28 February 2008

since the last post

I have:

--ordered handspun/hand-dyed, beautiful yarn
--ordered a million dollars in dye and yarn to do it myself
--read through my new books about dye a million times
--read through VEGANOMICON nearly all the way through ... it is a tome, folks.
--lost my sense of time (seriously, I don't know if things happened two days ago or three weeks ago)
--gotten the flu. or something flu-y.

The last one I blame on Noah. We're thinking that last week, his cough maybe was really the flu, but since he had a flu shot, it mutated into a dry cough, then wet cough, then constant cough, then nothing.

I have no such flu shot. And it is so weird feeling just so tired. And the chest aching, and the headache, and the fever/chills combo. I can do colds okay -- I have the practice -- and sinus infections, while hell, are a breeze. But waking up to a dry cough? What? I don't really know what to do with myself.

So I'm taking AirBorne; that is freaky stuff. And I spent four hours at home sick in the middle of the day. And I'm planning on going to work, and then maybe coming home and doing what I can here.

Where is the mucus production?! What is this phantom sore throat thing and sore lungs, I guess, thing and no-reason headache?! I can't handle new viruses. Cannot do it.

Oh another 'since last post' thing:
--my biggest freelance editing job is in hiatus; her manuscript is DONE
--my boss told me I have a great personality and, I quote, "not to sound hokey, but you're kind and loving." It had context, and it made sense, but I don't want to give you that context. I just want you to know my boss told me I'm kind and loving.


And we have a new windshield.

And the cats won't stop licking each other. I think it's just affectionate, but if cats had sexual desire, or if their version of desire could match our construct of desire, I think my cats would be Greek men embracing the love that has no name. It does have a name, though, and its name is incessant licking.

It is way better than them only fighting, though. A much better thing.

21 February 2008

notes on making and not making

Maybe that's how to start this. Maybe that's a false start.

I want to be making art. I need to be making art. It's like needing to eat. Or more like needing to talk. I need to get into this urge I have for materials that are significant just because they are what they are. Like rotting wood, and rusting metal, and Doris Salcedo's work with bones inlaid in pieces of furniture. Yeah. No symbology, no metaphor: just material to sight, I guess. Keeping it all preverbal. Skipping that nasty language.

I think that's why I can really only handle abstract art, in the end. Texture can win me over to figurative things sometimes, or the story of its making can do that too -- like Magdalena Abakanowitz and her crazy small studio beginnings. They're bodies but not bodies; they're charred flesh but they're bronze; they're resin-soaked fiber but they're just burlap bags ... Yeah, she's okay with me.

And what do I want to be making? Objects. Which sounds like sculpture. But really it's more like objects. More like mobiles, and tiles, and cyanotype'd full body portraits that have really blurry lines, and knitted things.

What does knitting have to do with all this, really ... is it tied in to what made me want to make only functional ceramics? Maybe.

And then there's installation, which honestly, is how I see everything I want to make. They're not transferable.

Maybe I need to use the tape inside my old video cassettes. Maybe the material can be its own thing. The passing of a medium. A repurposed medium. That also happens to come in really long strips ... that could be knitted ... like long scarves of cassette tape, inside shorter tubes of knitted silk/mohair that are really open and light-colored ...

And what about the tape being black and shiny, but being able to project multi-colored image? What about that?

Also, other ideas:
1.) fabric, probably scrim, soaked full of starch, molded, and hung in mobiles
2.) hanging said mobiles outside, taking lots of photos
3.) selling photos? Really? That doesn't sound like me.
4.) selling the mobiles ... sounds safer.
5.) knitting socks
6.) knitting tea cozies
7.) knitting a hat for Noah as fast as I can. He's sick, and he lost his only hat, and it is very very cold.

17 February 2008

a very small knitting rant

Really this is about the design of knitting patterns.

Am I a matron? Am I an old lady with no shape I'd like to show? Am I rotting in a grave, but dog gone it I am covered in hand-knitted lace?

Does no one else pay attention to color?! Fashion?! And, I don't know, DESIGN?!

And, conversely, do I have $80 to drop on a project every time something decent shows up? No, I do not. So kind knitters of the world, kind designers who understand there is a big middle ground between knitted mumus and knitted thongs (in cotton or edible licorice strings, for real), please choose affordable yarns. As in affordable for me, not you. They don't pay me to knit yet.

Because really, the tragedy here is that not only do I love to knit, I also need to. It's maybe the only thing left that regularly calms me down. I end up knitting in bed, folks, when I can't sleep and I've tried pills plus booze plus reading fashion mags backwards. Also I need to because I am always cold, and need very specific kinds of sweaters, shawls, and many pairs of fingerless mittens to SURVIVE.

