I’m running out…

I’m running out…

of witty phrases to use when I have been AWOL again. My excuse this time is that the last couple of weeks have been very busy – first because the VHC was ill and needed looking after, (all better now), and last week because we had places to go and exhibitions to see. 

The last time I posted, I was whinging about making papier-mâché. I’m feeling a little more positive about it now, so much so that I had another go today.

The cone in front is from last time, painted with coffee. The SKO (strange knitted object) behind is wire with cotton stripes, dipped in paper pulp today. It will probably get painted white at a later date.

I used the leftover paper pulp for this- there’s a shell underneath. I know what I think it looks like, but I’m not saying. You are welcome to form your own opinion.

And this beautiful little example of how to make papier-mâché properly is, of course, not my work but that of Magie Hollingsworth, a treat we bought ourselves from Walford Mill. 

And finally, this is the VHC’s portrait of me. I’m assured that it’s a very good likeness.

Getting stuck in

Getting stuck in

Long time readers of this blog may remember that 2 or 3 years ago, in my search for the perfect seamless fabric vessel, I experimented with papier-mâché. I didn’t persist because 

a) it was difficult to sew into and 

b) the process was messy, and I have low tolerance for mess. (Well, the getting covered in glue type of mess, not the books, needlework and dust over everything type of mess, you understand.)
However, having decided that the hands/gloves, and my brief flirtation with masks, weren’t going anywhere, I decided to have another try with the sticky stuff. It was all down to this lady, especially to the pot you see in the lower left hand corner in the opening sequence, and this lady, who has developed a way of using papier-mâché which is a refinement of the methods I had been using. 

Mistake number 1. Instead of using my tried and true method of painting the glue on the paper as I go, I decided to use the traditional method of soaking the paper in the glue for an hour or so.

Mistake number 2. Tearing the paper into too small pieces.

The result of this was that:

a) the brown paper turned into brown porridge.

b) the tea-bag like paper (not sure what it is, someone gave it to me and they didn’t know either) stayed intact but clung to itself tenaciously. Plus it goes transparent when gluey, and it is difficult to tell translucent paper with glue on it from translucent rubber gloves with glue on them, so I kept trying to pick up my finger.

In both cases I reverted to my old method. and used much bigger pieces of paper. The brown porridge was used up making sculptural lumps in between layers of pasted on paper, because the whole thing was looking pretty lumpy anyway and I decided to make it lumpier.

Mistake number 3. Using a balloon as a mould. Chiefly a mistake because of 

Mistake number 4. Balancing the balloon in a flower pot which was too small. Stupidly I hadn’t realised that the ballon would become top heavy when I added the paper, so the balloon kept falling out of the pot.

Mistake number 5. Not washing the flowerpot before I used it. It has been sitting in the corner of the conservatory for quite some time and has become an insects’ graveyard. The balloon was, of course, very sticky. Need I say more?

Mistake number 6. I covered the table with plastic and newspaper, but not the floor. I wore an overall but didn’t button it all the way down. There was a lot of paste on the table and it began to drip off. I first noticed this when it dripped on my knee. 

It may be a while before I try getting stuck in again.

One thing did work this week though.

Knitted wire and plaster. Of course the knitting is flexible, the plaster comes off if you handle it roughly and I don’t like the shape – but as a first experiment it’s a darn sight better than the papier-mâché!

I’m ambivalent…

about the end of the school holidays. (A feeling I never had when I was teaching. I’ll let you guess how I felt then.) It’s nice to get back into our usual routine but we had such a great summer with the grands, the usual routine may seem a bit boring. 

It does mean that I’ve been able to spend more time with textiles, though.

I’ve been knitting…

a more or less finished glove, which just needs to be hung up. (I’m getting experimental.)

and two less finished gloves which will also be hung up. I think. (They are the same colour, honest.)

But I have been a little distracted from gloves.

One of the prompts from ‘Make Something Every Once in a While’ was to make a mask. I was underwhelmed by the idea, but pulled out a bit of paper, Googled for an adult sized pattern, altered the pattern to make it more original, and made my mask.

Then, of course, I decided it was a bit boring. So I added some bling.

