Friday, October 25, 2013

A bed, a dog, and a car

You know that thing that happens when you're watching a show on Netflix (does anyone watch network TV now? We watch TV by picking a show and watching an entire season in a weekend) and the Doctor Who episode comes to an end and as the credits of the episode you were watching and were DEFINITELY going to go to bed after seeing roll, they've started the next episode in the other half of the screen. Before 5 seconds have gone by you've been sling-shotted into another 45 minutes just to see what happens. They're damn smart those TV people.

That is kind of how life has felt recently. Flung from one thing to the next. Putting out fires. Ignoring others and hoping they don't do more than smoulder for a bit. Some of it is trying to busy my way through missing my old dog Cassy. Some of it is trying to stay ahead of the metric ton of entries for American Tapestry Biennial 10 for which I am one of the co-chairs (you can still enter! See details HERE). Honestly, I am waiting for my personal server to crash in the last week before the deadline.

I went to the vet today to pick up Cassy's ashes. I was trying valiantly not to cry so the receptionist could actually understand why I was there without a pet in tow. When I left with the surprisingly heavy tin, I was digging in my jeans for a tissue, and my mind ran off again to the car parked next to mine. It was a silver Subaru Crosstrek.

One particular bit of paranoia has surfaced since Cassy died. See, exactly 14 years ago, I bought my first real adult bed (I had just ended a long sleeping-on-the-floor-because-it-was-good for me phase and I was single and hopeful--I bought a queen), adopted my dog Cassy, and bought my first car all within a few months of each other. This past summer the bed was replaced, the dog died two weeks ago, and so it is hard for me not to think that the car with approximately 244,679 miles on it is the next to go. The problem is, I'll need my next 259 paychecks all at once to drive home that little silver AWD hatchback without a car payment (I'm opposed to car payments). Good thing I fixed my bike today.

After flying through the card aisles at Target (baby shower card in Spanish), I have been trying to finish the piece that came off the loom a few days ago. Feeling both blessed to be in my own studio right this moment and also like I am soon to be launched into the next Doctor Who episode and there is nothing I can do about it, I keep sewing in the ends. Practical or not, I am a woman who sews in her ends.

But life can go on just like that. We run from one thing to another so fast we miss the details. I think being an artist probably means you have to pay attention to the details. How can you create if you can't feel? How can you feel if you're watching the next episode before the current one is over? All well and good to say, but how does one simplify it all? And how to pay the rent and still have time to smell the flowers? I'm sure there is a way and in one of these episodes I'll discover it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yarn Balance

I've had this little clear plastic box in my collection of weaving stuff for at least a decade. Now, by "collection of weaving stuff", you could perhaps think of boxes of accumulated stuff that "I might need one day" but really never use. Including the tension box for sectional warping (no, I'm not getting rid of that), assorted rolls of velcro and trim (some inherited from people now dead), large long boxes full of various sticks, dowels, raddles, and temples (and no, I never use them), antique weaving bits of this and that salvaged from my grandparents "collection of weaving stuff"... oh heck, the list could go on forever. Just ask my studio-mate. If you bribe her with kaffee und kuchen she might whisper how much stuff I have (and I wouldn't blame her one bit). Nah, I take that back. She is un-bribeable.

Anyway, the clear plastic box. Triumphantly, I finally had a use for it (after scrambling through cabinets for a good 10 minutes looking for it which really makes me cross). I have a two-fer collection of Brown Sheep rug yarn which I have finally come to grips with. (Two-fer meaning it fills two of those large plastic tubs that most people store Christmas decorations in in the garage but I have full of yarn). I can now stand before you and say honestly that yes, I am a yarn hoarder, but I am in recovery and I am getting rid of those two huge tubs of Brown Sheep yarn. The problem is I didn't know exactly which yarn it was. Thus, the yarn balance.

Here it is. A rather simple device actually. The little plastic arm has a small metal rod through it that sits in two divots in the top of the box after you take the lid off.
It is used to figure out how many yards per pound a certain yarn is. I think it is peachy of them to use pounds. They could just as easily have used grams. I don't quite understand why yarn labels are always giving the weight in grams but the length in yards. Isn't that like speaking two languages at once?
Anyhow, the way the thing works is you cut a piece of the yarn in question and loop it over the notch in the yarn balance. Then you snip off little pieces until the arm is level.
Then you measure the piece and multiple by 100 to get yards per pound. (The photo below is deceiving. After a few trials the yarn averaged out to 660 yards/pound.)
As long as I use the yarn balance at least once a decade I can keep it, right?

