Woodland Wreath ( stashbust no 12) Update

Well, this is progressing VERY slowly. I have taken to going to a knit and natter group to try to set aside time to make sure I finish the UFOs. If anyone has been following this I started this in April 2014! You can see the stages up till now if you search ‘woodland wreath’ link. This is a free pattern from Frankies Knitted Stuff on Ravelry…although she requests a donation for charity. I have now done the toad stools and have started some hedgehogs!

Strawberries and cream afghan..from sheeps back to completion, at last!

This was made with the wool dyed with cochineal in the summer. My spinning had improved quite a bit since then. Its rather small, but quite adequate as a lap afghan, and surprisingly warm. Memo to myself – block squares prior to sewing up. That said, it did even out quite a bit later on. This is for all those people out there who get demoralised by only ever see perfection on the Net!

Hilary’s stepping stone.

Last year I made a stepping stone of two fish using mesh, but it didnt work out very well. The mesh meant that it didnt get enough attachment to the cement, so stones worked lose. That was a shame, but you live and learn. This meant I had to replace it.

Every day I have been putting out food for Cassidy. He is the local stray cat, who has a bad back leg. He gets the sympathy vote as he hobbles along. My lifes ambition was to catch Cassidy and socialise him. However my cat Bella had other ideas. I then discovered that Cassidy has a buffet lunch every day as he wandered around several houses, where he is also known as George, Tinker and God knows what else. Not only that but he was fussy with his food, excuse me! I couldnt work out which cat was eating the food until I nearly trod on a hedgehog on the doorstep one night. The dry cat food was being munched away. I decided to call the hedgehog Hilary, as I had no idea of its sex.  then discovered that Hilary was also doing the rounds! This has to be one of the better places to be an animal.

Hilary should be hibernating soon. S/he has made a nest in ‘the house opposites’ garden.

So here is a stepping stone I have dedicated to Hilary. I had to do it quickly as I have been so busy this summer and needed to get it done before the weather turned.  I am somewhat worried as to how any of my mosaics will survive the winter. I heard on the news the the Siberian something or the other Swan had been spotted, and the last time it was seen this early was 1964! Mere mention of the winter of 1964 struck fear into me heart! I was only twelve, but we were off school for weeks as the toilets froze inside the school. Temperatures were minus thirty and the sea froze for a mile . It is imprinted on my memory. We are simply not geared up for that kind of weather in this country. In those days we didn’t even have any central heating and only single glazed sash windows. I remember scratching ice off from the inside of my bedroom. However, it cannot have been as grim as the winter of 1947, the previous big freeze, in those days people still had coal and food on rationing! People were told to share their lounges in rotation to keep warm.

I do hope Hilary will be alright.

Hopefully she will have fattened up on the food I and (undoubtedly countless) others have been giving her.

Copper Sulphate and frustration with Internet claims!

I am trying to produce Copper Sulphate and am getting increasingly irritated by some claims on the Internet, including one woman who posted that ‘her liquid went bright blue instantly’! I fail to see why a chemical reaction should occur more quickly in some places than others.       (Even Jenny Dean, the doyenne of natural dyeing, says it takes 7 – 10 days.)  In order to get this amazing response she had taken some copper pennies, and put it in water , ‘with a dash of vinegar’ ! Up goes a pic of a brilliant turquoise! Similarly regrowing spring onion roots did not mean ‘I need never buy them again’-  in fact I found sticking them in water more effective for keeping them alive and simply cut the tops of when I want some. My succulent wreath was not ‘covered in a fortnight’ either. Even accounting for climate difference it appears that plants grow like the Triffids in some quarters. I put my wreath in the sunniest part of a south facing garden and feed it regularly, it IS showing signs of growth but no, it was not ‘covered in a fortnight’ as some sites would have you believe. Yes, I have taken into account all of the variables, but none of them would account for such amazing differences in performance.  Now come on, lets be realistic shall we?

This is day three of the Copper Sulphate production…..I will post up some REALISTIC results. For the record, Dean recommends 50% water and 50% white vinegar…quite how the blogger got such amazing results with a weaker solution is beyond me, particularly as the pennies shown contain less copper!

Stained Glass Offcuts Patio Set – Stashbust project Number 22

OK, as I was kindly given the off cuts from a stained glass maker I decided to use them up on this patio set. I was given it from Freecycle, in somewhat grotty condition. One of the chairs was broken, it was rusty and the previous lady had tried removing the terracotta tiles, leaving a broken and uneven surface. I was up against time with this project, as I have had two weddings to cope with, and it has not been a good summer.It needed to be done quickly before the weather set in and I didn’t want it left till next year. Therefore I had to rush out and do a bit here and there whenever I was free and the sun came out!   (which isn’t very often in the UK!)

