White Light

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Lots of things seem to be taking shape these days. Including the future. I was shocked to realise how reluctant I had become to plan. How afraid I had grown of imagining what the future might hold in store. I remember times when closing my eyes on the day was a relief and all the morrow held was dread. No more. Oh, definitely not anymore.

It takes an effort to change your mind. Open up. Take a chance. Believe that yes, there is brightness in the future. Lots of it.

A name was coined in those days of dread. One that despite everything kept coming back. Demanding its due. Asking to be seen. Considered. Its truth realised. Its perfect fit accepted.

Two days ago after an engagement with my beautiful Italian hairdresser (who loves the colours I wear and my ‘expressive personality’, so there), I was cycling home and stopped for a while to listen to the birds chattering in the twilight. So lovely. The street lighting switched on and I was just slightly… miffed… at the bright light just behind me, wishing it would go out. Pffft, off it went. Just that one. For a little while I enjoyed the twilight that had returned, laughter bubbling up. When I was ready, I looked back over my shoulder at the lantern in question and said laughingly: ‘Oh, come on!’

Will you believe me if I say it lit up, quite happy to comply? It did.

Magic is a welcome, happy companion in my life these days.

So. There it is. The name by which my creative endeavours will be known:

The White Light Studio.

First used in 2001 (or was it 1999?) when Silence, a collaborative work with my then partner combining photography and poetry, was published. At the time I did not see how good a match it really was. Scoured clean by the years and hopefully a little wiser, it now fits me like a cherished, comfortable old glove.

I’m sure it will only get better.

Boijmans van Beuningen Museum: Hand Made exhibition and competition

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Have you missed me? I know I have not posted much lately. I wonder if many people neglect their blogs when they have many things clamouring for their attention, or is it just me?

Things in my life suddenly seem to move in a different direction, or rather an additional direction. And since my days were already overflowing with work, children, housekeeping and knitting, this additional activity is nibbling away at the time I spend on other things. This once, however, it is a good thing that I am not getting enough sleep. Or rather, there is a really good and positive reason.

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When I took up knitting I soon started experimenting with knitted hair ornaments and ornamental knitting. I like small projects with quick results. Admittedly, I get easily bored with long projects, one of the reasons why I hesitate to start on a big cardigan or shawl. On top of that, knitting bracelets and hair bands is an excellent way to explore and practise new techniques. Then came crochet and I was off.

I used to think that crochet was rather… well… old-fashioned and stuffy but have definitely changed my mind. Yes, some of it is really old-fashioned and stuffy, although I have also come to realise how much work there is in even the most grandmotherly blanket or table runner.

There are many talented artists and crochet lovers out there who create the most wonderful things, from the nearly microscopic crochet stitches in an embroidery thread crochet necklace to huge actual playgrounds in Japan. People crochet with metal wire, plastic bags and hair – pretty much anything that can be used as yarn. I have taken up crochet jewellery.

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This is my Sun and Snake necklace made from bourette silk, cotton and a futuristic metallic yarn. It is based on the Chinese year of the Snake and the yellow sun, with yellow representing good luck in China and the sun my astrological sign Leo.

Image This Turquoise Protection necklace is based on the protective power of turquoise stone and my fascination with the legendary though contested crystal skulls.

Coincidentally (or is it one of those instances of synchronicity?) the prestigious and wonderful Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam organised Hand Made, an exhibition on traditional crafts, this spring. Craft workshops are held at the museum in collaboration with Etsy each weekend.

I attended a symposium on the future of the crafts there and although there was little time left, enjoyed an hour or so at the beautiful exhibition that features work from around the world, representing the crafts through the ages. Definitely a must-see if you are in Rotterdam!

The Etsy Boijmans van Beuningen partnership also resulted in a competition called Onverwacht Ambacht or ‘Unexpected Crafts’, which called for entries applying old crafts in new and unexpected ways. I originally conceived of a quite ambitious entry that I unfortunately did not have time to complete (or, to my chagrin, even get started on). While that work will get done somewhere this year, I somewhat impulsively decided to submit some of my necklaces the night before the competition closed.

In addition to the prize awarded by Etsy and the museum, a public prize will be awarded to the entry that receives the greatest number of votes from the public visiting the museum. Voting is also open on Facebook so do have a look at the other entries and vote by liking your favourite work here: Facebook voting page. I wouldn’t mind if you happened to like mine, of course! Please feel free to share the page because I think it shows a number of amazing modern crafts from very talented people.

There are many amazing entries so while I clearly don’t expect to win, I am rather proud that I actually entered the competition. In the past, I would have dithered and doubted until the end. Then I would have been angry with myself for not doing something I longed for again, simply because I was insecure or afraid. The fact that I don’t care what anyone says or thinks but just do what I believe in, what is right for me, shows me how much I have changed. And it is good to be reminded of that fact, which tends to get lost and forgotten all too quickly in the rush of daily life.

