Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.

2 Comments:

Snow day! Yay!

(I have an "Ice Morning" myself - the roads aren't safe to go out on so they canceled all morning classes)

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009  

What you do when your truck battery is dead on the first snowy day of the winter





I love good exercises and these dvd's from Simply Painting are Simply Perfect!

posted by Bess | 2:40 PM

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Monday, January 26, 2009  

Art and Sons. Two good things to have around the house.



Thank you thank you to everyone for the kind encouragement and compliments. I indulged some more over the weekend and had a tremendous good time.

I come from an artistic family, all of us with half our brains in our fingertips. My mother, in an effort to keep competition at bay, indulged each of us in only one branch of the arts. Mine was music and I wasn't given any encouragement to try any other art form. Of course all of us were taught to sew and she did help me in my first and monumental disasterous venture into knitting when I was 17, but the sewing thing was an economic issue. Clothing – decent clothing – used to be an expensive part of people's budget. With the advent of the global clothing market decent, if not haute couture, is available to all for very little.

I didn't pick up a paintbrush till 1989 when I began working with low fired clay ceramics. My particular interest was in gaily painted dinnerware and we still eat off the plates and bowls I made back then. In the very early '90's I realized that wet clay had pretty much the same consistency and absorbency as paper and tried my hand at a few watercolor paintings. I don't know why I stopped – well. Yes I do. I went into such a black spiral when my PerfectAngelBabyDarlingOnlySon graduated from high school I didn't do anything but make the people around me miserable. When I climbed back out of the black pit I didn't have any desire to make anything and it wasn't until I took up knitting again, just before the century turned, that the creative juices began to flow again.

I suppose it was only a matter of time, hmmm?

As for the ugly baby aspect of first attempts (note the giant skier in the picture above - half a mile behind the front one and just as tall!) - that is the hazard of being an adult. Kids don't care. They love what they do and love that they can do it. It's only us goofy grownups who think that if we can't do it perfectly the first time we are failures or have no talent. That's why I am sweeping S along with me. I know I was afraid to jump back into watercolors on Friday morning so I was pretty sure she was scared silly. I asked her and she laughingly admitted it. But she's game. She ate a cricket last summer, too. She knows I won't ask her to go someplace really dangerous and if she comes along with me, she'll probably like who she is even more than before she started the journey.
The other triumph of the weekend was the completion of my Adult Surprise Sweater! Yippee. Here is an interesting view of the back sleeves. I didn't block it because it just didn't seem to need blocking. I'll block it whenever I wash it.

We've had LD home for the weekend – always a pleasure and often an inspiration. He's so vigorous and full of energy and he sees all the things his settled, frumpish, lazy parents are letting go around here ... like TheQueen's horrible garden. A tangled overgrown mess of vinca, weeds, blackberries, and trumpet vines. It had gotten beyond my ability to repair pver the past few summers and little trees were popping up here and there – a serious problem since it was built over the drainfield.

“It's a perfect day to burn the garden”

“I can't. There are too many things buried under all that tangle.”

“I'll do it all”

Long pause while I bid adieu to the last remaining rose bushes and whatever daffoidils are already up.
“Okay”

The project ended up getting most of the yard raked too – a bonus. And now I can get Clyde's son down here to till the whole thing up and what ever's down there be darned. We'll just start anew.

posted by Bess | 6:00 AM

3 Comments:

That's lovely!

By Blogger Catherine, at 9:45 AM  

What a fantastic thing to do with friends! I love the picture...I love watercolors!

By Blogger jane, at 10:01 AM  

Very nice painting.

I find I have real problems with "first efforts" not being perfect...now, as I'm learning to play the piano, I wish I could feel that kind of love and ownership for my imperfect renditions of things.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 1:35 PM  

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Sunday, January 25, 2009  

Always something going on down here



Lawsee! It's Sunday already and all the horoscope gurus are clamoring about the New Moon eclipse in the sign of Aquarius coming tomorrow. Typical of the advice I've been getting since Christmas is this from MsHoroscope: The eclipse makes today a GREAT moment to set your intentions and make your wishes for the coming year.

