Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Lucky number 7 - 500th Blog Post Winner!

Thank you to the eleven people who commented on my 500th post to enter the draw for a prize.  I assigned you all a number based on your order in posting and used an online random number generator to pick the winner.

And the winner was lucky number 7:


M, your Blogger profile is set to 'no reply' and is also blocked to viewers so I have no way of getting in touch with you.  Please get in touch so I can send you your prize.

M asked for a quilting or knitting prize, so is a  multi-crafter like me!


Saturday, 16 August 2014

It will all look lovely when it's finished...

If I had £5 for every time someone has told me "it will all look lovely when it's finished", or some variation thereof, I would have a substantial downpayment on a new boiler. At some points it is feeling to me more like "It will be a series of compromises which you will eventually recover from"

Yes, the week started off on a low point when a heating engineer came to inspect the boiler (as a prerequisite to taking out insurance) and promptly condemned as dangerous and shut it down.  Luckily it's August so we don't need heating, and we have an immersion for hot water.  I'm getting quotes on a new boiler and the first quote back is twice as much as I was hoping.

A positive flood of tradesmen poured through the house during the week, leaving us progressively fewer and fewer rooms that were actually usable.  This is how the dining room and lounge looked for two days as the fireplaces were refitted:

And meanwhile my bedroom and the boxroom both looked like this:

The painter was supposed to take three days and hasn't finished yet after five days, partly due to a technical malfunction with the wood paint I had purchased.  Meanwhile all my toiletries etc. were crammed into the ensuite which I was using as a sort of dressing room, and all my clothes were trapped in the wardrobe in the picture so I had to extract each evening what I wanted to wear the next day. I kept forgetting to get my jewellery box out of the wardrobe so ended up wearing the same pair of earrings all week and no watch.

But the bedroom is looking hugely better with its new coat of neutral stone-beige matt paint, and fresh soft white woodwork in eggshell finish.

And the previously broken lounge fireplace is back in place, good as new, and the replacement fireplace in the dining room (genuine Victorian mantle and insert) is a triumph compared to what we started with.

The brass fender isn't fixed yet, it needs to be cut to size and given a good polish.

Meanwhile the kitchen has lurched onwards.  Still no plumber, but the electrician has been twice, the tiler has been (he needs to come back because the electrician had to move some tiles), and the fitter has put all the knobs on the cupboards and mostly finished up.

The kitchen has now been underway for three weeks and I think will hopefully be finished this coming week.  The fitter is supposed to come Monday to finish the floors, and I'm waiting for a call from the kitchen company on when the rest of it is going to be done.  We've bought a new four-panel door (the upper two panels are glazed) which they will hang on the opening between the kitchen and dining room.

On the outside, the scaffolders came back three more days (they ran over by a day) and our house is now completely cradled in scaffolding.  It's weird because we can now walk around it at a high level.  We've been able to pick the dead ivy off the neighbour's wall, which is three stories up in the air, so I won't have to look at that out my bedroom window any more - yay!  This is the view from most of the windows for the next eight weeks:

The outside painter has started painting from the scaffolding already, the roofer has been up to have a look and I'm waiting for his quote, and the brickmason starts repointing in a few weeks.  So it is all coming together, we just need to hang in there and keep hoovering up the dust.

The electrician also did an extra job for me and hung the two hall lights that I purchased optimistically several weeks ago. They look really nice, way better than bare bulbs. That's our fridge freezer waiting patiently in the hallway, and you can see the plastic covers we've taped over the lounge and study doors to try to keep out the dust.

Today we spent the day running around Northamptonshire - first of all to reclamation yards to buy two floorboards to be used hopefully for patching the broken boards in the dining room.  Then to fabric shops looking for upholstery fabric for our dining set and a few other chairs.  We went to a fabulous shop in Northampton called The Mill Shop, who also sell online.  A real Aladdin's cave for furnishing and upholstery fabrics, we will definitely be going back there for more and for curtaining because their prices are amazing.  They had roll ends of upholstery fabric for as little as £2.95 a metre.  They also have a room of lower end craft and quilting fabric but it is pretty normally priced.  I got three metres of upholstery fabric for a chair but couldn't find anything for the other chairs.  I think my taste is out of sync with modern trends, I want something that looks a bit Victorian and a bit faded, probably with a smaller pattern or stripe. The modern taste seems to be all glitz and metallics and loud bold patterns and colours.

