Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hola Hernando!

What an undertaking this was! The past two days have been spent struggling with this little chappie. This is another pattern from Amigurumi Knits, and probably the most complicated one in the whole book.

I was very impressed with how the pattern has been worked out though. The shell was knitted with an incredible amount of increases and short rows, as well as knitting both sides of the cast on row, but when it came to grafting it all together, it spiralled into a shell shape like magic, and the increases cleverly form lines across the whorls just like a real shell.

Each leg was knitted separately and has two rows of pale pink picked up stitches which were then kitchener grafted together to make a lifelike underneath to it. The main claws had the nippers picked up and knitted separately again.

In the pattern he has knitted eyes, but I always opt for realism, so have sewn two little black beads instead, as well as knitting a small cluster of barnacles on the side of his shell.

I am really pleased with how this has turned out, it was well worth the sheer concentration it took to make.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Ollie Octopus

This week I bought an amazing book, Amigurumi Knits, and this is my first creature using the splendiferous patterns within. The patterns looked incredibly difficult, but once I got started and translated the overly explained instructions into proper English it was quick, easy and very effective. I think the author is just catering for every knitter's ability, whether they are complete beginners or more experienced, which makes for a lot of long explanations but once you learn to sift out what you need, the patterns are really cool.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Beachcomber Wristwarmers & Mist Scarf

A while back I was very kindly sent some assorted yarn by Jo in Cambridge as a thank you for the many portraits I did for her and her family over the winter. I've been quietly looking for some suitable patterns to use it for, and this week had a bit of a brainwave while fingering the simply gorgeous Louisa Harding 'Cinnabar' cotton mix yarn. I have knitted up a pair of 'Beachcomber Wristwarmers' from the Coastline Designs edition of The Knitter magazine. I think you'll agree that this beautiful yarn and the unusual design have combined to make a very special pair of wristwarmers...and I am keeping them all to myself! (Notice how they cunningly match the bamboo top I made last week....

However, if you would like a pair of these, do get in touch as I would love to make them again - the pattern was really quick and very effective to do.

I've also been knitting this scarf using Sublime kid mohair yarn in a simply wonderful retro shade of blue. Much as I love this, it is going up for sale on Etsy as I only have one neck and an awful lot of scarves already.

Further to the previous post, that zebra painting is still causing me grief. I framed it yesterday as it is going into exhibition this morning. Could I get it clean inbetween mount and glass? Could I *&$%£^&*!!!! And to top it all, as I was struggling taking the painting in and out & cleaning it again and again, I managed to snap the corner off the glass. Ever seen a grown woman curled up in the foetal position on the floor moaning 'no no no NO!'? It was half an hour before the shops shut and I rang our local glazier who is a total superstar and had a piece of glass cut and ready for me ten minutes later when I screeched to a halt outside his shop.

So the darn thing is now framed and off today to the Fleet Art Society Exhibition which is being held this year at Calthorpe Park School, Hitches Lane, opening tomorrow until Sunday 31st May. If you'd like to come and see what all the fuss is about, as well as my cheetah & herd of zebra paintings, do drop in - all three paintings are for sale. I shall be demonstrating on one of the days - not too sure which yet - but it certainly will NOT be a painting of a zebra!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Glad This One Is Over!

Perhaps some of you were wondering about the lack of artwork on here lately? It's not just because I can't display the potato illustrations I have been doing, but also because the above painting has been such a sod to produce. Sometimes the creative process is described like giving birth - if that's the case, then this was a 12 lb baby, born breech and with the cord round it's neck and wearing a hat of thorns!

The problems started when I had just about finished painstakingly painting all the stripes on the main zebra - about a week's work. I decided I didn't like the line of trees I had painted in the background and tried to lift them out with water and a paintbrush. Unfortunately, the paper I had used (The Langton Extra Smooth) doesn't like having paint removed and clings on to it for dear life - the trees remained. So then I had the bright idea of using some bleach, diluted just a little bit, which I put in a small ceramic pot. (Can you see where this is going? It's excrutiating and I cannot believe my own stupidity!) I painted this solution over the trees carefully, but nothing changed, they were still there, dark as ever, and I leaned back to have a better look......knocking the bleach all over the painting, zebra and all. Luckily I always have a wadge of tissue on my desk and mopped up the mess as quick as I could and then walked away in despair, not wanting to see the destruction I had caused!

So, a couple of hours later I went back to see what I'd done now that it was all dry - there were several splashes on the zebra that had removed the paint but nothing like as terrible as I'd imagined. But the trees were still there.

Two days later and in a better state of mind I came back, patched up the zebra and tried to paint over the trees with some white gouache. Failure. Tried to paint over them with white acrylic.....three coats later and the damn trees were still showing through, mocking me. By this time the sky was also looking patchy and there was a horrible white line at the top of the trees. Tried to re-paint the sky with blue the colour too dark and it looked awful. And you could still see the faint outline of the trees. Painted over with a paler blue acrylic.....still too dark. Painted over with yet paler acrylic - trees disappeared but now the paint was so thick it made a ridge on the horizon. Walked away in despair.

Two days later, got out my new box of scalpels and it was a case of do or die. The sky and trees were removed with no mishaps and I painted a new pale, tree-free sky, and carefully glued the bottom section of the painting on.

