Tuesday, 31 May 2011

funny birds - or a car wash?



I always "expect the unexpected" in Brighton, especially at Festival time - but this stopped me in my tracks!



I wish I'd been there for the installation of this work "Droles d'oiseaux" as I now realise they were painted during a procession by boiler-suited house-painters standing on the roofs!

I just thought it was a new type of car wash...

Monday, 30 May 2011

I'm a poster-girl!

You'd have to have been there, probably...but we spotted a poster for an upcoming beer festival. Looking closely, Mr Nifty and I are immortalized in the centre of the three bottom photos taken on a previous year! do you think they'll give us a free pint on the strength of that?


Saturday, 28 May 2011

feed me, feeeeeed meeee!

You can (in fact I insist!) click on each photo to enlarge it. Otherwise, basically, it's a lot of white and black birds with camouflaged chicks.

We went back to Rye Harbour Nature reserve to see if the chicks had hatched. Oh yes indeed they had - with a vengeance. My goodness they're noisy!


There was a constant coming and going of adult birds, fetching food. Each time a parent landed its chicks would surround the parent, chasing it round and round. Eventually the parent seemed to say "You kids are making me sick with all this chasing around" and then...yup, it'd throw up. And the kids would gulp down HUGE chunks of regurgitated food. Yum. The chick in the foreground of the picture above had herded its parent away from the other chicks so it got the whole meal. Resourceful - he'll go far!

The chick in the middle of the shot was jumping up and down flapping his pathetic little excuses for wings "Look mum, I'm flying!"



Can you see the three birds in the middle of the picture below? They're a different breed - and WE NOTICED! much slimmer, black cap instead of black head, red beaks - they're common terns, the others are black-headed gulls. *is birdspotter*



However - *is not **good** birdspotter* - don't know what this is, a duck of some sort I think, but he had a fine time trying to get this fish down his throat. Eyes bigger than beak.

Friday, 27 May 2011

New greeting cards!



I really like designing cards, but I always want to make so many different ones that I end up with only 1 or 2 of each design - so if you want one of these, you'd better be quick! Only some of the new cards are listed so far today, and only on Zibbet at the moment.

Here's my greeting card section

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Why?


I'm accustomed to answering "What do you do?" but yesterday Megan Auman (business oracle!) suggested that "Why?" is the more important question.

She says "people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it" and that got me thinking.

I'll have a cup of tea while you read her article here: http://www.craftmba.com/2011/05/17/standing-out-by-starting-with-why/

There are lots of answers of course.

One is that I pay my bills by selling my work :-)

But *why* do I do precisely what I do? Why do I knit meerkats, why do I put them in costumes? some of that is answered in my "About Me" page here, but the short answer is that I have found my niche. I started knitting all sorts of things, but it's the meerkats that people most often buy, and they like being able to "design their own". Many of my meerkats started life as commissions, some then find many more buyers, some don't.

Megan goes on to say that "companies that start with WHY – a belief, cause, or idea beyond what they make – build loyal fans for life"

I'd be stretching it a bit to say I have a belief or cause behind my kats, but I do have loyal repeat buyers. Maybe I do have a belief? I always say if it isn't fun, I won't do it. I like to think my sense of fun shows through - maybe it's that childlike enjoyment that keeps people coming back? Maybe it's that head-shaking wonder - what on earth will she make next?

I don't know - but as long as it continues to be fun for me and fun for you, here's to the future!

I'm still interested though - Why do you do what you do? Do you really care why people you buy from do what they do?

I'd love to hear your answers!

Foraging for sharks' teeth


We went house-hunting again today, but as it was low tide we started off by visiting Beltinge beach, supposedly one of the best places in Britain to find fossil sharks teeth.

According to the article I linked to above, it's best to kneel or bend down. I soon discovered what happens when you sit on wet shingle!


We were not at all sure we'd find what we were looking for - but MrNifty found the first tooth very quickly, then (luckily!) I found one. We'd have been there all day if I hadn't been successful too! I photographed the first two in my wedding ring to show how tiny they are.


We had an uninvited guest at our picnic lunch:



After lunch we both managed to find another tooth before heading off househunting. You'll be pleased to hear I changed out of my wet shorts! It's quite amazing to think these teeth are from so very long ago - 54 million years according to my link !



