Sunday, 29 July 2012

Wot I Did At the Weekend

Scaffolding and the gaps down through
I have spent the weekend up scaffolding painting barge boards.  I have never been good at heights and now know that I suffer from vertigo.  If I am not holding on to a ladder or scaffold pole, then I start to sway.  This has slight disadvantages when you are trying to paint woodwork.  I'm only 5ft 2 and so can't reach stuff without having to let go at some point.  I have spent more time this weekend whimpering quietly to myself than I have in the whole of my life.
Aerial view of the compost bin and the rhubarb - and the rubble
I used to grow sweet peas here
There was also the saga of the paint that turned out to be the wrong colour, so that we had to start again.  It was called Green Glade, but as the Man Who Can said, it was more like the colour that Eastern European countries paint their military vehicles.
And then there was the thunderstorm when I was up the scaffolding, for once feeling fairly safe sitting down, quietly painting.  Flash of lightening - rumble of thunder nearby - scramble to stand up without wrenching my tricksy knee -  retire down (wet) ladder holding pot of paint - trying not to panic and move more quickly than the vertigo allows.

There's only one more coat to go and then I am never, ever going up there again.
Close-up shot of the early eighteenth century traditional farmhouse style gable we didn't know we had

Friday, 27 July 2012

And still more reading

Relic of the days of coach travel
Milestone on the old road between Salisbury and Marlborough, now only a track
There's a fair bit of coach travel in Sense and Sensibility

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
About the Movers and Shakers of the French Revolution and how the movement began to destroy itself.  A huge book, meticulously researched and then developed into a detailed fictional account.  It is an extraordinary work of the imagination.   A challenging read, but worthwhile.  Hilary Mantel went on to write her masterpiece, Wolf Hall.

The Garden Cottage Diaries - My Year in the Eighteenth Century by Fiona J Houston published 2009
An account of the author's undertaking to live for a year as a Scotswoman would have lived at the end of the eighteenth century in a small cottage.  There are some lovely photos and interesting recipes.  What is striking is how much effort was involved in achieving even the basic necessities of life.  Fiona Houston appears to have been a very hardy and resourceful person.  I don't think I could have withstood the cold and damp and even she admits to being worn down by it.

Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
I enjoyed this so much.  Got very annoyed with Marianne for her self indulgence, but remembered that really, she's only a teenager.  Couldn't really believe that Elinor would begin to forgive the dreadful Willoughby, who however good looking was simply a cad to lead poor Marianne on like that and would be a cad in any century.  As for the Steele sisters - we've all met 'em.  And kept remembering Alan Rickman in the Emma Thompson film adaptation playing Colonel Brandon, dressed in country clothes walking alone and morose along a pontoon on the river in dappling sunlight with a fishing rod and followed by his dog.  Sexiest thing I ever saw.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

La Mer

Vintage button for 'La Mer'
To celebrate the fact that the sun seems finally to have come out (at least for a few days) I seem to have embarked on a series of holiday themed bags.  This one is 'La Mer' in garter rib stitch.

That golden tinge you're getting in the picture is not a roaring fire, but sunset shining through my sewing room window.

'La Mer' has a circular handle wrapped with yarn

Sunday, 22 July 2012

La Plage

It's called 'La Plage'
A pleasurable make, this design for a striped moss stitch bag originated as an exercise for a knit workshop. I have developed it a bit since then.  It's made in three shades of cotton yarn and lined.  It has a crochet chain handle using six strands of the yarn for strength.  The top of the bag is reinforced with strips of plastic so that it holds its shape when it's being carried.  

The colour of wet rocks
And the button - from my vintage collection. That's not a reflection of the stripe.  It really does have a marbled pink stripe running through it that matches the yarn.  It's that sort of thing that makes my life complete.

Of course, ideally I would have pictured it on a sandy beach with appropriate props.  Sandy beaches a bit scarce in Wiltshire.  Maybe I should start a 'Stonehenge' line.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Never Mind the Sweater, What About the Hair?

