Posts Tagged ‘dorset’

A little sad, a little happy…

June 2, 2017

Well. Been busy again… a few weeks back, we had some frantic emails round the Committee of our local Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, of which I am a member. Some looms and spinning wheels from an old weaving workshop, including a very-historic original Huguenot silk loom, had been stored in a thatched rural loft, which had fallen in. If we couldn’t do something to rescue them fast, they would have to go into a skip…

20170513_110119

So off a couple of us trotted, into the wilds of beautiful rural Dorset, where we found a muddle of loom parts in the loft, wherever the thatchers had stacked them, and some spinning wheels, in varying condition, stashed away in a tent on the lawn. Most of these things were hardwood, 30 or more years old, but in fair-to-middling condition, all apart from one wheel, made of softwood & ply, which had been rather well-nibbled. My colleague teaches spinning, with as many pupils as she can handle, most without wheels of their own yet, so she took the wheels. And the owner’s family & I arranged for the truly massive & very historic silk loom to go to the Huguenot Museum in Rochester.

Which left the rest… There were 4 complete looms; a big Harris upright rug/tapestry loom, which I got very excited about, as I’ve always wanted to weave Scandinavian-style rag rugs, an 8-shaft 3′ Harris table loom (and a stand & treadles which it will fit on, although not original) a 4-shaft 2’6″ Dryad floor loom and a curious little 8-shaft beastie with a very innovative system of pulley-operated shafts & upright split-metal heddles.

20170513_130153

The rug loom came home with me, and the other three, and some oddments, went to a Guild friend’s barn. With the help of some of my fellow Ravellers, we’ve now identified the little sample loom as a Pioneer, from the NorthWest Loom Company . I got in touch with them; they reckon it’s about 50-60 years old, one of their originals, and should clean up nicely! So the Guild will be renovating that one & keeping it for shows and demonstrations. The other two are awaiting new homes…

Sad to relate, the upright Harris rug loom is just plain too massive for the only space in this house I could possibly keep it… as soon as we got it into place, I realised that it just wouldn’t be fair to my family to hang onto it; they’d be forever clonking heads on the bits that stick out, and our 24’ conservatory just seemed to have vanished! But it’s found a new & enthusiastic home already, I’m happy to report, with someone who is just back from studying tapestry weaving in Peru. So I shall be saving up like mad for one with a smaller footprint and a “lighter” presence.

And that’s what I’ve been up to, quite apart from the hurly-burly of everyday family life and running a micro-business, and that’s why I’ve been a little bit quiet for a while. Trying to house the loom forced me to clear a lot of the mess and excess stock lurking around in the conservatory, so there have been benefits in this little escapade for all the family. And now I can see my way clear for where to put the next one…

Driving me mad…

September 24, 2012

This post isn’t about recycling. This post is about manners; specifically, about manners on the road. Over the last week or so, I’ve clocked up a fair few miles in the course of business & pleasure, mostly on rural & “A” roads, and I’ve been so upset by the way that some people behave when they get behind the wheel that I have to let off some steam!

Last Sunday I was driving back down from North Dorset when a big silver Audi screamed up behind me and hung so close to my back bumper that I couldn’t see the bonnet of his car. We were on a National Speed Limit road, and I was going well over 50 as I do know the road quite well, but it’s narrow & twisty with high hedges & goes down to one track in places. So as soon as I could, I pulled into a farm gate & let him pass. Within 100 yards a big white BMW had pulled up right on my tail again, and we were into the bit that goes single-track with no place to pull in. And there he stayed for about 15 miles, so close that if I’d had to brake unexpectedly, say for a vehicle coming the other way where’s there’s no passing place, he’d have found himself in my boot; the best braking system in the world can’t stop you within 10 feet at 60MPH. There were plenty of opportunities for him to overtake in the last 5 miles, but he was too close to see past me!

There have been other incidents during the week, culminating in an unpleasant run from Bridport to Dorchester this afternoon. I had a pale green VW far too close behind me from the end of the dual carriageway; at the A37 roundabout he attempted to undertake me, but another car got in his way. Straight up close behind me again, he pulled into the left-turn to Dorchester lane at the next roundabout, signalling left; I was going straight ahead in the A35 lane, breathing a sigh of relief, when I spotted him in my lefthand mirror, having attempted to undertake again. He shook his fist at me when I didn’t slam on my brakes to let him through. At the Kingston Maurward roundabout he shot into the right-hand A35 lane, and careered round the roundabout, still shaking his fist at me, and his elegantly-dressed wife, probably in her early 60s, gave me a V-sign! I watched as they shot up behind the next car in front, kept on edging out to try to overtake despite the oncoming traffic, then caused mayhem weaving in & out of the traffic accelerating up the next stretch of dual carriageway, when there was no need to weave & cause the overtakees to brake, as there was nothing else in the overtaking lane.

Why do people do it? I know I’m not the best or fastest driver on the road, or in the most expensive car, & I recognise that for some people, driving will always be a race because of their competitive nature; they have to be in front, usually driving a car that cost more than a year’s salary for most people. But driving so close that you are putting yourself & other people in mortal danger is lunatic, especially at speed, no matter how good your airbags. Not to mention intimidating; I don’t let it get to me whilst I’m actually driving, and I’m not going to go faster than the limit just because they want to, but nor am I going to slow down deliberately to annoy them because that’s just childish & only likely to cause more problems. I would love a “Back Off!” sign, but I’d also love a “Thank You!” sign for people like the person who was behind me from Dorchester to Wimborne, who kept a sensible distance, or for people who let you out of difficult turnings.

