Thursday, 31 May 2012

Clearing The Way......

Just finished the portrait of Brian - awaiting approval now.  This was a pure watercolour, nice to work in a traditional way.  Seeing it on the screen, I have just noticed something that needs to be done - argh!  At least it has been completed before the half term break, which means I am free for a week to pursue other projects.
One such project is putting this little fishy into a lightbulb.  He is just over an inch long - I do like making these! 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Come, Take A Walk With Me.......

.....before it's too late.  Our walk begins here, just two minutes from the back of my house.
To our right there is a big field of barley with a bank of trees in the foreground - this is where we find the best blackberries towards the end of the summer.
In front of us is this little piece of fairyland, all delicate leaves and dappled shadows.  Hidden among the undergrowth is a pond in which ducks nest, frogs spawn and squirrels leap above from branch to branch.
At the end of the shady trees, you get a glimpse of where we are going...
There are swathes of buttercups to our left, golden in the sunshine.
Across the way we can see the far side of the barley field - the trees in the front are another good blackberrying spot.  Above this field in the past couple of years we have seen Red Kites circling and wheeling in the sky, on the lookout for prey.

We turn the corner past a line of fruit trees - I gorged myself on wild cherries here last summer, stuffing them into my pockets to take them home.  At the end of the path there is a fantastic sloe tree - we picked pounds of sloes last summer and made several pints of sloe gin.
Turning left we get a glimpse of the fields between here and Crookham Village. One year I came face to face with a deer around this corner and luckily Clovis was so gobsmacked I had time to put him on the lead before he decided to chase it.
We walk around this field and turn to come home at the top.  To the right is a small copse - this is where the deer hide.  Further along is a bank of flowers with exploding seedpods - many summer afternoons I come this way with the dog just to play with them.  Some people never grow up!
There are many different kinds of wild flowers all along this walk.  The primroses, celandines and bluebells have gone and been replaced by speedwell, vetch, buttercups and clover.
You can see the village in the distance - the exploding seedpods will be under these trees in the late summer.
We are on our way home now, heading back towards the little fruit grove.
But we turn to our left and follow this little track - in the winter it is almost impassable due to mud and flooding.  Today is it just glorious.
Come on, I'm thirsty!  Clovis knows there is a stream at the end of the walk, just before we get home, where he can have a paddle and a cool drink.
Did you enjoy a brief look at the beautiful countryside that lies a few minutes behind our house?  I love walking here and so does Clovis - we come here almost every day, rain or shine.

However, there are plans afoot to bulldoze the lot and replace it with an enormous housing estate.  In these photos, the plans mean that as far as the eye can see, it will be buildings - no more flowers, no more meadows, no more deer, no more larks singing, no more pheasants, no more foxes, no more sloes, no more blackberries, no more elderflowers, no more ducks and frogs, no more red kites, no more cherries - what a crime.

If you live in the area and feel as strongly as I do about the possibility of all this beauty being destroyed , join FACEIT-Group, a group of like-minded people who want to protest at the loss of yet more of our countryside and pretty much the only piece of Fleet that is still wild and untouched.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Let's Just Put A Pin In It......

Having come up with a pattern for a tiny Union Jack whilst making something for the animated film, I thought it might be fun to use it and make myself a mini bunting necklace, or maybe some earrings, to be worn at a couple of Jubilee celebrations this coming week.  However, yarn does what yarn does, seemingly having a mind of it's own, and the finished flag was too big for what I had in mind although is still only just over 2 inches wide.  So forget those ideas....not sure what this will be now, either a keyring or perhaps a hairslide.
For three days I have been wrestling with this design, which will ultimately be a wildcat......hmmmmm.
So far I have the basic outline which will then be sewn to the end of a scarf through that gap at the bottom.  In the meantime, I have to somehow make the actual face using various shapes knitted in white.  The problem being how to simplify the design in order to make it quick and easy to make by other knitters while at the same time it being a recogniseable wildcat.  It's a headscratcher......

Friday, 25 May 2012

Getting There....

This painting may well be finished at the end of this weekend, if all goes to plan.  The rider is now complete, as is the background, all that is left to do is my favourite part, the horse.  I'm just hoping I've got all that bridle right!