Those were the days
I went to our local summer fete a couple of weekends ago.  It rained so hard it hurt.  A few hardy souls turned out and under one gazebo there was a lady selling old knitting patterns and needles.  This was one of the gems.  The sweater is a very nice lacy affair(in dralon and nylon - lovely.  Perhaps that accounts for the hair.  There must have been a fair bit of static flying about.

I don't remember seeing patterns from this manufacturer before and shall look out for more.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Just Playin' Around

It's gloomy outside, but lovely here
I'm in my sewing room playing with lots of pretty things at the moment.  So many ideas, just one pair of hands.

The Man Who Can set up my sewing room when we first moved in here on the strength that it would keep me quiet and I wouldn't ask for more.  He was pretty much right.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Finding Closure

Visigoth Bronze Buckle
Photographed some time ago - at the V&A I think
I'm making bags at the moment and there is always this challenge about handles and closures.  Quite often a lovely old vintage button does the trick and there are all sorts of ways to tackle the handle issue.  But how to make it look professional. That's the thing.  So I'm looking at all the various kinds of hardware - buckles, D rings, clasps.

You'd go a long way to beat the Visigoth design above.  Although I imagine the weight might be a bit of a problem.  This was designed for something fairly hefty.  The Visigoths sacked Rome in 410 AD and I expect they had a good party on the strength of that, but I doubt there was a lot of call for delicately embellished clutch bags.

Friday, 13 July 2012

This May Not Look Promising...

A wet wall
It may not look promising, but this was the wall of the dry dock where SS Great Britain is held.  The water seepage had stained the wall in dark blue and olive green and a salt lick of white against the grey.  I'd like to swatch this.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

My Favourite Things

In the Event of Fire...
I have lots of favourite things :

  • Books
  • Flowers and Herbs
  • Dogs and Cats
  • Pigs and Chickens
  • Land Rovers
  • Old knitting patterns
  • Costume jewellery
  • Buttons
  • Semolina
and ...

Old Citroen cars and vans

I saw this beautiful fire engine at a vintage show back in May when the world was bright, the sun shone and we thought there would be a summer.   Since then we have all acquired trench foot.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

My Feathered Friend

Just Deciding Whether to Jump onto That Branch
I'm always thinking about things that can be done just in garter stitch so that I can use them to teach people, especially children, to knit.  This is Morgan the Owl.  Morgan is afraid of heights.

On the Branch, but A Bit Panicky

Friday, 6 July 2012

Rather pleased with this one

Pretty in Pink
Although it caused me some anguish and I was up until 10pm trying to get the lining to fit properly I am rather pleased with this one.  It is cable fabric embellished with pearls.  Now that I have actually completed a couple of my own designs my head is full of different ideas.

The next thing I must do is build a light box so that I can photograph them more effectively.

I have called it The 'Alicia' Bag

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

It'll get worse before it gets better.

It'd better be worth it
The house has been covered in tarpaulins for a week and a half now and all the windows are blacked out.  It gets hosed down daily so the render doesn't dry too quickly, even though it doesn't really stop raining.  The front garden is a foot deep in detritus and the back garden isn't much better.  The Man Who Can, is taking the opportunity while the scaffolding is in place to repair one of the chimneys.  It's extremely windy up there and as I sit at the dining table I can hear him quietly swearing down the chimney as the mortar blows off his trowel.

On the up side we have found out all sorts of things about our house as we have pared back the layers.  There is a man sitting on scaffolding for hours on end hammering away as he repairs our cherished timber and brick infill gable.  All the chaps speak about it lovingly and in hushed tones and I get  frequent lectures on bricks, their sizes, ages and colours.  And we have found medieval great bricks in the oddments used to build the garden wall.  Apparently there are also some up the chimney.  We might never have known.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Don't know what it is...

I've been car booting.  Found this.  It's a pottery trapezoidal box with a hole in the top.  Maker's mark is Taylor and Tunnicliff and the design registration number suggests it dates from 1888.

I cannot figure out what it is, but clearly there was another bit to it.  I think it may be the base of some kind of lamp.  I just like it for it's oddness.