Finding a Creative Buzz

One of the difficulties with creative activities, whether it’s printmaking or painting, knitting or sewing, calligraphy or writing blogs, is coming up with great ideas and completing a project. The initial ideas need to be exciting enough to spark the project and compelling enough to see it through to a finished piece.

Sometimes we can’t come up with an idea that’s inspirational enough or we give up because we start to question the worth of our project. Katherine explained her lack of recent blog posts: ” … It’s not that I haven’t thought about it – or been without topics to write about. It’s more that I have questioned the whole raison d’être of personal blogs …. the internet seems so crowded … who am I to add to the general digital busyness ….”

But just recently, I’ve found a new creative buzz for generating ideas. Ruth has devised some new printmaking courses that Beth (with assorted offspring) and I trialled for her. One of the first things we had to do was fill our concertina sketchbooks with washes, spatters, doodles and dribbles of ink. Quite honestly, I could happily have spent all day just doing that.

sketch of hens, pig ark, flowers and farm machinery

Next, we were sent to four places on the farm where we had to to make quick sketches. Guess what? Places are far more interesting than you might first think when you look properly!

farm track and field viewed through a circle

Or look differently. Usually, I miss things because I’m walking at a brisk pace and even when I’m looking through the camera lens, I don’t see the obvious. Thankfully, the task was as much about looking as sketching. Try it for yourself.

For another course, we had to think about lines and use our sketchbooks for mind maps, sketches and thoughts. Have you ever stopped to work out how many sorts of lines there are? Railway lines, roads, threads, music scores, ley lines, skylines, family lineage, poetry, storylines … so many lines. Everywhere.

Our sketchbooks filled with colour and energy as we spent time developing various themes, sometimes going off at a complete tangent in our enthusiasm and we explored different ways of recording what we’d seen and the objects that we’d picked up. By the end, our books were bursting with collages, prints, sketches and notes that have a multitude of possibilities for all sorts of creative projects and my head is still positively buzzing with creativity.

So much buzz, that I managed to complete this post!


O to be in England

O to be in England

Now that April’s there,


Robert Browning

I’ve been sorting through a pile of books and came across two poetry books, each with a poem for every day. I have a fancy to use these books as a prompt for doing something creative each day, though I know it won’t be every day and I’ll probably lose enthusiasm after a while. Or when I get to a difficult poem.


‘Home-thoughts, from Abroad’ by Robert Browning is the poem for today, which seems absolutely right on such a beautiful April day. Late April into May is surely one of the best times of year to be out in the English countryside and the fields here look green and fresh, despite the lack of rain (total so far across the whole farm for April = 1 thimbleful). If you plan to visit England, this is the time to come.


There’s colour all over the farm. Weeds, blossom and wildflowers make a colourful contribution to the table.


That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,

Walk across the fields and birdsong fills the air. Rifling through a heap of paper discarded from printing sessions I thought it might be fun to make some collages in my sketchbook, inspired by the poem and my walk today. Turns out that it’s way more difficult than it looks.


How about you? Enjoying England? Wishing you were here? Or enjoying being somewhere else?

Diary of a Frugal Knitter (continued)

October 2018

Decided to knit blanket with spare and unravelled wool. Recorded progress here and was asked “How wide is 600 stitches?” Hurriedly took out tape measure and rather upset to find blanket was 3 metres wide. How ridiculous.

November 2018

Knitted several rows while pondering problem of blanket that is too wide. Wondered if it could be used as bedcover. Calculated required length approximately 250 centimetres. Chance of completing – nil.

December 2018

Blanket continued to grow slowly. Still undecided how to remedy width problem. Shut blanket in cupboard during Christmas festivities.

January 2019

Opened cupboard while searching for something else and surprised to find blanket therein. Took out and resolved to deal with size problem. Had brainwave and decided to cut blanket in half and join two pieces together in more sensible way. Unsure how this would be achieved but knitted one row with middle section in stocking stitch to mark steek.

February 2019

Skipped off to Australia, all thoughts of knitting abandoned.

March 2019

Picked up knitting needles again. Happy that bulk of knitting kept knees warm on cold evenings, particularly after recent basking in Australian sunshine. Slightly perplexed to reach section of stocking stitch. Remembered decision to steek just in time. Slow progress because it’s so wide.

April 2019

Very little unravelled wool and half-used balls of yarn left. Decided to stop knitting.

Googled “join two pieces linen stitch knitting together”. No results found. Tried inventive re-wording to no avail. Ravelry and Pinterest unable to help. Tried sewing together with Kitchener stitch but couldn’t fathom how to do it with two colours and Knit 1 Slip 1 stitch configuration. Attempted several variations. Unsuccessfully.

Knitted two more rows as end stitches had become raggedy where sewn and unpicked. Also gave a bit of thinking time.

Decided Three Needle Bind Off may be easier having read “… great time saver because you bind off and seam together with no sewing…” Searched vainly for instructions for Three Needle Bind Off in linen stitch. Worried (slightly) that method would make obvious seam on back of blanket but past caring. Had stab at TNBO, with no slipped stitches. Tried matching knitted stitches with slipped stitches. Undid and knitted two more rows as end stitches looking raggedy again.

Finally worked out that TNBO had to be knitted in same way as previous 56 centimetres of knitting. Doh! Decided seam on back not as obvious as envisaged and hoped that join on front will loosen up with good press.

