30 January 2009

the definition of irony

Not too long ago Mary showed me a new magazine she had just discovered. Its a funny and witty and very entertaining quilt publication. Its Quilter's Home from Mark Lipinski. So when she sent me a link to Mark's blog today, I was really surprised by what I found there.

In the most recent issue of the magazine, there is an article dealing with art quilts that have provoked controversy when they were exhibited at different quilt shows. Mark offers a very good description of the article on his blog. (You may have to click the blog link found in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts has banned the most current issue due to this article.

They are censoring a magazine because its discussing art quilts that have been banned or censored for one reason or another.

Does anyone see the irony in this?

I have to say that I am really appalled by this. Especially from a store that so many art quilters go to to buy their supplies from.

I may not always agree with the subject of an art piece or an essay or a debate or a movie. But what I will always agree with is your right to stand up and talk about it. I guess I'm still naive enough to be surprised by Jo-Ann Fabric's decision.

I say keep making the controversial art that makes people stutter and think. Rock on.

29 January 2009

Art in Stitches exhibit - please join us for the opening reception!

I am very honored to be one of nine artists exhibiting fiber art in a new show at the Northville Art House in Northville, MI. Here is the description from the exhibit postcard:

The Northville Art House is proud to present an exhibit that celebrates the creativity of fiber arts. From traditional to non-traditional techniques using cloths, fibers and mixed media, this exhibit highlights the unique styles of nine Michigan artists. Featured artists: Ann Avery, Boisali Biswas, Juliana Cerra, Anne Hiemstra, Sidney Savage Inch, Lynn Krawczyk, Jackie Lams, Linda Larsen and Joan Potter Thomas.

The exhibit runs from February 6-22, 2009. The Northville Art House is located at 215 W. Cady Street in Northville, Michigan.

There is an opening reception on Friday February 6 from 6pm-9pm.
Please stop by and say hello!

25 January 2009

Where I Stand Sunday

Its like looking inside a daydream, trying to see through to the other side. It is a temporary state, this fluid solidness. A pause in existence, a stutter before its full potential can be molded into something touchable. The sunlight becomes trapped inside it, pushing around auditions of what it can be, what it wants to be, what its meant to be.

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.

24 January 2009

fiber and ice

Its turning out to be quite the artful weekend.

Last night Mary and I went out to the opening reception at the 212 Arts Center in Saline, Michigan for our friend Kat's new solo show, Color Therapy. Kat has a very whimsical sense and all of her work is extremely fun. It was really exciting to see all her new work in one place. Well done Kat!

I, of course, forgot to bring my camera with me. But luckily other people were more together then me. You can see pictures of her show here, here and here. Really awesome stuff.

This morning when I left the house to run errands, I remembered that the Plymouth Ice Festival is on this weekend so I decided to swing by and take a quick look. I admit that I don't always go since walking around in really cold temperatures looking at things that are even colder then I am doesn't always thrill me. But I figured what the heck and went (and remembered the camera this time).

The sculptures were impressive - and a couple of them were a wee bit sarcastic (which I totally loved).

Its kind of hard to tell in this picture but this poor sculpture is attempting to make a fire. It doesn't seem to care that doing so would pretty much signal the end of its very existence, its too cold. (What does it mean when ice thinks its too cold? That might be a bad sign...)

Here is an attempt to deny winter all together and bring about warmer temperatures through sheer willpower alone.

A marriage proposal in ice...I thought this was sweet. It was at the base of a really huge sculpture, kind of hidden. (I took a picture of the whole thing but the sun did its thing when it shone through the ice and turned into a blinding spotlight of burning lasers so needless to say, it didn't turn out.)

I liked this moose, I thought he looked friendly.

And it was nice to see our new president in attendance.

I've not gotten out and about much to see different things since I hurt my back last July so it was nice to tool around and finally get to see some of the going ons.

But now I'm home where its warm and Dooley dog is snoring. So I'm going to go knit. Its warm and doesn't involve anything being frozen which is pretty much a bonus right now.

18 January 2009

the diet theory

So you know how when you start a diet and you look at the foods you shouldn't have and then you end up thinking about all the things you shouldn't eat even if you don't have them often? And in the end all it does is make you crave it and want to eat it?

That's sort of what happened in the studio today.

I've been content with my decision to just let things rest and allowing my focus to smoosh into pretty much nothing. I was knitting away on mom's sock this morning and realized that I have a challenge coming due for the fiber art group that I belong to. The idea for it has been sitting in my head for a while so I sat on the floor in my studio and puttered around for a while.

