Sunday, 31 May 2009

Happy Birthday to me - yesterday!

I'd had my pressie from Mr Nifty a while ago, the GPS so we could start geocaching. This card was from my oldest - isn't it perfect?

We drove to St Margaret's at Cliffe , near Dover. to find two geocaches. The first was near the lighthouse and is in memory of Yves Rossy who was the first person to fly solo across the Channel using a single jet-propelled wing - he landed right here!

We ate our picnic looking out to sea - it was too misty to see France, you need a clear day for that.

This is the view looking back - the lighthouse is midway on the horizon.

We then walked along the cliff and down to the sea briefly - saw a beekeeper colecting a swarm that was setting up home in the car park. I could have done with his protective gear last week!

Up again (149 steps!) to the next section of cliff to the War Memorial (visible on skyline in pic above) and on to the next cache.

The Memorial recognises the Dover Patrol's protection of the Channel during WW1. There is an identical memorial on the French Coast, and one in New York Harbour to commemorate the work of the US Navy in protecting the Channel.

Amazing what Geocaching can teach me!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Let's meet...MOLLIMOO

I met Tina from Mollimoo through her folksy shop, but she can be found all over the place - as we shall see!

Quickies for starters:

Cats or dogs?

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars

*boo* says nifty ;-)

Fruit or chocolate?
ooh, Chocolate!

Favourite colour?

Favourite meal?
Ginger chicken curry....mmmm

City break or weekend in the country?
weekend in the country

Soaps or documentaries?

Bath or shower?

Now we’ve got you warmed up…

What brought you to Folksy? Tell us about your shop (or shops) Do you sell anywhere else?
I discovered Folksy last October whilst browsing other people's blogs. I love making fabric buttons & thought what a great place to sell them! What I especially like about making buttons is hunting for unique, vintage fabric from thrift shops & giving it a new little life. The thought that some of my buttons will then go on to embellish someone else's project or even just end up in someone's treasured button collection is wonderful. I'm working on adding brooches & knitted items to my shop as my first love is knitting. I also sell on Coriandr.

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far?
My favourite buttons are the vintage yellow rose buttons. Someone had made this fabric into a side board cover with lace around & it had ended up in a thrift shop. It is so dainty & pretty!

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt (about online selling) so far?
The most useful lesson I've learnt is that you have to constantly produce new items to list & sell....obvious, I know! I've also learnt that you have to put yourself out there to get noticed by joining different groups, forums & blogging.

If you could start again, is there anything you’d do differently?
I would not spend so much time browsing at everyone else's beautiful products all the time. I did it so much at the beginning that it, quite literally, frightened me! I felt so intimidated at the great quality & originality that it made me have a mental block. Now, I just get on with it.

How do you see your store developing?
Well, I plan to broaden the range of what I sell. I am working on brooches, knitted items, pin cushions, drawstring bags & plushies. I just need to find more hours in the day to make them all!

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?
The school run. I have 2 children, 5 & 2. It's not easy making items when you are cooking, dressing, bathing, feeding, playing & organising....I do love it though.

What’s your top marketing tip for today?
Professional looking photos are important. Blog regularly, dress up your shop & blog in a distinctive, pretty way. Put yourself out there & don't be shy. Network as much as you can. Always believe you are good enough.

Great advice Tina, thank you. Here are the links again:
Folksy shop

Thursday, 28 May 2009

New website - MINE all mine :-)

Mr Nifty has been hard at work - and *trumpet fanfare*

we're proud to announce... !

It's only a babe in arms at the moment. Long term we hope to be able to sell direct, but for the moment it's a good place to hang our various hats.

Stick it in your bookmarks :-)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

My Meerkats are going viral!

I've been wandering around on the net and they're boldly going everywhere! Some of the bloggers have a few details wrong - my Trekkie/Trekker/meerkats are currently £20 each from or $30 from Live long and prosper!
Thanks for the meerkat love - I know I've missed some of the bloggers who've featured them, so do please leave me a link if you're one of them!

Many thanks xxx

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Mystery object, can you help?

I bought this little chap from ebay years ago. The seller had no idea what it was, and I've tried and tried to find out.

He has been very useful during my former career as a primary teacher. One of the hardest tasks is to make children think, so I had regular sessions where I would challenge them to investigate a mystery object.

Early ideas would be limited to "it's wood", but as they got accustomed to the task my groups of 7/8/9/10 year-olds discovered more and more, and learnt to challenge their own (and more easily, each others!) ideas.

A common suggestion was that it as a wine stopper (own up - how many of you were thinking just that?) Certainly the shape looks similar - but would you want bare wood in contact with your wine? How could it be cleaned sufficiently?

Some children suggested it was Chinese, it reminded them of Chinese New Year dragons.
One child said it might slot into the top of a bureau, with a matching creature at the other end. Often we talked about legends and belief systems, as it remnded us of mythical beasts.

Others thought the bottom peg should slot into the top of a banner, or a marching band *stick* (what on earth are those called?)

