Archive for the ‘Transition Wimborne’ Category

What a difference…

February 6, 2011

…a day makes! Well, yesterday, anyway; it quite restored my faith in what I’m doing. I took my VintageCraftStuff stall to Boscombe Vintage Market yesterday. And despite the fact that it was the first time I’d done a stall there, and really didn’t know how to “pitch” it, I did very well. I’d been worried that on a cold & blowy early February day, in a tent in an inner-city area, it’d be touch & go whether I’d clear the pitch fee plus my fuel costs getting there. I needn’t have worried; I got a lot of positive feedback! So I was quite happy to hand over the pitch fee for next month & will be putting that up on the VCS Events page ASAP. But I can’t help contrasting it with the big, centuries-old market in my little home town. I can understand the logisitics of mixing us crafters in with other stall holders in the “dead” period between Christmas & Easter and closing down the end hall that we were in. But if I’m placed in between say, a cosmetics stall with everything in shiny packages and a stall full of cheap plastic “bankrupt stock” kitchenware, my lovely old sewing machines and intriguing vintage knitting patterns are in danger of looking like a heap of old junk, no matter how pretty the stall looks, dressed in red velvet, wicker & lace. Not to mention the probability of having to lug heavy kit through crowded halls some distance from where you’re parked; in the end hall the logisitics were easy and the company good.

But the main difference was in the customers. There are some lovely appreciative people here, and some loyal supporters, but there are also a significant number of people who aren’t afraid to make comments like, “Been going through the bins, then?” or “Thank heavens we don’t have to do that sort of thing any longer!” I know from public Morsbagging sessions that many of them will have had unfortunate experiences long ago, of having been humiliated & told they were “useless” in front of their friends in Domestic Science or DT classes, but being rude about someone else’s hard work really doesn’t make life better for anyone. The fact that a proportion of my stock does actually come from the Recycling Centre doesn’t mean that it’s worthless (or that I didn’t pay anything for it, either) but that as a society, we’ve lost the plot and are quite prepared to junk items of real value & lasting beauty in favour of new plastic stuff with an expected lifespan of 5 years, if you’re lucky! Not all new stuff is “”bad” and not all old stuff is “good” but the reverse isn’t automatically true either. I think that says what I wanted to…

And the attitude seems to be reflected in our town’s general way of going about things. It’s becoming a hard slog to continue to try to keep the Transition spark alive in a town that seems to think it really doesn’t have to worry about things like that. Retail rents & rates are such that it’s virtually impossible to start up a genuine local initiative; I know there has been & probably still is a drive to attract upmarket chain stores to the town by the well-meaning, vocal, middle class, upper-income bracket people who think that easy access to a branch of Marks & Spencers will solve any problems that Peak Oil & Climate Change might bring. So rents are kept high in order to attract “the right sort of business” and fledgling local businesses have to go elsewhere or seek huge bank loans. And surprise, surprise, attracting a well-known posh supermarket to our town has NOT increased takings for our genuine local shops, who were amongst the prime movers in the campaign to bring them here, but depressed them. Our youngsters think there isn’t any point even trying; they know they’ll never be able to afford to buy homes or run businesses here and that’s the saddest thing of all. Our future’s going elsewhere…

I had a lot of young, enthusiastic customers yesterday, many of them students at the Arts Institute, and lots of thoughtful, creative, appreciative older ones too, in an area that most people here think of as a bit run-down and grim. All I can say is that Wimborne really, really needs to wake up…


A good haul today…

November 10, 2010

I just nipped into the Tip in passing today, to see whether they by any chance had any last-minute Japonica quinces; I think I’ve denuded the entire neighbourhood of them now. No quinces, but there were a fair few other bargains to be had:- 

