Thursday, 30 September 2010

It's not a crocheted bag then...

'The Lantern Keeper'

Well Hello!
I'm so glad you dropped by to visit me today, you see, I have something nice to share with you, of both the painty~arty kind (as you will no doubt have already sussed from the picture above) and something that resembles a woolly kind of Ta~Dah moment.

But first, about this painting.
At this point you may well be wondering, yes but where is the other one, the one with the turquoise blue sea, the stripy jug of big daisies, the red and white polka dot cup...?
Ah yes. That one.

My friends, that particular painting and I have had another altercation. It is a relationship that will run its course until the picture is finished, but its a bit like getting involved with someone who's the wrong star sign. I keep falling out of love with it, and then back in again - and you know me, I don't like to rush things and ruin them, so me and the Painting have agreed on a temporary separation, and we will meet up again once I have got over feeling like I would like to hurl it out of the window.

So, I have been busy on an illustrative painting called 'The Lantern Keeper.' The idea came to me the other day as I was imagining a little chap of the forest (as you do), who went around in the starry twilight making sure all of God's creatures were safe and secure in their cosy little homes and beds...and this painting emerged, the Lantern Keeper carefully carrying a small blue butterfly back to its folks in the meadow...

...and this is a line and wash drawing I did of him ~ listening intently there to a little songbird up in the branches of a tree.

It does feel like some time since I did any illustrative work like this. I know you might think that most of my work is illustrative (and yes, I suppose it is as its all very much from my imagination) but my recent paintings have been landscapes of the seaside and boaty kind.

Painting this was lovely, I so enjoy character work and now my Little Egg is in her nursery sessions, it looks like my horizon is going to be dotted with extra hours here and there to invest in more art! Hurrah!! Yes, I'm delighted, but I cannot lie ~ Little Egg doesn't like nursery. No. Not a jot. Suffice to say, it is an emotional and often difficult time and I know many of you Mum's reading this will know exactly what I'm on about. Still, we are making slow progress, and that in itself is a blessing.


What was I saying before about a woolly sort of 'Ta-Dah' moment...hee hee?!!
Ah yes. Well, remember those Popcorn Flower Grannies I made some time back? Yes? Good.
Do you remember how I was going to make them into a bag? Yes?

Well I didn't.

Isn't that just like me? I must confess, I had a couple of really quite nice ideas for a bag, but on Saturday I went to York and somehow a new flowery velvet CK messenger bag came home with me (how that happened I have no idea) so I decided to put Plan B into action with those little squares the other night, and look what I made instead!

Ladies (and Gentlemen, if indeed there are any of you reading this) ~ The Popcorn Flower Granny Cushion!!

I confess, I am utterly in love with it.
I also crocheted a nice little buttony edge onto it, as well as using a huge granny square I'd made ages ago to make the back part of the cushion.

Would you like to see it with all its brothers and sisters?

Ahhh, alright then :D

Of course there is only room for one person to sit down on our sofa now, but hey-ho! Can you see my Rainbow Ripple on there too? It's not finished yet (not far to go with it) but I couldn't resist road testing it with all the other cushions and blankets for this picture. I admit I went ever so slightly delirious at all the colourful hooky goodness in front of me just then! I had to sit down! And it suddenly popped into my head as I sat amongst all that crochet that I'd promised to show you how to join those colourful squares. Well, I will endeavour to do a wee tutorial for you in the next few weeks, so that you can make your own bags, cushions and blankets from your Popcorn Grannies.

Would that be fun?
I have to say here and now in case any of you are wondering about a pattern for that cushion, is that I didn't really make one. It was a bit like the bolster in that it kind of happened of its own accord, although I could probably create a pattern if enough of you were interested, at least a rough guide to making your very own Popcorn Cushion.

So, with that, I will get on with some more drawing.
I have to say very quietly at this point that I am going to be launching some limited edition hand illustrated Christmas Cards very soon (see how I whispered that so you wouldn't get cross with me for saying it in September?). They will be up for grabs first to my dear Mailing List subscribers ~ that is one of the nice treats that those dear souls get from signing up you see, so if you would like to be amongst the first to see them and indeed get your hands on them, why not sign up for my little e-newsletter here?!

