Sketch Sunday 4



Paul spotted me taking a photo of this and said “a sketch of a stapler?”.
“Why not?” I replied. “I’ve sketched your old boots before,” I told him.
“You could have taken a photo.”
“Nah – no skill in that.”
“Thanks!” he said, pretending to be offended.
Well, if photographer mocks an artist for what they choose to draw, they ought to expect to be mocked in return!

Thinking Out of The Box

Last year Paul and I bought a pair of ergonomic armchairs, and we decided we needed to stop tripping over the piles of books, craft materials and magazines on the floor and get some side tables and a magazine rack. We headed to a local furniture store thinking we’d get something to match the wood colour of the chairs… and were rather amused to find that a simple, old-fashioned magazine rack would cost us $400.

We could have looked for something cheaper, or second hand – or Paul could have made one (he was declaring that he would as we left the shop) – but I had a little ‘brainwave’. There’s a liquor store near us that sells the wooden boxes that some wines and whisky come in. I’d seen bookcases made out of fabric-lined packing cases in InsideOut magazine, but these boxes were much nicer.

So we bought a couple and, with me doing the painting and varnishing and Paul doing the woodwork, we ended up with this:


Which cost 2 x $10 per box, plus varnish and some wood scraps we had lying around. We liked it so much, that we put together this to replace the old three-baskets-on-wheels plastic thing I was using for a side table and to hold my current wips:


Which, admittedly, took us several months to put together, as there was a holiday between the start and finish. Some of the boxes are painted, some are lined with wrapping paper. I particularly like the box with the sliding lid, that I turned into a ‘cupboard’ and painted red inside as a nice surprise when you open it. And the narrow box on top holds knitting needles and other tools.

We’re still working on these:


Which I’ve varnished, and just need to line with fabric and stick felt to the bottom. They’re going to hold Paul’s vinyl albums.

After that? Well, there’s room for a small bookcase against one wall. We have a couple of leftover larger style boxes (like we used for the magazine rack) and some of the narrow single bottle ones with sliding perspex lids. And I have some wonderful, though well crinkled, 50s/60s era newspaper pages that had been used to wrap something in storage, which will make great lining.

Knowing When To Stop

Since I was a child I’ve gone through major crafty obsessions. They usually last about six years. First it was pottery, then sewing, the silk painting, oil painting, and then knitting. At the same time there were brief flirtations with other crafts and hobbies, like calligraphy, wood carving, dyeing, and spinning, but they never held my attention like the obsessions did.

My obsession with sewing taught me a valuable lesson: don’t force yourself to continue with a hobby after the thrill is gone. After having made a lot of my clothes in my mid teens and early twenties, and even doing a course on making my own patterns, I was pretty committed to this hobby. Then one day my ex pointed out that I always got in a foul mood when I was sewing, and I suddenly realised that he was right – I wasn’t enjoying sewing any more. In fact, I now hated it. I’d pushed myself to continue with the sewing for far too long, bothered by my huge fabric stash and the long list of projects waiting to be made.

Eventually I gave away and sold most of my fabric stash and patterns. But I do still occasionally bring out the sewing machine to whip up something simple. Like these:


Pyramid door stops, made with calico and cotton tape, and stuffed with wheat from some extra wheat bag hotties that I wasn’t using. They’re much easier to nudge into place with your foot than those little wooden wedges.

Having learned from my sewing hobby, I know not to get so hung up on the size of my yarn stash or to-do list of projects that I spoil the fun of knitting. And I also know from my silk painting hobby that there really is a point where you (and your friends and family) already have more than enough scarves. That’s when it’s time to try something new. And probably find something else to get obessed with.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll never sew/paint/knit again.

… and more… and more…

After showing off my notepads and notebooks to Paul, who was dutifully impressed, I got to thinking… what next? There are so many thin cardboard or heavy paper items that could be recyled into notebooks. Postcards! Old calendars! Bookmarks! Birthday cards! Magazine covers! But the first thing that caught my eye when I went back to my work table was the left over page of the paint catalogue. I could see immediately that it had potential.


It turned out to be a lesson in the limitations of the method. Basically, whatever is at the bottom of the strip will be on the front of the notepad. I managed to get all three to fold in a flattering way. The first one is hilarious, as there is text indicating the colours used in the room, and they are ‘clay bake’, ‘jodphurs’ and ‘self destruct’:


Next I decided to try old calendars. As I noted above, I’d worked out that pictures with the interesting details at the top won’t work so well. This one would produce a notepad of a hand and cat’s foot, for instance:


But the tiled example pictures on the back are ideal:


Slice, cut, trim:


Fold, staple… and I have four more notepads in three different sizes:


By this time I’d worked the notepad bug out of my system, but I now have many more ideas for incorporating recycled materials into bookbinding and paper projects. And considering the time of year, my habit of always keeping the previous year’s Christmas cards might come in handy…

Paint Sample Card Notepads… and more

On Sunday I set out on the craft/design blog trail, and found this tutorial on making notepads out of paint sample cards. I knew I had a couple, so I went rifling through the house renovation folders and grabbed anything to do with paint.

