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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pass the salt...

We had a dyeing disaster during our school's trial run but that's okay, that's what trial runs are for. These are supposed to be vibrant tie dye, not muddy mixtures. I knew at once where we had gone wrong during the fibre reactive dyeing process. We had forgotten to add the salt and soda ash. But how? I had written myself reams of notes and instructions. It turned out to be a very useful lesson to learn at this stage in the project.
I was and will be using empty yogurt tubs to contain the children's dye. I began the process with some powdered dye in solution contained in a small, labelled water bottle and my salt and soda solutions contained in large labelled water bottles. In a yogurt tub we made up the recipe. 5 tablespoons dye solution, 1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup soda, 1/3 cup tepid water. Result, successful dyeing first time round.
DANGER* DANGER* WILL ROBINSON! What follows is where we could have done with Robbie the Robot flashing his light and waiving is arms around.
I decanted my dye solution from the small bottle to a yogurt tub. Dye only. No salt, no soda....but this of course is undetectable to the naked eye! In the heat of the general dyeing excitement I assumed this was recipe instead of the raw ingredient it actually was and I had the children put their fabric in it, hence the messy muddy results.
So, the moral of the story is keep your dyeing raw ingredient and your mixtures in easily identifiable DIFFERENT containers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oh James!

I found myself with some free time yesterday and as it was summer in Scotland (approximate duration 24 hours) I took my bike to the neighbouring island of Cumbrae for a cycle. Unbeknownst to me, dearly beloved had taken his boat over too and was sitting in the bay. We found this out by phone and he said if I cycled to the pier he would try to get me on board. This was not something we had done before. This was not folding bike, this was heavy and awkward bike.

While I waited for him to come in to the pier steps I asked a sturdy looking man if he would carry the bike down for me, which he did. Some local kids were paying at jumping from the pier into the water and one tubby little boy was looking on wistfully. The same TLB asked why I had taken my bike down to water lever and I told him I was going to cycle to shore. Strangely enough, he didn't believe me.

DB pulled alongside in the boat and threw the rope to TLB who was thrilled with his new responsibilities. Then DB jumped off. He takes a few hours off work mid-day and had been to a meeting in the morning. Because he was going back into the shop at three, he hadn't changed. So there he was, under the pier with all these dripping and bedraggled children and me and my bike him dressed in his shiny black shoes, immaculately creased black trousers and crisp white shirt looking for all the world like James Bond. He lifted the bike on board and off we went leaving the children open mouthed. I've told him that in future he must keep a bow tie and a box of milk tray on board for just such an occasion.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Here I am ready to start a new crochet project. I have a mad notion to use my three charity shop finds together. Wouldn't be my colour choice if I have the rainbow to choose from but I like the serendipitous idea of them being found together and used together. Can find it in my heart to break up the triplets. This is a bit of finger knitting that I chucked in with the washing to see what would happen every time I remembered. Nice foil for my money puzzle thingie isn't it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The amazing shrinking jacket

I chucked my crocheted jacket back in the washing machine along with the swimming thing this morning and gave it what for. It came out looking like a dolly's jacket. It's not too small but I don't want it to felt any further. The sleeves that were hitting the back of my hand and now 3/4 length and the jacket itself has turned into a bum freezer. But worry not, that's was the way I wanted it. It's a nice thick texture too. A good experiment.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Hellooooo! No I haven't disappeared. I've just been experiencing creative inertia. As I live in Ayrshire this is actually quite a humorous play on words....honest. Well maybe it's a Scottish thing.
We were away on a buying trip for the shop and I'm not allowed to drive. I'm a woman for goodness sake! This is also a Scottish thing. A Scottish man thing. Anyway, it meant hours of endless crochet and here is the resulting jacket. The photographer wasn't in residence last evening and photographing your own back is a difficult process. My best advice to anyone attempting this would be make the bed first.
....or take the jacket off. Now why didn't I think of that? This is day two after one wash in the machine. Much better texture and very minor shrinkage. Had hoped for more. I may wash again.
And here I would like to introduce you to the most annoying crochet phenomenon I have come across so far. (If you are about to glaze over, call back later. Normal creative service will be restored shortly).
I came across reverse single crochet edging for the first time. You just do it backwards. JUST, she says, JUST! I hold my wool in the wrong hand usually, a la knitting, but for this process you must have yarn in left, garment in right. I mastered it and was very pleased with myself........... until the sleeves came along. One was fine, the other had one fancy edging on the inside rather than the outside. I tried turning my work, not turning my work, turning the sleeve inside out and then turning off from the whole thing and deciding enough was enough. I don't experience the kind of intimacy many with people which allows them to look inside my cuffs. You are the exception.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ever do that thing where you leave your camera switched on and you haven't recharged your spare batteries? Uhhuh!

