Monday, 23 December 2013

Grimshaw Street Studio

It's all too exciting.....not sure where to start, but here goes...

As part of the collaboration between Greensborough Chamber of Commerce and Renew Australia, the Greensborough shopping centre has become a project under the Renew Australia auspices.

Basically, what Renew Australia does is take "otherwise empty shops, offices, commercial and public buildings and make them available to incubate short term use by artists, creative projects and community initiatives." They are now working with the Greensborough Chamber of Commerce to use the vacant shops in the Greensborough town centre....and I've got one!

This is it, at 77 Grimshaw St.:

 Basically, on a month by month basis, for no rent, this is going to be my studio/gallery/workshop, where I will be for 5 days a week. (Currently, I don't have the hours, I do....but it seems a commitment if I tell people!?....) I aim to work on developing new products, new sculptures and engaging the community. I have to pay all the outgoings and figure out how to fit out the shop at low cost......but I am SOOOO excited!

Here is my first little installation with a little bit of information just to show that someone is coming. This is an unfinished sculpture called 'White house'. Once Christmas is over and family and friends have been welcomed and fed and the season celebrated, I will be cleaning, painting, getting electricity on and all the other things I keep thinking of....I have to rewrite my list because it's outgrown the small page!...for the opening on Tuesday the 7th January.

Whilst the shop is a little 'interesting' at the moment, it has great potential. In its previous life, it was a tattoo parlour, I'm not short of power points or lights! Under the blue, unlaid lino is a concrete floor, which should come up a treat. The walls will be filled and painted. Tables, chairs, artwork will adorn it and hopefully make it feel welcoming and interesting.

It has a lovely view, with some potential for a little yarn bombing and given that there is Greensborough Shopping Centre right behing the church over the road, quite a pleasant aspect.

So, I hope people come and visit me while I'm there.

Oh, and by the way, I know that there is at least one more space available, and they're hoping that the currently filled spaces will encourage other owners to join in, so if you're interested just go to the Renew Australia website and register your interest.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Celebrate with a mystery box!

Jan and Marie from the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria have come up with a lovely way to celebrate the coming 60th Anniversary of the guild. They distributed mystery boxes, filled with mysterious stuff which we will make into something mysterious for an exhibition in April and May next year.

Here are my boxes:

Yes, I know, there are two.... I didn't realise that I would get a choice, so while I was trying to make up my mind, the keepers of the boxes (Joy and Doris) decided I could have one of each! How could I refuse? I can't pick spinning over weaving, or weaving over spinning...just not right!

Here is what is inside:

 I think you can see the strange threads, bright blue beads, feathers, a playing card!, bits of wire, all sorts of yarns and fibre, oh, and shells....

These are actually the most interesting and the colours match yarns and fibres, and me, and will form the basis of whatever it is I'm going to make. It will be a sculpture, and, as far as I can, I will use all the materials and it will be done by the 29th March, 2014.....just not sure about those blue beads yet!

Stay tuned for progress reports!

Oh, and sorry for not blogging for awhile, bit crazy round here, going to get crazier....

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Who is Cornelia Mee?

Dear Cornelia,

I know it is a bit weird writing to you, after all your book was published in MDCCCXLVI (1846 by my reckoning) but I just had to let you know how much I'm enjoying 'Exercises in Knitting'. I downloaded it onto my kindle from Project Gutenburg and when I'm feeling like a bit on inspiration, I just take a little look.

I am intrigued by who you're not on Wikipedia!, but you are on Ravelry. Despite some intriguing references, I can't find out any more. There are other books, it says so on the front plate. Titles like 'A Manual of Knitting' and 'Crochet Explained' are just a couple of the intriguing titles. Have they been completely lost? Who knows?

Actually, found a wonderful resource from the University of Southhampton The Richard Rutt Collection at Winchester School of Art. Lots more to look at.

