Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fall Madonna


It feels a little funny to work on this fall themed piece when we're having unseasonably hot weather in in California, but over the weekend I added this embroidery to the Madonna. You'll notice that the two sunflowers on top are darker than the one on the bottom. I have gel pens and I'll use them. Actually, I'm trying to see if I can use up the silk ribbon I have and not buy more, but I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and get some more ribbon for this piece. I don't mind buying it, but I have to order it on line, since none of the stores around here carry it.

I need a couple of more orange roses for this piece, and when she's appliqued to the background, I'll fill in with beads. I'm very proud of my corn, but the ones on the bottom need fatter kernels.

Next, I'll work on a fabric collage on a very special background. That will probably wait until after I shake this flu. Yes, I have the flu. Again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Watching Yarn Dry


I've developed a knack for reclaiming yarn from thrift store sweaters. There is an excellent tutorial on how to do this here. Now when I breeze through the thrift store I look at the sweaters with a new eye. There are plenty of natural fiber sweaters in good shape to choose from around here, mostly for under $5.

The yarn in the photo is from a 100% cotton sweater in a heavy worsted weight. The sweater's been unraveled and the skeins have been washed to take out the kinks. I had to hang these skeins for about a week before they dried because cotton holds moisture, but wool dries much more quickly. I'm using old shower curtain rings and a coat hanger to dry my skeins. I love the color of this yarn, but the sweater was practically new due to an unfortunate design. "Ah ha!" I thought. "I can fix that."


I think this is the third sweater I've "
upcycled." I like this term: it conveys the idea that you can make something even better than the original when you re-use an item. I've invested in a swift, courtesy of Ebay. It wasn't very expensive, and these are manufactured in the the U.S.


My ball winder is from Jo-Ann.com, on sale.


These new tools allow me to turn an old sweater into cakes of yarn that look new, so it's fun to use them. I'm planning to knit a summer stole from this yarn.


Here's the original sweater's label with the re-wound yarn. Cheap thrills.

And Debra and I are embarking on another Madonna project. Wait until you see what we're up to.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The First Suit


I spent this past weekend on a trip with my son Alex, who’s graduating from high school in June. We went to visit two colleges where he’s been offered admission, and to buy him his first suit for graduation.

The college visits went well: we learned what we went to learn. One school he’s excited about, and the other not so much. As a back up plan he’s also been admitted to the university where I teach. But for an 18 year-old young man straining for independence, there’s something anticlimactic about going to your mom’s school. It’s an option, however, if he doesn’t get housing at his #1 choice.

It’s a treat to get one-on-one time with the boy-man. We spent some of the long drive listening to hard-core music (or whatever it’s called) until my nerves and eardrums couldn’t take it any more. We talked about the future. I made myself let him drive on the long straight parts of highway. He’s going to have to know how to do these things soon.

As a young person who wants to leave our small town for the big city, actually seeing the possibility up close is an eye-opening prospect. Like the best cultural critics, he noted that so much of California is an alternating pattern of highways and strip malls so that people are locked into a rhythm of mobility and consumption. That’s my boy, smart, insightful, thoughtful. He’s also a talented musician, writer and speaker.

The suit has been part of an on-going discussion. I want Alex to take a portrait for graduation, and I wanted to buy him dress-up clothes. He resisted at first. Unlike his sister, he’s not a clothes horse. He likes to have only exactly the number of plain t-shirts, un-logoed sweat shirts, and jeans that he needs to get through to the next laundry day. But gradually he started to like the idea of a suit. He can wear it to teen court, a local program where kids who get into trouble at school are tried by a jury of their peers and are defended and prosecuted by teen “attorneys.” Alex has been invited to play the attorney role. A suit finally sounded like a good idea.

And so we went to about 3 Target stores until we found one that had his size jacket and matching pants. He picked the blue shirt and the stripped yellow tie. He picked out dress shoes and a belt. When we got home, he took off all the tags, Googled instructions on how to knot a tie, and at 10 pm, posed for this picture. The suit is a celebratory outfit for high school graduation and he’ll wear it for his senior portrait. It’s also a test of the adult identity that is coming, little by little, slowly but surely, whether we’re ready or not.