Archive for October, 2012

Rainy Day Project – Part II

October 22, 2012

Well, what can I say? It may have been halfway decent weather elsewhere, but here in East Dorset it has been grey & drizzly ever since I wrote the last post. So I’ve got further, faster, under the stairs, than I thought possible…

From this:

A starting point… you can see what I’m going to do, but it looks like quite a lot of work.

Through this:

Hmm… that wasn’t too bad, didn’t take as long as I thought…

To this:

Well, just about there now! Just the fiddly bits to do…

Not sure I can quite believe it! It’s not “finished” & I’m not sure it ever will be, any more than any room in any living home can be; there’s always something new to accomodate or something different to be done. But when I say “new” it’s a relative term; nothing in there has been bought new, except the network printer (under the embroidery) which we’ve had for nearly a year. Even my Ipad, which has also been with us for a while, was a refurb. And I have stuck to my guns and not spent one single penny; it’s all been done with stuff we already had!




The Rainy Day Project… Part 1

October 19, 2012

You know what I mean by “dead spaces” in the house? Every home has at least one; those little corners that aren’t quite big enough to take a proper piece of furniture, or do anything much in. We’ve had one since we moved in here; the understair cupboard was just exactly big enough for everything to get hopelessly lost & jumbled in, but not big enough for me to get into to find things again. So it got ripped out in the interests of sanity; it’s been curtained off ever since.

Our hallway is long & narrow; it runs the full length of the house from front to back door, straight through the middle, and is very much a passageway in continual use. The stairs run straight up from outside the living room door, near the front door, with no turns. So the area under there is quite a good size, but obviously long & thin, low at one and and high at the other. For many years we had a tall freezer at the high end, near the kitchen door, but some months ago I worked out that half the stuff we were expending electricity on keeping frozen was actually junk. So I replaced it with a worktop-height one; there’s also a big chest freezer out in the garage, so all we needed was a bit of cold storage for frozen veg & ice cream indoors. This opened up some intriguing possibilities; if we could just work out how, the space could probably be put to better use. The rest of it had some freestanding shelves & no obvious function, so had filled up with fairly random & long-forgotten clutter.

There were three possibilities; food storage, laundry sorting & storage, or an office area. All three functions can be carried out elsewhere, to be honest, but the one that really needed a dedicated area of its own was the home-office. We now have a much-improved utility room with a worktop for laundry-sorting, there’s plenty of storage in my kitchen cupboards which just isn’t being used effectively at the moment, and cool storage out in the garage, but at present the official “desk” is shared with the electric sewing machine, working fabric & the dyestuffs, so it doesn’t stand much of a chance!

I sat down & made a list; it turns out that we actually already own virtually everything we need to turn this rather-dispiriting “dead space” into a quirky vintage-style officette. We had a run of worktop left over from the utility room revamp, which is just about exactly the right length. It can sit across the top of the freezer and the top of a useful cupboard “stolen” from DS3’s room. I won two rolls of delightful vintage wallpaper on Ebay some time ago, to finish a project which only took a few inches in the end; there’s plenty for this space there, and I have several rolls of lining paper. When I gave up the shop, the new owner didn’t need the wall-hung shelves from the kitchen, so I have those in there already, and a nicely OTT vintage lamp. There’s still some laminate flooring to match the hallway, and some underlay that turned up with something else. I thought I might need to buy a gang-plug, but it turns out I already had an appropriate one, also left over from the shop. Primer & paint, if we don’t have anything appropriate, can usually be sourced for free at the Tip in smallish quantities, and that’s all I’ll need. And my beloved kneeling chair, which had been banished from the living room as it doesn’t fit in with the look of it at all, slides neatly under the worktop.

