Becoming a Loose(r) Woman

A fabulous long weekend spent at West Dean College on Dynamic Life Drawing with the wonderfully energetic Christopher Gilvan-Cartwright.  My aim was to re-ignite my love of Life Drawing, having become increasingly frustrated with this discipline in recent months.  Previous tutors have told me that I  need to “loosen up” so having read the wacky agenda for this course, I was hoping it would be the answer to making me a Loose(r) Woman!  I wasn’t disappointed.

The first evening was spent in the dark, drawing the delightful Frankie who was painted in neon paint and under a UV light.  Sadly, without a UV light, the output is not nearly as exciting but I still liked the use of pattern to create the illusion of a human body.

"neon pattern on life model"

Drawn in the dark. The picture really comes to life under UV.


After a morning of warming up with various exercises (continuous line, non dominant hand) and short poses, the second day was taken with a Frida Kahlo scene.  Funny how drawing fabric seems so much harder than the unclothed human body.  We used some pre-made backgrounds for these drawings.

"charcoal drawing of a seated, clothed female"

Frida Kahlo scene


Day three got messy with wet on wet techniques, painting ink over acrylic then blasting it off with a water sprayer, and using a long bamboo stick and ink to draw on the floor (while hoping not to draw on the ceiling) at a distance.  I really like the potential of the acrylic and ink layering technique but sadly without a large sink unit and a studio, practically I can’t see this happening in my dining room.

"layered acrylic and ink painting"

Messy but effective partial removal of ink from acrylic using water spray

The final day was using collage to depict a clothed scene.  Funnily enough despite my usual love of collage, this was probably my least successful day.  However, as is usually the case, I’ll put the work away and then will probably be more excited by it when I revisit in a few weeks time.

"seated figure in collage and drawing"

Paper collage (what to do with the drawings that don’t work!) and pastel pencil drawing

I now have a huge A1 folder full of stuff to inspire some follow on work and while “the leopard can’t change his shorts” (yes, I am a massive Terry Pratchett fan), I am definitely feeling much looser than I was last weekend 😉



Knitter’s Chicklit

She didn’t remember the drive home.  Her face flushed and her hand shook as she turned the key in the door.  “Anyone home?” she breathed as she stepped across the threshold.  The welcome silence followed her as she ran up the stairs and into her room, throwing her bags onto the rumpled bed.  Quickly she found the one she wanted: a long, narrow, brown paper bag ensuring anonymity for the package therein.  With a trembling hand she removed the contents, stroking their velvety softness with awe, and running an anticipatory finger along the smooth, slightly warm shaft.  After only a few minutes she knew.  This was her future!

"carbon fibre knitting needles"

You gotta try these!

 Carbon fibre knitting needles ladies, (and gents!).  Knitting has never felt sooo good 🙂


UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards: Ally Pally and Harrogate here I come!

Sooo excited!  I have just received an E mail telling me that I have been chosen as a finalist for the Knitted Textile Awards (Open Category) with my knitted life paintings.  What a lovely way to start my week.  Once the news has sunk in a bit, the panic will set in as I try to arrange taking time from work, arranging dog sitters, finding accommodation etc……In the meantime, I think another little dance around the living room is in order 🙂

"knitted life painting"

The final version of the seated pose. I don’t want to give too much away so you’ll have to come to the Knit and Stitch Shows to see the others 😉

More Summer Knitting: Rowan Panama

"rowan panama yarn"

Shade 310 and shade 314

I have recently been experimenting with one of Rowan’s non wool yarns, “panama”, a lovely blend of viscose, cotton and linen, perfect for Summer knitting (no sweaty hands with this one!).  It is also a 4ply weight which makes it the perfect partner for my 1940’s inspired designs and has a fantastic texture and sheen which catches the light and creates the illusion of subtle colour changes.

I was lucky enough to pick up a few balls each of shades 310, Aster, and 314, Mizzle in the local John Lewis sale a couple of months back, just enough to create this textured stripe sleeveless sweater (a similar design is called a “jerkin” in one of my treasured books of 1940s patterns).

"texture stripe jerkin"

Nicky Barfoot 1940s inspired stocking stitch and moss stitch stripe sweater design.


The design is a simple sweater featuring alternating stocking stitch and moss stitch stripes, which uses the deep rib welt to create a waistline.  With our unpredictable British Summer weather in mind, I wanted to design a versatile sweater which could be worn with bare arms during warmer days, but would also fit easily under a jacket for chillier evenings and more Autumnal weather.  I also wanted a top that could equally be worn casually with jeans, or more formally with a skirt suit.

If you would like to make this design for yourself, I have just added the pattern (pdf download) to my shop.  It is available in a size 86-91cm (34-36in) bust and takes just 5 balls of panama.