Well, I wonder if you’ve ever worn a cabled sweater and marvelled at the twisting pattern, and if you might like to see how they’re made? Or, better yet, you’d like to try it yourself!
This movie is a tutorial for both the Cabled Handwarmers and Cabled Mittens projects. It’s also got a very favourite song in it, which we realised is also in a movie we love, Beginners. Fitting, then, as I adore cable-knitting. Learning how to cable-knit is one of those pleasingly simple techniques, like plaiting hair or weaving homespun yarn, which gives a surprisingly satisfying result that looks more complex than the process truly is. It captures the eye like a good melody captures the ear. I hope you enjoy the little movie. Watch them all in the old schoolhouse (to your left) and mail-order your materials from the shop.
With great joy, I present the first homemade picture in The Knitting Series. (Did you catch the one-minute preview?) “Cabled Handwarmers” is divided into a set of nine tutorials to take you through the project, step-by-step. You can watch each part, on the left in the sidebar. We made it just for traditional studies, to help you to work along with the movies to make the knitting projects and the quilting projects.
I want to show you the first of the nine parts, the introduction to the “Cabled Handwarmers” project, gathering up and laying out all the materials you’ll assemble for the project. (It’s just 1.5 minutes.) My sweetheart and I had some fun animating the text to follow me. A little loveletter to Stranger than Fiction. I wish lists like this would follow me around in real life, my head is usually full of them. You might recognise my re-upholstery project? One day I will finish it, complete with gimp-braid. I do hope you enjoy all of the movies.
First I threw a large plate onto a wooden bat, which is stuck to the wheel with clay. The plate is wired off but left on the bat to dry to leather-hard. I cut and played with the edges to scallop them, I love it! Then I centered the plate upside-down on the wheel. I scored a circle, and made a coil of new clay to fit, then threw the pedestal up off the plate with that clay. If you use too much water the plate will turn to mush, so it is a tricky business.
I ought to have let the piece dry upside down as well; it fell somewhat, but is still charming.
The children and I made spelt angel cakes, using my grandmother’s trusty sifter to get it as light as possible. I couldn’t find any icing sugar that was certain to be pure, so we decided to use whipped cream, sweetened with stevia to ice it. I coloured some of the cream pink with a bit of juice from raspberries. This is my first rather squishy experiment with a cake-decorating tool. Rosettes, how nice!
My grandmother’s old cake stand carried one cake, and mine the other. I’m quite pleased with how the stands act like a plinth to a sculpture, adding a bit of ceremony to match such a treat as a birthday cake. Served with homemade raspberry lemonade in my grandmother’s extraordinarily fancy collection of china, it was a proper tea-party!
p>(Update:Now you can special order a cakestand from appleturnover’s lakeside studio – just write me a note!)
No surprise then, that calligraphy took my heart. Practice, practice, when to dip the pen, touch it to the edge of the bottle to release excess ink, how to hold it, the pressure, the angle;
Remembering to clean the nib on a scrap bit of cloth, when life interrupts. I’ve used pen & ink as a drawing tool, but as a writing tool I am enraptured with it.
What elation. No, I will not cook dinner! No! I will not sweep the floor! I only want to write and write and write. The best sorts of materials result in beauty even in drips and splashes, scratches and mistakes. This ink is beautiful but takes an age to dry. I think of blotters, and I wear stains on my fingers. I love the idea of a person’s ‘hand’ and that one can recognise it. Forgeries, postcards, old documents, accounts. I gaze at the old things as on a painting. I deeply appreciate the digital age for its effortlessness, but oh, I adore the beauty of the handmade. Slow? Yes! Messy. Indeed! Can there be a balance?
I’ll devote a spot at my writing desk (first the poor desk must recover its legs, heartlessly broken off on its journey to Canada!) to the nib pen, its leather inlay was designed just for this. So were loveletters – though I fell in love with my sweetheart at the dawn of ubiquitous email, and most of our writing is digital. As my sweetheart is far away in England just now, I think the odd messy, handwritten, ink-splashed letter might be just the thing for us. And you?
Maybe you’ve noticed by now that I become quite beside myself with joy at learning to throw all kinds of things on the pottery wheel. One of my greatest delights last winter was to learn to throw candlesticks.
At first my attempts were a bit wobbly, then a bit stodgy, but after a few tries I found my rhythm. As you can see, I simply centered a base of clay on the wheel, and pulling it up very narrowly. The trick is to keep a finger tucked in the spinning top of the candlestick, once delicate fingers have formed that shape, to steady it as the undulating forms below it are pinched. Otherwise it tips and collapses. These are stoneware candlesticks, fired hot, with a glaze that I’ve been told looks a bit edible, like a glaze of icing. Combined with the intoxicating scent of my children’s hand-dipped beeswax candles, we should be a bit ravenous for honey and cake all through the autumn. Not a bad state to be in, really. What do you think of them? I’d love to make some more ceramic candlesticks, perhaps in the local studio in the cove that we’ve begun working in, where they fire earthenware. My children still want me to make an old fashioned candleholder with a curved handle to carry around. Perhaps they imagine themselves walking around with an open flame, wearing Dickensian nightshirts?
Do you remember some patchwork quilted placemats I was making? I used the projects to experiment with patchwork and stitching various quilted patterns. Four of them were just right to fit round our table.
I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. I quilted a diamond shape, a simple angle, overlapping circles, and squares. The patchwork on these quilted mats is quite vivid, often I prefer to turn them linen-side up. I made my own linen bias tape to finish them, amazing how that brings it all together.