Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vermeer Light

Some yarns either in progress or finally complete. Evidence of projects long in the thought process.

Knithound Dyed SW BFL 2 ply lace Samba

The 2 ply lace yarn started as Superwash BFL, dyed by me back around Easter using Kool Aid. Then I spun it super thin on a Bosworth Mini spindle - the one I bought at Mass Sheep and Wool in May. It took forever and I finally just got tired of the whole thing so I still have almost 12 grams left from the original 2 oz. The smaller skein was my attempt at plying on a larger spindle but I realized I didn't have the patience so I switched over to my wheel and produced the larger skein. All in all, there's about 344 yards of super thin 2 ply lace yarn here, and I have no earthly idea what I will do with it. This was more an experiment to see just how thin a yarn I could make. I call the yarn Samba. Shake it up.

Knithound Dyed SW BFL 2 ply lace - Samba

Southern Cross Fibres, Binary Sunset, spun onto one bobbin, 4 oz. This will eventually be plied with 2 plys of Hello Yarn Alpine to make a nice, round 3 ply yarn. I want to make a sweater and use the handspun in the yoke. I've been thinking about this one for months. I hope I don't screw it up.

SCF Binary Sunset singles 2

These photos remind me of Dutch painter Jan Vermeer. The colors of the yarn, combined with the blue pillow and the light. I should use a tripod to shoot these days with the wan November light, especially with the Northern exposure from my office window.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I will be busy cleaning, cooking, eating and maybe knitting a bit. Family arrives in the next 24 hours and I have much more to do.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beyond Knitting

Lest you get to believing all I think about day and night is Knitting and Spinning, let me show you some things that have my attention lately.

First up, a photographer named Richard Barnes with a new series out on National Geographic wherein he photographed mummified animals; these were sacred pets of the Egyptian Pharaohs and kings. These are eerie and fascinating at the same time. There's a slide show over on the NG web site worth checking out. Tell me what you think.

Earlier in his career he photographed starlings in Rome, look at this, it's amazing. If you head over to his web site http://www.richardbarnes.net/index.html you can see a whole series they are fascinating.

I am always interested in depictions of animals. The taxidermy photos on his website are also compelling. They draw me in but repulse me at the same time. I guess that's what he wanted.

I have the same reaction when I look at Walton Ford's paintings. He had a show at the Brooklyn Museum nearly two years ago and it still resonates with me. I've been a Walton Ford fan since forever, and made sure to see his show at the Paul Kasmin Gallery when it came through.

His paintings are huge, super saturated in color and lurid. They harken back to Audubon, but they also tell the story that lies beneath the surface. The terrible history, the one that no one wants to believe happened. There's an impending doom in Ford's paintings and that's what is so fascinating.

Again, this tension of fascination and repulsion. I love that so much about both these artists. They both straddle that edge; they make art you need to experience with your brain and your gut; the work goes way beyond mere decoration.

Lots of people call themselves artists these days. It's so easy! I'll never forget, back when I was heavy into Photography (you'd never know, would you), I remember a guy rolling his eyes and saying "Everybody calls themselves a photographer these days". Today it's 'artist". I think it debases the true meaning of artist when anyone and everyone can appropriate the title. It's almost offensive. But for nothing else, it certainly forces me to put some effort into discerning who is and who is not an artist. Not that I am the world's leading authority on who is and who is not an artist. But sheesh. Come on, this age of entitlement does not mean you can just call yourself and artist and poof! You are one!

There's a book I saw today in Barnes & Noble, I'd love to have it someday: Bird, by Andrew Zuckerman. Gorgeous photographs of birds. Go have a look at the slide show, it's interactive so be sure to pop it into full screen mode and then tell me what you think. See? Now, it reminded me of Walton Ford and of Audubon, and it reminded me of another book I have in my collection already - Survivors, by James Balog, in which animals on the verge of extinction are photographed against white backdrops.

Oh and did you see the crow photograph? Recent chatter on the subject of crows got me curious, so I ordered up a book called Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. Now, when I ordered, I thought it would give me more insight into crow behavior. I've always been a Raptor fan but paid little mind to the Corvids. Well, this book did connect a few dots, but it was more than that. Haupt's story of the crow was a way to weave us into the larger framework of humans, animals and the urban environment. From the crow observations and her stories, Haupt reminds us that we don't need to travel for miles to observe nature. It's all around us.

I still want to learn more about the Crow behavior and there are other books that can show me the way. Okay so the thread here, about art, about photography and about the natural world and the urban environment. Mostly it's about the observing, the seeing, the links to the visceral and to the cerebral. No real conclusions but for my whine about 'artists'. Just more about keeping it real.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There's More Than Tweed In My Future

What am I up to these days? Goodness all around. There's definitely a bounce in my step, a bit of a smile, anticipation and excitement.

