Sunday, 4 October 2015

I hope this is good news

I found out on Monday that I have been conditionally offered the job I interviewed for a few weeks ago. I'm quite surprised given how many dozens if not hundreds of people took part in the testing session, plus as I stated in a previous post, competency interviews are not my strong point.  So it felt quite good to be one of the selected ones although it's not a done deal until they complete all the background checks. The start date will be mid November.

One of the best parts is that it got me out of attending Team Hell Day this coming week, because I told my boss that it was very likely I would be giving notice soon and therefore I didn't feel comfortable going to a session that was all about bonding and planning for the future when I wasn't ready to tell people yet that I was probably leaving in a few weeks. He was quite understanding, I'm not the first nor even the second team member to be leaving because of jobhunting that we all started back during the redundancies, plus I have a fairly long and expensive commute into London.

I feel taking the new job is the right thing to do for several reasons but somewhere in the back of my brain a little voice is screaming about failure and being too old to learn a new job and not enough stamina to work four busy days a week when I've only been doing three easy days for so long.  I'm trying to ignore the little voice and concentrate on the benefits.

Craft Day

On Tuesday I happened to not have any commitments and I decided that if I wasn't going to have many more free Tuesdays, then I wanted to really commit to crafts all day and not get distracted by mundane concerns like laundry and email.  So I set myself an unofficial timetable.

I started out slowly, waking up in front of the telly while I finished off a knitted mouse for our cat Oreo for 30 minutes.  Needless to say, she had no interest in it whatsoever at the time - since then she has once or twice deigned to bat it around for a few seconds.

Still in the living room, I spent the next hour stitching on my next hand applique block for my 25-block applique quilt, stitching down some stems for the flower wreath.

Then I popped out to the grocery store to pick up some milk chocolate and some treats for lunch.  I melted the chocolate to dip in my second-ever batch of Cake Pops, which I decorated with sprinkles.  I find these American treats very rich and a bit cloying, but DH and DS thought they were wonderful.

Then of course I had to eat a cake pop and have a cup of tea for elevenses  :)

Next I did some more bobbin lace which was still out on the dining table from my Monday group meeting.  I've made some mistakes on this Bucks Point motif but I feel like it's going better. It's still very slow, I only get about half as much done in an hour compared to Torchon lace but that's partly because the threads are finer.

Then it was 1pm and I had lunch.  After lunch I headed down to the dollshouse room where I spent the next 2.5 hours quite happily.  I tidied up after the big magazine sort out of last week, and then I tackled the desk drawer problem.  I solved it pretty much as Swooze had suggested: by moving the leg of the worktop desk out of the way, and cutting a slice out of the IKEA desk drawer so it can open underneath the worktop desk.

I want to go through my entire collection and sort out all the outstanding issues and winnow down some of the things I don't want any longer.  For example, I threw out two decaying cardboard beach huts left over from a long ago club project when we all contributed to a big beach scene.  I harvested useful items from the contents first.  Then I examined a kitchen project I made at the Gulf South minis show in New Orleans back in 2003. I had been thinking I might get rid of it as well but I discovered one of the reasons it looked so dingy was that the plastic front had discoloured to amber.  When I removed that, the whole scene looked a lot fresher and I remembered how much fun I had making it. So I made a new 'glass' front from plexiglass, and also gave it a label to explain that it was made from all the kits and giveaways from the show.  I also made a new 'glass' front for a quilting room box that had never had a proper cover. Time just flew by and I was quite surprised to see that 2.5 hours had elapsed.

After that I felt like I had been inside too long so I headed out to the garden and spent an hour or so planting more of the 400 bulbs from the collection I bought.  I've planted 50 crocuses, 50 Anenome de Caen, 100 Oxalis and about 50 Allium Molly so I hope that at least some of them come up in the spring. I generally have very bad luck with bulbs and all the hard work to plant them is just wasted.

I was tired after that so I sat down in front of the computer and watched craft videos while I worked on my cross stitch.  In fact, I've done a fair bit of cross stitch this week because DS set me up on his Netflix account and I've been bingewatching Season 3 of a so-bad-it's-good fantasy called 'Once Upon A Time' on the PC. It only went to Season 2 in the UK and then it was dropped from the schedule, but meanwhile in America I think it's on Season 5.

