic length to a hip length anyway. Now I’m on a mission to make this as useful in my wardrobe as possible! Hip length is the goal.

It sure took me a long time to figure out what my error-correcting plan might be. Now that I’ve got it figured out, I’m driven to knit more triangles. Here it is this week:

Knitter Notes

The yarn is Noro Kujaku. It’s a slowly-color-changing wool yarn with a rainbow wrap of rayon throughout. Lovely… and discontinued.  I’m using 3 colorways (one  turquoise-based, one purple, one magenta).

If I use every inch, I may do OK. If not, I’ll go begging for other folks’ scraps. Sister-in-Love Diana has already given me a small coin purse made of yet a 4th colorway, which may be ripped out for spare yarn if needed. I’m going to make the edgings in a solid yarn to stretch things further.

I Wonder What This Means about Me?

For some reason, fudging and fiddling off-track items into submission really makes me happy. This is really fun, pushing to the end of the project. Other than the extra time it took to ponder a solution, I am really happy with it.

My mom is really great at seeing the potential in garments she buys at thrift shops. She changes collars, shortens dresses at the waist (rather than hem) at times, restyles, repairs and more. I guess I grew up knowing that fiddling with garments was not only useful but fun! (Thanks, Mom.)


Monday, January 16th, 2012

One of my favorite words is abundance. It implies plenty, in a wholesome way. Enough, not too much.

This week The Toss-it Tuesday premise worked its concept through every day for me. Unfortunately, as I decided to let go of things, the pile of discards by our back door became a mess of its own!

Today I gave away some jewelry to good friends. I sent a bag to charity. I piled my plastic recycling bin, and a few things which need delivering to various spots, in my car.

Maybe this week’s Toss-it will be the delivery day for those things. It seems that’s part of the process! Then I can go looking for more things to let go of.

Here’s a favorite quote on abundance:

If you are content with what you have, you are wealthy.

What is your plan for Toss-it Tuesday?

Toss-It Tuesdays

Monday, January 9th, 2012

I keep thinking of Dr. Suess’ “Oh, the places you’ll go!” I’ve had a bit of a technological adventure recently.

The Theme

A week ago I invited you to join me in four months of Toss-It Tuesdays. There are no rules, just a theme. There is no leader or teacher, just folks who work better with peers to cheer us.

Toss one pen or three boxes of old clothes or holiday decorations. Give to charity, recycle, give to a neighbor or toss in the trash.

If it had rules, it would limit our freedom to do the letting go. Letting go is the hard part.

(Photo is from April 2009, single, unmatched commercial socks I tossed. Oh, the pain!)

The Connection Challenge

I made the assumption that I could send private notes to those of you who said “I’m in!” in the comments. Unfortunately, since I changed my comment system to Disqus rather than the built in system for my blog, I no longer can see the email address you enter in. Disqus has it, but I don’t. Phooey.

While I’m looking into how to remove Disqus from my blog (without losing your precious comments), I came up with what I hope will work.

The Discussion Forum

I’ve set up a new web page/forum on a website called Ning. At this place we can start conversations, comment on other folks’ topics, add photos or videos. They offer fancy features, but I’ve tried to keep our forum really simple and low key.

I either need to add you to the system manually (which I’d do if I had your email address), or you can click an invitation link and set up an account for Ning.

Of course, signing on with Ning is not required to follow the idea itself. My plan is to touch base here on this blog once a week for everyone, even those not wanting one more place to visit online. You can follow along just by popping in here.

The Benefit of Community

But then again, wouldn’t it be great to chat with each other about what we’ve done, what we planned but did not do, what we hope to tackle before the end of April? If you think it would be good for you, please join me by signing up. The invitation link is here:


The Artfulness

Making choices about how we will live is a creative act, or series of acts. Let’s see how much unneeded/ unwanted stuff we can let go of together, before spring hits!

Create Now, Imperfectly

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

I enjoy reading Michael Nobbs’ blog, Sustainably Creative. Michael is in Wales. We both love tea and both call ourselves artists. We both share the opinion that there is more art and creativity in many people than they are able to acknowledge.

His fabulous low-key drawings of ordinary objects like teapots cheer me.  He also does mini-podcasts (just a few minutes) on weekdays, which I enjoy.

Michael posted a link today to an archived blog post which I love. It’s called .

He writes:

Don’t wait for someone to tell you you’re creative so that you have permission to explore your creative side. Just do something creative.

Creativity, of course, does not merely include putting marks on paper or canvas. Creativity can be so many things… including singing aloud, poorly, in a car (his example, my words). Or try putting a new herb or spice in your food… dill on eggs, basil in potatoes, ginger in oatmeal. A change like that is definitely a small but creative act.

I highly recommend the column. Go ahead, . I think you’ll be inspired.

(No, Michael had no idea I would write this post. I get no benefit from it other than the joy of sharing what a like-minded soul has written.)


Sunday, January 8th, 2012

I found a new product at a grocery one day in the produce section. It sounded promising, a lemonade which said no high-fructose corn syrup. Here is the marketing blurb I read on the back label:

“…Classic Lemonade is made the traditional way with pure lemon juice, water and sugar. Our delicious and refreshing lemonade is all-natural and does not contain any high fructose corn syrup or preservatives…”

Now, read the ingredient list:

“INGREDIENTS: Filtered Water, Sugar Clarified Lemon Juice Concentrate, Gum Arabic, Natural Flavors and Citric Acid.”

