The Potential Possum and the Mostly Moon (as featured on Let’s Knit)

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Up until now:

The majority of my pieces are colourful narratives – bright, shiny and cheerful. They depict wonderful beginnings, beautiful middles and happy endings.

my textile work

My drawing, on the other hand, tends towards the opposite.

my illustration

Perhaps it has something to do with the tradition of the craft and how I see it: gainfull employment for hands that would be idle. It reminds me of classic novels and of women who were well-behaved. It is passive and quiet, undeniably elegant. It has no room for rage or despair; for the mess of external expression.

how I see the craft

Or maybe it’s because it was my grandmother who taught me and I see her as this shining light, someone who always managed to put a positive spin on things? Perhaps I am scared to taint her memory and infect her gift?

my grandmother

Or it could be that I am attached to the concept that we traditionally knit items to wear or use and embroider things to decorate and gift?

In trying to turn something ‘crafty’ into something ‘arty’, I am changing the rules and I think this attempted remodelling is where I have become tangled up. So this project is all about letting go.

Instead of having a vague idea of a theme for a piece, I shall clear my mind and work without attachment to direction or outcome, allowing my inner guide and my outer muse (the below-featured chihuahua) to steer the journey.


Something new:

Having decided to try my hand at something new, I decided it was only right that I use a new ball of wool and a new colour; that way everything would be different – the background, the method, the colouring. Worst case scenario, should I mess up entirely, I would simply fail to swim. And from the bottom of the pool, lake or ocean, I could float my way back up, either unpicking and correcting in order to continue or starting over afresh.

Sidar Snuggly Baby Crofter – Winnie (178)

I elect to make a plain square and begin by casting on 40 stitches. The purpose here was for the tension square to serve as a pseudo-type therapist; an entity both strong enough and reliable enough to accommodate my emotions, thereby enabling me space to temporarily switch off from all catastrophizing about the future in order to sit still and silent within the present. It kind of works.

40 stitches x 22 rows

Having completed my square, I am then ready to move on to the frame. This will serve to ground the square visually. It will also catch and hold straight the edges, which would otherwise curl. I have chosen to use white because it is clean and fresh and also because, being plain and simple, it won’t distract from what’s going on inside. The only complication I allow myself I limit to one row:

k2tog, yo; repeat

At the same time, I decide to approach the inside: the space where the story will sit.

Picking up my knitting doll, I select a length of yarn and proceed to make a cord, which I will coil in much the same way as with a coaster or mat. The process is quick, simple and meditative and I lose myself effortlessly to the rhythm of it.

My moon takes me three days: one to make the coil and two to decorate.

knitted edges and a spool moon

Next up, the focus of my piece: my person or animal. I have no idea what will come out; I simply pick up my needles and trust in the process. I watch with interest until it starts to look like a ‘something’ and then I intrude.

In this instance, the suggested is of animal inclination. Beginning as a cat, it later becomes a rat and then, finally, joyously, a possum. This feels right, reminiscent of my time in Australia and my love for the family of possums who lived in the trees surrounding my house. I loved watching them, constantly surprised that in their lack of dexterity and elegance, they never seemed to fall.

I give my possum a tail, slightly curled. Then I add two ears – one that sticks up, the other out. After this, I add a nose, a mouth and a cheek, all in various shades of pink. Lastly, I give it claws, a necklace and a bracelet.

my possum

Because at the moment it’s top right and bottom left with nothing in between, I decide to make a star, which, along with providing company for the moon, will help to balance it out. But as it evolves, it transforms into a flower – jasmine or honeysuckle. Knitted in mohair and angora, it is soft with a fluffy sheen. I decorate it in pearls with a single sequin at its centre, then surround it with more flowers, only smaller this time, made of pearl and sequin.

my star

Three feels like the correct number of elements for the piece, so I decide to leave it there. But something is missing. I decide to add some sequins and beads to the area beneath the moon. I leave their translation open to the spectator. To me, however, they are many things: raindrops, snowflakes, tears, shooting stars, meteorites, petals; their essence changing with my mood.

my moon

Overall, this piece has two levels. The surface one – which is sweet, playful and fun; almost childlike in presentation. And the underlying one – which speaks of hope and faith, goal and intent, apprehension and fear, sorrow and grief; of things let go and left behind, and of things yet to be encountered and enjoyed.

the potential possum and the mostly moon

I miss Australia: the buzz of the city, the contrast of towering skyscraper against colonial relic, the warmth of the people; Chinatown, it’s smells and tastes; the beach – Bondi, Manley, Cooggie, Bronte, with its bronzed swimmers and surfers, its vistas and cliffs; the animals – pelican, cockatiel, fruit bat, koala, possum, kangaroo; my house; the places I went, the experiences I had, the people I met.

Australia

I know that when I leave here, Mallorca, I shall miss the landscape, the sky, and the light; watching the sun rise and set, the moon wax and wane; spotting shapes in the clouds; counting the stars and looking for various formations, every so often chancing upon a lone crusader as it flies past on its way to earth. I shall also miss the peace and quiet, the land that surrounds my house and the walled orchard with its fruit trees: lemon, lime, orange, pear, plum and fig… each month delivering a new surprise.

Mallorca

In its intentions, this piece has been fairly successful. In telling a story that wanted to be told, it has given voice to a handful of emotions and feelings, setting some free while merely drawing attention to the presence of others. I have gained information and advice about necessary inner work and learnt that as well as grieving the departure of people, it is also important to mourn the loss of home and place.

Everything we touch, everywhere we settle, every experience we have… impacts upon us in some way. And whether small or large, pleasant or terrible, they need to be honoured and thanked.

This lesson shall go with me into the next chapter and the next piece.

• see the rest of the collection (as and when it arrives)
• learn about other pieces I have made
• visit my website

The potential possum and the mostly moon (full-length version)

image• Read short version (as featured on Let’s Knit)
• Read Let’s Knit guest post

Objects of beauty:

I am starting to tire of my current series: the pieces take too long to make and the repetition, although pleasantly meditative, has become boring. I need to shake it up, increasing the pressure in order to scare myself; for while I am a creature of habit in my daily life: when it comes to creativity I need to be challenged and stimulated.

Vitruvian Woman

This piece is part of a new series I am making entitled Square Pegs. It is based on the following concepts:

1) the suggested tension square accompanying almost every pattern (something I rarely do and so have decided to practice)
2) patchwork quilts – old, beautiful and steeped in tradition
3) my own obstinate peg, namely accepting and embracing it

In knitting square after square, working within the security of a fixed environment, I hope to provide an outlet for life’s challenges, honouring the grazes by transforming them into objects of beauty; the idea being that these small squares, with their individual narratives, come together to form a whole that tells an entire story.

A natural disposition to be good:

Most of what I am about to do is undecided and I have restricted myself to three changes:

• a yarn background instead of a felt one
• a smaller workspace
• a square canvas

This expanse of unknown excites me and I am keen to see how it will translate.

Up until now:

Up until now, the majority of my pieces have been colourful narratives – bright, sparkly and cheerful. They depict wonderful beginnings, beautiful middles and happy endings.

my textile work

My drawing, on the other hand, tends towards the opposite; although here, too, you have to know what you are looking for.

my illustration

My poetry and prose, also; both reflecting (often with alarming honesty) exactly what is going on inside my head.

Why then, when I pick up a yarn or thread, does it always come out with a smile? I don’t understand it and while I don’t necessarily mind (for cheerful is always good), I would like to have more of a choice. That way, when I’ve got something on my mind: like when I’m worried or stressed or upset… I can allow its story an outlet along with the emotion it contains.

how I see the craft

Perhaps it has something to do with the tradition of the craft and how I see it: gainfull employment for hands that would be idle, domesticity at its best, a relic from a time that no longer exists? It reminds me of classic novels and of women who were well-behaved. It is passive and quiet; undeniably elegant. It has no room for rage or despair, for the mess of external expression. It was something that you sat and did, either in solitude or in company. Perhaps it is this that is stopping me, along with a natural disposition to be good?

a natural disposition to be good

Or maybe it’s because it was my grandmother who taught me and I see her as this shining light, someone who always managed to put a positive spin on things? Perhaps I am scared to taint her memory and infect her gift?

my grandmother

Or it could be that I am attached to the concept that we traditionally knit items to wear or use and embroider things to decorate and gift? Both are seen as crafts and craft, by its very nature, or at least according to it’s stereotype, is typically an airhead.

In trying to turn something ‘crafty’ into something ‘arty’, something with a message that goes deeper than a surface: “Hey look at me! Am I not the most lovely scarf, the most delicious hat? ”, I am changing the rules and I think this, the attempted remodelling, is where I have become tangled up.

