Scrap Happy June – Courtesy of Matt

I have been spoilt for choice this month! Since lockdown began all the shops other than food ones have been shut. So I have been unable to buy new materials and have had to use scrap for almost everything. I have done quite a lot of knitting and sewing but the project that has brought me most joy has been my new utility room! The shell was built over a year ago when I had Dan here renovating the cabin. The concrete base is about 10 years old! One of those slow burn projects. I had thought of fitting it out myself but was rather daunted by the prospect of manouvering sheets of plasterboard especially on the ceiling!

When I saw the work Matt had done on the barn kitchen at Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust I decided to ask him to come and fit it out. He is brilliant at using what is to hand rather than designing the space and going out to buy everything. I was on his list (which is long because lots of people rate his work highly!) but because the utility room is not in the house we agreed it was safe job for him to do during lockdown.

First he put insulation and plasterboard on the walls and boarded the floor. Most of that stuff had to be bought although he used some timber taken out of the cabin when a wall was taken down for some of the battening. Luckily he is on very good terms with his local builders merchant who allowed him to go and take what he needed from his yard. Once that part of the job was done he left for a few days whilst I oiled the floor and painted the walls.

Then the fun started.

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The butler’s sink is one my son gave me. All the houses in his street are ‘town houses’ built with a garage on the ground floor and a utility room behind plus an entrance hall to the side with stairs to living space on the first floor and bedrooms on the second. The utility rooms had these deep sinks because in those days washing machines were not automatic or plumbed in and had to be filled from a tap and emptied into a sink. And lots of people still did some of their washing by hand. Over the years almost every garage has been converted into living space and the utility rooms have become kitchens. My lovely son has collected the old sinks as they have been thrown out and brought me three to choose from! Matt built a stand for it, and the bases for the worktops, from scrap wood lurking in my workshop. The tap is one my husband made up for the garden – it has the screw thread to take a hose fitting. It was installed high enough to get a brewing bucket underneath but being able to attach a short length of hose makes it more versatile.

The worktops and the pieces up the walls are off-cuts from my handmade kitchen surfaces whilst the shelves and brackets were taken out of the old utility room. Eveb the doors were ones taken out from other places!

Fitting everything into this smaller space was quite a challenge but it does mean that I can’t continue to collect clutter!

It is not quite finished yet. I am waiting for the electrician to come and put the fronts on the sockets and then will buy an upright freezer to replace the old chest one which I haven’t moved. The washing machine broke down just as lockdown began so my kind neighbour is doing my washing until I can get the repairman out to fix it.

The old utility room was originally the garage and Matt will be back in July to transform it into 2 guest rooms and a space which will one day be a shower room – watch this space!

Here are the links for everyone who joins Scrap Happy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

Kate, Gun, Titty, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sunny and Kjerstin

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Blessings # 21 – U is for upcycling a.k.a. Scrap Happy April!

When I started this series I was wondering how to accomodate Scrap Happy and by a wonderful bit of serendipity todays letter is U!

When we revamped this house we installed a new bathroom in a diferent place from the old one before taking the old one out. We therefore had a lot of pieces of used plastic waste pipe lying around. Re-arranging the kitchen added more and then there were the offcuts from the new things going in. By the time we finished the pile of lengths was quite big. So John cut it all into short pieces, stood them in punnets which came from the supermarket with mushrooms in, into the bottoms of which he had pierced holes, and used them as modules for planting seeds.

Over time the chemotherapy took its toll on his digestive system. He also became immuno-compromised and had to take antibiotics for a whole sequence of infections. So he started to take those probiotic drinks to try to help his gut recover. The empties piled up until he had the idea of cutting the bottoms off and using those as modules in the same way.
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They have been going now for almost 15 years and still get washed and re-used every year. Once the seedlings get going they are either transplanted into the ground or potted on into old cream or yoghurt pots (again with holes made with a drill or a soldering iron). These days I also stand the tubes and pots in plastic boxes which are the containers mushrooms are delivered to C&M Organics in. They cannot be returned or recycled but hold 60 of my modules so enough for a whole row of peas or beans.

