Karie Bookish Dot Net

Tag Archives: Art


April 2012Who knew that bouncing about on a lifesize inflatable Stonehenge would be that much fun?

The Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts is well under way. We have been to see various exhibitions and installations through Glasgow – and most have been okay but not that thrilling. The highlight has definitely been Jeremy Deller’s ‘Sacrilege’ – the inflatable Stonehenge you see above. As an interactive piece of public art, it scores highly on the interactive scale, though I am not sure about the art aspect of it.

‘Sacrilege’ is moving down to London for the Olympics (I think it was actually commissioned for the Games?), so if you fancy a bounce in Glasgow, you only have a few days left.

Making, Mending, and Doing

February has been a good month so far. With several deadlines met, I now have a bit more time on my hands and this has resulted in a lot of crafting time which I have used well.

Making: I have finished writing a brand-new shawl pattern which I hope you’ll love as much as me! I have also finished knitting the sample shawl which has lived around my shoulders ever since. I’m yet to shoot the pattern photos as my model is currently overseas, but it won’t be long until the pattern’s released.

I have begun a lovely crocheted shrug in a new Rowan yarn, Creative Linen, in a gorgeous apple green. So far I am zipping through the shrug as the pattern’s an easy two-row repeat. It’ll be ace for wearing this summer. And I have a baby project lined up as my friend Katherine is expecting a boy very soon.

Mending: I finally took pity on my winter coat.

The coat is clearly on its last legs – in fact, it has been on its last legs the past three years – and I probably shouldn’t even be seen wearing it in public. Unfortunately I have been unable to find its replacement (why is a classic pea-coat in warm navy or Make Do & Mend 2black wool that hard to find?) and so I keep dragging it out of retirement.

Anyway, I sat down to repair the holes in it – I crocheted some small, decorative (and practical!) patches which I sewed on. Inspired by Kate I then replaced the dull black buttons with some lovely red vintage buttons. The coat is still on its last legs, but at least I don’t feel totally embarrassed to be seen wearing it in public.

I have more mending to do: David’s jumper has been worn non-stop for two years and the bottom rib is now in tatters and will need to be reknitted. Any tips on reinforcing ribbing?

Doing: I turned thirty-mumble-mumble yesterday and we went to Edinburgh for the day. We caught the FCB Cadell exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art before heading down to the refurbished National Portrait Gallery.

Cadell was one of the Scottish Colourists – a loosely bound group of painters working in the 1920s and 1930s. I’m easily excited by anything early 20th century (particularly 1914 to 1925-ish), so Cadell and his cohorts should be right up my street. The Colourists are a touch too post-impressionist for my taste, though, and although Cadell edged close to a sort of Matisse-esque Art Deco by the mid-20s, his work proved too polite and too safe for me. I left the exhibition feeling a bit grumpy because I have always admired Cadell’s paintings in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and suddenly faced with a whole exhibition he felt wanting and limited. Maybe the curating was at fault – the transitions and contrasts in Cadell’s style were never really explained and the obvious queer aspect to his art was not even mentioned.

The national Portrait Gallery has recently reopened and as a result the place was heaving. EdinburghWe only had time to peruse a couple of the galleries – predictably enough I swooned over The Modern Scot (where I discovered William McCance – a painter and book designer clearly in artistic thrall to Wyndham Lewis) whilst David enthused over Romantic Scotland, a photography exhibition.

I could write an entire blog post on the political implications felt throughout the Portrait Gallery – but I’m possibly too influenced by the novel I am currently reading – the very excellent And the Land Lay Still by James Robertson.

And so it goes.

It’s Getting Cold Now

It is premature to write my Reading 2011 entry but I did leave a comment on a newspaper site yesterday about one of my favourite reads so far. I miss keeping a literary blog – but then again my old literary blog was never just about books. I wrote about whatever took my fancy and I like to think I still do that.

