Category : art=craft

It’s a sort of sickness, really

Or at least a malady of some kind. It’s the alternate OCD: Obsessive Constructive Disorder.

One manifestation is the inability to discard any item without it having gone through every possible phase of Usefulness.

For instance; blue jeans. We (the OH & I) have several pairs, and we wear them for work, leisure and walking or cycling about town. (Jeans are an especially good example because they’ve often come from Value Village having been Useful even before coming into our possession.) When they get holes in the bum from biking in them, I patch them. If they (ahem) shrink a little (in the wash – having nothing to do with a winter of comfort food or the gradual expansion of my hips), I have been known to insert a panel of ribbon in the sides or back to make them broader. In short, I don’t give up on them easily.

But eventually the patches develop their own holes, or the OH decides that the mid-90’s “work” pairs are finally just too baggy and shaggy and raggedy looking, or they just become indecent to wear in some way.

So finally, you’re saying to yourself, I must get rid of them. Maybe use the calves for rags if they aren’t in absolute shreds, but the bulk goes into the trash at this point, right?

But no. You would, sadly, be mistaken.

Because this, ladies and germs, is what I do with them at this point.
First, I cut off their legs
and tear them into strips. Strips
(This is very dusty work – I understand why people sewing in factories MUST wear dust masks).

Then with a little bit of this Zigzag
and some braiding and coiling, they will become this:

I will admit it; I really like braided rugs. And I like that I can make one without having to go out and buy fabric, with stuff that most people would just toss in the garbage. In fact, it makes so much sense to me now that I feel bad about every pair of worn-out, holey, scruffy pants I’ve ever thrown away. What a waste… I didn’t mention that this rug will include some khaki, too. And I’ve also got a bunch of strips of wool (leftovers from sewing projects mostly) that are waiting to be another rug.

Oh, and I’ll likely be removing the zippers from those jeans because surely they’ll be Useful for … something.

So, yeah, I’ve definitely got a full-blown case of the alternate OCD.

But don’t worry, I don’t think it’s contagious.

An Object Lesson in Using the Right Materials for the Job

So, yesterday. Yesterday I spent the entire morning making more of my Year of the Ox prints since I ended up not having enough after submitting 3 to the PROOF print show/exchange.
I made 8 prints – I figured 8 should be enough to get me 3 or 4 good ones, given that each print involves 3 impressions to screw up.
Ladies and germs, how many good prints do you think I got? 3? 4? 8? 2?
Sadly, there was not one good print in the whole mess. After completing them and picking 3 that I thought would do, I looked at the original print run.
Dudes, the leftovers were better than yesterday’s run. Sad, so very very sad.
So here’s where I went wrong:
#1- I have a crappy baren. I bought the only one I could find and afford and it’s just crappy. That said, I think I did OK with it and it was likely the least of my problems.
#2 – My brushes for blending the colours on the block are also crappy. You’re supposed to use these, but I just used shortened stencil brushes for (again) reasons of finance and convenience. I managed OK on some, but mostly not.
#3 – I didn’t get the paint mixes right. As a result, my green is more of a dirty yellow (I think I also used the wrong yellow to start with – I couldn’t remember which one Elisabeth used in the workshop), and the colours are not nearly as delicate as in the first run (though I think this is also affected by #1, #2, and #4). (And looking at the photo now I actually like the richer background…)
#4 – Wrong paper. I think this was the biggest problem. I foolishly not only did not bring a print with me to get the paper, I didn’t even look at one for several weeks before going to get the paper. The paper was too thin and too absorbent either because of the finish or the density. Not sure. Anyhoo, this meant the colours all bled shamefully, and the prints have no nice crisp lines, only mucky, splotchy areas.
#5 – I was doing it because I felt like I had to, not because I was really excited about it. While I still enjoyed doing it, and had been looking forward to it, it wasn’t as thrilling as when I was first learning and had years of pent-up wanting-to-do-it-ness. So I may have been a little less attentive to details.

I had a few castoffs from the first run that I decided are good enough after all, but I still need to use one of the new ones so I picked the least offensive and will send it to someone who likely won’t be bothered by it’s shortcomings.

So yeah. That was my yesterday morning.

P.S. My apologies for the two weeks of radio silence. I have been working on a top secret mission and was only allowed to communicate with the outside world over matters of life and death.
Well, no. I’ve just been spending eight hours a day working on the UTW site update and have needed to avoid the computer on evenings and weekends. The good news is it’s nearly done so I should have a brain again and more thrilling news to report.

It can’t be cabin fever yet…

The greyness? The un-brightness? The lack of sunlight?
Getting to me.
I don’t mind the cold (not much, anyway), and the snow is nice because it makes things quieter in the city (while it’s fresh, at least), but the dim, cloudy days? There’s really no plus side.

It’s days like this that even the thought of a nice cozy chunky baby alpaca sweater doesn’t lift my spirits but only reminds me that there are several more months (including the two coldest) yet to come before we’re back into serious daylight.


Anyhoo. I did finish the simple shawl: Shhawl and gave it to its intended recipient.
And that was finally the last of the holiday knitting. Now the knitting is mine, ALL MINE! Mwa ha ha ha ha… Well, except for the Toasty Alpaca socks for the OH (which are practically done except for grafting the toe on the second one – pictures will come later). But then it’s on to the sweaters, socks for myself, and scattered throughout some socks and other small things for various birthdays and such.

In other news… I sent off three of the Year of the Ox prints to PROOF Studio Gallery; one of them will go in the show for sale, and I believe the other two will be traded with other printmakers. The opening is January 25th – which will likely be the coldest day of the year. I think I’ll wear a dress, just to be contrary.

