Sunday, 30 June 2013


Finished this at 6.30 this morning - all the main work was completed last night, he just got a coat of varnish on his legs this morning.  Now he is ready to go to his new home.
This is an original design, created a few months ago for a private commission.  It is also my first attempt at anything this ambitious in felt and fabric.  So I am quite proud that it looks like it is supposed to!
I am available to make more on commission - they take a couple of weeks to make.  I'm now wondering what other birds I could design...

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Yes, I'm Knitting A Car......

I don't know how people manage to cover a full size car with knitting, covering a small one takes up enough time!  So far I have done the wheels - black tyres, grey walls and silver spokes.  I'm very lucky that my partner restores vintage racing cars for a living and has therefore been able to make the basic structure for me, as well as having the forethought to drill sewing holes in the wheels for easy attachment of the knitting. I have also knitted a pair of wheel arches - the car is to be this lovely dark blue.  I chose the yarn because of it's colour but it is a thin cotton which means smaller needles and longer knitting time.  However, it looks great!
I've also received a commission for another moorhen - certainly easier to make third time round!  I did have problems with the legs though, firstly as I had run out of the really stiff wire used for the first moorhen, and secondly as all the florist tape I had bought on the internet just wasn't good enough.  I visited my local florist yesterday and managed to source a reel of the decent waxy green stuff which covers a treat. Now all he needs is a beak and his legs painted a nice bright yellow.  Oh yes, it took me three days to find his centre of gravity in order for him to stand upright steadily!
Another WIP this week is a knitted replica dog - a Tibetan terrier this time.  So far he has a bed and blanket - now to make the dog itself!  If you would like your dog made in miniature from yarn, just give me a shout!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Cockle Shells & Silver Bells....

No silver bells but plenty of shells in these garden wind chimes.  I've had the shells for a very long time but never got around to using them, so finally a couple of weeks ago (when I retrieved my drill from the porch debacle!) I drilled holes in them, found some wonderful curly pieces of wood in the bargain bucket at our local garden centre, and strung them up.  This one is my favourite, with the wood used vertically.
But this one is nice too!  I made them for sale at the summer fair I attended yesterday - once again sales were very low and I returned with most of my stock intact, which was disheartening.  I considered putting these for sale on Etsy but worry that postage would cost far too much because of the weight.  If you would like one of these and would be willing to pay the postage, do get in touch.  In the meantime, they will adorn my house instead - something I have no problem with whatsoever!
In the garden, I actually have a couple of very small tomatoes.  Despite the fact the tomato plants have been battered by wind, suffered torrential rains, and had to deal with unseasonally cold temperatures, they are now flowering so I am hopeful we might get a better crop this year than the past couple of 'summers'.  Early days yet - last year the weather deteriorated from the end of June onwards, so I could still lose them.  As far as the competition with Soggibottom, I think I have lost that already!
Bizarrely, despite the horrendous weather over the past 10 months, we have a bumper lot of figs on our tiny tree this year.  No idea why that should be, I just hope we get to eat them.

On the needles this wheels.  Tedious but necessary, four down, one to go.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Well, Hello Dolly!

My fingers are stiff and the tendons in my arms ache, but I managed to finish this scarf in record time.  It  might not be to everyone's taste, but I like the little dollies scattered randomly as they come on the yarn.

This was knitted in acrylic yarn from Yarn Paradise, a veritable treasure trove for yarnoholics.  It will be for sale in my Etsy shop after it has made an appearance on my stall at Tavistock Summer Fair tomorrow - unless it sells of course!  But don't fret, of it does sell, I have enough yarn to make another one.

By the way, can you spot the small photo-bomber in this picture??

Monday, 17 June 2013

It's Going To Be A Long Road...

Here is one wheel of the knitted vintage car - it took a whole evening to make.  Hopefully now that I have worked out the logistics, the other four should not take so long.  This car could take a very long time to make...
The pink doll scarf is coming along nicely - I have turned the corner, literally, which means the rows start decreasing now.  Will I finish it before Saturday? Perhaps if I give up sleeping!
Far more enticing than the above projects is the current painting.  I have a chance to get on with this acrylic of Old Basing, using a photo I took when we visited last month.  I want it to be really chocolate-boxy, with the English countryside and sheep, a real olde-worlde picture.  Wish I could sit and paint all day but I have to go to the day job.....

Friday, 14 June 2013

Birds For Babies...

I had a commission this week to knit a pair of bluetits.  The back story is quite touching - they are for this lady's friend whose mother recently died.  Before she died, the mother told the daughter that whenever she saw a bluetit darting about in the trees, that would be her spirit watching over the family.  Round about the same time, the daughter gave birth to twins who are currently in incubators and the bluetits are to be placed above each one to watch over the babies.  I love the fact that my work will take part in such a personal situation and hopefully give some comfort.

