Lost Arts studio
A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."
- Name: Alwen
- Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States
On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)
10 February 2014
09 February 2014
03 June 2013
Ten Years Ago
Ten years ago, our son was three-just-turning-four, and we needed to replace our ten-year-old car.
My husband was in a bit of a hurry to replace the car, as he was getting ready to leave for two weeks of annual training. He was hoping to pick out the new one before he left. He had this idea that he'd buy it, but not take it home until he got back.
He brought me with him, because I'm a lot more resistant to sales tactics than he is. And we brought our son to reinforce the "just looking" vibe.
The salesman ran through the litany of every high-pressure sales tactic in the book, from "I'll go talk to my manager" (leaving us sitting in a tiny office with an active, bored older toddler) to "Someone else is looking at that gray one, so if you don't sign today, it probably won't be there when you come back." And I could see my husband getting ready to sign on the dotted line.
And then the salesman said they had to have the license plate off the car my husband was planning to drive to annual training. Actually, he said he HAD to have it, and again made the pressuring threat about the new car not being there.
Anyone who knows me would have known this would not work. Being pushed does not make me cave in, it just awakens a veritable Vesuvius of stubborn.
I was already getting ticked off over the hours of trying to keep our son from running wild all over the showroom, and being told what I HAD TO do was that one step too far.
I blew up, told them where they could stick their car, and walked off with the kid. I even started to drive off without my husband, but the kid cried and made me stop.
With all that in mind:
Today someone made a comment on Ravelry about going to a car dealership with their mister. Someone else asked why they took a spray bottle to test-drive cars. And suddenly I had this wonderful idea:
If I had thought to bring a spray bottle when we went to go car shopping, every time the salesman tried another tactic, SQUIRT!
Cats. Car salespeople. Maybe they can be taught!
11 October 2012
It's National Coming Out day.
I basically came out as weird the moment I left the birth canal. I was a weird child and I'm a weird adult. I was told at my wedding by a relative that I was not just weird but "SO WEIRD".
The weird child faces teasing and bullying by other children and by children in grown-up bodies. There are no campaigns or ribbons for weirdness. The weird adult faces obstacles in finding friends, dates, and jobs.
These days many of the weird are diagnosed with something, but when I was growing up, I was just weird and had to figure out how to cope with a world that couldn't figure me out. I was chased and teased and beaten up in hallways. Sometimes I think it was a minor miracle I survived.
But I did. And I'd like to thank my husband and my many friends who accept my weirdness, and the colonies of fellow weird people I've found via the internet.
It's so nice not to be alone any more.
16 July 2012
An Open Letter to Michigan State University
To Whom It May Concern:
As a graduate of Michigan State University, I urge the design team for the new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams facility to SAVE THE TREES!
Dr. Don Dickman, Professor Emeritus of the MSU Department of Forestry, writes:
YOUR VOICE ON A SERIOUS MATTER IS NEEDED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. As you may know, MSU and the Cyclotron have been awarded a contract by US/DOE to built the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB). Within the least few days we have learned some of the details. To make room for the large industrial/warehouse style buildings that are needed for FRIB, the beautiful Bogue Street boulevard that runs north-south in front of the Wharton Center for Performing Arts will be bulldozed and the venerable oak trees (~150 years old) that grace it will be felled. These trees have stood there since the very beginning of the campus. Ironically, Bogue Street is named for the first Chair of the Department of Forestry at MSU when the department was created in 1902. Its destruction would be a slap in the face for MSU Forestry! Plans also in the works show that the attractive traffic circle at Shaw and Bogue Streets will be eliminated, along with the ancient oak and walnut trees that occupy it. In its place will be more asphalt. Apparently no creative thought given to how the natural beauty of this area of campus could be preserved while still allowing the necessary construction.
In the last few days a group has been formed of concerned faculty and staff to head off this travesty. The current plans could be altered to save the trees and maybe even Bogue Street. YOU CAN HELP! The concerns of alumni must be heard. Please write an email message to Jeff Kacos, Head of Campus Planning & Administration (email@example.com) and Konrad Gelbke, Director of the Cyclotron (firstname.lastname@example.org) and express your opposition to the destruction of the trees.
MSU is renowned for the beauty of its campus. It's also renowned for its scientific work. But the two NEED NOT BE AT ODDS! This could be a win-win situation if the FRIB plans were altered to save the trees. Please help us out.
MSU graduates, knitters, and Twitter-friends, help me get the word out!
