Category Archives: News

Apple blossom time…

Apple blossom
Apple blossom

I do love this time of year, the apple trees are all in bloom here. I think that we need to invent the smellernet, the perfume from all the trees is fantastic, especially in the sunshine – when it decides to shine on us!

I planted quite a lot of them many years ago, after discovering that the huge vegetable garden that I had planned might be a little difficult, due to the lack of soil.

The field that I had intended to use turned out to have been, in the past, a stock yard, where cattle were kept. The whole area has about two inches of soil, underneath which there is about three feet of stones.

When I planted the trees I had to use a pick axe and, as there were around twenty five trees, it took me a while. Once they had their roots down the trees really loved it.  The insects love the trees and I love the fruit. As do our two dogs. They regularly inspect the trees to see if there are any apples that they can steal. Oh and the chickens like apples too, good job that I planted so many. 🙂

There are one or two rhododendrons flowering too, very pretty but no smell or fruit off them.

Rhododendron "Creamy Chiffon"
Rhododendron “Creamy Chiffon”
Red rhododendron
Red rhododendron

 

Facebook Competitions

Leaflet entry
Leaflet entry

I found out on Monday that I am a finalist in a competition. The competition is being run by the nice people at Printed.com.

The “Square Flair-Off design competition” brief competition was to design a 150mm square leaflet. I used a pen and ink drawing that I had done as the basis for the design.

Sadly for me, I didn’t read through the rules properly (let that be a lesson) and notice the fact that the final leg of the competition is being held on Facebook. Now I don’t do Facebook – just because I am contrary – so this gives me a bit of a problem.

As I am not on Facebook, I don’t have any Facebook friends and because of the vagaries of Facebook, it is unlikely that I will get enough people voting for my design. It wasn’t that good anyway…

Still if you do feel like helping out here’s the link to my entry:

https://www.facebook.com/printedcom/photos/pb.183666021710384.-2207520000.1463657142./1025425350867776/?type=3&theater

New prints on Folksy

I have been busy doing some more prints of my paintings, including the ones that other people are determined to sell without informing me!

I have also had some fun making some digital art and have listed them on my Folksy shop, which I am sad to say I have neglected for the past year or so! Still never too late…

I love animals and thought that it would be fun to create some cheerful stuff using them as the subject matter. I am using pigment inks and heavy, archival quality paper, so they should stay nice and bright for a good while!

Here are a selection:

I am now working on some prints that will be a combination of hand and digital work. I am starting off with a hand painted piece, photographing it, printing it and then adding further embellishment to each print, so that every print will be unique.

I will keep you posted on them…

They are at it again…

A Place to Live
A Place to Live

Yet again, this image is appearing on various websites, where they have the nerve to not only claim copyright of it but also attribute it to some bogus artist, not me in other words. Some are giving it away as free wallpaper, others are actually selling prints of it.

In some cases they haven’t even bothered changing the file name. I get so frustrated with this kind of illegal use of my work. If someone wanted to use my work for non profit applications they could at least ask! As for the ones making money out of it, I just hope that their karma catches up with them.

I try not to put up very high resolution images, to discourage anyone from using them but if they are really, really low resolution then there isn’t much point in displaying them at all (goes outside to scream).

OK, rant over!

Anyway if anyone wants to buy prints of this or any of my paintings, please contact me. I will be putting some into my Etsy shop, but I can’t afford to list them all just now, so if there is something that you don’t see in the shop, then contact me. I can accept payments by Paypal.

The quest for a washable inkjet print on fabric…

The good, the bad and the ugly, inkjet prints on fabric
The good, the bad and the ugly, inkjet prints on fabric. on the left, pigment ink prints. On the right dye based prints.

A few years ago, I did some prints on to old cotton sheeting, using my HP  inkjet printer, which used pigment inks.  After drying thoroughly, I was able to wash the printed fabric with very little loss of ink. Although the prints were a little more muted than those done on paper they were still very good.

So this week, I decided to do some more fabric prints. However, what I had forgotten was that not all inkjet printers are created equal. Now I am not sure if it is the type of ink, my current printer uses dye based inks, but it doesn’t give the same results. The ink washes out.

I tried leaving the prints to dry, I tried ironing them, I tried pre-soaking the fabric in a solution of alum, washing soda and fabric softener, none of which made a bit of difference.

I know that there is a product called BubbleJet Set, which purports to help you get colourfast fabric prints. Being a bit grippy, I am loathe to spend money on it as I have no guarantee of it working.