Then I had to stop and make supper, but after supper I headed down to the sewing room and cut out backs for all three table runners and sandwiched them up with batting.  I'm going to do the pillowcase method and turn them through before I quilt them.  In my experience, finishing placemats with bias binding inevitably leads to the mat not laying flat because over time and washing, the different thickness and grain of the edging behaves differently than the main body of the placemat.  So the last set I made I turned through and just quilted and they've held up very well through several washes.

I also stitched a new cover for my Filofax diary, which may be old-fashioned but remains vital to the smooth running of my life.  I made the new cover out of printed 'patched' fabric but used the old one as a pattern.  You can see that it is all cut in one piece from stiff doublesided fusible pelmet interfacing, lined on one side, and the main fabric taken over the edge and hemmed down by machine. I also stitch by machine along the fold lines, then I fold it up and hand-stitch it into a little book cover shape. You can see how worn out and dirty the old cover is, but it lasted eight years quite well.

The rest of the week

The rest of the week hasn't been as crafty due to work etc.  I did finish knitting all five pieces of the lining for the vintage handbag.  That's all the components knitted now so I need to start assembling the handbag.

I also finished all the knitting on my Fingerless Gloves and I'm just stitching in the ends now.

I got a new bin for my knitting room - how cool is this?  It's from Lakeland Limited and is made from moulded plastic.

Today we took DS back to university, so the house is ours again.  I asked him to tidy up his room before he left, so we can use it as a guest room.  Superficially it looked tidy until you got down and looked under the furniture, where it was armageddon with dusty bunnies on top.

Yesterday we went to the Peterborough Festival of Antiques. I thought it would be a nice day out but in fact it was so big that it was quite overwhelming.  It's not as big as the Newark fair, but we can't go to that one because it's on weekdays.  At Peterborough we thought we would do the outside stalls first as it was a nice day.That took three hours because we kept thinking we were done, and then we'd come around the corner of a building and see another field full of them.  The inside part of the fair stretches across four buildings at the East of England showgrounds, any one of which would qualify as a big fair just on its own.  It was too much for DH and he had to go sit in the car but I soldiered on.  It wasn't all quality antiques, there was a fair bit of 'collectables' so for example if you were a Moorcroft collector you had your choice of likely 30 stalls specialising in Moorcroft alone.  I found that because of there being so much choice, it actually made me feel like I didn't want to buy anything, because nothing seemed special and my brain was just overloading.  However I did get some silver polish, brass polish, and a small bottle of leather conditioner for the leather handbag I want to make. And we found a nice pair of brass candlesticks for the dining room.

The only other thing I bought was a Victorian mahogany button back upholstered chair. I had admired it on one of the outside stalls in the morning, and it was still there in late afternoon when he was packing up. So after a bit of negotiation I got it for a very cheap price and I quite like it. It does need reupholstering which will add to the cost, but it suits the period of our house and looks nice in the lounge, and it's comfortable - with arms low enough that you can knit in it, an important criterion :)  The dealer said that antiques are going so cheaply at the moment because the Europeans and Americans aren't coming over to buy the way they used to. So it's a good time to buy, before prices start picking up again if the foreign shoppers come back.  I paid £110 for the chair, and as DH said, you can't even get a cheap upholstered armchair from IKEA for that.  Even after the costs of re-upholstery, it will still be cheaper than some of the IKEA armchairs and will be a beautiful antique that should last for another  150 years hopefully.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Summer is over

We noticed today that there are dead leaves all over the front lawn, and it's so chilly in the evenings that we have had to break down and put the heating on for a few hours just to take the chill off. And while it was a lovely sunny weekend, it was only about 16 degrees in the shade so you definitely needed a jumper.

