Thursday, 30 December 2010

Been poorly

We have both been very poorly over the Christmas period. This is the first day I have had enough energy to write anything. We didn't go down  to Sarah's on Christmas Day as we were too ill. All we did all day was watch TV. I cooked a roast dinner in the evening and that was it. I had hardly eaten since the previous Tuesday. I spent most of 3 days in bed while Phil fed the cats and bunnies. Then it was his turn so I had to get better quick, although I didn't feel at all well still. Christmas Eve he cleaned out no. 1 shed and I did no. 2, although we only cleaned out their worst sides. The weather has been bitter cold again with overnight temperatures down to -10. Although I turned off all the water pipes in the outhouse, they still froze up and when it thawed on Tuesday we still had more burst pipes. Steve the plumber came out this morning and found 4 new leaks, 2 in the toilet, 1 in the outhouse and 1 in the coal hole. Then he discovered both the water hoses for the washing machine had shattered so they were leaking as well. We had to go out and buy new ones before I could do any washing. I have no idea how we are going to stop this happening. The only thing I can think of is to line the wall behind the sink unit and washing machine with inch thick polystyrene sheets glued to the wall round the pipes and the same in the coal hole before we put a unit in there for making soap. The outside toilet is the main problem as the stop tap is in there. We still have a top level cistern so we can put in a low level cistern which means less pipework, and maybe box in the stoptap and cistern and surround them with either glassfibre insulation or polystyrene.

We were supposed to be going down to Sarah's tomorrow, New Year's Eve, but Phil is not well enough to drive all that way so we are saving our present giving for another day when we are completely recovered. I have repaired Rowan's wooden pram and nearly finished the bedding to go in it. Knitted her a cardigan in pretty random yarn on the chunky knitting machine which I hope will fit her. Casie's scarf is finally finished and I have started a hat with the leftover Big Wool.

Denise our neighbour down the road phoned up lunchtime to ask if we still wanted some of her Dad's  chickens (he died a few weeks ago and her Mum can't look after the chickens as she is not too steady on her feet). We went down and had a look and have decided to take 1 lavender Araucana cockerel and 2 hens, plus 2 black bantams, not sure what breed. We are going to use one of Chris's old sheds to make a coop for them. We still have chain link left over from the fence round the bird garden so all we need to get is 4 posts for the fence. We will put it beside the big greenhouse so they will get some shade from the cherry tree in the Summer. All the sheds will be being pulled down and burnt, so there should be plenty of leftover wood to repair the shed we are having. Doris won't know what's happening to have all her garden back, although I'm sure she would rather have Chris back instead. It must be a terrible loss after 70 years together.

Off to feed the bunnies now, then have something to eat, then probably bed as I still feel very weak and tired.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas coming too soon

I bought an electric Hague linker at the local auction last Thursday, picking it up tomorrow. It doesn't look as if it has ever been used. Today I have been making tensions squares on the chunky Brother knitting machine. First one was grey pure wool chunky. Because I replaced the sponge bar it is a bit difficult to push the machine with chunky wool. I think I will have to rewind and wax the wool before I use it for a sweater. I plan on using the gray to make a sweater for Sarah for Christmas, with a dark red band of Fairisle above the ribbing on body and cuffs. It should look quite nice. I also have a chunky beige to make Casie a similar sweater. I will post some pics when I have finished them.

I have a nice heather colour yarn in DK (I think). I'm using that to make a cardi for Rowan. All these yarns came with the chunky machine so haven't cost anything. I hope to be able to spin some wool but need to get these sweaters finished before Christmas.

I have been trying to reveneer a treadle top but it is not easy. I think it will be OK in the end but there is a lot of work involved as it looks as if someone tried to saw off part of the top so I also have to fill in the saw cuts. The veneer I have is not quite wide enough, I think I left one of the sheets down at Sarah's when I took all my woodworking stuff down to repair a case. I will have to find it Christmas if we manage to get down there.

