Sunday 21 April 2024

...William the Whimsical Waltzing Mouse

Towards the end of last year the Instagram algorithm introduced me to the work of a wonderful artist - Rosanna Dell. I was absolutely entranced by the delightful little creatures she was making from cotton wool, PVA glue, pipe cleaners and florist's wire, and thrilled when she generously made a "how-to" tutorial for Youtube. It's my sister's 50th birthday this week, and she has been saying for a long time that she would like me to make her something mouse-themed after she saw the little felt mouse and the little needle-felted mouse that live in my mouse-house.
So I decided to make her a Rosanna-inspired mouse as a present. At first I struggled with the materials - cotton wool and sticky fingers don't mix terribly well, and I kept accidentally pulling bits off in one area whilst adding to another - but I eventually managed to produce a basic mouse shaped figure... 
...and after leaving it to dry on the clothes-airer above the dehumidifier overnight, things got an awful lot easier. Being patient and allowing things to dry between layers is definitely the way to go with this medium. Cotton wool mixed with glue actually functions like a very fine, very responsive papier mâché - it is surprisingly sturdy (though very lightweight) when it dries, and once you have that basic shape to build on, you're away. The texture is perfect for creating a soft, furry effect, and as soon as  you start adding colour (and some little beady eyes) the whole thing comes to life. Look at that plump little mouse belly, and those paper-thin little mouse ears!
I'm not sure where the idea for a daisy chain garland initially came from - although I know the "how to" aspect of it came to me in the shower one morning (the shower is where most of my best "how-to" thinking occurs). I have a paper punch that cuts little eight-petal-flower shapes, so I figured that I could glue two together in an offset position with a strand of embroidery floss sandwiched between them to make perfect little daisies, with sunshine yellow centres and delicate pink-tipped petals. I coated the 'stems' with a PVA and water mix to stiffen them up and stop them unravelling when I threaded the 'chain' together. 

The final touch was a bunch of daisies tied with a tiny piece of pink ribbon, and my happy little mouse, full of the joys of Spring was complete. 
All that remained was to have a photo-shoot in the garden against a back-drop of forget-me-nots, violets and bluebells...

...and to give him a name - because at some stage along the way it became apparent that he was a 'he' - a name in keeping with the air of solid dependability underpinning his sprightly demeanour and obvious theatrical flair... William!

Thursday 11 April 2024

...Winter into Spring

  • At the beginning of February I finished this jolly little pram blanket and popped it in the post to a family friend's new baby girl. This was such an enjoyable project, I was really sad when it ended. Since I took up crochet again in 2021, after a nearly 50 years gap, I've become quite the granny square addict. I love the way they allow you to play with colour combinations and use up odds and ends of yarn too. I think there's a bit of a retro 1970s vibe going on here with the 'clashing' purply-blues and oranges adding a bit of a zing to the raspberry pink and softer peaches-and-cream shades. I kept thinking about Play School while I was making it!
  • After the Autumn pumpkin hat and the Christmas pudding hat, the Gorgeous Grandson needed a cosy Spring hat to keep him warm through the March winds and April showers. I used this pattern and some leftover Stylecraft yarn (Pistachio and Duck Egg) to make this cute little stripy ribbed number.   
  • I've been trying to do a bit of painting and drawing lately - just doodling really, and working from memory rather than life. Sometimes photographs don't capture what I'm 'seeing' - the colours or shapes that grab my attention. This process also helps me to move away from the pressure of realism - because I'm drawing on images in my mind's eye rather than focussing on objects directly in front of me. .
  • I really enjoyed making this top-down seamless Spring jumper for the GG. It's a lovely, simple design sized for babies aged 0-24 months, and I will definitely be making a few more of these. Not least because my eldest son and his wife are expecting a baby boy in September - I'm going to be in full-on Grandma knitting and crochet heaven!
  • In March we had three nights away in a tiny cottage just outside Alnmouth. We explored Amble and Warkworth on the first full day...
...drove up the coast to my beloved Seahouses on the second day (so cold and windy that we popped the XXS Cat dog in the rucksack to give her a break from the scouring sand in her face), and then spent a happy morning at the wonderful Tynemouth Station Market on the way home. We keep talking about re-locating to Northumberland "one day", but with increasingly frail parents and the arrival of gorgeous grandchildren it's really just a pipe dream to be living North of the Angel.  
  • I started a second Nuuk jumper in January, but it languished for weeks in a half-finished state because I wanted to complete the neck ribbing before trying it on to check the body length, and I just couldn't face the neck ribbing task! I absolutely hate picking up neckline stitches because I haven't found a fool-proof way of doing it evenly enough to meet my (self-imposed) perfectionist standards. This pattern simply says "pick up 92 stitches around neckline", and leaves it to the knitter to decide how they should be distributed. In the end I forced myself to sit and count how many stitches I thought there were around the neck (102) and then did ten K2tog at evenly spaced intervals as I went round, to arrive at the required 92. It actually turned out ok (if not absolutely perfect), and was finished by the following day - just in time for the warmer weather that's no doubt coming soon! Sigh...

  • In other news the park is turning green around the edges... 
...and two odd-looking wooden mice came home with me from the charity shop this week, for the princely sum of 50p. I'm trying really hard to de-clutter, rather than continue adding to the "stuff", but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants and resistance is simply futile.