Liz S.

We are away on our narrowboat (a canal boat), Inglewood cruising the canals in Shropshire. I was kindly given a preview of Lesson 5 by Jane so was able to think a little about what to bring on holiday but decided to limit myself to paints, paper, pencils and glue. I also always bring some form of knitting or sewing because I do get long periods of time to do creative things on holiday but only in a very limited space that has to be tidied each meal time. Before we came away I suddenly decided I would like to use my supply of 4 ply yarn and odds and ends of sock yarn to crochet granny squares for a blanket. This, when I thought more about it, encompasses topics from AST. I didn't go out and buy new stuff - I am using yarn I bought for a mandala project in rainbow colours that didn't happen; I am clearing a stash; I am working small to create a larger whole. I am loving the colours of the work I am producing - all the balls and scraps work together based on decisions to buy that I've made in the past. Four years ago I knitted my way out of a major period of anxiety which kept me off work for 3 months. I discovered lace shawl knitting, a pattern I loved and yarn in fabulous colours. I then made members of the meditation group I belong to a shawl each, based on what I felt would be a good colour for them (I used to be a Colour Me Beautiful Consultant). I must have made at least 15 for friends, as presents.

So, in reflecting for a few days on the suggested activities I thought about the possible 100 things I had access to on holiday. I thought about cutting our words from the newspaper, or particular letters such as A, R, T. I then chose to cover a sheet of A4 paper with those letters in pencil, 100 of each. I also collected leaves from an Ash tree as we waited to move into a lock on the narrowboat. Each leaf comprised 7-10 leaflets which I though I might separate off. I coloured a sheet of A4 acrylic paper with Intense pastels and Brusho dye. Then glued on 100 of the leaflets. I tried not to overthink it but automatically started making design decisions.

I wanted to create symmetry but I wasn't sure how far the 100 leaflets would cover the sheet. I had forgotten about the 'making something larger'  but I had glued the leaflets so they extend over the end of the paper. I like the glimpses of the yellow/green showing between the leaflets. As I worked towards the centre I realised there was a sunburst shape appearing, not unlike the sunburst pattern in the granny squares I am crocheting.

The arrangement of the leaflets also brings to mind the ' Green Man' mythology where an ancient face is hidden and revealed in a surround of green leaves. I did think it could have been circular too. This was a good stretching exercise that I could see the potential for in the future as it did not take too long. Intriguingly as the the leaves started to dry over the next few days they curled up into lovely shapes revealing more of the background and making a much more 3-dimensional shape. I am hoping to try playing much larger - it is not something I have ever done before - but can't while I am away. I tend to be fascinated by the miniature and how to make things small and neat. It may be very liberating for me to go the other way and go much bigger.

Jane's essay mentions obsession - now, I can do obsession and it can be both a motivation and a hinderance to me. This is the girl who used a French knitting dolly (a cotton reel with 4 nails to loop thread into a cord) to make yards and yards of cord (which didn't get used in the end). The girl who, in 1972, when it was fashionable to wear long lacy scarves (to the floor on each side as it hung round your neck), made hers 14 feet long so that when she went on a hot date to the cinema, her man of the moment got his foot caught in the scarf and trailed it all down the aisle as he went to the cloakroom during the film! I am a good bet to supply craft show stalls because I will make you 10s of what you need (donation for a school stall - 50 hair scrunchies; donation for a cake stall - 4 or 5 tray bakes; donation for a plant stall - seedlings, plants, cuttings galore; daughter's wedding favours - 52 hand sewn fabric brooches)! I can't do anything by half. So I need to channel that same energy into stuff that is about me and experimenting and developing, but my work ethic, to see only purposeful activity in creating something that is for someone else's pleasure or benefit, makes that very difficult for me. The pleasure of the making and achieving the goal (even if it is overextended) is mine though. I see the granny squares as making a blanket which will be a magic carpet for my grandson to enjoy when he comes to stay when he is older (he's only 10 weeks old so far!), but I am enjoying the process of making. I seem to need to identify the 3rd party beneficiary as a necessary part of the contract with myself to make things. Now, I need to think through how I can work with that so that it allows me to grow and develop.