'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 28 December 2014

Weeks 15 and 15a

Weeks 15 and 15a

Sorry to go AWOL, I've been a bit busy.

To begin at the beginning. Week 15 turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. The lecture we were expecting was cancelled, but as the essay really was finished, printed, bound and ready to hand in, I couldn't take advantage of the extra time for last minute revisions. So I handed it in, both paper and electronic versions (that was the challenging bit), drank coffee, and grabbed a quick tutorial/feedback on the crits. I found it demoralising at the time, but when I'd calmed down a bit, got a good night's sleep, and reread the comments, they weren't too bad. I am less sure of what I'm doing than I was a month ago, but I think the staff would think that was a good thing...

By that time, however, we were bracing ourselves for The Visit. It was Mr & Mrs Cheese Minor's 10th wedding anniversary, and they celebrated with a couple of nights in Berlin. Which meant that the little guys celebrated by coming to stay with us.

I'd spotted that Winchester City Mill, which is one of the VHC's favourite places, was having a milling day, so we went to have a look. This might not have been a good idea on the Sunday before Christmas, but the local buses  were remarkably quiet, unlike the park and ride. We bought  flour at the mill, and made bread the next day, before heading to Mottisfont for their Nutcracker trail. 

As we expected, the little guys loved the trail, especially the automata - and the ice cream (!) in the outdoor cafe. (Wensleydale and I opted for tea and cake.)

And on the third day, we headed for the Winchester Science Centre. Unfortunately their Christmas show in the Plantetarium had finished, but the little guys were quite happy with the usual one, plus plenty of time to explore the science exhibits. The cafe is good too - some of the best sandwiches I've had, and very generously filled.

You may be surprised to see no mention of Manor Farm in this itinerary. We had planned a visit, but Babybel didn't want to go!

After the little guys went home we needed time to recover, so we were glad to have no more social engagements till the 26th, when Babybel ran her first Boxing Day race with her mum and dad - 3 km in 20 minutes 'without stopping'! She wasn't first, but she wasn't last either, and she was so proud of herself!

The quiet time allowed plenty of time for sampling trees/hands/branches. (Second left is the beginning of a branch, whatever you think it looks like!) I've also been researching some artists recommended by my tutor, who seems to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of contemporary art. 

I also made some Christmas ornaments. I came across this lovely idea too late for this year, but I worked out if I started straight away and made two ornaments a month, we could have our own Advent Bough next year.  So next year the fortnightly ornament will replace the weekly book - I just hope it doesn't fizzle out like the books did. This is the last book, a variation on the palm leaf book I made earlier. 

For the ornaments, I chose a colour scheme of red, rust, yellow, dark blue and cream - which is not a good idea when you want to make Christmas trees like this. As it turned out, I didn't have enough suitable green buttons, and barely enough cream ones, which is why my tree is an odd shape. I have a lot of buttons, but I was surprised how many of them were shank buttons, which wouldn't work.

I made a couple more ornaments, as you can see, from ideas here and here. My intention is that they will all be different, more or less.

We have a few more quiet days now until New Years Eve when the soon-to-be Spanish branch of the family ( that is, soon-to-be family, they are already Spanish...) are coming over for a few days. Then we hit the ground running again when term starts again. Must get more rest!

Saturday 13 December 2014

Week 14 Running hard to stay in the same place.

My counting may have slipped a bit, but I know next week is week 15, so this must be the end of week 14. It is hard to believe that I've come to the end of the first quarter of the BA course. What have I got to show for it? A lot of knitting, a lot of notes, and the essay. All bound and ready to hand in. ๐Ÿ˜…

1. Some knitting. This is the mini sample. After felting, 50 stitches and 57 rows (it was meant to be 50 but I did too many and couldn't be bothered unpicking them) just fits a cylindrical wine box. I suppose I could use lots of cylindrical wine boxes to hold up the trees, but a) drinking all that wine wouldn't be a good idea, b) I haven't seen any more of the cylindrical ones, and c) the trees may become arms. Or maybe not.

2. Some more knitting. These have nothing to do with uni work, I just love the way the wool/alpaca blend felts. I think I have enough left for a third one. There need to be three.

