Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sneaking up to Santa Time

I'm at that slightly frustrating time in the making calendar for someone who loves to blog. It's nearly Christmas. I'm doing lots of making, but it's mainly for gifts. And I hate to spoil the surprise for my friends. At the same time I don't like to leave a blank here either. So I guess I'll post the occasional sneak peak.
This migrated from my knitting needles to my blocking board this morning, via a warm soak in the bathroom basin. Tomorrow I'm hoping to turn it into its final form.
Just to complicate matters, it seems that either my computer or my internet connection doesn't want to play nicely this morning. So I may need to shift my focus there. That's not nearly as much fun as making gifts!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Bonus and a Challenge

I had a market yesterday at Sussex Neighbourhood House. I've done several markets recently--since doing the Make Craft Your Business course. I still have lots to learn and decisions to make about where I want to go with my textile art. Being out and about with my work is one of the best aspects of a market for me. I love to interact with people about my craft and to see how they respond to my work.
Yesterday's market brought an unexpected bonus. I came home with this dress manequin.
I've been wanting a manequin for a couple of reasons. If I'm going to sell my work online, I need a way of photographing it in context. A live model would be ideal. A dummy is the next best thing. As I discovered while trying to snap this pic, even finding a suitable spot in my house without too much background clutter is a challenge. And I'd like this to tone in with the other display props I've been making for myself. So at the very least I'm thinking I'll cover it with calico.
Then there's a question of body image and reality. That's a much bigger challenge--in more ways than one. One of the reasons this manequin was on offer is that she's quite a small size. I measured the waist and bust when I got home. I don't think I've ever been that size as an adult--never!
An obvious use for a dress manequin is to assist in dressmaking. But that's no use unless the manequin's shape and my body shape bear some resemblance to each other. Even if I'm only going to use it for display purposes, I don't want to fall into the trap of portraying an impossible body as an ideal. So the reality of this slim form is going to have to be fleshed out somehow.
I don't have a plan yet, but I have some ideas. I'm thinking of bubble wrap as a first layer. That will keep it light. Then maybe a some quilt wadding offcuts and some old clothes to give me a layer that's good for taking pins. I'll finish it off with a stitched calico shell. Hopefully that will give me a neat finish. I don't have any markets for the next month or two, so I guess I just found myself a challenge to keep me busy. 

Edited to add:
I've just found this tutorial and am adding it here for future reference. It sounds as though the critical issue is that the dress form should be smaller than me. So I'm off to a good start.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Exploring and Translating

I'm not a great traveller. I have grown up in an increasingly multi-cultural nation, in a family where English was a second language. So I am familiar with the challenges, oddities and impossibilities of translation. As an artist I'm forever exploring new territory--resorting to sign language where necessary in my attempts to understand and be understood.

This term I've had a bit more of a chance to explore working with clay. One of the local Neighbourhood Houses offered a one-off workshop to make clay beads. It went so well, that an ongoing class grew out of it. It's a whole new world for me. I'm intrigued by the possibilities. This morning I needed to unwind. And I had a bit of porcelain clay waiting on my table.

I made this.
I started off with a basic pinch-pot. Then I thinned out one side of the bowl a bit more. The pleats came next. Unlike fabric, clay doesn't easily form a crisp fold. Next I shaped the other side of the bowl, then worked the lower part to the point that I hope it will be translucent when fired.  I fiddled and refined as much as I could, never quite sure when communication between myself and my chosen medium would break down completely. I think we're still on speaking terms.
I'm happy with what I've managed to form. I can see things that could be improved, but am not confident enough to push it any further just yet. My plan is to bring this to class next week and see what the teacher has to suggest. If it survives the firing process, I'm planning to use it to hold a candle. Now there's something I couldn't say nearly so well in my usual language of textiles. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

As You Wish

My friend AMR is a self-confessed geek. She is one of the most intelligent people I know. And she has that slightly twisted geeky sense of humour. So I wasn't too surprised when her Christmas wish list included a request for a pi shirt.

"What is a pi shirt?", you ask? I asked the same question. My friend google soon provided an answer. It's a t-shirt decorated with symbols and numbers related to pi--that mathematical idiosyncrasy which describes the ratio between a circle's circumference and its diameter. There are plenty on the market. But you know me--why would I pay for something ready made when I can customise my own version? Besides, even though the layouts are very clever, a lot of the t-shirts are black, boxy and boring. I hope I can do better than that.

