Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Knitting With Telephone Poles

I have been a knitting and jewelry-making fiend lately. And, I've been pretty happy with what I've created.

The first thing that I made that I'm proud of is a beehive hat that I made for my boss's daughter. Actually, I'd made the hat before. I found the pattern in the book _Stitch 'n Bitch_ by Debbie Stoller, but that pattern was for adults. I knew that I should be able to make it for children, so I played with what I had, made some educated guesses, et voila! It's the cutest little pink beehive hat! From what I understand, the girl loves it! She wears it all the time! I always love to hear things like that.

Additionally, I knitted a couple of "stoles." They are pretty cool-looking, too. I'm not too sure what would be a practical use for whomever I decide to give them to, but they are warm and cute! I have enough yarn to make a third, but I'm not sure when I will do that. I get emails from a few knitting web sites, and I'm pretty thankful for that, because I've had quite a few new ideas for projects from featured ideas in those emails. I've been pretty happy with the results so far.

Yesterday, in the mail, two size 50 needles arrived. These things make it feel like knitting with telephone poles! But, Lion promised that I could create a throw in a measly six hours if I used this size needle and four strands of Homespun yarn. I love Homespun! It's so soft! And, the throw is looking pretty good so far! I love the fact that I'll be able to make an entire afghan with 34 stitches. It's like making a gigantic scarf. I'm looking forward to the end of that one. It should be a nice piece.

I'm also working on a helmetliner for my father to use on his motorcycle, because he likes to ride year-round when the weather permits (and his definition of this tends to differ with others, including myself). I thought this would be a nice warm additive. Way to encourage him, eh? I'm finding that this is taking longer than the throw mentioned above, because I'm working on 84 stitches, and I've got to first work up six inches of k2, p2 ribbing. I've got about four inches completed.

Now, in case all that doesn't sound like too much (and I didn't even mention the pair of fingerless gloves that I made in white with a nice little lacy edge), I have also been making a lot of jewelry-- six necklaces, two pairs of earrings, and one bracelet over the past weekend. I still have more of those that I want to make. And, there are a few other things. On Saturday, I went to Georgia State's annual Iron Pour and created an iron plaque that I really like. I've been going to the Iron Pour for three years now, and this, I think, was my best one yet! Maybe it's because I planned it ahead of time. I don't know, but I'm certainly pleased with the outcome.

I have been busy lately, to say the least, but it's been good. I've realized that I have more patience than I've had with projects in a long time. Even when the small complicated aspects of the jewelry-making wasn't happening like I wanted it to, I remained calm, and eventually, it all worked out! I guess that's what patience is about!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Poetically Speaking: Sharing the Creative Process

I've recently finished reading _God Is at Eye Level_ by Jan Phillips. While the book was inspiring overall, from both the perspectives of my artistic nature and my spiritual nature, I was really affected by what she had to say in Chapter 15: Through the Lens and Beyond. In this chapter, she talks about the unwritten rule of photography exhibits that it isn't appropriate to include words with photographs. She discovered when working in a framing shop that people asked her questions about her photos, and she would launch into descriptive tales of how she came to take the pictures, what sort of interactions she had with folks, etc. I, myself, thought about sharing my own history of pictures with others and how they recalled for me long stories of relationships. She likened this to the poet and poetry, and the typical mode that poets have of sharing the process of the poems read aloud.

This caused me to think about my own poetry-reading experience. During a time in my life when I was feeling particularly isolated, I was a member of a poetry group that met on a weekly basis and who had regular performances. One of the 'rules' of performing was that description of process was to be kept to a minimum, because--well, I was just going to put some rationale for this here, but I honestly don't know why. I do know that at the time, I felt isolated from my audience time and time again. In looking back, I am intrigued, because we shared process and background when discussing the poems as a group, but that kind of background was frowned upon for performances. There was always a lot of enthusiasm when discussing form, where the ideas came from, etc. I think about my books (see earlier posts from 2007) Panmixia and Resipiscent and how excited I am about where the ideas came about for the pieces that make up those collections. And, I remember how excited members of the group were about the collections, particularly when they knew how intricately thought-out each poem was.

