June 30, 2006

Here's my work desk for WIP fridays. It's only neat (yes this is neat for me) because it just got a tidyup :). Previously, it was hard to get past it...

June 27, 2006

I will admit, not being woken at 5am with mewing for breakfast has put me in a more creative mood... although I suspect David Austin can take more credit than me for the roses.

First, I need to say some thank yous for wonderful things that arrived last week.

I really like Annie's artwork and admired some cards she made.

The wonderful person sent me some in exchange for a copy of one of DH's books.

I feel like I did nothing on that swap!

And then by some miracle (I never win anything), I won a competition at Erin's A Dress A Day blog. I'm looking forward to cosy beach reading of this (if I can find an appropriate dress to do it in).

If you don't know either of those two blogs, get over there and enjoy.

Then, the recent creative blackspot when I just didn't feel like sitting down to make anything seems to be over.

Sandra, if you're reading this, look away now!

I have an uncertain relationship with magazines as I feel I should keep them but then they clutter up the place endlessly. Recently, however, DH bought me back some magazines from a book signing in France and I had a revelation! I really just like looking at the pictures! It's OK to cut out the best bits! So I joined Cotton Strudel's magazine swap and I can't wait to see what Sandra has sent me from Belgium.

I made a quick bag to send the ones I bought and really it was an excuse to try and see if I could back fabric with freezer paper and send it through the ink jet printer. It worked absolutely brilliantly, I will definitely be doing this again (the picture is DH's, I wish I could draw like that).

And last but not least...

My copy of One Skein finally arrived.

Here's the felted bowl drying out.

I hate dpns with a passion and managed to avoid them by using a shorter circular needle and then ending with a three-needle bindoff instead of doing the last decrease row.

The wool is Twilley's Freedom Wool which actually doesn't felt quite as well as I expected but feels great to knit with.

June 20, 2006

M is for... Miss you

Nin had been with us for 12 years, almost all the time DH and I have lived together. The first day we took her home she was so scared she hid under the chest of drawers all night. She died yesterday in her place of santuary under our bed.

She wasn't the brightest cat and she was extremely annoying at 5am, but she was loved. The house feels empty without her.

I'm glad she travelled the journey alongside us for all these years.

(I know I've not done I, J, K or L yet... I'll get to them...)

June 16, 2006

The final day of Colour week... red.

This is my favourite tea cup (I've got three of them), it's Wade fiestaware from the 1960s.

Wade are still going, they make little ceramic collectables - I remember collecting the whimsies animals when I was a kid. Pretty sure they don't make tableware any more, though... I'm not overly surprised: the colour and design is wonderful but the saucer's got big old ring marks from the jigger it was made on and the glaze is pretty uneven. But I like that you can see the hand of the maker(s).

To see the rest of the week's tour of Staffordshire ceramics in my house:

Blue willow pattern (Burleigh)

Black and white cereal bowl (Portmeirion)

Brown floor tiles (Minton)

White sink (Twyfords)

June 15, 2006

Blue = Willow pattern. No brainer, really.

June 14, 2006

To continue the Colour week tour of ceramics made in Staffordshire in my house... here's a little black on DH's cereal bowl (Portmeirion if you're interested).
I've been so lucky to receive some great things through the post recently...

Astrid sent me this really soft and lovely black sweater from her Great Monday Giveaway.

I've got plans to alter it a little but I won't start it until I'm sure what to do, it would be so easy to ruin it...

And I've received my first parcel from my One Skein pal.

What a great selection! Some lovely papers, some needle point guards (which I desperately need as DD has a habit of grabbing knitting saying 'what's this, can I help?' pulling all the stitches off...) and a really intriguing thing shaped like 3 sides of a square to make a loopy scarf with - it looks great fun to try.

And the skein of yarn... ooooh! A beautiful ball of laceweight hand dyed in gorgeous shades of purple.

Lace is a new challenge for me but I've spent the last couple of weeks reading the entertaining posts on The Amazing Lace. I was wondering if I could find a simple pattern and try and make sense of the whole lace thing to select an appropriate yarn... and the perfect one turns up through my letterbox! I'm very excited to try it, thanks so much secret pal!

