31 August 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

As the information from my computer slips along the black wires to be copied, I reach for my yarn and needles to pass the minutes needed to complete the task. The yarn eases through my fingers and the wood slides back and forth as I knit, purl, knit, purl, knit, purl. Technology and ancient handwork seems oddly at ease with each other. Without the reach of the internet, these crafts might somehow be lost in the shuffle of new and modern and trendy. Something meant to create a slick world by easing the burden of doing things by hand, aids to keep the artists immersed in these arts connected and sharing.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

28 August 2008

i was defeated by the worms

I never thought I'd say it, but I'm officially tired of knitting. I've started three new projects in the past couple days trying to thrill myself so I think its time to let the needles and yarn take a rest before I end up purchasing enough new needles to start every project I've ever wanted to make.

So I hobbled on up to my studio and started rooting around for something art quilt related. I tend to make baskets and stash them all over the room. They are collections for certain projects of stuff that I think will go good together. So I picked a basket and scooted back downstairs to the sofa and the Dooley dog.

In the basket was these. The plan was to cut them in half so that I could sew them down to the art quilt that I wanted to use them on.

Now its important that you go back to that page and read the whole description. See the part at the bottom that says "Whole cocoons - worm has not been removed."?


I wish they printed that on the package instead of just on the website.

A smarter person may have paused when they heard something rattle inside the cocoon. Or may have even stopped to think that since there were absolutely no holes in this thing, it would stand to reason that the creature that was living inside it would still be residing there. (Only dead.)

So I got set up on the sofa, picked up the cocoons and grabbed my little embroidery scissors. I put on the first season of Project Runway (mom got the DVDs for me to watch, she understands the extreme boredom factor that comes with back injuries as she also has major issues) and settled in to chop away.

Snip, snip, snip.

One cocoon open. On to the next one.

Snip, snip, snip.

I see something fall on my shirt from the corner of my eye. What was that?

What is THAT?!?!?!!?

There, my friends, resting on my belly was an extremely dead, extremely contorted, decaying silk worm.

I did what every rational 32-year-old would do.

I screamed like a little girl, flung the scissors across the room (not sure why I did that, I should have kept them to defend myself in case one of these ugly things had survived somehow), jumped up (as quickly as someone with a back injury can) and fled the room.

I'm not proud. But I don't dig bugs. ANY bug. Don't like 'em. Won't convince me otherwise. And I don't want them ON me, dead or otherwise.

After I regained the ability to breathe, I decided to do the responsible adult thing and dispose of the nasty little things. I armed myself with an entire roll of paper towels (no kleenex for this job, I pulled out the big guns) and headed back over to the sofa. I scooped the nasty thing up while gagging and making gross noises and shoved it in the trash can as quickly as I could. (I've been thankful for the pain medication but even more so for my ability to move quicker in this situation.)

I promptly disposed of the rest of the cocoons and sat on the sofa.

That's when I noticed that there were two cocoons that had been cut open. But I only disposed of one bug.

Then I noticed Dooley sitting at the edge of the coffee table looking at me. I moved around the blanket and pillows and cushions and could not find the corpse.

I looked back and Dooley and he licked his chops.

All I have to say is I am not accepting kisses from him for a couple days.

25 August 2008

55 yards of fibery goodness

Behold, the first 55 yards of the Spice Market batt made into yarn.

I gotta say, I'm darn pleased with it too. Its by no means perfect but its got a low twist (which is what I wanted) and the color are absolutely gorgeous!

I've taken to spinning before I go to bed, which helps relieve some of the anxiety I seem to be plagued with at the moment. I'm pretty slow at this yet. At the rate I'm going I should have the 4 oz. of fiber spun up by the year 2076.

I've learned a lot off these 55 yards and considering the fact that I have/had no idea what I was doing (seriously, I just decided one day it was a good idea, grabbed the spindle and started making it go, its a "baptism by fire" kind of learning), I'm happy with what I got.

