Friday, 27 February 2009

Photography, 1956 style

Just for a change, I put away the D80 and put a roll of film in an Agfa Silette L that has been in our loft for years. I'm not even sure where it came from. The focus ring was completely stuck and wouldn't move, but a blast of hot air from a hairdryer sorted that out! The shutter sticks on B and 30, but at 60 and 125 it's fine. I had a wander around taking photos of random things, but I can't post any of the photos here because they haven't been developed yet! Remember that - having to wait on the film to be developed before you could see the photos? Sometimes I think it was more exciting in those days... Apparently this camera went on sale around 1956, and I think it looks very cool.

So since I have no photos to post, I drew this with my graphics tablet and Photoshop. I'm still learning but it's huge fun.

Why I wish I had lots of money.

I have tons and tons of work to get through today for a Portuguese presentation I have to do next week. So I've spent the last hour coveting everything on the Anthropologie website. Look at these lovely things! I can't afford any of them but it doesn't stop me drooling.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Thursday musings

I stumbled across a lovely blog today: Decor8. It's so pretty. There are too many photos of pretty houses on there that make me realise I live in a hovel.

Between it and Apartment Therapy, it's made me decide that our living room has GOT to have a makeover. I want to paint the whole thing white and have red and white curtains and sofa and other stuff. My poor husband has agreed to help with the painting... I shudder to think about the inevitable white painty paw prints that will be all over the house before we've finished.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Another calendar cat to save my sanity

During a moment of confusion and desperation involving our new accounts system, I took a minute's break to scribble today's calendar cat in order to stop my head from exploding. For some reason my scanner hates it.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Thing a day - broken AGAIN?

It's been more down than up over the past few days, and it's not letting me post a photo tonight so I'm posting it here instead to remind myself to try the TAD site again tomorrow.

I was going to post another doodle from my new Wacom tablet but I didn't get to finish what I started (and it's awful anyway), so instead here's the progress of my second husband-sized sock. The boring ribbing is done, the heel's done, the stitches are picked up and I've started on the gusset. It's easy and pretty mindless from this point on. He'll have toasty feet by tomorrow or Wednesday.

Oh and my dad wants some now too... perhaps I should open a sock factory. I wonder if someone would pay me what I get paid now to sit and knit socks all day... it'd certainly be an improvement over my current job!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

EDM #211 - and a few observations on Quentin Blake.

The current Everyday Matters challenge is "In the style of..." (or as Jim so aptly put it, "plagiarize your betters") and most people are being very brave and taking on the masters - I've seen Da Vinci, Charles Rennie Macintosh etc, as well as a lovely Beatrix Potter tribute. Well I immediately thought of my favourite illustrator, the fabulous Quentin Blake. Having been a Roald Dahl fan since a very early age, I grew up with the images of Blake's Charlie, BFG, Matilda et al and I really don't think there has ever been an illustrator with such an immediately recognisable style. His scratchy, childish lines are just so distinctive. But it's only recently that I've looked a bit closer and noticed that while the drawings are simple and childish and apparently rushed, there's a lot more to them than that. Everything is in proportion (unless it's supposed to not be). His use of perspective is spot on. And he spends more time on them than you'd think at first glance. He describes his work process on his website. The facial expressions are the best bit. And (at least in the Roald Dahl books I've read, which is probably all of them) the illustrations look exactly how you'd imagine the characters to be. The more I look at his work, the more I love it and want to buy every book he's ever illustrated just so I can look at the drawings.

I will never ever ever in a million years have a fraction of Blake's talent, but for the purposes of EDM I did try and emulate his style. Sadly I don't think I was very successful, but I did get a chance to play with my new toy - my husband bought me a graphics tablet even though it wasn't my birthday or Christmas so I am a very happy bunny this weekend! (Hey Husband - I know you'll read this so THANK YOU again, I love it!!) I really need a lot of practice with it though, it's quite different to 'proper' drawing.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Sneaky doodling

I was not in the mood for work yesterday at all and had a very unproductive day. Here's a sneaky doodle I did of a giant ladybird, with some ballpoint pens (biros), when no one was looking.

Today I will be good and not doodle while I'm supposed to be working, and I will also drink less coffee than I did yesterday (I believe it was seven cups).

Monday, 16 February 2009

An elephant and a cat (and the loss of another cat).

My lovely workmate Jacky lost one of her cats to cancer a couple of months ago. On Friday, she came home from work to find that her other cat, a 16 year old Persian so obviously no spring chicken, had collapsed and was struggling to breathe. She rushed him off to the emergency vet only to find that his kidneys had failed and he had to be put to sleep. Poor Jacky was devastated. The cat who had been with her since he was a tiny kitten and it was him she cuddled up to during a horrible marriage breakup, so it's not surprising really. Anyway, I wanted to cheer her up a bit so I thought I'd crochet her something. Not a cat, because that might make her too sad, so instead I remembered that she loves going on holiday to India and made her an elephant. This little fella is tiny - less than 3", and as yet has no name. He was loved by his new owner, which is just as well because I found it quite hard to part with him!

