The Trouble with Making

I have a confession to make.  I’m avoiding making….Not on purpose but I seem to be finding other ‘things’ to do for my PhD rather than get into the making.  I just seem to have lost my making mojo!

I keep having ideas and now I am using a folder system to keep each participants information in then when I think of an idea I am adding a scribble or doodle or notes to the it.  It seems to be working quite well at the moment and my story regarding crochet seems to be the one I keep becoming inspired by.  I also am working on a story about a ‘rolling pin’ which again I keep jotting down notes and coming up with ideas, but never managing to produce anything.

I think doing a part time PhD and working full time is proving quite difficult.  Because I lecture and study at the same place I find it hard to break away from the role on my designated ‘research day’ or because it’s on a thursday, by the time thursday rolls around i’m completely wiped out making ‘making’ considerably harder.

Also with making, i’ve always enjoyed it so its hard to then do it when I feel like I should be marking or planning a lecture.  It doesn’t seem like a legitimate thing to be doing (it feels like playing to me).  With this in mind, maybe it’s the perception of making as research that has to change which in turn may help to change my mindset…..

So the goal this week.  Buy cheap acrylic wool (as per the direction in the story i’m working on) and start to crochet a toilet dolly….(never done before)…This is to: a) make it look like mistakes are OK and b) the narrator of the story spoke of how her Nana created crocheted objects from memory rather than pattern so things were always slightly off….(which is good as my new found skills are limited!)

I might also try and learn a few different stitches as at the moment I can only seem to go round in a circle and it would be better to learn how to work in lines too….!  I’m going to go into the studio early on thursday to try and give it a go!



Harrogate Knit and Stitch

Just visited the Knit and Stitch show at Harrogate. I’ve been meaning to go for years and have never made it.  Having observing the people who got off the train with their tartan wheels bags I was a bit concerned it may be more hobbyist than I thought. There were elements of this, however there was some beautiful art textiles that was produced including stitching into leaves or around driftwood, crocheting giant flamingos and balls and balls of giant yarn!

I actually really enjoyed it.  It was interesting to see the different textile/knitted and stitched pieces in terms of what artists were showing and had done.  I really loved the work of Alice Fox who had done a collection of pieces titled ‘Findings’, using natural objects, wood, stone, acorns, leaves and stitching into or around them.  Also the use of rust and erosion.  This had made me think more about my finished pieces.  They don’t all have to include silicone!  I feel a lot freer!  I bought the bits and bobs above.

  • Small crochet hook.  Wanted to try experimenting with smaller yarns and threads.  Maybe something you wouldn’t normally crochet with.
  • Linen thread for my leather work.  I want to start predominantly using hand stitching rather than machine.
  • Cyanotype, however this is a black version.  Light sensitive photo emulsion that can be used on wood, fabric, paper. Thought it could have some interesting results although not sure if it may be too similar to acetone printing.

I was really looking forward to having a play with all this stuff however haven’t had chance yet to give it a go.  Tonight is the first night I’ve actually felt like getting on with anything at all in an evening.  I’m completely wiped out at the moment so just staying awake on an evening is an achievement!

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

IMG_6256I’ll start off with a picture.  This is a picture of the wall I look at when I’m sat at my desk trying to write things for my PhD or if i’m making things at my desk.  I don’t ‘do’ photos or people around the house or in frames, so it is all condensed to this one wall in the spare room where only I come.  It’s a little collection of all the ‘loved’ ones I have or had in my life, mum and dad, grandpa and granny, Tim, the dogs and other things like a Russian Beatles Yellow Submarine picture given to me by a boy (Tim Fox) at school who shared the same birthday as me (he’s actually in a really cool band now) and a Joe Cool patch that came from my mum’s sewing box ( I love Snoopy).  All stuff that reminds me of things.

I’ve sat here today having received my report back with a few big changes I have to make.  It feels so hard to try to write what I’m supposed to say as I’ve ‘written’ all my life, letters, diaries, stories etc: But trying to write for this PhD seems so hard and frustrating.  It’s annoying the way academia strips the enjoyment out of things that you love.  Making has always been my first and foremost favourite thing.  Always wanting to try new things (at the moment, rug making, candle making, using a lathe, sewing a bag and making some shoes are all on the to do list).  But when framed in an academic context and having to do it for something rather than myself seems to take away the pleasure in the doing.

My supervisor has been great and I’ve probably had way more support than I should have had.  He sent my report back this morning with changes and we spoke on the phone about what I need to do, I just find it very hard.  It’s an odd time of year too as academic skills tutors and other staff aren’t about to ask so I feel a little bit like I’m struggling through this with not much clue as what should be…As much as I am told, I just can’t seem to frame it right.

Right so now for the onwards and upwards bit…I am going to first print my report out so I can see it in front of me.  I’m going to take it to the coffee shop and read through and scribble all over it and try to make some sense as I find this easier on paper.  I’ve downloaded an Ebook called Visualising research, but I think I need to get the real one out of the library tomorrow so I will do that then.

This afternoon I’m going to focus on the literature review re-framing.
OK just needed to get that out. I’m sure this is what happens with the highs and lows of the PhD process and I’m sure i’m not the only one and I’m also sure that this is not the most important thing in my life…it’s the people in pictures on the wall 🙂