Free! Free! Free!

Hi there guys – a little something to share today from English author Geoff Le Pard. If you are a long time reader here you’ll know I’m quite fond of the quirky writing fella. It’s my considered opinion he’s trying for the world record in writing successfully in all possible genres and then inventing some new ones. Geoff’s often on WordPress contributing to different short story blogathons (or whatever they are called) I read his posts every morning over first coffee and I laugh, I cry, I spit coffee, he makes me pause, or say “Gah!” out loud and very often ask Siddy (or Orlando), ‘How did he come up with that?’ His blog is well worth a follow! I think I’ve read all his published books and can attest to the fact that they are all different, you never quite know what you are going to get. One thing I’m sure of he is just like a good wine and is getting better and better at his craft. So go on, become a LePard-ite and jump on the wagon………. Free Kindle books folks!!

TanGental

Yep it’s time to get free and all oozy and generous.

There have been some whispers, little rumours sussurating slowly, hissing in the background like a sack of snakes mainlining salt and vinegar crisps but now, here they are…

Free Books

I’m offering my first three books (Kindle version) for free, nothing, zip, nada… as follows

DEAD FLIES AND SHERRY TRIFLE

From 1st October 2018 to 3rd October 2018

Here is a review

In the summer of 1976 Harry Spittle aged nineteen, heads home for the summer after his first year at university. Harry seems prone to crisis from the beginning – bullying from fellow student Stephen Mc Noble who soon befriends Harry’s ex girlfriend, working in the local hotel with a diverse group of characters, and facing a bullying chef, entering a world of drug dealing, diamond smuggling and petty village gardening competitiveness…
However, Harry’s main focus in life…

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On Blankets, Birthdays and Endangered Parrots

It’s been a whole month since my last post , time keeps on zipping by me and although I’m not wasting any of it I have very little to show you currently.

I did get my Seaside Stash Busting Blanket finished – and absolutely love it!   Here is a pic of it spread out on my bed complete with the obligatory poser

dav

If you have a good sized stash of yarn – and even if you don’t – head on over to Eleonora’s place and follow her weekly installments, available on her blog under the header picture.

I did have an almost significant birthday a few days back and amongst the lovely cards and gifts was a most wonderful surprise from my youngest.   We will head off in a few more days to trek through the evening bush to visit with Sirocco, the world famous kakapo.

What?  You haven’t heard of Sirocco?  Where have you been for the past decade?  Come on, you are about to meet a pretty hilarious and amazing parrot!

Kakapos are another of our almost endless supply of nocturnal, flightless birds under attack from the almost endless supply of introduced  rodents and predators who have ravaged the population.   Here he is in a pic I pinched off Google, looking perkily ambassadorial

sirocco

Kakapos are the only flightless parrots in the world.  They are big, heavy birds who climb trees using their claws and beaks.  They mate irregularly and have a prolonged and unusual mating ritual that involves ‘booming’.  They were almost extinct and are being clawed back from the brink by dint of human determination.

Sirocco’s behaviour on Stephen Fry’s series of ‘Last Chance to See’ some ten years ago resulted in world wide fame and instant You Tube infamy and as a result he became New Zealand’s official spokes-bird for conservation and most importantly the conservation of our native flightless bird population – and even more importantly the kakapo of which there are now 149 up from their lowest point of just 25.  This short clip kind of sums it all up

If you are interested in learning more, the link below will take you to some relevant pages on Te Ara, the encyclopedia of New Zealand.  I’ve started it with the male Kakapo sitting in his bowl ‘booming’ his mating call out in the hopes some wandering female will pop by …….  He’ll do it for hours and days and it becomes pretty obvious predators aren’t the only reason why these quirky birds are endangered!

https://teara.govt.nz/en/video/10577/male-kakapo-booming

Kakapo generally have a reputation of being fearless, inquisitive and friendly birds.  An early Governor of New Zealand, back in the day when kakapo were still plentiful, was said to have been given one as a pet and compared it favourably to a dog.  Sirocco’s ill health as a chick meant he was taken from his mother and hand raised.  He imprinted on humans and, it seems, specifically the male of our species and as a result has no interest in ‘booming’ for kakapo hens.  He will boom for humans though.  Despite a couple of years in therapy and some training in acceptable behaviour (some of which you can see on YouTube if you do a search) he is not likely to assist in the increasing of the kakapo population, so Sirocco happily takes himself off round the country from time to time, sets up digs in a suitable outdoor hotel, is waited on hand and foot by his adoring servants and accepts brief visits from small groups of his adoring public  – of which I shall  happily be one.

