Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh, you guys!!!

You are terrific. Thank you for all those nice warm fuzzies!! Gosh knows I needed them. Still wondering over here if the antibiotic is working, frankly...but it sounds like Denise needs the warm fuzzies too. (no fancy links in this post, I'll explain in a minute.) Please check out the comments in the last post and send your love over Denise's way as well!!

I've been tagged to do a meme but that will have to wait because...

OK. I'm in the Philly airport on the way to New England. This is a fun trip to see my friend and her family and not a work trip, but to go on a plane trip from our house, we have to send the dogs to dog jail. (check) Actually, they went to a doggy daycare place which is expensive but more fun.

Then, we woke up at 5 AM, so we could get to the airport in Nashville on time. (70 + miles away.) The professor went off towards Texas to do field research. I went towards the East Coast. Here I am in the Philly airport, in a rocking chair and my bottom is going numb, I'm not giving up this thing until I'm ready to get on the plane... and there's a karyoke concert happening right near here. (No, I was not expecting that when I paid up to check my work email....)

Anyway, it's gotten so that maybe the travelling part of trips are really like "work" for me. So, what did I do while riding in the car, and on the first plane? I knit ALL of a women's size large mitten (for my sister-in-law) except the thumb. Worsted weight yarn, ancient Penny Straker pattern, and whoa. It was fast. The knitting (and doing book email)....I can't seem to get away from it!! I guess it's time to start mitten two...speed demon knitter. I think the double pointed needles keep the creepy airport guys away. Whaddya think?

The music is actually kind of good. Oh, and I just saw a little yappy dog in a carrier going by. Makes me double glad for my dogs AND that they are not going with me. 40 lbs X 2 in a carrier bag sounds like rough carry on luggage, even for me. More the next time I have access to the net. (rural Vermont is a high speed internet wasteland, I hear...!)
PS: There is lovely hot tea at this airport. A definite plus. The teminal gates and seats need a little work, but the tea. Ohhh. It's so restorative after 9? hours of travelling, so far. Have I said thank you for your kindness in that last post???

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

let me clarify..

Ever wonder why I show so many images of sleeping dogs here? (note Sally is sound asleep here) It's not because they're always like this. NO WAY. They are crazy barkingheadloonybinpooperheads. They chase EVERYTHING that drives by our corner from window to window. I know about every squirrel, every cat or rabbit, every mail man or UPS truck that visits our house on the corner of two streets property. This is the natural inclination of two mixed breed bird dogs. They're, in polite terms, high energy. Let's try again. High Strung. No, how about complete offtheirrockerscrazy heads.

As you might imagine, the antibiotics haven't really fixed me yet. I'm letting it all hang out. I feel bad, the opposite of high energy dogs. (yup, it's day three on these enormous pills, and I've called the doctor. Something's got to give) So, when both dogs were sound asleep in puddles of sunshine in my office, I pretended this is what life was really like. Just for a sec.

And while Harry is showing the whole world his private parts right here on the blog...I'll explain what else I'm up to, this week.

Ever wonder how the photos for a heavily illustrated book get chosen? Well, in the ideal world, there is a wonderful relationship between an editor--the one who helps choose photos-- and the writer. (Luckily, I have that. If you're reading this, dear editor, you have been so fabulous about this stuff, so kind and consensus- oriented, that it's hard for me to express.) There's also a cooperative photographer. We'll get into that later.

For a book about fiber events and festivals, that photographer takes hundreds (think 700, easy) photos at each festival. You might have noticed the professor doing this if you saw us, it was hard to miss. Then, the professor and I sat down the week after the festival, and we cut out, oh, say 600 of those photos. Some were blurry duds, too dark, too light, or unfixable in a hard to describe way. These were painful sessions at the dining room table, when we were tired, frustrated, and suffering. I hated cutting pictures of people I liked. I hated choosing just one photo of that special sheep. What, doesn't everyone feel that way about the sheep?

The incredibly cooperative photographer/professor puts these selected images in a secret location, online. We waited until all the travelling is over, and then now, I work with the editor. We narrow the 100+ photos for each festival? Into 5 to 8 shots. It's hard. Excruciating. We've just finished 5 chapters' worth. I feel like I've run the photo selection marathon and many more to choose yet.