The birds are knitted from a pattern in the book 75 Birds, Butteflies & Beautiful Beasties to Knit and Crochet by Lesley Stanfield, an excellent source of patterns and inspiration if you want to make tiny garden creatures.

I've been playing hookey for the past couple of days - the animator has gone on holiday (Hi Sarah *wave*) so although I have a gargantuan task to get on with while she is sunning herself in exotic climes (knitted car...) I have taken the opportunity to get on with a few personal projects in readiness for a summer fair next week. This is what I decided to knit with the doll yarn - a simple triangular scarf with a delicate picot edge.  I figured the dolls and beads are enough ornamentation without anything else in the way of fancy stitchwork.  This could be for big or little girls - I think it would look great with jeans. 

I do find the look of the dolls wrapped into the ball of yarn a little disturbing, they look like they are drowning in a sea of bubblegum....

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Pick & Mix

Today's post contains a bit of everything!  First, here is some cute yarn I bought from Yarn Paradise.  I can thoroughly recommend this website - the choice of yarn is incredible, the prices are cheap (as long as you don't mind buying in bulk, but bulk can sometimes only mean 2 or 3 balls) and the shipping is by DHL and fast.  I'm not sure what I will make with pink yarn threaded through with little dolls, but whatever it is, I can't wait!
I finally got around to sewing a food bowl and toy for this little cat, so now he is up for sale in my Etsy shop.  He's one of a kind, seeing as he is a reject from the animated film - just too big!
This zombie is also finished - I have a summer fair coming up so am trying to build my stock up a little.  I'm not sure if anyone else likes kntted zombies as much as me - we shall see!

But look, his arms, legs and head come off and his stomach falls out - what's not to like??  If you'd like a zombie too, please get in touch and assure me I am not the only one....
This was another idea I saw in a magazine recently - minature seaside planting.  I'm really pleased with how this turned out - the planter held some tired daffodil bulbs for the past year and needed rethinking.  The two plants are actually from the Alpine section of the garden centre, but when put with some pebbles, gravel and shells, look suitably seasidey.
This is still as far as my tomatoes have got - plenty of flowers but not much else as yet.  I suspect I have already lost in the Great Tomato Race - we can't compete with a warm Devon greenhouse!
And finally, if you have seen the new sweetener Stevia on the shelves of your local supermarket and wondered what it is made from, here is the plant.  I am a sucker for unusual plants and when I saw this a couple of weeks ago, could not resist.  If you break off a leaf and chew it, at first it tastes kind of like grass (mmm, grass..) but then when you have really pulped it, the sweetness comes out.  I don't think you are meant to do this!  I read yesterday that you are supposed to harvest your leaves at the end of the summer, dry them in the sun (in the UK???) and then make infusions out of them with boiling water, rather like tea, then the end result can be used to sweeten drinks etc.  If there are any leaves left by autumn, I shall give this a go.

Next on the needles, three bluetits.  Rather like buses, you get none for ages then three come along at once....

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Seashell Tealights - Tutorial

Here is another of my occasional tutorials, as usual by trial and error!  This one is how to make pretty seashells into garden tealights - I got the idea from a magazine I read recently.  Above are the materials you will need:  empty and cleaned shells, old candle ends, wicks, double sided tape, an old saucepan.  You need to test the shells beforehand by filling them with water to see if they are level and deep enough to hold a decent amount of wax.
Put your old candle ends into the saucepan and on the lowest heat.  I did consider cutting them up to make melting quicker but that would have meant small bits of wick floating about.  This way I just had the main wicks left at the bottom which were easier to avoid when pouring the wax.
While the candles are melting, put a small piece of double sided tape onto the base of each wick.
Place a wick in the lowest central part of the shell.
If you are impatient like me, you can start pouring wax as soon as there is a decent quantity melted in the bottom of the pan.  Take it very slowly, keeping an eye on where the wax runs to.  It must not run over the edge of the shell as this will mean when the tealight is lit there is the possibility of the wax running out.
I did have a couple of instances where the wax ran over the side of the shell - make sure the level of the wax reaches just below the edge of the shell when the shell is standing on a flat surface.  The wicks will fold over when they come into contact with the hot wax - you may have to prop them up with something until the surface of the wax forms a skin.  I used souvlaki sticks.  The kitchen paper was to prop up a shell that had a particularly bad spillage!
I had more wax than I needed for the four scallop shells I had planned for - I used this in a couple of oysters and a clam.
Leave the tealights to cool down - I was a bit worried about the bumpy surface caused by adding the wax in increments, but as they cooled, the surface evened out.  Tip the excess wax into a disposable container (not into screwed up kitchen paper like I did because then it runs all over your work surface and makes a big mess....) and leave to cool - then you can either re-use it or throw it away.  Pour boiling water into the pan and leave to cool - any wax left in the pan will rise to the top and form a crust which can then be thrown away.  The pan can then be thoroughly washed.  When the wax in the shells is completely cool and solid, trim the wicks to about half an inch - you will probably have a couple of inches of wick left over from each candle - don't throw these away, they could be used for other small candles.
Due to the wobbly nature of shells and the danger of melted wax and an open flame, I would recommend that these tealights are only used outside in the garden and definitely not on your best tablecloth!  I haven't tried these yet - if I find out any other potential problems, I will let you know!