Since they have been telling me for weeks that this is the time to make Great Strides towards healthy living, I will share, tomorrow or Tuesday, my grand scheme for better living. Just the thing for January, hmmm?

In other great things I have at last picked up my watercolor paints. They're so old they're almost dried out. Happily these pigments respond to – guess what? - Water! So it's just a matter of digging the colors out of the tubes. Some are still as good as new and I see I really do need to get another Paynes Gray. But otherwise I have been enjoying becoming reacquainted with an old friend.

There is something of a back story to this which, being TheQueen around here, I'll share.

I have an employee who has an artist's eye. She does not come from a background that embraced art, or even dabbled in it. Her modest beginnings were too busy taking care of other essentials. But now in mid-life she has started reaching out in ways she'd never dreamed of as a young woman. I've noticed her flair for displays, for photography, even for fashion; all things which hint at a longing for the beauty with which art fills our life.

Last fall we got in some new dvd's about watercolor painting. I'd been looking for something for the beginner and Frank Clarke's Simply Painting dvd's looked like just the trick. I took home the first one, watched it and instantly felt the itch to pick up brush and paint once again. I also knew that two of my staff needed to see this. One already paints but could use a bit of loosening up and the other just needed an opportunity to try. One morning we were all there early and I loaded this disc on the projector and we all watched a lesson. Then I was sure. Somebody was going to get a paint kit for Christmas and we were all three of us going to sit down and paint these lessons. I needed it to get me back into the groove, D needed it, as I said, to loosen up, and S needed it, and the moral support of painting buddies, to get started.

We scheduled last Friday for our first class and all of us got there early only to find that the projector had been lent out! What a hoot – we'd booked the room but not the equipment. We hardly ever lend out the projector but we will do so, to organizations and county departments. It was a bit of a flummox, but we were, after all, in a library and would not be daunted. We used one of the watercolor painting books – which was not so easy for a class since we were all painting the same thing and had only the one photo to look at. But it was a start. And we booked the room AND projector for next Friday.

So.

Here is my first effort. Full of blotches but, like my ugly handspun yarn babies, precious to me because of what it represents.


posted by Bess | 7:27 AM

5 Comments:

Congratulations on a job well done! It is beautiful. Knit on, Ramona

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:40 PM  

That sweater is absolutely gorgeous! You have inspired me to go stash diving again!

/Diann

By Anonymous diann, at 9:47 PM  

Oh, it's so pretty! I just love the way all the colors came out to one beautiful rich hue! A long journey, but worth it. I predict you will get compliments every time you wear that sweater. :)

By Blogger cathy, at 12:53 AM  

Oh, it's beautiful! And very inspiring for me to finish my never-ending EZ saddle shoulder sweater.

By Blogger erica, at 4:05 PM  

Bess, notwithstanding the tweaking, it's gorgeous! Bravo!

Hugs,

By Blogger Marg, at 11:28 PM  

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009  

I'm alive




Just doesn't seem that way. Life has kept me busy and work has sucked me up - this is the third week of January, when my library board has it's quarterly meeting. A lot of little meetings lead up to the big kahuna meeting of January 20 - a day nobody wanted to be at a meeting.

There has been knitting though, in TheCastle. With great perseverance I slogged away on those few inches of sweater sleeve. I found, as the fabric of the sweater grew it took on a color all its own, so that what began as a random selection of coordinating yarns eventually insisted upon being a color and the last few stripes required a lot of thought. As I ran out of one yarn I had to find something that worked from the second string skeins. It became harder and harder to pick and easier and easier to pretend I wasn't a knitter. Over the weekend I summoned the discipline to finish those sleeves, seam them up and begin the miles of i-cord bindoff. That went faster than I had anticipated and ostensibly the sweater is finished.

