Wednesday, September 29, 2010

As the World and Spinning Wheel Turns

Now that I no longer have to work on a 100lb piece of crochet for a rocket, I am free to take up any project that calls my name. Let's see...who has been waiting in the wings?

Oh yes, this:

This is the yarn made from Husky fur that was sent to me by a friend. I finally finished spinning it. He asked for a single ply, thick and thin that will be woven by another friend. I made one slightly more thick and thin than the other. I think there is about a total of 150 yds here so not really enough for weaving much of anything but I am sure it will be a good addition to a larger project. I have to admit that this was not my favourite fibre to spin. The short staple length was killer and the amount of fluff that coated my living room, not to mention the inside of my mouth and nose by the end of it, were less-than-pleasant aspects to the project. But, one learns from each encounter, and so it was with this.

I eagerly dusted and vacuumed away the dog fur from my wheel so I could begin to spin some new yarns. I am participating in the Sunnyside Gardens Park third annual craft sale in a couple of weeks. It is a very low pressure event - I am sharing a table with four other people so we can take turns being there and the total investment for me is $10. I am not getting worried about having enough product but I am enjoying working with fibre I have on hand. This is a handpainted BFL roving that will be plied with a different handpainted BFL roving. I think they will be good together but it is always something of a surprise once the plying begins.

And this is my subway knitting. A special pair of socks that will be a gift. I am using Noro's sock yarn and feeling a wee bit nervous about its less than soft texture. Dedicated Noro knitters promise that it softens up considerably with washing. I certainly hope so!

Also, Lucy asked me to make her a sweater for Rhinebeck from the left overs from the rocket project. Because what I want to do right now is make a project from Hometown USA yarn. Yeah.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bonus Points

There were some added perks to being part of Maker Faire 2010. One of the biggest was that I got to meet many fellow knitters and crocheters, including some of celebrity status.

One was Amy Caterina, the artist responsible for the Pseudo-Sod Car.

Another was Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochiland. She is just about to have an exhibition of her creations at Gallery Hanahou (611 Broadway, Suite 730 in Manhattan). It opens October 7th.

And it turns out that the Hall of Science has its own resident yarnbomber - the librarian Rebecca Reitz. She yarnbombed the security gates at the library entrance. This was the only photograph that I took that came out halfway decent but go check out her blog, where she has all sorts of very good photographs of her work and others at Maker Faire.

Also I am pleased to announce that my project won two blue ribbons: one from and one from the producer of the event itself. I actually received two blue ribbons! It kind of cracked me up - like I had the largest pumpkin or something. But when one of the Lion Brand people tried to take one of them from me because he "wanted to do something with it," I felt an urge to wrestle him to the ground, if necessary, to keep MY ribbons.

Ah success! How quickly you corrupt....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mas Paz Para El Mundo Y Amor

World Maker Faire 2010, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Sunday.

It seemed slightly unbelievable that we were going back for another day, but we did. This time I had company.

If anything, Sunday was even busier. The weather was cooler and people were more willing to linger. Here are more messages to the universe that caught my eye:

This one was by a little girl whose mother asked her what her message would be - love, friendship, peace. The girl just shook her head and got to work drawing. Her message to universe? Potatoes.

And so can you.

By afternoon, people were willing to sit down and knit or crochet. Several new squares were created in the last couple of hours.

This lovely woman was a very speedy knitter and figured out how to attach her message very cleverly. And I especially loved her because a very rambunctious little girl asked me to teach her to knit at about 5 p.m. on Sunday. It was about at that time that I began to ever so slightly check out - I felt I had used up just about every last reserve of outward energy. I looked at that cute little girl and tried to meet her but it just wasn't happening. I knew she really didn't have the patience to learn to knit just then and I didn't have the patience to pretend to show her. This woman stepped in and volunteered to show her. I was so grateful!

Now the piece and extra squares are all back with Lion Brand Yarns to be made into blankets for Warm Up America. The messages? I saved them and plan to put them together into book. I think I have more than 400 in total, and each one tells a story.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Make Blankets Not Bombs

Saturday, World Maker Faire, Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

It was very hot, it was very sunny. But this did not prevent people from sending messages to the universe.

This one was from a boy who was about five. He seriously challenged me about exactly HOW the message was being sent to the universe. At first, he was clearly displeased with my answers. Already at five, he was more clear thinking and rational than I will ever be. But, at last, I said something that convinced him and he said, "Ok. I will send a message to the universe." Whew - dodged a bullet with that one!

Maker Faire is a strange combination of crazy artist and crazy scientist. I had one young woman tell me, when I explained that the wind would catch her message and send it into the universe, that there is no wind in the universe. Sheesh. Tough crowd for the poetic metaphors!

Others obliged. Here are some that stood out for me yesterday:

A square maker attaches her square.

