Throwing in the Towel

My hand and wrist were doing really well. On Christmas Day, I had only the smallest of flashes of heat. Almost back to normal. One week into my 4 weeks off, I was pretty optimistic about my chances of overcoming the RSI.

Then on Boxing Day I tried to pick up a picnic basket expecting it to be a lot lighter that was. I felt my wrist go ‘crunch ‘and it hurt. Yesterday I was sore and had lost flexibility. I was back to how my wrist had been weeks ago.

Aaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhh!

So yesterday I bought another wrist brace to support it and stop ‘accidents’ during the day. I’ve been wearing one at night as I had a habit of bending my wrist back when lying on my side. Wearing it all the time, however, means it gets a bit grotty. Now I have a cooler, mesh fabric one to wear during the day, and I can wear one while the other is being washed.

This setback is extra frustrating because over the last week I managed to weave for hand towels and to pot holders on the rigid Heddle loom without much reaction from my wrist. I was 90% sure I could continue weaving, as long as the fiddly bits like tying knots were done in small batches.

I was using up the warp I cut for the cat feeding mats that I never ended up making. First I made these pot holders.

Then I added some black to weave these hand towels.

I’m pretty chuffed at how those towels look.

I’ve been browsing through the machine knitting, Bond Sweater Machine and circular sock machine forums on Ravelry. Turns out you can make socks on a flat knitting machine. However, the thinnest yarn the Bond handles is dk or a thinnish 8ply. Hmm. I bought the Bond because it’s light. I don’t really want to buy a heavy, second-hand metal knitting machine. I don’t have the space to set it up permanently, and it’ll be to heavy to set up and dismantle all the time.

But oh, those circular sock machines are tempting.

I’m Dyeing Here

Trying not to use my hands is driving me a little batty here, and it’s about to get worse. I’ve finally received the first round of editing to do on the book. There isn’t much to do and it has a deadline of the 31st January, so I’ve been able to plan 3-4 weeks of rest. It’s a minor miracle that I have the opportunity at all, so I really need to make sure I don’t spoil it, and not use my hands any more than strictly necessary.

I may go completely bonkers.

While the “Knitwear Alteration and Repair” item on my projects list is going to have to wait until February, last week I was able to fit in the “Dyeing Day”. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the crock pot working. It appears to have the wrong plug/cord, which is strange. Perhaps it got swapped accidentally on the last dyeing day organised by the knitting group I used to hang out with, but that happened years ago and I’m amazed I didn’t notice earlier.

I started with the “Circular Vest With Sleeves” from 2009:

The colour was always a problem, since I look terrible in and avoid anything too yellowy. So I overdyed with red:

I wove “The Drapey Scarf” back in 2008 out of some $1 balls of yarn I bought at Dimmeys that has a percentage of cashmere in it so small that it only counts on a psychological level. I knit a top out of it that, despite being knit very loosely, shrank to about 3/4 it’s original size and I recently felted it to make a vest. But it does weave up beautifully.

I dyed it purple, with a dip-dye method to get an ‘ombre’ effect:

Finally, I dyed a scarf woven from undyed handspun leftover from a big charity scarf weaving binge in 2009.

It went straight into the purple dye bath and came out much improved, and still gloriously soft.

A few nights ago I tried weaving on the knitters loom while watching tv. It only gave me a little flash of heat in my wrist – much less than typing this blog post does. Perhaps if I start to go a little mad from lack of creative activity, I’ll do just a little bit of weaving. While wearing my wrist brace, to make sure.

The Sketchbook Project

I miss Sketch Sunday. For those who weren’t reading this blog previously, two years ago I set myself the challenge of doing a sketch every week. I kept it up until I got back from the Tour, but then lost enthusiasm for various reasons. Going to life drawing classes was part of the problem, because I was getting my drawing fix each week that way.

A few months ago I signed up to The Sketchbook Project. Thousands of little sketchbooks are sent out to people to fill, then gathered together and toured around the US, UK and Australia. I chose the theme ‘Stitches and Folds’ because I figured that, even if the sketches I did didn’t relate, at least a sketchbook was essentially folded paper stitched together. (Well, except that it turned out they’re stapled together, but I can fix that since alteration of the books is allowed.)

The sketchbook arrived (and the t-shirt – well, it was a nice colour) but then sat in various places in the studio as I pondered whether to do sketches that were related, or random. There are 32+ pages to fill, so I didn’t want to be doing anything too complicated. I considered drawing magpies. Or stylistic drawings of people wearing voluminous clothing filled in with patterns. Or faces from a reference book of facial expressions. Or drawings done by stitching the pages with thread.

