Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Ideas Brewing

I'm feeling rather smug that the presents are wrapped and the house is decorated. After my annual panic about whether I remembered everyone on my list, whether have I been fair with everyone, and whether are there enough goodies for the stockings, I am pleased to report all is well and I'll be sleeping soundly for the next few nights!

So that gives my mind time to pursue other tasks, like a lineup of possible future projects. There are a lot of wonderful shots of desert in Nevada from our recent trip. There is a large pile of linen tow singles in luscious colors waiting to become dishtowels. There is a little warp left on a Theo Moorman project that wants to become a stylized image of sunflowers. There is a warp on my table loom waiting to become a silk scarf in my own design network twill (from aBonnie Innouye class last fall). So what am I doing HERE at the computer???

Monday, December 17, 2007


My husband and I just returned from taking a detour from my holiday preparations. He had business in Las Vegas, and I decided to jump off the holiday roller coaster to go with him. We stayed in complete luxury here....

But the highlight of the trip was going out into the desert. This is the Valley of Fire, and the rock formations are amazing enough without the addition of the amazing different than the surrounding mountains.
Some pictoglyphs

The plants were quite green due to having a couple days of rain.
We've got a lot of pictures, and I've got ideas for tapestry designs. It was a wonderful respite. So different from December in NY!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Yesterday I spent the day in the cancer center at Hackensack Hospital with a friend who was undergoing her third chemo treatment for breast cancer. I've never seen such a crowded area in a hospital, but in spite of the lack of chairs for the all the patients and visitors, in spite of the long delays, in spite of what appeared to be an unacceptable level of confusion, everyone was treated with care and concern. I knew I was in the presence of people with a lot of courage. It was a lesson to me that good health is the greatest gift, and that we should all take notice of our good fortunes every day. It was a good example of the different kinds of bravery people find in themselves to go through such scary, trying times. My friend is certainly one of the bravest. She is an amazing example for me. In spite of the terrible reason to be with her yesterday, I enjoyed having a day with her to talk about our past lives before we met, to crochet together, to observe those around us. While my friend was attached to the IV she spent the time teaching me to make crocheted flowers and leaves. People watched her directing me and started conversations with her. The chemo center is certainly a place where people get to know each other easily.

This past weekend was very hectic for me, and now I'm quite grateful for yesterday's ability to put things in perspective. Saturday I taught a class on kumihimo and met six interesting women who were my students. They came from quite varied backgrounds, from one woman who had never done any kind of handwork either with threads or pottery or metal work (but she was interested in kumihimo because she'd seen it being done in Japan during a recent visit), to another woman who came with a background in jewelry making and wanted to learn to make cords for some of her metal works. The others had varying backgrounds in weaving and knitting. They were very interesting women, and I hope our paths cross again. They have my contact information, but I don't have a way of reconnecting with them!

After that class, I came home to a house full of people that I don't know well, sailing friends of my husband's. What a friendly bunch of people who were already enjoying each other and patiently waiting for my arrival to get some dinner on the table! My older son and his finance were part of this party of about two dozen people, and they spent the night. It was quite a treat to spend time with Rob and Lauren on Sunday, which included going to the movies....we saw "American Gangster." Wow!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holiday Knitting

Those of us who celebrate Christmas arrive at the end of Thanksgiving with a bit of panic, don't we? While I do have my fair share of shopping panic, my larger stress is the sudden realization that I intend to knit far more things than my hands are able to in the mere four weeks left to me. This year is no different, in spite of my best efforts not to start anything new.

I should have been done with that Muir shawl weeks ago. It looks so simple, and yet I'm beginning the fifth repeat and I simply cannot memorize that pattern. The lace is so spongey ( I don't think that's a word) I can't see the pattern to determine if the YO/dec's should slant left or right. So that keeps me enslaved to the chart. I've enlarged the chart so I can now at least read it without bringing it two inches from my eyes. I thought I'd gain some speed by making the chart big enough to glance at from a distance, so I could be in my comfy chair with the pattern placed on a nearby side table. I'm still not fast enough!

My Hild sweater is not sewn together yet. My future DIL's sweater from last Christmas is still not done. I'm altering it for the second time (that means third time to knit, counting my innocent first endeavor just following the instructions). Actually, this time I have undone the entire sweater and am starting from scratch. Boy did that hurt!

And I'm not even going to consider working on my niece's Marihone sweater. I will have to frog that back and redesign it. It will be fun to do, so I'd better not tackle that at this time of year or I'll end up hating it.

