Monday, 24 October 2016

More sewing machines arrive

As folks who've been following here for a while will know, I have a dear friend who runs a little charity shop, just at weekends. And once she knew that I was interested in sewing machines, an erratic stream of them has arrived for evaluation, cleaning, simple repairs and sale online. We can reach so many more potential buyers online than would ever find her shop, it's been super for her, and a good learning experience for me. Even a machine that I can't get working can be useful for spares to someone else.
It's been a bit quiet lately, and now five have arrived! I've started numbering them, and working on them in strict order - otherwise I do my favourites first. 

 Here are four of them - all electric I think, and the one I have I have on the table - much more of a challenge as it's in a bad state...

So my time to spend with the lucky dips has shortened, but I'm still having fun - in the evening when my hands are clean mostly. The deck I had out last week was NOT Camelot Oracle - nice guess. But the Celtic Book of the Dead by Caitlin Matthews

It's an interesting and ancient concept, a journey by boat into the west sea as a metaphor for the journey beyond death and into the otherworld, and Caitlin's work is, as ever, well researched and explained, using early Celtic materiel that was written down by later peoples . I'll be working with this one a little more before it goes back into it's bag, but I shall be keeping this one for sure.

I'll post again as soon as I've taken out the next mystery deck. HALF PRICE 'LUCKY DIP' READINGS continue during this period, with whatever deck I've got out at the time.

The leaves are falling here now, summer birds like Swallows are gone, and the Grey Geese are arriving in huge V's in the evening sky, with their welcome honking.

Blessings of the season to all

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Here's the next couple of decks...

I had started to worry about this exploration a tad - I mean I'd pulled out two decks so far and decided they both should go! So I'm delighted now to have unearthed, used and admired this beautiful animal based deck -

I won a competition on Aeclectic Tarot a few years ago, and was gifted this as my prize - the booklet and spreads sheets were downloaded from the deck website at
 I honestly don't know if any decks remain unsold, but I would recommend it if you can find a copy anywhere.
It's a deck that was created by many different artists, and includes some mythical creatures as well as many worldwide species. As someone who enjoys natural history anyway, it's been a delight to delve more deeply into the life cycle and nature of some species I don't know, as well some native to England. I'm not sure how well the deck would work 'just' for a divinatory reading, but as a card for the day, or a prompt as to what attributes might help you in a given situation, it's a winner. So the cupboard isn't going to be totally bare when I've finished!

The next deck has come out and my clues for you - it's an oracle deck, and is designed around taking a very specific journey. It uses Celtic Otherworld mythology, and was written by a UK author. HALF PRICE READINGS with this deck until I reveal it's identity. There's also a small prize for the winner if you'd like to take a guess, but be quick - I'll be back by the end of the week to talk about ...



Last flowers of autumn in the woods.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Well, this isn't going so well...

I'm having to sadly accept that maybe there is a reason that some of those decks are tucked away in the small cupboard in bags. It only took me one day, working with the cards from Dance of Life Tarot to find that it's really not a deck from general divination use - it is a 'self-specific' kind of deck. Whilst it's a great deck, I'm not looking for a deck like that to work with, so it's going to go in the Selling & Giving Away box. I took the next bag out - it's a wonderfully evocative oracle called Graven Images by   Natalie Zaman and Katharine Clark. Here's a link to the Aeclectic page about the deck

But much as I love the idea (I'm one of those strange folks who finds grave yards and headstones fascinating) I don't follow the logic that has been used in the assigning of meanings, and some images don't speak to me at all. It's a great shame; I looked long and hard to find a copy of this one, but into the "S & GA" box it goes.
So it looks like it's not going to take quite so long as I imagined to work through the bagged decks. Here for your delight is the first shelf...

 The HALF PRICE READING offer still stands - you'll get whichever wonderful deck I'm sorting through and playing with when I get your message. But it's not going to take as long as I thought, so if you'd like to take up this offer contact me sooner rather than later!

The socks are finished (the ones that would have been gloves, but aren't!)

