Saturday, May 23, 2009

Art Institute Take 2

Another Up shot photo

A few more pictures of the new Modern Art wing are up on my flickr. (Also check out Chuck's, he's got a fancier camera).We had a chance to go there this week and actually see a bit of the art as well as the building. It's been free all week, so it was still pretty packed, but we saw the photography, Modern European Art, and the Cy Towmbly Exhibit. Wow, we saw most of it I guess, just need to go back at some point to see the Contemporary art. It's not a small new wing!

Anyway, I'll be in Ohio for the next week. Several of my cousins are graduating high school and also college, though that comes next month. So posts will be light this week, most likely. So have a good one!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Modern Art Wing Opening

Opening Weekend Opening Weekend Opening Weekend

I had a very architectural weekend. Friday night we got to go to a preview night for volunteers of the homes on the Wright Plus tour. We managed to cram all the homes into the 2 or so hours that we had that evening, but it's a bit of a blur. I had to review the booklet the next day to get a little clarification. But it was a nice evening, and the first time I've had a chance to do much wandering around Oak Park. We will be going back just for some walks.

Since we'd been so successful covering everything there, we decided that the opening weekend of the Art Institute's Modern Wing was not something to miss. It was packed full of people, but I managed to get a few shots of details like the ones above. I do kind of like all the pictures I got of tons of people going up and down the stairs as well, that's not something that's going to happen again. Overall, it's a lovely clean and efficient building, what you would expect from Renzo Piano. I think we were all a little surprised by the amount of glare coming off of the metal flooring on his bridge, but I guess that fits in with the BP bridge by Gehry. Still, it was hard to take without sunglasses. Otherwise the experience of walking up to the restaurant and outdoor patio from the garden across the street was pleasant. We really only took in the building, though we did (appropriately) pop into the Architecture and Design exhibit. I look forward to going back soon to see how it functions on a typical day. And probably to take more pictures.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Computational Knowledge Engine

This morning chuck told me that the WolframAlpha Knowledge engine was released today. I of course had know idea what he was talking about, or even if I was sure if he was speaking english. But I went and looked for it anyway. I'm still not sure I get what it's all about, but it seems fun. I searched for my name, and the results are below. A chart that reflects what I've perceived to be true, Emma was not a common name when I was born, but had been in the past, and is currently. You can also search for dates, locations, and so forth, and it will draw statistical information from all over the internet. A pretty cool idea and fun to explore. It's still in testing, so I ran into just a few kinks, but retrying my entry seemed to get it to work.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wright Plus

Robie House

This is where I'll be today, and then again on Sunday. Wright Plus is a big event in Chicago, it's a home tour in Oak Park of homes by Frank Lloyd Wright or his contemporaries. Of course, the Robie house, which is the house I know stuff about, isn't in Oak park. So instead of activites on the day of the event, Saturday, the days around the event they are expecting Wright Plus crowds at the Robie house. I've already spent a bunch of time down there training, last weekend I helped out with some gardening, but I haven't given a tour yet. This weekend will be my first real tour! I hope it goes well.

Also this weekend is cram packed full of all kinds of events around Chicago, like the opening of the new wing at the Art Institute, architectural tours all over the city, the farmers markets have started up...all kinds of stuff. I am really not too sure what I will be doing with my Saturday yet, but regardless, I will be pretty busy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Vines for spring

Vine Scarf Vine Scarf

Scarves go quickly, most of the time. This one did, due to the fact that the fancy Bamboo yarn from Be Sweet was lovely to work with. It was not cheap stuff, I bought about a year ago. But as the label says it's "hand dyed and balled by woman in South Africa under a job creation program that has offered opportunity in an economically depressed area with a 75% unemployment rate." Sounds good! I bought it orginally thinking of the evening shrug from purl bee, but I hadn't really thought that through. I could only bring myself to splurge on two balls, and that project probably would've been about twice that. A scarf was more sensible anyway. So I had this in my stash, and it seems so nice and spring/summery, so the yarn was calling to me. I wanted something lacey, and scoured ravelry until I found the right project. I think this was it! It flew off the needles. The pattern is the Strangling Vine Lace Scarf by Nicole Hindes avaliable free here:

Monday, May 11, 2009

South Paw Studios

Oooh sparkly. This week's featured shop on the EtsyTwitter Team's Blog is South Paw Studios. My initial reaction is above, and I think that's somewhat thanks to her lovely photography skills. The sparkliness set against the rustic wood backdrop makes me want to reach out and grab these pieces, and certainly wear something so sparkly! South Paw Studios is offering a 15% discount on your order, with free shipping, details on the team's blog!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Historic Photos of Chicago

Now that it's getting a little warmer there's the possibility of exploring the city a little more. We're situated in the near south/south loop neighborhood, which really gives a sense of different eras of development in Chicago's history. Close to Printer's Row, Motor Row, Chinatown, Downtown, and the Prairie Ave. district. A stroll in any direction is a pretty lovely slice of the past.