I hope you all have warm weekends, sprinkled with crisp autumn walks and cosy moments!

Much love
Julia x x x

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Toasty Mitts

Morning folks!

As promised, today is Free Tutorial day, for a pair of cosy arm warmers.
For those of you who don't want to read all the pattern bumf, you can scroll down for a scoop of other news at the end :D
My pattern is written using USA terminology so for those who usually follow UK, I hope you can convert it easily. Only the basic stitches are used, SS (slip stitch) SC (single crochet) and DC (double crochet).

I used Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK wool in three shades, on a Number 4 hook to make my warmers, and here's how you can make yours!

'Toasty Mitts' Arm Warmers Pattern

First of all, measure your forearm roughly half way up. Mine measured 24cm and you will need to keep a note of this so that you can create a cuff that fits snug (without being too loose) to this length.

Make Your Cuff: Chain 10 + 1 (11)

Push your hook under the 2nd Ch from the hook and single crochet into each stitch along the row until you reach the end (this is a fiddly bit, yes).

Ch 1 for turning chain, and turn your crochet around to work the next row.

On this row, you are going to crochet a SC into the BACK LOOP of the stitch only.

Here is my hook, going under the back loop to show you:

Do a SC into the back loop of each remaining stitch on the row.
Ch 1, turn your work and continue, SC into the back loop of each stitch.

As your rows grow, you will notice a pretty rib pattern emerging:

When you have crocheted enough rows to meet your arm measurement, you need to join the cuff to form a ring.
Turn your crochet work around so that the rows are vertical when you look at them, and push your hook into the topmost corner stitch at the other end of your crochet work to form a ring:

Join with a SS.

Next, we are going to work around the long edge of the cuff with DC stitches.
These need to be evenly spaced, and if you study your work you will see a space at the top of each rib indentation, and a stitch roughly at the top of each rib protrusion (if that makes sense, oh I hope it does!)

First of all, push your hook under the first stitch on the cuff...

...and Ch3...

DC into the next stitch:
Continue around the long edge of the cuff, until you reach the end of your piece.
(here the hook is showing you roughly where to be looking for your stitch to DC into).

When you reach the last stitch space, DC into it and then join with a SS to the 3rd Ch of the first chain you made.
Fasten off, and tie/add another colour.

Hook under 1st stitch, Ch3, then DC around the row, SS to join into 3rd stitch of first Chain.
(it may be a good idea to have a stitch count, to make sure you are keeping each row the same length).

Work this way until you have approximately 14 rows (feel free to add more if you want them longer though).

Now its time to make the thumb holes:

Now this is where the arm warmers differ slightly, and is the only difference in the pattern that you need to take note of. To keep the seam running inside the glove (ie, palm side) we do our thumb holes in different places on the two gloves.

Hook under 1st stitch, Ch3 and DC around.
When you have 7 stitches left at the end of the row, it is time to create your first thumb hole.
Do 1DC (6 stitches left)
CH 4
Count (and miss out) 4 stitches and DC into the 5th stitch.
DC into the 6th stitch and SS to join to the 3rd stitch of the first chain.

Fasten off, tie in your new colour and as before, hook under 1st stitch, Ch3, then DC all the way around, simply DC into the 4 Chain stitches you used to make the top of the thumb hole as normal.

Hook under 1st stitch, Ch 3 and do 1 DC into next 2 stitches.
Count 4 stitches and Chain 4, DC into the 5th stitch and carry on with 1DC in each stitch until you have completed the round.

Fasten off, tie in your new colour and carry on, as before.

You will need to crochet 3 or 4 more rounds of DC, depending on where you want the arm warmer to finish on your hand. To finish the arm warmer, the last two rows are both SC done into the BACK LOOP of each stitch:

*Attach new colour wool.
Hook under 1st stitch, Ch1
SC into BACK LOOP of each stitch to complete round.
SS to join into the 1st chain you made, fasten off.
Repeat from * for the second round.

You will now need to join together the edges of your cuff - there are a couple of ways to do it:
Turn your arm warmer inside out. You can simply sew the two edges together with the same colour wool, or you can SC them.
To SC the edges, hold the two edges together and push your hook through the two outside loops of each stitch. SC down the edges until you reach the end, finish off.

