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November 30, 2005

creepy christmas lobby

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Ask yourself how you might feel entering work everyday between a lobby full of scary-ass practically life-size plastic snowmen and a few snow-omen [that's spell check's correction for snow-women so I'm leaving it in since it's painfully apropos) which are eerily glowing from within and stacked on tiered boxes that make some of them about 10 feet tall?! And this photo only shows the left half of the madness! By the way, you can see all the cords draping off the stands and snaked across the floor. The job is shlocky in addition to bizarre. Top it off with horrid clichéd Christmas songs pretending to emanate from the creepy snow chorus but really coming from a speaker behind lobby attendants podium. YIKES. At least doorrman Mac has a good sense of humor about it and he has to spend all day surrounded. He pointed out to me that they shouldn't be in lobby at all because it's against California law to smoke indoors. I'd like to further point out that there's only one snow-omen per row, not including the rows which only have one, which of course is a man. Nice. Happy freakin' holidays. I must silently scream "WHY?"
You want to see the whole lobby?

November 29, 2005

how to shibori

yeah! I've gotten some unsolicited compliments on my Shibori scarf. The only funky comment was an enthusiastic women in the elevator who said she loved it, " it looks homemade". Can't say that didn't sting a little. A Colleague asked me for the pattern. So after writing it all up on email I thought I should just post it here too. My long "How to Shibori" notes:

You must use a wool yarn to felt. It can have some alpaca but that's about it, no silk, cotton etc. The store owner said not to use a white wool because the bleach they use to whiten doesn't felt. I made mine during a machine knit class so only took an hour to knit! The fact that it was so easy to knit doesn't break your heart if the experiment goes awry. The yarn was a no 5 gauge. I cast on 40 (my teacher casts on 25 for a skinnier look) and to get a very loose stitching you should probably use no. 8 or 9 needles. Knit in stockinet until the length measures anywhere from 110 to 140 depending on how long you want it. For felting the stitches must be loose to allow the hot water and agitation to work. With a lot of slack, bind marbles with rubber bands (like ones the grocers uses to bind green onions). Design a marble wrapping pattern of your choice along the whole scarf. I did sort of an argyle pattern 3 across, then 2 across. My teacher had 4 across then 3, hers turned out a little less puckered than mine, which I like better. My classmate did a zig-zag pattern and hers ended up having a ruffled edge look. To make it have texture on both sides I wrapped the out side marbles from one direction and all the inside pattern marbles from the other. my classmate wrapped all the marbles from the same side and I think it didn't look so good.

Here's the experimental part: Fill a top loading washing machine with a small load setting on SUPER HOT. Add a tiny amount of detergent. Put your scarf in and close lid letting the machine agitate. Check the scarf every 5 minutes. DO NOT LET THE MACHINE START TO SPIN. Take out when you've achieved the desired amount of felting. Cold water rinse. Roll the wet scarf in a towel to remove excess water. Then untie all the marbles and let the scarf air dry.

Every yarn and washing machine is slightly different so the wash time varies. The washer I used was super hot and it only took my scarf 10 minutes to felt. My teacher had to wash hers through 2 whole cycles. Many of my marbles fell out during the wash. It wasn't because I tied the rubber bands too loosely. It was because the knit fabric stretched while wet and agitating so the marbles slipped through the loops. Try to leave enough slack so the fabric won't stretch and allow the marbles fall through. Maybe try big marbles? I used small ones. Another idea we had was to try rubber balls.

happy experimenting!

November 28, 2005

the meaning of life

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Couldn't sleep from 3 to 5 am. Arrrrgggg it's so frustrating. Any real reason? Apparently just my GENERAL ANXIETY. There was that GiaNT LOoP TaPE in my mind going around and around yet again about so many stupid and other meaningful things. Like how the recycling is too full, I need to write a YELP diatribe on the evil hostess at Universal Café, I must stop procrastinating and design the Annual Report cover, We need to find a preschool for Max, my husband's life avoidance techniques are driving me out of my mind, the radio this morning started counting down the lack of shopping days until Christmas, I have to organize the house before Max's play-date on Friday, I have to plan a lunch menu for said play-date, if I cut the bananas the night before they'll turn brown, figure out who's getting what for said play-date etc, we need to save money for Max's college, and for our retirement and oh my god if you get out the calculators there's just no way we can save THAT MUCH every month, I want to quit my job but hate the search process, the roof needs to be checked, the trees trimmed, the house painted, the exterminator needs to spray, ok so you get the idea if you made it this far without clicking to another site that's less annoying and neurotic.

