Monday, May 23, 2016

Time is the Most Valuable Commodity

I have been selling my time, as Kurt Vonnegut described having a job. I am working for the census, which has sucked up an enormous amount of energy and my precious time. I haven't had much time to stitch even, but I have completed the white porpoise, complete with unseemly breasts. I wonder if Louis Nicolas actually saw a real woman's breast, being a priest and all. His image is like a naughty school boy's, but I am pretty sure he was trying to be scientific.
Continuing in the realm of biology, hundreds of tiny golden spiders appeared on my jasmine the other day, rappelling up and down their silken threads. The next day they were gone, leaving a puff of gossamer web and the jasmine unharmed.
 I have started stitched the great whale - just working on the spout right now, and her Cleopatra eye.
So much is calling for my attention these days: work, dogs, garden, art. I have an unscheduled day off and was ready to fly out the door and down to Victoria to see the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, which I only found out this morning is on tour across Canada! That didn't work out after all, but I will go on Saturday before the exhibition closes.

This too might make it into an embroidery:
"You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love." - Louise Bourgeois

Saturday, May 07, 2016

The Vacuuming Can Wait

La Maison de Louise Bourgeois (2016). Hand embroidery on vintage linen, 24"x 16"
About a week ago I read this article about Louise Bourgeois's New York house, which has been turned into a museum. Apparently it has been kept as she left it:

A sense that at any moment Bourgeois might walk through the door is heightened by the atmosphere of bohemian dilapidation: Surely this place is in no shape to be seen by anyone other than its owner. Crude patchwork testifies to the cave-in of a plaster ceiling. A two-burner gas hot plate that fills in for a stove and an ancient television that stands next to a small metal folding chair further the impression of a home not ready to receive company. “I’m using the house,” she told a visitor, when she was in her mid-70s. “The house is not using me.”
As soon as I read that line, I thought "I must make that into a sampler." And I did, putting aside all the tidying and organizing that needs to be done before my new roommate arrives next Thursday. I hope she understands.

The piece went directly into a new show at Twin Beaches Gallery featuring many of the textile artists on Gabriola. I'll post pictures of the show soon!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

La Petite Balene

 La petite balene, or the small whale, is done. She's quite the girl, with her wing-like flippers, powerful waterspout, and, yes, breasts. Louis Nicolas made a detailed mention in his notes of how the whale's young would cling to her bosom as they swam. At that time (late 17th C.), whales were just becoming recognized as mammals and distinct from fish.
Her teeth are unusually square, yet fearsome all the same. She's half the size of the other whale in the piece, whose magnificence I will tackle after a couple more small critters, the seal and the porpoise.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day at the Beach

Featuring, for the second time only in the history of True Stitches, a guest post by Gracie McGoober.

Today Mom and I went to the beach! It was the best! We can walk there, down the hill and through the trees. When I figured out where we were going, I ran very fast and jumped over logs that were in my way. Mom stood still and pointed the little box at something I don't care about. Come on Mom, it's time to swim!
Swimming is my favourite! Almost as much as chasing balls. (Sometimes Mom calls them B-A-double hockey sticks but I know she just means balls). I swim and shake and swim and shake some more. It's the best.
But Mom wasn't paying attention like she should. She kept picking up things from the beach and putting them in her pocket. I had to bark at her to remind her that she had to throw the stick.
Mom said it was better than shopping. I hate shopping! I have to sit in the car and wait and bark at other dogs in other cars. It's no fun. Dogs love fun! There's nothing like fun for a good time!
Come on Mom! Throw the stick. THROW THE STICK!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Swimming Like Mad

Marine Mammals of the Codex Canadensis, work in progress 2016.
Two sea creatures are finished - the shark and the walrus. (Update: Jean-Pierre makes a good point in the comments. It is unlikely that Louis Nicolas would have seen a walrus in the St. Lawrence, but he probably heard about them from the Algonquin, who may have heard about them from the Inuit.)

It's suddenly the busiest time of the year. In addition to my regular allotment at the community gardens, I volunteered to to take on an unused plot next to me. I'm just going to plant it in potatoes and beans, and donate the harvest to the Commons. I'm really not being that altruistic - my primary motivation is to prevent the weeds on the unused plot from blowing all over mine.

And then today I found out that I have been hired for two jobs, one with the census and the other a part-time retail gig. It feels rather gratifying that I am still hire-able after all this time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April in Paradise

My groundskeeper. And yes, that's my house behind him. No kidding, I live in a geodesic dome.
It's been another early spring. Things are blooming all over the island.
See the spider?
The universe is unfolding as it should.

I have been working on the shark. It's great to be stitching again, but the pull of the garden is hard to resist. Luckily the days are longer so I can do both.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Backstory

Well, the previous post had a predictably tepid response. That's okay - it was probably more important for me to say it that for anyone to hear it. I've been biting my tongue for too long.

Here's a little backstory. I started reading the Yarn Harlot when she first started out. As Stephanie freely admits, her timing was perfect. Blogging was taking off, knitting was having a huge revival, she was a sassy, charming writer and quickly found a hugely appreciative audience. Her fame grew, she got a book deal, she started being invited to knitting events, and most notably she has raised millions of dollars for very worthy causes through her blog. I admire her greatly.

But as the years went by somehow the balance shifted. More and more posts were written while she was on the road. I understand that knitting became her livelihood. She was (and continues to be) a superstar amongst knitters. Her personal fame became the draw for knitting retreats, conferences, book sales and other manifestations of the industry. To her credit she hasn't had her name slapped on a line of yarn or knitting gadgets, and she is very supportive of small businesses. And I doubt very much she has become personally wealthy despite her success.

Still, Stephanie travels. A lot. Way more than most of us. She writes frequently about waiting in airports, losing luggage, getting sick after being in a plane full of coughers and sneezers. But airplanes do a lot of damage to our planet's atmosphere. Those who want to fly in good conscience have the option of buying carbon offsets that supposedly fund good things like planting trees.

For quite a while now, reading Stephanie's posts about her travel experiences have been irking me. Sure, I could simply not read her blog. I have taken breaks, but, like so many people, I feel that I have a somewhat of a relationship with her. She is a good writer. And every now and then she hits it right out of the park.

The thing is that I feel she has been co-opted by the knitting industry, admittedly a small cog in the juggernaut of capitalism, to keep the money-making wheels turning.  All the good things she has shared about knitting - the peace that comes from the meditative stitches, the warm fuzzy feeling of making things for someone you love, the pleasure of mastering a skill, have nothing to do with money. I suspect Stephanie is enough of a lefty to see the irony in the situation.

Which is why I tried to gently suggest a rethink. I believe she has power in her position - she has already effected all kinds of positive change in the last ten years. Why shouldn't a knitter take the lead?

I'm not trying to criticise people who fly once or twice a year to see family or go on a special holiday. And I know many people have jobs that require a lot of travel. In my small and happy dreamworld, teleportation or some other carbon-free transport would be the norm, but we aren't there yet. But how does change happen? By realizing there is a problem, and resolving to find a solution.

I have lived in a lot of different places: cities, villages, islands. I have been an environmentalist all my life. In fifty years of personally re-using and recycling, riding a bike and taking public transit, growing my own food, and reducing my consumption of manufactured goods, I have seen some change, but it is two steps back for each one forward. I fear greatly that we are killing the planet.

And, on that bleak note, I will return to doing what I can.