Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Giveaway now open!

It's time to enter!

To win this amazing haul of prizes, head over to our ETTEAM blog and follow instructions - good luck!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Meerkat World Tour Giveaway #3

Can you believe there are still MORE prizes? Sunday's and Monday's blog posts gave you the details of the earlier part of the tour, now here are the final stages:

After leaving Minnesota, Alchemy went to Wisconsin, to KimsCraftyApple where she went on an Easter Egg Hunt, to a 90th birthday party and helped to make this sweet little quilt for the giveaway!

Next stop was the Arizona desert, where Waterrose took Alchemy on the most hair-raising adventures of her life. She went off-roading and rock-climbing, and scared Niftyknits half to death! She added a lovely little meerkat-cuff (or human-sized embroidered ring) to her giveaway stash.

Travelling on, Alchemy went to meet up with Fishstikks in Las Vegas, where she found Elvis and met lots of big-eyed birds and then (shock!) learnt to play poker before collecting two more fabulous souvenirs, a badge and a tiny little house.

Alchemy's next stop was in Washington, where she stayed with StudioCherie and watched MeerkatManor - which of course was why NiftyKnits first designed and knitted the very first meerkat.

Cherie gave Alchemy a luggage tag to bring back for the giveaway - no danger of losing your suitcase with this!

The tour was now over, and and a tired little meerkat headed back across the pond to Niftyknits, to rest and await news of the lucky person who will give her a new home, along with her wonderful haul of goodies!

Still another prize though - remember the super interactive map? Tyarkoni has given a voucher for 20% off any of her 8"x10" prints - so the total prize package is now vouchers to spend in five separate shops, an ipod cosy, a quilted mat, a silver shoe pendant on 18" chain, a felt lady, earrings, four Art cards, an embroidered ring, a mini-fascinator, a luggage tag, a horsehair cellphone charm, a papier mache house and badge, a trinket dish and of course Alchemy herself! I reckon these have a value of around $175 at least, not including the discount vouchers as their value will depend on what you choose.'s the bit you're all waiting for! How can you enter?

The giveaway will be hosted on our Etteam blog and will start Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, depending on your timezone. There you will find a list of all the lovely Etsians who hosted Treasure or Alchemy, and made this tour such a wonderful adventure. Go to one of their shops, pick your favourite item and come back to the Etteam blog to post the link of that item. Don't forget you MUST leave contact details - shop/twitter/facebook/email whatever! You can enter once for EACH host, we'll pick a random winner and let you know who wins on the World Tour Facebook page on Monday 5th July. Good luck!

Monday, 28 June 2010

World Tour Giveaway News #2

Yesterday I brought you up to date with poor lost Treasure, and of Alchemy's trip to take her place at MyMothersGarden. She had a wonderful time helping out at a Garden Festival, where (amazingly!) one of the customers had already heard of the World Tour! Alchemy was given a lovely little trinket dish with bee motif to bring home for the giveaway. She also developed a passion for munching nasturtiums - potential new owner, take note please!

From Florida Alchemy moved on to North Carolina, to visit Bazketmakr. Here she learnt how to make this exquisite tiny horsehair basket. It works perfectly as a meerkat necklace (as you will see from the blog link) but could also be used by the prize winner as a cell phone charm.

Onwards again, to TeresasPrimTreasures where she made lots of new friends in snowy Virginia and gained a lovely sleeping bag (which I suspect would make a great cosy for a small appliance)

From Virginia to Michigan, were Alchemy visited with LeapingGazelle and discovered Detroit Coney dogs! (It's all about the stomach with meerkats!) Four gorgeous ArtCards were added to her stash of souvenirs - aren't they lovely?

The next leg of the tour took Alchemy out into the countryside, to a farm in Minnesota with GloriousHats. Alchemy had a host of adventures here including yet another treat for her stomach: home made maple syrup!

Alchemy is modeling her souvenir from GloriousHats, a sweet floral mini-fascinator. If you're not lucky enough to win the giveaway, this is a new line in GloriousHats' shop, modeled by another little meerkat who is now earning her keep as a milliner's model!

More prizes tomorrow, and details of how to enter!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

World Tour Meerkat Giveaway News!

Wow! Alchemy brought such a lovely haul home with her from her tour that I am going show you the prizes over several blog posts, and remind you of the adventures along the way. Of course, Alchemy didn't start the tour until after poor Treasure went missing, so it's only fair to start with Treasure's part of the story. Sadly all her souvenirs got lost too, of course, but her hosts have kindly supplied some replacements, as you will see.