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Since so many people seem to be starting to see the wisdom of growing some of their own food now that shopping is less easy |I thought these might trigger some creatibve ways to grow on the cheap and with what is to hand.

Scrap happy is curated by Kate and Gun (links below) and celebrates creative ways in which people use scrap materials to make lovely new things.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

Kate, Gun, Titty, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline,
Sunny and Kjerstin

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Blessings # 14 – Needles

It was inevitable really that I would end up crafting.

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On my father’s side my grandfather (the beekeeper in B – if you missed it read it here) was a carpenter and my grandmother won prizes for her sewing. My father taught woodwork and after he died my husband had some of his and my Grandfather’s tools which I still have. My mother taught Domestic Science which was how they met. Her father was totally cack-handed as was her brother. I have no real idea about her mother who died when I was 2 months old but I suspect that with 5 children she did a lot of ‘utility’ sewing and mending but not much else. Mum’s eldest sister (the one who left me the grandfather clock in yesterday’s post) taught craft at a Teacher Training College. The second sister trained as a tailoress, then stopped work to nurse her parents but managed to teach dressmaking at evening classes in her spare time. The third was area manager for a chain of dry-cleaning shops but did loads of knitting and sewing for sales of work at the church.

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When I was very young (pre-school or in the infants class) I was given a toy, but working, sewing machine and can remember my Mum cutting up old flanelette into squares for me to hem as dusters before I progressed to making dolls clothes!

My Dad taught me the name of all his tools and where to find them in his shed but of course I was a girl so I handed them to him to use. It never occured to either of us that I might have a go! It did, however give me a great love of wood and wooden objects. Since John was very skilled at woodwork and enjoyed it I left him to it but after he died I needed to start doing some DIY and discovered that actually I can work with wood and I enjoy it too.

There is a Welsh idiom ‘Beth sy ar y gwaell?’ literally – ‘What is on the knitting needles?’ but more generally ‘What are you up to?’ or ‘What are you working on?’

At present I am knitting a jumper (in the photo at the top)to take to Stiwdio 3 in Cardigan when it re-opens where they are hoping to collect 2020 to send to a refugee charity. I have also made several more puppets (also in the photo above)for my friend to send to Sierra Leone (see the original post here). My friend Susan has taught me to spin and lent me a wheel which was given to her by a lady who had to give up spinning. The condition attached to the gift was that it was for her to lend to a learner. To my shame I have hardly used it yet. Another friend, Roni, showed me how to use the lathe in my workshop but again I haven’t made time to get the hang of it. There are several gates I need to make and this year’s felled timber is looking at me begging to be used. I keep reading blog posts that inspire me to try new things…

Yes, I miss meeting up with friends, but if this lockdown continues for months I still won’t finish all the things on my needles!

Scrap Happy February

A bit late this month – Sorry! I should have written and posted this yesterday but I chose to spend the afternoon sewing instead as I had an idea busting to get out!

A few weeks ago a local facebook friend who used to work for an International Aid Agency shared a post from a former colleague. Yaina was shortly going to visit a project in Sierra Leone where the agency supports an orphanage and she wanted to take glove puppets for the children. There was a picture of a couple she had made and the pattern. She wanted to see if other people would make some for her and my fb friend Helen said she was happy to collect and send on any people round here could make. It seemed such a simple way to help and I have scrap yarn so I set to work. Unfortunately when I took them round to Helen I was in a rush to go on to a meeting so I shoved them through the door and drove off. Unbeknownst to me it was the right house but the wrong letterbox and by the time we had sorted that out it was too late to get them off to Africa. Ever resourceful, Helen sent her friend a video of the puppets explaining that they had missed their flight but would come next time!