 And I've been walking int he autumn woods and spotting wonderful fungi - that I can't yet identify, so if you know what they are do please shout out.

I'll report back on the various decks I find in all those lovely bags - I hope you'll enjoy the fun with me.


Monday, 10 October 2016

Tarot exploration week 1- Monday morning

So, a quick update on my plans - I've got lots of decks, and I don't look at some of them very often. Most especially those that are stored in bags because they have no boxes. The bags are labelled, but it's not obvious when you glance at them which deck is which, so I often turn away and choose something out of a box. So I'm going to spend a week with each deck, seeing what I think of it, trying to distinguish between hype and usefulness to me.
That's not always easy - some decks just have such a 'reputation' that it can outweigh what you actually see and feel when you take it out. These aren't going to be "deck reviews" as such, they are discussions with myself as to how a deck might or might not be useful to me. So here's hoping for some fun, and some clarity.

In addition - I'll offer half-price readings with whatever random deck came out of the cupboard in any given week! The catch is you won't know what deck it's going to be! Neither will I of course, so a good exercise for me too.

This week though I have already named the deck I was going to be using, so here are my thoughts after the weekend on "The Dance of Life Tarot" by Audrey Savage Ph.D. and Paula Scott Frantz

Here's a link to the deck and reviews on Aeclectic Tarot

 So, I've spent the last three days looking at the cards, and reading parts of the full size paperback book that accompanies the deck. The deck describes itself as a tarot, and it does have 78 cards divided into majors and minors, four suits, all that you'd expect. The cards have been renamed but that is so for a lot of other decks too. But once you start reading the book you realise this is a deck with a mission! It's not just about divination, although that is one use of the cards. It is aiming to be a life-changing journey guide, to help you grow, change and become all you could be. To find your authentic self.
I'm sure there are other decks that also aim strongly towards a kind of 'whole-life self realisation' thing, and I'm equally sure that self-development is a worthwhile activity. But a deck like this isn't for grabbing out of the cupboard now and again for a quick read. It's for every day, it's for study, it's a long-term journey companion; you might want to work with it exclusively.

I do like the way the author expresses herself, and I do find a lot of what she says chimes with me. But I'm not sure I would want to work in the long-term with this particular deck - even though at first glance I admire it's aims. (To be fair, I do already have a long-term deck study underway, and so perhaps I am comparing slightly with that one - but you have to be really attracted to a deck to want to spend every day for the foreseeable future with it!)

I need to give some more thought as to how I am growing on my life journey. Indeed AM I growing on my life journey? If I'm not, what means will I use and study if not this deck? But it doesn't call to me personally, the artwork doesn't inspire me and I think this deck might be one to let go, as I don't think I'll ever really use it. 

It's would be good for:

I'll be spending the rest of this week reading with the cards - and finish up writing on Friday. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Back to the beginning - again

Well, that all fell through - the house sale I mean - and so we're back to the beginning again. Stressful as it is - it's actually better knowing it's fallen through, rather then the feeling you're forever teetering on the brink, as it was with the last sale.

And we've had to say goodbye to the last of our lovely rescue dogs. We started having dogs as pets when our youngest daughter showed signs of being scared of dogs she met out on walks. We thought perhaps familiarity with friendly dogs in her own home would help her be more confident around all dogs. In one respect it was a grand failure - she never really got to like new dogs we met outside, especially any that jumped up. But she loved all the dogs we re-homed! There have been six in total - of various sizes! We started out small, but then began to choose them by their lovely expressions, and so bigger dogs arrived. The only condition we had was that they were elderly - working on the logic that younger dogs get adopted more quickly, but older dogs, who may be more in need of warm fire to lie in front of, often languished in lonely kennels. We have loved them all - no matter how short or long a time each one stayed with us - and we're not sure how we feel now, having not one pet left.

Lovey Nori - waiting to play.

So the house is gradually getting more and more empty; pieces of furniture have gone, I've sold some sewing machines, given away boxes of books, and now for the first time in twenty years there are no pets of any kind. It's an odd feeling, that things are falling away. Hard to explain.