Meanwhile, the cooperative photographer/professor has also helped do shots of the projects, with models. Those who know us realize we're not the high fashion stylist types. We get what we think are the most fabulous shots. Then, the kind editor makes her suggestions. Turns out not everything was as fab as we'd hoped.

Photographer/professor/husband may go on strike soon. He is jealous of half of Europe when it comes to strikes. He's very cooperative. Yes, dear. Only, there is no money in this right now. He must be a professor the rest of the time so we can, you know, eat...and all those pre-meds can study genetics. We miss taking breaks in our lives. I am sick and cranky. He is tired of taking knitting related photos. (I know, is it possible?)

This is what part of my desk looks like. Below, this is what the other surfaces look like, cause you never know when you're going to need handspun (prop) or handcards. Never mind the guestroom, which has gorgeous knitted design samples stacked up everywhere.

In the back of my mind, I hear the comments that happen after a knitting book comes out. "I love those big glossy images, but..why couldn't they just show the sweater better?" Or, "I posed for a picture, why didn't they include me?" Or, "My sheep/fleece/booth/alpaca/rabbit/border collie was gorgeous. What were they thinking, not including it?!!"

My inner photo editor is coming out, and it isn't pretty. I've chosen photos for 5 events at this point, no projects chosen yet, and at least as many events to go. Please, have mercy when (IF!?) the book comes out. Be kind.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind a cheering comment now and again. You can't imagine how many times a day I pop over here for positive reinforcement....and yes, I too hope the antibiotics work, and soon! Crankiness can become overwhelming.

Monday, November 26, 2007

resting, with toys

Thanksgiving was pretty great around here, a good party, as a matter of fact...complete with chocolate pecan pie and single malts. Sorry you couldn't be here for the fun! However, I've been just feeling out of sorts for quite a while. Today, my doctor decided maybe I had a lowgrade infection, and I've been prescribed the big antibiotic horsepills, so no whiskey for me for now! I'm hopeful this will make a difference! I've been operating as normal, but feeling grouchy and crummy for months, so I hope this is the answer. This is the short answer for why I didn't post for a few days. I didn't want to inflict my grumbling on anyone to whom I'm not related.

Over the long weekend, the professor and I took walks, did some work, watched movies and even had two photo shots with models for the book. Those came out well, and as a bonus, I got to visit with the models, who are secretly colleagues and friends in real life.

Harry the dog has been very busy with toys. Every night, I find one or more fuzzy toys or plastic bones on my bed. (some people get pillow mints, I hear, but I wouldn't fish? fuzzy squeaky ball, anyone?) With the new boxspring, things are lowered back to normal in the hopping up, with toys, is much more convenient for a 40 lb dog.

So, imagine my surprise today.... I worked at the dining room table, with all my papers spread out and the laptop revved up. Harry was obviously concerned about me. I wasn't upstairs at my office desk, didn't feel top Harry, fuzzy ball in his mouth, made the rounds. He walked around and around the dining room, with detours into the living room, kitchen, and hallway. I lost count of how often he did this.

On reflection, I think this is the secret dog incantation. "Feel better. Feel better. I've got the magic fuzzy ball (wand?)" Maybe he repeated it seven times? Anyway, it tired him out and I felt really loved. Now, I'm back to selecting photos for the book, without the help of even one fuzzy squeaky toy. Can it be done without the squeaky toys?!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

passionate thanks

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel. --Author Unknown

This quote arrived in a online newsletter. I couldn't have appreciated it more! For those of you in the USA, you know it is time for our Thanksgiving holiday. Outside the US, maybe you've heard of our holiday? At its best, it is a sweet all-American celebration of thanks for harvest, family, and friends.

At our house, we're celebrating with two friends ("orphans") who are in town for the holiday, both named John. In a true sign of both our friendship and feeling grateful for being included for the holiday, we're throwing off the bonds of turkey and cranberry sauce (neither of which I like, although I've tried) and making another kind of meal. I'll probably make brisket, which is warming, sweet with apricots, and rich, and I'll roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and jerusalem artichokes. There will probably be applesauce and salad, and in the sweets department? A pumpkin pie creation of some kind. A pecan pie will be contributed by our friend John from Mississippi. Our John from the Midwest will bring Krumkake. I'm really looking forward to it..adding our blessings and thanks as a strong sauce over it all!

