Monday, 28 February 2011

Soft Prawn......

           I Am Just A Prawn In The Game Of Life....

Just a follow up to yesterday's post regarding my poor car.  After several phone calls this morning and some extremely helpful people at Waitrose, Waverley Borough Council, and Surrey Police, I have reported the incident to the police and hopefully with the help of CCTV footage we may have a chance to catch the culprit.  I'm like a dog with a bone when it comes to an injustice, particularly when it's personal, so fingers crossed they get a glimpse of a number plate and I can get some sort of recompense.  If not, at least I know I did all I could.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

On Wristwarmers, Unravel, and Unscrupulous People......

Last night I finally finished these complicated wristwarmers knitted in yarn from recycled blue jeans.  I am so pleased with these - the stitch pattern shows up beautifully in the yarn, they fit perfectly and I discovered when I blocked them that they do just what regular jeans do when you wash them - shrink! This is a good thing as there is nothing more annoying than to find your wristwarmers have gotten baggy after a few wearings.

They had their first airing during a dog walk this morning and I can safely say they will replace my beloved Noro wristwarmers nicely.

You can always tell when the Unravel show is in town....
..most of the posts in The Maltings carpark had snug knitted jackets today.  Someone had also been really busy knitting the signs too....
Down by the river, there was a giant yarn spider web.
If you look closely to the right you can see some knitted bugs and flowers too.

They had a bit of a mole problem on the front lawn.  How cute are these?

Even some real sheep minding the door - we weren't allowed to touch them though.

I just loved this knitted hanging basket in the entrance hall.  The tree trunk behind was knitted too.

This was cool!

Inside, there were lots of stalls full of yarn, knitting accessories, spinning, wonderful garments, so much to look at.  Despite that, I was rather conservative in my purchases this year -
It's not that I didn't see loads of yarns that I liked, it's just that I have a very full stash at the moment and plenty of projects lined up so couldn't really justify buying anything just because the colours were pretty!  There were also very few bargains this year - I guess the recession is biting.
The soft brown and white yarns above will no doubt morph into small knitted animals at some point, using the small bamboo needles.  I'm not sure when or how I will use the incredibly fine brown linen - the day I decide to destroy my eyesight forever perhaps!  And no, I don't really plan on knitting pizza, but in this book is the cutest pattern for knitted prawns........

So, we had a really nice morning - such a shame it ended so badly.  I had parked my car in the Waitrose carpark in Farnham and walked down to the show.  When we returned, it was raining so we hurried getting into the car and drove off quickly home.  Upon getting out of my car in Fleet, I discovered that while we were in Unravel, the owner of the very large, black, shiny 4X4 that I had parked next to had seen fit to do this...

...and drive off without bothering to leave a note.  Thank you so much Mr.or Mrs. 4X4, you have to all intents and purposes turned my car into a write-off.  I know it's only a little old Peugeot that has seen better days, but it's all I have got and you thought it OK to smash in it's door and leave without a second thought.  I hope you can sleep tonight - although if you can do this, it has probably already been forgotten.  Lucky you for being wealthy enough to own a big shiny powerful car which probably doesn't even have the smallest scratch after thwacking into mine.  I know that if this cannot be fixed by my very resourceful DH, then it is going to cost me money I can't spare to replace it.  Just as well I didn't buy a lot of yarn........

Thursday, 24 February 2011


The fox stole is finished - it took longer to sort out the clasp than it did knitting the legs and sewing it all together.  I couldn't find a suitable magnetic fastener in the shops, tried a waistband hook which was not good as it made the head flop.  In the end I used a giant snap fastener which is much better as it means the stole can be worn with the head facing either way.

The original fox stoles were of course dead animals - this one looks like he might just leap off and run away at any moment! 
I'm going to put this one on Etsy and see how it does - there is plenty of time to knit another one for a certain birthday.  I'm quite enthusiastic about a suggestion from Magpie Magic to make variations such as an Arctic Fox - could be very cute!


I Hate You So Much Right Now

It's quite a warm, sunny morning, so I bathed the dog. 'Nuff said....

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


The faux-fox stole is coming along nicely now - he just needs some back legs, his belly sewing up and a fastener.  Considering this began as one of those 'I could do better than that' moments after a glass of wine one evening, it's not come out too bad!  I have even written down the pattern as I went along just in case this needs repeating.  I'm in two minds now as to whether to put this one on Etsy and repeat it for the original gift (not until May) or to just keep it for the gift and make another one at a later date.  If you'd like one made for you, get in touch!

Ever since my parents died, over  fifteen years ago, I have been trying to get my hands on the family photograph albums as I had no pictures from my early childhood other than a couple of battered black & white baby photos.  One of my brothers had various boxes of memorabilia after their flat was cleared, one of which was brought to me a couple of years ago but it only contained the really old pictures of when my mother was a child - fascinating, but not what I was after.  This month my brother discovered another box stored in his loft and delivered it to me yesterday - jackpot!

