What the heck is Wings of Goose?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Ecclesiasties 1 v 9 &10

"The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."

Since moving house, I've been thinking about the Arts and Crafts movement as our house was built in 1930, although this was definitely the latter end of the movement. I remembered that a while ago we bought a lovely book, International Arts and Crafts, and have been looking through it this morning, initially with the idea of finding some inspiration for producing some new work. However, as I read the introduction, I came across a sentence which epitomised the problem I, and other artists or creators, face when trying to come up with an original project. Speaking of John Ruskin, the introduction states,

"[Richard Redgrave] stopped short of outright condemnation of the use of machines, stating that "the best tastes are to be found in those manufacturers and fabrics where handicraft is entirely or partially the means of producing the ornament." The social reformer John Ruskin, on the other hand, felt that Redgrave ahd not gone far enough. Drawing on some... of A.W.N. Pugin's ideas of design reform, Ruskin proposed a return to handcrafted workmanship as a way of dealing with declining standards, both in design and society as a whole. For Ruskin, the two were inextricably linked, and he abhorred the machine and its resultant division of labour, which he regarded as debasing factors in a sick society."

The reason the above verse from Ecclesiastes came to my mind is that once again, society has found itself in a place where it is questioning how it got to this stage, particularly regarding the complete decline in moral values and the realisation that mankind is destroying the planet God gave him to dwell on (whether or not they believe in God). Clearly this is what happened in the time Ruskin put forth his thoughts on the industrialisation of Britain, and strove to promote handicraft as a way of becoming closer to nature and drawing on its inspiration for art and design, which was one of the key aims of the Arts and Crafts movement. Once again we are in a society where handicraft, or "crafting" is promoted and is overwhelmingly popular, with literally countless websites and blogs dedicated to the work of thousands of people all over the world. Where this makes things difficult for someone trying to produce an original body of work is that they can see so many ideas on the internet, many of which are fantastic and inspiring to look at, and desire to produce something similar to what someone else has produced. It can be hard to get back to the inspiration stage when the finished products of thousands of creators are there for all to see; it is easy to forget that these people also began at a starting point to get to where they are now. I suppose the answer is to turn off the computer and to begin by making a list of what one is interested in, preferred mediums of work, and get out and look for inspiration... before turning back to the internet to see that your idea has already been done. That is a very negative attitute and I do not really uphold it - I suppose with the billions of people in the world, it os not surprising that a few come to the same solution.

For me, there is also the issue of not wasting time and producing something that is actually useful. This is a very subjective question, because I would say an object such as a painting is useful because of the way it can affect the viewer. Our house is full of my paintings and I still love to look at them and love the way friends look at them and wonder what they are thinking and whether they are affected in the same way as I am by my paintings. Something created by one's self will always be different in the way one views it, however, and is perhaps not the best measure of whether or not an product of art or creativity is useful.

I am going to continue to consider these questions, as i would like to produce some work before I begin life as a student and a worker again, as long as I am accepted onto the PGCE course I've applied for.

A bird and a flower

Well I managed to make a little gift for my sister in the end. Its a little bird which can be a brooch or can be attached to a bag or anywhere really. Its not particularly amazing but I don't make stuff like this usually and learned a lot even from this little project.

It is different on each side but on the red side the wing fabric started to split from where I had sewed it to the body. Next time I'll use some interfacing. Also I don't think the place I chose to leave a hole for stuffing was the best. It needs to be much more discreet. I also need to practice sewing non-straight lines on the sewing machine!

Because I had my fabrics out, I started playing around and made this little corsage to go on a green coat I have. Its ultra simple but quite sweet.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Finally finished

I'm sure I must get a prize for taking so long to finish this cardigan. I mean, it really is ridiculous. However, I hope I can be forgiven since I do in fact have legitimate reasons for such a lull in productivity, such as moving house... spending a week in London after my father in law was knocked over by a motorbike ( a terrible experience and we are all blessed in that he is recovering well)... spending two weeks in a primary school on work experience to decide whether I want to be a teacher (I do!) and other more minor things. Anyway, without further ado, here is the garment.

It is rather exciting as I really love it and keep wanting to wear it. Its a lot more practical than the last cardigan I knitted, and goes with more of my clothes, which are generally colourful. I'm currently working on Kim Hargreaves Robin hat as a simple project before I start anything major again.

Its a bit further on than this now but I didn't post when I meant to. I'll wait until I finish it for more photos.

