Sunday, 30 December 2012

Closing 2012 - Caught Up!


I had great fun crocheting this angler fish - a very simple pattern from the brilliant book, 75 Shells, Corals and Sea Creatures.  It is so clever, with effective little touches such as using a lace border to make the ring of teeth - just the picots show, the rest of the lace is tucked inside the felt mouth lining.

I just suddenly realised that with the completion of these little guys, I have finally finished all outstanding projects from 2012!  There are still plenty of items still to be made for the animated film and a couple of very recent commissions, but the long list that has dominated my computer screen for the past few months is finally empty - yay!
However, I am about to embark on possibly the most ambitious knitted article yet.  Luckily I live with someone who restores classic cars for a living and who can help me with the basic structure; although I have a sneaking suspicion I may end up beating him over the head with it at some point in the future.....

Can you see the 7 jars of marmalade I made yesterday in the background?  It came at a price as I sliced my hand open on the Mamade tin.....I told you I shouldn't be allowed to touch sharp objects!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Keeping Busy.....

I have mixed emotions about the Christmas holidays - whilst it is great to have everyone home and lots of family times, I'm also conscious that this is time when I am not at the day job and could be crafting!  Selfish?  Just a little, maybe.  I still have that painting bouncing around in the back of my mind, desperate to get itself on paper, yet I can't get near my desk at the moment let alone get started.

I have managed to get a couple of things done, one of which is this little fish.  Usually these are knitted with crochet cotton and are miniscule - I wondered what would happen if I knitted one in DK yarn on normal sized needles.  Quite cute I felt - this is already earmarked to be sent elsewhere.
Someone in the house bought himself a Kindle, so it seemed a good opportunity to finally make something out of the bizarre John Deere fabric I bought in Boston a couple of years ago.
Now the Kindle is safe and warm for those long journeys!

I was given a small needlefelt kit for Christmas...oh dear!  Whilst I love the results of needlefelting and hold anyone who can do it in utmost admiration, I worry about the consequences should I have a go.
I mean, look at the size of those needles!  And it requires a stabbing motion...towards the other hand.  It can only end in disaster - I ended up in the Emergency Room framing a picture once.  Watch this space.....

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day.....

Boxing Day is my favourite day of the holiday period - the pressure has gone, Christmas Day has passed successfully, we eat leftovers in Bubble & Squeak for dinner, we get to play with our new toys, and all is calm.
I managed to finish the chicken hat, after adding a couple of little extra touches that weren't in the pattern - the red embroidery around the eyes and beak.  It is also lined with black felt to prevent an itchy head.  The recipient is very pleased with his gift and threatens promises to wear it today. (What have I done?)  As said recipient is still asleep, the hat is modelled here by Rowdy, the stuffed dog that lives on the back of our sofa.
Another thing we do on Boxing Day which has become a bit of a tradition in our house is to go and have a look at the sales in a neighbouring town.  We never buy anything in particular, but I always like to visit Paperchase and pick up my cards and tree crackers at half price in readiness for next year.  It's the only pre-Christmas shopping I am ever organised enough to do....
I generally find some other glittery tat that tickles my fancy - this year it's a silver sparkly plastic flamingo.  She already looks very at home on the little table under a pot plant.
It's also the day to make a start on the Christmas cake...........yum!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day and that it was everything you'd hoped it would be. After the insanity that was last week's shopping, preparations and tantrums, our day went beautifully smoothly and we all enjoyed it immensely.  Presents were all appreciated (bar one lone dvd...), lunch was ready on time and delicious, and one young lady got to watch the new Dr.Who episode whilst revelling in her collection of new Dr.Who stuff, including a dressing gown, t-shirt, calendar and a year's subscription to the magazine! (No, it wasn't me!!)

Among my presents were these two brilliant books which I can't wait to use - I reckon if I start now I can have my whole family kitted out in hats and slippers for next Christmas....

One is already well on it's way - just needs some eyes and a lining.
On Christmas Eve we bought the new edition of the Jamie Oliver magazine as it had this illustration in it - my son's work!  That's two magazines currently on the newstands with his illustrations in.  I don't think there is anyone left within a 5 mile radius that I haven't told!
You may recognize the dog in the picture......
....this is his more usual pose.  After a bad start to his Christmas Day when he decided being walked in torrential rain on a marshy, flooded field in a horrible new coat was too much to handle and turned tail to run almost all the way home with me in hot pursuit, he then spent the rest of his day gnawing on his new venison flavoured bone, being fed tidbits of duck under the dinner table and snuggling up to various members of the family.  He escaped doing the washing up too....