So when I was asked if I'd like to review a book of Historic Chicago photos from Turner Publishing, I gladly said yes! It's something I can see myself flipping through before and after walks through any of these historic districts.

I expected the book to mainly be about architecture...probably because of my background, I really hadn't given too much thought to what else it might cover. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of really great pictures of people, including one I find particularly fascinating of mourners viewing Abraham Lincoln's body at the Chicago Courthouse. You can see that image at, but the print in the book is nicer, and there's a neat time lapse effect that starts to give a sense of just how many people went through.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find many pictures from the Chicago fire. I really hadn't seen images of it before, and it was more of an abstract, from the "hot time in the old town tonight" song I remember hearing as a kid, to learning about how it provided opportunities for architects of the era afterward, a whole downtown that had to be rebuilt. But seeing the photos, you really start to realize the scale of the damage that was done. It's similarly engaging (and perhaps somewhat more pleasant) to pour over the images of the Columbian Exposition, another topic I've learned about (and I'm also currently in the middle of Devil in the White City.)

I could go on, but the book covers a lot, ranging from Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr.. There is a very good balance though, effectively personalizing the history with not only images of architecture but also families, rallies, sporting events, prohibition and ticker tape parades. There's a moment in The Limits of Control where a character is discussing her love of old movies, because you can really see how people have changed. It really made me think of this collection of photos, you really get a chance to consider that, see how people went about their day to day business and how the city and the clothing looked so much different. It's really a fascinating resource to have on hand.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Jarmusch & Art

I love Jim Jarmusch movies. We were basically first in line to see his new movie The Limits of Control Friday night (while everyone else was off seeing Star Trek, I'd imagine.) I might mention a few things...We haven't gone to see very many movies the past year. I believe the last thing we saw in a theater was Indiana Jones (fun) and that was way back in Seattle. But seeing a new Jarmusch movie in the theater...these are the kinds of things I will go out of my way for. We found out it was playing at a theater here in Chicago called "pipers alley," which I thought sounded cool and artsy but turned out to be a loews/amc. Though it did feature a very odd small escalator that no one was really using and didn't really need to be there....which in my opinion gave a nice Jarmusch -y feel to the place in spite of itself.

I of course really liked it. Not everyone will, I'm sure, the pacing is slow, and it has even less dialogue than other Jarmusch films, which is saying a lot. As a confused person behind me repeatedly, annoyingly, pointed out more than once "it's sooo repetitive." (by the way i might not recommend starting with this movie if you're not familiar with his other films.) But that was all part of the way Jarmusch carefully crafts his films, and I thought was clearly related to the theme of the movie and gave an odd kind of character development that only happens in his movies.

It was really packed full of stuff to think about. I've seen so many movies where you can't make yourself care about the characters at all...Isaach De Bankolé's "lone man" says so little in this film, yet within a few scenes I was glad to be experiencing the imagery with his character in mind. He was definitely a recognizable Jarmusch character, yet I'm not sure exactly what was done to get him there, but it doesn't matter, it worked for me. And art was prominently featured, with the lone man spending much of his time in Madrid's Renia Sophia (where Picasso's Guernica is housed.) It also tied into the story line in a really lovely way. I spent my morning today googling art, trying to remember who created some of the art work featured and referenced.

I'm actually positive it's going to take a few more viewings and time to let this movie sink in, which makes me really happy. I always have such a sense that I relate to Jarmusch's films...which I tend to attribute to his being from Ohio, orginally...though that's surely a little silly since he left when he was about 17. But regardless of how he got there, I love the appreciation of art, science, taking time to consider these things, landscapes, his fascination with communication and language...and I always adore the way he films car travel. So there you have my completely biased crazy positive review from my favorite director ever. I can't wait until his next movie!

And I will definitely be seeing Star Trek in the theaters before long.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I saw Leonard Cohen!

We may have been way up in the balcony, I couldn't help but wonder how amazing the show must have been from the front (something like $500+/seat) rows, but it was still a great experience. Our first time at the Chicago Theater, which is an interesting theater space. We spent some time before hand discussing how they dust and generally keep it clean, and also counting the sculpted faces all over everything, including the chandeliers.