* I tried out the smallest of these candles yesterday and was very pleased to discover they burn for about 3 hours, the wax only dribbles a tiny bit - would still recommend they are only used outside. Pretty!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Feeling Almost Human...

No, it's OK, you don't have to keep watch any more, I promise things have calmed down here! In fact, we are feeling more like this....
The mongoose and the lemur sunbathing were a couple of the animals we saw at Beale Park on Wednesday before I had my run in with the builders.  We were fascinated by the way the lemur just sat in the lotus position and embraced the sunshine - I think he as the right attitude to life!

So, It's Saturday and as of lunchtime the builders have left until Monday and all is peaceful.  I've cleaned the house, been outside and planted some seedlings and tidied up the jungly bits.
The new grass is starting to grow, there are flowers on the beans, tomatoes and grapevine and it's all beginning to look pretty.
I've had time to make orange cupcakes for tea - with glitter just for Stacie!
Later I shall be clothing this little guy.  Am I odd that I love knitted zombies?  This pattern amuses me so much.

I also have to knit a radiator......not sure how yet, this could be a tricky one!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Incredible Stupidity...

We went out for the day yesterday - it was lovely, walking round a park, looking at the aninals in a little zoo, drinking in the sunshine.  However, we came home to find - yet again - our house in disarray.  The pavement was dug up, my car had a large piece of wood propped up against it and was covered in filth, and we were unable to access our front door.  We do understand that this work has to be done, but no-one had had the courtesy to advise us that it was happening that day.  So I moved my car, dusted it off and checked for damage and went inside for a cup of tea.
An hour later, after the builders had left, we went outside only to find ourselves barricaded in.  Yes, they had erected a fence and jammed it in so tightly we were in effect prisoners in our own home.  Not only that, our hedge - which my partner had spent a long time on Tuesday clipping and making perfectly straight - now had a huge hole in it where a lump of fencing had been rammed in hard.
I don't know if they think because we live on a council estate we don't matter, or if they just don't think at all.
We had to break our way out in order for a repair man to come,and to be able to take our bins out.  I dread to think what would have happened if this had happened on a day when my daughter arrives home by taxi and makes her own way to the front door.  Needless to say, words have and will be spoken to the offending parties....

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Don't Give Me That Look!

Do you ever see a toy in a shop and although you know you have plenty of toys at home cluttering up the place, you still have to have this one?  This bear fell into that category although I think he might be trouble - look at that expression!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sunny Saturday Morning...

For the past week I have been without a car (curse you Japanese manufacturers, why are spare parts so difficult to source - and five times more expensive?) which has meant I have had to walk everywhere.  Not so much fun when you have to carry a ton of shopping a mile home, but you do get to see some pretty scenery.  This is Basingstoke canal this morning.
We found a couple of ducks to throw bread at, and admired all the gardens on the opposite bank.  We walked home a quicker way though - bags of vegetables from the market to carry!
Hopefully with the better weather, my tomatoes might improve.  Despite their weedy appearance, I discovered we have some flowers on one of the plants.  I do know that down in Devon at Soggibottom cottage there is a tiny tomato however  - I may have already been defeated in our competition this year!
Tempting though it was to go outside and potter in the garden, I chose to get on with this repair that has been hanging over me since last week.  The bracelet belongs to a colleague of mine at the day job.  I have never re-strung pearls before but figured it would be quite simple.....  Actually, once I worked out that I needed two needles and thread in order to tie the little knots between pearls it went quite smoothly.  Very fiddly however and not something I would want to do on a regular basis.
But it is almost as good as new - I hope she is pleased with it.  I'm getting paid in red wine for this - no complaints from me about that!
I saw this pattern in a magazine last month and really wanted to try it out. It's a Waspinator - the theory being that if you hang up a fake wasp nest in your garden, the wasps will think they have a rival colony to contend with and go elsewhere.  I do hope it works as I hate seeing wasps dead and dying in the glass wasp trap we have used for the past few years, plus other bugs and even butterflies get stuck in there as well.

This had been crocheted in a combination of yarns to get the stripy effect - I stuffed it with plastic bags as per the instructions so that if it gets rained upon nothing dire will happen to it. These can be removed from the opening underneath which ties up with a drawstring.  I shall keep you posted as to whether or not it works!