Case in point: on Friday, I wore jeans, knee-high wool socks, knee-high boots, a t-shirt under a wool turtleneck under a blazer, and sometimes I wore my huge scarf and mitts just for kicks. Indoors.

That's how it is, folks.

Designers of knitted wear, I think, get too busy. They get too into technique and forget about fit and style. This is why Wendy of knitandtonic and Stefanie of Glampyre are my heroes. Oh my god, they're women with bodies that wear clothes which are FLATTERING. Oh my god, and they knit too, and sometimes even in lace and with cables.

Honestly, really, does anyone want to wear an entire sweater knit in fair isle? Or horizontal stripes? Or big, boxy, nastily-draping-in-terrible-places sweaters?

Books I should really just buy:
Lace Style
Fitted Knits
Wendy's, whenever it's out

But I am ornery and poor.

Back to the using of Xmas money, folks, for dye kits and bare yarn and books on dye. Back to the kind of knitting stuff that could actually earn me money. We shall see, we shall see.

16 February 2008

bad nights, good newspapers

I know, I know, I know. I didn't make it to the 9L opening. I know.

I needed to be home. So I was.

I think I hit a dream-record last night: dreaming about the murders of two friends, separately. AHHHH. I woke up with the driving impulse to read local news and make sure they're okay. I checked facebook instead, which in hindsight makes no sense at all -- if you had been recently murdered, would you go to the trouble of changing your facebook status?

No, because you would be dead.

Okay, local news, you are unhelpful as always. Last time I worried about a friend like this, I ended up calling all the (two) ERs in town. Doesn't seem so feasible this time.

Also? St. Louis Post Dispatch? I respect you for writing, or trying to write, an article about Meachem Park's connection to Kirkwood and the recent shooting at Kirkwood City Hall. Thank you for trying. Thank you for talking about the white churches of Kirkwood, where I grew up attending, and that UMC hosted Thorton's funeral. I don't know if First Pres, where I attended and where one of the victims was a prominent member, would have been able to.

And what is with stltoday.com's pictures of Highway 40? Is it that interesting? I would want to know where and when it was closed ... not really reminisce about it online.

oh, StL, StL. I think we'll end up moving to San Francisco or Chicago. I still like you, but man are you are a disaster.

15 February 2008

already a long day at 9am

Looks like today is a day to break company policy and stream some stations from Pandora. Or else die a boring little sleepy death. The iPod is at home. Boooo.


I think Noah and I have been together long enough that we have go-to gifts for each other all in a list. Even the go-to stores. Though our choices perhaps reveal more about us than the recipients of the gifts. A list of VD loot below:

Noah to me: Am-Ko, teapot (so cute! I love it love it!), chapagetti ramen, and in previous years (it's true, dude, but I still love it all) Pocky and tea.

Me to Noah: socks, as in SmartWool, outdoor supply stores, weird cards that I make ... what else ... probably books that I end up enjoying more than he does? Elaborate meals and chocolate?

Noah, I love you forever. Do not be disheartened by any of this. You are too cute, and when you're disheartened, your face gets scrunchy and less cute. So cut it out, okay? I know that you don't know as much about teapots and glazes as I do, but a single-serving, porcelain pot with celadon glaze, then with wax resist and iron oxide flair, is about as me as you get. The only thing more me would be throwing it in a fire at some point, or else sticking shards of glass in it pre-kiln. This is, in other words, spectacular, more so the more I think about it.

Eight years this fall, folks. Three were taken up by the distance. Four in this town. This cold place that the woman whose book I'm editing describes as cold to the bone, gray skies for months, and a choice of Walmart or Walmart. We're getting by, but we're both excited to leave, I think.

I remember, in our first semester in IL, buying wine glasses, a bottle of red (which Noah really dislikes), placemats and napkins ... making a terrible fried version of chicken parmesan, a cheesecake with gelatin ... I know so much better now. And thank God we don't live in a cinderblock apartment anymore.

14 February 2008

what a little chai can do for you

Ka-pow! Caffeine overload! Not counting the amount I think I've had! Zing zang zoom!


When I was taking advanced ceramics and getting close to finishing my bachelor's in art, my (one) professor told me that pots like to keep twisting in the kiln, twisting in the direction they were thrown. He said it was subtle enough that we usually didn't notice, but that it was better to account for a bit of twist in a pot when you were putting on a handle or spout.

I followed his advice. All my pots with handles and spouts have twisted parts -- because I overcompensated. They didn't twist that much.

But I see it in commercially-made ceramics, too. Little difference in the alignment of the top and bottom of a handle. Little angling.