3. A book. All embroidered, folded up, and stuck together. It's odd, but I like it.

4. Some Al Wei Weis. We've been meaning to go to his exhibition at Blenheim since before it started, and we finally made it on Friday. It costs an arm and leg to go in but we can get free entry for a year, so if there is another exhibition in 2015, it will only have cost half an arm and a leg. (I wasn't so excited by Blenheim itself that I'd go again just for that.)

The exhibition was a bit of a 'Hunt the Wei Weis' as they were displayed in the house, unlabelled, and in some cases, hard to find. Some were pretty obvious - I'm sure the Spencer-Churchills don't usually cover their carpets with hundreds of porcelain crabs - but finding a specific porcelain plate in a room full of porcelain plates was quite difficult.  Especially when the order items were shown in in the guide wasn't the same as the order in which you go round the rooms. Especially  when the only clue was a postage stamp sized photo in a poor scan of the guide they've run out, produced on a printer with a dodgy colour cartridge. Especially when the illustration shows one plate and there turned out to be a dozen of them. (Assuming we found the right plates.) But it all added to the fun, and there were some stunning pieces - a chandelier in the hall, a carpet based on a rutted road, and the 31 lovely things above, which were in the gardens and therefore photographable. I think. Wensleydale was fascinated by the 40 famous finger photographs, and spent ages looking at them, trying to work out where they'd been taken. This was made a little more difficult because they'd been hung sideways on, so the finger was vertical. I assumed this was so they would fit in the spaces chosen for them, but maybe they are always hung that way?

Then we had tea and Christmas Cake in the nice, and not ridiculously expensive tea shop, and came home





Tuesday 2 December 2014

Week 12. Bits and Bobs

The essay is all but finished - how many times have I said that? This time it's true. 

This is also finished, apart from a visit to the washing machine. I think I showed you its baby brother a while ago, but not after baby brother's second bath, when it shrank down to a really firm texture. But baby brother's gone to uni, so I can't show you what he looks like now. But because of his texture I made him a big brother, contrary to instructions. It's an alpaca wool leftover yarn, but I don't  think I'll be making alpaca trees, given the shrinkage and the price.

The big sample is finished and washed too, On the basis of this I think I need 50 stitches for a tree, so I'm making a 50 stitch sample just to check.

I have two books of the week in production. It was Visual Marks last week, and we did another communal mark making exercise. We each ended up with two samples. I like this tree - it was supposed to be roots but it's clearly a tree. But I was distinctly underwhelmed by my second piece, until I came across some instructions for a dos-a-dos book which I can't now find.

The  piece was a bit too long, (this is two scans joined together) so the end will become a simple pamphlet, with stitch as well. Our next exhibition in May is on the theme of connections, and I'm seeing all those interlocking lines as a network...


And my early Christmas present came today. Four days late, and having visited 6 different countries on the way, but it made it at last, so I've been playing rather than working today.

Crits (critiques) at uni tomorrow, which is a bit scary, especially when you have got very little to show except a few bits of knitting, but the feedback from those who have already gone through it is that it is OK... I may survive.


Sunday 23 November 2014

Week 11: impersonating a swan.

Or maybe the panic was visible? We had a session on how to write an essay which combined stuff I used to teach students with 'what?' 'how?' 'when?' 'oh, hecky thump' - and finally 'help'!!!

Of course, when I came to look at draft 2 of the essay, it was closer to what we been told to do than I remembered. At least, I think it is - but I could well be wrong. I am now on draft 2a, which could be described as a skeleton with some meat on its bones but lacking in its final features - if you will forgive the rather macabre simile. Or is it a metaphor? I used to know this stuff!

On the more positive side, I have finished the sample I was told not to make.

For once, this stitch came straight from a pattern book, but I think it's quite barmy - er, barky, thank you, predictive typing... I found a tree which has similar bark but with red streaks between the flakes, so I am planning on adding some reddish stitch. 

I have also started on the tree I was told to make, except that what I am making is a sample. More accurately it is a tension square, except it isn't square. After all, I need to know how big the thing is going to be when I've finished, and it would be too late if I only found out after I'd knitted and shrunk it.

This is not the same colour as the previous sample, despite appearances. 

I did take a break from uni work to participate in Myfanwy's creative weekend, and good fun it was. It included making little books, so there is a book of the week for once, but my photo of that was even worse than the ones of the knitting, so you may get to see it next week.

