Sunday, February 26, 2017

The peripatetic yarn returns, and thereby hangs a yarn..

Ages ago I was given a wonderful gift, of a fiber share, that's like a CSA but done by a sheep farm raising animals for their excellent fleece.  Lovely spun yarn, some hand dyed in variegated reds, some left natural, and I used a lot, and shared some around. Seemed greedy to keep it all.  

So having traveled from New England to Canada, or maybe the Canada part was cut out, to here, some of it went up the street to a friend with big ambitions to use this fabulous yarn.

Yesterday she came down to visit, announcing she was clearing her cluttered spare room, and giving away some yarns she ought to share. And she handed over the bag of yarn I'd given her way back, thinking it was from her sister.  Hm. So, glad to see it again, and instantly made a hank into knittable balls, and set to work.

Here's my soon to be cowl, in Shaker stitch, moving right along. In fact the pic is several hours old, and the piece is now much bigger, knitting along to audiobooks.  I did try it in a honeycomb stitch, adapted to straights from a pattern using circulars which I don't like, and anyway don't have big enough ones.  

But I found that this yarn, what with the variegation in color and the texture, didn't work with the honeycomb stitch, and I started over. As usual, the camera doesn't convey the richness of reds, and this is much stronger than the color shows here. 

I cast on 51 stitches, need an odd number for this stitch, and size 8 needles, and went from there.  Just winging it, really, and it's looking okay up to now. Shaker is a great stitch, all garter, but looks much posher, and it's interesting to knit -- one row knit, next row knit one then knit under the next stitch, do that to the end. That's what creates the interesting loops on the right side.  It's a good stitch for a scarf, since it traps air, which keeps it warm, without being heavy. It drapes well, too.  When the length is enough to finish, I'll knit the two ends together as I cast off, making a firm ending.  I might at that point turn one over to make an interesting shape, a mathematical mystery whose name totally escapes me, but it will return as soon as I hit publish, guaranteed*.

This is more fun than framing, which I have been doing for two upcoming shows.  Then I promised to write some pr for the same shows, Creative Collective ones.  And I have to get moving on making paper to use in the artist book demos coming up in April, which is not so far off after all at this point.  I think people will enjoy handling handmade paper, along with various other items.

And a frantic search for a piece by Unified Field, that's the joint artist Stefi M and I used to be when we weren't being just ourselves, because it suddenly had a buyer.  Which meant we had to find it.  Whose house?  crated? whose studio?  did we still own it? etc. etc. and I did unearth it, in excellent condition, already framed, labeled, wired, priced, ready to go.  So it now lives in California, I believe, and the buyers are happy.  

I totally failed to get a pic of it before it left, of course, and it predated my digi days. So I can't even show it. I'm such a washout!  It was a set of images, polaroid shots, of artworks we'd created together,  then mounted on black paper, but with torn surface areas. It all sounds chaotic, but in fact it was a good harmony of blues and blacks and greens and great background texture, and if I can ever locate a pic, I'll give you a link.  Title is Poseidon's World.

And the moral of the story is: art lasts, and can find a home even years after it's made.  Of course, I have had people try to buy a work they remember from years ago only to find that I've broken up and reused the piece, or sold it in another form, or something!  Not a curator, more interested in what's happening now and in the immediate future, really.

It is nice, though to think of my work, in various different media, painted, monotypes, stitched, knitted, crocheted, sculpted, assembled,  living in a number of different countries, like seeing your kids, all individuals,  go off and settle in their own places.

I guess it also means it's never too late to check with an artist if a piece you saw ages ago and still like is still available.  You never know, it might be! 

*Mobius, mobius!! remembered it as I was about to hit the button. There should be two dots over the o, but who's counting.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Memories! Feb 16 1963

Today is the anniversary of Handsome Partner's and my wedding day!  No, we were not trying for a Valentine wedding just coping for months with the standoffs between the Catholic situation and the city registrar, and had to take the first date, and exact time, the registrar would attend the church!  

