Friday, July 27, 2007

It's not that I'm not strong

A couple of weeks back my sister came along to our knitting group for the first time. I thought she would bring some little stitching or other creative project to work on. But she was keen to try knitting again (we both learned a bit as kids) so I handed her the felting wool I was going to work on - oh, never fear, I had another project with me - cast on a bunch of stitches and handed it over. She remembered the knit stitch pretty easily and off she went. She took it home with her and continued to knit, quickly finishing off the whole ball.

The next time she came to stitch n bitch I arrived late. She had been earlier to Big W to get more wool, Spidey had shown her a Russian join (now I'll have to get her to show ME sometime) and she was barrelling through another ball of wool. We're planning to make something felted out of the piece she has knitted.

She's been wanting to cast on again with a different yarn. I was supposed to show her while we were in Brisbane but somehow we didn't get to it. Yesterday she said over the phone that she might drop in to get me to show her. I said, great! I mentioned how there are knitters who go their whole lives not knowing how to cast on, and how silly that is, given that it is just "exactly like the knit stitch, except you don't throw off the old stitch, and you put the new one back on the left hand needle."

When she dropped in to see me an hour or so later, she had sucessfully cast on and knit a few rows on the new piece. Go Em! I went on to show her the slight variation that my grandmother taught me earlier this year, to get a neater cast on - putting the needle between two stitches instead of through one.

Now we'd better get her started on a proper project. I'm pretty sure she'll remember how to purl, with just a little encouragement. I haven't been that keen to suggest teaching someone else to knit - though I'm willing if a friend really wants to. My method has been to try stuff and make a lot of mistakes. I've enjoyed bumbling around a lot but I know not everyone is so patient. I think I feel that I would be responsible for someone I teach liking it, taking to it, and not getting bored. Looks very silly when I write it out like that. I don't need to take responsibility for anyone else' hobbies! And I'm happy to help someone as keen as my sis.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Those blackbirds look like knitting needles trying to peck your head

The Brisbane 4-day weekend was great, but full on. I am so glad to have a few days at home now. The 'Women in Motion' exhibition opening was marvellous. Mum's jackets looked even better than I could have imagined, in that context. (The show continues at Pine Rivers Regional Art Gallery, Unit 7/199 Gympie Road, Strathpine, til 11 August.)

Some time last year, after seeing two of the earlier crocheted then felted bowls (see the second photo in that post) that I made for my family for Christmas 2005, my aunt requested one for herself. I had been thinking about this pretty much all year, and was planning to send a pair of bowls. Maybe one crocheted one and one in the new 'pod' style. Then the time approached for my trip to Brisbane and I thought since I hadn't sent anything yet I had better show up with something in hand, especially as I was to stay at her place.

Then, (oops) I found that I had submitted most of my latest efforts for the Knit1Blog1 exhibition, everything that wasn't awful, anyway. So I ended up having to rustle up something last week. What a surprise, me doing something at the last minute.

It's just over one ball of Sean Sheep Armytage, held with a strand of varying 8ply (a purple, then a bright aqua/teal, then a murkier green). I manipulated the striping effects more by changing the colour of the plain wool I held along with it. Armytage seems to have one reeeeally long colour repeat within each ball - and sometimes I get sick of it and want a change before I start decreasing and the effects are lost at the bottom of the bowl. Previously I have sometimes cut out part of the long colour repeat to get things going again. Changing the colour of the other strand turned out to be a good way to get interesting stripe effects and to feel more creative than relying only on the striping that has been dyed into the ball.

I've been feeling that my bowls and things look a bit, well, small in that Crafts ACT gallery, and I've been wanting to work on a bigger scale. This one actually turned out bigger than I meant. I couldn't find my 8mm needles so I used 9mm; though I don't know if that shouldn't make a difference since the wool should shrink much the same amount anyway. Of course I forgot scale objects AGAIN, so you'll have to take my word for it, the finished bowl was something like 12 cm high and 20 cm wide. Like a medium sized salad bowl.

Aunty M seemed to really like it, though she was expecting a little one to put jewellery in. So I might still send a little one along to keep it company.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I would go anywhere to meet up with you

On Friday I'm going to Brisbane with my family for the opening of 'Women in Motion', an exhibition at Pine Rivers Regional Art Gallery, featuring the diverse work of seven women artists, including both my aunt and my mum. Mum has been working on a collection of amazing jackets for over 18 months. We're all really excited to see the show, which includes paintings, ceramics, glass, silver and (naturally) textiles.

'Women in Motion' is on at Pine Rivers Regional Art Gallery, Unit 7/199 Gympie Road, Strathpine. It runs from 18 July to 11 August and the gallery is open Wed-Sat, 11am to 4pm.

