ladies in stitches

Every other Tuesday I get together with five other friends for a day of stitching, knitting, crochet and general chat.  We egg each other on with unfinished projects, teach each other new skills and put the world to rights over a mug of tea and a bowl of soup.  Today I was hosting.  It was perhaps not the ideal day for me to chose as the builders had come over to catch up on a few snagging jobs, our fabulous duo of cleaning ladies were wielding their magic and a massive translation job came in….

However, now that I have my own little studio we took our tray of tea and date and walnut loaf and left them to it.  I had intended to get on with the cardigan I am making my mother for Christmas, but on the grounds that I knit every evening I thought I could better use my time catching up on the unfinished bits and bobs.  Two hop pillows and eight lavender bags (using our own hops and lavender no less) it was time for my fellow ladies in stitches to head home.  But I was on a roll, I cast my eye around for something to do.

When we lived in the north of Scotland I accumulated a lot of tweed.  Not a little tweed, a LOT of tweed.  Enough tweed to, well let’s just say come the apocalypse we won’t be cold in our little hobbit hole.  There was one particular off cut from a suit that the Boss had made that was deliciously soft and had been winking at me for a while.

Et voila two cushions and a dinky little tea cosy for the tea pot for one that is currently without a cosy2017-11-21 17.09.53

All in all I reckon it took me about half an hour to make all three.  Dead easy,  I promise.

First cut a strip of material at least two and three quarter times as long as your cushion and wide enough to drape over the cushion to the tension you wish (ie do you want a loose or tight cover) plus a generous 3/4″ to 1″ seam allowance..

Hem the two short ends and wrap around the cushion.

2017-11-21 15.21.48

Mark with the pin where you want to run the side seams.  Remove the cushion, pin and sew side seams.  Turn right side out and the proverbial Bob is your uncle.

As for the tea cosy.  Two arcs of tweed, two arcs of liner (I used soft brushed cotton, an old sheet) and two arcs of interlining (you want to keep your tea warm after all don’t you?)  Make the tweed two inches longer at the bottom along the straight edge.

Sew tweed – interlining – lining together in that order and turn up the two inches of extra tweed at the bottom for a hem.  Repeat for the other side.  Turn right side to right side and sew two sides together.  Cut excess hem along the curved edge and turn right side out.  Bob’s your other uncle!

Love Gillie x

ten things I have learned about having a lousy internet connection

“High Speed Broadband has arrived”, not in this pocket of County Durham it hasn’t.  It may be all flash downloads and wall to wall Netflix a mile away in the village but in our own little notspot carrier pigeons were more reliable and considerably faster.  Not for us a weekend binge of box sets and Sky on Demand. Estimated download time for a single film was over 10 hours.  On a good day we could get 1 Mbps on a bad day it just ran out of juice.

When the bad days began to outnumber the good days and the only way we could send work to clients was to use a dongle and sit on the drive (under an umbrella if it was raining) we decided enough was enough and took our laptops to a coffee shop with decent wifi and did a bit of research.  We are now the proud owners of a mastband internet connection.  We can watch films, we can send work without sitting in the garden.  We have joined the 21st Century.

However if you are still in the internet dark ages, these are a few things I learned.

  1. Nothing is on paper anymore.  If you need to know what time your local Tesco Metro opens on a Sunday you are going to have to go out and stand outside until it opens and note down the time for next time.
  2. Telephone directories were quite useful not just as door stops but also, oddly enough,  for looking up telephone numbers
  3. Social media has too many photographs.  Photographs, videos and pictures take ages to download.  My FB newsfeed had been visually redacted.  Great blank squares all over it.
  4. If you haven’t recorded it you aren’t going to see it.  Catch up tv services were not an option. “Listen again” was but a dream for us.
  5. Your children will fail all their exams.  Or so they tell you.  It is apparently completely impossible to revise for A-Levels without a functioning internet.
  6. Your children will have no social life.  Or so they tell you.  Unless they can sit in bed and watch Netflix with their friends they are social pariahs.
  7. You will spend a lot of time on the  phone playing solitaire on your (unconnected) lap top listening to a recorded message saying “all our operators are busy at the moment but you can resolve your problem by going to our website.”  Oh no I can’t.
  8. You can’t join in any conversations about online grocery shopping.  See above about pictures and social media.  Supermarket websites have even more pictures.
  9. You can’t answer those nagging little questions like “Who’s that actress on the left of the guy who used to be in Eastender?” or cheat on the Saturday general knowledge crossword by looking up the answer to “who invented the bunsen burner?” (Robert Bunsen btw).
  10. You cannot have more than one tab open on your browser and don’t even think about sending a file by email when somebody else is trying to download something on another laptop.  Multitasking on line is a guaranteed way to bring the network to its knees.