I came up with this:

Its incredibly abstract (its about crop circles) and its very collage-y and I think its a start in a different direction. (Although I could be wrong about it. Still looks a lot like me. Maybe its just the start of the change. Don't know. Moving on...) It sort of got away from me but I'm intrigued by it. That's not to say that I'm in love with it but its got my wheels turning (can you smell the smoke?).

Since I had already made a mess all over my work table (and lost the lid to my brand new jar of black gesso that I can't find any where and have even dug through the trash looking for and really how does a lid just disappear into thin air and am now using saran wrap and a rubber band to keep it from drying out and no I'm not bitter or disgusted about it why do you ask?), I decided to face the other project that I keep putting on hold for one reason or another.

For a long time I've been wanting to do something with my Where I Stand photos. But an art quilt never seemed right. I felt the stitching would ruin the impact of the picture so I kept shoving the whole project around the edges of my studio and ignoring it.

But I think I might have the format that suits it:

Its not done yet but its getting there. I know the final things I want to do with it and I think it will make doing these really interesting. My hope is to get enough done to approach a gallery for a show with them. But there is a lot of work to be done yet before I can think about that.

I do need to find a better way to attach the photo. Its printed on fabric and I used glue on this one but it didn't play nice in some spots. Which luckily this photo absorbed with a grace I was grateful for but I don't want to repeat the mistake. Maybe some kind of industrial strength tape...I'll have to do some research.

I also need some new paint. I use some general inexpensive craft stuff and I've been pretty satisfied with it. I've used it on everything, including fiber work. Its not intended for fabric (ruins the softness and isn't washable) but my stuff hangs on a wall and doesn't get handled too fiercely so that's never been a concern. But the bottles I have now are a strange combination of globby boogers and liquid. They've gotten old.

I did look around at some other paint brands but it kind of kills me to spend almost $6 on 2oz. of acrylic paint. So I'm going to go bumming around a couple stores tomorrow and see if there are any new brands I can try out before replacing the globby ones I have now.

It would seem that I'm starting to inch into that new direction I've been babbling about. Its an odd thing...this whole making things business.

It never ceases to surprise.

a year's review of artwork

I've seen these mosaics on several other blogs and I always kind of just cringe when I see them. I never really think I make much in the course of a year, mostly because my interests are all over the place, especially now that I've added writing into the mix. Seems like there are always so many options of what I can be doing that I never really think I've done all that much.

Deb did a mosaic on her new blog and I decided to go ahead and see if I could find enough stuff to make one too. (Of course, I am no where near what she and Kat have done for the year. Holy cow, those two make me tired just reading their blogs, its amazing.)

I scrounged up 27 photos, not bad. (I know the mosaic shows 28 but a duplicate snuck in there and I was too darn lazy to go yank it out. If you click on the whole thing it gets way bigger.) There may have been a few other things here and there but this is what I had pictures of. I think its a fairly nifty tool, it really puts things into perspective.

I'm hoping to do more this year. If you want to do one too, go here. Its a nifty little tool.

Where I Stand Sunday

Where one exists the other easily sets about to erase it. It’s a macabre dance of opposites, one that light and dark engage in without hesitation. Each one provides its own mystery, a draw that makes us linger to watch how the edges blur and coil in on each other. It is beautiful in its own right, the first step for every new beginning.

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.

17 January 2009

ok seriously, enough already...

You know, I've come to accept a pretty wide range of neurotic weather behavior living in Michigan my whole life.

And I even handled the whole -20F temperature thing with a fair amount of grace (which translates to minimal swearing).

But now its snowing...sideways.

Its coming down at a fairly impressive clip, has been all day, and every time I let Dooley out for potty I'm sure I'm going to get frostbite on the spot. (Strangely enough it does not deter little man. He doesn't mind the snow or the frigid temperatures. In fact, he'll linger outside to play in this weather. It still amazes me.)

Hey Mother Nature, if you're listening...we cry uncle already! Go play with some other states now, I think you've tortured us plenty for a while.

16 January 2009

the return of socks

I don't know if anyone has noticed but there has been a complete and utter lack of sock knitting on my end for a little while now. I have to publicly admit that the reason for this is because I became so intensely frustrated with the last pair I was working on, Mexican Monarchs, that I banished them and refused to work on them anymore.

Now that I started a new pair for mom, I decided it was time to pull out the little traitors and see what could be done about them.

Why are they traitors? Well, let me tell you...

Anything that refuses to fit you properly after you spend hours and hours creating it (and yes, I did a gauge swatch before beginning!!! I did! I swear!) is highly offensive in my book. Imagine the nerve of it. (This would be why I am not a sweater knitter, I don't think I could handle the betrayal. Honestly, I read Yarnhog's blog and I don't know how she handles it, the woman has nerves of steel.)

