19 September 2019

More Textile Exhibits

Wow! There is just so much to see around here.

SCAD FASH continues their amazing run of exhibitions. Closing this Sunday 22 September is Kaleidoscope Katrantzou. This is a 10-year retrospective of the work Greek-born, London-based designer Mary Katrantzou. Her work begins with digital printing on fabric, but evolved beyond that. Often she uses unusual materials.

Some pictures:

Printed images of landscapes in black and white combine with bold, simplified, sculptural forms. I love the full moon on the shoulder of the foreground dress with the cherry blossom tree. The partly obscured dress immediately behind is printed on a diaphanous material, creating an intriguing layered effect with the image.

Here couches and upholstery serve as the source of inspiration. On the left, I love how the jacket looks like an overstuffed chair. The quilt pattern on the skirt reminds me of a handmade blanket thrown across the back of a couch. The dress on the right is reminiscent of an oriental rug.

These two are examples of unusual materials. The "stamps" are linked together, but with gaps between them. Appropriate undergarments are key.

This dress was made specifically for Cate Blanchett to wear at Cannes' film festival in 2018. There's an article about it in British Vogue. In this work, Katrantzou has started with a digital print fabric resembling a floral paint-by-number. The dress is then lavishly embroidered and embellished. This is one you need to see in person to appreciate the color and details. Talk about a party dress!

The SCAD FASH people have done a great job posing the mannequins in ways that are both expressive and complementary to the garments.

Running concurrently is Form & Function: Shoe Art by Chris Francis. You have more time to see this show, as it goes until 8 December 2019. Chris Francis is amazingly self-taught. Some of his designs seem almost like small architecture rather than footwear.

A sampling:

If I recall correctly, the one on the far left is inspired by The Varsity restaurant in downtown Atlanta. The range of materials and textures triggers all sorts of associations.

The pair on the lower left looks like a cross between a golf cart and a child's toy. And they seem simultaneously very cute and a little dangerous, as if the wheels would make the wearer unstable. The shoe in the upper right takes Gain detergent as its inspiration point. The shoe looks like a silly over-the-top magazine advertisement.

I love this one for its cross between I Dream of Jeannie and Dr. Seuss. It is somehow exotic, alien, 1950s, and oriental all at once.

Here's a good example of one that looks like an architectural model. I'm not a fan of Brutalism, but this works here. The shoe seems like a cage for the foot. And when I imagine wearing it, I imagine the heaviness of trying to move as well as the uncomfortable concrete and metal.

If you have found yourself stuck artistically, Chris Francis' play may push you out of your rut.

The final exhibit I want to review just opened tonight: A Taste of TASA: The Woven World. This is at the Mable House Arts Center, right around the corner from where I live. TASA is the Textile Appreciation Society of Atlanta. I am a member of this group. I sometimes refer to them as the group for textile patrons. While there are some artists in the group, the majority of the members are collectors. Many of them are well-traveled and have been to unusual places. This exhibit will take you around the world.

Some photographs:

Here's a wall of Indonesian textiles. Some are printed. Some are ikat.

These Asia textiles include exquisite embroidery. The red jacket in the upper left is layered with pearls and metal threads. The banner is also heavily embroidered and textured. The purses in the case at right are encrusted with beads.

Really, what can you say about an African tunic covered in porcupine quills? I guess it is the ultimate expression of "leave me alone." The Moroccan mantle at center is a complex weave with supplementary warps and weft to create the complex patterns. Bold Kuba cloth on left.

The exhibit is up until 31 October 2019.

For all of these, I've purposely refrained from showing you details. As with so many textiles, you need to see them in person to appreciate them.

And if that's not enough to do, this Saturday is Spin in Public Day. Trillium Vineyard in Bremen, Georgia, is planning a big day. Spinning, wine, music — it's all good.

No excuses if you need inspiration. And it's all local!

26 August 2019


We all have those moments when we don't think things through.

