In which I talk about the joys of painting, drawing, knitting, cats, music, living in London, and whatever else takes my fancy.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year, New (Knitting) Challenge

Santa gave me a fabulous book of knitting patterns: Pretty In Punk by Alyce Benevides and Jacquline Milles, and I have the yarn to knit myself a pair of "Love Bites" striped wrist warmers. The pattern is straightforward: narrow stripes with an fair isle heart written for knitting flat, then sewing a seam afterwards.  However I much prefer to knit everything in the round and avoid seams altogether! So time to learn a new knitting skill: joggless stripes.  Fortunately for me, Techknitter has provided some very good instructions on how to do this on her blog here . So this will be my project for the few days away over new year. Watch this space for photo of the finished articles!

Happy New Year: may your dreams become reality in 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas soap and mug

Gradually catching up with work, and preparations for Christmas festivities.  Lots of xmas pressie knitting going on here: there will be some photos after the presents have gone to their recipients!

The special xmas tree soap - which spells spicy - has been brought out,  and likewise my xmas mugs!

This red-nose reindeer one is my favourite for coffee drinking : )

Friday, December 17, 2010

Absence and a pink tree

Blogging absence is down to being poorly with bronchitis, something I have not had before. Fortunately, I have a viral type, and am on the mend, just still very weak! It's been most disconcerting being ill for more than ten days: I'm rarely sick for longer than a day or so.

So to cheer myself up, today I treated myself to a pink tinsel Christmas tree, and some white lights for it.

All the glass baubles, etc are ones I've treasured for many years. The cute chubby angel-fairy on the top was a lovely gift. The little glass santa at the foot of the tree was saved from the original set of fairy lights my parents had when I was small. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Gertrude Woolsworthy and Cranford mitts

I was recently invited to create a festive seasonal illustration of the fabulous Agony Aunt Gerty Woolsworthy  for Stitch London's 2nd December newsletter.

 For those not familiar with her, Gerty is a giant ball of pink variegated yarn, with a penchant for gin and cake (especially Battenburg), as well as dispensing pragmatic and hilarious advice for all manner of loosely knitting-related problems!

Fortunately, I have met Gertrude in real life, so dreaming up how she would celebrate at this time of year was great fun.

These are my fabulous new Cranford mitts, which I knitted in November in a Ravelry P/Hop group November knit-a-long. (A knit-a-long is where several people get together on-line and agree to all knit the same pattern and compare notes, photos, etc). A grand total of fifty pairs of the mitts were completed in November, raising funds in the process for Medecins Sans Frontiers via Pennies per hour of pleasure.  All of us had such fun knitting the mitts from Jane Lithgow's lovely pattern that we agreed to extend the knit-a-long to the end of December, so there is still time to join in!
The eagle-eyed may spot that I knitted one less repeat after the thumbs: this is because these are my painting mitts!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pink fairy armadillo and other creatures

Yesterday was a day for feeding my imagination in the company of some fellow children's illustrators: we all met at the Natural History Museum for a morning of sketching there. A truly amazing place for drawing, both the exhibits and the people looking at the exhibits (or on their mobile phone!)
My plan was to head straight for my favourite of the mammals galleries - the one with the whales and dolphins, then I got distracted on the way there by the bats! I never feel quite comfortable looking at stuffed, dead animals, but reminded myself that this is probably the only way I am going to get the chance to study bats up close.  Such dainty creatures, and with a lovely contrast between the soft, fine fur of their bodies, and the leatheriness of their wings. I especially loved the way the shape of the nose of the spear nose bat echoed the shape of it's ears.
My discovery of the day was the wonderfully named "pink fairy armadillo": a tiny creature from the Argentine pampas, that I had never heard of before.  In spite of it's name, the specimen in the glass case is not pink - more of a slightly pinky beige fur, with creamy plates on it's back. I want to find out a lot more about this creature.

I was also excited to see some of the fossils Mary Anning discovered in Lyme Regis, having thoroughly enjoyed reading Tracy Chevalier's "Remarkable Creatures" 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Coming of Cats

Life at home has been lonely and sad without a furry feline companion since the beginning of October.

