Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I had a parcel this morning from America - from my lovely meerkat collectors Jen and Grace!

I'd been asked who my favourite Disney character was and replied "Beauty and the Beast", due to an unfortunate incident many years ago when my daughter was tiny and flushed her "Beauty and the Beast" watch down the loo. Anyway - I'd thought no more about it till this morning, when the parcel arrived...

Look at my hat! Isn't it amazing? I can hardly believe they make Micky Mouse "ears" with a nice cup of British tea, UK flag and a beef-eaters hat...but the back even has NiftyKnits embroidered on so nobody is in any doubt who it belongs to!

I had my first cup of tea of the day in my new mug, but think the popcorn/nut/chock/crisp/caramel delights need to wait until after lunch. Don't want to sugar-rush this early in the day!

Clearly this is a day when I just *had* to wear a disney shirt :-)

Big big thanks to Jen and Grace, that was so sweet of you!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cats with thumbs

Just saw this advert for the first time and came straight to youtube to find it again - puuuurfect!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Every morning I can be spotted filling the birdfeeders - usually before my own breakfast. If I don't go out straight away the sparrows in the hedge get louder and louder, as if they're telling me off!

The sparrows are usually the first visitors, closely followed by the starlings who then squabble over the first baths of the day.

We also have a robin, a pair of ringed doves and a family of wood pigeons: they are ground feeders and rely on picking up the bits that the others knock down. A flock of 7 or 8 jackdaws turn up when they see the commotion. Until recently, they also fed from the ground. They're quite striking birds, with pale eyes and a grey neck.

This one seemed to be wondering about the source of the "manna from heaven"...

Then one morning, one of them decided they're not too big to go straight to the source, and we've now bought a stronger birdfeeder. The previous one has vanished altogether, whether they actually flew off with it I don't know - but it's not in the garden!

The bird feeders were originally intended for the resident families of blue tits and great tits, but they wait until the noisy early crowd have moved on and refuse to be photographed. This week we've seen our first pair of goldfinches, exquisite little birds that I really hope I can photograph. Do you feed the birds? Who is your favourite?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

King Lear MeerKat

Many many moons ago I studied English Literature A level, and King Lear was one of our set texts. Little did I realise way back then that one day I would be commissioned to knit the noble king - meerkatted!

My commission went one step further, however: not *just* King Lear, but Sir Derek Jacobi's King Lear!

He's now on his way across the pond to his new home, but I begged leave to share him with you, along with a few of the quotes I learned so many years ago to sprinkle into my essays!

"Every inch a king."
- William Shakespeare, King Lear, 4.6.109

"O! let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven;
Keep me in temper; I would not be mad!"
- William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.5.51

"Striving to better, oft we mar what's well."
- William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4.346

I liked this quote as I'm often guilty of not stopping soon enough, but keeping on and on trying to improve something that is fine already!

For Lear's coronet I used strands of embroidery floss and knitting yarn, some plaited, some woven, with a few autumnal leaf and bloom beads threaded through. I deliberately added in some "loose ends" to add to the rustic appearance and illustrate the unravelling of poor Lear's mind.

Deep, aren't I? ;-)

Many thanks for such a fun commission!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Murmuration of starlings

We were thrilled to see the starlings "doing their thing" in Brighton recently, and I was snapping frantically as we hurried towards their roosting place on the (remains of) the Western Pier.

Naturally, when we got near enough for a decent photo, they settled down to sleep - but it was great to see them swooping and swirling in the sky, moving as one, even though I was not able to get the fabulous shots I wanted!

You can see the starlings performing on video here , courtesy of the RSPB.

And finally - MrNifty snapped a photo of me with a halo (it's the new Brighton Wheel)

Friday, 25 November 2011

At the beach with ... Professor Brian Cox!

What a surprise!

We went for a walk along the beach at Camber, East Sussex - a gorgeous Autumn morning.

I was snapping the waves and the seagulls when we spotted a group of people clustered around a professional-looking camera. I turned to MrNifty and said (apropos of nothing) "If that's Professor Brian Cox he's on my list, OK?"

As we got nearer - OMG it really WAS Professor Brian Cox *swoon* (click on the pics to enlarge)

This is one of several circles in the sand he drew - according to the roadie they didn't have the budget for a helicopter, just a stick to draw with.

He certainly worked that stick hard though, he drew quite a few circles before settling on a camera-worthy version.

This last is my favourite photo - random dog-walkers wandered straight through the middle of the shot and the dog actually dropped his ball at the feet of the man himself, who kicked it for him. I *knew* I should have obtained a dog...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Moving on...

Many of you will know we've been trying to sell our house and relocate to the seaside - well, today is the day we finally give up on that dream for now.

