Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

PROJECT BAGS AWAY! March 25, 2011

Filed under: Anecdotal,art — Addicted to Yarn @ 12:19 pm

I just made the coolest thing EVER! I am so incredibly happy with it. I’ve been looking at project bags on Etsy and they run anywhere from $10 to $40 and that, plus shipping, is a little steep for me, especially when I am a fully capable seamstress. So I found a tutorial (actually, it was recommended to me but I don’t remember by whom) and whipped one up. This is fabric I’ve had laying around for a while. The outer fabric was gifted to me by my wonderful sister (love you, Angie), the lining is some left over muslin from something else and the strap is a remnant from Jael’s renn fair dress.

I'm on the phone - forgive me.

See Ma? No raw edges!

It's squarey goodness!

And finally, filled with a project.

I am so insanely excited. I might even whip up enough to sell on Etsy but I’m not holding my breath for that.

Oh, and I made one modification to the tutorial. When sewing the box corners, I basted the lining to the outer in the seam allowance so that the lining can’t pull out. That seemed like it would be annoying and it looks great.

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Socks and Hats March 15, 2011

Filed under: art — Addicted to Yarn @ 2:12 pm
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I love knitting socks and hats. They are small. They are portable. They are wearable. They are fairly quick from start to finish. I am going to attempt to photograph some of my latest projects and include those in this blog but we shall see. Our camera broke so all I’ve got is the built in camera on my computer, which is less than ideal.

Socks. I got “Socks From the Toe Up” by Wendy Johnson from the library and I freaking love it. I think this will be in my next Amazon book order. I have renewed it 2 or 3 times and I am terrified that someone is going to request it before I’m done with it. I am currently knitting two socks from it. The Van Dyke Socks, in KnitPicks Stroll Sport, colorway Peapod. I love these socks. I’ve finished one and as soon as I cast off, I put it on my foot and wore it for the rest of the evening. I washed it and dried it and it’s still just as wonderful – maybe even more so. I’m about 3/4 done with sock #2 and I can’t wait to wear them as a matched pair. EEK!

About the pattern: My foot is 8.75″ around so I knit the 8.5 pattern and it feel a little floppy. Not sure if that’s just handknit socks or what but as I know that fitting the leg is what keeps them from sliding down, I put it 4 ribs around the leg portion of the sock. One between each set of needles. On the second sock, I did a cable between the instep patterns and one on each side of the instep. It looks a little funny on the needle but on my foot it looks SWEET!

I did a short row toe and short row heel. I’ve only tried one other heel (will discuss that next) and I did NOT like it. I really like the short row toe and heel. They are not complicated and I don’t have to seam or pick up stitches. They just fit me really well, both physically fit my foot and also psychologically fit my brain. I guess.

WHOO! Sock #1

Sock #2

The other pair of socks I am working on is also from Wendy Johnson’s book. This pattern is the Diagonal Lace sock pattern. The yarn is Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic, colorway 1005 (I think). It’s a dark green and black variegated yarn. Not sure I like it but I’m going to finish these and then probably will not purchase another skein of it again.

I did the “figure 8” cast on that Wendy details in the book but I do NOT like it. It makes a very rigid, squarish toe. My foot is very squat and not at all shaped like the sock is. That is really my only complaint. The sock is just a hair too small. I think a few stitches on either side of the instep would have solved it but whatever. Other than issues with the toe, which I will not repeat on the other sock (my sister already knows they won’t be a matched set but she doesn’t care and, really, who is going to be looking so closely at her toes that they will notice?). I am going to do a short row heel when I get to it. I am waiting on my sister to send me her foot measurements so I don’t make the sock too long or short before I start the heel. I might even cast on the second sock if she doesn’t get that to me pretty soon. Anyway, here is sock #1:

Diagonal Lace Sock #1

Next pair of socks will be for Jael, pink with purple toes and heel. Super cute. Can’t wait to start those but must finish the Van Dyke socks first.