Happily, this was all changed yesterday. I painted this birthday card last week for a friend, which presciently had a tiny black cat peering round an open door!

At the top is Poppy: she likes hiding out and watching what is going on from safe spaces, which will make getting a good photo of her quite tricky for a while.

Toby is the handsome black and white long-haired boy who loves to be groomed, which is just as well given how long his coat is!

Both cats have agreed to pose for drawing, and to refrain from playing with paintbrushes, or sitting on paintings. As for interfering with knitting, that remains to be seen!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Owl, A Pussycat and A Sheep

Edward Lear's poem "The Owl and The Pussy Cat" continues to hold a fascination for me: I like to imagine the story with a contemporary setting, and also answer questions like how did the pair meet? I think there will be a children's book in the musings eventually.

So here is my latest water colour version of the invitation to go to sea! I'd love to know what you think of it.

This little ewe, from a very rare breed,  attended Sarah McIntyre's book launch for "Vern and Lettuce", which was enlivened no end by being also a "Stitch a Sheep" evening with Stitch London.  Tiny Lady Kidsilk was delighted to meet many other wonderful sheep, and also to win a medal for "Most stylish sheep"!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More adventures with yarn

More tiny items I have knitted in the past few weeks.

 The tiny hats are for Innocent's annual fundraising campaign with tiny hats on their smoothie bottles: Big Knit . It's always fun to come up with new ideas, and this year's contributions are cat-themed in honour of Willow.

Plarn Dragonfly encounters the woolly yarn dragonfly! I knitted both: the tiny yarn version is my own design, and pattern is in process of being written up. The plarn version was designed by Lauren O'Farrell for Stitch London's workshop at Prince Charles's Start Garden Party in September, as was a tiny sheep. Lauren's sheep pattern is for woolly yarn, but I got creative and made the perky plarn one shown here!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

the adventures of Mini-me, Part 5

Remember the mini-me from earlier this year? She now lives with another 256 stitched-selves at the Fleece Station, but currently they are all very excited to be on a trip with Stitch London to the Knitting and Stitching Show at the very fabulous Alexandra Palace in north London! Can you spot mini-me? (A clue: she is on the grey wall). Thanks so much to Deadly Knitshade for the photo : )

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Willow 1990 to 2010

Beautiful and very loving Willow lived with me for over twenty years.

 "I'll see you again when the stars fall from the sky"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Knitting while life goes on

Life sometimes has a way of throwing a large spanner in the works, so that even the best made plans have to be re-jigged. Hence the lack of painting! There have been some good times amidst it all, mainly adventures in knitting, which is somehow easier to do than drawing when I am distressed.  The photograph shows my haul from iKnit Weekender: some gorgeous New Lanarkshire blue yarn for a shrug, 2 mm circular needle, and most importantly Hedwig and three bat stitch markers from The Bothered Owl.

I also helped out Stitch London with knitting sheep and plarn bugs at Prince Charles' Start Garden Party To Make A Difference : fuller explanation and photos here! It was great fun, and I was astonished to meet Brian Blessed (who can knit!), plus catch sight of myself on the edge of news items about the event.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Goth seaside Day 4 Version 2

Here is version two of paddling at dusk! I am much happier with this painting than the previous one: her proportions are better, and I prefer the way the skirt is bunched up.

I've got one more idea for this mini-series of illustrations, so that will be here in the next day or two. Then I'm going to be doing an "Alice In Wonderland"/"Through The Looking Glass" project.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Goth seaside Day 4

It proved surprisingly difficult to paint this one: the problem for me has been getting the proportions right with her feet hidden in the waves! Not to mention the sea breezes blowing her hair. For this painting I could definitely imagine the sensations I associate with paddling in the sea, but then found this hard to translate into paint. I'm going to have another go to see whether I can catch better what I want to depict.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Lion and Tiny Squid

This handsome accordion-playing lion has come to live with me, thanks to Ladysnail.