  • a wicker basket for my stall. Stuff looks far better, and is easier to transport & display, in  containers, and wicker looks the part nicely on top of my rescued red velvet ex-curtains.
  • a bag full of splendid pelargoniums to brighten my conservatory windowsills over the winter & give plenty of cuttings for next summer’s windowboxes.
  • another armful of tins; I do have enough now, but a friend is collecting up good quality kitchware to do a market stall of her own. These are very attractive, worthy of display in their own right.
  • a sturdy solid wood chopping board.
  • two intact “Bodum” cafetieres, small & mid-sized.
  • some good-quality utensils for my friend’s stall – an easy-clean garlic press, a sturdy stainless steel corkscrew, and a tin-opener that’s so good I may not hand it over! And some smooth, sturdy old wooden spoons, and a couple of rather nice pastry tins.
  • more jamjars. I know there are more quinces out there somewhere

The reason I’ve been hogging all the quinces & jamjars is that Transition Town Wimborne are doing a stall at the Charities Fair at the Allendale Centre this Saturday. My contribution will be a “preserves” tombola & taste-testing – hopefully that’ll be an eye-catcher, raise us some funds and raise people’s awareness of just how much free food is going to waste in the hedgerows & gardens all around us… as well as lightening the load on our garage shelves!

Has there ever been such a year…

September 16, 2010

Hedgerow Jelly in the making...

… in the hedgerows? I am foraging, gathering, drying, preserving as fast as I can, and most of it is still going to waste – I only have one pair of hands and 24 hours in a day – not fair!

Blenheim Oranges ripening on our old tree...

Our Blenheim Orange is groaning with fruit – again – and we’ve been picking anything up to 9 figs a day from our Brown Turkey. I responded to a Freecycle offer of crab apples and now have 40+ jars of Crab Apple Jelly and Hedgerow Jelly in my storecupboard; there are 4 demijohns of apple wine burping happily in the downstairs bathroom, 15 large jars of chutney cooling in the garage and there’ll soon be cider, too. On a walk down by the river with my elder daughter this evening I grabbed an armful of hop vine from a tree beside the path, and in conjunction with those easily reached on the side & roof of our garage, there are now 4 trays of ripe hop pannicles drying in my dehydrator.  The hedegerows down by the riverbank are literally blue with sloes where they aren’t black with blackberries & elder, and there’s a bowl of hazelnuts on the kitchen table that I just picked up from the pavement at the top of our road, never mind the ones we grow in the front garden; saves paying £2.79 for 454g in the supermarket!

The hardware to do all this – jamjars, Kilners, demijohns, etc. – came partly from our local Freegle & Freecycle groups, partly from Transition Town Wimborne’s appeal for unused brewing & preserving equipment, which I’m storing, and partly from my sister-in-law’s capacious store room, where she’d been hoarding jamjars in the hope that one day she’d have a spare half hour free to actually make some jam! There’s plenty of equipment left to give away, too; the point of the TTW appeal was to enable other people to start up, and several have already benefitted, but there’s more where that came from, as well as the bits I’m using too!

I have never seen so much fruit out there for the taking; I know it’s probably just a result of several damp, cool years followed by a cold, pest-killing winter & a reasonably dry warm summer, but part of me really feels we shouldn’t be wasting any of this. Yes, we should always leave plenty for others (and there are others out there this year, at long last) and plenty for the birds and other wildlife, but who knows when we’ll see such bounty again?

Jars of scrumptious goodness jammed in everywhere!

Sometimes less is more…

April 18, 2010

…and perhaps this week has been proof of that, on the recycling front. I have only managed two forays, thanks to my still-recovering hip and other commitments; one to the Tip and one to a nearby car boot sale. But both outings were well worthwhile.

At the tip, I found some oddments of textiles needed to complete a couple of projects I heve on the go, including a fair few metres of curtain fabric still on the roll, ideal for Morsbagging. Also a complete game of Absolute Balderdash – that’ll keep us happy for a few evenings!

At the car boot sale (outside Wimborne Market on a Saturday morning) the first thing my eyes alighted on was pure treasure; an apple press. I know I already have one, but I’d been racking my brains to think of a way to raise some money for TTWimborne to buy a fruit press. Obviously, for public use, we’ll need a bigger one, and will have to fundraise; however, I’d just found out we have been allowed a stall at the Minster Fair on the Minster Green during the Folk Festival this year. What could be better than raffling (or some kind of contest, if they have stern rules about games of chance) a household-sized apple press? I know from experience how hard they are to come by and how many people would love one  – hopefully they’ll think risking a pound for a ticket is a good investment, especially as that pound will be going towards a bigger one for community use, so if they don’t win, they will at least have that to look forward to!

