Wednesday 28 December 2011

moving along

Well, I’ve not been working at this everyday, but I feel like these pages have reached that ‘done enough’ stage: Scanned Image  0096

In a way I’m disappointed with myself, because I think the bunnies could do with some watercolour, but I just can’t be bothered. (I mean the bunny paperchain there, not the bunny sticker that is from the Flow magazine as recommended by Caatje) Maybe when I get the watercolours out to add background colour to more pages, I’ll try adding a bit to these. But right now, I’m going to work on the next two pages: Scanned Image  0097

The milkshake picture is just tucked in at the moment, and will probably end up on the green page. I love the green-pink colour combo. There’s the prospect of going for a curry tomorrow, so it may get some work on the bus to Ashton.

Saturday 24 December 2011

It’s Winterval!

Birmingham City Council came up with the term Winterval back in 1997, and I don’t care if I am the only person in the two universes who loves the word. It combines winter, carnival and interval, which is what I want at this time of year. Because I’m off work but not going anywhere, it just has a very different feel to the rest of the year.

So, after my last commute of the year, this is how the journal is looking: Scanned Image  0095

These pages feel a bit boring, but maybe that is just part of the un-finished-ness of them. My plan for Winterval is to keep working on the journal but to time box it to only 30 minutes a day. I can’t really explain why that seems like a good idea, but I don’t want to not work on it, and I also don’t want to burn out my enthusiasm on my first day off. We'll see how it goes...

Sunday 18 December 2011

done enough

Here’s how that first page is looking now: Scanned Image  0094

I feel like it could do with some stickers or something, but it’s done enough as it is. It’s like, yeah, I could go back and add stuff if I come across something that would fit, but it’s time to move on to the next pages: Scanned Image  0093

I hadn’t realized that the first page would be visible behind the following pages. I’ll treat that as a feature rather than a problem. The project is feeling fun now; I worked on it a bit when we were going for a curry this afternoon.

Saturday 10 December 2011

starting the art journal

I feel like I've not managed to do much with the journal this week. It hasn't kept my attention for an entire trip to/from work, and I feel like I'm spending more time thinking about what to do with it than actually just playing. Anyway, here's how it looks now:


It looks a bit bare at the moment, and I'm having a bit of an odd week next week, so I'm not sure when it will feel 'finished'. Hopefully I won't get stuck on the first page for a whole month.

I'm taking a trip to Utrecht next week and the plan is to travel very light, so the journal may just stay at home for a few days. I feel like that isn't in the spirit of having a journal, but I want to have room in the luggage to bring home Miffy stuff.

Sunday 4 December 2011

no novel now

My November novel writing hasn't resulted in a novel. At the end of the month, I'm still just reaching the climax of the story, and it is way too short. I love the nanowrimo's stats section, though:
You can see in this screen shot exactly when I caught a cold and went from just being behind to being way behind. Still, I did manage to write a bit almost every day, and I feel good about that. I want to try to finish the story, for completeness, but I don't want to stress out about it, I just want to relax.

I'm feeling particularly lucky to be alive, because one of the people I work with died of cancer this week. It's one of those sad things when a nice person dies young, and though we all knew she was seriously ill, it is still somehow a shock.

My next bus craft project is to start an art journal. I used to do stuff like this what seems ages ago, but more recently I've been in a mindset where I wanted to work out ideas or try to improve my skills rather than just playing with paper and colours. After reading a sweet little series of encouraging tutorials on Caatje's Artsy Stuff, I felt like it would be just the sort of relaxing fun I could do with right now. So this weekend I dug out an old address book I had already pasted some pictures in, and started painting background colours. I'm not sure how well this will work as a craft on public transport, but it seems like a good idea at the moment.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Not adding up to 50,000

It's day 13 of the Nanowrimo, and I've got 17,652 words in my document. Their handy graph says I should be at 21,666 by now, but considering that I was 5,000 words behind at the start of the weekend, and now I'm only 4,000 behind, I'm not feeling bad about it. Their widget says I need to write 1,798 words to finish on the 30th, and that my average words per day is 1,357. It would be hard to finish on time, but not impossible.