Thinking about the sort of sketching I gravitated to for Sketch Sunday – loose black line work filled in with watercolour – and the need to put off a whole lot of things until after my book deadline, I hit on the idea of a daily sketch of what I wore each day in December. It could include around-the-house casual clothes, fancier outfits worn to Christmas gatherings, gardening and fence-painting duds, refashioning projects and my New Year’s Eve costume. I could write comments, like a little history about garments I made or purchased overseas.

December first came and though the ms wasn’t done I started sketching.

As you can see, I added glitter and some fabric scraps to my glitzed up shoes. But the glitter was rather messy, so after this I decided not to stick things into the book.

I didn’t want to always do the same kind of sketch, so occasionally I’ve drawn clothes tossed onto the bed, or folded.

And occasionally I’ve drawn the clothes as if they were on the body.

After the first sketch it was clear that the paint was showing on the other side of the paper, so I stuck to drawing on the right. Then I realised that meant I had only 16 pages to work on, so pulled the staples out and sewed another 8 folded sheets of paper in. I used plain old printer paper, which is pretty close to the original paper.

After a week or so I realised that I wear t-shirts a lot. It’s put me in a ‘what the heck will I wear?’ dilemma more often, when I usually only have that when I’m dressing up for an event. Also, I usually wear something twice if it didn’t get sweaty or dirty. Don’t want to waste water or power or end up with huge pile of washing to do. But I became really conscious of how this would look in the sketchbook. Do I wash my clothes every time I wear them? Do I let them pile up for a second wear in January? Do I wear them twice and risk the sketchbook being a bit repetitive?

I’ve kind of been doing all three. I’m halfway through the month now, and I’m thinking about more interesting ways to draw the clothing (on a washing line, perhaps?) and hoping the weather warms up a bit so I can wear and draw more interesting summer clothing. With more Christmas parties coming, Christmas itself and a costume party at the end of the year there’s more opportunity for fun.

Catch-up

Wow, that week since my last post went quick. And yet, it seemed to go so slowly. I spent Monday and Tuesday tackling test reader corrections and comments on my ms. I was determined to get it all over and done with, so I worked on it longer than I should have. My back has been really sore ever since, and I’m getting flashes of heat in my right hand at the slightest exertion. It’s not been helped by hotter weather, which means I don’t sleep well, and seems to make my back and hand worse because I tend to swell up a bit in hot weather.

On Tuesday, the triumph of finally delivering the ms didn’t last long as the to-do list suddenly exploded with all the tasks I’d been putting off in order to dedicate time to the ms, tasks I have to do next on the ms, pre-Christmas/New Year preparation, summer chores around the house and garden, and the last few arty/crafty/diy projects that I haven’t given up on post RSI. I’m supposed to do all this, while not using my right hand. And I wouldn’t be doing much until my back healed up.

And then my editor emailed to say she’d send her feedback on the 15th.

Well, all I can do is knuckle down and try to get as much done as I can. It helped to sort the to-do list into ‘mail’, ‘email & internet’, ‘shopping’, ‘work’ and ‘at home’ and then bold anything that involved using my hands a lot. By yesterday the ‘mail’ and ‘shopping’ lists were deleted. Today I’m hoping to tackle some of the ‘email & internet’ and ‘at home’ items. Tomorrow it’s time to get stuck into some ‘work’ tasks.

Didn’t I have some weird idea I was taking a holiday in December?

Glitzy Shoes

A girl in my life drawing class wore a pair of shoes that caught my eye a few months back – sneakers with silver sequin fabric over the fronts. They weren’t what you’d expect – overwhelmingly bling-y or like child’s shoes. I think she said they were her ‘happy shoes’.

I thought it wouldn’t be too hard to make something similar, so next time I was near a cheap shoe shop I had a look for shoes with potential. I wound up buying men’s shoes, because the women’s were too plasticy.

Then when I was next in Lindcraft I had a look to see if there was any sequin fabric. All they had was fake sequin fabric, but I decided it would do just as well. In one of those nice little coincidences, they also had fancy shoelaces, including piano keyboard ones. About that point I got RSI, but the project seemed like it would be easy on the hands so it went into my Projects to Finish list.

I wasn’t sure what to do about the white toes. They were bound to get scuffed pretty quickly. In the end it was a tutorial for sprucing up old books that gave me the idea to try glitter. Some flexible artists acrylic varnish that also works as a glue took care of the glitter, and the hot glue gun dealt with the fabric. In a short time I had these:

Which I wore to the final life drawing class plus Christmas celebration. Afterwards I noticed that the glitter is starting to peel off. When it starts to look shabby I might redo them, scuffing up the surface of the toes so the acrylic varnish sticks better. But by then I might be a bit over the glitter, and will just peel it off and leave the toes white.

One of the things I like about fashion at the moment is it has a fun side. A touch of glitter and sequins here, feathers and fur there, bold colours and silly hats. These shoes are pretty tame in comparison, but they’re my happy shoes. For now.