Here it is: I belong to A Word A Day, who sends me a new word every weekday along with its definition, some history and use in a sentence, typically from some published writing. Well, I had hundreds of words that I particularly liked the sound of saved in archive, and I wanted something to do with the words poetry-wise. So, I devised a plan to use the words as the titles of the poems, with their definitions as subtitles. Then, I decided that the poems would be ABCDErian poems, but I didn't want them to all start the same, so each poem starts with the letter that follows the first letter of the title word and ends with the letter that starts the poem's title. In case that wasn't enough, I decided that I would have one poem for each letter of the alphabet, and the first poem of the book would have a title that started with the letter following the first letter of the title of the book, which I also took from one of my archived words, with a definition sub-title on the cover, as well. What I particularly love about these two collections is that they chronicle a healing process at the time. There's no order to that process, as the poems weren't written in a particular order--they were written according to whim, really--I chose a word I liked and wrote a poem in the form. There are a few recurring characters--like the zebra. Honestly, I did this because I didn't want to have to spend a lot of time trying to come up with new and creative ways to experience the "z" in every poem, so I decided that the zebra would be an all-knowing, all-loving and beloved character. I think it works out pretty nicely, and doesn't really feel over-the-top. Some people may disagree about that, but if the zebra is over-the-top, I'm okay with that, too.

Whew! It felt good to share that! Especially since it's about a dual-collection of poetry that I'm proud of! I think art is about sharing and connecting to others. So much about human existence is about connection--Alfred Adler had a lot to say about that--and art and poetry definitely exist to reinforce that. I think about the connections I've made with people through books that I've read, particularly when I've contacted the writers after reading the books, but also in sharing certain books with friends and family--both fiction and non-fiction. That's why artists share their voices. Art is intimate, photography is intimate, poetry is intimate. There's no way to leave oneself out of any media. We are only able to see the world through our own experience, and therefore cannot hide that experience when trying to create art. Even the items I knit are indicative of my own personality, from the patterns I choose (and the changes I make to them) to the colors I choose. Jan Phillips says that looking at a series of pictures that I take can give you a look into me that you wouldn't necessarily find in anything I tell you. That's also true of my poetry. If I'm bitter, my poetry is, too. If I'm happy, angry, sad, etc., it's all there. I love my poetry for the reflection of my experiences that it is. I think about the time that I was feeling isolated, and I suspect that if I looked back at my poetry, I would find a sense of that there, too.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned before how it's taken till relatively recently for me to admit to myself that I'm an artist. I like that fact about me. It allows me to experience the world a little differently than I would otherwise.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Fingerless Gloves

I'm not sure why, but not everyone is as excited about the phenomenon of fingerless gloves as I am. People often as me why I wear them, how they can be considered gloves if they don't cover the fingers, etc.

I wear fingerless gloves mostly at work, although I have worn them to drive also, when it's cold but not so cold that I can't touch my fingers to the steering wheel (although I've been known to do that, too, when I don't have alternatives.) I wear them because they keep my wrists warm and free up my fingers for writing with ease. Additionally, they aren't super obvious (as they really only cover half of the palm of my hands and most of my thumbs), so it's okay to wear them at work.

One of the best things about them is that they are super quick to knit up... and easy, too.

I made my first pair of fingerless gloves (shown above) about four years ago at Christmastime while visiting an "in-law." I used scrap yarn for that pair--pink, blue, and green in stripes--and my plan was to make the stripes in different orders for both gloves so that they are a pair but not exactly alike. I love them. So much so that I decided that I needed another pair (like one with purple in them, since that's my favorite color). My aunt recently gave me some purple-and-green variegated yarn (green being my second-favorite color), so I had exactly what I needed to get to work.

It took me a long time to search out just the right pattern four years ago, and so, while I'm not in the habit of making the same thing twice (and I think this is a lie I tell myself, because I've admitted more than once over the past year that I've done just that... with the same preface), I used the same pattern. One of the things about me and patterns, though, is that I often make changes when going through the second iteration. I have a difficult time staying with the same thing twice. This second pair has certain necessary structural changes based on the comfort of the first pair. These are longer (although, that change was an accident that I was ultimately happy about), and the buttoned edges are sewn together so that the gloves don't open up where/when I don't want them too. The buttoned edges are just decoration, anyway. I intend to sew up the edges of the old pair, too. The fun thing about using variegated yarn is that it takes far less effort to create a pair of gloves that are similar to each other but not exactly the same. There's no need to continually change the yarn to get the desired effect.

I had fun making these gloves this weekend. I have ideas for making other changes in the future. But, I think I'd like to try some of the other patterns I found four years ago, as I saved them as I went along, just in case I didn't find the perfect pattern.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, October 13, 2008


Where I lived before my current home, there was a man who liked to gather furniture and other odds and ends from people's garbage and store them behind the back door of his neighbor's apartment. (I often wondered if they had some kind of agreement about his, because his doorway was always unblocked, and I wondered what she'd do in case of emergency.) It was common knowledge in the complex that anyone could take what they wanted from that spot, as he had offered many of his treasures to others on many occasions. At one point in his collections, he found this little blue table, which I initially thought was not very attractive but could be with some changes. Pictured here, I had already begun to sand the piece, because I had forgotten to take my before-shots before starting. The top of the piece was what I most disliked about it, since it appeared that someone attempted to paint something else on top of it. In order to cover it, I decided that a piece of cloth I had acquired in Bali would do the trick, and so it sat, hidden in my tiny apartment till I had enough room to change it into something else.