I digress. What caught my eye this time is your description of Twisted knitting:

Cast on 12 stitches, knit and seam (purl) alternate rows for 8 rows; the 3 first and last stitches of each row are always knit.
Ninth row - Knit 3 stitches, take a third pin (needle) and knit 3 more, knit the remainder of the stitches with the first pin.
Tenth row - Knit 3 stitches, seam the 3 stitches on the third pin, seam the other 23, knit the 3 edge stitches. This completes 1 twist, and is repeated after every 8 rows.

Now it seems to be cable but with a little twist. Will it make any difference? Just had to know, so I made a little sample.

A regular cable is on the left and your 'twisted' knit is on the right. It does lie flatter and does suggest further variations.

Thankyou so much for the inspiration.

Cheers, Teresa

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

An ode to Petlyn wool combs

Dear Julie and Joe,

Just thought I'd drop you a line to let you know how much fun I'm having with your English wool combs that I bought from you at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo this year. I also purchased some of Coral Stewarts' dyed fleece. More of a sentimental purchase, as I don't need any more fleece, but I do love her work and have a jacket and a jumper made from her dyed yarn, which I love.

Now I know that this was not the perfect start, whilst the fleece is dyed it was still very greasy, but I thought that knowing this was not the best start would allow me to experiment to find the best way to process it. Fleece is always tricky as you tend to get a muddying effect as there are no distinct blocks of colour. Well, this fleece, anyway.

I found the best way was to load a rough colour block at a time, then take it off with the free comb, load more, take off more, and keep going till I had this:

You can sort of see the layers that were created and when I 'dizzed' it off I got

It spun up beautifully, as you would expect using wool combs, I navaho plied the resulting single to try and keep some colours. It did turn out muddy in places and I did really lose the blue, but I love the yarn so much I didn't take a photo before I knit it up into a shrug to sell in my Etsy shop.

I really love the combs and have started work on my next project, and, as convener of Experimental Spinners at the guild, we're going to have a session playing with wool combs. A couple of us have wool combs and so does the guild. We're going to try colour blending and see what happens.

Thanks again for your marvellous products and your generosity in sharing your knowledge.

Cheers, Teresa

PS Hints on blending colours on wool combs would be appreciated!

Monday, 2 September 2013

Letter to the unknown customer

To whom it may concern,

Just thought I'd drop you a line to let you know that I've finally listed all my current fingerless mittens on Etsy. I know this is a little old fashioned writing a letter, but it feels better to be actually writing to someone, albeit unknown, than just speaking into the ether and wondering who is listening.

So let me tell you about my mittens. There are three different types that I've listed:

These are the last of the handspun yarn crocheted into a simple shape. I need to make more of these, but there's alot of spinning to do. I do have some gorgeous coloured tops in my stash waiting for me.

Then there's my new range:

I've made them with the boys in mind, but they do look good on women too! Currently, they come in black, grey or natural colours. I like addiing something different on the band and down the back of the hand.

Then there's my standby fingerless mittens, the ones with the buttons. They started this whole fingerless mitten making run.

There's the black and cream ones I always have, though I do need a couple of grey gloves, I am from Melbourne!

Then there are the couple of colours I currently have.

And, finally,

the chunky ones! Two are handspun and the other is from a stash dive with amazing buttons.

I have made an aweful lot of these fingerless mittens with buttons, over 150 if my records are to be believed, and the spreadsheet never lies, though I can hardly believe it! What makes it even more unbelievable is that each one is different. Sometimes it's just the yarn and I knit the square in stocking stitch with the thumb and the borders in moss stitch. That's my standard pattern, but alot are diving into the stitch books and playing with different stitches.

Anyway, I hope you like them and if you want to become a known customer head over to the fingerless mitten section of my Etsy shop.

Hope to hear from you,

Cheers, Teresa


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Samoyed and new toys!

Eventually you have to get on with things. I've finally managed to catch up with the lovely Samoyed owner W and discussed progress on the spinning and weaving of a blanket from her lovely Samoyed fur. Many things had to align for us to finally have an excited and exciting discussion. We're both passionate about this project, I for the challenge it will be and for W, the promise of a wonderful reminder of a friend.