Only I decreased stitches across the back neck and it's too tight now. I'll have to rip out and re-do about half the i-cord. Fortunately, that sort of knitting is fun. But I don't want to block this sweater till it's done, so I won't have a final photo till the end of the weekend. But for the patient who have long awaited my stash busting Elizabeth Zimmermann Adult Surprise Sweater

TA DAAAA!



posted by Bess | 8:11 PM

1 Comments:

Oh but you must remember that some of us who read you are coming in through Bloglines. My stats are down too but I haven't had much to say. One of the dangers of writing in a journal every night, not enough to write on the blog.

By Blogger erica, at 4:02 PM  

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Saturday, January 17, 2009  

What the Bird Family has to say on this cold Saturday morning

Honestly. It is too cold to write out here in this frosty room. But I did get a chuckle when I read the data on Statcounter dot com about this blog. There's very little traffic here, but TheQueen does show up now and then when people are doing key word searches on google etc. And a recent search?

Bad Latin Teachers

Somehow this just tickles me.

so, dear hearts - put on your sweaters and mits and stay warm. brrrrrrr.

posted by Bess | 8:09 AM

1 Comments:

I need you to put your blog on Ravelry so it shows when you post -- I will read every time promise ;) for some reason it doesn't show up anywhere for me... and I forget my name so I surely can't remember to check blogs unless it pops up in my face

By Blogger rho, at 8:47 PM  

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009  

Stars in the sky!


You are about to overcome an obstacle that has stood in your way for ages. It may be no different but finally, you are at a point where you can adopt a more constructive attitude. There's a Solar eclipse on due on 26th January. Be ready for this life changing astrological alignment...

The star advisers have been warning me about this eclipse for a long time. Be ready for life changing success, especially in the areas of health and daily work. And I can believe Stuff Is Coming just by looking at the trail left by stuff that has already come. MsHoroscope says to play this weekend because I'm about to be flooded by daily werkwerkwerk. Being a Virgo, with Saturn in my sign right now, this is not a daunting thought at all, but rather a bit of comfort to my put-it-away librarian's soul.

Being January, one of the most thought filled and creative months of my year, I've spent some time devising plans for making use of this starry situation, but you will have to wait until after the 26th to hear my plans. ( I know you are waiting on pins and needles )

So.

What have I been doing with this brand new year? Still working on that ASS. I knit away on those sleeves, basted the long seam together and tried it on. Happily it fits. It needs 3 more inches on both sleeves which are almost done – maybe 6 more garter ridges on one sleeve. Happily the yarn feels yummy, even against my skin. Happily it has the look of clever creative artist to it. Sadly – the diagonals blossom out right where the matronly part of my round body need the most disguising. But hey – I don't really care. I knew it was unlikely to be a flattering garment on my body type. This is a wearable art statement, not a fashion statement and certainly not a hot walking away body costume. I will wear this sweater because I love the colors and I'll wear it to impress other knitters. Unlike D's Dramatic Wrap which elicits whistles from construction workers, this is a bragging sweater for a knitter.

I make no promises about photos of a FO because I've yet to fulfill all the other ones I've made, but I will offer you some spinning photos.



I don't remember when I purchased this vivid handpainted silk.


I have 6 balls of carefully stripped fiber, all wound so that I could, if I wanted to, ply to maintain the color changes. I'm not much of a Navajo ply fan. I can do it but I don't like how it looks. I've only seen one sample of NP yarn that I admired. So care mus be taken up front if one wants to ply two singles together and match up the colors. Let us hope I have taken sufficient care.

I didn't have a penny this morning or a dime or whatever - but here's a shot of the control yarn I keep tied around the Mother-of-All.