Sanding and staining furniture was never something I had decided I'd want to do. I could never see why it would be of interest to me, but I learned something during this project--I like the smell of wood! This realization makes me a little nervous, as I saw several pieces of furniture at Michael's when I was there that would be cute after a little paint- or stain- job. I may just have found a new hobby to add to my incredibly long list!

I guess I want to say now that I didn't read any instructions on how to do this. I'm sure that I did a lot of things in a way that could have been quicker--like using sandpaper rather than one of those electric things--but I really didn't want to have spend a lot of money, especially if it was a one-time gig. There are probably other things I could have done to make this "better," but I figure, if I don't like it, eventually, I can try again (or, I can simply paint over what I did!) I did, however, try to do things that seemed logical, like stain in the direction of the grain. The instructions on sanding said to do as much, and I did that, so I figured that the staining part would work the same way. I think about how it may have looked if I'd tried doing it differently, and I can't imagine that the lines I imagine would have looked so great.

I can't say for sure how long the actual sanding took, because I didn't do it daily, as I was in the midst of other projects simultaneously, but the staining part happened on this past Saturday in the wee hours of morning. I did the first coat, which was extremely light--I figured I'd need to do at least two or three more coats after that one in order to make it even remotely dark--at about one a.m. and attempted to fall asleep till the 4-6 hours passed for the next coat. At about five I got up from not sleeping to do the second coat which was surprisingly much darker than the first. Weird. I decided to stick with two for the time being, mostly because I wanted to move on to other things, and partly because I think it looks pretty okay (if you don't stare at it for too long!) I like it. And, I'm proud of myself for doing it all by myself!

I'm sure that, in time, I will become much better at it. Something I learned when I ended the project was that I kinda like the toxic stain smell too. Maybe because it was a reminder that I was able to turn a piece of furniture from something that I really didn't like at all into something I can tolerate. And, I had fun while doing it! I guess that's really the most important part! I enjoyed every part of it. Even the parts where the cats decided to "help" me!

Imagine what will happen when I create something I'm really proud of! Then, my family and friends will have to be careful on holidays!

And, if anyone has tips on refurnishing or can direct me to some good books on the subject, I'd be much obliged!

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Puzzling Pieces

A while back, I told the story of making a bookmark. For sealing the envelope that would mail this bookmark to its destination, I made a puzzle piece sticker. This is not an update on that, but a new experience with puzzle pieces.

An aunt of mine has an affinity for puzzle pieces, something that is recorded in her email address. When I saw the metal puzzle pieces in the craft store, I knew that I had to make her a necklace with matching earrings with what I found (and, of course, she loved them.)

I've started a new avenue of making jewelry. Before the projects that included this set for her, I had been only stringing beads, as I've shown in previous projects, including the set that I made for my mother for my cousin's wedding (that ended up including necklace, earrings, and bracelet). One night, while looking at the pieces that a coworker had made, I decided to try using chains in making necklaces. I had made a couple of pairs of earrings and a chain for my cell phone, so it wasn't too far out of the realm of possibility, but I'd never tried it for necklaces. That same night, my coworker gave me several stones to make jewelry with, because I had helped her to work out a piece that she was making for someone else.

I had purchased two chains that were all ready to be necklaces--they were just waiting for my creativity to determine what they would be. So, I made two necklaces using the pre-cut chains. I also had some chain that I'd bought to start from scratch, so to speak, and made a couple of necklaces that way. In total, I made five necklaces while watching two James Stewart films one Friday night. Two of the necklaces contained the stones that my coworker gave me, one necklace was the one for my aunt pictured above, the fourth was a locket I made for a friend of mine, and the fifth was one with a plaque containing a floral design. Additionally, I made the earrings pictured above and earrings that matched the other pieces.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I'm looking for quick projects these days. I find myself amazed at how quickly I can make jewelry to be ready to wear. It's always stuff that looks good and merits compliments. I find that they make great gifts, too, and it's fun to buy the stones and such for pieces that are tailor-made for a specific person! I enjoy working with a specific person in mind, imagining how the person will react upon receiving the piece that I put together lovingly. For me, that's part of the fun. Of course, I tend to keep more than I give away, but I do enjoy giving, too. It's coming upon the time of year when coming up with ideas for Christmas presents is upon me. And, since I'm flying up North this year, rather than driving, I'm going to have to keep things on the small side....