Maybe I should knit some tights…

Oh yeah…

Happy New Year!
Yes, that’s today.
No, I didn’t forget (entirely), I just got distracted by yarn. Worse than shiny things, I swear.

2008. Let’s see. Well, it kinda sucked, actually. The first six months were incredibly stressful in all the significant ways that stress occurs; physically, emotionally, financially. Then during the three months spent trying to recover from the first six, there was a death in the family, a cat surgery, and two trips by air. And this was all before everyone noticed the economy taking a nosedive.

But since late October things have definitely been improving on a personal level, plus of course the promise of a decent political scene down south (we’ll just reserve judgment on the situation here in Canada for a few more weeks…) has helped. However, I’m not one to assume the future will turn out the way I think.

So, New Year’s Resolutions? Not exactly.
How about some New Year’s Goals, will Goals do? I think Goals will do.

kapowchampers 1- Keep up with the running and yoga. I’ve been doing pretty well for the last few months, and feeling pretty good for it, so I think this won’t be too hard. Now, I’m not talking every single day, but 3-5 seems reasonable. I’ve got all the equipment I need, and I figure that if I can drag my sorry behind out of bed at 7am in mid-December (that’s about 1/2 hour before sunrise) that I can surely do it the rest of the year.

2- Learn more book arts, whether printmaking, letterpress, bookbinding or paper-making, and practice what I already know.

3- Maintain my recently regained enthusiasm and energy for my “day job”, Under The Weather. Lift the business from the last year of doldrums by spiffing up the product line, rejuvenating the website, and being more creative with marketing.

4- Knit more socks. The more I wear hand knit socks, the more I prefer them. And let’s face it; to get a yarn fix and finished object with one skein and one week (or less)? Sweet.

5- Enter into a major new creative project by Thanksgiving. I’ve got a couple of rough ideas, but I think time will show the right direction.

I’ll probably think of some other things, but five seems like a good number to go with on the official list.

Here’s wishing everyone peace, health and happiness in 2009.

Oh Happy Day!

Have I mentioned lately what a lucky girl I am?

You see, while The Other Half may be easily distracted, and not prone to bringing flowers quite as often as the romantic in me might like, he is indeed very thoughtful and whenever I get a gift I can tell he’s been Listening. (And honestly, the romantic in me is the sort that is as pleased by a clean kitchen as a bouquet of flowers. Well, more or less…)

So while my Christmas gift may have been delivered a little on the post side of the actual day, it was wrapped and labeled with love, and cleverly placed beneath the Holiday Yucca in secret, to be discovered only when the cat started sniffing at it.

And upon opening said package, what to my wondrous eyes should appear but 4 skeins of oh-so-nommable Misti Baby Alpaca Hand Paint Chunky in MauvelousMauvelous
and one in a rich, chocolatey brown (SFN33 for those who must have numbers)410.jpg.



So very, VERY soft and squishy.
Such sensual delight really ought to be reserved for private moments, but I just have to share.
Because I just feel so very lucky right now.

I think I may make this. I’ll shorten the arms, partly because I won’t have enough for the full length, but mostly because I do so much with my hands that I’m constantly pushing up my sleeves and have acquired a taste for shorter ones. (Plus it’s a good excuse to knit more fingerless gloves when full coverage is required. See, I’m merely thinking ahead!)

I do already have a 3/4 sleeve cardigan on needles, that I’m pretty keen on, but I’m not sure I’m physically (or psychologically) capable of having fewer than three WIPs at any one time. And socks hardly count. So I just might have to make a foray out for the correct needles (being sadly bereft of needles in the larger, chunky-loving sizes) and dive in.

Sounds like a good New Year’s Eve activity.

Party on.

No turtle, just neck.

So I whipped this up over the weekend:
And before you even think it; no, it’s not a dickey. Banish the thought. I haven’t owned a dickey since I was about 7 (at which age one can really not be held responsible for one’s sartorial decisions), and didn’t even like the idea then.


I do have neck issues. It seems that the cervical vertebrae only put up with a certain amount of sewing, computing, printmaking, knitting and other seated-eyes-forward-and-down activities without some degradation. Plus it apparently runs in my family. So to the arsenal of regular chiropractic and massage treatments and yoga practice (all of which keep me mostly pain-free), I have added a nice cosy neck-warmer.

You see, our apartment could not fairly be described as balmy. It’s not cold, exactly, but sitting still for more than 30 minutes sure makes it feel that way. And since I’ve yet to acquire a bicycle-powered computer, or learn to knit while jogging, my extremities get chilly. I made fingerless gloves first, which keep my wrists feeling good. But I only recently realized that there was a good way to keep my neck warm without wearing too many cumbersome layers. And voila, neck-warmer.

Seriously though, it does kinda look like I’m wearing a wooly turtleneck if the bottom is hidden.

But it’s not a dickey.

The better to see you with, my dear.

Oh, and better pictures of the Ox prints.


Yesterday I finished a really great workshop, learning how to do Mohuhanga (Japanese woodblock printing). Because 2009 is the year of the Ox in Asian culture, and there’s a strong tradition in Japan of giving themed postcards at New Year’s Day, we did Ox-themed prints. I’m very happy with mine (forgive the cruddy picture, it was done with my cellphone “camera”).

Year of the Ox

The workshop was taught by printmaker Elizabeth Forrest at the KOZO Studio, the studio of Akemi Nishidera, a book/letterpress artist, with whom I’ve also done a couple of letterpress workshops.
I hope to do more workshops there if I can, and/or maybe rent the space to do more independent work. It’s nice space with a friendly & supportive atmosphere.