Wednesday, 2 July 2014
My giant dollshouse - some progress at last
Blogging from work again because the new broadband doesn’t go live until 8 July. DS also made the home situation worse by using up my entire 1GB data allowance on my ipad (which would normally last me a month) in the first week after we brought him back from uni, so I only had my smartphone for a few days! He has now bought me a PAYG sim to tide me over until my data resets, plus I have upgraded my contract to 5GB.
We were away on the weekend in a very rickety hired van, visiting three big antiques warehouses in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Manchester, looking for furniture for the new house. It was quite fun but at the same time very exhausting because these places were huge and we really had to motor through all the aisles and booths, just scanning constantly for furniture that might match our shopping list. We want to go back to the Lincolnshire place in the car in future, it’s only a two hour drive and it had four buildings stuffed full of all kinds of stuff (Hemswell Antiques Centre).
But we did quite well, I wish I could blog photos but that will have to wait for the broadband. DS is grumbling and asking why we couldn’t have just got stuff from IKEA, you can’t explain to a teenager the difference in buying something in solid wood, beautifully crafted and with a legacy of past usage. And with the current market downturn for brown furniture, it’s actually cheaper to buy these lovely pieces than it would be to buy new chipboard/veneer rubbish. It was a bit scary spending that much money all at once, but we had planned for it and I’m really pleased with what we found:
- A Victorian pine cupboard-on-cupboard to go in our hall as a linen cupboard
- A walnut compactum wardrobe for my bedroom
- An Edwardian walnut ladies’ dressing table – it needs restoration but I got it for a song, we’re taking it to ‘furniture hospital’ on Saturday to see what it will cost to refinish
- A pretty little Edwardian? chair to go in front of the table, with marquetry inlay
- A handsome chest of drawers with marquetry detailing on the drawers
- A really interesting display cabinet which was labelled ‘Victorian chiffonier’ but I think is actually an Arts and Crafts cupboard. It also needs some TLC to restore a missing gallery on the top.
- A stack of four Wiernacke bookcases with sliding glass fronts
- A brass fender for the fireplace we are reinstating, and a mirrored Edwardian wooden overmantel to go above.
- A 1920s watercolour of DS’s Oxford college (random find that DH just happened to notice on the wall of a venue)
- A brass framed convex ‘porthole’ mirror
Thanks to much help from experienced dealers at the venues for stacking pieces in the van, and a quick trip to IKEA to buy 10 of their cheap fleece blankets for padding as we had run out and were having to fish clothes out of our suitcases as makeshift substitutes, we got it all home and somehow DS and DH staggered up the stairs with them. Luckily the wardrobe came apart into several pieces. I’m pleased with my room now, and I think it must look a little like how it would have been when our house was built in 1875. I will take some pictures once we have broadband.
Things are also starting to move on with the house. We’ve chosen our kitchen design and the company we will go with, and they should start work at the end of July. I know there will be a few weeks of chaos but it should be lovely when it is finished. They are also going to open up the doorway between the kitchen and dining room and refinish the floors in both rooms, as well as sorting out the overhead lighting in the kitchen.
Meanwhile the broken Victorian fireplace was ripped out yesterday and carted off to a specialist place in Leicester for renovation. They started at 8am and for about 90 minutes the house was shaking with all the pounding and grinding as they chiselled out the marble surround from the plaster and disconnected the cast iron insert. They also chiselled up the modern brick hearth in the dining room where the replacement fireplace will go, meaning that floor is ready for refinishing now. I think I’ve found a joiner/carpenter to refit the missing picture rails and window trim, still waiting for his quote but hoping he will come through. Sadly our first builder has evidently decided he’s not interested in the job because he hasn’t responded to my subsequent calls and he sent back the details of the trade-only kitchen design the company sent to him. I felt rather annoyed about that, I spent over an hour going over the brief with him and how long would it take to send a short email or text ‘Sorry I’m too busy’ instead of just vanishing. I’m still trying to find a builder, I’m on about my fifth recommendation now and hoping that guy will come early next week to view the site. We’ve got permission from the Council to prune the trees and fell the Eucalyptus monster in the back garden, and the tree surgeon is coming on Saturday. And I managed to fix and reinstate the toilet that broke less than a week after we moved in, and touch wood it isn’t leaking yet so hopefully it is okay now.
Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about my hobbies although it feels like the house is turning into a hobby in a way, like a giant, very expensive dollshouse!
This week I finished the lace yoke for the Low Tide cardigan. I had to rip out half the back yoke and re-knit because I kept losing track of the fairly simple pattern. Even now that I’ve blocked the three pieces, I can see they aren’t identical but nobody will be looking at my back and front simultaneously so it should be fine. Now I’ve got to pick up along the bottom edge to knit the body downwards, and I’m having my usual problem with counting accurately for any number greater than 10. After counting and re-counting last night I had to give up as I was too tired after all the plumbing work on the toilet.
I’ve also started a new lace shawl, which is a normal triangular shawl but I am making the pattern up as I go along using stitch patterns from the Shetland Lace book that I bought recently. I started in stockinette with a row of eyelets partway through, and then did a stripe of ‘Mrs Hunters’ pattern which is an unusual garter ground pattern, and now I am doing a more open pattern of eyelets on a stockinette ground. It is good commuter knitting and was also good for the van trip.
I’ve started to set up the knitting room with some Expedit bookcase units from IKEA. I had a 16-square unit that I got on eBay, and then I spotted that the 4-square low units were on sale for £19.99 when we went to IKEA to get DS a mattress. I bought four of them because they are perfect for fitting under the angle of the roof. Typically I received flak from the ‘boys’ questioning why I was wasting time shopping when we were there for a mattress, but once they saw how perfectly they fit under the roof, DS wanted his own set for his wargaming attic room so I felt vindicated. Otherwise all the craft stuff is still in bags on the floor in both the sewing, knitting and dollshouse rooms. I don’t feel very motivated to do much with it until the rest of my stash turns up in three weeks from storage. Plus I am on the lookout on eBay for a few more Billy bookcases to complete the planned design/storage wall in my sewing room.
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