Meanwhile, our house has been cluttered and busy. I'm choosing photos for the book with my editor, and that is so hard. As many of you saw in our travels, the professor took hundreds of photos at each festival for this book. They are all gems. Every choice for each chapter is a struggle.

My mind feels about as cluttered as this coffee table in my office, complicated by a lot of doctor's appointments lately...but I get off track. Back to thanks...

This week, I celebrated the purchase of a new mattress, and I hear tell that Harry the dog can take a flying leap from the hallway to assume his normal daytime sleeping position. (I've never seen the leap myself, just the sleeping.) The crazy height of new mattresses makes this bed way too tall now. (see where the footboard ends?) I have to climb into bed. I fall out. We've got a "low-profile" boxspring on order; hopefully that will solve part of the problem by lowering things another 5 inches. In any case, my back hurts less now and despite the height, I'm glad that we did this--every 11 years or so, a new mattress is not a bad idea!

One of my favorite parts of this exchange on my blog are the tips. I would never have known to wash a zipper before hand sewing it into my sweater, thank you for your hints, everyone! My latest hint is something I now do without thinking about it. I ply almost all my handspun from a center pull ball, but you can do this with bobbins, too, by wrapping the yarns around a knob to prevent twist from travelling. When the phone rings, or the dog needs to go out, you can take a break from plying. Most wheels have a knob somewhere--a tension knob, an ornament, etc. that you can plant your ball on while you take a short break. If the wheel doesn't have this sort of thing, your spinning chair might. When you return to your plying, you pull it off and continue onwards. The twist evens itself out, I promise. It makes plying a lot easier. (if you click on the photo, you'll see even my bobbins are untidy this week. Go figure.)

My last treat is from the professor, who went off to do research in the Florida Everglades this week. He saw an alligator and two crocodiles, and a shark swam by, as big as his research boat. Glad I didn't know about these details until he came home! Who knew that butterfly research was this risky? On the way south from the airport, he stopped by a tropical fruit stand and bought me two pounds of passion fruit! I am rationing them out, one a day. It's easy to be grateful for treats like this. Every one of them makes me passionate about giving thanks...for food, for friends, and for family. Thanks for being part of that, blog readers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I plan someday to actually finish this slip-stitch cardigan I'm knitting.'s speeding along. When I do, I really want to use a zipper as the closure. Now, I've never done this before, but that doesn't matter, I believe I can do this. I wear a cashmere cardigan with a zipper all the time, and I love it. So, today in my travels, (after the dog park, I mean) I went to the fabric store. I figured I wanted a separating zipper, since I'll want to open the cardigan sometimes, right? The cardigan is dark brown, so I'd like a dark brown (or black?) zipper. I think it should be about 14 inches. Yup. No such zipper at the store.

We have one other store in town that might have zippers like this. It's closed on Sundays. (yup, say it with me, all together--this is a small town!!) I went home and tried to order a zipper online. These things are only $1.50 a piece! So, why is it that no one has the right kind of zipper? Since I don't know much about zippers, I was already feeling, well, zipper challenged. Then, I clicked on this site and nearly hyperventilated. (maybe it was the New York New York theme music?) Then again, who knew there were so many zippers to choose from?

I have emailed my mother, my sewing expert advisor, but at the moment, the drama of the rest of the Seiffs' lives is my nephew's new big boy bed, since he's learned to climb out of his crib...when you're two, this is huge excitement!!

Are any of you sewers? Zipper users? Tailors? Seamstresses? Do you have any websites or suggestions? Please, enlighten me.

Meanwhile, my best friend told me on the phone long distance that if we were really crafty, we could reuse our old t-shirts and make them into underwear. No way. There are limits, even for me. Rag rugs, cleaning rags, dog-bed stuffing, sure, but underwear? I got off the phone right away and used some of my many frequent flier miles to book me a ticket to New England. That gyrrlfriend needs immediate attention!! Maybe it's the long winters or something? Oddly, the stars aligned. I was meant to go to New Hampster and Vermont the weekend after Thanksgiving. I got the ticket for $10. Round-trip, that will be 5 flights and 37,500 frequent flier miles. She's totally worth it. Now, if I can conquer that? Why not a zipper?!