This is the house I grew up in on the Isle of Wight - Debourne Manor, which dates back tothe 12th century and is mentioned in the Domesday Book.  We lived in half of it, but owned all the grounds which consisted of an orchard, vegetable garden, walled front garden, massive driveway & lawn, a pond and a couple of acres of woodland.  No, we weren't rich but my dad was a canny estate agent and I think this was either a bargain or some sort of deal!  It was a wonderful place to grow up and I spent most of my time outside wandering, making dens, fashioning my own bows and arrows, bothering wildlife, collecting flower petals for making paint or perfumes, collecting acorns and chestnuts for fairy meals, just returning home for meals.  On rainy days the house was big enough to explore, particularly the attic where I had a dolls house and could cut myself off from the outside world altogether. Do I need to say that the Narnia books were my favourites and I was always searching for that magic doorway!

It would seem that even then I enjoyed sitting in the sun with a good book and a dog at my feet - not much has changed in the past 40 years!

A cup of tea in the garden - nope, my tastes haven't changed there either.  Thankfully I don't have to wear tartan pinafores or get my hair cut by my scissor-happy mother any more, but I wouldn't mind a pair of those red Clarks sandals.

Now I face the gargantuan task of scanning 6 albums of photos and cataloging them all - that could take a while.

My tomatoes have finally poked their noses out of the soil - I was beginning to wonder if they were duff ones, but it has only been a week.

Cucmbers too.  On the other hand, marigolds, cosmos and a few of the other flower seeds are racing away.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Here is the completed jellyfish - I'm really not that happy with it, it's not what I had in mind when I started.  It was mainly an experiment to see what the Inktense pigments were like when used like watercolours and I had originally planned a penguin to be swimming past, but then my computer went down and I thought I'd lost my reference photo so subsituted a jellyfish.  That just goes to show what happens when a picture is not planned out properly!

And as for the Inktense pigment sticks - well, when used as crayons/pastels for drawing, they really are not for me, far too clumsy for my style of work.  However, when mixed with water they make a wonderfully rich and intense (hence the name I guess!) paint which doesn't streak and can be used layer upon layer without affecting the previous colour.  So I think I will be using them but probably not in the way they were intended! I can see them being really useful for backgrounds or a touch of really bright colour when needed.

In order to kick-start my 'mojo' I have begun a simple zebra painting - it's something I know I can do without too much effort, will get me back into the routine of working which will then hopefully banish the blurghs!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Well Begun is Half Done.......

I don't know about well begun, but this painting of a jellyfish has been on the board for a couple of weeks now, another experiment using the Derwent Inktense pigment sticks.  This time I have been using them as watercolour paints, lifting the pigment off with a wet brush and painting it on.  The water effect was achieved by many layers of colour, with masking fluid cutting out the lighter parts for the first two layers of colour.

The jellyfish has been painted in the white pigment with touches of brown and turquoise.  It is still not quite finished, it needs more watery shadows on the tendrils of the jellyfish, but it has been a strange week and I just haven't felt like painting.

A very complicated project is this pair of wristwarmers being knitted in the recycled blue jeans yarn.  I've chosen a twisted cable pattern which really shows off both the yarn and the stitch texture, but each repeat takes a whole evening to knit, so I don't think they will be completed before the end of next week somehow!

And this is a project just for fun!  If you think it looks like a tail, you are absolutely right.  I saw a pattern in a magazine this month for a knitted fox stole and wanted to make it as a present for someone.  When it came down to starting, I decided I wasn't that keen on the pattern as it wasn't lifelike enough (you know what I'm like about realism!) so I have gone off on my own experimenting and writing it down as I go.  It's a good start, but the tail was the easy part - I'm hoping the head will turn out cute rather than a death mask!!

No news on the tomato front - the seeds are not showing yet, although the Cosmos seedlings have already poked their heads up.  I have a feeling this race has already been won by Soggibottom - still a long way to go before the first tomato though.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Battle of the Tomatoes

I'm usually a bit lackadaisical when it comes to getting my seeds planted.  I buy them on time with the best of intentions but then time seems to get away from me and I end up somwhere in March panicking and throwing them all in then wondering why nothing is as big as it should be later on in the season.  However, this year I have been given a challenge - Midge of Soggibottom down in Devon has suggested we have a tomato growing race.

So yesterday I trundled down to the garden centre to buy my seeds, and today have planted them with more than usual care* - I even bought a windowsill propagator instead of my usual supermarket plastic cake/biscuit box (which are actually really good as free mini-propagators). 

So we have some red ones, some yellow hanging basket ones, and some I bought just because I want to see what a Yellow Stuffer will look like!  Place your bets now...
I've also planted some cucumbers after discovering last year how very easy they are to grow, and have some broad beans and runner beans waiting in the wings.  The rest are flowers - I can't go without my annual crop of sweetpeas and Cosmos!

No art to show lately - I am not feeling at all creative at the moment, no inspiration, no enthusiasm.  However, next week is half term which means I have a whole 9 days at home so I will get myself back into the groove once again I am sure.

