Wednesday, March 30, 2011

art happens

I've been thinking about a Housewarming gift for my son.  I know that he needs a toaster oven, but I had something more fibery, something cozier, in mind.
Something along these lines might be perfect.  I also found a piece of fabric that I'd purchased when he first talked about getting a dog (and keeping it at the firehouse ... funny how things cha cha cha change!)
Maybe I'll go ahead and make a big fluffy bed, fill it with cedar and such, and send it over, just in case.  His new house has a fenced in back yard and it won't surprise me to find it occupied by a new dog one day!  Harley likes it here at the 'firehouse' and I think that he's staying.  Just sayin'...
I've started my aprons for Apifera Farm.  Their Pino's Pie Day will be here before you know it!  This is an incredibly good cause.  In case any of you fine seamstresses out there in blogland feel like whipping up some aprons to save old donkeys, you might want to skip over there and check them out.  I don't know about you, but I just FEEL better when I can lend my God-given talent to a good cause.  In fact, this is something that I've been ruminating on for quite a while.
Why do I always lean toward creating for someone/thing else?  I mean, seriously, it's almost an illness, it almost borders on the obsessive.

I'll see a delicious yarn and immediately conjure up a creation for this person, or that.  A walk through the fabric store will have me piecing quilts for every Tom, Dick and Harry that I know!  Forget about the beads.  Art happens - it's like oxygen for the soul of the maker.  If I don't create, I'll suffer and die.  Francis Bacon said - "The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery" and I believe this.  It used to be all about the paint and canvas for me.  Somehow, it was easier then, there were less questions and raised eyebrows - one EXPECTED the painter to paint.  I surrounded myself with people who nurtured my inner artist.

Today I no longer paint.  I avoid it with everything that I've got - and I've got quite the arsenal of weapons ... bolts of fabric, skeins of yarns, bottles of beads, volumes of written pages.  Just for starters.  Maybe it's just easier to make fabric art, less judgmental.  Easier still is the impulse to give the 'art' away without having to ask anyone's permission. Maybe my inner child is at work here and that is all there is to the mystery.

C.G. Jung said - "The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.  The creative mind plays with the objects that it loves."  God, I wish that he was still here and taking on new clients!
And yes, I AM taking the course, 'The Artist's Way'.  I want to paint again.  I understand that faith is the required ingredient, so I may have a shot at graduating this time.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

an Annie Wilkes kind of day

 You know how this goes - the weekend arrives and with it the numerous tasks and dread errands and (yuck) housework.  When you wake up on Saturday morning you feel refreshed and ready to embrace the promise of the weekend - until you remember the above.  And then everything and everyone becomes a "dirty bird" and you walk around with a hobbling instrument in your hand - figuratively speaking (one hopes).  Well, I've sat and knitted and reflected and come to this conclusion - I. NEED. A. VACATION.  Not later, but now.  And P.S. - I did NOT win the mega.  If you did, and you're interested in a companion for an exceptional vacay, call me.  If not, don't bother me.

There was a nice package in the mail last night - summer socks!  Hard not to find a smile in this.
Photographed in the herb garden with the helleborus looking on - so pretty.  Green thoughts are returning-
Thus the switch with the blog as well - perhaps a reminder that this gardening season waits in the wings will cheer me.  I hope so because I'm really feeling the Malcontent.  My sister is vacationing in Savannah and Charleston this week - shedding her winter skin for the balmy southern climate.  I'm bitter.  Admitting it makes me feel lighter.  
 I've finished two shawls in the past week - the Citron and the Holden.  1500 stitches are required to finish the picot edge on the Holden - and yes, I admit it, I wept from time to time from sheer frustration!  I have to block these beauties and send them off to their new homes.  I also finished one sock and cast on its mate -
And there were numerous walks in the yard with Himself who has perfected the art of the 'Hang Dog' expression.  Look at that face.  Could you say nay to that oogie?
I should probably explain the backdrop in this image so that ya'll don't think I reside in a shack.  This is a little room off of the kitchen that was once an exterior portion of the older part of the house.  We haven't done a single thing with it because there are larger, more potent plans for a total kitchen redo - down the road...(further than before since we didn't hit that mega!)  It's a great room for Harley and his toys.  Southern exposure makes it cozy and pleasant even though it has zip interior appeal!  It's a dog-friendly space and every dog-loving home needs one!
Do you recognize this shrub?  No?  A close up -
The true harbinger of spring -
Who knows which willow variety this is?

