metafemale (x inactivation), and the COLLAGE festival

i have futzed around with the pages presented at the top of this blog, and you might notice that the category that was just for knitting and stitching work has become two categories — one from a decade ranging from 2003 to 2013, and one that is current. i’ve mentioned here recently (relative to my posting here at all) that our household and family have undergone some changes in dynamics and so has life as far as knitting and stitching is concerned.

the biggest change is that almost everything i am working on now or have planned as far as original knitting is concerned (not stuff like christmas stockings and homey stuff necessarily) is collaborative work.

the first significant thing i completed in 2014, with my collaborative partner, tucker collins, was made in response to a proposal i had been asked to submit to the COLLAGE festival, a specifically collaborative and low-budget arts and performance festival in philadelphia.

tucker is a scientist and is perhaps a little didactic, and he had been trying to explain what metafemales were, and it soon became apparent to me that knitting one might not take much longer than listening to his explanation itself, and possibly be more enjoyable. he understood, up until the very end, more than i did about the syndrome, and i’m sure he still does. but he succeeded in teaching me, eventually, what it was, and how we were expressing it in our piece.

and, this was the first thing we knit together, which was very satisfying, as i had been carrying needles and yarn in my bag in hopes of catching tucker at a weak moment in which i could teach him to knit, since he was seventeen. it only took two years. he has gotten very good in the past year. you may not be able to see it perfectly from this photo, but that’s a hell of a way to freehand a pair of human feet, much less female genitalia.

complete_in_yard_metafemale

here was the statement we made about the piece for COLLAGE:

In placental mammals, males have one X chromosome, while females have two. The body compensates for the presence of two X chromosomes in females by randomly inactivating one of them during development. The pattern of inactivation is maintained, and thus a form of mosaicism, visible or otherwise, is exhibited. A well-known example of the visibility of this mosaicism is the calico cat, whose pattern is a result of this phenomena. Less, or not visible at all, is the mosaicism present in all females.

In Metafemales, who occur in about one in a thousand human women, the mosaic formed during development contains not just two X’s, but three. Still, despite the extra X chromosome, only one of them can be expressed, and instead two must be inactivated. The triple-X condition will go unnoticed in most cases, the syndrome being nearly symptomless.

This project depicts genetic mosaicism in human females with Triple X-syndrome (Metafemales). In this knitted sculpture, the inactivated chromosomes are shown as hard, compact articles (beads, buttons, etc.) representing their suppressed potential. (suppressed information IS always more interesting than what’s out in the open, isn’t it?)

The expression of the active chromosomes are shown with knitted red and blue V’s, like small messages in transit or arrowheads in flight.

Our Metafemale has taken on the stance of the Hanged Man from the Tarot, who is suspended upside down in order to meditate on life. On the molecular level, she has an augmented level of suspended potential for activity than normal women, and so on a greater level she herself has become this alternate symbol of suspension.

For more information on Triple X-syndrome and female mosaicism: http://ebookee.org/Females-Are-Mosaics-X-Inactivation-and-Sex-Differences-in-Disease_130415.html

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so this is still a very new thing — finding a person with whom you do not necessarily want to sit and make things along side of, but with whom you want to make things TOGETHER. it is imperfect and it is not smooth.

screamingbw_tuckandam

his timelines do not work like mine do. my stress, when things are down to the wire, has me expending a lot of energy talking about how we need to just give up. he never wants to. we finish things. and we are working on things we were working on together a year ago, still. COLLAGE, and the exhibition of the metafemale, happened in the weekend that marked the one year anniversary of tucker’s life in our household.

here’s the flickr set for the project, although we really did not start documenting until we were almost finished.

and here are some photos of other things that were going on at COLLAGE. you had to give it a little time to get under the surface; then it really was interesting. we were delighted that arun was still visiting and was part of our evening!

and it’s march, so it must be time for me to tell you how krampuslauf went.

krampuslauf philadelphia has become something of a full-time job, and it’s certainly not quite the “seasonal” event it was. well it is. but there’s always more, it seems! and that is how i like it.

let’s see. you can certainly check out this year’s clip video:

which is twice as long as last year’s because we didn’t JUST have krampuslauf this year… we had SNOWY SLEETY krampuslauf (here’s PHL 17′s lovely photo essay)

but we also had a GALLERY EXHIBITION of artifacts from these first three years of laufing in philly. our relationship with iMPeRFeCT gallery is the best thing that happened to krampuslauf this year.

ben and i promoted the exhibit by spending nearly two hours of dumbounded delight on g-town radio with ed feldman. a true gift. have a long listen.

the exhibition ended with a lovely closing dinner and then an amazing sight: das mädchen (do you know about das mädchen? you have a lot of catching up to do!) leaving the gallery. both of these videos are from artist gary reed.

and we are extremely grateful to have been given a $2000 grant from penn treaty special services district for krampuslauf philadelphia. claudia thanked them with this rather astounding piece of artwork which i had a pretty hard time handing over.

