Friday, 31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

I don't know why I'm saying Happy Halloween - we don't tend to celebrate it other than to carve a pumpkin. My kids are too old to get hyped up on chocolate and personally I just don't open the door to the local urchins as they are grim enough without feeding them any more E-numbers than they get at home! (Yep, I'm an anti-social curmudgeon!)

But I thought you'd like to see the pumpkin my son whipped up at lunchtime - designed and carved by him.
I've also done some.........crochet this time! It's a fantabulous scarf that I just cannot photograph well enough to get the full glory of this yarn - Zanzibar, the name alone is a ticket to the exotic! It is the softest eyelash yarn, it feels like feathers and has a golden thread twisted around it and patches of delicate gold tinsel. The actual yarn in a deep crimson and pink with hints of a rich green, so luxurious looking. I have crocheted a simple curly-wurly scarf but this yarn turns it into a starlet's boa, you can't help but feel glamourous when wearing it. It is also really long, so can be swept over the shoulder as you flounce off to your Rolls Royce.....

I'm off to London tomorrow.....there's this new yarn shop at Waterloo.....they stock Habu yarns....oh dear, there go the savings!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Finished in plenty of time

I'm very aware that most of the posts here lately have been knitting related and perhaps a little boring. I have been working very hard over the past few weeks but haven't felt I could really show the finished artworks as they are for publication elsewhere. However, as the above needs a little tinkering before it goes off to be made official, I thought it could have an airing. This is one of eight calendar designs I have completed over the past month or so....only 16 more to go!

I was terrified at the prospect of taking on so much work - never been so busy painting before - but (touch wood) it seems to be working out OK. The house is reasonably clean, dogs are walked, the day job is attended, and although I'm wandering round in a bit of a fog everything that needs to get done seems to get done. So what if there are a few cobwebs in the corners or dust on the picture frames!

One more potato picture to paint and then I can actually take it easy for a day or so before starting all over again.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

...Matching Wristwarmers

Here are the matching wristwarmers to the cabled collar. They took longer than anticipated, mainly due to my lack of concentration. I thought it would be a good idea to knit them both at once on the same pair of needles using two balls of wool. So far so good....then I got half way through and realised I was making two right-hand wristwarmers. Hmmmm...
So then I had to make two left-hand wristwarmers, but on the plus side, this means I get a pair of these to keep and one for Etsy. They got their first outing today, a very cold and frosty morning. I discovered that not only are they very warm indeed, the design leaves your hands completely free - terrific for dog-walking. The large frills over the hands seem to keep the heat trapped, and as the only restraint is a thumbhole, you have full movement of your fingers.
So I would thoroughly recommend them - and they look fab, like woolly evening gloves!

On the downside, it may have been a very pretty frosty morning, but it has meant the demise of half my garden. There was a profusion of nasturtiums, busy-lizzies, even sweet-peas (yes, I know it is October!). I had three large Echiums that I have cultivated from seed which were looking like they might eventually reach their full 12 ft maturity. Now it all looks like a giant has had a big snotty sneeze over everything, all slimy green and half dead. At least I had the foresight to move the two banana trees to relative safety against the house wall and they seem to have made it through the night. Sometimes I wonder whether it's worth being a gardener...

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Cabled Collar....done properly!

Here is the frilly collar knitted in the correct yarn, which gives it a totally different look. This is more outdoorsy, definitely to be worn under (or over) a coat for added warmth. I'm very impressed with my daughter's photography and think I may give her all my work to photograph as she obviously does a better job than I do!

There will be a set of frilly wristwarmers to go with this...I did give up on them last night as I was falling asleep. I don't knit and paint at the same time (wish I could!) but never just sit down without something in my hands to do. It has got to the stage now where I can't just sit down and do nothing - just as well at the moment with so much to be done!

The collar will be in my Etsy shop very shortly.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Frilly Interlude...

I've had this yarn for a while now - it is baby camel which really appealed to me, the idea of baby camels being brushed/shorn for their fleece. You would have thought it might be a bit whiffy (we've all smelled the camel enclosure at the zoo....) but it's not and is incredibly soft and warm.

