Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Jasper - a Very Good Dog

Last night we had to make one of the hardest decisions anyone has to make in their lifetime if they are a dog owner. My little terrier, Jasper, has been failing for a few weeks now which was only to be expected as he was nearly 15 years old - a damn fine age to reach for any dog. He started to lose the sight in one eye over the summer, and a couple of months ago began dragging a front foot a little when he walked. We took him to the vet just before the end of October as he had started circling on the spot at times and appeared to be in the early stages of dementia. We were given some high strength vitamin & Omega 3 tablets to see if they would help - which they did for a while.

However, the week before Christmas it became very apparent that it was more than just dementia as his sight deteriorated, his legs became more unsteady, and the circling grew to obsessional proportions. During the snow he became incontinent and more and more confused. Last night he would not settle and began to cry and whimper constantly, and we decided the visit to the vet planned for today could not wait and we took him to the emergency animal hospital.

It would seem that he had a probable brain tumour and also a mass in his stomach - possibly further cancer. We were told all the options by the wonderfully kind and sympathetic lady vet, but faced with putting Jasper through a barrage of tests, prolonging his discomfort in order to find out if there was any hope - a very slim possibility which could then have been followed by surgery, chemo-therapy and the prospect of perhaps only giving him another two or three months - we chose to give him the dignity of a swift and quiet end.

If you knew Jasper, you would understand this was the kindest thing to do. We got him thirteen years ago from Battersea Dogs Home in London. We had tramped round the whole place just about before coming across him sitting quietly in his cage together with a manic fox terrier which had already taken a chunk out of poor Jasper's ear. We weren't allowed to take him there and then - we hadn't allowed for the fact that Battersea insist all members of the family meet the dog before it is re-homed and we had left my children at home with the intention of surprising them with a dog. We had to wait for two more days until we were all free to go again, keeping our fingers crossed that he hadn't been re-homed in the meantime as Battersea would not 'reserve' him for us.

However, he was still there and we got to take him home, sitting in my lap the whole way with a stop off at McDonalds where he devoured chips like there was no tomorrow. He had been found a month previous wandering the streets of London, very, very thin and although there was an address on his collar, no-one replied to the dogs home's enquiries. I think all through his life he never quite got over having been a hungry stray - he'd eat anything and everything, sometimes without even chewing.

Right from the start he was house-trained, quiet and well-behaved - most of the time. I don't think he'd see the countryside before, as he would stare out of the window at the trees, sky and birds for hours on end and when took for a walk, he would charge off after squirrels and be found half an hour later looking up a tree at the empty space where that squirrel used to be. Thankfully he grew out of this behaviour and turned into the perfect dog...apart from still scarfing down any rubbish in the street, particularly chewing gum!

The children adored him, as did just about everyone who came across him. He was bright, friendly, lively, gentle, and lots of fun. Fetching a ball was one of his major pleasures...and then diving past you at the last minute with the ball still in his mouth, expecting the fun of a chase. He'd join in other dogs' games of fetch too and had to be bribed with biscuits to give the ball back.

We had several unsuccessful attempts to get him a companion, but finally acquired a saluki pup and from the minute that pup came in the house they were inseparable. I got very tired of 'little and large' jokes while we were out an about! Four years later, the saluki ate something poisonous while on a walk and died within a few hours. We were distraught, but so was Jasper and after weeks of him moping after his best friend, we acquired a second saluki pup - and sure enough, as soon as it entered the house, Jasper perked up and decided this pup could be his best friend too.

And so it has been for the past thirteen years, thirteen years full of twice daily walks, charging through the fields chasing rabbits; giving cats a darn good scare if they dared to show their face in our garden; snuggling on the sofa with his pal; doing anything to score a biscuit or hoover up a crumb; summer nights sitting on the patio watching the frogs; winter nights using my balls of yarn as a pillow; being my daughter's 'cuddly-bunny' without ever complaining. Even a few months ago he was still running full tilt round a football pitch chasing rabbits and keeping up with the saluki.

So you see, a future of confusion, blindness and being unable to walk straight let alone run was not what we should have consigned him to. However hard it is for us, it was the right decison for that sparky, bright little dog. A little dog maybe, but he is going to leave a very big hole in our lives.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Be sure to watch out for Santa, but don't let him see you awake when he calls or you'll get no presents!

Nothing is better than lying in a pile of wrapping paper and playing with your presents on Christmas Day....

These are old photos, but still cute. Have yourselves a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I Know It's Not Exactly Festive.....

...but I did enjoy painting this! It's the Granary Burial Ground in Boston, site of Paul Revere's tomb. I was fascinated by the tiny dark gravestones when we went there, especially against the bright autumnal leaves, and have been itching to paint it for weeks now. It's a simple watercolour, just using a couple of sable brushes.

Potato Number 99 awaits in the fridge....the penultimate spud! I wonder if I can get it done before Christmas....

Jingle Hell...

I'm sure those of you living in countries where two inches of snow does not cause the infrastructure to grind to a halt in less than an hour are going to laugh your socks off at my tale of how I spent yesterday........

We had a bit of snow last Friday, it was quite pretty and a fun send off for the children on their last day of school before Christmas. It lasted over the weekend and yesterday we decided to take the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping while my daughter spent her last day at her craft placement before the holidays. We went to Basingstoke and I had a lovely belated birthday lunch....we noticed afterwards when we were pottering round the shops that it had started snowing a bit outside, nice big flakes but it wasn't really settling.

Three-quarters of an hour later(2.30 pm), we decided to head for home in order to be there in plenty of time to walk the dogs and be there for my daughter's return at 4.15. However, when we got to our car which was on the roof of the shopping centre's multi-storey car-park, we were met with a huge stationary queue of cars waiting to leave. So we joined the queue and waited to go....someone told us that there had been a crash due to the snow on the ramp at the bottom of the car park and we would have to wait until it was cleared. So we waited......and waited.....moved about fifteen feet...one hour passed....I decided to ring round to arrange someone to either be there to meet my daughter or a different drop off point for her taxi.

The snow continued to fall, and we continued to wait....two hours....moved ten feet......three hours...beginning to panic as my daughter's taxi had still not made it home from what should be a ten minute drive.........four hours....couple of people in front gave up, parked their cars and left on foot...we moved twenty feet.......discovered my daughter(who has Down's Syndrome) finally made it home after THREE hours in the taxi with no way of going to the toilet - enough said. My partner and I debated what on earth to do, whether to abandon the car or take the chance of getting out and at least on to a road. After five hours, we called it quits and parked the car fifty feet away from where we had started out and walked to the train station, where luckily we caught a train back to our town after 20 minutes, although we had to walk 2 miles home in freezing slush as there were no taxis. We got home at 10 pm, tired, cold, wet, aching from carrying heavy shopping bags (3 kilo bag of dog kibble anyone?) and thoroughly fed up.

This morning we took a chance and caught a train back to Basingstoke and managed to complete our Christmas shopping and recover the car ( which still had to be dug out by two obliging chaps with spades) and drove home through the slush and many abandoned cars by the side of the dual-carriageway.

What we cannot understand is why two inches (yes, TWO inches) of snow can cause complete and utter gridlock in a large town. Roads weren't gritted, traffic jams built up to ridiculous proportions, hundreds of people were stranded overnight - we were lucky in managing to get home. How on earth to you people in Scandinavia, Canada and North America cope? Please give some lessons to the British, who for the second time in less than a year allowed half the country to grind to a halt over a bit of snow......which we knew was coming......it's pitiful.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Hare Today...

In amongst all the knitting and painting for other people, I managed to complete a jumper for myself. This is from a pattern in November's Yarn Forward magazine. It was knitted from the top down, which makes life very easy as there are no seams at all, the only difference being the hare pattern was worked 'upside-down' - not a problem.

This has been knitted in green arran weight yarn with the hares worked in baby camel wool. It is nice and warm, which is just what was needed today among the flurries of snow here in rural Hampshire!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Half a Century..........

Tomorrow is my birthday - see the title to get an inkling of just how old I'm going to be! Never thought I'd get this far.....

The above is part of a most unusual bouquet I received this evening...can you guess what kind of flower it is?

Does this help? Yep, honest to goodness cabbages! Very beautiful though.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Not a Potato in Sight...

Just a little watercolour commission completed today in plenty of time for Christmas. It was a lot of fun using watercolours again after so long, despite it being a subject I wouldn't normally tackle - hope they like it!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Ticking Over Nicely.....

Well, I'm just about recovered from the madness of last week after a quiet weekend and an enforced day off work yesterday due to my daughter's streaming cold.
The above necklace was made last week but didn't sell......I may modify it a little bit before putting it on Etsy. There will be quite a few new items on Etsy soon when I can get some decent photographs - of we ever see daylight again the the UK that is. We've had I don't know how many weeks of rain, cloud, rain and heavy rain.

Meanwhile, guinea pig production is in full swing as are the final few potatoes......chill that champagne, the end is nigh.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Thank You!

Well, that's the Christmas fairs over and done with and I can relax for a little while. Thank you to everyone who bought items from me, I'm glad that so many little toys went to good homes and will be loved and played with. I can't quite believe the popularity of the guinea-pigs - they sold so fast and I have orders for more. Thank goodness they knit up fairly quickly!

Please note that I am always willing to take on commissions for any craft featured here - I will consider pretty much anything knitted/crocheted and will only refuse if I genuinely can't figure out how to make something or if the time-limit is too tight. Bearing that in mind, anything needed for Christmas should be ordered NOW, and I wouldn't be able to guarantee getting anything to the USA on time with the postal service being as it is this time of year.

Thank you again lovely customers!

P.S. Please note that I am having a special offer on all purchases made through my Etsy shop between now and Christmas. Any order, no matter how small will receive a free knitted/crochet scarf randomly chosen from my current stock. It's time to have a bit of a clear out and rather than have them hang around in storage, I'd rather they went off to be worn and make space in my house for me to make some more!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

A Bit of Skullduggery......

Some more last minute pieces as I received some larger skull and bone beads in the post yesterday.

A bead and thong necklace........

....a handbag dangle.......

...my personal favourite, a skull and bones bracelet........

...and a mini-skull and bead bracelet. These are all for sale at the Christmas fairs today - not very Christmassy I know, but I like to fly in the face of convention. If you see anything here that you fancy, let me know as even if I sell the above pieces, I can replicate them for you.

It's taken a week of very hard work, but I have everything priced and packed and ready to go - wish me luck!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

That's Better!

All guinea pigs have been sold - I am taking orders for more, but please leave plenty of time if you require them for a special day.

Hooray! The squeakers arrived just in time, so the four little guinea pigs have been stuffed, had their voices inserted and been sewn together. Just for good measure, I've given each of them a carrot and a lettuce leaf each to keep them sustained until they find some new homes.

If you fancy owning one of these or one just like it, e-mail me to the address above and I will be happy to oblige. They will cost £12 including p&p.

p.s. sorry about the pretty awful photo - it's very early in the morning and dark as night outside, so relying on electric light isn't the best way to photo these.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Four Sad Guinea Pigs.......

Just for Laura, this is as far as I have got with the guinea pigs who are sadly awaiting squeakers from America.....who knew the mail would take over a fortnight? If the squeakers have not arrived by Thursday, these little chaps will be sewn together and sold as they are and I will just have to knit some more.

Monday, 30 November 2009

.....I'm Going Slightly Mad......

Having not done any craft fairs since the summer and been otherwise occupied for the past few months, I didn't realise quite how much work would be involved preparing for a couple of Christmas fairs! Not only have I been replenishing my stock at a very fast rate, but I have also had to sort out and re-display all my jewllery for ease of transport, as I have foolishly put myself down for two fairs that run consecutively on Friday afternoon/evening at two different venues.

Above are two more little purses, finished and ready for sale. The doggie one comes with a felt brooch (all my own design) and the ant one has the mascot sewn on to the front of the purse.

I have spent two days sewing necklaces to boards so that I can whisk them from home to car to venue to car to venue to home.

Not the prettiest way of showing off my work, but it sure saves time and energy when setting up and packing away!

The two Christmas fairs are at Tavistock Infant School, Fleet 3 - 4.30 p.m. and Elvetham Heath School, Fleet, 6 - 8 p.m. Come and say hello if you are in the area, and you might also find some original Christmas gifts.

Still to do........price mascots, sew up four disembowelled guinea pigs - if the squeakers ever arrive from the USA - make 3 guinea pig beds & carrots, have a minor breakdown, paint a picture, make some more phone charms, make a necklace, have a little cry, pack it all up ready to go, and on Saturday....fall over!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Hmmmm, Tricky.....

For a while there I thought there was a bit of a 12 Days of Christmas thing going on with the felt mascots, but no way could I have produced four of the above lemurs last night! This one was surprisingly difficult, particularly sewing the head together with the plastic backed eyes in and keeping the folded double thickness ears in place at the same time - much pinning, tacking and swearing went on!

But we got there in the end, and he even has his own banana for a quick snack. He has a ribbon loop on top of his head through which the ball-chain loop is attached so he can be hung from your bag/knapsack or used as a keychain.

Three Blind Mice......

...well no, actually they are hamsters! These tiny pets are about an inch tall with the tiniest of glass eyes. I have as yet to decide whether they will be phone charms, mascots on a chain, or just sold as they are.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

You Cheeky Little Devil!

I'm very tired, my fingers are sore, but goodness I've been prolific lately! The latest felt mascots are a little cute devil, dressed in red and looking very surprised with himself......

...and a little blue angel who looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth!

Look at his teeny wings!

They have both been made with the intention of being for sale at the two (and only) Christmas fairs I will be setting up shop at this year. However, if you don't live in the vicinity and would like to snap these up beforehand, just e-mail me at the above address. They cost £6 ($10) plus p&p. I can also make more for you in different colours and different poses - don't be afraid to ask!

On the art front, still slogging away at the potato painting.....down to single digits now, three more if I am not mistaken. Can you imagine how much champagne will be consumed when the final brushstroke on the final potato picture is made?

Drop Dead Gorgeous....

Whilst in Salem on holiday, I bought 2 cute little Day of the Dead ceramic beads from a tiny pot on a shop counter, one for me and one for Sybille over on Magpie Magic. I made mine into a bracelet which I wear all the time and the more I looked at it, the more I wanted to make more jewellery with these beads. But where to find them......

Well, it took me over a fortnight of trawling through various sites that Google threw up, and poring through every 'skull bead' listing on Etsy and e-Bay and being thoroughly disappointed by what was on offer, before I finally found a new listing on e-Bay with the exact same beads. So I ordered a selection which arrived today. I know I get obsessive about certain themes, and Day of the Dead is the current fixation, but aren't these just the cutest things? Just the thing for phone charms, dangles, earrings, bracelets........can't wait to get started!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

And Some More......

Three more little fabric purses with their mascots/charms. The Jack Russell at the front is actually a brooch, and the little left-hand dog is awaiting a key-chain....come on Royal Mail, I'm awaiting lots of supplies that I need NOW!

Long-term readers will remember this time last year I was killing myself with trying to finish 24 puppy & kitten paintings for a pair of calendars. I discovered them on sale yesterday here and here. So that's my relatives' Christmas presents sorted then....