Right now, I'm working on a versa lace circle jacket. It is lace weight yarn on 60-inch Addi needles. Most yarn shops do not carry the 60-inch length. Even many of the online retailers either do not carry the length or they carry it only in the larger-sized needles. I, of course, somehow came up with a project that needed a couple of 2.5mm needles in the long length. I had to order them from Paradise Fibers in Spokane, Washington. Yes, even Webs (yarn.com) did not stock long Addi needles in the fine lace sizes.

I'm working on a versa lace project. I am knitting it center-out, growing the project to the desired size. The yarn is changing gauge when wet-blocked, so I'm dunking the project as I go and checking what size it really is. A couple weeks ago, I did this in the evening around 6 or 7 PM. I had three needles in the project — two of the working size and a third even smaller even harder-to-find size I was using as a stitch holder. Addi needles are so shiny and pretty I thought they had a special coating.

They don't.

When I went to bed around 11 PM, the needles had spots from getting wet. They were especially bad where the needles had been in contact with the damp yarn. I did not expect this deterioration in only a few hours. However, I really should have known better.

This is a magnified view after cleaning the needles with size 0000 steel wool.

The steel wool got the needles smooth enough and clean enough I could continue to use them for knitting. But I was annoyed at myself. And I was concerned that over time, the needles might oxidize and pit in the discolored places, creating damage that would affect their use. After all, the joy of Addi needles is that they are super slick!

After a few days of thinking about this, I remembered something about using jeweler's rouge to polish musical instruments. I went to my friendly local hardware store. The nice gentleman sold me something called rubbing compound. It is a pinkish-peachy color. Considering how little I need to use to polish needles, the $4 tub is likely to be a lifetime supply. I used a little dab on a soft paper towel. Here's the result:

As you can see, the needles are much restored!

Lessons learned:
  • If you dunk-block something with an Addi needle in it, wipe the needle completely dry and protect it from the wet yarn.
  • If you forget, a paper towel with a little rubbing compound can reverse your indiscretion.

19 July 2019

More Things to See

Here's an update to my previous post.

At this point, Small Expressions is on display at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. The quality of work is high. There is a nice range of weaving techniques — wedge weave, multi-shaft, tapestry, even some basketry and three-dimensional sewing. The exhibition is on display through Thursday 12 September 2019. You can view it:
Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
Wednesdays from 6:00 pm. to 8:00 pm and
Thursdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Also just opened at the DeKalb History Museum on the main floor of the historic DeKalb County Courthouse is Silk and Stitch. I haven't been yet; and I'm not sure how long it is up. The description indicates it highlights embellishing techniques in women's fashion from the 19th century through the mid-20th century.  Hours are:
Monday - Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and
Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

And a late reminder that tomorrow is North Georgia Knitting Guild's annual Beat the Heat Retreat from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. The event includes potluck food, knitting, mini-
workshops, and general camaraderie.

And farther over the horizon, Atlanta Knitting Guild hosts superstar Patty Lyons 6-8 September 2019. Patty is an excellent teacher who knows lots of subtle and obscure tricks. I've signed up for two classes. Follow this link to learn more and register while space is still available.

10 July 2019

Things to See Soon

There are several opportunities in the area right now to see fiber art on display.

The Prince Cherrywood Challenge 2018 Tribute Tour has been touring through the area. I first saw these on display at the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival back in March. These quilts were also on display at STITCHES United a month ago. Thank you to East Cobb Quilters Guild for one more opportunity to enjoy these beautiful art quilts! Right now, the quilts are finishing up a one-week run here in my neighborhood at the Mable House Arts Center. They will be on display for one more day on Thursday 11 July 2019 from 9 AM to 5 PM. There are actually three separate groups of art quilts touring the country. Follow the Cherrywood Challenge link above to see the places and dates. I may get to cross paths with the quilts again at STITCHES Salt Lake in early October.

There is a yarn bombing at the Rose Creek Library on Towne Lake in Woodstock. This is right next to Hillside United Methodist Church, where North Georgia Knitting Guild met for many years. The yarn bombing will be up at least until the end of July. Local crafters who meet weekly at the library have yarn bombed prominent locations, including the detection devices at the entrance and the blue man sculpture on the front lawn. My dear friend Betty Salpekar was heavily involved. She kindly showed me around. Much of the yarn in the installation came from abandoned or unfinished projects. Betty made "The Universe of Stories" panel to match the theme of the library's summer reading program. Much of that sleeve is made from leftover swatches — a knitter's sketches from her creative process. It was exciting to re-purpose these! When you see it in person, be sure to appreciate the ribbon yarn fringe and the turquoise corkscrew hair on the blue man.

