Monday, 21 July 2014

Phew, It's A Scorcher!

We've had what the press have been referring to as a heatwave here in the UK the past few days - yes, it's been quite hot, but I am sure those of you living in sunnier climes would laugh at us calling 32C hot.  It was rather muggy, especially after a few spectacular thunderstorms and torrential rain, but that didn't stop me getting on with things.

I finally got over a bad case of artist's block and have started this little watercolour.  It's the view down through trees to the water below, using a photo sent to me by Midge from Soggibottom blog in Devon.  I'm not sure how it will turn out or if it will be worth it, but I am very happy to be using a brush again.  
On the other hand, my daughter has been painting like a maniac the past week - we've gone back to using the 'Paint Your Own Masterpiece' book and she has churned out another version of this Cezanne.  All I do for her is make a light sketch of the main objects, the rest she does by herself. (For those of you who are new here and are thinking 'so what?', my daughter has Down's Syndrome, so this is really quite an achievement!)  I think this one might deserve framing!
As well as knitting a grizzly bear (hot work!) I have been teaching myself how to make loom band bracelets.  It was getting embarrassing at work (infant school) being shown up by six year olds who have mastered this and I hadn't the first idea.  So when I got a bag of the bands free with a magazine, I took the bull by the horns and had a go - turns out it is not that hard after all, and I can see the attraction, they are strangely addictive!  I want to try one of the very intricate designs and then I can file this under 'done it'!

Despite the heat, we have managed some lovely leisurely walks with the dog in the fields behind our house.
They are sown with a crop of beans this year but in amongst them are millions of daisies.
It is so pretty - shame they want to plough it all up and build 450 houses on it.  We are praying that this doesn't come to pass as long as we are living here.
I don't know what Clovis would do without his daily canters through the countryside - he's never been a dog for road walking, it has to be running through the grass and bushes or it just isn't a walk.
Some sunflowers have snuck into the mix as well!

Monday, 14 July 2014


The end of the school year always brings on terrible lethargy - you know it's ending, the routine is gone, the weather is nice, the temptation is to laze about in the garden.  I'm having that problem right now! However, I am working on a couple of things - this is a simple rectangular top in pink cotton yarn, based on a favourite jumper of mine.  I love to layer clothing and wanted a summer 'throwover' - it's a simple knit, I just hope the yarn I bought in a sale lasts the distance.
Another project which depends on the yarn holding out is this one, a bear.  Stylecraft Gypsy yarn is fantastic for this type of thing but is sadly discontinued - keep your fingers crossed for me!
I've been enjoying some lovely walks with the dog - the bean fields behind our house are not just full of beans (unlike me!) but a sea of white and yellow daisies.  I pick a bunch every few days - at least ones I can reach without trampling over any crops.
The garden is another distraction at the moment - things are reaching their peak and looking pretty...
..the tomato plants have yet to fruit but are now very high considering the bad start they had.  There are flowers at least.
And it looks like work will be starting on the building next door very soon - obviously the builders have some objection to us ever leaving our garden because they've barricaded us in yet again.  Are they terminally stupid?

While checking out the new Derwent website, I found the page with two of my illustrated tins on it - yay!  It never ceases to give me a little frisson of excitement to see my work out there!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Beetle, Budgie & Brand New Stock

I had a bit of a rush job yesterday - a beetle to be made inthe space of 36 hours. Yikes! After looking up the only pattern I had, I rejected that as being pretty rubbish and got out the big book of Insects that I inherited from my mother to use as reference.  So this is based on a cockchafer of some sort - I can't replicate the irridescence unfortunately!
I also finished the final budgie -I think that's got them out of my system for the time being!
There will be three knitted dog sets in my shop later today - this brindle lurcher,
The teeny-tiny one,
and this little girl. There will also be this purse:
It's good to be able to add some new stock - my shop has been a bit neglected of late!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Budgies, Birthdays & Butterflies...