The forecast seems a bit uncertain. It is - 9 here tonight, possibly colder, that was at 7pm when I fed the bunnies. I am back to defrosting their bottles twice a day again. I brushed 3 of them today in number 2 shed. We don't have as much snow as London, only about half an inch.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas presents

Finally the Christmas soap is all finished. Now I can concentrate on making Christmas presents. Lots of spinning, knitting and crochet in the run up to Christmas. Casie's scarf to finish with a matching hat. Rowan's pram to repair and make bedding for. Sarah wants a book on sheep.

I also have to spend time with the bunnies, they have been a bit neglected lately because of the amount of time spent soap making and restoring sewing machines for sale. I cleaned out number 1 shed today and noticed Thistle was walking a bit oddly. I took her indoors and brushed her and trimmed her claws then put her down on the floor.She was walking as if her hips were a bit stiff. I'm hoping it's down to the recent very cold weather followed by damp weather which rabbits hate. I will increase her green stuff and bring her indoors every day to walk around, hopefully this will ease the problem. I have read up on rabbit joint problems and they can be caused by damp conditions. They can also get arthritis and other joint problems. Apparently you can give them glucosamine like humans, cats and dogs. If it doesn't improve next week I will take her to the Vet's.


I haven't posted for a week or so, too busy making soap for Christmas. Now that is all done I can concentrate on making Christmas presents.I will be spinning a lot in the run up to Christmas.I also have a wooden pram to repair for my Granddaughter Rowan for Christmas. The pram hood and dowels were damaged but it is an esay fix. I just had trouble finding the right size wooden beads for the dowels. I finally got some a few weeks ago.

I have to spend some time cleaning and brushing the bunnies as I haven't spent much time with them lately due to the soap making. Thistle is having problems with walking, she keeps slipping sideways, it looks as if her hips are a bit stiff. It may be down to the cold weather over the last 2 weeks and the damp this week. She was fine last week before the really cold weather and it has been very damp today. I will keep an eye on her

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


I haven't posted for over a week now as I haven't been doing much except making soap. I have been getting up at 7am the last 3 days to get some spinning done. This morning I finished a whole spool of Leicester Longwool. Then I thought I would try spinning the Angora. The last time I tried I couldn't do it, it kept slipping and not gripping. Today it spun straight away, a little thick and not terribly smooth, but I can do it. I 'm so pleased, Now I can get the 2 bin bags of Angora down from the loft and start using it. I want to make Rowan a hat for Christmas and then a little coat in the chinchilla colour.

I have made soap the last 2 days to try and get the Christmas orders done, and I will make it every day this week, 20 blocks in total to take down to Sarah's on Saturday. We are going to the ISMACS Christmas lunch Saturday in Tooting. I haven't been there for many years, used to go through Tooting Bec on the way to my Gran's in Mitcham.

I have finished re-veneering the Singer 99 sewing machine base which I started last week, it has turned out quite well. I stained it this morning. I have another one the same to do. I am also repairing the base of a pretty Frister & Rossmann Transverse Shuttle sewing machine. The machine needs quite a bit of cleaning, the underneath is rusty although not seized. I have taken the needle bar apart for cleaning already. Unfortunately the handle on the case is missing and I don't think I have another the right size or shape. This one will be going on eBay. I have several very pretty German TS machines to restore, I can't decide whether to sell them down in London or on eBay.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Singer 99

This morning we went to a Christmas Craft Fayre and bought a few bits and pieces, this afternoon we went to an indoor car boot sale. I bought a little bone china tea set for £1, quite sweet with autumn leaves on it.

Later I cleaned a Singer 99 case and base with Fenman's Elixir. It came up quite well and I have now polished it with white polish. This contains shellac like French Polish. When that is dry it will be polished with beeswax and turpentine polish to bring a lovely patina to the case. The machine itself is not in bad condition and needs very little work to make it presentable.

I tried sewing with the Jones Spool treadle yesterday evening. It treadles with the wheel going away from you and it is very difficult to treadle that way when you are used to Singers. That has also been cleaned, with methylated spirits to get off any remaining shellac. There are a few stains I might need to treat with white spirit as they look like green paint.

