'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Saturday, 21 November 2015

I thought it was only a couple of weeks...

since I last posted, but it looks like it's nearly three. I have a bit of an excuse - it was Babybel's birthday, and she had her party on Sunday, so we had to be there. Facebook found a photo I posted 8 years ago of a very new, very tiny dark haired scrap with tubes in her hand [she and her mum had a rough time of it). She's still got lovely hair, although it's not quite as dark, but as she's grown and I've shrunk, she's nearly up to my shoulders now. (We won't talk about how much older I look...)

Knitting has continued. Glove number 2, the 3 metre\2 kilo glove is finished, even down to the 'repairs'.

The only problem is that the cane and chunk of wood system I invented to hold the others up just doesn't work for this one.  The cane bends and the glove falls over - which it is why it is leaning on the hedge, peering at the neighbours.

However, in my last tutorial, I was asked why I didn't want to hang them up - and, although I once had a reason, I couldn't remember what it was... So my current thinking is to have some standing up, and some hanging down. It was suggested that they had something 'to represent what's inside them' underneath. which is puzzling me a bit, I have to admit. As is how to hang a 3 metre glove from 2.5 metre walls.

I have also finished number 3, a little smaller at 2.6 metres but no lighter. Tomorrow I hope to experiment with a leftover of copper piping, which hopefully will not bend, and possibly two lumps of wood glued together, to see if those will hold them up.

The tutor, who was a little judgemental about my support system, suggested I tried expanding foam. Which could be - er - interesting. I've bought a small can of the stuff you use to fill holes in walls ( I think he meant cavity wall insulation), and I'm waiting for a suitable day to go out in the garden in my hazmat gear and experiment. If it ever stops raining or blowing a gale. I've also been looking at bean bag filling, but only for the smaller ones.

I have started a fourth glove, which I neglected to photograph before it got too dark, so I am on track for five by Christmas, which was my aim. However another of the tutor's comments as that the gloves were a little formulaic (he is a master of tact). I explained the time pressures (he's not a knitter), so he suggested I put something in the sketch book to show that I had had other ideas. 

So here it is. (There are a few more, but they haven't had their photos taken yet). After my misguided attempt to sew a glove properly, in the summer, I thought about making some without bothering about the bits which go on the insides of the fingers and which drove the glove maker to tears. It means the glove is unwearable, but when did that ever stop me? 

In case it isn't clear, this is a white polyester lace glove on a sheet of paper I sprayed with ink through another piece of lace - because white on white is a little difficult to see. I have plans to set fire to the glove - you know how I like setting fire to things...

I wasn't too sorry to be told to do something a bit different, as I found the two big gloves hard work, and decided my hands needed a rest. The fabric gloves are machine sewn, but I've been doing some hand embroidery too. Impulsively, I mail ordered Claire Wellesley-Smith's book 'Slow Stitch'  because I liked the cover, and the concept. The sections on the underlying philosophy and on natural dyeing are not my cup of tea, but the emphasis on minimalist stitching, and the examples of other's work are very inspiring. So much so that I have started a stitch journal. 

Hands, of course, wonky, of course, and fabric and threads from the stash, of course: making a dent in that is part of the point. Not sure what this fabric is, but once I'd got started it reminded me of the Bayeux Tapestry, and I decided to add columns, and borders of phrases about hands.

I had intended to start with a few variations of running stitch and then move on, but I made the mistake of looking at Constance Howard's Book of Stitches (and I didn't pay  anywhere near that much for my copy!).  She includes 7 pages of photographs of variations of running stitch, all inspiring, and refers the reader to Jaqueline Enthoven's 'Stitches of Creative Embroidery', which I just happen to own as well, and where there are several more.  I think I'll be doing running stitch for a while yet.

This is the second section ( pattern darning and Holbein stitch) which will be joined on the first when it's finished. Probably with running stitches.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Works in Progress

This one is actually not a WIP, it's finished. It is a fractal Christmas decoration, follow the link for the pattern. As I'm still learning how to defeat use my new printer, I didn't manage to print out the pattern as bright as the original. And I think if I did it again, I might use t-shirt transfer paper rather than printable fabric, which was a bit thin.
















Of course, in my case, it's an Advent decoration - the 23rd I've made. It's actually the one that's due in November, so I'm ahead of myself. Don't be impressed, it was procrastination. I was giving myself a break from this.