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More Afghans

In this year of knitting afghans, I've slowed down a bit. Well, truth be told, I've come to a screeching halt! (Did you hear it?) I won't be reaching my goal of knitting afghans for most of the people on my Christmas list. I'd better think of a new plan. I have a good excuse, though. I moved at the end of July which took up a LOT of time and continues to do so, and I wrote some poetry, as I mentioned earlier, and I've been doing some other mental health-oriented stuff. Oh, yeah, and there's the jewelry, which I can write more about later.

I have knitted two afghans recently, as my step-sister is about to have a daughter, and a friend of mine just had a baby boy. So, I've made two teeny-tiny afghans. The neat thing about these is that they can be finished within a few days! The one for my step-sister is a hooded blanket in pink, and the other has a chevron pattern in a variegated blue. I've made both before, but I like them both, so I was interested in doing them again. I'm not sure why I'm so attached to the idea of a hooded blanket, but alas, I am! I'm not ever sure how useful they are, but I just like them!

I'm wanting projects these days that are quick. I can't help it. I find that with having to decorate a new home in the midst of work and other endeavors, both fun and not-so-fun, I want my projects to be quick and dirty, as they say. Although, I'm itching to make another big afghan. I'm not sure what pattern I want to do this time. I feel behind in my work (and I just this moment remembered that I still haven't finished afghan #3--oops! Maybe I need to get cracking on that one!)

More later.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Poetically Speaking: Revisiting Voice(s), and Form

I took a bit of a hiatus from poetry-writing. I think I needed it. There was too much other "stuff" going around. This past week, I found myself again interested in listening to language and finding the words for poetry, especially since there's a voice I've been listening to who has interesting sentence structure, and especially since I've been listening to a lot of multilingual music these days, including Paul Piche, a French-Canadian singer introduced to me by my first love many years ago. That's not to say that I hadn't been listening to language before, and in fact, last month, I wrote a series of birthday poems and some others. I haven't been completely out of the loop, but I haven't felt the urgency that I used to feel, because others were expecting me to write. This week, there hasn't been urgency, just desire. Desire to write poetry. Desire to see what's hiding, what's lurking. Desire to see what that language I've been listening to has been doing to me.

For me, it's fun to write and to see where my process is. There's not as much bitterness in my voice these days, and I'm happy to see that. I don't think I'd have known that the bitterness is all but gone if it wasn't for my desire to write poetry this week. Yippee for me!

What is there lately is "voices." Maybe that comes from the impact that the book _The Day the Voices Stopped_ by Ken Steele and Claire Berman had on me last week. Maybe it's that I encounter so many people who hear voices that are not their own that I'm feeling connected to "voices" in my poetry. I also find that they want to be expressed in different ways than they had been before. They're manifesting themselves differently than they used to. And, the "I" in my poems feels important again. The "I" in my poems wants to be noticed, even if that "I" isn't "me." For a long time, "I" wasn't important, but now there's a difference. Maybe that's a part of my voice change. I have found my voice, when I didn't think I had one for several years. This process of rediscovering my voice is coming through in my poetry. While I write, I find that I'm no longer comfortable with things that I used to be comfortable with, and I'm comfortable with things that used to be uncomfortable.

Also related to recognizing that I have a voice and "I" wanting to be heard, I'm finding that my desire to write longer poems is greater. One of the discussions that I had frequently with other poets who I met with regularly for five years was related to the fact that my poems were always so "short"--almost always less than a page in length. During that time, it was difficult for me to have more than a page-worth to write. It was always a challenge for me to try to "stretch" past that length, and I can remember hearing surprise and praise every time I wrote more than a page! This week, my poetry has been longer, and it hasn't taken "effort" to get it there. I wrote that it's a desire to write longer poems. I'm not sure it's about desire, but about feeling like I have something to say, and the 'right' to say it.

I wonder if others have had similar struggles with voice in poetry. I hadn't really thought about it in this way--that my physical voice, or emotional voice, would affect, extend to, my poetic voice. That voice has changed and is in change as I change. I guess that's almost fundamental-sounding, but sometimes, I take for granted certain aspects of poetry and my own writing of it, as I would be willing to bet others do.

This is something that deserves more of my thought, but I'm going to rest on it right now.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Bookmarks & Stickers

I recently needed to send a thank you to someone. I wanted to include a small token of my appreciation with the card, but I'm in the middle of a move, currently, so I don't have an abundance of time to make things right now. In a conversation with this person about my knitting, and my trepidation about knitting things for men, because there are only so many scarves, hats, gloves you can make for one person before it gets redundant and unimaginative. And, I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of doing the same thing over and over again--I like to try out new things. Well, this person told me that if I made him a doily, he would appreciate it, because I made it, even if he didn't have much use for one.

