Sunday, 23 November 2014

Handmade Monday 195

Hello!  Welcome to Handmade Monday!

I'm a bit like a rat on a treadmill at the moment.  Running fast, going nowhere!  Still, there is a little creativity time in there, which is something to be grateful for!

Quentin is now awaiting an x-ray on both hips.  His enforced strict rest hasn't gone as badly as I expected!  I thought he'd be a bit bonkers, and while he does have his bonkers moments, they generally don't last too long.  He's allowed very short walks, but that's all.  He is still in pain at times, and it does make him panic a bit.  Poor boy.

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Handmade Monday 194

Welcome to Handmade Monday!

There hasn't been a great deal of artwork made this week.  The Christmas rush is starting over here and that's been taking up most of my time.  Still, it involves paintbrushes, pens and creativity so I can't complain!

a little artwork hanger being made

Poor Quentin!  I mentioned last week about him sleeping with his legs under furniture.  I'm not sure that the yelps he made when getting up were due to him getting stuck under furniture - it may be something else altogether that's going on.  He's been reluctant at various times to put weight on both his back legs (not both at the same time, fortunately).

The vet has prescribed painkillers and strict rest.  He's allowed very short lead walks, but a lot of them turn out even shorter than I anticipated - sometimes we haven't even made it to the corner 100 yards away - because he just doesn't want to walk.

here he is concentrating on a tiny treat - practising the stay command!

We're waiting to see if the problem persists beyond two weeks, in which case he'll have x-rays.  It could be something very serious called hip dysplasia - extremely rare in guide dog puppies because of their careful breeding.  But it can still happen.  He would be withdrawn from the programme immediately and - sadly - he'd need an owner with more money than me, because he'd be likely to need expensive operations to keep him mobile and pain free.

It could also be panosteitis which is less serious and more likely.  This would mean his strict rest will probably continue for several months and he'll be with me longer than he would otherwise have been - but he could still continue his training and become a guide dog.

Fingers and paws are very firmly crossed here this week!

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Handmade Monday 193

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday.

I didn't get to try out the "portable design studio" (thank you Carie for that terminology!) as I had planned to.  In case you weren't around here last week, I'm referring to the scanning of dozens of hand drawn elements to make my digital art more mobile.

Mum and Dad both made it to the reminiscence group on Monday - Dad was having a good day - although Mum said everything went over Dad's head.  And Tuesday's scrabble group turned out to be just a bit too early for Mum.  She never was an early riser, and she sure isn't going to change at the age of 87.  Maybe it will just be an occasional visit on days when the mornings don't feel as much of a challenge to her.

I've realised I've let my parents' needs dominate my time quite heavily - it's difficult not to.  But I'm trying to work out ways of shoehorning in more design time and making the process more mobile has got to be a good start!

Quentin's not been the slightest bit concerned about fireworks this week.  When we were out walking and a quite loud and colourful rocket attracted his attention, he just looked interested rather than worried.  It's a good sign that nothing is scaring him - guide dogs need to be confident in all situations.

Recently he's been sleeping with his feet under furniture quite a lot (as above) then yelping because he can't get them out quick enough when he jumps up.  He's growing rapidly and I guess he has to learn about how his body works in a new size!

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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Book Review: Learn to Sew with Lauren

Some of you will remember Lauren Guthrie from when she appeared on the Great British Sewing Bee.  She was a lovely contestant and I can't have been the only one rooting for her!  Since then, Lauren has been super-busy.  She has her own fabric shop (you can buy online if you don't live nearby) and has now written her first book!

And what a gorgeous book it is.  It's the kind of book that makes me think of days gone by, simply because it's got a really substantial hard cover and full size pull out patterns - both rarely seen in these days of downsizing and downloading!

The step-by-step instructions look super easy to follow.  There's a mix of photos, pretty diagrams and clear instructions.  I'm not the target audience (it's being sold as a learn to sew book) but I could certainly use some of the patterns in here.

I have someone in mind as a recipient for my copy of the book.  She will love it, and I think she'll enjoy building her skills with the pull out patterns and clear instructions.

Thank you Lauren - a beautiful and useful addition to anyone's bookshelf.  It will make a great Christmas gift for anyone who loves to sew, but particularly beginners.

You can order a signed copy of the book on Lauren's website, Guthrie and Ghani.  You can also keep up with Lauren's news by following her blog.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Handmade Monday 192

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday.

I've been working towards making my work more portable this week, so that I can go and sit with Dad (who spends much of his time either nodding off or wanting to "go home" to his mother) while Mum goes out to meet other people at various groups in her retirement village.  That's the plan, anyway.  We'll see how it works tomorrow and Tuesday, when it's reminiscence group and scrabble group respectively!

