Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy holidays!

Time to put our feet up and enjoy some festive cheer - if you aren't already:) Happy Christmas / happy holidays to everyone. Best wishes to all of you and enjoy the holidays! I'll leave you for now with a little snippet of White Christmas. Still haven't managed to watch it yet but I will!!! So let's sit back and sing along..... ' I'm dreaming of a white christmas......'  Ah, perfect! :)

Happy Christmas to you all, with lots of festive love, 

elaine x

Friday, 23 December 2011

150 Hawaiian flowers - all done!

Hurrah, Hurrah! At last the Hawaiian flower blanket is done - finished, complete! Woohoo!!! And all that time I put it aside thinking it would take ages to complete, it only took a week to finish. Nothing like a Christmas deadline to move into ultra fast crochet mode, lol! I decided to stop at 150 flowers and make this a small bed/lap sized blanket. I arranged them 10x15 for a balanced rectangle and each flower is about 10cm wide so overall measurements approx 1metre x 1.5 metres. The pattern is Hawaiian flowers by Sarah London and is so simple to do.

Although I chose a bright and colourful palette for my niece, a lovely subtle colour combination would work well too. Mmm, imagine charcoals, powder blues, or a subtle warm ochre palette - yum! I found the higher the contrast in colours for the last two rows the better the flowers popped. And the more I did the better I got at choosing the right colour to finish each flower off. I did lay out the flowers first before that last row so I could get a good balance in the blanket overall. Then I piled them up in order, in rows of 10 and linked them together as I went.

The linking is really clever too. You make a little picot loop at the top of each flower petal and use that to link the flowers in place as you go. So no ends to sew in, and it looks great. There is an issue with only linking the tips of the flowers - it doesn't give the blanket much strength as a whole - as in a bit floppy ;) But if you accept that this is just meant to be a decorative overblanket and not a sturdy throw, then it's all good. I have seen a version where they stitched the petals more firmly together but the flowers lost their curve and become more angular points which I didn't like much. As a blanket, the bigger it gets the more solidity it gains so.... something to consider. The edges seem the most vulnerable but you could consider a solid border. Personally I like the floaty fragility of the fairy petals:) and a good press on the wrong side once finished and the flowers lie flat nicely while retaining the final chained ridge for definition.

So 150 hawaiian flowers done at last. I put this on my king sized bed and it only covered about a third of the length but all of the width. So if anyone has the staying power to want a full sized bed throw, then it would have to be about 15 x 30 flowers....... 450 flowers??? Ummm, maybe not, lol! I'd get too bored. Look how long it took me to do just this size;))) But if you were wanting a tv project for the new year then this one would be a good contender. Easy and fun to do, simple pattern and very visually effective. The instructions are very simple to follow so you know exactly where you are at every stage - which is good if you put it down for a while and then have to refresh your head to remember exactly what you were doing:)

Right, now I think it's time to relax a bit and enjoy the build up to Christmas with a wee drink and some nibbles - and maybe just another Christmas movie or two..... have to watch White Christmas and the Muppet Christmas Carol to feel that Christmas is truly here!

 elaine x

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Encapsulating textiles

Catherine Carr glass
Came across this lovely artwork on my travels this week - crochet and knitted lacework trapped in glass. This mixing of medias is something I thought about a while ago when I shared a workspace with a glass artist friend. It seemed to me then that the fusion of thread and glass couldn't work as the fibre would burn out in the high kiln temperatures, leaving only a ghost impression if anything at all so I abandoned it regretfully. But now, wow, this glass artist has perfected the fusing of the two. And how lovely her work is too.

Her website gives us a little information on her processes:

"Catherine Carr Crochets & Knits with Glass.
Each piece has been individually knitted or crocheted by hand. They are then heated and manipulated through several firings at a very high temperature, eventually emerging as a formed glass vessel. Because of this hand crafted process, all the pieces are original and individual with no two being exactly the same.

By applying these traditional skills to an innovative process of recycled glass products she produces beautiful and delicate lace structures in which each individual stitch can be seen and where the openwork design casts striking dappled shadows."

