Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cat And Garden...

I'm still working on this cat portrait in Derwent Drawing Pencils - not going as fast as it should, as I keep getting distracted, but making good progress nonetheless.  Luckily there is not a tight deadline for this, so I can afford to go at my own pace.
It would help if the garden was not such a pull!  We went to the Unusual Plant Fair in Selbourne at the weekend and came home with this - it has a name, but I can't remember it.  There was bloodshed when re-potting it, it is lethally spiky.  We left it in the plant creche at the fair and came back to find it had been put into solitary confinement - with good reason!
Also brought this home - just could not resist him, plus he was within my budget unlike the bird I really did want...
This was life-size!  We took photos in the hope that Bob might one day make me one....
Big excitement at the weekend when we discovered a (singular) flower on our kiwi vine.  The kiwi has been in place for about 15years and never produced anything and lives under constant threat of being cut down.  I'm hoping there were other flowers hidden amongst it otherwise one kiwi fruit is not going to go far among three of us.

Also been fruit picking - gooseberries & strawberries, so jam making on the agenda today.

On the needles: still the baby blanket plus got an order for 4 crochet geckos (?)

Thursday, 18 June 2015


I've been teaching a couple of talented boys how to paint and draw for quite a few years now, since they first went to junior school.  They are now reaching the stage where everything they have learnt is starting to pay off, and it is wonderful to see them begin to master certain mediums and develop their own styles.  Yesterday I had a lesson with one of them and he has discovered lately that watercolours are the medium for him.  We've been working on washes, wet into wet, and other fairly basic techniques that give good almost immediate results - a real boost to his self-confidence to have something worth looking at after an hour's work!  He suggested we get some fruit this time - he's sketched fruit in pencil on numerous occasions, also used watercolour pencils to good effect.  Unfortunately, I did not think to photograph his painting before he left, but here is mine that I painted alongside him in order to show him what techniques and colours to use.  It was very good to have the exercise mentally, to have to observe carefully and work fast and loose!  I forget how much I enjoy little spontaneous watercolours - should do more.
However, I am currently working on a double cat portrait in Derwent Drawing Pencils, something which is definitely not loose - tight and detailed.  Considering I have pretty bad photos to work from, for this cat at least, it has made a very good start and I am happy with the way it is going...for now.

On the needles: still plugging away at the baby blanket; trying out a knitted dog on those tiny needles - it's going to be ridiculously small!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

In A Right Pickle....

I seem to have spent an awful lot of my time this week chopping up vegetables and clearing up the resulting mess.  The house reeks, so do I, but it was all worth it.  Today's result was three jars of picalilli - my first time making it.  We won't know what it tastes like for a few weeks, but it looks all right!
Yesterday's result was five jars of apple & tomato chutney - since making this, I can no longer eat Branston as homemade is so much better.  It should be left for a month to mature but often I can't wait that long!

And in the garden, it's all looking lovely...

...when the weather is fine I find it hard to stay away.
There is so much to look at - I've jammed in so many plants in such a tiny space.
Some are well ahead, others are on their way - the Cosmos I grew from seed are still growing. This year I made bamboo support grids for them as they always seem to collapse if it rains.
There should be a lot of produce this year as well - fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Little & Large

At the moment I have quite a contrast in the projects I am knitting.  On the one hand is this, a baby shawl knitted in fabulous pure wool on size 5 needles in a reversible cable pattern.  It's soft, smells delicious, and is growing at a visible rate - always encouraging!

On the other hand, I am also knitting tiny props for Nudinits - using size 2 needles.  I actually enjoy the small knitting very much - so much so, I have invested in a set of metal circular needles that arrived from China (via Amazon!) yesterday.
Not only did they come in a compact handy case (with a panda on it), which made me squee with delight, but they also are organised very efficiently:
Whilst I have a vast selection of needles and have also just bought a large complete set of bamboo circulars in a range of sizes, the reason I bought this set was for this....
1.5mm needles!  I did not know they existed, let alone come in circular form.  I cannot wait to have a go with them and see just how small I can make something.  How big would one of my dog sets turn out?  Or one of the small creatures from Nudinits?  The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

This Is Not A Drill...

...although it very much looks like one!  If you follow Nudinits on Twitter, you will have noticed that topical pictures featuring Bernard & Barbara have been posted since the animation itself went public.  For all these topical pictures, someone (me!) has been beavering away knitting the props.  I am particularly proud of how this little drill turned out  It's less than 3 inches long, took an evening to make, and is cute as a button.

