Pretty colors

Whilst I still have access to a digital camera, I may as well post pictures of some recent miscellany.

We found large quantities of wire hangers in the basement while cleaning up after a flood two weeks ago. So, given that one has to use up one’s scrap yarn somehow, the following resulted.cimg08394


Yarn is wound around a pair of hangers from both sides in the basic friendship bracelet stitch, as you probably already know. There are sixteen of them, counting the rather eyesmarting set of five.

Also, some  work on my new spinning wheel, which continues to be great fun. (The most recent batch is actually shows some improvement in evenness, but it’s in NY.) I have an upright wheel worked with both feet. Each color below represents between 2/3 and 3/4 of a pound of wool, spun into 2-ply yarn.


I continue to be delighted by how much faster the wheel is than my drop spindles – each color’s worth of yarn was finished in about an afternoon. Whee!

Wet-folding Origami

In my last (and first) post I said I’d try wet-folding, because some of these models seem to require either thinner or more malleable paper. So I decided that the African Elephant would be a good place to start, partly because the pattern (although tricky) doesn’t have very many folds overall (and doesn’t require any particularly precise folding), and partly because the instructions suggested it. So first I folded it in the usual way (i.e. with dry, normal paper):

Elephant (dry)

It worked, more or less. The hand-drawn instructions failed me when they tried to describe the fold for the tusks, but I made something up, which seemed to work. The model, however, only gives the general 3D shape of an elephant, requires a certain amount of paper-sculpting at the end, which is hard to do with normal paper.

So I took the advice of Wikipedia and wet both sides of a piece of paper using a damp kleenex, to ready it for wet-folding (using, of course, the same type and size of paper as before, albeit of a different color). As I tried to manipulate the paper I  noticed a couple of things:

  1. The paper I’ve been using has a grain–most of the fibers run in the same direction. If it’s wet equally on both sides it doesn’t wrinkle much out of the plane, but in the plane it expands different amounts along different axes when wet. So to start off, my paper wasn’t square. Like, really not square, with a difference of maybe a third of an inch (out of seven inches) between the two directions. But I was afraid it would dry out if I wasted time trying to trim it, so I just ignored it, and did all of my folds to within a 1/6 inch error. Good thing the pattern didn’t require much precision.
  2. The color on the paper is water-soluble. I could swear I ended up with almost as much color on the tissue I was using to wet the paper as on the paper itself.
  3. My (unvarnished) wooden table-top is much dirtier than I had thought. It turns out that wet paper picks up a lot of dirt. Of course, the more I tried to wipe off the dirt, the more color I lost…
  4. In this condition, I started folding the elephant, completely botching the folds leading up to the tusks, which in turn made even my makeshift tusk-fold impossible (I sort of skipped that part, just twisting the tusks into existence, which seemed to work, more or less). And I noticed some more things:

  5. Wet origami paper does hold creases (I’d been rather suspicious that it wouldn’t at all), but they become very hard to see after a while.
  6. The paper dries quite quickly. That is, too quickly to finish folding a (simple) elephant. And furthermore, re-dampening a semi-3D elephant with a wet kleenex is hard.

Anyway, here’s how it came out:

Elephant (wet)I suppose the non-crease folds tend to be somewhat smoother, and the model holds its shape better, but if I was hoping to use wet-folding to facilitate folding through thick sections in complex models, I am bound to be disappointed unless I can significantly improve my technique.

Conclusion:  Next time I should try using a spray bottle, a ruler and exacto knife, and a clean, non-absorbent hard surface, and maybe I’ll be able to make a better elephant.