It's been 7 months, we've had two "definite" buyers who have each dropped out. The first lost their own buyers, and the second was wooed away by another (slightly bigger) house in our street suddenly appearing for sale at £15,000 less than ours. Frankly, I'd have chosen that one too! After such a long time of keeping the house spotless, being relentlessly positive and finding somewhere to buy (twice!) we need a break. We'll try again when the market settles down (hollow laughter)

So - we're whistling along with the Monty Python boys "always look on the bright side of life" (nsfw)

I'm also concentrating on getting ready for Christmas! There are still plenty of meerkats in stock in each of my shops: Payvment Zibbet Etsy Folksy

and ... I've been knitting teeny weeny stockings, so until I run out all meerkat orders will come with a stocking for him/her to hang up for Santa!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Guess who I'm seeing tomorrow?


Last time I saw this band it was at Bournemouth Winter Gardens, 1973 I think, the Topographic Oceans tour ... a school trip!

Sadly Rick Wakeman isn't at this gig, but he's being replaced by his son which I think is quite a nice touch. Just discovered Jon Anderson isn't going to be there either :-( but it'll still be fun, a blast from the past.

the "new" lineup talk about this year's album - I'm pleased to hear the new singer has a touch of Jon about him.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


It's not often I splash out my hard-knitted cash on anything that isn't strictly necessary, but I had to have this:

It's a medieval style chess set, inspired by the famous Isle of Lewis chessmen. According to Wiki they were discovered in 1831 and were 12th century! You'll have to go to the British Museum in London, or the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, to see the originals, but you can buy these fabulous hand-made replicas from Ogg the Clever.

My tatty card chess board does not do them justice, so I'm gong to try to sweet talk my aunt. She has a lovely chess table which she's left to me in her will, but I clearly need it now ;-) The table (I must take a pic next time I visit) was handmade by my grandfather who was a master carpenter and builder and these pieces will look stunning on it.

Ogg the Clever has other versions too, I strongly recommend a visit to his shop. He says: "Each set is hand cast, painted, stained and lacquered to give a durable high quality result yet still retaining a certain ceramic and antique finish. They also all have hand cut soft felt bottoms, lucky things! The colours for this set are Moroccan Red for the dark and antique stone for the light.

The king is approx four inches in height which makes it a little higher than the ordinary Lewis sets and would suit a standard tournament board (not included I'm afraid) with squares about two inches or more."

Like I said - my aunt's table will be perfect! The fine details are amazing, it's like standing in an old church admiring the carving on the tombs (yep, my idea of good day out!)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Last Posting dates!

It's official - the Christmas rush is underway! I only have the one pair of hands, so if I need to knit to order for you, the earlier you order the better, you can find my shops here :-)

According to Royal Mail, the last dates for shipping from the UK in time for Christmas are as follows (but PLEASE allow longer, especially if you need to ship your parcel on again to the lucky recipient!)

Mon 5th December: South & Central America, Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, Asia, Far East (including Japan), Australia and New Zealand

Fri 9th December: Eastern Europe, USA and Canada

Mon 12th December: Western Europe

UK - 20th December but I expect my fingers will have been worn to the bone long before then!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Look what I won!

I was browsing for merchandising material last week, wondering about ordering some badges, when I came across a competition run by Awesome Merchandise. I can't resist trying for freebies, so I set to work. The task was to write a poem about (funnily enough) Awesome Merchandise.

Here's my entry (I know, it's not exactly Poet Laureate)

Banner, badge, keyring or card?
I can’t choose, it’s just too hard!
Caps would be cool, or maybe fridge magnets
I could even order some customised drumsticks

Lighters to wave at arms’ length at gigs
Or for hardened smokers, to light your cigs
Mugs for my coffee, picks for guitars
Mirrors for admiring myself from afar

Posters, postcards, stickers and shirts
There’s so much choice it almost hurts
Zipper pulls, flyers, canvas prints for my art
You’re awesome (you knew that!) you’re the one that I *heart*!

I didn't win (I know, you're surprised) but I did get a goody bag:

I have to say I'm impressed with the range and the quality. It's been 30 years or more since I last needed a lighter, and I confess I nearly set fire to myself trying out my freebie - yep, I held it upside down!

Thanks Awesome Merchandise!
I recommend keeping an eye on their facebook page in case they have any more competitions coming up.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

something new, something old...

nope, nothing for weddings, despite the misleading title!

Something old is a coupon code for Zibbet, it expires tomorrow so if you have been thinking about adding a meerkat or two to your shopping cart, use this code to get 15% off at checkout. All my Zibbet stock is "ready to ship", and the code is: IBTE03

Something new - due to be listed in all my shops during next week - a range of Christmas tree hanging decorations (all with meerkats, naturally!)

The first one went into Etsy today, he's hanging on a blue icicle!

I've also been adding bead eyes to my meerkat brooches this weekend:

They're also available as keychains, this one is only in Payvment so far. Don't forget there is an automatic 15% discount from that shop if you've "liked" my facebook business page.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

New facebook shop!


Yay for another place to find meerkatty goodness!

I've been hard at work this last week uploading (or is it downloading? I'm never sure!) meerkats into my new payvment shop on facebook.

Everything there will be ready-to-ship and if you've "liked" my page you get an automatic 15% discount. Prices are in lovely British ££££ and shipping is a standard £2, or £3 overseas.


