Thursday, February 16, 2017

Knitting Up a Storm


I woke up to rain on the skylights this morning and it's continued on and off all morning.  We're ready to see the snow go.  According to the Bible story, a rainbow is God's symbol to Noah that he will bring the rain to an end.  I'm ready for that too.
I bought a book on how to knit stuffed animals but after knitting all the pieces up, was simply incapable of sewing them together in any fashion that was remotely cute.  I threw these pieces in the trash, put the book in a library donation pile and knitted Owen the blue bear.  I learned that I'd rather do all the shaping on my needles rather than do it this way.
At least I thought that's what I preferred until I got to the end of this "carrot" and find that I have knitted an orange codpiece.  The Arumagami book is challenging but I managed all the other veggies in the book, just not this one.  I'm looking on Ravelry for an alternative pattern.  I need to hurry though as Olivia's birthday is March 1st.
These are the veggies I've knitted so far and the garlic is my favorite.
I finished the market bag last night but in looking at it this morning I realize that it's inappropriate for a four-year-old girl.  It's just too big for her.
I tore it back this morning from 100 stitches to a base of 80 stitches.  The lace pattern is simply Row 1 - *knit 2 tog, YO* repeat, and Row 2 - Knit.  It should go quickly but if it has to be late, I'd rather it's cute and the right size.
I've been knitting away on my daughter's scarf (which she has asked me to sew into a cowl) but since her birthday is in April and this is almost done, I'll set aside for now.  I look forward to seeing it blocked.  These are all colors that she loves and wears.

I made the mistake of signing up for two art classes that were offered concurrently so have been spending huge amounts of time on my projects, and in fact, I have a class tonight which is five-week course sampling four printmaking techniques.  I did take my bin of handwovens to the last session of my drawing class and sold a couple hundred dollars worth, including the iridescent scarf, and they've asked me to bring my stuff back to our next session.  I've been weaving like a mad woman, in between everything else.

And then there's the issue of body maintenance - I try to get to three Tai Chi sessions a week and continue with my home program in follow-up to four months of physical therapy.  This week my body took a beating, starting with a visit to Urgent Care Sunday morning because I woke up with my right eye glued shut.  Stye!  Remember those?  I spent 2 1/2 hours in the dentists chair Tuesday afternoon getting prepped for a crown and tomorrow is my one-year follow-up mammo.  It's been a year!

My mother used to say that the demands of caring for her old body had become like a hobby, one she didn't like. Speaking of my mother, I found a box containing papers that she had saved.  I had a number of boxes in our garage in Red Rock but procrastinated in taking care of them to the point that mice made nests of most everything.  Ian found the mess when packing up the garage and put anything salvageable in a bin.
One of the boxes lost to the mice was all the artwork that I had saved from my kids school days so I was delighted to find that she had saved this of Christina's.  I'm using it as the image for my Dry Point class tonight.
Ian went to Costco Monday while I was at A6 for my volunteer shift.  iPads were on sale and this one came home with him.  He's already claimed my old one and can't believe how much he likes and uses it.  I'm deliberating on whether or not to buy an external keypad. I'm cheap!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Books, Books, Books

I got on a kick last year which influenced my reading for about six months.  It all started when I found a deaccessioned library copy of After You Marco Polo by Jan Bowie Shor.  My mom and I had read it together in the early 70s and I've always remembered it.  It was even better the second time.  The book was published in 1955 and I read it in 1969, then again currently. It surprisingly retains it's relevance as the backdrop is the Silk Road which has been heavily bombed after years of war. I love cultural geography books and this one is at the top of the game.

After I finished that book I wanted to read more about the region so got onto Amazon to see if they had anything relevant or interesting.  I found The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan which 238 readers had given 4.5 stars.  The author does a remarkable job of condensing 5,000 years of world history into 500 pages. It was a slow read and I found myself picking it and putting it down, trying to digest the interrelationship of western civilization with the rest of the known world. If you read nothing else, read the last chapter, or the last two chapters!

This reminded me of another book that I had enjoyed years ago - Caravans by James Michener and I bought this too, this time from Dudley's, a local and very cool Indy bookstore.  Michener wrote this over 50 years ago and his Afghanistan then is just relevant than it was when he wrote it.

