Sunday, 30 November 2008

I'm So Excited.....

Those of you who have been reading this blog since it started will know that I have a bit of a knack for growing exotic plants. About seven years ago, my other half gave me as a present a packet of Bird of Paradise plant seeds - he knew I liked to try and grow anything a bit out of the ordinary. From the whole pack, I think three thrived - one got given away and I kept two. One never grew very big and after all this time still only has four leaves on it but seems happy enough. The other, in pride of place in the sunniest spot in the house, grew fast and huge. I did my research and according to some sources, these plants should flower from about three years old.....well, it didn't. Other sources said five years....well it didn't then either. This plant has been nurtured, trimmed, fed, re-potted, had it's leaves wiped (although not lately - please ignore the gentle dusting of canary seed fallen from the birdcage hanging above!) and produced NOTHING. Every new spike was carefully scrutinised and discussed and then we've been disappointed as it's turned into another leaf. Over the past year I have been resenting the ruddy great thing, sitting there smugly not flowering and requiring Herculean feats of strength to move it as well as the problem of where to put it each Christmas when we want to put the Christmas tree in its place.

But a couple of weeks ago, it put out a spike that didn't look like previous ones. I got a little excited but was brought back down to earth when my other half said it may well turn out to be a deformed leaf (we had a season of deformed leaves one year). But no, it has become taller and is filling out and is definitely a flower bud - WOOHOO! So this year it is forgiven and will stay by the window while we buy a small fake Christmas tree to put on the table instead - there is no way I am jeopardising this momentous event!

This weekend I am pulling out all the stops to get as much art work done as I can before collapsing into a snivelling heap. I'm still painting potatoes.....this is No.26 (whimper...) which I managed to complete in an afternoon yesterday.

To reward myself, I then knitted with my favourite yarn in the world, Noro Kureyon, and made a frilled neckwarmer. Don't know what to do with it - I am so tempted to keep it for myself...but is there anyone else out there who would like it too?

Time to step away from the computer and get on with some work.......

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Thunderstorm Curly Crochet Scarf

Finally finished this scarf - it's been a series of running out of materials, first the yarn and then the crystal beads, but we got there in the end! It is crocheted using Rowan Kidsilk Night yarn in the 'Storm' shade which describes it perfectly. There were lowering rain clouds all around the horizon here today and they were exactly this colour! It has a fine silver thread running through it, just enough to give it a tiny sparkle.
I used the curly-wurly pattern as basis to make this - crocheting a long chain then a row of double crochet followed by a row of two DC's in each previous DC, thus causing the scarf to twirl in a spiral. I then made a simple lace pattern with a clear crystal bead on the point of each picot. It looked a little thin when this was done, so I crocheted a very simple lace out of chain loops down the other side of the original chain.
It really is beautiful - nothing to do with my workmanship, just the yarn, it's colour, fluffiness and the way the beads look like drops of rain.

This will be on sale at the Christmas Fair at my work tomorrow and if it doesn't sell there, then it will be on Etsy by the weekend.

I'm on the downhill slope now with the calendar work - must really put some hours in over the weekend and try to get further ahead. I am so very tired though - I think I have produced more art work in the last 4 months than in the past 4 years!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Lighter than Air........

This is the shawl that started my current love affair with Rowan Kidsilk Spray and subsequently Kidsilk Night yarns. I've used this pattern before - last time was using the pineapple fibre ramie - and it always knits up beautifully with not as much effort as you would think. It's more time consuming than anything else, but has the advantage of decreasing gradually as you go which fools you into thinking you are knitting faster!
The yarn is a soft pink with hints of lavender and peach, and really is as light as air. Combined with the fluffiness of the mohair, it makes for a delicate yet warm wrap.
It is wide enough to be wrapped around your shoulders and tied in a knot - I have one in navy that can even be worn over jeans and looks great. This will be going on to Etsy very shortly.

I have two other kidsilk project on the go - a curly lacy crochet scarf in Kidsilk Night, which has a thin sparkly silver thread running through it, in the shade 'Storm' which is a purply blue exactly the colour of storm clouds. The scarf is trimmed with clear crystal beads which to my mind represent the rain drops. Looking very pretty - had to put it on hold while I searched the globe for another ball of this colour which arrived this morning.

The other project is a lacy knit scarf in a deep blue Kidsilk Night, this time threaded with blue-ish AB seed beads - still very much in the early stages but looking lovely already.

I just love to knit.......

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Beachcomber Chic!

I've been picking up yarn from all over the place lately - the above scarf was made from some gorgeous discontinued Rowan yarn called Seashore that I bought on e-Bay. It is a sort of tubular cotton net with a cord attached and put me in mind of fishermen's nets. So I knitted a simple garter stitch scarf on huge wooden needles while threading shells, beads and wooden fish on to the yarn so they are incorporated into the knit. I then knotted a fringe on to each end, adding more flotsam and jetsam and knotting the strands into a net pattern, but also leaving it a bit random. It has turned out rather special - it puts me in mind of something a character in Waterworld might wear!
The above beret is made from an Adriafil yarn called Baba that I bought at I Knit in London. It's a pattern I made up as I went along! The yarn is very thick and slubby, nice and warm and in lovely autumnal colours.

Both items will be in my Etsy shop shortly.

I visited Pack Lane Yarns in Basingstoke yesterday on the hunt for another ball of Kidsilk Night to finish a project started from a ball I picked up on e-Bay - with no success. Trust me to pick another discontinued yarn...I did find some elsewhere on the internet though. And did not leave the shop could I?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Featured on Etsy!

Well, not on their front page, but someone has seen fit to include my Toucan Treasure Chest in their 'Treasury' collection. Whatever gets it noticed I am grateful for - check it out here.

