Chicanas Making Art, Making Story
By Amelia M.L. Montes
Reporting from two places this week: San Antonio, Tejas and Lincoln, Nebraska. This past week-- in San Antonio, Tejas, I was very lucky to spend a late afternoon/evening in Chicana writer Dr. Norma Cantu’s graduate seminar at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA). What an animated, smart, passionate group of graduate students. Orale! We were all quite involved with the discussion on Cherrie Moraga’s new book, A Chicana Codex of Changing Consciousness.
A Chicana Codex of Changing Consciousness
While various ideas and perspectives were expressed, my eyes kept focusing on the swift-moving hand gestures to the right of the table (note the picture below). Those hands are Rita Urquijo-Ruiz’s hands: knitting!
Dr. Norma Elia Cantu (Chicana author of Canicula and countless edited books) —leading her graduate seminar at UTSA. Notice Rita Urquijo-Ruiz’s quick knitting hands on the right-hand side of the table.
Chicana academic and performance artist, Rita Urquijo-Ruiz was knitting a gorgeous brown winter scarf during the entire graduate seminar while also contributing brilliantly to the discussion. She, like me, was a guest that night. I had brought my writing materials. She brought her knitting loom and yarn. I kept watching Rita’s fingers move up and down the loom while students quoted, argued with, questioned Moraga’s words. <
I don't understand how people can keep up the tweets. In the interest of sparing you the boring minutiae of my life, I took a hiatus from the blog. But I'm back!
With no news!
Well, a little. I went to a fabulous extravaganza called Vogue Knitting Live in New York a couple of weeks ago, where I practically swooned from the sheer sensory delight of being surrounded by yarns, knitted garments and knitters.
But you don't care about that. How's this? Amy, my pseudonymous book doctor, is, as we speak, poring over the last third of my book with an eye to jazzing it up, as requested by VERY complimentary agent. I await her sage counsel.
AND....I have finally, really and truly, in earnest, started my screenplay. It's fun, and funny and I'm grooving right along. Almost finished with the outline, next I have to write a "treatment" (yes, I am up on my Hollywood lingo).
Oh, and one more thing. Yesterday, I turned 60.
In knitting, sometimes you have to undo a large chunk of a project (or the whole project). This is called frogging (because you rip-it, ha ha ha). So, drawing knitting and adorable amphibians? Just my thing.
Fun fact: the half a sweater I used for the reference photo? Yeah, I had to frog about 7 inches of yoke. I should probably use this power to my advantage and draw someone signing a book contract.
As writers, we spend most of our writing lives in solitude, working alone, lost in imaginary worlds that take us far from our homes, our friends, our communities.It can be daunting, not just the work itself, but the intense solitude that comes with the work, despite the pleasure that the words bring and despite the satisfaction that comes with telling a story, if only to one’s self.But sometimes
I bet everyone has seen brick-a-brac at yard sales made from plastic needle point canvas. In face you may have a Kleenex box holder lurking in your house made by your aunt Bernice. And I have to admit I never gave needlepoint much thought. But I'm loving this One Step camera created by Nicole Gastonguay. Ah, I loved my One Step camera when I was a kid. In fact, I just recently passed my One-Step down to a young friend and photography enthusiast who is still using it.
Check out the rest of Nicole's gallery. The jar of pickles (is that crochet?) is just too cute.
Yay! Yesterday it was 100 degrees, and today its raining. CrAzY! But I love it.
Its been a funny week. Not 'ha ha' funny, just all over the place. Plumbing troubles (which got fixed, thanks to some nice guys ~ thanks Nice Guys!). Started some new art, which isn't showable yet. Found out I will be included in a sort of trunk show in October, and am expected to have a lot of knitting to show, so that's what I'm back into today.
SewingKat2 included me in her etsy Treasury today. Look at all that gorgeous knitting!
Thanks Chantal! (I'm in the top row, center ~ my Garden Court scarf).
The cats are all squirrelly because of the rain. They go out, then come right back in, and want to be entertained, but I'm not in the mood. Ahh, kids. I wish I could give them crayons or something. ha
OK, so that's it for today. Nothing too exciting, just wanted to check in. Knitting a "Gingerbread and Fog" scarf which may go into the shop this weekend, depending on the lighting for taking pics, and a few other things. Some hunter green tweed wool is up next, and I think I'll do something really complicated with that. We'll see.
