Sunday, 27 December 2015


Now that Christmas is over, I want to get back to normal but we have another week of everyone home and being without routine.  I don't do very well without routine.  I have been knitting a complicated lace scarf but have made a serious error somewhere due to knitting under the influence of alcohol.  I can't face sorting it out just yet, so am knitting a simple triangular scarf using some self-patterning wool I bought a couple of months back.  It's only cheap & cheerful, but I do like the effect - Mr.B says it makes me look clever.  I didn't hit him.
There were some terrific books for me under the Christmas tree, I can't wait to get stuck in.  I've already read Steal Like An Artist in one sitting - inspirational stuff.
When I was a child, we always had a new jigsaw puzzle at Christmas - it used to be set up on a fold-up card table with a felt top that was basically only ever used for jigsaws.  This year I got given a jigsaw puzzle for the first time in years.  I'm having a spot of bother - look at the next photo to see why.
And the picture of the picture is about 2 inches long and in black & white.  This could take a while!

I'm longing for things to get back to normal so that I can get back to the easel.  Or even get near the easel.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Tis The Season To Be Jolly....

 Not that I'm feeling all that jolly at the moment - weary I think is the word!  Not much crafting going on this week due to Christmas preparations and the new addition to our family.  I did knit the 'Christmas tree' neckwarmer in a different yarn, Jester, which has integral bobbles.  Not sure I am quite so keen on it - I think the yarn has to be quite thick for this pattern to really work.
Yesterday was spent doing a bit of baking - mince pies to last us over the next few days and some stollen muffins using a recipe in December's Simple Things magazine.  I can highly recommend the muffins, absolutely delicious, although I wouldn't like to think of how many calories are in them...

The Christmas cake has been iced as well, but not fully decorated as yet - thinking the decorations need replacing, so yes, the day before Christmas Eve is the day to look in the shops for cake decorations, isn't it!
Thankfully I managed to complete all Christmas commissions in plenty of time, and now just have the one to work on over the next few weeks.  I'm having to make up this composition from many photos, age the children, add the dogs and hope to goodness it all pans out in the end.  I have the finished picture in my head, so that always helps, I'm not working totally without a clue!
In the meantime, Daisy, our new dog is settling in well.  Apart from an incident on the second day concerning the postman - which I don't want to talk about just yet - she is a cracking little dog.  It took a few days for her to calm down, but that's understandable when you have been brought up in a home then suddenly put into boarding kennels and then into an RSPCA rehoming centre with all the big scary dogs.  She's clean around the house, very friendly and loving, had absolutely no manners at all but in the space of a week has learned to sit quietly while her harness is put on, stop pestering for food at mealtimes (well, almost) and that no-one will play with her unless she drops the toy nicely.  Pretty good going so far!  Our resident hound, Clovis, has been remarkably tolerant - he tried ignoring her in the hope she would go away and that didn't work, so now he is allowing her to sit next to him on the sofa, sniff his sniffs on walks, and hasn't shown any signs of jealousy.  Well done old man!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Been A Bit Busy....

The week before Christmas is probably not the most sensible time to adopt a rescue dog, but when the right one comes along you can't hang about.  It's been an eventful week to say the least, but it's going well - Clovis is sulking a bit but coming around slowly!

More when I have the time!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Needs A Fairy...

 As a last minute gift idea, I thought I'd knit the Christmas tree neck warmer that features in the latest Knitty.com   It is a brilliant pattern, very effective indeed.  I didn't put the bead decorations on this one as the recipient is a big burly bloke, but would like to make another with the beads on it.
I did have a couple of false starts - couldn't find the aran wool I was sure I had, so used some ordinary DK which was too thin & had to be doubled up - but despite this I would dispute the sentence on the pattern saying this can be knitted in a day.  Yes it could if you did nothing else all day!  It took me three evenings of about 4 hours work each.  However, that's a minor gripe - I love this and think it is very clever.

Excuse the rubbish photos - it's early in the morning and I have to wrap the neck warmer up for posting very shortly!

Not getting much else done at the moment - we've just adopted a second dog so the house is in a bit of an uproar as we all settle in to a new routine.

Monday, 14 December 2015


I've just finished this portrait of Enzo, a magnificent looking cat who is sadly no longer with us.  As he had such a wealth of fluffy fur and brilliant aquamarine coloured eyes, it required a slightly different technique this time.  I've used a combination of various coloured pencils, softer than Derwent Drawing pencils, together with watercolour paint and a touch of acrylic for the white highlights.  It was quite tricky, but immensely satisfying!

One more commission to do, this time for the middle of January - an interesting one requiring quite a bit of thought.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Oh Christmas Tree...

Usually I hold off until my birthday (Dec 15th, presents welcome....) to put the Christmas tree up, but this year we found the perfect one a week earlier and bought it rather than wait. 
I'm not in the colour-coordinated professional looking decorations camp - it's chuck everything on there, fill all the spaces, who cares if it matches.  Most of the decorations hold memories - there are a few clay & glitter ones made by my daughter over the years, an angel made from mother of pearl that was on a gift when we lived in Greece, a knitted Santa made by my late mother, some fancy ones given to me by children I have taught over the years, and glass baubles that have lasted over 30 years.
Each year I do add to the collection - this year I found glass flamingoes in Paperchase.  These are not going back into the box when Christmas is over however!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Cats For Christmas...

