Monday, April 28, 2014

(Just Another) Melange Monday

It's Monday ... time for melange. 

Initially, let me say I am thoroughly enjoying Goli Taraghi's short stories in her 2013 collection The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons. Taraghi's writing has been described as accessible (it is), laced with mysticism (it is), as well as "constricted by class consciousness" (not certain I agree with the constricted portion of that). The mystical elements serve well the reality of tumult and revolution that marks Taraghi's Iran. The short story form allows it all to be digested in short, tasty, and easily manageable bites. I give this collection all the stars possible.


If you're around the New York City area and have the time, I hope you'll check out my friend Ruth Marshall's latest exhibit Closely Knit: A Textile Analysis of Animals, the opening reception for which will be held this coming Wednesday, April 30th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm in Central Park's Arsenal Building. Her previous work (think endangered wild animal pelts meet knitting needles) has received wonderful reviews, and I have no doubt that this latest exhibit will be met with the same. The exhibit will be in the Arsenal Building through June 20th, dotted with talks throughout that time. Hit the above linky to find out more information and see Ruth's amazing work. And remember: no animals were hurt in the knitting of each life-like pelt.


Finally, while I'm discussing other people's art, I really must mention a recently published book by a Ravelry friend and artist, Jacqueline Boyle. She's co-written and illustrated a book to be read to babies in the womb. Can't Wait to Show You: A Celebration of Mothers-to-be can be found on Amazon, and looks to be rather super, really. She's co-written it with a literacy specialist and they harnessed the copious amounts of research indicating the benefits of reading to babies in utero. I just love anything that promotes reading and literacy, as well as the sweet illustrations. My hat's off to Jacqueline - I've been viewing her art for a few years now, so this is an exciting new development.

Friday, April 25, 2014

It's a Slow Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

Hello fiberistas far and near - it is Friday yet again. I am in the middle of several top secret projectz, but I did reveal earlier in the week my latest design being donated to charity - the Amber Bling Bag. I'm conducting a public test of the pattern here on Ravelry, so if you'd like to be a testy tester - for tester glory and the good, virtuous feelings you'll get when you know you're helping a great cause, childhood cancer research - then stop on by and sign up. The test runs through May 14th, so there's still plenty of time to get in on the tester action.

Otherwise, it's back to the hooks 'n sticks project crunch for moi. Thought I'd leave you with shots of the fiber I'm currently working with. I'm definitely having a colorfully good time.

Now do check in with Andrea over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see what projects (top secret or otherwise) everyone is working on this week.

This is coming up soon - the daily prompts have been
announced and the tags listed. Will you be participating?

Monday, April 21, 2014

(Just Another) Melange Monday

Raw materials for my latest
completed design.
Happy Monday, everyone. I write this keenly aware that the Boston Marathon is being run today. I wish all those involved - either as athlete, spectator, or race support/infrastructure - a gloriously happy event. Forever strong Boston. Forever strong.


I have a new design to announce ... as well as a test. As I blogged about previously, I donated a design to an upcoming e-book project, Knitting for Gold, that aims to raise funds for childhood cancer research. I am supremely pleased to be able to show you the finished project:

Say hello to my newest favorite accessory: the Amber Bling bag. This 5 1/4" high x 6" wide bag is all kinds of blingy fun and rather adorbs, wouldn't you agree? The interplay of textures and materials made it fun to create. Superwash merino puffs are interspersed with wool stainless steel rows that are studded with size 6 seed beads in a medley of amber hues. (FYI - gold is the color of childhood cancer awareness.) It's lined with a double thickness of semi-sheer organza, is attached to a lovely purse frame and then topped off with pre-made chain link that's been adorned with a little more wool stainless steel and beads. The lobster claws at each end make it easy to remove the handle and use it as a clutch. I am rather pleased with the final result, if I do say so myself. I also want to thank Lion Brand Yarn for generously donating the yarn for this project. 

And now for the test part. I am in the process of working out a good place on Ravelry to put this pattern through its paces. If you would be interested in joining the test (which should get underway sometime this week), do feel free to leave me a comment here on the blog, along with a good way to reach you electronically. Once the test site is worked out and the test thread is set up, I'll contact you and you can come on over and participate. There are no prizes or anything; you'll be doing this for a gorgeous new bag as well as tester glory (very important, in my book).