Peanuts Strip: Stomach Ache
Peanuts Strip: For a Nickel

On Sunday am there was an interesting program on NPR's To The Best of Our Knowledge called The Meaning of Life: Why Bother? which is inspiring me to do some research on Peanuts cause I'm thinking Charlie and I have a lot in common when it comes to our life philosophy. I'm also thinking I need to read some existentialism to better understand this philosophy since it seems to summarize my issues with existing. Though the words are super heavy, despair, abandonment and nausea when I read the Sartre summary I'm thinking ya, that's exactly what I feel like. Deep and yet so totally annoying.

November 25, 2005

shibori process

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Here is the post machine knitting class but pre-shibori scarf. My classmate came up with a more fitting color name of "sweet potato". I cast on 40 stitches and knit 6 skeins until it was about 140 inches long. It took about and hour and half and I think the row counter was in the mid 200s when I was finished. I didn't make many mistakes except misjudging how far I could knit the last inches of a skein. Turns out if the yarn fits around the tension knob then it will make it across the row. It seems important to remember to move the weights up about every inch so the edges keep the proper tension. It was fast and easy as promised, but I can see how limiting it is to use just a few gauges that work with machines fixed needle size and only knit in stockinet stitch.

I forgot to take a photo pre-felting, sorry about that. Here's how I shibori-ed my scarf: I tightly wrapped the rubber bands around the marbles but made sure to try and leave enough slack so the marbles wouldn't fall through the knit loops. I wrapped the marbles in an argyle-like pattern 3 across then 2 across repeat to end, I did all the outside marbles on the wrong side and all the inside ones on the right side of the fabric. My classmate's project turned out so overly felted that all the ball shapes were on one side. I wanted to make sure my design worked on both sides incase mine got too felted as well. I placed the marbles about three inches apart across. Hubby helped me with the washing machine management, mostly for support. I get so tweaked every time I do something experimental. We filled the machine on the hot setting with just a touch of detergent. I agitated for about ten minutes then stopped the wash and while wearing rubber gloves fished the scarf out and had a look-see.


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Probably half the marbles had fallen out, and maybe ten rubber bands had come off. The felting was stronger in some areas and then not enough in others. I decided to add back a few marbles to some obvious problem areas and then put the scarf back in the hot water hoping to even out the felting. After about 4 more minutes I pulled the scarf out, ran it under cool water and then wrapped it in a towel to absorb some of the water. Hubby helped me take out the rubber bands and marbles. Under the rubber bands retained the most knits or unfelt areas. When a marble fell out, the tip of the ball area felted too. I think the biggest lesson when using this marble method would be to increase the tension of the fabric so the marbles can't fall through the wet loops. Here's the result:

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Here's a hippie dippie photo in the late afternoon sunlight to honor the process.
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November 24, 2005

thanksgiving

I can't help thinking of Poi Dog Pondering each thanksgiving. The Poi Dog I remember was pretty much an entirely differnent band than they are now. We made the mistake of going to their Fillmore show a few years ago and were sadly disappointed to hear the freaky wannabe world hippie music they were playing. Turns out people call the band I remember "the austin days". Back then they sang this beautiful sleeper of a song called thanksgiving. It's the best explaination of forgiveness I've come across. It reminds me to be thankful for what I had and for where I am now.

Somehow I find myself far out of line
from the ones I had drawn
Wasn't the best of paths, you could attest to that,
but I'm keeping on.
Would our paths cross if every great loss
had turned out our gain?
Would our paths cross if the pain it had cost us
was paid in vain?
There was no pot of gold, hardly a rainbow
lighting my way
But I will be true to the red, black and blues
that colored those days.
I owe my soul to each fork in the road,
each misleading sign.
'Cause even in solitude, no bitter attitude
can dissolve my sweetest find
Thanksgiving for every wrong move that made it right.

November 23, 2005

creativity explored

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As I walk by Creativity Explored I almost always get a smile sometimes even a "good morning" from one of the artists. It a nice way to start my day but it also reminds me not to put up defensive barriers while navigating through the world. I am often struck by the engaging exhibits they show at this place and how well done so many of the paintings, sculptures or other objects are. It's truly impressive and inspiring. it's also as interesting as the work I see in galleries, including many of the ones considered to be showing cutting edge work such as Southern Exposure or 111 Minna.