I haven't touched my historical tapestry in about a month now. I hope to get back to that next week. I hope to do all my holiday shopping online! I tried that last year, and it wasn't overly successful, but hope is so constantly optimistic, and I do so hope to buy everything without ever leaving the house!

Let the roller coaster ride begin. I hope it will be more fun than scary!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Medical marvels

I'm marveling at the surgery that Chris' friend Sarah just had. The night of the accident the doctors removed a piece of her skull to relieve the pressure from her head injury. They put her into an induced coma to let her heal somewhat. They woke her up early in the week, and since she progressed well through the week they did a second surgery on Thursday to replace that piece of skull. The part I just learned is that to keep her skull bone alive and well they had inserted it into her leg near her hip bone. At times like these, when someone's precious life was almost taken by a random accident, the marvels of modern surgical techniques just amaze me. I'm floored and so thankful that she is going to survive this.

Now I just hope she will recover fully.
(Okay, what does this photo have to do with this post?'s an image of an amazing day in an amazing place, and both have happened this week for Sarah)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Always something

First on my mind this week is Sarah. News from my son is that he saw her awake earlier this week and that she knows who everyone is that has visited her. She even knew people who were not visiting but were being discussed. She was brought out of her coma and will have a second surgery to replace the portion of her scull that was removed during the first surgery in order to relieve the pressure from her injury. Her family, from the Philippines, is there with her. She has a long road to recovery, so if you see this please keep her in mind or in your prayers.

In the last couple of days I have discovered that some of my friends are now on Ravelry. That made me realize that I needed to update my account there, post some pictures, make contact with some of the groups I joined. When I joined ravelry I looked around a bit, joined some groups, and then promptly forgot all about it. Having some local friends there has made me reconnect, and it's a great place! I found lots of inspiration on the Bohus knitting group. Some of their finished sweaters just make me weak in the knees. I want to drop everything and start a Bohus design. I've had plans for that for years....but I try to be strong and make myself finish what I've already started!

Through someone on the Tapestry yahoo group, one of the Convergence committee members has contacted me to see if The Wednesday Group is interested in displaying work at a site near the Convergence activities. I am totally not ready to organize another show, but how can we let this opportunity pass? Will just have to see where this leads.

And lastly, it is autumn here at last. I can no longer dash out on errands without a coat, and the colors which are normally so vibrant at hallowe'en are looking pretty dramatic in time for Thanksgiving. Better late than never....
This i

This the "corky bark" or "burning bush" at one end of my main perennial garden, with the maples behind. There are miniature bamboo under the corky bark and there is the silhouette of my David Austin Heritage rose in the foreground.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Here's Buddha

Here's Buddha, not quite ready for prime time. I took a load of pictures of him today and didn't get a good one yet. I'll keep tweaking and replace this when I have a better one. Well, with help from my camera savvy husband, here's a better photo.

My younger son called today in a bit of a funk. A friend of his from school was walking home to her off-campus apartment last night when she was hit by a car. He doesn't know too much except that she had head injury with internal bleeding and needed surgery. She's a physics major, like Chris, and this is her senior year also. Chris does problem sets with her and a few other students in the library each week. I hope she will recover. I can't get her off my mind.... If you see this please say a prayer for her. Her name is Sarah.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Busy, Busy

Yesterday I visited the annual "Lace Day" of the Metro Chapter of the International Old Lacers. They have a course of study to learn Torchon lace which I started last year. I made the first pattern which is so simple it's embarrassing! Even though there was not a course for the second pattern, the President of the group very patiently helped me set up that pattern and get started. It's a lot more challenging than the first exercise!
This is not quite the pattern I'm doing, but it's simlar. The scallop edge that I'm doing is an oblique interlacement, whereas here it's vertical and horizontal, like regular weaving. I have very little "background" netting, and my sewing edge is also narrower than this. If I get proficient at this pattern I would love to make handkerchief edging. I'd have to learn how to turn corners.

I'm completely weak in the knees for lace hankies! How awesome to gain the skills to make one!

This afternoon I planted my garlic, total wishful thinking for next year! My garlic never grows into the large bulbs I get at the farmers' market, but I'm forever hopeful that my garlic ship will come in next year! Most likely it doesn't get enough sun where I plant it. Today I put the bulbs in a garden that a family of woodchucks has enjoyed all summer. I'm hoping the garlic is too smelly for them, but I guess I'll have to wait and see. My weld is there, and they haven't touched that. Absolutely nothing else has survived there!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Hudson Valley in Autumn

Today my husband and I took a ride through the Hudson Valley (western side) and visited a few vineyards. It was a lovely day. Geese on the water and a brand new orchard caught our attention.