Monday, 23 November 2009


Two little felt mascots to go with two little panda purses.
I'm a bit concerned about the left-hand one, he looks so worried.....

Sunday, 22 November 2009


Poor Sofia, it's taken so many weeks to complete her, but at last she is done. Painted in watercolour, Derwent Drawing Pencils and a touch of acrylic.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Saturday Sewing Marathon

For the first time in I don't know how long, a Saturday devoid of potatoes to paint! So I put the time to good use and got some sewing and finishing off done. This little bear has been cold and naked for months - now he has a smart hand-knitted jumper with felt heart applique.

This little Jack Russell pup has been homeless and hungry for months - now he has a bed and a good supply of food to keep him going.

Eight purses, lined in felt and sewn together awaiting their zipper charms or buttons.

All in all, a very productive day!

By the way, the bear and puppy will be on Etsy later on in the day.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Cupcake Update

So far so good..........

.....and they popped out of the silicone cases a treat and were iced & sampled.


Had a go with my camera - not as scary as it looks, although I have as yet to go through the CD Users Manual. My old camera is also a Fuji Finepix & virtually idiot-proof....so just right for me!


I don't cope well with change, but sometimes it's time to try new things....like these silicone cup-cake moulds. I've been eyeing up silicone cake moulds in the shops for months now, but have held off buying any as they were expensive and I might not like them. However, last week at work The Book Man (a company, not an actual book man!) had these at £3 per pack - how could I balk at that price? So this afternoon I am going to see what happens when they are put to use....let's hope they don't end up a gelatinous blob in the bottom of the baking tray....

Likewise it was time to admit that my faithful old digital camera has seen better days, especially when it kept shutting down just when I wanted to take decent pictures in Boston.
So thanks to Boots & their better-than-half-price offer, I now have a spanking new Fuji Finepix....which may stay in it's box for a few days until I can figure out how to use it from the instruction manual. Instruction manuals make me want to cry a little bit. They make things look so complicated - all I really need is a nice person to actually show me how things work and I'd pick it up straight away.

Monday, 16 November 2009


All too quickly Christmas is almost upon us, and with it the usual round of school fairs. Having signed up for a few, I realised that with all the potato painting and various other commissions this year, I haven't got very much new stock. Time to start sewing.....five little purses done so far, fully lined with matching felt and just awaiting some zipper charms to complete them.

Here are the two little pets finished and ready to be sent off, together with their food bowls, carrots and lettuce. Excuse the bad picture - light just reflects off the white wool and it's far too windy to go outside for a photo session. I am planning more guinea pigs....but with squeakers this time.

Finally about an afternoon's work from completion is the dog portrait I have had on the go for weeks now when I had spare time from potatoes. It is for the mother of a child I help at work, and he firmly put me in my place last week when I dropped into the conversation that the picture of his dog was nearly finished.

"Well, you've had enough time to do it!"

I would point out that when I was given this commission there was no time limit attached and the lady was well aware that the potato illustrations came first, and I have done 91 potatoes.....but to argue this point with a 6 year old? Best not!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Don't You Love It When That Happens?

I've often said that it is an excellent creative nudge when you get asked to make something you wouldn't normally do. This is a mini-me of a late guinea-pig (it has ceased to be...) which I gaily agreed to take on without the slightest idea of how I was going to do it. However, with a bit of pattern cannibalism once again, with some initiative thrown in, here he his and I love him! I think there should be more, a whole herd of guinea pigs....do you think they would be good sellers?

Monday, 9 November 2009


How to construct a knitted rabbit hutch....that has been the conundrum on my mind the past few days. In the end I used a cardboard box, whittled down to sized with some cunning scissorwork and masking tape, which was then lined with Ingres pastel paper in a nice woody brown. I spent an inordinate amount of time knitting a box cover for it - first a rectangle, then picking up stitches on each edge separately and knitting the sides, which were then sewn together. This had to be then slipped over the box and stitched all round with about half an inch of the knitwork folded over into the box - ouch, my fingers!