We often talked about who might have made it. Obviously somebody skilled, somebody who owned (or had access to) decent tools, somebody with leisure time (as it didn't seem to be functional).

And at the end of a lesson, they always wanted to know the "right" answer. The most important lesson of all happened then - because I don't know what it is. Do you?

It's about 6" (15cm) tall including the peg at the bottom and is carved from a single piece of wood. The peg and underneath the base are much more roughly carved. There are decorative swirls (which some thought of as runes) on the base.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Come for a walk with me?

Our countryside never tires me - step through the tree tunnel and who knows what will be the other side?

We were geocaching, this new little family had their work cut out just trying to keep up with mum!

See the naughty two at the back? (You can enlarge the pic by clicking on it)

They weren't looking too sure now. "You want us to go through there? But there are nettles!"

The bystanders held their breath and counted the babies in, counted the babies out. Mum looked very nonchalent, but I wouldn't want to have to keep track of 11 babies!

The stretch of water is the moat around Bodiam Castle.

Stunning, isn't it?

The ducklings stayed on the far side of the moat, away from the drawbridge which surprised us at first as there were several people throwing bread in to the adult ducks. Then we saw who else lives there...

I suspect these carp are big enough to take a duckling if they have a chance!

We walked on up the hill, stopping to take a final snap of what must be one of the most photographed views in the area.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Lots of bees...and Seven Sisters

Yesterday, as some of you will know, we met some bees when out walking. Some of them tried to take up residence in my hair. This relocation did not meet with my approval, in fact I think it would be fair to say I was in a state of panic! Three of the little darlings had stung me before MrNifty had the presence of mind to pour our drinking wter over my head (not his usual way of endearing himself, but it worked a treat)

Today's walk was therefore NOWHERE near bees.

We went to look for a geocache at Cuckmere Haven. This is a fabulous spot where a river meanders down to the sea - I took class field trips there to look at longshore drift (and paddle!)

Annoyingly we'd walked the mile to the beach before our GPS announced we were on the wrong side of the back we went. It was a gloriously sunny day though, so no complaints.

At the top of the cliff was a memorial to a wartime tragedy.

I'm not sure if you'll be able to read it, even after clicking to enlarge - so here's the gist. A Canadian company pitched camp in the field at the top of the cliffs in 1940, Corporal Leslie Edwards, a local man, warned them that the bombers used the area as a navigation point but his advice was ignored. Two days later, along came the bombers and everyone was killed.

I'm completely staggered that the officer didn't pay atttention to local knowledge - very "Black Adder".

The cliffs you can see in the photo are the Seven Sisters, each "sister" being one of the lumpy sticky out bits! It's a great place for wildlife, we watched two pairs of little egrets fishing. However, it's under threat. There's a scheme to reflood the area to take the pressure of flood plains that have been built on. The jury is still out.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Let's meet...Bazketmakr!

Pamela of Bazketmakr is an Etteam member who makes intricate woven ware using pine needles, horse hair and still manages to make time for other works of Art!

So what is she like?

Cats or dogs?

Most of my life I would have said cats...but since I had my first dog, 19 years ago, I have to say I have changed. We have two now, large retrievers.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Since the advent of the flip phone, I have had the urge to say "Beam me up, Scotty!" It is an impulse that is hard to suppress. With the comeback of the newest film, I have come back to Star Trek. I did not stay up with it in all the in-between stages, but loved the original when I was a kid. In between, I did love Star Wars.

Fruit or chocolate?

I am picky about both...American chocolate is the pits. I go for dark sweet cherries and Swiss chocolate.

Favourite colour?

definitely least, that is what color my toenails are this summer. Last year I think they were pink or brown.

Favourite meal?

I really love salad...the huge salad bar type. Lots of choices.

City break or weekend in the country?

I have been living in a small southern town for almost 20 years, so nowadays I like to visit the city. Before then, I would have said country.

Soaps or documentaries?

Documentaries. But then, I really don't watch TV much at all.

Bath or shower?

These days, I move too quickly to take a bath at home...but get me to a hotel, without the family, and I would stay in a hot tub or bath until I almost pass out! I guess I like some of everything!

Now we’ve got you warmed up…

What brought you to Etsy? Tell us about your shop (or shops) Do you sell anywhere else?

One of my friends told me about it. I was skeptical. Now, I am pleasantly surprised. 20 years ago, who would think you could sit in your home and sell stuff to people in other countries, without a middleman? It is magical! At this point, I have left all the galleries I was previously selling with. Am searching for new ones. I am looking for a place to show art pieces at this point.

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far?

It changes with what I am working on, but I really love my "big girl," the sculpture titled "Naturally Endowed." She was a very intensive thing to make. She has over 400 stakes in her body alone (not counting her arms,) and required over 100 hours just to weave...that was AFTER I made her feet and head and fired them, and made an armature to weave her over. I have notecards with her image on them in my etsy shop. She will soon be on display at "Fiber Celebrated," an art show in New Mexico.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt (about Etsy) so far?