Then at one of the house clearance stalls, I found a bag containing several pairs of bamboo knitting needles & other oddments. He wanted several ££s, which half of me thought was too much, but it was still early in the morning’s trading & he didn’t look to be in bargaining mode, so I paid up. When I got home, I found to my delight that most the the bamboo needles were still in their packets, and thus saleable from my own stall or web shop, AND there were three sets of circular metal needles, also still in their wrappings, AND a box full of Simanco fashion cams, AND oodles of old lace snippets! I shall be uploading them (and lots of other things too) early on this week, whenever I’m not planting up my hanging baskets or front garden.

On Tuesday, Wimborne played host to Steph Bradley, who is walking the length & breadth of England telling & gathering Transition Tales. I met her at Canford Bridge and gave her lunch & a chance to rest her feet a bit before meandering through Wimborne to meet up with Tom from the Gaunt’s House community, where she was staying the night – read about it from Steph’s viewpoint here. And what a lovely, sparkly entertaining lady she is!

And last but not least, the chicken saga continues; I have had two broodies sitting for 6+ weeks. I didn’t think they’d stay put at first because it was so cold, so I didn’t arrange any hybrid chicks for them. But they sat it out, and just over four weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house who keeps a cock bird, so I begged some hopefully-fertile eggs from her and popped them under. But sadly, one of the broodies at least was turfed off the nest by someone looking for a space to lay in sometime in the first few days, and when I candled the eggs at 7 days development, two were obviously clear. I couldn’t see much in the other two because they were blue eggs, but one did look a bit darker – maybe it had a thicker shell? Anyway, day 21 came & went with no hatchlings, then day 22, day 23, etc. I was a bit worried that they’d starve, so on day 27, the first day I had any spare time, I rang round the local breeders, located one (Race Farm Poultry – thank you, Shelley!) with day-olds, and went & bought 4 best-guess-female pure breed chicks for them.

I left the warm box peeping in the shed for an hour, to get the girls used to the idea of impending motherhood, then slipped two chicks under each broody, removing the “blank” eggs, all but one. That evening, I went to take the last egg away, so that Nutmeg would be free to bring her chicks out the  next day. But horrors! There was only half a shell – oh no, I thought, it’s burst & the chicks will get infected & die! But there was no foul smell… I lifted Nutmeg up slightly, and there were altogether too many legs… THREE chicks! The last egg had hatched, at 27 days. Maybe the little sturdy, stripey chick inside needed to hear the other chicks cheeping around it before it found the strength to break out? Or maybe it incubated really slowly because  of the cold weather in the first couple of weeks? Who knows… but it’s a lovely healthy chick all the same.

The Silkin, Nutmeg & surprise legbarX chick...

Peace at last!

November 24, 2009

Shawl, "blocking" after a little light fulling...

At long last I’ve caught up with myself a bit. After keeping my head down all week learning how to use my tri-loom (which I’m afraid I did buy new; I ran out of time to make one, even if  several 7′ lengths of seasoned oak had somehow materialised) I’ve finally completed a commission I was given back in the summer, for a shawl in rich browns, gold & oranges.  It’s been a learning process… I know now that the tri-loom produces a much more substantial & even weave than the scrap loom, but as the threads are under far more tension, haloed, “sticky” or underspun yarns are not the best materials to pick. So if they are what I happen to have to work with, back to the scrap loom, which is a much quicker technique too. But for top-quality stuff, the tri-loom it shall be.