Seeing as how we haven't had a Top Ten list on the blog for a while, I thought I'd bring you one. So I give you my:

Top Ten Things I Have Learned So Far About Spinning Yarn on a Drop Spindle

1. You know how when you turn the ceiling fan on high your hair swishes about? Wool roving is also hair. It will behave the same way. Turn down the fan.

2. You can not twist lumpy spots in the roving into submission without creating areas in your yarn that resemble dental floss. Pause. Draft out the lump. Resume spinning.

3. Eyeballing your westhighland terrier's fur and wondering just how many months he would need to skip the groomer so you can spin some is the act of an irresponsible pet owner. Move along.

4. Two hints that your spindle is full: a) the yarn is sliding of the end of the spindle like you greased it with crisco and b) that little piece you keep handling along the bottom edge is getting angry and beginning to resemble felt. No one likes angry wool. Empty the spindle and begin again.

5. Curious westie + spinning spindle = disaster. Ban pets from the spinning area unless you are entertained by a dog laced with orange and rust colored roving fleeing from your shrieking.

6. If this was a few centuries ago and myself and my family's clothing were dependent on my spinning and knitting skills being speedy, we would be mostly naked, cold and whatever clothing we did have would make us look funny.

7. Spinning is like crack. Once you start, you can't stop. Do not start at 11:30pm saying you'll only "do a little." You are a dirty liar. It will be 2am before you know it, G-O T-O B-E-D.

8. Never complain about the cost of hand dyed hand spun yarn. Ever. This is not easy stuff. Respect all those spinners.

9. Spinning, like knitting, is very meditative. Only don't meditate so much that you allow the spinning spindle to get tangled in the pre-drafted unspun roving. Trying to seperate them once this has happened is like trying to swat away cob webs with scotch tape.

10. Be prepared for the lovely "wet dog" (or in this case sheep) aroma when you set the twist of the yarn in water. Be prepared to watch your dog obsessively sniff around in the bathroom as the yarn is resting in the sink. Get an air freshner so your pet doesn't loose his mind.

The only thing I'm wishing about my spindle is that it was longer so I could spin more yardage. I'm doing heavier weight yarn so I can't fit much on there, thus the stumpy skeins.

I think I'll end up with around 100-150 yards once I'm done. Any suggestions on what to knit with it?

24 August 2008

Finished Objects #7, #8, #9 & #10

Well, tonight is the closing ceremonies for the real olympics, which also means the U.F.O. Olympics are coming to a close. I think I did pretty okay, ten finished objects in fourteen days.

So these are my sock creature guys, they are a bit odd but I like them. I want to do more and probably will. The fiber art group I belong to is doing an exhibit of them at the American Sewing Expo so I would like to finish up a few more for that.

These two came out looking happy. Not sure how, but I just went with it. The one on the right has some creepy eyeballs but he likes you and is happy to see you, can't you tell?

This poor guy photographed terribly. (My camera is apparently having PMS issues tonight.) But he got into some electrical stuff and has wire wrapped around him and some doo-dads hanging off him.

I'm liking them armless. That may be a recurring thing for me, I think it makes them look more creature like. This one is wearing a button (that my SIL makes and sells) that says "ignore me." He's a somewhat stoic looking fellow so it seemed appropriate. Plus the fact that Dooley was doing all his best tricks to get my attention when I was working on finishing him and it just seemed appropriate.

So that's the mad rush for finishing. I'm actually really happy because I met a lot of deadlines without loosing any hair. I still have some things I would like to finish but they aren't as urgent and I can take a breather on it.

But right now I have a date with the sofa, my back has become cranky in the past hour or so and won't let up. So me and Dooley are going to go relax a bit.

Where I Stand Sunday

The camera stares down at its subject with no bias, no expectations, no second thoughts. It draws the image into pixels and color blocks and megabytes. The world is seen through a clear lens, always looking, always seeking. It grasps what its environment has to offer and honors it for what it is in its most simple and basic form.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

21 August 2008

i cheated

Okay, so I know I'm not supposed to start any new projects during the U.F.O. Olympics but if you could touch this batt and really see how great the colors are (my camera did a poor job showing just how rich they are), you'd understand why I couldn't leave it alone.

