'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 27 January 2013

Snow and arrows.

I managed two lots of snow dyeing before the snow was washed away by torrential rain. This is the result, but they are darker than this in real life. I'm trying to work up the enthusiasm to untangle those threads - a net bag made no difference to the tangling.

Fortunately I managed to get the last batch rinsed before the washing machine packed up. Washing machine pox seems to spreading round our extended family: ours is the third machine to go on the blink, out of 4. Cheese Major, yours is next...

I have also finished page 3 - or possibly page 4 - of 'Moving On'. This is version 2, which has been declared finished and then recommenced twice. It is now definitely finished.


I am beginning to panic about getting this done for the NEC exhibition. I want to make 8 pages, and put them in a concertina book, although I have not yet decided how to put the book together. Realistically it needs to be done, or nearly done, by the end of February. Which is only a month away.

I have to keep counting: I've finished 4, I'm working on page 5, I've designed page 6, and have ideas for pages 7&8, so I'm telling myself it's doable.

We have another exhibition lined up for April in the Hanger Farm Gallery in Totton, but that's a selling exhibition, and I have nothing to sell! Several people have suggested I try photos, which seems the best solution, but I will need to select them, get them printed properly, find some frames, think about prices...

My head hurts.

It makes me look forward to a nice quiet day with Babybel and the VHC (thankfully recovered from chicken pox) tomorrow. Compared to thinking about exhibitions, getting up at silly o'clock, driving north, feeding, and washing two small children, delivering them to their various destinations, and driving south again is a doddle. And their mum and dad have a working washing machine, so I can get some washing done too! Such excitement.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Snow dyeing: continued.

I managed to get the snow dyeing rinsed and hung out to dry yesterday while the VHC was asleep, though as you can see I didn't get it ironed, and those threads are going to need a quiet evening when I'm feeling patient. The real colours are rather darker than this looks, and not so green. I used Kemtex Cerulean Blue and Jaquard Teal with a dash of Jaquard black in each. 

I read somewhere that snow dyeing causes dyes which are a mix of colors to split into their constituent colours, and it definitely happened with the Teal, leading to blues, greens and purples. Nice, but not what I wanted.

However, the method of just bunging the slaked dye onto the snow worked fine, with a good spread of colour across the cloth and few if any white bits, possibly because I didn't bother with complicated arrangements for draining off the liquid. There was relativly little liquid anyway, as of course snow contracts when it thaws.

Today I took advantage of our remaining snow and had another go, using Cerulean (which is a pure dye so shuold't split) with a smidgen of black. It will have to sit there till Friday or possibly Saturday before I can rinse it out, as it's another child minding day tomorrow, and the postponed Contemporary Textile Workshop on Friday.

Monday 21 January 2013

Oh yeh?

Anyone get the impression they haven't actually read my blog?

"Having come across your blog, Cheshire Cheese, I wanted to get in touch to introduce you to ............ We are a new media sharing platform for blog writers and we would like you to be a part of it. We think a lot of the content on your blog would particularly interest readers in the Food & Drink and Recipes Magazines.

With so much information online, it can be difficult for Internet users to find the best blog content and most relevant articles. Our aim is to identify and promote the best blogs- such as yours- and to publish the articles on our digital platform in ‘Magazines’, in turn sharing them with a wider audience.

If the concept interests you, all you have to do is submit your blog. It already adheres to all our quality criteria, and we believe that your articles would prove very interesting for readers. You may submit it here, http:// .... ."

We now return you to your normally scheduled, non-food related blogging.

Sunday 20 January 2013

When life gives you snow...

do some snow dyeing. It was all a bit ramshackle, because it must be at least 2 years since I last did any, and I couldn't find the instructions I used then. This is the drawback to throwing out lots of printouts on the grounds that you can always find them on line...

I think last time I used a grid to hold the snow over the fabric, but which grid I have no idea. And as always, I forgot about threads till the last minute, so they got too short a soak in soda before going into the cat litter trays vat with everything else.

I found one set of instructions which involved stirring the dye into the snow and tipping it over the fabric, but I bottled out of that when I realised how much snow I needed. (A third of a table top, 10 cm deep, for each.) So I put the snow on top of the fabric and poured the dyes over the snow. 