PENNTREATYthankyouart

and, looking both back and forwards, we also have believe it tour’s video of the 2013 lauf (congrats mike and diane on your wedding!)

AND will soon be having the amazing experience of a maskmaking workshop in philly with arun once-was-zygoat, the one-man inspiration for krampuslauf philadelphia! that’s in just a few weeks! so… with more irons in the fire than ever in addition to a more peopled household, expect fewer posts here than ever before — but expect they will be great ones!!

four new christmas stockings

fourkidstockings_belafront

late october or so, it occurred to me to make the big guys xmas stockings. almost simultaneously, i recognized my longstanding dissatisfaction with the knitted stockings i’d made béla and claudia when they’d first arrived, and decided to make new ones to match the boys’.

it did seem a pretty clear example of holiday mission creep, to want to make four entire new stockings by christmas when i had started around halloween. i did not get them all done. asa’s and béla’s were done. claudia’s was finished christmas eve day and was still damp enough from blocking that santa, worried that her gifts would block it out of shape, just left the stocking draped over her stack.

tucker’s stocking got cast on on xmas eve day, but only out of stubbornness. on christmas morning, he had gifts in a store-bought stocking from target chosen by our friend liz. i finished his stocking about a week ago, and it is out now still because some of his birthday gifts are in it.

asa’s stocking was first, fastest, and easiest.

asa_wholething

it’s also the only one of the four blocked with the heel folded at the side; the name chart and octopus chart were both small enough that i doubled them and there is one on either side of the stocking. it’s the only one like that. (thus far.)

asa_button

both big boys have a scottish military button on the loop at the top of their stocking.

béla did not have any single thing in particular that he wanted on his stocking, but was willing to choose from a number of suggestions, eventually going with the hattifatteners from the moomin books, which we are reading. i found this chart online, made for mittens, and it was a bear to make. but it came out so great.

bela_hattifatteners

it was, however, so long that, if i was basing the size of the new stocking’s on asa’s completed one, i now had no room for the name band. at least not on the front. so béla has a vertical name band on the back of his stocking.

bela_verticalnameband

he also has a tassle on his toe.

bela_tassletoe

claudia was just too obvious — we had to make her a pink stocking with hoogah on it!! i say we because tucker was called into service to chart hoogah for me…

claudia_hoogahchartbytuck

absolutely perfect.

claudia_hoog

the thing about tucker is, if you say “i want to make/do something for you, how would you like it to be?” he will give you a baffling and ambitious answer, but he will also be happy to foot part of the bill. he wanted a magpie — so, he charted a magpie.

tucker_magpie

his magpie also has another of the scottish military buttons i’d gotten, in its beak.

we were both of pretty strong mind that tucker’s stocking should be grey, and while all the other stockings had name bands bounded with black check, we felt just as strongly that tucker’s box needed to be more open. so it is.

tucker_openboxandquote

he also wanted, on the foot of the stocking, a quote by mogwat the magpie from the book he is currently reading the children, perloo the bold. Of all challenges the greatest is to be yourself. tuck charted that too; he did not use any printed charted alphabet, he simply made it up on his own. there’s no way to get a photo of the entire quote, but trust me, it is lovely.

i am working on ben’s stocking now, i know what mine will be as well, and actually tucker and i are doing some research on something for his and asa’s daddy. i am sure that by the time those are finished, i will know who is next.

fourkidstockings_belaback

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birkensnake six: wild conformations, gallery release in pittsburgh

tripleshadowWCs

i’ve certainly mentioned here in prior postings that i’ve been editing a special edition of the literary magazine birkensnake over the past year. our volume has come to fruition, amongst its sister volumes — all quite unusual in format — and our own wild conformations issue was the highlight of a gallery exhibit at most wanted fine art in pittsburgh a few weeks ago. the other special issues of birkensnake 6 which were completed were also on display.

jasoningallery

gallerist and demolition derby driver jason sauer was the illustrator for the wild conformations issue and all of the illustrations for the issue were available as coloring pages at the gallery opening, which was going on concurrent with pittsburgh’s first dios de los muertos celebration.

grownupcoloring

sauer had also reproduced his illustrations for wild conformations as paintings on metal, and these were on display in the gallery as well.

