Friday, January 31, 2014

Old Friends

For the exhibition in South Dakota I am creating a fun house in the gallery space.  A fun house of vulnerability, if you must know.  In the way of fun houses, it will be verging on more scary than fun, only the scary part will be that people will be asked to be open and tender because is there really anything more scary than that?  In any event, I also do want it to be FUN.  To me, part of the fun will be a kind of fun house sensory overload with lots of colour.  

I was laying in bed one morning wondering how in the world I would be able to create enough handknit or crocheted colourful material (or even find enough handmade blankets secondhand) to create the walls of the corridor and rooms of the fun house, when I remembered that I have five, large boxes filled with handknit and crocheted pieces occupying valuable real estate in my studio.

Remember these?  My hundreds and hundreds of handmade squares and rectangles collected from around the world for this project?  I still got 'em!  They have been sitting in their boxes, still quite unimaginably dirty from their three-months lining a highway in South Korea.

I ask you, did these cats luck out when they entered this particular household?  It's heaven for felines around here.
For the past week, I have been bringing bagfuls of them home each time I go to my studio and washing them, batch by batch.  A textile conservator told me not to wash them (she recommended vacuuming them) but I prefer them to be as clean as possible so I have been washing them (I air dry them).  So far, so good.

I hope the people who contributed the squares don't mind that I am re-using them for a new project.  If you do - please let me know!  Like the old friends that they are, I can remember their names, that is to say, the names of those who made them.  I could pull some aside if you would not like your's used in this project.  But I hope you will.  I am very happy to find a way to bring new life into these beautiful squares.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


What birthday gift do you get the 17 year old boy who only wants items related to video games that any right-thinking parent would abhor?

A flowering plant, that's what!

You laugh, but I tried it.  At first, Finnian laughed too but, as it rapidly grew and changed, I noticed him taking good care of it.  Tending it with tenderness, if I may say so.

Now it is blooming in the most absurdly, outrageously gorgeous manner.  Do I detect a note of pride in his voice when he points this out?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Who Knew?

A little bird told me...
Working on two exhibitions at once can get a little confusing.  I sometimes forget where the piece I am working on is headed and, lately, I have been seeing some boundaries blurring between them.  For one thing, both will be a departure from my earlier work in a variety of ways.  This is very, very exciting.  I can't wait to get to my studio these days.  Heck - I actually GET to my studio these days.  After a very long stretch of feeling neither here nor there, I am filled with energy and excitement about what I am doing.  I feel a lot of self-imposed limitations slipping away and I am feel playful and daring and ready to take risks.

It might seem silly to say such a thing about making art, because, really, how risky can it be?  No one is going to be injured if things go downhill.  At worse, I will feel badly about myself but that's hardly new.  Also, the notion of risk is relative even within the realm of art.  I remember realizing that, for a friend and fellow artist, her introduction of a small new element into her collages was her version of a "big risk" and I mean that seriously.  For her, it was taking a huge leap of faith.   We all have our context.  For me, risky involves presenting new work, venturing into video projections, audio installations and playing with lighting.  I know almost nothing about any of these things.  But my feeling is:
 if you are going to play - PLAY.

Plus, it's fun.

Did you know that?  Making art is fun!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The 'citment

Several years ago, Finnian came up with some phrases that are, in fact, gibberish but, when put to use in everyday language, seem just perfect.

One of these is "the 'citment" which isn't so gibberish-y because it is simply a somewhat sarcastic way of saying that what you are getting all excited about isn't very interesting to me.  As in, "oh, the citment..." said in a deadpan way.

Another is "jazz the mo-mo" which means "I'll be ready in a minute".  Gotta admit, it's catchy.  And jazzy.

My mo-mo is totally jazzed (I think I just changed the meaning of Finn's phrase, but I like it) about the work I am preparing for the exhibition in Brooklyn.  I was side-tracked with some sewing work - more on that later - but after spending the day in my studio, I am really excited about how things are coming together.

I am reluctant to show too much before it is all installed.  Suffice to say...

...the 'citment is palpable.

