Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Me-time at Christmas!

This year I decided to give myself a gift - a stress-free Christmas. I closed my shops early enough so that there was no danger of last minute buyers being worried about their parcels being delivered, and so that I could spend some time not-knitting!

My christmas cake this year has a string of baubles over some (bought in) robins sitting on chocolate logs, and the robin theme continues with my very first attempt at felting, a big robin sitting on a big chocolate yule log.

The mince pies are now sitting in the freezer, ready to go straight in the oven to warm up again.
This also serves the purpose of preventing MrNifty eating them too early ;-)

I've even made myself some Christmassy shooting star earrings (that's not my ear though!)

Have a wonderful Christmas break - and I'll see you all after the holidays. In case you have an urge to spend those holiday gift vouchers at Niftyknits, my shops are all open again :-)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

My spammers are really stepping up ;-)

I love my real-life readers and their comments are much appreciated. Even with the captcha (which I hate) a few spammers manage to make their way through to moderation though...

Here's one of today's offerings (link removed of course!)

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I can only agree...

Sunday, 15 December 2013

My first attempt at needle felting!

I've been trying to find time (and the requisite nerve!) for ages... and today is the day!

Can you tell what it is going to be? I'm not saying yet, because then if it's a disaster I can change my mind!

Enough for one day, I need a sherry. Needle felting, if you didn't know, is HURTY! I have stabbed my fingers and thumbs several times and think I should buy some special suit-of-armour type gloves.

It's fun to try something new though!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Sharks' teeth by the hundreds

Since we moved to this stretch of coast in March we've been scavenging for fossils every week, every day sometimes! Today we decided to sort through our finds and count them. The one above is a good example, it has both of what we call the wings and hooky bits (yep, very professional terms!) but many of our finds are damaged partials. They still count though! There are 443 partial teeth in the next pic - crazy number!

We separated out 62 of the best teeth, they come in all shapes and sizes. 443 +62=505!!  I don't know how we found some of the tiniest, we just seem to get in the zone some days! You can have a virtual hunt here

Here's my favourite again:

I really need to find a way to display them. I might fix some in a box frame, but what I'd really like to do is make a coffee table with a glass top and a partitioned area beneath, maybe using printer's trays. Hmmm, one day....!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Christmas deadlines!

Royal Mail are optimistic as always, so I've put an extra week into my own deadlines to be sure your orders arrive in time for gifting (though you could always keep them for yourself!)

Please allow extra time if I need to "knit to order".
Christmas at zibbet
Christmas at etsy
Christmas at folksy

Wednesday 27 November Asia, Far East (including Japan), New Zealand
Thursday 28 November Australia
Friday 29 November Africa, Caribbean, Central & South America, Middle East
Monday 2 December Cyprus, Eastern Europe
Tuesday 3 December Canada, France, Greece, Poland
Friday 6 December USA
Saturday 7 December Western Europe (excluding France, Greece, Poland)

Friday, 8 November 2013

Global domination, one meerkat at a time

Somebody asked me yesterday how many countries I'd sold to, which was a great excuse to stare at the maps in Etsy's shop stats! The purple highlights in the map above show countries I've shipped to. The darker the purple, the more parcels have gone thataway.

So far, I've sent my knits to: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, USA and of course UK!

I love it when a new country appears in the list (thank you Chile!)

It's interesting to see that I get views from countries who are still holding out, still meerkat-free... those are the countries in the map below, highlighted in blue but not also purple in the map above. Which country will be next I wonder?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Oooh how exciting - I've won an award!

I was very pleased today to be told that Homecrafts had chosen my blog as the NUMBER ONE top crafting blog! You can check out the other blogs here, and meanwhile - do please partake of a cocktail with me!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Fordwich, Britain's smallest town

We walked from Fordwich village along the side of the river Stour (isn't it lovely?) to the "highly attractive" Reed Pond (according to the directions) ...which currently is infested with toxic algae and not that attractive after all. Lots of invisible birds in the treetops but only one item of wildlife to be seen...

The walk passes through Ministry of Defence land which explains this sign - haven't seen one of these before! I didn't stop for long, honest officer.

The picture below shows the contrast between the public land - the side I'm standing on - and the other bank of the river which is somebody's garden. Gorgeous!

We then strolled around the village - which apparently is a town.

 A VERY small town, two pubs and a decommissioned church and fabulous architecture.

We had a drink in the George and Dragon, our table started life as a huge bellows, presumably from a blacksmith. Isn't it great?

The town sign shows the legendary Fordwich trout which was known to Izaak Walton who wrote the Compleat Angler in 1653, I'm guessing the fish is long gone :-)

One of many fabulous historic buildings - this was the home of artist Alfred Palmer from 191 till his death in 1951.

I really like the brickwork at the roofline on this next building, which according to its blue plaque was the home of  John and Gregory Blaxland who lived here between 1769 and 1806 in between exploring Australia. According to wiki "The government promised them land, convict servants and free passages, in accord with its policy of encouraging 'settlers of responsibility and capital" (not like the other settlers who had made the mistake of stealing a loaf of bread then.)