So, I decided to make him a doily.

No, actually, I wouldn't make anyone a doily. (With my experience with "never" statements, stay tuned for my blog entry on doilies, as I'm sure there will be one....)

I decided to make him a bookmark. I figured it would be small, therefore easy to knit up and easily placed in an envelope, and probably more useful than a doily (except, to be honest, I have no idea if he reads with any regularity). I have an "encyclopedia" of knitting and crochet stitches (because I am determined to enjoy crochet almost as much as I do knitting), which I bought a couple of years ago when a friend and I decided to make a friendship scarf with each other over the course of a year--I'll have to take pics sometime.

It was a cool experience. But, I digress. I decided I would look in this book for a pattern I liked and do one iteration of the pattern. I initially chose a pattern that would need 19 stitches (because I have this problem--I have a difficult time creating smaller pieces without having a border--as proved in my friendship scarf), and that was just too wide. I decided a smaller pattern would do and chose one that required seven stitches plus two for the border on either side for a total of 11 stitches. It was perfect! And, I knitted it up in three hours (although it was difficult on size one needles, let me tell you!) The final piece looks great, and I wish I'd taken a picture, but I'm pretty distracted by moving, so I sort of forgot (and don't know where my camera is, actually--it's in the new place, but where in the new place is a mystery). Now, I have a great idea for small presents for people, especially for those who I know are readers. I have a whole book of patterns to choose from! What an easy task! Wee-hoo!

The story doesn't end there, though.

I had to mail this with a thank-you card. Of course, when I placed the bookmark in the envelope, I found that the seal didn't seem too strong, and I feared that the envelope would open and the bookmark would tumble out, so I needed to tape it shut. Well, remember that I'm moving, and I was in a living space where everything is in boxes, so I didn't know where to find any tape. Well, I say everything is in boxes. My craft and art supplies are mostly not in boxes--never were, in fact--and I could easily locate my sticker-making device. Of course, I also needed something to make a sticker out of. I looked through a box of book-making sundries, and found cut-outs I had saved from previous books. I saved these just in case I felt I could use them in later projects. As it turns out, the green puzzle piece had a new job! I quickly turned it into a sticker and sealed the back of my envelope! Voila! I haven't actually made any books since last November, and I've never used the sticker-making device since getting it for Christmas, so it was doubly fun to be able to use my new toy to solve a problem!

Now, I'm looking forward to other uses for my sticker-making device! Wait till my craft room is complete! Wee-hoo!

Thanks for reading.


Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

This is something new from me--a review of a book I read.

I just finished reading Water for Elephants, which I had heard good things about--nothing specific, but good things, nonetheless--by several people--"This is a great book! Have you read it?" So, I really didn't know what to expect when I opened the book to page one and started reading.

Oh my goodness! I loved the story instantly. It didn't hurt that the main character has the same last name as one of my cats' former last name (I decided that Boudrage suited her better than Jankowski, although I still like the sound of the latter).

This book is not only well-written--the characters, even the animals, come to life in striking contrast to each other. I couldn't help but love Jacob and sympathize with Marlena regarding her abusive relationship with her husband. I will say that I have a difficult time, as a counselor experienced in meeting individuals with schizophrenia, paranoid type, to swallow that this character's violence and temper tantrums had anything whatsoever to do with schizophrenia. If you've read my earlier entry, you will know how I feel about people's lack of understanding of this particular mental illness (even though it can't really be blamed...). This doesn't detract from how much I loved Rosie and Bobo and the horses, just as much as Jacob and Marlena did--especially Rosie. And, it certainly doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the story overall.

For a long time while reading, I was sure that Jacob saw Marlena kill her abusive husband, and I thought, "Well, he deserved it!" The real culprit was surprising and just as suited to the task! It was fabulous! I laughed incredibly hard in the last chapters when Gruen described, through Jacob's clear memory, what happened after the Big Top collapsed. It's one of those stories where all the bad guys get what's coming to them, and most of the good guys get what they want (sorry, to spoil it), but even so, it's a great book. There were times when I was outraged, too, don't get me wrong. I love a book that causes me to laugh, cry, shout, etc. It means it's a good story. Unfortunately, I don't always get to read a well-written good story, and this one was that.

I love how the story weaves back and forth between Jacob at 93 and Jacob in his early 20's, and how the reader knows where the next chapter will be, based on whether there's a circus picture at the start of the chapter or not. Very clever way to let us know just what time we're in. No surprises, there. There are enough of the other surprises without having this unnecessary one.