Yes, 2014.  Pencil and ink on paper, 10" x 14"

Friday, January 17, 2014


For the chandelier piece for my exhibition at bkbx, I chose a colour from my box of française crochet coton purchased at a vente de garage outside of Montreal.  I still plan to use the rest of it for my unfinished Knitting Sprawl project (I swear!) but surely I could spare one cone of the more neutral colours for this.

It speaks only french but we still get along just fine.  I chose the grey.  Then I charted my pattern, bravely forging ahead into the unknown.  When all was said and done, my calculations told me to create a foundation chain of 542 stitches.  One can only laugh at such a number because otherwise one would cry.

I use my "memory of a fruit fly" technique for counting the stitches, which is to stick a pin in every 20th stitch.  Remarkably, I had chained 540 when I stopped to take count.  It has taken, ahem, several hours to work the first row but things will ease up for the next 13 rows (there are only 15 rows in total).

Morceau de gâteau, oui?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Preparations for the two exhibitions opening in March feel like they have been inching along.  It feels a little alarming how little actual work I have to show for it, so far.  

I did finish my first hooked rug, which is fun and exciting, but it is one of the few actual objects that I have to show for myself lately.  Most of the work for these two shows has been invisible up to this point.  I have been planning and make decisions and cooking ideas.

Stick a fork in it, baby, because those ideas are cooked and ready to come out!

For the exhibition in Brooklyn, I am presenting several of my crocheted text pieces along with some of the ceramic work I have been making that has never been shown before.  I also will be making two mini-installations in the space and taking advantage of a fancy chandelier that hangs from the ceiling.

So, while this might be one of the most boring photographs ever taken, it represents something pretty exciting for me.  I will be taking my crocheted text pieces to the next level.  Tee hee...I don't even want to say more.  You gotta come see it yourself!  Save the date:  the show opens on March 7th.

As for Northern University in South Dakota...honey, it will blow your mind.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

A Possum and A Mandate

Although I have achieved the age where I don't receive many Christmas presents and that is a really good thing, some stuff has entered the household this past holiday season.  

First, there is the hat made from yarn spun from perhaps the most beautiful Widdershins roving ever.  It is organic Polworth and so soft that it doesn't feel like wool, especially if your idea of wool includes the word, scratchy.  After much looking and deciding (about a year's worth), it kept telling me to spin it as a thick two-ply.  What could I do but obey?  

And then I made the hat.

It is not the best photograph of the hat but it does include "Drunk Santa" who is our holiday friend that we bring out each year since I found him abandoned (and clearly half-sloshed) on the street.  I'll leave you to wonder at who would willingly dispose of DS while you admire the pretty yarn made into a hat. And yes, Dan, there are echoes of Gerald Ford's football helmet in it.

Our 38th President.

Next up is my Gradient cowl (Rav link).  I had a lot of this mohair-esque alpaca yarn from a sweater that I gave up on many years ago and it was just the ticket.  It is a very fun project, especially if you don't mind yards of seed stitch.  You knit with three strands of yarn and every four inches, you drop one colour and add in the next so that you end up with a gradual colour change.  It is so darn clever!

And so darn pretty too.  I think Lucy will be the primary recipient of this one.  Personally, I am not a fan of alpaca so I may yet make another one in wool for myself.

Photographing knitwear is serious business.
One can wear it in a single, long loop or double it up as pictured above.  I only include this rather embarrassing photograph because it also shows another item that I have welcomed into our home - a genuine vintage Shetland sweater from Shetland.  I found it on etsy and I have barely taken it off since it arrived.  Love, love, love, love!

Finally, here are three skeins of yarn that also traveled the globe to arrive in Queens.  They are from New Zealand, made from NZ merino and possum.  The possum are not like the kind we see around here and, apparently, they are destructive and some kind of invasive menace so making yarn from their fur is a good thing.  Or so I was assured when I kept asking, "you mean, they kill them to get the fibre for the yarn?"  In New Zealand, it's every patriot's duty to knit with as much possum as possible.