It was quite chilly in the Bede House in Higham Ferrers, a medieval building where a friend and I went to view the Higham Ferrers patchwork and quilting exhibition today.  Not very big, but it had some lovely pieces in it.  I think my favourite was a very simple quilt of large squares, mostly 30s repros and ginghams. It was only quilted in the ditch, but the colour selection was brilliant, very vintage and Brambly Hedge. There was a lovely display of mini quilts made by members of a Flickr group called Mini Mania which I shall have to look up, apparently they set monthly challenges for members so there were different interpretations of the same patterns in the display. There was also quite an intriguing display of fabric interpretations of famous paintings, all displayed in identical wooden frames next to photos of the originals.

On the other hand, when I was out in full sunshine planting bulbs in the garden this afternoon, it was really quite hot. I had a pack of 30 tulip bulbs, and a bumper pack of about 400 small bulbs.  Needless to say I only managed to plant about 100 of them before I was exhausted, it's quite hard work digging six inch holes and trying to avoid existing plants and root balls. I'll have to try to do more tomorrow.

Dollshouse room

I've continued to work on the dollshouse room this week, and also on renovating the French scene which is now done.

I unpacked all my books and magazines, and sorted all the magazines by year. These are mostly old Nutshell News, Miniature Collector and American Miniaturist.

DS put together two more bookcases for me, so they all store neatly onto those.

And I made a shelf to fit over my workdesk to hold frequently used tools.  I put it fairly high up so I have room to turn houses around on the desk without hitting the shelf.

For the French scene, I made replacements for the missing chimneys. The two chimneys in the lefthand column are the originals, the other four are my replacements. The chimney pots are made from painted dressmaking eyelets.

I went ahead and broke out the discoloured old plastic windows on the ground floor, only dislodging a few diners and their tables and chairs.  I cut new windows from clear acrylic 'glass' and fitted them, so you can see inside now to see all the detail of the restaurants.  I tried to take a picture to show you but the camera can't focus sufficiently.  I also bought some more railway people in HO scale, and repainted their clothing to tone down the bright colours, and gave them a dirty 'wash' so that they would match the vintage figures better, and glued them onto the scene to replace some of the missing figures.

It all looks pretty good now.  DH still doesn't like it, but I do. It is just such a stereotype of 'Frenchness' and I love all the work that someone put into it a long time ago.  It's in our hallway on top of our coat bench.

This week I tried out my nearest dollshouse club, which is a small and friendly group about a 20 minute drive away.  They were very welcoming so I have paid up to join for a year to give them a try. I'm not sure what the standard is, but it was nice to be amongst fellow enthusiasts again and I found out about a dollshouse show coming up in Market Harborough which we can drive to.


I finished the Witch's Hat, complete with embroidered spiders web.  It fits fairly well, perhaps a bit loose but then I'll only be wearing it one night a year. I might put a bit of stuffing in the tip to plump it up a bit.

My Fingerless Gloves commuter knitting has progressed to two completed gloves with all four fingers done, and I'm just starting the first thumb.  I need to choose the section of the colourway so that the thumb matches in with the palm colours.

TV knitting has been knitting the lining pieces for the Pointless vintage handbag, the one that I made the daisies for.  There are five lining pieces, I'm on my third.


I joined in with a bit of a Sew-Along online last night which was part of the Cozy Afternoon BOM, and got three hours of sewing done which was really nice.  I finished block 5 of the BOM.

And I put together all three table runners and put borders on them.  The long one is for us and has a brown check border.  The two smaller ones are gifts and have an autumn leaves print border. This has been a good stashbusting project.

Other stuff and Creative Bug review

I did a bit more cross stitch this week while I was watching videos on a free trial of a new video tutorial site called Creative Bug. The free trial gives you unlimited access for a month, plus one class to keep forever. I chose a class on making a leather totebag as my keeper, because I had seen some cheap pieces of leather in our local bric-a-brac store (I have subsequently gone and bought a piece of blue leather which I think is big enough to make a bag from).