When I"m finally shot of this essay I won't know what to do with myself,



Sunday 16 November 2014

Week Ten: Coming to Conclusions

Well, sort of. 

The scarf for Babybel did get finished, and was delivered the day after her birthday. She was nicely greatful, and wore it for school. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo.

This vessel/branch is finished, and blocking on the end of a carpet tube. Except that it didn't shrink as much as I'd hoped, so it will have to visit the washing machine again. I had intended that the ribs would twist round - but as you can see, they didn't. However,  I will not be knitting it again.

This bit of playing around finding  trees on a used colour catcher is finished. It was intended  to go in a sketchbook, but Wensleydale has decided it should be framed. So maybe that isn't finished either.

We had a tutorial on Wednesday and I was instructed to stop farting around with samples and start a trial tree. Well, not quite in those words, but that was the gist. I've done some research into how to hold it up - anyone know where I can buy that tubing they bury cables in? - and I would have started knitting after I'd finished the brown thing, honest, but I can't find the wool. I think it may be in the car, which is in the garage, but I'm too lazy to go and look. So I'm making a s****e, just as a stopgap.

The essay isn't finished either, but it is a lot closer to being finished than it was before the weekend - so close to completion that I am experiencing a great sense of relief. I have no idea if it is any good, but my ambition is restricted to getting it finished and handed in on time. 

So, a better week than last week: let's hope the improvement continues.





Sunday 9 November 2014

Week Nine - Good in Parts.

But mostly not so good. In theory I had a hair appointment on Tuesday, but in between me learning that my hairdresser was off sick and the time of the rebooked appointment, his sick leave turned into garden leave. I knew he was moving on, but I only had the address of his new salon, no phone number, so that meant an unscheduled visit into town to book another appointment, but with someone else because he doesn't start there till next month. 

I was not at my best for Uni on Wednesday, because I had had a couple of insomniac nights. It was a messy day, with some changes of schedule, of which I had only a vague grasp. I have realised that although the organisation is pretty good, there are lots of things that 3rd years are expected to know, because, after all, they've been around for two years already, haven't they? And if you haven't, finding the right person to ask can be a challenge... Plus the place runs on what Wensleydale, who has some experience of these things, calls 'art school time', which meant I drove home in the rush hour. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Friday was the day for sorting out hairdressers, but we made the most of it by having lunch out, so that was a good day. Until, at the end of it I realised that:
1. The scarf I am knitting for Babybel is going to be long enough ☺️ but
2. This meant that the big buttonhole I made in it is in the wrong place ๐Ÿ˜ž so
3. I would have to unpick it ๐Ÿ˜ž and so
4. It wouldn't be finished in time for...

Yesterday's Very Important Birthday Party.  I'm pleased to say that Babybel was pleased with her present - a chest protector - but then she did know what she was getting because it had to be fitted.   But, unfortunately,  Babybel's family are having a hard time at the moment and fate had decided yesterday was the day to throw yet another helping of s**t at them. Unpleasant rather than serious, so far, but they have had such a rotten time over the last couple of years, the last thing they need is more nasty stuff happening to them.

Today had been put aside for resuming essay writing. Perhaps because it's not been a good week, I wasn't really in the mood, so when Google decided not to find me many useful sources, Word decided to be uncooperative (no change there) and Big Mac decided to have a go-slow, I decided to make a book

It is a fascinating structure, but it needs:
1. A large sheet of paper.
2. Careful measuring.
3. Careful cutting.

I managed one out of the three. I'll let you guess which one.

Here's hoping next week is better... I will resume the essay at Uni, where they have real books! ๐Ÿ˜Š and a computerised system for accessing journals which I have not yet plucked up courage to tackle. Wish me luck!

After my problems with Blogger last week, I am trying an app called BlogGo. Not very sophisticated, unless it has features I haven't found, but so far so good.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Week Eight: reading week.

Definitely NOT half term, prof says so.

Except that it was half term for the little guys, which is always busy, and exhausting. We went on a creepy cruise - not really very creepy,  and the VHC refused to dress up, but it was a lovely day and we enjoyed it. Later in the week the usual places were visited, and a good time was had by all. 