This is Spice Market batt from Daniela of FeltStudioUK. She is my new favorite dealer for spinning fiber. What's even more impressive is that even though she lives all the way over in the UK, I get my orders from her in the same amount of time (sometimes quicker) then things I buy from people in the states.

Drool, drool, drool.

Here's a closer look of just the spindle.

The spinning is improving but after having spun the yucky blue stuff that I didn't like and now this, I'm seeing that the quality of the batt makes a huge difference too. This stuff just kind of comes out smooth all on its own.

I decided to spin it because I'm kind of going stir crazy being cooped up in the house for so long. Which sometimes leads to crankiness and just general malice. Knitting and (now) spinning are soothing to me. I'm not good with this part of injury/recovery. I get to a point where I start crawling the walls and start to wonder just how much trouble I can get myself into poking around on the internet.

I really like the colors on this yarn. I plan to make a scarf out of it when its done. Mom is still not impressed in any way with the spinning. I think she's just jealous. She did shock me last night when she asked me to teach her to knit. Her goal is to learn how to knit socks for herself. Although she looked a bit queasy when she looked at the pair I have in progress that are sitting on the coffee table.

She asked if she has to use all those "sticks" or can she use less. (I knit socks on four double points with a fifth one for the actual knitting.) I think she is a good candidate for knitting socks on a circular needle. Of course, first she has to learn how to actually knit. I have some chunky white yarn that I'm going to show her how to make a very lovely stunning garter stitch scarf. Hopefully she takes to it.

Although there could be a battle if she starts picking at my yarn stash.

19 August 2008

Finished Objects #5 & #6

Today I finished up two little projects. The fiber art group I belong to is wrapping up a round robin this month. We exchanged pages for a fiber book. Although I confess that I plan to turn mine into a little quilt because I want to admire it all the time.

Today I did Cynthia's ( on the left ) and Mary's page (on the right).

Cynthia's book is based on a poem about candy. I had a bit of trouble coming up for something for it but the page I ended up creating reflects the verse that I got so I hope she likes it.

Mary's book is about travel. Mary and I went to the International Quilt Festival in Chicago this past april and we went ahead a couple of days early so we could actually see the city. We took the subway all the way downtown (and ended up walking into the most wicked sideways rain wind storm we've ever had the displeasure of being in) and we were goofing around taking pictures during the ride. I snapped this Where I Stand picture of both of our feet so I decided that would be a good match for her book.

And here is the page I did for Leann's book:

I finished this one quite a bit ago but can't remember if I posted it or not so I decided to do it now since it fits in with the theme. Leann's book is about symbols and for some reason I'm really into arrows lately so that's what I did.

I'm finding that I'm doing a lot more writing and graphic type drawing on my work and I like the looks of it. I'll have to keep experimenting and see where it takes me.

Next up on the project schedule is sock creatures. I have two that just need eyeballs, one that needs stuffing and eyeballs and a fourth that needs to have his body stitched up and then he gets his stuffing and eyeballs. I want to hand in more then four (our group is doing an exhibit at expo of these little devils) so I need to whip up a couple more.

Stay tuned, hopefully there will be some monsters soon.....

17 August 2008

Finshed Object #4

The finishing continues....

This is not only a small portion of the completed quilt but an incredibly crappy photo. (Give a girl a break, my back hurts and I care not about producing absolutely stunning photos. I'm happy just to capture it in the camera, my standards have lowered a bit.)

The reason that its only a small portion is that its for a competition/exhibit. I wasn't sure if I would finish it since things are a bit up in the air at the moment but I was so close to being done with it. So I worked on it over the past few days as I was able and crossed the finish line this morning.

I still need to attach a sleeve and a label and ship it out and fill out the entry form...but what the heck? I'll call it finished. (I hate that other stuff. Bleh.)

