Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays!

FINALLY!!! School is out (a day early due to the "big storm") and I am focusing on getting ready for the holiday. There are only three projects on my needles for others, and not due until the new year. I have baked nine types of cookies with about 3 more recipes to finish tomorrow and a ginger crusted lingonberry cheesecake for the family party. Most of the gifts are wrapped...which means, yes, I did manage to finish my shopping.

I finished an angora blend lace hat and scarf, both patterns from the Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders book. If you get a chance, there are some great patterns to go with that pricey skein that you couldn't live without. But please, go to the website to double check for pattern corrections. I learned the hard way, and there are many corrections posted. They must have been in a hurry to get this out for the holiday knitting crowd!

If you are reading this, wow. I have been having a hard enough time checking up on my email let alone write on the blog. It is not that there are not things happening, quite the contrary. So much is happening that I can't get around to sitting at the computer.

Just the other morning, I remembered to send my registration for the Black Sheep Knitting Guild retreat. As I drove into work, I realized that I never put the check in the envelope! Lucky for a cell phone and wonderful husband, it was remedied before I even began my work day. The retreat is a big deal. I have been weeding things out of my busy schedule this year, but the retreat is NOT one of them. A chance to bond with my friends and immerse myself in fiber for the whole weekend is just too wonderful to pass up.

I hope that you all have terrific holiday celebrations and enjoy friends and family and even a bit of rest and relaxation. Even if it takes a blizzard to force the issue, a little down time and the holiday spirit surely are the best way to end the old year and ring in the new.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Come one come all! Saturday Art Sale!

Please join us in the studio for Jim & Linda Lutomski's Holiday Art Sale
Clay work, Jewelry, Fibers & Photography
Studio Open House Saturday December 13, 2008
The Art Annex @ Marygrove College (313) 927-1337
Cash and Checks only please….

Not sure where the art annex is? Ask security at the gate when you arrive at Marygrove.

*For directions to Marygrove College LOOK HERE! (Paste into your browser if it does not connect)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ho Ho Holidays

Pass the eggnog, please! My daughter was married last week, my first born. She looked lovely and they are so happy. Whew!

Next, general holiday craziness, you know. I got through the turkey and am onto the shopping, cleaning and massive knitting and jewelry making. Each year I have requests from co-workers for items and do a holiday sale with my artist husband at his studio at Marygrove College on December 13. In order to be ready for this, he is making pottery like crazy, and I am framing up some of my photos from my travels along with my sculptural pieces. Email me if you would like more info, come by and say "Hi"!

So when I say crazy holidays, I mean it. As you know, I love the adventure and excitement and general busy atmosphere. I am, however, planning for some down time between the holidays to recover and rejuvenate. That is when I spin for my pleasure and knit for myself (and write report cards and organize the after holiday mess.....).

Enjoy your own chaos this holiday season, it is part of the deal and makes it feel just a little different than the usual routine. Ho Ho Ho

Friday, November 14, 2008

Calm for the Holidays

This seems like a contradiction, calm and holiday in the same phrase. For some reason I am finding peace in everyone else's manic momentum, making mine seem pretty reasonable. I have had a couple of brainstorm ideas for presents that may or may not occur, but I am OK with that. I have not even been to yoga in a while, since my neck fiasco, but am going to look into it, when I feel like it. Evening walks and a glass of wine might have been responsible, but the little bits of chaos that I was NOT enjoying, appear to be ironing themselves out.

I am working on the thrummed mittens from the Yarn Harlot's site, quite enjoyable and I think that they will be appreciated by the recipients when the cold Michigan winter comes blowing in. I might even make myself some. I have so much hand spun yarn that I "sampled" and this will be a great way to use it (not to mention the roving that had not gotten spun and looked better as roving anyway...perfect thrums).

It is Friday and I am in a great mood. I had my massage yesterday that took the painful kinks out of my neck and back (just in time to kink them up with major knitting this weekend, oh well). Tomorrow is the Shop Hop and I am excited to be rambling around in the fiber shops for the day and lunching with friends. And the great news for Sunday is that I mistakenly wrote a birthday party date on this week when it is actually next week. This gives me, dare I even write it, a day with NO specific plans!!!!!! This could be a first. I have to resist the temptation to call people and check local events. My husband knows not to plan anything either. We are going to have a relaxing cottage day minus the drive. Maybe I won't answer the phone, maybe I will stay in my pajamas all day (Please don't come over to check). Maybe we will go to the movie theater. Oh the possibilities!

My glee at the thought of the plan-less day has taught me something. Maybe a little down time and a bit of saying, "No, sorry I can't" can be a good thing. I am sure that I am a better helper, listener and participant when I am in this zen kind of mood, that is truly a good thing. For everyone.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

KNITTA makes the NY Times!

I have long admired the Knitta folks, making a public statement in such a beautiful and fun way...and am still waiting to see who starts this excitement in our neck of the woods.....

This article includes many great photos of the subversive knitting behavior, I think you will love it, maybe you are even responsible???

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chasing my tail

I was feverously knitting away at my holiday necessities when I heard the ruckus. It was my sweet and very small, cat, Tomasina. She suddenly decided to run manically around the dining room, batting imaginary mice and hiding behind the dividing wall. I never know what winds her up, maybe she is so happy that I am back home from school? She loved me being home with the back problem, more time for her personal attention.