She tells me that the orphanage has 40 children but another 100 are fostered and attend the school – that is a lot of puppets that could find a good home. I may have to – GULP – buy some more yarn! Now where did I put those needles?

Scrap Happy is hosted by Kate and Gun on the fifteenth (or thereabouts for disorganised people like me!) of each month. Do see what my fellow scrappers have been up to – it is a great source of inspiration.

Kate, Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, and Pauline

If these links again fail to work (I have had problems in the past) you can find them all by going to Kate’s post and following the links there – it will be well worth the effort!

Scrap Happy January

I mentioned in my previous post that a number of patchwork cushion covers were disintegrating and I wanted to replace them. When I thought about it I realised that I had made them when we were living in North Devon so that must have been the early 80’s. Most of the fabric I used was part of a large bale I bought when my daughter was a baby (she will be 45 in a couple of months!) which was ends, offcuts, pieces that had torn or been roughly joined during processing and printed peieces which had got folded going through the printing rollers so had white streaks down them. It was all very cheap because only someone happy to cut out and use the good bits would be able to make use of it. In those days patchwork was unfashionable and I had never heard of a fat quarter so I think the firm was just happy to get rid of it all.

Having done quite a bit of knitting recently I decided to have a change and do some patchwork instead and since it was for the evenings in front of the fire I opted for hand stitched hexagons. Looking for my templates which proved to be hidden in plain sight (memo to self – tidy the studio and stop wasting time hunting for things) I found this collection of hexies already cut and basted. The yellow broiderie anglais one bottom right is an offcut from the dresses my bridesmaids wore when I got married in 1971! The plaid is from an old work shirt and the plains were pieces of sheeting I picked up as remnants aeons ago.

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In the same basket I found this piece which used to be on a cushion cover. Presumably the backing got stained or damaged and I salvaged the applique.

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I have started to stitch some of the pieces together. The central printed blue is from that original bale – only a few small bits remain but it has done me proud. I never thought when I bought it that it would last me this long!

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For some reason copying and pasting the links to the other happy scrappers isn’t working but you can find them all by going to Kate’s post They are all well worth a visit!

Scrap Happy December

Two for the price of one this month!

You may remember that I was invited to a lunch to celebrate the 2nd birthday of my neighbours’ adopted child at rather short notice. I wanted to take a present but did not have time to go out and look for something. Rummaging through my patterns I found this one for a knitted rabbit which recommended using up odd scraps of yarn. I have no idea where the pattern came from – it seems to have come as an email but I have no idea who sent it.

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As I had plenty of small balls of yarn and the remains of a bag of toy stuffing I set to work. It took far longer than I had intended or anticipated but I was rather pleased with the result.

The second project was another birthday present. This one was for my grandson, Sam, who was 18 on Wednesday. Some years ago I made each of the grandchildren a rectangular cushion and embroidered it as a postcard. It had a scrap of velvet as a stamp, the address was ‘To name, Anywhere in the World’ and the message was ‘Love from Mam-gu’. Mam-gu is Welsh for Grandma and is what they all call me. As my son and daughter-in-law were looking after three foster children at the time and I wanted to include them with my four birth grandchildren, that was seven cushions! They seem to have been a hit because although the foster children were moved on and I am no longer in contact, I spot them from time to time in my grandchildren’s bedrooms or brought with them if they are camping here. When I visited my daughter at half term Sam waved his at me and asked for another one so that is what he got. But I decided to do a different design as he is now (at least technically!) a grown up. A quick hunt through my stash brought to light an expensive black velvet skirt that was given to me to recycle because it no longer fit it’s owner, (a much larger lady than me or I would have snaffled it) and some red ‘fur’ fabric used for making teddy bears years ago. Both are soft with a lovely ‘feel’ to them. A skein of thick red embroidery thread from my box and I was ready to go.

