January 2010


It is definitely getting harder to climb into the egg. Between the web of attached strands, which makes perfect sense when one is in the egg, but is rather a complicated tangle when one is not, and the ever-narrowing tube I’ve got to stuff myself through, it’s a bit of a trick.

The egg is knit in the round, and the majority of it has been knit on three circular needles, so I’ve got three rounds spiraling up over each other at all times. This was partly so that the knitting could expand fully over the needles – I definitely could not just wrap one circular needle around myself and still work – and partly so that it would be easy to keep track of increases and decreases – one needle does all the fancy stuff, and the other two just knit.

I started from four stitches and increased until I had a mat I could sit on, and from that point I’ve been knitting stockinette in circles around myself. For the first four days I had to turn around a lot, and kind of wished that I had a big lazy susan in there to sit on so I could just spin around. Once the egg walls got high enough, though, I was able to stay in place and just sort of tug the fabric round a bit and knit over each shoulder. This was faster, but meant that I was kneeling in one position for a long long long time, so each method has its disadvantages!

I am now at the point where I will be removing one of the three needles, because I’ve decreased so much they are just flopping around all over the place. I am probably also back to turning around in circles, because as of last night I am pretty much knitting right up in front of my face, and pulling the fabric around is going to get awkward. In fact this whole last stage is going to be a bit awkward, since what comes after “knitting in front of my face” is “knitting on top of my head”. I expect to be closing the egg on Tuesday afternoon, and I will quite possibly be attending Mark Reinhardt’s yoga class on tuesday evening, because assuming I can still move at all, I will probably need it!

As far as closing the egg goes, I am decreasing back to the original four stitches and casting off. This thing really is as egg-shaped as I can make it, given that I am sitting inside it and may not actually have the best perspective on the whole thing. But it is roundish, and wide at the bottom and tapered at the top and warm and cosy and soft inside, so it sounds pretty much egg-like from here.

Last night was the winter ARTcrawl, which was heaps of fun. Peter Moffat got some good pictures of me in the egg, as did Sonya and a few random pedestrians, so I will post more pics as soon as I have them. I have been taking pictures too, but since I have to be out of the egg to take pictures OF the egg, they don’t look like much. This makes me realize though, that I should bring the camera in with me on Tuesday and take some pictures inside it, just for yucks.  (YUCKS, not YOLKS.  Really, people. Control yourselves.)  There’s quite a bit of room in there though.  I mean, not like, living space, but I can definitely move around in there.

If you are in the Chatham area and weren’t at the ARTcrawl last night, you should go check out Laura Moore’s exhibit at the Thames Art Gallery. It will make you want to hug an acorn.  It is good thinky-stuff too, but really I wanted to fondle it.  Which fortunately Laura is entirely ok with.

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The egg, day four.

The Cocooning project is going very well.  I’m making at least four inches a day, and I’ve got lots and lots of strands attached to the egg now. Navigating the window has become awkward.  I am constantly worried that I will forget to bring scissors in with me on the last day, and will be unable to get out.

I’m knitting with three circular needles, one strand for each, so the rounds are spiraling over each other.  Knitting the bit as each needle runs behind me is a bit of a crunch, as it is slow and annoying to have to turn around all the time, but the egg walls are high enough now that I can just sort of lean and knit over my own shoulder.

The yarns I’m using are all either recycled or leftover yarns from finished projects, some mine, some donated by other knitters.  I love that people gave me old yarn, it just helps to point up the interdependency of the whole craft thing.

The response so far has been very encouraging, and I’m even going to get to be in a book!  But, I don’t know what I’m allowed to say about that yet, so I will give you more details later.  It’s very cool, though.  You’ll like it.

I got nothin’ today, so I will tell puppy stories.  Friday’s vet trip was canceled due to a flat tire on The Wreck, so we went today.  Hera weighs 31.6 lbs.  By the time she goes for her final set of shots, she will be bigger than Bryan was – and less than four months old.  Go, Hera!  The vet says she’s in great shape and has very strong legs – no surprise to me, who watches her gallop around trying to keep up with Ulster all day!  She can pace him as long as he maintains a steady lope, but if he actually breaks into a run she can only sit and watch the dust cloud.