Here's a closeup of the singles on the bobbin. I tried to capture the shiny but at least you can see the tiny.

posted by Bess | 7:54 AM

1 Comments:

Ha! You're right, it does look like the witch. But she's a very elegant looking witch. :)

By Blogger cathy, at 12:53 AM  

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Monday, January 12, 2009  

What the Bird Family thinks of Nicky Epstein's Knitting On Top Of The World




and no. I did NOT finish the adult surprise sweater. I made progress, but it isn't finished. And now it's monday and mercury is going retrograde and I must werkwerkwerk this weekweekweek.

And of course, I frittered away knitting time making silly photos of my alter egos.

And I must go in early to work - so - TA.

posted by Bess | 7:03 AM

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Saturday, January 10, 2009  

A bedroom with a view



Mine. This morning, in a beautiful early morning blue sky, I managed to catch one of the eagles, looking for some breakfast.



Personal grooming



Oooo. Looks like some fish!

posted by Bess | 6:39 PM

2 Comments:

Go, Bess! Can't wait to see it all done. Nobody's going to notice those tiny flaws -- there is no Knitting Inspector. Just wear it joyously and show off all those wonderful spicy colors. :)

By Blogger cathy, at 8:43 PM  

Thanks Cathy. That's what I'm thinking - who's going to notice. Even the blip on the edge where I picked up too many stitches can be concealed when I knit up that long sleeve seam. The whole sweater is bound off in I-cord trim which will take a while, but I believe I can get to that point this weekend. Photos on Monday?

By Blogger Bess, at 7:15 AM  

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Friday, January 09, 2009  

Proof of Life


and proof of knitting


Sorry for the long silence. I am having an existential experience with that adult surprise sweater. It is making me what I am – a frustrated knitter. It is showing me who I am. An anal colorwork freak. It is going to be finished this weekend by gum or by golly. Fer cryin' out loud!! There are only 6 garter ridges left to knit on one sleeve. Then seam, edge, block and wear. I will finish it at least up to the 40 miles of i-cord bindoff by Sunday.

“Proof? The proof?”, you ask.

Well, here is a photo of the short rows at the elbow – the sloppy one on the left, where I did the wrap'n'turns to close together and the neater one on the right. Hey – they'll be in the crook of my elbows. Who will ever notice? Also see.... on the left I picked up too many stitches. That may be a problem, but let's see when I do the long sleeve/shoulder seam.

posted by Bess | 7:50 AM

1 Comments:

Ah, Dear Bess! A lovely thing, Freedom -- which is indeed yours, when you discover the paradoxical truth: that it comes with consequences and responsibilities. May you have the joyous Freedom of this discovery all through 2009!

Hugs!

By Blogger Marg, at 10:02 AM  

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Saturday, January 03, 2009  

It's Resolution time for two thousand and nine.



I should never assume I know myself completely because at that very moment a surprising discovery will completely change my self definition. For something like 46 years – since that is as far back as I can remember making resolutions in January, I have looked forward to, prepared for and savored that first January afternoon when I would sit down and make New Year's Resolutions. Lovely lists of the things I want to do Lists for self improvement. Lists for health. Lists on colored paper to that get cut into strips and pulled out of a jar to inspire creativity.

And here on January third of 2009, I am without a list.

It isn't that I don't have any desire to improve, to experiment, to explore. I am looking forward to the thrilling gift of 365 days with which to play and indulge and soar. Perhaps it is because there is already so much waiting ahead for me in January – and February and, by golly, every single month, week, day, minute of 2009, that there isn't enough paper to put everything down on a list.

So much already lies ahead in 2009 and so much more is bound to develop. It all deserves something better, something more encompassing, than a mere list and while browsing around my favorite blogs in December, I discovered just what I was looking for. M has chosen a Word of the Year for 2009: Dare. Following her links I ran across a full description of the concept here. But to put it succinctly, the idea is to find a word – an ideal, actually, that drives everything else I do throughout the year; a defining word combining spur, definition and goal for everything I do. A word that defines, not what I will do, but what I am.

