Location:United Kingdom

An avid tea-drinker who likes nutmeg in her coffee and warm lavender-scented quilts. She knits, crochets and partakes in random acts of craftiness (and kindness). She likes obscure works of literature, philosophy and the idea that her mind exists separately from her body. She enjoys moving furniture around, literary criticism and baking bread. She writes haiku about nettles, would like to swim with seals and become completely self-sufficient. She writes as if her life depends on it, listens to beautiful music, and loves her darling husband Mr. VP.

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Saturday 27 May 2017

Lino no-no (aka That time I decided to use oil-based printing inks for the first time)

If you have noticed a dearth of lino-related posts, it’s because I had a huge creative surge and then… nothing. I think I experienced a bit of ‘creative burn-out’ after going non-stop lino loopy for the last few weeks. I even took my lino stuff on holiday with me in the hopes that I’d get a chance to do it but on the evenings I did get some time, I chose to spend it staring at the amazing view (Scotland, I love you), drinking a lot of cups of tea and talking to Mr VP about the amazing view. Oh and trying to photograph buzzards. But yeah, not much on the lino front.

I tried the other day to draw something I’ve been trying to draw for ages, except I just couldn’t get the proportions right. Knowing I needed to get the drawing right to be able to print it, and after a lot of effing and jeffing, I gave up in frustration. It was starting to get me down, as I am not a natural artist so I have been flippin amazed quite chuffed with what I’ve been able to achieve so far. So I decided to go back to what I knew, to show myself that I *could* still draw something. So I took inspiration from nature – the root of pretty much everything I do – and doodled some flowers, leaves, a bleeding heart plant and a snail. I continued until I had filled the lino ‘page’ and then I cut it out. It was one of the fiddliest plates I’ve done but felt so good to be doing something creative again.

A while ago, I got some new inks but hadn’t had the chance to use them. They’re water-washable oil-based relief inks by Cranfield/Caligo and they’re what Professionals use (ha!). I thought as Toddler VP had gone down quite early I’d have the time to sit down and have a bit of a dabble printing before I had to go to bed, so I set off. The results were amazing. It’s totally different in feel and look to the water-based inks I’ve used before; the results are crisp, it has just the right amount of transfer and tack and I really liked using it.

So having done my first proofs (and seeing where I needed to do some revision cuts,) I realised it was approaching 10pm and time for bed. So I took the inking plate and roller upstairs to the bathroom to be washed (as the inks contain chemicals I don’t particularly want in the kitchen). According to the manufacturer, it’s a case of wash off with detergent and warm water. Well, I did that and nothing happened, except covering everything in a layer of thick black oily goop. My gloved hands were covered, the inking plate was worse than before and the roller looked like it had taken a dip at La Brea. Ack! Trying not to make any noise because there was a sleeping Toddler VP in the next room, I roused Mr VP’s attention and urged him to Google something FAST. He found the PDF explaining the cleaning procedure and mentioned using a brush. We didn’t have brushes, but we did have a sponge scourer so I gave one of those a try. Finally, after getting myself into a muck sweat, it started to come off. Enough to allow me to put it away and call it a night. Obviously Professionals have a proper sink and the right cleaners and brushes and aren’t trying to do it at 11pm next to a sleeping child’s bedroom. Ha!  I’m not sure my inking roller will ever be the same (then again after the other night I’m not sure I will be either)!

However, as for the results, I think it’s one of my favourite pieces yet. Full of the things in nature I love the most. Most of all, it might not be what I had intended to do but it gave me a bit of faith back that I could do something. And most of all I really enjoyed doing it. Except the cleaning up bit…

Thursday 21 November 2013

NaBloPoMo 2013: Day 21. Ornamentation.

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.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

NaBloPoMo 2013: Day 5. Printing autumn.


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?