Since Catholic priests in England can religiously but not legally marry couples, the registrar has to be present to perform the legal part. The Catholic Church being outlawed since the Reformation. But religious people can't just have the registrar marry them, since they need the religious wedding.  So, registrars hating to come out and about with their little briefcases, you have to keep all your arrangements flexible (!) until you can get all the parties together. Religious ceremony in the Church, then you all troop into the sacristy to get the legal one done and all the signatures.

This is not such an issue in a smaller town, where you probably all know each other anyway and there are more friendly relations, and the distances are not so great. But in a big city, which is where we were, it's fraught!  So when he finally announced that he would attend for twenty minutes, no more, from 3.20 p.m. to 3.40 p.m. on Feb 16, we just took it.  Very little advance notice. 

Budget wedding, starting as we meant to go on, with pix in black and white, donated by photographer friend, one set, wedding cake made and iced by my best friend's mom, and sent across England in the passenger seat of her friend's truck, longhaul truck driver, flowers, very few available, terrible storms that year, flowers all stuck in the Scilly Isles unable to be imported, but anyway donated by Student Union staff.  We had our reception there, and they were all excited to be catering a wedding!  Dress borrowed from a work friend of mine, and altered to fit, plus veil.  Thirty guests, all of whom were in the one group pic!  

The priest who married us had been forbidden by his boss the parish priest to preach a sermon, since there was a danger that this mixed marriage, Handsome Partner a different religion, might look serious! Dear Father Clinch, a Jesuit, told us he was ignoring that totally and preached a lovely little sermon about how any group coming together in God's name was welcome and a celebration. Most of our friends not Catholic, and they were quite impressed and a bit weepy about how nice this all was.  And it was fun. 

Handsome Partner's been gone for almost six years now, and it was really interesting to find these old pix, and see him young and with flaming red hair! Not the white haired old guy current friends knew. Well, I guess we both looked a bit younger then.

DIY, showing our true colors even then....So much has happened in both our lives, many adventures, some I'm glad only happened once, some would be nice to have again.That suit was in use for many many years, as a special suit, interviews, weddings, etc!  Scientists not being snappy dressers. 

Then this week, best Valentine evah arrived in the mail from honorary granddaughter Heather, which you see here. Lovely double origami, one heart on another.  Now with my other Asian art items where I can see it all the time, and will love forever.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Ellen Wilkinson in new jacket and dress outfit, insists on quiet

Ellen might have a hard time around here, what with Dollivers and the Kennels, and the Tinies, and Elton belting out tunes, when she's trying to get on with her legislative planning work.  

So she's ensconced in the little rocker one floor away from the noisy group, and is quite pleased with her new jacket and dress outfit, suitable for office wear.  

She plans on not following the Westminster AKC Dog Show.  Such a workaholic.  She wasn't even keen on spending time on the fitting of the jacket and posing for the photoshoot.  The Dollivers are baffled.

The agility section got off to a wonderful start -- did you see the beagle? great at actual agility but saw no reason not to look around now and then, and stop at the top of the climber to wag at the crowd, and down on the rug to do a quick cleaning job...he was as star turn.  I wonder if there is a trophy for Funniest Hound? typical beagle ham.  Pretends he can't do the weave, runs off. Then comes back and does a weave a border collie would be proud of. We need dogs in our lives!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ellen Wilkinson, off the straight and narrow already

So Ellen, the new arrival, spent her first night with the Dollivers, and that may have been a mistake.  She's already demanded to get out of the costume I kitted her in for her debut, and into some decent working gear.  They must have been working on her.

Anyway, I found some blue silk yarn, and got to work in bed last night, listening to a Miss Read audiobook, read by Gwen Watford.  She played a wonderful Dolly Bantry in a couple of Miss Marple television movies, perfect delivery.  But I find her a bit hard to follow in audio, since I must have been lipreading a lot of the movie dialog.  She swallows syllables in true southern Brit style.

