Thursday, January 24, 2013

Something for My Handshoe and Me

I woke up today, excited to have another productive day with art and stuff, when I pulled my right hand out of whack while washing my hair. So now it's got it's handshoe on, trying to go back to terms with itself (it's been a few hours since I pulled it, but my hand is still sulking and every time I try to bend it forwards it...gets mad) for the most part, my hands are nearly back into drawing-shape, but the occasional over-stretching seems to just knock it back to how it was months ago. So I decided to go back to my non-art things which really don't make me very excited because I really like my art things.

But this is what happens when I do non-art things. I get scared by numbers, statistics, and percentages, all of which will always be against me because I'm a creative, and unless I were to trick the system (even as a non-creative profession) I'll always feel like the numbers are against me. They haunt me in the late hours of the night. Despite all of the things I do right and how things will eventually work out once I get hired *cross fingers*, it always feels like things are going very wrong when numbers get involved.

Of course numbers have to be calculated, but I found something else to fill the late hours of the night when I'd normally be doing my art-for-me. Something to distract me from numbers for a little while. Something that I can do even with my handshoe on: bobbin lace.

So Bobbin lace is usaully done with bobbins. But I decided not to use bobbins because they aren't readily available, so I had to find another alternative. I tried just using string and pins, but it needed a thousand pins and it constantly tangled. I tried using paperclips but it was still getting tangled. I needed something bobbin shaped so I could make things quickly and efficiently.

And as I was cleaning my studio, throwing out all my doubles, I realized I have a mere 500000000000000 colored pencils. For years, people have been giving me colored pencils. Most of them are awful, a few are actually nice prismacolor or spectracolor ones, but most of them aren't worth the plastic lead they're made of. But, I found a new use for them that I hadn't realized before.
Using a 1/4 in washer, I turned them into bobbins. Colored pencils are all nearly the same size, and it's a little more than 1/4 in thick, so when you squish the washer above the string, it holds tight and keeps the bobbin from being unwound (after you tie that special bobbin knot which will be in a video down the page).

So, here's some youtube videos that I've used to learn bobbin lace (the best ones aren't in English). Even if you don't plan on doing this project, it's fascinating to watch.

It's been a nice skill to learn (took me a while to figure out some stitches but for the most part it's a very simple and straightforward craft.) I also found great instruction in this encyclopedia of needlework, (the one by Therese Dillmont that is basically everyone's go-to for more obscure needlecrafts )when I'll finish, I'll show it to you, but for those with carpal tunnel who are sad because they can't crochet/knit/sew/draw/needle-anything anymore, this has been a great project for my handshoe and me.

A link to Therese Dillmont (because it's apparently open domain now) as well as some patterns. It gets really extensive and you don't need most of the materials it suggests (like the bobbin machine and the bobbin winder, that can be done by hand and good sense and just a large stiff pillow (like the 2-ft type you throw on the floor for movie night).) But has great pictures of the stitches and very clear directions. The patterns are meh, but is good for beginning.

This is huuuge in Italy apparently because all the good youtube videos on the subject are Italian. (also some good ones in spanish) I apologize about the music. But you can see how the patterns can look really cool (some are super complicated, but again, fascinating to watch), and can be made from your own design without having to do all that math that knitting needs. Just skip to the actual weaving part because the intro is just words.

and this project which is so huge I can't imagine even starting it.

And in Spanish. Kinda shaky cam but you can see how it looks a little different from the italian version:

And an example of a pattern from Edna Sutton -- Her books are like 90 dollars so I'm not going to buy them, but she has some of the most modern looking patterns. And i totally downloaded this picture and am going to try it myself, thank you, tatman.


  1. I am excited that you have started blogging again, Rachel! I too have a problem with numbers, if there was something like dyslexia for numbers, I surely suffer from it.

    But this bobbin lace... it looks like one should be quite patient with it! I hope you keep on finding such great ways to reuse your pencils :) I also think I should add this post to the linky I started today, it is a great step out of your comfort zone!

    1. Haha, Thanks Sonya! It's a slow process but it's a fun one.