The latest mega glove, with the last of my wool from Texere. (Sniff, sniff.) The pattern (yes, there is one) is a cellular automaton, which is superficially random, but has an underlying logic.

The glove weighs about 600 gm a at the moment. and it's getting lumpy to turn round, so I need to take breaks, don't I?



Mega glove no.1 (all 3 metres/2kilos of it) is finished, but drying. Well, probably finished. It has (deliberately) dropped stitches in it, and after having a discussion with Wensleydale about the veins on the backs of our hands (as you do) I'm wondering about weaving or back stitching into some of them for veiny marks.

Another break was spent making these, as per the suggestion of the visiting tutor from Uni, Christine Mills. Now I have to make them their own white cube gallery space to see what they may look like in the Degree Show. Just imagine them 3 metres high, not 15 cm...


Scary words, Cheshire, only 5 months away, get knitting!


Saturday, 17 October 2015

I'm very confused...

so no change there. The reason I'm confused this time is that according to BlogPadPro, I haven't posted for a month, but according to Blogger, it's 'only' two weeks. Just hope Blogger is right, and that you can see the all the posts I can see on line!
I know I've got lax about posting, but not much exciting seems to be happening round here. Enjoyable, most of it, but not exciting, which may or may not be a good thing! We grandparent, we do the chores, I go to Uni, I knit - that's about it. The highlights of this week have been having my hair cut (relaxing) and going to the bank to rationalise our ISAs (exhausting).  The big trauma of the week, was that Texere, the company I was planning on buying all my wool for Uni from, has gone into liquidation. Fortunately my last order arrived, but where will I go for industrial quantities of rug wool now? I've used them for years, and will miss them.   But - keep calm and carry on knitting. This...
                                now looks like this. All 2.75 metres and 1.6 kilos of it.  
I've been thinking that it's not growing very quickly, but then I realised it's half as long again as the first one and it's taken less time.   (Anyone else hate the way IOS autocorrect cannot cope with apostrophes? All those 'it's' in the sentence had to be retyped because autocorrect doesn't realise that the 's' belongs to the 'it', not the next word. Drives me nuts!)                                     I've (did it again!) taken some time out to make October's Advent decorations. These were quicker and simpler to make than I expected, but the cutting was nerve wracking - I'm (got it right that time!) running out of felt. Serves me right for choosing such an odd colour scheme.
Just a few more and I may have enough ready in time for Christmas. And I bought our Christmas cake yesterday too. After years of making our own, we've realised that we are the only people in the family who eat Christmas cake, and we don't like it that much. So I bought a miniature one from Oxfam, which will give us as much as we want and benefit a good cause as well. Just the rest of the Christmas shopping to go now...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Where have I been and what have I been doing?

1. Nowhere I don't usually go.

2.  a) Knitting. (Now there's a surprise.) What may or may not be the first glove of the degree show is finished - apart from getting a proper armature and support.

It's in double knit, and as it has taken me over four weeks to make it, and it's not really big enough (I ran out of wool), I have moved up to something a tad thicker.

Berber rug wool from Texere, on the biggest double points I own.

Of course a week after I bought it, Texere had a half price sale. �� So I ordered some more: 10 cones instead of 5.��

b) Chasing up John Lewis to find out whether or not they'd delivered my new printer for click and collection (Yes! I had to chase up JL!), then collecting said printer and setting it up. The reviews on the website said it was easy to set up. They lied. It probably was easy if the disc in the box had the right software on it. Mine didn't. I ended up having to download the drivers, and even now it won't work wirelessly, but I can live with that.

It prints quite well, but it will be better when I can work out how to get it not to print in colour all the time. It may be time to invite the family techies round for fish and chips and technical advice. Again. 

On the other hand I downloaded El Capitan all by myself, twice, with only the minimum of swearing.

c) Adding more plaster to this.

 I gave up trickling diluted plaster down in a delicate manner, and plastered it on with a (very small) trowel. It's lumpy and cracking and I love it.

d) Sat in a traffic jam for 2 hours getting to Uni. Fortunately I allow time for traffic, so I still managed to get there in time to have some coffee and get to my lecture. Got to get your priorities right.

e) Being ill. I had a recurrence of the ear infection I had a few years ago. This meant that when I moved, the earth moved too, only more so, and it didn't stop moving when I did. Although Winchester does have a history of earthquakes, this was a very localised one, so I did something I've never done before and made an urgent appointment at the surgery. After a very thorough examination by a nurse paractitioner, my own diagnosis was confirmed and I came out with a prescription, and a flu injection as well. Not to treat the ear infection, but because it was a good idea. Just hope it's more effective than last years. 

