Saturday, 30 April 2011

Useless

Despite all my high hopes for today I've done, ummm let me think - nothing. It's been what I call a "meh day". Nothing has pleased me or entertained me for more than a nano second. I've been out, shopped, had cups of comforting tea, a few nice phonecalls, a nap, a bubbly bath, some reading, crispy duck and pancakes, watched telly and generally tried to indulge my way out of the doldrums, all to no avail.

I hereby declare this day a fail and hope that tomorrow brings me a better mood and possibly a more favourable hormone balance. My husband would also be very pleased if this happens.

Mosquito in a Nudist Camp

Once again I've been over to Lynn's to take photos of her garden. I'm fancying some painting this week and short of sitting out there in the elements, this is the next best thing. My camera is older than god and doesn't do much but point and click, but it's enough for me to use for inspiration.

I love the alien landscape of buds and stalks, especially poppies and spring flowers. They've all been fooled into growing early this year by the sunshine we've had in April, so we're way ahead of the usual schedule.

Poppies change so much, from buds to full blooms to seedheads. I've always found them utterly fascinating. The colours are massively varied and I get the squee when I see an unusual one. I used to grow them in Jay's garden and we had blues, burgundies, blacks and reds.

I watched a TV documentary years ago about a chap who would spread poppies all over the countryside. One of his tricks was to put seeds in balls of compost and dung and throw them from a moving train. If you travel to London at certain times of the year you can see little pockets of poppies near various stations and stopping points where he scattered them. That's an amazing legacy to have.

When I was little, maybe 6 or 7, we had a garden at school and I remember taking some packets of sweet pea seeds in for the caretaker to plant. They grew ferociously and I watched them daily throughout the summer. The school has been knocked down now, but I was there a few years ago on the spot where the garden used to be. It's all grass now, but astonishingly there were sweet peas in flower on the ground exactly where mine were planted. Could they be the same ones I wonder? I like to think so.

I don't have much of a garden, sadly. What little I do have is currently looking like Steptoe's yard, desperately in need of a good sort out and de-leafing. It doesn't get a lot of sun, so the clematis is way behind everyone else's in the neighbourhood. I expect there'll be flowers soon though, as we have a multitude of buds. I must remember to go and remove snails, as they managed to eat the whole plants one year. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow and give the place a jetwash while I'm at it. It's increasingly difficult to drag myself away from my work here to do anything outdoors. I could do with my days being a good ten hours longer in order to fit everything in.


We're popping to town this morning to good old B&Q for supplies. I'm looking forward to getting back and cracking on with a few things. I'm once again struggling to fit all the projects in that are going on in my head. Someone posted this on Twitter the other day and it summed me up perfectly:

"I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don't know where to begin. STEPHEN BAYNE"

Friday, 29 April 2011

Some Work and Felting Fail

I haven't been able to resist the crochet. It's hard to believe that it's just over a week since I started learning and despising it. How fickle I am that I now love it. The yarn I got in Scotland has been screaming at me to play with it and it required something a little larger than the flowers I learned to make last week. I found some different ones and mucked about to see what I could do with the patterns. This is the result. I have no idea what I'm going to do with them now though.









I've also made the cover for another tiny book. It's tricky to photograph with the means at my disposal, but it's 4cm x 4cm, covered with paper that I've bonded onto interfacing, then both machine stitched and hand embroidered, and sporting a mother of pearl button and linen thread closure. I have some really splendid paper for the pages with a gentle grain and fine watermark. The whole thing will shortly be sewn together and suspended on white satin ribbon.

I do love miniature things, which was sure to be applied to some of my work eventually. I go crazy for tiny knitted things and those polymer clay sweeties, cakes, etc. I'm also lusting after some handmade ceramic buttons from Little Brick House on Folksy, especially this one which I think I'll be needing this week.