Not many of us get to see a real live kakapo.  They now live only on two small islands that are kept scrupulously pest free – no rodents,  no predators of any kind.  The only humans allowed are those entrusted with their care and scientific research into their lifestyles.  Given those living conditions and the fact that they sleep all day we are really fortunate to have a bird who likes people and who enjoys looking at them as much as they like looking at him.

Any how, I’m really looking forward to it,  I just hope I don’t get lost in the bush on my way to my date with Sirocco   🙂  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

 

 

 

The Shrinking Work Space

So, let’s share.

I like to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place.  Which is why the etui doll Ms Petui Buttonbottom came into being……..  Remember her?  She is a complete joy to me, everything I need is right there at my side, right when I need it

sdrMy working yarn is well organised.  All the relevant yarn, tools and patterns are stored in the large blue bag and the yarn being used is in the green bag, which feeds me up to three 200g balls at a timesdrMy tiny house is always tidy even though it is quite colourful – well, blue really – and no photo is complete without Siddy photo-bombing itimg_20180719_110510-effectsWhen I’m working in the kitchen, I clean up as I go.  There is never a pile of dishes waiting to be done.  When I get up the bedroom is left as good as a new one before I have first coffee.  I know it sounds awfully anal, but I’m a Virgo and I blame it all on that.  I also have an analytical mind even though I am, as many of you know, just a little on the whoopsie side……..  Doesn’t the mention of astrological sign prove that?  As further proof I offer my latest reading matter:

Image result for the placebo effect joe dispenzaI’m currently reading Dr Joe Dispenza’s   ‘You Are the Placebo’ and loving it.  I love him anyway.  He first arrived in my life about ten years ago and had a huge impact.  He is very important in educating us on how we can help heal ourselves, how we can change our thinking, how we can make our lives better – which many regard as more than a little whoopsie – but he is a scientist and brings his groundbreaking scientific research with him and that is what makes the difference for me.   (If you don’t know of him there are tons of You Tube videos you can use as an introduction, he has his own channel too).  He’s my personal hero.

But, I digress……..  Let’s get on with the point of this post.

I am so fortunate, these days I have a whole play-room, my happy place, a place where I make stuff for hours and days on end, all to myself.  My work room is well organised, but being a crafter one necessarily makes a mess when working.  Crafter’s have this thing going on where they start out with oodles of space to work in and by the time the project is finished they are working in ten square centimetres and even that is under attack

When I enter my room the desk looks like thissdr

A few hours later it looks like thissdrTim Holtz came up with his mixed media glass mat, supposed, amongst other things, to ensure that we have about 60 x 30 cm of unimpingeable working space.  It sounds great, and while I don’t know for sure as I don’t have one (if you have one, I’d like to hear your views) I have a feeling it wouldn’t stop me doing thisdavI’d just scooped up a pile of pens and pencils before taking that quick shot, I’m sorry you missed seeing the real chaos  🙂  I am working on the card in the bottom right hand corner, the piece of A4 scrap paper is the remaining available working area.  Try as I might, as the work proceeds the actual working space gets smaller and smaller and I have a plaintive thought – does everyone end up like this?

And this is just making a few cards people, painting is way worse!

So I clean up after every project and return to this once more, ready for the next foray into creativitysdrI do like to see it all clean and clear and  oh, so spacious – ready for the next creative outburst

So, how do you do it?   Do you have a dedicated space or do you work in a corner of the kitchen or living area?  Do you clean as you go or are you a happy chaos inhabitant?  Whether you are crafter, artist, writer, quilter, sewer, yarn worker, photographer, carver, or anyone else who makes something and works with tools and media, I’d love to know.  Let’s share…….

And I love that you came by today, thank you!

 

On Pavlova, Reading and Yet More Yarning ……

Okay, we’re starting with dessert today – click here to see what  Kelly has just posted about something I made last February when the ‘Blogging Babes’ got together – this was our first meal all together and the only one at my place and so of course I had to wade straight into the great Pavlova debate ………  You don’t know about the great Pavlova Debate?   Well, go on then, click here!  We’ll wait for you to come back.

That was quick – what did you think?  Did you notice where I dropped a peach slice bang into the middle of that Pav and completely ruined the entire presentation?  🙂   My friends were kind and pretended not to notice…..