I finished a hat for my soon-to-be-here niece. Unfortunately, it was not a newborn pattern. I thought it was but it was not. So I modified it a little but not enough so it might be a few months before she can wear it comfortably. It might even fit her big sister better. Oh well. Here it is, modeled by my skein of Jawoll Magic.

Super cute. I love it. I wish I had a dozen more baby girls to knit it for. Love it love it love it.

Oh, and I don’t know who all still follows this blog, as I so randomly update it, but I also joined Plurk. Yeah. Still in the very early stages of that (opened my account all of like 4 hours ago) but on there I am BitchinBecky. That’s all folks!

 

NOT depression February 24, 2011

Filed under: Anecdotal,art — Addicted to Yarn @ 11:53 am

I commented on someone’s blog and below my comment it said, “LadyRebecc’a last blog . . . Depression” and I think that sucks. It motivated me to post a new blog.

I am obsessed with knitting. I am resenting this blog right now because it means I’m not knitting. I’ve started watching/listening t0 knitting podcasts and it turns out that there are lots of other addicted knitters out there. Some are funnier than others but all are incredibly “normal.” And by normal I mean that they aren’t super stars. They are just folk. Nice folk, maybe folks who are more outgoing and gregarious than myself but ultimately they are not that much different than me. Which makes me feel good. I’m not alone in the world and all that.

So, I’m addicted to knitting. So much so that I took a mini-vacation to Trier for three days and two nights. You know what I did without my husband or daughter around? I bought yarn and knitted. Yup. I spent most of the time in Trier in my hotel room, which was blessedly warm, and knit. I finished a couple of Christmas gifts, started some others and all in all, had a great time.

Works in Progress include a pair of socks for myself (no, I’m not being selfish. I think that the first pair of socks should go to someone whose feet I can measure and try them onto at regular intervals):

a pair of mittens for Jael, a gathered scarf, and a gift for my mother.

Finished Objects of recent completion include the blue cabled scarf

cabled purse that I don’t have a picture of and a pair of mittens for myself (they are complete but, again, I don’t have a picture of them completed)

Pre completion

Projects I’ve got planned? More than I can possibly list here. But I can assure you that there will be more projects as I love knitting. I love it love it love it love it. My husband is wonderful in that he thinks my obsession is cute and not terrifying.

There you have it. I am knitting up a storm and my “most recent blog” is no longer “Depression.” Yay for that!

 

Romerican? September 27, 2010

Filed under: art,educational,writing — Addicted to Yarn @ 7:55 am
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Pantheon

The Roman empire may have fallen but many examples of their architecture and sculpture remain. The United States of America, a living and breathing nation, has many architectural and sculptural examples in its capital of Washington D.C. There are many similarities between the way Romans and Americans created art; similarities of style and form, similarities in statuary, and similarities in the symbolism within. There are as many differences between them as well. Looking at the art of these two powerful nations will shed light on some of the similarities and differences between them.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Looking first at style and form in architecture, the Pantheon in the Roman capital city of Rome, one of the more iconic buildings in the world, comes foremost to mind. Copied for centuries by architects the world over, it was the inspiration that blossomed into the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. nearly two thousand years after the Pantheon’s creation. Both feature domed roofs and drum-like supporting walls. The Pantheon was originally on a pedestal but the surrounding land has crept up and access to the Pantheon is now at street level. The Jefferson Memorial is also elevated by a series of steps. Pillars support the triangular pediment of both buildings, though the Pantheon has three rows of pillars, eight across the front and two rows of four behind, while the Memorial has two rows, eight in front and four in back. The D.C. Monument also has 26 columns surrounding the “drum” of the building and four more at each of the monument’s entrances while the Pantheon’s drum is free from adornment. Aside from the aforementioned differences, there are a few others as well. The Pantheon’s dome features an opening at its apex, called the oculus, which is open to the elements while the building itself is not. The memorial, on the other hand, features a solid dome but the building itself is open to the elements. The Pantheon’s spheric interior is not repeated in the memorial nor is its grand scope. The two buildings, one inspiring the creation of the other, have many similarities and as many differences.