 It's been a very busy week, lots of knitting, mainly for Nudinits so those pieces will be seen in their run up to Christmas pictures.  Worth taking a look if you'd like a chuckle! 

I've also been working on a portrait of a cat, as well as his knitted replica.  The portrait is still in progress and I'm keeping this one under wraps until it is finished.  The replica however, was finished last night.
 He's small, grey and fluffy, with wool jointed legs.  Luckily I had some green cats' eyes left in my collection.
He has a replica bed too - I think the bed was trickier to make than the cat!

If you'd like your pet knitted, do get in touch, although I can't guarantee it to be ready for Christmas unless you live in the UK and even that is pushing it a bit!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Cat On A Wall...

I've been working solidly for the past few months, mainly on dog portraits.  Whilst they are great fun to do and I never get bored with them, it doesn't do to paint the same thing over and over again without a change as there is a very real chance of your work getting stale and formulaic.  So when I get a couple of days 'spare', I like to paint something else, just to keep my hand in.

This magnificent fellow lives over the road from me, and his favourite perch is up on a garden wall where he can survey his domain!  I've been wanting to paint him for months (and his ginger friend) but never remembered to get a photo or two - luckily the other day my partner had his phone to hand and I was able to get a few reference pics.

This is a watercolour, kept quite simple - had to be as I only had a day or so in which to do it.  The bricks were fun - lots of wet in wet colours sprinkled with salt to get the rough textured look.  Now I have got that out of my system, it's on to the next commission....which is actually a cat.  Oh well!

On the needles: Nativity bits!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Taking A Breather...

 It has been manic the past couple of weeks, lots to be done and deadlines to be met before Christmas.  I just about finished my to-do list by Friday and decided to take a couple of days to catch my breath - just as well, as there is another to-do list to be started on Monday!  In the meantime, I have been fiddling about with Quink ink again - still not happy with the results but I think that is down to my composition rather than the materials.  I will find a way of using this and getting something I'm 100% pleased with.
I started this shawl a few days ago, using Scheepjeswol Sunkissed - a fabulous thin cotton yarn, very soft and very pretty.  This is knitting up quite quickly as it is on larger needles - needs a lot of concentration to follow the chart though.

Next on the easel: a cat portrait
Next on the needles: same cat!
There is also a large bag of holly and ivy that needs making into a wreath...

Friday, 27 November 2015

Stacie's Chicken & A Clanger

I don't often get to see my daughter's work that she does at the art studio, but yesterday she brought home this lovely silk painting of a chicken.  I'm planning on making it into a cushion for her so that we can see it rather than have it hidden away.  Not bad for someone who has problems with fine motor skills!
Another Clanger completed and ready to go to his new home.  These are fun to make but so fiddly.
The knitting is easy enough, it;s the final assembly that's the tricky bit.
This one is going to Texas - funny how all my Clangers emigrate to the USA!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Lovely Linen Lace

 I've been knitting this for a while now, squeezing it in among everything else.  It;s been made using some very fine linen yarn I bought a few weeks ago at a fabric show.
 I did start a different pattern with it but found the yarn did not suit, so tried this slightly simpler design which shows off the yarn to perfection.
 The linen is slightly crisp since being washed, but I think will soften with wear.  Now for sale in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Web Warriors - Iron Fist

Apparently there is a cartoon called Spiderman Web Warriors, with a character called Iron Fist.  You'd have thought that anything coming under the Spiderman franchise would have some merchandise, especially around Christmas but it would seem not.  So rather than have their little girl sorely disappointed this year, a thoughtful mum and dad asked if I could re-create Iron Fist in wool.  So I did.  I'm sure given a bit more time I could tweak this pattern further, but I think he will pass muster under the Christmas tree.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Savvi & Blue

 Here are the pair of greyhounds I've been working on the past couple of weeks.  This has been executed in Derwent Drawing Pencils on watercolour paper for a change.  I'm not sure I would use watercolour paper again - the tooth was quite rough and I had trouble getting smooth lines at times. Perhaps smooth paper would have been better!  However, it was good to be able to paint the background I wanted and have the white of the paper shine through in certain places.

This completes the Christmas commissions for the time being - I'm free if you would like to grab me!
Another Christmas commission currently on the needles is this gentleman - Iron Fist from Spiderman Web Warriors apparently. I'm having to design this as I go along and thankfully it is going well, because I really don't have the time for it to go wrong.  It's been a lot of fun actually - I'm very proud of the body shaping I have achieved - wait until you see the feet!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Walks In The Woods...