PS. If you're interested in the large whack of Brown Sheep yarn on ebay, go HERE. The current auction ends Thursday 10/24.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Connie Enzmann-Forneris, Double-Woven Rugs

Canyon Road in Santa Fe is something of a tourist destination. Perhaps that is why I don't go there often enough. I live here.
Canyon Road is almost completely lined with galleries of all sort. This past week I finally found a little time to go to Marigold Arts and see Connie Enzmann-Forneris' show of rugs. It definitely made me realize I need to spend more time wandering up and down Canyon Road.
Connie's work is amazing. I very much wished I could have come home with this piece:
Cross Plains, 44 x 58 inches
Here is a detail:
Cross Plains, detail
I was really captivated by Connie's use of ikat. Her colors were gorgeous and designs so simple but engaging. Here are a few more photos.
Hawk of the Wind, 44 x 75 inches
Hawk of the Wind, detail
The piece below grabs you when you come through the front door. I don't know if it will still be there when you go and see the show as I can only image these rugs are selling quickly. But the glowing feeling of this piece is stunning.
Angel Fire, 44 x 76 inches

Step to the Sky, 32 x 61 inches
Eagle Nest, 32 x 63 inches
I love Connie's use of pick and pick in conjunction with ikat. She had some marvelous printed books which showed her technique. And in one of them she was weaving on a Harrisville Rug Loom just like mine! The pick and pick technique with the colors of the ikat mixing across the rugs are just so enchanting. Go and see this show if you possibly can! It is up until November 4th at Marigold Arts, 424 Canyon Road, Santa Fe.

A note on the photography: These photographs are just snapshots. These weavings are of the highest craftsmanship. They are all perfectly square with gorgeous edges and a heavy hand. Sometimes the photographs are taken at an angle and make the work look off-kilter. Believe me, they are not. They are perfect.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

What is precious in your life?

I have had the privilege of spending the last 14 years with a sweet even-tempered yellow labrador that I named Cassiopeia when she came to live with me at 8 weeks old. She has been my best buddy in so many ways for a very long time.

Last week she started having more trouble breathing and walking and we returned to the vet for better pain control. A simple x-ray told us that she has cancer and a huge mass in her chest which was impeding her breathing. She probably also had bone metastasis which was causing nerve pain. Very suddenly, my dog who is always wagging her tail and ready to catch a frisbee or ride in the car, was not happy. She wouldn't eat an apple core, her favorite, (though she did accept a McDonalds quarter pounder with cheese--but who can blame her) and needed help to get up to go to the bathroom. Never in her life had she refused an apple core (or any food really except sometimes spinach) and I knew that things were getting rough for her.

It is hard to lose such a good friend. She loved the most to lay under my loom bench while I was weaving. The photo above was taken last week on her last visit to the studio. She lay there all day only getting up once to greet some visitors before laying down again.

This is the dog that hiked the entire Colorado Trail with me in 2003, Denver to Durango. She walked 500 miles with a pack on and while she did need some encouragement to get going in the morning for the last 200 miles, she still wanted to play frisbee at the end of the day. She carried her own gear the whole way.

Here we are at the end of the trail in Durango. I think we all lost about 10 pounds. This is my sister and I and Cassy who was mighty glad to be done walking.

 I knew which photo album had the pictures of her as a puppy because the corner is chewed.
She grew quickly! Learning to heel was a tough one. But for her entire life she loved to go hiking with me. We walked miles almost every single day of her life and I credit this exercise to her long life and good health (and hopefully mine).

She was lucky to get to spend her later years with Emily who lavished her with attention (and salad). Emily is a veteran dog-lover and Cassy was her star recipient.
We had a good run. I miss her horribly. I keep thinking I hear her in the house.
But I am glad she isn't in pain anymore and the lessons I learned from having her in my life are innumerable.

Buen Viaje Cassiopia.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alphabet Soup hits Santa Fe