31 lbs puts her neatly in between her litter-brother Diesel, who weighs in at 34 lbs, and her dainty sister Kitty, who is a delicate 27 lbs.  Diesel and Kitty live with Stalkermom and The Ed, and are actually the reason we have Hera at all.  Their dog Charlie had to be put to sleep, quite unexpectedly, last fall because he had cancer.  Charlie was an awesome dog, and everybody was of course shocked and upset, and feeling a St Bernard sized hole in their lives – which is a pretty big hole as you can imagine!  With only Rexie, Barney-the-yorkie and Hannah the Newfie running around their yard, things must have seemed too quiet… no wait, with Hannah barking things are never too quiet.  Maybe they were just confused by occasionally being able to cross a room without tripping over a dog.  Anyway, they went looking for a St Bernard.  And, they found Diesel.  Except that while they were finding Diesel, Kitty found them… she is a big-time flirt, and basically indicated that if they were looking for a puppy they couldn’t possibly do better than her, and anyway she wasn’t going to climb down off CK’s*  lap any time soon, so they might as well just admit she was wonderful and let her in the car.  So being sensible people, CK and The Ed adopted Diesel and Kitty.  To be fair, they left, discussed the matter – and called from the next Tim Horton’s they passed to say they’d take Kitty as well.

This is where I come in to the story.  The puppies were too young to leave their mother when they were first seen, so about  a week before The Ed and CK were allowed to bring their pups home, they went back for a visit, and brought me along.  Hera stood out because she was oddly marked – she has a lot of white – and also she was an independent little cuss, didn’t have a lot of patience for snuggles and flattery.  She was the only one not yet adopted.  She also had a small disfigurement in her personal puppy-area which the vet had said would probably right itself with time (and is doing so) but which combined with her personality probably didn’t make her all that attractive to potential puppy-parents.  Also she was the largest female in the litter.

Sure enough, when we went back to pick up Diesel and Kitty, Hera was still not spoken for. And so, after some embarrassing and completely ridiculous debate (because not nearly as much debate as you would think there ought to be in a situation like this) my mom bought Hera for me.  I’m pretty sure even the breeders thought we were crazy.

Hera’s size and independent streak are working out just fine for her at my place.  She’s  able to stand up to Ulster’s rough play, and she’s just affectionate enough to hide behind me when he gets a bit scary.  (Happening less and less often as she grows!)  She loves pets and cuddles, but not when she is trying to go to sleep.  She goes to sleep and wakes up rather like I do – slowly – so there are amusing periods of groggy puppy on either side of nap times.  She is fascinated by chickens, and her only real problem right now, which I imagine time and growth will correct, is that sheep are the most terrifying creatures on earth.  I suspect she has actually had nightmares about sheep-attacks.  She is also very interested in the cat, but after a few days of “you did what?!” Velcro discovered that it is fun to play mind-games with the dog, and enjoys teasing her, so that keeps everybody occupied.

Seems to me that after all this time there has got to be some more fibre stuff kicking around that I can show you.  I’ll have a dig through pics and see what I can come up with for next time!

*For those of you coming in late – Stalkermom/CK = same person, my mother.  She admitted last year to stalker-like tendencies, so I figure I can use the niknames interchangeably.  Hi, Mom!

Here’s day two of the egg:

Photo by Diana Martin, Chatham Daily News

Hera and I actually made the front page with this yesterday… presumably it was a slow week. We were at least below the fold, under Haiti!

And as an example of how things have been going this year – Blackie passed away yesterday afternoon. That’s what it’s been like. Kinda good thing, really really sucky thing. My karma is totally tipsy.

Blackie wasn’t a surprise, though. She’s been failing, and when I went out yesterday morning I was pretty sure we’d come to the end. So we had some cuddles, and I told her again what a beautiful perfect sheep she was. She died peacefully. And I dealt with the things that had to be done and then ran and hid in a shop window and knitted another four inches of egg. It is up above knee level now, and I am feeling pretty good about how it is going.

