Tuesday, 29 January 2013

I Think We Got Away With It!

Every year the Year 1 class trip to Marwell Zoo is scheduled for January - I always feel that's a bit of a risk to take with the British weather being what it is.  Our first date had to be cancelled due to snow, then it was re-booked for today.  I've been watching the weather reports with great trepidation as heavy rain was predicted since last week and the forecast didn't change.  The idea of traipsing round a deserted zoo with 90 wet and miserable children was not appealing....
However, the weather gods smiled on us today - it was damp and a bit drizzly, but we managed to stay dry and most of the animals were out.  I got quite a few reference photographs - these will be put in the 'future paintings' folder.
We were subject to time constraints so didn't manage to see everything, but it was still pretty good.
My favourite animals were willing to pose for pictures, so I'm happy!

On the creative side, there is another snow painting on the board; I've been labouring for a week over a knitted Alsatian dog;  there will be another little dog set going in my shop soon, and I just received something in the post which will be the perfect prize for my 1000th post giveaway!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

A Walk Transformed....

This is a painting of a very muddy lane we walk the dog down that has been transformed into fairyland by the recent snow.

For the past few weeks (since before Christmas) I have had a bit of a problem with painting.  Initially I didn't have the time due to the madness in the run-up to Christmas, then when I did have the time I was completely stumped as to what I wanted to paint.  The seagull painting didn't turn out well at all, I was very unhappy with the execution of it and this left me quite disheartened.  However, with the advent of snow and some spare time due to the vile weather outside, I decided to have a splash around with some acrylics.  It wasn't a commission, it didn't matter if I messed it up and I had no clear goal. Within half an hour I felt back in the zone again - phew!  This painting has whizzed by and probably only taken three or four hours to complete in total.  I'm so relieved that my enthusiasm has been woken again - these fugues happen from time to time and it is horrible.  Sometimes creativity is a very fragile thing and it's loss hits you hard.  I am happiest when I am engrossed in a painting that is going well - there is no other feeling like it.  When that is gone, for whatever reason, it affects all aspects of my life and I can end up getting quite depressed.  Thank goodness I've recovered my 'mojo'!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Give a Dog a Home!

This little chap is now up for sale in my Etsy shop - I hope he can find himself a good home now his dreams of being a film star have been dashed....

Very soon it will be my 1000th post - good grief!  I am planning to hold a giveaway - not too sure what the gift will be yet, watch this space!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Let It Snow......

...no, please don't!  I'm not a big fan of snow, despite it being so pretty.  It's all very well if you have nothing better to do, but when you have to go to work, get the shopping (carried the week's fruit and veg home from the market in a rucksack this morning - good job I'm a sturdy lady!) and walk the dog, quite frankly I could do without it.
Luckily the dog decided today that he quite liked it - yesterday he went on strike during both walks due to severe problems with ice-balls forming under his feet.  Not a happy boy at all!
Today was different though, with the overnight temperatures freezing the surface of the snow, so he managed a good run and some exploration.  I'm sure we saw Mr.Tumnus down here somewhere....
Maybe not!
Lots of pretty dried seed heads against the snow - everything has a blue tinge to it as this was very early in the morning, with the sun just coming up over the horizon.
Still, all this cold does give us the excuse to have some of this after our exertions - hot chocolate and raspberry sponge, yum!
There have been some shenanigans on the sofa too - cheeky pups!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Minimum Bloodshed...

Ta-dah!  This is my first ever attempt at needlefelting and I'm just grateful it looks almost like the picture on the kit and that I emerged at the end relatively unscathed. Whilst making the ears I stabbed myself a few times, but that was probably due to not working on a table - sitting on the sofa watching tv, your attention tends to wander occasionally!

There are two more little heads to make from this kit, which I shall be doing.  I don't think I will be embracing needlefelting as a craft to do on a regular basis, but it is very satisfying sculpting the wool and I would like to try to make something a little more ambitious than a ball with ears and eyes!  If anyone has any tips on how to eliminate the slightly orange-peel texture, please let me know.

Monday, 14 January 2013


Hey you!  What are you doing up on the sofa?  Off you go.....
...that's right, get down now.
I said 'get down' not 'lie down'!
Oh come on, now you are just being silly.....
...no, I don't want to play and no, you are not cute!
OK, yes you are cute, but it's no use giving me puppy eyes - off!

This little guy was a prototype for the animated film but half way through knitting him I remembered that I should not use yarn that is very fluffy or it will produce the KingKong effect when filmed in stop frame - obvious fingermarks!  But I completed him anyway, as I needed to see what the markings would look like and how to do his feet in a slightly different way.  Whilst he won't be starring in a movie, I am sure once he has some accessories and is put in my Etsy shop he will find a good home with someone who won't care how fluffy he is!