It's amazing how any vintage machine with a wooden table or case seems to get paint on it. The Singer 99 case had spots of white paint all over it.

I have started repairing the broken drawer on the Jones Spool, gluing it together and clamping it until it dries. I need to make a new back piece for it as the original is broken and in a bad way.

Tomorrow we are going down to London with 16 blocks of soap and possibly a sewing machine if I get it finished in time.

Tuesday I hope to be able to stain the Jones treadle and complete reveneering the other Singer 99 base. It's a learning curve, vintage veneer is thicker and doesn't bend round corners so well, but I have found that using a steam iron on the corners helps with modern veneer so I will try that on the old veneer on Tuesday.

It is very difficult trying to type with a large cat draped across the laptop so I am giving up now.

Friday, 19 November 2010

New machines

I bought a new treadle last night at our local auction. A Jones Spool, one I don't have in my collection. This is a keeper, even though I don't really have the room. The machine head was very dirty with old oil. It was so bad that I used neat eucalyptus oil and it came off very quickly. The decals are lovely and bright now.

The woodwork needs stripping off and repolishing and I need to clean all the chrome on the machine head.

The Spool is an odd machine, it seems a cross between a Singer 15 (tension discs on the face plate) and the Adler Rotary number 8 which I have (similar bobbin mechanism). The bobbins are quite big and very flat. I look forward to getting the machine in working order.

I also bought a Singer 99 to sell at SBI The Workshop and a Frister & Rossman Cub 7 for me to keep. It is a sweet little machine which does zigzag and stretch stitches. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with it so I have no idea why it ended up at the tip. The owner got something newer I guess. Nearly all the parts are metal, only one plastic part as far as I can tell.

I have made 6 batches of soap this week (Rosemary, sweet orange and crushed olive stone, cinnamon and oat, Tea Tree and bentonite clay, rose and clove) to go down to London for Sarah to process before she goes down to Devon next weekend. She has had her soaps and body butters launched at "From the Wilde" website - Hopefully they will sell well.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Spinning/soap making

Yesterday I made soap, ti-tree and clay/clove bud. Today I did some spinning of the Leicester Longwool fleece.

I also stripped the ruined veneer off the Singer 99 base. I have some oak veneer which I am going to try, to see if it is easier to use than the original Singer veneer. Modern veneers are thinner than antique veneers so hopefully it will bend easier round corners. I have to find a way of joining it, either by cutting over both when I get round to the end of the glueing or by shaving it thin and overlapping. Then I will need to stain and polish it. I also need to clean the case which is a bit dirty but should clean up well.

The machine itself needs to have the bobbin and needle plates cleaned as they are quite rusty. the rest of the machine seems to be in good condition and is quite lint free for a change. It looks like the previous owner actually looked after it when they were using it. It's a shame that most old machines seem to end up in garages and other damp places where they go rusty and the veneer peels off. They also seem to attract paint spots.

The machine belonged to the mother of the chap I bought it from. She died some weeks ago and they have no use for it.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Treadle servicing

I have been down to London again, this time to service a treadle. It was one I have never seen before, a Grosvenor possibly a German machine. It belonged to the lady's Aunt. Very pretty and she was overjoyed because not only did I get it going but gave her a lesson and left her happily treadling away. She plans on making curtains for her front door.

While I was down there I was asked to service 2 more treadles, a Singer 15 (no problem to clean up, well used and the decals were very worn, half a ton of lint under the needle plate) and a Pfaff 11 which was very rusty, so more of a mini-restoration than a service.

Now I am back home it's more soap making, knitting and spinning, plus restoring a Singer 99.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Bad day

Yesterday was a bad day, nothing went right. I couldn't find the inspection plate for the BSM machine I was servicing so I stopped that. The Singer 66 Lotus had a sheared screw on the slide plate spring and the decals and pillar paintwork were very bad so that will be parted out. The Lotus hand crank I can put on one of several Sphinx VS machines and use that case when I've repaired it.