The hutch door caused me more problems - I had cut the right shape out of card and then cut out the central hole. How then to cover the remaining shape...... in the end I resorted to winding yarn around it as tight as I could, using tacky glue to keep it in place, with a bit of jiggerypokery around the corners. The mesh was sewn and woven with grey wool, with a bit of fabric stiffener applied overnight. I still have to work out a nice child-friendly catch to keep that rabbit in! Oh, and he has a knitted boucle straw-coloured mat inside to represent...well, straw!

Next on the agenda, how to knit a lettuce leaf.......

I finally finished the complicated chunky lace pullover for myself - there is no way I could have completed it before going on holiday, the sewing together alone took me a whole evening. It is knitted in pure alpaca yarn, called Peru I think, in the shade 'blanket'. I didn't notice until blocking it that the yarn formed quite distinctive stripes even though it was all from the same batch. Whether or not this fades with washing, I don't mind as it is a quite nice effect.

I love the way the extra long sleeves with their 'U' shaped finish go almost right over my hands - a definite plus in the cold weather, expecially for someone like me who suffers from cold fingers at the best of times. No photo of me modelling it - far too cold today to be taking clothes off and on!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Blue Jellyfish Two

Another watercolour painting, this time on some Cotman paper but I still managed to end up with a streaky wash, probably due to trying to add another layer of paint to an already perfect wash - grr! However, I quite like this one, it has a watery feel to it.

I think that's enough jellyfish for the time being, before it gets boring. I have some paying work to get on with anyway - yup, a couple more potatoes and that poor neglected pet portrait started too many weeks ago.

If anyone would like to take these jellyfish paintings off my hands, please get in touch as they are for sale.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Here he is, a mini-me based on an actual rabbit. I have been wondering for a couple of weeks how I was going to achieve this, and in the end it has been with the use of three different patterns for three different animals, selecting the bits that looked rabbit-like and adapting them accordingly. I embroidered on the distinctive markings and gave him button jointed legs so he is fully poseable.

Now the conundrum is how to knit a hutch that is going to keep it's shape - will need a little cardboard inside I feel.....

I also have to knit a mini-me guinea-pig which should be fairly easy...famous last words. If any of you out there would like your pet miniaturised in yarn, feel free to contact me but if it is for a special occasion, give me plenty of notice as I am one busy lady!

Yawn.....more holiday snaps....

I'm afraid due to one of my dogs vomiting copiously several times yesterday on just about every rug in the house and having to be rushed to the vet, any idea of painting had to be shelved. (The dog is fine today by the way, just old and rickety....)

Also, as my holiday snaps were ready yesterday, I spent the evening putting them into an album so only spent an hour or so fashioning a rabbit's head with knitting - I have been commissioned to make a miniature of someone's pet. Who'd have thought I'd ever make money immortalising pets in wool.......

So I am sorry, but here are a few more picturess of Boston. Our choice of subject matter is sometimes a little obscure, but I hope you can appreciate what appealed to us in these photographs.

This is the West India Goods Store in Salem - the original building, and just like something out of Little House on the Prairie!

I spent a great deal of time hand-feeding sparrows! I love all birds and the novelty of these little guys being so tame never got old.

Instead of walking round the Freedom Trail, you could go on a Segway tour - how mad is that?

This was just beautiful.

Macy's - we eventually had a look inside and were a little disappointed to see it was just another department store, albeit very plush and lovely. I think I had visions of it being like a movie set inside or something!

One of those pictures that just seem to work, the clock tower in Boston at night.

We got a little lost while hiking the Freedom Trail and stumbled upon a busy fruit and vegetable market. When I looked at the road, I discovered this amazing brass rubbish set into the tarmac - brilliant!

As no dog has been ill today and there are no outstanding potatoes to be painted, I'm off to try another jellyfish picture....