Of Oz, Clogs and Linocut Prints!

Gentle reader,

When I finished high school in Australia, I went on student exchange to the US to do the last half of senior year all over again. Glutton for punishment, right? ^_~ Not really, it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life, and I met some of the most awesome peeps ever. And, I also got to learn how to do linocut prints! I wish for the life of me I could remember my art teacher’s name, she was so amazing, and I feel like a jerk that I can’t remember. But, that class was so amazing, and I learned more about art and craft in the six months than I did in the two years I took art at my Australian school.

Anyway, recently my super lovely friend, Amy (who blogs at Mildly Crafty, so you should give her some love!), gave me a whole bunch of linocut bits and bobs – all stored in a delightful old cardboard suitcase – and a book about different DIY printing processes. I already had some linocut stuff, but I hadn’t touched it in years so this got me all fired up about linocut all over again!

Amy’s Awesome Gifties.

I didn’t use the clean, new blocks that Amy gave me, because I wanted to save those for when I was more practiced, so I used some lino scraps I already had. The fabric paint didn’t work very well on my lino – it balled up and didn’t print very well – so I used the regular block ink that I already had. I can’t wait to do some fabric printing though!

My first carving went straight into the bin because I’d forgotten to mirror the letters so they printed the right way, but after that I did a Wizard of Oz print which came out really well! I was very happy with that one. Beginner’s luck. The next one I did was of the clogs. It’s somewhat of a tradition for bloggers to take pictures of their feet, I guess, which I’ve always thought was quite funny and cute. A bunch of the lovely ladies whose blogs and Instagrams I follow seem to love their clogs, so I asked GourmetGirlfriend if I could use one of her Instagrams as a reference and carved a tribute to bloggers who clog. ^_~

It’s slow going, but super satisfying!

I’m still finding the best amount of ink to use. The first time, I used to too much, and tried watering it down a little. I got the best prints from thicker ink though, and having a lot of ink had some trade-offs. I got better prints, and more prints from one application, but I also got more waste prints at the beginning from the ink squishing around the edges too much. So, the second time I used less ink, and got good prints, but not quite as good, and only one or two prints per application. I need to find the happy medium.

The roller is called a brayer. The more you know!

I did prints on brown paper and some canvas cartridge. I think I liked the brown paper best. I have lots of love for brown paper… brown paper bags, brown paper parcels, ah! I love it all! So, I was really happy with my brown paper prints. I found that I liked the Oz design a lot more when the print wasn’t completely even, and the paper showed through in places with the ink. But, for the Clogs one, I liked it more when the print was very crisp and even.

No Place Like Home, and Clog Lovin’

The canvas was more of a mixed bag. I think it was just a little too textured, and the Clogs design went right up to the edge so it was tricky to line up. I think I’d like to try printing on some other textured materials that aren’t quite as rough, like watercolor paper or something. I still liked them! Just not quite as much.

Click your Silver Clogs three times… (or Ruby Clogs for the movie peeps).

All in all, I’m properly happy with the carvings, but I still have some experimenting to do with the printing process. They’re definitely not Etsy-ready, but hopefully soon. Experimenting is the fun part, so I’m well keen to get on with it!

Meanwhile, I should have a finished sock to show you soon! ^_^

What other kinds of designs would you like to see? Have you done any printing before?

O Hai! I’m Not Dead In A Ditch!

Gentle reader,

It’s been ages since I last posted. I do apologize! I’ve been meaning to get around to do a proper posts but, it just never happened. I’ve been a bit preoccupied. But, I’m back now, and here’s a recap of what’s being going on in my forest.

I did some work, and I played some games.

I finished the bunny sweater (though, I’m going to unpick the sleeves and restitch them, and fix some wonky intarsia bits with duplicate stitch)

I got an amazing parcel from my American Mom, Beth, with a bunch of lovely gifts and some of her beautiful glass work. We’re going to combine her glass pieces and my crochet into… something!

I bought some yarn. Naturally.
L to R: Rowan Colorscape Chunky, Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball, Noro Kogarashi

I got some new shoes. Green, of course.

I did some scribbles. The side two are plans for some lino block prints.

I smooched some cheeky pooses.

Listened to some tunes.
L to R: Emi Hinouchi – “Me”, Midlake – “The Trials of Van Occupanther,
The Civil Wars – “Barton Hollow”

I did some wandering around Melbs and enjoyed the turn of the season.

