"I like a thing simple but it must be simple through complication. Everything must come into your scheme, otherwise you cannot achieve real simplicity." -- Gertrude Stein
The word simplicity is not part of my vocabulary. If there is a way to complicate life, I find it even without intention. Knitting a large sphere, such as a globe, should be a relatively simple process. I've knit a number of smaller spheres. Dr. Burns and students have worked out all the numbers for me to work larger and now I wait for the rope. And I wait, and I wait, and I wait. Leave it to me, I just had to have this particular shade of blue. It is the perfect shade of blue.
This past weekend I taught a puppetry workshop. I never cease to marvel at the joy children receive in the simplest of things. We made paper puppets with movable parts using brass brackets. "Look! I've made the tongue move!" "Hey! Look at my dragon! It flies!" There is no overriding drive for perfection. No need to look for more. They were happy using what was at hand.
If only I didn't need that one shade of clear royal blue.......
Since when did Gap and its sister Old Navy become the marks of high fashion? Or even street fashion? Did originality completely disappear or have we been paved under rows of carbon copy shopping malls? With a black hoodie, jeans that fit like a sausage casing and red high top sneakers, anyone could pass for a teenage girl. Just ask baby girl, these are must have items. Paper crowns are optional.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees.
-- Alfred Tennyson
It is not by coincidence that I have repeatedly typed "stop sigh" rather than "stop sign." I am once again working 12-14 hour days, days which are rich and full of life. I could do with a little less teenager turmoil from my daughter, but by and large, life could not be better. And yet yesterday I was so tired, I ran a stop sign. I took the incident as a sign that I need to slow down a bit, rest and recoup, all of which I regard with a shrug and a sigh.
So what is happening, you ask? First and foremost in my brain is the Cool Globe's project. Mention of my piece was briefly made in an article on the project in the March 19 issue of Newsweek. After days of contorting myself into absurd "yoga" positions to paint Antarctica, it felt great to read that one sentence mention.
I am in the process of painting the surface of the globe in blue and green prior to knitting. The cord is on its way from CSR, Inc. and by the end of April, I will be finished. I am also working on a model of my piece for the gala opening on June 2nd. It is going to be quite a "to do" with celebrity speakers and all.
Yesterday my friend Sara kindly assisted me in installing a small exhibition at the Elgin Building in Evanston, IL. I am showing the larger beaded cells from my Chirurgi series. The green and rust colored marble walls set off the pink and peach tones of my work. The exhibition is part of a new promotion of the Evanston Art Center and a wonderful idea. They are using non-traditional spaces around the suburb to exhibit work by EAC faculty. It promotes both our work and the art center. Double win.
When not at the factory working on the globe, I'm in my home studio preparing for an exhibition I curated for Translations Gallery in Denver, CO. This requires the wearing of two hats, that of curator AND artist. Under the Skin
"...examines what lurks under the human’s largest organ, probing cultural responses to the mechanisms of the human body. Does this visual dissection reveal a Frankensteinian horror or a series of delicate patterns? Is beauty only skin deep? Cloth is frequently referred to as a “second skin” for the same protective qualities it offers as the epidermis. The artists exhibiting engage with traditional and non-traditional fiber materials and processes, from video to beadwork and fake fur to animal skin. They utilize fibers many metaphoric references and its sensual, tactile and subversive qualities to query presumptions and reveal possibilities."
I've invited Adrienne Outlaw, Laura Splan, Samantha Bennett, Jeff Hand and Christine Lofaso. A guest curator will be writing the text for the brochure. Meanwhile, I am also making new work for the show. Did I mention that the show opens the day before the Cool Globe's gala?
I've also been writing for Fiberarts, teaching and participating on the advisory board of a local greenhouse. This doesn't count weekly French lessons and my fugal attempts at dating. Is there any wonder why I mistakenly ran a stop sign? No. Sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much. Solution? Get more rest, stop worrying about my daughter (She was just accepted to college to study the culinary arts!) and try to pace myself. Oh yeah, and go to bed before midnight.
Is this pathetic or what? And folks are worried about me knitting a giant five foot globe?! Try knitting with two dogs draped over you. Too much to write at the moment, but with time split between the factory studio with the globe and teaching, I have had little time to write. But never fear, postings are on their way.
"We fancy men are individuals; so are pumpkins; but every pumpkin in the field, goes through every point of pumpkin history." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every March I think of pumpkins, but not ordinary jack-o-lanterns or even pumpkin pie. What comes to mind are pumpkin raviolis, pumpkin pizza, and best of all, pumpkin scones. It's been 8 years since I visited friends in Queensland, Australia. The days were warm and their vegetable patch was bursting with goodies. After a day at the beach, Kevin went into the garden, picked a pumpkin and made heavenly scones with it. Fresh, hot and loaded with butter, oh, my goodness.
Though email keeps me in touch with friends scattered across the globe, it isn't the same. So one year, I planted my own patch of Queensland Blue Pumpkins. My backyard quickly looked like the set for Little Shop of Horrors. The vines grew across my yard, up the garage, up my neighbor's garage, and creeped toward the back door. My pomeranian was in heaven. The leaves were so large that he would nap in their shade.