Augustus of Primaporta


Lincoln Statue in the Lincoln Memorial

Moving from buildings to statues, specifically statues crafted to represent and honor specific real people, we find more similarities than differences between Roman and American statuary. Roman statues were lifelike, accurately representing the human form, often recognizably the person they were supposed to be. Augustus of Primaporta, c. 20 B.C. and the bust of Cicero, 1st century B.C. both show “the Roman era’s keen interest in realism” (Bishop 83). The statue of Abraham Lincoln featured in the Lincoln Memorial and the equestrian statue of Ulysses S. Grant are also very realistic (if larger than life) and excellent portrayals of realism. Augustus of Primaporta, the bust of Cicero, and the statue of Lincoln were all sculpted from marble and Grant from bronze. The Romans did create sculptures from bronze but as a more reusable medium than marble, fewer have survived to be studied by modern peoples. The above American statues were created to honor men who had lived and served their country. The Roman statues, on the other hand, were created during the lifetime of their subjects. This is an important difference between Roman and American statuary of real people. There are similarities and differences, as well, in why Roman and American artists created sculpture and architecture the way they did.

The Washington Monument

Comparing the Column of Trajan with the Washington Monument reveals much about what motivated the two cultures to erect stone sculptures in their capital cities. The Column of Trajan was designed by Apollodorus but was commissioned by the Roman Senate (wikipedia) and was constructed during Trajan’s lifetime,


Column of Trajan

between 106-13 (Bishop 75). The Column features a spiral of sculptural pictures which tell an uninterrupted story – that of Trajan’s conquest over the rebelling Dacian forces. It served as a powerful propaganda tool for “the gold from  Dacian mines funded public welfare and imperial construction during Trajan’s reign” (Bishop 77). The Washington Monument, while much larger in scale (over 555 feet tall to the Column’s 125 feet including the pedestal) (National Park Service), is perhaps more modest in motive. The monument was built almost 100 years after the life of George Washington, the first President of the United States, had ended. It was built not to glorify a living god-man but to honor the memory of a good man. The Column of Trajan’s pictorial sculptures showcase the suppression of rebel forces. The Washington Monument memorializes the victorious rebel general. The Roman emperor was believed to be a god and, just as lavish and opulent cathedrals are built “for” god(s), so buildings and monuments were built “for” the emperor. American leaders, on the other hand, having been chosen by the people, are seen as a reflection of the people and, as such, are honored, not for their status as “gods” but for the characteristics that Americans like to imagine themselves as having – independent, self-sufficient,  freedom-loving. Perhaps, there are not so many differences after all. The Roman emperors built to honor themselves as gods and the American people build to honor themselves through the men they have chosen to lead them and the ideals they espouse to have.

The dreams of the Roman leaders – to bring the entire world under Roman rule – largely remained unfulfilled but their architecture and sculpture lives on. Only time will tell if the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all will come to fruition or not and only time will tell if America’s contributions to architecture and sculpture will be as lasting. As shown, there are many similarities between the two cultures’ architecture and sculptures and there are many differences. There are not, however, as many differences as might be expected for two cultures separated by nearly 2000 years.

 

We are all naked . . . September 23, 2010

Filed under: art,educational,Reviews,writing — Addicted to Yarn @ 1:08 pm
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Humanity has always had one thing in common: under our clothes we are all naked. Throughout the ages artists have drawn, chiseled, shaped, cast, painted, sculpted and in every conceivable way represented the naked human form. The artistic rendering of the nude has changed over the centuries, from the symbolic sculpture of early humanity to the lifelike sculptures of the classical era and from the near photorealism of the Renaissance to the abstractions of artists such as Picasso. A closer look at the the ancient sculptural nudes Kouros, Riace Warrior, and Praxiteles’s Aphrodite of Cnidos and the modern painting Venus by Fernando Botero, will reveal some crucial differences between the views of the ancient world and those of the modern world. Differences include the setting of the nude, the artistic representation of the human body, and what the nude reveals about society’s views on sexuality.

