Sunday, May 17, 2015

Waves of Color and Other Ideas that Work.

Sometimes a word strikes me, sometimes a theme, sometimes a color. In April I was struck by a big box of yarn from a friend. I was even blessed with a few one pounders. And so it came about that I named April 7 "Geranium Day" in tribute to red yarn. Bears 364, 365, 366, and 367 are the result.

There is still a whole lot of red yarn left, but I needed a change of pace. The next group would be predominantly blue. Meet Bears 368, 369, 370, 371, 372.

Then I went with a three color scheme that included pink, yellow, and orange for Bears 373, 374, 375, 376, and 377.

By then I had gotten a bit tired of limiting colors and wanted to try something different. Checking out google images I came across an advertisement that said "Adidas Redesign 2013." Sometimes my ideas come from a quick glimpse of a photo. Often I don’t know if it will work for a Bear. Then I print out the picture, stare at it, squint at it, begin to knit, have lunch with partial Bear and design, and maybe, just maybe, it will work. Such was the case with Bear 378. At first I was excited over starting him. But then I had to give him a rest for a few hours. Do I want to make a group of basketball players? Hmmmm……….

Another thought quickly attached itself to the ballplayer idea. What about a basketball hoop?

Oh well, I had to yarn-bomb some PVC pipes to get there, but the idea stuck.
But the boy looked a bit underdressed. He needed a baseball cap. Yes, I know, I am mixing sports. Boys will be boys.
I am working on boy number two now. A while ago I had lunch with him. He suggested a playground.

Soon I will be on my way to Home Depot to find a slide. You haven't yarn-bombed until you have yarn-bombed a slide on a playground.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What my mind ponders while I knit.

It begins with brushing my teeth in the morning. I trust that everybody who works on my water system has made sure that it is potable. My morning oatmeal is not poisoned- that is another assumption I make without even paying attention to the fact that I make it. Later, my car is part of a traffic system that is properly coordinated. I enter a building which has a roof that will not collapse just because a few workers were tired and sped up the process by skipping an important procedure and tossing three boxes of nails into the trash. Nobody in my ordinary day cheated in a task performed. Not a single person, though maybe a few had bad days, risked my safety by using a short cut. Thank you world. Thank you people. Thank you for not messing with my trust.

Recently I read a book about a woman who lived in a war torn country. Nothing could be taken for granted in her life. Streets were blown away by bombs so she had to take a different way to the grocery store. When she arrived she could not depend on full shelves and a selection of goods. At home there often was no electricity. The water might be shut off. Or it might contain contaminants. She could not trust that anything she encountered today would be the same tomorrow.

How does the human mind deal with this? Do we go crazy? Can we adjust? Do those who are exposed become hardened? Do they become desensitized? Rebellious? Sick?

How do I prioritize my responses? What loss do I mourn and which senseless act do I sweep under the rug? Whom do I hate? And whom do I pull more closely into my corner?

Behind everything stands a human being. At least one. Probably a group of them."They" don't take into consideration my well-being when they act. Or do they? Which ones do?

And, if I get on an airplane tomorrow morning, expecting to be at my destination some eight hours later, what are my chances that something in the long list of events surrounding my flight will go wrong? Let's say that the copilot, who smiled at me when I walked past him on my way to my seat, lets say he suddenly, about two hours into the flight, has an uneasy feeling. He tries to dismiss it; he has had this experience before and knows how to deal with it. Only this time it doesn't go away. He happens to be one of "these people," the ones who are, right now, being discussed on TV shows everywhere. He has periods of depression. Everything looks bleak. Well, you get my point .... What will his next step be?

All of this was brought to my attention while I was knitting this morning, with one word - TRUST. I can only imagine how difficult life would be if I didn't trust that the majority of issues are in good hands.. And yet, the only person I have control over is I. Which puts all ethical responsibility squarely on my shoulders.

".....and," she said, " a silent wind swept over me, brushing my cheeks ever so slightly, reminding me to be good. As if it all had started with me and would, forever, be up to me to do the right thing."

With this little paragraph it felt as if I had resolved all problems. My thoughts went back to the Art Bears. Today is the last day for the project and I think that I need to write about the group that I finished.

In my last post I discussed Bears Jackson #350, Marcia #351, Linnea #352, and Cinnamon #357.

Bear #353, his name is Anselm, came to be Anselm Kiefer's muse for a day at the museum. (Remember, this is my little game to get as many Bears knitted as possible) Anselm tries to interpret the landscape that is his favorite, a brownish earth with pink and blue flowers.

Bears 354 and 358 adore Paul Gauguin. They always act in unison, like twin sisters. They want to show us the boldness that is Paul's landscape. They are Pauline and Paulette.