I bought Sew Hip magazine the other day. I'd seen it several times on the magazine shelves but wasn't to impressed with the cringe name so hadn't bought it, but succumbed the other day and was pleasantly surprised. A lot of the projects are actually makeable and there was a lovely, if a little short, feature on Janet Clare, who is a general crafter but so talented. Her website is gorgeous, especially the "inspirations" sections. I was certainly inspired, and am planning to make some kind of fabric animal figure for my sister who's birthday is on Friday and she's also moving to a new house, so I thought that would be more meaningful than something bought. The only thing is, my craft room is not in the least bit ready, so i'll have to spread my fabrics on the dining table. At least we've finished the dining room.

Its such a cold day today, so I've lit the wood burner in the undecorated middle room. Heres a gratuitous photo.

Having a woodburner is very special, however, I have realised that the reason we got it - to try and spend less on heating bills - will probably not prove worthwhile in the long run. I read an amusing article in Cotswold Life magazine the other weekend when we stayed at Stanton Guildhouse in the Cotswolds, which, incidentally, is a huge house built in the 50's or 60's to run craft workshops and accommodate people, that one of the appeals of moving to the Cotswolds is to be able to be part of a village where smoke is coming from every chimney and there is the smell of it in the air outside, but it ends up being more for show and cosyness than actually helping the owner to save any money. And speaking of these lovely things reminiscent of olden days, I've just finished reading "The Old Curiosity Shop" by Dickens. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as "David Copperfield", but it didn't take nearly as long to read. I love the characters and descriptions of their clothing and their thoughts and the whole feeling of being transported back in time to when men were polite and held doors open for women, and people acknowledged each other in the street and had time for one another. So with that in mind, I'm going to try and make this 'thing' for my sister.
Have a lovely afternoon x

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Progress of the fireplaces

The living room fireplace is now installed.

It looks lovely and will be so cosy in the winter. Check out the teacup cushion on the blue chair as well. Makes me happy to look at it as its so pleasant.

Here is the progress of the middle one.

The builders were here all day yesterday, and some of this morning, coming again tomorrow, Thursday, and we're finally having the wood burner installed in the hole on Saturday. I say finally but actually its all be rather quick. We didn't expect them to start until next week so its going pretty quickly really.

For the middle room we also have these awesome chairs.

They have quite a history as they belonged originally to my father in law's father, who is 90 in January, who was a doctor. He had them in his consulting room. Then my parents in law had them in their flat when they were students (this is all in South Africa), then they moved to England and the chairs remained in storage for years, until they came to Wales on a van last weekend. We're going to give them a sand and some treatment and I plan on making some nice cushions for them. They'll go either side of the wood burner and add to the cosiness :)

I was sad this morning as I have been reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and I finally finished it. A truely amazing book, I don't understand how somebody can have the lives of so many invented characters in their head, and pull all their stories together and not leave any loose ends. The book is very heavily based on Dickens own life, which you can tell as he writes about each situation as if he had actually experienced it. It is also comforting to read as it goes back to the time when men had manners and were polite and well mannered to women, and women were gracious and kind. Ohh, if only people were still like that. There were also, obviously, disadvantages to living in the period, such as the great discrepancy between classes, and the thought of the character of Steerforth and his mother that the lower classas have no emotions and can handle any situation as sadness barel affects them. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and plan to come by some more of his books. I've taken to reading the classics recently - I read Dr Zhivago not long ago, which is nothing like the film, at which I was surprised, having seen it so many times. And when I was younger I read most of my Dad's collection of Dostyevsky's.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Our new house

Here are a few photos of our new house. We've only decorated the living room so far and are having a couple of fireplaces installed. An open fire in the living room and a wood burner in the middle room which is kind of a second living room.

View from the back patio.

Dining area with paint samples on wall and freshly cladded lower wall, to be painted.

The middle room, aka the Africa room. This will be painted yellow and be very cosy. This is the room which will have the log burner.

View of same room from other end.

I'll post some more pics soon but the fireplace men are here at the moment so I don't want to disturb them by taking progress photos around them!

It was my husbie's birthday on Saturday we had a Masquerade breakfast and I made American blueberry pancakes which went down very well :)

I like this photo because I think the paint samples on the wall look quite unusual and
make the roses stand out.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Not much to show for a whole two months!

We've been staying with my parents since 1st July as we're moving house but had to wait to exchange and complete. Hence I've had loads of time this summer to do loads of work. I did a lot of knitting at first, but got more and more frustrated as the exchange on our house was taking so long and couldn't concentrate on anything. My poor cardigan has been neglected for some weeks now, with a finished back and fronts and one nearly finished sleeve. Not a good effort at all!