I strongly recommend this book to fiction readers. I would never have imagined that I would enjoy a novel set in a circus, per se, but I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this one. It's a love story, but it's more than that, so much more. I was moved far more than I ever imagined.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Another Afghan!

Okay, so this afghan-knitting exercise is more time-consuming than I had initially thought it would be. This is only the second one I've finished since starting this project in January. The good news is that I'm almost finished with the third one, which was the second one I started!

Actually, I LOVE this pattern! Once I got the hang of it, I thought it looked really cool. This afghan was made for my cousin's wedding present. I can't wait till she gets it, because I think she'll love it! I wanted to have an orange in it, instead of the purple, but I couldn't find yarn that I liked, and since purple is my favorite color, I decided to go with the purple after all.

One of the things I love about knitting is that there isn't much too it. This pattern looks pretty complicated (I think), but it's really not. It's about using knit-stitches and slip stitches. That's it. Pretty simple. The entire project was supposed to take me ten hours, but it definitely took longer than that.... I thought I was a pretty fast knitter, but maybe not so much! lol Maybe it has to do with the fact that I don't really have ten hours a week to dedicate to any craft, let along completing an afghan. In doing this particular pattern, I decided to add an extra stripe, so that the afghan begins and ends in green. For some reason, I thought this would be a good idea. And, ultimately, I really like it and am glad I did it.

I've thought about doing another afghan of this pattern this year, but I think I'll not do that, as this year is about trying various different patterns for afghans. Maybe next year, I can make one like this for someone who isn't family, because there are plenty of patterns out there, just so I don't have to make the same pattern for multiple family members, who will conceivably visit each other and see the same afghan! Too much thought needs to go into this....

Soon, hopefully, I'll be finishing up the third afghan. There are several other patterns that I want to try out, so I can start in on those patterns when I'm through.

...although, I'm moving soon, and I have some knitting ideas for decorating my new home, especially since it's my first very own piece of American soil!

If anyone has any neat patterns for cool afghans or throws, please let me know. If anyone is interested in this pattern, please drop me a line. I'm happy to share!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, June 30, 2008


It's been a long while since I posted poetry up here. To be honest, I haven't been writing so much lately. Today, though, I've been on a roll! I wrote some birthday-related poems and some others posted here.

I went to a blog that belongs to a Facebook friend and offers prompts for poetry. To be honest, this is the first time I actually visited the site to respond to a writing prompt--no time, really. This prompt was to write a shadorma, a six line poem with the following syllable structure--3/5/3/3/7/5.

Here are my first attempts at this form:

seeking something precious

in-law school
straight as a narrow
whole word stops.
life sitting,
turning rain into sake
is this linear?

i sell insurance to amusement parks

hair in silhouette
a pigment
in my imagination
i am made at you

what. . . is the opposite of serendipitous

grapefruit girl:
<< i’m older than i
used to be >>
<< the only link to a leaf—
a root-able time >>

using verbs and pronouns and salad forks

sacre bleu!
her classes are not
strong enough
as theory
everyone is the other
always already

This was fun! I'm thinking of writing some more and making a new book... maybe after I move in a few weeks. I've been searching for whatever packing procrastinations I can find, so I'd better start getting focused! Feel free to write some and share! If you're interested in reading some responses to his prompt, please visit his blog at: http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides/Wednesday+Poetry+Prompts+008.aspx. I'm sure he'd appreciate the hits!

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weddings and Jewelry (cont)

My mother and I spoke last week, and she told me that she loves the jewelry I made her. She said she wears it all the time. Then, she asked if I would make her a matching bracelet. It's funny that the design came to me as I was making it, and she liked it so much, she wants a more complete set! It's also funny that I had hoped she'd like it enough to wear it to my cousin's wedding, and she says that she wears it all the time.

One of my friends was nearby when I was making the necklace, and she later shared that she found it interesting that while I was making it, I said to myself, "This doesn't look right. I need to change it somehow. I don't think the black will work here after all." Then, I changed a few beads around and said, "Here! This looks good!" and finished the other side. She said, "You didn't ask me if it looked good. You already knew."

For several years, I didn't make any jewelry, and I didn't knit. I learned how to knit when I was thirteen and working at a hotel in New Hampshire. I learned how to make jewelry when a friend of mine was interested in it when I was living in Guam and shortly thereafter. For several years, I focused only on writing poetry. During that time, I felt like something was missing. I began knitting again. Then, I started making jewelry again. Then, I learned how to make books. I feel more well-rounded in my creative endeavors. Engaging in only one seems stilting for me. Having more than one creative outlet provides me with the variety that I need. During the time that I was writing only poetry, I spent time with mostly poets. There was a connection there. There's variety in my social experiences now, as well as my creative outlets, and I feel more whole as a result.

