24 November, 2009

Steek success! Oh boy!

A few days ago I sat down in the Folk School library with my Fair Isle cardigan, which due to all it's funny soon-to-be-cut-open panels was resembling some sort of kangaroo cozy more than an actual human-shaped sweater, and got out the scissors. I took a few deep breaths, announced to the room that I was about to do my first steek, and sliced it open. I did the neck opening first, since it seemed the least intimidating, and just as I suspected, it went just fine. No stitches went running down or across my work, nothing unravelled in my hands... that sweet standby Shetland 2-ply just stayed right where it was supposed to. There was a dance going on and Charlotte was about to start calling but wanted to see me steek, so I went ahead and did the arm holes, too! And lo, miracle or miracles, my kangaroo bag was suddenly the perfect size and shape. I just steamed the folds and tacked down the cut edges, and look how fantastic the fit is! Now all I have to do is knit two identical arms and do the button band/collar, and I'll have myself a real Fair Isle cardigan, made by me. I feel unstoppable. :)
Photo on 2009-11-24 at 11.05 #3
Photo on 2009-11-24 at 11.03
Photo on 2009-11-24 at 11.08
Photo on 2009-11-24 at 11.05
Photo on 2009-11-24 at 11.05 #2
Photo on 2009-11-24 at 11.04 #2

23 November, 2009

Whoa, time to play catch up.

I'm sitting in the CLT airport, enjoying the free wifi ("Google's holiday gift to you!") and just realized I never reported back on how woodturning, well, turned out. Here's my bounty:

My bud vase from the last post has been oiled, but the little rice bowl and wonky plate have not. Apparently when you turn green wood your pieces can warp when they dry, and that certainly has been the case for my poor plate. I'm keeping them in my closet to dry and then when all warping has occurred, I'll take them back over to the woodturning studio and re-sand the bottom feet so that they'll sit down flat. Check out this tiny little rice bowl, from the side:
I love it so. And it will look much better once oiled, I'm sure.

This past weekend I spent hours and hours doing NW Morris dance, and my legs feel great: used and sore and in desperate need of a deep stretch. More soon from vacation; I'm off to Vermont to enjoy heaps of homemade food! (And in case you're wondering what project I chose for the flight.... observe my English Paper Piecing quilt below! It is small now, but inch by inch, it grows.)
(I'm only using scraps from the quilting classes that pass through the Folk School, so it's an entirely free project so far. Which is fine, since that's exactly how much money I make!)

16 November, 2009

Intro to Woodturning: or How I'm Learning to Love the Lathe

See that? Please shed a tear for me, because that is the last photo I'm going to take with my beloved, long-term digital camera, the Sony Cybershot. Bought in Summer 2006 and carted around to South East Asia and Ukraine (not to mention my myriad adventures Stateside), this little camera has lived in a Gillette razor zipper bag that Kenny sort of tossed at me three and a half years ago when I said I needed a camera case. It was working fine on Friday when I took pictures of my papermaking loot, but today when I went to document my wood turning teacher at the lathe, it wouldn't focus. Which actually, sidenote, is totally appropriate given the subject matter, because today my understanding of woodturning was exactly as blurry as the photo above. At first I thought, hey, good job capturing my internal landscape, little Cybershot. But then it wouldn't focus at all, ever again, finis. Luckily I am often the recipient of my father's hand-me-down electronics. I am blessed with a rarity, for someone my age: my Dad actually not only digs but really goes after new technology. He can also be a little ADD about getting new stuff (I say it with love, Dad) so he is upgrading more than the average user, in general. This means I have his "old" camera waiting for a day just as this (it's better than the one I had until today), and I shall retrieve it when I'm in Williamsburg for a hot second on my way to Northern climes. Goodbye, little Cybershot. You will be sorely missed, especially when I'm trying to learn the ins and outs of my new one. P.S., what the hell do you do with broken electronics? I cannot throw Gillette Cybershot Globetrotter away. We've shared too much.

Anyway, this week I am obviously in wood turning. Photographs of the rest of this week shall be brought to you by my iPhone. Here we have what I managed, with lots and lots of help, to turn today:
It is a bud vase, meaning it has a hole on top but the bottom is solid (thank GOD.) This took me all day. It is very difficult.

Hmm, what to say at this point... it was Monday, also known here at the Folk School as International Frustration Day, celebrated by those of us who are in class as beginners. I am this week's only beginning woodturner (yipee!) which means I naturally demand lots of extra attention from my instructor, a hilarious Mormon from (where else?) Utah, who is both incredibly talented and a very good teacher. A brilliant combination, I must say. He is usually pretty good at coming over when I have made a terrible noise, either with my mouth or with the lathe, and patiently explains again about bevels and angles and uphills and downhills and sharpening tools and rotating the shaft. Heh. Also, I think it's important to say that what I know about Mormons I learned from reading Dooce, which is like someone saying they know about Ukrainians because they have seen Everything is Illuminated. By this I mean, I have a limited but probably somewhat accurate understanding of Mormons, and they are awesome. I ran an errand for my teacher tonight and bought two half gallons of ice cream ("anything with chocolate and nuts, but no marshmallows") and several 12-packs of soda. Ahh yes, the soda thing. I remember reading about that.