An idealistic approach:

So this project is all about breaking the rules and moving away from the place where it all started. My previous work was different in the sense that it took embroidery and knitting as crafts and turned them into art, reinventing them and our perception of the form they take.

This work is all about exploration and doubly letting go, letting go a second time. Instead of having a vague idea of a theme for a piece: a pregnant rabbit, a frog in drag, a horse eating ice cream; I shall clear my mind and work without attachment to direction or outcome, allowing my inner guide and my outer muse to steer the journey. It is an idealistic approach, but one that excites me.

Phase one: humble beginnings

Sidar Snuggly Baby Crofter – Winnie (178)

Having decided to try my hand at something new, I decided it was only right that I use a new ball of wool and a new colour; that way, everything would be different – the background, the method, the colouring – reducing the risk of any and all attempts on my part to cling to the previously tested. I would dive in and wait to see. Worst case scenario, should I mess up entirely, I would simply fail to swim. And from the bottom of the pool, lake or ocean, (it’s length and breadth dependent on the extent of the mess I am in ), I could simply float my way back up, either unpicking and correcting in order to continue or starting over afresh. No big deal. It’s not like the wellbeing of the world or even myself depends upon it, although my confidence might be dented somewhat.

image

I elect to make a plain square and begin by casting on 40 stitches. My first time slot (I work in the car) allows me 22 rows. So far, so good. Not that that says much; although to a novice, even this might be a significant success. In my classes (I offer small workshops and private lessons) I have seen all kinds of things and it always surprises me how diverse people’s blocks and difficulties are – some struggling to cast on; while others steam ahead, only stumbling when they try to end. It fascinates me, this first dipped toe, this initial sampling, and I am always honoured to be a part of it.

Phase two: the next step

Repetition therapy

Having completed my square (roughly K40 x K36, although I must confess I forgot to count them), I am ready to move on to the next step and already I have an inkling about what I want it to be. But I shall keep that part of the narrative a secret until I have a photograph to accompany it: that way I maintain your attention for a little longer, allowing me pause to examine the benefits, if there were any, of the square.

Brief interlude in which I attempt to examine the benefits, if there were any, of the square:

The purpose here was to provide an outlet: the tension square serving as a pseudo-type therapist; an entity both strong enough and reliable enough to accommodate my emotions, thereby enabling me space to temporarily switch off from all catastrophizing about the future in order to sit still and silent within the present. And while it is far from a cure or a remedy: it’s a something, and something’s are things I am always grateful for. One doesn’t reject a thing just because it only delivers part of what is desired: a ball of acrylic is infinitely better than having no ball at all.

I think the solution is to keep making – increasing the pressure and the challenge, experimenting with what works on the outside and trying, as much as possible, to draw a parallel between that which is kind to my inside. The trick will be in uniting the two, so that my squares not only serve to tell a story but also to exorcise the emotions attached.

Phase three: two birds

Moonlight and right angles

Moving on, it is time for the frame: the knitted edging to replace what has previously been in ribbon. This will serve to ground the square visually, making it easier to work with. It will also catch and hold straight the edges, which would otherwise curl. I have chosen to use white because it is clean and fresh and also because, being plain and simple, it won’t distract from what’s going on inside. The only complication I allow myself (for even when striving for simplicity, there has to be one), I limit to one row: k2tog, yo; repeat.

At the same time, because I work my interiors while stationary and because I don’t want to start anything else for fear of overwhelm or distraction from the task, I decide to approach the inside: the space where the story will sit.

The mostly moon

Picking up my knitting doll (old and much-loved), I select a length of yarn and proceed to make a cord, which, when done, I will coil in much the same way one does a coaster or mat. The process is quick, simple and meditative and I lose myself effortlessly to the rhythm of it, re-emerging only when I am done. One of the things that I love most about sewing and knitting is that it is all-encompassing – swallowing me up thoughts, worries, distractions, life pressures and all… rescuing me (albeit temporarily) from the current weight of the world and the speed in which it invariably flows.

When I have roughly 25cm of cord, I make my coil, which I then loosely secure with cotton so that I can work on it. I then bring out my collection of sequins and beads and deliberate over which sizes and colours to pick. The larger my collection, the harder the task, despite my intention being the opposite.

My moon takes me three days: one to make the coil and two to decorate.

The potential possum a

Next up: the focus of my piece: my person or animal. At this point, I have no idea what will come out; I simply pick up my needles and trust in the process. My hands move independently and gradually a shape emerges. I watch with interest until it starts to look like a ‘something’ and then I intrude.

In this instance, the suggested is of animal inclination. Beginning as a cat, it later becomes a rat and then, finally, joyously, (I couldn’t abide having to devote myself to such an odious creature: its yellow teeth, its scaly tail) a possum. This feels right, reminiscent of my time in Australia and my love for the family of possums who lived in the trees surrounding my house. A cross between a cat, a rat and a squirrel, they were among the most curious of all the creatures I had the pleasure of meeting. I loved watching them, constantly surprised that, in their lack of dexterity and elegance, they never seemed to fall. I still struggle to accept that something that maladroit can live securely amongst branches and leaves.

I give my possum a tail, slightly curled. Then I add two ears – one that sticks up, the other out, separate to the piece so that’s 3-dimensional. After this, I add a nose, a mouth and a cheek, all in various shades of pink. And lastly, an eye: fishlike and slightly Egyptian, reminiscent of pyramids and the calligraphy that decorates their walls. Lastly, I give it claws, grey, a pearl necklace and a tail bracelet. I work slowly, concentrating on each addition, careful not to overload it. I want it to be likeable, and the jewelery helps this, but at the same time I don’t want it to feel overdone. I’m pleased with the result as well as my restraint.

The budding star

To balance the piece out, I decide to make a star, which, along with providing company for the moon, will help to balance the piece out. But as it evolves, it transforms into a flower, jasmine or honeysuckle. Knitted in mohair and angora, it is soft with a fluffy sheen. I decorate it in pearls with a single sequin at its centre, then surround it with more flowers, pearl and sequin in nature.

Three feels like the correct number of elements for the piece, so I decide to leave it there. But something is missing. Sitting with it for several days, looking at it often, thinking both in front of it and away, I decide to add some sequins and beads to the area beneath the moon. I leave their translation open to the spectator. To me, however, they are many things: raindrops, snowflakes, tears, shooting stars, meteorites, petals; their essence changing with my mood. Raindrops and tears are sorrowful, regretful, remorseful and hurt, representing certain people and events and the way I feel about them, along with the future and what it potentially holds. Shooting stars, snowflakes, petals and meteorites are more positive, signifying birth and transformation, possibility and change. Again, elements belonging to the future, but one I feel more warmth towards.

Summing up:

The potential possum and the mostly moon

Overall, this piece has two levels. The surface one, which is sweet, playful and fun, almost childlike in presentation. And the underlying one, which speaks of hope and faith, goal and intent, apprehension and fear, sorrow and grief; of things let go and left behind, and of things yet to be encountered and enjoyed.

Australia

I miss Australia: the buzz of the city, the contrast of towering skyscrape against colonial relic, the warmth of the people; Chinatown, it’s smells and tastes; the beach – Bondi, Manley, Cooggie, Bronte with its bronzed swimmers and surfers, its vistas and cliffs; the animals – pelican, cockatiel, fruit bat, koala, possum, kangaroo; my house, the places I went, the experiences I had, the people I met.

Mallorca

I know that when I leave here, Mallorca, I shall miss the landscape, the sky and the light; watching the sun rise and set, the moon wax and wane, spotting shapes in the clouds, counting the stars and looking for various formations, every so often chancing upon a lone crusader as it flies past on its way to earth. I shall also miss the peace and quiet, the land that surrounds my house and the walled orchard with its fruit trees: lemon, lime, orange, pear, plum and fig, each month delivering a new surprise.

In its intentions, this piece has been fairly successful, although incomplete in its remedy. In telling a story that wanted to be told, it has given voice to a handful of emotions and the feelings that were attached, setting some free, while merely drawing attention to the presence of others. I have gained information and advice about necessary inner work and learnt that as well as grieving the departure of people, it is also important to mourn the loss of place and home.

Everything we touch, everywhere we settle, every experience we have, impacts upon us in some way. And whether small or large, pleasant or terrible, they need to be honoured and thanked.

This lesson shall go with me into the next chapter and the next piece.