I have finished two of my afghans now, and I'll include pictures of the second in an upcoming post. I have the third (the second-begun) to finish now, but there's not much left to it, so I'm hoping to have it finished soon.

Thanks for reading!


Monday, May 26, 2008

Weddings and Jewelry

This past weekend, I attended my cousin's wedding in Massachusetts (so confusing, because she lives in Augusta, GA, most of our family lives in Rhode Island, and the wedding was in Massachusetts not too far from Gillette Stadium, unfortunately for the car I was in). It was a beautiful event! She was a beautiful, happy bride, and everyone feels lucky to be adding to their respective families. This is such a great thing, because I've been to weddings where this hasn't been the case. Her now-husband was holding back tears while reciting his vows. I'm choked up right now as I think about it. It was a beautiful day, and we had a lot of fun! Including my 82-year-old grandfather who danced the fast songs with my youngest cousin and some of her friends. According to my aunt, he said, "All these girls were asking me to dance! I don't know why!"

For this occasion, I decided to make some jewelry, particularly for my mother since her birthday was last week. Included here are some pics of the necklace and earrings set that I hoped that my mother would wear to the wedding. She did. I'm pretty proud of this set. To me, it looked as good as much of the jewelry I saw others wearing. I think it was the most elegant-looking set that I've made thus far. And, she loved it! The set looked beautiful on her, with her dress.

I will be honest here. When I made this set, I didn't have a plan in mind. Often, when I'm making jewelry, I use the jewelry board so that I can get an idea of what the piece looks like before I make it. Since I made this one in a place away from home, I didn't have all the equipment I usually have, so I built the piece as I went along, judging that the center was right... about... HERE. Then, I reversed what I'd done on the other side to create a balanced piece.

I've been reading a book about facilitating adventure-based counseling for a class I'm taking next week. In it, there was a reference to those group members who tend to be quiet most of the time but who may offer insight when it comes to visualizing an end result. I think that's what I experienced in this project (and for the necklace-and-earrings set I made for myself for the wedding). I was able to see in my mind a rough picture of what the final product would be like. Likewise, I was able to determine the center of the piece without measuring. I can work similarly with my knitting. For instance, I make changes with patterns in advance of a project with an idea of what the end-product will be like with the changes. So, sometimes, I ad lib for a project as I go along, and at other times, I make changes to a pattern before I start. More often than not, I like the final product.

There were certain decisions I made with my mother's necklace that I made for reasons of space (and the idea that there were some parts of the necklace that wouldn't be noticed, because they'd be on the back of her neck). While I was at the wedding, I saw a lot of interesting jewelry, and my eyes were open to seeing the different beads and stones and styles that people were wearing. I found while looking that people were wearing pieces that mixed beads that I had sort of apologetically mixed for my mother's piece without any apology but with purpose. It led me to want to try to recreate some of these other pieces with intention.

I like how things work out that way sometimes. Something that I was embarrassed about doing (and not because it "looked" bad on the necklace) was the same something that was intentionally done for other pieces. I do want to see how I could play around with the same theme and make my own pieces in a likeness to the ones I saw!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Afghans-- A Knitting Project 2008

For 2008, I decided in January that I would make as many afghans as I could to give away as presents. When one considers working full time and going to school full time and whatever other experiences life has to offer, this can be a pretty daunting task! In fact, I've finished only one afghan so far-- in three months! Now, I'm in the middle of two others. And, by "in the middle" I mean I'm almost finished one and little more than 1/4 of the way through the second.

I'd like to talk a little about the first one, and I'll talk about the others as I finish them. Before this, I've only knitted one adult afghan (I've knitted multiple baby afghans, because they can be finished in about an afternoon sometimes.) This one afghan was one I made as a Christmas present for my ex's mother. I remember it to be beautiful when I finished, and I remember how much she loved it. The pattern is completed in the round, so I start off with 8 stitches in the center of the piece and ended with nearly 1000 stitches on the exterior edge! Very cool design, as the afghan itself appears to be square, but it's rounded, too. I love it. And, it's mine. The rest I do for this year will be for presents for others.

