Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Melting Into Goo

It’s the hottest day of the year so far (heading for 35 C. today) and what do I decide to do? Paint the inside of the freaking closet! I think my brain melted before the rest of me caught up. After I got all the stuff out of said closet yesterday, I noticed that it hadn’t had a coat of paint in donkey’s years. So we found the leftover half of the big can of light yellow kitchen paint and this morning at 5:30am I started painting. In my underwear. Seriously weird mind-picture that, eh? I actually started out wearing my “painting pants” but quickly removed them as the sweat poured down. (Who’s going to see me anyway? Even T-Man is at work.) I’ve just finished 2 coats and an extra one on the attic door plus touch-ups to a few spots and there’s only a centimeter of paint left in the can. It’s not a great job but it’s the inside of a space that’s usually so full of stuff nobody can see the paint anyway. The space is a yard deep and the full 12 foot length of my study and includes a sewer vent pipe, a heavy metal hanging rod and a brick chimney to paint around. The only good thing was that I didn’t need a ladder to paint the ceiling because it slants from arms reach to below my chin. I also didn’t paint the inside front wall because it’s covered in pine strips. I would obviously have run out of paint if I’d tried. (We won’t even consider how much more energy that would have taken.) The one advantage is that the paint sure dries fast when it’s around 27 C. in here! Yes, I have my fan on and facing directly at me. It’s the only thing that kept me going. Well, that and several huge cups of tea.

The rest of my day is going to be taken up with attempting to keep cool. But first I wanted to review another book. This one is Nicky Epstein’s Knitting Never Felt Better:

It’s a great book if you love ideas and techniques rather than just patterns. Most of Nicky’s books are like that. A bunch of inspirational swatches and a few patterns for completed items using her favourites out of the bunch. This book not only shows you what the knitted swatches look like both before and after felting but she also covers the lesser known technique of felted shibori in some depth. This version of shibori isn’t “tie-dye” but is “tie-felt” — where the objects were tied in doesn’t full along with the rest of the fabric but instead pokes out in wonderful textural bubbles and blisters. Of course that’s not to say that you couldn’t add dyeing in there as well but Nicky is apparently either not a dyer or is keeping the book’s focus on just the knitting and fulling part. She also adds embellishments (fulled flowers and leaves etc.), cords and fringes, cut shapes, and even life-sized fruits and veggies. Unfortunately a cute horse and bunny made from recycled sweaters call for purchasing a Vogue pattern to sew them. I think that’s cheating, Ms. Author. Either make your own patterns and include them (which she did with other things here) or don’t show them at all. Vogue patterns are pricey (I’m not paying the equivalent of half the price of the book) and it’d probably go out of print just about the time you might want to make one of these stuffies. It’s bad enough that you can’t find old wool sweaters in our local second-hand shops. I think synthetics are much more popular here where it doesn’t get ridiculously cold, just wet. Of course real wool keeps you warmer when wet but for some reason everyone wants something you can just heave in the washer and dryer. Too bad! Either that or someone is getting first dibs on the good wool stuff. I can’t find anything suitable for rug hooking either.

But I digress. Nicky also gives hints on the fulling/felting process and what specific yarns look like before and after. Although I’m not about to knit and felt a zucchini, I think the strength of this book is in the diversity of patterns that you can see after they’re fulled. This includes textures, colour knitting (mosaic, fairisle, argyles etc.), lace, bobbles and cables. Things you may not have thought to try but that work really well with neat effects. This is another one to add to my ever-burgeoning collection of Nicky Epstein inspiration/solution/design books. I don’t always like exactly what she’s done but I can totally see using some of her prolific ideas in my work. I already have in the past.

Nicky’s next book that’s coming out is the sequel to Knitted Flowers, called Crocheted Flowers. Just goes to show that crochet is beginning to catch up to its more popular sibling, knitting. I know there are the “just/only/absolutely one or the other” folks out there, but I like both crafts for different reasons. Some of the really well-known designers are versed in both too like Lily Chin, Annie Modesitt and Leigh Radford. And of course you can combine techniques into one project. I find it funny when the “one craft” types flip if they see a crocheted sleeves on a knitted sweater or a crocheted edging joining knit blocks together into an afghan. It’s all yarn, people! If you can do one, you can very likely learn to do the other. Consider it good for your health to constantly learn new things so you’ll stave off Alzheimer’s later. It’s also good to use different muscles and movements to prevent repetitive stress problems. Or whatever. Besides it’s fun.

OK I’m outta here. The paint smell isn’t strong but it’s annoying and it’s heading for 30 C. up here. Me and Tori the Wheel need to find a cooler spot so I can spin some. Not outside — it's much hotter out there! Maybe in the living room? It's on the north-east side of the house and has a comfy chair.

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