Batik painting for kids

My youngest daughter is home with a cold and has been spending the days painting and drawing. In one of her art books she found instructions for batik painting with wax crayons. I really liked the idea and thought I would share how to do it.

Start with a black wax crayon outline

Start with a black, wax crayon outline

 

Colour the picture with wax crayons, best with bright or light colours

Colour the picture with wax crayons, best with bright or light colours and a heavy solid filling

 

Scrunch the paper up

Scrunch the paper up

 

Flatten the picture out

Flatten the picture out

 

Paint over the picture with black paint and plenty of water so all the wrinkles in the paper are filled, (all white areas will also be painted black)

Paint over the picture with black paint and plenty of water so all the wrinkles in the paper are filled, (all white areas will also be painted black)

 

I laid a bit of toilet paper on the picture, after the black paint, to soak up the paint that wasn’t absorbed by the wax.

Good fun for an inside day.

 

batik 6

Finished painting

 

 

 

 

 

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Been writing forever

December 29 1982, I spent the entire day in my pyjamas and leg warmers, (probably a Christmas gift), and played with my plasticine and our Texas Instrument computer. I also counted the number of cats in our neighbourhood, nine. I had just turned 12 a few days before.

I know this titbit from my past because on December 25 1982 I was given my first Diary. The first entry began with a headache, bad spelling, and the mention of a cute boy. I kept a diary or journal, (basically following those same themes), up until my first daughter was born. Choose any day in the 80’s and I can tell you what I was doing, maybe even the state of the world – if it included a cute boy.

My diary soothed me, it helped me “talk out” my problems. All those things that teenagers find so dramatic, my diary helped me put into perspective. And even though I do not use this blog as a diary, it still allows me to untangle my feelings, like with my last post. I said what I needed to say about my eye and cancer, and now I can let my freckle just be, (at least until July and my next appointment).

So moving on to wool. The weaving class with my husband’s company has started again after the summer break. We have a new teacher and we are going to make woven wall hangings. In our first class we experimented with weaving cloth strips; an old shirt, a sock, scraps of fabric.

Fabric

I have also been teaching my neighbour how to spin in exchange for some wool from her sheep, (softer than mine). Here is some yarn I spun with her wool, as well as some woven key rings that I am making.

Project

I like the key rings, but need to give them a test run to see how robust they are.

Keychains

A few weeks ago I made a large rectangle nail loom and I have been using that to make shawls and ponchos.

Ponchoweb

More pictures of these can be seen on my facebook page. I started this page because I found that many Chilean crafter’s use facebook to advertise, communicate, and generally connect.

I will use it mainly for pictures and small updates, and keep my blog for when I need to “talk”.

The little things and the big ones

It has been a while since my last post, sorry, I have been busy. Mainly with little things, like my dying washing machine. (I am such a terrible house wife, and hand washing the whole family’s clothes really is not fun and I did not do it very well!) I finally got a new machine, and it is a joy to be able to put clothes in, walk away, then come back and put them on the line…nice and clean. Be thankful of modern luxuries.

Also I started going to yoga classes, which I love. Many people have recommended yoga, and for a long time I have thought about it, but the breathing in yoga has always scared me, (and it is a big part of yoga!) My problem is that when I think about my breathing it makes me feel short of breath. However, when a good friend came back to Chile and started teaching yoga, I couldn’t miss the opportunity of having a friend help me with my breathing fears. She is a great teacher, and also speaks excellent English. For anyone looking for a bilingual yoga teacher in La Serena, here is her facebook page Yoga Jessyyoga.

And the results are great! I love how the yoga makes me feel; it pushes me, but at the same time helps me relax. Which I really need. Since I started taking the ergot based migraine medicine last year, I haven’t had a really bad, (as in a day in bed vomiting) type migraine, but I am still having lots of small migraines and feel I am taking the medicine too often. (not more than what the box says, but still a lot) However, without the medicine I know what my migraine will turn into, (a day in bed vomiting and another day to recover).