Lots on the needles this week, none of which I am at liberty to show - sorry!  Lots more to come as well, including a few knitted bats - the winged kind, not the cricket ones - which I am dying to get my hands on but am holding back and getting the slightly less interesting items done first.  I work far better with a 'carrot' in front of me!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Progress.... slow but steady on the portrait of this horse.  Spare time has been minimal. but luckily there is no immediate deadline, so I can afford to lose a couple of days work.  I would like to be getting on with it though, as it's always a pleasure to paint horses.
This time last week we were wearing winter clothes and even having hailstorms.  What a difference a week makes!  With the appearance of the sun at last, things have started to grow and flower and the garden is looking like it should. 
I didn't plant these aquilegia, they just decided to seed themselves, but they are forgiven as they are so very pretty, like little bonnets nodding in the breeze.  I may have to be a bit severe with them when the flowers are gone though in order to make room for everything else that wants to grown in that flower bed.
Hands up those of you who remember the great Tomato Race debacle of last year?  It was another bad year for tomatoes and I lost miserably to Midge at Soggibottom - my crop was so poor I ended up gathering all the green tomatoes at the end of the season to make chutney as that's just about all they were good for.  It doesn't look like this year will be much better - I have already lost a number of plants to either the torrential rain or the slugs and snails that came with it.  However, these little cherry tomato plants already have flowers on them, so perhaps all is not lost.  I do have three larger plants that survived the flooding - fingers crossed this warm spell will give them the boost they need.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Battenburg & Booty!

A very small piece of cake......I nearly bought myself a battenburg by way of research, but thought better of it!
I couldn't resist this lovely yarn from Cafe Knit - dyed with woad and spun from a local flock in East Anglia, this Lavenham Blue yarn is simply gorgeous.  Not too sure what I will knit from it yet, but it has to be something with a hint of Boudicea.....
Just got an unexpected windfall - a work colleague is clearing out her spare room and asked if anyone wanted a couple of bags of fabric....well, you can guess who was first in the queue!  Lots of interesting bits and pieces, as well as a HUGE piece of black felt....

I have to admit I smell this's time to make chutney again and there is a big pot of beetroot bubbling away on the stove, filling the house with a spicy vinegary delicious aroma, which clings to the hair and clothes.  Beetroot was my favourite of the chutneys I made last year, absolutely delicious when on fresh crunchy bread with goats cheese....mmmmmm!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Seahorse in a Lightbulb

Finally got a lightbulb filled and ready for sale!  It's taken a while due to other commissioned commitments and also the time it takes to get all the bits and pieces ready for assembly when making one of these.  The base had to be varnished, the weed had to be knitted and stiffened, then the seahorse and weed had to be put on to wire and arranged within the bulb to look pleasing.  This is the hardest part of making these, as you not only have to control 3 pieces of wire, you also have to somehow wedge them into a piece of clay and get the angles right while jamming the clay into the base of the lightbulb.  It took me over an hour......

This will be in my Etsy shop tomorrow when I have taken some better photographs in daylight.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ghost Rider.....

It's taken me four afternoons to get this sketched out and the background in, now it's time for the best bit, painting the horse.  It feels good to be using pure watercolour again!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


While clearing out a corner of the living room the other day, I came across an old sketchbook which brought back some happy memories.  This was an experiment in painting teasels and dandelions following a tutorial in a book.
This was sketched sitting in the sand dunes on Braye Bay in Alderney, one of the smallest islands in the Channel Isles.  I spent my teens living here and look back on those years as the happiest in my life.  When I went back some 20 years later, it was incredible to find it so little changed.
The view to the left of where I was sitting for the above sketch.  We used to come down here after school (a couple of minutes walk) for a swim before going home.
Some brief studies drawn in the garden of our current house - can't quite believe I did them, they look a little bit like I knew what I was doing.....
The most poignant of them all, my little dog Jasper (a couple of years dead now) who used to spend all summer long sitting on the edge of the patio gazing into the flower bed.....there used to be a mouse that crossed his path in the evenings and he just sat and watched in fascination.
The agapanthus was one of many that I attempted to grow - never with much success - I buy them, they flower, the winter kills them!

I always say that I don't sketch much - maybe not as much as some artists, but there are these half filled books all over the house and it is surprising how a small pencil drawing can bring back so many memories, more than any photo, probably because it takes time and study to draw whereas a photo is a fleeting glimpse.

I'm in the middle of painting a horse at the moment, and best of all, have just parcelled up and sent off a big box of garter stitch scarves to the USA - perhaps now I will have a few days respite in order to get on with something a bit more interesting!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunny Sunday...

Unbelievably, this weekend it has not rained!  It has finally been a chance to get out in the garden and try and rescue what plants have not been waterlogged to extinction, cut the foot high grass and plant out some seedlings.

