Monday, 30 April 2012

What's On The Needles This Week....

A tiny seahorse - an experiment to see how small I can make one and whether or not he will fit in a lightbulb.  Yes he does, but he has yet to make the final cut as I want to see the colours available in my pack of crochet cotton that's on it's way, although it has probably floated off down one of the rivers that have taken over our roads at the moment....
After much experimentation and wrestling with 2mm dpns and baby yarn, the final pattern for the mini teacups is sorted and the tea set is on it's way.  I can't wait to find out how to make a teapot!
What college would choose these colours to represent them? Beats me!  I have to knit about 5 metres of this colour scheme - at least it keeps you awake!  That's not true actually - I was drifting off fairly early on yesterday evening and have made a serious mistake in the centre of this scarf - I'm hoping that by some careful cutting and grafting I can sort it out as I cannot face unpicking and re-knitting half a scarf!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

We Have A Winner!

The draw for the goldfish in the lightbulb has just taken place, using the ultimate in high-tech equipment. Paper and pen.....
.....scissors, followed by.......
....folding!  Placing in a handmade papier mache bowl!
The superbly crafted random generator....Stacie!  (She's my daughter and believe me, nothing could be more random than a ticket picked by her!)
The winning name is CAREN - if you could get in touch with me at the e-mail address at the top of the page, I will get the goldfish wrapped up and sent to you asap - let's all cross our fingers that it makes the journey to wherever it is going in one piece!

Unfortunately, two weeks on and Caren never got in touch,so I had a re-draw and the winner is Marrisa Brenton...who sent me her address very fast and will be getting a fish in the post!

I have just ordered lots of different coloured crochet cotton with a view to making more mini sea creatures for stuffing into lightbulbs.  I have taken on board the suggestions for different little critters and will be definitely attempting (note *attempting*) octopi and seahorses - the seahorse was on my list anyway, who can resist a seahorse!  Give me some time though as I still have a mountain of commissions that I am slowly working my way through - is there a medical condition called Knitter's Strain, 'cos I think I'm developing it...

Thursday, 26 April 2012

A Sort Of Tutorial...

Quite a few people have asked me how I managed to hollow out the lightbulb - if you want a sensible tutorial, have a look here. This is where I learnt to do it.

However, if you want to see how I did it, here we go.  First assemble your tools on a tray - it gets messy. Also, do wear some kind of safety glasses - there will be all kinds of crap flying about.
Make a cup of tea.  See sense and remove cup of tea from work area.
Pry up the little metal disk on the bottom of the bulb using a kitchen knife.  Stab finger.  Go more carefully.
Remove little metal disc with pliers - sometimes the wire from inside will come with it - not today.
There will be a tiny hole where the wire poked through.  Embiggen this hole...I started with a screwdriver....failed...tried the kitchen knife - stupid.....tried a skewer - nearly....found a set of mini tools that I got free in a cracker at Christmas and the tiny thing with a screw on the end was perfect.  Once the hole was big enough, I used the big screwdriver to start breaking up the purple chunk of glass. And a hammer.  Carefully.

Have a swig of tea.
To get the purple glass pieces out, enlarge the hole by bending back the metal edging with your pliers.  Tip out purple glass and then pull out the remaining wire filament.
There will be a long thin piece of glass inside the bulb - this needs to be carefully broken with the screwdriver and tipped out.  I cannot emphasise the word carefully enough - first time I tried this the screwdriver poked straight through the lightbulb and I had to start again.
See how close the screwdriver is to the bulb?  This is not good.
Tip out all the bits of glass that remain in the bulb. 
There will be a rim of glass in the metal section.  This has to be carefully broken to englarge the aperture.  I used my pliers and carefully snapped it piece by piece.  Notice how often I am using the word carefully?

Drink some tea.
Using your industrial strength kitchen scissors, carefully snip the jagged metal round the top of the hole and make it even.  Retrieve pieces of rogue metal that pinged across the room into the dishcloth.

After making sure there are not bits of glass left in the bulb, fill with soapy water and gently wash using a soft toothbrush.  Not your own toothbrush, one that you keep downstairs especially for this kind of thing.  This one I got free on our flight to Boston last year.
 Twist a piece of kitchen paper into a point and gently insert into the bulb.  Use the handle of the toothbrush to swab around the inside the bulb and dry it as best you can.
Compare actual amount of tools used with the optimistic two gathered at the start.
Finish tea.
Scrape glass and wire debris off tray into a  paper towel.  Remove shard of glass from finger. Carefully. Wrap up glass bits and throw away.
 Inspect hands for damage.  No blood here....
...or here.  Yay.
Take gratuitous photograph of dog who has been whining for his dinner for the past half hour and really getting on your nerves.

Feed dog.
Put bulb back in it's box, hole upwards, and balance on the top of a radiator for any residual dampness to dry off. 

And that's how I did it.  Unfortunately, I cannot fill the bulbs yet until my partner comes home from Belgium with the wooden bases he has made for them - no point in putting fish inside until there is something to anchor them to.

