Sunday, January 28, 2007

Knittings and purchases

As the last light of the weekend faded, I rushed out to take pictures.

Here is the rather large bootie and the shelf-fungus colored false entrelac scarf:
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And here is the sweater, which is going more slowly now that the Only Beloved Daughter is not driving me around:
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The wool/ angora/ nylon yarn is making a warm slubby soft fabric.

I behaved very, very badly at the SCA Birka Market.

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Replica Terra Sigillata cup like what I used to dig up in England and jug (lined with a slip of beeswax, smells wonderful), small black Belgic-style cup, one wooden spindle (severly underpriced, how could I leave it?, one spindle with detachable ceramic whorl like what I used to dig up in England, tiny (18" skein) niddy noddy, tiny cards for a tiny inkle loom (not shown)(I need to make heddles), a 1st c bc ceramic British spindle whorl somebody dug up, a holly-wood lucet, and a bodice dagger. My friend looked at my cleavage and remarked that I needed a bodice dagger as they always make her laugh. I was delighted to find this one, clean out of SCA period (at least in Europe), but perfect for me.

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then we went to the SCRAP party, where I took atrocious pictures and had a delightful time.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pirated from the NYT

January 27, 2007
Art Review | 'Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting'

Flair and Flash, Not Frumpiness

Long viewed as the domain of grandmothers, needlework has undergone an image makeover in the last decade. Snowboarders, the old torchbearers of alt.culture, have embraced crocheting, making beanies to wear on the slopes; coffeehouses and subways are filled with fashion-conscious types busily knitting or doing needlepoint. And contemporary artists like Andrea Zittel, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Orly Genger and Jim Drain and the Forcefield collective have given crafts a coolly conceptual edge.

Time then for an exhibition celebrating the unfrumpiness of craft, and, sigh, what better institution than one that recently went through its own makeover, changing its name from the American Craft Museum to the sexier Museum of Arts & Design?

The sorry news is that, despite its title, “Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting,” with around 40 works by 27 artists, is not a benchmark for introducing such crafts’ coolness or radicalism to a vast art audience. Rather than exploring transgressive takes on knitting, the exhibition, organized by David Revere McFadden, the museum’s chief curator, devotes most of its space to art that mimics the look or logic of knitting and lace and translates it into different materials.

In an essay in the show’s catalog, Mr. McFadden does invoke interactive performances held in abandoned warehouses and the London Underground and people who knit sweaters for “oil-spill-damaged penguins to wear in Antarctica” — the kind of activities you might associate with radical or subversive practice.

But in choosing the work for the show, he cites somewhat dated textile and crafts-based artists like Sophie Taeuber, Sonia Delaunay, Judy Chicago and Magdalena Abakanowicz as his models.

Much of the art on view is in the large-scale, virtuosic craft vein. Henk Wolvers’s flat sculptures created with porcelain slip, a form of liquid clay, borrow the tracery if not the actual patterns of lace. Piper Shepard’s “Lace Meander” is a series of hanging muslin scrolls into which the artist cut lace patterns with an X-Acto knife. Bennett Battaile’s delicate sculpture of thin glass rods and Barbara Zucker’s rubber sculptures both invoke lace-tracery in heavier materials.

Some of the artists address “issues of politics, gender and ethics,” as a wall text puts it, in a general way. Janet Echelman’s giant, hand-knotted nylon net hanging from the ceiling in the museum’s entryway recreates the look of a nuclear mushroom cloud. Freddie Robins’s sinister-looking gray-knit bodysuit, with the words “Craft Kills” emblazoned across the chest, alludes to the airline ban on knitting needles in the post-9/11 era.

The works most in keeping with the show’s politically charged title are more interactive and collective, or more related to performance. For example, Cat Mazza’s collectively crocheted “Nike Blanket Petition,” a campaign against sweatshop practices represented here in a series of photographs, will be sent to Nike’s corporate headquarters.

A video of Dave Cole’s “Knitting Machine” project shows two John Deere excavators wielding telephone poles tapered to look like knitting needles — and missiles — to knit a giant American flag in the courtyard of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass.

Sabrina Gschwandtner, an artist and founder of KnitKnit magazine, has set up a “Wartime Knitting Circle” surrounded by panels made of industrially knitted photos of Vietnam War protesters knitting, British women knitting woolen covers for World War II hand grenades, soldiers knitting during World War I.

She invites people to join her in knitting “blankets for recovery” for people in Afghanistan and troops convalescing in military hospitals, among other projects. (On the exhibition’s opening day, Ms. Gschwandtner was chatting and knitting with Phyllis Rodriguez, whose son died in the north tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and who has since befriended A├»cha el-Wafi, mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent serving a life sentence after his conspiracy conviction in the 9/11 attacks.

Needlework indeed has a radical past. William Morris, a mainstay of the Royal School of Needlework and the Arts and Crafts movement in England, protested late-19th-century industrial production. Feminist art in the 1970s drew heavily on so-called women’s work, and Rosemarie Trockel’s “knitting pictures” of the 1980s cleverly drew on political themes.

So many more artists might have been included whose work explores the social aspects of knitting and lace or who more radically recast these forms: Simon Perotin, of the punk-doily creations; the artisans in the Church of Craft; Ms. Zittel; Ms. Auerbach;, Mr. Drain; and so on.

Given the show’s title, some visitors will arrive wanting to know how needlework, which runs counter to our technology- and information-saturated age, has become such a cultural juggernaut, and how it might serve to break down the barriers between artist and amateur, art and craft. A few works here may well satisfy that desire. Most will not.

“Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting” runs through June 17 at the Museum of Arts & Design, 40 West 53rd Street, Manhattan. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Thursdays); closed on holidays. Admission: $9; $7 for students and 65+; and pay-what-you-wish on Thursdays after 6 p.m. Information: (212) 956-3535;

A series of public programs related to the exhibition is planned, including lectures, panel discussions, performance pieces and workshops in knitting, lace-making, crocheting, fabric-making, fabric-printing and digital design. Some events are free with museum admission; others require an additional fee that includes admission.

Beginning tomorrow and running every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. through June 3 will be “Well Crafted Weekends: Inter-Generational Workshops,” for those 6 and older; $7 per person or per family (up to four people). A detailed schedule is on the Web site.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Now, the magic of photography

Thank you for your kindness and your hectoring (Norma). You instill new ambition within my pectoral regions.

First, Marten:

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Only a picture in rapid motion would do him justice. He is brown where Asterix is blackish.

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Asterix when he weighed more

No knitting yet, though I have two charming cuffs. I need to get Doug's scarf by daylight and he is never at home when the sun is up except on weekends (and between the vernal and autumal equinoces).

Two shots of glazing after last week's ice storm, though, of which I am unreasonably proud:

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If you need a vicarious semester abroud, the Only Beloved Daughter's blog may be found at

Monday, January 22, 2007

Not dead yet

You get into a thing where you want to update but you think it's silly without pictures so you don't update because you keep forgetting to take the pictures and then when you do your camera batteries are shot and so you go look for the recharger and then you forget why you're in that room and you do the laundry and you take the other load upstairs and your room is so squalid you go and knit and then the next morning there you are wondering whether you are, in fact, dead, because you have not updated your blog. And your room is squalid and you really never will find the battery recharger, and that makes about three in the last ten years

I will buy some double A's.

Sarah came over yesterday and sat and knitted while I put away four months of laundry. Maybe only two. I have both floor and clean underwear again. I may get the room really tidy by the New Hampshire sheep and wool festival in May. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Sarah says she is not dead either, but she seems to have given up the whole blog thing. This is a pity because she is still knitting like a fiend.

But I have not taken any pictures.

After my cri-de-coeur about not caring about knitting any more I went on a binge and finished the faux entrelac scarf for Doug. It is way cool (think a woven-look shelf fungus) and apparently way warm, now that we have weather where scarves are a serious consideration (think of a picture). I had good intentions about not starting things without finishing other things, and as a result of this hubris the nearly finished second twined-knitting silk and alpaca mitten and the yarn disappeared totally (out of a locked car, which showed no other signs of burglary. Doug thinks it's in a bag). I really wish it would turn up. It was not under the laundry. I doubt that it is abiding with the battery charger, except metaphorically.

I made one and a half bootees for my boss's any-minute grandchild. As I had only one weight of superwash wool they will fit the child when he is about three, but as long as he likes Darth Maul he should be delighted with them (think of a picture. They are based on the Zebra Bootees in the bootee book). I have now got some green and yellow Baby Ull and no interest in making my boss's relative anything, but it's hardly the child's fault.

Meanwhile the Only Beloved Daughter has gone to a Better Place, which we call Italy. She landed yesterday, having left her breakfast and her favorite sweater in a rubbish bin in the Zurich airport (She bought a pink t-shirt in the gift shop to be decent in, poor child). Said sweater was a store-bought (you can exhale) very fine gauge purple angora and lambswool with the holes of short-stapled fiber appearing all over it; I think it is in Sweater Valhalla, where there are no moths and only valiant cats sleep on you. Before she left she had grudgingly ("You don't NEED another Project. You don't NEED more yarn.") consented to my starting a sweater in a Noro Silver Thaw that looks like an impressionist hyacinth field (the picture does not do it justice). I am doing Ann Budd's pullover, as OBD doesn't like the way raglans hang, only I did the back and front in the round with a false seam up to the divide for armholes. I began the sweater on January 12. To her amazement (and mine, and both our pleasure), I finished the back as she was driving us to her boyfriend's house on Friday the 19th. Yesterday I finished the front and started the sleeves. (Think of a picture.)

During the time that OBD (I think this will be a fine acronym for her, but her name is really Ellie, if I forget. I have an Only Beloved Son but he is at college in Maryland and not terribly communicative) was here, we continued the years-long lament for how bored Mena is. After some more havering, we have a shelter kitty named Marten (imagine a picture - he's a light brown tabby with white paws and mask). He is about a year old and a goof. Unfortunately Mena thinks he is disgusting and he keeps trying to play with her and Digger and Asterix and fur flys and ugly words howl through the woodsmoke. Marten (named and spelled for the protagonist of the webcomic Questionable Content)(in this link, he is the guy. Not the librarian) thinks they are BOOOOOR-ING.

OBD wanted us not to get a kitten because she points out that older kitties have more trouble getting adopted, which is, of course, true. There are an awful lot of beautiful kitties in the Bedford and Manchester shelters. The ones that hurt worst were the fat 8 and 9 year olds whose owners had to move out of cat-friendly residences, or at least that's what they told the shelter. But we wanted a young cat and a male, which let out about 7/8 of the talent. Marten is a sweetie. But Mena might have felt more comfortable with a kitten, and I am still having midlife-kitten hunger. So I am still looking for sweet little male kitten, in a sneaky, guilty way.

We are unusual in our region for actually having had some snow. Think of a picture of the orange pin flags (marking the bulbs I planted last fall) on the white hillside, like the flags of a leprechaun slalom. I will get batteries.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year!

Usually's it's my mother who gets the post-Halloween blues; she was doing fine this year until her oldest dearest friend died on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I was doing so-so, and although some of the immediate difficulties (human relationships. You have to wonder if they are worth the trouble...) seem better, I wouldn't say anything has changed dramatically. I think I am in a little plateau of 'Meh.' It's WAY better than deep depression, but not a lot of fun.

The worst feeling this has brought is that I can take or leave wool alone. I know. Don't hate me. It makes me spotty about reading the posts even of people I care about. I just am not interested in someone's else's socks, nor my own (well, actually, there have been a few links
I have checked up, I'm not really dead yet). I finished my father's socks and my mother's neck thing and my friend's fingerless mitts (I made them for Grace to give to Debbie... now, do I owe Debbie or Grace a Christmas present? ). I have a hell of a lot of roving and yarn and not a great deal of ambition and this makes shopping problematic.

Meanwhile I am knitting on a false entrelac alpaca scarf and trying to finish the twined knitting red silk/merino/alpaca mittens I stated in Dec of 2005. If I try to finish one thing for every project I start I should end up in better shape. And I have made room reservations for the Portland Spa because I know by February I will need bright colors and human contact and maybe even wool. (Well, not need wool, as such).

The number of things that I am very, very grateful for not being worse has skyrocketed; too many friends had Christmastides punctuated by screaming fights or arrests or debilitating illness.

(Does anyone have a good book to offer my friend whom, I finally realized, blindingly obviously needs to seek out Al-Anon? I am not aware of anything in the 'Co-Dependent No More' line that is any more recent.)

My cat (Asterix, 17+) has an enlarged thyroid and needs help, and as he is the last survivior I know of his litter I imagine this is the slow slide into shadow... he's deaf, but does he HAVE to yowl so loud? I know he's there. So we will be going to the vet and trying oral medication for his eating/digestive ills. In the meantime, the household wants a young kitty for Mena (9 or ten and feisty) to smack around.

I have a cold. I got it last Wednesday. I was better Sunday, so I stayed up too late, drank more than a glass of wine, exercised yesterday, and relapsed last night into mouthbreathing and sore throat. I need to go to work today anyhow, as I was out the last two days of last year. We'll discuss my attitude about work some other time.

I am going to try to blog, or write in my journal, or draw a picture five out of seven days in the year to come. I sincerely think these are good for feeling stuck.