Monday, October 16, 2006


I'm often asked where I get my ideas, and the answer? Everywhere. Each new experience offers me riches, if I can take the time to mine it for meaning and understanding.

Blogger won't let me post this picture right now, but check out these links... These mittens are being knit by Latvian knitters for the attendees of the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia. A friend shared this link with me --you can read more about the mittens here and here. I find it so moving that individual knitters are working so hard to welcome these international guests to their country, regardless of what gets done at one NATO summit or another...

If this weren't inspiration enough, I did some travelling this weekend, which I always find stimulating. We went to Dallas for a wedding at the Dallas Arboretum (gorgeous place) and to see friends. The groom was a schoolmate of my husband's and a chance for him to see a several dear childhood friends. They were all interesting, wonderful people and it was a great experience.

Since we don't have a satisfyingly large used bookstore locally, on Sunday we got to visit a huge used bookstore before getting back on the airplanes home. I loaded up on goodies, an audio book on CD by Monica Ali, a novel or two, a knitting book, ... lovely treats for later.

I came home on a real high, lots of new ideas to ponder and the trip was exhausting but fun. This was slightly dampened by a weird phonecall I received with strangely angry and irrational feedback to one of my articles on religion. I didn't learn the caller's name, but she's from New Hampshire, and she's sure I'm going to hell. I suspect this kind of random feedback works because it's given a lot of attention, so that's all I'll offer here ...
I'm heartened by the notion that most Jewish theology doesn't focus on, or believe in, the conventional Western version of hell, so her words, probably intended as a curse, didn't leave much of an impression.

My favorite curse, by the way, still remains a Yiddish one: "May you grow like an onion! Feet in the air and head in the ground..." (sounds horrible to me! Don't worry, I've never used it.)

Not all the experiences are positive, but it all comes together in the things I create eventually.

At home, I have to take time to assimilate experiences before I write or design about them. It takes me a lot of processing time...and I'm often tired out by all the social interactions. Today it's rainy and cold outside, I'm making turkey vegetable soup and homemade wheat bread for dinner, and I'm thinking... so, where do you get inspiration? What do you do with all the input the world gives you? How do you take time to think about it and turn it into meaning?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite yiddish curse was part of my childhood. Father and grandfather would tell their frustrated offspring to "go knock your head against the wall". There were some obscene ones also, my father was only obscene in yiddish.

October 17, 2006 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger e's knitting and spinning blog said...

I love the way you write! You are always clear and very thoughtful:-) I am not a writer!

October 17, 2006 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

This is a perfect Friday question, so it's just as well I didn't have time earlier in the week. For me, the source of inspiration (and what I do with what I get) varies according to the medium or, more accurately, the task. Writing is usually work: when preparing interpretative materials, I read and assimilate every scrap of information I can lay my eyes on, try and visit the site. From this (and discussions with the client) I choose the most important threads and weave them together as a story to dangle before the visitor, luring them into a closer relationship with the site. Inspiration can show me how to link the threads and, if I'm lucky, will give me a marvellous sentence or two, but mostly it's the hard graft of writing and re-writing the same paragraph until it not only 'works', but fits the available space.

Visual art is different. I still look at things, light and shadow and texture in landscapes or stones or flower, then render them into pen&ink or flat colour in my mind, but I take little pleasure from doing that for real these days -- for 17 years and more my work has involved producing drawings on demand, which has almost killed the thrill I used to feel when 'I' sat back and watched my eye and brain tell my hand what to do on the page. Besides which, I *want* to be Turner or Cotman in watercolour, when by nature I am Albrecht Dürer, determined to show the viewer every blade of grass in the Large Turf :-)

Knitting and weaving seems to be visual, pattern and colour. Driving back on the motorway from weaving class I would see the streams of head- and tail-lights as weaving, interrupted stripes of colour across a black and midnight grey ground. I speculate about hand-dyed yarn in the colours of the landscapes I visit, how to combine sky blue, hedgerow green and chalk-white, or reproduce all the shades of gold and green in a field of ripening barley, see a spectacular sunset all preserved in socks :-)
Texture: for me it's not so much what something feels like in my hands, it's how it looks in terms of light and shadow. Implied or suggested movement across the fabric (cables, I like cables). Usually. I think I've worked out what to do with your handspun. It has to be something that displays the visual beauty of the texture of the yarn, the play of light on the silk. It has to take the greatest possible advantage of the incredible softness, which means I wanted it close around my, er, the wearer's neck, not dangling loose as would a traditional scarf. Taking those two points together and remembering the elegance of the yarn, I've come up with an idea for an asymmetric short scarf-thing that wraps around the neck with a narrow end overlapping and pinning to a wider end. I've sketched a shape, worked out some measurements and, if I'm lucky, a gauge swatch will continue to become the scarf without wasting any of that lovely yarn. The yarn itself is the inspiration: the characteristics I most value set the parameters for the design.

October 20, 2006 at 8:20 AM  

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