November 22, 2005

sweet bliss

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I started from pencil on paper, and yes it was far more satisfying than my wacom dependency. If only I had some pastels, brushes and a smock. Since I'm stuck at work, photoshop will have to do. I love Jill Bliss' sweet landscapes, so a little sham sham, copy copy, appropriatin'... I figure it's ok since it's for my own inspiration. Anything to make the painful slowness of work bearable and get me inching toward the art barn in my mind.

November 21, 2005

baby birdie bunny cat

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Must gush, just can't help meeeself. Max is way beyond cute and off into the he's so sweet it's causing tooth decay category. He's so desperate to communicate with us it's overwhelming and somewhat all consuming. My husband got this nabaztag rabbit from France [of course it's French it's so weird and yet strangely engaging, though I would have said the same if it was Japanese]. Every morning, evening, well all the time really, Max gets screechingly excited and signs that the cuckoo bunny clock thingee is chiming, glowing, and speaking to us in its finest British accent saying it's eight, nine, or ten o'clock. Max seems to have no idea that we hear it too. During our newly committed every other weekend family trip to Costco, Max was beside himself with joy when he recognized a picture of a cat on some packaging. I'm thinking, yeah, let's spend ten minutes crawling and walking over and around the cat litter crates what fun. But he was so cute I could have stayed there an hour signing and saying "yes Max, that's a cat". Over the weekend I taught him how to sign baby and birdie to add to his repertoire of "milk, cat, and more". He's now hugging himself, then chirping his fingers, then poking the top of his head and then pulling his whiskers signing "baby birdie bunny cat" over and over in rapid succession. In my finest French accent "j'adore".

November 20, 2005

suri with the fringe on top

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Here's the shibori-to-be. It's a suri merino by plymouth yarn co. color 2037 which means pumpkin if you don't speak number. It uses US7 -5sts=1inch. 55% suri alpaca, 45% extra fine merino wool. I'm feeling sad to sacrifice it to the machine and then to the Asian hippie process of marbleized felting. But hey I'm committed to the class, so there you have it. We're using a Silver Reed LK150. The directions say to cast on 25-30 stitches and knit until 100-120 inches in length. I'm thinking of casting on 40-50 and going longer hoping it will turn out somewhat luxurious. Perhaps I'll actually wear it? I bought eight skeins, so I may actually add fringe and just go whole hippie hog on this one, yippee kai yeah.

November 19, 2005

I love your jacket, well I love your hair

Got another fabulous hair cut from fancy ass Dwight last night. He's so good it hurts. Walked out looking fresh off the set of CQ and ready to divine something from my closet befitting a sushi groove meets rx gallery night mingling with rockstar djs. Oh my god, I'm thinking, who-am-I? Had to pull out the pink sparkly sjp-esque vandevorst heels and suffer through the night just because of the do. 1-2-3-4 saki's later I was doing fine, guess they aren't that hellish once you're under Onigoroshi's devil killer spell. Mira was stylishly adorable and I see why my hubby was raving on about her. And yes, today I had to hear how she speaks Bulgarian, Hebrew and English, cooks like her grandmother, loves to make dolma, and was recently studying to be a molecular biologist all but gave it up to be a rockstar. La la la she's fabulous — over achiever! Best part of the night was just being with my ever wondrous little sister. There's never enough time to hang together anymore, what with her saving the world one step at a time and me tethered to my darling little bean. Just driving around the loin was good fun let alone my impudent attitude toward the guest list mistress, combined with a toxic purple saki "pom pom" and a quick shimmie. Of course sassing what or whomever comes into our crosshairs never ceases to be a good time. Ah, we seem to be able to go there whether we're 25 or 35. It's refreshing. What's not refreshing is the axe chopping headache I woke up with. Damn Scarlett and her cancer sticks, but thanks for sharing.