I’ve done and gone hooking

The Buddha and hyperbolic space

The Buddha and hyperbolic space

Now that does sound rather awful, doesn’t it? Rest assured, it isn’t as weird as it sounds. I have not been around my blog much lately because I have been busy with work, my children (14-year-old requiring serious homework drilling, girls ill on and off), knitting, and so on and so forth.

I went to a symposium associated with the new Hand Made exhibition in collaboration with Etsy at Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam last Friday. It was interesting to be reminded how the crafts are seen by people generally involved in ‘high art’ (whatever that may be – not as much as it is made out to be by the ‘experts’ in my not-so-humble opinion). I’ll tell you more about the symposium and exhibition in another post.

And yes, I took up crochet. Initially for a project that has now been sidelined because I could not bring myself to get started on it (but I will!) and then… well… I got hooked. Seriously. Fortunately my daughters are crazy about the crochet flowers I am churning out because I’m not sure I would wear them myself. Just a tad too granny for my taste, but who knows, that might change because I am discovering that things look quite differently when you make them yourself! As in, less ‘For God’s sake, I would never ever be caught dead in that!’ and more ‘Hmmm… if I changed this, and added that, and picked a really chic yarn… I might actually get to like it!’

I am also fascinated by the fact that there are many scientist knitters and crocheters (is that a word?). Just Google ‘knitted geometric shapes’ or ‘crochet hyperbolic space’ and see what turns up. So the other day I started on a crochet pattern for a dahlia, which at one point somehow seemed to turn into something looking a lot like hyperbolic space. See here, for instance. And here, where I found out that crochet actually intersects with my sister’s work as a marine biologist. She’ll just love that, ahem.DSC08195

It does seem curious that a tangible representation of hyperbolic forms seemed impossible until crochet stepped in, doesn’t it? I would expect to be more aware by now of how everything is connected. I am not as easily surprised as I used to be in that respect but this one threw me!

The most wonderful thing about crafts, however professional or amateur your creations, is that one idea engenders another, and another, and another. And every individual person will come up with something different. I think this is amply illustrated by the Friday Fictioneers, each of whom comes up with something entirely different when looking at the images proposed by Rochelle. Of course there are parallels between stories sometimes but they are never the same. And in the same way, I believe that crafts are a celebration of individual expression. In a world increasingly obsessed with mass production and consumption and utter ‘sameness’, more and more people feel the need to remind themselves that they are not the same, that they are unique creatures capable of unique achievements.

This last little fluffy bit is no mathematical mystery, of course. Just a little present for one of the lovely people I will be meeting at the Breidag in Nieuwegein tomorrow. And yes, that’s my face reflected in the background. I did done and seen it but didn’t feel like taking a new picture. I’ll just be the lady in the mirror, isn’t that lovely and mysterious?DSC08188DSC08222

Vacant

2013-02-22 Friday Fictioneers

‘I have nothing,’ she complained. ‘I’m sitting here, staring at this screen…‘

‘Screen…?’

Disegno, Leo, sorry. Of an old, abandoned house… And I can’t think of anything.’ She sighed. It was Friday Fictioneers week three and she’d been happy with her first efforts. But now…  

‘I don’t know why you keep calling me Leo,’ he said peevishly. She turned towards the ancient mirror and said, ‘Sorry, Leonardo. I wasn’t thinking.’

The old inventor turned away. ‘Well, can’t help you. Must finish that Giocondo portrait. Her smile gives me nightmares, you know… Buona notte.’

‘So you said, Leonardo. Sogni d’oro…’

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And once again, it was time for the Friday Fictioneers. To be honest, the image did nothing for me. I wrote a story. Discarded it. Could not think of a thing. So that’s where I started…

I am already quite looking forward to Wednesdays, when the excellent Rochelle Wisoff-Fields posts her chosen image for the week and challenges our nimble minds to write a one hundred-word story. (Yes, mine is 100 words exactly. Including title. And yes, I’m gloating. I’ll probably be punished for that next week.)

We have an excellent imagination between us.  No, I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to refer to myself, so go see for yourself! Click the code below to see the posts of other contributors. The link ain’t pretty (I am unable to reproduce that nifty little Inlinkz button, apparently) but it works when you click it. Sorry about that. I hope I will have it figured out next week. Help, someone?

This week’s picture was made by Janet Webb. No offence, Janet, it is not your picture’s fault I couldn’t come up with anything!

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Art(isan): Eat your vegetables, darling!

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I will never look at my veggies the same way again. Aren’t they beautiful?

Now look closer. No, even closer!