Here they are:

They are pretty much done. One needs a couple more inches of foot and then they both need toe decreases, not really that much work left. Took me a while to get over it but now that I have a new pair on needles that are playing nice with me (and the temperatures are -2000F and we are supposed to get more snow which makes wool socks very appealing), I decided that I should really try to salvage these. So I shoved them on my feet, silently calling them every filthy name in the book and...and...

Ummm...they fit.

There is one small pucker near the heel on one (I know what that is from) but there is nothing in them that would cause me to give them such a long time out. I have no idea what my issue was when I decided these things were a disaster.

Maybe its the color. Its surprising to me but I'm not thrilled with the darkness of it. I thought I would be since so much of my wardrobe and much of my other artwork is in a darker palette. But it would seem that when I knit socks, I want color. It doesn't have to be neon but its got to be better then black.

I'm still also amazed at how much different hand knit socks feel. I still remember the first time I put on the Olive and Pimento socks after they were done. I looked at mom and said, "I do believe I've been wearing the wrong size sock my entire life."

And its true. They are such a custom fit that until you have a pair, you don't realize just how unfortunate some store bought socks can be. (I sort of had a notion of this anyway. Honestly, how can one pair of socks fit a range of foot sizes from 8-11? Either the size 8 woman is walking around in socks that are basically the equivalent of a non-pregnant woman wearing maternity clothing or the size 11 foot feels more like it has a tattoo covering it rather then fabric. I could never figure it.)

Now Mexican Monarchs are sitting on the coffee table beside my chair and I am putting a few rows on them little by little. I figure I've waited this long to finish them, I'm not in a huge rush to get through them.

Mom's socks are chugging along:

Those double point needles are new for me. They're from Knitpicks and I really do like them but they are about an inch longer then the wood ones I usually use. I admit that I am slower at knitting the cuff but that little difference in length has slowed me down even more. I've been glowering at this sock the entire time I've been working on it. I need to stop, I'm going to give it a complex.

I'm also wondering how this pair is going to pan out. I usually knit both socks at the same time. By this I mean I knit one from the center pull yarn and the other from the end on the outside of the yarn ball. I knit the cuff of one, then go knit the other. Knit the heel on one, go knit the heel on the other. And on and on. That way I finish them both at the same time. (The Yarn Harlot has embedded a tremendous fear in me of Second Sock Syndrome.)

But this time I can't do that. Why? Well, because I am the only person on the planet that is challenged when it comes to winding a center pull yarn cake. There is no center pull yarn end to be found in the yarn I'm using for mom's socks.

This happens to me often, I don't know why. Normally if I'm knitting just one big thing, I don't really care since I'll just work from the outside yarn but this time its different. I'll have to do one at a time. Luckily their recipient won't let me stop at just one sock. The woman will walk around the house with one completed sock on her foot, the other one bare and croon about how nice it would be to have a second one until it is done. The motivation will not be lacking.

Speaking of mom, she is knitting as I'm writing this. She will be graduating from her practice piece to a garter stitch scarf tomorrow. She has also decided that her long term goal is to knit this. I'm so proud, she is a knitter. *sniff*

Oh, and Dooley has a major complaint with this new development of mom learning to knit. He's used to me ignoring him in favor of the yarn and sticks but he has not yet accepted that his mom is now doing the same. In fact, he stands in front of her and chirps loudly when she picks up her knitting.

I scolded him for not being supportive but I don't think he took me seriously since I was giggling the whole time. Besides, he's an easy going fellow. After I yelled at him he hopped up on the sofa, rolled over on his back and looked at me like this:

He uses his cuteness like a weapon.

Now if I could only teach him to knit....

i can't put my arms down!

Dooley watched in somewhat awed fascination this morning as I put on the following things: two sweaters, one very large oversized scarf that wrapped around my face and made me look like I was planning to rob a bank, a wool jacket (reserved for only the coldest of weather), a hat (which I never do due to extreme issues with having fine hair and the phenomenon of static electricity), and fingerless gloves that have mitten flaps so my finger tips would be protected.

I truly resembled Ralphie's brother, Randy, from the Christmas Story.

I pulled the car out of the garage and sat in the driveway for five minutes letting it warm up. The temp read 23F inside the garage and within the first two minutes of sitting outside, dropped to -9F.

I feel the Farenheit distinction is an important one to make. I live about a half hour from the border of Canada and one of my favorite radio stations is one that broadcasts from Ontario. So I'm used to listening to their weather reports and as soon as winter hits they are in the negative Celsius digits. It has somewhat desensitized me to the whole negative temperature thing because when they have read below zero temps, its often not very severe. Its still very cold but its not my-fingers-are-going-to-snap-off kind of cold.