• see the rest of the collection (as and when it arrives)
• learn about other pieces I have made
• visit my website
imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio
• Save 30% and buy from me direct
Learn more about my work and the inspiration that guides it
• Keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter

The Reluctant Robin and the Blue Bud

image
This piece is part of a new series I am making, entitled Square Pegs. It is based on the following concepts:

1) the suggested tension square accompanying almost every pattern (something I rarely do and so have decided to practice)
2) patchwork quilts – old, beautiful and steeped in tradition
3) my own obstinate peg, namely accepting and embracing it

In knitting square after square, working within the security of a fixed environment, I hope to provide an outlet for life’s challenges, honouring the cuts and scrapes by transforming them into objects of beauty; the idea being that these small squares, with their individual narratives, come together to form a whole that tells an entire story.

This is the second piece in my collection. I have called it: The Reluctant Robin and the Blue Bud.

~

The robin was reluctant to admit to his part in the affair: the things he had done, the words he had said, the actions he had taken and the others he had withheld; things which, collectively, had led to the arrival of the blue bud – a despondent bloom who did nothing but weep, crying over today as if it were the last day on which it were possible for such things to be shed. Such was the weight of his woe, he had quite saturated the garden, coming very close to drowning an earthworm and several small slugs.The robin sighed: how did one deal with such a creature? Should he approach with a handkerchief and attempt to wipe the stain from his nose? Or should he prepare a pot and serve hot tea instead? Whatever… whichever… he had to do something: the pathetic plant was driving him mad. Besides, he didn’t have time to indulge the dramatics of others, not when he still had so many of his own.In addition, to further complicate, he had been raised to see all forms of weeping as weakness and displays of emotion as frail. Tears were for the faint-hearted: those who couldn’t function adequately or competently cope; the type who were afraid to go far and who would be fated to fail if ever they should. To show oneself in the company of strangers (most of whom would likely always stay that way) was both unadvisable and unwise. They might haul you in and examine your head, ply you with medication. They may even lock you up: the bud was obviously unstable, in need of help; anyone could see that. But he wasn’t about to be the one to give it: not now, not after so long… and he resented the feeling that was trying to make him believe he should.The sun rose slowly, breaking through the cloud blanket, weak rays caressing the darker, still shadowed landscape. It woke the robin, gently tickling his eyelids. It roused the bud too, evicting it from its respite. With reluctance, it awoke. Lifting its head, it turned its face to its only companion, attempting a smile. Then, failing – as entirely as one might manage to fail when attempting a venture whose outcome they had vested an amount of energy and interest in – it looked sadly away. It knew it had to do better, figure something out. But how did one attempt to wrestle the weight of the world, placate the paralysis of problems? Did one? Could one? It wasn’t sure.

Uncharacteristically moved, the robin asked if it was hungry and offered to get breakfast in.BWhile he was away, most likely foraging in another farmer’s field, the bud decided to confront the intruders, attempting to deconstruct the darkness in order to remove it from his life. Lifting a leaf, he poked and prodded in the space around his head, believing the problem to be in his stamen. But when he brought it back out, it was empty of defect and blight.CRefusing to give up, he tried his roots, pushing another leaf down into the soil. Jackpot: immediate resistance: a creeping, crawling, carpet-skinned thing that felt like it was made up of hundreds and thousands of creatures. Ants? Beetles? Bugs? How undignified. And how horrific to have the source of his malaise situated there, somewhere so far from his immediate person and in a region he couldn’t ever hope to visually reach?9The robin returned, presenting a slug. The bud faked grateful, forcing a smile, surreptitiously sliding the odious thing away. Didn’t the robin know that slugs were poison to buds, likely to remove whole chunks from leaves and half bites from heads? To eat it would lead to his destruction: a slow crunching and chomping from the inside out; him disappearing – bit by bit, cell by cell – until he was dry, brown and brittle, a hollow shell.Or maybe that was the plan? And if it wasn’t, then maybe he should adopt it? At least then he would have a choice. And being eaten by a slug was less intimidating and worrying then being possessed by beetles and ants. At least it would be quick.11The ants, on the otherhand, wishing only to torment, would stay – hanging around to forage and bring back to; running up and down, in and out; hiding, holding – until he found another conclusion to escape the confines of his life.

• see the rest of the collection (as and when it arrives)
• learn about other pieces I have made
imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio
• Save 30% and buy from me direct
Learn more about my work and the inspiration that guides it
• Keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter

A Fit Bird

image
Dishing the dirt

OK, so it’s time to ‘fess-up and dish the dirt on all that I have been avoiding – and here I am talking about the things that I have been stepping around as if they were both odious and frightening: things that keep me awake, that play on repeat, that torture and torment me when they think that no one else is looking or listening in.

Of course, there are many of these (and I have no doubt that you possess your own fair share of devious miscreants you would like to ignore or outrun) but I have decided ‘in the nature of taking things slowly so as not to scare the tiny bird of courage away’ to start with one: my newsletter. It is an issue that I have been evading, posting bits of writing as and when they come but neglecting to show you my actual art as it develops and progresses. There is a reluctance to be vulnerable, to expose myself to the thoughts, feelings, whimsies and opinions of other people, in case they don’t match up and hurt me. And it occurred to me the other day that this was actually rather sad and something I will come to regret.

So, in a bid to reduce the measure of that remorse as and when it arrives, I have decided to begin at once and make a start. And while I might not feel ‘officially’ ready, because my website is still in progress: I am aware that it is going to be growing for quite some time, so I may never catch up. Besides, it’s about time I took my own advice. I am constantly gently pushing and encouraging others; I need to now take those steps myself.

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A leap of faith

Why is it important to document and share? After all, it’s intensely personal, entails risk and presents you naked and vulnerable to the world on mass. And when you put it like that, it sounds positively scary: something to avoid at all costs. And yet, somehow, it’s not.

From my point of view, documenting will be like building a time capsule; my newsletter serving as the all-important container. It will allow me to look back and remember and to observe both my evolution and my development along the way. It will illustrate the transition from blank to full, simultaneously revealing how each fresh piece came to life, gaining a story and a soul. And it will clear up the issue of just how long each one takes, resolving the mystery which has come to haunt me like a dinner-impatient dog, pestering the heels of my meticulous and details-oriented mind.

From your perspective, on the other hand, which is arguably more important as you are the one reading this: it will hopefully unveil the particulars behind what I do, showing you how I go about it and thus encouraging similar imaginative forays and bold adventures on your side. I’m also hoping you will post pictures, sharing with me your achievements and your mistakes, and feel confident enough to put up your hand and ask when some extra help or advice is needed.

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Love thy neighbour

We live in far too isolated a world and our separateness creates so many unnecessary problems within the smaller circle of our lives. It is important, therefore, to protect ourselves; to have a network – a sibling, a soulmate, a best friend, a mentor, an advisor, a therapist, a parent, a partner, a spouse, a much older and wiser someone to turn to when things don’t work out, when we are scared or alone, etc… And they don’t have to be related or real. I have people who fill those roles for me and they come in many shapes, sizes and guises. My dog is one of them, even if she isn’t technically a person. My grandmother too, despite having passed away. I speak to them both and always they reply, although I might have to be patient and open to the signs, willing to read beyond the obvious for the advice underneath.

I hope that creatively I can be there for you, providing whatever you, in that moment, require.

I also want to encourage creative confidence and growth in as many people as possible. It is my wish for everyone to have a tool to turn to when they need something solid and safe to hold on to, something they can rely on when everything else appears to have let them down: when the world is still afloat, still rushing by, but when they themselves are sinking.

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Smile, you’re on camera

Below is a photo journal of my latest piece, featuring a flamingo. “Why a flamingo?” I hear you ask. “Well, flamingos are bright, bold and silly little birds and they remind me of summer.” Sometimes, that’s all the encouragement you need.

Alternatively, you can use the following links to:

View the rest of my work (i.e. my online gallery/portfolio)
Adopt a piece (what the heck is this?)
Commission your own bespoke creation (how do I do this? I’m intrigued)

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A proper tangle: day one

Selecting a colour palette

Each time I begin a new piece, I start by selecting a colour palette. Looking to my emotions for assistance, I let my heart do the picking, trying to stay out of the way, going with my gut. If for some reason I feel guided towards colours that clash or combinations I usually dislike, I don’t resist: I unravel, wind and cut. It is important to me that the entire process is organic, that it comes from deep inside, from the place where my creativity lives and thrives.