Tweed vest back

And, there's tweedy knitting happening! Enough to put a smile on the face of any knitter. The yarn has percolated in the stash far too long. I'd set it aside to make this vest for PhotoMan. But he deemed it too 'thick', fearing it would make him look fat. Oh, brother!

No amount of convincing could change his mind and I decided life is too short. I'll make it for myself. And with November being declared Vestvember, what better time than NOW!

The pattern, Dr G's Memory Vest, designed by Kirsten in honor of her father, who suffered from Alzheimers as so many parents do. I know, my Mom is heading there. What a lovely pattern, the knitting just flows, the rhythm easy to pick up.

Tweed Vestember Vest

I've finished the back in less than a week. Furious knitting between classes and studying, on breaks and during travel. Studying?! Cramming, really. 17 out of 20 classes complete, an exam coming up soon. An Important Exam. One that will change my life completely and which I am so excited and eager to take on.

November Knit and Study

God willing, this Vest will be a marker in time for me, that time when I made a huge decision and decided it is so right, so real and I am so ready.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cigar Gloves

My friend P (affectionately P-Diddy) is a huge cigar fan. It's one of those things he takes great pleasure in, no matter what the weather. He and his cronies get together for drinks and dinner and they usually wind up their evenings with a cigar, living the good life. While cigars are not necessarily my thing, for awhile Photo-Man also enjoyed them. In fact there's still a stash of them somewhere, though not nearly as huge as my yarn and fiber stash.

Cigar Gloves in the wild

So P's birthday came around again this year and I vowed this time I would produce what I had promised a year ago! And I wanted them to be perfect. As in all things I knit. Which of course makes me a bit crazed in the execution but it's all for the best.

Naturally, in the quest for perfection we needed several beers discussions. First, there was the time I carefully measured his hands. That might have been over a year ago? I know I recorded the statistics in my Blackberry! I ordered the yarn and then promptly moved on to other knitting projects. Guilty. As the birthday approached this year, it was a great excuse for more beers discussions and this time I produced a half finished sample.

I riffed a bit from a Knitty pattern I'd queued up ages ago. Only for some reason I thought a 3" ribbed cuff would be too much, and chose a 1.5" ribbed cuff. And I jazzed it up a bit with the gold edge color but that took a few attempts to get the right balance - not too much, not too over the top. P is a down the middle kinda guy dressing wise.

Well, he was pleased but I was not. Turns out the short cuff bothered me. And the fit was not quite right. Several evenings of working up different variations I concluded that the pattern as written made the most sense. A 3" ribbed cuff fits and knitting the entire glove on size 5 dpns just fits better and makes a warm, dense fabric when using Cascade 220. Such a versatile, workhorse of a yarn.

Now, knitting fingers is a bit fiddly, I will admit. And because of that and the fact that I essentially knit the equivalent of four gloves to make a pair, the project took a bit longer than I originally anticipated, meaning I missed the birthday again!

Cigar gloves at RR station

I took advantage of that nice day a week ago to get some shots of these gloves, while we coordinated schedules. This time, it was lunch, not beers and no cigars, but these gloves do work well for checking email on Blackberrys too! Ah, modern life. I'm sure P-Diddy would prefer more cigars and less email...

Cigar Gloves for P-Diddy

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Yea. It's Come to This.

Lately I've become enamored of The Onion. I guess I just need a good giggle, and they have a steady stream of content worth a good chuckle.

Entire Office Unsure What To Do About Bawling Coworker

November 6, 2009

Bawling Coworker

Human resources personnel have not yet ruled out the possibility of a missed birthday.

FINDLAY, OH—The entire office staff of Altman & Hanson Accounting remained utterly baffled as to what, if anything, should be done in response to the prominent sobbing coming from the cubicle of 36-year-old clerk Jack Underwood, sources reported today.

Underwood, who has been employed by the accounting firm since 2004, reportedly began weeping sometime after 10:15 a.m. and has not shown any indication of stopping.

"He's just in there crying and crying—what are we supposed to do?" said coworker David Hammond, who was not aware of any medical or emotional issues Underwood might have. "At first I thought there might be an-other round of layoffs coming, but [office manager] Sophie told me that wasn't the case, so at least I know that whatever the sobbing is about, it doesn't affect me."

"But still, jeez, I hope he's okay in there," Hammond continued.