I've been working on one of the calendar paintings - a Saluki this time. Since owning a Saluki I have become very aware that they are sadly under-represented in the calendar/card/memorabilia markets, which is a shame as they are such beautiful and elegant dogs. So this is my small blow to redress the situation - there will be at least one calendar out there with a picture of a Saluki in it!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Dazzling Scarf & branching out into Felt Real Estate....

I've had this scarf completed for about a week now, but only just got around to ironing it! It is made in some fabulous hand spun/dyed yarn from Colinette that I bought at I Knit a couple of weeks ago. I just love the way the two colours fizz against each other and the yarn itself is thick and slubby, so cozy! It will be on Etsy later on....unless you want to snap it up beforehand!

N.B. While I love I Knit to visit and buy yarn from, their internet service is not so good - wrote to them over a week ago enquiring about buying more yarn and still no reply - not good business practice guys!

I finished the little felt cafe last night - what a lot of intricate stitchwork! The front has a sticky-out awning over it's big window with a chair & table on view within; an embroidered sign, windows with window boxes and a little yellow door with a red door knob.
Each side has it's own set of windows with little awnings on the lower ones.

Even the back has windows and a continuation of the row of flower bushes around the base. It even has a properly aligned chimney pot sewn on the top although I appear to have pushed it off kilter while photographing it - whoops!

I'm not sure what the Japanese book recommends stuffing it with as theirs was very flat and perfectly square - mine has been stuffed with kapok and I put a pebble in the base to weight it down and keep it upright. This too will go on to Etsy later on.

Off now to go and do some public painting at the Fleet Art Society exhibition - not as scary as it sounds, a chance to get some work done at least!

P.S. Sold a painting at the exhibition - bye-bye Flamingoes!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Hot from Japan!

My son and his girlfriend have been in Tokyo on holiday for the past fortnight, and despite possibly having been inadvertantly married (just don't ask!), they had a great time. He did, however, fail in his mission to bring me back some different and exciting yarn....not that he didn't try, but just didn't find any. It was a long shot anyway!

He did bring me back the above felt mascot book and fabric, as well as some proper green tea, which I am well pleased with.
This is the page that sold the book to him and funnily enough, the Pony Express penguin with his little raggedy rabbit are my favourites too - can't wait to have a go at making them!
These are cute, but I really don't know what anyone would do with some felty leeks.......
And because I just can't leave things alone, even when I am on my knees with exhaustion, I started to make the little felt cafe last night and carried on until past midnight...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Not Enough Hours in the Day..

Time is definitely not on my side at the moment. I have so much to get done but so little time in which to do it. However, I have been working on my calendar designs - the above is a detail from the December puppy - he looks a little like one of my dogs did before he started to get grey and decrepit!

At the day job we have come across a little boy who started school this last September and only turned 5 last month. Already he draws like this - hopefully you can see the detail if you click on the photo. He holds his pencil like a stabbing stick and draws so fast without even thinking about it. I have been given the task of mentoring and teaching him - what an absolute pleasure it is too. Today, after over an hour of drawing and colouring, I had to physically pry the pencil out of his hand to send him back to class in order to go home! It's all very exciting - I'll keep you informed of his progress.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Tweedie Beanie

Here is an actual finished project from this week. It's a feminine beanie hat with picot edging and two appliqued knitted flowers & leaves with pearly bead centres. It's made with a ball of pinky-lilac tweed effect pure wool that I bought in London last week. Very cute when worn - got an elf-like quality to it, if you know what I mean! When I get the time, it will go on to my Etsy shop.

Back to being incredibly busy now that school is once again open and I have to fit in the day job, painting, etc - you know the story by now! This week I have completed another calendar picture and must start some more potatoes. I also have several knitting projects on the go - a lavendar shawl knitted in Japanese cotton Gima, a bolero knitted in Japanese paper yarn, a scarf in Italian varigated wool and have had a first attempt at knitting up the Jelly yarn - that's tough on the fingers! I can't wait until after Christmas when (theoretically) I can have a break!

Monday, 3 November 2008


One potato..............
..........chew potato!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Yarn Safari...

I had my first proper day off for a very long time yesterday and spent it up in London with Sybille of Magpie Magic on the hunt for new yarns! We went to I Knit in Waterloo, a fabulous little shop with many exciting and different yarns, books and accessories as well as comfortable places to sit. It is run by two very helpful gentlemen, and it was interesting to see a man sitting and knitting a full size sweater - I've not seen that since I was a child and my uncle (also a skilled potter and artist) used to make all his own knitwear.

We initially darted around like children in a sweetshop, but after calming down and some sensible thinking, we set about gathering more stash. It was quite funny to see the difference in taste - Sybille's yarn all colour co-ordinated and textural while mine was very much the brightest colours - I just can't resist anything with a vibrant hue! We did both buy some of the Jelly yarn - a whole ball of bright coloured plastic yarn similar to the stuff children use to make 'scoobies'. It will be fun to see what we come up with individually.

Oh yes, and it didn't break the bank - a pat on the back for restraint in the face of incredible temptation!

Lust for yarn satiated, we pottered off to Covent Garden for a look round the shops and some lunch. I picked up this cool Japanese bag (Any suggestions what to put in it? Best so far is my lunch!) and some Bacon Mints.......I though they would be little mints in the shape of pigs or something, but when my daughter and I had a taste of them on the train home, they do really taste of bacon..and mint. Hmmmm........the jury is still out on that one!

So I feel refreshed and rejuvenated after having a whole day away from any kind of work - back to the grindstone today with a pet portrait, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to some 'serious' painting - not a spud or soppy kitten in sight!