Bear 355 is named after Franz Marc. Her colors are probably best described by what he once said, "Today we are searching for things in nature that are hidden behind the veil of appearance. We look for and paint this inner, spiritual side of nature."

Bear 356 is MiniMe. She wants to be a reminder of my much younger self, when I played at being a painter and happily danced away the nights.

Bears 359, 360, and 361 are Ophelia, Penelope, and Quiturah. They say they are their own art piece, daring in color and spirit.

Bear 362 is the Little Prince from Antoine de Saint Exupéry's book, the first book I read in three languages, French, German, and English, while I was still in school.

And finally, the last Bear in this group, Bear 363, Adanna, is dedicated to color. She embodies the happy spirit that seems to be in all children, and certainly will be in the child who will become her friend at the end of her long journey to Africa.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

#whitecinnamon - A Disturbance at the Museum


The first Art Bears have found their way into the museum. Jackson, as planned, was the first one to arrive. He is tall, very enthusiastic, and a great "Muse for a Day." I tried to give his body the same feel as his hat, which meant I had to leave some loose ends and had to weave them up and down and across, just to get rid of the normal orderliness of knitting. Jackson Pollock, after all, is known for splashing his paint around.

Next came Linnea. I think Linnea is delightful. I love her story "Linnea in Monet's Garden" and in order to create her in the image of the original in the book, I gave her some black Hair. To allow her to bring some of Monet's color to the museum I let her pick flowers in the garden. That's why her apron pocket is overflowing.

After Linnea there was a disturbance in the line-up. Mini Me interrupted, she insisted on trying on all the hats, and was standing in front of the mirror for the longest time.

Of course I didn't finish her yet; because ..... somebody else showed up, totally unexpected.
Cinnamon barged into my world in an unorthodox three tiered white dress and the demand to be included in the museum trip. She is nobody's muse and therefore there is no official painting that she follows. But I allowed her in, along with her hand-written statement. She is only eleven. She is a photographer and she is a child of the modern world. She made her intention to be part of the group known by announcing it on Twitter under #whitecinnamon - giving her name as Cinnamon White and her art as photography.
Which made me ask myself the question "is photography art." To which she only shrugged her shoulders. I decided to ignore my own thoughts for now.

Only one more muse has arrived since then, her name is Marcia. A Marc Chagall enthusiast.

There is still a variety of hats available and I must keep on knitting in order to fill them with Bears. Who will be next? I will let you know soon.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Forgotten Bears

Before I begin to write about the new project, the Art Bears and their day at the museum, I have to check on all the Bears waiting to be shipped to Minneapolis. I get very excited when an interesting theme floats around in my brain, and I tend to forget about prior work. Anyway, here are four more Bears, two couples who need to be presented.

Couple 1 - Jamaica and Kalamu
Couple 2 - Langston and Nikki

Friday, February 27, 2015

Two Hat Patterns for a 12" Mother Bear

After knitting six hats for the art bear project I was asked if I would post the patterns. Here are two basic hat patterns, one for boy bears and one for girl bears. My bears seem to be on the large side so you might want to adjust the number of stitches. There are many ways to embellish these hats. A ribbon. A flower. Striping. A pompom.

Beanie for Mother Bear (boy)

I use #6 DPNs and Worsted weight yarn
Cast on 35. Join
(I sometimes knit one, purl one, for a few rounds)
Rounds 1 to 17 - knit
Round 18 - Knit 3, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (28)
Rounds 19, 20, 21 - knit
Round 22 - Knit 2, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around, (21)
Rounds 23 and 24 - Knit
Round 25 - Knit 1, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (14)
Round 26 - knit
Round 27 - Knit 2 together all the way around. (7)
Gather the remaining stitches with an embroidery needle and pull thread tight and secure

If I make a pompom I tie it to the loose end very tightly with several knots - from the inside.


Brimmed Hat for Mother Bear (girl)

(this is more rounded than the boy’s beanie at the top)
Cast on 35 - Join
Rounds 1 to 17 - knit
Round 18 - Knit 3, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (28)
Rounds 19 - knit
Round 20 - Knit 2, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around, (21)
Rounds 21 - Knit
Round 22- Knit 1, knit 2 together. Repeat all the way around. (14)
Round 23 - knit
Round 24 - Knit 2 together all the way around. (7)
Gather the remaining stitches with an embroidery needle and pull thread tight and secure.

Crochet Brim
Round 1 - Single crochet into 35 stitches around edge of knitted hat. Place marker.
Round 2 - Single crochet in first two single crochet. Two single crochet in next single crochet. Repeat all around.
Round 3 – Single crochet in each single crochet all around.
Round 4 = Single crochet in first three single crochet. Two single crochet in next single crochet. Repeat all around.
Round 5 – Single crochet in each single crochet all the way around.

For a rolled edge (no brim) I knit 20 rounds instead of 17 and roll the first three rounds up.