I think that I can understand her manic bursts of energy at times when I feel the pull from all directions. I go into overdrive, creating, organizing, making plans and filling each day. Until... I drop. She does the same. The mania ceases and I find her laying as if she had been sleeping for hours.

It is not always the best way to accomplish things, in a manic rush, but the energy does breed more energy. I have been told that pacing oneself is the key to productivity. For me, chasing my tail is not as fruitless as it might sound. It paces me (a fast pace) and creates ideas and energy. I finished the Grasshopper Scarf, a domino scarf and prepared (and delivered) work for a sale at a local art center. This weekend I can crash (I only planned to bring a few projects to the cottage). For me, the fits and starts are a way of life and my tail seems to direct me to chase it into plenty of new directions.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2 Good 2B True Scarf Pattern

Okay, here it is! It is 2 Good 2B True, since it is a combination of 2 skeins, 2 stitches, 2 rows each. Easy to remember and continue, then easy to alter if you choose! Happy Holiday knitting, I hope you discover some great new color combinations along the way.

I used 2 skeins of Noro Kureyon in contrasting colors and the recommended size 8 needles. If the colors are too similar, you won't notice the new color combinations. Using the same yarn color, but starting at different points in the color change will create a more subtle striped shading. Have fun with this! Use what you have in your stash.

Ribs and Garters Pattern stitch:

Rows 1 & 2: Knit

Rows 3 & 4: Knit one, purl one


Cast on 26 (or any even number for varied widths) for approximately 5.5" width scarf, 48" long unblocked using the 2 skeins. Add another skein, or make it narrower for additional length.

Using color 1, Knit rows 1 & 2

Using color 2, (K1, P1) rows 3 & 4

Carry your yarn up the side as you progress until you are out of yarn, or length desired.

Note: If you choose to add more of the rows 3 & 4 in the mix, it will draw in as ribbing often does, one additional repeat for variety is ok.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pain in the Back, just give me my needles!

I really did it now. A simple activity that gave me a little pain in the back, that became a cold with coughing and a bigger pain in the back, and ultimately a trip to urgent care for the biggest pain in the back...the one that kept me literally UP all night, since I could hardly lay down.

You all know what this means. No knitting. It hurts even to say it. I could not look down, not that I need to look to knit. I could not hold my arms at the right height, but managed some props.

The good news, physical therapy started today and I can knit again. A little. I did not ask how little was a little. I feel that it is relative. If I normally knit 4 hours in a day, maybe a little is 2? If it is a weekend and I can knit for 6-8 hours intermittently, does that mean 4 or so? I will let my back tell me.

So onto some holiday knitting with lovely yarns in simple stitches. This one is two colors of Silk Mountain by Noro. It takes less looking down, but offers plenty of tactile enjoyment. The simple scarf is a great way to swatch color, guage and combinations without commiting to a sweater. Plus, it will keep me from dying of boredom or eating until it is time to go to bed!

I made up a little scarf pattern to go with two orphan balls of Noro that had little in common. I like it! I am thinking of a name for this one, and will add it to Tractor Tracks soon. I am thinking in terms of "2 Good 2B True" since 2 is the key number in this piece. Let me know how you like that name. Here is the picture:

The idea has been brewing a bit for this scarf and color concept. I like the idea of the yarn's color changes, but want to play with it. Seeing the new combinations of colors side by side and in different stitches is an exciting way to get new ideas. The simple pattern is coming together and will be up here or on Ravelry soon....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Am I Addicted?

Does it mean that you have an addiction and all of your friends know it if...

this is a true story.

I was teaching class and my cell phone began to ring. I don't usually keep it on, it was purely by accident that it was on at all. Luckily, my class had just left, so I answered it. It was a friend of mine calling from Ashville, NC to say that she was in a handcrafted store that sold local yarn and she wanted to know what she should buy for me. Does this mean that I have a problem, or really great friends. I choose the latter.

Much more inspiration than time

Does this sound familiar? I was just at the Black Sheep meeting where I finished my Suess-like scarf. This was a good thing, since I saw two sweaters and a scarf at the meeting that I was ready to start as soon as I saw them.

The scarf is a free pattern on the Smoking Hot Needles blog, called Grasshopper. What a great use of pattern! I started it that night of the meeting in an alpaca blend that I dyed a year or so ago. The pattern repeats in a sensible way that is visually easy to catch up on if you end mid repeat. I love that.

The sweaters will have to wait, since the holidays are approaching and I always take a break from my personal luxury knitting in exchange for gift knitting.

Another friend is keeping me posted on the beautiful ways to display yarn, particularly one of our favorite sock yarns, Woolmeise. It is a clear shoe holder that hangs on a door. Two skeins fit in each pocket and are so inspiring that I would be knitting it fast enough to feel justified in replacing the skeins with new yarn on a pretty regular basis.

This inspired me to work on the "wall of yarn" and other methods of stash that I have going. Something that I need to do very badly, since the stash far exceeds the space available in my fiber room.

UFO's. You bet. I am not usually one to stop mid project, but I confess that I have a couple of things that need finishing. One is the wrap sweater that I started and realized that a new version of the pattern exsists that makes much more sense. Unfortunately, I am 3/4 of the way done with the current version. Basically this will be a reknit.