Been busy with lots of different things. But that's good, it keeps life interesting.
First up, a building rendering, work in progress. Its barely started, just doing the first pass of sky and trees. I'm trying to work top to bottom to minimize smudging as much as possible.
This is Polychromos on Stonehenge, about 8 x 11 or so. It has an 'artistic' crop, with the tree leaves extending out past the rectangle of the picture. Not much to see yet, but be patient!
Then onto the art show this weekend, and matting and framing some prints. I have no idea how this show will go, or how many people will attend, so am not going 'all out' for this one. Once I get a feel for it, I will know better how to gauge things for next month.
In case you're in the area, its the 2nd Saturday Art Walk here in Sacramento, and this is in the Arden Arcade area, rather than downtown. It will be at La Casa Plaza on Fair Oaks Blvd (near Howe) from 4 - 7. There will be music and a potter doing a demonstration, which should be fun.
I've also been knitting, and have two more pieces in my shop.
Both are 100% wool and knit with a different cable design. Filbert Steps is finer and "drapey", while Embarcadero is thicker and chunky.
I've just been invited to participate in another
holiday arts and crafts fair, this one in Davis. Let's see, that makes - SIX! between now and Christmas. Holy cow. Well, it is the season, I guess I should go for it. We'll see. I'm honored to be invited, its just tiring, you know?
Oh! I forgot. Did you know that American Artist Magazine has a new website which is officially called Artist Daily
, and they have art forums now? I signed up and have done a quick peruse - looks like a good place to chat and discuss art.
From there I've discovered there is now a Society of Pen & Ink Artists
and also an International Charcoal Artists
So that's what I'm up to.
Have to go get ready for Jim and Pam's wedding!*
*on The Office
After all this spinning, I thought I should do a bit of knitting. So what did I do? Knit something with yarn I bought at the Royal Winter Fair.
It was a soft squooshy 100g skein from Sonny's Llama Farm. I found it in a basket at the Llama display. Now that I'm on Ravelry, it has changed my knitting. It's so great to be able to look up an item and find lots of patterns, even free ones, and then see what it looked like when other people made it.
This hat is my first Ravelry project! Here's the link:
but I think you may need to be a member to view projects on Ravelry.
The pattern was for a slouchy hat but I didn't have enough yarn, so I shortened it to make a regular hat that would use up my skein as much as possible. Finishing a project and having just a short tail of yarn leftover is one of my big thrills in life. I love this hat! The pattern calls for worsted and my yarn was aran weight (a bit heavier) so it turned out really warm and squishy. Also llama yarn can be super warm, so the eyelets should help. The pattern is so easy, once you do the four rows for the first time, you can see where you are and carry on without looking at the pattern. And the eyelet mock cable stitch is very pretty.
In case you're not on Ravelry, the free pattern is here. I made another change in mine which was decreasing in the pattern. I thought it would look nice if I did that, especially as mine isn't slouchy. Here are my notes on that:
Note: I started decreasing after 5 1/4" instead of 8 1/2"
I changed the pattern so that it decreased in the pattern instead of all knit. It worked really well by ending on Row 3 of the Eyelet Mock Cable stitch, then decreasing as follows:
Row 1: K, YO, K, P2tog
Row 2: K3, P1
Row 3: SL1, K2, PSSO, P1
Row 4: K2, P1
Row 5: K2TOG, P1
Row 6: K1, P1
Row 7 on: same as pattern.
So as I mentioned before, I was frantically spinning before the holidays to make Bradley some handspun, handknit socks for Christmas. I had bought a 1/2 pound bag of roving from Romni, thinking that I would have plenty for maybe 2 pairs. Or at least a pair for him and a smaller pair for me. Or something like that.
Anyway what happened is it took forever
to spin a 1/2 pound bag, and I ended up with just one pair of socks and a tiny batch of roving and a tiny ball of yarn left over. The big thing I learned is that I bought a bag of roving
, and realized later that it was actually roving, not the lovely smooth combed top
that is often sold as roving even though it's really top. I'd heard about this distinction but I didn't really know what it meant until I tried spinning with the roving.
