clean sweep

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I started this blog in order to be transparent about our decluttering journey.  That was six years ago.  We have a lot less unnecessary stuff now than we did then and are quite a lot better about what we let across our threshold in the first place.  But one area where I have always had a problem is my studio.

It doesn’t usually look like this!  This is the “I have pulled everything out and now need to sort it” photo.  Which is the method that works best for me – get it out, sort it.  I know it doesn’t work for everyone but each to their own and if I had to give advice I would counsel choosing one area (a room, a cupboard, a drawer – the size doesn’t matter) and emptying it all out.  It does look a mess, it may seem insurmountable, but seeing it all in one place both shocks you into action and, strange as it may seem, is easier and quicker to address than pulling out items one by one and considering them individually.  You can make sweeping sorting decisions and then tackle each pile in more detail.  Also when you see it all in one place it is easier to spot multiple duplicates and far easier to let go of the ones you don’t need.

But back to craft rooms/studios/cupboards.  For me this is always an area of rapid accumulation because I can always justify keeping fabric oddments, clothes that are past repairing but the fabric is gorgeous, yarn ends etc. because I may be able to use them in a project later and hey I am upcycling/reusing so that’s good isn’t it?  No it isn’t because nine times out of ten those oddments never do get used by me.  They (a) take up space  and (b) could be taken by somebody who actually will use them.

Taking up space: my kist was full of fabric and yarn.  Not only was it a nightmare trying to find something I knew was in there, half the time I didn’t know what was in there.  I found both distressing and stressful and made me feel terribly guilty.

Somebody else will use them:  I hope that the people who did take them (via Freegle) will use the yarn and fabric and it won’t just fill up one of their cupboards, but I can’t police that.  I hope that somebody gets some pleasure out of them, I hope that they find a new life and new use and are appreciated.

A couple of samples of the oddments that went to new homes.

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Everything from cashmere to acrylic.  Including several balls from the same dye batch.

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Hi-Vis to Harris Tweed.

My kist is now half as full.  I know what is in there and am shocked by how much yarn I have accumulated and didn’t really know about because it was buried under bags of stuff .  I went to a wonderful wool festival last weekend and had a fabulous time admiring the indie dyed yarn and batts.  I attended two extremely good workshops and had a fun time with friends at the evening event, but I bought nothing.  I have started to allocate my yarn stash to specific projects and not only do I not need any  more yarn, actually I don’t want any.  I want to use and appreciate what I have first.

My studio now

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Finally fired up by success in my studio I spent a day whizzing around the house and removing the stuff that had been in my eyeline for departure for far too long.  My friend’s charity is very pleased to have received all this, and my house is breathing a little more easily now.

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Love Gillie x

 

 

vital mending

I have a couple of free days, days where all I actually HAVE to do are the usual minutiae of life, no appointments, no deadlines.  Perfect for spinning or knitting.

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Only it’s not.  It’s too hot to be playing with wool, and I am not knitting with this on my lap.

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I’m not complaining about the weather (well I was when I was stuck in my daughter’s car for over an hour, no idea how to get home,  with no air con, no map (who doesn’t have a map in their car) and no phone charger, so no google maps either).  I was complaining about a lot then.

I have been doing a spot of decluttering over the past week (stay with me, there is a sequitur).  Finally, those irritating things around the house have tipped me over the edge and they are all allocated to new homes (divided between the local Clothing bank and a friend who runs charity sales every week – she ought to be on the route to canonisation if you are reading this up there!)   Even our old fridge (working but surplus to requirements), a duvet, some linen and a memory foam mattress went somewhere where they will be appreciated rather than snarled at as we pass by.

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Yesterday I decided it was time to face my studio, which is rather overstocked.  Part of the overstock is the pile of mending that has been waiting patiently for attention.  Top of the pile is a dress I made out of two dresses that no longer fitted.  It’s a summer dress, it’s cool (as in temperature, I wouldn’t dream of aspiring to social or fashion coolness) and perfect for the railway track melting temperatures we are currently experiencing.  Well it would be if I mended it.  So I did.

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Then I hemmed a pair of trousers, sewed on quite a lot of buttons, ran up a few seams and done!  I love the colours.  Now I have to wash and iron it all.

 

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I, like many of my generation, was fortunate enough to have been brought up in a family where mending was the norm.  There were times when my mother’s frugal ways mortified the arrogant youth in me.  Grating up soap heels to make new bars was something I don’t believe any of my friends did on a Saturday afternoon.  But guess what I still do it.

I’m not banging a new drum in saying that we have become a throwaway society, but we have done it at remarkable speed.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could become a mending society just as quickly.  Actually, it wouldn’t just be lovely …. it’s vital.

Love Gillie x

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.

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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

the upcycling cycle

I love social media, to be specific Facebook.  I quite like twitter and Whatsapp is great for group conversations but if I want to waste an hour without noticing then Facebook is the place for me.  I follow news outlets, political parties, craft groups and an upcycling group.

Upcycling- the new shopping.  Don’t buy something new, don’t throw away something old, upcycle it into something totally different.  It  ticks all the boxes for the eco-friendly.  You can create new, useful and beautiful objects from stuff that would otherwise go in o landfill, and at the same time you are not buying new and unnecessary stuff that will probably end up in landfill in a few years time anyway.  Perfect.

Or is it?  There are two types of upcycling projects.  The one where you find something lurking around the house and instead of chucking it out a light bulb goes off in your head and you say “wow this cracked decanter that hasn’t seen a bottle of wine in decades would make a perfect lampstand”.  Using my highly accurate survey methods (i.e. asking around, looking on social media and following a huge range of upcycling blogs etc) about 80% of potential crystal lampshades will remain as cracked decanters; 10% will get part way there and will metamorphose into decanterlamps that are missing vital parts and will never make the full transformation; 5% will be transformed but never switched on and will remain in the workroom/shed and a lucky 5% will shine bright on the table shaming every failed upcycler who comes into the room.

The second type of project is that created by the pro-active seeker upcycler.  This character scours markets, auction houses, freegle, swap and sale groups and second-hand  and charity shops actively looking for potential projects.  No three-legged chair is without potential and nirvana is a pile of pristine, unwanted pallets.  It is also not unheard of to purchase new (“what?!”) items purely in order to turn them into something else.  I will confess to  having fallen into that category.  Why buy something already made, when I can buy the constituent parts and make it myself.  We are not talking saving hundreds or even tens of pounds.  I suspect my rather lovely cake tin stand would have cost as much to purchase ready made as it did for me to make it (but it wouldn’t have wobbled quite as nicely as mine does).

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Returning to my highly tuned research methods I had assumed that these projects would have a higher success rate.  The people who take the the time to seek out the unpolished gem and part with hard earned cash for it are surely not going to let it languish unloved in a shed?  These are people who frequently sell their completed upcycles.  They have a vested financial interest in getting the job done.

Ladies and gentleman, we are all the same.  Whilst there are of course exceptions to every rule (and the standard deviation for my statistics here is probably in the region of +/- 2,500 or thereabouts!) the proactively sought and paid for projects stand just as much chance of making it to that final 5% as granny’s whisky decanter did.

As the build on the Barn and Gin Gan comes nearer to completion we have to move even more stuff out and rehouse it in our now smaller home.   The picture frame that I was going to turn into a gilt mirror, the china kept for mosaic work.  How long have I had them?  Have they magically transformed themselves in my absence?  Reader, they have gone.  Perhaps somebody else would like to house them in the vain hope that they might one day make a mosaic effect mirror?

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!.

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And today I found these inside it.

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  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.

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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!

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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!

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Love Gillie x