Saturday, 23 December 2017

It's Simply Enormous!

I bought a cake of Rico Creative Wool Degrade at the fabric fair back in September with the idea to make this shawl - I didn't realise quite what an epic undertaking it would turn out to be!  Initially I thought the yarn was laceweight, but upon getting it home I discovered that it was made up of four strands of laceweight yarn and there was no way of separating it, so I had to knit on bigger needles than planned.  So it looked as if it was going to be quite big from the outset...

Then with about eight inches of the point left to knit, I ran out of yarn and had to buy another cake of it - not cheap may I say!  I finally finished it this week as it has been a bit of an off and on project amongst the comissioned work.  It's very nice - soft, with the colour fading from a dark grey at the top to a very pale, almost white, grey at the point.  And big...very, very big!

For sale in my Etsy shop now.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Last Minute Dogs...

 It never pays to get complacent - these dogs were a commission that I got about a fortnight ago, to knit replicas of a pair of beloved pets.  I thought I was going to have some spare time to prepare for Christmas!  These did not go to plan - I started the lurcher using a ball of yarn I had of a discontinued line, hoping that it would be enough. It wasn't.  I was lacking two legs worth.  So I ordered something similar and hoped for the best.  When I started another dog with the new yarn, I realised it was a bit too thick, but I had to soldier on as there was no choice in the matter.  Then when I went to a garden centre last Friday, I found that they had a few balls of the original yarn in their craft section - hooray!  So that saved a lot of extra work!
The second dog is a French Bulldog.  Due to time constraints, I was not able to come up with my own pattern, but vaguely remembered that there was a pattern in the book Best in Show, Knit Your Dog.  Note to self: NEVER use this book again.  In fact, throw it away.  Right now. Put it in the bin.

For a start, the dimensions for the body were way too large for the head.  So I improvised, missed out a 6 stitch increase and used smaller needles.  Then when it came to knitting the  head, which is done on the stitches left on the two side sections, the instructions were so confusing that I ended up unravelling it and starting again as I had done it completely wrong.   As for sewing the thing together, the instructions are so meagre that they were just about no help at all.  The head before shaping looks like a long bag - all you are told to do is fold it up and stitch to head to form nose....huh?  If you do that, you are left with a wadge of fabric with nowhere to go.  It took me over an hour to experiment with shaping and moulding it into some resemblance of a face - it's a good job I am a very experienced knitter & also one that makes a lot of knitted animals.  No novice would have been able to make this pattern successfully.  There are no diagrams, very little help at all.  This is not the first time I have come a cropper with this book  - the patterns are very badly written, with making up instructions that are unclear and fail miserably.  On top of that, the actual dogs that result from these patterns look amateurish and shoddy unless you spend a lot of time fiddling and needle shaping.  It really annoys me that this book is a best seller when it feels to me that the patterns were either rushed, or not proof-read & given to some knitters to try out first.  I know from preparing for the Nudinits book that we were extremely careful to make the patterns accessible to any knitter, whatever their skill level, and made sure that we actually knitted the items again from the written patterns to ensure they were correct and as mistake-free as possible.

Rant over!  I got there in the end and just in time for posting before Christmas.  I'm taking today off!

Monday, 18 December 2017

It's Not A Polar Bear!

Sainsburys are selling these cute little Christmas ornaments ostensibly as polar bears.  As I stood in the supermarket aisle banging on to Mr. B about how it wasn't a polar bear as the bone structure of the skull was all wrong, it was definitely a brown/grizzly bear, he put it in the trolley to buy for me.  So I can paint it the right colours....

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Beary Nice Birthday!

 Obviously Mr. B knows me very birthday presents this year are exceptionally good!
So looking forward to the day with the wolves - what a photo opportunity!

Saturday, 9 December 2017

That's Better...

Crocheted this again using eyelash yarn.  I couldn't see what on earth I was doing through the fluff, but it turned out OK and now I'm happy!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Bear Earrings

These are a private commission, a pair of earrings with a hand painted portrait of Otis the bear on each one.  The wooden discs I used are about 2 cm in diameter so painting such a detailed picture (twice!) was quite a feat.  Actually, three times as the second one I managed to shatter when drilling the hole in it - I learnt a valuable lesson there, drill the hole before painting!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Velcro & Barney...

 Well, I'm still into painting on wooden discs although I can't find the nice smooth domed ones similar to the few I had squirrelled away on my desk.  This is a flat disc, about 8 cm across and is my first trial run.  I discovered half way through that putting paint on these discs causes the grain of the wood to stand up and makes for a very rough painting surface.  Next time I will have to sand it down before actually painting a picture.  This is a young bear called Velcro, from Katmai National Park.
 I've been knitting another replica pet, this time a lurcher called Barney.  He turned out rather cute!
 He comes with the usual bed, blanket and coat.
I'm available if you would like your pet knitted - just enough time to get one done before Christmas!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


I thought I might go Christmas shopping today, but then when I got to the station there were no parking spaces so I came home again and did this instead. Otis the bear in a rare moment of activity at Brooks Falls, Katmai - I used a snap I took on the web cam as reference.  Watercolour on Arches NOT paper - the paper is a sample and I love it, must try and get hold of some more.