It's been a long time since I had some fun with felt - I bought the new Made in Felt magazine last week and was instantly taken with the pattern for a budgie.  Their version only had the face and wing on one side of the bird -well, you know me, I always have to go the extra mile, so mine have them on both sides in order to look like a real bird not half a one.  There is a pale purple one nearly complete as well - after that I think I will have exhausted my enthusiasm for this pattern for the time being!
Yesterday I had a small stall at the local dog show.  I didn't sell much, but it was a great opportunity to show my work to a wider audience locally and lots of people took cards and chatted about pet portraits.  Hopefully it will lead to some future commissions.  I also had fun watching all the varieties of dogs being entered in the show - who knew so many lived in the area, I never see them when I am out walking!
And speaking of dogs, someone has a birthday today - Clovis is 12!  He had a venison sausage with his breakfast, which went down well, and I think we'll treat him to a small birthday cake later on.  He's classed as an elderly dog, but still keeps charging around - yesterday he was crashing through a bean field after some small creature. I could see the plants moving ahead of him but whatever it was got away when Clovis became hemmed in by the tall, dense bean plants.  Silly old thing!
It seems to be a good year for butterflies - in our garden at least.  This Painted Lady was fluttering around the mombretia and buddleia the other day.  I think that's what it is - do correct me if I'm wrong!

Next on the needles - champagne!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Lacy Lights

I knitted these little jam-jar covers from a pattern in this month's Simply Knitting Magazine - very cute and quite simple to make.  The idea is to put a tealight in the jar and have that lacy prettiness shine through. I've used delicate 3 ply baby yarn for these which meant adapting the pattern a little to make it fit my jars, but it worked OK.  I miss knitting lace - maybe soon I will get to knit a shawl using some of the great yarn I have accumulated in my stash this year!
Putting a spray of roses in a bottle that used to hold rose syrup makes me smile every year - I think I'm a fairly simple thing too....

Monday, 30 June 2014

Other People's Art

I bought this at the weekend - I just love it!  It's a print of a painting by the wildlife artist Pip McGarry, who had a small exhibition in a local gallery.  We went along for a look as he is one of my favourite wildlife artists, and I was lucky enough to meet the man and have a chat for a while.  He has now convinced me to enter my work into the Marwell Zoo annual exhibition - I have two weeks left in which to do it!

I rarely buy other people's art - not because I don't want to, but because it is usually out of my budget. However, I could not resist this - it was a toss up between the tiger and some zebras and the tiger won.  I now have to wait for the frame to be made before I can put it on the wall, which should give me plenty of time to clear a space for it!

We put up the model hawk yesterday on the porch roof in the front garden.  It was strangely quiet this morning when I woke up - not sure I like it and I am feeling kind of guilty at frightening birds away!  However, it was nice not to be woken up by ear-piercing screeches!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Weekend Round-Up

Yes, this is finished - I went over it carefully yesterday and could find nothing left to do.  So I signed it, trimmed it down, varnished it and now it is ready to go.  Now I have to find something else to paint, preferably in splashy watercolours.
I've been knitting a couple of these - each flower is no more than a centimetre across.  They are for the animation, so of course have to be in proportion with everything else.
Also knitted this tiny little chap - using 3 ply baby yarn this time.  I like how he has turned out, fits in the palm of my hand.  Have a look and see the difference between him and the last one I made:
Same pattern, just a radical change of yarn. 
We've been having some differences of opinion with the local magpies lately.  They seem to think we need to be woken up at 5 a.m. with some ear-piercing screeching outside out bedroom window, we beg to differ.  So we initially joked that we needed a stuffed bird of prey out there to scare them off - turns out, you can buy model hawks all over the place for that very purpose.  Now we just have to figure out how to attach it to the porch roof.

If it had been in place yesterday, we wouldn't have had the little drama played out at 7a.m. in what used to be a car park.  We heard the most awful noise, every bird in the neighbourhood was squawking at the top of it's voice, magpies, crows, you name it, it was perched out there shouting.  We went to see what the commotion was about and discovered a magpie had managed to get itself wedged in the builders' wire fencing - he could have slipped through the gap, but one leg was twisted around the wires and he was gripping it for dear life.  So after failed attempts at untangling him and getting pecked badly (I was bleeding!) we got the wire cutters and a tea-towel, and cut him out.  Off he flew, unscathed, nary a thank you.  However, it was quiet out there at dawn today....
Having lost the tomato race, there isn't such a sense of urgency - but I do have one lone tomato coming. The others are flowering or getting ready to flower - we'll get there eventually!