Aaaaand, I started some big, chunky bedsocks with the Kogarashi for my friend, Alf!
I’m using the pattern “Thuja” from Knitty.com

Phew! Did you like “My Life In Pictures” recap? Hope so! I’ll be back to posting regularly now. I think I might do more of these – unless raiding my Instagram is cheating… Hmmm…

How have you been!? Catch up in the comments! ^_^

Intarsia & New Camera Part Two

Gentle reader,

You’ll be pleased to know that there’ll be no cloaca-talk this time (except for just now, whoops!). But, there will be an update on the intarsia sweater I’ve been working on! The pieces are all done, and it’s blocking; all that remains is to make it up and knit the collar ribbing!

Sloooowly finding my feet.

Look, intarsia is not hard. But, I’m finding that – for me at least – it’s one of those things that just comes to you with practice. You’ve just gotta be patient until you find your rhythm, like your tension when you first start knitting. I mean, I was doing it, but I was getting frustrated with uneven stitches, and I tried any number of things to combat that, and yet, I still ended up with some messy bits. I sat down with Judith and got some tips, and they certainly helped from a technical perspective, but… my intarsia still was not perfect, and that frustrated me! I suppose you can’t really expect things to be perfect the first time you do them, but I expected it to be a bit better than what I got! I was ready to rip it out and start over, but everyone told me to keep going and assured me that all of these little imperfections that were bugging the bajiggity outta me would come out in the blocking process. So, I persisted.

I may have gone slightly overboard with the pins.

And so, when I’d finished all the pieces, I soaked them overnight and then started blocking them. And… I guess it looks a bit better than before, but there are still all kinds of uneven bits and odd things happening! Blerg! I’ve always been really pleased that my knitting is usually quite neat and even so this really, really bothers me. On one hand, I think it’s a decent first whack. On the other hand part of me wants to rip it out and knit the front over again. But, I want it finished by tomorrow because I intended it to be a gift, though now I’m not so sure (note to self, a gift is probs not the best project to tackle a new skill on. Not too bright, are we?). I’ll see what it looks like when it’s sewn up and check in with my knitting pals to see if there are anymore tricks I can do.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer about it, though. I really enjoyed making it, and I’m keen to have another crack at it! Whenever I learn something, I have this habit of jumping in the deep end, because it can only get easier, right? And usually I struggle with it until the light bulb goes off and then I feel all giddy with excitement and satisfaction. I think what happened here is I finished this project a little before I got my light bulb moment. If I’d wrestled with it a little longer I might have gotten there. But, I’ll be content with this one for now, because it’s not awful, really. I’ll definitely give intarsia another bash, though!

Speaking of giving things a bash, the other week I took my new camera out for a wander to take some snaps. I’m really happy with how they came out. I haven’t done any post-processing on these except to rotate a few.

Wanderings

I think if I did any adjusting, I’d up the exposure on the statues, but the others I’m happy with. It was so nice also to have a little sticky beak around a part of Melbourne that I’d passed plenty of time but never had a closer look. I had such a wonderful evening wandering around, taking snaps, finding little interesting things here and there. It can be so easy to pass things by these days, and sometimes it’s nice to stop and smell the roses so to speak (or literally, even!).

I am having a few issues with the camera, sometimes the colors aren’t as accurate as I’d like, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out after some experiments and another flip through the destruction manual.

Have you ever tackled something that didn’t quite turn out how you wanted? How did you fix it? Sharezies!

Cameras, Birds (And Their Downstairs Mix-Ups), A Prelude to Intarsia & A Dash of Zombies

Gentle reader,

You may recall that our house was broken into… TWICE, and the second time they took Joel’s camera (which I had somewhat commandeered). While we’ve vowed not to replace any of the game consoles until we move, I was getting very itchy not having a decent camera, though I admit my iPhone does a pretty good job up to a point. So, I did some reading and I decided on the Nikon Coolpix L120 because of the cray-to-the-azy lens, some good reviews and the amazingly good price. You can get them for $198 at Dick Smiths, if you’re in Australia, which was about $60 cheaper than I saw at other places.

Joel and I got some dinner afterward at QV, and I decided to test it out on some birds.

I pointed my camera at these birds and this is what happened.

I love birds! I mean, I really know next to nothing about them like different breeds etc, but gosh I think they’re the cutest things ever. But then I remember they have cloacas which then kinda grosses me out for some reason and it mars my enjoyment of their cuteness for a few seconds, and then I push the idea of a one-stop poopin’, peein’, breedin’ shop from my head and then all is well again.

