Eye Candy du jour.

Here's a gumdrop for you. It's sweet. It's little. It's a treat.

As you know, I am a fan of the idea of an artist being able to "do a style" really well, and snapping it to a topic that is au courant--or nerdy. Preferably both. Remember the wonderful images created in the Lubok style by Andrey Kuznetsov? Here is his spiderman image to remind you, and a link to a great collection of images at Pagefiddler.



Good stuff? I love this. It refreshes the super hero (or any of the other topics) and brings it a whole different skew. Makes you think. And, its funny. What's  not to love? Okay, one more because I am feeling jolly. This one brings Avatar to light:



So in this tradition of funny reimagining of popular culture, these Ukrainian paintings by Sergei Iukhimov are stellar examples of the fusion of Russian Orthodox iconography and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

Of Strings and Sticks.

I am knitting these days so I am applying my basic research skills to this too. I have discovered since I laid down my needles, that the world of YouTube and Craftsy is amazing to learn new techniques (something I used to do by surrounding my self with analog learning (read, books) and making a mess. Plus, the add of searching for patterns online and the marvel of Ravelry --the community of knitters and crochet-ers-- you can see what the world is doing and "would this yarn look good as ...". It is a real time burner (a compliment).

So. recently, I learned the wonderful "long tail cast on"...a first as I have always done a knit cast on. FunFun...and such a nice edge. The other thing I am in process of learning is to knit in the continental style because it can be faster and frankly more efficient which to me makes a lot of sense. So...we will see...

Knit Picks has a great series of videos as well as Craftsy. No short of offerings...and we haven't really even jumped into the deep end.

More new to my world.
Additionally there is the amazing JimmyBeans Wool (the sales are amazing and their selection is outstanding). Service with a smile. Have not been disappointed. Another thing Jimmy Beans does is that they will ball your skeins for you for a fee which is pretty great if you do not have a swift and ball winder-or if you are the sort of person that wants to bust open the yarn box with needles ready to clack. I have always had a substandard swift that I hand wound balls from. This year, I stepped it up and have a really killer swift (from Knit Picks) and a new ball winder and am (thanks to YouTube for that education) whizzing away with making my own balls...in no time flat. A form of meditation, actually.

I have known about Webs (yarn.com) in Northampton, MA and have visited it (and love it too) but Jimmy Beans has my heart for now.

Knit Picks had some really nice fiber that they sell under their own name. Swish (worsted) is terrific, a good price and is often on sale. Plus, their needles (OMG) are a game changer..particularly the short interchangeable needle set which can let you work in very small circumferences with a very smooth, very happy and very warm wooden needle. I thought I wouldn't be as effusive about the had of these babies..but they are amazing. Get a bag for the set (or a needle case) as the case that comes with it is pretty perfunctory  and will not be there for the long run. Plus, they have cute cases.... Just saying.

One of my Cascade 220 balls of pinkness. Look out all you 8 yr old girls!

One of my Cascade 220 balls of pinkness. Look out all you 8 yr old girls!

And the most fun, cheapest date imaginable in this world of strings and sticks is:
Discontinued Brand Name Yarn . Okay. Here's the deal. Do not judge this book by the cover. No, their website is not pretty but the deals are.

These folks buy stashes and or buy out stuff that doesn't sell...bits and pieces and resell it. So if you can track what you like and also look at the notions, needles (they recently had a few Hiya Hiya sets), or buttons...you can see some cool stuff that you might not normally see. Also, they have a sliding discounting plan (changes daily sometimes on the whole site, sometimes on a special item. I got 75% off of the marked down (30% off retail) on a mess of Cascade 220 which I am right now stashing. I have to be careful as this can be trouble. So no more buying until I knit it down...but the normal skeins of 220 worsted weight go for about $9.00 a skein.  DBNY had it for $6.00 and then 75% off of that...HELLO. Right? Granted, I bought a lot of reds, washed reds and pinks...but I have lots of baby sweaters and hats to knit that 1-2 balls will do...and if there is an odd color or two, I will toss it in for mittens. Plus, if you like handpaints, there is always a ton Of Cherry Tree Hill Yarn (because DBNY is a subset of Cherry Tree Hill). So have at it...and always check the homepage for the daily discount. If you can hold..and think that your faves will be there the next day...maybe you can get a bigger discount!

Boy, do I sound like a mom or what?

This is the word for today. More "key learnings" (a word from the wild world of corporate lingo) tomorrow.

Peace out.

Queen for a Day

I am knitting little things. Keeping the mitts busy. You know the drill. The best thing i have found and am trying to really perfect is this: Yes, this: The knit Waldorf Crown. I had to stop gasping once I saw this...and ran to get needles and yarn just to see if my wits could lead me through this. Yes. It did. And Yes, I did...though I think a bit of more accurate blocking might really help. I also think that a really tight stitch with wool or even a heavy weight cotton might give the stitch great definition. But.... Are you kvelling or is it just me...sucker for everything?