November 30 2011 has been a day of strikes across the UK as a reaction to the Tory-led coalition’s “austerity measures”. I have been watching the news unfold from my cosy home, but part of me did wish I could have been out there. Some years ago I would have been. It has been interesting to see how most of them media have been shouting that this one day of strikes could push the UK back into recession .. I seem to remember most of the UK got an extra few days off for the sake of a certain royal wedding earlier this year but that was “a celebration”, of course. Interesting, also, that this strike comes the day after the Chancellor’s “Autumn statement” which I was following with incredulity yesterday. You can read an acerbic and pointed response here.

Moi? Cynical? I think I am turning into a grumpy old woman (I have the grey hairs to prove it). Maybe just realistic rather than grumpy.

And so with a boot firmly planted in the realistic camp, I was delighted to find other people utterly bemused* by the never-ending editorials about The Party Season. I think I had a party season once when I was 20 and as a skint student, I wore secondhand 1970s silver-lamé frocks accessorised with green Doc Martens. And nobody cared that I wore the same 1970s frock to every single drunken student jig. I do not think I live in the same world as the glossies – who does? And who buys** them?

Let me share something amazing and lovely with you: Someone has been leaving small, intricate paper sculptures all over Edinburgh. Who? No one seems to know. It is a woman who proclaims that she is used to “making things” and that she has left these art objects to voice her support for libraries, books, words, and ideas. I absolutely love these objects – I would call them book art rather than artists’ books (there is a distinction, I feel) – and I love the quiet making and placing of them. There is something so utterly wonderful about art objects that do not scream but whisper.

Knitting posts to come soon. Tonight I just wanted to write about slightly more .. cerebral things.

*) Sorry about using italics so much
**) Actually I use italics way too often.


Many of you have left thoughtful replies to my review of Jane Brocket’s knitting book. I have also received a few mails and tweets. Thank you all. Some of you wondered I made no mention of “Brocket-gate” – i.e. the mainstream media and blogosphere response to Ms Brocket’s The Gentle Art of Domesticity – and whether or not I was aware of it.

Yes, I was aware of the response to The Gentle Art of Domesticity but I did not think this response particularly relevant to The Gentle Art of Knitting. I could write a long and boring paragraph about how I read books (I’m one of those girls who went to university and lost her intellectual innocence to literary theory) but suffice to say that I tend to focus on the book itself rather than any outrage surrounding its author.

And so I approached this new Jane Brocket book as I would any other knitting book: did I think it useful? did I find the patterns interesting? did it inspire me? did it teach me anything new? I hope I answered those questions in my review.

Some linkage:
+ Women of the Vortex. MARVELLOUS pictorial evidence of daring lady painters of a young 20th century. I find Vorticism endlessly exciting. I wish I could go to Tate Britain and shout about machines, speed and modernist epistemology. BLAST!
+ A Knitted Garden. This totally made my morning when I first saw it.
+ Modern day Hollywood has nothing on the stars of the Big Studios years. Clark Gable & the Scandal That Wasn’t is an excellent read.
+ Speaking of entertaining reads, this review of “Rushed to The Altar” from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books had me howling with laughter. The review is definitely not for the faint-hearted and it is NSFW, but it is also hillarious.
+ It is a good thing I did not have my own webspace back in 1996, because I would definitely have set up an early prototype of My Daguerreotype Boyfriend.
+ Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number at this year’s Tony Awards = possibly the best 6 minutes of 2011 so far?

I have finished no less than three projects this week, so there will be plenty more knitting content over the next few days, but I’m also trying to work out a response to China Mieville’s Embassytown which does not involve me muttering about Martian poetry. Cross your fingers hard.


Can you believe the first quarter of 2011 has been and gone? It is an oddly cheerful thought and I have had an excellent first three months of the year.

Selected highlights:

Not bad. I just need to read more books because I only finished one (one! ONE!) book during the first three months of this year. That is abysmal. I blame Zadie Smith’s On Beauty which I really, really did not like.

