Friday, 27 August 2010

Seaside Inspiration

Hello dear people!

After an unexpected interlude (a two week one actually), I'm back ~ and how are you? It feels like an age since my last post, so let me explain what I've been up to!

First of all I'll tell you about the picture above. It's the beginning of a new/old painting. I say this because I started it several months ago and suddenly stopped because I lost all direction and couldn't for the life of me decide where to take it. It's strange how that happens, despite sketches and being able to see it so very clearly in your mind, some paintings just follow their own journey and end up being nothing like you intended. Which isn't always a bad thing, and I'm sometimes quite good about this process, being very patient and just seeing where we'll end up, and other times not; I stamp my foot and get cross. I remember how this painting stirred up something of a small temper and the painting ended up being shoved carefully out of sight, until I rediscovered it a few days ago and realised exactly what was needed to make it good...and I will share that with you as soon as its done!

Lets just say for now (and you can probably tell by the colours) that it's going to be a very happy, colourful, coasty type of painting!! Hurrah!! :D

And that's something else I've been doing too, spending a bit of time at the coast! I have been staying with my sister in Suffolk and we had the absolute best fun crabbing at Walberswick (near Southwold) one warm, sunny afternoon!

This is that lovely sort of fun that takes you back to childhood, putting pieces of ham on your hook then lowering your line and waiting a while...drawing it up slowly through the luminous green water to see if you've caught anything, and oh so exciting when you do!! (happy little dances on the quayside when we realised we had actually caught a real live crab).

After a long and enjoyable while, someone suggested ice-creams and so we walked over to the little beach and let our crabs go...nothing better than a nice ice-cream after a spot of crabbing eh?!

Off the little chaps go...

...scampering safely back to sea!!

There's such a lovely nostalgia about this part of our coastline for me, old fisherman's huts, upturned old boats with peeling paint, it feels as though nothing has changed in a very long time and I do like how coast meets countryside here and is so very, very pretty.

As for the rest of my 10 days in Suffolk, although the weather wasn't too fabulous for August, we did enjoy some gorgeous sunsets from the garden, chatting and enjoying a nice drink together once all the kiddiwinkles were in bed fast asleep.

Continuing with a seaside theme, I had to show you these postcards I picked up at a very nice shop in Walberswick. They are taken from etchings by a very talented fellow called Glynn Thomas.

This one above is of Southwold lighthouse, and the one below is of Aldebrough:

I like to collect postcards and cards like this, they are very good for inspiring me when the creative well has run dry. Luckily at the moment, I'm full of enthusiasm for my new/old painting and I also had a fabulous idea whilst away for another new crochet project. Yes. I know...another one.

I can't help myself.

But....I'm being very strict with myself, I have bought the wool...

...see how coastal and seasidey blue they are?

Very nice, I know - but I am absolutely and completely going to finish my Popcorn Granny bag first before I begin my New Project.
And whilst I haven't made much headway this last week or two, the squares are mounting up and all I need are a couple more before I start to join them ~ and I will share a little tutorial for this as I've been asked how you do this, and so I will gladly explain (with the help of a few trusty pics) as soon as I get to that point, which won't be much longer I hope as I'm itching for a new bag, my old one is dropping to bits!

I might just have to take my squares off to Northumberland when we go, for something to do in the evenings as those nights are quickly drawing in aren't they? We have taken to lighting a few candles of an evening, to enjoy the last stretch of evening before night falls (about half past eight in these parts now) and resist putting the lamps on until we can barely see one another! I do like this time of year, for lots of reasons, but notice inwardly that subtle things are changing, like the scent of the air in the morning, and the sun now lower in the sky, altering how the shadows fall in the garden...

And it feels as if Summer is quickly ebbing away, and so, to help holiday memories linger a little longer I have repackaged my Beachside Art Cards, which are a fabulously printed set of five of my most favourite seaside inspired paintings! They come in a sturdy brown box that is prettily flecked with white (and reminds me a little of sand) with five envelopes, and they are blank for your own message.

And this is what is inside!

They are available here for UK customers, with free P&P - and for my lovely customers overseas, please check my Etsy shop (link up on the right there), as I'll be listing them there too.

Because Summer isn't quite over yet, is it?

I'm looking forward to catching up with your blogs now I'm back, and want to thank you for visiting me today, it's always a pleasure to know you have stopped by!

Have a great weekend, much love
Julia x x x

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Popcorn Flower Granny Squares Tutorial


What a smashing response to the Popcorn Flower Grannies!! I was over the moon to read how much you liked them, thank you so very much!