I grasped the concept instantly. I cast about for a word and the one that instantly came to mind was Freedom, which, given the schedule that was already unfolding before me as early as the first of December, seemed an odd choice. I tried to switch to something better, something easier to apply, but Freedom insisted that it was the word that was going to govern my world this year – and I was going to be glad of it. So I just let Freedom make itself welcome in my daily routine (just in case it got scared by what's already in the daily planner) and trusted that if it hated my life it could go be inspire someone else. And then, yesterday in the shower I realized exactly why the word Freedom has sat down in my lap, taken my face in its hands, stared me in the eyes and insisted I let it be my guide.

And since this is TheQueen and we all know She is a story teller, you, dear readers, will get the back story.

Many years ago – maybe 20 – I was asked by a school committee to give a speech on What Freedom Means To Me. Now, I have always lived in the US. I've always felt that I could do pretty much anything I wanted to do. I had no stirring tales of resisting oppression, protesting the tyrant, fighting for my freedom. Oh, there are certainly enough platitudes about Freedom to fill a dozen forgettable speeches, but I don't like to bee ess little kids. What could I tell them about Freedom that would be compelling but true? And then I remembered.

Ahh yes. I remembered. Drug from the cavern of childhood memories I remembered having to clean my room. My dad was such an drill sergeant about our rooms that he'd even yank open our dresser drawers to see if the socks were lined up straight. Countless Saturdays were sacrificed on the alter of Cleaning My Room and I swore that when I grew up nobody was ever going to make me clean my room again. Yep. When I grew up I would have the Freedom to leave my room any way I wanted.

And I did grow up. The calendar is always the friend of youth if it will be the enemy of age. And I went off to live in the dorms at American University while playing violin in the first season of the Wolf Trap Farms resident orchestra. I was 18. And there was maid service. And nobody to make me clean up my room. And a long-suffering roommate. And so I did not clean my room the entire summer I was there.

Another bit of Freedom I indulged in, though I was living in Washington D.C., was to go shoeless as often as I could – which, with some subterfuge, was most of the time. It was 1971. Even ritzy expensive Georgetown was in dabbling with a little hippie fling. By stooping a little, I managed to walk barefoot on stage at those bi-weekly orchestra performances.

But there came a day when I had to pack up my possessions and that's when I discovered I had lost all my shoes. I don't know what happened to them. I know I'd started the summer with at least a pair of sandals and some sneakers. Where they ended up is anybody's guess. I was headed north to Philadelphia to buy a new violin but the Greyhound Bus service wouldn't let you ride barefoot and I began to have serious doubts about traveling barefoot through a new city. And what if Mr. Keller wouldn't sell me a violin if I was barefoot?

Fortunately I had a sister living in Delaware and I hitchhiked to her house and borrowed a pair of shoes from her, but the rest of that trip I had time to think about all that Freedom stuff. Because I learned that summer that with Freedom comes both responsibilities and consequences. Sure. I can be free to leave a mess around me, but if I do, if I shirk my responsibilities, I better be prepared to walk home barefoot.

It was my first serious step towards growing up. I did plenty of stupid childish things after that summer, but I don't suppose I was ever quite so irresponsible again. As for Freedom being the touchstone, the guiding principle for 2009, I think it's the perfect choice now. I want that Freedom. I want the Freedom that comes from being healthy. I want the Freedom to take up any opportunities I encounter and that only comes from being prepared. I want to be Free to take my work projects as far as they'll go, which means I must stay on task. And I want the Freedom to play when the work day is over, which means I have to focus at work, not fritter or scatter or dither.

Yep. I'm ready for the responsibilities of Freedom, so I can savor those delicious consequences.

May 2009 good things happen to you this year. That is my New Year's Wish for you.

posted by Bess | 10:01 PM

2 Comments:

Happy new year 2009 dan salam kenal..

By Blogger faridah, at 9:22 AM  

Happy New Year to you, too, Dear Bess!

Hugs!

By Blogger Marg, at 3:32 PM  

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Thursday, January 01, 2009  


posted by Bess | 6:49 AM
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