Archive for July, 2009

Ermm…

July 31, 2009
Oh my word, I've won something!

Oh my word, I've won something!

…I’m really rather proud of myself! Joint recipient of the Balqama trophy in Recycled Materials… I can’t quite believe it. But I’m very happy about it anyway! And also that all three of my other entries received “Highly Commended” status. Well chuffed, surprised & delighted, in fact. And the judges kindly said they hoped I’d make more of them. I do wish I’d finished the charkha in time to show it, because as far as I remember there was nothing else like it there, but oh well, maybe next year…? And I already have some other ideas for practical handmade recycled items…

More practical recycling - one of my denim aprons...

More practical recycling - one of my denim aprons...

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Is it or isn’t it…

July 30, 2009
An old drop spindle? Or a giant darning mushroom?

An old drop spindle? Or a giant darning mushroom?

An old drop spindle?

I picked this up at our local market for 50p last weekend, under the impression that it was a giant darning mushroom. But I couldn’t help wondering what the hook was for, not to mention the groove below the hook. Something about it suggested spinning, probably the resemblance to a child’s spinning top, so I tried it out with a little mauve roving. Lo & behold, it worked, really rather well. But I haven’t a clue whether that’s what it’s intended use really was! Or how old it is, or, if it is a spindle, which tradition it came from. Ideas, please…

The entries for the Dorset Arts & Crafts Association show are now in, and I’m really looking forward to going down there with a friend tomorrow & seeing what the judges thought of my strictly non-traditional stuff. In the end I enetered my felted slippers, a denim apron, one of my crazy-patchwork bags and a broomstick crochet hat & “neckwarmer” (not long enough for a scarf – not enough yarn!) I did a little while ago. It’s my first year of entering so I’m not expecting any great plaudits but it’ll be interesting to see wht it is they’re looking for, and how (or in fact IF) I could ever achieve it.

I shall report back tomorrow evening, with pics…

Going flat out…

July 23, 2009

…at the moment, finishing my entries for the upcoming Dorset Arts & Crafts exhibition next weekend. I’m not 100% sure my entries made it in time, as I’d lost my schedule and whacked them in at the last possible moment, but at least I did get around to entering! If I have time tomorrow or at the weekend, I will post a couple of pics of my efforts. I’m not expecting any great accolades; I’m an amateur and very much a have-a-go merchant, and there are plenty of well-experienced professionals out there, not to mention that this is my first attempt anyway. I’m hoping for some constructive criticism and pointers as to how best to improve what I do, yet I’m aware that not all of the judges appreciate non-traditional craft work. Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained, and I’m sure I shall enjoy the show anyway!

Off now to do a little more last-minute quilting…

It’s raining again…

July 11, 2009

…and after the last two summers, a grey day makes my heart sink and has me straight out inspecting my tomatos & potatos for the first signs of blight. But when I walked up to town earlier, the level of the river was really quite low, so I guess we do need this downpour. As long as there’s plenty of sunshine to follow it up & ripen my figs…

redcurrants

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had much time to devote to recycling or anything interesting, really. I did manage to re-boil my strawberry jam, which I’d bottled just short of setting somehow. So I added the last of the garden redcurrants, to try to boost the pectin levels, and boiled it until I was sure of the wrinkles on the testing plate, then poured it into clean Kilner jars, gleaned from the Tip a few weeks ago. I had been ignoring old-style Kilners, knowing that the original company had gone bust some years ago, but these had some original, unused lids with them. There must have been 30+ “dual purpose” jars in the box, and only 9 lids, but I didn’t have time to see whether there were any more when I picked them up. When I got home & discovered that there weren’t, I tried Googling “Kilner jar lids” & came up with this little gem of a site: Kilner Jars & Parts. So now I can “rescue” them again! But I’m not likely to need to, for the foreseeable future, with more than 30 to use & re-use…

The Transition Town Wimborne meeting was hugely encouraging; we really didn’t know how many people might turn up, or what level of awareness there was “out there” about Transition, so a turn-out of 19 was a fantastic boost. There were lots of different talents & interests represented; now we need to spread the word, reach more people & raise awareness that there are potential problems ahead, but there are also plenty of positive things we can do to adapt to them. Next meeting: Thursday 6th August, venue to be confirmed, with a film showing, probably The Power Of Community.

Off now to work on some bits to sell at the upcoming Colehill Country Fair – free stalls for local crafters being an irresistible offer!

A woolly-minded interlude…

July 6, 2009
Scrumptious Portland fleece - but mucky!
Scrumptious Portland fleece, drying out.

Just over a week ago, we picked up some Freecycled Portland fleece. Portlands are small, intelligent, friendly ancestral Downland sheep and their creamy-white fleece is supposed to be very good for “beginner” spinners. So when our moderator Josie mentioned that a friend had just taken on some neglected Portlands, on Portland itself, and needed to rehome their newly-shorn fleece fast, as she had nowhere to store it, I felt that it was worth a 10-extra-mile trip over to the Island to pick it up, as I was going down to Dorchester for a WSD Guild meeting anyway. So off we hurtled, met up with Su and her other half, and relieved them of – well, I’m not sure how many, quite a few anyway – damp fleeces.

I’ve had a really busy couple of weeks; last week’s excellent camping trip to West Dorset was followed in short order by a trip up to Surrey to camp in my brother’s garden for his daughter’s 30th birthday party. During this time, the fleeces were drying out gradually on old trellises and other loose garden bits, thanks to DH moving them from lawn to garage and back again, depending on the weather conditions. Now they are mostly dry, I shall bag two up for Josie, awaiting her safe return from hospital; I’ve wrapped two more up to send to an e-friend who expressed an interest in free fleece, and have a mere – oh, ten or thereabouts – left to deal with…
So – how to “scour” fleece en masse? Here’s my way, two at a time, as they’re small sheep: warn the family the bathroom’s off limits for a while (we do have a shower room too) then soak for a good long time  in a deep, hot bath, with a little sandalwood essence. Get yourself out, dry off, add some shampoo to the water and put the fleece in gently, pushing it down until it’s all underwater. Leave overnight, then pull the plug out & let it drain. Fill the bath again with cool water, move the fleece around very gently so that it doesn’t felt, then drain again, and repeat until the water runs away clean. One last rinse with a cupful of vinegar added, then drain and squeeze gently until the water stops running. Stuff damp fleece into pillowcases, then spin (only spin, no rinse!) in your washing machine, and lay out on some kind of grid to dry.
A lot of dirt came out of the two I washed overnight, but what didn’t come out were the burdock burrs. I thought I was going to lose a lot of fleece along with them as they were completely entangled, but once the fleece was wet, they pulled out quite cleanly & easily. There’s a fair bit of the dreaded VM (Vegetable Matter) still in there, but most of that should come out when I card it. There’s also still quite a bit of lanolin, so it should be nice & easy to spin, then I can wash it again before dyeing.
But I suspect that lot will keep me busy until next Christmas!

Recreational recycling…

July 4, 2009

 

 

camping1

So this is what we did with the Khyam Ultradome this week… and the potbelly BBQ stove…

And this is how West Dorset looks if you can get there out of season…

camping2