Originally I was going to make some wristwarmers, but while going through my vast collection of old knitting magazines, I found this delicious pattern for a neckwarmer instead. It's a bit of a nightmare to start off, having 288 stitches on a circular needle, and I made a couple of mistakes to begin with which hopefully don't show. The end result however is simply adorable, looks very feminine when worn, a bit like an Elizabethan ruff. Because of the errors and the fact I knitted it on smaller needles than specified which means I have to really pull it over my head, this one is staying with me - but I have bought some more suitable yarn and am in the process of making a cream coloured one for sale in my shop.

You can see in the background all the detritus from my painting.....I'm a messy so-and-so but that appears to be how I work best. Still labouring every spare minute with the various commissions and counting the hours until the half-term break (5, yes, only 5...) when I have a week off the day job and can really catch up with everything.

Monday, 20 October 2008


I've been tagged by Laura....oh no!

The 'tagging' rules are as follows:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

I'll do the 7 facts but will have trouble finding 7 people to tag in return..I'll do my best!

1. I can speak fluent Greek after living in Athens for 13 years.

2. I HATE eggs - can't get a mouthful of boiled/scrambled/poached/fried egg past my lips...but I can eat food that has egg mixed in, like cake, quiche etc - go figure!

3. I cannot ride a bicycle - not for want of trying, just got no sense of balance. Can't wear high heeled shoes for the same reason!

4. I once had a pet chicken that I raised from a chick bought off a stall in Athens - it used to sit on my lap to watch tv of an evening. Tried to do the same with a pair of ducklings and was astounded at how fast they grew and what a mess they made, although having them swim in the bath was a laugh...they had to go to a farm rather quickly.

5. I was on the Channel 4 tv programme Watercolour Challenge in 2000 and got as far as the Hampshire Regional Finals. Lack of sleep and a herd of bucking zebras at Marwell Zoo scuppered my chances however, and I produced a rubbish painting and went home clutching my consolation prize of a box of paints and a mug that I filched.

6. My partner used to be a Legionairre - he did indeed run away to join the Foreign Legion.

7. I once went into a cage of wolves - one of the most memorable experiences of my life, stroking a wolf while being excited and terrified at the same time. Unfortunately, we didn't have a camera with us on that day so I have no record of it, which is a terrible shame.

About 600 Miles of Crochet.....

I have not been resting on my laurels lately, but I have been struggling with an enormous project. This pattern was in a magazine a while back and I fell in love with it, thinking that as it was fairly simple crochet patterns, it would be quick and easy to make. Easy yes - quick.....that is another matter. It is an Empire line tunic crocheted in navy blue mohair (from my freebies of a few months ago) with a split up the front, bell shaped sleeves and a ribbon tie.
The skirt is made up of a repetitive pattern of shells, but as I am fairly tall, I had to do about 6 extra rows in order to make the length.
The bodice and sleeves were a simple V pattern, with the shell motif as edging. The velvet ribbon tie under the bust was my addition. It was worth the effort as it is very flattering when worn (hides a multitude of sins!) but I shan't be making another one just yet, even though I would love one in a cotton yarn.

I've also been painting every spare minute of the day. If you want to see the pictures, you'll just have to buy the calendar next year!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Caught a Tiger by the Tail.......

I saw this yarn in an article in this month's Simply Knitting magazine and just couldn't resist - those colours, what's not to like? It is hand dyed merino sock yarn in the shade Roaring Tiger from Violet Green Yarns. But rather than make socks with it (I suffer from the dreaded second sock is enough!) I fancied making a hat. This is the end result, an adult sized beanie which just happened to grow a knitting tends to take on a life of it's own!

That used up half the ball......I think there may just have to be some matching mittens or wristwarmers.....

I'm quietly running myself into the ground with the painting at the moment - I'm even dreaming about getting on with the current workload. I'm not complaining about the doing of it all - it's what I've always wanted - but I do wish I could be left alone to get on with it. I'm considering making a giant DO NOT DISTURB sign to hang on the front door to ward off all those cold callers who have suddenly decided to descend on our house this week....

