Tuesday, 30 September 2008

This Should Keep Me Busy...

Oh, how I love e-Bay! Without it I would not be able to get my hands on this little gem of a book. It's another Japanese felt mascot pattern book; lots of new designs to pore over, like these....
........and these.....
...and especially these! The sea otter was the pattern that persuaded me to buy the book in the first place, so be prepared to see one of those made up shortly.

In the meantime, another little mermaid is on it's way as I have none left after selling my last one on Etsy at the weekend. Should be completed by tomorrow - stop by and have a look then!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

'Hey Teach!' Cardigan

After a few weeks of knitting and a lot of falling asleep with the needles still in my hands, this little cardigan is finally finished. It should have been very quick to knit up, it was a lovely simple pattern that looks more complicated than it is, but I think sheer exhaustion has taken over lately! It looks just like the pattern picture on Knitty, fits me perfectly and I love it - wearing it now! It's made with a Jaeger yarn which resembles cotton but has angora in it, and I've found that makes it nice and warm, just right for these chilly Autumnal days.

I'm still plugging away at the potato paintings - got a new 'delivery' from the author yesterday, including some weird & wonderful ones - some are deep magenta with a cream stripe around them. I shall definitely show you the finished painting from those! I'm so glad this job is not getting boring - it so easily could have, which with 85 more paintings left to do (steps back aghast...) would have been dreadful.

Also sketching away like mad composing kitten pics for the calendar - luckily my brain is still coming up with composition ideas there, just need to get them approved before setting to with the colour.

Inbetween all that, life goes on. It all seems to be working quite well - meals are cooked, house is clean (for me anyway!), dogs are walked. The mornings lately have been very spooky walking the dogs in thick fog on a deserted field. This morning I was in the middle, unable to see anything further than about twenty feet all around me, just a white wall of mist, when a few swans flew overhead with their wings making that eery whistling noise as they flapped. Too, too creepy! I decided to head back towards civilisation before some fog-crazed lunatic leapt out on me.......overloading on Hammer horror films in my youth has left it's mark!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Little Green Lizard....

Yesterday morning I had a wonderful surprise just before I left for work...there was a hammering at the door (no niceties from our postman!) and a big parcel was handed to me. Inside was a cornucopia of delights! Laura (bead artist extraordinaire) is moving house and had sent me lots of craft bits and pieces that she no longer needed.....but that I certainly can use. I'm always amazed at the generosity of my blogging friends - thank you Laura!

So after a long day at work, I was finally able to come home and play with my new toys! I found some tiny green beads amongst the many and made a little green lizard and tested my new glasses to the max - no eyestrain, yay!

But he was so small, he needed a home....so I dug out my felt, made him a banana leaf to sit on (strengthened by the stiffener fabric in my new treasure trove) and sewed a brooch backing on - tadaaah!! It was great to make something not knitted and to take a break from painting just for one day. He'll be going onto my Etsy shop later...

Sunday, 21 September 2008


This is the first of 12 cute kittens for my latest job....came out quite well I thought. He's in Derwent Drawing Pencils, with a watercolour background. I thought it about time I proved I haven't just been sitting on my backside watching TV lately!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Follow Me!

I've just found out about the new gadgie available for my blog, which you can see somewhere to the right under my Profile.....Followers! Sounds a bit sinister initially - I'm a bit worried by anyone who chooses to follow me in real life, but that's just me and my paranoia..

Anyway, this gives you the choice to keep track of my blog and find out when there's been a new post - not very frequent at the moment as I'm painting most of the time these days. Click on the Follow Me sign and the good folk at Blogger will guide you further. If a computer-illiterate like me can do it, so can you.

I know there are quite a few of you out there who visit and I'd love to find out who you are and return the favour. Don't leave me looking like a Billy-no-Mates....or Billy-One-Mate (tip my hat to Laura, lovely bead artist, who calls regularly!)

Having a manic time at the moment, wondering how on earth I can jam any more into one day than I am already - I'm going to have to find a way or deadlines won't be met, potatoes won't be painted, family will be left starving and unwashed.....I guess I could start by turning off the computer!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Catch Up...

No pictures today....sorry! I have just finished a complex project I have been working on but can't show it here until the recipient gets it for their birthday, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait a couple of weeks. It will be worth it!

Thought I'd reply on here to PG's question to my previous post. I'm painting all these potatoes from life - the author brings me round a box of sample 'best' potatoes and I have to put them on a little plant stand I have rigged up and can only really paint them during the day as the light quality makes all the difference. Sometimes I have to go like the clappers - the cut section of one potato was going brown visibly and I had to paint it in the space of half an hour, before doing anything at all to the rest of the painting. Another pair of potatoes were starting to go bad and there was a brown stain moving slowly across them, again the progress was almost visible, so they had to be done in a hurry too.

