Posts Tagged 'air'

Oh say can you see

Fireworks over Baltimore, Star Spangled Banner 200 years

Yes… we did. We went to a local park, stood out in a field in the dark, and watched as the fireworks display went off in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, as well as right by the fort (there were 5 places where fireworks were being set off in the Chesapeake). It looked like the War of 1812 was starting all over again. But last weekend was the celebration for Francis Scott Key’s famous words after the famous bombardment of Fort McHenry. The fireworks included a spectacular set of fireworks that made up the image of our flag in the sky.

Hurrah for 200 years! Music and video still live on a local news station here. (BTW: if I ever get the chance of seeing Guy Fawkes day in the UK, I will snap photos and be very excited.)

Elements: Air

Walking through an artscape airport.

There are better times to visit Indiana than a heatwave in summer (Autumn is lovely, so is spring, and when the Indiana State Fair is going on, I don’t care about the weather). The air is hot and heavy, filled with water.

However, family trumps weather sometimes, and I did manage to see some interesting things besides driving back and forth to Indianapolis. Some of the cattle farms I remember have now turned to horse farms, and the towns have stayed much the same if a little emptier from loss of automobile manufacturers. If I had time, I’d go back to Indianapolis, go to the museums, and check out the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

 Indianapolis Airport is different from what I remember from childhood (different place, even). And what is truly wonderful is the effort that has been made to introduce art into the airport. Feather images have been brushed onto divider windows. “Stained” art has been installed in exterior windows. It’s all rather like walking through a fairytale of blocks of yellow, red, and purple. The art is called “Streaming”. It’s from the Indiana Windows project from 2007 done by Martin Donlin. He’s managed to take the airiness of the airport and capture it with acid-etched and airbrushed hand-blown glass. I saw at least three of the larger stained glass pieces in the wing of the airport I was in.

Goodbye to The Water Element and PS3

Water at a National Park

Lake at a National Park

October is the end of Project Spectrum for the year. Yes, I still have projects on the needles (for instance, a certain green pair of socks which is next in the second-sock completion queue). But I’m still very pleased with the results. I’ve used the whole project — from fire and earth to air and water — to motivate me to try different things and to use different media, as well as to jumpstart an ongoing mythology project. Yes, I’ll continue on reading even as PS3 ends.

I made socks (3 pairs and one half a pair), attempted to cast on rusted root for the water element (it’s on hold now), knit with thread, drew the stones of a church, learned to photograph water, made earrings (with pink and orange crystals for the fire element), tried out Cat Bhordhi’s sock book, and finished lots of projects.

The light and shadows are beautiful this time of year

The light and shadows are beautiful this time of year

If Lolly holds Project Spectrum next year, I’m hoping my contribution will be less about texture and one skein of yarn (admittedly multi-dyed, but the yarn did most of the work) and more about purpose-driven color play. Maybe a lovely Fair Isle sweater with multiple colors of the rainbow. Or some project that captures the mood of the shadows in a doorway on an Autumn day.

In the meantime, I’ve joined Socktoberfest because I’m enjoying the extra boost to my creativity that PS3 gave to me. Maybe I’ll finish up some of those sock projects. I’m also thinking about casting on for Rusted Root soon. Just because I didn’t get to it during the timeline for PS3 doesn’t mean I don’t want to knit it.

My brain keeps singing the song “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” more from the depressing weekend weather we’ve had than any other reason. In future posts, I may revisit some of the projects I worked on for PS3, showing the items that were made long before WordTapestry was born. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a good day for photography — the tidal socks should be ready for a final close-up then.

Thanks, Lolly, for all the fun and challenge!

“B” Is Also for “Booties”

Well, baby booties (or stockings, in this case):

Cat Bordhi socks, all sewn up and ready to mail

Cat Bordhi socks, all sewn up and ready to mail

These were knit for a friend’s impending cyclone (a baby girl, who was early but hopefully fine). Colors chosen because, honestly, pink just blends too much with skin sometimes. So a light grey-blue seems to be in order, in cotton for August weather. The socks/baby booties are the ones in the Knit Happens post a while ago.

Specs: Light grey wool is Schoeller Esslinger Fortissima Cotton color 23.

If you want to make little wee stockings for small feet, check out the following resources:

For people who sew, check out Heather Bailley’s Design site (her blog is full of really great pictures of puppies at play and creative things). I looked at the Bitty Booties and thought “Oh, too, too cute. Wish I’d seen them before knitting!”

Then there’s a cute pair of knit booties that look like Mary Janes, designed by Sartje in the Netherlands. The link to the .pdf and the picture of the project are to the right of the text in the center. There’s also a book called “Simple Knits for Cherished Babies,” by Erika Knight, if one needs a book with many many patterns to knit up for that special newborn.

