Monday, February 27, 2006


This started out it's life as something else. But I lost interest in the project because I didn't like the feel of the multi-colored yarn. So I took the two halves below and seamed them into a poncho for Iris instead.

I was going to use the same black yarn for the crochet edging and neck ribbing, but Iris insisted that the furry yarn would be much nicer around the edge. She was quite right. Then, I worried that the wool/mohair black Lamb's Pride yarn would be too scratchy for her and went into my Local Yarn Shop (LYS) for a suitable pink acrylic yarn. (Iris insisted on a pink neckline.) I was skeptical, but the fuchsia Utopia works well.

Patricia, the owner of the Slipt Stitch in El Segundo, asked me to write up the poncho pattern for her shop. It should be there in a couple of weeks.

Why didn't I like the multi-colored yarn? I bought a bag containing 3 balls of yarn labeled recycled silk for $15 from a booth at the El Segundo Farmers' Market. The yarn was a relative bargain compared to the Mango Moon at the Slipt Stitch. However, the 'recycled silk' felt as scratchy as twine and wholly unlike the Mango Moon. I did a flame test and discovered there was no silk in it whatsoever. It was most likely low-quality rayon with a large amount of sizing. Caveat emptor.

No, that is not a video game in her hand. She is playing with a new GPS navigation system and memorizing the route between Disneyland and home. If a couple of 5 year olds could work this new GPS unit, then it just might be intuitive enough for me to use. Yes, they do beta test electronics with 5 year olds. No, I will not name the electronics company.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I really shouldn't reward temper tantrums. But I have a soft spot for my kid. I knit her a little beaded bracelet of her own with silver-colored 26 gauge craft wire and light blue beads. I slipped it on her wrist while she slept. In the morning, she ran to my bedroom to throw her arms around me for a big hug and kiss. She said I was the best mommy ever.

keyword: modern motherhood, knitting with wire

Friday, February 24, 2006

Imagery from the past

What project did I try from Annie's book? I tried knitting with wire. Yes, it was slow going and challenging. But what a rewarding process!

Here we go, casting on!

In the middle.

Complete! A beaded wire bracelet.

Blocking this was so much fun! I just squished and pulled and the thing just morphed in my hands. I am easily amused.

Now I finally get to the point of this blog entry title.
Some images are so arresting, that I can't forget them-even after 20 years. I finished the project and it reminded me of something...

Back in the 80's, I went to the Issey Miyake Spectacle: Bodyworks exhibit at SFMOMA and was blown away. Here is the body cuff from the cover of the catalog. It's like a giant bracelet. It is beautiful alone as a sculpture.

It looks great on a human body, too. I would wear it, if someone gave me one. Hint. Hint.

It looks like a giant slinky. Don't you just want to touch it and feel the metal vibrate?

Here is another piece that contrasts the fluidity of the shape with the hardness of the cage-like structure. I had the hubris to hold up my bracelet next to it.

The bamboo vest reminds me of japanese samurai body armor shown at the de Young museum only two years prior to the Bodyworks show. Of course, the exhibition poster was sold out by the time I had saved up enough money for it. If anyone is reading this and has one they want to unload, leave me a comment.

The Details
I used 26 gauge wire from Stats and beads from the Bead Studio. (They, and the Cotton Shop, are all dangerously close to my home-less than a five minute walk.) As others have pointed out, knitting with wire is best done a little bit at a time to avoid developing tendonitis. It took 2 sessions of less than 2 hours each to complete the project. It might go faster next time, but I am trying to relearn how to slow down and enjoy the process.

Ancient History
Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the exhibition catalog at the time. When I finally had a real job, I found the book on Not surprisingly, the book costs more now than new at the exhibit. Surprisingly, the only copy for sale on was physically in Los Angeles, CA. So am I! I contacted the seller and that's how I discovered Dawson's Book Shop and Larchmont Village.

Doesn't the bright yellow laminate IKEA 'lack' side table pop? It normally sits beside a black leather couch. When the in-store 'designer' sold us the couch, she told us how great it would be for a household with kids. We just wipe it down with a damp cloth, rub scratches with black shoe polish and apply creme conditioner every once in a blue moon. She said monthly but a household would have to be more organized than ours to remember to do that.

The Bad Mom part
When Iris saw the completed bracelet, she wanted it. I said it was for me. She asked if we could share it. I said no. She stormed away and slammed her bedroom door.

keywords: wire knitting, art, Issey Miyake, museums, modern motherhood

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Windsday

Iris wished me a happy windsday so I am posting the GOES West infrared image and jet stream analysis for today, Windsday, 22 February 2006. I lifted the graphic from the California Regional Weather Server at Cal State San Francisco. They have more pictures like this (including movies!) and more weather data for CA than you can shake a mouse at.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Zen of Minivans

I have been reading Confessions of a Knitting Heretic and trying one of the projects. Annie Modesitt drops pearls about knitting and life in general throughout the book. It made me think about the elusive Q in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM). That got me thinking about minivans again. The Nissan Quest ad campaign was so offensive to me because it missed the Q of minivans. A minivan is a social vehicle about moving your kids, parents, grandparents, friends and all the other people you carpool with. It is the practical car for the sandwich generation. It holds strollers and wheelchairs with equal aplomb. The minivan is not about you. It is about the multiple roles you play in society.

