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the yarn tree, painted



Here's a picture I just finished for knitfish. I still think I might prefer the black and white version but at least I scanned it at that stage, so I have both. Knitfish asked for a blue sky, so I've also added that and scanned it, but I think I like the skyless version better. Although the grayscale one's okay, too. Hmm. I like putting things into grayscale to see how I'm coming with tonal variation. Right when I started illustrating, I painted pictures in colour for a book that was printed in grayscale, and I was shocked to see how all my varied colours all looked the same when they were greys. So I'm trying to think more about lights and darks, but sometimes I remember better than other times.



Right now I'm getting updates from the mother of a teenage friend, Erick, who's hiking the Appalachian Trail. He's having the most amazing adventures! Recently he hurt his leg and ended up staying with the family of a kind doctor along the way and went to lots of parties with them. Yesterday he was back on the trail and saw a mother bear and her baby and twenty wild ponies. It reminds me of this brilliant book I read called A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It's about a guy who's only really been used to gentle English-style hiking, where you walk a bit, stop at the pub and then hop back on the train for a night at home in bed. He attempts the whole trail with the only guy who will come with him, a donut-obsessed alcoholic who also hasn't done much hiking. I laughed so hard while I was reading it that I really embarrassed Stuart, because we were sitting on a very quiet night train. I love the part when he's shelling out vast wads of cash for all the equipment and the shop assistant tells him he has to spend more money to buy a rain cover for his pack. Bryson's fed up by this point, and can't figure out why the people who made the packs didn't consider that someone might want to take the packs outside. (I always wondered this.)

My dad and my sister have very different theories of buying hiking gear. My dad spends a fair amount and has complex theories about how much money one needs to spend to save a pound of weight. My sister picks up any old thing she finds in a thrift shop and somehow manages to heft it along wherever she's going. Once when she was mountain climbing in Bolivia, she was with a group of guys who thought they were pretty swish with all their latest-version gore-tex gear. She woke up one morning on the mountain at 20,000 feet or whatever it was, to see a local woman passing by wearing slip-on shoes, a shawl and a bowler hat. My sister felt well humbled.