All that remains to do now is that nasty job of sewing in all the ends - just turn your arm warmers inside out, get a big pile of biscuits and a cuppa (always helps at these crucial mundane moments to have something nice to take our minds off it I think) and get busy.

By now I hope you are posing in your new Arm Warmers and making Happy Noises :D
I also hope the pattern has made sense - I really do, please holler if there are any bits you don't understand or you don't think Ive explained very well, I will email you back with some help.


I don't want to turn this post into War & Peace, so I will just quickly tell you about two other bits of news before I go - the first is very nice - two very kind and thoughtful fellow Bloggers have given my little blog an award! Yes, Two of them!! I couldn't get my hat on to be honest and feel very pleased at being chosen.
This one was given to me by Jessie
...and this one was given to me by Hilde at Quilts & Boxes

Thank you both so much!

I know I'm meant to distribute these awards, but you know me of old - I can't choose to save my life, there are way too many good Blogs to pick from - so I invite each of you, my dear readers, to please take a wee award for yourselves, you each deserve it for stopping by and reading my waffling...I trust you're still haven't gone have you? (although by this point I wouldn't blame you, it's been a lengthy tome hasn't it, what with that pattern!)

I will also endeavour to share some vital bits and pieces with you on my next post, as the rules do state you have to reveal things about yourself...but I think I've gone on quite long enough today!

Although there is one last thing before I go...

I have a new print for you - it's called Bear Hug, and it is a picture with some special meaning for me at the moment. Right now, my Little Egg is experiencing her first taste of nursery...we're off to a shaky start, and this picture is helping to remind her how loved she is, and to reassure her that Mummy will always be there.

I am popping it in my Print Gallery and in my Folksy and Etsy shops (links above), it might just make a lovely wee gift for someone and it costs just £14.00 with free P&P in the UK, and a small shipping charge for overseas.

If you are still reading at this point, can I just say 'Thank You' - and also 'Welcome' to some new followers, its nice of you to drop by!

Have a glowing weekend, sending you steaming mugs of hot tea, apple pie and clotted cream, and a golden September sunset...

Love Julia x x x

Friday, 17 September 2010

Getting There...

Hello again!

I hope your afternoon is sunny and mild like ours - although I do feel a definate autumnal wistfulness in the air and I've baked something for the first time in weeks - an apple tarte tatin (I seem to succumb to these gorgeous puddings at this time of year). It's cooking in the oven as I write and the syrupy fragrance of those caramelised apples is sending me half demented! :D

Well, as I shared on my last post, the painting is...lets say...getting there.
It is, its a slow one though. There is much musing and deliberating, I am wanting to get it just right you see and over time I have learnt to leave things alone when needs be. Sometimes Time is all it needs to solve a hiccup.

I have chosen some jaunty blue, very cornish inspired stripes for my jug (which is still only half finished - few more layers necessary before Im happy with it yet!)- I can also tell you there are some smooth pebbles and a pretty cup as well as something edible on the sill, and I'll share pictures of those bits with you next time.

I have to confess to missing the sea these last couple of days. I miss the sound of it, the smell of it and just physically being by it. I miss the changing colours of the sea and its many moods of wild and invigorating, to calm and relaxing.

I'm also missing Inspiring Beach Walks, when you find things like this:

Just look at the absolutely wonderous shade of turquoise there! And how the paint has worn away in parts, revealing the colours underneath and the sea soaked bare wood...

I love discovering things like this, they make my heart leap and sing with delight - the colours just beg to be put down on canvas...

And so today, I am consoling myself with these pictures, Iris Murdoch's 'The Sea, The Sea' (a fabulous read) and a soul warming tart...

...shimmering crystal seas...

...and memories of really being there, adventuring and discovering...

To cheer myself up a tad and before I cave in entirely to this wistful feeling, I am going to share a little crochet reveal with you all.
Do you remember the photograph of the piece of crochet on my last post? Of course!! Well, I am pleased to share my very toasty and cosy arm warmers with you, and here they are!

