Thursday, 30 April 2009

I'm Exhausted!!

Many months ago (just over 4 to be precise) my friend Sybille over on Magpie Magic sent me a birthday gift of some beautiful delicate green yarn. It was very special - I can't remember now what the combination of fibres is, but I think cashmere, fairy wings and unicorn hair are in there somewhere.

It needed a very special pattern to show off it's beauty, and after a few false starts (a boring scarf would just not do!) I found a lovely shawl pattern in the magazine Yarn Forward. I knitted half of it before discovering I had made a very serious error - one small line of instruction missed but it threw off the whole design. Not one to give up, I started again and really worked hard to get it done properly - rather discouraging at times as the pattern starts with just 8 stitches and ends up with so many it took me 2 whole hours last night to cast off!

But I think you'll agree it was worth the effort. It is probably riddled with mistakes but hopefully the laciness of it hides them well enough. This one is just for me and I have absolutely no intention of making any more unless I get offered an awful lot of money!

So now I can return to business as normal and give my poor eyes a chance to recover!

By the way, you have one more day to enter the giveaway mentioned below - I'll be picking a project on Saturday so that I can work on it over the weekend. Some very interesting suggestions, a couple of which I might just make anyway later on for the fun of it!

P.S. Just noticed the giant dog poo in the middle of my path in the photo - I'm sorry!! I'm not going out there again, it's raining......

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Crochet-Crochet...and a Giveaway

Well, it's back to the day job this week and not much time for excessive crafting. Also I am back painting potatoes so no wildlife painting for a few days either. But I did manage to finally crochet another turtle from the pattern I made up. This time I have used a green 'camouflage' yarn for the shell and top parts with a grey yarn for the underneath. No so sure I like the varigated yarn as it takes away from the pattening on the shell, but quite effective nonetheless. He will be up on Etsy later in the day when I return from Bring a Dad to School Day at work....gulp!

I also whizzed up a little crochet penguin keyring for a friend of mine whose birthday it is today. (Happy Birthday Sue!) This is also my own 'design' - how can I describe a crochet sausage with bits sewn on as a design really!

While making this, I thought up a twist for a giveaway. I said quite a while ago that I planned a giveaway but then put it to the back of my mind. What I want from you are suggestions for an animal or bird you would like to have as a keyring and when I pick out the winner randomly, I will have to make that creature for you and you will get it to be your very own. Please be kind though - I'll have a go at almost anything but some oddities may just be impossible to recreate!
I'll give it a week and my one stipulation is that I get more than 5 comments (not from the same person either!), preferably more than 10 in order to make it interesting, so tell your friends!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Keeping Watch - Completed Cheetahs

Here is the completed painting, finished yesterday afternoon. It has taken what seems like an awfully long time, but before last year's manic run of commissioned work, this is how I used to paint, slowly and painstakingly. I don't know if the results are any different but I feel a lot happier in my mind that I have done my absolute best and no corners have been cut.

This has been painted using acrylics - Liquitex this time and I was very happy with the results although it did take a while to get used to a new brand. The colours seem to be richer and I was able to create the hues I wanted with very little effort. The only annoyance was that they weren't as opaque as I am used to and needed going over several times in some places, but in the long run I think this contributed to the richness and depth of colour.

This painting is for sale, but first refusal has to be given to the lady who supplied me with the photographic reference - I am so grateful to possess over 300 photographs from her holiday in Namibia, so many of which are going to be used for future work. I plan to start another one today - squeezing as much into my last day of 'freedom' before the day job resumes many weeks until the next school holiday?

Saturday, 18 April 2009

That Was Quick!

After the enormous struggle it took to make the horse using this pattern, I was surprised to have finished this zebra in one day - admittedly, I used the sewing machine for quite a bit of it and also due to the cancelled zoo trip I had a bit more spare time, but even so that was really good going.

I used the zebra print felt that I bought a while back which luckily lent itself really well to the pattern shapes and the stripes are almost in a natural position. I'm a bit funny that way, I like things to look as realistic as possible.

The pattern just used plain black eyes, but I decided to give them the more natural zebra 'eyeliner' effect to make them stand out more against the stripes - and for authenticity. He will be up for sale on Etsy later on today.

Overall, I am very pleased with how this has turned out and now that it is not so scary using this pattern, I may make more - but perhaps horses this time as that was the only zebra felt I have for now.

Nearly finished the cheetah painting - this afternoon should do it if I am not disturbed! Just in time, as the potato illustration starts up again this weekend.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Can You Guess What It Is Yet??

We were supposed to go to the zoo today......but it rained....a lot. So I've brought the zoo to me and am finally making that zebra. It's very complicated.......

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Key to My Heart......

Having come across some fantastic little vintage keys at a car boot sale over the weekend, I was inspired to make a couple of necklaces. Felt a bit creaky as it has been a very long time since I have wielded the pliers, and the bead boxes were a tad dusty, but everything was still there! The first was a simple cluster of various charms - a red glass heart, a key, a little ceramic dove and a clear glass cross, with a few pearls & beads thrown in for good measure, all hung on a plain black thong.