Donkeys grazing on the outskirts of the Benmarl Vineyard which has lovely views of the Hudson from its high location.

Another visit to Tapestry Exhibit

I managed to get another visit to the exhibit. I was hoping to walk through backwards, but I was with my husband who didn't want to see it out of order. He can certainly dash through an exhibit when it's not to his interest. I always feel I have to at least read all the plaquards hoping to learn something!
I've got pictures from the website, but none of my own. Of course my own would be quite different as I'd focus on what appealed to me. I loved one of the early works of a naval battle in the Netherlands. If I could weave just a small section of water I would be immensely pleased with myself! I'm so sorry I can't show a detail of the water....believe it or not this is a detail even though not as tight as I would have done!

This is another detail from a much more involved work. These two men are in the foreground and so dramatic. I could barely walk away from this piece!

And this is one of my favorites. The apostles and Jesus are so sensitively portrayed, their reflections in the water are incredible, and the birds in the foreground are beautiful. The water is beautiful too.

An earlier version of this piece was in the Renaissance exhibit a couple years ago. I'd love to be able to compare the two pieces. I don't think the earlier piece had such an elaborate border, and perhaps no border at all. But the central image seems very much like this one.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Time Flies

Ah, time. It's the uniting aspect of the entire world. It's the one thing everyone has, and would like more of - but no one can control it, manufacture it, or stop the passage of it.

Is it time for a change? Daylight savings time ends at the end of this week. I have to get ready for very short afternoons!

Fact: TIME is the most used noun in the English language!(don't ask me to prove this as I don't know where it was first cited...I'm only passing along what I read!)

Here are two photos from The NY State Sheep and Wool Festival that should have been posted last week. I don't even know where last week went!
I tried to capture a sense of just how many people were there by early afternoon, but it was much more crowded than this photo shows!

And here are two photos from The Wednesday Group exhibition at the Two07 Art Gallery in NYC. I sat at the gallery yesterday and had the lovely surprise of meeting a woman from Washington State who'd come to the exhibit based on my recommendation through the Weave Tech group. She had posted asking what to see in NY, and she said I was the only one who answered. Of course I also told her to visit the exhibition at the Met as well as the Cloisters!
It's such small world! Then a couple came in who were visiting NY from northern Vermont. I've already forgotten how they heard about the show.

This is a group of colorful tapestries doen by Carol Bitner (the lower right), Annelisa deCoursin (lower left, center and upper right), and me (upper left)!

This is our group project called "Not Gone for Baroque." Weavers are Don Burns, Helen Gold, AnnaByrd Mays, Betsy Snope, Alta Turner, and me. I need to work on cropping this photo a little better

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor

Tomorrow I will finally get to see the tapestry exhibit at the Met. Here's the NYTimes review. I've missed all the hoopla that the rest of The Wednesday Group has gotten to attend: a full weekend of symposia last weekend, and tomorrow night's lecture on Tudor tapestries. So at least I will get to see the show!

For the most part I don't care for this period of tapestry. There are some awesome things going on, but I think the tapestry artist himself was lost at this point and became simply the craftsman/artisan who slavishly executed a painter's image. I miss the freedom of expression that earlier tapestry weavers had. I miss the sense of making a picture do what weaving does best.
That's not to say that I'm not totally "blown away" by these works and the weaving ability of the unknown weavers.

Here's a quote from the end of the article that sums it all up for me:

But the real wonder surfaces when you stand up close. Then you see how one thread, placed next to another, which is next to another of different but related color, creates the shadow under the eye of a drowning man’s face, or the sparkle of a jewel on a ribbon on a shoe, or turns an all but abstract passage of color in a Rubens design into a brilliantly nuanced approximation of its painted source, which is itself the filtering of some sensation of the world through one artist’s eye.

In focusing on such details, you realize that the tapestry — so anonymous, so enormous, so specialized — really comes down to one person performing a task: the artist drawing the design, the spinner spinning the wool thread, the weaver passing one thread past another. If you want to regain the thrill of discovery that the Met’s first tapestry show provided, intimate attention to the riches in this one may be the way to do it.

