THE FIRST THING:
To the left you'll see a Bag of Boobs. Yes, boobs. Breast prostheses, that is. I knit them for the Knitted Knockers organization and supply them to my local hospital's mammography and medical oncology unit. They emailed Friday to ask for another batch because "women love them."
I was so happy to hear it.
I knit in the evenings while I watch the news or a tv program. I cannot watch tv without doing something with my hands, and this has forever solved that problem. Because breast cancer is so common, there's an unending need for these prostheses for women who've had a mastectomy.
THE SECOND THING THAT STARTS WITH B: THE BOX
Here is the back spine of the box (I posted a picture of the bottom of the box a few posts back--you can just catch a glimpse of that underneath the narrow spine above). And above it you can see the as-yet-untangled top of the box. The tangle on the spine is Toodles. Done with white pen, colored pencil, graphite, white chalk pencil.
This is one side of the box (both sides are the same).
So now only the front of the box is left to tangle. Surprisingly, I am not enjoying tangling on this box one bit. The underlying structure is probably chipboard or something equally hard, and the brown paper covering is not porous at all. The combo makes it very challenging to tangle on--it's as if the paper wants to reject the pens entirely. Hard to get the ink out!
Plus tangling on tiny narrow surfaces that don't support one's hand is a real challenge. The combination of pen-rejecting paper and no hand control is making this a difficult project. When I'm done I think I'll love the box, but I sure don't want to tangle another one. Live and learn!
The photo above is a picture of Barbara Demorest, who founded Knitted Knockers, my absolute favorite things to knit. She's sitting on a pile of (as-yet-unstuffed) Knockers. I added to the pile this morning when I mailed off over 60 Knockers I made--I sent them to her organization to distribute, free, to cancer survivors who've had mastectomies. This is such a rewarding and compelling reason to knit.
Below you can see what a Knocker looks like once it's been stuffed with polyester. So much better than the silicone/plastic prostheses, which are heavy and can promote sweating and irritation. Knitted Knockers are light, airy, washable, and more closely resemble a genuine breast.
Let me allow Barbara and her organization to explain, as they can do it much better than I can.
If you've had a mastectomy, I hope you will contact the organization and ask for a free Knitted Knocker.
And if you're a knitter, I certainly hope you will volunteer to make a few of these. If you do, be sure to go to the organization's website to find a zillion patterns (knitted or crocheted, and many options for how to make them) and a list of "approved yarns." Using only approved yarns is very important, as only certain fibers can be tolerated next to delicate and/or healing skin. Thank you for considering this!
Here's the bag I sent to the organization this morning. It's absolutely stuffed to the gills with Knockers I've made while watching tv in the evenings. So easy to do, and so helpful to breast cancer survivors.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been in intensive learning mode--taking a course on sketching and watercolor. I've been failing regularly in my attempts. And I'm also learning a lot. You can see previous entries on this experience HERE (the start of the series), HERE (scroll down to the bottom to see that one), HERE, and HERE.
It seems I can only do one thing at a time, though, so no tangling has been happening. I look forward to getting back to that. I am able to knit in the evenings, so I've been making Knitted Knockers (soft knitted prostheses for breast cancer survivors) and will soon have about 60 of them to ship out for distribution. Today I went to the local yarn shop and picked up these yarns for future Knockers: [If you knit, I hope you will seriously consider making Knockers for women who need them post surgery.]
I have also been unpacking and the kitchen is nearly ready. Given that I do not know how to cook, how ready does it need to be? Well, once I get back to rug hooking, it needs to be ready for me to dye yarn and wool. Today I moved my "dye chest" into the kitchen, and more equipment will come. I'm very encouraged about this.
Here are my most recent drawings and watercolors. I hesitate to even term these "watercolors" as I'm truly struggling with the waterbrush and trying to resist going back to regular brushes.
Let me begin with a photo of the actual roses I was trying to capture, in their vase. Both roses were well-past their prime and beginning to die by the time I finally got to start drawing them.
Here is my teacher's comment on this painting--and I agree with it:
"In this version, the vase became the focal point, rather than the rose. Another really lovely drawing and color, but I think what is missing is the whites of the page and the lights on the flower. Well done!"
The final compliment was kind of her, but the analysis about the vase becoming the focal point is exactly right.
Before I saw her comment, though, I had decided to go back and try to add to this with another layer of color, to better shade it...
The teacher hasn't commented on this drawing yet.
I was so frustrated working on it. Once again I had the sense that the paint got away from me despite my best efforts.
And yet...it's overworked, but I think it's also stronger.
More importantly, every time I try this, and fail in epic fashion as I have so far, I do learn something.
In fact, I am chronicling this in public all because I so strongly believe that we often learn best by failing. Certainly we can choose to resist learning from failures, but usually the lessons are so "loud and clear," they can lead to real success if we can heed them.
Or so I hope! Ha.
Which brings me to one of my all-time favorite quotes:
"Success consists of going from failure to failure, without lost of enthusiasm."
So I've been knitting a blanket while watching tv this winter.
Actually, the pattern says it's a "throw cover."
Perhaps I have been watching too much tv?
Methinks this has gotten a little out of hand. True, I am nearly at the end of the final skein, but I mean...who is this supposed to cover, Godzilla?
I should not complain. It most certainly will cover me, and then some. If only I had made this last winter, with all the intense cold and the ten feet of snow. This winter has been so mild. But since--thanks to global warming--we no longer know what we are going to get, I will definitely be well prepared for anything that next winter brings.
The yarn is, alas, very cheap acrylic. I'm kind of horrified by it; it's not stuff I would normally ever use, but the organic alternatives would have required a billionaire to buy.
I am also having to admit that I am coming to the end of my all-time favorite Rainbow Lead Pencil. I've used it so much that it's just a stub of its former self. Here's a tangle I did with it today:
The above was my first-ever try at Whirlee, and it was quite a challenge. I modified it to fill the page a bit more. Enjoyed doing this. I will be playing with it again, for sure.
And here is one mirrored version.
Below is the tiny Rainbow Lead pencil stub, which will soon be too small to sharpen and which will have to be retired. Sad. I have really had fun with this pencil.
I've mostly been tangling only in my Carole Ohl "Tangle A Day" calendar recently and have been tending towards covering one entire page, rather than using one of the three boxes on each page. Probably a good idea since I'm already over a month behind.
Heading out for a walk in the lovely sunshine; the next few days promise to be stormy. Good weather for making art!
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...I love it when I discover something scientific that justifies one of my so-called bad habits, and this video is less than 2 minutes long:
AND ABOUT THOSE KNITTED KNOCKERS:
Ok, so here is what I have been doing in the off-moments when I haven't been dyeing yarn for my new rug: making Knitted Knockers.
Yes, they are what they sound like and look like. They are ingenious prostheses for mastectomy patients to wear instead of the (usually) nasty implants or other heavy, unwieldy prostheses. You can find out all about them on this amazing website.
You see here a pair I have nicknamed the Blue Boobies...isn't there a bird called the Blue-Footed Boobie? Well anyway, I couldn't resist doing a pair in blue.
I was really moved by this project, and--given the trauma a good friend of mine is going through this very week--really wanted to be a part of it. So I am knitting knockers and I hope someone finds them useful.
Now that I've got the hang of it, they are easy to make and require no thought. But the first one! Oy vey. Let's just say I haven't worked with double-pointed needles in years (I prefer Magic Loop for socks) and it took me more than a dozen tries to get the first one going. But that was it--once I got that one started, the rest have been a snap. I just love this project.
I'm snowed in here so haven't been able to get to the studio to work on my rug, but I've been continuing the yarn-dyeing orgy and should have more skeins to show very shortly. I may--just may--have finished dyeing all the yarn for the rug. Just about 50 pounds of yarn. Phew. And each 4 oz skein has been dyed individually, by hand.
Still working on this zendala. Here on the right is what I did today. I xeroxed the original tile and shaded the xerox. I made two copies of the original, so next I'll try coloring it rather than shading. The unshaded original is on the left (for the story of this, see yesterday's blog entry).
I am still mulling this over. Do I like it the same, better, or less? Not sure. Feel free to register your opinion if you wish.
On another front, I'm knitting this scarf:
...and really enjoying it. It's a metallic rayon yarn in a color called Flax, from Blue Heron Yarns. Unfortunately the color is so light that you cannot see the metallic glints, which are very obvious in person.
On the lower left of the photo you can just make out a portion of a hooked pillow that I have on my couch. And the striped brown-and-cream textile in the upper part of the photo is part of my knitting bag.
I was completely focused on shading the zendala this afternoon, and quite "in the zone." I love art for its meditative qualities as well as the results.
FIRST THE SELF-CONGRATULATIONS:
Done! I am freaking done with these hellish socks! I am thrilled beyond belief. I have blogged about them before; at that point, I thought I had been working on them for about a year. Which is ridiculously long...so as you can guess, I was mostly NOT working on them at all. But I pulled them out a while back, dug in my heels (appropriate for working on socks), started in again, stuck it out, and now I am done...congratulations to me! Normally, if I'm working slowly and taking breaks on a pair of socks, they might take me about 6 weeks. But not these.
NOW THE GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT BIT:
As it turns out, I was wrong about having worked on them for a year. I went back and thought more carefully about when I would have begun...and reached the conclusion that it has been closer to 3 YEARS. Seriously! I have never, ever spent that amount of time on any project, and this is a testament to how much I hated working with this yarn.
Please understand that I have made dozens of socks with no problem at all. But for some reason, the yarn for this pair made the work very tricky and was big-time drudgery all the way. I cannot count the number of times I ripped out several inches and re-knit them. Many people told me to just throw them out, but dammit, I am stubborn and very persistent and was determined not to let the yarn get the best of me. And so they are done. Done!!!!!
I only wish I knew what the yarn was, so that I could avoid ever buying it again. It looks like regular sock yarn, but isn't. Long ago I made a pair of red socks that had yarn that acted the same way; I also slogged my way through those and it took at least 3 times as long as it should have.
I am done with nasty weird sock yarn. The next time I run across yarn that acts this way, I will indeed throw it out, having proved I could complete 2 projects with it. Nasty stuff.
NOW THE PART ABOUT OBSESSIONS:
And speaking of yarn, how does this look? Everything you see here is yarn. Yarn in a bag. Yarn in the boxes.
My studio-mate K and I did a major yarn buy at an unheard-of cheap price for over 100 pounds of highest-quality rug yarn. I do not imagine I will ever have to buy rug yarn again. I do imagine I will spend quite a bit of time dyeing my share of this yarn. Good thing K just got back from her 4-day dye workshop (see the previous post). Cannot wait to begin playing with color and then punch-hooking my next rug.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society