In order to keep me "cheerful and busy" a dear friend hauled a barn-rescue sewing machine half way down the country for me. It's a Singer 27K from 1898, most likely the treadle is the same age.This is the largest and most extreme project I've handled so far. There are scores and scores of photographs of it - as it arrived - in bits - being restored - you get the idea. But here is what it looked like when first released from it's surrounds of decades of "stuff" in the barn.

You can just about see the peeling and warping veneer, and the rust on all the treadle mechanism. The actual machine head inside looked like this:  

When it's all done, I'll post some pictures. I am learning a lot working on something so far gone. 

Autumn is definitely here now, so knitting by the fire is taking up a portion of each chilly day. The yarn that was earmarked for the (failed) gloves is now a nearly complete pair of socks - shot of them to follow when they're done - and then it will be back to a different cardigan pattern with the lovely kettle-dyed yarn I bought a few months ago. I've also played with a fun paper project. A lovely friend of mine has a Midori notebook, she paints the pages and all sorts. I thought I could have fun creating a new look from my existing Filofax - a quick look on the internet made me realise I am very late to the party on this! But I've had fun with my existing paper supplies, making a map and travel theme. I've used old foreign stamps, cut off from OS maps, luggage labels, that kind of thing. I even went for one of those fancy dangly charm do-dahs - but I chose a tiny compass. That was the only thing I bought especially, and it cost me less than £1. I feel like a kid again with this, it was such fun to do and now it's lovely to carry around with me again.

Last but not least, I think I should spend more time working with my less-used tarot and oracle decks; some of them barely get a look-in from one year to the next. The ones which don't have boxes are the most ignored. because they live in a succession of bags, and I'm less reminded of what things are there I think.
So I'm going to try playing with one deck a week, finding it's book or leaflet if I have it, doing readings, taking pictures, and writing some notes here (to make me keep doing it - public accountability and all that). If I don't want to spend a week with a deck I'll have to justify why I want to keep it. Is this a good idea do you think? I'll also happily do you a half-price reading with whatever wacky deck I may have in my bag on any given week. If you'd like to be as startled as me, drop me a line LOL  Week one is likely to the Dance of Life Tarot - I found it yesterday again, and I do think I have it's accompanying book too!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Stress - there's a lot of it about!

I'd like to be one of those 'always calm' people, who can smile in the midst of stuff going wrong, and keep their pulse level when waiting for telephone calls of importance. But just lately my inner calm has all been used up it seems, and I've not really got a plan... apart from clouds and sky watching sometimes.

The house - well - it's been good, it's been bad, it's hanging by a thread, it's been more money and it's been stressfully undecided. Truly. The good news is we have sold our house, and chosen a nice house at the other end, and everyone in the chain has the requisite buyer and/or seller. The bad part is that one person has more exacting criteria than might be expected (?Do you like my polite understatement there?) and it's been on and off with them, and a further injection of hard cash to get them to continue. It's not my buyer or my house, but it effects everyone in the chain, and the collapse of one link spells the end of the current round, so we're keen to keep everything going.
Now, other people's house buying woes probably aren't much fun to read about or even very interesting, but I thought you'd all like to know where I'm at. The biggest irony was I had decided I didn't enjoy living with two rooms full of boxes anymore, and with much hard work from both of us we had unpacked everything and made the house and the garden lovely again! 

 We have been doing some nice things as well though - so please enjoy trains, fungi and a long-in-the-planning stitching project which will eventually be a complete embroidered box.

The desk, day one.
 My knitting mojo has not improved, and my attempt to learn to knit gloves is on hold - I can't stand all those gapped or stretched stitches between the fingers, and I could not get it neat! Anyone an expert on gloves? What's the secret?
I did manage some simple dressmaking, and some repairs, and we even did some DIY - not our strongest point. But basically we're waiting - could be very soon, could be months, and neither of us is really the patient type LOL

Enjoy the autumn days - or the spring days to my friends 'round the other side' and watch this space...

Blessings to you and yours


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.