Three Things Thursday: 14 December 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, snow and no snow. Here on the west coast of Wales, because of the influence of the Gulf Stream, we rarely see snow, so it’s a novelty when it falls – as it did on Sunday. However, I only like it when I don’t have to go anywhere (as was the case on Sunday and Monday) and I’m generally pleased to see the back of it. So, it’s been a good week, because it arrived, stayed for a few days and now it’s all gone.

The hens were not impressed and mostly refused to venture out.

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Mags and Aliss were not keen

Second, being stuck indoors. The weather on Sunday kept me inside and it gave me the excuse to focus on sorting out parcels for some of my random acts of kindness (part of my 17 for 2017) as well as doing some sewing. Having not used my overlocker for several months it did take me ages to get it threaded and working at the right tension again, but it’s all systems go now.

Third, Sophie. I was too busy to post on my progress yesterday (I was doing some very short deadline editing); so, since she’s making me so happy, I thought I’d share my work today (not blocked, so a bit untidy).

I really like one section in particular – several rows of small stitches in different colours:

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simple but lovely

I’m thinking that I might use some of the left-over wool to make something in this style once Sophie is done.

 

So, that’s some of what’s making me happy this week. How about you?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Three Things Thursday: 7 December 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, new glasses. Suddenly, it’s much easier to read small print and see my crochet. How lucky I am to live in a country where we have ready access to opticians and the necessary technology .IMGP4747

Second, dream, plan, do. I’m planning to do some different things in 2018, including focusing on developing my creative endeavours as a business. So, I’m very happy that this creative planner from The Design Trust has arrived. I will be settling down with it very soon.IMGP4746

Third, helpful people. The internet is great, but sometimes speaking to a real person is better. A couple of phone calls this morning have set my mind at rest about an order that I knew I’d placed but wasn’t being listed in my online account and for which I hadn’t received an email confirmation. Apparently all is fine except, perhaps, the technology!

So, that’s some of what’s making me happy this week. How about you?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Working Wednesday #11

This is my weekly post as I work through the yarn in my “collection” (not stash – thank you Sue). This week there has only been Sophie:

I’ve completed round 76, which means I’ve got 37 more to do (I originally thought there were more than 120, but unless I want to make it bigger, it’s actually 113). I’m determined to get it finished before the end of the year.

So, that’s my progress this week. What have you been up to?

 

A Peachy Project

As regular readers know, two and a half years ago we had the limery built – a growing space attached to the house and used to grow limes, as well as lots of other food and decorative plants. It has been a delight in the past year to hear about the progress of a similar project from my friend Ann. I thought, therefore, that you too might enjoy reading about it.

I first encountered Ann through permaculture activities (in fact I met her on-line ages before I finally got to meet her in person). She approached her project from a clear permaculture design perspective as it’s part of the set of her designs for her permaculture diploma portfolio. Ann and her partner Steve are mediaeval re-enactors and have lots of gear that they use when they go to re-enactment events, including this beautiful tent, which is big enough to accommodate a wooden-framed double bed in the “back room” and still provide living and work space at the front:

'17 Haddon Hall-20

now, that’s a tent

Anyway. I thought you’d enjoy hearing from Ann about it all, so over to her…

The Story of the Peach House

So we needed more space. Ideally some way that did not involve lumping heavy re-enactment gear up and down stairs every month (we’re not getting any younger), and that would give added benefits.

As part of my Diploma in Applied Permaculture I am steadily working my way through 10 designs to show that I understand it all. One of these designs looks at our whole system – house, garden, hobbies etc. This uncovered various functions that we would like to be filled. We needed somewhere to grow peppers and a nectarine (the greenhouse is rather cold). Somewhere close by to store a bit of extra wood for the wood burner, an undercover clothes drying space, somewhere nice to sit on a sunny day are on our wish list, to name but a few.

Various options (elements) were listed for the functions needed.2017-12-05 (3)

Our first thought was an extension on the side of the house incorporating a porch linked to the front door, as this would answer most of our needs. However, the first builder we asked directed us to local building regs that would most likely prevent us building to our boundary, or forward of the front line of the house, which meant that joining a porch to the extension would not be possible. Yes we could apply for planning permission, but there were other issues with the boundary and stability of the ground so we reluctantly abandoned that idea.

We then used another tool used in Permaculture designs, a PNI (Positive, Negative & Interesting) to look at the alternatives. Then using one of my favourite tools, McHarg’s Exclusion*, to eliminate the ones that would not work for us.2017-12-05 (4)

We are now the proud owners of the smallest and cutest little conservatory that our lovely builder Spencer has ever built. BTW, this is a different builder to the one mentioned above, who wasn’t at all interested in building the conservatory for us as he felt we would regret it. Eh? Not his problem!!! And no, we don’t regret it, it’s a lovely space.

Peach House

The Peach House. Named by the lovely Snail of Happiness. We don’t have limes, but did have a nectarine – hence ‘The Peach House’. Sadly said nectarine has since died, but the name has stuck.

