Sunday, 31 January 2016

Hello February!

I've never been so glad to see the back of a month as I am to wave goodbye to January 2016!  What a ghastly few weeks it has been - I am hoping that February will see an upturn in our luck as we could sure use it.

This little pencil drawing has gone some way to keeping me sane - I've put a considerable amount of hours into it, but it is very slow progress.  Nearing the finish line now, just the left-hand greenery to do.  I'm using Derwent Coloursoft pencils - lovely selection of colours, but do need a lot of repeated going over to get the depth of colour I am after.  Not a problem, in fact quite soothing!  I did discover that I can scrape back the applied colour with a sharp blade to reveal the first colour used - terrific for detail on the shiny feathers.
I've had this sumptious ball of laceweight yarn for months now, since my last trip to London.  Finally started a wide lace scarf with it and am loving the way the colours blend into each other.  The flash on the camera has made the purples a lot brighter than they actually are, but it is still a stunning colourway.
I've been having a small spring clean of various drawers in the house lately, the spice drawer being one of them.  I discovered I had caraway seeds (who knew??) and with the left over beetroot in the fridge, it all came together to make this interesting cake, recipe in this month's Simple Things magazine.  I wonder if it tastes as good as it looks...

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Pretty in Pink...

And so January rumbles on, not really improving as it goes, creativity in freefall as a result!  However, I have managed to knit another dog coat - just a simple version using pink and green varigated wool this time.
Daisy is a bit of a girl when it comes to her appearance - she got very excited when I bought her a new collar, and is very enthusiastic to put on a new coat.  As to when I get the brush out, she just laps it up.  I've never had a dog that does this - usually coats and collars are met with disdain or downright misery, and brushing is a task done on the move. 

I'm avoiding dolling her up too much however - it's not worth it other than to keep her clean & warm.  Just look at her feet, wet, muddy and tangled.  The country walks we go on would just ruin any fancy fripperies, plus I prefer a dog to be a dog, not a dress-up doll.  I am open to knitting coats for other small dogs though!

Still working on this - it's a very slow process with these pencils.  It's calming though and is quite an antidote to the stresses this January has brought.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Taking It Slow...

Well, the beginning of 2016 was so awful that I haven't felt very inspired of late.  However, as things slowly quiet down it has been possible to gently get back into the swing of things. I've had this picture of a turaco in mind for months, probably since the summer, and have finally got a spare week to get on with it.  I am using Derwent Coloursoft pencils - a huge set of 72 that I was given on my birthday.  They are indeed quite soft and took a while to get used to, but I am now getting the hang of them and realising they need to be built up with many layers to get the depth of colour I want, but it is worth the extra effort.  The slow pace has been great for de-stressing!
With the January sales going on in our town, I have found several knitting books going very cheap.  One had this fab hat pattern in it, which justified the whole £3 I spent on the book!  Quite complicated when you are not feeling 100%, but it turned out well - a present for my boy!

It's been a tad chilly this week -this was the edge of the pond yesterday where the fountain had gone off centre and sprayed the rocks.  Pretty!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Let it Snow...

...Oh no, please don't!  But if it does snow, Daisy will be ready for it.  Mr.B gave me some knitting patterns for dog coats for Christmas and as Daisy is small enough to make for without it becoming an epic undertaking, I thought I'd knit one for her.  I've just used some acrylic yarn that I had in my stash - real wool would be nice but not very practical when it comes to her crashing through the long wet grass as I am sure it would stretch and bag.  Plus, hopefully, I can just throw this in the washing machine when it gets muddy.

As I got into this pattern, I realised it bore a striking resemblance to something I had made before... is just a full size version of the pattern I use for miniature dog sets!  Everything is the same, even the belt and buttons!
It looks complicated but the stitch pattern was just a 4 row repetition, easy to memorise.  Now we await some snow or at least frost so that she can wear it - despite the media predictions, we just awoke to the usual wet this morning.
I also finished this a few days ago. but decent daylight to photograph it in has been in short supply.  This is just a simple triangular shawl using varigated acrylic yarn.  Very effective though.  When I get some decent photos, it will be in my Etsy shop.

I might be persuaded to knit more dog coats - I have ideas about designs, but not started anything as yet.  Don't be afraid to just ask!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Pope's Oak

I don't know where Pope's Oak is, but I think I'd like to go there!  I finished this yesterday afternoon, just squeaking within the deadline - it's been tough finding time for painting with the dire New Year we have had so far.