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As Sam’s sister has her birthday in early January I just have to think of something to make for her! Could be you will see that as my next Scrap Happy post! But first there are Christmas presents to finish and as my son and daughter-in-law now have another three foster children who will be with them, all being well, until they reach adulthood, Georgia’s gift will have to wait until after Christmas.

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, Tall Tales from Chiconia, one of my favouruite blogs. On the fifteenth of every month lots of other folks often publish a ScrapHappy post – some fabric or yarn, some other stuff but all inspiring. For some reason ‘cut and paste’ is not working properly so I cannot put all the links here. Please look at Kate’s site and follow the links from there – it is well worth the effort! http://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com

Scrap Happy November

I spent a lovely few days with my Daughter earlier this month. She works in a school as a Learning Support Assistant supporting children with complex needs one-to-one so that they can access mainstream school. This year she is working in the reception class with a little boy who is 4 years old but has the developmental age of less than 1 year – still in nappies, unable to use language and with a very short attention span. I am so proud of her and the progress she is helping him make! At the same time she has started on an Open University course to complete the degree she started on locally part time, but never finished because the last modules were aimed at wannabe teachers and that is not where she wants her career to go. She needed somewhere to study and to make her bedroom a more pleasant space. It was furnished with the things no-one else wanted, had an old single bed which was not very comfortable and was full of stuff from her days as a childminder which she had kept ‘just in case’.

So at the start of half-term I went over to help her turn her room into a place where she could study, read, write and where she would want to be rather than feeling banished! We had a good clear-out first and shared the spoils around several charity shops! Some of the furniture went to a friend of hers who has an up-cycling business and within 48 hours an old coffee table had been repaired, painted and was in her on-line shop (no that is not my scrap-happy, just my delight that a scruffy piece that was of no use to my daughter found a bit of TLC and will go to a new home).

We decided not to repaint the walls but she used tester pots of paint to create a mural in one corner – you can just see the end of it in the picture below. My son suggested that an ottoman bed would be somewhere to store all the toys she felt she wanted to keep (she uses a lot in her job since often the school budget will not stretch to buying special items). With new curtains and bedding, a second hand bureau from the charity shop the room was taking shape nicely.

What it needed were some cushions to make the bed more inviting. We had seen lots of ‘OK-ish’ ones when we were hunting bedding but decided it was time to get creative. Two old jumpers, one grey and one mustardy yellow made 2 square covers for which we did have to buy new pads (all the old cushions were polyester filled and had gone very flat). But what was needed was more texture and a cover for a rectangular pad that was fine. Then a rummage in the deep cupboard over the stairs to make room to store the old single duvet brought a muffled cry of ‘Eureka!’ And out came an old bathmat. A splash of bleach had given it a few white strands which were hardly noticeable. But of course my daughter knew they were there and so every time she used it that is what she saw – and started kicking herself again for being careless. Folded in half it was just the right size and the white threads could be at the back out of sight. So whilst she made supper I hand stitched the cover together (it was too thick and tightly woven for the machine) and voila! One very textural cushion in just the right shade!

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). If you’ve copied this list from previous posts, please use the one below as it’s the most up to date 🙂

Kate (me!), Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L.

Scrap Happy October

Last winter I knitted quite a few pairs of socks and for each I bought a ball of yarn. But each pair uses less than a ball so I had a basket full of 4 ply yarn in various colours. It sat there looking at me reproachfully! But what to do with them?

The first chilly morning of the autumn came a week or two ago and when I put on my coat to walk the dogs after breakfast I decided it was time to get my gloves out. One pair was in holes and when we got back home the other was soaking wet because it had started to rain. I really need two pairs each winter so that I always have a dry pair. Inspiration!

The pattern I used last time was for DK yarn but looking through my books I found this one I bought second hand at a craft fair a few years ago.

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And in it a pattern for gloves in 4 ply with a fair isle pattern. It is such an old book the pictures are all in black and white!