Friday, November 16, 2007

thinking of you

I've got to say that the comments from the last post were wonderful. I salivated over your dinner choices, visited with other folks' piano tuners, and imagined you imagining my neighborhood's noises. Thanks for letting me connect to you. Please keep offering me your thoughts! I read and cherish every single one.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I've been thinking about blogging all week but something kept getting in the way. First it was, you know, work. I've gotten back into the swing of things, and I'm sort of busy. I've written two non-book related (potential) articles this week, and I've been barraging my editors with email. I was one of those annoying kids at school who finished things early and stressed everyone else out. I wasn't the kid who always had a perfect paper or anything--just finished quickly. I have to avoid doing that as an adult, it pisses people off!

I was also ushered into the world of multi-person conference calls. Yes, I've had a three person call, when two of the people are sitting with one speaker phone. This week, I had the pleasure of a meeting with 7 people. Whoa. I'm a newly elected board member of the Association of Knitwear Designers and I'm pretty impressed with the people on this board. We got a lot done. I also spent time staring out my office window into the backyard while I listened. I did a fair amount of knitting on the slip stitch sweater I'm designing out of handspun. I'm most of the way through the back of the sweater, because...

After a two hour respite, I had a League of Women Voters meeting. Now, I joined this to have some intellectual stimulation with real people in the same room as me. (always a problem if you work from home.) A friend bumped into me as I walked the dogs this morning and he smiled and said, "I get it. You were expecting the Algonquin Table?" So far, not so much. We've gone over some bylaws, and I narrowly avoided being on that board,too. We have yet to talk about any topics of substance. Before the meeting began, well, I couldn't really fit in either. Topics ranged from:

-Watching Oprah on TV. (don't really watch much TV outside of BBC mini-series on DVD and PBS, I'm a popular culture hermit)

-The horrors of hair, especially body hair (those who know me in person recognize that I am from what could be politely termed--a family that grows a lot of hair. I'm married to one of those too. Our dark haired families are originally from cold Eastern/Western European climates.) I'm obviously far more in touch with hair issues than they are. When I think of back hair, it's not just on my dogs. I'm ok with that. That's how the Almighty made a lot of us!

-How to ask your friends and family (or rely on your friends) to register for your college classes for you because you are too lazy/busy/whatever to get up early and do it yourself. (Hmmm, another reason why you're not enabling your friends and children to grow up, take care of their own responsibilities and become movers and shakers on their own?)

Knitting kept me from being a total snob here. I tried to smile and keep knitting. Obviously, I am from another planet...the hairy planet with no daytime TV and lots of individual responsibility. Perhaps I sometimes have a hard time relating to others, and maybe I don't really enjoy attending meetings for the sake of going to meetings. I am ok with that.

When I was an undergraduate, I lived for two years in Risley, the dorm for creative and performing arts. I loved the music practice rooms in the basement, the constant art and creative culture. I brought my spinning wheel to college. I had friends who felt the way I did, even if they didn't spin or play jazz sax. I spun and knit my way through school. I turned out dozens of mittens for my friends and myself. Recently, I put on a pair of mittens and realized, hey. These mittens are maybe 14 years old. They're handspun, single ply wool (and maroon mohair, I think) and in great shape. It was a wonderful testament to:
handspun singles (on a literal level)
feeling good about being quirky and different.

So, when I didn't fit in last night at that meeting, I looked at my handknit sweater (made in high school), and my mittens. I thought, it's ok, I do have friends. Some people get it! One LWV member noticed my handknit coat, and said something complimentary about how my clothes all have stories. Everyone else might have rolled their eyes...or did I just imagine it?

These days, I rely on you, cyberfriends, to help me make that creative community.

Monday, November 12, 2007

we interrupt this regularly scheduled...

I am a bad piano owner. For the first time in this piano's life, it had to wait, uhh, maybe 3 and a half years to be tuned. That's way too long. So, this morning, as part of my "get my life back in order campaign," a lovely efficient and professional tuner came to my house at 8:30 AM. Ping Ping Ping. Adjust pitch. Ping Ping. Adjust. Switch to next key...

Now, those of you who have pianos know the noise. It's not music. If you don't have a piano, it might not bother you too much, but let's just say two hours of it doesn't help anyone get much done. I felt so proud. I focused hard and ignored the noise. I ordered b-day presents for people, wrote overdue emails, caught up. Ping ping ping. Chord. Cadenza. Ping Ping.