The real problem is that I've already written 7 of the 12 scenes I have down in my notes. If I'm doing the maths right to calculate average words per scene, then I'll finish the story after writing only around 25,000 words. What do I do for the other half of the novel? Do I move on to write a sequel, or go back and add extra stuff? Actually, I'm not going to worry about that, and just concentrate on keeping at the writing until it's done.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Finished project: indigo square

indigo square

Yes, it's done and ready to hand over at the next Guild meeting. Seeing it finished, I do like the intense texture of it. P is reminded of Van Gogh's Starry Night. The polka dot pattern shows at the edge, which looks a bit odd but not awful.

But where are the beads? Well, when I finished the couching, I did try scattering some small (plastic) pearls and some clear seed beads on it, but the beads stood out from the threads, when I had imagined they would blend in. So a final bit of learning on the piece: beads at the end stand out, not blend.

the AeolusFinishing early did mean I didn't have any crafting to do while taking the bus to see the Aeolus Acoustic Wind Pavilion while it was at Salford. It is such a neat sculpture! I had expected it to sound like a flute, but it makes a more science fiction atmospheric sound. I had missed it when it was at Lyme Park, so it was a great treat to see it on the last day of the Manchester Science Festival. If you find out it is on tour near you, I recommend you see it.

So, with the indigo square done and just one more day until November, am I ready to Nanowrimo? Oh, yeah!nanowrimo equipment I decided I needed a pencil case because my new bag seems to eat pens. They get sucked down into an inaccessibly narrow pocket, requiring far too much effort to get out again. So yesterday, I pop into one of the China Town gift shops, and found a pencil case shaped like a bus! It also has a girl with bat wings, and I've had a note about wearable bat wings to put in my story for about two months now. It's as if fate is guiding me.


Wednesday 19 October 2011

Sudden deadline

I realized yesterday that it’s only two weeks until November. I’m aiming to do the Nanowrimo again (I’ve got my basic plot and lots of notes, but I’m not sure I have the required level of enthusiasm to get through it); that mean my free time in November will be pretty much full of writing. So, I need to finish the indigo square before 1 November, or it won’t be complete in time to go to the show in February. Here’s what needs doing:

  • finish 2 corners

  • fill 5 holes

  • fill in a 4x2 cm gap

  • add some beads (this is optional, but was in my original ‘plan’)

  • mount on the thankfully pre-cut card

The clock is ticking! (And I'm on my last bit of indigo thread; will black thread work well enough? Only one way to find out...)

Thursday 13 October 2011

No reprieve

I couched down the last bit of my collected denim string, and when I ravelled some more string from the piece of denim I had ready for this project, it was instantly clear that the scrap was much less worn and therefore darker than what I had been using. It was the perfect excuse to stop work on the indigo square. After all, I couldn’t possibly have two shades of indigo on the same square, oh no, no, no.

So, I get all excited about my next project! I want to try using the paper patchwork technique to make a little heart ornament, with each half of the heart (front and back) in a different fabric. I had my four half heart paper shapes and quickly found three fabrics to use. Then fate interrupted. The first box I looked in for a fourth fabric had a wide selection of denim scraps. And so, I’m still working on couching denim threads on this project that I’m determined to finish even though I’m sick of it! 

Sunday 9 October 2011


I’m still stitching on the indigo square. It has become a bit of an albatross. Every month, I tell myself that I’ll finish it in time for the next guild meeting, but then the meeting comes along, and it looks no closer to being finished.

Still, I can look at it as a learning process. For instance, I’ve learned that couching doesn’t stand out on polka-dot fabric, and that it isn’t a quick filling stitch. I’ve also discovered that it’s easier to coil a bit of thread and stitch that down than to fill a circle with couching.

Also, I’ve discovered an advantage to embroidering on the bus: the light is very good. Generally, I think of the bus as a challenging environment to craft in. But as I was stitching on my sofa yesterday, with the overhead light and reading light on, I still struggled to see the indigo thread against the indigo fabric to thread into the needle. It struck me that though it’s hard to thread a needle on a moving bus, it is easy to see what you’re doing. Not surprising, as the buses have as much window space as possible, giving lots of natural light, I just hadn’t realized it before. So even when you’re working on a project you’re totally sick of, there’s still something new to learn.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Feeling better

Here's an update on my indigo square:

indigo embroidery progress

I haven't been working on this much during the summer. The couched denim didn't go with the background fabric as well as I thought it would, and so my motivation to work on it dwindled. Actually, my motivation to do anything got pretty low. I'm not sure exactly how or why, but I feel like I've been grumpier than I ought to have been.

