Tuesday, 4 November 2008
She also insisted that all the "ends" be pulled off because "I don't like to eat them".
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Meanwhile I have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous and am knitting an eco string bag on big fat needles.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
I can be a bit of a pollyanna – searching for the silver lining, looking on the bright side, urging people not to be gloomy, but sometimes I think it is appropriate to recognise that life has been tough of late and to acknowledge all that sadness in other people’s lives and mine too. I won’t dwell on it for long – we’re going to a wedding at the weekend, good stuff is happening as well – but just for today I’m not going to push the bad feelings away.
Note: this is not a bid for sympathy from the cyber world – just a statement of how it is.
Friday, 17 October 2008
The ball-band says "knit as double knitting" though it looked and felt rather more like aran to me. My knitting tension never matches pattern requirements anyway so I decided to play around with needle sizes and see how it knitted up and then work from there (ended up using 5mm). I decided this was going to be my first venture into creating my own garment without a pattern and that I was going to make something to fit ME rather than some idealised size. After the gauge experiments the next step was taking my own measurements, which was a bit sobering as I realised that shaping to go in at the waist was not going to be one of my requirements. I went for a shape that would give plenty of ease around hip and belly while fitting more closely around bust and shoulders. This meant some dart shaping at the lower end of the jacket. Also went for a slightly scooped round neckline, which I find more comfortable than something that comes up close round my neck.
I am modestly pleased with the results. It fits better than most knitted-from-patterns garments I have made – so good not to have a cardigan that strains to fasten at the bottom edge – and I think it will probably work quite well with my winter wardrobe. If I’m honest it’s probably not a yarn I would have bought if I hadn’t been staying at Sheldon where the wool was produced. It’s an unusual colour – french mustard maybe, or cinnamon if we’re talking colour charts, but probably cowpat brown is more accurate - and the yarn still has that redolent sheepy, lanolin aroma, which was quite nice for knitting as my hands felt moisturised, but not particularly what I want my clothes to smell of. (When completed I washed it and used fabric conditioner and I don’t like the smell of that much better than the sheep smell.) I’m still happy to have bought and used it though – another piece of work that carries memories and associations and a good way of supporting the work of a valuable organisation.
(The sheep photo at the head of the post was taken by Cathy Wainwright and was posted on the Manx Loaghtan Sheep Breeders Group)
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Greenbelt is, of course, awash with slogans on tee shirts (and some unusual fashion choices - see Mark Loudon’s photos), but this was my favourite. I noticed it on a scholarly looking bloke in the book tent in an understated navy blue.
Very post modern.
Seems like a good motto for living with uncertainty.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Edited postscript. Obviously (as Alice has pointed out in her comment) he died in 2004, not 1984 - don't know how that got in there!
Monday, 6 October 2008
Sunday, 5 October 2008
I’ve got a ball of wool left over and I’m planning to make this for myself.
Monday, 15 September 2008
I’d been chatting to another woadie in Frome, who had told me that rather than going through the very lengthy process of extracting the pigment, I could in fact use the fresh woad leaves to make a more delicate shade of dye. It gives subtle spearmint shades rather than the blue normally associated with indigo. I had seen a description of this process being applied to fresh indigo leaves, so decided to give it a go.
Even this process was fairly slow and time consuming:
heating water and steeping the leaves (careful not to let it get too hot), adding soda ash and sodium hydrosulphate, whisking for ages and ages as the froth turned blue and then back to green again, but finally the dye bath was ready to use. I dipped my prepared cloth and watched the magic process of pulling the cloth out of the bath a greeny/yellow colour and watching as the exposure to air turned it blue-ish.
Unfortunately there wasn’t really enough dye to make repeated dippings to get more intensity of colour, but I hung them all out to dry anyway.
Sadly by the time they had dried they were much paler and by the time they had been properly washed and rinsed they just look like whites that got into the wrong wash…
Oh well, it was fun to try, but probably not something I’m going to make into a regular activity.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
I’ve been clearing out my workshop (it seems like months I’ve been working on it). There was a shallow plastic box on a shelf just above my head with lots of "stuff" in it. I lifted it down to sort through it all and an unopened bag of plaster of paris fell to the floor and split. Powder everywhere - in things, around things, behind things, everywhere! First the dustpan and brush, then the vacuum cleaner were pressed into service. But then I noticed that as fast as I cleaned one bit, I was leaving footprints everywhere else. Vacuuming the soles of my feet was really the only solution.
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
Anyway, Stu and I decided we just had to go for it. We went up to the allotment and took the plastic sheeting off a patch of earth. We dug over the top layer and pulled out the couch grass and raked and levelled and then planted the little seedlings. (When I say "we", it was mostly Stu doing the heavy stuff and me getting to do the fun bits – but Iris helped as well).
The plastic collars are supposed to give them some protection from slugs, but really they’ve just got to take their chances – after all it was a weed originally!
Monday, 9 June 2008
It's a canvas-work rug that my mother started in the sixties. She spent quite a lot of time on it, but never finished it. When she died in 1992 I took it on, intending to finish it myself. Clearly, this hasn't yet happened. I have done some work on it, but the wool is very fibrous and makes my eyes itch. It's never going to be a rug now as one of the wool colours has virtually run out, but I think I could just about even off the ends and turn it into a big fat floor cushion. One day!