*I think Midge might be cheating - she planted hers a day before we said we would!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Hidden Treasures

When I was a little girl, we lived in half a manor house on the Isle of Wight.  It was a huge, rambling place, and my parents had many bookcases scattered around, filled with both old and new books.  I used to spend many hours just sitting on the floor next to one of the bookshelves and poring through the oldest books - their yellowed pages, antiquated language and drawn illustrations fascinated me.  Sadly, most of the books are long gone and the few that are left live with my eldest brother up in Oxfordshire - he inherited the books, I got the artwork, a fair deal really.  However, when pottering around car boot sales or thrift shops, I always make a beeline for the books to see if I can find any of the old volumes that I loved as a child.  I also pick up other little treasures such as this one, a 1930's copy of Mr. Popper's Penguins.
The story is very funny and the illustrations are just wonderful.
I've had this volume for a couple of years and have since discovered there has been a film made of it starring Jim Carry which will be released later this year.  Will he look like this?

Definitely one to go and see!

A book that both terrified me and drew me like a magnet was a collection of Hans Christian Andersen fairytales.  Again, my copy is long gone, but I picked up a very old one with what I think must be the original illustrations, I'm not sure.  (I didn't colour in the picture - some previous owner did that!)  I do know that The Tinderbox with it's succession of dogs with bigger and bigger eyes frightened the pants off me...and yet I read it again and again.  Hands up if you remember the televised version of this story by some Eastern European country, possibly in the Singing Ringing Tree series.  The stuff of nightmares!

This is a little gem I found in a car boot sale - the title alone caught my eye.  The stories are hideously non-PC - they were written sometime around 1895 - but an intriguing glimpse into a bygone era.  And when it contains illustrations like this:

you can forgive it just about anything.

The reason I've re-visited these books is that I have been re-arranging my own bookcase to fit in the many new knitting books I seem to have acquired since Christmas.  In the process, I discovered that I have a copy of Tom Brown's Schooldays - a harrowing read, yet another of my favourites, as well as an ancient Diary of Samuel Pepys, which I am ashamed to say I have not attempted to read yet.  There was also a little collection of these:

prints of paintings by John James Audobon, a naturalist and ornithologist who lived in the 1800's and travelled the world painting the many species of birds he found.  Admittedly I think he accomplished this mainly by shooting them and arranging their corpses in the poses he wanted, but the results are superb.

I have seen some of his paintings at an exhibition held in Buckingham Palace, and they are truly incredible for their detail and jewel-like colours.

So that's a mini-tour of one of my bookcases - in our tiny house we probably have just as many books as were in my parents', maybe more.  I did commandeer all my mother's art books when she died as well as the remarkably useful collection of reference books on fossils, geology, birds and plants.  I just wish I had more time to read them all!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Waiting for the Repairman.........

Initially, this post was just going to be about my new scarf that I completed last night.  It's been quite a labour of love, the yarn is incredibly fine and it has taken me over a week to crochet.

It was definitely worth it though, and I have worn it today and am very pleased.  On to the denim wristwarmers.....

This afternoon I had to wait in for the washing machine repairman.  As always, they told me any time between 1 and 6 p.m.  So while waiting, I have.....

..made pumpkin pie.  It's browner than the photo - I'm still struggling to get back to normal with photo editing on my 'new' computer as I lost the previous camera software.

I also made ginger beer - a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe that I can thoroughly recommend.  If you leave it long enough, it even gets a little alcoholic - what's not to like!

I've inspected the growth of the bulbs in the garden - we're going to have a lot of mini daffodils again this year.

I've even done all the ironing.....I cannot believe I was so bored I  photographed the ironing. 

And I have put up with an awful lot of this face, combined with whining as he cannot understand why we didn't go for our usual walk at about half past two.

And after all that, the repairman turned up at 5, stayed for about five minutes - just long enough to determine that my washing machine needs a spare part and he'll return another day when it arrives.  Then I can wait all over again......

P.S. no need for sympathy, the washing machine isn't broken just VERY LOUD when it spins. 
Think I'd better take the dog out now....

Thursday, 10 February 2011

I Know Where Fairies Live.....

Where I walk the dog every morning is fairly remote, a playing field only used at weekends and in the summer, the rest of the time it is just used by lone dogwalkers.

At the far corner of the field, away from everything, is a small group of trees.  Can you see something unusual?
How about now?  Let's go close and see just what that is......

I found this on Tuesday afternoon.  It has been very painstakingly made out of twigs all the same length and thickness.

It covers the entrance to a rabbit hole....or is it the gate to faeryland?

Whatever it is, it made me smile and I was glad it was still there yesterday when I took my camera along.  Perhaps somewhere there is a budding Andrew Goldsworthy?

Whenever there is something nice, isn't there always someone who wants to spoil it?  I'm pleased to say that Clovis just had a sniff then left it alone.

I wonder what we'll find today?