I have already emailed Jeff Kacos, Head of Campus Planning & Administration (email@example.com) and Konrad Gelbke, Director of the Cyclotron (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please add your voices to mine!
Show the world that MSU can be a model for tree-friendly construction. Cutting-edge research does not have to mean cutting down the trees!
01 May 2012
Death, loss, and change, that's what this year is about.
Crap. I hate change.
This is turning into one of those years.
First it was a big loss, and then a more minor loss, and now it's riffing on annoying little changes.
The more minor loss was my part-time job. I kept quiet about that because I was embarrassed. But this year has become annoying enough that I don't feel like keeping quiet about it any more.
For over three years I had this great little part-time job cleaning a couple of local banks in the evenings. It was a great job for an introvert, all by myself (usually) in the empty building, with a set amount of time to do a set list of tasks. It was physically demanding, a three-hour workout twice a week that I got paid for.
And then, I got fired. For the stupidest reason on the planet:
Every so often, about a four-pack worth of the cheesy institutional toilet paper would disappear out of the case in the furnace room at one of my locations. It was annoying - I knew someone at the bank was taking it, but I had no way to lock it up.
I tried keeping a running tally on the side of the box, hoping the thief would get the clue that I knew how much they used per week, and would lay off and shell out for their own toilet paper. But no.
Then I tried another tactic: I wrote "Honesty is the best policy," which I thought was a pretty innocuous statement to make in a bank, on a piece of paper, and left that in the toilet paper box.
And I got fired. First I got a call from my manager, asking if I "left them a note", and I explained. I was reprimanded.
A couple weeks later, the manager asked to meet me, and told me I was fired. Someone at the bank had called the cleaning service and said I had left them a "nasty note".
So yeah: I was fired for trying to get someone else to quit stealing. Go me!
09 March 2012
A Little Knitting Mystery
I've probably mentioned before that one of my favorite knitting books is Mary Thomas's Book of Knitting Patterns. Between that and Mary Thomas's Knitting Book, there are very few aspects of the knitting universe left uncovered. A technique might be called by an obscure name, but it's probably in there, however briefly. This pair of books has history, lace, garment design - even how to graft ribbing.
They are full of little historical snippets that make me want to know more: what happened to Mrs. Hermann Tragy's knitting collection? (WWII, I'm afraid.)
Does the amazing piece of knitted lace shown in the Pattern Book on page 190, Fig. 194, still exist?
But today's little mystery is this: on page 241 of her Pattern book, Fig. 235 (on the left in the photo), Mary Thomas has what the caption calls "Knitted Doyley. Modern Danish."
I've always liked this little doily, and guess what was in one of the recent Niebling reprints, Schöne Spitzen?
That would be the charted pattern on the right, Wilhelmine.
Now I know a lot of stuff is getting tagged "Herbert Niebling" that probably isn't. Knitters these days have a lot more name recognition than they ever did in the past, so putting Herbert Niebling in as the designer is more likely to sell patterns than admitting that the designer's name is lost.
But Mary Thomas labels this as "modern". To me that means it was published in her lifetime, and her book was printed in 1938. I have a hard time believing she would have mixed Denmark up with any part of Germany, especially since seven pages later she calls another doily Bavarian.
Probably not Niebling. Who was this Danish knitting pattern designer?
I'll probably never know, but it's a charming little pattern.
29 February 2012
Remember these teapots?I bought the little one a couple of Octobers ago, the same day I found my Egeblad mirror tray.
At the time, because I live near an area heavily settled by the Dutch, I assumed they were Delft-style tin-glazed pottery.
But lately I started trying to find out more about them, and couldn't find anything Delft-style that really resembled them.
Pages of porcelain marks were no help, as they are both blank and smooth on the base.
I browsed through pages and pages of Chinese export porcelain, and posted a photo on a Chinese antique porcelain webpage. The owner said they could be Japanese.
So then I looked at more pages of blue and white teapots, and eBay guesses they might be Japanese Arita ware, like this teapot or this one.
Any porcelain experts out there who know for sure?
They are nice little pots and I use them both regularly now.
22 February 2012
Fixing Stuff, EcoFan Edition
Followed by my handful of Netherlands pics.
We've had an EcoFan, the original two-blade model, on the top of our soapstone woodstove for a long time, I think maybe 8 or 9 years.
The EcoFan is a really cool woodstove fan that works by magic! Well, close enough. It has no cord. You just put it on the top of the hot stove, towards the back, and it uses the Seebeck effect to run a little motor that spins the fan blades.
The hotter the stove gets, the faster the blades spin. Magic!