The shawl that I pictured a posting or so ago is nearly done. It is only shelved because it is an easy knit that I can do traveling in the car. We are going to the cottage soon, so that will be my companion project. Excuses, excuses. But I really mean it. I WILL finish these things, soon.

Did I say that the inspiration has been a good thing? It has! There is nothing better than knowing that the next project is right around the bend, and at the same time enjoying the journey that the current project provides.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back to Hollander's

I am packing for a weekend of bookmaking and printmaking at Hollander's in Ann Arbor. You make recall my experimentation with cultural doll making. That workshop was a bit more "dollish" than I would have liked, but I am intriqued by the use of the figure in history and culture to be expressive. This workshop is my attempt to get a little closer to the printmaking and image use that is my history.

It all came about when I met Jennie on my trip to Korea. She is an art teacher and does printmaking. So it was natural that the conversations turned to our own personal work and how we are progressing. I was excited to see that the class was not full when we returned from the trip, so I registered immediately.

The packing, well, as always, not so much fun. However, I am keeping an open mind and only bringing the essentials for my class. I am hoping that this workshop is the shot in the arm that I need to move forward in this media.

Always in the back of my mind, I wonder, "how can I use these techniques, colors, textures or images to enhance my other fiber work?" This is no exception. Hopefully, some of the concepts will be useful in my classroom, too. It does seem strange to be packing rulers, squares, exactos and glue sticks. The gloves are pretty normal, since I do a bit of dyeing. The rest are like old friends and I am hoping that they have not forgotten me! Mixing the right and left brain in a new project is exciting even though it takes a little warming up.

The weather is cooperating, my Suess-like scarf is nearly done and I am off to my next adventure!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back to the flock!

It is Tuesday. On my calendar, Tuesday is a wonderful means that the Black Sheep Knitting Guild will be knitting and chatting at the Coffee Beanery. It also means that no matter what my day was like, I have friends and knitting available. Like another family, who all happen to speak the same language and share the same passion, they are there. They are there with their new yarn, new projects, old yarn and new projects and old projects with new enthusiasm.

It is nice to belong. The actual meeting is next week and I am looking forward to the annoucements and will have my calendar ready for all that is in store. These casual meetings bring in quite a crowd, and provide for much more talking and knitting time than the formal meeting could allow.

One problem. I am working really hard at cleaning my fiber room and organizing stash. This is the "neatening the nest" time when I find places and projects for existing fiber and try really hard not to accumulate more. I am already failing at that. Last week I bought yarn to make the Noro sweater that I wore tonight (pictured just before finishing in the previous entry). I also bought some Knit One Crochet Too Ty-dye yarn to make the Suess-like curly scarf that I worked on at the Bean. I also was fortunate to have won 8 skeins of Jo Sharp wool/silk in a lovely Bamboo Shoot color of green...enough for a sweater at the Knitting Room in Birmingham during their yarn tasting. This was the lucky day that I had won a gift certificate at Loopy Ewe for my travel pic from Turkey featuring the darling sheep postcard and the Blue Mosque.

This sounds all so lucky, and it is. Maybe I should play the lottery?! Maybe not, for all that I would do with all of that money would be invest in yet more yarn and a larger home in which I could store it. If only I could buy a few extra hands and hours in the day to use the incredible stash that I possess, let alone the dream stash that the lottery would provide!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Silken Shawl

I have been busy working away at this shawl, the pattern is from Briar Rose and the yarn is Noro silk that I dyed myself....almost done!
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Getting down to business

New scarf design...It looks like a river running through it!Posted by Picasa

Work in progress

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Noro Design 26 from Designer Mini-Knits

Monday, September 22, 2008

Picking up Speed!

We spent the weekend at the cottage. This is always (let's make that USUALLY) a good place to relax and knit, spin or dye in harmony with the lake and the woods, Ahhhhh. I put the usually in there since the last time that we went, we re-decked both the front and back raised decks. No, we did not hire someone, WE did three twelve hours days of hard labor, looking at the beautiful blue lake and the sunny sky, but never touching the water. Ouch, we sure deserved to return for the fun of it.

As it turned out, I got a cold, maybe I am feeling a little run down. It was cool and damp with wild waves all Saturday, so, no kayaking. But I did work on a little bit of the pounds and pounds of fiber that I brought in case I had some crazy knitting nirvana and used it all. I did not use it all, but I knit some fingerless gloves and a hat to match with yarn from my stash. I also knit a scarf that a friend has been bugging me about and worked toward the completion of the silk shawl that I started last week. This was from a pattern that I bought at Stitches Midwest and am using silk Noro that I got and stashed. It was a natural silk tan, but I dyed it last year and wanted to see how it would turn out. So far, so good. Pictures are on their way.

No pictures this time, since I have the unbearable job of editing and re-saving all of my hundreds of thousands of photos onto my new external drive. I am in a sorting and cleaning mode and elimination of excess is my therapy. Don't ask.

Never-the-less, pictures are coming, more work is being done, I bought my first Christmas present, yes Christmas and it is not even October. The fall bug has bit. Maybe it will send me in the direction of the wall of fiber that has now become the hall of fiber, floor of fiber, counters of fiber and closets of fiber. This will take a while.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blues subsiding, bring me COLOR!