Now, to reading:

My friend Derrick, he with the beautiful garden and the seemingly endless library including many older books, wrote of the book he had just finished reading and I made comment that I was going in search of it.  I found it to be out of print and Derrick generously sent on his copy to me.  I’ve read it.  Quite quickly, for even though the two stories are not particularly happy, the prose and style of the writer is such a joy to settle into I found myself reading longer than usual every evening.  He captures perfectly the sea-swept, barren lifestyle of the crofters of Orkney at the end of the 19th century.  The harsh terrain producing stoic and impenetrable peoples, their stories too reflect that terrain.  There’s a melancholia, an inevitability to the stories, but still I sometimes found myself shocked by the unfolding personal histories.davGeorge Mackay Brown’s book is two separate novellas.  Times are changing, the modern world is reaching the Orkneys, the expectations of the new generation include a wider world,  crofts are being deserted and falling into disrepair.  And yet we see how the people live on, battered by the storms of change, the actions of others and themselves – aware only of their own little world, their own hurts, their own expectations.  An accurate reflection of much of humanity in general perhaps.

George Mackay Brown writes so compellingly – there’s a poem at the end of the second story that wrings the heart.  If you can find his work anywhere I do recommend it.

From the sublime to the yarny stuff:davI’m making this, it’s maybe half finished now – it’s a prototype for an idea I have for a ‘mandala’ style wall hanging – a big one.    This one though, is simply table sized.  When finished it will be maybe 60cm diameter.   I’m not sure yet which way I will go.  Sandra  over at Wild Daffodil has been making them for her grandchildren and shared with me Lucy at Attic 24’s designs too.  So many choices!

This is where I’m up to.  It’s about 35 cm diameter and I’m half way through the pattern.  I don’t think the variegated cotton helps the pattern very much, what do you think?dav I’m still happily growing this keeping pace with Eleonora’s weekly design postings.  Even though the blanket is officially reaching ‘huge’ proportions, there seems to be loads of yarn left in my basket.  I’m loving thisdavHere’s Siddy visiting his second favourite person and her new cat.  George is a bit mean to Siddy (he runs at him with evil intent) and Siddy is trying really hard to be brave.  But he isn’t really – he’s a lover, not a fighter.sdrI’m having a tidy up in the craft room this week – yikes, it’s a mess!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

 

Painting with Alcohol Inks and Acrylics

For those of you with your long term memory still intact, there may be a flicker of recognition if I show you thisbtrA  work that grew out of a sketch where I got quite brave and began to experiment with acrylic paints over alcohol inks.  I began by trying to manipulate the sky and eventually found my way forward enough to pronounce myself satisfied – or at least to the ‘let’s quit while I’m ahead’ stage.

The work progressed slowly because I had no idea what the result of mixing the two medias of ink and paint would be.  I had to give it all time to dry and cure before I went further.  It seems to be all okay – but the unknown is how long it will last.  It may scratch, the paper pieced pieces may lift – does glue work okay long term on alcohol based inks?  The inks themselves are given to fading in strong light and they make up the sky and the crone. So many questions and so few answers!  Anyway, it’s been sent off as a surprise gift and time will tell if it was a gift worth giving or a sow’s ear dressed up as a silk purse ……  🙂

Still, here it is photographed on a white tray which apparently reflects the colours quite well  who knew!!davSomething apart from the woolly kind of creations finally got finished.  There’s hope – there’s always hope  🙂

Right, back to the woolly stuff……

I love that you came by today, thank you!

Still June!

Oh, lookit me go!  It’s still June and here is my second post for the month  🙂

I celebrated the winter solstice by finishing two handcraft projects and thought I’d share them before the newest projects take over my attention fully.

First here, please admire the gorgeous Persian Tiles blanket being pressed for the last time by the equally gorgeous Orlando – still convinced I’m trying to steal his soul with that damned camera…..davThe colours are pretty accurate in the above photo – aren’t they fabulous!  The yarn is wonderful it’s Corriedale Wool purchased from The Wool Company which is based in Taihape New Zealand, but has a global reach.  My friend Jan from The Snail of Happiness  arranged a wonderful surprise for me back in February and it has all gone wonderfully smoothly – all I had to do was choose the colours and follow the pattern.  davThe colours are a little washed out in the second photo, but you can see the texture and the pattern.  The edging needs to be blocked to finish the thing properly, but that won’t happen until the weather warms up a little.

And now, let me introduce you to Miss Petui ButtonbottomsdrHer name grew organically as I read your various comments and proposals and suggestions in the previous post.   Karen said she needed to be a Miss and I agreed; Val said Petunia and Norah mentioned the same name, but was more connected to the ‘P’ for Pauline and et tu (you too) which she had jumped to from ‘etui’  I liked the idea, but in the end decided to stay with ‘etui’.  So you can pronounce it Pet-you-ee or Petwee as you please.  Her last name grew from Geoff’s suggestion of ‘Leadbottom’ which made me laugh, but you will see soon why I changed it a little.  (Sometimes it’s obvious even to me that I have way too many hours to wonder around in LaLaLand!)