The problem for textiles has always been one of strength for 3 Dimensional forms and for my filigree vessels I've played with wire as a core, varnish, pva, starch and am now considering resin - with varying degrees of success. But if the delicacy could be trapped in glass..... well now, that's a whole new avenue to explore. My mind is awhirl with the possibilities!

Now just how does she do it?? If anyone has any ideas, please do contact me while I go and ask my glass artist friend if she has any solutions:) If I find out, watch this space;))

elaine x

Friday, 4 November 2011


One lucky day

I've been thinking a lot recently about where my work is going. Creatively, makers are always analysing their work, developing and refining ideas as they go, progressing onto the next exciting path that suggests itself and fires the imagination and creative juices. Maybe me more that most? As I do love the journey just as much as the outcome, hehe:) On reflection, I think I've spent most of this year seriously considering the 'why' of making, doing what I do. Not that I could stop - no! It's too much a part of me, who I am, but more a question of are you doing what you really want to do - truly, honestly? You can be enjoying the creative journey but suddenly realise that you are still compromising on the dream. Still not having the perfect 100% fit that suits YOU, that unique individual creative path that is just right for you. And ultimately that is the point of being creative, being true to yourself, the 'why' to creating, whether it's music, art or the written word, that connection from the soul.

Not that what I've been creating is not me - it's all an evolving process - but it's more like I'm changing my perceptions of what my dreams are, or who I want to be as a creative person, and my ideas for my work are correspondingly changing too. Like stepping outside the box and realising it's just one box layered inside many other boxes :) We do so many things in life on automatic - grocery shopping lists that don't really vary much, the food we cook - our habitual routines tend to get somewhat fixed, rather than thinking about what we would like to be eating or doing with our creative time. And on a larger scale, actually looking at and considering what you truly want out of your life. The gradual realisation that you need to get out of any ruts and recognise things that are holding you back from being the most authentic self you can be.

Which can lead to all sorts of interesting thoughts like what really are your dreams and aspirations as well as those more damaging ones that creep in like self critical thinking about time lost, self sabotage, blinkered vision, lack of self worth or self belief - all negative and not helpful to the positive mindset you need to be truly creative in the first place. But it's good to take stock in life, and sometimes change is needed to help get out of those self-imposed ruts:) I like to think this means I'm gaining a little maturity in my thinking rather than having a mid-life crisis :))) 

Well, this post went off on a tangent I wasn't expecting! All because of synchronicity. I was reading a post today about why we blog and how the balance can get skewed where we end up serving the blog rather than it being a means of expressing who we are - another habit, another rut to lift ourselves out of:) Interesting reading if you are a maker and a blogger. And synchronicity because it occurred just as I have been considering artistic direction and giving things a good shake up;) The consideration of why do I blog has now added to the thoughts of why do I make? And more importantly who am I making for? Me or the market? Am I compromising my dream accordingly? It's that old chestnut any artist/maker considers at one point or another and my answer has always been that the work should reflect your passion, your uniqueness and that love will come across in your work. Keeping the faith that with skill, uniqueness and a little market savvy, your work will sell because of the heart and soul in it. Maybe idealistic to some but that's what I think it has to be for me anyway so I don't feel I am compromising myself or my work.

Ok, lightbulb moment - I've just answered my own question about blogging:)) And the same philosophy applies to the bigger picture as well. How to live your dreams. Sometimes I make it more complex that it really is and discover I knew the answer deep down all along. Now I've just got to master the trick of recognising and being authentically true to myself!

It will be interesting seeing how this affects the direction of my work, life and my blog;) over the next wee while. I've been blogging less - you may have noticed! - when there was no work to show or little creative mojo going on, which, to be honest has been most of this year, on and off. And I miss blogging, talking and interacting with you all. So, times they are a changin:) Maybe less actual work to be shown at the moment but there is more to talk about here than just that - fab work others have created that is truly inspiring, inspiration from many people and places, maybe tutorials, as well as music, films, sunny days and hot chocolates, and the odd philosophical musings and meanderings on life (which turn into very long blog posts:)

Thank you for listening my friends ;) I would love to hear your thoughts and musings on this too. Till next time, elaine x

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

eeny, meeny, miny, mo


I've been doing a little re-organising of my room this week and as usually happens, I found a bag or three of unfinished knitting projects stashed away. I've been slowly working through my unfinished projects so I kinda knew these were lurking around but now all the accessories like bags, gloves and socks are complete, all that's left are the biggies. The garments. There are 3 tops sitting there in various stages of completion - Durrow, Jaden and Vivian. 

