Friday, 19 January 2018


For Christmas I was given a box of Japanese watercolours that I had asked for - I'd seen them on the internet and was taken by the selection of bright colours and also the fact that there were metallic colours as well.  This is the first painting done using these paints - I chose a macaw in order to get to use pretty much all the colours available!  These paints were like a cross between gouache and watercolour, a bit chalky and not quite as bright as I had anticipated.  Great fun to use though as the colours stayed quite true and there didn't seem to be any muddiness when painting one colour over with another.
I didn't use the metallics on this painting, but have tried them out and was quite impressed with the effects obtainable although I;m not sure when I will use them!

Next up - paid work!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Pair Of Pretty Pooches...

Here is my latest commission, all finished.  Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.  It's so much easier drawing a white dog, the background paper does half the work when it comes to shading!

Next up, another dog portrait - a brown dog this time.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Barney No.2

This is Barney, knitted replica of a real lurcher.  I made one of these last year and the owner was so happy with it, she asked me to make another.

 Trouble was, I only had half a ball of the fuzzy yarn left and it is no longer in production (Stylecraft Gypsy - if anyone has any to spare, I'll pay for it!) so I had to hope and pray that it would go the distance.
 It lasted until the middle of the last leg - I then had to use a similar yarn which only notices if you look very closely.  Most of it is covered by the coat!
That's the last of the pre-Christmas knitting commissions - now on the the January ones!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Hitting The Ground Running...

 Usually January is a dead month for commissions, which isn't a bad thing as it gives me time to get on with my own work for sale and exhibition.  Not this year however - I have two dog portraits to get done by the end of the month with more to come.  The above is one dog of a double portrait, done in Derwent Drawing Pencils on pastel paper.  I'm hoping to make good progress on the other dog this week - the past couple of weeks have been a bit of a nightmare with very little working time to spare.
 The reason being this!  Last year we had a new kitchen fitted...then a couple of weeks later, the housing association thought it a good idea to put in a new boiler (although why it couldn't have been done while the kitchen was gutted is beyond me) which had a flue like this.  Quite an eyesore, looking like a periscope...I was tempted to paint the face of an elephant around it... 
Looks aside, it was a pretty rubbish design too - every time we had heavy rain, which seems to happen a lot over the past few years, the rain water ran straight through the flue which acted like a funnel, through the boiler itself, on to our microwave and eventually on to the floor.  I'd reported it in the summer and it was looked at by three different gentlemen, one of whole walloped some sealant around the join which did nothing.

This Christmas we had rain...a great deal of rain...which resulted in situations like this.  About a litre or more of water running through a working boiler.  More frantic phone calls and we were given the jolly wire waste-paper basket thing around the base of the flue "to deflect the water".  Can you see why this might not work?  The same day the basket was fitted we had another torrential downpour and another bowl of water collected.
Finally we have had a normal flue fitted - it has rained since, but the kitchen remained dry.  So that is one of the things I have been dealing with rather than painting - very frustrating!

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....