Granny and Grandad fitted in a visit of their own, but it was arty so allowable in not-half-term. We've been intending to go down to Salisbury to the sculpture show at Mompesson House since it started in the summer. It ends this week, so we decided we'd better get our skates on, and it was well worth while.  Some interesting stuff, including some inspirational knitting by Gary Hayton. 

And the week ended with hanging the Visual Marks exhibition at Manor Farm. I had to leave before it was finished, but it was looking good when I left. A wide variety of approaches and styles, at prices to suit all pockets, including a few little stiocjing stuffers. How can you afford to miss it?

With all this rushing around, its been great to sit down and knit. The never-ending cellular automaton piece is ended and washed, as is the plain stocking stitch cylinder with strange accretions. Wensleydale took one look at the former and said 'silver birch' and he was right, so that's good.  He made no comment on the latter: I can't imagine why. ๐Ÿ˜

My replacement knitting is an attempt to mimic bark. I'm not sure what bark this is, but I'm sure the sample hasn't worked. ๐Ÿ˜’ However it has given me some ideas for the next one. 

The book of the week is a cheat, I'm afraid. I made this cover years ago,  to present the supporting paperwork for a hanging I made in my first year of C&G. It was sea-themed, as you might have guessed. 

The contents - and the hanging - are long gone, but I liked the cover so I kept it. Originally it was stab bound but I found some binder rings (just a pity they are blue) and added some pages. I'm using it for the colour challenge Myfanwy has set Not enough time to do anything too demanding, but I made some colour studies and used the 'distort' filter in iColorama to come up with some decorative and embroiderable designs.

I'm using Blogger's own app to post now, as the app I used to use didn't play nicely - or at all - with IOS 8. However it definitely has its own opinions on where photos go, it has lost this post once so I have had to rewrite it, and I can't work out how to embed a hyperlink. If anyone knows a reliable blogging app for an iPad, which doesn't cost the earth, please let me know. 

Back to Uni next week - I must get my head down for the essay. But until then I'll keep knitting!

Sunday 26 October 2014

Week Seven

Well, the seminar is over. Was all the agonising worthwhile? Yes and no. As I anticipated, I had problems with the technology. It started when I couldn't log into the University site on the desk top. I could on the iPad, but not the desk top. That meant that, as I don't have Word on the iPad, I couldn't upload stuff from home, but had to email it to myself and then save it when I got to uni...

Of course, once I'd calmed down a bit and consulted my friend Google, I worked out what the problem was. Not because Google provided the answer, but because it did confirm what I'd suspected - it was a Yosemite problem. Or rather a Yosemite-Chrome problem. When I switched to using Safari as my browser, suddenly I could log in. 

Of course I didn't discover that until after the seminar...

The seminar itself was scary [only the second Powerpoint of my life] rigorous but helpful. It did reveal the major weakness in my “write the essay in order to plan the seminar” plan - if you get told to make major changes in your essay, a lot of what you've done is redundant. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

So, exhausted, I have put the essay on the back burner for the next week (“reading week”) and turned to other things
Like a book - my journal/diary sort of book is nearly full, so I've made another one. Its a simple case binding like all the others...

I have also finishing off stuff for the Visual Marks exhibition at Manor Farm - which starts on November 3rd. Be there or be square, as we used to say  in the - er - a few years ago. You don't have to pay the farm admission fee to get into the exhibition, although of course I strongly recommend going into the farm as well, especially if you nave small children to entertain.
 I've all but finished the 3 panels for the exhibition - just hanging hardware to add. I am also making a few brooches, and have got to the stage of adding a backing - a layer of felt and a border of satin stitch.
 The first one worked beautifully.
 The second didn't quite work as well.
 The third one is being a complete bugger. So much so that I am now sulking on the sofa with a cup of tea and an iPad.๐Ÿ˜ฃ
 Some time later.
Problem eventually solved, when I realised that, having used high tech technology to make a neat straight stitch circle round the edge of the brooch, I didn't need to use the same technology to go over the edge with satin stitch. It worked OK with the bigger brooches, but not the smaller ones. So I just did satin stitch round them without the aid of the technology - which was a drawing pin and a bit of masking tape to hold it to the bed of the machine.
And there has been knitting. I suppose I will eventually get to the stage when I stop sampling and start knitting for real... 
 Next week is half term so it will be really peaceful ๐Ÿ˜. We have already had our instructions for Monday: a creepy cruise is involved.   Little trains have been ordered for later in the week, but no mention has been made of Manor Farm๐Ÿ˜ฎ!  I'll be surprised flabbergasted if we don't end up there. 

