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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Able to cable

I'm knitting my first proper jacket in about a million years (approx). It's been ill fated from the start. I bought the wool in a hurry. Who can make a sensible choice in a hurry? I took the sales person's advice. Sales people are employed to sell things. I should know this, I am one! It drives me nuts when customers ask me which one they should choose but there I was, all simpery, asking my sales person which wool I should work with.

She recommended Sirdar Peru. No complaints there, wool and alpaca with a little bit of acrylic to make it manageable. And to go with that Madam, may I recommend.......Sirdar Click, 70% acrylic! (She didn't tell me that bit). It wasn't until I held it in my excited little hands, sticky with anticipation and instantly let it go again with that arghhhhhh, acrylic, get it away from me feeling that I realised the enormity of my purchase. In more ways than one. She sold me far too much, enough to knit jumpers for the whole of Peru probably.

This was to be a three colour jumper. I'm now trying to squeeze the whole thing out of the two Perus, giving the acrylic a body swerve. Let's hope she sold me too much to be enough for this adjustment, if you get my drift.

Next on my list of things to make and do is to learn to cable without that dratted, slippery little eel of a needle which disappears between every row.

Here's what it should look like.

And here is my attempt to make the pattern more legible. I was given the idea by man who suggested I might find tap dancing more accessible if I tried doing if on the head of a pin.

Still, good practice in pig headed determination. I'm thinking of taking that up an an Olympic sport.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The final curtain

'What is it?' the kids asked. 'Is it a blanket?' They have a point. I'm a big believer in form and function but in this instance our work of art was purely decorative. As a final flourish the kids couched down the black lines they had felted around pipe cleaners a la Kandinksy.
The end.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

finished felting

Well I am, finished felting. The children have one more chance to embellish their hanging tomorrow morning. Today I've been doing the assembly work for them.

You'll see how extremely sculptural the felt became in the washing machine. All hills and valleys. I also machine felted all the scraps and decided to use them, just as they came out of the machine, to join the pieces together.
Buttons and button holes did the trick and here we have all these strange amorphous joining pieces looking like shrunken socks.
A few of the scraps assembled themselves together in the washing machine and became an impromptu sea creature. Must remember this for future projects!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Practicing scales

Here's the fish puppet resplendent with his paper scales. This worked well and I'm pleased with it although I think I might be making them and the kids might be decorating them. Still, good collaborative fishing.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

More puppets for the special needs kids who are having an under water theme. These are made from circles of foam I found in the scrap store. It's self adhesive on one side. The sticky side is on the outside of the fish making it very easy for the children to decorate. They can either stick on paper/fabric scales in a systematic fashion, throw scraps at it randomly or roll it in some glitter, depending on their abilities. The inside of the puppet's head is also sticky - in a good way. The lightest of touch with your finger tips and it adhere to your hand making it very simple to operate and impossible to drop. When you're finished playing with it, none of the stickiness transfers itself to your hand. Photos of possible decoration to follow.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Keep your sunny side up

I nearly made a dreadful whoopsie at felt school yesterday. Here is all the soft felt disappearing under the first layer of tops that will eventually become the background. We are making our wall hanging like an upside down pizza, to be flipped over when complete. These pictures were taken after the mistake had been rectified. Can you guess what it was? I was strolling round admiring all the lovely surface decoration on the soft felt pieces. Surface decoration that was rapidly being smothered by a snowdrift of background tops....

'Stop!' I hollered. 'Turn all your soft felt over so the best side is facing the table. The tops on top is going to become the tops on the bottom!'

And they wonder why kids today are confused.....

Having rectified my error the kids all achieved three clouds of fleecy tops lying over the offending pieces. We damped our clouds with warm water - and the bell rang. Timing couldn't have been worse.

From my dim and distant felt making past I can remember heating cold and wet pieces up in the microwave before I started felting them again but won't be an option for us. Guess we'll just have to add more hot water and hope for the best.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Meanwhile back at felt school.....

The kids have been cutting shapes from their soft felt ready to add a background of more carded fleece and re-felt. There is a great felt makers list hosted by Pat Spark and there I learned how to cover the original collage with a piece of acetate which enables you to reproduce your exact design in felt pieces. If you dampen the felt pieces with soapy water they 'stick' in place while you add your background layers and re-felt.

I was lucky enough to find an old glass washboard a few years ago. It's been in my cupboard ever since waiting for a jolly felt making outing and today's the day!

