Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Well, that didn't go according to plan!

Please don't get all excited and expect shots of my chaotic new house - things did not go to plan here, and the chain of house buying and selling fell through. We are now back at the very beginning of the cycle again, trying to sell our lovely house, only now it has two rooms pretty much full of boxes, and I couldn't put it all back even if I wanted to, as some of the furniture has been gifted away or sold.

The same week our house plans were falling apart I also was driven off to hospital, blue lights flashing, with what turned out to be a nasty case of appendicitis! So then it was surgery, stitches, and no lifting and so on for at least two weeks. Nothing like having three incisions for making you sit quietly with your feet up.
I did a lot of knitting in that time, and so was able to crack on with the cardigan I wrote about in my last blog. 

But July was simply not destined to be a good month it seems, and when the cardigan was finally done and I tried it on - I REALLY didn't like it, or think it looked good. Perhaps my choice of yarn didn't help - soft and with a degree of stretch - but it looked like it had some dreadful mistake in it, or even a panel missing. The cutting edge shape just wasn't working for me. So after some very frustrated modelling in front of the mirror and asking folks for their opinion, I spent the rest of that day unpicking the whole thing. So I've wetted and dried the yarn and will be starting on a less experimental but more certain pattern soon. Right now though, I can't face it.

 But I'm determined to stay happy and productive; I have so many things to be grateful for and glad about. So here are some of the better things going on here. First - the Seville marmalade is all gone, so the chef of the house has made Pink Grapefruit this time. Looks good huh?

 Then there's a new Patchwork Tarot deck under construction. For folks who don't know, a patchwork deck is a deck made up from cards of different packs. You can do whatever you like that works for you. Some folks use only cards from 2 or 3 packs, all the same size, choosing their favorites and making a 78 card deck that really resonates for them. Some folks might swap out the minor cards from one pack and add pips from a different kind of deck, making something that they prefer. Or have a theme of cards all by the same artist from different decks, or really whatever you like! I choose to make decks that contain cards from 78 different decks - all shapes and sizes are fine with me, although you do have to devise a new way to mix or shuffle. The nucleus of the decks are usually a small stash of cards from damaged decks or part decks picked up in charity shops, but once I've begun, I swap lots of cards (or free readings or other tarot-related gifts) with online friends. You can imagine this can take quite a long time, and quite a lot of head scratching. So far this new deck has about two dozen cards, but it's growing slowly. Here's a photograph of a previous deck, for folks who want to see what I mean.

 They tend, for me at least, to give very "straight from the shoulder" kind of readings, nothing gets hidden in frothy pictures or deck story-lines. I enjoy working with them very much - I have two complete so far. One was made for charity readings - a super charity called Facing The World - which helps provide life changing, and sometimes life-saving facial operations for third world patients. 

I love reading, and sometimes go back and re-read favourites. So I've pulled out the series by Garth Nix that begins with Mister Monday. I found the last book a disappointment when I first read them, so I'm hoping reading them again might help me understand what he was aiming at a bit better. The world he created within the books is certainly worth a revisit.

Finally, in place of the doomed cardigan, and with the aid of a new clip-on magnifying mirror, I'm starting lace making again. I's been some years since I was able to get to the lace making group I used to belong to, but I have several very good books, and there's also lots of info online, so I'm picking it up again with a simple pattern of just 10 pairs of bobbins and am aiming to work up to larger and more complicated pieces later. Just one afternoon and I'm already tearing my hair out - I'd forgotten how something so small can be so aggravating and mentally consuming! It's a super activity, it takes your mind off all your other issues and concentrates you. I also get to use just a few of the wonderful collection of bobbins I have. 

This is my beginning; the bobbins here are all modern and made of wood. The spangles - the shiny beads and bits at the bottom - are there to add weight, lace is a type of weaving and tension on the threads is vital. I love my bobbins, and it was a delight to unpack them (oh yes, I had at labeled my packing boxes very well) and pick out 10 pairs for this project. I'll use vintage bobbins next time. 