bakerypainting

there was a catch, though, if you wanted to HAVE a copy of any of the special birkensnake 6 issues, which were all produced by artists (our own designed by edie fake) and in very short supply. if you wanted to walk away with a copy, you had to do a public reading from whichever volume you wanted. these events are still going on at the gallery throughout december. here are some videos of readings:

amasked dia de los muertos observer reads from a romance story featured in wild conformations issue:

 

here’s author rachel piccari, whose work is featured in another of the birkensnake 6 iterations (one that i believe is not quite ready yet), reading from the wild conformations issue. piccari got on a bus from philadelphia to pittsburgh. right after the event she got back on a bus back to philadelphia. hardcore.

and here’s jason reading, with baby rowdy.

the wild conformations issue itself is online in content, although you don’t get to see the beautiful funky presentation,

and my photos from the evening are here.

in the very week last year when we were letting submitting authors know their proposals had been chosen for the issue, one editor (liz) and one author (jamie) became parents. this gallery event, and the first sight of the completed issues, happened the week both of those babies turned one.

i am grateful to birkensnake, joanna ruocco and brian conn, liz hahn, jason sauer and nina gibbs of most wanted fine art, lisa annelouise rentz, matthew salesses, kawika guillermo, jamie grefe, patricia friedrich, and edie fake for making this year-long collaboration possible.

birkensnake 6 is now part of the little magazine collection at university of madison-wisconsin’s memorial library.

halloween (sort of) 2013

it has been a really long time since i posted here. nothing to say about it except that life got big, and our family got bigger. all is well.

this year, both claudia and béla wanted store bought costumes. béla, in fact, knew nothing about what he wanted to be EXCEPT that he wanted it to come from a store; claudia is very into monster high right now (sigh) and has used all her tooth fairy money (four so far) on those dolls.

she wanted a monster high costume, he eventually chose a ghostbusters costume (having just seen the movie in a hotel in richmond, virginia) and they enjoyed their dance school party, regular school party, and trick-or-treating.

trickortreating

halloweenfriends

but.

tucker has been reading d’aulaires’ greek mythology to claudia since the summer. (béla wouldn’t sit for it.) and we convinced her that, even if she didn’t wear it anywhere, that we NEEDED to make her an athena costume. just for the sake of doing it. and for pictures.

so we did.

as my friend bryan said, “i’m not angry about war or happy about war, it’s just what i’m the goddess of, the end”.

athenapreshoot5

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so even though no one but her family saw her, we had our little goddess of war. plenty more photos available here.

can we have the final word in zombie knitting? allow me.

quite some years ago — let’s see, when did romero’s land of the dead come out? 2005? — i knitted a large zombie doll as i waited for the film’s release. it’s all well on record, my love for romero, the way he works, and his under-appreciated non-horror films. and at the time i knit my zombie doll — a large, floppy, primitive rendering of “bub” the zombie from day of the dead — i’d never seen anyone knitting zombies.

but of course, it wasn’t long after that at all that zombies became a THING, the way bacon and pirates and cupcakes suddenly became THINGS, and i saw lots of little knitted zombies with oh-no-mr.-bill mouths. knitted zombies seemed to be quite everywhere. my bub was ok, but he had button eyes and therefore wasn’t even given to the children until rather recently, and they weren’t all that interested. i have to say, i don’t even know where he is now and it’s possible that we’ve gotten rid of him. i wasn’t in love with how bub had turned out — but i also never saw any other knitted zombies that i thought were anything special.

until fiona goble’s knit your own zombie. (that seems to be an american edition; i have the british one.) i already owned goble’s knit your own royal wedding, but never had any intention of making anything out of it. the zombie book, i wanted to work with right away. i loved her construction (although in the long run i never made any of the velcro tear-away limbs for my dolls). and i loved learning to use chain stitch for faces and details. the first dolls i made straight from the book were for the kids for christmas.

vampireandskellydoll

the kids liked them, i was happy with them, i had fun with the scale. i wanted to make more, and specifically zombie ones (with body cavities and entrails!) but was waiting for an opportunity to present itself.

then, one of my new pittsburgh pals — gallerist and founder of the pittsburgh 48-hour film project nina gibbs — clued me into the hollywood theater in dormont and it’s “go digital or go dark” fundraising campaign. a number of themed events were popping up to raise money, and a night of the living dead-themed event — with staff, crew, art auction, live music, and screening of a 35mm print — was one of them. i knew then who — what! –  i needed to make more zombie dolls for! and i made a pair and sent them to the auction at the festival. i wanted to be there, but my dolls were.

hands down, best zombie dolls in the knit world are the ones fiona goble designed. but i’ll take my end of the deal, happily. here are the dolls i knit, at the festival.

russ_streiner_with_zombie_dolls

ah. there they are. who is that man holding them?

oh. just a guy named johnny.