And this morning as Ellen nagged at me in a tiny, firm Yorkshire voice, I finished the dress, but she wanted it sleeveless, and a jacket and hat to go with.  So she's got the dress and a nice scarf tucked in at the neck and the jacket and hat are promised.  Clearly she's a quick study.  She's a little over six inches tall, much smaller than the Ds, which they are glad about, since she can't wear their clothes. We have lost the pin she wore the other day, and I have a bad feeling I may find it with a bare foot at some point, pun intended.

Last evening I was wondering what to choose between doing fed taxes and knitting doll dresses, decisions, decisions.  And it will be no surprise to blogistas to hear I did both. When in doubt, just do everything, lifelong mantra. For better or worse.  
So taxes are done, and they owe me a bit, and state taxes now to do, and maybe they'll owe me a bit, too.  It's annoying to have to file, since I only do it to reclaim taxes paid directly on account of withdrawals from IRA. Income doesn't reach taxable threshold.  But a little bit will arrive in my bank soon, I hope. Always welcome.

So here's Ellen on her way to being once again a busy working Parliamentary woman.  I expect she'll want a briefcase, but the Ds are unlikely to think of that, they being more along the lines of more and better jewelry.  She is probably not into jewelry, nor into taking over a dog from the Dolliver Kennels, who are about to come into their own again, with the Westminster AKC Dog Show coming up.

We have a Whippet, a Wirehaired Terrier and an Irish Setter in the kennels, plus a shaggy mixed breed, who didn't get in on account of not agile enough for the agility section.  The first year of our Kennels, a Wirehaired Terrier won, so there was a general barkup at the Kennels, complete with eggcup standing in for the big trophy. And Wrangler NameMe in pole position.

Friday, February 10, 2017

New knitting group, and pussyhats rule!

Today was the first meeting of a new knitting/crochet circle, at a local library,  and it was great fun.  Five members plus the librarian who organized it, and one baby who came with her mom and gave us cuteness overload! And another person who will join but didn't know about the group till she stopped in at the library this afternoon.

And, in the course of talking and sharing and showing and learning, wonderful instant interchange of ideas, I produced the pussyhat in search of an owner, and it is now owned by Mary the librarian. She plans to wear it to the March for Science coming up in DC!  

And another old friend I don't see half often enough, turned up, and we were both very happy about that. She accepted a pussyhat pin and promptly put it on.  

I will have to knit a few more at this rate! it's wonderful.  Also the group learned the significance of the safety pin movement.

But this was just on the side, since the main item was the rapport of the group, and the talents going on, ranging from a knitted scarf in progress, to a brand new knit work cast on today, to afghan segments for Warm Up America, to  crocheted cup shapes useful for many purposes, to relearning crochet, amazing range of skills and sharing.  This will happen every two weeks, unless we decide to up the ante!  and it's in the afternoon, good for folks who are not keen on night driving, and fits in with moms with school age kids, since they can get home for the bus.

All in all, a very good use of a Friday afternoon.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Art keeps breaking through, and so does the mailbag

Today, midst blizzard and various concerns about Handsome Son having to get into work, which he did no problem, he tells me, he could have made a better story of it...anyway, the big verdict on the travel ban came down amidst my work in art and the February mailbag, and running an online quiz, and mucho cooking. And it sounded like a welcome bit of good news, for now.

So, it's the Shakuhachi effect, everything that happens happens, and it's not an interruption of something else.  And I was deep into my February mailbag, so this was good.  The mailbag is small, but lovely, heh.

Anyway, I try to share it around so that people in my address book, and if I don't have your address, you could remedy that..anyway, from the people in my book, each month a different group.  Great fun to do.  I even rounded the cards' corners so that they'd travel safely in the mail.  My loss of faith in my local post office is complete, since some people got last month's mailbag three weeks late..but I will mail from the next town where I have a meeting tomorrow.