Today I've mucked about with trying to felt some pure lambswool sweaters, which I've been wanting to do for ages. I have to say it's been a complete and utter fail. I've read up on it over the months, taking in the tips about washing, rubbing, tumble drying and all that carry on, but the sweaters remain sweatery. One of them has become so nice from being boiled that it's probably better off being worn. This wool must have come from some supersheep with magical powers. I obviously need to get some yarn and knit the blinking things myself before felting, but I was wanting to avoid this and be all recycle queen. Kh. It's not like I'm a stranger to felt, I've done wet felting, needle felting and used pre-formed craft felt a million times. Is this my payment for refusing to join in the stupid royal wedding palava? I've probably waxed vitriolic on the subject just once too often for my own good.

There's a ciabatta with spicy chilli chicken here with my name on it now, so I'm off to feast.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Ode to the Industrial Northern Town

Ack. Just got back from a trip out. Ikea was ace (as always) and I got my lusted-after cake stand as well as a few other bits that I needed. Yes needed, despite what Monsieur Umbel says.

The bad part was coming back and visiting Widnes town centre. What a hellhole it's become. Two new charity shops have opened in the last month. Now I like chairty shops as much as the next hoarder, but it's getting ridiculous. There are five or six of them in a 100 yard strip now, mostly full of utter bilge. The worst by far is the YMCA one, a new store set up on the cold embers of the late Ethel Austin's shop. I defy anyone to go in there and a) brave the hideous toothless, ranting staff or b) find even one item worth buying, and believe me, I tried. I'll give the Sue Ryder shop a little bit of grudging credit for the basket of cheap yarn by the till, but this is almost cancelled out by the two scabby dolls' houses for sale at over £120 each.

I know you shouldn't judge a whole town by its shops, but you'll be with me when I tell you that on many railings at junctions there have appeared signs advertising a company that will deliver booze straight to your door if you call them. Who needs to call out for alcohol? Why would you do this? Surely it's scraping the very rock bottom of Jeremy Kyle culture? Plus, you don't want to be facepalming in despair at traffic lights, because it makes you miss the green and people in their 4x4s will honk at you, or in extreme cases, drive right over the top of you to get past.

Now I'm no snob. I was dragged up in a Widnes council estate and only got new clothes at xmas and easter, but have pity on us and someone please sort out our industrial northern towns. I long for a better day out than this place can offer. I don't want to have nothing but a trip to the local Wilkinsons to look forward to. I don't need silk flowers or cheap emulsion paint that sweats off the walls the second the central heating comes on.

On the good side, the libraries are always empty and peaceful, even if they are stocked almost exclusively with Mills and Boon and Andy McNabb novels. The nice lady will order in anything you like and there's a spanking new computerised system for checking out by yourself. I feel like I'm on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise when I use it. We have a river too, though it would be much improved by less shopping trolleys and old car tyres poking out of the sand/mud. This is not just a cliché I've grabbed out of thin air by the way, the banks of the Mersey really are festooned with junk that would give any fly tipper the hots.

I'm off to diffuse my inner rants by playing with my Ikea presents.

Older Posts

I've spent a bit of time copying over some of the older blog posts from my website to here, just to give some context to what I post these days. The very first post on this blog now is my potted biography, a condensed version of my artistic background and meagre achievements.

I sincerely doubt any of it's of interest to folk, but it makes me feel much more organised to have it here, rather than a disembodied blog simply flashing into existence out of nowhere.

This is like moving in properly and unpacking all the boxes. Once I've hoovered up we'll all be fine and dandy.

Watercolour Sketchbook Work

I found an old sketchbook the other day, hiding in the bottom of a cupboard. It's got a bit of water damage, or as I prefer to call it, character. I reckon it's about 15 years old, surely a bit of a vintage find? So I photographed some of it to put here. By photographed, I mean a slapdash attempt that took all of two minutes, so my apologies to the people who would cringe at my efforts.

It's all about fruit. I was looking at texture with a view to developing into latex fabrics. Oddly enough, this one had a little success as the resulting designs were used in the first X Men movie for costume fabrics.











Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Aprés Scotland

Home safe and sound from the great north. Driving home is great, it's all downhill and you can practically take your foot off the gas and coast from Glasgow all the way to the M62, or at least it feels that way. We were fantastically fortunate with the traffic both ways, which is an amazing feat around the bank holiday.

While I was there I went to a little craft shop in my sister's street and got a ball of wool. not just any old ball of wool mind you, this is variegated colourings of brown through cream and orange. Not the kind of colours I'd usually go for at all, but it was so beautiful that I had to have it. There was only the one of them and it was a quid, so I'm pleased as anything. I've spent a bit of time today making this with it. It's about 10cm across, so it's a giant of a flower when compared with my others. It's all done in one continuous piece, a new technique for me.








Tartiflette
  The little break was just splendid. The weather was glorious and we had a great time with my sis and girls. We miss them terribly so it's always an absolute treat to see them. Much amazing food was had (back to my frugal eating ways again after today). Sis made tartiflette, one of my all time favourite dishes. She also got up early and made us a huge apple cake before she went to work so it was waiting for us when we arrived. How brilliant is she?




Sis and I on our bench on the green






She loved the flower brooch and wore it the whole time I was there, as you can see in the photo. I must also mention that the bag I'm holding came from Folksy seller and maker of fabberoony things, Jane at PidgeonStitch

We stumbled across a brilliant charity shop where I got some old fashioned sewing books (I'm addicted to books) and little peculiar things. One such item was a carved wooden apple with removable articulated worm. I don't know why I had to have it, but I did. I also made a spectacular find of some pure lambswool jumpers that will be massacred and made into something completely different very soon. I've looked in my local charity shops for months and not found any, so I was overjoyed.

I did crafting with my nieces after school. They were tired and overwrought but they did me proud. They made a shopping bag each, a resist painting and a hairband with organza flowers, all in the space of a couple of hours. We did most of this outdoors in the garden and had a great time picking nosey flies out of the liquid latex on the paper.

Speaking of gardens, I must give an honourable mention to the birds. I say birds, though the little beasties almost defy description. The racket of them was something to behold. Dawn chrous my arse, it was more like punk anthems a-gogo. They're also very fat and land in the grass with a great "WHUMP", a bit like you'd expect a small meteorite to settle. The cat kept running off, scared for its life, but it is a soft southern cat so you wouldn't expect it to have anything like the balls those birds display.

I've come home to a not so brilliant time. I don't handle frustration and anger too well and I've spent most of the day being all a-dither. I won't go into detail, no sense in bringing the world down with me, eh? We went to the flicks this afternoon to try and shake off the bad moodedness, but Thor was a total arsepit of a movie and only served to vex me further at the plight of the world.

Onwards and upwards for tomorrow. Jay's still off work so we'll make the most of the rest of the holidays.

Monday, 25 April 2011

I Shouldn't Laugh....

I was up at silly o'clock this morning to get ready for my trip. As I got out of the shower I heard a house alarm going off. They appear to have some sort of deal with house alarms round here, I've never heard them so loud. I suppose it must be the devil in me, but I couldn't help chuckling to myself. All those people having holiday lie-ins. I fancy there was some disgruntled person who had to go to work today and thought, "Sod it, I'm setting the alarm off. If I can't sleep in nobody will."

If you ever visited here you'd know why I'm so amused. There are all kinds of unruly savages, like the ones who stole my crochet friend Lynn's cherry tree out of her garden yesterday. Yes, that's right, they stole a tree. They also set one of her trees on fire once. Then there are the eggs, which I've already gone on about, as well as stones thrown at the windows, car tampered with, playing football right outside my front door, having all night parties with kareoke (that ought to be a criminal offence) and a whole host of other irritating activities that transform me into the local Victor Meldrew.

Bring on the zombie apocolypse I say.

Anyway, I'm just having my morning coffee while my nails dry. I'm wearing a rather fetching shade of purple today, if anyone's interested (and why would you be? It's probably just me who's spent the past 30 years looking for the nail polish that will change my life). We're setting off shortly to pick up my adorable nieces en route and land in Strathaven round about mid afternoon. You could do worse than to Google Strathaven, it's beautiful there.