I started by checking A's size and preference in t-shirt colours and styles. Then I tracked a suitable one down at a clearance outlet for a few dollars. That way if something goes wrong I can always just try again. I already have lovely fine printable cotton fabric which goes like a dream in my inkjet printer.

Now for a bit of maths. I found a file of pi to one thousand decimal places. That should be enough to make a geek pretty happy and fill the background of my design. Next a diagram and formula. I don't have fancy design software, but Publisher was able to do what I needed. I overlayed the diagram and formula in black over a page full of numbers. I was able to match the ink colour quite nicely to the t-shirt colour.

Here's where the project is up to this morning.
Now I have to soak the printed fabric to get rid of any excess ink. When it's dry I'll use my lightest iron-on interfacing and finish it off by stitching the printed panel to the t-shirt. The final challenge will be holding back until Christmas day to see how it's received. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Festival Day

My day at the Merlynston Diverse Voices Festival was close to ideal.
I spent the day spinning and demonstrating to people of all ages.
The weather was fine. The people were friendly, helpful and genuinely interested in my work.
There was a great group of children who kept coming back to see what I was doing. Several of them had a go on my CD drop spindle. One girl--aged about 9, I think--stuck with it for a couple of hours until she had mastered the skill and then bought a kit to take home.
A woman told me she had "sheering a sheep; spinning and knitting a jumper from the fleece" on her bucket list. She too got started with a kit.
I had knitting needles and wool available so knitters could contribute to the bunting project.
I enjoyed watching people pick over the items on my stall, choosing just the right one out of the variety of colours, textures and sizes. I sold enough to justify the day in financial terms--it was already more than justified in terms of human value. I just wish I could find more opportunities like this in my neighbourhood. If I can't find them, maybe I'll have to help to create them.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lighter Things

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. I spent the morning supporting a friend in court--again. Once that was over I desperately needed to unwind. Morris and Sons was a short walk away. I had a few things on my shopping list and a few more on my wish  list. There was a sale on my favourite knitting needles. And I'm starting to get to know some of the staff there. All in all, a visit to the wool shop turned out to be a bigger priority than food. I think I made a good choice.

One of the staff proudly wears this tattoo.
I'm not usually a big fan of tattoos, but this made me smile. And some of her other body-art, though harder to photograph, is profound. If there had been a cafe, I would have been tempted to stay. But I'd spent more than my budget already and had follow up to do from the mornings developments. And I did need some food. So I moved on, with a lighter heart and purse.
Tomorrow is the Merlynston Diverse Voices Festival. Despite a tough week, I'm looking forward to it. If you'd like to have a go at some bunting, I'll have spare needles and wool available. The music should be great. And the Merlynston community is vibrant and welcoming. I'd love to see you there: Bain Reserve on Merlyn St. It's the Village Green near the train station. The Street Parade kicks off the day at 11.00 am.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bitten by Bunting Bug

Up until last week I had managed to avoid catching the bunting bug. "It's cute", I thought, "but I dont' have to go there." This weekend that changed.
I received an email from the organisers of the Merlynston Diverse Voices Festival. I'm going to have a stall there next weekend, so I was already interested in whatever they're doing. It turns out there are a bunch of knitters involved in creating a long string of bunting to drape around the Merlynston Progress Hall. Knitted bunting! Who knew?
Saving the Merlynston Progress Hall is a major community focus. Making a knitted contribution hooked me right in.
The pattern is courtesy of the UK Womens' Weekly. It's a neat little knit: stocking stitch with shaped decreases. Easy enough to stitch through without any stress; interesting enough to hold my attention for the number of minutes required to get it done in one sitting. I thought I'd start with just one. Next day, I've made three and I'm dying to cast on another. They're due in tomorrow, so maybe not. Then again, they might be able to add to the bunting on the day. And it's an ongoing project, so it's never too late to join in.
Of course, while I'm knitting away, I'm designing alternatives in my head: different stitch patterns; big bunting; little bunting; crochet bunting; what about a double-knit version! So I think I've caught the bunting bug. I don't know if there's a cure. What's more, I don't care!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Time and Travel

