Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interdependance, or, one good turn diserves another

For Easter I treated myself to an old sweater I'd found on etsy. It was one I had been eyeing for a LONG time, for the color and for the fact that it was not a strange shape that would be difficult to wear a jacket over, but seemed to be something a librarian would wear. If a bit frumpy. In a good way. I labored for a long time over this. I’m trying to learn to make sweaters after all, but something about this one called to me. When the shop owner marked down everything for a “moving sale” it seemed like fate.

Sweater, modeled by Octa

The sweater is indeed frumpy, almost exceedingly so, but it is also beautiful and very well made. My learning-to-knit brain loves the different textures, the different types of stitches all running down, and the fact that there are smaller stitches around the cuffs so I can scoot the sleeves back gently and they stay put. It is made from a what is probably chiefly wool, though pre-blocking it feels a bit like that pink house insulation. However I only say this in comparison to my standby cardigan, which is made of almost...silky yarn and machine-made, therefore no real comparison at all.

The two biggest problems with the sweater were the lame buttons, which is a problem easily fixed.


Goodbye generic plastic buttons, hello beloved pearly buttons. I've found a home for you at last.

The other problem is this sweater has no pockets. And a heavy cardigan with no pockets is a drawback indeed if you constantly want a handkerchief at the ready, as I do. But! Now I can knit! So this means I can make pockets for the sweater! Knowledge is power!

Even without pockets I already get a lot of mileage out of this sweater despite the warming weather. Mornings are still a fairly chilly time, and I've been spending a lot of time next to the open window during my new morning activity: Stand At The Easel And Draw!


This easel is a cornerstone fixture in my making-things life, standing proudly at the window. When I found out I was moving into this particular apartment I set about building my art-making space from scratch. I was happy to see that the easel could at once benefit from the natural light of the window and the lamp light attached to the desk.


I used to do a lot more painting on canvas than I do now, so for the last couple years the easel has mostly just taken up prime real estate next to the window. Most of that time it's displayed a single painting/collage that I keep meaning to work on. We also used the easel last year during the philosophy class for Research Club, when we walked down to the river and Anthony essentially performed a famous lecture by Friedrich Nietzsche whilst I painted a portrait of him. (Of Neitzsche that is, not Anthony). Mostly though the easel just sits and waits. It has been niggling at me because I hate having something I don’t use, particularly something so big.

Separate to this I am having incredible difficulty staying seated and getting work done lately. I think it must have something to do with the gorgeous weather we are (finally) having. Once I am warmed up it is fine, but it’s that initial getting-focused part I struggle with. Particularly with this project, since so many things involve looking things up online. What does an old gas pump look like? Can I have a telephone wire with just one wire coming out? If I illustrate that concept this way, am I still basically on topic? How did she word that again?

Let’s solve the puzzle. I need to do a lot of drawing. I have:

a.) drawing-boards I take with me on outings

b.) an un-used easel by the window, and

c.) way too much energy for sitting.

Let’s see, how might we solve this problem?

Why, we could put a drawing board up on the easel of course!


Why this has not occurred to me before last week is anyone’s guess. The important thing is that it HAS occurred to me, and every morning since this connect-the-dots game I get up, make a thermos of coffee and stand at the easel and do warm-up doodles. Usually with crayons, which adds to the giddiness, and also helps me feel a lot less pent-up about letting go. No pressure -- you're not making Great Art here, you're just playing with crayons. It has made me feel ten times more productive, somehow. Because doing this opens up the drawing-things part of my brain and without meaning to my mind wanders into the puzzles I had worked on the previous day. And I wonder about them. And I get them out and put those up on the easel. And then I look at that color I'd been doodling with and wonder if that could work for that ziggurat. And just like that I'm working without realizing it.

To have a crayon in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, next to an open window listening to the birdsong, feeling the cool spring air, and watching for the sunrise is (for me) about as close to nirvana as one could hope to get. And as luck would have it I've found a way to get there each and every morning, just by rearranging a few things.

And the only threat to this bliss was the bite of the morning air, but that was solved with that NEW SWEATER. Life is uncanny sometimes. I'm glad I get to be part of it.