So here's the bag, original landscapes, using alcohol, Sharpie and watercolor crayon.  Custom made! Colors are brighter than seen here, since the white paper tends to shine through for the camera lens.

The mailbag does tend to draw me back into painting, and that's very good, when fibers are trying to ensnare me..

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A doll emerges, complete with her own personality

So today, I wrote a little list of all the things I have to attend to, in order to stop having to think about them all at the same time. And making the doll was on there.

So I thought, fine, let's see if my thumb's up to it.  And took a closer look at the doll parts and realized I'd done the hardest sewing back when I knitted them.  All the parts complete and only needing to be stuffed and joined up.

The funny thing about doll making is that a personality emerges whether you want it to or not.  It did with the Dollivers, and this little doll, half their size, starting out from a Duchess Kate pattern, suddenly turned into Ellen Wilkinson, and if you don't know about her, go here.  

She was a powerful orator, a tiny redhaired woman, my mom's heroine in politics, our local MP as well as a national dynamo.  So when she started showing up, I had to card some red handspun yard, for red hair, and I couldn't resist giving her suffragist type clothes and posing her with my Hillary ballot.  I think she would have approved.  She usually wore a two piece skirt suit, as far as I know, not a snappy dresser, too busy doing her job, really.

Not so surprising that she emerged, perhaps, since I was making the doll while live tweeting and hearing the proceedings of the dramatic court proceedings this afternoon in the SF federal circuit court hearing on the Trump immigration ban. When the moment is right, the doll appears.

What a time to be alive.  Powerful women lawyers commenting and explaining throughout, via Twitter, powerful female federal judge on the panel examining the case.  I was engrossed even in the machinery of the law, where they were arguing whether a stay or a writ of mandamus would have been correct, and who had standing and how, and so on.  

And when the DOJ lawyer complained that things were moving so fast, the judge shot back, well, it was the government who forced the speed by filing the emergency request.  In other words, a different way of appealing it would have allowed the court to keep the stay until full deliberations were completed, giving lawyers time to prepare. The government shot itself in the legal foot by its dramatic reaction.  Couldn't help feeling that the DOJ was not very well served by its lawyers.  And the other side was stronger. But we'll see how this comes out.

Rapidly developing into a shade tree lawyer here! 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Stress abated, art ideas spring up, yay.

The last few weeks have been about all kinds of things, but not much about original art ideas and excitement of that kind. More about the sort of work that experiments with known forms and ideas, great to noodle with, but lacking that thunderbolt of excitement that happens when you see an elegant idea coming at you.

I have to thank the EGA friends for this one, since at yesterday's guild meeting I was showing the brain project stitching kit I'd been given by Cynthia, and had been unable to get going on for various reasons. One is that in winter my thumbs and fingers needed for stitching are badly cracked no matter what care I lavish, and are either exposed and too tender to handle needles, or protected and too clumsy to do it. that goes for spinning, too.  Can't spin the shaft with bandaids in place, not enough friction.

Anyway, I was also a bit stymied because the image, painted on the canvas, was oriented backwards. That is, the visual narrative ran right to left, very uncomfortable for a Western artist to handle. the brain project is an exciting idea,  the creation of a neurologist,  it encourages the acceptance of stitching and creative work for anyone as a great brain function and exercise, which is all good. If you look here, you'll see that there are also canvases oriented left to right.  You'll also see some great ideas that people have put into action on the project.

And some people were putting their brains minds to this, Ginny suggesting I just look through the back and trace the outlines in reverse, work that way.  Which went a good way toward the solution, the only prob being that I wanted to preserve some of the original painted color in the finished work, and working from the back wouldn't do that. 

Then after I got back from a lovely hike this afternoon, it burst on me how to do it and be happy, and have a much more meaningful result.  I would photograph the canvas, print out the image on my fine silk, reverse the silk, layer the two together and have a much better run at this.  

I can stitch right through the silk, with care not to fray it, maybe tape it down all around, though removing the tape might be a real trick.  But anyway, that's only process. The idea is there. The notion of the self reflexive brain, the hemispheres, the overlaying of complex thought and action, it's all fact it's better than the original concept.

