Sunday, April 29, 2012

In the artsy mood

Friday I felt that needed to create, to be daring and to make something with impact out of mixed materials.

It is really rainy in Madrid these days (which is a good thing, but dreary), I had had a long week and needed some color and the meditation of creating something. So I pulled out some yarn, some wool, some wool felt, and, my watercolor crayons. I cut a piece of 100% wool felt from the Fieltro store off of Calle Mayor, and got to work.

I decided to use the gray yarn this time and just make random shapes with it. To my delight as I began to fill in the shapes with complimentary colors, the piece began to remind me of a Gaudí mosaic. After I filled in the shapes I had made I put another line of gray wool on top of the first. to make the lines more distinct. The I trimmed the edges to straight and you see what I saw in the picture below.

Then it was off to the iron to steam finish the wool. Ater that (and ironing all of my clothes, I miss dryers so much) I sat down to think how to finish this piece. Framing 2D needlefelting has always been an issue for me and I have never found a solution. I decided to cut out a bigger piece of felt, cut the same size hole as the original piece in the center, and baste the original piece onto it. I got the effect that I was hoping for, a 1mm height difference between the two pieces.

OK, now I need to do the daring part and play with mixed media. I embroidered the lines radiating out of the center piece with backstitch and the same gray yarn. (I have always loved the continuity of bring the frame into a piece.) Then I got out my water color crayons, a small glass of water with vinegar in it, in the hopes that the color would be more likely to fast, and got to work.

I do not know, I still have my doubts about this piece being finished. I think deep down in my heart I do not believe that I can make art, even though I firmly believe that everyone can make art. I think part of my thought process is that art should not be easy, and if I can do it, is it too easy?

Lately I have noticed this distinction in me and I have been pushing myself more to explore outside the box. I have the fear that if I take something a step further that instead of making something better I am going to ruin it. It upsets me, this feeling, after all, what am I really losing besides me time? What if countless artist and inventors before me had thought the same? Where would we be as a speices?

The sweater from the last post was a good example of me going ahead in spite of my fear, and designing a top out of my handspun that took my countless numbers of hours to spin, and was so thin and fragile I could not rip it out more then once. The top turned out well and I am happy with it, but still I wonder, how long will it take to trust my creativity?

The 100 gram sweater

I started spinning this yarn for the tour de Fleece 2011 on a homemade supported spindle that I had made. The spinning took forever to complete, and when I was skeining skein I knew why. I got over 800 yards of lace weight from 4oz, something I had never done before. The fiber was Faulkland wool handyed by Fat Cat Knits in the colorway "Ester". I had 4ozs.

Then I started thinking about the concept of a shawl that I could wear everywhere, including maybe the various offices I work at. I have no idea why I was thinking "socially acceptable shawl" as I live in Spain and shawls are used daily here.

I was hoping to make, maybe, a little lace vest. I had no idea how much tee I could get out of 800 yards. I would start out with the lace yoke of the vest and work my way down as far as I could go. I used the shaping of the yoke from this pattern and then worked the math to increase for the non-lacy part of the yoke.

The lace pattern was "Wings from the Swan" p.306 from Barbara Walkers 2nd treasury, which I charted by hand.

I put the lace panel running down the middle front and the middle back of the piece. I did this mostly so that I could make the yarn go further, ie a longer tee. For the front lace panel I cast on the 20 stitches (out of 23) for the lace panel in order to leave a stylized gap in the front. I might put buttons on one side of the gap. I left YO buttonholes on the other side.

I had to rip back about 4 inches to alternate the ends of the skein as a big purple stripe was happening right at my bust line. I continued alternating until I reached my hips. I did not do any waist shaping because I was aware that this pattern had negative ease. (Maybe too much negative ease.) I knit in the round using my new cubics knit pro needles until I thought that I would run out of yarn soon. I switched to garter stitch in the round for an inch and then I did some spaced increases every-other-row over the next 6 rounds.

For the sleeves I used the stitches on waist yarn and picked up 10 stitches that was provisionally cast on before and knit three rounds before switching to a K1P1 rib for 10 rounds and binding off in purl.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Urban Madrid

 Thursday I felt the artistic urge to capture some of Madrid's Urban-ess with my Iphone.

Starting with this picture I took for a friend who is into stitching. It is a poster for a play, it says "piel en Llamas" which means the name of the play is face in flames. I am not sure if I am ready to see that, but the advertisement was cool.

A view out the bus window at the mid-way point of my commute. I saw this view, and thought "I should capture this to share. This is true Madrid." 

I pass by this building two times a week. There is writing in at least 10 different languages on the walls, but I can never get a good picture as the bus is going highway speed.

