Archive for May, 2013

A Random Survey

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.

FORM REMOVED

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).

EDIT: I have had to remove this survey as it kept generating spam. This is intensely annoying, especially as some of it has been very unpleasant. I have taken to simply deleting the notifications of answers to this survey from my email without even looking at them, but today I had about ten and decided it was time to delete it. I only made it in the first place at the urging of WP on their blog, and it has been more a source of trouble than amusement. I would certainly not want to make another. Dear WP, why can’t we have Akismet to remove the spam from forms as well as from posts? It does a very good job.

May 10, 2013 at 7:12 PM 6 comments

The Gauntlet Entry

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.

I failed.

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:

Needle-felted Stark direwolf banner.

Needle-felted Stark direwolf banner.

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… 😉

May 9, 2013 at 10:33 PM 2 comments

Challenge Complete!

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.

Flower outlined in acrylic yarn.

Flower outlined in acrylic yarn.

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.)

Peaceful :)

Peaceful 🙂

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.

Plaiting.

Plaiting.

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.

Not a good photo, but it shows the effect I was trying for best without flash.

Not a good photo, but it shows the effect I was trying for best without flash.

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:

A stream?

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:

The view from the bench where we had our flask of coffee.

The view from the bench where we had our flask of coffee.

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.

May 5, 2013 at 10:39 PM 2 comments


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