Eyes opened to stone work 

Since going on my stone carving workshop I have found myself viewing stone work with a lot more interest, and in a figent way to before. 

On holiday in Spain I enjoyed looking at the cathedrals and churches and wondering about the time it would have taken to do all the stone work. 

In an old building where I had hot chocolate I liked at the different faces of the stone walls and thought about the different techniques they had used to cut the stones to make the walls. 

And i loved going round an exhibition of the work of Jesus Otero. His first sculpture was done when he was 12

The relief figures of his family when he was 14 or 15

And he went on to make many more pieces. This was my favourite in the exhibition we saw. 

I am thrilled that exploring my own creativity has  opened my eyes to that of other people too. 

You can see more photos of Jesus otero’s work here


Colour and shape

It’s  been a while since I did any drawing of any sort, but today I felt inspired by a river I’m sitting by, and decided to use some chalk pastel colouring pencils to try to capture some of the different colours I could see in the water. 

I’m a bit disappointed that the white doesn’t show up on top as much as I wanted, and that in blending the other colours I ended up filling in more of the naturally white areas than I’d planned. But it was relaxing and calming just alternating my gaze between the flowing river and my paper. 

After I took the above photos to post on  here I suddenly wondered if I could add the gate on top using a fineliner pen. I looked at the shapes  on the gate and enjoyed following the swirls and going over them to make them a bit thicker. After I started I realised I hadn’t got the angle of the left hand gate right, but decided not to worry about it and just relaxed into adding shapes. 

I know it won’t win any prizes for accuracy, but i really enjoyed relaxing by studying this view and trying to capture aspects of it that I might otherwise overlook. It’s exciting at the moment to be working with some colour schemes that are not usually my colours of preference, but discovering that I’m enjoying them and their effects. 

In the end, whilst it looks a bit odd in the middle of the paper, I quite like the zoomed in view of my picture. 


I’ve  finished the shawl!! Yay ! And I’m really pleased with it. 

A long train journey got a big chunk of it done and then it wasn’t much effort to finish off with a double crochet border (gosh, I almost wrote single crochet then, which is despicable when I work in English terms not American!). 

Without further ado… Here are the pictures! 

Just testing its functionality!

And again, for a little bit longer!

Functionality tested, i just need to weave  in the ends and then part with it as i send  it off ready for Charlotte to keep cosy during the winter months. 

Crochet present

Last night, courtesy of Tracy’s blog post with her gorgeous pot holder pattern, i made a present for some friends we are going to visit today. 

I’d stumbled across some really pretty cotton in our local wool shop and thought the two sets of colours would look nice together. What I hadn’t realised was that she had recommended worsted wool, not the double knit i’d picked up. I seem to remember that I was meant to have learnt this lesson a short while ago?? Anyway, it works up fine in the lighter weight, I just hope it functions as a pot holder/trivet. Hopefully it will as  it has two layers crocheted together, plus a flower to give an extra bit of thickness. 

This took about 3 hours to make, and was a nicely repetitive pattern, perfect for making with some background tv. 

And a quick bonus photo for you of the shawl colours in daylight! Check out Cathy’s post for some gorgeous moorland photos. 


Dealing with ends

This evening I had a bit of time watching TV… There’s a new series of celebrity masterchef! So I could work on some crochet at the same time. I decided to tick one item off my to do list and weave in the ends on my rosie posie granny squares from cherry heart. I always find weaving ends a bit hit and miss , and just make it up as I go along. Is there a specific way it’s meant to be done? 

Having done this I now need to figure out how to join them, and I’d appreciate advice from anyone with ideas please. I really need about an inch between the squares but don’t know  if there’s a way to crochet that size of a border between them. 

Also, i don’t want to join them with one of the colours I’ve already used in the squares as I think that would look odd. At the moment i am considering pale grey. What do people think? 

I also remembered reading a blog about using bits of wool to make pretty dishes (I’m sorry, i don’t remember whose blog it was, though I’m half sure I commented on it… If it’s yours or you know whose it was then please comment before and I’ll link to it) and thought I’d try that with my ends, using the bottom of one of my pretty puffin bowls.

 Unfortunately I didn’t really have enough ends to make it very deep, so it may have to wait for more ends to be added! 