Here is the bags of fur that I now have to spin!

It also means that I do feel the pressure and was highly delighted when I showed her the small spun samples and the little bit of weaving that I had done. The weaving was done on a weave-it loom, which is only a square with nails and gives a fairly rough approximation of the final product. Fortunately, her immediate response was positive!

In testing out the spinning I used my small wool combs and loved the result so much that I determined to buy the much bigger English combs when I went to the Australian Sheep and Wool show in Bendigo in July. I've been playing with these monsters ever since, and just love the speed of preparation and the resulting ease of spinning. It is these that I will use to prepare the Samoyed for spinning.

Now I'm off to spin up some the wonderful wool top from Andyle to make into lovely natural coloured neckwarmers. I've just realised that without really thinking, I've been doing the right thing. In the middle of winter, when I can't really get any dyeing done as there's nowhere to dry and the boys don't really appreciate having their bathroom taken over by slow drying skeins, I spin natural wool tops that I get at the sheep show. It makes so much sense. Now, I have to make a special big effort over the summer to do alot of dyeing!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Last day of my Winter Residency

And the sun comes out! It's all finished, we've cleaned up and prettied ourselves up and ready to share our work during the Open Studio happening this weekend.

It's been an interesting month and I feel quite pleased that I nearly managed to do all the work I set out to do. I didn't quite do enough drawing, but I did complete two BIG works, now called Cavern and Tower. Crocheting video tape is not easy and I was worried about my hands getting tired or sore, but all is well.

The only two things I would make sure that I do if/when I do another residency is:

1. as much as possible, check out the surrounding area. I wanted to interact with my little bit of Abbotsford, but really needed to do a few good walks to see if I could find good places to sketch, any businesses where I might find materials and anything else of interest.

2. take the weather into account. I know it's Winter, but didn't really plan for the reality that I wasn't going to sit in the sunshine and sketch.

Minor issues really, so it's been FUN!

Hope to see you at the Open Studio.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

On the nature of inspiration

Artists are often asked about their source of inspiration, often, the response is to make a detailed, wordy and esoteric artists' statement or else something along the lines of  'the world around me' (a response I tend to favour!) Neither go to the heart of what can explain the source of an artists' inspiration.

I often think it's a collecting thing. We collect ideas, words, pictures, swatches, anything and everything. There's nothing so dangerous as an artist with scissors! But it's also drawing, writing, generally recording something that you like. As we collect they link. They link our personality, our current interest, the idea that's been sitting at the back of our mind.

We go look at other artists': friends we admire, great artists that appear at our galleries...don't forget Monet at the NGV....but it's not to copy them, it's to take on more information. Colour, technique, subject and what we dislike, all come together.....eventually.

As I'm coming to the end of my month of being an artist in residence at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery I've been thinking about the artists that might be called influences, except I don't quite think of them as influences, more as supports. Often the renowned artists give us permission to do the outrageous, because they are more so. They allow us to use materials or work in a way that is odd, because they do. So, to that I give you:

Fiona Hall, she's currently showing at the Heidi Museum of Art and is well worth seeing. She often works with textiles in a very political way. I've known about her and seen pictures of her work, but this is the first time I've seen it in the flesh! It is quite overwhelming and I must admit to not feeling very comfortable with the exhibition. This may be what she wants as there are some very strong messages. It's good to be challenged.

You can see why I like her work!

Another artist who always crops up is Andy Goldsworthy, Melbourne currently has two on Herring Island, where, during the summer you can catch a ferry onto this man made island in the middle of the Yarra in the heart of the city. There's also a gallery there!

His work is often ephemeral, allowing the work to disintegrate or change due to the forces of nature.

I've obviously picked out works that directly relate to my own current interest in the building of nests. I don't want to copy, just that other artists think nests are important too!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Taking Shape

The second week was an example of concentrated effort, no thanks to the weather. It's been rainy and cold and I haven't managed to do much/any drawing of my local neighbourhood. I'm glad I set myself a target of having the first work in its final form by the end of the second week. There are still bits to add on, but I feel I've achieved something. It is also the halfway mark and the emphasis will change as we head towards the open studio weekend.

