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Archive for March, 2012

Riches in My Own “Back” Yard

Saturday, March 24th, 2012


Sweet Violets

If you are content with what you have, you are wealthy.
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The violets are even more amazing after a week of summer-like weather. Actually today it rained but this I took the day before. Wowie.

Brian took a long bicycle ride one day this week. He said that although the back roads in the country were beautiful, it was pretty hard to beat what we have right here.

Yes, we are rich.

Toss it Tuesday & Daddy’s Daffodil

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I am glad I set a theme for tossing on Tuesdays when the weather was nasty outside. In Lansing we’re working on a week of gorgeous. It’s hard to want to do anything routine here right now.

I guess I started a littleMonday, too. When I decide to let go of something, it doesn’t always go in the trash or the recycling bin. Those things sit next to the back door until I take them out to their proper new homes. I had quite a pile back there not long ago.

Last week I took a shoe and a bike bag to the shoe repair to get them fixed. They are now repaired and no longer by the back door. We had a huge box which was so stiff it was hard to fold and fit into the recycle bin, so I put it in my car. Monday when I was near MSU’s recycling center I put the box in the large recycling trailer there. Monday I also took our expired compact fluorescent bulbs to the food Co-Op where they will get them to the proper place.

The pile by my back door is much better than it was last week Tuesday. I still need to sit in that office and toss more papers.

If you’d like to join the Facebook group for Toss-it Tuesdays, you can click here. You need to be logged into Facebook to see it. (That’s life in the “free services” realm.) You can also share in the comments below, if FaceBook isn’t your thing.

Meanwhile?

It’s still gorgeous outside… summer-hot sunny weather. I’m in heaven.

Daddy’s Daffodils

The flower above? My father planted dozens of bulbs at least 40 years ago. He died in June of 1973.

The fragile bulbs he planted are long expired. The big, red tulips faded many years later. The standard, heavy-duty, determined all-yellow daffodils? Still going strong in more than one spot. I took this photo in the dark, with my car’s running lights for illumination.

The first daffodils are always a big deal for me. This year they are early. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Where’s My Worm?

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

God gives every bird his worm, but he does not throw it into the nest.
— Swedish proverb

Aaah, yes. Being an adult means a lot of footwork, a lot of  “do the next thing.” Sometimes I just want to sit down and knit for myself. Usually there is something else I need to do first.

I’ve been working on taxes this week. I’ve got a few friends who need a bit of extra support right now, as well. It just “is.” In general, the only complaint I can really own is a bit less alone time and a little less sleep. With all the people around me on my team, actively supporting me and cheering me on, this is the best life ever!

On busy weeks like this, my mantra is often “It doesn’t matter what I want.” Just suck it up and get it done.  I’ve done well with staying at work. I’ve had too many priorities, but I’ve been staying on work stuff anyway.

Every bird his worm. OK. Do my part…

Digression of Love

By the way, a dear friend lost a dear family member recently. He was 41. I lost a music friend this week, he still had a young teenager at home. Don’t forget how important it is to let your loved ones know of your love. Every day is a precious gift, bursting with opportunity. Let relationship be part of how you fill that day.

And then, there is Knitting

Knitting? Not much. I am alternating between a few smallish projects that fit in my purse, for when I’m waiting at a restaurant or at the post office.

In knitting-related news, I did accomplish my first two knitting instruction videos this weekend, and uploaded to my YouTube channel. They cover the first few steps of knitting  my Crystal socklet from Knitty (the Bosnian toe). I’m pleased with the sound and the instructions.

If you are interested in joining the knit along (KAL), you can go to my Ravelry discussion group (Ravelry is free and they respect your privacy). Here is the link to the group. We are walking through it together there. It’s fun to see all the different choices for color!

Food? Yes, Food

For my food-interested readers, I have been experimenting a lot lately. I made a two-crust fruit pie which had a tasty filling. However, the crust needs tweaking. Brian likes two-crust fruit pies. He won’t mind a second go of it, I think.

I also am experimenting with granola. I am unable to eat nuts, but can have seeds. I can’t have dried fruit or cinnamon. This makes store-purchased granola impossible.

The granola version I tried today had oats, sunflower seeds, pepitas/ no-shell pumpkin seeds, and tahini (sesame butter rather than almond or peanut butter). It’s sweetened with maple syrup and spiced with allspice and nutmeg. It’s tasty but it doesn’t clump up like a honey-based granola. When I get it working better, I’ll post a recipe here.

Back to work… remember, look for the good. There’s always something to be grateful for, someone to appreciate, something that can make you smile. Look and you can find it. Yeah!