The stiff formality of the ancient nude Kouros, sculpted around 590 BC, contrasts sharply with the stark informality of Botero’s Venus, painted in 1989. Kouros stands stiffly, “fists clenched,” marking or guarding a tomb or temple (Bishop 45), while Venus stands relaxed, her hands loose and busy while she goes about her mundane, everyday tasks. Kouros’s hair is “geometric” and his body rigidly symmetrical (Bishop 45), the epitome of order and ‘correctness.’ Venus, on the other hand, has her pair pulled back in a relaxed, informal manner. Her body is not presented symmetrically as she stands unevenly and is turned somewhat away from the viewer. Clothing drapes out of an open bureau drawer and her bed is not made. She is, in contrast to Kouros, not especially orderly. Kouros, whose creation served a very formal purpose, is presented very formally – his hair orderly, his body straight and symmetrical – whereas Venus, whose creation serves no higher purpose than the pleasure of the artist and the viewer, is presented in a ‘slice of life’ manner – relaxedly preparing for the day ahead.

Turning our eyes to the Riace Warrior of mid-5th century BC (photo on page 55 of Bishop), and comparing it to Botero’s Venus, we see how the artist’s representation of the human body reveals something about how they (and by association their society) view the human body. Riace Warrior is lean, his muscular body well defined and apparently, ready for action. In contrast, Venus is round and soft, her muscles buried under ample flesh. Her shape is over exaggerated so much so that she would not fit on the bed pictured in the background. The Riace Warrior is perfectly crafted, from the curls of his head to the toenails on his feet. Whereas every curl is defined on Riace Warrior, Venus’s hair is fuzzy and unclear. Her hands, and the rest of her for that matter, are free of wrinkles and lines, creating a much softer, laid-back quality to the art. Though now missing, the Riace Warrior was equipped with a sword and shield, the weapons of a warrior. It is clear that a warrior’s body – strong, capable, ready – was very important to society at the time Riace Warrior was cast. So important, in fact, that the sculptor saw fit to equip this warrior with sword and shield but not armor. Botero, on the other hand, said he wanted to “create sensuousness through form” (Faerna) and he does so. However, in doing so, he reveals that society no longer needs a utilitarian reason to honor the body. The human body is now seen to be for pleasure above purpose, alluding perhaps to an increase in hedonism. By recognizing these differences, we can see that the warrior ethos of 5th century BC has given way, perhaps, to the hedonistic pleasures of the modern era.

Differing levels of hedonism may explain some of the differences between Praxiteles’s Aphrodite (sculpted around 350-340 BC) and Venus and what they reveal about society’s views of sexuality and the ‘place’ of sex in society. Looking first at Aphrodite, she stands, legs crossed slightly, her hand covering her groin. She has just removed her robe as she prepares for her bath (wikipedia.com). Venus, on the other hand, stands with one leg brought forward and her arms over her shoulders, making no effort to hid her groin. She is nude, not because she is getting dressed or undressed, preparing for a bath or some such task requiring a state of undress. She is nude, apparently, for the sheer pleasure in being nude. Aphrodite’s hair, which it is believed would originally have been gilded (Bishop 54) is pulled neatly away from her face and coiled at the base of her neck, suggesting a certain amount of reserve. Venus, on the other hand, sports full bangs and unrestrained hair cascades down her back, suggesting an increase in personal freedom. Aphrodite’s gaze captures a hint of the demure and the diffident. She is nude, save for the arm band and jewelry she may have been adorned with originally (Bishop 54), not for sake of pleasure but of necessity. It would indicate a certain hesitancy to fully expose oneself, a feeling of reserve in regard to sexuality. She does not stand as proud and unselfconscious as the male nudes of the same time frame.  Venus is unadorned, save for a simple hair ribbon and a pair of shoes, yet her nudity seems much more natural and comfortable, suggesting a more open attitude towards sexuality. Venus’s lack of shame or demurral appearance would also suggest a more equitable sexual relationship between male and female. Both pieces of art center around a nude female and yet are wildly different because the worlds they sprang from are wildly different. While all of a society’s views can not be seen in two snapshots of life such as these two pieces provide, by comparing them, we can see some broad differences in how sexuality is viewed.

