Archive for January, 2007


Monday, January 29th, 2007

I like that word. Swatch. Today I swatched. I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t help myself; once in a while this woman has to swatch.

The temperature has dropped to normal winter frostbite levels, and I find myself glove and mitten-less. I could buy a pair and be done but instead I’m lusting over the Endpaper Mitts from See Euny Knit!, which also look good over at Knitting Box. I could just knit them, but I can’t seem to leave a good pattern alone; I feel compelled to modify it. It’s not you, pattern, it’s me.

The flower and bird motifs are adapted from Knitting in the Nordic Tradition by Vibeke Lind. This book has a dull cover that looks out of date, but don’t pass it by if you’re a knitter, the content is juicy and inspiring.

Feel free to place bets on when my hands will be properly attired.


Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Some of my holiday ornaments are still up, I can’t bear to put away the snowflakes hanging on my windows just yet. They’re cotton crochet that has been blocked and sized to make a rigid ornament. In the daytime they look like ink drawings on the sky, and at night they reflect the light, white against the darkness outside.

Looking at them day after day has brought me back to drawing mandalas. There’s something so soothing about developing a pattern from the center out, and magical in the way I can’t anticipate what will happen as it grows.


Thursday, January 25th, 2007

My heart necklace is making me realize just how influenced I was by a trip I took several years ago to Subotica (pron. sue-boh-tea-tza), a little town in Serbia just seven miles from the Hungarian border.

Set in the plains, Subotica straddles definitions, caught between country village and sophisticated city. I stayed in town, but was woken by the neighbor’s cock crowing. On my way in and out of an eleven-story high rise I would pause to watch the progress of a ladder being built by an elderly man on the lawn outside. A ladder, made by hand.

The town has some of the most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau architecture I’ve ever seen, equal to the work of Horta in Belgium, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Scotland.

However the buildings are dilapidated, and the stunning synagogue with it’s heart-shaped iron railing has been closed for a long time. The country has yet to recover from war.

I believe that the local people built the Town Hall themselves. It’s an imposing building that stands in the middle of a large square at the center of the town. Inside it’s more Hansel and Gretel than bureaucratic edifice, there are hand-painted murals everywhere you look.

Here’s a window sill by the main staircase:

Check out this detail – remind you of any necklaces you’ve seen lately?

This is the waiting room at the tax office:

At the top of each column there are symbolic representations of the local trade guilds. (My pre-digital pictures don’t remotely do justice to the charm and whimsy of this room.)

The pattern on the floor is composed of thousands of hearts. This is a tax office I would be happy to visit. Heck I wouldn’t mind having to wait on one of these fairy tale benches.

The main hall is completely ornamented as well; I love the idea of officers of the law hard at work, surrounded by hearts and flowers.

I’m thinking of lobbying my local representative; surely Washington would be a happier, more productive place if Congress and the White House had some murals like these. And the IRS! What might the Internal Revenue Service be, if hearts danced across waiting room floors, and vibrant beanstalks curled their way up the walls.

lovely hearts

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

One of my necklaces is in the Lovely Hearts exhibition at Artstream Gallery in Rochester, New Hampshire.

I made the pendant specially for the show. It’s a little cuter than most of my work, and I’m not sure how I feel about that (shouldn’t analyze so much), but the curly lines remind me of Eastern European decorative arts, an influence I wasn’t aware of before seeing the necklace completed.

You can check out all the beautiful hearts that have been sent in so far on the exhibition flickr page, and they’re adding them as fast as they can to their online gallery store. 50% of all sales goes to Breast Cancer Research and everything is $100 and under, so get your wallet out. Art + Good Cause = Happy Feeling.


Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

I took another tumble down the internet rabbit hole, and look what I found:

A knitting pattern for a Balaclava Helmet – both practical AND handsome.

made with ear flaps to enable good hearing
during telephone operations

Of course. And here I was thinking I was short on gift ideas for my sweetie’s upcoming birthday. No longer! How could he not love it? Right, honey?

