Kalo taxidi


… or as we say in English, er, “bon voyage”.

For the next two weeks I will be internetless in the Ionian Isles, in a place I love but haven’t revisited for a decade. I hope to have at least a few small sketches to share with you on my return.

In the meantime, I have finally decided how to make use of my square-format hand*book journal, which has sat in a lonely drawer for a year and a half. On reading yesterday that the meditative doodles known as “zentangles” tend to be 3.5″ x 3.5″, I dug out that little blue book and produced my first zentanglish drawing as I sat thinking about the fortnight to come.

“Kalo taxidi”
Pilot pen in square hand*book journal
It very much resembles the kind of pen doodling I used to do loads of, years ago, but it’s more structured, more contained – and it was wonderfully absorbing. I have another pleasurable journey ahead of me, it seems.



I’m enjoying my experiments with different media in the small format of the Artist Trading Card. (Link included for those of you who’ve confessed you had not a clue what I was on about in previous entries!)

ATC Original: “Sacred Geometry”
3.5 x 2.5″
Gold leaf, watersoluble wax pastel, pen & spray varnish on cardstock

This one’s for a fellow member of the ATC exchange organized by Amy of the Creative Mom Podcast, in response to the September prompt: “Pattern”. I go all tingly at the idea of underlying patterns in nature, as in art. Though the mathematical accuracy of my own golden spiral would fail to withstand even a casual glance, I’m happy with the finished piece. Just hope the recipient is too!

Let’s get small

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I have entered the realm of the Artist Trading Card. Terrific fun!

“Como el Ave Fénix, renacemos de nuestras cenizas …”
(Like the Phoenix, we are reborn from our ashes)
ATC Original: “PHOENIX”
2.5 x 3.5″ (click on the image for a much-enlarged view)
Poster paint, gold leaf, watersoluble wax pastel & pen on cardstock

Oh ma boteh, ma divine …


Two days on, I am still suffering the aftereffects of Too Much Fun on Friday night, but the party/exhibition/gig at the Ada Street Gallery in London was soooo very worth it!

As I’d decided I would present Beee with her Boteh Scarf that evening, I spent the train journey to King’s Cross crocheting like a mad thing to finish the edging, then fastened in the yarn ends in a small hotel room in Bethnal Green, where I hurriedly draped the curtain across a chair as a backdrop for this photo – with just half an hour to go before the party.

I used a 3.0mm hook and 1.5 skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in the “Desert Orchid” colourway. I find a sweet symmetry in having both started and finished the scarf on trips to London for events celebrating Anno’s Africa.

Breakfast with … me!


Miranda from the blog community Creative Construction: Life & Art was kind enough to approach me for an interview about juggling creativity with motherhood.
The article, Breakfast with Emma-Jane, is up today!



Just when I thought those little hands (not to mention the chair, my trousers and the kitchen table) couldn’t possibly get any messier, M developed her own vigorous approach to colour mixing …

The cleanup time was considerable, but worth it for that full hour when she was happily involved in making handprints (my own role, as artist’s assistant, being to replenish the yoghurt pots with new colours and shove fresh paper under her hands at the command of “More!”) and I was able, at the same time, to make a satisfying mess of my own. Using my watercolours and M’s poster paints, I made some little prints using plasticine, rubber stamps, and string glued to card.

They don’t look like much at this stage, but they are destined to become ATCs. My first ATCs.

I knit, you knit, we all scream for I Knit


The long-anticipated I Knit Day 060908 has been and gone, and three days on I haven’t shared any incoherent blather about it here. ‘Til now!

I was a knitting-show virgin when I attended last year’s Stitch ‘n Bitch event, the first show put on by Gerard and Craig of I Knit London. This time, I’d arranged to travel down by train to London with members of the Cambridge (and Ely) ktog: Liz, Rosie, Anne, Sue, Mary and Deb. There were delays to our trains both there and back, but having packed our “emergency knitting” (and anyone lucky enough to have been in the Yarn Harlot’s audience will know the impracticality of such a thing!) we were at least happily occupied chatting and knitting – or, in the case of three of us, crocheting. Liz also presented me with 2 skeins of gorgeous sock yarn from Indie Dyer, which I journalled yesterday: click on the image to largify if you wish to know the conditions I work in to bring you even scant sketchbook content these days!