Sunday 27 October 2013

Wet and Windy

As I type this, we are beginning to feel the very fringes of the great St Jude’s storm (highly apt, given that he is the saint of depression and lost causes!), which is due to pass over us this evening and tomorrow morning.  Candles and matches are at the ready, phones are charged and we have all but battoned down the hatches here at VP Central.  The wind is lashing at the door and occasionally spattering the windows with high-velocity rain.  It’s all very scary, not knowing exactly what will happen to our belongings, our house and our car in the next few hours – and be powerless to prevent damage.

All I can do is snuggle down with Mr VP, drink tea (lots of it), make sure that there is plenty of hot water in the hot-water-tank, put on a film and crochet my snuggly ripple blanket and think of all of those people who aren’t as fortunate as we are, to be cosy and warm in the winds.  A very sobering thought indeed.

Today was also the day that we lost one of music’s leading lights: Lou Reed.  RIP Lou.  In memory of him, here’s a track that I know and love very dearly.

Monday 15 April 2013

A Weekend’s Work

I mentioned on Friday that I had a project waiting in the wings.  It involved a few metres of a fabric called ‘Seedpod Stripe’ (how lovely?), a pattern and a few other notions.  I knew that I couldn’t do it alone as, though I have sewn clothes before, none of them have had facings or funny-shaped collars or have been quite as complicated as this one.  As a visual (mostly)/ kinesthetic (fairly) person, I find following patterns somewhat of a hinderance to my own creativity (haha… ahem!) and would rather just cobble something together.  Which as any good sewing person knows, you just do not do, because it has to be perfect and precise.

I had a plan that I would make two tops. One would be a tunic from an actual pattern (Simplicity 2230) and the other would be a pattern made from simple vest top that I already have but which I like a lot.

Needless to say, I got my mother to help and she ended up helping me a lot.  There was a bit of blue air when trying to decide which bit should go where, what exactly 7/8ths of an inch was and how it should be laid out for cutting.  Thankfully, that is where my mother’s oodles of experience shone and we were on the right path again. And facing. It’s clever, but ghastly to sew on. I won’t mention the huge cock-up of having created a pattern-perfect collar, only to try it on and find out that it looked ghastly. Having spent the last two hours making the original collar. In the end, with a bit of trimming and quick piping from mum, there was a collar that I could be proud of (and didn’t make me look like a circus clown).  All in all, I did the sewing, some tacking and a whole lot of pinning.  I feel a little more au fait, if not entirely comfortable, with facings.

In the end it turned out fine.  The collar is now much better, the shape is good and the fabric… Well, it’s lovely isn’t it?  In fact, I am wearing it now.  The length is superb and looks great with a pair of leggings and some black leather riding boots.

The vest top was simple.  Draw around the original with pencil, allowing for a seam.  Cut out a piece of the patterned fabric for the front and plain white poplin for the back.  Sew it together, hem it (me)  and do more facings (mum).

Following a suggestion by the lady selling the fabric in John Lewis, I feel that a raw-edged appliqued tree and bird on the back of the top would look quite stunning.  Maybe that’ll be next weekend’s job.  All in all, a good weekend’s work I think.  I must thank my mother for her sage help and an enormous thanks to Mr VP for bringing us endless cups of tea and cooking dinner for us when we were too cross-eyed to do anything else!

Friday 12 April 2013

April’s Delights

Whilst I haven’t been posting, I’ve been thinking about posting a lot.  I know it’s not the same, but whenever I come to put finger to keyboard, all my ability and desire to write disappears.  So I thought I’d have a temporary break to see if I could make better use of my time.  It seems that all I want to do these days is go into the Great Outdoors and take photos.  And spring clean because it seems that, finally, only a couple of months late (!), that Spring has finally sprung.  We’re talking the whole nine yards here; hawthorn/blackthorn/cherry are all blooming and carpetting the place with blossom; I’ve been able to hang all of my laundry outside and it’s been getting dry(!); the birds are singing, most notably the twitter of the tits and sparrows, the collective mutterings of the starlings and the randy come-ons of the wood pigeons.