For a super-duper interactive version of Alchemy's map, made by the lovely Tracy of Tyarkoni CLICK HERE

Niftyknits Meerkat Treasure left Kent, UK back in November 2009 with a press send-off and video coverage! see VIDEO interview

Her first host was CuteDesigns, where she partied with the plushies and picked up a travelling companion, a cute amigurumi acorn. The prize package will include details of where to buy your own little amigurumi friend.

Now Treasure began her overseas adventure, and soon arrived in Israel where Arosha brought out the masculine side of this little meerkat, sunbathing on the beach and helping with metalsmithing. Arosha has replaced the lost brooch with a 10% discount voucher for either Arosha or Sleeks.

Treasure liked Israel, so stayed a while longer. Her next visit was with Inbaliya where she celebrated Shabat and had acupuncture to help her travel sickness (yes, really. The meerkat had acupuncture. Follow the link to see the photos) Inbal made a little sleeping bag for Treasure, but has replaced it for the giveaway with a 10% discount voucher.

Next Treasure went to visit SpringColors in Jerusalem for a Happy Hanukah! Treasure took away a fabulous beaded pendant which has been replaced in our giveaway by a $30 voucher for Springcolors.

After leaving Israel Treasure headed North to Estonia to visit 5erg.

After leaving Estonia, disaster struck! Treasure was on her way next to Turkey, to stay with Meltem who had plans for many adventures. Sadly, we had to declare a Meerkat Emergency, because Treasure didn't arrive.

The meerkats looked everywhere...

and after a while, decided that it was best for Alchemy to bravely take the place of Treasure. Alchemy set off for the USA, to MyMothersGarden, and we all expected Treasure to turn up in Turkey one day and continue with the tour. Sadly, poor Treasure is *still* lost, so please keep an eye out if you're over that way.

5erg has also sent replacement gifts: a felted lady and a pair of earrings.

Meltem very kindly sent a prize even though she'd been missed out of the tour: a beautiful sterling silver high heeled shoe necklace and *5* 10% discount cards.

As you can see, this did cause a little confusion. Alchemy's mum (pictured) thought the necklace was a homecoming gift from Alchemy to her! We've explained to her that the souvenirs you've seen so far are just a FEW of the prizes for our giveaway that Alchemy will take with her to her new home.

There are many more prizes to show you, and many more reminders of the adventure before we get to the giveaway I'll see you tomorrow, I hope!

Asphodeline...a flower's tale

Remember my mystery flower?

The resourceful Kim identified it for me, it's an Asphodeline (no, I don't know how to pronounce it either)

The flower spike has continued to produce blooms at random intervals along its length, but now has discovered a new way to intrigue me.

Guess what it's doing now? I *think* it's trying to disguise itself as a tomato plant.

Both these photos were taken today, so weird to see the plant in different life stages at the same time! I wonder if the seeds will grow?

Friday, 25 June 2010

"Let's knit" spotted a meerkat

...or two!

I was hanging around on twitter yesterday when one of my friends @craftedgems let me know she'd spotted me in Let's Knit magazine - woohoo!

Funnily enough the piece mentions the previous world tour giveaway - pop back soon to find out how to win Alchemy, who has just returned from his tour of the States.

When I got to the newsagents it was all sealed up in plastic wrapping so I couldn't do my usual flick through. The kind shop assistant agreed to open it up to check it was the right issue (July, in case you want one!) and I duly handed over my cash. I noticed a couple of other folksy sellers mentioned this month: apart from my shop

I've found this Donut pattern from Lynne's Pattern Parlour

and Sparkly resin knitting needles from Pennydog

I've also learnt that my tried-and-tested cast-on method is known as the "cable cast on" and *shock horror* I quite fancy having a go at one of the patterns in this month's issue, a bookmark with beads "knitted in", I've often wondered how that works. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? :-)

There was a free gift with the's a "notions case". I'd love to hear what you think a "notion" is, cos I haven't got a clue! Whatever they are, they're not very big if they need to fit in this little case.

My final picture is of some gorgeous lampwork beads from craftedgems - if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have known about the magazine feature!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Alchemy has come home!

Alchemy is home! What an adventure this second world tour has been!

For newcomers, this epic adventure started way back in November (unbelievably long I know, but remember their legs are quite tiny). Two little meerkats set off to visit the homes of just some of my friends from Etteam. So many hosts volunteered that I had to say no, otherwise we'd never have reached the end!

Poor Treasure got lost, somewhere between Estonia and Turkey (map here) And then Alchemy bravely stepped forward to take up the mission.

Etta got back AGES ago and went off to her new home with all her lovely souvenirs.

And now *trumpet fanfare*

it's Alchemy's turn!