Maybe this time I will get around to actually finishing one of them. With my track record, I'm being realistic sticking at only one:) And maybe, just maybe, I'll get on a roll and finish them all? Stranger things have happened! Each one is at a different stage. Vivian above is quite a complex pattern and I know the reason it got stashed was I made a mistake in the cabling so it will require ripping back and a lot of patience to fix. Either that or just start again. I was reluctant to take such drastic measures last time as it took me sooo long just to get that far, lol! Now, it seems less relevant so maybe I'll start again. It would probably be quicker than tinkering with all those cables and moss sts. But then, I do like a challenge.... :)


Durrow, on the other hand is nearly finished. Both front and back panels of rib are done and I only need to complete the sleeves. The sleeves are a lovely fine cabled celtic looking design which should be fun to knit and as it's a chunky yarn, hopefully quickly too. Strong contender for first back on the needles.


And Jaden. This lace top is more of an autumnal/fall knit so I really should be wearing it now. It has nearly both sides done but I messed up the pattern decreases on one. I can't remember if this meant I had to take the second lace panel back or whether I had past caring at that point:) Would be a strong contender except I feel guilty that this is the only one I was knitting for myself and I really should get the others done first. Maybe I'll indulge it as second on the list.

Right. I've decided....... Durrow it is. Needles to the ready!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Happy stripes

Dearie me! I'd completely forgotten to blog about these other stripey gloves I was knitting. I think the last time I posted about these was last november - crikey! I didn't realise they'd been on the needles for quite so long! Well, about time they were finished and had their ta-da moment:)

They are based on the same pattern as the previous stripey armwarmers but I decided to make more work for myself and add fingers as well. And I do like how the little blocks of colour have worked out visually. The fingers are a little neat on the stitch count using the given pattern but as I have small hands anyway it worked for me. If you wanted to add some more sts, you could cast on a few more on either side of each finger as you start to knit in the round. Will work out nicely that way.

The yarn I used for these is Wendy's Happy - capricorn colourway. The colours are lovely and it self stripes so not too many ends for changing colours on the whole. I had to cut the colours for the fingers to get much smaller sections of colour so lots more ends to sew in around the fingers - which with this being a bamboo and nylon mix isn't so good at hiding the threads. I also found it made the fingers feel a little constricted where the threads were too. Not so happy with that aspect so something to watch out for next time.

As much as I love these colours, I don't think I would use a bamboo mix yarn for a gloves project again. It seems obvious that gloves need a little elasticity to fit but also to hold them up on your arm and with bamboo that nice give is missing. In fact, it's annoying. I'm finding the gloves have a tendancy to slide a little down from the elbow and after a good bit of wear look a little baggy. Not the desired look really! A wash would reshape them or a damp spray and shaping but I've been warned that this yarn has a tendancy to lose a lot of its colour intensity in the wash so I'm reluctant to try! All that lovely colour down the drain - I think I'll try a damp spray just in case! That and some hidden elastic thread around the cuff;) Just a thought!

Despite all that, they're still going to be fun to wear this winter. I still have 2 x half balls left so maybe a scarf in the pipeline? Hmm, maybe a textured chevron stripe? Suggestions anyone? Righty-ho, off to have a gander through Ravelry to see if anything takes my fancy.

Back soon! elaine x

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Time for a little catching up on projects. There are quite a few finished or nearly finished things going on at the moment that I haven't shown you yet - like these stripey armwarmers. They've been finished since last christmas but I just hadn't got around to taking photographs - sad but true. I completely forgot about them until I wanted to turn this pattern into gloves. The yarn is Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball - tropical colourway  - and it really is as bright as the photo - yum! I do love the graduating colours and the contrasting stripe effect. So much so that I think these will stay mine instead of a present :) Bright and cheery gloves are a must when the colder weather is drawing nearer - although I'm not dwelling too much on that thought for now!

