Friday, February 06, 2015

Little Trees Growing

My little "test pattern" trees have been digitally remastered and re-released!

Way back when I first created these paintings (click here for the original blog post), I had a small edition of prints made.  These prints have all but sold out, so it was time this week to create a new edition of 8x8 inch prints.  I adjusted the colours to be as true to the originals as possible, and I'm so happy with them - they're very vibrant and pretty, and each print has handpainted gold touches that sparkle in the light.

Friday, January 23, 2015


I have been seeing lovely examples of crochet dreamcatchers everywhere lately, so I decided to try making one as a gift for a friend.  It was fun and quite easy to make, so I thought I would share it here.  I used free patterns found online (I have included links within the text), and items from my craft cupboard.

I found a crochet pattern for a Snowflake ornament to use for the centrepiece of the dreamcatcher.

I crocheted Snowflake B, using Tahki Yarns Cotton Classic, which is an 8 ply (DK) yarn, and a 3mm hook, so my snowflake turned out quite a lot larger than the ones in the pattern.  I ended up attaching it to the inside ring of a 12 inch embroidery hoop.

I found an easy to follow free feather pattern on Ravelry.  This creator of the pattern was inspired by these lovely feather pendants.  Using the same yarn and hook, I followed the pattern for the larger feather, although as I was using quite a firm yarn my feather developed some interesting curves.  I adapted the pattern a little to create two smaller feathers (the feather on the left wouldn't behave for the photo, so you'll have to imagine that it looks similar to the one on the right!).

Other additions were some hand-dyed silk ribbons I had in my craft cupboard, and some felt balls from Colour Streams.

Many other items could be used to decorate these dreamcatchers... vintage buttons, interesting fibres, ric rac, beads... it's only limited by your imagination.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Perfect Tassels Tutorial

I love adding tassels to my crochet projects, and the best ones are plump and luxurious.  Here's the technique I use to make mine... it's very easy.

1.  Decide on the length you want your tassels to be, and cut a piece of card a little longer than the desired finished size.  Around 12cm - 15cm is usually pretty good.  I sometimes use a small book to make tassels, or a piece of strong card that won't bend easily.  Wrap the yarn around the card about 40 times.  You can vary this, depending on the thickness of the yarn and how plump you like your tassels.  The yarn I am using in this tutorial is 8ply (DK).

2.  Cut a piece of yarn a little longer than twice the length of the card.  Thread it through the top of the tassel twice as shown.
3.  Tie the piece of yarn in a tight and strong knot.

4.  Carefully remove the yarn from the card, and cut through the looped ends at the bottom of the tassel.

5. Take another length of yarn around twice the length of the tassel.  Wrap it tightly around the tassel as shown (I usually wrap it twice), to form a ball at the top.  Tie a secure knot.

6.  Using a yarn needle, thread the ends into the centre of the tassel.

7.  Tidy up the tassel by trimming the ends, and you're finished!  The two yarn ends at the top are used to tie the tassel to your project.  After attaching, these ends can be threaded down through the middle of the tassel as in step 6.

Here are some ideas for using your tassels.  I always attach them to my bunting, and love adding them to the corners of cushions.  You can create a luxurious fringe by attaching an entire row of tassels.
The more you make the easier and faster the process becomes.  Have fun!


Friday, April 11, 2014

the rivers know

Loretta Grayson  The Rivers Know  Vintage maps, gouache on cotton rag paper, 2014 

It's a funny thing, the creative process.  I had this sketch in my journal for quite a long time before I finally got around to doing something with it.  It was inspired by reading Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient last year, and this quote in particular.

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves.

I wish for all this to be marked on by body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography - to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience.”

The image in my head was all bright greens and blues, clouds and water... but when it came to actually getting it onto paper, this is what happened... something a little quieter, softer and darker.  

The title comes from a poem by Anis Mojgani that I have written about before, and seemed very appropriate as I was once again finishing work for the same show at the last minute... just as I wrote about then.

I finally finished it in the early hours of the morning it was due to be delivered to the exhibition, and went to bed at around 2am hating this little artwork with a passion.  But somehow, in the few hours sleep I managed before looking at it again, it grew on me. 

I could see that although the idea I was trying to pin down originally had eluded me, another one had appeared in its place.   If rivers can know to find their way to the sea, I can learn to let go of control and let ideas flow in the direction they need to go.

... and hopefully one day learn to stop procrastinating :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

sweet unrest

detail of Sweet Unrest by Loretta Grayson  Gouache on cotton rag paper, 200mm x 300mm

I posted about this painting last month, and it's finally finished.  It came together slowly, but I don't mind... working on these small, detailed pieces is the closest thing to meditation for me, so I don't count the hours. 
The title comes from one of my favourite Wind in the Willows quotes, but the imagery started coming together after finding this line in Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Love in the Time of Cholera.
"... ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them."

Sweet Unrest by Loretta Grayson  Gouache on cotton rag paper, 200mm x 300mm
They're tricky things, those ideas.  I have some of my best ones when I can't sleep in the middle of night, but capturing them again in the morning can prove to be challenging. 

I posted about bird tracks in my artwork a little while ago, so I was excited to discover the work of Dennis Hlynsky recently.  He creates the most beautiful and fascinating films of bird flight paths.

More videos and information about his creative process can be found here:

Monday, January 13, 2014

to begin

I wasn't sure how to begin the new year, so I decided to start by finishing a few things.

A new painting... my first since July last year.  It seems I prioritised pretty much everything else over my artwork last year.  I'm determined to not do the same in 2014, but I'm being gentle on myself and beginning again by working on some ideas from last year.  Here's the sketch I'm working from at the moment, and you can see a little of the progress in the photo above. 

... and this blanket... finally finished!

My original post on Ravelry tells me that I started it over three and a half years ago.  I picked it up again last year, and finally finished it last week. 
The pattern comes from a lovely Japanese crochet book (more details at the Ravelry link above).  I adapted it a little by adding a join-as-you-go border in off white.  I also added a pom pom edging, from a pattern I found here.

Wishing you all a very happy new year... hope it's a creative one!