In the meantime, my car has been filling up with goodies – there’s fabric, yarn, several nice handcranked sewing machines including a “Queen Alexandra” Jones FCS in fine shape, a sturdy 50s concertina sewing box and some very interesting books in there, as far as I remember! (Not to mention a bale of barley straw for the chickens & rabbits – it’s dry in there, and not in anyone’s way.)  But there they will probably have to stay until after the weekend, as we have guests and there’s enough “clutter” already inside.  I’ve also been busy networking on the Transition front; we’re planning a “Skills Taster” day early next year and I’m having quite a lot of fun going round to various groups & asking them to come & demonstrate.

I’ve also sold off my Louet S20 spinning wheel. I’m sad it had to go, but since my diagnosis I’ve realised why it had started to hurt to spin for any length of time on it; I needed a double-treadle or wide-treadle wheel. I chased a few on Ebay and won one, an EasySpin, which is absolutely beautiful & spins very nicely too, but is made of some kind of hardwood which is very brittle where it’s cut thin, such as the bobbin ends. So it’s not up to everyday life in a hectic household; I will try to hang onto it until I have my workshop as I do love it, but don’t want to risk damaging it. So what to use? As I already had quite a few Louet accessories & spares & their wheels seem to suit my style of spinning, as well as having a relatively small footprint, the answer was obvious. So I’ve dug into my rapidly-decreasing little savings pot & acquired a very lovely brand-new Louet S75, which I hope will be my “forever after” wheel. I haven’t had time to do much on her yet, but am working on two gorgeous Gotland fleeces, in very different colours but both beautifully soft, blended with a little angelina, and will post a pic when I’ve plied the first two bobbins-full together. The wheel is a dream to spin on; light & easy to treadle and very smooth, with the classic big Louet bobbins & good-size orifice. Lighter than the S20 to move, too, but with rubber feet so she doesn’t slip gently away from me as the S20 used to.

So now I have to behave myself for at least a year – NO more new equipment! I have enough supplies to keep me busy until next summer, by which time I should have acquired my bionic hip & be able to run my stall again, well stocked up!  Anything I really think I need will have to come to me secondhand or rescued, be made by me, or wait until my birthday and/or Christmas 2010. It shouldn’t be a hardship; I’m very lucky to have as much equipment as I do, and I really don’t have room for any more. So that’s my challenge to myself for the next year; to do what I need or want to do with what I already have, or can make for myself, am given or rescue.

Busy busy busy!

September 3, 2009

Just in case you were wondering where I’d got to, I’ve been a little busy, preparing firsrtly for tonight’s Transition Wimborne meeting (7.00 pm at the CLaRC) secondly for Saturday’s Bournemouth Vintage Fayre and thirdly for the Dorset County Show on Sunday where I’ll be demonstrating something (not 100% sure what yet) with my Guild, the Dorset Weavers, Spinners & Dyers. So I’ve been polishing up some of my little old beauties in the hope that they’ll find themselves loving new homes, and using up some of my bountiful supplies of reclaimed fabric & yarns. I now have 3 “Extreme Crochet” shawls to offer, including one that I’m tempted to keep, but musn’t as I already have too many shawls!

Extreme Crochet strikes again!

Extreme Crochet strikes again!

And then there’s the quilt/bedspread/throw… I was given a 1970’s duvet cover by its original maker, who told me to “make something with it!” She’d got some way through making a Grandmother’s Flower Garden hexagonal quilt & got bored, so she appliquéd it to a candy-pink polycotton duvet cover, which had become bobbly & worn over the years. But the patchwork was still in pretty good condition, so I cut it off the polycotton and appliquéd it onto some red velvet which came from a pair of gigantic curtains that smelt somehow of hotel – well-washed, of course! – and “tied” it with snippets of old lace. It wouldn’t have looked right just plonked onto the velvet, so I framed it with some deep modern lace I was given on Freecycle.

Stitching the patchwork & lace onto the velvet...

Stitching the patchwork & lace onto the velvet...

That sounds straightforward, but until you’ve painstakingly stitched around the outside of several hundred little hexagons, you don’t realise quite how fiddly it is! But the end result is quite stunning, IMHO, as a bedspread or as a throw; I just wonder whether anyone will want to buy it…

Makes a good bedspread?

Makes a good bedspread?

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…


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!