Sunday, August 28, 2011

New blog on the block.

I am pleased to annouce a new blog which Diane Hock and I hope you will enjoy reading.
It is entitled Tea and Talk for Two: A creative conversation across two continents.

We recently spent time together in the same country and enjoyed just hanging out in coffee shop (preferably attached to pencil shops) and discussing creative matters. It was in one such coffee shop when were lamenting our imminent separation that we came up with the idea of continuing the conversation via a blog and letting you eavesdrop.

It will not be a subsitute for our individual blogs and will not be about our non- creative daily lives but is about us considering the creative process. We aim for one post each a week. We are very partial to listening to the conversations at other tables so if you have something to say about our topics why not add a comment and we may well incorporate that in to our chat. There are several posts up already so now is the idea time to come on over and sit with us before there is too much back reading to do!

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's in the genes

This is my Crazy Daisy china cupboard. Not a full dining set because you can have too much of a good thing, but just enough for me to have pretty breakfasts or afternoon tea with. But now there is only one of the big plates. They have to stand up because they are fractionally too wide to lie flat. Since the kitchen went in they have been just fine but a couple of weeks ago one slipped and shattered as it hit the surface below leaving several tiny gouges in the worktop. I confess that my first thought was whether I could attach the resultant shards on a quilt. Because you know how I like to use things in unexpected ways.
The second thought was that the blemishes on my new kitchen were going to drive me mad. The third thought was that Dennis was not going to be happy when I bought a new worktop

Tonight my Dad who is staying and is happily prowling the house looking for things to with his tool box came into the kitchen and said "Show me these gouges then". I went to do so and they were no longer there ( but Dad was looking like the proverbial cat in cream).
"How did you do that?" I asked incredulously
He shrugged . "Just put in a bit of woodfiller. But it dried a bit light so I tinted it with your watercolour pencils."

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ipad for quilt designers ( and ultimately for Luddites too).

Diane Hock

and I had a girly -geek day today. We took two ipads, one laptop, two kindles and a mobile phone which provides a back up mobile wifi mobile hot spot and went and claimed our place on the sofa at Cedar Farm coffee shop for a good few hours.

There we engaged in serious ipad app research, purely for your benefit you understand.

Our aim was to find a single app or if necessary a combination of apps that would allow us to
1. Blog surf for images and information for information, clip that information and sort it into subjects for easy retrieval
2. To be able to add our own notes and sketches inspired by that research
3. To be able to retrieve that material and collate it in a visual collage type display
4 . I also wanted to be able to access the material from my work computer which is so secure I am unable to download programmes and also my itouch so I needed web based services which with cloud based synchronisation.
5. I also wanted some project management functionality for time and cost recording and to do lists, preferably with one visual overview of all projects.

I cannot guarantee we hunted down every possible app but we had a good go. Your needs and preferences might differ if you have similar needs and want to spare yourself several hours you might want to try the following apps which we concluded were as good as it was going to get ...


This programme allows you to set up notebooks for an individual topic. The notebooks can be collated in stacks of similar topics. In your notebook you can put text notes and images and can create to do lists. You can email notes to your notebooks or can write direct in the app. Images can be annotated with comments The App is free and cloudbased. In a full web browser you can get a web clipper to install which allows you to clip web pages and pop them in your notebook. On ipad however, this clipper cannot be intalled in the safari browser. The solution is with the MEMCLIP app (also free) which fulfils this function.

So that got us a single source to store and organise all that inspiration. But evernote notebooks give you a list of notes one at a time. It does not appear to easily allow you to combine the material.

For that we turned to

I found the App for this fairly useless and deleted it. However, the programme works perfectly well on ipad from the web browser. Pinterest allows you to set up ' boards' - basically virtual pinboards on which you can pin images you see from the web which you like. The site automatically records the original source of the images. Others can follow your boards. It is a good free site on which to combine visual images by topic. However, it does not facilitate added Text documents other than the captions added to images.

An alternative visual display which does allow notes ( and arrows and the like) is

The Lite app is free but limited athough t is enough to play with and get the idea. The full app is a fairly hefty £6.99 but allows unlimited boards on which you can display images and notes in a very decorative way. Diane has it and her verdict, when asked whether it was worth the price, was "I'm not sure. Not yet but I want to play with it more." I personally will probably stick with Pinterest.