The tiny yellow squid is impressed, and quite fancies a turn with the accordion himself! He thinks having multiple tentacles would give him an advantage with playing intricate tunes. I knitted him in preparation for the exciting  Stitch A Squid event at the Natural History Museum, where I was a Stitch London  "knit a squid teacher".

I am part way through knitting Mr Squid a companion using DeadlyKnitshade's pattern for the Finger-fighting stitched squid.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

September 1st Giveaway Humpty!

This cheerful humpty dumpty has been specially knitted for my blog "give away" on September 1st!

I like to do something special on September 1st, which was my mother's birthday. It was my mother who taught me the rudiments of knitting: how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off when I was tiny. She also encouraged me to experiment with knitting, and allowed me to delve into her knitting encyclopedia to discover fancy stitches like cable that I could use to embellish the doll's clothes I made.

On September 1st, I will pick a winner at random from amongst all who have left a comment on this blog post about "September 1st Giveaway Humpty". Please also provide an email address so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Goth seaside Day 1

The current skull lace obsession has led me to ponder what goths would do at the seaside, and the idea of a mini-blog project was born. Here is day 1: the goth sand castle at dusk

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Of Lace and Yarn

Currently I am on a mission to knit new lace edgings for a well worn and much-loved cotton and linen summer cardigan, which now has huge holes on the cuffs and bottom. It occurred to me that I did not have to emulate the existing lace, but could knit something more me. My inner goth requested skulls lace, so I set about devising a skull edging of appropriate size. After all, it could not be that difficult: I'd dreamed up a skull humpty dumpty in April, and knitting lace is simply a matter of increasing and decreasing stitches to create holes in specific places. Quite a few attempts and experiments later, I decided that a better understanding of the construction of knitted lace would help, so I have embarked on making a lace sampler scarf. It is not creating the skull shapes which has been the problem, but figuring out a satisfactory openwork background to set them off, without making the lace edging too deep. Wish me luck!
New additions to my stashes of yarn and buttons: this fabulous 2 ply lace yarn came from Yarn to Knit . I was lucky enough to win a £10 voucher for the shop in the monthly draw from news letter subscribers, and then even luckier to be able to meet Martina in person at Of Cabbages and Kings, and so choose the yarn and button in real life.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Cluster Of Humpties And Slippers

Here is a group photo of the "class of summer 2010" humpty dumpties, all are going their separate ways after growing up together. They are a diverse mix of characters, who have had all sorts of fun and disagreements, chattering away in my work box and on the shelf. It will be fun to see where they set off to for the next stage of their lives via my etsy shop, Dragonfly Sky.

It may be August - one of the summer months in the UK - but chilly weather last Friday prompted the knitting of these delightfully squishy and warm "Grown Up Booties" from Ysolda Teague's "Whimsical Knits (see Summer Holiday post). I used some approximately aran weight, gorgeous tweedy wool that I bought from The Handweavers Studio . They were quick and very easy to knit, so the pattern is recommended. I am now working on another pair, this time with a plan to vary the toe area to better fit my natural bunion joint toes! A foot shape which although less common, is hereditary in my family.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Summer Holiday: Womad and Knit Nation

It's August, and I am back from the very best kind of summer holiday in my view: music, friends, family and creativity. As anticipated, Womad was three days of marvellous and intriguing music from all over the world, including some favourites of mine: Salif Keita, Afro Celt Sound System, and Gil Scott Heron, plus great new discoveries: Toumast, The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain (just about visible over the heads of the crowd in my photo), and Imogen Heap. Also experienced the most squashed viewing conditions ever: in an odd billing decision, Rolf Harris was on stage in the Siam Tent: everyone it seemed, wanted to see him live! Well worth it: very entertaining set.
I made up for missing my regular evenings of knitting and chatting with StitchLondon by going to Knit Nation 2010 with kindred spirits Deadly Knitshade and The Fastener from the fabulous yarn spinners Knit The City. The vast range of gorgeous yarns, and all manner of knitty accessories was overwhelming! My purchases were restricted by a tight budget, so I just bought another two Addi Lace circular needles (which I use for knitting almost everything!), and Ysolda Teague's "Whimsical Knits". Ysolda very kindly signed the book for me, using my Ravelry name of dragonflyknit2. We also attended the very splendid Ravelry party, so I am now the proud possessor of the gorgeous project bag, and a Ravelry badge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Holiday anticipated

