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

Dorothy Rowe

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Week 1: the journey begins



It has been a busy week, what with my first two days at Uni, two days grandparenting, 1 day fitting in all the boring appointments we had had to postpone because of the disruptions to our routine over the summer, and a weekend spent trying to sort out what I need for next week.


It has, however, been a very good week for sleeping.  I am tempting fate by saying this, but  the combination of having to get up at not quite silly o'clock most days of the week, plus long drives and a certain amount of uncertainty related stress, has (temporarily?) banished insomnia.


The down side is that I've been so tired that I haven't done much creative stuff, not even at Uni. I registered, got a parking permit, went to an introductory session, a lecture and a tutorial, sorted out and cleaned up my little corner of the art block, and panicked about what I was actually going to do. The tutorial, and sitting down and going through all my scrappy little notes of ideas, has helped with that. A bit.


Having told my tutor I was going to knit trees, I decided I'd better get started on a trial one.


Five hundred grammes of wool-cotton blend I happened to have lying about, a 4mm circular needle, and 100 stitches. In 5 hours I managed 10cm. At that stage  I was planning on 2 metre trees, which at that rate would take me 100 hours. Since then Wensleydale has found an old  3 metre carpet roll in the loft, and 3 metres looks good. Er - 150 hours.


This suggests that, assuming I don't change my mind completely, I need to

1. make the trees smaller

2. machine knit them

3. use a heavier weight yarn

4. or any combination of the above.

Of course, I gave away my last knitting machine and my associated books over the summer. I asked if there was one at Uni - no - but the next day they were offered two, and as I'd asked... Serendipity or what?


Before I can really get cracking with Uni knitting, I need to finish the knitting I started before I started before, plus the embroidery for the Visual Marks exhibition. I was hoping to crack on with the VM stuff this afternoon, but the soldering iron was playing up. I eventually realised that the tip was coming unscrewed. I managed to resist the temptation to rescrew it with my fingers, but waiting for it to cool down took a large chunk out of the afternoon. (As did watching the final stage of the Tour of Britain, but we won't talk about that...) However the last major piece is more than half done - I shall be glad when it is out of the way.


I also have a pair of strange socks on the needles. Strange, because they were going to be grey and blue, until I realised I didn't have enogh grey, so they became grey, blue and variegated.


The shawl is  on hold because I don't understand the instructions for the lace edging, and I need to find some I do understand.




















No book of the week this week, I'm afraid. I had a couple of ideas, but no time. The closest I got was putting a cover on the educational year diary I had to buy - I can't be doing with the electronic versions, I need to be able to turn pages and add notes. The cover was definitely too naff for an art student, so I had to cover it with a bit of left-over Cas Holmes inspired fabric. 





















While I was stationery buying I went into Staples to buy some paper for a ring binder - and came out with this. Plus planner pages (I decided to by-pass my own system), two sorts of paper, dividers etc. Fortunately I already had some of the big binding rings so I could expand it. Unfortunately this was before my NUS card arrived, so I didn't get the student discount. 


I like it because it is small, if not slim, (bit like its owner), I  can move pages around, and with the dividers I can, I hope, use it for almost everything without getting confused. I could probably have found a diary insert as well, but I don't think there's room. 





Sunday, 7 September 2014

The excitement is building - or do I mean panic?

The highlight of the week was my visit to the Mature Students - our visit to Finkley Down on Friday, closely followed by the Mature Students' Welcome Event at Uni. Both were informative and well organised, but only one included tractors. The clincher, I'm sure you'll agree.


I have another, subject-based visit to Uni on Monday, when I hope to get a timetable, and some idea what I'm doing - although the latter may never happen.


Those were the highlights of what has been a busy if mostly uncreative week. Fortunately I've been participating in Myfanwy Hart's 'Createaday' which involves a series of short daily prompts, building up so that the results are greater than the sum of the parts. I've managed to make a book for it, and keep up with this week's prompts. That, together with a little shawl knitting and a bit of embroidery makes me feel I have achieved something.











Although part of me is panic stricken about what I've got myself into, part of me can't wait. We had fun with the little guys over the summmer, but I think we are all looking forward to settling into term time routines, despite someone not believing I'm going.


Granny: I'm going to school soon, just like you.

VHC: Noooooh!

Granny: Yes I am. It's a school for grownups called University.

VHC: Noooooh! Grownups don't go to school. School is for children.


So that settles it!


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Living Dangerously.



In my extensive stash I have several rolls of something, bought from a floristry supplier who used to come to college. (She had lots of interesting things: I think she sold more to the embroiderers than she did to the florists.) 


When I bought it, I may have had some idea of what I was going to do with it, but I suspect I just liked the pretty colours. I used some when I was being repetitious last summer, and found out that you can iron it and cut it with a soldering iron: it is non-woven and holey, and from its texture, I suspect it of being lightweight Lutradur.