Sunday, 30 March 2008
I trudged into town yesterday to buy some machine embroidery thread. (Bristol is oddly ill-supplied with creative needlework materials.)
I have been playing around with stitching into plastic carrier bags. I like the idea of recycling plastic bags and, you never know, they may soon be a scarce resource! Maybe in fifty years time plastic carrier bags will be exhibited in museums as cultural artefacts, monuments to the prolific foolishness of the twentieth century. Of course, they will have to store them carefully in acid-free tissue paper to stop them from fading and degrading in the light.
Thursday, 27 March 2008
This is a mistake.
A lot of knitters seemed to be talking about Noro Kureyon and the pattern of choice seemed to be the Lizard Ridge Afghan. I thought I’d give it a try and bought a couple of balls of yarn. Rather more muted colours than the other examples, but I didn’t want to just COPY, I had to introduce my own twist. Anyway, I’ve knitted up a square and I hate it. I didn’t enjoy using the yarn which is rough and knobbly and makes the complicated picking up of wrapped stitches in the short rows pattern very hard to see. The finished result just reminds me of hippy seventies sweaters. At my age that doesn’t look retro and cute; after all I can actually remember all those earnest young men in their corduroy flares and baggy jumpers – reader, I married one!
Tuesday, 25 March 2008
By the way, did you notice my lovely cactus pin cushion? Thank you gift from the aforementioned Si (who has already had more name-checks than anyone else on my blog!). It caused a great deal of cactus envy from daughters 1 and 2.
Friday, 21 March 2008
Stu has agreed to let me have a little bit of space to grow it on the allotment, and Good Friday seems an appropriate day for sowing. The directions on the packet are a bit sparse so I have found some interesting stuff on the internet about growing and using woad.
Just got to sit back now and wait for the little shoots to appear!
Saturday, 15 March 2008
Si had the lovely idea of asking friends to contribute patches to a quilt for Sue’s 40th birthday, so that she could "wrap herself in her friends’ affection". Their friend Emily was main-craftswoman, responsible for planning and putting the quilt together and I had the privilege of creating a border for the quilt.
The background fabric of the quilt was restricted to two different blue fabrics and unbleached calico so I decided to introduce a mix of complementary colours (red/orange/pink) to create some visual excitement and emphasise the blue-ness. This was all done at a distance - they’re in Leeds; I’m in Bristol - so it was pretty much fingers crossed that I’d interpreted what was required correctly.
Anyway, all is now revealed and it has come together beautifully. I especially love the central motifs of the quilt which include little figures of the family in blue and white Leicester City colours!
Here’s one of my photos of the border before I sent it off (all 7 metres of it!):
And here’s the square I contributed:
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
It’s taken from a 16th century painting of Christ, Man of Sorrows. It is stitched on a large wire fence panel using torn fabric and heavyweight wool. I wanted to explore the hard vs. soft contrast: Christ, the all-powerful son of God is the man of sorrows, beaten and bruised; traditional image, traditional technique vs unconventional materials. I worked on it during Lent and thought that it would be an opportunity for reflection and meditation as I worked – romantic fool that I am!
In the event it was actually a very stressful process, both physically (working into that wire, bent over the dining room table left me with raw fingers and a very painful back) and emotionally (we were preparing to move house and having some essential repairs done which kept threatening disaster and the dissolution of all our plans, but I had the Easter deadline to keep). I don’t think I did any meditating or reflecting except in choosing what fabric to use next or wondering why everything always happens at once.
I was reminded of this process last week when I used Si Smith’s brilliant 40 CD again at a service. It always strikes me what a long time 40 days and nights is. I think we often have warm fuzzy ideas about retreat and withdrawal from the world (especially when life is busy and we feel hard-pressed) and visions of rapturous communion with God, but the reality can be a deeply painful confrontation with oneself.
I suppose I can’t leave this on such a negative note. For Christ of course, his forty days in the desert equipped him for his ministry. (As Si’s minimal text says, "for my thirtieth birthday I gave myself some time away from it all. And now I’m back". For me, the process of work on my piece was painful, but the completion was a very satisfying outworking of what had been in my head and I also have the pleasure of knowing that the piece has been used in worship by the mayBe community.
I obviously still have warm and fuzzy ideas about retreat, since I have just booked a four-day walking retreat on Dartmoor in May. I’m braced for aching joints and muscles, blisters, insect bites, dehydration, hypothermia; but please can I skip the meeting me bit and just get to the communion with God bit.
Sunday, 13 January 2008
However, I have recently been inspired by the vast numbers of creative blogs out there - notably knitting, but other things too and thought it might be a good way of reviewing my work and encouraging myself that I have actually done something.
So, just to get me started:
I finished a quilt I had been working on since moving to Bristol
I did quite a bit of knitting for babies.
At the end of the summer I did some indigo dyeing and now have a pile of fabrics I need to do something else with:
For Christmas I was given two skeins of silk cashmere from SkeinQueen (Thanks M&J) which I have knitted into a pretty scarf.
This has taken me so long to get into anything like a format I am prepared to publish that I don't know how long it will take me to come back, but I think I'm just going to have to post as it is and tweak later.