So enjoy August whether it's summer or winter for you, have a nice cup of tea of coffee with me, and some nice chocolate (if you can; I'm eating coconut milk variety), grab a book, and maybe write a comment about what you're making, or are inspired to make next. 


Friday, 10 June 2016

Moving through the process of moving

I was chatting to an online friend about the process of moving, and talking about ideas for things in our new home, and she said "you must post photos!"  So I decided it would be fun to write about the journey of moving from here - the way you have to pull up your roots - sometimes literally - and fold away your old plans and create new ones.
I have already done a small amount of packing - this followed on from selling a piece of furniture that won't fit into the new house. 

 So from this 

to this!

Another change is taking place in the garden - plants are being dug up and split part into pots, part back into the ground - so that I can take lots of things with me to fill the currently very empty garden space. So there's a lot of this about the place (how will I move them all I wonder?)

The odd thing is though, that at the moment we have no clear idea of a moving date, no exchange of contracts has taken place, and there is always the slim possibility that the whole process can fall down and fail. You either have to wait, doing absolutely nothing until exchange, which can leave you only three or four weeks sometimes to get everything done! Or you start work on trust, hoping that everything will go ahead as planned, and you won't end up having to show you house again in it's partly packed state.

I'm doing the 'trust and positivity' thing! 

But after packing that one room, and all my tarot decks, we've called a halt on the packing so that the rest of the house remains calm and reasonably unaltered for now. This leaves me twiddling my thumbs - there's nothing much to do except think about the new house, or knit! So both of us are thinking about the new spaces, where furniture will fit, how we might decorate, what won't fit in, what will need to be purchased (although we're trying to keep that section to a minimum.) We have revisited the new house to take lots of measurements (oops, I took mine in inches not centimeters!) and now there are graph paper scale plans of the rooms, and of the furniture, and they get played with/shuffled about as we try to fit in our favourite and most useful things. but for me there is only so much fiddling with paper that I can do.

I've decided to use old maps of the part of England we will be living in as floor covering, and that's organised, but there's not much else I can yet.

Having been knitting socks for months now I have taken the plunge to knit a larger garment again, and knitting is so easy to do and transport that this will be my project during the whole moving period, never getting consigned to a packing box. I'm going to knit a cardigan for myself - the pattern is 'Snowcloud' by Littletheorem knits, and I'm using this yarn. 

It seems very indulgent, but when finished I hope to wear and love it for years. I just have to have something practical to do with my hands, even whilst listening to the cricket - and England are playing today, so Test match Special is playing whilst I'm typing.

So there'll be more reports as things happen, and I'll chat about something in particular if you ask me. For now, may  your life be peaceful and fruitful


Thursday, 26 May 2016

All change

Well it's all change at our house - literally! 

Our long discussed house-move is underway, and fingers crossed we will be in our new setting by the end of the summer. Some folks like doing this kind of thing I know, but we like our roots settled, so this is a tense time, even though we're trusting it will all come out for the best.
We are downsizing, a smaller house now there are less people living under one roof, and a smaller garden, although making it into a wonderful green space will be very important. So furniture is being measured, favourite items are being chosen, and some things are leaving us to belong to other people. Piles and piles of books, a dining table and even a treadle sewing machine! Hard decisions sometimes, but we believe it will turn out wonderfully.
A 1933 Singer 15K in treadle cabinet is seeking it's new home.
 Those of you who have been reading here for a while will know there will still be 'several' sewing machines traveling with me! They are all table-top machines, and will be stored on the bottom shelves of bookcases whilst not in use.

There are some changes in my tarot readings too - the website is about to close, and readings will then be bookable via this blog (see tarot page) or on Facebook. During the actual couple of weeks that cover the move I won't be taking any readings as everything will be in boxes. 

For now I'm still happily tarot reading, but not stitching any new bags. There are still some lovely bags for sale though, so any of them can be packed up and posted. I'm doing some paper creativity, origami, decorated writing papers, things like that, which creates less mess and are quicker to do and then pack away.