Kaffe Goes BollywoodNew project on the needles. This is my take on the Unwind wrap from Rowan Magazine 49.

The original has a very muted colour scheme – soft mauves, dusty blues and earthy neutrals – but I have long wanted to combine three bold colours of Kidsilk Haze so I took my inspiration from Bollywood instead. I’m using a very bold fuchsia as my dominant KSH colour together with coral red and deep orange with lime green as contrast and a neutral pink to tie things together. The pattern also uses five different colours of Rowan Summer Tweed and again I have opted for pink-red-orange-green hues.

The wrap isn’t difficult to knit as it’s all stocking stitch. I think the difficulty lies in which colours to choose. These colour schemes spring to mind: ocean blues, greens and greys; spring garden in pretty pinks, greens and yellows; earth and stone in browns, beiges, fawn and soft greys; girly in soft hues of pinks and whites..

.. my Fancy jumper is zipping along really well too. It is weird having two KSH projects on the go at the same time. I think I might try to counterbalance all the airy mohairiness with some sewing later this week. I have some self-imposed deadlines (as always) and I’d also like to wear some self-made things on a trip to Yorkshire I’ll be making next month.

I wonder what my next quarterly review is going to look like?

Homebound: Who We Are

Homebound 6Homebound: Who We Are is my knitted artwork currently on show at Glasgow’s Tramway Arts Centre.

Using site-specific materials I have created a piece asking how we understand ourselves, how we become who we are, and how big a part gender & geography play.

I was inspired to make this piece by my own journey as a knitter, as a woman, and as an immigrant. I am myself but I am also previous generations of ordinary women crafters. My mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and my great-great-grandmother are all represented by this piece.

Homebound 1

My "momse" - my great-grandmother Lilly.

It was important to me that I only used yarn I already owned and which was tied to specific geographical areas. I used yarn from a farm just a few miles from where my great-great-grandmother lived. I used yarn from the Faroe Islands because my paternal grandmother is Faroese. I used yarn spun locally to Glasgow because I live here now.

I used undyed Aberdeenshire yarn for the hand. I have family living in Aberdeenshire now and I wanted to include them in the piece.

The hand is very significant to me – and my partner helped me construct the hand, so he is included in this piece too – as it is the giver and holder of identity. Not only does it hold all the strands together but the strands also spring from the hand. As a crafter I make things with my hands; my hands turn ideas in my head into reality. People much cleverer than I would be able to tell you about the notion of creation. The hand holds that concept for me.

Homebound 5As you can see, photos are included. I have found photos of all five generations.

As I was looking through the photo albums I was struck by how gender-segregated my family seemed. The women were all pictured holding babies or wearing nice dresses or cooking. The men were all pictured sitting at tables drinking beers or playing football or standing next to cars. I rarely found pictures of women and men together – except wedding photos or pictures of couples dancing.

I found several photos of both women and men wearing knitwear. I could only find two photos of anyone knitting. One of them was of me.

Finally, the title. I chose Homebound because while it means two mutually exclusive things (travelling//constriction) my project suggests there is an additional meaning lurking within the word, a meaning linked to the notion of creating. Home-bound – to bind or to tie or to make within the home.

I am really excited about this piece and I want to thank the people behind Loop: Garterstitch100 for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their amazing event. It has been an incredible journey for everyone concerned – me included.

The Day Before the Day

Loop At Tramway

Late night stitching effort at Glasgow's Tramway arts centre in preparation for Loop: International Women's Day Centenary.

I’m so excited about tomorrow! The Tramway was heaving with activity today: stitching, story-telling, music , and beautiful people creating beautiful things.

Loop Needs You

At the Tramway You may remember me mentioning Loop: The Centenary of International Women’s Day – an exhibition (and celebration) taking place at Glasgow’s Tramway art gallery. You may even have knitted a square or two for the event. The event takes place on Tuesday and the Tramway is heaving with activity.