Friday, 21 December 2012

I'm Still Standing......

.......having survived the apocalypse that never was. Must admit there is a very tiny piece of me that is just a little disappointed - now I'll have to cook Christmas dinner!  We had a hilarious present-opening frenzy at work yesterday half an hour before the end of the world was due, just in case we were going to be obliterated before Christmas!  It's raining heavily again today - perhaps the end of the world will come about as we all just quietly float out to sea......

Anyway, due to life carrying on, last night I finished these cozy wristwarmers which are a present for someone special who moaned incessantly last year about the tightness of the thumb-hole in the last pair I made. Ingrate! What's wrong with your thumbs turning blue?  These are my own design, so should fit perfectly.

Very frustrating time of year for creativity - I have a painting I want to start and it is in the back of my mind constantly but due to prepping for Christmas, I have not had any time to sit at my desk.  Hopefully in a few days there will be plenty of spare moments in which to get it down on paper before withdrawal symptoms start to drive me totally crazy!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

One of Our Reindeer is Missing....

No, I haven't really kidnapped and decapitated one of Santa's reindeer!  This is a very last minute Christmas commission which is to wing it's way to the USA today - will it get there in time for Christmas?  Who knows, but I gave it my best shot, knitting it within 24 hours.  Come on Santa, lend my parcel a bit of magic dust to speed it on it's way!

I've also knitted five pairs of owl wristwarmers, wrapped all my presents and iced the Christmas cake - can I have my medal now?

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Oh Christmas Tree....

I have to confess that this year Christmas has crept up on me and I felt even less prepared for it than usual.  However, today I wrapped the final packages to go in the post and found the perfect Christmas tree then realised that perhaps I am actually almost ready. 

We have a very small house indeed and usually the tree has to be squeezed in to a corner by the patio door where a vast bird of paradise plant usually resides..and then I have to find a space for the plant which is very heavy so I can't do it without help.....  This year I am pretty much on my own in the run up to Christmas - my son has gone to Finland for the weekend, my partner is not home until next weekend and Stacie is not much help when it comes to heavy lifting!  So when I saw this little tree (four feet high) with very flat branches on one side, I had a bit of an epiphany - it could go on sideboard instead.  It fits perfectly and has the added bonus that up there I don't have to worry about the dog knocking off any glass baubles - so this year I have thrown all my favourite ornaments on it!

Now, we need a goose......

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Stashbuster....

As usual it is a mad panic at the last minute as far as Christmas is concerned - I just never seem to get it organised in October like some people!  However, I think the majority of the present buying has been done and just awaits wrapping and dispatching, but there are a few people I want to give a little something more personal to.  I found this cute little pattern in a back issue of a magazine (although Molly Makes has a version in their current issue too) and found it very quick to knit up.
The little owl design is really clever, using a few simple cables and a bit of moss stitch - I think there will be a couple more pairs of these knitted up before Christmas!  Plus it gets rid of a few of those balls of yarn that were bought just because they were pretty!

On the needles this week - a policeman's helmet....yeah.....

If you look in the shops at the Christmas edition of the TV Times (out yesterday) all the Christmassy borders were designed and digitally painted by my son - see them here. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Ready To Go!

Meet Sydney, the last of the four knitted lurchers.
He's raring to get going!
In fact, all of them are.  This was such a fun commission - I wish I could show you the photograph of the actual dogs but my meagre technical knowledge does not allow me to...sigh! 

That's the last of the Christmas commissions - still plenty of work to get on with but no mad deadlines (still time for a quick one if you live in the UK though!)  Which gives me a little time to play with my birthday present.....
It's not my birthday yet, but as my partner will be in Belgium next weekend, we decided to have a pre-birthday.  I was taken to an unknown location (somewhere near Portsmouth) and into a massive guitar shop where this baby was waiting for me!  I've had a hankering to play the banjo for a long musical ability whatsoever, so this could be interesting!  Still, in two days I have managed to tune it all by myself and learn three chords.  Not quite ready to take on Duelling Banjos yet though....

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Swanley is the third in this commissioned collection of lurchers, and has edged ahead to be my favourite.
I am so enjoying this project - once again, as soon as her ears were sewn on there was the 'ahhh...' moment as she took on the look of a real dog.  It was interesting finding the right combination of yarn to make a shaggy lurcher - this time it was plain white acrylic mixed with white eyelash yarn which then had to be given a trim when the dog was finished.  Despite cutting the 'fur' over a newspaper, I still ended up covered in white fluff.  Definitely worth the effort though.
Swanley will have a red coat to match her collar and has joined her pals waiting for the fourth member of their pack.  It's a  Only me found that funny?
I took this photo last week - it's one tiny lone rose in our front garden that was rimed with frost.  We woke up this morning to find snow on the ground - that wasn't mentioned in the forecast yesterday!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas....