To answer the question I hear from my gentle blog readers--I started playing when I was about 6. My parents bought me this piano, and it is now mine, forever. I also play/played guitar and saxophone. I played sax and sang all the way through college, in jazz ensembles. Then, sadly, I couldn't keep up with it anymore while teaching, going to grad school, etc. I am a slacker. I hope to get back into it all someday, when I live in a place where that might be easier for me to do in my daily life. Ping ping ping. Adjust. Ping Ping. Chord.

I felt an enormous whoosh when I'd paid the tuner and he left. What relief! What cosmic karmic release of piano guilt!! Maybe it was just the amazing quiet in the house. So I didn't rush to play the piano or anything, so what? I started working so I could submit book stuff to my editor. I answered some more email. I ate lunch. I did an errant load of laundry or two.

And then...this happened, out my front window. Why did the gas company need to drill this afternoon? Why? Ping Ping. Brrrrr. Rattle. Men talking in the street. My dogs bark at them. The house vibrates from the drilling.

You get the picture. It is not quiet. Well, it seems to be now, actually, after I have given up all hope of work, but whatever. I tried.

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments regarding how designs work. We've all had the failures, and I laughed heartily over some of your comments. It helped me get back into good humor about the whole thing...and I heard that a certain uncomplimentary blog entry had been erased, too, which also is probably better in the end, too. My shoulder is somewhat better too, thanks for asking, but I've still got an appointment for Zero Balancing next week, which I'm not cancelling. This sounds like hooey until you try it--well, anyway, it works better than other forms of massage therapy for me, for this recurring hurt. On a totally different topic...

This year, I'm really enjoying the start of sweater season. I feel like I'm bonding with old, worn, slightly forgotten friends. I take out a cardigan and think "Hey buddy! How the heck are you? Give me a hug!" Ahh. Sweaters. Fall. I'm enjoying it. Might make pot roast for dinner...and you, wonderful readers? Are you enjoying sweater season? Get your piano tuned after turning on the heat? What's up with you?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

psst. It ain't the sweater, honey

Today I had an entire workday without household errands or catch-up activities. Nothing short of a miracle! Don't worry, probably won't happen again any time soon! Here's some of the fibery stuff 'round here.

Thermal, this undertaking in fingering weight Australian merino, is going along slowly but surely. It's a bit large now, so it sits on the coffee table and I do a few rows in the evening, or when I walk by.

I spun up the rolags I mentioned a while back, and here's a comparison photo of two kinds of Finn wool from the same lamb fleece. The skein on the left is two ply fingering weight, from carded wool, and it's pretty tightly spun. (mittens. I'm thinking selbuvotter mittens) The skein on the right is the handteased locks...probably a lofty sport or dk weight, lovely in texture but not quite right for color work.

The next image (see the brown and cream theme here?) is a slip stitch pattern, knitted out of bulky weight handspun on size 10.5 needles. The resulting fabric--cushy, soft, warm and rich deep brown-- will hopefully someday be a zip up v-neck sweater for me. I am debating whether I'll write a pattern from this. More on that in a minute.

All this is happening pretty slowly, but here's some fingering weight brown (what else?) Shetland that will hopefully become the contrasting color for my mittens. It's being spun on my Schacht wheel in the living room, with wool carefully boobytrapped so the dogs don't get involved. Mmmh. Wool--winter time. dog bed...'cause sleeping on the wood floors is cold now! (get the picture?)

Now, to the designing bit. I happened upon someone's blog and this person knit not one, but two sweaters from a pattern I designed. She proclaimed it poorly designed despite knitting it twice, and rushed around the 'net and the blogosphere, asking publicly for others to weigh in. I found her email and asked her, privately, why she didn't contact me for help and/or advice. (she did try the pattern publisher and didn't get satisfaction, they couldn't help her.)

Here's the weird part...I don't think anyone could help! She had no problem following the instructions, and her cardigan(s) looked remarkably like the pattern photos. What was wrong, apparently, was that she felt the sleeves were too big (dolman/loose) and that the v-neck was too wide for her body. Since the sweater was a quick knit out of fuzzy bulky yarns, I was careful not to create tight fitting sleeves (this can be distinctly unflattering!) and yes, the sweater definitely had a wide v-neck. The photo didn't lie about that. In the end, I think the conclusion might be:

I wrote an ok piece of technical writing. It worked, knitters could follow it and it's probably worth more than the $400 I was paid for it... (the company renewed the pattern copyright, so I earned slightly more over time, so they liked it, too.) However, no sweater design is going to flatter everyone. Plus, knitting patterns don't usually come with a manual that explains whose bodies it will flatter. Even more complicated? Knitwear designers can't control how people feel about their bodies. Sweaters don't change us--the ones that fit right may flatter, and others may --not-- flatter. (psst. It's not the sweater's fault, honey)
Now, the kicker...a sweater might look bad on you, but unless the pattern had lots of mistakes or was hard to follow, it's not a poorly written design. Maybe it's not the right pattern for the knitter, but there's a reason we knit. We knit to create one of a kind pieces that look good on us, because we've all got different body types, preferences, and style. So, will I write up a pattern for another bulky cardigan right now? I don't know, I found this experience pretty discouraging. I just can't control which patterns knitters might choose, or how they feel about their bodies! Instead, I might just enjoy knitting it, because if it doesn't fit me right? I'll rip it out, give it away, or redesign it--to fit me and my style. Why? Well, even with the shoulder ache, I like knitting. If it isn't flattering, that's my choice to make as a knitter. I can't hold a designer (even me) accountable for that part. That might be a body image issue, or a confusion about what actually suits me. No design can fix that.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Settling in

It's sometimes hard when I feel so conflicted about "home." On one hand, I love my house and deeply appreciate being able to walk to the post office, the library, to downtown restaurants, and to the university. The cost of living here is also manageable for a professor and writer who don't earn so much.

On the other hand, living in a place where someone throws beer cans on the lawn and there's vomit on the neighbor's sidewalk (and yes, this happened on a Monday night) is less than pleasant. We're having an ongoing problem here, and though I believe deeply in advocating for students and school success? I'm beginning to hope that these new neighbors/college students hurry up, flunk out and take their drinking elsewhere! It's wrong. I know, but I'm getting tired of this.

I feel further conflicted when I hear this about my state: Gov. Orders 10 Commandments displayed at KY Capitol. How could this not be a stunt right before election time? For those who wonder why this Ten Commandments debate is such a big deal, I invite you to check out this wiki entry and ask yourself, whose commandments should be displayed? The original ones (you know, in Hebrew?) The translations? Whose translation? The Catholic version? Russian or Greek Orthodox? Protestant? Why should one be given preferential treatment over the others?

What about the many U.S. citizens who don't fall in one of those categories? Why should one version of one religion's partial moral code be posted when we're all equal under law? (for reference as to another reason I object, Jews have 613 commandments, those ten are like Letterman's top 10 Lists. Important, but not all inclusive.)

Please, please, if you live in the USA, Vote TODAY! Exercising your right to vote is an important part of our democracy, and it's so important to advocate for everyone's rights. Our American brothers and sisters come in all religions, colors, and ethnicities. I' m always grateful and proud for that diversity.

You may notice that the photos in this post are bucolic and not at all connected to what I'm feeling as I post this. These are photos of the professor's family farm house, most used as a vacation home, in upstate NY. I'm taking deep cleansing breaths and looking at the old farmhouse, the slate tiled roof, and the views of the fields. I can get all pumped up about our new (old) apple orchard and pear trees. (now serving: roasted apple chocolate chip cake--the recipe lists are endless!)

I can escape in my mind, and imagine settling in--elsewhere, someday. I'm not picky--it doesn't have to be this particular place, although it's close to my heart. Oh, and of course, in the imaginary world, I might even consider a few sheep on those fields.

PS: Knitting and spinning have slowed down substantially because of some rather sudden shoulder pain from overuse. Typing may be limited soon, too.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

art as inspiration

We Real Cool

My friend Rosemary often uses quotes on her blog that get her readers talking. The felt I saw at SAFF (Southeast Animal Fiber Festival) in Asheville went far beyond what most of us think of when we imagine that "woolcraft" of feltmaking. (For non-fiber arts folk, wool felt has all sorts of everyday uses--it's likely in the trunk of your car, your winter time pea coat and in fedoras, if you own one!)

This, however, was art. Now that I have my photos developed, here are some of the highlights, a few at a time. I can share this image of Becky Walker's work, displayed as part of the Southeastern Felter's Guild.

When can you define something as art? When it inspires you to make connections beyond its own image or scope? When it causes one to innovate or think? Some folks might see this "sheep in shades" as just whimsy, but it was actually sort of serious and dignified when seen up close.