Friday, 10 October 2008

Seventeen Down.....

........eighty-three to go? Dear God, that many?! I thought it was a while since I posted some taters - these are the ones I have just completed which were a bit more interesting to do as not only were they in a pile, I also had to speed-paint yesterday to get the cut sections done in one sitting. I'm not bored with potatoes but I am a bit worried that painting so many makes my work a bit mechanical - just as well I have the puppies and kittens to do in between as they are so very different in content and style.

I'm off to eat some.........pasta, no potatoes for me today!!

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Secret's Out!

At last, I can reveal what I was working on for a few weeks off and on during August and September. Penny & Toby over at Natural Attrill recently acquired Des.....

...a rather lively kitten. This is about the best photograph of him they sent me, the rest were a blur of fur!

They asked me if I would paint his portrait on a wooden box for Laurence, Penny's husband, Toby's dad. So I did! This is how it turned out....

This is the top view - I added a long length of red yarn for him to play with.

Here is another side view...

Jasper was very interested in my photography and managed to sneak in shot when I wasn't paying attention!

Oh dear, someone came and made a hole in the box one night...........

...look, there he is, the little blighter!

Here he is in close up - painting him inside the corner of the box seemed such a good idea...until I put it into practice! Talk about having to be a contortionist! I lined the box with pure silk upholstery fabric, and cut a matching hole to make it look as if the mouse had tunnelled all the way through.

The whole thing was painted in acrylics - I did the background first with several layers of indanthrene blue and emerald green, each layer adding to the depth of colour. Then the cat and mouse were painted as if it were a proper portrait - again a bit of a struggle having the box either on my lap or jammed between my knees. I only despaired once, when I had to carry the picture on over the side and corner of the box as well as keeping the perspective of Des's back legs correct. It took ages but I got there in the end.

I was really very sad to see this go, I had become very attached to Des the painting, but I am so glad it has gone to a lovely home.

If anyone else wishes something similar done..............please can you wait until after Christmas!!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Little Ming

Yet another Nuigurumi pet - a little Siamese cat this time. Easier than the otter, but no less effective. This will be on Etsy later...

Here's a picture showing how he fits into your pocket perfectly!!

Aren't I Cute?

No, not me, the sea otter and her baby! This is the first mascot made with a pattern from my new book and it turned out a treat. Looks simple but was quite fiddly, especially getting the muzzle gathered, stuffed and sewn with no ends poking out. But I had the first 2 episodes of Heroes Vol.3 to watch whilst doing it, so passed an enjoyable evening.

I am feeling much better after yesterday, after a fun morning writing about apples, cooking apples, helping children to sample cooked apples (can you guess our week's theme?) and holding up a large screen for twenty minutes to assist the school photographer....

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Meet Jade the Mermaid!

Here's a little something I finished off yesterday - another mermaid mascot. Her name is Jade ('cos she's green....) and she is ready to be put up for sale on Etsy. It's great fun making these little mascots - they don't take long and they are so effective, it's instant gratification!

Goodness knows I need something to cheer me up this afternoon. Some of you may know already that I work in an infant school part-time. On a Wednesday I teach art to the older children as part of their Enrichment afternoon. After today, I am seriously re-considering this part of my job. The class I had are average 7 years wouldn't think that would be too much of a problem, especially when they are split into two groups of 15 at a time. However, in this one class there are two autistic children, one with severe ADHD and a few from dubious backgrounds who like to rabble-rowse when it all kicks off. And I am expected to deal with this all on my own......I am NOT a qualified teacher, just a special needs assistant. Within the first minute, one boy rugby tackled another to the ground while the others came in shouting, wandering about and generally ignoring me. It deteriorated throughout the afternoon, with another boy literally climbing the walls and then walking out when - after asking firmly several times - I yelled at him to SIT DOWN. Totally demoralising and I really wonder if it is worth that extra £60 per month to put up with this.......what on earth has happened to today's children? I have seen this change come about in only the past few years and it is very depressing.