Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Falling (back) in love with red

  Autumn is a particularly good season to appreciate red. I used to adore the color red. When I was a student, it was my signature color—I had a favorite red shirt and a terrific red felt hat that I wore a lot.
More recently, I have had a problem with red because of its increased pervasiveness in Madison. On any given day a significant percentage of Madisonians dress in Badger red, the UW's official team color. It's a very specific red (PMS 200) and there are official guidelines on how to use it. On football game days, there can be over 80,000 people in the stadium dressed in red—if the opposing team is Ohio State, which also has red as their color. That's just way too many people to be wearing the same color, especially the identical shade of one color.
   And yet...red is a lovely color that can light up the scene.
 Let's not forget that red comes in many varieties.
I can't stay mad at a color forever, so I just knit some red socks. They remind me of raspberry jam, not just because of the color but also the nubbly texture of the lace when not on the foot.
 I'm not ready to buy a bunch of Badger gear, but I do love my new red socks.

Knitty-gritty: I knit my socks with Cadmium Red Inspire yarn by Blissful Knits and Dyeworks of Portland, Oregon. The socks were knit on size 0/2mm needles in my standard toe up pattern, using a 4 row/6 stitch lace pattern sometimes called Stem Stitch. You can find instructions in
More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My feel good pillow

  The community read book this fall for the University of Wisconsin Madison was Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario. I love taking part in the UW's Go Big Read because each year features a thought provoking book. It's exciting to go to the author talk and be with hundreds or even thousands of people who have read the book.
   This book recounts the dangerous journey many Central American children make to find and reunite with mothers that are in the US. Most of these mothers left their children because of crushing need. They plan to be gone a year or two and return with money saved up to make a better life in their home country. Unfortunately, it's common that they have so much trouble making enough money that they are gone many years. The book recounts the harrowing trip that children make, facing many dangers and even death. It's a difficult book to read, but I think, a very important one in understanding the complex issue of illegal immigration.
    On Ms. Nazario's web site are links to organizations that are working to help people in Central America. I decided to make a small effort to improve someone's life by buying a pillow from Honduras Threads. This non-profit is helping Honduran women create coops that make fair trade embroidered pillows so they can make a decent living without leaving their families. My pillow came recently and it not only gives me a good feeling but it's also really beautiful.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thinking about art

   This week we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. First stop was the restroom, where I found this flower arrangement in their very stylish facility. (Mr. Rududu reports that the mens room was without flowers. I would suggest that womens rooms should be furnished with more things of interest since we seem to spend so much time waiting in line in them. I digress. There was no line at the museum.)
 Both restrooms featured Louise Lawler’s Bird Calls, a sound recording of bird sounds. Most of them seemed to be of parrots saying or attempting to say words. It was a great addition to the room. Perhaps art should be installed in all museum restrooms.
   Most of the museum's current exhibits are about minimalist art and its heirs. I generally prefer art works that you don't need to read the info tag to begin to understand, but even with this cerebral approach to art, there were many pieces that I loved looking at. For example, there is something lovely and fascinating about the soil samples from below Chicago in Alan Sonfist's Earth Monument to Chicago, 1965-77.
The museum also has a solo exhibit of work by Ron Terada, a Vancouver-based artist. I found this wall-sized piece of advice thought provoking. Interestingly, by searching the internet I learned this sign (or one like it) was installed at one time on a building in a rather lonely looking place. In that location it looked considerably more sinister, more of a warning than friendly advice.
The nitty gritty: For those who wonder, the museum bans flash photography only and guards witnessed me taking photographs. If you visit the museum, I highly recommend its Wolfgang Puck restaurant.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feeling blue (in a good way)

I just finished a lovely little shawl with some Italian mohair. I was worried about having enough yarn so I knit faster than usual. (We all know that uses less yarn...) It only took me a little over a week to finish the shawl and I had twice as much yarn as I needed.
The pattern by Maggie Magai is a free on Ravelry. Part of the reason that the shawl knits up quickly is that the center is all stockinette with the lace confined to the edge.
I love the color blue. Fortunately it stays with us even in the late autumn.
The knitty-gritty: Two 25 g balls of Kid Silk Five knit on US #4/3.5mm needles. Changing to a larger needle and using a very stretchy bind off was a great idea.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two sides of the ball

   A fun thing to do when stitching a temari is try different things on the two hemispheres. On recent balls, I tried using the same colors but in different sequences. Just like in Fair Isle knitting, it's amazing how using the same colors in a different way changes the look.
 I went from dark to light and from light to dark for my roses.
I stitched a five pointed star with the same colors but with one interlocked and one layered.
The nitty-gritty: The stitching instructions for these balls can be found in Japanese Temari by Barbara B. Suess. The color choices are my own.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A parade that is its own audience

A few years ago we discovered that there is an annual Halloween parade in front of our house. How we lived here for over twenty years before finding out about a annual parade with hundreds people in it is sort of mysterious.
Also mysterious is who organizes the parade and where they go afterwards. Here's what we know: there are a few signs around the neighborhood announcing when it will happen. It has nothing to do with trick or treating. They walk the length of the park we live on and then they go somewhere else. We don't know where.
   There is virtually no gathering of an audience. How can we gather if there is no publicity? I guess that's not the point: it's for the fun of getting dressed up and walking in a big group. Somewhere. Some year I will find out when it is, get in costume, and walk along to see what happens. There are a lot of very small children with parents but there are some unaccompanied adults as well.
   Again this year we happened to see the parade just by accident. I liked the accordianistas that had a Day of the Dead vibe going. (For the most part, the parade is very quiet.)
 Here's a family of bees attended by their bee keeper. I'm not sure why he has maracas.