Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cool Cat. Rattled Skull.

Wool felt & embroidery floss.

Several stitching projects are in hoops around my apartment these days, but I haven't been finishing anything. Lots of little sketches and ideas. More craft and less art, which feels a little strange. But it's all good.

Made this simple, wool felt, catnip LP for a cool cat I know named Vann. Looks a little more like a hockey puck than a record, but I wanted him to be able to bat it about. Word is, he does. This makes me happy because he is such a cool cat. And every girl loves a cool cat who plays by his own rules... as long he is lovable and purrs like a slightly drunk locomotive when scratched. And Vann does.

Records are on my mind these days.

I got caught in a tempest on Saturday night and was drenched in rain and stung by hail. Literally. Struck hard on the tender scalp. It felt like the universe was bullying me. I'm not proud to say it, but I felt sorry for myself.

But Spring is here. I rallied. Back to my embroidery hoops and stitching, peeps. Back to sketching, crazy ideas, and great conversations with wine and friends. And back to sunshine. I didn't work so hard to make my life what I want it to be only to be crushed by a storm. Besides, I love storms.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spirographs, Star Fox & other small stitching

After pulling a week's work of dense, little stitches from my Tiny Great Curve piece (which was heartbreaking by necessary), I've been making small, fun things this week.

Stitching a spirograph though Sulky Solvy.
Red pearle cotton, chain stitch.

Turned one of my zillions of summer cotton camisoles into an ode to the fabulous spirograph my my youth.

I want to embellish all of my little summer tanks!

Stitched up a set of thick, Pottery Barn dinner napkins into an ode to 1990 computer game catchphrases. (Star Fox is the cutest thing!)

Love the playful language in these crazy phrases.

I'm really enjoying this simple, happy stitching! Making little gifts for myself and my lovely peeps. More of these little stitched odes to come.

Playtime has just begun!

Summer beckons... warmth, friends, books, bootcamp, zumba (with Kate and Katherine), art, stitching, trips (DC with Juline and Miami with SF)... life is full of joys.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In a war, someone has to die

So said a temporarily out-of-work professional African soldier. So heard Danish artist Hanne Bang, who was inspired by a television news interview she saw with the soldier to create a collaborative, stitched art project titled, "In a War Someone has to Die." 

Stitched handkerchiefs. Foreground, Katherine,
background, me.

Bang is collecting embroidered handkerchiefs from stitchers around the world, each inscribed with the soldier's line in her/his own language. She will sew these handkerchiefs together to form a large installation artwork later this year.

I heard about the project on the MrXStitch site. My friend Katherine and I decided to participate. We each stitched up the line in Spanish. Spanish is my mother's first language and I had her write it out for me in her beautiful, strange handwriting. I used a brightly colored new handkerchief and chain stitch.

My handkerchief in chain stitch with little stitched flowers.

Katherine is bilingual, having learned Spanish while in Honduras in the Peace Corps. Her husband is Honduran and she uses Spanish professionally in her social work career. She stitched it up on a vintage handkerchief in backstitch. (Interestingly, Katherine's mother's first language is German. I wonder if she ever considered doing it in German.)

Katherine used a vintage linen.

I love the way that the artist's experience with the news media lead to this art project. To me it shows how being open to stories and news from around the world can inspire huge, collaborative projects.

Imagine the scene: A reporter and a camera person interview a professional African soldier for a Danish news program. The segment is viewed by the Danish artist back in Europe. She is moved by the coldness of the soldier's words and she plays with the feelings and associations that the news story stirs in her.

Brightly colored pink cotton.

Bang then reaches out to the stitching community, online and in her physical surroundings, and we all are pulled into the creation. My mother, who has no other connection to the professional soldier, the unknown reporter or the Danish artist, writes out this sentence at her kitchen table. And she is disturbed by the words her daughter stitches. But she is used to me and she is game.

My mami's handwriting.

Read more about Bang's work here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big Yes! Chaos Theory Scarf by Lesley Starke

Prepare your nerdy heart for some seriously geeky and gorgeous patterns generated by an eight-point, early chaos theory computer code.

Science + Craft = Joy.

No, you did not read that wrong. My Durham String Thing buddy Lesley Starke is knitting up this double-sided scarf using Rule 30 from early chaos theory, written by Steven Wolfram (father of Mathematica.)

She is knitting with two skeins of yarn at the same time.

Lesley is a scientist in ecology. She says that the project is the brainchild of her friend Joe Sexton (not a knitter). “He and I use similar approaches to the ecology work that we do. To put it broadly, we use satellite images to detect and analyze changes in the landscape.”

Back in 2009, while he was finishing up his PhD in Ecology from Duke University, they had a conversation about their work that exploded into this wildly beautiful creation.

Random triangles and shoots!

I love the stark black-and-white translation of the computer code and the random waterfalls and pools it creates.

The Code (pattern) runs along the bottom of the scarf.

Lesley claims that there is no pattern to this double-knit scarf. Here she explains how it works:

“I'm using a code that has 8 keys to it-- each produces a single answer: black or white, to create a random/chaotic image of black and white. The keys are each three-stitch sequences that I read on the row below to determine what color I should stitch in the present row. Four of the keys yield black and four yield white”

Their friends on Facebook
 recognize the code.

Don’t you adore this combination of computer code, utility (this is a scarf, after all, and will eventually warm Joe’s neck), wildly open creativity and the randomly beautiful patterns it creates?

Lesley, mad scientist & knitter, at work.

Big Yes to Lesley! 

"Big Yes!" is a blog feature where I share, with their permission, a piece of textile art that has opened my eyes to the possibility of what we can create.  When faced with things that are truly beautiful or moving or that fill me with awe, I try to say yes. More than that, Big Yes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Un petit lapin for Katherine

Stitched this little sleeping bunny for my dear friend Katherine's birthday.

Stitched in pearle cotton, displayed in 3" hoop.

Katherine is an animal lover and actually has a pet rabbit that she rescued from a random parking lot. (What a white, pink-eyed bunny was doing alone in a parking lot is not known.)

Katherine is an amazing woman. She spins, knits, wet and needle felts (my favorite pin cushion is a geode that she wet felt for me), among other crafts. She is the fastest talker of anyone I've ever known, and that is saying a lot, because I'm from NYC. She is also the fastest knitter in the world. One moment she is buying the perfect skein of robin's egg blue yarn and then next she is wearing some insanely beautiful, intricate, finger-weight lace shawl.  How does she do this?!

He makes me think of my late dog Django
when he was a puppy and slept in a ball.

Happy birthday, sweet Katherine! Thank you for letting me into your life and being such a generous, caring soul. Friendship is not just about fun and games and telling entertaining stories. It's about sharing ourselves, the good and the bad, and spending time together, learning from each other. Katherine gets this. Others don't always.

Love you, cupcake!