Miss Petui stands just on 50 cm (15″) tall and her many pockets hold all kinds of toolsdavHere I can find pen, pencil, awl, ruler, thimble, measuring tape, needles of various sizes and sharpnesses, two pairs of scissors, quick-unpick, long vision specs and cleaning cloth, a variety of stitch markers, a reel of thread, a row counter and a small magnifying glass.davHer head scarf holds pins and unseen is a large amount of blocking pins hidden in her hair.  She wears my reading specs, always ready to do a bit of stitching, hooking or sewing repairs.

Have you wondered yet how she stands up so steadily?  Miss Petui has, hidden beneath her long dress and busy apron, a container of buttons.  I found a bottle of the right height very early in her creation and worked to its specifications.  The bottle is now filled with a selection of small buttons which keeps them to hand and gives her stability and weight.  I tried to get a photo but found it almost impossible now she is finished – not to mention somewhat invasive of her privacy!  You will just have to believe me, she really is ‘Miss Buttonbottom’.

You’d think that would be it wouldn’t you – after creating my very own etui doll from scratch with no pattern and only stashed materials.  But the minute she was pronounced ‘done’ I found myself with a tiny hook and some chocolate brown yarn making another lot of rounds, growing another head – much smaller, much neater – but definitely a head……  I have no clue what this will be, but I’ll keep you posted…… Maybe…..

Here’s  a cute shot of Siddy, just so he’s not left outReady to go home March 9

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

 

 

 

June Creations

While I think and muse and potter and walk and create and just be, time keeps on flowing by and my mind turns to the fact that soon – soon – we will be at the mid winter mark of the longest night and the light will begin to return my way.

I always miss the light the most when I am in winter.  I don’t mind the cold, the wet, the sleet even.  I mind the shortness of the days at both ends and I miss the feel of sunlight on my face.  I don’t miss the heat.  I quite like not having the energy sapping, robust glint of hot summer days.  But I miss the hours the sun stays in the sky.  Soon I tell myself, the season will peak, the world will turn and the sun will start to move back towards my hemisphere.   I walked in mist this morning thinking these thoughts of waiting.  And, as we exited the park and looked up to the hill ahead, the sun glinted off the windows of houses through the mist and made me a most delightful fairy tale castle of sparkling light to guide me on and make my waiting happy.  Later, at home, I realised that only in this season can such a wonderfully serendipitous meeting of mist and light occur at 9 am.  I appreciate the reminder to be okay with where I’m at!

But still I wait, and while I wait I hook.  My Persian Squares blanket is close to being finished.  Orlando has helped, oh such a lot!

davHe pretty much ensured every component of the blanket was pressed, whether I desired it to be or not.

 

As I write this one half of the blanket is draped over the back of a dining chair

btrIt ought to be finished but I got sidetracked.

I made this

dav

Now, here’s the story that goes with ‘this’.  Do you want to hear it?  (Err, come back – that was a rhetorical question folks!)

Back in the days when I was still intermittently going onto Facebook, I logged in and the first thing I saw was a picture of a crochet etui doll.  At the same moment that I was falling in love with it, facebook did that thing it does and updated my feed in a tumbling rush of alternate posts and I lost her.  I searched, wasted an hour of my life and didn’t ever see her again.  Maybe that was the moment when I decided to quit social media (except for blogging).  Any how, I searched around and had myriad conversations, but never found another etui doll.  Maybe they aren’t called that any way – but I don’t know what else to call them.  Then, one day, when searching through my stash of yarns for something else I found a bit of brown that said to me ‘I make doll!’  “Okay!” said I and gathered it up and off we went to Happy Hooking Land.

Now I have never made a crochet doll before, I have no clue how to make one.  But undaunted I set to with hook and yarn and made a head, the rest just followed along.  I also kept no notes of what I was doing, so now have no clue how I got from the first stitch to the last.  But I do know what I’d do differently.

I also took no photos until I got to the final stage of face features placement.  As you can see from that photo I used pearl headed pins to get an idea of placement and size – and grabbed the camera.  I had my reading glasses on and when looking for a place to put them down, realised she was, among her many other talents, the perfect specs holder!

dav

I’m just the teeniest bit in love with her

 

As you can see from the pockets close-ups she holds all things sewing and hooking related.  There is more to come and her face to be finished – and a name to be given of course – any ideas?  But this has to be the most fun thing I have made in forever!

So that is why the blanket hasn’t yet been finished.  Nor this – which insists on photographing brighter and lighter than reality, but gives you an idea that at least some progress has been made…….

davFinally, here’s Siddy in his posh winter gear to say “Hello!” or “Grrrrruff!” to you all, just in case you need that kind of puppy cheerfulness in your life…..

btr

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!