Friday, 30 January 2009

At Last!

Finally, the finished horse! It hasn't really taken me this long to complete, I just had to wait for the eyes I ordered from e-Bay to come - the first lot were lost in the post and I had to wait for replacements.

He's a bit wonky, and the angle of his ears make him look a little bolshy too, but I'm quite pleased with my first attempt at this type of toy. Next time (if there is a next time!) I will use an easier-to-sew fabric - the faux suede was very tough both on the sewing machine and my fingers.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Three Black Dogs.......

I'm having trouble this week......maybe it's the weather, maybe it's just me, but I cannot seem to get myself motivated. I feel in desperate need of some warmth and sunshine in order to kick-start my creative 'mojo'!

This is one project on the go - a brown horse made from faux suede using the zebra pattern kindly sent to me by Cat at Raggy Rat. It's's really complicated.......took me over an hour to cut out the pieces...oh dear! However, going to attempt to sew it together today, and let's hope it doesn't end up looking like it should be sent down the knacker's yard! (In olden days, aged or decrepit horses were sold for a pittance to the knackers who would then bump them off to be made into dog food & glue.......hence the phrase 'knackered'.)

If you are part of the Sacker clan, you may want to avert your eyes here, because it may spoil the surprise.....

I have been given a lovely commission to do of two Munsterlander dogs, beautiful creatures. But they are predominantly black.....I don't know if any other artists out there have trouble with black animals, but I do. I don't know why, it just makes me feel I am not up to the job for some reason and if it wasn't for a deadline, I'd be doing some serious procrastination right now! I'm OK once I get going, I'm OK when I walk past and think 'that looks all right actually', but trying to get the motivation to get up and start, that's another matter. All that black is so scary!!

And the third black dog? That would be my saluki who is not enjoying the wet weather and slinks around looking at me balefully as though I am personally responsible for the flooded fields, seas of mud and the indignity of having to wear a bright red coat for his twice daily walks. I tell him it's not much fun for me either, hiking in the driving rain, my welly has sprung a leak and I then have to clear up all the muddy splashes up the walls and the dirty paw-prints on my carpets...but he doesn't care, it's still my fault!

P.S. Finished the commissioned shawl for a lady in the USA - turned out rather well, even though I say so myself!

It's knitted in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, 'Pearl' and is to be worn at her wedding. It will be like wearing a piece of gossamer....

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

My New Friend....

I came home from work today to find a long lumpy bumpy parcel waiting on my doorstep. It was my giraffe! I'd arranged a swap with Cat at Raggy Rat, and we coincided posting so that we'd get our parcels on the same day. I have no idea what I'm going to do with a flowery giraffe, I just know he's gorgeous! She has also passed on a pattern to make a zebra - looks difficult but I'll have a go. Thanks Cat!

The other day while buying supplies for the commissioned shawl, I also bought some balls of Rowan Big Wool Tuft in the sale as I could not resist the organic look of it. It took about an hour to knit up a scarf but about three days to dry it after blocking! It is very warm and I like the little tufts of wool! Soon to be on Etsy.

The shawl is well on it's way and looking simply beautiful - I'm using Rowan Kidsilk Haze in 'Pearl', so it will look like gossamer when it's done.

I'm in a rage today - all because of a trip to Morrison's supermarket. Am I the only one reduced to an incandescent fury by their incompetence? The shelves are always missing the things you want, and should you dare to express a liking for a product, that's the cue for it to disappear from their range, never to be seen again. I wanted dog food today...I buy 7 big tins of Chappie Chicken & Rice per week, so a fair amount. For two weeks they haven't had it and I've had to haul it home from the local Waitrose, putting my back out in the process. A manager last week told me they were expecting a delivery 'tomorrow'. A manager this week told me they've taken it off their range completely....there's a surprise. Then I picked the till where the woman in front hadn't activated her debit card......ARGH!

Think I'll go for a long walk with the (hungry?) dogs to calm down.....

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Charcoal Kitten in Felt

Sometimes you find the things you need in unexpected places. I was searching our local 'Aladdin's Cave' shop - you know the sort, they have everything from plastic boxes to light bulbs to colouring books - and what I wanted was some tissue paper. While rummaging under a shelf in a crate, I discovered a huge hoard of felt in colours not generally seen in the craft shops - not the ones I go to anyway. So I came away having spent a few pounds more than intended but feeling very pleased with myself.

The first project to use the felt was the above kitten in a lovely charcoal shade. Looks great, was absolutely impossible to sew - black thread on dark grey felt.....who knows what my stitching looks like, I certainly can't make it out! But as there are no gaping holes with stuffing poking out, I'll assume it is all ok. I made his bed with blue felt, lined with some of the Japanese fabric given to me at Christmas. Now all I need to do is make his tiny accessories and send him off to Etsy.

