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September 2012
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November 2012

because you're awesome

Stone trhowin
stone throwing

A happy day to our Halloween birthday girl Gracie. We love you in so many ways. These are a few recent images that are very Gracie. Eleven looks good on you... except in that last photo ;) 

Love you sweet pea.

Mama xoxo

Owl painting
owl painting

Rip stickin
rip sticking

Corpse bride
halloweening


Some autumn notes and a message to Typepad

Pinata time
Piñata in the making

I apologise to Instagram users, these images are repeated there.

We enlisted helpers for Gracie's birthday piñata this year. It made fast work of the job. We won't tell the helpers that the piñata balloon lost air overnight and became the shape of a giant raisin, it might "deflate" their enthusiasm to help next time. Problem averted, new piñata in the making and we'll try and salvage the first one to use on another day. 

I forgot to tell G the secret of keeping a punching balloon inflated for papier mache. I must make a list of our tips and tricks for piñata making and smashing. As this is the 24th birthday piñata we've made we've come up with quite a list of tips for successful birthday piñata. They were included in an article a few years back, I'll have to dig it out and share it here.

Millennium theatre
Wales Millennium Theatre, Cardiff

We had such a brilliant time at the Green Day stage show in Cardiff at the Wales Millennium Centre. We were really lucky to get the tickets, and what an amazing venue. The building, designed by architect Percy Thomas, is beautiful. Not just it's famous facade, but all the way around it and from every angle it's stunning. The use of materials and form and function are all outstanding. The theatre itself was also fantastic, great acoustics and there's not a bad seat in the house for viewing. The show itself also lived up to all the great reviews and awards it's received, we loved it.

Apples shaken
Apples shaken

The big apple orchard that's part of one of my walks is full of apples for cider making. Cider is a big local speciality. In the UK cider is alcoholic, not apple juice. The method for harvesting the cider apples is to shake the trees and scoop the apples up with a big vaccuum type machine attached to a tractor.

 

Cider time
Loaded up for cider making

I wish I actually liked cider, local ales are my pub beverage of choice. But the smell of the apples at harvest is amazing.

Honkers
Geese on the move

The geese are on the move and I might be on the move again too. Not moving house (thank goodness!) but moving from Typepad to Wordpress or other blogging platform. For me Typepad was by far the best solution for blogging without having to code when I first started blogging. Back then I felt Typepad blogs stood out from the crowd for their design differences and the platforms stability, but I don't feel Typepad has kept up with trends and the needs of it's users. 

In order to make simple changes to my blog (for instance taking extra pixels or padding out from around photos) Typepad wants a person to upgrade to a more expensive monthly package. This means to make a simple aesthetic change and improvements I have to up my monthly outgoings. It may be just a few pounds to them, but to me on a monthly basis it's significant in the financial grand scheme of things. Pay extra pounds to remove a few pixels, grrrrrrr. 

Typepad keep up. The internet is information and image focused, especially blogs. We want to be able to display our images to their full potential and not have to use CSS to do so. Even if we want to take the time to use CSS we don't want to have to pay for it, not when there are free blogging platforms that are offering just as much as Typepad if not more for the image and design enthusiast. I used to be able to adjust things in html easily in Typepad, but their model has changed over time and now we must pay more to make minor changes.

Typepad, if you want to continue with this business model then it's time to add more design flexibility for all your users, especially your dedicated, long-time users. Offering me 10% off doesn't cut it. At the very least, design new themes that are dedicated to creative image use and add attractive widgets that are keeping up with your competition or I see doom in your future Typepad. Come on, you started so strong; put some dosh back into development directed to us time-short, design-centric users. I want to be loyal to you Typepad because you've served me well, but you must keep a sharper eye on your user's needs. It's very simple, if you want to charge premiums you must offer more value than the free systems and right now you don't.

I chose to pay for your service over Blogger and Wordpress when I started for three reasons. Superior layouts, site stability and customer service. Even Blogger has caught up on the first two points and the third is less of an issue now with users in forums being as savvy as they now are. 

If I can find an easy and inexpensive way to make the switch I will. I want to keep this online diary going but I don't want to be held to ransom by a service that may keep adding expenses at will. If anyone knows of a way, let me know. I'm still researching it but at the moment I'm leaning towards moving to Wordpress.org because I'm now visually attracted to Wordpress.org sites in the way I used to be attracted to Typepad sites. I think the whole process will take a lot of time, and time I am very short on so I might be stuck here for a long while.

If you use Typepad have you experienced these frustrations? Have you simply upgraded or found another solution? Please tell.

Jx

More honkers
See you in the spring geese


Thanks and blues

Voodoo felting
voodoo felting

This is one of those weeks where lots was accomplished but not in a tangible sense. Lots behind the scenes stuff that just needs doing. As well as planning, designing and the usual busy family stuff.

I wanted to say thanks to everyone for the incredibly kind words about the moths both here and on Facebook too. It's fun to get such great feedback on something I loved doing. And thank you to those who made kind donations for the full pattern set too, it's always appreciated.

The tiny stitching above is a thank you gift I whipped up. I know hog weed is considered a pest here in the UK but I love the structure of it, especially in skeleton form that we're left with come autumn.

The other images are from last weekend when I had a few hours on my own and I spent them at Kilve. The landscape there is all consuming, I could spend all day at Kilve and feel like I'd just arrived.

We're off this afternoon to see this show in Cardiff.  Green Day are one of T's favourite bands, he can play all their songs, but we didn't think we could swing it for the price of the tickets. We happened to see an offer for three tickets for next to nothing by someone in a neighbouring village who couldn't go. Now we get to go – someone up there likes us :)

Better run, have a great weekend.