I'll bag it up for batching later on. Nothing else is going to happen to it till Tuesday afternoon, and possibly not till Wednesday, depending on whether we are needed on Tuesday to look after a poorly, poxy VHC. (We knew something was up when he went off his food. The VHC never goes off his food.)

When not spreading blue dye over the house and garden, I've been working on some designs for yet another Karen Ruane class, called 'Alchemy'.

Yes, I know I still haven't finished the work for her last class, and I've got a book to make for the NEC in March, but I find her ideas so inspirational that when she offered another class I couldn't help but sign up. This one explores the design process from first idea to product (notice I didn't say 'finished product').

My theme might be described as Lancashire mill girl meets Japanese Boro cloth. I've researched my family history, and unsurprisingly, given where I come from, most of my ancestors came from Lancashire - apart from the Yorkshire ones. And all of them were working class. And where did working class Lancastrians work in the 19th century? In the cotton mills, of course. About a fifth of those I've traced so far worked in the mills, and others were dressmakers or hatters. Textiles run in my blood. 

Given their low incomes and large families, I think my foremothers probably spent more time mending than doing embroidery - which led to ideas about patched and darned cloth, and these stamped, drawn and collaged ideas. Apparently mill girls wore long aprons called 'brats', so I have a vague idea of making a Boro-ish apron. Or perhaps a book. Or just a cloth. 

But as soon as I've finished adding stitch to the left hand collage, I'll be back to 'Moving On'. Honest!

Sunday 13 January 2013

Make spray while the sun shines.

It's Contemporary Textile Workshop on Friday, and the task is to make a garment for Eve. So of course my thoughts have been running on leaves. Predictable, I know, but reinforced when, in one of my tidy-ups/searches for something else I found the leftovers from this.

I decided Eve would probably want something a bit more practical, so after experimenting I decided on a wrap made by appliquéing skeleton leaves to a bit of cream voile curtain, left over from Cheese Minor's 4 poster bed period. (It was a very contemporary  4 poster bed.) And I decided to add some colour to the voile, to make it more interesting.

I've already painted two pieces without really liking the result. (There was a lot of left over curtain.) So, as the sun was shining, I thought I'd experiment with spraying another bit outside. I'd originally thought of gold spray paint, but decided that was a bit too blingy for Eve. Plan B was diluted acrylic ink, if i had a suitable colour. And if I couldn't use a spray can, I'd have to find my mouth diffuser.

In the process of finding looking for the diffuser, I found some walnut ink crystals, and a couple of pump sprays. The latter turned out not to work any more, but the former was fine. I decided it would be easier to use a recycled kitchen cleaner spray - less puff needed and I wouldn't have to find a way to hold the fabric upright with leaves on it. (Not the skeleton leaves. Real leaves.) Plus I wouldn't have to find the diffuser. 

We do have a fig tree, but it is January after all, so there was a slight shortage of leaves. I had thought of using ivy and cupressus, but I noticed that the blackberries still had their leaves, and they are a bit more figgish than ivy and cupressus.

I wandered down the garden to the only patch of sunshine, armed with fabric, scissors and spray full of walnut ink.

Whoops. The fabric needs to be damp. Back to the house. Did I mention that we have quite a long garden?

Dampen fabric. Go back down the garden. Replace blackberries. One of the disadvantages of blackberries, compared with figs, is the thorns, which insisted on sticking to me, or the voile, or both.

After I'd taken the photo, I realised that putting the fabric on the grass was probably not a good idea. Fortunately there was a large bit of polystyrene packaging in the conservatory. Back to the house. Back down the garden again. 

I managed to ease the voile and the blackberry leaves on to the polystyrene, which was almost big enough. One of the advantages of blackberries, compared with figs, is the thorns, which fortunately stuck to the voile.

After lunch, when the sun had gone from the garden, I brought everything but the leaves into the conservatory. Just hope it will be dry by Friday.

It is definitely better than the painted pieces, but I do have an unpainted piece as well,  just in case. Plus another piece, crumpled up in a cat litter tray, and sprayed with the last of the walnut ink.

This evening I have screwed my courage up to add a couple more swooshes to page 3 of 'Moing On', I have also tacked down all the component parts of page 5. So the next few evenings are booked for fly stitch and appliqué.

I did find my diffuser in the end. I'd put it with the spray inks, for when their pumps stop working. Obviously.

Friday 11 January 2013

Something old, something new.

Starting with the new, something which always cheers me up in the middle of winter.