To celebrate my holiday up north, here's a painting I did after my last visit there when I photographed winter umbels for inspiration. I believe I did this the day after Boxing Day when we were snuggled up here in the warm, watching the snow outside. A far cry from our beautiful sunshine just recently.

It's a scanned-in drawing that I Photoshopped into a design with no particular direction in mind. I did a lot of green images around about that time. I'll probably post a few more here eventually.

Isn't it nice to be able to post pictures each day on your blog? I'm rather enjoying it.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

String!

Well I guess it had to be done. I tried the really hairy string and it was most unpleasant. I think it's some sort of raw jute or maybe freshly plucked hairs from an elephants butt, because it's too gross for words. Don't like.

I found some softer string and it was just the job. I think everyone should learn to crochet with soft string because you can see all the stitches really well and it's much easier when it's not a big mishmash of yarn.



So I made two flowers and of course they turned out much bigger than the yarn ones, which is cool. I've attached them together and made them into a brooch for my sister. She'll have to wear it for fear of offending me, even if she hates it. Hahahaha! I do love a captive audience!

I'm going to have to learn something else though. I'm getting fed up of this all being flowers, even though I'm now loving making them. I found myself idly making a chain using of an old bit of wool and a pencil earlier when I was tidying up. Can't work out if that's a good thing or not.




Scotland in the morning, so probably no updates from me for a day or two. I'm not quite packed yet, so I need to go foraging through my cupboards for something to wear. My usual weekday garb of scruffy t-shirt and too-big jeans simply won't do while I'm away. I may also have to do something with my nest hair. Tsk.

I'm so looking forward to being in the countryside and seeing spring, erm, springing. I'll also be making arty things with my nieces and I might even talk my sis into having a go. I shall take photos galore and proudly show off their creations when I get home.

I hope you all have a very happy holiday away from me and my crocheted flowers.

Fingers to the Bone

Bright ideas and all that. The little bouquet I made was quite nice, so I made another one. This is lots larger and has buttons on stems as well (22 stems in total). I learned some new crochet flowers, mucked about and made some of my own design too, and generally spent the past 14 hours doing it. Now I know why people charge £569832945 for these blinking things.
 Should I list this for sale or not? If yes, then how much do I charge for it? I know it took an age to do, but my skills are hardly honed are they?

 Additional pictures here after it was correctly pointed out that the quality of the underside is very important. I'm not experienced in this really, but I've used florist's wire and tape on each stem, then taped up the whole bouquet and added a crocheted swirly thing that I'm most proud of having learned how to do this morning :-)

I think it looks neat and tidy, but are there other/better ways of doing this? I really would like to know if anyone has any tips or advice at all.




I've been rendered somewhat ashamed by the massive tidy-up and sort out that my beloved has embarked upon this weekend. He's cleared his geek room and binned a load of old stuff. I went to see how he was getting on and right there in the middle of all his spotlessness was a huge pile of my art stuff, staring at me and making me feel guilty. I shuffled through it a bit and threw some things away (why do I keep tiny offcuts of paper and weird ugly things that are never going to be any use?), but then it was time for lunch so we skedaddled downstairs and I tried to forget my sins.


Today I am at the very least going to tidy my desk and this avalanche threat that's scaring me here. If I can muster up some enthusiasm I'll also put a load of stuff in my art cupboard. It's currently all in neat little piles waiting to be put away. I hate organising like this, even if it does mean I free my mind up for other things and can have the glorious benefit of being able to actually find things.

Some other organising it pressing. We're off to Scotland tomorrow for a few days to visit my sis and her girls. I've promised to take some materials and do some art and crafts with them, so I need to get the kit together.  I'm thinking some shrink plastic and findings so they can make jewellery and maybe a keyring, as well as some pastels, watercolours and such to teach them some resist painting (they're especially keen on this idea). I reckon they'd also like to make a felt or organza flower each for their hair. Doesn't sound much, but a sizeable amount of gear is needed for all of this. I'll limit myself to what will fit in my wheelie art case though, as I tend to go crazy when choosing materials.