New - and so far unique to facebook - are my tiny meerkat brooches and keychain! Most of your favourites will be there, but if the one you want is missing please get in touch and I'll stick it on my to-knit list.

Find my new shop by clicking HERE

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Creative descriptions 101

So - having spent all that time last month editing for relevancy on Etsy they've now thrown another spanner in the works. Tara Gentile wrote a guest blog for Etsy which has got me thinking along new tracks - and begging for help!

I had previously thought my pictures dealt with the cute, while my words described the practical issues that a picture can't explain - how big it is, what it's made of, the fact that I wire my meerkats so they're not suitable for children.

Tara said sellers and buyers look at descriptions from different perspectives, and that a buyer wants to know how buying my product will enhance their life.

That's a pretty big ask...but I passed it on to my facebook friends. I'd already seen many Etsy descriptions describing critters who are "up for adoption" or "seeking good homes" and frankly that sort of thing really isn't me.

I challenged Chris, from Pickled Jamjars Creative Writing to write a new description for poor Alice in Wonderland Meerkat. She's been renewed several times but hasn't found a home *sobs glitter tears*

Here's what I'd originally written:

"I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I a handknitted Meerkat when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?'

Designed & knit in the clean, fresh, country air in Kent, the Garden of England (no cigarette, perfume or pet odors) Alice has been transformed into a Niftyknits original meerkat. She's around 7" tall (18cm) and wears a beautiful blue dress with full lacy petticoat. On her head she wears (of course) an Alice band.

Her outfit is complete with stripy stockings and bright red shoes.

None of Alice's clothes are removable. Like all Niftyknits meerkats she is made to my own pattern. Her back legs and tail have been wired to allow her to stand freely in the typical "tripod" stance.


She is not suitable for small children due to small parts.

More meerkats ;

Meerkat greeting cards ;

Niftyknits Meerkats are wrapped in tissue paper and come with a signed and dated Certificate of Authenticity and a special edition Niftyknits fridge magnet.


So - that was me. Not very interesting, practical and very repetitive if you've read several listings. This is what Chris suggested:


Oh, well hello I'm Alice, isn't my hair divine? I simply MUST tell you about this adventure I just had... You will believe me? Won't you? It simply wasn't a dream, I'm quite sure!

I saw this rabbit you see... Oh? It was white, with a watch! And absolutely had to had to follow him. And I fell. Oh how far and fast. Down and down. Where? A rabbit hole of course! Didn't I say?

And I found my self in a wonderful land... Called Wonderland! And there was a dodo, and twins, and spectacle birds, and a caterpillar, and a mad hatter, and I got big, and then small, and then big, and oh, oh, oh.... What did you say? I'm speaking too fast?

Well there is simply one solution! I will just have to come home and tell you!


Well just look at me! My hair, my little blue dress, and my collars, and petticoats, and tights and shoes, oh my shoes are to die for! Oh I'm doing it again! Aren't I? I'll show you when I arrive, please do have some tea on for me! Assam, milk, two sugar lumps! Oh and I adore shortbread if you have any? See you in a week or two!


and then my original "practical stuff" to finish. What do you think? Funnily enough Alice expired yesterday (no, not the actual Alice, the listing) so I'm about to edit her. Of course if she now sells I'll owe Chris commission ;-)

Here's Alice (edited to add she already had 2113 views, 39 admirers and has been in 9 Treasury lists (from before I made the changes), it'll be interesting to see what difference the changes make)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

'Tis the season!

Yes I know it's early...but a meerkat is for life, not just for Christmas! (pssst - turn your speakers on)

Create your own video slideshow at

Saturday, 8 October 2011

the north wind doth blow...

Actually, I don't know which way the wind was blowing, but there was plenty of it on Wednesday at Broomhill Sands. Still no progress on moving home to the coast, so we're making do with lots of days out.

It wasn't exactly warm, but I stand by the Scandinavian proverb: There's no such thing as bad weather, only incorrect clothing.

These two guys were up and away in no time. From our perspective, it sometimes seemed as if the many surfers were bound to crash!

The kite surfers frequently lifted off the sea completely, but never when I was pointing the camera in their direction.

The gulls also seemed to be enjoying the wind, taking off effortlessly (as long as they were facing in the correct direction!) This one was picking up shellfish, flying up,dropping it down to the beach to crack open then retrieving his lunch.

I really liked the patterns the sea made in the sand as it retreated.

This next pattern would make a nice lacy knitted shawl!

Most of all - apart from enjoying watching all those surfers - we enjoyed feeling alone with nature.

A beach is for life, not just for summer!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

New Meerkat Trekkie fan photos!

My friend and meerkat-collector Barry has been to another convention!

Here's Barry introducing Jennifer Lien to meerkats Kes and Neelix

Armin Shimerman meeting meerkat Quark:

Trekkie meerkats are available from my shops on Etsy and Zibbet

and there are even more MeerTrekkie fan photos on my fanpage

Live long, and prosper!

Which reminds me...did you know I bought a Tshirt from the wonderful Leonard Nimoy's Etsy shop? You don't want to see a photo, do you? Really? Ok then...