Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Here's To 2015!

Today is the last day of 2014, and I for one will not be sorry to see the back of it.  It's been a complicated year, with the bad far outweighing the good at times.  There have been losses and gains, some very big changes, periods with very little work, some with too much, catching up with old friends and saying a sad goodbye to others. 

2015 looks to be very different compared to the past few years - I'm striking out on my own work-wise, which is both scary and exciting.  Not having to do the regular hours at a 'proper job' will make a huge difference to how much I can achieve at home - for the better I hope. It's risky but at my age, if I don't do it now I never will!

I hope 2015 will be better for everyone - here's wishing you everything you wish for yourselves.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Hello Bear!

This is a little knitting kit that I got given for Christmas - very cute.  Not sure what to do with her now, but I'm sure we'll find a space!

Now that Christmas is over, it's time to get things done with a view to being unemployed freelance; first job is to get my son's room re-decorated and re-furnished in order to get my crafting materials organised.  I've painted the door so far, does that count?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Here is the completed goldfish purse - I want to say that was fun, but towards the end it really wasn't!  Each sequin has been laboriously handsewn in place, and I'm not sure just how many of those sequins are now scattered around our living room!
He has a cotton print inner, and there is a hint of stuffing between the felt and cotton to give it a nice rounded fishy shape.
Like that.
One of those projects that will remain a one-off - I'm really pleased with the result, but not sure I want to do it again...unless you pay me of course!!

And finally, may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, Happy New Year!

2014 was not one of my best years in some respects - months of building hell next to our house, lack of painting commissions for the first part of the year, misery at the day job culminating in handing in my notice, the loss of a good friend, and quite a lot of irritating things to deal with.  But it did have it's very good points - the release and good reception of the Nudinits animation (two and a half years hard work!), catching up with some old school friends in the summer, and some very exciting changes for the new year - going totally freelance and finally realising my lifetime dream.  Thank you for sticking with me through it, putting up with the moans and wails, sharing the good bits and giving me the impetus to work hard in order to have something to show you all.  Here's to 2015!

Monday, 22 December 2014

At Last!

This little scarf has taken far too long to complete - it kept getting sidelined while I got on with other more pressing commitments.
It's been knitted in a sweet varigated wool in autumnal shades, which works well with the lace pattern giving a wavy effect.
It has a double rib section through which you can thread one end of the scarf and make a cravat kind of affair round your neck, keeping everything warm and toasty.
I like this pattern - I think I shall make it again in different yarns.

Currently on the needles....nothing!  Suffering withdrawal symptoms, but my hands are still busy sewing what feels like thousands of sequins on that felt goldfish purse.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

This & That...

Two days before the festivities begin and I think we might be just about ready!  Stacie and I have been having fun with a gingerbread house kit (Morrisons £4, I can't get over what good value this is!).  Stacie has badgered me for several years now to buy a kit and I have held off because I felt they were always expensive - and looked complicated!  However, this one was dead easy and while I had to do the construction bit (with Stacie holding things in place) and the icing, she was able to add the sweetie decorations and thoroughly enjoyed herself.  Trouble is, it will be a shame to break into it to eat it!

Despite tearing around Christmas shopping, sorting out the house, finishing off the day job (yay!) and wrapping presents, I have managed to squeeze in a little painting time.  This is a small coloured pencil work of a toadstool we saw on a dog walk a few weeks ago.  I'm using Faber-Castell coloured pencils - one of Amazon's Black Friday bargains - and they are gorgeous!  Very slow and painstaking, but very therapeutic!
And while taking a short break from the Nudinits knitting, I've been doing some other crafting.  This is a purse in the shape of a goldfish....I got the clasp free with a knitting magazine and it just shouted out to be used as a mouth.  The purse will no doubt be totally impractical, but will look cute at least!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tree's Up!

We're a little late, but the tree is finally in place - we found the perfect little tree for our sideboard (it has to be out of the way of big doggy tail-wags!) and put it in place yesterday. Lovely to get out the old familiar decorations, some going as far back as when my children were babies.  Each one brings back happy memories and I am glad I thought to keep them when we had to leave Greece with virtually nothing but the shirts on our backs some 20 years ago.

It's been a busy week - my son moved out (finally!) last weekend which was surprisingly emotional for me. I'm so pleased he is able to afford to go at last and start his life properly, but it was sad too.

I've been knitting madly, trying to get the last Christmas bits done for Nudinits - you'll have to check out their advent calendar on Twitter and Facebook to see what I've been up to.

Nothing on the easel at the moment - no time!  I'm hoping during the Christmas period I will be able to get the paints out. I miss it.