It's the summer holiday season when life becomes even more busy as I try to cram in all the work, etc before I go away! As ever, main holiday will consist of watching lots of music: Womad 'Not sure who I will be seeing, because I need to have the official programme with performance times to work this out: inevitably, there are some clashes where I cannot be in two places at the same time. Whatever, I am certain that I will see and hear some wonderful music, and have a fab time with my friends. This year, too, my cat will have company while I am away, in the form of a house-guest, who will be staying here and looking after her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Illustration Friday - "Diary"

This week's Illustration Friday topic of "Diary" was irresistible, especially as I find myself constantly juggling the things I want to do, with things I have to do, and actually have time to do! It also gave me a perfect topic to play with and ease myself back into drawing as a habit, after a couple of weeks without the space to dream and draw.

I loved the idea of creating an illustration that looked as if it could have been crudely block printed, in the style of early printing because there is a time-less quality about the way people use and have used diaries over the centuries.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A "Fascinating" Time

I will be drawing again very soon: it was surprising to me to discover how much I need my own space to be able to dream and work. My friend is staying elsewhere now, so have my drawing table, etc back! I am also currently trying to find out what time of day is best for me for painting and drawing: something I had not thought about previously, but has been prompted by a book I am reading.
In the meantime, Saturday was spent at Craftacular in the delightful company of Deadly Knitshade and The Fastener from Stitch London. As well as eating wonderful heartshaped raspberry tarts, we also learnt how to make a "fascinator". (This was especially timely because I will be attending a wedding next weekend.) The photo shows my less-than-conventional creation: the lovely Amy from the make lounge taught the workshop well, so that it was both fun and successful learning.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The adventures of Mini-me, Part 4

I next caught up with Mini-me at The Science Museum on June 30th, where she and 258 of her mini-person friends starred as an exhibit for one night only! This was another event organised by Stitch London. Mini-me is just under the letter "y". Much more information about the evening, and far better photos here - do take a look: all the mini-mes have developed lives of their own, which I find very interesting from a cultural perspective. Essentially, the mini-mes are dolls, and humans have been making them since pre-history: see a brief history by the Connecticut doll artists here. I don't know where mini-me will appear next, but am looking forward to seeing her again.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The adventures of Mini-me, Part 3

Posts will be a tad sporadic, because I currently have un-expected house guest.

In the meantime, I knitted Mini-me a friend in the form of a tiny perching pigeon, from a pattern by Anna Havrochec . Anna joined us last week for Stitch London 's Tiny Pigeon Perching party in Trafalgar Square. Mini-me and pigeon left together and went along with Deadly Knitshade, but I expect to see Min-me again later this week for her next public adventure!

Monday, June 21, 2010

She made friends with Sky Rockit and Axis of Evon from the Steam Rollers

The adventures of Mini-me, Part 2

Then Saturday afternoon found her watching the very fabulous London Roller Girl teams Suffra Jets compete against the Ultraviolent Femmes:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The adventures of Mini-me

In spite of lack of appearances here, I have been busy making and drawing over the past few weeks. Stitch London's Science Museum project prompted me to knit a mini-me: I had lots of fun making her, then she developed a bit of a life of her own over the weekend. On Saturday, she went along to enjoy the opening of Loop at their fabulous new shop in Camden Passage.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


This wonderful KnitTheCity flyrate has been keeping me company since I rescued him from the pouring rain on Sunday May 2nd. He formed a part of the yarnstorm leading to the Pirate Castle at the Camden Crawl, and had lots of fantastic companions on the Saturday: regular pirates, mice, and fellow flyrates. When I returned to Camden on the Sunday he was all alone, and soaking wet, so taking him home seemed a good plan! He is also been a great reminder of happy times and companionship which has been so valuable to me over the past couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pause for reflection

