Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Instagram Addiction

Hi, I just thought I should drop by and post something here about where I've moved onto.

Not to admit I have the attention span of a Goldfish, but I seem to have moved on from my former addiction to written blogs. I enjoyed writing the occasional post, and using the blog as a way to keep me on a creative track, but I didn't enjoy the constant frustrations of the disastrous relationship Blogger shares with the iPad. Even apps such as Blogsy only part help. Of course the Apple gods did supply a replacement, in the form of Podcast app, and Instagram.

Never having owned a smartphone previously, I'd never investigated Instagram, but I downloaded the app to the iPad and once I worked it out, I was hooked. Then getting a smartphone sealed the deal. Now no matter where I am, or what I'm doing, I can check in for a quick inspiration, or share some creative insight with others. I've had much more success interacting with others on Instagram too, Blogland always felt like I was writing a private journal, never knowing if anyone read it.

As for crafting Podcasts, I've learnt so much from some very talented, and very entertaining folk. Being a visual person myself I pick up so much more from a brief video display than a detailed written tutorial. The bonus is the number of knitters that also bring the funny. I've never yet knitted with other knitters, I'll knit in public no problem, but I'm yet to cross that threshold to brave attending a knitters group - its more about my complete terror of talking to strangers than anything. Yet when I sit and knit and watch Podcasts, its feels like I'm having having morning tea with friends. So the upside is I can knit and watch/listen, when I couldn't knit and read - the downside is if I ever meet any of these podcasters in real life, I'm sure to come off as a weird stalker type who thinks she's their best friend!

So on the off chance you had been lurking on my blog previously and wanted to see what I'm upto, or if you just stumbled here today, you can catch up with my artsy craftsy stuff on;

Instagram - elkerokkas

or Facebook - Sloyd Happens

Keep crafting x 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Horniman museum

Well I found another Natural history museum for sketching in London, without the drive by tourists! The Horniman Museum, it's not on the main tourist list, so it was much quieter, but a great museum.

When checking out their website I saw a number of images of taxidermmy dogs, and I was looking forward to checking them out, unfortunately it's just one small display, and only of mounted heads. The bloodhound was the most interesting drawing prospect but he was so awkwardly mounted, side on in the end of the cabinet. The only other times I've found taxidermmy dogs were in The Natural History Museum branch at Tring, and in a University in Portugal - oh and one in the Swedish Natural History Museum which had been on display in the foyer for years, with many Swedish children believing he came to life at night as a guard dog, sweet!

There was a cabinet display for genetics traits in breeding using mice, which was just a great supply of mounted mice to draw for me.

Of course there were Hares, and of course I had to draw them.

Then finally something different, Shrews. Little tiny balls of fluff and delicate features, and the Elephant Shrew (more guinea pig size than elephant really), and looks surprisingly like 'Scrat' from Ice Age don't you think? Scrat is supposedly a fictional animal made up by the animators, half squirrel, half rat. I'm thinking an Elephant Shrew with a squirrel tail and overbite! 

The Museum is free to enter, has a large gorgeous garden/park around it, and a cafe - with yummy looking cakes. Will definitely visit this one again, and next time I'm having a cup cake too! 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Cross stitch along - January

I've joined the 'CAL' - cross stitch along, in the 'knitabulls' group on Ravelry. The design is 'Once Upon a Time' sampler by Frosted Pumpkin. The pattern is released in twelve instalments (by email) throughout the year, which I think should work well to get through it, having an achievable amount each month, rather than becoming bored or overwhelmed with it. At least that's how I'm feeling about it after month one!

I've decided to make a couple of mods, I think the January text needs to be darker (my linen is not the same colour as the recommended so that's on me), and I'm not keen on the magenta/purple in the borders. I am going to wait until further months are complete though to choose a replacement colour, I'm thinking something with a bit of metalic in it might look good and complete the look?
Now, back to knitting, I've got socks, a cowl, and two shawls to finish for knitalongs by the end of February!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Natural History Museum sketching

I decided to visit the Natural History Museum while in London, for a sketching trip. I have mixed feelings about drawing here - there's not a lot of taxidermy examples that grab my interest, and for those that do it's difficult to find a position to sketch from. As the museum is free to visit, it's always busy, and busy with many doing a 'look left look right photograph everything in 30 minutes' tour.

These 'drive by' visitors are so busy trying to photograph everything without actually stopping that they never look ahead - and I am constantly walked in to. At one stage I was moved ten feet down the room by a class of Japanese students who just ploughed into me!

I do my best to tuck myself out of the stream, but still get constantly buffeted. Usually sketching is a relaxing, zoned out thing for me, but here it eventually just becomes frustrating and I start fantasising impaling the next person to bump me, with my pencil. Which is when I leave, wondering again why I bothered.

I did manage to get a few sketches out though, and amazingly without any big bump lines across the page!

I need to seek out other museums for drawing on my next visit - with less 'driveby' tourists!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

London zoo

I've been in London this week, so it's all been about sketching and overindulging in yarn!

Feels like forever since I had a sketching trip to London zoo, so as the winter weather gods were kind (well it wasn't raining for a change). It seemed like a chance too good to miss. The sun actually shone for about 20 minutes, but even that couldn't defrost my poor fingers, I really must knit myself some flip top mittens for outdoor drawing days, my fingerless ones weren't enough.

