Sunday, 1 June 2014

Words in bloom

As I coast (not an accurate description but unbridled panic isn't a great introduction to a post) into the last ten weeks of my masters, having written only 10% of my dissertation is not an edifying feeling.  There's so much research to get through, but … the ideas are coming together and perhaps part of the learning process is about respecting my own process (while not hacking off my supervisor too much by not being able to stick entirely to hers).  Displacing anxiety onto the mark (out of my hands once the work is written) instead of onto the actual writing has been distracting so I'm pulling focus back to the point that this year has been revelatory in lots of ways; I have got so much more than an education from it which is more than one can hope for really.  So I'm going to get those words on paper for goodness sake.  I managed to get these words written after all so it is possible…

Vase of Flowers, Mary Moser, The Fitzwilliam Museum

This Mary Moser painting, aside from being rather beautiful, is relevant for a couple of reasons - she featured in Amanda Vickery's fantastic BBC 2 programme about women and their often overlooked but significant contribution to art through the ages.  The programme gave me a(nother) flash of inspiration for my project - which has been rather slowed down by the glut of ideas that keep springing to mind - which is looking at the textual function of embroidery in the eighteenth century; in particular thinking about images of flowers and how they might have allowed women to interact and communicate as a form of, in effect, writing in stitch.  I suspect it's a bit of a niche interest.
Anyone who has embroidered knows that it isn't a particularly gentle art.  In fact, if my two weeks at the RSN taught me anything it's that it's technically, creatively and physically demanding - my fingers were bleeding and swollen, my back was aching, my eyes were sore but it was all worth it because it felt as if I had learnt so much and was communicating something of that learning through the work (it taught me a HUGE amount besides a tolerance for physical discomfort by the way).  In fact, I thought there was a post about my crewelwork somewhere but I can't find it.  I must fish it out and photograph it at some point.  In the meantime, my Blackwork module took a tumble in the fallout from personal stuff so that's been deferred until the next academic year which was upsetting but things that are worth it are worth waiting for.  I've already prepared a draft design for it so there's an element of bloody minded determination to get it done.  At some point, a certificate of some level of technical competence will be gripped in my paw.

Speaking of photographs, here are some photographs of a new Audrey in action including a boob shot for which I apologise but it's both accidental and knitwear (so unavoidable for seeing the yoke) which means it's hardly gratuitous - it's all for the art you know.  Making this again would involve more shaping at the waist and I might go down a size and up a needle rather than going up two sizes and sticking with the recommended needle.  The buttonhole band was replaced by a ribbon trim and poppers to which I added some rather nice old buttons that I found in some little dodgy shop somewhere.  More information on my Ravelry page.

Awkward subject, nice cardigan, loving the clogs 

It's all about the yoke

Poppers and buttons.  Not easier than knitting a button band as it turns out.

The yoke in live action ...

Having made it through a doctor ordered two week exercise ban without climbing the walls (which presumably wouldn't have been allowed anyway), I got back to running this week, what with being in fine fettle all along, and found myself trotting around Verulam Park.
Something that I have in common with many other people is a mildly obsessional fondness for animals - in fact I prefer dogs to most people, cats on occasion but they've got to be pretty special as no one wants to be the needy one in a relationship, especially one with a pet.  The happiest days of my life involve trips to Monkey World, seeing an orang-utan in the wild, drifting past a crocodile while perched in a tiny leaky boat, or being held hostage on a hiking trail by a moose in Alaska …  I've always said hello to people (odd enough in a Londoner if one observes stereotypes), but if they have a dog then the dog gets a smile first.  In general animals have a better sense of how to treat each other than most people.  Explains a lot about my social skills no doubt.

Anyway, the point is that on my gambols through the park there is always something to see.  When I head out early, there are sleeping ducks on the paths or geese lining up like rows of  sentinels to brace themselves for that first dip, coots leading their chicks downstream, rabbits lolloping around doing whatever it is that rabbits do with their free time.  Later, dogs barrel along trying to interact with some fairly disinterested but not overly intimidated ducks - must take a camera so I can take pictures because it's lovely.  It reminds me of the favourite part of each of my days in Glasgow.  To get to the university one must pass a dog park and without fail there was a hound capable of raising a smile.  Despite most  recollections of a Glasgow winter including a crescent of duffle coat hood, I still remember every day as sunny which of course can't be true because I was damp for a large part of November to February.  Am sure those crazy collies and loopy labs have something to do with it.  Now the duffle coat has been shed, it's Rocky style fitness out there, and doing circuits in the park attracts a lot of canine spectators who assume that people doing the plank in a public space must be subject to sniffs and other often rather personal interrogation.

Note to self: if you go purple during exercise, don't wear purple - the St Albans Sweaty Betty gang (and me hanging on for survival) ...

So the last few weeks have been an interesting time, involving more contact with The Professions than I would normally like (including that exercise ban).  Technically I suppose, though, they are experts and it's nice to be reassured that things are never so bad, actually really rather OK, and that there is an other side to come out of, no doubt rather sooner than one thinks.  Being one of those unbearably PollyAnna types anyway, I'm usually quite good at finding the silver lining so striking out and doing my own thing has been good.  From the theatre - La Traviata (gets me every time), Antony & Cleopatra (jaw droppingly good), Titus Andronicus in a few weeks (gory but my favourite Shakey), to galleries (Matisse next week and can't wait), to reading (too many to list) and writing again, it's all been very edifying for those gloomier moments and, in my view, all roads lead to blooming good things eventually, and after a fashion.

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