There are more where this beauty came from, the Victoria and Albert Museum website has the entire contents of Jaeger’s Hand-Knit Essentials for the Forces online, complete with your choice of downloadable patterns in Word or PDF.

Come to think of it my dad and brother have birthdays next month. Better get knitting…

view from a sunday nap

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

My companions, seen here hard at work on Plan Relaxation, a project they’re devoting their lives to. They’re advanced practitioners, but very supportive of my beginner attempts.


Friday, January 19th, 2007

It snowed here last night for the first time this winter. There was a light dusting on the roofs, the sun came out, and it’s gone. Kind of pathetic. I should really be grateful that there wasn’t enough to cause the huge slush lakes at every street corner which have me walking 15 feet down the sidewalk just to find a point where I can cross without drowning.

I thought I’d share another piece I made for circle play, this one a bizarre crochet lotus I made while on a camping trip in Michigan. Must have been going for my “crazy crafter” girl scout badge.

crazy circle play

circle play

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

I felt a little under the weather yesterday so I spent the afternoon camped out in bed with herbal tea, a West Wing DVD, and a long-overdue sewing project.

Since July 2004 (long before I’d heard of any of the cool swaps that are happening in the craft/blog world – which isn’t really saying much since I’m invariably a late comer to these things) I’ve been exchanging small artworks with two friends, one in Maine, the other in upstate New York.

We call it Circle Play, the idea being that we explore (very loosely) the notion of “circle”, and the word “play” is a good reminder not to get too perfectionistic. We were inspired to start by a small book that S had found, and which P and I ran out and bought immediately.

It’s full of embroideries exchanged between two women in Denmark and the US – this little focussed project that went on for years. It seemed like such a great way to stay creatively connected to each other when we live so far apart. And to make experimental objects – things we might not make otherwise. We figured out what our parameters were and got started.

And it worked! After our first year we gathered for a weekend and laid our all our treasured experiments on a long dining table, covering it. I had forgotten so many of the pieces I’d made, and seeing them again was like coming back to a familiar place. With all the work together I could see the relationships between the months – unconscious similarities or repetitions of a theme, reuse of materials and colors.

Last year Circle Play slowed way down, all of us pulled in other directions. It’s been months since I received the last piece from P, and it’s been nagging at me, like a letter that needs answering. Yesterday I sat on my bed watching “good daddy president” Martin Sheen and started my reply. I’m not ready to show it yet so instead here’s my very first piece from 2004.

so very sad

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Someone has eaten all the fabulous butter pecan cookies that Anita baked for my birthday.

I blame this little pig.

He must have flown in the window and scarfed them down.

bad boss

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Today was a good day, although my mind would have me thinking otherwise.

It was what I consider a “noodling” day, where things get done, but in a non-linear, roundabout way. My brain hates these days. They don’t make sense! What’s going on?! There should be structure, and planning, and the crossing off of lists. Instead I answered some emails, paid a bill, returned a phone call, kissed the cats, and bought milk and oranges at the market.

I noticed the guy wearing the brand new superman t-shirt. He looked happy. On my way home I stopped and, leaving my groceries on the curb, I took pictures of graffiti. It dawned on me with surprise that I was enjoying myself, and that this might be a good use of my time. I know how to noodle my way through a day, but this may have been the first time I haven’t felt guilty about it.

One of the curses of self-employment is that there is always work to be done, right there in front of me. No bell rings to say that school is over and it’s time to go home for the night. There isn’t a commute to mark the beginning and end of my workday, or that relaxed feeling that I did the best I could and now I’m off for a few hours.

And there is no boss: there’s just my brain, whose default setting is permanent high alert, watching for danger and deadlines. My brain is a bad boss with a puritanical sense of priorities, who thinks Sisyphus was gainfully employed just because he was working so hard.

Well. I am taking back the “self” in self-employment. I’m going to go listen to Laurie Anderson.  And then – I’m firing my boss.

I don’t know about your brain –
but mine is really bossy.
I come home…
and I find all these messages
on wrinkled up scraps of paper
and they say things like:
Why don’t you get a real job?
or: You and whose army?
or: Get a horse.