Inspired by Prudence Mapstone‘s website, I ordered her book Freeform: Serendipitous Design Techniques for Knitting & Crochet, and have begun a new project for which I have no pattern and no real clue as to how I intend to proceed. But hey, it’s all good!

I do know that purple will be the dominant colour, with blue, green and yellow featuring too. To this end, my very mixed bag of yarn is stuffed with quality leftovers from previous projects, unidentified yarns jackdawed from my mother’s stash, and various £1 balls of novelty silliness.

I am also pretty certain that my interest lies in using freeform to make art pieces such as wall hangings, rather than clothing of any kind. Though many of the freeform garments I’ve seen by Mapstone and others are impressive, they’re really not my thing.

The sea creature or blob of mould above the title of the book is my embryonic freeform crochet piece …

EDM #54: Not so much a sketch …


… as a three-and-a-half-hour experiment. I had never attempted a portrait in oil pastels, and wanted to try one using a limited palette of four shades, similar to those which have worked well for me in several soft-pastel portraits.

I built up the image on warm-tinted Ingres paper in Neocolor II (wax pastels) and Neopastel (oil pastels), blending with fingers and kitchen towels. It’s about 8×5″. The highlights have scanned rather harshly, and I can see a couple of details I may be tempted to tweak; but I can’t help but be happy to see that little face on the page.

This is EDM Challenge #54: Draw someone you love.

My little girl.


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On Saturday I headed down to London for the first ever UK Stitch ‘n Bitch Day, starring Debbie Stoller and organised by I Knit London.

It was also my first knit & crochet show, and I spent a little while feeling out of my depth among the more experienced yarn-fondlers cramming the main hall; but the atmosphere was enthusiastic and welcoming, and extremely conducive to knitting.

When one has all day to relax and browse what’s on offer, there is no real excuse for impulse purchases, and I was restrained enough not to come home with the pink ivory hook, crochet wrap, blue-green silk yarn, book on freeform crochet/knitting and various sock patterns I’d been eyeing. I opted instead for a set of 2.75mm rosewood SoxStix from Purlescence, which I put to work straight away, casting on for a pair of trainer socks, using the leftover Meilenweit Cotton Spirit I’d packed for the occasion. I was surprised to find that these needles aren’t at all slippery, but I’ve quickly come to love the feel of them, as my stitches no longer go sailing off the ends – and their short length makes a sock project ultra-portable.

Lunch and a G&T later, I bumped into a fellow member of the KnitCambridge group, who I haven’t seen for months. It was delightful to catch up with her, compare notes on the progress of our young daughters, and receive her invaluable help with my nascent sock disasters. Here’s Chika, also in sock-knitting mode …

Here’s my sock, not much progressed …

… and here am I.

My other purchase was, unsurprisingly, Debbie Stoller’s Son of Stitch ‘n Bitch. Debbie sat down – at OUR table, hurrah! – to sign copies of her book for a queue of knitters, so Chika and I got ours signed and then took part in the SnB group photo (see Flickr) before catching the train home together – still knitting.

Good things come to those who …

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… are too forgetful and disorganised to realise they’re waiting.

On Friday, I returned home from a trip into town to purchase new socks. I specifically wanted green socks, so I’d chosen the only pack in the shop which, in addition to green, included assorted colours I’d be likely to wear. Exhibit A:

A parcel had been delivered while I was out, and when I unwrapped the fuschia tissue paper I was astonished to find two skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi in the gorgeous “Desert Flower”. It took a couple of reads through the receipt before I even remembered I had ever seen the colourway before, and realised this was an order I mistakenly thought I’d cancelled four months ago. Exhibit B:

Bearing in mind the timing – and the fact that I have never, as far as I can recall, purchased either a single item or a pack of anything in which these colours have found themselves together – I thought this was all pretty eerie.

Paul smiled. “Could it not just be that they’re colours you like?” he asked.

It’s only me who’s hearing the Twilight Zone theme, then.

Blue day, in a good way


It’s been chilly today, here on the Isle of Eels.

As my little girl slept in her pushchair beneath several snuggly layers of clothing and blanket, and I sat shivering on a bench, I did this sketch. My hands turned almost as blue as the Khadi handmade paper I had glued into my sketchbook for inspiration.

3×4″ black Profipen on Khadi cotton rag paper in small hand*book journal.

Chanson d’automne


Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur

~ Paul Verlaine

Since the summer completely passed me by art-wise, I’ve been determined to put something of the autumn into my sketchblog. This has been a good week, and for once I can’t honestly say I share Verlaine’s seasonal wistfulness, because so many paths and possibilities are opening themselves up to me that I feel excited to be alive. My autumn song is a cheerful one.

It’s been 16 months since I last picked up a soft pastel stick, and I am sorely out of practice, but it felt good to limber up again. I did this 50-minute sketch from one of my Cambridge photos: it’s Rembrandts on Wallis paper, about 9×6″, and was done sitting in the few square inches of free floor space remaining in what we laughingly refer to as the “Leisure Room”. I’m not thrilled with this sketch, but I’m thrilled with the doing of it. And for the moment, that’s what really matters.