I was just about to give up when I spied a bentwood case and couldn't remember what was in it. It was a Singer 12 with missing slide plates, but underneath that was a hand cranked Singer 15 Centennial in beautiful condition, a few chips on the bed but the decals are very good. The original case needed reveneering but I had a case exactly the same ready to go. An hour cleaning it last night, testing and polishing it this morning and it is lovely.

Today I am off to London. Phil is taking me and I'm going back on the coach as Molly our elderly cat is not well so I don't want to leave him with no transport. I just have to sort out a small toolbox for my servicing tools to do the treadle for Dee. My normal toolbox is too full and too heavy to bring back on the coach.

I will take Casie's scarf to knit on the coach. That should get me a fair bit further. When I come back on Wednesday, I am going to do some spinning as I haven't had time for 2 weeks and I wanted to spin enough to make some Christmas pressies.

Saturday, 6 November 2010


I have had more trouble with the Singer 15. I forgot when I changed the balace wheel that the bobbin winder is not close enough to the wheel to work. I have decided to put the Singer Lotus 66 in the same case and base as that is a hand crank already. That will need a full service and clean tomorrow.

I haven't had much time to knit or spin lately but I have been making soap. Hopefully after Monday when I have taken the machines down to London I will be able to just make soap, knit and spin.

I am making some double size wooden soap moulds. I have found that lining the moulds with thick plastic means I don't have to freeze the soap to release it from the moulds. Doing the same with wooden moulds means I need not have them bolt together. I will need to make a cutter to cut the double block in half.I bought all the offcuts of plywood today and they only cost £3.50 I will just need screws and some wire for the soap cutter.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

More machines

I have had a few hiccups with the Singer 28 as the top went on crooked and when I took it off, the top sections came unglued again. I have now reglued and pinned them so it won't happen again, I had a brainwave and covered the new plywood top with some of the veneer I retrieved from the old treadle and table I had to take apart. All I need to do is take off the old finish and some of the dark stain.

I have put my Singer 15 in another case and changed the solid balance wheel for a spoked wheel and added a hand crank. Then I will oil the machine and give the case and base a quick going over with Fenman's elixir.

The next machine is a Singer 185 electric in beige. I know it works fine as this is the machine I lent to the group making Carnival costumes last year. A quick service, clean of the case and that's it.

The last machine is an electric 201, one of the more modern angled shape. It will need a service and I need to try out the motor, although the wiring looks good.

I won't have time to do much tomorrow as we have a funeral to go to, our elderly neighbour who was 90.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Singer 28

I have been cleaning up the Singer 28 hand crank which I am taking down to London at the end of the week. I had to make a new top for the case as the old one was too damaged to repair. This machine has pretty Victorian decals.

Tomorrow I have to clean up a Singer 201 (electric) which is also going down to London. It shouldn't need much more than a service as it is very clean.

I might also start on a Singer 66 which will need rewiring as the wiring is very old and cloth covered. Hopefully I won't need to solder new wires onto the motor.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Daughter's visit

Had a very busy day today. My Daughter, Son-in-Law and Grandaughter came to visit. Granddaughter was very excited to come to Nanny's house as I usually visit them. She wanted to see the bunnies, all the cats and the quail. I had to get lots of the bunnies out for her to look at, and one of the quail. We had roast dinner and then took their dog for a walk round the local footpaths.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sewing machines and Morsbags

I started repairing the case on the Singer 28 I am restoring. I had it on the breakfast bar glued and clamped. then Kesira jumped up and knocked the lot off. The whole case came apart so I had to start again. I had cut the new case top and stained it and was hoping to glue and pin that on tonight. Alas, it was not to be. I will have to finish it tomorrow as Sarah wants to take it back to the Workshop to replace the Jones Unique machine.