After hiking up hundreds of marble steps, the reward is the beautiful,
peaceful and enormous sculpture of Buddha.

It has been a week since the sad news about Grandpa. He would want me to get my pace back, so I am working on gaining energy!

Cleaning at his house has inspired some nest neatening around here, so I got some clear lidded containers from Costco and am diving in. One of the benefits of arranging fiber stash is that it is like shopping for it all over again :-)! Each new pile or bag presents a surprise or inspiration from a book or magazine. Happy Birthday to me! even though that special day was in June, I have opened more warm and fuzzy gifts to myself than I am comfortable talking about in any detail.

To add to my collection and cleaning frenzy, I attended the first Black Sheep Knitting Guild meeting for the year, brought a raffle prize and, can you believe, WON ONE! I love new projects and seeing all of my friends. Even though I was whipped from the day and a bit down, it was a good environment. Along with my new Panda Cotton Dotty Circus yarn were the bamboo needles to knit some socks and the More Sensational Socks book that I happen not to have owned! (This is a miracle, I buy every new book that I can justify using in some way shape or form).

I have been working on the Jane wrap around sweater, but followed the first set of instructions prior to their being rewritten, and am at a crossroads. It is about 2/3 done and waiting for the finish....only my directions only gave 2 sizes and the new ones give 3, I fall right in the middle if I don't want it to be TOO sexy! This is one of those times that I give myself permission to move on to a new project just because I am in need of new beginnings. The Jane will work its way into my subconscious and hopefully be done in the next month or so. It is a great color and was a swap with another Black Sheep that I am really wanting to wear.

This cotton was dyed using clay up in the mountains of South Korea.

Pictures of trips and such are forthcoming, I just got an external drive to house the thousands of pictures that I have been taking, 8000 of which were just in the past couple of months. So much to see so little time to organize. Keep an eye out!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sad September

I haven't posted pictures and I haven't revealed any of my new projects or wild ideas to occupy my time. On our way home from re-decking our cottage over Labor Day weekend, I received a call that my grandfather had fallen and was in the hospital. Over the course of a week of visits and helping him sip drips of water from a spoon, his condition worsened and this past Friday morning, he passed away. He was a creative man who had written a couple of articles for photographic magazines, raised orchids and various other plants in his greenhouse and laughed about my knitting as an old lady activity. Despite my efforts to convince him of the "hipness" of fibers, he still thought that I was prematurely aging.

Bennie, (or Grandpa Pinky as I named him as a child for the puppy that he had), lived to a good age, almost 94 years old. I was his first grandchild, and took his passage a bit hard. As the week moves on and I get around to sorting through the enormous mess in my house from a summer of neglect, I will hopefully get around to posting some pictures and pick up the needles that have been calling my name.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yow! Is August almost over????

I am back from Korea, and Chicago, and my first back to school meeting. What a reality check!

First, Korea. Amazing, interesting, wonderous and another set of thousands of pictures that need sorting. These are on their way. I even found the yarn shop, accidentally, and made a small purchase. Details to follow, soon.

Next, literally a day and a half after my return to the States, I was off to Schaumburg to the Stitches Midwest convention with my pals. A bit jet-lagged, but still up for fiber, I thankfully signed up for only one class on Sunday, leaving me a bit of free time to shop, eat and lounge in the mineral pool and spa. Tough life, huh?

I returned home to find that, yes, indeed, I was PRESENTING a speech about my Turkish adventure to the entire Cranbrook faculty...on TUESDAY MORNING! I had an inkling about this, but it subsided when I got the email that asked for a statement about the trip and some pics. This said to me, "we will be sharing your trip" rather than, "YOU will be sharing your trip!"
So, another day without blogging, since I was speech writing and nerving out about the prospect. Did I tell you that I am a visual artist.....not a performing artist? Big difference.

Well, I did it. I presented the trip this morning with a prepared speech and some added comments to accompany a few pictures. It went well, very well. Whew! Another hurdle without broken legs.

So, right now I am letting a bit of travel dust settle and hoping to remove the accumulated household dust that has already taken hold in what used to be a living space and is now a storage facility. I miss my friends at the Beanery....Black Sheep, I will see you soon! Everyone else, I am glad to be back and glad that you haven't forgotten me!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Turkey!

The trip continued to whizz by, and our first few days in Istanbul were jam packed with visits to schools, mosques and markets. A visit to the palace where Ataturk lived and died was on the agenda, and was a marvel to tour. The detailed painted exteriors, marble and gilded interiors left no corner without design. I photographed as much of the impressive color and pattern as I could record.

When visiting a school that was working on community projects to employ and educate an impoverished neighborhood, I saw a sign in the library that read: "OKU! Cunku, bilginin sovu yok" which is translated as, "Read! Because knowledge has no limit." I love this phrase, and will be sharing it with my students. My travels always begin with some research and are certainly followed with the same. Of course, I checked out the art and craft sections of their library to see what they had to offer, as well as the shelves of a large modern book store. We are so lucky to have the wealth of literature available to us in the States, they were pretty skimpy in the areas of fiber arts and fiber shops.

The markets are ancient buildings and the architectural arched doorways were created to allow camels to enter when that was important. I shopped at the store in Bursa (known for its silks) and purchased an embroidered silk jacket from the shop that Queen Elizabeth patroned during her visit!