The Wednesday Group show closes this weekend as well, so I will sit in the gallery on Sunday and take the show down at closing. It will be a long day, but my head should be full of images from the show at the Met and from visiting the Cloisters on Saturday. Not a bad way to spend a weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Life's Little Surprises

I just spent the last entry whingeing/wining about life's challenges. By focusing on the challenges I almost missed one of life's sweet surprises, and you never know when one of those will come along! I almost didn't go to my local spinning group because of too many deadlines, too many obligations, blah, blah. Then I figured I needed to go as a little reward to myself and to recharge my batteries for the upcoming hurdles. Look what I found at the spinning meeting!

Bud and Patricia are certainly an usual team, and their vision of seeing the world is outlandishly creative! Their love for Della (the mule) is so poignant. I hope mules live a long time because they sure do adore her. I enjoyed talking to Patricia, and I loved watching the daughter of one our members saddle up for a ride on Della. I had NO idea mules were this large! Wish I had a photo which would demonstrate her size, but since I was not expecting this unique experience I didn't have a camera with me. Really, don't miss that to:

This fall they are traveling up the Hudson River. It should be a wonderful trip if we end up getting good color this year. We have had a drought for some time now (2 months?...longer?), and in my area lots of leaves are just falling off the trees without turning at all. I wish them luck, and a safe haven for the winter. did I get these great pictures? A spinning friend (the one with the equestrienne daughter) took these. She has her own blog, where she shares her amazing creativity with lace knitting. Bad Cat Designs. Check her out!

Patricia - "It's always all about Della. Everything we do centers around her well-being. Where we spend the night, where we stop for lunch, where we spend the winters, it all depends on how we can accommodate her. Della is the heart and motor of our journey. "

Friday, October 5, 2007

When Life Gets in the Way!

Life sure can throw some hard balls. I wish I were a good catcher, but my reaction is to cover my head and duck! Everybody's health seems so fragile these days. I'm not going to talk about it here, but it's a hurdle. Then there are the many joys of my volunteer jobs, which are great when everything runs smoothly and everyone is happy. It's no fun at all when the best plans and hard work don't actually come to fruition. Guess which one I'm experiencing now.

I'm also having my first experience at organizing a group show of handwoven tapestry. (This is why I've been trying to finish Buddha!) I've certainly got a lot to learn about running a show. I've had great help from really savvy people. One member made the postcard, and it's quite an eye catcher, don't you think? (And if you click on it you'll get to see a lot more detail. My, we have some awesome weavers in this group!) Here are the details.

I just finished Buddha, literally put in the last pick. I want to celebrate, but I feel a little overwhelmed because I still need to hem and mount him. I can't find the raw linen material I want to use for mounting. I've looked in all the easy places, so now it's time to really start digging.

The garden is a mess. My dog has cancer. Every Friday I drive him to Connecticut for chemo treatments, but today my car has some serious problems so I'm without wheels for the weekend. I'm home alone since my husband is away on business, and I'm feeling weird. I need to run away....well, on the positive side, I just went digging for that linen fabric and found it. I'll get to work now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I'm getting fixated on Buddha. He's come a "ways" this week. For me, a long way! I spent the whole summer worrying about his eyes, and not doing any work on them. Now I'm almost done with them! As usual, he needs the 10 foot rule. I'm a little worried about his very subtle eyebrows, but I'm going to tackle that in the coming week. If I delay I know I'll end up procrastinating for another season or more. But I do solemnly swear: NO more pictures of Buddha until he's finished!

Hmmm...the photo is odd. He doesn't have such a dramatic gold line under his eye, although I did put a little gold here and there near his mouth and that eye. On the original sculpture I imagined some lichen causing that coloration. The other odd thing about my photo is the sharp line of contrast between the bottom of his face and the upper section. It's more subtle than this shot portrays. Maybe I just had the camera too close. Right now my studio is SO messy I can't back up to take a better photo!

Something that has been bothering me the past couple of days is my Etsy listing at the side of this blog. Having those pictures seemed like shameless commercialism so I've taken them away. Good riddance! There's still a link to my Etsy shop if you care to look, but I just wasn't comfortable having the items posted there with prices. This is my blog, and it's not about selling stuff.

Lastly for today, I took a photo of the historical piece I'm working re-interpreting (re-inventing?). It's from one of the Devonshire tapestries. This boat is such a tiny part of an enormous tapestry, which actually has more to do with hunting than sailing. In the extreme background at the very top of the tapestry there is the shoreline with boats sailing away. This one drew my attention because of the little man onboard. You'll have to wait to see him....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Memorial Tapestry Group Project

Diane Wolf, USA

Here are two images from a group project of tapestry weavers from all over the world who responded to the events six years ago. Monique Lehman coordinated this project, and you can see all the tapestries here.