With portability in mind, I started drawing elements that I could scan and then use digitally to create images.  Once I have all the images uploaded, all I need is my laptop to work on making images for potential licensing.  This is the process I go through...

I always start on scrap paper.  I use anything that has been printed on one side only, or failing that, computer printer paper.  Anything will do at this stage - even old envelopes at times - because it's all about the ideas, the outline, or even sometimes a bit of measuring - compasses, protractors and rulers all come in handy at times!

Then I re-draw the images more neatly on smoother paper - but they're still really just doodles.

I've started stuffing the paper with images to cut down on scanning time as well as paper.  On this occasion I ended up with twelve pages of images... which gives me plenty to work on as they all had loads on them!

Once they're scanned, I then crop each element and take out the white background colour (although it still shows up as white here against a white background) so I have a transparent image.  Sometimes I fill it with colour at this stage, sometimes later.

I can then play with the various elements to make a finished image.  I find this part completely addictive - I love playing with colour and pattern.  The beauty of working on the computer means I can try out lots of different colours and patterns before making a decision.

While I'm doing all this, guide dog puppy Quentin is learning to lie at my feet and act like he's in an office, which is one of the things a qualified guide dog might be expected to do.

Although shredding paper should definitely not be one of his duties, he seemed to think it was on this occasion...

Fortunately, it was just a leaflet.  And he said sorry (at least with his eyes)...

You couldn't stay cross with him for long, could you?

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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Handmade Monday 191

Hello - welcome to Handmade Monday!

It's been a bit of a Christmassy week here (at least as far as creativity goes).    The Christmas pud is probably one of my favourite Christmas images, and another one is the robin!  These are designed to be repeat patterns, but they'd possibly work well as stand-alone images too - on a card, maybe.

Dad came home from the care home this week - wearing someone else's glasses and someone else's jumper.  There is clearly a difficulty with managing belongings when you have a group of people who don't recognise their own things.  He's due an optician's appointment, so we'll try and get that done this week because we have no idea where his own glasses are.  If he goes back into the care home, we'll know to label his glasses!  Up to now he seems OK at home, although he had started wandering out of the front door before I'd even unpacked his bag.  Right now, we're just seeing how things go.

 Guide dog puppy Quentin enjoying a nap!

I managed to make time to go to a talk at the Guide Dogs Training School.  It was focused on what is expected by the end of puppy walking - at around 14 months, puppies are taken into the centre for their "proper" training.  I've worried that Quentin might not make it on grounds of his over-excitement (he imagines everyone he meets is his new best friend) but apparently that's not one of their major concerns.  He still needs to calm down, but it is happening, albeit slowly.  He does have quiet times too...

Apparently the main reasons puppies get withdrawn are for being too nervous, too destructive, an inability to travel in cars or on buses, and - bizarrely - being too obedient is no good either.

hopefully, chewing his own bed isn't considered too destructive!

They are the only dog training school in the country that teaches a dog to disobey commands (completely necessary, when you think about it: the owner says "straight on" and there's a car coming - the ability of that dog to make decisions could be a life saver).  So a dog that can think for itself is good.  A little pulling on the lead isn't a bad thing, either - they need to lead the way.  Quentin could definitely lead the way to the field where he free runs!

In case you are worried about what happens to withdrawn puppies, there's no need: they can be used as buddy dogs for blind or partially-sighted children who may need a guide dog when they are older, or sometimes they can be retrained as other service dogs.  They also get offered as pet dogs (the puppy walker gets first refusal, but there's always a waiting list for them).  They always have a future somewhere.  Likewise, retired guide dogs are rehomed as pet dogs and there's a waiting list of people wanting to give them a home.

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Handmade Monday 190

Hello and welcome to Handmade Monday.

I still feel short of time, and the weeks are flying by so fast, but I feel a bit better about it this week.

One of the biggest guzzlers of my time is hand painting personalised gifts to order.  I do enjoy all the making, but it does kind of get in the way of doing other things and it's incredibly tying making pretty much everything to order (not to mention the packing and posting being so time consuming and slightly boring!)...

... so I've made a decision that in January I'll explore other avenues.  There's no way of doing it before January, because we are of course coming up to the busiest period of the year for gifts.  But just having made that decision makes me feel better!  It's going to have to be a very careful balancing act, because the painted gifts are my main source of income.

It's quite a short post from me this week - I'm off to visit Dad in his care home now.  He's only there for another week, and once he comes home we'll have to see how everyone manages.  The thing is, he's much safer in a more secure environment because he's most definitely a wanderer.

this tandem clock image was initially created for Dad
but this one was for a wedding present

The sad thing is, he's always trying to get somewhere that doesn't exist any more - not far away physically, but the place he want to be only exists somewhere in the 1930's - which unless we can conjure up a Tardis from somewhere, is never going to happen.  But wouldn't it be lovely if we could?

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