A bird by any other name: day two

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Destined to be a flamingo

This piece was destined to be a flamingo; I knew this from the beginning, before I even put needle to thread. Some friends here on the island (Mallorca, if you are unfamiliar with my background) have just opened a boutique and, obsessed with flamingos, built their brand around the leggy redhead. Never having written about, drawn, sewn or knitted a flamingo in any shape or form, I was curious as to the challenge it might present and intrigued to see how something I wouldn’t necessarily have selected might translate. This is the bird as it came off my needles, before it really resembled anything: a strange pink shape with various bits sticking out, camel-like in appearance. At this point, I am unsure about it, undecided as to whether I like it and whether it is good enough to be kept. But, abiding by my own rules – those of going with the flow, allowing, keeping, refraining from condemning or counting as a mistake – I am determined to stand by it. To do otherwise, would be a betrayal of myself, breaking the bond I am trying so hard to forge.

Sexy pins: day three

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It’s quirky and I like it

My flamingo is beginning to take shape, looking more and more like it should, developing a presence and a personality. It’s quirky and I like it. I have forgiven it for yesterday, when I was doubting the success of the venture and the ability of my hands. They know what they are doing and I should know better than to question the silent dialogue they share with my head. I may not be privy to the words or the message, but the physical statement is clear: when I allow, it usually works; when I interfere, it gets tangled up and eventually breaks. Standing back, trusting, waiting, listening to the stitches….. this is the way to proceed. 

So, what is there to report?

Well, first up my flamingo has an eye. It is pale blue in colour and matches the sky. It’s not what an actual flamingo’s eye looks like (they are yellow and beady with pinprick pupils) but I liked this one better, lit has more warmth and depth. In reality, flamingos are a bit spooky; they give me the creeps.

Next, comes the beak. It is made out of variegated sock yarn, which means it changes in colour as you knit, creating a pattern – sometimes complex, sometimes simple. It is pink in colour. It looks a bit sinister at the moment. Dare I say a bit fallic? But I have faith that it will soften with the addition of some shiny bits.

And finally, the legs: the pièce de résistance; for what is a flamingo without its legendary pins? – they are, after all, it’s most distinguishing feature. They need them to wade through deep water to get to the fish. And also to balance. What you think are their knees, are actually their ankles. Don’t believe me? Read this. Anyway, back to the point. I used the same variegated sock yarn here as before and allowed the wool to dictate the colour. I think they worked out rather well, considering I made them up. At any rate, my camel now looks like a bird.

All that shimmers: day four

This piece gets more exciting each day and I am enjoying watching it grow. As I add to it, I slowly warm to it and fall in love. This part of the process is vital: for without emotion, there is no creation; when I hate a piece, I find it almost impossible to work on it; like reading a boring book, it drags, every moment agony.

Today I added beads and sequins, which, as you can imagine, took a long time. It also required a good deal of patience. But I find the process of accessorising quite therapeutic as it allows me to zone out, disappearing into my head.

Redeeming features

And my beak has redeemed itself, as I knew that it would. It’s almost crown-like in appearance: a tiara encrusted with jewels, making my flamingo look royal, a creature with a distinguished roots. Does that make me, its mother, blue-blooded too? Or is something bigger than me to credit for its aesthetic demeanour: the Universe, God, ancestral spirits, Mother Nature, elves, fairies, etc…?

I spend the rest of the day adding to various parts, working slowly so as not to overdo it. I have a tendency to crowd a piece and I am trying to remedy this: pulling back, listening before responding, waiting for the inner message to emerge, giving myself up to the process.

Fly by night: day five

Next comes the wing, a vital accessory, necessary for both beauty and movement. After all: a bird without wings is like a spider without legs.

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A spider without legs

Interestingly, the common assumption is that flamingos can’t fly. I, too, believed this. And why not? They look too big, too heavy. Their legs are too long. However, thanks to Google and an article on the anatomy of said bird, I have now been set straight. Flamingos do indeed fly, it’s just not a widely known fact because they mostly fly at night and we don’t see them. They also aren’t actually pink. Their colour varies, depending on the foot they eat. The more Beta Carotene, the deeper the pink. Conversely, flamingos that are white are malnourished and sick. So, if you see an alabaster flamingo, don’t just admire it, simultaneously documenting it and posting it on all of your social networks: take out your mobile and phone the R.S.P.A or your respective country’s equivalent. Otherwise, it might die. 

This wing took me several hours and is all I have to report. The rest of my time was spent on another piece, which contains a rainbow frog and a pink-haired fairy standing in a meadow underneath a cloudy moonlit sky. With a pastel palette and lots of beads and sequins, it is very colourful and shiny.

Anyway, I think the wing worked, adding an element that was missing. It needed something to balance it out. So far it has been all head and leg. The wing makes it feel more complete, like a story with a middle as well as a beginning and an ending.

Luscious locks: day six

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More fictional in nature

Applying hair made me laugh. Technically, a flamingo doesn’t have any hair, but I wanted mine to have more character than the real thing and to be more fictional in nature. It’s like fairies: as far as one can prove, they don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t or that I can’t choose to remain open to the possibility that they might. After all, who am I to say? Believing in Father Christmas got me presents; The Tooth Fairy, cash. And anyway, life is better that way: more mystical and less daunting. If one believes in fairies, then one can believe in fairy godmothers and magic and bad things going away. It’s the same with my flamingo: if she has wings, she can fly; if she has hair, she can look pretty and secure a prince, and, if I am lucky enough to meet her, even in my dreams, perhaps we can talk? After all: if she has one made up thing, there’s no reason why she can’t have others. 

I also carefully cut around my flamingo with sharp scissors and stitched her onto a larger piece of felt. Now she is centre stage, ready for the rest of her narrative.

Will it be day or night? Will the weather be foul or favourable? Where will she be: the beach, the city, the forest, a meadow, etc…? Will she have companions? If so, who? And what will be her underlying message? All of my pieces have a story to tell about something that is happening or has happened in my life, reflecting the events of the world around me and my own personal landscape. The longer you look at them, the more you see, picking out your own messages and writing your own script, their translation unique to each individual who comes to visit.

A shiny tail and a beaded bottom: day seven

Now for the finishing touches, at least to the bird. The background comes later and shall be documented differently, or else we shall be on this journey forever, you and I, and getting distracted. Not that it’s an unpleasant journey. It’s just that there are other things we should be getting on with and it doesn’t do to delay in one area since the rest then gets neglected. I have a frog and a princess to complete, a cabled iPad case to finish, a Kindle case to knit, a necklace to design, a cheer-up present for a friend to stitch and send off, and a pair of gloves to block. Added to that, there is writing and drawing. My hands are never idle and neither is my mind.

The tail is another element added for aesthetic pleasure. It evens out the head and the wing, bringing the bird as a whole into balance with itself. It’s also rather fun and the more beads and sequins the better. I like their softening effect, the otherworldlyness they add to a piece. Looking at the bird now, I think she is finished. I will start to work on the rest of the piece and return to her later if compelled. From here on in, I shall document on a weekly basis. Most pieces taking two to three months to complete, that’s plenty of pictures and accompanying text. Any more, and you’ll have fallen asleep on me, drooling on your desk and ruining your paperwork. This is not, after all, a novella. Although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

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Added for aesthetic pleasure

The ribbon, in case you are wondering, is the one I have selected to border the piece: my version of a frame. I like the fact that is is bright and colourful, like my bird, and also that I haven’t used it yet. My choice may change later, but for now I think it fits.

Under the light of a silvery moon: week two

This week I French-knitted a moon and some waves to represent the sea and continental-styled a lace pattern to serve as clouds. Something new; something previously untested: I was interested to see if it would work. I have made fingerless gloves using this pattern (lots – I have a tendency to get addicted*) but nothing abstract, nothing entirely my own. So far, so good. I am pleased with its appearance on the fabric and will do a little more, perhaps down the top right-hand side of the piece to cushion the moon.

* Last year it was socks and now I have drawers full of them. The year before, it was hats. It’s anyone’s guess what comes next…

A moon and some waves

The moon itself is made out of a Fairisle-effect yarn – faux-Fairisle to be precise, similar to the one I used for my iPad case. In fact, it may be the same ball. It’s a pretty pastel pattern and nicely represents a sunset in the Mediterranean.

The sea, a baby blue in a hue that I adore – soft and delicate, warm rather than cold – is also new for me. I haven’t tried waves with water. Usually I just make it flat, a calm sea, undisturbed by life and nature. This time, I have curled it up and down and then added French knots (because I love them and like to let them exist at least once in every picture) just above to represent the froth; the white horses, so to speak. The yarn beneath the waves is a paler blue, with a fine metallic thread running through it: tricky to sew with but worth it for the effect. To me, it suggests magical things: the beauty that often lies hidden beneath the exterior, the wealth inherent within the subconscious mind, what we all conceal and entrap for fear of harm or pain. It also accommodates the unpredictability of nature, the chaotic dance of life; the constant movement each of us must endure, embracing or resisting, up to us.