Commuter knitting this week was a change in pace because I got so bored knitting the Low Tide Cardigan which is all stockinette in sock weight yarn now. I did a search on Ravelry and purchased the Ruffled and Ruched Scarf pattern by Pam Powers, she was having a 3 for 2 sale. I'm using the Dream in Colour Classy yarn that came in the latest Knitcrate and I've finished the scarf part and now I'm working on the rosette. The pattern is easy but looks great, and I've enjoyed knitting with the thicker yarn.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Project management skills

After the past few weeks, I think I could legitimately add 'Project Manager' to my employment CV.  Particularly on the kitchen where I seem to be doing most of the supervising because the company doesn't seem to be doing much at all.  There's been a good fitter working on the cabinets all week but I've still had to intervene or consult on many issues, including preventing the sink from going in the wrong way round, an extractor fan hole being punched through the wrong wall, the wrong tap being installed, the breakfast bar going in at the wrong height and so forth.  Luckily I was able to be home an extra day this week because my boss let me work from home on Friday for when the scaffolders started work.

But gradually this week, the kitchen that I designed using an Excel spreadsheet (with the cells fixed to act like graph paper) has been taking shape and we're pretty pleased with it.  It was an awkward room particularly as I wanted to fit in a side-by-side American-style fridge freezer which could only go in two locations.  The walls aren't finished yet, nor the floor (although it has been resanded) and the faux-dresser glass doors are on back order until September.  But it's going to look nice. I went to the showroom today and picked out some medium size white porcelain knobs for the cupboards.

Looking from the dining room through the new doorway opening, into the kitchen at the faux-dresser.

Standing in the kitchen doorway, looking past the peninsula at the gap where the fridge-freezer will go

The dining room still looks pretty rough, and behind the camera is the huge pile of discarded kitchen cardboard and scraps of cut-offs etc. At least the fitter hoovered up the giant pile of sawdust from all the cutting he's been doing.

The interior painter is going to start on Monday, painting the only two rooms that are ready which is my bedroom and the box room.  We should have a couple more rooms ready in a few weeks because the fitters have agreed to do some extra jobs putting up picture rail and window trim for me.  But it means more moving of boxes and furniture out of those rooms and squeezing them into other rooms. But once the kitchen is finished then we can move the appliances back in, that are currently sitting in the lounge and the study.  It's all good exercise and even though I've been eating more, I've actually lost another pound this week which is good.

This is our study - currently home to the dishwasher, the hall lights, some dining room furniture, a new mail box, parts for fitting the stove that hasn't been delivered yet, some wood trim for going on windows, tool boxes, and some boxes of files that I don't have anywhere to put yet.

Commuter knitting this week was finishing off the Shetland Lace Stitches Shawl but I can't block it until the home renovations are over.  After that I switched to knitting on the stockinette body of the Low Tide Cardigan but  I'm finding that really dull, it's in sock weight (Regia Silk) and will take forever.

I also finished the Monsieur Bearnard kit that came with Simply Knitting magazine.  To be honest, I didn't really do a good job on him. My tension is never great and the cheap acrylic yarn in the kit made it worse, and I was feeling stressed and distracted which obviously contributed to me not reading the pattern correctly. As a result, Monsieur Bearnard has two right arms instead of a right and left, but I'd already stuffed them both when I realised so I just bent the right arm to make it look more like a left arm.  I gave him away almost immediately he was finished because a few hours later my kitchen fitter got a call from his mate who had just his first child.  Monsieur Bearnard has nothing on him dangerous for babies although his yarn-jointed limbs wouldn't stand up to really rough handling, but it will be several months before the baby can even grasp him so I handed him over to the fitter. The fitter appreciated the gesture but I'm not sure he was that keen on the bear, but hopefully the new parents will like it.