The interesting part of knitting (and any craft I do) is what happens emotionally for me, especially when I'm making something for someone else, because I usually have the reason for the knitting in mind throughout the entire project. During this project, I thought that I would think about the last time I used this pattern (I don't tend to do the same project more than once--usually--unless it's something I really like and really want to do again). In some ways, I expected this experience to one of emotional growth, as I was in a difficult situation during the first knitting of this pattern. In some ways, I think I was looking for catharsis in this pattern. Remember, it took me three months to complete this project, doing a little on it almost every day. It occurred to me that I don't remember anything about knitting the first one. This is a relatively large project, and I don't remember any of it from the first time. This time around, there are certain images that will remind me of the knitting of the afghan; when I look at or sit under this warm blanket, I will reflect back on where I was, what the cats were doing, etc., while I was working on it. But, I have no such memories of the first time I worked this project. In some ways, I'm glad that I did this one a second time simply so I could have the memories that I seem to be missing from the first time. I have a pic of the first afghan, included here, as proof that there was a first iteration of this project, but even in looking at a photo of it, I can remember THAT I did it, but I don't remember the actual doing. Maybe there's some catharsis in that.

Just a note that the cats playing by the afghan in this last pic are mine. Cosette is the tabby mix who is on the ladder--she's more than two years older now, so quite a bit bigger! Novalis is the Persian/Siamese mix at the foot of the ladder.

The two projects that I'm working on currently are for two upcoming events. One of my friends is turning 40 this year, and I'm making her an afghan in blue and brown blocks to help her celebrate the event. The other one is an afghan for my cousin who is getting married this weekend. The plan is for it to match with her new condo. I'm not sure if I've accomplished that goal, but we'll see when it's in her home! I'll give updates when I've finished those. I'm intending to make another for a friend's June birthday when another friend is turning 50. I'm not yet sure which new pattern I'm going to try, but I've got lots of interesting ones to choose from. There are a couple of patterns I'm interested in trying out, but one is going to be for an aunt of mine, and another may be for my mother. We'll see. My friend has given me specific colors to use, so I'm looking for a pattern that will work with the color scheme she's chosen. If anyone has any suggestions for cool knitting patterns for afghans, I welcome the input. Also, if anyone is interested in patterns for afghans I make during this year, I'm happy to share!

Thanks for reading.


Monday, March 3, 2008

On Art (and Poetry): Women & the Voice of Innocence

On Saturday, March 1, I took advantage of the current show at the High. I was very pleased with my experience.

I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot of the history of the Stieglitz Circle, because although I've visited O'Keeffe's art when I was in New Mexico several years back, I did not become too versed in her background, except that I remembered her saying in a video at the museum, "I don't know why people say there are all these sexual references in my art. I didn't put it there." One of my favorite paintings of hers is one of the desert paintings with a view of the moon through a cow bone. Initially, I thought, "Wow! How symbolic to be looking up at the moon through the eye socket of this dead animal!" Then, I read the title--something about a pelvis! Definitely nothing sexual about a view of the moon through a pelvis! That doesn't even get to the sensuality and sexuality that's present in her paintings of flowers.

One of the things I read in the show at the High is that Stieglitz saw women as "pure, innocent, and childlike," and he chose to promote the women he did for these supposed qualities in their work. I was particularly taken by the photographs of Anne Brigman, where nude women posed in ways that imitated nature. For me, these "natural" poses were far more sensual than they were "pure" or "innocent" or "childlike." I guess I'd have to admit that I'm insulted by Stieglitz's demeaning notions about women and wanting to showcase their work under such an umbrella. I'm trying to keep my feminist sensibilities aside, but I'm having a difficult time with it, especially since these women seemed to help him perpetuate these ideas, and enjoyed the roles of innocence that he cast them in. Taking the time period into consideration, I shouldn't be as jolted by this expression of feminine artistry.

Then again, artist Ana Mendieta (albeit a contemporary artist), whose work was a part of the TRANSactions show of Latin American work on the same floor of the museum used the female figure--her own--in the sand on the beach, then took successive pictures of the water dissolving the imprint of her body in the sand. Her work was described as combining "body art, performance art,...multiculturalism, and feminism" among some other important aspects. The work is sensual and powerful, just as the other work is, but not hidden under a cloak of woman as the voice of innocence and purity. Dare I say that her work is political? How could it not be? It seems to me that Anne Brigman's photography could be perceived as political if not for the tags by her work that fill viewers in on what was happening. I think that I would have been happier to enjoy the art without the commentary that accompanied it.

Looking at my own poetry, I'd be hard pressed to find innocence in there. Comments have been made about the childlike qualities of specific poems, but even in my poems where there are childlike qualities (which I feel I can't ignore due to my own imagination, and my history of working with children, and my own love of sounds and playing with them), innocence and purity, in terms that I'm assuming belong to Stieglitz based on the work that I saw at the High, cannot be seen. As a woman, and as an artist, I know that women have a lot to say, and we have more to say than that which is portrayed in the figure of woman in her "ultimate" role of mother. We have more to share than silly, childlike notions as seems to be Stieglitz's idea of what women have to present to the world.