Monday, February 25, 2008

Where did the weekend go?

...I did stuff, but I also took a nap each day. I guess that since the stuff that was done wasn't particularly active/large scale, that's why it seems insignificant.

I did work on a few things--I made a few more fingerloop braids, and progressed on the white embroidery:

There are definitely things I like about it, but I would do almost everything differently the next time.

I was also pleased to spontaneously locate my photocopy of the fingerloop braid paper from "Middle English Studies." I laid it next to me and put the rest of the papers back into the folder--and that quickly, Princess was reclined on it, so I didn't get to look at it right away!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Funny Feline, & a Few Frustrations


Arctic Kitty had her first short Balcony Patrol when I got home from work yesterday. After I disbursed my load of stuff and she had come back in and gone off to check out the apartment again, I went out to observe the progress of the lunar eclipse. Arctic Kitty heard the door and came trotting...and was so shocked she had to run away: she had forgotten that her human could go out on the balcony. On a few later attempts she was able to muster up the courage to join me, a bit nervous having me on the *outside* of the door when I opened it for her.

The eclipse was really neat. I saw the preliminary part of it on my drive home, and by the time of totality it was visible from my balcony, through the branches of a tree.


Entropy is getting to me. I have been wanting to weave on my loom, though I suspect that is partly because I know it is basically inaccessible. Not technically, but I would be *extremely* aware of the boxes I was leaning against. I really really need to make more progress in the sorting thing. The next stage is probably to box up the current spread-out stuff and spread out a different assortment.


At least my work area is pretty much functional, and last night I made some fingerloop braids. I made another one this morning--the tempting loops were already set up. It is not possible to eat breakfast while making a fingerloop braid, in case you were wondering.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bits & Pieces

Visible progress on a couple of small things. First, the white embroidery, as of Sunday evening: At lunch today (Monday) I did the final padding stitches for the bottom half, and I will try a variation of the detached buttonhole stitching, because there were irregularities in the white part. Still fun, though, and very puffy.

Also, I finally did a bunch on this embroidery, which was inspired technically by some pieces in Embroideries and Samplers from Islamic Egypt by Marianne Ellis. The image is (very!) loosely based on a 12th c. tapestry fragment used as a relic wrapping. It can be found in Textiel van de vroege middeleeewen tot het Concilie van Trente, which details numerous textile delights from the collection at the Tongeren Basilica.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Winding Down

The work week is nearly over; I'm about ready to go home.

I've made a bunch of progress on the white embroidery (I just love detached buttonhole stitch!) and will attempt to scan it this weekend. I really need to start seriously shopping for a digital camera.

I made this the other day for a greeting card (actually a farewell card):

I haven't used ribbon before, and I really like how it came out. The scanned colors are not true-to-life!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tiamat Grows Restive; Marduk Focuses Mainly on Other Things

Life Stuff.

Over the weekend I spread out some of the boxes from the Awful Pile. I'm afraid of it becoming something that has been there so long I don't see it. Now it's distributed over most of the floor of the living room half of the living room (as opposed to the half of the room full of boxes and a floor loom), ready for Initial Sorting & Redistribution. My cat approves of the alteration of the pile--it's now about level with the back of the futon--I found her reclining on it last night.

I made this sketch of Princess last fall. She is sitting in the Bed Time Now pose, which follows a bout of serious careening into my lower legs interspersed with Forceful Head Butts. If I don't go to bed soon enough, she collapses into a nap or just goes to bed without me.

Art-ish Stuff.

Monday I started the padding stitches for the seed pod on the white embroidery, after completing one more circuit of the background. Before I do more background, I realized, it would be a good idea to add the other Elements to my composition. Perhaps I'll do that tomorrow morning while I wait for my car to be repaired. It's has gotten to the point that there is not enough progress if I just work during my lunch break--ready to be DONE!

While I was doing it, one of the two people who has asked me about it (it's sort of a sociological experiment to see if anyone will notice; embroidery in the lunchroom of a high-tech company does not seem to attract notice like, say, naalbinding on the train)--anyway, she asked me what it was for. I had to tell her several times, with verbal capitalization, that it is a Sample!