June 13, 2006

It's Tuesday so it must be my brown Minton bathroom floor...

June 12, 2006

Magfly inspired me to try felt bead making and even more wonderfully sent me some roving to try it.

DD and I have really enjoyed it, it's the perfect activity for a 4 year old who likes instant gratification and to do it all herself. Here's a useful tutorial.

DD also arranged her own photograph.

White day of Colour Week (or possibly should-be-white in the case of my grouting...).

June 09, 2006

My inspirational picture for Project Spectrum's month of blue. It's in the V&A and called Akbar Witnesses the Drowning of Two Members of his Retinue.

Bit of a serious one this month, I'm going to pinch some of the V&A's interpretation:
This illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) depicts the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) watching two of his men drowning as they attempt to swim with their horses across the Ravi River in the province of Lahore (in present-day Pakistan). The composition was designed by the Mugha court artist La’l, and the details painted by Sanwala.

I've struggled a bit with what to do this month as I tend to use blue very rarely. Then I heard about Knit a River, a knit petition to encourage more governments to invest in water aid projects.

Water, and the lack of it, seem to be making the headlines at the minute. Here in the rainy UK we are facing drought conditions, hosepipe bans and the threat of standpipes (last seen in 1976, a summer clear in many British people's memories). But even so it's hard to imagine having to walk miles every day carrying water, or knowing that the water you have is contaminated and might kill your children.

The picture shows how difficult it is for us to master water, much as we need to. It's a good inspiration for my 15cm x 15cm blue square...

June 08, 2006

Thanks to Pink Rocket being a star and sending me some freezer paper, I've had a go at freezer paper stencils and made this bag with a swallow on it.

It's about the size for a sock-knitting bag (not that I knit socks, but my one skein pal does...).

June 02, 2006

Last weekend we went to Manchester Art Gallery. A few years ago the museum closed for several years and had an enormous refurbishment. I'm a bit scathing of the Casson Mann grey (leading UK museum designers who have so far turned several museums stylish grey...), but the galleries are still looking fabulous. It makes excellent use of breathing space in the building rather than cramming objects into every nook and cranny.

The little button exhibition was great, although the real excuse to visit was the Miffy exhibition.

I hadn't realised that all of Dick Bruna's work is cut outs - that's how he gets such flat colour. It was great to see his other illustration work as well as his children's books.

The exhibition has some great kids activities and DD got to meet Miffy herself :)

June 01, 2006

And then yesterday, my Back Tack softie arrived from Norway.

I've really enjoyed discovering Magfly.

She's been quite an inspiration during this project: a few weeks ago she posted something like 'why not keep it simple' at just the moment I needed rescuing from getting way too complicated with the bunny :)

She's been making the most beautiful felted beads on necklaces recently and I was so excited to discover she had sent me one of them and some roving to make more of my own. I can't wait to try it out!

She also sent DD a knitting dolly (strikkelise I think) which she battled with for a bit and was then over the moon when she got it sussed. I foresee a lot of knitted cords in our future... Oh and there was some yummy chocolate too (not sure that even made it to the photo!).

But most importantly...

This beautiful cat! Look at that friendly face! And very soft and cuddle-able. She even has sweet little black claws in her exquisitely-shaped paws.

Thank you!
Desiree has formally adopted my Back Tack bunny, so I can now share some photos.

The rules for this round of Back Tack were detailed: only using black, white and up to 20% of one other colour, no more than 20cm high, 5 buttons and the initial of the recipient somewhere on the softie.

I went through several different pattern ideas and an awful lot of different fabric choices.

Eventually I made a bunny from Better Homes & Gardens (the pattern was sent out by the Back Tack organisers) which is great and I'll definitely use again.

I felted a cashmere tank (that I got on ebay) and it turned out unbelievably gorgeous and soft and so easy to work with. The pink ears are from an old t-shirt of DD's. I printed them with a rubber stamp tree design which came out looking quite scrappy but I really like the texture.

Four of the buttons (the 5th is the tail) are threaded on a belt which Desiree can take off and wear as a bracelet. You can JUST see the 'D' on this photo at the tip of the ear.

Although the bunny is wearing a dress, it's been consistently referred to as 'he' during its creation. Good job he's gone to live in a liberal country...