By the afternoon, my table was (finally) out of the beating sun. People were willing to pay the price of making a square for an opportunity to sit in the shade.

The other rocket was the site of the Science Stage, which featured a variety of music, magic, Einstein imitations and science tricks. Look! Here is a science celebrity - Ira Flatow, host of NPR's Science Friday program. I was actually kind of psyched to see him in person, even if he didn't so much as glance in the direction of my project.

End of the day. Many messages sent. Many more to come.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

When Is A Phallic Symbol Not A Phallic Symbol?

When this happens...

The first time I actually saw the piece all stretched out. I made it in my wee living room, stacking each row of squares on top of the one before so I really had no idea how large it was.

Helen came by and helped pin messages on the upper reaches before the piece was lifted up. She also came up with a couple of inventive solutions to installation challenges so it was good she was there. Although she did talk a lot. (She knows, so I can say that.)

Oliver was my assistant and #1 installer. He did a fantastic job and moved that scissor lift with a subtle and smooth hand. Thank you Oliver!

The full monty.

Even from behind, it looks good.

Today and tomorrow, I will be at Maker Faire encouraging passers-by to send a message to the universe. I have 500 pins and as many cards for writing messages. I hope I use them all. I suspect I will - they are expecting 25,000 people to attend.

May I offer a HUGE thank you to all who contributed. Special thanks to Lion Brand Yarns for their generosity with yarn and staff time, especially to David Blumenthal, the CEO of Lion Brand. He has been called the Tony Soprano of the knitting world and I think it is true! I have never been able to say no to any of his requests.

Also special thanks go to Betty Chen, Katie Dugdale O'Sullivan, Brece Honeycutt, Helen Griffin, Lucy Love, and Christy of Urbanmuser. And of course, Dan, who was my yarn mule - carrying skeins in to his office and collecting finished squares and bringing them back later. They all went far beyond the call of duty to help make this happen.

Now, let the games begin!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tote That Bale

Thar she blows! One hundred pounds of knit and crochet goodness ready to be installed later this morning.

In one of my conversations with the MF people about the installation, someone asked how heavy the piece was so they could be prepared with proper materials. He said, "You know, 10 lbs, 100lbs, har, har." As if knitting could ever weigh 100 lbs. Obviously you are not a golfer.* Dude, my knitting regularly weighs 100 lbs. Or more.

I hope his sense of chastened amazement will continue as the piece is unfurled and secured. The worst thing will be if it looks tiny and unimpressive. Yikes, did I actually write that out loud?

No. The worst thing will be if we can't actually fit this behemoth in our car.

Pictures to follow.

* This is a Big Lebowski reference. If you don't get it, go see the movie fer chrissakes!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Deep in the Juju

It's getting to be crazy time for this project. The time where I get three different emails about installing that all say different things. The time where they change the rocket the piece is going on three days before the installation. The time where the number of squares I have to work with is most definitely finite and the time for speculating is over. The time when my living room, no longer fit for habitation, is a minefield of yarn, scissors, hooks, balls of yarn and one big-ass piece of work. The time when Dan keeps his mouth shut. The time when I get up early, go to bed late and arnica becomes my best friend. The time when the children learn character-strengthening habits of entertaining themselves. The time when dinner is a choice between leftovers and a bowl of cereal. The time when I know exactly what I will be doing for every minute of the next 72 hours. The time when I look out the window and feel a slight tinge of surprise that the world has been carrying on as if nothing is happening. The time when I seriously turn off the computer and get to work.

Yes, my friends, we are deep in the juju now.

PS. Still send messages! And see you at the Maker Faire!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your Messages, Please

We had our first knit night at Lion Brand last night. It wasn't a huge crowd but fairly respectable and I had a stack of squares and promises for more by Wednesday at the end of the evening. I am hoping that tonight will be a little larger but I have no idea if anyone will show up.

As an aside, we have been reading the Vimalakirti Sutra as part of the fall Ango training, and one strong message coming from it is to move forward as if enlightened. Not "fake it 'til you make it", as one student suggested, but to really be filled with intention and practice even when everything is telling you to do otherwise.

I see a version of this process happening in nearly every one of my projects. The outcome is unknown: will anyone show up? will anyone participate? will the piece fit the site? will it be a confirmed disaster? a stunning success?

I have no idea.

And so, moving forward, I am asking everyone reading this blog to send me your message to the universe. You don't need to make a square to have a message! You don't have to ever have read this blog before! You don't ever need to read it again! Just send me your message to the universe.

People who have been so generous in making squares have largely overlooked the message part of the project, I suspect because they are busy making squares, so I find myself with only about a half-dozen messages and hundreds of squares.

You can post your message as a comment here, or if you feel shy or have issues with blogger (and you won't be the first), then email me your message at thehousemuseum(at) I will print it out and pin it on a square.