Without any more messing about, I reckon we need to get down to the serious hooky business of a PATTERN for you lovely people. I have taken plenty of helpful photographs for you, and done my best to write an understandable and easy pattern for you to follow.

And here it is! For info purposes, the stitches are in Ameican terminology, so I hope it doesn't cause too much confusion!

Popcorn Flower Granny Tutorial!

Ch 4 and join with a SS to make a ring.

Ch 3
1 DC into the ring
Ch 1
This is the first cluster.

The next cluster stitches are going to be DC2TOG (or sometimes, I think they're called Bobble Stitches) ~ Here is how you do it:

Into the ring, do 1 DC as usual, but stop when you have 2 loops left on your hook.
Next, yarn over, hook through the ring, pull up another loop (4 loops on the hook), and pull through 2 loops (3 loops on hook) and then yarn over and pull through remaining 3 loops on hook.

Following this, Ch 1
DC2TOG, Ch 1*; Repeat from the * 6 more times so you have 8 DC2TOG stitches in the ring.

Join with a SS to the 3rd stitch in the first chain to finish.
Fasten off.
Your circle should look something like this, if it does and you are happy with it, count up the stitches round the edge and make sure there are 16 in total.
Join your next shade of yarn.

Into the first stitch of the ring, hook under and chain 3.

This next part is the Popcorn Stitch. If you aren't sure how to do it, here is how:

In the same stitch, DC4 (the chain counts as the first DC stitch here)

Next, pull up a loop on the last DC, and take your hook out...don't panic, this is the fun bit!

Count back 5 stitches (this should take you to the top of the first chain) and insert your hook under the stitch.

Then, push your hook through the raised loop on the last DC, and pull this through the first stitch.

This draws the stitch together, secure it with a chain stitch which will sit nicely just at the back.

(We are going to do seven more of these, to make a total of 8 popcorn stitches). So, lets just go through it one more time:

Into the next stitch, do 1DC

Into the next stitch, do 1 Popcorn = 5 DC into same stitch, pull up a loop on last stitch, hook under 1st DC stitch, collect the loop, pull through and secure with 1 chain stitch.

Repeat 6 more times until you have 8 popcorns each seperated by 1 DC.

To join, make a SS into the 3rd stitch of the very first chain you made. You will discover this has laid down a bit behind the first popcorn stitch, and may take a bit of hunting out...don't mistake it for the chain stitch you made to secure the popcorn stitch.

The picture above is a rough guide to show you where your 3rd chain stitch will be, can you see it, hidden down the bottom there where my hook is shoved through?!.

Fasten off.

And this is how your Popcorn Flower will be looking now you have fastened off!

Attach another shade of yarn.
This is the part where we start to turn it all into a granny square. Look for the chain stitch you made to secure the popcorn stitches, it will be laying just behind it and these chain stitches are what we are going to crochet into all around the flower.

Hook under the Chain Stitch (where my hook is pointing), and Ch4

Into the same stitch, 3 DC.
3 DC into next chain behind next popcorn
Ch 1
3 DC into next chain behind next popcorn, Ch 2, 3 DC into SAME chain behind same popcorn to form a corner.

This should complete your first side.

Continue your way around the flower, until you have completed the 4 sides with granny stitches. The last stitch will be 2 DC instead of 3, the first chain you made at the beginning of the round counting as the last DC stitch.
Join with a SS into the 3rd stitch of the original chain and fasten off.

We're getting there!! Its starting to look like a granny!! Hurrah!

Attach your next shade of yarn, this bit will be plain sailing for most as its literally a case of granny around as usual, starting with a Ch 4 and 3DC into the first space:

I know many of you are familiar with granny squares, but for those of you who aren't, then you are going to be crocheting into the spaces below that you created on the last round of granny stitches.

On each row you simply DC 3 into a space and follow with Ch1...and so on until you reach a corner, where you do 3 DC, Ch2, 3 DC all into the same space, and then continue as before.

When you have finished the 4 sides, you will make just 2 DC into the last space, and join with a SS into the 3rd stitch of the original chain. Fasten off and attach new yarn colour.

This is the final edging round if you want to add it (or feel free to just granny away and run off and make a blanket at this point).

Push your yarn under the first corner stitch next to your yarn, as shown in the picture.
Ch 5 (this counts as 3 + 2 = 1 DC stitch + corner)
1 DC into next stitch*; repeat from * until you reach the next corner.