I am feeling much better - still some problems with balancing, but the world is more stable. 

f) Making and eating cake. (You can tell how much better I am!) The little guys and their mum and dad held a Macmillan Coffee morning today, so I contributed a lemon cake and ate my fair share as well.

Next week is more knitting, less cake, less sitting in traffic jams (I hope) and as little IT as I can manage.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Technology? The good, the bad and the ugly

It all started a couple of weeks ago when Big Mac starring ticking. Yes, ticking. A bit worrying, but I was fairly sure it hadn't turned into a bomb. Unplugging and restarting it led to the return of the tick, and a white screen with an image of a grey file, and a flashing question mark. Further access was denied.
Time for a spot of Googling. (Is it better to have two or more means of accessing information technology, so you can Google problems with one using the other, or to have none at all? Discuss.)
Google produced a number of ways to tackle the problem, all of which:
1. Were incomprehensible and/or scary
2. Involved being able to get beyond the white screen of death, which I couldn't
Further Googling suggested that it was almost certainly a dead hard drive.
I thought briefly of consulting the family techies, but decided that if the back was going to have to come off it, I preferred a professional. But my heart quailed at the thought of lugging a heavy screen come computer from the car park, up an escalator and across a shopping mall to my nearest Apple shop. 
Was there an alternative! Back to Google...
Hurrah! An Apple repair company called Stormfront had a more accessible branch. Double hurrah, when we got there, there was a parking space right outside. Triple hurrah, their service was excellent. To cut a long story short, I knew before I left the shop that the hard drive was not dead, merely sleeping, that they would wake it up rebuild it, (don't ask me what this means, -  and even more, please don't tell me) and that it would cost me all of £25. And they messaged me about 4 hours later to say it was ready. I've got it home and it's working!
Unfortunately the printer isn't.
This is not the A3 Canon I bought recently, fortunately, but the cheap as chips HP all in one, which has probably lasted as long as the other cheap as chips HP all in ones we've had. I.e. not long. They both decided only to print when they felt like it (’Oh, I don't like that paper! It's too thick, too thin, too shiny, not HP paper, not the right colour...'). This one has decided that it doesn't want to print at all, refusing to recognise any of our computers or tablets, either wireless or plugged in. (It's not the cable, I checked.) It will still copy, which is nice of it, but of limited use. 
Unfortunately the Canon is not an all in one, and I think that repairing a £40+ machine is unlikely to be an economic prospect - so hey ho, hey ho, all in one shopping we will go.
All of this meant that the morning I meant to spend pouring runny plaster over a sample glove - as you do - turned into a morning of swearing and hair tearing. I got plastered this afternoon instead.
On the up side, I haven't had any problems downloading IOS9 - yet.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

One of those weeks

It's been a week which has been mundane, exhausting, hectic, nerve wracking, peaceful and frustrating in almost equal parts. Mundane because the little guys went back to school, but nerve wracking, for adults at least, because, hard as I find it to believe, they have both moved on a stage: the VHC is started big school, his big sister the Juniors. Both seem to have coped with the change, but there have been a few hiccups, and they have been very tired.
Hectic and exhausting because we had the little guys here for a sleepover, followed by babysitting for them at their house the following night. It might have been easier to have a two night sleepover, but mum and dad wanted to see them in the interim, which meant we got a brief break.
Peaceful when I found time to sit down and not only finish my August Advent bough decorations (the ones I cut out a month ago) but all to make September's as well. You will note that if you choose untraditional colours for your decorations, you end up with blue mistletoe.

And I spent a morning gossiping with my friend N, who had some very positive and helpful things to suggest about my uni work, followed by an afternoon at the hairdressers.
And frustrating, because having received an assurance from the charity shop that someone would contact me about the bags of books - no-one did. Foolishly I didn't check they had the right phone number, so I will have to chase them up again.
And finally - Wensleydale just went down to the bottle bank with an embarrassing number of bottles, to find the whole area roped off for cycling proficiency testing. So now we have bags of books in the hall, and boxes of bottles in the kitchen.
Tomorrow granny goes back to school, and that is definitely nerve-wracking.