Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New year - new socks

You will be pleased to know tht Frances has claimed her socks, and for the second post in a row the main subject will again be socks. This year seems to be off to a slow start knit wise, I've been plugging along on some previously abandoned WIPs, a 100th anniversary EX shawl that I started ages ago to fill a gap on the needles, I'm ignoring the sanquhar mitts that I startd in February of 2012, and my latest cardigan has half a sleeve ... and languishes in the knit basket beside my chair. That all changed last night when peeking at my ravelry 'friends' recent activity I came across a pair of socks Ode to frogs and the frog pond by Adrienne Fong. Well the idea of knitting socks within frogs on them was just too tempting. I dug around for greenish frog coloured yarn, found some, bought the pattern, wound the skein into a neat center pull ball on my nostephinne, and cast on. This past week has also had spinning, and drawing distractions ... which I will explain.
Here we are, Top down, not my usual toe up, and I've not even thought about reverse engineering the pattern. The green is more grey blue, but I know intellectually that frogs come in many shades, not just bright frog green so this will do. Knit on some new favorite needles, knit pro/knit picks carbon fiber circulars ... Nice.
This was what I was knitting before I was distracted, I had resumed knitting on my Red Berry Pi, a circular shawl based in the pi principles developed for knitting by Elizabeth Zimmerman. This pattern is by Mwaa Knit, and is free, released to celebrate 100 years of EZ, way back in 2010. I was late to the celebrations as I only cast on in 2012. Maybe this will be my 100 year shawl? When I picked this up after Christmas after a several month break from knitting it I had no idea where in the repeats I was ... So frogged back to the previous increase ring. Turns out I was somewhere in the midst of working the 288 stitch ring. I've now completed that ring and have just startd on the 576 stitch ring. That is slow going instead of one or two four round repeats a night I manage two rounds .... I'm easily distracted but realize that if I abandon this again I will forget just where I am again.
There has been some spinning, I'm now 3/4 of the way through my current sock yarn project. Three bobbins done, one to go , then ply and finish and store away for the next Handspun sock project.

With all that going on my latest cardigan languishes, contiguous tempest, needing only half a sleeve and another full sleeve. The weather has been so warm and summery that knitting a merino possum silk cardigan seems the last thing I should do.

I'm still on leave, another week or so to go, and while I 'should' be doing lots of chores around the house I have spent a lot of time relaxing and doing creative things like Bookbinding. I tell myself that lots of bookbinding practice is required to prepare to teach at Unwind, and drawing. That I tell myself is because I am booked into a three day workshop on printmaking at the art school next month. I'd love to feel more confident in visually communicating my thoughts and ideas without words, heck - I'd love to be more confident with words. I've also put my hand up to up-skill on visual note taking, as part of a my 'professional development' for 2013. Doing that means spending a lot more time recording the world and ideas visually rather than verbally ... A scary thought as I usually reassure my students that if I can work in design with drawings that look like maimed stick figures they don't have to be scared of showing me their drawings.
To psych myself up for printmaking and for undertaking a drawing course I went hunting for easy ways to Improve my drawing and my drawing confidence. I hunted out library books and looked at loads of how to draw videos online. Then I came across WetCanvas, a forum not unlike ravelry but for artists, where there is a virtual classroom. I've lurked, and read and read and signed up to work my way through drawing 101, a serries of 30+ online self paces classes that aim to improve drawing from real life. I'm learning new terms like RL, short for real life, and I'm having fun.
I'm up to class five, drawing spheres, and I'm spending a huge amount of time lost in sketching and drawing instead of gardening or knitting. This is fun, I'm not perfect, and luckily I can see most of the mistakes I've made once I've finished and walked away. I hope to develope the skill of seeing mistakes and errors whilst I'm working ... That would be nice. I've set up a slopped drawing board, and gathered together a range of pencils, erasers, blue tack, and I'm drawing. Not sketching but really drawing, taking time to polish, refine and render the things I'm drawing. Here are things I've found around my house. None of these are perfect but they are improving, and i am drawing freehand. I'm aware that I find simple shapes less of a challenge, people, faces, hands and complex things like that scare me silly, probably always will but who knows perhaps this course will combat my fear of drawing complex things like people?
Each of the classes covers a principle, skill, or technique used in drawing, and asks the student to draw things from their environment to develop proficiency with that skill or technique or principle. Then several images are supplied, as either photos or drawings and the student is asked to draw them for themselves. Many many students have gone before me, each posting work for critique by rather considerate and encouraging, insightful volunteer tutors. After looking at the work of those who have gone before, reading comments and observing I am able to take my time and prepare my own interpretation of the excercise photos. For this class on spheres, one of the examples is a solitary eye 'borrowed' from a photo by Man Ray titled 'tears'. The process isn't quick, a drawing takes hours (as does knitting), and for me involves multiple sketches to develope the proportions before transferring my best lines to a new sheet of paper and working on a final drawing. And the critiques are honest, so if the proportions are odd, or the lines confused - the comments will say that. And it's very much hand held, someone guides you through seeing what needs to be drawn and how to do that. The course is a great confidence builder .... Knowing that if I slowdown and take my time I can achieve something like this is an amazing feeling of achievement. If you a keen, there is a process to follow, after joining wetcanvas you introduce yourself and post an image of a recent drawing you have done of something challenging, until you have done this the classes are closed to you. That is scary, posting a 'before' photo, before doing any classes to improve ... But so worthwhile.
So take care, please excuse the drawing content on my knit blog, and forgive me for being distracted, I'm sure it will pass and knitting will be back in pole position very soon.
Na stella

1 comment:

Knitting Linguist said...

I am very intrigued by the visual notetaking course; I hope you'll share some of what you learn. I actually am not sure, as they say, that word-based notetaking fights against my particular brain structure - I am so text-oriented that I have been known to read my dreams (not to dream that I am reading, but to see my dreams as text, which I read, and then visualize). Brains are odd as fish, sometimes...