Sunday 19 October 2014

Week 6.

First, apologies if you tried to read the blog last week, and got spam - and thanks to Sandy for alerting me. I had to delete most of my widgets to get rid of it - hopefully it hasn't come back.

I am still plodding on with the seminar/essay preparation. The goalposts were moved on Wednesday - we now only have to provide a 300 word sample, and as I have already written more than that, that is the easy bit. What I am really stressing about is the PowerPoint. When I try to run the slide show on Big Mac, the program crashes. Every time. So I have no idea how it looks. And suddenly the contents of half the slides disappeared, for no apparent reason. I had already e-mailed a copy to myself and that seems to be OK, but I won't know until I get into Uni on Tuesday whether it will work or whether I will have to start all over again.

Add to that, since I downloaded Yosemite, Word for Mac makes spelling corrections in French. And I can't log on to the Uni website from Big Mac ( though I can from the hi-pad, go figure). You may guess that it hasn't been a very good week, technologically speaking.

The rest of the week has been knitting, stressing about the seminar, working on stuff for our Manor Farm exhibition,  stressing about the seminar, going to a rather good exhibition at Southampton Art Gallery,  stressing about the seminar, grandparenting, and a bit  of stressing  about the seminar. You get the picture.

However, knititng is very therapeutic, and I have completed a demi-tree. Demi, because it is only about 5 feet long. I thought the yarn was wool, but when I washed it, it didn't shrink. However in its unshrunken state, it fitted over an old carpet tube we happened to have lying around, and it looks OK. Maybe this idea is going to work out after all! 

Just think, by the time I write the next post, it will all be over.

Saturday 11 October 2014

I didn't mean to disappear...

but week 4 was very busy, and week 5 ๐Ÿ™€ has been no better.

I am beginning to realise that this course manages to combine being 'very flexi', as one member of staff said to me, with being very structured. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be stressful! For example, this semester we have to write an essay - in my case on 'outsider art '. Essay writing , for me, is not usually a problem, but, as preparation for the essay, we have to contribute to a seminar. I can see all sorts of good academic and pragmatic reasons for this, but, although I can talk for Britain, it has become a problem.  

Powerpoint of the essay plan? The plan is no problem, I've already making a mindmap, but I've only ever done one PowerPoint presentation, and that was years ago. 

Hand in an estimate of the number of words in my introduction, conclusion, etc? Haven't a clue, until I've written the essay. 

Hand in a 1000 word section from the 3500 word essay? Might as well write the essay! 

So that is what I'm doing. I'm writing the essay, in order to make a presentation, as preparation for writing the essay.  At least I'll get some feedback before I write the final draft! But - the essay is due at Christmas, the seminar at the end of the month. What seemed like a generous time allowance has become somewhat tight... 

I did take a day off from essay writing, and went up to Compton Verney to see the Folk Art exhibition there. Great exhibition, great venue, just wish it was about an hour nearer... However it provided lots of useful information for the essay, which was my main reason for going.

I have continued with my experimental knitting. This is a sample of 'cellular automaton' knitting, from Debbie New's book, and I think it has bark-like possibilities. It is due to meet the washing machine as soon as there is a suitable load to put it in with.


And this is the book of the fortnight. Another concertina book from painted brown paper which ended up vaguely tree-like. The cover is boring black, so I didn't show that.


 I'm typing this using IOS8’s predictive typing, and trying to get used to it. It's a bit unnerving when it guesses what I want to say several times in a row - which it just did. Even more unnerving is that it seems to have learned my common typos too...

Sunday 28 September 2014

Week Three

And I still don't feel I've really started. I think it is because the course is largely self-directed, and I'm not used to it! (Plus there have more of the appointments we had to put off over the summer - I now have new glasses and a new bank account. And there has been cycling on the TV. ๐Ÿšต)

I have worked on some samples - at least one of these you've seen before. I gave up in the hand-knitted 4ply sample:

1. I didn't think it was realistic to knit several 3metre tubes in 4ply by hand, even in 2 years.

2. If I decide to go with fine yarns, the knitting machine makes more sense - if I can remember how to assemble and use it.