I also have concerns that, even with the Bubble Jet Set solution the prints, being dye based, might fade. I really wish that I still had my old printer 🙁

Do any of you lovely people out there have any experience of this product?

Quick Fabrics – they are indeed quick!

I just received some lovely fabric from a shop called Quick Fabrics – https://www.quickfabrics.co.uk/ and they turned out to be very quick indeed. 🙂

Here in the depths of Aberdeenshire, we get used to things taking a while to get here, sometimes it takes a week or so after ordering, when most other places will receive their stuff the next day. So imagine my surprise, when, the day after ordering it, my fabric turned up! Hurrah!

Not only that but it is really nice fabric and was very reasonably priced.

Quick Fabrics have a good range of material, so it didn’t take me long to put an order together. It’s great to find a shop like this one.

I bought some calico, for printing on, as well as some lovely thick cotton jacquard and some bright poly-cottons. I couldn’t get a good photo of the jacquards, which is a shame as the texture of them is fantastic.

Fabric
Fabric

 

Freeform crochet and another couple of cases

Freeform crochet
Freeform crochet

I have started yet another project! I just can’t help myself, I get an idea and just have to go with it.  This time it is a freeform crochet vest – what you don’t believe me? Really it will be. 🙂

I am using some dark charcoal grey alpaca yarn, some thick and thin, mid grey merino and some hand dyed merino sock yarn.

With his usual razor sharp perception, my husband said, “but it has holes in it, it will be draughty”. I explained that it was intended to be worn over a t shirt, to which I got the reply, “hmph!”

I’m enjoying myself with it anyway.

I also made another couple of Kindle covers. One is knitted from alpaca yarn and felted, with a cotton lining and cotton lace trim. The other is knitted and lined with felt. Off to Etsy with them.

 

Lots of lovely eggs…

A mixture of egg colours
A mixture of egg colours

I decided to take a photograph of today’s eggs, just because they look so pretty. The Marans pullets, which I hatched out last year,  have begun to lay and I am now getting a lot of eggs each day. When I say I hatched them out I mean that the incubator did! 🙂

The very dark brown ones in the photo are the Marans girl’s eggs. The blue ones area from my Araucana hens. I am really keen to get even more colours of egg.

I have my Araucana cockerel in with my Marans girls and I am hoping to hatch out some of their eggs this year. Any of the resulting chicks that are female should lay an olive coloured egg – the blue egg layer crossed with the brown gives olive. I just hope that my luck is better with this year’s hatching, last year resulted in more cockerels than pullets.

The other colour that I don’t have is white so I am hoping to buy a white egg layer of some sort this year. There are actually only two colours of egg shell, white and blue. The brown and tinted eggs are the result of a coating that is laid down over the egg shell during its transit through the hen’s oviduct.

Stop your apples going brown and keep your loo nice and white!

High-angle close-up of a lemon, natural source of vitamin C and citric acid, with shadow on white background

For a long time, I have used citric acid as part of my wool dyeing process but it has some other uses as well.

Citric acid is a weak organic tribasic acid. It occurs naturally in citrus fruits. Here’s wikipedia’s entry on the subject.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid

If you find that, when making stewed apples or apple pie, your apple slices are discolouring before you can get them in the pan/pie dish, then add a sprinkle of citric acid to some water and drop them in there until you are ready to cook them. Drain the water off, you don’t need to rinse, and you are good to go.

Citric acid is used commercially in many foodstuffs but don’t use massive amounts of it in cooking.  Small amounts are sufficient. As with most things too much of anything is not good for you.

I also discovered that it makes an amazing toilet cleaner. First of all I dissolved about three quarters of a cup of citric acid crystals in a litre of boiling water. After skooshing most of the water out of the toilet bowl with the brush, I very slowly (don’t want to crack the toilet) poured the hot water into the toilet bowl. I left it for a couple of hours, overnight would probably have been better though. Then I gave it a quick scrub with the loo brush and after flushing the toilet it was sparkling clean. Yay! I had previously struggled to remove the limescale in there, even with commercial cleaners.

I also chucked half a cup of the citric acid into my empty washing machine and put it on a hot cycle. It had previously had a musty smell and the citric acid got rid of that so now it smells nice and fresh!

Apparently you can also use it to make cheese, although I haven’t tried that yet.

Here’s a link to a couple of pages describing the process:

https://www.cheesemaking.com/howtomakemozzarellacheese.html

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/jul/22/homemade-cheese-recipes-fearnley-whittingstall

I am sure that there are many more uses for this stuff, please tell me if you know any of them.