Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Radio 3. Now there’s a surprise.

Reading: ‘Knitting’ by Anne Bartlett. It’s not a book about knitting, it’s a novel, perhaps best described as chick lit for those of us who are no longer chicks. I would probably not have bought it had I not found it in a charity shop, but I’m enjoying it.

Watching: looking forward to Philippa Perry’s documentary about the Surrealists. Oh, and Vera. Brenda Blethyn is 2 years older than me. Life is sometimes unfair.

Making: lots of stuff, despite many interruptions. I’ve finished my Year of Stitches sampler, and started – or restarted – a quartet I started earlier. More lettering, less decorative. You may detect a political theme.

I’m still knitting Nicky Epstein’s circles – unexciting, but helpful, as I’m learning what works and what doesn’t. 

I’m participating in ‘Creative Sprint’, which is like Make Something Every Day for people like me with no staying power – although I’m hoping it will get me back into that. Only two days so far, but today pushed me out of my comfort zone – a bit. I think that amulet needs a bit of gold wax, but I couldn’t find it.


And yesterday we had an unplanned visit from the grands, and I got creative scientific with them. I dug this out (bought for just such an emergency in the cheap book shop in Romsey, and very good) and we did some science. 


We found out what happened when we mixed baking powder, food colouring and vinegar. (No good photos, it was too exciting to let granny get near it.) 

 


We also explored surface tension,

and our experiment to investigate the growth of salt crystals is underway on a sunny windowsill. I love the way it looks.

Initially Babybel wasn’t interested, then she was just going to watch, and then she took charge, being the one who can read. 

Feeling: up and down. I’ve had what is best described as in intermittent cold all week – it came, went and came back again. It seems to have gone again, but has left me, as colds usually do these days, with an irritating niggly cough. 

Anticipating: just like last week, something approaching a ‘normal week’ – i.e. just child care, shopping, household stuff and playing with bits of string. It didn’t happen then, and it won’t happen this week either. There is no such animal as a normal week.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: Late Junction on Radio 3, thanks to iPlayer.

Reading: I’ve just finished one of Lindsey Davis’s Falco novels, Last Act in Palmyra. Light and entertaining, which is what I need at the moment. And I can tell myself it’s educational because it’s set in Ancient Rome. (That reminds me that I meant to Google Roman water organs.)

Watching: the usual Scandi noir. 

Making: still my 21st century sampler. Better progress this week, although it’s been pretty hectic. One of those weeks when what I need in the evening is not embroidery, where I have to make choices, but knitting I don’t have to think about. If it’s the right sort of knitting.


This is this week’s knitting – before felting in the individual images, post felting top right.  This is the last cream sample, because I’ve finished the cone. Lots of inspiration in this one – two edge treatments from Nicky Epstein, some lettering courtesy of Google, arising from my ideas about samplers, and some cable ties. For some reason, presumably associated with the physics of washing machines, the yarn where the cable ties are stretched rather than shrank. But that just makes them even more dangly. And that top border, which looked nothing pre-felting, now looks very interesting.


I needn’t have worried about finding a use for the brown iCords – when the grands arrived they were immediately identified as snakes, adopted, given eyes and names, and taken off to their new homes.

The blue iCord was used to measure the size of our living room (while I was still knitting it). After I finished it we measured it – 14 metres – washed it, and measured it again – 7 metres. I think we can conclude that tapestry wool is not shrink-resistant. There was a move to adopt that too, but granny resisted it.  

Of course I started another iCord – see above about the need for mindless knitting. It’s the orange one above, in purl rather than stocking stitch, which gave it an organic feel. This was helped by the numerous ends, due to using precut lengths of Twilleys embroidery wool knotted together. I added a strand of a boucle-ish yarn (nylon I think, because of its reluctance to break), just to see what happened. And as I had a few lengths of the wool left over, I added branch iCords. Felted, the whole thing looks like a very long carrot, with flashes of yellow boucle amid the orangey wool.

Feeling: better than last week – encouraged by two good school reports for the grands. One was as expected, the other better than expected. The subject of the latter had been all prepared to counter the report on the grounds that it was all the teacher’s fault and therefore anything she said would be of little value. The ensuing internal struggle was amusing to watch.

Anticipating: a quieter Saturday than last week.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Saturday Classics, presented by Chris Jarvis who has brought his CBeebies presenting style over to Radio 3. Unfortunately.