IMG_3575

But now, I can listen to the Archers podcasts.    I have a Spotify account.  I watched the first series of Fortitude in a box set binge and I have discovered there are pictures on Facebook – and a lot of them are of cats!

Love Gillie x

cake tins and pin cushions

We are downsizing and blocking off the Barn and Gin Gan to make a 3 bedroom house to let.  We have a lot of floorspace that now the girls are growing up and leaving home we don’t really need, and with an old stonebuilt house like ours it costs a small fortune to upkeep and to heat so the extra income will be good too!

However, that means we have to move our decluttering up a notch.  The great post flood declutter of 2013-14 has made the job a whole lot easier, but there is still a lot of crap that needs to go.  Most of it is now going to the charity shops, but in the interest of reuse before recycle I found a little gem in the Reloved magazine this month by designer Kate Beavis.  I have added her link to the list on the right.

Ta Dah!

tin-tidy

 

I had a set of unused cake tins which with a combination of

  • 500mm x 10mm threaded rod
  • copper piping
  • 8 nuts
  • 8 large washers

I created a vertical desk tidy which I now used to keep essential sewing bits (scissors, chalk, pens, pin cushion etc.) bits and bobs related to work in progress and interesting little things I have found recently but haven’t decided what to do with yet.

The instructions say to use as large a washer as possible to give stability, particularly to the bottom tin.  I think I will replace the washer with a metal plate as it could do with a bit more support than even my large washer.

An afternoon’s work, though I suggest that you do it outside unless you want to drill through the kitchen table!

Love Gillie x

 

Repurpose challenge day three and four

Apologies for lack of post yesterday.  I hadn’t chickened out of the challenge, but I did get a call to ask if I was going to be at stitching.  Now faced with a day writing or a day knitting and chatting with friends I went to stitching instead.  This is the current (well one of several) work in progress.  I am a bit of a sucker for shaded yarn and this came from a gorgeous little yarn shop in Constanta in Romania.

IMG_2940

Back to business.  Yesterday’s challenge was to repurpose something from your recycling bin.  I hadn’t thought ahead here as Wednesday in bin day and my recycling bin was completely empty.  So this is a refresher course.  I have searched high and low for my photos and I was sure I had done a blog post on seed trays from cartons but they appear to have disappeared into the ether.  So as I have no seeds on the go at the moment you will have to do without pictures.  But it is very straightforward.

First take your fruit juice carton and lie it on its side with the pouring end towards you and the spout/hole on the right hand side.  Carefully cut out the side that is uppermost.  Bingo a small seed tray that stacks neatly on a greenhouse shelf or window sill and if you don’t need to reuse it, tear it up or shred it and pop it in the compost.

Another gardening repurpose is the plastic milk carton and tah dah!  The Hanging gardens of Brancepeth.

IMG_2600

Today’s challenge is something from the black hole.  My black hole is quite small now.  It is the kitchen basket and in theory is emptied once a week, well give or take!.

IMG_2937

 

And today I found these inside it.