Monday, 27 November 2017

I Must Be Out Of My Tiny Mind...

I had this idea of making painted earrings...yeah, well I can't see many pairs of those being made.  This wooden disc is about the size of a 10p coin and the brushes I used were 0000.  Time to have a re-think...

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Selling Like Hot Cakes...

...or something like that.  Third one this week, available in my Etsy shop.

Just made prints of this one available on Society6 - they can be seen here.

Friday, 24 November 2017


A wolf painted in watercolour, using one of the photos I took at the UK Wolf Trust in September as reference.  Completed this really quickly today - got lost in it for a few hours!

Tuesday, 21 November 2017


Another painted pendant, this time a portrait of 503, the bear I recently painted a watercolour of.  This one is a commission and it turned out rather well - he's such a handsome bear!

Polar Bear...

 A couple of weeks ago I bought some sparkly black reminded me of the night sky and I had the idea to make some Christmas decorations.  This is the first of a few - I appliqued the shape of a polar bear (drawn from a photo I took on the polar bear cam) and then embroidered the detail on. I added a bit of 'snow' on the ground and a few twigs.  Finally I stuck on a scattering of tiny silver stars.
It is sewn with silver thread over a piece of foamboard and has the same black sparkly felt on the back.

Currently for sale in my Etsy shop - hopefully there will be more...

Friday, 17 November 2017


I found these wooden disc pendants hidden  in the mess at the back of my desk and thought I'd do a little painting of Otis the bear.  This will be for sale in my Etsy shop as soon as I can figure out how to photograph it without the varnish reflecting!

 It helps when the sun comes out!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Jabba The Hut...and we're done!

 Completed the last in the series, Jabba the Hut.  This one took ages as it is considerably bigger than the other dolls, as you can see.
All these dolls were from a kit by Lucy Collin, called Star Wars Crochet - I can highly recommend it.  You don't get enough wool in the box to make more than about three of the dolls, but it is easily possible to find the oddments you need in your stash.  The patterns were clear and easy to follow, plus very cleverly designed.  I'm not being paid to promote this, I just really liked the patterns!

Next up, a knitted lurcher.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Sleeping Beauty...

A portrait of my favourite bear on the web cam at Katmai National Park, Alaska.  This is the sub adult bear known as 503 - he has a pretty amazing story.  He was abandoned by his mother at only one and a half years old, a year too soon, because she came into estrus and was being pursued by a large boar.  It seems harsh, but it was for his own safety - male bears will kill a cub that gets in the way of their pursuit of a female.  He wandered around lost for a while then started following another female bear that already had a small spring cub a year younger than him.  Somehow he managed to worm his way into the mother bear's affections and was adopted and brought up as her own, even suckling at her teats.  This is almost unheard of in the bear world.

When it was time for his adopted mother known as Holly, to emancipate her own cub, 503 had had an extra year of being with a mother, something that has stood him in good stead.  Since then he has proved to be a very confident and healthy sub adult, fishing at the falls with the large boars, playing with various bears both large and small, and still keeping good company with his adopted sister.  This year he was such a proficient fisher that he ended up sharing his catches with a group of newly emancipated sub adults - another event that is pretty much unheard of, but then he is rather an unusal bear.

He is also rather a handsome chap - I have painted him a few times before.  This is watercolour on Bockingford paper.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Boba Fett

This was a complicated little fella!  All these Amigurumi figures are only about 10 cm tall, so crocheting intarsia is a fiddly business.  Just Jabba the Hut left to make before these can go off to their new home - he's going to take a while as he is five times the size of the others.

On the easel - surprise, surprise, another bear!

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Darth Vader

I like this one, but it was incredibly hard to crochet black wool under electric light!  I'm sure there must be a few errors in there along the way but with the black wool, hopefully they don't show!

Two left to make...

Monday, 6 November 2017

Han Solo

Not the most interesting of the characters to crochet, but still cute.  Next up is Chewbacca, the one I have been waiting for!  I've been very good, working through the pattern book systematically, not cherry-picking the best designs first...which makes a change for me!


Private commission, watercolour on watercolour paper.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

"Luke, I Am Your Father..."

 Well it made me laugh anyway!  Here is Luke...
...and R2D2.  Seven down, five to go.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Seasonal Problems...