It worked GREAT until last winter, when I began to notice it slowing down, and sometimes it wouldn't start unless I gave the blades a little tap. I had gotten used to being able to judge the temperature of the stove by how fast the fan was going, and I really missed being able to glance up and do that.
So I got on the internet and went hunting. I found Nathan's post at Fixya.com and tried his solution. I bought heat sink compound (silicone heat sink grease) from Radio Shack for $4.
I really should have taken pictures as I did this, but I was nervous of destroying it, and I didn't.
First I took the blades off the motor using a small hex key, just to get them out of the way and keep them from being damaged.
My fan has two hex-head screws that hold the top part to the base. When I unscrewed those and took the fan apart, I could faintly see where this grease had been.
I gently scrubbed it off with a green nylon kitchen scrubby, and as long as I had the whole thing apart, I cleaned all the metal parts except the motor and the Peltier junction.
My fan had the following layers:
A: top with the blades and motor
B: Peltier junction - this is the bit attached by 2 wires to the motor
C: two layers (squares) of white ?insulating material
I put the heat sink grease on the top and bottom of the Peltier junction. This sticks the top of the junction to the top of the fan. Then I stuck the first square of white insulation to the bottom of the junction and gently squished it around.
(I tried to reposition one of the white squares after it was greased and stuck on, and chipped the very corner off with my fingernail, so if you're doing this to your fan, be careful repositioning them. It works better to slide them to the edge than try to pry them up by one edge.)
Then I greased the bottom square and stuck it back to the bottom of the fan, then fitted the whole thing back together, screwed the screws back in, and put the blades back on.
And she works! Ha!
(I've put them up small, but you can click to embiggen.)
We went to the Artis (zoo, botanical garden, aquarium) on our first full day in Amsterdam. This was the coldest wettest day of our trip. The rest was warm for late October, and we even had sun!
Sign on a cage in the Artis in Amsterdam:
Penguin-feeding (and herons stealing their food) at the Artis:
From Amsterdam, we went to Rijnsburg and did a little sightseeing in Katwijk:
And we took a daytrip into Leiden:
From Rijnsburg we travelled to Dalfsen. Most of the Dutch windmills look like this:
Then if I turned 90 degrees and took a photo out the window, it looked like this:
And the typical side roads looked like this:
After Dalfsen, we went up into Frieslan and stayed in Lauwersoog:
On the way, we made a side trip to IJlst, where I found some "wildbreien" (yarnbombing)!
It was so beautiful and so green in IJlst:
And finally we had to drive back down through Harlingen to Amsterdam again:
On our last night in Amsterdam, we stayed in an attic hotel room - see the edge of the hook they use to lift furniture through the windows? A beautiful last view of the city before we flew home:
29 January 2012
I Don't Know Why This is Harder
I have lots of good memories of my grama, my dad's mom. For whatever reason, it's been a lot harder to put them into words.
So the heck with trying to get this mess to cohere, I'm just going to put down the bits and pieces that come into my head.
The first handknit socks I remember seeing were knit by her for my dad.
When I was a teenager and she and my grampa started taking their camper out to southern California and Arizona for the winter, they pared down their household possessions, and she gave me some things.
One was the orange lustreware tea set I posted about several Januaries ago.
Another was a set of sterling silverware. Between the two, I could set quite a nice little tea party table, and it drives me wild that the phrase has been taken away from the event where the table is covered with an ironed linen cloth, where there is a bunch of sweet violets in a vase, where the crusts are cut off the triangular sandwiches.
She had the most awesome bubbling chuckling laugh. You could never mistake it for anyone else's.
When I was a little girl, we went out to their house a lot. My dad had a garden in their back lot. I remember the smell of the hot sand and the brambles - my own back lot smells like that.
Another reason we went out there was that my dad's mixed-breed hunting dog, a long-legged hound mix called Zip, lived out there until I was about five. (We were renting a house next to a church, and Zip howled when they sang the hymns, so he had to live at Grama and Grampa's.)
For years their dining room was dominated by a spindly orange tree she told me my dad had grown from a seed. There were two great little kid-sized rocking chairs (I have one of them), and we used to sit in them and drink Sprite while the grown-ups talked, after it got too dark and mosquito-y to play outside.
We used to cram their house at Christmas Eve, until there just got to be too many of us to fit. They always had a live tree, a prickly blue spruce, in a huge pot to plant outdoors after Christmas.
I remember my grama doing the newspaper crossword puzzles in ink. I thought that was amazing.
And I miss them both so much.