In between making cups of tea for plasterers, fitters, scaffolders etc and project managing, I have managed to finish (finally!) changing addresses following our house move with all and sundry.  There will be a few more to mop up as they arrive in the post via our mail redirection, but it's pretty much done at last.  Amazing how many mailing lists, loyalty schemes, charities, memberships etc. you accumulate in life.  I also fitted a Pulleymaid old fashioned hanging clothes airer in our bathroom for hanging towels on, it looks very appropriate there. Sadly a lot of the stuff from the rooms to be painted will have to be piled in the bathroom for a while, spoiling the look.  One day everything will be back where it belongs!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Through the valley of kitchen despair, and fireworks

After a promising start on Monday when the kitchen company ripped out our old kitchen, smashed out the hideous 40s tiled fireplace, broke through the wall to open up the former doorway into the dining room, and generally created an incredible amount of noise and dust while I holed up in a sealed room across the hall - virtually nothing has happened the rest of the week except aggro.

Tuesday the supervisor showed up for a maximum of 60 minutes of intermittent floor sanding, in between taking calls on his mobile. Wednesday I was at work but he called to say the sanding was done and he would be varnishing on Thursday, but when I got home there were large areas that hadn't been sanded because he was too lazy to get a hand sander out. So all under the radiators, in the corners of the room, in any hollow in our old floor that a big floor sander couldn't reach, was still all black and caked with carpet adhesive, old paint etc.  I was so worried that I got DH to drive me to the store to buy a small sander and I spent 2.5 hours trying to improve the result.

Thursday this guy called to say he had put two coats of finish on the kitchen floor and that I might think it was a bit dark.  I questioned why he was finishing the floor at all when the walls hadn't been plastered and the big gaps in the floor hadn't been patched in yet but he was all 'I know what I'm doing, don't worry your non-builder little head' tone of voice.  Then when I got home after knitting group, my kitchen floor is a dark reddy brown which might look nice if we lived in a Tudor cottage but is totally unsuitable to my chosen blue-painted country kitchen.  I emailed my concerns and called the next morning from work, and didn't really get anywhere with him except an agreement to re-sand the floor next week as the plasterers were coming in later.

Saturday the electrician showed up in the morning, and reported that the plasterers had filled in all the channels in the wall that he had carefully carved out on Monday, and then asked me where he should put the ceiling lights and the extractor fan wiring.  With DH about to blow a fuse himself, we drove down to the kitchen company and asked what the heck was going on and why was no-one supervising the job properly???  To do them justice, the boss' son-in-law came straight back with us and gave the electrician his required information, and inspected our concerns.  We are now told that the boss will be taking over the job directly, cutting out the (useless) supervisor, and that things will get back on track next week. They agree the floor hasn't been sanded properly and are promising everything will be put right.

Thankfully we are fairly comfortable in our temporary kitchen in the basement but there is a lot of money at stake and I was beginning to wonder if we were at the mercy of cowboys. Time will tell.
The red-brown floor, after it had been ruined anyway by the plasterers

Meanwhile, also this week we have had to keep our bedrooms fairly empty and the furniture moved into the middle of the room so that a different lot of plasterers could get on with installing plaster cornicing.  They haven't given any trouble and we are really pleased with the result - the bedrooms look so much more elegant and the cornice looks like it has always been there. It looked strange before to have high ceilings but no trim where the walls met the ceiling.

BEFORE: no cornice

AFTER: lovely plaster cornice

Before this I've only ever installed cornice in my dollshouses so it feels a bit strange to be doing it in 1:1 scale!  This room, like all the rooms, will be painted.  I've already since taking the BEFORE picture painted my bedroom fireplace gloss white since it will be decorative rather than functional. The white paint really shows off the scrollwork of the cast iron.