Grateful today, myself, for a lunch with four friends where we laughed so hard we forgot we were in a restaurant. Oh, yes. That is a treasure which can not be purchased.

Straight to Happy

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

LynnH wearing Colorama Shawl, singing at East Lansing Arts Festival 2011

Derek Sivers was the founder of CDBaby, an online music outlet for independent/indie musicians.  He has since sold the business and written a book, and is generally a fascinating and intelligent writer. I just read an interview of Mr. Sivers. In it he says:

The purpose of money is to trade for things that make you happy. So if you can bypass money and get directly to the happy, you’ve saved a lot of trouble.

Love that. Happy I’ve got these days. I wish the same for you.

(Yes, he is assuming that basic needs are taken care of… food, shelter, clothing. Just the same, I once bought things to make me feel better. Now that I’m happier, I have relatively few impulses to pursue “retail therapy” these days.)

Photo: Me wearing a Colorama Crescent shawl… designed by me, knit by Diana Troldahl/Otterwise (a designer in her own right). I was playing on stage at East Lansing Arts Festival, with Brian. It was a good day, speaking of “directly to the happy.”

Violet and Green St. Pat’s Yard

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Oh, I love my violets so! They grow in our small slice of a side yard. We have a small microclimate there, where the snow thaws faster than in any other yard on the street. The violets get more beautiful every year.

We have not had a full week without one flower or another peeking out this year. It’s been very warm. Our typical winters for the last 20 years or so have been a cycle of snow, melt, snow, melt, snow. Last year it felt as if it would never melt- it was mean. This year has been gentle and pleasant for the most part.

This week we are on our 4th day in a row of open-the-door weather. During the day, I turn the furnace off and open the windows. I have been able to wear my African clothes as I love to do in the summer. I’ve been working on the hammock on the porch (never take the miracle of laptops and wireless internet for granted).

Welcome Color

But back to the violets. I’m told that they are weeds. I’m warned that they are “invasive.”

This is a corner lot, it’s not as though a neighbor is getting invaded. As for me, let the lawn-chemical-spraying trucks stay far away! If I have a full yard of myrtle/periwinkle and violets, it’s more beautiful and less work. I’m all for it!

Brian and I (The Fabulous Heftones) sing a lot of songs about flowers and springtime. If you’d like to be serenaded today, you can
listen to “April Showers” by clicking here.

Though April showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that come in May (March?).
So if it’s raining, have no regrets,
Because it isn’t raining rain, you know, it’s raining violets.

And when you see clouds upon the hills,
You really see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a bluebird,  and listening for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.

I hope my photo brings you some ColorJoy, no matter what the weather is in your corner of the world.

Join Crystal Knit a Long/KAL?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

If anyone would like to join a knit along (KAL) for my Knitty design Crystal Socklet, I’m starting one today. You can find my hints and other folks knitting the same design, on my ColorJoy discussion group on the wonderful knitting site Ravelry.

Just click that link above to go to the discussion group page.The discussion for casting on and knitting the toe rectangle  is already there. My hope is to make a video happen tomorrow to teach how to get going in the round from that toe rectangle. Send good vibes… I’ve never done a video but this seems the perfect place for me to start.

If you are not a Ravelry member, it’s a free service and really worthwhile. You can do as much or as little as you want there, you can only do my KAL and nothing more. They have high integrity and don’t share your information. It’s an excellent organization, four cool people running a wonderful community.

Join me?

Soar with Confidence

Monday, March 12th, 2012

The young artist of today need no longer say “I am a painter,” or “a poet,” or “a dancer.” He is simply an “artist.” All of life will be open to him.
— Allan Kaprow

Image: a digital collage I created in 2000, from 3 scanned photos I took myself.

My Crystal Heel Sock on KNITTY!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Exuberance is my middle name, so forgive my excitement. My socklet design, Crystal, is now live on Knitty.com!!!

Crystal Socklet by LynnH, from Knitty.com March 2012

Knitty is a fine, top-notch leader in the knitting world. I’m elated, to say the least, that my design was chosen for publication.

Crystal Heels

At Sock Summit this August, in Portland, Oregon, I taught 3 sessions of something I call my Crystal Heel. It is my take on the centuries-old afterthought heel.

ACrystal Heel from Knitty, by Lynn DT Hershbergern afterthought heel is knit after the rest of a sock is completed. Typically one knits a tube with an opening on one end and a toe at the other. Then one goes back and puts a heel where it belongs. This requires an opening for that heel, which can be done several different ways.