The easter bunny has passed me by this morning. It's not as though I don't eat easter eggs as soon as they appear in the supermarket though. I do believe I scoffed one or two in February, so I guess I owed him. I'm lucky he didn't come and leave me a bill for payment of goods received in advance.

Enough procrastinating now. I need to start the Sunday pottering and get the washing on the line.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Overkill and Dugadoo Paintings

I don't normally blog as much as I have today, in fact this must be some kind of world record. I am however home alone this evening and to keep me out of mischief I'm at my desk. I'm too tired to do fiddly work (eyes are the first to go) so I've been looking through some of my files and found a few images.

These will never be up for sale or shown anywhere really, so I thought I'd post them here. They're watercolour illustrations for a book I wrote once called "Dugadoo". It's the tale of a little girl who gets a baby sister and isn't too thrilled. She creates an imaginary monster to scare the sister silly and it works a treat. Unfortunately the monster becomes real and eats their parents. You can probably see why I never published it. Oh and it's all in rhyme.





More Crochet Fail (not my fault this time)

Since it's been such a glorious day we decided to get ourselves outdoors for the afternoon. Those who know me will already be aware that I don't get out much and I'm certainly not a fan of the sun, but it's spring and we're off together, etc. Seemed like a good plan.

I had this spiffing notion to take some wool and crochet hooks down to the river and sit there being all hippy and earth friendly, making flowers. Trés romantic. We popped to town first and got cash out for the window cleaner (it's all glam round here), also calling into a newsagents for a grand northern town picnic of Quavers, pop and Choc Dips. Now that's class for you, we even bought pudding.

The sun was scorching, but there was a nice little breeze, so it was idyllic. The river had a whole other set of ideas though. We got out of the car (hot like the devil's armpit it was) and walked to the nearest available free spot. We couldn't help but notice the wind, as it was fluttering us quite strongly. After a few minutes it became apparent that we weren't going to be doing much of anything delicate there. You know how Quavers always stick together, one curl hanging onto the other? Well the hanger on bit got blown away. Then the bottles of pop flew off the bench, shortly followed by hub's book and my handbag. My hair was whipping around in a most unattractive fashion and my t-shirt was doing that clinging to the fat bits thing that we all know and hate.

Nature does not want me to crochet. I didn't even get as far as delving into my bag for the wool, it seemed pointless to spend half an hour untangling it from my wayward hair. Sheesh. I should also mention that the tide was coming in faster than you'd believe possible. All in all it was more scarytastic than sunny summer afternoon frolic. I am reminded why I stay here at my desk where it's safe.

Photographic proof with exasperated face pulling (thought I'd better add that last bit lest you think my mug is always twisted like that):

Is it Too Soon?

We all know I have this thing for mixing things that should not be together. I hold my hands up about the embroidering onto leather thing that still hasn't really turned out right, but the urge remains.

Considering how new I am to the crochet world, is it time to start being silly with it yet? I caught myself eyeing up some very hairy string earlier, wondering what it would do if I approached it with my hooks (yarrrrr I be a pirate). I've seen pictures of crochet with all kinds of weird and wonderful things, even strips of folded magazine pages. Am I being an upstart in considering taking this step when I've only just managed to (inelegantly) create a few objects?

I am painfully aware of my crochet failings (as are you, since I keep going on about it, sorry). My next step has to be to attempt to become graceful in my execution. If those Youtube tutorials (and watching Lynn) have taught me anything it's that these ladies have such graceful ways about them. Long willowy fingers holding the yarn beautifully, keeping the tension just so and moving with co-ordination usually only seen in Olympic level figure skating. Me, I'm like a caveman weidling a lumpy twig, elbows flailing and mouth uttering vulgarities by the minute. I bring death metal screams to a previously delicate craft.

