Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

May 2011 make you jump for joy!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Time To Re-Stock!

I've not been entirely idle over the Christmas break.  I have painted yet another jellyfish - I do enjoy painting these - which is now for sale in my Etsy shop.  There is a slight difference with this one - the background is a rich turquoise achieved using some cheap but very effective paints I picked up on Etsy a few weeks ago.

It is also time to begin making some more little knitted pets for sale - most of them were re-homed over the past month, so my shop is looking a bit short of woolly creatures at the moment. Numbers will be built up soon, once I've shaken the lethargy that has crept up on me since Boxing Day!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Things I Didn't Get For Christmas..........

Now I had a pretty good Christmas, got lots of good presents which I really like and can make use of.  But there are two things which I really, really, REALLY hanker after and just cannot get hold of because I live in Britain.

Don't ask me why, but I really want to drink my cold drinks out of a jam jar with a handle.  I saw it in a movie once and it took my fancy big time.  But can I find one in the UK? No, they are rarer than hen's teeth.  If  I buy one from the US, they either come in sets of 12 (I assure you, I am the only person in our house that yearns to drink out of a jar, so 12 is just silly) or the postage is astronomical.

The other thing I am after is a bit more practical, and that's a Sharpie Liquid Pencil.  I see them on American websites, they have been there for months...but here in the UK? Nope.  I have asked in every art shop I've been in over the past months and check on line every so often, but they haven't made it across the Atlantic yet.  I don't want to go to the expense of getting one sent over and then discover I hate the thing and will never use it. I just want to try one.

So like the glow-in-the-dark silly putty I hankered after for years as a child, these two items will just have to remain on my wish list.  Maybe next Christmas......

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Was It Something I Said?

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and received everything you wanted.  This was one of my presents....yes, a tiny shred of ripped wrapping paper.  Who stole my present?  We searched through the massive pile of discarded paper and all around the living room, but no present that matched the label.  I was pretty sure I hadn't upset my big brother recently.

Turned out he had had a bit of an Amazon delivery disaster and had to change things around a bit - the present is somewhere in the postal system - phew!

In the meantime, I have plenty to keep me busy!

Friday, 24 December 2010

One More Sleep..........

I didn't think we'd be ready in time, but it's Christmas Eve and apart from wrapping presents, we are all ready for tomorrow at last.  What with the disruption due to the snow and the general mayhem on the roads and in the shops, it was a bit of a close call!  A big Thank You must go to the postman who delivered our three late parcels yesterday evening - that's all the gifts safe and sound.

I've even managed to knit some last minute wristwarmers for someone who came home with no gloves last week.  There's another pair on the needles but I think that's a bit ambitious unless I just don't sleep tonight!

In one of the parcels was a late birthday present for me from the lovely Sybille over at Magpie Magic.  She'd made me this beautiful mobile from some of my favourite things - shells, feathers and seaglass.  It found a home within minutes - I'm very pleased with it!

On our dog walks this week we have been interested to see the amount of rabbit footprints in the fields.  You can see where they have been, where they are going, and what they have been up to.

I think they must have had a few bunny parties judging by the state of the snow here!

Finally, I'd like to wish all of you who stop by here and all my wonderful customers who have either bought things from my Etsy shop or commissioned paintings a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous and Happy New Year.   

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Last Minute Crafting....

Just finished this as another last minute Christmas present.  I saw something similar on the internet, but this is my take on it.  If you fancy an elephant tea-cozy, do get in touch, I am open to offers!

Look at the chips on that teapot - perhaps I should ask for a new one for Christmas!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Socks and Violence.....

Here are the socks.....they are a Christmas present for someone, only just finished in time.  The violence nearly came about when I started them last week in a different yarn, worked hard for three nights and then discovered not only did I not have enough yarn left to complete them, but the shop where I bought it no longer had any more.  Luckily in my stash I had a couple of balls of this soft pink and grey and was able to start again using the first grey yarn as a contrasting heel and toe.  Note to self - always CHECK how much yarn you need before you start a large project!

Anyone need one large grey slouch sock?

