Saturday, 29 October 2011

The People's Potatoes

How amazing to finally see the book I illustrated that has been about three years in the making! I got my copy delivered to me today by the author and it feels very strange to see my work in print - and in such quantity, 100 paintings!
The illustrations have come out extremely well - I can hardly believe that they were my work, it feels such a long time ago that I spent so many hours, weeks, months, painting nothing but spuds!
The book will be available for sale at various outlets, but I will also have a box of them here soon and will have them for sale on my Etsy shop or just e-mail me at the above address.  The book costs £20, plus post and packaging.  More info when the time comes.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Back From Boston....and look what I got!

For a long time I have wanted a Mason drinking jar - don't ask me why, I just fancied the idea of drinking out of a jam jar with a handle.  But they don't exist here in the UK and to get one shipped over from the USA cost silly money.  I even begged a friend to look for one on her trip to San Fransisco earlier this year but to no avail.  So you can imagine how happy I was when we had only been in Boston for a few hours last week and when visiting the supermarket opposite the hotel, discovered this!  It contained stuffed peppers, but they have been decanted into tupperware, the labels carefully peeled from the jar and I can now sit and drink my iced tea from a jelly glass - I'm easily pleased!  Also note the big pile of fabric behind - our hotel was opposite a discount fabric shop so I took the opportunity to stock up - this lot cost me about £18, which is so cheap compared to the UK.
We had a fantastic week in Boston - the weather was glorious as you can see and we did some of this.......
....which was such fun we had to go back at the end of our visit to the aquarium and do it again. The next day we spent whale watching......
...we saw just the one large female hump-backed whale, but she gave us quite a display.
This time we knew where to sit on the boat to get the best view, and even Stacie managed to get an unobstructed sighting.
Well worth the freezing trip back on the boat afterwards!
It being the week before Halloween, there were plenty of pumpkins and decorations to be seen.  Stacie had great fun looking round the costume shops and especially visiting Salem, where there were plenty of these to be seen.....

We felt a bit under-dressed!
We visited Quincy market several times and stuffed our faces with all sorts of dishes, from corn dogs to moussaka....
Hard to find a spare table though, and we had to eat off our laps most of the time.

We also got about 60 reference photos between us of once the Christmas rush is over (I came back to a slew of commissions - no rest for me between now and Christmas!) there will be some more jellyfish paintings.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


We have had a pretty good October, lots of warm weather and sunshine, and while it is colder this week and rained this afternoon, we also got treated to this beautiful rainbow.  It stretched round the corner of the house, and was so clear, with another rainbow just visible above it. Let's take that as a good omen for a fun and relaxing half term!

Monday, 17 October 2011


With a holiday fast approaching, I am letting the arts and crafts slide a little - I'm up to date with the commissions I wanted to get done before I leave, and there are more waiting in the wings for when we return.  I'm currently working on a pair of fabric birds for a friend, which are being made in shades of blue with touches of silver embroidery.  Fortunately no great urgency!

My computer also died on me this weekend after we had a power cut on Saturday afternoon.  I don't know if the power cut was the cause but it's a bit coincidental.  Luckily, a colleague's husband took it away and managed to transfer all my files onto a reconditioned computer which is getting me by, but has meant a lot of re-installing various programmes and it is still not how I want it...but better than nothing!

I'm off to Boston soon, so the blog will go quiet for a bit......any of you Americans know where I would be able to buy a Mason drinking jar?  I'm still hankering after one......

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Hunting Trophy.....

This knitted stag's head measures a mere five inches from antler tip to antler tip.  Which means the head is just under two inches from forehead to nose - pretty darn small!
I have been wondering how I was going to make this ever since I got the commission, but when it came down to it, it just came out right first time, which was amazing. I must admit I have been thinking about it for a quite a while, so maybe subconsciously my brain was planning the whole thing - who knows, I'm just grateful it worked out!
I have to add a little wire to the inside of the antlers - fabric stiffener was not up to the job of keeping them upright for long.  Not a problem!

If you fancy having your own mini-trophy, don't be afraid to ask.  Although maybe decapitating Rudolph just before Christmas might not be in the best possible taste.........

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

You Shall Have A Fishy........

Since knitting the aquarium, I have had the idea for a goldfish mobile in my head and it had to be made.  It took a while -  firstly, the fish are fiddly to knit being made of fine crochet cotton and also have lots of tiny orange sequins sewn on to their bodies.  Secondly, I had to search my bead stash fruitlessly for the beads I wanted and then search eBay, order and wait for them to arrive. 
But we got there in the end and it is really cute.  It doesn't want to be photographed though - it has taken me the best part of the afternoon endlessly trying new locations around the house and garden, various lighting sources, and the pictures are still not great.  The day is overcast and using the flash bleaches the colours.
You get the idea nevertheless, and try to imagine them all 'swimming' merrily in their little shoal at each tiny waft of a breeze.
They are going into my Etsy shop today - you'd better be quick, I'm tempted to keep them!

