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?