Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bunny Power (plus a little guinea pig power too!)

The amazingly talented Carla Sonhiem has a 5 second tutorial on her blog to create Easy Tombo Bunnies! I just had to have a go. Using watercolour paper, a black felt pen & a brush...
I like how the different colours come from the black pen; blues, greys, purple. Now my bunnies may not be anatomically correct, but I think they look happy enough! Though maybe I should add whiskers?
Of course, I couldn't have rabbits without guinea pigs, so here is a cavy...
And yes, I realise he doesn't have any legs, but most of the time guinea pigs look like furry potatoes anyhow! Check out Carla's tutorial and share your bunnies!

Monday, 28 March 2011


One of my favourite things to do on my days off work is to go out for lunch on my own. Just me on a Monday or Tuesday, and the company of a good book. Daydreaming whilst watching people busy about. There is a feeling of luxury about this, peaceful, definite 'me time'. This video from Tanya Davis and Andrea Dorfman sums up that feeling perfectly.

Speaking of alone, more guinea pig trauma. Godber passed away on Friday. Sudden, unexpected. Died of a broken heart.
So for now it is just Oscar, alone.
We shall let him settle in properly before thinking about a friend.

The Spreull Family and their knitted stockings

Every time I go to the Hunterian Art Gallery I am drawn to a painting by David Allan of The Spreull Family.
David Allan - The Spreull Family, 1793
Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow
Not because of the size (though at 117cm x 154cm it is huge), nor the detailing of the landscape, nor the expressions on the sitters faces, nor the little girl sitting on the floor staring into the distance, not even the gun dog on the right. I am drawn to this painting because the older lady has in her lap on double pointed knitting needles the start of some socks! Actually they are probably stockings, as apparently socks were rarely worn in the 18th century.

The artist David Allan (1744 - 1796) studied at the Foulis academy in Glasgow. Allan spent ten years living and painting in Italy, before returning, firstly to London and then back to Scotland. He became renowned for his genre paintings or conversation pieces, usually of families in informal settings (such as this painting). The family were the Spreull family, the father is James, graduate of Glasgow University, City Chamberlain and Superintendent of the Clyde. With his bright red hunting jacket, the vast landscape and size of the painting, this is all about James showing off his wealth and power. His wife Margaret (McCall) sits with their three eldest children (records show that they went on to have ten children in total). And to the very left of the picture, looking rather sternly, with knitting in her lap is Hannah (Park), James's mother.

Stockings were worn by everyone and without the advent of lyrca or nylon, they were made to fit the leg, narrower at the knee and ankle, and wider at the calf and thigh. Very poor people may have had stockings cut from woven cloth, rather than knitted. These would not have stretched very well, and may have been uncomfortable, so knitted stockings were preferable. Stockings could be machine knitted, as a stocking frame had been invented in 1589 by William Lee. The story is that Lee invented it to get revenge on his girlfriend who preferred to spend her time knitting rather than attending to him! By the mid-18th century machine knitted stockings were commonplace. So much so that hand knitters of stockings would, despite knitting in the round, imitate a seam by adding a line of purl stitches. Usual stitches for stockings were stockinette stitch (I assume this is were it gets its name from) or 1x or 2x rib. Fancy 'clocks' (patterns or motifs) were knitted by use of purl stitches or embroidered on to the finished stockings. I wonder what Hannah's finished stockings were like? And was she just desperate to get back to her knitting rather than posing for a painting? Note: for an 18th century stocking pattern see here.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Post a Patch!

I have lots of yarn. It is true. I get far too excited when I see some on sale or in a charity shop and I buy it. I put it away in the craft room (I mean 'spare' room) and generally forget about it. That is why knitting patches for great causes is a fantastic stash buster - plus you get the warm feeling of doing something good. So as well as at the moment knitting sqaures for Japan with Homemade Hugs, I also knitted four patches for the Post a Patch project from i heart... Knit or crochet 10cm x 10cm patches are turned in to blankets to help two fantastic charities Starter Packs Glasgow and So Go and Run Free.
As the patches are quite small they were quick and easy to do, and will be put in the post tomorrow. If you are ever trying to knit a square and unsure of how many stitches to cast on, try this method. You will get the perfect size square every time!
  • cast on 3
  • skip 1, k1, make 1, knit to end of row
  • repeat this until the side of the square is as big as you require!
  • knit 2 rows straight
  • skip 1, knit 2 tog, knit to end of row
  • repeat this until 3 stitches remain
  • cast off
Note the slip stitch at the start of each row gives a neater edge. Enjoy!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The tale of the corduroy and the chewing gum...

So I once had a pair of corduroy trousers. Not just any corduroy trousers... M&S corduroy trousers no less.
Corduroy: the cloth of geography school teachers, hard wearing and functional. With its pleasing parallel lines. Note in Denmark it is called jernbanefløjl, literally translating as railway velvet. An understated cloth.
One day whilst wearing my corduroy trousers, I lent against a wall. Nothing too sinister there you may think, however when I went to move, I realised to my horror that I now had chewing gum stuck to my trousers!
Now chewing gum to any clothes is bad enough; but with corduroy's ridges chewing gum is its evil enemy.
Trying not to panic I followed every tip I could find to remove the gum. I froze the trousers, I chipped away at it, I washed the trousers, I added salt, I added fairy liquid - but to no avail. The gum was stuck. In a rage I cut off the offending lower leg of the trousers.
This was not a good look and one fashion trend that was just not going to happen. So I decided to turn the remains of my corduroy trousers in to a skirt. First I trimmed the other leg.
Ripped open the inner leg seams.
Trimmed any excess fabric to make a triangle shaped hole. Using some Ikea patterned fabric created two triangles to fit in front and back.
Zigzagged all the edges and sewed up. Finally I added a row of yellow stitching all around the hem of the skirt to decorate and help marry up the pattern with the plain cord. Gum fail = skirt win!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Party Rings & Custard Creams!