I'm not doing very well with the Christmas preparations, it's all a bit skin of the teeth at the moment.  We did manage to put the tree up and decorate it yesterday.  Stacie is waiting for Santa already....I hate to tell her that he's not going to bring either Robbie Williams or Matt Cardle to put in her stocking!

A little Christmas puzzle for you - can you spot the Soggibottom bear in this picture?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

'I Suppose You Think That's Funny...'

Lots of dogs enjoy the snow....not mine.

We had a bit of snow this morning and as usual had to walk rather than drive to get the shopping as the roads were a mess.  Christmas could consist of IOU's this year.......

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Final Wave...

Now I can say this is finished.  I've darkened some bits, added a bit more intensity to the shadows within the spray, generally titivated, and cropped a couple of inches off the bottom which balances the whole thing better.
It's been bugging me for days but I haven't been able to do anything about it until today.  On to the next one....

Thank you for all your birthday wishes - it was on the whole a pretty good birthday.  If you are a Narnia fan, I can recommend the latest movie.  We enjoyed it thoroughly and even shed a tear at the end, you'll have to see it for yourselves.  Christmas shopping wasn't so much fun - too many people, too much stuff, sensory we got a few bits and went home to a nice cup of tea and a mince pie instead.

One more day of term to go - I spent my morning today helping children to make a snowman, a party hat, and drawing I don't know how many Santa in his sleigh pictures for colouring in.  If I had any sense, I would have done just one picture a couple of weeks ago and photocopied it! Never, ever, tell six year olds that you can draw.....

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Happy Birthday to Me...........

Another year older, hopefully better.....

Just opened my daughter's present to me (have to admit I chose it then had it whisked away and hidden for a fortnight) - how cool is this book?  Guess we all know what I'll be doing over the Christmas hols....

We're off to see the new Narnia film today - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was my favourite book of the Narnia series as a child, I must have read it a hundred times, and I am so looking forward to seeing it brought to life.  I may be physically over the hill, but mentally I am still ten.......

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Rolling Along On The Crest of a Wave.......

I think this is finished - not too sure yet, I need a day away from it in order to come back and look at it with fresh eyes.  Perhaps it needs a bit of cropping of the bottom edge.  I am very happy with how the curl of the wave and the spray has come out - it was such a change to be spontaneous with my painting and literally go with the flow.

This piece involved my favorite components in painting - water as a subject matter, watercolour paints, a fairly limited palette - I used Indigo, Sap Green, Turquoise, Viridian Green and Violet - and complete freedom from the constraints of a commission.  Hopefully over the Christmas holidays I will get the opportunity for a bit more of this kind of work.  Although commissions would be nice - have to pay the bills as well!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Hurtling Towards Us Like A Freight Train.........

....that's Christmas of course!  I cannot believe how fast it is approaching and how unready I am all of a sudden.
 Now that all outstanding commissions and preparations for Xmas fairs are over, I have been able to complete this scarf.  It is knitted in Bergere de France Coton Fifty in a soft sage green.  It's a nice length, could be used as a light wrap in the summer as well.  I just love the stitch pattern in this - very effective and almost looks as good on the wrong side as it does on the front.

I shall be putting this up for sale at today's Christmas Fair, after which it will be going on Etsy.

My daughter has been at it again at college - here is a selection of her handiwork over the past term -

 She has also squirrelled away some wrapped packages for Christmas Day - I can't wait to see what else she has produced.

There is a similar post about her work on my other blog - excuse the duplication!

I am about to close my Etsy shop for the day - I will be at Tavistock Infant School with my wares this afternoon and would hate to sell something on Etsy that I have already sold there.  Business will resume as usual this evening (GMT).

Monday, 6 December 2010

Big Break-er

A couple of weeks ago I got a very exciting (to me anyway) commission to paint the illustration for the tin of a new collection of Derwent water soluble pencils.  I got the nod today that it has been accepted and will go ahead, together with a tutorial on 'how I done it'. 