There is a slight difference in the colour blending if you compare each glove closely but I actually like the difference. Maybe not technically perfect but it gives them more character I think. Wow, me saying I can live without perfectionism, lol! Take note, it might not happen that often:) The alternate stripes are achieved using the same ball from either end starting with a strong contrasting colour - the aqua and the orange. This means though that somewhere along the line the colours meet. I did have to edit the where the two colours crossed over so yellow didn't meet yellow coming the other way but I just broke the yarn and took as much as I needed out to get back to a decent contrast again - hence the slight difference on each glove.

The pattern itself is a basic 4ply armwarmer shape with 2 regular decreases every 6 rows down to the wrist. I used a pattern designed by Brigids Hearth which you can find here. I chose to have a rib cuff at the top and a roll top edge at the fingers but you could have whatever you wanted really. I've now tried the roll top edge instead of the rib on my pink gloves - which are to follow soon - but it doesn't work that successfully, needs a bit of grip to hold it in place. Heyho:) We live and learn!

It's meant to be sunny tomorrow so maybe good light for more photo taking of new works in progress. There's a decorative crochet panel I'm toying with as well that I'm itching to develop further so I'll keep you posted on its progress as I go too. 

Thanks for popping by today, 
elaine x

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Whole lotta knitting going on....

The weather has been truly appalling this week so I've been indoors a lot planning and designing more than working on existing pieces. And although I could sit comfortably in the living room with a good film, I tend to find sitting at my computer with a decent space to put all my bits and bobs is more conducive to getting me in the creative ideas mindset. Kind of like a workstation where I focus on just work. It also helps that I can play music, browse Pinterest for new images and share them with you on my new facebook page - and probably check facebook and e-mails more than I really need to. But it's all part of the creative process, isn't it? :)

Also this weather reminds me that I can't really pretend there is anything left of summer :) and warmer, snuggly knitting is creeping back into my making list. This little project is just an experiment into the construction of armwarmers and the use of graduating colour, primarily using stripes. I love the contrasting colourways and how such a simple thing like changing proportions of colour can dramatically affect the whole look of the finished piece.

The three gloves above are all based on the same pattern using fingering weight sock yarns. The front two are Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball - colourway tropical fish, and the back pink/purpley striped yarn is Happy - capricorn colourway by Wendy. The wendy is a bamboo/nylon mix and it turned out much bigger and has no elasticity. Such a bad choice for gloves that should stay up your arm! But they look good so I'll keep them for myself. If anything they won't let me forget that lesson - probably every time they slip down, hehe.

But they are quite quick to knit up if you are using a pre-striped or graduating yarn. And no ends to sew in! The pattern is just a generic armwarmer/long glove pattern for 4ply/fingering yarns with regular decreases but what I'm really interested in is how I can take this form and manipulate it into something completely new construction-wise as well as playing with colour. And dyeing some graduated yarns specifically for this, of course:)

But the dyeing will have to wait a few days as all this rain has flooded the shed again so everything has to dry out before dyeing can recommence. Not a big worry though as everything is already up off the ground due to this happening at least twice a year, lol! But on the good side, I can stay nice and toasty inside and take advantage of the time to design some more. Who knows what will come out of it? I don't know either but it will be fun finding out;)

Back soon, elaine x

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

La Belle Helene on Facebook

Sometimes there are just so many interesting things out there that don't seem to make it into a blog post - inspiring photos, tutorials, blogs, artwork, costume, pattern, design, architecture... So many things inspire us to create, experiment, explore and develop our ideas on the path to finding our own unique individual creative voice. So I've been busy these last few days setting up a new facebook page that pulls together all these elements - things I come across on a daily basis that inspire, excite and feed the creative journey for me. 

It's been interesting to discover I seem to need both outlets creatively - the blog gives me the opportunity to go into much more detail about my work, the processes, techniques, materials and experimentation I enjoy whereas the facebook news page is more like little creative bulletins of inspiration, links, daily work updates etc.

It is also a great forum for conversation, discussion, sharing our creative thoughts together too so I'd love it if you could pop over and join my page so I can get to know you all and share the journey with you ;) If facebook is not your thing, no worries. My blog still remains the heart of my creative journey where I can document my progress, my thoughts, my ideas and development - with you. The facebook page is more of a daily creative resource if you feel you'd enjoy following:)

You can find the like button and page link below or use the facebook box in the sidebar. I look forward to seeing you all over on Facebook!