Somehow in the last ten years or so some of the discarded objects of my childhood years have become desirable. With labels like "retro" and "vintage", these everyday objects are now attractive, relatively rare and possibly valuable. It's taking me a while to catch up with the trend. And, having moved house more times than I care to count in my young adult years, I have few relics of those early days. So it was that I found myself scouring the back shelves of Vinnies yesterday in a hunt for suitcases.
I'm planning to share a stall with a few others at the next Made 'n' Thornbury Market. We need a way to tie our diverse product ranges into a unified display. Old suitcases could be the way to go. I didn't own any. Now I do. Thankfully these were sold to me as just old so I got them for a price I was willing to pay. I'd like do a bit of patching and cleaning without investing too much time and energy. If we decide to go with some other display theme they will be useful for storing my wares. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Something New

There's always something new around here! This time it's a badge machine.
I have hired it over the long weekend. I've just done a few practice badges using cut outs from a magazine. It's as easy as everybody said it would be. The woman who rents it out said her four year old could do it. Now I believe her.
So I'm off to the studio to look for likely candidates to be turned into badges. Christmas is coming. I have lots and lots of novelty fabrics in my collection. There are hand-dyes, silks and all sorts of other precious bits and pieces. This is going to be fun!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Armchair Mini

Now that I've had some improvement in my elbow situation, I'm back to working on the baby blanket. Thankfully I have plenty of time for this project. Baby isn't due until March next year. And it's a Queensland baby, so I doubt that there will be much demand for woollen blankets until a few months after that.

I've said this before, but it's a truth that never fails to delight me, so I'll say it again. I love, love, love the process of making. Especially a project like this, which is imbued with significance. While I'm stitching there's a constant undercurrent of thoughts about the baby; the Mum and Dad; the wider family; the pregnancy so far; the potential . . . At a visual level I'm thinking about the yarn, the colours I've used and the ones to come. The whole experience has it's own rhythm dictated by the stitches I'm forming in my fingers.
I call these blankets armchair projects because that's where I sit while I stitch. That's practical. Even a miniature blanket like this involves eight different balls of wool. This one is small enough, though, that I could pick it up and move to a cooler environment as the weather warms up. It's also an "armchair" project because of the relaxed attitude I like to take with it. A few rows here and a few rows there, often accompanying my morning coffee or favourite music. So, it's a miniature blanket with a big place in my heart. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Breakfast--and the Meaning of Life

My first task for this morning was to mix up my breakfast cereal. That process got me thinking about my art-making. What's the connection between breakfast and art? I'm glad you asked.
Let me tell you what goes into my breakfast cereal. Basically it's porridge, but there's more to it than you might see at first glance:
  • rolled oats
  • oat bran
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • rolled rye flakes
  • quinoa flakes
Oh and water of course. I heat that up, let it sit for a while, then heat it up some more until it just bubbles nicely. Then I add a combination of psyllium husk, LSA meal and brown linseeds. A good bit of skim milk and I'm ready to go. Usually I leave it at that, but I could add, fruit or nuts or honey when the fancy takes me.

What I'm talking about is a combination of simplicity and complexity. When I spin my yarn, I'm aware of the origins of the fibre. The wool might be from a farmer I know. There might be a bit of silk mixed in; or bunny fibre. When I dye I mix and match colours. Say I want blue--I often want blue--there might be five different blues in the pot. So there are layers of colour, just as there are layers of flavour and texture. And usually there are a sequence of processes.

It's fun and interesting and varied. And it's satisfying. It keeps me going all day. So, now I've had breakfast. It's time for coffee and a day of making.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear Anonymous, I Don't Know What to Do

Dear Anonymous
Some of my best friends are Anonymous. They don't have a profile that my blog recognises. I love the fact that they read my blog. I want to hear what they have to say.

Maybe some friends I have yet to meet prefer to be Anonymous too. I don't often touch on controvertial subjects in this blog. But there may be things you want to say that you'd rather not put your name to. I can understand that.

But some of you Anonymous posters must be desperate! Every day I receive several messages linking me to all sorts of things that I'm not interested in. I try to respond consistently. "Mark as Spam" is my most used button of all time. Still you persist in your unwanted attentions. What am I to do?
I don't want to treat you harshly, but I have better things to do than getting rid of unwanted comments from my blog. Yesterday I accidently hit the wrong button on my comment moderation page and ended up promoting pirated handbag designs and phone accessories on a post I'd written to welcome an old friend to my home. I don't like that. It could have been worse!

I'm pretty sure I could solve my problems by turning the "please prove you are not a robot" captcha feature back on in my blog. I turned it off when a friend of mine described it as "torture". I find that feature challenging on other people's blogs so I wanted to make it easier for everybody on my blog. Maybe that was a mistake.