The way we dress and present ourselves to the outside world, is a reflection of who we are. It speaks about us, goes before us, and tells a story. In this work I aim to show that you only need one beautiful piece, a jacket, on which to build your story.

An excerpt from Mum's artist statement for the exhibition - you can read the whole statement here.

Unfortunately my photos are all close-ups of detail - because at the time we were aiming for detailed shots that could be used in the design of the invitation / flyer. But I think you can get some idea of what they look like. Beautiful. I'll certainly get more photos at the exhibition.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

She meant you no harm

Knit1blog1 was thrown open on Friday night ('twas Bells' birthday too!) and a good time was had, with drinks before and during, and dinner with family and friends afterwards. Apparently at the opening my nephew was recognised because of the jumper he was wearing. Better yet, his first word to me on arriving was 'jumper'! Aw.

The exhibition is on from 14 July - 26 August, at Craft ACT Gallery Two, 1st Floor, North Building, 180 London Circuit, Canberra. Craft ACT is open from 10:00 AM - 4:00PM, Tuesday to Friday, and 12:00 noon - 4:00PM, Saturday and Sunday.

Since I have been blabbing on to various people about how I am 'totally public' online and don't care who knows that I blog, I'm thinking I might be brave and tell all my colleagues about the exhibition. Maybe it will give them a better idea of what Wednesdays are about for me (I don't work on Wednesdays). I don't mind at all the idea of anyone checking out the exhibition, nor the idea of people finding the blog. I like it. Except for just one type of reaction.

After I said my little piece at the French 'Passion Night', a man came over to me during one of the breaks and said quite bluntly "I didn't understand what you were talking about. What are these things?". He had that tone that said 'what you're doing appears to be weird. Explain yourself'. And even as I instantly assessed him as one of those and felt annoyed, still I floundered to explain to his satisfaction, even grabbing my felted camera case out of my bag to demonstrate that felting has more practical applications (why SHOULD it?).

I don't mind if people are curious and ask questions. I don't mind if you don't even think it's very interesting. Just don't give me that attitude that I am obliged to explain why this is a worthy use of my time! I guess, though, that if you talk about the odd things you do, and show them to the world, you have to expect a variety of reactions.

That pair of pink and purple pots from the other day garnered a bit of interest, and both have found excellent homes. One is holding pens at DJZ's place of work, and the other will be travelling to New Jersey to the lovely Donna Lee's place, just as soon as I felt it, and also hunt down some Aussie sock yarn for a swap.

Honourable mention goes to Taph's comparison of the blended colour scheme to 'a passionate bruise' - almost makes me want to do it again!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

She loves gin and I love rum

This little jug was knit in Cleckheaton merino spun (80% wool 20% acrylic) which felted well and so fast, I was really surprised. Just one strand made quite a nice solid fabric. I've been knitting all of these vessels from the top down. With this one I started with the handle, just a long strip knit back and forth, then cast on more stiches and joined to work in the round.

I was idly browsing the button section in Lincraft, thinking that I ought to look through my collection at home before buying something. But once I saw this one, I Had. To. Have. It.

I felted the whole thing before joining the handle on at the bottom of the jug using the button. For some reason I really wanted the button to be functional - even though there is no real reason to ever unbutton it - so I did actually cut a button hole in the handle. Unfortunately it moved around too much, so I ended up tacking it down with a couple of hidden stitches.

I didn't think to measure it before it went in to Crafts ACT but I'd say it was not much taller than 10cm. It also wouldn't sit quite flat, due to the weight of the handle pulling it back just a tiny bit, just enough to look a little bit off. I hope the way it is displayed in the exhibition will hide this, but I had to tack a little bag of glass beads inside it to get it balanced. Dodgy but effective. I'll have to put some thought into how to tweak the design so that next time I knit one, it can sit nicely on its own. Oh yes I have to make more of these.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I'm on a wavelength far from home

Last Friday night the Alliance Fran├žais held a 'Passion night' for students to practice their French with a presentation or performance of some sort.

Only two others from my class participated, and I was reluctant but at the urging of our teacher, I found myself agreeing to 'have a go' at writing a little something that I could read out. I ended up writing a short piece about knitting and felting. (If you really want to read a beginner's short, stilted French composition, you can see it here.) I only wrote it on the Wednesday and sent it to my teacher with apologies and, you know, 'no worries at all if he didn't have time to look at it'. He offered to work on it with me before the event started, but I wasn't able to get away from work early enough, and turned up only just before the start on Friday night.

I was happy enough to think that I might just hang out in the audience with a glass of wine. But my teacher asked to see my text and started to make the corrections straight away. He had trouble with some of the things I was trying to say, and I had to sacrifice my favourite sentence, about 'mistreating' the wool. I don't know if I was using the verb correctly but maybe because he wasn't familiar with knitting, let along felting, I didn't seem to have gotten the concept across to his satisfaction. I wonder what he thought I meant?