There are still a couple of days left for you to enter the draw for my original fish in a bulb.  Good luck!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wet Wet Wet

Those of us in the UK are well aware that we are in the midst of a terrible drought....there has been hardly any rainfall for two years now and everything is drying up...we're not even allowed to use our hoses, so can't wash our cars, fill our pools or even water our gardens.

For those of you outside of the UK, let me show you what it means to be in the middle of a British drought.....
...looks suspiciously like a bit of rain to me.  Also, this stream is normally a trickle of about 2 inches deep - today it was more like a raging torrent on the verge of breaking it's banks.
This is not a stream, it's a pathway where I quite often walk the dog.  Clovis is sensible and walks to the side...

.....because it just about comes up to my ankles!
This resigned look from my dog translates as 'Hurry up woman!  I need to get home!'  He had also just surprised a deer and had a flat-out 100mph sprint across the field and back, so was feeling a bit tired.  99% of salukis do not come back when recalled, particularly if they are on the chase - I am so glad that mine falls into the 1% that do, especially in this weather!
It doesn't take long for the ducks to find out where the water is - this ditch is usually just a bit muddy.

So there you have it, a drought in Britain.  I'm off to buy some cubits of wood and start that ark.....

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Unfortunately, this little tea cup is fractionally too big to be suitable for the mini tea-set.  All the objects I have been knitting for the animation have to be the right size and scale for the puppets and this one is a bit too Central Perk rather than tea with the vicar....despite it only being one and a half inches high!  So it's back to the drawing board.  This one won't be wasted though - I plan on decorating it anyway, knitting it a little saucer and selling it as an art piece later on.

I know I'm not the only one, but it has to be said...I hate the new Blogger format!  I can't find anything and it takes me forever to locate what I'm after.  It's like opening your front door to find that one of those horrible reality shows has been in and de-cluttered your home.  Personally, I'd punch anyone in the face if they did that to me - and that's how I'm feeling today about new Blogger...

Monday, 23 April 2012


Well, after the flurry over the goldfish-bulb at the weekend, I suppose I had better make an attempt at being a bit more interesting on this blog than of late.  I have been incredibly busy but it has mainly been knitting about half a mile of scarves in garter stitch.  I'm designing various mascot scarves for a company in the USA, but each design needs 3 sample scarves as well as the prototype for them to show to shops and photograph for their website.  That's a LOT of scarves for one person to knit!
The trouble is, I'd much rather be knitting these....this is the first piece in a miniature knitted tea-set and I am dying to get stuck in to designing and making the cups and teapot.  Next problem, how to knit tea, sugar and cakes, bearing in mind the size they have to be!
During last year's holiday to Boston, my daughter was very taken with the huge displays of pumpkins for Halloween.  Obviously we couldn't buy a giant pumpkin as it would have cost the earth in excess baggage on the plane, but we did get her a little tiny one which we brought back to England with us.  When it started going a bit soggy and it was time to throw it away, I scooped out the seeds and put them in a jar until Spring.  Last week I just chucked handfuls of them into three little pots of earth, sealed them up and forgot about them until this morning - wow!  Looks like we will have our own pumpkin patch this year - I am now wondering if they were a special small variety or whether they will actually grow to full size.....our garden is tiny and already jam-packed......

The draw for the goldfish lightbulb will take place at the weekend (28th/29th April) so you still have plenty of time to put your name down.   I'm excited - never had a giveaway with so many people taking part before!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Oh My Goodness! Time for a Giveaway!

Every day I have a quick look at the stats for my blog and website just to check that anyone is popping in to visit.  Yesterday I got an almighty shock as the figures suddenly sky-rocketed into the hundreds - surely this had to be a mistake?

But no - the lovely Jen over at Cake Wrecks had featured my little goldfish in a lightbulb on her other blog, EPBOT, and out of the blue I was swamped with visitors.  It feels a bit like having a mass of people turning up at your house for tea unannounced when you haven't tidied or vacuumed the carpet for three days and you are still in pyjamas with unbrushed are very welcome, but please excuse the mess!

So, as the general opinion is that I should make more of these little gems, I'm holding a giveaway for the prototype on the condition that you accept the state it reaches you in!  My main concern about making and selling these in my Etsy shop is that they might get broken or the contents of the bulb move about in transit. So, just leave your name and a comment here and in a week I will draw a name randomly and send the bulb wrapped as best I can to the winner.  You just have to let me know if it reaches you in one piece and if possible send me a photo if the fish has moved inside. 

As to commissioning one of these, please get in touch - I will be making more with different sea-creatures in at a later date*, but will make time in my horrendously busy schedule for a custom order.  Anything that involves a break from knitting scarves is most welcome at the moment - I love having the work, but boy, garter stitch has to be one of the dullest activities on the planet....

*Please bear in mind that this kind of lightbulb is getting increasingly difficult to find in the UK as they are being phased out in favour of horrible curly-wurly energy saving ones, so the amount of fishes-in-bulbs that can be made may be very limited.

Update   The draw is now over - a winner has been chosen.  Please see the latest post to find out who!