I enjoyed watching through several videos but found that the site suffers in comparison to Craftsy. Classes are shorter and more of them seem aimed at complete beginners, and production values are not as high as Craftsy. Presenters also seem less slick, so presumably aren't getting as much coaching as Craftsy gives to their presenters. Editing could be improved, a lot of time is wasted for example watching a woman sand a cupboard and a coffee table in the refinishing furniture class, when I think Craftsy would have shown it once and said 'now keep doing that until the piece is sanded'. I did enjoy a one-hour t-shirt tutorial which I have printed the pattern off for and might try. There is a short class on choosing leather for projects which was useful as background to my leather bagmaking class. One thing the site does have which I don't think I've seen on Craftsy are 'Work-Alongs' which seem to be classes split up into weekly stages where you can do the project along with the instructor. As I explored the site, I was continually annoyed by the inability to view a full list of classes on screen - it will only show you one screen at a time and you have to keep clicking on 'Load More' to view the next screen.

Subscription is fairly cheap at $4.95 a month, and they seem to have plans to add more classes regularly.  I don't think I would subscribe, there wasn't enough content to interest me. But interesting to see an alternative to Craftsy.

Hope you had a crafty week also!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

At last, something that's not falling apart in middle age

I had my eye test this week, bracing myself for more depressing news about how everything is breaking down and getting worse with middle age. To my astonishment, he said the reason I've had trouble seeing things clearly is that my eyes have actually gotten better! This means my glasses are now too strong, which is why they weren't really helping me to see my bobbin lace etc. So I need new lenses. The only downside is I will have to do without glasses altogether for 7-10 days  while they re-glaze my frames.

On the bobbin lace, I finished my second sample of Bucks Point lace. I feel I am grasping the principles but still making mistakes, and my picots are still pretty mediocre.  I've now started a third sample which is like a small bookmark.  I started it on Saturday while attending a Lace Day near Olney. These are quite fun: a whole day doing bobbin lace (or knitting or whatever else people bring along), with two lace suppliers, a big secondhand stall, refreshments, a raffle, and friendly company.  I bought a little book on Bucks Point lace, some more blue film for covering prickings, a pin pusher, and some finer pins which are making it much easier to see what I am doing on this finer lace.

Commuter knitting has been the Fingerless Gloves.  There has been a certain amount of un-knitting as I work out a pattern to suit my hand, but I'm almost finished the first glove. I wound off some yarn to break the colour sequence, so that the fingers will all be blue. I started the second glove already and am almost up to the fingers. I was able to start in pretty much the same place in the colour sequence so the gloves will be quite similar. I'm making the fingers quite long for extra warmth.

I've knit the witch's hat - this is just pinned together for a picture as I still need to embroider the spider's web on it before I sew it up.  I am planning to wear this on Halloween.

In the dollshouse room, I've started renovating the battered French scene that I bought at an antiques fair a few years ago.  It's pretty grimy, and is missing various chimneys and people. I think it must have once been on display rather than part of a railway set up. It's been designed so that the light will shine through the rooms from one side to the other, and all the shops and restaurants are furnished inside with a lot of detail.  You can hardly see inside now because the plastic they used for glass on the ground floor has become very dark with age - I'm considering replacing it so you can see the interiors but I don't want to cause more damage trying to break it out.

The dark film over everything didn't yield to water, nor to white spirit. But I tried sugar soap wipes which claim to contain a powerful degreaser, and they started making inroads on the grime.  I can't rub too hard or the paint starts coming off, but you can see on the right that it is a lighter colour on the yellow base than on the left.

The wipes also worked on the green and white awnings which look a lot brighter now.  I've used a cotton bud dipped in sugar soap to clean into the nooks and crannies, and to wipe down windows. I'm going to take one of the broken people to the railway shop and see if they sell the same scale - I think they are Prieser figures or similar. I am planning to make replacement chimneys as well.

Earlier in the week on my days off, I finished piecing the chains of Friendship Braid segments and have joined together the first small table runner / mat.  These aren't really my colours but I think my m-i-l will like hers. I need to sew together the other two runners and put a narrow border around them all.  I don't want to buy anything as this is a stashbusting exercise, so the borders will likely be brown rather than anything exciting.