Lastly I'm busy splitting plants from the garden, so that I can take some of my favourite plants with me, whilst leaving lots in the garden for the new folks. Some things won't move of course, trees and established roses or example. So we are making lists of our absolute favourite plants, and will be hoping to create a new garden next year. In the meantime all the pots will get well watered and cared for in the new courtyard garden. I have discovered a lilac I'd like in the new garden, the one here is mauve, but I'm thinking of this fragrant pink/white variety "Moscow Beauty"
 Do get in touch i you'd like a reading, or would like to enquire about a bag. And do comment about anything you've read here.

Blessings of the green time

Sunday, 7 February 2016

All about Singer sewing machines

I don't mean, of course, that this blog entry contains everything you'd need to know about Singers! Rather that everything I'm writing today is about my Singers, and the work I've been doing on machines lately. The last two I showed here were a lovely 15K, which is now in super order and up for sale (space constraints unfortunately) and the electric 1970's Singer which came from 'Freecycle', and which has now gone the same way. We got it working, replaced a couple of needed or simply missing things, and gifted it back into the system, for someone who was looking for a straightforward electric machine. So for a while it was all quiet. Then, like buses, three came all at once! All free, but not all in the same condition.

These first two were gifted to me as "probably lost causes". They had been stored in a cellar which then flooded - with clean surface water, not river water thank goodness - but were then left in the damp cellar for another 5 or more years. What can I say? I think the owner just didn't know what to do with them at that point, and had nowhere upstairs to put them. Five years down the line, she thought they were beyond saving, but might be useful for spares. The case tops had "fallen apart when she touched them" and there was most definite signs of fresh woodworm so the rest went straight in the street bin. The only good thing I could think at that point was the woodworm likely wouldn't have moved in if they were totally water-sodden, so maybe there was hope! The owner was glad to see the back of a slightly guilt-inducing problem, I think, and I bought her some lovely flowers as a thank you as she really didn't want anything for them.

The second machine started out with a telephone call, and I soon made the acquaintance of a lovely lady in her 90s, who had her mother-in-law's Singer and would like to gift it away somewhere. Over tea and biscuits I learnt a lot about her life and family - it was a lovely afternoon - and came away with a neat and clean 99K and a promise to keep in touch and let her know how it went.

A 1918 99K in nice condition, complete with case and key.

Now our original plan was that perhaps it would make a suitable machine to give to "Tools For Self-Reliance" a charity who sends various hand tool packages to the third world to assist folks there in making a better living for themselves. It would indeed have been suitable, but a local friend fell in love with it - and so with the owner's permission, the machine found a new home here in the village, and the charity received a donation. They have a super set of documents freely available online for refurbishing round bobbin hand-crank Singers, and also will happy receive such machines for sending abroad. Their information is here.

Now to the flood machines. I stared work first on the older of the two machines, a 1902 28K. This is a machine with the long, boat-shaped bobbin carrier, and long bobbins. They are an older design, although they continued to be made for a long time, concurrent with the round bobbin designs.

 You can see some of the rust and work to be done in this shot, and the tools it came with originally are somewhere in this (slightly out-of-focus) rusty pile!
Although all the feet and attachments aren't yet finished, the machine is a tribute to the materials and construction of Singer in the early 20th Century, and now after surprising little work really, looks like this...

  I think it is absolutely wonderful, and back in the same design of case it it was originally sold in. The case came from the wonderful online shop of Helen Howes.
Helen is super; knowledgeable, helpful and will do her utmost to find you that small but vital part you need, I can't praise her highly enough.

The other machine, another 99K though, it going to take a bit longer. It was more affected by damp - my theory being that the bentwod case held the damp in it's wood much more that the solid wood but glued construction of the 'coffin-box' case. It turns, but much less easily, and these few photos will show you that I've decided to strip it down of all it's easily removed externals (and some internals come to that) and work on the main body and drive shafts first. I'm alternating with sewing, although the machine work does tend to make the work room rather grubby, so it's a few days of sewing and then put all the fabrics away.I'll keep updating here on how the machine gets along - for now here are today's shots:-