Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Yarn Lust in Glasgow

Maybe it was the first onset of autumn or just my love of soft tactile textures but when I had a little annual leave in August my yarn lust was awakened again. It started when I saw some Rico Pompon wool in a craft shop in Hillington. I decided it was too expensive at nearly £10 a ball. I looked online but with the dreaded P&P the price was just about the same and the more I thought about it I just had to have some. In the meantime as I was looking for advice online as to how I might knit with it, I browsed around and decided to visit a couple of wool shops locally.

After visiting a friend for lunch on the Southside I popped into Marjory's Wool Shop. I now know what it feels like to have shrunk and have landed inside a knitting bag. This tiny shop is stuffed full of the most glorious yarns in every conceivable colour and type and the lady was lovely and so generous with her advice. 'Aruba' and 'Nina' scarf yarns came home to stay and will feature in another post now they are all made up.
The following day the next shop I just had to visit was Yarn Cake in the West End, which I'd been meaning to visit for so long as it looked intriguing. This is an eclectic shop which sells yarn and cake. It has a much smaller selection but has the most amazingly soft hanks of alpaca or llama blended with mulberry silk, Drops yarn that I am now in love with and small run wools from local producers like New Lanark. When I visited I was greeted by the owner, Antje, who was chatting with some young women who were sitting knitting and enjoying cake and coffee. Everyone was so relaxed and friendly it was impossible not to get chatting and I had a great laugh. Antje, explained she was following the Great British Bake Off and making the challenge each week. However, as the latest one was Floating Islands and she didn't have a hob in store then she'd made chocolate roulade from an earlier series. The cake was divine, and I was delighted when she asked if it was ok that the coffee came in a cafetiere. I'm really fussy about my coffee and frequently disappointed so anywhere serving good coffee is music to my ears. A lovely time was had and some beautiful soft Drops Nepal wool/alpaca blend and New Lanark Chunky was eventually selected.

So, what of the pompon wool that started this woolly exploration off? Well, that weekend I was meeting up for afternoon tea with my ex-colleagues and friends and, as the designated driver, I managed to persuade my human sat nav's to agree to let me swing past the original craft shop to get some pompon wool. Now, from a purely financial point of view, if I'd just bought the ruddy pompon stuff in the first place it would have saved me a fortune. Instead I managed to awaken my old yarn lust which was definitely NOT the cheaper option. However, if I hadn't used some of my time off to explore a little of Glasgow's wool landscape then I'd never have visited the brilliant shops above and re-engaged with a craft I used to love. There are many more woolly tales to be told and I'll endeavour to get all caught up again.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Decorative Glasswork Course

A month or so ago, I decided it was time for me to do 'something' and emerge from what has been happening. I didn't have a clear idea of what I'd get up to instead preferring to see what caught my eye, inspired me or lead me to expand my horizons. Things had been very hard going this year and I felt I had to 'DO' something to either help normalise/ rebalance my life or if nothing else just give me a new focus. As always when this type of spur to action occurs I can get quite immersed, which is why this blog has diverged from beading to other crafts, old and new, for me.

As the new leisure classes were about to start I was browsing around and saw a decorative glasswork course on offer at the old Glasgow College of Building and Printing that I just had to apply to join. It's now City of Glasgow College but to me it is always known by its old name.

On the first week we learned to score the glass to cut it, to make curves and to cut out a simple pattern of a little bird. I am not sure whether he is a dove of peace, a bluebird of happiness or a bright canary but the words I was calling his tail section which kept breaking on me were less than charitable. Once he was cut out though we got to try out grinding and smoothing the edges in preparation for copper foiling the next week. He came out well and now lives on my dining room wall.

The other hangings are a favourite hand-drawn map of Colonsay and Oronsay, somewhere I've never actually been! I used to be into cartography as a child and teenager and I think this was the first grown up picture I bought myself. The other is a picture of a very young me in one of my first school uniforms. I say first as I was in seven schools due to my parents or schools relocating. I was always the kid with the uniform from a previous school as my Mother made me 'wear out' each one! I'm not sure the pics will remain on this wall, especially the school photo which makes friends laugh helplessly, but at least I know where they are till I find them a new position.

There are only four newbies in the glasswork class with the rest being returners who are working on on-going projects. Everyone was very friendly and happy to discuss their project. They were impressive and so inspiring. So far I've worked on a chain of three hearts which are still waiting to be linked together and hung up, and this week I started a simple Christmas tree tee-light project to tide me over till I can get the glass for my new glass/chainmaille project. I'm liking it so much I might be one of next term's returners.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Deck the halls, the walls and all other surfaces

It is lovely to begin putting up framed items on the walls. Initially when I moved I hung a couple of items from the previous house where there was a hook. A picture of the Grand Canal in Venice, two impressionist prints and a mirror survived my wall hanging reticence more because I didn't want them damaged by leaving them propped somewhere. I was reluctant to begin filling the walls with the stuff we'd brought and making holes as I really wasn't sure what I wanted to go where. We always had a wide variety in the other flat including a number of fine art prints in the bathroom but here felt different somehow. 