Had forethought to run line of long stitches down length of blanket to mark middle section not marked by stocking stitch. Very unusual to plan ahead like this (see above). Started snipping down middle. Realised that embroidery scissors not suitable for job even though they were near and handy. Found pair of large dressmaking scissors that made light work of cutting.

Briefly considered leaving ends to unravel on their own but thought it more prudent to tie them off and make knotted fringe as on outer edges. Tedious job that may take many evenings to complete.

The end is in sight. Should be completed by time weather turns cooler in autumn.

Spring Enthusiasm

Before the April showers begin (as they surely will), I’ve been making the most of the sunny spring weather with long walks and gardening. I’ve also been enthused by the E-Book “How to Find Creative Inspiration” and the project #Make30photos to spend time idling about outside in the spring sunshine. The E-book has lots of ideas for getting out into the real world to find ideas and inspiration (instead of scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest) while the themes listed in Make 30 Photos encourage us to “Make your photos, don’t just take them”.

As ever, I’ve muddled the two together in my latest enthusiasm to  build a creative habit. Obviously, I may have a completely different enthusiasm next month, but for now I hope that the discipline of doing something creative for thirty days (not necessarily in a row) will form a lasting habit.

Photographing a clump of stinging nettles for Fill the Frame with Colour led to a little creative baking of  …

Nettle, cheese and chive scones

… a batch of Stinging Nettle & Cheese scones. Delicious cut in half and buttered while warm. Pretty tasty cold too. Especially with a slice of ham.


The advice to “Let your mind wander”in the E-Book section Take Time and Make Time  has been rather too easy while “… mindfully notice things” coupled with photographing “A Snail’s Eye View” led to a pleasant time crawling around with my camera in the grass paddock, hoping that I couldn’t be seen from the Yoga Studio.

It wasn’t until I looked at the photo on my computer screen that I noticed the ladybird under the deadnettle leaf, so I need to open my eyes and look a little more closely in future.

Even I couldn’t fail to see this chap lurking in the field as I nearly trod on him. Possibly not the ideal view for a snail lest it gets gobbled up.

It’s fun working these two little projects in tandem and I’d recommend them both to anyone with the tiniest creative urge.



* Read this article to find out the best time to make stinging nettle scones. Hint: Now

Diary of a Frugal Knitter

January 2018

Decided that house move necessitates major evaluation of clothes. All hand knitted jumpers scrutinised. Any of unsuitable colour, fit or style set to one side despite the time invested in knitting them.

In fit of frugality,  decided to unpick all seams, unravel jumpers and reuse wool to make new jumpers. Got carried away and also unravelled small knitted blanket, made with wool unravelled from crocheted blanket and consequently slightly too small to be of use.


March 2018


Moved large quantity of unravelled wool to new home. No frugal knitting undertaken.


April 2018

Decided to tackle unravelled wool. Realised that wastage when dismantling jumpers meant insufficient wool to make new ones. Briefly considered making sleeveless pullovers to overcome wool shortage. Swiftly remembered that I do not need sleeveless pullovers.


wool dyed with crab apples

Missing knitted blanket so resolved to make replacement with unravelled wool and half used balls of wool from various knitting projects and previous foray into natural dyeing. Assessed wool and determined that colours and quantities unlikely to produce aesthetically pleasing pattern. Concluded that random patterning more feasible.

Determined that this blanket will not be too small so cast on 600 stitches. After knitting for two evenings with no discernible length achieved wondered if 600 stitches was too ambitious.

Enthusiasm waning.


May 2018

Knitting abandoned for the summer. Length of blanket 4 centimetres. Approximately 96 cms short of target.


September 2018

Found bag containing very short knitted blanket while looking for yarn to knit jumper for grandson’s teddy bear. Knitted jumper for bear and a few rows of blanket. Wondered if it could be scarf instead. More rows completed at very steady pace.


October 2018

Attacking blanket/scarf with enthusiasm. Easy to get into rhythm as very simple but progress slow.

knitted rug using leftover wool

Have decided to make this very long-term project and concentrate on warmth of blanket and eco friendly reuse of yarn rather than colour co-ordination. Also realise that have sometimes turned needles at end of row resulting in sections of back to front knitting but have convinced myself this adds interest to patterning as no chance of undoing any knitting to make correction. Hoping that increase in length will result in warm knees while knitting. Any thoughts of wrapping blanket around whole body are very distant.

Current length 27cms. Approximately 73cms short of target.

Instructions for Knitted Blanket with Knotted Fringe

How to knit a fringed blanket

  • Using circular knitting needle, cast on stitches required for project. I’m using 4mm needle with (mainly) DK wool to make a dense blanket, similar to a weave. 300 stitches will make a width of approximately 150 centimetres.
  • Row 1 – Knit 1, Yarn Forward Slip 1. Repeat across row. Cut off yarn.
  • Row 2 – Do not turn needles but take new strand of yarn and continue knitting as if in the round. Yarn Forward Slip 1, Knit 1. Repeat across row. Cut off yarn.
  • Repeat
  • Every six rows or so, depending on how you want the rug to look, knot the loose yarn at the end of the row to make a fringe.
  • Cast off when your blanket reaches the required length. Trim loose ends to even length.