I have mentioned from time to time that I like to ride my bike – in fact I love my bike – it even says so, right on the handlebars! Which, I have noticed, are starting to show signs of rust. It is wonderful living by the sea, but it is an unforgiving and very harsh environment – still, that’s good for rust printing fabric – I have to admit I have my eye on the grid that goes over my neighbour’s drain – it is wonderfully rusty and would look great on fabric – wonder if they would notice if I borrowed it for a few hours next hot sunny day we have??
Oh sorry, I digress. Well, I now have a new mode of locomotion to entertain (and occasionally terrify) me – a kayak!! There is no shortage of waterways down here – in fact, I believe that Eurobodalla, the name of the shire, means land of many waters, and ain’t that the truth. There are lakes, inlets, rivers, estuaries and all sorts of other watery bits, the correct geographical description of which eludes me. There is of course also the mother of all watey bits, the Pacific Ocean, but I have absolutely NO intention of ever venturing out there!
So here is my new baby — a Hobie Lanai kayak. Mine is yellow – I figure if I do ever get swept away and lost at sea, the yellow will be easier to spot than the grey one behind, which is Karl’s and intended for fishing – apparently you are supposed to sneak up on the fish and not draw attention to yourself, so yellow kayaks are not popular with fisherpersons.
Now as a woman of a certain age, let me tell you that getting in and out of a kayak is no mean feat. Fortunately, my first attempts last weekend when we borrowed a neighbour’s kayak to have a go were not captured by video – at least I hope not – if you have heard of a You Tube video of a large middle aged woman trying to exit a kayak and not succeeding going viral – don’t tell me.
There are countless helpful (not) videos on the internet showing the ‘correct’ way to enter and exit a kayak, but I note that these all feature young, supple, strong ‘fitness instructors’ who lithely and gracefully lower themselves into the vessel and then effortlessley lift themselves out. Well let me tell you, that doesn’t work for someone my age as my knees are well past the stage of being able to effortlessley lift me from a position of sitting on the ground – assuming I have managed to get myself onto the ground to start with.
After a bit of experimenting, I have found that the best way to enter is to walk the kayak into water just below knee depth and then back up to the boat, drop my backside into the seat, then swing my legs in. I didn’t initially try this approach, as I assumed that it would cause the vessel to tip over, but these touring kayaks are so stable, that doesn’t happen. Exiting is pretty much the reverse, but with the added assistance of sticking the paddle into the sand and using it like a staff to help me get up and keep me stable. It works so far. I saw another lady my age getting out of her kayak yesterday and she pulled into shore, worked here way from sitting to getting on here hands and knees then eased herself up from there. Fortunately all our watersays have sandy shores – don’t think that would work so well in rocky places, or with mud or mangroves.
Okay – so now I can get into it. The instruction manual says to take your kayak on a ‘shakedown cruise’ before venturing off on a big trip, to make sure you know how it works and how to handle it etc. So off we went on our shakedown cruise, five minutes from home, along the estuary between the local lake and the sea. We had paddled about there last week in our borrowed kayak and found it accessible and safe. Unfortunately, this time, we went when the tide was running out very strongly – as I tootled down towards the mouth I got caught up in a strong current and nearly came up close and personal to a large concrete pylon holding up the pedestrian bridge. So, shakedown cruise behind me, I guess I am ready for my maiden voyage! Trouble is I don’t have a life vest yet, as they didn’t have my size (they only stocked small/medium – doubtless to accommodate all those lithe fitness instructors). I will be picking it up next week, so for now, I am not venturing anywhere out of my depth or where I run the risk of getting thrown out of the kayak – that leaves pretty much everywhere down here, except for the ocean, which is fine by me.
Oh, and I found out that life jackets aren’t called that anymore – they are PFDs. Now in my world, PFD means prepared for dyeing fabric. I couldn’t immediately see how swathing myself in undyed Kona cotton was likely to keep me afloat, but in the seafaring community, a PFD is a personal flotation device.
But in relation to PFD fabric, I have been playing with printing on soda soaked fabric using thickened dyes – the ones that arrived from the US a couple of weeks ago. I had an urge to play with letters and numbers. These have been screened using both positive and negative images.
These are largeish wooden numbers I got at a craft store. I place the ‘0’ under a screen and screened through thickened dye. For the ‘2’, I loaded up a screen with thickened dye, then pressed the number and some smaller letters onto the back of the screen and let it all dry (it took about 24 hours). Then I carefully removed the letters/numbers and screened with thicked dye paste, so it released the colour that was dried on the screen.
I have been keeping an eye out on the local craft store for other things to use for letters and numbers. I found a pack of thin card cut out numbers and arithmetic symbols – these will be good for negative images, placed under a screen. I don’t know how many times I will be able to use them before they fall apart, but at a couple of dollars for a big pack, I think I can reasonably consider them to be ‘disposable’.
I also found a pack of 3 inch high card stencils for individual letters. These will give me a positive image. Although the cut out bits could be kept and used to produce a negative as well I guess. And there was this stencil as well – these letters are only about an inch and a half high, but having the same images in a range of scales is useful.
Here I screened some big 0s using my wooden template. Then I went back and added some more 0s and some Xs in a different scale.
Just having fun at this stage. Although I think I want to explore printing fabric with numbers and letters some more. I found an old school report of mine the other day, which said that ‘weakness in arithmetic has cost her a better position in the class“. I have never been a numbers person – spreadsheets make my eyes glaze over, and someone only has to mention data at work and I slip into a catatonic state. I am a words person. Top of the class in English, bottom in arithmetic – oh, and you should see what I got for Book-keeping (this was 1965, remember!) – “Book-keeping is lagging badly, Hilary, and there is NO excuse for this. 100% is a pass in this subject. See to it that you master it immediately.”
This was followed by the statement “Hilary is a keen student” – clearly not of arithmetic or bookkeeping!