But now? I figure Canada is probably around -1500C.

It is hideously cold outside. Here are a few things as evidence to support this claim if you don't live in one of the states that is currently doing an impersonation of dry ice:

1) My plastic badge got stuck in the swiper when I was coming into the building this morning. It was dislodged in record time thanks to the help of some very cold co-workers. There is no greater motivation for a small group of engineers to come up with a solution to something then the fact that the inside of their lungs are freezing just from breathing.

2) I drove by a construction site this morning and I'm not sure if the workers were people or mummies. All I saw were eyeballs peering out from beneath even more layers of clothing then I had on.

3) Dooley bravely went out to tinkle this morning. His unfortunate height often causes him to walk through things he shouldn't and his paw momentarily stuck to the snow. (Not that you wanted to know this but I was nearly out the door to dislodge him when I realized my dog was about to be frozen in place by virtue of his own pee.)

4) There are over 300 school closings today. I personally think everything should be closed except for hospitals. We need those people to defrost us.

5) The radio station I was listening to spent an extraordinary amount of time discussing the least harmful method of breaking into your car if it's going to be sitting outside all day. Mine is. They have me mentally prepared for the fact that the doors may be frozen shut. I'm ready to troop out to the parking lot after work with a mug full of steaming hot water and toss it at the door while saying a prayer that it will actually open and let me back inside.

6) I was actually happy that I have a bad back and am able to park in the handicapped spots.

7) I have been driving around with art supplies in my trunk for some time. Do you think gel medium can be used after its unthawed once its turned solid?

8) I want to go home and knit. Burying myself under a large pile of wool while making things that will actually keep me from getting frostbite is more appealing than sitting here at work.

So if you are in one of the states that is frozen beyond recognition, be safe. Stay warm. And make some kind of sacrifice to the sun god for warmer weather. We need it.

13 January 2009

the babbette saga continues

Its definitely January. How do I know? (Aside from the negative temperatures and the cruel amount of snow we are currently buried under...)

Because my body has done its most impressive trick...taking the common cold and mutating it into some kind of bizarre virus that no flu shot in the world can tackle. It seems to be a tradition for me, one that I am getting to fully enjoy right now. My head is stuck somewhere between feeling like a brick and floating. I'm spending my days with a napping schedule that rivals that of a two-year-old that hasn't slept in a week. Good times.

In one of my more lucid periods yesterday (and because I get pissed at the virus and decide that I will not do its bidding by laying on the sofa anymore), I finished crocheting the last block of Babette. Then I drug all the blocks onto the floor and just kind of started at them:

That, my friends, is a whole lot of crochet.

I'm now faced with the task of making them do an impersonation of a blanket. As discussed before, we are looking at making twins out of this pile. I had contemplated making them one gigantic piece but the truth is that the last afghan I finished seems to be a good size. I worry that making it too big will make it all stretchy and stupid looking and there was too much work involved to let it end that way.

So I started fussing with a layout for the first one to see how it will work out:

I'm actually pretty happy with it. I do plan to shuffle some of the blocks to mix the colors a little better but I like the layout for it. (And do not mention all the ends that still need to be woven in. I refuse to acknowledge them right now. I tend to weave them in as I sew the blocks together, makes the finishing more bearable and makes me feel like I'm actually getting somewhere with it when I see pieces of it joined together. I am easy to fool, it makes for a pleasant existence.)

Even with the crocheting done (with the exception of the border) and a fairly solid layout, I'm still feeling twitchy about it. Why you ask? Here's why:

The layout above didn't seem to make a dent in the pile shown in the first picture. I'm considering maybe trying to do something fancy for the borders (translation: throwing in some blocks just to use the damn things up.)

I will not say at this point that I could get three blankets out of this. Unless the third one is a tiny one that fits the length and width of a particular west highland terrier. But that seems silly to do since little man will simply steal the larger ones. He is an afghan thief.

Here is proof:

(Please not the slightly dirty look I'm getting for taking this picture.)

The afghan drive has not wavered. Now that I am the end of one, I am turning my attention toward what the next one can be. They are the perfect project for me to work on when I'm laying down resting my back. I've decided I'm going to knit the next one, never knitted one before. I've chosen the Totally Autumn throw designed by Anne Hanson. But I'm going to knit it in yarn that is not autumn in any way. Makes sense.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go lay down. I've used up my allotment of feeling-halfway-decent time block. Rock on.

12 January 2009

taking you with me

Have you ever heard the saying, “I’m going to go insane and take you with me” ?

That’s what I’m thinking right now.