While I was out in the garden I took the opportunity to photograph some old friends. Some have survived better than others: 'Mirror' is looking very good, but 'Storm Cones' has become 'Storm Cone' and there was no trace of the other half. 

'Moving On' is not moving on much. The second attempt at page 3 is not much better than the first. W. reckons it needs more arrows, but that would mean some unpicking. I know he's right, but... 

I can't make up my mind whether to get started on page 5, which is sort of designed but needs some preparation, or bite the bullet and tackle page 3. I'll see what I feel like in the morning.

And finally - some exciting news <g>. The FDA graduates have been selected as the student team of the year, so we are invited to the Eastleigh College Awards Evening, where we will receive the applause of the assembled multitude, a pen set each, and presumably a bit of paper as well. 

In my former life I attended a number of college awards evenings, on occasions making witty boring speeches about awardees, so it will make a change to be on the receiving end. Bet it's no more exciting than the graduation ceremony, though, but hopefully with fewer speeches...

Sunday 6 January 2013

A bit of this and a bit of that.

The great sort out of magazines etc. has, I'm glad to say, been finished. I have a mountain of empty ring  binders, an avalanche of paper for recycling, a cascade of empty plastic pockets, and space  on my book shelves. All I need to do now is to get my act together about trying to sell my redundant books, and then there'll be room for some new ones!

I've also finished my subtitle-reading knitting. Take 2 different balls of wool and knit two stripes of each colour, increasing at the ends and twice in the middle on every other row till you run out of wool.  It has come out a little small, but I've been wearing it cowboy fashion in the neck of my coat, and it's very warm. That meant I had to find some more simple knitting, so there is another scarf on the needles. Of course I have lots of scarves already, but I'm on a mission to use up my stash and what's left is mostly odd balls, and sock yarn.

Speaking of subtitles, if you missed 'Borgen' last night, I strongly recommend you try to catch up with it, especially the first episode. As a summary of the pros and cons of sending soldiers to Afghanistan it beat any news programme I've ever seen - and it was much more interesting and moving than that description makes it sound. It was a bit confusing to see 4 actors from various seasons of 'The Killing' reincarnated into very different roles in life, especially when one of them was the Prime Minister before Christmas and is now a car salesman. But I digress.

I plucked up the courage to restart page 3 (or possibly page 4) of the book. Arrows going in all directions, symbolic of my general confusion and lack of decisiveness. 

Tomorrow we are being grandparental again, with not one but two spotty small people. Yes, the VHC copied his big sister and got chickenpox as well. A poorly big sister was easy to occupy, but a spotty 17 month old may be a little harder to entertain all day, but I'm sure we will rise to the challenge!

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Good things and bad things.

Thing 1

I don't know what the weather was like in your neck of the woods yesterday, but in the neighbourhood of Cheese Acres the sky was blue and a golden glowing ball appeared in it, which the weather expert around here assured me was the sun.

So we decided to go to Hillier Gardens.

When we got to Hillier Gardens we drove round the car park and decided to go to Mottisfont.

Good decision. Their car park was also pretty full, but there were lots of Blue Badge spaces. 

We had an enjoyable stroll round the gardens, spotting a few more stars on the way. Then mince pie and coffee in the stables cafe, and a visit to the excellent craft exhibition in the house, where there were more stars.

Thing 2a & 2b

I've finished both my massive clear out of old magazine articles, computer printouts etc. I have also finished page 4 (or 3) of The Book. It looks more 3D in reality, although of course it isn't. I'm pleased with it.

After a visit to Hobbycraft on New Year's Eve, I am equipped with thread for page 3 (or 4) and I had hoped to have a replacement piece of fabric prepared and to get started tonight, but it hasn't happened. It won't happen tomorrow either as it is back to grandparental duties.

Thing 3

Babybel isn't back to school yet, so our intention had been to have a dog walk in the morning, then drop the VHC at nursery before taking Babybel to Mottisfont again, as she enjoyed the Star Trail and fish feeding so much. However (here's where the Bad Thing comes in) her daddy has phoned to say he strongly suspects she has chicken pox. I foresee lots of dabbing on of calamine, cuddling, and story reading in our future, plus a bit of playing on the iPad... Interesting that the only medical aspect of allthat doesn't seem to have changed in 60 years!

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Champagne, good company and Strauss - what more could I ask?