Outside of the mosque in Bursa, a young girl stopped me and wanted to try her English. She told me that I had beautiful green eyes and giggled nervously awaiting my response. I fumbled for a great response, but could only quickly come up with the simple, "Sogul," meaning Thank you.

The shop windows here advertised top conservative fashion as well as silk and other more contemporary wear.

We ended this busy day of travel by seeing some ancient gates to the city and a puppet show for shadow puppet theater. Beyond the short play (in Turkish) we were invited to view behind the scenes and see the puppets, props and operator with the back lighting. The puppets were made from handpainted camel hide. This was a little sad, since I had just had my picture taken on one of the beautiful beasts.

This is me on the camel, me looking nervous as the owner walked away and the camel started moving around, then started peeing, moving even more. It is a long way up on a camel's back! I used a ladder to get into the saddle. The owner returned and laughed at my discomfort. I must not have been in danger of him taking off with me on board.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day one Turkey, then Dyeing in Tobermory

My first day in Istanbul began with the airport. A clean, open building that appeared to get no use! It was so quiet!! That was my first impression, until we followed a series of marble hallways to the core of the excitement. The Turkish and their visitors do not queue up for ANYTHING! I found this was also true of driving, no following lanes seemed necessary, just jamming in was the mode for getting ahead. The large room for acquiring a visa and then passing through customs was not much different than a stockyard. A variety of languages and pushy travelers made their way in many directions until they found themselves at an open window. The movement of the crowd changed as officers directed flocks to newly opened windows and allowed non-citizens the opportunity to enter through citizen lines. I later found that there were flight delays that had many flights arriving at once, so, perhaps, it is not always quite this chaotic!
We met our tour guide, Orhan, and he ran us out through the "Taksi" (you got it, Taxi) lanes and onto our transport for the 10 days. A large air conditioned tour bus took us across the city and to our hotel. I was happy to be staying at the same location for the first 3 nights, a good chance to get acclimated. We were assigned our rooms in a lovely hotel with a fabulous rooftop dining view of Old Istanbul. The photo above is part of the expanse that I enjoyed over breakfast for those first few days.
A brief meeting gave us an outline of our trip and a chance to introduce ourselves to our co-travelers. There were teachers from Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan (of course), Colorado and Texas. Four teachers represented each of these states for our tour.
We dined that evening at a local Kebap (you are probably getting the phonetics of Turkish) restaurant for a wonderful meal. The cheese, fruit, salads, breads, and many rolled items that accompany the lamb and beef were outstanding, and way too much food. A trend of overeating and over serving that followed us to the end of our journey about 5 added pounds later!
The return to our room allowed for a little evening walk, so a few of us took a stroll. When returning in the moonlight, we heard the last call to prayer from a nearby minaret of the Blue Mosque. The melodic and almost haunting sound filled the evening air, and it was clear, we were in Turkey.

Back to fiber life:
I am glad that so many people like my new Turkish socks! Talk about a coincidence....Heritage Spinning and Weaving in Lake Orion is offering a Turkish sock class with LynnH! She had a blog entry that described some of the Turkish socks in her collection, it may be of interest to you, too.

This past week was spent at the cottage. It was just what I needed to get out of the picture sorting, unpacking and general daily catchup. I finished reading, "The Yoghurt Man Cometh" a story of a teacher from the States who takes a job teaching in Turkey for a year. I recognized so many of the places and familiar habits of the Turkish people. The book was given to us by the Turkish Cultural Foundation as a gift while we were visiting.

The pictures from my traveling companion photo pages have been pouring in. This gives me over 5000 pictures to view when I include my own. I do NOT have Photoshop, nor a Mac, so the minor edits to my own shots and organization of the pictures is a time consuming mess. I need to get these shots in some kind of order and onto discs before we leave for Korea (August 1...just around the corner!)

I could not go to the cottage without a knitting project, a little spinning, and a "bit" of dyeing. So here is the output:

I knit a pair of socks using Lorna's Laces, thanks to Hariett's inspiration. I am not fond of the pooling or repetition of some of the sock yarns, but love the slip stitch pattern that shows off the color while breaking the color pools.

On the way out of town, I stopped by Heritage to get a few dye colors and packed some yarn. The weather was wonderful and everything dried in the sun with no incident. Not even a bat in the batch! (The little critters like to hide in the masses when I hang them to dry!) I may be trying my hand at Etsy sales, since there is more here than I will be able to knit up. And I can't just pass by the stash that has been patiently waiting for my needles in favor of the new batch, can I?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back in the USA!

Well, my trip was certainly a Turkish Delight! It was a total whirlwind of a trip, with little to no time to call home or write, let alone blog.

In a nutshell, Turkey is the place to go for history, culture, art, beaches, sunshine, water and of course, wonderful food!

I started knitting a pair of socks on the plane ride out, but the usual happened. I started reading about the destination and talking to my counterparts for the trip and the socks were returned to the luggage. My idea was to sit by the pool and knit in the evenings, until I saw our itinerary! We were getting early morning wake-up calls, repacking luggage most every night and getting on the bus for new destinations by 7-8 am each morning. Not to mention the late night dinners, sights and shows.