In the absence of my ability to show you anything that doesn’t involve knitting/crochet/spinning at the moment, I had the thought to take you through the process with me as I sit down to figure out where the disconnect is for how I view my artwork.

I don’t know if you’ll find it interesting. I don’t know if your eyes will glaze and you’ll click the back button on your browser quicker then a chocolate addict can scarf down a bag of Hershey kisses. Some of you might find this boring, some of you might already know the answers, some of you might find something new for yourselves as well.

But its what I’ve got to offer outside of my regular posts (which will also continue.) What I’m thinking is that on the last day of each month I’ll talk about one thing that is in the list below and maybe I can dislodge some of the chatter that is rattling around in my head.

Its not going to be a commentary on all fiber artists as a whole but rather a public conversation I'm having with myself about how these things pertain to my own work.

The truth is I’ve never really given any of this any kind of serious critique. And I’m feeling like I need to, like its what’s been missing for me. Up until this point I've been an internal musing kind of gal on this topic. I tend to keep to myself and work through things on my own but I've decided to take a different approach to it this time.

So here is the list of things I want to work through:

  • Why fiber? What is the appeal of this particular media?
  • What construction methods do I like/dislike? What could I change to bring my work more in line with a way of working that is more enjoyable?
  • Create a clear definition of how I want my work to be perceived.
  • Why do I find it impossible to work in a series?
  • How can I streamline the term ‘mixed media’ to give it a more defined purpose in my fiber art?
  • Is experimenting with new techniques really beneficial? Or does it simply muddy things to a point that I loose the goal of what I’m working on?
  • Do I really need a label for the artwork I make? Art quilt? Fiber art? Mixed media? Or is it all the same thing?
  • Take the time to educate myself about fiber artists that I am unfamiliar with. What is it about their work that holds my attention?
  • Do dimensions matter? Explore the argument that smaller artworks don’t have the same value as large pieces.
  • What methods of display are the best?
  • What kind of education is the best? Books? Online classes? In-person classes?
  • What do I do with the work once it’s complete? Evaluate the roles of showing in exhibits/being published/selling work – which one really suits me best?

I’ve decided to use this year as an evaluation year. I’ll most likely still create fiber art pieces (in between the incredibly obsessive knitting/crocheting/spinning) but I find myself wanting more from the things I make and this seems like the way to get there.

I’m hoping that if I ramble enough in public to all of you, I’ll finally be able to put my finger on it.

11 January 2009

Where I Stand Sunday

The yarn has been twisted into a new thing, this thing that feels like home. I can feel the ridges of the stitches beneath my feet, lining up in the same rhythm I used when I made them. It’s a warm pressure, soothing in the face of the glaring bareness of winter glowing through my window. It holds the pull of sleep, of dreams, of the things that only find a voice when our eyes are closed.

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.

10 January 2009

what a fiber geek does during a snow storm

I publicly concede that the weather person was not entirely incorrect in their spazzy predictions about the snow storm. We are slowly being buried at the moment. (But I am still bitter about having to get up so early yesterday. I fell asleep at 7:30 last night. I blame Dooley's snoring, its hypnotic.)

I had planned to go the Spinner's Flock meeting with Herb today but its not the closest drive for me (around 45 minutes in good weather). Self-preservation won out again and I decided to stay home instead...

...and clean.

Not the most thrilling of activities but necessary. I have a very high tolerance for clutter. I am a pile maker. They are usually fairly tidy but sometimes my bedroom begins to resemble a cave full of stalagtites and that when I know its time to take action.

But I did have an ulterior motive...I was searching for this yarn:

This is Socks that Rock lightweight in Goody Goody (club colorway). They are going to be a new pair of socks for mom. She's wearing her Frog in a Party Dress socks so much that they are beginning to whimper. Besides, when I showed the yarn to her, she instantly knew what I planned to do and got all smiley. She is no fool. Her enthusiasm alone is enough to spur me on.

I did catch a re-run of Knitty Gritty the other day that had Cat Bordhi on demonstrating one of her sock knitting techniques. The woman made a little garter stitch square and turned it into a sock. My mouth was kind of hanging open. I'm intrigued, never seen anything like it. So I taped it and ordered her book. (Knitpicks currently has their books on sale for 40% off, good deals.) I may wait until I get the book to start mom's socks, not sure yet.

I'm also ramping up to get a big project on the needles. This came in the mail yesterday:

This is Downpour in Blue Moon Fiber Art's Geisha weight lace yarn. Its 70% kid mohair, 20% mulberry silk, and 10% nylon.

I want to marry this yarn.