Other staff members were also at a loss as to how to approach the crying man. Junior partner Russell Hanson told reporters that he had "absolutely no clue" what to say to Underwood and decided to ask administrative assistant Emily Koe to go talk to the tearful coworker, seeing as she is "a woman and all."

"I really would, but I just don't know him well enough," said Koe, who has worked with Underwood for more than four years. "Someone should call his wife. If he has one."

Thus far, office sources have only been able to speculate as to why the crying is taking place. Accountant James DuBois, who was the first to discover Underwood's uncontrollable sobbing when he stopped by his office and awkwardly dropped off some receipts, said he was pretty sure Underwood did not have any dead or dying pets, but suggested the clerk might be upset about his recent passing over for promotion to senior clerk.

"No one knows why he's crying so hard, but then most people here don't know his last name, either," DuBois said. "I'm not sure what everybody expects me to do about it. After all, it's not like I can just walk up to the guy and, you know, ask him what's wrong."

"He talks to Amy," added DuBois, referring to audit manager Amy Case, who is currently on vacation. "Can somebody go get Amy?

Other theories as to the source of the crying include: recent diagnosis with a degenerative disease; some sort of family crisis; overall loneliness; or probably just something senior accounts representative Paul Greenblatt did. Unfortunately, because Underwood rarely ever talks to his coworkers about subjects other than work, there is little information to confirm or deny these speculations.

Nevertheless, office sources were nearly unanimous in reporting that the sobbing was becoming increasingly upsetting to them and, perhaps more importantly, was making it really difficult to concentrate.

"I feel bad for him, but the least he could do is go out to the stairwell to do his wailing," said Bob Cho, a tax specialist with the firm. "I wish he would just go home, to tell you the truth."

At press time, staff members were considering a variety of plans, including calling Underwood's parents, calling someone in Human Resources, sending Underwood an e-mail featuring a lighthearted Internet video, or just leaving for lunch and hoping that he is gone by the time they return. But whatever the solution eventually turns out to be, the only thing that seems certain is that nobody wants to go over there and deal with him directly.

"Maybe he just hates his job," said one coworker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "That's usually my reason when I start crying and can't stop."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Zombie Buckets

That last yarn I made was destined to hit the needles right away. The colors came out great, and the yarn is well balanced and even. You'll recall it's a 3 ply, which I think looks great worked up in stockinette rather than garter stitch. I had plenty of yardage, the gauge knit up nicely to 4.5 stitches on a #7 needle. All signs pointed to a hat, and maybe end up with yarn left over! Yay!

Close up Zombie

This pattern, A Better Bucket by Amy Swenson has been in my queue for ages. I even bought some bright Malabrigo for it but then never got around to knitting it up. Well, Shannon was wearing a cute tweed version up at Rhinebeck and that triggered my memory to go back and look at the pattern again. After winding and then swatching during the weekend subway rides, my plan was set.

Tip of hat

Two days later a new favorite hat is born! I was so excited about it I skipped the necessary blocking stage to wear it today. I had to travel out to Long Island so while waiting to be picked up from the Farmingdale LIRR station, I used the beautiful day to snap some action shots of the hat in the field.

This pattern represents my first attempt at Provisional Cast On. It took about four or five attempts to get it sort of right at the start, but I think I have the hang of it now. I was wondering when I would have the occasion to use something other than the standard Long Tail Cast On, which seems to be the only method I really know! Hm. I have to expand my skills.

the inside brim

And this is also the first time I've ever hemmed my knitting. I chose some stash Cascade 220 for the inside brim, just for contrast and to conserve the handspun yarn. The hemming was interesting. I got a bit obsessed in making sure none of the provisional live stitches ended up twisted. Most of them did, no matter how I approached them, so I had to go back and carefully turn them around. That one phase took longer than the entire rest of the project combined. More practice needed! But I am pleased with the way the hemmed edge looks now and am glad I am so obsessive with this stuff. Because it does matter!

More smiles

The yarn striped up so wonderfully! The original pattern calls for a button on the side, but honestly I don't know that this one needs it what with all the color going on and all.

a peek at the educational material

This hat will get serious rotation in the coming months. It matches my down coat and my carryall knitting bag (packed with super secret educational materials these days...), and it's a nice change from the beret and beanie styles in my collection. Can't you just picture me tromping around Brooklyn wearing this jaunty hat?!

Cute hat

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rudy Says....

Mommy is feeling much better now, and I haz a happy.

Brownstone Basset

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Glug, Glug, Glug

Tomorrow morning at daybreak I have one of those "medical procedures" that necessitates drinking tons of fluids the day before. And no food for 24 hours. Lightheaded and feeling intensely full of liquid, I cannot leave the house till it's all cleaned out. Gaah, I hate middle age!