I picked up the indigo square again and started filling in the gaps. Stitching it feels less creative,but I am liking the filled in areas. When I started it, I had hoped it would be done by last weekend. At the moment I feel good to just be working on it again.

Tuesday 16 August 2011


A couple of weeks ago, perhaps triggered by the new Conan movie publicity, I remembered having read a really good short story, not a classic, but something from the early pulp era that was just good entertainment. I wanted to re-read it, but I had no idea of the title, author or even the name of the characters, just that the setting had something to do with Atlantis and the main character's wife was from somewhere else, like maybe Mu or Lemuria. Anyway, I read a lot of interesting Wikipedia pages about fantasy authors, but nothing that led to this particular story. So I gave up, having no further clues to investigate.

Then the other day, I was looking over P's Michael Moorcock collection for the one with the pearl and the girl in the tent (that would be enough to figure out which book I'm looking for if Mr Moorcock hadn't written a bazillion books) when I noticed the words "Edited by Lin Carter" on Flashing Swords! 2 (exclamation point in the title, I wasn't that excited at the time). That's one of the interesting early fantasy authors I had read about in my short story search. Curious, I opened the book, and the first story was the one I had remembered so vaguely: L Sprage de Camp's The Rug and The Bull. I read it on the bus yesterday and it is as good as I remembered.

Perhaps it's my age, but I do find it marvellous how much information is available on the internet, and I'm also amazed at how challenging it is to find the exact information I'm after. Though I should add that I've not been at my sharpest for a while. I'm not sure if that's due to work related stress, the weather, too much/little tea, or what; but as I'm not at my sharpest, it's probably not the best time to try to figure it out. However, after the triumph of finding the story, I'm hoping things will perk up again, and maybe I'll feel up to finishing that embroidery I put down almost two months ago.

Wednesday 22 June 2011


I feel I'm in a bit of a rut blog-wise, always starting with a picture then a bit of text, but I also don't have any better layout ideas at the moment, so here's the picture:

makings of an indigo square

That's the ingredients for my current project. A few years ago, the Manchester branch of the Embroiderers Guild made yellow squares as part of a rainbow squares project for a regional meeting. Now we've decided to do the rest of the rainbow. I signed up to make an indigo square. My basic idea is to couch swirls of threads taken from some old denim. In my imagination it looks a bit like Van Gogh's Starry Night. I suspect that the reality will be a bit less impressive, but I'm curious to see what it ends up like. Not so curious that I'm working really hard at it, though. I pulled the ingredients together on Sunday night, but it was only today that the stitching got started.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Finished project: knitted rug

little rug

I’ll do this project review in reverse order, because the ugly bit is the most interesting. The above image is the finished knitted rag rug I’ve been working on for ages. When I put it down on the floor, I thought “Nice. Especially like the red stripes.” When my P saw it, he said “It’s hideous.” (Our relationship is obviously built on honesty.) Though I like the colours, I can see how they wouldn’t appeal to everyone, and I already knew the person I share my life with does have different colour preferences. Usually we can find something we are both happy with. But what to do in this case? I don’t want to throw it out, but I also don’t want to force something hideous on my loved one. So, this project has in the end turned into a prototype. We’ll see how it works for a while (Does it slip too much? Does it wash well? Does it hold together? Does P get used to it after all?), then if we think we do want a knitted rag rug, I’ll let P choose which fabrics for me to use.

Now for the good: The knitted rug feels great. Even P said it feels good underfoot. It also uses up a lot of fabric. I think it took 2 yards plus an old shirt. I put this into the ‘good’ category because I really do have too much fabric at the moment.

The bad: It’s still a bit small as a rug. At 40 stitches, it barely fit on the needles I was using. Cloth doesn’t scrunch up as well as yarn, and some stitches popped off the needles (though I think I caught them all). When getting off the bus, I would have to stop towards the middle of a row to make sure the loops would all stay on the needles. Because I mixed three fabrics fairly randomly, I just knitted until it was all used up and I don't think it would work to add another section in totally different fabric to make the rug longer.