The second was a bit more ornate, with several glass hearts, a bigger brass key, as well as a piece of chain and a tiny key charm, again on a simple black thong. Both will be for sale in the not too distant future, check on Etsy or e-mail me - both are £15 plus p&p.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Cuddly Bunny & Cupcake Pendant

I've not done much crafting over the Easter break - too busy with the family as well as a bit of titivating the home while I have the time. However, I did manage to whizz through a crochet Amigurumi rabbit, made in a soft slubby cotton yarn. He's got some vintage buttons for eyes that I picked up at a boot sale this weekend, and a simple embroidered nose & mouth. He'll be in the Etsy shop later on for approx. £6.50- unless you'd like to nab him now, in which case e-mail me!

I forgot the other day to put up a photo of my little glass cupcake pendant made for me by Laura Sparling, clever lady that she is. I love this, it really makes me giggle - check out her blog for how to get your own!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Getting Things Done......

It's been a productive week all round - thank goodness for school holidays! I've been working every day on the cheetah painting and I feel it is coming along quite nicely. With all the 'rush jobs' I've done over the winter, I'd forgotten just how slow and time-consuming one of these wild-life paintings can be. It's lovely to be able to consider every brushstroke and work over a piece until I get it right, but I have a constant niggle at the back of my mind (which must be ignored!) that I'm not painting fast enough. I'm very conscious that I only have a couple of months until potatoes start to be dug out of the ground and my illustration job will take off again for the summer and all personal work will have to be put on the back burner for three months or more.

I've also been getting along famously with my sewing machine for a change. It hasn't thrown a hissy fit once and neither have I, so between us we have made three more little bags/purses from Japanese fabric and now they are awaiting their felt mascots.

Finally I can show the little crochet cupcake I made for Laura by way of a small thank you for the cupcake pendants she made for me. She has called him Colin (oh dear....) and I'm sure he will enjoy his new home. I am considering making more of these for sale in my shop (or to order) - what do you think?

Crafting has to be put on hold for a couple of days due to Easter and my loved one being home from Belgium for the weekend. Creativity will have to be channelled into cake making and lamb roasting instead! I miss Greek Easter and all it entails - red painted eggs, Lambarda candles and church processions, and best of all a whole lamb roasted on a spit over a charcoal pit dug in the garden, all washed down with an excess of beer and bonhomie. Makes the English Easter seem very pale and lacking somehow.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


I've had this Japanese fabric for a while and had a plan in my head but never the time to wrestle with the sewing well as 'breaking' the sewing machine for a while (long story involving me taking out a bobbin to untangle it and not putting the bits back correctly afterwards - I spent days trying to re-assemble partner took five minutes to do it properly. Well, he is a mechanic!)
Anyway, yesterday I finally bit the bullet and cut a little bag out of the fabric as well as some pale blue felt lining and stitched it all together with a zip - looks almost professional! Then in the evening I made a little felt ant mascot (another Japanese pattern) and stitched him and his purloined cherry on to the bag. Going on to Etsy very shortly.
I did make another bag with a different fabric but haven't made it's applique yet. There will be a fair few of these now I have got the hang of it and the time to play.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

You Can Wear a Rainbow!

Who would believe one ball of sock yarn could make something so pretty! Here is the finished scarf, which has a cunning set of buttons on one end and eyelets all the way round so you can shape and button the scarf in a million variations. This is a pattern called 'Wisp' which can be found on - a brilliant site with so many funky patterns completely free.

Much as I love this, there are only so many scaves and wraps one person can use, so it will be on Etsy very shortly.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Feeding a Habit.....

I've had a rough week this week, work has been tough, bills are coming in, the dog was ill and painting time was minimal. However, I came home to a parcel on the doorstep the other day that really cheered me up....although at first I was a bit confused and wondered if my yarn habit was so bad now that I had reached the point of not even remembering what I've ordered off the internet! But no, it was a lovely gift from Jo Sacker, the lady behind most of my portrait commissions this winter. She'd picked out the above selection of yarns....and they are gorgeous! Now I have the delicious task of planning what to use them for. Thank you Jo!

In the meantime I couldn't resist starting with the gloriously coloured sock yarn by SchoppelWolle - it is called Tropical Fish and you can see why. Too good for socks, so it is to be a lacy scarf - the photo doesn't begin to pick up the richness of the colours.

Finally, the postman just brought me these, 2 fabulously kitsch pieces of Japanese fabric from Mwendas on Etsy. Perhaps this Easter holiday I will have the time to actually use some of the many fabrics I have accumulated!

Thursday, 2 April 2009


I've swapped stripes for spots in this one! This painting is in acrylics - I'm using Liquitex for the first time and they are quite different to the Daler Rowney/Winsor & Newton acrylics I usually use. They are much more like oils in texture, quite slow drying too, and have taken a bit of getting used to. I like the effect though, worth the time it is taking. Hopefully with the Easter holidays coming up and a fortnight away from the day job, progress might be a bit quicker.