Speaking of lunch, I believe I ought to go embroider now. I mean eat.

P.S for the last post: Armenian Embroidery (in Armenian with English summary)--it's in two parts; get both here
Armenian Lace (one page article by Nouvart Tashjian--citation information is on this page; you'll have to do a "find")

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Assorted Projectification, Illustrated.

6. February 2008, Wednesday.

I meant to include a link or two in the last post—here they are now:
*Armenian Lace
*Turkish Lace
*Italian Drawn Work and Antique Filet Lace (1922) This booklet has instructions for knotted lace--Italian, in this case. (I increasingly understand why Dickson [see below] uses "knotted lace" as her preferred term!) I liked the Turkish term "oyah" until I discovered that oyah meant the resulting specimen, not the means used to make it (i.e. a lot of newer oyah is crocheted).
Many other assorted goodies can be found at the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics.

I've finished Alice Odian Kasparian's book. There are some really beautiful patterns for knotted lace, and I love the interlaced embroidery. Her diagrams are excellent; I must try it soon! (Project.) I don't know if I will ever find another embroidery book so—how to phrase it—fraught with emotion, or such a sense of Mission. The last chapter was her family's story—they were very, very lucky, for her entire nuclear family survived to emigrate to the United States. I couldn't figure out Kasparian's age, but she was certainly less than 10 years old at the time; it is not surprising that more than 60 years later, as she finished her book, she still wrote with such immediacy and a sense of loss.

As far as Art goes, I've done a minute bit of preliminary web-only research, and decided that though I want to stick with the basic premise of the series I mentioned the other day, I think my references will be more oblique, and the series shorter, because frankly it is a very depressing topic to keep thinking about. I didn't even make it through the whole Wikipedia article on genocide—partly because of time (I was at work, after all) and partly because it was distressing to think of committees sitting around deciding how to appropriately define genocide while elsewhere people were being slaughtered. End of mini-diatribe.

If you are interested in learning to make knotted lace, I'd recommend “Mediterranean Knotted Lace” by Elena Dickson (2005). Her instructions are wonderfully clear, and with what you learn there you will be well-equipped to try out Kasparian's designs, or perhaps Tashjian's “doily of marked distinction.” After I read Dickson's book last year, I made a couple of samples—they're in two different sizes of crochet cotton. The large size was easiest at first, but before I finished the sample it was obvious that something finer & smoother/more tightly twisted would work better. The next time I will also shrink the scale I'm working at. But I think I'll wait a bit before I try sewing silk!

Sunday I was compelled to make a fancy braid. I used 8 lace bobbins and assorted embroidery strings. It came out very twisty, which I wasn’t expecting, and I’m still trying to decide if I like it:

I just finished my first beaded crochet sample. I lost a few stitches along the way (probably turning rows), and it took me a bit to realize at least one of the problems I was having was not me but that the crochet hook was too small (?!?). The last few rows (at the top of the picture) came out properly—I switched to using double crochet (the half double of the first 3 rows at the bottom didn't work satisfactorily, & I don't think it was all me). The top 4 rows are double crochet, with each row of double crochet followed by either slip stitch or single crochet—the beads only appear on one side. (If you strung twice as many, you could naturally do front & back both.) I'm not sure why I ended up compelled to try this now.

Next is trying a crocheted beaded “rope”—I started stringing the beads tonight, using the needle-with-a-loop-of-thread method to get the beads onto the crochet cotton. Size of this sample will depend on how many beads I am motivated to thread.

(Good grief, the cat hairs show...)

In conclusion, two in-process embroideries started late last summer. I've mainly worked on them during lunch at work, so they haven't progressed too rapidly. The purple one is nearly done (and I'm about ready to work on it again) but the white one still has quite a bit to go—stems, another seed pod, and some leafy bits. Plus filling in the background.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Decent Weekend.

