January 31, 2006
Self portrait tuesday - the fashion sense runs in the family
When my granddad died almost eleven years ago, my grandma gave me a bag of some of his polyester trousers to cut up. These ones I kept, because she said they had been his favourite pair, and the other ones became strips for a braid rug (that I'm still working on, but I'm going to make it a priority this summer to get it done).
My granddad had a blue cardigan that he often wore with a red golf shirt underneath, and although I don't know if he ever would have paired that with these plaid trousers, I always imagine him dressed that way. He's quite possibly where I got my innate ability to always choose the items that clash the most.
I've been hanging on to these trousers all this time, unable to cut them up or throw them out but unable to wear them as well, because I care too much about how my butt looks and the fit was. . . well, not very flattering. So this morning I finally hit on a solution: I cut the trousers off just below the crotch and slid the whole thing up, resulting in a calf-length skirt that maybe hugs my butt a little too tightly, but that's still preferable to the diaper look. I'm wearing it today, with a belt that used to be my dad's.
January 30, 2006
Doing it for my country
This is a bandwagon that I was resisting jumping on, and I've been holding out on y'all about why. I've had two sweater designs accepted by JCA yarns for their fall 2006 line, and the time frame in which to knit the items and write up the patterns is very, very short. I'm also working on a sample and pattern for another design, which will be in Amy Swenson's upcoming crochet book. Oh yeah, and there's still that other thing, what was it? Oh. I remember. Grad school. So knitting for myself is sort of out of the picture right now. As is sleep.
But. My country is calling, and I can't refuse. I'm sure my mother will approve*. I've decided to make one of my JCA sweater designs (the more complicated one that's done on the tiny needles, because I am CRAZY) my Knitting Olympics project. The only glitch is that aside from a few artful photos to show off the gorgeous, gorgeous yarn I get to use, I can't really show my progress on the blog. So at the end of the Olympics, I am going to send Stephanie a photo to prove I succeeded (assuming I do. . . ), and the rest of you will have to trust that I'm not fooling and inflating how much I got done. Okay?
I can't even tell you how badly I want one of these Team Canada jerseys. But sadly, my paypal is empty right now and the deadline to order is tomorrow, so I'll just be writing "Team Canada" in Sharpie marker on an old t-shirt instead. I'm sure my country will understand.
* Just think about it -- it would be like as if we were doing it for the CN Tower, or Lake Louise, or the Toronto Maple Leafs... it would be like as if we were doing it for... Tim Hortons!
**Thanks to Kelly for the button!
January 29, 2006
Saturday Sunday morning
It's just a restless feeling. . .
I spent all evening yesterday making 5 months of my chat log with Peter into .gif images, printing them out on top of these litho/woodcuts, then covering them all with a layer of transparent base to protect the inkjet ink from wiping off. The text is impossible to see until you get up close:
There are five panels (it looks like ten above, but they'll be sewn together in pairs). I had a bunch of pronto plate stuff I was going to print on here as well, but the prints are way too busy already, the text is obscured already to the point where half of it is unreadable (this is what I wanted), and I'm really digging the surface of these just the way they are. So I'm just going to skip ahead to what I'd planned to be the last run, and layer the Venus Prodigiosa block over them tomorrow, in white. Now that I've taken the background off, she won't cover much.
I also started cutting away at this block again, clearing out the background like the others.
I think I'll just cut out a rough sort of halo around the figure and carve some patterns into the background, then pull some prints with her that way before clearing it out completely. This was originally supposed to be a companion piece for the Thirteen Girls, but then I decided that wasn't necessary, and I haven't made many prints from this block yet.
Tomorrow I'm going to print out the chat logs on some new paper, and maybe some other prints that aren't so heavy, so I'm starting with more visible text to print my pronto plates onto. I'm also going to do some letterpress printing, and maybe play around a little with our brand new wacom tablet, if I can wrest it from Jessica's hands (she did some awesome stuff with it last night). It's way fun, and is on its way to becoming the most sought-after tool in our shop.
Here's the promised close-up of the vintage wooden buttons I used on my Must Have cardigan. I think I can call them vintage, since these days that just means "old". I cut them off an old sweater about ten years ago, and have been hoarding them ever since.