I was able to go and visit the Alphabet Soup tapestry show at the Santa Fe Public Library, Southside branch this morning. Although I wrote a blog post about this Alphabet Soup show HERE, I had not actually seen it in person until today. It is a joint venture between two weaving guilds in northern New Mexico, the Las Aranas Weavers and Spinners Guild and Las Tejadoras Fiber Arts Guild. They wove small tapestries with letters of the alphabet (really you should go look at that prior post as the photos of the group and some of the close-ups are great!).
I had not been to the Southside library before. The added benefit was that I came away with a library card and some Spanish language DVDs. All in a days work, I say.
Please keep in mind that these images are snapshots only. These are beautiful tapestries and these snapshots can only give you a general idea of what they look like. If you can possibly go and see the show, please do!
The spread of the small alphabet tapestries
Here are some closer shots of the panels.
I posted many pictures of the small tapestries in the earlier blog post. But here is one spider I really loved today.
"T is for tarantula", detail, Mary Colton
I was so pleased to see the other stunning pieces displayed in addition to the alphabet tapestries.
My World, Evelyn Campbell (top left) and Mary Colton (right). Memories of Mitla, Ann Shafer (bottom right)
Vision Quest, Sharon van de Velde; When the Ocean and Desert were One, (top) Elizabeth Buckley; Desert Memory, (bottom) Elizabeth Buckley; Red, Black, and Gold (Fractured Square Series), Donna Loraine Contractor; Broken Steps, Alex Lear; Once There Was a River II, Mary Colton
New Mexico Waits for Rain, (top) Janice Thomson Peters; Sagrado Familia Capilla Near Black Mesa, (bottom) Evelyn Campbell
Balloons, Cindy Dworzak; Navajo, Klagetoh Style, Lavonne Slusher; Morning Patio, Mary Cost; Edges and Ledges, Donna Loraine Contractor; School of Thought, Heather Gallegos-Rex; Revelation, Letty Roller
And a few closer looks.
Once There Was a River II, Mary Colton
I love this piece by Letitia Roller. I have seen it other places and I feel like it needs a large grand wall for display. It is simply gorgeous and unfortunately is partly hidden behind a shelf in the library.
Revelation, Letty Roller
Revelation, detail
As a tapestry weaver, I frequently find myself looking at the technique in a tapestry. I have always used Donna Loraine Contractor as an example of someone who uses dovetail joins very effectively. I had to really study this piece because I was convinced at first they were sewn slits. But I think they are expertly done dovetails. Pretty amazing.
Edges and Ledges, Donna Loraine Contractor
Edges and Ledges, detail
And I love Mary Cost's work. Here is a piece I hadn't seen before.
Morning Patio, Mary Cost
Morning Patio, detail
And someone near and dear to my heart partly because she was working on the concept for this piece in James Koehler's studio while I was struggling with my own tapestry demons, Evelyn Campbell.
Sagrado Familia Capilla Near Black Mesa, Evelyn Campbell
And since this is Balloon Fiesta week in Albuquerque, go see Cindy Dworzak's Balloons. It is so much fun!
Balloons, Cindy Dworzak
See my prior post about the Alphabet Soup tapestries with some great photos taken by Dan Klinglesmith on my blog at:
And if you go and see the show, leave a comment below to tell me what you think! I will have to go and have another look before it comes down.

UPDATE 10/14/13: The Alphabet Soup show will be at the Southside Library in Santa Fe at 6599 Jaguar Drive through October 30th. It will hang at the Fuller Lodge Art Center in Los Alamos, NM January 31 to March 15th, 2014.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Taos Wool Festival 2013

I enjoy going to the Taos Wool Festival the first weekend in October every year.
 I like seeing all the critters.
Okay, this one wasn't exactly part of the festival. He was just down the street.
Navajo churro sheep waiting for her turn to be sheared
Alpaca are so adorable

I enjoy catching up with my fiber friends, acquaintances, and idols at the festival. I always visit the booths of Fred Black, Bettye Sullivan, and Taos Fiber Arts (aka Julie and Ashley Cloutman). This year I added Cat Mountain Fiber Arts to the list of booths to make sure to visit (see my blog post about Kimberly HERE).
Fred Black's booth--He also sells his work at Taos Fiber Arts and Tierra Wools
Bettye and Alex Sullivan's booth, Walking Rain Studio. Bettye also sells her work at Weaving Southwest.
Taos Fiber Arts booth--check out their shop in Taos!
Cat Mountain Fiber Arts--check out Kimberly's store in Alamosa, CO!
And of course there were some beautiful things for sale.
Here is a rug woven by Bettye Sullivan which won a first place ribbon.
The big news though is that I didn't buy any yarn. Not. One. Skein. 
Amazing, right? I'm not sure what came over me, but I didn't come away with any treasures. There were plenty there, but none called to me enough to add to the stash. I think, to be perfectly honest, I had my heart set on another skein of yarn from Brooks Farm Yarn in Lancaster, TX. And they weren't there. Nothing could fill the void in my heart (except perhaps a Fred Black rug which I didn't have the ready cash for).

There are two reasons I try not to miss a Taos Wool Festival:
Number One...
 And Number Two...  Because I am a:
(which quite frankly leads to all kinds of issues and odd behavior including hiding your stash in the piano bench and feeling an irresistible urge to touch the angora bunny fiber even though I don't spin at all).

The festival continues tomorrow in Kit Carson Park. Go and pet some angora bunnies.