I went to our local Morsbag meeting (LITbags pod). There were only Rosie, Sue and myself there. I actually made 2 bags tonight and brought home some more cut out fabric to make extra bags.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Soap/baby sweater

I made teatree/clay and rose soap today. Then I started a sweater for Riley in blue fleck DK. I'm doing it in plain stocking stitch as the yarn is flecked with pink and white. I might male a little hat as well. Did some more to my cable sweater last night. Tomorrow I am going to do some more spinning.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

New baby

Went to see our friend Cheryl today. She has just given birth to a little boy (not so little - 9lb 5oz) by caesarian. He is called Riley. Now I know she has a boy I can crochet a shawl and make a patchwork cot quilt in the right colours.

I finished off the bed covers I made last week on the treadle. I had to sew on velcro, thread the elastic on the fitted sheet corners and press it all. It looks really good. Now I have to make the other set. I have learned from the mistakes I made on this set.

I am going to make some patchwork cushions from the leftover fabric from the bed covers (pale burgundy and pale green).

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Leicester Longwool sheep

Today I went and saw Lilly, the sheep whose fleece I am spinning. Sue, the owner has about 30 sheep including Leicester Longwool, Shetland and Hebridean. Lilly's fleece is lovely and soft, it's the first time she has been sheared. I have booked some of the fleece from the lambs Sue bred this year and the white Ram lamb they bought to start a white flock. She is putting 2 Shetland ewes to the Leicester Longwool ram as she has been told that particular cross makes a good spinning fleece.

I spun a little more of the L Longwool fleece and took it with me for Sue to see. She was over the moon to see some of the fleece from her own sheep actually spun. She loved the random black, grey and white colouring. I intend to spin a lot of the fleece and make bodywarmers for us all for Christmas on the chunky Brother knitting machine. I have done some more to Casie's scarf and it is beginning to look good.

We stopped off at the allotment on the way home from Sue's and picked the sweetcorn and beans. They are finished now. This week we will be rotavating it and tidying up for the Winter and netting the brassicas.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Got a phone call at 7.15 this morning from one of the new Fishing syndicate members. They got their van stuck down the lake. We had to go and get Dave and his Land Rover to pull them out. Fortunately it didn't take long.

I carded some of the Leicester Longwool this afternoon and tried making into roving. It didn't work too badly. I have started spinning the fleece to show Sue tomorrow when we go to see her sheep.

I have been knitting Casie's scarf and this evening the ribbing on my sweater.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Leicester Longwool Fleece

I spent the day teasing out the cleaned Leicester Longwool fleece. It's beautiful, colours from cream to rust, grey and black, soft and lustrous. It comes from Lilly a yearling ewe.

I rang the phone number on the label that came with the fleece and spoke to Sue who owns Lilly. She only lives about 2 miles down the road which is very strange as I expected her to live miles away. I got the fleece from the Rare Breeds Show at Melton Mowbray and it's nearly come back home. I wanted a picture of Lilly, so I have arranged to go and see Sue's flock of 30 sheep on Sunday and I'll take my own pictures.

I want to spin some of the fleece before Sunday to show Sue as she's not seen it spun up. I'm also going to take the crochet Jacobs Fleece scarf to show her. She has just bought a spinning wheel and wanted to know how I cleaned fleeces so I explained the method I use.

I also washed the remainder of the Cotswold fleece which I will tease out tomorrow. My hands ache too much to knit tonight.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Busy, busy

So much for regular posts. Lately I have been restoring vintage hand crank and treadle sewing machines for an eco sewing weekend at the Sally Bourne Interiors Workshop in Crouch End, North London. That's taken up the last 5 weeks pretty much.

It was a really good weekend. We taught about 8 children to hand crank starting from about 21/2 years old (sitting on Mummy's lap). They were amazingly creative. One little girl about 6 or 7 years old, made (with our help) a dress, a pair of sandals and a carry bag for her fluffy bunny. We taught a couple of teenagers and several adults to treadle and sold 2 machines and possibly another 3. My daughter got a few bookings for her quilting and sewing classes. I found my Jones CB treadle will free motion quilt quite well, I just need to practice. You don't need a feed dog cover as the stitch length lever can be put in neutral.