This is the latest commission I am working on but it is slow progress.  Not only are the markings on the horse very complicated and full of subtle colours, I am struggling with the lack of daylight November brings.  Usually I can get by during dull days using a daylight lamp, but once the main electric light in the room has been turned on, the colours in my palette and on the paper are distorted with a yellowish hue.  Most of the time I can allow for this and keep on working, but I daren't with this one for fear of wrecking it totally.  So working hours are mainly in the morning  up until lunchtime, with possibly an hour after lunch if I am lucky.  Very frustrating indeed!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Wicket the Ewok & Pumpkins

 Number 5 of these little Star Wars characters - they really are fun to do.  Only eight more to go...
Spent the morning hollowing out a couple of pumpkins and carving mine - not doing anything fancy this year, but I do like Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas.
Mr.B went for something a tad grosser...

Also made a nice big batch of pumpkin soup, now simmering away on the stove - smells delicious!

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Princess Leia

Whizzing through these great little patterns - looking forward to the next one, Wicket the Ewok.

A new Hobbycraft opened in the neighbouring town this morning - we decided to go and have a look.  It was chaotic, the queue at the checkout snaked around the shop.  Did pick up a few things I yarn, bag of feathers, two fillable lightbulbs, a ruler, sparkly felt...OK, the only thing I actually needed was the ruler!

Thursday, 26 October 2017


Working my way through the pattern book...

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Snow Day...

I'm supposed to be painting a horse, but after I had drawn it out I took a little break to paint this scene that I saw on the webcam on Sunday when it snowed in Katmai.  Wonderful scenery, looked like something out of Narnia...but with bears!  Unfortunately my cameras will not register the true colour of this, it's turned out a little washed out in photographing.
Watercolour on paper & going into my Etsy shop.

Back to paid work...

Sunday, 22 October 2017


 This has to be one of the best commissions I have had for a long time!  This is a portrait of a brown bear cub that I watch on the Explore.Org webcams in Katmai National Park, Alaska - she is the runt of the litter, so very tiny last year, so tiny that it was amazing and wonderful to see her return alive and well from hibernation with her siblings this Spring.  She has the nickname Peanut, which seems to suit at the moment - not sure if it will when she is a full grown sow!  Last seen a couple of weeks ago, looking quite big and fat, definitely ready for hibernation this year.

Painted in watercolour on paper.
Apart from various bits and pieces I am knitting for Nudinits, I'm quietly working my way through a book of Star Wars amigurumi  - they are great little patterns, quick and relatively easy and a lot of fun.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Work Very Hard You Will...

 Crochet Yoda...helping someone out who couldn't get their fingers round these patterns...
Current commission - I'm enjoying this so much that it's all I want to be doing.  Unfortunately, life has a habit of getting in the way!  Watercolour on paper.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Ellie & Isaac

Just completed, double dog portrait in Derwent Drawing Pencils/Coloursoft pencils.  A lot of work went into this - lots of hair & dark colours!  Private commission.

Next up...a bear.  Dream commission!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

A Day Out At The Country Show...

 Yesterday we went to the Autumn Country Show held at the Wealde & Downland Open Air Museum. We'd had the day planned for weeks but were keeping our fingers crossed the weather would be kind - luckily the sun shone for us.  We saw sheepdogs herding ducks...
 Indian runner ducks - they didn't seem perturbed by being chased round the arena, in fact I think they knew the routine very well!
We saw many heavy horses competing in a ploughing competition.
 They were magnificent!
There was a huge threshing machine worked by a traction engine - it did the whole job, threshing, sorting and baling hay.
Very interesting to watch, although a bit dusty!

As well as the above there were many demonstrations of old country crafts, food stalls, plus hawks and gun dogs.  A good time had by all!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Mr. Tumnus...and some other stuff!

 I've been working on knitting Mr. Tumnus over the whole summer - it hasn't taken that long, I've just had other things with tighter deadlines to do.  It was, however, a very tricky pattern to execute - I really wish when people write their patterns they would not assume that everyone knows what they are talking about!  The knitting instructions were not written in the usual way, but I managed to follow them OK.  The making up instructions were..well, pretty much non-existent!  If I was a complete novice, I would have struggled with this pattern and probably have given up.  When I write a knitting pattern I always try and make it "idiot-proof" - which means that I describe every step of the process clearly and (hopefully) understandably, so that even a complete newbie to knitting should be able to make the item successfully. I wish others would do the same - there's nothing worse than wanting to make something but being thwarted because of unintelligible instructions!
 Busy day yesterday - we went to an open morning at Mr.B's work in aid of Macmillan Nurses.  It was very interesting and lots of fascinating old cars.  Don't ask me to name them, not my thing!
Some of these cars are worth as much as a house...or two.  Crazy!

We also went to Thread, the sewing & fabric show held at The Maltings in Farnham.  We nearly didn't make it - we went just after lunch and could not find a single parking space in the whole of Farnham. Tried again a couple of hours later and managed to squeeze in and spend an hour at the show.  For some reason it was only on for one day this year, and a Saturday, so no wonder it was busy.  Got my fix of fabric though, and came home with a few bits and pieces.  Now to find the time to do something with them...