Keep your eye out during Glastonbury and Wimbledon for more tweets and to see what I have been creating!

On the needles: a baby blanket
On the easel: cats!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


Just completed, using Derwent Drawing Pencils on cream pastel paper.  Very pleased with how this one turned out, and also the usual sadness that it is over.  On to the next one!

If you would like a portrait of your pet, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Dog & Bone...

Last week I cracked and finally bought myself a smart phone, albeit the cheapest I could find.  Of course, smart phones are much bigger than the antiquated mobile that I have been using for the past I-don't-know-how-many years, so it needed a new cover.  Simple enough to make, a piece of watery-look fabric, some matching felt to line it and all sewn together with blanket stitch.  Then cut out a goldfish shape and embroider it on with a bit of gold crochet cotton, add a few sequins & Bob's your uncle!
I've even put a button for closing it, but feel that might get annoying when needing to get the phone out in a hurry, but it's there anyway.

Although I don't use my mobile much, I am really liking that I can use the new one as an MP3 player - spent hours downloading all my music at the weekend.
I was having the usual crisis of confidence over the weekend - it always happens when a painting is at the half-way point.  However, yesterday I put in a couple of hours and once I had added the shading under the muzzle, everything suddenly fell into place and I feel confident once more.  This should be finished in a couple of days.
Strawberries are ripening in the garden...
..and see if you can spot the very small first tomato of the season!

Friday, 5 June 2015

A Good Day's Work

I spent three hours on this today while demonstrating at the local exhibition. It's amazing what you can get done when you don't have the siren song of the garden or a ton of housework you think needs doing!  Also got there to discover my zebra painting had won a Highly Commended and I got a gift voucher for a local art store.  What with that and coming home to find the new Stephen King book on the mat, a pretty good day all round!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

On Procrastination...

 I made these cookies on Tuesday - using my new cactus cookie cutter and also picking more violas from the garden for the round ones.  Quite fiddly and time consuming, especially when I should have been doing this:
 I've had a month to get my paintings ready for the Fleet Art Society exhibition which starts today, so why did I leave it all to two days beforehand? Beats me, I don't know where the time goes!  Every year is the same, I think I have plenty of time, get involved with other things and then suddenly have just 48 hours to frame a bunch of paintings.  Usually something goes wrong - dog hair under the glass, glass breaking, you get the idea. This year I had no excuse not to have done these earlier as I no longer work at the school.  Luckily, everything went really well, no hiccups in the process and even when I discovered one of the paintings was a silly size for normal frames, I was able to find a frame to fit it in town within ten minutes.

So off they go this morning - let's hope I get a sale or two!
 The weather has been cold and wet for a while so I was at least unable to waste time in the garden.  Things are growing well and hopefully this current warm spell will push it all along - there will be lots of produce if nothing dire happens.
 I didn't sow these, they appeared earlier this year in a hanging basket, must have self seeded.  They look so pretty all together in their little terracotta pots. Not destined for cookies!

On the needles: Cotton summer top - could be next summer at the rate I'm going.
                         More little things for Nudinits - you'll just have to keep an eye on Twitter for them

On the easel -  Dog portrait, coming along nicely.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Sewing, Socks & Shells...amongst other things!

I've spent the past week doing a lot of sewing of scenery - above is just a snippet, the rest has to remain under wraps for now.  Not much more left to do on my part, then the animation will begin in earnest.
I've also completed a pair or socks - quite an accomplishment for me, I hate knitting socks.  I do like wearing hand knitted socks, so occasionally have to knuckle down and get some done.  These are little ankle socks - chosen not only for the design but also for the minimum amount of work...
I made a couple of these - the first one for a gift, the next to use up all the shells I drilled holes in!  These are winkles gathered last year in Alderney, such pretty colours.  I have an identical bracelet from a few years ago and wear it a lot.  This one is currently for sale in my Etsy shop.
The gift was for an internet pal of mine (Hi T!) from Arizona that I met for the first time at the weekend briefly as she was on stopover at Heathrow.  I was given a surprise box of treats and souvenirs from Arizona - they must be the most travelled bits an pieces around, having been from the USA to Jersey and then back here.  I'm trying not to shovel all the sweets in at once...
Finally the portrait commissions are coming in again after a worrying lull since Christmas.  This a drawing of Clovis's best friend, a gorgeous little saluki cross.  After this, I have a cat portrait to do.

At the end of the week is the local art society's exhibition - really ought to frame those pictures that are going in...