Instead of messing about with toy dogs, I should really be getting on with this...
...but I'm having trouble.  It's been planned for so long that I think the execution of it is just not measuring up to the vision I had in my head.  Either that or it's a bad case of the winter blahs.  Whatever it is, I'm not 'feeling it'.  It will get finished regardless - again, perhaps someone out there will like it better than I do right now.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Make Do & Mend

Seeing as I am such a skinflint bargain-hunter, my heart skipped a beat when I saw this lovely but damaged cable knit sweater in the sales yesterday.  You can barely buy a cup of coffee for £3 these days, let alone a toasty jumper.  So I snapped it up and took it home for repairs.
I 're-knitted' the ribbing using a crochet hook, and gently eased the yarn to make sure the width of the ribs matched the undamaged side as closely as possible.  As the yarn was broken in a couple of places at the edging, I had to search my stash for a similar coloured yarn - the camera has picked it up as pink with the flash but in normal light it blends quite well.  So I crocheted round the neckline with a row of slip-stitch and then a row of double crochet to secure any further loose bits.  For slobbing round the house, it doesn't matter about the slight variation in colour.
For going out, just add a scarf!

I've worn this today and have been nice and warm while the temperature plummets outside, as well as having an air of smugness at being able to save both this sweater and a wadge of cash.*

*That's not strictly true, as at the same time as buying this bargain I also picked up a thick, snuggly cardigan.....well, it was in the sales too so I'm not a complete hypocrite!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Just got notification that the new website for the Derwent Academy range is now up and running.  Check it out here.  My illustration is on the tin for the newly launched watercolour pencils, so hopefully will be in the shops at some point soon. On the website is another of my paintings in the 'wall art' section - mine is the-swan-on-the-lake watercolour.

In July, I will be on the website for the whole month as part of their 'Artist of the Month' feature -this means I will have to be available to give hints and tips to those interested and answer questions.  I've just been trying to sort out a photo of me that doesn't make me look twice my age or as if I've been dragged through a hedge backwards (which is the usual state of affairs when you are a dog walker/crafter/work with children!)

Now, all this exposure is lovely but it's time it brought me in some serious work! Come on people, I need to recoup the past three months' horrendous outlays and replenish my savings!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Blue For You......

I'm very happy today - just discovered that one of my blue jellyfish paintings has been selected for the Artists & Illustrators monthly exhibition on their website, which can be seen here.
I've made several attempts over the years to get a painting selected for their Portfolio feature with no success - this isn't in the actual magazine but somes a pretty close second. Yay!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

How To Customise Your Dragon.......

First crochet him (her?) in shades of brightest pink.....
...add some coppery sequins to the face and top of back.
Sew some orangey sequins to the underbelly and chin, as well as some silver bugle beads to the claws on the wings.
Stand back and admire!

If I was making this for myself, I would have stiffened the wings with either wire or fabric stiffener, but as this is going to a child, I left them soft and floppy in case of cuddles.

This dragon is made using a pattern by Lucy Collin - hats off to her cute and easy-to-make design!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Back to Work.....

After a few days hiatus over Christmas, looks like the work is starting to trickle in once again.  This pair of girly skull wristwarmers are a custom order, knitted in some nice nubby cream wool with cerise skulls.  As I made a slight error with the sizing on the first wristwarmer I made (not shown here) there will be another pair in my Etsy shop later this month.
This whale isn't work, it was just me testing out another little crochet pattern from the 75 Shells, Corals & Seacreatures book. 

Once the Christmas tree is down and the house is back in some kind of order, it will be nice to get back into a routine once again.  It's been fun having some much needed time off but too much inactivity is starting to pall!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Nearly Forgotten!

This had to be kept secret for a while, so nearly got forgotten as far as blogging is concerned.  My pal Sybille over at Magpie Magic sent me this pattern as an antidote to all the tedious knitting I had been doing last year, so I decided to make her a dragon for Christmas.  This crocheted up really quickly and while the wings were a bit of a struggle initially, it was an easy pattern to follow.  I think I might make more of these and possibly embellish them with sequin scales.

Now that the festivities are officially over, I can't wait to get on with some work - enough running around making sure everyone is having a good time, time for some normality!

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping 2013 will be happier, healthier and a whole lot drier than 2012!
We've just been to feed the swans - but it was full of New Year's fairweather walkers with the same idea.  These pictures are from last week when we had the place to ourselves - it was drizzly and cold but lots of fun.
The swans got  a bit above themselves though, cheeky devils...
...but in the end I had them eating out of my hand!
It makes me laugh when you hear everyone trot out the same old wive's tale about swans breaking your arm with a peck or a wingbeat.  The worst we came away with was a gentle nip when fingers were mistaken for bread and a muddy webbed footprint on one shoe.

We're off to eat some delicious roast lamb - hope your New Year's Day is fun, peaceful and hangover-free!