I don't know what to do about my relationship with you, Anonymous. It's affecting my blog relationships in a variety of ways. So I'm writing this public letter. Maybe some-one can help us to find a happy way forward. Or maybe I just need to bite the bullet and ban Anonymous from my page.

Please help me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Warm Fuzzies

I've cut out the fur fabric for the Selat. This s a special birthday request from a teenager with attitude and a love of things Star Trek.
The last soft toy I made for her was a tiny teddy bear like the one in the picture. Oh--too many years ago! If I remember rightly it was pink and wispy. I couldn't help reminiscing just a little as the new creation starts to take shape.
E will finish her Secondary school career in the next week or so. She still loves fluffy and shiny things, but often with an unexpected twist. I do believe her chosen footwear for the end of school-year formal dinner-dance occasion is her beloved Converse. They will be tucked under the full-princess-with-sequins-and diamantes-floor-length skirt. Her feet are huge and why should she be uncomfortable! "No-one will be able to see my feet".
So I shouldn't be surprised that I'm working on something that would be a teddy bear if it wasn't for the extra tusks and tufts that will mark it as originating from the planet Vulcan--should I?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Wristies

I concentrated on display props and spring blooms for my recent market. These frilly wristies lingered on my needles. Today I've finished them off.
My earlier versions of these have all been in my handspun wool. These ones are a Bendigo 8-ply, hand-dyed by me. I'm particularly keen on how the colour has distributed to form little stripes in the finished result. That gets broken up in the ruffle to add to the playfulness of the overall result. It's going to be a wrench to put these on the "for sale" stack, but I do have plenty of happy wristies for myself.

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's my Elbow!

Unusual topic for today's post: it's my elbow. And not a particularly good shot at that. You should try taking a photo with your left hand in the bathroom mirror some time.
I've been having trouble with tennis elbow, aka gardener's-crafter's elbow--for about a year now. This isn't the place to moan and groan, but when I started waking at 2 am in the morning in pain I decided I'd had enough. With a fair bit of determination and more than a bit of luck I managed to escalate the problem fairly quickly.
Today I had an ultrasound-guided injection which I'm hoping will give me some relief--at least long enough to get started on suitable physio in a more focussed way. I'll know in a couple of days how it's gone. I will keep making things one way or another--even if I have to learn to crochet left-handed.
I promise my next post will be something more attractive!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Woman on a Mission

What does a craft-loving woman do after her first market stall. Rest and recover? I've done a bit of that. Now I'm embarking on a rather unusual mission. I've been asked to make a Sehlat. I had to ask for further information, not being a Star Trek fan myself. Here is the best picture I've been able to find.

You can find more information at the appropriate wiki if you're that way inclined.
It seems I'm looking for a teddy-bear-like creature with six inch fangs and a tufted tail. It just so happens that I have quite a variety of soft toy patterns. The grizzly bear from Marshall Cavendish's 101 Soft Toys seems to be a likely candidate. I'm going to get started tonight by tracing off the pattern. It's one of those old-style scale-up-each-square-to-2.5 cm kind, but I think I'll be using the photocopier instead. Once that's done I'll dig out some suitable fur. Hopefully there's enough in my stash essential fabric collection.
Would you believe, this isn't the most unusual request I have received. Some years ago I made a Veeblax for a nine-year old. The request was accompanied by drawings of  front and side views and special notes on the single protruding eye.
And if you've been wondering about my somewhat unusual silence here: I've spent several hours in the past couple of days on the phone to my internet service provider. I think it's all sorted out now.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Full Circle and a Little Rose

A market day generally takes me full circle in my making. It's like this. I like to sit and spin at the market. I find it  good way to pass the time; to demonstrate and discuss what I do and to be present without focussing too much on people's response to my work. Since it's such a busy and colourful environment and I could be interrupted at any time, I don't spin anything fancy: plain white wool tops are my favourite.
After the market the momentum has a tendency to slow down, but here I am with a partly spun bobbin of lovely white wool. So I have to finish it. Turns out that spinning is what I love--it's why I do this. When that's done I'll have a whole skein of lovely new yarn crying out for colour. Colour is also a strong motivator for me. And so the rhythm of making and offering what I've made for sale can go on. 
As for the tiny red rose, it was peaking out from among the weeds when I got home from my walk this morning. I love its courage and perfection--despite the spider's web and blackspot it was determined to bloom!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Morning After Market

It's the morning after the market and I'm in surprisingly good shape. Yes I'm tired, but that was to be expected. I feel a good momentum to continue with what I've started by participating in the Make Craft Your Business course a couple of months ago.