In fact, let’s do that now and move on from that unsavory thought and just enjoy these mighty adorable little critters. I LOVE that little nugget in the bottom left! Look at his little chest and face! Eeeeeeeeee! I would totally have given him a gentle hug in my hands if he’d let me. HIS. LITTLE. FACE!!!! ^_^     Cloaca. Dammit!  >_<

Meanwhile, I’ve been knitting a bit! I recently discovered the wonders of having a library card after not having one since I left college. I pretty much borrowed every knitting book that wasn’t totally naff from the library on Flinders Lane, and I decided that I’d tackle some intarsia. I’m making a wee bairn’s sweater from Picture Perfect Knits by Laura Birek. The design is called “I ❤ Mom“, and it’s a heart with a banner around it that says “Mom”, but I’m going to switch the chart out for a different design from the appendix at the back. So far, I think the book is awesome and probably worth the purchase. The pattern has been really clear, concise and easy to follow, but, I haven’t gotten to the intarsia yet and there was no shaping on the back piece, so, the wheels may yet fall off (I daresay that would be my own shortcoming and not the books though).

It seems on of my balls of yarn has become irradiated. Whoops.

I started with the back panel to safeguard against my finishing the intarsia and then getting bored with it and never finishing it. Geesh. I pinned it out for the sake of photographing it, I’ve not blocked it yet. I’ll pin the tar outta it when I do, cuz it’s super curly. I haven’t been slipping my first stitch to get a nice edge so it’s mega rough and curly at the edges. I dunno why I didn’t do the slipping thing. I think Marelle told me not to bother, so I’ll see how that goes. I’m using Cleckheaton Basics DK which I got from a sale. It’s a perfectly decent yarn, but I shan’t rave about it. I suppose that’s neither here nor there though, since it’s now discontinued. If you find it cheap though, it’s worth picking up.

I have a few projects on the go – I’m still working on my own sweater and Marelle’s crochet lace dress (which I’ve been taking to work to do on my lunch break) – but they’ve all gotten too big to to be suitable for public transport projects. Sure, the intarsia sweater is small, but since I’ll be starting the chart soon, it will be a sit-quietly-and-concentrate project. Luckily for me, I recently traded in some games and got Resident Evil: Revelations for my Nintendo 3DS (the only game console that wasn’t stolen) to while away my commute time. I don’t know if I can stress this enough: I love me some zombie-killin’. Yes, I do. The very first Resident Evil was one of the first games I got when we first got a computer. I’m fairly sure it gave me nightmares, but they were AWESOME nightmares (my parents may disagree on that fact).

“Resident… Eeevillll”

I played a couple hours of it over the weekend, and it’s pretty off-the-hook cray-to-the-azy. The graphics are super neat and definitely the best I’ve seen on the DS. It’s also compatible with the extra thumb-stick attachment, which I don’t have, but I really haven’t felt that controls are lacking without it. It’s very intuitive and fun. Are you guys even into games? Zombies? Yes? No? Lemme know. If you likey I’ll talk more about it, if no, I’ll keep it to my own nerdy self.

Have you tackled intarsia knitting yet? Have any tips? Share-zies!  ^_^

Toto-Phone!

Gentle reader,

Do you have an iPhone? When you got your iPhone were you like me and obsessed about just. the. right. case? My gadgets are my children, and it just won’t do to put them in just any ol’ case. I bought a case that was designed to make my phone look like a green monster, and I loved it. But it was made of this stretchy silicone type stuff, and it’s since stretched a bit out of shape and I’m terrified of it slipping out and getting damaged. Eek!

Well, Morris & Sons – in their infinite wisdom – recently got this piece of awesomeness in the store, and it’s the answer to my prayers!

Image credit to Leese Design

It’s made by a Korean company called Leese Design, and you can buy them there or at Morris & Sons (for $25! That’s cheap for an iPhone case). The case is a snug fit, which is what I was after, and each case comes with the needle, a few threads, and a little design booklet. But, me being me, I had to do my own design, natch, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m faaaairly cray about My Neighbor Totoro.

I want a Totoro all of my own so I can hug him and pat him and love his face! So, I got out my graph paper and drew out a design and got to stitching! I’m using some floss from a cheap bulk pack that we got from somewhere, so I don’t know how it’ll turn out color-wise. If they turn out totes fug, I’ll drop back into Morris and gets some decent ones. I’m properly stoked with the chart though. I’ll do up a clean copy eventually and share it with y’all.