To my continued shame I also must admit that I have a few sets of book covers here patiently waiting for me to give them their pages and make them whole. Well, I say patiently, but the guilt I'm suffering at not having completed them is surely coming from their cries of woe. Why must everything give me a hard time? Inanimate objects ought to remain so and not vex me with their needs.

I may grant myself a little holiday today, or at least not approach any project with seriousness. A dabble here and there perchance? It is a bank holiday after all. My beloved's off work having taken the famous three days holiday that magically turn into eleven days out of the workplace, just like about 75% of Britain's workforce. I'm not remotely interested in the royal wedding, but I am appreciative of the gift of my husband back here with me.

There's a fly in here, constantly bothering me. This is what we get for having the doors and windows open in astonishingly good spring weather. It keeps landing on my hair, presumably because I've washed it and not dried it yet so it's looking like a large nest. Even the fecking insects are judging me.

Turncoat Blogger

Yes, here I am appearing on Blogspot. Why is this? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Despite it making me feel like a traitor and fly by night hack, I've moved myself to this new platform. It's akin to shifting the balance on your credit card to a new institution, a bit of goodbye, nice knowing you, but I've found something better. Also slightly reminiscent of that three week relationship I had with a lad back in 1987 who worked on a farm. Malcolm was never going to be long-term, he had no clue how to wear a pair of jeans sexily and sported a funny surname, so he was never going to be Mr Jools. Hey, I was shallow back then, what can I say? I was holding out for Robert Plant.

Anyway, my existing arty blog on my website is a tad flaky, as people have pointed out this week. That's just one of its issues if I'm honest. It takes ages to load, frequently won't let me log in and is skating dangerously close to its file limit for images. All in all it's the little blog outpost on the edge of the desert, last place selling gas for 300 miles, staffed by an old chap in baggy jeans and a stained grey vest with an attitude that could strip the paint off your bonnet with one withering sideways glance.

Another reason, if I need more, is that so many people I'm coming into contact with in the creative world have blogs here and I would very much like to be able to follow them easily. Using this here site will enable me to prune down my 200 mile long favourites list a bit, thus giving me at-a-glance-access to my bookmarks once more, which is what it was originally intended for (thank you Firefox for your wonderful work. I love you).

In a measure of uncharacteristic thoughtfulness I have moved my last couple of blog entries with me. This is my "Hey, over here!" wave to the few people who can be bothered reading my whitterings. Good to have you here guys.

In my defense, and to hopefully shatter the image I've built for myself as a flibbertygibbet, I feel I ought to mention that I've been loyal to one blog for over eight years. I started on Livejournal back in the dawn of internet time and catalogued my daily life with gusto. Unfortunately, due to the nature of that daily grind, it's not really fit for public viewing. I don't imagine anyone cares too much about my wrangles with divorced exes, troubles with gas and electricity providers or my too frequent boiling rage directed at the local lollipop man on the school crossing.

So here I am, by way of introduction to those who don't know me from Adam. I shall be writing about my strange journey in the land of art, design and craft. I am now four months into my full time regime of artistic development after a number of years working as an office monkey. I do veer from the path of the above occasionally, but I won't be meandering too far.

There's a rather long biography describing how I came to be where I am if you look here http://joolsyasities.webs.com/biography.htm

There's also a whole load of other stuff there, including galleries of my various work. I won't be neglecting it going forward, it's just the blog feature that requires shunning.

A happy easter holiday weekend to everyone. Enjoy this most unusual and clement weather we've got, and don't forget your sunscreen.

Progress

I worked very hard today and have come up with this. Still not got to grips with patterns or that sort of stuff, so I mucked about a bit.

Not really a blog post per se, I just wanted to share my joy after the vile day yesterday when I was starting to learn.


