Thursday, January 31, 2008

Entropy Reconfigured

Yesterday I made a couple stops on the way home from work--one of them to buy a toaster oven & some small shelving units. (Shelves, huzzah...) I assembled them & shifted all the boxes--well, not ALL the boxes, but a lot of them--and put some boxes on them. I reclaimed a significant amount of floorspace, which makes my heart rest easier. The living room half of the living room is now clear, except for a tall stack of books, and I can tolerate that a while longer. Also a basket full of stuff (baskets are tolerable, too) and my small, long-neglected tapestry loom. In fact, I could almost pretend that Order had been imposed, if it weren't for the stack of boxes visible behind the futon. At least I did make that pile relatively even, so I could put big pieces of paper on it. I wish I had a good way to store large pieces of paper...

A little while ago I phoned and ordered a small bookcase for one of the spaces Ikea didn't help me with. But I have to wait! :( Not a surprise, but hopefully it will be on the shorter end of the time they prognosticated. 24" wide, 48" high, 10" deep, with adjustable shelves. I have a steadily-increasing number of homeless books, and I've been "losing" things due to repeated shifting: I had to give in a while back and shelve by size instead of topic. And I have a tendency to retain books near my work area once I pull them--so there is usually a flock of books on the floor by my chair (books are best when within reach)--and these books tend to stay there long enough to lose their shelf spaces.

Anyway, I ended up messing around so long that I got to bed extremely late. Again. It was so late that the cat gave up on me, and went to bed by herself.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Marduk vs. Tiamat

I do hope the allegorical title will please the Title Quality Editor. (See, they're better when I have time to ponder them.) ;)

The week off was not restful, as I ended up schlepping stuff all over my apartment and repiling it in different configurations. I no longer have a living room; the battle for chaos control has just begun. But my work area is significantly improved. (Is there a law of conservation for entropy? All the entropy reduced in one area reappears somewhere else, and entropy can be condensed into a smaller area if the degree of entropy increases geometrically as area decreases?)

Here are several entries written over the course of the week, including several illustrations of things more or less flat enough to scan with some degree of recognizability (so, no pictures of the cat).

Vacation Process Report.

21. January, 2008 (Monday)

Here is the doubleweave sample I wove a couple of years ago. (I happened to mention it while visiting with Sarah on the phone, and realized I could show it to her!)

22. January, 2008

Organizing is very very tiring.

The idea for today was to clean out some of the extra stuff in the “studio” and to reclaim the “living room.” With the departure of one of the utility shelves (yay) I have been left with Stuff that has no place. Drat. (But not a surprise.) I didn't end up buying the drawer units I thought I would, so there is now, after much carrying, EMPTY SPACE in my work area!!! For now I am relieved by emptiness but I hope that tomorrow's pilgrimage to Ikea will help relieve the living room of its chaotic congestion. At least I moved the stuff that was precluding door access to any but perhaps a weasel. Amidst the lifting I eventually found myself muttering ow ow ow almost enough to take some Advil. I still might, the final straw being inadvisably but stubbornly heaving my unemptied, solid oak spice cabinet up onto the file cabinet.

Must now eat—I am way behind on nourishment. Then a lamentably short shower (until I moved here, I never dreamed that hot water heaters came in such a small size—plus it is now really cold, for Portland at least, so the hot water gets “diluted” by the cold water being excessively cold). Then I will SIT DOWN and have tea while it's hot. And if I've regained some energy I will draw or something.

At some point during the week...

I finished the little one of these embroideries, inspired by reading a couple of really interesting books by Mary B. Kelly (Making & Using Ritual Cloths, and Goddess Embroideries from (of?) Eastern Europe). I made the first one over Christmas:

It's odd that they don't show at all to scale--the second one is a leftover from the first!

23. January, 2008 (Wednesday)

The trip to Ikea didn't happen, but I did do other things: took the car for a check up (verdict: it needs to have something done) and did a quick run to two fairly close-by potential furniture sources. (After the failure-to-purchase of the drawer units on Monday I had checked three other places.) Help me oh Ikea, you're my only hope.

I have forcibly reclaimed most of the living room, at least of the half of the living room that performs the living room function. (The loom, spinning wheel, reel, and boxes of fabric constitute the normal occupants of the other half of the room, with the futon acting as a room divider.) Yesterday's moving included moving the loom so that I could “conceal” the boxes I was displacing from elsewhere.