Friday, 26 August 2011

lace inspiration

Lace parasol  - created by Lenta

I've been browsing a lot online this week and keep getting drawn to the gorgeous lace designs that are out out there right now. So I thought I'd share a few inspiring projects with you that have taken my fancy. First, this beautiful parasol on Ravelry - I love how it uses such a simple motif to achieve such complexity in the overall design. And, of course, it makes me want to try and deconstruct the pattern so I can gauge the tension and construction elements to create a new design of my own.

You may remember I attempted something like this not so long ago and after several attempts of working out the tension for the filet, clusters and shell sts, it got abandoned and now sits languishing in a corner. But now I'm fired up again and ready to have some hooky fun. I think I should have used the proper crochet cotton  as the sock yarn gave it a fuzzy look, not crisp and clean like I wanted so I'll have to rummage and see what I have to get started. Anyway, it will probably take me a little while to work out the pattern construction, which gives me plenty of time to get some cotton and do a bit of creative dyeing too. Yay!

Spanish peacock shawl -  by MandaKR

The other beautiful design I found was this fine 2ply lace shawl  - just wow! The actual pattern is designed by the amazing Meg Swanson called Spanish Peacock Shawl and this version is just stunning. I've always appreciated these circular shawls but haven't been tempted to make one till now. But I should really be thinking about making presents for that major event at the end of the year - don't want to mention xmas quite yet:) Not when I'm still hoping for a little late summer, lol! Still, this has jumped pretty much to the top of my to-do list. 

Now, let's work out that crochet lace - chains, clusters and most importantly tension:) see you all soon, hopefully with a little more regularity than the rest of this month!

A happy, creative day to you all! 
elaine x

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Following your muse

                                                                                 Source: via Elaine on Pinterest

Quote for the day found on Pinterest - no link to original owner to give credit but lovely!

This little quote typifies my week so far. I've been having a good physical and mental creative clearout - having a good hard look at my working and thinking habits and deciding what should stay and what should go. Quite, quite liberating. I mean, who knew I had so much fleece but haven't done felting for years? Do I still want to and would it matter if it wasn't there any more? Answer - YES. So what's stopping you getting around to felting? No organised space. Ok, no space you say? Then we have to make do with what we have and think carefully about how it is used.

So that's what I've been doing, cleaning house so to speak and deciding what stays, what is stored and what isn't needed anymore. Granted the last pile isn't that big as I know I WILL use most of my materials and equipment again, even if it isn't right now. The trick is squeezing it all in the space I have without overstuffing it but still having enough room to work comfortably. It feels like trying to put a duvet quilt back into its original packaging once it's been opened and fluffed up - damned tricky:)

I think if you are a maker, becoming a hoarder of materials comes naturally - especially if you use a lot of mixed media. You end up collecting bits of everything that could be interesting to incorporate into a collage  someday:) Ribbon, buttons, old keys, luggage tags, fibres, yarn, fleece, pressed leaves, beads, wire, fabric scraps, letraset, stamps, ..... And equipment! - heat gun, sewing machines, knitting machines, looms, dye pots, wax pot, etc.... It all builds up and takes over your house, shed, loft :)

But it's the mental clutter it creates as well. It's good to know you have an arsenal of creative skills under your belt but sometimes it can cause confusion when you want to start a new body of work or get back into the swing of things again. That and the fear of becoming a 'jack of all trades, master of none'. If I spend all my time switching from one technique to another, then am I sacrificing that time when I should have been becoming proficient in just one skill? And then I remember, that is who I AM, work with it:) I am becoming proficient at being creative in my own way that is unique to me, so don't even give it another thought. NOPE!

It's a bit like a creative identity crisis from conditioning by society and creative teachers at college. They give you a framework that you should fit and I always remember thinking 'this model doesn't feel right for me' but you carry on persevering 'cause that's the way the creative process should be. So years later, you carry about old labels and images of yourself in your head - I'm a weaver, no, a knitter now, no, a teacher, no, a mixed media artist.....When I really should stop trying to shoehorn myself into a label. Creativity doesn't fit nicely into a labelled box, it tends to slop all over the sides and organically morph into new combinations and ideas. And that's what is so great about it. Following your muse and seeing where it takes you - the techniques and materials are just tools to get you there. Why not be all of these and more? Shrug off all that old conditioning and be who you are meant to be.