I voiced my reluctance to follow patterns when I saw Lynn. I have this cool idea of being a freeform chrocheteer, all hip and whatnot, but she tells me she has a book with a pattern for making a Dalek. I'm pretty much convinced by that.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Crochet Saboteur

I want a medal. I’ve done the washing up (granted mostly because my hands were cold and I thought it’d warm me up) and cleaned the backdoor. No, this is not a euphemism, I really have cleaned the back door. Scrubbed off splattered eggs to be more precise.  For some reason the local kids manage to periodically drag themselves away from their Playstations,  X Boxes, marijuana smoking and underage fumblings in alleyways to come and throw eggs at my house. Occasionally they go for a bit of variety and throw mud instead, but there have to be certain precise weather conditions for that.

Of all the hateful, scum sucking jobs in the world, cleaning off solidified egg has to be right there at the top of the list. I would know, I’ve got children and I’ve had to perform some doozies of cleaning jobs in my time. Once, my daughters covered themselves head to toe in my deep purple hair dye. Yes, I know, it’s my own fault for having it in the first place and for leaving it within reach, but sending them to school in various fading shades of red and pink as it gradually wore off was an experience in itself. The headmistress was most concerned for their welfare after that.

Is it any wonder I have a growing paranoia about being the local neighbourhood funny lady? It’s bad enough that I sit at my desk for a goodly amount of hours per day, slowly becoming like that pale, withered, slimy grass you find when you lift a rock up in the garden. I don’t have woodlice or earthworms on me yet, but it’s only a matter of time. The actions of the local youth mafia are akin to posting a sign in my yard warning of evil within. Why eggs? Can anybody tell me what the fascination is? I’m tempted to go out and about lobbing a few myself to see if it’s something I’ve missed that might bring on that enormous sense of wellbeing that people go on about.

I suppose I’d better offer an update on the nail-bitingly scintillating crochet progress, eh? I sat myself down yesterday with some new yarn that I picked up in town. I thought it might be inspiring, and hoped it would be less splitty than the other stuff I had. It was also reduced to £1.50 per ball.  It took an hour of hideous mess ups and nasty, woolly, skanky things rolling off the hook before I finally sorted myself out and produced anything that actually looked like crochet. There was a Youtube video tutorial involved, at which I yelled and cursed as the woman irritated me beyond measure. Talking too slowly, then too quickly, rambling on about her crochet hooks (see, I don’t call them needles any more) and being all condescending with me. She refused to stop when I made mistakes and I huffed and puffed throughout.

Eventually I managed to create the thing below, which I stuck onto a piece of paper and posted through Lynn’s front door. I think she’sproud of the end result, though she might be less so if she’d witnessed the process. It wasn’t that relaxed granny-by-the-fire-with-cat-at-feet-and-cup-of-tea-and-warm-smile thing at all. This is not how I pictured crochet.


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

My Ineptitude Shines Like a Beacon in the Night

I've made killer coffee this morning. It borders on the undrinkable, even for me, but I'm not going to let it win. Maybe it'll fuel me with some energy? We can but hope.

What a grim day I had for most of yesterday. When my beloved is away I immediately turn into some crazy cat lady (minus the cats, which I think is pretty bad). I started off well, but as the day grew older my motivation seeped away, leaving me sitting on the couch with a bag of crisps by 3pm. I haven't had such junk food in months, but there I went. I even swtiched the TV on, a most unadvisable action in the daytime. My brain cringed away in fear, so I had some chocolate too.

The house is a disgrace. I did some washing and hung it on the line by way of fooling myself into feeling just a tad industrious. I keep saying every day that I'm going to splurge and clean up, but I never get past the first half hour.

So, next I got some more stuff out and had a muck about with my sewing machine. The idea for making a miniature book in white has worked rather well. I bonded some achingly gorgeous watercolour paper with interfacing and machine stitched onto it, then hand embroidered over that. This book is 4cm x 4cm, so it's mindbogglingly fiddly, but it looks the business. I've ironed out the few things that I wasn't keen on in the last ones I made and it's going well. I still have to cut and assemble the pages, which I'll do this morning and then sew the whole lot together. I guess I ought to feel some small sense of accomplishment that I got anything at all done really, given my lack of mojo.