And an update on Kellie Huffman's daughter Bronwyn, the impetus behind this childhood cancer research project. She received a new heart a little over a week ago. I must tell you that I cannot wrap my brain around the concept of someone else's heart beating within me. While the initial reports from Kellie are positive concerning Bronwyn's recovery from the heart transplant, I wonder if she feels like she's having an out-of-body experience. Just amazing.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Juxtaposition Makes for Beautiful Art

The Fine Art of Crochet: Innovative
Works from 20 Contemporary
Gwen Blakley Kinsler,
 published by Authorhouse, 2013
 and available here on Amazon
Female artists are still vastly underrepresented in the fine arts world (by approximately 3:1) and still represent bargain shopping at auction.* It is a rather amazing fact, although not surprising considering all the time and artistic ground women need to make up in the male-dominated fine arts legacy.

So it is with a wide, satisfied smile on my face that I provide a review of Gwen Blakley Kinsler’s The Fine Art of Crochet: Innovative Works from 20 Contemporary Artists. Kinsler, the founder of The Crochet Guild of America and an accomplished artist and designer in her own right, has curated a simply fantastic group of artists in this book that celebrates, through each artists’ selected works, the crochet art movement from 1915 to the present. (Full disclosure: Kinsler interviewed me in spring 2013 for Crochet World Magazine’s Talking Crochet newsletter. However, as will be demonstrated below, my interest in and appreciation of fiber art was well established prior to her interview, so this review is conflict-of-interest free).

Kinsler immediately grabs the reader with her pick of cover art - Bonnie Meltzer’s Global Warming is not only visually arresting but also timely. Kinsler then opens the book with a brief introduction and background of the crochet art movement. In the opening quote, she lays the juxtaposition groundwork by quoting Bruce Hoffman, Director of the Snyderman Gallery, on the emergence of crochet in contemporary art, and then writes that “Crochet is a craft whose time has come.”  Some aspect of “craft” in female voice/“art” in male voice is a running theme (either stated or unstated) in almost every artists' work in this collection, which includes four men and 16 women. Some artists, such as Georgina Valverde, Leslie Pontz, Carol Hummel, Pate Conaway, Nathan Roberts and Kathleen Holmes, openly explore the link between gender, craft and art. Other artists may be silent on the explicit link, yet conveyed to Kinsler the connection they feel with the women who handed down the crochet legacy that informs their work. Yet others, like Arline Fisch and Bonnie Meltzer, were among many female pioneers in the artistic crochet movement in the 60s and 70s.  One minor point: I do wish Kinsler would have included the year the works were created in the individual artworks’ captions; it would not only have been informative, but also provide a link to the fact that some of these artists have been working with crochet techniques and the fiber medium for several decades.

Paper Lanterns, Arline Fisch, from
 Arline Fisch: Creatures from the Deep
I am fortunate to live in a part of the country that recognizes, explores and celebrates the fiber arts, for I’ve seen two of the included artists’ work in separate local major museum exhibitions in the last four years. I can state unequivocally that Arline Fisch created a whole new world with her crochet and knit pieces in the Creatures from the Deep exhibit, and one of the pieces from the collection is included in Kinsler’s book. Fisch’s talk connected with the exhibit was a watershed moment for me, as she discussed her use of non-traditional materials. Additionally, one cannot think of fiber artists and not also think of Jo Hamilton, whose incredible “crochet painted” portraits were included in the BAM Biennial 2012: High Fiber Diet exhibit, which I also had the pleasure of viewing.  

I am thrilled to have added The Fine Art of Crochet to my personal library. The artists’ respective inspiration and art will no doubt inform and inspire me. Kinsler has added a much needed female voice to the male-heavy fine arts conversation. I know which works included in the book are my personal favorites, and I urge everyone to seek out this book and find your own unique inspiration within its pages.

* For more on these topics, see Redressing the Balance: Women in the Art World, and In the Art World, Women on the Verge, two of many, many online articles.

I'll be participating again this year, blogging up a storm for an entire week.

Friday, April 11, 2014

All Quiet on the Pacific Northwest Front This Friday

Spring continues to unfold beautifully here - with temperatures in the 50s and 60s (farenheit) and plenty of sunshine, the blooms are incredible (taken with cell phone camera several days ago).

My time to enjoy it has been limited because I continue to be in project mode: here's the latest tasty plate of yarn I received that will become a published project:

Love, love, love this color combination. That's Rowan Yarn's Fine Art in the back, and it's a wonderful sockweight blend of merino, mohair and silk. Here's a closer look at this colorway, #303 waxwing:

The color swatch on the Rowan site has a fair amount of lighter green and pink showing, but the actual skeins tell the real story. Cannot wait to dig in.