For those of you who couldn't be there--and for my own future reference--here's how the stall looked.
Apologies for the back-lit shot--that window does actually have a curtain across it and I did try using a fill-in flash, but mostly I was focussed on interacting with people on the day. You can just see the pedal of my spinning wheel on the far right. I spent most of the day spinning and chatting. I had enough sales to be encouraged and plenty of positive feedback. It was also great to see the work of my fellow students and the excitement of their first sales. I had the luck of sitting next to the table with the eftpos machine!
One feature of this market is the free kids craft. There were children galore! I enjoyed handing out tiny bits of soft fluffy wool and explaining how the spinning wheel works.
I have a few adjustments to make to my display before next time. Of course I have new ideas of things to make, but I plan to stick to a slower pace for a little while.
The next challenge will be setting up for some on-line sales.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Finishing Touches

I've been so busy tidying up loose ends for tomorrow's market, that I've nearly forgotten to blog. But here I am.
The only thing left on my list are to tie a few more business cards--they're printed, but I want to add the strand of handspun fibre to set it off.
A friend of mine is droppng in after work to have a look at my stall. I've got it all set up in the spare room. I want to add a few more details, but I'm deliberately working through in order of necessity to stop me rushing from one thing to another. I'll also need to head out to the shops one more time to see if I can track down some tablecloth clamps. They're proving surprisingly difficult to find so far. I've made a full length calico tablecloth and I just need a bit of extra insurance in case some-one accidentally steps on a trailing edge. Failing that I'll use some heavy duty clamps from my woodworking tools, but it would be nice to have something a little more subtle. Oh, and if I find myself with either time or adrenaline to spare this evening. I'll make up the lavender sachets. They haven't made it to the top of the list yet.
 Just in case I've sharing the details somewhere along the line:
Made 'n' Thornbury Market
10 am - 2 pm
99 Leinster Grove
There are kids' activities, home-baked sweets, coffee and soup and hand-made wares galore. And it's indoors, so there's no need to worry about the weather.
See you there.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I've been stitching up a veritable tornado in the past few weeks. It's been a lot of fun. Today I set myself the task of organising and pricing the things I have to sell at the market. If I waited until I'd put the last stitch into the last thing I could possibly make in a final burst of inspiration I'd end up with very little actually ready to sell or a sleepless night. Neither of those are good for me. So today--not tomorrow--is my day to get organised.
I've spread out all my crochet flower brooches; categorised them and checked prices. I only had to make a few changes. Now they're in bags ready to go. Ditto the knitted ones. There weren't many of those. Next are the--more recent--fabric flowers and felt and fibre necklaces. I'll need to buy or make some more tags before the end of today. Tomorrow morning I'll do a dress rehearsal of the stall set up. After that I can have as many last minute bursts of inspiration as I like--or not--the basic work will be done. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gift Cards

I've just come in from the studio for a quick lunch and a coffee. I'm making gift cards. Here's what I've achieved so far.
I've got quite a collection of cute little stamps and it's tempting to try them all, but I do need to manage some sort of efficiency, so I'm making about a dozen of each. Next I'll pull out some different fibres. Then I'll move on to some greeting cards.
I got some brooch backs stitched on before my morning walk. And there's a stack of finished pieces waiting for price tags. It's good to vary the tasks and alternate the more creative bits with the more mundane. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Model Magic

I've been working on paper mache display props for my stall at the Made in Thornbury Market this weekend. I figure paper mache gives me the reality of lumpy-bumpiness and asymmetry that we all enjoy in real life.
This manequin was originally white styrofoam and rather idealistic in it's shape. It then had a  time of being covered in newspaper--I've searched back through my blog and am surprised that I can't find a picture of it in that form. Now it's covered in brown paper and several coats of sealer to go with my new look.

I'm at the sorting and labelling phase of my market preparation. Though I can't guarantee that there won't be a burst of creativity or two yet before Saturday. And in case you've missed it somehow: you're invited! Please come to the market at 99 Leinster Grove, Thornbury. It's on from 10 am til 2 pm.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fantasy Flowers

One of the things I love about making things is that I can have any colour I like. Especially when I dye the fabric myself. Here's a green rose.
Unfortunately that truth doesn't quite apply to my photos yet --bring on the photoshop skills--the real thing is brighter and greener than this.
So I now have hand dyed cotton roses in magenta, yellow and blue. And there are more to come.
At some stage this week I'm going to have to stop making new things and concentrate on organising and labelling the things I've already made--but that's not going to be today. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Catching Up on Z's

It's the first day of daylight saving here in Melbourne. A funny concept when you come to think of it--reflecting our preoccupation with the clock. So according to the new clock I lost an hour of sleep last night. And I've had a cluster of--unusual for me--evening commitments lately. I've taken a slow morning as a result, followed by an after-lunch nap.