Today we did loads of digging in the garden: uprooting a six-foot bay tree and a seven-foot weeping cherry tree to make room for the Photinia tree I've ordered. And before we could dig up the trees, we had to dig up and temporarily pot about  ten perennial plants that were growing underneath them. We also had to dig up a patch of Rudbeckia (michaelmas daisy) to make a hole to replant the bay tree, and cut down three sunflower plants to dig a hole to replant the cherry tree.  Altogether including cleanup it took about 2.5 hours and I was absolutely knackered afterwards - I'm still feeling stiff now. But now we are all ready to plant the new tree when it arrives in a few weeks, and hopefully the transplanted trees will get sufficiently established before the winter (and not die).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

House progress

I don't feel like I've done a lot of craft this week, between job interviews and mundane life interfering: boiler service, kitchen fitter sorting plinth out, brickie and labourer outside, and of course work.

However it does feel like there has been progress on the house front.  The brickie is really doing a great job of rescuing a wall that some of the builders quoting on it just wanted to tear down and start over.  Crumbling buttresses have been straightened, ancient ivy roots removed, and friable frost damaged bricks removed and replaced with reclaimed substitutes in better shape. A lot of repointing has taken the place of what was essentially dirt and gravel in between courses of brick.  He's done the lower half of the wall, up to about five feet high, and this coming week there will be scaffolding to boost him up to tackle the upper six to eight feet.

The kitchen fitter sent his fitting partner around who did a brilliant job cutting up a decor panel into superwide skinny polygons to create plinth which could cope with the sloping floor.  The dollshouse room is essential finished now (apart from I still haven't sorted the desk issue out and I need to scrub the floor). One day I will possibly get carpet laid but for now I put back down some grotty carpet that came with the house (after I took this pic).

So I've started unpacking my final dollshouse, the biggest one, which I've nicknamed the Vic-war-gency house because it is rather a muddle of eras inside.  As you can see, there is a lot of tissue paper to fish out!

I haven't had simultaneous time and energy to actually do anything on miniatures this week, but looking forward to getting back into it.


Remember this?

Well, now it looks like this:

Yes, I frogged the gradient shawl.  I realised I would be too embarrassed to wear it in public where a knitter might see the horribly wobbly stitches my erratic tension produced in this unforgiving and not that nice to knit with yarn.  Also, it had turned out to be a wide shallow crescent, a shape that I find least useful in a shawl because it doesn't drape around my neck very attractively and doesn't cover much other than my shoulders if I drape it across my back.  I've had a few furtive looks on Ravelry at work for an alternative use for 425m of gradient fingerweight yarn, and meanwhile I have dampened it and weighted it to take out some of the kinks while it dries.

Meanwhile, I've started knitting a witch's hat for Halloween, using a pattern from Let's Knit magazine.  For commuter knitting, I had finished all the daisies...

... so I've started a pair of fingerless gloves riffing off a pattern from Ann Budd's Handy Book of Knitting Patterns and some Opal Harry Potter Yarn in the colourway Ron and Harry.  Love knitting with this stuff and seeing the patterns emerge.  It's not soft enough for my sensitive neck for a shawl for example, but fine for socks or gloves and it's quite hardwearing.

I'm also still knitting occasionally on the Rowan Summer Tweed Cardigan, I'm just finishing the second front then will start knitting up the back from the armholes.

Other crafts

Not a lot this week.  I have progressed the second sample of  Bucks Point bobbin lace. I'm having trouble seeing what I'm doing clearly enough with the finer thread.  I definitely notice that just over this year (since I started doing bobbin lace, hmmmm) my ability to focus on things within 50cm seems to have disappeared.  I'm getting my eyes checked on Monday and bracing myself for new glasses.

I did select fabrics for the next applique block in my 25 block applique quilt, marked up the background square for placement, and created templates to draw around for each required shape.  So that's all in my carry-around project case for the next time I feel like doing some applique.  Never did get to do any cross-stitch this week.


I discovered today that for almost two years in my new abode I have been unknowingly living within reach of the Aladdin's cave known to muggles as Coleman's Craft Warehouse.  It's like a Hobbycraft where everything is tidy, good quality, and reasonably priced.  DH took one look and immediately suggested that he carry the money while we were in there.