Slow and steady: week five

Pretty in pink

Stitching in earnest

I know I wasn’t going to continue here, instead beginning and from there updating another post, a fresh one, but I decided in the name of simplicity to remain and to keep a tight rein on myself. In the future, it means everything is in one place, neat, tidy and ordered, which is the way I like to live my life.

As you can see, I have begun to stitch in earnest – first attaching my flamingo scene to a plain piece of felt and then edging it with ribbon. It is a slow task, heavy on the eyes, and I proceed slowly limited by the available light. Evenings have begun to draw in. I have lost an hour of creative time and am fighting off the darkness at 8pm. By 9pm, I have lost the battle. All is black: blue a distant memory, white absent, save for the silvery moon, which shines intermittently. Although she too has been elsewhere lately, deserting me just as surely as my manmade substitute has. The hotel terrace where I currently work has sequestered my gerkin for alternative use and it now lights the tourists frequenting the outside BBQ as opposed to me. My flamingo and eyes morn its departure as deeply as if it were a close and long-held friend.

Crossing over: week 6

Closure

Ready to fly

I’ve had to wait for pity to descend in order to continue. Stitching without light is unwise, especially given the fate that befell my previous piece Wings and Webbed Feet. Once bitten: twice shy, so to speak. I am suitably humbled and chastised. Luckily, an unlikely benefactor came to my aid and I have been gifted a fresh light. The chef in charge of the BBQ, a man whose food I have never savoured and in passing only once spoken to, took pity on me, fearing for the health of my eyes, ordering the return of the one he took away. I think, in his bottle-top glasses, he learned the hard way and, in his kindness, sought to at least attempt to save me the same fate.

Reunited, almost leant up against, fighting for space with the moths, I have stitched in earnest and managed to arrive at the end. My flamingo is ready to fly, to go out and officially meet the world. I am happy with her, given that we have been on an eventful journey with many highs and lows: waiting several weeks for a new order of sequins to turn up, just one of them; others entailing hunting every haberdashery department and shop I could think of on the island in order to find five pale pink sequins for my fish who, although far from greedy in her requirements, managed to exhaust my existing supply. Because I often buy things on impulse, keeping them for that ‘special’ piece, not knowing exactly when I might need them or if I even will but sensing that I will appreciate the instinct and foresight one day, I regularly lose track of where they originated, sometimes even in terms of country. When this happens, it takes me a while to hunt them back down, or, in extreme circumstances, locate a substitute. Usually, bar the one incident where I lost through no fault of my own but the manufacturer discontinuing the line, I win, even if it means I have to go through Ebay or online shop clearance bins. Where there’s a will: there’s usually a way; and if not, the creative thinking that ensues eventually lands me somewhere far better than if the simple solution had applied. For this reason, I entrust my path to fate and the whimsical nature of the Greater Power up above.

• Meet the rest of my flamingo’s friends
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Wings and Webbed Feet

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Once upon a time…

A long time ago, before either you or I were born; before, even, most of us can remember – not our mothers or our grandmothers, or their mothers and their grandmothers – there was a handsome prince. And, like many far-off fabled princes, he was spoilt and mean. He teased his sister, chased his maid, terrorised the kitchen staff, shouted at both of his parents; refused to attend school, whether home or otherwise, and spent most of his spare time (which, considering he rejected investing in anything that wasn’t directly relevant to him, was a lot) catching moths, dissecting butterflies, tormenting little kittens and stealing baby birds.

The prince who favoured the beast

The handsome prince

His family, being good God-fearing people, suffered his behaviour to the best of their ability, attempting to instil their beliefs and values into him in the hope that, eventually, he would change. And for a while, they genuinely believed that he would.

But as the years passed and he grew from a boy into a man, drawing ever closer to the time when he would, traditionally, inherit the kingdom: their concern grew, it’s toes extending into every corner.

Fearing the destruction of everything they held dear: the community they had built, the people they worked hard to protect, the landscape that not only inspired artists but attracted writers from miles around, they called in external help, turning to the one person they knew they could rely on. And while her ways were initially painful, often confusing and unusually harsh, they accepted that they were also always right.

The one person they knew they could rely on

The one person they knew they could rely on

So began a time of mourning, in which the kingdom wept a thousand tears and all who lived there learnt to pray for compassion and forgiveness.

Years passed and nothing much happened: the king turned grey, the queen grew plump, the staff became less vigilant and the townsfolk gradually withdrew, for, although they knew it wasn’t their fault, they couldn’t help feeling responsible for the way that things had turned out.

The frog prince

The prince, and what befell him

As for the prince: he grew into a man – bitter, twisted and resentful, all the worse for the feelings his punishment had evoked in him.

Hiding inside the palace walls, he survived the comments, whispers, stares and judgement by keeping to himself.

And then, one day, the king of Mercy arrived with his daughter, Grace, and the prince, who was now a frog, awoke, the beast inside him dissolving in an instant.

The fairy princess

The beautiful princess

Determined to win the hand of the beautiful princess, the not-quite-so-beautiful prince set about improving, first attending to his own (up until now) wicked ways, and then extending his efforts further into every attainable interior of the kingdom.

Slowly, the chill began to melt. Life returned, laughter resumed and, once again, love remembered.

And then a question was asked and a hole was created – inside of which, there existed everything.

Meanwhile, in the present day…

So far, so good…

This piece is under construction and currently receiving lots of love. I am working on it slowly, in conjunction with several other pieces:

a pink flamingo
• a collection of beaded spindle bracelets
• a cabled iPad and Kindle case (mini iPad and iPhone to follow)
• a cheer-up present for a friend

Having more than one piece on the go helps to keep me in motion, the pressure providing motivation that, in the heat of summer, it is otherwise hard to maintain.

A place where anything can happen and often does

The inspiration for this piece is loosely based upon the tale of the Frog Prince, the title initiating a journey I then followed independently; the idea being that all little boys are smelly and nasty and mean to girls, pulling their hair and spitting at them until they grow into big strong men, who can – if kissed in the right way, by the right girl – turn into princes and later kings.

Like so many of my pieces, this one, too, is evocative of fairytales: a place where anything can happen and often does and good wins out over evil, eventually…

I read vicariously as a child and was enchanted and entranced by mythology and folk law. I still am, especially the dark stuff. My favourite authors include: Aesop, The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen, Giambattista Basile, Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve… to name but a few.

I also have a deep love for Enid Blyton, William Nicholson, J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, Ursula LeGuinn, Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood.

An colourful proposition

This narrative, mine, as pictured both above and below, depicts a frog and a fairy princess in a state of limbo: the frog deeply in love, desirous of the princess’s hand; the princess not quite so sure, for, while not terrifyingly ugly, the frog is a little garish with his rainbow dreadlocks and his feet that refuse the inside of shoes.

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A state of limbo

Is matrimony to such a creature wise? And why does she have feelings for something so slippery and slimy anyway? Where did they come from? Her emotions unnerve her.

Indecisive moments twinned with periods of doubt

The working title for this piece is ‘The Frog Prince and The Fairy Princess’. But I don’t know if it’s right.

Playing around with other ideas, I am considering:

• Wings and Webbed Feet
• Beauty and the Frog
• The Frog Prince

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Otherwise known as

What do you think?

If you have a flash of inspiration, a stroke of genius or a brilliant brainwave, let me know. The top answer will be declared the winner and awarded a crown: one of my own; self-invented, hand-devised.

The point at which I say…

Ok, so this is supposed to be the point at which I say: “Hurray. We are finished…”, pushing myself vertical to dance in public; twirling, euphoric; jumping up and spinning round and around. And I did, for a day. And then I came back and looked again – closer this time, inspecting for detail; searching for mistake, error – and it struck me, slowly, that something wasn’t right. Something was missing, felt off. As a whole, it was incomplete; the landscape, too white.

So, as much as it pains me (and it does, because I have spent so long on this already: days, nights, etc.), I have to go back and attend. I’m thinking some French knots around the edge of the inner canvas. Or a thin knitted line – something to box it in, pin it down. Also, possibly some embroidered stars, or some beaded and sequinned ones? Or some knitted tendrils, like on my previous piece The Princess and the Pe-kinese and similar to those on the tree above? I will ponder it for a week and then decide. There is nothing but disaster to be gained from leaping. Less haste: more speed.

A stitch in time

To be, or not to be…

I am praying in earnest to all of my stars, lucky or otherwise, that what transpires is what I need and that that will be the solution. It would be a shame, a tragedy, even, to be left with an unusable piece. If I don’t love it: I can’t sell it. Besides: if it looks less than great, it’s not like anyone else will want it either, unless they have a penchant for collecting lost and hopeless things, things that need rescuing. It’s probably something I would do. I collect broken things: objects, animals, people, plants. I cannot stand to see them standing alone, needing comfort, requiring aid, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness. It physically pains me.