I have tried three different patterns including knitting along with wonderful jolly Bronislava Slagle (see below) who you can knit along with her to make a crown in the round (written pattern is here>>).  She also creates a pattern for you to make them on straight needles here>>Only problem, to my thinking on Bronislava Slag's crown is that see the spine or center of each of the points? see that they are not nice PSSO knit stitches like the Happy Hippo one? I think that is because its knit in the round and gets messy that way. Next Crown will be the YouTube approach with some refinements there.... But aren't these the bee's knees? I think I am going to crank out 8-10 of them and sell them (auction for MANY) as a birthday party set? What fun!

The great thing beyond its a KNITTED CROWN is that it's a tiny project therefore it's totally quick, not much yarn and can fit in your pocket. So perfection. If only I could figure out how to drive a car and knit. That would be multitasking to the enth degree...and probably more horrifying than even texting and driving.

If you are a knitter, give it a whirl. You might make yourself a Queen or King for a day.


Okay. Enough already. The sun is shining and on a day like today, I can believe that happiness is around the corner and the possibilities have gone from zip to Huh...maybe there are some fun aspects of my life. Lets just say its a long climb out of the hole I have been in and a big dose of my dear pal, Prozac, is helping me to smell the peonies and think happy thoughts. Amen to drugs.

©Alexander Cassetti, 2016

©Alexander Cassetti, 2016

So much has happened. Alex Cassetti has graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Photography and won the Royal College of Art Scholarship which entitles him to a semester in England at RCA to continue post graduate studies. His work is remarkable (but I am his mom)...you make your own call>> and he is growing by leaps and bounds. Note to any parent who is worried about your child's future: do not even anticipate what the future will hold as it will be something you couldn't even imagine. Trust yourself. More importantly, trust the work you have done with your child and trust that person. It's hard. I know...but you just need to hang on and let time, maturity and the people your child connects with form the person you have raised. When we dropped Alex off at Hofstra the day one of his college experience, with his desire to be involved with music composition--there was no way that we could have even anticipated his explosion into photography, his interest in art and architecture, and his growth personally and spiritually to become the person we know today. No way. No how. And here we are. Formed by SVA. Formed by the remarkable Stephen Frailey, the sage Lyle Rexer and the generous Peter Macgill.  Formed by the University Studies Program at Hofstra. These men, and so many more people have pushed and pulled our boy to think big, work hard and grab it all. And our son, the one who has to work hard for everything-- is doing just that and is so appreciative of all that his community has done for him. Stunning. And it is adding up. I cannot wait for the next chapter.

Did I mention that the graduation was at Radio City Music Hall? Well it was...and it was a lulu complete with gigantic pictures of people from the graduating class (yes, Alex was one). Uncle Miltie (Milton Glaser) was in the house and his touch was there.  It was beautifully done from big projections to secondary screens, Push Pin inspired titles, and everything red/white/pink. The articulate and passionate Carrie Mae Weems spoke. There were selfies on stage. Hugs for everyone and to put a cherry on it, the organ was played and we all delighted in the festivities. It was PERFECT. It was a long day as we moved Alex out of his room/apartment the same day and drove home to Trumansburg. Rob is a saint.

Kitty is crazy busy throwing it all in at her job as a buyer at Eric Winterling working on some fabulous theatrical costume production projects I am not sure I can mention. Let's just say she is touching big big shows and getting some interesting exposure to some of the biggest costume designers out there (folks that get Tonys etc). And she is learning the business-- no magical unicorns and cups of tea. Hard work. Schlepping 4 irons and bolts of fabric. And the mechanics of the process. I cannot say how delighted I am that she is having this remarkable experience. She is also having a lot of fun with her friends--going places, doing things, dancing, experiencing NYC, doing the gallery/show thing. Another blessing. I am awed by her.

We have been to Lake Placid for the Museum Association of New York conference where I was blown away by Museum Hack (for another conversation) and by the beautiful little town of Lake Placid. It was a lovely time.

Work continues apace. Lots of very knit picky stuff. But its paying and I cannot complain. I wait for my mojo to come back with the anticipated happier Q. It will be a welcome change.

More later, my friends. Life is more interesting to me, so I have some great things to share with you beyond my dismay over the world and my disgust of Donald Trump. Later!

Status Quo.

It's still winter. Still. That freeze, ice and snow that was a surprise, has lingered, longer. The poor apple blossoms. And peaches, and cherries and all those sweet delicate buds that promise fruit in an amazingly short time, that becomes the bounty of the season and the boon to the next freeze. Get prepared for rutabagas and kale.

Weekend was pretty basic. Rob worked on a presentation. I made him a map of the Erie Canal and the Hudson River which helps, I think. I started making the Silent Auction prizes that I delight in making for the Museum Association of New York's annual conference which is next weekend in Lake Placid NY. So, your girl friday will be there, taking pictures and reporting. From what I hear, this is going to be a pretty splashy fun event. 

