Friday, 19 August 2022

Birds, Babies & Blimey, That's A Big'un!

Throughout the summer I have been sporadically working on this jumper.  I saw this pattern through a post on Twitter I think and looked it up on Ravelry and promptly bought it.  I could not resist those wonderful birds!  
However, making it has not been easy.  Firstly, the yarn I ordered arrived and was not the same colour as it appeared on the photograph on the yarn store's website and they did not have another similar so I had to change my colour choice.  Then it took me three attempts to get the increases right before starting on the birds.

The chart for the birds involved being repeated 4 times in the round (did I mention this whole jumper is knitted in the round from the neck down?) and to make it a bit easier, I went through each line counting the number of light stitches and writing them down before knitting the round.  So I was getting through a maximum of three rounds in an evening.  Incredibly, I think I only made a couple of minor errors which hopefully will not notice and I did end up with the right number of stitches needed to carry on once the birds were complete.  Now it is straight knitting, which is a whole lot easier and much quicker, although this is being knitted in baby yarn so not that quick!  I might have this done by Christmas...

I also made some summer dresses for my grandaughter, one with farm animals on, one with dogs on, and the one previously posted with wild animals on.  Apparently they went down a storm and were ideal for the heatwave.

The garden has been struggling with the heat and lack of rainfall - it has meant a lot of plants dying off prematurely and my runner beans have been a disaster.  But I have managed to grow several of these enormous things!  It is a Tromboncino squash,and this one is over 2ft long.  You can cook them like a courgette but they are much tastier and not as watery.  I shall definitely be growing these again next year.

I am currently finishing off a couple of painted trinket boxes - painting the bases black and varnishing.  Not hard work but time consuming as it means literally watching paint dry.

And I might have quite an interesting little job coming up involving knitting and bears...

Wednesday, 10 August 2022


Yesterday I finally completed this one - it took much longer than usual, probably because there was a lot of detail to include, plus Otis has an awful lot of fur!

Watercolour on paper, a private commission.

My life seems to revolve around Otis at the moment - three more paintings of him to do, plus a couple of stuffed toys.  It's all good, who doesn't love Otis?

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Sewing Small Things...

It's been hot...very I thought I would make my granddaughter some summer tops to keep her cool.  When my daughter was a baby we lived in Greece and summer was hotter than this and I used to make her little cotton summer dresses.  Now I am back in the UK and it is 30 or so years on and the selections of fabric are far better than back then.  This was the first set made with some material I had in my stash, just to see how the pattern worked out.  It worked out just fine!  I have two more little dresses half sewn in cute material with dogs and farm animals on - my granddaughter just loves animals!  I could not finish them yesterday as we had all our windows replaced and the house was in chaos, but hopefully I can get to the sewing machine today.

Friday, 29 July 2022

More Otis...

I seem to spend most of my time these days either making or painting bears, mainly Otis.  This is my current commission and although I have painted Otis more times than I can count, I am still enjoying this one immensely.  It's good to be painting after the 2 month enforced break, I don't care what the subject matter is!  Just as well, as I have three more commissions, all Otis...
I've also been sewing some more Otis stuffies - they don't hang around for long and I am only sorry that I cannot be any faster making them.  They are a little labour intensive when it comes to cutting out the fabric and pinning/sewing it all together.  Two more in the pipeline - when I get time to use the sewing machine!

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Bears, Boxes & Eagles...

I have been painting, honest!  Here are the lids to a couple of trinket boxes that have been commissioned.  The first is, of course, Otis in his favourite fishing spot.
I have painted so many Otis boxes with the same picture on them that it made a refreshing change to be asked to paint a different bear.  This is Popeye, a magnificent boar who also lives at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park.  

Both paintings look a little faded here - photo taken in the earlymorning light and they also need varnishing which brings out the colour.  I have one more to paint - Otis again, but in a slightly different pose.

As it has been really hot here this week, I can't bring myself to knit or crochet the current WIP's I have on the go as it would be the equivalent of sitting under a blanket, so I crocheted a little eagle just for fun.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

It's Hot Out There...

As Mr.B has almost recovered from his knee replacement surgery, I am starting to get my time back as I no longer have to be on hand as much.  So I have started sewing Otis stuffies again.  These two are already spoken for.

As is this one.  I am also painting a trinket box, part of a commission for three of them, and have a line up of four painting commissions waiting in the wings.  So it is all go once more!

Meanwhile inthe garden, everything is growing well but I am especially happy that I have managed to get a couple of chicory plants to flower.  Last year they were just leaves on plants that I grew from seed and did not flower.  This year they are over 6 ft tall and I just love the delicate pale blue flowers that only last for a day before being replaced with more.


The greenhouse appears to have been overly successful - looks like I will need a machete to get near anything!  In there are three large tomato plants, two long cucumber vines, a smaller tomato plant and somewhere at the back, a melon plant.

I have been picking runner beans, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and have a lot of cherry tomatoes just waiting to turn red.  Hopefully everything will survive the next few days of very hot weather.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Getting Back In The Swing Of Things...

This weekend I actually had the urge to sew something again after a month or so of complete ennui (translation: stress + exhaustion!)  I've had the idea of making a soft toy based on the bear 435 Holly who lives in Katmai National Park, Alaska, and who won the fun Fat Bear contest back in 2019.
She was humungous and was photographed sitting like this and looking like she would explode at any minute!
I have a book of animal patterns but lost it for a long time - let's face it, it was not really lost, just buried in the piles of craft materials in the spare room.  When I had to tidy up in order to sleep in there while my partner is recovering from his knee surgery, I unearthed it.
I also had some nice bobbly fleece fabric, so set to.  First we had to make the pattern larger as using the pattern straight from the book was far too small. 
I hand sewed the whole thing, as if there had been any errors, unpicking a seam from a sewing machine in furry fabric would have been a nightmare.  I've used velvet for the nose, fur fabric for the ears, and felt for the paw pads.  I stuffed the head with kapok to make it firm and sewed a piece of calico behind the stuffing inside to stop it from migrating.  The rest of the bear has been stuffed with polystyrene balls so that she flops fatly just like the real bear.

I was planning on putting this on Etsy but posted it on Facebook beforehand to see if anyone would like to grab it first - it went in one minute flat!  That has to be an all time record!

While I have been playing nurse with my two patients over the past month, I have been able to get out in the garden and it is looking rather pretty at the moment.
I re-did the succulent display using an old bonsai dish.
Before Mr.B had his op, we spent the previous weekend building my new greenhouse on the patio.  I say 'we' - Mr.B did 99% of the work, I just stood around getting in the way and handing him tools!  I am so pleased with how the patio re-vamp has turned out - now it is a very inviting place to go and sit...when the noise from certain neighbours and their dogs doesn't intrude!
The birds and insects are loving it all - we have had a family of great tits nesting in a box on the patio and they fledged successfully last week.
Only three chicks, but they all made it, no cats or magpies got them this time round.

I'm going for flowers rather than vegetables this year - last summer was so abysmal I'm taking no chances.  Still got some runner beans in though, and the new greenhouse has plenty of tomatoes, cucumber and even a melon plant.

So now that everyone in the house is recovering/has recovered, I am slowly getting back to work as the orders trickle in.