For people who did not read ZMM, Q is the quality or essence of an object or person. I think of it as the thingness of the thingy.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Appropriate Attire

One of the moms at the first daycare center Iris attended used to dress in very tight and revealing clothes. (How else could I know what kind of tattoo she has on her lower back?) She also seemed to have a permanent case of bed head. I used to wonder where she worked, dressed like that. One day, I noticed her getting into the white mustang convertible next to my station wagon. She had a playboy enterprises parking sticker on her car. Oh. Now it all makes sense.

There was another dad who dressed like a surf bum. He dropped his kid off wearing a tank top, board shorts and flip-flops. I asked him if he was spending the morning surfing. He replied that he was heading to work. I later found out that he was a creative director at a very famous ad agency nearby. (He was responsible for the Xterra campaign that I blogged about earlier.)

Then there was the time that I couldn't locate a street address. I figured that street people spend a lot of time on the street so they might be able to give me directions. I asked for directions from the first man that I saw that looked like a street person. He snapped back something like, 'How the heck should I know?’ but only less polite. I walked on. As I crossed the street at a crosswalk, a car bumped me in the back of my knee, nearly making me crumple to the street. I turned around to yell at the driver. It was the bum driving a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

That's life in LA. You can’t judge people by their attire.

More thoughts about LACMA

DH (dear husband) brought up something else about our last LACMA family Sunday outing. The kids collage activity took place on drop cloths on the third floor of the contemporary art building. They casually laid down a couple of drop cloths in front of David Hockney’s painting of Mulholland Drive and spread the art supplies around for the kids to go at it. (Iris recognized it as the picture hanging in our living room and told the docents about it.)

People say that LACMA is no Met. But can you imagine the Met welcoming kids into the galleries and letting them treat it like a living room? They let a bunch of kids wielding glue sticks spend the afternoon within a few feet of one of their most famous works of art.

I read that a new director has been appointed to head up LACMA. I hope he continues this tradition of accessibility.

keywords: art, museums, LACMA

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Late Bird Update

We are now 0 for 4 in getting to school on time this week. Maybe I should make her late tomorrow to make it a full week. But then that would be setting a bad example.

Mark wants to start his own blog but is too lazy to set one up. Perhaps you will see postings from him on this one.

keywords: Iris, Bad Mom

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Late Birds and the Best Valentine's Day Ever

We are 0 for 2 this week in getting Iris to school on time. I join all the other late bird and bad moms who wonder why we can't manage basic things like getting the kids to school on time.

OTOH, I did pack up and take the old mac-incompatible printer and scanner and donate it to her school this morning. I also volunteered to set it up in her classroom and show her teacher how she could use the scanner and computer to teach natural science.

The main reason we were late this morning was just because Iris and I were enjoying each other's company too much to rush. I woke her up with a big, "Happy Valentine's Day!" greeting and then pulled the pink heart dress that I made for her over her head. She swished around and then pantomimed, "I love you". I had to run for a camera to record the performance. With the camera rolling, she gave an encore performance and then went into an interpretive dance about the size of that love.

Then Iris wanted to play back the movie but I told her I didn't remember how to do it on the camera screen. She said that she would do it. So she took the camera and proceeded to flip some switches and navigate a couple of menus and replayed the movie clip for us. She is 5 years old. We read the instructions for the camera months ago and I promptly forgot everything. (Now, if only I can get her to come to work with me so that she can show me all the things I used to be able to do but now have to look up in a book.)

The day gets better. We went downstairs for breakfast and she saw the little Valentine and present (M&Ms) by her placemat. She read the card which featured a cat. After she told me it was the best Valentine's day ever, she went into baby kitty mode. This involves lots of meowing and licking. Maybe this was cuter when she was 3 than at 5, but I just want to treasure these moments before she is too self-conscious.

At work, DH called me up and invited me to lunch at a bistro nearby. We even had walnut streudel and coffee afterwards.

keywords: Iris, Bad Mom

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lee Mullican @ LACMA

The family spent Sunday afternoon at LACMA Family Sunday. I hit the show that closed today while Mark and Iris went on the docent-lead tour for kids. I liked the hip-hop visuals well enough to bring Iris to see it. It was a tactical error as I didn't really know how to explain the painting entitled "Red Light District" to a 5 year-old.

The main point of this posting is to encourage everyone to see the Lee Mullican exhibit before it closes February 20, 2006. The exhibition is stunning. I never knew what a printer's ink knife was before today. But I now know that I must own one. Maybe I need several; they come in different sizes.