We’ve been having our first April showers and gosh, they remind me of this song.  Ironic, given that I’ve never seen Bambi (I suspect it was on one of many Disney tapes I had as a child).  The sudden downpours and the noise that the weighty drops make on leaves, on cars and on the roofs of market stalls is just as it describes in the song.  As quickly as they come, the showers are replaced by cleaner-smelling air and a window of blue sky.  I love our proper British April showers.

This week, I have come across a lot of good music; some old, some new.  The bands getting me through this week have been: The Leisure Society, Dawn Chorus Ignites and Daughter (the latter two, Mr VP and I will see live in June!)

My creative juices have been calling me to do some Smash-booking (Smash-journalling?) and I have loved putting all of it together and writing and thinking and trying to get rid of this fear of making a mark (my mark) on paper.  My favourite pen in the world to do such things is the Pilot Sign Pen 2mm, which was a necessity when my Smash pen dried up within a couple of months of me having it!

In my continued adoration of all things Dark Ages (which really weren’t so dark, it’s quite a misnomer actually), I began to read the translated version of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People.  Written in AD 731, it is a fascinating and, at times, also unintentionally funny (his descriptions of Ireland had me creased with laughter) description of how the lay of the land was formed and how kings came to be and how they inevitably fell.  For me, out of all of the history of this little island of ours, the pre-Anglo-Saxon to the beginnings of the Medieval age (the ‘dark ages’) is the most interesting because this is where the seeds of so much of our current day politic were sewn (though I believe that Marx would have it as a little bit later, but it depends on which epoch we’re talking about!).  I suppose it has limited appeal outside of academic circles (gah!), but I know that as a child I would have loved to have been taught about this.  Forget those yawn-worthy Tudors, the Wars of the Roses and the over-taught Egyptians; the best stuff, the most interesting in so many ways, is the historical period of our land that we know so little about!  And I haven’t even begun to discuss the language, the moral reforms of the age, the warfare or the literature and arts of the period…*gets off soapbox*

And so begins another weekend.  This weekend I am making something rather special.  It involves some of this…

And some of this (though not together!)…

(Apologies for the blurry photos, these were taken on my phone!)

Hopefully at the end of it all, I will be more au fait with the art of making and fitting my own clothes and will have added to my spring/summer wardrobe!  We shall see!  Happy weekend to all of you! :)

Thursday 7 February 2013

Rippling Along Quite Nicely

Well, my day has been slow and uneventful.  A bit of reading here and there; a little bit of writing; menu-planning and continuing on with my ripple blanket.  The photograph doesn’t quite do justice to the length or the colour of the blanket.  It’s actually around a metre and a bit (140 stitches), which is the perfect width for a cuddle-up-on-the-sofa blanket.  I’m waiting to get some different coloured Aran wool to go with it, so that I can ripple in different colours.  Having browsed around a bit, I can see that a purely blackcurrant (that’s what I’m going to name this colour) and cream combo might look a bit too stripy and plain, so I’ve decided that something along the same colour axis is needed.  I don’t know exactly what colours to pair it with, but I’m going to see what the wool shop has to offer.

I am quite enjoying the feel of the Clover ‘soft touch’ crochet hook, as it’s the first time I’d ever used one.  As I didn’t have a 5.00mm hook, I had to buy and was pleased to see that it was only 50p more than the usual aluminium ones, but sometimes those grey anodised hooks can rub on your finger after a while, whereas this one doesn’t.

I just watched Sleepless in Seattle for the first time and, whilst I haven’t taken it to heart quite as much as some do (maybe I came to it too late?), I thought it was a very nice film (with a lovely soundtrack!).  My recollections of Meg Ryan seem to be mostly her later stuff (City of Angels and You’ve Got Mail), when she tended to portray women who were airy-fairy, indecisive and annoying!  Whilst she didn’t really break that stereotype for me in Sleepless in Seattle, she came across a little more ‘clearly’ and more personable.  If you are looking for a light film that has a happy ending – then Sleepless in Seattle is a very pleasant way to while away an afternoon of crochet.

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