Finally, a little Billy Collins to wash away that Annie Wilkes mindset -

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard, 
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.
And a quick look in the mirror will show 
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and - somehow - the wine.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

random sunday

I made the promised corned beef hash for Sunday breakfast and it was scrumptious.  A little while after I received a phone call - 
I know, it's pathetic how much I love my new phone.  I waited a long time for this one.  Everyone is smitten with it - look at those pedicure socks - they cannot get close enough!  Anyway - the call came from Scott - did I want to go and have sushi for brunch with his daughter and her boyfriend?  HELL YES!  But wait - I'm stuffed from breakfast ... Oh God, I'll have to do some exercise, I'll have to do some dreaded housework!
Maybe I'll dust a bit - these little caches could use a shine ...
Oh look - here is the small painting that my friend Becky gave to me many years ago - I adore it.  I miss her all of the time.  Whoever thought that she would go into retail and move out of the area and fall in love with her college sweetheart and live happily ever after in Washington DC?  I didn't see that coming.  But I am happy for her - beyond words Happy.  She deserves this love in her life.  Still, I miss her beautiful face and that LAUGH!
Here's a project that I am hoping to launch in the next few days.  It's a secret gift for Katherine at Apifera Farm.  I've talked about her work this month - I hope that you visited her.  This has to do with pies and aprons and fund raising.  I can't tell you any more than that.  
I FINALLY got an ok shot of Miss Bella - the Skank.  She is a wicked animal - prone to biting without warning.  Her specialty is to walk across your chest in the deep of night and make horrific yowling sounds in your ear.  Loosely translated - she's ALWAYS hungry!  I have not been able to put an ounce of weight on this cat since she arrived here from the mean streets of Poughkeepsie.  She had, and was treated for tapeworm, and has never really grown since then.  She seems quite healthy with good teeth and glossy coat, but I fear that she suffers from some kind of disorder.  She's a klutz.  She jumps and misses her mark - a lot!  I routinely find her hanging by her claws from perilous heights.  We think that perhaps something happened to her when she was living the feral life.  She has a good life here at Cloudwalk with many closets and secret passages and ample cellar to scout, but she is not allowed outdoors (much to her chagrin!).   She never misses the opportunity to inform us that she resents this set of circumstances!
Last, but not least, I frogged my kollage socks.  For a few blessed inches all seemed well in Stripeland.  And then, without warning, here we go again - clouds being dragged across the sky.  I give up.  Maria, I'm embracing the self striping aspects of this fiber, and deleting their website from my favorites!
Maybe not.  This is seriously beautiful merino.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

an effort for Japan

We woke this morning to the news that Japan has been dealt another, albeit smaller, earthquake.  I am asking myself how much more suffering must these people endure.  Last night's CNN images of a small boy carrying a drawing - telling his lost family that he would return at a certain hour and to please wait, sent me into a cataclysm of emotion, making sleep an exercise in futility. We have to find ways to help.  There are many efforts underway to assist the people of Japan and quilters can visit Janet's group at Quiltsalott to join those who are sending warm quilts - new or used, to a Tokyo quilt shop owner who promises to distribute them to the most needy.  It is still winter in Japan, too cold to be sleeping outdoors without warm blankets and such. This is one wagon that I'll be hopping aboard and maybe you will, too.

 I have a special affinity with small aspects of the Japanese culture - having been introduced at an early age. My father carried several keepsakes back with him from the war.  It was the majestic flag that most fascinated me - the Rising Sun.  When I left home after college I hid it in my baggage.  Down the line, in Louisville, Kentucky, an old boyfriend stole it -  you know who you are.  Isn't it time to return it to me?   No questions asked.
Incredibly, I discovered this silk scarf this morning, hanging under my winter coat.  It is another piece that my father brought from Japan - one that my mother recently offered to me, one which I happily accepted.  The Japanese sensibility has permeated the fiber world in all directions - impacting the ways in which I look at beauty.  My friend Pauline embodies so much of what I admire about this culture - I firmly believe that she is a reincarnated japanese artist, instead of the talented canadian/american persona that she presents.  Speaking of Pauline -
A new silk bag, beaded and embellished.  And yes, those are coffee beans in the background - this extraordinary woman roasts her own!  I can hardly wait to dig into them... Sunday morning, to accompany the leftover brisket hash and eggs that I've promised.
This silk bag will house my Signature circular needle sets.  It's THAT special!  Detail - Pauline's forte.
She also sent a shawl - one of many colors.  It is highly symbolic and mightily charged with emotion.  Some things deserve and demand a decent 'sotte voce'.   I won't be sharing these aspects, but I will say thank you again ... and many times over, for the comfort and the love.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


We went outdoors one last time tonight before the light failed.  Someone has ants-in-his-pants and just NEEDS to be in the fresh air and emerging grass where he can roll over onto his back and kick and kick.  Of course, by the time I found the camera that hilarity was lost.  
We've got some disciplinary issues that need attention.  He thinks that he's the boss of me.  I'm going to have to tune him up, but that would require my full attention, which has turned to the Hand Maiden Seasilk (thanks, Maria)...
This fiber is seriously addictive.  
Long before bathing and blocking this fiber's character blooms - with a promise of what is to come.  I love knitting lace for that very reason - it almost ALWAYS delivers the goods - morphing from huh?  To aaahhhhh ... 
 We walked around in the fading light and noticed the garlic tips, the emerging alliums, the greening leeks.  It was a tremendously cruel winter and the grapes took a heavy hit.  I'd love to show you these images, but this bloody useless BLOGGER has decided to reject the server and insert some kind of error.  I am so very close to shutting this blog down.  I think that I'll go audition WordPress again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the house on grubb street

 My son has purchased his first home.  I'm so proud of him that words fail me.  Imagine that.  It's a wonderful old house in the city with the kind of lovely features no longer found in modern construction.  It also presents numerous challenges, but Andrew is up to the task (s).  These are preliminary images taken last week.  The previous owners were fond of saturated color on the walls which has made primer an essential!  I need to clarify the street address - this house sits on a corner and so Grubb Street is not the official address, but I like it so much better than South Grand Avenue.  Don't you?  "The House On Grubb Street" sounds like the title of a best seller.  Hmmmm...

While Andrew tackles his money pit house, I've been knitting.  Pauline recently asked how I find time to knit so voraciously.  The answer is simple - I am never without my knitting bag.  Doesn't everyone carry a huge sack of yarn and needles and patterns around with them?  
Punta 'Merisoft' hand painted merino.  I fight the impulse to buy pastel anything.  But this yarn was given to me and it has been languishing in the cedar chest for some time.  I decided that I needed to make some salon socks.  It's nice to have a warm sock placed on your foot after a pedicure.
Size 6 dpn's make for an incredibly speedy result!  Leaving off the toe opens the mind to other possibilities -
I'm sure that Hilary needs some yoga socks and my friend Kathleen is having bunion surgery next month - a nice open-toed pair of socks might be very comforting.

In truth, my knitting time is NOT proportional to any other activity in my life (except gardening).  Sometimes I worry about this.  But then, someone might mention that they are in need of a shawl or a scarf or some yoga socks!  And this is all that it takes for me to pick up my needles and forget about the housework!  A harmonious life includes following one's passion, yes?
I went to the local green grocer yesterday during my lunch hour.  Now understand that my sister grows the most brilliant dahlias in Connecticut - maybe all of New England.  Generally speaking, I avoid that genre because HER flowers resemble dinner plates (achingly obese explosions of substance and color), while MINE are pale and pathetic.  I want hers.  She never offers up any tubers.  She DOES bring bouquets that induce rapid heart rate and prolonged periods of ENVY.
Ever hopeful - I piled a few of these into my cart.  I'd pretty much given up on dahlias - their capricious nature just rubs me the wrong way!  (and I cannot stop casting that comparative eye toward those Connecticut beauties ...)  Maybe we'll give it one more go!  Maybe my sister will take pity on me and bring a sack of tubers next visit!  (hint hint)
Here's something you don't see every day -
This old well-loved flannel quilt spent the night outdoors, on the cold ground.  I wonder if it asked itself - what am I doing out here?  Aren't I supposed to be indoors, snuggling with one of my people?

There's a story here.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My sister extended the most wonderful invitation to me and our mom-
And you know, this is one invitation that I cannot refuse!  Of course, one needs to be the perfect guest - one always brings gifts.  It wasn't too difficult to come up with something juicy...  the island, the sea, the evening breezes ...
Maria, over at Passing Down Crazy, had just posted about the abundant virtues of Hand Maiden Sea Silk which was so enticing that I went right to the source and ordered something amazing.  Maria, I just have to say - if you don't seriously curtail your yarny sources, I will never be able to retire. Ok?  And I NEED to retire!
Lovely gorgeous silk being knitted into something delicious and Nantucket-worthy - those cool and rainy June evenings really require this - a wrap for my generous sister - I think that she will like this very much.
This pattern is wonderful and intuitive and not to be passed over.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

spring cleaning and what in the hell is wrong with my stripes

See the pretty kollage yarn?  See the stealthy Blackthorn dpn's?  See the grey streaks which are supposed to be self-striping loveliness, but instead resemble clouds being dragged across the sky?  What is wrong here?  Why do my stripes end up darting sideways across the cuff?  Can anyone out there PLEASE help?  This is my third attempt at socks and the others turned out the same.  I.  NEED.  HELP.
Patty says that I get this result because I don't knit from the center of the skein.  I wonder if this is so.  Speaking of Patty, she was on a mission yesterday.  Whenever Patty decides to do 'spring cleaning', I make out like a bandit.  She likes to throw things out;
9,000 plus yards of a cotton/rayon boucle.  There is a very funny story attached to this huge acquisition of yarn, but I'm not allowed to share it.  I will tell you that it revolves around the Sheep & Wool Festival and a woman who attempted to snatch one skein of this yarn out of Patty's hands.  Big mistake.
Apparently quite appealing to this guy - maybe he can detect Patty's dog Zella!    Everyone has their own spring cleaning method.  Here's an example of mine -
Which is why I have such trouble with space.  Spring cleaning = rubbermaid tubs.  We are having a very dreary day here in the northeast - a good 'cleaning' day.  It's been raining for hours and the huge snow drifts are beginning to melt.  
Yep, it's really THAT gloomy.  But hey - I'll be sitting here.  I'll be anxiously awaiting any and ALL suggestions on how to get my stripes to stripe horizontally.  Don't hold back!