Art lessons

kievjuly21As a (freelance) teacher of Art and English, I’m always trying to think up new projects and ideas for lessons. Most of the time I try to take the lessons outside to parks, museums and galleries, where we can draw from observation and learn about art first-hand.

We also have some favourite classroom-based games, including:

– “What Am I?” (names of animals are drawn on numerous pieces of paper, each person sticks one to their forehead and tries to discover which it is by asking Yes/No questions like “Do I have hooves?”)

– “Exquisite Corpse”, aka “New Species” (each person draws part of a figure, then folds over the paper and passes it to the next person to complete)

– the self-explanatory “Keep-the-pencil-on-the-paper” and “No looking” drawings

– “Describe the picture” (one person picks a picture from an art book and describes it for the other person to draw)

On one of the rare occasions we weren’t out and about on my last visit to Kyiv, I came up with this very simple mosaic-making project. Suitable for all ages (with varying degrees of assistance).

How to make a paper mosaic Continue reading

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Odd socks

Last week I bought some beautiful Noro sock yarn from the Knitting and Stitching show.

DSC_4864Here’s the result of my first attempt at sock-knitting. It’s a much more enjoyable and interesting process than I’d previously thought, and made especially easy by Charlene Schurch and her book ‘Sensational Knitted Socks’. She’s basically done all the possible calculations you might need to knit a sock regarding guage, fit and pattern variations, and then put them in handy charts.

While I was teaching new knitters to cast on at Ally Pally, I got a lesson myself from a very kind Danish lady on how to knit continental style. Instead of holding the yarn in the right hand, as I was first taught, she, along with much of Europe, knits with the yarn in the left. Once you’ve got the hang of it, this is supposed to be the most efficient and fastest method, although I think I need to finish the other sock before my brain gets round the switch.DSC_4865

One side effect of the Noro yarn coming in beautifully graduated colours is the difficulty in making two socks roughly the same. Here’s my second attempt at starting sock no. 2 – which came with the realisation that ball no. 2 was wound in the opposite direction to ball no. 1.

See?

DSC_4867But I figure that the colour scheme isn’t crazy enough to warrant worrying about matching them up. They’ll be odd, but in an endearing, eccentric way, not in a ‘where’s the other sock?’ way. Let’s hope my Dad* thinks so anyway when he unwraps them.

*don’t worry, he doesn’t read my blog so his Christmas present will still be a surprise

Animation

This week (and next) I’m in Ukraine teaching art. Amongst drawing, painting, photography, art history, printing, T-shirt design and a multitude of games, one of my favourite activities so far has been making animations with my pupils. We used stapled booklets of tracing paper, and, starting from the back, drew a picture on each sheet, changing it a little each time. Try this once and you’ll realise how much work went into the old Disney films (24 frames a second to be exact).

Here’s the demonstration piece I made before I arrived. There are 16 different frames in total (numbered in the corner), edited in iPhoto and iMovie.

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And here’s one I made earlier.

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(шутка!)

Mitred squares

Here’s my (slightly) modified version of Aunty Penny’s pattern for a mitred square. These measurements are specifically to make a 10x10cm square in Debbie Bliss ‘Angel’ mohair yarn.

Debbie Bliss kindly donated this and lots of other beautiful yarn to The Mill, so we’ve been putting it to good use for our group piece for the forthcoming Softer textiles exhibition.squares

Abbreviations

k – knit

k2tog – knit two together

sl1 – slip 1

psso – pass slip stitch over

Cast on 31 sts on size 5mm needles.

Row 1 and every following alternate row: Knit.

Row 2: k14, sl1, k2tog, psso, k14.

Row 4: k13, sl1, k2tog, psso, k13.

Row 6 and all following alternate rows: Continue reducing in the same way, with decreased stitches forming central diagonal line, until 3 stitches remain.

Following row: sl1, k2tog, psso.

Cut yarn and pass end through loop.square

Many thanks to Aunty Penny for putting me on to this. Here’s her original, excellent advice:

20th April 2013

“I just discovered an interesting way of knitting squares, where you decrease a stitch in the middle of each row, forming a diagonal, as follows.
Cast on an odd number of stitches, 2n+1
Row 1: knit n-1 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 2: as row 1
Row 3: knit n-2 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 4: as row 3
Continue until there is only 1 stitch. You can either pull this through, or start on a new square by picking up n stitches along one of the edges of the first square and casting on a further n.”

24th April

“Re my comment of 20th April on diagonal squares, I’ve just been trying different decreases, knit 2 together or knit 2 together through back of loops, and for garter stitch it doesn’t seem to matter which one you do as long as it’s always the middle stitch and the stitch before that you knit together and you are consistent. These squares are particularly fetching in rainbow yarn.

I’ve also noticed that it’s a way to get a scalloped edging. Instead of carrying on decreasing until you’ve got one stitch remaining, you stop sooner and then just knit straight.”

A commission!

I’m off to gather materials for a knitting commission. Stitches and finishing techniques were running through my head before I opened my eyes this morning.. excitement has officially kicked in. I’m sworn to secrecy for now and can’t reveal any details just yet.. so here’s a nice picture of a cat named Billy in the meantime.

billy

Blocked

blocked2

The swiggle sweater front and back are now settling into their new, better behaved shapes, thanks to my first attempt at blocking!

Blocking is great (why haven’t I done it before?!) because it allows you to have a bit of control of the size and shape of a piece of knitting after you’re done with the needles. It seems to help even out the tension a bit too.

I soaked the pieces in water, then rolled them up in a towel to spin on a low setting for a few minutes. Then I laid them out on dry towels and a cotton sheet and pinned them down, using a tape measure to make sure the sides were straight.

I ended up spraying them with a bit more water because the spin dry worked a bit too well, so took the opportunity to add a bit of rose water to the bottle for a sweeter, less damp wool smell.

The end of this sweater is starting to come into view.. nearly there!

By the way, do you like my peep-toe slipper?