Last night we went to the Firework Championships at Stanford Hall, which is about a 40 minute drive away. A lady in my knitting group had recommended it, and we really enjoyed it.  I'd been dreading it all day because the weather was terrible: grey and raining so hard that one point we were trapped in our car in Tesco's parking lot for 5 minutes waiting for it to abate.  It was still spitting rain at 6pm when I was packing our picnic, but miraculously we drove into clear blue skies and the evening was perfect for fireworks: clear sky and no wind.  There was quite a big crowd, all camped out with folding chairs and tables, eating their picnics and quite a holiday atmosphere.  We found a good spot and enjoyed our copious picnic, then listened to the music while we all waited for it to get dark.  From about 9:45pm, three teams fired a 10-minute display each, timed to music. Then the crowd could vote on their favourite by text while the organisers fired another 10-minute display. Parts of each display were really wonderful, much better than the usual 'lots of bangs that don't sync at all with the music' displays.  Quite an enjoyable evening and I shall always expect in future to watch fireworks comfortably from a chair while wrapped up warm in fleece blankets.

On the craft front

I went down to Fibre East in Ampthill last Sunday for a couple of hours.  It's mainly a shopping show and there were tons of stands to look at both inside and outside in marquees. I had a good look and lots of yarn fondling, but my only purchase was a bargain buy on the Texere stand. They were selling a 'mystery yarn' in 70% silk, 30% cotton that a 'major well known manufacturer' had rejected because the skeins had become tangled while being dyed and thus couldn't be skeined.  It was of course Rowan Summer Tweed, a yarn I really like, so at the bargain price of around £2 per 50g I bought a sweater's worth in purple and a lesser amount of blue.

I also came across a machine knitting instructor who is based in Northampton, not too far from me. I took her details because eventually when I get my machines set up I could probably benefit from some coaching. As well as being very out of practice, I've never really gotten to grips with my ribber and haven't tried lace at all apart from using the lace carriage to transfer stitches for a picot hem.

I'm casting off my Shetland lace stitches shawl after knitting a border based on the Holden Shawlette pattern. This yarn, Zitron Filigran, has surprisingly long colour runs, so my shawl started out in lighter blues, progressed to darker blues, and now just as I am casting off it is getting lighter again.  Of course, it doesn't look like anything until it gets blocked.

I've finished knitting my Colourwork Baby Jumper but I can't block it with all the dust floating around the house so instead I have started the Monsier Bearnard teddy bear kit which came with Simply Knitting magazine.  I'm enjoying it but I think I am going to run out of the gold yarn which seems to have happened to other readers as well.  I could apply for more but I will look first to see if I have anything in my stash to match.

This decrepit table and somewhat battered chairs are going to be our new dining suite - we bought them today at a warehouse and they are going to be refinished so they will look a lot better when they are delivered in six weeks.The table is fully extended with two leaves in the picture - we will normally use it without the leaves when it will seat six. It's challenging buying furniture for a room which currently is painted the wrong colour, and has a half sanded floor and a gaping hole where the fireplace should be. But we also bought a bookcase from the same warehouse which will be a china cupboard between the windows of the same room.  I hope it is all going to look nice and that we don't get buyers' remorse.  I just couldn't find any modern dining suites that I liked that I thought would suit the room.  Antique furniture just seems such better value than buying new, or at least it does now that we don't want to go the IKEA route that has been our mainstay over the last 30 years.

Soon the scaffolders will start erecting scaffolding around the entire house, and once that's up the painter can finish the outside woodwork and our chimneys will be lined and our fireplaces put back in. I'm still waiting for quotes on the outside masonry work and the guttering - I hope the numbers aren't going to make me regret buying the dining room furniture...

Saturday, 26 July 2014

My house is a storage warehouse

I'm blogging tonight even though I'm going to Fibre East in Ampthill tomorrow, because so much has been happening this week I shall forget it all if I don't write it down.

Don't forget that I'm running a 500th post giveaway - only five people have entered so far by commenting on my 500th post so there is an excellent chance of winning.  I will run the competition for a month until 19 August to allow intermittent blog readers (like myself) to catch up and enter.

