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.

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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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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he also has a tassle on his toe.

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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…

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absolutely perfect.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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birkensnake six: wild conformations, gallery release in pittsburgh

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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

oh. just a guy named johnny.

the patchwork girl of oz

claudia’s oz-love rolls on. we are planning year three of oz-themed halloween costumes, and she and béla both have been learning to use a tarot deck with the wonderful tarot of oz.

while i will not give away the kids’ costume ideas for 2013 at this early date, i was glad that claude did NOT choose to be one of her very favorite characters — scraps, the patchwork girl of oz. scraps is a lot like claudia. she’s loud, boisterous, does not like to follow rules, has an impulse control problem, and thinks certain virtues are overrated.

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i was not gonna make that costume. but i could, i realized, make that doll. for claudia’s birthday.

this is the year we found out about winkie-con. i have no doubt claude could hold her own there. this year, winkie-con is specifically celebrating the centennial of  the patchwork girl of oz … and they had put out a call for folks to share their own versions of “scraps”. how astounded i was to read this amazing blog post by an oz enthusiast who, at age ten, made HIS own patchwork girl of oz! and still has her, of course!

it never crossed my mind to get patchwork-printed fabric. that ten year-old kid was a better planner than me. nope, i bought a whole lotta fabric and pieced the whole freaking thing myself… making a decent-sized section of patchwork and then cutting pattern pieces as i went. fiddly, for sure — and i was aware that i had more patterns, as opposed to solids, than any illustration of the patchwork girl of oz i’d ever seen — but i felt good about my choices (particularly the pink leopard print. i know who i’m sewing for.)

i had started out thinking i would go from baum’s original description:

The Patchwork Girl was taller than he, when she stood upright, and her body was plump and rounded because it had been so neatly stuffed with cotton. Margolotte had first made the girl’s form from the patchwork quilt and then she had dressed it with a patchwork skirt and an apron with pockets in it- using the same gay material throughout. Upon the feet she had sewn a pair of red leather shoes with pointed toes. All the fingers and thumbs of the girl’s hands had been carefully formed and stuffed and stitched at the edges, with gold plates at the ends to serve as finger-nails.
The head of the Patchwork Girl was the most curious part of her. While she waited for her husband to finish making his Powder of Life the woman had found ample time to complete the head as her fancy dictated, and she realized that a good servant’s head must be properly constructed. The hair was of brown yarn and hung down on her neck in several neat braids. Her eyes were two silver suspender buttons cut from a pair of the Magician’s old trousers, and they were sewed on with black threads, which formed the pupils of the eyes. Margolotte had puzzled over the ears for some time, for these were important if the servant was to hear distinctly, but finally she had made them out of thin plates of gold and attached them in place by means of stitches through tiny holes bored in the metal.
The woman had cut a slit for the Patchwork Girl’s mouth and sewn two rows of white pearls in it for teeth, using a strip of scarlet plush for a tongue. This mouth Ojo considered very artistic and lifelike, and Margolotte was pleased when the boy praised it. There were aslmost too many patches on the face of the girl for her to be considered strictly beautiful, for one cheek was yellow and the other red, her chin, blue, her forehead purple and the center, where her nose had been formed and padded, a bright yellow.

but the more i thought about what that would look like, i thought… that doesn’t sound like a pretty doll at all. and john r. neill’s illustrations never followed baum’s description to the letter.

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(i also love this leigh boweryesque film version of scraps from 1914)

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and so, i felt my way through it, with a nice rag doll pattern i bought online, making my fabric as i went. i gave scraps gloved hands, as seems traditional; i turned the gloves inside out and stitched them so they were slightly less regular and slightly smaller than they would have been otherwise.

the shoes where a huge pain.

it was all worth it.

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i finished the doll three or four days before claude’s birthday, and thought in my usual dark humor way, “all we have to do is make it a few more days and i can give it to her!”

that evening she fell backwards down an entire staircase while i watched. four full rotations. she was fine.

within a few more hours, i had a full blown case of norovirus and for twelve hours spent no more than fifteen minutes outside of a bathroom. my brain checked out totally. i couldn’t regulate my body temperature. sadly, i remember every minute of it.

so fuck the calendar. i gave claudia her patchwork girl of oz the night BEFORE her birthday, since she had already made a case for an “early” present (citing béla getting an early present in september… which had been an iron man apron, which was NECESSARY to making his avengers cupcakes for school, obviously.)

i left the doll on her bed with a note that read HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLAUDIA. LOVE SCRAPS. and i went to fold some laundry. according to ben, she walked past the doll without noticing, and when she headed back that direction the next time, she almost jumped out of her skin. i heard her yell “SCRAPS IS IN MY BEDROOM!” and so i went to check.

she’s a big kid now. this was, absolutely, the first time i’ve ever made her something where she clearly made the cognitive connection between the thing i made — and my impulse to do it, related to her. it wasn’t just that she liked the thing… she understood what ME making the thing for her meant. this shot here is not a random fleeting expression. she was looking at me and really, really getting it. why people who make, make the things they make for people they love. she GOT it.

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then she had the nerve to go consult the oz poster in the hallway to see how accurately i had rendered scraps. luckily, i passed.

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she has a few more very nice presents coming to her tomorrow. i am excited about those too. but if she wants to thank me, or ben, or béla, for any of them, i will take the absence of falls down staircases and norovirus as a perfectly good thank you.