This is not the painting that will appear on the tin, it is a totally different one using just water colours, no pencils. Whilst I really enjoyed the paid commission, it was quite tricky to get a loose flowing effect using pencils, so I had to have a go afterwards with just paint  for my own enjoyment.  There is still a lot of work to be done on this, but it is so exciting to be able to work in a free fashion after months of highly detailed pet portraits. Commissions are very much a double edged sword - it is a dream come true to get paid for doing what I love most in the world, but on the other hand, you have to do what your customers want, and if that means a steady stream of dogs, cats and horses then so be it. I'm certainly not complaining, just savouring the opportunity to do something completely different.

Due to the snow, the Christmas Fair at Tavistock Infant School  was cancelled last Friday but has been re-scheduled for this Wednesday, 8th December at 2.45.  Let us hope nothing dire happens this week!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cabin Fever Sets In..........

This seemed a good idea at the time..........

Three inches of snow outside and I'm already getting depressed - I have a Christmas fair tomorrow, I wonder if it will still be on?

Further To The Above.....

So, a few inches of snow and schools are shut -  you people in places where snow is measured in feet not inches must think we Brits are wimps!  At least it gives me a day to get on with a certain VIP - very important painting!

We went for an early morning hike as's very pretty out there.
'Hurry up!'

Lots to explore and sniff....

....but not much fun when your feet end up looking like this!  Poor Clovis, I had to de-snowball his feet about five times before we got home - he wouldn't do well pulling a sledge!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Someone Call a Vet!

Poor little dogs, they have been in the wars!

The whippet has his cut paw and tail, but never fear, help is on hand with a tub of bandages, a large plaster and a bottle of tonic.......

....that's better!  Now he's on the mend, nice and warm with a bone to chew.

This poor chap needs his eye bathing with the gauze from the tub, his leg bandaging and some of the little pink pills from the medicine cabinet............
....not only is he on the road to recovery, he also quite likes the jaunty eye-patch and warm coat with the skull and crossbones motif - just call him Long John Silver!

If you think you or someone you know would like a set like this, complete with vet accessories, do get in touch.  If it's for Christmas, get in touch very quickly!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Sleep Is For Wimps.......

With the onset of Christmas, life is getting pretty hectic.  I always try very hard to get myself organised but it never works.  Let's face it, I have known for weeks that I have stalls booked at a couple of Christmas fairs, but even so still left it until the week beforehand to re-organise ALL my jewellery stocks/displays.  I have managed to build up a reasonable stock of knitted and sewn items, but not as much as I had hoped - at least this year that was not down to laziness or procrastination but because I have had a steady stream of private commissions, one of which is above.  This poor hound has a bad gash on his back leg and if you look closely, a rather nasty case of conjunctivitis in his left eye.  He's going to need an eye-patch....

Unfortunately, there hasn't been the time to get on with the scarf  I started last week - I picked up some Bergere de France Coton Fifty yarn in a soft sage green a while back in a sale and it looks fantastic used in this rhythmic stitch pattern - it's also nice and repetetive to knit, very soothing.  But that will have to go on the back-burner for a while longer.

If you live in the general Fleet area, I have a stall at the Elvetham Heath Primary School Christmas Fair today, and at Tavistock Infant School on Friday afternoon, 3rd December.  Come & say hello!

My Etsy shop will be closed for the day to avoid any double-sales, re-opening this evening.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


So this was a bit of a challenge....a whippet with an injured foot and tail. 

I felt quite sorry for him as I inflicted his wounds on him - the temptation to sew them up was very strong!  So to make up for it, I gave him an extra special gold decorated leather collar and a very nice fitted coat...and a jazzy blanket.

He'll have a bed and some accessories - food, bowl, toys and of course bandages and medicine.  Needless to say, I never get bored with my commissions!

Talking of which, I'm not going to say too much as I am a bit superstitious about blowing my own trumpet too loud, but I have been contacted by a very large pencil company and asked to produce some artwork for them.  To say I am excited is an understatement!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Just Monkeying Around.......

With no commissioned art work at the moment, I have been occupying myself with this pencil drawing of a gorilla.  It is based on a photograph taken at a zoo by a friend of mine, and I loved the contemplative look on his face. 

First I stained a sheet of The Langton Extra Smooth watercolour paper with a  few coats of strong tea, which makes for a lovely sepia tone.  The gorilla has been simply drawn using an HB pencil, an Aquarelle water soluble pencil, a white pencil for highlights and a 6B for a few final darks.  He had to be looking at something, so I have drawn in a small fluffy feather floating above his head.