I use what I feel is simplest, which is to use a half-round of waste yarn to mark the spot as I knit. One can then insert the needles into proper stitches before pulling out the waste yarn (to knit the heel), and no stitches get lost in the process.Picking Out Waste Yarn Stitches by LynnH

Common Afterthought Objections

A typical approach to the afterthought heel is that it should be made the same shape and size as a toe. Many knitters complain that the afterthought does not fit well. I agree that typical ones do, but there is room for adjustment.

Some knitters, including the magnificent Lucy Neatby, adjust by making their afterthought heels on 60% of the stitches in the circumference in the sock. Summer Striped Socklet Heel by LynnH, YarnHollow Squish YarnTraditionally many types of heels (including afterthoughts) are worked on 50% of the stitches, only.

I propose that they fit much better if made longer, and not pointy. After all, heels are more square than triangular. One pattern I wrote while exploring the longer, shaped heel, is my Summer Striped Socklet, pictured here.

Turkish Inspiration

Some Turkish socks have afterthought heels, and even those differ depending on the knitter and the traditions of different parts of that country. I have not seen any Turkish socks worked on a number more than 50% of the stitches.

However, there is a type of Turkish afterthought which does not decrease right away. It knits as a tube, to the length of the knitter’s first thumb joint. Then it is decreased evenly, often every round. It ends up looking the shape of a stereotypical house.

The effect of this is to add depth to the heel, and make up for the lack of the gusset (triangular wiggle space) on the sides of a more modern sock. This inspired me to think about other shapes for afterthought heels.

Shape of Crystal HeelWhy Afterthoughts?

I love afterthought heels. I like how they fit on me, as if they have a shaped arch. I like how they look. I enjoy knitting them, and they have the benefit of being easily replaceable if you tend to wear out heels.

Afterthoughts are particularly wonderful with self-striping yarns or other types of stripes. I used an early version of the Crystal Heel in my Hot Waves design (in the Lark book, Joy of Sox/ Joy of Socks). Here you see what a nice design element they can make.

My Crystal Heel

I call this a Crystal heel because it has facets, when

graphed out on paper. In real life, the facets smooth out into a human-heel-shaped sock heel. It looks rather odd off the foot, but it fits well.

It’s a more sophisticated take on the Turkish Thumb-Joint heel. It fits great. I really don’t like knitting heel flap/gusset heels, and figure that a short row heel looks like a store-bought one, which has never interested me. This is currently my favorite.

Cast On?

The yarn for the Knitty socks is “Squish,” a wonderful hand-dyed sockyarn by Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow. (I used the same yarn for the Summer Striped Socklet above, as well.) Rita and I planned for you before this issue went live.

Crystal Socklet from Knitty from Lynn DT Hershberger

The socks need 3 colors of yarn (dark, medium, light) just to make 2 relatively small socklets. Buying three full skeins of handpainted yarn to make short socks would be a pretty pricey way to go.

Rita has put up three different kits in colorways to knit this sock (including the two colorways shown in the photo). There is enough yarn to knit any of the sizes. She has priced it at a wonderful $20 for the kit, wow to that. Sound good? You can buy a kit on the YarnHollow Etsy page, here.

Knit Along?

So few knitters have made afterthought heels, that I think a knit along would be in order. If you’d be so kind as to sign up for my Knitting email list, I’ll send out details as I work them out. I expect I’ll make it a Ravelry discussion group.

Now, if only spring would actually come along. We have had violets and myrtle blooming in our side yard all winter (even in Mid-Michigan snow) but I’d rather it be truly warm. One day at a time.

Meanwhile, we can knit spring into existence together, by knitting springlike Crystal Socklets. Join me?

Huge heartfelt thanks to my team. They helped me get this project from idea to production, and somehow we kept it quiet.

Thanks to Amy Singer and Kate Atherly of Knitty, Rachel Meyers for the Crystal photos on the Knitty site and above, Diana Troldahl of Otterwise Designs for expert tech knitting/test knitting, Brenda White for initial submission photos, Rita Petteys of Yarn Hollow for everything, Rae Blackledge of Rae’s Yarn Boutique/ Extravayarnza for knitting wisdom, and my brother Eric Troldahl for understanding the indy knitting biz as a whole and computers in specific… and giving truly sage advice even though he’s not a knitter.

Emotional Generosity

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Two items came to my awareness this morning within a few hours (via Twitter). They echo each other in my mind. They glow about generosity, and how that impacts our lives.

Opening the Heart to Strangers

I think it’s maybe easier to be financially generous, assuming we have funds to do so… than to be emotionally generous. Opening our hearts is vulnerable in a world that seems bent on broadcasting only the bad stuff. Yet it is the most rewarding move we can make in our lives… for ourselves first, though the generosity helps others as well.

