'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Sunday 29 July 2012


One quilt top finished. My learning experience with this was that 'symetrical' is not the same as 'identical', even with four patches.

It's not my greatest design ever, but it is bright and colourful, it was made entirely from stash, and it's a generous cot size.

Plus I found enough fabric and wadding to finish it, when I get round to it.

I know that in the Cheese Minor household quilts are loved and used, just like they should be, so I'm sure this one will be too.

More success too in the cycling - a very exciting, attacking race from the women. I wasn't going to watch it, I was going to assemble the quilt layers - but we sat down to watch over coffee, and couldn't drag ourselves away.

Today's app is 'Dynamic Light' - simple to use, with a couple of dozen filters, which you can adjust a bit.Some of them I can't ever imagine using, but some are interesting, especially if you want to do dramatic things with skies.

I love this photo of Littondale, whatever I do to it it seems to come up well, although this is a bit bright.


On the other hand, I am finding it difficult to do anything with this, with any app or any filter - it's difficult to avoid ending up with something over bright. I like this slighlty fuzzy look, but the colour is a bit super-saturated.









And the same with this one - which is why I liked yesterday's very subtle pink. I need to take more time over these, and ger more adventurous with combinations of filters.

One thing I'm learning while I bore you with these apps is that on the whole, you get what you pay for. Most free ones are very limited, and several seem to be the same app with a different name. I've learned not to bother if the illustrations of the filters on the app store involve pictures of trees.

'Dynamic Light' was 69p - and a bit more interesting - and the Jixipics apps, which are about £1- £2, are the most interesting of all. Just wish I could afford some of them for Big Mac as well.

Can't comment on anything more expensive than that, I haven't gone completely app happy!

Saturday 28 July 2012

I had hopes...

of being able to show you a finished quilt top - but it was not to be. Despite it being a very simple one - basically a panel with borders - I have made so many mistakes that I have decided that it is wine o'clock and left it till tomorrow. I had sworn off quilting for ever, but a Very Hungry Caterpillar of my acquaintance has his first birthday next month and I thought he might sulk if I didn't make him a quilt - his sister, after all, has two...

I also had hopes of celebrating a notable victory in a cycle race, but that was not to be either. Not even Cav could pull that one off. Definitely wine o'clock.

However, the VHC's big sister did win one of her races at nursery sports day on Friday, and she has a certificate and a rosette, which is much much much better than a gold medal in the eyes of her adoring family. (All the children got rosettes and certificates, but we know she won.)

Here is the gold medallist and her baby brother - who isn't so much of a baby any more, and who would definitely have won the eating race if there was one.

This is an app called Dramatic HD, which I like quite a lot, on account of it being - er - dramatic. It's another app from Jixipix - I want the whole set and what's more I'm prepared to pay for them, although I do keep a watching brief and grab them when the price drops. (I'm not a quarter Yorkshire for nothing.)









See what I mean about drama? You can change the location and direction of the lighting effects.





The filters are primarily black and white, but you can add subtle colour if you wish. Definitely a good app if you like B&Wish images.








So a win some, lose some sort of day - let's hope that both I and the UK cycling team do better tomorrow.




Monday 23 July 2012

Life goes on...

with or without broadband. It has got better over the last few days - not continuous, but more on than off. The engineer is coming tomorrow, so we will see what he has to say. I won't talk about the belated phonecall I had from BT's complaints department - suffice it to say that it did nothing to improve my opinion of BT's customer service.

And life goes on with or without cycle racing. A very satisfactory outcome to the Tour de France, now withdrawal symptoms until next weekend. Surely not even the BBC can ignore the cycle events?

Today we went to Babybel's 'Graduation'. Lest you think she is some sort of child prodigy (she is, of course, but not of that sort), this is her graduation from nursery to big school. A nice little ceremony, an award of teddy, scroll and photo, and drinks and nibbles in the sunshine. She seemed a bit overawed to begin with, but soon reverted to normal when she got outside, her favourite part of nursery!





And here she is - though not in her special graduation frock. This is one of my favourite apps, Decim8. For 69p, you can get something that adds all sorts of wild and wonderful filters to your photos. You can get clever and plan what you are doing - me, I like the randomise button.




I think there's a lot of potential for designs in these. I could show you dozens, but I'll be strong and resist temptation...















Wednesday 18 July 2012

Thank goodness for iPads with 3G - a Rant.

Paddy has been invaluable, as BT seems unable or unwilling to provide broadband.

The saga started on Monday morning, when we noticed the tell-tale little yellow light on the hub. (Funny how that irritating and sexist ad never shows this common phenomenon.) We were knee deep in grandchildren at the time, so I didn't phone BT until the early evening. An hour later, after going through the usual unplug this, press that routine, and spending 40 minutes on hold waiting for the 'very busy' engineers, I hung up. Customers can be busy too.