I maybe remember the smell of a clay lab the strongest. Mold, burnt chemicals, silica, powdered minerals, 55-gallon trash cans full of water and scraps of unfired clay. The kiln's raw metal smell, and the smell of the air at 2800 deg. F. Everything burns.

I think about how soft I've gotten, how I wash my hands all the time now for 15 seconds always, how I use face wash and lip balm, how I brush my hair. How I shower regularly (knowing that everyday, for hours everyday, you're going to be caked in mud makes showering seem like a total waste of time and water and soap). Art-making wasn't like that. It was really hard, the hardest thing I've ever done. It took everything out of me.

Which is why knitting is so much safer. Don't you all approve of a regularly-bathing Christine?

But man, the chaos of it. The glazes I made from ash and only ash. Ash and feldspar. Ash and feldspar and cobalt. Their melting rates were extreme, so they could only be used inside a vessel, not outside; the chunks of grit that I refused to sift out would all collect in the bottom of a bowl. Starburst. I called them galaxy bowls for a while.

The mess, the chaos, the pre-verbal quiet of it. I remember the hours I spent one day smashing old clear liquor bottles that a bar let me take for free. No mask; didn't think it through very well. Just a hammer and some old canvas on a concrete basement floor. It was so loud. So many shards, so many tiny cuts on the skin.

And when I was doing it, all of it, it was so automatic, so fluid; it was like not being there at all. Nothing gets me that vivid anymore.


So, valentines. So.

13 February 2008

In which she misses old shoes

Sometimes I miss old clothes, too, especially the ones that have disappeared. Oh, that black cotton shirt with the empire band, those jeans from the Gap, that long-sleeved brown dress.

But shoes are worse.

Some of my shoes were stolen, once, but those I've gotten over. The black heels were incredibly cute and so easy to dance in, yes, but that's okay. Lately I'm missing a pair of boots. Suede boots. Grey. Slouched. Little silver trim on them. Cowboy boots. Late '80s.

I think I was six.

It's kind of hitting me now, getting older and wiser and working in an office, that I haven't usually bought my own clothes. And for that matter, I don't buy that much in the way of clothes. I hit secondhand stores, big sales, eBay for the perfect jeans. But I don't buy new sweaters. Or socks. The things I actually wear all the time.

I need to shop a little, but I don't want to. Clothes I like; spending money I do not.

It's that kind of daydreamy day.

12 February 2008

Another day, another dollar

Here's how that list went:

1.) laundry

Did one load. Haven't put it away. Chose sleep instead.

2.) handwashing laundry, too

Oh dear lord. I washed sweaters by hand* for two hours. I know it was two full hours because I listened to two full albums of the Grateful Dead. Srsly.

3.) dust and vacuum, or else face the wrath of the allergies

Still facing their wrath ...

4.) groceries, I guess

Noah did this! Thank you Noah forever and ever! We have real food to eat!

5.) more freelance work

Um, still haven't done this. Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' ...

6.) sleep already

I tried.

*I own a very oddly-colored sweater. I think it was called 'mustard overdye' at purchase. I love it, love it. I wore it once to a poetry workshop, and a fellow poet said, "Hi Christine! That sweater is the ugliest color!" I think she meant to say "best ever and looks so good on you."

I knew I needed to wash it. I knew it couldn't go in the machine. I couldn't remember the last time I washed it, but how unusual is that, really? I usually can't remember the last time I waterproofed my boots, but what does that matter? We don't do this kind of upkeep on a calendar basis. It's a basis of need. Or smelliness.

I had the sink ready, all cold water and Woolite. I have a white porcelain sink (bane of my existence), and as I put the sweater in the sink and began agitating it, I saw the water quickly turn a dark yellow. Like a mustard overdye color. I figured, "Man this sweater must be really overdyed; it sure is leaking dye like crazy. I am so smart for having NOT machine-washed it!"

And then the water turns brown. And then it gets murky. I get a little worried, so I decide to let it soak. I walk away.

I come back maybe ten minutes later. The water is the color of sludge. I agitate a little more. I decide it is surely time to drain the wash water and rinse, and really get a clear idea of what is going on. Did I somehow strip dye out of the sweater? Did I not clean the sink? Is Woolite actually brown when it reacts with porcelain?

The water drained slowly, the brown all going away, leaving silt at the bottom of my sink.

It was that dirty.

I don't think I'd ever washed it.

I received it as a gift in 2002 or 2003.

It's kind of a brighter mustard, now.

11 February 2008

The downfall of handpainted, handspun yarn

is, simply, that once it's gone, it's gone. I bought one skein in NYC at the Greenmarket, and thought I could get a shrug out of it ... no, no. Well, let it be a hat instead. Maybe mittens. It's an appropriately wintry blue.