Friday, 20 April 2012


So now I am knitting bone china....this little bowl is one and a half inches across and will be part of a tea set.  I'm looking forward to decorating it!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Box of Ducks......

Ready to go...I feel kind of cruel shutting the lid on them and putting them under the desk.  At least they'll have some roosters to keep them company soon....

Saturday, 14 April 2012


It has been such a busy few weeks and it is very frustrating not to be able to share pictures of what I've been up to, but as they are commissions for other people and involve copyright, I don't feel it is my place to display them here.  You can have a look at my desk though - how shameful is that!  Those of you who have their tools of the trade laid out perfectly and materials tidily put in storage that looks like art must be recoiling in horror!  But I have tried tidying and it just doesn't work - for a start, I can never find anything!  This may look like the most awful chaos, but I know exactly where to lay my hands on a particular brush or pencil, and I just have to have my little shelf of personal totems watching over me - they all have meaning.  One day I will have a studio and attempt to instill a bit or order into my working method....but I'm sure it will still end up looking like a larger version of this!

The past few years have seen me change my working methods greatly.  While my children were small, art and crafts were something to do by way of leisure and for nothing more than my own satisfaction.  When I began to sell paintings on a regular basis, it became a bit more business-like but still something I did at my own speed with very little urgency,

However, when I started approaching my half century, suddenly there came a sense of time running out.  An internet friend shared one of her work ethics with me, which was to ensure to create something, no matter how small, every day.  I took this on board and it has become an important part of the way I work - in fact, I feel totally lost if I haven't picked up a pencil or a pair of knitting needles during the course of a day.

Something happened this week which contributed to the sense of urgency I feel over my work.  I went for a regulation eye-test as two years had passed since the last one and it was due.  However, the optician shocked me to the core when he told me he had discovered the beginnings of a cataract in my left eye.  Apparently I am rather young for this to happen (nice to be young for something I suppose!) and it will take many years before it becomes problematic.  I know cataracts are easily treatable these days, but it has always been one of my greatest fears to have something go wrong with either my eyesight or my hands.  So even more than ever I feel the need to create as much as I can, that every moment is precious and should be spent productively - you never know when it might all be taken away from you!

Thursday, 12 April 2012


A HUGE thank you to Gretel for her advice in getting me sorted as far as photos are concerned - so all is back to normal.

Not for this bear though - goodness knows when I will get the time to finish his arms and legs and give  him the little denim dungarees I have planned.  Soon I hope!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

This may be my last Post......

....if I can't sort out loading up photos!  Blogger is telling me I need to buy more storage on Picasa in order to add more pictures - I don't even have a Picasa account!  Any suggestions would be more than welcome!

Anyway, this is a photo of some ranunculus that I bought yesterday - just couldn't resist those colours!  If I was rich I would have bought thewhole display and just surrounded myself in a riot of colour!

There was going to be a picture of some tomato plants - after last year's crashing defeat in the tomato race with Soggibottom, I have given up the idea of growing mine from seed...well, I did start some off but the slugs and snails got to them, so I have given up and bought established young plants.

I don't have anything to show in the arts and crafts department - everything I am working on at the moment has to be kept under wraps for the time being.  Sorry! 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Happy Easter!

Stacie and I made a Simnel Cake...that's just a fancy name for a fruit cake with marzipan on the top!  It was fun to cook together though, and later I had a chance to play with my cook's blowtorch in order to toast the marzipan. 

Look at all that chocolate!  Luckily, with my other half working in Belgium (the land of chocolate...) we have some fancy Easter eggs at sensible prices.  Thank you too to Aldi for their sweet little replica gold bunnies for 99p as opposed to a certain other company charging over £4 per rabbit.....
Looks like I shall be spending Easter working, with deadlines looming I can't afford to take time off.  Painting isn't work though, I'd happily do that any time.

Have a Happy Easter whatever you are doing and go easy on the choccy!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Back to the Drawing Board....

I knew this one would be tricky - this one is just too darn friendly.  Let's try again......

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

I Don't Want To Talk About It......

As I blundered towards the end of last week, counting the hours until school broke up for Easter and I could have an opportunity to do some Spring Cleaning and get some extra sleep, little did I know that instead I would be working every spare minute on two projects with deadlines that fall within the next ten days!

The first is a tin illustration for Derwent involving the above.  What I love about working for them is the free tin of pencils you get in order to demonstrate the product.  I'll never have to buy a water-soluble coloured pencil again!  No animals to paint this time, something a little different for me....I'm ashamed to admit that I am a mature woman of a certain age who had to look up a tutorial in order to find out how to make a paper boat. Origami is not my strong point...
I also have to design and make an accessory based round poultry - yup, you read that right.
As well as a scarf involving this combination of colours - urk, that wakes you up a bit, doesn't it!

As you can see, we're not snowed in although it is a bit chilly and damp.  We planted a damson tree this week to replace the poor diseased pear that we cut down a while ago.  My banana plant survived the winter and is putting out new leaves already - hooray!  Don't look at the bald spots on the grass - cold weather and dog wee will do that!  It's been re-seeded and hopefully will green up very soon.