'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, 31 May 2014

Little things

The little guys had the week off school, so that although we had a day off grandparent duty on Monday, on Thursday we looked after them all day - exhausting, but fun. Babybel (who is definitely not a little thing any more, she is growing like a sunflower) had a hospital appointment in the morning, which precluded any long trips. (Not a serious problem, just what in my day was called a lazy eye, which has improved enormously.)  

The hospital is conveniently close to the ducky place, so we went there to feed waterbirds and ourselves, followed by a trip to Finkley Down, which is conveniently close to Daddy's new work-place, so we could meet daddy after work, and admire the big trucks arriving, much to the VHC's delight.

Given that we had Monday off, I don't have much to show you - a bit of knitting and three books of the week. That may sound impressive, but two of them are very simple - we realised on Thursday that paper and pencils would fill in the time spent waiting for daddy, so granny has found a small pencil case and made two little pamphlets, all to be kept in the car for future use. 

The other book was a bit more complicated. Earlier in the week I came across a few A5 sheets of hand made paper I don't remember buying, and decided to use them for a book. 

I didn't want to fold the paper, so decided on a stab binding. I vaguely remembered seeing instructions for such a binding with a fold over cover, but couldn't find them in my numerous books. I finally found them in Shereen La Plantz's 'Cover to Cover', found and cut some suitable card for the cover, punched the 72 holes required, selected some unsuitable fibre for the binding, tracked down a needle with an eye big enough to take the unsuitable fibre, (not easy) and sewed up the book. 

It doesn't look much from the outside, but the unsuitable fibre looks OK when you open the cover.

Odd bits of knitting have also taken place. In some cases very odd, like this experiment in felted shibori, which is about to get some beads. (Yes, I know what it looks like.)

I won't tell you what Wensleydale said this looked like, but I pointed out to him that:

a) it is far too big and 

b) it would not be fit for purpose because of the holes. 

In theory it is another 2ply vessel, but longer and destined for more determined felting.

And finally, I decided the previously knit vessels need a bit of colour. The little one was dipped in Quink, the bigger one in something called Prout's Ink, another forgotten purchase, which managed to be both very glutinous and very drippy at the same time. And it smells like the brown shibori looks. Not recommended, even though I like the result.

I nearly forgot. One thing this week was 'really big', as the VHC would say. Winchester Discovery Centre is showing Grayson Perry's 'Walthamstow Tapestry', so we pottered out to see it. Very impressive - it fills the entire wall of the gallery. I especially loved the colour, the patterns, and the birds and flowers, apparently inspired by batiks. And the 'birth' and 'death' sections involve quilts - there's a man who knows his textiles. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Where did last week go?

WARNING! Post contains insects and s*x.

This week seems to have passed remarkably quickly - but then most weeks do, I find. I think I went to Visual Marks on Tuesday, but it could have been the week before, it seems such a long time ago. Which doesn't really make sense if I'm complaining that time whizzes by, but that's the way my brain seems to work these days. (I use the word 'work' in a very loose sense, you understand.)

But I digress. We spent the Visual Marks meeting planning our group entry for this. We picked a great poem, but I'm keeping that and the work under wraps for the moment, so this is all the information I'm going to provide. That's the pre-design for my bit. Sort of. The embroidery is under way, and looks good.

I have also been knitting. Not socks, but this, and it's siblings.

Looks a bit better when it's washed and blocked. They do stand up, but the fabric is quite soft and inclined to lean if you don't set it up very carefully, as the bad news is that it really doesn't felt much, even when washed hot and long. 

The good news is that I have now used up all the mystery Aran, and started sampling the Wool City Wool I bought from Texere. More good news: it shrinks beautifully. More bad news: I had forgotten that I bought one ball of all six yarn weights Texere sell it in. Yes, six. The extras are 2 ply (lovely but a bit splitty because it is quite loosely spun), and super chunky, which I haven't got round to trying yet. I'm being very methodical and making two tension swatches, one unfelted and one felted, plus a felted vessel, always to the same pattern but on different needles according to yarn, to see how well it works in each weight. So there is a lot of unexciting natural coloured knitting going on - 12 tension swatches and 6 vessels in addition the ones I've already made. (What do you mean, I don't have to use all six types? Of course I do!)

The current book of the week is not very exciting either - a simple case bound notebook to replace the simple case bound book I made in January to use as a diary/notebook/to do list and which is now full. Mostly with things I haven't done... 

Lest you think the week has been completely dull, we did spot these on a granny duty day. Fortunately we did not have small children with us at the time. ('What they doin' granny?'). Such are the small excitements of the retired life. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

Book Week

Book One

'Another chance to see' the CTW book, which now has contents. Adding the contents took most of Wednesday, about as long as it took to make the book itself, if you don't include drying times. That was partly due to deciding to add a fancy, but not very successful, title, which had to be designed, believe it or not. Then I added the pasta machine prints I made earlier, and some real lace. (The bits of handmade beige paper, and the smudgy blue piece in the middle, are dampened paper embossed by putting them through the pasta machine with the collagraph plate but no paint, although the blue one did get some Rub-On.)