DSC_0049 DSC_0050

The first thing I had to deal with was the broken chair. The pin had broken and got wedged, and there was no way I would be strong enough to take it out and re pin it. It took it to our local ironmongers who said they couldn’t do it, and the suggestion was a blacksmith! Now I can’t afford a blacksmith, and all I wanted was the pin removed and a new one put in. I took it to my son in law who owns a building firm and he did it in a few minutes! You just needed the right equipment! The set is caste iron and I can barely move the chairs, never mind the table. The next step was to spray paint the metal. I decided that brush painting it was too fiddly and time consuming. I removed the worst of the rust first and bought a black metal spray paint.

The next problem I hit was the fact that the surface was now uneven, so I concreted the top ( son in law grumbled it should by so many millimetres thick, it was too late by the time I found out, I had just levelled it off! This was the hardest part for me, I am not a concrete person!

DSC_0116 DSC_0117

The chairs did not need levelling, so I felt I was over the worst!

Over the year I had periodically tumbled some of the off cuts to smooth the edges. I now had to rearrange and recut some o they would fit the table. I stuck the glass down with PVA glue after much deliberation on the best glue to use. Previously, when I had used PVA under glass it had dried in a puddle which could be seen. What I did learn doing this, however was to leave the glass for at least a week, as I could see that it wasn’t dry underneath. I couldn’t see that with opaque mosaics. I learnt from this to leave the tiles MUCH longer than I have done in the past before grouting. It did eventually dry clear and I had none of the issues with tiles coming off that I usually have when I grout.

The next job was tiling the chairs. I realised I would see the terracotta tiles would show through the glass, so I tried spray painting the seats with the same black metal paint. However this didn’t work, as when the light shone through the glass it looked a different colour with the backdrop. Going back to the drawing board, I went to get some concrete coloured paint – baulked at the price, I only needed a small amount – so instead mixed some outdoor white paint with black acrylic to get an approximate grey. This was then painted on! The next stage was to attach the tiles as before.

After that came the grouting – I chose commercial black grout, that wasn’t too bad, just a lot of elbow grease to remove the grout haze and polish it up. I had included some glass I had frosted as an experiment, but on average the clear glass looked better and was easier to clean.

Finally…all that was left to do was the paint around the sides to mask the edges of the grout and provide continuity. I sanded down any rough patches first and cheated by spraying the paint on with a mask over the top and back. The odd bit of touch up and voila!

IMG-20150920-WA0000 IMG-20150920-WA0001

I estimate the total cost for this project was under £20 ( $ US 30 ) The main cost was the metal paint, some makes were very expensive and I shopped around. I anticipate having to respray it every year in our climate, and I have even splashed out on a cover the protect it from our great British weather! The only issue I have now is finding any time ( and sun)  to sit down and use it!  I also have to tidy up my patio before winter sets in! I will power wash it next spring. The woman who helps with my garden suggested doing a matching mirror as a backdrop! It wont be this year, that’s for sure!

Easy Peasy One Skein Colinette Giotto Scarf- Stashbust number 21 -free pattern

I had to run up a scarf quickly for my daughters wedding, both daughters got married within three weeks of each other! I was wearing a Lagenlook dress and just wanted something for the neckline. This pattern is versatile, you can increase it width ways and have a shorter scarf , or you can omit the fringe. If you are doing a fringe I suggest you set aside enough yarn early on so you can then knit without worrying about it.I usually measure how much yarn it takes to do the fringe right at the beginning and then double the amount. In this case I made the fringe alternatively short and long, to reflect the Lagenlook effect. This is a very versatile pattern. I used size 6.5 mm needles.

Yarn –  Colinette Giotto I hank.

Tension – Not important.

Cast on 15 knitways ( can be varied)

Rows 1-2 Knit.

Row 3 Purl one .( Wrap yarn twice round right Hand needle purlwise, purl one) to end

Row 4 Knit one.( Slip two loops off of needle and knit next stitch) , repeat to end .

Row 5 Rep row 3.

Row 6 Rep row 4

Rows 7 -10 Knit .

Repeat pattern rows 3-10 to desired length.

Add fringe if wanted.DSC_0005

Blankets for Kitty Cats -Stashbust project number 20


Good Lord. I was at the Cats Protection Garden Party when somehow or the other I ended up being persuaded to crochet some blankets for sale. It seems the crochet ones are more popular  than knitted ones. I was puzzled by the fact that apparently there is only 1 person who could crochet! As I have a thousand balls of yarn upstairs I really had no grounds for refusing….however I did reflect on my fate. Here I was, a granny, in my retirement crochet blankets for cats! How did it ever come to this! I have been churning them out for the Christmas Fair, which of course occurs in October!