Friday, April 27, 2007

The Metaphors are Flying

Hot on the heels of my incredible success putting a video on my blog, here is something I found about metaphors. As we know, this project is a giant metaphor. Metaphors are the very currency of art.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Edgewater ain't what it used to be

For those who fell in love with Edgewater, NJ, based on Joseph Mitchell's story in Up in the Old Hotel, I have some bad news. It's gone.

We travelled to Edgewater today to check out Mitsuwa, a giant Japanese mall/grocery store in Edgewater. (Can someone tell me how I managed to live in NYC for over 20 years and never learn about this place??). Being a big fan of Joseph Mitchell, I was pretty excited to get on their fabulous shuttle bus and go to Edgewater. I had heard it had changed, but sheesh!

Here are some pictures taken from the shuttle bus window. They do not do it justice. We will be back!

This one is from the Mitsuwa parking lot. A small hint of what used to be.

Friday, April 20, 2007

the road is long

Thanks to Janine, wonder woman and knitter extraordinaire, for the idea of working the intarsia fair isle by winding off the usual bobbins of color and simply weaving them back as I get to them. She suggested using a darning needle, but I found I could actually just weave the small balls of yarn through the carried loops without a needle. Hooray! I thought. Janine is a genius!

Well, I have no doubt whatsoever that Janine is a genius (a blogless genius, however). But yesterday I knit for hours and it was a slog. It was not fun. It, in fact, sucked. After several hours, I looked at my four inches or so of colorwork and thought about how this piece was but one of eight, and I thought I must figure out a better way. One thought I had was to knit the background (the lawns, as it were) and add the houses later - knit them separately and stitch them on later. But ugh, I want it to be of one fabric. This is metaphor! This is art!

I couldn't even take a picture of the damn thing. I left it sitting in its tangle of bobbins on a pile of shades of green, blue and white. I can't look at it at the moment.

I don't like getting my butt kicked by a piece of knitting. Grrrrr.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Bigger the Fridge, the Lonelier the Person

There was an interesting article in last week's issue of The New Yorker about commuting. It addresses many of the conundrums of living in the suburbs, exurbs, new developments, or whatever you want to call it. And, if you stick with it, there is even some knitting content at the end!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Go Slow: Gestures of Resistance

I have had the good fortune to be introduced to Shannon Stratton recently via email. Shannon is the curator at ThreeWalls, an alternative art space in Chicago, and the co-leader of a session at the College Art Association's 2008 conference in Dallas, TX, titled Gestures of Resistance: Craft, Performance, and the Politics of Slowness. With the other leader of the session, Judith Leemann, she has started a website. It has been very exciting to learn about Shannon's work and her thoughts about knitting and craft and slowness as a political act. It also is exciting to know that what I have been up to is part of a larger collective unconscious, or whatever you want to call it, in which people are feeling the need to use labor-intensive handwork as a way of resisting the pervading culture of speed and consumption.

Shannon asked me to answer some questions as part of her research for her MA thesis. I thought it would be appropriate to post some of her questions and my answers as part of this project, which is all about using knitting on a large-scale as a way of exploring one of our culture's most prominent symbols of speed and consumption: sprawl. Since this project began perculating in my head a year ago or so, I have liked thinking about the way my knitting the large scale fair isle reproduction of a photograph of sprawl was, in its way, a completely absurd response: I am going to invest more time in the planning and actual knitting of this thing than it would take for most houses in new developments take to be built. I have other aspects of the project, also equally absurd in terms of time investment, which I will describe later. For now, however, here are two of Shannon's questions and my responses. Please chime in with your responses! If you give the ok, I will post those too. I would LOVE to hear what you have to say on the subject.

Do you differentiate between knitting as a craft and knitting as an art making strategy?

I assume you are asking me about these distinctions as they relate directly to me, personally, rather than as larger categories as they relate to all those who knit. On that assumption, I have to answer that I do differentiate. I knit socks and sweaters for my family for all the reasons that most knitters make things—I love the craft, I like handmade objects and it is a way of sharing my love for my family. On the other hand, I knit projects that I would distinctly categorize as art. At some point, these do begin to blend, however, especially in my project, The House Museum, where I have created an installation encompassing the entire interior of a house in Newfoundland as a way of exploring ideas related to tourism and culture. THM is a tourist attraction, open to the public from July – August every summer but it is also our home. I like to think that every activity that happens there thus becomes art, including whatever knitting I happen to be engaged in. Also, for that project, I have knit and crocheted curtains, pillows and other “useful” objects for the house but their conceptual underpinning, and my motivation for making them, is firmly rooted in an art making strategy.

What drew you to knitting as a format to begin with?

I have been knitting since I was eight, and seriously, regularly knitting since my early 20s but it didn’t become one of my main art practices until I was almost 30. I was trained as a painter in art school and it took me a long time to shake off all the prejudices I was taught to believe about what was “real” art (i.e. painting). It was such a relief to stop painting! I have always been drawn to wool, cloth, textiles, knitting, sewing, etc. The materials speak to me and excite me and fill me with ideas. I recently started spinning wool. The first time I ever used a spinning wheel I had the slightly unnerving but very exciting experience of feeling like my hands knew exactly what to do—that I had I had done this before and my whole body understood it. I have since heard that other people have had this experience. I think that these processes – knitting, spinning, etc – are so elemental to human experience that they are known to us, to our hands. I have given in to this feeling in a big way.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Help! I need help!

I started the fair isle work on my section. It is a wee bit complicated trying to remember the fair isle, two-color pattern, as well as carry the other colors along (since it also has some intarsia), AND to make the decreases at regular intervals. In fact, I am having some trouble remembering all those things at the proper times so I spend about half my time tinking back so I can carry the other colors or suddenly remembering that there is, in fact, a pattern, or that I was supposed to decrease.

So I need some help!

Is there a way to do intarsia on circular needles? The problem is that I knit across and drop the one set of yarns, then I pick up the other set and head off down the row, then when I get back 'round...wait a minute...where's my yarn?? Darn it, way back there at the end of the section. UGH! Someone must have figured this out, right?

If you know the trick to knitting intarsia on circular needles, please let me know. I'm over here, dying.