For project managment I like

This app allows you to make as many projects as you like and on the same screen to show related to do lists. Even better you can link NOZBE with EVERNOTE and DROPBOX ( a file storegage service which I already use to store my files and photos so nothing is vulnerable to loss if a hard drive crashes. It offers some free storeage and more at a low monthly cost). So in NOZBE I can have, on one screen, to do lists, notes and files including images all together. It does not link to Pinterest but because Pinterest is web based you can clip your Pinterest boards with MEMCLIP, pop it in an EVERNOTE notebook and then it will come up in NOZBE too.The NOZBE app (£10.49)will allow you to have as many projects on the ipad as you like for that one off payment, but in order to synch them to NOZBE on other devices or the website you must have a paid account. The exception is that you can have a free account limited to five projects only. Now for business use or for coordinating all aspects of you life I can see that five might be enough. But, if used only for Quilting projects a limitation of Five works in Progress at a time might well be a good restraint!

And it fits in neatly with the

which is all about a Japanese method of work flow control called Kandan. Basically you write your intended projects on cards. The are stacked up in a to start pile. As you start to work on projects they can be moved to an In progress and then a Completed pile. You can set limits on how many cards go in each column and you can make it all rather more sophisticated with sub columns and categories. Thats not the best of explanations but it provides me with sn excellent visual representation of what work I have at what stage. Very helpful. Diane found SCRUMBOARD which seems to do much the same thing although I found the graphics less crisp and the options less sophisticated.

for the Time Recording I turned to


Free and dead simple. Put in the name of your project, press start. It records tme. press stop. It stops. the difference to a stopwatch is it retains the records so you can see the cumulatve time each quilt took. Excellent for figuring out profit margins or answering the inevitable "How long did it take you?" question.

So, there we were. Information collated and organised. Tasks to doable and timed. Now we wanted to pull it all together, to sketch next to the information and colour in. We ordered more tea and set to. We played with various notebook options which allow you to use your finger or a stylus to hand write and draw. ONENOTE ( Full Microsoft on laptop programme good, app only for iphone and useless) and MOLESKINE ( seductive cover app limited) being but two. None provided good enough control on the handwritng and sketching front. We were getting frustrated when suddenly we broke the barrier and found the perfect solution :

The onsite art shop sells really beautiful journals.
We concluded that much though we LOVE our ipads we also love paper and pen and that the ipad cannot match the use of a sketchbook for the actual work. We believe that the collation of information is fabulous on the ipad but when it comes to using that information we vote for printers, pretty books and real scissors and pencils!

Of course havng spent all day looking at productivity apps we have spectacularly failed to actually produce anything. Except this post of course. Which was written in the BLOGSY app of course......

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Missing in Action

Having had over a week off work now there should have been ample time to blog but somehow... I blame it all on Diane and her family who have arrived from California and are forcing me to have a good time gadding about the country finding quintesessntial things for them to see. Seeing as my breakfast of boiled eggs in an egg cup with toast soldiers was the first thing they found exciting this quest has not been hard. And I confess that after doing it innocently once or twice, but then seeing the reaction, we might have been deliberately constructing sentences that commence, "Go past the castle and turn right...".

First we went to stay with my parents in the Lake District where we took in a ceramics fair at Hutton in the Forest.

I particularly like the work by Pollie and Gary Uttley whose glazed pottery is inspired by Indian Textiles.

More on that in a later post. Afterwards we went to Carlisle to wish my now nonogenarian Granny a Happy Birthday.

 I felt it incumbent on me to check out the saftey of her new scooter before letting her loose on it. Really, it should have go-faster stripes down the side of it.

From the Lakes we went to York. While we were there it was my birthday and as the day started at a cracking 27 degrees my husband was telling me that it didn't always rain on my birthday. Huh. It so does always rain on my birthday!

Fortunately this downpour came just as we sat down for afternoon tea.  Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain....

Now we are home hanging out, eating mexican food and trading ipad apps with each other and preparing for Festival of Quilts. More later.