The difference seemed to be that the fibres were shorter, with some tufty bits that were fine as it gave the yarn a tweedy look, but also lots and lots of vegetable matter (vm). In case you don't spin, this is basically little bits of dried grass, twigs and bits of burrs that the animals have gotten caught up in their coats. Some people put covers on their sheep to avoid this, but there's still always some in there. Anyway I was picking out vm while spinning, then while winding onto bobbins, then while plying, then while knitting, then after washing the socks. Kind of tiresome.
However, I'm not complaining about what I was sold, because I did get 1/2 pound of merino for only $15. Which is a very good price for that much soft merino. And now I fully appreciate the difference between roving and top.
The other thing I learned is that this roving seemed to require a different kind of spinning. The short fibres didn't hold together in the same way so I was letting twist up into the fibre source which is more of a woolen method of spinning than worsted. (Worsted is a way of spinning so that the fibres align and it creates a smooth yarn. With woolen spinning the fibres criss-cross and this creates a fuzzier, airy yarn that is very warm. Not to be confused with worsted weight
yarn, which is a medium thickness of yarn.)
After letting twist up into the fibre, it was like pulling the yarn out, and by doing it at the right rate given how fast the spindle is spinning, you can make an evenly spun yarn. I found it a bit lumpy but I ended up doing a 3-ply so it averaged out a bit and was fine. 3-ply also creates a rounder looking yarn, as opposed to the beaded look of a 2-ply.
So doing a (non-navajo) 3-ply was the next new thing I was trying. I wound the yarn onto bobbins after spinning a full spindle, then used a tip from a commenter (thank you Rachel) to create a lazy kate using a cardboard box and some knitting needles. (Another tip is that you can just ply off spindles if you have enough of them to do that.)
Then I plied the yarn until I was left with some leftover singles (it's hard to wind 3 bobbins of singles and have them come out even). I realized I could wind a leftover single back onto the spindle and spin a bit more. And basically drive myself crazy trying to make it come out even. Which in the end I practically did. Not that I recommend being that obsessive it... suffice to say I was winding back and forth several times.
So after all this spinning (and washing and drying the yarn) I wanted to make the socks using the same nice sock pattern
I had used for mine (pictured at the top on the left). This is how I adapted the pattern for men's socks:
- Larger needle: US size 7&nb
I've been meaning to make this for ages! It's a new case for my Boye interchangeable circular knitting needle set. The case the set came with was a bit yucky - plastic slots and an ugly brown vinyl cover.
Lately I finally figured out how to sew a wallet, and realized afterwards that the needle case would basically work the same way. You sew the dividers onto the lining first, then afterwards sew the lining to the outside (leaving a gap) and turn right side out and press. Adding extra layers and dividers is just another step but the basic idea applies.
Lately I've been enjoying combining different prints, so for this case I used a combination of polka dots, faux bois and a floral all in green. I'm also loving lace right now, so I embellished the outside with some white crocheted lace.
This set has needle sizes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11, 13 and 15, so I have a slot for each of them, plus a large slip pocket for the cables, and three small pockets for the extra bits that come with the set. To figure out the right width for the slot for a pair of needles just measure the diameter of each needle and multiply by 4. For mine I added an extra 2mm to this measurement so the pockets aren't too snug.
While I was making my case I cut out fabric for a second one so that one is going into my shop
p.s. I've renamed my shop, so now it's called NeedleBook. I didn't realize when I created my username for Etsy a long time ago that I would open a shop later on, and that my shop name would have to be the same as my username. If you have this problem, there's a great article here
that describes how to rename your shop. It's a bit of work but I think it can be really worthwhile if you're not happy with your shop name.
By: linda sarah
Blog: travel and sing
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Bubs learned how to finger knit on YouTube. Ahh. Technology. He made this flower after we watched this tutorial.
And, now that the snow (Oh no! Not snow!) has arrived, my fingers have been busily making hats.
This bottom one was way cuter in real life.
These hats are loom knitted. (I purled the bottom few rows and knitted the rest.) The flowers are crocheted. I learned how to make them on YouTube, too. Here's the link
, if you're interested.