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What have I been doing ? – no idea

Life seems to pass in  a whirl these days – without any Walnut on top (for those of you who know UK chocolates, you know what I mean).

It’s just been busy, family visiting (still here), work, finding schools, taking Hannah to the park – and then when there is that precious hour after dinner in the evening, all I want to do is crash in front of the TV. Some little part of my brain keeps screaming “GET UP! – this is burning less calories than SLEEPING and is WAY LESS productive!”…but the part of my brain that is the majority shareholder after 9pm is not interested in how many calories I’m burning, nor productivity nor anything else that would make a valuable contribution to society. It’s interested in lying on the sofa with the remote control.

I have been weaving though – inspired by spring – and the 2 wedding we’ve been invited to in June and July in England and Wales respectively –  (the expense of which I won’t think about as I just start to tremble) – and also by the overwhelming sense of deep PINK that has been coming through the air (eh, sorry  – Honeysuckle).
So, I got my dye pots out, my pixeloom fired up, and I got to work.

I worked on a random warp, with the idea of weaving 2 scarves – which I’ve done. Both have come out longer than I’d calculated as I forgot to account for the fact that the warp yarns had already shrunk due to the dyeing process – yea, I know – ARSE – but anyway, they are looking quite good. Lots of cherry blossom / spring time / sakura / honeysuckle flavours going on. And at least one of them will go with my Boden jacket and dress for the wedding(s).

The slacker returns

yea – no need to say it…6 months?! They passed in the blink of an eye.

It’s no consolation but I had some great and passionate ideas for blog entries over the past 6 months…here’s a summary of my mental rants that never made it to a keyboard in their full glory:

  1. Complaints and bitches about low crafty sales online…my mental note to self on that – and others, if I’d bothered to make a blog post  – was – “don’t make crap” followed by “For GOD sake, take better pictures” and finally “pick a reasonable price” – would be a good start
  2. Super crappy postal services to the USA – yep, this was at an all time low in December (just when you needed it most) and doesn’t seem to have improved. There is a lot I could say about this, but I don’t know if it’s worth it or not. “Post to the USA is severely delayed due to extra security.” This has been in place since  end of October and shows no sign of improving…triple and quadruple ARSE… but there we have it.
  3. Christmas snow, mega freezing weather (eh, -20ºC is “normal” for Canada, but not for Northern Ireland). We made it home, we had a lovely Christmas, so no point in whittling on about that one.
  4. Finding a brochure for an exhibition at a local museum for the merchant seamen, only to end up spending quite a few evenings (late nights and early mornings) – A picture of my great-grandfather’s brother (eh, or cousin) appeared in the brochure. This would have been a nice rant, as I collected a lot of information on my families history, and a lot of links – free and with small fees – which provided a lot of genealogical information…maybe I’ll come back to that one later.
  5. SCHOOLS – and the school process for Spain. Mmmmm, this one is still quite recent in my rant-memory, so it’s pretty fresh and might provoke further unsolicited outbursts, ranging from “HOLY CRAP we have  2 weeks to visit 10 schools, make a decision and complete paperwork for school applications” to “so, Catholic Schools are all PRIVATE and the starting price is 300euros a month…even if I’m a practising Catholic and the school is right in front if my apartment…and ‘officially‘ it’s one of the 10 available schools for H in our catchment area  – but although the schools are Catholic, catechism is not taught DURING normal school hours and would be ‘extra escolar’ and would be effectively an evening class, as the CATHOLIC school doesn’t want to offend all the people who want their children to have a CATHOLIC education without the “CATHOLIC” part – How in the name of Fxxk does that work?” (“Hello, I’d like to be a vegetarian but I don’t want to give up meat, can you sort something for me?”) ……As you can see, still too fresh in my memory so I won’t go there.  I’ll come back to the School saga later – it’s not over yet!
  6. Weaving – So this blog is supposed to be about weaving so I should maybe mention it. I did a lot before Christmas, and was lucky enough to have some modest success with it too, but since Christmas things have stagnated a bit, mostly due to points 4 and 5 above – alternating between school chaos and family history websites my loom has a wee bit of dust on it.