It's all quite a challenge and still as interesting as ever. I think I have the better end of the deal - the author then has to take all these potatoes back home when I'm finished and cook and eat them so that he can write about their taste and performance. If you think I'll be sick of spuds after 100 of them, consider his position!

I also am in the process of starting to illustrate 2 calendars.......24 pictures over the next 2 months......didn't I say a while back,'be careful what you wish for'? But it's wonderful to get the work.....the extra cash will be so helpful as I feel it's going to be a difficult winter, and I just love to paint!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Another Week Gone!

I cannot believe where the time has gone! I have been so busy lately, the days just fly by without me realising it. I'm back at the day job again, so that is taking up half of each day and the other half of the day has been spent doing the above. That's ten down.....ninety to go (gulp!)
I have to admit, I am really enjoying this though - each potato is so different and I am also learning what colours and techniques to use in order to get the picture done quickly and efficiently.

I have been painting something else, but I can't show it here just yet as it is a surprise for someone.....I'm very excited by it though and can't wait until it can be seen.

In the evenings I have been knitting the above - it's a cardigan for ME. Winter is approaching and if I want to have pretty knits, I am perfectly capable of making them which means they are exactly how I want them. This is a pattern from Knitty.com and I am using some Jaeger yarn bought in Liberty's sale earlier this year - it resembles cotton but is incredibly soft as it also contains angora but without the fluff.

I've also been bartering with Sybille - at this rate we could dispense with cash altogether! Long story involving yarn, the pineapple shawl, more yarn, & postage - the above is my reimbursement for postage and very nice it is too! The pink flower brooch is mine, the cute hairslide is for my daughter. I think we are just about straight now, and both happy with our 'purchases'!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Banana Silk Bag

In my quest to knit with the most unusual yarns around at the moment, this week's project has been with banana silk. This yarn is made from the fibres within the banana plant which when spun and dyed resemble real silk, but without the weight.

I've knitted this little shoulder bag, which didn't take long at all. I then crocheted simple pink flowers also in banana yarn and scattered them on the front of the bag.

The flowers have a fringe made of frayed silk with a button and bead centre. I then lined the bag with some rather lovely real silk fabric that I picked up today - it's a remnant from unholstery, so has some weight and texture to it and feels terrific.

I then crocheted the bag together, continuing with the yarn to make the shoulder strap.

It's cute and shiny and a bit of fun. You can buy it from my Etsy shop now.

Still slaving away painting the potatoes....although it is still an enjoyable job. My main problem now is finding the time as school is in session once more which means I am back in the day job....sigh!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I was asked to make a necklace using bits and pieces found on a Dorset beach as a present....the above is the result. I wish I could keep this one, it's pretty! Look closely at the piece of white sea-glass, it has a fabulous shell-like pattern on it - I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Monday, 1 September 2008


For what seems like an eternity I have been working on this shawl, but last night it was over! This is made in an unusual yarn which consists of pineapple plant fibre combined with ramie - which I have just looked up, as I don't know what that is either. Apparently, it is a plant related to the stinging nettle! So this is a very organic, 'green' item of apparel.

To begin with, it took me over two hours to wind the yarn from its skein into a ball - some of it is so fine it is almost like hair. Luckily it is also quite strong and the only breakages were when I got into a hopeless tangle and had to cut out a knot and start again.

This made the choice of pattern quite important - I have a lot of complicated lacy shawl patterns but I felt this needed to be kept relatively simple because controlling the yarn would be hard enough, let alone following a knitting chart. So I chose a Rowan pattern that I have used before in laceweight mohair with success, so I knew it was 'do-able'. What a sensible decision that was! The yarn seems to have a mind of it's own as it is quite wiry despite being so fine, and tangles and twiddles were a problem the whole way through. I also managed to pull the needle out of great wadges of stitches on several occasions and only sitting very still and VERY carefully re-threading them on saved it from complete disaster.

But it got finished with no glaring errors that I can see, and after washing it and drying it stretched to it's proper shape, I am very pleased with it. It is triangular and as light as air, and when scrunched up it fits into one hand. The yarn has a slightly crisp feel to it, without being harsh which is very pleasant. The pattern is a simple recurring motif with little triangles of stocking stitch among lacy holes.

I have to give first refusal of this to a friend of mine, but if she declines it then it will be on Etsy very shortly. Good Grief!! SOLD - that has to be the quickest sale on line I've ever had!

After all that work, I treated myself to a little play with the banana silk yarn - and made the above knitted rose, which will shortly become a brooch. Very silky and shiny yarn, with a fluffiness to it where it has been hand-spun. Unusual and very pretty - I shall be buying more of this!

And finally, I received another batch of potatoes to paint this week, including some amazingly coloured ones - one is deep indigo and maroon. I can't wait! Who knew the humble spud came in such glorious technicolour?