Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

Beaded Coral

I managed to make it in to the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Exhibition in the Science Gallery in Dublin yesterday to be fully immersed in the colourful and playful world of crocheted coral.
It was very beautiful, a lot of fun and a really impressive amount of work. (Although it was not very well labeled unfortunately - this was not a problem for me at least, as I was involved in the project and knew all about it, but sadly disappointing for others as there is so much to engage with that its a pity to miss out on all that is behind it...)
More beaded corals

There was an Irish Reef - contributed by all the Irish crocheters and knitters, general travelling reefs from various contributors around the world, and a toxic reef made from waste plastic.

The Irish Reef

Close-up of one of the other travelling reefs

The toxic reef

Recognise that white plastic coral under the orange bit? (My contribution to the Toxic Reef, yay!)

More Toxic Reef

It was good to take part in it, even if the organisation was a bit patchy and disappointingly some of the coral I'd sent in was not on display... But the whole collection was fantastic. I love the mix of craft, environmentalism and complex mathematics that the reef brings together in a beautiful, fun and rich way. And I got to meet some talented women I've only previously had virtual contact with, so all in all a successful day out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventures in Spinning: Shetland

Its been a while since I've done much spinning what with life's busy-ness at the moment. Also, after reading Anne Field's Spinning Wool - Beyond the Basics, I was feeling a bit daunted at the task. A talented fellow knitter (and spinner) loaned me the book, (thank you!) which is unfortunately out of print. Anne Field really knows her fleece, and its been a real treasure trove of technical information including a really helpful section on how to classify a fleece.

One thing I found very limiting was her viewpoint on how a fleece should be used. This depends on the character of the wool - she recommends a larger yarn with less twists per inch for a larger fibre size with less crimps per inch. This makes complete sense, but just isn't what my hands do naturally.

After reading the book, I spent some time learning to spin at a constant speed to get more even results in terms of twists per inch by counting treadles per inch....and then went back to doing it by feel. Its great to learn the technicalities, but I found it put me off the fun of just doing it. I came to spinning as something that feels instinctive, something with its own rhythm, that I've just gone with the flow of, and somehow the technical side took some of the fun away.

After watching Lambing Live on BBC these last few nights, I felt totally inspired to get back at the wheel. So I got out some Shetland fleece - combed tops in a mixture of colours - white, moorit, grey and chocolate brown/black, with a staple length of 3 - 5" and roughly 16 crimps per inch.
I made some worsted spun 2-ply, - 12 wraps per inch and 8 twists per inch......which knit up nicely on 3.75mm needles...
...and some finer yarn - almost lace weight - 16+ wpi and 13 tpi.There are the two together.It was lovely fibre to spin. (But then again, I seem to think that about every fibre.) (Except cotton - that was hard going.) Shetland wool seems to be the finest yarn from sheep in the U.K, and I've enjoyed knitting with commercially spun Shetland before, but I was a little surprised at the itchiness of my sample. The finer yarn was even more itchy, but possibly had too much twist in it. (My beginner's dodgy spinning...)

Shetland sheep are a small and hardy breed that come from (surprise, surprise) the Shetland Isles, and come in lots of gorgeous colours. You have to love some of the amazing names for the different colourings - smirslet, bersugget, yuglet and latmoget being just some. One of the things Shetland yarn is known best for is lace weight shawls that are so light they fit through a finger ring.

I love the rarer breeds of sheep with their incredibly different characteristics, and beautiful varied fleeces. But for now, its just nice to get out the wheel.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Many Coney Islands of Her Mind

I've been working on this travelling case for the Dowager Marchylove, to hold graphic scores I made using stones from the original Coney Island, and sound poetry by the Dowager
It'll be winging its way to New York soon, to the Grupat show in Chelsea Art Museum in April.

The most amusing (and embarrassing) part of this project was creating the paper for the outside of the box - an amalgamation of various diagrams of genitals and rectums from an ancient anatomy book. The woman in my local photocopy shop didn't blink an eye though, as I handed her the book and asked to photocopy all the lovely pictures.
I just ran away as fast as I could after paying...
I think the Dowager will enjoy her new travelling case though, and enjoy bringing it on her sound walks.
For more information on the Dowager,check out these photos of her performing with Tony Conrad, or her bio. Below is an excerpt from it:

The Dowager Marchylove erupted full-grown from the forehead of Archbishop Jack Fox in 1997, blossoming into the world like a gleaming ivory flower and bringing with her a bad, bad love for all the dirty sounds. She got her start taking naughty pictures and has since progressed to naughty sounds