Home Alone

Like many resources, time is finite. We can’t make more of it, we can only use it better and not waste it.

And so, as Mr Snail disappeared off down the road yesterday afternoon, on his way to new adventures in Reading…

Bye-bye Mr Snail

Bye-bye Mr Snail

…I began to wonder what I was going to do with my week-day evenings for the next six months.

I know that it’s all too easy to feel sad about being alone and I don’t want to focus on the negative aspects of this time, so I have decided to make a list of all the things that I want to achieve… and we’ll see in March whether I have done any of them!

Well, to start off with, there are a few pressing activities that I need to complete:

  • I've made a few more squares

    I’ve made a few more squares

    Finish Mr Snail’s birthday slippers (late already, although the yarn only arrived last Friday and his birthday was on Saturday… more on this exciting yarn in a future post)

  •  Create lovely things for the Contented Crafter to add to her danglers (keep forgetting about this, but at least I have now decided what to make her)… it really does make sense if you are in the know, just ask Narf over at Serendipity Farm
  • Make another few squares for our fund-raising blankets, as there was a call put out for more just the other day (fortunately this is easy and I have already made a small pile of them)

And then there’s some of the on-going projects to continue with:

  • Continue to work on my sofa covers (this is a HUGE project)
  • Work on my tapestry cushion cover
  • Make more items to sell
  • Finish writing up the roosting pouch pattern (nearly done) and then test it

Plus I want to make a start on the Bavarian Crochet blanket that I bought yarn for at Wonderwool.

And that’s just the crafty things… there’s also gardening to continue with and lovely activities like choosing and ordering seeds. Plus, I need to make (yet) more soup for the freezer (there are STILL courgettes to be processed), and get on with apple processing (I’m coming over soon, Perkin!)

I find that it helps to write things down like this – it feels like I’ve made a commitment to each project… which is exactly why you don’t see ‘paint the hallway’, ‘shampoo the carpets’ and ‘tidy up’ on my lists!

So, I’ve taken over the sofa with yarn and Mr Snail will just have to squeeze in next to it at the weekends!

Heaps of yarny goodness

Heaps of yarny goodness

 

Flocking

Under the watchful gaze of Esmeralda…

The new flock is starting to get established

Unfortunately, Aliss has been a bit under the weather, but we are hoping that special meals of natural yoghurt plus a few doses of antibiotics will see her right. She’s spending most of her time with the others, but just occasionally, we put her on her own with a layer pellet/yoghurt mix so that no one else (Esme) will try to gobble it up first.

Special treatment for Aliss

Special treatment for Aliss

And, for the first time last night, they all slept together.

The Preservation Game

Because we have a seasonal climate, we are unable to produce crops steadily throughout the year: sometimes there’s loads and other times there’s very little to harvest from the garden. And so, we preserve… those courgettes that we are sick and tired of in August will be welcome in our hearty soup in December, when the days of glut are a distant memory.

So, this week I have been preparing for winter by stocking the freezer with soup –  carrot and courgette and mulligatawny (see pictures above) – and passata made from oven roasted tomatoes.

Now, I look in the freezer and can savour the prospect of all sorts of goodies through the winter:

And as soon as I can manage to collect a load of apples from Perkin, I will be bottling those like mad too.

L is for…

Mr Snail-of-happiness learned to knit so that he could contribute a square to My Masterpiece. Like everyone else, I asked him to write something to go with the picture of the square in my scrapbook. This is his contribution:

a special contribution

a special contribution

I’m just finishing off the scrapbook… photos to follow.

Open for business

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed a new link on the right hand side of the page… yes, my Folksy shop is open for business. It’s not fully stocked yet, but I thought I would make a start. So far there are just a few string bags (bling and otherwise) and a roosting pouch, but there is more to follow.

Listing is quite time consuming and I still have items to photograph, but at least it’s up and running. I would especially like to thank ItwasJudith who bought a rainbow string bag off me the other day and thus provided the seed funding to start the shop… she also reminded me about washing instructions!

Anyway, I’m feeling pleased to have made a start.

folksy

Stealth vegetables… and not so stealthy ones too

I’ve already bemoaned the sneaky courgettes that hide under leaves so that you only discover them after they have become monsters, but they are not the only devious vegetables in the garden. You would think that Boston squash, being bright yellow, would be easy to spot, but they aren’t always:

And green vegetables are even more of a challenge. We had completely overlooked this shark’s fin melon despite the fact that it’s hanging over our garden bench:


Some of our squashes are being more helpful, but they are the exception:

Out in the open

Out in the open

And I don’t even want to talk about the deceptive runner beans!