Dealing with “Beggars” Has Changed

In the last 6-12 months in Lansing, there has been an increase in folks who stand at a street corner with a hand-lettered sign on cardboard. They ask for help… usually looking for work, but often with “anything will help” added.

It’s hard to dismiss these people with the label “Beggar.” They look like someone you might know at the bowling alley or coffee shop.

I know that I’m not the only person who goes around often with a wallet which is rather low on cash. I also know that I’m not the only person afraid that donations to strangers might turn into alcohol or recreation of one sort or another, rather than food. I’m big on helping, though.

Boston, Toronto, Chicago… My Experiences

When I’ve traveled in big cities I’ve found myself walking a sidewalk with leftovers from a restaurant meal, and being asked for money. It’s easy then, to offer my food. I’ve been asked for money in Flint, Boston, Lansing, and other places. I’ve felt really good to give food when I’ve had it.

In Lansing, I’ve given organic strawberries to a street-corner guy, once a chocolate bar, once some pumpkin seeds, once some tortilla chips. This week for the first time I’ve considered actually keeping something in the car I can give out, though I don’t know how to be sure it stays good in odd weather.

In a big city, I feel street performers–no matter how feeble–deserve at least a quarter as I walk by, just for putting themselves out there and doing the work. I also believe it’s good to give food to someone who says anything would be a help, no matter where I might be. (Lansing is such a commuter city that there are very few street performers… except for our one and only Guitar Man.)

After all, one can be hungry even when one has a home. And even someone fighting an addiction can benefit from food. (I’ve had my own weak points along the way, myself… no time for judging though I don’t want to support anyone’s habit.)

Generosity Day

So this morning I first read an article by Sasha Dichter of Acumen Fund, talking about his “Generosity Experiment” and what came out of it… “Generosity Day.” Generosity Day is being heralded by many as a replacement for Valentine’s Day, and I love the idea.

Mr. Dichter writes about folks who participated. One story is that someone gave a rose to an older woman who was a stranger. She said that was the first flower she had ever received on a Valentines Day.

There are more examples and touching stories if you choose to read further. Here is the article:

How Many Ways Can We Be Generous in a Single Day?

He also gave a talk which is a video available on the TED Talk site. It’s not all of 20 minutes, and thought-provokingly worthwhile. View it here:

The Generosity Experiment

Mr. Happy Man

Johnny Barnes is 88 years old. He spends 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, greeting commuters. He wishes them a good day and tells them that he loves them. He blows kisses, and is genuinely sincere about it. I LOVE THIS GUY.

Mr. Barnes lives on Bermuda, a small island with fewer than 65,000 residents. (My medium-sized Capital city has 114,000 residents within the city limits.) On this small island, Mr. Barnes is known by all. If he misses a day, people flood the radio station with questions as to his well being.

Luckily, there is now a short documentary about him now. This allows his message to travel further than his small island. I love the interviews with passers-by who explain how Mr. Barnes has impacted their own lives.

This man is authentically happy to spread brotherly love. It’s worth the 10 minutes to watch the video. I’m glad I did.

Mr. Happy Man video on Vimeo

Consciously Looking for the Good News

The news is bent on giving us bad stuff these days. Even though the world is safer now than it has been in decades, and keeps getting safer, we can’t see it. Parents are afraid for their kids “these days” and we are closing our hearts to folks we don’t know yet.

No amount of protection can save us from being human. We will hurt sometimes, we will have bad things happen. We will not live forever, no matter how careful we are.

However, the good in humankind is still there if we don’t shut it out of ourselves. Go ahead, read and watch these pieces. See if your heart warms as mine did. I wish this for you.

Hugs. Yes, I do love you, too. I wouldn’t take the time to write this if I didn’t.

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9+ Years of Blogging

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Toronto Star GraffitiWordPress just told me that I have published 3,130 posts since November 28, 2002. Imagine that!

My last blogiversary went past so quickly that I didn’t write about it then. It happens to also be my birthday, and it falls around the US Thanksgiving holiday every year. There is so much distraction then that I don’t always comment on it.

Today I’m thinking about some of my favorite posts. I’m on deadline, which is no fun, but I’m on a roll with it which is divine. Meanwhile, here are some favorites of mine.

Happy reading, and thanks for coming along for this fine ride with me!

How to be an Artist. Really.

Rescuing Ourselves

Ric Elias: 3 things I learned while my plane crashed

An Encouraging Note from a Stranger

Coco Chanel on Life and Art

Blessed Unrest / Divine Dissatisfaction

Water The Stick… Some things Take Time

(I took this photo in Toronto’s Kensington Market area last year. I love this sort of well-crafted Graffiti. Love.)