Some folks say our sense of smell is the base for memories, but for me it is food. A pumpkin scone on a wintry Chicago day instantly takes me to sunny Brisbane and days when I did little but walk, gossip, swim and eat.
To grow your own, try the organic seed from Seeds of Change. Their collection is always true with a rarely dud seed.
I took this photo while strolling around Paris with camera in one hand and pain du chocolat in the other. Was it really a year ago? I'd been taking French classes for the past two years and decided on a whim that a "working " vacation was in order. By "working" I mean a time to tease the eye with new sites rather than to empty the mind on a beach. Classmates had just returned from a visit to Paris full of stories. I hadn't had a vacation of any kind for years at that point. I called the travel agent that night and booked flights for me and my daughter.
Vive le printemps. Long live spring. It is just 12 more days and counting. I need another vacation. Time to savor the longer days rather than bury my head in the basement studio. The ice is compacted in my garden and yet the cherry tree buds are swollen, ready to unfurl their delicious green. But vacation this year, if I am to even have one, will occur this fall at the earliest. So for now, I treat myself to second cups of coffee and weekly visits to Kilbourn Park greenhouse. The jasmine is in bloom. The smell reminds me of warm days to come. Yes, vive le printemps!
"Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own." -- William Wordsworth
I would like to make a small addition to today's previous blog entry. The students who worked with Professor Keith Burns attend the Evanston Township High School. My problem became their "problem" so to speak, an assignment given by Professor Burns. I appreciate their time and assistance. Thank you!
Knitting a round shape is not a challenge until it surpasses you in diameter.
Knowing the limitations of my hands and body, I wanted to remove the guess work in knitting a sweater for the "world", so I turned to the field of mathematics - geometry to be precise. As I thought of the problem, I considered the peeling of an orange into sections along the lines of longitude. Each section would slowly increase in size to the midpoint, the equator, and then slowly decrease. But what would those measurements be?
When your ninth grade geometry textbook fails you, you call the experts for help. I contacted Professor Keith Burns at Northwestern University. He graciously offered his assistance and those of his high school students -
I can't thank these folks enough for their kind assistance. They recently sent me a chart of measurements that will allow me to precisely figure my increases and decreases. I will also use their figures to make a paper pattern. A visual aid is always helpful.
My father sent me a link for making a paper globe. It's interesting to note the reference to the peeling of an orange. I guess I am on the right track.
I've been avoiding my blog. I have this great news to share that absolutely terrifies me. I know this sounds crazy, but so be it.
The good news.
A globe 5 feet in diameter is a heck of a lot bigger in person than imagined, especially as I will be knitting a sweater for it. The idea I proposed is as follows:
A frequent refrain in my home is “Mom, I’m cold.” My response is always the same – put on a sweater! A sweater acts as a second skin. It insulates the body, trapping warm air, while allowing moisture to evaporate. Wearing a finely knit wool sweater allows me to keep the thermostat low throughout the winter. As a result, I save money and conserve energy.
Knitting itself has experienced a popular resurgence. Recent statistics show that 25% of American women under the age of 40 now regularly engage in the activity. It is a flexible and portable medium with endless creative possibilities. As a knitter and previous owner of a local yarn store, I am familiar with the properties of yarns, twines, and ropes as well as their varying abilities to withstand the elements. For centuries, fishermen have worn sweaters knit with wool yarns containing lanolin. The lanolin is a natural byproduct of sheep and acts as waterproofing agent while the wool provides warmth. Modern fibers, such as nylon and polypropylene, resist mildew and rot, are U.V. stabile, and withstand abrasion. These synthetic twines and ropes are a popular choice for use in marinas, fishing, and construction.
I propose to knit a “sweater” to keep a cool globe warm on chilly days. Using nylon twine, the sweater will be knit in four sections. Following the curves of the globe, I will knit the land areas in green and gold and the water areas with blue. After construction, the sections will be seamed together for a tight fit. As nylon has some give, it will easily accommodate the varied surface of the globe, much in the same way a sweater hugs the body. To decrease the possibility of vandalism, the nylon twine will be fairly thick, knitting at approximately 12 stitches a foot. As with any sweater, repairs can be made if necessary.
I made some swatches using a polpropolyne rope purchased from Home Depot which worked well, so I know I am on the right track. The quantity I need is more than Home Depot is able to supply, so I've contacted several suppliers for samples. I also contacted the artist Adele Shaw for her advice and she raised a point I hadn't considered. The type of rope I need is in hot demand since Hurricane Katrina. It's used to hold tarps in place over homes being rebuilt. One supplier believes they have what I need in terms of color and quantity. They are sending samples for me to swatch, so keep your fingers crossed.
I can do this - right?! This begins to take power knitting to the extreme. I'm not built like Pate Conaway. I don't have the muscles to handle 4' needles. Check out the photo. I am actually leaning while standing straight. I have scoliosis and the long hours of knitting and working at my embroidery frame leave me twisted like a pretzel. How many folks actually go to the gym for a knitting workout? Me. I need to get back to the gym, write the pattern (more on that soon), obtain the cord / rope, and varnish the globe.