Saturday, 6 September 2008

Why I love the internet................

Just had a couple of lightbulb moments, courtesy of the internet. What I love about the net is the endless possibilities of tangential inspiration. You start off looking into one thing, and end up miles awy from your origianl subject, via odd-bod blogs, strange sites, webcams, Youtube, e-bay, Amazon, forums and chat boards, suppliers links, all sorts. It really is a wonderful world out there, and most of it is on the net.
This morning, I started off looking at axes, trying to locate a specific one for a specific purpose. I have thus ended up with two new projects for this weekend - making honey vinegar, and making a wool yarn duster. I have a vinegar crock, I have lots of wool - bingo, on goes the lightbulb.

Didn't find an axe, though...............:)

Friday, 5 September 2008

Up along and down along..............I

These are some pictures of White Mill, near Sturminster Marshall, owned by the NT. We have driven by it several times over the past few months, but today we pulled in to the car park, ate our lunch, then got out and had a look around; what a lovely old building; I fell in love with the two dovecotes on the front - wonder if I could fit something like that in the garden? :) The mill race needs clearing out, and it would be wonderful to see it fully restored, but not sure if they are going to, will have to try and find out. Teh river is the Stour. Mill cottage sits beside it, partly built into one end of the mill itself, really interesting. The mill is open soem weekends, so we may well have a jaunt down and have a peep inside.This from the NT site: "Corn mill with original wooden machinery in a peaceful riverside setting
Contains original 18th-century elm and applewood machinery ." Certainly worth a visit. The picture of the roadway is the lane coming down towards the junction by the mill - a typical country lane around Dorset, one steeped in history and following the well-trodden path of hundreds of years, undoubtedly older.

Up along and down along..........II

As they say in Dorset; we came home via a circuitous route, ostensibly to try and get a photo of a National Trust property for the WI competition on Thursday. I don't expect to win, but thought it would be nice to support it and put an effort in. Our route took us through Cowgrove, a very ancient village on the Kingston lacey estate, just outside of Wimborne. The ancient atmosphere in that part of the world is palpable; it is little changed in hundreds of years apart from a few newwer houses up away from the road through. Very old duck pond and green, with the narrow road winding past it. The houses, farms and cottages are well -kept, as they are all NT properties. The one in the pictures is The Court House; I remember it being restored when we lived down that way - 11 years ago +, now. I remember the scaffolding enclosing it, the roof being restored and the hair and plaster going on - we went to have a look regularly to see how work was progressing. The thatched cottage beside it belongs to the dairy farm, the thatch coming down almost, but not quite , to ground level. A truly beautiful and unspoilt part of England, this; I would love to have seen it a couple of hundred years ago, but as I said, probably recognisable and little different to today.

Rainy Friday treasures............

Good evening from a very soggy Dorset! It's been raining here most of the day, both at home and down In Wimborne; back to the Friday market routine, which was nice after a break of a fortnight. Had breakfast in town, bought my stash of magazines, quick hurtle around the charity shops (saved 2 for next week!), then off down to the market. Lots of treasures for few pennies again. Two new skirts in the picture there for 3.00 - lovely quality crepe-y , both fully lined, one brand new with the tickets till on! The hearts brooch is a little piece of 1940s treasure from my vintage jewellery lady at the market; the lace trims came from my linen lady a couple of stalls down, at 1.00 per piece. I have a notion to tack them on my larder shelves after it's been cleaned out and tidied. The rosey plate was irresistable to me at the tip ( combined with a new loaf tin, lovely stainless steel, copper- bottomed steamer and pan, some bungs for my demi-johns and the rather interesting little wooden moneybox with spots on. Who needs new? :)

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Spiral scarf

I got the wool for this yesterday, and cast it on this morning - couldn't wait! It's an ingenious design by Judy Warde, in the lovely book Yarn Stash Wonders, which I borrowed from the library. There are many things in there I'll knit, I think. This wool is a Kaffe Fassett Rowan one, pure wool, very soft and warm, ideal for a scarf, and I think the colour grading sits well with the spiral design. Chuffed with this one. I now have to go and do all the housework I should have been doing whilst knitting this! :)

Or I might just cast on something else instead..................