On a wee trip to Edinburgh on Saturday I stopped by at Craft House Concept. A lovely shop featuring all manner of beautiful must-haves. I spotted this amazing print by Emily MacKenzie and just had to buy it. For so many reasons...
Party rings are an old-school classic biscuit, and so hard to come by these days. Malted milks for the great little farmyard scene on them. Bourbons were a necessity during my vegan years as a chocolate fix (as most brands are vegan). The humble custard cream... I could go on and on with my love for a fine biscuit! Some great biscuit related links are a nice of tea and a sit down and the rather inspiring, if a little silly, pimp that snack. Also spotted in the capital - Royal Wedding material!
My goodness, who wouldn't want to make an rather fetching outfit out of this stuff???

Monday, 21 March 2011

New Friend...

A trip to the SSPCA led us to Oscar. A lovely little chap, though a little thin & hair nibbled. He had been dumped with 2 female guinea pigs & a rabbit in a box by the road. Hopefully him and Godber will be new best friends!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Papergirl Glasgow Exhibition!

Remember the in bloom bicycle embroidery I did? Well it was sent off to be part of Papergirl Glasgow. A fantastic random act of kindness project, where art work is donated and then given out free by people on bicycles. See this video from the Papergirl Berlin project which explains it far better than I just did!

Paper Girl from BAM viral on Vimeo.

Anyways, last night was the exhibition launch party. It was amazing to see over 1000 pieces of art from over 100 artists adorn the walls of the LA Group, including my bicycle!
I was drawn to the other textile contributions, including some rather lovely cushion covers by Little Rhymes.
And some wonderfully stitched fabric disguised as lined paper by Lilllebe.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Last Supper with Parrots?

Imagine a Last Supper with parrots, buffoons, dogs, a nose bleed, drunkards and German soldiers. This would have certainly made the event more lively. Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) painted a huge canvas (17 x 42 feet) displaying just this.
Paolo Veronese - Last Supper / Feast in the House of Levi
Unfortunately the church were not too happy with this, and called Veronese in front of the Inquisition. The transcript for this still exists, and I can't help but chuckle at the thought of the Holy Office grilling Veronese on his painting. Although I am sure it can't have been much fun for him. Monty Python created a skit based on this very event.
The outcome for Veronese? He was ordered to improve and alter the painting within three months. Veronese did not do this, instead he changed the name of the painting to the Feast in the House of Levi. Veronese was a religious man, so was unlikely to have painted this to offend (interestingly Leonardo da Vinci who also painted an image of the Last Supper was apparently agnostic). Veronese's experience certainly raises questions about artistic license, and shows the power of the church at this time.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Putting things into Perspective...

Yesterday afternoon we wandered down to David Dale Gallery. It was the last day of the Point/ Line/ Surface/ Solid from Alec MacKenzie and Dan Miller. I could help but think about my current reading for UWA. In the early 15th century, linear perspective was new. Brunelleschi and others pioneered new ways of thinking, using mathematical means and vanishing points. This was revolutionary then. It is strange to think of this as being unknown information at some point. As school children we learn about birds-eye & worms-eye views, and rows of parallel trees merging to one single disappearing point in the distance. I wonder what Brunelleschi would have made of Alec MacKenzie's large trompe l'oeil structures, with moving parts emphasising the perspective.
Alec MacKenzie - Oubliette 2011
Or Dan Miller's work concentrating on mathematical shapes, subtle colour changes and background grids.
Dan Miller - Arithmetic Composition 2010
Continuing on the putting things into perspective theme... Our day to day worries seem quite trivial compared to recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. My thoughts are with everyone affected by the current crisis. On Ravelry there has been a call for knitted squares to make blankets to try to help. See here for more information.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Noisy alphabet & a Noisy Guinea Pig

I found lovely illustration by Tom Gauld.
We lost McLaren yesterday.
It was a bit sudden. He was the nosiest guinea pig I have ever met. Always chirping & purring.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

International Women's Day

Yesterday the Tramway was transformed into a rainbow of stitches.
Knitted squares adorned everything.
I managed to find the squares that myself, my mum & my nan made.
And even the square made from the remains of my sock wool.
100 events to inspire & delight.
And even my embroidery with book, finally framed & on the wall.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

The nude in the modern age...

The Tramway currently has an exhibition by Keith Farquhar. More nudes in colour is a selection of flat-pack life sized cardboard sculptures.
Keith Farquhar - Bare Bum, Blue Sky
These are photographs of naked torsos covered in paint. The initial reaction is a bit of a childlike snigger. These are of course, bottoms and bits covered in paint. It looks like lots of fun, although few of us would ever strip down and paint some cycling shorts on ourselves.
Keith Farquhar - Marble Arse
The nude in art is intrinsically linked to the classical idealised body, and regarded highly. Yet these sculptures are made of cardboard, a disposable material and are given comical titles. A playful contemporary take on nude sculpture.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Adventures of the knitted squares...

So these knitted (and crochet) squares are off on an adventure.
Even Mr Crafty's knitted trapezium is joining in.
Off they go to have their stitches counted.
Then sorted.
Then using an assortment of equipment are sewn up.
The might become blankets.
Or they might be a rainbow.
Why? This is for the 100th International Women's Day. To represent the 100 million women that are missing from the world today due to gender discrimination.

There is plenty more sewing up to be done, so if you are free at all this week, head down to the Tramway with your darning needles!