The actual performance went well. It felt like most of the audience got what I was talking about (and this is not a given, when most of them were beginner students too). I was happy that I avoided using the microphone and was able to project my voice enough for the size of the room. I think my piece was the shortest one of the night - and some of them were several pages long! They must have taken a long time to write. I was surprised at the level of participation, and the range of 'passions' people both talked about, and demonstrated. There was the lady who tap-danced, a man who juggled and rode a unicycle, a singer, and several powerpoint presentations, including a very funny re-imagining of the gingerbread man story as a little man of cheese (l'homme de fromage). The highlight was the Mexican girl who spoke about her home - in French of course - and finished up by making a pitcher of margaritas. Yum.

Since my language was so limited, I thought I had better have examples to show, in the hope that some of the audience might get what I was talking about. So I had made and brought along this pair of pots, knit exactly the same, but only one of them felted.

It had occurred to me that a pair like this might be a good item to enter for the Knit1Blog1 exhibition. Since I often like to put a pre-felting photo on my blog, this would be a way to show the same sort of contrast, as part of the exhibition.

Unfortunately I wasn't completely happy with the finished shape; and I was uncomfortable with the pink and dark purple sections at the top and bottom too. I think I threw it the colours together in too much of a hurry. I really do like pink. And that dark purple is my go-to old favourite for felting. I actually don't mind it in the unfelted version, but the way the pink and purple merged when it was felted.....was it too girly? whatever it was, it was not 'me' enough to go in the exhibition.

So last weekend I had another go, using the same purple Cosy Wool and the same multicoloured Lincraft Big Wool, but pairing it with a lovely green from the recently aquired vintage boodle. And I am much happier with the result.

Oh, I forgot scale objects again - felted they are about 10cm high.

The green and purple pair have been submitted for the exhibition. The pink and purple ones are languishing here at home. So, how does this sound: if there are two girls' blouses in the comments to say they want one, can have 'em! (I'll felt the second one if anyone wants it).

And look at this! Last night when I arrived at stitch n bitch, Happyspider threw this pretty skein my way. She said she didn't realise til after she dyed it, that it was really too scratchy. I think it's going to felt beautifully. Oh yes, it has pinks and purples too, but the colours are more varied, and more masterfully put together than my example above. This photo doesn't capture it, the true colours are a little bit brighter and redder.

Edited to clarify: Scratchy wool is a great candidate for felting, both because I'm not making garments that need to be soft, and the felting process actually softens the wool a lot anyway. It's so nice to be part of a community that shares not just advice but precious stash.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

These three were made from one skein of Cleckheaton Vintage Hues. It felts very nicely, but it does make a surprisingly thin soft fabric. I like it, but I do usually want a firmer fabric, so I might combine it with a strand of something else next time. Or double it, if I could match the colours well enough.

There was a glimpse of these in my previous post, but I thought littlest one lacked a little something - it's so small the colours didn't stripe much. I gave it a bit of hardware, using those paper fasteners that split in two at the back.

I was in such a hurry to try out my new lightbox that I forgot to include a scale object. And I would hate for anyone to come to the Knit1Blog1 exhibition and be disappointed that these are not on the kind of scale they had imagined. The largest is about 9cm high and the smallest 6cm.

I'm nowhere near satisfied with the lightbox photos yet but it is pretty exciting to be able to take good photos after dark. There are a lot of variables to mess about with - camera settings; number, positioning and brightness of lamps; and backdrop colour.

Here's another one I made quite some time ago. I think last post's photo actually shows the detail a bit better. It's made from Sean Sheep 'Spirit Prints' (a tiger-stripe effect) with stripes of purple holiday wool. I was experimenting with using smaller gauge yarn to assist with shaping in the neck area. This one is a bit less than 12cm high.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I bought a watch to time your beauty but I had to fit a second hand

Not long ago Bells asked me if my house is full of felted 'pods' and other vessels. Well, no, it's not. But there are a few around.

I'll be submitting a few felted vessels to be included in the Knit1Blog1 exhibition at Crafts ACT from Friday 13 July. Lots of the local (and some not-so-local) knitters and bloggers are taking part, and some are running workshops as well, as part of the Festival of Contemporary Art.

Although the house is not yet knee-deep in felted items as Bells might have envisaged, the stash of feltable yarns received a big boost this week with a hefty donation from Taph's boodle earlier this week.

I've packed about two thirds of it into a bag that originally held a queen-sized blanket. I don't have even a tinge of guilt (doth the lady protest too much?) bringing it into the house. Even though I do have too much STUFF generally, this stuff will get felted, I love to have a good range of colours around when the mood strikes - in fact it's already come in handy today.