The WordPress daily post today was about how to add forms to your blog, so I thought I’d give it a go. So here is one of the most random and bizarre surveys you might ever be asked.
Annoyingly, I can only do one survey. I tried adding a second, but it just edited the first, so I had to redo it. Some things about the form are annoying, like that you can only write short questions or labels, but not because it won’t let you write long ones, it just doesn’t display right if you do. Also I could not figure out a way to just have some text in there, like to ask the question answered by the check boxes, and I would have preferred that as a thing where you can only pick one of the three as well. It was actually really annoying getting it just right, for such a silly survey, so I hope someone actually does it, please, so my effort wasn’t totally wasted!
Please have fun with it, the sillier the responses the better (but play nice).
So the very last step of the gauntlet challenge is to write about the experience, with pictures, in 1000 words or less. (So I guess this is not a case where a picture is worth a thousand words…)
A quick reminder of the nature of the challenge – to pick something you are bad at and want to improve and do something towards that for 30 days. I am bad at sticking to an artistic challenge as I tried doing one last year just for myself and failed miserably. After a great January making progress on my ongoing Home Beautification Project I planned to do some art journalling in February. I think I managed one day. So this one went better than that! (And I have signed up for a one day workshop on art journalling with my mother so I have not given up on that idea either!)
And I had just treated myself to a needle felting machine as a consolation for having to give up on my PhD. It was due to arrive on the 4th of April. So I hit on the idea of using the gauntlet to motivate me to use it every day and experiment with it.
Every day, for 30 consecutive days.
I was a bit worried about the consecutiveness because of my medical condition which fluctuates so that some days I am in pain and some days I am exhausted, but I figured this was something fun and also on my poorly days I could do something small and easy. I would have cheated and done two things on healthy days to pretend I’d done on the bad days, but rule 3 said no cheating on the honour system. I can’t cheat the honour system
So I didn’t cheat.
But only a little bit, only on one day.
On the 13th we had a family event for my sister’s birthday, when I gave her the gift I made during the challenge. It was a long day and I did not have time to felt before going out. When I got home I was not only knackered but in a lot of pain and my back made me have to just lie down and not move except to get ready for bed. At least my sister liked her present
I did dream about machine felting if that counts
So then I had two choices. One, I could give up. I failed, so why bother carrying on? But that would negate all the useful things I would get from continuing, after all, this was not just about winning, it was about the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing something you set out to do – this is the Year of Finishing Things! And it was about forcing myself to use the machine every day so my husband didn’t call it a white elephant. And it was about becoming more creative. And I am stubborn.
So I chose the other option, to carry on regardless. To do 30 days as if the 13th didn’t exist, like the 13th floor of some hotels. So I pressed on from the 4th to the 4th and I succeeded I finished the challenge.
I shall try to create a gallery of some of the pictures I have taken of the stuff I have felted in the 30 days:
I hope it works! Well, I can see pictures on my preview even though nothing shows up here in the edit screen so I have to assume it worked. I have no idea how to edit it though, so it will just have to do as it is. If you want to see bigger pictures or find out when I made what then I can only suggest going back through my posts, I have tried to make that easy by having a calendar widget over to the right.
Without a doubt the best thing I made was the Game of Thrones Stark direwolf for my sister. I am still quite chuffed with this so I shall post a bigger pic of it again here:
This took me three days to make, I do have photos for each of the days but I have not yet got around to posting them.
What I learned from finishing this challenge:
1) I am really not creative when I am tired.
2) I could make some awesome stuff with this thing if I keep it up.
3) I will probably make some really crappy rubbish along the way, but I must not let that put me off.
4) It is harder than it looks to be really creative.
5) The ideas in my head might be wonderful, but turning them into reality is tricky.
6) It really does help to sketch out ideas before making them.
7) If I did another 30 day challenge I would need to pick something easier
8) Some really obvious stuff just involving practising using the machine, like how the foot pedal does not relate to the hand speed like on a sewing machine and how to change needles and what kinds of stuff felt together nicely or get horribly shredded.
9) Probably loads more but my brain is turning slowly to mush as I am getting tired again.
Well, that is 870 words, so I’d better stop waffling or I’ll fail that part too…
PS As soon as the challenge was over I stopped felting, I needed a break! But today I did some more. I am trying to make a butterly brooch for my 99 year old Nana for her birthday. It is a bit rubbish so far, I hope to pretty it up somehow. As it is, she will say it was made by her granddaughter and people will assume it was at kindergarten… at least that would make her feel young!