It's not given me a feeling of satisfaction to have it finished, but I think I'm just a bit tired of knitting. I’m having a day off tomorrow, but plan to start and exciting new embroidery project on Monday!

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Bit too small

knitted rag rug v1I've not been working hard on the knitting, but it seemed to be going along alright. The patterns and colours are blending nicely, and the texture of the knit feels great. Then I took a look at where I'm planning to put the rug, and it's just a bit too small. Those are my P's boots in the picture, to give a sense of scale. After a bit of thinking, I've decided to unravel it and start again, but cast on 1.5 to 2 times as many stitches to start with, something closer to 50 stitches than 25. I'm not in a rush.

I've also been slowed down in the knitting by reading "After Dark" by Haruki Murakami. I just picked it up at the library because I liked the cover, but it's a great read. I was a bit, I think the term is nonplussed, though that is exaggerating, to discover Mr Murakami is such a popular and influential author, as I honestly hadn't a clue about his work. I liked the book so much that I rationed it, forcing myself to only read it for a little while at a time, to make it last longer.

Friday 29 April 2011

Leave it to the professionals

Self sufficiency is over rated. Though I instinctively admire the rugged frontiersmen and make do and menders, it isn’t just that it is difficult to be self sufficient, it’s also not that good. Interconnectedness is where it’s at.

Here’s my little-bit-of-life to illustrate the point. My P had a pair of trousers that he liked, but the zipper was broken. Somehow a few teeth were missing, so it was either throw out an otherwise perfectly good item of clothing, or find a way to replace the zip. Now, I can sew, but zippers intimidate me, and replacing zippers on trousers is just way to hard, but buttons, snaps or Velcro just won’t do. So the trousers languished, neatly folded, for around a year or two. I considered looking on the internet for tutorials on zippers, but I just knew it would be too hard. I’ll admit it here now: Not only can I not replace a zip, I will never be able to, not in my entire life. And that’s o.k.

But having an un-wearable pair of trousers just hanging around isn’t o.k. So, what to do? Pay someone else to mend them! I’d passed the sign for Suzanne’s Stitch and Sew in Stockport several times on lunch break shopping expeditions, so I knew the service was available, but somehow paying to have clothes mended felt odd, like my grandmother would be spinning in her grave. When I finally psyched myself up and took the trousers in, I was really happy with the price, the service and the end result. So, with a bit of not-doing-it-yourself, I have what I think of as a successful mending project. It’s off my to-do list and back in P’s closet; what more could I want?

Saturday 23 April 2011

Finished project: Make Do and Mend bag

Looking back, I started working on patching my Make do and Mend bag almost exactly one year ago. It feels longer, possilby because it was written on every to-do list for a year. Yesterday, I finally finished stitching the new lining in. This morning, I used it around the shops and going to the People's History Museum, and it held up just fine.

Make do and mended bag

Those aren't the bag handles sticking up- there's a brown bag with my current knitting project inside the Make do and Mend bag; the edge is just visible on the needles. The knitting hasn't been done on the bus, but I have been putting together the strips of fabric and winding it into a ball of "yarn" while commuting, and on the train after visiting a friend in Disley. It isn't easy to knit with fabric yarn, but it does feel nice.

The other side of the bag has some green and pink embroidery in a blackwork pattern.

Make do and mended bag

Overall, I'm happy with the project and I think I'll enjoy using the bag again. It did drag on. When I started, I didn't realize I would need to line the bag. The lining was hard to figure out, and I'm sure there's better ways of doing it, but at least it is done. I have a new favourite phrase (from English as she is spoke), "A bad arrangement is better than a process." It describes my crafting a bit too well.

Sunday 17 April 2011

finished string of threads

It's been a while, but finally some progress to report. When I finally got around to cutting the toggles, I really enjoyed the whole making process, but the best bit is just having the thing done:

string of threads

Originally, I was thinking of this as a garland or banner, much fancier than the finished object which I am now referring to as a string of threads. I didn't trust myself to choose a good fabric for a banner, but simplifying it to just a white crochet chain made it feel do-able again. It does look cheerful, but the test will be if it encourages me to embroider more.

I've not been very crafty lately, on or off the bus. Some of that is just indecision. I have a real problem with using stuff up. For example, I have an idea to make a rug by knitting up some fabric strips. The internet has some fancy patterns, but I just want a simple project, preferable one without counting. So, just a simple knit, using up some of my stashed fabric (especially a particularly, um, difficult purple print), and getting a honestly useful small rug for the hall. Last weekend, I even did a little test piece, to check how knitting with fabric works (yes, it is harder than yarn, but not too difficult). I like how the knitted texture makes the fabric a much gentler colour. But rather than starting in on cutting the fabric, I started worrying that if I used it all on a knitted rug, I wouldn't be able to use it on any other potential project I may want to make in the future. Not on anything I'm already planning, but on some ambiguous possibility. This is not a helpful way of thinking. So after a week of really pointless delay, I'm going to force myself to just get on with the project. Here's a look at what I'll be working with:

fabric  yarn

Monday 14 March 2011

Butterfly returned

woven butterflyThis butterfly was my contribution to the display the Manchester branch of the Embroiderer's Guild had at the Stitch and Creative Crafts show in February. Some of the blanket stitch edging and antenae were done on the bus, but mostly it was a home sewing project. Weaving with ribbons is AWFUL! They are slippery and fiddly and no fun at all. Well, ribbons are fun, but I found the weaving frustrating. I think I made it even harder by using ribbons of different thicknesses. Live and learn.

The piece was returned at the March meeting and is now stored away. I have a possilby mad idea of making a quilt with a garden of eden theme, and this butterfly may be part of that.

I think I started making the butterfly last September, but I'm not sure because I can't find a mention of it on my blog. I also missed doing a yearly overview in September, but while tidying my bedroom shelf I found my notes for the review, so with the idea that late is better than never:

  • from 15/07/10 I did get the divider shelf made and it is working nicely

  • from 10/06/10 I'm still not working on the comic, and it's still nagging at me. I know I'll never get better at drawing if I don't start practicing, but I just can't seem to find the way to motivate myself to just start in on it.

  • from 27/06/10 The quilt with text is  'Punctuation' by Sara Impey, found thanks to the Travels in Textiles blog that I've been following

  • from 16/06/10 That Make do and Mend bag is still not mended, but I'm still working on it. How much longer can it take? I dread to think.

  • Not made anything at the Fab Lab. Hopefully it will still be around when I'm finally ready to make something.

  • Also, I quickly gave up on tagging my blog posts. Not best practice, but it just feels too hard to think about meta content. Content is hard enough. (Why do I do something hard for fun?)

Sunday 27 February 2011

Garland Prototype

O.k., this is what should have been done first:

prototype for thread garland

The last idea on the list- making a toggle from plastic bits- seemed the best one. It's like a legal tag, not one of my favourite bits of stationery, but a tried and tested fastener. Also, it uses up stuff I've horded and doesn't require buying anything at all! Win-win, as they say.

The toggle is made from the little tube from the squirter bit in a deoderant bottle, pierced by a thumb tack then trimmed down to size. The plastic tube is easy to punch through and the hole made is easy to get a threaded needle through. Win-win, again!

The thread shank is made by pulling the thread through the fabric, then the hole punched in the tube, tieing it around the toggle square knot-style so there's a shank length, going back into the fabric, holding the toggle so both lengths of the shank are the same and doing a little back stitch knot. Easy. A normal hole punch at the top of the cardboard spool to attach it with. Easy. Not sure if it's a win-win, because the aesthetics come into play here, and this prototype does look rough.

I like where this is going. Needs a bit of measuring, and I'll need to find the right fabric to use. Not sure if I want to pretty up the toggle or not. I could try putting beads on each end, running the tread through the tube to give it a bit more colour, but I kind of like the way it looks now, a bit rough and functional, not fussy. I feel like it's enough to be getting on with.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Flaw in my plan

I've wound 9 and a half spools or bobbins of embroidery thread, but it then dawned on me that I don't know how to hang them in a garland. My original vision probably featured fancy ribbon with neat little bows, but it's highly unlikely that I'll ever tie a neat little bow. I did gather together some paperclips, thinking I could thread them through a hole in the cardboard spools, then attach them to a ribbon or a strip of fabric. But think about that a bit. Paper clips are easy to use with paper, nice thin and stiff substance that it is, but they aren't so easy to get on and off of fabric. Now remember, the reason for the garland is to encourage me to use the embroidery thread, and if it is a hassle to get the thread off, it won't be much of an encouragement!