This next building, unbelievably, is the Town Hall. It's closed for the winter but has a ducking stool and is registered as a wedding venue (at which presumably the ducking stool is not used).

Th other pub - the Fordwich Arms - look at the chimneys! The window brickwork is great too.

I loved this little cottage next to the church, not sure how I would feel about graves next to my window but then I took a closer look...

I don't think I've seen tombstones with skulls before, aren't they wonderful?

One last architectural gem, look at the way these windows are leaded. Beautiful.

Monday, 14 October 2013

100% handmade, by me

I'm republishing a post I wrote a year or more ago, as it seems extra relevant now in the light of Etsy's recent "Town Hall" announcement that some Etsy sellers may now allow others to make their wares.
Needless to say, I have always, and will always, be knitting everything I sell.

Some people even grow their own sheep, shear, spin, design and knit, pack and ship completely alone.

And then there are those who say even factory-made items are handmade - because there are hands there somewhere, pressing levers or taking part in a production line.

I'm at neither extreme but I'd like to show you a little of what handmade means to me.

I certainly don't grow my own wool, in fact I mostly use acrylic as it is hard-wearing and comes in the bright colours I prefer:

This photo was taken a year ago, the stash is even bigger now. The bag at top right holds bits of fleece I use for hair and other embellishments, the big wooden box holds all my fancy yarns. 

My patterns are my own, and are rarely written out in much detail which means each meerkat may differ slightly. I think this adds to the nature of "handmade", and have argued fiercely on the forums with those who hold the opinion that this is proof that handmade is "not perfect".

 You can see some of my essentials here - modeling wire, jeweller's pliers and cutters and of course a comfy chair! Did you guess what I was knitting?

What else do I do? I print my signature labels on the computer, though I have to confess MrNifty's computer skills were used to design the original sheet  - but using my photo and text. I sew a label on to each meerkat (except the very tiny ones), usually on their little bottom.

I also designed and print Certificates of Authenticity to go with each meerkat, using my product photos which...who'd have thought?...are taken by me with the aid of lovely photoshop elements which I can't recommend highly enough.

Finally each kat is wrapped in tissue paper and popped in a padded envelope for his or her journey to a new home. Sometimes MrNifty does the post office run for me.

So - is my work handmade? YES! 

Have you been affected by the recent changes? 

Friday, 27 September 2013

The last sea-going paddlesteamer in the world!!!

We were sitting in the conservatory eating breakfast, looking out at the sea, when I spotted an odd-looking boat. Turns out it's the last sea-going paddlesteamer in the world - wow, what a treat!!

MrNifty took the photo through the telescope so it's not the best quality, but I'm still in awe. Keep going to the window to check - yup, still there!!

It's called the Waverley and runs a range of excursions. I think I prefer to see her from my window!

There's a BBC clip here telling the history http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-22823089

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Where did the summer go?

My poor blog - so neglected! But looking back at just a few photos, I can see why - I've been living, not blogging! Lots of walking on the beach and bird-spotting (the little cuties above are turnstones).

We've been to lots of local events, big thanks to Herne Bay Promo Team for giving us such a great summer!

Went to see Coco and the Butterfields, for FREE, twice!

If you haven't heard them, I recommend giving them a listen. They have a bizarre blend of folk and hiphop, and tremendous energy.

I hadn't heard of Marcel Duchamp (sorry, I'm a philistine), but the festival in Herne Bay was great with lots of original work to enjoy. His local collection was that he sent a postcard to someone saying "I'm not dead, I'm in Herne Bay". Hmmm. 

There were decorated bikes all over town, I liked this one because #1 it's knitted, and #2 there are CAKES!

More birdwatching?

We've been enjoying the garden (and the sea view!) too... as was this spectacular moth. Don't know what it is (do you?) but it was beautiful, so fragile, almost like parchment.

Somehow we found time to help our son and new daughter- in-law move house, with the assistance of their kittens. You saw the wedding pics, I hope? My dancing blisters are healed now!

Then there was a torch procession and fireworks...

We sat on the slopes at Tankerton and watched the Waterski World Championship (I think!). No idea who was winning but my goodness they were fast. 

We also watched a lot of sailors enjoying the sea

And of course we're still fossil hunting. Our collection of fossil sharks teeth now has around 150, but we have finally found two fossil fish vertebra after months of searching. 

I found the first, and then MrNifty found the second one the next day.

I found time to knit a ghostbuster! He'll be going to meet his actor friend with Barry next month, so there will be another photo of him in the fan section soon.

We'll be moving (yes, again) in the spring when our current lease expires, so thought we'd have a week in Bognor Regis, to see if we fancied trying living there. By the end of the week we've decided that Bognor itself isn't for us, but the outskirts look promising, maybe Felpham or Aldwick

The clouds were amazing that day, there was almost a straight line.

Big beaches - and yay, we found fossils!! Rotularia bognoriensis to be precise, fossil marine worms (I haven't suddenly become an expert, we saw some later in the museum!)

Bognor even has pretty street lights along the seaside!

We had lunch at the Fox one day, where William Blake was arrested for sedition! We also ate at another local pub, the Thatched House - both made us want to move there NOW.

So that's just a little of what I've been up to during the last couple of months - how was your summer?