Turned out I had two sample cards:

I also have a paper cutting doovy, which I bought years and years ago. I also had lots of lined binder paper which I haven’t used since I was at Tafe:

A bit of cutting, folding and stapling later, and I had these:

Feeling pretty chuffed, I looked at the paint catalogues. Surely I could make something out of these. This one in particular had potential, because the ‘chips’ were painted on, not stuck on:


Each page was perfect for folding in half into a notebook cover. Well, except for the last one – the ‘Whites’. I cut it in half and glued it back together with a complimentary picture on the back.


More cutting of lined paper, then I went to staple the notebooks at the spine. Except… the stapler doesn’t reach:


Solution: some foam core and a stapler that folds open:


Which gets the staple through (after a few attempts):


And then you fold the ends in by hand:


And now I have four recycled paint catalogue notebooks.


Weaving My Handspun

A few years back I bought an old wheel off a friend’s mother and did a spinning class. I didn’t really take to spinning. Not in that I couldn’t do it, or didn’t enjoy it, but I found the first five or ten minutes engaging but couldn’t maintain that interest for the time it took to make a skein. Still, I learned a lot about fibre and yarn construction, and I never consider trying out a new skill or hobby to be a waste of time.

Here’s some of the yarn I made:

Here it is with the natural white yarn I made in class:

Now, I imagined many projects I could use the yarn for, and the one I liked the best was one of those drapey tops that are a rectangle with two slits for the arms. One that folds over at the front and fastens with a shawl pin, letting the top edge fold down in sweeping, dramatic collar. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a good weaving project. But I never seemed to get around to it.

In a fit of wanting to clear out the oldest yarn in my stash recently, I got the yarn out. And I was a bit dismayed to find it smelled a bit like rancid oil. I’d spun it ‘in the grease’ as recommended by my teacher. Though I’d followed the instructions for washing the yarn, it was still very sticky. Yet the white yarn I’d spun in class wasn’t, and I’d used the same instructions.

I washed it again. And again. And again. I swear, I’ve washed it more than seven times, and it’s still a bit greasy. Maybe this is because I use detergent for sensitive skins, which is gentle on the environment. Whatever the reason, the loom had been warped and waiting for some time, the yarn no longer smelled rancid, and I decided to get on with it. After all, I can wash it again after it’s woven.


I wound the yarn into balls:

And started weaving:

The fabric it’s forming is, well, not as drapey as I’d imagined. That vision in my head of a garment folding and hanging dramatically is starting to crumple. But I’m thinking that maybe if I felt the finished pieces, which surely would get rid of the last of the grease, I could use it as fabric and sew up a vest or something.

Which would be fine, if I actually liked sewing.

Sketch Sunday 3



This time I used some Smiggle pencils given to me for my birthday, that are made with newspaper rather than wood. I’ve been using a charcoal pencil, which is very soft and black and a delight to sketch with, but not good for finer details. The Smiggle pencils were better than I expected, allowing a good range of soft to dark.

Smiggle pencils

Smiggle pencils

Sickness and Wellness

I’ve been laid low by a headcold since Monday night, so I’m only just catching up on Ravelry and blogs and such. I did get a little knitting done, and a lot of reading.

In fact, I’m pretty chuffed about the reading. I’ve read three books in three days! This used to be perfectly do-able for me, so long as I had the time and good books. I used to be a big consumer of books, Paul still is, and we have a huge collection.

But then, back in the early 00s, I got chronic fatigue. It was never diagnosed as such, but eventually it was the obvious answer. I had a gadzillion tests that all said I was perfectly healthy, yet I had these bouts of utter exhaustion, my memory was shot and I couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes – not even reading a book. This is when I started knitting. So long as a project didn’t require much or constant focus, I could do it, and it kept me from going mad with boredom.

I started feeling better in 2005, but it’s taken much longer for me to be able to read as effortlessly as I used to. Even books like the ones I’m reading (Charlaine Harris’ crime-fantasy Harper Connelly series) that are pacy and small. So despite feeling revolting and full of snot, I’m actually rather pleased with myself.

If this keeps up, I might have to add a ‘what I’m reading’ feature to the sidebar…

Sketch Sunday 2

I’d settled in to knit for the night, then looked down and saw these shoes sitting on the rug by the back door, drying in the evening light, and immediately thought I should sketch them quickly before they or the light disappeared.

Paul's Runners

Paul's Runners

They were wet from scouring the deck ready to be re-oiled.

Tori’s Socks

My Socks For Others Club socks #4 are done:

Aww. Cuuuute!

Aww. Cuuuute!

The pattern is Toddler Socks. Though they were a quick knit, it took me longer to make them because we’ve been spending evenings cleaning our deck in preparation for re-oiling it.

Now they’re done, I’ve drawn the second last parcel in my ‘lucky-dip’.

Socks For Others Club parcel #5

Socks For Others Club parcel #5

These are for Sandra. I chose the yarn because it reminded me of her cats. They’re Bengals, and the yarn colourway is called ‘tiger’. I’ll knit my plain toe-up pattern, probably with a short-row heel, so all the focus is on the tiger stripes.

This means the last pair in the club will be no surprise. They’re my Dad’s socks – the second attempt since the first ones were much too big.