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.

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?

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.

It has been a brilliant week…

for fans of British cycling. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m not altogether surprised, given the acres of newsprint expended on sports in which we lose, as compared with those in which we win. Five stage wins in eight days,and three of the four jerseys held by Brits. (Assuming Cav hasn’t been eliminated for turning up late at the finish.)

This of course has meant that if I can’t do something while sitting in front of the telly, it’s probably not going to get done. And as I pointed out in the last post, I have set myself up with a lot of activities which I now have much less time for. We woke up early this morning, so I had time to get up to date with Creative Leap and ICAD, which I’ve managed. Sort of.


 Creative Leap faces and fish.

Looking at these, the scanner needs a wipe over. Housework? No time for housework!

I had a bit of time to fill before my afternoon adrenalin rush. Perhaps I could fit in a MSED prompt? Mmm – the next one was to make something with yarn or thread. But what? When you’ve tried almost all thready/yarny activities, what to do when you want to try something different? 

I remembered that somewhere I had some instructions for making a yarn bracelet, and some tiny samples of rather nice alpaca yarn. Found the latter but not the former. But Google is my friend, and I found a picture of an interesting looking necklace – a multicoloured yarn tube on a cord. OK, it was felted but not knitted, but I could knit a tube and run a cord through it. And, I could work on it while watching todays’s stage.


This is how much i-cord you can knit in three hours of increasingly entertaining cycling.* Rather more than I’d expected. 

The current plan, when I’ve used up the remaining 1.5 samples, is to darn in the yarn ends, tie the tube ends together, and see how many times it will go round my neck. It’s made a nice change from the boring oversized pixie hat I am officially working on. **


It was inspired by wooden sculptures by someone whose name I have forgotten. Imagine person- sized pencils with shiny, mottled surfaces.  (That’s the sculpture, not the sculptor. I don’t know what he looks like.) Wensleydale liked them more than I did, but I did think it would be interesting to knit one. (The result may be interesting, the knitting is not.)

* This will not be felted. Probably.

* * This will definitely be felted. But it will not be person-sized. It will be exactly as big as that remaining ball of wool will let it be. Just like the i-cord necklace.

Making something every day – or three things over a month or so.

Making something every day – or three things over a month or so.

(Warning. Contains a photograph which may upset those of a sensitive disposition.) (It’s the third one below, in case you want to scroll down now  avoid it.)

The  photo above is of my response to the ‘MSED’ prompt to make something under water. I didn’t quite manage that, but it was quite wet. I was going to add bases, but the stitching needed to attach them looked clumsy, so they are baseless. Trouble is, I think there should be three of them…

Another prompt was to make something old new again – which felt a bit beyond my capabilities, I’m not into furniture restoration, although I do have some that needs it. In the end I carried out a long postponed repair on a (moth?) damaged shawl I live in at home in the winter – er  – when it’s cold – er – all the year round. However ‘making it look new again’ would have involved reknitting about half of it, so I settled for darning the holes and crocheting up the damaged edge. And because I didn’t have any of the original wool left, it had to be different – but as I may have said before, I like the concept of visible repairs which become part of the story of the object. 

So it doesn’t really look new again, but its life has been extended.


The third prompt was to make something with junk mail. Well that was a no-brainer.


My resolution to try not to do the obvious went out of the window, especially in view of the card I’ve used for the cover.and I made a junk mail book. In my own defence, this junk mail was painted with emulsion and Brusho, not gesso and watercolour, and it has a more elaborate binding. So it’s not identical to what I’ve made before. Just pretty similar. 

Long time readers of this blog will know that this is the (only) time of year when I spend 3 weeks glued to afternoon television. No, not tennis. And, no, definitely not football. (Is there an emoji for a shudder?) I was going to write that this sport doesn’t involve balls but…


Yes, that’s the photo. OK, these gentlemen are track cyclists, but you get the picture.

Yes, Wensleydale and I are glued to the TV watching the Tour de France. (Go Cav!) which can take up hours every day and cut down creative time. Even knitting gets put on hold when an exciting bit of racing coincides with a complex bit of pattern.

Now, in addition to ‘Making Something Every Day’ (or week) I also committed myself to doing ICAD again this year. So that’s two daily commitments for at least the next three weeks.

So of course I had to sign up for something else as well – Este MacLeod’s  ‘Creative Leap’, which I’d read a good review of on someone’s blog. We’re up to C (it’s alphabetical), I’m already behind, and I’ve just realised I’ve got the wrong sort of carbon paper for today’s activity. But I’m enjoying it, even if I’m destined to get even further behind.

So here are some Creative Leaping bugs.


Wonder if dressmaker’s Carbon will work? – I’ve got plenty of that I’ll never use for dress making.
P.S. It did. So if you are, like me, an ex-dressmaker, left over carbon paper works very well for monoprinting. Even when it’s very, very, very old. Check out the price…


A Bad Week

The entire country has been infected with a mystery disease. Half the population think it is worth while giving ourselves this disease, as it will cure another one they think we have, despite having no idea what the effects of the mystery disease will be. The rest of us think the mystery disease is likely to have life changing effects, even if it isn’t terminal, and dread the consequences.

The person responsible for exposing us all has washed his hands of it all, and we’re left in the hands of a group of lying buffoons who, despite having encouraged us to expose ourselves to the illness, seem to have made no plans on how to deal with it.

And meantime, those who chose to get us all infected, and who, in practice, are more likely to suffer from the consequences, are telling the rest us to suck it up and stop moaning. Which I, for one, find very irritating.

I think we may have been cursed by the Chinese (‘may you live in interesting times’) – who are, of course, most likely to profit from all this. Wait till we are economically at death’s door, and then buy up the country.

So, to more positive things.

image

A completed embroidery of 4 red circles.There are 4 there – see the back for proof – but they are well camouflaged. The background is basketweave tent stitch, the circles are in conventional tent stitch, half cross, basketweave worked in the opposite direction to the background, and a thicker thread, which in real life is more visible than it seems in the photo.

I have ideas for following this up, but no time…

 

 

 

I have four finished felted samples – but only one photo, because two of them are boring, and the third photo came out blurry. I’ll try to remember to have another go before I post again.

 

image

This one is blue cotton tucks of various sizes on a white wool background, and white wool tucks on a blue cotton background. The cotton came from a charity shop, and as it is packed in ounce balls, must be (please wait while I Google) at least 40 years old.

(Interesting Google article on metrication – did you know that the only countries which don’t use the metric system are the US, Liberia and Burma? And that before metrication we had over 40 sizes of ‘threaded fastenings ‘ [nuts and bolts to you and me] which were replaced by just 7 metric sizes?)

But I digress.

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So here are two ‘Make Something Every Day’ (MSED – I’m getting bored typing all that) prompts: make something under water, and make something with staples – somewhat freely interpreted.

The bottles have been wrapped in something called forming felt,  which I bought ages ago for no reason that I can remember. You can shape it by damping it and forming it over a mould, but I soaked it in a bucket for the underwater bit. Then I wrapped it round a couple of bottles, and dipped them in Brusho, so the bottoms were underwater – well, underBrusho. When the colour had soaked in, I turned them upside down for the trickle down effect. When it’s all dried (24 hours and counting) I shall make bases from the flat bits and add some stitch.

The unexciting index card serves 4 purposes in one – two prompts and two of my current obsessions. There’s the MSED prompt to use staples, and one of this weeks ICAD prompts, ‘magenta’. The obsessions are tone on tone, and circles – the shapes are (very) vaguely circular. I’m practicing economy for the future, as I think I may need it.