Monday, July 27, 2009

We're gonna need a bigger bowl

That first felted sugar bowl really was too tiny so I had another go at it.

two spots

The size is better (could be taller, but it was never going to be an exact replica) but this side view bothers me. In trying not to space the spots around too evenly, I put a couple of them much too close together.

all spots

I went back to the cafe today for a subtle photo shoot and a proper look at the inspiration bowl. Before, I had only looked at it from the other side of the room and made a quick sketch of the shape. I'm not always the most observant person when it comes to details - this was just an impression that was enough to spark the idea for the felted version.

spots again

I was surprised to find that it is not ceramic but glass. And the spots are formed in a most intriguing way. It's made of two layers of glass fused together, and the red spots are holes in the white layer allowing the red to show through.

I guess I thought this second bowl would be the end of my polka-dotted sugar bowl quest. But as I was walking back to work, I started to wonder if there was a way to replicate the double layer structure of the glass bowl, in felt. Some of my earliest felted bowls were made with two layers sewn together. I'll just need some well-placed holes.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blue + white

I went skiing yesterday for the first time in about two years. It was fantastic.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book: The forest of hands and teeth - Carrie Ryan

I came across this book via a sample first chapter picked up in a bookshop. The combination of the cover image and the title were really appealing. I didn't know this was considered a young adult novel. (Not that that would have stopped me). I also didn't know it was a zombie book, although it didn't take too long to figure out.

I liked the way that it was an slightly uncommon take on a zombie story. It is set several generations after a virus has decimated the population leaving only isolated enclaves of uninfected people.

However, I was quite disappointed with this book. Even though it's fairly short there would have been room to do a lot more if there was less of the overwrought and unconvincing romance aspect. For me it teetered just on the edge of what it should have been: dark, creepy, and even a bit inspiring with a message of following your dreams, and not settling for what others tell you you should want. The main character, Mary, verged on being a Mary Sue with her naivete and all the boys revolving around her. Ok that's a little harsh, but I found the romances that the novel is built around unconvincing and that didn't leave much else. It was an interesting set-up, an isolated village surrounded by fences to keep the Unconsecrated (clearly zombies) out; a small society strictly controlled by the Sisterhood. Mary is trapped in this tight place by the death of her parents and her brother's rejection, leaving her with nowhere to go except the Sisterhood (and only in an inferior and ill-trusted position there). I would have been interested in a story where Mary challenges the status quo, drawing out why the sisterhood run things this way and some of the secrets they're keeping. Instead she just wants to escape (understandably).

The latter half of the story I think owed more to zombie movies, with a small group surviving on the forest paths and in another, abandoned village, and some fighting and killing of the Unconsecrated; I got bored and just wondered where it was all going. There were a lot of questions unanswered; I gather the book is being made into a movie and there are clear opportunities for a sequel. That's all well and good, but a novel, especially a debut novel, should still stand alone as a good satisfying story; for me this one didn't.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Shout out for the London girl

Remember my sister's drawings? Three of them can currently be found at the Canberra School of Art Gallery as part of Momentum, the 18th Tamworth fibre textile biennial. It's on til 1 August.

A friend and I walked over at lunch time earlier this week. He had already been to the show once - apparently he walked around the room making a mental note to tell me about it as I would really like it, and was greatly amused when he finally came to the name Demelza Sherwood.

fabric design
Oops, I forgot to take down the name of the artist who designed these fabrics. There were several of those clothing-shaped cutout viewers. We liked them.

Edited to add: It's Gum Blossum, 2007, by Penny Malone.
You can see and read about all of the works on the Tamworth Regional Gallery's site.