The narrator is a Yale man, posted by the State Department to Kabul who ends up inadvertently striking up an unlikely friendship with an American-educated Afghani engineer who has a passionate vision for his country's future. I'm glad this was my book because I ended up writing all through it, but the thing that made me the most sad was when the engineer quipped, "Do you know what I expect...seriously? When a thousand men like me have rebuilt Kabul and made it as best as The City once was, either the Russians or the Americans will come with their airplanes and bomb it to rubble."

I had received a prepublication copy The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach about the same time and since it's set in Belarus, it seemed on-topic to me.  It ended up being what I call a stick-to-your-ribs book, it's going to hang around in my thoughts for a while.  I have never read anything like it.  I kept trying to pigeon-hole it, thinking this is what Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward would look like as a YA book, but that wasn't quite right so I thought, this is a Russian version of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars but it was so much more than that.  It's a coming of age story for children who won't have the opportunity to come of age.

What do you say about a hospital in Belarus that exists to serve children born with birth defects following the Chernobyl meltdown?  The beginning is a little awkward as our narrator Ivan, born with multiple birth defects, introduces his fellow "asylum inmates."  The hospital staff are less than admirable with the exception of one extraordinary and wonderfully compassionate nurse.  Ivan and leukemia-patient Polina strike up an unlikely friendship followed by romance in the face of their devastating odds, and it is their pluck and determination to live and thrive that are at the heart of this book.  For the subject matter, it's surprisingly easy to read.

For Christmas Ian had given me My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish author who won the Nobel-Prize prize in literature.  Pamuk does a great job of putting faces on lives of 16th century Istanbul. This was a good companion book to The Silk Roads.  However, by the end of 400 pages I had grown impatient with their Islamic rule of order. One man noted "my dearly departed mother advised me that there were two types of people in the world: those who were cowed and crushed by their childhood beatings, forever downtrodden, she said, because the beatings had the desired effect of killing the inner Devils: and those fortunate ones for whom the beatings frightened and tamed the devil within without killing him off." If you liked Humberto Eco's book The Name of the Rose, I think you will like this.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Happy February!!

I must say that February looks an awful lot like January which looked an awful lot like December.  Mind you, I'm not complaining.  We're getting used to parking on the snow and ice and wearing snow boots for daily footwear..It's just that I've never lived anywhere so cold that snow doesn't melt in between storms.  It's good weaving weather, that's for sure.


It's good for knitting too.  I finished Owen's birthday bear and got it out in the mail today.  This little blue bear is handspun blue-face Leicester that I put in an indigo pot a couple of years ago at Mim's house.  The dye came off on my hands while I was knitting so once I was done, he got a good dousing in a vinegar bath to fix the color.  Either that worked or else I was finally able to rinse out the residual dye.
Laura was in Bend today and stopped by before going home to Prineville.  She wanted to see what I was working on so I showed her the second set of confetti towels.  She said they're the tide pool colors of her DIL's kitchen and she bought the one on the left.

And speaking of dish towels, this is Pat Clark, our amazing instructor and mentor to many at the class critique last Saturday.  She gave us a new assignment and again two periods of open studio, so at the Monday night session Sue brought up my colorful dishtowels.  She bought several towels from me at the guild holiday sale last November.  Pat stopped by visit Mary Wonser with whom I was sharing a booth and ended up buying a couple towels too.  Helen announced she was tired of hearing about my wonderful towels.  She wanted to SEE them.  So they asked me to bring them to the final class session this Saturday.

As I was leaving our open studio session today, Pat reminded me to bring my woven items and to not be embarrassed to attach price tags.  I told her that I've been setting examples aside and hoped it would be okay if I talk a little about color blending in weaving.  She loved it so I'm going to get to talk a little about optical color blending.  I think they're going to be blown away by iridescence.  I know I am.
I started a dish towel warp in the bright happy colors of zinnias.  I've been a little frazzled this week and was squeezing out a few minutes here and there, and as you all know, haste makes waste.  I was short four warp threads.  The few times I've done this before have resulted in a tangled mess so in desperation I wound nine years of the missing threads onto a TP roll and secured it with a sock looper.  I posted this to 4-Shaft Weaving on Facebook and another weaver said that when this has happened to her, she winds the yardage onto a bobbin in a heavy shuttle and sets it on the floor for tension.  I will definitely keep that in mind.
I had some time today to start dressing my loom.  I cannot wait to see how these colors build and develop when the optical color blending happens.  I was careful to make sure that there's a light value in each pair.  I have an example I'll show on Saturday of two analogous colors with the same value that lost their way.  I'm a little nervous about talking to art school artists about color but at the same time I'm really excited about it.