A few weeks ago I did a swap, one of my treadles which I repainted and repolished for a needle felting machine from Rosie who makes Morsbags. We are both happy with the swap. I intend to make some wall art for the lounge for when we decorate.

We went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace 2 weeks ago. I bought some purple, deep red and cream prefelt, red silk fibres (for felting) and a pack of alpaca mix yarn in autumn shades. There was much more wool and yarn this year, plus a lot of felting supplies.

I have started 2 knitting projects, a long scarf for Casie my son-in-law with huge cables. That's in grey Rowan big wool. The other project is a heavily cabled sweater for me in a blue fleck aran wool and acrylic mix.

Today I brushed some of the Angora bunnies, cleaned some Leicester Longwool fleece to be carded and spun some Portland fllece which I will dye with vegetable dyes later on.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Craft fair and Morsbags

Well, my posts are getting more regular. What have I been doing in the last 2 weeks?

I did a craft fair with my daughter Sarah, down in London. It was a nice venue, a community gardens, it was well organised, lots of nice stalls , but there were very few buyers. The weather wasn't that bad, so we concluded it was the fact that the area wasn't very wealthy. We only sold 2 of Sarah's bags, a jeans bag and a vintage fabric knitting bag with wood effect round handles, 2 pairs of oven gloves and a felt brooch I had made about 10 minutes before it sold. We kept ourselves amused with hand sewing while we chatted and we had quite a nice day.

Thursday the 26th August our local Morsbag pod - LIT bags had a meeting in the evening. They will be holding that monthly. I cut the hems and tops off the donated curtains which needs doing before they can be made into bags. Morsbags are a charity which makes cloth shopping bags which are then handed out on the street and swapped for plastic carrier bags. The fabric and thread are all donated, mostly curtains and bedlinen. The volunteers make the bags. They also go to fetes and fairs with hand crank and treadle sewing machines and get the public to make their own bags.

I was talking to Rosie from Morsbags about the felt needles Sarah and I bought at the Weaving Studio in North London. She said she had an embellisher (a machine which felts and attaches wool or ribbon, etc to fabric, using a five needle unit attached in the same way as a normal sewing machine needle but with no thread or bobbin), and she didn't use it any more but would be willing to swap it for a treadle.

So we made a deal and I am now restoring a treadle for her. I am even repainting the irons as this was stored somewhere damp and the woodwork and metal have both suffered. The woodwork has to be stripped right back , bleached to remove black marks, sanded, restained and repolished. The irons will be wire brushed, cleaned, derusted and repainted gloss black with gold on the Singer logos on the centre and either leg. The orignal machine was a Singer 27 with Sphinx decals but that is very worn so I will be dropping either a 15, 66 or 201 into the table. Rosie will need the extra yardage of thread on the round bobbins for making the Morsbags.

You can look them up at They are pretty much worldwide now.

That's about it for today, we were up very late last night as we went down to see Sarah in London and the car broke down so we didn't get to bed until 4am. Although we slept in a bit, I am still very tired.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Another long gap, shows how busy I am. I had less to do when I was in full time work. What have I been doing since January?

Restoring sewing machines and selling them on eBay.

Finally getting on with learning to spin, I have made a crocheted scarf in Jacob's Fleece - random brown/white natural colours from yarn I spun myself. It's still a bit rough with the odd lump here and there, but you pay more for designer yarn with slubs. It's a good feeling actually making something you can wear with yarn you have made yourself right from the fleece.

I have just pulled out some light brown merino roving which I am going to mix with cinnamon Angora and see how successfully I can spin that. Drum carders are a Godsend for those of us who have arthritis or lack of time to hand card.

I have been buying tents at our local auction along with sewing machines, and using my Singer 201 hand crank to repair them. It sails over 2 layers of thick webbing and 4 of tent fabric, better in fact that my industrial Singer treadle. I think it might be the fact that the presser foot on the 201 is hinged and the Singer 16 is rigid. I might see if a hinged foot will fit on the industrial. I have realised that the industrial machine might be good for straight quilting on large quilts because it has a huge harp area. Not sure if it will free motion quilt, I will have to practice on it.