I've also decided that I could be in an advertisement for the macbook pro. I've been updating my website while laying on the sofa (not reclining, we're talking completely horizontal) with my laptop strategically situated on my stomach. It was a bit of a challenge at first but I've got the hang of it and I'm confident the Breaking Traditions online catalog will publish without a hitch.

In the meantime, Dooley has been suffering from a severe case of cabin fever. I operate as his feeder/groomer/playmate and since I went down with my back problems he has turned a shade of grey (he needs a bath and a haircut), he has had to rely on mom's cooking (all he gets is kibble but he told me I make it better then she does) and I've not been much of an entertainment source.

But today he was in a bouncy good mood and kept nudging me with his nose trying to convince me it was a good idea to join him in his glee. Seeing as how I can't chase him around the house like I ususally do (what? doesn't everyone play tag with their pets?) or take him for a long walk, I did the next best thing...

I took out my camera and taunted him with it. He is skiddish of the noises it makes and it was enough to set him off to running around the house in circles. I dragged myself off the sofa and just stood in one spot and waved it at him and actually managed to get a good shot of him playing:

Isn't he short?

With that said, I'm going to go lay back down and watch some T.V. I've been leaving it off all day because, to be honest, its been getting on my flippin' nerves. But there are some things on in the evening that I like to watch so it works out.

Stay tuned, there are seven more days left of the Olympics so that means there could be more finished objects posted along the way....

Where I Stand Sunday

The wool and alpaca fibers pool at my feet in a cloud. The spindle rolls in one hand while the other helps the raw fibers find new purpose. The process turns to meditation and the mind stills as the rest of the world hums by.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

14 August 2008

Finished Object #3

Above is the third U.F.O. that can now be moved to the completed column of my list.

This is my art quilt for my exhibit, Breaking Traditions. Its much simpler then I normally work but it has a real homey comforting feel to it and that's what I was aiming for. I don't know if you can tell from the picture but I stitched it within an inch of its life so that made me happy. (I LOVE hand embroidery.) It is called "A Place to Bark" and it honors Bernie Berlin's nonprofit dog rescue by the same name, A Place to Bark. Bernie rescues dogs, rehabilitates them and then finds them what she calls "forever" homes.

She's truly an angel on earth, check out her blog (link above) to see the little lovelies that she rescues. It'll definitely make you smile. :)

I think I will spend this evening putting labels on the backs of things. One of my least favorite things to do, by the way.

I have a much larger art quilt that is calling my name that wants to be the next victim in the U.F.O. Olympics but I don't know if my back will be up to all the vertical time required to finish it. I may end up breaking a rule and working on it here and there when I am able to rather then all at once. Girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do and I'm kind of a slave to my back right now so I'll figure it out.

The finishing parade will continue! Stay tuned!

13 August 2008

Finished Object #2

The U.F.O. Olympic parade continues...

Here is the second finished object:

I finished spinning that blue roving that I am not fond of and designated as practice roving for me to abuse while I get the hang of spinning with a drop spindle.

Its better and I credit the top whorl spindle that I got. I found it far easier to spin with that one then the bottom whorl spindle I had hiding in my studio.

I also got this book and this book and have learned that the method that I'm using to spin the yarn produces thinner weight yarn. And to be honest, that's not really my goal. I want yarn that looks more like this:

I know this is commercially spun but I like the chubby look of it. The books told me to try supported spindle spinning to get thicker yarn. Since I know nothing, I will trust the books and give that a try the next time.

Things are not well on the back front. I'll be having surgery before the year is out but I'm hoping to put it off for a couple more months. There are some things to research in terms of what type of surgery so it will be a while yet anyway.

In the meantime I plan to entertain myself with more fibery things. I have some little bitty art quilts that are calling my name that I can easily stitch on while laying on the sofa. So I should have a couple more finished objects soon...

Stay tuned!

11 August 2008

Finished Object #1

In keeping with my self-imposed U.F.O. Olympics, I am excited to present the first U.F.O. to be completed.