There are probably 16 cubic feet of boxes, and the heap is, er, noticeable. :( I have so far restrained myself from evacuating the bedroom closet, which is poorly configured storage-wise. If I emptied it & reconfigured it I would have leftover boxes, and I can't bear to make the pile behind the loom any higher.

I didn't particularly want to spend my whole week off heaving boxes all over, but I shudder to think of how long this would have taken during an ordinary work schedule. Organizing is important. Once I get through this part of it (hopefully it's the worst) I have to remember that even tiny, incremental steps are progress. There is no use having Hoards of Cool or Interesting Stuff if I can't browse easily or if I can't lay my hands on a particular thing without a lot of rummaging. Using up the finite amounts of after-work Creative Power to deduce where something is—instead of using it to MAKE STUFF—got old a long time ago. Maybe 2008 will be the year I get my act mostly assembled.

Organizing is also very tiring for cats. Activity by the human is tiring under any circumstances, so a nap is necessary to recuperate, and then everything is different when you get up, and you have to explore it and see if you still recognize it. Then there is the socializing with the human (if the human is relatively sedentary) and then it's time for another nap. The nap starts sooner if the human is still active, because that is too tiring to keep up with. It is hard work being a cat.

Speaking of which, the cat is now telling me it is time for Balcony Patrol. Arctic Kitty prefers Balcony Patrol in the dark, especially if the wind is blowing interesting scents around. Balcony Patrol in daylight has been out of favor for several months. Nocturnal Balcony Patrol is most excellent, and Arctic Kitty checks everything out very thoroughly, returning inside when her human telepathically knows that she wants to (she keeps working on developing her human's powers of telepathy). She comes in all super fluffy and fresh smelling, and shortly has to have a nap to recover. After a bit of a snack.

(I do spend rather a lot of time with kitty, yes.)

25. January 2008, Friday, early afternoon.

Yesterday I went to Ikea. After the initial excitement wore off & I got down to the serious business of looking for specifically-dimensioned furniture units, it actually got kind of depressing, because my spots are so small nothing was fitting. For example, I need a narrow bookcase—but it has to be short enough to fit under the thermostat. I found one that was the correct width & height, but way too deep (it would stick out 5 or 6 inches too far) and one that was the correct width and depth, but way too tall. And then there was one that was just ridiculously small.

At least I have ended up with a work desk that I think will be very satisfactory. I bought two little file cabinet-like things with 6 drawers each and found one tabletop that was the right dimensions. The little cabinets are nearly assembled. They are marvels of engineering, really, and extremely admirably packed—plus the assembly instructions are commendable: no text, just pictures, with plenty of “magnifying bubbles” so you could tell what to pay attention to.

I am, however, about DONE with assembly. It is extra hard, I suspect, because I am increasingly sore as a result of an intense workout yesterday, in the form of quarterstaff drills. So far it is neck/upper back and forearms, but I expect it will be spreading across my back like it did last time, except probably worse, because we did more. One of the reasons I've tried to keep moving all day...but now I really must be still for a while. I think I will sit in my bedroom (free of chaos, sun now shining in) and watch an episode of Torchwood. Maybe Princess will come out from under the bed and join me.

27. January 2008, Sunday.

Today spiraled rather out of control, between sleeping through the alarm and Mom calling when I'd barely been up 20 minutes, and then we talked for ages (it might be for the first time since Christmas) which was good except it was way too long & the timing was not good. I eventually got a few of the main things done, except for the sitting around sewing/doing fun stuff part which I have pretty much not done all week. I managed to sit down a little bit early this evening, and read part of my book on Moroccan textiles & carpets (a recent acquisition) with Princess curled up against my leg.

Yesterday I finally mounted an embroidery I had 97% finished by late February. It didn't scan particularly well because of its puffiness (as Muriel Baker pointed out in Stumpwork, it is impossible to block it to remove wrinkles; I resorted to tautly stretching it and padding it with quilt batting). I do believe the recipient was entertained. He nearly didn't get it, as I developed quite a fondness for the monkey and was really close to keeping it. The picture is based on an image in a book of emblems I bought earlier this year (currently missing in action, or I'd include the title; I just checked a bunch of places—I remember where it used to be, but I've shifted everything several times since then).

Yesterday I also took an encaustic painting class with Amy Stoner. Something else to buy art supplies for! You can do collage with wax, too. In the Sept./Oct. 2007 issue of Fiberarts there was a neat article (pg. 20-21) by Daniella Woolf (she also has a blog about her work). She incorporates paper, silk, etc. into her layered encaustic works.