The Handweavers Guild of America Small Expressions show will be on exhibit at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance from this Friday 12 July 2019 until Thursday 12 September 2019. Since the show isn't up yet, I don't have pictures to share. On the other hand, this also means you can mark your calendar for 6-8 PM this Friday evening to attend the opening reception! Hope to see you there!

25 June 2019

Vincent, 8 July 2003 - 25 June 2019

Who knew the physical embodiment of unbridled joy and unconditional love was a shaggy black cat?

In that miserable summer of 2009, something good happened. Scenter's cats/familiars came into my life.

They were already six years old. At the time, I remember thinking I would be replacing cats between the 2016 and the 2020 election cycle. I remember thinking if I could get ten years out of them, that would be about right.

Well, Brûlée checked out during the week of the 2018 midterm election, the very middle of the presidential election cycle. And now, I've lost Vincent as we come up on exactly ten years.

Having those two cats in my life made a huge difference. They taught me love was possible again after losing Copernicus and Sophia. When Cuddly Hubby went to work in another state in 2013, the feline contingent in our household was an important source of morale and support. Brûlée was the more extroverted. Similar to Copernicus, he liked to supervise suspicious humans. Vincent, on the other hand has been our big, black, shaggy ball of love. He has been my emotional support animal.

Both of them became my feline electron cloud — not always right next to me, but probably nearby drifting around the house in close proximity. Cuddly Hubby might be on the couch watching a football game with no cats in sight for a couple hours. I would walk in the room to ask him something, and within a couple minutes, two cats would appear. Then I might wander into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I would hear Cuddly Hubby counting down from the living room, "5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1. There are no cats in the living room." But there would be two cats in the kitchen, watching me make tea.

In many ways, Vincent has been the perfect lap cap. He liked laps, and would come greet me at the computer to be up in my lap while I typed. He would curl up next to me on the couch when I was knitting, or watch me from the couch while I spun yarn or wrapped holiday gifts. I joked that he loved crafts! Back when he could still navigate stairs and hop up on the bed, he slept in my arms most nights, just like a teddy bear.

Vincent greeted me. In the mornings, he would be ready for his morning tuna. His plume-y tail would be held high, and he would wave it back and forth. Back in the day, both Brûlée and Vincent would queue at the top of the stairs in the morning, and the three of us would be a little parade to the kitchen. And when we arrived, Vincent would dance around in a figure-eight — the bee dance — until the tuna appeared. Vincent showed his joy in life, and I showed my joy back to him. There were times when I came home, either from a teaching trip or from being out at a guild meeting or Mensa event, and as I backed down the driveway I would look in our big front windows to see if cats were waiting. When they were — especially if both were there — I would pause and take in the moment. Two happy cats to welcome me home. I was delighted to reciprocate the greeting. 

Vincent was definitely the keeper of the joy and the love. Although he was a black cat, Vincent was the opposite of ominous. If you had wanted to breed for personality, Vincent would have been your stud muffin. I wasn't sure why Bruce had given him that name. Then one day, I heard an NPR interview with Ron Perlman. He was talking about playing the beast in the Beauty and the Beast television series from 1987-1990. The name of the beast in that series is Vincent. In other words, this is somebody who looks scary, but isn't. Vincent also means "conqueror." He definitely conquered my heart.

Cuddly Hubby and I would joke that Vincent was the unplayable Dungeons and Dragons character — poor scores in Intelligence, Wisdom, Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution. (How he could have that negative modifier to Dexterity, we don't know, since you get a bonus to Dexterity just for being a cat!) His only good trait was Charisma. I would remind Vincent to please keep up the points in Constitution and to use his Healing Power of Love feat every day.