The first thing I thought of when seeing this was a poem that I used when I taught high school in inner-city DC and community college in downtown Buffalo. The poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, indicates that this poem's power is in how it's read and what it means. Look here to the American Poems site for some more analysis on its meaning.

We Real Cool

We real cool. We
Left School. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.
--Gwendolyn Brooks

In a way, this answers the last post, about the vandalism of our fence. In practical terms, we (and the cops) can't always catch the person who broke the bottles on our stoop, or pried pickets off our fence. We can keep cleaning and fixing, teaching and mentoring, supporting neighborhood businesses and walking the block with Harry and Sally. We can keep smiling and saying good morning to whoever we meet. Destruction can be equated with some major loss of hope, some posturing (we real cool) or anger. We can, as Alison suggested, install a motion-sensor light, which could literally--and perhaps figuratively--shed some light on a dark aspect to the neighborhood...just as this felted art and this poem shed light and inspiration (a commentary?) on our lives. We too can be, in Hebrew transliteration, Or Zarua, light sown.

Edit: 11/4. When sowing light fails, I call the cops. Last night, when the second group of students kicking recycling bins and destroying pumpkins came up the street, I switched on all the lights, yelled at them myself, got the neighbor's bin out of the street, and asked city dispatch for more neighborhood patrols when the bars let out after 1 or 2 AM. This is just not fun.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

use your imagination?

Still no photos. Sorry for being such a loser on the graphics front. In the meanwhile? You can just imagine. It's good for the gray cells in this media saturated age, right?

Last night, we had one trick or treater, a toddler dressed as a frog. Very cute. We ate soba noodles with roasted eggplant and green peppers, smothered in a peanut sauce. (peanut sauce can be found in the original Moosewood cookbook, it's very good.) We also had winter squash, shitake mushroom, wakame (seaweed) and miso soup. Then applesauce and apple crisp for dessert. I also froze 6 cups of roasted eggplant and olive oil for winter time use. This makes instant baba ghanoush when defrosted and blended with the other fresh ingredients in the cusinart or blender, or as a good chunky tomato sauce add-in. I also composted 1 lb of okra, a bunch of greens and some beans that did not make it until I got home. Oh well. Fresh seasonal food doesn't last forever, but it sure does taste yummy. I will face more apples in a day or two. Alison recommends apple butter in a crock pot if I have freezer space. I don't have either a crock pot or freezer space...but I'll think of something. I still love apples, even while I'm overrun with them!

All this was very good but did not make up for the loud revelry of college student drinkers last night, who left us lots of trash this morning AND vandalized our picket fence. Whose ambition is it to pry off slats on a fence for fun, I ask you?! This kind of destruction always gets me peeved. Yes, I did smash one pumpkin in college, but it was an ex-boyfriend who literally moved across town without telling anyone he'd dumped me, and frankly, he deserved it. If faced with the same situation again? I'd probably enjoy smashing the pumpkin another time. Thank goodness for my professor husband. He's downstairs making dinner right now. Stir-fry ground beef with broccoli rabe, shitake mushrooms, broccoli , probably over brown rice.
Today I picked up all that locally raised meat and wow, it was heavy. Cows are big. After playing meat delivery person to my friend who's sharing this with me, I filled the whole downstairs freezer. Please feel free to let me know when you're coming to dinner. This is a lot of beef.

On the knitting front: I've started knitting a cardigan-like thing out of the lovely brown wool I spun back in July (see the secret sheep pajamas entry). I love this stuff and hope it's squishy softness will become something that actually looks good on me. I considered knitting Cherie Amour from Knitty but then had a wake-up call. When it's cold enough to wear wool? I don't want holey lace. I want full-on sleeves. So much for my sexiness quotient...even the professor agreed that was a lost cause, I'd never wear it.

I'm spinning more of the Finn fleece (remember those rolags? Yup. All gone.) It's going to be two ply fingering weight, and I'm using one of my high speed whorls for my Schacht that I bought at SAFF. The wheel is just zooming along, and still I am treadling like heck. I just spin too fast, or maybe I need to up the ratio even higher. I am all for the joys of physics in spinning.

Lastly, I'm still slowly knitting Thermal but last night, I didn't knit at all. I sat on the couch, and cuddled Sally the dog, who celebrates two years in our house as of today. I am so happy she is part of my family.