Even in Business Madrid there are small old style European touches.

My bus stop after class. The bus stop right off of the highway.

I am more then a little intrigued by this building, and with the storm approaching, the background and lighting were perfect. I did not use any software to play with the colors in this photo (I rarely do) and what you see is what I saw.

Waiting at another bus stop.

Saturday we explored a different part of the neighborhood today and came across this building...

With this church right next to it.

And on the walk home we saw this sign. There you go the true Madrid, or "Madrid en realidad". I do not want to write it in English to avoid the football fans flooding my blog.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


A quick post to let you know that everyone in my household is doing well.

That Spring is here in Madrid, along with it's erratic weather and beauty.

And that I have taken up yet another craft project due to a friends influence.
I am embellishing napkins with spirographs....and today I bought some handkerchiefs. 

Life has been a little crazy here, and I even had to break my no work on the weekend rule with a three hour private lesson this morning. I am looking forward to Sunday and some relaxing.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday in the Park with George

Ok I was not with George, but I could not resist.

I managed to convince my other half that taking a 15 minute bus ride to further explore the Parque de Buen Retiro was a good idea. Boy, I am glad that we went! (Despite the weather being a little off.) There is just so much more of that park that we have never seen!

Plus it is so good to be in a place just surrounded by greenery and flowers, and not buildings.

It has been a busy week again at work, but I have managed to get to a pont where I do not work on weekends, I can deal with it on Monday. A little sanity is now coming back into my life with this rule.

Anyway, this park is like the Central Park of Madrid. I get off the bus at the Puerto de Alcalá, which is a sight that I will never get tired off. 

This build across the way was getting renovated, and the renovation plastic had the windows printed on.

You can see that the weather was, well typical spring time odd. I took this picture one minute (at the gates entering the park).

Then I took this picture about 2 minutes later.

There are so many sections to this park. It is definitely a must see if you come to Madrid.

Spring flowers, does anyone know what these are?

This was the "forest of remembering" a memorial to all people whose death was caused by terrorism. This was by far the most beautiful memorial I have seen.

Then we got hungry and decided to hunt down some food and a beer. You have to go back to the more populated parts of the park for that. We snacked with this view in front of us of the boating pond.

The monument was of Alfonso the 12th, the "peacemaker" and was the first monument donated to the people of Spain and was built in 1902.

I was a good day in the park, I practiced a little Spanish with my DH, walked along peaceful flowering avenues, and had some kettle corn. Why does tomorrow have to be Monday?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Parque del Oeste

In Spain we usually have a long holiday for Easter. In fact I had a four day weekend, which was very nice.

I will let you look up Semana Santa and all of the images yourself, because in spite of our best intentions we did not get out to see any of the festivities. This was due to the fact that it rained...a lot. Which is good, but it left only Easter day fresh and beautiful enough to spend time outside.

We were going to go to Aranjuez, which is a small town with some extensive gardens and a palace, but we realized that the buses were going to be impossible on a holiday Sunday. So we hopped on the metro and went to park that we have been meaning to explore. Parque Del Oeste.

Most of my picture will just represent spring, and how lucky I was to capture the light just so.

There are parrots in Madrid. They ARE wild, as in the fact that they are not domesticated, but they are not native. They are cute though.

I fully intend to take this one day, it goes from this park to the top of Casa de Campo which is a big forested park on the East of the city.

We ended up back at the Temple of Debod, which has got to be one of my favorite things in Madrid.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Toledo the forth

Da Vinci was a genius before his time, with the materials that he had to hand he came up with the most extraordinary machines. Also he drew pictures of precise human anatomy well before anyone else. 

In this exhibit we were allowed to take photographs of the wooden reproductions mades from Da Vinci's drawings.

A circular tank that could move in any direction with the use of wooden gears.

Close up of the gear system.

He came up with the basis of the helicopter! But sadly he did not have the material or technology to make one work.

His famous flying machine hose specs were used to help make the first airplane.

An ingenious paddleboat!

He came up with the bicycle! Maybe all of you already knew this, but I was stunned.

All of these were in a medieval building with soft medieval music playing in the background. The ambiance was perfect, and made this experience even more special. 
This wooden shield was taken off of the front of the building, restored, and placed inside. (Da Vinci did not make this.) FYI this was the only sign that I had to read in Spanish. The exhibit had an excellent English translation for each piece of Da Vinci's.

As we walked outside the tiny Museum.

A good pictures of what the surrounding area looks like.

I just love this picture of this monastery.

This is a close up of the circular window you see above. It looks like an old fashioned spinning wheel!

A beautiful place. This concludes my Toledo series for now, but I have a feeling that I will be going back.