In other news, the Folk School and its grounds have been particularly beautiful lately... check it:
Cold misty morning while on a little jog

Ringing the dinner bell at twilight: my point of view

15 November, 2009

Make the paper and print it!


This last week was spent immersed, literally, in the world of paper making. It was cold and cloudy here on Monday and Tuesday, which were also the days we spent pulling sheets from vats of freezing cold water! It was actually pretty fun, and our teacher, Frank Brannon from Asheville's BookWorks book arts center, was a big help in making it so much fun. And also we had hot tea and a warm room to go take a break in. All in all, not so bad. Even though our hands and arms were wet and cold (and occasionally our legs and feet, as well), it was peaceful out on the porch of Keith Lower, as we were in the old greenhouse and the sounds of water dripping onto the stone floor reminded me of some sort of zen garden. Drip drip, light conversation, and the flow of just pulling as much paper as we wanted to. My only experience with paper making before this class were the very shoddy attempts I made with the kids in my Montessori summer camp this past July, and I can now confidently say that were were going about it all wrong! Next summer will be much, much better (and so will our paper).

We made sheets from abaca; flax (both bleached and unbleached-- big difference in the texture and time it took to form); and cotton that had been dyed by adding a pair of someone's old purple jeans (it faded to a nice light mauve, fortunately!). All our paper was done by Wednesday, so we started my favorite part: the printing.

I was mainly focused on producing things I can use for the planning of our wedding. In paper making, this obviously points to invitations, thank you cards, and perhaps a few bigger prints used for signage or to put next to the cake or who knows, for the front of a guest book, maybe. With those things in mind, I managed to squeak out these:







(All the center block designs on the cards come from this book, my new favorite thing ever. Best $7.95 you'll spend, no matter what your craft medium is. Seriously, i can see them becoming amazing Fair Isle charts...)

I feel like this week I got to focus more on process and less on product, and yet I still ended up with a ton of things at the end of the class. Probably my favorite part was at the very end, when we learned how to put it all together with some very basic bookbinding. Check out these little sweeties:

They're each really small and thin, but it was the best use for the pure unbleached flax sheets that we pulled. They're so thin and smooth, they feel like skin. I was sort of grossed out by them until I cut off the wrinkly edges and covered these little books, and then aha! I suddenly liked the flax. They're finished with a silver bead:

And they have a print of a woodgrain stamp on the first page, just barely showing through the shadow of the cover:
I basically love them. I made more than I need; I'll put a few up on Etsy. :)

08 November, 2009

Thoughts on taking a week off...

When I first arrived here and met my co-host, Jenna, she told me that she had taken two separate weeks "off," meaning she opted out of taking a class that week. And I nodded and smiled but was really thinking, "are you crazy?! The classes are why we're here! It is literally our payment. Why would you choose to not take a class?" But then I took three pretty intense classes in a row, and couldn't resist a weekend workshop taught by Phil Jamison (one of me & Kenny's heroes) on top of it all, and all of a sudden my closet was overflowing with the products of those weeks, projects half done, a million bars of soap that needed to be photographed and uploaded to my Etsy store, a new sweater to finish, and my room was a wreck. We all know that when your room is messy, your head is messy. And so... I took a week off.

AND IT WAS AWESOME. I caught up on my Hulu queue while working my way steadily up the body of the Fair Isle sampler sweater that I started in week 3 (see a picture of the work in progress here!). I posted the polymer clay stuff I made in week 4. I sold a really good portion of the soap I made in week 2 (thanks, Facebook friends, for the buys!) which means I walked back and forth to the P.O. more than 12 times. Good thing it's close by and the weather this week has been awesome. I helped Liz move out of her house; I talked to Kenny on the phone more than I had since I arrived here; I lost an additional 2 pounds (which I have since gained back, but hey, they'll come off again) putting my current total at 7 since I got here. See, I can fit into the jeans I bought at the end of the Master Cleanse I did in April! I made a pile of give-away clothes. I took long walks around the Rivercane trails while catching up on old podcasts. I started two new physical challenges, the 100 Pushups and the 200 Sit-Ups challenges (which have the most awesomest iPhone apps ever, making it possible to do my daily challenges absolutely anywhere and at any time). Join me; I just started!

Let's see, what else did I do? I went to dance practice; I sent a sweet 3rd grader back at home a care package; I cleaned my room. I worked a bit on my sort-of-a-quilt. Oh yeah, I ordered a new SIM card and made my replacement phone work! Ta da! And made some progress on selling the old one.

All in all, it was a really relaxing, and yet productive, week. I feel totally refreshed and ready to take another class. This evening I begin a week of papermaking and print making (called "Make the paper and print it!", fittingly enough.) I have been researching Bread & Puppet-style woodblock fonts and dreaming of wedding invitation graphics. I'm way more excited about the printmaking than the papermaking, but who couldn't use some of their own handmade paper? I can use it to wrap soaps... or to send nice cards to people... or maybe even to write out our vows on. Hmm. Feel free to chime in with more suggestions. Another great thing about the class is that there are only 4 of us in it, and it's in the basement of Keith House (where I live) which makes it super easy to get my work and my living done in a neatly efficient way.

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr