Sunday, 30 July 2017

Proud parents

We had a very proud day this week when we attended our son's graduation ceremony at Oxford University.

He is now an MChem, or Master of Chemistry, after four years of study. It was such a lovely day, the atmosphere with all the excited students and families milling about was really joyful, and the threatened rain never materialised.  We had to leave home early to make the drive to Oxford and get the Park 'n Ride bus into town, then we joined the crowd inside his college where students were collecting the ceremony tickets for their visitors and queuing up to collect their gowns.  The grandparents joined us as well and of course we were taking lots of pictures.  Then we left DS behind and headed over to the Sheldonian theatre for the ceremony, where we had to join a long queue of several hundred parents and guests snaking its way inside.  We were very lucky with our seats, right up at the very top of the building where we ended up looking directly down at DS as he sat with his college, and we had a clear view of the ceremony. (we also had a cushion to sit on, unlike most of the guests!)

Afterwards we rejoined Grandad (DS was only allowed three guests so Grandma came in with us) and headed back to his college for a reception with prosecco and nibbles.  A distinguished academic in full robes came up to chat politely with us and congratulate John, and afterwards we found out it was the college Principal!  I guess he thought we would know who he was, lol.  We had the official photos taken of DS on his own and with the five of us, then headed over for a late pub lunch.  It was such a nice day, we all really enjoyed it but were so tired by the time we got home.

So that's it, he is no longer a student and is officially unemployed and living on our bounty.  He is helping out around the house and cooking on my work days which is a treat for me, and job hunting of course.  He is hoping to get something in patent law but it is quite a difficult field to get into apparently.  I expect he is going to be living with us for some time.


I can finally show you the picture I thought I would be posting last week, which is my machine quilting frame  fully assembled and operational at long last.  Yes, we found all the pieces. We put it together in stages over the week, and I gave the machine a good clean and oil and installed it on the carriage.  It took me a while to re-familiarise myself with it, and there was a good 20 minutes where I couldn't get it to sew which turned out to be because the needle threads from left to right, not right to left like my sit-down machine!

I loaded a test sandwich and did an hour of practice stippling to get the feel for the motion again.  I'm basically starting almost from scratch and need to re-learn what skill I had four years ago.  Luckily my past self wrote a bunch of useful notes on how it all works, knowing that my future self wouldn't remember.  Useful tips like keeping track of how many passes you can make before your bobbin runs out, so that you can anticipate when the next bobbin will run out.  I also took a lot of photos four years ago before I put it away, of how everything was set up, which really helped this time around.  As you can see, I have my first quilt loaded.  This is my lowest priority top, and I am doing the most simple medium stippling while I get my hand back in.  The snowball blocks were from a rescue top I bought on a junk table at the Sisters quilt show in 2007, and I rearranged them and added a border in 2015. I've done about five passes so far, each pass being about 5" of the surface, so I have a while to go yet.  I'm concentrating on trying to get my stitches smaller because at the moment it's hard not to start rushing while concentrating on steering.  One of my tracks has a four inch split in it and there is an ominous cracking noise as the heavy machine passes over that part, so I may have to cut that out and splice in a bit of spare track if it starts impeding the carriage travel.  As you can see, the frame takes up one end of the dining room so the table has had to be crowded to the other end of the room.  I envy people whose workroom is big enough that they can keep a frame set up year round.  I'm just hoping I can get through all my tops and get the frame disassembled and stowed away before Christmas.   Stupid job taking up all my time, grrrr....

Commuter knitting continues to be the Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim Cowl.  I'm making a shorter version than given in the pattern, so have already switched to my second tonal colour of yarn.  I've got the pattern memorised now so it's a straightforward knit.

TV knitting has been sewing up the GAA afghan squares.  After crocheting around all the squares with the same number of chains, the sewing up is really straightforward and is creating a nice flat seam.  I've joined all the squares into rows and am just starting to join the rows. Despite carefully pre-blocking all the squares to the same size, I'm finding that several have reverted to being too small/large/peaked, probably because the yarn is a wool/acrylic blend rather than pure wool. But I think once they are all seamed, the inherent stretchiness of knitting will let it all drape out.

Today after doing my stint on the quilting frame, I applied the 30s decorative paper to the hairdressing salon.  I haven't done anything about covering the edges yet, but already it is looking better. I applied the paper with Mod Podge, once that's dry I will apply some sealer for protection.  I also need to create a pavement/sidewalk in front, I need to look up what those were made out of in the 1930s - presumably concrete?

Yesterday I had my annual outing to the FibreEast knitting festival over in Ampthill.  It's a nice fair and I'm lucky that it's not too far from me.  However, I didn't feel as engaged with it this year as in previous years.  I don't know if it's because I've been several times now, or because it wasn't so crowded in the afternoon (I have generally gone in the mornings in past years when it's a lot busier).  It felt like there weren't as many traders but I don't know if that's true or not.  I was looking for Blacker Yarns but they weren't there.  I went round everything twice in a little over an hour but only bought one skein of charcoal sock yarn.  I was tempted on a couple of other stands but they were stands where I had bought things in previous years that I'm not sure I've used yet.  Still, lots of nice yarn to fondle and things going on to look at.

I've done a bit more bobbin lace but obviously there hasn't been as much free time with the quilting frame to put together.  My new lace pillow arrived: after consulting with a few experts, I've invested in a moveable block pillow from Harlequin Lace.  Moveable blocks let you keep the work closer to you and do away with having to physically un-pin the work and move it back up the pillow when you are doing a long strip of lace, always a risky endeavour. I've also picked up some more secondhand bobbins so I have enough that I could start another project to work on the side while I am doing the long term hexagonal edging.  I'm a sucker for gear, I admit it.  In fact I've felt quite attracted to some hobbies like weaving just because of the great gear and gadgets, and not so much because I think I would enjoy weaving, lol. I have a particular weakness for secondhand gear that is selling at a huge discount compared to what it cost new - which is how I ended up with over a dozen old knitting machines at one point in my career (now passed on) because I kept coming across them at boot sales.

And that's about it this week.  Hope you've had a nice week and got some crafting done too!


Daisy said...

Congratulations on the graduation! And good luck with getting the projects done before you need the whole dining room again.

swooze said...

Congrats to your son. Hope he finds the employment he desires.

Glad you got your frame set up. In spite of mine being setup always I don't use it as often as I thought I would but I'm trying!

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