What’s your name? TOH! TOH! ROOOOOOOAAAARRRRR!!! ❤

I’ll have to keep my stretchy green monster for a bit longer until this one comes together. It’s perhaps a bit sad, but I can really see myself getting a few more of these treasures and doing a few different designs so I can switch them up on a whim. They’d also make really neat gifties for any Apple-fan peeps.

Look at his little face! ^_^

What phone do you have, and what case have you got? Share some gadget love. You can even go post pics of your funky cases over at the Facebook page!

A Sock, A Beret, And A Tune

Gentle reader,

After the Loch festival, I’ve been laying low – also because of some dental work, oy! – but I’ve been pottering away at some thing here and there, and I also had my phone upgraded to an iPhone 4S, so I figured I’d test out the camera and show you some stuff!
First up, while I was visiting my folks over Christmas, I’d decided that I was going to knit my Ma some socks. She’d bought me the book “Closely Knit” by Hannah Fettig for a Christmas gift, and then I asked her to pick out some sock yarn. Now, Spotlight in a smallish-biggish town doesn’t have the greatest selection, and the yarn my Ma chose didn’t even have a ball band, so I’ve got no idea what it is. It’s not what I’d have chosen for myself, but it’s not for myself, now, is it?

I like to call him "Halfie".

At any rate, I’ve knit the first sock which I’ll send to Ma for a fit before I do the other. I feel like it’s a little big (considering it fit me comfortably), but I knit it by the pattern according to shoe size and my Ma’s foot length, and my tension was slightly tighter – maybe two or three stitches less over four inches – so, I dunno, I’ll see what she thinks when she tries it.

The pattern in the book was really easy to follow, and explained the stuff I hadn’t done before really clearly. I’d never done the folded picot edge before, and I probably squealed myself silly when I’d done it and declared “I’M GOING TO KNIT ALL OF THE THINGS WITH A PICOT EDGE!!!“. Also, I’d never done a top-down sock or used Kitchener stitch to cast off before, so they were good times had.

It wasn’t all fun and games, obviously. It never occurred to Little Stupid here that knitting a heel flap with self-striping yarn looks pretty naff and I ought to have used a plain yarn or an afterthought heel. Which I already knew, but my mind left me for the duration of this sock. I particularly hate the single-row stripe on the top of the foot. Oy. Well, next time I shan’t be so daft, promise. Another weird thing: my stitches are usually quite even and neat, but they’re a little bit cray-to-the-azy here… I did notice that the yarn was particularly twisty and I had to de-twist a LOT more than usual, so I’m going to put it down to that.

Anyway, the book is super nice, and I’d definitely recommend it. For the Australian peeps, Ma and I found it at Lincraft for $7, which is a serious find considering how neat this book is. I almost felt like we were stealing it, y’all! Anyhoo, I’m planning to knit up a few of the projects and reviewing it. Hands up if you’re interested. There’s also a really nice plain sweater for gentlemen in here that I’m pondering.

Meanwhile, all summer my receding hairline and I have been bemoaning my lack of summer hats to hide my hair trauma and prevent scalp sunburn, but other things took precedent and I neither bought nor made any. And then, after Loch, I figured I’d put my new-found crafting freedom towards more hats, but really, summer’s nearly over, so I thought to heck with that idea, I’ma make me a new beret! I do love a good beret. So, I pulled out this Cleckheaton book, “She Knits” and, FYI Cleckheaton, He Knits too.

Gettin' my beret on. Well, not for a while yet.

Now, I love the Cleckheaton Country yarns, but I love Morris Estate better, so I bought myself some balls of Estate 8 ply in a lovely dusty, tweedy green (Sage 8046) and got started. It was really hard to make the color to come through accurately on my iPhone, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. It’s green and yummy; truth. I know, green is so unusual for me, right? The pattern is not the most exciting thing as far as knitting it goes, but it’ll be a nice pick-up-put-down project while I do other things. I’ll keep you posted!

To finish off, I wanted leave y’all with a song! It’s been a while since I’ve shared some tunes, and this album is making me fall in love with it all crazy-like, so here ’tis. I love me some shimmery, shiny, melancholy, synthy deliciousness.

Do like knitting socks? How do you deal with Second Sock Syndrome? Also, feel free to share your fave tune of the moment! Commentses? I heart them!

– R