In between catching up on sleep I've been finishing off some of the display props for my market stall next week. I'll show you the paper mache creations once they've had a chance to dry and I've had a chance to retrieve my big table from under the pile of debris. There is enough space to show you this one:
Z is for Z Twist Art! It's painted and ready to draw attention to itself.
Now to celebrate what promises to be a sunny afternoon--and the extra hour of evening daylight--with a nice ride while the paint dries. I think I have a plan. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I've been playing with this ball of handspun merino plied with silk. It was one of those random little spinning experiments quite a while back. I love how the silk filament shines out of the softer fibre. Anyway, I had about 50 grams of it and no particular plan.
On the left is a "flower" of sorts based on the medallion idea I had a little while ago. What I didn't mention at the time is that this is yarn crocheted around a metal washer from the hardware store. I have to decide how to finish the centre.
The other little thing is only a few centimetres across. It's a tiny bit of needle weaving and I'm not quite sure where it's going, but I like the simplicity. Here it is in close up.
With the forecast maximum temperature half what it was earlier in the week, I'm glad to be playing with a warm orange colour. As you can see, there's a fair bit of it left--stay tuned. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Roses Galore

I'm continuing to make hand-dyed cotton roses. Meanwhile the garden is bursting into bloom.
So I have fabric roses on my table and recently picked rose blossoms hanging to dry. That's the next step of this year's Christmas pot pourri underway. I've been drying orange peel for quite a while already. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fresh Today

I've just popped in from my studio to post my latest makes.
Another felt and fibre necklace--I'm having lots of fun making these! And a new hand-dyed cotton rose brooch. There's good news on that front.   I've worked out that I don't need to iron the fabric or cut it neatly. Tearing off a strip of the right width works just as well. Now I can get on with some other colours.
And I've picked the first two real roses the Spring from my Lorraine Lee bush. It normally blooms way earlier than this, but I suspect there's been just a bit too much neglect in the garden lately.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New in Blue

I made another welcome visit to Beautiful Silks on the weekend. Having tried out the samples I'd picked up last time, I was ready to stock up. I'm very excited about this new fabric-yarn. It's a silk waste in the form of torn strips. Perfect for dyeing and mixing with all sorts of other lovely things. Here it is in blue, fresh from my dyepot.
I've promised myself some time in my studio this afternoon to start working with it--or should that be playing with it?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spring Zing

We've had a bit of a hiccup in the Spring weather here, with rumours of snow on the nearby hills in the past few days. Nevertheless I've been stitching away at a couple of little spring scarves for myself. Here's my favourite one still on my needles.
It's a Patons viscose-cotton blend called Sorrento. It reminds me of the eighties slubby cotton knit tops that a friend of mine used to wear. I'm just increasing at the beginning and end of every row to form a wide triangle. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I went out to my studio this morning to fix a necklace which I bought yesterday and before I knew it, I'd made this.
The big pearl is yet to be stitched into the centre and I may yet change some things, but I'm pretty happy with my quick burst of inspiration. It's a couple of inches across, so quite a big burst of colour and texture.
I also need to decide about whether to string this on a twisted cord, or ribbon or chain. In the spirit of my quick inspiration, could I have some quick feedback please. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Share the Like

I've joined the facebook community and set up a page for my textile art. I'd love it if you would join in and *like* me there.

I'm planning to continue my regular blogging, but there will be extra photos and other bits and pieces on my facebook page. It's a good place to have a bit of a conversation. If you'd like to be even more enthusiastic, you could share this with your own friends!
And just to make it easy for you to get to my facebook page, I've added a badge at the top of my sidebar. Click on it any time you like and you'll go right there. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Refining the Design

I'm still working on my new felt ball necklace designs.
The colours are dictated by the details in the felt balls. This one was originally finished with a string of seed beads, but I decided I preferred to use fibre--hand twisted rayon embroidery thread teamed with handspun wool. I'm a litttle unsure about how the hot pink beads will behave in the rough and tumble of real life. They are metallic paint over glass. So this one will remain a prototype. I feel that I've found the balance I want between beads and fibre, though, so it was worth the effort.
And I've tracked down an initial source of white felt balls. They are on their way across the country to me now. I hope they will be in my dyepots by early next week. That will give me more control of my colour options and help me to put in the personal twist that's so important in what I make. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Personality Infusion