If you do crochet, there are lots of patterns to look at online. One pattern is here, from Roxycraft. And then there are ones suitable for a christening.

All said, I’m glad I took the chance to knit these for Project Spectrum 3 air. I learned to knit a new kind of sock and got a gift out of it. I’m practicing for the Philosopher’s House Socks, for myself. I’m getting less afraid of Cat’s unusual designs.

I don’t think I will be knitting many baby socks or booties in the future. My friends and family seem to have hit their personal happiness in number of kids (I just assume that anyway, until told otherwise). I’m content with showering the current group of young ‘uns with knitted mittens or hats now and then. Oh, and when I get the chance… just playing or going to the zoo or museums are great. And here’s a bonus picture of the Stormy Weather baby hat:

There Will Be Yarn

I finally finished a little project, nicknamed “Stormy Weather.” It uses up some of the Tess’s Sock yarn from an earlier project. It’s even edged with some other sock yarn from Lorna’s Laces. I got the Tess’s yarn at Maryland Sheep and Wool a while ago (one pair of socks, and portions of this tiny project — all from one skein).

It was challenging for me to work with gray and white, for the PS3 air project. Portions of it are a bit of a fudge on color: the “blue” in the piece is really a very, very light grey yarn called Schoeller Esslinger Fortissima Cotton. (Sorry, I think this lovely color is gone. I bought it at a close out sale of a shop that was getting rid of all its yarn because its bead business was more viable.)

The patterning on the top was accomplished with yarn-overs, for an “airy” feeling. The crochet pink/sage/blue edging is meant to look like the sun peeking through from underneath clouds.

It’s been a fun little stashbuster project, the perfect little challenge for a Project Spectrum 3 air piece. Since I didn’t have a pattern selected I noodled one out myself. Now I just have to send it out. Full view pics and more info of this one once it’s close to getting at its destination.

Being Owned by a Poem

As we move from air to water in Project Spectrum 3, and I try to shift my focus (looking through my huuuge stash of blue yarn), I feel like I’m being followed by snippets of poetry that remind me of the shore, the ocean, and air. Each time I stop and try to remember who wrote what. It’s sort of a non-corporeal process, akin to trying to catch water in a sieve or attempting to move a gust of smoke in a different direction.

The effect is difficult to ignore, like an earworm. I’m being teased into remembering poetry I studied for tests, poetry I read for fun, and lines of poetry friends solemnly recited in High School. After a while, the words sort of “own” a space in your brain.

One of the phrases that keeps cropping up is by Byron, who wrote “Manfred”… a dramatic poem which leans toward the ridiculous (for starters, try a chamois hunter, witches, spirits and absolute Gothic seriousness):

“…the sunbow’s rays still arch

The torrent with the many hues of heaven,

And roll the sheeted silver’s waving column

O’er the crag’s headlong perpendicular,…”

Manfred, II.ii, lines 1-4

Somehow this line snakes into rivulets of water (rife with plenty of imagery worthy of an E.D. advert from Pharma) and then becomes analogous to the tail of the horse Death rides, “as told in the Apocalypse”. Byron isn’t to everyone’s taste, but he’s wonderful at losing readers in a wave of analogies changing like water from one ripple to another, sometimes in the same sentence. And, honestly, these lines are memorable — I like the image of water tumbling and becoming part of the rainbow. (Before things get too scenic and calm, cue the witch of the Alps who appears beneath the sunbow. No, seriously!)

As a chaser, Tennyson wrote a wonderful poem called “Ulysses.” After re-reading the Odyssey (Butler’s version of the Odyssey is online here), it just seems to resonate today:

“Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough/Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades/Forever and forever when I move.” (Tennyson, 1842. Ulysses, lines 19-21).

You can find an online version of Tennyson’s poem here:

Of course, part of the echo might be a desire to get out of the house and the heat and humidity… to travel to the shore where I can stick my feet in water. But the line “Forever and forever” comes up when I think about my goals and what I want to do next, creatively. If I ever see retirement, I hope I will keep this thought and use it to focus me in a new untraveled path.

August, and the doldrums of summer, seem a great time for daydreaming and reading. So how about you? Are there any poems that seem to lock step with you as you go about your job? Do phrases crop up that make your day richer and deepen your ability to notice shadows and light?

Air and Movement

I’ve been thinking about Air recently (due to Project Spectrum 3), and trying to figure out how best to visualize “air”. If you’re knitting, the color choice for yarn is all well and good (grey, white, and yellow for this element, which make me think of air heavy with clouds or moisture, or sulphurous gases, or sunlight slanting through the trees). Some people in the project are choosing to knit lace, defining air with open holes in their knitting.