But there’s quite a lot of work to do. I need to sand down, prime & paint the underside of the stairs. Then clean, size & line the walls, hang the paper, and lay the flooring. It’s not a big area; each job will probably only take a few hours, but will get in everyone’s way mightily as I’ll have to haul everything out of the space in order to work in it! So in my mind it’s become The Rainy Day project; I will start each “phase” at a time when I’m likely to be able to finish it without being distracted or dragged out to do something more interesting. I’ll be taking photos along the way to document my progress, and my ambition for this project is for it to be 100% “re-purposed” i.e. using stuff that we already have, or other people don’t want, and to complete it without spending any money at all!

There are lots of little details to sort out too; I’ll need to find & install a sliding keyboard shelf as the worktop is a little too high for comfortable typing. A broken computer desk should provide one without too much trouble. I can get quite carried away with vintage fabric & lace, making up a suitable pinboard, not to mention a clipboard, and other useful accessories. I already have some quirky magazine files, but may need to lighten them up a bit. It would be good to run the phone over there too, but how to do that without having dangling cables, OR spending any money?

Anyway, one way or another, I’ll be busy for the next week or two, provided the weather continues in its current gloomy vein. It’s nice to be able to look forward to rainy days! Leave me a comment & tell me what projects you have lined up…

Let it rain!

October 13, 2012

Because my chickens now have a roof over their heads again… I spent yesterday re-roofing their run. They’ve been paddling in the mud for long enough! And what’s more, thanks to Freecycle and a very kind lady down in Poole, I have two more of them, and I’m getting beautiful multi-coloured eggs again.

When we first started keeping backyard birds, one of my great joys was collecting the deep brown, pink, blue & white eggs from our much-loved Marans, Faverolles, Araucana & Hamburgh chickens. But over the years the laying flock had dwindled down to 3, two Warren-type hybrids laying perfectly pleasant but very ordinary light-brown eggs, and one gigantic Buff Orpington laying “tinted” (pinkish) eggs when she isn’t broody. There are just two Pekins left, also laying little pinkish eggs, but one of them is raising chicks just now. 2-3 (and possibly a half) eggs a day doesn’t go far between 7 of us! I’d meant to do something about it early this summer, but missed the boat; I wanted a couple of “Chalkhill Blue” day-olds, but didn’t have a broody when they were hatching, and when I did, they’d finished hatching for the year, so she had to make do with some Freecycled eggs and now has two Polish X Frizzle chicks, one of which may not be male.

Anyway, a dear friend had to move earlier this summer & gave me her solitary surviving Marans, Mollie, who lays splendid deep-brown eggs; she was the only survivor of a dog attack. Then a couple of days ago there was an advert on Freecycle from someone desperate to rehome her flock as she’s about to have a serious operation & won’t be able to care for them. I didn’t see the advert until 6 hours after it was posted, so didn’t hold out much hope, but to my delight she contacted me the next morning & said I’d be welcome to take on a couple of them, including – a Chalkhill Blue! So that evening I hurtled down to town & collected two baffled chooks – the other one is a White Star – who now rejoice in the names Faye & Bianca. As my separate accomodation is already occupied by the broody, I had to pop them onto the roost with the others; I was expecting trouble next morning, but I didn’t get it. The new girls were a bit shy to start with, and there was a little bit of posturing, but within an hour they were all dustbathing together and by the end of the day I had two light-brown, one pinkish, one blue and one pearly white egg! And they now have a run that should keep the worst of the weather off their feathers, and a shed that’s stopped letting in water now I’ve revamped the roof. Amusingly, the inside is lined with a red vinyl poster announcing “VIP Marquee” courtesy of the Dorset Scrapstore…

Glorious technicolour eggs!

But it can rain with impunity now for other reasons too. I’ve had a couple of influxes of goodies; one from the local charity shop that sells me the craft-related things they have’t been able to move on themselves, and some interesting items from the tip, as well as some lovely 1950s curtains from the 50p house-clearance stall on the market. I’m going to be busy for days next week, sorting things into saleable & usable, washing things & Freecycling the bits I can’t use. And then there was the very successful raid on the charity shops down in the conurbation, where they evidently do still believe in 99p or £1 rails for the stuff that hasn’t sold; I picked up 9 100% cotton striped gents shirts to slice up for quilting & other fabric projects. So I’d be glad to have an excuse to spend some time indoors; I could even possibly use some of the beautiful threads that were muddled up in the “unsaleable” batch from the local charity shop (pictured below) and the wonderful vintage needles (with decent sized eyes!) that came in a box from the Tip… I may be gone for some time!

