Monday, October 30, 2006

Socks Saga and Fall Festival

By now I expected to have a finished pair of Snowflake socks, and a pair of Manly socks on the needles. And I would have too, except for a small sock tragedy. Here's the story. About a week ago, I was down to forming the toe on the 2nd Snowflake. I decided to try them on, as Mom's feet are about the same size as mine. I know you think the next thing I'm going to say is the damn thing was too small and I had to start all over. No. It fit beautifully. I was so impressed with myself until I saw a gaping hole about 1 inch above the heel. I must have dropped a stitch. I tried to pick it up, but I just couldn't cope with the lace. I frogged it to beyond the hole, and then realized I didn't know what row it was on. Then I figured, every other row was a knit row, if I could just frog to a knit row, then I could figure out where I was. I tried that, and I couldn't figure out what stitches to pick up. In the end I frogged the entire sock. I was that close! I rolled the yarn up into a neat ball and didn't look at it for almost a week. I started back on it a couple of days ago, and I'm to the heel flap. I'm thinking I could finish it in a couple of days if I don't screw up again.

In other news, I've been swamped. I've been making handmade watercolor cards for 3 packages I need to mail. Thank you's and an exchange. I'm way behind on the exchange, but it's finished and just needs a cushy package. I haven't done any real studio work. I've had soccer games, building dedications, Halloween parties and Fall Festivals (what happened to Halloween Carnivals? Are they too EVIL?) I baked a mean Lemon Ginger Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting for the Festival Cake Walk. It was gone by the time we got there, so I don't know who got it. I hope they like it. I brushed some Lemoncello over the cake before I frosted it, so I hope they don't object to a little kick.

And about that Fall Festival. We have (had) no pets. DH is completely against having another creature being solely dependent upon us for its well being. What did they have at the festival? Win a Goldfish by throwing something into something else. Both #1 & #2 won a little fishy. At first DH (let's call him Scrooge) told them to take the fish back and exchange them for candy, but I feeling all warm and motherly, said "Let's keep the fish. How hard can it be?" On they way home as the little ones clutched their little plastic baggies in ecstasy, I realized we had nothing to put them in and nothing to feed them. So I dropped off all my guys and headed to WalMart at 8:00 pm on Friday night. It was packed. I never go to WM at nighttime and was surprised at how many people do their shopping in the dark. Anyway. I bought a little bowl and some food and a cute plastic plant. We gave the fish their new home and put the boys to bed. I decided if we were going to keep these fish, I'd better find out what they need to live, so I looked them up on the internet. Turns out goldfish are very dirty fish and poop almost instantly after eating. They need at least 5-10 gallons per fish. Sheesh!

Next day, after 4 soccer games and a Mexican lunch, we headed to Petsmart. Bought a 10 gallon tank and natural pebbles (the fish dude said the colorful UNnatural ones could cut their little mouths). He also recommended live plants for oxygen and a "cleaner" fish, a dogo loach, to eat up the excess goldfish poop. We passed on the plants and the other fish because we had other errands, and apparently they would turn into fish stew if we left them in the car. So yesterday, I went back to Petsmart, bought the cleaner fish and the plants and put them in the tank. It turns out Dojos like a place to hide, so now I'm considering buying him his own sunken ship or treasure chest. You know, so he'll feel at home. So for 2 fifty cent games, we have made an approximately $100 investment. Those fish better live!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sienna with Buttons and Other Stuff

A cold front passed through last night, and it was chilly this morning. Perfect for wearing my brand new sweater. As promised, here are a couple of pictures. My faithful photographer Mac did the honors, but he doesn't really understand color, so the first one shows Sienna looking a little too orange.

Here's a closeup to show the buttons. I got them at Hancock's (no time for treasure hunting at flea markets right now). They are brass with brown glass eyes. They are kind of heavy, so on the wrong side, I sewed in thin, flat shell buttons, to reinforce them.

It's fall break at the university, so I did get some work done in the studio today. Here's the ugly thing that was driving me crazy. This is how I left it on Tuesday:

I worked on it today, and even though I'm not really satisfied, I guess you could say it's finished. The best thing about this painting is it led to the next one.