Instead of knitting lace, I’m stuck thinking about the atmosphere (heh) one gets from air and then thinking about art classes and negative space. Here’s how the art exercise goes: if you’re drawing a chair, don’t draw the actual chair, draw the space in between the floor and the base of the chair, the open air between rungs, etc. In the end, you’ll get something that allows you to see the space the chair occupies in a different way. When we did this looking at live, female models, they were always dismayed to see what they “looked” like to artists. The chairs didn’t care.

The “atmosphere” of air is entangled in my brain with:

  • the sense of movement and force from wind rushing by, pushing against hair or clutching at clothing
  • the transmission of sound through the airwaves (wind sawing against a house in a gale, musical notes from wind chimes, a cello being played in a room 3 floors away)
  • cold or warm air wafting through an open window
  • clammy air near the beach vs. the briskness of a snowy evening vs. the smothering humidity of a summer day vs. the tingle of electricity in a thunderstorm
  • smells carried on a breeze (imagine cotton candy or the smell of funnel cakes at a fair)

Are there any favorite things about air (well, beyond being able to breathe) that helps define the element for you? I was thinking rainbows might be emblematic of the air element, but they also depend on water and fire (the sun) to get the effect just right. I’ll have to think about this some more.

Tomorrow I will possibly continue knitting on my current project (because for me, actually getting through some of my stash is an “air project” — look: more space in my dresser!). I might actually get some things off my camera, to put up here too.

A Crackle of Electricity, Then a Wave of Rain

Yesterday, a storm swept in while I was reading some of Leigh Hunt’s poetry.* The Gardener rushed outside before the storm to rescue lavender — big bunches of purple blooms — and timed it just right, getting inside before the light change.

I looked out over the houses from my second story window, and suddenly, every tree in the neighborhood was outlined with light. The sky was marked with striations of yellow, then grey, then further back — dark grey tinged with blue. It almost looked like cardboard cutouts of the sky in those colors. The birds fell silent, and then… I could see trees in the distance, waving. As the dark grey striation enlarged to include the houses 2 blocks away, their trees rocked in the wind. I took two breaths, then suddenly a shock of wind and rain rushed through the window and hit my knees, book, and face. The rain sheeted down, I raced to slam windows shut, and the street outdoors filled.

Small rivulets/waves could be seen glinting in the sun as they rocketed against the street curbs and curled their way down to the drain at the base of the hill. The light was amazing: trees turned new colors, the rain was a silver veil, and bits of blue sky showed up like flecks in a hazel eye.

And then the storm was gone to the bay. Cold, clammy breezes replaced stifling weather with electric grit in the air. Today, the sky is calm, the air is bright and cool, and lavender scent quietly fills the house. Luckily there is no chorus of mowers whining nearby, since it’s too wet to mow. Instead, I can hear the air move outdoors in the trees, and birdsong travels through the air from near and far.

*The poem was “To the Grasshopper and the Cricket.” It was written in a sonnet contest with Keats, who wrote on the same topic. Interesting to compare the two poems. Hunt’s 1816 (1817) poem begins: “Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,/ catching your heart up at the feel of June,/Sole voice that’s heard amidst the lazy noon,/….” Found in English Romantic Writers, edited by David Perkins, (C) 1967.

Valuing the Unseen

The vanilla scent of lilies wafts in an open kitchen window, announcing their presence.

And within that scent lie memories of sitting on porches — that of my home and my friends’ homes — while reading stories or making up stories or watching the cars go by. Dusk filters into the evenings of my memories, and somehow I still feel like I’m 12 years old again

Sometimes, a garden reveals its presence in the night. Yes, even in the dark the white flowers gently glow in moonlight, echoing the stars above. But I’m unlikely to stand outdoors in the dark for a long enough time to let my eyes adjust. The mosquitoes are legion.

The smell of rain on hot, dusty streets brings me back to age 21, when I was living in the big City on a street without grass and one tree, worrying about rent checks and a crummy economy. The crackling electric smell of a thunderstorm reminds me of age 14, when I was out on the roof of my friends’ house, watching a storm (kids don’t do this: the collateral damage from parents, let alone the danger, is not worth the excitement).

Scent can be as powerful as a time warp in a movie. It can be a simple reminder to enjoy a cool breeze on a hot night. It’s cold and fresh as fir branches under snow or warming like cinnamon and vanilla on baking day. Of all the senses, the sense of smell is the most ephemeral.

What scents “send you” down memory lane?