Adventures in Seeing: Welcome the Unexpected, Part Two

As I mentioned in my last post, sometimes the unexpected is very difficult to welcome. The header photograph is my record of some of the unexpected things we had to deal with last month. A fortnight on, things are beginning to settle down, and I’m trying to get back to something approaching normal – whatever the new normal is.  

Creativity is still limited: I’ve found sticking to established routines helps. Creative Sprint, which has been my life saver, has finished, but I’m trying to keep the impetus going by resuming 365 – Make Something Every Day.

I’ve concentrated on filling in the gaps where I missed days out before, and using familiar techniques because I don’t have the emotional energy to try anything too new. I do like the blue feather, though.

The Year of Stitches is making slow progress, but this one has reached the stage where I’m thinking ‘I quite like this’ which motivates me to finish it, so I speed up. I’m planning an outbreak of flowers in the centre, spilling over the lines.

I’m still knitting samples from Nicky Epstein’s ‘Knitting in Circles’, but I have also made an SKO. 

This is a particularly strange ‘strange knitted object’ because the wool (Airedale Wool’s ‘Lustre’, which is otherwise lovely), biased – hence the slanting embroidery and the off balance shape. I don’t usually block SKO’s, but I’m thinking of experimenting with stuffing them with plastic bags to try to even out some of the lumps and bumps. 

When I sat down to write this I thought it was going to be short, because I hadn’t done much – but there ‘s more than I thought. So even if no-one’s reading this, I’ve cheered myself up a bit, which has to be good.


It’s been a busy week.

I knew it was going to be, but when the VHC went down with a tummy bug and had a couple of days off school, it got busier. (He’s better, I’m glad to say.)

Despite that, I seem to have got quite a lot done. There has been wire knitting – the beginnings of another vessel, and some earrings I will probably never wear.

So why make them? Well, the current MSED prompt was about ears, and I couldn’t think of anything except earrings. Except I’ve made a lot of earrings in my time (and I rarely wear those either). So rather than repeat myself completely, and as I’m experimenting with knitting wire, I decided to knit some. I cheated and found a pattern on Knitty, and after lots of mistakes (not the pattern’s fault) I quite like the result. If I was 30 years younger and less grey, lined and haggard I might wear them.

Other knitting has taken place. I can’t knit wire and read subtitles at the same time, so I had to cast on some conventional knitting as well. This is a sample of Sequence Knitting in the round, quite small, but I like the look of it, so I will probably add a base and felt it.

That’s a bit conventional, but I have just finished two SKO’s.  Both experimental, both due to be felted. I’m not sure if thecream  vessel will work, but you never know till you try. The long thin scarf will have the edges wired and it will then coiled up in some, as yet unspecified way.

And finally…

a homemade, largely recycled sketchbook. The cover is the cardboard from a book order, the pages are mostly flyers, painted with emulsion and Brusho. 

And that, plus a very helpful discussion about art, life  and everything with my friend N. made up my week.

Where do I go from here?

Over the weekend, I had one of those moments (would it were only a moment) of self doubt – where am I going?  What am I doing? Is it the right thing? If not, what is?

I decided that the little gloves/hands weren’t going anywhere – on a conventional scale they just look like gloves – and that the masks which I had got excited about after making one for MSED, weren’t going anywhere either. I still like the knitted vessels, but as the lovely Dr James Fox said in his excellent programme about conceptual art last night ’Art without ideas is merely decoration’. 

After a discussion with Wensleydale, who is my best critic (he isn’t afraid to tell me when something doesn’t work, or I’m talking cobblers, which is what I need) I decided:

1. What I want to make is 3D stuff,but it doesn’t have to be knitted, and it doesn’t have to be seamless. (It was a desire to make seamless 3D shapes in fabric which led me to knit them in the first place, but I’m over that now.)

2. So I should just start making 3D things (what sort of things to be decided) in all sorts of fabric techniques and see where the journey takes me.

Hence the wire SKO you see in the image. As an extra touch of weird I dipped it in plaster. Of course the plaster falls off when you move the thing because the wire knitting is very flexible, but ‘it’s only a sample’ – and probably ‘merely decoration’as well. 

I also, regrettably, decided to have another go at papier-mâché. This was a mistake. (You can read more about why over on my other blog.) Papier-mâché and I do not get on.

Two days later the things are barely any drier than they were, although the weather hasn’t helped.

However – they are ‘only samples’, and ‘a learning experience’, although I don’t seem to have learned that papier-mâché and I don’t get on, because I bought one of these in Poundland yesterday.  Not to fill it with a strange green drink to ‘share with  friends’, (I’m not that weird), but because I thought it would make a good mould for papier-mâché. 

So, that was where I was this morning. No more gloves, no more masks, just playing with 3D techniques and enjoying the journey. Well, the bits where I didn’t get covered with paste and bits of paper,  anyway.

Then, despite my decision to give up mask making, I went to the Russell-Cotes Gallery, where they currently have an exhibition of masks and puppets. Which of course reawakened my interest in masks. Now masks are 3D, but in the heavy engineering, carved wood, moulded plastic or, heaven help me,  papier-mâché  sort of 3D. Plus, the masks I found most interesting were the African and Mexican ones, and I try to avoid cultural appropriation. The European comedia del arte masks were lovely but very 3D, and didn’t really inspire me anyway.

So what to do? I’ve had another conversation with Wensleydale, and we’ve come up with a few ideas about masks. The trouble is they don’t involve 3D work, and I was really looking forward to exploring those techniques.

An SKO and Two MSEDs

Above is the SKO (Strange Knitted Object). This is a sampler of all the unlabelled yarn in my stash that I might want to use for the structures I’m making. I need to know if they felt – or in the case of the paper yarn in the middle of the sample, fall apart when wet. So tomorrow this will meet the washing machine, and we will find out what happens. I may be picking shredded paper yarn out of the washer, which will make a change from shredded tissues.

Below are the two latest MSEDs – (Making Something Every Day). No. 50 on the top, No.49 underneath. (I like being confusing.) Neither is terribly original for me, I’ve made cut paper mandalas and button necklaces before, but I was stuck for ideas, and I’d decided I needed a more colourful button necklace than my existing black and brown ones.

I’m now working on another SKO, this time with slightly odd ‘yarns’, like raffia, machine cord, and  string. I know these are unlikely to shrink (apart, possibly from the string), what I want to know is whether any of the colours run.