There is alot to be resolved in something this big. It still seems to need more and also how to get it to hang right. It does sort of look like a big black blob! Would you want to live there?!

I'm being sustained (food and coffee) by the guys at the Bomb Cafe in Johnston street. It's nice to get out have a bit of a walk and grab a warming lunch.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Emerging shapes

Working on a large scale and the attending problems was one of the aims of my artists' residency at the Yarra Sculpture gallery. As my shape gets bigger, I have had to rig it up just to make it easier to handle. It also gives an idea of how it is going.

This week has been a bit tiring as it has been all about getting to the end of the first shape. At its largest part, it took half an hour to do one row. Today, I should be going in and getting close to finishing the basic shape. The major issue that seems to be emerging is how to get it to keep the shape and how much is needed to be added on, but that's for the ongoing weeks.

I've started my second shape and am glad I had a bit of a go. Hopefully some good photos today!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The neighbourhood

I thought I'd like to tell you about the neighbourhood, starting with my artist neighbour, Taka, who shares the Yarra Sculpture Gallery with me. He is Takahiko Sugawara and is working with very simple materials and building the most etherial work.

The skyline is also dominated by the Public Housing highrise over the road. It does make some interesting contrasts with the older housing surrounding it.

Monday, 10 June 2013

First week roundup

Well it's been an interesting first week of my artists' residency at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery, and I think I've learnt a few things:

Firstly, I like this! Going into your studio and working each day is a real luxury. Perhaps a little unsustainable in the very long term, already jobs are being put off till 'after June!'

Secondly, you get faster and faster at crocheting! Videotape is not the most forgiving medium to crochet with, it's sticky and awkward. I am glad I chose a larger crochet hook than I've worked with before.

Thirdly, you get time to think about other projects, problems are thought through and hopefully solved.

Fourthly, I do miss being at home when the boys get home. Not that much is said, or great problems solved, or they need me to, I just miss it.

And lastly, there is alot of bits and pieces in a videotape, many of which don't seem to be able to be used for anything else! I am playing with some of the bits and pieces, but even so glad they aren't used anymore.

So, on to week 2!

Friday, 7 June 2013


Abode was the theme for my work last year and relates to the structure we live in, not really referencing the idea of home, which is not necessarily a physical place. As I look back over the last twenty years and the journey that started with the Cerificate of Art in Studio Textiles at the Melbourne College of Textiles it's interesting that the theme crops up in a variety of work. (By the way neither the course or college existed when I finished the course and now the course also doesn't exist in any form..all a bit sad, really)

I've been pondering this, and have come to no conclusions. I've never been particularly attached to a house, even my parents' home which I grew up in and where my parents still are. 'Home is where the heart is' really rings true for me. My parents, husband, children, sisters, wherever they are, are the places in my heart. So this preoccupation with the physical reality of the home is interesting.

I'm now aware of it, so it comes into my drawing:

And what I'm working on:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Catching up!

I've spent this week trying to catch up with all the 'other' work that I had, so I can be the artist for the month. One of the last jobs is a set of hats for a friend. She bought one, black with buttons that she's ordered four more, in the colours of her choice.

As you can see they're a fairly simple hat, it's the embellishments that make it a little different. I've had fun playing around, so much so, I might just make some for the stall.

Oh, and if you say there's only three, she already has one, it is Winter!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The first day of work

I am intending to treat my month of Residency at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery as a full-time 'job', the first I've had in over 20 years! The family have been told, though already failing as no-one is taking ownership of the growing mountain of dishes! To that end, yesterday was my first big day! It did involve getting there late and a lunch with my husband, but nobodies perfect.

I did do some sampling. I have to try and work bigger than usual so brought in some big crochet hooks to work with and tried using the tape doubled.

I finally settled on which crochet hook felt and looked best. Unfortunately, not the biggest one, but big enough. I've already started on a rough circle for the bottom of my first 'nest'. It needs to be about the size I need to sit cross-legged on and is about the size of a seat....getting there.