Which is mildly ironic since its going to be for someone who is getting married. I plan to turn it into this for Mary's wedding this coming september. This is my first really big lace project and I'm geeked in a huge way about it. Say a Hail Mary, do a little dance or make a sacrifice to the Knitting Goddess (I hear she likes it when luxury yarns are burned at the stake). I will take whatever good karma I can get for this project.

But lest you think that all I did was rifle around with other people's yarn today, I did not. I also attempted to make some of my own:

Well...it sort of looks like yarn. More practice should make it look even more like yarn. I consider the fact that its holidng together and isn't twisted into mangled coils an improvement. (Notice that I refused to show you my very first attempts. I have too much respect for you all and didn't want to torture your good sensibilities with such a sight.)

I'm thinking about taking classes at Artisan Knitworks. They are working on setting up a sunday class and that feels like it will suit my schedule better. In the meantime, I'll continue making sort-of yarn on my own.

Oh, and take a gander at this:

That, my dear friends, is mom's knitting.

Last week she looked at me one evening and said, "I want to learn to knit."

To which I replied, "Okay, I can teach you."

She sort of just sat there and stared at me and then said, "Now."

A girl can take a hint. So I dug out some yarn and needles and she's been doing very well. (She got nervous when she saw me taking pictures of it for the blog.) I cast on for her and knit a couple rows and she's been praciting a little everyday. You can't find the row where I ended and she began and that's excellent.

I could see evidence of the inner knitter in her coming out today when she walked in on me obsessively organizing a pile of yarn by weight (I'm a Virgo, it can't be helped, shut up). All she kept saying was..."That's a pretty one." Then she'd point to another one and say, "Oh, I like that one."

I do believe my stash will be well loved by more then one knitter then me soon. Which I'm totally fine with, should be interesting to watch.

My lofty plans for this evening include watching movies and working on Babette. I am entirely thrilling person. I blame the snow, leaving the house was not a good idea today. I am simply making sure I remain safe. Its only natural that I would migrate toward the yarn when trapped in the house with it all day. Its not my fault.

(Am I convincing at all?)

09 January 2009

you owe me a nap

Dear Weatherperson,

While I don't envy you your job (it is a difficult one at best), I am writing to you on behalf of all working folk who get up at ungodly hours every day.

I watched your lovely program several times last night. I even went and stared at the cable channel, aptly named The Weather Channel, dedicated solely to your art just to confirm that your predictions were correct. They assured me they were.

According to all your calculations and study and intepretations of the little white swirly things on the monitors (which in all honesty don't look all that threatening to me), Michigan is destined to become the frozen tundra over the course of today and tomorrow. In fact, the storm that is nudging its way toward us is supposed to be an encore of the mess we got just before Christmas. I remember that storm, it was most unpleasant.

So I believed you. I watched you wave your arms around and listened to your voice rise three octaves to that of a pre-pubescent teenager as you described the range of snowfall we would be getting. (Oh, and don't think I didn't notice the gleam of excitement in your eye, I know this is thrilling for you.) You even gave it the fancy title of Winter Storm Warning just so we would all know how serious you are about this thing that is coming to make our lives miserable. I admit that it is effective, it does make me pay more attention to your ramblings.

I kept my curse comments to myself . This is Michigan in January after all, these things are to be expected.

However, I feel I must take issue with something.

My commute for work has me getting up at 5:20am each morning so that I can get to work by 7am. My commute home has me leaving work at 3:30pm and arriving sometime before the sun decides to set. (The ride home is arguably more difficult, no matter what the weather.) As a result of your predictions, I did the following:

1) Resigned myself to the fact that 5:20am would simply not be an early enough wake-up call this morning in order to avoid the snowstorm of doom you said was coming our way this afternoon.

2) I went to bed at 9pm last night. (Which in all honesty was not a burden because this is the first week back to work after the holiday break and I feel sort of like my brain has been sucked out my head.)

3) Before going to bed, I set my alarm for 4:45am and laid out clothes in the bathroom and set up my toothbrush. I prepared for the cruelty that I was about to inflict upon myself. (And just for the record...there are many people where I work that do this on a daily basis. But they are men. Enough said.)

4) I got up the first time the alarm went off (this alone deserves recognition), groomed myself (my co-workers seem to really appreciate this), threw some cheerios in the Dooley dog's bowl (his eyes were only half open, he will most likely decide to have his breakfast at a more reasonable hour) and stumbled out the door. (I did not mumble any obscenities, there was not enough energy for that.)

5) I did, however, grumble about having to drive my mother's smaller car today. My car decided to exercise its ability to push me toward madness last night and is now having a time out at the repair shop. My mother's lovely fuel efficient small car should make the drive in snow more entertaining (translation: the little bastard slides all over the place).