I also did an EDM challenge today (number 185 - draw a cat). On my desk is a tiny cat calendar and during a very long and very dull task this afternoon at work I had to take a break before my head exploded. So I did a very very quick sketch of today's cat, using the first pen that came to my hand (a cheap ballpoint) and the back of some scrap paper. Here he is along with the calendar page.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Things and stuff.

What have I been up to since my last post?

Well... I've been crocheting again, and I have a new crochet book. It's Tiny Yarn Animals, by Tamie Snow who is the brains behind Roxycraft which is a website anyone who's into crochet will no doubt recognise. I hoard amigurumi books but seldom actually follow the patterns because I find most of them too big, and I really prefer tiny little toys. Tamie's book, as the name suggests, is full of patterns for tiny little animals and they are all cute enough that I actually want to make them. I made this hippo for today's Thing-a-day. He's from a pattern in the book but of course I abandoned the pattern and did my own thing after a while. My husband named him Gregory - why I have no idea, but I think it suits him. I also learned how to do an invisible decrease from PlanetJune today - it's absolutely shocking to think that I've been crocheting for this long, and I own so many crochet books that no doubt give instructions for this, and I never knew it existed till now. And it makes a huge difference.

What else? Well yesterday was Valentine's Day, but my husband is a very vocal hater of the greeting card industry. So instead of buying him a card I drew him a picture. I should explain that he's a big Resident Evil fan, and also happens to work for a very well-known videogames company who make a certain zombie-filled game. And he is definitely better than zombies (although I do like zombies too).

He did get me a card though - the first year I've one that said "wife"!

Instead of going out and paying over the odds for a meal in a packed restaurant, we spend the day in the V&A, which is one of my favourite places. And I did an EDM challenge when I was there, which was #38 - draw in a museum. Unfortunately it didn't turn out as I wanted. It was very busy and people kept walking in front of me and blocking my view, and eventually I got annoyed, scribbled a few very rough details, and left in a sulk. This is a bust of Charles II and I'm posting a photo of the original beside it - can you tell the difference?

My second life drawing class was on Friday and it was as enjoyable as the first one. We moved on to using different 3D shapes to represent different body parts - cylinders, spheres, cones etc. My drawings are still not looking all that much like actual people! It was very very difficult to get half decent photos of my drawings, due to the lack of light in this apartment. I ended up having to put them on the floor and rig up a tripod (my husband's awesome Manfrotto that I wish was mine) so it was kind of kneeling over the paper, then using the brightest lamp we have as sidelighting and using a remote release to get a long exposure although I think I ended up using flash after all. And the photos are still absolutely terrible even after some photoshopping! There must be an easier way!

One thing I am happy about is that having upgraded to Photoshop CS4, I can finally shoot in Raw, which is making me want to go out and photograph everything.

Finally, the socks are done! Not only that but I've actually worn them out and they haven't fallen apart, and are so comfy that ordinary socks now feel rubbish. I've started another pair for my husband in some lovely blue yarn.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The roaming gnome returns.

I've been participating in the Roaming Gnome swap on Craftster, and today my gnome Filbert finally made it home. He's been to Marburg and Waiblingen in Germany, and Texas and Florida in the US. He even got to go to Disneyland! Lucky gnome. Here he is with all the stuff he arrived back with. He also had an album and CD full of photos, all of which I've uploaded to Flickr so I can look at them and remind me that my gnome has been to two countries I haven't been to myself. (It's true, I've never been to the US. One day though.)

He arrived with some goodies from Disney and I caught Pokey trying to steal them - have you ever seen such a guilty looking cat? Or come to think of it, it might be anger. "Whatchoo lookin' at? It's ma stuff."

My Thing-a-day today was a tiny little amigurumi bird. I thought these would be nice for Easter but I want to tinker with it a bit and make a slightly fatter one. I plan to write up the pattern and post it here in case anyone would like to make one for themselves. I've been playing with Poladroid a bit, which I think is very cool in a Lomography sort of way, so the little birdie got the polaroid treatment and I also tried out the new font I made with my own handwriting (make your own at this website, it's free and very easy).

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

EDM #189 - razors

I got home late tonight so didn't get time to do anything much for Thing a Day, so I thought I'd do an EDM challenge very quickly and use that. This is a five minute sketch including colouring in so it hardly even counts! But at least it's a drawing, right? It's pen (the first one I picked up) and watercolour pencil.

