Hippocampus interruptus

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I hate it when a picture’s so tricky to photograph and I cannot access the scanner, but this, in any case, is what I’ve been playing around with in the rare arty moments of the past few weeks.

Hippocampus
7 x 13″ Oil pastel & gold leaf on Colourfix paper.

House of Embossed Leaves

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I finally finished Embossed Leaves, which I keep mistakenly referring to as “House of Leaves” – the book by Mark Z. Danielewski that I was deeply into at the time of casting on six months ago.

Though the pattern is very pretty, and the closest thing I’ve ever attempted to knitting lace (“They’ve got holes, Mummy”, as my unimpressed daughter has pointed out) I’m disappointed by the obvious laddering that’s happened between the double-pointed needles. Move to circulars, maybe? I really don’t want to. For whatever reason, I have a fetish for DPNs. I am just going to have to get better at this.

Something for the weekend

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Ely was shrouded in an eerie mist when I set off last Friday for I Knit London‘s Weekender. It was the perfect chill morning to don my Alpine Frost for the very first time – a gorgeously soft scarf crocheted from one skein of luxury yarn purchased at last year’s event. By the time I set foot inside the Royal Horticultural Halls, however, I was sweltering, for the haze had given way to the most glorious sunshine, which was to continue all weekend.

And this is a glimpse of the riot of colour that greeted me.

Among the exhibitors was Anita Bruce, whose knitted and crocheted plankton and starfish, fashioned from fine wire, were laid out like specimens and had a delicate beauty.

There was much else to do see and do, but Friday for me was mostly about fondling yarn and spending money, as well as hooking up with friends from the KnitCambridge group, including Rosie, Jackie, Liz (who surprised me with a belated birthday present of three skeins of Mirasol) and the two Heathers.  I also pounced on fellow Twitterer Cat the moment she stepped into the building, startling her and doing little to convince her that I wasn’t some kind of insane stalker. 

Having declared 4pm to be wine o’clock, three of us repaired to the downstairs café for light refreshments. I have pilfered this next image from Liz, who caught me in the act of using a DPN to Twitter on my new Nokia.

I was desperate to Twitpic the day’s haul, which you can see here amidst the forest of glasses and knits in progress: one EasyKnits sushi sock roll in the “Zippy” colourway, a skein of Anna’s Palette handpainted lace yarn in subtle purples and apricots (it’s a blend of baby alpaca, silk and cashmere, soft as feathers, and probably destined to become a crochet scarf) and Cookie A’s excellent book, Sock Innovation.
 
 

After my annual visit to the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, I arrived in Trafalgar Square in time to witness a sunset, a 9/11 protest rap and a plinther doing something to a tree.

I spent the night at the Hoxton in Shoreditch, a hotel so trendy it’s not even a hotel, but an “urban lodge”. The whole place made me feel old and unhip, but I loved it. My room was large and comfortable, with simple décor and the cleanest, shiniest black-tiled bathroom I’ve ever seen.

Breakfast was a very fine full English, washed down with a mug of tea at Islington’s The Elk in the Woods with Jo & Anna, after which the three of us took a lovely long bus ride through the city, down to Victoria for day 2 of the I Knit show. My afternoon was then taken up with a workshop by self-professed “mad hatter” Woolly Wormhead, who spent three hours teaching us how to design and knit a custom hat: taking measurements, finding stitch patterns that would work with our size and gauge, and contrasting approaches to different hat styles (beanie, beret and chullo). I had wrongly imagined that knitting on circs using the magic loop technique would be not unlike working in the round on DPNs. Having found out the hard way that this wasn’t the case, my learning curve became ridiculously steep, but thanks to the kind lady sitting next to me, whose name was Karen, I started to get to grips with my circular needle, even if I didn’t have much of a hat to show for it by the end of the afternoon. I learnt tons over those three hours, and the knowledge is stuff I can apply not just to future hat projects but to my knitting in general. I do suspect, though, that my learning was taking place on a much lower level than that of everyone else in the room.

The weekend left me shattered, but excited about the possibilities for developing my knitting skills over the autumn and winter months. They also kick-started progress with my second Embossed Leaves sock, and I hope to have the pair finished and blogged by the end of September. Something for the weekend, indeed, but enough yarn and inspiration to keep me going for a full 12 months until I can do the I Knit Weekender all over again …

Honoured

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My painting “Portrait of M” has earned an Honorable Mention in the Associate Category of the Oil Pastel Society’s 2009 members’ show, entitled Transformation. I only found out a few minutes ago, and am bouncing round like a mad thing!

To the judge, Wendell Dennis, and to the Oil Pastel Society: THANK YOU.

Now she is three

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Life has been too busy for artmaking this past week or so. It’s not that I couldn’t have made the time for an evening painting session, or opened my sketchbook one lunchtime: simply that my little girl turned 3, and we threw a birthday party for her, and this somehow ended up consuming every bit of my physical, mental and emotional energy.

There was facepainting at the party, though. After sitting patiently for the duration of my flower-painting, suddenly she grabbed the paintbrush and daubed her other cheek, first with tentative streaks of red, orange and yellow, then more heavily with her favourite colour: black … It’s only just glimpseable here, but in its full glory, that big black smudge gave her the appearance of a chimney sweep. We all laughed (we couldn’t not), but M was extremely pleased with her handiwork.

I’m never overly fussy about mess, particularly when there’s painting involved, and yet it was hard for me to relinquish that brush and allow her to make the marks, however messy, that she wanted to make: to allow her to smear up the paint pans, to “do it wrong” – but so rewarding to see that impish smile as she admired the results of her creativity. It feels as though, in a very real way, my daughter is a Big Girl now (though her own feelings about the business of suddenly aging by one whole number have veered wildly from total, stubborn denial to huge enthusiasm and back again) and it’s a bumpy ride as we negotiate a path towards the ever-greater independence that life will ask of her. Whatever the challenges, she’s such a spirited, vibrant and funny little girl. I think we’re going to be doing some pretty cool artmaking together … and I know which of us will be calling the creative shots.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.