Archive for March, 2009

Free paint!

March 30, 2009

Just passing the word around – if you need paint or woodstain, and don’t want to shell out loads of money, or want to use something that would otherwise be wasted, get down to your local Tip now! At ours and others nearby, paint is FREE and most of the time they have a huge choice, from almost-full giant tubs to tiny sample pots in a vast range of colours; we picked up a virtually-full large tin of Farrow & Ball a couple of weeks ago. And most of the paint we found to use in our kitchen is low-VOC, so you may well find suitable paint for households with asthmatics/young children too. If you only need a little, it saves you having to buy a bigger pot than you need. There’s woodstain too; my bantam hutch is done out in a fetching shade of Woodland Green, having found a half-pot down there, which was all I needed, so the only thing that cost me any money at all was the hinges. They can’t advertise, for commercial reasons, so please make it your first port-of-call when you’re looking for paint; then tell all your friends, and point out that it’s the environmentally-sound thing to do!

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Black gold…

March 17, 2009

Picture the scene: a green English country lane, dozing gently in the weak spring sunshine. Buds on the trees, but no leaves yet to impede the birdsong flooding down from the trees and cascading over the ebullient roadside daffodils. And along drifts a big Japanese car, slowly, erratically, pausing at every gateway. The driver looks quizzically at the front-seat passenger; she shakes her head sorrowfully and on they go. Then feverish excitement  breaks out; there’s the object of their quest, just visible tucked in beside the next gateway. The car draws up and out they tumble, bags in hand. Eagerly they approach their objective, and the transfer takes place; empty bags are tucked underneath the waiting brick, and full bags placed reverently onto an old rug in the back of the car.  The car backs up & swings round, then off they go, faster now, conveying their precious cargo back home to the waiting beneficiaries… happy roses, plump beans, glowing red & blackcurrants! Black gold, well-rotted horsemuck…

So you can imagine how happy I was to find a box full of plastic compost sacks down at the Tip late last week. I didn’t take them all, just enough to fill my boot up one more time, which should, mixed with my homemade compost, fill my motley assortment of containers, ranging from builder’s bags and gigantic Woolworths plastic tubs to aged terracotta flowerpots. And that will give us vegetables, saladings and even some flowers this summer, given a little sunshine! I have been mending the plastic “walk-in growhouse” and we’ve planted lots of seeds in well re-used trays and pots; tomato seedlings are already showing their heads in my secondhand propagator.

Inside, as well as trying my hand at spinning mohair, I’ve been planning my charkha. I found a box that used to hold projector slides, and some usable bits from a tiny old Saxonia sewing machine that was far beyond hope of resurrection. Add some old cotton reels, a knitting needle, and the gadget that turns the belt of an electric sewing machine, and it’s beginning to look like this is do-able… I shall need to cut a plywood circle and somehow attach two CDs to it to make the big half of the accelerator wheel, and work out what I’m looking for to use for drive bands, but can I have it finished before the end of this week? Watch this space…

Potential charkha?

Potential charkha?

What a week for wombling in Wimborne!

March 6, 2009

An excellent haul…

For a long time, we’ve needed a pair of bi-fold doors to fit across the opening from our tiny living room into our rather large conservatory. Single doors would have taken up too much living space, whichever way they opened. But I’d found it very hard to find readymade doors that fitted in with the style of the house, and bespoke doors were horrendously expensive. But bless their cotton socks, those fine gentlemen at Wimborne Household Recycling centre have done it again! There, before my very eyes on Monday, were a matched pair of sturdy pine bifold doors, with glassed-in uppers so we won’t lose too much light. I’m not too struck on the pattern on the glass, but it’s liveable and the girls actually like it. And it might be removeable, or we could just replace it altogether if it really grates. So all we need now is the hanging kit, which is a little more than £20 at B&Q – much more manageable than the £400 we thought we were going to have to save up. They need painting, to blend in with our decor and add to the (entirely theoretical) impression of space; I will post a pic when they’re done & up. Next cold snap, we’ll be laughing…

As I was clucking happily over the doors, someone offloaded a tent and drove off. Recognising the colours and the style of the bag, I inspected more closely; it was a Khyam Ultradome. Probably a couple of years younger than our old, much-loved Megadome but not as hard-used, it looked to be in decent shape so was popped into the capacious back of my Toyota Emina along with the lovely convertible (treadle/electric) Singer 201K in its oak cabinet. The Singer will be going off to Africa with TWAM, as will the almost-identical one picked up from a goodhearted Freecycler earlier on today. The Khyam will be going off to Devon with us inside! It’s a whole lot smaller & lighter than our big Gelert tunnel tent to transport, without being much smaller inside, and very much easier to pitch.

I have had it up in the garden for a closer look today, and apart from a small, easily mended rip on the porch, it’s in pretty good shape. The original guy ropes are gone, but we have a set of proper Khyam guys & pegs from our faithful old friend the Megadome. I shan’t feel so bad about taking that  apart now, as it will be helping this one give many more years of service, and since one leg strut got snapped by someone who didn’t understand how to pop them down, it really is past it now.  I’ll use some fabric from it to mend that rip, and take the integral groundsheet out to use in the living area of the Ultradome, which didn’t come with one. That’s one reason why we bought the Mega rather than the Ultradome, 13 years ago – you had to buy it seperately if you wanted one, and the tent cost well over £400 to start with…

So I’m happy with that, and with the biggish enamel saucepan (with lid) I kidnapped for dyeing in, the two little mesh windows from someone’s larder which will make fabulous deckles for papermaking & the little old ratchet screwdriver that ought to go off to Africa but which seems to have slipped somehow into my sewing machine tool box and obviously feels quite at home.

And I’m definitely beginning to get the hang of spinning now, and am turning out skeins of yarn that I actually want to work with. The dyeing & spinning experiments are going to be made into a “Granny Square” jumper – will I have it finshed in time to wear it next winter? Or will I be distracted by 101 other irresistible projects, like making myself a charkha out of a small, rescued box and parts from an old Saxonia sewing machine that really was at the end of its useful life? Watch this space for regular updates…