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Unfortunately for me the pattern said to buy one ball of the background colour and one each of the pattern shades. Clearly it did not takes several balls of yarn to make one pair of gloves! But there I was with an unknown quantity of yarn in each left over ball and an unknown quantity required for the gloves. Hmmm!

Putting different balls side by side I decided to use some plain purple for the unpatterned parts and some self striping blue for the area where the fair isle should go. I rather like the result.

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I still had yarn left over on each ball and would probably have had enough of just one but I think the contrast works rather well. Now I just have to decide whether to make more gloves or find another use for the rest of the yarn. Mrs Snail’s granny squares look nice so maybe….

Scrap Happy August – a gate

It was too wet to work outside and I was struggling to think of something useful for Rob to do under cover when it occurred to me to offer to teach him how to make things out of green wood by us making a gate together. The one to the veg patch was an old one made out of slate lath and whilst it did the job it was not as beautiful or interesting as I wanted it to be.

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When we cut firewood last winter we had stacked some straight logs on the North side of the greenhouse where they would stay cool and slightly damp as material for just such a project.

We selected some pieces that would give us the right lengths and split them with the fro. Half rounds for the frame and eighths for the slats. (And yes the fro is the origin of ‘to and fro’)

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The side axe cleaned them all up a bit and roughly shaped the tenons on each end of the top and bottom rails. More detailed shaping was done with the drawknife on the shave horse.

The only powered tool we used was an electric drill to cut 2 holes for each mortice in the side uprights (which were then chiselled out to make oval holes) and pilot holes for the nails that hold the slats in place. I have since bought an augur bit for cutting the mortices by hand. The skill is in cutting the joints so they all go together smoothly even though the wood is curved and twisted!

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By the end of the day it was all put together. The only money spent was on a pair of new hinges. Not a bad result for a load of firewood!

Scrap Happy is curated by Kate and we all share our projects on the 15th of the month. You can see all the posts by using these links.

Kate, Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline and Sue L (me!)

Scrap Happy July

Or how to be inspired by some-one else’s rubbish!

My neighbour has been doing a lot of work on his house and a large pile of rubble built up on his driveway. Some was taken by builders working on an extension to another house nearby which had to be built up over a slope so they dumped it under the floor. Someone else wanted some to put in a field gate that was very muddy but they never came for it. So most of it just sat there.

Meanwhile I was fed up with the area between the garden around the conservatory and the slope down to the lower garden. It is full of bindweed which makes walking from the deck to the workshop and woodshed hazardous. I found myself detouring through the garden and greenhouse to a better path. Plus the bindweed jumped the timber edge (or tunneled under it) and came up to strangle my plants. I scythed it down but what I needed was a hard path to give it some serious discouragement.

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Brainwave!

I got Rob (who lives in the cabin and works 2 days in place of rent) on the job. First we needed something to contain the rubble. Many years ago John and I bought some heavy lengths of treated timber to build raised beds and there were a few left over. One was still in the car-port. To hold it in place he used some fence pins put aside because they were bent which he cut up into shorter straight pieces. Then I found 2 rolls of mulch fabric in the garden shed which were more than enough to cover the space and be stapled to the sides.

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The next day we scoured the garden for abandoned concrete blocks left over from other projects. There were two stacks on the veg patch smothered in ivy, a few beside the path through the fruit garden, another stack in the old pig sty and several others dotted around the car port and drive area. Those we laid to make the main path. (There are still a few left in the pig sty in case another scrappy project comes along!) Then we filled in with rubble barrowed down from the neighbour’s heap.

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When (When..) we get some rain it will all settle but we did not use all the rubble so we can top it up. And when it finishes settling I will buy (yes, sorry, buy) some sand or gravel to finish the job neatly.

So not quite a totally scrappy job but almost!

Scrap Happy is curated by Kate who blogs as ‘Tall tales from Chiconia’. You can find her and links to all the other happy scrappers here