Knitting

So I learned to knit as an adult (as much of an adult as I’ll ever be).

In fact, I learned to knit about two years ago. I’m 44.

The nice thing about learning to knit in middle age is that, as a crafty person, I’d tried just about every other manually dextrous fiddly skill there was, so it came relatively easily. But I know a lady in my local knitting group who is older than me, way less manually dextrous/spacially fluent than me, who is knitting the most amazing, complicated garment. She’s been at it for 3 years, has frequent advice and remedial help from the more experienced knitters in the group, and almost certainly couldn’t knit even a simple thing on her own, but by golly has she got learning stamina.

Learning a new skill in middle age is almost always really difficult and most of us shy away from it. We say we “can’t” and what we really mean is we are afraid of all that hard work. We are afraid of the feeling of having tried really really hard and not got very far. It’s horrible feeling. I feel it with foreign languages. I never did learn one properly.

But this knitting-challenged friend of mine is my inspiration this week. I am getting back in the saddle with learning things that are difficult for me, dammit. I’m going to get comfy with that feeling of perpetual-near-failure at languages or plumbing or any of the other things I’m finding challenging right now and I’m going to persevere.

And when I’m tired of that feeling, I’ll sit and watch bbc documentaries and knit something.

my latest knitting adventure

Knitting Adventures

Here’s a quick update on the sweater I started.

This yarn is so gorgeous. I have another stranded thing I’m working on that’s on a back burner, and I very much wish it was made of yarn as nice as this, because I’d be much more excited to go back to it.

This is definitely the best Icelandic style sweater I’ve made so far. Hopefully I’ll make many more.

Mosaic Beginnings

So when I was last at my mother’s house in Vermont, I was rifling through her things, as I am wont to do, and I found the most beautiful, amazing cast glass pie dish in the world, which I had never seen before, but which apparently is a family heriloom, having belonged to my great grandmother.

It had a truly fabulous texture-pattern, hard to discern in detail, but I figured a rubbing would give me a good place to start if I ever wanted to do anything with it.

Later, as I was contemplating what sort of giant, circular mosaic to do with the big area in front of the front windows, I came across the rubbing and had a sort of clouds-parting-angels-singing moment. So I scanned the rubbing and started to develop it with a black pen. Here’s where I got to:

I’ll probably put something interesting in the middle, not quite sure what yet. There’s also a border to go round the outside, that was on the sides of the pie dish. So there’s work to be done on the design, and more work than I want to think about on the actual mosaic. It will take many, many back-breaking weeks to make. But it will be pretty spectacular.

First Corset Course a Success!

A roaring success of a first time through the Corset In A Day Course at riversMEET craft cafe!

CAKE!

Happy birthday to me. I made a cake, partly because it’s my birthday and partly because it had been so long since I did it, I wanted to make sure I still could.

Turns out I’ve still got it.

I’ve got this amazing fluffy sponge cake recipe from the internet, and this time I added some lemon rind, and made the filling buttercream with the lemon juice. Very zingy.

I got a lot of my inspiration to learn this stuff from Margaret Braun’s book, which included these lovely little curls for lightening up the whole silhouette of the cake.

I made them out of some old sugar flower paste that had been opened a long time and was really dry and crumbly. I figured I’d try to bring it back, just to see if I could. It turns out if you add a bit of water (wet fingers while working) and work it a while, it comes back to perfect, as-new pliability. The blue also made a lovely base colour to give the gold paint some depth.

I did the sugar paste in one big blanket over the whole cake, since it was only about eight inches high and six wide. I’m glad I have developed my skill, because it was slightly challenging, but it worked pretty well.

A quick base coat of black, just because it’s what I had. But next time, I’m definitely doing crazy bright colours.

Piping curls… I really need more practice at this. If I’m ever bored again, I will just mix up a batch of royal icing and sit piping curls onto a vertical surface, just to improve.

Meanwhile, they come out good enough to paint them black in preparation to give them the antique, broken, slightly rough look that I love.

Getting there… time flying… need to get on with it if I’m going to get out of here on time.

The gold paint. I love this bit. Although it is SO time consuming. I was glad this cake was so small, thinking back over some of the huge ones I’ve had to do this paint job to.

I do love the effect though. Happy birthday to me. I’m going to do this again soon.

Many Projects Starting At Once

Ok, I’ve got the knitting of a sweater, the making of a tweed 3-piece suit and an Elizabethan dress all starting up in the last week. This doesn’t make for tidy blogging but I will probably just rely on tags for people wanting to follow progress on one thing and not ALL THE THINGS. And I will probably put together a proper documentary post on at least the suit and the dress when they’re done.

Meanwhile, here are a few pictures of each thing to get us all in the mood:

Above, sweater progress. Need to watch more tv.

Below, suit progress. Mainly cutting out and overlocking pieces so far. Will hopefully get the trousers constructed in one day and get started on the Jacket. Have yet to draft the waistcoat pattern from an existing garment.

And now, the Elizabethan dress. I am very excited about this. I have been given a brief and a few resource pictures by my boss at the costume shop and a pile of fabrics that have been languishing in the hamper for god knows how long. Now I get to Make Shit Up. I love this more than anything. Cartridge pleats… stomachers… starched neck ruffs. I’m like a pig in shit.

So watch this space, or like me on the various social media options and there will be more soon!

Wire Wrapping

Just going through some old stuff as I sort out my workspace and open a lot of boxes I haven’t looked in for years. Here are some lovely masks I made:

The one above has just plain glass cabochons for eyes, but the one below I glued a paper iris and pupil to the back of it and it looks great. I can’t wait to make more of these. I need to do a class…

Upcycled Vegan Taxidermy

Here’s my latest taxidermy venture. This one’s made from poly felt and a butchered toy owl I found at a charity shop.

I need to work on the expression, but I’m pretty happy with it. I certainly learned a lot in terms of technique.

The ears are wire supported, but I think I would do it differently next time and sew the wire into the seam allowance for more poseability. I also had to do a lot of cinching with the eye area, so I might put them in from the inside next time.

If you fancy learning, and happen to be in the Sheffield area, I’m doing this as a course at Running With Scissors, so feel free to sign up!

Cake!

Time for a cake interlude.

I can’t actually remember who I made this cake for or why. I mean obviously I made it because I love making crazy cakes. But I often have other reasons, like birthdays and weddings.

I haven’t made one of these in ages because of the lack of kitchen.

I am so on the cusp of making one though, I miss the making and the eating.