So here it is. Office, craft room, green house (extends food growing and somewhere for tender plants over winter), wood store, clothes drying space, re-enactment gear store (that also performs as shelf space), bird and hoggie food store, relaxation space, insulation for patio and back doors, extra security, adds value to house.

An added bonus is that in the summer heat it shields the patio door like sunglasses (special glass in the roof) so the lounge is kept cooler with all the doors open. Previously we had to choose – if we wanted the breeze when the curtains had to be open. That let the sun in too! Now we can have the doors and curtains open! Sorted!

Eco choices

Yes, we would have loved wood. The best wood is, I gather, accoya, a sustainable wood that has been impregnated with chemicals to stop it rotting. Made into conservatories in Poland (in the case of the supplier we approached). So overall not really that much better than UK made PVC. In the end we chose PVC as wood would have stretched our budget too far.

However we did choose local trades people and a local window manufacturer.

We couldn’t have recycled materials for various reasons, so did our best to recycle the waste.

  • The displaced slabs were used in a customer’s garden.
  • The vent pipes under floor was left over guttering.
  • We save all the water
  • The skip on the drive – Spencer put things in it and we kept taking them out!
  • We saved – sand, gravel, half a bag cement, old block pavers, nicely algaed ridge tiles, some slate, 2 garden gates, half a fence panel, oddments of wood and an interesting looking cast iron gutter hopper.
  • Any left over cement went onto a path we want raising up, so it wasn’t wasted.
  • Tiles for the floor came off ebay.

One last thing. We kept finding these….

Spencer….

Spencer was here…..

-oOo-

* Sue over at Going Batty in Wales wrote an interesting post about using this approach to decide on her new flooring.

17 for 2017 – November Update

November has been very quiet with respect to 17 for 2017. Here’s progress so far:

These were a real hit with Rachel who works in the Post Office

Seventeen… little random yarny/sewn gifts. Two this month and the remaining four all either done but not sent or in the planning stage.

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. This goal is complete.

Fifteen… cheeses.  This goal was completed in October.

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. None this  month, so the total is still six, but I think that a concerted effort soon will see this one achieved before the end of the year.

Thirteen… mends. Target reached in May.

Twelve… letters to friends. Target reached in June.

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. Complete and more than exceeded now that I’ve got into the habit of doing this. And I’m delighted to say that sales are slowly increasing too.

Ten... plants given to good homes. Target reached in May.

Nine… we don’t talk about nine

Eight… meals using only our own produce. Target reached in September.

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. Target reached in September

What do you think, Sam?

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. One pair completed this month and the final pair well on it’s way.

Five… book chapters written. None yet, but I have a plan for next year.

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. Target reached in February.

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. Still two. I’ve spent time sorting more things out and now all the glassware is in the new cupboard in the kitchen and sorted, so I consider this one achieved.

Two… patterns published and on sale. I failed to get on with the second pattern again this month, so still just one.

 One… gardening apron. Completed in April.
 So that’s it for now. If you have a 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

Winning ways

Thank you to everyone who commented here on the blog or Facebook or Twitter in response to my 1001 posts post. I turned off commenting this morning, wrote everyone’s name on a piece of paper, cut them out put them all into a (hand felted) bag

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note the use of an old diary for the paper… nothing wasted here!

Then I drew out two.

 

So, the winners are …. drum roll please…

Linne

and

MagsIMGP4697

Congratulations!

If you would each like to send me your postal address, I will send you a surprise… once I’ve chosen/made something that I think you will really like.

Thank you to everyone else who commented… I’d really like to send you all a gift, but there are only so many hours in the day!

 

an itsy bitsy update

Following on from my musings on microfibre pollution the other day I have taken action (well, you know me, I don’t hang around) and I’ve done a bit more research.

First, the action. As I mentioned in the comments on my original post, a Twitter friend pointed me in the direction of some resources and information, leading me to the Guppyfriend washing bag. Sending all our manmade fibre garments to be recycled (even assuming that is possible) is probably not the most environmentally friendly option until they are actually unusable, so for the time being we need to maintain them whilst doing as little harm as possible. Reducing the shedding of microfibres when we do our laundry can be achieved by washing at low temperatures, using liquid detergent rather than powder, filling the washing machine (to reduce friction) and washing garments made of synthetic fibres less frequently. I do all of these already, so the other easily achievable action is to install a filter. I wanted a quick fix that avoided any plumbing (at least for the time being) and the best option seemed to be to buy a Guppyfriend – a monofibre polydamide laundry bag that you put synthetics into in the washing machine. The bag catches the fibres, which can be cleaned from it and disposed of appropriately (whatever that is) and when it reaches the end of its life, it can be recycled (once the zip is removed). I bought two – I will report back once I’ve used them.

