'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 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. 🚵)

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 lá 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 🚴 going on.

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

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. 😱

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. 🙀 (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 Rosário, 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. 😺 

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.😿 

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. 😻

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...👹

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!