And if you can, come tonight to Lion Brand Yarns, 34 West 15th Street, 7th floor, 6 - 8 p.m. and make a square or two. All materials are provided and there are snacks too.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

You're So Totally Square, Man

This morning I woke with a slight edge of panic creeping into my mind and body. Although my square stash is hovering around 100 now, the goal is 300 and it was only this morning that I fully realized exactly what I exactly want to do for this installation. (What can I say? These things take time.) So, I am putting my hopes, faith and dreams in the two knit nights at Lion Brand. And the fact that I have all this weekend to do nothing but crochet. Just because I spent an unreasonable amount of time cleaning out our bin of bills and other miscellaneous paperwork yesterday, something that I hadn't done in about three years, doesn't mean I am avoiding crocheting or feeling so overwhelmed that I am running away from my work. Nooooo, nothing like that.


Before I go back to my work, I want to give some credit where credit is due. Many friends and neighbors have stepped up with needles and hooks in hand and have delivered with squares. Here is a sampling:

A sunshine-y one from a Sunnyside neighbor, Carol McKenna.

These are from artist, Brece Honeycutt. They are extra special because she is a very busy person, making her own fabulous artwork, and she took time out from that to make these.

Another Sunnyside neighbor (and Lucy's boss), Katie O'Sullivan. The "T" and "H" refer to her super-cute kids. "H" is who Lucy watches once a week as a mother's helper. May we all have bosses who are so generous and nice! Katie even hosted a knit night in her home last week to encourage more local knitters to contribute. Thank you Katie!

These are from another Sunnysider, Kayvan Gahrahmat. One bonus to this project has been meeting people who live only blocks away who knit and crochet, like Kayvan.

These are from Patti Blaine, sadly still blogless so no link here.

These are but two of the many that Betty Chen contributed (the link is to one of her incredible quilts - check it out). She also recruited other family members to make some and took away more yarn the other day. Sadly, her house was damaged in the freak storm that hit New York City on Thursday so I am not sure she will have more time to make more squares. She has been a great contributor until Mother Nature intervened.

This one was made by Melissa Samide, who is a young homeschooler in Queens. Very impressive crochet skills!

So, the pile continues to rise, but will it be enough? We wait with bated breath...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Turning Up the Heat

The project has been getting some buzz...

Here is the Lion Brand Yarn blog post. They include a link to download instructions, among other things.

Here is a post on a new blog called GeekMom.

Maker Faire has been chatting it up on their Facebook page and a local paper is doing a story sometime soon. The reporter seemed amazed to learn of the world of yarnbombing and, in general, the passion with which knitters approach their craft. I forget that, to people not involved in knitting, it all looks kind of strange. She kept saying things like, "Really??" and "Are you kidding?" She also kept wanting me to pin down what a typical knitter is like but I really couldn't say. Other than loving knitting, I can't think of anything that makes someone become a knitter. Can you? And to me, that's the beauty part because it means we can meet all sorts of people, share our common interest, and learn all sorts of other things at the same time.

But we can discuss this further next Monday and Tuesday evening, right? There is still time to make a square for Maker Faire...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Be There or Be Square!

Join me, Lion Brand Yarns and Maker Faire 2010 at two knit nights to make squares and send a passel of messages to the Universe. Here are the details:

Make a square for Maker Faire
Monday, Sept. 20 and Tuesday, Sept 21 (two nights - come to one or both!)
6 - 8 p.m.
34 West 15th Street, 7th floor (between 5th and 6th Aves)

This is the Lion Brand building but don't go to LB Studio - go in the main building door and take the elevator to the 7th floor. Yarn will be waiting for you.

See you there!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Squares, They Are A-Coming In

This is a full time, a time of feeling full. Full of ideas, full of the world flowing through me. Keeping it flowing, I say! No snags, please.

The Guggenheim application was sent off into the ether of the internets, to be examined and have its teeth checked in the horse trading that is what gets called fellowship around here. It may end up at the glue factory, but it was a very good experience to have to write it, so glue or no glue, fellowship or no fellowship, it was worth the time and effort.

We would have been enjoying our second morning waking up in Gillams today but for the Maker Faire and Lion Brand Yarn on the phone. Oh-oh...a little snag! I have been surprised at how sad I am about it, to be honest. Newfoundland, that damn place. It just gets under your skin and won't leave you be. Perhaps there are some ringworm metaphors I could be working here.

But, moving forward in the fullness of life, I have been making and collecting squares for the rocket installation.

Colourful squares and plain squares.

Clever, mathematical squares and humble garter stitch squares.

Squares made with hooks, needles and, apparently, arrows the size of US 13's. Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say. (This one was made by Betty Chen, who came by yesterday and picked another bag of yarn -thank you Betty!)