Promoting myself. I am not very skilled at selling, and I don't really like to talk about my work, so I have to work hard on promotion. It is difficult to learn, we are raised to be modest about ourselves. Here on etsy, it is a little easier because there is no face to face, and I have learned ALOT from the Etsy Treasury Team. They are an amazing bunch of people!

If you could start again, is there anything you’d do differently?

I would make my shop name something simple and easy to spell and remember. I was not thinking when I signed up for my "unique" name.

How do you see your store developing?

I am going to list many more items, in all the categories I can.

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?

I have been packaging some of my new tools, the Needle Grabber. I never thought I would invent a tool, but it is having some success, and I am very happy to share it with needle and wire workers.

What’s your top marketing tip for today?

I am loving all the information presented in the Storque. Being part of the Etsy Treasury team has really opened my eyes to the resources available on etsy, and how you have to promote yourself. I would tell any new seller to join an active team, and learn from your peers!

Thank you! What a fabulous range of goods - to see more, go to

Friday, 22 May 2009

"my" lambs have grown!

Remember the lambs I blogged about way back in March?

Guess what? They've grown!

Not only have they grown - some of them now have new little baby brothers or sisters.

I love spring!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

VOTE for NiftyKnits

I was so excited to come home from my new job on Tuesday to find a message from Etsy Admin!


I'm Katie, the intern here at the Etsy blog.

Congrats! I'm not sure if you've noticed, but your item has been selected for our Flowers and Gardening item poll on the Storque. You can check out the poll here:

Make sure to spread the word, blog the link, and let people know about it so that they can vote for your item. The winner will be featured on the Etsy blog!

There are 52 to choose between, mine is the knitted pot of three daffodils. Here is another picture of the daffodils:

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Let's meet... Firescure!

This is an interview that will give us a very different slant on all things Etsy. Betsy, aka Firescure, is NOT an Etsy seller - she's a buyer, a red-hot treasury curator and a fellow member of Etteam.

Cats or dogs? Parrots!

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars, but Ewan McGregor has something to do with that.

Fruit or chocolate?

Fruit today, chocolate about 2/3 of the time.

Favourite colour?

An earthy or jewel-toned mix! I swear I'm not just being uncooperative here! :D

Favourite meal?

My husband's cast iron ribeye, and roasted asparagus and red potatoes from the farmer's market.

City break or weekend in the country?

Weekend in the country.

Soaps or documentaries?


Bath or shower?

Shower, but only out of time constraints.

Now we’ve got you warmed up…

How did you find out about Etsy?

This is a seriously good question. I honestly cannot remember! Memory's going at 28.

As an Etsy buyer, is there any one way you prefer to shop?

I often search for specific items, lately it's been home stuff because I'm trying to decorate and furnish with handmade items little by little. The other thing I like to do is browse my favorite categories - Bath and Beauty, Ceramics and Pottery, Furniture, Geekery, Housewares, Needlecraft, Paper Goods, and Plants and Edibles.

Is there anything that really puts you off buying?

Too little information in a listing will always put me off. If the seller didn't care to write anything about their item, I generally don't care to buy it. It doesn't need to be Pride and Prejudice, but I'd like to know what's in your soap, or how tall your bird is. Just the basics will do. But if I get to know a little about the seller through their writing, bonus!

Is there anything that will make you put your hand in your virtual purse when you’re browsing?

A well-written or clever listing, an item that inspires me to create myself, or a listing that simply floweth over with love of the craft that they're selling. That's something that will always come through loud and clear.

What’s the favourite item you’ve bought so far?

A tea cup made by
Though that was a REALLY hard question to answer! I've only had fantastic luck with sellers on Etsy. Helps that I surround myself with the fabulous Etsy Treasury Team, I'm sure. :)

Do you think you will open a shop yourself one day?

Oh goodness, I think about it every single day now. I've recently taken up needle felting, and though even a single item can be very time consuming, I think I would really enjoy it. I also took a sewing class last week. Talk about fun! Being part of an Etsy team, and browsing shops all the time is very inspiring to me. Really, it was only a matter of time.

You must have already learnt so much - What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt (about Etsy) so far?

Take good photographs! Also, be on a team. The kind of support and companionship offered by a team of sellers (and buyers!) is unparalleled and unmatched. Nobody understands the crazy excitement and frustration of selling handmade like an Etsy team, and that support is going to help you and your shop grow.

I know you enjoy curating treasuries. What is your favourite type of treasury?

Oh goodness. I fall out of my chair for treasuries that are impossibly well-balanced in color, texture, and mix of shapes. I'm not sure I've ever made one like that, but in terms of treasuries I like to make, a collection of items that reflect nature soothe me, and a good geekery treasury thrills me.

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?

Today is a writing day for me, so I've been working on some needle felting, coffee drinking, staring blankly at an empty screen, and catching up on some blog reading.

Talking about blogs:

and of course those 140 character sound bites at