Dyeing preparation continues. Teacher comes to visit a fortnight yesterday bringing her two pre teen daughters as dyeing Guinea pigs. Not that I would ever dye a Guinea pig you understand.

I've been tidying( arghhhhhh! eughhhhhhhhhh! and other cartoon noises that indicate distaste) and working on different ways of linking units with wire to make mobiles. So I do have some thing to photograph, honest injun, if only I had a camera.....


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Back to old clothes and porridge

The garden party was a bit of a non-event but the rain stayed off, the sun shone and it did make me smile to see dearly beloved in his kiltie outfit. Here's his impression of a living advertisement. Unfortunately I forgot to issue smile instructions for him.

Aren't his kilt shoes amazing? Very uncomfortable I'm told. Now he knows what women have to put up with!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Detained at Her Majesty's pleasure

I've been having a hat made. Don't usually wear hats and do feel like a bit of a chookie but we've been invited to a swanky garden party where hats are obligatory. It's also liable to be muddy underfoot so no high heels. This does make my feet look like size 10 and it's a pity about the white legs but I don't think I could bare to wear tight. Guess this is as good as it gets.

The missing link

Here are the most successful of yesterday's wrapping and molding experiments. Some plastic tubing and a polystyrene pear tray. Does PVA stick fabric to polystyrene? See the black inside the shapes? What do you think? A separating layer of cling film is called for when molding.

This exercise is really all about linking and balancing but then, when we are supposed to be making mobiles, what else would it be about? Each joint is two little interlinked jump rings and each shape was balanced on the head of a needle to find it's fulcrum point before attaching. It's very wind sensitive, which is a good thing. Another tiny step forward.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tumbling your wilkies

Well that's what we called it in my Scottish childhood. Turning head over heels like Pooh here whom I found amongst my collection of inspirational ephemera.

Kit cars no longer hold any fear for me . Look out Lotus, here I come! Made me think maybe the whole linking, connecting thing is the way to go with these kinetic scultpures.

...and where/ how exactly does the dyed the fabric fabric figure? Still working on that one. Tried wrapping various objects with PVA soaked fabric strips. The plastic tubing is my personal favourite. Cut into wired section there is no limit to the number of ways this can be joined together.

Do you remember those cardboard circles with two holes and a string through the middle we used to spin between out hands as children? Here is my plastic tube and wire version. Fabric can either be attached sail fashion or the tubing pre-wrapped. This is not the best photo of one in motion. I included it so that I could draw to your attention to the lipstick on my workbench. Just because you are in an inspired frenzy of creativity there is no reason to let your standards slip girls. Now here are the snaps the photographer took while I smiled at him with my perfectly made- up lips. Kissy kissy.

Dinner is served

Teacher tells me that we're going to make our kinetic art/science project move by making little engines with K'nex. It's a children's toy I am not familiar with so I bought myself a box yesterday. This is what you get for £2.99. Not a differential in sight. What a disappointment.

I do feel however if I can manage to slot the little vehicle together it may help me get in touch with my inner car mechanic.