Can you tell that I really enjoy lino printing!? I haven’t been quite as prolific this week but I have managed to do a few small(er) cuts as well as my Norwegian stave church, which I found in a book on pine trees and instantly fell in love with! It has taken me most of a week to do the drawing and sizing of it as well as the cutting (those fish-scale roofs are amazing, but so fiddly!). It’s still not finished, but it’s getting there. It’s my biggest and most ambitious print to date. I LOVE it! I am also rather fond of my lighthouse (modelled loosely on St Mary’s at Whitley Bay). And my acorn. And my carrot. Oh and my first attempt at lettering. Nothing special – my kerning is all out and it’s on a scrap bit of softcut – but I enjoyed it and now I have got the system for doing it worked out, I will be trying some more (nemophilist, by the way, is someone with a love of forests or woodlands, a ‘haunter of woods’).
I caved and treated myself to three Pfeil tools: to a linocutter what Festool tools are to a carpenter. They slice through lino like a hot knife through butter and make the entire process so much easier and less deadly to your fingers. I definitely recommend them if you’re looking to get into lino cutting. I’m still having issues with ink, though the last lot of prints came out better than any before, so it’s likely my technique that’s improving rather than anything to do with the ink! I have also tried the Versafine ink by Tsukineko, which I like a lot, and would probably use for paper/thin card prints. What are you up to craft-wise?
After a particularly chilly couple of walks on the beach, with the wind giving us brain-freeze, I knew that a hat was needed. I found a hat and wrist-warmer kit with lovely, soft wool at Woolaballoo in Hexham and began knitting. I usually knit in the round using double-pointed needles, as I find DPNs much easier and more reliable to use (and circular needles give me the heebie-jeebies). However, after chatting with the lady at Woolaballoo, she urged me to try using a circular needle, so off I went.
I did make some adjustments to the pattern – it said it required the plain rib to measure 10cm, but I stopped at 8cm as I felt that was plenty, and the hat is 10cm shorter than recommended because I prefer it a little more snug. I can’t remember what the plain yarn is (it is 100% merino) but the self-patterning yarn is Adriafil’s Knitcol in #51 (Giotto Fancy). I don’t think I would use the circular needle as my needle of choice in the future, but I do understand why some people like it, particularly for larger items. All in all, though, for a first time using a circular needle, I’m really pleased with it.
I have been really verry busy and stressed recently, as we are in that sort of eye of the storm, where it seems deceptively quiet, just before the upheaval of the proper work starts on the house. Quotes have been received, builders have been found, jobs have been lined up, but nothing has actually started just yet. Just as I think I have all of my plates spinning nicely, I find out that something called ‘building control’ has to be applied for and my (renovation) world is thrown into a complete tailspin, complete with panicked phonecalls to the building control officer and a desperate need for structural calculations so I can fill in the form. Argh!
In-between all of this mayhem, I have been able to do some cooking and baking. Mr VP’s office took part in the Macmillan coffee morning and I baked one of my much-beloved chocolate cakes to help raise some money (sadly no pictures as I was icing the thing quite late on). I made a delicious veg-box soup for dinner, with everything in the veg box that we hadn’t eaten and it was extremely delicious. For dessert one evening, I poached some pears in apple juice and rosé wine, with a bit of ginger wine thrown in for spice. It was so good that we didn’t have it with anything; just ate it slightly warm. Delicious. Speaking of delicious, I love caramelised onions and to use some of the onion-glut up, I made a caramelised onion and courgette quiche – a savoury revellation!
On the needles is a cap-sleeved infinity jumper (Stylecraft 9017) knitted in Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed, which is surprisingly soft and nice to knit with. I am also preparing for a more complex jumper to keep me occupied over the winter months, once the house has (with any luck) been finished.
I cryptically mentioned this snood ages ago (in the middle of September!). It seems that I could win awards for starting projects but not finishing them! It shouldn’t have taken as long as it did, and it could have been finished quite a while ago as I found it laying in my knitting pile with only four rows to go! Typical! I personally adore the colour as it is perfectly autumnal and very ‘me’.
The pattern is the Calming Waves Cowl from the Little Ranch House blog. I found it on ravelry and knew it was perfect for this yarn that I bought back from our anniversary/post-surgery holiday in York. The wool is from Ramshambles, the yarn shop on the Shambles and is West Yorkshire Spinners’ Aire Valley Aran, 100g, on 5.5mm needles (my 5mm needles had gone AWOL!).
The cowl/snood on the Little Ranch House blog was longer than this one, but I wanted mine to be a fairly snug fit, to keep me warm in the worst of the weather. So this is long enough to go around my neck and not feel too tight, yet not loose enough to be a proper cowl (I should call it my ‘snowl’!) I can pull it up around my face and ears if necessary and I can tell you now, since I finished it yesterday, I have only taken it off to go to bed! It is very snuggly and not at all scratchy. Perfect.
After reading some Martha Stewart Living, I was given the idea to make some Christmas decorations. It is incredibly fun to do, and has come out surprisingly well. I used SuperSculpey, a poylmer clay which bakes hard after about fifteen minutes in a low oven and I plan to paint and spray them once cooled.
It has been many years since I last picked up my lino-cutting tools, felt the smooth, as-yet uncut surface or smelled the linseed-oil tang of proper lino. But I have been craving crafty pursuits recently and have been wanting to get back to doing it again. Though I don’t have the space to craft as much as I used to (boo), I really enjoyed the process of getting thall of my tools out and having a play. I put a little bit of music on my laptop and got down to business, inspired by the photos and sights of our walk last Sunday.
It’s still pretty rough around the edges, and quite time-consuming (I did have to choose a fiddly design!) but very cathartic and enjoyable nonetheless. Can you see the snail climbing the stalk?
It’s been quiet here in VintagePretty land; quiet but still busy. Days disappear into one another as paint colours blur on a child’s brush, until they become one homogenous blob of events and moments all rushing by. I’m still struggling with some health problems post-op, which have been the very bain of my days recently and have hindered my plans to get very necessary things done. But c’est la vie. It’d be nice to have a few weeks go by when I didn’t have to go to the doctor for any number of tests/appointments/treatment/. It’s even worse when you’re told that something else has shown up on your tests which wasn’t there a few months ago :-/
But in-between times, there have been moments of pure colour, of pure brilliance. Like finding this elephant hawk moth caterpillar (which was longer than a long finger and thicker, too!) crawl across my path when I was out doing some power-walking.
A moment with family last weekend where we indulged our sweet-tooths (sweet-teeth?!).
A concert – Kathryn Williams! Oh my! Such a life-long musical love of mine -and getting to meet and chat to her. Her new album, Crown Electric is co-written in part with Ed Harcourt and when she played one of the songs they wrote together, it was as if he was in the room with us. It was stunning.
And sofa shopping, let’s not forget sofa shopping! Our Ikea Ektorp sofa has been with us 8 1/2 years and has finally bitten the dust. Its springs are saggy and it is no longer comfortable (or rather, it’s too comfortable, whereby one sinks into it – just try getting up!). We have picked our style (we’re going minimalist 1960s!) and colour (lavender grey).
I have also been busy knitting something rather lovely. I am so inordinately in love with the wool that I long for a cardigan in it. I will post properly about it when it’s finished (which should be not too long now!).