When I was a child, I could never part with my toys. I worried about their feelings, how they would fair. I couldn’t bear the thought of their pain at being thrown away or at being deemed unwanted. They had hearts, souls. They were alive. They got lonely if they got left, dismissed. Hurt if they fell or were dropped. It was a complicated job navigating all of them and still having room for me. I’m not sure I ever managed it.

But I digress… Back to the art. That is, after all, what you are here for, what you are really interested in. My childhood, my past, my injuries and my neuroses: they are part of another world, one you can subscribe to if you so desire but one which I will not force upon you if not.

Strength and perspective

Absence makes the heart grow stronger and distance provides perspective. After having stepped away for several weeks – focussing on other projects; concentrating on things that, kindly, were working in my favour – I have returned: doubly inspired, solution inhand.

Like most things, it was actually relatively simple when it came down to it; the mistake, easy to remedy, not entirely of my hand. The culprit, the ribbon, was the wrong colour: too dark, too oriental, beige. It needed to be more subtle, not to compete so much with the piece; to compliment it, frame it, rather than dominating and weighing it down.

I searched around in my ribbon drawer (yes, I actually have a whole drawer dedicated to housing ribbons… And, my goodness… I have so very many. I think I’m a little obsessed, acting like a squirrel preparing for winter lest my current shop of choice – and, I hasten to add, the only one available to me here – should close down, move away or sell out) and found the perfect design: delicate flowers (blue, orange and yellow) on a white background.

Now all I have to do is carefully unpick the existing one so that I can sew this in its place. Having only just finished adding the ribbon edging to my pink flamingo, I am aware of the time involved, the concentration required and the damage such detail does to my eyes and, potentially, the piece. It is not a task I relish or approach with enthusiasm. But it is an important one, worth every bit of the pain for what it adds to the result.

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Free from offending entities

As I said above: absence makes the heart grow fonder. And it does, because, having removed the offending entity without consequence, I am thawing out again. The dominating ribbon, the ribbon that wants to overpower the piece – ruling me, my handiwork, my princess and my web-footed prince out of the picture and into the ether of non-existence and negative effect – is once again separate, sequestered to the relevant drawer.

Now I just have to attach a fresh background of white felt and then add the new ribbon. I sense a series of long evenings.

I spy: not a lot

I have been straining my eyes on this one, racing against the setting sun, the following darkness. I have turned German too, if only in my antics, running out onto the hotel terrace where I work most evenings in a bid to secure my usual seat, the only one with light, before anyone else takes it. I’m not sure why, but the rest is unlit, bereft even of candles. It’s strange. Silly too. Do the management not realise how depressing it is to sit in the dark, struggling to see what colour your drink is, what your companions look like; unable, even, to read? Or do they presume we all have Kindles and iPads to accommodate our needs?

But what if you are eating? This isn’t Dine in the Dark, no matter how much I would like that – just the once, if only to try it. It’s on my wish list after my brother did it in Singapore with his wife. It sounds like a laugh, even if you do end up with food all down your front and indigestion from eating goodness knows what.

Stitching myself blind

A fresh piece of felt and two lengths of ribbon

After three nights or roughly six hours, I have managed to attach a fresh piece of felt and two lengths of ribbon. Two down: two more to go. Or it should be, only there was a slight technical hitch yesterday afternoon leaving me to navigate a temporary delay. Well, there had to be, didn’t there, if only so that this piece could live up to its reputation of a noxious little beast. I blame it on the frog, I think he’s a little too fond, reluctant to leave the lap within which, nightly, he is lovingly caressed. And who can blame him? It’s a lovely lap, even if I do say so myself. I, too, would prefer it to the wall or a drawer; unless it happens to be your wall or your draw, in which case I would infinitely prefer it to my lap.

Anyway, the hitch: I ran out of ribbon. I must have used this pattern before and only begun with half the two metres I usually have at my disposal. I’m an idiot for not checking first. I was near the haberdashery shop only last week, buying sequins for my flamingo piece. I could have saved myself a long walk: up cobbled steps, down narrow streets, past hordes of tourists meandering lost in the mid-day heat. There’s a lesson to be learned if I can manage to remember it. Hopefully, I will catch the shop before it closes for lunch. They take four hours here and then stay open until late. It’s forever tripping me. It was the same in Australia (only with the ending, not the middle) where everything shut at 5pm. I got ousted from cafés all the time, left with two hours to kill before my ride home arrived. It was a pain. In the end, I usually ended up walking home, even if that took over an hour. At least it was action. It’s the hanging around that kills me. I hate delay.

It’s the same right now with my future, which is all up in the air. I’m waiting to find out where, when and how, knowing only the why and the pressing urgency of it. In order to cope, I have devised a new motto. To find out what it is, click here.

Let me introduce you

The straight and narrow

The finished article

Finally, the ending: long-awaited and much-coveted. This piece has challenged my patience more than most. But it has also charmed and entertained me so I cannot chasten it. Besides, it was my first tentative foray into the landscape of ‘less than pretty’ and a complete experiment. I have drawn uncertainty and darkness, unsightly and different, but I have never knitted or stitched it. It was time for a change, time for a challenge. In this sense, it was a success.

Next up, I plan to attempt something a little different, going back to the knitted background and building up from there.

And, perhaps, I will change the dimensions; try something circular or square? We shall see… After all, it’s not up to me in the end. My hands simply obey what is delivered from beyond.

• If you would like to buy my work, please visit my online gallery
• To receive a 30% discount, see my enquiry page for details or visit my shop

imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio
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Learn more about my work and the inspiration that guides it
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Passenger Therapy

imageI am terrified of cars – their size, their noise, their speed, the idiots who drive them (present company excluded). Having been involved in two accidents, neither of which were my fault and in neither of which was I driving, I am hyper alert, my eyes finding danger everywhere that I look. Put me on a road cluttered with hire cars fresh from the airport and crazy locals who talk, smoke, eat and change lanes all at the same time, and I am a nervous wreck. I need something to contain me. Passenger Therapy does just that. It has proved so successful, I now even look forward to my journeys. Something I would never have thought possible.image
So what is it and how does it work?

Well, simply put: it is the use of knitting as a distractant, predominantly in situations where you find yourself a passenger of circumstance, travelling, as it were, against your free will.

I mostly use it in the car, but it also works on buses, trains, aeroplanes, boats and, I dare say, bicycles, if they happen to accommodate two. Wherever you are a passenger, and here the term can be applied as loosely as you like (for example: queuing at the post office, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, etc…), it can be used to positive effect. You literally take your current project and pick up your needles where you left off.image
How do I do it?

Initially, it is advisable to pick a pattern with few complications and to use at least a 4 ply wool – the bigger the better, in my opinion. But as you advance, your concentration increasing, your ability to juggle at speed around corners and roundabouts, compensating for G-force and blurred vision, improving with every trip, you can branch out, experimenting with more delicate yarns and detailed patterns.

I have made mohair hats on impossibly small needles, lace gloves on 4 dpns, cabled cowls worked in the round and turned the heel on several pairs of socks. Practice, as they say, makes perfect. As long as you are prepared to sacrifice the occasional project to an unexpected corner or an abrupt emergency brake, you can push yourself to your heart’s content.

Relax. Work slowly. Knit without expectation or pressure. As with any form of creative therapy, the most important thing is the process. The product and the quality of that product is merely a bonus that comes as a result of having gotten the hang of it and of having cured the trauma which necessitated the need for that therapy in the first place.

Be gentle with yourself and love whatever comes out. Everything we make is precious, holding within it a story about a time and a place in our lives.
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Obligatory words of caution

Be careful with your needles. They are sharp, pointy objects and you are travelling at speed. Keep them away from your eyes and don’t point them at either yourself or the driver. Switch metal needles for wooden ones. Heaven forbid you should do yourself an injury, they will at least bend or snap.

For more information

If you would like to know more about knitting as a form of therapy, take a trip over to my other website where there is an article detailing all of the amazing facts.

To view my completed projects, visit my clothing and accessories page.

To see read all about my pieces as I make them, complete with instructions, photos and anecdotes, check out the following pages:

It’s ok to judge a book by its cover…
I spy with my little i

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imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio
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It’s ok to judge a book by its cover…

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Especially this one – as it’s creator, I’m allowed to say that.

