Expectations. 1, Process

Altar : found polystyrene. Temporary. Disassembled… and what I’m learning from them.

I expected to make a huge body of cohesive, location-influenced work to bring home and exhibit.

–instead, scraps and snippets, very little of which will come home. Some of it is too organic to make it through the bio security cordon at home. Some pieces have been temporary : made, unmade, recycled.

Lesson: I have always loathed the idea of it being “all about the process” – it’s seemed like art/craft making as a filler of time, an amusing alternative to boredom. To consciousness even. It’s never that way for me. When i make, or even think about making, i always have a Big Idea, something inside me burning to get out and connect with others.

Now, I’ve had over 2 months intensive tinkering with no specific idea in mind. My Gallipoli/Çanakkale memorial work is a long way off. It deserves a really decent level of attention and engagement.

Here I have experimented with a new medium (watercolour) simply because I couldn’t think how else to get colour in the absence of my usual textile resources.

Knowing nothing of how to use them I’ve surrendered to the process of experiment and found I quite enjoy it.

The pleasant discovery is that the process-generated works are settling gently into conceptual groups, just as they would be had I begun with an Idea. They look like ‘my work’ too. Surprisingly, they don’t much look like ‘here’ Cappadocia, but perhaps I’ll see that later.

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Inside, outside

Working at home can be hard to stop…. just a few more stitches … What fun and relaxing thing could I do after dinner? Well, there’s that quilt … 
You can have too much of a good thing. Prescription: a weekend in the garden; pruning, shredding, digging, planting. And of course LOOKING at plant forms. 
Just the refreshing inspiration needed for the next quilt “Green Economy”  

The last sweater

 Behold! Possibly the pinnacle of my knitting career – the final adult-sized jersey.  
I chose the variegated yarn to make something for me and The Huz admired my tension sample and hinted…and suddenly it’s his. 

A few new things for me in this project: 

  1. I’ve combined a chunky (the variegated blue) with a DK (the grey) to make a new yarn of unknown weight. It looks great and has wonderful body…but had a few challenges with Fit…
  2. I’m knitting both sleeves at the same time – on one circular needle using the Magic Loop method. It’s a little clumsy with flapping pieces and tangling balls, but the shaping matches and I don’t have to fear the dreaded Second Sleeve Syndrome.

It’s all going well so why is it the last? 

This is the second time I’ve made it. 

First time round I wasn’t careful enough with the size calculations…and it was ridiculously overlarge. We made a fun family game of the unravelling and I tried to not feel too much of a Muppet. Now I’m grimly determined to finish it before midwinter.

Two large jerseys in quick succession is a bit much for this dabbler. I’m  sticking to small projects from now on.  Maybe there will be a ball of that pretty variegated yarn left over to make something nice for me after all.

Tools are cool

I love to use the right tool for the job. I love tools that are well-made and support me in my making. Here are three of my favourites:

 A “butcher’s knife” by Mr John Russell who took great care in helping me select exactly the right one. It has transformed my culinary practice. You can get your own effortless slice of his action at the Coatesville Market

  A thimble! I could never use one until Debby Williams’ hand-quilting class. Debby taught me how to select a thimble to fit and use it comfortably. She also kindly gifted this one, still my favourite.

My Singer Featherweight sewing machine (stop looking at the kitten! That’s Tiny #Catmate, I’ll tell you about her another day)

Miss Feathers is a delight: compact, sturdy, portable and sews the most perfect straight stitch.

What are your favourite tools?

I prefer to change my own tyre

  I like to be able to do stuff. If you can change your own tyre, you aren’t waiting around for someone else to do it for you.

The more you can do…the more you can do. So I like to learn all sorts of odd off-beat things, building my competence, preparedness, strength, and resilience. You never know what bits will fit together to solve a problem or create a new possibility.

Learning from a person is a great way to build a relationship with them, and to appreciate their wider mastery.  

It takes a few goes sometimes. My bread is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons…but I think I know where to find a master who will give me a demo. I’ll keep working on it.

I’m perfectly capable of changing my own tyre – without wrecking my manicure – if I can get the wheelnuts undone. So, I build in some resilience with an AA membership – the most recent mechanic who met me at the roadside taught me a Protip for the too-tight wheelnut problem too 😊

Memories for all time: #1, the shower

Once upon a time,

…not a vague time, exactly remembered. I was 16, a straight-As student at Carmel College, in the home of my favourite class, the Biology lab, at the end of 4th period on a Thursday late in April.

Cleaning the blackboard at the front of the classroom. Behind the long teachers’ bench that ran across the podium. So neat, that broad space. Territory of of our clever, confident, stylish young teacher, who could use words like “envaginate” without blink or blush and made us all feel we were capable of comprehending anything.

There on the scratchpad, in small flowing script:

I cry in the shower, the falling water hides the sound of pain

It was impossible to look away. My eyes were as caught as my breath, as my heart thudded with a strange mixture of pity, contempt and fear. I will never forget that moment.

Then, I didn’t understand, though I felt the powerful pull of recognition.
Now, I know exactly that feeling.

Then, my teacher seemed another class of human, so far advanced from my own immaturity.
Now, I’m 20 years older than she was.

The great difference is that the contempt and fear are (mostly) gone, gentled with experience and compassion. And I’ve learned to let the water wash away the pain. I hope hers is gone too.