It's really worth seeing this show, not only because of my talented sister's work but there is such a wonderful variety of textile art, including some really fascinating knitted pieces. I particularly loved Alana Clifton-Cunningham's Second Skin series (there's a picture of a similar piece here).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Enemy of beige

Once I had pointed it out, that beigy bland pod started to bother me. Maybe I was influenced by reading Pamela Stephenson's biography of Billy Connolly last week. He famously hates beige and 'beige people'. I really enjoyed the book, and it certainly didn't hurt that Pamela quoted plenty of Billy's humour throughout. I've often claimed he's the only standup comedian I'd be likely to go and see (though I haven't) - I usually find standup comedy very uncomfortable.

On Monday I grabbed the bland pod off the desk and stuffed it in my bag as I headed out for a lunch break. I ducked into Lincraft, chose some embroidery thread in a bright orange and bright purple (very Billy colours), picked up some needles and a pair of tiny folding scissors (these can live in my handbag from now on), and went to a cafe to do some embellishing.

I seem to have had an urge to embroider things for quite a while, helped along very recently by discovering Mr X Stitch who highlights fascinating needlework of all types.

Unfortunately, I don't actually know much about embroidery. And I jumped right in without making any kind of plan. It was like doodling. There are no photos here because the results don't look any good. So far. I think I'll add another lunch hour or two of doodling and see where that gets me!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another little sister gets a dress - finally

spots close2
I've been waiting to post this for weeks and weeks, while trying to find a time to see baby A and her family. (Several things got in the way, mostly not wanting to pass various germs back or forth at certain points.) I was finally able to see them today, and a good time was had by all. She did throw up on me but she didn't cry - I call that a win!
little sister A dress
It was also good because I could assure myself that the dress is going to fit, and have some growing room. And just because it was a gift finally given, and received. If you've ever hand-made a gift, or even agonised over a gift purchase, you might be familiar with that mild anxiety that builds up over time until the transfer is made, and you see it's well-received.
square buttons
I used the Little Sister's Dress pattern again. The other one, made for my niece, was in cotton, this uses 4ply baby wool. The white with navy speckles (I just love how it knitted up, in spite of the noticeable differences in the amount of speckles between balls from the same dyelot) is Cleckheaton Merino Bambino, and the navy stripes in the yoke and hem are Patons Dreamtime.

I started out intending to have several wide stripes of a pinkish red all down the dress, bordered by narrow navy stripes. Just one or two stripes into this plan, my sister convinced me there would be far too much going on, and the end result might be a wild little dress that wouldn't 'go' with much. I was happy to admit the stripes weren't working for me - it was turning out to be a sailor-suit look, which might be cute but not the more girly look I was going for. (Even though adding that pink-red colour was my attempt to make it more girly. It's funny how these things go.) She suggested making the rest of the dress below the yoke just in the speckled stuff and then embellish it after the fact with something a little unexpected.

On the other hand, my other sister loved the sailor dress aesthetic and asked if it would be possible for me to make it in an adult size.
spots close
The pink circles are crocheted and felted then sewn onto the dress. One has a rudimentary embroidered 'A', continuing the monogram theme for baby gear.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Daily grind

felty desk

It's a drab, cold week and during the day I am wishing I was at home making things instead of at work. I keep a few reminders around me. Sometimes there are some pears around my workstation too.

Almost two years ago I sent Donna Lee a felted pot and she's since said that she keeps it on her desk at work, which I think is where I got the idea.

Two of these could perhaps be called 'seconds' - the blue tray is not firmly felted (one of the strands of yarn was not very willing) and the beigy one was a bit bland on its own. It was part of this set - I made four in order to pick the three that worked best, and this was the one that didn't make it.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Mini sugar bowl

sugarbowl mini

In a favourite cafe a few weeks ago I saw a delightful white ceramic sugar bowl with red spots. I wanted to make it in felt. This one is too tiny to really capture the original (cute wasn't really what I was going for). However, it was a very useful experiment: though I've done tiny bits of pre-felting embroidery before, this was a test of adding larger spots of colour. I just did satin stitch on the knitted fabric. I suppose I could have tried harder to make all the spots the same size, but I quite like them that way.