TODDLERS…and other weapons of mass destruction

An update is long overdue – and to avoid this being very dull and just a whole pile of words, I’d better put some pictures in here too.
(SWEAR-WORD), it’s been a bit of a hectic to say the least. (Is my life any other way?…Would I want it any other way…?!) Yea, well – it would be good to not be running around like a lunatic all the time, but I’m not sure what that feels like!
Where to start?
I’ve finished “Tokyo Autumn Chocolate”. Mohair, mohair-boucle, lambs wool, ribbon, velvet ribbon – all in honeycomb weave. A very sumptuous, fluffy, warm experience! The client was also very happy – so that’s what counts.
I’ve put on a lovely linen warp, that feels like a “purge” – a truely cleansing experience after the sensory over indulgence of mohair. A joy to thread up…now I need to get weaving

   

The pile of woven “thingies” in the spare room (you need to say this like Mr Tumnus “Spare – ooom”) seems to grow ever bigger, with 2 baby blankets in white chenille; 2 scarflets; a shawl and a set of place matts.
Christmas Presents:
Yep, the season of total insanity is soon to be upon us, and I’m determined not to panic – which means that everyone is getting some kind of charitable offering (“you’ve given a present of a goat to a family in XXX”). And something small to go with it. For the “something small”, I’m voting for handmade wash mitts (hence the linen warp). This will have to suffice as I suspect we’ll be carting H’s presents halfway around Europe and I’m not in the mood for “being of good cheer” and carrying a whole pile more crap besides.
To add to my irritation for the festive season, Etsy seem to be sending out lots of peppy-preppy-perky-plastic emails about gearing up for the Holiday Rush – While it’s true that crafters are on Etsy to promote their wares and sell things, I couldn’t help feeling that all the hyper-genki mails were more about Etsy counting in the cash than really motivating designers for the designers’ sake – or even the sake of good design. After all a % of nothing is still nothing, so “sell sell sell!” (even if it is crap? Isn’t there a chance of flooding the market with any old rubbish?)
I’m probably just getting cranky over nothing, but I’ve been deleting these mails within minutes of opening them. I’ll get my mum or Matt to give me a pep talk if I think my motivation is lacking – and if Hannah, cleaning the apartment (HA! I laugh derisively here), cooking, “the-day-job”, family, sleeping or watching-TV should get in the way of weaving then maybe it’s one of those days when that’s what’s meant to be…I read a brilliant blog title a few days ago “so much to do, so little motivation”.
Or maybe it’s a toddler in the house that is teaching me the ways of obstinate belligerence.
Bloody hell – It’s not even December and Christmas has my blood pressure up already.
Now I need to mention my other non-weaving projects that are non-the-less crafty:
A cover for the sofa (as Hannah has plastered the 2 year old IKEA one in mushed biscuit, milk, juice and other things we won’t mention).

Making and covering a head-board for our bed and one for the spare room. I bought enough fabric to match the curtains in both rooms, and a lot of foam…Now the roll or foam just gets moved from the hallway, to our room, to the spare room depending on how much in the way of other things it is. Action is needed. Luckily its covered in plastic so my tardiness is not effecting the foam!
Framing the collection of prints, drawings and Chinese stencils we’ve collected from our wandering that now sit in the spare room (I’m talking a lot about our spare room here – I never realised how much credit it deserved!). We did frame the collection of pen-&-inks and watercolours we’ve amassed from the cities we’ve been to, and they look lovely in the hall (all positioned just out of reach of very small fingers), but I discovered an old art portfolio bursting with Chinese stencils, shadow puppets from Malaysia and Singapore, prints from art galleries, 3 scrolls from a Sunday junk market in Ueno and gawd knows what else from the days when we just thought “ash, let’s go to Berlin for the weekend” – yea – I know – those days are definitely OVER!
At some point I need to finish painting the window frames – but as these are over 100years old (really!) and we can’t actually decide if we should have them replaced or taken to an acid bath to strip off all the old paint, I’m not really rushing into this one. And I doubt it would get started before 2011…It’s in the big picture but not now, only when I happen to see the window/door in the kitchen – about 10 times a day – and I think…”mmm, that’s a bit of a state”!
Somehow I need to persuade Hannah that 12 hours of playing/park at the weekend is not really possible. 2 year olds aren’t really so easy to convince though, they have their own plan on how the universe works, and DaVinci, Galileo and Stephen Hawking can all go and boil their heads – as far as toddlers are concerned the universe revolves around THEM! (And usually this is pretty funny to watch).
A lot of pictures are needed with the blog entry as it’s a lot of old waffle and pretty damn boring to read otherwise.

And the result – Was not good (No surprise there though)

The Expendibles is utter PANTS – (and when I say “Pants” I really mean, “from-the-bottom-of-your-laundry-basket-where-they’ve-been-for-a-week-festering” PANTS)
Truely one of the stupidest action films I’ve seen in ages. It had most of the 80s and 90s big action stars (OMG, Stalone looked about a 100), all of the 90s big explosions and body count – and none of the sarcastic, dry wit action scripts by the likes of Shane Black…
And not enough of Jason Statham or Jet Li…Or Brucie for that matter.

I think we’re going to see SALT next week, it really can’t be any worse. That’s not possible.

Which leads me to another point I’ve been meaning to make for ages now – for any weavers out there who watch action films (and I’ve discovered there is at least one!) have you seen WANTED ? Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman as assasin weavers…yes, I’m not kidding – Weavers.
I would only recommend it if you go in for silly action though, there’s not a lot of weaving going on there!