Reading: still ‘The Lighthouse Stevensons’ by Bella Bathurst. It’s not taking a long time because it’s heavy going, far from it, but because it’s been a busy and stressful week. 

Watching: Scandi-noir, though we also ventured into watching The Brokenwood Mysteries on Drama. Think Midsomer Murders, with a sharper script, plus a detective with a dash of Colombo , a vintage car, and idiosyncratic taste in music. Not great telly, but good if you want something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously.

Making: still my 21st century sampler, although there’s not been much progress due to the aforementioned busy week. We’ve had extra grandparenting and it’s not over yet – we have a sleepover tonight .

The current knitted sample has got no further than it had last week, although this one has been felted at last. Interesting how the polypropylene loops look, although I’m not sure it’s a look I want to use.

P
Some knitting has been done, although it is probably of even less use than the samples. While I was sorting through the printouts I’d accumulated, I came across instructions for a crocheted cord using left over floss. No idea why I kept it as I’m not a keen crocheter, but when I saw it I thought ‘Icord! Tapestry wool!’ Of which I have had rather a lot, mostly inherited, which was not going to be used for embroidery any time soon. So now I have a lot of I cord.


I have felted, baby’s nappy-coloured Icord – I started with the colours I liked least. The thicker one is Anchor, DMC and even some Penelope, the finer one Appletons. 


I have unfelted red Icord, which is now a scarf.

And I have about 12 metres (and growing) of blue-green Icord, which will be felted in due course.
Am I nuts? Undoubtedly. But it is such relaxing, mindless knitting, and it has used up a lot of tapestry wool. Of course, now I have a lot of Icord to use up. I’ve been re-reading Ruth Lee’s ‘Three Dimensional Textiles‘, which has given me some ideas. And, fortuitously, Wensleydale was throwing away some redundant cable, so I may wire it. I’m also thinking about coiling the longer one. Watch this space.
Feeling: very down. It’s been a stressful week, as well as busy. 

Anticipating: an evening of printing off colouring pictures, eating fish fingers and chips, reading stories, and wrestling children into bed. Followed by wine (white) and Scandi (noir) (ish).

 

Currently..

Currently..

Listening: to my Amazon playlist on random – currently George Dyson’s 3rd violin concerto. Dyson is a find from our Radio 3 listening: we liked it so much we bought the CD.

Reading: Still ‘The Lighthouse Stevensons’ by Bella Bathurst. It’s an interesting read, especially in its examination of how the combination of hard work, skill, and luck contributed to the rise of the Stevensons.

Watching: Scandi-noir returns tonight! 

Making: a new Year of Stitches piece. Still fairly open ended, but I’m playing around with a few ideas. The fabric is a bit of home dyeing which has been hanging around for years waiting for its purpose in life to become evident. I’ve chosen toning threads, because I’m interested in the ways stitch can appear and disappear on a similarly coloured background. And, after I had the idea of adding words, I’ve been thinking about samplers. Not the moralising Victorian samplers designed to bore little girls into compliance with endless cross stitch, more the 17thC ones used record stitch and pattern ideas. 

Typical of me to start something that’s just play and then overthink it… 

I’m sampling knitting too, you’ll be amazed to hear, although this one hasn’t got very far yet. 

Feeling: knackered. The ‘little spring tidying’ I mentioned last week has turned into a major clear out. I’m a hoarder of magazine tear sheets, course notes, stuff from the internet etc., but I’ve decided things have got out of hand, and most of it has to go. It’s been surprisingly easy to decide what I no longer have any interest in, and I reckon I’ve cut it down by half. But heaving ring binders around and throwing papers in the bin is surprisingly hard on the back.

Then I looked in my bead stash to find some for the embroidered sampler – and a lot of that has got to go too…

Anticipating: more destashing tomorrow.
.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to ‘Sound of Cinema’ on Radio 3. Not my favourite Radio 3 programme, since I have little interest in the cinema, but it’s OK.
Reading: I’ve just started ‘The Lighthouse Stevensons’ by Bella Bathurst. I find many biographies impenetrable – I get lost in the detail of who, where, what and when – but so far I’m managing to keep up with this one.Watching: not a lot. 

Making: I’ve decided that I will soldier on with the Year of Stitches piece to the end of the month, then start another one, which will be smaller and more preplanned. Picking colours at random, and plonking shapes down with no idea why, doesn’t work for me. 