Makes me feel quite young ;-)

here's hoping we can move to the sea sooooooon!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

We're on an album cover!


Now I *really* didn't expect this to happen, but a while back Malcolm from Talking Elephant saw my knitted Morris Dancers in my Niftyknits flickr photostream, and asked permission to use one on the cover. Naturally enough I leapt at the opportunity, and sent him some more!


Funnily enough it turns out Malcolm and I could have met at Tenterden Folk Festival where I used to have a craft stall, and he has a music stall. I shall certainly make a point of seeking him out this Autumn!


My little dancers are discontinued now (the meerkats took over) but I have just three Morris Dancers remaining in stock and on sale at greatly reduced prices in my zibbet shop *click here*



Moral? You never know who's watching you! Thanks Malcolm, I'm enjoying listening to the music :-)

Monday, 16 May 2011

We've been Gokked!



I've been working hard at giving my site a makeover all weekend, what do you think?

*Pause for compliments* :-)

All those lovely new pages :-)

I've also been knitting new designs and preparing some new greetings cards for the printer...so watch this space!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Life without blogger?


Goodness me it was stressy yesterday when blogger spontaneously exploded. Personally I think it was because my last post (which vanished for a day) featured Ming the Merciless Meerkat. Maybe blogger's meltdown was the beginning of the annihilation of the Earth?

If you were one of the many joining the panic on twitter or facebook, I recommend making sure you are following their updates!

Blogger buzz

@blogger on twitter

blogger status

blogger help forum

I'm going to be giving my blog a facelift over the next week or two, it's high time I used more of the available features. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear from you!

So far all I've done is switch to 3 columns (and one of those is empty as yet!) but I'm planning on getting more organised, creating more pages so my shop contact details are more accessible and generally decluttering.

I *might* separate out the blog posts into categories, but I'm not sure how easy that would be or even if it's worthwhile. I enjoy posting randomly, mostly because I don't usually enjoy reading blogs that are *only* about the particular blogger's craft and shop. I like to feel I'm getting to know someone through their blog - and I hope you do too!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

FLASH! Aaaa aaaaa....



"What should I wear to save the universe, Dale?"


*evil laugh*
"What fools these earthlings are!
One twiddle of my moustache and she'll be mine!"


"Get behind me Dale, I'll save you!"

"But Flash - you'll never get the stains out of that white shirt.
Wear the other one"

"Flash, I love you - but we only have 14 hours to save the world!"



At the moment, Flash and Dale are in my Zibbet store,
Ming is in my Etsy store. Cards coming soon!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Plants versus Zombies


When I made some PvZ knits I thought I was addicted to the game - but I was a mere beginner. Now I *know* I'm addicted...


Only 12 times? Really?



I spend more time tending my Zen Garden than my real one.
Not *quite* a million dollars in the pot? (It won't go any further!)


Survival Endless is a little worrying, only 18 flags - maybe I'd better try again?


The last two Endless puzzles need more work too - I'm slacking.



They even have their own section in my Zibbet shop...scary! Click here

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Oh yes, my son plays keyboards with his foot...



LOL I attended many many music lessons with him when he was a kid, and I don't remember that technique. Great to see so much energy! Tim Booth has no spine, I swear - how on earth does he move like that?

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Ooooh we got another parcel!

*WARNING* not suitable for those of a nervous disposition ;-)


As you may have read, the meerkats were very excited recently when Graham the snail came visiting, so they were extremely pleased when the postman delivered a parcel. Maybe Graham is back?

As it was such a sunny day we took the parcel out to the decking.


I can see little pink ears! (it's not Graham the snail then!)


I think he's asleep, look at his little closed eyes - let's lift him out.


Oh good grief - a severed head! HELP! HELP!

Quick - get behind the box - I hear rustling - HELP!


Fortunately a Superhero was at hand - and as Axel the Executioner Mouse leapt out of his box Thor Meerkat stepped firmly forward, hammer poised to deal a deadly blow...


Luckily Niftyknits was also around (well, honestly - who do you think took the photos?) and lifted Axel and the severed head out of the way. After seeing he was poised above the pond, Axel promised he'd retire from executing, and only use his axe for chopping logs in future.