The rest of the painting went as well as it could, although towards the end I realised that the line of trees had been ok I put them back in, but much, much lighter this time!

I have never had such problems with a painting - possibly in the past it would have been consigned to the bin, but I'd already entered this in the Fleet Art Society Spring Exhibition, due in on Wednesday this week. Now let's see how I can bodge up the framing.........

Simply Gorgeous..........

We are very lucky in having this wonderful 'pond' a mere five minutes drive from our house, and yet we have only re-discovered it this year. It's become a bit of a ritual for me and my daughter to save up all the old bread throughout the week and take it here to feed the swans, geese, ducks and anything else in need of a Sunday morning snack. There are usually well over 20 swans to be fed as well as the other water birds.

Today we sat in the hot sunshine (yes, hot - we may even have got a little sunburnt) and fed the birds. I actually got my sketchbook out and made some passable line drawings of them, much to the swans' curiosity. We saw two grebes dancing their display to each other, and a huge heron flew across the pond in front of us. Does the British Spring get any better than today? Not much!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Bit of Knitting for Me This Time...

I have just finished knitting myself this summer top from a pattern in this month's Simply Knitting Magazine. It's knitted in Sirdar Just Bamboo in the shade Blue Grass. It was very easy to knit - the skirt looks complicated but is just a thick rib which then has the centre stitch of each little panel slipped off the needles and allowed to run to make a ladder.

I've road-tested it at work today - didn't get snagged on anything, didn't go baggy, it's nice and cool despite being quite heavy, and the skirt does a lovely swishy thing while you walk. I'm considering making another one in a different yarn maybe...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

I Love Japanese Fabric.........

........need I say more? How adorable is this lot? Absolutely no idea yet what I will use it for, I just had to have it. Suggestions gladly received...........

P.S. In answer to Sallie's question, I buy these fabrics from Mwendas on Etsy - there are lots of shops selling Japanese fabric, but this is one I've found that has the cute animal designs I like.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Spring Cleaning and What I Found!

The state of the dining area in my kitchen was appalling....boxes and bags of all my crafting supplies and finished projects stacked high, the dining table barely visible under a sea of beads, papers, sewing machine and the like. It had got to the point where even if we wanted to sit at the table, there was no way we could even approach it. So this morning I had the time and energy to have a go at it all. Two hours later, it's still very jam-packed, but marginally tidier, a lot cleaner and we can sit down without fighting through cones of wool and boxes of acrylics (not all the mess was mine by the way - we are a family of arts & crafters & could do with a studio each!)

So although I'm not completely satisfied, (we wouldn't make the pages of House Beautiful in a million years) I am very pleased that in the process I managed to find a few hidden treasures made several years ago which should really be up for sale. The main one being the above knitted linen lace shawl that took me months, I mean months, of very hard work. I wasn't such an experienced knitter back then and lace really was a labour of love.

It is very soft and delicate, has a lovely natural scent from the pure linen yarn, and looking at it I can hardly believe it came from my own fingers!

The other couple of finds are two necklaces which I may well have shown here at the time but which have remained hidden in a box as I think they were a bit too 'out there' for the ladies in my little Hampshire town! Check them out on my Etsy store and see what you think - if you like fish or sheep, they may be just the thing for you!

Saturday, 16 May 2009


A little crochet cupcake, going on to Etsy to look for a good home.....

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Over the years I have represented my dogs in all sorts of way - paint, pencil, felt, knitted....and now crochet!

My saluki is such a lovely looking dog, it is always fun to create something in his image. I had this bright idea when I got home from work yesterday - little did I know it would take up the rest of the evening until nearly midnight. That's what you get for being such a stickler for detail I guess.

He's made using the basic Amigurumi techniques, but I have also sewn on extra yarn to his ears and tail to get the right look. He has a red felt collar with a tassle on it too - all good salukis must have their tassel (except mine, he hates them and chews them off!)

He has fully jointed legs and the pose of him in 'play' position makes me laugh - it really does look like the actual dog!

This little saluki will be on Etsy later on - everyone should have the chance to own a saluki, especially one that doesn't raid the bins, run off after wildlife and hog the sofa!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Busy Bee.....

It's been a busy couple of weeks but I don't seem to have produced much I can show I'm afraid. I'm back painting the potato illustrations but have been instructed to keep them under wraps until publication, so I really can't show any more here. I've been knitting like mad, but it's a summer top for me and taking ages so nothing interesting there.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend out in the garden planting out all the many seedlings I have raised this spring and generally tidying it up as it is all growing so fast at the moment. That
climber with the huge leaves on the pergola is a kiwi vine - I'm hoping it will finally fruit this year.

I'm sorry - this wasn't the most exciting of posts, was it?

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Tiger Two

This is the second tiger, now up for sale on Etsy.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Giveaway Result

I have just put all the animal names in a very tall bag to ensure there was no way I could cheat and pick out the one I liked the look of - I am always a bit tempted to do that! But there was no reason to do that today because the first piece of paper I drew out had the word 'Tiger' written on it, which was one of the ones I really wanted to have a go at anyway. So well done Sallie, I shall be crocheting away at your tiger this weekend and after you e-mail me your address, he will be winging his way across the Atlantic all the way to Texas!