Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cyanometer

Cyanometer c. 1789

A couple months ago I was researching something for work and came across an ingenious device invented in 1789 by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, a Swiss scientist. The Cyanometer is used to determine the blueness of the sky by directly observing it against a range of blue colors. The Cyanometer helped lead to a successful conclusion that the blueness of the sky is a measure of transparency caused by the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

This led me down a path of research into cyanometers and other chromometers. I came across a wonderful conceptual artwork by Spencer Finch.


His work called the Gowanus Field Guide gathers site-specific references of colors viewed by the artist while walking along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY. It consists of a blank notebook with a map of the Gowanus Canal on the inside. In the rear pocket of the guide are cards which record the individual colors he collected. Using the viewfinder in the center of each card, the viewer is invited to examine and record the colors found in their own surroundings.

These concepts were intriguing to me on so many levels. First of which was my own observations of Great Salt Lake. The myriad of colors that the lake manifests is amazing. From blues to grays to deep reds, the Lake never ceases to amaze me. And it also speaks to my recent musings on terroir and how it can be manifest in my own art.

I wanted to capture these colors in something akin to Finch’s work. So I designed the Lakeview Scarf (Chromometer). It displays all the colors of the water that I have observed going out to Great Salt Lake over several years. It is meant to allow the wearer to gauge the current color of the lake through the windows to compare it to my observations. I am still in the process of knitting the scarf but I have decided to group the colors by family with a window in each grouping for the wearer to use when determining that specific color of the lake.



As you can see in my in-progress picture, I have knitted the blue section and am beginning the green section. It is surprisingly addictive to knit. Although I thought I would take months to leisurely knit this scarf during the in-between moments I have throughout the day. I find myself knitting it instead of doing other more important things. I should be finished with it soon at this rate and will post pictures of the final scarf soon.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Salted Shores Cowl


I finished the second version of my Salted Shores Cowl (see previous post) and while I like both a lot and love the handspun yarn, I have to say that I prefer the first version. The sine wave is more pleasing to me than the infinity wave, and the double infinity wave looks too much like a bra if you view it right. I also learned a new technique for knitting intarsia in the round for the first cowl that is a revelation! I explain the technique in the pattern and I put both charts in the pattern as well. It can be found on my Ravelry page.

I have been intrigued by this notion of terrior and how it relates to art and knitting. I hope to explore it more in future designs, including my next idea that I am already more than half finished with. Hopefully I will have time to blog again this week to discuss it.



Friday, February 27, 2015

My First



This is my first plied handspun skein. It is that Romney that I posted before. Now, what to knit with it?


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Learning to Spin



I am learning to spin! Finally, after years of wanting to and with fits and starts, I realized that I needed to take a class in order to really learn how to spin. Now I am a few weeks in and it is going well. My first attempts (above in white) are very rustic but my later attempts (the brown wool on the spindle) are better. The latest yarn is even spun from wool I picked and carded myself: some beautiful Romney from a small town in Utah called Cornish. In the coming weeks, I will get to learn on a spinning wheel and then maybe my spinning wheel that I received as a birthday present from my parents 25 years ago will actually get some use.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Measure of Salt



The Granary in Ephraim, Utah is hosting an exhibition called “A Measure of Salt: Contemporary Artists Engaging Great Salt Lake.” The exhibition is curated by my friend Hikmet Loe and has some amazing art, all inspired by or using salt. And I am lucky enough to have two pieces in the exhibition: the Halite Choker and Salt Bracelet. The opening reception is tonight if anyone is in Central Utah and wants to see an intriguing exhibition. Information about the exhibit is here.




Monday, February 2, 2015

Bryce Canyon Inspiration


We took an impromptu but much-needed trip down to Bryce Canyon National Park over the weekend. I had been to Bryce Canyon before but it has been almost 20 years, and I had never been in the winter. But, oh my! The Beauty! It was so amazing and unbelievable, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would have guessed the views weren’t real.


As my oldest son exclaimed: “It looks like someone put icing on everything!” And it really did. Although many of the hikes were closed because of the snow, it didn’t matter because we felt incredibly lucky to just get to view the park in the winter.


Although we have taken many, many trips to the red rock country of southern Utah, this is the first time that I have been so inspired. I am thinking I need to knit something. I might just expand my artwork to encompass Southern Utah and the Colorado Plateau as well as the Great Basin!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Terroir

South shore of Great Salt lake in the fall

I have been thinking about my knitting, designs and art lately. Because my practice revolves around my environment, specifically Great Salt Lake, the notion of place has been an important idea to everything I do. I have been thinking about this in relation to terroir. Terroir is defined as “the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character.” It has been expanded over the 20th century to apply to other food products like tea, cheese, chocolate, and coffee. And in the 21st century it has been applied to non-food items, morphing into a kind of philosophy of place. I am interested in this idea and how it pertains to my art and practice.

What does it mean to have terroir in knitting? Is it focusing on the specific climate and land to influence shape, color, texture, and design? Can it be applied to materials and location of practice as well?

I have been asking myself these questions over the last several months and wanted to explore this idea further. Specifically in the design I am working on right now based on the changing shoreline of Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake shoreline is an ever-changing geography. Maps of the lake often need to show approximations of the lake’s boundaries, with a high point and low point outline. This fluxuation is routine for people and animals that live along the banks and make for a beautifully vibrant ecosystem.

North shoreline of Great Salt Lake in spring showing the pink bacteria coloring the water. 

For this design, I not only want to show the texture, line, and color of the Lake’s shoreline, I wanted to capture the terroir of the Lake. I found a woman who lives on the shores of the lake in Centerville, Utah. She raises her own sheep in her backyard then dyes and spins the wool. I was lucky enough to purchase some beautiful purple and white yarn that she had grown and spun along the shores.


These yarns have realized a design of the shore that I have put into a cowl. I abstracted the fluctuating shoreline into a minimalist form. I have two designs in mind so I am knitting both. The first is finished and I absolutely love it. I am doubling the half oval pattern for the second one to see if I like that as well. It is currently a work in progress. Ignore the color differences in the two cowls below. Light is fickle, but they are the same yarn. 


Knitting an item inspired by the shores of Great Salt Lake, using yarn grown and spun on the shores of Great Salt Lake, while knitting the item on the shores of Great Salt Lake is my attempted practice in terroir.

My niece and I took a trip out to Great Salt Lake yesterday and I took some pictures of her wearing the finished cowl. I am pleased with my first venture into the idea of terroir. In the coming month, I hope to finish the second cowl and then I can show them both here. More terroir designs coming soon I hope!