I did my first drawing, it is tiny, but it is a nest! And I settled in a bit more.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Yarra Sculpture Gallery - Winter Residency

I was going to get all serious and talk about opportunity and risk, but....I'm just so excited....I am going to be a full-time artist for the month of June!

To explain...the Contemporary Sculptors Association runs residencies over the Summer months and Winter months at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery, in Collingwood. They've offered them again this Winter, the first being for June, and I'm one of the artists! You can see the previous residencies and see how much work they've done. Basically, you get 24 hour access to your studio/gallery space for the month. There is an open studio weekend and that's about it really. As I said, I get to be an artist for the month.

Here's my space:

 The aim of my project is to develop my High Rise works to life size. That's why I want the big space. I have no idea how much work I'm going to be able to get done in the time, but looking at the previous artists work, it seems quite alot.

I hope to get some drawing done, further explorations of ideas and materials and I hope to blog, more consistantly, about the whole experience.

And, here is my studio, ready to go!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Plastic spinning

As I look forward to Experimental Spinning on Saturday, I realise I haven't even said anything about last month, and, we had such alot of FUN!

It was a plastic month. I've spun with plastic before and got some great results.

This time I had an ulterior motive as I wanted to have a go at combining some stashed acrylic yarn. Yes, I'm the person who everyone gives it to, and, I just can't say no.....

Even to pink!....

What I wanted to do was spin plastic around the acrylic and see if the colour would show through but be a bit more subdued. The result is not too bad...

Now, I hear you all ask, what are you going to do with it? Well may you ask...but I want to make some more nests....

Anyway, there were some amazing yarns created, combining yarns and plastic. We did discuss what you might do with these yarns and thought that things like little bags, you know, for phones and other young stuff! might be fun. I am looking forward to seeing what the others come up with.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Little treasures on sale!

Yesterday the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria had one of the twice yearly Textile Bazaars they hold at their guild rooms. I generally try and get to these as they are that wonderful jumble of all sorts of textiley things that just makes you feel that if you hunt hard enough you might just find a treasure!

It was easier getting there this year as it was held on the same day as Experimental Spinnning. I was still later than I wanted to be and sadly followed a big bus load of ladies down from the country on a road trip, and, the early crowds. Oh well.

I did manage to pick up a few little gadgets that I will add to my weaving equipment. A rug beater, another simple shuttle, some plastic bobbins that I will work out if my bobbin winder can handle and crochet hooks.

More crochet hooks! They look good!

AND, there was a treasure...

Eventually worked out what it was, a cone winder, or holder, not sure which, but potentially useful nevertheless. It has 'Passap' on it and I assume it is meant to be used in conjunction with a knitting machine. I will be useful somewhere....Luv it!

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Queen of Canine Spinnables!

Sometimes a project comes along that you just have to do. It's a challenge and interesting and, more importantly, it's of special importance to someone. Just such a project has come my way thanks to the meeting place that is my local cafe 'Bien' at the Greville Rd shops.

One of my 'neighbours' has asked me to spin Samoyed hair from her previous dog. She has collected the 'blow' each year from her Samoyed and kept it. She has also lent me the book 'Knitting with dog hair' from which the 'Queen of canine spinnables' come from. This was obviously a special friend and  a labour of love.

Some has already been some spun in Tasmania and a lovely job. She has a little knitted sample and the halo is just amazing. It's like Angora rabbit and you could argue just as soft.

So, with all this in mind, I need to spin to match the current sample, but I want to create something that will reflect my own interests and fulfil the need to have something that reflects the relationship. At the moment we're contemplating a woven rug and I want to keep it as simple as possible and add interest by spinning two different yarns: a plyed yarn to match the sample and a single to add contrast.

These are my first samples and I'm very happy with them.

Now I have to spin bigger samples, 10g plied and 10g single. This will give me an idea of how long it will take and, more importantly, how much length I'll have to play with!