Jute the job

A while ago, I saw ‘roosting pouches’ for sale… little pockets of woven natural fibre that birds can use for shelter in the winter and may choose to nest in in the summer… and I thought ‘I could crochet something like that out of jute’. Jute is a natural fibre from plants in the genus Corchorus, which is related to the mallows. You probably know it best in Hessian or burlap. So, over the past few days, whilst stressful things are happening elsewhere in my life, I have been playing around with this idea. I started off with a weaver bird nest in mind:

"Weaver Nest" by Tu7uh - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Weaver_Nest.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Weaver_Nest.jpg

“Weaver Nest” by Tu7uh – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – click here for link

What I created on my first attempt was this:

First try

First try

It’s a bit wonky, but I thought it was a good start. However, I’m never going to be as skillful as a weaver bird, so my second attempt was more cylindrical, but came out rather larger than I had planned:

Second try

Second try

My third attempt is a better size, but the top was rather a fiddle to make:

Third try

Third try

Here are the first and second together so you can see the size difference:

Two and three together

Two and three together

And this is my latest:

Fourth try

Fourth try

I think it’s rather stylish and I’m sure a bird would consider it a good place to roost.  I think I will make some more for sale, plus I’m going to write up the pattern for #4 and sell that too… I couldn’t find anything similar currently available on Ravelry.

It turns out that jute is quite pleasant to work with – I thought it would be tough on my fingers but, in fact, it’s not too bad and I have worked with wools that are rougher. So, I’d better get to work on some for the shop…

 

Tiffany and Annagramma do some exploring

New hens are always nervous, so it’s best to give them time to get used to their surroundings and the folks who feed them. Most of the time Tiffany and Annagramma are remaining in a relatively small run with their own house. I don’t want to risk proper free-ranging yet as they are rather flighty and would be difficult to catch, but today I gave them a chance to move about a bit more in safety by putting them in the fruit cage. As it turned out, they enjoyed some fresh grass, but didn’t explore further than a few feet away from the gate… which made them very easy to catch when I wanted to return them to their usual run. Here they are, being regarded by the oldies:

The bluebell girls

Following the sudden demise of Perdy (one of our younger girls), we decided that we needed to boost our laying power and so yesterday I arranged to collect two new point-of-lay ladies from Pentwyn Poultry to join our flock:

The bluebell girls

The bluebell girls

They are a little shy at the moment, but I’m sure that they’ll soon get used to us. Being the new girls, I thought I should name them after a couple of the younger generation of Terry Prattchett’s witches, so they are Tiffany and Annagramma. Just as in the books, Esmeralda has been eying them up and making herself look big and important:

Don't mess with Esme!

Don’t mess with Esme!

Lorna and Aliss, not being responsible for the flock, have been ignoring the new arrivals. We’ll keep old and new separated by the mesh for a while until they get used to each other and since we still have the old wooden chicken house, they can sleep separately too for the time being. Last time we introduced newbies we tried to get them together too soon, but now we know better and we have the space to allow a gradual introduction.

Currently, my only problem is that I can’t tell the newbies apart… I’m sure they will distinguish themselves soon  though. And, since they are 19 weeks old, we should have eggs from them imminently. So I’ll just leave you with a few pictures:

A change of plan

For ages now I have been telling you that I’m going to set up an etsy shop; or, rather, that I’m going to stock the etsy shop that I set up last year. The time has finally arrived for me to start doing this, but… I’m not going to!

Rainbow bag

This will be in the shop

Prior to embarking on the work needed to create a good shop, I decided to do some reading round (here, for example) and as a result I discovered that etsy is no longer the platform it used to be. Originally (as I understand it), it was set up to act as a marketplace for craftspeople – a one-stop-shop on the internet where you could go to sell your lovingly-created items and where buyers would understand the ethos and value. Alas, this is no longer the case. You can now sell anything on etsy, even acting as a third-party seller for cheap mass-produced stuff. So, rather than a forum for crafters, we have another ebay just without the auctions. It appears that many genuine crafters have seen a significant drop in sales as a result because buyers are swamped with choices and find it difficult to distinguish between the origins of the different goods on offer as well as the discrepancy in prices.

A bowl of bath puffs!

There’ll be bath puffs too

I acknowledge that my products could be considered expensive when compared to what you can buy in the supermarket, but generally my buyers understand why this is… from the raw materials to the time taken to design and make the items on sale. I can’t compete with Superdrug on the price of a bath puff, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. So, I turned to Folksy – a British website specifically dedicated to handmade items. It has lower ‘footfall’ than etsy, but at least visitors will only be comparing like with like. Thus far I have set up the shop, but not stocked it. This weekend, I will be photographing my stock and hopefully there should be items for sale by next week… ooh it’s all rather exciting.

 

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