A friend who was living in NZ for a year brought it back for me.  He is an avid cycler and can get very esoteric about bike parts and various cycling paraphernalia very quickly.  Walking down the street with him, I noticed that he checks out bicycles the way some men check out women.  In any case, he was totally amused to encounter a similar level of geeking out when he went into the yarn store to purchase this yarn.  He had no idea what to buy and soon had several eager knitters asking him all sorts of questions to help him along in his decision.

We knitters don't need all that titanium this and alloy that, just give us a possum and a national mandate and we are all set!  I think they did quite well by him, don't you?

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Don't Forget to Breathe

The aptly named Kukutasana
Taking a break from art, art, art, let's talk yoga.

This year also looks full and fun on the yoga front.  My plan is to apply to a three-year yoga therapy training course that will begin in June.  After teaching group classes for several years, I repeatedly find myself feeling frustrated at how often my biggest goal is to simply not hurt anyone.  Frankly, group classes are not a good way to teach yoga - at all.  I have had experiences where the class consists of a woman in her last trimester of pregnancy, a 30 yo guy, a 50 yo woman and a smattering of mostly healthy 30+ yo women but each with enough varieties of needs to make the whole thing a farce.  What exactly am I supposed to "teach" a group like that?  What makes it extra challenging is that I see the disappointed looks on their faces when we don't do some crazy, amped up power yoga flow thing but instead spend some real time actually connecting with our breath, extending it and (get this!), slowing down.

New Yorkers don't like that very much.  But we need it, darlings.  We need it.

Yet, as a fellow Desikachar teacher once said, (the student) did a great job rolling her eyes to her breath.  I often see this reaction too.  What people don't realize is that doing, say, a sun salutation where each movement is done with an eight-second inhale or exhale is kicking your butt in a very different, much more challenging way.  Or, even more, that NOT having your butt kicked and allowing the practice to be gentle can be the most challenging yoga practice ever...she says from hard-earned experience...

So, yes, yoga therapy.  It will be a training that will allow me to work 1:1 with people with specific (or vague) issues, both physical and mental.  It is very comprehensive program lead by three amazing people with decades of experience between them and all of them are/were personal students of Mr. Desikachar.

I do have my own 2014 asana resolutions although I know I am at the risk of negating almost everything I said above by even mentioning them.  Last year, as you may remember, my goal was to conquer kukutasana.  As it turned out, it was not so difficult.  I still need at least two tries to get up into the arm balance but that's ok.  It feels pretty strong.  My goal for this year is to stand up from my drop backs.  Ever, ever so slowly, I am beginning to see that it might be possible.  Still, as one of the other Mysore students said one morning, I fully expect to hear the finale of the William Tell Overture if/when it ever happens.

And if it doesn't....that's fine too.

Advice about this from Kino.

Stranger things have happened!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Welcome 2014!

The new year brings with it several very exciting new projects and opportunities for me and I am thrilled to share some of them with you here, now.  Some of them will be revealed in the fullness of time.  Actually, they probably can be revealed now but I just like to use that phrase.

First, I am very excited to be included as one of the featured artists on the homepage of for the month of January.  I was among the first artists to be featured when the site was launched in 2008.  The founder, David Andrew Frey, has been a steady supporter of my work and I am very grateful to him for his support and his insights.  Check it out!  The other featured artists are quite interesting as well, so you can't lose.

Next up will be two solo exhibitions happening in March.  Yes, two.  In one month.  Tra la la....

It is a busy time at Studio Love.

The first exhibition will be at bkbx, the artist space in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn.  This show will feature studio-based works: drawings, ceramic pieces and textiles.  I also will have a selection of functional ceramics for sale - bowls, mainly.  One of the goals of bkbx is to make art accessible and affordable so each participating artist has a mandate to create objects that are in a reasonable price range.  I will post more details as the event gets closer but pencil March 7th into your datebook - the opening reception will be held that evening.

The second exhibition will be at the gallery at Northern University in Aberdeen, SD.  This project will be more of a collaborative, interactive installation with the fine art students at the University.  I will say more later but I am quite excited about the direction things are taking.

Also have a couple of publication projects in the works - as a contributor not as the main focus.  These also are very exciting and both will feature my project, Spindle 7.

So, stay tuned!  2014 is already shaping up to be full and fun.  It will be great to share it all with you over the coming months.