Back in my Projects for 2010 post, I listed these old mannequin legs as one of the projects I wanted to tackle:
The main obstacle to realising any of the ideas I’d had for these legs (coffee table, garden sculpture) had been that the ‘cut’ at the waist was not level or waterproof. I had intended to make a top out of wood to level it, but it was always beyond my abilities. Then, thanks to Paul’s interest in cars rubbing off on me, I hit on the idea of treating it like a fibreglass car body, and shaping a new top. After all, the legs were already fibreglass. It was the inside of the waist bit that was wood and non-rust-proof metal.
First I needed to create a base shape to work to. Working with fibreglass is not unlike working with paper mache – lots of strips wrapped around something. I needed to make a base for the fibreglass to wrap around that was much closer to the final shape. So I wrapped cardboard around the body, lined it with bubblewrap to allow space for the fibreglass layer (and to make the ‘mould’ come off easier), and filled the gap inside with expanding foam:
Once the foam had set, I cut the top level:
Then Paul and I applied a few layers of fibreglass. While I was away on my trip, Paul applied the car bog and sanded it smooth. He did a fantastic job:
Then yesterday I painted the legs with Solarguard – outdoor paint designed to go on just about anything and to resist the harsh Aussie sun.
I plan to sit a plant pot on top, containing some sort of fern or succulant that hangs down over the sides.
They’re done. The pattern is the No Purl Monkeys, which is more of a ‘concept’ than a pattern. It’s the Monkey Socks pattern from Knitty.com, but you knit the purls. While I’m not a big fan of lace knitting, this was simple enough, both in technique and appearance, to appeal to me. The yarn is Opal Uni Solid.
I’ve hummed and harred over which socks to knit next. I’m settling on something with a pretty yarn in a basic pattern, because I seem to have post-travelling lethargy and my brain seems to have limited capacity for complex thoughts. I’m saving what brain cells I have for a bigger project. But deciding which one was even harder. Two nights ago I wound up knitting test swatches as a delay tactic:
The lefthand swatches are for Amused and the Farmers Market Cardigan. The righthand ones were for Tubey, the 3-Hour Sweater and Safire.
The idea was, whichever pattern the swatch came out right for I’d knit. This idea backfired when it turned out that all but one of the swatches were perfect. At least I could eliminate the 3-hour Sweater. So I washed them. Then I got bored waiting for them to dry and I started this:
Safire, knit with Bendigo Neon. The swatch wasn’t all that far out, so I’m compensating by knitting the smaller size.
Today I had a big cull of my stash. 2 1/2 kilos of yarn to go to charity. It included most of my Bendigo Classic 8ply. Knitting Cherie Amour put me off cable constructed yarn. As a result, I managed to get a bag of stuff off the floor of my workroom. Mind you, I then put a box four times its size in its place so I have room on the table to set up the knitters loom. I really need to have a big clean up in here…
Before heading off to Adelaide for New Years Eve last year I set up some solar dyeing jars, using an old singlet top and some silk scarves. The idea was they’d be something for me to open after a month of travelling.
The jars had been sitting on the west side of the house, getting the afternoon sun. They’d obviously had plenty of heat, as one of the rubber seals was all cracked and stuck shut.
When I took the singlet top out it smelled like tea and lemons – quite nice. I’d wrapped it around some lemon gum leaves and seeds and the result was pretty good:
When I took the silk scarves out of the other jars, however, they stank rather badly. The nasturtium leaves and flowers worked quite well but smelled of rotten vegetation:
But the camelia and flame tree leaves stank of vomit and didn’t dye particularly well. This is fine – I can overdye with something else.
I washed everything thoroughly and hung it out to dry. Unfortunately, the stink has got into the skin of my hands, and I’m regretting pouring the dye water out in the garden near the kitchen window. Next time I’ll definitely be using gloves, and emptying the jars a looong way from the house!
I had a very busy week, and snatched a moment waiting for a friend who was shoe-shopping to do this one, with a fountain pen I’d just bought.
Half eaten grapes in a bowl.