The show itself was a good 3 hours long without an opening act. Maybe not the greatest thing for Chuck, the night before his final review for studio, but I didn't hear many complaints. Cohen did bring along a slew of musicians though, including his collaborator Sharon Robinson and the duo The Webb Sisters, who were well featured over the course of the evening. I didn't know a lot about Sharon Robinson, and it turns out she wrote one of the great tracks off of Bettye Lavette's I've got my own hell to raise in addition to collaborating with Cohen on "The Future," "Waiting for the Miracle," and "Everybody Knows," among other songs. Her website features several tracks, including her take on Everybody Knows, which is quite different!

It was a great evening. The set decoration was sparse, but I was one of the many things I really loved about the show. Rugs covered the stage floor, which combined with Cohen's comfort on stage and his great soothing voice...It felt quite comfortable, warm and sweet. I'm still contemplating the way the pacing on several of the songs was different, slower, more dramatic in person than on the albums...which I think may lead to the need to own a copy of the live DVD that just came out. Regardless there will be many more listens to his catalog...which is always true, I never seem to get tired of any of it...but I've seen him live! That's really too cool for words.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

F.O. Again, So Soon?

Nob Hill

Well it seems soon, but it's really not so much. This project has been around nearly since the pattern. When I saw Nob Hill over on knitty last year I almost immediately started looking for yarn for it and ordered some from Nordic Mart right away. But after a few tries I gave up on it for a while. I was having trouble keeping track of my increases for some reason. It seems kind of weird now, but I think I was also feeling a little confused about gauge and thought perhaps the yarn looked a little too open in Stockinette stitch, and the color was brighter than I had anticipated. So overall I was just feeling discouraged about it. There was frogging, restarting, frogging again, packing it away for months....

Then in march of this year I pulled it out again. I guess I was determined to make nob hill and to use this yarn since I hadn't really thought up another convincing project for it. So I just went for it, figuring it might not turn out perfectly, but...whatever. That was what this yarn was meant to be for. This time I did the math, adjusted for my slightly off gauge, and ended up feeling completely fine with both the color and how open the stitches were. It's actually a fast project....but once I got to the sleeves I came to a halt again. I did one sleeve wrong, with the cast off showing on the right side, bleh! And I hadn't been careful at all about picking up stitches evenly, so they just looked all weird. I made room for the project in the closet and moved on again...

So when I pulled it out this week, there really wasn't a lot of work to be done. But there was still a lot of knitting angst to face. The sleeves that just won't sit right! Well an episode or so of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency helped me tackle them, making the much more even this time. They are still kind of wonky... After weaving in all the ends I blocked, which helped some. I am hoping they wear in and take on a reasonable shape eventually. Until then, I think I may have figured out what I'm wearing to see the new Star Trek movie! Actually, the photos I just took of this project are convincing me that it's not as sci-fi looking as it seems in my head.

My other issue is that I didn't cast on as many stitches as I probably should have for the collar. I was too worried about the sleeves still and just wanted to be done. But my hair is there, so it may not be too much of an issue. I guess I'm planning on seeing how the sleeves do. If I eventually decide I have to redo them, I might as well consider redoing the collar too....but since that's not the most motivating project, I think I'll avoid it if I can. Meanwhile...I think I'm pretty happy with the finished object overall, and the fact that all this knitting angst has drawn to a close, for now at the very least.

This project and the last one, the shalom cardigan, have seen the use of some buttons Chuck made for me on the schools laser cutter. I'm still trying to figure out a decent way to finish them, a stain, paint or sealant of some kind, but I couldn't really resist adhering them to my projects anyway.

Guess what else? Tonight is the Leonard Cohen concert I've been looking forward to for months! In just a few hours, I can't believe it. It should be great!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Shalom in Photos

I finally got some photos of the Shalom Cardigan I recently finished in action. I've already worn it at least three times, but it wasn't until the third time and the photos that I realized how happy with the project I am overall. Somehow pictures just let you know everything worked out as planned!

Front of Shalom Cardigan Back of Shalom Cardigan

I also found a little scrap busting project which used up a bit of leftover cotton-ease from my leaf cardigan, and then a cabled hat. This didn't take very long at all. Come to think of it, the leaf cardigan started as a result of some left overs from the hooded tunic project. But thanks to this pattern from Persnickety Knitter, my adventures with cotton-ease my have finally come to an end. At least in this lake/blue color way.:

Arrow Headband

And on a very unrelated subject: movies! I found out there's a new Jim Jarmush movie coming in very select locations. Not here, unfortunately. And I haven't been able to find anything about when it might see a wider release so far. But, the stills look great. Meanwhile, I guess the X-men movie about Wolverine did come out today, which is about as far from an art house Jarmush pic as you can get, but nonetheless, it sounds fun, and I've heard good things. We may be visiting a theater near us for the first time since....Indiana Jones? Yeah, I think that's right.