After a series of call backs, I was assured that I would get a call from an engineer at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Did I? What do you think? I did try phoning back, but hung up again after 10 minutes on hold without speaking to anyone real, just the irritating Scottish woman who tells you that many problems can be solved without speaking to an 'advisor' so go on line and... At which point I yell at her that if I could get on line I wouldn't be phoning effing BT... This relieves my initial frustration, ahead of the real frustration of dealing with aforementioned 'advisors'.

I then complained to BT, via Paddy's 3G connection with the Internet. The website promises to respond within 48 hours, which is probably why I got a phone call this afternoon. They can't repair the fault - so a real engineer is coming round on Tuesday morning. Only 8 days after I reported the fault - now that's what I call service (not).

I see a transfer to another supplier in our near future. According to 'Which', O2 is better. Couldn't be much worse.

On A more positive note, I am continuing my exploration of coiled baskets - and watching bike races. I can do both at the same time, until it gets too exciting. (The racing, not the basketry, although that is quite exciting.) (Go Wiggo!) I've finished 'Dawn', and a second effort called 'Waterbowl' although I'm less happy with that.

Tapestry wool again, on a core of strips of plastic bag - the white bumps are the result of knotting the strips together. Odd, but I like them.

The shape evolved as it went on - it was going to be flat until it began to turn up of its own accord, and then I realised that by easing the core through the coils I could make it turn in again, though I was a bit too heavy handed at first, so it's a bit lumpy. (Intentional lumpiness could be interesting...)

The hole at the bottom was deliberate, but a not a good idea, I think.











And of course I found time for a little mucking about with apps. Camera Studio allows you to make slide shows, and (I think) to add your own music if you are clever enough, but it has a set of about a dozen filters, some of which are quite interesting























And Lights.

More soon, if my 3G allowance doesn't run out...


Saturday 14 July 2012

And then there were two...

Stinkhorns, that is - and they do smell, but fortunately they are well away from the house, and it's not the sort of weather for flinging the windows wide open.





I have, at last, started to do a bit of mindful needlework - albeit following instructions. I've been interested in baskets since going to the Lois Walpole exhibition at Walford Mill ages ago, but I've only just got round to trying coiled ones, although they are probably the most textile-y baskets.

I followed the instructions in 'Practical Basketry Techniques' by Stella Harding and Shane Waltener. I've been reading Waltener's blog for a while and love what he makes, so when I realised he had co-authored a book, I ordered it.

I had to try the coiled basket - remnants of tapestry wool? Yes, far too many. Cotton cord? Yes, bought to make coiled baskets and never used. The colours were picked almost at random, but they make me think of sunrise, so it's become 'Dawn'. There is another one in the pipeline with a plastic bag core... And I've just discovered that Harding has an exhibition at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth at the moment - serendipity.

And finally - today's app is 'Camera Bag'. It's a fairly basic program - a dozen filters, a variety of frames and preset crop sizes. If you don't like the way a filter looks the first time you try it, you can tap a button for a random change.

The preset cropping sizes are interesting because you can end up with a size you might never have tried otherwise - like the portrait below.


It's not a bad app, but I got it when it was free, and I wouldn't want to pay full price for it!






Wednesday 11 July 2012

Google is my friend

Turns out the thing from outer space growing in the front garden is clathrus ruber, or lattice stinkhorn. We have a nasty smell to look forward to, apparently!

Doing things...

 we don't seem to have had time for recently - like mindless needlework [cardi for the VHC] and going to exhibitions. Oh, and watching cycle races.

It seems like years since we last went to an exhibition. so on Monday we visited two - although they were in the same place, one upstairs and one downstairs. And, surprisingly in this almost all sport-hating household, both had an Olympian connection. And even more surprisingly, we enjoyed both of them.

Upstairs at the Discovery Centre is 'Faster, Higher', a video installation by Susan Pui San Lok, which is as much about the politics of sport as it is about sport - probably why we liked it. I also liked the way she used the 5 screens, which gave me ideas of ways of using photographs - I'm not quite up to video installations yet...

Downstairs is 'Sporting Heroes' which is probably of most interest to locals. Highlights for me were 5 Greek vases with sporting scenes on them [courtesy of Winchester College] and the opportunity to see a time trial bike up close. [My tastes are nothing of not eclectic.]

Today the Olympic Torch came to Winchester. Bah, humbug.

So we went to Whitchurch - to the Silk Mill to see a small exhibition of Midsummer Night's Dream fairy costumes by Anna Nowicki. A fascinating variety of techniques - I was specially struck by Oberon's costume, which had a real Stuart feel to it, despite being made with very twenty-first century materials and techniques.

We didn't manage to avoid the torch, completely however - on the way home it passed us going the other way, heading for Andover. It was in stealth mode - they hadn't asked anyone to walk/run/stagger along the A34 - but the caravan of other vehicles and the escort of all the motor cycle cops in Hampshire were a bit of a give-away.

Much more exciting, as far as I'm concerned, was spotting this in the front garden when we got home. At first I thought it was one of those plastic balls with holes in we used to play with at school - but no, it's a fungus. No idea what, but I hope someone out there does.

The flies seemed to like it even more than I did.

Isn't that a wonderful form to inspire a 3D textile? Possibly even craft Vilene.