Jx

Hog weed stitching
hog weed stitching

Rock formations
rock formations, kilve

Natural paving
natural paving


mending moth holes with moths, a short tutorial

Shoulder-moth

This was meant for a magazine last year but the mending theme for the issue changed and I was too busy to follow it up so I happily tucked it away to share here for another day. 

I often wear huge sweaters around the house with lots of layers underneath. My wintertime mantra is the same as my father's when I was young and complained about a cold house "Put on more clothes." This particular sweater was discarded by it's previous owner when his beer belly outgrew it so I snapped it up to layer with. Unfortunately the moths nibbled a big hole in the shoulder and some smaller ones in the front.

Hypoprepia Moth sample
Lisa took some amazing moth pictures a while back and I thought, I might not mind moth holes so much if they were made by those beauties. Then thought, why not cover up the holes with those beauties (I wouldn't choose the ugly little grey critters that really make the holes).

So I made some drawings of my favourites and pulled them into Illustrator, I was pleased with the way they turned out as line art. I then did some watercolour sketches of my moth selection and created a new pattern set of five moths. So I offer you up one moth patch, click here to download. If you'd like the whole page of five moth illustrations with my watercolour sketch as a guide they're available on my pattern page. Moth watercolour sml sample

On this sweater I've used two moth patches. The patch above (antheraea polyphemus) I made by embroidering on to felt and needle felting a body. The patch on the front (gnophaela vermiculata) is mostly needle felted with a little black stitched detailing.

This is how to make the patches

  1. First cut out the moth shape from paper.
  2. Then trace it onto a piece of felt or felted wool that is a similar colour to the moth body. I find a ball point (biro) pen the best tool for tracing onto felt. You will want to either cut off the pen mark or stitch over it to hide it.
  3. Next cut around the moth, not right on the line, leave space around it.
  4. Then fill in the moth with embroidery stitches and/or needle felting. I used both embroidery and needle felting for both of these patches.
  5. Referring to a picture of the moth, pick up the thread and start drawing with it. Just start stitching, if you haven't freehand stitched before you'll be surprised at how your hands can use the needle like a pencil. Moths are a particularly good subject to try this with because they are symetrical and therefore easier to position each element in.
  6. When you finish the details of your moth, cut it out, close to the edge but not right on it.
  7. Next prepare your hole for your patch. I mended the holes with a simple darning stitch using mending wool. If you've never mended a sweater before I just searched around for tutorials and found this one on Martha Stewart but any vintage family sewing book should show you. The mending step might seem silly since the hole will be covered up, but mending it first will help your sweater withstand future washes better.
  8. Using mending wool or a couple of strands of embroidery thread, cover your mended hole with the patch and hand stitch around it. Be careful of your tension while stitching. If you pull the thread too tight while stitching the sweater will pucker around the patch, too loose and the patch won't look tidy.
  9. Finally, add the antenae straight on to your sweater being sure to start your stitches under the top of the moth's head to hide the join, again, watch the tension in your stitching.

Mending tutorial

Hope you have a go. If you download the pattern let me know how you use it, or add an image to the Created with Nini Flickr Group. I'm no nature Illustrator so this art is not exactly accurate for the purists out there, the gnophaela vermiculata for example is much bluer than a real one, but my water colour dried darker than I thought it would and you know I love my blues :)

If you do regular mending and you're on Flickr, join Scrapiana's Big Mend Flickr group to share your mends. She also recently posted a moving piece about sandblasted jeans on her blog; read it, I gaurantee you will shop more carefully for jeans in the future, I know I will.

Happy Wednesday!

Jx


wordless weekend

A gift
some crewel from a SWEET friend

8ccbeae40fda11e292a722000a1e8b14_7
duck friends at the stables

Stable art
horses appreciate art too

Penelope & hens
Penelope and friends

Front step
Last blooms at our front door, frost coming soon

Not really too wordless. The fantastic crewel stitching was gifted to me by a friend. I had my eye on it at a charity fair for a local hospice today and she swooped in and secretly purchased it for me. It was in an ugly frame behind glass which I've already stripped off so this pretty bird will become a new cushion instead. I think she looks like autumn, don't you?

The other images are from the stables where Gracie rides on Saturdays. The place is full of photo opps and could be the scene for story books. Picture a child (Gracie) holding a sandwich, a chicken runs up, steals it from her hand, Penelope the basset hound chases the chicken for the sandwich then a runner duck chases Penelope. The dog wins, she always wins ~ you can't leave the kitchen door open, Penelope's a thief. True story.

Lastly, an image of our blooms next to our front door. The ground looks very weedy there, it kind of is. Those are cobblestones and hell to weed. The tiny daisies at the bottom right grow all over the village in every nook and cranny. I'm told they're from Mexico, the climate in Somerset is mild enough for them to thrive.

I've been playing with apps for camera phone images. Though these were uploaded to Instagram, I played with the bottom three in a couple of new to me apps first, they are Snapseed (I've just read Google acquired them a couple weeks ago) and VSCO CAM. I'm probably late to the party here because I'm not up on app news at all, but some of you may not know of them yet. I didn't note what I did to each of them but the changes were fairly subtle, which is the whole reason I like both of these apps. Changes to images can be slight creative enhancements instead of the somewhat over the top options available on Instagram. If you don't have either of these but want more control over your camera images give them a try. Out of the two of them, Snapseed has the edge in my book. 

If you Instagram, let me know, I'm @ninimakes

Not wordless at all.

Back  in the coming week for sure with my little wool related tutorial.

Jx