Here's the next one. Obviously not finished. Because I'm not going to paint again until next Tuesday, I wanted to use up the paint on my palette. Also, I wanted to redeem myself from the previous painting. Much looser. This is how I want to begin the final painting with all the kids in the composition. I really like the drips, but I always paint them out. I'm going to try to make myself keep them in and let this be a juicy painting.

Friends, I wish you had been here last night. Once again we watched Live Aid with some friends (this time at THEIR request, and no one really got drunk). I cooked Country Captain, a sort of southern version of chicken curry, in the crockpot, and made homemade brownies. MMM. This time I paid attention to some other bands besides Queen (the best though). The Who did a great job, especially on "Won't Get Fooled Again", and Elton John was really entertaining. Not that I'm a George Michael fan, but he covered "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me", and delivered a great performance. In case you're wondering how I can watch that concert over and over, the entire thing is 16 hours long, and I haven't seen every performance in it.

I hope everyone has a happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Frustration and Inspiration

I know, I didn't post anything yesterday. I did work in my studio, but things didn't go as I planned. Or I didn't plan as I went, or something like that. Anyway, the studio time was frustrating, and the work reflected that, so I refrained from posting. I didn't get much time in last week, so I was anxious to get started. I didn't clean my palette, and tried to use old paint that had formed a skin on it. I didn't properly clean my brushes, I closed down too quickly...I was making rookie mistakes left and right, and flailing about. I kept at it for several hours, though, and mucked something out of it. I'm going back in tomorrow, hopefully with more direction and clarity.

I have been knitting. I've finished one of the Snowflake socks, and am working on the second. I hope to have the second done by Saturday or Sunday. Then I'll make my dad's Manly socks. After that, I'm getting into the Regia Silk Color and knitting up a simple pair for myself. I can't wait to put my toes into that.

I've added a new link to my sidebar under "Some Other Links" titled VvG's letters. In case you didn't know, Van Gogh was a voracious letter writer and most of what we know about him comes from his correspondence with his brother Theo. What's really cool, is you can access all his letters, unabridged, online. I've read them all several times (hard copy), and he is incredibly inspiring. I really like that if you are wanting to find a letter about a specific subject, you can just type in a keyword and any letters with that word in it will come up. I am an advocate for humanizing Vincent, and making people realize that he was incredibly intelligent and approached his work analytically as well as emotionally. The letters illustrate this better than I ever could, so I direct people to them as often as I can. He wrote about virtually EVERYTHING, so it's fun see what he had to say about just about anything.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I'm Lucky

In the words of Joan Armatrading, "I can walk under ladders..."

I'm not sure exactly what's going on with me, but I have been so happy lately. This week has been particularly wonderful. When I went out of town to get my hair done, I visited an elderly friend I haven't seen in years. She is a wonderful, vibrant person, and she has meant a lot to me. She has over-collected glassware and insisted I take a piece home with me. I agreed and picked out this fruit bowl. Seeing her after all these years was sweet made me realize how precious life and friends are.

Several weeks ago I felt the need to reconnect with a dear friend from graduate school, so I sent her an email. Today when we got home from soccer games, there was a package in the mail. I don't have a secret pal, but it was the type of package I imagine I'd receive from one if I did. Anyway, my dear, sweet friend, a much better person than I, replied through the US mail, and sent me a lovely handwritten card, with two skeins of Regia Silk Color Sock Yarn. Turns out she's been knitting too, and she sent me a happy. How sweet is that?

To top it off, after soccer today, I was spent. I think I'm becoming hypothyroid again. I told DH, I was so tired and I had to lay down. He didn't complain, and kept the kids away while I took a 2 hour nap. That's a great gift, right? Nothing more needed there. When I got up, he said he needed to run to the store to get some vitamins for the kids. I said, run, my dear. When he got home, he brought me these. For no reason. What a guy. How'd I get so lucky? I'm blessed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Snowflake 2 and a Different Kind of Art

I decided that the Cherry Tree Hill yarn and the #2 needles weren't working out for the Snowflake sock. It was knitting up way to big. I switched to Opal Uni and #1's and here's how it looks. Once again, DH has the camera so I'm relying on Mac as my photographer:

And usually on Tuesdays I post something arty for you, but yesterday I traded a day of making art for a day of receiving art. I drove 2 hours to get my hair cut by someone I consider a genius. He started doing my hair 26 years ago. I was 15 and he was 22. He made me glamorous and I let him experiment with new techniques. It was a hair match made in heaven. We have been friends through the years, and though usually someone in town does my hair, when I really need a boost, I go back to Ralph. I don't have to tell him what to do, I just tell him how I'm feeling & what I've been up to, and how I want to feel, and he does the rest. Yesterday I said I wanted something fresh & sexy that didn't deny the curliness of my hair. Here's what I ended up with:

Front view

Side view:

I took a pic of the back view, but the lighting was off. I'm really happy with the cut. It's so easy to fix and it makes me feel great. Also, Jason did the color, and it looks just like what my hair naturally should. So I'm feeling sassy and ready for anything. The anything I need to be ready for is midterm exams and portfolios. I will probably spend all day tomorrow and a good piece of the weekend grading. Back to art making next week!

Friday, October 06, 2006

My Sock History

Having joined Socktoberfest, I decided I must PARTICIPATE in Socktoberfest. At Lolly's suggestion, I'm going to share my brief sock history:

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I started knitting socks last spring when everyone in my household had strep throat and I couldn't do much else. I looked up several simple sock patterns on line and finally taught myself on a small "training sock."

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

My first pair of socks were from Joan Fernbach's pattern using Paton's Classic Merino. They were intended for my husband, but they felted down to my size. I made myself a pair using the same yarn after I finished his pair. Here they are. Can you tell which pair is mine? They haven't been worn much, so other than felting, they are doing just fine

What would you have done differently?

I would have used yarn that does not shrink

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

I've used several yarns I love. Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock, Fleece Artist Merino, and Cherry Tree Hill are my favorites

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I knit my socks using DPN's. I prefer 4 DPN's, but am starting to get used to 5.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

I've only done the flap heel, so I guess that's what I prefer

How many pairs have you made?

I think it's about 8 pairs. I kind of went crazy knitting socks over the summer while I was sick. I've got 2 or 3 pairs to go before I'm satisfied I've done all my Christmas knitting.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Well, I didn't get in any studio time today. I had a doctor appointment midmorning, and a bunch of errands to run, so I decided to devote my day to dull, but necessary stuff. I cleaned the bathrooms and the kitchen, to the amazement of my husband. I've kind of let things slide around here since I've been in the studio. I worked on the Snowflake sock some, but I'm not sure about the yarn. It's Cherry Tree Hill in a color called Spring Frost. It appears to be a subtly variegated grayish color, but it knits up much brighter than I expected, and I think it's going to compete with the lace pattern too much.

I may frog it and restart with some bright blue Opal Uni I have. Can't really decide right now. The good thing is, the Snowflake pattern isn't that difficult. The pattern is rated advanced, but it doesn't seem as difficult as Branching Out. There are 12 rows with 4 sets of 13 stitch repeats. In other words, you do the same set of 13 stitches 4 times per row, with a 12 row pattern repeat. Not that hard.

Well, this has to be a short one. Have a great night everyone.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sock, Block & Draw

Happy Tuesday, Everyone. Today I decided to join Socktoberfest. I've been knitting socks anyway, and any kind of knitting event that compares itself to drinking beer, sounds like my kind of fun. I'm almost finished with my husband's pair of socks and I have 2 more pairs to go. I'm going to make my mom the snowflake socks on Magknits, and I'm going to make my dad a pair of the same pattern I've made for my father-in-law and my husband. The Bear Brand Book gives this sock the charming name No. 2222. I've decided to rename it The Manly Sock. It's plain, and comfortable, nothing fancy, just meat and potatoes. Something just about any guy would like.

Sienna is blocking. She turned out pretty well. The pieces sewed up beautifully! I don't know if the pattern is just great, or my skills have improved, but this sweater went off with out a single hitch. Here's how she looks now. I haven't found the buttons, yet, but when I do, I'll show a pic with me modeling, to show the fit.

Well, I didn't get my canvases gessoed, like I wanted, so I didn't have a surface to start a new oil on today. I put a coat of gesso on the canvases, and pulled out some beautiful Rives BFK (printing paper) I've had around for a few years, and pulled out my acrylics. I just wanted to do a value composition. Here's the result. It was fun to mess around with acrylics again. Honestly, the only thing I enjoy doing with acrylics is drawing on paper with them:

I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am!