Art is seen - Art is experienced - Art is recreated in a different form

I woke up with the word ekphrasis stamped onto my mind. Once I was fully awake I realized that the upcoming challenge fits nicely with this word. In March the Mother Bear Project group will knit and crochet "art bears," bears that are somehow connected to art. Muses, maybe? Artists? Interpretations of paintings? Sculptures? Music?
For days I have been gazing at online paintings, have scanned books about some of my favorite painters, Gauguin, van Gogh, Franz Marc, Walter (and Margaret) Keane, Chagall, Picasso, Anselm Kiefer, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Monet, Manet, Degas, Georgia O'Keeffe, Frida Kahlo. I have looked at colors, lines, shapes, and themes. I have selected the first six paintings to be used in the project. And I have knitted six little hats that demonstrate how I see them.

It is easy to interpret Paul Gauguin; his colors are pure; his subjects are females, they look secure in their environment. It seems a bear could just wear a bright, hot pink dress to make Gauguin happy.
It gets more difficult with Pollock. His paintings strike me as loose ends spilled on a canvas, stirred and frozen in time. Well, clearly, a bear cannot be imagined consisting of loose ends. He needs to be knitted into a coherent pattern and he needs to be molded into the formula that made Pollock successful. And the lines must be more than the straight lines of knit and purl.
What about Franz Marc? His colors are as bright as Gauguin’s. He painted animals. He painted the Blue Horse. Maybe all I have to do is to twist primary colors into shape. But then I remember how short his time on earth was, how war took him away and confined him to greys and lingering darkness spreading across the sky. I suddenly see the snowy winter morning that brought me to Kochel and the graveyard where Franz Marc and his wife lie side by side.
Then there is Marc Chagall! A canvas dipped in shades of blue. A red sun with a white halo. But, the soul is, as it usually is, in the detail - little spots of color, bunched together like tiny spring flowers - faces peeking in from the blue universe – a looming torso – and the city of Paris below.
Of course Anselm Kiefer is muted in his colors, a vast streamlined mass of brown, little pink and light blue flecks of life and light, red accents, dullish cream, long, narrow converging lines. I didn’t know Anselm Kiefer in my early life, though he lived close to my home town. He is still a stranger to me, even after I have stood in a museum in front of his larger than life paintings for long periods of time.
My favorite for this project, at this moment, is Monet. He has already been recreated in a little girl's mind. I am speaking of the book "Linnea in Monet's Garden." I have, once before, dressed a doll like Linnea and think I will use her image again, except that I will add Monet's watery greens and blues by giving her some of his flowers. It is a delight to knit her brimmed hat – it is more colorful than the original - and to add a few strands of black hair. Linnea takes away my need to speak to Monet. Speak about him. She seems to know him well enough.
If I find time I will have to interpret Vincent. I really think my project would not be complete without Vincent van Gogh. It was only two years ago that I got lost in his starry night. That I romped through his wheat fields and sang "Sur le pont d'Avignon. There must be at least one sunflower left in my repertoire.
And if I explore van Gogh I must not forget Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Simply because he was ahead of his time. Or because I met his art in Vienna? Or, maybe, because he was a wild man? I wonder what Regentag would look like in bear format. Would it be Dunkelbunt?
If there is time I should also knit bears to honor my favorite ladies, Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo. Georgia, forever stamped into the red earth of the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. And Diego's woman, Frida, the bearer of too many crosses.

Am I getting carried away again in my fantasies? In reality there will probably not be time for more than six art bears in March. I should make a list of things I can cancel to allow for more knitting time. Things like vacuum cleaning. Pulling weeds. Folding laundry.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tschüss Pine Tree on the Hill Behind My House!

Next Tuesday they will come
With spikes and chains and saws,
And corporate authority.
They will behead you,
Slice away your shriveled limbs,
Guide your trunk
Into the empty spot
Between my house and shed.
They will shred your branches
Into new, sustainable adventures,
Sweep and blow away from me
Your familiar, scented needles.

You were a seedling when I saw you first,
Almost thirty years ago.
You grew bold and tall and spread your wings.
You shaded friends and teddy bears,
Entertained feral cats, raccoons, and skunks,
Allowed squirrels to roam freely,
In joyful leaps and calculated chase.
Your crown was the kingdom of the mockingbird.
And when all was quiet
On sunny Sunday afternoons,
I watched my mother floating past you.
She wore a purple gown.

But in recent months
You turned sullen - pale and brittle;
You missed the rain.
Or, maybe, you were just done with tree life.
I am afraid of you,
The way one is afraid of lovers
Whose souls refuse us harmony.
I no longer seek my bed
When dry winds storm.
They make you sway in desperation.
Tschüss dear pine tree on the hill behind my house;
I hope they chip you into happy little pieces.