After making a couple more felt ball and bead necklaces, I stopped to evaluate. I've got the technique down pat and I'm happy with the length variations I've come up with. The combination of bold bright felt balls with a really light, easy to wear necklace makes me very happy. But I want to infuse a bit more of myself into this design. One way to do that is to dye my own felt balls. That's something I can do as soon as I source some more of them in white. Meanwhile, I came up with this.
It's made with my own handspun yarn combined with hand-dyed (by me) recycled silk loom waste. It's light and bright and I think it's a goer. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Necklace

I started my day by tidying up my workspace aka dining table. It had never really recovered from my prop-making session and was badly needing a good sort-out. That earned me a reward. I gave myself a couple of hours in the studio working on a new necklace design.
Felt balls and glass beads stitched with beading thread and a sense of humour.
For the rest of my sunny Sunday afternoon I'm planning a bike ride and coffee with my friend A.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


It's a beautiful warm spring day. Yesterday I made lemonade. It was easy and today it's cool and tangy. So is the green wool which I've just pulled from my drying rack.
I've had a busy week and not quite enough sleep, so a sleepy sunny afternoon is just what I feel like today. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Baby Blanket Begun

I decided not to go with the granny squares for the baby blanket. Instead I've turned to my favourite armchair project design.
I've dyed up some more yarns in the past few days. I like the way the variegated blue and palest of greens set off the other colours. Is this the time to confess that those two were dried off with my hair dryer because I couldn't bear to wait any longer to get stitching?
For reference, that's a 3mm crochet hook and 2 ply wool, so it's my usual design in miniature. It feels particularly apt to do it this way because a really big blanket like this was my gift to the parents-to-be. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Glimpse of Green

While I was out in the studio the other day working on some free-form necklaces, I also finished this off.
In case you're wondering about the tantalising close up of the piece in my hand, I may as well confess . . . my workspace in the studio is covered in beads, wool and wire. There wasn't a space big enough to lay anything out to take a good photo. My hand provided a rare clear surface. And this one is for a friend of mine, not for the market, so I don't want to spoil a surprise. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ball-band Love

I'm still playing with ideas for a baby blanket. For some reason the ball-bands have a special appeal to me.
Normally I value ball bands for the useful information they contain--all the vital statistics about the yarn that I love. Of course they're essential for matching dye-lots. But none of that is relevant here. There's no way I'm going to be able to match this old baby wool in a shop. Still those little slips of paper feel like a precious thing. I haven't been able to discard them yet. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Freeform Again

I've been out in the studio working on freeform wire and wool necklaces. Here's a close up of a couple of strands.
Wool, silk, cotton, wire and freshwater pearls . . . 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Start Printing Lino

I've been looking forward to printing the first exercise for my linocutting course. My burst of enthusiasm for making display props for my market stall got in the way. There was no way I was going to try to set up a space for printing on a surface awash with sawdust interspersed with various bits of wood and glue! This morning I managed to clear the space and get set up.

Over the past few weeks I've been progressively acquiring all the materials and equipment I need to print. Tracking down a dense foam roller as recommended by my teacher was the biggest challenge. I finally bought one from an art shop in Fitzroy. Unfortunately this morning it was nowhere to be found. Searching for it did result in a tidier living space, but still the roller eluded capture. I also found a lino block which I'd cut last year and never got around to printing. I decided to go with the soft brayer recommended for printing on paper and the not-dense-enough-foam roller which I'd purchased earler in my hunt for tools.
I can see how the different roller would be more effective in distributing the ink onto the lino, but the tools I used did get me a half-decent print.
My main purpose in printing this first block was to make sure there wasn't a fundamental flaw in my cutting before I embark on the second exercise. That mission is accomplished now. I was also quite interested in the effects of over-printing.
Oh, OK, then . . . in my enthusiasm I neglected to dash out to the studio and pick up some more fabric. To tell the truth I became interested after I realised I didn't have enough fabric. But it sounds better to say I was interested in over-printing!
One more piece of learning. It was OK working on the half of my dining table which I'd managed to clear, but a whole table would have been even better. Now there's a challenge for me. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Another Rose . . . and a spot of styling

I've made another flower brooch with my hand-dyed cotton.
I'm happier with this one, though I still need to refine the process. And the styling isn't quite there, but the only space I could find to take a photo was on my bench hook where I've been cutting bits of wood to make display props. The basket is still unfinished nearly a year after the workshop, but it's still good for some interesting texture. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with String

I'm working towards a stall at the October 13 Made 'n' Thornbury Market. In the past when I've done market stalls, I've focussed almost exclusively on making items for sale. This time I'm remembering to pay attention to how I'm going to display them. It's a benefit of having insights from the Make Craft Your Business course to guide me in my preparation.

I've been thinking about a style. I'm going to use a combination of purchased and home-made bits and pieces. I need an overall look to tie it all together. Yesterday it came to me: "Brown paper packages tied up with string". Not necessarily actual brown paper and actual string--or at least not exclusively so, but that sort of look I want. It seems to be a good fit with my handspun yarns and neutral enough to set off my beloved colours.

Here's what a corner of my worktable looks like this morning.

Ooops, that's supposed to be my dining table. Oh, well . . . I did manage to find a spot for my cereal bowl amongst the bits of wood and sawdust.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vintage Granny Square

This sweet old wool is Patons 2-ply from way back when. I got it in a box of bits a while ago. At that time it was pale yellow--a classic baby colour, but not my favourite. Now it's pretty green, courtesy of my dye pot. My mind has been on baby things lately, but I was unsure how to use this yarn. I started playing with it a couple of evenings ago and found it wanted to be little granny squares. At least that's how I called it.
I'm not sure that the little gaps are the best idea for little fingers, so this could end up being used a different way entirely. I've got plenty of wool and lots of ideas, so that's fine.
You might deduce from the spash of blue on my thumb that I've still got dye pots on the go. You wouldn't be far from the truth. I am planning a bit of a clean up, though so I can do some printing. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Leaf Print

I kept this leaf from my collection the other day in the hope that I might be able to print directly from it. The veins have become even more prominent as it has dried out, but so has the curl, so I don't like my chances of getting a clear image.
I wasn't drying it deliberately, you understand. I just liked it too much to throw it away. Now I have the photo which I can use as the basis for a lino print even if the leaf doesn't last.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Start Cutting Lino

It may seem an obvious thing, but the trick to getting started on  my linocutting course was to start cutting lino. All my dreams about things I might print in the future weren't going anywhere until I had the tools in my hand and the lino in front of me. Thankfully the first exercise was just an exercise . . .
Now I have a better feel for the different tools and the marks they make. I also have a block to print from. I've managed to gather all the supplies I need. That turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected.
Meanwhile my dyepots have been busy and yesterdays topic in the Make Craft Your Business course was goal setting and motivation. Today I'm off to the Made 'n' Thornbury Spring Fling Market. I aim to have a stall there next month, so I'll be taking mental notes as well as enjoying the lovely things my collegues have made.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ready to Print

I've signed up for Dijanne Cevaal's online linocutting course. I've been wanting to do more with printing and am impressed with Dijanne's work. An online course means I can work at my own pace, in my own time. On the other hand it doesn't have that sense of a fenced-off time to do the work. I need to make sure I protect the time day by day or at least week by week. The first lesson arrived last weekend. Today I'm making time for it.

I picked up these leaves on my walk today--looking forward to my first actual lino cutting exercise.
In fact the first exercise is a sampler of different textures. It looks like a good way to get used to the different cutting tools. The second exercise is a leaf.

Speaking of cutting, I've made myself a rough and ready bench hook. I definitely don't want to cut my fingers rather than the lino. I know I need to keep my hand behind the cutting blade. I'm hoping this will save me from that sudden impulse to reach out for a slipping bit of lino.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Freeform Necklace

On my continuing mission to fill in gaps in what I've made lately, I turned my attention to my freeform necklaces.
I sold two of these at my first Sussex Neighbourhood House market. I brought one along to my first class in the Make Craft Your Business course as an introduction to to myself and my work. It sold to another participant. That gave me an encouraging boost.
The challenge is to develop more effective ways of making these. They are a combination of fancy handspun, hand-dyed fibres, felt balls, pearls, semi-precious stones, thread and beading wire. My technique involves twisting, stitching and binding. Despite the freeform look, it takes a fair bit of planning to make sure that features end up in the right places. I like the ends to be nicely finished. A bit of flexibility in length is another desirable feature. So, I'm working on them and enjoying the process. Stay tuned for developments.