3. The samples I made with some scrappy ends of chunky yarns I found at uni are much more interesting anyway. I hope they will be even better when I've put them through the washing machine.

Does anyone know a good - and preferably cheap - source of chunky, neutral coloured coned yarns? The coarser and fuller of vegetable matter the better!

I also made a book. I've been Brushoing papers a lรก Frances Pickering, and the results included some tree like forms, which I decided needed a book of their own. Which of course meant I had to paint some paper for the pages. 

Not many in there yet, but there has been some ๐Ÿšด going on.

And I have been working on my essay - making notes, producing an essay plan, and planning on going to a relevant (?) exhibition. ๐ŸŽจ

Of the outstanding tasks from BU (before uni) the shawl is finished, blocked and drying. (It's going to be a present, so just a snippet of the very simple border I decided was within my current capabilities. I have trees to knit!

I haven't blocked a shawl in ages: the last time I had a bigger spare bed to do it on, and I didn't have arthritis, but despite that I managed. I debated blocking it on the spare room floor, but that would have necessitated getting down on the floor, getting up again - and vaccing the floor first. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Sunday 21 September 2014

Is it only the second week at uni?

I think I'm beginning to settle into my new routine, although you might not think it when I show you what I've achieved! 

The books of the week are not hand-made, but instead a hand-picked selection for my essay. ๐Ÿ™€ (Plus one about knitting.)

I think all of us mature new textile students were panicking about the essay, but the staff have been very helpful. The general advice we were given was:

1. to pick a topic which was relevant to our studio practice - 

this is my studio practice so far - 

2. if possible, to include works of art we'd seen in real life

3. to keep it simple.

I'd been thinking of something like 'trees in art' but decided that was possibly a little too large a subject for 3,500 words, so I'd narrowed it down to Graham Sutherland's trees - plus, after watching the excellent Mr. Graham-Dixon last week on the subject, a dash of Paul Nash. Not that I've seen many Sutherland trees, but we did potter over to Basingstoke last week to catch the Artists' Rifles exhibition there, which included several Nashes, both John and Paul - though not many trees. 

However my tutor suggested, that, as I want to explore disability issues, I consider looking at outsider art. I wasn't too keen on the idea to begin with, but when I thought about it, it grew on me. I saw some examples by Judith Scott, Ray Materson and Arthur Bispo Do Rosรกrio, at an exhibition at Compton Verney some years ago, so that met criterion 2. They were all textile artists, which sort of met criterion 1, and the fact that they were all institutionalised but for different reasons suggested an essay structure, which helped with criterion 3. Plus there seems to be a lot about them on Google. ๐Ÿ˜บ 

You can tell I've downloaded IOS8, can't you? Don't worry, the novelty will wear off pretty soon... In fact, after I discovered I can no longer use my favourite editing app, iPhoto (that is the iPad iPhoto, not the Mac iPhoto which is >,^*}#]#<>*^) the novelty wore off very quickly.๐Ÿ˜ฟ 

But I digress. This week I got into Uni for one and a half of my planned two and a half days. Wednesdays look as if they are going to be pretty busy with lectures and tutorials, which means I've got to focus for the other one and a half days on the things I can't do at home - like relearning machine knitting. I was going to have a go on Friday but starting research for the essay took over. University libraries have changed a tad since I was last in one, and I had fun exploring. ๐Ÿ˜ป

I have managed to finish my strange socks, and I have resisted starting another pair, as my studio practice makes excellent subtitle knitting.

I've been procrastinating about finishing the shawl, as I've been so tired that reminding myself how to add a lace edging, (which I do know how to do) has been quite beyond me. The upside of the tiredness is that I am still sleeping well, and I will tackle the shawl this evening as, apart from the excellent Mr. Graham-Dixon, there isn't much I fancy on TV.

The big piece for Visual Marks was also been on hold as I hadn't had time to heat up the soldering iron. I did that today and cut out 66 petals, before having another look at the flowers I'm using for inspiration and realising they don't have heart shaped  petals. Tough, they do now...๐Ÿ‘น

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!