My favourite part of a visit, always the Lions, I just love this little family at London zoo, and it's so great to see they are all still together, even though the cubs are really big now! The girls all have such expressive faces, and the old guy, is looking really old - although his teeth look in excellent condition, maybe he's not old, just a crusty weathered outdoorsy guy? If you catch him when he's sleeping in their warmed indoors room, he makes eye contact and just looks like such a gentle calm guy who would love a pat.

I could, correction, I do, watch them for hours, and sometimes if they are cooperating, I remember to sketch them. I chose to just do simple pencil sketches for the day - as I'm a bit rusty.

one of the girls was sunning on their deck

these two were crammed together on a (presumed) warmed ledge in their indoor enclosure

The big guy was snoozing tucked in a corner with his feet up the wall

Friday, 17 January 2014

December - when sanity had left the building

So I mentioned that just a couple of weeks out from Christmas I broke all promises and started knitting myself into a frenzy creating Christmas gifts.

Here's the results;
Jester Snood - Rowan pattern, in Rowan Alpaca Chunky

Alpaca chunky mittens from the left overs, super stretchy (not a great photo, no daylight!)
'Fluff' in Rowan Kidsilk Haze stripe
'I so love my big snood' by Miss Bimbamboum, in Rowan Tumble 
Rowan Kidsilk haze, Rose Brooch - my own pattern
Rowan Cocoon hat - own pattern based on Buccaneer/Nuzzle by Rowan
Wurm in Rowan Pure Wool DK - I knit three hats for this recipient before getting the 'right' one
Oh and the mittens - they're still coming. Honest. Washed and drying, then I just need to sew the liner in. Photo's to come.

That my friends, is what Christmas crazy looks like for a knitter - two weeks of needle madness!

I should have taken a photo of the couple of yarn hauls I made in this time too, but I was too busy trying to stash them away in denial. I think I'm going to have to have a serious stocktake again soon though, and buy a bigger storage bag (or really crack on with using the stash!). In an effort to keep this knitting momentum going I've been signing up to KnitALongs with Ravelry groups (mostly VeryBusyMonkey and Knitabulls). So far this seems to have resulted in a whole lot of casting on of multiple projects, but hopefully with deadlines to work to, it will result in some casting off too. The lure of possibly winning American artisan yarns or project bags is enough to keep me committed.

Keep knitting!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

December - the mostly sane part

Sometime early in December I decided it was time to really start trying to cut back my wool stash. One of the great things of Ravelry is the ease in which you can match up patterns with wool you already have - of course while doing that, days pass and you add dozens more patterns to your queue (it's not just me is it?)

So I cast on a few things from the stash;

The Dream in Stripes shawl - a simple triangular shawl, I'm using two self striping sock yarns with long repeats, and so far the colours really seem to be working well together. This is a great travel project as its extremely simple to remember the pattern, pick up and put down. So this will probably be around for a while.
'Dream in Stripes' shawl using two balls of Sock yarn
Then I got ambitious, and tried my first chart shawl pattern - Olympic National Park by VeryBusyMonkey. I love the trees. This alpaca yarn was a dream to knit with too (I think I originally bought it for socks, before I understood what qualities sock yarn needs). I started this out planning it to be a Christmas gift - but after finishing it, and learning what was involved to block it (stretch and pin it to shape to open up the design) I realised that was too much to ask of a non knitter. So it became a Christmas gift for me!

'Olympic National Park' shawl, by VeryBusyMonkey using Drops Alpaca (after blocking)

Finished on Christmas Eve! with 0 hours of decent daylight it was hard to get a photo.

Then there were Christmas decorations - using stash yarn. Thinking these would be great little quick things to add into people's gifts.

The cutest little snowmen - pattern by Mochimochi
Christmas Pud - by Sue Stratford
all so cute!
Mini Christmas Elf themed garland
Mini Ornaments
If I start earlier this year I'd like to knit a lot more of these - I think they all look best when in groups, but as they use such small needles that takes a while. Lucky I had made some felt Christmas decorations way back in January (when I was going to be organised for Christmas) and had set them aside and forgotten them till now! - I blogged about making these here

It was about this time, as the lounge room was gradually becoming overtaken by various bowls, bags, and piles of yarn, miniature mittens and snowmen, that the Christmas crazy started setting in. I tried to put it off by making a promise, well two promises really;

"I'm not going to try and knit gifts for everyone now, and end up in a knitting frenzy like last year" (when I was finishing gifts in the car park before the family Christmas catch up!)


"I'm not going to buy any more wool until I've used at least half my stash"

Fast forward two weeks, two massive yarn hauls added to the stash later - weaving ends in at 2am on Christmas Day (after Christmas Eve Midnight Mass). Gifting one mitten and three balls of wool to my BIL - much to everyones amusement at his confusion (they're nearly finished now, honest).

So I have Christmas gift knitting to post later, a pair of mittens still to finish, and a stash that's almost doubled in size. I seem to be establishing a Christmas tradition - and like many others, not a healthy one! I've joined a couple of Christmas knitting groups on Ravelry, knitters who encourage each other to start, and finish, Christmas knitting early - but for January at least, I need a break from Christmas knitting!

I promise I won't buy anymore yarn though, really.