In an attempt to use it up, I decided to try printing on it. Dangerous! What if it melts? I didn't mention this possibility to Wensleydale, lest he suspect me of deliberately sabotaging the $^<%#>€}<\> HP all-in-one which I hate, in order to justify buying something else. (Would I do something like that? Of course not. Well, not so soon after buying a new car...)


I remembered I had bought Marion Barnett and Dijanne Cervaal's publication on Lutradur, and went and found it, more easily than I expected. From this I learned that:

1. In order not to choke the printer it is a good idea to back the finer stuff with freezer paper, 

2. As the ink tends to come off, it is a good idea to use a pre-coat. (Fortunately I had come across the remains of a bottle of clear Inkaid the other day, while looking for something else. I also found some PrintAbility, so I thought I'd try a comparison and use up some more stash.)

3. The Spunart website suggests only printing in black - just like all those transparencies I've been doing.


To cut a rambling story short:

1. Did I wreck the printer? No.

2. Did the prints come out OK? Yes.

3. Is it Lutradur? Who knows.

4. Which was better, Inkaid or PrintAbility? Who knows: I forgot to make a note of which was which. 

5. Will I do it again? Yes, but not with the Lutradurish material, as I would prefer white to the the pretty colours I have. So I have ordered some of the real stuff from Spunart. I'm thinking tranparencies over Lutradur. Whoops, stash extension.

6. Have I managed to use up significant amounts of the Lutradurish material, Inkaid, PrintAbility, or freezer paper? No, nothing but printer ink.


What did I learn?

1. Printing on draft mode worked fine.

2. The freezer paper looks great, but unfortunately it tends to smear, even when sprayed with fixative.

3. There are differences between the two pre-coats: one lets less ink through, sticks the Lutradurish material more firmly to the freezer paper, and makes the print stiffer but shinier (more on the back than the front). More experiments needed, with careful note taking.


On other fronts:

1. There has been some knitting - the boring but good for subtitle-reading body of the shawl before I get to the exciting but needing concentration lace border.
















2. There has been some embroidery - the framework of my latest Visual Marks/Manor Farm piece. (The dots are where the first flowers will go.)














3. A couple of books. I added transparencies to the recycled card book I made a while ago, and made a quick index card book for the latest Daisy Yellow challenge. They should have been ATC’s, but I found these small index cards in a drawer, so decided to use them inste









4. We have had exciting outings, to Manor Farm again, by special request, and to the  Hythe Ferry, which we have only just discovered. If you wish to entertain a transport mad small person, it cannot be beat. Narrow gauge train ride? Yes, times two. Boat trip? Yes, times two. Huge ships to look at, which are loading and unloading cars, tractors and diggers? Yes, times two. An icecream while you watch the Isle of Wight catamaran sail in and out? Yes, but only one, unfortunately. Wensleydale suggested that next time - and I'm sure there will be a next time - we can make it nearly perfect by getting the bus between the ferry terminal and Southampton. Times two.


Next week should be marginally quieter as the little guys go back to school, but I have an invitation to the Mature Students' Welcome Event at Uni. It's beginning to get scary...


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Another busy week.


So busy that although I know whose company we were in, I just had to check with Wensleydale what we did this week rather than last. We had a VIB (very important birthday) on Sunday, when the birthday boy received a variety of trains, construction vehicles and tractors. Bit of a theme there, you might think. 


Since then we have been to Basingstoke several times - more times in one week, I think, as I have been in the rest of my life. One was the result of a request to go to Milestones (more vehicles), two were in connection with a VEP (very expensive purchase) (another vehicle). We've managed with one car for all of this century, but the ageing of Honda number three (he had two predecessors) plus the demands of going down to Chichester three times a week, led to the purchase of Honda number 4. We are now feeling rather poorer, but at least we keep Honda in business. (Except that Honda 3 is 11 years old and we would have kept Honda 1 more than 7 years if he hadn't lost an argument with a truck. Fortunately he was the only one that got hurt.) (Honda 3 was sold when we decided we could manage with one car.)


We also went to Mottisfont, where we didn't see much of the children's illustrators exhibition, we were too busy climbing about in the new play area (big wooden things) and in the water play area.  (Get wet! Dam a stream! Get wet! Pump up water! Did I mention getting wet?) Strongly recommended to adventurous children of all ages, but do what we didn't (because we didn't know it was there) and take a towel and a change of clothes.


They loved the fish, too, both the real ones and these.



There has been some needlework. Socks have been finished 















and, for a change, and possibly a gift if it works out, a shawl has been started. Many, many times - I lost count after 8. It is not that it is a particularly difficult cast on, but last night I was tired, due to the stresses of driving back from Basingstoke in an unfamiliar car on the Friday before a bank holiday. Fortunately we know how to avoid the worst bit of the M3!


I had a few more goes this morning and eventually got it right, after I'd worked out that I needed to abandon my preconceptions that for a shawl you increase on every other row at two, or at most four, points. In this pattern there are 6 increase points but you don't increase at all of them every time. I think I've got my brain round it now.


And I have made a book. Instructions here.