November 17, 2005

some kind of wisdom

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For the second time I frogged the Art Fibers gypsy yarn project. First I had started the fall shawl project . It was going along fine, but then after one too many nights of shiraz swiggin' mixed with the slippery metal needles and silk yarn, well whoopsie the triangle was a wee bit askew. Apparently I was favoring my mistakes all along one side. C'est ma vie. Next I decided to just wing it and try the roman stripe pattern. You know I have defiantly learned from all this froggin' that I need to commit to making swatches. Yes, yes, I hear the familiar "check your gauge" ringing in my ears. All you seasoned knitters will laugh as you remember when you finally committed too. I thought I'd just jump right in and make a big yummy gyspy silky roman stripe scarf slash shawl thingee. I think I cast on 100 or even 120 stitches [it was 144]. Well when you get into all the yarn overs on certain rows I was knitting 200+ across. Uh ya, that gets über tedious quickly. After three nights of only getting through seven rows, and again a enough mistakes with the slippery yarn, needles and vino, I threw in the towel. Now I've cast on 70 and I think the width will be lovely if I can just get through the endless process of actually knitting it. I've also learned that I really like dreaming up the project, choosing the materials and then admiring the finished product more than the process. I have to practice getting into the meditative mind to appreciate the zen of knitting. And be ok knowing that this project may not be finished until sometime next year. Some kind of wisdom in all this?

November 16, 2005

rayon vert

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I'm starting my own little blog ritual. I've seen some interesting ideas like "self portrait tuesdays" and "artifact mondays" so I'm doing my own version combined with something like the film Smoke's simplicity, yet profound and enduring effect of looking at the same thing everyday — along my way to work. Today is inspired by the pretty Christmas baubles in the window of Rayon Vert. The retail world is ready for Christmas, even if I'm not. Starbucks wants me to really grasp that "It ONLY happens ONCE a year" so certainly I shouldn't deny myself that pricey caloric gingerbread mocha frappuccino sugar gluck while I ponder how to spend my nonexistent Christmas bonus.

By the way, I just looked up "Rayon Vert". It's a novel by Jules Verne. Here's the plot: The heroes seek to see this ray with much patience in trimmings of Scotland (unfavorable to its observation because of the fogs). After many attempts at observation concluding itself by failures caused by the clouds or the sail from a boat, at far, which comes to hide the sun to them, the phenomenon will arise, but each of the two principal characters will be too occupied discovering the love in the eyes of the other to pay attention to the horizon. [yes, I had google translate the page from French] As for scientific fact: The existence of this phenomenon of green ray (gleam of color emerald when the sun disparait just on the sea) is attested by several testimonys, but seems to occur only under conditions of temperature and hygroscopy determined, which returns the observation of the rare phenomenon in practice, and sometimes disputed. The idea contained in the novel according to which it would be possible to envisage where and when to observe the green ray remains however a licence of author. And here I just thought it was a something you see while on drugs.

November 15, 2005

shetland wool

If the sweater fits...oh no, it's true!

You are Shetland Wool.

You are Shetland Wool.
You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side.
Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies.
Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.


What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I took the quiz again...no different than hating being a Pekingese! This time I got Merino wool, but the only part of the description that fits is the you love to be warm and and cozy bit. "You are very easygoing and sweet. People like to keep you close because you are so softhearted. You love to be comfortable and warm from your head to your toes. " Sweet? Softhearted?!!@! Ha. Guess I best accept the Shetland Wool verdict.

November 14, 2005

fresh infusion

Spent the good part of the day searching for inspiration. Sadly I didn't find much 'cause I was poking around the web again. There's so much drivel out there. I'm slowly and painfully realizing that I'm going to need to start making real drawings, sketches, paintings, or objects, something - anything to get away from the computer and this blank screen. Hoping I can survive in my crap job by surfing the web and trying to dream up my next business isn't keeping me from slamming up against the harsh reality of depression. I really need to infuse my life and my art with some fresh air. Some day trips might be a good idea. If anyone actually read this blog I'd pose the question "know any good day trip from the bay area?" hoping for some feedback. But alas I know there's no one listening yet.

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November 11, 2005

worry wart vs stress monster

What if worrying really caused warts? I'd be covered in them. Such a disgusting thought. This morning I'm stressing about having enough house insurance, being prepared for an earthquake (I see the fabulous Italian dishes on the big open shelf in a pile of shards, let alone us starving 'cause we have no food or water stored in the kit they warn you to have!). Then some of the usual stresses like needing a new career, affording private school for two kids, finding/affording a bigger house so the two kids will fit...etc etc. You know the stuff I can't do anything about right now except torture myself by thinking about it over and over IN THE GIANT LOOP TAPE in my mind.