Talking of Etsy, my mind is still blown by what happened last week- I've had a shawl in my Etsy shop for months now but on the exact same day, not only did it sell but someone else commissioned me for another one. Weird!

So my next project will be the shawl, and I am very excited about some fabric I ordered from Etsy last week with ants on it(!) - can't wait to get that!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

More Amigurumi Fun!

They are quietly taking over my house! Latest additions to the Amigurumi menagerie are the little dachshund above - he is so cute - that ID disc is about the size of the head of a thumb tack, so you can guess the size of the rest of him! He's off to try his chances on Etsy....

Sybille had a point the other day - there don't seem to be any cats in my crochet zoo, so I decided to rectify that. This one is my own design - well, I pinched the body shape off the previous beagle, the head is a generic crochet ball, and the rest I made up as I went along.

I quite like how this turned out, with it's cute little pink nose - I think I may make some more in other colours now I have the hang of how to make them. She's off to Etsy too...bye,bye!

After about ten days of 'rest' from painting, looks like I'm back in the swing of things with a lovely double dog picture coming up. Just as well as I can't seem to sit around for any length of time any more - I appear to have lost the art of sloth!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Little Beagle

Now I have the time, I am starting to play with all my new Japanese books. This is an Amigurumi beagle - so very tiny but full of character.

Please note the tri-colour markings - intarsia crochet is not easy at the best of times, let alone this small! I can't wait to do more!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Little Dogs & Blue Potatoes...

I've been working on three little knitted dogs for a swap with Cat at Raggy Rat, and completed the last one yesterday.

They are for her daughters, so each one is different - one white and fluffy, one reddish boucle, and one plain brown - all with their collars and tags. In return, I'm getting a flowery giraffe - I just fell in love with it!

Here are the dogs again............well, doing what dogs do!

I also completed another painting of more blue potatoes, although have to confess they look rather like something else that dogs do! Incredible the colour of the inside though. This time, the author told me I was free to cook and taste these, so I peeled a couple and boiled them up. Stained my fingers blue in the process and the cooking water turned a fantastic Viridian green.

They remained a deep purple with slight white flecking and were absolutely delicious! Very dense, fluffy texture, and the taste was intensely potatoey - that's all I can say, that the flavour was far more concentrated than normal potatoes. Of course, having discovered how nice they are, you know I won't ever be able to find them to buy in the UK!

I just have a couple more potato paintings to do over the next few weeks - there will be quite a break before the fresh ones are harvested and it starts all over again.

Finally, I crocheted a little MP3 player holder just for me out of paper tape yarn, trimmed with a vintage mother-of-pearl button. My son gave me this player and it is great for when I am painting - no more changing CD's or having to disentangle myself when I have to get up - but it was a pain jamming it into my jeans pocket and I have dropped it several times. So now I can sling it round my neck and not worry!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Better Late Than Never...

I made this second Amigurumi crocodile over a week ago but just could not get a decent photograph of it - for some reason the mouth just caused a white glare with my camera. So today my son got some proper pics done with his super-dooper camera and I can finally put the crocodile on Etsy.

I've made a few alterations from the original Japanese design - I've used 'cat' plastic eyes rather than fabric circles, and continued to make raised crocheted nostrils rather than embroidering them on. This time I have used green yarn and a smaller crochet hook, causing the crocodile to be slightly smaller than the first one I made, but tighter and more 'professional'.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Archie & Murphy

Here is the latest commission, finished and ready to go off to it's new home. This has been executed using Derwent Drawing Pencils, with white acrylic for highlights. Whilst this was a bit of a 'rush job', I thoroughly enjoyed doing it - it feels like a very long time since I painted horses and they are one of my favourite subjects.

Other than one more potato picture, this is the last of the commissions for now. I must admit to having mixed emotions - I'm really looking forward to getting on with some painting for 'me' as it's been about six months since I did any personal work, but being so busy with so much commissioned work has been exciting and challenging. It has proved just how much I am capable of, which has been both surprising and very satisfying - despite running around like a headless chicken, squawking about being tired and not having a spare minute anywhere, in fact everything did get done in time.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Wow Potatoes!!

Yes, these potatoes really are this colour inside and out - isn't that amazing? I can't help wondering what blue mashed potato would be like.....

This is almost the last potato painting for the winter until they start growing again in the late Spring. I shall miss doing them - they are kind of therapeutic and very undemanding without being dull. On the other hand, I look forward to the chance to get on with some wildlife painting - it feels like a very long time since I painted something just for me. I just have the double horse portrait to finish this weekend and then I am 'free' and with a trip to the zoo coming up at the end of next week, I am looking forward to getting some reference photos ready.

However, if any of you have been patiently waiting for me to finish all the outstanding work before asking for a commission, then now is the time to jump in as I will certainly not refuse!