What do you think?! I do hope you like them! I am planning to do a tutorial for you next week, so you can have a go at making your own. These were made in the holiday cottage during the evenings and I think the pattern is fairly simple so most people, even beginners will be able to give them a whirl.
The nice thing about them is that you can wear them stretched all the way up your arm (they come to almost my elbow) or scrunch the cuff down a bit and wear them nearer the wrist.

So, if you would like to know how to make your very own pair, come and visit me next week when I will post a free tutorial for you!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend ~ sending love
Julia x x x

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A Northern Affair


How are you? I'm glad you've dropped in, it's so nice to be back and I'm going to tell you a bit about what I've been up includes some crochet news too, but bear with me whilst I share some pics of my holiday to Northumberland with you...

Last week was spent in a little house in Bamburgh, tucked up a small sandy lane which was just across the road from the dunes. The roar of the sea was a constant and delightful presence and I must confess to feeling quite bereft of it now I'm home.

You may remember my first visit to this beautiful part of our world in May, when I fell completely in love with this wild and remote coast. And it was certainly wild last week...

After a torrential downpour and strong winds, the sea was in a fine frenzy and we stood watching the enormous waves in Craster for ages, drenched in salty spray and loving every minute of it!

It was such a heavy and powerful tide, it turned the foamy waves to thick cream which surged into a rocky gorge!

Late afternoon in Seahouses, and a weak September sun peered cautiously through stormy grey clouds, illuminating for a brief moment the lighthouse on Inner Farne.

I have to confess I am drawn to islands and lighthouses. They are beautifully distant and lonely, yet welcoming all at once. I like to watch silent waves crashing onto the faraway cliffs before sinking back into the surging navy black sea again.

I am also drawn to the birds of this coast, we were spoilt with close ups of oyster catchers, arctic terns, sandpipers and redshanks. Although we hoped to visit the Farne Islands, the sea remained unsettled most of the week and the captain of one of the boat trips refused to set sail despite tickets being sold at the little harbour office. He told us he had been a sailor for 45 years and it was too dangerous to take people out. So we didn't get to visit this time, and they remain enchanting and elusive to us...til next time (yes, there will definately be a next time).

By friday afternoon, we were enjoying almost hot sunshine again, and gentle calm seas...

I made use of my little Moleskine to make lots of notes, and a few sketches whilst sitting on the beach...

...and I also made something else. With wool.

I'm sorry to tell you its not a Ta-Dah reveal of the long awaited Popcorn Granny Bag...I naughtily took some New Wool away with me and rustled up something rather exciting during the evenings. Here's a sneaky little peek at what I made:

I'm sure most of you will have an inkling what it might be already, and I will be sharing a pattern and a proper reveal to you very soon.

Now I'm back (and no plans to depart anywhere else for a while) I am looking forward to travelling around blog land and revisiting you all for a good catch up!
For now, a cup of tea is on the cards and a nice heap of biscuits - my Little Egg started her nursery class this morning, and although it was a very positive start (no tears, tantrums or clinging to ankles screaming etc) I am just starting to realise what a momentous thing it all was! So I'm off for a bit of quiet time with a nice new mag to read!

Oooh by the way, I'm having a Giveaway on my Facebook page as I have reached (and amazingly passed) 200 Likers! If you would like to join in the fun I'm announcing the Giveaway on Thursday (16th September) and will draw a winner a week later. All you have to do to take part is 'Like' my page and then pop by tomorrow, or sometime during the following week, to take part!

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for my Mailing List so far - I've been overwhelmed by all the interest and am looking at sending out my second newsletter within the next week or two.
If you haven't signed up yet and would like to, you can click here to find out more! :D

Righty-ho! Im off to have that cuppa - I'll be posting again soon with some pictures of my current painting which I'm most excited about!

Thanks for dropping by, you are always so very welcome to be here!

Love Julia x x x

Thursday, 2 September 2010

A Happy Morning


How are you? Is the sun shining where you are? I do hope you're well and it's so nice of you to drop in and see me today! :)

I've had a very happy morning painting, I'm on with the one I told you about last week, still nameless but I'm sure something will come to me in time! Anyway, it's going well, and having totally altered the bottom half of the picture, I am now feeling that familiar excitement of it all coming right and feel jolly glad that I didn't bin it during the bad mood all those months ago.