Ah yes, and Weaving – I started threading up Autumn Chocolate and am hoping for some “Friday Weaving” time today after work.
(This crappy movie review glut will pass soon, I promise.  It only lasts as long as we have family staying)

The View From My Loom

The view from my Loom

I started a draft last week and forgot about it, when I reopened my blog I realised that I’ve been mulling over my need for some green for longer than I thought. My rut returned, unfortunately at a time when I could have been winding, warping or weaving: Instead I was baking, cleaning and brooding, thinking about the Fairy Glen and the Flagstaff and wondering if I booked a flight home was an Icelandic volcano going to cloud my  journey.
Not much I can do about it now, but I seem to have realised the problem…to little green for too long. I have been working on a black and white wool warp off/on since before Christmas, and although there are a few nice things, I’ve not come up with the “killer app” that I’ve been looking for (Sorry, that was a bit of work-speak creeping in).  A depressing result that didn’t help my mood.

I should have learned by now to let my mind wander when these things happen, and when I eventually did let go, I was feeling homesick for the Flagstaff, and starting to remember the Fairy Glen, a wooded walk along the edge of the Mournes (My nursery school was at the end of the Fairy Glen in Rostrevor, quite an idyllic place for a nursery school, and gave me the unfortunate belief for longer than was normal, that Fairies could exist, and that all schools were large old houses at the end of wooded walks!); I’d started to feel the need for all-consuming greeness, for the smell of  mulchy pine needles and sycamore leaves – all mixed with wood pigeons, thrushes and salty sea winds (that could give you a facial peeling in 5 seconds!).  As you can see for the picture, my life is not without “Greeness” – While we live 15 minutes walk from Plaça de Catalunya in Barcelona, we also have a lovely avenue of trees on our street – plants on the balcony, a park directly opposite for wee ones. Still, it’s not quite damp granite and mist on your face…
Anyway, I’m rambling – what brought me back to earth was 4 days of torrential rain  – “So what!?” I hear you cry…well, this kind of non-stop rain is not native to Barcelona, and by Monday night the city was empty, just rain and a few very perplexed looking tourists. By Wednesday, I was feeling like a proverbial duck in water, while every Barcelona citizen smoked their ciggies cowering in doorways, tutting and scowling (as you can’t smoke in the workplace or public buildings)…I was on a roll with warp making, windows open to the lowered temperatures and the perpetual rain on the balcony – HURRAY FOR RAIN…(you can take the person out of Ireland, but you can’t take the Ireland out of the person…or something like that)

OK; so, back to weaving – I’m getting there, really! – After going through my poor pictures of the Glen and Flagstaff (when you live somewhere, you rarely take pictures…) and flickring /googling, I put together a mood board and then a collection of yarns for a warp. Green is prominent (surprise surprise!), but the Fairy Glen yeilds  astonishing shades of blue from various flowers and bluebells, intermixed with purples and yellows from gorse and heather that filter in from the Mournes…
My heart ruled my head on this, and what else should I warp a scarf like this with, other than mohair boucle (and a wee bit of silk, raw silk, hand-dyed viscose and hand-dyed wool). It already has a name too – Bronagh. Bronagh was an early Irish saint from the Rostrevor area. We’ll see how it goes – threading in progress.

Puffin Chunks and Cream of Pork Pie Soup…

It’s been another whirlwind few weeks, and I’ve been all over the place – both physically and emotionally. Hannah and I went back to Ireland for my Goddaugher’s Confirmation, we had a lovely few days that included a spontaneous family gathering of 9 adults and 3 children…a very heartwarming affair – Hannah decided that she wasn’t too happy about me disappearing for most of the day during the confirmation and “acted up” (to put it mildly); no weaving got done, despite my best intentions and a dressed loom (in Ireland), and now that we are back in Barcelona I find myself facing the long weekend and stuck in a bit of a rut…I have a glimmering feeling of  what I want to do with my wool sample warp now, but I don’t seem to have more than 30 minutes in a row to sit down to it, and I need longer to get my brain to kick into gear…

And so, for my precious daily hour or so of peace and tranquility after dinner,  I’ve been lying on the sofa watching Gavin & Stacey or 15 Storeys and feeling…in a rut…I have been looking for inspiration but coming up blank, and as a result I seem to have spent more time cooking and re-organizing the apartment (and trips to Ikea)…I am the Master Procrastinator when inspiration deserts me – I’ll do anything (except ironing) to not face my loom, especially when I know that the only time I really can face it is after 10pm at night or in 15 minute chunks.

I think maybe a walk around the fashion district of BCN or a few gallery visits are necessary this weekend; something to crank up my inspiration…I’m also feeling the need to talk to Neki (my BCN Weave Buddy) – perhaps she can give me the kick up the bum I need.