May I present Frog in a Party Dress socks:

And here they are on their proud new owner:

Mom squealed, Dooley looked confused and me? I'm just glad to be done with the girly yarn. Nothing but dark colors and extremely LARGE needles for the next project.

So that's one U.F.O. that has been removed from the list. I need to pick the next victim. Not sure what it will be next as it needs to be something friendly in terms of me laying on the sofa. Knitting lends itself particularly well to that.

Stay tuned....

10 August 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

It is candy apple red toenails painted by a friend for my amusement. It is the soft cushion of new grass beneath bare feet. It is the smack of the raindrops on the leaves. It is the touch of my mother’s hand on the back of my head as she walks past. It is the sigh of my dog as he settles beside me to wait things out. Patience and life’s pleasures are found in the smallest dots of the day. Seconds pool into minutes and hours and days and weeks. This pause is something of a bizarre gift as the world and I get to know each other again.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

08 August 2008

U.F.O. Olympics

So I'm sitting here watching the Opening Ceremonies for the summer olympics (some impressive stuff, by the way) and I got to thinking about the Ravelympics going on over at Ravelry. The basic idea behind it is that you cast on for a knitting project during the opening ceremonies and you have the 17 days of the olympics to complete the project.

I admit, I was tempted to participate. After all, I've got a bone to pick with a couple new projects that weren't cooperating the other day but then I really stopped and thought, "Boy, that's dumb, I've got so many things already started..."

I wandered up to my studio and just kind of stood in the doorway and looked at what was going on in there.

Lots and lots and lots of half finished projects, some with due dates coming up fairly quickly.

So I'm doing my own version of the olympics and since I'm not able to move too far from the couch, its going to be fairly un-strenuous (is that a word?).

I'm going to do the U.F.O. (Unfinished Objects) Olympics.

Here are the basic rules I plan to follow:

1) The project must already be started. It doesn't matter if its half done or just started. Just not something new.

2) The size and scope of the project doesn't matter. It can be as simple as finishing knitting a pair of socks (can you tell mom is frothing at the mouth for her pair?) or completing the quilting for a large quilt. Quantity of projects completed does not matter, just shoot for finishing at least ONE thing.

3) You must finish one thing before moving on to another U.F.O. Again, the whole goal is completion, completion, completion. Flitting about with fiber art ADD will not get you anything.

Won't you join me? Drag out those projects! Finish them up! Clean off the work table in your studio! Wipe the slate clean!

Ready? Set? GO!!!

06 August 2008

the socks will not be denied

I'm still down for the count on this end of the world. Can't really say if its getting better since one day it seems to be and the next its cranky as hell. The MRI on friday ought to set things straight. So enough of that, moving on to the interesting things...

I'm still amusing myself with all things yarn. I can knit and crochet laying down pretty well and finished up this cute little crocheted scarf in no time:

In a fit of boredom, I tortured Dooley with modeling it. He did not appreciate it as you can tell from his refusal to even look at me when I was taking the picture. But I think it shows off the scarf pretty well.

I also messed around more with spinning during my vertical moments of the day.

I'm not super crazy about the color of this roving I found in my studio. I had bought it for felting but it mostly just looks white when its felted (don't like that either) so I thought it would make good practice roving for spinning.

This still isn't stellar but its not too bad. I need to take more time to draft the yarn better and I put waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy too much twist into it. (I was totally enthralled by the fact that the roving was looking like yarn and just kept putting more twist into it. I need someone to stand beside me and scream "STOP!" when I get overzealous...) I still have about half of the roving left in this color so I will try again when I'm feeling up to it. I'm totally hooked, can't stop thinking about it....must...spin...more...yarn.......

So I figured since things were going pretty smoothly in the yarn department that I would take this time to knit a couple things that I've been wanting to start for a while.

The first being this extremely pretty lace scarf called Rivolo from Anne Hanson of knitspot. She is my idol when it comes to lace knitting and really, I want to be like Anne when I grow up. So I got the Rivolo pattern and pulled out some pretty fingering weight yarn that is just perfect for this. I tried knitting it with my regular bamboo needles...um...yeah. Now I understand why they make needles specifically for lace knitting.