The retail area extends around the corner from  what you can see in this picture.  Towards the back left there was a long table with about 15 ladies having a scrapbooking class and they run a programme of demos and classes.  I would say the shop is about 65% scrapbooking but that encompasses a huge amount of things I can use in my hobbies like various flavours of Mod Podge, crackle glaze, esoteric glues, cutters, punches, fancy wallpapers, papier mache and MDF boxes and shapes, charms etc etc.  Other useful things are a selection of jewellery making tools like needlenose pliers and soft wire  (useful for dollshouses, spangling lace bobbins etc.), a small selection of quilting fabric on the bolt, some yarn and haberdashery, lots of stamping suppliers (useful motifs, stamping inks etc. for dollshousing), and various other treasures and gift items. Definitely a shop to go back to and to take any crafty friends/relations that might visit us.

And of course I had my job interview earlier in the week.  I would say it went alright: for some of the questions my memorised answers were very apt, for others I had to bend the script to try to make it fit, and for a few questions I had no clue and ended up waffling.  I think they are probably interviewing quite a few people, probably in the double digits, and they said they would let me know in a couple of weeks with successful candidates looking at a mid-November start date.  I'm still feeling ambivalent about whether leaving my current job to go for this one will be the right choice, but I don't have to worry about a decision until I find out if I made it through the selection process.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Competency-based job interviews should be banned

Most of my free time and mental energy this week has been focused on getting ready for a job interview on Tuesday.  Back in the day, I used to be quite successful at interviews - when all's you had to do was look intelligent and make a good impression with your CV and qualifications.

But now it's all "Tell me about a time when you..." followed by some completely artificial question that requires you to delve into the most ancient history, bend facts, and do your best impression of a professional actor as you try to present your over-rehearsed/under memorised script in a coherent and plausible fashion. I don't have a very good memory, plus my 'achievements' from up to five years ago feel like they happened in another lifetime, and I'm not very good at spinning BS.  The only way I can survive is to write down what I've been doing in each job before I leave it, so that I have something to memorise for the next set of interviews.   It seems to me that these competency-based interviews, where they are literally counting your buzzwords and scoring you on whether you've used the right key messages, are like some bizarre form of Bingo that favours those who 'talk the talk' without necessarily being able to 'walk the talk'.  Bleah.  Wish me luck because I will need it big time.

So the main craft activity this week has been knitting (re-knitting) the Rowan Summer Tweed Cardigan.  I laboured back up to the armholes for the third time, and have now completed one front and am working up the second one.

I've also done a bit of cross-stitch, and finished the first sample of Bucks Point bobbin lace.

I've started a second sample of Bucks Point but haven't got very far.  I've also done some more piecing for the Friendship Braid Table Runner.  I had so many pieces cut that I'm making three: one long one for us, and two short ones for my m-i-l and a friend.

The plastic underbed boxes I ordered for the dollshouse room turned up and they fit perfectly into the cupboards.  So I've been able to unpack the various excess furniture pieces from their hiding places in cardboard boxes, and lay them out in plain view on a layer of bubble wrap in the boxes.  Four boxes then stack on top of each other inside the 60cm wide cupboard.

DS also kindly put together the IKEA desk which fits perfectly into the bend of the cellar stair. Yesterday I screwed the two IKEA legs onto the bit of leftover worktop and attached the back of it to the wall to make a second desk.

Can you spot the design flaw?  Look closely...

Gold star if you spotted that the  blue drawer on the IKEA desk is completely blocked by the worktop desk. So either I don't use the drawer at all, or I will have to cut away the corner of it so it slides under the worktop.  Even then it will hit the desk leg after a few inches.  On the plus side, the two work surfaces are almost exactly the same height so it creates a nice little L-shape to work at.  No excuse now (except perhaps the drawer...) not to get busy with the minis again.