Additionally, the 5th annual Knit and Crochet Blog Week has just been announced - it will be taking place May 12 - 18th. 

This will be the fourth year that I'll be participating (and if you want to see posts from previous years, just look at the top of my labels cloud at the bottom of the blog and click on anything that has "KCBWDAY" in it). I may just do a leeeeetle personal review; I cannot believe I've been actively blogging for this long. 

You know, that hot air and all.

Now definitely head on over to Andrea at Wisdom Begins in Wonder, where she manages to blog every week. How she juggles work, farm animals, kids, and yarn is beyond me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

(Just Another) Melange Monday

Hello everyone from a simply gorgeous, sunny spring day here in this particular corner of the Pacific Northwest. I'm starting a new series of Monday posts. While I don't know if they will appear every Monday, I do know that I plan to blog (maybe) about fiber as well as other non-fiber things I've either previously completed or on which I'm currently working, and of course, any other topic(s) (non-design/art related) that may strike my fancy because, hey, it's my blog, and I'll write what I want to. 

Gratuitous George Bailey photo.

I have been without a personal computer since mid-January of this year (I short-circuited my former laptop - don't ask). I cannot tell you how great it feels to once again have a home computer - I feel like I've been liberated. While I've managed to communicate on a somewhat irregular basis since my technological fiasco, taking a look around the blog tells me that I need to update things in a fairly major way - which I'll get to in due time.

However, initially I want to post photos of the two paintings I completed in late fall of last year as part of my Romantique collection. I made a promise to myself at the beginning of the year that I would work on painting more in 2014, and these two canvases remind me why I made that promise. There is something about the flow I achieve whenever I paint that just works. There is an unmediated blissful connection between my paint brushes and the canvas that is indescribable. I can lose all sense of time when I am painting - it's just me, the brush, the paint and the canvas. And even though these two works were specifically created with the collection's theme in mind, there was still a high level of freedom in each painting session. 

Ode to Demeter
Acrylic on Canvas
18 x 34
October, 2013

Snacks in the Underworld
Acrylic on Canvas
12 x 24
October, 2013

This isn't to say that I don't find freedom in fiber design (because I do!), but there is a certain amount of rote work between design and finished project that tends to detract ever so slightly from the bliss (but only a little - I'm still loving designing and am definitely not complaining).

Along this more artistic line, I'll be reviewing Gwen Blakley Kinsler's The Fine Art of Crochet next Monday. The book is on a blog tour, and you can and should check out the schedule here and read what other reviewers had/have to say about it.

So I'll end today's post with some of the fiber currently on my hooks:

See a color trend here?

Until next time -

Friday, April 4, 2014

Ha Ha! A Finished Project and a New Published Design

Happy Friday, everyone - the sun is shining here in the Pacific Northwest - spring has definitely sprung and not a millisecond too soon.

So of course I'm right on time completing a project I started last fall. Hey, it's done, and I am pretty darn proud of it - behold the lovely One if By Hook Cardi:

And, for those of you who are interested in the back of the work:

I used the worsted weight wool gifted from Vivian (Bits and Pieces) for the body and the lower sleeve colorblocks. Lion Brand Amazing in the violets colorway comprise all the edging bands (done in tunisian crochet 1 x 1 ribbing), and the upper sleeve colorblocks came from a cone of light worsted weight from an lys. I particularly like how all the purples work well with each other. I know the body color looks more pink, but it's really somewhere closer to a very light mauve tweed with deeper purple and yellow flecks, and while the Amazing has subtley changing color runs, they definitely have personality. Three quarter length sleeves will make this a perfect little topper in the cooler weather here and for summer evenings. And you know I just love the purple buttons I found to coordinate with the yarn:

And now for the newly published design, which can be found in the summer edition of Crochet! Magazine:

The Fan Play Cafe Curtain turned into an homage to art deco graphic goodness, although I was simply aiming for a curtain with an asymmetrical element. These photos were taken in bright sunlight last fall (see, it really doesn't rain all the time here in the Pacific Northwest), so while the lovely green colorway is somewhat washed out, the strong graphic design certainly is not.

The top and bottom edgings are easy yet pretty fan and puff repeats. Covered plastic rings complete the cafe curtain look. I used easy care Nazli Gelin crochet cotton in a very pretty green colorway:

While I used the individual balls for the sample, I'd suggest getting a cone - much more efficient.

Definitely now head on over to Andrea and Wisdom Begins in Wonder and check out all the other fiber activities this Friday - whether with or without sunlight.