...and as usual I am trailing behind in the readiness stakes.  Once I get today over and done with, it will be all systems go for Christmas shopping and preparations.  Today sees me double-booked - that's what comes of having to submit entry forms months in advance.  One one side of town I have paintings in the Fleet Art Society exhibition and was supposed to be demonstrating a bit of painting in the afternoon; on the other side of town I have a stall at the Tavistock Christmas Fair....whoops! A bit of dashing about will be involved.....

Because of the fair, my Etsy shop will be shut for the day, but just to let you know that the above mini knitted stag head trophy has been listed as a custom order - if you feel an overwhelming need to possess a very small deer's head for your wall, you can pre-order one and I will knit it up for you.  Do be aware that it will take a few days to make and if you live out of the UK, sending it by post at this time of year may take longer than usual.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lovely Lurchers

It is soo much fun replicating people's pets in yarn - or trying to anyway.  There is a moment just after embroidering the face and before sewing the legs on when the dog suddenly takes on it's own personality.
Must admit I have been known to squeal in joy when it looks lifelike - it always feel like the process has been taken out of my hands at this point and the dog is almost making itself, I'm just the conduit!
Then there is the pleasure in photographing these little pets in various positions - always makes me giggle.
These two are quite conservative though, no bottom sniffing here!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


It's been a very long time since I sewed a little felt set - I was glad someone asked me to as it reminded me how much fun it is making itty-bitty dogs out of felt.
If you fancy one of these pug sets, don't wait around for me to make one and put it in my shop - just ask me and I'll gladly take some time out from knitting to oblige!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Never Smile At A Crocodile...

 ....or four alligators!  Finally finished this lot and they are now ready to fly across the Atlantic to their home state. Next time I design college scarves, I will think twice about adding a glove puppet feature and fancy texture - these took weeks!

Little Pixie now has her coat and collar and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her three companions - now the scarves are finished, perhaps they will come sooner rather than later.
Never one for the conventional, I now have two zombies which will be on my stall at a Xmas fair this weekend - who doesn't want a knitted zombie in their stocking on Christmas Day?
Finally, here is a little bed waiting for it's occupant.

If anyone asks me if I had a nice weekend, I can honestly say 'yes', but boy, am I tired!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Coughs & Sneezes......

When you've spent the whole week feeling like this......'s good that it's been possible to get on with this...
This is a very small portion of a painting I've been commissioned to do for the Derwent website - you will have to wait until it's up and running to see the rest.  This has been drawn/painted using Academy watercolour pencils.

I've also been able to make this....
...a tiny replica lurcher.  Interesting to do, figuring out how to make the whiskery bits look natural!
Hopefully it looks like the real dog....
One down, three to go......

There have been other projects on the needles, but none I am at liberty to show!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

What A Difference A Day Makes....

For so long it feels as if we have been living under a permanent rain cloud, so when a day like today comes along, it is surprising just how good it makes you feel. No lie-in today, it was up and out for a crisp walk with the dog in the frosty fields then back home for pancakes and strawberries, our Sunday morning treat.

After getting some chores out of the way, it was off to Fleet Pond to feed the birds.  My daughter loves to feed the geese and swans - my favourites are the gulls.
It is quite difficult to throw bread high in the air and then try to get photographs of the gulls in flight without chucking your camera into the pond.  I took about 50 pictures, but only a few are worth keeping. However, I plan a painting using them at some time in the future.
Just before we left, this magnificent fellow came swimming up and I managed to get the perfect picture without risking life and limb.  Now this one definitely goes in the 'potential painting' folder.

I have lots of projects on the go at the moment, but none ready to show.  A painting for Derwent, yet another alligator scarf, some footwear for the animation, and joy of joys, someone wants me to knit replicas of their 4 lurchers - I love knitting little dogs!

Oh yes, and there is another zombie on the way.....

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Halloween Shenanigans.....

 I've been sorting through some more of the holiday snaps - these are some of the sights we saw in Salem on Halloween...

 ...we all need some 'dabachery' don't we
 This guy probably thought I was stalking him - I have quite a few photos of him in various locations in an attempt to get a proper view.  Luckily this was my final try.

 This stall took facepainting to a whole new level - I would like to have had a bit of gore too but the queue was too long.

 See what I mean?
Not everything was scary...