Thursday, 26 February 2015

Plane Sailing...

I don't usually knit clothes for other people, I find it a little tedious these days - even my family have to make do with hats and gloves as knitted presents.  However, when someone approached me with this pattern, I could not resist!

It is a vintage pattern, I couldn't find a date on it but it cost 25 cents new.  Judging by the design of fighter planes (they are, aren't they?) I would put it at from the 1940's.  It's also knitted in chunky wool, so knits up really quick - the back took me under a week of evening knitting to complete.  I am enjoying this, and even the prospect of making pockets and fitting a zipper doesn't put me off.

However, there is a certain gentleman in the house who thinks he'd like one of these as well...I might not be quite so enthusiastic second time around!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Cuddle Cushion

 Here is the finished painting of Jasper on a calico cushion cover. This has been painted in Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks, so should be totally wash-proof.
Feels odd to see him like this - I can have a cuddle again if I want to!  If you'd like your pet painted on a cushion cover, see my Etsy shop for details.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

More Memories...

While searching for photos of Jasper through the dusty cobwebs at the back of my computer files, I came across a folder full of photos I thought had been lost when my last computer died.  It will take many days to trawl through them and see what is there, but it was good to find records of past commissions and paintings that are long gone.  Above, this was a 'treasure chest' painted with a portrait of a cat - it was also lined with silk, with a hole in the corner where a tiny painted mouse peeked out.
This is a painting of a saluki pup that I did for a calendar - I was determined to up the profile of salukis in print, there are not enough!  Unfortunately, shortly after I completed 24 paintings for two calendars, the company went into liquidation and I never got my paintings back - I believe they were being held hostage by some graphics designer until he got paid!  Luckily, I did get paid but there were other artists who lost out big time - if anyone out there knows the whereabouts of my work for these calendars (12 puppies, 12 kittens) I'd dearly love to get them back!
This was fun to paint - many years ago (before the builders moved in next door and made our garden a scary place for birds) we had a pear tree which blue-tits loved.  We used to get a nesting pair in our eaves every year and this is a painting of three young blue-tits who were so tame I could go out and if I stood quietly for a few minutes, I could get the perfect reference photos or check out their colours before trotting back to my easel.

On the needles this week - a very big sweater!
Also sewing bushes and plants as scenery for a new animation.

Friday, 20 February 2015


I'm currently painting a picture of our old dog, Jasper, on a cushion cover using Inktense pencils and colour blocks.  The idea is, if this works then I will offer the chance to have your own dog immortalised on a cushion cover...or scarf...or t-shirt.  I quite like the idea of having Jasper still sitting on the sofa even after he's been gone five years - he was a game little chap and we still miss him.
 It was quite sad going through al the old photos yesterday trying to find a decent one to use, I even found a snippet of video with him in the garden which brought a tear to my eye!

Very excited today - we are going toUnravel at Farnham Maltings, showing the knitted animation Tickled Pink by Nudinits and giving a talk afterwards.  Not only that, there will be rooms and rooms of yarn.....

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Lovely Lace...

I've been knitting this scarf for what seems like an eternity!  The yarn is quite fine, the stitch to ages to learn and I kept getting sidetracked with other projects and having to put this to one side.
It's very pretty, very soft and very warm and now for sale in my Etsy shop. I have a lot of this gorgeous yarn left over and must think of something else to do with it...that doesn't take so long!
My son came home for a visit last week and opened a parcel that's been waiting for him for weeks.  Inside were some copies of a book he illustrated the front cover of.  It will be in the shops next month.
Can you read the credit on the back? Here...
I'm one very proud mum!  He also has two (count them, two!) front cover illustrations on upcoming editions of the Adventure Time comic book.  We're going to run out of room in the maternal pride folder!

Very busy at the moment - but not necessarily with what I want to be busy with.  I wonder why when you have extra time there are always things that crowd to fill it?

Thursday, 12 February 2015


The weeks are just flying by, I'm not sure where the time is going.  This week I have been sewing, mostly hand sewing a tiny walkman for a new animation.  I did get a few minutes to run up this cushion cover with some very cool fabric - I just love jellyfish!

Working from home is proving to be a good decision - I have bits and pieces coming in that are enough to keep me going.  Next on the needles is a fabulous vintage men's cardigan - I cannot wait to get started, it is the coolest design I've seen for ages.

Next weekend is the Unravel knitting show at Farnham Maltings.  If you are planning a visit, try and make it on the Saturday as we will be there as 'nudinits', showing the film at 1.30p.m. and fielding your questions!  I have a feeling it might get raucous...

Monday, 9 February 2015

Pretty Polly

Currently on the needles, a green parrot scarf!  Now that the fun part of making the head is over, it's a long boring haul knitting the scarf in 2 x 2 rib.  It will be worth it when it's done though.

Spending my days mostly sewing at the moment - tiny fiddly little things for a new animation.  Certainly makes a change from dealing with recalcitrant five year olds - I feel a whole lot calmer these days!

I'm looking forward to Unravel at Farnham Maltings next week - as part of the Nudinits team, we're showing the film and giving a Q&A afterwards on the 21st February, 1.30 p.m.  If you are in the area, come along and say hello! (There will be yarn too, oh yes, there will be yarn...)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

The Week Gone By...

It's been a busy week - Sunday I got out the Dremel and drilled some holes in all the scallop shells I have been accumulating.  Stacie and I like to eat scallops!  I wanted a length of shell bunting in my new work room, so after drilling them, I just strung them up on some hairy twine.  By the way, drilling scallops absolutely stinks!
We've had a fair bit of this throughout the week.  This was Tuesday, when it settled but only stayed until lunchtime.
Some of us were happier about it than others!
The new work room has been put to good use.  Not only is it fantastic to have everything I need to hand, it's also the warmest room in the house!  I just love that I can leave things out, mid-project, and come back to work on them the next day without losing my train of thought.  It's been a week of sewing ridiculously small things for a new animation. 
Being able to work on the paid jobs throughout the day leaves me free to knit my own stuff in the evenings if I want to.  I knitted this super soft cowl in two days - it's gorgeous and for sale in my Etsy shop now.

We've also had a lot of noise from the builders next door - it's been nearly a year with no let up.  If you see in the papers a story about some woman beating the operator of an angle grinder round the head with a baseball bat, it might well be me...

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Tutorial - Painting On Fabric With Inktense Colours

Today I am going to show you how I painted this cushion cover using Derwent Inktense colour blocks and pencils.
First, I made the cushion cover from unbleached calico - how I did that is another subject!  Before painting on any fabric, first wash it to remove any coating that may have been put on it during production.  This will help with the surface you are painting on, it removes any 'waxiness' that might prevent the paint sinking in to the fabric.

Here I have painted on calico, but I have previously painted on cotton, t-shirts and silk - each fabric is different in absorbency and it is wise to have a trial piece before you go in for your main project.  Calico is robust and like painting on canvas; t-shirts are slightly more absorbant and need drier paint mixes and silk is extremely absorbant and needs patience and caution!
Before you start, put a piece of card or paper underneath your surface to prevent any paint seeping through to the back of your item. If you are painting on something like a scarf which has only one layer, this is still a good idea to protect your drawing board.  If necessary, attach the fabric to your drawing board with bulldog clips or masking tape.  The last thing you need is your painting falling to the floor mid brushstroke!
Sketch out your design lightly using pencil - pencil washes out easily if necessary.  I believe there are pencils out there specifically designed for use on fabric but I have never had cause to use one.
Start by mixing up light washes of pigment and painting carefully within your lines.  Try not to overload your brush until you get the measure of the fabric's absorbancy. Make your first brushstroke well within the lines to make sure the paint does not bleed outwards, spoiling your design.
I have left the sparrow until later - it is a far more intricate piece, so needs different strategies.
While the fabric is still very slightly damp, add shading in a darker wash as you would with a watercolour painting.  The pigment should spread within the already painted area and hopefully not bleed over the edges - be careful with those edges!
Continue in this manner until you have the effect you want, making sure not to over-saturate the fabric - you may have to wait to allow it to dry occasionally.
Here I have added a darker green to the leaves as well, using the same technique.
Add detail using an Inktense pencil. As the fabric will still be holding a little moisture, this should help the colour flow easily on the fabric.  If you want extreme depth of colour, it is acceptable to dip the end of the pencil into your paint water carefully before drawing - be careful not to get the water on to wood of the pencil as this will soak in and affect your use of it.
For the bird I am using light washes to begin with, testing them on a spare piece of paper first to make sure I get the right colour and to make sure the brush is not dripping wet.  This requires a delicate touch!
To add the black feathers, I am using a small wet brush and getting the pigment directly off the end of the pencil.  Do not use too much water for this, just enough to get the colour you want.
You can also draw directly onto the fabric with a sharp pencil and get very good detail.
Carefully go over the drawn lines with a damp brush to 'set' the colour and make sure it does not run when you paint over it.  This also helps work the pigment into the fabric a bit better if necessary.
Here are my main black lines.
Time to fill in the browns of the plumage using light washes - keep your brush fairly dry to make sure the colour does not run too much. Continue to paint in this manner until you are happy with the result.
It's time now to put in the white highlights.
In order for the white to show up on the fabric, mix the paint as thickly as you can while still being able to paint with it. A thin wash will not show up.
You may have to put on several layers if you want the white to be very bright.
Here is the finished painting,  ready for the next stage.  We are going to iron the fabric with a steam iron on the correct setting for your fabric.
Before ironing, remove the card and insert a teatowel between the layers of your item - if it is a scarf, put a teatowel under it on top of the ironing board.  This prevents any bleed-through of the pigment - it's never happened to me but you can't be too careful!

Cover the top of your painting with muslin or another teatowel, just to prevent any mishaps. Occasionally my iron decides to spew out some brown water due to limescale - you do not want this spoiling all your hard work!
Iron thoroughly with the steam on full throughout.  The idea of this is to get moisture into every particle of pigment and set it into the fabric.  Take a few minutes to ensure that each part of your picture has been gone over several times.

Ta-Dah!!  Here is your finished cushion cover, which should be safe to wash as many times as you like with no loss of colour.  I would recommend the first wash be by hand to make sure nothing goes wrong, but I am very confident that the colours will not wash out.  For this reason, do NOT get your paints on your clothes or you will have a permanent reminder of the day you painted.  I tend to wipe my brush down the side of my trouser leg when deep in concentration - if this is you, put a towel or something over your legs to prevent ruining your best jeans!

Have fun - it's great to have your work of art on something different for a change!

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Feathers & Frills

I recently had to work out a generic bird pattern for a customer, but rather than let her have all the fun, I wanted to make myself a scarf from it too.  This is the completed cockatoo scarf - it's quite short because I got bored because I thought it would be nice to have the feathers falling at the neckline a bit like a cravat.  The beak holds on to the scarf body with a nifty little aligator clip inside.
I'd like to make a green parrot in the same way, but first I really have to finish the other wips in my pile!
Like this one - a scarf knitted from novelty yarn that ruffles as you knit.  There are cute little sequins scattered about as well.  I'm tempted to keep this one when it's done - there is plenty of yarn left to make more!
And if I can get my act together, I am writing another mini tutorial on how to paint on fabric with Inktense.  It may take a couple of days as I have picked a complicated little picture because I want it as a cushion cover in my work room.