We had some good news - the brickie that had the heart problem has unexpectedly returned to work after all, so our builder thinks he can start the repairs on our boundary wall (that I've been asking about since February) possibly as soon as next week.  That will be good because it's been really autumnal here, cool and wet so I was worried that the weather wasn't going to be any good for using mortar by the time the builder had another brickie free in October.  He's also cut down his cost estimate which is really helpful.  It will be great to get that work done this year. So next weekend we need to move everything in the garden away from that run of wall, and I need to cut down the rudbeckia even though it's still in flower, because it's in the way as well.  I'm going to run some hazard tape on canes around the flowers I don't want them to step on, that are too near the work area.  They'll be bringing in scaffold as well so there will be a fair bit of traffic, just hope it doesn't churn up the garden too much.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Burdened by my stuff

It's been a bit of a tough week, as you may know if you read my previous Extra Post 2. There were times when I was really wondering why on earth I had so much dollshouse stuff and if I even wanted it all. As I unpacked the stash I inherited from my sadly-missed friend, I was wondering if someone would eventually be doing the same with my stash(es).  I think once I have a desk set up I want to go through all my dollshouse projects to see what still needs doing to them and whether I still want to keep each one. Then once all the work is done, I need to go through the remaining stash and see if I can't considerably whittle it down.  I'm looking into joining the nearest dollshouse club, so I may be able to re-home things there once I'm ready.


Earlier in the week, in between bursts of unpacking, I finished off the dressmaking mannequin. The measurements are similar to mine, some may be a cm or two out but it's a reasonable representation of me.  The neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding and the bottom of the cover is cinched in with a drawstring.

sooooo flattering.....  :(

As a reward for finishing the mannequin, which I had been procrastinating about for some time, I have cut out a Friendship Braid tablerunner using instructions from the Craftsy video by Debbie Caffrey for easy rotary cutting using a HST ruler and 2.5 inch strips. It's going together fairly quickly and I think I am going to have pieces left over so I may make a smaller one for m-i-l.


The Knitmore Girls podcast has a segment called 'When Knitting Attacks' and I've certainly been attacked by mine this week.  I've been knitting on the Rowan Summer Tweed cardigan, and I got as far as casting off for the armholes.  It wasn't until I held it up to check for length that I realised I had completely forgotten to decrease for the front neckline slopes.  So I ripped out half of it and started over.  I soon got myself into a complete muddle trying to translate three sets of flat knitting instructions into one set of knitting-in-the-round instructions, and ended up having to make a spreadsheet showing row-by-row shaping from the waist upwards (not helped by an apparent error in the stitch count for the back).

So I laboriously knit it back up to the armholes and tried it on my mannequin to see how it was looking for length and fit.

Length looks good
But way too much fullness in the back

I know from having used this yarn before that the finished garment will grow even more, so with a certain amount of bitter resignation, I ripped it back to the waist AGAIN and now I'm reknitting and eliminating the back increases.  Grrrr.  Hope the blessed thing fits when it's done.

Other stuff

Otherwise this week I've started the first bobbin lace pricking in Bucks Point lace, and I'm getting on ok apart from the thread is much finer and I've had some trouble seeing what's going on when I've gone wrong.  I've knocked out a few more 10x10 squares of cross stitching and was able to scroll the frame on by an inch or so to progress the pattern - so I can see the halfway point but I'm not there yet.

And today I took a pack of plastic plant labels and a chinagraph pencil out to the garden, and stuck a label into all the perennial plants that came up and surprised me this summer, so that I know where they are once they disappear into the ground again.  We also entertained the neighbours by estimating how high a tree we could plant in the garden without blocking our satellite dish.  This involved DH manoeuvring an 18m construction of bamboo sticks duct-taped together into one long length while I stood on a ladder sighting along the satellite dish arm.  Then I went in the house and called out directions for where he should move the 'tree' to block out the view of the new flats being built at the bottom of the garden.  We will dig up some of our shrubs this autumn and plant the tree, which needs to have a maximum height of 5m so I need to look in my plant books to choose one.  It will only partially help with the privacy issue because the block of flats is so tall.