Finally, I carried on crocheting the shawl which is growing to a more decent size. Although each row takes longer to make I’m really enjoying working with this wool in these colours… It’s really soothing. The photo doesn’t do justice to the colours… I’ll try to take a photo in daylight so you can see the moorland colours better. 

Please do let me know :

How do you weave  in ends? 

Is there a way to crochet an inch join between my granny squares? 

What do you think about the pale grey, and do you have any suggestions of other colours that might work? 

Thank you all for your help. 😊

Stone carving – woohoo!

Well, I’m going to start this post with photos of what I made in a two day stone carving course, having never tried carving  of any sort before.

I’m SOOOOOO pleased with my sleeping baby fox! I can’t believe I managed to make him,  even though I had great guidance from Sebastian who led the course at Northleach.

So, for starters, Northleach is a very cool place between Gloucester and Oxford, and the centre is within the old prison, which is very cool!

We were able to work in a courtyard in the sunshine,

 but there was space indoors too if it rained. We started on practice blocks of bath stone in order to get a feel for the tools. I was still feeling a bit lost and very nervous about starting on my real block as I thought I would accidentally take too much off and ruin  it. But Sebastian said the stone is quite forgiving  and I agree. Yesterday evening my fox’s tail was attached to completely the wrong part of his body, and today it’s attached in a much more sensible place. I ended up chipping away all the ‘wrong’ area and reshaping it.

I made a rough model of what I wanted to achieve from clay,

and this really helped as I was working from a 3D shape, not a flat picture. I could pick it  up and look at angles and shapes  and then try to reproduce these in the stone. Remembering which areas of the clay model I’d had to add more clay to helped me to avoid taking away too much stone on my sculpture.

Sebastian started by telling me exactly which bits of my cuboid stone to cut away,

helping with the saw, showing me which angle to hold the tools and so on. Later he scraped  a picture of the rough shape of the head in place and told me to ‘suggest’ the different parts of the fox.

I still can’t believe this turned into my fox!

This went ok, and i worked round different bits of the fox. After a while I realised I was being a bit too delicate and could use bigger tools and hit  a bit harder. The fox gradually emerged from the stone, and that was really exciting to see.

Sebastian showing me how to use an adze
The fox beginning to emerge as i tried to take away ‘all that is not fox’

This is where I’d got to by the end of yesterday.

I was pleased with where I’d got to, though I knew I had to reshape the tail join and add shape to the head, and when I shut  my eyes last night I kept seeing different foxes and was  trying to think about the shape  of their faces!

Today i did all of that, and then smoothed him using rasps and different grades of sandpaper. 

When one of the visitors came over and ran her hand over my fox’s back I knew I’d achieved what I wanted – a curved sleeping fox  that you want to stroke! 

Everyone on the course was lovely and it was a lot of fun to hang out together, chatting and seeing what each person was doing, and encouraging each other. We all made really different things, but i think they’re all really cool. 

All of us with our work
Leaves with different textures, some carved in and some coming out

A house number carved in a harder stone

A birdbath

A very cool abstract, tactile face
A house number with a shining sun that cleverly goes round the corner
A green man

Pablo the Pelican
It was fab to meet everyone on the course and a real pleasure to meet Dan,  and you should definitely check out his new website where he’s started to show some of his photos. He’s really artistic, and it’s great that he’s going to start his GCSE art this year 

Thank you so much to everyone on the course for being so lovely and friendly. And thank you Sebastian for helping me to achieve something I would not have thought possible. 

Update – lots of different things

Hi everyone. Other than my giveaway results I haven’t blogged for ages. Thankfully it’s not because I haven’t been doing creative things, but more because I’ve been away and lost routine, and also because I’ve been struggling a bit more with my depression,  and lacking energy and haven’t really been motivated to write. I’m still struggling but I’m going to write a quick update of the things I’ve done since I last wrote, as today I went on day one of my stone carving course and I know i’ll want to write that up tomorrow and I can’t bring myself to leave out the things I’ve done in between the last post and this one. Ok, ramble over. Here’s what I’ve done. 