New additions to my sewing machine collection since January are 2 Willcox & Gibbs chainstitchers, one a hand crank in excellent condition which just needed a clean and service and the wood base and case treated with Fenmans Elixir. It stitches beautifully and I can use it for decoration as it makes exquisite chain stitches on the back of the material. The other W & G is from a treadle and is very poorly, rusted solid, but it only cost me £8. It is soaking in WD40 at the moment.

I also acquired a Shepherd, Rothwell & Hough Hand machine (serpentine) which is seized as well and one of the parts broke underneath while I was trying to free it off. It is exactly the same as the Jones Hand machine. I bought one of those the other day as well, a little rusty but a few hours soak in oil and a little judicious tapping on the needle bar with a piece of wood and a hammer and it's freed off. I will probably sell that one as the S, R & H is the same and I won't be able to sell that because of the broken piece. It can be fixed with JB Weld, a resin with steel powder in it. This is supposed to work really well. Hopefully I can get it into working order. I do like to have all my collection working.

I found a Singer 306 at our local auction which cost me £11. It is beautiful, although some people think they are ugly because they are chunky. It was one of the last Singer machines to have metal gears. It zigzags, has cams for lots of different stitches, you can monogram with it and because it is a full size machine it will drop straight into a treadle. The stitch length lever was jammed when I got it. I didn't realise and tried to move it with the result that it snapped off. I had to get a new lever from the US, thanks to the kindness of some ISMACS (international Sewing Machine Collector's Society) members.

I joined ISMACS this year and am now moderating the Digest. I am also a moderator for Vintage Machine QandE, a Yahoo group for those of us who not only collect vintage machines but actually use them and need technical advice. If anyone would like to join us, please let me know and I will send an invite. Membership is by invitation only.

Sarah (my eldest daughter) and I are doing a craft fair in London this Sunday (22nd August), selling stuff we have made. I am taking along the Jacob's fleece scarf and possibly an Alpaca baby beret if I finish it in time. Sarah is making needle books from vintage fabric and felted wool, embroidered greetings cards and various other things. Our hand made soap of course, we have several new recipes including a gorgeous gardener's soap which has rosemary and sweet orange essential oil with crushed olive stone for abrasion to get of all that gardening dirt. It also works well for oil and grease if you do mechanics. We have a new recipe for massage bars which Sarah is making and putting in small tins.

Sarah is moving to Devon in the new year, and we are thinking of moving down there in the next 2 years if she settles in OK. It would be nice to be near Sarah, and also to be back in Devon where we lived for over 10 years, where my children were born, and which I still miss, even though we are in the countryside. I miss being near the sea and just being able to go to the beach for an afternoon. My children used to go to the beach every weekend when their Dad played cricket just over the sea wall in Instow. We used to search the rock pools, make sand castles, the usual childhood pastimes which parents enjoy doing with their offspring. It would be so nice for Rowan my Granddaughter to grow up down there.

Well, I have to go and do some carding now, some spinning, machine cleaning, the list is never ending.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Angora rabbits

I had a comment from Sunny about the rabbits, so I will post a little about them. The only difference between Angora and short haired rabbit care is obviously the brushing, but Angoras are either bedded on wire floors to keep their fleeces clean for showing, or on shavings with straw on top which I prefer. I feed them on Burgess pellets, I have always fed my rabbits on muesli type feeds, but I was getting a lot of waste, now there is none. They need a good diet in order to produce the best quality wool.

They need to be brushed at least once a week , twice when they are in full moult. You can also clip or pluck them to get wool for spinning. I mostly just brush them. The back and sides are the best, longest areas of wool, the undersides can be contaminated with waste or shavings and other vegetable material. I don't like clipping them as their skin is so fine and thin it is too easy to cut them by mistake, and although they heal up very quickly it distresses me when I do it. Plucking may sound painful, but you only do it when they are moulting and you tug gently all over the wool and it comes out in handfuls.