So this past month I have been going to yoga, taking a multi-vitamin with magnesium in it, (good for migraine sufferers), and trying not to eat foods that I think are triggers. Part of this is to control my migraines better, but it is also to look after myself and give the freckle in my eye everything it needs to stay a freckle.

Ah yes, the big ones, my freckle, which is actually a nevus/melanoma. That is what my scans and doctor call it. I visited my doctor again last week and she said that my nevus looks good; no changes, clean edges, not too thick. She also explained that there is less than 5% chance of it turning into melanoma. However, she also explained how a nevus can grow but still be a nevus, and a melanoma can be small and never change, so telling the difference between the two is difficult. So we wait and watch because there is more risk from operating, than what a large nevus or small non-growing melanoma could do.

Looking on the internet, (which they tell you not to do) the statistics from one study of 1611 patients with iris nevus, showed growth from nevus to melanoma to be “<1%, 3%, 4%, 8%, and 11% at 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years, respectively” and “risk factors for growth, identified by ABCDEF included Age young, Blood (hyphema), Clock hour inferior, Diffuse configuration, Ectropion uveae, and Feathery tumour margin”. Of the six risk factors, I have A (age ≤40 years at presentation) and C ( 4:00 to 9:00 clock hour location of tumour).  from “Iris Nevus Growth into Melanoma: Analysis of 1611 Consecutive Eyes: The ABCDEF Guide.

And because I visited the doctor last week and have to go back in July for another scan my nevus-not-cancer-but-may-be-one-day is on my mind. Always is when I have an appointment, (the rest of the time I don’t dwell on it so much). And really, I don’t know how to think of this. Do I think of it as just a nevus that will probably never change, and ignore the cancer side of it, (that kind of feels like denial). Or do I admit that I may have cancer but as long as it doesn’t change, it is not very dangerous? And I don’t understand why this feels so complicated. Maybe I am a bit of a control freak, and controlling starts with having the correct name! Maybe I should call it a tumour, not as innocent as a freckle, but not as scary as melanoma. Maybe that is easier to explain to people as well.

I know this is supposed to be a craft blog, or farming, or expat living in Chile, and not a cancer blog, (but it is mine) and this small brown freckle is causing me all sorts of thoughts and questions when it looks back at me in the mirror every day. And putting this all out there, into the wide world helps me put it into perspective. Because there are many things worse than what I am dealing with, and I know I am very fortunate; I have the little things in my life, not just the big ones.

Maybe mohair

The goats on our farm are not pure bred angoras, but they are the reason I learned to shear, spin, and knit.

Image

The mohair from them is not perfect, and because we have not had any young goats in a few years the mohair isn’t as soft as it could be. However it shines beautifully and the past few weeks I have been dyeing wool and mohair in my solar ovens, as yarn and as un-spun fibre.

ImageI used onion skins, and walnut leaves for the orange and green, then spun the mohair and wool mix on my Ashford Traditional.

I also dyed mohair and wool with avocado skins, which the cats loved.

Pinkwool2

I am planning to blend these together, but first I carded the wool and mohair separately.

Battsandwool

 

The white wool is from our sheep, and the off-white is from the small spots of grey that I occasionally find on the fleece.

Most angora goats can be sheared twice a year, but I am not sure if these goats produce enough hair for shearing twice. However, this year I may try to shear earlier and get a better quality fleece, (these samples are slightly matted). If I leave it too late then the hair starts to matt and comes off by itself.

goatsandsheep

Even though these goats, my “old ladies”, are not pure bred it is nice to know I can still make beautiful objects from their hair.

 

 

Stitching, something new

I love colour. I love coloured wool and yarn. I love all the beautiful ways yarn and wool can be used to make art, (except maybe crochet, I just can’t get my hands to work comfortably in this medium, sorry).

A couple of years ago I learned some stitching techniques with my mother-in-law. I liked the idea of sitting and stitching and I loved how variegated yarns looked in the different stitches. However, when I used my own hand spun, the yarn wasn’t consistent enough to look nice, and so I put the stitching to one side.