And then I decided to make some more masks. Which meant getting experimental. I fossicked about in the stash, and found several things I’d bought in the past for some purpose long forgotten. (Am I the only one who does this?)

All of these are works in progress. The one on the right is buckram. (I have an awful lot of buckram. I think I was once going to make lampshades.) Moulding it over a plastic mask was tricky and sticky, and I’m not quite sure what to do with it next.

Bottom left is forming felt, which was easier to mould, though that may have been because it’s not a full face mask. However, as I’ve worked on it, it has lost some shaping, so I may have to remould it when I’ve finished.

Top left is washable paper. It’s pretty boring, but as it’s hard to hand stitch into, I may have to machine embroider it ( not my favourite activity) or punch holes in it for some join-the-dots embroidery, as on this other sample.

Lots more experiments needed.

 You may have noticed that there hasn’t been any mention of junk mail books for a while. This is partly due to a shortage of junk mail (hurray!) and partly because after I’d painted the last lot, I left them in a hot conservatory and they stuck together. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I’ve accumulated another collection.

Just to prove…

Just to prove…

that Manor Farm is not the only farm we go to, this handsome gentleman does not live there, but at our favourite farm shop. (We didn’t tell him that we go there to buy beef.)

The grands were rather taken with him, despite calling him a cow. The VHC was particularly impressed with his cow pat capacity, while Babybel was curious about the bits he had that cows don’t. Which led to some interesting questions…

He wasn’t the only handsome creature we met this week.

This is Pickford, and we all got to hold her. I love the patterns of her feathers.

In other parts of the forest, there has been knitting of green cabled objects. This is actually the second one, the previous one had bobbles and eyelets as well. I’m trying to decide whether it needs any embroidery – I think probably not, but I’m not sure. 

I have now moved on to a grey fluffy object, with (deliberate) ladders.

And I have been playing with my food, on the instructions of ‘Make Something Every So Often’.

To be truthful, the prompt was ‘to make something with my dinner’ – so, having had a father who actively  discouraged food playing –  I photographed my lunch. It probably wouldn’t have been as carefully arranged otherwise, but I thought the lovely yellow tomato didn’t need dressing up. Not homegrown, I’m afraid, it came from the Isle of Wight via the farm shop, and tasted as good as it looks.

And as if I didn’t have enough to do, I’ve signed up for the 100 days project, aiming to make 100 vaguely circular arty things  over the next 100 days. I don’t think this one allows for slippage, but it does allow for simpler responses than MSED, so hopefully I can keep it up.

I am good at biting off more than I can chew, aren’t I?

Where to begin?

Where to begin?

This week, Babybel was involved in a dance summer school – which meant finding things to occupy the VHC, which  weren’t too long – to fit into the time between dropping her off and picking her up again – weren’t  too expensive, for obvious reasons – and provided opportunities for granny and grandad to sit down. We succeeded magnificently, although all of us (including Babybel) were completely exhausted by the end.

As the summer school didn’t start till Tuesday, we went to Manor Farm on Monday. Manor Farm now offers tractor rides. This was highly acceptable to all – Babybel enjoyed looking at, feeding and being told about the animals, the VHC enjoyed the animals and the tractor, and granny and grandad enjoyed all of the above, plus sitting down. 

On every other morning, we managed to find a craft activity. (The VHC loves making things.) 

On Tuesday we made buildings.

That’s a chandelier, in case you didn’t recognise it. There was also a light switch.

The VHC provided the designs (he made two), granny and grandad provided the workforce and catering. There was sitting down, but most of it was on the floor. Sitting on the floor is fine, getting up again is more of a problem, but we survived.

On Wednesday we made a stained glass butterfly. 

There was lots of sitting down for this one.

On Thursday we made a ruff. No photos, I’m afraid, but the photographer made up for her oversight in the afternoon, when we made some new friends, Pickford and Harold. 

This was the most expensive outing of the week (if you don’t count the cost of the season ticket for Manor Farm), but it was worth every penny. When the VHC goes silent and just looks, you know he’s having a really good time.