6) I engaged in the following make-sure-I-stay-awake activities: Did not turn on the heat in the car in order to avoid any kind of relaxation that might result in returning to sleep. Did drink a large glass of water before leaving the house so the aggravation of having to pee would annoy me enough to stay alert. Purposefully chose a radio station with DJs that aggravate the snot out of me so that my attention would remain in the land of the conscious.

7) I noticed about halfway to work that it was already starting to snow. (This was only 5:35am, not the 4pm that you predicted. I began to wonder if perhaps you meant to say 4am. But don't worry, a twelve hour time oopsy is not a big deal.)

8) I swore loudly when the DJ announced that the storm was predicted to now hit us beginning at noon. Which now renders all of my efforts entirely futile since my place of employment does not allow us to begin our work day at 12:30am.

9) Swore loudly again when I got to work and realized I left my breakfast sitting on the kitchen counter.

So now I sit here, groggy and with a headache from hell building, watching the snow fall outside my office window. While it is a somewhat pleasant sight, it does mean that no matter what time I leave today, I will not avoid having to drive 35mph the whole way home.

I understand that you are not psychic (although I think the job application should add this as a preferred special skill). I understand that you have no control over Mother Nature and her violent mood swings.

But I would ask you to please please please restrain yourself when it comes to making these predictions in the future. Your enthusiasm leads us all to believe that we will be buried alive for the next three weeks and that the best course of action is to buy a hundred cans of soup and never leave the house. You may be a tad overzealous at times. And while I appreciate the fact that you are so concerned for our safety, it does seem to me that nine times out of ten you get excited over an incorrect analysis.

Tell me when its going to snow.

Tell me how much we are going to get.

Tell me how cold it will be.

But keep the hysterics to a minimum.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get some straws from the cafeteria to prop my eyelids up.



06 January 2009

on the subject of classes

Even though I am allowing myself however long it takes to reassemble my ways of thinking when it comes to my fiber art, I do want to keep my mind wrapped around it. So I got to thinking that maybe it would be fun to take a couple of online classes. But there's a teensy problem with that idea...

I don't take a lot of fiber art classes. Not because I think I know so much (ask Mary, she's had to endure my ongoing war with my sewing machine in which I am usually the looser and she has to help me limp through it) but because I find that a lot of classes are too inflexible for me.

I've stood on both sides of the line when it comes to this topic.

I taught a lot when I had my store. Shuttle tatting, crazy quilting, embroidery (beginner, silk ribbon, etc), a couple art quilt classes...so I have a tremendous appreciation for art teachers and the huge pile of work that comes along with putting together and executing a class. I bow to you all who do it on a regular basis.

Many of the classes I come across have a very specific project in mind. The teacher wants to teach you how to do something so he/she puts together a kit and everyone works on the same thing. I understand this, makes things streamlined and pushes the class at a steady pace.

But then you get students like me that have already found their own style, we sit in the back of the classroom twitching like we've been electrocuted. Even if the project designated for the class is meant to teach a specific technique, having to shuffle away my own style in place of the teachers makes it too hard for me to focus on the thing being taught. I admire other artist's work but I have to be honest, I will avoid any class that has me creating a project that is a duplication of their style.

I've been the student of Pamela Allen and Fran Skiles and Cathy Arnett and Lesley Riley (all of which I highly recommend). And....that's it. Over an eight year span, that's not a whole lot. These teachers have a teaching style that allows each person to do their own thing, they give you a technique, you try it out on your own work and end up with something that doesn't look like you took one of their pieces and xeroxed it. This is what suits me best. But its limiting, and it frustrates.

Part of it is what I mentioned above about having my own voice but the other part is the fact that, like most people, my time is limited. I want to spend whatever time I do set aside to take a class to create something that I can finish later (or if I drink enough coffee, finish it in class) and actually be able to say that I am the author of it. (I took a class once on mixed media shrines in which the teacher made a speech before we started working that we had to put her name as the artist on the back of our pieces since we made it during her class. Never mind the fact that basically what she taught were techniques that you could find on the internet for free, she insisted that anything we made during class was to be considered her work. Ummm...not so much. I'm all for giving credit where credit is due but this was extreme.)

So all this translates to the fact that I struggle finding classes I want to take. I end up buying books (usually techniques) but I miss the interaction of other students and artists. And especially the fact that I've carved out a time slot to work and get to leave everything else behind for a couple hours or days.

I know I said I wasn't going to make resolutions this year and I intend to keep to that (wait, isn't that sort of a resolution?) but one thing I would like to do is look around my obsessive virgo issues on the topic of classes and find some that I would like to take. In other words, quit worrying so much about what I'll make during the class and just take it for fun.