Perhaps no amount of study will ever reveal all the differences between the ancient cultures and more modern cultures but the art that a society produces does bring some revelation. From the stylized and simplified Kouros to the strong and sturdy Riace Warrior, from the demure and diffident Aphrodite to the supple sensuousness of Venus, we see that what artists produce is, at least in part, due to how society views the object that is the subject of their art.

Works Cited

Bishop, Phillip E. Adventures in the Human Spirit. 6th Ed. Upper Saddle River:  Prentice Hall, 2011.

Faerna, Jose Maria. “Fernando Botero: The Praise of Opulance.” 9 Sept. 2010 <http://www.all-art.org/art_20th_century/botero2.html&gt;.

Wikipedia. “Aphrodite of Cnidus.” 9 September, 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphrodite_of_Cnidus&gt;.

 

Truth and Error September 9, 2010

Filed under: art,educational,Reviews — Addicted to Yarn @ 7:27 pm
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G. W. F. Hegel makes some very contradictory statements in his Lectures on Aesthetics, some true and some erroneous. Andrew Sola, writing for The Literary Encyclopedia, 2004, records that Hegel places art at the same level of importance as religion and philosophy and believes it must be studied as “patiently and laboriously as theology and philosophy are studied” (1). Hegel also rejects the two conventional approaches to studying art, empirically and “the study of the beautiful” (2), developing instead his own method, which he calls the dialectic method. He denies the belief that art is deceptive and opines that art is higher than nature, both thoughts in opposition to commonly held beliefs about art. Hegel does not believe that “art has a purpose outside of itself” (7), such as purifying and preparing humanity’s passions for “moral perfection”(7) and providing instructions on attaining said moral perfection; instead claiming that art has no purpose outside of itself. He finds meaning in art as a mediator between the inner and outer lives of the artists and their audiences. Hegel, recognizing the three stages of art – Symbolic, Classical, and Romantic – and implies that the latter are ‘higher’ than those that came before. He also places art into a hierarchy based on form. However, while Hegel makes some very good points, he is mistaken in these final regards. Art, as a mediator between the inner and outer realities of life, has no hierarchy.

There is no escaping the fact that art is a mediator, a crucial concept to Hegel’s dialectic approach to studying art. He first recognizes “the classical philosophical opposition between the inner and the outer” (Sola 4), believing that art brings reconciliation to them. He then defends this stance against the commonly held belief that art is less ‘real’ than the outer reality it represents, by writing, “Genuine reality is only to be found beyond the immediacy of feeling and of external objects” (qtd. in Sola 4).  Hegel believes, quite rightly, that even when nature (an ‘outer’ reality) is the subject of art, it must first pass through the artist’s mind (the ‘inner’ reality) in order to strip away the “arbitrary, chaotic, and contingent details” and “gain its universal or spiritual qualities,” (5) thus qualifying it as ‘art.’ When art, which “relies on the representation of natural forms of transitory emotions and of sensual stimulations,” (4) passes through the mind of the artist, it acts as a mediator, bridging the gap between the inner and the outer.

