Thursday, July 17, 2008

we make the paper

Yesterday I taught my second art lesson at the park and rec sponsored summer camp. Since our goal is to have a handmade book by the end of our six weeks together, and we've already covered paste paper, I decided we should move on to papermaking.

I made everything from the moulds and deckles to the pulp itself for this workshop. I didn't, however, have to do everything alone. My cousin Sarah came over to assist me with preparation and with the workshop itself. We spent the entire morning running blender load after blender load of pulp. By the time we were finished, we had beaten a pound and a half of dry fiber, and we had one tired blender.

After last week's chaotic whirlwind of a lesson, I expected this week to be similar and prepared myself for an onslaught of chatty kids and flying pulp. What I got instead was a group of kids quietly focused on the task of making paper. We spent the entire session quietly (relative to last week) pulling sheets and talking about the history of and approaches to making paper.

We pulled sheets of plain pulp, and then the girls wanted to get a little artistic, so we began adding hydrangea flowers into the pulp. They loved the effect so much that they began plucking flowers from the vat and pressing them into the surface of their newly formed sheets. Let me tell you, tween girls are very particular about positioning flowers on handmade paper. Some of them labored over their creations until the sheet was almost too dry to successfully couch. Fortunately, however, after the first two sheets, we had no problems with couching at all.

Even cleanup was painless. Some of my students, as they bent over the pulp container making pulp balls, told me they were having fun. I couldn't have asked for a more enthusiastic group.

This week I also taught a paste paper workshop for autistic summer campers. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of their beautiful work, but they had so much fun that next week I'll be returning to teach them some single sheet book structures. We'll be transforming their paste papers into some sweet little codex-style booklets, and if I'm brave enough, we might even attempt a flexagon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

beer & wool

I opted out of waiting tables tonight in favor of an entire day off, something I haven't had in a while. To celebrate my day off, I decided it was about time to visit the lovely Connecticut Yarn and Wool Company and partake in some fill-a-bag fun. Ahem, I mean, get that hank of yarn my little sister requested.

As always, the porch was furnished with several large storage tubs filled with yarns. I managed to pick up ten hanks of Andy's Merino (which are destined to become felted Christmas stockings for the family), five hanks of three-ply merino (three of which I will use to knit a tomten jacket), and two and a half hanks of cotton blossom, which I'll be using to make a set of face cloths for my new bathroom.

I could have happily returned home with just my yarn, but after having a pleasant lunch with my little brother at the Paperback, we decided to check out the new liquor store down the street. It was a classy shop, with more microbrews than I've seen in a long time. Almost immediately, I spotted a half-gallon jug of Opa Opa Brewery rasberry wheat beer, and I had to get it. Not only is the jug an amazing container, but the brewery is pretty local (Southampton, MA). I had a glass while making dinner tonight, and I really like it. It's got a crisp flavor, and the raspberry adds just a bit of sweetness. Once I've finished drinking all the delicious brew, I'll save the jug to store homemade laundry detergent.

The best thing about today's outing is that I got to spoil myself and count it as work completed towards my 101 in 1001. I am so on top of it (or at least capable of deluding myself into thinking I am).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

neverending socks

Approximately one year ago, I purchased a skein of SWTC's tofutsies from a yarn shop in New Haven. It languished in my yarn stash until this past Febraury, when I acquired Favorite Socks, and decided it was time for me to get in some quality sock knitting. I started at a swift pace; one day after casting on for the first sock, I was nearly ready to begin the heel. However, I did not continue at this speed for very long. In fact, I slacked off so much that I didn't even finish sock number one until the end of May. And now, as the middle of July approaches, I am finally almost finished.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to complete this project; they've been fun to knit, the lace pattern is easy to memorize, and I love my harmony wood dpns. It might have something to do with how splitty this yarn is. I've had to practice extra vigilance while knitting in order to avoid the dreaded errant loops (and there are still a couple here and there), and I think I might be over knitting one sock and then the other. This last realization pains me. At the beginning of this year, I shelled out for a whole set of harmony dpns, and it would be such a shame to let them languish in their plastic sleeve. However, in the interest of actually finishing my sock projects, they might enter into an early semi-retirement. That is, as soon as I finish the baudelaires I've recntly started (I just couldn't wait a few more days to cast on!)

Despite my slow sock knitting pace, I have been getting other things done. Today was my first day of teaching book arts to summer camp kids. We made paste paper, and they loved it, depsite the fact that we ran out of paste in a record 45 minutes. I made six times the original recipe, and was convinced I'd be taking home extra, but oh, no. The kids were paste-happy. It probably didn't help that one of them was eating it because, as he told me, "It tastes really good!" Sure, cooked wheat starch is my idea of a tasty snack, too.

And for all you ravelers, my last book, Lace Stories, is featured in the latest edition of This Week in Ravelry. (Hello new ravelry visitors!)
In a bit, I'll post a copy of the story for the uninitiated to read.