The evening was the bit I was dreading most. I'm used to being alone all day and working, the time goes by in a flash, but night time is when Jay's here and we do couple things. What would any sane person do? That's right, pop out and grab a curry. I have a most unhealthy addiction to lamb dhansak and will eat it anytime I'm able. I don't do it too often for fear that one day they'll have to take the side of the house off to help me get out, but it seemed reasonable to treat myself this once. Oh the joy! It was glorious. I'm beginning to suspect that there's something about chilli we're not told. The stuff is addictive, no less so than heroin. I crave it. I feel bitter disappointment if a dish is not as spicy as I feel it ought to be. I fancy that in 100 years people will be looking back in dodgy TV documentaries, gasping with shock that such a drug was ever legal and widely available, a bit like they do about the introduction of cocaine back in the day.

Aprés curry, I involved myself in something most unusual. My friend from just over the garden wall popped over to give me a mini class in crochet. This is something I have never done, to my shame, since I've learned bits and pieces of pretty much every other art and craft known to man. The hole in my knowledge needed filling and Lynn was the man for the job.

As is always the way when Lynn and I get together, we made tea (rose flavoured this time), gossipped a bit and shared our latest creative results. This takes quite a while when anyone comes here because I have endless projects, either on the go or finished and laying all round my workspace. There's always another, "oh wait, I made this too" to be endured. Poor Lynn. We also rifled through our button/thread/yarn stashes and enjoyed the ladyporn aspects of it that many people just wouldn't understand. It's simply phenomenal being able to share these peculiar little joys.

Yes, I'm procrastinating. The crochet bit. Oh great jumping jebus, what a carry on. In my defense, I've never had much in the way of co-ordination. I can learn to work a process if I give it time, but brand new things with unfamiliar tools are a geat source of vexation for me. Lynn would confirm this wholeheartedly as she has been the unfortunate victim of my inadequacies in this regard before. The only time I've ever felt more flummoxed than this was when I was learning to drive, and Lynn was privvy to that little debacle too, but that's another story.

Unlike most methods I use, crochet makes absolutely no sense to me. I can knit, sew, paint, draw, use Photoshop, Excel, build a simple website, blowdry my hair, apply makeup (to make even me look passable), sculpt, cast, dye, weave, print, the list goes on. But crochet, man, it has no basis in reality. You make a chain, which I've mastered, and then it all goes crazymad. It reminds me of the ill fated time I tried aerobics. I went to this class and they taught me a vine leaf (or somethng) little routine that is the basis of all the moves. You do this automatically to keep your lower half busy while you flail your arms hereabouts. Everyone else was vine leafing with aplomb, but me? No chance. I couldn't do it without scrunching up my eyes and concentrating as though I were working out quadratic equations in my head. I felt I were Michael Jacksonesque for even managing to keep in motion, but this wasn't enough. Needless to say it was a total fail and I never went back. I was similar with yoga. The instructor gave this great motivational speech at the start about people having different ability levels and it was just a matter of time before you got into the ryhthm, but by the end of the class he was in hysterics laughing at my attempts. He advised I go home and try it alone before returning, as he was afraid I'd hurt myself. Hurt his sides from guffawing more like. Again, I never returned.

So, back to crochet. I'm not going to let it beat me. I'll work hard and I hope to be able to post a completed small "thing" through Lynn's door by the end of the week, just to show her I'm not totally inept. All she's seen so far is a nasty little green blob that I managed to create, sadly comparible to a bogey. I don't want her to be disappointed in me and I must prove that I can win this fight. I think she'll be even more pleased than when I passed my driving test, though I recall vividly the conversation she relayed to me between her and my driving instructor right afterwards, where he shook his head and uttered in his spikey Glaswegian way, "I wouldnae have put money on it.".

I don't think I'll ever be the crochet queen, but I'd like a little of what everyone else appears to have. If I can make just one granny square or just one flower I'll be satisfied.