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

Dorothy Rowe

Monday, 30 November 2015

A brief diversion

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember the work I made for the FDA Degree Show, 'Postage of Time', made from the envelopes from every letter we received over about 8 months.

Today I was inspired (perhaps by the need for a break from knitting) to start something similar, if smaller. Also inspired by my irritation that, despite having signed up for every mail preference service under the sun, we still get junk mail - although, as the postie said, it keeps him in a job.

I don't know if it's true elsewhere, but at Cheese Acres Monday is junk mail day. We only had one real communication today, and that was the bill from the cesspit emptier, delivered in person. (The bill that threatens to return the contents of our cesspit if we don't pay it. Needless to say we do.)

The other items were all junk.

So I used them to make a handbook. Nothing fancy, held together with staples, and cut out in the shape of my hand. The plan is to make one every day we get junk mail, as a ongoing record of the rubbish we get, although I may sew the rest, just to make them a bit more - er - hand made.





Sunday, 29 November 2015

How to stuff a glove in 30 easy stages.

I think I mentioned that a tutor had suggested that I tried expanding foam as an armature for my gloves. I experimented with it last week, by spraying it into a sample glove, and, as suggested by fellow student C, into a latex glove. I don't have photos of the former, as it's at Uni, but I have names it 'Frankenglove'... The latex one worked quite well, so today I decided to have another go.


  1. Collect overall, latex gloves and face mask. With hindsight, a full face mask might have been better.
  2. Find can of foam and read the instructions.
  3. Find cane, another sample woollen glove, and a curtain ring, for experimental purposes.
  4. Remember that another tutor had suggested I make pinpricks in the finger tips to prevent the air pockets I got in the previous gloves, so...
  5. Go to find a pin in my workroom.
  6. Remember Wensleydale's suggestion to try shaping the glove over a ball. No ball, so collect some crumpled newspaper and some masking tape.
  7. Go back for the pin.
  8. Put on a rubber glove. Remember just in time to prick the fingers, avoiding pricking my own, and insert hand, in the rubber glove, in the knitted glove.
  9. Try to remove my hand without the rubber glove. Fail.
  10. Decide to put talcum powder in the rubber glove to stop it sticking to my hand. Remember that I don't have any talcum powder.
  11. Try using the cane to push the rubber fingers into the woollen fingers. The rubber glove sticks to the cane.
  12. Find an old bamboo knitting needle to push the fingers into the finger. It works! But the knob comes off in the finger. Pull the glove out again to retrieve it.
  13. Get all the fingers into the fingers - er, no, some of the rubber fingers have found their way through the gaps in the stitches and are now outside the woollen ones.
  14. Push them back.
  15. Second experimental glove. Put it on, prick the fingers.
  16. Remember to change this glove for an unpricked one while working.
  17. Insert curtain ring and cane into the correct glove.
  18. Try to spray foam into glove. Realise that my attempts to clean the can after previous use had failed and the nozzle is blocked.
  19. Find second can.
  20. Start to spray into second glove.
  21. Remember that my experimental idea was: the stick in one glove, the curtain ring in the other. Remove cane, now covered in foam.
  22. Finish spraying into glove 2.
  23. Attempt to spray into glove 1. Cannot get tube into fingers. Nozzle tube bends. Eventually give up, remove rubber glove from woollen glove, complete spraying. Insert cane.
  24. Take can to sink and attempt to clean it with acetone, as recommended on can, and screwdriver and old skewer, as not recommended on can. Time will tell whether this is successful.
  25. In process of cleaning can, get foam on hands (have foolishly removed gloves) and face.
  26. Attempt to clean self up with vintage Tufanega left behind by Cheese Major when he moved out over 10 years ago. Works on hands, not on face.
  27. Try acetone. Does not work.
  28. Wensleydale suggests scrubby exfoliating glove in shower. Scrub hard. Remove foam and a generous layer of skin.
  29. Return to inspect gloves and realise have been far too generous with foam.
  30. Sit down with glass of wine, kindly delivered by Wensleydale.


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.