However, I have finished something, though even that's only in the last couple of days as I determined I had to have a complete "thing" to show.

Yes, its my spinning! I love how it looks on the spindle. Its funny because the colour of the yarn goes really well with the colour of the wood.

I wrapped it round the back of a chair after soaking it in tap hot water with shampoo for a while.

As you can see, there is way too much twist in it after drying. I think I've been rather too generous with my spins and need to spin far more gently.

I rewound it once dry to pull it tight again to try and get rid of the kinks but I don't know how this will knit up. I'm planning on leaving it like this for a long while so hopefully it will just stay in this position when I remove it.

My lucky parents have the product of my art foundation and fine art degree courses in their garage, and I've been looking though my old paintings and found one I'd forgotten about.

Its of one of my old housemates and I remembered when I saw it that she had it on her wall in our student house in third year. I don't know why it's come to have spent so long in the garage but I plan to take it to the new house and find a home for it.

We've been spending a bit of time making little design boards for each of the rooms. An old friend has recently renovated a house a similar age to ours and has used Little Greene and Farrow and Ball paints. They're such a beautiful finish; so highly pigmented and nothing like Dulux, which I suppose we'd have used if it hadn't been for seeing our friends house. We're so excited about moving in and making it our own.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

An injury

Oh dear, I have already sustained an injury from my sudden running enthusiasm. I have been very surprised to find that I actually really enjoy running, after years of mocking runners and thinking how dull it looks. Don't get me wrong, I've always been into sports, very much so in fact, although as often happens when people leave school and sports clubs are less convenient to go to, I have badly lapsed over the last couple of years. But due to this enthusiasm, I decided to go for a run when I'd only been the day before and should have had a rest day. I have ended up pulling a muscle in the top front of my thigh. Walking is fairly difficult; getting into a car is very painful. Lesson learned I think. Until I've reached a better level of fitness, I certainly won't run without giving my muscles time to recover!

Other than that, my cardigan is really progressing well. I've not got too much to go on the fronts and back (knit in one piece on a circular needle)

The photo is pretty bad quality but you get the idea.

I've found the perfect button to go with it as well,from my newly enlarged stash of buttons. It only needs one, so a great project if you have a random button you want to use... or perhaps rather a large effort to go to just use one button. I guess it depends how crazy you are about them!

On Saturday I met Juliet from Artist's Pallette Yarns at Cirencester Craft Fair. I've met a couple of knitters at events now, andI have to say again that they're always so friendly :) Anyway, her yarns are beautiful and I'd love some of her fibre when my spinning improves. Which reminds me, I went to Nailsworth yesterday and came upon (or more appropriately, hobbled upon) Olivia Dell's World Textiles and Folk Art shop, which doesn't appear to have a website, but is full of fasciating stuff. I bought this book on spinning from her.

Its "Your Handspinning" by Elsie G. Davenport from 1964 and now out of print. A sought after book according to Olivia... but it contains these fab illustrations, of which these two are examples.

I think it will be rather useful as I carry on learning to spin. I was also excited to find that there is now a Cardiff Knitters group on Ravelry, although unfortunately nearly all their meet ups are on Thursday evenings, which is when we have Bible class at our church and I don't like to miss it. There is a group some Tuesdays though so I will have to try and get to one when we're back in Cardiff.

If anyones reading, hello and thanks for dropping by. Please say hello :)

Thursday, 9 July 2009

I've missed you :(

After weeks of not being able to do anything creative, unless you include artfully arranging things in boxes to be put in storage, I finally have time to get back into it, and also to post on here. You may have understood from what I just said that we're moving house, in which case you would be correct, but we are staying at my parents until we complete. Goodness knows how long that'll be! But it's wonderful being at home. You always retain an affinity with the place in which you grew up, and I've been appreciating the beautiful countryside by bike and by legs! I've also decided to take up running and purchased a new pair of trainers the other day which have an exciting slot in the inner sole in which you can place a sensor for an i-pod or a sportsband. I'm not so keen on the idea of listening to music as I run, particularly in the countryside, as I like to appreciate my surroundings and hear the birdies chirrupping away, but I like the idea of the sportsband which tells you how far you've run, how many calories burned etc.