We've just had a lovely three day break in the forest cabin again.  The weather wasn't great, but we didn't get too wet over all and it was so mild I even got the chance to sit outside on the balcony and paint the view. This is just a little 30 minute watercolour sketch, but it gets down the colours at least.
My daughter thought the cabins looked like the houses in Twilight and also asked if there were bears in the woods!  All we saw were birds however.
The leaves were still partially on the trees, still with the glorious autumnal hues.
This was sunrise yesterday morning, bathing the woods with a beautiful pink light for a few minutes.

However, any benefits from being away from the world for a few days (and this particular weekend we were very glad to be away from the terrible events going on) were wiped out when we returned home to discover the water tank in our roof had leaked the whole weekend and the ceiling was streaming water through the smoke alarm, soaking the carpet below.  Desperate phone calls to the housing association ensued and they were brilliant in sending round an electrician and a plumber within an hour or so.  Nobody to sort out the saturated ceiling however, and we had to call out the electrician again as the residue water started to once again pour into our brand new smoke alarm.  Now we wait to see if the insurance company will spring for a new carpet!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Funny Old Month...

November is proving to be a bit unusual in some respects.  This is the busiest I've been in the run up to Christmas for a while, so personal projects have had to be put on the back burner for a while.  I'm managing to put a little time each day into this though - a lace scarf knitted in a fine linen yarn.  It looks a bit like a dishrag at the moment, but I think once blocked it will be beautiful - the yarn is a soft grey with a bit of a sheen to it, and about as thick as crochet cotton.  It's quite tricky to knit with, but I am sure will be worth the effort.
I usually make our Christmas cake at the end of October in order to have plenty of time to 'water' it with brandy before Christmas.  A couple of weeks late this year as I've been so busy, but it's finally done and maturing in a tin tucked away.  I use a recipe in a Stork cookbook given to me by my parents when I left that's quite an old book!  It's proved invaluable over the years and I still refer to it for good basic home cooking recipes.
Bizarrely, while the cake was baking away in the oven, I was outside in my shirtsleeves mowing the grass and tidying up the garden, with all windows & doors open.  I still can't do all the clearing up that is needed to put the garden to bed for winter - cosmos are flowering more prolifically than they did in the summer.
The black-eyed susan has gone berserk covering half the pergola and shows no sign of stopping flowering.
And against the house the pepino (tree melon) has finally got a fruit and is also flowering more than it did in the summer.
I have a feeling this will end in tears once the frosts begin - it would be nice to harvest one fruit at least though!

On the easel:  still the greyhounds
On the needles: Christmas stuff!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Greys 2...

For some strange reason, I had some spare time yesterday - doesn't often happen on a Saturday - so was able to make considerable progress on this.  Let's hope that happens today as well!

Friday, 6 November 2015


 A couple of weeks ago I got some beautiful yarn at a car boot sale, but only one ball of it - Stonewashed by Scheepjeswol.  I started knitting this lovely lace cowl, realised it wasn't going to be enough so ended ordering a couple more balls.  Not that I minded as I love this soft cotton yarn with a dark grey fuzz to it, it feels as soft as wool without the itchiness.
 This is now finished and ready to go into my Etsy shop.
Started a double greyhound portrait yesterday and made some good progress - hopefully I'll be able to whizz through this one.  Drawn in Derwent Drawing pencils on watercolour paper for a change.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A Little Break...

Painting the last dog portrait was quite intense, requiring a lot of concentration. Before moving on to the next one which will also require a lot of concentration, I took a day away and did a quick watercolour of a bear instead.  Surprisingly, this only took about an hour and a half - I just wanted to do something loose and fun before tackling another commission.  It also helped receiving a really good fineliner masking fluid in my Art & Parcel box this week - I can see that will be used up pretty fast!


Yesterday I put the finishing touches to this, with a slight tinge of regret.  I could tinker with it for another couple of days but in all honesty it is complete.  This was painted with acrylics on Dalerboard treated with several layers of gesso for a smooth surface.  It makes life a lot easier not having to battle against the rough surface of the board, especially when making tiny precise brushstrokes.

I thoroughly enjoyed painting a different kind of dog - I seem to paint a lot of lurcher types and labradors. Nothing wrong with those, it's just nice to ring the changes occasionally.  However, next up are a pair of greyhounds - the photo session for them was a nightmare, they just wouldn't keep still!  Out of 40 photos taken, I managed to get 2 that are workable.

On the needles: nothing in particular - no commissions at present, so it is time to work my way through the pile of WIP's that seems to have accumulated.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Dog & Bear

I'm sure my heading is the name of a pub somewhere!  This is a quick experimental picture I drew/painted using Quink ink and a photo reference taken from the live cams over on  Since discovering that I can actually take photos from the live cameras (which still blows my mind!) I have been making sketches and seeing how I can use this wonderful new way of getting reference pictures.
I'm also still learning how Quink works when mixed with water, so neither of these pictures  are anything other than part of a learning experience.
Last week I got a commission to recreate a shaggy grey lurcher in wool - here he is.  Each time I make one of these I am amazed at how different they turn out.
This is actually the kind of dog I would like to have (as well as Clovis of course!)
For now I will have to make do with mini knitted ones!