I spent most of Friday at the Tramway stitching together blanket squares. It was a hugely inspirational day.

One old lady was busy stitching together crochet squares but found time to sing us old Glasgow songs from her childhood – songs about the old Govan cinema and “oor baldy heided maister”. Women from a choir sang us Matt McGinn songs. Women from a local immigrant group came by to watch us stitch and some ended up wanting to join in despite initial shyness. Later a cellist started playing Bach.

Generations of women showed up – grandmothers with their grandchildren; mothers with their children. Many different nationalities were there. Many different parts of Scotland were represented. Even a few brave men showed up to stitch – my partner was one of them and he proved very adept with a needle and thread! I was rather proud..

At the TramwayHowever, help is still needed.

You do not have to be greatly skilled with a needle of thread. You do not even have to know how to thread a needle as plenty of of volunteers will be on hand to show you the ropes.

If you can spare thirty minutes of your day (or more!), please come down to the Tramway tomorrow between 10am and 11pm.

You won’t regret it. You will meet some truly inspirational people with wonderful stories to tell, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful art, and your help will be hugely appreciated.

I will continue to be busy these next few days, but thankfully I have a few blog posts in hand so stay tuned..



After several weeks and a marathon day today, I have weaved in the last ends of Homebound – Who We Are which I am exhibiting at Tramway (artistic nudity – possibly NSFW – them – not me!) next week.

I will write more about my actual piece and take plenty of photos once the exhibition opens, but right now I’m just rather happy to have finished making it. Today has been a ten-hour odyssey of adding-editing-adding-editing and some more editing (I’m a big fan of less is more).

Leisure knitting, sewing, and blogging are all on the agenda for the next few days. I have signed up for a quilting course alongside some familiar faces which should be fun (although the quilting tutor might not agree after being subjected to us!). I have been practising the lace pattern for Fancy and I think I have cracked the secret code. I also have a halfway-done muslin for my Simplicity 2501 top which I am itching to finish..

.. maybe I shall start by having a quiet night off from making things.

First Signs of Spring

Rock ArtI went out for a walk in the sunshine today.

Along the way I passed one of my favourite pieces of street art. Seeing this little happy seal never fails to cheer me up. Look at his wibble face!

Usually any graffiti or street art gets removed rather swiftly, but this little fellow has graced the side of the bridge for as long as I can remember. Maybe he cheers up the park wardens too?

Early Signs of SpringLeaving the footpath running through the arboretum, I entered the actual Botanical Gardens. Snowdrops, croci and this almost-in-bloom tree. The sun continued to shine. I saw students curling up on benches trying to focus on their books (and failing miserably).

I honestly felt tempted to buy myself some coffee and a croissant, and join the students on the benches but I’ve been down this road before and know the Sore Throat and Blocked Nose consequences far too well.

Sunshine BeretBesides, I had errands to run like a proper grown-up. Well, if you saw my errands you’d refuse to believe I’m a grown-up but I’ll save that for a later post..

Needless to say, I was also cheered by my lovely sunshine-yellow beret that I am wearing a lot at the moment.  My beret matches the yellow crocus flowers, I discovered, which pleases me no end.

Fabric for CrepeThen I came home to find my postie had left a parcel for me. I had ordered some African wax print cotton off eBay and it arrived today! Hooray!

My fabric is lovely and I had a very, very pleasant transaction with the eBay seller (who I recommend wholeheartedly – how often can you say that about eBay sellers?). The fabric is earmarked for the Crepe dress which I have a notion to make many, many times. I just need to find fabric for the sash (maybe do the sash out of the same fabric? It is so busy it doesn’t need to be broken up by a solid colour) and, of course, find the time..

.. because right now I’m really, really busy trying to make my piece for the Tramway exhibition work. Right now I have a bucket wallpaper paste and a bag of old newspapers lurking in my bathroom. No prizes for guessing what we’ve been up to tonight.