Monday, 9 February 2009


I finished my sock! I can't believe it's done. It was so easy in the end. And it fits absolutely perfectly. I brought it to work to finish it off at lunchtime and I felt like a celebrity, everyone had to come and look at it and marvel at the magic self-striping yarn and give it a bit of a squidge. Now I just have to make another one... I've cast on already but I remember all the tiresome ribbing from the first one, that was the least fun bit. Here's some stuff I got in Walthamstow on Saturday. There's a fabric stall in the market that I've got a few bits and pieces from before, but they seldom have anything out of the ordinary. But this time they did!

Corduroy with button print! I got the end of the bolt, which wasn't much, and some of it is going to a swap partner but I'm keeping enough to make myself a little purse or something.
And this... this?

It's velour, with a very unusual print! I couldn't help but buy a metre of it even though I have no clue what to do with it. Any ideas?

And I picked up some books - there's a new cheapy book shop which has 70% off everything, so I picked up a couple of books in there, and another one for a pound in a charity shop. Because you can never have too many books, right?

All in all I think it was a pretty good haul, and the whole lot, fabric and books, only cost me about £12!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

People are boxes. And a growing sock.

On Friday evening I had the first of ten beginner's life drawing classes.

It was a cosy little group of about eleven of us, which included the teacher's partner. Apparently she's been coming to the classes for years to help out with the setting up and tidying away, and making tea in the break, but never actually done any drawing. And she thought it was about time she tried it out.

Some people had lots of drawing experience, and others (like me) had almost none. But we all started from the very beginning, which meant drawing great big white wooden boxes stacked on top of each other at weird angles, and then trying to see the human body as a series of cubes - one for the head, one for the torso and one for the pelvis, and we had to draw the model in various poses represented by these cubes. It was a lot harder than it sounds. Homework is to draw several printouts of old masters' drawings using this cube business.

There was an outstanding variety of tea and coffee to to guzzle, and very very impressive biscuits including some gorgeous coconut things with jammy middles. I think you can judge the quality of a class by the biscuits provided. Loop in Islington is another place that gets a thumbs up in this department.

Here's some of the boxes stacked up - the first exercise we did. It was about thirty seconds per sketch.

And these are some of the "people boxes". I actually had to do a couple of "proper" sketches of the model to work out which way her pelvis was pointing as it wasn't always immediately obvious.

And just to totally change the subject, in my second ever blog post back in December of last year, I posted about sock knitting. My very first knitted sock, in fact, and how I had just started and had always been scared of sock knitting. Well since that blog post, I never ever picked up that sock again. Till today, that is. And now I'm almost finished! All the hard bits are done, and I'm wondering why I ever thought they were difficult. I only wish I'd finished them before we had this awful cold weather so I could have got the benefit from them!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

A sketch for Thing a Day

Here's a bloke I saw at St James' Street station today. We were on the way back from shopping (the stuff I came back with will be the subject of another post, it was a fruitful shopping trip!) and I saw this poor guy shivering and rubbing his hands together to keep warm. My life drawing teacher says we're to keep an A6 sketch book on us at all times, the idea being that A6 is so tiny that you have no excuse not to carry it around, and I actually had mine, so I did a quick sketch of the bloke in about a minute and a half, and coloured him in when we got home with my lovely Derwent watercolour pencils.

I really have to make the effort to carry the sketchbook around. And actually USE it, it's not going to fill up with drawings when it's in my handbag. It's a lovely sketch book, one of these, it deserves to be used.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Watercolour class

I've been meaning to post some pictures of the stuff I produced in my watercolour class. The idea was to practice techniques, and specifically wet into wet technique. We weren't allowed to draw AT ALL. No pencils, no pens, very big brushes (mine was a size 14, other people had even bigger ones), wet your paper in the shape of the thing you're painting and splodge lots of paint into the wet bits and hope for the best. So while these pictures are somewhat ugly, I didn't feel too bad about it because everyone else in the class produced ugly paintings too. I'm going to try and post these more or less in the order I did them. I should say that I had to shoot all these using flash because there is no light whatsoever in our apartment at the moment. Look at this photo, you can just about see outside. Isn't it disgusting? Pokey thinks so.

Practising the various techniques

We had to paint some stuff using only blues and browns.

Colour mixing - blues and browns again

A banana

An apple that was nice till I spilt water on it and ruined it

A blue jug and a yellow vase thing, that I didn't finish

The same blue jug and a red pepper, again unfinished (ran out of time)

Onions (homework - I used some gum arabic for this)

Some glass bottles, an apple and an orange

A BIG painting of a blue glass bottle, some weird peppers and an unshiny metal teapot that went a bit wrong.

Oh and bonus cat picture - if you put anything on the floor in our house, a cat will magically appear on it within ten seconds.

My life drawing class starts tonight. I can't wait. Apparently there are ten people in the class, so it's nice and small, and we'll be told tonight what materials we need to buy, so I'll have an excuse to go to an art shop at some point over the weekend (as if I needed one).

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Totoro, Totoro...