Pen & coloured pencil in Canson watercolour sketchbook
The Royal Horticultural Halls were fairly buzzing with people I recognized from last year’s event, and with sparkly celebs of the yarn world such as Sasha Kagan, Erika Knight (whose Ribbed Shrug from Glamour I’m currently knitting) and “Rebel Knitter” Mazzmatazz. Not least, there was Jane Waller with her gorgeous 1940s collection, which totally transformed my perception of women’s fashions of that era when I heard her speak at last year’s I Knit Day.

The star of the show, however, was the famed Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a ticket for whose sold-out talk in the Lindley Hall I’d snagged nice and early (another reason to thank Liz). As I’m only an occasional reader of the ‘Harlot, I really had few expectations of her before she stepped out on the podium: I think what I anticipated was something opinionated and witty and mildly entertaining. She gave us so much more than that!

I found her immensely engaging: funny, smart, articulate, composed, funny, compassionate, inspirational, funny and fascinating – and did I mention the woman is seriously funny? She took us on a tour through subjects ranging from Einstein, through theories of alpha, beta and theta states of mind to the outrageous price of Rowan in Canada, the laughable conclusions made by a potentially valuable Cambridge study into “repetitive visual-spatial tasks”, the perils of being a writer in the niche market of knitting humour, how yarn crafts might help to prevent Alzheimer’s, and the comments – at once hilarious and deeply offensive – made by strangers to those who knit in public. I came out of that hall feeling uplifted and empowered – and frankly, those are words I would never normally be caught using. I’ll stop short of saying the experience was life affirming. (Even though, ahem. It was.)

Here are Liz and Anne meeting Yarn Harlot (or should that be the other way round? It seems Stephanie knew who Liz was! And these two have now found fame among the photos Stephanie has posted to her blog).

I’ve gone a bit pretentiously for a “reportage” feel with the black & white pics. Here’s one showing SP-McP in glorious (coordinated) colour.

The Knitpickers sock bag I purchased was put to immediate use, holding a ball of Liz’s hand-dyed yarn and some dpn’s I’d brought with me …

Thus, I was able to continue in style my destined-to-become-a-tradition of casting on for a pair of socks while at the event. And since, by my reasoning, a space-saving solution such as this does not fall into the category of “materials”, it cannot be considered an indulgence and therefore doesn’t really count as an expense; happily, this meant I was able to splash out guilt free on a skein of Seriously Gorgeous (and believe me, it is) cashmere/silk – some of the softest stuff I’ve ever had the pleasure of fondling. I plan to use it in an attempt to knit a lace project (gulp), in the form of a small shawl to be worn at the next I Knit Day …

Finally, this is part of Alison Murray’s Gingerbread House, a huge, eccentric, delightful knitting project undertaken for charity.

The day ended with more delayed trains – not entirely a bad thing, since it gave Liz and me time to enjoy an extra G&T, and led to us bumping into Susie, with whom we chatted (and whose fabulous shawl I oohed and ahhed over) on the journey home.

In and out of progress

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My daughter’s hands: a sketch in very slow progress. Oil pastel on Daler Murano paper.

Since reaching the ripe old age of 2, little M has decided that afternoon naps are for wimps, and that what she really wants to be doing during that time is running, shouting, climbing, opening and closing cupboards, dancing and singing to The Jungle Book – or a crazy multitasking feat involving all of the above, plus snacks. As I mourn that lost hour of 2-3pm, I’m wondering how I will adapt to life without it, especially now that work is beginning to spill over into my evening time. But hey. I’ll figure it out.

Yesterday I was in London for the second annual “I Knit Day”, the highlight of which was a talk by the fabulous Yarn Harlot. I owe the day a blog entry, but it will have to wait a while.