Since I’m tucked away in a holiday apartment writing my fingers off, I haven’t had much time to sketch or variety of subject material to choose from. But the solution to that was to draw whatever was on the table beside me, and do it quick and rough with a thick, soft charcoal pencil.
Sketching fast and loose can be as much fun as taking time and getting the detail down. I decided to gently push realism to the side and try to capture the character in the little stalks and the roundness of the grapes.
Today I finally finished Cherie Amour.
I made one change to this pattern. For a start, I used a much simpler lace pattern which didn’t alter the overall affect much, and wasn’t too hard to do the math for.
I also used some Bendigo Classic 12ply from the back room. This was a bad decision and the source of some dissatisfaction with the finished piece. Bendy yarn usually comes in big 200 g balls. These were smaller, so I ended up with plenty of ends to sew in. Sewing in ends on lace garments is hard – well hard to do it neatly and invisibly. And because the yarn is machine washable and cable construction, I couldn’t spit splice and the ends feel like they’re going to work their way out again.
By the end of knitting this I was really wishing I’d chosen a nicer yarn to knit the pattern in. The irony is, of course, the yarn came first, and I chose the pattern for it. Badly. I should have just woven it into a lap rug or something. In fact, I’m going to donate the leftovers to an op shop, because I don’t want to keep it enough to lug it around in my suitcase.
On the other hand, I’m really pleased with how these are coming out:
The pattern is the No Purl Monkeys, which is more an idea to adapt the Monkey sock pattern on Knitty by simply changing the purls to knit stitches.
Y’know, I’m not one for soft toys, really. I made Paul a knitted dalek this time last year, and a few years before I fudged together a crocheted Totoro for some friends I stayed with for a week, after a disastrous camping trip left us unexpectedly stranded in Adelaide.
Most toy patterns do nothing for me, though there’s a particular elephant pattern that makes me shudder because it looks like someone has chopped off his trunk. With the recent owl craze, however I have to admit I found some of the very simple ones with button eyes cute. But I kept thinking, ‘now if that was a cat, I’d probably knit it’.
Well, look what I just found.
I want to knit this. I want to knit it now. I want to knit twenty of these in different colours and line them up on a window sill, looking outside, some with their tails curled, some with them hanging down.
Just goes to show, there’s always an exception to the rule.
Though it would take a very exceptional pattern to make me want to knit lace shawls. Or pants.
Two days ago I bought a red, shiny beginner’s ukulele. I’ve never learned a string instrument before, just recorder, flute and some very basic piano. The ukulele goes out of tune pretty quickly, but I’ve been assured by a friend that once the strings have had a bit of use they tend to stay put longer.
I would have drawn something at the house we’ve hired for the retreat, but it’s unpleasantly hot and humid outside, and air conditioned inside, and I’m too much of a wuss to torture myself for the sake of art.
I’m in Berry, NSW, with five other writers trying (to varying degrees) to get some work done and failing to avoid eating and drinking too much, while Paul gets bullied by the cat back home.
So far as travelling arty crafty stuff goes, I have my sketch book, two knitting projects on the needles, an extra ball of sock yarn and some pale grey alpaca I bought at the Adelaide Hills Market.
I started these socks on the plane to Melbourne. Yes – knitting on domestic flights in Australia! Nobody took my needles off me. And on the second leg of the journey, from Melbourne to Canberra, the same staff were on the plane and recognised me by my knitting.
I got to wondering how many of them had ever seen someone knitting on a plane. Some were probably old enough to have been working before the ban, but some weren’t – and of course they may not have had their job that long anyway.
Cherie Amor came with me, too. I had knit the fronts and was almost finished the back before we left Melbourne, only to discover I’d forgotten to change to the larger needles after the ribbed waist. Sigh. Last night I finally caught up with all that I’d frogged and started the first sleeve.
Looks weird, doesn’t it. I expect a good blocking is in order.
It’s taken me a few days to find the time to post this. I did it not long after we arrived at a B&B in the Adelaide Hills called ‘The Stumps’, on New Years Day. A lovely place, and while I’d rather not have had to take work with me on our ‘holiday’ (thanks to a slacker of a courier), at least I had a quiet, peaceful place to do it – with lots of yummy food supplied so we didn’t have to go out at mealtimes.