I was so disappointed! This is not the “Traditional Way,” do you agree? I would propose that Lemon Juice already contains natural flavors and citric acid.

Gum Arabic comes from the sap of an African tree. It makes the drink thicker and keeps the sugar from settling out.

For those of us who have food restrictions, “Natural Flavors” can be a real problem. Manufacturers don’t have to say what specific flavor it is. Some are derived from corn, yeast and other natural but trouble-causing natural ingredients.

Tricky Wording: Buyer Beware
It’s common these days to label foods “pure” or “natural.” These words do not really mean quality.

Pure olive oil is a specific classification several steps below extra virgin, and it’s not desirable when one wants more flavor. As for natural, arsenic and cyanide are natural and not healthy at all!

I’m sad that whoever wrote that marketing blurb found it acceptable. I’m sad that most people would not read the ingredient list after being told it was made “the traditional way with pure lemon juice, water and sugar.”

I remember when Mott’s Natural Applesauce added Vitamin C. It seemed rather unnatural to find Vitamin C in an apple product, to me.

This is another example of using “natural” as a random marketing word. They might better have said “unsweetened.”

  • Have you found this sort of conflict on any food package?
  • Do you regularly read labels?
  • If so, when did you start? (My Mom taught me in elementary school.)

Self-Care in January

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Paint as you like and die happy.
— Henry Miller

Every year in January and February, I crave spring and knit in green. This is super-soft baby alpaca. I’ve had it in my stash for a while and now it’s going to become wristwarmers for a special someone.


I do believe that January is “knitting for yourself” or “selfish knitting” month. After the holidays, we can knit at a leisurely pace and knit for ourselves.

We knitters tend to push too hard during the holidays, knitting for others and putting our own projects aside. Often knitting deadlines create sleep deprivation and stress, even when the giftee is beloved to us. After the gifting is over, it’s time to relax a bit.

In this case, if I’m knitting super soft yarn in the color I need, I think I’m knitting for myself. To be honest, I’ve also knit a bit on a couple of other projects for me already this year- my Lucy Neatby Equilateral Vest and a Maxi Zigbag. Nothing is going to be finished quickly if it’s for me, but I continue to plug away.

What about You?

Are you making time for yourself this month? One friend called me yesterday to say she was going to luxuriate in a bubble bath rather than taking a quick shower. In my case, just pulling out my bin of unfinished-but-not-forgotten knits for myself was an act of self-care.

Do you crave specific things this time of year? Do you take time for yourself? What would be a good result of your creative time in this dark time of year?

Toss-It Tuesdays. Join me?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

I am not one for resolutions. However, I’ve found that stating action plans out loud and sharing them helps me achieve those plans.

I find that this time of year I stay in a lot, and I tend to notice things that are in my way. It’s easier to let go of things when I feel overpowered by too much stuff every day. In the summer, I’m on the porch or out in the world. In winter, I might as well free up my clutter. Right?

Peers for Tossing?

Are you feeling the same need? To just let go of a few things? Some days I will literally only toss a ballpoint pen which doesn’t write anymore. Other days I get out a box from the attic or basement and go through it, tossing most of the contents and saving the precious items which were buried within.

This has little to do with my normal ColorJoy topics… it’s not knitting or singing or dancing or even baking. However, if artful living includes many expressions, why not call refining our living spaces an artful endeavor as well?

In order to help my own focus, I’m inviting you to join me. I’m going to put together a group correspondence process (probably an email list where we can send each other messages of our progress, or asking for support).

What’s the Plan?

My plan right now is to focus every Tuesday through the end of April, tossing at least one thing out of my living space. I’d appreciate some companionship in this goal.

For the record, tossing does not require filling a landfill. If I have clothing I know Anna will want, I’ll give it to her. If I have other things charity can use, I can share that way.

However, I know that sometimes the hardest part of letting go is getting something out of the house once it’s designated for exit. I can’t decide that I should divide things between 4 charities. I’ll choose one and all the charity stuff will need to go to that one place. And yes: some things will, indeed, be trashed.

Come on in, the Water’s Fine!

Will you join me? Please pop in and comment (you can be a guest, but do enter your email address please). I’ll set something up and we can have 4 months of Toss-it Tuesdays. OK?

(Image: A block print I did many years ago, using erasers as soft print blocks.)

Cozy New Year!

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

It’s chilly and quiet after the holidays here at Casa de ColorJoy. This is good for my work, as knitting and baking both fit well. I’m knitting a deadline at present, but I thought I’d show you this year’s bulky slipper footies.

I used an afterthought heel structure with stripes. I love the bulls eye look afterthought heels give.

Once more, I had a little bit of purple yarn and a little of Turquoise… not enough for a full pair. It ended up more fun that way! I embroidered the fronts of the socks, too.

Every year I make one pair of these for myself. I wear them in the house, over my handknit socks made of finer yarns. These will wear thin as the winter ends, but that will keep my wear-them-in-public socks in good shape.

Wishing you abundance, contentment and community today and all year long. I appreciate you.

(Sock details for knitters: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky in Aztec Turquoise and Amethyst, toe from my First-Time Toe-Up Socks pattern. Crystal Heel (afterthought with a unique shape) based on the class I taught at Sock Summit this past August. Socks I’ve designed with this basic shape include Hot Waves from the book Joy of Socks, and Summer Striped Socklet. (Link to book is to Schuler Books, a fine Michigan retailer which has treated me well but which does not pay me.)