For a super-duper interactive version of Alchemy's map, made by the lovely Tracy of Tyarkoni CLICK HERE

I will be announcing the giveaway in a few days, so keep a close eye on the Meerkat World Tour Facebook :-)

Monday, 21 June 2010

This is - Christina

aka UmeOrigami who tells us in her profile about her motivation. Rather than copy and paste here, I urge you to read it all, in her own words - it's not often I find myself so moved by a profile!


Favourite colour?

Too many to name! I usually gravitate towards warm colors like peach, pink, and red... which is funny since I recently redesigned my website in black, grey, and blue!

Favourite smell?

The way it smells after a good summer rain in Pennsylvania. A weird answer, I know, but ever since I have moved out to California it is one of the smells that I miss the most! It is just earthy and perfect after a thunderstorm and everything has this amazing sublime quality. Now the only “rain” I get is from the lawn sprinkler...

Origami earrings

Favourite place?

Mt. Takao in Japan. It is about an hour outside of Shinjuku, Tokyo via the Keio line. It may not be as grand or as popular as Mt. Fuji, but it is a great hike and looks amazing in the autumn time.


Favourite sound?

I have a pet salamander who is aquatic and when she is hungry she likes to flip the stones on the bottom of the tank with her tail. It makes the cutest little “clink, clink” sound and she lets me know that she is there when I am all stressed out.

nifty: I've knitted a salamander (at least, I think so - is it the same as an axolotl?!

Favourite item in your shop of all time?

My Tomodachi magnetic paper doll bookmarks!


Although these are a relatively new product, I cannot get enough of them! I think they look so cute peeking out of my book. I am a graduate student so little things like that are enough to brighten my day! I keep meaning to list more, but I keep co-opting them for my own books...

Favourite shop that isn’t yours?

Can I have two? My two favorites are GiveGift on Zibbet and SesameBijoux on Etsy


I have been scheming for a long while to buy something from GiveGift because I absolutely adore the little pouches and bags made from Japanese fabrics. Her sewing looks nice and clean and I just cannot think of a cuter way to store things in my purse! Plus her work is affordable (5% off right now with free shipping!).

Nifty loves this one!

I have become a fan of SesameBijoux for her earrings. They are simple, gorgeous, affordable, and I always get compliments when I wear them. Her customer service is also amazing! I can personally vouch for her cascading crystal earrings.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt so far that you’d like to pass on to our readers?

I think the most valuable piece of advice is not to devalue your work. It gets hard sometimes when other people begin to sell similar things at rock-bottom prices, but you just need to know that your work and your time is valuable. People can buy origami all over the internet, but when my customers buy from me they know all the love, attention, and precision that goes into them. Just because it is a hobby, does not mean that you should give away your work for free--it takes years to cultivate that kind of creativity!

Nifty: Absolutely - and of course for some of us it isn't just a hobby, and maybe won't be for you, one day. Thank you for sharing with us - and if you haven't read Christina's profile yet, now is a good time!

Find Christina:

Want to join us on Zibbet? Please use NiftyKnits' referral link by clicking here.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

flexible love

that got your attention, didn't it?

saw this in the paper at the weekend, isn't it amazing?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Cooking USA style

One of my birthday presents was a Star Trek Cookbook (my son must want me to live long and prosper fatly!)

Luckily the recipes have been translated to allow us to use all-human ingredients...but not-so-luckily it's all in American.

Over this side of the pond, we weigh our dry ingredients. Over there - you use cups.

So far, so bad.

Wet ingredients are OK though (or so I thought) because we both use pints and fluid ounces. But wait - they're not the same!!!

My new best friend explained that a US cup is 8 fluid ounces...whereas a UK cup is 10 fluid ounces. Looks like I'd better buy an American measuring cup.

Back to the dry stuff. Can't be too hard to scoop out a cup of flour, can it?

But apparently it can. My new best friend says :" It's also important to realise that when an American recipe calls for "1 cup of flour", there is an assumption in how this is measured. Scooping out of a bag will compress the flour, and a cup can easily end up containing an extra quarter or even half an ounce, and this could make a big difference to the results. Instead, the "official" measuring technique is to stir the flour with a spoon to "aerate" it, then pour it into the measuring cup and level it off with a straight edge. Don't pat it down, or tap the cup on the workbench to level it off.

However, this only applies to very powdery dry ingredients, like flour. Other ingredients, like rice, brown sugar or fats, should be packed firmly in the measuring cup to avoid air gaps."

Oh good grief.

Even now I'm not ready to cook. Many recipes call for a "stick" of butter (although it seems even in America some of you prefer to buy your butter in "cubes", like the lower of these two!

In the UK we don't buy butter in sticks. We buy butter in 250gm packs.