As the weeks progress, I will be posting the inspiring colors and textures that I encountered in this land of wonder. Heading this entry is a photo of my prize Turkish socks that I was able to purchase. They were hidden beyond the many larger needle varieties that filled the bazaars. These were an original hand knit design from a local knitter done on small needles. I feared that they would not sell them to me, since they were hung in the displays of folk clothing. But my desperate look must have told them that I would cherish the knitted treasures, and the next thing I knew, I was swapping Turkish Lira for the goods!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Istanbul or Bust!

The time is drawing very is the moment that packing for a trip is looming so near that I get queezy. I have done everything possible to postpone this (as usual) and am hoping that tonight's yoga will rest my mind for at least that hour.

Salina Shawl is finished! Yippee! It will be a nice addition to a sundress in the ever cold air-conditioning or a little protection from the Mediterranean sun. It was going really well until my monkey mind became too overloaded. That was the period of knitting that found me reversing the pattern row, skipping stitches, losing yarn overs, you name it. A little swearing went into this sweet and innocent looking accessory. I hope that I don't lose it on the trip!

I am planning the knitting project that will come with me on the journey. Anyone had recent experience with British Air and knitting? I was planning a small project with cheap needles in case of confiscation and a spare pair in my checked baggage for the hotel. What will I knit????? Probably socks since I have at least 40 pair in yarn waiting for the effort. I have books, but they don't keep my hands busy and long flights require knitting. I would even settle for crochet, just to have the comfort of yarn and repetition of stitches to occupy me.

I will do my best to post my where abouts, but if it doesn't work out, I will be back in about 10 days with plenty to show and tell. Wish me luck, the yarn shop in the bazaar is on my map and I have been looking at some awesome Turkish socks/slippers.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Going Green, and meaning it!

In this time of conservation, recycling and environmental awareness, it is great to see that the words are being backed by actions! Too often, catch phrases and concepts come out of ulterior motives and the real effort is temporary or limited to a few hard-core advocates.

My school has been making the Green effort and we teach our children what is needed to save the earth. In each country that I visit, I take pictures of their recycle efforts to pass along and share the solidarity with those who share our planet.

This green thought process is a major part of my daily thinking, particularly when it comes to creative uses for things that might otherwise be tossed or wasted. Which brings me to my current and previous couple of projects.

The market bags are fun and fast and, happily, being used! My daughter was just over and saw the tan bag and oohed about how she could use that to shop and save the fee for bags at her local store. Yeah! A child of mine is actually WANTING something that I knit and for such a good reason. (Although, I have to say, this child has liked the fingerless mitts, scarves and various other "hip" knits that I have produced, but this is still good.) Needless to say, she is the proud owner of the bag that she even offered to buy from me!

Project #2: The vest that was in the paper a couple of weeks ago. I used the yarn that I swapped, saving money and the reusing someone else's stash in place of buying new. There were no measurements on the sizing in the pattern, and the directions were a bit off, but the vest worked out and is in need of buttons. The daughter previously mentioned is wanting this too. I am a soft touch.

Project #3: I certainly cannot leave for a trip without one last effort to knit something to take. It is usually at the last minute and a bit uncertain, but it always happens. This effort is the Salina Shawl. I was going to use the swap yarn to make it, but the texture was too competitive with the patterning. Ah ha! I had a linen sweater from Banana Republic that was knit with cream linen tape. I did not wear it much and it was too big and boxy to be current. But the ribbon was in great shape. A little unraveling produced all of the materials necessary to knit the shawl and away I went! Hopefully the weekend will find it finished with only the fringe to be done while I chat with the Black Sheep on Tuesday night. No need for new yarn on this one, recycling the ribbon worked out well!

Don't get me wrong, all of the recycling and reuse does not interfere with my shopping the LYS, but it enhances the stash, gives new life to old fiber and saves a little processing from the big companies.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Teaching, a Noble Profession

I may have mentioned in a past post, I was not originally consciously destined to be a teacher. By way of interests and personality, I guess, I was drawn to the call.

The reason that I begin with this thought has been inspired by Saturday's Family Day and WWKip Day event at Cranbrook.

The opportunity arose to share our love of fiber with the general public, and all that I needed to do was ask. The Black Sheep Knitting Guild was ready and eager to participate in all different ways. We had graphic design input and physical products created. There were suggestions for ways to let others know what we do, who we are and how they could get started with their own fiber life (for those participating in the day who had not thought about it? or maybe thought about it but did not know how to start!) Such enablers! Better yet, such natural teachers.

The best teachers that I have ever had, and still remember, were those who had a passion for what they taught. They were not doing a job, they were sharing their enthusiasm. I witnessed and shared this common passion on Saturday when our guild came together and shared their time and excitement with one another, from set-up, all day long until take-down.

Sure, we have some teachers in the group, this helps with planning and organization. But we have other "teachers" in the group who are naturally drawn to sharing with others. This generous spirit kept our tent busy throughout the day. Young, old, boys and girls, you name it, they tried it.

Don't underestimate the power of your passion. Teach someone to knit, share your enthusiasm! Our yarn stores will stay in business, our hand made items will be appreciated and our circle of friends will grow from the effort.

If you missed the excitement on Saturday, and really wished you knit, or would like to meet with a great group of knitters, check us out!

Friday, June 13, 2008

WWKIPday!!!! It is almost here!