In knitting I’m still sampling, though I have started some babysitting knitting – a shawl from Ravelry. It’s easier to grab and go on the way out – a ball of yarn, a circular needle and a 4 row pattern which is on the internet if I manage to forget it. Then knit till the yarn runs out and it’s bound to fit someone.


These are the completed samples – there are several ideas there for when I feel like making a resolved piece. I was surprised by how little the holes closed up in the holey one on the left. I’ve also been experimenting with decorative edge treatments from Nicky Epstein’s edging books. 

Feeling: more cheerful. My beloved cherry tree is in flower, which is the signal that spring is on its way. I’ve even been motivated to do a little spring tidying.

Anticipating: a quiet day tomorrow before our usual busy Monday.
.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to a time-shifted session of ‘Late Junction’ from Radio 3. Normally it’s on long past my bedtime – although as last night I didn’t get to sleep till after 4 a.m, I could have listened to it live, had it been on. If you like eclectic music and you haven’t discovered Late Junction, give it a try. Radio 3 doesn’t just do the classics.
Reading: ‘Night’s Cloak’ by E.R. Punshon, on the Kindle app. I’m not really a great fan of ebooks – I much prefer the real thing – but I like to have a few downloaded for ‘no new real books to read’ emergencies. It’s a detective story set during WW2, so you can probably imagine what it’s like. Not quite up to Ian Rankin, Henning Manuel or Graham Hurley.

Watching: a quick glance through Radio Times suggests two programmes we might actually watch next week – both on BBC4, both on art. (Yes, we are very picky.) Thank goodness for Radio 3 and a large collection of CDs. 


Making: the black intermittent Year is Stitches piece is finished and blocked. (The little white blobs are Shoshone.)

What am I going to do with it? Who knows? I wondered about making it into a bag but: 1) I have enough never-used handmade bags to stock a shop, and 2) I don’t have the motivation. I used to love making bags, needle books, pincushions etc, but now I have no interest in them at all. 

The beige one, which gets worked on every day is making slow progress. I don’t like it and I was thinking about calling it finished too, but I’ve decided to soldier on as it’s a good learning experience. 


Another SKS (Strange Knitted Sample) is in progress. Yes, that is lamé fabric knitted in. It shreds if you look at it – the floor is covered with little glittery threads, and I think the strips may disintegrate completely in the washer, which could be interesting. Last week’s SKS’s haven’t yet made it into the washing machine, they should get there tomorrow.

The piece at the top did get washed – it’s in Airedale’s felting wool, which reminds me a bit of a rather restrained Noro, albeit a tad cheaper. I’m tempted to get some more to try some different shapes. It’s great for an easy SKO as the yarn does all the work.

Feeling: a little more cheerful. I’ve been quite productive all day, which often happens after a bad night. Based on past experience, however, tomorrow will be a different story – hence…

Anticipating: an inert day on Sunday before we gear up on Monday for the little guys’ return to school.

.

Currently…

Listening: to ‘The Choir’ on Radio 3.

Reading: just finished ’Dead Line’ by Stella Rimington. Not my usual choice of fiction, but slickly written and interesting. I assume it gives a realistic picture of the work of the security services. After all, she ought to know.

Watching: Andrew Graham Dixon on French art, plus the rerun of Alastair Sooke on Egyptian art. The latter makes me want to go back to Egypt.


Making: still sampling SKOs. This one is just out of the washing machine – it will probably get some more stitch before I consider it finished. Some of the ideas worked well, so there may be one or two finished pieces in the pipe line. 

Still embroidering too – I am perfecting improving my shisha sewing skills on the black one. It might be nearly finished.

 

I have also been making some book(let)s. I bought this in a charity shop a few weeks ago: the title might suggest it’s about origami, but  it’s actually instructions for lots and lots of variations on folded cards, folders and booklets. So of course I had to make some.

These are all really variations on the same theme – an oversized cover, incorporating flaps which fold round the pages in various ways. In two of them, I sewed down the edges of one of the flaps, to make a pocket.

Feeling: still pessimistic. Last week was notable for the number of hiccups, hassles and glitches which occurred, which didn’t help. Next week is half term, but their mum and dad will have the little guys for most of the week, which is good for them but a bit disappointing for us. But as a consequence…

Anticipating: a restful week.

.