So what I really learned this week was that I am a patchwork of my creative experiences and although I probably don't need 4 or 5 knitting machines right now, I do need to make the knitter, designer, teacher, artist, part of the new creative me on the next stage of the journey. Sometimes a clearout helps you rediscover some jewels that have been lying hidden for all those years:) Time to use them and see where the muse takes me.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


                                                                     Source: via Elaine on Pinterest

Been playing around with Pinterest - a lovely online site where you can look through and save inspiring photos to your own pinboards. You can look through others collections, be inspired by photography, architecture, interiors, costumes, jewellery, artwork, textiles, colour, fabrics, yarn..... oh the list is endless! So that is where I've managed to lose a lot of time this weekend ;) It's also free to join, just click the invite button then look for the e-mail to join in your inbox. Then you can start pinning lots of pictures. This is addictive and to be honest I would have been on longer if my computer wasn't so slow processing the pages of photos. (anyone else have this problem? Interested to know so I can maybe stop blaming my computer if you do, lol!)

This pic took my fancy as a simple but lovely project for lights. As long as the bulb isn't too hot, I'd say this should be beautiful and practical. I love the see-through silks, just lovely. You could paint or dye your own silks too and it doesn't have to be patchwork, although I do love the boldness of the larger sections in these. Or you could cut-out sections filigree style, lacework dyed and stitched together? Mmmm, lots of ideas ;) Unfortunately there is no mention where this originally came from on the web so I can't give credit but passing on inspiring photos such as this here and through Pinterest is credit well deserved.

There is some making going on behind the scenes but nothing far enough along to show as yet as I'm spending too much time online looking at inspirational photos! A bit of decent light for photos today and I should have some Finished Objects to show you that for some reason haven't managed to get onto the blog as yet - like the lonely sock and some yummy stripey armwarmers. Also feel some pattern writing coming on...... not had that mojo for a while. Let's see where it goes today! Bye now!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Musings on a rainy day

It's raining again but it's a softer kind of mizzle - mist/drizzle all wrapped up together. The cars are swishing by through the puddles, sounds outside are quite muted and it has a quiet, soporific feel, inviting you to relax for a bit in a comfy chair with a warm cuppa. I'm wondering if there is a good film on that I could lose myself in whilst comfort knitting. Might have to get out the dvd's and find an oldie....

You know what I really feel like doing today? Spinning. Out of the blue, not planned, and it's not as if I really need to start anything else new with so many things already on my to-do list. But it seems to fit this afternoon perfectly. I'll have to dust off the spinning wheel as it has been quite a while. In fact, there is a roving still being spun on it so that should be rectified immediately :) So I'm going to follow my muse today and just 'be'. I always find spinning quite meditative - keeping the hands busy whilst letting the mind wander off wherever it likes.

So a nice pile of roving to get stuck into. Now, just need to put the kettle on...... what does it matter if it's raining when there is good fibre yumminess to enjoy?  Back soon with some spun yarn maybe? Enjoy your day!

Saturday, 16 July 2011


Creatively, actual making has been a bit thin on the ground this week as the re-organisation of tables and working space carries on. But I don't mind as it's giving me time to consider just where my creative input should be focused on. There is something so refreshing about a clearout - it gets you out of habitual thinking and allows you to look at your work and ideas with fresh eyes. Colour palettes, techniques, materials, we all have old favourites we fall back into using without always considering why or if it's the best choice. So I've been browsing my books, researching ideas and surfing online to find new inspiration to add to the creative melting pot, so to speak. And on my bookshelf was this book I re-discovered  'The Painted Quilt' by Linda and Laura Kemshall.

I featured this on my blog when it first came out - oh, 2007?? Yikes! But I still feel inspired every time I pick it up and get lost in the visuals. The combination of print, stitch, dyeing, colours and layers of visual language are just sumptuous and so distinctive in style. It made me realise that I love working with all aspects of markmaking - the texture, colour, layering, embelllishment, relief - 2or3D, fabrics, papers, experimentation, building up complexities using mixed media. And as much as I like my filigree vessels, they don't convey as much to me as these textile pieces do. It's the process of discovering new things that attracts me more than the outcome. I know all this about myself but sometimes being visually reminded is a good jolt back onto your true creative path.