Vincent has has a legendary run in the bonus rounds. In 2012 he came down with pancreatitis. I took him to the veterinarian on a Monday and he was on intravenous medication until Friday. But he bounced back. In 2013 he had a series of seizure-like episodes, the very first one being about an hour after midnight on the new year. They became less frequent and ultimately went away. In 2014 Vincent suffered a serious vascular issue in his back, causing paralysis. We gave him medications for months on end, slowly tapering them, and he recovered. He has suffered relapses over the years; some of which were worse than the original episode. I originally wrote this post in December of 2015, during a very bad relapse when I thought Vincent had reached the end. He even had a one-day recurrence of seizures on a Friday in 2016 when it looked like he might not last the weekend. I never set foot in the man cave in 2016 because every time I was about to leave, Vincent had a relapse. But then we found the magic pharmaceuticals. Vincent went through all of 2017 and three-quarters of 2018 without a relapse. He went eleven months without being in the veterinarian's office. I am very, very grateful for the good year that was 2017. But I've lost track of the number of times I've given Vincent the "goodbye" speech.

Vincent suffered a relapse in October of 2018. For the last eight months, he has been just barely nominal. Some days were good — he could get around and was interested in eating and soaking up love. He even managed a new adventure — a two-week trip to the Maryland man cave so I could see Cuddly Hubby and attend Maryland Sheep and Wool. Other days were not so good. Like Copernicus before him, he became expensive and inconvenient as he needed more medications as well as weekly physical therapy. I became both his care giver and a knitting teacher with a travel schedule that took me out of state eleven weekends in the first half of 2019. On at least one teaching trip, the cat sitter made visits three times a day. But Vincent had such a wonderful temperament that he took it all in stride, charming the veterinary technicians and the Maryland cat sitters. And there were times when I came back after teaching where he curled up in my arms at night and purred and purred and purred; he was so grateful I was home.

Quietly, Vincent has persisted. His mobility reduced with each relapse. Accommodations were necessary. I added two pet gates to prevent Vincent from attempting stairs, when it became clear those were no longer safe. I moved the litter box from the basement to the main level. Then I replaced the box with a shallow tray when Vincent couldn't get over the lip. He became the furry turtle — capable of moving from one place to another but never quickly. Still, he would see me in the den, walk all the way down the hall, down the one step, and put his front legs up on my bench to signal me to pick him up and put him in my lap. He learned to use a step stool to get up and down off the couch. I would sit to watch television or knit, and Vincent would come over to slowly and carefully climb up to be next to me. He became a second shadow. I began sleeping downstairs on the living room floor in January, since Vincent seemed to do better the more time he spent with me. But I could also see he was in his hide-y hole more, eating less. Weight was slipping away. He had good days and not so good days. His veterinarian mentioned that if he were human, he would be using trifocals. Age was overtaking him.

His body became more fragile everywhere, except his heart. His veterinarian, Dr. Friedlander, would examine Vincent and listen with her stethoscope. Then she would remark with just a hint of surprise that his heart was still strong. Of course it was! That's where he put all his build points. He was all about the love!

Brûlée and Vincent connected me back to Bruce. I have nothing of Bruce's stash or knitting, not even any of his single socks from the sock guild, as he seemed to get through one sock a month but not the full pair. His solar wind sock on display at The Whole Nine Yarns was destroyed by moths and sunlight. But for almost a decade I had Bruce's cats. I still had that connection, however tenuous. Now they are gone, too. My grief is a big knot of the loss of Bruce and Brûlée and Vincent. I need to remind myself the love is real, and those connections are never broken, merely less obviously displayed in the physical world. But I also know there can be love again. Brûlée and Vincent showed me it was possible. I will always be grateful for that important lesson.

And now, they have both been returned. Thank you, Scenter, for allowing me to borrow your knitting-compatible familiars.

I've already started my journey towards new love. The eras of my adult life:
Copernicus & Sophia:  August 1989 - June 2009
Brûlée & Vincent: July 2009- June 2019
Ozymandias & Ramses arrived on Sunday 2 June 2019.

Thank you, Vincent, my beloved love bug, for lasting long enough for me to begin the new journey. You will always be dear in my heart.