Ch 2 (to make a corner)
1 DC into next stitch as shown above.
1 DC in next stitch*; repeat from * until you reach end of row, and continue until the 4 sides are completed.
SS into 3rd stitch of original chain to finish, and fasten off.

Sew in your ends...grrrrr, I don't like this bit especially, but it does make things look much better if we do it.

So, with my little edged 'PFG' squares, Im going to be making a little bag - but now, Im also tempted to begin another blanket, and perhaps you will be too!! Will you let me know if you make anything with this pattern? I hope you have fun with it, and if you get stuck, just holler and I'll do my best to try and help you. I really hope it has made sense and that I haven't missed any bits out (I've read through a couple of times so fingers crossed, it looks alright and I haven't forgotten anything).

Phew!! I feel a cuppa coming on after that!
Good luck and Happy Hooking!!

Love J x

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

New Hooky Stuff

Hello there!

I have something to share with you today, something of the Hooky Sort, something new and exciting.

I was playing about early last week, rumaging in my bag full of left over balls of Rowan pure wool yarn and wondering what I could make out of those scrumptious bright colours. Such a shame for that lovely wool to be stuffed in a bag like that and left, that just wouldn't do, not at all. So on went the thinking cap, a spot of doodling followed and then a light bulb moment presented itself. I would make a Tote Bag!! Hurrah!! A colourful, bright and cheery bag made from these pretty rainbow yarns! But before I got stuck in, I wondered if I might be able to make my own little pattern, my very own little square from which to make it. I do like a challenge, and before long I could think of nothing else. I knew what I wanted it to look like, yes that was the easy bit - but it took a few sums and much scratching of the head before it came right.

And then, much hooking ensued, much unravelling and some quiet cursing too.

But eventually, I was happy with it, and here it is; Popcorn Flower Granny is born and what do you think?!

This has made me rather happy and excited all at once, these delicious squares have a rather nice 3 dimensional quality to them, due to the plump raised nature of the popcorn stitch.

Here's another one...(as I write this I confess that the pile has grown a bit more, I'm totally besotted with these very easy grannies)...

I am working up a little stash of these, and just about to start edging them - I cannot wait to show you more as I go on.

Would you like a pattern tutorial for these Popcorn Flower Grannies?

You would?!

Fabulous. I will of course be writing one out and will share it with you lovely people here as soon as it is done. Just think what you could do with this little square ~ my goodness I'm having palpitations just imagining blankets and cushions made out of them! :D

Anyway, aside from all this, we have managed to squeeze in some more Seaside Time. This time was in South Wales while we were away visiting some family. We spent several lovely hours on two of the days down on the beach by Porthcawl, the Little One was in her element...but then, so was I. There is nothing I like more than closing my eyes at the waters edge, hearing seagulls and inhaling that wonderful Seaside Scent with the warm sun on my face. Bliss.

On Saturday evening, after a smashing meal at a country pub, we drove over to Penarth which is a little coastal resort very close to Cardiff. It was one of those perfectly warm, blue summers evenings, one that made you feel glad to be out and about. We strolled upon the beach and looked across the water to the islands of Steepholme and Flatholme. You could see the Somerset and Devon coast over on the other side of the channel too.

There is a very pretty little pier at Penarth, which reminded me a little of the one in Southwold. We had to have a mooch on it, eating an ice cream of course whilst watching the boats sailing about. It was lovely and relaxing until the Small Person in our party thought it might be fun to climb the railings... lemming impressions were not on the agenda that evening and Mummy nearly had a heart attack when she realised what was going on! The rescue mission was carried out in the nick of time with Daddy swiftly scooping the escapee up and hoisting her onto his shoulders before removing her to the safety of the pavement! Phew!! Never a dull moment!

So a nice weekend was had by all - made all the nicer by a phone call from my dear Mum to tell us they were going to whisk us away to Northumberland for a week in a cottage...oh my word, I could hardly believe my ears!! You will know how I fell in love with the place on our visit back in May, I wrote about it here - now a chance to spend 7 glorious days in Bamburgh...Oh my word, I am counting down the days already!

Anyway, before I go, I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be having a bit of a giveaway on my Facebook page once I reach 100 Likers. I'm up to 97 at the moment so perhaps with your help we could reach that magic number and some lucky soul could receive something nice from my arty stash of goodies! You can click on the link in the sidebar if you are interested.