My new best friend says "You normally buy butter in packs of a pound, consisting of four sticks, and they're usually marked in quarters (sometimes in eighths), making it easy to measure off, say, 2oz of butter, or "half a stick"."

Yet sometimes the recipe asks for "half a cup" of butter. What on earth do you do? Squash the butter in?

What would Neelix do?


I know what I did...made an English recipe chocolate cake, cut in half horizontally and sandwiched with raspberry jam!

The new part to me was the icing (USA = frosting?) I melted some chocolate (actually I burnt some chocolate to the bottom of the pan, went out and bought some more, then melted some chocolate) mixed in some raspberry jam (USA = jelly?) and some icing sugar (USA don't know what this is, the very fine powdery type) and a little water. Absolutely yummy!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Lunar Youth in USA!

If you don't know my son Dan is a musician, where have you been?

Here's a couple of photos of him with other bands, but right now he's in the States right now, playing with British band Lunar Youth ... don't tell him his mum told you!

Nighttime Diamond by LUNAR YOUTH
Venus in Blue Jeans by LUNAR YOUTH
Misfits (Velo Remix) by LUNAR YOUTH
Lost Machine by LUNAR YOUTH

Monday, 14 June 2010

This is...

Made on Fifth Street, from Zibbet (who really does live on Fifth Street!)

Favourite colour?

I have 2. Chocolate brown and turquoise. They each make my heart smile.

mini quilts

Favourite smell?

For sure coffee. It is comfort and survival all wrapped up in one glorious scent.

Favourite place?

My new house in the country. We are gutting it and redoing it with plenty of repurposed items and unique characteristics. I just love the abundance of possibilities there.

bunny softie

Favourite sound?

Either Worship music or silence.

Favourite way to spend your time?

I love to spend my time reading, visiting with friends (over coffee of course) and treasure hunting (others might call it junking).

Favourite item in your shop of all time?

My matryoshka dolls. Especially Abigail.



I just love the fabric I used to make her. Plus my dolls are really adorable and unique.

Favourite shop that isn't yours?

Aidan's Attic

camera strap from Aidan's Attic


I just love her camera straps. I ordered one for my mom and it was well made and very pretty.

What has been the most useful lesson you've learned so far that you'd like to pass on to our readers?

Well I have not learned a lot of successful tips for marketing and such. But one tip I do have is be kind and help others out.

hair clips

nifty: I like your tip, it would certainly make online shopping (and life itself!) pleasant :-)

The all-important links:

Made on Fifth Street

Twitter @FifthStreetMama

and on facebook

If you'd like your own Zibbet shop, please use Nifty's referral link here

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Women's lib, anyone?

On Thursday I giggled my socks off reading a blog by GoonerJamie. He's a house-husband and decided he'd up his game by following the well-meaning advice from a 1950s guide for housewives - you know the sort of thing, greet him at the door with fresh lippy* and sparklingly clean house, g&t at the ready, dinner on the table, no knickers (oops, not sure how that last bit crept in)

Anyway, I'll just wait a while while you go off and read Jamie's blog.

*taps fingers, humming to self*

Ok? You've read it?

I was more than a little surprised, then, to read a piece in the Guardian (maybe I'm wrong, but I thought all us Guardian readers were feminist lefties!) on Saturday which seems to show those days are actually alive and well!

I quote: (full text here)

As I stand waiting for my children, chatting to the other mums, I'm often secretly studying them and thinking, "When did you all stop looking in a mirror?" Ten-year-old tapered M&S jeans, baggy T-shirts, navy anoraks, Crocs – or, worse, flipflops – and not a pedicure in sight [...]

(by the way, be grateful I didn't use the first google image I found - search pedicure *shriek*)

It's not just about the lack of stylish clothes or make-up (although, really, how hard is it to apply some tinted moisturiser?), but the complete lack of respect for themselves. When did these women stop caring? Why? And what do their husbands think? It's hard to believe they walk in and think, "Phwoarr, unwashed hair, tracksuit bottoms and eyebrows that meet in the middle… I've got to have her now!"

[...]I can't help feeling that the somewhat downtrodden attitude that seems common among the mums I meet isn't helped by the fact they often don't even bother to do their hair each day.

Or...just maybe...could it be some other reason? Like the recession, or 24/7 childcare, or friends like you? Or maybe *just maybe* they've got interesting lives and don't wish to waste their time tarting themselves up for the playground witches when they've got a great afternoon of fun planned with their children.

When I was a young mum I found it a very messy job (paint, playdoh, sandpits, baking etc) and certainly didn't waste my time dressing up to impress people like this writer. Neither did my self-esteem depend on her opinion.

*Jamie assures me he doesn't wear lippy. Well, not on a weekday.