My initial experiments (once I get set up, I'll mess around with them some more) (usual web-picture caveat--in real life they don't quite look like this): Time to make the final preparations for tomorrow. After today, I think I really really need to get a shiny sticker.

Today, Monday January 28:

Snow everywhere this morning! :) Very pretty. I suffer from snow deprivation, but I'm just as glad to not have to drive in snow with inexperienced people.

Friday, January 18, 2008


There will be a moderate hiatus while I have a week of vacation (!!!) because of no e-mail at home. Since I've hardly started here, I presume the hiatus will be nearly imperceptible. Since I vow to be organized (making lists as Sarah suggests--I have even written things on lists that are already done, so I can have something to cross off)--since I will be organized, I will have Project Progress to report, and I will scan in flat things so there will be more pictures. Maybe part of my shopping will be for the digital camera I didn't buy yet; first, however, a phone & a toaster oven. And since I recently was swept along with the guys & said sure, I'll buy a long hickory staff too, I probably should buy more string to balance that out. For extra legitimization, I will first use some of the goodies I got at Stringpage Supplies and make some more fingerloop braiding samples. (If I'm using string up, it's okay to add to the stash.) (New string for inspiration, you know, and it wouldn't do to run out, after all.) (And you can never really have too much string, even though it seems like it when you live in a smallish apartment, but string takes up very little space, really, for how much fun it is.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I remembered to take my flash drive home, put the picture on it, AND bring it to work.
Here is the picture I was missing--a kind of Celtic mandala drawn with many compass marks. I will try to remember to scan it at different stages; I've never done that before, and it will be interesting to see how it changes.
An aside: due to a timely reminder from a friend, I have begun applying stickers to my dayplanner when I get things done I'm supposed to do. It is an inordinate amount of fun; my inner child is presumably very lonely and neglected for stickers to be such a motivation, but I hope that such a simple reward keeps working.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Yes, the missing picture is indeed on my home computer. It is still there because last night I accidentally left my flash drive at work.

I did the preliminary fabric scouting for a project for this year. The results indicate that if I want to do embroidery on properly-configured wool cloth I will have to weave it myself. Hence I will start with a different piece.

On a completely different note, I believe that I have found where the costume & textile collection assembled by Virginia Harvey now lives--at the Henry Art Gallery (University of Washington in Seattle). Next I have to find out how to get to do research there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Minute Progress

Not much concrete got done over the weekend; I tried to tell myself at least I was resting up for my WEEK OFF NEXT WEEK. It was further proof--well, not proof, more of a Serious Reminder--that I need to make lists or basically nothing happens, especially because I am not feeling particularly motivated. I want the paper sorting/stuff organizing to be done, but it is not a short-term project, and it is not finite (since the accrual of paper and Interesting, Potentially-Useful Stuff will assuredly continue).

Two pictures:

I made my first spiral fingerloop braid (bottom). It is carefully posed so that the mistake doesn't show. It was roughly four times as big around as what I wanted, and after a brief consideration I didn't want a fingerloop braid so much as something done, and I did a twisted cord instead. (This is for couching around the edge of an embroidery.) Both are made of a non-DMC embroidery floss. The braid is eight loops of 6 strands; the cord was two l-o-n-g pieces tied end-to-end, overtwisted, and plied, then the result was overtwisted and plied.

...I guess there is no second picture. I must not have put it on the flash drive. I'll have to look on my computer tonight.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Knitting Revelation

I must confess that I had to resist calling it "knitting ravelation."

This morning I sat down (an anomaly in my life) to finish breakfast with a toasty warm lap kitty. It was right next to Knitting Project #2, which has been interminably long, probably an indication of disinterest. It was intended to be a little pouch, like Knitting Project #1, inspired by (and not remotely like) a knitted reliquary pouch I saw at an SCA event. However, Knitting Project #2, while better in color selection (based purely on available remnants), slowly decreased in interest, about the time I realized the proportions were somewhat elongated to be a little pouch, and that it would be much cooler if it were a sock.

Last weekend, looking at this persistently unfinished thing, which I don't really want to unravel, I realized I could make it into a sock, even if I didn't have enough yarn for a second sock (which doesn't matter since my two-color knitting drew in considerably and I'm sure I couldn't get it on). I could make a practice sock, and if I ever needed to store my ill-gotten gains under the mattress, I would have a nice, sturdy (though somewhat irregular) sock to use for the purpose.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rampant Destruction

I'm trying to work on my titles, as per special request. Largely I believe it will just be better to think of them when I'm not tired.