There will be more knitting news tomorrow, and some of it's exciting, so stay tuned. No time now, though; I've got plates to draw.
January 24, 2006
the cool light of morning
Having slept on it (and sobered up) I feel a little better about this, and considerably less melodramatic (sorry about that, y'all. Blame the beer; while I didn't have much, I drank it FAST). However, anything shitty I might have said last night about certain Ontario women who chose to support the patriarchy, I still stand by. Those women are stupid.
This government will be weak and can't last any longer than the previous one; the margin by which they won is so slender that they're essentially hobbled, and won't be able to do as much damage as I'd feared. And I can't wait to see that smarmy jackass Harper have to wheedle and make deals with the opposition; good luck with that, asshole.
January 23, 2006
citizens of Canada, I am not above begging
Please, please don't give Stephen Harper a majority government today. Please. I know the Liberals are corrupt, but Harper is against everything that Canada stands for. He will take away your right to marry. He will take away your reproductive rights. He has said in this election campaign that he will not privatize our health care, but he lies. He has also said that he would not send Canadian troops to Iraq, yet he was fully in support of the US invasion. He has shown contempt for Canada's ethnic minorities. He will scrap our Kyoto objectives. He is against women being paid an equal wage to men. (In fact, go dig around that site a little bit, and also this one and this one, to hear just what Harper stands for in his own words). You might have thought that Rick Mercer's proposed Conservative cabinet was a funny joke, but it could be horrible, horrible reality.
Please don't give him the power to make these sweeping changes to our country simply as a knee-jerk reaction to the Liberal government's current scandal. I want to come back home to the same Canada I left, not to a Canada that looks just like the United States.
Why not try this instead?
January 21, 2006
Studio Saturday: distractions
I'm taking the letterpress class this semester, and I'm pretty excited about it; it's been about fifteen years since I've printed on the letterpress, and the school I was at back then only had one of those little hand crank proofing presses, on which all the printing was done. Here's my first sample, in 18pt Garamond bold (which I guess I won't be using for anything, since it took ALL the lower case "e"s in the tray to set up these two lines):
In case y'all can't make out the immortal words of the bard backwards, here's the proof I pulled.
Yup. Ketchup loves potatoes.
Although I did a bit of hacking on panel #2 of the woodcut,
not a lot of progress was made this week, for a number of reasons. I'm taking two classes that have a brutal amount of reading, and didn't really budget my time for it very well, which I'll have to get better at. We had a visiting artist, Mark Hosford, at Green St. this week and we editioned a silk screen print with him. I didn't think to take any photos in the studio but next week I'll show you the print we made.
The other distraction is my new badge maker. I've been using it so much that I already know exactly which part of my hand my next repetitive stress injury will occur in. But, look!
This is some of my first batch, which I've been carrying around all week in a baggie so I can hand them out to people. They're all made from found paper: old maps, blueprints and other papers I dug out of garbage cans. Today I walked over to Potter's House and bought a bunch of old popular science books, and here's some of today's batch:
Most of these are from the books, some are from a woodcut print that one of my professors threw in the garbage, and I also tried some fabric (the pink jaguar print) and stretch lace. The only ones I printed are the forty-five record inserts, and they're printed on found paper too.
These will be available in my shop (soon! I promise!), as soon as I can get arsed to send Peter some good photos so he can finish up the style sheets for the shop pages.
January 20, 2006
That Must Have Cardigan is going to be one dirty sweater
Because I have hardly taken it off since finishing it.
Excuse the crappiness of the photo, I was in too great a hurry to set up the tripod and do it right. I finished this for Tuesday just like I said I would, but it's been a crazy week, too crazy to take the time to shoot a decent image of it, let alone post it here. I'll try to get a better one over the weekend.
Specs: the Must Have Cardigan from the Patons Street Smart booklet. I think I made the medium size, but it may have been the small (if I could find the leaflet right now I'd know for sure, but I've lost it somewhere, and had to make up the button band on my own). At any rate, it's quite fitted and a little short, because I made it as small as I could to save yarn. It doesn't have the buttonband gappyness I feared, but comes close. I'm never going to do up all the buttons anyway, and so far have just been closing the top two.