The brushed, plucked or clipped wool is then carded before blending with other fibres. Angora is very fine and warm, on it's own it is only suitable for garments for Artic conditions. It needs to be blended with other fine fibres like Merino wool or silk in order to decrease the heat retention properties of the yarn. The fibre is very soft and slippery to spin, I haven't mastered it yet.

Haven't posted for nearly a year

Well, I have been very lax in posting, so I will give you a quick resume of what I have been doing for the last year. I didn't make the two chunky sweaters in the end, I still have them to do. I have made several for my Grandaughter, a green crochet sleeveless top for me, a dark blue crochet shawl which is now on display in a craft workshop window in London and a peach 4 ply knitted sleeveless pullover.

I have been spinning a little, but the hand carding affected the arthritis in my hands badly, so I have been given a drum carder for Christmas and I have been carding like mad, Hebridean, Jacobs Fleece and North Ronaldsay so far. Once I have a load carded I will spin it all and make something.

I have just finished tiling our lounge floor (ceramic tiles) and it looks really good, but it made my hands and shoulders very sore and painful. I went on a virtually raw food diet during the Summer and it improved my arthritis greatly, but over Christmas I lapsed and ate things I shouldn't. Basically I have cut out anything containing wheat, sugar or other processed foods. So my hands got bad again. They are just recovering, nearly a month later. I want to use the Hebridean fleece (dark brown) to spin some chunky wool and crochet it with a giant crochet hook into rugs for the lounge which I will felt so I will be able to machine wash them.

I have just started quilting again. I did hand quilting many years ago and nothing since, but my eldest daughter taught a quilting beginners class last week, I pieced 2 ninepatch cushion tops to go in the lounge, black flowered with plain cream. I also tried out free motion quilting on my daughters vintage Necchi Supernova and really enjoyed it, so I will be setting up one of my treadles to practice some more before I quilt the cushions. I have to make a long overdue quilt for my Grandaughter, just waiting for the size and deciding what pattern to use. I also have some hand pieced squares left over from hand quilting which I might finish quilting on the machine.

The turbo charger on Our Renault Megane blew up 2 days ago and it is very expensive to fix so we only have Phil's trike as transport or the Post Bus. So, I need to knit 2 balaclavas, 2 neck warmers and 2 sets of knee warmers to keep us warm on the trike. all on the knitting machine for speed. I will use the Singer Chunky I think as I have some dark purple coned wool in quantity.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Haven't posted for nearly a year

Well, I have been very lax about posting on my blog, so I will give you an update.

During the last year I have been making a lot of hand crafted cold process soap with my daughter. This goes on sale in an interiors shop in London.

I have made several sweaters for my grandaughter, finished the red brushed sideways sweater with navy cuffs and ribs, crocheted a sleeveless top in green. I am making an Aran sweater in pale yellow Sirdar Denim Sport Aran, using an old Studley patten which I have had for years and never used.

I have done a bit more spinning, but the hand carding was bad for the arthritis in my hands so I didn't do a lot. I got a drum carder for Christmas so have been carding a lot and doing some more spinning. I intend to card a complete Hebridean fleece which is very dark brown. Then I want to spin some chunky wool and crochet some rugs with a giant crochet hook, then felt them so they are thick and warm.

My arthritis got a lot better because I cut out wheat and sugar entirely and went onto a virtually raw food diet during the Summer. It's not so good at the moment because I ate a lot of rubbish over the Christmas period. They are just getting better now. It didn't help that I have just tiled our lounge floor with ceramic tiles. This made my hands, arms and shoulders really bad, but the floor is mostly done and I am very pleased with it. Much easier to clean than carpet.

I have just started quilting again after many years. I used to hand quilt, went to classes for 6 months. Now I have started machine quilting. I have tried free motion quilting on my daughters old Necchi Supernova and it was easy. Now I have to find one of my machines which will work well, hopefully one of my treadles. I helped my daughter out with her quilting course for beginners and pieced a couple of new cushions for the lounge. I will free motion quilt these when I have sorted out a machine