Book Two

Continuing work in the 'tree' sketchbook. You may be looking at some of these for a while before you see any link to trees. I got a bit carried away.

I finished the four-sided stitch trees. Then I got a bit patchworky with a couple of my Gelli prints, one on paper and one on fabric. I really like the paper version, lots of little 2" square bits of inspiration. Appliqué, or surface embroidery perhaps, or canvas work?  There are also a couple more knitted samples, and some of the grottier prints cut out and layered.

My thoughts have been turning, as they often do, to vessels, so I used some Gelli prints to cut out 'sketches' of cylindrical ones.  Then I actually drew some, if you count oil pastel and Brusho as drawing. And finally I knitted a couple of tension samples for felting, using a mystery white Aran/chunky from my stash, which are so boring to look at I haven't even photographed them. And it didn't felt much either. Lovely texture, not much felting. Time for Plan B, I think.

You may be thinking 'enough of all this sampling, what about making something?'  I have to agree. Wensleydale always says Plan B is thinking of Plan C. In this case it was deciding to try to knit a cylindrical vessel like the ones I'd been drawing, to see if they would actually work. I used smaller needles, in the hope that it will get stiffer when it felts.  It took several goes to find a cast on for the base which looked as if it might lie flat: I remain to be convinced. But when it's as tall as I want it - or when I run out of wool - or when I get bored, I shall cast off and felt it in the hope I can produce something which will have a reasonably flat base and stand up by itself, even with added cables/holes/lumps and bumps etc. If not, it really will be time for Plan C. 

Mind you, it will be time for Plan C if it does work, just a different Plan C.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Trees, knitting and a book.

Last week, after I'd made the pasta machine collagraph prints, I got out the Gelli plate and made tree prints with the stencils I'd cut from my tree drawing. Or are they landscapes?

Here's one I made earlier, in both orientations. Can't make up my mind. Whichever, I definitely prefer Gelli to pasta.

And here are a few more trees, in various stages of completion. OK, the bottom two (random cables, with and without i-cord), aren't very tree like, but they could be with a bit of work. I keep getting ideas for treeish things to knit, but I felt like a break from knitting (apart from  the VHC's scarf, of course), to add some four sided stitch to one of the Gelli prints (top right).

An hours good cycling on TV most nights this week has enabled me to make good progress on the scarf, despite spotting an error the other night and having to pull half of it out. W. said that the VHC wouldn't notice, but I would, even if it is mistake stitch rib. Babybel was very pleased with her scarf, so I hope the little one likes his 'boo' one.

I also managed to finish off the Contemporary Textile Workshop lace book. I was going to line it with Vilene, but I realised that it was stiff enough on its own, so it's lined with a bit of an interesting print I found in the cupboard.

I'm going to put the better pasta prints in it later, but first I have to wait for the Markal I put on the cover to cure a bit, otherwise I'll end up with blue hands. Again. Just call me Cheshire Smurf.


Monday, 5 May 2014

It"s been a tiring week.

There's been knitting - a scarf finished, a scarf started (the VHC made it clear that he wanted a scarf too - 'a boo one'), some trees, and a small experimental vessel. It's 2" tall, and the same diameter, and I think it's cute! Useless, but cute.

There was the Contemporary Textiles Workshop, wherein we did things with lace. We made collagraph plates to use with pasta machines (as you do) and printed them...

and some of us made book covers. You can see what a good collection I have of not very nice lace. 

The cover looks a bit better painted, but is a bit bright for my taste. I think Markals might be called for.

And some book of the week making. Not, as you might expect, using the book cover I made in CTW (I'm waiting for the paint to dry.) Not using the Visual Marks challenge cover, which is still awaiting assembly. Instead I came across these, and adapted them slightly to use up an old file envelope and some of the lined paper we seem to have infinite supplies of. (Can you spot the deliberate mistake?) The photographs are a bit misleading, it is more mauve than purple.

It has become my 'to do' list. I'm already onto the third page.

That all may not look much, but I feel knackered (I suspect I am going down with a cold). 

I also made an unexpected discovery. About 25 years ago, when we moved into this house, long before I started using computers, I bought some printed address labels.  And then they disappeared. After a desultory search, I assumed I'd thrown the envelope away by mistake and hand wrote everything.

This week the drawer under the envelope drawer, in which I'd put them, stopped closing properly. Eventually I got the grabber - a sort of opposable thumb and finger on a stick - in order to poke around behind it. (The drawers are difficult to take out and require girding of loins, stiffening of sinews and summoning of blood.) 

There were a lot of envelopes down there, some greetings cards, an application form for a car licence - and my address labels.

We have been talking about downsizing, so they were bound to reappear. Mind you, we have been talking about downsizing for years...