Talking of art, I am still drawing but haven't had much time for painting of late. I'm working on some new ideas for some new work and also some new prints. As ever, I welcome all your comments and thoughts so do get in touch if you have a question or an idea about my work, or maybe even suggest some subject matter for me to paint, I sometimes get a dreaded dry spell and other people and their inspiration can be a tonic at times like these!

Thanks for visiting me today, and welcome to some new followers, it's lovely of you to drop by!

Sending love
Julia x x x

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The business of being creative


Have you been wondering where I'd got to? I have to say, the days have flown by in a whirl of late, I've had my sister and her boys visiting and my feet have hardly touched the ground...visiting parks, steam train rides, football and frisbee games, movie nights, shopping...apart from the rather cool and dreary weather we had a lovely few days together.

In the evenings, to sort of re-couperate from all this activity, and keep the creative side of my brain happy, I have been doing some Business Homework. Yes, that sounds very grand and very grown up and very formal. But no. Thanks to this amazing little book I found on Amazon, I am re-educating myself in an enormously fun and down to earth way, and actually LEARNING things as I go on (instead of yawning with boredom and shoving the book into the darkest corner of the bookshelf to gather dust).
It's called The Handmade Marketplace, and I can highly recommend it to any of you out there who is even remotely involved with the Etsy/Folksy/Online selling caper. There are so many simple tips and helpful chunks of advice I'm actually beside myself with excitement...I like learning about business all of a sudden, it's my new favourite thing to be doing!! Wheeeeeeeee!

So, I'm kind of plotting to be a bit more active with my little online emporiums. Once the Little Person has departed for her pre-school sessions, I know I am going to be needing something to fill my hours rather than just hoovering the carpets and staring bleakly at the walls 'til its time for her to come home. Being a home crafter/artist fits the bill perfectly, and all being well these empty mornings will soon be perfect opportunities to make and create lots of lovely stock for my sadly neglected little shops.

I have also solved a bit of a problem during my Business Study evenings too. And this is it:

What do you do when you enjoy lots of different creative pursuits, do you stick to one or do them all?

I'd welcome your thoughts on this, especially if you are like me and enjoy not just one creative pursuit, but several. For instance, my first loves are painting and crochet, I love them equally with a passion but did you know I also love printmaking and sewing things? I do, I just don't get much chance to do them and because I've always thought I had to travel in one direction so to speak making painting my priority, I put them on the backburner. So, I was delighted to find a kind of permission slip in my new book that says its ok to have variety, to create different things to sell if you so wish! Hurrah!! For some reason, the fact it was in black and white in a real book, made it believable enough for me to allow it.

So my little shops may be stocked with all sorts of different things...the excitement is driving me demented, I cannot wait to begin and Im having to write my ideas down in my art journal before they evaporate forever. It would seem, for once, I am on a roll of inspiration.

Talking of rolls...'s my Rainbow Ripple, all rolled up and nearly finished but for 14 rows...oh I cannot wait to complete it and snuggle up in it! I'm hoping to get it done in time for autumn, me thinks it would be a good blanket for early evenings in the garden sat by the firepit toasting marshmallows and drinking warm cider....

...but not wanting to talk about Autumn yet, it is of course just August, just look at these pretty little asters I found at my local shop the other morning!

I love their cheerful cherry red blooms in that jam jar! I do like brightening up my home with simple things like flowers and pretty pictures, which leads me to another thing to share with you all today.

For some time now, I've had several enquiries from several lovely people about a Certain Little Painting of mine and whether it will ever be a print or not. Now these lovely people have been so very patient with me, probably to the point where they were starting to wonder whether I had even listened to their request.

But I have. Of course I have, I always listen to what you have to say, it is mightily important!

And so, I'm happy to share that Daffodils & Bunting is now finally available to buy in my online gallery as a print. It comes titled and signed, presented in a nice mount and has free delivery to anybody living in the UK.

Want a peep?

There it is!

And here it is, blown up in size a bit, to give you a proper look:

And you can see it in my gallery here.

I feel very excited to be able to put new work out there for you lovely souls, and do get in touch with me if there is any other work you feel you would like to see in print, that isn't already!
I know things might be slow to appear at times, but being a Mum is my No.1 job, and that is how it should be - I am just so very grateful that I get a chance to keep bobbing along gently with my creative work, and to hear that so many of you enjoy it - I know as my Little One grows older, I will be able to reclaim more time as my own again, but for now, I think I'm happy bobbing. Yes I am. Very.

Thank you so much for stopping by, for all your kind and supportive comments - you really do keep me going some days and make it all worthwhile.

Sending you each warm sunshine, blue skies and love.

Julia x

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