So I signed up for this last night. I've really admired Susan Sorrell's work for a long time, the woman is a hand stitching maniac (which I love). Plus if you read the class description, it meets my quirky needs of learning and independence. When I first got into fiber arts, I started as a crazy quilter, fell totally and madly in love with all the complexities that go along with it. I have the thread collection to prove this. I haven't done any kind of heavy stitching in a while so this class will be perfect.

I've not really taken an online class before but I've heard tremendous good things about it from those who have so I figured I would give it a shot. Seems like fun and that is the goal for 2009.

04 January 2009

its not so black and white

I got an email the other day asking if I was abandoning art altogether in favor of crafts like knitting and crocheting and spinning. It got me to thinking and after having some back and forth conversation with the recipient, I decided to go ahead and mention it here too.

I haven't been in the fiber art world a very long time, only about eight years now. The people who do know me know me from my found object art quilts. I'm pretty proud of the things I've accomplished so far. Owned a fiber art store for three years, got into many juried exhibits, been in several invitationals, been published in books, been published in a magazine, curating exhibits. Its been busy busy busy.

And I love all of it. But here is the thing...the fiber art realm is a huge place. I am of the opinion that knitting and crocheting and spinning is also art. They all take skill, patience, and creativity. Isn't that what art is all about? Those who design these items work hard and produce beautiful things and it goes back to my number one love about all this: its a connection to the past of doing art by hand.

The name of my store was Lost Arts Stitchery, it focused on all the needle arts that people say are gone, things of the past. I don't believe that, never have. So moving into different areas of the fiber world seems like a natural progression to me. It is the act of creating that I love most and I'm still doing that, in spades. So I'm content with the things that I am working on now.

So am I abandoning art quilts? No, not at all. I'm just taking the time to refine the way I think about them, modifying my beliefs about how I should work and removing the things that annoy me in favor of methods that make me happier.

When will I finally get to the point where I begin producing work that doesn't involve yarn and needles and hooks and wheels? Not sure. The thing is, I'm actually feeling easy about what I'm doing right now. None of it is forced, its all very meditative and in all honesty, that's what I need most right now. The past few years have been a whorl wind of madness, some good, some bad. I'm finally slowing down and finding my footing again. I know that in the stillness I have from the work I'm doing now I will find what I need in other areas of my life. I refuse to force my muse into the things I have built into my mind that I should be doing.

And its working. My sketchbook is filling, things are moving around in my head. Nothing that I feel I want to make but there is a definite foundation building. And I think it will be my most honest work ever, something that will feel more like an extension of me then anything else I've ever done.

So it is my sincere hope that you will hang in there with me, that you will still find the blog amusing and that I'm not boring you to tears. Change is inevitable and I need to figure out the shift that has happened in my mindset toward my own artwork. In the meantime, I am not capable of sitting still and not making anything. So I am rooting myself more firmly in the knitting/crochet/spinning world. Makes me happy. And that's what I want more then anything.

Happy creating.

Where I Stand Sunday

My good intentions nudge around me, seeking a way to integrate themselves into my life. I tangle my fingers around them, holding them close, feeling them absorb into my skin. They are weighted, determined. They promise to trail behind me every second of this new calendar, reminding what is most important.

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 January 2009


Mom was admiring my pile of blocks today for the Babette Blanket. I'm nearly done with the six-round squares and then I can move on to the final eleven squares.

Mom then asked me how big it will be. So I grabbed the pattern and rattled off 43" wide by 40" long. We decided that was a nice size.

But then I started looking at the pattern a bit more. To be honest, as soon as I had it memorized I set it aside and just held onto the page that says what color sequence to work the blocks in.

Had I paid closer attention, I would have noticed that Koigu yarn (the suggested yarn) uses a 3.5mm crochet hook. Vanna White yarn (that I am using) uses a 6mm hook.

Ummm....I apparently was focused more on the finished product then paying attention to silly things like the size of the yarn used to make the thing.

I am crocheting the King Kong version of the Babette Blanket.

I have a few options. Help me pick one:

1) Stop now and put together what I have done. This however, reduces the charm of the pattern since all the various square sizes adds visual interest.

2) Keep going, finish all the squares and drop-kick logic to the side and just put them all together. We're looking at something around an 80" square. I am 5'2". Mom is 4'11". Dooley is barely 1' high. There is no one in this house sufficiently tall enough to benefit from something that large.

3) Again, keep going and finish them all and make two blankets. Or one blanket plus pillow shams. Or one blanket and thirty scarves. Or one blanket and enough coasters to use at a bar on a friday night.

Which would you do?

I'm digging this thing, just don't need one that is big enough to use as an area rug in the living room.

I made an oops-y.