My fabulous little sister is on her way over. I've decided that we are going on a get Max shoes outing. We'll head to the Junior Boot Shop, find a pair that I can get on him and have some lunch. I made both Max and I cry this morning by trying to squeeze his fat baby feet into some shoes that really seem like they should fit. Alma has no trouble getting his feet in there, but I couldn't do it. And poor Max seemed willing to try but my god it was painful and so unsuccessful. I'm dragging these shoes to the store so they can embarrass the crap out of a grown woman as they show me just how simple it is to put his feet in them.

Hours later... For the record Max's feet are a size 6 almost a 6.5 wide and those shoes I tried desperately to cram his feet into are a size 5 narrow, HA! I learned that children's feet grow a size to a size and half every 3-4 months so apparently I'll be heading to the store more than I'd like. Lunch out was a nightmare, but tonight dinner was a breeze.

November 10, 2005

shibor-ing

I made it to the machine knitting class last night without much ado. Teacher Sonya wasn't that into it, though she warmed by the end. I was right to worry about not liking the finished product too much - I'm so picky. The scarf is a felted stockinet with a Japanese tie-dye-like process they call Shibori. We didn't get to this part yet, but you wrap marbles in the scarf and tie off with skinny rubber bands [the size the grocer wraps around green onions] and then agitate it in really hot water until you're happy with the amount of felting. It looks pretty hippie-dippy and the term Shibori doesn't make it any fancier. It's not really my look. I spent a ridiculous amount of time just trying to pick a yarn I like so I'd be happy with the result. Of course each yarn I picked only had a few skeins in stock, so I ended up with about my 5th or 6th choice [this always happens to me]. It's a pumpkin colored wool with a little alpaca in it. It's pretty soft and it should show the technique well. I'm making mine wider and longer than her sample. I always like my knits big and yummy or sheer and wispy. So tonight I learned the bare basics of machine knitting which were setting up the bed and threading. I couldn't troubleshoot to save my life, so I kept going even with all my mistakes. I figure practice is the only way to learn it and I won't get much with just this one class. Teacher was cool enough to change the next two sessions so classmate and I could work around our scheduling conflicts. Next class isn't until tue the 22nd...long wait.

Meanwhile I managed to miss garbage night so we'll have diapers out our ears for another week. I NEVER sleep through the garbage trucks barreling down our tiny echoing alley. Of course when my husband is in NYC and it's all up to me I sleep more soundly than I have in about two years. Go figure. And this am on my walk to BART, 3 - 22 Fillmore buses pass me by and I'm between bus stops each time. There's a stop on every block! the gods just weren't with me today.

November 8, 2005

feeling crafty

Feeling like I need a swift kick in the arse so I'll start doing something crafty. Fortunately I'm taking a machine knitting class tomorrow night. I'm just a little worried that the felted Shibori scarf project won't be my style. I'm simultaneously concerned that I'll instantly become addicted to machine knitting and acquire another machine to add to my storage collection of enlargers, surgers and sewing machines. How I long for my spacious art barn and all the time in the world.

For the class I need to find some scrap yarn that's 5- 5.5 knit per inch, DK worsted weight. Love the internet where I can instantly find out what that means: "Sheep's wool is divided into two categories when referring to the resulting yarn, depending on the length of the fibers and the way they are handled before spinning: "worsted" and "woolen". Worsteds are spun from longer, combed fibers, so the resulting yarn is smooth and firm. Woolens are spun from uncombed wool, and is fuzzier and not as strong (Icelandic Lopi and Shetland yarns)." Only issue is now I have to identify if any of the yarn I own is worsted and then I'll be trying to figure out if 5 -5.5 stitches equals 1 inch with a 7 or 8 needle. I think I may have some double points from a hat project that will work. Wish me luck while I spend the evening swatching.

November 4, 2005

at it again

Can't stop torturing myself with thoughts of a 5, 10, ok really it's a whole life plan. From stressing about having and timing baby no. 2, worrying about out growing our tiny little house to the REALLY big stress of changing careers and making money — I'm a mental wreck. Maybe if I type the same thing everyday I'll get over it? At the same time I feel inspired in the do-it-yourself sense and keep dreaming up sweater designs and imagining myself going back to school or taking an internship so I can learn how to make it a reality. I can see myself having this adorable tiny shop filled with the most delicious high end knits - the coziest shop ever.

November 3, 2005

I finally have a blog

This is so cool I finally have a blog and I can start blah blah blahing again.
Thanks darlink.