I've been thinking about the problem, and here's a list of my ideas so far:

  • bend the paper clips into hooks (how? and how would they work?)

  • use old curtain hooks (but they are u-g-l-y)

  • tacks (how to attach to fabric? but would be good on a board)

  • screws (see above for tacks)

  • picture hooks (could stitch through the hole and secure with a bead)

  • little buttons, very little

  • mini toggles cut from plastic tubes from spray bottles (the coat I've been wearing has toggle fasteners, so that's where this idea came from)

It was a mistake to start on the project without a good idea of how to do it, and that has dampened my enthusiasm. While the problem spins around in my brain, I'm also reading a book on Celtic Art during my commute, or rather, looking at the pictures. On the way home today, there was also the amusing drunk Irishman, "Tallest of 11, 7 sisters, 1 brother, and my Ma and Pa, and I was the tallest. And I'm only 5ft5! Bless my Ma and Pa for having me!" I probably shouldn't admit how funny I found him.

And a neat thing while I was walking home- the Aris fans were filling Store Street on the way to City's grounds, and they looked like a life size version of Gormley's A Field for the British Isles. The link is to the Field for America, I think, but they all look pretty much the same to me.

Thursday 17 February 2011


The thread wrapping is going too quickly. By Tuesday, I had wrapped all the spools I had cut from an old tea box. So now I need more spools and a plan for the garland/banner/hanging thingumy before I can make progress on this project.

But the pause in crafting has allowed for some good people watching. Going home yesterday, two young children and their mom were heading home from swimming. They were eating crisps and a bit loud and excited, but the mom was managing them. My attention was caught by this bit of their conversation:

Mom: No, the flowers aren't toys. They were just for the protest, so I could find you in the crowd.

This concept was explained further, but the children found fault with it.

Child 1: But what if another child had a flower? Would you take them home instead?
Mom: No, I'd still recognize you.
Child 1: How?
Mom: I'd recognize your cute little faces. (That isn't a paraphrase, she really did say that exactly.)
Child 1: But what if the other child was cute?
Mom: I'd recognize you by your voice.
Child 2 (between crisps): But what if they had mouths like us and sounded like us?
Mom: I'd recognize you by your coats.

Do you see the pattern in this conversation? Well, it did go on and on. I had to look away and cover my mouth to keep from giggling, and so I notice the older woman sitting in front of me was also following the coversation. I only saw a bit of her face, but it had such a beautiful, sweet, nostalgic expression, that it made the situation even more touching. The conversation finally ended with:

Mom: Yes, if they had a flower, and the same coat, and sounded the same, and had the same bracelet, then I probably would have taken them home instead.

The bus was later graced by giggling teenagers, not nearly as entertaining.

Saturday 12 February 2011

favourite colours 1

One of my 40 Things projects is to find 40 of my favourite colours. What's this "40 Things" you may be wondering? Well, this is the year I turned 40, and so rather than do a New Years Resolution, I put together a list of 40 Things to do 40 times, or with 40 different stitches, or some other count to 40. One of the things on my list is 40 Favourite Colours. I'm sometimes jealous of people who have a definite favourite colour. I generally like green, and I can remember both blue and red being favourites at different ages. For a while now, I haven't felt an affection for any given colour. Also, I've lost confidence in choosing colours. So, identifying 40 colours that I genuinely like seems like a fun and helpful project.

colours of yarn

Anyway, to get back to the story, at the Guild meeting last weekend, another member had brought in a bag of yarn to give away. I'm still trying to get rid of stuff, but I just loved the colours in the tangle of yarn. Luckily, the yarn was mostly scraps, and fairly short lengths at that. I pulled out a sample of the colours in a tangle I particularly liked, and rolled them up into little balls on the bus (to the great amusement of an elderly man who sat beside me one evening; he actually chuckled when he saw what I was doing). I had originally thought of displaying them in a small frame, but I don't have a frame to hand, so they will live in a bag in my yarn pile for a while yet. I'm now thinking I should have two frames- one of tidy balls and another of the same yarns all tangled up. But maybe I'm just making things too complicated.