Due to the overcast winter daylight conditions and the reflectiveness of the darker pencil shading, it has been a nightmare trying to get a decent photograph of this.  This is the best I can do, but you get the general idea.

Whilst it is always good to have paid work coming in, sometimes it is even better to have the spare time to draw or paint what I really want to get down on paper.  I've not had much chance to do that this past year,so this opportunity has been very welcome.

On the knitted front.....look out for a whippet with a badly cut tail and an injured paw coming shortly!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Quick Shop Update

Just to let you know that there are now two pug sets for sale in my Etsy shop.  These seem to be popular - don't leave it too late if you want one!  I shan't be making any more for the moment as I have to get on with a commission for some poorly knitted dogs...I mean knitted dogs that are not well, not that I am letting my standards slip!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Faery Beary

Did you ever have a project that started off as something quite simple and then just took it's own direction during construction into something far more complicated?  My original intention was a simple mini teddy that might be suitable for a Christmas ornament. 

 Then, after playing around with ribbons, lace and felt, it seemed a good idea to put her in a tutu........

 ....with leg-warmers (hand-knitted of course!)....and a scarf............

Then I thought I'd finished...but what little girl who is dressing up in a tutu doesn't want wings as well?  And if you have wings, you have got to have a halo too......and if you look closely, she has a teeny-tiny silver bracelet.

This bear is just under 4 inches tall (10 cm) and sewn out of felt.  Her limbs are thread jointed with tiny buttons at each joint.  The leg-warmers and scarf are knitted from pure Shetland wool, and the tutu is sewn from felt and Chilean lace.  Her wings and halo are felt embroidered with silver silk thread made at Whitchurch Silk Mill - so all in all, she's a pretty special young lady. 

She will be going into my Etsy shop later today, along with the latest knitted dog set and the turaco painting.

Just a quick reminder,  if any of you have been thinking about commissioning me for a toy/painting/knitted item as a Christmas present, please get in touch fairly quickly -  time is moving at a fast pace and during December I am generally pretty busy with my own Christmas preparations/craft fairs/day job so better grab me while I am still relatively free!

Monday, 15 November 2010


Turacos have to be one of my favourite birds.  Whenever I visit places like Birdworld, I have to be forcibly removed from the turacos cage as I could spend forever playing with them - they are just such friendly and comical little fellows!

This painting is based on photographs I  took a couple of  years ago at a place on the way to Oxford called The Living Rainforest.  It's not big and consists of one large glasshouse packed to the gills with tropical plants, free-flying butterflies, cappuchin monkeys and....turacos on the loose!  Needless to say, I was in seventh heaven having these brilliant little birds sit on my hand and clamber around - they don't bite like parrots either.

The painting is a watercolour - now that made it hard to obtain the jewel-like colours and irridescence of these birds!  I'm not sure I pulled it off successfully, but this was the best I could do.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Are You All Right?

I'm still trying to build up a stock of knitted pet sets for Christmas fairs, but instead they keep emigrating to the USA - lucky dogs!  This little pup was knitted recently to replace one of his globe-trotting friends, using a very interesting boucle/eyelash yarn.

I've had the yarn in my stash for quite a while - not too sure what the original plan was, maybe a boring scarf?  Anyway, I thought it might make a nice effect on a knitted dog, a bit like one of those cute Portugese waterdogs.
However, the closer he came to completion, the more he looked to me like he had some kind of exotic skin complaint.  Now I just can't get that idea out of my head!

But I think that adds to his appeal - he does have a very endearing little face, despite incipient mange.....
Once I have completed his accessories, he'll be in my Etsy shop - I wonder who will adopt this one!

One of our little Sunday pleasures is to go and feed the swans, geese, ducks and gulls on Fleet Pond.  Sometimes it is a quiet affair, sometimes there are punch-ups.

A couple of swans having a punch-up is always spectacular!  The victim here was fine - he had to have a bit of a flap to rearrange his feathers, and then kept a healthy distance from the posturing male that didn't want any other bird near 'his' bread.