Not a lot of useful drawing and painting has occurred for the past month or so, because I have been very pre-occupied with urgently rearranging some day to day living arrangements. Drawing has continued, which has kept my eye and hand co-ordination up to speed, but not of the kind of quality I'd want to share!
This pause has given me an opportunity to reflect on the contents of my various portfolios, and I have realised that in my efforts to be consistent in what I am displaying, I have lost some key elements of me as a person from the work - the guitar-playing rock chick who is a Very Important Fan of the London Roller Girls, and a proud knitter member of Stitch London. So, now experimenting with some new work to add.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Artist's impression of me as a coin

Some fellow creative pals and I visited the medieval rooms at the British Museum, and the talented and lovely Chichi has produced these drawings to commemorate the occasion!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sneak preview of box and humpties

I suspect that I have not learnt to do photography properly before because there is so much to consider that I overwhelm myself with information.
Here is the box: I will be on familiar territory converting this into a lightbox, wielding measure, pen, knife, tape and tracing paper. So much so that I have even dreamed up an improvement on the design! This photo taken how I usually do: find some reasonably good lighting in my flat, and adjust shooting distance to get the image framed nicely.
I did something similar here, with this sneak preview of the new members of the humpty clan.

Photography to do list

Photography is rather a mystery to me still: sometimes my photos are stunningly good by accident, but mostly lack lustre. I have had loads of feedback now that my photographs of things I've made to sell on etsy, etc do not do justice to the items in real life. So.. I need to make a concerted effort to learn to photograph small items better! There are lots of good photography tips on etsy, so I am starting with some small non intimidating steps:
  1. Make a light box. I've got the materials - carton, tracing paper and tape, and good instructions.
  2. Learn what the settings on the camera mean.
  3. Experiment by snapping the new humpties as I usually do, and then following instructions from etsy article.
Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Bunny

It is a glorious day of spring sunshine and showers, so I have been out for a walk to my favourite Finsbury Park . Look who I spotted scurrying among the daffodils: a tiny Easter Bunny! She also spotted me, and climbed higher for a better look, before running off again, I know not where. Maybe to find her friend The Easter Bunny - the one who delivers the chocolate eggs. Happy Easter!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Where did the time go?

It is amazing to me that it is more than a month since my last blog post: where did the time go? I know I have been extremely busy with a lot of very tedious paperwork of a financial nature! Fortunately the end is in sight for this now, and there will be time once more for normal creative endeavours.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A tale of two scarves

Whilst access to the internet has been tricksy (required a visit from ISP, plus a new modem to fix!), I have completed the knitting of two scarves! The top one knitted in double-quick time - less than two days, because I was very intrigued to see how the shaping worked: the scarf is assymetrical and fastened with the padded heart, which surprisingly was the first part to knit. I used this pattern by Kate Gilbert from the Twist Collective. This is a present for a special little girl.

The second scarf is the wonderfully warm, simple lace stripes (which automatically create the chevrons) that I knitted for myself from the Fifteen Knitting Kit that I wrote about on 1st December 2009. I was spurred on to complete it by the exceptionally cold weather this winter!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Drawing at Kew today

I was surprised to find I had made 24+ sketches today. The Palm House ones are the best - probably because I was at least warm. Kew provides good opportunities to draw school children, too, who seemed to be enthralled by the tropical plants.
Although I thought I was going to Kew to draw plants, I discovered the amazing Marine Life display in the basement of the Palm House, which is inhabited by seaweeds, corals, and fish! It was an amazing chance to draw a living plaice, and to be stared at by the animals. Seriously, they were all coming to the glass of their tanks to peer out at me - maybe they are bored?

These are my newly knitted wristwarmers aka fingerless gloves, specially completed in time for my planned trip to Kew. I made them from lovely soft Colinette jitterbug yarn, using Fishtail wristwarmers pattern designed by Alexandra Brinck. They certainly help for keeping my fingers warm and flexible enough for drawing out of doors in the bitterly cold weather this January!