Unfortunately, it is on the subject of hierarchy in art that Hegel becomes entangled in his own arguments. Hegel mistakenly assumes that art has a hierarchy. He places architecture and sculpture at the bottom, because they are bound by ‘matter’ as the other arts are not. Following architecture and sculpture, he places painting and music, as they are not bound by the physical – if it can be imagined it can be put to paint brush and canvas or set to music. At the top, or “apex,” Hegel places poetry, stating, “Poetry is the universal art of mind which has become free of its own nature, and which is not tied to find its realization in external sensuous matter” (qtd. in Sola 10). However, if art’s purpose is to bridge the gap between the inner and outer realities of life, as Hegel argues, than any form of art which does so serves its purpose, whether it be a soaring, epic poem which causes the reader to ponder the mystery of god, or the lofty architecture of a cathedral which draws the viewer’s eye upward into contemplation of god’s greatness. Poetry requires not only simple literacy but also literacy in poetry in order to communicate to the audience (Hegel considers it crucial that art be made available to others (Sola 6)) while other forms of art do not  require the same level of literacy. Art, in its many forms, has no hierarchy for any form can  communicate the artist’s reconciliation of the inner and outer.

Hegel again comes into conflict with himself in regard to the three stages of art: Symbolic, corresponding to pantheistic religions and subjective thought, Classical, corresponding to Greek polytheism and objective thought, and Romantic, corresponding to Christian monotheism and dialectic thought (Sola 7). He wrongly implies that each is higher than that which came before. Sola records, referring to art of the symbolic stage which grants natural objects symbolic meaning, that Hegel considers Eastern art to be “still ‘primitive’ in this respect” (7) calling it “bizarre, grotesque and tasteless” (qtd. in Sola 8). In saying such, he contradicts his own belief that “the world always is as it ought to be in any given moment” (7) and that art’s purpose is to reveal the truth of the moment. As previously mentioned, Hegel believes that genuine reality is found through art. In pejoratively labeling Eastern art as “tasteless,” “grotesque,” and “bizarre,” he implies that this is not happening. The Eastern artist views her natural world, which according to Hegel “always is as it ought to be,” passes it through her mind, and produces art (bridging the gap between the inner and outer), which fulfills its function – the “representation and revelation” of said reconciliation (qtd. in Sola 7). Since art has no other purpose, so long as it is representing and revealing the struggle and bridging of the inner and outer realities, no one can place one stage above another as Hegel does.

Hegel presents numerous ideas and thoughts in his lecture on aesthetics. He correctly recognizes the antithesis between the physical outer world and the universal or spiritual inner world. He correctly sees that art is not meant to have a purpose beyond revealing the artist’s interpretation of the world. However, he incorrectly places art into an unnatural hierarchy, working against his own arguments. There is much we can learn from Hegel about art and the meaning it brings to our world but we must remain aware of his erroneously decided hierarchy.

Works Cited

Sola, Andrews. “Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics.” The Literary Encyclopedia. 2004 ed.

 

Dragon Journal October 8, 2009

Filed under: art — Addicted to Yarn @ 10:57 pm
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First of all, I want to apologize for my serious lack of posting. I have been struggling with depression, or rather, since I’m no pyscologist, despondency. Each day has been hard to get through and at the end, I had nothing left with which to post. Not that I didn’t have things to say. I simply lacked the emotional strength to put them onto paper…as it were.

Anyway, I have TONS of pictures to post. I am going to start with the most fun ones. The ones that are easiest to get motivated to do.

A number of months ago, I signed up for a “Dragon Journal” swap. The instructions were to decorate a journal with the theme of dragons. This was what I came up with:

Cover

Cover

Bookmark inside front cover

Bookmark inside front cover

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

Page 3

Page 3

Page 4

Page 4

Page 5

Page 5

Pages 6 & 7 -- closed

Pages 6 & 7 -- closed

Pages 6 & 7 -- open

Pages 6 & 7 -- open

Page 8

Page 8

Page 9

Page 9

Page 10

Page 10

Page 11

Page 11

Page 12

Page 12

Page 13

Page 13

Page 14

Page 14

Page 15

Page 15

Page 16

Page 16

Page 17

Page 17

Page 18 -- closed

Page 18 -- closed

Page 18 -- open

Page 18 -- open

Inside back cover

Inside back cover

Back cover

Back cover

And there you go. That’s my dragon journal. Which cost me $30 to send to England. Kind of sucked but I hope my partner liked it even though it was a month late.