I got down so that my eyes were at Iris' eye level. It was difficult to see the paintings with tall grown-ups in the way. We waited for the crowd to clear so that she could view the first triptych properly. She became impatient, but I was insistent. When she finally got a clear view, she let out a spontaneous, "Wow!"

Enough said, go see it. I insist. If you bring a kid under 18 with you, admission is free. Metered parking is reasonably priced and usually available within a 2 block radius of LACMA. The Metro rapid 720 bus goes by LACMA every few minutes.

keywords: art, museums

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Mommy Wars

Much has been written about the mommy wars. But I always felt that the media debate was heavily skewed towards the experiences of upper and upper middle class white women. The NYTimes finally decided to take a tiny step towards rectifying this imbalance by publishing this.

I highly recommend reading The Second Shift for the way it covers the both the lives of the women working at an unnamed Fortune 500 company and the lives of the (mostly) immigrant women who take over the "women's work" that frees up the first group to pursue their privileged careers. Global Woman shows how little has changed in terms of the expectations placed upon professional women both at work and in the home. The care deficit needs to be made up somehow and globalization provides a low resistance path.

One point that is not discussed much is the obligation that women in traditionally male occupations feel to not let down the women coming up after them. Throughout my education, I heard comments about how so and so (professors) had a point in not supporting female graduate students because women were going to quit science anyway when they had kids. Thus, scarce resources were preserved for men who would presumably stay in science. Therefore, if we quit, then we will prove those people right and make it more difficult for younger women.

The NYTimes article quotes an educator who put it eloquently,
"Your journey is not just about you," Ms. Luckett said to the two dozen women, aged 19 to 85. "It's about adding to the journey of those who came before you and paving a way for the journeys after yours."

keywords: feminism, sociology, women in science

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

First Bubble

How do you teach someone a skill that you perform unconsciously? Iris is approaching the last of her Halloween candy and has opened a package of Bubble Yum. She is having one a night after dinner. Last weekend, she gave one piece each to Mark and myself so that we could demonstrate how to blow a bubble. (That is how I discovered that Mark couldn’t blow a bubble.) It was hard to explain to Iris how I manage to blow them. I really had to practice and pay attention to how I achieved it so that I could explain the steps to her. Iris couldn’t blow bubbles at first.

Last night, while curled up on the couch and watching a movie with me, she took her gum out of her mouth and showed me a tiny bubble! She did that with only 2 nights practice. Am I proud? Why else would I be blogging about it?

keyword: Iris

Monday, February 06, 2006

More Dyeing Adventures

There's a baby boom at work this spring. You would think that no rocket science is getting done around here. I spent a couple of hours dyeing up a dozen items just prior to kickoff yesterday. I also dyed up a devore silk scarf using these instructions.

I made up a soda ash solution.
4 Tablespoons soda ash
1/2 Cup rock salt
Hot water to make up 1 gallon

I then made up solutions of 1 teaspoon Procion dye powder and 8 oz. of water. The trick is to mix a very small amount of water into the dye to make a paste. Stir until there are no lumps left, then add the rest of the water. Fuchsia is very strong and you can get by with less than a full teaspoon of dye powder. The blue dyes are weaker and you may want to use two teaspoons of dye powder. You can also use Glauber's salt to improve blue yield.

I washed the stuff to be dyed in synthrapol, a special detergent that does not have any additives that might interfere with dyeing. It is also very effective at keeping dye chemicals suspended in water so that they do not back dye the items (more on that later). I swirled, rolled or pleated the damp onesies and held them together with rubber bands.

I poured 2 cups of the soda ash solution into 3 1 gallon ziploc bags and poured some turquoise, midnight blue or sapphire blue dye solution into them. I used a foam brush to "paint" some yellow or fuchsia on some of the onesies and threw them in the baggies. I put two onesies into each bag. The colors blended into green and purple in some sections and stayed distinct in others.

I put the baggies outside on the south-facing flagstone patio for 4 hours. Heat helps the dye take. Then, I squeezed out the dye solution, rinsed in cool water in the kitchen sink a bit, then wrung them out one last time. The items were all washed by machine with a little bit more synthrapol. If you don't use synthrapol, you run the risk that the leftover dye molecules will stain the undyed sections.

Here is the scarf sitting in the plastic shoe box in kitchen sink after the sapphire blue and turquoise dye were poured on.

After pouring in just enough soda ash to cover the scarf, I placed two layers of plastic wrap on top of the wet scarf and pushed down to make sure the dye penetrated all the way through the scarf. It went out on the flagstone patio also. Because I have never dyed silk or rayon with Procion before, I put the shoe box in the microwave for a minute before rinsing. I then threw the scarf in the washing machine with the rest of the stuff.

As you can see, the color came out fully saturated and beautiful. The fringe came out a knotted mess. I should have heeded the instructions. They said to wash the scarf by hand, being careful not to tangle the fringe. I did follow their example and poured one color on 2/3 of the scarf and the other color on the remaining 1/3. If you tried to do it in halves, then the fact that it isn't perfectly 50/50 will really bother the eye.