I saw the Miyazaki film for the first time the other day and it's a wonderful lovely gorgeous film that everyone should watch. But apart from loving the movie, I wanted to crochet everything in it. But for starters, here's a quickie shrink plastic charm I made for Thing a Day. I use embossing powder to give a sealed, raised finish. It's used in card making mostly but it works a treat for making shrinky dinks look professional too! This looks a bit odd in the photo... weird reflections and the coloured pencil is a bit patchy looking. But in real life it's very cute :-) Tomorrow I will be digging out the grey yarn and seeing if I can make something that looks like a Totoro.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Happy apple friends!

Yet again I had loads of homework I was supposed to be doing, so naturally I put on CSI (the local library has all the box sets; I've got a lot of catching up to do) and grabbed a hook to make a happy green friend for the happy red apple.

I'm trying to find time to make something every day for Thing-a-Day, which I signed up for and am really going to try and make the effort to post something as often as possible. The idea is that you create something every day - even a little thing, even if it's only cooking from scratch or doing a doodle - and post it.

I haven't done an EDM challenge for ages. Maybe tomorrow night I'll try and do one.

I was looking at my blog at work today and got a huge disappointment. It looks perfect on my Macbook, but at work I'm using a 1028x786 resolution and it looks all big and weird, and you can barely see the polka dots at alll. It should look like this:

If it looks different on your screen, please please let me know. I might have to fiddle with the code a bit.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Is this a kind of nesting?

We all want a pretty home (or at least most of us do, my husband has no interest in a pretty home much to my annoyance). My home is a one bedroom flat, and it's too cluttered to be pretty. We just have too much Stuff and too many Things, all of which are absolutely necessary and cannot be got rid of. I do try, and I'm determined to sort out the clutter as best I can until we can buy a place of our own. I get very jealous when I look at blogs like Posy (a lady who lives in Devon and has the most beautiful house, which is filled with lovely things. But in the meantime I thought I'd redecorate my 'other' home - my home on the web. I made some polka dots in Photoshop and played with the banner a bit, and changed the layout. I like it. Polka dots are always good.

I miss doing web design - that's what I trained in, but as there were no jobs back home, I ended up working as a legal secretary was is not exactly my ideal job (to say the least). Technology has moved on a lot since I finished college in 2003, but I'm determined not to let it bypass me altogether so I've acquired a hefty but unintimidating book and plan to play around with CSS and hope it's not all completely beyond me.

I'm making a happy green apple to be a little friend for the happy red apple! I'd have finished him by now if I didn't keep looking at other people's pretty blogs and coveting their pretty things.

This post needs photos, so here's a bee I crocheted a few months ago!

Monday, 2 February 2009

So much stuff, so much secrecy.

I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. No, I'm still here, and I've been busy, but annoyingly almost all of what I've been up to is for the European Swap Fest on Craftster, and I daren't post photos of any of it in case my partner sees. I'm really having to stop myself though, because I love the stuff I've made and have put lots of thought and effort into it, so she better like it! And I'm taking photos of everything so I can post it once she receives.

We were snowed in today. Well, not snowed in exactly, but unable to get to work because if a snowflake falls on a railway track in London, the whole city grinds to a halt. But everything looks so pretty in the snow, and it was the heaviest snow in London for 17 years so it was quite impressive. Here's the view from our window.

Snow is quite difficult to photograph at the best of times, but when you're hanging out of a first floor window and holding an SLR in one hand trying not to drop it, and hanging onto the window with the other hand so the wind doesn't whip it out away and smash it against the wall, it becomes even harder!

What else have I made that's not swap-related... well I made some sweeties. Beijinhos de coco are typical Brazilian goodies, and there are various recipes, but I used this one that was posted on Craftster because it didn't call for eggs as many of them do. These things are gorgeous, super easy and very moreish.

Then yesterday I was trying out ideas for the swap and got it into my head that my partner might like a pincushion. I have a book, Pretty Little Patchwork, that's full of really pretty things but I'd never tried out any of the patterns, so I thought I'd try out a lovely patchwork pincushion pattern from the book. The instructions weren't working out in my head, so I cut out some scrap fabric that didn't even slightly match or go together, and sewed the thing together, and it turned into the ugliest, most hideous and nasty pincushion that has ever been created. Seriously, look at this. Ewugh.

The button was a last minute addition to see if it made it any less ugly. It didn't. I can't believe I'm posting this thing on the internet! I'm going to cut it up and reclaim the stuffing to use on something that isn't horrible.

Finally today I got it into my head that an apple with a face would be really cute, so I dug out some acrylic yarn and a crochet hook and whipped this little thing up during an episode of CSI. Can you spot which apple isn't edible?

I love it! I'm going to do another in green to be a little friend for him, and they can decorate my kitchen. I might write up a pattern, if I thought anyone would want to make one.

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