Currently…

Currently…

Listening to: not a lot. 

Reading: Anita Shreve’s, ‘The Lives of Stella Bain’. Another charity shop purchase, because I always enjoy Shreve’s work, and this is no exception.

Watching: the World Track Cycling Championship, coming on Wednesday to a T.V. near you. Provided you are in the U.K.

Making: progress has slowed a little for various reasons, but I’m still knitting and embroidering. 

I’ve finished the 4 small Year of Stitches pieces above, just need to mount them now. I’ve started another piece, but so far it consists of a square of couching on a base of tapestry canvas, although I have coloured, Bondawebbed and stamped the canvas before starting the stitch. 

I’ve got on to the more complex patterns in ‘Knitting Circles’ now, which require more thought. It may seem odd to want to add a patterned base to an SKO when it will be hidden, but I like the idea of something which is hidden in plain sight. 

I’m still Creatively Sprinting, although I’m finding that I want to make more elaborate pieces than I really have time for. Yesterday’s prompt was ‘something sticky’: I decided to try a technique I’ve read about but never done. I layered cling film (well, it’s sort of sticky) with grated crayons, sequins, scraps of tissue paper and snippets of threads and ironed it. With too hot an iron initially. Then, when I’d rectified that, it told me it needed a focal point, so I added a free motion embroidered tree. Then it told me it wanted to be on a book cover, so I had to cover some heavy Lutradur with fabric and make a little sketchbook. After all that the house smells of melted crayons, I have a headache, and I’m a day behind with Creative Sprint. And the grands are on their way.


Now I’ve listed what I’ve done, I think perhaps progress hasn’t slowed much – it just feels as if it has.

Feeling: it’s been a bad week – something has happened which was anticipated but still sad, and which will mean major changes to our routine. So I’m feeling hopeful that it will all turn out all right in the end, but anxious about the short term. 

Anticipating: as a result, there will be no more ‘normal weeks’ for the foreseeable future. Just waiting to see what else fate has in store for us.

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: to Saturday Classics on – you guessed it – Radio 3. Lots of recordings by Toscanini, for a pleasantly old style afternoon.

Reading: ‘Practical Basketry Techniques’ by Stella Harding and Shane Waltener – because I’m converting the 7 metre iCord into a coiled pot – but slowly, because it’s hard on my arthritic hands.

Watching: not Scandi noir tonight, we’re a bit underwhelmed by this one. We’ve decided that 90 minutes of Paula Rego on BBC2 is more to our taste.

Making: still sampling and samplering. I’m working my way though Nicky Epstein’s ‘Knitting in Circles’, trying out different methods of making bases. Not very exciting to photograph, as they all look similar, apart from differences in the pattern of increases/decreases. And the green wool I’ve used for the borders shrinks more than the blue, so they curl up a bit.


The Year of Stitches sampler has made good progress – I think the end is in sight. I’m much happier with this one than the first. 


Less happy about this morning’s experiments with alcohol inks – one of those things I bought because they were fashionable and then didn’t quite know what to do with. I’d read somewhere that you can marble with them if you float them in water, so I tried it. And you can’t. (Well, I can’t. More skilful hands that mine may be able to.) I ended up with some yucky splodges on various bits of plastic, which began to flake off as they dried.  

I have used the inks successfully by smooshing them on plastic with bits of felt, but I wasn’t excited by the results, so I’ve added them to the long list of things which aren’t my cup of tea and put what’s left in the bin. 

Feeling: quite cheerful – which may be because the sun is shining.

Anticipating: something approaching a ‘normal week’ – i.e. just child care, shopping, household stuff and playing with bits of string. Bet it doesn’t happen

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.
.