While I was in Santiago having my eye examined, I found a small shop that sells stitching kits. Esterillas is located in Pueblo del Ingles, and has a great selection of stitching yarns, patterns and kits. They range from small, child friendly kits to complex pillows and floor coverings.

I bought two simple kits, made with thicker wool, for my daughters. My youngest jumped right in with her cousin, and my oldest daughter says she will try it…soon.

And for myself I bought a more complicated pillow cover.

Flower

I am not sure if I am using the correct stitch, some look the same at the front but the back is worked differently. But I love the colours and watching it grow.

Flowerclose

The best part is I can see how very simple designs can be made beautiful depending on the yarn. I used some of my solar dyed yarn, (the pale yarn) in a simple square pattern and I really like the effects. Reminds me of geological maps.

Squares

With what I have learned I am going to spin and dye some wool for stitching. I think my spinning has improved enough to use, and the subtle changes in solar dyeing will look great.

A good start to the New Year

Really, this is supposed to be a blog about fibres and soft squishy handmade objects, but we haven’t seen many of them here for a while. I have been knitting and creating things, and to prove it, here are some completed projects to start this post.

The scarf and hat I knit for my husband for Christmas.

Scarf hat

And this is a scarf I started in December of 2010, (gulp) and only just finished this week. I had not forgotten the scarf; I would pick it up, knit a little then tuck it away. For two years.

Seaweed Scarf

And a felted doll, just playing.

Doll

But, I must admit that after visiting the ocular oncologist last month about the freckle on my iris, I have spent a lot of my time learning about Ocular Melanoma, or OM.

This week I went to Santiago to have an ultrasound biomicroscopy scan done of my eye.  The doctor did this by numbing my eye then putting a small tube over it which she filled with water. Into this she put a probe to scan my eye. The results will be ready next week, (however, we will probably collect them when we see the oncologist in a few months), but she said the nevus, or freckle, looked fine. Flat, this is a good sign.

Of course, she also said that this will not show if the nevus is benign or malignant. That takes time and observation.

I am finding everything a bit confusing. What I have learned from reading on the internet, and cyber chatting with people on Ravelry, is that Ocular Melanoma is a rare form of cancer, around 2500 cases in the USA a year. OM in the iris is the least common, but with better survival rates. This may be because it is visible and it can be treated earlier. Also, because OM of the iris normally grows slowly, it is sometimes never detected as cancer, and just appears to be nevi. I think that is what the doctor meant when she said I have to wait. There may be malignant cells in the nevus but until they do something different, like grow fast or change colour, nothing needs to be done.

So even though I have been given a green light, and during the day I can accept that I don’t have cancer, in the night it is not so easy. I have been waking up scared and I am trying to turn these feelings around to make changes in my life to stop the cancer from ever coming.

Three months ago I had never heard of Ocular Melanoma, and what a “sneaky” cancer it is. Most people know what to look for with skin cancer, when to have a mole looked at, or the risks they take when smoking. Women know to get regular Pap smears and mammograms. Men know to get their prostates checked. But then there are cancers that sneak up on you; childhood cancers, or cancers that are rare and receive little news coverage.

Ocular Melanoma is rare, but like many cancers, survival rates seem to be improved when the tumours are detected early. A person may have no symptoms and because most tumours are inside the eye only a doctor can see them. Regular eye checks are important.

I know I do not have Ocular Melanoma, (for now my freckle is only a freckle) and so have no right to warn people or give out information, but this is the internet, and if I can help someone searching, and find more information, then I will. (However, remember this is the internet and does not replace talking with a doctor). Here are some links I found useful, although it is all very confusing, and what gave me the most comfort was cyber chatting with people who have OM.

A Cure In Sight – a new charity to help people pay for their treatment. This site has a good list of links for more information.

[Love X Infinity]2 – The Not-Quite-Fairytale of a Cancer Princess, good links and personal perspective.

Interview with Oliver Sacks on Vision, His Next Book, and Surviving Cancer.