And for the person who boxed me in where I was quite legitimately parked this afternoon; if a Mum with a pushchair, or a wheelchair user, had come down the pavement you were parked half across, they’d have had to go out into the roadway on a blind corner to get past. Luckily one of my friends helped me inch out, but if I’d had to stay put until you returned, you’d have faced the wrath of – well, a very cross middle-aged Mum!

Made crosser still by the fact that some of the charity shops in our area are now charging more for clothes than they cost originally, but that’s another story…

At last…

March 9, 2012

I’ve finally thought of a way of using cuffs! On my rare days off, I haunt the charity shops of Dorset, raiding the “Reduced” rails for cotton shirts & pyjamas to turn into patchwork fabric. You can get some very decent fabric, in reasonable quantities, for £1 that way. I’ve worked out a way of slicing them up so that you get the maximum quantity of usable fabric, plus a quantity of “seam yarn” for rag rugs etc., from each garment, depending on how it’s constructed. But I’ve always struggled with how to use the collar & cuffs & generally ended up popping them into my scraps-I-really-can’t-do-anything-with bag. This goes off to a charity shop, where they get paid for rags by weight; every little counts!

But today I cracked it; I found a nice “Next” pink striped needlecord shirt for £1 on Monday, that you’d have to have an incredibly slender & well-sculpted figure to wear. I could see straight away that it’d make several stunning fabric hearts, or possibly needlecases; maybe some of each. As I was cutting it up today, the cuffs fell together onto the tabletop in such a way as to remind me I’d lost my glasses case recently, and suddenly I could see how I could make them into one, very quickly & easily. And 20 minutes later, my glasses had a new home! It even has a useful little pocket on the back, too, that I’m going to make a tiny matching mending kit for. Will post a “how-to” sometime after weekend!

Image

Image

Image

Have I gone too far this time?

February 25, 2009

On our way to pick up next winter’s egg supply today (as day-old chicks, to pop under my broody Pekin bantams) I spotted a dead pheasant at the side of the road. Nothing unusual at this time of year in the Dorset countryside, but this one was at the end of a layby, so would be easily reachable without danger from speeding traffic. I said to the girls, “If he’s still there on the way back, he’d make a good supper tonight…” Cue squawks of teenage horror…

Much to my surprise, he was still there, so I pulled into the layby, nipped out and had a quick look. Well dead, but still warm; no signs of decomposition or illness. So into the boot of the car he went…

And indeed he has made the most delicious meal, in a home-made Chasseur sauce, with baked potatos, bulgur wheat and stir-fried kale. But half the family, the male half at that, are being exceptionally fussy and refusing to eat him.

It’s not as if it’ll make any difference to him now, is it? He very clearly died of colliding with a car, nothing more sinister or infectious than that, and he’s been well-cooked to be on the safe side. My Other Half maintains that his mortal remains would have fed umpteen small creatures of the night, but I suspect they would instead have been a deathtrap for them, lying in the path of on oncoming traffic in the dark. I for one am grateful for his little life and untimely death; his bones are boiling for stock right now and his glorious feathers will adorn some of our textile projects. And it’s not as if we killed him ourselves…

Anyway, I’m proud of my daughters, for helping to prepare him without a fuss in the end. And I don’t really mind my fusspot males not eating; all the more for us tomorrow!

These proud mothers think chicks hatch from a cardboard box...

These proud mothers think chicks hatch from a cardboard box...

Everything comes to she who waits…

February 23, 2009

I popped into the Tip this morning to see whether any sewing machines had come in over the weekend; with the economic downturn, the flood of old beauties has slowed to a trickle as people begin to realise that they may actually still be useful. Lee greeted me with, “I’ve found something for you! Look behind the Metal bin!” And there, to my great delight, was the exact size of grill needed to restore our firepit to full functionality. Not that we’ll be eating out in the garden for a few weeks, but as this season’s seeds start to go in, winter’s cool grey chill is starting to recede and there’s suddenly so much to look forward to, in the house, in the garden and out in our beautiful countryside…

Not that I’ve been idle in the dark evenings. I asked everyone to give me money for my birthday and Christmas presents, and put it towards a very secondhand Louet S20 spinning wheel, which has been helping me make a small dent in the huge pile of Freecycled fleeces in our porch. I’m rather pleased with the resulting yarn, though I’ve yet to put it to good use and actually make something with it. I’ve joined our local Spinners & Weavers Guild, as they do lots of other things I’m interested in too, like Kumihimo, rag rugs and felting. We’re experimenting with dyeing, both chemical and natural, as part of the girls’ educational adventures this term, and some of the shorter fibres are going into felt. So this is how I’ve spent some of my evenings this week:

 

Dorset Down fleece with Dorset Featherstitching...

Dorset Down fleece with Dorset Featherstitching...

They’re made from felted Dorset Down fleece, lined with leftover polar fleece, soled with suede from the Scrapstore and stitched, firstly by machine on a rescued “Light Industrial” Singer 15 from 1895 using Scrapstore upholstery thread, then Dorset Featherstitched by hand with hand-dyed thread recycled from a gone-wrong jewellery project. Didn’t cost a penny!