And speaking of photos [how's that for a bad segue?], today's iPad app is Blur FX. Nothing to do with a musical group whose lead singer's father Wensleydale used to work with. [Three degrees of separation to Damon Albarn, three to Sigmund Freud - my contacts are nothing if not eclectic.] [And only two to a fifties actress called Sabrina of whom none of you will have heard...] [But I digress.]

Blur FX does what it says on the tin. It makes your photos go blurry. Then you can wipe away the blur with your finger - an effect I like. With a bit of luck I can do it with the camera, but it's nice to have a retrospective option.

Blur FX also offers you a few filters, which you can apply to the blurred or clean areas. or to the whole thing...

including inverting the colour.

OK, it's another one trick wonder, but it is a very clever trick, and one I like [and use] a lot.

Tomorrow the gasman cometh, so I'm planning a bit of non-mindless needlework - oh, and possibly a bit of cycle race watching...

Sunday 8 July 2012

All over bar the shouting...

or possibly the weeping. We don't get our results for 3 weeks or so, so I have everything crossable crossed, but I am cautiously optimistic!

We took the exhibition down much more quickly than the 4 hours it took me to put it all up, thank goodness. (Thanks to Cheese Major and his seƱorita for helping us with the demolition.)

In the gaps between erecting, stewarding, demolishing, everyday life and watching the Tour de France, I have been doing the least demanding things I can think of, mostly finishing things off. Like this, which has been waiting to have handles added for weeks.



This, which I have shown you before, and which has been hanging around for at least three years, still isn't finished. However I have completed the silver counted stem stitch. Now I have to pluck up courage for the bits of gold work it still needs, and making it up into a heart shaped bag - or, more likely, a square book cover.





I finished this cardigan off while watching today's stage of that cycle race, which may explain the wavy crochet trim, and Quality Control's disapproving expression. The right man didn't lose, and my heart rate is slowly returning to normal.

The cardigan is for a small person who likes purple and a bit of bling. Wonder who that could be?


I have made my sewing machine a new cover, after cutting a slice out of the old one with a careless swipe of my rotary cutter. Not beautiful, I'll admit, but functional - the pockets hold the foot pedal and cable, so it's all out of the way when I use the desk for other things.

No, I hadn't been fossicking through my thread drawers in search of something, they always look like that...




And finally, here's something I made earlier - photos mucked about with in an app called Blender, which layers one over the other. You can do this in Photoshop, but Blender is easier.










These are not the sort of images I would usually use with this app - I like to use it to add texture - but this one works well. Pity it's not a white rose.



Blender is a bit of a one trick pony, but you get several blending modes, as well as being able to adjust the balance between the two photos. Great for adding atmosphere.

So quite a lot done, as well as cheering on Wiggo. (I promise to stop writing about cycling once the Olympics are over.) And I've got some ideas for future work, though nothing involving tubes...

Thursday 5 July 2012

A quick note...

between meeting the External Examiner this morning, going to the dentist this afternoon, and the opening of the Degree Show this evening. (six p.m. at the Desborough Campus. Be there or be square, as we used to say in the dawn of time.)

I have posted a few photos on my website, link at the right of the screen.

Sunday 1 July 2012

Life, cycling and photography

'Life' meaning 'rant'. Well, I haven't had one for a while.

I spent some time this morning looking around local college websites for a part-time course I would like to take. Simple task you might think - Google the college website, find the Adult Ed section, check if they do it, if they do, apply.

Not necessarily - the websites were, almost universally, confusing, cluttered and difficult to navigate around. I looked at 10, and only 1 of them was easy to use. In two cases I still don't know if they do the course I want. One didn't have the Adult Ed prospectus up yet, and one looked interesting but the link to the course details didn't work. In fact most of the links didn't work, including 'Contact Us' - which rather negates the purpose. Others gave you vague titles, so you had to work out that 'Community Learning' meant Adult Ed, or which of a dozen sections included the course you wanted. When I was teaching Adult Ed I never thought to check the website to see if it encouraged or deterred learners: I would now...

So congratulations to Totton College, which allowed me to find out in a few clicks that they do the course I want, (but on a night I can't go). And you can download an app of the prospectus to peruse at your leisure.

'Cycling'. You know, that sport that Brits are quite good at, so it gets much less air time than the ones we are no good at. But thanks to ITV4 there may be a certain amount of daytime TV watching going on at Cheese Acres over the next 3 weeks.

Go Wiggo! Go Cav!

Sorry about that. We now return you to your normal sport-hating programming.

'Photography' - this time it's Befunky. I used to use this on the PC, so I was pleased to find it is available for Paddy. I have the free version, which doesn't have as many bells and whistles as the bought version I used to use - there is a paid-for one for iPad as well.



The free version gives you a range of editing methods, a dozen or so frames, and about 30 filters, which you can adjust by swiping your finger across the screen.

If you want a cheap and cheerful app which is fairly easy to use, Befunky is worth looking at. I particularly liked the range of B&W filters, which as you can see are quite atmospheric.