My mom even went out to the local yarn shop and picked up the correct needles for me. That's how badly I wanted to knit this thing.

Here's how its going:

As I cast on for it, I thought to myself, "I should really work on finishing mom's socks..." I've heard tell that lace requires a lot of concentration and I swear I was paying attention to the pattern but no matter how many times I tried it, it wouldn't cooperate. I ripped it back three times before giving up. (I think lace also prefers for its creator to be sitting up when its knitted so I'll have to give that a go later.)

So then I decided to try this scarf from the latest spin-off magazine I picked up when all this started:

Pretty huh? And its a simple pattern. Here's how that one is going:

I again had the guilty feeling that I should really be working on mom's socks since I figure I have approximately 1,345,65,711 stitches left to go on them (the bright pink and lime green color is beginning to wear, next time she gets black socks) but still, I cast on for the scarf and....ripped that one back three times as well.


I can take a hint.

So I've been knitting on the socks.

How much do you think I need to do before they let me wander off to another project? Yeah, that's what I thought too...*sigh* pink and lime green...lime green and pink...knit around and around and around...pink...pink...lime...pink...uuuuugggghhhhhh...

03 August 2008

Where I Stand Sunday

The body and the mind often have different agendas. Where one becomes broken, the other seeks to soldier on. The healing is slow and impatience creeps around the edges, blurring peripheral vision, bringing in the corners. The possibilities of what lie ahead weighs heavy and the burden presses down.

Where I Stand Sunday is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

01 August 2008

slugfest : day 3

Still hangin' out on the sofa, still picking on the dog, still dragging books downstairs from my bedroom to my camp in the living room.

I've discovered that I can blog laying down, which means I can also surf the web. Which means I need to make sure the sites I visit do not take paypal because I'm not horribly motivated to get up and get my credit card. (Sometimes retail therapy totally hits the spot. I have worked very hard to not browse through etsy, they are the devil. Awesome resource for yarn, by the way.)

I decided to peruse youtube yesterday. There is some funny stuff on there, some stuff that should have stayed on the home video recorder but more importantly? There are TONS of instructional videos on there! Who knew?

I found some awesome knitting ones and also some on making yarn with a drop spindle from this chick. She has three videos, showing you how to prep the yarn, how to spin it and how to finish it off. I got all twitchy when I found it because, ya know, the spin-off magazine I bought is tempting me into yet another area of fiber arts.

I remembered I had a drop spindle upstairs, hobbled up there (one can only lay for so long before you just gotta move, no matter how much it hurts) and dug out some roving I had laying around.

Ten minutes later I had this:

That, my friends, is eight yards of the absolute worst hand spun yarn ever created.

And I did it.

And I love it.

That is all it took, I'm hooked. I want to make more. I have visions of mixing my hand spun yarn into scarves and other various knitty and crochet things. Although after making this I can understand why the wheel was invented. But for my purposes I'm content to keep learning with the spindle. I am starting to wonder if I bought a bass ackwards spindle, though. The disc thingie (can you tell I'm new??) is at the bottom and the hook thingie (which I think is actually its name) is at the opposite end...which made it a complete pain in the behind to get a good spin going.

Every other spindle I've seen in the magazine I bought and in the video on youtube and online have the disc thingie and hook thingie on the same end. Anyone know if this makes it easier to spin?

On another note, a major blow has been dealt to my boredom factor. Jackie dropped off entertainment today. A bag full of DVDs and two Christopher Moore books (another author I recently discovered who is hysterically funny and I highly recommend.)

The bag also contained this DVD:

Yes, the irony of this is not lost of me. Well played my friends. (I suspect Victor is responsible for this one but I have no proof.) Made me giggle so it was well worth it.

Inside that bag was also a couple box sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've not seen those before and I think they will keep me busy for a while. Thanks Jackie! (Mom and Dooley also thank you.) I'm going to go watch them now.