Ok, I've just said I've been able to be creative again and talked about fitness... hmmm. Well its always been a big part of my life, just as I've got older it tends to be in fits and starts. All I've really done is picked up my knitting again and I've now got to the end of my second pattern repeat on the fronts and back of the mohair cardigan, so not much more to show. However, a dear friend of my parents from our church had some very large supplies of buttons which she was giving away to a good home. So I rooted through and found some lovely ones.

These were some particular favourites. I love the simple but effective patterns and the way they feel old yet modern at the same time.

I've also been doing some spinning since I last posted. I love how you can pick it up and put it down so easily so its been good for when I haven't felt like concentrating on knitting but have wanted to do something. This colour is just beautiful.

I'm going to have a lot of this as well. As you can see, its way more consistent than the last (and first) yarn I spun, in my last post, so I'm planning a shawl probably for this. I guess I'll have to see how much I end up with. Its 100g in weight.

I found this random ball of yarn the other day when we arrived at my parents.

Its certainly pre knitting and I think I must have bought it while I was at uni to make something for a party. No doubt it was going to be cut into 2" lengths and made into something like a lion's mane for a fancy dress party. In fact I think that is what it was for, but I made the mane from fake fur and cardboard instead! So now this can actually be knitted into something, though goodness know what.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

My first spin and other stories

I haven't felt like writing much here recently. I've been really busy with life, which I'd rather, but I also haven't had any finished projects to show. Then I remembered I hadn't posted my spinning yet, which was rather exciting and I'm really looking forward to having another go.

I'm planning to knit a hat with it, as I thought I should knit something with my first effort.

The mohair cardigan is coming along nicely and is really enjoyable to knit.

Here is the main pattern, although for some reason blogger keeps turning my images around. This and the image below should be rotated 90 degrees anticlockwise.

In the magazine that the pattern is from, someone has done a practise swatch for the lace pattern. I was quite amused to discover, after the swatcher declaring how great it was that she had made the swatch as she could refer back to it when working on the real thing, that it is actually nothing like the pattern instructs. The pattern proper is correct but the border, so basically the whole of the wavy part at the bottom, is completely wrong.

I hope she didn't rely on it too much!

I'm rather excited as I have a new job starting next week. Ok, its unpaid, but I'm so looking forward to interacting with people in a work environment again. I'm going to be volunteering in a charity shop just down the road. I've been thinking about it for a while, and yesterday there was a big sign in one of the charity shop windows (there are many on this particular street), asking for volunteers. I went and asked for more information and had a nice chat with the assistant manager; I'm starting next Tuesday!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Nursery rhyme purse and a spindle

I made this little purse one day last week when I should have been working on my patchwork.

The fabric is a delightful print called Mother Goose and Friends and is covered in sweet little images from nursery rhymes and childrens' tales. On the purse is the goose who laid the golden egg, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie and inside on this sweet little patch are the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

I haven't yet decided what I shall use it for as I'm a very practical person and not one to change my handbag every time I leave the house, or move the contents of my purse into another. No doubt I shall find some little thing to keep inside.

And I finally removed my spindle from her box on Friday when I had a visit from my knitting friend. Originally I just planned to show her the fibre and spindle but of course my husband had to have a go and then I was inspired to attempt it myself later on in the afternoon, not by my husband's efforts I might add! I took to it immediately and instead of just spinning a small amount I decided to use all the fibre that came with the spindle to make one batch of yarn as I though it would be nice to actually make something from my first spinning efforts. Here's a sneaky peak.

The more I spin the more consistent it gets and the yarn is now coming out in what looks like aran weight, though the first few metres I know will be rather lumpy and uneven.

I've also designed a new header for the blog but for some reason it doesn't want to upload. Hopefully a more exciting looking blog will be here soon.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Sickly sweet nostalgic quilt

This is the quilt I've been working on to finish for the exhibition in a couple of weeks time. I have so named it because although I love the combination of fabrics it is rather sweet looking, and nostalgic because my mum gave me all the patterned fabrics I have used in it.

For the binding I made strips out of the remaining fabrics. I was originally going to turn the back over to the front but that would have been so dull compared to how it's actually turned out I'm glad I didn't.

I love these two photos below. They remind me of linen stacked in a cupboard. I love the look of neatly folded linens and fabrics, even folded towels. It is essential the edge showing is the soft folded edge however, as if end edges show it spoils the overall effect I think.

I'm looking forward to seeing this hanging from the ceiling at the exhibition. I'm going to produce some information about the quilt to hang on the wall and maybe some cards for people to take away. I'm really excited at the thought of people looking at my work again after so long.