I am hoping to see many of your knitting projects and share in the excitement for WWKIP (World Wide Knitting in Public) Day at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, MI! Our details are on the WWKIP Day website and it is part of such a great fun family day. Even your family will enjoy wandering the grounds, visiting the science institute (for FREE) and looking at the unique artistic pieces that the museum is sharing (also, FREE!!!)

So, stop in! The Black Sheep Knitting Guild will have two booths and some chairs so we can knit, spin, or just chat in a beautiful atmosphere.

We even have some great coupons to give-away from Ewe-nique Knits in Royal Oak, I know you need more stash....this is just a little nudge in the right direction!

Come knit with us, would you?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Knitter's Attention Deficit (Disorder?)

In everyday life, when witnessing someone who is going in all directions at one time, it is often described as a lack of focus. Could it be that some of us have a greater range of focus, and can pinpoint their direction better by taking in many experiences and winding down into the ones that seem most applicable for the situation?

I work this way. Go wide and slowly focus in on the most important aspect of what I am doing.

This month has found me working yet a 3rd version of my market bag in a different yarn altogether. The trial and tweaking of these versions are to the benefit of those who may use my pattern, so no problem here. I don't need 3 market bags, but the experience has been good and the end products varied in size and shape.

I am also picking along at the Hanami, but have decided to shelve the project momentarily while the other more pressing issues of my life are screaming in my ears.

After the Black Sheep Swap, I found that my newly acquired stash would be suitable for some summer knitting. I was not actively looking for a pattern, but will need something to cover my shoulders in Turkey (later this month). Have you any Wool? in Berkley has a terrific little shawl on display, and guess what???? I just happen to have the pattern in my collection. (what a surprise, not.) It is the Salina Shawl from Lana Grossa. I tried working it out in my new stash cotton blend (Monte Carlo from Queensland Collection). Too varied a texture, it did not show any of the pattern. I am a visual person, so not being able to see the pattern to read where I am in the lace was not too great, either. But I can still do it with stash or a few balls from the shop.

I saw that the Detroit News posted Laurie Hanna's vest pattern in the paper. It takes under 600 yards and I have that. This project is currently on the needles and I hope to have it done in a couple of days.

The idea of knitting summer items is new for me. I am not a fan of summer knits, nor the yarns, usually. But the more I read about the Mosques and Temples that I will be visiting during the tours in Turkey, the more I felt that it would be a good thing to have. Why not make it? I will report back on the success (hopefully) of the summer knitting endeavors.

Only a few weeks until I leave. I met the other grant recipients and was treated to a historic and cultural information day at Wayne State University just yesterday. The trip is seeming much more real now that I have met my counterparts and have gotten more specific information. I am so excited and am probably making everyone so sick of Turkey that we will be having meatloaf in November for fear of saying the word!

Along with all of the knitting, I have been doing my travel research, and reading recommended Turkish authors for a better sense of the journey. If you are interested in a rich cultural area with a history that beats the best novels, try Orhan Pamuk (I am reading his non-fiction book, "Istanbul", and his novel "Snow" that gives a great sense of the area and the people). He is a Nobel prize winner for literature, and the smooth, visual sense that he imparts with his words would clearly explain why. That and the historic and local background are fascinating. The man has lived in Turkey his whole life, even in the same childhood home, and his books are translated from Turkish. I love it!

I must be really excited about the trip, since the books are not on tape or cd. You all know what this means, competition for knitting time. I feel like I am "cheating" on my knitting, or maybe just indulging in my KAD(D?).

As I always say, "We only live once, as far as we know."

Saturday, May 31, 2008

To market, to market..

One of the 10 reasons that I had not blogged, I guess was number 6, was that I am working on a new pattern. It came out of my desire to recycle, reuse and save our environment. I love this trend and hope that it becomes a way of life rather than a passing gimmick for advertisers. It is kind of like the way that our freeway speed limits were reduced for the energy crisis, but restored when, what? There was no longer a need to conserve energy? Ahh, what a concept.

Back to knitting...and the pattern that I am working on. I packed for last week's trip to the cottage and made sure that I brought some cotton from my stash. The idea was to make a market bag. I even brought (or thought I had) a pattern or two so that I could sit on the deck, watch the waves and knit away without a care.

Things rarely go as I plan, and this was no exception. We got there and it was cold, no deck knitting. Fine, I could sit inside and look out at the lake, no cares. I opened the fiber "suitcase" and got out the cotton. No patterns. While searching the incredible stash at home, I must have laid all forms of patterns somewhere and left them there.

I am not easily discouraged, only manically obsessive about working on what I set out to do. How hard could it be to make a simple bag, with a stable bottom, an openwork pattern, easy in and out top and comfy handles? Knowing that there are patterns out there, it was probably better that I did not make one before trying to design my own. This opened the doors to more possibilities and probably more errors than I would have made if I started with something rather than just an idea.

Garter bottom. Fine, how big? Got it. Openwork pattern, looked great, easy to do. How tall? Hmmm tricky, since it stretches in all directions. I am not very tall, so I did not want it to drag, but I planned on two short handles, so I could go a bit longer on the bag.

I like it, I wrote notes all the way through and decided it is too long for the general user. Great for baguettes and really long spaghetti! Plus the knit netting caused some calculation concern when placing the handles in accordance with the "twist."