Also an opportunity to get out to the lake and feed the swans - I must have hundreds of swan photographs but never tire of them.  I like this one with it's monochrome, the ripples on the water and the spread of the swan's wings.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Still Looking For a Home....

As it has been two weeks since I pulled Caren's name out of the bowl and unfortunately she hasn't been in touch to claim her prize, I thought it only fair to hold a re-drawing to let someone else have a chance at winning this.  The name picked out this time was Marissa Brenton - let's hope she comes forward!*
Amongst the miles of garter stitch scarving I have been knitting, I am still slogging away with a tiny tea set, which is proving to be very time consuming due to the thin baby yarn and the 2mm dpns.  I need some elves to come in the night and help me out!  So I took a break to use thicker yarn and sensible sized needles to make the tray upon which to serve the tea - felt very good to be able to finish something in only a couple of hours!

*Hooray!  Marrisa got in touch very fast indeed and the goldfish will be on his way to the USA very shortly!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Stuff Of Nightmares.....

I have a bit of a thing against certain types of dolls.....ventriloquist dummies, Victorian dolls with those little teeth, anything a bit warped and with the potential to crawl up the stairs at night and attack me in my sleep.  So when a teacher at work asked me a few weeks ago if I would give this doll a bit of a makeover, I could barely hide my horror when I took it out of the bag!  I do wonder sometimes what goes through people's minds when they make things - this was a gift to the teacher's mother (also a teacher) from a class she taught. Just glad it wasn't me on the receiving end - looking happy and pleased to get it would have taken everything I have!

So it has been folded very tightly in it's bag and jammed securely in a bookcase until now - I figured if I can't see it, it can't get me!  As our school has been accepted into a gardening competition and this doll is needed for the display, today I gritted my teeth and set about making it look a bit...well...less like a reject from The Boys From Brazil?
I still don't like it, but at least it doesn't look quite so threatening.  And tomorrow it is out of my house and out of my nightmares.......

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Oh Deer......

This still amuses me......
...perhaps one day I should knit the rest of him.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

All Present And Correct......

One of the great advantages of living with a fellow craftsperson is being able to get them to make the stuff you can't! My DH restores vintage racing cars and is highly skilled when it comes to metal and woodwork.  So when I said I needed wooden bases for the fish-in-bulbs, all I had to do was give a rough description of what I wanted and shazzam, two weeks later I have a bunch of perfect bases ready to be used.  He is a clever chap!

Yesterday I also managed to find the perfect wood varnish, and with an unexpected trip to Hobbycraft (heaven for the crafter...) I also got some terracotta air drying clay for fixing everything in place at the base of the bulbs - we are now good to go!

It's been a week since I held the draw for the prototype goldfish in a bulb and the winner, Caren, still has not been in touch.  I shall give her a few more days but if I still haven't heard by the 10th May, I shall pick another name - I need to know how these guys travel!
Update - new winner has been picked - Marrisa, who has been in touch.
I'm still plugging away at knitting these's not very creative knitting yards and yards of stripes, but it has to be done. I'm past the half-way mark at least.

I have a new painting commission...a portrait of Dangerous Brian!  He's a horse and doesn't look very dangerous to me, but then I don't ride him!

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Look at my treasure!  This came in the post today - 40 balls of pretty, pretty crochet cotton - my mind is just exploding with ideas as to how I can use it for tiny knitted sea-creatures.......
This lovely bracelet came in the post last week - it was made for me by Sybille over on Magpie Magic. I love all the jewellery she makes and own several fantastic necklaces that she has made just for me - it's just a shame I can't wear them all at once.  The 'C' on the bracelet is an old typewriter key - reminds me of my days at school learning to type on an ancient manual typewriter that required supreme strength of fingers if you wanted the 'a's to show - those of you who learned to type on a computer keyboard don't know how lucky you are!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Exhibition Time

It seems a very long time since I had any work in an exhibition - our local art society has had to limit their exhibitions to one per year due to high fees for the local hall.  However, we have a little bonus this year with a week long exhibition being held at All Saints Church hall in Fleet to help celebrate the church's 150th anniversary, starting this Friday 4th May.

As usual, I left it until the last minute to frame my pictures - luckily it all went well and they are now ready and waiting to be delivered.  I have had it in the past where I left it until the day before the exhibition to frame a painting and then broke the glass - which involved a mad dash to the local glaziers just before closing time!

If you are in the area next week, pop in and have a look - the standard of work is usually very high and there will be plenty to look at.