I was so enchanted with my iPad case, I felt compelled to make another one almost right away. So, after spending a few days on lacework for one of my pieces (clouds for my flamingo picture – the ‘fit bird’ in my life), I am back knitting in the round with my favourite faux-Fairisle. And what a jolly little ball it is, all pinks and blues with a dash of brown. Not having used this particular dye pattern before, I am intrigued as to how it will knit out.

A pretty little picot

A pretty little picot

Two journeys in (remember, I am knitting in the car) and this is my progress. Casting on stitches with a chihuahua on your lap (yes, I am a total cliché, my dog never far from away from my knees) is somewhat challenging, especially when ‘said’ canine is reluctant to sit still. But we got there in the end and I managed to cast on, join and begin in earnest, to the tune of: click, click, click.

What you can see above is the brim (think hat) or cuff (think jumper). Essentially ten rounds of knit, then a round of yo, k2, followed by another 10 k. The result, when folded and sewn down: a picot edge. Having used it before with hats and socks, it is familiar. It is also that little bit more interesting than a basic rib and rather pretty without being unnecessarily tiresome or complex. Sometimes one needs nice and simple; for the motion and the focus to be the purpose of the thing, its meditative rhythm, healing and calming, slowing the inner banter, quietening it.

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Familiar quarters

Familiar Quarters

Comfortable Centers

A nip and a tuck

Celebrated Endings

I have been working for a little over a week – my knitting time restricted, permitted only in certain locations and at certain hours: typically those bookmarking the morning. They amount to the too’s and fro’s of my life and, like retail therapy, provide valuable diversion; the only difference being that here the distraction is from commuters not change, the antagonists people in charge of cars.

As I have advanced, the pattern hidden inside the wool has revealed itself. It is different to my expectations. I had anticipated something paler – more yellow and pink, less green and brown. I imagined it would be summery, in keeping with the current season. Instead, its palette reminds me of autumn, of gathered fruits and fallen leaves, of sweet and savoury sensory suggestions, a kitchen alive with cooking things, like chutney, jam and cakes. It rewinds me to a previous life, to a different year, to the crunch of dried things and early sunsets, to orange soaking the sky with the promise of a clear tomorrow, to the embrace of a familial landscape and the security of being young. I become nostalgic, lusting after a yesterday that I’m not sure ever was, craving a storybook illustration when the reality was somewhat more generic, mass-produced and black and white.

My attention focused, I proceed quickly, secure within the pattern. Freed from my notes, I slip into trance, my thoughts drifting in and out, sinking down and under. I feel at peace, the journey no longer a source of antagonism. Each time we arrive (me and whoever is driving), whether at home or away, I am slightly disappointed, part of me longing to prolong my containment. This is a good sign. It means that the process is working, the piece filled with energy, intention and love.

At the close of each journey, I measure the case against my Kindle to stop it from running wild. I am conscious that in my relaxed state it could easily grow ferrel, freedom enticing it to take the control from my hands.

Finally, I reach the end, deciding to fold over and secure the open top before committing to the closed bottom. An extra line of security, so to speak, allowing me one last measurement before I swap my KnitPro Symfonie Circulars for a Clover “Chibi” Bent Tip.

I fold the picot in half to create a seam. This gives the undulating edge, which always reminds me of castle battlements and medieval stonework. One of these days, I shall have to substitute the bow for a gargoyle to complete the effect. As an idea, it appeals, being somewhat quirky.

I can now bind off with confidence, safe in the knowledge that I am knitting in accordance to rather than against; that, upon completion, I will not have to retrace my steps. Believe me when I tell you that casting off too early is devastating, being meticulous, painful, somewhat dangerous and repetitive. Besides, not one to endorse mistakes, holding to the belief that everything happens for a reason the exact way that it is, I would also be stuck with continuing, reinventing the purpose of the piece, item or garment in question, finding somewhere else for it to fit in amongst the plethora of things I wish to make. Sometimes successful, sometimes not: it is better with specific items to proceed slowly, holding back rather than getting carried away, even if that means ten minutes of travelling at speed on the motorway with nothing but the blur of passing cars and the straight line of the horizon (interrupted sporadically by farmsteads and tree clusters) to distract me.

*

Snug as a Kindle in a ball of wool case

One last measurement

I find my Kindle and slip it inside the case, pulling the cuff right up to the top and then a little over, making sure it is both snug and comfortable, roomy but not oversized. It fits. I can now sew up the open end and declare it finished but for a bow, which I started making yesterday and plan to complete today.

After some deliberation, I decided upon a pale blue for the bow. It went well against the colouring of the case, matching the palette within the pattern, drawing focus to it. In addition, it was more interesting than a pale or medium pink, there being a lot of that already and my having only just completed work on one of those for another piece. Besides, I like that it clashes slightly, the blue contrasting the green like two flavours of mint gum or a stripped toothpaste; they fit together, while simultaneously standing out: a bit like me and my personality.

[ A slight deviation detailing my personality: On the outside, I am conservative and painfully polite. I wouldn’t say “Boo!” to a ghost, or even have the confidence to stick around long enough to try. Dig deeper and get to know me, allow me to trust you and grow to like you, and the real me comes out: dry-witted and mischievous. When dressing, I purposefully wear combinations that don’t ‘technically’ go: putting red with pink, blue with black, circles with stripes and cotton with silk. While classical, conventional, a homage to both the Victorian and Elizabethan eras; it’s quirky and edgy because it’s different, because it isn’t currently in fashion, because it won’t be and hasn’t been for quite some time. The eccentricity of it suits me, allowing me to express myself in subtle ways, revealing only what I feel confident enough to share. On good days, I go wild, really experimenting with it. On bad ones, I reign it in, placing my feet carefully. My wardrobe is a veritable sweetshop offering a rainbow of choice. I have fun with it.]

The happy couple are united

The happy couple are united

Casting on four stitches and using garter stitch, I knitted until I had achieved enough rows to tie the length created into a comfortable bow, testing it (you can see I like to do this: test, try out, make sure before committing; it’s something that expands into other areas of my life – sometimes aiding, sometimes hindering it) before casting off. I then decorated the bow with pearlescent beads, taking care to space them evenly – one above the other, three to a row.

And it's love at first sight

And it’s love at first sight

Done, pleased with the result, this was then stitched onto the front of the case using a technique called invisible stitching: the secret, matching the colour of the cotton to that of the wool, using small stitches and stitching neatly. Anything slapdash and it will show.

Especially for you

If you would like a case of your own, please don’t hesitate to email me; I would be more than happy to make a few for the right people and price. There are easily six weeks of summer left to survive before the madness abates (see: I spy with my little i for an explanation) and I shall be clicking without interruption throughout.

I’m also planning on making iPad, mini-iPad and iPhone cases, so keep your eyes open for these links to light up as I manifest my offspring. As with here, I will be documenting my progress throughout. Interested parties can sneak a peak, arouse their inspiration and pick up a few tips – like where to get wool and what wool to get, whether to use circular or dpn needles, which size works best, how long it all takes and ideas on how to accessorise once you are done.

Below are images of the yarn that I used and links to where I brought it. If you would like to make your own case or something similar (like a jumper or a scarf) you can easily order from here. I have to warn you though: they have discontinued the line, or at least this colour run, so stocks are running out. The same stands for those of you wishing to commission a replica. While I am more than happy for you to pick a ball from the site, I cannot guarantee I will be able to order it for you. It might perhaps be safer to order the desired ball on sight and then to have it posted on to me at my residence. That way, we all remain happy, our hearts achieving what they desire.

Sidar Snuggly Baby Crofter

Wool: Sidar Snuggly Baby Crofter DK

Pretty Paisley (147) – 50g

Shade: Pretty Paisley (147) – 50g

4mm needles; 22 stitches x 26 rows, 10x10cm tension square

Needles: 4mm needles; Gauge: 22 stitches x 26 rows, 10x10cm tension square

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In Situ: Pretty Paisley (147) – 50g

Pretty Paisley (147) zoomed in

Close-up: Pretty Paisley (147)

I bought this yarn from woolwarehouse.co.uk. They are super-reliable, quick to act and prompt to dispatch and even post abroad at very little cost. That gives them five stars from me.

What colours will you choose?

So far, I have ordered one with my dog’s name (Bella) and one with my childhood cat’s (Fifi), for that reason alone. I also have a healthy collection of others and now possess over twenty different shades, although I have no idea which one is my favourite. I love them all, my preference shifting along with my intention and in line with my mood.

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Available Shades

If you would like to see them in action: my flamingo’s hair is made out of Bella, the grass in The Fairy Princess and The Frog Prince is Nessie, and the background for Angel Delight and The Chocolate Bunny is Elsie. And that’s just off the top of my head…

• see the rest of the collection
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I Spy with my little i…

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…something beginning with C

I am currently in the throes of knitting myself an ipad case, hence the ‘C’. While in Australia, I watched and admired a friend working on a cabled one and have secretly coveted my own ever since.