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Are you starting to see?

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These exquisite vegetables were knitted and crocheted by the Japanese textile artist Itoamika Jung Jung. She creates jewellery with them. The level of detail is astonishing and I cannot imagine the amount of miniature fussing that must be involved.

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The more I explore the world of textile crafts, the more I am in awe of the artists that create so many extraordinary works. And this, to me, is what makes crafting so attractive. Whether you are a novice or an expert, there is always something new to discover and try, a new skill to master.

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Itoami published a book on crocheted plants that I am going to try and get my hands on: Ito Ami Plants. Although I am closer to a novice than to an expert at knitting and a total, absolute initiate (‘Is “idiot” the word you were looking for, darling?’ ‘Yes I think it might be. Thank you, dear’) in crocheting, this is something I want to try…

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Find the artist’s site here.

Oppositions merging

Ram Dass we are moving toward a light that embraces the darkness

Today I just wanted to share this image and thought with you. I feel it is particularly appropriate at this stage in my life, where I am learning to accept me the way I am.

I am finding that my strengths are also my weaknesses and my weaknesses are also my strengths.  It is equilibrium that counts.

And so embracing my darkness is the only way for me to move into the light.

Friday Fictioneers 15 February 2013

2013-02-15

Screwed

He reached desperately. Almost… finger just an inch from the button. The floor continuing to liquefy beneath his feet. Jason hanging on to his ankle, uttering terrified moans. Where he had stood, the floor had turned to sludge and Jason splashed in the slurry of dislocated molecules. ‘If only I had listened,’ thought Brian. ‘They told me not to mess with the universe’s structure and they were right. Of course they were.’ His leg sinking deeper, Jason spluttering now. The distance between finger and button grew. Idly, he wondered whether the ripple effect would stop at the door or…

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It was time for the Friday Fictioneers already and I did not even manage to post any of the many ideas that ran through my head this week. I still get that, every so often, a couple of days where just getting out of bed and through the day seems almost too hard. But perhaps that is simply part of la condition humaine? I have stopped fighting it or blaming myself. I know it gets better again after a couple of days…

So, as for the Friday Fictioneers: The eminent researcher Rochelle Wisoff-Fields posts an image every week (see her site here) and a great big (and growing) bunch of little lab rats scurry to write a ‘one hundred word story with a beginning, middle and end’. With often excellent results because I am just in my second week and have already read many stories that made me want more, much, much more. I wonder what kind of results Rochelle is getting in her ongoing research on fiction addiction…

This week’s fascinating photograph was made by David Stewart. Go here for this week’s submissions from my fellow lab rats. Click ‘Links in collection’ below the photograph to see the links to their sites and read their stories.

Oh and Rich, including the title my contribution this week is exactly 100 words.

FO: A head-warming victory

This is the last you’ll hear of the Tuke hat (promise!) but I had to let you know I finished it, didn’t I? I solved the ‘few stitches on circular needles’ problem by figuring out how magic loop works (lots more fiddling but I’m pretty sure it beats double-pointed needles). I’m afraid I did not use the official method, since I was unable to get the working yarn on the back needle as the tutorials say. But it worked out anyway. See?

ImageFrom there I was just a few decreasing rows away from the finish. Tuke taught me (the beginnings of) round-knitting and magic loop knitting and is just about the best thing I have ever had on my head. When I picked up my five-year old from school wearing my pioneering feat of home-crafting, she liked it but felt it wasn’t a ‘proper’ hat because it did not have a pom pom. So we decided to add a small one using Eskimimi’s nifty pom pom fork technology. Check it out here.

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My new hat is soft and cushy, lovely and warm and I might not want to take it off for the rest of the day. I think my significant other would protest if I attempted to wear it to bed tonight, otherwise I just might have!

Both my daughters have already ‘ordered’ a smaller version of Tuke so I’ll cast on the next one using Opal Hundertwasser sock yarn and see if that scales down the pattern sufficiently to fit my eldest daughter.

Wartende Häuser by Friedensreich Hundertwasser

This extraordinary collection of sock yarn is based on several works by Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (1928-2000). I knitted a rib stitch scarf for my daughter from the Wartende Häuser colourway (and I’ll never ever do that again, I can tell you, since I thought I was going to be a doddering old biddy before I finished it!).

It is funny how something as ‘grandmotherly’ as knitting can open a window to the rest of the world. I had never heard of Hundertwasser before I bought the sock yarn but now I am going to find out a lot more about him and share it with you in a future post. It turns out he is one of my favourite kind of people: an artist, visionary and eco warrior avant la lettre wholly determined to walk his own path. Wouldn’t you just love to live here?

Hundertwasser’s Waldspirale or ‘Forest Spiral’ in Darmstadt, Germany