Katarzyna Kordyasz, Poland

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hey, Buddha!

It's been an odd day. It's that sad anniversary, and this is the first year it falls again on a Tuesday. I've tried not to think too much about it, but I did stay home today and avoid any radio and tv exposure. My own memories and thoughts are enough for the occasion. For several weeks it felt like my whole town was holding its breath, waiting for some good news about loved ones. Then came weeks when I'd see funeral processions almost every day, and public grief...women meeting each other in the street or in the market and sobbing together. It was traumatic. In six years, not one day goes by where I don't notice the change in our view of Manhattan. I wonder if I'll ever get used to it. Well, it will just take more time....

This photo doesn't look like my typical view of Manhattan at all, even though supposedly it was taken right near me. I can't believe no one has ever posted a photo of our great view from Rte. 17, or Craig Dr., or Overlook....I guess I'll have to do it myself sometime. I see Manhattan MUCH closer, with the Empire State Building right in the center, larger than life, despite it being 25 miles away, and the WTC used to be to the right . It's still odd not to see them.

I wanted to do something useful today, so I worked on photographing some of my scarves to list on Etsy. While I photographed them I took one of Buddha. As you can see I've been working, though it's been almost two weeks since I've touched him.

We've been sailing again, this time to P-town and back, with stops at Bassett Island (lovely!) and various other nice spots. I hope to have pictures soon. Most of the week was breezy and cool, definitely a touch of autumn in the air. Now that we're back, it's hot, humid, and raining. I'm glad we are home this week!

Pictures of P-town, as promised. Our boat is just to the right of the steeple.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Unfinished Work

Will I ever finish this piece? I'm beginning to think NOT, and it's frustrating me. Quite some time ago I found a wonderful picture of a stone Buddha on the fridge at a friend's house. Yes, it was a photo posted on a refrigerator!....yet it was the most beautiful face I've ever seen, and I asked my friend right then and there if I could make a copy of it. She gave it to me. I'm not doing anything artistic with it, I'm just copying it. I blew it up to the size I wanted, and I took a lot of time deciding how to convey a sense of the pitted stone in yarn. I'm happy with the mouth and nose. I'm actually quite a bit further along in the weaving than this photo shows. Yesterday I started the left eye. Well, I guess it's really his right eye, but as I work on it it's the eye to my left. I've woven it three times now, and it's still not right. I love everything about this face! He has a beautiful mouth, and a perfectly shaped nose, but his eyes are truly moving. I can't get the right expression. I'm trying not to feel like a failure, but I really do. I'm just a weaver, and if I could figure out how to portray this beautiful face I could weave it without much trouble. It's portraying his amazing expression that's going to defeat me.....

Okay, here he is in the photo. I wasn't going to post this, but he's too beautiful to leave out. How many times have I written that word, beautiful, in this post? I think I'm obsessed with his beauty!

(The colors I'm using are closer to the real photo than this photo would suggest. He's much greener, like he's seen years of moss and algae, and not at all golden as he looks here.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sleep Deprivation

I've been awakened several consecutive nights by this owl. If you click on both the "A" sound and the "B" sound you'll hear what wakens me! It's a soothing sound, and I find it is bringing up some very old memories of sleepless nights full of teenage angst when I would be lulled to sleep by a whippoorwill. If you've never heard a whippoorwill I truly hope someday you will. It's an indescribable experience that is heightened by occurring in the depths of night.

I doubt if I'll ever get to see this owl, so hearing its call is quite intriguing. I'm imagining him (although possibly her) sitting in a spot like this photo, in a tree somewhere nearby, maybe even in my yard. I have heard him for several years now, in the summer when our windows are open. While the voice of a whippoorwill will always bring back details from my bedroom from the mid-70s, now the sound of an Eastern screech owl will be the voice of my menopausal, empter nester years when I don't often sleep through the night.

Recently, during my late evening walks I've been hearing what might be a Great Horned Owl. I'm not completely sure about this as the owl in my neighborhood has a much lower pitched call. All I know for certain is that it is not the same owl as the one that awakens me later in the night. It's interesting to realize that there is such bird life in my suburban town, although my town is rather undeveloped, so less manicured than most 'burbs.

I'm not a "birder," so it's not as if I'm on the lookout for them, and this means I'm sometimes pleasantly surprised by my surroundings. Waking and drifting back to sleep to the sounds of owls (or whippoorwills!) is quite a good experience, something I highly recommend!