Sunday, February 10, 2008

A jumble of stuff.

Much like my office.

First off, some links. Turns out the ancient Maya used mica in the paint on one of their temples. That's the same stuff that gives the glittery effect in some modern nail polish. Very cool. Article here.

Someone with a very good knowledge of how the brain 'sees' color has produced some optical illusions. I am amazed. Link. More here. Really makes you think about how color is relative, at least as our brain sees it.

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Next up, a book review. "World Textiles, a concise history" by Mary Schoeser.

This book... well, it's weird. I don't think the author knows doodly-squat about actually CREATING textiles, in terms of sitting down and doing her own spinning, knitting, or weaving. Technical information seems one step removed, if you get me. Things are defined almost entirely by structure. She also spends a lot of effort tracking gory details of things she's interested in (I assume) and blows off a lot of other, bigger issues. There is an inordinate amount of text spent tracking tapestry weavers in the 1500s, and almost nothing on prehistoric production, dyes, fibers, etc. It's kinda weird, really. Plus, on page 79, she dates the development of knitting 500 years earlier than my most optimistic guesses - to quote, "Plain multi-needle knitting had been worked in Syria since the third century." Uh huh. On the other hand, she found a pair of knitted gloves I've never seen before, that push the date of knitting in Spain back about 25 years to 1247 ish. (They are creditied to the "Archivio de Obras Restauradas". A Google search turns up nothing... at least nothing I can read. My Spanish is pretty remedial. Anyone else turns up any info, let me know?)

Bottom line, the book gets a great big 'eh' from me. The prose itself is pretty tedious to get through, I question the validity of a lot of her conclusions, and it's seriously slanted toward what people now consider art.

But on the other hand, it's got lots of pretty pictures. You can get it on line for ten bucks, and if you love looking at textiles, it might be worth it for the photos alone.

Next up, I'm reading "Bright Earth: art and the invention of color" by Phillip Ball. I'm sarting to worry about my brain overloading, and melting. I'm sure it'll be a pretty color as it runs out my ears.

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What am I doing? Still trying to figure out how to spin. Some of you have asked questions, so I'll try to answer them all here... No, I have no clue what I'm doing. It's not a situation where I learned how to spin and then got a wheel. I've jumped in the deep end and just bought the damn thing. The other day when I spun up my hair... it's still on my head. I pushed the drive wheel backward and wound my hair back out, mostly while chanting "Ow damn fuck ow." The husbeast has, wisely, not commented.

Generally, my lessons tend to run like this: Set up wheel, spin for a while (still spinning rovings, to get the hang of treadling), wind up with a horrible snarl, and walk away for a cup of tea and some chocolate. The latest looks something like this:

Right, more chocolate.

Otherwise, the alum that I'm planning to use as a mordant got here, and the natural dyes also arrived. I'm trying to get motivated to wind out the balls and balls and balls of sock yarn I have, into skeins, and get dyeing. I'm using superwash-nylon blend sock yarn because it's really freaking durable (in terms of boiling it and smooshing it around) and since I don't knit socks, all the experiments will be up for sale. Hopefully someone will want them. I'm going to have to adjust prices according to what I dye the yarn with... cochineal is fucking expensive. So's saffron.

The indigo vat may wait until spring... I'm not sure. Still researching. For those of you giggling with glee at the thought of smelling up my entire house, I hate to disappoint you, but the unholy reek associated with indigo vats, comes from using urine as a reducing agent. And, at least for now, I won't be doing that. (I may get a wild hair over the summer and try doing a 'traditional' indigo vat, but I doubt it.) As a substitution, I may be using beer yeast.

As always, the insanity will be documented. You know, for insurance purposes. Ha.

Oh, and I pulled the Russian Prime out of retirement and got back to work. It needs sleeves. Which meant cutting a steek:

Now I need to get off my lazy ass and pick up the stitches. I bought myself an Addi Turbo in the hopes it would motivate me. So far, nope.

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For the one or two of you still following along on the health news (and if you aren't, I don't blame you, I'm rather sick of all this shit myself), I'm feeling better. Which is probably obvious from the blog posts. Turns out, a lot of aches and pains I'm having (which I had worried were the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, to the point of being tested for it in 2004) were actually my thyroid problem. I assume it's compounded by my funky nervous system, but whatever. There are aches I've had for three or four years, disappearing. So... yay. (Still wanna kiss my new doctor on the lips, but they frown on girl-on-girl stuff in the military.)

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One of the Goob's favorite things is to have you draw things on her magnetic drawing board, and she guesses what it is. While in Florida, the Goob was playing that with her grandma, and my mother-in-law's cat took exeption to his human paying too much attention to the kitten and not him.

Chester, you fucker.


Roxie said...

Still, I do hope you can do your indigo vat outside. It does have a - peculiar - aroma.

Russian Prime is sooo awesome!

NeedleTart said...

Hmmm..... The more Thyroid meds my Dr. gives me, the more I hurt. Connection?

Anonymous said...

I have to say I don't believe in the beginnings of knitting that are generally accepted. We are to believe that the very FIRST knitting was done in a hot place using steeking - which is an advanced technique and doesn't work unless you have a hairy, sticky fiber like wool. Nope - not a chance. First knitting would have been a refinement of nalbinding in a herding culture using wool or something very like it. I have no evidence. I am not sure there can be evidence. It would have looked an awful lot like nalbinding at first. What Egypt has going for it was it's ability to preserve fabric. But I do not believe the initial phase of the craft looked like our best work now. It probably looked just like nalbinding done quicker and they probably tried to make it look like nalbinding for quite a while thereafter.

Donna Lee said...

I don't have a clue how to spin either but I have a craving for a wheel. I figure I can learn just about anything I put my mind to, so why not? I've never let ignorance stop me before. If I did, I wouldn't be wearing hand knit socks now.

Amy Lane said...

Well, Goob should be in potty training by then...for all you know, you'll have an authentic indigo vat for the hell of it...

I just bought (and gave wasn't for me) some Nature's Palette yarn, which is all hand dyed with stuff that the spinner finds around here (NorCal). There was a cochineal color and a madder color...and I immediately thought of you.

And then lost the website address, because I'm a big fat dork. But you know someone out there does it, dyes it, and sells it for profit!

Louiz said...

Even without the urine, indigo smells strongly - my mum grew it and tried to dye with it and the plant smells.. and what she made to dye with smells... so do it outside!

Teresa said...

Is that mica in your pretty blue nail polish?

b said...

You should take up printing. Yesterday 3 of us in my dept. had a long conversations about 30% tint screens and true blacks and then testing different blacks on our printer. I think you would've enjoyed that. Those magnadoodles are great! We play the draw a basketball game. Has she learned trace my hand yet?