The yarn is a two-tone orange lambswool, recycled from a men's sweater bought secondhand. I should just save myself some typing and come up with an acronym for that, since I almost never buy new yarn for anything. I had just barely enough yarn to finish, and actually had to go digging in my garbage pile of little scraps and ends to find a 15" piece to spit-splice into my bind off row on the buttonband. I am very, very lucky. As it is, the bind off ought to have been a tad looser, but I think I can block it out. If I can't, it'll just have to curl a little, because there is NO YARN left.
The buttons are vintage wooden ones that I've been saving for around ten years, waiting for the perfect thing to put them on. This is definitely it. (a close up of the buttons to come).
My other exciting new acquisition of the week is one of these, and I've been playing with it during all of my little scraps of spare time this week (there hasn't been much of that, so I may also have played with it when I was supposed to be, um, reading stuff for class. woops.). Tonight I'm taking it home so that I won't be tempted to use it in the studio when I should be doing my real work; I'll have some pictures of my first batch of buttons tomorrow.
January 17, 2006
Self portrait tuesday - a dramatic recreation
This January Personal History Challenge is a bit difficult for me, as I'm living almost eight hundred miles from home and don't have access to my trove of old family mementoes for plundering. This photo was taken last summer while on vacation; I guess Whiskey Cellphone Night(tm) brings out the ten-year-old in me.
On my dad's side of the family I'm the oldest of the cousins, but that never meant that I was one to set a good example for the rest. This photo reminded me of a day long ago, when I sat at the back of my long, dark bedroom closet while Hazel brought the cousins in one by one, and when they were in position and peering into the darkness I turned on the flashlight under my chin to scare them. The littlest cousin, KJ, came last, and I frightened her so badly that she was extremely wary of me for a year or two after that.
This is why it's a good thing I don't have kids, I guess.
January 14, 2006
Studio Saturday: bring out your dead
Here I am, trying to put one over on y'all and pass off the same old wood block as new work. This is what I did this week, started hacking the background off the blocks to get rid of the horrible wood grain. I also spent a great deal of time sharpening my tools, which I didn't think to get a picture of. You'll just have to trust me that they're good and sharp, except for the one I've been cutting this block with, because, jeez. Such crappy wood.
I started cutting into one of the new blocks of the same image; just little lines for the first colour, then both blocks will be reduced in stages and printed on top of each other, back and forth. I'm thinking about putting a wallpaper-ish pattern in the background on the new blocks. I was thinking of using a William Morris wallpaper pattern but couldn't find one that was exactly what I wanted, but he did do a carpet with a lotus flower that is clearly designed to be a repeating pattern, so I'm going to print that out from the computer repeated and see how I like it. I wanted a lotus design because of the Buddha-esque pose, but it's also a cunty little flower, which is a very nice bonus.
Speaking of the naughty bits, I dug out this old thing today:
I put the ground on this plate over a year ago and haven't gotten around to etching it yet, but I hope to soon (and the four other plates that make up the rest of the figure, too). It's just sort of a pain in the arse, because we don't have good enough ventilation at Green St. to have a nitric acid bath, so we have to take zinc plates up to the undergrad studio to bite them. Wah. It's not like there isn't a bus right from one front door to the other, I've just felt way too lazy to do it.
So the reason I got the plates out was to trace the images onto Pronto plates so that I can do a couple of Sharpie drawings to print on top of or underneath the zinc plates. This is basically the same image as the thirteen girls, so I'll have lots of options for printing these: the etchings, the old lino block and as many Pronto plates as I feel like making.
That's right. I dug out old unfinished work from a year ago and traced it onto a piece of plastic and I'm showing it to y'all like it's new work. For shame.
For those of you who only come here for the knitty, I should have a finished Must Have Cardigan to show off in a couple of days. It's been put together for a week, but needs a wee mistake fixed up before I do the button band (I've decided to go for the buttons rather than a zipper, since the vintage wooden buttons I've been saving are just too perfect for this sweater not to use). I'm aiming to wear it on Tuesday; stay tuned.
And thick and fast they came at last, and more, and more, and more
We had some wild weather here yesterday, with periods of torrential downpoar (which I got caught in on the way home, whee!) and big, big winds. The last of the pecans have finally been wrenched from the trees; at times during the evening it sounded like a hailstorm with all the pecans falling on my roof. This morning I went out and collected a big bowl of them. What should I make?
