Saturday, 28 May 2016


As a change from sketching and sewing I've been doing some crocheting recently.  I used to love knitting but gave up when Bob announced he didn't like the clicking of the needles.  Crochet however is silent with only the one hook so when I saw a dress on TV recently I decided to have a go again after many years of inactivity.

I managed to get a photo of this dress off the television as it was being modelled during the London fashion week last year.  It took me a while to work out how it was constructed and to design my own version of the wheels.

Here is the original drawing from my sketchbook where I tried to resolve the armhole shapes and what to do on the hem.

After half a dozen variations I came up with this simple wheel which I could crochet in about 15 minutes while watching TV.

As I worked  started to join them together in strips of 5or 6 wheels with the aim of joining them longways later.

Progress was quite quick and I even took the yarn, a cotton and acrylic mixture, and my hook when we went to England so that I could carry on working while we visited mum.  I think I ended up with about 70 wheels before I finished.

I started joining up and designing the armholes and neckline and finished off with a few fill ins to straighten out the curves and the hem.  You can see the result at the top of the post and I've already worn it out a couple of times and got some nice compliments too!

And finally, the latest of the flowering shrub drawings, a rhododendron, one of several different varieties in the garden.  There is a gap now till summer gets going and the buddleas and hydrangeas start to flower so I'll be back with more pictures then.  My mosaic picture won't get finished for a while, maybe about Christmas time when everything has finished in the garden!

Saturday, 21 May 2016


Week two of my flowering shrubs and the garden is still looking wonderful.  This pink azalea comes out in time for my birthday every May, there are two plants with one in front of the kitchen window where I can see it whenever I'm at the sink.

This is spread 3 from the little sketchbook looking around the garden.  There are always magpies flying around and keeping an eye on us although they are very nervous and fly away even if they see us moving  indoors through the window. 

I love this Pieris Andromeda plant, it's over 6 feet tall now and has never been pruned so it's a lovely natural shape reminding me of Japanese gardens.  The leaves have now turned from peachy apricot to pale yellow and lime green.  The flowers came out at the same time this year but they are far too complicated to draw!

This ground covering plant was here when we bought the house in 2002 and has been propagated many times as it's a good gap filler and seems to survive whatever I do to it!

10 years ago I bought one of these Mexican orange blossom shrubs and it was well worth the money as I've made lots more plants from the original.  They are dotted around the garden and covered in fragrant blooms at the moment.  I pruned them in August last year instead of October and it seems to have encouraged a lot more flowers.  They will need a good haircut later in summer again as they will soon be too big for their spaces. 

Another view from the terrace where on the left you can see the second azalea, which has now been blown about by the wind this week and the flowers have started to go brown.  That forsythia under the sycamore tree is a ray of sunshine for a couple of weeks in April just before the leaves open out on the tree above.

This is another shrub that came with the house.  It's just inside the entrance to the drive and seems to flower for at least half the year.  It has grown from a small shrub to a tree now and I keep the lower half free of branches so Bob can mow the lawn next to it.

Saturday, 14 May 2016


Since we returned from our English trip Bob and I have both been suffering with heavy colds and chesty coughs, totally knocking us out for over two weeks now.  We managed to get the grass cut but that's about all we've been able to do in the garden except sit and wish we had more energy.

Fortunately we had a spell of lovely warm weather and I was able to sit in the garden and admire our flowering shrubs which are at their finest at the moment.  So I got out my new tiny tinted paper sketchbook and started to draw what I could see from my deckchair.
This got me thinking and I decided to count just how many different flowers there are in the garden at the moment and I came up with 15!  Some of them like the Camellia at the top have been flowering since January.

I decided to make a new mosaic picture to put in a large frame we have hanging on the stairs with a Dali print in it at the moment.  Not feeling well enough to do anything energetic this seemed the perfect project to keep me amused for a couple of weeks.

So every day I've taken a stroll around the garden and picked a couple of flowers to draw or paint.  I've used lots of different coloured papers and media, although the Museum pencils are the favourites being so easy to use.

It's quite a challenge to make each picture look interesting and not just 'a flower' and some are more successful than others. What do you think?  Botanic drawings or graphic designs?
 Each drawing measures 13.5 centimetres which will give me 20 in all when the picture is finished.

This one was quite difficult as the flowers are halfway down the stem, hidden in the leaves and the peachy pink is a hard colour to mix with crayons.

I quite like this one, the flowers are all over the shrub and it was fun to take it over the edges. 
By the way does anyone know the name of this one?  My neighbour gave it to me a few years ago and it's brilliant, flowering most of the year and even surviving serious pruning when it gets too big.
I'll finish today with the second spread in the sketchbook but I'll be back soon with more pages and flower drawings. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016


Today, May the 3rd, is my eldest granddaughter's 21st birthday and I have decided to share with you some of the portraits I've made of her over the years.  This is the latest from a recent photo taken at her university classics ball.

I will always remember the day she was born, the tension as we waited for the news and Justine worked hard to give birth to a 10 pound baby! 
This picture is from a cute photo when she was 6 and had made herself a grass necklace.

 Aged 11 and she's already wearing glasses like the rest of the family.  She is very good at art and I've got a file of her drawings done when she and her sister Stephanie came to stay with us.

Kirsty loves music and she became a good flute player by the time she was 12.

Aged 13 and now at a private grammar school where she was moved to prevent the bullying she had been receiving at the state school because of her red hair.

At 14 she's very confident now and proud of the wonderful auburn hair she inherited from her father's side of the family.

At 16 she's doing very well at school and passes all her exams with flying colours.

At 19 here, Kirsty is studying French, Latin and Greek at Exeter university, I think she's inherited the language skills from my mother who lived and worked in Sweden and Poland and picked up the languages very easily.
It's been nice to travel down memory lane with my first granddaughter, I hope you've enjoyed seeing my portraits too!
Happy birthday Kirsty! xxx