We were last month's mouse-winner from the blog of the House of Mouse - why not enter and see if you're as lucky as us? If you can't wait then head over to the House of Mouse and buy one!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Art? Graffiti? Banksy?

While we were in Brighton this week our son suggested we went to see the Banksy on a pub wall near where he lives.

Brighton has loads of street art (or graffiti, depending on your point of view) and I've shared photos of it before *click here*

Banksy, however, is considered a *real* artist and commands very high prices - which got me thinking about "Art", as we wandered the streets looking for the Prince Albert pub, site of the "Art" in question.

First we spotted John Peel. He's especially famous in our family. Many many years ago (1983) at stupid o'clock in the morning he played a track by my brother, who was briefly with "Those Attractive Magnets". (Incidentally I still have a mint copy of "night life", feel free to make me an offer!)



I don't know who painted John Peel - neither do I know who painted this:



But this is what we'd come to see:



I've only just noticed my reflection in the policemen's trousers - do you think it adds to the image? Here it is again, without me!



As you see, it's been covered with perspex and framed because it'd been vandalised. Vandalised? Yes, apparently someone had painted graffiti on it...

Hmmm.

I don't know the back story - feel free to explain in a comment if you know. It is of course a political piece - Brighton is the gay capital of the UK and this image of gay policemen was painted in 2004. It wasn't until 2007 that uniformed gay policemen were allowed to take part in Brighton's Gay Pride march.

As I took my photo, a barman rolled out a barrel from the pub and stopped to chat. He explained that what I was photographing wasn't actually the "real" Banksy, it was a copy. The "real" one has been removed and is for sale!

This got my brain ticking further. Who "owns" street art? Presumably Banksy wasn't commissioned by the publican, I imagine he painted it as a statement and intended it for all to see and react to. To my mind, Art is a conversation between artist and audience - this is why I never understand so-called Art painted by elephants or copies of Old Masters. OK so maybe they're pretty, but there is no dialogue.

Leaving that aside - I was happily photographing a fake. And I wasn't the only photographer, even in the brief minute I stood there.

Who would get the money? I googled, and apparently it's likely to make a million pounds. The publican says it'll go to maintain the pub.

Does it matter that the one now on show is a fake? I wouldn't have known if the barman hadn't been feeling chatty. Would you have known?

The newest Banksy is apparently in London. Westminster Council removed the last one (it didn't have planning permission) so hurry up if you want to see it!

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Personally, I enjoy street art and think it brightens up our urban environment. I totally understand why the publican would want to capitalise on his luck - but at the same time I think the Art deserves to stay where it is for all to experience. At the same time though, I would have been just as happy with the copy because I wouldn't have known. But now...I *do* know. I don't like it when people copy my own work. But this isn't about what the Artist himself thinks, he hasn't (as far as I know) given an opinion. He's painted, expressed himself, moved on.

Street Art by its very nature is ephemeral. A Graffiti Artist knows the council may remove his work at any time. If he wanted it to be permanent, he'd buy a canvas, wouldn't he?

And yet - oh I don't know. What do YOU think? Just to confuse the issue still further - this was just around the corner!



Finally - Banksy is very very welcome to come paint on my walls as a million pounds would come in handy ;-)

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Tim Booth in Brighton

We were in Brighton last night, to see Tim Booth at the Komedia. We had a very special reason - our son, Dan, is part of Tim's tour line-up playing keyboards and sax.

Their set started surprisingly - instead of coming on stage, they processed in to "As far as I can see"...and being short, I couldn't see that much! You might be able to make out Tim in the hat, but naturally I was focussed in on Dan, in stripy top and waistcoat on the right playing a weird-looking harmonica (click on photos to enlarge)













Tonight they're in London, and then fly out to Greece. We're very proud of Dan for "living the dream" as a professional musician. Knowing how insecure I was at his age (26) it's great to see him so confident working with these guys - so much older, so much more experienced. *proud mum glow*

I'll end with two clips from youtube - one of Tim's tour band (yes, with Dan!) rehearsing, and the other of the support band Unkle Bob who we also enjoyed - thank you!

Tim's album is available of course click here - I was singing along by the third playing on our way home!