A colleague at work made a comment a while back about moving home saying 'Your house, doesn't feel right till you've got all your pictures up' and she does this as one of her immediate priorities. I felt bad that months down the line so few of mine have made it onto the walls. However, this house is so different in terms of the quality of light, the colours and the types of surfaces that how things were before can't be replicated.

So far two new pieces have come in which I feel are just right. One my Mum funded as a new home gift which is a beautiful metalwork tree. It is ideal in the hall and suits the slight autumnal hints, is from my Mum and is a nod to my late father's profession. The other is a metal bejewelled peacock in fabulous colours set on a Wedgewood blue wall. I often think peacocks look very vain and that is not me at all, however, this one seems to be turning back shyly and looking at his glorious feathers in amazement.

I love the clean, complete look of showhouse magnolia and 'on trend' accessories but loathe their lack of personality, quirkiness and wittiness that is needed to make a home look 'authentic' to the occupants. It would have been the easiest thing to fill the walls and take the bare look off but it just didn't feel right somehow and I wasn't sure why. Slow as the process been, this way seems to feel right as each piece has a back story, a meaning or a history and can embed before the next addition suggests itself.

Interestingly, the colleague who had made the comment above and I were discussing whether out current houses would be our 'forever' homes and how we felt, as we'd both had big life transitions which precipitated our moves. A few days later she re-engaged the conversation and said she'd been thinking over my theory about 'growing into a home' rather than 'dressing a house'. She said she'd come to the conclusion over the weekend that she'd unthinkingly replicated what had been and the resulting familiarity of items in an unfamiliar place was what was making her feel dis-located and conversely unsettling her rather than making her feel at home. Who'd have thought popping up some pictures at home could be so complicated!  

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Craft Divergence and The Range

I used to paper craft as a child and my paper shoes were legendary, if not functional. My Mother's war cry was always over our single pair of missing household scissors which I had always had and could never find. Interestingly, as I grew up I actually recognised our long, round tipped shiny household scissors as actually being long handled surgical operation scissors but I never got to the bottom of where they had come from as we had no medical connections.

As I got older I rather left paper crafting behind though I retained my love for all thing stationery and have an impressive collection of paper, pens and related items. In her young days my Mother had been a bookbinder, as were many of her family. Some years ago we took some bookbinding classes together at the former Glasgow College of Building and Printing and made some lovely journals and restored some antique books including one for a hospital library. I found it so sad one night when my Mother told me that when she had been working she'd have loved to go to college but they reserved that for the men preferring to teach the women in-house. It just goes to show how times have changed and why both my parents were so supportive of our learning. It was a great course and I learned loads including how to be even fussier about the quality of my stationery, though I'm not sure this was needed!

I love making my jewellery gifts as beautiful as possible and presenting them well. Sometimes I find commercial packaging, tags or cards just don't allow me to personalise gifts properly or more often I spend all my time on the jewellery and end up scooting into the nearest supermarket to grab wrappings on my way to the recipient! I have bought some magazines which come with all the kit to make a card or tag, and they've saved my bacon a few nights when I needed a gift to be complete for the morning but they have languished in the cupboard mainly. I am definitely a bit OCD and if I'm giving something to someone else it needs to be perfect which can be hard with handmade paper crafts.

The Range opened in Glasgow a couple of months ago and awakened my paper crafting interest. I hadn't heard of this English store before but they pride themselves on their arts and crafts ranges. I am stinking mad at this as I cannot believe I could have had access to their stock when I was on my trips down south if I'd only know about them....! I also made a trip to a craft store in Hillington around the same time which is HUGE and, although they do a variety of crafts, paper is obviously their main theme. My purse is now significantly lighter AND I now need more boxes to organise all my paper crafty goodies

These have come at a very useful time tho' as I've been needing paper, card and frames. I've been inspired to make a box framed bathroom sign and am loving planning 3d butterfly wall hangings as I've been ordering Martha Stewart punches like a thing possessed too.

I know I am a complete dilettante when it comes to wanting to learn new things. As soon as I've mastered something I move on. This may make me seem flighty but I usually end up applying the skills and techniques from one to the other so I reckon it is a bonus not to be limited to one mindset. I have also had much to deal with this year and sometimes doing something creative is a refuge. For too long I've been purchasing craft supplies and tools and need to start actually applying myself to actually making the things I've been planning.