Introducing Mr Mophead

I have a puppet project starting after the holidays in a special needs school. They want to make rod puppet so here's my simplified version made with a dish mop and some clothes line. An elastic band round the mop part gives you instant delineation between face and hair. I painted this face which worked well enough. You could also paint the hair but I think I'd me more likely to add some kind of wig or other headgear.....and clothes of course. This will be happening in January after all!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hanging by a thread

Forgot my camera again! Oh dear me, I should just have it surgically attached to body. Anyway, mixed fortunes at felt school today. With joyful abandon I told the children decorate their uppermost pile of merino tops with some tapestry yarn. Unfortunately I forgot to tell them to place a few wisps of merino over the top to trap it in. After felting the yarn was not very securely attached. I don't want to harden this felt too much because eventually it will be cut, collaged and felted into a tops background. Decided that on Monday we'll have a stitching session to add a bit of decoration and catch down the yarn where necessary. Very good children might even get to use the sewing machine!

A bit unsure about where we go from there. We have to cut shapes from this stitched soft felt so do we just let the thread ends do their thing? Do we give it a wee wet rub with vegetable net before we cut it to bed the yarn in. I think that might be an idea. If you have experience or advice to offer, I would be very grateful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Puppet up

In the new year I hope to be making puppets with children who attend a special needs school. I've been revisiting some of the simpler puppets making techniques I've learned over the years. Here they are.

Monday, November 19, 2007

What a contrast

We had a bit of a chat about contrast at felt making school today before we finished the Kandinsky inspired collages for four four wall hangings. I explained it to them in language I hoped they would understand. In Scotland men fall into two categories. The two recognised greeting would be 'hello there big man' or 'how's it going wee man'. Contrast, if I'm not mistaken, big and wee. We elaborated on this.

I helped them remember the name of the artist who was inspiring us by imagining they were drinking a CAN at DINner time in the playground looking up at the SKY. Then we tackled that pesky K issue and adjusted our pronunciation. It seemed to work.

The kids are keeping a sketchbook throughout this project in which they will write each week what they have learned, how it made them feel and whether or not they enjoyed it. One boy asked me what you call it when you feel nothing so I told him the word he was looking for was numb and that was a perfectly valid way to feel. (Obviously I'm doing a grand job). I'm pleased to report his recorded feeling for today was happy so that's definite progress.

We had out first mass, hands on felt making trial today and the results were better than I had dared hope. On Friday everyone is making their own individual piece and I'll take more photographs. Feeling a lot more relaxed about the project now and can see success in sight. All feelings of numbness brought about by my fake it until you make it way of working have now evaporated.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sheer extravagence

Normally I try to recycle and reuse as much as I can in my craft activities but I lost patience with trying to gather together enough scrappy little bits of bubble wrap for felt making school and invested in a giant roll of all of my own. I also bought eight lengths of pipe insulation foam to roll the larger pieces of felt around and give them what for. I'm not a milk drinker but asked friends to collected for me enough empty milk cartons for the children to use as watering cans when they come to damp down their felt. Its easy to poke holes in the plastic lids and they make excellent little sprays. This helped to salve my carbon conscience a bit.


I had another lovely day of soldering net curtains together with the ladies of Linlithgow yesterday. Linlithgow is a beautiful historic Scottish town complete with palace and, more importantly, a wonderful wool shop! In answer to your questions yes I did (spend far too much money) and yes I have (already cast on despite several unfinished projects). They were a bad influence on me, these women!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Kandinsky homage

Off to felt making school this morning to make Kandinsky inspired paper collages with the kids.

This was my less than inspired effort yesterday. Shiny PVA makes it difficult to photograph. Trying to be all very artistic but sadly it still just looks like a smiley face! I'm sure the kids can do better.

Monday, November 12, 2007


In the lull between school projects and before it begins to look a lot like Christmas I've been in project finishing mode. Here's the first beneficiary.
The Rocky Road Shrug from Amazing Crochet Lace by Doris Chan.
Who would have thought it would engender such obvious ecstasy? If I'd know it was going to make me this happy, I'd have finished it months ago!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Disaster averted

My blue over dyeing looked every bit as bad as I thought it was going to be. Uniform gloom throughout. So I panicked and chucked them in some bleach............which seems to have worked. Phew!

All a matter of choice

Three of the four classes selected one quarter of their fabrics for over dyeing.
The forth class said thanks, but no thanks. Do They know something I don't?
I does seem a shame of unify all these lovely colours with a healthy dose of school uniform blue. I hope they manage to retain some of their individuality.
I've learned my lesson about sorting through a million pieces of wet fabric looking for tiny pen marks. This time their are being dyed, rinsed and washed in their individual classes.
Pity I only suss these things once the project is over...