The MANY silent auction somehow gives me a big charge so generally I take around 10 archival prints of the stuff I illustrate, a fancy box of cards (in big wooden cigar box with all sorts of frou frou). This year there is a ton of alcohol (which sold last year very well)--between the gifts from my cider makers and Myer Farm, I have a whiskey set of 3, a vodka set of 3, gin, pommeau and a few 3 bottle sets of hard cider. I have a half scale china tea set (I got the impression folks were looking for stuff to take home to "the kids"--and thus the jag on that). I might do a collection of stuffed animals too. I am also taking 3 skeins of super nice sock yarn (as a set). I am putting my thinking cap on and seeing what else I can gin up.

Rob is off to Albany for a big meeting tomorrow. The Treadmill awaits me...to tread my way the the nether regions while simmering in Fox News and an ankle that reminds me regularly that I have it. I haven't forgotten,yet. Though my hope is that someday I will...that would be amazing.


Winter is back

Another day of grey and ice. Another day of groundhog day work. I get the fine opportunity to pay New York State money they claim I owe from yes, six years ago. Guess the statutes of limitations are kicking in. Here's a good thing. The coffee this morning is hot and delicious. Here's another good thing, I am surrounded by skeins of color. Greys and blues, sandy taupes, and brilliant reds. Its funny how colors change and your preferences do as time goes on. Or maybe it's my blindness...but hey. I'll take the pleasure in my picks of my colors. No one else, and for no one else. I do not have to make anyone but me happy. At least when it comes to yarn I surround myself with. Plus, I finished "wrap" one...and now can muse over the colorway of the next one. I fear there are about 10 wraps in the future. All of Kitty's friends, clients and then some...

I am working on 188 icons for a website for my big client. Funny how the old typography/ lettering chops kick in when you have to do 188 of anything. What can I take from this form, from this icon to make this new one? Are the widths good? are the transitions good? are the proportions matching the others? What needs to change to bring this one into working alongside these other ones. Slow going though. And unfortunately, my client doesn't even begin to get the time and patience this work is. And, as these marks are replacing a ton of Microsoft meets Monopoly board graphics, we need to have a conversation about the functionality and the significance of the idea...to see if it is still relevant and quite candidly, presenting them as smart and cool as they are...(I like these guys).

I said no to another plea for free work yesterday. I said no to 2 last week. Kudos Qudos! Now onward for the day...and icon work.


Snow in April

The poor buds. The poor frozen buds on our local cherry, apple, crabapple, pear and peach trees. The "April showers bring May flowers" was an icy few days albeit with blue skies and high clouds. So the cider makers and all my farmer friends are looking forward and making plans which at the moment of this weather whimsey has changed the concepts that happened a month earlier. What a world where your job and projects need to swing as the temperature and water move with either too much, or too little, either too hot, or humid, too cold or frigid.  That is incredible flexibility that would challenge anyone.

I am knitting a lot these days. It is helping me just with the sheer tactile aspect along with the ability to get something completed and done.  I hope drawing will come back...but for now, knitting has my hands after hours. I took a chance and bought some grab bags of Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted (wool, cashmere and silk blend) which has me swooning from the hand and weight of a big scarf I am making with a striped garter stitch pattern.  I am also really loving looking at the colors and their relationships...and am finding pleasure in that and this idiot pattern which is looking really good. With the world going to hell in a basket....I will be knitting as we go into that unpleasant place. Kitty and lady roommates are going to have some lovely holiday goodies from Kitty's mom. 



Let's just say I have been winded by the recent events starting from the death of my father-in- law in February 2014, my ankle break/surgery November 2014, Rob's opening of the new Museum addition (March 2015) the second surgery May, 2015, the death of a cat, my dear Shady Grove and then another cat in the fall and winter 2015. My mother died in mid January 2016 and its been pretty full tilt with 4 trips to Pittsburgh since then along with funeral planning, supporting my brother as the Estate Trustee, and a few trips to NYC to support our burgeoning photographer, Alex. My friend Carol Tinkelman died during the same time as my mother and her dear husband, my mentor, Murray Tinkelman died two weeks later (they shared the same birthday etc...its all too much).

I continued to work--with some very "groundhog day" types of projects where everyday it was the same, just more changes and corrections and changes and corrections to the work done the previous day. The grey weather, combined with loss and a cyclical work experience (while trying to keep up) had me zoned. It was a continuum of wakeup, work, eat, go to bed, wakeup. Many late nights and weekends to stay current. I turned away a lot of extras--and have been clearly thinking about my illustration and design gifting...and feel that a change is in the air there. If its a gift, it should be given and not asked for. If its a gift, we both need to be getting something beyond the normal give and take of a client relationship. If its a gift, it needs to be appreciated. New guideposts and measures. No is easier to say than I think it is.

I had been falling into a depression the likes I have yet to experience--but with a boost of Prozac, and a more active attempt to get out and see some people I am beginning to feel a bit more like I can talk to you all...and try to join the land of the living. I am so so done with all of this death, loss and sadness and the thinking of mortality that is ever-present for me these days. I need to get on living, trying, doing, laughing, and being amused with these precious hours we are granted for our lives. And now to move forward today.

I hope we can chat tomorrow.