On the needles at the miniature stag's head mounted on a plaque.  One of those things that you make up as you go along and then cannot quite believe how well it turned out when it is stuffed and sewn - definitely more by luck than judgement!  Just the antlers to figure out - watch this space....

Monday, 10 October 2011

Daisy, Daisy......

I have to admit, this weekend I had a bit of a meltdown, panicking about not getting everything done before I head off on holiday.  I was not fun to be with, as my daughter would surely testify.  Swears got sworn, voices were raised, objects got thrown about - it was like having a malevolent poltergeist in the house.  However, after managing to drop my purse, complete with all cards, cash and important bits of paper, into the dog's water bowl (don't ask....) it was time to take a very deep breath and calm down.  Some chill out time feeding the swans and geese at the local lake, followed by an hours very physical gardening did the trick.  So it was with great relief I found that I had finished the above portrait before teatime yesterday.  Which means I only have a couple of small projects left and over a week to complete them in.

Daisy the dog was a lot of fun to draw, once again using Derwent Drawing Pencils.  It's been a few months since having a dog portrait to do, and it felt good to get back in the groove as it were.

If you want to commission a portrait or a knitted animal as a Christmas present, time is running out - I work on a first come, first served basis, and will not be able to guarantee completion in time if orders come in after the middle of November, so the earlier the better.  If only to prevent my daughter having to hear that kind of language again.....

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cats & Dogs.....

Here is the animation cat in his final form. The stripes add a certain something - I like him!
I've also been knitting a custom order, this tough guy with his piratical coat and comfy bed.  Actually, I think he looks more lugubrious than tough....
must be that hangdog expression!

I'm trying to fulfil all outstanding commissions before taking a week off for a well-earned holiday.  Then hopefully I shall return refreshed and raring to go when faced with all those rush-job Christmas commissions that always seem to materialise in November.....I can't criticise, I haven't even thought about Christmas shopping yet as I am almost spectacularly disorganised each year, although I do already have Christmas cards which I bought in the Janaury sales.....

Thursday, 6 October 2011

It's Finally Happening......

After 18 months of very hard work and a further 18 months of waiting, the potato book is to be published at the end of this month, with a launch party being held at Waitrose HQ the first week of November.  I'm very excited at the prospect of seeing the book, but filled with trepidation at attending the big 'do'.  Seeing as I am the sole illustrator, there will be a fair amount of focus on me.....which I don't mind in small amounts, but well, y'know....  Good excuse to buy a new outfit though!

I will have a number of copies of the book to sell from home and will have further details about this when the time comes...I might even sign them for you!
I forgot to mention this last week - I've had a few enquiries about the pattern for the knitted fox stole. Seeing as how it is very doubtful I will have time to knit any more for sale in my shop over the next few months, I have painstakingly transcribed my horrendous scrawl from notebook to legible pattern, which is now for sale in my Etsy shop. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Poor old fat cat, didn't pass muster.  So I had to take him apart, disembowel him a little and re-assemble him into a curled up sitting position.
I do hope he proves satisfactory this time round. 
Do you notice the very old album cover he is sitting on?  Many moons ago I bought a record player so that I could dig out all my old vinyl records and listen to them again but the player itself only had a tinny internal speaker that sounded like...well, those old portable record players of my youth.  So I bought some speakers...only to find they only had one jack whereas the player had two holes.  So I bought a splitter jack from good old Amazon and prayed it would do the job and hooray, it did! So now I am re-discovering the joys of Caravan, plus many more, and being amazed that I still know the words to songs I haven't heard in years and years!
Daisy here is nearing completion - hopefully she will be done by the end of the week.  Such a cute looking dog, I am enjoying drawing her.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Fat Cat!

Way back, months ago, this first creature I knitted for the animated film was a fluffy cat.  Recently, the animator was advised by her tutor not to use the fluffy cat as the fur would leave 'fingerprints' when being animated - remember the original King Kong and his rippling fur?

So I was asked to come up with a saggy, baggy, lazy cat who would probably spend it's time sleeping in front of the fire.  Hopefully, this chap will acceptable - he's well stuffed, with a few extra rows of knitting to add the bulk and curved back.  But he can also be moved to stand....
...and sit.  Although I am a bit dubious as to what he's doing here, it looks more like he needs his litter tray or a dose of wormer!