IMG_2938

  1. Redeemed iTunes card.  This is now in the back of my wallet as my emergency de-icer.  It works very well, I always have it on me.  The last one I used was my co-op membership card but eventually the card disintegrated.  But it doesn’t matter if this one does.
  2. A bamboo skewer.  I have three daughters.  We all have long hair and my hair bobbles/pins etc. migrate into their rooms with startling regularity.  In the summer I prefer to have my hair up but often have to dig around to find who borrowed what.  I have just pinned my hair up with this.  As it is slightly bendy it is easy to weave in and out of the bun to hold it up.
  3. Old dog tag ring.  Now this was hard.  Until I looked up and noticed that my orchid needed some support.

IMG_2939

So what have you repurposed this week?

 

Love Gillie x

Repurpose challenge day two

Tuesday challenge:  Repurpose something you have made.  I am not short of things I have made.  I am unable to sit down in the evening and not have something to fiddle with.  Mostly I stick to knitting and crochet in the evenings, but handstitching, embroidery, tapestry all have their moments depending on my mood.IMG_2933

I got into free form knitting earlier this year (see here) The wall hanging still has pride of place on our newly painted walls but the cushion cover didn’t make the post redecoration cut.  I still love it but it doesn’t go with the room and I couldn’t bring myself to put it in the charity bag not least because it is an acquired taste and I wasn’t sure it would find somebody who loved it like I did!

IMG_2934

Recently two of our (five) cats have died.  They were old and each had a good life so I am not sad but I did have to get rid of one of the cat beds.  As she came to the end of her life Morley only left it to use the litter tray (which had to be placed by her bed) and to eat.  It was pretty horrid by the time she died and even a boil wash didn’t make it attractive to the three remaining felines.

So Tah Dah!  A new cat bed.  And as everyone, feline and canine has just been dewormed and defleaed I am hoping it stays bright and clean for a while!

IMG_2935

Love Gillie x

Repurpose before you Recycle

Thank you for all the lovely comments both here and on  my FB page.  It is good to hear from so many people who want to ditch plastic and other single use items.  So in the spirit of reusing before recycling I have a challenge for you this week.  A repurpose challenge.

IMG_2932

This morning I lost an old stained bamboo tee-shirt and acquired some dusters.  Very easy.  I cut up the tee-shirt and have a nice new set of lovely soft bamboo dusters.  The tee shirt wasn’t fit for charity but it wasn’t yet ready for composting.  Win win.

So my challenge for you this week, and I’ll try to do it too and let you know how I get on:

Monday:  Repurpose something you used to wear.  It could be clothing, jewellery, a scarf or a hair accessory, anything you used to wear.

Tuesday:  Repurpose something you made.  It could be last night’s leftovers or a three piece suit!  Please do not repurpose your children however irritating they are!

Wednesday: Repurpose something you have put out for recycling.  A plastic bottle, a jar, some envelopes.  Get creative in your recycling bin.

Thursday:  Repurpose something from your black hole.  We all have them, the place where we put things we don’t know what to do with but can’t quite bring ourselves to get rid of.  Some are as big as a garage or outbuilding.  Some are as small as a kitchen drawer.  You know yours, now go release something from it.

Friday:  Repurpose something that is broken.  If you can’t repair it can you turn it into something else

You get the weekend off!

Love Gillie

 

free form knitting

IMG_2479

I love knitting and crochet and sewing.  I’m not that brilliant at it but I enjoy it, even if the girls do sometimes raise their eyebrows as I start another tea cosy or cushion cover.  However, the downside is that I have bags and bags of yarn, the bits left over from a project that I can’t bring myself to throw away but are not enough to make anything on their own.

Then I discovered free form knitting.  I took a workshop with Alyson at The Woolly Workshop in free form knitting.  I was going to knit a picture.  This is sunset in Basse Terre Guadeloupe.  Deep red reflected on the sand at the bottom, golden sand, sea, the last strip of pink sunset and the moonlight breaking through dark clouds.

There is no pattern, no right or wrong way, just pick up and drop colours and change stitch to reflect the picture.  Perspective is gained by changing the size of the needles.

I had so much fun I made (another!) cushion cover.IMG_2509

A brilliant and fun way to use up all those little bits of yarn taking up space in your stash.

Love Gillie