Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Knitting a sculpture of Great Salt Lake overlooking Great Salt Lake

I am attempting to knit a sculpture. It is an experiment and might not work out but I want to submit something to the Utah Arts and Museum Painting and Sculpture exhibition and some of my pieces are just too “crafty” (read functional) to be submitted.

I, of course, am still interested in Great Salt Lake and lately I have been ruminating on its changing nature. Every time I go out there, the lake seems to be shrinking. It is almost at historic lows right now so the outline of the lake is very different than in past years. It became very clear when my husband and I took a trip on Skyline drive last weekend in the mountains above Bountiful, Utah. The view of the lake is spectacular but the low levels are very apparent.

The lake’s shoreline becomes more and more salty and white from the evaporating water. On the northern shores, the white becomes tinged with pink from the halorarchaea. The north arm of the lake is super saturated with salt and the bacteria flourish so the water is noticeably pink. So much so that you can see the difference from Google Earth! The north side became more salty when the Lucin Cutoff railroad causeway was built across the lake in the 1950s creating two distinct environments in the lake. Several reasons are given for this difference and you can read about them here if you are interested…or are a layperson Eco-geek like me.

All this crazy chaos of the lake has captured my attention. I am trying to knit a cross section of the lake showing the growing salty shores, the blue south arm, the pink north arm, and the pink-tinged salt. I am knitting it with steel and silk yarn that can be sculpted and molded when I am done. You can see me knitting the sculpture while overlooking the lake above. Like I said, this is an experiment. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Golden Spike!

This year, I have visited Spiral Jetty no less than five times, which means that I have also visited the Golden Spike National Historic Site five times. Golden Spike is the last chance for a bathroom before driving out to Rozel Point so of course we have to stop. But beyond that, the historic site is really a destination in itself for the majority of the non-art-nerds from all over the world. It was at Promontory Point at the northern end of Great Salt Lake that the two railroads met in 1869 to complete the first transcontinental railroad in American history.

Apparently, there was a lotof pomp and circumstance around the event. With drunken officials, multiple spikes and some staged events for dramatic purposes. Today there are reproduction engines that perform (with live steam!) every Saturday. The shocking thing is that the real golden spike is not even at the visitor’s center. It is at Stanford University in California.

The Golden Spike visitor center apparently has a reproduction.

With all of my visits this year, I thought I would create some quick-to-knit socks that evoke the great colors of the railroad ties and the golden spike. The textures, colors, and even the little railroad heel all remind me of the crazy way humans like to commemorate important events, with precious metals and ceremony.

So to commemorate visiting the Golden Spike National Historic Site five times (so far) this year, I have created the Golden Spike socks, maybe I should engrave something on them…

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another chance to see my knitting in an art show

I recently submitted my Antelope Island Scarf to a new art exhibit created by Friends of Great Salt Lake. Friends of Great Salt Lake is a local non-profit that works to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the Lake through education, research, advocacy, and the arts. As part of the arts section of their mission, they began this year an art exhibit and prize called the Alfred Lambourne Prize.

I am excited that they accepted a work of what is traditionally considered craft into the show so if you are in town on September 19th you can come to Alderwood Fine Arts for the opening. Or you can see it anytime through October 9.

Here is more information from their press release:

In 2014, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake established The Alfred Lambourne prize, an annual recognition and celebration of regional creativity inspired by our inland sea. FRIENDS invited creative work inspired by the Lake in the forms of visual arts, writing, sound, and dance.

On September 19, 2014, at Alderwood Fine Art, FRIENDS will award one prize of $1000 to a work that most speaks to the inspiration and wonder that our Lake evokes. Written and musical submittals will be read and performed from 6 - 7:30 pm. Visual arts submittals will be on display all evening and through October 9. The Prize will be awarded at 7:30 pm.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Knit Picks Independent Designer Program

I submitted my Oquirrh Mountain Shrug pattern to the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program (IDP) last month and it went live today! I originally used Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes Bulky Bare and dyed it with turmeric but the pattern can be used with any of their bulky yarns.

The IDP program is great because I can publish on their site without any conflict publishing it on Ravelry as well. Here is the link to the Knit Picks site. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Knitting is Therapy

I know that statement is kind of a cliché but I can attest that every bit of it is true. My father passed away last Friday and I found myself knitting more than I thought possible. It became, and still is, a part of the healing process for me.

Last week started out normal enough. I spent that Saturday giving a family day at the Spiral Jetty, the amazing Land art by Robert Smithson in Great Salt Lake. My museum is a steward of the Jetty along with Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster and we had a day of art and science with families. It was fun and educational. With the GSLI I discovered a rare salt crystal called a hopper crystal. It is a type of hollow squared crystal shaped like a hopper.

They form at the edge of the rapidly evaporating salt water when the edges of the crystal grow faster than the center leaving it hollowed out. You have to pull them out of the lakebed like teeth. I was so impressed with the crystals because they are incredibly fragile and beautiful. I knew then that I would be making something inspired by them.

So, I spent Sunday drafting a pattern and knitting a swatch for a pillow with concentric squares. I thought it was a funny oxymoron, a crystal pillow. My plan was to take this project to work and have it be my lunchtime knitting project for the next couple months. It would be easy to talk and knit it at the same time and it is connected to my work in a way.

So I took the new pattern and yarn and needles to work waiting for our knitting club at lunch. But, on Tuesday I got the call that my dad had had a stroke and it was pretty bad. I rushed to the hospital with what I had at work, my purse and my knitting.

Throughout the next four days of interminable waiting for operations and tests and news, I knit and knit and knit. Square after square. Knit, knit, purl, purl, endlessly on. By the time I was done with the front, my dad was in a coma and on life support. By the time I had finished one side of the back, we had taken him off life support and watched him pass away.

The final back panel, blocking, and seaming took place amid endless phone calls, funeral plans, and frantic hunts for passwords and unpaid bills. When the stress and chaos got too much for me I had my knitting to retreat to.

The end result is a sort of metaphor for the grief of the last week. An oxymoron of a crystal pillow patterned after a hollow crystal shell, an image of endless squares giving the illusion of infinity.

So, in honor of my dad, the funniest, most optimistic man that meant so much to me, I am publishing this Hopper Crystal Pillow pattern. I don’t think I will ever make another one, there is too much pain memory knitted into the pattern for me. But I hope others enjoy it, it really was therapy for me.