I came away feeling full of inspiration and possibilities which lead to me realising my workspace didn't cater for messy materials like monoprinting or mixed media, hence the clearout and prioritising of space. Synchronicity has a lot to do with this too as I got offered two sturdy wooden tables for my workshop just at the same time. Of course I had to say yes :) A girl can't have enough messy worksurface in her shed! But something as simple as a change of furniture meant I had been unconsciously limiting myself creatively before then due to my lightweight 'that will have to do for now table'. Interesting how just a few changes open up so many possibilities.

So if you are feeling in a rut creatively, maybe a re-organising of your space or work habits will get your creative juices flowing again too in new and more exciting ways. You just never know where the muse will take you!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Red poppies

Well, back inside today doing a spot of tidying up and re-organising my work space - commonly known as procrastination! - since the sun has decided to disappear and the clouds are making everything look grey and cool. Not summer at all! So to remind me of the sunshine, I thought I would show you these lovely red poppies that appeared in the garden this year. A neighbour down the road has some ginormous poppies in their front garden and I can only think the wind has kindly blown some seeds our way to give us these beauties. We've had so much wind and rain these last few days though, I was frightened the petals would be blown off before I could get out there with my camera. But I was lucky:)

Three out so far and loads of buds waiting for some more sunshine to bloom. One of these would fill the palm of your hand easily and mmmmm, the colours! I feel a purpley-red yarn begging to be dyed just looking at the centre detail and the intensity of that red. Now, what could I use that for???? Mind is whirring with possibilities!

I thought I'd wander around the garden to see what else has come out in bloom over the last week. Mostly the bright orange lilies which are settling in their new home very well this year and have many more flowers waiting to open too. Funny thing about these lilies. I split the overlarge original plant last year and planted two new plants further up the garden. This one above has kept the strong orange colour but has a much more complex flower centre - a double lily even, a flower within the flower.

You can see it better in this close-up. But the second plant has done something strange. It is a much simpler bell shaped lily with paler colouring and distinctive markings. Both the same plant, honest! It must be the soil or that one gets less sun than the other? But it's really interesting how plants do this - fascinating.

Now I just have to wait for the mother plant to flower now to see which genes the children have inherited :))

Well, back to tidying and actually getting some work done. Quite a few things to show you on the needles at the moment too so back soon with something stripey.... :)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Filigree circles

As promised, I have photos of the filigree circles vessel for you :) Although it still needs some more height and more considered shaping when I get nearer to the top, I think it's working out quite well so far. I didn't like the randomness of the dyed yarns at first but it's growing on me more now when you see it all assembled in the round.

A wee bit closer for you. Each side of the circles has a distinct look from the crochet chain. In the last vessels I deliberately matched like for like and then decided which side would be the 'right' side but I've decided to mix them as another layer of textural interest going on. It's amazing how more relaxed you can be creatively when you've already decided that this is a tester so it doesn't have to meet the standards you automatically set yourself - and it's working out so much better because of it. So everything is a tester from now on :))

And a lot closer now;) Circles within circles. You can see a bit more of the crochet definition and the graduating colours in this one too. I am still mulling over whether I like the 'perfect' circles the wire creates v's the more organic circular shapes created without a core.... practical support v's aesthetics.... but why not room for both? :)

And the last one using the light to create shadow circles on the table. So far this is a simple vessel/bowl shape but I think it has the potential to morph and grow into so much more. Thinking of lots of interesting 3D forms..... Thank you everyone for your supportive and helpful comments here and on flickr. It really helps me along the creative path as I develop these ideas of mine.

Let's see where it goes from here, shall we?
elaine x

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ongoing circles....

Just a quick progress check for you to see what I've been up to the last few days. The last time these crocheted circles made an appearance was away back at the end of february. Seems such a long time ago now. But I've been working on them on and off, crocheting and stitching away slowly, building up ideas and enough circles to make something with. This piece is more of an experiment - with a different type of wire (fail), with the length of dyed repeats (...maybe), and using families of regular circles to create the overall look. Mixed results so far.

