Monday, September 29, 2008

Back to Work....

Here are a couple of things I do when I procrastinate from weaving. This shawl is wonderfully relaxing to knit. Yesterday I spent the entire day knitting this while sitting on my front porch listening to the rain and watching it fall, and smelling the last of warm summer weather.
And this project should start progressing again, now that I've dyed some more silk with which to knit the border of the shawl. The body of the shawl is knit from my handspun which was hand painted by the Silk Worker. I knew there would not be enough for the whole shawl, but figured I'd cross that bridge when I got there. The pattern is Swallowtail by Evelyn Clark, published in IWKnits. It's a super simple, but very beautiful design, so it's become my favorite for shawls that will be given away. A friend of mine with excellent color sense recommended I try lavender for the border of the shawl. I'm not sure my attempt at logwood will fill the bill, but if I don't think it's compatible after spinning I'll just over dye with either more logwood, or perhaps cocchineal or indigo...or both. I left plenty of undyed white space in this bit of top so that the lavender would be pale when spun. I have a feeling it will be too pale!

Lastly, I need to write up some notes and do some graph paper work on my version of the Cardigan for Arwen (IWKnits, winter 2006) which I'm knitting up in Katia Scotch Tweed. I knitted the back and one of the front/sleeve sections which forced me to make all the design decisions. Now there's just that last front/sleeve to knit and no reason to do so!....except that maybe I'd like to wear it someday?.....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Vacation Perspectives

It's my first day home from our late-summer vacation, sailing in Maine for the two weeks following our son's wedding. It was a wonderful time to relax and be out of touch, quiet, letting all the busy-ness of this summer (our younger son's graduation and move into Manhattan for grad school, as well as our older son's wedding) subside and filter into memory. I always find that vacations are when I take stock of my home life and make mental adjustments on where I want to go and how to get there! I slept a lot, ate wonderful food, and gave a lot of thought to the the designs I'd like to pursue for future tapestries.

My tapestry group (The Wednesday Group) are working on tapestries with a common theme of the Hudson River. Next year will be the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's trip up the river, and since we all travel along and across this river each time we meet we all agreed to do something to commemorate this historic anniversary. I spent a couple of months thinking about images of tug boats, the wonderful colors of red and black against water and sky....then I played around with images of lines (meaning ropes) and how delightfully textile they are which seemed so compatible with tapestry. After all my mental wanderings, I have settled on a study of water itself. It was a seminal part of all my other ideas, and suddenly I felt that it was the one crying out to be heard. So although I was not sailing on the Hudson, I did take lots of photos of water and have some idea of what I'd like to do. The group has some simple guidelines that should make our pieces somewhat compatible to hang together as an exhibit. We'll work in sizes that are a multiple of 6" x 8", and we'll all use two specific colors of blue in any proportion we choose. I'm going to start designing now that I'm home, and I'm planning on working at 12" x 16". I'm enthusiastic about getting started!

I did just a the smallest bit of work on my Pre-Columbian study....not enough to even photograph yet. I had brought lots of yarns in colorways that I think of as Pre-Columbian: various shades of cocchineal, mustard golds, and the natural shades of alapacas. But when starting to weave I realized I wanted to include some green, and I didn't bring any! I also decided I wanted to add just a hint of something representational to my geometric design. It would have been helpful to look online but we rarely had internet service where we sailed, and when we did it was torturously slow. So I'll spend some time next week looking at Pre-Columbian imagery and deciding on some kind of little animal or figure....or decide against it!

The routine of my days sailing was very conducive to contemplation so I did get a lot of thinking done while we were away. I slept later most mornings than I do at home, and my first activity on rising was usually knitting or drawing. I never get to do that at home! I think I spent between 3 and 6 hours a day doing hand work, depending on how challenging the sailing conditions were. But it's still a great deal more than I can manage at home most days. We often sail to uninhabited islands where we take walks and take photos and sometimes gather interesting materials. I have seen so many different mushrooms, lichens, seaweeds...if only I could figure out how to set up a dye pot in our tiny galley!

There are no chores for me on the boat. My husband does all the sailing single-handedly, and he does all the boat chores. I often cook dinner, but he makes both breakfast and lunch and cleans up from all the meals. So it's pretty much like being at a resort where I'm coddled and cared for....except that sailing is certainly a lot rougher than resort living! It's an odd balance.

This is the Olson House, well known from Andrew Wyeth's painting, "Christina's World." This is the field in which Betsy Wyeth modeled for the paining. I was so happy to visit this place! Just behind where this photo was snapped is the little cemetery with Christina's grave (yes, I have a photo of that too), and in this field we saw an amazing, and creepy!, spider in her orb web with a freshly caught moth. That photo haunts me! I'm sure I'll use it here sometime!