If you’re lucky my next post just might be about something other than felt…
Well, I haven’t been posting the results, but I have stuck to the challenge and the 30 days is now complete
I have had a difficult week, so I am just glad I managed to finish – I didn’t want to fail a task on my Year of Finishing Things! One of the days all I managed to do was sit there at the machine and twiddle about with bits of leftovers and not produce anything worth a photo, but I did sit there, turn it on and use it. Here are pictures of the days I did manage to produce anything even remotely worth recording, which may give an indication of how bad that day was…
Day 25, Monday, was really stressful, then I had a lovely evening out at dinner with friends, but between those two things all I managed to do was outline a flower in the same way I made the leaves a few days back.
Day 26, Tuesday, we went out into nature for the afternoon to refresh ourselves, which was lovely and ought to have been inspirational, but I was just so dog tired I could not yet access the creative spark that had been kindled by the gorgeous location, but here is a pic of where we went. (I did manage something simple and basic though, even though I had forgotten what it was.)
Day 27, the Wednesday, we went out to a writing group and they loved a poem I had written to release some pressure in my brain and stop it exploding with the stress on Monday. I may share it here some time, but not today. I was happy they liked it. The poem was better than the felting, but it was useful to practice some plait effects. I have been thinking about Celtic knotwork.
In fact, now I think about it, I am pretty sure the bit to the left was what I did on day 26 and the bit to right was day 27. That’s the state my brain is in, slightly fried! I seem to recall the first bit was done strand by strand and plaited the tails left at the end rather than beginning with a plait and widening it. Then the second bit I plaited and then needled. The first effect looks neater but the second was faster and easier.
On day 28, the Thursday, I must have been feeling a bit better as I managed something a bit more interesting. Another aspect of Celtic knotwork I wanted to experiment with was carved stones which I though could be imitated quite effectively with the ripple effect I had played with last week. I tried it on quite a small scale with some grey roving, but I think it would be better with some of the other fleece I have, as having all the strands laying in the same direction gave it too much grain and some of the lines got a bit lost.
By Friday I was desperate for a duvet day and the rest was beneficial as I managed to play with a bit of the interesting yarn my mother uses to knit frilly scarves she sells for charity. I was quite pleased with this as it looks a bit like a stream:
OK so it’s not very much like a stream there, but it looks better in reality… I hadn’t realised how bad that photo was! Also it’s upside down, which can’t help.
Yesterday was the final day and I was so glad to have finished. I was not sure I would manage it. Determined and stubborn, but not confident. And day 30 was no triumph I’m sad to report. Being a Saturday we had decided to go out, I was still tired but the weather was nice and it was just a late lunch and a flask of coffee with a lovely view:
Certainly an enjoyable outing. But I get so tired that when we got back I fell asleep while the husband was cooking dinner. And one of the things I have learned by trying this challenge is that I am really just not creative when I am tired.
So that was the day I just did some twiddling about trying things that didn’t work. Still learning, but not the kind you can take pictures of. At least I finished it though! Now I just have to send in my email, but I won’t win unless everyone else did even worse, because of that day I was forced to skip due to back pain. But actually I feel that makes me feel slightly prouder of my achievement as I did it without the motivation of possibly winning. And I can tell you that I came that close to giving up more than once because I was whining to myself, why bother, you can’t even win, there is no point in doing this to yourself. But no, I told myself, you made a commitment to do this challenge, blooming well finish it! And so I did!
And now I do actually feel better about myself. Even though some of the stuff I produced was the felting equivalent of writing ‘I am a fish’ twenty times and calling it writing practice. Because I stuck to it. And I finished something.
I missed posting yesterday, but I didn’t skip the challenge. We visited my parents and I was tired when we got back. I forced myself to do a bit of felting, but that was all, since the challenge never required the blog post to report it.
It was just a trial of a spiral with some interesting yarn. I think it looks a bit like a comet, though I was thinking of a flower or bud sort of thing to go with the leaves.
Today’s experiments have been a bit more interesting. Inspired by something the pastor said in church I was thinking about the ripples on a pond and how I could make felt to look like that using the single needle.
The centre is a blob of fleece, surrounded by a strip of fleece, then thick grey yarn. First I anchored the edge of the blue, then the edges of the pale green. Then I did a line in the middle of the green and a circle inside the blue. Finally I added the grey by its edges. This is the back:
I think this is pretty cool. I tried again with just a layer of a single colour of fleece, but my photos of that have not come out well enough to bother posting. I also did this one:
I like this technique. It works best if I make sure the wool is nice and puffy, not pulled too flat. Also too much needling can pull too mush of the fibre to the back, which is why the middle of it looks a bit thin.
I managed this a bit earlier today, not leaving it until the evening Maybe because I had a nice lunch, which I tend to skip these days. The husband has been working hard all week so he took the afternoon off and we went for a little jolly in the sunshine. It is so nice to see spring at last, buds and blooms everywhere. I had a lovely late lunch of smoked salmon and cream cheese panini, delicious, and he had Earl Grey tea and hot buttered crumpets – he is so English. Then we popped into the charity second hand bookshop and I may have come home with a few little books…
When we got back I felt like felting! I made some little leaves by drawing the vein and outline in yarn, leaving a stalk and cutting them out. It is a nice quick and easy way to make leaves and stops the fabric fraying. Some fabric worked better than others though.
The lace (far right) did not really work well. It did not stick down: it was stretchy lace so maybe non-stretchy lace might work better. I like the idea though as it is a bit like a skeleton leaf. The one next to it is also like a skeleton leaf as the fabric is so thin and filmy, also because it won’t take much needling and gets a funny crinkly texture. It was hard to use but I like the effect so I will make a few more from it I think. Actually, it might be good to skip the vein and make them round like Honesty.
The two on the left were made first. I still cannot get on with the foot of this machine. Even after three weeks of using it every day I still cannot make it work slow and smooth, it will hare off at the pace it wants to work, which is fast, faster or so insanely fast my whole table rocks. It’s like a car that won’t go below 30. If you go below 30 it stops dead, then you move off and it is right back up to 30, or faster. Argh! It might suit some folks but I like a bit more control. I was yelling at the machine, which of course did nothing to either slow it down or make me feel better.
So I tried the foot from my sewing machine, which is the same brand. I did email them before risking that and they said it should be safe but might be loud. It was not loud. It was safe. My sewing machine foot has two speeds, high and low. I tried on low but nothing happened and I was a bit gutted, but not about to give up easily I switched it to its high speed. That worked! And bizarrely it was slower and more controllable than the felting foot. So I made the other 3 leaves.
There are many things I could use them for. I could decorate a bag or a hat or a t-shirt. I could make a garland. I could felt them together and make something. I like the strange colours, but I might also make some in spring greens or autumnal shades. It is a great way to use up scraps. I have a feeling I might be making more of these.
We were not the only ones to enjoy the sunshine.
Because what is the internet without cute pictures of cats?
I thought I’d try some runic yarn writing today. It was good practice, I think the way to stop the fabric puckering is to hold it tight and let the yarn run loose, but that is tricky. It is also tricky to start a bit of yarn, it helped to anchor it with a bit of hand needling. It was very hard to keep it all even, it might be better to draw an outline.
The most embarrassing thing is that I made a mistake. The thing is, there are several variants and I did not want to mix them up. I decided to go for the Elder Futhark – the difference first shows up in the fourth rune, although the short twig might have a less fancy ‘f’ rune. But by the time I had written ‘futhark’ I was getting tired and I automatically made the two dots to divide it from the next group of runes. Except there are 8 runes in the first group in the Elder and Anglo-Saxon variants, not 6 as in the Younger ones. So I had to try and put a ‘g’ over the dots as I couldn’t get them out. But the shape of ‘g’ rune I had to use to squeeze it in is a form I only know from Anglo-Saxon runes, which have an ‘o’ instead of the ‘a’ and is called ‘futhorc’ as it also has a different shape for the 6th rune…
So it is not at all a good bit of runology. Nor is it a great bit of needlefelting as it is not as even as it should be, the runes get slightly smaller towards the end and it is slightly wonky.
But it is only a trial sample, it does not matter.
I would quite fancy a bag with all the different futharks on, that would be cool. And a futhark belt. Or maybe a belt with ‘this is a belt’ on it but I’d better improve before I try that…
I can’t quite believe it is two thirds through! Apart from that one hiccup I have managed every day and blogged as well, which was not part of the initial challenge, but is a useful side effect. Of course some days I have done better than others, but I have sat down and done something on the machine every day. I think I am getting a bit better at the foot control, though I would still prefer a slower pedal. Today I did more of the same sort of thing as yesterday.
I like the two strand part as a kind of edging border to clothes perhaps. But it does pucker the fabric, so either I would want that to be a feature, use it to gather a loose edge, or work on making it not pucker. The back is quite nice too, and if I work it from the back it makes the front more fluffy – as it is it looks almost as if I just laid the yarn down, or glued it on, or even couched it finely, except at some of the corners. That would also fill out the gaps which show more in a photo with flash.
I still feel a bit frustrated with myself for not managing something big and spectacular yet. I do need to be patient with the learning process, but I would love to be able to produce something really good for the last third of the challenge. Or at least by the end of the challenge. Apart from the gift of course, that was not bad. Maybe I need a specific goal?