Sunday we had tickets for what used to be called 'The Festival of History' at Kelmarsh Hall but is now 'History Live' - basically English Heritage hosting a bunch of volunteer re-enactors who get to run big pitched display battles and shop from each other in the marketplace, while camping overnight and generally having a good time.  All good fun and lots of explosions, plus the chance to see a jumble of historical figures strolling around.  Quite amusing to see a well-dressed Regency miltary officer and his glamorous wife fingering the beads being hawked by a Victorian street seller, while behind them a Roman soldier and his Viking friend look over the woollen goods being sold by Anglo-saxon ladies etc. It was really big this year, there must have been over 100 tents and four display grounds plus lectures going on in the members' tent, catering, static displays etc.  DH watched three battles in a row but I got a bit bored after the first one and went round the marketplace instead. I bought two yards of thick wool fabric from one of the cloth traders which I will use to pad my new homemade ironing board when that gets built, and also some embroidered taffeta because it was so pretty.

Monday was the big day, when this pulled up in front of the house (parking in the six reserved parking bays that we had to pay £110 to the Council to secure). It's called a 'road train' which is a big lorry pulling a big trailer.

Yes, our possessions finally came out of storage!  It took them about four hours to unload it all and stash it around the house.  I had done a careful plan of where things should go, labelled each room with the code letters for the boxes that were going there, even posted up floor plans and gave a copy to the supervisor - and they still bunged stuff at random everywhere.  For the first few hours I was asking them to correctly move things to the right room, then I gave up.  So Monday night when DH got home, we spent the evening moving boxes around to get things to the right floor, and Friday night we spent another two hours going through the huge pile in the cellar, fishing out the wild cards and carrying them around the house to where they should be.  It's still chaos though.

The cellar:

What will eventually be my dollhouse room

My sewing room

Some of my quilts coming back

The chap taking photographs in the road train picture is not an amazed bystander, he's one of two scaffolders who came that day to quote me on scaffolding the house.  I chose him in the end because our (possible) builder recommended him, and the scaffolding will go up in about three weeks.

While we were waiting for the removals lorry to arrive, I harnessed the Power of the Teenager who voluntarily set to work assembling my Lego haunted mansion that I bought over a year ago (which had gone straight into storage).  The level of detail on this model is amazing, it has a mansard roof, opening doors, a folding loft staircase, furniture, inhabitants, and really great little vignettes like a phonograph player, an inkwell with a quill pen etc. I'm really pleased with it both from a dollshouse point of view and as a lover of Halloween.  The ghosts even glow in the dark!  I'm glad he put it together though - the instructions spanned three volumes although he said it was very straightforward.  Now I just have to find somewhere to put it where it won't get smashed during the long wait for normality to resume.

On Tuesday I had a gas engineer for two hours in the morning, carrying out some remedial work recommended in our pre-buying survey.  Then - hooray - the Sky engineer came back only thankfully it was a younger guy this time who just got on with it and put the satellite dish up in the garden without arguing or sucking his teeth like the first guy did.  So we finally have TV again, and Sky now lets you download box sets for free so we are catching up on Mad Men season 6.

Tuesday afternoon the kitchen company project manager came by for the last visit before work starts next week.  So today we have gotten very hot and sweaty tramping up and down the stairs, moving everything out of the kitchen and down to our temporary camp kitchen in the laundry room.  Apart from the dishwasher which is still running, and the fridge which is a problem I couldn't face today.  Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday to Friday were work days, and very busy too, but I found time to look up garden designers, confirm the scaffolding, confirm the fireplace guys, builder and outside painter to come and use the scaffolding, and work out a plan with the inside painter for when he will be able to come in.

Today I squeezed in another Annie Sloan chalk painting course which was quite fun and I bought the paint that I will use on the laundry cupboard we found on the antiques weekend.  Then we rushed home to look for tiles for the kitchen, visiting four DIY and tile shops to find a stunning lack of choice.  I've settled for a rustic white tile with some accent tiles in a duck egg blue which will hopefully set off the cabinets nicely.  Only of course, once we finally made up our minds, B&Q were out of the blue tiles.  According to the website, there are some at B&Q in Northampton so DH will have to go over there tomorrow while I am at Fibre East.  As well as moving the kitchen downstairs, we've also cleared out the room that will be the dining room but in the meantime was a repository for all manner of junk including the new appliances waiting for the kitchen.  The kitchen fitter will be knocking through the wall to open up an old doorway between the kitchen and dining room, and refinishing the floors in both rooms.  We are going to be so broke after all of this.