I had a copy of Kevin McCloud's colour book from the library, and my best guess as to the colours of the yarns are:

  • pale orange-red

  • reddish purple

  • cobalt blue

  • grey with warm red

  • delicate pale beige

  • pink with blueish coolness

I'm surprised at liking a purple-brown combination, though one of the browns is technically a grey and another is an orange. It seems I'm also surprized by which colours they actually are.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Not like the others

extra mendingThe mending on the parsnip bag needed some touching up. The duct tape at the top was pulling away from the fabric, taking the plastic lining with it. You can see this a bit in the photo here. I noticed this, oh, about two weeks agao, but it was only Friday night that I decided to stitch a few more parsnips while at the Embroiderers Guild meeting on the weekend.

But, because when I opened my bag of thread the white and green I had used before didn't just jump into my hand (still don't know where I put them), I decided it would be alright to use the white and green threads that I could find. It does bother me a bit that the threads don't match exactly, but I'm trying to be cool with it. I know that if someone else were to ask my advice, I'd say use the threads you have and just get stitching. So, it's a wee bit hippocritical of me to be bothered when my own parsnips aren't colour matched. (Note that even if I had found the right threads, the colours would still be off until the new parnips got as dirty as the old ones!)

I've been playing with the idea of using my bus-time to sort my embroidery threads. A tidy box arranged in a spectum really doesn't appeal to me. In fact, that level of organization freaks me out. But my un-sorted ziplock bag of threads isn't that nice either. I like the idea of arranging them on a banner or garland, so they could be on display, looking cute, as well as being ready to use. Hmmm...

Sunday 6 February 2011

Knitting failure and nightmares

I must remember for next winter that this is just a bad time of year for me. Good things happen, but I’m just not fully functional when it’s cold and dark. Last year, I only managed 2 blog posts by the end of February, and that seems about right for my energy levels at this time of year.

The knitted beret was a total failure. I have a feeling the pattern is fine, but my knitting skills aren’t! My ‘beret’ was a misshapen, uneven bag. Definitely too many rows, and possibly more than a few missed stitches as well- my concentration wasn’t up for the (honestly quite simple) task. In my defence, the chenille yarn didn’t show stitch definition, so I wasn’t able to see my mistakes and correct them as I went along. Also, though the final knit does feel lovely, the yarn wasn’t especially nice to handle while knitting. That surprised me, but it is worth knowing as the making experience is important to my enjoyment of the final product. Anyway, my current bus project is pulling the whole thing out and winding it back into a ball.

Now for the nightmare bit. No, the knitting isn’t related to the nightmares, as far as I can tell.

I’m one of those people who don’t remember their dreams well, but I do have nightmares that repeat the same motifs or tropes. Logically, it may see that repeated exposure would make those elements less frightening, but that just isn’t the way dreams work, now, is it? In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a new recurring nightmare element: leaving “something” on the bus. The “something” isn’t precisely defined, there’s just a feeling of dread that it was left on the bus. These aren’t hag-ridden nightmares, but definitely bad dreams that I’m glad to wake up from. I’ve commuted by train, metro and, in ages past, by car, but this is the first time I’ve had repeated nightmares about leaving something behind. Something new every day, eh?

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Starting the new year

Not particularly well. I didn’t complete any of the other four things over the break:

  • The mend bag lining is underway. I gave up on trying to figure out the best way to do it, and just started on it.

  • The wire baskets do have covers, but need lids before they can move to the top of the shelves to collect dust/expand my storage area.

  • I did think about the mermaid story, but didn’t go beyond the thinking about it stage.

  • Didn’t even touch the clanger.

And on my first commute of the year, though I have a new knitting project to start (link found via whip-up), I decided to not fill my bag with yarn so I could do some shopping today instead. This is the year I’ll turn 40, and I’d like to do lots of stuff to mark that, but at the moment I’m still feeling worn down, even after 10 days off work.

But it is a new year, still fresh, so to avoid whining any more, I’ll point out that it’s the year of the rabbit (thanks for the info Maki), and a friend at the office shared this with me before we broke up for Christmas. She’s going through a lightning obsession with paper models. She gave me a printout which I saw again this morning, so I’ve finally taken it home to play with.

Happy New Year!