Energy update

Electricity usage is one thing I am very hot on here, for a number of reasons. Some months back, I tried to persuade OH to change to all renewables for our elctricity; after humming and hawing for a while, I left it a couple of months, but lalst week, sat him down , had another go, and we finally got our application sent off to Good Energy
However, since we applied, their prices have risen by 16%; I was impressed by the letter that arrived on Tuesday, explaining the rise and by how much, etc, and giving us a week's cooling off period in case we didn't want to go with them after their price rise. I don't know the exact figures, but I think the 16% is favourable compared with other suppliers, some of which have risen more than 16% I think. I pick up these things on the news, etc, but am not good at retaining figures for long. However, the main thing for me is the fact that Good Energy supplies all of its electricity from renewable sources; it really has to be the way for us, even if it costs a little bit (or even a lot) more each month. If push comes to shove, then we will cut back elsewhere (oh no, not Amazon..........:0) ) So - we're going with Good Energy.
We use very little electricity, I think. In the kitchen, I am down to a fridge, a radio cassette (rarely used, so is moving out of there) and a blender. The blender's days are numbered when I find the insert to my Mouli, which I think should be lurking down the side of the washing machine - don't ask!! Yes, the washing machine, but I am working on that one; bedsheets would be hard work, as would towels, but not impossible by hand. The other issue ofcourse, with the machine, is the water usage; I use it as wisely as I can, and it empties straight into a butt otuside the back door; this shows just hwo much water is used for one wash, and is emptied on to the garden when and where needed. Lighting is three lights on the ceiling, two of which work independently according to where the light is required; one new lamp over the table after I moved it - quite often this is enough if I am sitting doing something at the table. All bulbs are energy saving ones.In the sitting room we have one small TV,DVD,video and computer/printer, one small lamp, one ceiling light. Not too bad upstairs, but TV in each of the children's rooms, plus game thingy in EJ's, computer (non net) in Bean's. One clock radio in our room, belonging to OH. I'd rather have a wind-up alarm clock, but I would miss the farming programmes on Radio 4 in the mornings.......:) Could live without them, though.
So far, quite pleased with the efforts we've made on the electricity front. I was going to buy a thing that shows yoru usage over the day, and what uses up the power, but I decided it was just another gadget, and we will watch the bills instead. The biggest drop in usage occurred when I got rid of the elctric kettle and toaster. Because the Rayburn is on all the time, we started to use that couple of years ago instead of these. I think it's a question of adapting and thinking hard about what you use, and how to fit the changes you want to make into your life without compromising the things most important to you and your family too much. However, I think that in the not too distant future, even a compromise may be a luxury. I am not convinced that alternative energy is the only answer in the long run; the answer is to CONSUME LESS; and consume less of everything, not just electricity. Think more, consume less, live better.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ends and beginnings.......

A momentous day here at The Deanery - Bean starts college this morning, she'll be getting off the bus about now. this is A Big Thing for both of us - she has been around all day every day (more or less) for the past 17 years, being home educated. She has been looking forward to it for so long, and I'm sure she won't be disappointed, and will give it all she's got. Looking forward to her coming home this evening to ehar all about it. I must learn to stop nagging about bus passes and money and ID cards.................:)

In the meantime, the onion hat is finished; I got it done last night whilst watching a very interesting programme about wreck divers in the Thames, bringing up all sorts of artefacts that revealed a lot about ordinary peoples' lives and work on the river. For me, much more interesting and relevant than grandeur and expensive treasures; more poignant to peep into the lives of those more like ourselves I feel. Anyhoo, here's the hat:

A large part of this afternoon will be spent sorting through my bookshelves - again! I really need to shed some, but it will be hard........ I reckon some 50+ will go; I'll see how close I am with that estimate by the end of the day.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Squaring the circle......

.... or should that be circling the square? I love knitting in the round. There is soemthing meditative about the round and roundness of it all. Hats are a favourite - lots of scope for originality, frivolity and using up odds and ends. This one is from the wool I dyed with onion skins last week, which has come out a lovely shade of gold. The wool was a couple of balls I got cheap ia charity shop, so should be enough for a nice hat. This time, I thought I'd knit with five needles for a change; I'm usually on four, with the three forming a triangle, and a fourth to knit with. Tthis way, I use a fifth needle to work with, working around a square, and when you finish off, the square turns into a round hat. I like knitting with a bit of magic in it :0)
Monday night is knitting night in the pub for our group the Vale Knitters. The pub has recently been taken over by a new tenant, who is still finding her feet a bit. However, she has installed two very comfy sofas, with another two to come, to make a nice "snug" area, which we are welcome to use on Monday evenings. We got complementary nuts too :0) So far, she's doing fine in my book, and might even bring her own knitting next week :)

Monday, 1 September 2008

Bag swap - my effort!