I had a nice surprise in Friday's post which was my latest delivery from Knit Crate.  This time it was two luscious skeins of Dream in Colour 'Classy', a worsted yarn, in 'Callous Pink' which is actually more of a purple and I love it.  So smooshy as well. The other included treats were some delicious biscuits and an electronic row counter that fits on your finger - very clever although I probably won't use it myself.

Commuter knitting this week has been the Shetland lace stitches shawl which is almost finished, only a half a repeat left on the border chart.  TV knitting has been the little colourwork baby jumper.  I spent a couple of evenings just darning in all the ends and now I am knitting the second sleeve.

Tomorrow I am off to Fibre East in Ampthill for some well deserved R&R, before coming back to finish clearing the kitchen plus we have to clear the clutter from the bedrooms because on Monday the plasterers are coming to restore the missing cornice.  Builders and workmen everywhere, and in a few weeks they will be able to look in the upstairs windows once the scaffolding is up as well.  I'm bracing myself for all the dust...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Norfolk Broads and the big 500

Edited to add:  When I published this post, Blogger said it was my 500th post!  Hard to believe that when Swooze got me started on this blogging lark back in 2007 that I would keep going this long.  To mark my bloggiversary, I must have a giveaway.

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment on this post by 19 August for an entry into my 500th Post Giveaway - and tell me whether you would prefer a knitting prize, a quilting prize or a dollshouse prize. 

 I will pick a name at random from everyone who leaves  a comment - you have a good chance of winning because I don't have many regular commenters!!  Actual sending of the prize might have to wait until I can unpack some of my relevant hobby stash from storage, but I will contact the winner to arrange delivery - make sure I can email you as some people have their Blogger profile set to 'no email'. Good luck!!


We've just come back from a week's holiday in Norfolk, staying on the edge of the Broads in a little coastal village called Winterton-on-Sea which is north of Great Yarmouth. The Norfolk Broads to me are inextricably linked to the Arthur Ransome books about children exploring and sailing there  (part of the 'Swallows and Amazons' series) but rather depressingly when I mentioned this fact at work to my much-younger colleagues, I received a blank look from all but one because apparently I am officially too old and the books I devoured as a child are now more ancient than dinosaur bones.

We had a lovely week and were very lucky with the weather, as it only got ferociously hot towards the end of the week before turning into big thunderstorms on our last night.  DS came too on the promise that he didn't have to go sightseeing and that there would be broadband.  We kept our promise, so he was very pleased with his holiday as he spent almost the entire week at the kitchen table in the cottage, gaming with friends online.  He did come out for a morning of canoeing on the Broads with us, we made it from Sutton Staithe to Wayford Bridge and back (6 miles) without capsizing  and with minimal blisters.  He even went swimming in the sea with DH, which was more than I was prepared to do as it was too cold and too windy for me, although I did enjoy sitting on the beach.

When we arrived in Winterton, the first thing I did was walk back to the Village Hall where the thriving local quilt group was having an exhibition.  I liked this tabletopper by Pat whose blurb said the pattern came from America - I shall have to look for it.

I also liked this Kaffe Fassett design made by Lynne from the book Quilt Romance. She said in her blurb that the fabrics are Rose Parade by Moda.

The rest of the week we went out exploring every day and saw lots of great things, had some lovely meals, and did fairly well for shopping as well.  Norwich takes the prize for craft shops as they had no less than three knitting shops:  Crafty Ewe and Norfolk Yarns which were good sized knitting shops with a good range of yarns, and a large stall in Norwich Market selling a range of acrylic yarns. I had a good look but didn't buy anything apart from some pretty blue buttons in Norfolk Yarns. Norwich seems to be a lovely historic town and we would like to go back for a weekend some time and visit more of the sights and museums. Also in Norwich is Sew Creative but we visited their larger shop in Wroxham Barns which stocks a  big selection of quilting fabrics - I enjoyed picking out a few fabrics which I hope will make good accent cushions for our new window seat cushion.

