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bangles

Chunkyknitwit43_liana_kabel
"Distance lends enchantment to relatives and friends."  -- Chinese proverb

I love mail. Don't you?  My bangles from Liana Kabel arrived all the way from Australia. And they are GORGEOUS!! Red and white vintage knitting needles fashioned into bangles.  I immediately slipped them on and struck various fashionable poses much to the amusement of my daughter.  I don't care.  They are so cool!!!!!!!!!!!   Perfect! Perfect! Perfect!  Just in time for the Cool Globes gala opening.

Another blogging friend is sending a ring she's fashioned from a vintage silver spoon.  I hope it arrives in time.  This is so exciting.  Just two weeks ago I was sweating what to wear.  And now I will be the belle of the ball!

I have been amazed by the generosity so many of you have offered.  I didn't realize my clothing dilemma would strike such a nerve.  Another person wrote to offer some cocktail outfits she had hibernating in her closet.   I am going to stick with my hand-knit shell and silk trousers, but what a kind and generous offer. 

I don't know what that Chinese wise guy was thinking, but for this ol' gal distance has indeed brought many enchantments. 


flappers

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"Where's the man could ease a heart
Like a satin gown?"
    --  Dorothy Parker

I was made to be born in the 1920's - the era of the boobless woman.   Today's fashion smacks of Madonna's torpedoes.  The bigger the better.  Spray-flocked shirts topping jeans built like sausage casings.   Oh, ugh.   

I am knitting a shell to go with my black silk pants for the gala opening of Cool Globes.  It is fitting given I knitted a sweater for the globe.  I won't tease with pics of my knitting in progress, but shall give you a brief description.  Black and white cotton blend yarn with a dash of black beads sprinkled along the front.  Little shaping and a deeply cut, key hole back clasped with a large vintage button.  Ooh, la, la!  Seriously.  I am in love with this knitting.  I haven't made myself a sweater, sock, hat or vest in over seven years. The pattern isn't original.  I've been a bit brain dead, so I am adapting a pattern from Rowan's book number 30.  Look toward the back, you'll find it. 

The yarn comes from my dwindling stash left from days as owner of the Weaving Workshop.  It's not ecofriendly with its bits of polyester and nylon, but I feel smug in my ripping a previously started cardigan (and never to be finished as it was so boring.  Whatever possessed me...?) to reuse and refashion into this stunning little number.  I will be so swell.  The bell of the ball, oui, n'est-ce pas. 

In the past few months, I have taken a decidedly crafty turn.  Creativity doesn't have to be defined by the number of exhibitions in which one participates.  I know, stunning no brainer, but I have been on this art hamster wheel for the past decade and need to start thinking of how to turn this creativity on myself.  My granny square blanket is slowly, but surely evolving.  I pulled out my stash of beads left from owning a wholesale jewelry company (prior to my days of owning the Weaving Workshop) and fashioned myself some new earrings and a necklace for my daughter.  I am pondering a needlepoint cover for a Victorian era chair that I inherited from my grandmother.  It looks a bit shabby now that Josie the Monster Pup used it for teething.  She missed the wood, but shredded the upholstery.  How such a small thing (4.6 lbs and full grown, I kid you not.) can cause so much destruction in the blink of an eye is still one of the world's wonders. 

This change in thinking couldn't have happened without you.  It's been nearly a year since I joined the blogging world and in this short time I have made many new friends, been reacquainted with friends lost in the past, been encouraged, needled, and blessed.  I can't do much more than say thank you.  Well, okay, I can learn how to use my fancy little digital camera so I may visually share more of what I am doing for both my home, my family and my art, but that is another year.....

For more great images of vintage knitting and fashion, go to Vintage Craft Publications.


every square inch

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"Perseverance, secret of all triumphs."  --  Victor Hugo

By now I know every square inch of my globe's surface.  Yes, prior to knitting a sweater for my globe I painted it.  What can I say?  I'm a perfectionist.  I knew the globe's surface would be seen through the mesh of the knit fabric, so I made sure that what was seen matched my quality standards.  A shiny blue and green marble protected by a 32 lb monster of a sweater. 

After high winds and  rain forced the "ruffles" of the northern hemisphere to shift south, I was faced with the unpleasant prospect of ripping and re-knitting.  Yesterday, I did just that.  The knitting took less time as I removed over 40 rows and 24 stitches, but it certainly was more difficult.  Have you ever knit upside down?  Or twisted like a pretzel?  I was working on site, so I couldn't unbolt the globe and turn her on her side, so there I was upside down and twisted like a pretzel. 

I was the unexpected performance.  "Hey honey, look over there!  There's an artist!  A real live artist!  Let's see if she will talk to us!" - Or was I really just an outdoor exhibit extension for the Field Museum? -  I mean really.  Does anyone address the business fellow in such a manner as he clickety clacks away on his computer while commuting to work?  The comment was funny the first time, but incredibly annoying after the 40th.  I like to work in and with the public, but the zoo show commentary was bizarre.  It makes me wonder about this image of the artist as eccentric and loner.  Okay, I admit that knitting a globe in the wind and sun while upside down and twisted like a pretzel may be viewed as slightly eccentric, but I find it equally odd to walk into a cafe and see everyone, and I mean everyone, bent over their laptops ignoring the world around them.  Do they send secret emails to each other?  What happened to cafes as places to socially interact? 

But I digress, the globe is back to a pristine sphere.  Or is she?  Last night brought more high wind and rain........  Fingers crossed.




knit picky

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"Better to repair the pen after the sheep have escaped than not at all."  --  Chinese proverb

The matter is settled.  I must fix the southern hemisphere.  My ruffles and flourishes at the top slid south.  Rain acted as a greater lubricant than anticipated.  Lesson learned and not to be repeated. 

A number of globes require repair.  Torrential rain and severe winds wreaked havoc on them last week, but I am pleased that despite it's slight deformity, my globe is stable.   The technicians at Chicago Scenic did not see the need for repair.  But I am  knit picky. I need my sphere.  A day's work will return it back to shape without much muss or fuss.   Goodbye Gilbert Grape. Big Blue the Blueberry returns.



Big Blue

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"Ripple of blue in which are
distinct blues.  Bold
centaur-seahorse-salt-carnation
flower of work and transition." 
  --  Denise Levertov

Mixed feelings. "Warm Up Chicago: Wear a Sweater," affectionately known as Big Blue the Blueberry is no longer the lovely sphere I had created.  Wind and rain have already created dramatic changes.  There is some sag along the South Pole where cord had once been knitted smooth and taut.  C_lindsay_obermeyer_big_blue_6

Possible causes -  The industrial polyester braid I used had more give than told.  The gentle ripples along the northern hemisphere proved to be too heavy and shifted.  My knitting was not as taut as I thought. 

I don't know.

I can't say the piece looks bad.  It doesn't.  The turtleneck at the North Pole is askew.  It could do with a small "yank" and shift, but the draping sag gives the piece new meaning and possibilities. But it isn't what I visualized.  I loved the neatness of the sphere. 

Do I leave it alone?  Or do I request permission to reknit the lower 1/8th of the globe now that it has already been installed and seen by thousands?  It is easily visible from the southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive and near the main entrance into the Field Museum.  I really couldn't ask for better placement. I didn't realize that it was visible from Lake Shore Drive until I was driving home and saw it in the rear view mirror.  I was so proud, which made me freak out even more.  Should I consider this an experiment in progress?   I've never knit anything so large (not counting the Red Thread Project).  I've never knit with polyester braid.  I've never left my work out in the rain for extended periods of time.  I wanted to prove that knitting is an outdoor medium that lends itself to sculptures and installations.  Have I proved that despite the unanticipated sag?  Am I being a perfectionist and should get over myself?   

My friend Lisa Whiting, fellow artist and installation knitter, is joining me tomorrow to take a look at Big Blue.  I need another opinion.  I need to figure out what the heck happened. I take pride in my skills, so the sag is annoying.  I didn't make it, so it shouldn't be there.  Oh, ugh.

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After pondering, photographing and quizzing dozens of passerby for their opinions, I took a walk.  It didn't stop me thinking, but the initial urge to scream was short circuited.


designer needle felting

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"Many things difficult to design prove easy to performance."  -- Samuel Johnson

Wooo hoooo!  See that photograph?  I designed and made those pillows.  Front cover of the new needle felting book from Lark Books.  I'm so excited! 

The pillows are based on gouache studies I've been making the past 3 years.
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The pillows were an experiment.  Could I translate my art into my design work?  The gouaches are based on observations of various cell structures.  I am fascinated by the patterns lurking below the skin.  I am pleased with the results.  I want to make a rug based on similar ideas.  A proposal has been sent to another editor for inclusion in a crochet book, so keep your fingers crossed for me. 

Designer Needle Felting
is scheduled for release on October 1st.  My other designs include a large, over-the-shoulder knitting / shopping bag, jewelry, and hair adornments.   I can't wait to see the work by the others! 


ecocouture

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"Oh never mind the fashion. When one has a style of one's own, it is always twenty times better."  --  Margaret Oliphant

I am still obsessing about what to wear to the Cool Globe's gala opening.  Really, it is so silly, but I rarely have the opportunity to dress up and simply can't let this opportunity slip by me without a bit of fun.  I have officially given up any hope of ever finding a dress to fit , whether new or vintage, and will once again pull out my trusty black silk pants.  But the top and the accessories are up for grabs.

I've received a slew of emails since my last mention of this topic.  Anni (of Anni Holm fame) sent the above image, a dress completely knitted from recycled plastic bags by the artist Cathy Kasden.  I know the slogan for Cool Globes is "Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet," but I would swelter in a plastic dress.                                           
Yet she was on the right track, the idea is to wear something befitting the theme.  It needs to something ecofriendly.  And given that I knitted a sweater for my globe, my top should be hand-knit.

I could work with organic cotton or green cotton.  And then there are the new sustainable fibers such as bamboo and corn.  Hmmm.  I looked at numerous websites on ecocouture, recycled fashion, and my personal favorite, haute trash, but much of what I am seeing looks more like a costume than an outfit. 
I fell in love with Uncommon Goods, a website featuring elegant goods from recycled materials.  And then the light bulb clicked. 

I remembered the work of Liana Kabel.

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Aren't her bracelets fashioned from vintage knitting needles just the coolest dashes of color!  One snag, she lives in Australia.  Not exactly local, but I may just have to have one....


sweet pea

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"Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They came through you but not from you." 
        --  Kahlil Gibran

From the death of Nicolae Ceausescu came my daughter. 

It was 1990 and the American media was filled with stories about the Romanian orphanages.    In his attempt to create a great nation, Ceausescu had outlawed all forms of birth control.  The population exploded, but the ability to care and feed all these children did not keep pace.  When the orphanages were full, their doors were opened to the world.

My godmother had been attempting to adopt a child for several years.   When the Romanian orphanages became known, she filed the necessary papers for an international adoption.  One faithful May morning I received a call from my godmother telling me to pack my bags, we were due in Romania in just 4 days.  I was going with her to assist in the adjustment, to be the nanny while she was in court.

My transition to Mom came four years later.  News came through another phone call. "Your godmother has died."  Honestly, my knees went wobbly.  I didn't have time to process her death.  My godmother had named me as both executor of her will and guardian of any children.   

I had just become a mother - of a bouncy 50lb baby girl aged 7. 

Yesterday we celebrated her 19th birthday.  I still can't believe that such good fortune rose up from so much misfortune. 


rainbow

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"My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky."  --  William Wordsworth

The rainbow made me forget the 30 degree drop in temperature. Chicago is known for its mercurial weather, but the drop from 86 to 56 in just two days is making me more than slightly stir crazy.  The kids too.  They are tired of being cooped up inside.  They want to race around on the playground, not make art.  I can't blame them.  It's time to wear shorts and sandals.  Or better yet, forget the sandals and pater about with bare feet. 

Announcing to one and all, Sweet Pea is officially 19 today.  I say "officially" as she has been telling everyone for months that she is 19.  Remember when getting older was actually exciting?  These days I bless the checkout clerk who cards me for a wine purchase. 


cocktail dress

Ballgownspauqetearly1860s
"In art, a dress is never just a dress; nor in life either."  -- Mason Cooley

On June 2nd I am attending the gala opening for Cool Globes and don't have a thing to wear.  Black silk dress slacks - blah.  Red velvet tunic - wrong season.  Silk crepe blouse with rhinestone buttons - stained.  I thought of making a dress out of some handwoven ikat silk from Cambodia that I have squirreled away, but I am a lousy seamstress and don't have time to practice.  And then again, maybe it is a shade tooooo pink, like as in Schapirelli, glow-in-the-dark hot pink.

So what do I do?  I go shopping.

Ugh.  I tried on dress after dress after dress.  Junior high taunts  of "You are a carpenter's delight, flat as a board!" echoed in my head.  Nothing fit properly.  So I moved to dressy separates and again nothing fit properly, the choices were dull as mud, and everything was too expensive for my budget.  And have you noticed how the lighting in these dressing rooms make everyone look at least 10 years older?  What is with that?!  I felt like the step-sister left at home with no hope of a fairy godmother. 

A dress is never just a dress, it must be the perfect dress.  One that makes me feel years younger, ready to party and absolutely gorgeous dahling.    I could knit a beaded shell to go with my blah black slacks, but again, don't have the time.  I don't know what I am going to do.

I need to be gorgeous dahling, absolutely gorgeous. 

Image from Wikipedia.  If you want a laugh, read about the etiquette on wearing ball gowns.  Thank goodness I only need a cocktail outfit.

And thanks Rachel, your comment couldn't have been better timed.