We are doing a cloth bag swap on Creatve Living at the moment, following on from our May campaign This is my effort. Made from a charity shop t-shirt, the type with spaghetti straps; fold in half the opposit way to usual, and seam along the bottom. Embellish as required, and there you go! Mine has a panel that says "Been there, done that, used to be the t-shirt......", and is decorated with buttons.

Post number 300.............

I don't half talk a lot, don't I? :0)

New crochet project

Far back in the mists of time, I saw a very beautiful crocheted cloth in a shop window; it was light green in the centre, surrounded by variegated pansies, finely crocheted in cotton, in just the right colours. I hankered after that cloth for years, and a while back was actually able to find the pattern on e-bay for a few pence. I had been collecting the crochet cotton for years in bits and pieces, but the colours required for this piece eluded me until recently. The lovely woman in the feed store where we get our animal feed had some in her loft, the result of a clearing out of a recently deceased relative. "Do you crochet? You look as if you do.........." was the comment as we paid for the mixed corn :) Some weeks later, several boxes of cottons appeared, mine for the taking:

The green and teh variegated yellow are in there, so I'll add in the pruple I acquired elsewhere. Couldn't resist starting last night, so ahve the first 3 rounds done, looking good so far, the green is such a pretty colour. This is the pattern, and hopefully soon I'll have my own pansy cloth too:


September - my favourite month of the year. The Anglo-Saxons called it Gerstmonath (barley month), with reference to the harvest of that crop, the main ingredient of their favourite beverage. Some of the celtic names of the month are also linked to the harvest, though less specifically: The Welsh "medi" means reaping, and the Scottish Gaelic "sultuine" means plenty.

The Morris Minor was launched by Morris Motors at Oxford on this day in 1928 -

Whilst growing up in Scotland, we had a light blue Traveller - frequently packed to the gunwhales with buckets, spades and picnics to go to the beach in, out bramble picking, just "for a run", into town, etc. I remember the "back space" where we sat when all teh seats were filled up! It was called Bonnet by my wee brother and that name stuck; it had a large dent in the right hand side of the rood at the back wehre a tile blew off the roof one winter and hit it on the way down. Mr Beverley our postman in the village then, had a Morris Minor van, in bright Post Office red, ofcourse. I love the distinctive noise of the engine, and the gentle, dignified pace that they demand to be driven at! If I did drive, the Traveller is the car I would have.

So - September. Month of our wedding anniversary - 19 years today. It always seems to have gone fast in hindsight, but happy with where we are now. The month of my birthday too, and several friends and relations, so card organising is a priority this month. Harvesting, pickling, jamming, planting,foraging, sowing and forward planning all underway too, plus thinking ahead towards winter now that autumn is here; livestock housing to repair and secure, beanpoles to take down, running repairs to the greenhouses, winter curtains and bedding to check over before they are pressed into use, alos winter clothing for us, earlier shutting up times for the ducks and chickens, darker evenings to sit and work inside, winter to plan for and look forward to. As ever, busy times. I love September.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

New dishcloths

Probably not the most exciting thing to knit, some might say, but I really enjoy knitting them, then using them! They are lovely little portable projects, can be done in a couple of hours, lovely to use, cheer up the kitchen, make washing up more of a pelasure and when done, can be put on the compost heap. Not much more could be asked of knitting, really, could it? The patterns are ones I have done several times, printed off the net and kept in a folder; I usually use bits and bobs from charity shops, boot sales, etc, but for these, I treated myself to some new yarn, caving in completely when I saw these three colours together on the shelves; reminiscent of summer gardens, sweet peas, fresh scents - lovely........

Top is a tulip bud motif cloth, in garter stitch; below is a lovely checky pattern in all three colours again; a simple slip stitch gives the check illusion, like gingham - very pretty.

Top one here is a simple cream snowdrop pattern; requires a bit more concentration, but interesting to knit up; below is a green doily cloth, comprising seven segments, knitted with the short row technique.