We had an enjoyable morning in Great Yarmouth, shunning the tacky seaside amusements in favour of the excellent museums:  Time and Tide where they had adult dressing up clothes - yay! and we learned all about the history of the herring fisheries, the Potteries museum across the street in a delicious-smelling old herring smokehouse, the English Heritage Row House and Merchant's House, and the Nelson museum. The Silver Darling cafe at the Time and Tide museum had stunningly good food, with probably the best creme brulee either of us has ever had in our lives - all handmade in house by the Portuguese owners.

Living out my Victorian seaside dreams

We even picked up a few more things for the house:  an Arts and Crafts end table for the living room from Norwich, and a nice carved mirror from an antiques fair which will probably go in the hall.

We spent most afternoons lounging at the cottage or in its garden.  I had taken my iPad so was able to catch up on blogs and Craftsy classes, and of course I had taken my knitting.  I did a little work on my next GAAA square, and in the car I was knitting more on my Shetland stitches shawl.  But mainly I was working on a little baby jumper using some yummy ice-cream sparkle yarn I picked up at my LYS called 'Ella' by Sirdar (49% cotton, 48% acrylic, 3% polyester).  It's nice to knit with, and using a basic jumper pattern I made up this little colourwork design.  I did a corrugated rib and then some gingham checks alternating with stripes.

On the way home we stopped at a very strange shop at the Snetterton Race Track which bills itself as the 'biggest model shop in the world', Snetterton Park Models.  I mention it because they did sell dollshouse items (mostly cheaper end stuff), useful terrain items, Zap a Gap and other modelling items like epoxies and fillers, a big range of Christmas cottage models, and quite a lot of toy forts and so forth that could be repurposed.  But visiting is a very strange experience: the shop is enormous, straggling through several connected sheds, and most of the stock is locked behind glass cabinet doors with no staff in sight to help you. In between the glass cabinets are enormous displays, really enormous, like fifty foot long Duplo scenes or 150 foot long model train set ups, which makes it feel more like a museum than a shop.  The lighting is poor and coupled with the completely deserted rooms, it felt a bit like we had strayed into a closed museum.  It certainly wasn't conducive to buying although I did pick up some Fimo and a scrapbook album in the arts and crafts rooms.  But then you have to walk all the way back to the entrance (a long way!) to pay for things.  I have no idea how they stay in business.  Perhaps they get big crowds on race days, or sell a lot online.

It's nice to be home, although the previous owners' population of cat fleas had bred with a vengeance and attacked us immediately even though I had sprayed yet again before we went away.  We sprayed the worst rooms again today - if we keep spraying eventually we will get them all, unless we succumb to poisoning first ourselves from the spray. I've got a busy few days ahead: our possessions are finally coming out of storage this week (hurrah! but boo, there is nowhere to put most of them) and various tradespeople are trooping through for quotations.  I did find it hard to completely relax while we were on holiday because my mind kept worrying at various issues to do with the house.

Hope you are all enjoying your summers and have holidays planned or already taken.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Hooray!! Broadband at last (and piccies)

Two days after it was promised, we have broadband at last.  And none too soon because I had to resort to going to bed early last night because I couldn't take any more angst from my overwrought teenager who had nothing to live for (according to him) without broadband. No amount of pep talks or tough love would snap him out of it, so I had to remove myself before I snapped.

So I can finally show some piccies of what I've mentioned in my last few posts - excuse the poor quality of some of them taken quickly with a flash this evening.

Big Eucalyptus tree BEFORE - never should have been planted in a town garden as it was well on its way to growing into an 85 foot high monster

AFTER - all gone and the garden feels much bigger

BEFORE - original Victorian fireplace all broken by someone inserting a gas fire in the 1970s

AFTER - marble mantle removed, and the cast iron insert gone off to the spa for some pampering

The Arts and Crafts cupboard we bought - now gone to hospital for the upper galleries to be restored

My walnut compactum wardrobe (all these rooms will be re-painted)

My 'pot cupboard' nightstand

The Wiernacke bookcase - hopefully going to keep my china and smaller dollshouses dust free

Our linen cupboard (I'm probably going to paint this)

The lace yokes from my Low Tide cardigan when they were blocking

My knitting room in progress with the Expedit shelves under the eaves

My vanilla socks - fairly well matched

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