Also, I finished a sweater. Local artist Hank Bos is responsible for this, or at least that is what I am claiming.  See, there is this piece I’ve got in my head about wind farms, and Hank was encouraging me to get working on it.  I am not ready though, because wind farms make me angry (an immense oversimplification) and I don’t want the piece to be angry.  Or at least, not aggressively so.  So I had kind of pushed it to the back burner and stopped thinking about it.  Hank is a very encouraging sort of person though, and talking to him got me thinking about it again and trying to figure out how to tone down the anger or anyway channel it usefully.  And I decided that if I could work through some of my hostility on another project, maybe I could kind of get it out of my system and look at the idea with a clearer head.

So I made a sweater:

I think it worked.  I feel better now.  Also, I have a new warm sweater.

Here’s one final picture for the puppy fans:

See?  Bigger.  Eleven weeks.  Don’t they look sweet?  That’s because they are sleeping, unlike this very moment when they are thrashing around on the floor wrestling.  Actually they’re cute then too, just more dangerous.  And last night, Hera had her first big St Bernard drool!  Raven tried to take a picture, but it didn’t show up very well.  Baby’s first slobber, we’ll have to put it in the scrapbook.

By which I mean, the last year. I was VERY relieved to see that the giant wolf did not eat the world this past solstice, since if it was ever gonna happen, I would have thought this would be the year. It would just figure.

Fortunately, by the time solstice rolled around the bad things that were continuing to happen had started to be the sort of things that are funny when you talk about them later, which was a definite improvement, believe me!

Oh, there was some good stuff. Louie the Squirrel grew up and met a girl-squirrel and started a family. There were a few amusing weeks where he lived outside, but would break into the house and steal nuts from his dish whenever he was hungry – nothing like taking a nap on the couch and being startled awake by a squirrel landing on your face!

After Bryan and Gallahad died we started losing chickens to predators – coons and foxes, and the 3pm schoolbus were the major offenders. So we decided that we had to get another dog.

This is Ulster. He is a Big Brown Dog. (We’ve told him that’s a compliment.) People say that raising a Chocolate Lab is like raising an ADHD child. Actually, although I don’t know much about it, I think it is more like raising a mildly autistic child. Ulster is very, very focused on [whatever it is he’s interested in], to the exclusion of all else. It isn’t that he doesn’t listen – he doesn’t even hear. So training him is being, let us say, a challenge.

Fortunately, he kicks arse at his most very favorite activity, Playing Fetch. So whenever I’m frustrated and can’t find anything to praise him for, I can just go toss something across the yard and bingo – good puppy. Anyway, he’s only just coming up on his first birthday, he really is still a puppy. He’ll calm right down in ten years or so.

Thing about Ulster is, he is a Dog. A dog’s dog. Doggie doggie dog. He likes fetch, he likes going for long walks gallops in the fields, but what he likes best of all is playing with other dogs. He tries to play with the sheep, but they don’t like it. It doesn’t matter how many toys he brings Freyja, all she does is butt him and run away. We bring him over to The Ed’s to play with their ever-growing menagerie of pups, which is great because everybody sleeps well after, but he has no one to play with at home.

So, Ulster got a puppy for Christmas.

This is Hera.  She is a St. Bernard, about seven weeks old in this picture.  Ulster loves his baby sister.  He was so excited when we brought her home, and he plays with her very well.  She chews on his face.  She’s eleven weeks now, and going in for her second set of shots this morning, so I’ll find out what she weighs.  A LOT, is my guess.

Hera is going to be a cultured puppy.  She has been to the theatre, when I went to get measurements for a Moliere double-bill I’m starting to costume, and she is helping me with an installation I’m doing at ARTspace.  I am knitting myself into an egg.  There is a story about it here.*  So as you can see I am still actually hiding, I’m just now doing it in a very public venue.  I choose to consider this a step forward.

*There are no pictures yet, as I just started working on Tuesday.  Sonya at the gallery is taking pictures every day of the progress, and the Chatham Daily News took some pictures too, so I will be able to post some eventually.  The pic with the article is Velcro hiding in a sweater – which, appropriately enough, is now being unravelled to become part of the egg.  The sweater, not the cat.  Obviously.