Ages ago I made a paper cut for our youngest niece, 

and i wanted to make something for her sister as well before I gave  it to her. As she has my husband’s old bed which is like a very high up bunk bed without the bottom bunk I thought some bunting might be quite cool. I was excited when I found janine’s blog post about her peacock pattern (how cute are her photos of her cheeky peacocks looking at things?!) and saw that she had also made peacock feather bunting. I bought her pattern and got on with making 10 feathers. 

I was going to get beads to go between the feathers but unexpectedly ended up finding perfectly coloured buttons in a teeny shop on the bath road that sells  hand made crafts. It was even cooler after that as i was going for a pedicure and when I was asked if I wanted some magazines to read while having it done I said ‘it’s  ok, I’ve got my crochet’! Boy was that good having someone massage my feet while I crocheted… I’ll do that again I think! 

So, here’s the finished bunting 

which I gave her while we were camping, so the family hung it up in  their tent, adding decoration to the tent, and conveniently keeping the bunting from getting tangled! 

After the camping trip we headed north and went to stay with aunt Joyce (who previously helped me to work out the crochet scarf pattern which had been written incorrectly). While we were with her I started crocheting a shawl for Charlotte who had put a request on her blog to swap one of her hand made necklaces for a different hand made item. I fell  in love with the beautiful unicorn pendant, and offered to make a shawl for her in return. I offered her the choice of different colours of caron cakes and finally took the wool with me to start the shawl. Once I started with a 15.75mm hook (as the pattern suggested)  I realised  this was not going to be very easy. I couldn’t figure out where the stitches were and it seemed to be growing bizarrely, and was INCREDIBLY holey. I kept going though as I had no other wool. 

Our holiday moved location again and we had a few days in saltburn by sea. I was so excited when we went on the pier and saw this!

While I was looking up about the yarn  bombing on the Internet I came across the Facebook page for a yarn shop just in the town, so i dragged Mark there to see if I could get a nice chunky wool to try on the shawl instead. Once there the lady in the shop helped me realise my rather humongous mistake with the caron cake as she looked at the pattern and said ‘oh, you need SUPER chunky for  this’. Hmmm…. Rooky  mistake? Not actually reading what sort of wool you’re meant to use, and assuming a wool you have will be fine? Oops! 

Anyway, she didn’t have any super chunky wool but something that was still rather chunky, and a slightly smaller crochet hook. So I hoped Charlotte wouldn’t mind the change of colour (she doesn’t!) and went for it. 

It’s cool as the wool is called cotswold chunky, and the colour name is painswick, which is the village we had our wedding reception in, and the colours are very reminiscent of the north Yorkshire moors we went through on a steam train while on holiday. And funnily enough, the stitches were a lot easier to spot now  the wool had some body to it, and i was able to follow the pattern properly, increasing the rows quicker than in my previous attempt. It’s gradually growing but I might have to take it on a train journey next week to get a load of it done in one go if Charlotte is to get a chance to wear it this autumn/winter. 
OK, we’re nearly there! On our way home from Yorkshire we called in on some of mark’s friends. David has his own pottery studio and i was offered the opportunity to have a go at throwing a pot. I obviously leapt at the chance! I actually ended up trying to throw about  4 pots because the clay either ended up flying off the wheel or I ended up breaking the rim of the pot. David was very patient with me and helped me to finally get it right (or at least end up with something that looked like a pot). I don’t have a photo of the finished item, but here’s a picture just to prove I had a go! It was tricky getting the feel for it, but definitely something that improved with practice and that I’d  like to have another go at sometime. 

And one other bit of creativity… I went to puzzlewood with some friends of mine who were staying. I’d never been there before but it was the most amazing, magical place… Apparently a place that helped inspire JRR Tolkien’s middle earth. My friend’s 10 year old daughter and I had a fab time making up a story as we walked through, pretending we were on  a quest to defeat the evil dragon in dragon ravine, with the help of a golden oak leaf as we travelled to find the ‘hidden words of wisdom’ (her awesome phrase). We ended up crossing rivers of lava and the sparkling river of peace that had wish granting fish in it, as well as passing the bottomless drop, and villages of elves. It was a real fun time working out the story together and just seeing what we came up with. Here are a couple of pictures to whet your appetite. 

OK. That’s me up to date for now (obviously not as quick a post as I’d thought!) … You’ll have to wait till tomorrow to find out what I’ve been up to at stone carving!