I like to share my painting journeys with you, and not just show you the Ta-Dah result at the end. I like to show you and tell you about the cock ups and the bits I painted over, I want you to understand that painting is a very nitty gritty journey indeed, and although sometimes it makes your heart soar with joy, at other times it is damn frustrating!!

But I still love it. :D

Sitting at my table easel, with the sunshine streaming in through the window to my left, listening to Take That's greatest hits (yes, I know, I can't help myself sometimes) and singing along (no, I can't help doing that either) I progressed in a leisurely manner for 5 hours, stopping midway for a little sandwich out the garden and a natter with my sister. Bliss.

It's nowhere near completion, but it's starting to resemble something along the lines of what I was dreaming of, here's another little chunk of it for you to see:

That jug of cheery marguerites are sending me quite dizzy with happiness, I think its the zingy white and yellow on a bright turquoise background that does it, but it's such a lovely corner of the painting I think! I will share more pictures of it as it unfolds over the next few weeks. This may sound like an age, but you know how it is when a Small Person dwells in your home, you just have to snatch moments when they're not about to do grown up things like this and those moments are few and far between right now.

Although not for much longer, as the wee person starts her pre-school sessions in a fortnight and Mummy will be home alone for a couple of mornings a week (and once I've got over the shock of an empty house and my girl being 3 and therefore quite big and old enough for little school, I shall paint and crochet alot more! Hurrah!!!)

Something else I'm doing which I'm going demented with excitement about, is this:

The Sketchbook Project is something I stumbled upon recently and involves a heck of a lot of people from across the world filling up a Sketchbook with a Theme, mailing it off to The Brooklyn Arts Centre in New York where it will begin a tour of the USA before taking up permanent residence in the Arts Centre. I've chosen my theme and I'm waiting on my Moleskine Sketchbook to arrive so I can begin. I've got approximately 4 months to fill it and I plan to share bits of it here with you along the way. I'm excited to see where this takes me, creatively speaking - the whole nature of it reminds me of exercises we were set at Uni (a long time ago) and I always enjoyed being given a project with direction by someone else. This fits the bill, it's really going to make me think, and exercise the old grey matter!

If you are interested in taking part, you can find out more at their website by clicking on the link above.

My last arty bit of news today is rather fun and also very exciting too. For some time I've been planning to create an E-Newsletter to send out to you lovely souls who enjoy what I do, and I am so happy to be able to tell you that its now up and running!
You may think, ok, so what's the difference between getting a newsletter in my inbox and reading your blog? Isn't it all going to be the same kind of thing?
Well that's a good question dear souls!! And here is what you will receive if you join my Mailing List:

Art & Crochet project updates - current news of what I'm working on and what I'm doing that won't necessarily feature on my blog.

Absolutely and completely exclusive offers and deals on my original art, prints and cards that you will not find anywhere else online - and that is a promise!

Free stuff - yes, that's right! Lovely free stuff like fine art cards, and other bits and bobs which you will not get anywhere else. Promise. Scouts honour etc, etc.

So what do you think? Sound good to you?

It's easy to subscribe and you can do it by clicking here or by clicking on the Mailing List logo in the sidebar up there on the right.
I also promise not to bore you by bamboozling your inbox with 100's of emails - they will be sent out on a happily random sort of basis, and of course if you ever decide you don't want to receive them anymore then you can very easily unsubscribe, no problemo!

Now then, with the remainder of the afternoon ahead of me minus child, I am going to tackle that crocheted bag. I haven't forgotten that I've promised you a wee tutorial on how to join those Popcorn Grannies, but I had me one of those moments the other night when I suddenly thought 'OOH! I could make this in a Totally New Way'
Which is good, but sort of scuppers me a bit as I'm then all up in the air as to which is the best way to continue...

As soon as this problem has been solved and a decision made, I will share more pictures and a tutorial here with you - I promise not to forget! :)

'til next time, I hope September is a happy warm month for each of you - thanks for visiting today, and also, welcome to some new followers!

Mucho love to you,
J x

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