Extra Post 2: More unpacking of dollshouses

I've been on holiday this week from work, and I've spent several hours each day unpacking dollshouses, dollshouse stash, and trying to organise it all.  It's all been a bit chaotic because in our last real house, most of the stash had to stay in the attic which made it difficult to keep organised and it all turned into a bit of a gloryhole.  Then the last two and half years, I was accumulating stuff independent of the stash which was in storage while we moved house. And to top it off, I lost a dear friend last year and inherited her not inconsiderable stash as well.

I have to confess there were a few days this week where I was very heavy of heart, and feeling very overwhelmed and burdened down by the sheer amount of stuff. My new dollshouse room became increasingly trashed with stuff piled everywhere waiting for homes or waiting to be grouped like with like. Plus there were some very sad moments as I unpacked my friend's stash and recognised many projects we had done side by side at our former dollshouse club, or gifts that I had given her or she had given to me.

But I persevered, and DH helped by taking moutains of bubblewrap, tissue paper and cardboard to the recycling station. Eventually the last box and house was unpacked and the pipeline of bits and pieces needing to be grouped came to an end.  Then I could start looking at how much I had of each type, and how that could be stored.  I went out to a bargain store called QD and picked up five big cereal containers which (with lids discarded) made great containers for the strip wood, mouldings, balsa, sheet wood, and round sticks. I also got some plastic shoe boxes and big tupperwares. And I've ordered some plastic underbed boxes online which will fit into the cupboards for storing excess furniture.

Just some of the many cardboard boxes

The typical gloryhole needing untangling

Horrible mess of wood stash being sorted on counter, yet another heartsinking box being opened.

Piles and rubbish all over the floor

But after a lot of hard work, it is largely under control now.  Today I spent a couple of hours sorting all the smaller accessories into labelled boxes, so the only big job left is to sort all the tiny metal hinges, door knobs, beads and findings.  When the bedboxes arrive, I will unpack all the furniture boxes and sort them out into the new boxes, and hopefully the wallpaper as well.

I'm not going to make any hasty decisions, but I think some of my older projects may need to be re-homed or dismantled. I think it may be time to streamline the collection to the things I really like.

More houses and room boxes

1:24 scale Thatched cottage

Oops, kitchen chair needs a bit of attention!

Straightened up - several pieces of furniture had fallen over but only the chair was broken

1:12 conservatory - very hard to get all the wrapping out of the front french doors, and it was all a bit tumbled about inside.

1:12 attic room

No damage as everything was glued down. This is one of the projects that I may try to find a new home for.

1:12 Christmas scene in cling film to keep the dust off.

1:24 Fisherman's Rest Tea Rooms

Oh dear, earthquake in the tea room, but the English ladies are keeping a stiff upper lip about it.

Straightened out and on display

Hobbit hole spilling out of a copy of the Hobbit, Gandalf however has taken a tumble.

Another 1:12 Christmas scene inside a very battered gift bag.

1:24 Georgian house, unfinished.

I bought this Georgian house and I've never been able to decide if it is whimsically rustic or just crudely made. I was going to try to furnish it as if it were 1810 but got a bit discouraged at how rough everything is.

Cute 1:48 house, just needed a bit of straightening up.

Oh dear, 1:12 bookend scene has a broken table leg and the cat's tail has snapped off!  I've glued the table, and DH superglued the cat's tail (superglue hates me and never dries when I try to use it)

1:12 Georgian room box I made on the Mulvaney's workshop
With its Art Nouveau furniture unwrapped.

1:12 1930s hair salon which was my friend's unfinished project

1:48 New Orleans townhouse - this is in a right state and to be honest I just shut the front again, I will sort it out another time.

1:12 Room box fantasy of my dream room

1:48 Halloween house - I've since bought some more halloweeney accessory kits for this that I need to put together.

The growing pile of accessories needing sorting.

Furniture kits above, wallpaper below.

There was more, but I stopped taking pictures because I was so overwhelmed. Mostly smaller projects and 1:48 scenes.

There's one more house, my biggest house, to unwrap - the one I call the Vic-war-gency house because the time periods are so muddled in it. But I think it is safer in its box until the kitchen fitter has come back to re-do the plinth, which hopefully will be in the next couple of weeks.

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