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Guppyfriends

The other thing I did was a spot of research. I have been wondering for a while about whether the fibres from rayon are problematic. In case you don’t know, rayon is a manmade fibre, but made from plant material (cellulose) rather than petrochemicals. For example, viscose is a sort of rayon made from wood pulp; Tencel is a sort of rayon made from eucalyptus wood; bamboo fabric is a sort of rayon (unless it is referred to as bamboo linen, in which case it’s woven directly from the natural fibres). There are all sorts of issues associated with the chemical processes required to create these products (with the exception of Tencel, which is produced in a closed loop system that avoids chemical pollution). However, my particular interest this week was microfibre pollution. I discovered that rayon fibres are biodegradable. Indeed, they break down at approximately the same rate as cotton, if not a bit quicker. However, they do seem to be included in the figures for microplastic pollution in the sea, so I’m still not sure how ‘bad’ they actually are in this respect.

When it comes to the worst culprits, however, cheaply made fabrics are a real problem as they are not designed to last (for this and many other reasons we should avoid ‘throw-away fashion’ at all costs). Shedding seems to increase, too, with age, so I think that there comes a point  (when, I’m not sure) when we should think about recycling or repurposing (I’m considering stuffing a dog bed with some of mine). I’m afraid that acrylic does not come out well in the analysis, so all that cheap knitting yarn is not just a problem because it’s a product of the petrochemical industry, it’s also shedding fibres and damaging our aquatic systems.  The time has come, wherever possible, to move back to natural fibres and to be very thoughtful about our use of synthetics.

oh, and before I go, just a reminder that there’s still a few hours left to leave a comment on by 1001st post to be entered into my little celebratory prize draw… I’ll turn commenting off tomorrow morning (Saturday 2 December) to give US readers a little extra time (originally I was going to call a halt at midnight tonight).Please don’t be shy – I really do want to send you a lovely gift!

 

Three Things Thursday: 30 November 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, a new book:IMGP4690

Second, warm water. The boiler broke down at the swimming pool last week. This resulted in one rather chilly swim and then the pool was closed. I’m pleased to say that it’s mended now and the temperature is back to normal. It makes me realise how brave Sarah Foto is with her sea swimming from her home on Hönö Island… check out this post to see what I mean (oh and her photos are sure to make you smile).

Third, mending. I have finally overcome my aversion to darning, and spent a happy hour or so yesterday mending socks. I did curse the poor quality variegated wool (sold as sock wool, but really not suitable) in the blue socks, but was very happy that the plain turquoise yarn from WYS has done so well in the heels and for mending. The mauve is also from WYS and I thought it would be fun to use it to mend both the coloured area and the black of the ‘northern lights’ socks… I am increasingly happy with the idea of visible mending.IMGP4694So, that’s some of what’s making me happy this week. How about you?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Working Wednesday #10

This is my weekly post as I work through the yarn in my “collection” (not stash – thank you Sue). This week there has been a little sock knitting; mostly undertaken in waiting rooms – dentist and optician.

Very slow progress on this

There’s also been another breast prosthesis – this combines knitting and crochet and I’ve used some organic cotton yarn that was given to me, I think, by ItwasJudith (thank you G.) over at Wee Story Book.

So much more comfortable than silicone

But mainly it’s been Sophie. She’s getting bigger and there’s now a row of flowers with leaves, plus the big flowers are nearly done on the “short sides” (which will soon be longer than the “long sides”, but that’s the terminology used in the pattern). I have not yet completed half of the rounds, so there’s load more work to do yet.

So, that’s my progress this week. What have you been up to?

And finally, please do take a moment to leave a comment on my 1001 post before the end of Friday (1 December 2017) so you can be entered into my give-away draw… no specific prize, it will be something tailored to you personally if I know you (come on regular posters, don’t be shy) or something that I think will make you smile if I don’t really know you (new readers also don’t be shy – random acts of kindness are especially rewarding when you don’t know the recipient).

 

1001

One thousand and one – That’s now many stories Scheherazade told and, with this post, that’s how many I have told you. Do you think they have been interesting enough for Shahryār to keep me alive?

I’m not sure whether Scheherazade kept telling her tales after the 1001, but I plan to, although I’m having a bit of a think about how I want to go forward with my blogging. There are going to be changes in the new year, but more on that next month.cheers

For now, it’s time to have a celebration… and I have a plan. I’d love to invite you all round for some fizz and home made cheese, but sadly we can’t all fit in the limery and I’m sure getting a date when everyone was free would be just impossible… although I still have 3.7kg of cheese to eat! So instead I’ve decided to do a give away. I spent ages racking my brain about what to offer you lovely readers, but I simply couldn’t think of something that everyone would want. So, here’s the deal… leave a comment on this post (or on my Facebook page or Twitter account) by midnight GMT on Friday 1 December 2017, telling me something that will make me smile, and I’ll enter you into my draw. I will pick two people at random and send each a gift I think they would like. Many of you I know reasonably well from your comments or blogs and so you have a chance of getting something tailored to you; if I don’t know much about you, you’ll get something I think will bring a smile to your face. This is open to you wherever you live in the world.

Thank you for keeping on reading and for all the comments over the last 1000 + 1 posts, here’s to 1000 more!

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