This is painted in acrylic and the composition was very tricky.  I was told what was wanted, but given a selection of about twenty photos to work from as I had to paint the woodland walk, put in three children walking/running, none of which were in a photo together.  I also had to age them by a few years as the photos I had were from a while back. Then I had to add three black photos there, and the French Bulldog.  Oh yes, and I had to make up their clothing as well. Thank heavens for Google Images - hours spent looking for photos of teenages walking away fromcamera and suitably posed labradors!

I am relieved to say the lady who commissioned this was over the moon with it and picked it up within an hur of it's completion.  I now have absolutley no work on, but that's OK - I haven't had a break since about last September so am going to take a few daysto re-group and paint a fewthings of my own.

Plus today is the day my darling Clovis goes in for an echocardiogram - I'm praying the news won't be too dire, but I'm not very hopeful - so I think I will need a bit of space for a while.

On the needles: a dog coat for Daisy.  This has given me a couple of ideas.....

Friday, 8 January 2016

Playing Catch Up...

As far as work is concerned, the New Year started well with an order for a Clanger - Tiny this time, the little girl one with a bow in her hair. I also decided to give her a set of pan pipes, in line with her character on the tv show.
I remember the first Clanger I made seemed to take forever for some reason - now I can get the main body done in a couple of evenings. 
This one is staying in the UK for a change!
I've been trying to put some hours into this painting - I have a tight deadline now and am pretty cross that all the spare time I had over the past couple of weeks has been taken up with either cooking, cleaning or sorting out our run of breakdowns.  As of yesterday the heating is fixed, the ceiling is fixed, nothing else has broken, the dog is awaiting an echocardiogram next week & ticking along on his meds quite well and my streaming cold seems to be dissipating, so hopefully I can knuckle down to it over the next few days.  I'm enjoying painting this although it has taken a great deal of thought as I am composing it from about ten different photographs.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Can't See The Wood For The Trees...

I'm finally getting a bit of time to work on this.  So far it's been a matter of getting the trees in the background done so that I can work out the rest of the picture.  This is a tricky one, as I am working from many different photos, as well as having to 'grow' the children to their current ages.  Also, try finding a photo of black labradors running away from the camera, almost impossible! 

This is being worked in acrylics - just as well as I can paint out any mistakes easily! 

It's been hard to find any time at all for painting at the moment.  Our luck has not changed with the new year - still no heating, and the results of Clovis's ECG were not conclusive so he will have to go for an angiogram and Xrays in order to find out exactly what is going on with his heart.  There is also a chance he may have cancer - he has a lump growing on his throat.  Thankfully, being a dog, he has no idea this is all going on and with the tablets that are tiding him over at the moment his life hasn't changed much, apart from being kept on the lead and his owner bursting into tears randomly!
I did catch him out yesterday though, the old devil.  Daisy went for a proper haircut at a groomers, and was gone for over two hours - during which time I took Clovis for a nice walk on his own without the whippersnapper.  When I finally brought her home, he got very excited to see her and was prancing around like a pony - so what were all the sulking and mournful looks over the past fortnight about Clovis?  It would seem Daisy isn't so bad after all!
She has scrubbed up very nicely - I think whoever gave her up to the RSPCA was an idiot.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year!

2015 was a pretty good year for the first eleven months - my first year working from home, with plenty of work coming in, time to care for my family without rushing about, no builders next door so the garden was utilised and enjoyed fully, some lovely outings and generally living life peacefully which is all anyone could want.

However, December...not so much!  In the past fortnight we have had a series of things going wrong around the house - the oven, the heating (still cold today!), vacuum cleaner, car, various other minor appliances.  Yesterday, the final day of 2015, was a doozy - not only was it the day the heating broke, my poor Clovis collapsed on his walk in the morning.   I managed to get him home & to the vets, where the diagnosis was that he has heart problems.  He stayed for an ECG, results of which did not come in by the end of the day so we will have to wait until Monday due to the bank holidays.  So he is home, on tablets to tide him over until we know exactly what the problems are & the correct medication can be prescribed.  He's an old dog, but we're not ready to lose him just yet.

I'm hoping that such a concentrated run of bad luck is now gone with the old year and that 2016 can be a fresh start and we get a bit of respite for a while - I'm exhausted!

Very little painting or crafting done due to the festive (!) season and extenuating circumstances - hopefuly normal service will be resumed on Monday.