Tomorrow is the last day at the day job - after 11 years, that too will be quite a wrench.  However, I am not enjoying my current role there, I don't feel I am contributing anything other than being a childminder which makes me very unhappy, so it is definitely time to go. I am extremely excited to be starting a new chapter in my life, hopefully making a go of the arts and crafts full time.  There are some interesting things scheduled for next year - who knew naughty knitting could lead to a career change!

So, lots of changes this month - it all seemed to happen at once.  Perhaps 2015 will be a good year to make up for 2014!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Jolly Holidays...

This week I have been mostly knitting balloons...

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ready To Go!

Knitted replica pet - Wilbur by name!
Everything faithfully reproduced in miniature, even his funny little toy.
He'll be winging his way to his new home shortly.

If you'd like your pet made in yarn, get in touch - not for Christmas though! Too late.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

This Dog Is Just For Christmas!

I'm so busy at the moment, I feel like a headless chicken!  As usual, Christmas snuck up on me, despite the early start on the tv and in the shops, and panic is starting to set in.

I got a lovely last minute commission to recreate this little dog and his accessories.  His name is Wilbur and here he is, still a work in progress - I have to fluff his fur up with a wire brush...I have to go and buy a wire brush...and he needs his knitted coat and toy.  I have to make two of him, but the second one is not until after Christmas - phew!

I've been knitting little Christmas items like crazy in order to keep up with the Nudinits advent calendar - perhaps we should have thought of this some time back in August, but never mind!

Talking of Nudinits, there are lots of things in the pipeline for next year - it's all getting quite exciting.  I think I quit the day job at the right time -  one more week to go!

Friday, 5 December 2014

It's Not Always A Happy Christmas...

Here's a little film that highlights a previously unknown practice that takes place every year at this time.
Warning, contains scenes of vegetable cruelty that some viewers may find upsetting.

Yes, I did indeed sew twenty felt brussels sprouts!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Throwback Thursday

There are lots of projects going on, but as I am unable to show them at present, here's one I made earlier!  A LOT earlier!  I think this was the first acrylic I painted of an animal that I looked at afterwards and thought, hey, I can really do this!  It's very special to me and hangs in my living room as a reminder of that moment, many years ago.  I don't think I will ever sell it - for one thing I used a photograph from a book as a reference and that's a strict no-no as far as sales are concerned now.  But it is also a painting I look at when I have a crisis of confidence (happens more often than you would think!) and it helps me buck my ideas up!

No paintings on the easel at the moment as there really isn't the time in the Christmas run-up.  Plenty on the needles though - Christmas miniatures and replica dogs!

Two weeks left at the day job and I'm not regretting the decision to leave - just cannot wait to get my new routine started!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Busy Bee!

Here's a little Christmas commission, hot off the needles! It's a felt flower brooch with a little knitted bumble bee perched on top.
The bee is about an inch long, but although he is so tiny, he still has eyes, legs, antennae and gauzy wings.  There was some very unlady-like language going on as I struggled with those legs!
The flower is made from two shades of stiffened felt, cut and sewn on to a brooch back.

He'll be winging his way to Denmark tomorrow - by post though, not under his own steam!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

...And We're Done!

This was finished yesterday afternoon - it took less time than anticipated!  It has been drawn using Derwent Drawing Pencils on Canson pastel paper.  I think I could just about manage another of these before Christmas if you get in quick and don't live too far away!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Climbing That Hill...

There was a moment a few days ago when panic was setting in as I wondered if I had bitten off more than I can chew as far as commissions are concerned.  However, it would seem that with nibbling away at the list whenever I can, it is slowly getting done well within the deadlines.

This is a portrait in Derwent Drawing pencils which should be finished by the end of this week, with plenty of time before Christmas.  The poor dog was sadly run over earlier this year, so hopefully the painting will be a reminder of a much-loved pet.

On the needles: ARGH! You'll have to keep an eye on Nudinits in the run up to Christmas to see what I have been knitting lately!  It has been challenging...

Monday, 24 November 2014

Fuzzy Friend!

I love this sort of commission - I get sent a photo of someone's pet dog and have to recreate it in yarn.  This one was particularly good, as I have a soft spot for shaggy lurchers!
I used long eyelash yarn combined with baby wool to get the fur effect - initially it was a lot fluffier, so last night I had to give it a haircut!  Then a brushing with a toothbrush, and it's ready to go.
If you'd like your dog to have a mini-me, get in touch - it's a bit too close to Christmas to guarantee anything will be ready in time - postage time has to be taken into account for anyone not in the UK - but do ask just in case.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How Do You Get To The Albert Hall?

Practice!  In actuality, it took us a tedious twice-as-long train journey with a long detour due to Sunday works, followed by two tube hops and a long walk.  But totally worth it - we went to see the Classic Spectacular at the Albert Hall yesterday, which included such favourite pieces as O Fortuna, Nessun Dorma, Nimrod, Jerusalem, Land of Hope & Glory and of course, the 1812 Overture.

It was my first time seeing a live orchestra play, and for it to be the Royal Philharmonic was something special.  We were up in 'the gods' right at the top of the Circle, but despite the difficult climb to get there (my daughter was struggling!) it was an amazing view of the whole auditorium.  We were directly below the guns though - that made us jump a bit!

We got home late due to another slow train journey, but having had the most amazing time - if you can't get to the Last Night of the Proms, this is not a bad substitute!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

This Is Good...

Monday, 17 November 2014


Here is a closer look at the little monster in his tv set that I made for the Woolly Vision logo, seen at the beginning of the Nudinits film.  I had to construct the television out of a cardboard box, covered with foam board, insulation board, fabric, copious amounts of glue and double sided tape - it was quite an undertaking!  The front is made up of two panels of mount board cut to shape, covered in fabric, attached in place and then gold piping stuck carefully around the edges.  The knobs etc. are various items of haberdashery.

The scenery inside is sewn from felt, while the grass and sky were two old jumpers put to better use.  Fantastic to see it all put together and animated!

Time is in short supply at the moment.  Not much time for painting other than this little watercolour sketch of some veg that I did to show one of my students how to use the paint.   It was fun to produce ten minute paintings - they could be better, but were a great exercise nonetheless.

I'm definitely not regretting giving up the day job - my decision has been met with mixed reactions, but on the whole everyone has been encouraging and supportive.  I could do with leaving now - with Christmas fast approaching, my workload has increased accordingly!

Currently on the needles: dogs,crackers,Xmas tree, fairies,turkeys, argh....
To be sewn:  a flower brooch, scenery for an upcoming animated short film
On the easel: a dog portrait, with a baby portrait coming soon

It's all so exciting!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Taking The Plunge...

Well, it took getting beaten up by a six year old to make me do it, but I have finally handed in my notice at the day job and am preparing to go solo.  It's terrifying and exciting at the same time, but in my heart I know it is the right decision.  I've been holding on to the day job like a security blanket for years, safe in the knowledge that whatever happens I would at least have a small regular income coming in.  However, when that security blanket suddenly turns into a millstone round your neck, it's time to leave it behind. (Mixed metaphore alert!)

For the time being I have enough commissioned work in the pipeline to keep me busy - fingers crossed that 2015 will bring in plenty more. 

Monday, 10 November 2014

On Getting Punched In The Face...

Some of you might know that my day job is as a special needs assistant in an infant school, although for the past few weeks I have not been working with special needs children but with children who have quite severe behavioural issues - much against my will I might add.  This is not really my remit - I confess that I don't know much about behaviour management when it does not come hand in hand with learning difficulties.  I find it relatively simple to distract and change the demeanour of a child with special needs, but am all at sea with a child who comes at me in full blown rage, fists, feet and teeth flying.

Last week I had a couple of incidents at work that have caused me to do some serious thinking - the more serious incident ended with me getting punched in the face, knocking my glasses off.  The other incident with a different child involved my glasses being torn off my face several times and thrown across the floor, getting damaged in the process. (Why do they aim for the eyes???)  So I have to consider, what is more important to me, my art and craft work plus my sanity or dealing with someone else's badly behaved child?  I think we know the answer to that one...

In the meantime, this week I have been mostly sewing trees....

Wednesday, 5 November 2014


Here is Beau, all finished with plenty of time before Christmas.  She has been drawn using Derwent Drawing Pencils on grey/blue pastel paper, with acrylic white highlights.  As I said before, sometimes a painting just flows and this was one of them. 

There is still time to commission a portrait before Christmas - I have one in the pipeline, but one such as the above does not take long.  Just make sure your photograph is of a decent quality!

I've held off for a long time, but finally joined Facebook as I figured it was a good business tool if nothing else.  It may take me a while to get a link on this page, but I am sure there are very few other people with my name on Facebook, so my page should be easy to find.

On The Home Straight...

 Despite having the week from hell so far (I seem to get a lot of those for some reason!), this picture is very nearly finished.  Just the one ear to go and that will be the task this afternoon. I have enjoyed this one so much - everything seems to have gone well, the materials have behaved themselves, and the dog itself is just so pretty!  After this, I have a portrait commission of a very sweet little boy, so yet mor enjoyable work in the pipeline.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Tickled Pink!

At last, here it is in all it's glory, the knitted animation Tickled Pink:

Hope you like it - careful, it's very cheeky!

What's Next?

Well, that's Halloween over for another year...what do I do now?  Little monsters are like Santa, they only get to work once a year!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween!

It's been a very busy week, but I was determined to find the time to carve a decent pumpkin!  Zombie theme again this year - I just love the way it looks like a real mess until you put the candle in and switch the lights out.

Have fun today - don't eat too many sweeties!

I'm barrelling through this portrait - it's great to have the time this week, plus I am really enjoying it.  I forgot just how much I love drawing, especially dogs.  I've also discovered a new product (new to me anyway) Derwent Blending pens, which are like felt tips but when you apply them to pencil drawing, the liquid softens and mixes the marks, fantastic for a picture like this one where scrubbing away with a blending pencil is tiring work.

Yesterday we went to the first screening of the Nudinits film at Canterbury Anifest.  Took us a while to get there from Hampshire as the good old M25 was terminally congested which added an hour to our journey.  It was worth it though, and I think the film went down well. You'll be able to judge for yourselves tomorrow when it will be available to see in it's entirety - I just cannot wait!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pencils & Pumpkins

This week I am working on a portrait of a beautiful spaniel called Beau using Derwent Drawing Pencils and it is a real pleasure.  She's a lovely looking dog, the reference photos are fantastic and I have the time to draw, so it is all going well to date.  In fact, when a drawing goes this well, I start to worry that it is not good enough because it is not causing enough problems!  I have had one minor setback in that despite knowing for a couple of weeks now that I have to draw a black dog, I didn't think to check my pencils and discovered that I only have one very short black pencil left - oops!  Organisation has never been my strong point.  However, three new pencils are on their way and I think I can eke out what I have until they arrive.
It being half term, I am trying to cram as much into the time I have at home as I can.  Monday was cleaning & drawing, yesterday was baking (and drawing!)  With Halloween fast approaching, it's time to make pumpkin pie, spooky cupcakes, and hollow out the pumpkin ready for carving.  I even made soup with the insides of the pumpkin.  Since we went to Salem for Halloween a few times, my daughter has really taken to celebrating the day, so rather than the apathetic efforts of years gone by, I feel obliged to try and make it a bit more fun for her.  Today is the day to carve the pumpkin - I'm trying to find a design that is spectacular to look at but involving as little work as possible...

While we are talking about Halloween and the time of year, would someone like to inform my strawberry plants?  These were found in the garden yesterday and very tasty they were too!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Frills & Stuff!

I've wanted to try knitting with the yarn that makes things frilly for a long time and finally bought myself some last week.  It's very clever, it comes as a kind of tape that you have to stretch as you knit through the top edge of it.  It's very pretty too - I love the colours on this one.  However, knitting with it is so DULL!  After the first couple of days of wonderment at how it turns into a frothy delight, then it gets very tedious indeed as it is a slow process.  Luckily, this is now within a whisker of being finished.
Something that is not dull is sewing small felt brussels sprouts.  I was asked to come up with the design, and once that was approved, I now have to make a bunch of them.  Yesterday afternoon was spent very enjoyably with a cup of tea, Danish pastry, Jurassic Park on the telly and quietly cutting out all the pieces I will need.  Much better than trying to make each one individually as I go along, now I am sure that they will be identical.

I also had time at the weekend to back up my work photos (which hasn't been done for a shamefully long time) and revisited some of the work I've done over the years that was stored on the hard drive.
Am I the only person who has knitted poop on their resume?

It is half term  for British schools, which means a blessed break from the day job - it's been very tough lately, working with a little chap who I am positive has 666 tattooed somewhere on his body... So a peaceful week ahead and a chance to get on with the next dog portrait, some clearing up round the house, and at the end of the week, the first screening of Nudinits. I'm getting quite excited now, especially at the prospect of seeing all our work on a big screen and finding out what people think if it!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Improvisation, Perspiration, Desperation...

What do you do when someone wants a portrait painted of their dear departed dog but the best photo they have looks like this?  Not only is the photo dark, it is also really small...and you are also asked to make the labrador's eye the right colour and give the spaniel the curly ears he has now rather than his smooth puppy ears, as well as change the background to something plain.

Well, initially you take a deep breath, gulp slightly and smile, saying it will be fine, of course I can.  Then you have a couple of days of serious self-doubt and find anything else to do rather than tackle this knotty problem!

But thanks to the internet and a wealth of photographs of chocolate labradors, as well as a couple of mediocre extra photos of the spaniel pup, you bite the bullet and give it a go and find to your surprise that it all goes rather well.
Considering the problems I had to overcome, I'm quite happy with how this has turned out - hopefully the owners will be too.  Ted & Charlie, it's been a lot of hard work but worth it.

Next up, a portrait of a black spaniel with some superb reference photos to work from!

N.B. Yesterday the lady who commissioned this came to pick it up - as soon as she saw it she burst into tears!  She was still crying an hour later apparently - I think I got it right!