It's a very small one, which is not quite perfect, due to some slips of the craft knife. The photos are 1" square. I'm pondering trying a slightly bigger version, but I have a feeling size isn't everything. 












And finally - the second Visual Marks/Manor Farm piece is nearly finished - just some leaves to add, plus framing it - always the worst bit!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Little to report.&nbsp;

This has not been a very productive week. We had some worrying news about a member of the family at the beginning of the week, which led to the little guys spending more time with us than usual. So far we have visited the perennial favourites, Manor Farm and the Lakeside Railway, and two new places, The Vyne and Winchester City Mill, which the VHC loved so much he went twice. That boy is going to be an engineer. 


Babybel elected to go to the Cathedral to light candles, and have a look round. Riding on the Park and Ride buses, and playing with granny and granddad's toys, went down pretty well too. 


The gaps in grand-parenting have been filled with boring stuff like shopping and getting hair cut, so I really didn't have much time or energy left for creative stuff. The VHC has a VI BIrthday coming up, so we are partying on Sunday, leaving today as the only day I could get into my workroom and get going


on a couple of books. I started with this one inspired by Daisy Yellow. It's not my usual style, but given my state of mind, I, for once, made some attempt at sticking to the guidelines.

















And then, as usual, one thing led to another. A combination of ideas from the first book, and a failure to get iPhoto to print my acetates the size I wanted, led to this, which is more to my liking. I like the shadows too.

















And there is another sock, plus half of one still on the needles.


We are likely to be doing extra grand-parenting until the little guys go back to school, so major creativity may have to wait until that scary moment when I go to University for the third time - although the second time was virtual, before anyone ever used that expression. Before that, we have a mature students' day next month: it will be interesting to see if any of them are more mature than me!



Saturday, 9 August 2014

Holiday at Home

As I expected, it's been a busy week: Dorset on Monday, Hampshire on Tuesday, Buckinghamshire on Wednesday, and Berkshire/Oxfordshire on Friday. The National Trust membership cards got a thorough workout. 


Now there's cycling this weekend, (great women's race) so no chance of a quiet time. But the little guys are back from an exciting couple of weeks in France, so we should get back to normal on Monday. Well, what passes for normal around here. Mostly we enjoyed our holiday, but we had some glitches and some bad news, and it will be nice to get back to our routine.


Despite the gadding about, some needlework has been done.


So, here is the routine sock photo. It is an even more repulsive colour combination than the last pair, but I reckon if someone notices your socks, there's a fair chance they are grovelling at your feet, in which case the colour doesn't matter. And I'm at the age when warm feet matter more than style.






A snippet of my piece for the Visual Marks Christmas exhibition. One down, several more to go.
















And this week's book. Despite the arrival of some more acetates, I felt like making a paper book, so here it is. Instructions here. I didn't have any suitable postcards, so I improvised with a cardboard mailer - now there's a surprise. I think I could probably include some acetates in the format (I like dos-a-dos books), so there may be another one next week. Watch this space.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

<span style="font-size: medium; text-align: start;">Warning! Contains Nudity!</span>


We've been away for a few days in deepest Dorset. OK, it's not very far away, but it was nice to go to a good hotel, be cosseted and eat far too much for a couple of days. 


We went to see a giant. Although as W. said, he wasn't very prominent. I think he needs his chalk cleaning. However Cerne Abbas village was beautiful, with one of the prettiest paths to and from a car park I've ever trodden, a nice cafe and a lovely garden behind the church. 


We also visited Sherborne Abbey, which is beautiful, with a stunning altar cloth, fan vaulted to match the ceiling. I forgot to ask the friendly lady in charge of leaflets who made it (the cloth, not the ceiling) though I bet it was the Sarum Group - does anyone know? We also took in Sherborne Castle (no particularly striking textiles) and Montacute, home of the Goodhart Samplers. I much prefer earlier, non-cross-stitch samplers to later Victorian ones, so I was delighted to see a few of this wonderful collection on show, together with a couple of modern ones. 


And that led to a book purchase or two. I jibbed at £40 for a paperback copy at Montacute itself, even if it was for a good cause, but managed to find a secondhand hardback copy on line for half that. The other book was mentioned on a blog (I can't remember whose, sorry if it was yours) and was also second hand. I've got quite a pile of heavyweight reading building up on the coffee table.

















Despite my best intentions, I didn't manage to get much needlework done while we were away. Too much eating in the evenings. I managed a few rows on the sock, but nothing else. However I finished them today - lots of knitting TV (very exciting cycling which the best men and women won), plus cold feet, hurried up their completion.











Since we got back I've made a start on my embroidery for the Manor Farm exhibition. Some design work and preparation, and four and a half couched lines. 












This week's book would have continued the acetate theme, if I'd had any acetates. However Alisa Golden posted the instructions for this, so I made that instead. For once I followed the instructions almost exactly, just making the pages slightly smaller so I could cut them out of one sheet of A3.


I was looking forward to a quiet week next week, but it is already shaping up to be busy. We have a week off from grandparenting and Wensleydale has an itinerary all planned...