I had more cotton, in orange, and it has a mild boucle texture. I wonder how that would work? I used the original pattern that I had just jotted down, but made some adjustments. So far, this one is looking good. I had thought about different handles and the appropriate sizing, so the suggestions from my friends have been incorporated. I will be finishing this one up tonight!

Talk about energy use! A simple bag, from simple materials, used from my pre-existing stash, and as much brain power and knitter's input that I could include has taken much of this week's energy. Thankfully, I do not run on diesel.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Top 10 Reasons that I have been late with the blog….

If you have been wondering, “what is up with LindaLuFiber,” here is a partial list of my goings ons:

1) Getting ready for the Cranbrook Art Museum opening of the Craft in American exhibition on June 14. The Black Sheep Knitting Guild will be demonstrating knitting and spinning for the public and hosting a knit in for those who are interested, plus it is a family fun day so the museums have free entry that Saturday. This is World Wide Knitting in Public Day, and we are a registered site! (join us would you?) We are listed under Bloomfield Hills, MI and there is a map and everything you need to know posted! Look us up!

2) Working on the Hanami, not enough, but a bit…

3) Working on a triangular shawl in my own dyed wool…storm in the springtime, which reflected reason #4,

4) Visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The sky was stormy grey and the trees bright spring green! This is where I like to take a knitting vacation while I bond with my patient husband and our adorable cat.

5) Applying for a cultural travel grant to visit Turkey….guess what? I got it! So the entries may get a bit skimpy during the summer, but I will try to get some good pictures and have already found a yarn market in Istanbul…hope it works out!

6) Visiting our cottage that has been neglected for the past 3 months! So a trip to Tobermory, Ontario gave me some good knitting time. I planned to make a market bag, grabbed the yarn and forgot a pattern! So I am making one up. I did the first trial version and used it to bring all of the barbecue picnic food and condiments and plates to the picnic table. This helped me decide to make the next one shorter. Thanks to my friends from the Black Sheep at the Beanery tonight, I have some good input on version #2 that is on its way to becoming my next posted pattern. It takes about 6 hours to get to the cottage, so I had plenty of time to work it out.

7) Spending countless hours securing flights for my husband and myself to visit Korea in August. We were invited to participate in a ceramic tour (we both do ceramic art) and two international exhibitions in Seoul. (Another skimpy month for blogging, but I am checking into Korean fiber.) Ravelry has been a good source for my travel fiber fix, I highly recommend finding locals before you travel and check out the fiber scene!

8) I am a teacher, meaning that the school year is ending and report cards are next on the big agenda.

9) I am taking an art doll class at Hollander’s in Ann Arbor. Another opportunity to make art and use fiber and found objects to their full potential. Here is the beginning of one of the pieces...more to come after tomorrow!

10) There just are not enough hours in the day, week or month. Gosh it is great to have such a full fiber life!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bohus Stickning (or miniature knitting for pattern junkies)

Being the glutton for challenge, adventure and general fiber learning, I was intrigued by a posting for a class on Bohus Stickning. The intrigue began with the name. I did the natural thing, I googled it. Wow, great pictures and what do you know, I own a book that seems to feature that very subject! Poems of Color was a book purchase that I made simply because it had a great cover. That and lots of pictures of sketches on graph paper representing color combinations and designs for knitting. The artist in me was very excited. The knitter in me did not know quite what to think.

The class was being taught by Susanna Hansson. She would be in town for the weekend and there were a couple of choices, Sunday's class was for mittens, using a unique method for carrying color up the mitt for color designs that ran vertically. The pattern for these mittens and a great description was in last month's Piecework magazine (the one with the poem mittens on the cover). I have the magazine, and may one day make the mittens.

The Saturday class was the one that caught my eye. It was described as an introduction to the history of this type of knitting and a workshop to make the historic Bohus Blue Shimmer cuffs (see her website, they are beautiful!) I wanted to know more about the history of knitting in general and liked the aspect of the artistic uniqueness of a group of women creating wonderful wool and angora blend patterned sweaters on tiny needles for the wealthy.

I started some cuffs, on the tiny (size 00 needles) using the color chart that has repeats of different multiples for each section. This requires increases and decreases to make them work out. It also requires a magnification device, plenty of eye rest and a marker to keep your place. Who would have thought that the advent of asphalt would begin an artistic movement in knitting? The hubbies who used to work in stone found themselves out of work in the quarries when asphalt was developed, so the women came to the rescue. They did their usual home bound laundry, kids, cooking and cleaning bit, then settled in for the evening. By dim light, using essentially bike spokes, they carefully planned and knit these fantastic sweaters. The yarn was weighed before they received it and weighed again as the sweater to be sure that the lowly artisans would not keep any materials for themselves.

My cuffs are not done, thanks to the Hanami in all its glory (3x the 32 row pattern-done) but will be. Maybe when the weather suggests the need for them, or possibly sooner. My friend Cheryl, well, let's just say she is a machine. Hers are done and she is ALSO working on the Hanami, I must find some way to slow her down!

I studied art history in college, as a way to appreciate the development of art movements. I guess it is only natural that it would be interesting to learn about the history of knitting for different purposes and in different cultures. Bohus Stickning is a bit highbrow, but lovely and interesting. Now, a whole sweater on miniature needles....I would go blind.