Even more technicolour threads!

A little lament for The Ottoman Of Doom…

October 10, 2012

Last week younger daughter suddenly took it into her head to “tidy” her room. At 17, she still had virtually everything she’s ever owned stuffed into corners, under the bed, and heaped over her exercise bicycle, but something suddenly clicked inside her head & she, like me, realised that you can indeed have too much of good things, and that actually it’s rather nice not to have to scramble precariously around umpteen piles of junk in your own bedroom.

Which explains what I was doing down at the Tip on Tuesday; I took down a car full to the brim of childhood & teenage detritus, most of it completely un-re-usable in any way shape or form. Needless to say, the car didn’t come back empty… sitting in the re-use area was the most relentlessly cheery & twee piece of furniture I have ever seen;  a large ottoman covered in a white plastic quilted-effect fabric dotted with little red & yellow rosebuds, complete with shadow-rosebuds in some kind of silvery-shiny substance. The whole artfully trimmed with gold braid, with brass-effect handles & hinges to finish it off. I took one look at it & knew that this piece of heroic kitsch really, really needed a trip to Boscombe on Saturday… My middle son took one look at it in the boot of the car and panicked mightily, basically saying that if it, or indeed anything remotely resembling it, ever entered our household, he was leaving via the nearest exit! So it acquired the nickname The Ottoman Of Doom, and stayed safely in the boot of the car for the rest of the week.

There were other good things down there too; a nice little 50s-style vanity case, a grubby but promising quilt and an interesting modern original acrylic-on-board painting, which gently suggests sailboats in what looks very much like a bluey-purple Aegean sunset. The vanity case also went down to Boscombe with us and sold within minutes of the market opening, for the same price that I’d paid for all four items. The painting is now adorning younger daughter’s suddenly sophisticated & miraculously-coordinated  bedroom, and the quilt washed up a treat and has been “spoken for” by elder daughter. And the Ottoman Of Doom? It sold towards the end of the market; I didn’t price it very high, for the same reason that although a treadle sewing machine is the best of both worlds and the ultimate stitching experience, I can’t expect to get very much money for them; most people just don’t have the room for such large items, no matter how useful. A lot of people stopped  to coo with delight over the ottoman, but then worked out that they didn’t have any way of transporting it, never mind anywhere to put it; luckily it found its new owner at last.

Although ottomans are very useful on the stall, and indeed I have one in the shed that I’ve had for months, full of vintage curtains, that just needs to be unloaded from the car, wheeled down to our pitch & opened to display our wares perfectly effectively, I was glad I didn’t have to bring the big one home again as I haven’t a clue where I would have stashed it! But I do kind of regret not having taken a photo of it; I wonder if such a determinedly-cheerful & outrageously OTT piece of furniture will ever come my way again?

So you’ll have to make do with a pic of one of my latest efforts instead; last autumn a collection of random handmade needle-rolls (complete with vintage cottons) sold well on my stall, mostly snapped up for thoughtful Christmas presents for fellow-stitchers, so this year I’m making some myself from some iconic 1970s curtain fabric. I’m also planning to do some crochet-hook & knitting needle rolls from the same fabric (previously 5 pelmets) and other vintage leftovers. And there’ll be some new ear-rings from elder daughter, now trading herself under the name “Pippin Run Wild” and all the usual indispensable Vintage Craft Stuff – I’m looking forward to November’s Boscombe Vintage Market already! I wonder what other whacky & wonderful treasures will come my way before then?

Needle rolls from 70s pelmets