On Friday we made quill pens. All of us. This is grandad’s. Grandad was very restrained in his use of feathers. Why have one when you can have three?

After that we went to Chalkfest. (I think there are traces of ink from trying out the pens on there as well.)

We also managed to fit in lunch at our favourite farm shop, a walk, a duck feed and a play park. 

On Saturday we let mummy and daddy take over, though we did go to the summer school performance, which was very entertaining. 

There has been some knitting. And a lot of TV watching, as you might expect, during which the knitting got quicker and quicker as the tension rose. 

Next week should be much quieter. We have had requests for visits to the little trains, and a trip on a Park and Ride bus. I think we can manage that!

You wait for weeks…

and two posts come along together.

It’s been a better day than I anticipated. I knew it was going to be complicated:

1. Get up early, eat breakfast.

2. Put on washing.

2. Follow husband to garage (in rush hour traffic) when he drops off other car for service.

2. Drive in opposite direction to second favourite supermarket for shopping.

3. Go to favourite gallery and coffee shop for coffee and cheese scones.

4. Come home, put shopping away, deal with washing, make lunch, deal with dirty dishes.

5. Think of something to do while waiting for car to be ready.

6. Drive husband to garage (in rush hour traffic) to pick up car.

7. Come home (in rush hour traffic.) 

8. Let husband deal with evening meal.

The problem with no. 5 was that I didn’t know how long the car was going to take, so it had to be something I could drop at short notice. However the problem solved itself – I went into the workroom to think what to do, and realised I needed to tidy the place before I could think straight. (I’d accumulated a lot of packaging from recent deliveries – good quality brown paper! good quality cardboard! big bubble wrap for the grands to jump on! – but I hadn’t had time to put it away. So I did.)

 And then I used some of it up in a book.

 In the middle of all this, over a cup of tea, I ordered rather a lot of yarn from Airedale Yarns, who now sell the lovely Wool City Wool I used to get from the late lamented Texere. Well, they’re offering free delivery during August, and I haven’t got much feltable wool left, so I had to, didn’t I?

 After that I decided it was probably a good idea to see just how much feltable knitting wool I actually have. So I sorted my stash into feltable wool, unfeltable yarn I might use with the feltable stuff, yarn which may or may not be feltable, the rest, and junk.

 Turns out I have rather more feltable wool than I thought. Oh dear.

 In my own defence, a lot of it is purple, and I don’t see myself as making purple vessels or hands any time soon – although I’m not sure what else I will make with it. You can only have so many purple shawls or scarves…

 I did, however, find a solution for the droopy red hand. With an empty knitting wool cone pushed up her skirt, she is standing up for herself at last. 

 So it turned out to be quite a productive day.





It has been twenty one days…

It has been twenty one days…

I realise, since my last post on this blog. I knew it was a while – but three  weeks?  I know I was watching Le Tour, but that didn’t take up all my time. Put it down to bikes, laziness, a 45th wedding anniversary (ours), laziness, transporting the grands to a daily dance workshop  – and did I mention laziness?

Some knitting was completed. There is the somewhat eccentric thing above, which was my attempt to knit a stand-alone hand with no openings. It sort of works. Will I make another one? Probably, (though not in that colour),  even though I am significantly underwhelmed by it. At the moment I  seem to be alternating  between vessels and hands. When I’m knitting a vessel, I think I should be knitting a hand. (More arty.) When I’m knitting a hand, I think I should be knitting a vessel. (More saleable. I hope.)

One thing I will not be making again is this.

I don’t think I need to say why. I may cut it up and see if I can make anything with the felt, but it’s such a liverish colour.

On the other hand, this is definitely repeatable. I’m a bit unsure about the rim, but the rest of it is just as I wanted it to be.

It’s just a pity I didn’t notice that the window frame needed cleaning before I took the photo. I could go and clean it and retake the photo but – laziness.

The laziness will be continued next week, because we have a week off from grandparenting. I hope to catch up with Este MacLeod’s class and Making Something Every Day, because the week after that one grand has another dance workshop and we have little brother all week. I see a lot of trains and tractors in my future – and, of course, since it’s nearly Olympic time, more cycling.