I searched around on Ravelry (one of my favourite sites for inspiration and the first place I go after having visited Google images and a few revered blogs and knitting shops) and finally came across a faux-cabled pattern. Much quicker and simpler than the real thing, it struck me as a good idea.

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The ‘good idea’

Passenger Therapy – like retail therapy, only cheaper

I don’t permit myself personal projects very often, except for in the car. I make art and I make gifts, only bequeathing myself when something hasn’t worked out, when I don’t consider it good enough to share with a wider audience. As it is, my presents are hit and miss, often causing mixed emotions in their recipients. I guess there are only so many hats, scarves, blankets, bags, purses, toys, baubles and trinkets one needs before they start to feel like their home is a museum to somebody else. Not everyone likes to fill a space so tightly, personal artefacts pinned and hung from every spare inch. So this is a big deal, something for me, and I am eager to enjoy it as much as I can given that it is motivated by need and necessitated by fear.

Anxious by nature, both inside and outside of a vehicle, it, knitting, is my method of transport therapy. Put me on a road cluttered with hire cars fresh from the airport and crazy locals who talk, smoke, eat and change lanes all at the same time, and I am a nervous wreck. I need something to contain me and knitting seems to do just that. Besides, I hate to be idle. My hands are rarely still, even at dinner parties. It makes for quite a reputation. But I like my eccentricity and do my best to nurture it. I have wasted too many years caring too much and holding back as a result. Looking behind me at the long list of ‘never haves’, I consider this tragic and am determined to make up for it.

Below are pictures of my progress.

A hat, a sock and a sleeve

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More like a hat than a case

Several journeys in and my case looks more like a hat than a case and I am tempted to stop here and make it into one. It’s only the heat of summer that prevents me. I would have to wait for months to use it and I don’t have the patience for such things. Besides, patience or not, I like what I see and I am enjoying the process. The design is really rather clever; so much simpler than juggling cable needles and slipping stitches backwards and forwards.

Faux-Cable:
R1-4: *p1, k3*, repeat between *s to end.
R5: *p1, sl1, k1, yo, k1, psso*, repeat between *s to end.
And so on, repeating R1-5 until you reach your desired length.

Official Cable:
R1: *p2, k2*, repeat between *s to end.
R2: *p2, k2tog but do not slip finished stitch off left needle, knit into first stitch on left needle again, then slip off left needle*, repeat between *s to end.
R3: *p2, k2*, repeat between *s to end.
R4: *p2, k2*, repeat between *s to end.
And so on, repeating R1-4 until you reach your desired length.

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It reminds me of a sock

A day later and it reminds me of a sock, a thought that makes me wince. Can you imagine trying to turn a heel and fashion a toe this big? Plus the whole thing would take ages and is far too fiddly for the car. Wrestling four needles, reading a pattern and balancing a chihuahua on your lap, all while your partner is weaving in and out, dodging and breaking to avoid near misses and dangerous drivers, strikes me as a mite bit too challenging. This is meant to be therapy, after all.

Pulling it out: the case of the case that looks like a sleeve

My hat has become a sleeve

Motoring along (pardon the pun) and my hat has become a sleeve. If I close my eyes, I can picture the jumper it would make. It would be a nice one: cheerful, unusual, pretty. Maybe my next project should be something larger and longer? If I start now, I might just finish it in time for winter. I only get a short amount of car time each day, between 30-60 minutes. At that rate, a jumper could take months. Probably better to stick to smaller things, things that I can turn out in a matter of weeks.

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The damsel can wear it

If the shoe fits, the damsel can wear it; or in this case, the iPad. I’ve taken it for a test drive, so to speak, and hurray!, it works. I am pretty yarn happy. It’s good to know my instinct hasn’t failed me, given that I was knitting in the car, away from my ipad and all means of measuring up and testing against. Can you imagine how painful it would have been if it didn’t fit, if it wasn’t wide enough? I would have cried myself to sleep. Tragic but true. I’m devastated when things fail: when the best of intentions, the grandest of ideas, the greatest of cares, backfires, and I am left in possession of a tangled wooly mess. The waste of such beautiful yarn, my time – all criminal. So much so, I usually have to reinvent it, thinking way beyond the proverbial box.

And if it was too long: going backwards would have been boring and hard. I would have made mistakes – dropped stitches, created holes, etc. I am relieved it is still perfect, without blemish or sin.

... an iPad in a case

Et voila!

“Et voila; je suis finis,” as the French would say. I’ll leave the rest of the world where it is: too much of a good thing is boring and detracts from the novelty. Besides, I’m not sure how far I would get; I never was much good at implementing languages outside of my own: my tongue is a little clingy, besotted with mother, clutching on to her hem lest she fly away.

Anyway, back to the point. We have landed safe and sound – bottom stitched together, top folded over and sewn under again; case as a whole washed, pressed and blocked, not a crease or a crumple in sight. Now all that’s left is a button to ensure safe transport to all who travel inside.

The Missing Link

Having gazed at it long and hard, both on and off my iPad, I have decided there is something missing and that the missing element is an attachment of some kind, a garnish or a flourish. And I have the perfect little design in mind.

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The perfect little design

Two days later, I have competed a bow. It took a while, as these things are inclined to do, but was well worth the effort. It completes the picture. When I showed it to a friend several night’s ago expecting some serious gushing, I was confounded by her somewhat lacklustre reply; a measure hurt by it too. It made me think, though, and that’s what led to the bow. So I have her to thank in a round about ‘you hurt my feelings and I had to seek therapy in my yarn’ kind of way. See: all’s well that ends well; we have our happy ending.

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Our happy ending

Made to Measure

If you would like a case of your own, please don’t hesitate to email me or visit me on Ravelry; I would be more than happy to make a few for the right people and price. There are easily six weeks of summer left to survive before the madness abates and I shall be clicking without interruption throughout.

I’m also planning on making mini-iPad, iPhone and Kindle cases, so keep your eyes open for these links to light up as I manifest my offspring. As with here, I will be documenting my progress throughout. Interested parties can sneak a peak, arouse their inspiration and pick up a few tips – like where to get wool and what wool to get, whether to use circular or dpn needles, which size works best, how long it all takes and ideas on how to accessorise once you are done.

A new leaf

I’m useless at taking notes and forever mourning creations that would like to have siblings but that will remain one-off’s because, their details trapped inside, I couldn’t possibly duplicate them no matter how much I desired.

It’s the same with my yarn. In failing to note the brand, the line and the lot number: I fall in love only to be denied, my passions dismissed after a casual fling.

In a bid to turn over a new leaf and save myself later anguish when you email enquiring about the specific of this piece, in search of details I have forgotten to add: like where to get faux-fairisle yarn, procure Knit Pro needles, a pattern for your beloved item – I have taken photos of the important things. I hope this will be one healthy habit that stays.

Below are images of the yarn that I used and links to where I brought it. If you would like to make your own case or something similar (like a jumper or a scarf), you can easily order from here. I have to warn you, though: they have discontinued the line, or at least this colour run, so stocks are running out. The same stands for those of you wishing to commission a replica. While I am more than happy for you to pick a ball from the site; I cannot guarantee I will be able to order it for you. It might perhaps be safer to commit to the desired ball on sight and then to have it posted on to me at my residence. That way, we all remain happy; our hearts achieving what they most ardently desire.

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Sidar Snuggly Baby Crofter DK

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Lucie (171) – 50g

Up close and personal

Lucie (171) zoomed in

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4mm needles; 22 stitches x 26 rows, 10x10cm tension square

I bought this yarn from woolwarehouse.co.uk./a>. They are super-reliable, quick to act and prompt to dispatch and even post abroad at very little cost. That gives them five stars from me.

Yarn details from the website

A snapshot from the website

What colours will you choose?

So far, I have ordered one with my dog’s name (Bella) and one with my childhood cat’s (Fifi), for that reason alone. I also have a healthy collection of others and now possess over twenty different shades, although I have no idea which one is my favourite. I love them all, my preference shifting along with my intention and in line with my mood.

image

Available Shades

If you would like to see them in action: my flamingo’s hair is made out of Bella, the grass in The Fairy Princess and The Frog Prince is Nessie, and the background for Angel Delight and The Chocolate Bunny is Elsie. And that’s just off the top of my head.

imageTo keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

• View or buy my work at my online portfolio
• Save 30% and buy from me direct
Learn more about my work and the inspiration that guides it
• Keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter