It was the last evening class of the year for Textile Printing so I had to really shift to get everything done. There were some successes and some minor disasters. My final acetate design did not quite fit onto its screen which was disappointing and I left a piece of polycotton devore in the oven for too long so it simply burned. However, the huge doily printed with navy blue procion dye paste onto calico worked beautifully. I took the smaller screens home to experiment with before the class restarts in January and I have already printed colour discharge paste onto Indian indigo fabric. It was done in a hurry without a decent printing surface in poor light onto creased fabric but it seemed to come out quite well all the same.
Nella and I managed to complete the fine corduroy dress and finished the hem on our new Bernette Funlock 42 coverstitch machine. The frock looks really cute and Christmassy and we feel inspired to have a go with some jersey fabric. I wasted a lot of time trying to find cheap jersey to practise with online. It would be far better to buy it from an actual shop but there is nowhere I can think of anywhere remotely local that would stock any. I have seen some lovely jersey knit on a Norwegian website but I want to feel confident that we can make something wearable before spending too much on nice fabric.
I finally completed the Christmas Tree quilt that I had been working on for a customer. I thought the background quilting was never going to end! It does look good, even though I say so myself;) While I was busy doing that Nella made good progress on her first pair of knitted socks. I am very impressed that she can manage 3 knitting needles. Her physical health is getting better but she is still suffering mental anguish from anorexia. I keep hoping that as her nutrition improves her mental health will follow.
We both went to a willow weaving workshop with expert basket maker, Helen Jackson, to learn how to make deers and trees. The class was relaxed and easy – we came home thrilled with our very rustic Christmas decorations.
Bumble the Scottie Dog stopped eating, became very frail and kept looking for a corner to hide in. We were with her when she died and even though it had been expected for a while we were devasted. I felt as though my shadow had disappeared and kept expecting her to be under my desk or in the workshop. Although I only had her for a couple of years in her old age she was my best furry friend ever and I will miss her dreadfully.
Life is just bumbling along at present which is kind of fine in that it could be far worse. Nella is not in hospital and the feeding regime is slightly easier now that there is a pattern. She hates having to admit that she looks forward to porridge since Anorexics do not allow themselves to gain any pleasure from food. It is a very slow recovery, and I am definitely hopeful that it is a recovery, although she is still desperate to lose an extreme amount of weight and over exercise so the surveillance level is still high. I keep distracting her with projects and we will be attempting to make a corduroy dress even though I find dressmaking challenging. I would rather analyse Hamlet – one of the texts that she is meant to be studying for Higher English.
I honestly don’t know how much longer Bumble will bumble along for. She has done remarkably well for weeks despite her many tumours but lately she is hardly eating which means she is not taking any medicine. She would really just like to sleep under my desk without even having to go out for a pee. My shaggy pal is wobbly on her legs and deaf as a post but in her usual fashion is not making a woof of complaint.
I spent the entire session of my evening class trying to wash out the photo emulsion from my giant doily screen-print. I only had time to rush off one quick print to see if it had all developed crisply but I used a squeegee that was too narrow, very thin fabric, runny ink and flooded the design so I am not sure yet if it is a good print or not. I really did wonder what possessed me to create such a large and complex design. If I cover a chair the design will be chopped off and the screen itself is challenging to handle. I have ordered some plain indigo fabric that I intend to treat with discharge paste and some poly-cotton to try out devoré. Unfortunately there is only one session left this term at the evening class so I won’t be able to continue with my experiments until the New Year. I will bring the smaller screens home and attempt some prints but the huge one will have to stay at the Art School.
I am making slow progress on the background quilting of the Christmas customer quilt. I felt rusty to begin with but I soon became more fluid again. I cannot fit in more than an hour of quilting in a day so it is taking me far longer than usual and getting sidetracked with minor projects such as making flannel make-up removal pads is not helping;) I expect I will go off on a silly tangent to construct a dozen or more pattern weights if Nella wants to become a dressmaking pro;)
I completed all of the stitch in the ditch and clamshells on my customer quilt and decided that the freehand background quilting could be put off until later so I could attempt to draw out my large doily on acetate ready to print at the next evening class.
At 28” diameter and ridiculously small doodling I felt that this could be an impossible task. I worked on it almost constantly and by Sunday evening, finished everything apart from where the two pieces of acetate join. I wish I had bought an A1 piece so there was no join but I hope that if I finish that part in class I may make it as seamless as possible.
I exposed and printed 3 new screens but I am not sure whether to ditch one of them since it is so dense that it is almost impossible to see the pattern. Leaving sufficient negative space is often my downfall!
Nella had a good week – she seems to be thinking of the future more positively and currently wants to study Fashion and Textiles at college. We had a good meeting at her school where it was decided that she should only attempt to sit one of her Highers this year so the pressure is off, allowing her to concentrate on recovery. She allowed herself to drink more than one cup of tea throughout each day this week and she actually requested porridge for breakfast. We had a short visit into town for the first time in ages, visited 4 shops and the whole trip was completed in less than 2 hours. This really seems like a move in the right direction but I know cannot relax at all in the battle to restore her health.
Nella’s motivation for eating this week was the anticipation of an overnight stay with Freya in St Andrews to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I packaged up food with a military precision so I could be super organised in advance. We had a great visit – the show was raucous fun, we did a little frivolous shopping and spent time with a couple of Freya’s friends who came over to explain how to play old-school “Dungeons & Dragons”. Since the weather was unusually mild we even managed to go to the Banchory Bonfire and Fireworks on Saturday night for an hour. It all reminded her that her life could be so different if she can beat Anorexia but she did feel down afterwards, having no next big event to look forward to. We will plan small milestones such as a trip into Aberdeen or a visit to the cinema, things that we have not been able to do for months.
I started a Christmas customer quilt which I can work on for an hour at a time over the next week or so, deciding that for simplicity all of the trees will be quilted the same with small clamshells but the background quilting will be snowy and wild.
I printed a pink screen-print doily onto the black camouflage fabric which looks really vibrant – maybe it could become a cushion or a funky cosmetics bag. The extra large doily is taking ages to draw out – after 4 hours I had not even completed the full outline so the detail will keep me busy for a while. I hope the crochet has not distorted too much from a circle into a sort-of squashed ellipse but then again maybe it will look more authentic if it is a bit wonky.
The week ahead will include a couple of simple craft projects, the Christmas quilting and some school work – I have to brush up on Hamlet quotes!