Alas, can't actually stitch it yet, you should see what a time I had just getting the silk organized and the pix done, with my out-of- commission thumb.  But it will heal again and I'll seize whatever days I get before it acts up again.  So thank you all!  very happy outcome here.

Also, Ginny, you have a lot to answer for, just as well you don't read my blog, one of the books you handed around at the program had doll patterns, for making dolls...and I remembered knitting all the body parts for Kate in my Knit your own Royal Wedding. Clearly dates me, since she now has two kids.  But anyway, back then I knitted her body in a nice silk yarn.  

So, having kept it in a little bag in the KYORW book, I took it out today.  And, smugness here, since I had at one point actually got all my dollmaking bits into one place, I was able to pick out stuffing, and hair making yarn, and stiffening wires, and all that.  

So I think I can do that even with a gimpy thumb.  I'm going to take a try anyway. 

It also gives me an idea of maybe teaching some simple dollmaking to kids at this year's Festival of the Arts in September. Must think more on that and see if the PTB like it.  No, no, mustn't add yet more to my plans...but it might be fun, all the same..

Friday, February 3, 2017

Experiments in weaving and blanket sections

Hard to write happy little blogposts these days; the anxiety and consequent activism always with me, but I won't bore you with all the actions and petitions, and encouraging, and signing and that. Just assume it's happening.  Local actions, too, turning friends on to helping the food pantry, that kind of thing.

However, some good stuff in art is also happening.  Some sections for my WarmUp America blanket offerings, well, they're activism, too, come to think of it.  

But anyway here are the first few, together with the cardboard template I cut to make sizing simpler.  And I'm knitting diagonally for the same reason.  

A friend stopped over, saw the sections, and threatens to bring over a large stash from her house once she's tidied up enough to get at it, because I can Use It Up!  I'm guessing that the blanket sections need to be machine washable, so I'm using my handspun for other projects, and donated stash for the sections.

Also I've been looking at some cool ideas for shaped weaving.  

Here's a little experiment with triangular freeform weaving on my potholder loom, small enough to mess about with and try out. I'm using my handspun for this. It's not true tri weaving (for that you need nails or notches on three sides) but it is a single warp yarn which becomes the weft too. That's the interesting part.  

And of course, since there are no notches on the hypotenuse, the weaving has to be freeform, not a solid triangle.  You work differently with a real tri loom, one of which I will probably make. 

With this one, you have a lot of threads packed into the corner but spread out across the hypotenuse, and I'm using the concept to push them about and try out different ways of seeing them. I will probably go in with a different thread, too, and work in the spaces.  This could be fun.  This picture is just the first arrangement, done more thread pushing since then.  More to weave to finish this triangle.  And it's just a motif idea that might work into other projects.  And I will loop each end over the next as a finishing method when it comes off the loom.

You can get or make real tri looms as big as 7 feet, but I doubt if I'll go that big..I will make at least one, though, once I get organized into correctly spacing the notches on the hypotenuse -- have to be the same number of notches or nails as on the other sides. Usually you go for the same spacing between notches or nails, which will be the same number if you're working a square or rectangular shape. Here it can't be the same spacing, in order to have the same number.

If there are short sides, it not being an equilateral triangle, it's not a very obvious bit of math. Fun to try, though. And it's a very different approach to weaving, since you continually feed off a ball of yarn, no bobbins or butterflies to fuss with.

I've also been seeing ideas for looms cut into the shape of pieces of garments, like pattern blocks, only notched ready to weave. I really fancy weaving myself a vest, using my handspun. Lined with silk or linen, could be very nice. But that's for another day.  Only challenge is cutting the cardboard pieces to the correct size. The actual notching and weaving not so complex.

So that's where art is at the moment. Exhibiting in April and May through July, not fiberarts, other pieces.  Artist in Residence stint in April. Quite a bit happening.