It's not been in a hurry to emerge this one, just quietly ambling alongside all the other projects that have quickly come and gone. This month though, it has suddenly looked as if it is 'progressing' which gave me a spur to get working on it again! It's beginning to take on a 3D form and I've been taking newer photos today, playing with the form, light and shadows again so we'll be able to see them soon.

But for now, you can see the work in progress - my messy table! It's still not finished, still morphing and giving me new surface and 3D ideas which I'll have to get down on paper before I forget them:) - I think  more time has gone into my ideas sketchbook than on the final piece so far:)) To help maintain its 3D shape it will need a bit more height and since all these circles in the photo are now used up, it could well be time to get back to creating wire circles and plan a little more crochet.

I'm also getting the urge to dye more yarns to use for these forms so lots planned for you to see soon :)

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A long rambling walk

The sun is shining and the day is so beautiful that I just couldn't stay inside for another minute! Today, I decided, is a day for a lovely long rambling walk - with camera in tow. It's a truly mild, balmy day with a little breeze to stop you from getting too hot or sunburned so perfect really. So outside we go away from all the noise and people and absorb nature's ambience:) Want to come?

In real terms, this lovely place isn't far from my house, I can see it from the window - so no travelling needed, just across the road, and down a wee lane and then you can wander and enjoy. In Cornwall there are a lot of old mining sites with pools and engine houses now merging back into nature, softening the stark industrial look these places would once have had. Now this man made lake is a haven for a huge array of birds, butterflies and plants. More like a nature reserve really. I always think this engine house would make a perfect artists studio - think of all the light coming in that top window space! And the view! Shame it's a listed heritage building!

Moving a bit to the left of the building you can see the reed beds and nesting places of the multitude of birds - except there wasn't a bird in sight for the camera today. I think they were enjoying the balmy breeze and soaring on the warm thermals. Can't blame them:) I can hear the buzzards crying way up high and some seagulls have come inland a bit too - noisy lot!

Back on our walk, we move away from the lake and climb up the hill to the top to see the view. Don't have a panoramic button on my camera but from here you can view Cornwall pretty much 360 degrees. Past the moorland, rolling over the checkered fields and trees and way into the distance. To the left is the south coast towards St Austell, to the right you can see St Agnes and Newquay. In front here, you can see very faintly the hills and dips looking over towards St Ives and Lands End. Beautiful. I stopped here for a bit and just enjoyed the peacefulness of the place.

After dragging myself away, we follow the path back down and along, passing banks of gorgeous Rosebay Willow Herb. I love these flowers and remember them everywhere as a child. They just seem so colourful and expansive, filling their space in the world. Hardy, robust but delicate all at the same time. I would have this filling my garden if it wouldn't take over and submerge everything in a world of pink!

We pass more and more pink and I finally manage to get a close-up without the wind blowing madly. I think it was deliberate:) Every time I would click, a gust of wind would suddenly appear to blur the photo. But I got one! Right beside the last place I want to show you on my little walk - the pool.

Hidden away off the track is another pool, surrounded by trees and has the feeling of an undiscovered treasure. You have to wade through a lot of bracken and brambles to get here but it is so worth it. You feel enveloped as if you have entered a secret safe haven. It's very peaceful and there is little noise other than the drone of bees visiting the flowers. Sigh of contentment. I could sit here for ages, just watching the water ripple or listen to the trees gently rustling in the breeze. It reminds me of 'Swallows and Amazons'  a book I used to read when I was young, where the characters played on the water in small wooden boats with bright red sails, camping on the shore underneath the trees in an idyllic childhood of bygone days. This pool so reminds me of how I imagined that story all those years ago.

And then the world re-asserts itself and it's time to go home. Back through the bracken and past the lovely pink hedgerows, past the lake with its reedbeds, noisy seagulls  and lonely engine house, with everyday noises increasing as you go. Soon the path rejoins the rest of the world and we are back home again, still savouring our little adventure. Just what you need to recharge your creative batteries ready to get going on some new work and ideas.

I'll be back soon enough though, to enjoy it all another day:)


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