January 11, 2006
Childhood landmarks and favourite places, vanished
This barn used to have a huge sign on the side that asked passersby "Where will You be in Eternity?". It's just south of London Ontario, and I have no idea how long it's been gone; Peter drives past there much more often than I do and he says it's been a few years.
This empty expanse of nothing is out on Highway 4 between Clandeboye and Centralia. There used to be a little yellow brick church here which sat empty for a while and was in bad shape, and when I was a teenager some Franciscan monks moved in, erected scaffolding and started fixing the old place up. I would see them in town sometimes, going to the bank, shopping, always friendly, always smiling, and always dressed in brown cassocks, just like real monks from storybooks. There was some sort of dispute with the diocese in London and the Franciscans got kicked out; the building eventually died of old age and neglect without them and ended up being bulldozed.
The churchyard is still there, looking a bit lost with a big empty space next to it instead of a church. Still, every time we drive past the spot I look for it, and usually point to it and say to Peter "there's the Franciscans", as if they're still there. Or as if he's going to forget that they were there, when really how could he if I insist on telling him every single time? Jeez, I just now realized how annoying that must be. Sorry, Pete. But ten bucks says that by the time we head up that way again I'll have forgotten I'm sorry, and I'll be pointing at a bare spot once again, saying "the Franciscans. . . ".
Sorry about the poor photo quality, but they were all taken from a car on bleak December days. That sort of suits my mood today though; today someone I care about decided to throw in the towel and quit blogging because of a totally undeserved, unbelievably cruel flaming he received on some asshole's blog. It reminded me of my dear friend M., who was driven from LiveJournal years ago by some stalkerish shits who hurt her pretty badly and then followed her around and continued to harass her as she moved her blog to different locations around the internet. It seems this place is just one big playground, complete with all the stupid, petty bullshit and abusive recess-time dynamics we all thought we'd left behind in grade four. I thought this was a place where I could find my own friends and not have to stand on the sideline wishing those girls would let me jump their rope, but I guess if you get a large enough group of people together you're bound to have some shithead bullies in the mix. Gah. It all makes me so mad. R., I'm really going to miss you.
January 10, 2006
Self portrait tuesday - thirty(plus)-year-old owies
Something my mom dug up for me as part of my futile attempt to get out of having shots last summer.
That doctor was the doctor who assisted my birth, and also the doctor who assisted my mom's birth. I was his first grandchild, in the obstetric sense.
January 07, 2006
Studio Saturday: swatching for my supper
I've been putting together a submission package of design ideas all this week, and my work space has been the kitchen table, the bed, across a coffeeshop table from Peter, the passenger seat of the car, and the folding table I use as a computer desk. I had to have it all finished for this morning, so that Peter could take it home with him and ship it from there, since it's going to an address in Canada. Now that that's done, I can seam up my Must Have and move on to finishing up the Urban Aran, then maybe start something new.
I'm looking forward to getting back into the studio; last semester I had a lot of trouble settling in, but I need to put that behind me and get down to work. My productivity always seems to follow the same seasonal pattern: I always experience a slump in the fall, followed by renewed energy after the new year and a smoking, productive spring. It's time to stop moping around and start doing the work I came here to do. Tomorrow I'll go in to the studio and do some cleaning up, and get the shop ready for the new semester. And then get to work.
Peter left this morning, and is probably somewhere in North Carolina by now. I'm hoping he'll be back sometime in February but that's not set in stone. He says it'll be easier for us to be apart this time, since we both know what to expect and we've already survived one term apart (one down, five to go!). But after he drove away this morning I still cried a little, then wandered around the shack feeling lost, not knowing what to do with myself. I took a bath, read my book, caught up on blogs and tried to feel normal again, but just now one of the Neil Young songs that Peter likes to play on his guitar came on, and there go the floodgates again, wide open. Gah.
Thankfully we had beautiful weather for our week in Athens, for a change. Until now it's been cold and rainy pretty much every time Peter came here. But this week was like late spring, warm and sunny (two days in a row that felt like about eighteen celcius!). We walked downtown every day, feeling the air and marveling, is it really December 31st today? Is it really January 3rd? Eight hundred miles south make a huge difference, the sun is much higher in the sky here than it is at home. And while it makes my body feel messed up, like I've gone to sleep and awakened in the wrong season, it felt wonderful to go for walks with Peter, shedding jackets and sweaters, relaxing shoulder and neck muscles that become habitually tensed from the cold. Now I can see the benefits of moving south. If I could feel like this and still have snow, life here would be perfect.
January 05, 2006
I could have used this last week when I had all those Lotto 6/49 tickets
I got a special surprise in the mail yesterday. It was addressed to "RESIDENT", but I know it was meant just for me.
Someone wants to pray for me. How nice of them!
Inside was this Prayer Rug, which is beautifully printed on the finest newsprint and also Soaked with the Power of Prayer just for Me! There was also a lovely pamphlet telling me all about the other people who had been Saved or Healed! or Blessed with Money and a 6-bedroom House and a New Car. Also there was a nice personal letter (addressed to Dear. . . Someone Connected with This Address) telling me how to kneel on the rug and where to put it after and offering for everyone in their church to pray for me to receive any of the blessings I check off on their list, and all I have to do is pray on the rug and return it to them with a Seed Gift to the Lord! It only makes sense that a donation would be required, since most of the blessings they expect people to ask for have to do with money.
So I knelt on the rug just like they said to, and stared into the closed eyes of Jesus and prayed about sowing a seed gift to the Lord's Work. And his eyes opened and gazed into mine, just like the letter said they would! I felt blessed; I felt the warm light of Jesus shining down on me. Or up on me, actually, since Jesus was on the floor and I was kneeling on him. Whatever, don't nitpick my religious experience, okay? So I checked off on their list all the ways I want to be blessed (A Closer Walk With Jesus; My Soul; Confusion In My Home which I think might mean "my son says he's gay" or "my daughter wants to go to college instead of getting married", but since I'm so often confused about stuff I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask for a blessing to get rid of my Confusion), and now I'm all ready to send it back with my Seed Gift. I'm going to send them all my Canadian Tire Money, and the pecans I picked up out of the driveway. Because pecans are expensive, you could plant an orchard and bless a lot of people with the profits. Also, Everyone needs Hardware, Even the Lord.
People, I may just be saved. I'll keep you posted.
Block me baby, block me baby, all night long
Just for Sandy, who didn't really believe that I would finish one of my cardigans over the break, here's a picture of the Must Have Cardigan blocking. Now how long do you think it will take me to do the finishing? Maybe I should ask those people to pray for my productivity.
January 03, 2006
Self portrait tuesday - lazy morning
We've been lazy this week, and stayed in bed until ten o'clock this morning. We are back in Athens now, and Peter will be here with me for four more nights. Once he's gone it'll be easier to kick lazy habits, since there won't be any reason to stay huddled in bed.
January 01, 2006
Things I learned in 2005
There are only two degrees of separation between me and Vincent Van Gogh, the same number as between me and Alice Munro, even though Alice is still alive and lives near my hometown and I could go knock on her door anytime.
Norma and Claudia are not sisters. That might not come as a surprise to most of y'all, but somehow I'd gotten the impression that they were sisters, and I always wondered why Claudia and Silvia would link to each other when they said "my sister", and never to Norma. I thought they were playing favourites, and couldn't figure out why they'd be so mean to Norma when they otherwise seem so nice. Well. I only figured it out about a month ago when Claudia referred to Norma as her "friend". Duh.
It's no use arguing with crackpots, you should just walk away instead. Not that I walk away from arguments, mind you. I just learned that you SHOULD.
When Southerners say "bless your heart", that's an insult. It means you're stupid.
Pecans aren't any cheaper in Georgia just because they're local. Even if you can listen to them landing on your roof all night every night, you can still go next door to the BiLo and pay a freaking fortune for them.
Living eight hundred miles away from your home and the person you love for four months at a time is really, really hard. Really hard. I'm hoping that what I'll learn in 2008 is that it's worth it.
What I've learned so far in 2006: if you go to bed early with a migraine in a room next door to where teenage boys are rocking out with drums and a bass guitar, don't expect the migraine to go away. Also: champagne makes a pretty good breakfast.