Not bad, as far as weekends go. No pictures, because 1) I didn't do anything particularly scannable, and 2) I forgot my flash drive at work anyway. Saturday I spent hours and hours waiting at the garage for my car to be examined--large mushy snow was falling, which made me strongly disinclined to wander about the streets of Beaverton. It actually was fairly restful to be trapped in one spot, though, so in a way it wasn't too bad. Then I went shopping--a bamboo slat "rug" for on my balcony (once it warms up) and one of those wooden croaking frogs that I've wanted for years. It's a really huge one, too. :) W-a-y on sale. Princess doesn't quite know what to make of it, in a disinterested sort of way. I also perused the Mill End fabric store quite thoroughly, and bought a couple tiny bits of velvet for Projects.

Then when I got home my books from Lacis had arrived! I got them out of the box, took a *really* brief glance through, washed a bunch of dishes at what even a normal person would consider a good rate of speed, and headed to North Portland, where Kim fed me supper & then we all hung out and visited. (Thanks again!) Very nice evening.

Sunday I spent entirely at home. I was not particularly interested in moving stuff around (having practice sitting on Saturday probably helped me sit on Sunday) and I ended up working on stuff. I even had a phone call, and washed dishes & got my new toaster oven up & running. (I used it twice already!) There was a lot of Lap Kitty time, as Kitty apparently felt very needy, and let me know with serious head butts.

It is a kind of peculiar disjunction, therefore, to relate that I ended up thinking about genocide quite a bit. No, really, it is connected--the books I got myself are "Armenian Needlelace and Embroidery" by Alice Odian Kasparian, and "Armenian Lace" by Nouvart Tashjian. The latter is definitely of its time (early 1920s)--my favorite pattern is the one for "a doily of distinction." It was written to disseminate information about Armenian knotted lace, with ways to use it on "the new table linens"--both for Americans, and for Armenian survivors of the Turkish massacres, who were making piecework to sell as a way to survive. Sort of a how-to advertisement.

The other book, however, is not only much more in-depth about traditional techniques, but includes a lot of first-hand information about the genocide--the author's family was lucky enough to survive in hiding, and it was in those conditions she learned how to make lace and to embroider from her mother. I've read about half of the book so far, and the author's sense of loss is apparent: people lost family, homes, and thousands of years of cultural history were eradicated--burned, confiscated. Not only did she write the book to teach how to make knotted lace and keep alive knowledge of a craft which had been of intrinsic importance in her culture, but to inform about the culture itself and a homeland that was very dear to her.

I also thought about a photography book I looked through a few years ago ("For most of it I have no words : Genocide, Landscape, Memory" by Simon Norfolk). The photographer had visited I don't know how many sites of genocide, and his photos were presented in reverse chronological order. One image in particular stayed with me--a shattered schoolroom littered with the bones of small children--not only had the murderers targeted innocents, but there was no one to bury the victims.

Anyway, the book ended with a picture of the empty field where one of the worst massacres in Armenia had taken place. (So there's the final link of my thoughts.) How many times has this sort of thing happened? Why are there still people callous enough to come up with such strategies--and people stupid enough to follow orders? Etc. Eventually I thought, "I can do a series about that." Small pieces, based on art of the region, and titled along the lines of "Armenia 1915." More research to do--depressing topic, but at least the cultural part will be good.

To end this lengthy post on a better note:

Arctic Kitty now likes to go out in the morning, as of about three days ago. Morning Balcony Survey is quite brief: outside, swish tail a bunch of times, inside (except for today, which was whirl around and squirt back inside immediately).

Nocturnal Balcony Patrol was really good last night. The human began to doubt her telepathy was working, and checked a number of times. Each time, Arctic Kitty was pressed up against the railing in a different spot, radar focused intently outwards. Eventually, Arctic Kitty made a small noise (!) which the human noticed (!!!) and dashed inside at full speed as if she'd been stuck outside for positively hours. It was one of the times she came back in extra fluffy with cold fur, and smelling of wood smoke.

A final item to ponder: Why do roosters crow, but crows don't rooster? Drat, where's the OED when you need it? As it isn't here...based purely upon the words, a rooster should be called a crow, and a crow should be a caw. "Caw" is onomatopoeic, at least. (This is hopefully a start to me actually remembering weird linguistic things I think of.) A rooster does roost at night, but that's not different from other birds. Crows roost, too.