The rampant destruction happened Friday. I spontaneously demolished the interior of a cassette storage unit. (Well, I've planned on doing it for ages, but The Moment came upon me suddenly.) This resulted in a large, shallow box ready to be converted into a storage shelf for things like bottles of ink--this will reduce the condition "out of sight, out of mind."

Saturday evening a few of us went out to hear Painted Hags play, which was fun--rock versions of traditional/Celtic songs--with an electric harp thrown into the mix! Also very very loud. I don't think my ears will ever comfortably tolerate live rock, which is unfortunate.

Sunday I unintentionally sorted/filed a bunch of papers (gasp) and got a start on my copy of Natura Exenterata by printing out and folding all the signatures. Though the fingerloop braids section is rather short, I was able to stretch it out to four signatures by including a few blank sheets at the beginning and the end (like a "real" book) and printing only on one side (so I can sew in my samples--thanks to Sarah for the reminder!) I'm pretty sure I will need to go shopping to find the right sort of paper for the cover, but I'll be good and look through my paper stash first.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Second Post

January 3, 2008

Here is the picture, somewhat more intensely-colored than in actuality:

I really must do the “real” Project before long...

Last night (that would be Wednesday, due to internet-access lag) I finished spinning the last of the two ounces of mohair I bought in Santa Fe on my 30th birthday consolation trip. I decided that it would be good if I'd actually get it made into something before I turn 40, and that time is coming sooner than I realize. Or rather I realize it, but wonder how it got to be that close. (I know, I know, one day at a time...) That time-warp effect has recently entered another phase of Heightened Awareness, due to the relatively large percentage of my immediate family who are in reproductive mode. I must remind myself that I'm making Art (and Projects), not babies. And I have an adorable cat. Eventually there will be an inordinate number of pictures of my cat. (I'm practicing, in order to have Cat stories to retaliate with against Baby stories.)

I'm contemplating launching a new Project: fingerloop braids. I know how to make the basic 5-loop one, but it would be most excellent to test out a few more, as well as timely, since I just got a batch of enticing string from Stringpage Supplies. (Purple, lime green,, linen and rayon delights.) Other fingerloop information: Phiala's String Page (under braiding), Sample Fingerlooped Braids from a 15th Century Ms (the pictures don't load for some reason, but there is a nice bibliography). I also have a copy of The Compleat Anachronist #108 (the authors have a webpage with numerous links, as well as errata for the publication). And the marvelous website On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics has an excerpt from Natura Exenterata, published in 1655, which excerpt includes a section on “laces.” It's worth looking at just for the title page. (This is available in a transcription on the fingerloop webpage.)

Because I can effortlessly make anything infinitely more complicated, I'm probably going to print the fingerloop braid section of Natura Exenterata in such a way that I can bind it into a cute little pamphlet. At the same time, I can also dismantle my copy of the The Compleat Anachronist #108, and re-bind it with the errata.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Inaugural Post

January 1, 2008

I wanted to come up with a splendid name for my first blog, but settled for functional.

This year I hope to focus on creating work; the first step will be creating a plan. Over the year and a half or so since I graduated I haven't made Art, but I have at least been working on Projects. Some of these are of course related to potential Art, and some of them are just for fun, and that really is okay. Fun is one of the things I have to work on.

I've had a bit more practice calling myself an artist, though it still feels peculiar, because for most of my life I thought of my stuff as Projects. One of my imminent Projects is organizing my work space; another is decorating. (I think of my apartment as a studio apartment; more about that at a later date.) I'm basically a mixed media artist, which I define as doing what I feel like doing—in art jargon: the concept determines the technique.

There will be a bit of a lag with posts for some time, as I only last year stumbled into the 20th century when a friend gave me a refurbished computer he'd fixed up for me; soon I hope to get my computer set up in a spot more conducive to extended use. At that point I will sign up for internet service. It will be very exciting to have internet access at home! (Says she who doesn't have a television.) Part of “conducive to extended use” means “no more kneeling at the keyboard.”

I will close with a picture of a sample I made a while back (I didn't label it, drat!). It's for a Project, though I suppose that in a few generations that Project could eventually evolve into a piece of Art. It's watercolor paper with watercolor and some water soluble crayon, shiny gel pen (which doesn't show), needle lace & embroidery, and a bead.

Hmm. Or maybe I won't. I transported my little entry on my flash drive, and in the conversion from the file type my home computer uses to the one my work computer uses, the picture turned into a little tiny orange square.