Obligatory news-related thing: the Kirkwood, MO shootings happened in the suburb next to my hometown, and one of the victims was a friend of my family's. We attended church in Kirkwood when I was growing up. Insane. Insane insane. That family ... they had two sons, and one of them committed suicide a few years ago. Suicide and murder both. I know this happens in more families than I can imagine. I know. I want to be knowing that all the time, not just be shocked by it when the names involved trigger my memory.

Work is swamping me. Beyond swamping, really; it was swamping two weeks ago, and now it's just beyond swamp. Beyond bayou. We're at sea, people. Under it, even. Deadlines are now irrelevant, because it all should be done already -- like weeks ago already. I am not slow; I am not lazy. I am simply swamped.

Today I made a list that I could have titled "things I need to do tonight so that I survive the next week." Let's call it that:

1.) laundry
2.) handwashing laundry, too
3.) dust and vacuum, or else face the wrath of the allergies
4.) groceries, I guess
5.) more freelance work
6.) sleep already

Wow. That good.

08 February 2008

It got a little bit better.

A day for grunge

Or at least post-grunge, pirate-inspired fashion and music.

It is actually that bad.

The world has turned and left me here
Just where I was before you appeared
And in your place, an empty space
Has filled the void behind my face

Do you believe what I sing now?
Do you believe what I sing now?
Do you believe?

You know, I just want things to untangle a bit. Just let this one thing happen over here, and something else just delay, and not need to do them all and deal with them all and feel them all (most obnoxious) at once.

I did one of those wake up in the night dripping with sweat things again. No excuse for being overheated this time either -- cold room and few blankets.

How, friends, do you self-soothe? And how do you do it when you have 7 more hours of work, and then more this weekend?

My first idea is knitting and watching BSG again. And chocolate. And sleep.

06 February 2008

In which she freaks out about snowfall

Maybe rapid snowfall is scary to me right now because

1.) I have a window that makes it easy to watch; an inch on cars in the last half-hour ...
2.) I wore my highest-heeled boots today for no good reason
3.) I did not wear a hat today
4.) climate change is always scary.

04 February 2008

If I see a zombie bite you, I will shoot you in the head

My dad and I have been emailing this morning. Read on, read on.

MY DAD: We are fine...real foggy here this morning. I was in Danville IL on Friday...quick late trip for a demo...cold flat gray and desolate...reminded me of Fargo. If zombies ever live in rural Illinois...it might be there...so watch the eastern front and keep your powder dry.

ME: We're super-foggy too -- 1/4 mile visibility, and still people drive without their headlights on. My officemate Kyle was saying just this morning that it's zombie weather, and how he wished he had a shotgun, especially since we're in the corner on the second floor and have a good defensive position ... Made me think of you, as most apocalypses do.

MY DAD: For defensive use against zombies, a shotgun works well, but the concern is ammo capacity vs. number of zombies. A good 12 gauge pump with an 8 round extended magazine is a good choice. I would also recomend an AK-47 with several 30 round magazines.

Bottom line...any weapon beats no weapon, especially against zombies.

Be Prepared, my daughter, that's my motto.

Of course, I don't yet own a handgun, but I can change that within the week, and yes, this is what fog does to me and my family. Actually we have a natural attraction to apocalypses and rusty metal. My mom is fond of saying "When the revolution comes, you'll be glad your dad is a land surveyor, because people will always be trading land."

So he has job security. Too bad I won't. I guess I could knit people post-apocalyptic sweaters, socks, fingerless mitts.

Maybe I'll name my fiber company "Post-Apocalyptic Necessities." Doesn't sound as good as "The Dead Potato," though, does it?

03 February 2008

Naming a Yarn Company

Is it that hard?

Do over half of the names of fiber companies REALLY have to feature a pun on the word "dye" or "ewe"? A short survey on ravelry.com says yes, indeed.

And no, mine doesn't have a name or exist yet, but just to show them all, watch me name it Concrete Mixer Fluffy Stuff. Or YARN. Or The Dead Potato.

Maybe I will accept constructive criticism on this, when the time comes nigh.

01 February 2008

Someday soon, I shall display some knitted lovelies, and a pattern I made out of several patterns and also my brain.

I also hope to, someday soon, stop feeling like crap. Green tea with honey, naps, and a great Noah all help to that end.

My latest obsession: what to wear to upcoming weddings. I have no funds to fuel this, but lots of wardrobe, and stashed yarn to make into lovely accessories. Brown and red, it's all about brown and red. For sure. And Rowan Kidsilk Haze, a mohair/silk blend.